Sunday, February 22, 2009


The week is over (exhale). I put in a total of 15 hours, with one day completely off, where my previous maximum was 11.5, done several times. I like to throw in big weeks every now and then, but no more frequent than one every 2 months or so. I'm afraid I'd be asking for an injury to do it more often. As Kurt P. would say, I broke down some barriers. I did 15,700 yds in the pool, which I did a couple of times back in December when I didn't have the bike and run volume I have now. Five hours on the bike, up from a previous high of 4.25, done last week. Other than that, my max had been 3.5 hrs. Today in my long ride I targeted a big 20 minute effort, shooting for 275 watts. That would be my best ever. I ended up averaging 285 watts, and because of that, allowed myself to shorten the ride to 1:45 from an intended 2:00. I ran 30 miles, up from a previous max of 23, done 3 times before. The pace was all fairly manageable, with very little faster than an 8:00. For next week, I need to scale it back to no more than 10 hours. After that, I'll start to gradually introduce some running intensity.

Several times this week I encountered walls that I needed to break through. We all hit these walls. What makes us overcome them and keep going? We all have different reasons and rationales, but they all likely revolve around our own season's goals. I'm struggling with my main goal, or better said, my measuring stick that I'll use at the end of the year to measure success. A bit of history.....

I went to USAT Nationals last year. I thought there was an outside chance I could qualify for the National Team. I needed to place in the top 20 in my AG to be eligible for the rolldown (they took 16), thinking it would take better than a 2:10 to make it. A fair to poor swim, great bike, and super hilly run later, I finished in just over 2:10. When I saw my initial place was 20th, I was on top of the world. Book the flight to Australia! Then I learned that because Worlds are the following year, they drop the current 44 year olds (2) and bring in the 39 year olds (5) to determine the placings. That put me at 23rd, 45 seconds out of 20th, and I was bummed.

In an email to my Tufts swimming coach, Don Megerle (the greatest ever), I said it was hard to be pleased with the result, even though I know I had a good race, because I defined success as making the team. However, I realized that I can't control how fast other people go. In swimming, I could place last, and if I had a career time, I would be satisfied. Triathlon, on the other hand is much harder to quantify results. Results are typically interpreted in terms of 1) placing relative to others that you've competed against before, 2) the run split, and 3) Powertap data. At Nationals, my Powertap data was good. My run split wasn't (42:00 vs. a desired sub-40), but it was incredible hilly. And I only knew one other guy, and I beat him by a satisfying 2:00.

So logically, I should have been satisfied. But I wasn't and I still am not. That is what drives me to overcome the training barriers that get in my way.

Looking forward, Nationals are in Alabama in August. Moving the site from Oregon to Alabama will cause the mix of competitors to change significantly. This will make any sort of prediction harder to make. I can't control who shows up, or how fast they go. So what goals can I set that I can emotionally buy in to?

In my heart, it's to make the team. It's to wear USA on my chest at the World Championships. Logically (if the competition is identical, which it won't be), I should have a better shot than last year for several reasons: 1) Alabama in August likely means no wetsuits, which should give me more than a one minute relative advantage, 2) my biking is at least 10% stronger, 3) I'll put in many more running miles than last year (I didn't go over 30 miles until late June), and 4) it's a much flatter course. The one potential negative is that Alabama + August = Heat, which is hard to train for.

That's enough for today. On to next week and more yards, hours and miles.

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