Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taper Tantrums... Amica 70.3 Race Week

The Amica 70.3 Half Ironman is just a few days away.  I'm happy to say that I'm excited and eager to get to the starting line.  The beginning of 2011 has been a challenging year of fighting through injuries and issues and I think I need to take a quick moment to just be thankfull I can toe the starting line at all.  I may not be 100% yet, but I'm close enough to be able to race and for that I'm very glad.  So lets take a look at the race and at my prep.


I'm happy to say that work has been rather slow lately so I've been home a lot.  The plus side of this is I put in a really nice five week build up to this race before I started the taper.  During this time I was able to build my long run up to one final 13 miler before tapering, get multiple 50-60 mile rides in, some very challenging hill workouts in and plenty of over-distance swim work including swims up to 2 miles long.  I wish I'd had a larger base to build off of before putting in this block but my work schedule and the injury really complicated maters.  So I don't feel quite as prepared as I did for the FIRM last year, but I feel pretty good.  I'd feel better if my leg felt 100% but I've had some nice glimpses of my speed returning during some of my runs so thats been good.  I've put in some 14-15 hour training weeks lately and I decided that I would give this race a nice taper on the leadin to go in as fresh as possible.

Gear wise I've also made some good decisions and I've armed myself for the 2011 season with a no excuses setup.  I've got an amazing bike, great wheelset, new tires, power meter, aero helmet, my favorite new running shoes (Zoot Ultra Tempo 4.0) and a pair of goggles I can actually see out of.  So the only limiter on race day is myself.  So lets look at race day and some predictions.


I don't talk smack much...  except in fun on the odd training session.  On race day however my goals are all personal.  Triathlon is a sport of one done against the clock.  Its sport in its purest sense if you ask me.  And so when left all by myself, here's what I think I can do...

Swim:  Still by far my weakest discipline.  I need to remember that I couldn't swim at all last April, but I still wish I was much stronger in the water.  I put a lot of time and focus on covering distance this year.  I've worked my pool swims up to the ability to swim 3500 yards straight.  I've worked my open water distnace up to the same two mile point as well all in an effort to make sure I can cover the 2.4 mile swim at B2B at the end of the year.  This is the year of the Ironman for me...  and getting that first 140.6 out of the way is the entire focus of my training.  That said, I haven't done a ton of speed work.  I know I said last season I'd work on that for this season, but the offseason had other plans for me.  So I only have modest goals for the swim this year.  I know I can complete the distance in a wetsuit or out of one.  So here are my swim goals.

Wetsuit Swim;  36-38 Minutes
Non Wetsuit Swim:  40 Minutes

T1:  The transition setup at this race is more like a full ironman with no changing tents in that you can't have anything on the ground so you have to grab a bag of your stuff and run to your bike, unpack the shoes from your bag, put them on, grab your helmet and glasses, stuff your wetsuit back into the bag and then get out on the bike.  This could take a bit...   I plan on practicing this today to get it down.  I'd love to leave my shoes clipped to the bike but the geometry of the tri bike makes this move difficult for me.  I've had some success in training but I don't think I'm going to try it on race day.  The start isn't terribly flat and theres a climb almost right away.  So the terrain and layout and my lack of 100% confidence in that approach means I'm going to put my shoes on in T1.

T1:  1:30

Bike:  I've put some solid training in on the bike this year.  I wish I'd been more consistent with harder efforts and intervals but my right leg has been a limiter in that regard so I've had to dial back many of those sessions.  I've had some breakthrough workouts on the bike this year though and learned a great deal about it and me.  My position is getting pretty dialed, I'm slowly making friends with my saddle, and overall I should be happy with where I am right now.  Several weeks ago I did a 4 x laps of the very hilly time trial course.  The first time I did this workout it really hurt and my times faded with every lap despite me trying to keep them even.  However a week later I did it again and felt much much better.  I've also put a lot of time in on the Amica course riding the rolling hills.  Its a very challenging course and I honestly have no idea how I'm going to do on race day.  My plan is to shoot for a 170 Watt average for the course which should get me between a 19-20mph average.  I suspect I may end up with a high 18 average though.  Its all going to come down to how I feel on race day.  And for those of you comparing these guesses to your Patriot bike splits... its a VERY different course.  Much much more challenging.  I averaged 20mph riding that course on no taper.  I'll be psyched, and surprised if I can manage a 20 average on the Amica course.

Bike Split:  2:48:00 - 3:00:00

T2:  This one should be a bit more straight forward.  Ditch the bike and helmet, grab my run bag, socks, hat, shoes, garmin on and go.

T2 1:30

Run:  Now this one is going to be interesting.  My speed has been coming back lately and I've had some great runs off the bike lately.  Since keeping a closer eye on my cadence and keeping it nice and high my leg speed is coming back on the run off the bike.  I've had some nice 7-7:30 miles off the bike lately.  Not as fast as last year, but getting there.  So there is an OUTSIDE chance I'll manage a 7:30 average on the run.  However I HIGHLY doubt it.  I just don't have the run fitness and base right now to pull that off.  But you never know...   I might surprise myself so I won't rule it out.  7:30s just feel much harder this year than they did last year.  Then when you add in the heat of race day (high of 85 degrees and sunny currently!) and how heavily heat can affect me when running I think my speed will be much less.  I'm going to run as fast as I can for as long as I can and keep re-evaluating how I feel along the course.  I need to be able to RUN the entire 13 miles, not injure myself, and get it done!  If I come off the bike feeling great and going fast I'm going to do my damndest to get a PR or as close to my 5:14 PR as I can.  However I'm a realist and I suspect I'm going to settle into an 8:30 average as thats felt pretty comfy lately and so in the heat after the bike I'm fairly certain this is where I'll land.  So...  onto the predictions.

Run:  1:38:00-1:51:00

So whats that total to?

Absolute AMAZING day best case scenario (possible, but a long shot!) 5:06:00

Realistic Goal that I think is doable:  5:30:00

Long Range Goal:  Enjoy the Day, come out of it STRONG, INJURY FREE!, and happy to cross a finish line.

No matter what happens I'll run up the chute with my head up high and a giant smile on my face!  I'm very happy to know that so many fellow Tri-NE club members are volunteering in the finish chute and again I'm so very thankfull to be toeing the starting line again.  I think I'll only be dissapointed if I don't go sub 6.  Its going to be a very very hot day and who knows what can happen out on that course.  The run is really going to be the deciding factor.  I can't wait to get out there and test myself.  Its going to be a great day!

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