Monday, November 10, 2008
Whew!!! The Silverman is definitely a challenge and certainly earns it billing of "the toughest course in North America". Without further delay, here are the details of my training day:
Total calories out (calculated): 5812
Swim 1:20 max 152 avg 138
Bike 6:02 max 162 avg 145
The swim conditions vary widely. I swam at Boulder Beach (unprotected part of the course near the turnaround) the day before the race without a wetsuit. The water temperature was perfect and I was surprised at the reported reading. The water is very clear with 20 ft visibility and smooth as glass. Race day was quite different and lived up to all of the hype.
The course is L shaped (Imagine the “L” standing on its short leg with the long leg pointing to the left). The initial out section is with the current and reasonably fast. Every turn buoy is yellow, which helps with navigation. The long out and back section can be more challenging to navigate. Not only does it whitecap here, but the narrow distance between the out and back buoys makes them very easy to confuse when sighting. The long return section was definitely more difficult b/c of the current and conditions, but nothing like the short return leg. I’m not certain if it was mostly conditions, but there was a much larger current and bigger swells. My time on this short section was equal to one of the longer legs. The swim was very humbling and reminiscent of my first Ironman swim.
Note: I certainly didn’t need a full wetsuit. This is the first time I’ve worn one since 2003. It was very confining and far too hot. When I got out of the water, I wasn’t surprised to see my swim time... See comment above re: IM Brazil 1:36 swim in 2003.
The initial hill climb out of T1 is challenging. It is very difficult to keep the hr rate low, even with a restrained effort. Once on main road, there is 11 miles of rollers leading up to the right hand turn. Not a lot of opportunity to get settled. There is a tail and crosswind. I rode with a front 808 and a disc. Unless you are very comfortable with crosswinds, this can be daunting choice. This dilemma begs the question of deciding between what your capable and what is prudent-I technically had no issues with the wheel choice, but spent a considerable time riding leaning over. Despite a conscious effort to relax my upper body, it got a good workout. If I would have run, my trunk was fatigued, and that would have made a tough run more difficult. I’ve not ridden a tri spoke, but the combined climbing and little aero loss should at least make this a consideration.
The out and back section is a continuous section of climbing and descending. There are no steep climbs; instead, just moderately long stretches of false flats to climb and descend. The road surface is pristine until about mile 40. At this juncture, it is turns to chip seal and is very bumpy with many places that are too uneven to sit through. The 10 miles to the turnaround and back is where I first fell considerably off pace despite a constant effort.
Milepost 85, or the last five miles back to the original turn off, was the second considerably slow section. There is a long gradual climb and headwind. Unfortunately it never gets easier during the remaining portion of the bike ride. After a short section back on the highway, you reach a section literally on a bike trail. The bike trail beginning marks the location of the “3 sisters”, a series of short climbs reportedly reaching the 18% grade. Short of one sustained downhill for a few miles, the last 22 miles are relentless. You are constantly turning and climbing and going through repeated stop signs, traffic lights, and neighborhoods.
I’m glad I did this reconnaissance. I’m sure my less than optimal condition affected my perception, but I really have a lot of respect for the guys that completed the day. This is hands down the most difficult course I’ve encountered.
In one of my upcoming posts, I will address my thoughts on how to improve the medical care you receive. The challenges I faced the last several months with jaw pain were difficult; I have the deck stacked in my favor with excellent health insurance and job as a physician…I empathize with those who don’t have those luxuries.
Hopefully onto a more restful winter,
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The first is about a parent of 3 adopted children that I’ve cared for. Laura finished her first triathlon this year. She got the bug to run a local NC running race and followed that up with her first triathlon. The race director forwarded me a link to a video she made following the race. This video reminds me why I started doing triathlons: to get in to shape and have fun with my brother. It is also a humble reminder that at the end of my work day, I’m lucky to go home and put in a few hours of training. Laura’s kids require care and attention around the clock; a true 24 hour/day job. And she always does it with a smile. Triathlon truly is a privilege.
The second is more personal. After 4 ½ months of jaw pain necessitating multiple dental/endodontist/PCP/neurologist/ENT/oral surgeon appt’s, 5 sets of normal panaromic dental xrays, head & neck CT scan and MRI, months of multiple medications too many to list, repeated blood work, a scheduled biopsy of my mandible next week, all culminated with a trip to the ER on Thurs night/Fri am. After a couple of rounds of dilaudid not relieving the pain, a nerve block finally did the trick. Despite no classical signs of “irreversible pulpitis” (the reason we have root canals) I had one Friday morning as a last ditch effort. Pain gone…enough so, that we decided to go ahead with our plans to check out Silverman this weekend. Ever the optimist, I had sent my back down last week to be built up by the LBS. I still plan to recon the course; we will see how that goes given I’m having a bit of issue as we speak as a result of a weeks worth of Clindamycin wreaking havoc on my normal intestinal flora. Regardless, the absence of the discomfort that I’ve been experiencing since this past June is priceless. It is amazing how much we take for granted and how quickly it can all go away. What am I’m even more amazed is that I’m a physician…I can’t even imagine what a poor soul who had a less insight than I has to go through with a less than clear medical problem.
It seems a trivial to report the last time point on the MBT, but ever the academician…this was the only session this week; it is crazy what we do when we have a sense of obligation.
Here you go:
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
10/13 180 60 min 131
10/20 180 60 min 130
10/27 180 60 min 140
11/3 180 60 min 137
Enjoy the day,
Monday, October 27, 2008
Not surprisingly, the downward hr trend did not continue. During the first 4 weeks of progressive volume, I was successful in gaining an appropriate amount of fatigue. This resulted in a depressed hr for the given effort. After a short rest, my hr response returned to what historically I would expect for the work required for my ironman bike output.
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
10/13 180 60 min 131
10/20 180 60 min 130
10/27 180 60 min 140
Given the lack of a big build and deeper fatigue, I'm going to have a couple of repeat building weeks with no real taper for the swim/bike at Silverman. I will have one more test to report.
In response to Gordo's comment, I don't have my powermeter back yet so no power numbers on the road. Fingers crossed for Silverman...SRM said it would be done today and back later this week.
Friday, October 24, 2008
So, my MBT continued to drift down a small amt. this week.
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
10/13 180 60 min 131
10/20 180 60 min 130
But, as Gordo commented earlier, it will be interesting to see how it looks when I'm rested. This weekend I'm in Boston with the family visiting friends, so I will be off the bike for 3 days.
Monday's test will be interesting.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Mon: 90 minutes (30 min ez, 60 min avg 133)
Tues: off bike
Wed: Track Brick (60 min cycle)
Thurs: 60 min (138 avg)
Fri: 60 min PC's (124 avg)
Sat: 4.5 hrs done as 45 min ez (134 max/119 avg), 60 min race cadence (142/129), 45 min BRO (149/140), 10min EZ, 45 min standing (152/144), 10 min EZ, 45 min high cadence (151/143) 10 min cool down
Sun: 30 min ez spin
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
10/13 180 60 min 131
My hr. requirement continues to trend down. I'm surprised to see the downward trend as dramatic as it appears. My experience with running is that I have a much slower response to training load. Next week will be a bit more challenging with a scheduled 6 hour ride. We had our first snow of the year this past weekend, necessitating the long trainer ride. I've done one 6 hour trainer ride in the past, so I'm prepared to do it if necessary. Fortunately it immediately warmed up again to good weather. Lets hope not!!!!
Fantastic race in Kona...congrats to all of the athletes.
Monday, October 6, 2008
So, first the training.
Mon: Bogus hill climb 1:30 (max 156/avg 144) 35min descent (148/116) total bike: 2:05
Tues: PC’s on the trainer 60 min done as (20 min ez/20 min high cadence/20 min BRO)(133/113)
Wed: Brick Workout with group on track w/u on bike, 4 x 1 mile run top end of mod hard, separated by 10 min on the bike and then cool down. Max 173-run, avg 130. ~60 minutes on bike
Thurs: road bike trainer 80 min (150/127)
Friday (biz trip): 30 min run (ez, no data)
Sat (biz trip): 45 min run (144 for 20 min/150 for 20 min/5 min cool down)
Sun: 60 mile group ride 2:30 max 186 (???never been higher than 174) avg 154. Then 30 min up and down bottom of Bogus to get 3hours 148/133.
The results of the MBT:
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
That change seems pretty dramatic. I calibrated the computrainer the same way this week as last, so I don't think measurement error is in play. There has been a bit of max hr effort. Generally your cardiovascular system responds within 3 days of training. How that “feels” to me is the harder efforts on the bike feel pretty easy CV wise, but the legs feel heavy and are currently my limiter. The quick CV response could certainly be playing a role with tired legs creating a decoupling effect. Fun to watch in any regard.
That’s a wrap for week one. Shoot your comments my way and happy to discuss.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I haven’t been to the Las Vegas to train, so I’m contemplating a review of the bike course during this year’s race. (Nothing like a fully supported training day!!) Realizing I’m not in the best of bike shape right now (read: no rides longer than 90 minutes in the past 2 months), this will require a little aerobic bike building over the next 6 weeks. This should be pretty congruent with my current restorative program. Currently I’m spending the majority of my training week in flexibility, and lesser degree core strengthening. I can safely add in the cycling without interfering with THE 2009 PLAN, ie fully recovering the plantar fasciitis I’ve been nursing since April. I will cover the rehab program in a future update.
In years past, I’ve documented my running base build with 30 runs/30 days on the TriCoWS website and my blog. This year I will track my progress on the bike from relative unfit bike shape to the fitness required to ride the Silverman course 6 weeks from now.
I will post my version of the MAF run test: the Metabolic Bike Test (MBT) to demonstrate my change in fitness. Nothing fancy and there are certainly a variety of similar protocols (Chuckie V writes about his here), but I will use what I have available currently in my garage-a computrainer hooked up in stand-alone mode. For those unfamiliar with computrainer, the system can be run without the use of a computer. I’m setting it up on ergometer mode, which allows me to train against a specific workload for a specified time. I haven’t sorted out if you can save this file, so I wear my basic hrm and record hr. The basic premise is that the metabolic cost (measured imperfectly by avg. hr) for the duration (60 min) and workload (180 watts) of the training session will decrease as I become fit. In simple terms, my avg. heart rate for the hour will decrease from the baseline value the longer I train.
In this case, I’ve chosen to 180 watts for 1-hour duration. 180 watts corresponds to the average watts I’ve ridden at the last few Ironman bike rides. You can self select your cadence and I ride 84-85. Speed recorded by the computrainer is immaterial and doesn’t translate in any meaningful way. I break every 10 minutes for 30 sec by shifting down and standing, with my cadence dropping in the 40’s...the power requirement remains 180 (I typically do a lot of standing during hill climbs and I find it interesting that my hr drops at least 6-8 beats when I do this on the road and during the test). This little break relieves the numbness in the “man parts”, which seems to be more prevalent for me when on the trainer.
I will have baseline and 5 weeks of data points collected by Nov. 9th. This should be interesting. I will post my MBT results as we go along weekly.
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min. 147
I was a interesting to see my avg hr end that high. I typically ride an ironman ride in 5:10-5:25 with my avg hr in the upper 130’s. A couple of thoughts…my computrainer tends to have a lower power reading than my SRM when using concomitantly. My SRM is at the shop, so I can’t compare. During the first 10 minutes my hr hovered around 140 and steadily rose from there. I suppose this is likely a reflection of my relative poor fitness and not surprising.
Update in a week. Enjoy the great weather as we enter fall. I haven't commented in awhile, but Gordo has started a new forum that is currently invite only. Shoot me a comment if you are interested in joining and I will forward you an invite.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I’m fully recovered from IM Placid and contemplating my plans for next year. As most can relate, it takes a full year to make a solid effort towards reaching your race goals (in addition to successfully signing up for an M-dot branded race!)
So, I thought I would share my thoughts on how I approached my recovery, planning for next year, and the 1st crucial stage in the process.
Following an Ironman, your body has been subjected to significant stress. Injury to your muscles, disruption of your normal hormonal balance, and depression of your immune system occurs. Before training again, ample time is necessary to recover from the event and avoid significant long-standing health issues.
The muscle tissue damage sustained on race day continues for a few days following the event. A period of secondary injury occurs the few days after the race and results in swelling and further cell damage. Evidence of cell damage is seen when laboratory work is performed. From an athlete’s standpoint, we feel sore, swollen, and stiff. This lasts for 2-4 days. After the initial injury phase, our muscle begin to repair themselves. By 7 days, most soreness is gone and muscle flexibility is restored. If one were to test a single effort muscle test, this effort would demonstrate pre-race results by 7 days but in no way indicates full recovery. The recovery during this period is governed by the restoration of calcium balance and the glucose transport system and is largely intact by around 14 days. However, the time required for full muscle recovery varies significantly and depends on several variables, the most important is likely the effect of pre-race training regimen. In any regard, there are studies that show decreased maximum torque and cellular changes as long as 4-6 weeks following the event.
The immune system is impaired and we are susceptible to upper respiratory (URI) and other infections following race day. There are reports of 25% of participants of long endurance events experiencing URI’s in the 2 weeks following the event.
Finally, my mood the few days following the event is quite elevated despite my tired physical state. This generally persists for the first 7-10 days and corresponds to the time when I begin to feel physically recovered. Soon after this time, usually around 3 weeks following the event, I find myself more irritable and a bit depressed.
So, how do I recover? The first few days are compression socks, ice, and gentle massage for the initial and secondary damage days. I use running as my gauge to return to physical activity in order to prevent any overzealous attempt at quick recovery. As this tends to be the most difficult activity to resume, I wait to raise my effort above a steady at any sport until I can run comfortably. My return to sport begins once my initial soreness resolves (usually around 5 days). An easy walk/jog and swim are my first workouts. I then will continue 30 min run/walk sessions for the first 2-3 weeks with an occasional bike and swim. However, I typically don’t feel fully recovered for 5-6 weeks. Until I can run comfortably downhill and assume a baseline run pace at an aerobic effort, I limit my rides to less than 2-3 hours.
So, I’m fully recovered according to my criteria. Though not fit, I could sustain extended, hard efforts in any sport. As I plan for the upcoming year, my initial focus will involve returning to a regular base of core strengthing, yoga/stretching, and weakness/injury rehab before attempting a committed return to aerobic base building. This “restorative” phase will allow me to build high frequency volume with less risk for overuse injury.
So, my race goals for next year are two-fold. The first is to continue on my quest for a fast(er) ironman run. The second will be to experience racing near the front in a smaller field. For now, I’m considering either a return to IM Brazil or a maiden voyage to my home state IM for the fast run. I need a little more recon to sort that out. For a smaller race, I’m considering the Silverman. The difficult course likely plays in my favor, as aerobic endurance is more a strength than high end speed. I may take the opportunity to preview the course in the upcoming race.
Enjoy your recovery or taper phase if heading to Kona,
Monday, August 25, 2008
Early in my triathlon career, my mind was capable of more grandiose results than my fitness produced. After repeated failures to obtain desired results, an appraisal of my ability and fitness produced more realistic expectations. Though my race results still fell short of my desired goal, I created a strategy to improve.
Instead of lowering my expectations, I reached out to those who were more successful in gaining results than I had been. From their mentoring, I was able to identify common characteristics that seemed to provide improved fitness and race results. Simply, consistent training volume over a long period of time and a strong mental game were the key components.
Gordo and I created a simple Basic Week training schedule during Epic Camp Australia 2005. This allowed me to immediately improve consistency by realistically assessing my week and organizing training sessions that were accomplished >95% of the training year.
The Basic Week also provided an assessment of my life schedule. It was apparent that the desired fitness was going to require more training volume. My initial reluctance to increase volume was that I would compromise my work and family life. However, a critical assessment of my day allowed me to add training sessions by replacing things in my life that weren’t providing any additional happiness or success. Getting faster and fit made the “sacrifices” easily justifiable as I began experiencing a level of success that my goal oriented self was content.
As I improved, I was still leaving some of the fitness on the table during races.
Through assessment of my strengths and weaknesses, I was able to clearly define areas that focused preparation would result in race day improvement.
My strategy had to consist of something beyond more training, because I wasn’t seeing a linear increase in my performance by just putting in additional training time, and with those attributes in mind, I critically assessed my strengths and weaknesses and devised a plan to address them.
Once I realized fitness gains evidenced by faster benchmark training sessions, I began searching for areas to improve that did not require more training volume. Recovery techniques, improved nutrition, mental strategies to push through barriers were all areas that provided continued improvement.
And it seems, that is the key…continuing to forge ahead in search of ways to push through barriers.
This weekend’s IM Canada’s results demonstrate that to me. Justin Daerr is one of the guys that I was privileged to train with and put on a few camps this past spring (Endurance Corner Camps in Tucson & Boulder in 2009). During one of our recovery swim sessions last year, I remember asking him what his long-term triathlon goals were and he very clearly stating his lofty goals in an unwavering fashion. (I will leave that for him to achieve or share). I was impressed with the clarity in stating those goals, mostly b/c to that juncture, there wasn’t a lot of results to back it up. At that time, Justin hadn't run under 3:00 hours and barely cracked 9:00 hours at Florida.
Fast forward 12 months and he has run twice under 3 hours and now has a PB in the 8:30's. Unbelieveable...and his goals seem ever so much closer.
If you look at his results from 2003 to Aug 2007, there was only a 20 minute improvement despite 4 years of hard work. And I remember him saying before his first breakthrough performance Florida 2007, that he had to do something different…to really lay it on the line to continue his dreams. And he did it…how, I’m sure it has to do with in believing in himself, perserverance, sticking to his plan/dream...all of those and things only he can share. But if you look back where he was on that summer day in 2007, there are literally thousands of people who had achieved what he had at that point. But he found a way.
Michael Phelps was interviewed and talking about how he was (is) this dorky little 13 y.o. kid with a dream of swimming in the Olympics. And yet 10 years later, he achieved one of the most memorable accomplishments in Olympic history.
You got to believe in dreams. Not all of us will go 8:30 in Ironman or win 8 olympic golds, but isn’t that what it all about?
Monday, August 11, 2008
The manner in which I treated patients early in my medical career was based upon recommendations by my professors. As I progressed, I began reviewing reams of scientific evidence and choosing best treatment methods based upon clearly superior results and my intepretation of those results. As time has passed, my medical practice is still based upon respected colleagues recommendations and my interpretation of the available science, but my experience is allowing me latitude in choosing treatment methods for individuals, even when it may not particularly follow “what the books say” to the detail. The variances today are based in recognizing subtleties in specific patients and my own collective experience, which may not yet achieved statistical significance or undergone peer review. I believe many of my treatment successes with difficult cases are based upon this growth in detecting individual patient differences and applying personal experience to the scientific evidence available.
For me, I have found my coaching/advising development has followed much the same path as my medical practice. I initially learned by rote fashion, then slowly adapted my training based upon scientific evidence and now tend to use a combination of personal bias mixed with scientific evidence and respected colleagues experience.
Training protocols, like best treatment medicine, are a wonderful place to structure basic outlines of athletic improvement. But similarly, strict adherence to an algorthim generated as a collective mean lacks the crucial element necessary for a successful outcome: attention to individual variation.
What does all this mean? Let me give you a couple of real world examples.
In medicine, it is accepted that vancomycin is the drug of choice for MRSA infection . Though resistance is emerging, this antibiotic is life saving for millions of people with this infection It is the drug of choice and routinely given…if you aren’t allergic to the drug. If you are allergic to vancomycin, administration of the drug can result in anaphlaxis and death.
This outcome is rare. If you looked at the success of vancomycin treatment versus the incidence of anaphylaxis/death, overwhelmingly most would agree with its use MRSA infection. UNLESS, you are allergic…it’s use in this patient could result in death.
How does this relate to training protocols? I find it interesting reading opinions on what endurance sport training regimens should be or which particular coach has the correct recipe/method/plan. I constantly hear the debate of quantity vs. quality…intensity vs. volume debate. But generally speaking, I don’t know anyone who trains all sessions easy nor all sessions hard. Yet, random debates continually arise depicting one method as exclusively one way or the other or people depicting a certain coach/athletes approach as exclusively one way or the other.
Instead, I’ve found speaking to different coaches (who are labeled as one type or another) reveal general agreement to most training principles. And I tend to look at the principles that the different coaches and plans agree upon. For me, this is reasonably solid evidence that despite sometimes diabolically different philosophies, the common ground likely works most of the time for most of the people.
These common principles are based upon the population in general. And it is safe to assume most principles hold true for nearly everyone. From time to time, there are individual traits that cause that athlete to stray from the population as a whole. And this must be identified…similar to the patient who has a vancomycin allergy. It would be pointless to send two novice triathletes the same workout without knowledge of unique traits.
For instance, consider two 30 year-old individuals who are training for their first triathlon. They are both cardiovascularly healthy individuals who are near their ideal body weight. Neither has any recent swim/bike/run training. However one was a “swimmer kid” growing up, competing in high school on the swim team. The other was a high school pitcher whose career was ended by shoulder pain and a current exam of his shoulder reveals pain and weakness with internal rotation and resisted forward flexion. It would be suicide to send the latter athlete the same workout as the former. It is likely he would need some time to rehab his impingement syndrome and strengthen his “swim muscles”.
It is rare that you find a “quality, intense session” based coach who advises novice athletes to go hard from their very session nor “quantity based, LSD” coaches who never recommend intensity. What differs in their approach is applying “best treatment” protocols in consideration of the individual athlete AND the ability to elicit/diagnose limiters/unique traits that make variations to the basic protocol critical to the success for that athlete.
That is the tricky part. Can you identify a particular athletes position on the fitness continuum or specific strengths or weaknesses? Can you help deliver what the athletes need in a way that is positive and encourages the athlete? And ultimately, can you help the athlete identify what their ultimate goal is and guide them along the path to achieve that goal?
So, who is the best coach for any particular individual? I’ve fielded that question a lot recently and I believe it has more to do with whom an athlete can develop the one trait that nearly every coach believes in: consistency. I can speak from experience on the methods of Gordo Byrn, Kevin Purcell, Scott Molina, John Newsome, Alan Couzens, Tim Luchinske from whom I have personal contact as their athlete, camper at their camps, or training by their side. I’ve read musings from Joe Friel, Brett Sutton, Paulo Sousa who are popular on the many blogs and forums. And countless others as I write this seem to fit that bill as well…Mitch Gold, Rich Strauss (I know everyone can fill in their coach here as well).
Developing an environment that is conducive to consistent training over long periods of time is the key. Some coaches & plans do that well within certain athlete populations, others within a certain geographic location. But the ability to communicate effectively, create trust, and have fun go a long way in supporting the consistent training needed to succeed in athletics, and life.
The little success I’ve had athletically is certainly in part attributed to one of two groups I’ve been fortunate to train over the past 5 years or so. The pic above is a part of the Winston-Salem, NC triathlon community (Go TriCoWS) that I raced with at Lake Placid. (My wife digs those sock, by the way, so I wear them as much as possible)
Here’s to finding what keeps you consistent,
Sunday, July 27, 2008
“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” -Charles Du Bos
IM USA 2008 Lake Placid, NY
After securing a IM spot at the Florida 70.3 with my NC training crew in May, I hoped to get some consistent training in and have another shot at a fast run in Lake Placid. It was not to be…life interfered and, aside from solid bike rides, I wasn’t able to string together consistent run and swim training.
The challenge was to sort out how limited my swim/bike/run fitness was and then attempt to achieve an optimal time based on this fitness. Ideally, this approach should be used for every race, as opposed to shooting for PR’s or arbitrary time goals. Given my constraints, I felt my margin for error was particularly thin and hence, my caution.
In prior posts, I modified Gordo’s tests for aerobic endurance. I knew finishing wasn’t an issue…I was trying to establish at what pace I was capable. What I established was that my bike was pretty solid, but my run and, less so, my swim were going to be challenging. Without a tremendous amount of detail, I deduced this by noting a lack of speed increase despite large effort increases at the end of both the swim and run sessions. The bike session was surprisingly strong, despite several efforts to absolutely blow myself up during a challenging long ride.
With this knowledge, I knew I would have to ratchet back the effort on the swim and bike in order to keep running at the end of the marathon. Last year in Canada, I imploded the last 3 miles which resulted in a 3 ½ minute positive split. Given my current fitness, I wanted to limit this loss in Placid.
So, the race plan? Lower hr avgs on swim and bike than in Canada in order to hopefully finish the run.
2007 IMC avg swim 145/bike 145/run 145
2008 IMLP Results:
Swim Time Avg HR
Lap 1 0:30:14 145
Lap 2 0:31:29 151
T1 0:04:44 158
Lap 1 2:44:19 137
Lap 2 2:39:42 139
Total 5:23:37 138
T2 0:01:56 128
Lap 1 1:41:39 142
Lap 2 1:51:58 139
Total 3:33:37 140
I’m not certain the splits on the bike are reliable. My battery in the SRM crank arm died the week before the race, so I was relying on my wrist hrm. In the early part of the bike, the only time I saw it picking up was on the climbs when I wasn’t aero…when stretching out on the bars, it wasn’t picking up. I really didn’t even look at it by midway through the first loop as it wasn’t giving me reliable feedback.
The swim was nice. I was bilateral breathing 85-90% of the time and ended up with a 1:30 positive split. Not sure about the big increase in heart rate; likely as much a result of my easy start from the far right and away from the crowd artificially lowering the first half more than an increased rising effort in the 2nd. Review of the top 300 swimmers demonstrated no even or negative splits. Aside from Pontano & Bonney’s positive splits of 30s, nearly everyone else had more than a minute positive split. This ended up being a PR swim for me by a minute on tremendously less effort. The course and submersed line really made the 2nd loop easy and I never sighted the entire 2nd loop.
The bike was nearly all on feel. After taking the first climb and descent exceptionally easy, I cruised in the 1st loop. A text chat with Gordo prior to the race reminded me to “have fun”. Nutrition to this juncture was on spot and I consumed 840 cal of Infinit. After cruising through bike special needs unsuccessfully ( despite stopping and waiting for what seemed like an eternity, they couldn’t find my bag “sorry, no bag for #1048”) and resigning myself to nutrition plan b (gels with water), I continued on to loop 2. Nothing special, just cruised the loop. Review of the splits following the day demonstrated around 5 negative splits in the top 100 rides, so it was a solid ride on a reasonable effort. The low hr. is likely a combination of course set up (tons of long downhill descents that last a long time) and unreliable hrm data.
The run…not much to say. Started slow and ended slower. By the last 10k, I was simply holding on. I had some "weirdness" (left ant. Tib resulting in a foot drop) that I hadn’t experienced previously. The other thing I noted was that I quit taking splits in the last half similar to IMC last year. Retrospectively, I think I have some mental work to do here. Instead of zoning out, I need to concentrate and work on each mile. I clearly lost focus during this period of the race both years.
2008 IM USA
I’m glad I did this race. It was mentally tough and I was able to confirm some race preparation methods that I’ve been working on for myself and a few others. More on this in a future post.
Thanks for checking in.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
My favorite training buddy made a visit to Boise this past week, my youngest brother John.
John invokes the sort of training (friendship) that is truly satisfying...challenging, but not in a way that is destructive. We covered some good miles this past week and had a few laughs.
Now into the taper period before Lake Placid. As this summer has been pretty disruptive, I lack the typical consistency that I'm accustomed. In order to gain some clarity as to whether or not I was fit enough to race my typical hr goals, I modified some of Gordo's aerobic endurance tests and completed them last week. If you haven't read his "4 pillars" discussion, here is a link:
I modified the run and bike tests similar to the way I race in that I like to go progressively harder throughout the session, expecting a concomitant increase in pace. If the pace is falling off despite the ability to raise the hr, then I likely need to adjust my hr goals down.
The swim test is modified differently...based upon a different gordo swim suggestion I like. Philosophy is different in that you intentionally go out hard, then try and hold your race pace. This likely represents race situation for most people.
Gordo’s suggested aerobic sessions during one week to assess aerobic endurance for Ironman in bold. My modifications inserted below
Swim – One and a quarter hours, long course (50-meter pool), continuous aerobic swimming with three stroke breathing
My pacing test (Gordo suggested swim):
Then 5x400 as
Take 30s rest on the first one and that is your send off for all 5
Last swim should be same speed as first
#2/#4 should be about 15s slower
#3 should give you about 5s RI
(My modification is: repeat 5 x 400 on same interval as above steady effort)
I would reassess goal pace if the last 400 isn’t the fastest, even if only by a couple of seconds.
Bike – Six hours, continuous aerobic riding
My pacing test:
1 hour easy or 10 beats below goal hr.
then 4 hours of steady, elevate hr on climbs using proposed ceiling, never rest below steady goal hr. 1 6-8 min break halfway to refuel, but get going as quickly as possible.
Last hour, (3) 15 minute efforts with hr 3-5 beats above goal hr, separated by 5 minutes at steady
This last hour is critical…if you cant pull (3) 15 minute efforts at the end of only a 6 hour “steady”ride, how are you going to run a marathon?
Run – Two and a half hours, continuous aerobic running
My pacing test:
30 minutes easy, 10 below goal marathon hr.
45 minutes at hr within 3-4 beats below goal hr
45 minutes goal hr
30 minutes above goal hr.
For me, if I’m fit and have chosen the right hr, I can hold ~1 beat avg. higher than goal for the last 30 minutes with an 5 sec/mile faster pace.
I would reassess my goal hr if I couldn’t raise my hr/pace at the end.
So, how did I do? I will certainly be more conservative than last year at IMC. I was really fatigued by the end of 2.5 hours, I still had a 10k to go. The swim was fine and my powermeter shut off after 20 minutes of the ride, so it was all on feel. I finished reasonably strong, but not quite the fitness I've had in the past.
I finished a ride back into Stanley with a pretty strong tailwind and slightly downhill, cruising 30 mph for about 15 miles. As we approached the city limit and speed limit signs, I slowed down and John cruised around with a quizzical look on his face. "Why are slowing down?" "Didn't want to get a speeding ticket in town!"
Ahhhh, nothing like good training buddies.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Moved but not settled, the family is all here in Boise. What a crazy few past months this has been. After finishing up the 2nd Spring Endurance Corner Training Camp at the end of April, I’ve been back and forth between Boise and Winston-Salem. In that time, I’ve battled a little plantar fasciitis, raced Florida 70.3, DNS Triple T, graduated one daughter from middle school (had my first father-daughter dance…whoaaaaa), started a new job…you know the routine.
During this period, I’ve had time to reflect on how fortunate I’ve been. Moving is stressful on everyone, but the opportunity that is ours is a very good one. I’ve managed to string together a few weeks of training finally, and the long bike rides are certainly good for introspection. The thoughts aren’t yet cohesive, so I will wait awhile before sharing those. The pics above are from my most recent long ride; one that ended with a 16 mile climb up to Bogus Basin, the local ski resort just above town. I hear Michael Tobin (local ex Xterra World Champion and current adventure racer) holds the record for the climb at ~54 minutes. Needless to say, he will have no competition from me anytime soon.
The hardest part of triathlon training for me to get rolling is the swim. I really noticed significant gains from last years training, but the move across the country has me stymied and I’ve experienced quite a backslide trying to get back into the routine in my new environment. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the path that I took from my first Ironman swim of 1:36 down to my most recent IMC swim of 63 minutes. I would characterize my improvements in stages:
2003 First Ironman-started swimming “laps” a few years before for sprint tris, attended T.I. camp
2004 Started swimming with Masters group & did a few open water swim races, swam IM WI in 1:10
2005 First Epic Camp- committed to learning how to flip turn before camp. Incorporated longer continuous swims after camp.
2006 Year of Bilateral Breathing IM Brazil swim 64 minutes
2007 Trained with “team good guys” in Boulder with Jane Scott, incorporated all 4 strokes routinely into most swim sessions
Introspection of the process:
1. T.I. taught me the lingo of and the components of swimming-competent to not drown.
2. Slowly built aerobic swimming base
3. Lots of technique work, expansion of aerobic base
4. Bilateral breathing provided symmetry to stroke, kept me swimming more and breathing less. Continued expansion of aerobic base
5. Off strokes built strength and further enhanced technique. Spend a fair bit of time swimming more slowly, but going faster when challenged to do so.
So what is next? More of the same. I really think continued swim strength and maintenance of aerobic base will provide further gains. As I’ve sorted out my new swimming schedule here in Boise, I developed a swim set that incorporates most of my goals. It goes like this:
100 IM x 1
100 IM x 2
100 IM x 3
100 IM x 4
100 IM x 5
The thought behind the set is:
The free are done as bilateral breathing in a descending pattern.
The first 200 kick is done with a board to stretch out my shoulders. Following the first 200, I do 50 free kick with board, 50 fly for core, 50 kick catch-up, 50 concentrating on timing, so that right leg kick precedes right pull, and vice versa. done without a board and using a variety of patterns.
The backstroke provides balanced strength to counter all of the free style.
IM work is for swim specific strengthening.
Glad to be back in the groove. The pics above are from the Sawtooth Relay. This was a fun little event that included two all out 10k’s at altitude as my contribution to a team relay run from Stanley to Sun Valley (60 miles).
If anyone makes it out to the area, please drop me a line.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The INFINIT Poker Pacing Camper Award:
Pacing and nutrition are a big part of my long course triathlon success. They are invariably intertwined and most of my thoughts on the both subjects can be found on the links above.
Conceptually negative splitting your workouts is quite simple. But is rare that age group athletes demonstrate the discipline to increase the effort resulting in a managed rise in HR. A really successful session is one in which that HR/effort increase is perfectly coupled with an rise in velocity as well.
This week I decided to bring along some sponsor schwag to highlight the camper that best represents this trait. Ryan Novak (pic above) really humbled me on our 95 mile ride to Madera Canyon. He nicely paced the 45 miles out to the 3 mile climb (max % ~16), then motored on the return. He drove the lead train home with a monster pull the entire last 25k home. VERY IMPRESSIVE end to hot & windy long day.
Here are my camp totals so far this week. G-man has led Justin through a big swim week and they will hit nearly 35,000 over the 8 days.
Swim: w/u 1000
1/1/1/1 (100 desc from 2:05 to 1;50) =400
2/2/2/2 = 800
3//3/3/3 = 1200
2 x 250 (100 IM/150 free)
Total = 3,900
Swim: 500 w/u
10 x 150 (25 br/25 bk/100 free)
Total = 2000
Bike: 95 miles Madera Canyon
Dinner Discussion: Working guy success…if you want to be a 1%, then you have to do what 99% aren’t willing to do.
Infinit Poker Pacing K.O.D. = Ryan Novak
Swim: 800 w/u
400, then 4 x 100 = 800
300, then 3 x 100 = 600
200, then 2 x 100 = 400
100, then 1 x 100 = 200
100 cool down
Ride: Mt. Lemmon 55 miles
Run: 30 minutes
Dinner Discussion: Poker Pacing Concepts
2 x 400
4 x 200
8 x 100
Bike: West Tucson Loop 46 miles
Run: 50 minutes (Star Pass Trail)
Bike: 55 miles Oro Valley
Run: 50 minutes
Run: 1:20 Saguaro Park East (Cactus Forest Trail)
Dinner Discussion: Pacing Strategy for Ironman Newbies, Mental Strategies
Bike: Old Tuscon Loop 26 miles
Dinner Discussion: Robbie Ventura
I'm continually humbled by the campers. Each and every camper has demonstrated a great attitude while piling on some challenging sessions. Nearly every day we see some camper exceed a personal best in volume in some session or total. The mental lift from surrounding yourself with the coaching staff and athletes has been tremendous.
Tomorrow we have a big day with a ride to Kitt Peak...more then.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Been a bit of time since my last post. We had a super camp last month in Tucson, AZ. I've included a summary to give everyone an idea what our camps are like.
The pic above is with Gordo and two of buddies from Winston-Salem that were able to attend Nick Nothoff and Jeff Ickes. It was fun to get my two training crews together for a camp.
This was a great camp and certainly one for the books!
• Bike 2:20 Gates Pass Loop
• Swim 1000 w/u, then 24 x 100, desc
• Run 6:00 50 min with Jonas/BDC/Nick/Dan/
• Bike Madera Canyon 95 miles 4:40
• Swim 4000
• Bike Mt. Lemmon from Udall Park to ski valley top
• Run: 30 minutes on track at Udall
Dinner Discusssion: Concept of 30 runs/30 days and increasing durability
• Swim 4000
• Bike: 1:30
• Run Saguaro East 1:15
Dinner Discussion: Bike Fit, consequences of different Fit methods
• Run 53 min
• bike Oro Valley 54 miles
• Swim 5500
• Run 1:20
• Bike bike Old Tucson Loop 90 minutes
• Swim 2 k
• Bike plane boneyard 90 minutes
• Ride to Kitt Peak 5 hours (climb 1:15)
• Swim 2k with Brandon and josh
• Ran 5k from pool
Memorabilia give away…JFT hat to Mark, t-shirt to Josh, EC bike jersey to Nina
8 day ApproximateTotals:
Swim = 6h30m
Bike = 22h48 min
Run = 5h43min
Total = 35h1m
Nick, by the way, ripped a half today and placed 3rd at the KineticMan. Congrats, Nick.
Updates on the way from Camp 2 over the next couple of days.
Monday, March 17, 2008
The Pilot Mtn Climb is one of the 3 climbs we do in the area to test your climbing skills. Two of my buddies who are attending the Endurance Corner Camp next week in Tucson were with me. I was on my road bike, whereas they were both on their tri bikes. Suffice to say, after 2.5 miles, 9 switchbacks, and ~1,200 ft elevation gain I was doing my best to stay on Jicke's wheel @ 16:45. Nick had beat us both up to the top by a minute or so, confirming the fitness he was bringing to camp.
Safety has been on the forefront of my mind lately. Kristy Gough was recently killed in a cycling accident and a good friend of mine crashed one yr ago descending this same mountain when he rolled a tubular. We were patient coming down and I reminded myself of one of the lessons from my Epic Camp experience...we never time the descents.
On that somber note, check out this cycling safety video. Pass it around to those you know, especially those who don't cycle. They are the ones we typically need to worry most about.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
One area in particular that I enjoy learning about is bike fitting. It seems that good fitters understand biomechanics, human anatomy, and engineering principles well and those who are deficient in any one area can really "miss the mark" when it comes to a more complex fit.
In any case, Endurance Corner hosted Dan Empfield a month ago for a seminar in Boulder. It was really enjoyable to spend time with Dan. He has that wise, open sense as a teacher which makes learning very easy. It is not often you meet someone that has the knowledge and experience he has that maintains a sense of humility. That openness seems characteristic of people that seem to continue to accrue knowledge and remain at the forefront in any field.
I'm waiting for the day that Herbert does a more in-depth interview of Dan. In the meantime, I learned that Dan was a talented high school runner who was sidelined by ITB syndrome prior to reaching college. He directed his athletic pursuits in college as a X-country skier at the University of Nevada-Reno. During college, he resumed running and shortly thereafter did his first triathlon. Peddling gear out of the back of his car at races funded his early efforts as a triathlete, and eventually led to the first triathlon specific wetsuit and tri bike. We will have to wait for the Slowtwitch editor to give more details.
His method for fitting is well delineated on his website. It was extremely helpful to hear it in person, and as always, there are details you can only pick up in person. In general, if you want to go faster in long distance triathlon, it is worth a visit to a F.I.S.T. certified fitter to test out Dan's principle for a steeper fit. The conclusions I get from his fit are:
1. There are general principles, but ultimately a fitter's experience and rider's comfort trump any specified geometric guidelines.
2. The results of a steeper fit are increased pressure on your crotch and upper extremity/shoulder girdle.
3. The way your body accommodates a steeper fit is through increased cervical lordosis.
So, what are the ramifications of increased cervical lordosis? Well, that depends. Cervical lordosis is the normal curvature of the spine. People who maintain 30-40 degrees of cervical lordosis have a much lower incidence of neck pain than that of the normal population, presumably by taking pressure off the anterior discs by the strength of the posterior extensor muscles. Cervical lordosis is believed to be maintained by the strong extensor muscles of the neck. In fact, an entire physical therapy regimen, the McKenzie Exercises, have been developed to help reduce or eliminate symptoms of those people with discogenic neck pain. So, a gradual increase in the strength of cervical extensors by "looking up the road" may be helpful to those people with these symptoms.
That all sounds good, right? It is, UNLESS you have facet joint symptoms or nerve root impingement. This is pain that is the result of arthritis of the facet joints located posteriorly in the neck. The pressure on these joints are increased by extending the neck. Generally, over time, these people may develop nerve root compression by arthritis created by the increased pressure in these joints.
What does it all mean? As with any change in position, gradual moves are tolerated much better than abrupt changes. If you have discogenic neck pain, strengthening the cervical extensors may even help your neck pain. However, if you have posterior facet arthritis, then the increased lordosis will likely be uncomfortable and unhealthy.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I had a great opportunity this past weekend to run with Frank Shorter. Our local run club, Twin City Track Club, sponsored his visit, group run, and several speeches in the area. He is very agreeable and a fun guy. This was particularly neat for me as my staple run this past summer in Boulder included passing his statue at the University. Upon meeting him I told him that I ran with him every day this past summer...he initially looked at me like I was a loon until I explained.
I spent the past week reviewing data from many of the people who participated in our Tri Clubs October run challenge. It was nice that many people shared their data with me. Though there were enough gaps in the data that I wouldn't feel comfortable publishing any findings, the trend seemed pretty consistent. For the most part, there was a general drop in avg mile pace from the beginning of the challenge to the end (certainly not surprising) for the same heart rate. The most dramatic change occurred after the first week and the beginning of the final week. My brother did a great job on collecting very accurate data for heart rate, distance, and time. I will post his graph as it is pretty cool to see in that format.
Like review of most scientific data, this exercise raised more questions than it answered. One of particular interest was the self selected heart rates of the prescribed "easy" or "aerobic" effort. I was certainly at the low end and averaged less than 139 bpm for the entire month, far less than my 148 bpm aerobic ceiling I use for IM run pacing. Some less experienced athletes were putting some efforts I would classify as anaerobic before they detonated from a variety of biomechanical aches and pains. That said, my fitness continued to improve at what grossly appeared to be the same rate as those going much harder than I. I think this is pretty fascinating, and likely why I'm able to easily regain run fitness without the typical rash of tendinitis issues I commonly see and hear about.
On that note, I included a response to a buddy of mine that I train with. He has a great engine, but seems to chronically have biomechanical crashes that prevent the consistency and longevity that is so crucial to IM success. It may provide some benefit to others, so see below:
"I've been thinking quite a bit about your prior running issues. I would recommend taking it easy on the run, given your susceptibility to tendinitis. I think your best bet is EASY runs, no more than 45 minutes and stack them everyday until you get 6 weeks under your belt injury free. Heart rates less than 135 to assure that you aren't pounding too hard. For a guy like you, this will feel like walking.
The reason behind this is that it takes 6 to 8 weeks for your tendons, cartilage and bone to make structural changes in response to new biomechanical stresses. Given that you have a great cardiovascular system, your musculoskeletal system is challenged to respond as quickly. We know this isn't possible as cardiovascular fitness responds in just a few days whereas your musculoskeletal system requires 6-8 weeks. If you are patient and successful with this plan, I know you can still run fast at Disney, b/c your cardiovascular system will be fit from the swim/bike. Musculoskeletally you will be durable b/c of the slow build up."
Best of luck with your spring build,
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Maybe this is justification for my current state, but I do know that what I “had to do” in the past to achieve certain results doesn’t require similar efforts. We see it all the time…swimmers jumping into the pool with little base training and ripping through the water, playing superb golf after several years of lay off and taking money from your playing partners who slave away on the driving range daily, performing tasks at work with relative ease that required an infinite amount more effort and time when you were just starting your job.
That doesn’t mean that your fitness remains forever…it certainly doesn’t. But the work to do what was required for prior breakthroughs is still in there somewhere. You get back to prior levels with less effort. Maintaining longevity and avoiding long periods of inactivity/poor health are more important than the number of “key” sessions/week we accomplish.
I hope recalling this knowledge takes the stress off a bit, and allows me to resume putting one foot in front of the other, stringing together days, weeks, months of consistency.
To have fun, remain fit, and love everybody around me a little bit more.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The concept is certainly not unique to triathlon. Success in most endeavors requires a balanced portfolio of skills specific to the arena that one is competing. In my early days of golf, I wanted to improve my short game so I began hitting golf balls into a bucket from 40 yards away for hours at a time…in later off-seasons I devoted more time to working on my long irons. (I think it was Chi Chi Rodriquez that commented on long iron play by saying “Even God can’t hit a 2 iron”. Didn’t stop me from trying my best to master that skill.) Each off-season was committed to working on a perceived weakness.
Though the concept of improving your weaknesses is straightforward, identifying the skill that needs the most attention may not be as obvious. Though it may seem that comparing your swim/bike/run times to the field’s times and deeming which one is the slowest is the way to determine your limiter, I suggest that this art is more complicated than that. For instance, though it may be obvious that “swimming” is the weak link in your battery of skills, it may not be the most important skill to improve to attain your goals. For example, if your goal is to qualify for Hawaii and you can get out of the water in 1:10 and your biking 5:30, then your likely better off working on gaining time on the bike as this constitutes a larger portion of the day. Yes, spending time on the swim is still important, but cranking up your swim yardage to 30,000 meters/week is less likely to benefit you as much as 2 additional 2-hour sessions on the bike. On the other hand, if you are racing short course and coming out in the lead swim group allows you to ride with the front group and exit T2 with a chance on the run, then the extra swim work makes perfect sense.
This discussion is a worthwhile one to have with your coach or someone who has personal knowledge of your abilities. I think one area often overlooked is an improvement in a weak mental game. An improved mental approach can be beneficial in many ways and beyond simple gains in swim/bike and run technique. In my upcoming blog, I will hit on a few mental processes that I find useful.
If you get a chance, check out the boys at Epic Camp. I would highly suggest this pursuing this opportunity in future editions if it sounds in the least appealing. The experience far outweighs any specific fitness gains you might receive.
Keep on training.