5 years of Triathlon

Well it’s been 5 years that I’ve been involved in this crazy sport.  Back when I started I never would have imagined I would be where I’m at.

I think I have a long ways to improve, and a lot to learn about myself and the sport.

Last year I posted a summary of the results from the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon over the course of my Triathlon career.  Well here is the summary of results from 6 Pleasant Prairie Triathlons:

  • 2003 – Sprint    – 1:31:02 – 17:07/0:43:28/28:09
  • 2004 – Olympic – 2:30:15 – 24:09/1:16:32/46:34
  • 2005 – Olympic – 2:07:50 – 19:55/1:07:05/38:18
  • 2006 – Olympic – 2:08:05 – 19:54/1:05:00/40:36
  • 2007 – Olympic – 2:02:55 – 18:44/1:02:10/39:43
  • 2008 – Olympic – 1:56:29 – 20:07/0:55:36/38:15 – Bike was a bit short so we will call it 1:59 for future referece
  • I said it last year, and I’ll say it again – my run needs work. 

    With my bike being about a 59:45, there has been a ~2 minute improvement in bike split per year over the years – I have a feeling the improvement on the bike (at least for this distance) is going to start tapering off.  If I really work over the winter, I can probably get down to a legit 58 bike split, but we’re talking averaging nearly 26 mph, and probably in the neighborhood of 330 watts.  Considering my FTP is in the 300 to 310 range right now.  That’s a tall order – 10% improvement.

    With "less" work, I can probably gain as much or more time on an Olympic Distance race by improving my run versus my bike.  Continuing to chip away at my swim probably can’t hurt either. 

    What I really need to figure out is how to just man up for those long races and ride times that are very inline with a race this short.


    Pleasant Prairie 2008

    The goal for the weekend was to go sub 2 hours.  I knew the bike course was going to be a little short because of a slight course change, so the goal was really – go fast enough that it would be sub 2 hours if the course was a legit 40k bike.  After the experiment at Racine to go sans watch + HRM, I decided to use the HRM this time.

    20:07 3rd OA

    As usual I lined up in the front row of the swim start on the beach.  When the starter blew the horn I hit the water and swam the first 300 meters or so HARD.  By the I hit the first turn buoy, the course is a triangle – probably 400m-700m-400m, I already had about a 10 to 15 meter lead on the rest of my wave.  I continued to swim hard knowing that Chris Wichert (very fast runner) was in my wave, and that a couple of really fast guys were in the later waves so I needed to bank time where I could.  The long stretch of the course runs West to East, so I was blinded by the glare and was unable to see anything.  Fortunately, there was a lead kayaker out there who I was able to keep my eye on so I just followed him – in hindsight I’m told that was a bad idea as he paddled a very zigzag course, so I swam very zigzaggy.  After rounding the second turn buoy I was able to see the final buoy marking the finish so I beelined it for it.  I exited the water and with a quick glance didn’t see anyone even close to me.  I beat everyone in my wave out of the water by over a minute and a half.  I glanced at my watch and saw my swim was 20:XX, and thought “Wow, longer then last year” (I swam 18:45). 

    In hindsight it probably wasn’t longer then last year as the two fast guys I was worried about Will Smith and Mark Hauser when 18:45 and 19:14 – so I just swam slow.

    55:36 (24.9 Mph) 4th OA

    Other then ride as hard as I could while feeling like I could run afterwards – the bike had no plan.  I rolled out of transition behind the lead motorcycle and kept it eye on the SRM for the first few minutes to keep the watts under control.  After that I intended to rely on a combination of RPE, Wattage, and speed.  The first loop was uneventful, I simply cruised along keeping the effort high, focusing on riding clean lines and keep the course as short as possible.  For the majority of the first loop no one was in sight when I checked behind me.  Towards the end of the first loop I noticed a lone rider slowly coming up.  Completely expected – I figured it was Will Smith, who started in the wave behind me.  As I made the turn into the second loop I decided to step up a notch to try and fight the losing battle of holding Will off – despite the fact I knew he would run 4-5 minutes faster then me.
    The second loop continued to be uneventful – I mostly rode towards the center of the lane passing, Olympic Distance folks on the first loop.  With about 2 miles to go, I was finally passed by Will Smith.  After he passed me, I stayed fairly even with him and we rolled into transition together.

    Mount <-> Dismount
    Duration:          55:24
    Work:              952 kJ
    TSS:               88.3 (intensity factor 0.978)
    Norm Power:     293
    VI:                1.02
    Pw:HR:            -5.45%
    Pa:HR:            -5.07%
    Distance:          22.979 mi

        Min      Max    Avg
    Power:            0      708    286     watts
    Heart Rate:   129      171    153     bpm
    Cadence:      29      103     86     rpm
    Speed:          2.9       34   24.9     mph
    Pace:          1:46    20:33   2:25     min/mi

    1st Half
    Duration:         28:04
    Work:             476 kJ
    TSS:              43.5 (intensity factor 0.964)
    Norm Power:      289
    VI:               1.02
    Pw:HR:           -7.61%
    Pa:HR:           -2.14%
    Distance:         11.503 mi

                    Min      Max     Avg
    Power:            0      551     283     watts
    Heart Rate:   129      171     155     bpm
    Cadence:   29      103      86     rpm
    Speed:          2.9       34    24.6     mph
    Pace           1:46    20:33    2:26     min/mi
    2nd Half
    Duration:          27:20
    Work:              476 kJ
    TSS:               44.8 (intensity factor 0.992)
    Norm Power:       298
    VI:                1.03
    Pw:HR:             1.26%
    Pa:HR:             11.22%
    Distance:          11.476 mi
              Min      Max     Avg
    Power:            0      708      290     watts
    Heart Rate:   134      171      151     bpm
    Cadence:      30      103       86     rpm
    Speed:          8.1     33.9     25.2     mph
    Pace           1:46     7:22     2:23     min/mi

    38:15 8th OA

    Another mostly uneventful leg.  I somehow managed to bumble around in T2 for 90 seconds, way longer the the folks who finished around me.  I have no idea what I did that took so long.  The only thing that I can think is that because I was in the first rack I just had a very long distance to run inside of transition.  I headed out of transition and took off at a pace that felt around 6:00 min/mile.  The first mile and a half or so had markers every 1/4 mile to judge pace off of, so it really helped to settle in.  I hit mile 3 in the 18:1X range, and felt pretty good.  Around this point I started to keep my eye out for Chris Wichert as I knew he was fast enough to run me down.  At this point I was in second place, so I really wanted to hold on to it for no other reason then a chance to win some money.  I kept the pace high, trying to follow the Jack Daniels idea of “If it really hurts, try running faster.”  With about a mile to go I just focused on the road ahead and ran hard.

    1:56:29 3rd OA

    I crossed the line as the second finish in the Olympic, almost 7 minutes behind the first place finisher.  I was really excited at the prospect of finisher 2nd overall, but I knew there was a decent chance someone from a later wave may beat me out.  Turns out one person did, Mark Hauser beat me by 43 seconds.  Bummer – the difference was less then the difference in my swim.  Had I only known :), but as a wiser person then has told me “If you could have gone faster, you would have.”  As to my goal, with the shortening course I clearly beat my goal of sub two hours, if I extended the course out to a full 40k, it looks like I would likely have been about 25-30 seconds short or breaking 2 hours.  I doubt I had another 30 seconds in my run, 38:15 is already very fast for me, but desire to accomplish a goal is a very powerful motivator to suffer.  Personally, I’ll call it 1:59:59.99 and say goal accomplished!

    No worries

    Last week I started to have a lot aniexty building about Ironman Wisconsin.  With only a few weeks to go until the race – I felt my fitness was not where I had hoped to be, and that I had not done enough long rides, runs, etc. to even be able to finish the race in a "respectable" time – i.e. run the whole marathon.

    I managed to lay those concerns and the aniexity to rest by reminding myself that I need to go into the race not worried about the time I want to achieve, or a place I want to get, or even getting a Kona slot.  All I need to worry about is getting to race day healthy and rested, while getting as fit as I can.  Then show up on race day and execute the race.

    If I do that the time and everything else will be rewarding.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my approach to training.  This year I made a few changes in my general approach by including a lot more intensity on a regular basis.  I think that the inclusion of this intensity has really helped my fitness and improved my top end – however I think that I also attempted to keep to much steady state work.  Why do I suspect that?

    The biggest indicator that I have been trying to keep to much intensity in the program, along with to much steady state work is that on many workouts I am unable to "successfully" complete the workout.  Meaning I’m just not able to hold the power I should in theory be able to or even had planned for the workout.  This could be an indicator that I have overestimated my FTP, or Tempo pace, which is entirely possible.  But based on some of the good race performances I have, I think I have both of those reasonably accurate.

    Another indicator is that both my FTP and Tempo pace have been relatively stagnant since I first started tracking it earlier this year.  To me I take these as indicators that I am trying to do to much work, and not allowing my body enough time to recover properly and get optimally stronger.  Meaning that I have improved and raised my fitness, just not to the point I could have.

    I’ve been thinking about all the books I’ve read, and things I know and have come up with another revision for next year – a pretty common sense one actually.  Instead of trying to do my typical "volume", and just add in some intensity, which was my approach this year.  Next year I am going to make myself earn the volume – much like Jack Daniels suggests for how fast to train.

    After my post-season break, I will likely do a period of light training for several weeks.  Then I’ll start a weekly program that has my key intensity sessions, but will be an overall very low program.  After 4-6 weeks of successfully completing the workouts, I will step up the intensity and/or the volume a slight increment.  I’ll do that for a few cycles and see how it progresses and then reevaluate.

    This week is a pretty important week of training – I’ve got 3 key workouts to nail.  A long run, which I did last night – 2:30 / 20.5 miles.  I did it indoors to avoid the heat and humidty that caused me to break on my last long run after an hour.  Today is a pretty easy day, with a 3 hourish ride + a short run tomorrow that will include some HIM efforts.

    Friday and Saturday will be pretty easy days, followed by a long brick on Sunday.  The plan is to do this as a race sim type ride @ IM pacing and see how it shakes out, both in terms of time to accomplisht he distance, and my ability to hold the Power/pace.

    Next week will be a restish week capped off by the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Tri.