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Monday, June 21, 2010

Hey, this training stuff works!

This past weekend I completed a sprint distance tri as my first race of the season.  I have only 2 other races planned, 1 other sprint and a 1/2 Iron before the full in Wisconsin.  Why a sprint?  Well, in my transition from fat dude to someone trying to be a triathlete I had competed in sprints in the past.  I wanted to do this as my first race where I can truly say that I have been training like a triathlete.  And I wanted to leave what I had on the road to see what kind of improvements a few months of training can make.  So here is my happy race report!!
Fist, here are my results from the last event that I competed in, the distanced vary as this past weekend was regulation course as it was the Ontario Association Triathlete championship event.

2009 Guelph Lake Sprint
Weigh in:  206(clydesdale division)
Section         Category place        Overall Place      Time        Pace           T1         T2      
Swim 750m       33/56                         333/588        18:23      2:27/100    2:23        2:09    
Bike 30k            10/56                         55/588          51:56      34.7kmh  
Run 7k               38/56                        326/588         37.54      5:25min/k
2010 Guelph Lake Sprint
Weigh in: 181
Swim 750m       10/56                          92/400           14:54     2:00           2:46       2:02
Bike 19k            4/56                            13/400           32:31     35.1kmh
Run 5k               15/56                          117/400         24:05     4:49min/k

To summarize, I feel like I completed not like I was out there to do a sprint tri!  I loved the event and my results and I learned a ton of lessons for moving into other events and training.

PreRace Fun:
I am very particular about pre race routines and timing.  I hate getting to an event and having to rush to get ready, so I always leave a ton of time on the front and back of events to prevent that from happening.  This weekend worked out well, although the start was a little late, the event was well organized and got me to the relaxed point faster than previous years.   When we arrived, I started to get my gear ready for the event, my wife(who is a saint for being there and supporting) suggested that I could smile for the photos she was taking.  I responded and told her that before a race I am in my zone and it is not smiling time!  :)  I really don't know what that zone is, but I do know I tend to close off the world around me and get very focused on having my gear laid out and organized.    In a very efficient time frame I was at transition and set up to go!

Warm up:
In the past I have not been a big warm up guy.  I did most of these to get across the line without much concern for time, so doing a warm up was just using energy that I needed for the event.  This weekend I did a short run and some drills to get loosened up.  I believe it was good as it got my HR up before the event, got my muscles warmed up and ready to go. I then put in my wetsuit and made my way to the lake. The water was around 70 with a little wave, but nothing alarming.  I wanted to focus on a good swim warm up as I have been eaten up by the water in the past.  It was great to be in the open water and getting a good feel for it.  It was also a practical swim as half way through I felt my nail starting to come off.  I knew it was a matter of time before it did, I am happy that I felt it rather than someone swimming behind me and ripping it off in the race!  I got it all taped up and ready to go.

It's race time!!
In the past I have tended to be out in the back of the pack waiting for the horn to go off before rushing to the water.  This year I placed myself front and center in order to be in the pack. I wanted to take some punches, pulls and kicks as part of training.  As the clock rolled back, I got myself into the final mental zone and we were off!
As soon as the horn was off I started to porpoise out to where I could get into a swim.  Within a short while I was in a rhythm and moving forward away from other swimmers.  I had a slight technical in that my goggles started to fog making sighting tough, but I was able to follow the wave ahead well enough to get me to the marker without doing a drunken wander in the water!  As we made our way out, I was getting pulled a bit by others. A few swimmers seemed to think that was the way to continue along and did it 2-3 times in a row.  So, I added a slight flutter to my kick to remind them that the entire lake was available and hanging onto my ass was not the option for this afternoon!  As I was swimming I focused on a relaxed breath so as to not get my HR off the scale.  I was only breathing to one side and every 3rd and it was working great.  I did focus on form and a good roll to get my hands out of the waves and that did well for me in the swim. Bu hte time I reached the first marker I started to pass other swimmers.  Coming around the mark was a good exercise in sighting as it seemed everyone was gathering there, I took set a line early and stuck to it which got me through the corner with no drama at all.  The second leg had the waves coming straight at me but did not break my rhythm or breathing which I was happy about.   As I rounded the 3rd marker there was all sorts if swimmer action.  A couple of heats had gathered together so it was a little more strategic to get through.  After a couple more punches and some jockeying I was past the chaos on my way in. Before I knew it i was on shore running up to T1 feeling great.  I had no idea what my swim had been as I was not wearing a watch for that part, so I went with my gutt feel and smiled while I changed for the ride.
The Ride!
The bike has always been the stronger discipline for me so I don't get to excited about it,  y nerves reamain calm as I get out on the road.  As my strategy today was to leave it all on the road, I had to be strategic on the bike and not blow my brains out so I could not run.  I planned on riding at a comfortable pace, maintain a decent HR and make sure that I could run a decent run after the cruise.  As soon as I got onto the road I started passing people.  I spent the entire ride yelling 'on your left' as I rode past a lot of riders.  The course was a fair hill ride with no real killer hills, but it was not flat to say the least.  My shifting was efficient and I used it well to take advantage of the downhills which preceded most ups.  At no point during the ride was I passed or chased and I did ride it comfortable, possible leaving a little more  in the tank to save for the run.  Not having taken a leave it out there strategy left me holding a little more than I could have done.  The past rides have all been 30k rides and I thought this year was as well. As we got just past the 10k mark we turned around.  I thought it was a little odd to be turning early, so I figured they changed the course a bit from prior years.  As I rode back towards the start I was totally confused about it still believing that I was going to turn and ride more.  No, it was a 19k course, I kind of felt cheated as I was having a great ride and wanted to keep going!  I crossed the line with fuel in the tank and a positive vibe in how I rode.  I had no idea that it was quite as good as it had been.  I made my way into transition and racked my bike for the run.  My transitions could have both been quicker that they were, I have learned that lesson and will not fiddle in the next ones!
It's run TIME!
The run is the part of the event that I like the least now.  I have benchmarked myself against some awesome runners and it makes it a real challenge for me.  Most of my friends run a 10k well under 4o minutes and that is what I apsire to do.  I am a bit of a bone head about it as they have been runners their whole lives and all come to the sport from that area of strength.  My goal today was to be under a 5min/k on the run.  As I made my way out I looked down at my GARMIN and saw that I was on pace to manage that.  I had to be cautious of my HR as it is my guide to how I could hold.  As I started on the run I passed quite a few people and was feeling good about how it was moving along.  After a couple of hills my HR was spiking so I decided to do a short walk to let it drop so I did not do an overall explode.  Good strategy!  Iy allowed me to continue along at a sub 5 as soon as I started running again.  My transition to run was also excellent with my stride being relaxed almost immediately into the run.   I have a good training friend who has kicked my butt in past years on the swim, been close on the bike and killed me on the run.   Today I was running fast enough that I took him until between km 3&4 of 5 to catch up with me.  He told me to run with him but I could not keep his pace which was about a 4:05.  But I did not let him totally get away.!  The run was hot and I use water stations to both hydrate and cool down.  Before I knew it I was crossing the line and it was done!
I was bouncing about the result before I saw it.  I knew I had done a good race in relation to past events and I knew where I need to keep working!
Post  RAce thoughts:
Swim:  Well, I took almost 4 minutes off my previous result and did that with less than 1 year of training.  Sure I know I can go faster, but I want to keep it in perspective.  I will continue to work on form and pacing for longer distance to allow me to finish comfortable.  I saw the swim coach this weekend and will be with her in the next couple of weeks for stroke imnprovement.  Overall I feel I had an awesome swim and a great basis for continued improvement this season and forward.  (I have been told to take 45 seconds from my time due to placement of mats)
Bike: I think the bike was good!  I know that if I out in some good weight sessions I can build my power and further improve my ride.  Overall, 1km/h faster is not going to make a big difference but I am not going to let it slip.  I am getting my old riding legs back and I am pleased with that.
Run: Overall I accomplished my goal!  Yes, that is great!  I could have done better!  I had to walk a couple of times to get that pace.  Had I been more consistent I likely could have managed a 4:40 pace.  But it is awesome compared to the past results!  It is great as it is going to help me realign my training a bit to be able to reach those goals.  I felt good but poor active recovery.  So, moving forward I have a few weeks of good hill workouts ahead to make some changed where required!
Summary:  I am personally happy as hell!  I kicked butt relative to past years results and I believe that gives me the right to call myself a triathlete.  I told my training pal that this year I would be out of the swim transition before he got there, I did that!  I told him I would crush his bike leg, I did that!  I admitted he would smoke me on the run.  Well, I held my own from that perspective!  Another season of training and he had better change his ways or he will be watching my heels the entire race! High, I hope you read this and take it as a challenge!
It was a great confidence building race and it served its goals 100%.  We followed it with a 4 hour ride home for good measure, so it was a perfect day!


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  2. Congrats on a great race John!! You did kick butt, mine included :-). Which 1/2 Iron are you going to do this year? Miha and I are going to do Peterborough on July 4th.

  3. woohooooo! Congratulations, John! You look fantastic in those race photos! How awesome -- isn't it so inspiring to see your hard work pay off. :-)

  4. YEAH! Congrats John! It is so awesome to feel that training pay off! Keep it up!

  5. Great job and race report. Wow. You're kicking butt. Your looking ripped to!!!

    Great bike split.


  6. Great job! What a difference a year made. Probably made for a more enjoyable race also.

  7. GREAT results!, you should be a proud triathlete today. To cut 4min on a swim is great, and you still cut time on the run as well!.

    keen to hear what's the weights you plan for power.


  8. Thanks for the report JF. Awesome improvements all around and a 35k average on the bike? On that course? Nothing to complain about there! Keep it up!

  9. Wow--truly the results of two different people! What amazing progress.

  10. John that is amazing! Great results from your hard work :)

    Even small wins on the run are huge for those of us who aren't runners by nature, and you are definitely improving there! Congratulations :)

    PS Your dog looks happy watching you, what is his/her name?

  11. thanks to everyone for the comments! you have all been an awesome inspiration towards reaching the benchmarks and becoming a faster PFG!