Sunday, August 22, 2010

Great Weekend!

Sometimes living in Providence means I forget what a beautifull place Rhode Island is.  The above photo was taken at 6AM when I arrived in Narragansett on Saturday morning to get ready for my big day of training.  As well as all the obvious perks of getting involved in triathlon some of the ones you don't think about are all the additional time you get to spend outdoors in beautifull places.  I've seen more sunrises this year as I've ramped my training up than I have in the last 20 years combined.  Each one a gift and a reminder of how lucky I am to live in such a beautifull place.

I arrived in Narragansett on Saturday morning for a very big and important day of training for me.  This weekend marks the peak of the intensity of my training combined with distances I plan to cover.  Yesterday was the largest brick at highest planned pace for me.  I have been looking forward to it as well as planning for it in terms of nutrition and execution for quite some time.  My goal was to have this day be a test of my pre race plan, nutrition, pacing, and everything else involved in race day.  Here's how the day went.

I got to the beach at 6am and prepped my bike and run items and then locked them in the car and headed down to the beach to meet up with everyone.  In the end I think about six of us showed up for the swim.  Our plan was to swim for as long as we thought we could get away with and still be ready to leave for the ride at 7:30.  The ocean was just perfect for the swim.  Just a few small waves and gentle swells, perfect temperature for a wetsuit to feel super comfy but not hot, and gorgeous 65 degree temperature.  In the end we just swam laps between two buoys until about 7:05 and then swam into shore.  In the end we swam just under a mile at a nice relaxed pace.  From there we headed to the cars to grab our bikes.  I had inflated my tires and prepped all my nutrition so all I had to do was take my bike out of the car and put the bottles on it and I was ready to go.  However my front tire decided to flat while I was swimming.  So I frantically had to change the tube.  Of course its a brand new tire so it doesn't want to come off the rim, and the wheels are brand new carbon ones so I was super afraid or cracking them with the tire levers.  Eventually I was able to persuade the tire to come off and I was able to swap the tube out.  Of course now I have to get the tire back on.  At this point people are starting to line up and look ready.  Uh oh!  To cut a long story short after much effort I finally got the tire back on without hurting the wheel and was able to get it back on the bike and be ready with about a minute to spare.  I did of course manage to slice my thumb open and bleed everywhere in the process.

In the end there were about 18 of us on the ride which was fanatastic to have such a turnout for a training day.  We stayed together as a pack for the first five miles of the initial loop that heads through Narragansett to Route 1.  We got all kinds of looks as this parade of triathletes in spandex on tri bikes headed off down past the beach.  However as soon as we hit Route 1 all bets were off and the pack quickly split up where you think it would.  I stuck with my race plan and as much as I wanted to tear off with some of the faster boys to see if I could hang with them I let them go.  From what I heard afterwards the fast boys split into about 2 or 3 packs, then my group of three riders, and then a bunch of groups behind us.  Once we settled into Route 1 my group established itself as myself, Norrine, and Joe.  The three of us had a nice time leapfrogging each other.  We were all out for a serious effort so we avoided drafting and just kept pushing each other by leapfrogging and passing each other.  However we all weren't out to destroy ourselves so we kept the effort to a nice steady pace.

The first 15 miles were pretty uneventfull and then we took the turn into the KFR technical loop and it got a bit more interesting.  The KFR section is the only hilly, curvy part of the course that takes any real skill or bike handling to get through.  Its fairly technical in some spots, but the hills are all small.  Even the very steep one is also really short.  We stopped for a quick bathroom break once into KFR where I managed to instantly get bit by a mosquito which left a HUGE welt on my shoulder.  And then headed off again.  We wound our way through that section with a brief stop to decide whether the map was correct or not.  Turns out the map on the website isn't entirely accurate apparently.  We rode through the rest of the KFR section at a nice easy pace.  The hills are so short theres no need to rush up them as your only saving seconds and gaining pain on the run.  So I kept to my race plan to pace myself carefully through this section.  On the way out of KFR I felt a sharp pain as something went through a vent on my helmet and smacked me in the forehead.  Then I felt a REALLY sharp pain and fluttering and buzzing and frantically yelled out "STOPPING!" and pulled over, unclipped and frantically threw my helmet off and swatted at my head.  Yep...  I got stung by a bee that flew into my helmet.  It fricking hurt!  So I had the pleasure of feeling the discomfort of a bee sting for the rest of the day.  Awesome!

From there its due south on good ol boring route 1 to the turnaround.  At the tunaround I asked Joe and Norrine if they knew the course for the way back which they did and then told them my plan to really hammer the way back.  This was not their plan so I went all out on the way back which is a faster route than the way in.  I doubt I beat them back by much but we had established a pattern of waiting for each other at traffic lights or other obstacles we couldn't get around as a group and I didn't want to try and take off without telling them.  So I took off on my way back and did my very best to really pick it up.  I came upon Ben who is a duathlete and very fast cyclist on the road.  We started riding and chatting together.  Then it occured to me... how is it humanly possible I'm keeping up with Ben?  turns out today was a training ride for him at a more relaxed pace.  Its just his "relaxed pace" is my "race pace".  I had a pretty good chuckle about that one.  But the time we spent riding side by side and chatting as I was doing my best to hammer my way back was nice and helped make the time go by.

Speaking of time...    when I got stung by the bee I stopped my computer on my bike.  I then forgot to restart it till much later in the ride so I don't have accurate data on the entire ride.  In fact I know I rode the entire 56 mile course but I only recorded about 40 miles of it on my garmin.  Damn!  I hate when I do that.  But my average speed for the ride was 19mph which was right at my planned speed which was perfect.  I wanted to go hard on the bike, but not so hard as to not have a very strong run.

I pulled into Narragansett at the start point having consumed almost all three bottles of my water, all three gels, and one cliff bar.  Perfect!  I was right on target with my nutrition.  (more on that later).  I went through the car transition as fast as I could and headed out for the run.  As usual my nice and fast bike cadence (96 average on the ride) led to a fast run and I was headed out of transition running 7'20s.  My plan was to run 8 miles.  A challenging enough length to really see what pace I can expect to hold on race day, but not too long a brick to require too much recovery time.  In the end I averaged 7'30s for the 8 miler which I was very pleased about.  I felt really strong on the run.  Actually too strong I think.  I need to dial up my bike speed a notch as I think I was too conservative.  Perhaps if I just pick up my pace on the earlier flats on the course that will cover it.  So that will be my plan on my next ride of the course.  I think I can manage a 19.5mph-20mph average without hurting my run.  So we'll see.  Hopefully the taper will add some speed back into my legs too. 

When I finished my run there was a good sized pack of Tri-NE'rs sitting on the wall near the cars.  Most of the faster folks were there as were others that didn't do the run, ran 3-6 miles, or people training for the aqua-bike.  We hung out there for a bit refueled a bit and then headed off.  A few of us ended up spending a little time together afterwards and I got a chance to chat nutrition with many of them.  After that conversation, as well as another conversation I had today with an experienced triathlete I've decided that I'm too worried about calories, and the amount of calories that I need based on what OTHER people need, and not on my own needs.  I've been training with an intake of 250 calories per hour with good results.  Somehow last week I decided that wasn't enough and added the cliff bar into my routine to try and up my calories/hour quickly.  Turns out that was a bad idea.  Its not a productive source of quick to burn fuel, and solid food is a bad idea, and the only reason I added it in was because I read and think too much.  I know that 250 calories/hour is plenty for me.  I'm only 138lbs.  I don't need a ton of calories to keep going.  So I'm going to dial it back to 250 with some extra GUs on board should I feel the need for more and we'll see what happens on my next ride.  I suspect I'll feel great like I usually do.  So my current nutrition plan is now...

1 bottle gatorade 150 calories sipped over entire prep time
3 Bottles of Gatorade Endurance 150 Calories
3 GUs 100 calories
(I'll have two more GUs with me and will consume if needed/wanted)
I will take on additional water at aid stations if needed.
40oz of Gatorade in fuel belt
2 GUs in fuel belt
Water at aid stations

So thats the plan.  Plenty of calories.  I just started to overthink things there.  So thanks to all of those that were willing to listen and help me figure it all out.  Much appreciated.

I was really really pleased with how yesterday went.  That was a fantastic workout.  I felt tired, but yet energized at the same time afterwards.  I had more energy left and I could have run another five miles if I had to.  That brick left me feeling really confident that I know I can do this and that I'm really going to rock this thing.  I've got a shot at sub 5:30 even with a good day, but I need to put that out of my mind and just focus on having a solid race and ignore my time till I'm halfway through the run.  Then I'll be allowed to start thinking about it.  Until then I need to just execute what I know I've done in training.

After all that and then spending some time with a close friend of mine last night catching up I finally managed to get to bed around 10pm exhausted after getting up at 4am.


and then I got right back up at 4am to head back down to Narragansett again....

This morning I met up with Kevan and Kate and we headed down to the "Embrace the Race" all women's triathlon in Narragansett.  Kate was racing and Kevan and I along with many members of my tri club were volunteering and then planning on running the 13 mile FIRM course afterwards.

I ended up directing traffic along the run route.  I had a good time cheering on the Tri-NE'rs as they ran by in their easy to spot club tri tops as well as generally encouraging everyone.  Lots of beginners were out today for their first triathlon in this very short sprint.  (1/8? 1/4? mile swim, 9 mile bike, 3 mile run).  I had a good chuckle at some of the things I saw on the course today along the way.  Backwards bike helmets, bikes with big flowered baskets on the front and all sorts of other silliness.  But congrats to all who raced, especially the first timers!  I'm happy to say I know at least three club members who placed in their age groups/categories.  So congrats to Michelle, Leslie, and Kate!  Nice work and way to do the team proud!  It was also great to see so many other club members (I counted at least 7 of us) out there volunteering and supporting the local tris.

As I was standing there out on the run course it of course decides to start raining.  Which I was not prepared for.  So theres me standing there in my pink cotton volunteer tshirt directing traffic and shivering in the cold rain.  Not fun!  Eventually the last runner passed me and I was able to walk back to the finish area.  Once we got there the rain started to pick up.  We checked the weather radar and thunderstorms looked like they might be on the way as well.  So we as a group decided to go to breakfast instead of run.  We also invited all of the other club members and family members to join us.  In the end I think there were about 20 of us!  So we all headed out for a great big breakfast.  In the end that was the best idea as it started to absolutely downpour.  I love to run in the rain, but that would not have been fun!

So in the end I did not get my long run in today.  I was going to do it later this afternoon but then I got an offer to run it tomorrow morning with a friend of mine instead so I'm going to take today as my off day instead and do the run tomorrow. 

Next up....

Long run tomorrow, swim and bike on Tuesday and then its off to North Carolina for a week for work for my last trip between now and the FIRM half.  I get back on Monday night so I'm going to juggle my schedule a bit to look like this...

Monday Long Run
Tuesday Swim / 2 Hour Bike w/ Intervals, fly to NC
Wed Run Fartlek 6 miler
Thursday Bike 1 Hour in hotel gym, simulated hill workout
Friday Pool Swim
Saturday Yoga or Off as this is a brutally long workday for me with little free time
Sunday Run 14 Miles
Monday off / fly home (not thrilled about a day off here, but don't have much choice)
Tuesday Bike Firm Course at Race Pace (last hard effort on course) / Run 3
And then my taper officially begins...   I'm almost there!

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