Sunday, November 29, 2009

Next up...

Tomorrow morning I enter the next phase of my training. I'll keep bike, swim and strength time the same, but throw in another run of one hour. Total training time moves up to 8:45 per week. November was supposed to have just two runs per week, but I was able to squeeze in an extra run the last two weeks. Weekly mileage was 11, 13, 16, 17, and moves to just under 19/wk in December. This increase in mileage is partially in preparation for the Cape Midwiter 10 mile race in early February. There will be plenty of folks around me in the 1:10-1:13 area. I was struggling with my running speed until the last few runs, where I felt a little lighter (while not technically correct- I'm up about 8 lbs. in 3 months), stronger, and my base pace moved down to about 7:45. Overall in November, I put in 32.5 hours, compared to 26.5 last year.

Away from the data, I feel like I'm coming out the other side of my off-season low. It's been three months since Nationals, so it's about friggin' time. Physically, while not trying to push my limits, I do feel like I'm able to work harder each week. The nagging injuries don't nag quite as much. I'm looking forward to some long, exhausting snowshoe runs. I want to mix it up again. I want those butterflies again. Admittedly, it's a little hard to see my main competition turning in good results in road races. I know June-September is the time to perform, but still, put me next to one of these guys and I want to GO. Knowing I can't right now is tough.

Details about Worlds are starting to trickle in. That's added fuel to the training fire. My race is on 9/12/10, 286 days from now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everest, All Wet

Something weird happened today...I finished an 8,000 yd. pool workout, as scheduled, and actually enjoyed it. That's just wrong.

Let's put this in perspective. First, I am a sprinter in the pool at heart. I went 49 in the 100 in college, and still went 53 last winter. But a 200? Forget it. A 500? Pathetic. Back in 2002 at New Englands, I went out in 3:03 and finished in 5:19. It isn't supposed to be done that way. You should have seen that piano fall from the ceiling. I have always believed, and will continue to believe, that quality is far more important than quantity. As one wise man once said, "if you practice swimming'll get good at it." I learned to teach my body what it felt like to swim FAST. For example, we trained with fins doing all-out 25s from a dive. With stretch cords, we would work returning from the far end just as much as getting there in the first place.

Since Nationals in August, I haven't done more than one ride per week, and never more than 22 miles or so. Running has been better, but I'm still only doing 2 runs/wk for about 12 miles (I'll add a third run starting next week). Swimming, on the other hand, has been going very well. I've been in 4 days/wk, for a total of about 12,000+ yds. And the intensity has been there. I am putting in times- and repeats- that I haven't done in practice in a long time. I'm also using paddles once per week, which has made a huge difference- until I did 19x100 on 1:20 with them last week. My left shoulder has felt a bit screwed up ever since. So I came to today a bit concerned that I might do further damage.

The noon group started a campaign a while back. Every Wednesday we alternated between all 100s and something else. Week 1 was 30x100, week 2 3,000 mixed, week 3 40x100, etc. I made it to the 50x100 and 5,000 mixed, but the last 5 weeks I've bailed early because I didn't want to put in junk yards, and frankly, I found it terribly boring. I typically got out around 4,000.

So today was the finale, 8,000 yards. Work was slow, I felt pretty good, ate a little more for breakfast, worked on hydrating and salt while at the office, and opened up to the idea that I might finish the whole thing. Here's the workout:

4 x (400, 300, 200 ,100)- First time through on 1:30/100, then 1:25, 1:20 and 1:20.
16 x 125 on 1:50, descend 1-8, ascend 9-16
4 x (1x100 on 1:20, 2x75 on 1:15, 3x50 on 40, 4x25 on 25)

My lane set up a great rotation in the first set so we shared the lead and also got lots of incredible drafting. The first 2,000 took zero effort. It was like sledding downhill. Even the next 2,000 was only harder when leading. That entire set was devoid of thought. I just turned the brain off, stayed in line, and took it easy. I knew I would need to if I wanted any hope of finishing.

It was around 3,000 when a few others started dropping of the pace a bit. And at 3,800, the calf cramps started. I hate calf cramps, and get them in most harder or longer workouts. Good push offs are impossible, and I end up swimming with at least one foot completely flexed so my toes are pointing up until I reach the wall. Not fast. The cramps continued to get worse for the rest of the workout. By some miracle, I never had to stop. I also swam fairly well the entire time, and stayed mentally engaged in the effort the whole way. I never got bored.

Somewhere near the end, I began thinking about how far 8,000 yards really is. I know Mt. Everest is 8,000+ meters, but at the time, I figured I had swum almost as far as Everest is above sea level. That's pretty cool. Grant me a little leeway on this one.

Anyway, it feels great to have finished this. And it's fine if I don't do something this stupid again in a while.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Planning 2010

Planning for 2010 started on 8/22/09 when I qualified for the ITU Age Group World Championships, to be held in Budapest on 9/11/10. The rest of the training year will point towards that race.

This year's plan has the usual suspects, but I've dropped two out of state races I did last year. I also added two early running races in February and March- it will be good to get the competitive juices flowing at a point when I've been inside for a few months and still have a couple of months of crappy weather. Finally, there's still a hole in my plan. I need one more olympic distance race somewhere around late July or early August.

So here goes...

February- Last year I did the Cape 10 mi race "for the heck of it." I used the first few miles as warm up and had no pressure for a quick run. I ended up descending every mile, finishing at a 6:30 pace. Oh yeah, I hadn't run more than 6 before that. This year I'll try to put in a better effort. There are a few folks that beat me last year that will make good targets (Jeff, Ange, Mary....). I went 1:15 last year, so if the conditions are comparable (doubtful), maybe a 1:10-1:12 is possible. One week later is the Polarbear 5k.

March- I'll do my first snowshoe race ever, a 5k at Pineland. I have a good pair of under-used running snowshoes that I love. There are a whole bunch of trails near the house that I love to use on the weekends.

May- The tri season will kick off with the Polarbear sprint. It's the first chance for tri egos to see how the winter training went. Two weeks later is a fantastic bike time trial, Crank the Kanc. It's a one-way race from Conway to the top of the Kancamagus Highway. The first 17 are rolling, the last 5 UP. Red-lining for about 70 minutes. It's a great data-gathering race. I can compare the power files to 2008 and 2009.

June- In my mind, the season really kicks off with the Mooseman Olympic distance race. I was 5th in my AG last year, and 13th overall. It can be a very competitive race and you never know who will show up. This year, there's more competition for Mooseman due to the 70.3 the next day and the popular Rev3.

July- Urban Epic is a good race to do, even though it's just a sprint now.

August- I'll try to defend my title at the Bethel Tri. Winning overall last year from wire to wire was a thrill last year.

September- World Championships. 'Nuf said.

As for specific goals for the season, I'm having some trouble. I made Team USA, and I know I don't have a chance at the podium in Budapest. Top half of my AG would be good. So there's no "next step" race on the horizon. Locally, I'll always want to do well against my local rivals (Jeff, Rob, and 70.3 man Bob T.).

While it's not very specific, perhaps my big goal is to wear the uniform with pride. Having my name on my ass means there's a target on my back. Let's face it- people will want to knock me off simply because I have USA on my chest. They should. I certainly did the the same the last two years. So now it's my turn to be the target. And it's my job to move that target as far away as possible.