Monday, May 25, 2015

One Last Tune Up

At long last, it's almost here! I've been fortunate enough to travel to my fair share of destination races (and my list of "we have to go back to _____ this year" grows longer every season), but there's really no other way I'd rather spend my summer than weekend road-tripping to races throughout Ontario. Particularly when the destination is the Switzer cottage in Muskoka, but that will have to wait a bit later in the summer!

It feels like it has been the longest "pre-season" ever having started my racing in early March. Typically I try to get one or two road races or 10k/half-marathons in before starting my true race season in June, so I'm already in new territory this year. But with the IM coming up at the end of the year I've benefited from having more focus – both during workouts, and with the process – than ever before. Still, despite managing to put together a consistent spring of training and some good early season results I still have that mild feeling of panic leading up to my first half IM of the year.

I'd be lying if I said it has been perfect, I've nailed every workout, never missed a session etc. One of my pet peeves with athletes on social media is their version of life/training/workouts always being awesome and epic. Nobody posts their Strava segments from when they slept in and had to squeeze in half their intended training after a long work day, or cut something short to make time for core & physio. But that's reality sometimes!

The first lesson I've learned in my IM year is probably the most obvious: life is going to get in the way sometimes. I envisioned this year being 12 months of nailing each and every workout. While training has been going well, it's far from perfect. But I am becoming a better athlete in a much different way than I expected – a little better at the overall picture, a little bit at a time.

Putting an Ironman entry fee on your credit card doesn't erase all fatigue, stress and low motivation for the next 364 days. Life still happens. You can either dwell on it or accept it and learn for next time. Maybe it's poor timing on my part that I've chosen to undergo this journey simultaneously while balancing my first year in a career job, managing (sometimes opposing) schedules with Amanda, and adopting a fur child. Or maybe it's what will truly make me a better, stronger and more consistent athlete at the end of this. 

 My running partner, son & occasional shit disturber, Hunter
I was really happy with my race at the Clermont Draft-legal Tri, and even happier with my result at Around the Bay. Since then it has been a bit up and down, having to balance a sometimes challenging work and life schedule, then somehow try to fit in training. At times it has felt like a chore, especially on the weeks when my only day off work has 5-6 hours of training scheduled. As Amanda can attest it hasn't been easy, but I'm slowly learning to adapt and figure out that balance.

All of that is to say, it's been a fun and challenging spring of training…and with my first goal race coming up in a few weeks there's still some uncertainty with exactly what to expect. But last week I was fortunate enough to get one more little test of fitness under my belt, the first ever 20k TT put on by Gabbi Whitlock and Balance Point Triathlon Club.
The weapon of choice. I still don't believe any "superbike" matches the blend of aerodynamics, handling and simplicity of my 2011 P3

The TT was on a course that's pretty popular in London for local clubs - a gently rolling out-and-back typically with a good dose of wind. And luckily I had a good measuring stick to compare with, since I did a solo TT on the same course almost this exact time last year. Last year I hit 29:20 and 308W average (4.2W/Kg)…not out of this world, but I was pretty happy with it coming off an inconsistent off-season. It was a good indicator of where my fitness was going, and I had likely my best season on the bike to date. So that was the high water mark. TT photos are courtesy of Ken Whitlock.
A little bonus speed courtesy of my Rudy Project Wing57 lid

I was a little nervous that those numbers were going to be a stretch given that virtually all of my riding so far this spring has been trying to dial in my half-IM pacing of 255-265W. I was just hoping that with a substantial amount of suffering I could get some top-end out of my legs and take down my time from last year, with a little extra motivation that BPT had gathered over 35 athletes for this TT. It was awesome to have so many people out and giving it a big effort.

To summarize, when all was said and done I managed to finish in 27:55 for an average speed of 43.0km/h, by far the fastest speed I've recorded for a race/TT/training effort. And since I am a few pounds lighter this year, my 312W average power not only was higher than last year, but got me just under 4.5W/Kg. It was one more boost of confidence that I'm still on track for my best fitness I've ever had and things are looking really good for the upcoming season.
Suffering to the finish
And this recap wouldn't be complete without mentioning Amanda's unreal time. I can't say enough about her work ethic. She's been struggling with a lingering run injury for over a year now, but has been working very hard to improve every aspect of her training. She's been putting out big numbers on the bike throughout the winter, so I told her she had to break 37km/h for her TT. She wasn't sure about my lofty goal for her, but that's why it's nice for both of us to have each other as such strong supporters :)

She went 32-flat, 37.5km/h. Mission accomplished. #beastmode
So next up for me is some fun hanging out in Guelph with the teamLPC Hurdle Project squad this weekend before race season starts! I'll just be coming out to watch Amanda and teamLPC at MSC Woodstock before I kick it off with the Rose City Half the following week. I'm really excited to return to this fast course after a few years of racing some of the most challenging 70.3 courses around, and see how much time I can take off my 4:28 in 2012.

After that it will be a short (and likely painful) turn-around to take part in Provincial Champs at Toronto Triathlon Festival, before buckling down for a couple more weeks and racing Ironman 70.3 Muncie, my big goal race for the first half of the year. It still feels odd that the bulk of my tri season is compressed into a 5 week period. But I am really looking forward to focusing all of my energy on logging the big miles from mid-July to late September and get physically and mentally prepared for Louisville. I may throw in one or two Multisport Canada races in there, but after Muncie it's all about the training miles.
Next update will likely come after Welland!