Sunday, January 30, 2011

Try Melon Tri Race Report...Week 13

I began week 13 with my Monday morning weigh in and I saw a number I hadn't seen in nearly a year. I was 153 on Monday morning which was the lowest I got last year before the surgery that derailed my season. I thought it would take me much longer to get back to this weight and to be honest there were times in the summer when I thought my achilles wouldn't heal and I would never see 153 again. That number means I have lost 18 lbs. through 12 weeks since I began training on November 1. It also means I'm only 5 lbs. from my goal race weight for Ironman St. George on May 7. I can tell a huge difference running at the lower body weight and I'm chomping at the bit to get outside for some test rides to find out how much faster I'll be on the leaner frame. I will need to be faster than I've ever been on the bike if I want to be competitive at the pro level.
Jen e-mailed me Monday to ask me how I was feeling coming off the 12 hour weekend training that I call "Ironman Prep" weekend. I told her I felt pretty good but was a little bit sore as expected. After school when I went for my hour run I found out just how tired I was feeling. My legs were filled with deep muscle soreness. It wasn't painful soreness...more of a dead leg feeling. I had very little power in my stride. My turnover felt very slow. I realized the weekend had put me back a little more than I assumed earlier in the day. It was completely expected however. As a total guess I was thinking that was how my legs would probably feel 1 week after finishing Ironman in May...not really sore but just totally dead leg feeling. I quickly called the world's best massage therapist, Laurel Darren and she was able to schedule me for a Tuesday massage. That massage hurt bad but it was a great hurt. By Wednesday I felt completely back to normal. I was again reminded of the importance massage plays in helping me recover from hard training and racing efforts. Laurel also writes for the Moline Dispatch and runs a weekly column that I was mentioned in this week. That story can be found by clicking HERE.
Sunday morning Super Mom, Payton, Owen, and I drove to Muscatine for the 18th Try Melon Tri. This was an event I had won the past two years. It is a really nice event that the Muscatine YMCA puts on every January. It is extremely well run with tremendous volunteers. It consists of a 900 yard pool swim, a 10 mile Kaiser M3 Spin Bike, and a 2.5 mile run on the legendary 100 meter banked turn track. The spin bike was new this year replacing the torturous Schwinn Airdyne bikes. Upon arriving I went for a 3 mile run to loosen the legs up. I also wanted to get a longer warm up in than normal to get to my weekly running mileage goal. I then did speed drills and strides and waited for my 11:30 start time. The start times are seeded by the expected swim time we submitted and I would be in the 2nd fastest heat. I watched the 11:00 guys start and they were all swimming faster than I could. I knew Adam Bohach from Clinton, Iowa would be really tough to beat. He moved to the area last year and had a great summer of competing. He's strong in all three disciplines, but especially the run. He ran a 2:28 marathon last year which is only 8 minutes off the Olympic Trials standard for the marathon. I knew the only way to beat him would be to either swim or ride faster than him. I was really excited about this race because one of my best friends, Beau Perkins would be competing in his first triathlon. Beau was a school record holding swimmer on our team in high school at Pleasant Valley. I have always thought he would be great at triathlons as he is very strong and stays in pretty good run shape as well. Beau and I were in the same swim heat with only one person between us.

SWIM: I elected not to warm up in the 90 degree pool this year as I felt it may have lead me to be slower last year. In truth I was probably just slower last year because I'm not a very good swimmer. When the whistle sounded to start I knew the guy between Beau and I was a stud swimmer. Rumor flying around the YMCA was that he won an Olympic swimming medal as part of a relay in the 80's. That was a long time ago but I'm sure even an olympian who hasn't swam for 20 years could outswim me. For the first 150 yards or so I stayed about even with him and when he went by me I tried to move closer to him to catch some of his slip stream but that didn't last long and he was long gone. I did a good job of breathing every 3 strokes instead of every 2 like I used to. I never felt in a great rhythm but I tried to continue pushing hoping to drop a little time off my 12:20 from last year. I haven't swam near the yardage of last year, instead choosing to spend more time on the bike and run but I still thought I may be able to swim faster guessing that my technique is better than a year ago. I finished behind Beau by about 15 seconds in a time of 12:29...9 seconds slower than last year. I was also about 1 minute slower than what Adam Bohach had gone from the previous heat.
BIKE: After a quick shoe change I made my way to the new Kaiser Spin bikes. I was a little skeptical about this portion of the race because everyone had to keep the bikes on level 6 and they go up to level 24. I knew that would mean it would be really easy to pedal. I was also warned that if you pedaled above 130 cadence the RPM monitor of the bike would not display. It still kept track of the distance but without the monitor. Right when I jumped on the bike and started pedaling I knew there was no way for me to win this race. The pedaling was simply too easy. I was over 130 cadence from the beginning. The RPM monitor turned off as promised and I kept trying to pedal as fast as I could without bouncing my rear end off the bike. My heart rate was actually going down as I pedaled because it was so easy. I could see Payton waving her sign for me and I was able to talk to her for parts of the ride. It was quite enjoyable but was not good for helping me make up time on anyone because it seemed almost everyone riding was able to push the cadence up above 130 so even weaker riders would be riding just as fast as I was. The coolest thing about the ride was that I was on the bike next to Beau so I was able to talk to him. He had a great swim and was spinning the bike super fast as well. He stayed in the aero position almost the entire time and I kept thinking...this sport is perfect for him. He's going to be a great triathlete if he enjoys the sport. The ride was not as easy on the legs as it sounds because of the absolute uncomfortable feeling that comes with pedaling at 140+ cadence for 15 minutes. It ended up being 14 minutes and 20 seconds for me. This was a couple minutes faster than the Schwinn Airdynes took me. As much as I hated riding those things I would say I wished we could have been on them because at least with them it separated the race a little bit because the stronger riders could gain some time on the weaker ones. With the spin bikes I'm sure I will see in the results that the top 30 riders were separated by less than a minute due to the ease of the pedaling.

RUN: I got off the bike knowing I would not win the race but that wasn't my big goal in this one. I knew things would be unusual with the new bikes. My bigger goals were to drop time in the swim and run portions. Those were consistent from last year to this year...same distances and the same courses. I was already -9 seconds on the swim so I knew I was not going to be happy if I also ran slower. Last year I ran 13:52 (about 5:33 pace). When I started it felt like I was going really slow. I know I'm in the best run shape I've been in a long time. I think going from the 140 bike cadence to the normal run cadence is what made it feel like my legs were not moving fast. I went through the first 16 laps (1 mile) and saw 5:26 on my watch. I was pretty happy with this because I could tell I was feeling stronger now that my legs had gotten into a normal rhythm. I kept thinking...this pace feels like 1/2 Ironman pace. It isn't hard to hold. I pushed hard and other runners began to enter the track which made the run a bit longer because you are passing people so frequently on a 100 meter track and we always pass on the outside. I could tell with each passing lap I was speeding up and I ended the run to see that I had gone 13:18...34 seconds faster than last year and a 5:19 mile pace. This is faster than I've run any distance off the bike in a race. I also felt like I could have kept the pace up for a while longer. My finish time was 40:58, 1 minute behind the winner, Adam Bohach. Despite not winning I was pretty excited about the progress. I made a decision earlier this year to swim less so that I could become a stronger biker and runner. The decision cost me 9 seconds on the swim but gained me 34 on the run so a net gain of 25 seconds. I could double my swim yardage and I don't know if I would drop 25 seconds and I certainly don't feel I would run as fast as I did. Also, Adam is a stud! I tried to find him after I finished but I think he left after he was done. I'd love to get together for some training with him. Someone after the event told me he said he is planning to do Ironman St. George as well so it would be awesome to get together for some long rides or runs to help us both prepare to do well there. My friend Beau had an awesome day which was probably my highlight of the race. Beau finished in 46:50 and when I left the YMCA he was sitting in 4th place overall for his first triathlon ever!! Now he just needs to get a bike and he'll be ready for a big summer.
This next week will be a big training one. This past week was pretty low in terms of total volume. I'm excited to get things going with a ride in the morning to start things off. I only have 7 weeks left until my first pro race in San Juan. Today's swim made me realize how much work I'm going to have when I exit the water. Mentally I'm trying to get myself ready to overcome a significant deficit out of the water so I don't panik. I 100% believe I can ride and run my way back into a top 8 finish. The field entered is incredible. Ironman posted the San Juan Pro race preview this week which can be found by clicking HERE. Just reading my name on the start list with those guys got my heart racing. I have made my resolution this year to be fearless. I will control what I can which is my own race. I certainly will not be afraid to toe the line with the best in the world and I intend to prove that I belong on that starting line. Thanks for reading!! DREAM BIG!!


jahopewell said...

Good to see you yesterday, Jeff. Good luck with the rest of your season. Hope to see you and Beau at some of the local tri's this summer. You and Beau should come swim with Paul, Jen Foley, and me. We swim Tu, Thur and Sat at the North Y. Tu and Thur we swim at about 5:45am and Sat we swim at 6:15am or so.

Bruther said...

If the guy between you was Craig Oppel he did win an olympic gold but he was an alternate and did not swim at the olympics

Bruther said...

not to say his accomplishment of even making the team was of any less value - he was a stud in high school

Adam in Africa 2009 said...

Hi Jeff,

This is Adam Bohach, fellow aspiring Ironman from the Mississippi Valley. A friend of mine who also participated in the Try Melon Tri yesterday sent me a link to your blog. I couldn't believe the irony that you are also doing the St. George Ironman on May 7th! It would have been nice to chat yesterday. I was in and out until the awards ceremony but we must have just missed one another in between. I am so glad that I found out you are also training for the same race. Training is quite lonely here in Clinton. I would love to have a training partner that I can stand next to on the start line in Utah. Send me an email, phone call, or text so we can talk about a time to meet. If anything, it would be good to have someone to talk to for motivation and reassurance. Here is my contact details:

All the best in training. Talk to you soon.

Adam Bohach