…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Posts tagged “races

Augusta Quickie: quick notes from Ironman Augusta 70.3 2012

panoramic shot of Ironman Augusta 70.3 2012 pre-raceTo start, it was a great race.  The weather was virtually ideal (for the race portion, at least).  Had some great camaraderie on the run, and after the race.  The hotel stay was decent, though sort of far.  And, most importantly, I met my goals in relation to prepping for Ironman Florida.

  • The weather was ideal, partly sunny to overcast for most of the race, with moderate temps.  Whereas last year the temps were hot, and then it rained off and on for the run.  It did rain this year, but only after the race (for most of us).
  • I stayed in the Comfort Inn on the west side of town–somewhat far from the venue, and not the hotel I had hoped to get initially. But they did a good job, and it worked out well.  As it turns out, the hotel I wanted, that did such a great job last year, didn’t do quite as well this year (some friends ended up in that one)
  • Evidently Augusta is becoming a popular race, and all the cheap rooms were gone early.
  • On the run I linked up with a football coach from the Atlanta area and we helped pace each other through the second half.  In the final three miles or so, we linked up with another fellow from Florida, whose legs were still fresh, and he helped us with the final push for the finish.
  • I finally linked up with my training partners, who it would seem, had put me on ignore going into the race.  Ran into them on the shuttle back to get our stuff from transition.  Was certainly a boon over last year, where I flew solo the entire event.
  • Goals:    My main goals were to practice pacing for Florida–primarily to not let the bike hurt.
    • I also was able to confirm my nutrition strategy for Florida.  Nutritionally, with “Special Needs” bags, I should be good to go.
    • My cardio was bullet proof this race.  At no point was I sucking wind.
    • The area of weakness was muscular endurance.  On the bike and the run, it was my muscular endurance that was a limiter, not my cardio.
    • This is a good thing (I think) as it would seem that muscular endurance is an easier fix in the weeks before Florida.
    • Another piece in the nutrition/endurance aspect was my emphasis on muscular hydration.  I had zero cramping issues–Success!
    • Flexibility and too much plasma hydration remain limiters, especially on the bike.

Some quick thoughts on the race.  I’ll sit down and pound out a more thorough race report in a few days.

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An Odd Benefit: Logistics of Training

Scott Herrick, talks about the necessity of keeping your supply train running smoothly during training, especially for Ironman.  Here, he is referring to all the myriad activities which are necessary just so you can show up each day, ready to train.  Washing training gear, washing water bottles, buying food, preparing homemade concoctions, resupplying worn gear, shopping, scheduling training, bike maintenance–the list is long–and then, doing all these things well in advance.

There is a training effect from wrestling these decidedly non-training tasks into place.  Whereas, being in the best shape of my life is definitely a boon for my general health, well being, and balanced mind-state, the supporting activities are also a boon for the pure organization of my life and my mind.

Simply being forced to think about fitting all the pieces together, and the ensuing effort to fit them together, has made my life in general more organized and simplified.

This has been a progressive adaptation.  Much like muscular development:  I started out small, adapted, increased intensity, adapted, and progressed.  Beginning years ago with a gym program, then getting increasingly back into running, then layering on triathlon, then longer distances of triathlon and more races, now Ironman, which I consider a separate category due to the unique pressures of its training.

I am more thoughtful about my commitments.  I am more organized.  My day-to-day activities are streamlined and simplified.  I have been forced to actually abide by my MIT task-management philosophy.  My mental state is clearer.  Not to mention, my laundry not only gets washed, but even folded.

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–Jalal

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Race Report: Georgia Veterans Triathlon 2012

Georgia Veterans Sprint Triathlon 2012 logo

Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint).  I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.

My previous posts for this race:

2010 Race Report

2011 One Year In

This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida.  My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies.  From those respects, everything went very nicely.

Down and Dirty

I really enjoy this race.  It was my first triathlon.  This is my third time doing it.  The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun.  This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement.  There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky.  However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start.  I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues.  It was a good day.

Distances:  400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run.  With relay team option, also

Course:  Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop  bike, no aid stations;

5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).

Registration:  $55, early mail-in, USAT member.  I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .

Host:  Georgia Multisport

Race Results

Weather:   I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race.  It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms.  (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway).  It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water.  The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point.  Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl.  Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things.  Same goes for the bike.  The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash.  He stated all was good, though.  My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt.  Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course.  Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.

Terrain:

  • Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp.   A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
  • Bike–Fairly flat.  The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical.  A couple of slow risers on the second half.  Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
  • Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5.  Punch it after the last turn.

Competition:   Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.

My results:  Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run.  An improvement for me all things considered.  My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike.  Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions.  Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it.  On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.

General Impression:   I really enjoy this race.  It is well organized.  Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority.  There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks.  Nice looking t-shirt.

Room for improvement:   No complaints.

This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay.  This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar.  The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel.  Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day.  Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before.  How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?

My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.

  • I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
  • I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
  • New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
  • New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.

I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am.  Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while.  Got a good warm up swim.  Bust the race.  Ate some post race food.  Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament.  After the tournament, drove home one hour.  Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.

Such is the life.

It was a good day.

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–Jalal

Find me on Twitter.  Twitter.com/Old454


Road to Ironman: Day 250 (trust the training?)

Wow.  I’ve been on this road for 250 days.  Today my hams, glutes, right knee and left achilles are bugging me.  The hams and glutes are from a return to heavy deadlifts this week.  The knee is from my ride last Sunday which revealed some mechanical adjustments I need to make to my set up.  The achilles is a flexibility issue, radiating down into my ankle.  I ran 6.8 miles yesterday at 11+ pace.  Not very impressive.

Taking all this into account, it doesn’t feel like I’m making great progress.  However, when I look at my training charts, I can see that I’m posting bigger everything than I ever have, even the month of 70.3 Augusta last year–particularly when I look at overall effort, which I tracked very simply as calories burned.  There are a couple of outlier weeks–like the actual week of Augusta, and the week of Warner Robbins 13.1.  On the other hand, weeks of other races, which used to be outliers, Olympic distances, for example, now look like normal training volumes.

The great insight in all this?  I couldn’t tell you, really.  I do know that according to my volumes, I’m ready for Augusta right now–8 weeks out.  My prep for Augusta, is really my full Ironman plan, pushed up by 6 weeks.  Thus, though it does not feel like it–I’m on track to be good for Florida.

Maybe the insight is trust the training.  What do you think?

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Jalal

 


How I Spent My Weekend, By Kent Lassman

Nice to see a non-Kona piece.

Radical Immersion

At 23 minutes, a bit long.  Heavy on the emotion.  Wonderful images telling the story of the race.

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20 Week Ironman Training: Road to Ironman

Today will finish out Week 2 of a 20-week build to Augusta.  The 20-week plan is actually a full Ironman distance plan.  My objective is to build 20 weeks into Augusta, take a week off, and then repeat the last five weeks going into Panama City.

For the past several months my focus has been building muscular strength and power, as well as rebuilding my swim stroke.  At some point in my final training stretch I need to cut down the heavy lifts and gym session frequency.  A couple of weeks ago my right knee felt weird doing front squats, which precipitated a break from leg work in the gym.  That on the heels of my back seizure incident, let’s me know the timing for this switch was right.   With double sessions virtually every day, the recovery time needed from heavy lifts and three times a week frequency creates too heavy a training load.

Week one went well, and I capped it off with Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon.

This past week, my local county pool was closed for routine maintenance going into Memorial Day, so that gave me the opportunity to get some extra gym work in. Knees are feeling better.

Right now I am as fit as I was going into Augusta last year.  My specific race fitness isn’t there, particularly in the run.  However, on the bike and in the water, with little race specific training, I am stronger than ever.

For the past several weeks I’ve been repeating the week one training going into the actual 20 Week build.  However,  my recent back incident and Life have made it slightly difficult.  I have however, been able to reproduce the swim side for the past few weeks.

Additionally, those unexpected interruptions have left me feeling stronger.  And if there were any doubt, today in the gym I was able to do five sets of power cleans, where my best to that point has been three.

Strength training wise, I’ll  go down to twice a week in the gym, with a calisthenic & running speed session, for example Tabata protocol, or Crossfit-style “Helens”.

Given the past few races, and recent long sessions these are my emphases for this season:

  • Swim–technique and endurance.
  • Bike–muscular endurance.
  • Run–Muscular endurance, Speed.

–Jalal

 

 


Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon, Jekyll Island: Race Report

triathlon swimmers ready for ocean swim start at Jekyll Turtle CrawlThis past weekend I raced in my first Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon, Olympic distance.  Jekyll is definitely a beautiful setting.  I had looked at this race last year, but scheduling in May is a toughie.  However, with Ironman Florida looming, and between its Gulf Coast ocean swim, and run/bike terrain, Jekyll seemed like a great prep race.

Before going further, let me say this report is tempered by the reality that a man, Christopher Petty, died during or shortly after the swim portion of the race.

We had vacationed in the area earlier in the year, swimming at St. Simons and Jekyll.  I did not have great confidence being able to execute a decent stroke for any real distance in the surf.  However, in the time since, my stroke in the pool has greatly improved, and a good bit has transferred to open water training (in the lake, albeit).

Down and Dirty

Once we got going, this was a fun race.  The volunteers are all super friendly, the locals are great (hard to be a hard-ass living on Jekyll).  There were some organizational glitches and one outright tragedy.  However, I would recommend this race.

Distances:  1500 meter swim, 28 mile bike, 10k run.  With relay, sprint, and 5k- & 10k- only options.

Course:  Point-to-point 1500 meter swim along the Jekyll Island ocean-side coast;
28 mile loop (essentially) bike, one bottle exchange station; 10k out and back run, two water stations.

Registration:  $85, 95, & 105 depending on how early you register, USAT member.  There is a mail-in option. SetUp Events has an unsecured login and registration page.  One lady assured me the payment processing was secured, but I don’t do unsecured logins.

Host:  SetUp Events

Race Results

Weather:   Weather was beautiful.  When I got on the island I heard the water temps were 72ish, that morning, someone said 74.  Regardless, the water was an ideal temperature–Wetsuit legal.  My second race in  my new Xterra john suit.  There was some rain the day before, but that seemed to only enhance the race conditions.

Terrain:

  • Swim–A long walk down the beach to the swim start.  Wave start on the beach, into the surf, hang a right and swim 1500 meters, hang another right and swim out.  Slightly swimming against the current exiting the water.
  • Bike–Pretty flat.  Some slopes and rises, not even rollers.  The issue is the cross- and head-winds.  It was really a cross wind, so on the way back no tail-wind benefit.  Apparently, good Florida training.
  • Run–Virtually same terrain as the ride.  A paved stretch with the beach to your side.  Dappled shade.

Competition:   Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.  Given the destination angle of the race, there were a good mix of mid-packers and a more than usual dose of relayers.  The relayers tend to skew your perspective on each leg of race.

My results:  Back of the pack swim, mid-pack bike, mid-pack run.  Giving myself a break on this one, as I still had a cold or something, and was racing after working hard all day, getting on the road late, and only catching a couple of hours sleep.

General Impression:   Fun race.  Idyllic setting & conditions.  Some organizational flaws.  Post-race recovery food was virtually non-existent.  There was a food truck selling food.  The Muscle Milk girls were there.

Room for improvement:   I usually don’t have a long list of complaints, however, I think this list is justified.  Regardless, it does not prevent me from recommending the race.

  1. Arriving at my hotel at 1:30am, necessitated early morning packet pick up.  The packet pickup process was terrible.  The volunteers were not empowered to make decisions to move the line faster, and could only process one person at a time off of a single paper registration list.  This took the already stressful transition setup process, and made it far more stressful than necessary by sucking up all the time.
  2. There was no pre-race briefing.  We were informed via email that all the info was available in an online doc, and there would be no pre-race briefing.  There are several issues with this, one immediate on being that pulling up online docs while on the road is not always fool-proof.  The other being that the briefing has a real purpose to inform participants of changes and new issues right before they start.  The briefing is not a check-the-block kind of thing.  Several niggling annoyances could have been avoided with a good pre-race brief right before the start.
  3. No port-a-potties.  One after the race lady told me she saw one, but I saw none during the race, not at transition or anywhere else.
  4. Post race recovery food was utterly lacking.  There was water and Gatorade at the finish line.  Aside from that, I did not see any bananas, bagels or anything else.  The Muscle Milk ladies were there, and that is always nice, but not quite the same.

Tragedy

There is debate about the ocean conditions and the race’s level of organization.  I noticed one boat assisting a swimmer, however I did not see anyone in actual distress.  I did not find the ocean to be too rough to swim, though I could see how it may have been hard for rescue kayaks to track and get to swimmers.  One of my major criticisms is there were some organizational breakdowns.  From my perspective during the race these were mostly annoying, not deadly.  My initial reading of the reports indicate that the actual responders–the rescuers, EMTs, and State Patrol–all responded quickly and appropriately.  It seems that the after-incident notification & reporting to emergency contacts and next of kin, was an issue, something I can imagine.  I have noted some shortcomings, that definitely need to be addressed going forward.  I don’t know to what extent, if at all, they contributed to Mr. Petty’s death, but the devil is in the details.

Triathlon is a dangerous sport, something that racers and organizers need to keep in mind, and be reminded of at all times.  Many are saying the swim should have been cancelled.  I don’t think so.  The water was not unmanageable.  It is an ocean swim after all.  However, but all steps need to be in place, and taken seriously.

The Race

I mentioned earlier that May is a tough month the schedule, however, it is an important month to get in some test races.  This year, on top of the usual soccer schedules, and end of the year school stuff, we are dealing with graduation stuff.  I did not fully understand the impact that graduation stuff was going to have on my schedule in general.  This race was no exception.

I generally, look at my schedule, consult with my wife, and try to shoehorn in personal race, training, and other stuff where I can.  After doing all that, this past weekend seemed to work.  Mother’s Day was the weekend before.  Graduation was several day after.  The regular club soccer season was over, the high school playoffs were done, and the State Cup series would be two weeks out.  But of course, it didn’t work out like that.

Originally, I had planned to leave around noon Friday, get to Jekyll, pick up my packet early, set up my gear, hit the hotel, maybe watch the sunset on the beach.  Actually, at one point, I envisioned making a mini-vacay with my wife out of this, but that evaporated a long time ago.

What actually happened was I was informed the day before that my son’s signing day ceremony would be at 2:30pm in the afternoon (automatic arriving in Jekyll like 10pm), worked all day, pushing to make headway on projects we are already behind on, had to address some domestic logistic issues, and didn’t get on the road until crazy late, arriving at Jekyll at 1:30am in the morning.  I couldn’t fall asleep for another hour, and then started to trying to wake up at 4:45am.

I got to transition about 6am, which should have been plenty of time to get my packet, setup transition, and do everything I needed to.  With the aforementioned glitches, it wasn’t.  Luckily my transition set up is very straight forward, only needing about five minutes to do.

The walk to the swim start is long–be prepared.

Once in the water, I figured swimming in the breakers would be impossible, so I swam out as I could beyond the breakers, and once in the swells, the swimming was manageable.  I saw people struggling in the breakers.  Definitely swim out to the flatter water.  It took a while, but I was able to settle down to a decent free-style.  Alternating sides.  Timing the swells.  Sighting off of the water towers on shore.  Around the last buoy and back to shore.

T1 was uneventful.  I’m working out how to best deploy my homemade Lara bars.  Packaging and carrying during the race is still slightly awkward.  The wetsuit came off super easy this time.  One fitting, one open water swim, and two races later.  Breaking in is key.

The bike was also uneventful.  Beautiful.  A couple of inconsiderate drivers.  After five miles my legs loosened up, and I was able to push my cadence for the remaining 23.  There was a fairly steady cross-wind on the way out.  It was more of three-quarter wind, needing to actually lean into it at times, and forcing me into aero for most of the ride.  Typically, aero is a big issue for me, causing my back to seize up.  However, I had recently adjusted my set up, going for a shorter, more vertical aerobar reach, and had no back issues.

One other big guy and I were hopeful for a tail wind on the way back, but no such thing.  Only less of a cross wind.

In T2 a lady drug her bike through my towel and space, fortunately, not disrupting my gear too much.  I helped her get her bike situated.  Looking at my T2 split, it might have cost me 10 seconds.  And my gear survived.  No biggie.

The run went well.  I kept my stride short, and maintained my form fairly well.  I could feel my hamstrings on the verge of cramping during the last few miles, so I’m confident that I did not hold back.