Anatomy of an Indoor Triathlon: Seattle RainMan Triathlon (1st Race Podium!)

•March 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Very exciting early start to the multisport season. After two of the most difficult weeks of training I’ve had since starting up with MVA, I was a little nervous about how my body, and particularly my legs would deal with the Seattle RainMan Triathlon.

The event is an interesting one… it involves a 15 minute pool swim in Evans Pool at Greenlake (a place where I logged hundreds of thousands of yards in high school), an immediate transition into a 30 minute trainer ride (with “distance” logged on computer attached to the trainer), followed by another immediate transition into a run around Green Lake. I have not done any brick training nor a multisport event yet this year, so that had me a little nervous as well.

Pre-Race: Nothing too crazy. My wave started at 3 PM (AWESOME! I CAN SLEEP!), so I had a normal day, picked up my race packet at 12, went home and got my bike and gear, and got to the pool at about 2:15 in preparation. They brought us out  to get bodymarked and set up our transition bags 20 minutes prior to the wave start; did some stretching and downed some quick caffeine. Was able to hop in and swim 150 before the race started.

Swim: Chatted with a guy prior to the wave start who happened to be a former swimmer at a major D1 program who said he was going to aim for 1:15s, so I hopped in a lane with him, hoping to draft. Was able to do so for about 200, but when I saw my 200 split was a 2:20, I knew the pace was hot for me, and had to back off. Was feeling great going through 750 (500 split was ~6:17), but the pool was far hotter than I was used to, and I started getting pretty dizzy. Hit 1100 with 39 seconds left, and decided to go for one more 50, which I finished with 3 seconds left. My fast starting lane partner lapped me right as time expired, hitting 1200.

The “transition” was a bit of SNAFU for me; as soon as our 15 minutes in the pool ended, our 30 minute bike time commenced, and included the time it took us to march to the bikes. I was a little dizzy getting out of the water and was the last to the bikes, and quickly got my shoes and tri shorts on, and set up my water bottle.

I'm taking the one in the lane by himself.

Swim Total: 1150 yards in 15 minutes (1:18 pace): T6/282.

Bike: Despite my slow transition, I was still first on my bike. I still missed 1:30 of bike time which bummed me out. I went by my P-Tap as opposed to speed and power on the trainer computer, as that was markedly off and inconsistent. I forced myself to stay at 285W for the first 4 minutes, to allow my body to adjust to the switch in activity. This was a very good idea, as I felt terrible for 3 of those 4 minutes, and warmed up by the end. I let myself slowly ramp up, and ended up averaging 305W over the 28:30 or so I was on the bike for.

I certainly would have gone harder if I was in a more amenable environment, but this was on a pool deck, and I wanted to play it safe as not to cook myself. This was a good idea, as I actually felt pretty decent coming off the bike. Took it easy for the last 30 seconds, and slipped out of my shoes with 5 seconds left, hopping off quickly once the buzzer went. Got my running shoes on quickly, pulled on a shirt (sort of), grabbed my watch, and hit the road for the run.

Bike Total: 11.11 “miles”, 2/282.

Run: What to say? Felt awful for the first mile, the switch from pool deck to real air hit me badly, and I was coughing crap from my lungs for the first mile or so. Most of the people in my wave didn’t have clipless pedals, so they all beat me out of transition; caught up to the person furthest forward on the run at about the .75 mile marker, which was bad for me… with nobody else to shoot for, my mind wandered, and I probably let up a little. By the end of my Green Lake lap, I was still very cooked, though. Could have used a little more HTFU, but how often can one completely drain the tank?

Transitioning a little too quickly...

Still a mess...

Run Total: 2.98 miles, including transition from bike to run: 20:07, 5/282.

Summary: To calculate overall placement, race organizers translated the distances to “standard” sprint distances of 750 meters and 20k biking; my swim distance of 1150 thus became a swim time of 10:43, and my biking distance of 11.11 became a bike time of 33:45. Added to my run time, my OA Finish was: 1:04:41, 2/282.

Very excited about this… first ever podium at an event, and I know that I have tremendous upside, particularly on the run leg. I guess its a good thing that my A events are 4 and 5 months away respectively!


Lesson #5: Rebuilding confidence, and getting through rough patches.

•March 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I was in a bit of a rough spot last week; after a solid two months of ever-improving workouts, consistency, and things going so well, optimism eternal. A couple of weeks ago, rookie pro Andrew Haberkorn had a post discussing how bringing a positive mental attitude when workouts seem to be going badly can turn things around, and help you bring it. Last Wednesday saw me facing the exact opposite situation: I started off feeling stoked, and just cracked at the very beginning of the hard work.

My Wednesday swim workout is typically one of the hardest workouts of the week, and MVA had a little something planned for me: 4(5×100 on 1:15, 150 EZ). I have a hard time doing interval sets unless I get at least 2 seconds of rest, so this was going to be tough. After warmup I felt stoked, and I completed the first go through without issue. During the EZ, though, I started freaking out about whether I would be able to finish, and decided then and there, for some reason, that I flat out couldn’t swim any more. It was sudden, and scarily so. I left the pool, and had no idea what to do.

After some hyperventilation and contemplation, I chilled, grabbed one of my many aged imperial stouts, kicked back, and realized that there’s more to life than sport. Its something I identify myself with, but for 99% of endurance athletes, myself included, this IS A HOBBY. It’s one I can dedicate myself to, but a hobby nonetheless.

This sudden gleam of perspective was relaxing, and things have gone smoothly since. I nailed the hardest bike workout I’ve ever done yesterday, and today’s swim workout (15×100 on :10 rest, best effort) saw a ~2 second/100 yard improvement (at least) since the last time I did it (consistently hit 1:11s/1:12s). Lesson learned? Chill the heck out and you’ll see that in all likelihood, if you’re doing the work, things are generally going to trend upwards.


St. Patrick’s Day Dash Race Report

•March 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So this morning (in fact, less than an hour and a half ago; its Sunday morning and I couldn’t get myself to nap!), I took a first stab at what is apparently a Seattle tradition: running the St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which wonderfully coincides with Daylight Savings springing forward. I, of course, realized this at 11:00 (effectively midnight), and got a crappy sleep because that’s how I roll… it’s my own damn fault for needing to get up 2.5 hours before a minor running race because I feel the need to make a complete breakfast.

Springing forward does this to me as well. Though I don't have any mugs as sweet as this.

Remember this shit from Trix commercials? Even I don't have this complete of a breakfast.

Ate breakfast and all that jazz, sauntered over to the Seattle Center area, ran, warmed up, blah blah blah. In typical Seattle spring fashion, it was fashionably drizzly, and despite ideal running temperatures, I still found myself miserable because of how wet I was getting. Thankfully, I timed my warm-up perfectly, and the race started sooner rather than later.

This thing is ugly, so imagine it without the blue, sunny sky, and with gray raindrops instead.

So, the last 5k I did, I blew up. Badly. Ran the first half mile in like 2:30, and the last mile in over 8 minutes… I felt sick the rest of the day and had a hard time walking. So… given that this race was a workout more than anything else, I wanted to be able to seamlessly continue training after. A goal pace of around 6:10 was in order.

Needless to say, I started out fast, had a shoelace come undone (AGAIN), found myself struggling up the uphill portion of Aurora, and was in a generally bad mood. Thankfully, once the two mile mark was hit, it was all downhill. Started hitting sub-6’s, and actually crossed 5k in faster than the Valentine’s Day Dash a month ago. Legs started getting kinda tight, so I shut it down a little, until some douche started trying to sprint out the last 200 meters. Having proven to myself that I have legit 200 meter speed on Friday (breaking 30 in a couple from a stand-still, a feat given my tendency to start sprinting like a rock), I had no part of this, and ended up passing a solid 20 people in the closing straight like they were standing still. .

Final time was 23:22 for about 3.82 miles (according to Mr. Garmin), so about a 6:07 pace. Factoring in the 10 seconds or so I spent tying my shoelaces, a very satisfactory race. Going to spin on the trainer for an hour later to flush the legs out, and then next, Spring Break commences, and training resumes.

Next weekend: Seattle Rain Man Indoor Triathlon, first tri of the season! Very excited for that race, which I will be pushing myself harder for.

Bike Fit Dreams Crushed…

•March 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

A little background (very little) into how I came about purchasing my super-stud Cervelo P2SL, my triathlon steed: it was available for a cheap price that I could afford, had local pickup, and at 61 cm, was as big frame-size wise as any other bike on the market. I got sized on it at Speedy Reedy, and paid a grand total of $0 for that sizing. I rode it as such for the entire tri season, and until a couple of months ago, mainly because I was freaked out by aspect of wrenching with my bike.

After taking a little picture of myself I saw that I was WAY too high, and there were about 3-4 inches of spacers on the handlebar stem. I tried adjusting as best as I could, then took the following video and pictures.

Armed with this video and these images, I took the bold step of posting them on Slowtwitch, that bastion of aerodynamically minded souls, home of pros and joes who seem to know more than the pros, and some of the original developers of what is known as the time trial bike. Needless to say, after asking for brutalization of my position, I was pelted with feedback.

After getting past the color of my socks and the beyond-cluttered nature of the garage in which my trainer lies, I was told that my bike is straight-up too small for me. Explaining that I had one of the largest stock frames on the market, and asking what I should do, a notable triathlon coach suggested I play tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.

The jokes aside, I learned that I’ve done a generally good job of making due with what I have. ┬áThere a couple of things I can still work on, highlighted by the colors below:

The baby blue highlights the easiest change I can make: getting a shorter handlebar stem, so that my arms move in, creating a 90 degree angle, allowing me to rest my bodyweight better on the front of the bike, getting better handling, and compacting myself better.

The pink highlights how awfully high my seat post is, because the frame is too small for me. I can switch out my crankset from a 175mm to a 170mm or even 167.5mm, which would give me a shorter pedal stroke, and allow me to lower my seat and fit better on the frame.

So while I put myself out there, and certainly experienced some ribbing, actually photoing and videotaping myself and giving myself to the wolves has been an educational experience. Now to lower those spacers some more, and get lower too!


•March 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Spent way too much money recently, though it was all on spectacular deals. Here is the result, in progression:

1. Empty box, after I open with knife (seen inside).

2. The awesomeness, collectively and holistically (though clearly only one will be useable at a time, as they’re both fronts).

3. Me, awestruck by the awesomeness.

Enough slacking! Off to the pool for 200 repeats! ACK.

Rest week is over…

•February 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The last week has seen a total of 6 hours of training. One hard swim was the apex of the week, and I got scolded for not taking it easier! Can feel the fatigue brushing off of me.

Rest week is over now… legs refreshed, Zzz’s caught up on, school under control (finally!), life is good. Time to get going before the early season events start! Only three weeks until the first tri of the year!


•February 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

First video from the waterproof camera. Very awesome little toy! Going to enjoy giving it a try in other situations as well.