My winter training has been going pretty smoothly, all-in-all. After taking some time off after IMWI and my last sprint tri of the year, I buckled down to work on three aspects of my training:
- Build my strength. I've never been consistent with core and strength training, and when I started to really examine the guys who were beating me in my AG, one thing stood out -- they looked stronger. Not ripped, but tighter, tauter, more defined. So it's been two strength/core workouts a week for me since October. It's been gradual, but I'm seeing an improvement in my physique and swim times.
- Lose weight. At a stocky 5'9" and 165-170 pounds, the weight has to come off. Again, some gradual improvements have been taking hold, and I think I'm making good progress in improving my overall diet.
- Stick to the program. Once upon a time, in the dim recesses of my memory, I remember when a 12- to 13-hour training week was monumental. Now Coach Debi seems to regard that as pretty normal base training. Well, I'm the one who said I wanted to get faster -- I guess you've got to work to actually make that happen...
I felt good coming in. I've been running/biking in my endurance zones, but my run's been feeling more efficient and my pace has picked up with less effort. No speed or threshold work though. Plenty of time for that later in the season. Amazingly, it had been 2-1/2 years since my last stand-alone 5K, so I was pretty curious to see how the race would go. After a good warmup I shed my extra layers and got to the start line. The weather was overcast and cool -- low 40s, but the projected rain had held off.
We took off like a shot down the slightly gradually descending dirt road at the start and turned onto the pavement of the route's country road as the pack spread out. The field was small, around 300, and I tucked in behind a group of men and tried to find my rhythm.
And that rhythm was fast. Too fast. 2:54 for the first 1/2 mile, and 5:59 for the first mile. I know people enjoy debating race strategy, but any way you slice it that was too fast. Way too fast for a guy who's only broken 20 minutes one time.
I hit the turn for the out-and-back course at 9:44. I counted returning racers and found myself in 17th position. Not bad -- if I could hold close to that pace for the return I'd break 20.
Not going to happen. Mile 2 was 6:48, and I was hurting. I kept the focus on quick turnover and posture, but the speed didn't hold. I picked off a few puppies who were hurting more than me, but was cannon fodder for several more than I passed.
I hit the line in 20:52, good for 23rd overall and 1st AG. I wasn't happy about losing over a minute on the return leg, and I felt I could have done better with better race execution. But my overall fitness felt good throughout though, and I'll get another chance to do it right in February at another local 5K. And for that race I'll have some speed work under my belt -- I'm looking forward to seeing how it pans out.