Sunday, February 27, 2011

Race Simulation...Week 17 Summary

After battling through some sort of virus last week training got back to normal this week and I had a really great week. My emphasis was on picking up my swimming yardage and my running mileage this week. As a result my biking mileage was down a bit. For week 17 I totaled 26 hours and 15 minutes of training time logging 76 miles running, 16,200 yards swimming, and 166 miles biking. I also lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, lunges, push-ups, and jumped rope all three times, plyometrics once, and core work 8 times. The running mileage was my highest in as long as I can remember. Although I never swam more than an hour and 10 minutes this week I was in the pool 5 times which was more than I have been yet this year. My goal is to keep visiting the pool more than normal over the next few weeks to develop a better feel for the water going into Ironman San Juan (which will be only 19 days away when I wake up tomorrow!!!!).

I had some great quality work this week. I did a really tough 40 minute tempo bike ride on Tuesday which was great because it allowed me to get a sustained effort in at slightly higher than 1/2 Ironman pace which should make the pace in San Juan less of a shock to my system. On Wednesday I did my toughest running workout of the week. I ran 6x 1 mile repeats with a 400 slow jog (2 min.) between each one. Most of the workouts I've been doing have been much faster than 1/2 Ironman pace so I wanted to get one in geared specifically for the 1/2 distance. I began the 1st mile at my goal race pace minus 5 seconds. My goal pace is 5:45 for the 1/2 marathon at the end of the 70.3. After the first one I cut each one down a little bit until the last one which I ran pretty hard. My times were 5:40, 5:36, 5:33, 5:29, 5:28, and 5:12. My best workout of the week was a race simulation that I did after school on Friday.
I had planned this race simulation about 3 weeks ago. The idea behind it is pretty simple. The first race of the year is rarely ever as good as the 2nd or 3rd races even if fitness is not increased between them. The reason is that it takes race efforts to get the body ready to race faster. You can do all the training in the world and all the hard intervals but it's tough to ever get to race intensity during workouts and the body is normally always thrown into a little bit of shock during the 1st race of the year. My hope was to simulate a sprint triathlon minus the swim by doing 30 minutes at time trial effort on the bike and then running 3 miles immediately afterwards as fast as possible. With my cycleops Powerbeam Pro I was able to set a wattage range of 250-280 for 30 minutes. I hoped to be able to average right in the middle of that at 265 for the 30 minutes. I got a great warm up in and put my jersey on and set my racing flats next to the bike. I was nervous like I would be before a race because I knew it was going to hurt. I also didn't know if I'd be able to maintain a 265 watt average for 30 minutes. When I began my wattage was closer to the 280 level so I bumped my range up to 260-290 with the press of a button. The first 10 minutes were the toughest. My legs were not used to sustaining that kind of effort for more than 5 minutes since that is the longest interval I've done yet this winter. After 10 minutes I settled into a pretty good rhythm as the sweat dripped constantly to my towel on the handlebars. The last 10 minutes were actually my best in terms of power output. Immediately after getting to 30 minutes I transitioned to the run by putting on the racing flats. My transition time was less than 30 seconds before I jumped on the treadmill. The simulation was working to perfection as my legs felt exactly like they do getting off the bike in a race. I began the run at 5:45 pace and quickly began to increase the speed. My legs were trashed until about seven-tenths of a mile in when it began to feel like normal running. I went through the first mile in 5:36 which was a good first mile but now that I was feeling good I could begin to speed up quickly. My 2nd mile was 5:24. I was feeling great and I really increased the effort over the last mile and finished it in 5:11 for a total time of 16:12 which is faster than I've ever run 3 or more miles off the bike. It was a huge confidence booster. I was especially excited when I downloaded the data from the ride and found out I averaged 277 watts for the 30 minutes. I've never raced with power so I don't know how that compares to my normal sprint triathlon races but it was 12 watts higher than my goal and I think I can go even faster next time. I was spinning at a higher cadence than I probably should have...around 100. I will drop that to about 90 next time and see if I can push a tougher gear.
Over the weekend I had a great time training with Adam Bohach. We are both getting ready for St. George together. We rode for 2.5 hours Saturday morning and then ran 9 miles at what must have been about 6:15 pace/mile. Sunday we ran 1 hr. 45 minutes covering nearly 16 miles and then went to the pool for a great swim workout. It's awesome to have someone around who can help push me through these tough workouts. After running with Adam I really believe he is going to post the fastest marathon ever run on the St. George course...pros included. I feel like I'm slowing him down on these long runs. Following our run and swim I met Jen at the Chili Chase. We signed up a few weeks ago when I expected to race the event. Having already run 16 miles my plans had changed. I would just run the race at about marathon pace and get myself to 20 miles for the day. My legs were trashed when I started but felt better as I went and 6:20 pace didn't feel difficult. Jen won the women's race again! She's off to a great start in 2011 and is running more than she has in years. It was great seeing a lot of people at the race despite the cold weather. Fitness in the community is definitely on the rise. I love it! This week I'll back down the running mileage and will only be able to get in 4 swims but I will pick up the bike mileage. I can't wait to race in just a few short weeks! I have no fears of lining up with some of the world's best. It's going to be great. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in this race. Experience is one thing and that will be a given by just showing up and racing. Performance wise I'd feel great if I can crack into the top 1/2 of the pro field. There are 27 on the start list as of now. I don't know that this big week would have happened without my my legs being tuned up with a great massage by Laurel Darren on Monday. It had me feeling awesome the rest of the week. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weathering the storm...Week 16

A more appropriate title would have been the one I had 2 weeks ago. If you check on that one you'll understand. The weather in Iowa this week was actually the best we've had for training outdoors since I began training on Nov. 1 but I was unable to take advantage of this nice weather. I woke up Monday really sore and did an hour run but cut the rest of my workouts short. I wasn't sure whether I was sore from racing last Saturday or combining that with a pretty big day Sunday when I ran a much quicker than normal long run with Adam Bohach. Up to this point my recovery was actually better than I can ever remember. 2 weeks ago my body held up great through a 33 hour workout week and even through a weekend of training which simulated an Ironman. When I woke up sore and tired still on Tuesday I began to feel like something wasn't quite right. I got more sleep this week than I think I have any other week of training this year yet I was completely wiped out. I began to think I may be a bit overtrained so I would take it easy mid-week even taking a complete day of rest on Thursday which was the first day since I began training November 1 that I did absolutely no training. Thursday night I was still super tired and had a headache and my stomach didn't feel right at all. I slept 9 hours and then suffered through a half day of teacher inservice on Friday morning during which my stomach continued to churn. I realized that I had some kind of virus that was nearing its' peak. It completely peaked on Saturday. I think I visited the bathroom over 20 times and it was something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It left me completely drained. I tried to get in electrolytes to replace what I was losing but I couldn't keep up. Fortunately for me I began to turn the corner on Sunday morning as I felt like my body was getting back to normal. The total volume of training for the week was very low in a week I wanted it to be high. I've learned to weather this type of storm without worrying too much about it. Is it ideal to have this kind of week 4 weeks prior to my pro debut? No, definitely not but I also realize it certainly isn't the end of the world. In year's past I think I would have dwelled on how much fitness I lost. I would have worried that I had gotten out of shape. Not this year. I'm very confident that I'm in the best shape of my life. When I began training I had 27 weeks to get ready for Ironman St. George. I know that 1 rough week in the middle of that build-up will not be significant. Within a few days of getting back into my normal training routine I'll probably forget I even had the setback. I've learned through the past couple years to handle the highs and lows of training much better. I know from coaching that it doesn't take long to get back to the fitness level I was at with the big training base I have. Thankfully today was a great day of training. I ran 13 miles this morning, then got a solid 1 hour swim workout in and finished with a 1 hour bike ride tonight. My body felt stronger with each workout today giving me hope for a good week this next one. I've been thinking a lot about the race in San Juan. It's now less than 4 weeks away. I plan to substantially increase my swimming between now and then. I know from past experiences that short term increases in swim time help me get a better feel for the water and I typically can make big improvements over a short time. I hope those improvements will allow me to get out of the water with the tail end of the guys field. I hope to get out hard and settle in on the feet of a group of the guys and girls in the field. It's definitely good for me that pro men and women start together because that allows me a better chance to find people to draft behind during the swim. On the bike I'm going to ride harder than I ever have for a 1/2 Ironman. I know the first half of the bike leg I may not see too many other guys but by the 2nd half I expect to be making my way through the field. I'd like to be off the bike in contention to run my way to a top 8 finish. I know from my fitness that I'm in shape to get off the bike even after a hard effort and run 1 hr. 15 minutes for the 1/2 marathon. I don't know how the heat and humidity as well as the tough run course in San Juan will affect that time but I do know I should be able to move myself up through the run. I can't wait to see how it plays out. The race will be a great learning experience for me which is why I signed up for it. I wanted to gain some valuable experience about racing professionally before Ironman St. George on May 7.
On a side note, Jen ran a mile at a track meet at Augustana on Thursday and ran 5:05! It was very impressive and fun for me to watch with the kids. I have a massage tomorrow with Laurel Darren which should get my body ready for a big has worked every time. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 15 Summary...Augustana 3k Report

Week 15 was down significantly in terms of volume after last week's huge training load. I wanted to be sure to let my body adapt to that volume. I had a really tough but great workout with the Augustana track team on Wednesday. We began with a 4.5 mile warm up and then ran 2000 meters (1.25 miles) which consisted of alternating 200's between 35 and 45 seconds. After a few minute recovery we ran 4x 600 meters at 1:46 (4:40/mile pace) with 2 minutes rest between each. We then finished the workout with 6x 200 meters in 32-33 seconds with 30 seconds rest between each.
On Saturday afternoon Jen and I went over to Augustana to participate in a collegiate track meet as unattached entries. We were both entered in the 3k (200 meters short of 2 miles). My goal was pretty simple. I was hoping to run a lifetime best. Back in 2002 I ran my last track meet and then finished up my collegiate career running cross country in the fall. Like most collegiate graduates I figured my lifetime bests would never again be touched. I never had a stellar career but typically upon graduation most runners don't tend to PR. It has been 10 years since I ran my best 3k, a time of 9:11 at a track meet at the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. Last year I surprised myself by coming within 2 seconds of that time which had me excited for the chance to break my PR this year on the 10 year anniversary of the best run at 3k I ever had.
I warmed up 2.5 miles with some drills and strides and then headed to the start line. I knew Augie had a couple good guys in the race who would definitely take me out fast through the mile. I probably have no business going out with those guys but this race for me is a chance to be fearless. I expect myself to toe the line in triathlons against some of the best in the world this year and if I plan to race those guys without being afraid I knew I would have to have the mentality that I could race in the front for as long as possible in a track meet. When the gun went off I settled in just behind the leaders and we were out in 69 seconds through the opening 400 meters. The pace did not feel terrible and I just kept my eyes focused on the shoes of the leader staying as close as possible. The laps went by very quickly and we were 2:21 at the 800 mark and then 4:42 at the 1600 mark. That is the exact same time I went through 1600 last year. At that point a year ago my legs were toast. This year I felt pretty good. I was actually quite surprised to feel so good. I wanted to continue to hang onto the leaders as long as I could. We went through the 2000 meter mark in 5:56 which put us on pace to run under 9:00 which would have been my ultimate goal. With 2 laps to go (400 meters) the leaders absolutely took off and I could no longer hang on. I was in a world of hurt and managed to run the last 400 in about 76 seconds to finish in a time of 9:07, a 4 second lifetime best. I was pretty excited about being able to run a PR 10 years after my last one. I'm pretty confident there are few guys who ran in college that bettered a PR 10 years later. My hope is that it can inspire some readers who think their best days are behind them to think can be done. It's been a lot of hard work, but I haven't exactly been training to just run fast. It's been a lot of time on the bike, in the weight room, and in the pool to go along with some solid run weeks.

If my PR doesn't convince you that there are endless possibilities to success even later in life Jen's should. Jen ran the 3k in the women's race and ran 10:12!! She only ran the 3k once in college but she ran in the low 10:40 range. She was amazing running every lap in 40-41 seconds until the last lap when she dropped in a 38 (almost as fast as I finished my last lap). Her time would have been an Augustana College indoor 3k record and she graduated 7 years ago! What isn't possible?? Dream BIG, put in the work, and go get that PR...regardless of age.
This weekend I met with Adam Bohach, an outstanding runner and triathlete from Clinton, IA. Adam was an All-American runner at Luther College, ran a 2:27 marathon last summer, and is an exceptional triathlete. He also happens to be racing Ironman St. George on May 7th along with me so we finally met up to train on Sunday. We ran 1 hr. 45 minutes and Adam's pace put me in a world of hurt. We ran the hilly roads out by my house and covered over 16.5 miles in that time. The pace for the run was right around 6:20. It didn't feel that fast during it but I knew it was fast based on how my legs were feeling. Last week I ran 20 minutes more and only covered 1.5 miles further. After the run we got on our bikes and went 50 miles OUTSIDE!!! This was my first outdoor ride since last September! It felt great to be back outdoors even if the wind was out of control. I'm guessing we had winds near 20 mph and it was evident every time we were riding into them. My legs have been feeling sore and tired all night so training with Adam is definitely going to be great for me and hopefully he feels the same way. Hopefully we can both have awesome finishes in St. George which is now only 12 weeks away. The next two weeks will be pretty big ones for me. I'm done lifting weights 3 times each week now. I'm going to lift on Mondays and Fridays and use the extra time on Wednesdays to get another bike ride in followed by my weekly tempo run off the bike. When the week began I thought I was in the best shape I've ever been in. The run on Saturday confirmed that. I'm not only faster running than I've ever been but I'm also stronger on the bike than ever. If my swimming can improve slightly over the next 5 weeks I'll go into San Juan believing that I belong on the pro starting line. Then...I'll just have to prove I belong. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Holy Crap! Week 14 Training Summary

I began week 14 with plans for a big week but after one early out and 2 snow days due to the largest snowfall here in the QC in over 30 years I took advantage of the days off school and turned a big week into a huge one. For the week my total training time was 33.5 hours with 21 workouts. I biked and ran all 7 days, swam 4 days (the pool was closed for two days due to the snow), and lifted weights three days. For the week I put in 310 miles on the bike, 68 miles running, and 14,100 yards swimming. I also did lunges, speed drills, strides, push-ups, and jumped rope three times each, plyometrics twice, and core work 14 times which may have been my most ever for a week in that area. Today I did my longest run in 12 years at 18 miles. My previous long was 21 when I was a dumb college freshman and thought I could run from Coe College to Cornell College one day between our indoor and outdoor season. I never made it there and after turning around and getting to 21 miles I had to hitch a ride back to school. My previous long run that season had been 10 miles and I ran like crap throughout the entire outdoor season probably due to my lack of intelligence. Today I planned to go 15 but the weather was amazing...28 degrees, hardly any wind, and a really light snowfall. That was 35 degrees warmer than when I did my long run 2 weeks ago. I took advantage of feeling great and went 3 extra miles. I also did the long run out on the hilly county roads to simulate the constant up and down run course that Ironman St. George will throw at me 3 months from tomorrow. I should have been tired. I can't explain how I'm feeling so great right now. My body has adapted to the previous high weeks really well and I'm feeling more fit than I've ever been. The weekend was another Ironman Prep weekend like I did 2 weeks ago but this time I felt much stronger through it. For the weekend I did more than an Ironman as I hit 7,000 swim yards, 122 miles biking, and 28 miles running between Saturday and Sunday. My swim on Sunday was the best I've felt in the water in weeks and given the volume I did this week it should have been the worst I've felt in weeks. When I got home from the swim (after running 18 miles and biking 39 minutes) I told Jen I have absolutely zero doubts that I'm more fit than I've ever been. I had a great workout on the track at Augustana's Pepsico center on Wednesday but my favorite workout of the week was definitely on Saturday.
I began Saturday with a 2 hr. 30 minute bike ride in which I did a 3 minute climbing simulation every 10 minutes pedaling at a very high wattage and low cadence. After the ride I went home and jumped in the car with Jen and the kids to head to Clinton, Iowa for a 4 mile road race. I wanted to get 10 miles running so I warmed up 3 miles. My plan was to run the first 2 miles at tempo pace (in the 5:45 range) and then run the last 2 miles as fast as I could. Jen was racing in a Duck Tales costume with some friends (think 80's cartoons). I hit the 2 mile mark in 11:26 and I was in 3rd place. 2nd was only about 8 seconds ahead of me but first was 3 blocks down the road and when I saw the split times after the race I found out he was 28 seconds ahead of me at the 2 mile point. Right when I hit the 2 mile I shifted gears and began racing. I moved into 2nd within about 600 meters but never thought I would catch the leader. He was a long way up the road and I didn't really care if I caught him or not. My goal was to see what I could do for 2 miles hard coming off the long bike ride in the morning and 2 mile tempo to start the race. With 1 mile to go I was still about 12 seconds back and still didn't think I would catch the leader. I glanced down at my GPS watch and saw we had a 1/2 mile to go and I was only down 5 seconds. I made the pass a couple hundred meters later and ended up winning by 12 seconds in a time of 21:44. More importantly I ran the last 2 miles in 10:18 which I was really pleased with. It was a big boost of confidence which was what I hoped to gain from the workout. Even more exciting to me was looking down the road as I was getting interviewed and watching Louie...the green duck from Duck Tales coming in as the first woman. Jen amazes me. She ran 24:18 with a huge sweatshirt on and pants that were falling down. Complete results from the race can be found by clicking HERE.
I can't be more excited with where I'm at right now. I'm less than 6 weeks away from my pro debut in San Juan. I'm ready right now for a fast 1/2 Ironman. The only thing I need to do between now and then is get outdoors for a few rides to get comfortable with my bike handling again. I'm lighter than I've ever raced a triathlon by 10 lbs., I'm stronger on the bike than I've ever been, and I'm running faster than I ever have. This is what I've dreamed about. This is what I've put all this work in for. When I began this journey over 2 years ago I wanted to find out how good I could be if I went all in. I know many people second guess my volume with the risk of injury...especially after being hurt last year. I'm a gambler when it comes to trying to be my best. I'll continue throwing caution to the wind so when I toe the line I know I've done everything in my power to be as prepared as possible. My body responds really well to big weeks followed by periods of rest. This next week will be pretty easy as I let my body adapt to the big workload I put in this past week. I am going to race a 3k (200 meters short of 2 miles) on Saturday in a college track meet at Augustana. Last year I ran 9:13 which was only 2 seconds off my college PR. I hope to be under 9:11 this week. I would feel pretty good about beating a PR that came 10 years ago. I've had some people asking me how I have time to train so much with a full-time job and a wife and two awesome children. I have 4 times each day when I get a chance to work out. In a big week I utilize most of them. My main workout time which I call "practice time" is from 3:15 to 6:30. 3:15 is when I get out of school and 6:30 is when I promise to be home by so my actual workout typically goes from 3:35 to 6:00 by the time I factor in driving and changing. Outside of practice time I have 30 minutes in the morning before I get the kids up and ready for daycare when I can get a short ride in. The main benefit I see in this ride is that it gets my body burning calories early in the day at a faster rate. A 3rd chance for a workout is during my 8th period at school. I don't have a class and I mentor 2 kids at our school who work out with me some days. Those are mostly sessions when we do short runs, core work, plyometrics, lunges, jump rope, push-ups...etc. The last chance I get to work out is after everyone else at my house goes to sleep around 8:30. Jen gets up for work at 4:45 every day so she is in bed early and after 8:30 I can get a trainer ride or treadmill run in. This week I used all of those workout times to my advantage to get the volume up. Saturday was my 2nd day this year over 6 hours training in a day and my body handled this one much better than the 1st one. I hope to continue adding on the hours to days like this so that I'm ready to go on May 7 for Ironman St. George. Judging by this week I think I'll be where I need to be. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!