Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Non-Countdown News

I'm not usually one for shameless plugs, but it's running season!

If you're looking for a 5k race and don't want to pay $50 to run for 15 minutes, MEC London is putting on a 5k April 22. No BS, just $15 for a measured 5k and some fun prizes after. Should be a fast course, and then you can come visit me in the bike shop after :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 50: Coming Together

One of my favourite aspects of triathlon and training is the different perspectives you gain through a sport that's actually three sports.

Whether it be finding resiliency in yourself when you are two hours into your long run at the end of a 20 hour training week, or realizing that in the grand scheme of things training is not the be all-end all you think it may be, I think training has given me a lot in return.

But because of those new perspectives I have gained, I also have the tendency to make observations on how others see me as a triathlete. Like when people see my tri bike...

"Wow, what a beautiful bike...except for those silly bottle cages"

Well, good thing I'm more concerned with not dying of dehydration than how water bottles affect my image. Or, when I'm out riding said tri bike and, since I try to be nice to everyone, I wave to all the roadies who don't wave back...

"What the hell are those horns on the front of that guy's bike..."

They are my shifters, and on behalf of all triathletes you're welcome for creating the time trial bike.

And then there are the times I am riding my road bike, and I am accepted by both the visual presentation authorities and the roadies. And when a runner crosses the road right in front of me without looking, nearly running right into my front wheel...

"JEEZ! Goddamn cyclists!!"

No respect from anyone. Thus I have no choice but to conclude that triathletes are some sort of mutant half-breed (1/3rd breed?) athletes who really don't belong anywhere.

What am I talking about again? Oh right, updates.

So I was sick for a few days with the flu at the start of last week and missed a few workouts for the first time in my little build so far. But all is well and I still managed to put a pretty decent week of training together. This week is another recovery week before my final build cycle, but rather than try to switch things around to make up for an up and down week I'm taking it for what it is and holding myself back this week.

If I had any questions about how my training program is working I think they have all been answered over the past three weeks. Coming off my swim camp last month I have posted 3 PB's in the pool, two of which in a "normal" workout. 2k starting from the pro wave doesn't feel daunting in the least, and I'm even starting to feel like I can race the distance. I still fully expect and intend to swim within myself (which will probably mean letting the pack go) but I'm confident with where my training has gotten me.

Run training has been very focused on endurance workouts just to prepare for the long run off a hard bike. Maybe I have been a little too focused on just making the distance, but based on my last trip to STX I really think you need to be in ironman shape to survive that run. But my base is good and the strength is there. I have suprised myself on every long run with how easy the distance and pace feels. Hopefully the next few weeks of more running off the bike and heat acclimation with help control those variables and allow me to put it together on race day (or at least cross the finish line before ending up in medical this year). I know this race is still all about learning the distance but I couldn't be happier with where things are at right now.

And then there's the bike. Well with the record breaking temperatures I got outside much earlier than expected and put some miles on P3. I shocked myself with how easy and fast everything feels. Much like the run I just plan on managing the distance, no crazy efforts or goals. But P3 is FAST and after an awesome ride with the Coach Chris team yesterday, turns out my legs are working ok too! So I'm excited to see what I can do on the bike this year.

I have put a lot of miles behind me over the past 7 weeks and the next 3 weeks will be a lot of race specific prep with more over distance rides and runs, some indoor bricks for heat prep on the St Croix Computrainer Real Course (so beneficial to the race), and best of all some RACING! Next week I will do my first event of 2012 with the Good Friday Road Race - thanks to the support of Coach Chris. It feels strange to get on the road bike with all the time I have spent in the aerobars, but I'm fit on the bike and it will be a great opportunity to get into racing mode again, and then get a couple long rides in the hills around Hamilton after.

I also did something a little crazy and signed up for the half marathon at Run for Retina the following weekend. It may have been a little more logical to do a 10k or something, but I really want to feel confident with the distance, get an idea of goal pacing for St Croix, and make sure my nutrition plan works. I honestly have no idea what to expect, but it will be the learning experience I need. And I'm sure it will be on very tired legs so it will be a great mental challenge.

So less than 6 weeks of training left...half of which are adapdation weeks. Race season is coming fast but things are looking good.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 41: Superbummed

If I was bummed last week with all my peeps heading south for training camps, while I was at least enjoying some nice weather at I'm superbummed. Yesterday I had the usual 5:15am Friday wakeup for swimming, and as usual it was a struggle to get my lazy ass out of bed. But once I get there (usually still in my PJs on deck) with the group its always motivating. And despite the nice reminder that swimming is going in the right direction, seeing some :12's and :13s, it didn't feel too good afterwards. Back home for a 2hr nap before work, and a 3hr brick after that.

A few hours later I had to leave work with the flu and spent the rest of the day in bed. I haven't been sick like that in years, and while it has been going around it probably didn't help that I was going a little too hard on my first outdoor rides last week. It just felt way too cool to average 44km/h for my intervals :)

So today I spent the day lying on my couch, sunny and 20 degrees outside, P3 staring at me by the front door, moping to Amanda that I couldn't ride with her in Hamilton this weekend. I was supposed to ride 100k this morning....

Fortunately 24 hours off has been about the biggest hiccup in training so far this year so I'm not actually going to complain. As mentioned I've been lucky enough to get out on the bike in some beautiful early spring weather, and the combination of consistently being on the trainer 5 days a week through the winter, and a lot of time spent fine tuning my bike fit looks like it's really going to pay off this summer. I feel like I'm cheating with how fast this bike is, and after 3 tri bikes in the past 3 years and endless tinkering with my position it finally feels comfortable and sustainable in the aerobars. I can't wait to see how it rolls with the disc wheel and ny new Wingspan helmet.

Running is a bit more of a mystery at this point, with a lot of focus being on swimming and putting a ton of time on the bike as well. With most of my running being endurance and race-specific tempo(which for a 70.3 doesn't feel particularly fast in training) its hard to say where I stand besides feeling good with my goals.

Besides the everyday grind I'm also working more closely with my physio and incorporating some massage into my routine to keep everything working properly. I haven't had a training injury in close to two years but the small things can be easily neglected when things seem to be going well. For example, tight hips means a less aggressive bike position and sore back running off (a big no no for me). So I'm taking a more proactive approach rather than being too cheap to take prehab seriously.

Long story short I'm actually not bummed at all, I will be back at it tomorrow and I'm looking foward to warm weather this week and six more weeks after that of solid training with a couple races thrown in to remember how to hurt. Looks like I'll be dusting off the road bike for the Good Friday Road Race in a couple weeks, and since I've been doing all TT training I'll probably have to go off the front. And after that I'm planning on racing the Run for Retina Half Marathon to learn how to race a half and figure out my pacing for the distance.

I will leave you this time with some awesome non-Canadian music for recovery purposes...I always like covers by good artists, and emotionally powerful uses of the F-bomb.

Your source for the best musical taste in the triathlon world

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 33: Bummed :(

We're officially over a month into my prep...and no I don't have injury news, a change in plan or anything like that.

It's March Break, and in Ontario that means time for everybody to fly/drive/race/head south for a training camp. And its for good reason....despite our mild winter everyone is SICK of crappy weather and ready to go outside in less than 3 layers of clothing (5 if you are planning on getting on your bike).

So no, I'm not bummed because I have something negative to tell you. Just that I'm still here in London while...

1. LPC 2012 Camp has officially started, and I have already missed the best brick workout in the world - lazy river swim followed by a marathon.........eating session at Houlihan's breakfast buffet.

2. Many triathletes are into their racing season, in the hunt for Olympic points, or competing in some of the coolest places in the world against the best athletes on the planet (including Erich Wegscheider...check out his Abu Dhabi race report here). Speaking of which, Abu Dhabi looks like an incredible race, and if I ever learn to compehend being on a bike for 200km I would love to do this race.

3. And Coach Chris' cycling camp is also underway, and even my boss gets to go to that one!!

Alas, not all is lost. My time in the sun is coming quickly!! And we have some beautiful weather on tap in Ontario, and yesterday I got out on a beautiful 3hr ride in the sun and wind, and have finally put to rest the question in my head if my bike training is working :)

Its finally time to really push my training limits for the first time this season, and while it seems I never have enough time to get everything in, I'm still managing the big training weeks with full time work, and still finding some time to write blog updates in between it all.

So on tap this week...train just as strong and consistent as last week! And make a stop in to my physio to make sure everything is still working properly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 28: A Lesson

Why am I still writing out the days?...I realize it's starting to get a tad annoying. But I don't feel like stopping at the point. So you'll have to just deal with it :)

This past week has been a recovery week in my first little build cycle. I have found it much easier to push through a really heavy 3 week training block knowing that there's a very distinct recovery week following, more for a mental break than anything else. I have had no problem hitting 20 hour training weeks on my "on" weeks through this block, something I would rarely touch in mid-season in previous years. But with training ramping up my recovery week was still around 16 hours of training (I think I was around 12-15 hours per week this time last year). NOT that I'm advocating trying to put in big training weeks with a ton of garbage miles just to say you're doing 20 hour weeks...

But when I was still feeling very tired yesterday at the end of a week that was supposed to get my re-energized for a BIG block coming up next week, I was getting a little concerned with things. My day started with a big sleep in and a muddy tempo run on my favourite trail. Legs did not feel good after climbing Richter Pass on the Computrainer 12 hours prior. But a nice little mental victory to finish strong after wanting to turn around and go to bed.

Ok, really not feeling recovered at this point.

3 hours of zoning out and 2 hours of napping later, I only had 45 minutes to get a swim in, which despite my gains from swim camp I was not motivated in the least to get done.

Maybe I shouldn't go, I'm only swimming today because work messed with my training schedule this week.

Got to the pool at 5:10pm and I'm meeting Coach Chris at 6 to pick up my team kit and discuss some possible road races this summer to put Black Beauty to work (I feel very neglectful with all the time I've been spending on the tri bike). Guess I have time for 2k straight easy swim and call it a day...I'll try not to let it get to me that "lane swimming" meant that one lane was open and players 2 & 3 were already going at it before I jumped in. But luckily I was able to rely on my new positive attitude towards swimming (and water in general) and it felt nice to get in a stretch out my stroke with no desire to look up at the clock, count strokes or overemphasize any part of my still slightly robotic swim stroke.

400m in and I push off into someone who suddenly decided to switch the direction of the lane. I ain't shook.

1k done...that wen't quickly. Stroke feels great, no effort so far.

Ok maybe I'm glad I got in after all.

1500m in and still swimming effortlessly and feeling good about my improving swim stroke. So I just happened to catch the time out of the corner of my eye, and calculated when I - pretended - not to notice what the clock said when I jumped in.

Hmm, on pace for a PB. That's pretty cool.

So I pretended not to watch the clock for another 400m, still feeling totally effortless. Maybe I don't need to be scared of a 2k ocean swim after all!

Well I have to go for it now.

Finished my - 1900 easy, 100 just a wee bit faster - with a nice PB, without a warmup or any concern for how fast I was swimming. Just focusing on finishing 2k trying to maintain an effortless stroke after a day of feeling pretty bagged. And now I get to finish off the recovery week feeling enegrized and excited for the little victories.

Actually that's swim PB number 2 for the week. So my recovery week ends today with a short-long run and another swim. My next block starts tomorrow (number 2 of 3 up to St. Croix), and if I had to race tomorrow I would be pretty confident with my fitness.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 25: The Game

Where: Canada Games Aquatic Center, London ON

When: Thursday night flush swim

Players: (min. 6)
1. Lady with goggles older than me, breast stroking in the wrong direction
2. Board shorts kid ...attempting... fly down the middle of the lane
3. Innocent bystander swimmer who inevitably gets nailed by player #2
4. Old couple water jogging tandem in the fast lane
5. Small children throwing nerf balls over the bulkheads into lane (they're probably peeing over there too)
6. Me

-Complete 4k swim, and hopefully reinforce new and improved swim stroke & attitude towards swim training
-Avoid flipping out on anyone, INCLUDING passive aggressive acts of anger (ex. overexaggerated dolphin kicks and flip turns within the vacinity of your opponents)
-Swimming over opponents Harry Wiltshire style is forbidden, even when swimming start speed 50's
-Goal: accept that for some unknown reason this game is a paifully common and expected phenomenon among those who aim higher than floating like a turd when going "swimming"

Name of the Game: Triathlon Swimming Specificity Training

...If training was easy everyone would do it. And it wouldn't be nearly as fun :)