Monday, July 23, 2012

A week in review

As the summer has gone along, my training volume has been increasing, step by step. Long rides get longer; runs off of the bike increase in duration, and stand-alone runs are also extended. When I look at my upcoming training weeks, they seem pretty daunting. But like most things, if you break it down into its component parts and tackle it one thing at a time, you find you can handle it.

Here's what I had for the week that just finished. It was a lot for me -- though I'm sure there are some out there who see it as pretty routine. On the other hand, there are some who probably think it's clear evidence of some degree of insanity on my part.

Monday: "easy 90' ride - zr -z1"

I'd just come off a race on Sunday, so an easy ride sounded good to me! "zr" means "recovery zone" -- low heart rate, a chance for the muscles to heal while staying active. "z1" is a steady aerobic training zone. Since my tri-bike still had the disc cover on the back wheel, I jumped on my road bike and took off from home after work. Got a chance to ride a few roads I hadn't been on for a while. A pleasant 24-mile ride in the countryside.

Tuesday: "Masters swim," "75-minute bike with hard intervals"

Masters swim was an hour at the outdoor pool, with the main set consisting of descending intervals -- both in distance and speed. Felt good in the water, despite the 80+ degree water temperature, and had a good edge on my lane mates today. About 2800 yards of quality work.

Did the bike at lunch time. Hot, hot, hot -- probably up to over 100 degrees. The hard intervals were 8 minutes worth of 20 seconds all out and 10 seconds easy. I was definitely gasping by the time I was halfway through. A good 23 mile ride.

Wednesday: "90-minute ride with 2x20' intervals," "40 minute run off the bike"

Hot again --well over 100 degrees at noon! The ride had two 20-minute intervals at 'best sustainable pace." In other words, go hard -- this improves your efficiency and your body's tolerance to hard efforts. Yes, it was a hard effort. Finished the ride flushed and wringing wet.

The heat cooked me on the run. I took along water, but after 10 minutes I knew I'd had enough. After all, people have been known to die in heat like this... Cut the run back to 25 minutes and took it in easy.

Thursday: "75 minute ride with 2 x 15' at z2"

"z2" heart-rate zones improve your speed for sustained endurance efforts. Joined the Tri-Club Thursday night ride and got my intervals in on the Sugar Hollow Course. A good ride, and ended up doing about 90 minutes in all.

Friday: "60-minute swim" and "Tempo Run"

Feeling pretty low on this day. Tired, thirsty -- all the heat and work of the week so far was catching up to me. Made the decision to sleep in a bit in the morning, and do the workouts after work in the afternoon. 

Thunderstorms in my area cancelled the swim. The run was the running equivalent of the Thursday bike ride. Ran inside at my gym because of rain, nice to be out of the heat.Despite my fatigue in the morning, got through the run in pretty good shape. Off to bed early that night, because...

Saturday: "6-hour ride" with "45-minute run off the bike"

My longest bike so far in Iroman training. Went to Skyline Drive and rode an out-and-back course: north to Big Meadows and back; south to Loft Mountain and back; and north again to Big Meadows and back. This let me pick up additional bike bottles and food as I went along.

It was a drizzly, misty, rainy, foggy day, but the ride went great. Stayed in z1 though the first 4 hours, then gradually picked up the intensity over the last 2 hours. I practiced sticking to my drinking and eating schedule -- very important in endurance events -- and everything went great, including the run off the bike. A nice feeling of accomplishment to finish this!

Sunday: "2 hour run," "1 hour easy bike"

I've got a favorite 5.1 mile loop from my house, so I repeated that 3 times. For some reason I decided I wanted to beat my previous lap times on the third lap, so I picked up the pace third time around. Finished 15.3 in 2:11 -- a solid 8:33 pace on a muggy morning.

Finished off the afternoon with an easy ride at Sugar Hollow with Carmel. Nice to get out and ride with her!

Week's totals:

Bike -- 198 miles
Run -- 28 miles
Swim -- 2800 yards

Monday, July 16, 2012

Colonial Beach Triathlon race report -- 7/15/12


2:29:47. 2/13 AG (M50-54), 36/156 OA Male

Long Report:

I've always enjoyed the Colonial Beach tri. It's got a nice run and bike course, and I like the funky vibe of Colonial Beach, sort of a mini-beach town on the south bank of the Potomac. Debi, my coach, lives nearby in King George and is always a gracious host.  It's fun to hang out at her house with her and other triathletes the night before the race. I arrived late Saturday afternoon, had a delicious dinner (grilled chicken, asparagus, salad and pasta) with her family and friends before turning in around 930.

Up and at it early on Sunday, we drove down to the race site, where I scored a perfect parking spot abut 50 yards from transition (love these small-town races). Racked the bike, set up transition, and fired down a caffeinated gel about 20 minutes before the race, washed down with the remains of my morning bottle of Ironman Perform. It was going to be a hot one, so I'd been hydrating consistently all morning and the evening before. Then it was time to hit the beach for a quick warm up in the warm, 84-degree water.


My wave was third to go on the rectangular course. The course went straight out from shore for a couple of hundred yards, then turned right for a downstream leg. Another right, then a short leg towards the shore, where there was another right. Then back up against the current, and a left turn back to the shore to finish.

I could see from the first waves that the current was an issue, flowing steadily from left to right. I lined up on the left and hit the first buoy in pretty good shape, probably around the middle of the wave. After the turn the crowd thinned out and I had clear water downstream to the second turn. This longer leg flew by, so I knew it might take a while to take it back upstream. After rounding the next two buoys I started back up the course. This was the time to concentrate on the things I'd been working on with my stroke -- head down, core firm, rotate around the hips to engage the larger muscles. I was glad I'd been doing a fair amount of long-course swimming this summer to build my endurance.

My concentration on stying in control seemed to be working, as I caught a fair number of my wave who were fading. Finally it was time to turn for shore, and I swam it in until my hands hit bottom. Across the beach for a straight shot into transition.

Time: 35:45. 3/13 AG, 67/156 OA Male. Not good time-wise, but all the swim times were slowed by the current. I was satisfied overall. Sighting had been good and I felt strong and in control the whole time. Plenty of energy left as I came out of the water. My swim's improving, I think.


"Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast." I put my cycling shoes because of a fairly long run up a gravel path to the mount line. Solid transition.

Time: 1:25. 1/13 AG, 19/156 OA.


I'd been looking forward to the bike. I've done so much Z1 riding this summer I was ready to let it rip. The course at Colonial Beach is a fun out-and-back, with smooth roads, a few rollers and a couple of hills. Nothing too extreme, but a little taxing at times.

I had smooth sailing for the most part, with a fair amount of room around me. The other cyclists were behaving themselves so I could concentrate on hunkering down and pushing the pedals. My powermeter was my friend -- I used it to encourage myself to push bigger gears and keep the watts up. It was a delight to power up the small hills of this course after numerous Saturdays grinding my way to the end of 4-5 mile climbs on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. This was fun, and I even caught myself letting out a couple of "whoops!" as I rounded some of the corners at speed.

I hit the turnaround at 33 minutes, and knew the return leg was a net downhill, so I cranked up the intensity a bit more. My recent bike fit seemed spot on -- I was comfortable in the cockpit the entire time. I kicked my feet out of the shoes and executed a smooth flying dismount at the line, running the bike up the grass margin on the side of the gravel. I felt great and was ready to rock the run.

Time: 1:05:01. 3/13 AG, 34/156 OA Male.


Took the time to slip on socks, since I hadn't run any significant amount without socks in these shoes. Not a big time killer, though.

Time: 1:05. 1/13 AG, 18/156 OA Male.


By now the sun was burning through the morning clouds and the temperatures were climbing fast. While the run course at Colonial Beach is almost pancake flat, the out-and-back is wide open for miles 1-2 and 5-6. I took out the first couple miles at a slightly restrained pace, concentrating on good form and quick turnover. I started picking off a fair share of younger runners from the previous waves, while taking fluid at every water stop. A few stops had ice, and I dumped a cup down the back of my tri-top at every opportunity. Believe me, a lump of ice at the base of your spine will do wonders to cool you off.

As I came to the turn around I was feeling good, holding 7:25-7:30 miles consistently. I took the opportunity to check out any competition and spied a 54-year old heading the other way. I figured I had to catch him to have any chance in my AG. As I turned I could see him at least 300 yards ahead. Based on how he was running, I thought I had a good chance if I didn't slow down.

The last 2-3 miles are where an international distance race gets tough. The legs are tired, and you're starting to run out of energy. I'd handled the energy end of things OK, I thought, with a full bottle of Ironman Perform and a gel on the bike, plus two endurolytes, a gel, and alternating water and Heed on the run course. I wasn't going to bonk, but I could feel the reserves starting to run down a bit.

At mile 4 I'd made up a lot of ground, but had slowed my pace slightly. Now it was time to dig in. I focused my eyes on the ground about 10 feet ahead and started counting left foot falls to 100. "Don't look up until you get to 100," I told myself. "Focus on your form. Smooth. Relaxed."

After several rounds of this I was close to my competition. Now was the time to make a move. As we passed through the water stop I plowed ahead and picked up the pace just a notch. "Do 100 steps at this pace, then another 100 a little faster. Don't look back -- he won't be able to hold on if I keep it up."

I could hear and feel my rival pick up his pace, but slowly the sound receded. I stuck to plan, and even put in a few little digs as I rounded some corners. This was hurting. I finally snuck a look back -- no one in sight. And here was the final turn to the finish. Across the line....whew.

I waited a few moments for my 54-year old competitor to cross  the line and shook his hand to congratulate him on a good race. Then I noticed his age marking said 57, not 54. Oh well -- even if it didn't change my AG finish I still owed a lot to him.

Time: 46:33. 4/13 AG, 41/156 OA Male.

Summary: One of my best races ever at this distance, and with a more normal swim time it would have been a big PR. Every part of the race clicked in nicely, and I could feel the benefit of all the long aerobic training I've been doing this summer. An important reminder that there's no substitute for putting in the miles. Build the base and the rest will follow.

2:29:47. 2/13 AG (M50-54), 36/156 OA Male