Monday, January 28, 2013

And so passes a legend...

S - 31,900 yards
B - 56.1 miles (2 mtb rides)
R - 13.8 miles (embarrassing)
Time - 15.19 hours

The legend of my swimming volume the past 4 weeks, that is.  I've thoroughly enjoyed this swimming block.  In four weeks my accumulation of roughly 130,000 yards equals almost one fourth of my ENTIRE 2012 SWIMMING VOLUME. I put that whole thing in caps for emphasis.  It's awesome to really focus on something that people hate focusing on...for a month.

It's been a long time since I've felt what I like to think of as TANGIBLE benefits from swimming a lot.  As in, something I can actually "put my hands on," so to speak. In 2011 when I first started working with Brian, my pool times dropped but I wouldn't say precipitously.  I just got "stronger" from that year of swimming.  In races, I could hold threshold pace longer before breaking down and I could go out harder and "settle in" more comfortably. In 2012 my pool times seemed to be similar to 2011 but my race times got dramatically faster.  I was coming out in front of people I had swam with in 2011 and not-as-far-behind the "swimmers." I had created a new group; a group of 1! Not a former swimmer but not as fast as one either... It was lonely. Now with 2013 starting off on the right foot I feel a relatively dramatic difference compared to this time last year. I can do sets now that I couldn't dream of completing last year. I didn't know how to do fly, back and breast last year. I couldn't do 10+ 100s on the 1:20 base. Nor could I do 200s consistently below 2:25. I couldn't beat Jenny in a 100 IM, but I can (and did on Saturday!) now (if she's really tired and not motivated).  I think it also intimidates other people.  I don't think of myself as particularly intimidating, but from a purely "on-paper" standpoint I think the amount I've been swimming is relatively intimidating to other people. I like that. Gives me a mental edge. I need all the edges I can get!

This week had some absolutely awful weather. That was partly why my running was low, but most of that blame falls entirely on myself. Oh well, control what you can and move on from what you can't.  I got to "move on" a little bit this weekend at a party thrown by the Asheville Celebrity Heath Dotson.  Jenny, the Caamanos and myself all drove up on Saturday afternoon to enjoy a night of partying.  When I asked Heath if this was a triathlete party or a real party, he laughed in response and said it was definitely a real party.  It did not disappoint.  We drove back on Sunday morning where I had time to make this sweet video:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week in...week out. Patience.

S - 35,700 yards (11'05")
B - 64.1 miles (3'34''), 1 mtb ride
R - 23.2 miles (2'49")

Time - 17.48 hours

I remember one time last summer (or thereabouts) when I was out in California visiting Moose, I felt as though I was swimming a lot (maybe 5 times...snicker) and I was consequently pretty tired. I asked her how swimmers "did it." As I've exclaimed (seemingly a lot) in this blog, swimmers amaze me with their work ethic. Here's little old me, a classic adult onset swimmer, whining about swimming five times in a week and feeling tired and sorry for myself (not that sorry for myself, since I was swimming LCM outdoors in Southern California... #firstworldproblems) to someone that swam on a level that was basically "all-in" through high school.

Her response (and the responses of other swimmers I've known) illustrated a very simple point that triathletes love to over-complicate.  The phrases "but I work HARD," "swimming is just a mystery to me," "I feel like I'm never gonna get better," that sound like questions and excuses can all be answered with just one, simple response like the one I heard.

"How do you do this?"

"I dunno, you just wake up and jump in."

So simple, so effective.  No whining.  No lollygagging.  Swim until your arms burn and you can't see straight. If you emerge from a swim workout and can properly wash your hair with no discomfort, it wasn't a good enough workout. Bathroom breaks (getting out the pool) mean you're copping out of the set.  Fewer than two dolphins off the wall means you're not trying hard enough to drown yourself (ok I made that one up).

Another interesting fact is the two "swimmers" I've been around in the past 2 years (Moose and Jenny) didn't rest on their laurels.  They could've gotten by (meaning beaten most everyone in the water) with a swim or two a week but when I was around her Moose swam just as much as I did (if not more) and a lot faster.  On reading Jenny's year in review post you realize she swims kind of a lot.  Almost as much as me! But I'm playing catch-up to their 10 million yards from ages 12 to....16? The swimmers (that are good anyway) still swim a LOT.

I'm exaggerating to make a point, obviously.  Triathletes aren't kid swimmers.  It isn't possible.  Because Brian doesn't believe in what's possible and what's not possible he has set me a task.  A task which, in years past, I would've deemed impossible.  "Swim yer ass off," he says.  So...I swim my ass off.  14 times in the preceding two weeks.  8 times this week.  Same again next week.  I don't actually know when/if it will end.

Anyway, so this week I swam a lot.  I was happy to do so because there was horrible, awful weather all dang week.  Spending time in the pool was almost the same as spending time outside; it was just a lot warmer and it served a purpose other than making me cold and miserable.

I can feel myself getting stronger as these swims have gone by; what used to be smooth 50s coming in on :33-34 are now :31-32.  I can do 100 IMs with relatively little rest and not die (well, a handful).  Anyway, it feels good to see progress.

I also got to line up for my second attempt at the Winter Short Track Series and my second mountain bike race.  I had a better idea of what I needed to do to place higher and I lined up feeling a bit more confident about what was likely to happen.  The weather, in short, was perfect.  Somehow the two weekends of racing have been the opposite of "Wintry."  But, I think everyone racing was more than happy to be there.

I lined up in the second row and at the "GO" had a good start but after about 5 pedal strokes at maximum power my left foot pulled out of its pedal.  Needless to say, this does not behoove a good holeshot.  So I lost a bunch of ground.  Basically, I did the same thing as last week: move up the whole way.  This time, however, I didn't go quite so hard on the first couple of laps and consequently rode a little stronger the back half.  I'll be curious to see my average lap times as my hope is that they were a little faster.  Although it was a slightly slower course due to the dampness of the field and the copious mud around the 180 deg turn in the middle of it.  Anyway, I came in 6th in sport.  I was less than 10 seconds away from 3rd, whom I could see on the last section but didn't have enough time to catch them.  My guess is that with one more lap I could have shut down the gap.  BUT, I didn't have another lap.  Lesson learned.  No giving up (not that I really did).

Last week a guy in the 40-44 race (starts a bit after ours) took this video:

He and the eventual winner caught and passed me around the 6:20-7:00 mark.  Gives you a good idea of what this course is like: fast.

Anyway, I was happy to move up and am looking forward to more awesome sh*t next week! Never back down.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


S - 31,300 yards (10:15 hrs)
B - 50 miles (03:50 hrs)
R - 23 miles (02:53 hrs)

Time - 16.97 hrs

This week was all about one thing and one thing only: get in the swims.  Monday morning included a glorious 2000 yard time trial (~24:30), Tuesday was a glorious SwimMAC masters workout with a bunch of stroke, Wednesday was some other stuff, Thursday was some more stuff, Friday morning was some swimming stuff, Friday evening was some more swimming, Saturday morning was some sweet swimming.  Hmmm, that kind of all ran together.  The most memorable part was obviously the TT at the beginning of the week.  An idea courtesy of the Junior Pro we got to it after a hair over 2k yards worth of warmup; only she, myself and Ben Holland dared complete the whole thing.  Ben is renowned for having one of the best strokes I've ever seen. Luckily, I'm pretty fit so 2000yards gives me a chance to even it out with someone like him.  Well, right before we started I - like the considerate person that I am, obviously - told Jenny that if she caught me (lapped me) to just tap my feet and I'd let her do her thing.  She told me - like the antagonistic person she is - that her goal was to lap me 4 times.  Needless to say, this put a little fuel in my fire.  The fire to be awesome.

I paced it dead even and ended up at roughly 1:13/100 yards.  Pretty fast, and better than I expected.  Now the swim challenge will be two fold:

1) Get in all the swim workouts assigned to me over the next two weeks (all 16 of them)
2) Get my fly, back and breast strokes to the point where a 1:05 100IM SCY is within reasonable reach.  This is because Jenny challenged me with her part throwing down a 1:05 free LCM (w/ dive).  Even Mr Ross Handy has joined in with an attempt at a 1:05 or below 100 free SCY.  The more the merrier!

The other memorable part of the week was my first ever mountain bike race on Sunday.  With my newfound enjoyment of the dirt trails and my sweet mountain bike I decided that any race would be a great workout, no matter if I sucked at it or not.  I signed up for the Sport category since I wanted to race longer and I wanted a challenge.  Well, I got that.  The Renaissance Park short track section is a bit over 4 minutes in length and the race was 45 minutes, so I got in roughly 11 laps.  Just like in road crit racing, it started off extremely hard.  Once we lined up it was GO through the parking lot, around a u-turn and into the woods.

Through the flowy single track I had trouble going as fast as those in front of me but luckily once through that and up the hill we had a nice wide fire-road climb to pass people, then through a roped off section of field (climb more), and back on the fire road to the parking lot (climb) and back up through the start/finish line, around and back into the woods.  So for me, the back half was where I made up all the time and lost a bit of it on the front half.

I ended up finishing in 8th place (I think, based on printed results) roughly 2:55 behind the winner.  I'll take it.  It was a phenomenally hard workout that is only going to make me better in the long run, both on the trails and on the roads.  Hopefully I'll be able to compete again next week!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

3 (early) Januaries in review

S - 30,900 yards (9' 50'')
B - 62.6 miles (4' 25'', 2 mountain bike rides)
R - 20.1 miles (2' 25'')

Time - 16' 40"

Today I'm going to compare this time in history over the past three years: 2011, 2012, and 2013.  I think some people wonder what's changed about my approach since qualifying to race pro and live such a glamorous life.  Well, succinctly: not much.

In 2011 I was just beginning working with Brian.  Throughout the previous summer and fall we'd exchanged numerous (I mean, a LOT of) emails and by the end of the year we had begun our long-term relationship.  Some say long distance coaching doesn't work, I use myself as a case in proving the fallacy of such a claim.  Over the past two and a half years I've likely emailed with Brian more than anybody else.  We're not much for phone conversation (but that's on me as I don't like talking on the phone very much) but the back and forth has been pretty constant.  In some ways, he knows me better than many of my peers.

January 2011 began with a steady diet of swimming, biking and running to which I was unaccustomed.  I knew in my head (because Brian had drilled it in and because I had become convinced, through further research, that he was exactly right) that more work over more time equals more getting faster and more hurting your competition (that's a Brian-ism if there ever was one) but that didn't mean I wasn't surprised by my 12+ straight weeks of ~20 hours or more!  I was also training with a powermeter for the first time in my history as a cyclist.  It was fun to see how many watts I could throw down in a max sprint but a bit disappointing to see that transitioning from a roadie to a triathlete (short term power to long term power) was going to take some time.  I felt as though I was getting better every single day and my training paces/watts and racing reflected this.  I set PB's in almost every imaginable way and it started in January.  I was excited, I was motivated, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Fast forward one year to January 2012.  Lots of things had changed.  I had qualified to apply for my pro card by winning a race in October so I knew that in '12 I'd be racing as a pro.  I didn't yet know which races I would be doing but who cares!!? It would be awesome to stand next to big names (albeit only at the start line).  On the other hand, I was unsure of where I would be living.  In December I had basically convinced myself that I was going to be moving out to California at some point in early 2012.  So January was a mix of not being sure what each month was going to bring.  In early January I spent a lot of time at home in New Orleans but also at the beach in Gulf Shores, trying to do some work on our house while training solo.  Needless to say, I was in somewhat of a mental flux state.  I was still excited, but I knew my approach to training wouldn't change.  I don't think I could say that I was AS excited as I was in 2011, but it was close.  I had ended the year on a somewhat down note at Beach to Battleship Half and some of my key races weren't that great.  Ultimately, however, I'd performed at the one race I HAD to nail, the one where the pro card dangled.  So in January all of this was going through my head.  Would I perform up to my own high expectations? Where would I live and work in California? Who would I train with? What races are even out there? Is. it. worth. it.

Obviously, I didn't move out to California as I am writing this from my couch in Charlotte fresh off a great 2012 racing season.  I lounge here, watching football, with a good idea of what's going to happen  next year.  With Brian's help and guidance, I'm working on my weaknesses (see 32000 yards of swimming above for how).  With my friends' help, I won't get bored.  With my family's help, I'll stay grounded.  I'm tired but motivated on a level I can't say that I was last year.  There is no doubt about where I'll be living.  No doubts about where I'll be working.  No doubts about whether I'm "good enough" for this (note: I say that not because I think I'm gonna be winning anything big anytime soon but because at the level where I am now, I can be competitive in whatever format I choose to race in, even if is the back half of the pro field and, to be honest, right now that's good enough for me).  I recognize that this day, this week, this month, and this year is just another step in the process.  Each day adds to the one before it and each week to the one before it.  Week after week and month after month, fitness builds and speeds increase.

Ultimately, it never gets any easier.  You just go faster.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Quick update, again (boooooring)

S - 5,500 yards
B - 48.8 miles
R - 16.4 miles

Time - 6.42 hours

Not a lot happened this week with regard to training.  It was a week filled with good, wholesome family fun. Among other things I got to swim in my dad's new super sweet endless pool.

My brother used my contour to take compromising video of me and the pool in our backyard... Just kidding.  Next couple of weeks brings some huge swimming, which sounds amazing!!!!