Friday, June 17, 2011

Time to Pull The Trigger?

I've been quiet lately.  This time not because I have not been able to update, but because I'm not sure what my update will be.  Theres been a lot of uncertainty as to my level of fitness and when I'll be ready to start racing this summer.  So I've almost been afraid to write anything about it.  But I think its time for an update.  So we'll break it down into the usual S/B/R categories.

Swim:  My swim fitness has been in a constant state of flux lately.  I have some weeks where I've been pouring on the yardage in the pool, and others where I've spent some frustrating time in open water in ocean chop not getting very far.  I've had a couple of decent swims in the pond though in calmer waters, and a nice but freezing cold 1.3 mile swim in a gorgeously calm ocean a couple of days ago.  My average pace per 100/yds in open water has increased slightly to 1:45/100 (during the 1.3 mile swim) so that was good.  Still not where it should be eventually but not bad.  Its been too cold here lately to do a 1.2 mile no wetsuit swim in open water but I've done a couple of those in the pool and although they've been slow, I've been able to get through them no problem.  I am definitely nervous what that will be like on raceday though if I have to do the Amica without a wetsuit.  Mostly I'm just nervous that not having that safetly blanket will elevate my heartrate.  I know I can do the distance, it just may not be as fun. 

Yesterday I went out to swim at a local beach here and it was quite choppy out.  We got slapped around pretty good by the ocean.  It was the kind of chop that just picks you up enough in the water to drop you awkwardly and I ended up with several mouthfulls of ocean water from breathing at the wrong time.  I did ok, but I ended up calling it quites after just over a half mile as my fun tank was full and I was ready to call it a day.  Still...   it was an improvement over the last time I swam in a chop a couple of weeks before that where I gave up very early.  So I'm confident I'll get my "sea legs" back in short order and be up to longer swims in the chop.  I'm looking forward to doing the 1.7 mile 1st to 2nd beach swim this summer as my weekly long swim so I need to get up to speed on longer distances in rougher water.

In summary...   not thrilled with my swim right now, but it could be worse.  Again...  consistency is key!

Bike:  My bike has been coming along.  Mostly I've just focused on getting my bike fitness back and building a nice base.  I know that if I race the Amica that I won't be fast, but I know I can put in a good effort now.  My power is every so slowly coming back and thats promising and in previous weeks I've had some interval goals that I wasn't able to meet (falling short of number of planned repeats) but lately I've been doing quite well in that regard so thats good.  I've been getting in a 56 mile ride every weekend and at least two other 30 mile rides a week typically so thats been good.  I just need to pick up my level of effort on those rides.  Having the power meter has been great as it keeps you honest and shows you exactly how your fitness is progressing.

Yesterday I had a bit of a "breakthrough" workout on the bike.  I've noticed when looking at the data that my bike cadence on my tri bike has been getting lower and lower.  I've been averaging around 75-80 lately and thats just not my style of riding.  So yesterday I decided to do my very best to pedal at a cadence of 90 and try and hit the same power targets.  Results were promising.  I felt like I was hitting the same power numbers at a tiny bit lesser effort.  And I know I'll run faster off the bike with a higher cadence.  So keeping an eye on that is going to be a habit going forwards.  Currently I now just stare at three numbers on my bike computer.  Power (3 second average), Cadence, and Speed.  I don't really need the speed but I like adjust my climbing style (in aero or not) based on my speed and it lets me see the relationship between speed, cadence, and power.  All good stuff.  I felt like I started to learn things yesterday on my ride and that was great.  So hopefully quality workouts like that continue.  I'm developing a somewhat informal interval style workout and route here on the island.  I start with a warmup ride through town to get to ocean drive thats about three miles long.  Then a nice steady effort of around 80-90% FTP for an out and back on the ocean drive, then another few miles easy till I get from ocean drive to 2nd beach which includes a fun 38mph downhill that I then hammer as fast as I can down past the beach and try and keep that speed through the flat as long as I can which turns into a nice 1 minute interval.  Then once I'm at second beach its another pair of intervals (about 2-3 minutes each) out to the point and back, and then another steady effort out to the end of Indian avenue, quick rest at the turnound, and then hammer back to the point, one more interval from there to the hill at 2nd beach and then easy pedal the few miles home.  While not a strict interval session its got a lot of concentrated hard efforts.  And repeating the same course is teaching my about my bike, how and when to shift, corner etc..etc...   so its been great and I'm enjoying it.  Theres also a lot of challenging cross winds riding near the ocean and thats been good for me too.  Sometimes the headwinds are brutal and you can hit huge power numbers at slow speeds on the flats.  Its pretty funny stuff.  So yeah...   I'm pretty happy with where my bike is.  I need to do more hill work in preparation for the Amica and Timberman but I'm working on that.  I also need to start some overdistance work and building my long rides up to get ready for B2B.

Run:  Well heres the tough one.  I've been running on the roads for a few weeks now.  I've built my weekly mileage up to 17 miles and my long run up to 9 miles in an effort to feel like I can run 13 at the Amica.  I need to be really patient here.  My right leg is still not perfect.  All the docs say go ahead and run on it, but its not the same.  I still have no speed and I'm having to work very hard to get my run endurance back to where it was.  If I stop paying attention I fall into 9-9:30 min miles.  Last year on shorter runs I'd land at 7:45s to 8s when I wasnt paying attention.  My hill speed is a joke and whatever is wrong with my right leg is causing me to shorten my stride and slow down my cadence.  So running has been frustrating as I miss my old legs.

A couple of days ago on my 9 mile run I did learn some things though.  I figured out that my right leg has a very short stride and when I tried to lengthen it I felt resistance in that glute/hamstring area.  (despite the doc telling me my left leg is now tighter than my right after all the focused stretching work I've done on the right leg).  So I feel discomfort when I lengthen that stride.  However it seemed to loosen after a mile or two of focusing on lengthening my stride.  This also got my pace down to 8:30s.  So that was promising.  So from now on I'm going to focus on lengthening my stride all the time and see what happens.  My hope is to run the hilly 13.1 at the Amica in sub 2.  Not a lofty goal, and nowhere near my 1/2 iron PR of 1:36.  But its a start.  I really think this year is going to be  a write off as far as running goes.  My plan is just to try and get back into form for next year and work on my endurance to get ready for B2B.  The speed will have to come again later.  I just hope it comes back at some point.

Today Im going to run a 5K that the girl's work is putting together.  The alpha male part of me wants to be the stud that shows up and beats all her coworkers.  Part of me wonders how fast my stand alone 5K will be.  (last year was the first year I really ran much in the way of 5Ks and all of those were as part of sprint tri's)  I know I can go 19:XX in a sprint, but what can I do in a standalone 5K?  Well I'm certainly not going to find out today!  The girl asked me to pace her to a 23-24 5K and I don't think I can do that.  I haven't been able to run sub 8 yet and I am afraid to try for fear of injuring myself.  Its just too soon.  So I'm pretty sure the girl is going to beat me today.  Although she mentioned something about running with some friends of hers so we may take a more relaxed pace and just enjoy the run.  We'll see.  Either way I need to try and enjoy it and not let it get to me.  My competitive spirit can be pretty fierce sometimes.

For now I have to just be happy I'm running again.  And on the plus side I have three new pairs of Zoot running shoes sitting behind me to try and decide which ones I want to keep.  I ordered their lightweight racing flat, a lighweight mid distance flat, and a training shoe to try and see which I liked.  Jury is still out but I have only run up and down the hall in them so far.  I have to keep them clean enough that I can return the ones I don't want.

Racing:  So although I have not registered yet, I am thinking that I will be able to race the Amica 70.3 coming up in a few weeks.  I've put some 1.2/56/3.5 bricks together that were encouraging so I know my fitness to be able to cover the distance comfortably is there.  So it will be a good time to test out my new liquid based nutrition plan and see what happens.  Plus I love the though of racing in my old home town.  Despite the fact that I rode the course a week ago and the road conditions in the last ten miles are absolutely atrocious.  Its also quite a challening course with tons of rollers in it.  Should be good fun.  So thats still the hope.  I am however still shy about pulling the trigger on registering.  I think one more week and two more big giant bricks and I'll decide.  I have time as I'm only planning on a one week taper as this isn't an A race and I need to train right through it.

So theres the update...   

I'll leave you with one other piece of wisdom...

When you live in a 4 bike household (between me and the girl) don't decide that cleaning and lubing all four bikes on the same day is a good idea.  Took me four hours which is mind numbingly dull!!!!

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