Living up to my expectations

I’ve got a lot of thoughts swirling in my head, most of them pertain to the same thing, and the ones that don’t are not that important. Although in a manner of thinking a lot of them aren’t important in the grand scheme of things.

Quick update on training – things are going well. I’m not getting enough sleep lately – my average for the months of April (Post IM), and May are sitting significantly under 7 hours per night – hmmm I guess I need to work on that. I’ve had some good days and some bad days training – had a Zone 2 48 mile ride two weeks ago that I averaged 20.7 mph for on a windy day – my previous best for that route was just a touch over 20.0 (hauling ass – Zone 3/4), and my best solid Zone 2 time for the route was previously 19.3ish. Can you say holy cow? Other then that most been easy training – the only really hard session I’ve done is the Threshold test a few weeks ago. I’m planning/looking forward to stepping it up again next week to rebuild my base and see what I can do in Hawaii!

Back to my title though – Living up to my expectations – this has been something I’ve really been thinking a lot about recently. When I was young and foolish (I’m still young and foolish, just not as much!) I participated in athletics with rather large “delusions of grandeour” – convinced that I was going to be a stud, it was just a matter of time. I approach my first season of triathlon this way and had good results, but not great results. I spent a lot of the winter of 2005 reading, thinking and generally examining my motivations. I came back for the 2006 season not really worried about the result – at least not in the way I had previously. I was much more focused on enjoying the experience and the journey of transformation – the result was a 2006 season (and 2007 thus far) far beyond what I believed possible. At times completely stunning myself with the outcome.

Now I’ve had what I consider to be a breakout type race at Ironman Arizona – and I’m finding myself starting to toy with many of the same thoughts I used to struggle with. Some of the result of internal pressures of having to “up-the-ante”, some of it is external pressures by friends and training partners.

The personality those thoughts pull out of me scares me a bit. On a day to day basis I don’t feel like a different person then I was in 2005ish and earlier, but when I look at how I would handle situation – like a flat tire in a race – now as compared to then I’m a bit upset to think of how I would have reacted and the excuses I would have made about the event. Not only that, as a result of my race – I feel pressure (both internal and external) to better it, in the end that drive me to force the result and it won’t come.

The whole thing reminds me of Nynaeve from the Wheel of Time saga (An excellent, if not long winded fantasy saga by Robert Jordan. If you are into that type of book I highly recommend it). Nynaeve is a female channeler (wizardess), born with the potential to be one of the most powerful female channelers of all time, except she has a “block”. She can basically only use magic when she is fuming mad, because as it turns out, for females the ability to use magic is very dependent on your ability to go with the flow – and Nynaeve is a control freak. She struggles with this for several books, until she is about to drown, at this point she finally accepts the fact that she is about to die, and bam she’s instantly able to kick ass and take names. I got good at simply accepting what I was and wasn’t capable of and working from there, but suddenly I’m starting to go backwards.

Guess that means it’s time to take a step back and do some reading and thinking and generally just stop worrying about what it takes to go fast – and just be fast. Easier said then done.

Btw – on the plate for this weekend is the Triple-T – should be a blast! I’m taking my laptop with me so I’ll probably be able to post a couple updates over the weekend.

Risks

There was a pretty good thread – well an OK thread on Slowtwitch today. Go read it if you want, but one statement struck out at me

If you want to improve from there you will need to find it in you to push harder and risk more in your day to day training rather than continue with the same old training plan.

The statement was made by Ultra-tri-guy, and I found it interesting because I think it really applies to me where I’m at right now. Not really because I don’t think I can’t get faster with the way I’ve been training, but more because things that I’ve been reading over and over about Triathlon/Ironman training is finally starting to sink in. Glad it’s finally happening, I’ve only been trying to absorb it for 3 years!

It’s more a matter of, I think that I can continue to improve by continuing to follow the same patterns that have brought me this far, it’s about taking a risk and doing something different to jump up to the next level. Taking a cold calculated risk by doing something different – with the understanding that it’s going very likely going to be very successful or very disasterous. Fortunately, no matter the result I’ll learn something!

What am I talking about changing? For me it’s the inclusion of a “significant” amount of planned intensity in my training. While in reality it will only be a couple of sessions in a week, it will be intensity of the sort to attempt to simulate exactly the pressures and demands I expect to place on my body during my “optimum” race execution. Instead of just heading out for a 20 mile run at one even pace, I’ll break it up and do blocks at a comfortable pace, but also do blocks at my race pace.

My brain is starting to understand that this is the type of training the very fast/successful Ironman triathletes are doing. However, knowing myself, I know that I need to be very careful including these types of efforts in my training. I am very much of a more is more person.

So the general plan leading up to Kona is to spend June, July, and a portion of August trying to add to my base – build a huge aerobic engine. During that time I plan to do several races to bring intensity into my plan. Then in August and September switch to a build phase where I’ll include 3 key workouts a week, with the intent to simulate some of my key weaknesses: ability to force a pace late in the run, power output on the bike, and power output over time on the bike.

I am happy with my swim – I’d always like to go faster, but to be honest a 50-52 minute swim is plenty fast for me at the moment. I am also basically happy with my speed on the run – this morning I did a 10 mile run at a touch under 7 mpm pace at an aerobic pace – the top end of my aerobic range, but aerobic. I did several long runs this winter approaching 7:10 at the low end of my aerobic range. What I’m not particularly happy with right now is the three things I mentioned and plan to work on.

If you have any thoughts on how I can improve those three things drop me a note!

Out of catchy titles

I’ve taken some time over the past few days to develop a few goals. Short term goals and long term goals. As part of this process I decided that my long term goals will be universal goals that will help me work to general success in life – as such these goals will be stupid simple goals, but because I’ve picked them out will be a bit tough to accomplish. I’ve also decided on a couple of short term goals (triathlon specific) that will give me something to focus on for the next 6 to 12 months. Anyways here are my long term goals:

  • Develop my relationship with Mary by expressing a “profound” thought every day
  • Make all attempts to be in bed and falling asleep by 9:45 pm every night
  • Spend less time on the internet/computer
  • Read (a book) for at least 15 minutes a day
  • Be less judgemental of people
  • Try to be a team player
  • Workout every day

Like I said on the surface they are stupid simple goals, but in reality they are all things that are highly important to me as a person, but I have a very difficult time doing.

It should be noted that I wrote the short term goals section out, and then took well over an hour to click submit and record them publically, reading my earlier blog about why I maintain this website helped me along.

My short term goals are much more specific and are meant to give me focus and drive in my training over the next 6 to 12 months. I view these goals as not a destination, but a guide point to achieving my ultimate potential, I may or may not achieve these goals in the next 6 to 12 months, but that’s about as far ahead as I can focus. Ultimately I’d like to try and word these goals in a way similar to my long term goals, but I’m just not mentally ready to cope with short term goals of that nature.

  • Develop the fitness to execute a 9 hour Ironman
    • 50 minute swim
    • 4:50 bike
    • 3:10 run
  • Finish my website

Do I have another big time drop in my Ironman career or have I hit the inch by inch improvement phase? I don’t know, only time will tell and I’ll do my best to reach this guide point.

In other news training has been OK. I did a fitness test on my bike this past Friday. A nice warmup, followed by a 30 minute time trial (on the trainer). The metric is the average HR of the last 20 minutes of the TT. I ended up with 161, I was really happy with that result. The last time I did this I “scored” 149 (about 2 years ago, shame on me). That’s an improvement a 5 bpm per year of training which from my reading is pretty good, especially considering the limited amount of intensity I do. I was really surprised at how badly that ride beat me up, I was going to do the same test for running on Sunday, but my heart rate monitor froze on me. In hindsight that is probably for the best as I would have been complete toasted. Other then that the weekend consisted of a 4:30 bike ride with Mary, which considering my fitness test the night before was pretty challenging – she got a flat tire on it too!

This week is more of the same, planning to try to check my ego at the door at tonight’s group ride and ride in my new zones. I also put my powercranks back on, I have some worries about how to reintegrate them into my training given the number of races in the next few months, but I hate to leave such great tools to gather dust.

More to come later this week!

Humbling

It’s always an interesting experience when you are in close to, if not the best shape of your life and you get the crap kicked out of you at a group workout. My wife and I went to our Tri club’s group ride last night for a 34 mile or so hilly ride. The group I road with put me in some good hurt. I tried to give as good as I got, but man there were some killer hills. And let me tell you, 3000 miles on the trainer gets you in great fitness, but it doesn’t do jack for your hills.

Anyways, it was a pretty good workout, 34 miles with some really hard efforts in there followed by a 30 minute run. Probably a little more intensity then I wanted to do, but it worked out some mental issues I was struggling with last night.

Most of those issues focus around juggling the long rides of both my wife and I, given our training constraints – it’s likely going to require me to do a 5 or 6 hour easy effort on Saturday and back it up with a 5 hour moderate effort on Sunday. On the one hand this is a great idea, but I do have a little bit of fear over my ability to recover and execute this successfully week after week, but if I can do it. WOW!

Easy recovery brick tonight

Back to work

Well I’m officially done recovering from Ironman Arizona – at least according to the training plan. Looking back at Arizona I’m still amazed at how well I did. It was by no means a perfect race, but wow – 9:46 with a flat tire. Not only that I wasn’t even phased when I got the flat. A year or two ago I would have been freaking out about it – but I can honestly say that after I was back on the road I spent less then 5 minutes on it the rest of the race. It was like it never happened! What a change from my how I got about things when I swam. I’m more proud of that then anything really.

So what’s new – I’m starting to feel a bit of a gnaw to train. I’ve been swim a lot – and I’ve been swimming very well. This past weekend I did a 10 minute swim and ended up putting down 800 meters! It felt great! I’ve done 1 run and 1 ride since arizona. Both of them were OK. The ride was just a nice easy aerobic ride with my wife and our brother-in-law. I had no real problems with it, but at the end I started to feel a little bonkish.

My next four weeks of training are going to be pretty easy weeks. Very aerobic workouts, any intensity that I do will mostly be a couple fitness tests to give me a baseline for later this summer. I plan to cap my training at no more then 20 hours per week.

Main focus this week is developing a good pattern of consistancy after the two week break, along with a Run and Bike Test on Thursday and Sunday, respectively. I’ll use these tests to guesstimate at my training paces for the near future and I’ll test them again in about 8 weeks.

In other fronts my decision about Ironman Wisconsin has changed again. I’ve now decided that I don’t want to carry around a DNF. I can handle a DNF when I’m forced to because of a mechanical or an injury. After thinking about it, the what if’s of choosing to DNF will haunt me. What if I’m having a great day and perfect weather? What if? What if? What if? In the end it will just be easier to withdraw, watch Mary race, and do a 2 hour run while she is doing the Verona loop. I can provide more support for her this way then if I’m worried about a race/training race. Since it’s her first Ironman, I want her to enjoy it as much as possible!