Sunday, July 28, 2013

7/22 - 7/28 - Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

2013 Chisago Triathlon - Swim Exit
Every year I train all winter and it seems like it takes forever before you can test any fitness gains. It can be quite frustrating as the the time creeps by ever slow slowly as you gut it out day-after-day fighting to grow faster than your competition. Without the constant feedback of racing it can be tough to know what you should be focusing on. That stands in stark contrast to my summers where the routine is basically train, eat, sleep, pack, race, unpack and repeat. Racing this summer has definitely continued to reiterate the importance of a great swim, but it can also be incredibly difficult to make solid gains mid-season. Now another week has flown by and the routine is complete but here is a little insight to the week:

After Ironman Racine last week, I got right back to work. There are no off days, only easy days. And as I get to the later part of the season I am switching the focus to build some late season endurance. Many coaches like to add the speed at the end of the season in preparation for their key races, but I find it works better for me to work on it early season and see how that new speed translates to the longer distance. Ideally you make efficiency gains with speed that can directly correlate to holding the same pace at a lower level of effort. With that being said I didn't get in the necessary volume I would have liked but that is ok and will make up for it in the coming days.

2013 Chisago Triathlon - Run Finish
As for racing this week, well I decided to head up to the Twin Cities to race in a great little local race put on by Midwest Sports in Chisago City. They offer both a sprint and half and both draw the local pros in the area and it is always very competitive. Last year I was signed up for the half, but fell ill earlier on in race week. After starting the Z-pak a few day priors to the race I decided to switch to the sprint but had a terrible result and was still feeling quite sick on race day. Needless to say I didn't have the best race I could produce and I was disappointed with my 2nd place finish to Minnesota pro Devon Palmer.

This year I wanted redemption and I also wanted to do a little recon of Devon for what is being dubbed "The Great IronGopher-Badger War". Devon will be the lone pro triathlete from Minnesota competing at this spectacle on September 8th at Ironman Wisconsin. From the Badger's side we will have a strong contingent of pro athletes including Blake Becker, Chris Wichert, Paul Eicher, Will Smith, and myself. Devon was fortunately signed up for the sprint again and I am happy to report that I reversed the results of last year as I captured my 3rd win of the season, and career win #23. Results below:

Overall Results - 2013 Chisago Sprint Triathlon


Lastly I want to thank Trijuice for providing the photographs for use in this weekly update.  I also wanted to thank my cousin, his wife, and son for coming out and cheering me on.
2013 Chisago Triathlon - Bike Finish

My weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 200 Miles / 17 hours 54 minutes
Swim: 21,1106 yards / ~11 miles / 5 hours 52 minutes
Bike: 168 miles / 9 hours 41 minutes
Run: 21 miles / 2 hours 20 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

My Cousin Mark and his son Matt

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7/15 - 7/21 - Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

Ironman Racine 70.3 was the race that started it all for me way back in 2006. Back then Ironman Racine was called the Spirit of Racine and I can still remember vividly how inept I was at triathlon on that day. I can remember trying to put on wet socks and sitting down in transition. I can remember how fast the winner - David Thompson - looked on his bike as I headed out as he headed in. And I can remember how my legs felt like jello as I started the half marathon on a warm and cloudless Racine day.

Fast forward to today and I think about just how far I have come. No, it was instantaneous success like some athletes seem to have. Over the past numerous years I have been a true student of the sport, grinding away day-after-day as I make the tiniest of gains. I have made tremendous sacrifices along the way, but have also met some wonderful people. Needless to say it has been a great journey, but one that is far for complete.

But before I go on I wanted to delve into a topic I have been meaning to write about and that has to do with "race" purpose. Every time I toe the line I toe it with purpose. Unlike many athletes, I am not necessary out there to win the race, set a PR, or even to finish. In fact, I think too often, people lose sight of their real goals and why they got into the sport in the first place. For me it comes back to a common problem that exists in American culture - the need for instant gratification. Personally I like to the think of myself as someone who invests for the long-term, but I also disagree with people who take it to the infinitum. What is long-term and short-term is different for different people, and where people fall in the spectrum is really not important - it is all personal choice.

My Commuter and "Group Ride" Bike
To further paint a picture of my personality I will use my choice of bike for group rides. It is a 50lb bike, with some of the beefiest prototype Powercranks you have ever seen, with rear baskets, and rack, 42mm bullet proof tires and thorn proof tubes, and rims that would stand up to downhill mountain biking. Needless to say it puts me at huge disadvantage on group rides, and especially so in the attacks. But I am not out there to "win" these groups rides. I am not in search of the fastest equipment out there to make these group rides as easy possible. No, I am out there so I can work at being the best cyclist I can be. And I work at being the best cyclist so I can run as close to my potential as possible, and this is all so I can be the best triathlete I can possibly be, but no, not every day is a race.

Today was definitely not a race for me. Sure there was a finisher's medal and results that are tabulated. And this is not to take away from anybody's performance out there. Also, this isn't some sort of explanation or excuse. It is simply a point in time where I thought it would be appropriate to explain a little bit more about me and what I am working towards. I know there are all sort of readers to the blog and I get all sorts of feedback from you. I know everyone has different backgrounds and some people are not yet participants of the sport so it may be impossible to explain it without being exceedingly verbose but less I try.

Simply put, I am out there to be the best triathlete I can possibly be. I am out there to push the boundaries of how far I think I can take my own body. Along the way, if that happens to be a world champion than so be it, but I am not there, not even close, and I may never be. I do have an immediate goal and that is to win an Ironman. I know a lot of that comes down to the right race, with the right field, on the right day, but it is a realistic and achievable goal.

Ironman Racine 70.3 fits into that plan of winning an Ironman. On paper with results it might not be easy to see how. And I would by lying if I had a set of blueprints to exactly how the day would go. I don't, and although I believe in having a plan, I also believe that the enemy of good is perfect. So I went to Racine, WI because it is sort of like a hometown race for me. It is close and gives me experience without expensive travel and downtime away from my training base. And there are many more benefits to list but the list is endless and I won't bore you with any more.

A Canoe Division Takes Off @ The Paddle & Portage
A Canoe Division Takes Off @ The Paddle & Portage
As for race week, well the lead up to the race was difficult. After my double last weekend I laid on the accelerator all the way up to Thursday night doing V02 max intervals in the arb. The high temps, with high humidity, and running in dew points above 70 just added to the difficulty. I was absolutely torched on Friday and Saturday, but that was quite alright, and expected. I did get chance to get the race juices flowing a bit on Saturday by watching my brother-in-law race in the Paddle and Portage in Madison, WI, but needless to say I wasn't really sure how I would feel on race morning. As I wrote last week this was a low risk, almost no reward race, but the loose plan was to swim hard, bike hard, and cruise the run.


Crossing the Isthmus At Paddle & Portage
Crossing the Isthmus At Paddle & Portage
So race morning came and I felt ok. I was a little tight which is kind of weird because usually I wake up pretty loose regardless of how much sleep I get. After starting the swim I quickly realized the arms were still torched so there would be no hard swim. Normally, I do ok in chop, and this race had plenty of it, but it also requires a high-turnover which I seemingly didn't have today. Onto the bike and I was planning on doing a nice 20 minute warm up before hitting the gas for a good hour, but the legs felt absolutely awful. Watts were terrible, like below IM, and by mile 2, yes mile 2, I could already feel a burn in my quads. I decided to sit in for a bit and let someone else dictate the pace as I fell into base training watts. I thought at 30 minutes in that maybe I would do a hard interval to the next competitor, recover, and repeat. This would keep the intervals shorter, but harder, but in the end I decided just to keep it easy for a bit longer. Then at some point I found myself with a group of 4-5 and fellow pro Ryan Rau was leading the charge. After a nice pull, he looked back and was looking for help so I moved to the front and that was it.

I was planning only pulling for 5 minutes, but the boys were gone by 5 minutes so I made it 10. Then boys dangling in front made it 15 and more boys in front made it 20 and I kept advancing until I caught up to a bonking Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt and Brandon Barrett. This was after 40 minutes of hammering and my general rule is when you hammer and gobble up Olympians that you ease up. It was at mile 48 this happened and I figured it would be a good time to ease off the pace, but the pace was awful and I quickly grew tired of it so I put in another solid effort heading into town.
Head Down - Watts Up - Thanks Ali!!

Onto the run and it was going to be run a mile, stretching routine, and repeat. That was going pretty well until Angela Neath caught me and she was completely gassing it as she was running for her life and the win. I always admire people who can dig so deep and Angela sounded like she could collapse at any second. Simply out of respect for her honest effort I went with her stride-for-stride. I was reminded tonight by a friend that it wasn't the initial plan I set and it is true that I didn't stick to that original plan, but I love to watch winners and how they react. I learned a lot from Angela in the process and so I consider it to be a worthwhile deviation. And although the 6:15 mile pace was a little faster than I wanted to do the last 4.5 miles in, I'm sure Angela would say I ran well within my limits at that point.

In the end I had great time at Racine and I got a nice little block in on the bike. Although it may not seem like much, knowing what watts is required to break clean and free of a group is important. This is especially important on a flat course like Racine where it is notoriously hard to drop weaker riders. Although my 40min power effort was 321w (5 feet 8 inches, 155 lbs), I will not say what 5 min power was required to create that initial gap, but I will thank my 50 pound commuter for helping to give me the power to make it. Considering the whole ride was a measly 271w I think that should give an idea of just how weak the ride was when I wasn't pushing.

Lastly I also wanted to thank a couple of people. I wanted to thank AJ Baucco and Daniel Bretscher for both loaning me helmets for the race - I left mine in Madison, WI in a flight of panic to make the Pro meeting in time. I wanted to thank Cole Braun, race director of the Pewaukee triathlon for meeting me in transition with my 2XU wetsuit that I left at his race the week prior. I wanted to thank my Aunt Kathie for the great homestay. And Ali Engin for his photography.

My weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 222 Miles / 20 hours 17 minutes
Swim: 21,1106 yards / ~12 miles / 6 hours 32 minutes
Bike: 168 miles / 8 hours 36 minutes
Run: 42 miles / 5 hours 08 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

Monday, July 15, 2013

7/8 - 7/14 - Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

The Double Weekend
Every year I try to sneak in a race weekend where I end up attempting the double. This year that weekend just happened to be this past Saturday at the Evergreen Olympic Triathlon in Hudson, Illinois and on Sunday at the Pewaukee Sprint Triathlon in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Overall I can't really complain about how things went as I was able to finish on the podium at Evergreen in third and I took the win at Pewaukee.

Coming into the week I was absolutely destroyed. One thing I failed to mention in last week's update was how deep I had to dig in the last part of the Decatur triathlon. Although I recognized it at the time and backed off at the very end, the damage was already done and in the end I would get knocked off the podium in the final 1/2 mile of the race. It was a pretty bitter pill to swallow as I could have avoided the whole incident had I done my homework, got the start list, and researched everyone's capabilities. In this case there was a 29-min 10K guy who I simply was not aware of who is apart of USAT elite development program - he ended up running a legit 4.5 miles @ 4:57 pace on a cloudness hot and humid Decatur day. Anyway, the end result was smashed legs. In fact, the legs were so bad on Wednesday that all I could muster was 12x800 at 3:15 with 400 recovery. Normally I should be able to do something like 12x800 at 2:30 or faster 400 with recovery. I was able to get in a solid group ride on Tuesday that may have also contributed to the leg fatigue for the Wednesday run. Anyway, as a result I decided to take Thursday completely off and took a normal easier day on Friday before heading to the Evergreen Triathlon.

I had been looking forward to the Evergreen Triathlon all year. Last year I had a so-so race that left me immediately sick after the race and ruined my double last year which was to be complete with Ironman Racine the following day. Needless to say I was itching to get back and see what I could do. However, that all changed after arriving at my homestay with fellow pros Bryan Rhodes and Brooks Cowan and finding out that Colin Riley and the guy who ran me down the previous weekend would be there. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't worry about competition, it was simply that I wasn't really looking forward to getting in a real dog fight and the race was shaping up to be one for sure. Ideally if you are going to get in a dog fight you want it to be the second race anyway.

Evergreen race morning came quickly and I chatted with Colin Riley in transition and I explained to him that there was a very good runner in the field capable of running 31:XX in the 10K. Triathlon is 1000% more tactical than people think it is. Onto the swim and I had a great swim hanging just off the back of Colin Riley's feet. The last time we raced was at Copper Creek triathlon in 2012 and he came in about 1 minute ahead of me in a swim half the length. Onto the bike I forged ahead but the gap wasn't opening up as fast as I would have liked so I opted to soft-pedal and wait for Riley. Riley did the heavy lifting in catching back up to Rhodes and Cowan - which was about 13 miles in - and then I went to work in making sure the group was riding as fast as possible to get as large of gap as possible over Justin Roeder who was the guy I was worried about for the run.

We rolled into transition and we went out four strong on the run with Riley making an initial surge and gaining ten yards. I was able to see Justin Roeder still coming in on the bike and I knew I had at least a 4-5 minute lead at that point. I surged a bit to pass Rhodsey and then Brooks surged and passed myself and continued on past Riley. The interesting dynamic in this group was that Brooks, Rhodsey and myself were all pulling the double, and I especially wanted to relax a bit on the run. Then with a stroke of luck Rhodsey backed it off and I knew at the point I just had to run 36:30 to guarantee the final podium spot. And that is exactly what I did as Brooks went on to win and Rhodsey took 5th.

Men's Elite Podium at 2013 Evergreen Triathlon
Men's Elite Podium at 2013 Evergreen Triathlon 

Immediately after the race I went for a quick cool-down jog, then grabbed some protein powder and Nestle Cocoa to make a recovery shake and then downed bottled water after bottled water, and got a light flushing of the legs. I knew with the little sleep the previous night, the 3+ hour drive home, and the early 3 am wake-up call that I would need to make recovery a priority. When I got home from the drive I felt surprisingly good and I didn't even bother foam rolling or stretching, but I did bother to clean, wax, and relube the bike. The one thing I have learned from working with Atomic is a clean and lubed bike is a fast bike. I also wanted to thanks Dr. Dennis Killian for the very last minute homestay at his lake house. It was awesome to meet a serious triathlete cardiologist and I can't think of anyone better to see in the Chicagoland area if you are a active endurance athlete in need of a cardiologist. Check him out at: Heartland Cardiovascular Center.

The 3am morning wake up call for Pewaukee was a slap in the face. There was no time to waste as the 75 mile drive to Pewaukee with a 6:15 start was already going to have me struggling to get everything done. For Pewaukee, I was registered for the sprint while Rhodsey and Brooks were doing the Olympic. Dan Hedgecock was also coming down after competing in the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon the day before so we had four-doublers on this day. In the end I would have a so-so swim, hammer the bike only to have to break a 45mph descending speed to stop for a train. Fortunately after waiting the 2:16 (according to my Garmin) I looked back before stomping on the gas and I saw no one still.  I knew at that point I could just cruise and would be fine and that is exactly what I did as I came in for the win.

After the race I was able to watch the Olympic race which was a ton of fun. The two loop bike course for the Olympic was awesome as it was super spectator friendly to see the bikes flying thru main street in the quaint little town of Pewaukee. However, the highlight was towards the end of the run when Brooks was side-by-side with fellow pro Chris Wichert. I watched them for 3/4 of mile but they could have been running with each other for much longer. The last 1/2 mile was up hill and in to the wind and in the end Brooks would have the better kick in the finishing shoot to complete the podium. I knew Brooks was in the hurt-box big time and it was great to see someone who refused to quit. Rhodsey won easily and Dan Hedgecock took second.

Overall the weekend was a major success. I was able to get in a successful double without killing myself in the process and continuing the fitness build. I was going to take a little taper into Ironman Racine next weekend, but seeing as the field is so strong and there is little chance for a payday, I am likely going to swim hard, bike hard, and cruise the run. Of course that could all change if I find myself in the right opportunity but right now I am still focused on building fitness for late season Ironmans.

My weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 185 Miles / 18 hours 46 minutes
Swim: 24,156 yards / ~14 miles / 7 hours 26 minutes
Bike: 142 miles / 7 hours 36 minutes
Run: 30 miles / 3 hours 42 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7/1 - 7/7 - Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

USA Cycling Amatuer National Championship - W17-18
This week in the USA we celebrated Independence Day, the day back in 1776 that the USA declared independence from Great Britain. It is a day that is commonly associated with fireworks and although I had some hopes of making my own spectacular show down at the Rodney T. Miller Lakeside Triathlon in Decatur, Il, in the end I came up a little short.

The Rodney T. Miller Lakeside Triathlon is a race I have done many times and honors a fallen serviceman who had a real passion for triathlon as well. It also happens to be the first real "elite" race I ever participated in back in the day. Personally, I always use the race as benchmark for improvement.  Although the race was a fast day in general, and I was a little disappointed with my finish position, I was still extremely happy with the results, and especially so considering that I am coming off an Ironman just two weeks prior.

Speaking of Ironman, and recovery from them. One of the benchmarks I have used over the years to evaluate my recovery is my bike cadence. When I am still in the midst of recovery I can tell that I ride with a much lower cadence than I would otherwise ride. Although I haven't looked at my ride file, I would estimate that my cadence was a good 8-10rpm slower than it normally is as I shift away from using the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and focus more on the muscular skeletal systems. Although the cadence changed, my power numbers were about where I would expect them to be for a race of this duration and effort.

2013 Rodney T Miller Lakeside Triathlon, Decatur, IL - Top 5
Results - 2013 Rodney T Miller Lakeside Triathlon, Decatur, IL - Top 5

After the race I made the trek back home to Madison, WI to catch the crits at the Amateur National Championship for USA Cycling. As someone who definitely isn't known for his bike handling skills, I was definitely taking this opportunity to continue as a student of the sport and watch the way different riders handle their bikes. As an added bonus I had the ability to watch the race from the balcony of my building which provided a unique perspective on things.

USA Cycling Amatuer National Championship - U23 Men

My weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 205 Miles / 19 hours 52 minutes
Swim: 24,059 yards / ~13 miles / 7 hours 22 minutes
Bike: 162 miles / 8 hours 57 minutes
Run: 25 miles / 3 hours 04 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes