Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pulled Ligament

Managed to get in and see the doctor yesterday and it looks like the ankle injury is just a pulled ligament, so it's just a matter of giving it some time to heal and building back up carefully. That's a big relief as I was a bit worried it would be something more serious. With that said, it is going to make that ankle more prone to injury in the future so I will have to pay more attention to the relevant stretches. He also suggested picking up a brace in the meantime, and a few other measures to help it get better.

Unfortunately, I've now been down for 10 days and I'm not quite ready to head back out at this point so the marathon plans will likely have to be adjusted. I'm now within eight weeks of the race, and Pfitzinger's book suggests that a loss of that much training time should prompt a re-evaluation of readiness. I could likely get back up to the point where I could run it, but with the lost fitness I'm not sure that I'd be able to beat my previous time so it's not really worth the risk of pushing it. I'll likely pick some shorter races this fall (probably the zoo run, and possibly one of the half marathons) and just use this as base training.

The Guelph tri is likely out as well, although one of the HSBC races may still be feasable if I'm cautious about it. Unfortunately the Lakeside race that would have been ideal (Sept 20th) is sold out, so it's either Wasaga (Sept 12th) or moving up to the Sprint Tri (the Try-a-Tri is the only race sold out at Lakeside). Worst case scenario, I could just use the winter to build up my swimming (which is by far my weakest link) and then start out with a sprint tri in the fall.

Either way, it's a load off to know that it wasn't something major and it's just a matter of waiting it out. While it's not really necessary, I'm flirting with the idea of seeing a physiotherapist anyway to see if they have any suggestions on accelerating the recovery process a bit. Having someone with a bit more time to discuss the details of recovering would be helpful - the only downside is that it can get pretty expensive if a few visits are required.

Right now the plan is to work my way back into it. I did 3K in the pool today, and will likely do the same every couple of days for the time being as that will keep my cardiovascular fitness up without stressing out the ankle. Fortunately I still seem to be okay on that front, as I was able to complete two sub-6 minute 400m sets but we'll have to see how that translates to the other sports. Once things start feeling a bit better (hopefully early next week), I'll likely start out with the bike and then re-introduce some slow running into my schedule. Once the pain goes away, I'll then work on bringing myself back up to where I was in a somewhat gradual fashion.

Monday, August 24, 2009

One Week...

The ankle really hasn't improved much over the last few days, so I went ahead and got an appointment with my doctor on Wednesday to see what I can do to accelerate it's progress. There isn't any visible swelling, and while it is uncomfortable I can walk on it unassisted so I don't think it is anything too serious. Either way, it's taking a lot longer to heal than my previous injuries so I figure it's wise to make sure that it isn't a bigger problem than it seems.

It has now been a full week since the initial injury, and I'm still not in a position to restart my exercise. Aside from not moving forward, being off for much longer means that I'm going to start sliding backward in my fitness. If I can't get back up and running within the next week or so, I'm going to have to seriously consider the possibility of aborting my second marathon attempt as getting back up to speed is going to be difficult. Swimming did go well last week, and it may be a way to offset losses in the meantime, however I'm thinking it may be wise to hold off on that until I get the okay from the doctor.

Trying to figure out what to do at this juncture is a little difficult. This is my first injury that didn't sort itself out within a few days, so I don't have a lot of experience in navigating the medical system with a sports injury. One of the talks we had during our clinics advised against going to a GP about this sort of thing as they can be over conservative about treatment, however I don't really know any sports-specific doctors at this point so I don't have much choice. There is a place in Maple that a lot of the others from the Running Room go to for stuff like this, however they don't have any MDs, and I'm not sure that physiotherapists are really equipped to make an initial diagnosis.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taking Notes...

While my original plan was to run the Orillia Try-a-Tri this weekend an injury threw a wrench in those plans. As I never got a chance to watch one, however, I elected to head up anyway to observe and take notes about the various technical aspects of the race. The transitions are likely the biggest potential pitfall, so my focus was to watch how people handled them and what mistakes commonly caused problems.

Either way, I headed up in the morning and got to the start line just before 10:00am - about an hour before the start of the race. The sprint tri started at 8:00am, so that gave me a chance to catch the tail end of that race, as well as watch the registration and setup of the try-a-tri group. As such, as soon as I got to the site I headed over to the transition area for the sprint race and watched those still running the race - hoping to pick up some ideas from the more experienced athletes. Unfortunately, two hours into the race there weren't a lot of people still out there and those that were didn't appear to be in too much of a hurry so there wasn't a whole lot to pick up on.

As such, I headed over to the try-a-tri section and watched people setting up. The first thing that struck me was that the bikes were being crammed in very close together. Even an hour before the race, the racks (at least in the wave 1 section) were pretty much full and people were trickling in and searching for places to set up. This didn't leave much room for people to set up their stuff, and the bikes were so close together that people were having trouble with bits of their bikes getting stuck on their neighbour's frames. If they were having trouble at this point, I was a bit concerned about what would happen during the race when they are fighting the clock.

As the start approached, this only got worse as people were squishing their bikes between others already on the racks. As such, transition areas that people had carefully set up were being moved around by others. The racks near the back end of the section still had a good amount of space left on them, but people wanting to be close to the entry/exit chutes were basically pushing their way in. This was a bit disconcerting, however it's one of those things that is valuable to see happening before you jump in so that you can avoid it in the future ;)

Either way, the transition setup was pretty similar for most people - their helmets and sunglasses mounted on top of the headset, a towel on the ground with cycling and running shoes and a bag near the front for everything else. Lots of people had tupperware containers filled with water to clean the sand off of their feet (definitely a good idea). About half of them appeared to have socks set up, and there were a lot of people out there without wetsuits. Most people hung their bikes from the front of the saddle, however others were hanging them from the back of the saddle or the handlebars depending on the height of their bikes. While the sprint transitions were pretty orderly with bikes on alternating sides, the try-a-tri section was all over the place.

With about 15 minutes to go, I headed over to the beach to watch the start and what warmup procedures people were doing. A good number of people were in the water, and many of them were going pretty far out on their warmups. With a few minutes to go, they were called back in (this race has a beach start) and people lined up in their wave positions. Once the starter's horn sounded, the mass of people headed out and kept in a suprisingly tight formation. While the line was pretty wide, other than a few straglers everyone appeared to be going at a similar pace until the first bouy. At that point, things spread out a bit more as the turn forced everyone to concentrate back into a single column and the traffic slowed things down.

Once the first wave hit the second bouy, I headed back to the transition area so I could watch the leaders do T1. We waited a few minutes, and the first fellow headed in and did a picture perfect transition - quickly losing his wetsuit, putting on helmet, sunglasses and bib then running off with his bike (shoes were attached to the bike). As more people trickled in, one relatively young participant ran into some trouble removing her bike from the rack as it's brake levers were catching the seat stays of an adjacent bike. After yelling a bit and struggling with the bike, it eventually came free - a bit of a testiment to how the pressure of racing can get to you in these circumstances.

Watching a handful of people perform this transition, a lot of individuals elected to leave their cycling shoes attached to the pedals. This is certainly the fastest way to go (one less step in the transition zone, no need to struggle with running on cleated shoes, etc.), however it requires a lot more skill to slide your feet in after you get rolling. I expected a lot of this in the longer races, but I figured that it would be relatively rare in an introductory distance like this. There's no way that I can master this with the time remaining, however it's something that I'll have to practice for the next season.

When the cyclists returned, I turned my attention to them. The biggest problem here appeared to be finding their place, as the empty racks looked a lot different than when they were full. There were a lot of people wandering around; the longer it took the more agitated they became and the less efficient they were at searching for their spot. As such, it's clear that it's critical to remember your exact location and, if possible, use some form of brightly coloured towel/bag/etc. to make it easier. A lot of people lost a lot of time due to this, so it's likely the most important lesson to take away.

As expected, a lot of them opted to use elastic shoelaces to simplify the switch, however most people appeared to have a lot of trouble getting their heels in as there was nowhere to sit down. A simple throwaway shoehorn would have done a lot of good here, so I'll have to think about adding that to my kit. I'm still not terribly crazy about the idea of moving away from conventional laces, however tieing them takes a considerable length of time so there are good reasons to make that compromise.

One other thing that struck me was that very few people bothered to take in any fluids along the way. Most of the bikes didn't have water bottles, and the runners didn't appear to bother with water belts either. I'm not sure if there were aide stations down the road that I didn't see, however for a ~40 minute race I would have expected more people to take in some water during the competition.

As for heart rate monitors, most people wearing them appeared to put them on before the race started and used their wetsuits to keep them in place. With that said, a lot of people swam with tops on so I didn't get a very wide sampling of what people were doing on this front. Either way, I guess this is another strong arguement for picking up a wetsuit ;)

Either way, it helped a lot to watch the process for once and gave me a better idea how things will play out. Asside from the information, knowing what to expect along the way can do a lot to boost confidence and avoid panic during the race itself. As for the lessons learned, the main take-away points that I got from this event are basically as follows:
  • Get to the race site really early and familiarize yourself with the exact layout of the different areas. Knowing exactly where your bike is without the aide of reference points that may not be there when you arrive back in the transition area is critical. Further, look at the entry and exit chutes so that you know exactly where you will be running (a lot of people had to be chased by by marshals for going the wrong way during T1).
  • Furthering the above, set up the transition area as soon as possible as it appears to fill up very quickly. As the race start approaches, hang around your bike as much as possible to dissaude others from squeezing in and messing with your setup. Additionally, selecting a somewhat sub-optimal position may be a better bet as the density of bikes will be lower than that first few rows (ie time lost due to additional running is ofset by not having to work in such a crowded space).
  • If at all possible, try to set up your bike alongside someone else that you know. There were a lot of jerks who knocked down adjacent bikes during their transition and just took off without bothering to do anything about it. Being flanked by people that you trust not to mess up your stuff has the potential to reduce the probability of problems like this.
  • Focus on remaining calm in transition, regardless of what was happening. The girl noted above who had trouble getting her bike free lost a good deal of time because she was just mindlessly tugging at it rather than figuring out what the problem was and addressing it. There is a lot of pressure on you when in this scenario, so it is totally understandable, but staying focused will almost always result in a better outcome.
  • Bring along some sort of bright and easily identifyable towel or bag to make finding your place in the transition zone a bit easier. Memorizing position in absolute terms (X racks down, Y meters in) will help, but with the adrenaline coursing through your system having a simple visual cue as a backup appears to be a very useful idea.
  • A lot of people ran the race without a wetsuit and appeared to not have any trouble, however the vast majority of the first group out of the water were wearing them. It's hard to tell if that's a cause (ie the wetsuit made them that much faster) or effect (stronger swimmers are more likely to invest in one), but it's a strong indication that it's a good idea.
  • The more competitive athletes in this race all used dedicated triathlon shoes, and left them attached to the pedals rather than putting them on manually. I'm not going to bother with that at this point as I need some practice doing this, however it is obviously something that I'm going to need to look into.
  • As for the socks issue, it appeared to be split down the middle for both races so it doesn't appear that there is a clear winner here. With that said, the people who did have socks didn't appear to have much issue putting them on so that's likely the route that I'll take.
  • There is a pretty wide variety of different people running these races. While I expected a lot of mountain bikes and people doing it just to finish, I was suprised how many people were running this race who had already done triathlons before. Given the type of race and prior finishing times, I kind of figured that this distance was pretty much only for first-timers, but when the announcer asked for a show of hands before the start a surprising number of people indicated that this wasn't their first shot.
Regardless, it was a productive day and I'm glad to have had an opportunity to watch one of these races before jumping in. I would have much rather have run the race today, however unfortunately that wasn't in the cards at this point. I'm hoping to make it to Guelph in a couple of weeks, however that's going to depend on how the ankle heals up over the next little while. If not, there are a couple of other races in the HSBC series, or I could simply postpone things until next spring.

The one thing I do have to say at this point is that I do find myself enjoying the variety that triathlon training is bringing to my schedule. While the Toronto Marathon is still my primary goal, I was almost more excited about this race than I was about that. Doing a distance again to improve time is enjoyable, however it's not the same thing as reaching for something new that you havn't done before.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


While the ankle has improved, I'm still limping around a little so I haven't tried to get back on the horse as of yet. I did do a swim without any issues last week, but in order to ensure that I don't set things back any further I've avoided running and cycling. It's leaving me a bit stir crazy at this point, especially with many of my fellow runners doing various races this week (especially the Midsummer Night's Run).

I am a bit concerned about my training at this point, as I'm down five days at this point and will likely lose at least a week out of this. Getting back up to speed for Guelph shouldn't be a huge problem, however losing this much time in my marathon program is potentially a big issue for hitting my target. My biggest problem in the last cycle was injuries forcing me to miss several of my 20 milers, and I'm already down one due to heat and may lose the second one next Sunday if this persists much longer. Either way, there isn't a whole lot that I can do about it at this juncture, so I guess that I might as well just roll with what happens ;)

Either way, I've elected to make the trip up to Orillia tomorrow anyway in order to get a chance to watch one of these races and hopefully pick up a few pointers. The transitions are likely going to be the biggest issue I face in these races, so seeing what other people do (and what mistakes tie people up) has the potential to be quite instructive. It's a bit of a long ride to just go and watch, but at this point I think it's worth it. The only question left is whether I want to get up really early to watch all of the distances (the Sprint Tri starts at 8am), or just head up for the Try-a-Tri (11am) ;)

With all of that said, good luck to everyone running races this weekend! The temperatures look pretty good, although I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that the rain stays away :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ankle Injury...

I'm a bit late on this report as things have been a bit disrupted this week. While I missed a few cycling sessions due to weather and logistical concerns, I did manage to squeeze out most of my planned mileage asside from my long run. The temperatures on Sunday were pretty brutal, so I elected to push the marathon pace run back to early Monday morning. When I headed out, however, the inside of my right ankle was a bit tight but it was getting better as it warmed up so I pushed through. Unfortunately, when I hit some stop lights along the way the pain came back - it would go away after about 30 seconds or so, but it persisted each time I needed to stop.

When I got past the warmup and increased my pace, it became evident that my gait was a little off so I elected to abort the run to prevent any further injury. In the end, I managed to get 7.3K in with the final 1800m at race pace. Stopping turned out to be a good move, as I was limping around for the rest of the day so it was more than a little tightness. Over the last few days, it's gotten markedly better but it's still there so I'm not ready to go back to running. I was hoping to get back on the road tomorrow, however I don't think I'll be back until at least Saturday.

I was a bit stumped as to what caused it, however. The pain is just below and behind the ankle joint on the inside of the right foot, which seem to be a common running injury and is just used for stabilizing the joint. I havn't been running on much uneven terain lately, so I'd expect to have problems in other areas first.

Either way, this morning I headed out for a swim as it allowed me to get back to work without stressing the leg too much. I took care to avoid pushing off with my right leg, which slowed me down a bit as it meant that I had to finish each length on the appropriate side. Either way, I fought through and pushed out a little over 2.3K, including a 400m set (mostly composed of 100m sets, however).

It was, however, quite evident what the cause of the injury was though once I got going. When pushing off the wall after a length, a lot of force passes through the ankle and I clearly recognised the muscle groups that were in use. The running likely agrivated the problem, however the initial injury was likely caused during one of my swimming sessions and just wasn't noticable. As such, I made sure to push off a lot lighter than normal this time around - which is likely a good idea anyway as I won't be able to do that during the race ;)

Regardless, it is clear that I won't be able to do the race this Sunday. I may be back up and running by that point, but I wouldn't want to push myself into race conditions that soon after an injury. That's not a huge problem, however, as there is another race in Guelph in two weeks, so I'll likely just reschedule my target for then. Asside from getting back into race shape, it will also give me a little more time to improve my swimming a bit more. I might head up to Orillia anyway just to watch the race and potentially pick up some pointers, although that's a bit of a long drive just to spectate ;)

As I missed writing up a review for last week, I've totalled up my mileage for the last week and inserted it in this post:

Weekly Totals:
Running: 45.0km (28.0mi)
Walking: 1.2km (0.8mi)
Cycling: 84.1km (52.3mi)
Swimming: 5.6km (3.5mi)
Total: 135.9km (84.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,832.3km (1,138.5mi)
Walking: 194.6km (120.9mi)
Cycling: 2,891.4km (1,796.6mi)
Swimming: 28.8km (17.9mi)
Total: 4,947.1km (3,074.0mi)

Friday, August 14, 2009

9 Days to Go...

I'm now just a little over a week away from my first triathlon, and starting to get a little nervous at this point ;) Running races are relatively simple affairs, the complexity comes in the training that you do to prepare for that race. With triathlons, however, there is a whole lot of logistical complexity in getting to the start and setting everything up. Further adding to this complexity is that the legs of the Try-a-Tri distance are so short that the time spent in transitions will be extremely significant so every little detail has to be carefully worked out.

At this point I'm kind of kicking myself for not signing up for that Running Room Triathlon clinic. My main reason for not doing it was that the talks were on Saturday mornings and conflicted with my existing cycling group, however due to weather and scheduling issues we really haven't met up all that much in the last little while and I've done most of my long rides solo. As such, I could have easily gotten my mileage in by riding up to the shop (~30K), attending the talk and doing the group session then ride back home and got roughly the same mileage in.

Had I gone down that route, I would have been able to get some proper open-water swim training in as well as decent practice with my transition technique. Those two aspects are likely to be the biggest issues that I'll face in this race, as the run and cycle legs are trivial distances given my training and I've gotten reasonably comfortable swimming the required distance (375m). I've pieced together some information from various sources on these topics, but it's apparent that having face-to-face instruction on these aspects would have been a significant benefit at this point.

Either way, hindsight is 20-20 and it's easy to look back and see what one should have done but it's impossible to work around that. As such, there are a few details that I have to work out within the next little while:
  • Whether or not to use a wetsuit for the race. While there are significant benefits to using one (insulation from the cold water, buoyancy, etc.), I havn't had the opportunity to swim in one before and I'm a little retiscent to try something new on race day. Further, having to strip off the wetsuit will take some technique, and may erase any gains by increasing the transition time. I had the opportunity to do some open water swimming in Lake Erie a few weeks ago and was comfortable in just a swimsuit, however I'm not sure what the water temperature in Lake Couchiching will be next week (the current heat wave may help on that front).
  • Whether or not to mess around with socks. Many triathletes skip putting on socks after the swim as they can be difficult to slip into with wet feet. Without them, however, there is the risk of getting blisters in the cycle and run legs of the race, which could potentially harm my training beyond this event. I could split the difference by getting a pair of triathlon shoes for the bike leg (they have more padding than road shoes, and generally a simpler fastening mechanism) and then slip the socks on in T2 when my feet have dried out.
  • Whether to stick with my existing shoelaces, or switch to elastic laces common to this sport. The elastic laces allow you to quickly slip into the shoes without a shoehorn and save you from having to tie them in transition. The downside, however, is that they aren't as firm as conventional laces so the shoes will move around a bit and can throw off one's gait. The run leg is only 2.5K, so I'll likely be running near a 4:00/km pace for that leg and any little issue could become a significant problem. At the same time, however, the ~30 seconds it takes to tie shoelaces translates into 12 seconds per kilometer ;)
  • When to put the heart rate monitor on during the race. I could start off with everything on before the swim, however the HRM strap may move around with the arm motion and the altimeter port on the wrist unit will likely get clogged up with water. Naturally, it would be functionally better to put them on in T1, however that eats away valueable time during the race itself. The easy answer would be to just forget about it, but if I want to do more of these races in the future it's important for me to have as much data as possible so that I can improve in later races.
  • The logsitical details of getting up to the race site, what I need to bring and how I'm going to set it all up. Fortunately, the try-a-tri race starts at 11am so there is a good ammount of time to get up there early and make sure everything is in place. Ideally, I'd like to get up early enough to watch the longer races that go on before to get an idea of how the more experienced triathletes deal with the specific setup of this race site.
  • Finnally, I have to figure out how hard I want to push for this race. This is my first shot at the Triathlon, so my primary goal is just to finish. At the same time, however, I do want to challenge myself and see how well the body deals with the rigors of all three sports in rapid succession. Looking at the results from last year, if I don't seriously mess up the transitions I have the potential to get within the top 10 at a race like this, but whether I want to push that hard is the main question.
With all of that said, the other option that I do have is to fall back to the Guelph race to buy myself a couple of additional weeks to prepare. I selected Orillia largely because it gave me enough time to train and fell on a recovery week in my marathon training (for a pseudo-taper), but part of me would like to have the extra time right now to work out the details. Physically I think I'm ready for the race, but I am a little concerned about the logistics at this point :oP

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week 33: Review

Like last week, this one saw some significant disruptions due to a mixture of vacation scheduling and weather. As I was out of town for Tuesday and Wednesday, I ended up having to move things around. Given the mileage I was looking at this week, I had no choice but to skip Tuesday's 7 miler and push Wednesday's 12 miler back to Thursday. I was able to get Friday's 10 mile tempo run in, however the combination of those two runs left me pretty wiped.

When the weekend came around, there was the threat of extremely hot weather (40C (104F) with humidex) on Sunday when I had my first 20 miler scheduled. Normally, I would have switched the Saturday and Sunday runs around to deal with this, but with the two heavy runs on the days before that simply wasn't practical. Monday's weather was going to be a little better (more rain, but slightly less heat), so I elected to do Saturday's recovery run as scheduled and simply push back the 20 miler a day.

That ended up being a mistake, as Monday worked out to be about the same temperature as Sunday. Long story short, I ended up having to call it quits with a little under 9K to go, which further hurt my mileage total for the week and took out one of the critical 20 milers. Either way, I've got a marathon pace run coming up next week and another 20 miler the week after that so hopefully I'll be able to get back on track.

Either way, the Thursday and Friday runs went extremely well so I did get some good training in one way or the other. I did lose a good deal of potential cycling mileage due to the changes in my running schedule, as well as one of my swimming days - but running is still my highest priority right now so those sports take a back seat. Fortunately, I did manage to get the 100km group ride in on Monday, so that offset the losses on other days quite a bit.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 66.5km (41.3mi)
Walking: 2.9km (1.8mi)
Cycling: 121.2km (75.3mi)
Swimming: 2.8km (1.7mi)
Total: 193.4km (120.2mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,787.3km (1,110.6mi)
Walking: 193.4km (120.2mi)
Cycling: 2,807.3km (1,744.4mi)
Swimming: 23.2km (14.4mi)
Total: 4,811.2km (2,989.5mi)

Due to the long run yesterday, I've had to make some modifications to this week to avoid any problems. As I felt that it was important to get a recovery day in after such a grueling run, I wanted to stick to swimming and cycling today. Unfortunately, the weather made the cycling impossible but I was able to get a good swimming session in. To step back into it, I'll be doing today's 6 miler with the group tomorrow, and will do the mid-week 14 miler on Thursday. To ensure adequate recovery time, I'm planning on skipping Thursday's 6 miler and then continuing on with the plan as described.

This week is expected to continue being pretty hot and humid, although nothing compared to what we had over the last couple of days. Hopefully things will cool off in the next week, as the majority of this summer has had some pretty nice temperatures and I'm not a big fan of having to slog through more of this humidity. With that said, after the rain finishes up today the remainder of the week is expected to be pretty stable so I will welcome some more dry weather (and the ability to do things as planned).

Upcoming Week:
Tue 2.5K Swim
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi (9.6K) Recovery
Thurs 14mi (22.5K) LSD, 2.8K Swim
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 100K Group Ride, 6mi Recovery w/6x100m
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD w/12mi (19.3K) at Marathon Pace

Feeling better about the swim...

I ended up going to a different pool than normal due to logistical reasons, which meant that I'd get a shorter session than normal. As such, I figured that in lieu of the shorter distance I'd likely be covering I should focus on stretching out the distance that I could cover continuously. While I have no problem swimming nearly 3K at a reasonably fast pace, I've still needed to take breaks every few lengths to catch my breath. While that's not a huge problem in a pool, it is potentially a huge issue in a lake with other swimmers surrounding you at all times ;)

While this pool isn't really ideally set up for length swimming, the upside to that is that others stay away and there is a lot less traffic to deal with. Doing continuous sets in traffic can be difficult, as the turnarounds can be problematic when one swimmer is overtaking another. That can, in turn, break up the rhythm and make it difficult to keep fighting when you're tired and just want to grab onto that wall.

As such, I started out by sticking to 50m sets, and began working in 100m sets periodically. I've done these sorts of sets before, so this wasn't too difficult. When I got comfortable, I elected to do a number of 100m sets back to back. After successfully doing four full sets with about 10 seconds rest between them, I figured I should try to push it a little more. As such, I set off with the intention to keep going as long as I could - at the time I figured I'd last about 200-250m or so, but as I hadn't gone into this territory before I really had no idea.

Once I got into it and stopped worrying about how much I had left in the set, I got a lot more comfortable and settled into a pretty good rhythm. I easily pushed past 400m and kept going, hitting 500m, then 600m and eventually getting to 750m. At that point, my arms were beginning to get a bit tired so I elected to call it at that point and take a break (had I done the math though, I likely would have hammered another 50m out).

After about 30 seconds I felt a lot better, and figured that I'd do another 100m set and then see what I could do after that. When I hit the 100m mark, however, I was still feeling pretty good so I elected to keep going once again and push through to 500m. I took about 20 seconds to rest at that point, and then headed out again to do another long set. I managed to get down another 325m before the lifeguards informed me that the session was over (the clock still showed 3 minutes left, but I wasn't really going to waste energy arguing with them) ;)

Either way, thanks to the significantly reduced number of breaks I had clocked in 2,525m in 68 minutes, which is less than 300m short of what I can usually do in the 90 minute sessions I usually get in. Over the entire session, I averaged a 2:42/100m pace - nearly 20 seconds faster than usually. Further, the 750m set only took 15 minutes, working out to an average steady state pace of 2:00/100m. Unfortunately, I didn't explicitly time the other sets (hard enough to keep track of everything else) however they would have been done at a similar pace.

With only a couple of more weeks before the Orillia race, I had been having serious second thoughts about my capacity to pull of the swim stage and was thinking about pushing my goal back to a different race in Guelph. This has done a lot to boost my confidence, although it's not quite the same thing as the push-offs one gets in the pool every length do make it a little easier. I'll have to try to do more of this sort of session over the next few times out to cement my stamina, however this has reduced a lot of the stress that I was feeling about it ;)

RunSaturday Entry

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brutal Heat...

I kind of ended up backing myself into a corner this morning, as I pushed back my 20 miler from yesterday to today as the weather reports indicated that it would be cooler. Unfortunately, it ended up being about the same around here, so I was left with little choice but to head out into the 40C+ (104F) temperatures and fight through it. Due to a couple of heavy runs near the end of last week I couldn't push it to Saturday, and with another heavy week coming up I couldn't really push it to Tuesday either.

At first it wasn't too bad, with the humidex floating around 38C (26.3C ambient + 93% humidity) and overcast skies it wasn't exactly comfortable, but it was bearable. While the heat wasn't a big problem, the soupy air was still pretty difficult to breathe which made things significantly more difficult than I would have liked. Either way, I focused on controlling my pace to make sure I didn't push too hard and create a problem, although it was difficult to put down that mental focus in an environment like this. I wasn't able to slow myself down as much as I would have liked, but I was still quite comfortable and my fluid reserves were doing pretty well.

Unfortunately, about 45 minutes into the run the clouds parted and the sun started shining through. The ambient temperature had creeped up into the 30s at this point, and while the humidity was a little lower the humidex was well into the 40s. As such, the sun beating down on me was making things considerably more difficult and my heart rate was running a bit higher than I would have liked. I started taking in more fluids to offset this, and that worked well for a while but it also meant that I was draining my supplies faster.

Just after the 14K mark (about 1:15 into the run), I stopped into a 7-11 and picked up another bottle of Gatorade to refill my bottles. Once topped off, I continued on but at this point the heat was beginning to hit me harder than it had before. I tried to refocus on backing off the throttle a bit, which helped, but the humidity meant that my sweat wasn't evaporating so my core temperature was climbing and making it more and more of a fight.

Just before the 18K mark (~1:33), I pulled into a community centre to cool off a bit and get some water. When I restarted, it was evident that it was going to be extremely difficult to get in the full distance as my HR was continuing to run significantly higher than normal, and the rest stops weren't really doing a lot to help with that. As such, I refocused my aim to make it to the Running Room shop and then play it by ear - if things continued along the route they were going, that would give me the option to abort and call for a pickup.

Over the next few kilometers I ended up burning through the Gatorade that I had left, and things were getting progressively more difficult. I took a few short breaks to allow myself to cool down, but looking at my heart rate it was evident that it would be unwise to try to get the full distance in - while I could likely have done it, it would have significantly increased recovery time and potentially hurt the quality of the other runs this week. As such, I sped up a bit over the last few kilometers and headed over to the shop. Once I hit the 23K mark, I fell back to a walk, then stopped out front and did my stretches. I popped in, made my call and then bought some more Gatorade and cooled off while I waited.

As much as I hate quiting early, especially on these critical 20 milers, I have to look at it from an overall perspective. I could have restocked my bottles at the RR and continued on, but doing so would have left me significantly depleted and likely would have hurt more than it would have helped. In retrospect, heading out on Sunday morning would have likely been the better bet - the temperatures were about the same, but the skies stayed overcast so there was no sun to fight with. Either way, I made the decission that I did based on the best information that I could find - unfortunately, weather forecasting is an inexact science so it's difficult to work around problems like this :(

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heat and Humidity...

I'm officially scheduled to do my first 20 miler of this training cycle tomorrow, however the weather has thrown a bit of a wrench into those plans. The forecast is calling for humidex values over 40C (104F) tomorrow, as well as thunderstorms and heavy rain in the morning and late afternoon. I can deal with the rain (although the electrical activity is a concern), but given my issues with carrying enough fluid over the last few weeks that would be a hard combination to try and pull off.

Ideally, I would have done the long run this morning instead and avoided the problem altogether. Unfortunately, I had to push Wednesday's 12 miler back to Thursday, so between that and the 10 miler on Friday (six of which were at Tempo pace) my legs weren't in any shape to go that distance today. After the 5 mile recovery run this morning, they're feeling a lot better but they're still not 100% at this point.

As such, I'm strongly considering deferring this run to Monday morning and possibly doing Tuesday's 6 mile recovery run tomorrow instead (so Tuesday is free for recovering from the 20 miler). It's still going to be in the mid-30s then, and there will likely be some heavy rain to deal with, so it won't be ideal. Between those two scenarios however, I think the latter will be more beneficial to my overall training - as slogging through those temperatures would likely do more damage than good (considering the race is in October).

The one other downside with this plan is that I'm scheduled to do 14 miles on Wednesday, so that will likely be difficult two days after a 20 miler. I'll likely work around that by doing the 20 early in the morning and the 14 in the late afternoon, as that should buy me a few more hours of recovery. I would move it around as well, however next Sunday calls for another marathon pace run so I don't want to mess that up ;)

Either way, I'll be gathering up all of the information I can tomorrow morning and play it by ear - but if things stay the way they are suggesting, I'm likely to go down this route. Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do about the weather so it's just a matter of working around it at this juncture ;)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week 32: Review

The weather reports this week were pretty bad, however the actual weather worked out quite well so when I did get a chance to get out things generally went pretty well. Unfortunately, my schedule this week has been a bit mixed up as the family is taking a couple of weeks off work for some summer vacation stuff, which makes fitting in all of my training sessions quite difficult.

The threat of rain on Monday scared me off of attempting the ride scheduled for that day, which in retrospect was foolish as the grey skies didn't really materialize into anything. Given the weather, however, I did elect to head out to the pool a day early to make sure that that wasn't missed. We were out all day Tuesday, which meant that I had to pull a double on Wednesday to fit in both a 10 miler and a 4mi recovery run. As such, I didn't really have any time to go out on the bike on that day either.

We again went out on Thursday, so I pushed my 11 mile run and 2.7K swim back to Friday again making it impossible to fit in a cycling session. As we were planning on heading out on Saturday, and I had missed the tempo bit of my 10 miler earlier in the week, I elected to do both 5 miles at tempo pace and four of the eight scheduled 100m intervals during Friday's session. After a 2.2K warmup, I did the 5 mile tempo segment finishing the last mile or so on a local track. I then did a slow lap to cool down, and proceeded to do the intervals at that point (running on the straights, recovering on the corners). I then did the remaining ~5K at a slow pace to catch my breath and get home. It was a pretty grueling session to say the least, but it got most of what I needed to do in.

On Saturday I naturally ended up missing my scheduled 7 miler with speedwork, but with an 18 miler the next morning there really was no way to make that up so I let it go. I did manage to get half of the intervals in on Friday, and combined with the tempo run it likely had enough of an effect. I did, however, manage to get a bit of open water swimming in while the family was cooling off at the beach. I wasn't able to get out as far as I would have liked (not wanting to get mowed down by boats and/or jetskiis), and I have no idea how much distance I covered, but other than having some trouble going in a straight line it was actually pretty good. I didn't have a wetsuit, however other than a few small pockets of cold the water temperatures were quite comfortable (~23C), so it wasn't too much of a problem.

Sunday's 18 miler went as scheduled, and other than having to refill my bottles a couple of times to fight off the humidity it went quite well. I tried to focus on slowing myself and had thought that I'd done so quite well during the run, however looking back at the telemetry I still averaged a 5:05/km pace over the duration which is much faster than I should be going (Pfitzinger suggests doing these runs 10-20% slower than targetted race pace, which would correspond to 5:13-5:42/km). I'll have to continue working on that, however slowing things down when your body wants to go faster is a lot harder than it would seem ;)

Weekly Totals:
Running: 70.2km (43.6mi)
Walking: 2.5km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 16.5km (10.3mi)
Swimming: 5.8km (3.6mi)
Total: 95.0km (59.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,720.8km (1,069.3mi)
Walking: 190.5km (118.4mi)
Cycling: 2,686.1km (1,669.1mi)
Swimming: 20.4km (12.7mi)
Total: 4,617.8km (2,869.4mi)

While the cycling mileage was pretty pitfull this week, that's a bit misleading as the cycling group scheduled our ride for this morning rather than last Saturday. As such, we did a little over 100K today which likely should be accounted for in last week's schedule (as we're still planning on meeting up next Saturday for another long ride). Either way, this upcoming week will likely be pretty heavy on the mileage side so it will likely make up for last week.

As we're still on vacation, next week is likely to see some disruptions as well, however I'll just have to work around them as I did last week. With my first 20 miler of this training cycle coming up on Sunday, however, I'll have to be a little more diligent to fit things in where I can. I will likely miss a few of the shorter rides to make room, however right now running (due to the marathon) and swimming (building a base) are a higher priority at this juncture. As such, the following is a rough plan for the week but it's likely to see some significant changes ;)

Upcoming Week:
Mon 100K Group Ride
Tue 7mi (11.3K) Recovery w/6x100m, 2.7K Swim
Wed 30K Ride, 12mi (19.3K) GA
Thurs 50K Ride, 2.7K Swim
Fri 10mi (16.1K) GA w/6mi (9.7K) LT
Sat 100K Group Ride, 5mi Recovery
Sun 20mi (32.2K) LSD