Posts Tagged ‘Longhorn 70.3’

It’s race week this week with the Couples Triathlon on tap for Sunday morning out at Decker Lake.  800 Meter Swim, 11-mile bike, 3-mile run and our last scheduled race before Ironman 70.3 in October will be in the books.  Usually I would have quite a few events lined up between a mid-July race and a late October event, but not this year.

After “Couples” we’ll be heading straight into a 100 day cycle for long-distance triathlon training with a lot of endurance workouts to conquer the 1,900+ meter (1.2 mile) swim, 56-mile bike and half-marathon event in our first attempt at the distance(s).  Or really, our first attempt at anything close.  The closest parallel I can draw is going from a 5K footrace to a marathon in one jump.

Ironically, that is exactly what we did in the Fall of 2006 going from a local 5K event straight into the teeth of the Philadelphia Marathon.

Of course this time I have a much longer racing history.  Numerous half-marathons and marathons under my belt and a far greater understanding of what my body is capable of, how to prepare for a tough long-distance race and how to take care of my body both before and during the event to maximize performance.

Swim Start

But Sunday is going to be a bit surreal as the location for the event at Decker Lake is going to be the same exact spot where we will stand nervously on the edge of the water three months from now staring the half-ironman in the face.  The temperature will be different, we’ll more than likely be in a wetsuit instead of our TRI shorts and tank, but there will be a lot of similarities between the two events.

Climb on Bike Course

In fact the first 10 miles or so of the half-ironman course will be identical to the first 10 miles on Sunday.  All of the steep climbs that we will experience during Longhorn 70.3 fall in those first 10 miles.  It is a hilly-monster of a course, one that I feel like we are well prepared for on Sunday if we get moderate winds and our legs bounce back this week from some high-mileage training over the past 30 days.

The nerves will start to build as race day draws closer this week – they always do.  But right now I’m excited to race one last time this summer before flipping the switch and starting our toughest training cycle in a long …. well actually …. ever.

On the heals of Longhorn 70.3 will be the Houston Marathon just 11 weeks later.  We will actually start our Houston preparations 6 weeks or so before Longhorn, where our long runs will start creeping into that 16,17,18 mile range.  Farther than one might normally “run long” preparing for a half-ironman, but mileage that will not only help at Longhorn in the closing miles of the 13.1 mile run, but will help us springboard into week 7 or 8 of marathon training after a recovery week.

It will be a different approach to training for a marathon for sure, but one that I think will prove to have us more than ready on January 13, 2013 in Houston, TX.  The thought of focusing only on one discipline (the run) for 11 weeks before the starters gun goes off has me excited for our next and possibly last attempt at breaking the 3 hour mark in the marathon.  It is the last “PR” that I want to set at a level that if I never approach it again I will be satisfied.

That is how I feel right now about every other distance from the 1 mile (5:07), 5K (18:12), 10K (37:30), 10-mile (1:02:37) and Half-Marathon (1:23:46).  Only my marathon PR set at New York of 3:08:09 has me looking at those numbers knowing that I can be better.

As for the others?  Perhaps on a glorious day sometime in the future one or more of them may fall if my fitness, weather and race-day mojo all happen to show up at the same time.  But if they do not, I’m satisfied.

Perhaps that is the nature of marathoning.  That satisfaction is much tougher to come by in that event than some others.  As much as the race breaks you, it seems to leave you with just enough life left to give it one more try.  Never completely annihilating you and leaving you for dead.  Although you feel awfully close over the final 10 kilometers.

I’ve heard that the half-ironman feels the same as the end of the marathon when you are covering the last few miles.  We’ll see about that.  I certainly can’t imagine it feeling any tougher.  Hopefully I’m right about that.

But for this weekend we will be laying it all out there in the sprint distance in an interesting format – where two athletes compete as a “couple”.  Each competitor completing the entire triathlon on their own, then the two times are added together and are ranked in the category that they are competing in.

There are categories for:

Friends – Male (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Friends – Female (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Friends – Mixed (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
More than Friends (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Married (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Parent & Child
Siblings
Relatives
Mostly Strangers

If you do not have anyone to race with, you can compete as an individual by gender:

Individual Male
Individual Female

My friend Ed and I will be competing in the Friends Male 70-94 combined age group as our cumulative age places us at 79 years old for this event.

We have essentially zero chance at a podium finish as we will be competing with the top male age groupers, Open Division competitors and even a handful of local professional traithletes who live here in Austin.

It will be more about having some fun racing with Ed, getting more experience as a triathlete working on my open water swimming, transitions and closing out the run as strong as I can.

1:18 – 1:20 feels about right to me for this event from a goal standpoint.  It will of course all be about the swim for me where every :10 I can shave off of my 100 meter splits over 800 meters will be a huge accomplishment on Sunday.

Last month at the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon we were a bit too timid in the water, swam too wide to avoid conflict and it added 1-2 minutes to our swim time.  That much cost us a podium finish.

This time there will be no age group award to fight for, but I want to gain some valuable experience swimming “in a crowd” and battling to stay on course and working the tangents around the buoys.  The next time we swim at Longhorn the distance will be 1.2 miles.  I certainly don’t need to make it any longer than that. 

Sunday morning when that horn goes off we are going to swim the first 50 meters aggressively and find a spot on the heels of a swimmer just a bit faster than us.  We’ll try to draft the best that we can, and hopefully let that swimmer pull us along at a pace a bit faster than we are capable of swimming on our own.

Once we get out of the water, the race shifts in our favor.  Bike over the hills at 20+ miles per hour, then run the 3 mile off-road course (which is a bit slower than a typical road course) in about 19 minutes and 30 seconds.

If we put that type of race together with solid transitions we will be a happy triathlete on Sunday.  Exactly the way I want to feel heading into the most intense and honestly a bit scary training period since I trained for my first marathon.

In addition to all of that, tomorrow morning I start a new job for the first time since September 22, 1999.

I’ll be working with a local foundation here in Austin that does tremendous works for local musicians and their families.  Contributing to part of the music culture here in Austin that makes our city such a unique and wonderful place to live.

Pretty big week ahead.  Hope yours is a great one as well.

I realized something on Monday while I was pedaling away on the TRI Bike up on the trainer in the garage.

I had not thought about the Boston Marathon in over a week.

Not a thought about training, about the hills or the course.

Not  a single thought about running a qualifying time or how badly I wanted to return to the race.

After two years of obsessing about that particular event – it appears that I have finally moved on.

Boston = Over.

I’m not really sure what it is about looking back in the rear view mirror on my two Boston Marathons that has given me peace when it comes to our country’s longest running marathon.  Certainly it is not related to my performance as those two races represent my 4th and 6th best marathons.  Definitely nothing to write home about.

But my eyes are now cast firmly in front of me at the next two major challenges on the horizon for the rest of the year.

Longhorn 70.3 in October – our first ever Half Iron Man.

Houston Marathon in January – our next attempt at breaking 3 hours.

Even though I have a “Boston Time” in my back pocket for 2013 already, I am planning to let that registration come and go this September without thinking twice.  We’ve been there, we’ve done that – it’s time to let someone else experience Boston and take our spot.

Perhaps one day we’ll decide that want to return to the race.  Maybe when we turn 50 or even later if Landry takes up the sport of distance running.  But for now we’re at peace.  Maybe all it took was Landry’s little arms around my neck in the finishing area taking away the sting of the race from 2010.

Landry and Dad – Post Race in Boston

So as we return from a much-needed vacation and get back on the horse this week with 111 training miles split between the bike, the pool and the running trail it is nice to have our eyes fixed firmly ahead.

It’s about time.

Sometimes it’s a great exercise to take a step back and take a look at things from “a long view” or as I say all the time in business from 30,000 feet.  Oftentimes you are so close to a situation, constantly monitoring the day-to-day activities that you don’t have a chance to take a breath, survey the big picture and make the necessary course adjustments to stay on track.

I feel like I had fallen into that trap as Last Summer’s training for my first triathlon segued to “New York” in November, then almost immediately to “Boston” in April.  Now we are firmly in another training cycle for our first summer as a full-time triathlete working towards Iron Man 70.3 in Austin on October 21st.

In the 365 days prior to Longhorn 70.3 we will have run two major international marathons, 4 or 5 half-marathons depending on if I choose to run the Rock N’ Roll San Antonio Half as a preparation race for the Houston Marathon in January, 6 triathlons and more 10K and 5K events than I can count.

All the while focusing on the things that I think will push us over that final running goal we have before us, a sub 3-hour marathon.  Preparing for New York and Boston I felt like hill work, strength and stamina were the areas where I needed to focus my energies.

As I enjoy some downtime this week on vacation, just logging some easy miles at “elephant” pace – meaning whatever pace I feel like running – I’ve spent that time analyzing where we are and where we want to go.  Where I see the opportunities for improvement and where “maintenance” is really the primary focus.

Last week while traveling in Galena, IL for a retreat at the Eagle Ridge Resort I ran 10, 8 and 10 mile workouts on some amazingly hilly terrain.  Steep rolling hills, both up and down that would have really taken a bite out of me in previous years.

Each morning I hit the hills with great enthusiasm and focus.  Ticked off runs in the 7:11 to 7:30 range with very little in the way of “real effort”.  All of the hill work we did preparing for Boston which did not necessarily come into play on that race day due to the high temperatures and lack of “racing” – has put us in a great position entering triathlon season.

The goal there will be to maintain our ability to tackle hills, which also translates to strength and endurance for the triathlon and speed on a flat marathon course such as Houston.

As we return to Austin and resume training, hill repeat Thursday will be back and a part of our training regime through the end of the calendar year.  It is simply a workout that pays dividends in so many areas – it will remain a key part of what we do as an athlete preparing to race.

Triathlon specific – although my swim is improving, I know that I still need to focus in that area.  More laps, quicker intervals, more swimming at “race effort” and not holding back so much in the open water as I “conserve myself in an effort to stay calm”.  If I cannot reach a new level of effort when I am racing during the swim portion of the triathlon I am going to continue to find myself in the middle of the pack or worse trying to dig myself out of that hole on the bike and the run.

I simply have to gain more confidence in my swim to push harder and not get “nervous” as my heart rate increases and my breathing asks for more and more oxygen.  I can reach that level in both the bike and the run with no fear of reprisals.  I know I have that in me, I just have to unlock it in the water.

The goal will be that by the time we hit the water at Jack’s Generic Tri the first Sunday in August, we are at that level.  Ready to lay it all out there in the water and race the full triathlon with bad intentions.  From the horn of the swim to the tape at the end of the run, I want to attack, attack, attack.

I will give myself the next two events at Lake Pflugerville and the Couples Triathlon in June and July to start tapping into that part of me.  But by August, no more excuses.  Swim with bad intentions.

Transitions – another area where I am firmly in the “O.K.” category as I transition from the swim to the bike.  I am in the “above average” area going from the bike to the run.  This is an area where I can improve my triathlon race time without a single improvement in my stamina, strength, speed or endurance.

It is a matter of setting up a transition area at home and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Practice running up, going from a barefoot, helmetless athlete to a fully shod, dressed cyclist as quickly as possible.

Then further refine my transformation from cyclist to runner.

I missed out on 1st place Masters overall in the rookie division last Sunday by :07 seconds.  Of course not dropping my chain on the bike would have more than made up for that deficit as I had to stop, dismount, fix the chain, remount and start riding again.  But unexpected things are going to happen in the triathlon.

I could have easily picked up :08 in transition had I practiced before the event.  That is something I am going to do every weekend from now until Ironman 70.3.

The Bike.  Right now I am relying on raw strength and endurance to power my bike leg.  Even with my dropped chain I was able to post the 5th fastest bike in my division on Sunday.  I can make that strength even stronger by logging more miles in the saddle and working on my approach to gearing on the climbs and descents.

In the simplest terms I have a good engine but lack technique and experience.  By the time summer draws to a close and we are in the final preparations for our Half Iron Man I will have ridden over 1,900 miles.  I need to make every one of them count to make that strength of ours even stronger.

Lastly, the run.  I need to keep my eye on the prize which is to be able to lock in and execute 26 miles at 6:50-6:52 pace in January.  That kind of performance is going to require me to continue to run long, keep mileage on my legs and most importantly stay healthy.

No nagging injuries, no downtime, no corners cut.  I am going to focus on health and recovery from our triathlon training to make sure that when the weather cools in the fall and we shift focus from Ironman 70.3 to the Houston Marathon we are 100% ready to go.

Those 11 weeks will require a great deal of focus, drive and determination to build on our fitness level and bring it to a peak on January 13th.

That is what the next 7 months are going to be all about.  We are going to try to peak twice.

October 21

January 13

Every other day during that period will be geared toward preparation(s) for those two events.

Right now though it is time to continue to relax and enjoy a little downtime.  Hang out with my girls, build sand castles, get my feet buried in the sand and enjoy the ride.

Pretty good gig if you can get it.

 

If you have been following the blog over the last couple of months you are aware that back in February I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science and Technology program.

The tagline that RESTWISE uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (which measures your resting heart rate and blood oxygen saturation) and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

If you missed it the first time – click HERE for the product review and the details on how the RESTWISE system functions.

In a nutshell, the athlete enters their data into either a web interface or an app on their smart phone/iPad and the feedback is teturned immediately in the form of a score out of 100%.  The tool also provides a date range snapshot graphically for you to see any trends that are developing.

Below is a look at my RESTWISE Recovery scores for the two-week period of April 14 through April 27.  Essentially my final two days before the Boston Marathon through my post-race recovery period.

The chart is very powerful as you can clearly see I was operating at the 90%-100% level leading up to Boston, poised for a breakout performance on race day.  I had completed a tough training schedule, set PR’s at both the 10K and half-marathon distances and was hitting all of my intervals leading up to April 16th.

The weather of course on race day reaching 87 degrees made racing impossible, so it looks as if we will never really know what we would have done at Boston in 2012 had we had neutral conditions.

The day after Boston, even racing at reduced intensity decreased my recovery score down by 40%.  As each day progressed as I was resting, getting my sleep and recharging the batteries, my score returned to 80% three days after Boston and I went for a short 2-mile run.  Another rest day and I was back to 90% and resumed my training.

As I worked through my recovery training schedule, gradually adding miles on the run, swimming and cycling I am now back operating at 100% and ready for this weekend’s workouts.

Open Water Swim Friday.

8 Mile Run Saturday.

10 Mile Run Sunday.

The new week kicks off with 15-Miles on the Tri-Bike Trainer on Monday morning with another Open Water Swim in the afternoon.

As we continue to move the needle forward this week and our Triathlon Race Season begins on Sunday we will be trying to balancing swim, bike, run and strength training workouts each week.   Over the next several months we will be racing 5 triathlons and four running events depositing us to the starting line of our first Half-Ironman in October.

Having a well-balanced training plan is important, but so is making sure that I say flexible in my approach.  I will have never pushed my workouts to these limits from a total mileage standpoint on the bike and the swim.  The run mileage while very much within my previous margins, will feel much tougher with the additional cross training.

Longhorn 70.3 Training Plan

RESTWISE is going to play a key role in my preparation for Texas Ironman 70.3.  When my recovery score dips down to the 60-70% range I am going to listen to my body, my mind and the science and back things off.  Move workouts around when needed and reduce the intensity of those sessions so that my body will not only experience the increased workload – but to truly benefit from it.  I need to allow the proper rest so that my body can in fact adapt to that increased intensity and grow stronger from it.

That is the key to leveraging RESTWISE effectively.  Knowing when your body is in need of a reduction in intensity to rebound, recover and grow stronger.  It also gives you a strong indicator that even though you had a tough workout yesterday or the day before – you are still operating in a recovered state (80-90%) that will allow you to continue training hard, to keep pushing.

Afterall, that is what we do.

We work hard, break ourselves down, give the body time to repair and reload, ADAPT – then grow stronger.

By the time we reach the edge of Decker Lake on October 28th and prepare for our first 1.2 mile swim in race conditions – I expect us to be absolutely in the best shape of our life.  Physically and mentally ready to go out and absolutely hammer the swim, bike and run to make an honest attempt at breaking 5 hours in our first Half Ironman event.

I have to do the work, of that there is no question.

But it is a great feeling however knowing that RESTWISE has my back.  Thanks guys.

17 weeks ago when this training cycle started Boston seemed like it was a long, long way off in the distance. 

Between me and Hopkinton stood 1,295 training and racing miles spread over 125 runs.  A 5K race benefitting the local Ronald McDonald House, A 24-hour ultra-marathon relay from Miami to Key West, 3 Half Marathons and the Cap 10K were on the schedule.

Not to mention the 10 different 20-22 mile long runs, miles of hill repeats and 8 Tuesday “doubles” to cross off the list.

Boston was something that was still very “abstract”.  Just a small dot of light on the horizon.  Something that I knew one day I would look at my training calendar on the magic refrigerator and realize was a whole lot closer than we realized.

Yesterday was that day.

There are still 391.10 miles left to go before we cross the finish line on Boylston Street, but at the rate we have been ticking them off, that is not a lot of time left on the clock.

Yesterday I was trading e-mails with a runner friend of mine and I made the comment that Boston was going to be my “last” marathon.  The race where I want to once and for all settle the score with Lady Marathon and especially payback some of what that race took from me in 2010.

He was surprised to hear that I was going to be stepping back from the marathon and asked more or less “what gives?”.

The honest answer is that I feel like I have given a lot to the sport of marathoning, crossed quite a few finish lines and I have my sights set on some new goals as I leave the 40-44 year-old age group and move on to the 45-49 competitve group.

I would like to focus on the Triathlon and find out just what kind of triathlete we can become over the next 4 years.  Running will of course remain a key component in that pursuit, as frankly it is my strongest area of the TRI, one where I have a competitive advantage over most other athletes in my age group.  Some by a wide margin.

Swimming and Cycling can be “lifetime” sports.  As I get older I know that the pounding of 75 mile weeks, tempo runs and hill repeats are eventually going to start taking their toll.  But swimming and cycling, while not “injury proof” sports – they do come with a much gentler impact on the joints, hips, knees and ankles.

There is also something exciting about starting something new.  Not being one of “the better” athletes in the field any longer at local events.  I am going to have to do what we do best.  Outwork people to fight our way to the podium.

I will have to become a better swimmer.  Much better.

I will need to improve as a cyclist.  Improve my endurance.  Hold my speed over longer distances.

I will need to maintain my speed and endurance as a runner.  Continue to race events to keep that sword sharp and maintain my “edge” on race day.

Of course one of the bigger reasons is little Landry.  I want to be around more, not so tired from marathon training all the time.  Chase her around the yard not worried about straining something or tripping over one of her toys constantly. 

I just want to be a Dad.

Maybe a little skinnier Dad than some.  Probably a lot faster than most.  But just a Dad.  Her Dad.

Will I run another Marathon?  I’m sure that I will.  I’d like to return to the Pittsburgh Marathon on the 5-year anniversary of Dom’s cancer diagnosis and “Run for Dom” one more time.  Make a difference in the lives of Nico, Sierra and Val to help add to their 529 College Plans.  I would also like them to get to know me a bit better and understand how important their Dad was to so many of us and how much we all loved him.

I started to put together the shell of our next training plan (below).

Under Construction

The first thing I do when I am putting together a new training cycle is I identify “THE” event.  The “A” race.  The ultimate goal at the end of the journey.

In this case it is the Longhorn 70.3 Half-Ironman on October 28, 2012.

Everything else will build toward that race.

I then look at local race schedules and other key events that I would like to participate in.  Some of them we will make it to the starting line of.  Others will not make the cut due to family commitments or what the training cycle for Longhorn demands.

I know right now that TRI Rock over Labor Day weekend is a longshot.  That is the weekend after Dawn and Landry’s Birthday’s and more than likely when we will have out-of-town guests coming in for Dawn’s 40th birthday celebration.

The Prefontaine Memorial 10K in Coos Bay, Oregon is a race that I have wanted to run for close to 4 years now.  I hope that travel and commitments will allow me to make it out there in September this year – but again, it is a longshot.

Wednesday night’s will remain part of our speed training as we compete in the local Sunstroke Summer Stampede 5K series from May to the middle of July.  I hope to make 8 of the 12 races to qualify for a possible award at the end of the series.

There is the Holland, 5K that I race every year – hoping for a “four-pete” as an Age Group winner this year, although a local triathlon is the following day.  Something might need to give that week.

I will be heading back to Jack’s Triathlon this year around my birthday – back to the scene of my first ever triathlon to compare our performance on the same race course one year later.  A good gauge to see where we are and how much further we still need to go.

A couple other Triathlons dot the schedule, and I am contemplating on racing at the Cap TX Tri on May 28th, which would be our first “wetsuit” traithlon swim and first time at the Olympic Distance (1,500 Meter Swim, 28 mile bike, 10K run).  A good stepping stone to Longhorn 70.3.

The rest of the squares will be entered over the next couple of weeks when I finalize my race calendar and look at all of the personal commitments that I have, vacations, travel, birthday parties and those all important rest days.

In the end by the time we cross the finish line in Boston our summer and fall plan will be in place, tacked to the magic refrigerator, ready to go.

There will be some great moments over those 27 weeks.  There will be some tough moments as well.

Some failures, some victories, good days and bad.  There will be hot days to train through, rain storms to run through, and mornings where staying in bed sounds a whole heckuva lot better than getting out there and giving it our best.

We won’t stay in bed though.  We’ll get out there and do what we need to do so that on October 28, 2012 we will get ready to enter Decker Lake a nervous first-timer at the 70.3 mile distance.  A little over 5 hours later hopefully, we will be a Half-Ironman.

That journey doesn’t happen by accident.  It all starts with a blank page, hope, determination and desire.