Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 38: Catching Up...

As noted in previous posts, I pulled a ligament a few weeks back and am just in the process of getting back into the swing of things at this point. As there wasn't a whole lot to report, I haven't really been keeping up with the weekly reviews so I'm going to take this opportunity to cover what I've been doing:

Week 34 Totals:
Running: 45.0km (28.0mi)
Walking: 0.5km (0.3mi)
Cycling: 84.1km (52.3mi)
Swimming: 5.6km (3.5mi)
Total: 135.2km (84.0mi)

Week 35 Totals:
Running: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 2.3km (1.4mi)
Total: 2.3km (1.4mi)

Week 36 Totals:
Running: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 3.0km (1.9mi)
Total: 3.0km (1.9mi)

Week 37 Totals:
Running: 14.3km (8.9mi)
Walking: 1.0km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 65.2km (40.5mi)
Swimming: 7.3km (4.5mi)
Total: 87.8km (54.5mi)

As you can see, I lost a good deal of mileage after the last few weeks but I'm working on building that back up at this stage. Fortunately, there is no sign of the injury at this point so it looks like it's recovered, but I'm still being careful to make sure I don't push it too hard too soon. After this week I think I'm confident enough to start mixing in some light speedwork to help regain some of my lost fitness, but naturally I'll have to play that by ear.

Since I was anxious to give a Triathlon a shot before the end of the season, I signed up for one next week in Lakeside. As such, this week I focused on ramping things up to prepare for that race. While I won't likely be able to do it as fast as I would have in Orillia (although the swim stage will definitely be better), the main focus at this point is to gain some experience so I can properly race one next season. The transitions and some of the more technical aspects of the sport (multisport pacing, equipment selection, logistics, etc.) will be a challenge the first time out, so experience is a pretty important aspect for these races.

My main concern about this was the swim stage, as the Try-a-Tri distance was sold out by the time I got around to it and I had to sign up for a longer distance. Fortunately, the pools in the area have switched over to their winter schedules so I had a little more time (3 hours vs. 1.5) to play around and experiment with endurance. As such, I headed out on Tuesday with the intention of doing a quick warmup and then seeing how long I could hold out.

After about 750m of warmup (5x50m + 5x100m), I broke into the main set and kept going. Once I got into a rythum, I was able to keep everything in check and wasn't really getting too tired. I was careful not to go too fast as I wanted to focus on distance at this point, and that appeared to help a lot. After about 1:35 of the set, I hit the 4K mark (~2:22/100m) and while I was tired I wanted to try and knock out another kilometer. I did have to slow down a bit at this point, however I pushed through and got to 5K in a little over 2 hours (averaging 2:31/100m for the full distance). I finished off with a slow (~4:00/100m) 250m cooldown set to make it a clean 6K and climbed out of the pool (which was rather difficult in and of itself). While I was wiped after that session (burning about 1800kcal), it did a lot to bolster my confidence.

On Thursday I headed back to the pool, but as Tuesday's session left me pretty tired I planned to take it easier this time out. As such, instead of one big set I elected to do a number of 600m sets to (a) get used to the distance and (b) get a feel for what kind of pacing to expect. After my standard warmup, I pushed through seven 600m sets (was originally going to do five) taking between 14 (2:20/100m) and 16 minutes (2:40/100m) each. I then finished with an easy 50m set to get to 5K and called it a day. I likely could have gone faster, however this pace felt about right as I have to keep the cycling and running stages that come after the swim in mind. Naturally, open water swimming is different than pool swimming so I will have to make adjustments during the race, but it is a much better idea than I had last week ;)

Aside from the swimming, I also started getting back into the practice of doing proper bike rides again. On Monday, I headed up for a ride to Kettleby and back (~50km), which has a good number of decent hills. I made it up to the turnaround point on Jane St., I elected to modify the route slightly and head over to Weston Rd. for some larger hills. While I've taken this route heading north before, this was the first time I attempted it going southbound and the hills are a lot more aggressive that way. The largest of them (Strawberry Hill) took about four minutes of sheer pain to climb, and nearly wiped me out (my heart rate was above 180bpm (zone 5) for most of it). Either way, I successfully made it to the top and after a short break continued on. While there were a few more big hills down the road, they really didn't feel like much after fighting that monster ;)

The fun of climbing hills like this on a bike is that one really doesn't have the option to stop and take a break. Trying to get cold started up an 8% grade is nearly impossible, and cycling shoes aren't really suitable for walking the bike up. The upside, however, is that it forces the rider to stick with it and fight their way up to the top. Unlike running, however, I find that I can recover from those intense efforts much quicker - while it's punishing while you're climbing, 10-15 seconds of coasting after you've crested is all that is needed to be ready to attack another. It does give me a lot of respect for the professionals can consistently knock out 200km/day up the sides of mountains (that make these hills look like speed bumps) at 30km/h for a couple of weeks in the big tours ;)

Week 38 Totals:
Running: 37.1km (23.1mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 121.1km (75.2mi)
Swimming: 11.0km (6.8mi)
Total: 87.8km (54.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,873.7km (1,164.3mi)
Walking: 196.4km (122.0mi)
Cycling: 3,077.7km (1,912.4mi)
Swimming: 49.3km (30.6mi)
Total: 5,197.1km (3,229.3mi)

As far as preparation goes, I took some time on Friday to do a little looking around for wetsuits. Unfortunately, finding much information about the various options is extremely difficult. The manufacturers websites have little more than lists of tradenames with no descriptions of how those technologies work, and there aren't much in the way of independent reviews on anything but the top-of-the-line models. The local shops did help a bit, however while they were good at providing general advise (eg higher end suits are more flexible, but also more fragile) they couldn't provide the kind of objective technical comparisons that I was looking for. Given the size of the investment that these suits require, I want to have a much better understanding of the differences before I sink my money into buying one.

As such, I simply arranged to rent one from the shop that was the most helpful and will worry about which one to buy at a later point. The upside to this approach is that I can try one of the potential candidates (a Nineteen Pipeline) in race conditions to get a feel for how well it works for me. As I can pick it up on Thursday, I'm going to try and get at least one open water swim with it on before the race.

Other than that, I've pretty much got everything in order. I do still have to pick up a few small things, but the biggest question will be the logistics of heading down there in the morning. It appears to be about a two hour trip, and as I want to be there plenty early to get a decent spot in the transition zone it's going to mean a very early morning. As such, I'm going to have to get everything packed and ready the night before so there is a lot of planning left to do ;)

As for the next week, the schedule is still a bit up in the air as I'm working outside of the context of a formal plan at this point. I do have to play things by ear to aide in recovery, and with the race on Saturday I have to work in some form of taper as well so it will be a complex week. Either way, my rough plan is as follows:

Mon 80K Ride
Tue 4K Swim (5x600m), 5mi GA w/5x100m
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi (9.6K) Recovery
Thurs 3K OW Swim
Fri 4mi Recovery (AM)
Sat Sprint Triathlon (600m/20km/4km)
Sun 8mi (12.9K) LSD

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