Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Race Report: SuperSeal Olympic Triathlon

Hooray! Both Nigel and I finished successfully yesterday in the San Diego SuperSeal Triathlon.
I'd like to say without any upsets....but when does that ever happen?

So here's the blow race report....skip along to the parts that interest you (or just look at the photos).

oh man, that alarm sure is early. Good thing we went to bed at 8pm the night before. Because we both are suffering from colds, we took Nyquil the night before and had the Nyquil nightmares so can't say it was a restful sleep. But we get drugged up with Sudafed so we can breathe and get the kit in the car.

We had laid out all the kit the day before and double checked it against a list....very good idea s who is clear headed at 4:30am???!??

After breakfast of Muscle milk and some toast, we get in the car to get to Coronado by 6:30am and get parking before it closes at 7am. Drive is quiet and listen to some music.

We arrive and find the beach parking is full. What!? So we follow cars and find parking much further down in a park. Phew! It's only just getting light and it is cold!! Beanie hats are needed at this time of morning.

The Sprint race starts and we are getting yelled at for being in the transition area....but we still have 1 hour left! I'm NOT budging, as I want all my stuff nicely organized and laid out. Mentally go through the transitions with "grab this, put on this, eat this...."

As Nigel and I have not put on a wetsuit for 1 year, we do a little practice of pull on / pull off movement.

We walk over to the start of the swim in the Bay and have a practice swim. Man it's different with the wetsuit...maybe I should have practiced? Nah! This IS the practice.

I ask Nigel the obligatory question....do I look fat in this? LOL, not really, but got you lot going.

We meet up with Barrie and find he is a swim buddy for the race. He will swim along someone that does not feel strong to give them confidence (and save them if needed....how that soooo becomes true in 30 minutes).
Nigel asks for Barrie to be his swim buddy.

Lucy starts at 8:10 in her wave.....keeps an even pace and focuses on the swim stroke. Pull, lift, easy entry, pull, etc.... soon I'm 1/2 way and on the way back. I catch a nice gulp of sea water that makes me stop and retch for a while, but I get back to it. Take a nice stop for a pee....yes it's gross but I'd rather pee in the water than have to stop on the bike!
And something like 40 minutes later, off to the bike transition.

Nigel starts his wave at 8:20am....he goes off really fast. Barrie is thinking "how am I ging to keep up with him" and Nigel gets maybe 400 meters in an then WHACK!?! a big kick to the nose from the person in front. His eyes tear up, he gasps for breath, ends up swallowing tons of water, and hyper-ventilates with flashbacks of his last near-death experience in New Zealand drowning in the rapids....he's thrashing around. Barrie says to lie on his back but by then the lifeguard has blown the whistle and is dragging him to shore. Nigel walks onto the shore and faints, medical rush to him with oxygen and there he sits being quizzed for a good few minutes "what day is it" "what's you name" "where are you"....etc....
They ask "what do you want to do" and Nigel says "I want to finish" and they drop him in the water to finish the last 200 meters and off he goes....

We both make it to the bike section and do our 2 loop course on the flat section of the Silver sStrand Beach road. I take the time to eat and drink a lot, especially at the start after all the salt water I took on in the water. Takes a while to get into the groove and I have to mentally adjust to all the bikers around me....the ones that yell "left...left..." and the ones that are zipping past way faster than me. I stick to my 85-90 cadence and 17 mph target and focus on the leg movement. Don't mash....make the movement smooth like a rolex watch....eat and drink regularly, even when you don't feel like it.

I also learnt that biking in a race can be lonely and boring for the mind. I train with music and other riders near me to talk. The race had neither. So I had to sing songs to myself. Somehow when you want to think of a song to sing, the mind goes blank....so I'm thinking to add a little piece of paper on the bike with a list of song titles to sing to myself to keep occupied. The bike is the longest section with the next race at 4 hours and the IronMan at 7 hours....so entertainment needed!

Aim was to take 1:30 hours for the bike and I think was pretty much the time that Nigel and I each took. Likely 1:20 hours, but we'll see when the splits get posted on the website. Watch wouldn't start and forgot to check my bike system.

I did ask Nigel what he did and he said he didn't eat anything and drank the water from the side. So my assessment is that he didn't take enough energy into his system, but that's his decision to make!

Now onto the run. Ate the banana in the transition and was in and out. I had planned to take some food chews with me for energy but forgot as I was running out the transition. I thought "the race guide said they had gels and water and gatorade on the course, so I'll be ok". Lesson learned after 2 races state what they have....it NEVER matches. Only water available....so not enough energy going in during this last leg. Good thing it was only 6 miles!

Leg hurt straight away (darn!! this is going to be an everlasting problem this year) so immediately adjusted to a run-walk approach. Run for 6 minutes at a 12 minute pace then walk at a 16 minute pace. I know it's a snail pace to you fast runners, but hey, it's what I've got!

At the halfway turnaround point, I was elated and knew I'd make it to the finish. I felt my energy level rise at mile 5 when I always get the "finisher energy burst" and tried to pick up the pace, but the leg said no, and as tie was not the factor, I kept to my run-walk pace and trotted into the finish chute.

Nigel was 10 minutes behind me so I cheered him on the final section an gave him a high five as he crossed the finish line. Then I heard the swimming story and was thankful he got through at all!

The Final Times
Nigel   3:22:10 (including the medical adventure)
Lucy    3:24:50 (but I actually swam the whole thing)

Very happy with these times. I didn't really have a goal but did want to be under 4 hours. Had estimated it would be around 3:30 hours so happy it was just below. That means for Wildflower Half-ironman distance it will be in the 7-8 hour range. I think the cutoff is 8 hours, so will be mindful of that on race day.

Adding in the time splits now they are available:

Next Race: Wildflower Long Triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) at end of April.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Life Throws Another Curve Ball

When you set yourself a goal to do an IronMan, you know that it's not going to be a straight road to success. It takes hours of effort and dedication to put towards doing this.

And I'm not a professional, I'm an average person that has a career and friends, a husband and a dog (my pseudo-kid). I fit in this IronMan goal into my life and not the other way around.

So, I knew there would be some curve balls, the first one with my knee injury, teaching me the value of cross-training.

But the past 3 weeks also added another curve ball....the opportunity for a new city, a new job, a new lifestyle. Yep, I have been interviewing for a new role and after 3+ weeks of lots of flying, interviewing, resume applications, and liner equation solving (a very interesting interview indeed!).....I have accepted a new job.

Career change was on the cards, but it had been planned into life AFTER the IronMan. But you know how life goes, it doesn't follow your plan.

So I am now in a position that I have 4 weeks to move and change my life to a new city (San Francisco), new pace of job (start-up), and find the new balance of training (no friggin' clue right now). Woo hoo!!

And my body has responded to these 3 weeks with little training and a fast paced change with a nasty cold. Urrgh!

So I'll really enjoy my test tomorrow of the SuperSeal Olympic Triathlon. Yes, I am doing a triathlon after this crazy 3 week period that has left me exhilarated and exhausted. 

I'm excited about seeing my performance tomorrow for a few reasons

  • Answer the "it's better to be under trained that over trained" statement I keep hearing
  • Determine how my mental toughness (and the past 3 weeks had me get plenty of this) has increased
  • Be able to put the 3 sports together for the first time in 1 year (sprint triathlon in May 2010, but note I did an adventure race in Nov 2010)
  • Test out the nutritional aspects of the new combinations of drinks and food I've been training on in a race setting
  • Test out the knee if it's any better - of which I've seen large progress in physical therapy but have not actually done any real running since Feb 13
  • How to apply a different mental attitude in a race setting. I see this as a "C" race and not an "A" race. So really just practice. But keeping to a "C" mindset with adrenaline and hundreds of racers surrounding you will be a test.
  • Complete the race feeling happy and without injury - time is NOT anything I am solving for in this race

I'll write up the race report with the answers...and more...after tomorrow. Wish me Luck... I have a feeling I need some for tomorrow!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thank You Rehab United

After the knee injury that occurred on my half marathon, I was quite upset and thought I was done for.
I got advice to go to Physical therapy and Rehab United was suggested.

I've been going for 3 weeks @ 2 times per week and varied my physical therapist from Melissa, Ashley, Brian, Nick, and Andrew. They have all been great!!

I have never done physical therapy before and not really sure what to expect  and thought they'd laugh at me for the claims I have to do an IronMan this year.

But instead, they tell me their stories and encouraged me that it is all possible. Injuries are common and come to everyone in some shape or form.

And the sessions have been great - they start with basic stretching and have built in exercises targeted at my weaker knee to strengthen it. They get more difficult each session to keep it up and to also increase my confidence that my knew is getting better.

I know this because I've been able to get on the bike and do great workouts and even started some basic run/walk exercises to get back into that groove.

So, I'm expressing my thanks to all the great folks at Rehab United. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sunshine biking

I wanted a good bike workout and didn't want to have to battle the roads...all those starts and stops with lights and cars etc...

But sitting indoors on a bike trainer when it was so lovely and sunny outside didn't sound appealing either....

So I thought "why not combine the best of both" and set up the bike trainer outside in the sunshine.
So I did!

I forgot the sunblock though and ended up with some nasty burns on my back. Lesson learned!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Torrey Pines Hill Repeats Versus Spinervals

Thought I'd compare the 2 Hill Climb Sessions I did this week

Spinervals DVD
I bought a DVD to do a home spin class as I can;t seem to get to my local ones at the 5pm and 6pm times they are hosted. I wasn't sure what to get, but at the store I saw these Spinerval series DVDs and one was called "climb a hill like a goat"!

Now because I'm doing the 70.3 Wildflower course in April, and there is a Nasty Grade hill to accomplish, I thought that this DVD sounded like a great one for training. And 45 minutes was perfect for a mid-week workout after work.

Definitely a bit cheesy, with dodgy music, and not really as dynamic a teacher as a spin class. But that stuff didn't really matter when I did the workout. It was great! I definitely feel this is great training for the bike and am looking forward to continuing on this one.

Torrey Pines Hill Repeats
Today I did a 40 mile bike ride from my house to Torrey Pines and then did 3 hill repeats. There are 2 hills that you can climb and I did both the steeper but shorter grade hill (0.5 mile steep climb) as well as the more shallow but constant grind hill (1.6 miles).
Definitely great training!

I liked being out in the real world, you can stare at other people, the nature like the beautiful ocean. You can also really feel the hills (versus the DVD practice feels hard but still on a flat surface). It also seems to allow me to practice techniques more easily such as pushing down on my heels to use more calf muscle and also to do pull ups with my legs.


Crunched on Time or Dark Outside? Go for Spinervals DVD
Practice Technique and Get Fresh Air and Ocean Views? Go for the Torrey Pines Hills

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The 12 week report card

So it's been over 12 weeks since starting the official training this year and I've been writing down the workouts on a little piece of paper. Thought I'd tally these up to see the progress made as well as understand what's been working well and what to adjust...

Hours & Miles

In 12 weeks, there has been 94 hours of actual training, which does not include all that extra time to drive to the swimming pool, get the gear set up, drag myself out of bed in the morning....just the actual exercise time.

The 94 hours is 7.8 hours per week or 1.1 hours per day.
Seems reasonable when I consider it that way. Looking at the distribution each week there seems to be a variation of time...which I'm ok with as it matches a plan that you build-build-build and then have a recovery week. I'm not sure I've been as intentional as I could be on that one, so something to consider in the summer training plan for the full Arizona IronMan.

469 miles over 12 weeks is 39 miles per week. 
I'm not sure how to judge this as a standalone measure. One one hand I think...as I'm training for a 70.3 triathlon, then I am getting good mileage in, but need to ensure I've had a few weeks of higher mileage to ensure I have trained my body to cover this distance.
Looking at the variation alone does not help...so I have broken it down into the number of exercises by key type. Biking is the key sport that drives up mileage, so in those weeks when the mileage is lower, that does not mean there was not quality workouts, there were simply focused towards other key sports.

However, I can see the injury from my knee after the Half Marathon caused my mileage to go down (to the measly 1 mile in week 11) whilst I adjusted for injury.

Sport Discipline Breakdown

Notes or what I included in each bucket:
Swim - Master swim class, personal swim practice
Bike - Road Bike rides, Spin Classes, Home Trainer Sessions
Run - Road Run, Gym Treadmill run, Elliptical, Aqua Jogging
Strength - Pilates, Yoga, Weights, Physical Therapy Sessions

Looking at the 12 weeks my biggest ah-ha moment is the low number of bike sessions. I remember hearing many people at IronMan Arizona talk about the bike being their key training element. They forsake the other sports for the bike rides because it was so great for building strength and endurance in the legs that could carry over to the run. And that the majority of the triathlon race is on the bike, so the need to focus there.

I have not spent enough time or sessions on the bike. I bought a home trainer to build this into my schedule better, meaning I don't have to ride the bike on the road at 8pm at night and can fit in shorter form building sessions during the week and not just do a long weekend endurance ride.

I've spent more time on strength in recent weeks, due to the knee injury, but actually now realize how important it is and how I see my body being stronger because of it. Focusing on core, weights and arm bands for arm strength, pilates for flexibility, and leg/knee strength and stability exercises as improved my fatigue levels in the other sports because I have more muscle to use.

Swimming needs to continue to ensure I can complete the distance in a reasonable time and because it is a good overall fitness builder, but trying to get 10 minutes faster is not going to help my overall time versus time on the bike.

Running, hmm not really sure right now on this one. I'm not a strong runner and the distances are long so need to keep working on endurance and form. But how much can I compensate strength and biking to carry me through a run? I don't want to stress it out and will continue with the aqua jogging for form, but not sure I'll get many long distance runs in before the 2 upcoming races...

Upcoming Races
March 27th   SuperSeal Olympic Triathlon
April 30th     Wildflower Long Course 70.3 miles Triathlon

Report Card Score "B"
I think I give myself a B. It's my first training plan, been focused and have been tracking my progress. But see some good key adjustments that will help me in the next 6 weeks for my early races.