Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why resting sucks!!

Apparently resting is no good.

During the season I had my share of problems. No big deal, you work through like everyone else. I had a couple weeks of down time planned before starting a training plan again. I wanted to do some light stuff, but nothing much. A couple light trainer rides and some jogging for fun. Nothing big, nothing hard, most importantly, nothing over 60 minutes!! Right off the bat, problems start hitting. And since one of my favorite hobbies is poking fun at myself, I thought I’d share.  "They called me Mr. Glass" Samual L Jackson - Unbreakable.

First, my Crohns flares again. Frankly I am getting tired of this annoying little disease. I don’t know what the problem is. My diet is fine, my health is fine. But this disease just won’t go back into remission. Called the doc, we’re increasing my other meds. Unfortunately that is more of a long-term solution. In the short term I have another call into him today because I’m irritated with the continual problems. I am aggressive by my nature and want to pound the disease into submission…even if that means a month or two on prednisone. I want to kick its ass back into remission and then keep it there!

Then I went to my Rheumatologist for a checkup. I have rheumatoid arthritis (caused by the crohns), but it has been under control for years. So this is just a formality with some blood work. I typically get worked up to see him because he nags me about my blood pressure. Apparently I was more than a little worked up. 150/100 – NOT GOOD!! I think he suspected I might have a stroke right there!  He made me promise to see my General Practitioner. CRAP!

Went and saw the GP, and we can add another med to the list. An ACE inhibitor which should not have an effect on athletics. Wonderful.

By the way, I hate medications. All medications have side-effects. They all screw with your body. I prefer a more natural approach. Unfortunately I don’t have much choice in the matter as my BP isn’t a diet thing, weight thing, or stress thing. It is most likely a genetic thing.

Third, I start running and my calves are tight. Not just a little tight…but really tight. The kind that doesn’t seem to warm up. I sleep with the boot, I stretch, I foam roll. Nothing seems to help. I don’t know what I was going to do about it because then I sneezed…and the FOURTH ailment to hit in a 2-week span is a strained lower abdomen. It was bad enough, and in a sensitive enough location to make me think I had a hernia. No joke. It was bad enough to get me back to see my GP 2 days after seeing him for my BP.
Doc, you are welcome, please enjoy your visit to the Cayman Islands on me!
“Haywood leads the league in most offensive categories including nose hair. When this guy sneezes he looks like a party favor!” - Major League.

The good news is my tight calves don’t have to run. I can’t run with my ab strain…I can hardly get out of a chair. What a wimp!!

What self respecting athlete sneezes and strains their abs? Seriously?! I can handle pain. With Crohns that comes with the territory, especially if I am ready for the pain. The abs hurt badly. I couldn’t sit or stand easily. Lying down or getting up – no good. Sneezing or coughing was like death. They still hurt and I can’t train at all. Once again my body’s way of making sure I rest.

There was a quote from the movie “Twins” with Ahnuld Schwarzenegger! It went something like this...the doctor was talking to Danny Divito and Ahnuld…I can’t remember the character names.

“Ahnuld you are perfect in every way. We took the best genetics from all of the donors and gave them to you.” *looks at Danny Devito* “And you were all the sh*t that was left over!!”  In case you're wondering I'm Danny Devito in that little depiction.

I’d like to take this time to thank my parents for giving me all the sh*t left over!! Does my sister have any of these problems…noooooo. Of course not!! She had to wear glasses, that’s about it. She always was the perfect little angel. @#!**#!

Allow me to list my ailments starting with the most severe and getting to just plain silly.
I have Crohns, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis. We’ll get those out of the way now.
I had bad eyesight requiring lasiks surgery.
I had 4 impacted wisdom teeth. Ouch!
I had a giant bunion on my right foot…that required surgery.
I had a hammer toe because the bunion – also needing surgery.
According to my wife I have poor hearing. (I think she mumbles)
My teeth required years of braces..almost a decade!!
Plantars warts - @#$!& pool decks.
My second toe is too long and buts up against my socks. It hurts.
Lastly…I’m balding.
The balding thing is really just spiteful. 
On the bright side I'm approaching 10 surgeries of some vareity.  At 10 I think I just become bionic and don't have to worry about this crap any more.

Thanks mom and dad!! You’re the greatest!  To their credit, I almost never get sick.  When I do catch something, it is gone in 24 hours or so.  That's a plus I guess.

Does that sound like the prototypical athlete to you? I say NAY! I think it sounds like someone that should be in a group-care facility. Perhaps a facility with a short yellow bus.  I think it’s a miracle I wake up some days. Haha. I’m surprised I’m a functioning adult and not hooked up to a machine clinging to life. (I guess the adult part is up for debate!)

If you can’t tell I’m a bit cranky. There is a good reason for that, today I decided it might be a good idea to go without my morning energy drink. I don’t really care for coffee, so I have a hot chocolate type drink with caffeine and guarana. It is probably worth 3 cups of coffee in one. Typically I only take it during the week anyway, not on weekends. But I thought with high blood pressure and all it may be a great idea to stop this drink and see how it impacts my BP.

I won’t go so far as to say that was a mistake on my part. I will however say I am shocked at how dependent I am on that morning drink. I have a headache, which is pretty rare for me. And while I have been very good about not having soda this week, I am quietly confident that I will be getting a bladder busting mountain dew shortly to make up for this.

A few weeks back I scolded Scott for this same thing. He however gave up on caffeine during his taper for IMWI. I can’t even imagine. If his withdrawal was anything like mine is now…no wonder he was a slobbering emotional mess…tapers suck with caffine. Don’t forget folks…caffeine is a drug like any other. Withdrawal SUCKS. So yes, I am crabby.

Anyway…this post is meant to be funny as one of my favorite hobbies is making fun of myself. Hopefully people take it as such. If you think I’m being a whining little baby…you don’t know me that well.

My training ramps back up in November.  Time to nurse myself back to health...and get used to this no caffeine thing.  blah!!  At least on the weekend I won't think about it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 in Review -- Part Duex

2010 Goals:

For 2010 I had several different goals. I can’t remember if I listed them out on previous blogs, but I will list them here now.

1. Do not get an overuse injury from running/cycling

2. Lose 20 pounds by end of March to assist in this injury free endeavor. (easier on the legs and joints if I am lighter)
--Accomplished. I started the season at 220 and dropped to 200. At my lowest I was 197.

3. Run a sub :43 at an OLY this year.
--Missed/Accomplished. I came very close to doing this. Unfortunately for me, my fastest Oly race of the year was Pleasant Prairie where I sprained my knee. In that race I ran a 43:45ish but honestly had no urgency in that run as I expected to DNF after the swim.

I did Tri-ing for children’s but between a half Iron the week before and a new bike fit, I was wasted and did not race well.

I have zero doubt in my mind that if I were to race an Oly tomorrow I could hit this goal. But because I switched from Oly focus to ½ Iron, I didn’t actually do it. Having said that, it turns out this was a very realistic goal for me this year and one that is essentially complete. So while I did not actually hit it, I am going to check it off the list for the sake of re-writing my goals for 2011.

4. Break 1hr 40K bike ride.
Missed – This was a bit optimistic. But was it?? For almost the entire year I was riding on a very un-aero and improper bike fit. Between my trainer riding sitting upright and my aero position being very sloppy, I never put my best foot forward on race day. I raced many flat courses with very little wind. At my power output I should have been close. But I never was.

While I will be working on building freakishly strong biking legs this off season, I need to address my aero position as well. I did part of that with a new bike fit from Bike Doctor, but I think it is time I suck it up and post some pictures on Slowtwitch for some aero critique. I have little doubt I’ll get called fat and they’ll make fun of whatever they find…I can take it. I’ll have to get Aimee to snap some pictures.

While I did not hit this goal during the season I will say this. The fact that I hit 22.7mph on my bad fit at Racine 70.3 on a calm flat course on 250 watts speaks to the slowness of my fit. I say that because I hit 23.1mph at Myrtle Beach on a flat but very windy course. For much of that ride it was a direct head wind with no shelter. While my ride was 20watts higher, the wind is a HUGE factor and should have slowed me down more with a bad fit. So I know my new fit is better, I just need to get used to it and see what happens on shorter courses.

Matt and Scott have made some changes, I’ll need to evaluate those as well.

5. Break 2:05 at an OLY race this year.
Missed – I missed this for a couple reasons.

First, my bike splits never got fast enough due to the fit and power. Without breaking an hour on the ride, going under 2:05 is tough…especially with my run. If I were a sub 40minute 10k runner, it would be different. But my swim/bike needed to make up for a slower run and they weren’t fast enough.

Second, Elkhart lake was my A race and it was a 45k bike, not 40k. It’s also very hilly. I had a chance at Pleasant Prairie but hurting my knee blew my shot. My swim was slow, my bike was decent but on the slower fit, and my run had no urgency due to the knee. I don’t think I ever hurt (except the knee) during that race. On that relaxed effort I ran a 43:45ish. At Tri-ing for Children’s I just didn’t have it.

If I had done an Oly distance race in later September or gone to USAT short Course Nats, I really think I would have had a shot at making this goal. I might not be quite there yet…but a 19:15 swim followed by a 1:02:15 on the bike leaves me 43:30 for the run to break 2:05:00. I think all of those are within reason when I am in peak form. The bike being the toughest part of that, and I’ve really improved since my last Oly. Unfortunately it will have to wait to next season with my new goals.

6. Qualify for AG Nats.
Complete – both Oly and ½ Iron distance. I almost qualified for ITU World Championships as well.

7. Break 4:50 in a HIM
Complete. Granted I didn’t actually do it. I did 4:53 at Racine. But at Myrtle Beach my times with no swim was a 4:15. You can’t tell me I would have been slower than 35 minutes in the water. With a properly measured swim I should have been near a 26. Add in some transition time and a better paced ride and we’re looking at a 4:45…since I wouldn’t have blown up on the run. (I would have followed my plan).

2011 Goals
Since many of my goals were either met, or I’m so close to them now it doesn’t make sense to keep them, it is time I began to think about new goals. I plan to do things a little differently. On the bike I will no longer be focused on specific time goals other than breaking an hour in the 40K. That is a big cycling benchmark and I need to break that next season. Call me cocky, I just don’t see it as a problem so long as I remain healthy and address my bike position. My run goals will be pace/time based as that’s all I have to work with. My swim goals will remain static. I want to swim and not destroy my shoulder. I will be doing rehab all off-season in the hopes of a pain-free next season. I think I’ll begin swimming in January or so due to a race in late May that will require a lot of fitness, Triple-T. I will list specific race benchmarks…they all assume good race-day conditions.

Pain free swimming. Rehab shoulder and get back to my happy place.

· I want to build my FTP to 375.

This is a LOFTY goal…and I want to get my logic out there so people don’t start to heckle me. First, I have only ridden hard for one year. Years prior I simply went out and rode with no goals, no intervals…all easy stuff. Last year was IMWI, all long slow training.

This off season I trained hard and had a lot of improvement. I know my body and how I react to training and how I built my speed in swimming. I really don’t think I am anywhere near my potential on the bike yet. Second, I hit an FTP of 320 early in the season sitting upright. Aero I am at 305 as I never did any intervals on the aero bars in the off season. My training was very haphazard all season due to my own mistakes, and I really feel like getting back to 320 will be a fast process. After that, going from 320 to 375 is a 17% increase. If I hit 350-360, I’ll still be pretty happy…especially if I weigh 185lbs. (That’s 4.47 w/kg, a crazy high number)

Like I said, it is a lofty goal. I might plateau somewhere in there. I may get too tired with the run program mixed in. I don’t know, but plan to have fun finding out. Call me sick, I love intervals on the trainer. I love hitting number oriented goals. It is translating that to the road where I sometimes struggle. And that is a big part of why I think I can do it. Some hate the pain, I love it. I used to love power lifting and being sore because I knew I worked hard. That translates perfectly to crushing workouts on the bike.

· Goal two is a time goal - break 1 hour in a 40k Oly Race. (not a standalone TT) -Realistically speaking, if I have a truly aero position and am able to hold 365-370 watts, I should be really fast on the bike. By that I mean breaking an hour should be easy.

But this heavily relies on bike handling and aero position. So far my speeds on the bike do not match up with my power outputs. This can only be caused by a couple things…bike handling and aerodynamics. If I want to be at the front of the pack I need to act like I belong there when racing. That means being aggressive on the turns. The final piece is being as aero as possible while maintaining my power. I think my position is un-aero, Matt and Scott agreed…now I need to learn how to correct that.

That is what makes the goal lofty (and fun), power is great…but to see the results on race day coupled with great handling and position.

Goal #1 – 10k in under 40 minutes, in an OLY race, not stand-alone. I think this is very realistic as this is my current 5k pace. Ideally I will be at this pace by the end of January.

Using Jack Daniels formulas I am currently sitting at a Vdot of 48. This is from my half marathon split of 1:36. I took off a couple minutes because I could have gone much harder early in the race. This tells me that my threshold pace is around a 7:05, and that is reasonably accurate. If I am going to compete and not get completely crushed on every run I need to get to a Vdot of about 55.

Vdot 55 would get me to a standalone 10k of 38 minutes. I think that is a pretty reasonable goal. My half marathon would be around a 1:25. And my half iron run splits should be in the neighborhood of 1:28-1:32 (assuming I don’t do a 30 minute FTP set at the beginning of the bike leg. Duh!!)

As this will be my 2nd year of real running I am expecting some pretty significant gains. But the biggest factor in my favor is my weight. My Vdot is a 48 at 200-205lbs. If I drop to a lean 185lbs that is a 20lb drop – according to many people that will take 40 seconds per mile off my pace (2s per lb per minute). I could potentially drop from 6:30’s to 5:50’s for my 5k splits based on that alone.

General goals:
Weight – 185-190. This will be look and feel based. I do not think this will be an unhealthy weight for me. This will be one of the biggest factors in hitting my bike/run goals as well. How I look and feel will determine if I drop from 190 to 185.

Injury free – Same as this year. Train smart, avoid over-use injuries. I’ll try not to face-plant myself again too. This goal is a really big deal to me because it encompasses so much. It means my Crohns stays under control. It also means I can train consistently for another full year. The biggest and bestest way to get fast is through consistency. I’m really excited to see what I can do.

Get proficient at the cycle-cross mount and dismount. –No more face plants.

The biggest and final goal of all is going to come in the form of race results. All the run pace and power numbers don’t mean a thing unless I can put it together on race day. So while I won’t put in race result goals right now…my general goals are going to be simple. Race to the potential I know I have, and what my training proves I can accomplish.

Race time goals are a funny thing. If I take my new goals and add them all together for a race time on a flat course, here is what it looks like. 19 swim, 59:40 bike(25mph), and 39:50 run(6:25 pace). That gives me a time of 1:58. Add in transitions and we’re looking at a 2:01 or so. When I look at my goals individually I can see it happening. While they will be very tough, they don’t seem completely unreasonable. But when I put it all together and realize I could potentially go under 2 hours at an Oly. Well let’s just say that sounds a little more unreasonable.

Let’s face it; I’d love to say things like I’m going to beat Matt, Scott, Joe, Justin and other elite triathletes in the area. But I need to be a little realistic too. The advantages I have on the swim and bike over normal age-groupers are completely negated by these guys.

While I could possibly put in the extra yardage and take Matt and Scott in the swim…what would that buy me? Even with a 15s lead out of the water, their run is so much better they’d pass me in transition just getting to my bike. Sadly, that isn’t an exaggeration. In a sense I’m in a bit of a no-man’s-land. I love competition and really enjoy racing specific people, but I don’t know who to choose. Most of the elite GG’s I would enjoy a rivalry with are a couple steps (and years) ahead of me, especially running.

If I am being honest with myself, as painful as it is, it is unrealistic for me to expect miracles like that. Running speed takes time and consistency. Until this season I’ve had neither. Breaking 40 minutes in an Oly 10k will be a big accomplishment for me all by itself as I can still remember running 10min/mile.

The only way I can see getting faster than that is if I lose the 20lbs pretty quickly and have my run times improve by 40s per mile as a result. At that point the rest of my off-season running would be spent improving from a threshold of 6:20 or so. Again, somewhat unrealistic. Having said that…the weight loss plan starts on Monday. J So we’ll see just how unrealistic it is.

So my biggest race goal will be to hit my personal expectations. Should I meet someone who is pretty close to my speed, perhaps we’ll start up a friendly rivalry. Ideally I’d like to qualify for the 70.3 world championships. I am a little torn about accepting a roll down slot. M35-39 is a really hard age group and taking top 2-3 would be quite a race for me. It might take something as crazy as a 4:20…and I doubt I’ll get to that speed that fast. But who knows…a 4:20 comes down to a 26 minute swim, a 2:22 on that bike, followed by a 1:32 run.

I can do a 26 minute swim.
On a calm day I would have easily done a 2:22 bike.
That leaves the run…I can’t do a 1:32 yet, but by the end of this off season I should be able to!

Who knows…one step at a time is a bit easier to deal with than talking about a 4:20.

2010 in Review -- Part 1

By all accounts 2010 was a big success for me. I went from a middle/back of the pack racer to a front/middle of the pack racer. That doesn’t sound like much, but I jumped over a lot of people. I also showed improvement in all three sports including swimming.

It has been a week or so since my final race and I have worked on this post for a few days and tried to think about what I need to do to continue to improve at my current pace, and where some pitfalls might be. I also want to review my pre-season goals and compare against what I actually accomplished. Surprisingly I find myself excited for my off season training plan to begin and am forcing myself to take off 2 weeks. I am still nursing a bit of an injury to my hip/knee/calf/foot. It is really minor, but the pain shoots from my hip all the way down. I need to get it figured out before getting serious again as I suspect my bike fit caused it.

Along with that success, however, have been some pretty large failures. Of particular note, my Crohns disease has been a bigger problem than any year in the past. At its worst, years ago, I would have a very bad occurrence once every 3 months or so. This year I had problems almost every month starting in February. Almost all were very small and did not disrupt my training too much, but they were enough to cause stress and cast some doubts on my ability to maintain my athleticism. This is something I will need to address in the off-season. It may be as simple as short-term medication, or it may require a series of tests to determine what the problem is, or perhaps a new long-term medication. I don’t care to be on medications and will have to address that with my doctor. I have a few months until my next appointment and am hoping to go issue free until then.

One of my main goals this season was to go without an over-use type of injury…mission accomplished. I am proud to say that the only injuries I sustained were from pure stupidity. At Lake Mills I bruised my arse by falling on it. At Elkhart Lake I got bumps and bruises from falling on my face. At Pleasant Prairie I sprained my knee getting into the water. And at the Lake Country half marathon I sprained my calf by running too hard after being sick. None of the injuries prevented me from training, so that is the silver lining.

If nothing else, this new-found injury-free status led to my improvements more than any other tool/technique. I am happy to report that I did not fall, crash, trip, or otherwise cause bodily harm to myself at the USAT National Championships. I am in the middle of 2 easy weeks before I start to do a little training for 2 weeks and then into my Endurance Nation Out-season training plan. Hopefully I don’t fall down between now and then.

2010 Successes:
From a macro perspective it is very easy to say this season was a success. My times in all three sports have come down, some dramatically. I have PR’d every event, every distance this year. I won my age group at Elkhart Lake. I had the fastest swim split at Lake Mills. I qualified for USAT Nationals and was very close to qualifying for ITU Worlds in a competitive field trying to go to Las Vegas. I split above 23mph in a ½ iron distance race. This success stems from several things.

OS Training:
First, my off season training plan was very different than previous years. I used an Endurance Nation type training plan that included a LOT of intervals. I watched my FTP go from an unmeasured 250 up to 320. I then watched it go down to 305 as I tested in the aero bars.

I started a new run program that had me able to run more miles at faster speeds than ever before, and I did it completely injury-free. This program started in November 2009 and had me happily running until my calf strain in September 2010. Even then I was able to maintain 3-4 days of easy running while it healed and had no problems at my race.

I lost a lot of weight getting under 200lbs for the first time since highschool. This played a large role in my running speed and will continue to do so as I drop to 185-190.

The other part of this success came from race simulation. Prior to my big races I went out and trained at race pace and followed it with a hard run to gauge how I felt and my fitness. It gave me a lot of confidence on race day. It is an Endurance Nation philosophy I hope to perfect this coming season. I will say this…I discovered at Myrtle Beach that my “race pace” on training rides was a bit conservative. I really believe that if I had been smart about my pacing and simply held an even-paced 270 watts, I could have held onto that run and finished with a 1:44 split. I need to let it all go, fear, doubt, disbelief. (Morpheus)

While I will also list this under my failures, this software really helped me get an understanding of why I was feeling the way I did. Long hard bike rides come with a cost, and when I would push beyond the prescribed workout I paid the price the following days/week. As a result I began to learn how to dial back my effort and rest where appropriate. This is something that will really help me in the future as I track my efforts.

2010 Failures:

WKO/Workout Consistency
First, I did not use WKO+ to the extent it can be used. Part of this was a conscious decision due to the lack of data. Part was not truly understanding the product. Part was laziness. I simply did not add the notes or information I should because it was boring. As a result of this there were many times I over-trained only to under-train and fall apart. I lost a LOT of training consistency because of this.

This is partly why I am excited about Endurance Nation. I will have a proven template of workouts to use. I can track them in WKO+ and copy them into the tool. It will give me a reference point for all future years, and I won’t have to deal with trial and error as much this year. I will have the workouts, I only need to execute them.

Aside from that, it will give every workout a purpose. I often found myself getting on my bike wondering what I should do and just “going for a ride”. It was simple volume with no clear direction. And while I am new enough to make a program like that work, making sure every workout has a purpose ensures no wasted time or energy. It also forces me to get the rest I need and should dramatically increase my chances of another year of strong improvements.

I never did hit my goal weight this season. I dropped below 200lbs on a few occasions only to jump back over days later. I love food, I love to eat. My sweet tooth is raging out of control. But if I want to reach my potential I need to get to 185-190lbs while maintaining my strength. This should not be a problem as I still have a mid-section to eliminate. I won’t be cutting into muscle at all.

At the end of the day I simply lost my focus. I would really focus for a week and lose a pound or two, only to lose focus the next week. Part of this is the “close enough” mentality. I finished my basement a couple years back. I put in the framing, electrical, drywall, bar, etc. But I’ve not quite gotten around to finishing the ceiling tile or other minor stuff. The reason is because it is “close enough” and certainly usable. Just like me. I saw huge improvements at this weight, close enough. The other problem is the Crohns disease causing trouble. It is tough to lose weight while eating a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.

Well, “good enough” isn’t going to cut it for next season. So this off season I will be really focusing on my nutrition. I will have to be careful with my Crohns as well however.

It seems like my ability to taper properly is nothing but a failure. Last season for Ironman I was sidelined due to Crohns and injury. Instead of a good taper of lower volume with race pace efforts, etc…I had a week off essentially. Not good for confidence.

This year it was the same story. My calf was worrisome, so I took it very easy running. My bike was in transit and causing other calf problems. So my week leading up to the race wasn’t very good. I am really hoping EN and having a plan to follow resolves this. I also need to address my pre-race stress levels as this may be causing issues with my Crohns.

It isn’t just that however. I really seem to lose focus during my tapers. Perhaps it is the month of September, I don’t know. I hope taking little mini-breaks during the off-season and in-season will alleviate this. A-races are A-races, everything else is a really fast and fun training day.

Until starting to write this posting, I had forgotten about all my goals. I had a general sense of what I wanted to do, and had individual race goals, but never reminded myself about the goals I had set early in the year. In 2011 I am going to print my goals and have them by my trainer so they are burned into my brain.

I fell on my face/ass too much. It was embarrassing, I’m an idiot. I think that sums it up really well.

Changes for 2011
I need to take better notes of my workouts and how I feel afterwards for review later. I need to track my swimming better as well. Adding my yardage and workouts into WKO was an afterthought at best. I have not checked, but if EN gives me swim workouts to complete, that will help quite a bit. They may have me swimming more yardage than I’d like, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. Who knows, a little more yardage and speed work may help me drop under 19 for Oly races. I know I am capable if my shoulder holds up.

Considering the limited amount of swimming I currently do, I think 18-minute Oly’s isn’t out of the question. My problem with that is the price I’d have to pay in both pain and time/energy. That time is much better spent on the bike and run until my improvements there slow down.

I think my key change for the upcoming season is going to be focus. I want my workouts to have a purpose. My most bored moments and hated workouts were those when I got on the trainer or road to do an easy workout with no real purpose or goal because I was too tired to do anything else. It bored me to tears and I hated it. If I have sets to accomplish I found it very easy to stay on task. A real training plan should help that quite a bit.

I lost sight of my key races throughout the year. As a result, after key races I never dropped out of race mode and took a break. We have a very short race season in Wisconsin and I really felt I needed to be training and racing through the entire summer. I would have been better served with some planned time off to recover and recharge. It may have prevented some illnesses and other issues.

I also need rest from a day-to-day perspective. Gone are the days of doing 3hr steady state rides at 270 watts only to miss key workouts during the week. Really hard days are great when they are called for, but that is not every weekend! I need to be smarter with my workouts and when I take rest.

Next: Goals

Thursday, October 7, 2010

USAT Nationals

So this past weekend was my last race of the year. I’m happy and bummed about that. Actually thinking I’ll seek out another race to finish the year with. Anyway, we left for Myrtle Beach on Thursday morning. Arrived at the condo that evening got my bike and everything was good to go. We walked around a bit, but nothing excessive.

Friday was packet pickup and bike check in. We had a smaller car and 4 people, so we all went to grab the race packet as we had to do some shopping anyway, plus I didn’t want to drop my bike off that early. Checked out the venue a bit, it was pretty large. I tried to figure out the swim…and it was pretty odd. There was a little ramp in the water that looked like it could handle 4-5 people. I wasn’t sure it could handle the congestion. But I wasn’t sure that was the start either.

Moving along, I got my stuff, got my bike checked in, and took it easy on Thursday evening while everyone else went to the boardwalk and checked things out.

Race Morning.
Realistically speaking this is only my second half Ironman. My first being in Racine where I qualified. I did do Pigman…I don’t count it because it was about 8 years ago and I had no idea what I was doing. I had no nutrition plan, very little fluids, it was over 100 degrees, and I almost died…probably should have. I bring this up because I don’t have a lot of experience to fall back on. What works for Olympic distance races may not work for the half iron distance.

I got up at 4:30, ate a bowl of life cereal, had an Ensure, and a banana. I did some stretching and left the condo at about 5:30. Got to transition and went through my checklist…brakes, wheels, clothes, etc. Everything was set so I went for a light warm-up jog. I got back and was checking everything again when they called everyone over for a critical announcement. The Race Director was practically in tears and people were thinking the whole race was going to be cancelled…only to learn that due to the 20 inches of rain they received the day before, the ecoli levels in the water were at dangerous levels and the swim was cancelled. F***********************CCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK. Really, what else is a swimmer going to say when the swim is cancelled? I was ready for this swim too. I was easily as fast as I was for Elkhart Lake, probably faster. I had every intention of pushing the pace for a fast swim.

Having said that, I’d rather have the swim cancelled than end up in the hospital. Considering the Immunosuppressant drugs I am on, I’d probably get sick. Even though I almost never get sick. In the end, they gathered everyone at the swim exit and had us start one at a time 3 seconds apart as if we were running through transition. Unfortunately that negates a 5-10 minute lead I’d get on a lot of people. I also figured my shot at the ITU World Championships was gone. My bike is fast enough, but my run is not there yet.

So they started me off, I already had my socks on and I ran up to transition, grabbed my bike and took off.

It was an interesting course to race as we were on the freeway system and had all 4 lanes to ourselves. It was very flat and incredibly fast. We did two loops and half the course was into the wind and the other half was with the wind. While the temperature and sun was fantastic, the wind was blowing at about 15mph…maybe a little harder. It would gust occasionally too. The sections that were into the wind were very challenging. I tried to get as low as I possibly could to negate the wind, but it was tough out there with no shelter of any kind. I did my best to legally draft as I passed people or got passed. But I never really found anyone going my pace. So for most of the race I was all alone. I tried to keep my power into the wind in check. But it was a strong wind and holding back meant going really slow.

Anyway, I ripped out of T1, hit the road and was pushing the pace pretty hard right from the start. The first piece of the course was with the wind, so I was moving at a good clip. As I turned into the wind I looked at my wattage I saw a number in the 300’s and thought…”whoa there big stallion!!” Without the swim there I told myself I’d push the bike a little harder but 300+ watts?!?! (I have not reviewed my race data yet, so I don’t have the actual numbers, will post when I look) Anyway, I have my watch set to show me splits every 5 miles. This gives me an alarm every 13-15 minutes or so and reminds me to eat/drink. I had relaxed before the first lap went off, so I wasn’t above 300, but still too high.

I don’t know what my exact wattage was for the next 5 miles, but I know it was too high. At that point I turned for the long section with the wind and said to myself, this is where I need to push the pace and get as much speed as I can. I did my best to hold those laps in the 265-270 range. At that point I realized I had to pee. Badly. I know many racers have successfully been able to pee while riding…I am not one of them. Normally I go in the water…but couldn’t this time.

Anyway, the bike portion was pretty uneventful. I settled myself down and got to a nice range of 260-270 watts. I was hovering right around an average of 23mph. Considering the wind, I was very happy with that. I started to get a bit tired towards the beginning of the 2nd loop…into the wind. I made sure I relaxed and dialed back the effort a notch to allow some recovery there so I could push the pace with the wind.

In the middle of lap 2 while riding with the wind I finally got to the point where I couldn’t tolerate the full bladder any more. In my head I was competing for a spot on the US Team and frankly needed to learn how to pee off the bike. I tried many things…and will spare everyone the details other than to say….SUCCESS!! I *flushed* by taking a bottle of water and spraying my leg down. Oh happy days!!

My nutrition plan consisted of one calorie bottle with 400 calories of Perpeteum and 300 calories of Heed plus 3 salt stick tabs. I also took 2 salt sticks separately. I then had roughly 4 bottles of water, however threw some of that away as I didn’t need it. In total I finished my calorie bottle and had roughly 3-4 bottles of water.

I ended the day with around 271 watts. Quite a bit higher than I had planned. But this led to a bike split of 2:25 which is a PR despite difficult conditions. I saw the split and wondered how much I might pay for that bike split on the run…... (I’m also left wondering how fast I would have been in Racine or on this course without the wind.)

Very uneventful. I already had my race number under my bike jersey so I racked my bike, pulled off the helmet, grabbed my gu flasks and took off. Fortunately I did not fall on my face.

The one thing on my mind for this race was the run. I had been injured the month prior and did not get in the running I wanted to before this race. In my mind the place this would cause a problem was mile 9/10. I knew I was in equal shape to Racine, possibly better shape. But with the limited running I just wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hold on as that endurance would be the first thing to go.

At Racine my goal was to simply hold 8min/mile. I did that for the first 6 miles or so, but the heat caught up to me and I slowed to 8:30’s for an average pace of 8:20. For this race I wanted to push it harder, and break 1:45 for the run.

I hit the run and immediately had a little issue, my quads felt like they were cramping. I’ve never had this happen other than at IMWI 2009. So I didn’t really know what to do. I had some salt sticks with me so I took one. I hadn’t planned on taking that until mile 1 with some water, but I had a water/gu mix in a flask and used that. Thankfully I never got the cramps or felt that way again.

Shortly after that, the little dudes that run my stomach hung a sign that said “Closed”. The first time I experienced something like this was at an Oly race in Lake Geneva like 7 years ago. I ate a clif bar on the bike and had massive gastro trouble because of it. These days I only take liquids in races to prevent that. But apparently I did something to cause a problem. I do not know if it was too much salt, fluids, calories, or my breakfast causing the problem. I’ll have to look into that. But I was in a fair amount of discomfort from about mile 1.5 on.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle it since there was a lot of racing to go…so I just put my head down and told myself to “giv’er”. Miles 1-6 were all between 7:30’s and 7:45’s. I was really happy with how I felt and pace. My initial thought process was to go as fast as I could for as long as I could. In my head, if I was going to slow down to an 8:30 pace like I did at Racine, I should go 7:30’s prior instead of 8:00’s. Plus it was cooler outside. Again I haven’t reviewed my laps yet…so I don’t know the exact details. But I hit the halfway point, saw Aimee, Jesse, and Jeff and was still moving really well. I still felt pretty good and was maintaining the same basic pace.

At mile 7 I did start to slow a bit, and had to quickly stop to go to the bathroom (tree, not port-a-potty). I’m not sure it is physically possible to pee while running. Anyway, I do know that mile was my first slower than an 8min/mile pace at 8:11. I put in some more effort and mile 7 was back below an 8min pace. Things were starting to hurt by then and I had not been able to put down much in the way of salt/calories or anything else. A sip of water here and there was about all. Miles 8 and 9 were a bit slower…but still close to an 8min pace. I wasn’t sure what would happen around mile 8 as that is where I really slowed down at Racine…but I know I held it pretty well.

I got to mile 10 and things got worse. My legs were cashed, hurting, and burning. Here is where my lack of experience came into play. I was hurting and knew that at some point I was going to have to change something. But I didn’t really know what to do. I had taken in enough calories, but wasn’t sure they were getting through. I knew I had not taken in enough water or salt…but didn’t want to try to eat anything else at that point. It was already too late.

An internal debate was raging inside me as I thought it was time to walk the aid stations. (I had not walked one yet). I kept telling myself that once you walk it is easier to walk again…don’t do it. I don’t remember exactly where I first walked on the course…but it was close to mile 10. At that point I wasn’t angry like I was at Racine, mostly because I pushed the bike and run much harder here. I wasn’t sure I could hold on, but wanted to try knowing I might blow up a little bit.

So at that point I employed a walk/run type strategy as even the 8:30 pace I tried to hold was hurting pretty bad. Looking back I am left wondering what would have happened if I simply slowed my run pace to 8:45’s – 9’s. I really don’t know. But I do know that I ended up walking for 30 seconds at every mile, and at one point even the half mile. My overall pace became 8:45’s – 9:15’s or so.

At mile 11, my stomach gave a few gurgles and opened back up for business. I’m not sure if it was the walking or what. But my first thought was, thanks a lot. As food went through I had some pretty bad waves of pain…similar to what I’ve dealt with on several long runs. (gas). I wasn’t worried, but it disrupted things a bit.

Anyway, I kept moving forward, looked at my watch and knew my time would still be better than Racine. Not as good as I wanted, but technically a Half Iron PR. I finished the run around a 1:46. A few of those last miles were at or above a 9 minute pace. Once I look at the race data I’ll have a better idea what happened and when as my memory is only so good. But if I had just been able to hold on a little longer I would have broken 1:45.

The good news is that I was/am very sore. So I know I worked hard as 3 days later I can still feel it. I like that because it reminds stops me from second-guessing myself too much. If I’m still this sore 3 days later, I put in a hard effort.

I placed 18th in the M30-34 age group. Top 20 qualify for ITU Worlds (20-25 are alternates) so great, I made it. BUT WAIT. That’s right…a new rule is in effect. Because I’ll be 35 next season, I have to qualify in the M35-39 age group where my time was good for ----- SURVEY SAYS!!! ---- 29th. Sucks to be me!!

Based on that I’m about 99% sure I will not qualify. I do not know who bumps into or out of the age groups and will get an email sometime this week. Granted I did not really expect to qualify…but had there been a swim, I’m pretty sure I would have been an alternate. I have no doubt there were fast swimmers at this race, but most of them were probably placing top 10-15 and beat me by 15-20 minutes. I would not have caught them. The folks placing 15th-28th however…there is a good chance I would have beaten some of them out of the water by a fair margin and moved up a few places.

I can’t say that for certain, but without taking the current into effect I wanted to go close to a 26 minute swim. With a current my time may have been slower, but my advantage would have been bigger. But who knows. I finished with a 4:15:45. If you add 30 minutes for swim, some additional T1, and a slightly slower bike I’m right around a 4:45. Still a PR.

Race Pace
Ok, I did not get the chance to post the above blog on Tuesday/Wednesday as I wanted to. I don’t have access at work. So I have now had the opportunity to review my race paces and let me say…damn. Someone on Slowtwitch has a signature that goes something like this…..”If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”. I think that applies to me in this case.

As it turns out I have selective memory. I really really thought that I got myself under control before the 5 mile mark. At it turns out I did the first 5 miles at 312 watts. That’s not a typo…312 watts, 7 watts above my functional power. Lap two – (miles 5-10) were done at 298 watts. Average that out and I rode at FTP for the first 25-30 minutes. As you will see, that decision proved to be somewhat…unfortunate.

My next three laps were around 275 watts. (15 watts higher than my original goal). At that point I got to the halfway point and my brain re-engaged…I purposely slowed down and brought my ride average down to 271. I do want to be clear on that point, at the halfway point I could have maintained my pace but chose to slow down. There was one section into the wind where I rode 254 watts and remember telling myself to relax that once I turned around I could go harder with the wind.

Onto the run. I started just fine. In fact my first 6 miles were right around a 7:40 pace. Aimee saw me at the turn and said I looked great. I did slow down at the halfway point, but didn’t feel bad at that point. But I think it is best that my splits do the talking...

First 6.5 miles – 7:35-7:40 pace. – Doing Great!!
Mile 6.5 – 10 – 8:10 pace. Holding strong!!
Mile 11 – 8:23 -- ummmm, not so good.
Mile 12 – 8:55 – Oh dear god!
Mile 13 – 9:53 – So much for the adrenaline at the last mile. Crash and burn.

And that kids is a lesson on what NOT to do!!

The good news…the two minutes I lost on those last two miles would not have mattered as far as the standings are concerned in M35-39. The guy in front of me beat me by more than I slowed.