Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 Goals

My first ever HIM is coming up in less than three weeks and today I found myself thinking about "the after" questions.  You know, "what are you going to do with all of that free time" and "what race is next" and "what about next year".

Anytime I pour myself into something as big as this, I always end up with the post-race blues, so this time I'm trying a different approach.  I figure if I set new, post-race goals, today then I'll still have something to look forward to on saturday night after the race is over. Sure, I'm going to take some time off to rest and recover, but then I want to get right back on the horse (so to speak) and keep training.

So, that brings me back to my goals for the rest of the year and into the early part of 2013.

I'm a new swimmer and I have been spending what I think is a ton of time in the pool. So far it has paid off in that I'm 100% confident that I can go 2km, in open water, without fear of drowning or having to stop and breast or back stroke. This is a big deal for me and I'm quite proud of this accomplishment, but back to my goal, which is to get faster!  My current PR for a 1000m time trial is 23:18, my goal is to get that down to 20:00 by April 1, 2013.  There, it's in writing and I can't take it back. Do-able?  Who knows, but I'm going to go for it. Based on fact or science or any known plan?  Hell no, at least not yet. Guess its time to go lookup swimming workout plans.

I'm not sure what my running plans are for next year, but I know that along with swimming, running will be a focus through the winter.  I've been building throughout the summer and am happy with my splits. I ran a 2:05 half marathon the other day in a training run and I had lots left in the tank when I was finished. Maybe I'll do the half in Pittsburgh in May, who knows. For now though, my goal is for a much shorter distance - one mile. I would like to run a mile in under 7 minutes before the end of the year.  My (post college) PR for a mile is 7:32, but the other day I ran a 3:11 half, so I think this is less pixie dust and 4-leaf clovers than my swimming goal.

Nope, no specific and time-bound goal here. Not for the winter anyway. Cycling is my strongest and most favorite of the Tri sports, so I will ride on nice days through the fall as swimming and running allow, but not towards any specific end.

Right, so all of this looking forward and I've forgotten to mention my goals for the race. First and foremost, my goal is to finish. Even if I end up missing a cut-off, I'm still going to finish.  If, however I happen to have a great day and I'm able to run the race that I know I'm capable of running, then my time goal is under six hours. The way I see it, it breaks down like this. I know that I can get the bike done in about three hours and the run and swim together should be about three hours, so that's how I get to six.  More specifically, every minute that I'm under one hour on the swim is a minute that I can be over two hours on the run.  I'll need to be really fast in transition, but I've been practicing the shit out of that (seriously) so I'm confident.

So there they are, in black and white, for all 3 of my readers.  Here's to a great race and then a productive and wonderful fall.

So what about you, do you still have goals left to accomplish in 2012?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Do you clean your gel packs before you use them?

I thought about this during a recent long ride as I was trying to suck/squeeze out the last bit of my last gel.  Hey, self, "Where has this pack been and how many people have had their nasty hands on it?" because you're putting it in your mouth!  I was hungry, so I pushed this thought out of my head and kept squeezing, but the thought stuck with me after I got home. 

Some of my gels I bought in case quantity and I opened the case when I got them home. These don't concern me that much. 

Others came from open cartons at REI, Performance, etc.  These cases were opened in the store and hopefully they were not touched, sneezed-on or dropped too many times before I picked them up. I guess washing these would be a good idea...

Finally, I have some "race schwag" gels. Lord only knows where these have been and which volunteer put them in my bag and when they last washed their hands (ewe).  These are now in the must wash pile.

So what do you think, am I being up tight, or do you think about this kind of stuff too?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Race Report - Pittsburgh International Triathlon

Back in May of this year I made the decision that I was going to do a triathlon.  My secret plan was to do a Half IM distance, but to play it safe, I told people I was going to do an international / Olympic distance.  Since this was new to me, I did what everyone does when they want to learn about new things, I Googled it.

My search for beginner triathlon training plans returned hundreds of useful sites and a great training plan that was complete and seemingly doable.  So with a plan in hand, I was off and running (and, of course, biking and swimming).

As I worked through the plan one topic kept coming up over and over again, which was "nothing new on race day".  Seems logical to me.  Of course, what I came to realize is that meant racing should not be new on race day, which meant I needed to get a real race under my belt before my mystical future Half IM.

Back to Google, where I find lots of useful information on the Pittsburgh Triathlon including the fact that it's scheduled for July 29th, which is a perfect spot in my training cycle, so I signed up!

Lot's of training later and it's finally the day before race day.  I cut out of work right at the crack of 5:00 and head across the river to packet pickup.

Packet pickup for my first ever triathlon.  I'm was so excited, I had to take a picture!

Saturday comes and goes and I find time to get in one final workout, attend the prerace meeting, ask all my questions and pick up a few odds and ends and then it's time for bed for a good night of sleep.

Sunday, I'm up before the sun, I gather all of my things and ride my way over to the start.  I setup transition, talk with some new people, run into my orthopedic surgeon who is swimming for a relay team, etc.  Finally, it's time to head off for the start.

As you can probably tell by the name of the blog, I'm not the strongest of swimmers.  Actually, it's the swim that has kept me out of triathlon to this point and it's the challenge of the swim that has me the most concerned and also the most interested as I approach this race.

I spent a fair amount of time in the pool in preparation  plus I took some swimming lessons at the Y from a coach who turned out to be way more knowledgeable than I expected I would find at the Y.  So anyway, I'm feeling prepared, but I'm also feeling like 1500 meters is a long way and all the rain the night before has the river raging and looking like a boiling glass of chocolate milk.  It's also not helpful that the first one-third of the swim is up stream in the aforementioned current.

Of course, the good news is that two-thirds of the swim are downstream and the raging current carries my water treading, freestyle and breast stroking ass to the end in record time!

Here's a shot of my tired ass leaving the water after the swim.
Swim split 31:49

I had some transition practice under my belt prior to the race, so I'm not unhappy with my time in T1 and the good news is I did not forget anything or get lost, etc. so I consider my first ever T1 a success.

T1 split 2:36

Again, from the name of the blog, I think you can deduce that cycling is my strongest event and this race certainly proved that to be true.  The course was a two lap affair where the first half of each lap was nearly all up hill and the second half was mostly down hill.  I tried to find a pace that would leave me energy for the run but still be fast.  I think I did fine in spite of the fact that my watch decided that today would be a good day for a vacation.

Here's a picture of me starting out on lap two.
All-in-all, a successful bike with no major issues other than dropping my chain half way through the second lap and having to get off the bike to get it reengaged.

Bike split 1:16:27

Nothing to say really about T2 other than the fact that I forgot to take off my bike gloves as the picture below proves.

T2 split 1:49

Me leaving T2 for the run, still wearing my bike gloves.  Of course I did not even realize that fact until about 30 second after this picture was taken.

The run was a flat out and back along the river.  I was concerned about my right calf since I was recovering from a bad calf cramp a couple of weeks earlier.  I ran at a comfortable pace until I hit the turnaround and then I started to pick up the pace somewhat.  In the end, I had enough energy left for a pretty strong kick to the finish.

Here are two shots taken at the line.
I'm happy with my run, but I also know that I could have done it faster had I not been worried about my calf.  Of course I'm much happier to have finished with something left vs. pushing and dealing with another calf cramp.

Run split 53:59

I am thrilled with the day and with my result.  I completed a triathlon!  The training plan worked very well, I'm happy with my nutrition plan and I'm happy with my execution.

Total Time 02:46:44

Next stop Half IM?

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Going the Distance (Well, Half of it Actually)

I've been talking about, and training for a 70.3 mile triathlon since my knee surgery back in March. I've had several potential races in mind but the one that works best for my schedule, travel, etc. is the Waterman's Half in Marbury, MD on Saturday October 13th.  

I'm far enough along in my training and happy enough with my progress that today I finally, actually, handed over my money and signed up!  So that's it, no excuses, I'm committed and I CAN'T WAIT!

In case you're interested, here is the actual race marketing description...

What's really great is that my search for course info on this race lead me to a couple of tri blogs that I really like...  Here are the race reports and course description from those blogs.

Hopefully my race, and race report will be as interesting and inspiring as these great posts. 

The other site that I have come to love and rely on is beginner triathlete. Here is the race description from that site and also some of their member reviews from the 2011 race. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

One Deadly Summer

For Pittsburgh bicyclists, the summer of 2012 brought mayhem, injury and death.  Here is a summary of news clips.  Take a minute, read the the stories and remember to be careful out there...

7/31/2012 - wilkinsburg - cyclist killed, driver fled the scene. 

Wake up and Lick the Strap!

I don't know about you, but right now my morning routine is pretty consistent: I wake up, grab my HR monitor strap, give it a good wet lick, fasten it around my chest and then proceed to get dressed for whatever workout is on my plan.

I'm in the middle of my final build before a mid-October 70.3 so my hours right now are at peak.  This means that most days I end up following this routine in the dark, while trying to get my shirt on right-side-out and forwards.  Usually that's not an issue but many of my running shirts have no tags, so it can be hard to tell if I'm backwards and/or inside-out.

So what about you does any of this sound familiar?  Do you have any tips on the challenge of right-side-out and forwards?  I'm all ears...