Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nice to see improvements....

Having bought a Garmin 405CX at Christmas means I can use the Garmin fancy software. They allow you to select different workouts to compare.
So did just that with 2 bike workouts at "The Island" (aka Fiesta Island).
We are looking at ~1 month apart and I am happy to see the improvements.

Noted in the red arrows:

  • Overall time was longer (more important when compare to other 2 points)
  • Speed was faster by over 1 mph
  • Heart rate (and therefore calorie usage) was lower - meaning I'm being more efficient with my body

Now it's not realistic to extrapolate these 1 month improvements to what could happen in IronMan in November....but.......I can at least have my confidence improved that I'm not totally crazy and this is possible!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Back to the Island

After one of "those weeks" with sickness, travel, and crazy was fitting to go back to training at the island.

Not some crazy "Lost" style where time warps, ghost whisperers, and Zulus occur....but instead the crowd of bikers, bikers, fishing, dog walkers, runners, and did I mention bikers??

BTW the "island" is more commonly known as Fiesta Island, but that just sounds boring compared to the crazy Lost style island ...

Our crazy training group sent out the call of "6am meet and ride for 2:30 hours at 20mph pace"
I read the call and said "heck no!!" mainly due to the 6am start. I've had a couple of nights this week with 2 hours sleep a night (I was in Las Vegas, 'nuff said) so even 2 extra hours was going to make me a much nicer person to be around...

Arrived at the glorious hour of 8:30am and instead of the cold fog we got beautiful sunshine and light winds. Mmm perfect

Here's me ready to ride out the pace ride today...aiming for 17mph.

Gorgeous day, put music on, focused on my cadence at 90+ and speed above 17mph and the technique of a smooth pedal stroke.

Result: 41.2 miles, 2:29 hours, 1300 calories, 158 bpm, avg speed 17.0mph

Felt good most of ride, glad my heart rate is coming down. Drinking Accelerade, 2 bottles, and 1 water. Ate some powerbar and gels but found my stomach was churning towards last 30 minutes of ride....more food?!?!?

Finished with the traditional T-run on the small loop of the island.

Result: 2.5 miles, 9:38 min pace, 350 calories, 168bpm

Uurrgh, have a way to go on my running...but at least I ran the whole time. My mind and body screamed to walk, but I'm training to think more positive about my capabilities and said "you can slow down but you must stay running" and today it worked.

Good Job Me!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Swim Videos and Analysis

A few weeks ago, I had a video taken from a swim coach in TCSD (Triathlon Club of San Diego) and saw how much difference there was between what I thought I was doing and what I was actually doing....
I learnt a valuable tip there to try and get observation incorporated into our plan.

So this week as I did my swim practice session, I brought my iPhone and had my hubby Nigel take a short video of me swimming. I did the same for him. Here are the videos with my commentary on what's working and what's not.

Lucy's Swim

This is much improved from the prior video (no copy available) and from the training classes I have been attending. Some of the areas I have been focused on:
  • Hand Shape: I keep my fingers together as I pull in the water......this gives you more pull in the water. Consider the difference between a hoe and a rake in the amount of dirt it pulls towards you. The same applies to the shape of your fingers on your hand, keeping then together is more efficient that having them spread apart.
  • Arm Entry: The entry point of my arm into the water is earlier and more smoothly entered than I was doing this a few weeks ago. I waited until the full reach extension of my arm before putting in my hand, whereas here my hand enters during and before the full arm extension. It feels odd to do this and I'm not sure I feel an improvement in power, but it does keep the overall swim movements more smooth rather than 'choppy' so that means extra seconds saved.
  • Breathing:Better but still learning that taking a breath should not cause a delay in the swim but rather be part of the overall movement. Currently there is a slight pause as I breathe during my arm movement, and a slight pause on every stroke will mean MANY extra minutes over a 2.4 mile IronMan swim.
  • Body Rotation: This is not as good yet, but using the rotation of the body when I reach in the water provides an extra few inches of reach in the arms, and therefore a longer pull, meaning more power and distance per swim length.
  • Leg Kick: In a triathlon you want to use minimal legs so that you save them for the bike and run. You want overall to have fewer and smaller leg kicks. The kicks should be from the knee down, and the feet should be flexible at the ankles. My swim shows this is an area for improvement. I'm not kicking a full leg which is good, but it's not a tight smooth kick from the knees, the feet look too rigid, and the kick seems overall uncoordinated.
  • Speed: This video feels sooooo slow. At some point I am going to have to get my speed up (and total distance) to make the 2:20 hour cut-off for the IronMan Arizona.
Overall, for 5 weeks of swimming, I have learnt and applied many skills and am feeling a difference in the effectiveness of my swim. Still of course much to improve on.

Nigel's Swim

Here is my commentary on Nigel's swim:
  • Hand shape: good, keeping the fingers together
  • Arm Entry: Interesting to see the difference in the 2 arms here. The right arm looks really good and a smooth entry. The left arm seems to not rise as high and not glide in as easily. When I asked Nigel he said his left shoulder does not have as much rotation in it (due to a car crash 10 years ago) here's an area to build into strength training
  • Breathing: Nigel has that same small pause in the breathing during the stroke, so this is an area to practice in. He breathes on 1 side consistently in this swim. There is no 'right' way for what side to breathe on, everyone is different.
  • Body Rotation: there is less body rotation than me...
  • Body Flotation: I noticed the difference first in Nigel having a lower placement of his bum and legs in the water. My bum is higher. The aim is to keep your bum and legs as level to the top half of your body. If it is lower than it is creating extra drag for you to pull forward in your stroke. Nigel will have to ask about drills to practice raising his bottom half of his body. I have heard that a wetsuit helps in this due to the added buoyancy.  
  • Leg Kick: similar comments to me here about his leg kick, the video was also not the best to see the legs over time.
  • Speed: Nigel's speed is faster than me overall so even with these differences in our techniques, he has overall strength and power that keeps him moving forward faster. 
Nigel claims to be a more novice swimmer, so the sample above of his swimming after 5 weeks of training is very good. Well done!

    I liked being able to look at these videos and take the technique elements into consideration, so I plan to repeat this video exercise down the road.

    This is a 5 minute video link from a professional IronMan, Scott Neyedli, as he swims in a pool to get technique tips. It compares the difference in the factors I considered in his swim when he uses different swim clothing options - trunks, tri-suit, wetsuit. 

    Hill Climbers

    This week's plan from Coach Julie had the Tuesday run being hill climbs, repeated over and over.

    Side Note: I do enjoy the Tuesday run plan as every week it is something different and it keeps me interested and wondering "what will next week be?"

    So I scouted out a local hill to tackle, I was not sure what elevation it was meant to be but the plan stated 0.5 mile up so I looked for distance. There was a lovely hill nearby that I had seen and said "one day I'll try running on that" and it's even called "run of the knolls" to tease me as the challenge it will be. The whole knolls loop is over 5 miles so am looking forward to completing that challenge one day.

    Tuesday morning arrived and went through the new routine to get ready to run...put on clothes, change clothes based on weather and my guessing 'how hot will I get', strapping on heart rate monitor, setting up watch, adding on run belt with drinks, getting key, feeding dog, feeding me, chasing Nigel to get ready.
    I swear it takes longer to get out the door than to actually do the run....

    Side note: I drank a red bull light for breakfast just before run, couldn't stomach food. And took orange barley cordial in 2 small runner's flasks. Worked well for nutrition.

    Off I went...and today's focus was to keep an eye on my heart rate. I'm just learning about heart rate and the zones and why it is better to go slower and keep your heart rate down than to just "go fast and go hard." My main understanding (and I am not an expert here) is when you hit your Anaerobic Threshold (that high heart rate that has you breathing really really hard) you are using the internal body storage for fuel and your brain says "don't accept new fuel into the body" and it stops processing it so you will run out of energy within 1-2 hours. Even if you try and take more fuel in via food, drink, gels... your brain has been programmed not to accept or process it and it will reject it - through your stomach getting gut issues or throwing up, or bonking.

    That 1-2 hours window for fuel and energy is fine for those short races or training sessions, but I'm training for an IronMan looking forward to 16 hours of working my body hard! So I have to train to lower my heart rate to be able to fuel my body. Learning what fuel to take in and when to take it is another key element I'm learning, but today's training was focused more on the heart rate.

    In a hill climb training session I know I am going to get a high heart rate, so my goal was to try and bring it back down as low as possible after the climb. It was quite amazing the range I had on the run....the high heart rate went up to 180 bpm as I climbed the 170 feet over 0.5 miles and then I managed to bring it down in the recovery 0.5 mile descent to as low as 135 bpm.

    Looking at the heart rate and elevation chart...I cam see how the patterns overlap considerably. As I work my body harder to get up a hill, my heart is working harder increasing my heart rate.

    When I look at the heart rate and speed chart there is not a pattern to be seen as easily as the other chart. I see the points that I turned around or stopped to catch a breath at (the spikes in the speed). I'm not sure how much of a range I should expect in my running speed....partly I think I should expect to see a faster speed when I was coming downhill, but then as I was focused on bringing my heart rate down I know that I focused my body to go slow and to just breath. So overall looks like the majority of my speed was in the band of the 12-14 minute miles.

    These hill climb runs are going to be helpful to build up for the training race of the San Dieguito Half Marathon on Feb 13th. It's meant to be very hilly!

    Overall Summary
    Distance: 5.45 miles
    Time: 1:07 hours
    Avg Moving Pace: 12:11 minute miles

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Are you serious??

    Today was a day I was excited was the first race event held by the local Tri Club San Diego (TCSD) and it was a time I wanted to watch and observe the fitness level of others and get some race practice for what it feels like during the different stages.

    Well I certainly learnt a lot, but about different things than I expected....
    We arrived at 7:45am already thinking we were behind schedule for an 8am start. But I was mentally preparing myself in the car for a quick set up and go.
    As we drove into the parking lot we saw all these runners.....were they staging the start? Starting early? It didn't make sense...
    Turns out the race time had changed and became 7:30am! There were emails sent out (checked I didn't get them) and it was on the Yahoo Updates (I scanned the past 2 days but didn't see a mention). Did see a reference from our training group that had 7:30am so shame on me. Lesson Learned! Don't trust a website AND get there early for these type of mishaps.

    We joined the race in the middle for the bike-run only and not the full run-bike-run duathlon....I let it go in my mind and laughed it off, and was thankful that this lesson was learnt in essentially a training race.

    Off on the bike I went, I was the first of the 5 of us to pass the stage here. I knew I'd have a few pass me up, but all of the guys did which made me feel a little depressed....much room for improvement here. Nigel was only just ahead of which made me feel ok until he said he had to stop and fix his chain that had fallen off. Oh man....more room for improvement for me!

    Transition was fine and quick (likely under 1 minute) and off on the run. Set my watch to run to. Was tired from too much stress at work in past 2 weeks which just meant I was not emotionally able to get into gear. Plus have to add SOME factor from not starting the race with the club.

    Set my watch to run to and aimed to get a negative split from mile 1 to mile 2. I thought I did until I just saw the details from my watch that meant I didn't. But my running has improved to be under a 10 minute mile...some hope here for me yet. I was still last to the group by far, but I'll just choose to be happy about the run split today.

    Our group finished off the post-race with another bike ride of 18 miles to get our "long ride" in for the day making the total 30 miles of bike and 2 miles of running. The second bike ride was not a tempo ride, just pedalling. My lethargy (as already mentioned) carried through meaning I dragged the group today. Another day to look forward to where I can lead the pack....

    More photos coming...but this is the race map for Otay Lakes. The highlighted route is the bike ride of 12 miles. The run was 2 miles on a direct path from the start along the lake.