Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Patriot Half Recap

It's been four days since I competed in the Patriot Half in East Freetown, MA. This race and location is a little sentimental because it was the location of my first tri back in 2011. At that time, the race also included a sprint. I remember finishing up the sprint race and watching some of the lead bikers in the half fly by and trying to imagine what it would take to get there. Fast forward six years, and I was one of those faster bikers, hopefully inspiring some folks just starting out in the sport.

By the numbers, I bettered my time at FL 70.3 by 4 1/2 minutes, setting an 8 minute course PR.

I was definitely hoping for a faster swim and run, but I'll take the PR and move forward. I made the choice to start in the elite wave, secretly hoping to crack the top two, which had prize money ($300 and $200). Being six minutes down out of the water didn't help. I felt like I swam decently in terms of pacing, but my sighting wasn't great, and I kept drifting left a bit. Coming out of the water, I knew I had some work to do.

I tried to make T1 pretty fast, but the wetsuit took a bit longer than I would have liked, getting hung up on an ankle. Out onto the bike, I put my head down and targeted wattage around 275-285. My HR remained high for the first 20 or so minutes, then began to settle. I had half a Powerbar stuck on my aero bars, but after taking one bight the rest fell out of my hand on a bump - 100 calories down. I had an 800 calorie bottle of Infinit, so I knew I needed to take it all in, which I was able to do during the bike leg.

The bike leg at Patriot is two loops, and I went past transition right at 1:06 on my bike computer. At that point I was averaging 282 watts. My HR was back in check, but my legs didn't seem so happy, so I made the decision to back off a bit on lap #2. As a result, my second loop was around 90 seconds slower, and average power came in at 272 watts. However, my legs felt great coming off the bike, and I think backing the power off a bit was the right call. As you can see from the screen shot below, the power dropped a bit around the midway point (Garmin was set to lap every four miles).

Heading out on the run, I knew I was in third place. I also knew there were some real good runners behind me. These included my Team Zoot teammate Colin Cook and Craig Mitchell from Tri Tech Elite. Within the first mile of the run I began to have a side-stitch on my left side. During the bike I had simply forgotten to take in my SaltStick caps except on one occasion, and I also forgot to grab them coming off the bike - not a good start to the run! Several years ago I had issues with side-stitches and upping the sodium had helped. I remembered that breathing in and out on when the left foot hit the ground was a technique that helped alleviate side-stitches. I began doing this - the side-stitch didn't go away, but the pain lessened a bit. However, my pace wasn't what I wanted - I was hovering around 7:00 pace, far from my goal pace of 6:3x pace. 

For several miles I had a battle with my side-stitch. Whenever I forgot to breathe both in and out on my left foot fall the side-stitch would begin to come back. Somewhere around mile 6-7 it seemed to go away for good. It was also around this time that Craig Mitchell caught me. I gave him kudos on the run and he returned the favor on my bike. He slowly pulled away till he had a 100 yard lead, but then I was able to hold that distance. As the miles went by this distance maintained, and I tried pushing a bit more at the end. At the finish, he beat me by 20 seconds. I was definitely happy to have negative split the run and finished feeling strong. I'll definitely make a point of focusing on the sodium intake on both the bike and run at Timberman where the competition will be fighting for those 70.3 slots. Below you can see around the midway point where I began feeling better - pace got a bit quicker and the HR went up as I got the upper hand on the side-stitch.

Crossing the finish line, I was excited to have set another PR, but also a bit frustrated with the cramping and self-inflicted damage because of forgetting the SaltSticks. 

I now have eight weeks until the A race of my season, Timberman 70.3. With the progress I've made this season, I feel that going sub 4:20 is realistic there. I'll need to have a better swim - low 30's, a bike time of 2:15-2:17, and a run in the mid 1:2x range to get it done. The school year is also complete, so I'll have more time to spend both with my family and to get in some solid training. I'm thinking of doing the Nantucket Sprint Tri, which is in mid July, and visit the folks for a few days. There won't be any taper for that race other than a few easier days leading in if I decide to do it. The body is feeling good and recovering well after Patriot - it's time to get back at it and enjoy the summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Training Update

It's hard to believe that it has already been over seven weeks since our trip to Florida, but the time has gone by rapidly. Katie is doing better with her pregnancy (nearly 24 weeks), and the end of the school year is now within sight (15 days to go!!!). Training has been going quite well, and I have expectations for a fast time at the Patriot Half on June 18th.

I've honestly never felt stronger on the bike, and this was evidenced by a local time trial that I did earlier in the week. The Charlie Baker Time Trial is a weekly TT that is staged in Concord, MA. It's a 9.75 mile loop that I train on virtually every week, but haven't done the actual TT in five years. I decided to give it a go this past Wednesday and ended up averaging 365 watts over 20:36. I was pretty psyched with the power output, as it was around 80 degrees at the time I went off. I initially thought I'd gone out a bit too hard, but held on pretty well to finish strong. I was hoping to get under 20 minutes, and will maybe give it another go in the fall, but for now it's a good test of my fitness heading into the remainder of the tri season.

I've been up nice and early to get in the workouts and be home as soon as possible. This has meant seeing lots of cool critters before the sun is up as well as lots of beautiful sunrises. I've seen lots of deer, foxes, a snapping turtle, a coyote, and lots of turkeys. Here's a shot of the sun about to come up over the Concord River around 5 am.

And 30 minutes into a bike ride, with the sun just rising:

Below is the bike file from the ride this photo was taken at the start of. I've been aiming to average around HIM power for my longer rides, and this has seemed easier and easier as the season has progressed.

Overall training has gone well since the trip to Florida. May was a solid month of training. My run is feeling pretty good, and I've been getting in a weekly long run of 14-17 miles. Wednesday has been my track day, and I've done repeats ranging from 10k pace to HIM pace. Two weeks ago I did a session of 3x 1.5 miles around 5:45 pace. This morning was 3x2 miles around goal HIM effort. My HR is staying pretty low for the efforts, so I'm hoping this can translate into a HIM run PR at Patriot in a little over two weeks. With a open half PR of just over 1:20, I feel that I should be able to run around 1:25 if I pace the bike well. Here are the training numbers from May:

Swimming has also been pretty decent, but it's been hard finding time to get to the pool. This will definitely be easier when the school year ends in a few weeks, and I'll also be able to get to Walden Pond to get in open water swimming - hopefully once a week or so. Lately, I've been doing lots of 100's on a 1:40 send off and hitting the wall around 1:22 or so. Once a week I've been doing some longer sets of 200's, 300's, or 400's to work a bit on endurance. I'm hoping this can translate into a swim in the low 30's at Patriot. 

In terms of goals for Patriot, I'd love to set another HIM PR, which would mean under 4:26. However, I feel that if things go real well I could go under 4:20. I need to execute a solid swim, bike within my abilities, then have a well-paced run. Quick transitions will also help. 

I'll close out with a photo of one of our new neighbors. A fox family decided to take up residence in our neighborhood, and I've been seeing the pups on a regular basis heading out on my morning rides and runs. The two pups like to hang out in this culvert and don't seem to skittish of people.