Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Humbling Weekend

One of the things I like about triathlon is that you get to learn a lot about your body. Another thing is trying to find the right balance between the swim, bike and run and not just in a race but in training, as well. For much of the past year my #1 priority, by far, has been the run and it has paid off. My run speed has moved from pathetic to merely slow, and that's a good thing. I knew that my bike was going to suffer but I didn't know how much...until this weekend.

The Santa Clarita Century is in three weeks so to get ready for it, yesterday I rode what I call The Tour of Three Roads. It's an 80-mile ride on much of the same roads as the century ride so it would be a good barometer of my fitness for that ride. Good thing I did the ride, too, because there is no way I'm ready for the Santa Clarita Century, which is not only longer than The Tour of Three Roads but has a couple thousand more feet of climbing. It's bad enough that my legs were really tired but my butt is out of shape for a ride of that length, too. So, the Santa Clarita Century is out for this year but I have moved it on my calendar to next year.

That was yesterday. Today I had a run scheduled. I was originally planning on doing a 12-mile run but scaled that back to nine nice and easy miles. Things went well until mile four when I started feeling not so good. The next five miles were lots of running and walking. That's okay, though. It was the first time I had done a long run the day after a very long bike ride and doing hard workouts for the first time is always not fun. I learned a lot, though. I learned that I have a lot of training to do to get through the California Classic Weekend in May. For that I had planned to do the full century ride on Saturday before the half-marathon on Sunday. Now I"m wondering whether I should do the metric century instead. I'll see how the next month of workouts go before I make that decision.

So if I'm not ready for a long ride on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday, I'm obviously not ready for a half-iron distance race, either. Fortunately, I already know that. That race is not happening until October so I have lots of hard training to look forward to before then. But not only do I have to train for those two multi-sport events but I have the Two Cities Marathon in November that I have to train for. That's the balancing act.

So, after learning what kind of shape I'm in this weekend, here's the plan: I need more rides on the bike and longer ones, too. On weekends where I'm not doing my longest long run, I do at least a three hour bike ride on Saturday, followed by at least a nine mile run on Sunday, working up to have that run be thirteen miles or two hours (whichever is shorter) by September. On the weekend of my longest long run, that is done on Saturday with an easy (?) 42 mile ride on Sunday. Oh, and I need to do a lunchtime ride on the hills of Griffith Park at least once a week.

I'll have to start doing long brick runs eventually, too, but I can't think of that until the summer. Oh, and I need to practice long runs in the heat of high noon because that's what I'll be doing in October's race. More on that later.

That should keep me busy for a few months.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Report: IronBruin Triathlon 2011

Total Time: 1:26:27
Age Group: M 40-49
Age Group Rank: 14/44

Pre-race routine

This is my third time at the IronBruin, my first triathlon. In the last year my focus has been on the run, and it has paid off. Since this is such a hilly course, the question is how much has that focus taken away from my bike? I would expect to be faster just because I'm in better shape and have lost weight but probably not lots faster. I should be lots faster on the run, though. I should be a lot faster on the swim, too, because I pretty much couldn't do any swim training before last year's race.

My pre-race routine was my usual: last meal was a sandwich from Subway at 5 o'clock the evening before and making sure I stayed hydrated (but not over-hyrdrated) during the day. Packed up that night (using a checklist--everybody should do that). Woke up at 4am and had Nutella with banana on toast and a glass of Gatorade. Took a shower, shaved, got dressed, loaded the bike on the car, and left right at 5am, as planned.

Event warmup

Nice weather for that early in the morning in March. I mis-remembered the time T1 opened and got to it later than I should have. I did manage to score a good spot for my bike, though. The swim is a time trial start so even though my wave started at 7am, I knew I wouldn't be in the water for a least ten minutes after that so I waited until 6:55 to get in the warmup pool. Did 3x50 for a warmup, then headed down to the race and got in line. Froze in line for about ten minutes.


Distance: 400 meters
Time: 7:56

Good swim. Usually on the swim I get excited and breathe every stroke during the race. However, I kept to my breathing plan and swam along at a pretty good pace. Passed three people and was only passed by one so I was seeded just right. Kicked it up a bit more the last 100 meters and especially the last 50. The last guy I passed was in the last 30 meters. I could have just sat behind him to the end but I decided to go for it and passed him with about 5 meters to spare before it was time to get out.

What would you do differently?

To get faster in the swim I'm going to have to train more than once a week. However, my focus is still on the run then the bike, since that's where my biggest time gains can come from. Until I'm more satisfied with those two, the swim is going to suffer. Oh well.


Time: 0:35

Really good T1 (6th fastest overall). This was my first race with my new Specialized TriVent Sport shoes and it is SO nice to finally have triathlon shoes. There is a big downhill first thing on the bike and I held off on getting in my shoes until I reached the bottom. Getting in these shoes was a breeze compared to my cycling shoes. Woo hoo! Oh, it was also my first race with my XLab Super Wing behind my seat and, even though I didn't have cages on it, I was wondering if it would catch my leg as I hopped on the bike (yes, I had practiced getting on and off the bike with it but I still wasn't sure). It didn't.

What would you do differently?



Distance: 13.5 miles
Time: 49:50

I adore this bike course. It helps that I like downhills, am getting stronger and losing weight, and that I'm getting better at cornering. This was my first race with compact cranks and it was very nice to have finer control of my gears on that big uphill. I was breathing heavy the whole race but not in the red so I thought my pace was just right. My cornering was much better this year. I was passing and catching college students in the corners and in one 90 degree turn I saw that the Garmin kept above 20mph the whole time. This was also the first race where I used race tires (Michelin Pro3) so maybe that had something to do with being so sticky in the corners.

What would you do differently?

I'm actually a bit disappointed that I was just a couple of minutes faster than last year. I think I paced myself up the hills as if this was a longer race. Good for an oly but bad for a sprint. I should have destroyed my legs on the hills. Lesson learned.


Time: 0:57

In the past I have had problems with my shoes occasionally popping out of the pedals in T2 (size 48 shoes and 175 cranks). Because of some suggestions here I decided that once I got off the bike I would carry it to the rack. It was surprisingly easy to do! However, I did forget to undo my helmet while running. Racked the bike, got in my shoes fairly quickly, grabbed my race belt and visor and was off. This pre-buckling the belt and just sliding it over my head is such a time saver!

What would you do differently?

Unbuckle my helmet while running in, even if I am carrying my bike.


Distance: 5 kms
Time: 27:07

Good run for me. Four minutes faster than last year so I guess I've moved up from pathetic to merely slow. ;-) I felt pretty good out of transition and quickly got up to speed. I wasn't dying on the hills and I even passed three people. I was passed by three people so I call that even. I was passed by someone in my age group with a mile left but I didn't think I could keep up with him so I didn't try. I was pretty darned spent by the time I hit the finish line.

Oh, that guy who passed me? I ended up beating him overall by 29 seconds. He was faster than me on the run and bike and we were almost even on the swim. However, I was 2:42 faster than him in transition. Free speed, gang. You're crazy if you don't grab it.

What would you do differently?

When that guy passed me, I should have kept up with him. I don't know if I could have but he would have been a great rabbit and I might have found that I could keep up with him. I'm not convinced I truly know how hard I can push myself.

Post race

Warm down

Walked around the festival area, eating and drinking whatever was available. I gotta say, I may not want to spend money on one but a chocolate Muscle Milk after a race really hits the spot.

No post-race vision weirdness or dizziness. I don't know if that is because this was a sprint or I'm in better shape. I'll find out that the oly I'm planning for June.

Event comments

The post-race stuff was much better than the past two years. Maybe it helped that I was in the first wave but I was able to stuff myself with all the freebies.

All five segments of this race were faster than last year, so I'm pleased with that. The bike should have been faster but I'm learning.

The company doing the timing was pretty lame. Slow with the unsorted results. They've been posted but they're sorted even worse than the past couple of years. They also need a timing mat near the top of the big hill to make sure people do the full four laps on the bike.

One of my favorite races. I'll do it every year I'm able to.