Sunday, June 24, 2012

Y Freedom Tri 2012 (Pre-race)

I'm looking forward to doing the Y Freedom Tri next weekend and, at the risk of seeming a bit self-serving, I wanted to do a review of the only triathlon that I've during every year since I've started with the sport. This is a small, low-key race on the other side of Houston from me, but it is also a lot of fun! What they lack in having a pretty unremarkable course, they more than make up for with a first class post-race celebration--including an ice cold towel waiting for you at the finish!

In 2009 the Y Freedom Tri was the second triathlon I ever did and came just under 2 months after my first triathlon. I seem to recall doing at least as well as I expected and finished in 1:33:08.

In 2009 this became the first triathlon that I repeated. I was back with a new bike and more confidence as this was now my sixth triathlon over all and my second for the year. As I recall I had just registered for Ironman Texas 2011 the week before the race. I improved across the board and finished in 1:18:06.

In 2011 I was coming off Ironman Texas and was a bit unsure of my complete recovery for this race at the time of registration. In addition, my friend Karen was becoming interested in triathlon. Karen and I did this as a relay where I did the swim and bike and she did the run. Together we finished in 1:05:55 and got first place in the relay division.

This year both Karen and I are returning, though as individual triathletes. Karen will be doing her second triathlon and I've stopped counting but am probably around 18 by this race  (Wow! Life sure has changed in many ways in that time for me.).

That bring us to this year. Like last year, I am not completely recovered for this race. Although I am certainly recovered enough to complete this race decently well, I can't be sure at this point that I will be able to keep up a race effort for the entire race (though I will try).

My comparisons to the previous race are as follows:

Swim....7:25......6:43.......6:30    (swim times include a run to transition)

So, what are my goals? First off I would like a big PR over my 2011 time of 1:18:06, and quite honestly I SHOULD do that barring injury or equipment troubles. I estimate that I probably could have finished in the 1:08-1:10 range if I had done a solo race. I'm also reaching a point of diminishing returns in terms of improvement. Maybe I can drop 30-40 seconds off my swim time and I could possibly drop a couple minutes off my bike time from last year. Realistically, however, my run is where I have room for the most improvement and could still drop a good number of minutes from my 2010 time that I last ran the course.
I'm going to take the unusual (for me) step and lay out all my hopes and expectations for this course here we can see how it all shakes out.

Swim: 6:15
Bike: 31:25
T2: 1:30
Run: 24:30
Total Race Time: 1:05:00

I'll be back next week to report how things went.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Recovery and Getting Back to Training

Ironman recovery is a bit of a bumpy road.I'm slowly getting to where I feel recovered, but at times I can tell that full recovery is a ways off.

Fortunately, I've been able to enjoy more weekend breakfasts with my wife in the weeks since IMTX than I had with her in the previous several months combined. In addition, I've had times where I've felt far more tired than normal, though I've also had times where I've felt completely outstanding. I know this is all normal as my body readjusts and completes recovery. Some days are good and some days remind me just how much more recovery time I need. In the midst of the good days I can tell I have made gains in overall fitness during my Ironman training and the less good days remind me that I am not quite ready to enjoy the fullness of those quite yet.

My workouts have all just started to pick up in intensity this past week. For the first time in many months, I did a short running speed session. My hope for this session was to run the 1 mile time trial in under 7 minutes. After setting a 5K PR last November while averaging around 8 minutes per mile, I was hoping that I could hold a fast pace for a sub-7 minute mile on this day. While I kept an occasional eye on my heart rate I avoided watching the time on my watch. My efforts for this workout were meant to be bound by maximum effort and not a specific goal time, and I didn't want to know what my time was during the workout in case it might alter my effort level during the workout.

This run came at the conclusion of heavy storms in the local area, storms which blew through quickly and knocked down many trees. However, these storms also helped me out a bit by lowering the temperature from the high evening temperatures that are normal this time of year. Throughout this workout I pushed consistently hard, while holding back just enough to be able to complete these laps at the hard effort.

As I came to the end of the workout I hit my watch lap timer to end the mile session and saw what would have otherwise seemed unbelievable--yet, I also knew it to be true. I had completed my 1 mile time trial session in 6:21.

As someone who couldn't run half as fast several years ago, the impact of this workout is a bit of a shock to me. Five years ago, I would have been hard pressed to run a sub-12 minute mile. Times have certainly changed for me in more ways than one. I have put together several years of slow but steady improvements from my now long-gone former very out of shape self. I also found that I took a solid step forward when I cleared the recovery of Ironman Texas 2011 because of the training program that led up to the race. It looks like I am seeing the signs of another solid step forward following Ironman Texas 2012.

I know my current recovery training will likely still have more ups and downs in the next week or two, but for now one thing is certain---this was indeed one of the good days!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ironman Texas Recovery and Getting Back to Business

Two weeks (actually 15 days, to be more exact) after completing Ironman Texas for the second time I am wrapping up my initial recovery period and will be moving on to a period of active recovery and training. Since IMTX I've done just three workouts--one each of a relatively light swim, bike and run. I have resisted the urge to do more and almost had to force myself at times to be cognizant of the need to rest my body after nearly 6 months of IM training, including a 39.3 mile Goofy Challenge, a 50 mile trail run, my first sub 6 hour half Ironman and a 4:06 PR marathon. I still have more plans for the rest of the year and need to be careful about easing back into training the right way.

My goals for the rest of the year include several more triathlons over the summer--2 sprint distances that I've done during previous years, and perhaps an Olympic distance triathlon. I also want to make a solid effort this fall at setting a new marathon PR. Currently my two main options for this target marathon are the Marine Corps Marathon (October 28) and the San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon (November 11). It would be really nice to do the MCM, but it has greater logistical hurdles (and the trip to D.C. would be several times more expensive than a trip to San Antonio).

My goal for that marathon is to push my PR to the best time that I can get. My 4:06 marathon in March was something I would not have believed possible until recent months. Given that I did this while I was in IM training, it is reasonable to expect that I can run under 4 hours, or even better, under more ideal circumstances.

However, my personal growth in my training has led to personal growth in my expectations. I have come to realize that the greatest limits upon me are those that I have placed upon myself. I'd like to try to become more aggressive in my goals and in my results. I fear that setting some goals could become too self-fulfilling, meaning that I could work towards and accomplish a goal that is less aggressive than that which I might otherwise be capable of achieving. Maybe 4:06 will be the best that I could do on a marathon course, but what if I am for 4:00 and hit 3:58, or aim for 3:50 and hit 3:45, .....when I might otherwise have been able to succeed with a time that seems so unreasonable that I would never try to make it a goal.

At this point I'm going to try to accept one thing about my race goals: I will resolve to race at my maximum effort and not be bound by any preconceived notion of a time goal. I will train and race by one philosophy and expectation--NO LIMITS!!