Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 4/52

S: 16,400 yds
B: 216 mi
R: 45.8 mi

Time: 23.00 hrs

Well, as even the most casual of readers can observe, this week was a big one.  In terms of hours, it's the most I've ever logged since I started logging multi-sport way back when in 2008.  If this is what it takes to get better (and it is) then I'm going to do it, because that is how I roll.

There wasn't much remarkable about my swimming this week; I didn't have any spectacular workouts that stand out but I think the take-away from that is that even when I'm swimming very well (which I am) I no longer find it remarkable.  It no longer surprises me when I manage to hold 1:12-3's on 22 100s on a 1:25 base.  That has become the new standard.  Not once this week did I have to swim by myself, which obviously makes a humongous difference when it comes to being able to push oneself to swim fast.  I know a lot of people don't have the benefit of having the awesome workout buddies that I do and I feel sorry for them.  They should just move closer to Charlotte.

Obviously biking is where I spent the most time this week.  While 200+ miles in the saddle isn't remarkable in any particular way for me, it is remarkable that it is in January.  Most of the riding was at an aerobic/tempo effort although I did have one workout of 12x30secs max, 30 sec easy.  I haven't yet figured out how best to approach this workout but after a bit of discussion with Brian I have a new strategy that I will try and implement next Tuesday.   One thing I've noticed with this many miles on my road bike (as my P3 has yet to arrive) is that my hamstrings were a little sore after Sunday's ride.  Not in a sore-to-the-touch kind of way but I just noticed that I had hamstrings, which normally I do not.  I will definitely be stronger after this week, especially considering 4 of my 5 rides this week were Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday.

Running was consistent this week, which is exactly what I should be looking for.  I had one long run and one light fartlek/interval workout and felt surprisingly good on my runs over the weekend, both of which followed (although  not immediately) 3+ hour bike rides.  In fact, on Saturday I felt so good I almost couldn't believe it as it was probably one of the best runs I've had this year.  Not for any one particular reason, but just because of all the combined reasons (not the least of which included the AMAZING weather this weekend).

Next week is likely to be more of the same goodness, although I am going to change the way I "log" swimming as up until this point I think it has slightly boosted my hourly totals.  For example, I've always logged a 3000 swim as 1 hr (2:00/100m), counting that "extra" as overall training time.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), however, I have not had a swim that was 2:00/100m in a very, very long time (even including rest time).  So from now on I'll just log actual time spent in the pool as in, look at the clock when I get in and look at the clock when I get out!  Simple enough, not sure why I've never done that before.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dear Blog

Swim: 11,300 yds
Bike: 162 mi
Run: 41 mi

Time: 18.9 hrs

Another week, another set of consistent workouts, another batch of improvement.  I'm recovering from workouts very quickly and eating a lot.  Ahh, to be 26.  For everyone out there older, I do not envy you.

The only real downside of this week was that I missed one swim workout due to some obligations (which I was more than happy to fulfill) on Friday out at the Whitewater Center.  I had a mediocre workout on Wednesday (times were still good but didn't feel particularly fish-y) and a good one on Thursday with Scott in the LC setup at the MAC but then wasn't able to swim again until Sunday.  What's most amazing to me so far (other than myself) is how quickly my standards change.  On Sunday I hit really great times for my 100s but I wasn't as pleased as I was a couple of weeks ago.  It's like I constantly raise my expectations each time and am not satisfied until I push the envelope a bit more.  That's a double-edged sword since it can either lead to total burnout (a la Nick ____) or to constant improvement and new PR's (a la Mr Woodbury).  Luckily, I'm around Scott a lot more often so I'm hoping that's the route I take with swimming.  It's always best to surround yourself with people that are better than you.  Our new swim "group" consists of Selle (53 min swim at Louisville), Ashley (~28-29 minute 70.3 swims), Melissa (sub 23 minute 1500m swimmer), me (35 minute Triple T half swimmer!!), Scott (26 minute swims at two 70.3s in 2010), Sebastien (German Euro and they're always fast in the water).  I've certainly got the slowest swimming resume but I'm also the newest so with these people I'm looking to make the leap to that next level(s).

I had some very good bike rides this week, with two including some tough workouts (11x30sec zone 6, 3x3mins vo2 max) that show some good numbers according to Brian.  I am still learning what all these numbers mean and how they'll relate to triathlon but I certainly trust him to know what he means when he says "Your numbers look good."  I'll take that to mean "I am awesome."  Which I wasn't really in doubt of anyway, but it's always nice to hear affirmation.  Tongue in cheek people, tongue in cheek.  I haven't yet done a power test but from looking over some of my power metrics so far (since I've had the powertap and analysis software) my highest 20 minute power on a rolling course (just during general riding) is a hair over 300 watts.  Luckily I'm not especially heavy so anything close to that means fast bike splits, especially once I get on my new Cervelo and get aero.

I was consistent with my running again this week, only missing out on a total of 25 minutes of running as per the schedule.  That was also due - as with swimming - to being out at the Whitewater center for 8+ hours on Friday marking the CRC Trail race course with Marcus and Donny.  While it was at times frustrating that day, it was nice to hear people say that they appreciate how well-marked the course was; it's always nice to do things for a reason.  My long run was 12 miles (1:40:00) out on the Trails with 10 minutes of tempo on the Lake Loop.  The time was a bit longer than I was scheduled for but I knew I needed to make up some time from my missed run on Friday.  Also included in this week was a light workout of 20secs of fast paced running with 40sec recovery during which I averaged anywhere from 5:00 to 5:19/mi pace.  Just to get the legs moving a bit quicker.

Next week it's looking like I'll be on my bike a good bit more so it's time to stop typing and start recovering!

Monday, January 17, 2011

And so it begins...

S: 14,400 yds
B: 156 mi
R: 43 mi

Time: 18.76 hrs

Welp, this week marked my first week as a coached athlete and as the numbers show, it was a good one.  I feel like saying this is making me sound like a broken record, but I had some great swim workouts this week.  Being so new to swimming I hope that I can continue to say that for a good long while.  I wouldn't have thought I could improve so much, so quickly but the numbers don't lie.  At the beginning of last week on Monday we did a workout that consisted of 24x100 (3 on 1:25, 1 on 1:45) and I would say that of the "fast" 100s (first 3 of each group of 4) I managed to average 1:13-1:15.  On Wednesday of this week we did the same workout and I was 1:12-1:13 on each and on the last 3 100s I was 1:09, 1:08, 1:08.  Those are three of the fastest 100s I have ever done and they were at the end of a tough workout! Needless to say, I was pretty jacked up and happy about it. 

The biking saw the biggest increase this week, going from essentially 1-2 (max) rides a week for the past 12 weeks (including a couple weeks of zero...) to four this week, 2 including some light but difficult workouts.  The weather was not conducive to really enjoyable biking but that will begin to change as spring approaches. 

My running stayed very consistent this week and now that my runs are planned on the basis of time I have no excuses not to be consistent with my mileage.  The running was a bit treacherous on Monday in the snow (albeit fun), dreadful on Tuesday and Wednesday (treadmill), freezing on Thursday (outdoors...) and cold again on Friday and Saturday.  I had one workout that consisted of 10 minutes of tempo in the middle of my long run on Friday (long run is currently at 80 minutes).

All in all, a good week to get back to the grind.  New Orleans 70.3 is only 13 weeks away!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Last week on my own

S: 19,000 yds
B: 51 mi
R: 27 mi

Time: 12.5 hrs

Not much to say about this week other than the fact that I got some really good swimming in during my 6 sessions at the pool.  This is the most I've swam in about a year and my shoulders and arms felt pretty good!  My times haven't necessarily gotten a whole lot faster in that year but I do most of the swims on much shorter intervals.  For example, looking at a workout from about a year ago, I did 100 set on a 1:40 interval - usually coming in around 1:15-1:16? - and now I do 100s (mostly) on 1:25 intervals and come in between 1:13-1:15.  That's progress.  It takes about as long as "Titanic" but the end result will be equally spectacular.

Starting Monday of next week, I'll be receiving all of my workouts from Brian Stover of Accelerate3 coaching.  As I've mentioned before, I've always wanted the coach and feel like it's in my best interests to make this as serious a pursuit as I can.  If I want to reach the level that I want then I need to focus everything on trying to achieve that.  If it means I don't have much of a social life that's fine, because I didn't have much of one before now!  If it means that I have to make myself wake up early in the morning that's fine too, because waking up early as fun, right?? (That one will take some work).

Luckily I have very supportive friends and family and now an extremely knowledgeable and elite coach.  What could be better?  That's rhetorical, people.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What to look for in 2011

1) Improvement across all three sports
2) Sub 30 minutes half-ironman swim
3) Sub 1:30 half-ironman run
4) Numbers 2 and 3 together help me to a top-notch finish (amateur at IM events and OA at locals) in my 4 halfs next year

Now, lets take a moment to allow me to elaborate further on what I've mentioned so far.  A casual observer (or a pessimist, of which there are a great many around here) may choose to look at that and lay down the negativity.  I, on the other hand, choose to look at my triathlon glass as being half-full at all times!  My little ol' leggies are still very new to triathlon and I think I can make some pretty big leaps with the consistency I've had the past two years.

Now, let's move on to a more specific goal-setting process involving each sport.

1) In 2011 swim a total of 700,000 yards.  That'd be an average of roughly 13.5k a week.
2) Swim more long course

1) Ride 7500+ miles
2) Bike a 2:15 or better without a negative impact on my run
3) Learn how to effectively use a powertap
4) Have fun on my bike

1) Run 2000+ miles
2) Stay injury free
3) Run a 1:25-1:27 half ironman 13.1
4) Run with people more

I'd like to place in a top position in the NCTS series, qualify for IM 70.3 WC twice, and enjoy racing and training with friends.

I guess that about sums it up.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Where I stand these days

Where I stand (epic title, get used to it; that's how I roll)
As it relates to:

I've now been swimming for almost exactly 2.5 years.  Having never gotten in a pool to swim laps (and try to improve) until July of 2008 trying something new was scary and intimidating.  I remember way back in the day Jocelyn spent about 3-4 months trying to get me to go to a masters class with her and I always turned her down, citing the fact that I'd be demolished and embarrassed.  Or even better, that I didn't have any good swim apparel.  That is the best excuse in the world, bar none.

My swim totals from 2008 to 2010 looked a little like this 106850 (July-December) in 2008, 358615 in 2009 and 483506 in 2010.  Obviously, I've been trying to work on what has been my biggest limiter.  There were some ups and downs along the way.  One of my favorite swimming related trends is the fact that I've gotten slower every time I've gone to White Lake and swam 1.2 miles.  Case in point: 2009 - 31:59, 2010 - 32:08, 2010 Triple T Half - 35:something.  My downward spiraling trend will hopefully stop in 2011.

The only thing I can say with confidence with regard to swimming is two-fold:

1) I will be swimming a LOT in 2011. Like a lot a lot.
2) I've gotten faster, slowly.  My first open water 1500m swim was in Lake Norman in 2008 and it was 32 minutes.  My most recent open water 1500m was 23:38 (not a PR actually thanks to the wetsuit legal swim at OTM - 22:50) at Stumpy Creek.  I'll call that some sweet improvement, albeit 2 years in the making.

I can't say many negative things about my cycling in 2010.  The only thing I'd change in hindsight is biking more towards the end of the season.  Last year I was doing my biggest race in mid-November so I was doing a lot of riding in September/October.  This year I essentially stopped riding any decent amount after Louisville and was inconsistent with what riding I did.  That really brought the ol' averages down; I was headed towards a 7k+ mileage year but ended up coming in slightly under my 2009 totals.

As far as stand-alone biking, I managed to do two bike races this year, something I hadn't done since ye ol' College days.  Back at William and Mary I was a legend, the best bicycle races ever to grace the bricks at the UC.  Times have changed, however, and I was glad to be able to test my legs against some "real" cyclists.  Triathletes often tend to think of themselves as amazing cyclists but are quickly disproved when they foray into crits so I was expecting to be dropped in both of the crits for which I was signed up: Cat 4 and Cat 4/5 <35.  The two races were at 5 and 7:30 pm (roughly) and I somehow managed to win both of them.  Needless to say, I was surprised and pretty pumped up about it.

I was very pleased with my bike splits in almost all of my races this year (Cool Breeze and Over the Mountain being the exceptions) but the mantra of "There's no such thing as a good bike split and a bad run split" held true for me, which slightly marginalizes the fast bike times.  I should be able to run faster than a 1:32 in a half marathon so...did I bike too hard in NOLA and WL?  Those are questions that I aim to fix next year with the help of my coach, my powermeter, and another year of experience.

My expectations for riding with a powermeter in 2010:
1) Race smarter
2) Not necessarily bike a lot faster (i.e. sub 2:12:00), but be able to do close to that with less energy spent.
3) Run faster
4) Satisfy my ginormous ego with 1500+ watt sprints and 20++ watts/kg

Well, where to start with running.  Firstly, I've now been running for almost exactly 3 years.  After swimming, it's definintely been a limiter in races this year.  In New Orleans, I went from 1st AG at the start of the run to 2nd.  At White Lake, I went from 5th to 7th.  At a small sprint in KY I went from 2nd to 4th.  Stumpy Creek was the worst, going from 1st to 4th (getting to watch Scott sprint away from me, Tom Clifford blast past me and ol' man Frank Fawcett ease on by me...).  I know that I'm not a bad runner, I just haven't been able to race to what I believe is my potential.

I had a much better year of training as far as the run goes in 2010 versus 2009.  Last year I took multiple weeks off due almost wholly to injuries: two severely sprained ankles in February/June and a serious bout with ITB issues in October/November.  I believe I totaled almost 5-6 weeks off from running in 2009.  Not so this year; anytime I took off was due to other stuff.

Most running I did this year was aerobic.  "Base" zone running if you wish to use such terminology.  I rarely strayed out of my comfort zone.  Despite that, I managed to post some good stand-alone run times in 2010.  Corporate Cup Half-Marathon was a good race; Behme and I planned on running together and the first ten miles at 6:20 pace felt very smooth and after some encouragement from John I headed out on my own and forged ahead with the last 4 miles at just under 6 minute pace.  A mostly cruise-control half-marathon in 1:21:30.  I was really happy with that as it promised some faster half-ironman run times (obviously, I was faster but not as fast as I thought I could be, alas!).  The ING Georgia Marathon was also a good experience.  The first 17 miles went by with nary a problem and then the course got hard.  Really hard.  Gradual, long inclines followed by incredibly short, steep downhills  that absolutely murdered my quads and calves.  Our only goal for that race was sub 3 so to both come in under goal pace (albeit barely) was a nice consolation for not being able to walk for two days.

So this year I've been able to be more consistent, but I haven't necessarily improved much in 2010.  I think that consistency and injury-freeness will help out a lot for next year, however.  We shall see.

Next and last: Expectations for 2011 and beyonddd!!!