Sunday, February 5, 2012

Back to Being a Triathlete

Now that I am no longer training for a marathon and am doing a sprint triathlon on March 4, it's back to being a triathlete. What does that mean?

Swimming. Back into the pool for the first time since August. I now have a 50mX25y pool five minutes away from my apartment. Not only does this allow me to have longer workouts but it means I can train more days a week than before, so that is what I have been doing. I am swimming Monday and Friday mornings at 5:30am, and Wednesdays after work. Before, I would have to take off from work and could only get in a 45 minute work and still I'd be gone for two hours. Not very efficient. In just two weeks of this routine I am already stronger. My goal for the race (just four weeks away) is not to just be faster (last year I did the race practically untrained on the swim) but to not be so tired from the swim when I start the bike (a lesson learned from last year's Hansen Dam Tri).

Cycling. The IronBruin is all about hills and turns. Downhills and turns I have down, it's the uphills I have to work on. I am training for that in two ways: riding up hills (duh!) and losing weight. I am actually weighing myself each week and the weight is coming off. I'm not going to get under 200# by race time but I should be lighter than I ever have been at this race.

Running. The run at UCLA is a bit hilly so it is time to face the enemy head-on: hill repeats. I have dropped my mileage down so that my long runs are now 10K and my runs now include hills and some fartlek work (just a little now, hopefully more soon). An added benefit of the speed and hill work (both on the bike and the run) is it aids with fat loss. I feel great on the runs and stronger on the hills (hills are never easy).

From all that marathon training I have a good aerobic base to work with. Let's see if I can speed things up a bit.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Report: Carlsbad Half Marathon

Woke up bright and early at 4:30. Drank a little bit and waited for my stomach to settle down. At about 5 I put some running clothes on and went for a little run outside to shake things up a bit. I was surprised to find that it didn't feel very cold at all. Got back, changed from tights to shorts, packed up, and drove to the race start.

Sat in my car and listened to podcasts for a while when finally, my body decided it needed to use a porta potty. Got out of my car and immediately noticed that it was a lot colder than when I went for my short run. By the time I made it to the porta potties I was shivering. Not that long ago I was feeling smug about my cold weather training preparing me for days like this. Nope. Got back to the car and I had to solve a problem: shorts were not going to cut it at the start of the race (I knew they'd be okay after a few miles but I'd have to stand around the start area for a while and I didn't want to be shivering uncontrollably when the gun went off) so how was I going to get into my tights? The answer: very discreetly in my car. It didn't help that there was a couple in the car next to me but after making sure nobody else was around, I just went for it.

By the time my wave (#3) started, I was still pretty cold but it could have been a lot worse. I settled in behind the 2:00 pace leader and we were off. I would fall back a bit on the uphills but then catch up on the downhills. It wasn't easy but it was do-able. After a couple of miles I did notice that my Garmin and others around me would beep at the same time (at mile intervals--mine was actually set for two) but the course mile markers were a bit farther down the road. Interesting. Anyway, things were okay. The course was hillier than I thought it would be but that's probably because, at over 200#, hills are my enemy more so that most people.

At 6.55 miles in, I checked the Garmin and saw that I was exactly on a 2:00 pace, though I was falling behind the pace leader. Had to pick up the pace to catch up. So many uphills. At the 9.5 mile mark I was facing the longest uphill of the day, I was falling way behind the pace leader, my stomach was complaining that I was going to fast, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it so I started, as they say in cycling, "going backwards". I slowed down and people started passing me left and right. At the 11 mile mark my plantar fasciitis kicked in for real and I was looking at two more miles of painful running. I was just looking to finish.

I ended up with a 2:11:16, which is slower than the half I did the day after riding 100 miles. Ouch. That's okay, though. If you look at my mile 7 split, you can see that I was only just off the 9:09 pace I needed to make two hours. I was on track but then got derailed. Oh, the Garmin showed the course being 1/10 mile longer than 13.1 miles. Don't know what to believe.

The race was the largest I have ever participated in. 8,468 participants for both the full and the half. Starts were staggered by waves based on your predicted time so the race didn't seem all that big. Nice race right by the ocean. You can see video of my straggling to the finish line at about the 15 second mark here. I look awful because I wore my FuelBelt rather than live off the course (they had grape-flavored something and I didn't want to find out if my stomach would be happy with it during the race).

What would I have done differently. Need to get serious about losing weight. Need to stop avoiding hills and start working them. Need to back off the mileage and fix this plantar fasciitis. Oh, and find a really flat half, and I think I have.