Control What You Can

Despite the best well-laid plans, there can still be a few things out of one’s control on race day. That’s what happened to me yesterday at IM 70.3 California. Despite a couple of things I could not control, I’m pleased with my race results and time with my third 70.3 race, 5:27:29. Though it’s not a 70.3 PR, it’s close to my PR, which I set on a much easier course at Vineman 70.3. For this race, I was very well-prepared to execute my race plan 0:35 swim, 2:30 bike, and 1:40-1:45 run.

Setup: As usual I woke up early and was one of the first people in line to enter Transition. I claimed the end spot on my rack, set my stuff up, talked with other Breakaway athletes, and hung out with Eric. I ate a second breakfast at 5:30 AM for more calories since my first meal was at 3:30 AM. I used the porta-potty four times. I even had to pee right before the swim, and peed in my wetsuit while waiting in the swim corral. I’m sure the woman next to me knew that was my pee on the ground, but the transition area was closed and I didn’t feel like undoing my wetsuit to pee in the porta-potties inside the corral. Oh well, hopefully she didn’t step in the puddle of pee I left behind.

Finishing the swim

Finishing the swim

 

Swim (0:38:45): Water temperature was 62°F, much warmer than last year’s 54°. I didn’t wear my thermal cap underneath my white race cap. Other than the 10 minute ocean swim Eric and I did a few days ago, this would be my first long ocean swim of the season. I dreaded it. I met up with Maria and friends at the dock as my wave entered the water. I dunked myself underneath the water and allowed the water to fill my suit. As the wave before me left, my wave then swam out to the start buoys where we waited for our 7:36 AM wave start.

As per my plan, I started mid-pack and to the right. I’d let the ambitious swimmers fight for position near the front while I’m content to find my own space and avoid the initial bump and grind. When it was all said and done, I took two minutes off my swim time as compared to last year’s race.

If there was one thing I would have liked to change about the swim it would be my attitude. All I could think about was: “I can’t wait for this swim to be over.” The swim out to the turn around point seemed to take forever, which only aggravated me even more. The highlight of the swim was when I bopped some woman in the head with my right arm/hand. I kept swimming and she stopped. “Nice!”, she said. I wish I could have stopped to laugh out loud, but all I wanted to do was get this swim over with and on to the good stuff. In my mind, I thought: “Get over it, lady. Swim faster next time so later waves won’t catch you.”

T1 (0:5:24): The run from swim in back to T1 is long. So I started peeling the top part of my wetsuit off while running back to T1. My struggles with removing the wetsuit from my ankles continue. I think I wasted about 40 seconds struggling with it. Finally with the wetsuit off, I put on my race number, helmet, and shoes and headed out for my 56-mile adventure.

Bike (2:43:15): I was eager to get out on the bike course, my obvious strength. Equipped with a PowerTap wheel I rented from Race Day Wheels, My goal was to sustain an average power output of 235 watts and a time of 2:30. I would need to average 22.4 mph. I did okay for the first 28 miles, averaging about 23 mph. Unfortunately, I spent too much energy sustaining that speed because my average power for the first half was 245 watts.

When I reached the steep first climb, I really wanted to attack that hill and climb hard. But I was really surprised that the right side of the road was blocked. In their infinite wisdom the race officials decided that the athletes would use the narrow left side of the road. I was pretty annoyed. About half way up, I said “Screw it” and rode on the right side of road with other athletes who were fed up.

After the first tough climb, I noticed my average speed was much lower. I knew some fatigue had set in, but not enough to slow me down that much. After a mile or so, I realized that I was riding into some tough headwinds, which made the bike ride that much slower. After the third hill, I rode about 24 mph average back to transition. When all was said and done, my bike time was about the same as last year’s ride. I think the headwinds basically ruined my race plan. My average speed for the ride dropped to 20.6 mph and average power dropped to 214 watts. Despite my best preparations for the ride of my life, I had no control over the wind. I would have to deal with the extra 10 minutes I had not planned on.

Hit <Esc> to skip the following rant…

<rant>I spent pretty much the whole bike course riding on the left side of other athletes, passing them. The course seemed really crowded to me. On one part near the campgrounds by Camp Pendleton there were three riders across the road blocking my way. The one on the farthest left was some jackass woman lollygagging. I yelled out at her: “Pass if you’re gonna pass.” I heard her yell something unintelligible to me as I passed her. I wanted to give her the California Condor, but I was too busy going 28 mph while she was probably going 17 mph.</rant>

Read the rest of this entry »

Ohhh! Ching-Chong-Ling-Long-Ting-Tong

Sorry, if you were looking for commentary about that blond girl going wild on Asians in Powell Library at UCLA, then you found the wrong article.

It seems like forever since my last post, and it also seems like a lot has happened. In the last month, I moved up an age group to the 45-49 AG when I turned 45. And while you youngsters out there think that we more venerable athletes are slowing down, I’m actually finding that the athletes at the top of the older age groups seem to get faster and/or retain their speed from their youth. I’m both nervous and excited about competing in the new AG. Why nervous? Well, it seems like it just gets tougher and tougher every year. And this AG is no exception. There are some fast, tough, badass people in my new AG. Excited? Heck yea! I have made huge gains in my nutrition and training this past month, so I am stoked to put these gains to the test in my first triathlon of the season this weekend at IM 70.3 California.

I’ve recently become a huge fan of Ben Greenfield’s podcast of http://bengreenfieldfitness.com. Ben is a nutrition expert, exercise physiologist, elite triathlete, and renowned fitness coach. I highly recommend you subscribe to his fitness podcasts unless of course you and I are in the same age group. If you and I are in the same age group, don’t listen to the podcasts because they suck and will be a huge waste  of your time.

From Mr. Greenfield I learned about the importance of supplementing my diet with essential amino acids and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). And it’s not about eating enough protein, fool. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a total carnivore. Well at least, as an omnivore I enjoy a good share of lean meats in my daily diet. From personal experience, I can validate that consumption of amino acids before, during, and after exercise have enabled me to have increased stamina and endurance. I can ride harder, longer. I can run faster and farther, extending the time out when my body begins to fatigue. I won’t bore you with my regimen and products, but contact me if you’re interested. Or you can just listen to the aforementioned podcasts.

Case in point. On February 19th I did a bike course preview of the IM 70.3 California on a Computrainer. My volume of training that week was a little more than 13 hours, and by the time that I did the course, I was exhausted. At the time I was just supplementing my diet with my regular sport drinks, Infinit and VITALYTE. I completed the 56-mile course utterly fatigued in a time of 2:51 and an average power output of 209 watts. I started my new amino acid regimen shortly after that.

After experiencing amazing results for four weeks, I completed the Computrainer course again on March 19th. That week my training volume was a little longer at almost 15 hours. And by the end of the week I felt fantastic, not tired. During the ride I purposely stayed in 2nd for the first part of the course behind my buddy, Eric, for 30 miles. My strategy was to follow closely behind until we reached the first hill. I climbed hard and waited to see what would happen. Then I climbed the next two hills and amazingly I had lots of energy remaining. I finished the course in 2:37 (average 237 watts), and apparently, I was only the third person in the history of that gym to finish in under 2 hours 40 minutes. The best part of the ride was that I had no cramps afterward, and was able to run well for 20 minutes. NOTE: For this particular workout I also supplemented my amino acid-laced drinks with SaltStick capsules, one every half hour.

With regards to training, you may remember that just a few months ago I was sidelined with an injury to my hip flexors. I’ve been going to physical therapy to deal with that and finished my final session last week. My legs and hips seem stronger than ever thanks to the workout regimen my evil therapist prescribed to me each week. The one old “new” thing I’ve reintroduced into my training regimen is doing strength training three times a week. Prior to triathlon I used to be a gym rat, but when I started training seriously for tris, I stopped strength training. I won’t repeat myself too much since I already wrote a blog about this topic, but I will never give up strength training again. I feel great and for sure, it has been my key to rehabilitating and preventing injury. Strength training, stretching, dynamic warm-ups, foam rolling. Just do it.

Short of jinxing myself this Saturday at the race, here are my goals. Finish the swim in 35 min, bike in 2:30, and run 1:40-ish (if I can avoid cramps). What time do I want? You do the math. But keep it to yourself. I don’t want to get jinxed!

 

Second 70.3 – Redemption at Vineman

Vineman 70.3 logoI don’t have a good track record for writing my race reports on time so I think it’s pretty good that this is going up only a week after the race.

I had very high expectations of myself for this race, especially since my first 70.3 race last March at Oceanside did not go as planned. I wanted to finish this race well under 6 hours and close to the 5:15 mark. Overall, I am very pleased with my results and the execution of my race plan. My official race time was 5:21:53.

Read the rest of this entry »

IM70.3 CA 2010

IRONMAN 70.3 CaliforniaThis was it. The day had arrived: March 27, 2010. I’ve been mentally gearing up for this day since I registered for this race 10 months ago on May 26, 2009. I’d say that I began my serious training and preparation for my first IRONMAN 70.3 at the beginning of 2010.

Of the four elements in triathlon, yes I meant to say four, I identified two liabilities to work on in my race preparation. One, swimming. Two, nutrition.

Since January, I’ve been swimming at least three times per week for about 5 miles/week. Each Tuesday, I swam on my own at LA Fitness, following the swim workout created for me by my coach. For my other two weekly swims each Wednesday and Friday, I joined a Master’s Swim program with the Escondido Swim Club. In the last four months, I have swum about 95,000 yards. My swim pace decreased from about 1:50/100 yards when I first began to my current fastest pace of 1:37/100 yards. I swam my fastest 1.2 miles in the pool in 41:37.

For as much as I could control about my apprehension of water, I did as much as I could in the pool to overcome any doubts and fears. Swimming, swimming, and more swimming. I definitely improved both my speed and my endurance.

The big question still lingering: How would I do in the ocean? Where the water is dark and cold. Where there are tons of other people around me splashing and kicking in my face. The day before the race, I downloaded a race preview talk given by professional triathlete and coach, Jim Vance. I planned to follow his advice to acclimate to the cold waters of the Oceanside Harbor:

  1. Warm up prior to the swim so that I’m sweaty with the wetsuit on.
  2. Dunk my face and head into the water and breathe to prevent hyperventilating.
  3. Let my wetsuit fill up with water.
  4. Choose an appropriate place to start in relation to the other swimmers based on my ability.

With respect to nutrition, I enlisted the aid of expert nutritionist, Kim Mueller, of Fuel Factor. She performed a diet and exercise analysis on me. From the diet analysis, she created a baseline meal plan for me of 2200 calories per day, along with a plan for extra calories to account for pre-workout, work, and post-workout recovery. In the last four months, I learned a lot from Kim about how and when to eat to fuel my workouts and races as well as recover from them. Armed with a new nutrition regimen for the last four months, I must say I have never felt better. In the past four months, not only have I maintained a sub-10% body fat percentage, but I have also felt great for all but two of my workouts and events. My nutrition and diet, the fourth discipline of triathlon, have given me confidence in my body’s ability to perform based on providing it with the most ideal fuel.

A week before the race, Kim gave me the best advice. I think it was the key for my mental outlook on race day. She said:

Just go out there and have fun. Enjoy each sport as you do them. You’ve already done the hard part and all the work. The race is the easy part.

This totally put me at ease. Along with the tips from Jim Vance, I felt very relaxed for my swim! I don’t think I have ever been more prepared for a race before. Swimming, cycling, and running had all peaked at the right time.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Quest for Ironman Begins

Now that I’ve achieved my goal of the Triple Crown in 2009, I’m shifting my focus to 2010 and beyond.

In the long term, I would like to complete an Ironman race in 2011. I’m thinking of one of these:

  • Ironman Cozumel (November 2011)
  • Ironman Florida (November 2011)
  • Ironman Hawaii (if I get in through the lottery, October 2011)

The Ironman race is 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run (full marathon) for a total of 140.6 miles. Sounds crazy? It is.

During the year that I do my first Ironman, I definitely want to do Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, as well as run a couple of full marathons (like Carlsbad in January 2011 and maybe the NYC Marathon in November 2011).

In the near term, I plan to have only two or three A races in 2010, all focused on the half-Ironman distance:

As the name implies, the half-Ironman race is 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run (half marathon) for a total 0f 70.3 miles.

If my training is going well, I may do:

  • Wildflower (long course), April 30 – May 2, 2010
  • Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (in Kona), June 5, 2010

Bring it!