Sunday, April 27, 2008

Presque Isle TT, a new PB.

Today was the spring time trials at Presque Isle state park in Erie PA. The race is a flat 12.5 mile time trial on Presque Isle Peninsula. Shannon, Zack and I got up early this morning to head out to the race. Got there about an hour before and took our time getting ready and warming up. It was Zack's first race ever and Shannon was there to take our pictures and cheer us on.

I had only been focusing more on the bike the last few weeks, and haven't really done any speed work and or many intervals other than strength progression sets on the trainer. So I felt good, but I didn't know if I would be able to beat last spring's time when I had been working more on the bike in the spring. My goal was sub 30 minutes, or avg of 25mph.

I always get a kick out of how serious the roadies are in these races. Yeah, every second counts but some people are going out at barely over 20mph with skinsuits and shoe covers on looking like tour riders! I was going to rock it triathlon style with a singlet, tri-shorts and my funny one-strap tri shoes. I even considered starting with my feet on top of my shoes and pretending I was taking off out of T-1 but didn't, and because it was cold out I skipped the singlet and used a simple UnderArmour long sleeved top.

One great thing about short TT's is that you get to strip your bike to it's essentials. In IronMan training you spend so many hours on the bike working on pacing and fueling and your bike is often laiden with 2 or more water bottles to keep you going for 6 hr rides. Add in a seat bag for spare tubes, tools and CO2 and it's like your taking a Ferrari out for a family vacation. With a short TT it's the bike, race wheels and that's it. No water bottles, no tools/spares, nothing but your bike and you. Pure speed, hopefully.

I was #159 out of 185, so I was starting near the end. The finish line is just across a wooded strip from the start line, so many people were roaring across the finish as we got ready to start. Started out good and found my legs right away and settled in. Here I am holding perfect form just about 200 yards from the start :)

The first 5-6 miles are traditionally downwind or with no wind. It's only after you make a big sweeping turn and get on the road closer to Lake Erie that you start to catch any wind. This rang true today and the first 5-6 miles were all at 26-27 miles per hour. It's a cool feeling to look at your bike computer and see 26.5 mph and to see the indicator with a down arrow indicating you are going slower than your avg speed for the ride. Made the turn and of course there was the wind as we got closer to the lake. I continued passing riders (never got passed) and was struggling to hold 24-25 mph for miles 7-10. Once I hit mile 10 put my head down and gave it everything I could to keep the momentum up to the finish. All the while I never had my bike computer showing anything but speed and distance. I knew my speed was going to be better than my past personal best of just over 25mph average wich resulted in a time of 29:58 last year, but I had no idea by how much.

Saw the finish line with about 1/2 mile or less to go and kept the speed at about 27+ for the last 1/2 mile. Crossed the line and hit my computer and saw 29:02 for an average of 25.83mph. Almost a 1 minute PB! I have no idea what my HR was as I didn't wear my monitor, but I know it was definitely an all out effort. Given that I have done little or no training for a race of this type I was thrilled with the result and came in 20th overall out of 180+ riders. Here's a good pic of the finish. I've noticed from coach John's web page pictures that you have to make 'angry face' to go fast. I was doing my best JH angry face impression here at about 200 yards to the finish.

Definitely a good result for all the more biking I've put in. Plus through all the IM training sometimes it's just fun to throw all the pacing and strategy out the window and just go ride fast!

Zack also had a good day and despite not doing much riding all spring other than trips around the block rode a respectable 41 minutes for the ride. He defintely had fun and will be back for more racing in the future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kinetic Half Race Report

Headed to Lake Anna VA early Friday morning for the Kinetic Half Iron race on Saturday. Drive was not too bad, and I was meeting my coach and another CREW member, Joe, there Friday afternoon.

Got to the race expo about 2:30 after stopping off by the cabin John had rented us for the weekend. Some cabin, this thing was a beautiful house in the woods. Private drive, rustic looking but brand new house, path to the lake and so on. Yeah, this is going to be roughing it!Heard from John and Joe that they were running late. I hung out at registration. Took the bike out for a 10 minute spin, then decided to test the water. Last year apparently the water was so cold they shortened the swim. It was a nice surprise then to see the water was up to the low 60's and felt perfect for a wet suit swim. Hung out for a little while longer then John and Joe finally showed up. They registered, we did another short ride followed imediately by a short 5-10 minute run. We ran the last 1/2 mile or so of the course which was down a wooded path. Running downhill recently has been aggravating for my knee, so that had me a little worried.

Went back to the cabin, dumped off some gear and headed out to find food. Ended up driving for about 30-40 minutes then finally found a small pizza shop. Got or pizzas to go, went back to the cabin and chilled/ate then went to bed.

Slept fine, no anxiety, after all this was just to be a training race. Got up, had a bagel and peanut butter, some Gatorade and a little coffee and it was off to the race at about 6:30. This race didn't start until 8, which was awesome!

Set up transition, got ready to go with about 1/2 hour to spare then just relaxed.

SWIM TIME 31:55.
The swim started off bad. Joe and I were in the third wave, 6 minutes after the first wave, and we were just kind of standing around waiting for the countdown when all of a sudden the horn goes off. I sprinted into the water while trying to put my goggles on and dove in, getting a good lungfull of lake water right away. Not how I wanted to start. By the time I recovered and got into a rhythm the lead pack was about 20-30 feet in front of me. I tried to settle in and find some feet but I was kind of in no-where land. I hooked up with another couple of guys from our wave about 3/4 through the first lap then just staid on their feet as we began catching lapped swimmers. Got out of the water to run the beach to start lap 2 and realized in the confusion I had never started my watch. Oh well. Swam the second lap kind of on cruise control and just stayed with the other 2 swimmers from my wave. When I got out of the water I saw 37:40 on the race clock. Taking 6 minutes off for our wave I put my swim time at high 31's, about 3 minutes slower than my PB. Afterwards John commented that his swim time seemed slow too, so then I didn't feel too bad.

BIKE TIME 2:45:58.
I was supposed to take the bike easy and work on a good run. This was hard because the bike course I thought was pretty fair and I knew it could be a fast course. My plan was to ride 18 miles really easy, 20 miles a little harder but not too hard, and then take the last 18 miles really easy. That's pretty much what I did. I rode around the same 4-5 riders for the first 18 miles. Then, for the next 20 I pretty easily pulled away from them and spent the next 20 miles cruising/passing folks. I think I only got passed by a couple of people in that stretch. Then took the last 18 miles really easy. During the bike however I noticed that on any little incline if I tried to put any power down my right knee started to hurt a little. Therefore at even some of the smallest hills I just stood and spun over them as best I could without putting any strain on my knee. Finished the bike feeling pretty good and got ready for the 13.1 mile run.

Coming into T-2 you had to dismount and run down a steep little grass incline. That kind of hurt my knee so I knew I was in trouble. Took my time in T-2, got my shoes on and headed out for the run. The race director at the pre-race meeting had reminded everyone that the first mile or so was pretty much up-hill. With that in mind I took the first mile out at what I thought was a reasonable pace but not too hard. I passed a couple of runners, one guy walking already and got passed by a guy going along at a pretty good clip. All the while my right knee seemed to get more sore with each step. Came to the first mile marker at about 7:40, so I was happy that the first mile being uphill and at a reasonable pace was sub-8. I then tried to pick up the pace a little and that made the knee hurt even more. As I approached the first aid station at about 1.5 miles I decided to stop and see if stretching the knee would help, it didn't. A volunteer came over and offered me some ice for my knee, and at that time I decided to call it a day before I screwed things up with my knee and ruined my season.

Hung out at the aid station for a while then decided to hoof it back, with ice pack on the knee, to see if I could catch the race finish. Saw the lead male then a bunch of other fast looking pros/age groupers but I could not tell who was on what lap of the run and what division. John came through about 3.5 minutes down on the leader. I just missed the mens finish, but I saw a lot of people suffering on the hill as I walked down it. Afterwards got with John, told him what happened and he agreed I made the right call not to aggravate things. We hung out for a little while and caught Joe's last lap and finish (a PB for Joe too, congrats) then waited around for the awards ceremony. John got a sweatshirt for finishing second (also a PB).

Went back to our cabin, chilled out, ate the remaining pizzas then watched some bad TV.

All in all it was a decent training day, but a disappointment to not finish. Yet just two days later and my knee is already feeling much, much better, so I know I made the right call. It's definitely a fun race though, well run, good course and will be worth doing again next year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1st Tri of the year in T-minus 42hrs.

Heading to VA, Lake Anna to be specific, for the first triathlon of the year. Swimming feels a little less than where it was at this time last year, but the bike and run is way ahead. Last year I had almost no rides over 3 hrs this early in the season. In fact it was July before I hit 200 mile weeks. The last two weeks have been just under 200 miles on the bike, plus a couple of solid 3 hr rides on Saturday's followed up by 7 mile brick runs and then long (5+) hr rides on Sundays.

Plus, the run is way ahead of last year. In training for the Shamrock marathon did numerous 40+ mile weeks. Bigger than any run weeks last year and had a couple of weeks just under 50 miles. Since then run has backed down to about 30mpw, but still getting a good long run in on Wednesdays, some hills on Fridays and then the brick on the weekends. During a long run two weeks ago I 'tweaked' my right knee a little from going out too hard (7:10/mile for the first 6-7 miles of a scheduled 2 hr easy run). It was too hard too fast and too close to the marathon I ran on March 17th. The knee is about 90-95% now. It's sore/tight when sitting but once I get moving it gets much better/looser. Hopefully it does not become an issue Saturday.

Coach JH has me under strict orders this weekend. I'm to go out hard for 100-200 yards on the swim then find a group and or some fast feet and cruise the rest of the way. Then I'm supposed to take it REALLY easy on the bike. Let them pass will be my motto. For the run then I'm supposed to go out fast and get faster each loop.

Since this is the first race of the year I'm not too keen on setting goals other than to shake the rust out, but for a general guideline I'm looking at:

Swim 30-31. My personal best in a half is 28 and change, but the water is going to be cold and my swim has been down from the past year due to all the biking.

Bike 2:45. This is pretty variable as I don't know the course. Last year on a hilly course I did a 2:40 in my only half, and I feel faster/stronger on the bike right now. I think I could go 2:35 but I have my orders so I'm thinking conservatively.

Run 1:40 or less. My only two HIM runs were disasters. I have yet to break 2hrs! Yet I've done a ton or running since last year, my achilles that hurt all last year is good to go and if my knee holds up I think I'll be fine. PB in training is a 1:30:08 half marathon time, at the Shamrock my split at the half way was 1:35 something and most of my 2hr runs are at an easy 8 min/mile pace. If I can go 1:40 or so then I will be happy.

Either way, it is looking like a good weekend, should be fun.