Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Training Recap

Here is my recap for a very tiring month of April which was, as expected, even more tiring than the month of March.

Total Swim Distance 38,740 yards (22.01 miles) in 15:02:46
Total Bike Distance 431.09 miles (including spin bike sessions) in 27:40:40
Total Run Distance 100.93 miles in 20:38:17
Total Training Distance 554.03 miles (wow!)

The end of April nearly coincides with the end of the main portion of my training program with the pre-race taper beginning after the May 1st run workout. Next month's schedule begins with tapering my way into the Ironman Texas race. Part of me feels like it is about time the race got here and part of me can hardly believe it is almost here. My main observation about my April training is that even though I was quite often tired, I also seemed to be able to find the energy to put together faster workouts.

Instead of an end of month summary for May, I hope to post a summary for the 20 week training program which began on January 1, 2011.

21 days left until Ironman Texas....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hitting the Training Wall

I am hitting the end of the final build phase of my training this week--and I sure can feel it. I feel as if I have hit a wall and am still pushing to go right through it.

It's no longer just waking up tired most of the time, these last two weeks I have slept through my alarm more than once (and had to move a morning workout to a time later in the day). However, when the actual workout comes along, I seem to have no problem setting aside (mentally and physically) everything else in order to put together a quality workout.

I go through these strange phases where I have no hunger, and then am starved to the point of almost not being able to be satiated, and then go a long period without being hungry again.

After several weeks of feeling just about perfect I seem to be having the occasional aches and pains that are fairly typical of training. If anything I should probably be surprised that my body has held up this well for this long. Over these last few months I have gotten my body into the best conditioning it has had for close to 20 years, if not a few years longer, and have had a minimal amount of problems along the way. However, I may be reaching as far as I can go before the cumulative effects of my training program begin to weigh me down. My response this week has been to pull out any trick I can think of to help out--squeeze in some more sleep, greater use of compression gear, ice bath, whirlpool treatment, massage appointment later this week food overall and eating more quality. In addition, my coach and I have selectively skipped a couple workouts to try to avoid hitting that over-training point that might cause actual injury. I should also try to keep in mind the positives I have gained over this training period already. These include making new friends and training partners, losing 20-25 pounds that moved me off of a stubborn weight loss plateau that I had been near previously and gaining great confidence in my abilities to swim, bike and run anywhere at anytime.

Next week starts my pre-race taper period. Although my training will start to reduce, I suspect it will hardly be a restful week. More likely it will just be a bit less intense and not quite so long as recent weeks, but that is still a start.

I think the key thing for me to remember right now is that my training is mental preparation as well as physical preparation. Theses tough periods will help make sure that I have the right mental preparation for a long race day. How long? Well, that is a question that will be answered in 24 days......

Sunday, April 24, 2011

IMTX Training Week 16

This was Week 16 of Ironman Texas Training. This week is to be the next to last of my heavier training weeks before entering the taper period.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 10,400 yards, 3:52:18
Bike - 94.20 miles on trainer and roads, 5:12:31
Run - 24.82 miles, 5:19:32
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, including race transition times, 0:00:00

Overall training time: 14:24:21

This was my best week so far in terms of how I felt about my overall performance in training. I felt I was stronger and faster in each sport this week--I even swam 700 more yards more than last week in less time this week. I really would have thought that my overall time for training would have been higher, but I think a large part of that is that almost every workout was done in less time than expected this past week. In some ways I really feel like everything is beginning to come together for me in this training program! I am still frequently tired, but I seem to be able to dig down inside and find the strength to pull out the effort needed for each workout. Fortunately, I am also feeling generally healthy as I have gotten to this point; I have occasional aches and pains, but no real injuries.

Still it was not a perfect week, I missed a bike workout early in the week when I was so tired I slept through my alarm the second day in a row (fortunately I managed to get up a bit late the previous day and still got that workout in). I think my coach took this as a sign that I needed the rest and did not want me to make it up later in the week. Best of all, I was still able to schedule around my anniversary and have a great night out with my wife, who had been very tolerant of my training schedule so far even though I know she would like to see more of me these days.

Next week is the last building training week of my program before beginning the pre-race taper period. I am so excited that I can hardly believe the race is finally getting here!!

I am 80% done with my training and have 27 days until Ironman Texas.....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

IMTX Training Week 15

This was Week 15 of Ironman Texas Training. This week was leading into the big groups training ride of the IMTX bike course this weekend. Presently, I am in the peak training period for the 20 week IMTX training program.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 9,700 yards, 3:54:31
Bike - 134.0 miles on trainer and roads, 8:13:05
Run - 30.44 miles, 6:20:25
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, including race transition times, 0:00:00

Overall training time: 18:28:01

This was my biggest week so far in terms of total training time, as well as training time and distance for each event, excepting 1 week where my swim distance was slightly longer by 900 yards. The big items this week were my longest run to date in the program, 17.52 miles on Thursday, and then Sunday's ride of the IMTX bike course (aka the "Got 112?" event). I went into the ride with a goal to ride in heart rate Zone 2 as much as possible, which I did almost exclusively. I also hoped to be able to ride close to 7 hours, which I did at 6:58:46.

Next week won't be much easier. I will have slightly reduced workouts overall, however they culminate in my second longest swim on Friday afternoon, and then follow-up with a 75 mile bike/8 mile run brick workout on Saturday. On the plus side I do get Easter Sunday off as a rest day and a relatively easy day on Thursday for my anniversary.

34 days until Ironman Texas.....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Richard's Laws of Training

Being 100 days into my 20 week (i.e. 140 day) training plan, I have had a lot of time to dwell on my training--although most of that dwelling on my training has been during my training as my mind wanders beyond the workout that is underway. During this time I have developed my personal Laws of Training, which were unwritten until now. As I inadvertently quoted one of them to my training coach today, I figured it was time to put them into writing.

Richard's Training Law 1: Don't be afraid to question the coach.
The coach is not God and therefore above being questioned, whether it is because I happen to disagree with what was assigned or (more likely) I just want some clarification on the goals/purpose of the workout.

Richard's Training Law 2: Be willing to change the workout when necessary.
I am the one paying the coach. It is my decision to do the workouts planned by the coach how I see fit based on how I feel and the other conditions in my life. However, I must also remember that going "off plan" is not to be done lightly as I then lose the benefit of the coach's experience and training.

Richard's Training Law 3: Don't be afraid to succeed.
Just because a workout looks hard or goes beyond what you might expect is your limit is no reason to not try to do it. In this way the fear of failing to succeed in a tough workout could actually prevent you from expanding your personal limits through new and unexpected successes.

For what it's worth, it was # 3 that I quoted to my coach today as I was assigned a swim workout beyond any distance that I have completed to date. In the end, I completed the 4700 yard swim in 1:47:31, which was also a good bit faster than I would have expected.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

IMTX Training - Weeks 13 & 14

Due to my other blog posts last week (and my busy schedule) I am reporting on the last 2 weeks of training in this single blog post.

Two weeks back was Week 13 of Ironman Texas Training. This week was leading into the Kemah International Triathlon on the last day of the training week.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 7,640 yards, 2:56:17
Bike - 47.8 miles on trainer and roads, 2:45:34
Run - 19.2 miles, 3:36:01
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, including race transition times, 0:44:49

Overall training time: 10:02:41, which includes race time.

If it were up to me, I would have put together a regular training week and gone through the motions of the race at the upper end of my heart rate training zone and been happy to call it practice. However, my coach had other ideas. She assigned me a decreasing schedule for the week leading into the race, and then told me to "go for it!" I did as she told me and was happy with a 12+ minute PR, over 10 minutes of which was improved run time--not to mention setting a 10K run PR on the run portion of the triathlon.

Week 14 began with some recovery time as I got back into training following the race at Kemah.
Swim - 6,100 yards, 2:25:17
Bike - 102.55 miles on trainer and roads, 6:29:47
Run - 12.0 miles, 2:40:50
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, 0:15:00

Overall training time: 11:50:54

Generally speaking, I end this week feeling much better than I started it. My coach dropped one running workout due to my fatigue levels late in the week. I also got a bit more rest when I had to cut my Sunday long run from 10.0 miles to 7.25 miles due to a minor emergency at my father's house (a plumbing repair which I was able to remedy for him). I considered a second run later in the day to finish out my 10 miles, although in the end I decided not to do so as I would hate to push myself and cause an inadvertent injury.

So, now I am heading into Week 15 looking at my longest training week yet. Among this week's assigned workouts are my longest run to date for this program (17 miles) and another 112 mile bike ride--this time a semi-supported team bike ride on the entire IMTX course. I guess you will have to check back here in a week to see if I survive!

41 days until Ironman Texas!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kemah International Distance Triathlon

This past weekend was the Kemah International Distance Triathlon (formerly known as the Gateway to the Bay Triathlon). I went into the race primarily as a practice tune-up for Ironman Texas in 7 weeks, but also hoping to set a new PR while following a heart rate goal. My personal goals for the race were to use my planned Ironman nutrition strategies and to finish between 3:00:00 and 3:10:00.

I spent the night at the local Holiday Inn and was less than 2 blocks from the transition area. After getting ready in the evening I had trouble sleeping for no specific reason. Right before midnight I suddenly think that I did not get my swim goggles out and realize that I do not have them. Apparently I left them at the gym during a final warm up swim that morning. Fortunately, I have a backup pair in my swim bag in my car. These were a pair I tested a few weeks back that work okay, but sometimes didn't quite seal perfectly. In the end they are better than nothing.

I wake up early--as usual on race day with 3 alarms--though the first one is enough. I make it out to the transition area just after it opens and get set up pretty quickly. After it nears transition closing time I walk over to the big paddleboat that they are going to use to take us out to the swim start. This start is one where they take us straight offshore.

Once the race started I had about 30 minutes until my wave went off and then I stayed farther back in my wave to take my time. Overall, I felt I did pretty well. The water was choppy and there was a bit of cross-current, but I kept a pretty straight line all the way to shore. I posted a time of 33:06, which is a few minutes slower than I had hoped, however it was still about 30 seconds faster than last September's Austin Triathlon time which was under much easier swim conditions. However, comparative swim times for most people were several minutes slower for Kemah compared to Austin for most so I must be showing personal improvement to buck that trend and have a faster time.

As I moved on to the bike I noticed that the wind had definitely picked up, I estimate around 15 mph for much of my time on the bike. This led to slow times into the wind and fast times with the wind. Overall I posted a time about 1 minute slower than in Austin, which did disappoint me slightly, but considering the wind that may have been the best I could do that day and stay within my heart rate guidelines. I did have one mishap on the bike, which was fortunately not a problem with me.
As I was mounting my bike and before I clipped into the pedals I got pushed from behind by a guy not watching and had to find the pedals before I fell over as I moved slowly forward. Fortunately, I kept control and was fine, however from this photo you can see the guy standing sideways across the path as he tried to reposition himself and was blocking the way of others.

Coming into the run I knew that my two good transitions were the difference in my time being slightly under Austin's previous time. However, I was still on my plan and I felt as good as I have in any triathlon at this point. As I set out on the run I try to move smoothly and not push too hard. It turns out that I push through Mile 1 in about 9:30, which was a pleasant surprise. Then around the 1.5 mile mark I had a chance conversation with a fellow runner coming up from behind and realize that it is someone I know. Ingrid and I spend a mile or so together chatting before she pulls ahead of me. Anyway, as Mile 2 rolls by I realize that is another 9:30 mile. By this time I am running by the Kemah Boardwalk area with the roller coaster and the Bay around me. Miles 3 and 4 get a bit tougher but go by around 10:00 each. Finally, comes the last part of the run which takes us over the BIG bridge linking Kemah and Seabrook across the Bay. This is one tall bridge to run over--and I do run over it. I am able to pass quite a few runners who are humbled by this bridge, which pleases me to no end. I love this photo where I had just blown by this guy from Bay Area Multisport (aka BAM!) who was suffering as I was smiling for the photo! Finally, after going up the hill, down the hill, looping around and back up and down again.....I am about 2/10 of a mile from the end. I try to pick up my pace a bit and head on through the finish in 1:03:21, which actually represents a 10K PR time for me as well.
In the end I finish in 3:06:14, over a 12 minute PR time for the distance (powered mostly by a 10 minute run improvement!).

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Totals

Here is my very brief recap for a very tiring month of March (as I look forward to an even more tiring month of April!).

Total Swim Distance 32,800 yards (18.64 miles)
Total Bike Distance 359.15 miles (including spin bike sessions)
Total Run Distance 111.11 miles
Total Training Distance 488.90 miles (wow!)

Next month's schedule includes increasingly long training runs and a bike ride of the complete Ironman Texas course, plus a lot of swimming as well. If I am fortunate enough to survive the month of April, it will be just about time to start the pre-race taper period.....


Four years ago today (i.e. April 1, 2007--quite appropriately on April Fool's Day) I ran my first half marathon with my brother, since that time I have finished nearly 50 running and triathlon events. It is only recently that I figured out that I have achieved victory over the lofty goals I set for myself, and then I just kept on moving forward even more--all with the support of my family and the many friends I have picked up along the way.

Back in my first blog post for this blog (way back in September 2007) I was at a major transition point in my life and hoped that, among the many other things that I hoped to accomplish, I could "lose the 80 or so extra pounds I have gained over quite a few years".

I have had good and bad training sessions and good and bad events, and have no idea how many miles I have covered--although I could eventually figure this out as I have them logged! Many of these times I was driven mostly by the desire to try to regain my life from the nearly 270 lbs (or maybe more since I rarely stepped near--much less on--a scale) I weighed at one time.

I started out hoping the long held and deeply repressed dream of running a marathon one day could be enough leverage to get me beyond the initial training events of my first few months (a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon in the first 13 weeks). What happened was that a wonderful world of new friends opened up that was always right in front of me, but yet I had always failed to notice. I am not fast, but I am no longer slow; I can equally look forward to a 3 or a 13 mile run with friends; I often enjoy the socializing more than the actual training I do with friends.....but most of all, I really have found that the friends I have met along the way are some of the most wonderful people in the world and that much of what I have been able to do would have been impossible to do without their support.

My dreams have moved on; these days I dream of Ironman and multiple marathon events, and laughingly think of this coming weekend's Olympic Distance triathlon as a training race, but rest assured that I understand that I know I move forward buoyed by the support of my friends and family--even if many of them don't truly understand how much I appreciate their support and how important it has been to me over these years.

For what it's worth, my old adversary the bathroom scale now seems a bit more friendly as I regard him with less importance. I choose instead to gauge myself by fitness than by weight--and I could certainly afford to about 10 lbs more from my midsection. However, after years of trying, and sometimes not believing I would succeed, I have gotten under 185 lbs and am wearing the same size pants I wore as a Marine over 20 years ago.

My friends, there has always been at least one of you there to share my running ups and downs, from helping me up from injury or holding me in my tears as I was unable to run after experiencing the loss of someone close and in the successes of completing tough events and setting new race PRs; and for these things I am most grateful! Thank you one and all!