Thursday, February 27, 2014

Your top end is shit & Race Report

This weekend went out to smash myself at a local race the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon.

My race was summed up perfectly by my coach's response afterwards, "Your top end is shit"

Luv it!  I'm not the type of athlete that likes to be coddled. I don't want a coach to tell me I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, or hold my hand.  I want an honest assessment, tell me how to improve and egg me on a little bit.  I want something, he will tell me bust your ass and get it done.  Thats why I've been so successful working with Lucho.

So race plan for this race is something that I keep saying I want to do but haven't been successful with.  Just go hard on the bike and see if I can hold it together in the run.  I got called out on the Endurance Planet podcast, talking about mistakes in first Ironman races and it was for going too easy on the bike.  I had an issue with my seat post slammed to the bottom the last 30 miles, but the first 80 odd miles I did take it easy, 5 beats below the top of my MAF range (zone 2ish), that unknown of the run looming.  I 100% agree I could have pushed that more, and most likely would have run the same time, everything from training says so.  I finished well in 10:56 but really with my fitness could have been around the 10 hour mark.

Where it really stands out is in my half Ironman racing...I pretty much did Ironman watts for every race, which is silly because its half the distance!  WAY too conservative if I want to be top of the podium in more than just my AG.  I always thought of myself as a runner so would back off when it started to burn, and even though my bike is faster in relation to the field now I never bet on it.

Anyways back to the race!  Ok bike, go hard, thats all that was going through my head.  I had a pretty solid warm up going into this, about 10 miles with some intervals above lactic threshold watts to get the legs warmed up and start the buffering process.  The previous 3 weeks I had put in some solid work, more time than I did in the lead up to Ironman last year so the legs weren't feeling fresh, but thats the fun part of these races just go hard, suffer and try to hold on :D  It was also my first time racing in my Hammer Nutrition kit, you cant miss me in this neon pink get up!  I used Hammer HEED to keep things topped off while doing my warm up, I also had some on the bike just for a sugar boost along the  way.

I was so excited to see Brandon and Theresa, they popped up to say hi when I was waiting for my wave to head off.  Seriously cool that they came out on a windy chilly day to cheer, met them through the MaccaX tri team and it is the most supportive group of people. Check out their blog!

The race format was a 10.8 mile bike, 4 mile run.  It was bizarre starting with the bike, I've always had to swim or run before the bike.  We started off in waves of 5-8 on 1 minute intervals, the buzzer when off and I went out hard.  I was in wave "P" going in alphabetical order, so there was a lot of passing people in the waves ahead.

I was going to try to build to my previous FTP.  I started solidly, HR was climbing, breathing was picking up, ok breathing harder now, omg I cant breathe!  At this point I was 3 minutes into the race...Yea legs are working hard, but not hard enough for such a short race, breath was coming in gasps even though HR wasn't really that high.  So Stiletto and I battled the wind, crazy bumpy roads to T2.

Stiletto and I battling the wind
Yup top end is shit.  What a minute, you mean if I don't train it, it wont magically be there on race day?  Huh, who'd have thunk it.  Use it or lose it people...I lost it.

Hopped off the bike in T2 wondering what the run legs would feel like, and unsurprisingly they were fine.  I know the goal was to go hard on the bike to see that my legs would still be fine on the run, but really I wasn't putting out that much power event though effort was at redline so I was pretty sure run legs would feel ok.  I got some side stitches during the first 2 miles of the run, couldn't get air.  The last two miles a woman came by me and I decided I was going with her, I knew she was in a wave ahead so if I could keep less than a minute between us I would finish ahead of her. That urged me on a bit more, but I didn't go to max on this run.  I had thought so much about bike and not about the run at all, so my head wasn't in the same place to push to the redline like I did on the bike, that was a mistake.

Seriously you cant miss me in this kit :p
I was coming up to the finishing shoot, and was so happy to see Brandon and Theresa there, felt like a super star as Brandon ran along side me in the finish cheering me through the last few meters and Theresa waiting for my photo op across the line :p  Thanks guys!!

Love these small casual local races, just go out there and bust it up.  Especially this duathlon series, its the most random formats and it was fun to start with the bike this time, especially after last times run/bik/run/bike/run (with helmet and bike shoes) transition practice format.  I had a blast, I ended up finishing 2nd in AG, 4th overall, I didn't do the first race so I had no standings in the series.  Have to say I was really impressed with how well it was run and marked, and the banana bread at the end was reason enough to come back!

Well this got me fired up for training, exactly what I needed, so time to get out there and put in a solid bike/run brick.

I'm good guys, just going to try to breathe

Carpe Diem!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Endurance Planet, Booze & Trail Running

So this is how I ended my last post:

" I can't believe some of the opportunities triathlon has opened up for me, you never know what is around the corner."

How true it is, I had an unexpectedly awesome weekend!  It started with a Podcast.  Endurance Planet is the first podcast I ever listened to, and I started listening shortly after Tawnee & Lucho hooked up for "Ask the Ultrarunner/Coaches" back in the end of 2011, before I even knew what order swim/bike/run was in a triathlon and was hoping to survive a marathon. 

Well this weekend Endurance Planets wicked host Tawnee Prezak came to visit chilly Colorado.  She put out the call on the podcast that she was coming up and looking to meet any Endurance Planet fans so I got in touch.  I was excited to meet her, love the podcast, awesome passionate triathlete and we're both coached by Lucho.  I figured we could commiserate over some of the crazy stuff he comes up with :p

Now like every time I seem to get together with triathletes, the events revolved around Beer :p  I swear I only drink around triathletes.  Tawnee's man John came along for the trip and he's a Beer enthusiast (not sure thats a strong enough word, he really knows his stuff!) so hitting up some local breweries was on the agenda.  Its been such a whorl wind getting set up in Denver, I haven't taken the time to explore some of the local attractions, and I have to say there are some pretty cool local breweries around here.  Check out Tawnee's blog for more details about the breweries!  

Tawnee & I

When you think Breweries, what’s the first thing you think of?  Obviously it's Kombucha...wait...what?  Randomness, I met up with Lucho, Tawnee and John at Crooked Stave and had my first taste of this stuff.  Now I've heard great things about how it can help with gut bacteria, but when you Google Kombucha this is the description, "a food supplement prepared from a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria that is added to tea for its alleged health benefits" Sounds yummy eh?  I figured because its good for me it must taste horrible (5 year old mentality coming out :p).  Luckily Tawnee insisted I try some tasted great!  Sweet, but bubbly nothing like the mould flavour I had imagined.  So I hightailed it over to Whole Paycheque to grab a few bottles, thanks for the new expensive habit Tawnee :p

The next day was definitely an adventure.  It had been the coldest week since I've arrived in Colorado, to the point I gave in and did a few treadmill runs last week.  What better way to spend an Saturday than enjoying it outside with freezing fog, temperatures below 20 degrees F on an icy trail?  Actually I couldn't think of a better way to spend it, it was an absolute blast and of course racked up a few bad ass points that day (you can trade those in race day for speed).  

So a group of ultrarunners and triathletes assembled in the freezing fog at Flatirons Vista to set off on an icy adventure.  Check out the video John shot of our adventure click here.
Neeraj, GZ, Lucho, Tawnee, John, Me

Lucho with his favourite athletes...ok he didn't say that but come on.... :p
No visibility!

The biggest shock of this run...Lucho ran :p  He had packed up his running clothes, started giving away running shoes, retired.  It was great to have him out there, he coaches Tawnee and I so it was cool to run with both of them.  Hoping to drag him out on some bike rides this season, so he can kick my ass on the road :)  We had another super star triathlete spotting on the run (Lucho being the 1st of course), Mary Beth Ellis was out there cruising in the snow with her dog making it look easy!  Only in Boulder...

He runs again!
Now the ultrarunners definitely knew how to get over this terrain, they made it look easy!  I know I was sliding all over the place, I think my core got more of a workout than anything else just recovering from near faceplants!  I haven't had so much fun training in a long time, it wasn't the crazy terrain but the company.  I think I need to make more of an effort to find some training partners.  I had an awesome group to train with in Midland, TX, that made even the most stomach turning brutal sessions a lot more enjoyable, but pretty much spent last year training by myself in Scotland.

We ended up cruising through just over 9 miles at 10:15 pace. This kind of running its definitely more about the time on your feet than mileage.  I'm absolutely going to be doing more trail running, just take speed out of the equation enjoy the scenery, go off effort and worry less about numbers. I was super impressed with Tawnee and John coming up here to run at elevation, I was knocked on my ass for months after moving up here and they just cruised through it!

What do you do after a frosty run?  Head to a brewery in Boulder of course!  We hit up Southern Sun for some refreshments and food.  Chill ski lodge like place that was made even better by good conversation and food. John ordered some beer samplers, I'm definitely digging the beer sampling, and we tasted some of their specialties.  The stand out one for me was a Mint Stout, it was bizarre, tasted like a thin mint!

I love it, the randomness, new experiences, epic conditions and good beer, what more could you ask for?  I'll say it again, never know what is around the corner with this triathlon adventure, the people, experiences, places its taken me have been an unexpected bonus to this crazy sport.  Maybe next time I'll be blogging from Taiwan, I have no plans to travel there but insane stuff like last minute races in exotic locations just seems to happen lol. 

Carpe Diem!

Thankfully It warmed up a bit in Denver this week!

Left is Sundays snow run, by Thursday warm and sunny!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Swimming with the World Champion!

I'll tell ya who at the bottom, its not Macca this time :p

Ok sports fans, its time to get serious!

I was told I'm too slow, to join a swim squad I was hoping to join to get faster.  Huh.  I don't like being told I'm not good enough, it wasn't a shock I know my swim is mediocre on a good day but doesn't mean I like hearing it.

So what am I going to do about it?  I'm going to grow gills, start sporting eau de chlorine, do what it takes to get faster in the water.  No more of this flailing up and down the pool lane just to get through the swim workouts so I can get on the bike or run.

Last year when I was doing 6 hour 70.3's I didn't think my swim really mattered much.  I had so much to gain on the bike and run it just seemed better to spend the time and effort taking an hour off the bike/run instead of 10 minutes off my swim.  Now it matters.  If I want to be a top Age Group athlete I can't come out of the water a half hour down on my competition, as much fun as it is endlessly passing people on the bike I need to be in the game a lot earlier.

So game plan.

FOCUS! We've all been guilty of this, you have a workout on the schedule you know you need to get it done but your head isn't really there.  You finish the workout, but just surviving it, not giving it 100%, knowing you could have done more.  That was pretty much every swim for me, I would get in the pool and survive, instead of thrive.  I've been getting better at staying mentally engaged, and really focussing on what I'm doing in the water.  Which lead me to the next step, I didn't know what I was doing wrong so I needed to find out what to focus on.

Swim Analysis.  I should have done this forever ago! I've never had swimming lessons so my teacher was YouTube videos.  When I would have people take a look at my stroke they would say they didn't see anything crazy wrong, even Siri told me the same so I assumed I just needed to get more fit.

Well I finally went to Swim Labs in Denver and got an analysis done.  It was so cool/bizarre.  They have a pretty slick set up with a room full of endless pools.  Then there is a mirror in front of you and one on the bottom of the pool, along with a camera in front of you and another one along side you.  So you get to see every angle.  Then they have you swim and take a short video, review the angles with you and then show you what it is supposed to look like side by side showing your video and olympic swimmers from the same angle.  Then have you do drills or try to imitate the stroke you just saw.  The crazy part is you feel you're doing something drastically different but you see it on the video and your arm has maybe moved an inch from what it was doing before!  I'm not sponsored by them or anything I just thought it was so cool the set up they have.

Which was good because my issue is below the water.  I'm giving up a ton of pulling power half way through my stroke to the end.  So now that I know what to work on, I can focus on it.  I tried swimming in a speed workout (I cringe when I see Speed swim on my schedule) using the recommended form and holy crap are my triceps sore!  It feels totally awkward, but I was able to go faster, although fatigued more quickly because I'm not used to using those muscles.  I'll be going back next week to Swim Labs to see if what I'm doing now more closely resembles swimming than my unique flailing stroke :)

I've been told I should embrace my swimming, see it as my friend, learn to love it.  I'm going a different direction.  I perform best when I'm fuelled by competition or have something to prove, so I'm going to own my swim, attack my weakness.

So who was the World Champion I got to swim with?  Mirinda Carfrae!  I swam with Siri and her crew of unbelievably talented Ironman women.  It was unreal to get to see these women in action in the pool, they are fast, but have a pretty cool team environment.  I would think that would be challenging come race day but Siri knows what she's doing, can't argue the results they get!  It was very cool I chatted afterwards with Mirinda and Amanda Stevens and they were great.  Definitely one of those surreal moments.  I can't believe some of the opportunities triathlon has opened up for me, you never know what is around the corner.

Carpe Diem