Monday, May 23, 2011

Recovery Weekend

Given that I was coming off last weekend's 70.3, I didn't do much during the week. My only workout was Thursday, in which I did my spin bike for 15 minutes, followed by 2 miles on the treadmill.

Saturday, was a planned group ride. A couple of riders were going 80 miles, so they started early and did a loop south on A1a. I got to Sunrise & A1a at 6:50 AM and waited on everyone to arrive. Runners were warming up for a 5K event set to go off at 7 AM, which I jokingly referred to as the "Rapture Day 5K." Our group arrived and I rode 40 of their 80 miles. Sunday, finding that the world had not in fact ended, I got out for a 10K run. The right knee was still a little sore from last weekend's race, but nothing to complain about.

Since I don't think my knee can handle a full Ironman, I canceled my scheduled appearance at Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Thus, my schedule now stands open for the summer. While several of my friends are hard at training for Coeur d'Alene or a summer marathon, for the first time in years I have no real training schedule. Perhaps it's time to simply ride, run and swim for the enjoyment of the exercise itself. Of course, I'm sure this will last all of a week or so before I find another event to sign up to do.

I watched 2 mountain stages of the Giro d'Italia this weekend. All I can say is Alberto Contador is going to be hard to beat at this year's Tour de France. The dude is killing the other climbers in the mountains. I tried to watch a little of the Tour of California, but I guess I'm a traditionalist. There is nothing like seeing riders battle it out in the Alps. Although, I think these mountains were the Dolomites. In any event, it was Europe. I can't wait until July.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Florida 70.3 Race Report

Going into Florida 70.3 in Orlando, I knew two things. The race has a reputation for a very hot run course, and that I was not ideally trained for the event. I had come off a knee injury which kept me out of training for 6 weeks in January and February; had to ramp up first for the London Marathon the third week of April, and then had to switch over to triathlon training. Not ideal.

Pre-race. My buddy Jerry and I drove up to Orlando early Saturday morning. We didn't figure in the extra time that it takes to be bussed over to the race site and so ended up spending most of Saturday afternoon getting signed in, shopping at the expo, and getting our bikes into the transition area. What normally takes a couple of hours took about 4 1/2 hours. We finally checked into our hotel at about 5:30 PM and were able to meet with our friend Maria for a pasta dinner around 7 PM. Then it was back to the hotel for pre-race preparation and off to bed.

We awoke Sunday morning to ski filling thunder and lightning. A front was moving through the area. We turned on the local weather forecast. It looked like it would just clear by the time the transition area would close. Not wanting to stand around in the rain, we delayed our depart for the parking area a bit. By the time we drove, parked and got bused over to the staging area, time was getting tight. We got body marked and headed to our bikes. I lose sight of Jerry and don't end up seeing him until after the race. Unfortunately, the race organizers decided to stick to their schedule, and I found myself barely able to set up my transition area before the call to leave the transition area goes out. I am able to pump my back tire, but I'm having trouble getting a reading on my front tire. I pump, but the needle swings wildly, letting me know the pump is not adequately connected to the tube valve. I try to reconnect and re-pump with the same result. At this point, I'm being told to leave the transition area. I put the pump in some nearby bushes and hoped I had enough air in the front tube.

Swim. I meet up with buddy John, who is in the same wave as me. Having hit the port-o-potties just beforehand, we don't have long before our wave is off. Because it was on a lake, it was calm and should have been a piece of cake. But because I didn't get enough swim practice in before the event, my time wasn't what it should have been. I probably cost myself an extra 10 minutes on this leg.

T1. As I enter transition, I hit was I think is the lap button to switch over to timing the transition. It turns out I hit the stop/start button instead. I get to my bike and decide I'd better recheck the front tire. Good thing too, as when I find my pump and attach the valve, I note that I only had 80 pounds of pressure in the tire. I pump to 120, gear up and head to the bike out. As I'm ready to hit the lap button for the bike leg, I realize my goof. I start the watch and double click the lap button to get to the bike leg timing.

Bike. The winds from the front that blew through that morning gave us a nice head wind for the first 5 miles or so. For some reason, my legs were tight early on anyway, so it didn't make for a great start of the bike. At an out and back turn around, I think I spot my buddy John Clidas about a half mile ahead of me. I shout out his name, but get no response. After a while, my legs get warmed up and I start enjoying the ride. However, as I didn't get in as many long rides before the event as I probably should have, my neck starts to get sore during the second half of the ride. I'm also getting sore being in the saddle. By the time I completed the ride, I was dying to get off the bike.

T2. As I rack my bike and start to change, I note that my socks are dry and comfortable, so I skip a planned sock change. I get on my running shoes, restock my nutrition supplies, and head out for the run.

Run: As I started the run, I was surprised at how good my feet felt in my running shoes. I don't know why this was, but they just felt comfortable and the socks felt good. My feeling good was not to last. The first mile, which is supposed to feel awkward, felt find. However, between mile 2 and 3, I began to feel resistance and soreness in my right knee-cap. By the end of mile three, I begin to worry that I could re-injure the knee. I give very serious consideration to dropping out of the race. Since the 3 loop course are about 4 1/4 miles each, I decide to ease up on the pace and take walk breaks at both the aid stations and the mile markers. This seems to ease the discomfort. By the time I get back to the transition area, I think that I can make a second lap if I'm careful. Near the end of the second lap, I spot my buddy John on a turn around. As I'm about a half mile ahead of him, I assume he's on his 3rd lap and I'm way behind. I see him at about the same place again on the 3rd lap and realize I probably got ahead of him in T2. Long story short, the knee holds up, but is not happy. I finish a couple of minutes ahead of John and get to see him and another racer bolt for the finish line in final kicks of mutual encouragement.

We all meet up after the finish and congratulate each other on our finishes. Our friend Maria took 4th in her age group, so we were excited for her. I ran into another tri-buddy, Eric Levy, who also did a stellar job. Jerry did well, but wanted to do slightly better. He was doing the event as a step up IM Coeur D'Alene. This was also supposed to be a training event for me to do Coeur D'Alene, but that was before the knee injury. At this point, I was happy to just finish the course.

Lessons Learned. I learned a couple of lessons from this course. First, if you don't put in sufficient training, you can finish, but you'll have more aches along the way. Second, my knee can no longer handle the stress of a long ride followed by a long run. Thus, IM Coeur D'Alene is out of the question. In fact, if I want to avoid re-injuring my knee, 70.3 events are a bad idea. Thus, I'll probably stick to sprint and Olympic distances in the future. Who knows, maybe I'll get in more interval and speed work and actually get faster at these shorter distances.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ooooh....My Aching Back

Many of my fellow triathletes are fond of saying that swim fitness comes fastest with the least amount of training. While I tend to agree with this sentiment, I may have put this off for too long to get comfortable for this weekend's 70.3 in Orlando. "Comfortable" being the operative word.

As I stated in a previous post, I'm just barely getting into shape for a 70.3. Coming off a knee injury in the early part of the year, I had to devote most of my training time to getting back to marathon level fitness for the late April London Marathon. Coming back from London with a virus, I wasn't able to get back to training until a couple of weekends ago. While I got in a couple of 60 mile rides and some runs, I kept failing to get back to the swim. I hate lap swimming, preferring open water swims. On the days that I was healthy and planned a swim, the ocean was just too rough. When offered a pool swim last Sunday, I couldn't pull myself away from the Heat-Celtics game. Finally, this Sunday, I agreed to a pool swim with a couple of buddies.

I decided to swim for 45 minutes, about the time I figured I'd be in the water this coming Sunday for the 1.2 mile lake swim. Not having seriously swam since last October's Miami 70.3, it took me a few laps to find my form. Soon, I felt like I hadn't dropped off swimming. I finished my 45 minutes and felt good about myself. That is until Monday.

When you lift weights or do another activity that you haven't done in a while, there is a tendency to be sore the next day. Monday, my back muscles kept reminding me that I haven't been doing that freestyle arm motion on a regular basis. Ouch! I took the day off from my scheduled long run, opting to simply rest up from Sunday's ride and swim.

I was going to hit the open water this morning, but South Florida was covered in smoke from an Everglades lightning strike fire. I figured an indoor treadmill speed workout was preferable to smoke inhalation. A shame too, as the ocean was calm this morning. I can only hope the ocean remains calm the next couple of mornings, so I can get in another 45 minute swim before Sunday's event. OK, lesson learned. Don't give the swim short shrift.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is Running Long Sunday A Bad Idea?

I scan the Triathlete e-mails that pop up in my in-box for occasionally interesting articles. A recent entry caught my eye entitled "Why You Should Stop Running Long on Sundays." The article by Rich Strauss, a coach with Endurance Nation, suggested that a long run on Sunday following a long Saturday ride is a bad idea. While Rich acknowledges that many, if not most, triathletes follow this weekend warrior pattern, he argues that it is bad training. The argument goes that after two consecutive days of long workouts, the next few days are spent recovering from the hard weekend and we lose quality training days during the first half of the week.

I've trained both ways. When I train for longer events, I tend to ride long on the weekend, then do my long run mid week. However, for shorter training, I tend to bunch the long workouts in on the weekend. Its usually simply a matter of the weekends being the most convenient time to do these longer workouts. There is probably a lot to be said for this separation of long workouts. I think I'll try to put this in practice. Anyone else doing this, or do most of us bunch up the long workouts on the weekend because it is most convenience from a work schedule standpoint?

I have the same question about brick workouts. No doubt a mile run after a long ride helps us train for transitions, but do longer brick runs after a ride do much for our overall fitness. I do them, but I wonder if they make me fitter, or simply more fatigued during the following days. Would I be better off holding off the run for the next day or two and do it faster?

Monday, May 2, 2011

2 + 2 = 70.3

When I was scheduling my Spring events, I figured the I'd gear up for the London Marathon, then come home to hammer on the bike and swim in preparation for Florida 70.3 on May 15th. The theory is that training for one endurance event will get you to a fitness plateau that you can then use as a base to train for the next event. This worked well for me last year, when I came back from doing the Paris Marathon and did the St. Anthony's Triathlon two weeks later.

Well, great plans have a way of coming undone. Coming back from London for the London Marathon, I brought back a nice little virus/flu that had me feeling weak and tired for 2 weeks. As I was sitting in my office last Wednesday still feeling wiped out, I thought: "There's no way I can get ready for this half-ironman." I called my buddy Jerry who I'd planned to ride up to Orlando with and share a room and told him not to count on me. I left a voice mail with another buddy John, also signed up for the event, and said I was likely to pull myself from the event. I spoke with John later and said I would try to get some workouts in over the weekend to see if I could salvage the situation.

As the weekend approached, the e-mail announcing our usual group ride failed to appear. When I sent out an e-mail to find out who was riding Saturday morning, I got back varying responses that indicated everyone was doing something different. I was on my own for a Saturday ride. That turned out to be a blessing. By riding solo, I not only was able to warm up at my own pace, but I was able to get back in the groove of the solo ride of a triathlon event. On my outbound ride, I felt like my fitness was off. I was averaging between 17.5 to 18 at best. To my pleasant surprise, I'd been fighting a headwind and was able to ride from 20 to 23 on the return route.

Sunday morning, my alarm went off at 6 AM. I awoke feeling tired and a little sore from Saturday's ride. I decided to go back to bed and slept until 9:30 AM. I cut the lawn and swam with my son, Alex in our pool. Later in the day, I made tentative plans to do a pool swim with buddy John at 4:30 PM. He was supposed to call and confirm. He didn't call until 5:30 PM, in the middle of the 3rd quarter of the Heat-Celtics game. I bowed out and wished him a good swim. I did go out for a run at 7 PM to make up for my sleep in that morning. A bit of a slog of a run in the evening humidity, but I completed the 10 miles I'd planned for the morning.

With only one more weekend to get in long training, It's still a question as to whether I can get race ready in such a short period. I'm hoping to get in an open water swim or two before the event. I'll also try to get in shorter workouts during the next two weeks. I hope my energy level continues to improve and two long workouts on two consecutive weekends is enough for me to at least complete a 70.3.