Monday, December 9, 2013

Wait....is it December already?

Well, there's no question about it now.  I'm not cut out for this blogging stuff.  The entire intent of this was to keep friends and family updated on my IM Cozumel training progress, and then I go complete radio silence for the 4 months leading up to the race!  Yes, the race was December 1st.  That was last weekend.  My next post will be the race report, but I thought I'd address my obvious lack of content on this site since 5150 in August. 

5150 became a duathlon.  It was a strong bike and decent run, but nothing to brag about.  After that I did Oilman Half-Iron in November, but got sick and withdrew after the bike.  That was my first DNF ever, but I wasn't worried since it was just a "training race". 

Overall, my training progressed well.  I was much further along in swimming than I'd ever been before.  If only I could find a pair of goggles I liked!  I was feeling very strong on the bike, but I still struggled to fit in the over distance rides.  Running was my strongest event as always.  My long runs were fun and confidence inspiring.  More than anything else, I felt ready for the ironman marathon. 

Equipment wise I had everything dialed in (except for goggles).  HUUB skin suit, bike and hydration setup were slick, and a new pair of Hokas for the run.  All was set.

And then, I got to Mexico....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pre-Race: 5150 Galveston

5150 Galveston Logo

Well, we're all settled in down here in Galveston.  TJ is fast asleep and Analise and I are actually getting a chance to relax.  It's always nice when racing can also mean a chance to get away from the normal routine. 


5150 has always struck me as an odd name for a race.  Yeah, I get how they came up with it, but it's not nearly as intuitive and recognizable as something like 70.3, 140.6, IM, HIM, Sprint, OD, etc., and not just because it's in metric.  I prefer metric, but try telling someone you're doing a 5150, and you're more than likely to get a blank stare. 

So, for the uninitiated, 5150 is the brand name WTC chose for their Olympic distance race series.  Olympic distance (OD) is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, and WTC is the organization that owns the Ironman brand. I've done a number of WTC races and they've always been high quality events.  This'll be my first 5150 though and I'm excited to see how they do. 

OD races are historically my worst distance.  Of course, my "history" only consists of three races, none of which have gone well.  I did two in 2007, just weeks after buying my first bike.  I think I finished both in about 2:45, and while they were good experience, they were tough events with unimpressive times.  In 2012 I did Kemah just a months after TJ was born.  Not surprisingly, my body was wasted and the race was a disaster.  I finished right at 2:30 and walked most of the run.  The relatively long swim doesn't play to my strengths, and this distance is tough to pace. 

All that said, I'm pretty optimistic about this race.  While the past couple of months haven't been great training, I'm feeling better than I have in a while and should at least be pretty well rested, if maybe a bit flat.  I've been swimming more than I ever have in my life and I'll be racing the new bike for the first time!

I am a little concerned though.  This is the sight that greeted me when we drove up today:

Yikes!  That's some chop there.  But we actually swim in a protected bay, so that's NOT what it'll be like!


Swim
This swim course is a simple two turn course, so hopefully navigation isn't a problem:

 

I'm going to keep the pace fairly moderate and focus on keeping good form throughout.   My hope is to be in the 26 minute range, but anywhere from 26-28 is realistic.

Bike:

This is as simple as it gets for a bike course.  Out and back, flat as can be.  There will probably be a fairly heavy cross wind, so hopefully it's not too gusty.  I've never had a problem with a disc and deep front, even in Lubbock, but it's still nice not to have to focus too much on that.  On a stand along 40k course, I would do this in ~58 minutes.  At 90% CP, it'll probably be closer to 63-65 minutes but this is one leg that could be a bit faster.

Run:
  

So I get dizzy just looking at that map.  So many turns, but it keeps us in a local area, which usually means a lot of water stations.  That'll be crucial, because it means a lot of water and ice to dump over the torso to cool off.  Storm conditions mean it'll be slightly cooler anyway, so it could be a nice day to run.  My run fitness is lagging, so I can't run fast right now.  A 40-42 minute 10k is about all I can expect.

Total:
Adding all that up with about 3 minutes of transition results in 2:12-2:18.  That's not a superb time, but still pretty solid considering I've still got a long way to go fitness wise.   Regardless, it should be a fun race and a good test of where my fitness is.  Cozumel is approaching fast, so there isn't much time to waste!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Prep: All About the Gear

Sorry folks.  It's been way too long since I've checked in.  I'm sure everyone has been waiting anxiously for more rambling by Andrew!  It's been a busy month at both work and home, so I've been taking care of priorities accordingly.  I've also been recovering from the foot injury and fighting the normal training blues, meaning this blog has been pretty low on that priority list!

The good news is that I'm back to racing this weekend!  If I haven't mentioned it before, I love racing.  It pumps me up and gives my motivation a real jump start.  I'm good for 3-4 weeks of super motivated training after a race, something I should probably plan for in my 2014 schedule.  Regular racing is also good practice and good for fitness benchmarks.  On the flip side, when I don't race often (like the past 2 months), my motivation really takes a hit.  Fortunately, I've got 4 races planned between now and Dec 1!

This weekend is 5150 Galveston. Normally, I don't even consider putting Olympic Distance races on my calendar, but I've spent a lot more time in the pool this year and it's good to mix things up.  The longer swim definitely puts me at a disadvantage, but I like a challenge.  I haven't done this race before, but I've heard pretty good things.  I'll post a report on what I thought after the race.

For now though, I thought I'd give an overview of my race gear and how I prep for a race.  Triathlon is a sport that can be very gear heavy, with an overwhelming lineup of choices.  I spend way too much time reading about and thinking about my gear choices, but at the end of the day, simplicity is key.  Smart choices in equipment can result in a lot of saved time, but this is definitely an area where less is more. 

I'll stop a moment to let that sink in.  Yes, less gear is usually better than more gear.  That's blasphemy to a lot of triathletes, but a simple clean setup is probably the fastest.  Yeah, this varies a bit with race distance, but strapping gear all over your bike and body will only slow you down.  Keep it simple and both your mind and body will thank you. 

Before every race, I lay out my gear.  This helps me ensure I have everything and also start my mental preparation for how I'll execute.

Swim
Cap, Goggles, Trisuit, Swimskin and Timing Chip

The cap and timing chip aren't shown because I haven't picked up packet yet.  Likewise, my swimskin (Torque) is missing.  Still, that one is optional anyway.  I'm always playing with goggles and have never found a pair that really satisfy me.  I'm open to suggestions.

The swim skin is a bit of a toss up.  My testing in a pool indicates it's good for a few seconds per 100yds.  Over a 1500m swim, that's significant time.  Considering it takes about 10s max to take off, any race over 300-400yds it should be a net gain.  Mostly, it's a bit of a confidence booster, which can't be ignored. 

Bike
Helmet, Glasses, Computer, Shoes

Just a single bottle and simple flat kit on the bike.  In transition, I wont have any extra gear than what you see above.  No towel, no bucket, no socks.  Glasses and helmet on, then run to the mount line!

I use a Lazer Tardiz helmet, which seems to have a smooth profile with my aero position.  I'm using Oakley Flak Jacket glasses, Garmin 500 computer and the specialized tri shoes.  The bike I've already posted on, but I have switched to Vittoria Open Corsa Tri tires with latex tubes for this race which I'm super excited to try!!!

Run

Visor, Race Belt, Shoes & Garmin.

Most races, I go without the visor and Garmin.  I bring them just in case I change my mind, but they're sometimes an extra distraction that I'd rather not have.  T2 is almost always faster than T1, since all you have to do is slip on the shoes.  Everything else you grab and put on while you run.

I've been racing in the same pair of Saucony Kinvaras for the past year and a half.  It's time to change them out, but I love the shoes!  The belt is as simple as it gets as well.  There's never a need for a fuel bet to carry your own nutrition.  Race courses are well stocked and loading up on "stuff" just looks silly, adds weight and makes running uncomfortable.

 Other Stuff

Really, that's about it.  I bring a tool bag with bike wrenching equipment just in case (pump, tubes, CO2, zip ties, pliers, tape, lube, etc.).  I also bring a headlamp for transition.  But...that's really it.  To a runner or swimmer, that probably sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you go into transition at a lot of triathlons, you'll think people brought their whole garage with them.  Keep it simple, less is more. 



Monday, August 26, 2013

My New Mistress: Added a Guru CR901 to the stable!

As promised, it's time to officially introduce my new ride!  I've been waiting to post something until I had the bike in my possession and had at least spent a bit of time on it.  I've had it for 4 days and have fit in 3 rides, so I think I can give a decent early review.

Anyway, here it is; my new Guru CR901 courtesy of Shama Cycles:

 The new ride, sitting outside of Shama Cycles, ready for pickup!

 Standard Shama setup, pulled right off my Guru Merus.

Big improvement in cleaning up the front end; largely due to the TriRig Omega brake.

So first, a quick overview, skipping a few details...
Frame: Guru CR901
Aerobars: Hed Corsair
Drivetrain: Sram Red (with new Red Yaw front D)
Chainrings: Quarq Q rings 54/42
Crank/PM: Quarq Elsa
Front Brake: TriRig Omega
Rear Brake: TRP R970EQ Magnesium
Pulley Wheels: Tiso Ti
Chain: KMC X10SL Silver
Wheels: Hed Jet 9 Front/Jet FR Disc Rear
Tires:  Currently S-works Mondo Open Tubulars, switching to Vittoria Evo Triathlon

Before I get into a review of the bike itself, I'll answer the question that my wife has asked me about 100 times over the past 2 months: "Why do you need a new bike again?  Didn't you say that the titanium bike we bought last time would last you forever?".  Sheepishly, I must admit that I did claim that my Merus would be a lifelong bike....and I stand by that!  But, holding to the N+1 theory* on bikes(explained below), it was time for a new one.  Primarily, I wanted to get into a much more aggressive position, which I really was struggling to do on the Merus.  Moverover, the ride quality and aerodynamics of a frame upgrade made it worth it to me.  Not many others would agree, but I don't go to work in order to hoard my money...

My Merus served me well and I had some great times on it.  I did 3 40k TTs on it, all of which were under 60 min.  I posted a modest 2:30 bike split at Timberman 70.3 last year and it's really served me well on the local circuit as well.

 Really I had a pretty good position on the Merus, but it felt a bit compact and cramped.  I also wanted to go lower and out a bit more.  I considered a lot of options.  The new Cervelo P3 was very tempting from a value perspective; superb aerodynamics for a great price.  I'll admit that the Boardman AirTT was attractive, but I might be prone to influence after seeing it win Kona last year.  But finally, I decided to stick with the guy who has taken care of me for 4 previous bikes.  Philip Shama probably thinks I'm the worlds easiest sale, but with what I was looking for on position, the CR901 was the best way to achieve my priorities: 1. Position, 2. Ride Quality 3. Aerodynamics.  (1 & 3 being part of the same equation)

My position on the CR901 is better than it's ever felt.  I did 70 miles solo on my second ride on the bike and spent the entire ride in my aero bars.  Incredibly comfortable and smooth.  The idea is to keep this position for 112 miles:



It may not look like it, but it's a big change from before.  A lot longer.  Body position is better, but more importantly, I'm much more comfortable.  Just need to spend the time in the saddle to really make this my "all day" position.

Aerodymics should be significantly improved as well.  Check out the cables on my Merus above.  Now look at this:

Yes, small cables (and straws) create an disproportionate amount of drag. This is a blantantly stolen image, but it's needed to make the point:


Add to that the frame and position aerodynamics, and it should be a measurable improvement in speed for any given power output.

Finally, it's time to answer the question of how it rides.  I've had the luxury of riding nice bikes for the past few years.  I own a custom carbon KirkLee road bike and the Merus, and I've ridden Guru steel and Ti road bikes.  I also used to own an Orbea Ora, which was my first ever "real" bike...meaning one meant to be ridden on the road. 

I can honestly say that I was stunned by the ride quality of the CR901.  Waaaaay beyond my expectations.  I thought it would be a marginal improvement in ride quality over the Merus, with the added aero benefits of position and frame drag.  Boy was I wrong.  This bike is butter smooth and with the comfort level, it's great for all day riding.  I didn't expect it to contrast so much with the titanium frame, but it did. 

Halfway through my first real ride!

Yes, I think there are a good number of stock frames on the market that provide better aerodynamics.  Yes, those frames may provide a better overall bang for the buck, assuming one fits well on the stock frame (which most do).  That being said, I feel confident that this bike is going to optimize the process of translating my fitness and training, into race results.  I think 'fit', despite being harped on a lot, is still overlooked by most folks.  Custom is a luxury, but having a frame that fits my position and riding style to a T is something I put a lot of stock into.  It needs to translate into race results, but early returns look good.  And if nothing else, I'll look good while riding it too!



* N+1 is the answer to the question "How many bikes does a person need?" where N=the number of current bikes.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking requests...

Quick request that if anyone actually reads this, please let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to hear about.  Races, training, family life, equipment, etc.  I'm not always as diligent as I'd like in keeping this page update, but I also want to keep my limited audience entertained!

The next post is going to be about equipment, because, well...I take my new bike home on Wednesday!

Training Update - No room for self pity....

Injury, a missed race, busy time at work, poor recovery and suboptimal workouts have made the past weeks weeks a little rough.  It's easy to let these things snowball and get beat down from it.  Dealing with injury really is more mental than physical, and the other factors make it even more difficult to deal with.  I'll admit that it's been getting to me, which only makes getting out of the funk more difficult. 

Meanwhile, up in the northeast, this weekend was Timberman 70.3; a key race for the E3TS team.  Jorge, Jana and the rest of the team were all up there ready to dominate, and that's exactly what they did.  Jorge with a 4:22 and 2nd AG.  Jana with a 4:39; good for 1st AG and 2nd OA amateur female.  As a whole, the E3TS team had over 15 PRs, 5 podiums, and 5 70.3 WC qualifiers!  What a race!

Reading through those results, I decided to pull up my race report from last year's Timberman, a race where I set my 70.3 PR at 4:41.  Reading through it I'm reminded how much attitude and a positive outlook played into my success on that day.  It's  a tough course, but also gorgeous and fair.  I'd go back there in a hearbeat.  I had a ton of fun racing there last year, and it really struck home that this is what this sport is all about; fun.  It's a lot of work and sacrifice, but it's also a hobby and an escape from the drudgery of daily life.  If it stops being fun, then what's the point?

Me at TMan last year.  I had a solid race, and
spent most of the run smiling!

I'm excited about Cozumel and I'm not as far behind as I could be.  I've changed up my race calendar a bit, and have 3 races before the Ironman:
  • 22 September: 5150 Galveston  
  • 6 October: Du the Bear Duathlon
  • 3 November: Oilman Half Iron
The 5150 stands out most of all, since I rarely race olympic distance races due to too much emphasis on the swim!  But with the time I've been spending in the pool, maybe I can hold my own.  We'll see.  At the very least it should be good race prep.

At the end of the day, my training over the past month as been stagnant but I also haven't lost much.  I'm bouncing between failed workouts and awesome workouts, so while I'm not making the strides I want to make, I'm also not failing completely.  Fifteen more weeks to go, so there's not much time to waste, and there's also a lot of time left to make some huge gains.  Time to do some work!


3 weeks of no running but still not a huge drop off

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bridgeland Race Report - A Slightly Different Perspective

Sorry...I've been a bit delinquent in my posts.  Honestly, I've been a bit discouraged by the foot injury, the resultant sub-optimal training and missing one of my favorite races (Bridgeland).  To top it all off, I'm responsible for screwing up Analise's first triathlon in 2 years.  Fortunately, that might mean I lose my job as her full time mechanic....

...or at least one can dream right?  Anyway, instead of posting my input on it, I thought I'd share Analise's race report instead of sharing my thoughts on it.  She got a bit verbose, but she's usually pretty entertaining!



Bridgeland 2013 Race Report

This report begins 2 years ago.  I was 9 weeks pregnant and did this race.  It was my final race pregnant.  I had a great race.  They messed up my time.  I was super pissed because I knew I wouldn't be racing again for at least another year....

Two weeks prior to the race, I pull the race results from 2011.  Behold!  The results had been corrected and I placed 3rd AG.  Andrew gets injured...I sign up for the ultimate REDEMPTION!!!!!

Saturday- the night prior.  I have been training consistently for about 5 weeks.  I am starting to feel it but I am not truly THERE yet.  I am still really excited to be racing again and this is my REDEMPTION race.  Andrew and I were busy all day running errands and picking up the packet (about a 3 hours affair with baby.)  We are hosting a dinner party that night as well, so we had a whole lot of prep work.  We get home with just enough time to start dinner and for Andrew to put my bike together.  I am running a HED disk in the rear and a HED Jet 6.  Andrew's question of course was whether I wanted a flat kit for a 13 mile course.  Normally I wouldn't take one for a race so short.  I would be riding a "naked" bike.  Since I haven't raced in a while, I said pack the flat kick because IF I did flat, I would replace and continue on so at least I would have some race data prior to IM Cozumel.  The HED Jet 6 needs a tube with a longer valve.  We discussed this at length.  The longer valve tube would be in my "bottle" and the short valve tube would be in my bike bag.

Our dinner party was a smashing success.  After which we got invited to a dinner at "Uchi" which is a premier restaurant in Houston.  We are a pretty awesome couple...

Race morning.  We wake up at 0400.  Departure time is 0445.  I do my race prep...get my bottles ready, eat a small breakfast.  We were a little late getting out the door and ended up leaving around 0500.  We get to the race later than anticipated, transition closes in 25 min!!!  IF Andrew was racing it would be the end of the world...me No pressure.  Get the bike ready, and the baby with B.O.B. ready.  I am secretly excited that Andrew would have to "man" TJ (our baby) for the duration of the race.  TJ is very high energy.  I blame myself for running and working out while pregnant.  The kiddo just doesn't sit still.

Transition.  I get my stuff ready, do a double check.  Everything is ready.  It's a big race for Houston.  About 1500 participants.

Walk over...We run into an Awesome couple we know through Triathlon.  She is my age and is racing because her husband is "babysitting."  We really need to work it so only 1/4 of us needs to "babysit" while racing.  They are awesome.  At swim start we pack the B.O.B. with my gear and some of our friend's gear.  By the way, if you don't know friends who bring their kids to races, you are missing out.  Those strollers fit all kinds of stuff.  And it holds "A LOT."

I take my crocs off for race start.  I definitely step into a fire ant hill.  Painful.  The worst is the nest day where they puss up.  GROSS.

At swim start I run into my friend again.  We actually start the race together.  Unfortunately, she started on my left side.  (I drift left while swimming and I apologize Elizabeth for swimming over you!)  I swim the 500 meters.  I was a huge success.  I am an open water pa nicker.  The only time I had to breast stroke was when I was way far left.  I needed to sight to get back on course.  (Sorry Elizabeth if I reswam over you.)

I get out of transition feeling good.  I transition and talk to a guy coming back from the bike.  I signed up late, so my number was a mix with everyone who signed up late.  He stated I would have some wind on the way out...

I get my bike.  I  LOVE MY BIKE!  I am sort of angry with my parents for not getting me into it earlier.  My bike is awesome.  A purple Guru.  I call her P.P.E.  Purple People Eater.  and we do eat up the people on the bike.  I feel it...we are going to be awesome.

As I start, she seems a little wobbly.  I think that maybe it's because I do most of my training on her on the trainer and not on the road.  At the first turn, I almost go down.  I notice my front tire is flat.  I pull over a little bit later.  I am not panicked.  I know that Andrew and I discussed it.  I went to my kit.  I knew that I wouldn't place, but at least my coach could get good data.  I pull out the tube from my bottle.  Hmm...It's a short valve.  Maybe Andrew put it in my bike bag.  Nope.  Bike bag is definitely a short valve.  I am .25 miles into my bike on PPE and I have no way to change the tube.  I sit.  I ponder.  I walk back with my head hung low.  First Tri back in 2 years.  My REDEMPTION, and I am flatted on the course with no way forward, only a way back. 

At least I had a great swim.  I "TRIed."  I don't blame anyone but myself.  I should have checked everything myself.  I am in good sprints.

Good job to Triny and Meril!  You are my master heroes. 

I had fun.  That's what it's all about.  I finished the day with a 9 miler in the evening.  All in all...I swam 500m, rode .25, and ran 9.  I guess I did do a tri afterall.  


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bigger Fish to Fry...

So no race for me tomorrow.  I did a short jog on Friday morning, and the foot actually felt pretty good, but I'm not risking it.  Discretion is the better part of valor!  (thanks for the reminder Jindy)

So instead, I get to play race support!  I got Analise's bike and gear ready today and I actually think I'm more nervous than when I race.  She hasn't done a triathlon in 2 years.  Actually it was Bridgeland in 2011, when she was 2 months pregnant, that she last raced.  We're going into this with no expectations, but it's just exciting for her to be back out there!

I'll post pictures and have her write a race report afterwards.  Wish her luck!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pre-Race: Bridgeland Triathlon

[Note:  Due to injury, I may not get to race this event.  This post assumes I can!]

Bridgeland is probably my favorite local race.  On the surface, there's really nothing super special about it.  The course is your standard Houston sprint course:  murky lake swim and flat, short bike/run courses.  Oh, and heat and humidity!

But the folks at ONURMARK really know how to put on a race.  Bridgeland stands out to me for a few reasons:

  • Size: There are about 1500 participants.  That's HUGE for a local race!  It also means a lot of the folks I know are usually there and it's fun to socialize and toe the line against some of the same folks.
  • Competition: It's generally a fast and competitive field.  Even when I've raced well, it's been tough to finish on the podium, and that makes it a fun challenge.
  • Atmosphere:  Lots of spectators, lots of volunteers and a great atmosphere create a fun racing environment.
  • Extras:  Generally, the expo and post race "stuff" is much better than normal local races.  

This'll be my third time racing Bridgeland and my expectations were pretty high.  My first year (2011), I placed 3rd AG and 7th Amateur in a really good race for where I was at the time.  The next year, I took 3 minutes off my time, but finished 4th AG and 8th Amateur, which really shows how competitive the field was getting.  So from a 1:06 to a 1:03, I would expect an even faster time this year.

Comparing my training to last year is a bit tough.  I'm injured, and last year I was leading up to a peak for Timberman 70.3, whereas this year I'm in a bit of a down period.  That means I'm better rested, but haven't had the intense training from last year.

 
The chart shows that last year, I had a more gradual build, but my positive training score is higher this year at this point.  More importantly (for this race) my performance score is higher than it was for last year.  That's great for my expected performance at Bridgeland, but not so great for my expected fitness in 4-6 weeks!

We'll see how it shakes out.  Below is the breakdown for each leg/

Swim:
I've missed a lot of swimming recently due to recovery, vacation and injury.  As a result, I'm not sharp, but still better off than I was last year at this time.  I should beat my 10:33 from last year, but not by much.  I think a 10:00 is reasonable.  
Bike:
My 30:20 for last year was good for 2nd AG.  I'm not sure if I'm quite there this year, but I'm not far off.  I remember feeling great on the bike in August last year.  For now, I think I can match my time from last year if not better it, so let's figure a 30:30.  
Run:
Here's the big question.  I averaged 6:09s last year to finish the 5k in 19:04.  If my foot feels okay, I can match that.  If it hurts, I'll be walking or DNF, so it really is a wild card.  For the purposes of prediction, let's assume I can run and finish in 19:00.  

Overall that puts me at about the same time as last year.  I think a 1:03:00 should be the benchmark, with a top 10 Amateur finish and possible AG podium.  This has been an up and down week, so I could be really rested and fresh, or I could be rusty and in pain.  We'll see! 

The Injury Bug Strikes!

It was definitely too much to ask for smooth sailing between now and IM Cozumel right?  That would make things waaaay too easy!

Analise has been nagging me about a lack of recent posts on this blog (what else are wife's for?).  Fact is, I've been delaying my next post, which was supposed to be a pre-race outline for Bridgeland.  However, I've been fighting foot pain since Monday morning and it's been questionable whether I even toe the line!

Bridgeland is one of my favorite races, as you'll see if I post my pre-race overview.  But if you can't run, you can't race!  I ran 12 miles on Saturday, feeling good and pain free.  I rode 75 on Sunday, feeling great and definitely no pain.  Throughout Sunday, I felt pretty good, albeit a bit tired. 

Monday morning, while at work, I started to develop a relatively sharp pain in my left foot.  No pain while stationary, but very painful when I put full weight on the foot while walking.  The rest of this week I've taken it very easy, but the pain has persisted.  I can swim and ride, but walking without a shoe has been very difficult at best.  I see the doctor on Tuesday, but I'm worried about a stress fracture.  We'll see. At the very worst I'll become an aqua-bike champ over the next 4-6 weeks and then worry about the run. 

Anyway, I rode tonight and it felt soooo good to get moving again.  I want to race and if I think I can do it without injuring myself further, you better believe I'm going to toe the line.  I won't risk further injury, but it'll have to be pretty bad for me not to race. 

My Bridgeland pre-race info should follow soon.  At the very least, Analise is racing, so that'll be fun! It might be fun to be a spectator with TJ for once....

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fitting it All In: The Schedule

If the title and description to this blog don't make it obvious enough, I'm not the most creative person.  In person I can be witty, if a bit dry, but my writing definitely trends toward being descriptive and fact driven...leaving out the fun and emotion.  Hopefully, the more I write the better that gets!

Anyway, I was looking at the blog title and realized that I hadn't even written anything on why I call this a struggle with the triathlon lifestyle.  Other than having to work hard, which all athletes have to do, I haven't really addressed my personal challenges with work, marriage, parenthood, triathlon and life in general.  Honestly, I don't think it's overly unique.  Most folks have busy lives and a lot going on.  But I do think I pack a lot in to my limited time!

Work:  I'm a project management professional/engineer in the Oil & Gas industry.  That means I organize and lead the projects that get oil & gas out of the ground and to the refineries for processing.  That has a heavy component of engineering, with leadership and business mixed in.  It's a cyclical job; with some periods where work is 70+ hrs per week, while other weeks are a smooth 40hrs.  The best news is that my new employer has 9/80s, which means I have every other Friday off!

Home: Well, I'm a husband of just over 9 years and a dad to a 16 month old son and 3 dogs.  My wife, Analise, works for another company in the same industry as me and has hours more demanding than mine but a shorter commute.  The dogs are awesome, but get neglected and spend most their days laying about.  Finally, our son TJ is the centerpoint of our lives.  Super active kid and a super happy kid.

Hobbies:  Not much these days other than triathlon.  I LOVE to read, but now I'm mostly limited to audiobooks on my commute.  I read fiction and a lot of non-fiction.  In a perfect world, I love to study sports physiology, philosophy and physics.  Maybe someday I'll be able to get back into it to the level I'd like to.  I also love to golf, eat/cook good food and drink good booze.  I'm a whiskey fanatic and have dabbled in some brewing as well. 

So cramming all that into a 7 day week gets challenging.  My typical day looks like this:

4:45am - Alarm goes off
5:15am - On the road to work
6:00am - At my desk, logged on and working
10:00am - Lunchtime Run
11:10am - Back at my desk eating lunch
4:00pm - On the road home
5:00pm - Home
5:00-6:30pm - Home alone with TJ.  Playtime!
6:30-7:30pm - Analise gets home.  Make dinner, wash TJ and put him to bed.
7:45-9:00pm - On the trainer on bike nights
8:30-9:30pm - In bed, lights out, fast asleep...

On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, that changes a bit when I go to Master's swim, which starts at 530am.  On those days, I'm on the road by 4:45 and make it to work by about 6:55. 

Basically, I can account for my day down to about 5 minute increments on most days.  There's very little time to waste.  I have a lot of concrete times that I have to work around.  At work by 6, home by 5 so the nanny can leave and TJ going down at 7:30.  Moreover, we have a rule that we don't workout while TJ is awake, so that we can maximize our time with him.  With two working parents, that's important.

Weekly workout schedule looks something like this:

Mon:  Masters swim and strength.  I expect we'll start working in easy runs in as IMCoz approaches.
Tue:  Easy run and a hard bike (i.e. 6x4min)
Wed: Masters swim and hard run (i.e. 12x2min)
Thur:  Strength and tempo bike
Fri: Masters swim and steady run
Sat:  Long bike w/ transition run
Sun:  Long run

More or less that's how it goes.  When everything is clicking, it all works well.  It just doesn't allow for much room for error.  If my day gets off by just a few minutes, it can completely derail my workout plans. 

So anyway, that's it!  That's why it's a struggle to maintain the lifestyle needed to continue my progression in this sport.  I told you it would be mundane!  But while it seems straightforward, it can actually be pretty stressful, trying to make sure those workouts are done and fitting everything in.  It leaves little room for other hobbies, fun or friends, but we try hard to fit those in as well.

The hardest thing?  Sleep.  I really need 7-8 hours per night, but I probably average well under 7.  When 9pm is the first chance all day to relax, it's so hard not to pour a cocktail and read for a few minutes or read up on the Dallas Cowboys or browse Slowtwitch!

18 Weeks to go until Cozumel!!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Ego: What got it all started...



So it goes without saying that men are superior to women when it comes to physical accomplishments.  Right?  I mean, just look at any professional sport that has both male and female leagues.  Look at the Olympic world record times.  This is as obvious as stating that women can't drive!!!

So maybe I'm a chauvinist pig, but it's hard to argue with the above statements.  But even if they're true, they can easily lead to a mindset that can get a guy like me in trouble.  Which, is exactly what happened back in 2002 when I first started dating Analise, my wife and best friend.  Here I was, this tough West Point cadet, and there was no way a female was going to put me to shame.

I entered West Point at my current height (5'11") but only 150lbs.  With the unlimited and high calorie food, I quickly gained weight and peaked at 185-190lbs for my last couple of years.  Almost all muscle and overall very fit.  I could run a 2 mile PT test run in under 12 minutes, do over 100 pushups in 2 minutes and over 110 situps in 2 minutes.  I was one finely tuned machine!

Or so I thought.  Early in my Cow Year (junior), I started dating this cute girl who ran on the cross country team.  She was a fellow physics major who didn't seem to mind my seemingly complete lack of personality.  We went to air assault school together, we studied together, we ate together, and unfortunately, we also ran together. 

At West Point, dating is a bit weird.  You can't go out on normal dates or hang out in dorm rooms.  So for time together, we'd go on runs; my badass self with the female XC runner.  A few weeks of this, and she was convinced that I was the best listener ever.  Apparently it didn't occur to her that I couldn't get a word in because I was doing everything I could just to breathe!  After a month or two, my friends had to go to her and ask her to take it easy on me.  It turns out I had developed a stress fracture from trying to keep up, but wouldn't admit it since there was no way a women could outrun me!

It took me years to catch up.  We married and trained together, but she continued to smoke me in race after race for years.  Running, triathlon, cycling.....it didn't matter.  In 2007 she finished fourth OA female at the Longhorn HIM (now Austin 70.3), while I limped to a 6+ hr finish.   She crushed her competition over and over, while I tried to keep up and just finish races.  My ego just couldn't handle it.

I trained.  I worked.  I hired a coach.  And eventually, I was faster.  We did Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2009 and I beat her by over an hour.  But I wouldn't haven't done that training if I wasn't working to beat her example.  I owe a lot to her.  I wouldn't have run or even dreamed of triathlon without her.  (maybe I'll post the story about her buying her first bike later).  She introduced me to endurance training and this sport, and I definitely am indebted to her for it.  She's gone on to have a baby and put other priorities first, but she's still my inspiration.

I'm going to ask her to do some "guest" blog posts.  She's not only a much more entertaining writer than I am, but she'll provide some great perspective and contrast to my posts.  I'm a bit more focused and numbers oriented, while she's the "happy go lucky" side.  She might even make this blog enjoyable to read!

Deep down, I'm still that guy, struggling to keep up with the hot XC chic.  And as long as that's the case, I'll keep getting faster.  Take motivation wherever you can get it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shadow Creek Ranch Triathlon - Race Report

It’s nice to finally have a solid race under my belt.  I’ve been waiting since last August to walk away from a race feeling like it was a solid result!  It wasn’t a perfect race by any means, but overall this was a really strong race.  Here’s a breakdown of how it went:


Pre-Race
I actually did a taper for this race, which is a rarity for a low priority sprint triathlon.  It was more due to the fact that I had 4-6 weeks for strong training and I was due for an “unload” week.  So the taper was more coincidence than anything else, but it worked out well. 

I got my gear ready on Friday evening, giving the bike a really good cleaning and taking time to pay attention to the details on setup.  I’ve been getting a bit too casual with prepping my gear, so it was time for that to change.  I got a short ride in on Saturday to test out wheels, brakes, gears and nutrition setup.  All was good to go, so I packed things up and set my alarm for 3:30 am. 


Race MorningSo yeah, I like to get to races early.  There’s nothing more stressful than feeling rushed or not having time to react of something goes wrong.  I rolled out of bed at 3:45, ate a bagel and banana and sipped on an espresso while I got ready.  Really, there wasn’t much to do but take bottles out of the fridge and kill time so that I can get in my requisite 2-3 trips to the bathroom.

I was on the road by 4:10 and reached transition right at 5.  They were still getting set up, but I was able to get my bike racked and transition setup by 5:15, with plenty of time to kill.  The nice thing about local races is that there are a ton of familiar faces, so I made my rounds and caught up with some folks I hadn’t seen in a while.



Warm up
My wave started at 7:08, so I went out for a 1 mile jog at about 6:20.  It was a bit early, but I wanted to allow time to get in a longer swim.  The run was really just to wake the legs up a bit, and I fit in 4-5 race pace strides.

At about 6:35, I got in the water and swam the entire swim course backwards; so 500m at a steady pace, with some practice on sighting.  After getting out of the water to watch the 4-5 waves in front  of me start, I fit in another hard 100m before my wave started to really get ready.  I was feeling pretty good at this point but it’s hard to tell how the body will respond when the gun goes off. 


Swim (500m)

8:44 (1:36/100yd)
6thAG/56th OA

This swim course is a straight shot down a narrow man made finger lake.  There’s a slight bend to the left, but this is pretty much just 500m of straight swimming. 





I’ve been working hard on my swimming so I was hoping to see the work pay off today.  I didn’t swim hard, but kept the pace steady and smooth.  I also focused on navigation and trying to find some feet to latch on to, which are two things I usually do horribly at. 

After some early zig sagging, I did finally find some feet to follow and settled into a good steady pace.  I really didn’t feel like I was working hard, but I wasn’t going to risk pushing too hard and ending up in no man’s land.  6th AG isn’t superb, but it left me with less time to make up than I normally have. 




T1
0:51
36th AG/57th OA

Man, the M30-34 AG must have some fast transitioners!  I’ve never been super fast at T1 since I don’t clip my shoes into the bike and insist on putting them on and running in them. I still gained 5 places during the T1 moving from 56th OA to 51st OA!



Bike (16.1mi)
38:52 (25.9mph)
4th AG/20th OA  (8th amateur)

The bike course is a super flat, 2 loop course that’s surprisingly technical.  There are a total of 4 180 degree turns and quite a few other turns. 




I came into this race with the intent of nailing the bike, since I’ve been struggling with it so much recently.  I wanted to keep my cadence high and keep my power between 260-270W, which is around 90% CP.  I had my garmin set up to show power and cadence and focused on keeping those numbers in the target ranges.  It hurt....bad.  And that's probably how it's supposed to feel!

Average Power: 266W
Average Cadence: 95RPM

I really think the higher cadence helped.  I managed to pass 31 folks on the bike, moving from 51st OA to 20th OA. 




 T2 
0:00:40
40th AG/57th OA

In and out.  Not super fast, but solid enough not to lose any places. 

Run (3.2mi)
0:21:07
3rd AG/19th OA

The run course is just over a 5k, but it's a slow course.  Very congested and hot and humid.  The fastest time was 19:XX something, so that tells you a lot about the course.  The first and last .5 miles are super congested, which made passing impossible.


This run hurt a lot.  I felt like I overcooked the bike a bit, because I ran the first mile in 6:31 and even that was painful.  Conditions were super hot and humid, and getting a breathing pattern down was impossible.  Still, I managed negative splits for each mile and ended up with an OK run.  

Ave Pace: 6:21/mile
Splits: 6:31/mi, 6:26/mi, 6:23/mi, 5:51/mi


I picked up another 7 places on the run, finishing 13th OA (3rd amateur).  

Overall
3rd AG/3rd Amateur/13th OA
This was a solid race.  I still feel like it's just scratching the surface, but I'm really pleased with the result.  I beat out a good number of the elites/pros and showed that I'm still on the upswing for this year's races.  With a full calendar remaining, I'm pretty stocked about the remaining races!




Race Review:
This was a really nice race; perfect for families and spectators.   The swim is fast, but the water is your standard hot, murkey muck that you find in TX.  The bike is incredibly flat, but that second lap gets incredibly congested and dangerous.  The run was flat, although not as fast as you'd expect.  Well run and convenient, I'll definitely be doing this race next year!

Congrats to Gael Souci, Jimmy Vaeth, Guillaume Penel, Sean Anger(it happens!), Meril Moen, Greg Colvin and others.  It's so much fun to race with friends!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pre-Race: Shadow Creek Sprint Triathlon

So this weekend is the Shadow Creek Sprint Tri here in Houston.  I haven't done it before, but I've heard pretty good things about it.  It's actually a decent sized race for a local sprint, with somewhere between 600-700 competitors. That usually means some strong competition!

Local races are the best.  There's not as much build up or stress, the travel is minimal, and you get to see a lot of the same faces that you see at other races.  Sometimes you develop rivalries with people who don't even realize it.  Other times you have a group of friends racing with you with friendly wagers on the line.  Either way, these events are really fun and are a huge reason why I love this sport.

But.....it's still a race.  That means it's going to be hard work and a ton of pain, even if I'm smiling the whole way!  Below is an update on how I feel going into the race.

Overall:  I'm feeling better than I have since before Timberman 70.3 last August.  My fitness isn't quite what it was then, but I'm feeling good and have found a groove again in my training.  It may be a bit early for some of the hard work I've done recently to really kick in for a race effort, but it bodes well for races in the coming months. If you look at the chart below, you can see that there's been some good work put in over the past couple of months.  My positive training effect is about where it was for Timberman, but the performance plot indicates that I'm probably still feeling some of the effects of the negative TE to fully benefit. 


Swim: I've been doing some pretty consistent and strong swim training, so this is the leg that I'm most excited to see how I do.  My pool times are as fast as I've ever seen, with sustained efforts of 1:20-1:25/100yds.  Of course, I usually struggle to keep a straight line and execute effectively during races, so we'll see.  For the 500m, I think an 8-9min swim is realistic. 

Bike:  Normally a strong suit, I've let off on the bike quite a bit since last year.  The results were evident at Tejas.  I should see a strong rebound but not quite to what I would consider my normal standard.  This is a flat and fast bike, so for the 16 miles, I'm expecting 38-40 min. 

Run:  I haven't been doing a lot of speedwork but I have been consistent.  I'd expect a solid but not spectacular run.  If my swim and bike improve as expected, I should be able to push the pace on the run a bit more too.  This is a 3.2 mile run, so depending on my pacing I'd expect 18-19 minutes. 

Prediction sure to go wrong: Based on last years results, I think I have reason to expect a solid placing.  Overall, with transitions, I'm looking at 67-70 minutes.  We'll see.  This week has been a light week so I should be fairly well rested. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ironman Training - What it's all about!

Before embarking on a journey to a new Ironman, Analise and I had some heart to heart discussions about how the training and preparation was going to impact our lives.  We promised that it wouldn't take over our lives and that we'd still prioritize TJ, each other and our jobs.  It's easy for training to become such a high priority and source of stress that other things get sacrificed. 

A common perception of Ironman training is that it has to be high volume and all consuming.  I have friends who start doing long runs and long rides 6-8 months out, thinking that distance and volume are the key to finishing the 140.6 miles.  To an extent, they're right.  You need to have the endurance to finish the distance and doing some longer workouts are key to building that endurance.  However, the high volume approach that seems to be so popular is very rarely the most efficient and effective approach.  Well, unless your focus is on just finishing and not your finish time...

At E3 Training solutions, our approach is to build a program built around the individual.  It's an evidence based approach that utilizes proved training methods.  In the early stages you focus on general fitness; building your critical swim speed, critical power and run speed.  As you approach your race, you transition into more race specific fitness, which for an Ironman is your moderate intensity, longer duration workouts. 

I'm 22 weeks out from IM Cozumel.  For the next 8-12 weeks, my focus will continue to be increasing my general fitness.  That means a combination of VO2 max sets (to raise the ceiling) and threshold sets to hit that sweet spot of maximum adaptation.  Until 3 months out from the Ironman, my volume will actually be pretty low; 10-12 hours per week for the most part.  There will not be any century rides or 2+ hour runs in the training plan.  With my limited available training time, I'll be focused on getting faster.

In September, 3 months out from the Ironman, the transition will begin.  The "superload" weeks will start being worked in and the volume will increase.  Still, it won't be insane volume. Long runs will be 90-120 min.  There might be a few 100+ mile rides mixed in, but very few.  The focus will be on pushing out that speed that has been developed to the longer durations.  All sessions will have an element of intensity, targeting race pace.  And since the goal is to go fast on race day, I won't be taking it easy on those rides.  Runs will be at steady pace, finishing with 30-40 minutes at tempo race.  The rides will be even more intense. 

Bottom line is that it's all about training load and targeting the adaptations that will be required for race day.  A high volume approach can work if it really is HIGH volume with plenty of intensity mixed in.  That means 20-30hr weeks with a lot of rest and recovery mixed in.  If you're a busy person like me who has a life to live on top of this hobby, that's just not possible. 

Instead, I focus on efficiency.  Maximizing training load through targeted workouts.  Knowing exactly where my fitness stands and basing the workouts on that information.  Generic workouts can't do that.  They focus on ensuring the athlete has the endurance to finish the Ironman.  I'm focused on racing the Ironman.  Yeah, that might only mean a 5-10 AG finish or something similar, but it also means maximizing my finish time based on the training time I have available. 

We'll see what my coach has in store for me and I'll post it here.  For now, I know the focus will be something like this:

Swim:  Continue to do Masters Swim.  This will address my biggest weakness and ensure consistency.

Bike:  The key session here will be 6x4 min @ 105%CP workouts during the week.  The weekend rides will be steady at 80-90% for 2-3 hours. 

Run:  We'll focus on increasing my Critical Velocity (CV).  Main sessions will be 12x2 min at T pace.  Long runs will be 60-90 min with an element of intensity at the end. 

Other:  Shoulder PT, core strength and stabilizing muscles will all be targeted throughout each week. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tejas Sprint Race Report

So below is my race report for the Tejas Sprint Triathlon that I did on June 2.  It's a bit short on detail, but I'll make sure the future reports are a bit more entertaining.  This one was just an info dump for my coach.  Overall it was a pretty average race at best, but it was a good wake up call.

Tejas Sprint Triathlon (600yds, 12mi, 3mi)
2 June, 2013
509 finishers
Preparation:  Training leading up to this race was sporadic, but starting to become more consistent.  I only had about 3 weeks of swim training under my belt, and very limited time on the bike.  Run training had been pretty solid.

Pre-RaceI woke up at 330 to finish the final packing and get some calories in.  I don't like to be rushed on race morning, so the early morning wakeup is critical.  Unfortunately our son is sick and hadn't slept much during the night, so I was pretty tired.  We got on the road by 4:15 and drove the 1hr to the race site.  It was a 1 mile walk from the parking to transition, but we found it and got everything set up.  All normal pre-race routines (gear and body) went well.  I did notice some lightning in the distance but didn't know if it were headed our way.

Pre-race with some cool characters



Warm Up:  40 minutes before race start I headed out for a 2 mile run.  In the middle I did some pickups to race pace and scouted out the course.  I put my shoes in transition and grabbed my swim gear.  I headed out for a swim warmup and did about 300 yards, getting a feel for the buoys and sight lines.  Overall I felt nice and loose. 

Swim (10:29; 5th AG, 76th OA):  Our wave was the largest, but fortunately we were the third wave, so the course wasn't too congested.  I started off fast with the lead group, but apparently I veered off course about 150 yards in, and then over corrected.  After this I found myself near the front/middle pack.  I started to fatigue about 400yds in and didn't have the strongest finish.  I still had to swim through a lot of people from the first two waves, and managed to finish with the 5th best swim time in my age group.







T1(1:19; 61st OA):  I slipped up here when my swim skin got caught on my timing chip.  Lost about 10 seconds getting it off, but still gained 8 places OA. 

Bike(32:29; 5th AG, 36th OA):  I started off feeling really strong on the bike and the first half was strong.  We had a slight tailwind and I was passing a lot of people from the first two waves. I averaged 25mph and 259W for the first 5 miles.  At the turnaround, the storm front hit and hit hard.  The rest of the bike was a ride for survival.  Visibility was limited to about 10yds and winds were up to about 40mph.  Riding aero was extremely difficult and a lot of people just pulled over to the side.  I kept going but at a much more conservative pace as water was 1-2" deep.  The storm let up a bit for the last couple of miles, but my overall pace was already slow.  Some waves got the storm as a tailwind, but ours took the worst of it.  At the end of the day, it was even playing field for my Age Group.  Normally my strongest event, my bike was really poor today.  I gained 36 spots during the bike, but it should have been more.  I was several minutes faster on this same course 2 years ago.

It started off nice...


...but the storm hit right before the turn around.
This picture does not do the rain & wind justice.




T2 (0:53; 93rd OA):  Okay transition.  Could work on this more.

Run (18:49; 4th AG, 15th OA):  Not a fast run by any stretch, but it was a decent finish to an otherwise mediocre day.  I kept the pace consistent and averaged 6:22.  I didn't have a single person pass me, but I didn't pass anyone in my AG either.  I knew my day hadn't been great, but I was happy to finish with a good effort on the run.  Most importantly, I felt like this was a pace I could have held for double the distance, even if I didn't have much extra speed.  I gained 11 spots during the run.


At least I had a decent run!


Overall (1:04:10, 4th AG, 22nd OA):  This was a good benchmark and wakeup call.  I finished 23rd overall out of 396.  That's not good enough, but it fits the level of commitment I've shown to my training recently.  I have a few opportunities to redeem myself over the next couple of months and I plan on making good.  I'm disappointed by the 4th place AG finish, and should have been faster than 22nd out of over 500 people.

Smiles all the way around!

And thanks for my race crew for the support!!!

Getting Back in the Groove

It turns out that when you're already busy, finding time to keep up a blog is difficult.  Oh well, as with everything else, I'll do what I can!  It's 4th of July week and I'm taking tomorrow off.  It's otherwise been incredibly busy at work and at home.  My home projects are getting a bit overwhelming, but training continues!

So I'm getting back in the training groove.  That means finding a good rhythm and routine for workouts, but it also means constant fatigue and soreness.  Those last two are welcome friends that are harbingers of long term success of handled well.  They can also cause you to crash and burn if not handled well.  By this point I know my body well enough to listen to it when necessary, but this is also an area where I trust my coach, Jorge, to keep me just under that threshold of overdoing it. 

Early on with Jorge, he gave me some great advice.  He said that even when you're not feeling up for a workout, at least try to get out and do the warm up and that if you're still not feeling great by the end of the warm up then pack it in and call it a day.  As he said would be the case, some of my best workouts have come on those days when I thought I was too tired to work out.  Unfortunately, there have been plenty of days that I've not been mentally able to get geared up for a workout and have packed it in.  A lot of the times it's the mental fatigue, not the physical, that gets in the way. 

With that in mind, yesterday was probably close to my worst day of the year both mentally and physically.  I was tired and struggled through work.  I cut my swim short and ended up losing discipline and 'oversnacking' a little bit.  I knew I was finally feeling the effects of several weeks of steady training, which hasn't happened much this year. 

Then, today, I felt better on my workouts than I have any other day of the year.  Oh, my legs still felt a tad sluggish and I would have loved to just relax a bit.  This morning was an easy 40 minute run, which felt easier than any run I've done all year.  I had to hold back from pushing the pace.  My 6x4min @105% CP workout this evening was a slow warmup, but I absolutely nailed the main set.  I closed it out with a shoulder rehab session.  Days like these are real confidence builders, and it was preceded by one of my worst days of the year. 

6x4 Workout (292W, 297W, 297W, 300W, 303W, 306W)

So I'm feeling good.  I did my power tests over the past two weeks and set a PR of 354W for my 5MP and stayed the same for my 20MP with a 295W.  It's not great, but I haven't done the training to expect differently.  I've got my run CV testing coming in the next two weeks, which is terrifying.  I'm not sure which is worse, the 20MP test or the 2 mile run test.  Either way, no fun!



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Training Baseline - The Starting Point

Alright, so where am I currently with my training?  Well, it's not pretty.  Turns out having a 1yr old and starting a new job isn't as easy as I expected. 

My son TJ was born in March of 2012.  Shortly after that I signed up for Timberman 70.3 and managed to have a solid lead up to the race.  It was a challenge, but I did what needed to be done.  4am workouts, lunchtime swims and very limited sleep was sustainable for a short time, and I pulled out a solid 4:41 for the race.  I was pretty happy with the time, and allowed myself to slack off afterwards.  Turns out that focused training period took it's toll and I struggled to regain the mental and physical rhythm needed to get back into training. 

 This changed everything!

 Timberman Run

I tried setting some new goals, but when I started my new job in November, my routine was turned upside down.  My commute tripled in length and my work hours shifted.  Now I was at my desk by 6am and didn't get any free time until 8pm once TJ was asleep.  It wasn't a good time to prioritize training for a triathlon. 

 There was a lot of this...

So I did what I could to stay active, raced a duathlon in February and did some physical therapy to work on an irritated shoulder.  A few weeks of good training would be followed by a week or two of inconsistent training.  Not what you want for fitness gains.


The graph above outlines my training since February '11.  This is a great illustration of what you DON'T want your training to look like.  You can see a good build in 2011 leading up to Buffalo Springs 70.3 in June, followed by an off season of fitness loss.  Then in 2012 you see the build for Timberman, followed by an offseason of fitness loss.    Since August of '12, I've had a few spurts but not enough to sustain increased fitness.  

Consistency over time is probably the most critical element of gaining fitness.  My training lacks that consistency on both a macro and micro level.  You see huge swings in fitness on an annual basis, but if you zoom in on the daily, weekly and monthly level, you'll see a similar lack of consistency. 

Getting ready for Ironman Cozumel, I can't help but have wishful thinking about what could have been if I'd just filled in those gaps with some more training.  But I still think I have a solid base.  My Critical Power (CP) is about as good as it's ever been.  My running fitness needs to be sharpened a bit, but it's the one sport I've stayed somewhat consistent with.  And swimming, my constant weakness, is showing some real promise now that I'm doing Master's Swim three times a week.  

I have a ton of work to do, but I'm also optimistic.  I've figured out the work routine, I'm getting sleep for the first time in 15 months and I've got the support of my wife, Analise.  Below are my current numbers:

Swim Pace:  100yd time of 1:20; Threshold pace of about 1:30
Bike: Critical Power of 279W
Run: Critical Velocity of 6:43min/mi

These values were tested earlier this year and all are due for updating.  Testing is ongoing now, so by the end of July I expect to have some new values to share.   I'm not sure what my target paces will be for the Ironman, but there's a lot of time to build!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 Season Overview

Alright, since this is going to primarily be a blog about triathlon, I'll get it started with what this season looks like.

It's late June already and 2013 has been a pretty unremarkable year so far for racing.  I raced Du the Polar Bear, a local duathlon, in February, for which I finished 2nd Age Group (AG) and 9th Overall (OA).  Okay finish, but not an improvement on previous years.  My first triathlon of the year was the Tejas Triathlon, a local sprint triathlon that was done under heavy weather conditions.  My 4th AG finish was pretty poor, and I'll post my race report from that one later.  Finally, I finished 5th OA at a 15k trail race (Gator Bait) just last weekend.

So disappointment so far, but there's still a lot of racing to go!  This year has been marked by a new job, new routine and continuing challenges with being a dad, so I'm still optimistic that the best is yet to come.  My race calendar for the rest of the year looks something like this:

14 July:  Shadow Creek Sprint Triathlon
4 August: Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon
24 August: Clearlake Olympic Triathlon
2 September: Houston Olympic Triathlon
30 September: Du the Bear Duathlon
21 October: Austin 70.3
1 December: IM Cozumel

Obviously, the headliner is Cozumel.  I'll post a separate post on my expectations and plans for the race, but it's a recent addition and it's gotten me really motivated about my training.  My wife, Analise, is racing it as well, and since she's the one who first got me into this sport anyway, having her train always helps me keep a positive outlook as well.  I never train as well when she isn't.

There are about six months until the Ironman.  That's a lot of training and racing between now and then.  I'll share the journey, the challenges, the low moments and the highlights along the way.  The end result should be a fun race, a solid result and great vacation out of it all.  In the big picture, this is an escape from the drudgery of corporate life, so it HAS to be fun. If it's not, then it's all a waste of time!

Let's get this started!

A blog?  Me?  Really?

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of personal blogs.  I enjoy those done by my friends, but I've always been in the camp of those folks who felt that everyone and their brother had a blog, and very few of them were really interesting.  I never saw myself throwing my hat in with that lot...

...yet here I am.  I've considered doing this before, but always figured it would just be another waste of my very limited time, with little real benefit.  Maybe that'll be the case, but I've taken a very different view on what the purpose of a blog is and who it's really for.

My audience is whoever cares to read this.  Family, friends, athletes, coworkers; all are welcome, but none are necessary.  This is for me.  A grown man's diary if you will, but more accurately just an outlet for all those conversations I have with myself during those workouts and long commutes.  If nothing else, putting them down in writing will help me stay focused, keep balance and keep a log for future reference. 

My hope is that others will find this interesting as well.  A good portion of this will be personal; my training, my life, my races, my family, etc..  However, I'm also going to discuss topics related to triathlon that I find interesting and that can be educational to others.  Training, diet, racing, coaching will all be discussed, with as much science, detail and evidence based conclusions as possible. 

In the next few days, I'll probably have an avalanche of posts to get some things started.  Don't expect that to continue; it's a slow week at work and there will be periods where this blog is so far down on the priority list that I may forget how to access my account!

Email me with questions, requested topics or any feedback.  


Disclaimer: I'm out of practice with writing, so I hope I improve over time.  I use too many exclamation marks and probably misuse punctuation regularly, but my hope is that my writing communicates more personality that I manage to do in real life!