Friday, May 8, 2009

In the Home Stretch

Now we have raced into May I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel which is both exciting and nerve-racking. I have worked out pretty hard and while I am excited to see the performance benefits there is still a twinge of doubt. Did I do everything I could? I have 22 days until Dam to Dam which I consider the offical start to my two week taper before the Ironman Kansas 70.3.The week leading up to that is a little lighter than usual but I figure the 20K will be a nice place to start my transition into the taper. The hardest part about this time of year for me is that I typically tell myself that missing workouts is ok because I need to be well rested. There are certainly times when that is true and rest is needed, I often use rest as an excuse to not do anything. There is a difference. The last thing I want to do is to start putting on the brakes when I should be charging.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Drake Relays on the Roads Half Marathon

Cruising into week 17 on the training plan and things seem to be going pretty well. I have been pretty bike heavy and not running as much so I took on a couple of races recently to get some timing back and get my mindset back into racing mode. On Saturday I ran in the Drake Relays on the Roads Half Marathon and I really got a lot out of the experience. First, I really enjoyed the run. We had an 85 degree day on Friday and by Friday night storms rolled in and the high forecasted for the race were 40s and 50s. So I told myself before I hit the sack on Friday that I would be ready to run no matter what the conditions. Race morning was chilly but really not that bad considering. It did rain briefly a couple of minutes before the start but I don't think it bothered anyone. I really didn't know where I was at pace-wise for a race like this so my goal was more general than it might typically be. I was shooting for a 1:30 to 1:35 but I wasn't going to kill myself to get it. I wanted to try and stay relaxed concentrate on form. Up until now my longest run week was 33 miles at the beginning of March and besides that I have rarely made it out of the teens for weekly run mileage and my longest run was a 10 miler during that 33 mile week. So I was anticipating a reasonably difficult time once I got closer to that 10 mile mark. The first 4 miles felt ok and I was right on my race pace and felt extremely relaxed. The first half of the race is mostly flat and one stretch where the elevation drops relatively quickly. I had only glanced at the course map briefly but assumed that the elevation change back up would be just as quick. Around mile 5 started a slow ascent that took several miles and was gradual. That really took quite a bit out of me because my quads were a little tight because of a heavy bike week. I powered through knowing that when we leveled off I would be fine but I know my pace took a bit of a hit during that stretch. Once things leveled off I felt a lot better and settled in comfortably. Around mile 11 I started to feel it a little bit but I decided to try and hold my pace and suffer a little bit but not too much. I held my pace and finished just a few minutes off my goal time and more importantly I can take the experience and use it to prepare for Ironman Kansas in June.

The most difficult thing for me at this point is that it would be really easy to look at my training and my results and the results of friends that ran and try to tinker with it too much. I know that I can run the half a lot faster and I could certainly up my running mileage and my overall training time to try and improve that much more before that first race but in the end I am not training for a half marathon. I am training for an Ironman and getting too caught up in these other races and where I rank next to other competitors could easily derail what I am trying to do at Ironman Wisconsin in September. I am exactly where I need to be at this point in the season.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Not?

Have you ever been sitting at a bar late on a Friday night after 6 beers and have someone talk you into running a race the next morning? I am not a big drinker but I enjoy myself from time to time but almost never the night before a race, but who could pass up a charity race for a good cause just a short drive from where they live, even if it was only 7 hours later? Months ago I thought that having a few tune-up 5Ks in the spring would be nice because they are short and would help snap me out of the rut of a winter of base miles so I decided that I would give it a go. The weather was pretty decent for running with temps in the high 40s or low 50s, I am not sure which. It was pleasant either way. There was also a light sprinkle about 8 minutes after the start which was nice. The race was just off of highway 141 in Urbandale and it was a small race but an enthusiastic group of organizers putting it on. I ran with a buddy of mine who is a strong runner and I thought for sure based on an eyeball of the competition that he would win. The race wasn't really advertised so not many typical runners were participating so my buddy would just need to deal with one or two people possibly to come out with the win. The race started and my legs were really tight. Probably from the 200 miles I had in the saddle this week but I didn't let it bother me too much. My buddy and this other guy took off kind of fast and I settled in behind them. At the 1/2 mile point my buddy separated himself from the other runner who was slowly coming back to me and by mile 1 I had passed him as well. By the 1.5 mile point my buddy was 200 yards ahead of me and I was 400 yards ahead of the 3rd place guy. My buddy extended his lead going away and I was out of striking distance so I spent the last mile concentrating on my form and came in a comfortable second. There were not any official times that I am aware of but I had my watch running and I would guess that my buddy finished in around 19 minutes, maybe just under while I was just under 20 minutes. I was ok with that and I fully expect to drop a few more minutes off of that by race season but it felt great to get out there and be pushed by other people.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A different kind of transition

I am not sure how many of you approach your triathlon season when it comes to planning your training but I am guessing a number of you are just like me. In the late fall, winter, and early spring you focus on building a base and at some point in the spring you start to transition into a training phase where you can start to do more focused training efforts that will better prepare you for races. That is what I am currently preparing to do. This weekend wraps up my building phase and Monday I start do workouts that will start to look more and more like race simulations so that there are no surprises during that first race. Up to this point it has been pretty much broad strokes like, run this many miles today, and swim this many laps tomorrow and ride this many miles that day. Starting Monday it becomes more like Running Pyramids on a local track with predetermined splits and increasing levels of intensity. To be honest, I am really looking forward to it. I have built a pretty strong base and I have approximately 7 weeks of tweaking until that first week and I pretty excited about where I am at this point in my training.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What to do...

I am not sure what everybody else thinks on days like today and by "days like today" I mean beautiful spring days. It is awesome outside and I have a pretty basic brick to do tonight but I also want to spend some time running around the backyard with the kids. In the end I know what I am going to do but for some reason I keep trying to work the angles to try and improve my set of options. Overall, all my options are pretty darn good so I am going to stress over them. I am going to go home and play in the backyard until it is dinner time. Then I am going to eat and hop on the trainer for two hours then run on the treadmill for 30 minutes. This is similar to what I did last night except tonight I am going to do it early enough that my wife won't be begging me to finish so that she can go to sleep. Apparently I am a little heavy footed on the treadmill and the pounding can be heard in the bedroom. I don't notice it much since I typically have my I-pod up and running with me but I am afraid that me not hearing it doesn't make it any more quiet for my wife.

I did get a pretty easy 2200 meters in at the pool over my lunch break which was nice. The pool at the YMCA was a little on the warm side which didn't bother me to much but I definitely heard some chatter about it from other swimmers. I hate swimming at the YMCA on my lunch break because the Walnut Creek YMCA gets so busy. I prefer doing my swims in the morning but lately we have had sick kids moving in and out of the bedroom late at night so the snooze on the alarm gets hit before I really know what is going on. So I swim on my lunch break and I wait for someone to get done before I jump into a lane that has only one other person in it. During this time you pretty much never get a lane to yourself and there is a decent chance that someone is going to ask you to circle swim. I don't know about you but I hate, hate, hate circle swimming. No one ever swims the same speed and people are stopped at different times and it just becomes a big mess. It is one thing if you are part of a training group to circle swim because you are all typically doing the same workout and are with swimmers of approximately the same ability so the negatives are minimized. Not on lunch at the Y. I don't think that this is something that I will get passed so call it a character flaw or whatever. Circle swimming stinks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Start to the Week

I had a pretty good start to the week getting in 70 miles on the trainer yesterday. I actually was in one place the entire time but you understand what I mean. It felt pretty good since it was the first time in the saddle after a few days of no bike time. Felt great afterwards almost as if I didn't peddle at all. I was a little tight this morning but it wasn't any different than usual and I felt good in the pool. I was expecting a little more soreness and it just hasn't happened. Of course sometimes it takes a couple of days until I feel the full brunt of a long workout but right now I am pleased.

Today is an exciting day in that my daughter starts soccer. Having played soccer from 4 years old all the way up to Men's league myself, I couldn't be more excited to see my little girl strap on the cleats. Of course it is pee-wee soccer and she will be head to toe in pink with a bunch of other 4 years probably dressed the same, but it will still be fun to watch. The trick for me is to sneak my run in at some point. Probably try to get some time on the treadmill here at work over lunch so that I don't have to try and squeeze it in tonight after soccer practice. After soccer practice is more time in the saddle. Busy busy busy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ahhhh, Easter!

I always think of Easter as one of the first events of spring. Families get together and usually it is one of the first nice weather weekends of the year and maybe one of the first times you might get outside on your bike. I had big plans to get outside on my bike this weekend but I needed to negotiate the weekend fiestivities that were planned with relatives from out of town as well as Easter Egg Hunts and Church. Let's just say that when the dust settled I got in an 8 mile run on Saturday followed by basketball at a nearby park with nephews and a lot of pork products consumed an Easter Buffet. All things considered I had a great weekend and this week I am going to get back to the business of training.

The plan for this week is includes 8800 meters in the pool, 340 miles on the bike, and 41 miles of running. I feel refreshed and ready to go. I am less than 2 weeks away from the Drake Relays on the Roads Half Marathon which I am going to treat as a training run so I will continue to work my regular training schedule through that event with one exception. The exception will be that on raceday I will not do a long bike ride. Maybe an easy late day one to loosen the legs a little bit. That is almost two weeks away so I am not going to think too much more about it.