Sunday, November 13, 2011

The rescheduled Wrentham Halloween Duathlon...the only thing scary was my performance. Boo.

Having gone through taper madness the week prior I had to deal with my last duathlon of the season getting rescheduled due to MA's "snowtober". more week of trying to train, but not overtrain and stay sharp for the race. I had originally planned to run a local 5k on Saturday and since the dua got bumped, I'd race it the next day but thought that since I seemed to be getting a cold and wanting to do well on the Sunday, I decided to not run the 5k and focus all my energies (what there were of them) on the Dua.

I was support staff for J and her parents as they all ran the 5k on Saturday. While I was happy to do it, when I saw the times getting posted I couldn't help but think that I should've run the 5k myself. But no, no, no, the dua is the priority. It made more sense to save all my energy for Sunday's race (really, now I'm trying to be sensical?). THAT's the one I want to do well at. J posted a PR on the course, took 3rd in her age group and her mom won her age group for the 2nd year in a row. Great job by the two of them. Ok, support over, time to get get geared up for the Duathon.

I would love to say that race prep is this easy thing but that would be a straight up lie. I take over a room with gear layout so I can see it all. I hem and haw about what I should wear to the event, what I should wear for the event and what back up clothes/gear should be taken. Then there's what fuel to pack, how much and which water bottles should go (yes, I have specific water bottles to use based on event). I have done equipment layouts for "go to war missions" in my Army career that took less time and effort than it takes me to pack a transition bag! Then there's the bike. Oh, the bike. This will be the first event that I get to race my new 2011 Cervelo P2. If you don't think that bike looks sexy, you and I have no need to be friends. Cyclists and multisport racers always have a bike that is their prized possession. That P2 my friends is mine. Yes, I know they make P3's and P4's but to be honest those are variations on a theme. A theme set by the P2. So after lovingy wiping the P2 (named Natasha by the way) and double checking all the measurements were correct and fit was good, I was all set for the Duathlon.

Race morning went fine. Up at the right time, standard breakfast of cereal, juice and protein drink of some kind and headed out. Trying to be relaxed, I took my time and arrived at the setup area only an hour before the start. Now you may think that's normal but not for me dear redears. I normally show up to an event so early that I help the organizers SET UP. Yup, I'm THAT guy. I'm trying to get be better, I really am.

I LOVE duathlons, there is such a simplicity to setting up the transition area; bike, helmet, cycling shoes, water bottle and maybe a gel...thats it. Now I would be me if I didn't go back no less than 5 or 6 times to make sure the bike was set up right or my cycling shoes were in just the right location for easy donning. Now because I just got my P2, I have yet to buy the "wing" thats needed in order to mount anything behind the Carvelo's distinctive seat post so I decided to run the bike "skinny", 1 water bottle, no spare tubes or repair equipment. I must admit, as you can see in the picture, the bike looked pretty pimp. It was cold for race start, not as cold as the last time I did the event, but cold enough. I was wearing a tri top (Polar, of course) with a long sleeved under armour hot gear shirt, tri shorts and my Saucony Hattori's. I thought to use the Hattori's becuase it was a 3 and 2 mile run, the shoes weigh next to nothing (i.e. faster foot turnover) and the'yre like slippers so they'd be perfect to get on and off for a duathon. I knew what I'd run last time for the course so I knew I needed all the help I could get to run a faster time for the first leg. Now let me stop right here and say that while I knew what times I wanted to run, I had no plan for said want. So...when the gun went off, I decided to move to the front of the pack. I thought we were running fast but I was afraid to look down at my Polar RCX5G5. Why? Well, if I was running too fast, I was afraid I'd decide to slow down too much. If I felt like I was running fast and glance down to see I was actually running slower, it would take the wind out of me. Looking over my HR data post race, it seems I turned the first mile in 6mins. Granted I was hoping to run fast but thats a little fast for still having a lot of racing left on the day. So...even without looking at my watch during the race, I thought the pace was fast. Rather than trying to catch anyone, I just focused on hanging with the lead group. No mile markers on the course made pacing a little more difficult too. I was more gassed than I thought I'd be nearing the end of the first leg. I completely forgot that the end of each leg (both runs and the bike) finished a 1/2 mile climb INTO the transition/finish. Yay! And by yay I mean it sucked! I came in off the first 3mi run leg at 19:29, knocking a full minute off the run the last time I did the event .

T1 went relatively smoothly. I was cold and my fingers did not want to cooperate with me at all but I got out of T1 in 1:21, was on the bike and on my way. The bike course is billed as "rolling". When I, and the 3 guys around me, all on tri bikes, spend alot of time up and out of the saddle rocking our bikes....that's not rolling, thats HILLY my friends. I will say, that with even the hills my P2 rode like butter. Unfortunately I hit a pothole right out of the start. I thought for sure I'd flat (the idea of the sexy "skinny" bike now being a terrible one) but luckily I did not. Nor did I when I hit another pothole around mile 8. Ugh. I made it through the bike course flat free and headed into transition. The end ride into the transisiton area was over grass. GRASS?! Are you kidding me. I'm riding a razor blade of a bike thats edgy on pavement and in order to get into transition I have to ride on grass! It was like riding through sand...slow and difficult to keep the bike moving and upright. Into T2 at 35:07 which put me at an 18.7mph pace. NOTHING exciting about that pace at all. Even though the pace wasnt fast, I guess it was fast enough to freeze my hands and feet because neither of them wanted to work in transition. AND...those great slipper Saucony Hattori's that I thought would be so easy to get on in T2...were not. Cold hands, and cold sweaty feet made those Hattori's feel two sizes too small. I couldn't get those shoes on for the life of me. That led to a T2 of 1:19. That is flat ridiculous for a bike to run transition! Angry and cold, I was off on the run.

The 3rd leg was 2 miles and to be honest it took almost a full mile just for me to warm up and settle into a pace. Once again, I didn't focus on my watch for time or pace and just ran as hard as I could. That 1/2 mile climb into the finish sucked even more this go round. I ended up crossing the line in 1:11:19, knocking a minute off my time on the coure, coming in 22nd overall and 4th in my AG by...wait for it...30 seconds. Crappy T2 kept me off the podium. If you don't think I'm gonna stew about that one until I can race that course again, then you don't know me very well. I dod accomplish my goal going into the race of bettering my time but not going into it with a solid race plan and poor execution kept me from being even faster. It was a good performance, not great and I have plenty of lessons learned going into the offseason.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flexible is sex-able...

Ya, I have to give credit where its due. I stole that tagline from my buddy JMegs. You can follow his blog here.

So like any multi-sport athlete, I'm always looking for other types of workouts that will allow me to recover from the rigors of swim/bike/run training. Throw in that my body is the rice krispies treats of bones due to years of injury and that list becomes even more narrow! So J turned me onto Bikram yoga a couple of years ago. For those of you not in the yoga "know", Bikram is 26 yoga poses, done over the course of 90 minutes in a room heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40%. So in essence, you're turning your body into a human pretzel in a sweat box. I know that might sound like a turn off to the exercise but believe SHOULDN'T be. The heat keeps your body warm and receptive to the stretching, the list of poses (13 standing, 13 on the floor) are designed to gradually get harder throughout the session. The poses not only have benefit to joints but also for concentration, balance, digestion and circulation.

And...if you don't think its a workout, just look at my heart rate graph and calories expended total, courtesy of my Polar RCX5G5 and Those spikes in and elevated heart rate are from...POSES. My "workout space" for such a tough cardio workout was my 6ft by 3ft yoga mat. Um, did you see the caloric burn for that session? A thousand calories! That ain't no joke folks. I get a great plyometric muscle/joint workout in 90 minutes, that caused no pounding stress to said joints AND I burned a grand in calories to boot! And to be honest, when its over, I never feel more refreshed. A nice hot shower and I'm ready to head out for a run or bike ride. I know that sounds crazy but its the truth (at least in my case). Not to mention its a great change from the monotony that is triathlon training. Few things I certainly want to point out if you've never been to a Bikram yoga session: it wouldn't hurt to look here to at least get an idea of the poses you'll be doing (don't get freaked out, the people in those poses are PRO's. Very few people on the planet actually achieve that level of stretch in Bikram), understand that your first few sessions are going to be a learning experience until you get accustomed to the flow and tempo of the session, don't get upset that you can't do a pose or poses because "muscling your way" through them isn't going help and will probably hurt you and lastly...when they say all you have to do is breathe...believe them! I'm amazed about how much better I feel, how much more flexible I am and how quickly i seem to recover from tough workouts when I have Bikram in the trainiing rotation. You really should try it out. If you're looking for a great Bikram studio in the MetroWest Boston area I totally recommend Bikram Natick run by my friend Maria. She and her staff ROCK!!! Namaste.