Sunday, July 27, 2008

2008 IM USA Race Report

“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
total 1:01:43

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
swim 148
bike 139
run 140

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

Speeding Ticket in Stanley

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):
Choice w/u

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.