Monday, July 10, 2017

Racing a Triathlon at 69--Olympic Tri

Sunday I raced the Boulder Peaks Olympic Triathlon (0.9 mile swim, 25 mile bike with 1500 feet of climbs, and a 10K run). Any triathlon that I finish is a successful race. But to consider it a good race I need to do each phase as well as I can. 
I did not run well.
Up at 3:50am, make breakfast and leave at 4:30. Park and get equipment set up. Body marking at 5:30 (your age is on left calf which can be interesting). In the warmup swim area at 6. Race starts at 7. My wave goes off at 7:40.
Swim and bike go about to plan.  The swim out was straight into the sun which actually helped.  Just swim into the sun.  But the leg back I tired and when I tire I wander.  Ended up swimming 1719 yards which isn't too bad.
The bike route climbed Olde Stage road which has a 1,000 feet of climbs from the swim area.  I had to stop once and walk some of the steepest part.  Then when screaming downhill a strap broke on the top tube bag.  The bag rolled upside down, dumping my gels and salt tablets, and then slide between my legs to harass my legs the rest of the ride.   
Within the first mile of the run I knew I was going to be a very ugly run. I had expected to do the entire race in four hours. It took 4:14.  Everything went wrong on the run starting with my own errors.  I focused on clearing T2 fast and it still took me almost 5 minutes.  And I forgot to take my water bottle and a handkerchief.  Later a dog cut in front of me and tripped me.  The dog got the worst of it but it still made me angry given how tired I was.
I neither race nor chase in triathlons. My only goals are to have fun and do each phase as well as I can. There are VERY few newbies in my age group. The man next to me was doing his 100th triathlon (I beat him by several minutes). 
Overall, a successful but poor race.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 69--Practice Race

I did a practice Olympic Tri this week and relearned an important lesson.

I started with a 1650 yard swim in a 25 yard pool.  Because the pool is a few miles from my house I never intended to try and simulate the transitions.

The cycling route has a 1,000 feet of climbs in the first six miles including some sections at 15% grade.  I wanted to test the impact on time of having to walk the steepest section.  It added 2 minutes which isn't much of a penalty.  It might even be advantageous given the effort required to ride it.

The real ride begins with about seven miles to go with a series of rollers, some steep.  I was to take these rollers hard; especially cresting them fast.  Which I did.

But I didn't drink enough on the bike.  Maybe I drank half a bottle and it should have been closer to two.  The effect was that I started the 10K run dehydrated although I didn't realize it at the time.

But from the beginning of the run I could tell I was going to have a very hard time.  In fact I had to stop at about 5.75 miles because I was just straining too much.  It was only after when I was trying to figure out what went wrong did I realize I hadn't drank enough.  In fact my body weight was down five pounds from start to finish.

And that is way too much.

Lesson relearned.  Drink and eat on the bike.  Even an Olympic which "only" goes for about four hours requires hydration and nutrition.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 69--On Plan

Two weeks until the Olympic Tri and, at the risk of jinxing myself, things are going very well.  For the first time since I started training for triathlons, nearly three years ago, I am injury free.  My running is getting faster especially at miles 8, 10 and 12 on long runs.  And while my swimming is actually a little slower, the transition to a more efficient stroke and better body position makes my swim a lot more relaxed.  The difference in time for me between a slow, relaxed 1.2-mile swim and a hard swim is 3.5 minutes.  Who cares!

Fitness, with one exception, is the best it has been since just before the full Ironman in 2015.  Fitness, as measured by Training Peaks Performance Management Chart (I have shown this chart before) is at its highest since 2012 when I was training for a cross country bike ride.  And that was just cycling fitness.  My resting heart rate is back below 50 when I take enough rest for my body to calm down.  The one exception is my weight that is still 5 pounds higher than it was in 2015 and a lot higher than it should be for best performance.

The Olympic Tri is a “B” race meaning I will incorporate it into my weekly training as a hard training day but won’t go into a full taper in preparation.  The “A” race is the Half Ironman in August.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 69--Post Race Week

The week after the Sprint Triathlon was harder than I expected.  It wasn’t until Tuesday (race on Saturday) that I felt the full affect and I was tired.  By Friday I was feeling fine again and then, on Sunday, was the Boulder Ironman.  While I didn’t race, I did spend hours on the course cheering the racers (and most of the bike and run routes were closed anyway).

This week was a lot more normal with about 12.5 hours training including a solid 10-mile run and a couple of rides on the Olympic bike route.  The bike route is only about eight miles longer than the sprint tri but has a steep 1000-feet climb to start .  The climb is so steep in places that I have a very hard time making it. 

It is less than three weeks to the Olympic tri and I am focused on building endurance in all three disciplines.  The Sprint tri is a two-hour race.  The Olympic is about a four-hour race and following it by a month is a half Ironman that is a 6-8 hour race.  This next race is really just a fitness test for the half Ironman in August.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 69--Race Week

It is race week and the first race is complete.  I ran a 10K along with 50,000 of my running buddies.  It is a tough course at 5400 feet with lots of hills and turns--and with a lot of people in the way.  My goal was a sub 60 minute run.  I missed; running 1:01:08.  I didn’t run a smart race making some tactical errors on the tough, crowded course.

My numbers:  I was 16 of 92 (69 year old men), 7,692 of 21, 581 men and 11,512 of about 50,000 runners (final numbers aren’t in).    Like I said, a crowded race.

Saturday is a sprint triathlon (750 meter open water swim, 17 mile bike, 5K run).  I did my first open water swim last Saturday and the water was 59 degrees and it was raining.  Ugly.  The water should be marginally warmer come Saturday.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--Desert Camp

March 5th

This week was all about riding in Arizona and seeing friends along the way.

First major ride was Sunday and it was tough. On a scale of 1-10 where 10 would be the Triple Bypass day 2, this was a 7. The wind was forecast to be 20-25 mph mostly right in our faces. It took me over 7 hours to go 80 miles.
I told myself two things--really I did--when I was climbing into that wind. First, "I am training for an Ironman so what is a little wind." Second, I chanted, "Just keep swimming."

Who knew watching movies with grandchildren would help my cycling.

March 8th

After the first two hard days I have taken three easier days.  Each day I rode about 30 miles and was on the bike about 2:30 hours.  It is important that I get enough rest and not get hurt.  On the 6th my legs were in bad shape.  The 7th was an improvement and on the 8th they felt good.  

March 9th

Flat tires are a common problem with cycling so you prepare for them. You have to prepare extra well when you are cycling through open country by yourself as I was today. I am riding Gatorskin tires and carry two spare tubes, three CO2 cartridges, and a patch kit.

Just as I was leaving Huachuca City I got a flat on my back tire. I was next to what was once a gas station and across the road from a Circle K. I pull the tire off, checked for something in tire (nothing), put in a new tube, put the tire back on and then things went very wrong. I am riding a deep wheel which needs a tube with an extra long value stem. The tube I just put in has a short stem and is too short to be inflated. I check the second spare tube--it is short too.

I partially inflate the flatted tube looking for the hole. It is hot and dry and I can't find it. I put the flatted tube on and inflate it. It is leaking. Before it goes flat again I bike across the street to the Circle K. I am going to have to patch the tube and I need a way to find the leak.

I take off the tire and pull the tube. I partially inflate it and go into the store planning on using the bathroom sink but the sink won't hold water. I use the water in toilet (thank goodness it was clean) and find the hole.
My roadside patches are notorious for not holding so I use extra care patching the tube, put the tube and tire on the wheel, and inflate. Off I go.

Half a mile later the tire is flat. I am 9 miles from the nearest bicycle shop in open country. I decide to save my last CO2 cartridge and patch and instead see if I can catch a ride into town. Ten minutes later a retired Air Force sergeant stops in his pickup and takes me to the bike shop.

It was a great day for cycling and trusting to the kindness of strangers.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--Interesting and Important Weeks

This week I trained 13 of a planned 13.5 hours. 

Last week and the next two weeks are interesting and important training weeks.


Whenever swim coaches dissect my swim stroke (they giggle) and give me way too many things to work on.   My tri coach is much better at focusing on one or two things to improve.  This week, based on a tip from my Pilates instructor, he took a close look at the “pull” phase of my swim stroke.  He has a Vasa Trainer (a $2000 piece of equipment in his basement!) that enables swim stroke practice and observation out of the water. 

The tip from my Pilates instructor was that when I was doing certain exercises that should engage the lats, I was rolling my shoulders forward transferring the work to the shoulder.  Bad.  Shoulders are not as strong as lats and fatigue much faster.

Sure enough my swim stroke uses far too much shoulder and not enough lat.  I spent most of the three hours swimming focusing on pulling with my lats and not my shoulder.  Much more repetitive training required.

A second focal point this week was my cycling stroke.  The tri coach wants the beginning of the power phase of the stroke to begin at the 11 o’clock position and I was closer to the 12 o’clock   It makes a difference in power but it is difficult for me—my ankles aren’t flexible enough to get my heels down easily at that point in the stroke.  And I have to do it about 90 times a minute—on each foot.  I have to spend a lot of time riding and concentrating on heel position.


The 2017 Ironman New Zealand is March 4th.  I am still very interested in doing a destination Ironman in New Zealand next year.  To me this marks the start of the year-long training to get as ready as possible.  For clarity, I have no illusions about winning my age group.  In my first Ironman I just planned to finish.  This one I want to move up to be mid-pack.

I took my coach, who you remember is legally blind, to the airport Saturday.  He is racing the half Ironman New Zealand (referred to as the 70.3 because the Ironman is 140.6 miles).  United makes it really hard and I am really glad I came into the terminal with him.  Everything is a kiosk.  Check in yourself.  Print your own baggage label.  Michael can’t even see a kiosk let alone read it.  I had to corner one of kiosk helpers and tell her my friend is blind and a kiosk just isn’t going to work.  It took a few minutes to get an agent but after that it went smoothly.  But I wonder how long he would have had to stand there trying to figure out what to do before someone helped him.   And this was at the premier/first class check in.

Finally, the next two weeks are focused on cycling and the good fortune of being able to see three old friends along the way.  The cycling will punch up my cycling endurance—won’t do much for power.  Seeing old friends will add greatly to the fun.