Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Looks like the weather will be good for the race.  Other than the 20mph winds they are calling for all day! 

So far feeling pretty good, a little worried about my left leg still, but that is what the off season is for.

Leaving for Myrtle Beach in the morning...back Monday night.  Hopefully my bike is in one piece.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Race Goals

Race goals:

Well, as the race approaches it is time to think about goals. Not that I haven’t prior to now, but now I am putting them into writing.

I need to make a couple assumptions…these may or may not work out.

First, good weather under 80 degrees. That is pretty typical of the area from what I understand.
Second, I am assuming very little wind.
Third, a very flat course – this one is fact.
Fourth, my leg will be fine.
Fifth, shorter transitions. – I will be more focused on transitions this time, but some are longer than others.
Sixth and accurate wetsuit legal swim with no current.

Based on those items, here is what I am thinking I can do given current fitness and health.

Swim – I have been swimming quite a bit and pretty fast. I am faster than I was at Elkhart Lake and feeling very strong in the water. I’m certainly faster than I was in Racine. Wednesday I did 3 fast 100’s. First one was a :59 and I wasn’t breathing that heavy. Next one was a 1:03, third was a :45. Errrr wait…the pace clock broke. Its taper time!! To the hot tub!  Today I did a sprint set of 1x200, 1x100, 1x50, 1x100, 3x50...the 200s and 100s were negative splits and the 50s were sprints.  On the first 200 I did a 2:20 no problem, then I did a 1:07 followed by the 50's which I didn't track that close.  All were near :30s.  I did that set twice and got faster the 2nd time hitting a 2:15 and followed by a 1:03.  So I am feeling very good. 

Assuming the swim course is accurate and the current isn’t severe I should be able to go 26-27 minutes if I don't slack. However I know there is a current for about .3 miles, and I doubt I’ll be able to use a wetsuit. Given those conditions my real goal is to place in the top 10 swimmers. I am in the very first wave with M30-39. That is a big, fast age group and there should be plenty of drafting opportunities. Bring on the feet!!! No wetsuits is a big advantage to us swimmers, especially in a current. I am looking to build a solid lead in the water. So, let’s call it 27 minutes and we’ll see what the day brings.

Bike – It is my understanding that the bike is dead flat. It is on the freeway. So gentle inclines/declines. Nothing severe. This suits my size perfectly. My goal is to average 255-260 watts for the entire ride. That should put me above 23mph. I’d love to hit a 2:24 – 2:26 on the bike. The wind and heat will dictate what is possible. Anything over 85 and I start to melt. At Racine I did 248 watts and knew I was taking it easy due to a lack of long rides prior to the race. This time I don’t have that problem and plan to push the pace a bit harder into zone 3. A month ago I did a 3hr ride at 270 watts and ran an hour at a 7:40 pace. It was a pretty warm day as I recall.

I plan to wear a fuel belt this time. It will have a flask with gu water and salt sticks. I was messing around too much in Racine. This should make the process much easier and I’ll only need water at aid stations. Stick with fuel I’m used to.
Unfortunately I just found out they only have one aid station. So I'll have to carry 3 bottles with me the whole way.  1 for calories and 2 for water.  I'll exchange the waters.

Run – Also a flat course. This will really depend on my calf. I have been doing some running. Overall it feels fine, but I can tell the bike fit is causing a bit of trouble from the hip down to the calf. I need to get this looked at in the off season. But I think I’ve noticed a new potential cause.

Since I started my new job, I’ve been doing a lot of walking. From parking to the buildings and then all over the buildings pretty often. Just from parking to my desk and back is about a mile. And with this job I am in dress shoes. And the bigger item, I’ve noticed it is not my calf that hurts, it is my heel/ankle/Achilles area that is aching. So, I am going to get some walking shoes for the walk and see if that helps.  But I know my leg feels worse after hard rides.  I already have a fitting appointment in October with my PT to get this fixed.  I had a similar problem when I screwed up my own cleat we'll see what Tom has to say this time.

Anyway, for the most part everything is fine. But I am doing a lot of trigger point and heat/ice. My runs have felt great. In fact, I’ve really had to hold back. There have been several instances where I’ve gone for a run only to look at my Garmin to see I’m running a 6:45 pace. Whoa cowboy…easy run. My goal until the race is to get in a 30-45 minute run every other day. That will maintain my running legs and keep me sharp. Ideally without aggravating anything. If I really feel good next week I might get in a threshold/race pace type run.  Running doesn't actually hurt my leg, I think the original calf problem has healed and now I'm left with the aggrivation of the bike fit/walking thingy.

At Racine my goal was to run 8:00’s, I ran 8:20’s and really faded in the heat. Despite the injury the half marathon gave me a lot of confidence. Assuming the weather is good, I really think I can break 8min/mile with good pacing on the bike. 255-260 watts is toward the upper end for me, but isn’t out of reason by any means. I've got a lot more hard training under my belt since Racine too.  But like last time, if I look down and see 260 watts with 24mph average, I’ll back off to make sure I have a good run. Going a minute faster on the bike only to die on the run will cost me more than a minute.

Anyway, 27 minutes on the swim, 23mph on the bike, and 8min/mile on the run is a 4:38. Add 2min per transition and we’re looking at a 4:42. That is 11min faster than Racine, a similar but hotter course. If I do that, I’d like to think I’ll make the top 20 in M30-34 and qualify for the ITU World Championships. As always conditions will dictate what is possible. Think cool, dry, calm.

ITU Worlds is on the Silverman course…proclaimed hardest course in the world. Sounds wonderful!  I looked at the profile.  It didnt look fun.

My baby has been shipped down to Myrtle Beach.  I didn't like the way it fit into the box...the big chain ring seemed to bulge the case out quite a bit.  I'll be nervous until I see the bike in one piece.  I was in a big hurry to get it out the door on Wednesday...shipping it home I think I'll remove the chain ring to be safe.  Please nice to my bike!!!

I’ve decided to join Endurance Nation. It’s a good intermediate step between being self coached and a one-on-one coach. I’ll get good training plans, tips, nutrition, race strategy, the works. I’ll start that up in November.

Hopefully next season will be geared towards ITU Worlds.  I have IMWI in my thoughts for 2012.  I want to build up a lot more speed before doing that again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race Preparations

Race Preparations:

Race day approaches. The next two weeks are shorter and more intense. Unfortunately my running has been not so good. My calf/hamstring are still tight and sore from the half marathon and I think I’ve discovered the underlying problem.

Six weeks ago I got a new fit from John at Bicycle Doctor. I was, and am, very happy with the new fit. I feel strong and solid on the bike. Some of my training rides have been very very good. But in the weeks after the fit, I noticed some problems. Most noticeably my lower back on the left side was sore, going right into my hip/glute. It would not really effect my running, but still hurt and would cause a power drop on the bike. 2.5 weeks ago I went to do a long hard ride to get a solid gauge on my pacing and averaged 270 watts for 3 hours and then ran an hour at a sub-8minute pace. Felt great. But that ride made me go back to see John to figure out what the problem was.

As it turns out, I’m twisted. Anyone who knows me already knows this. But now it is literally true as well as figuratively. Anyway, John noticed that my right side is much stronger on my left side and that I am straining my left back/hip/leg because I am not engaging those muscles appropriately. In fact, my left leg is just tagging along for the ride and doing very little work. The new fit helped fix the problem, but I also had to really focus on using my left leg more while cycling. He felt pretty strongly that once I did that and got used to it, I’d see a pretty significant power spike as both legs shared the load.

The problem however is that my left side and leg were tight and sore from the work. Enter my first half marathon where I was going to take easy. Well, I took it a little harder than easy…and now my hamstring is tight/strained/sore causing tightness and soreness in my calf. I have to say, I was wondering why a run would cause this problem when I was in shape and ready for it. But the timing makes perfect sense. The new fit forced more left leg engagement, even if I wasn’t focused on it, creating a tired left leg…specifically hamstring.

I got a massage yesterday to work on this specifically. I was ready to cry like a girl. She had her elbow in my hamstring and was doing ART type movements with my leg…I yelled mercy once (not kidding)…and was ready to start saying, “thank you sir, may I have another.” It was brutal. The hamstring is really sore, possibly bruised, but it did release a bit. So I’ll be biking and rolling on the trigger point to try and get the muscle to release. Plus ice and heat.

Normally I’d be really freaked with only a little running with 1.5 weeks to go. But I am very confident. I have been doing some running…and actually have to hold myself back a bit. I can’t gain much by running hard at this point, but I can cause a lot of damage. I have really been focused on swimming and biking. I did my 10x100’s last week and finished with a total time of 12:51. So minus the rest I’m at 11:21 which is a 1:08 pace. Not too shabby. I’ve been doing more interval work on the bike to make sure my legs are good and ready for 255-265 watts on race day. And as long as I can run the final couple weeks, even just 30 minutes at a time, I think my run fitness will be there. Aerobically I’m in great shape. I’ll take the run as it comes, but I just don’t think I’ll lose fitness for this race given the additional work I’ve been doing on the bike and being able to at least run 4 times per week. Some people only run 4 times per week…and not doing a long or interval run 3-4 weeks out isn’t necessarily bad either.
Hopefully it will be enough to qualify for the ITU World Championships, I need a top 20 in the age group. 

I am officially stuck inside for the remainder of my cycling season unless I want to drive. Construction is everywhere…and my typical route to leave the neighborhood is buried under heavy equipment and gravel. If only they could have waited 2 more weeks!! But next year I’ll have some great roads to ride on. That will be nice.

I’ve been thinking about the off-season as well as next season a lot. Specifically I am looking at some Endurance Nation training plans. I really like their mentality when it comes to bike training. I did what I’ll refer to as an intermediate or beginner plan this off season and made big improvements. I’m leaning towards becoming a member.

I’d be putting a really strong emphasis on biking, more than I normally would. But the rides are shorter…which is very helpful. Watching my TSS numbers it is always the long ride that buries me from a stress standpoint. So I think I am going to follow their bike plan with 3-4 HARD interval days per week coupled with their running plan that focuses harder runs…but I may swap a little towards volume instead of speed. I need to discuss that with them.

My ultimate goal is to keep my hours under 10 per week. There won’t be any long rides on the trainer. 2hrs maximum and only on occasion. I’d be riding 5 times and running 6. But many of the runs are nice and small and the rides are almost all around an hour. So that should really do the trick. We’ll see. I have a trial membership to EN and need to ask them some questions.

I’m not sure why, but I really look forward to the shorter harder training sets in the off season. Maybe its because I expect some really good things next season as I continue to improve and drop to 185 pounds. Or…maybe its because I’m tired of going out spending half the day riding/running and waking up early. Sleeping in is GOOOOD!!

Anyway, today is a day off for me as taper time is starting. I need to get things packed and figure out how to take my bike apart and into the case for shipping. Its gotta be at Fedex by the 23rd at noon.  That means late the 22nd.  Thankfully I have a road bike or I’d be without my bike for 8 days right before the race. Since I can’t ride outside anyway, I figure I’ll just put my road bike on the computrainer and do the work there.  Such fun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lake Country Half Marathon

So as many of you know I was a bit sick last week. I also had my first half marathon race that Saturday. I thought I’d write up a little report on how it went.

After talking with several people I decided that it would be best if I simply ran the race as a training day and dialed back the intensity. Between being sick and needing to have some good training days prior to Nationals, this was the best plan.

The plan was to meet Aimee’s father at the race venue around 6:30 for the race start at 7am. I wasn’t particularly anxious since it wasn’t a big race, otherwise I would have thought things through a little better. Long story short, had there been no traffic or parking trouble everything would have been fine. Unfortunately there was no parking. We ended up parking about a half mile away after waiting in line for about 20 minutes. We got to the race and got out packet in a very hurried manner. I had forgotten my race belt and needed to safety pin my number. I had left my long pants on as it was cold. Next thing I know the announcer is yelling to get people to the start. I rip off my pants and carry them with since I didn’t know what else to do. Ended up getting to the start area and seeded myself at an 8min pace knowing I’d be faster.

No sooner than I got there and the race started. I was still not situated as my pants, keys, and two gu’s were in my hands.

Off we go. Within about 100 yards my keys and gu’s fly out of my hands as I try to tie my pants around my waist. Great start as I nearly kill people trying to get them. Gu’s I can live without…but not the car keys.

Finally I get situated and get a rhythm going.

The first mile was easy. It was my first time running in a group and it was nice. I clipped off an 8:05 pace and wasn’t even trying. I decided to pass a big chunk of people that were annoying me, so the 2nd mile was a 7:47. At that point I made the decision to attack every hill. The pace felt ridiculously easy and off I went. Mile 3 – 7:35.

I liked that pace and everything felt very effortless. HR was in a good spot, legs felt great. People were still near me, but not the bigger packs as I had left the 8min/mile group behind.

At mile 6 there was a bigger climb. In relation to what I normally run on it was average. But it was the biggest climb of the day. I decided to drop the hammer then and there. And I did so not only on the incline, but then again on the decline. I remember looking at my split (7:06) and thinking…oops. But I still felt fine and wasn’t breathing heavy or anything. Unfortunately my HR monitor was going bonkers.

Miles 7 and 8 were both at a 7:18 pace as I dialed it back a notch and was still feeling really good.

At mile 9 my left hip and calf got a bit tight. But I was still feeling great and passing a lot of people. I figured I had taken it easy for long enough and decided to push the pace for the remainder of the race.

Mile 9 – 7:06
Mile 10 – 7:03
Mile 11 – 7:06
Mile 12 - 6:56
Finished with an average of 7:20.

I finished up and was pretty tired. Legs were tight and tired but feeling good. So, mission accomplished. I finished with a 1:36:09 on my garmin. Certainly a PR, although it was my first real run race.

More importantly I did not have to sacrifice any training to recover other than skipping an easy run. Plus I gave myself a shot of confidence. If I had warmed up and started faster I don’t think there is any doubt I could have held a 7:05-7:10 pace. So depending on the weather I really should be able to do a half-ironman run in the 8:40 range with proper pacing. Racine was pretty hot, so my run pacing wasn’t the best. But now I have a better understanding of what I am capable of.

Unfortunately over the week I've noticed my left calf is still a problem.  I took 2 days off of running to recover and ran Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday was probably a little too hard as the calf is still pretty sore and it did hurt during the run.  Therefore I won't run today and bike instead.  I'm not supposed to run tomorrow as it is my day off.  And we'll see how Saturday and Sunday go. 
I want to do a final race simulation on sunday - 3hour ride @ 265 watts followed by a 1hr hard run.  The ride won't be a problem, we'll see how the run feels.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Final stretch

So it has been a little while and a lot has happened. Forgive the long posting.

First, I started a new job. I’m now at Northwestern Mutual with a couple other Gear Grinders and other people I knew. Everything is going well there, but transitioning to a new job is a bit stressful. Especially moving from a “secure” full-time position to an hourly contractor. It is a little nerve wracking and I was feeling the stress most of the week.

I saw my GI doctor about 2 weeks ago. Due to the several bowel obstructions I’ve had over the last several months we decided to try a low dose of prednisone for a month. I started that on the 25th or so. Unfortunately I had another obstruction despite the prednisone. As a result my training almost all week has been nothing.

Starting Saturday I could just tell I was worn down. I certainly don’t have my training plan down as I continue to have great days and then HORRIBLE days. Part of my problem is feeling really good one day and pushing too hard only to suffer later in the week when I am supposed to have a quality workout. I am certainly not doing myself any favors in that regard. This off season I plan to do a lot of reading on proper training plans and things like that.

Anyway, Saturday was supposed to be an interval run. My legs were like lead the entire way so I simply put in a 60 minute run. At this point the volume is as important as any speed work I might do. I followed that up with a 90 min masters swim. Sunday came and I was going to do an easy ride a little longer than normal, about 4 hours. I quickly realized two things when I started riding. #1, I was wasted. Easy ride or not, I was tired. #2, I hate easy rides. I don’t know what it is, easy zone 2 stuff bores me to death. I did one loop at around 30 miles, by the end of that loop I was really negative and wanting to stop. But I forced myself to refill my water bottles and hit loop two. I headed out for loop 2 and gave up 5 miles in and turned around. I just couldn’t get going.

There are a few reasons for what is happening to me…IMO.
  • First, this is by far the biggest training season of my life. I am tracking more and watching more and can easily see the additional volume I’ve done. Realistically it is probably too much considering the number of years I’ve been serious about this sport.
  • Second, I continue to behave as if I don’t actually have Crohns disease. Crohns brings with it a whole host of issues including internal bleeding, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, pain, etc, etc. And I continue to eat and act like I am perfectly healthy. Part of that is normal for me, but this season has been especially bad. Specifically my diet has been very bad with regards to Crohns. The funny thing is that my diet has been very healthy, for the most part. I’ve been eating more salads and a TON more fruit than usual. While that is “healthy” for a normal person, I am far from normal. That roughage is very difficult on my gut and I’ve been ignoring that fact. Yet if I look back, most of my attacks – including this weeks – have come immediately following a very large serving of fruit and/or salad. This is all stuff I know and apparently refuse to acknowledge as I train. 
  • Third, I continue to train in a somewhat foolish and impatient manner. I have great weeks near 15 hours that have both volume and intensity, and then I have weeks with neither volume or intensity. I often times find myself doing the same workouts week in and week out, only trying to do them harder and faster each week. Typically I forget to even look at my training plan as I know what I am supposed to do each day because I never change the plan. However intensity and durations do change, I often don’t look at that until it is too late. 
  • Lastly, I am a little burned out in general. I started training HARD about two weeks after IMWI last year. From that point on I have been running and biking more than I ever have in the past. And during a typical season I would already be done and relaxing by now or at least in my taper. Instead I am training for an “A” race in October. While that is great, it is a lot of extra work.
So here I sit with 4 full weeks until Nationals. I took Tuesday afternoon off, Wednesday completely off, and did only a 20 minute run last night due to my gut issues. The stress from starting a new job seems to have died off as I really like where I am right now.

But now I have a couple things to consider. First off, I have a race tomorrow. It is my wife’s birthday and she wanted to do the lake country half marathon. She’ll be walking with her dad and I’ll be running. While I’ll be rested, I am not sure how hard I want to push as it will hurt my ability to train if I really go hard. Originally I wanted to start at a 7:10 pace and just see if I can hold it. The charts say I should be able to, we’ll see. I think I will make that decision later tonight depending on how my gut feels.

I’ve been having a lot of hip trouble due to my new bike fit. I am getting that looked at on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll get it resolved.

Plus my shoulder has had enough swimming. I doubt I will do any swimming this off season and will focus on rehab and strength instead. At most I swim 10k yards a week and am still a top tri-swimmer. I know I’d be much faster if I swam more, but the shoulder continues to be a problem. I need to correct that if possible. It’s a far cry from my true swimming ability…but I don’t really care that much either. We’re talking about a difference of 1-3 minutes in a half-iron race. I can still get 30 minutes faster in my run and 15 faster on the bike before I am at the elite level. So my time is better spent there as I am an elite swimmer with only 10k yards/week. Plus I can start swimming in March/April and be in 19 minute Oly shape by June.

So, I have a lot of problems and need an off-season to sort through some of this stuff. I’ve been thinking about my off season plans a lot lately too. That is a good indication that I am ready to be done for a while. My current train of thought is to take 2 full weeks off with maybe some minimal running, nothing longer than 30 minutes. After two weeks I think I’ll take another 2 weeks of running only where I continue to build on my volume. No intervals, rather getting from a 30:60:90 run plan up to 40:80:120. That is 400 minutes or a little more than 6.6 hours of running. Roughly 45-50 miles per week depending on pace. That is a lot of volume for me, so I figure my biking will be just enough to maintain bike fitness. I am also assuming that will take me from November – January to get there. If I simply add 10% per week it would only take 5 weeks to make the jump. But realistically it will take a bit longer as I don’t want to get injured. I also want to spend some time doing that volume.

I am thinking that at some point in January I’ll transition over to more of a bike focus and drop my running numbers down to 30:60:90. That way I can drop down 3 quality rides and 2 easier rides during the week and still maintain my running gains. This year I was really able to improve both my run and bike. That was because my initial run volumes were so low I could still bike really hard. As I got to the season and tried that with additional swimming, I couldn’t really maintain it. So my thought process is to improve both again this off season with 3-month spurts in each sport while maintaining the other. So while I focus on my running I will only do 1 hard ride with 2-3 easier rides. The interval ride will only be 60 minutes or so. When I focus on biking I may still run 6 days per week, but there will be no interval running and my long run won’t be longer than 90 minutes. I will stagger things from morning to afternoon for additional recovery. Plus I will take 1 full day off every week. And the biggest change will be eliminating my really long ride as that is what typically hits me with the biggest TSS score. 2 hours will be the maximum on the trainer. And during my run focus I doubt I’ll go that long. I’m not training for an Ironman and once the spring hits getting the endurance for a 3 hour ride is easy. I’m taking an Endurance Nation type of mentality with my training as that is what worked so well this season. Focus on run volume and bike power, to hell with swimming.

Those are my general thoughts right now. They may change as the off-season approaches. We shall see.  I still need to focus on my final race of the year and final preparations.

Good luck to all those doing IMWI.