Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fake or natural; you be the judge...

S - 16,300 yards
B - 255.9 miles
R - 51.8 miles
Time - 23.89 hours

My favorite part of this week, other than doing a lot of GTWD, was my 15 minute change that affected my hydrodynamics, my aerodynamics, my weight, my homeostasis, and my looks.  This one change even costs under 20 bucks! What, you ask, is this amazing remedy to so many issues?  I got a haircut.  Boom.

I probably hadn't gotten a haircut in almost half a year.  To be honest, I'm not really sure when my last haircut was... It had gotten to the point where it looked like this (actually, it was much longer and more bad than that...)

Then, it got longer and even more blond(er?).  People kept asking if I had highlighted my hair but I swore that I had not...just a lot of playing outside and in the pool...

The haircut on Saturday made my afternoon.  It also made my Sunday workouts much easier.  I was cooler, I was more aero, I was lighter, I was faster, I was far better looking... Although not as good looking as Zac Efron :(

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This is dedicated to the flip turn

Ahhh...triathletes.  They love so many things about their chosen sport(s).  Many love being a bike geek; buying up all the latest and greatest tech-y gear that costs and arm and a leg and serves no real purpose.  Like that uber-sweet carbon fiber laced bike sock that has meta-compression technologies and creates a perfect union with your tri shoe? Gotta have it.  Ceramic bearings in your bottom bracket? Gotta have 'em.

Triathletes are SO willing to equip themselves with gear to make their lives easier and to make them better cyclists.  The list could go on and on and on and on ad nausea.  Yet, so many are against the flip turn.

What is it about flip turns that make triathletes so scared and pathetic?  Is it because it takes a while to learn? Well, you learned to use clipless pedals on your road bike (making you a better, more efficient cyclist).  You learned to use aero bars (making you a better, more efficient cyclist).  You learned how to use EZ-laces for your race shoes (making you a better, more efficient transition-er and runner).  You learned how to do a flying dismount/mount (making you a better, more efficient transition-er).  You learned, or tried to learn, correct run form (which took a very long time and hopefully made you a better, more efficient runner).  You practiced the high elbow catch (making you a better, more efficient swimmer).  Yet, you refuse to learn the flip turn.

"But there are no flip turns in open water swimming!"

Please.  Come up with something better than that.  This is a pathetic excuse.  There are also no store stops in triathlon racing.  Yet you do it in training.  There's no drafting on the bike in racing.  But you all love to draft in training.  There are no pull buoys in racing, but you certainly are addicted to it like it was cocaine in training.  Gimme something better than that; it holds no water with me.

"What's the point, I'll just be a little bit faster in the pool; there's no translation to racing."

Waitwaitwait.  Did you say: "I'll just be faster in the pool?"  I didn't listen to the rest of that because this is the important part.  So, you'll be faster in the pool.  That SHOULD end the story right there, yet triathletes love to say the rest of that sentence over and over again.  To swim fast in the open water (racing), you (presumably) need to swim fast in training.  Don't use "I don't flip" as an excuse because I beat you by 5s in that 200yd interval.  Learn how to flip turn, keep up with me, and then you'll truly have discovered why swimming with friends is so awesome.

"I get water up my nose."

Exhale when you're upside down, idiot.

"It's taking too long to learn how to do it properly"

The ULTIMATE issue with triathletes is that they have NO patience.  There's always got to be a short cut for something.  Oh, you didn't get faster in the 3 weeks you did masters swimming?  Aww, too bad.  HTFU and do it for a year.  Wow, you didn't improve your FTP by 50% after 3 months of indoor computrainer classes?  Whoaaaaa that's crazy.  You mean those new shoes didn't cut 10s/mile off your half-ironman run time?! Jeez, that's too bad!

Endurance sports are great because they are an exercise in progressive overload, patience, and consistency. Everyone can get to a high level.  Everyone.  That is my strong belief.  It may take some longer than others, but if you have the PATIENCE you can do whatever you want.  The problem with that is the word patience.  It seems like so many triathletes have a 3-4 year life span.  They get to be pretty good, or they get to a point where the next step is going to take a while and then that's it, they're done.  I can think of countless examples of this locally.  Everything worth doing takes time.  I didn't start flip-turning until late 2010.  I was scared, it was tough, I felt like I was dying every time I came up for air off a wall.  I distinctly remember Scott and I doing one of his training swims for Louisville that year at the Aquatic Center (set up LCM).  It was to be a 4000 continuous swim (shoot me).  My goal was simply to swim in his draft as long as possible.  We flip-turned the first 5-10 turns and that was it.  Open turns the rest of the way.  Eventually we both mustered up the courage to truly learn the proper flip turn and we are consequently both better swimmers because of that. It took time, it took feeling very silly (like pushing off after a flip and ending up at the bottom of the pool, or in the adjacent lane, or like a breaching whale), it took committing to sucking at something for a while.

Ultimately, if you're willing to do all the things cyclists do to become a better rider; you're willing to go through all sorts of weird stuff to become a better runner; why not approach swimming the same way? To be good, swim with and like the swimmers, bike with and like the bikers, and run with and like the runners.  Not hard.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Bank of HTFU

S - 15,000 yards
B - 261 miles
R - 37 miles
Time - 22.43 hours

This week started off with a fabulous day of driving.  The BEST part (yes, the BEST) about driving from NOLA/Gulf Shores to Charlotte is the fact that, through no fault of my own, I alwaysALWAYS lose an hour.  Seriously, what have I ever done to deserve such mistreatment? Unfortunately that fact is incontrovertible and is as certain as gravity.  Well, gravity doesn't exist when I'm running really fast, but that's besides the point.  My Monday consistent almost entirely of driving.  Somebody did indeed have a case of the Mondays.
The week quickly became a nice normal one, however, with my only "recovery" from the race last weekend coming in the form of two runs normally on my schedule which magically disappeared this week!  Unfortunately, this stupendous gift from above (/Brian Stover) did not hold true any more the rest of the week, as real work got started quickly.

Notable workouts include Tuesday's traditional Inside Out Slugfest, in which I did a lot more slugging than festing.  Wednesday had one of the best "track" workouts I've completed all year.  I say "track" because while it is scheduled like a "track workout" would be, I generally do it on the roads.  I have my freedom park loop that I really like and it provides a very honest course.  A track might be faster and a bit more predictable, but I have to get pretty jacked up to do well on one of those.  Sunday's ride was one of (if not THE) toughest rides I've ever seen on my schedule.  If completed properly, it would've contained 2 hours and 40 minutes at 3.7-4.2 watts/kg.  That's a lot of watts/kg.  I had a very good ride, but definitely cracked a little bit towards the end of the third (of four) intervals.

I really wish there was a bonk rock on this route.  I didn't BONK, per se...  I cracked.  I faltered.  I gave in.  I submitted.  I made a deposit of straight cash at the Bank of HTFU but it wasn't enough to prevent my last overdraft.

Enough of this bandying about with words.  This ride was great for my confidence.  At least, the confidence that I can still wring myself dry.  Time to really put the head down and bang out some solid weeks.  As seems to be the norm, when I got my next 2 week schedule today I had to shake my head a little bit at some of the workouts.  It is going to be amazing.  Amazingly debilitating.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alabama Coastal Triathlon

S/B/R/Time - minimal this week.  Weather + other "stuff" got in the way of any decent taper training this week.  Not that I would have gotten a taper really, thanks a LOT Brian! Ugh.  Regardless, the week was going to be pretty normal until a drive down to Fort Morgan, AL to spend some time at the beach with my family and race a fast olympic with fellow Stover disciple Chad Williamson.  A course we both did last year, so it would be a good test to see what (if anything) had changed with us (and the course).

Somehow, magically (again like last year), the race was announced to be 78 degrees in the morning despite being low 80s the day before, making it wetsuit legal.  I was annoyed by this.  How is it possible for an OCEAN to drop so much in temperature overnight?? I was intially planning on wearing my wetsuit but as time wore on I did some thinking and eventually decided to wear my Blue Seventy TX3000 one piece.  Ultimately I figured that in spite of the time I would save in the swim with the wetsuit, it was not worth enduring the warm waters, the long run up the beach, and taking it off.  I was happy with my decision.  Most people were not wearing a wetsuit as it turned out; I would doubt most Gulf Coasters own them ha!

Swim "1500m" in 16:33 (top 3 is as close as I can tell)

The first, most obvious, and only change to the course from the past year was that as opposed to a single "loop" 1500m swim this year it was going to be a double loop.  It would require the racers to head out into the surf from the beach (in a TT start every 5ish seconds), swim three sides of a square, get out of the surf onto the beach and cross a timing mat, then maneuver back through the waves and out to do the loop again. Oh, and then exiting and running up the beach to the timing mat.

(Mostly) needless to say I was a little unhappy about the set up for this swim.  Last year's swim was super easy and efficient.  It was also a lot closer to 1500m.  This swim may have been shorter, but the effort level was pretty darn high due to the entry/exit and the large swells present in the Gulf that morning.  The breakers weren't too bad but there were large rollers that made me a little seasick.

Chad and his racing buddy Lori started maybe 10-15s in front of me and I actually made up most of that just getting into the deeper water.  The way to the first buoy was the roughest but once we turned left we went with the existing current and it ''felt'' very, very fast.  The next left took us back up to the beach where I exited, ran across the mat, took a quick look back and waded back in to the water.  My HR was exceptionally high at this point so I took out the first leg of the second loop pretty easily.  There was a wetsuit wearer I had caught up with at this point so I just drafted off him to make my life a little easier.  The second loop was mostly uneventful but we did catch many later starters (and much slower swimmers) which made it a little more interesting.  I definitely swam over some people unexpectedly.  Oops.  It's hard when you're going so much faster.  Backdoor (frontdoor) brag alert.  I exited the water for the second time and ran up the beach, figuring I was close to the front and if anyone was in front of me they were a swimmer (and therefore not a biker).

T1 in 2:13

There was a long run to the bikes, but I was pretty efficient in transition and made my way out pretty quickly.

Bike 40k in 54:24 (1st)

Onto the bike I couldn't see anyone ahead of me although I knew there were. We had a nice headwind on the way out, which was expected, so I put my head down and started pumping out some watts.  After a minute or so I realized my Garmin wasn't reading Brian's disc powertap and so I had to fiddle around with the computer.  I only lost about ~2mins there, however, so no big deal.  (Joking).  The course was basically an out/back along Hwy 182 to a big ol' bridge; up and over that bridge then around behind said bridge, then up and over that bridge back east on 182.

After another couple of minutes I could see the lead motorcycle (pretty cool that this small race has a lead motorcycle for the cyclist in said lead position) and deduced with my magic eyes that there were two riders sharing the lead.  It had seemed to take me a while to catch them but once I got close it was obvious that I was going much faster than the two of them.  The guy in second was riding one of the lowest positions I've ever seen from behind with a decked out P3 (1080/disc, Ventus, etc) so I kind of expected him to try and go with me when I passed him and the dude with him (the other guy was obviously a swimmer).  Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for myself, he did nothing of the sort.  I didn't look back again until about 20mins in as I was beginning the bridge and I could see no one behind me.  With that sight inspiring confidence I climbed the bridge (pretty decent climb actually), descended and turned onto the horseshoe shaped road that went under and around to the other side.  As I was getting back onto the main road I saw that the "pack" including Chad was just turning off the bridge.

Heading down the bridge and back east I got a sweet, sweet tailwind and used it to full effect for the next several miles.  Average 28+ mph is a lot of fun.  Backdoor (frontdoor) brag.  Eventually the lead motorcycle turned me right to go into Gulf Shores State Park for another out and back spur of 6-7 miles.  The first part of this was into a slight headwind (northeast) then the road gradually turned left and became a tailwind.  After the turnaround I was able to get an idea of whatever gap I had and saw Chad pounding away behind me with a big gap on 3rd place.  I can't do math quickly enough so was unsure how much of a lead I had; in any case a lead is never big enough so I did my bestest to not slow down at all.

Eventually I got back on 182 and from there on it was frank and beans to the wall to the transition area.  I hopped off my bike with expeditiousness and ran across the mat.

T2 in 1:17

T2 was a quick affair and I was mostly perfect, although the insole of my Hyperspeeds have become less stiff and therefore tend to bunch up in transition.  This is probably my last race with them this year, however, so it is what it is.  I felt very warm in transition so I was nervous about the very sunny run.

Run 10k in 40:20 (2nd?) 

Heading out onto the run it was instantly obvious that it was going to be a very warm 6.2 miles.  The sun was out, it was blazing and I did not run fast.  This is one of the slowest 10ks I've had in recent memory and I'm mildly embarrassed that it was my time.  While I never should "give in" on any race I was fairly confident that I had a sizable lead on second place and therefore "gave in" a little bit.  I was either not ready, not capable, or not willing to subject myself to what would have been the misery of an actually "fast" 10k run in those conditions.  The way out was dead flat and with a tailwind (so it FELT really, really hot) and after the turnaround it was a headwind and dead flat (so it FELT hot and slow).  After it all, only one guy ran under 40 minutes (just barely) so it was obviously just a slower day than usual.  Last year I ran a 36:20 or thereabouts on the same course and I was honestly hoping to run a 35ish this year but it was just not going to happen this day.  All that being said, the rest of the run continued on rather uneventfully and I trotted slowly across the line to finish first in 1:54:45.  A pretty fast time on a fast course.

All in all, I was happy with the effort.  I can't really compare it to last year because the swim was much shorter (3 minutes?) and it was significantly hotter this year.  I was expecting to win this race and was happy to not disappoint myself (or my parents, who don't get to watch me race very often).  It was a good weekend of going fast and going very, very easy the rest of the time and relaxing on the beach.  The best part was that on Sunday and Monday the mornings dawned nice and cool (60-65 degrees) with extremely flat ocean conditions...  Doesn't it ALWAYS work out that way??

Monday, September 3, 2012

Now THAT is a week of training

S - 20,100 yards
B - 233.5 miles
R - 47.4 miles
Time - 23.9 hours

A solid three weeks ends with one of the bigger weeks I've had this summer.  There's no substitute for miles and yards and I tried to live that mantra as much as possible during this what-turned-out-to-be very humid week of August.  It's almost as though someone upstairs wanted to save money on their electricity bill and flipped off the limited AC we'd had through most of August.  I guess the switch-flipper wanted to see how we'd handle a little adversity!

I swam five times, ran six and biked five times to get me to the totals you see above.  This week I was really impressed with myself (as usual) because (it seems) countless times I felt awful during a run or bike warmup and managed to pull out a very good "workout."  Of the two run workouts I did, unfortunately I can only say that about one of them.  The two weekend rides began with my legs feeling like absolute no-watts-to-be-found bricks and the workouts themselves went surprisingly well! Swimming was...well, swimming.  Some good and some bad in there.  But still, I haven't hit 20k+ in a long, LONG time.  (too long).

This upcoming week looks to have a couple of "normal" training days then a drive down to Gulf Shores, AL to spend some time with my family and race the "Alabama Coastal Triathlon," an olympic a mere 20 minutes from our beach house.  Last year this was the race at which the "Best of the US" championship was held and I had a pretty good day, placing 5th.  My times were something like 19:45 (current aided no wetsuit, despite being wetsuit legal), 58:30, 36:20.  Or something close.  I'll be looking to improve a good deal on each of those three splits...hopefully.

Here is my race report from last years' race