Wednesday, August 30, 2006
This race was another massive PR. Seasons like this don't happen very often so I savor it while I can. Here is the summary for those who won't read further. The times in parentheses are my previous Olympic distance PRs from a race in 2002. 2003 was my last Olympic distance but I was stung by a wasp so we won't show those times.
Swim: 37:34 (37:21)
Bike: 1:20:50 (2:09:01)
Run: 1:05:45 (1:25:30)
Total: 3:07:28 (3:36:19)
The Hammerhead tri is well supported race with nice free stuff. Our race bags contained a race belt, gel flask, and chip holder along with a technical fabric race shirt. When you finish, they give you a coolmax finishers hat embroidered with the race logo. On base housing makes the accommodations very affordable. The women of Florida's National Guard give more positive, loud support that you could imagine. They rock.
The Long Version
This race was chosen as a final tune up before my A race, the Disney Triathlon in September. Same distance. Different purposes. The Hammerhead Tri was set up as a race & learn event.
Pacing for speed is new for me, especially for triathlon. I know I can finish the distance but I don't know how to combine bike/run paces in a way that avoids certain doom. The idea was to go strong but steady on the swim, hammer the bike, and see what was left on the run.
The race was a lot of fun even though the effort was high. The swim was very physical. One girl in particular, who had annoyed me in transition, kept passing me then slowing down forcing me into other people. She wore silver tri shorts. Silver pants. After a few solid kicks I opted to swim on the outside. Rather swim further than break a rib. As fate would have it, I still outswam her.
My swim time was disappointing but, it's not that much slower than my race PR and I felt strong rather than out of breath. The run to transition was kinda long but I ran the entire way. Plenty of energy in the bank.
The ride consisted of two laps over a moderately hilly course. None of these hills are close to the short, steep leg shredders in Clermont. Very little of the course was truly flat. It's up, down or false flat. The strategy for lap 1 was to assess the terrain, then go for it the second time. Silver pants flew by on the bike but chasing down fellow age groupers was not part of the lap one strategy. Points to me for planning my effort. It gave me the pleasure of passing a guy riding with a disk wheel in front of my husband AND passing silver pants.
As soon as I got off the bike, I knew there were problems. Just like the Florida Challenge half ironman last season, my stomach felt super full. I felt ill. Fabulous. Silver pants flew by but my stomach was not up to the chase. My goal was to run no matter what. The first three miles were planned to be slow but three miles became five miles. Around mile four I saw silver pants walking. By mile 5 I felt better. Even if the run didn't go as planned, the last 1.2 miles could be fun. And they were. Rather than think "push it" I let my legs go. As I neared the finish, the voices of two girls floated forward. Did they think they would catch me? No way. With a quick thought to float faster, I sprinted down the end. Sure enough, they were trying to catch me. But they were not fast enough. There was plenty left in the tank.
My husband waited at the finish, a first for my tri races. We headed
around to grab some water, quickly grab my stuff, and came back to the
finish just in time to see some TriDrs folk finish.
As I said, this was a race & learn. Here are the lessons:
Swim Lessons: The lake is spring fed which means clear water rather than dark tea. As hot guys go by, you can admire the scenery AND critique their form, thereby learning more than watching my Total Immersion DVD. I tired towards the end, IMO, because my swim program focuses on drills and shorts sets rather than endurance.
Bike Lessons: 1) Ride your own race. That fast chick in your age group probably knows nothing about pacing. If she is that good, you'll burn up trying to catch her. Stay with the plan. 2) My bike nutrition is messed up. Either I drink too much on the bike or ride at an intensity that prevents my body from processing the liquid. Either way, my stomach was uncomfortably full at the start of the run.
Run Lessons: 1) When you mess up bike nutrition, it costs run time. Gotta work that out. 2) Yes, you can hammer the bike and pull off a decent run. 18.4 mph on a moderately hilly course leaves me with enough for 1:05:45 on an equally hilly run. Given that my stand alone 10K PR is just under 60 minutes, I'm quite happy. But I can do better. 3) Running the first half slower than I "could" gave me a nice kick at the end. First mile 10:50, last mile 9:45. Yeah, yeah, Joe was right on this. :) If the bike nutrition straitens out, my run will rock in September.
It was a solid training day with valuable lessons for September 24. I finished 12 of 18 in the very competitive 30-34 age group, a mere 4 minutes behind silver pants.
Final downhill on the run with cool girl from my age group
Finish line beating out the young-ins
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
It's a recovery week. One missed swim is not a tragedy but if the future holds more of this, I better schedule all my workouts in the early morning.
Monday, August 21, 2006
How cool. What do I do now? :)
Friday, August 18, 2006
Then I'm taking a couple of days to vacation in St. Augustine. One of my favorite places. :) :) We're staying at the Pirate Haus. It's part hostel, part hotel. A fun place very very close to the main drag. We had a blast last time.
Oh, right, training:
Morning run was good but getting out of bed took considerable effort. It ALMOST felt cool out. 4.6 miles in 50 minutes. My "comfortable pace" has definitely improved. It feels good to run strong at a faster pace without feeling out of breath. Why can't every run feel like this?
The swim....well...it took some serious lets make a dealing to finish 2600 yds. It almost ended after my second 200 but I made it. Let's Make A Deal came through again. The more I thought "you HAVE to swim 2600, you HAVE to", the more my mind just said no f-ing way. Once I switched to "just one more set, go easy this time", I could push away from the wall. That was the only 200 over 2:17. Something in my psyche can't handle "HAVE TO". It's not motivating for me.
My actual swim time (not including rest intervals but including drills) was 61 minutes. The main set was 7 X 200yds followed by 4 lengths of the pool at max effort. Max effort was separated by 30 second rest intervals.. 2:14 was the most common time for the 200's. 1:08 per 100 yds seems to stick with me no matter what. That's fine. For once, I actually swam the max effort lengths at max effort. 33 yds in 33 seconds. Whew! Now, I am tired.
Happy Training to everyone out there!
Dissertating Note: Good writing going on. It's not converted to "science speak" yet but the words are coming pretty easily. Time to improve the figures.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Grad school is like a rollercoaster in the dark: crazy twists, turns, and drops only you can't see where you're going. There might be more track out there or you could fall to your death.
And I'll leave it at that. Sorry about turing on word verification. I need to enable anonymous posting for some of my overseas friends but the offers for condo vacations became a little overwhelming. My commenters seem hardy enough to type in a few extra letters.
ORideN: Great ride. Tough headwind. I made it. Another 1:20 averaging 16.3mph.
Dissertating Today: Hope is on hold, however, the outline for my first paper is coming together. I've got the statistics outlines for the other 2. Need to flesh out the abstract. Busy, busy, busy.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
My toe bled a little which led me to question my afternoon swim. Fate intervened. The pool was closed for maintanance. What else can I say?
Hope has dawned on the dissertation horizon. More than I imagined. Not like a sunrise or even a moonrise. Let's call it a mini-sparkler at the end of a long peer. I'll keep you updated. In the mean time, everyone give a big hug to my fellow salt mine worker, oops, I mean graduate student Trizilla. Sometimes grad school feels like the Groundhog Day movie. We'll support you even in your absence, girl!
That's all from here. Off to process data!!!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Sorry if it almost gave you a heart attack. The vision of your hood coming towards my out of control bike wasn't easy on me. Thank you again.
Thanks also goes out to the bike handling angel who suddenly gifted me with the balance and skill of a Tour Sprinter. How I missed both the car and the curb with inches to spare while making a 90 degree turn is beyond me. All within 1/2 mile of home.
And I thought it was bad when I forgot my water this morning.
Obligatory-DST-Note: Data processing to complete the 3 abstracts for my dissertation data.
Monday, August 14, 2006
The take home message was that no matter how much I wanted it to be false: there's nothing seriously wrong with my stroke. My instructor has watched me swim for 5 years. Everytime she watched me drill she would say "you're stroke is really good already" or "you swim really well" or something else complimentary. In fact she said we didn't need a second session because there was nothing big to work on. I should feel proud. Instead I keep wishing there had been a silver bullet. Nope.
She did suggest 2 things which have dropped my lap time by a few seconds. My hand should enter the water like a knife, thumb down, not spatula style. It does help with gliding. Her other comment was that I don't finish my pull. At least there was something.
So...I've been thinking about how there's not too much I can do to make September's race faster. My swim will be 35 minutes if I'm lucky. Fine. What about next year? Yeah, what about next year. OK, you want to become an ironman but structured training for a November IM won't start until May.....lots of time.
Step 1: work on losing the last 10 pounds, maintain workout consistency until September race day.
Step 2: Come up with an amazing off season program that has me ready to go in May.
What is an amazing off season program? I would think it involves stepping back. Giving myself a mental break from workouts but not totally heading out to pasture. Until this year my off season focus was the run. Maybe this year will be swim, strength, and flexibility with one "to finish" centry ride that keeps my aerobic base high. Maybe 2 runs a week to stay in the habit.
And then I'm thinking about IM training. What kind of racing should I do to tune up? How many half IMs? How many centuries? How far apart? Cycling volume is key to ironman success. Going Long gives some good ideas for the long swim/bike/run but their weekly schedules only have my long ride going to 3 hours, based on my weekly total hours. Riiiiggghhhhttttt, for an ironman bike. Don't think so. Don't average 25 mph.
It seems wierd but having a training outline makes the rest of my life fall into place. The training is a constant that brings comfort and solace. It has to be there.
I did hit the pool with a waterproof bandage. It lasted 2300yds, only 400yds missed from the workout. Tomorrow is a bike day. Should be no problem with that.
In more depressing news, I will not be finishing my dissertation this semester. It's an endless source of frustration for me. My blog is no place for details of the matter but I've enlisted some help. The goal is to have a concrete schedule by the end of the week for graduation by Spring 2007. Assuming the university grants me yet another extension. Gotta have faith.
And so....this throws my life plan for the next year or so into chaos. There will be no $$ for an ironman coach although IMFL 2007 remains my goal. Any suggestions for free online plans? There will be no $$ for a new bike but Fujisawa has one more epic race in her. She's taken me this far, she can take me to Panama City Beach.
The rest of this season has lost some of it's shine. My goals remain the same but they pale in comparison with another round of reorganization. There is a lot of stuff. My dissertation will be better for the delay. But the delays must stop. I can't live my life like this anymore. I'm ready to finish.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
I'll spare the details except to say it opened up again this morning because the skin stuck to the bandage. Good thing I'm not squeemish. No brick for me today. I can't believe I seriously debated running/biking for 2 hours. The bandage fiasco settled it. Tomorrow is a rest day. As for a swim and run on Monday? We'll see how it heals. Please don't get infected!
Sigh. Those extra workout calories would have been nice with all the parties this weekend.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Thank you for registering for the 2006 WALT DISNEY WORLD® Triathlon Weekend. This is your registration receipt. Please note that this charge will appear on your credit card statement as signmeup.com. Keep this page for your records.
The Disney Triathlon was chosen as my A race because I raced it early in my triathlon career as well as my first year as a coached athlete. Much has changed since then. It made sense to use a nearly identical course for my before/after evaluation. I'm rather excited.
Training: Ride this morning. 25 miles averaging 17.2mph
Here are my favorite photos from the Top Gun Triathlon on Saturday:
Swim I'm in the back but I look serene
Bike The only one the took, good bike position shot
Finish Great shot, too bad it's washed out. Bike bunny guy is next to me.
Monday, August 07, 2006
400 warm up 9:17 (2:19/100yds)
1000 hard 21:24 (2:08/100yds)
400 cool down 8:34 (2:08.5/100yds)
What the heck. Now, I'm happy with 2:08/100 during the hard set because a good stand alone 100 is about 2 minutes. A few seconds slower for 1000yds, so problem. It was hard but I could have maintained that pace for 1500m if needed. I took 30 seconds to rest before heading out to cool down.
My warm up focused on front quadrant swimming, keeping my elbow high, and riding the rails while swimming. 2:19. This pace felt easy.
My cool down focused on one thing: glide long and get your stroke count down. Pace felt good but not quite as easy the warm up. MUCH easier than the 1000 set. But it's almost as fast as my 1000. And what I learn from this is...focusing on long glides and low stroke count gets me more time that keeping track of every little thing I'm doing wrong. More clues about what's holding back my swim time.
We'll see how things go on Wednesday when I have sets of 100's at normal and VO2max intensity.
And they made a sign. A big sign.
Suddenly, the stress and anxiety of racing alone as a first time age grouper triathlete floated away. I had a cheering section. And they were GOOD! Saw them at the end of the swim, twice on the bike, and they stood there on the run while I zoomed past in "get there" mode. Everyone deserves training partners like this.
Bigger stories wait to be told from our Steelhead triathletes. Lots of reports to read so I'll keep this brief.
My swim results disappointed me because I felt so good in the water. The pace didn't feel like "I could die". It felt smooth and strong. I always assume myself to be one of the slower, less confident swimmers. I let all the uber-fit newbies line up ahead of me. Big mistake. They thought the best thing to do was wade into water up to their neck, then swim. Guys started with the girls so these are some tall people making a wall in the water. When they did start swimming, it was 3 people doing a slow breast stroke. Strategic error that can be corrected next time. But as I said, I've never felt so strong and confident in a race day swim.
T1 went very well. I made a point to go slowly. Rather take 10 seconds than forget my sunglasses on the bike. Even with my slow, deliberate movements, it was over in 2:08
The bike was hammer time. My goal was 18mph. Before the headwind kicked in, the average was closer to 19.5 but 18.5 is the final number. I cried a lot thinking about the dog tag I wore that day but that's what races like this are for. Rites of passage from one place to the next. A little fire can forge strength from sadness. I'm proud to say only one woman passed me. She rode a bike that costs more than my car. I played race tag with a guy. He passed me, I passed him, back and forth. He was the bunny, the rider I would chase to catch like a greyhound on a track. All the people in our wave fell behind. We were leap frogging through the 20 year olds. In the end, I ranked 6th in my age group on the bike. This is the one event where I'll admit I did my absolute best. To push any more would have sacrificed my run. Traditionally I lose a lot of time on the run.
T2: I tried to slow down even more. The main reason for signing up for this race was to practice transitions and pacing. Don't fall over putting on my shoes. Grab the race belt, get water and a Gu on the way out. 1:27
The run starts out with 1/4 mile of soft sugar sand. My legs are on fire. My goal went from hitting 10 minute miles to running. period. In fact the first half of the 5K is on the sand. Bleah. I caught up with an 18 year old. She decided to stick with me rather than give into walking. We chatted to pass the painful sand miles. The usual stuff like how much we trained. She's headed to college with a triathlon team. As her pace faded, mine picked up. Had I known how much was left in the tank, I would have gone even faster but if that girl joins the tri team at college, it will be time well spent.
Eventually she dropped back, I saw my bike bunny guy. Off I go. He looks humorously exasperated to see that bike girl had caught up with him. We talked about the funny things we had seen over the course of the day. Gee, I spent a lot of time chatting on the run rather than pushing the pace. No wonder the turn to the finish caught me by surprise. I thought it was further away. So much for really kicking it the last 1/4 mile. The last 100yds were back on dirt trails which limited any sprinting.
32:31 for the 5K for 1:15:49 overall. 14/26 in my age group. 365th of 600 men&women. Overall the race went well. I'm happy with my paces. You all say "patience, grasshopper" on the swim...so...I'm impatiently waiting for progress. :)
Never underestimate training partners.
You are a better swimmer than you think. Stay on the outside but move up a few rows.
If you're talking with everyone on the run, you could probably run a little faster. Not a big deal Saturday, could be a big deal in September.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
And, on a side note, the extra paws carried me through today. It was a great day. Here is a last time (2003) vs this time (2006) on the same course.
Swim (1/2 mile vs 1/4 mile) 14:57 vs 7:43 like I said the swim is my frustration
bike (11 miles vs 10 miles) 39:10 vs 32:03
Run (5K) 41:03 vs 32:31
Today I was: 20th in the swim, 6th in the bike, 21st in the run. The run could have been faster but I spent 2 miles talking with a younger triathlete, trying to plant the blug. WELL WORTH THE TIME. Girl, if you read this, you will rock the UCF triathlon team. You are starting at 18m I started at 28. Imagine the possibilities.
Still, the swim continues to frustrate me. Even on a better day, my swim would have been 7:00. Not good enough for a massive increase in swim volume (1000/week vs 5000/week), 35 pounds (I weighed 182 that day), and 3 years experience.
But it was good enough for 14th out of 26th.
Friday, August 04, 2006
After the race we're going to hang her tags in the Jeep, aka, Nikki's Personal Popemobile.
Alright, no more "I miss my dog" drivel. Onto the good stuff. It's the end of week 8 in the dissertation countdown. The big data compilation ended yesterday AND my lit search actually found useful information about statistics for data with detection limits. Thank goodness. More work awaits this morning. How much work depends on whether this stupid thunderstorm will stop drifting around downtown so I can swim at lunch time. No swim = more dissertation work. Maybe fate is telling me something.
My left hamstring is acting up again. I've started icing it after all runs and rides as a precaution. Only 8 weeks until my A race. Can't be too careful. That being said, my 3 runs and 2 rides this week have gone well. Saturday's race will evaluate my running skill after a 18mph+ ride. Of course, half the run is on the sand so....maybe not.
There is good news on the swim front. The pool offers 30 minutes of private swim lessons for $15. Sure, it's not with a former olympian but she's got a strong swimming background and definitely knows more than I do. She recommended 2 sessions over 2 weeks, then we can schedule as needed after that. Yeah! We meet Thursday. Between now and then I'm going to buy a watch. This will allow me to time a few 100's and other distances to track any improvement.
Resistance is futile.
I'm the cutest dog ever.
Give me the cookie now.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The game always starts with "let's just do the warmup with drills, if it still sucks, we go home". One time, that is in fact all I swam but that's part of the game. There has to be an option to quit or the swim never starts. Then we move onto the intervals section. 7x100 moderate? OK. But forget about those VO2max things. No problem. Swim,swim swim. This feels pretty good. Maybe one 100 at VO2max, just to see how it feels.
On the game goes. It's hard to tell when it ends. Normally I finish the entire workout distance, if not the intensities. Today, I won the game. 2400 yds with intervals. It took me an hour but I did it.
Which brings me to my endless frustration with my swimming. This year's swim volume is much bigger than last year. We're talking orders of magnitude difference for 3 months now. Yet I am slow. I'm looking at 40 minutes for a 1.5K swim. The comments on my swim videos are helpful but haven't produced great speed gains. My run and bike have moved into the middle-of-the-pack range. The swim needs to get with it.
To that end, I asked about swim lessons at the pool today. The lifeguard gave me a brochure full of lessons teaching kids the 4 basic strokes. Not what I need. I told her I needed a freestyle stroke clinic because I already have the don't drown thing down. She stared blankly when she said "yeah, I can see that" but offered no assistance. The brochure claims they offer private lessons. We'll see what they have. I'm working too hard to see no progress.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Bike: 306 miles
Run: 59.2 miles
Everything is WAY up from this time last year. I also brought up the cycling and running miles from last month. The swimming...has definitely suffered from a lack of motivation and time but I'm getting back into it.
On the bright side, I had a good ride, averaging 17.1 mph over 22 miles. This afternoon I'll head over to the pool to make up some of yesterday's missed swim. Rather than go for distance, I'm going to work on technique based on your suggestions.
Thank you for all the kind words yesterday. It's still very hard but I feel better having the support.