Saturday, August 27, 2011

You know what they say about assumptions ...

About a week ago the doorbell rang in the evening, sending my chocolate lab into a barking frenzy and two curious little boys to the door. Standing outside the door was a young guy, early 20s perhaps, wearing khaki pants and a 3 button polo shirt with a pest control company name embroidered on the front. He gave a very short spiel about how his company was doing some work in the neighborhood and wanted to know if we were interested.

I quickly explained to him that Terminix has been doing our quarterly pest control for years so we would not be requiring his service. I was about to turn around to go inside and shut the door when he stopped to ask me one more question ...

"What is the sticker on the back of your Jeep - the number - mean? Is it a race?" I explained that the number was 140.6, the distance of an Ironman.

His reply ...

"That's really cool, did your husband do that?"

I just smiled and pointed at myself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Technique, technique, technique?

I have been told I have a "pretty" freestyle ... well, it is definitely pretty ...

Pretty slow that is.

I know that if I swim every single day and put all of my effort into being a "swimmer", I will get faster, although I honestly question how much faster I am capable of being without a fundamental change in how I swim.

I am a middle of the pack swimmer who enjoys the swim, but I am a realist as well. Where we spend our time is an investment and it is also an opportunity cost. An hour in the pool might mean saving a few precious minutes on the swim, but that same time spent in the saddle on a weekly basis can create huge dividends in terms of time saved on the bike in a race.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am disenchanted with the swim. I have been swimming for three years and I worked pretty hard leading up to Florida and Cedar Point to get faster and logged tons of hours and yards in the pool. Circumstances changed (primarily how much I travel for my job) and I did less swiming leading up to IMTX and guess what, my swim time was nearly exactly the same WITHOUT a wetsuit in washing machine conditions! So, go figure, less training = similar results. I am sure if I had been swimming more I would have been a couple of minutes faster, but not the 15 minutes faster I would love to be (sub 1:15 on an IM swim vs my actual time of sub 1:30).

So, what I really want to know is ... what's the secret to getting faster in the pool? Is there some change to my form that is going to yield huge dividends? I don't have the time (or frankly the desire) to invest in becoming a "swimmer". If the answer is that the way to get faster in the pool is to swim faster in the pool, then I will have to deal with that, but I just can't help but think that I am missing out on some secret that is slowing me down in the water.

I have heard from many swimmers that you can log endless hours in the pool and if your technique is not right, it is going to yield marginal returns. I was regularly attending Masters and learned to swim from a coach, but I have definitely hit a plateau. Any advice?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

32 miles for my 32nd Birthday

I need a goal to get my out of bed in the morning, otherwise the snooze button it too tempting. Working out for the sake of working out and being healthy turns my good intentions (say an hour run) into checking the box kind of workouts (well, I still managed 30 minutes)!

My "A" race at the beginning of 2012 is the Rocky Racoon 50 mile trail race. I have wanted to do this race for years, but have never been able to priortize it over my tri training, so 2012 is going to be the year! Since I don't have much (ok, any) trail running experience, I figured I better do a couple of 50K races before attempting the 50 miler.

There just so happens to be a different Rocky Raccoon trail race (same location as the 50 miler) on November 5, a mere 4 days after my 32nd birthday. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that Ironman Florida was my 30th birthday present to myself. So, in this spirit, I decided to run 32 miles for my 32nd bithday. The race is 31 miles, so I am going to have to either run a mile before it starts, or finish the race and add an extra mile, but either way, my Garmin will say 32 miles when I am finished!

So, what would you do? Do the extra mile as a warm up or cool down?

Oh, and so far, I have resisted the urge to sign up for IMTX again, although I still check the website on occassion. The race is still open, just in case you were wondering...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bridgeland Sprint Race Report

As I mentioned in my last post, I clearly identify myself as an endurance triathlete, but in an effort to be more balanced in the family / work / training triangle this upcoming year, I am going to focus on short course racing as well as endurance trail running races.

What better way to determine my short course base than to do a test race? So, on a whim I entered the Bridgeland Sprint triathlon on August 7. I entered the race less than a month out, so I didn't have much time to train for it.

Most people think that sounds stupid ... Of course, I can do a Sprint if I can do an Ironman ... but racing a sprint and finishing a sprint are two very different things. My body is trained to go moderately hard for a very long time - which means pushing hard and staying in the red for nearly an hour and a half is a different animal.

My plan for the race was to survive the swim, err, swim to my best ability on my limited swim training, push as hard as possible on the bike and run sub 8:00 average on the run ... so here is how it all turned out:

Swim - 500 Meters (550 yards)
My wave started last - ugh. Starting 30 minutes behind the first wave means a hotter run and lots of passing on the bike. The race leaders actually passed the swim start on their run while I was waiting for my wave to start.

The swim was point to point and the lake was pefect. Not a wetsuit legal race by any stretch, but the water was not overly warm like I have experienced in other races. I started towards the front of my wave and stayed on the buoy line. My sighting was good and I felt pretty good in the water, depsite the fact that I have been avoiding the pool.

Given my lack of swimming, I was happy with my time, but I seriously am going to need some help on my swim if I am ever going to be competitive in this sport (more on that in a future post).

Time: 10:57
Rank: 26/70

I ran hard out of the water in order to have a fast transition time, but my heart was pounding when I got to the rack. The only advantage of starting in the last wave is that transition was nearly empty so at least I didn't have to contend with a lot of other people. Since I registered late, I was not racked with my AG, but with other people who registered late (I found this to be odd) so I didn't even have other women in my AG next to me.

My T1 is always longer than my T2 as I do a couple of things in T1 that save me time in T2, but this T1 was considerbly slower than it should have been. I think my pounding heart overwhelmed me a bit...

Time: 1:49
Rank: 23/70

Bike - 13.5 Miles
My goal was to go as hard as possible on the bike without blowing up. It took me about 5 miles to really find my legs and for my heart rate to settle down a bit at the harder effort. I was pretty much passing people the entire race, but not many people in my AG. I had no clue where I was relative to the rest of my AG at that point. I finally started catching up and passing women in my AG in the second half of the bike. There were several women in my AG that I played leap frog with as well. At the last turn around heading back into transition (with a couple of miles to go) I saw a bunch of fast women approaching so I did my best to just pedal hard. The look on my face in my race photos from the bike show how hard I was working.

Overall, I am happy with my effort and the results relative to my AG, but I can't help but think I should be able to go significantly faster. If I can average 18.7 mph for 6 hours in an Ironman, I should be able to go significantly faster for 40 minutes. That is where the speed training comes in, I guess!

My bike time and T2 time are approximate because I am guessing at my T2 time as was lumped into my bike time. I hate inaccurate timing!

Time: 0:37:36 - 21.5 mph
Rank: 8/70

T2 was quick and easy. Change shoes, drop sunglasses, grab visor and hand water bottle and exit.

Time: 0:01:00 (estimate)
Rank: ??/70

Run - 3.6 miles
My goal for the run was to run 8:30s for the first 1.5 miles and then really kick it for the last 2 miles. My heart rate was still pretty high as I started the run and I was barely holding pace. It was pretty hot and I was not sure I had it in me to run 7:30s for the last 2 miles. Fellow blogger Christy Blain ran by me in the fist mile and introduced herself and she gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace (thanks, Christy!).

Unfortunately, shortly after this I got stopped by a volunteer to let traffic past. I have to be honest, I was pretty pissed off. I was running closely behind two other women in my AG, pacing off of them and I lost about 30 seconds because of that stop. I assume the volunteer figured that late in the race it wouldn't matter, but given that my AG started last, it did make a difference to us. I was pretty disheartened after that and my pace slowed in the heat instead of speeding up as planned. I managed a nice kick for the last half mile, but not enough to make a big difference. Given that I averaged 8:33 for my last HIM run (although with cooler temps), I know I can manage a sub 8:00 average for a sprint distance, if not a 7:30 average pace.

Time: 0:32:57 - 8:54 pace
Rank: 13/70

Overall Time: 1:24:21
Overall AG Rank: 14/70 (80th percentile)
Overall Rank: 329/1133 (70th percentile)

Overall, it was a fun, well run race and I recommend it if you are in the area. The race has grown significantly (40 people in my AG in 2010 vs 70 in 2011 - and the top race times were a lot faster too!) and OnUrMark does a great job putting on athlete friendly races. I would like to see them add touches to make their races more family friendly like Rev3 does.

I know that I have a lot of work to do, but it is nice to have a recent short course race under my belt as a baseline. I just purchased The Time Crunched Triathlete - Race Winning Fitness on 8 Hours a Week and I am going to use it as my guide to get faster. I am still reading the book and I will do a review of it when I am finished.