Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Final Preparations and Lessons Learned

Finally, after a big training block and a long Minnesota winter, we are finally in the taper and race week.  About this time last year, I was a nervous wreck.  I was only a few days from my first ever open water swim.  I had only biked over 50 miles four times, two of them indoors.  I suffered through most of it with poor nutrition and hydration.  I had also only ever run over 13 miles twice and had never run more than 4 miles after cycling.

With that being said, the race didn't go poorly for my first 70.3, but it could have gone a lot better.  Although one thing that I can take away is that it was enough to get me hooked on the sport.  Since that day, a ton has changed.  I hired a coach, learned the importance of structure, nutrition, recovery, and also learned what real mileage is.

Since the start of this block of training which started the first day in October, here are the totals:

I have learned soooo much about myself and the sport in the past months.  Here are the top lessons that I took away from the past few months(in no particular order):

1.  Recovery-  If I try to kill myself every day in every workout, I am going to suffer and not improve.  Active recovery is important.  Taking rest is also very important.  Getting enough sleep is essential.  But having structured training with progression, overload, and recovery weeks is the only thing that will yield good results for me.

2.  Nutrition-  I have learn how important nutrition is for sustaining long periods of exercise.  To put it in perspective, in my first half ironman, I ate a sleeve of shot blocks, a Zone Perfect Bar, and drank water.   I also took nothing in on the run.  I was very fortunate to not Bonk.   I have been smart enough on this training block to try a few different nutrition plans, powders, gels, etc. to find out what works for me. 

I have discovered what my body needs to maintain a healthy weight and perform well.  Also, I learned that weight isn't as important as being able to perform well.  And I am glad to say that no one recently has told me that I need to go eat a cheeseburger because I look sick.

3.  Adaptation-  The ability to work with a coach to adapt workouts based on travel, family, and other obligations is key.  For example, I have been to San Diego, Portland, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago, and other various parts of the country in the last few months for work.  Thus, typical weekend long rides are not an option many times.  I had to move a lot of my long rides to the week days.  Which also meant that there were a few days that I started rides at 4:30am, but there is a sense of accomplishment when you have burned 2500 calories before most people are awake for breakfast.

4.  Planning-  When you have to travel, work, and still fit 16-17 hours of training in a week, you need to be very active in planning when you can get these done.  I would normally have to figure out on Sunday how the next Sunday-Monday were going to work.  Getting one workout in before work and one at night after.  

When I was traveling to various parts of the country, these websites became my best friends.‎

- Most masters programs were so awesome at contacting me back when I emailed them, and all but one let me drop in for free

-Mapping routes is important, especially in areas like where I was staying near Vegas that has some interesting places around the hotel.

5. Let life get in the way sometimes-  In my first go at this, I never deviated from the plan.  If I had a long ride on Saturday, I was in bed at 10pm Friday.  No drinks, no hanging out with friends, etc.  I would never do more than or less than I should and made sure to do everything straight to the plan.  I was anal, irritable, and not fun at times.  Now I may still be all of those things(I hope not), but I feel I have grown.  Last week, I ran with a friend who is training for Boston on a 20+ mile run that she had for a few miles.  Was this on the training plan?  No.  But will it ultimately kill all the fitness that I have gained in the past months?  No.  However, last year, I would not have done this.  I would have told this friend no, and missed out on the chance to not only help her get through part of a 3 hour run, but also the chance to catch up and enjoy running.

I believe in the long haul that this is much more important.  Have drinks, run with friends.  Still get what you need done, but do not become a drone.

I also have a race plan.  I am going to leave out some of the timing and wattage details, but here it is:

Pre race routine (dinner, breakfast, arrival at race site, warm up)

Dinner-  I am going to stick with a lean meat, some rice and some plantains
Breakfast- 2 powerbars and an apple while sipping on a drink of 3plenish mix
Warm up- Keep drinking 3plenish

2 – Goal paces and how you will achieve them (pacing)

Swim-  I want to stay comfortable and hopefully come out of the water around....  I have panicked every swim so far and ended up swimming heads up for most of.  My goal is to make sure that I actually swim this whole race and not suffer a panic attack

Bike- I want to stay at around 80% of my FTP.  I know I am capable and have felt really strong on the bike recently.  I just want to stay within my pace and with the disk and Zipp 808's, I think I can PR with those watts.

These will make me go FAST

Run-  Take the first 3 miles at a pace 15 seconds slower than my goal pace and get down to goal pace at mile 3.  These will vary because the course is soooo hilly, but I have a good idea of where I can push and where I know the times will be slower based on last year.  

3 – Fueling & hydration strategy

plan on carrying 3 sleeves of Clif Blocks on the bike.  Finishing 2 for sure and see where I am at.  Taking a bottle of water and a bottle of 3plenish mix on the bike.  Finishing those in the first hour and grabbing Perform and Water as needed on the course.  Salt Tab every 20 minutes.

4 – Motivation & mindset (using technical, tactical & self-encouragement cues to focus & motivate your performance)

I like to write things on my arm when I race to help get me through the rough times.  The two that I know I am going to use this time are: 

RTT- Remember the trainer.  To remind me of all those solo 3-3.5 hour rides by myself in my basement.  Doing this for 2:30 should be easy right? 

ATE- All things End.  Helps me to remember that all pain ends and I will not be in this water, on this bike, or running forever.  Also, reminds me when this pain hits to go through a checklist of nutrition, pacing, etc.

Thoughts on some others???

Other important points include:

1 – Noting any important aspects of the race course (check the course maps, etc).

Swim is calm start in a Bay.  Last 500 may get choppy as we go out in the ocean for a bit.  I know this and should be fine.

Bike is straight out and back twice along the coast-line.  Plenty of room for passing, etc.  Shouldn't be an issue.

Run is hilly as crap lol.  And there is a 1.5 mile stretch when there is no aid station twice on the run.  Just need to make sure if necessary to take a water with me on this stretch if i need it.

2 – Knowing the weather forecast (temperature, humidity, wind) & how you will adapt your plan to conditions

It is going to be hot and humid.  No rain on the forecast, possible wind.  Hopefully, the heat training I have done is enough.

In the end, it is about doing what I know I am capable of and trusting in myself.  Time to go and do it...

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