Monday, June 23, 2014

Expectations and Training/Racing Update

Haven't written about a random topic in a while.  Maybe was just looking for some inspiration.  Well, that still hasn't really come, so I will talk about these past weeks of training and a race I did.

Training these past few weeks has been some of the best that I have done maybe since I started doing this a little over a year ago.  Immediately after Trinona, I took a light recovery on Monday, and started up on a strong two week build in preparation for Ironman 70.3 Racine.

These weeks have actually been pretty fun.  Well, as fun as making yourself suffer can be.  Some of the workout days that I really enjoyed were the Double Bike Days with runs off of both bikes.  The first of these came only 4 days after Trinona.  I recovered really well from Trinona and was ready to go.  The first Bike/Run of the day was some interval Zone 3/4 work, with a very easy run off the bike.

The second Bike was put in with the Description: 30 minute TT, as you wish, but you must get stronger every 10 minutes.

I emailed the Boss and asked, "Is this a test?"

Her reply, "You tell (or show) me.  You're off the leash.  Have fun!"

And I did.

I hadn't done a Bike Test since Mid-March, but I also hadn't biked/run earlier on that day, and it was a 20 minute Test, not the 30 minute TT I was about to do.  But I wanted to see where I was at, and figured if I could get a new FTP today, I would learn a lot about where I was at mentally and physically.

I remember watching one of the Ironman World Championship videos and Chris McCormack, said something along the lines of, "At some point in every race, the person who ends up winning needs to take a risk."

I think that too many people are too afraid of failure, afraid of blowing up, afraid of many things.  But if you don't risk failure, you can never know how far you can truly push yourself to go.

That may seem a bit dramatic for a simple bike test, but you get my point.  I wanted to see if I could go faster despite the lack of rest/differing conditions to the previous one.

Long story short.  After the usual warm-up of Easy, Short Bursts, Clear out effort, Easy.  I started the 30 Minute TT.  The first 10 minutes actually felt good, all things considered.  But always at these parts of the workouts, when you know a new surge is coming, you start to over-think.

"Do my legs have another gear?"   "Do they have another gear for the next 20 minutes?"

At this part, the real test started for me.  All of my previous tests had been 20 minute tests.  I knew what number I had to hit.  So I began about 10 watts below that number.  I figured after 5 minutes, I could reassess.  Again, this didn't have to be a test today.  There were no expectations from Coach Liz to make it one, but I had to know.

After that 5 minutes, I still felt good.  I thought Let's see if we can make that number raise 5 more.  Now, I was starting to hurt.  But, it was time to increase again.  That was the expectation.  I needed to keep getting faster.  The next 5 minutes were a blur.  I honestly must have cocooned into my own "pain cave" and just blacked out.

I saw that there were 5 minutes left.  It is always at this point in the test when you start to feel that there is no way you will finish.  Let alone grab any more watts.  You legs and heart start to yell cruel, harsh profanities at you.  You have one part of your brain that wants you to ease up and feel better, but you have the other part of your brain, the competitor in everyone, that is telling you to suffer more.

Choose the latter.

So my legs screamed, by body rebelled, but 5 long minutes later, I was done.  And had improved my FTP by 5!  This seems minuscule, but with the conditions, and the fact that since October, it was now up more than 30, I was extremely happy.

Sycamore 15K Race

Expectations also need to be adaptable.  This I am not good at.  This past weekend, I went and raced a 15K on Saturday with a friend, Liz(different Liz).  I went into the race wanting to win, but also knowing that I didn't want to blow up and have to suffer through 4 hours of biking/running the next day.

To be honest, if I were doing this just to race it, I would have changed quite a few things about the race and the days leading up to it.  I would have eased into the race and tapered a bit more.  I also would have strategized a bit differently in the actual running of the race.

I have always done a decent job of pacing, but today I kinda threw that pacing out the window, or maybe I just didn't realize how tired my legs were going into the race.

Lining up, I saw that there were a few fit looking guys and girls.  One guy who was a bit older was wearing North Central College Cross Country shorts.  We talked a bit and he was very friendly.  I figured he would be the major deterrent for the First Place prize(I later looked up and saw that he was National DIII Runner up in the 10K twice!).

The horn sounded and we were off.  My plan(probably not a good one), was to test him and the rest of the field early.  Like I said earlier, I didn't want to kill myself for this race, but was willing to.  I ran the first few miles, seeing if I could drop him and the others.  I was hoping to make him and the others hopeless and settle in later.  But, he had alligator blood.

And he was just faster than me.  This is the main reason that I don't get nervous for running races.  I know, give or take a few seconds, what I am capable of running.  I know that if I am in the mix, I can push myself to a dark and painful place, if necessary.  But I also know that, if I go to a race, and a person I am competing against can run X:XX per mile, he will beat me.  This doesn't change my race and I won't suddenly be able to run my pace minus 15 seconds per mile.

So, he eventually passed me and was off.  I played my hand, he played his, and his was better.  Once he was gone, and I realized I couldn't stick with him, I settled into a good pace and cruised in the final few miles in.

I wasn't thrilled to lose, but I didn't have that extra gear today.  It happens.  PR's don't happen every race.  This is hard to swallow, and will give me some motivation in the future to get to X:XX pace.  But focusing on what I learned is more important on that day.

We are now less than a month from Racine, and I have some lofty goals for that race.  Post to follow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trinona Race Report- 2 out of 3 isn't too bad.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a few different blogs on training, racing ,etc.  I came across one that I really resonated with.  This female who has seen much success in the sports of running and triathlon was talking about how her father taught her to keep things in perspective.

He said that what was important to her could be broken down into 3 categories: Triathlon/Running, Work, and Family/Friends.  In essence, he told her that as long as 2 of the 3 things in her life were going well, that she was doing pretty darn great.

I loved this.  Thought it put things in perspective pretty well for me.

So, if 2 out 3 things in a triathlon go well, you should be able to say that you had a good race.  However, I also believe the the moment that you are satisfied with something is the moment when you stop working and improving.  I can say that the race went well and I am happy with the result.  I learned a lot and really will look to rectify some of the things that I didn't do well with.


On Saturday, my father and I headed up to Winona, MN to my house before the race.  As soon as we got there, we went on a quick 8 mile bike of the course, and swam for a bit at Lake Winona where the race would take place.  Both of the warm up exercises felt good and my legs felt better than they had all week.

We went to the expo, and then went and saw a movie at the Winona 7 Theatre, which was actually pretty nice considering it was incredibly small and seemingly in the middle of no where.  We went and got a solid meal at Ground Round, and then went a watched another movie at home before getting a good nights rest.

I slept pretty well and thought about how I wanted to attack the course.

I knew going into the race that this would be a bit of a challenge.  As a struggling swimmer, any race where the swim is a larger portion of the total time will be tougher for me.  I had never done an Olympic before, and was a bit unsure about how to pace each discipline.  I talked with Liz before about how to pace the bike, but the other two were a bit of a wildcard for me.

Race Morning

Woke up pretty early and heard my dad who is never quiet in the mornings moving around.  I think we both were pretty anxious for this, being his first triathlon and my first Olympic.

We both grabbed breakfast.  I actually wasn't hungry but shoved down 2 PowerBars.  We packed our stuff and got to the race site.  As soon as we got there, I went to the bathroom, set up transition, went to the bathroom, found dad, went to the bathroom again(this is a lot even for me), and then walked to the swim start.

I got in a quick warm up and set myself up for the time trial start.


I was actually pretty confident going into this swim.  I had had a good couple of days in the pool leading up to this, and was happy with how I felt the day before with the practice swim.  As soon as the horn went off for my group, I ran into the water and tried get in the mix right away.  For the most part, I felt that I was sighting well.  I was not getting passed and felt like I was moving at a decent pace.

Clearly these perceptions were all wrong.  Unfortunately, because they didn't have the buoys set up until Race Morning, I had no idea how far I was at any part of the race.  Either I was just moving slow(even for me) or something else must have been off.  When I figure it out, I will let you know.

Either way, I was slow and the swim was no where near where I wanted to be.  I had to forget about it fast, and get to my bike.

0 for 1.


After that debacle of a swim, I was ready to race.  I wasn't very fast through T1, but I got my wet-suit off decently quick considering I hadn't done it in a while.  I hopped on and immediately got to my goal watts(actually a bit above).

The first part of the course was rolling, which made it pretty easy to stay within range of my goal.  The only difficult part of the first 10 miles was the fact that the road was not closed.  This meant that cars would have to try to pass riders on both sides of the road.  This led to the cars getting stuck and moving very slow right in the middle of the road.  This made passing impossible.  There was no room.  There were two times where I had to slam on my breaks as a car tried to pull around a rider as I was trying to go through.

At the end of the day, this probably only lost me a 30 seconds to a minute, but in a race that is normally only decided by that amount of time, it can hurt.  However, the other racers could have experienced this as well, so it may not have done any damage at all.

The next part of the race, I was actually looking forward to.  It is the Garvin Heights Climb.  Garvin Heights was featured as one of Bicycling magazine’s “Top 100 Climbs” in the U.S.  It was apparently also used by three-time Tour De France Champion Greg Lemond in his training rides.  It is a 1 mile climb at about a 10% average grade.

My goal going into this climb was to stay reasonably within my watt goal and keep as high a cadence as possible(actually averaged 72 for the climb).  Not quite Nairo Quintana, but I was happy.  I felt pretty good going up for the most part and everyone along the way was really encouraging.  The last person that I passed going up the hill even yelled at me as I clicked to my lowest gear right next to him, "You still have another gear!?!?"

I thought silently, Not anymore.

Thank God the hill ended shortly after because cadence and energy were draining.  I grabbed a quick drink, thanked the volunteers who were probably just there to make sure people didn't collapse at the top(John Henry style, although I guess the hill isn't quite like beating a machine).

After that, there was a bit of flat that you could get into a nice rhythm again, before flying down a winding descent at 35-40 mph for the next 2 miles.

After that part, nothing too interesting happened.  Had a cramp, took a salt tab, kept pedaling, and made my way back to T2.

Once, I got back to T2, I dismounted as best I could, right behind a person from my age group who did it better.  Ran to get my shoes on and exited.

Overall, the bike went pretty well.

1 out of 2.

Bike File:


The plan for the run was to start out at 6:15's and go down from there.  Or so I had originally planned.  I had no idea how I would feel off the bike with this new distance.  I immediately got into a rhythm and threw that plan out the window.  I held back a bit the first mile because you always feel slow coming off the bike no matter how fast you are moving.

After the first mile, I had passed a few people, but only one from my Age Group.  I was dropping about 3-4 seconds each mile and kept moving up the field.  I haven't felt this good running in a while.  San Juan was hilly and hot, Galena was hilly, and all other runs have been in training.

I just kept looking at calves to see if I could find any more in my AG.  I finally was able to find one more in the last mile, but had no idea where that left me in the race.  Running through the final shoot,    I looked down at my watch and saw that I had just beat my stand-alone 10K by almost a minute.  Not bad considering I haven't run a full mile in under 6 minutes in the last few months training for Half Ironman.  I quickly started looking around for people from my age.

Very happy with the run.

2 out of 3.


Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you can get 2 of three things, the race went pretty well.  In the end, I ended up finishing 2nd in my AG and 20th overall.  I know where I need to improve and I learned a lot.  I am excited to get back in the grind of training and get to Ironman Racine 70.3 in a month!

And here is my awesome dad!