Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week 29: Review

Things have thankfully cooled down a lot this week, and aside from a bit of unsettled weather it's made workouts a good deal easier. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I lost a spoke on Wednesday so my cycling mileage was pretty miserable this week. The bike should be finished on Tuesday, meaning that I'll likely loose a bit of mileage in the upcoming week as well - which is a shame as the weather tomorrow is looking like it will be great :( Fortunately, both running and swimming went as planned so my overall mileage wasn't dented too much.

This morning the weather outside was great, and made for the first long run in a while that was actually comfortable. It was still pretty warm (27C/60%), but that's a lot better than it has been and thanks to acclimatization it felt quite good. The first half of the run was under overcast skies, which helped a lot as well. The sun did come out for the remainder of the run, but fortunately the respite for the first portion meant that I was in better shape to deal with the extra heat at that point.

I hit the planned 17 mile point, and just as I was slowing down a couple of friends pulled up on their bikes so I accelerated a bit to keep up and chat for a bit. In the end, I put down a total of 17.5 miles with the last half mile or so at a 5K pace, which felt quite good. That's a big contrast to my attempt to hit 17 miles last week, where I had to cut it short due to hydration issues. Either way, it feels good to start getting back into serious distance runs again - now just have to start reintroducing the speedwork ;)

Cycling wise, the first half of the week went pretty good - hitting planned mileage targets at relatively decent speeds despite some brutal winds. I put down a strong 50K ride on Monday, with a great tailwind assisted 50+km/h stretch down Jane street. Wednesday's 30K ride was much the same before the spoke snapped on me. Fortunately, I was already heading back at the time and only about 300m from home so it was easy enough to walk it back.

Not entirely sure what triggered it, as I hadn't hit any big bumps and was simply decelerating when it went (slow moving bus was ahead of me), but I'll ask the guys at the shop when I pick it up to see if there is anything I can do to avoid this in the future. The Shimano R500 wheels that the bike came with aren't the greatest, so perhaps it's time to start thinking about getting a proper set for it.

Week 29 Totals:
Running: 59.3km (36.9mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 79.5km (49.4mi)
Swimming: 7.8km (4.8mi)
Total: 148.1km (92.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1273.0km (791.0mi)
Walking: 66.6km (41.4mi)
Cycling: 2689.6km (1671.2mi)
Swimming: 187.2km (116.3mi)
Total: 4216.4km (2619.9mi)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Making Plans

The last few months have been pretty crazy, and as a result I've dragged my feet on figuring out a racing strategy for the season. I've (kind of) got the big A races figured out, and have been training sufficiently for them - but the B and C races have to be fitted in there as well to build experience and test progress. The result is that we're now a good ways into the season and I've yet to get any Triathlons in so far. With a couple of months left, there isn't a whole lot of opportunities remaining so it's gotten to the point where I need to start figuring out what I'd like to do ;)

On Wednesday one of the spokes on my rear wheel snapped, and as Ironman Lake Placid is this weekend the bike shop was pretty much slammed meaning that I'm not getting it back until Tuesday. Cervelo pretty much dominates the triathlon market, so given that they only have a couple of dealers in town, things get pretty hairy whenever an Ironman is anywhere remotely close. With Lake Placid being pretty much the only full iron race within practical driving range, it's especially popular around these parts. As such, I couldn't head out for my Friday or Saturday rides which gave me a little extra free time and I figured I should use that to do a little homework ;)

I ended up missing my chance to do the Muskoka long course triathlon this weekend, which is probably just as well given the spoke issue ;) The Subaru series appears to now just have sprint distance events left before Ironman Muskoka, whereas the HSBC series has a few Olympic distance races. I definitely want to squeeze in at least one Olympic distance race in, although it would likely be a good idea to do another Sprint distance race ahead of that to get a bit more practice.

Tentatively, I'm thinking of starting out with the Niagara sprint tri followed by the Cobourg Olympic distance race. That will give me a couple of weeks between the races, and both are relatively close by so they should work out well. Cobourg is near the end of August, so it should leave a good amount of time for Muskoka if I do choose to go down that route. If not, I might add Lakeside's Olympic distance race into the mix as well.

As for Ironman Muskoka, as noted above I'm still going back and forth on that one. While I feel relatively comfortable with the distances, I'm not confident that I'd be able to put down an all-out effort at this juncture. Given the extremely high cost of that race, I'm not sure that I want to spend that kind of money for a 'just finish' race. At this point I'm leaning in the direction of just doing a few Olympic races (with one all-out) to build up my strength and experience and then focus full bore on the half ironman distance next year.

The HSBC series has an unofficial half iron race (Welland) in June which costs a lot less than the sanctioned race in Muskoka. This year it wasn't an option as I hadn't gotten my mileage up high enough that early in the season, but if I do a few intermediate distance races this year I should be able to ramp up faster next year. If I can do the Welland race as a just finish race, then I'd hopefully be able to gear up and try to do the 2011 Muskoka race at a hard enough effort to justify the costs involved. Further, the money I'd save from not doing the race this year would almost be enough to buy my own wetsuit, which would make it a lot easier to get some open water practice in.

The downside, of course, is that I don't get to cross off that half ironman goal this year. Further, as much of my training this year has been focused on those goal distances, a lot of that will have been for naught. It's still going to be a few years before I'll be ready for the full ironman, so neither plan will likely have much effect on that. Doing the half this year would certainly have it's benefits, but so would squeezing in a larger number of shorter races.

Either way, the priority at this point is to figure out the intermediate races and I can make the bigger decision a bit later. One of the benefits to the Niagara race is that it's a few days before Muskoka's registration cut-off, so I can get at least one race in the books before I figure out which way to go. Making the call based on real-world race performance is likely the best guidance that I can work within ;)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week 28: Review

Weather this week was a lot more unpredictable than it has been in a while, and that ended up screwing with my cycling a bit. We didn't end up getting much in the way of rain, but with the weather reports calling for Thunderstorms I was a bit overcautious and ended up missing my Monday and Saturday rides. That works out to about 130-150K off of the schedule, which took a pretty big chunk out of my weekly mileage.

Either way, I'm not quite so timid with my running so I didn't miss too much on that front. With that said, while the heat and humidity was better than last week it was still quite challenging at times. I did end up chopping a mile off of today's run due to hydration issues, and Friday's brick run was a little short due to the accumulated heat of the combined sessions. Either way, as I didn't end up getting out on the bike Saturday I worked in an extra 4 miler to make up for some of the losses.

On the swimming front, things went pretty much as planned. I'm still working out how to operate within the reduced time windows, and have largely moved to doing longer continuous sets at higher speeds so as to maintain the same mileage. I'm also focusing one of the sessions on endurance and the other on drills, as fitting the latter in is difficult given the time constraints. Eventually I'm planning on checking out a few more pools to see if I can get back to the old two hour routines, but for the time being this works reasonably well.

There is a pool in Thornhill that has a proper routine, but that's a considerable drive to make twice a week. The other option would be the Olympium as it's about the same distance away, but is better configured for length swimming (it's an Olympic pool so the water temperatures are much lower than the recreational pools we have up here). I've also been flirting with giving UofT's pool a shot, as it's the only 50m pool I'm aware of that actually has scheduled long course sessions (the Olympium is a 50m pool as well, but they only remove the bulkhead for swim meets). It's too much of a PITA to get down there for regular sessions, but it wouldn't be too much trouble once and a while.

Week 28 Totals:
Running: 56.7km (35.2mi)
Walking: 2.1km (1.3mi)
Cycling: 90.8km (56.4mi)
Swimming: 7.5km (4.7mi)
Total: 157.1km (97.6mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1213.7km (754.2mi)
Walking: 65.1km (40.5mi)
Cycling: 2610.1km (1621.8mi)
Swimming: 179.4km (111.5mi)
Total: 4068.3km (2527.9mi)

I still haven't gotten around to figuring out a racing schedule for this year, and I've missed a good portion of the season because of that. Things have been pretty crazy lately, so pinning myself down to specific dates has been difficult. Regardless, with the time left I really need to force myself to figure out what I'm doing as the training has reached a point where I need to start adding more complex plans tailored to specific peaking intervals. I've got the base mileage up reasonably high, so I should be able to adapt to most things, but I need to start getting some more technical sessions (speedwork, transition practice, etc.) into the routine as well.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 27: Review

It's been a scorcher of a week (mid-40s with humidex factored in), with unrelenting heat and humidity making any type of outdoor activity difficult. As such, that means pouring through gallons of Gatorade and water to get the miles in. It also means that everyone and their brother goes to the pool, which also adds complexity to the one sport that isn't directly affected by the weather. Fortunately, I managed to soldier through the unpleasantness and get most of my scheduled mileage in.

I started off the week by heading out for Monday's 50K ride in the morning to try and cut down on the heat. Unfortunately there are limits to how early I like to get out for rides, as rush hour traffic in the morning can be pretty aggressive so I settled on heading out at 9am. While it was much better than it would have been in the afternoon, it was still pretty bad at this point and I had to take in a lot of fluids. Thankfully there was a bit of a wind blowing in from the west, so that helped to cool things down a bit. Either way, I didn't push quite as hard as normal and let myself take periodic breaks when I happened upon some shade along the side of the road.

On Tuesday, I was scheduled for a swim in the morning and then a 6 mile run in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the pool switched over to their summer schedule this week so when I got there at the normal time it wasn't open yet. The other annoyance is that they've decreased the session length from two hours to 90 minutes, which meant that I had to modify my program to fit in the shorter time frame. Either way, I headed back an hour later to find the change room packed, so I elected to just do a continuous set as that was the only way to get the required mileage in.

I managed to work in 4,250m in the 1h24m that I had to work with (lost some time at the beginning as the lifeguards didn't have the lane markers in yet). As such, I did get more than sufficient distance in, however a continuous set meant that I didn't have much in the way of a warmup and wasn't able to get any drill work in. Didn't have a whole lot of choice, however, as aside from the time limitations the lanes were packed so trying to do those things would have been difficult either way.

In the afternoon, I took a look at the weather reports and saw that Friday was scheduled to be cooler. They were also calling for rain, so it was unlikely I'd be able to get the scheduled ride in on that day and I elected to move the 6 miler back. With the heat out there any attempt to run would be very unpleasant and likely not particularly productive, so I figured this was my safest bet.

The next morning, I again headed out early on the bike for my scheduled 30K ride. It wasn't quite as bad as the day before, but it was still pretty brutal so I again took it easy. Aside from pulling back on the pace, I also took a slightly different route than normal that avoided a substantial hill. Thankfully, it was only a short distance ride so I managed to get it all in without burning myself out too much.

In the evening, I headed out for my normal group run at the local Running Room shop. Thanks to the heat, it was a pretty light showing so our normal group got together with one of the clinic groups. As such, we ended up doing only 7K at a significantly slower pace than normal, but with the conditions no one really complained. The temperatures did get to a few people, however, so the group got strung out a bit and I did get a few bursts of speed as bridged the gaps between the sub-groups to marshal them back to the slower runners. Either way, I was glad to do what I could to help people fight through it - these are the sorts of days that can be hard when you're just starting out, so I'm happy to lend whatever moral support that I can.

Thursday I headed back out to the pool, but as I had a bit of extra distance on the books I elected to make sure and fit some drills into the session. The pool was again quite busy, so I ended up doing a continuous 3,000m set first and then a quick 500m drill session to finish. Thankfully things thinned out a bit near the end, so I was able to get those in without too much trouble. Ended up doing two underwater lengths to finish it off, as the lifeguards were removing the lane markers and doing anything on the surface would have been pretty messy ;)

In the afternoon I headed out for the planned 6 mile run. It was a fight for the whole distance, but I didn't have anywhere left to move the miles so I had to trudge through. I did debate whether I should cut back the mileage a bit, but decided against it as I had already lost enough on Wednesday. I limited my pace to keep heart rate under control and drank plenty of water so it wasn't too bad. Either way, it felt great when I eventually headed into the air conditioned environment inside ;)

Thankfully, the heat dropped back a bit on Friday so the 6 miler I moved from Tuesday went pretty well. Naturally, it was still quite hot out there, but it was nowhere near as bad as the last few days so it felt quite good. While the body wanted to go faster, I did what I could to reign it in as I figured that it needed some time to recover from the stress of the earlier sessions. As expected, I ended up missing the cycling session due to intermittent rain - it didn't end up adding up to much, but it threatened for the whole day so I didn't head out.

Saturday was looking great as well, so the group that I periodically ride with met up at 8:00am and headed out for a planned 70K route. This was a little shorter than I had planned to do, and the pace of these group rides was a bit slower, but it's worth it to have some great company on these multi-hour rides. When we get into the 100+km range, I'm not fond of heading out solo simply because of safety reasons (if something happens and I'm 50K out, help is at least an hour away). Either way, the weather ended up being absolutely perfect and we got in a great ride before the temperatures started climbing.

I was considering doing a short ~20-30K extra after the ride, but one of the guys offered to have everyone over to watch a stage of the TDF so I figured that was the better course of action. While we do get to chat a bit on the bike, there are long stretches of road where that isn't possible (lots of traffic so we have to stick to a paceline, big hills that string the group out a bit, etc.) and it's nice to have a chance to just sit back and enjoy the company.

This morning the temperatures started climbing back up, which was not exactly welcome for the 17 miler that I had planned. It wasn't nearly as bad as it was last week, but with a much longer distance on the schedule keeping hydrated was going to be more difficult. As I headed out, I elected to pull it back to 16 miles and stick with the route I did a couple of weeks ago to be safe.

It also didn't help that my legs wanted to go fast today, and every time I stopped actively paying attention to my pace it started drifting into tempo territory. I was actually feeling pretty good for the duration (likely why the body wanted to accelerate), but my heart rate was running higher than I would have liked (more due to the higher pace than the heat) and I was quite thirsty so I was going through my bottles faster than planned. Either way, I kept a closer eye on my watch to control pace (making a nice sine wave on my pace plot) and did what I could to ration the fluids.

At the 13 mile mark, I was down to one 8oz bottle of Gatorade so I pulled into a 7-11 along the route to resupply. After grabbing a bottle from the freezer, I noticed that they were giving away free 7.11oz slurpies so I picked up one of those as well before heading to the counter. That ended up working quite well, as aside from quenching my thirst a bit the ice helped to bring down my core temperature a bit and make the next few miles more comfortable (plus, when you're really thirsty they taste so much better than normal) ;)

After a few more miles I picked up a bit of extra water from a community centre, then finished off the final stretch. Aside from drinking so much, the run actually went quite well. I was relatively comfortable throughout despite the high temperatures and faster than planned 4:50/km pace. Probably could have squeezed in that extra mile, but didn't want to risk it as I was running low on fluids when I hit the 16 mile mark.

While my mileage was a bit shorter than scheduled, considering the conditions this week I'm satisfied with what I did manage to squeeze in. It's looking like this summer is going to be pretty hot, so I'm going to have to do more to acclimatize myself to this sort of weather. From prior experience it does get easier with time, but the process of getting to that point is unfortunately not terribly pleasant.

Week 27 Totals:
Running: 52.1km (32.4mi)
Walking: 3.8km (2.4mi)
Cycling: 148.6km (92.3mi)
Swimming: 7.8km (4.8mi)
Total: 212.3km (131.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1157.0km (718.9mi)
Walking: 63.0km (39.1mi)
Cycling: 2519.3km (1565.4mi)
Swimming: 171.9km (106.8mi)
Total: 3911.2km (2430.3mi)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 26: Review

My mileage has been steadily climbing for more than a month now, so as noted in my previous review I elected to make this week a recovery week. With Canada Day on Thursday, a fishing trip on Friday and a few other commitments in the week I knew that it would be a busy one so that worked out well, as it afforded me a little more flexibility in moving things around. In the end I dropped a couple of runs (6mi & 4mi) as well as one of my swims (~3K) and one ride (~50k), and I also cut back the mileage for today's long run.

The only downside to this approach was that the weather was absolutely perfect this week, so I hated wasting good days. With that said, these recovery weeks are critical to avoid injury so it was something that had to be done. If this TRIMP algorithm is accurate, it appears to have paid off as my CTL (fitness level) and ATL (fatigue level) are lined up again which indicates that the recovery went well (have to research these synthetic metrics a bit more, as they appear to be quite useful).

I had hoped to get some open water swimming in on Friday while I was out on the lake, but we never got a chance to get to a beach so that didn't work out. With that said, I'm not sure that it would have been possible to do much as most of the beaches on lake Erie are swarming with boats so getting out deep enough to swim would likely be pretty risky. Either way, it was a great day out with family and helped to work out a bit of stress from the system ;)

Unfortunately, we're now back to the brutal heat and humidity so the next week is going to be a fight as I ramp things up again. This morning's run was extremely difficult, as the humidex was up to 44C (111F) when I headed out and it really hit me hard. I had planned to do 13 miles, but ended up cuting it short at 11 miles as my heart rate was climbing higher than I was comfortable with. Compounding the issue was that my legs were feeling great, so my body kept accelerating on me and it was difficult to keep things slow. Either way, I'm glad that this was a recovery week as if I'd tried to do a 16 or 17 miler, it would have been quite the fight.

Week 26 Totals:
Running: 38.7km (24.0mi)
Walking: 1.7km (1.1mi)
Cycling: 174.9km (108.7mi)
Swimming: 4.0km (2.5mi)
Total: 219.3km (136.3mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1104.9km (686.6mi)
Walking: 59.2km (36.8mi)
Cycling: 2370.7km (1473.1mi)
Swimming: 164.1km (102.0mi)
Total: 3698.9km (2298.4mi)

The plan for the upcoming week will be to begin ramping things up again, although the forecast is calling for more of today's brutal heat so that's going to be difficult. We got spoiled by the great temperatures last week, so going back to the sticky weather isn't going to be fun :oP

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 50K Ride
Tue 3.25K Swim, 6mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 3.25K Swim, 6mi GA
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 90k Ride
Sun 17mi (27.4K) LSD