Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot hot heat

S - 7000 yards
B - 237.2 miles
R - 30 miles

Time - 17.39 hours

As the second half of my triathlon season rolls around I can't help but get excited for some upcoming races.  I've never created a separate "schedule" page on the ol' blog so I thought I'd take this opportunity to lay out August to November!

August 20th - Age Group Nationals in Burlington, VT (1.5k/40k/10k)
September 10th - White Lake International in White Lake, NC (1.5k/45k/10k) OR Best of the US in Gulf Shores, AL (1.5k/40k/10k)
September 25th - Augusta 70.3 in... Augusta, GA (1.2/56/13.1)
October 8th - Myrtle Beach Triathlon in.....surprise, Myrtle Beach, SC (1k/45k/11k)
October 29th - Beach to Battleship Half in Wilmington, NC (1.2/56/13.1)

This looks like a lot of racing (and I suppose it is) but Coach Desert Dude has assured me that I'll be more than ready for the "A" races.  I'm not sure if I've ever really mentioned it here on this blog but I'm guessing that most people know my ultimate goal in triathlon is to race as a professional...  I'd really like to qualify for my pro card eligibility at Augusta 70.3; I think that race and my hopeful fitness levels give me the best chance to do so this year.  Top 3 OA at AG Nationals also qualify, but I'm not sure I'm quite fast enough at that distance to compete with some of the people that will be racing there for a top 3 spot.  I think it's certainly in my reach to be top 10 OA in Burlington, but top 3 would be a tough nut to crack :/

I have to look at these things as objectively as possible because while I put pretty high expectations on myself (and others do too, seeing how much I train) I have to keep a cool ahead when it comes to assessing actual ability.  I've only been swimming for three years and while I've made a lot of progress, I still give up some not insignificant chunks of time to the top swimmers.  My cycling is definitely good, but I gave up ~8 minutes to the top amateur on the bike in New Orleans (luckily, I out ran him! But not by 8 minutes...) so I've got some FTP to increase.  I think, as surprising as it may be, my run has become my "most improved" this year.  I've been running now for about 3.5 or 4 years and this is the first year where I've really been able to run at or above my supposed potential in triathlons.  A 1:21:xx run in a half is enough to make up ground on almost everybody except for some pros and very fast amateurs.  While I didn't swim in NOLA and WL I hope to better those run times at Augusta and B2B.

I've been training "correctly" now for about 26 weeks so there's been some definite improvement but 26 weeks really isn't that long of a time in this sport!  As Coach always reminds me, it takes a LONG time to get really good at this; and even if I never become a "competitive" pro I'd still like to be able to say that I competed at the highest level in something!  Dare to dream, right!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Twice as Stumpy

S - 10,000 yards
B - 122 miles
R - 35.8 miles

Time - 13.25 hours

So there are two main themes this week: the first was returning from Santa Barbara after an AMAZING 2+ week trip there with MOOSE and it was very saddening to return but return I did; the second theme was a double race weekend at Stumpy Creek (International Saturday and Sprint Sunday!) in Mooresville.  I felt pretty sluggish across all three most of this week so was a bit apprehensive going into the race on Saturday, especially considering the ridiculously stacked field.  Due to Stumpy being a double points race in the NCTS, every fast person in NC showed up it seemed.  Perusing the participant list made me think top 10 was going to be a good day for me, although in the back of my head I felt I could manage top 5 on a good day.

Stumpy Creek International: 1500m/27mi/10k

Swim 1500m (ish!) in 25:09 (15th)

Well, just like in Latta, my swim had timing chip band issues.  This time it was not due to a crappy band but primarily to a crowded first 200m with the very large open field.  I started off on the left behind Scott and for 3+ minutes it was a maelstrom!  I felt someone's hand hit my leg and slide down; taking with it the chip strap.  It maintained its position for a little while but after a bit the kicking moved it down around my ankle and I had to stop to put it under the leg of my suit.  I stopped swimming the middle of the pack and I'm sure some people got mad but whatever, it wasn't my fault.  I took a relatively short amount of time to replace it under the suit leg and get back going again.  Unfortunately I had lost my position and my rhythm and played catch-up the rest of the swim.  At around 1000m I caught Stacy and Tom and as I passed Stacey got on my feet and swam behind me the rest of the way until at the last turn buoy I forgot to turn left and went a bit past before realizing my mistake and heading in towards the finish.  I saw the clock at swim exit and was pretty peeved at myself for a horrible swim time (although, Wistoff and Soko are 19ish minute 1500m swimmers on real courses so their fastest 22 minute swims today tell the tale) and ran up to my bike thinking my day was off to a bad start.

T1 - 00:50 (17th)

Put my helmet on, took off my speedsuit and put on my shoes before replacing my chip band on my ankle and headed out on the bike.  With no watch, I was unsure how fast my T1 was (I was assuming it was really bad) but it turned out to be right in line with most people's; a welcome change.

Bike - 1:06:45 (3rd)

Passed a couple of people initially on the bike before getting to the first sustained climb and while out of my saddle my right hamstring suddenly locked up and I was forced to stop and get off my bike to stretch it out; at this point I was both upset about my swim mishaps and so was only even angrier as I got back on my bike.  My lower quads felt absolutely horrible and I was curious to how the rest of the bike would play given my cramping issue less than 5 minutes into the ride...  Donny caught me shortly after I got going again and we managed to set a good pace before catching Duncan and Scott, but only Duncan came with us as we went up a hill.  As we went past I could heard something rubbing on Scott's bike as he stood up but I couldn't say anything since I was breathing so hard (Donny rides up hills SO HARD it's unbelievable).  For the nest 30-40 minutes we all rode together and caught sight of Mark Carey up ahead and finally caught him at about 55 minutes and the rest of the way was just surviving the Masters Open slug-fest happening with me as an innocent bystander!  Rolled into T2 behind Mark and Donny...

T2 - 00:54 (14th)

Took off helmet, grabbed number and put on my shoes, not necessarily in that order and headed out on the run course eager to catch Donny and Mark.

Run - 35:52 (2nd)

Once out on the run I put the hammer down for the first 5 minutes to try and pass Mark and Donny to put a nice gap on them initially and hope that out of sight meant out of mind.  For the first time today, I finally felt good but had no watch so could not really tell how fast I was running.  Throughout the bike my quads were yelling at me and while tired on the run I felt smooth and fast (although I was a bit worried about my calves as there were some initial warning signs).  I tried to keep the pace high and the run went relatively smoothly through the first lap and at about mile 4 I looked back for the first time to see Clifford gaining on me; something inevitable that I felt would come eventually... He passed me about a half mile later but soon after I realized I was right behind Soko and passed him just before the long climb, which went much slower on this second lap!  I ran down the hill and around the field to cross the finish line in 3rd place OA, a pretty awesome result for me after a great run (although I had no idea how fast it was until they posted results later in the afternoon...).  Fortunately for me (and Clifford and potentially Wistoff) but unfortunately for him, Kenneth missed the turn-off to finish his second loop (and race) and continued on before realizing his mistake and turning around to finish properly, but pretty dejected.

I was really pleased with the result as despite a sub-par swim and bike I finished very well in the most well-represented NCTS race since I've been doing triathlons with a super awesome run split!  The run course at Stumpy is very difficult so to go under 36 minutes there is a big achievement for me (especially since last year's run split was 40:xx!!!)

Now, for Sunday!

Stumpy Creek 19.7: 750m/16mi/5k

A bit of a preface: I was incredibly sore/tight all Saturday afternoon and the feelings only abated slightly by Sunday morning.  Added to that I couldn't fall asleep Saturday night so the double race was leaving me extremely tired!  I should have had a 5hr energy on Sunday morning but forgot to buy one so substituted with a huge coffee.  A warning to all others that do double races: drink tons of water on the afternoon after the first race, not mountain dew!!

Swim 750m in 11:54 (4th)

I figured the main competition in this race would come from Fletch, Donny and Richard Bailey.  I knew that on a good day (and considering Donny and Fletch forgot their speed suits!!) I could gap them a little bit and in a race this short any gap would be beneficial.  So at the gun I sprinted all out for 200 meters before settling in (settling in is putting it a bit mildly, I was still going really hard, I just naturally slowed down!) at the first turn buoy.  At this point, I was sitting 3rd in the wave with a 30-50m gap on the two guys out front (although I had pre-judged them to not be overall competitors...) so I pressed onwards, maintaining a fairly good, smooth rhythm and exited the water still in 3rd place.  I turned around and with a quick glance didn't see anyone close so I ran hard into transition.

T1 in 00:57 (17th)

Put on helmet, took off suit, put on shoes, ran out; not sure why I was slower today than yesterday...

Bike 16 (actually 15) miles in 38:21 (5th)

Headed out on the bike in 3rd but quickly caught and passed the two swimmers.  From that point on I just pushed hard and rode solo, only breaking the monotony at turns and intersections.  I kept the pace high and gradually lost sight of anyone behind even on long straightaways so I knew my gap was growing.  At about mile 11-12 there was an awkward bump that launched my bike computer off the side of the road!  Now, with a normal computer I wouldn't have worried about it but given that this was my precious multi-hundred dollar Garmin I couldn't exactly justify sacrificing my watch for this race!  So after a very brief moment of thought I grabbed the brakes, slowed down enough to make a u-turn and went back to where I thought it went.  After a bit of searching I managed to find it and stuff it in my shirt before getting back on my way.  I hate making excuses (well, sometimes), but I lost a LOT of time here as the watch was off in a ditch and slowing down from 26mph to 0 and making a u turn and looking for a tiny object was a frustratingly time-intensive process.  As I got going again I looked back down the long straightaway and saw a tiny orange kit in the distance and assumed it was Donny.  I got back on the gas and finished strong down the hill into T2, a little annoyed but with a decent gap.

T2 in 00:47 (33rd)

Took off helmet, put on socks (I had developed a couple of chafe spots yesterday with no socks and wanted to make sure they didn't get worse today) and shoes then grabbed my number and sunglasses and headed out of transition.

Run 5k in 18:46 (7th)

As I was getting onto the course I saw Donny coming into the rack so I figured my 1st place was safe.  I'd like to say that I made myself run hard and leave it all out on the course in the quest for a fast run time but in all honesty, I pretty much mailed it in on the run knowing that I had the victory well in hand.  I came around the track and I saw Richard Bailey had made up some good time on me so as I finished he came in relatively soon thereafter.

All in all, a solid performance and good weekend/week!  I was annoyed that I continue to experience these strange mishaps in each race but as time goes on and I get more experienced hopefully they'll slowly disappear 

Monday, July 11, 2011

SB Part 2

S - 9600 yards
B - 239.6 miles
R - 38.7 miles

Time - 22.74 hours

This week started off with me feeling a bit sluggish, but luckily we celebrated July 4th with a trip to 6 Flags in Valencia.  To put it mildly, it was awesome.  One might expect an amusement park to be crowded and miserable on July 4th but after an hour or so the crowds dissipated (many discouraged due to the high temperatures) and we basically had our way with the rides.  We went on almost all of them and the best one twice.  I felt funny once I went to sleep that night as my head was still looping around and spinning as I was laying there... My running and biking legs felt like they took a little nap from Monday through Wednesday but luckily by Thursday they seemed to be back in action.

I felt very strong on the bike Friday-Sunday, which was good since on Friday Moose and I did Gibraltar (~7mi climb up to ~4000 ft, one that Lance is said to frequent during Tour prep), on Saturday we did a loop out to Solvang and back of 4+ hours and then Sunday I did Gibraltar again solo but this trip was timed...

My running and swimming volume were definitely a bit low this week, a fact I'll contribute to a bout of laziness and a bout of fatigue.  Maybe those two go hand in hand for me? Unfortunately (very unfortunately), I hop on the plane back to CLT tomorrow afternoon and leave this all behind :(

The consolation is that I get to race twice next weekend, at Stumpy International and Stumpy Sprint!  The doubled points race on Saturday looks like it is going to be one of the more stacked fields in an NCTS race so it will be interesting to see how low down I finish!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Santa Barbara is awesome, part 1

S - 20,000 yards
B - 300.8 miles
R - 41.9 miles

Time - 27.28 hours

If there is a better place to be in June/July than Santa Barbara, CA I would love to be there, because I cannot possibly imagine it.  It has been a so-called "warm" 75-80 degrees in the afternoons around here and with that temperature plus no humidity it's hard to even put into words how welcome a change from Charlotte that has been this week!  Pools that are outdoors, riding that is on mountainous and exceptionally scenic roads, and running that is along the Pacific Ocean all adds up to one amazing experience.  Well that and staying in a sweet house with some sweet company!  Those are all ingredients that add up to a super sweet week of training and hanging...

Despite missing two swim workouts this week I still managed to log 20k yards, which - while not an all time high - is a lot when factored in with all the other stuff.  About half the swims this week were meters and the other half were yards and one was a double swim day; something I've never done before.  8300 yards in 12 hours is definitely a "career" high.  I was hoping to "compete" in the 3 mile OWS that's part of the Semana Nautica series of races that's going on this week.  To count in the race, you can't wear a wetsuit, and when the water is a stated 65 degrees and the last open water swim I logged was at Tri Latta in 88 degree water well, 65 degrees was a bit too much! I tried, admittedly, but couldn't put my head under water without hyperventilating and having a mild panic attack!  So I got out and got some breakfast and waited for Moose and the others to finish...

The real good time was logged on the bike this week.  My hour totals in the saddle were ~17 hours which, out here in this hilly terrain equaled 300 miles but at home in Charlotte would be closer to 340-350 miles.  But while it's fun to chase a mileage number, the real number that matters is the time.  I had to do a great deal of riding by myself unfortunately since Moose doesn't usually log 15+ hours/week on the bike (yet) so I had a lot of solo time!  Oh well, just makes me mentally tougher!!

I had some good runs this week on some hilly terrain and some flat terrain and saw some amazing sights and ran on an amazing track and amazing and amazing and amazing!  Consistency is the name of my game.

A little over a week left here in SB and that's about as far ahead as I care to think right now... Ready, go! Happy 4th of July!