Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Race Year in Review

2012 turned out to be a pretty awesome year for race results for me.

Try Charleston Half

This was my first ever half iron race.  The swim went OK for me.  Its not much longer than an oly race and it was wetsuit legal.  I was a lot faster on the bike than I thought possible.  I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the course: flat, few turns, no wind to speak of until mile 50.  Overall felt pretty good on the run, but I just didn't want to blow up in my first race this long.  5th in my age group (2nd AG bike, 5th AG run) with a 4:34.  I really liked this race and want to do it again. Its a good race to bring the family as we camped at the KOA at the start.

Tri at Baxter Sprint
This race is always a fun one for me.  It was my first ever tri back in 2010.  I keep thinking I can somehow get into the top 3 overall, but hasn't happened yet.  Sliding down into the pool to start the race is pretty cool, well unique if nothing else.  5th overall finish this year (3rd OA on bike and 3rd OA on the run).  I hadn't really been training for a fast 5K, so overall it went OK.  I guess I can't complain, since I did win my AG.

Wawasee Flotilla Road Race

This is an 8M road race up in Syracuse, IN.  I've run this old school race quite a few times.  I averaged 6:16's on this mostly flat course.  Pretty humid for the area, but it was fun, and I won my age group (7th overall).  Actually turned out to be a really good tempo run workout as well.

Stumpy Creek International
This is the second year in a row that I have done this race.  It just happens to work well on the schedule being the first weekend in August.  I had a terrible swim (no wetsuit) and found myself 11:31 behind the fastest time in my age group and 7:19 arrears of the eventual 2nd place in the AG.  I hammered the bike (first race on my FLO's) and had the fastest AG time by 4:20 (3rd OA fastest bike).  Then I had the fastest run by 2:10 to eke out the AG win by 0:42! Was great to come back and win the AG, but it really told me something about my swim.

Ironman Augusta 70.3

This was it.  My "A" race for the year (don't you just love stupid tri lingo?).  I was super nervous for this race.  The field was huge.  The competition was better than any I had been up against.  And all my training pointed to this race.  This race ended up being so much fun and so well organized.  My swim time was OK but my swim rank was incredible for me (top 1/3 in my age group).  Gotta love a current aided wetsuit swim for crappy swimmers!  Followed that up with a monster bike averaging 24.5 (2nd in AG) and didn't die on the run: 6:31 avg (2nd in AG).   It felt great to "earn" my Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships slot.  I didn't rely on roll down at all.  4 slots in my AG and I finished 3rd (out of 412) with a 4:13:57.  The rolling hills course and flat run played into my favor as well.

Rev3 Florida
We planned a mini vacation around this race, as it was all fun for me.  We hit Legoland on the way down and Universal Studios on the way back up.  The weather was nice except for the super strong winds caused by Hurricane Sandy.  They ended up cancelling the swim.  The bike course was great: flat, good roads and scenic.  Too bad it was so windy.  I averaged about 27 mph in the first half and then 22 mph in the second half.  I didn't do so well on the run, but still won my age group.  It was definitely a fun way to end the season.

So I won my age group in 4 of the 6 races, plus finishing in the top 1% at IM Augusta. Really couldn't be happier about my results for the year.  I raced a little less this year, which helps keep the training more consistent.  I like doing the 2 races near the end of the year to try and take advantage of the fitness level I was at.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Goals: 2012 Review and 2013 New

So ya gotta have goals, right?  Most people say triathlete's goals are too lofty.  But why make a goal if it's easy to reach?  I mean if it's too easy there isn't much motivation to train to try and achieve that goal. I always found in college that goals definitely helped motivate you throughout the season.  So lets see how we stacked up.

2012 Goals Revisited
1. Swim sub 35:00 for 1.2 miles (HIM).
Made It! Of course I kinda cheated (a lot) by making this goal at Ironman Augusta with the the downriver wetsuit swim.

2. Swim 352,000 yards for the year (200 miles).
Well I didn't quite make this one.  That's how much I swam in 2011, but this year, I kinda tailed off and tried to work on speed (like I said, tried) and not worry about volume so much.  Its not like I slacked off entirely, I'll be over 320,000 yards at year end.

3. Bike sub 2:26 for 56M (23.0 avg)
Biked faster than this in all 3 half races I did.  It seemed fast at the time I wrote down the goal, but with the training, aero helmet, and race wheels, I got up to a 24.5 avg.

4. Bike 4,000 miles.
Smashed this one as I will have over 5,000 miles at year's end.

5. Run sub 1:25 for 13.1M (6:29 pace)
Almost got it as I ran 1:25:19 at Augusta for a 6:30.5 average

6. Run 1,500 miles for the year
Did not come close, as I really scaled back the mileage due to the bursitis in my hip from the Charlotte Maration.

7. Top 6 AG at IM Augusta and qualify for Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds
Nailed this with a 3rd in my AG and a Vegas Slot

8. Top 3 AG at Rev3 Florida
Also nailed this, with a 6th OA and won the age group.  Cancelled swim helped with that.

So all in all pretty good.  Just about got all my time goals, and got my race finish goals.  Didn't make the training goals, but that doesn't really matter if I'm making my time and race goals, right?

2013 Goals Training
1. Swim 300K for the year
Scale back a little bit to focus on form and speed (hey that's what the coach said!)

2. Bike 4,500 miles for the year
A little less, as I think I won't bike as much due to the Marathon Training

3. Run 1,500 miles for the year
A little more because of the Marathon training.

2013 Goals Time
1. Swim sub 30:00 for 1.2 miles
I would really like to nail this at Vegas or Rev3

2. Bike
I would really like to bike a sub 2:15 half, but I don't think the Vegas or Anderson courses are conducive to that. I'll come up with race specific goals as the time nears.

3. Run
I would like to run a 1:23:xx half, but again, not sure the courses I'm going to run will allow that.

2013 Goals Racing

1. Boston Marathon
Focus here is to have fun, enjoy the experience and not destroy my hip and ruin my training for Vegas.  So I'm shooting for 8 minute miles and a 3:30 finish

2. Ironman Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships
I'd really like to go Top 10 in my age group.  Not sure how it will go, as it is a much tougher course than I have ever done.  There were about 200 finishers in my AG at last years race, so top 10% would be good as well.

3. Rev3 SC (USAT Long Course National Championships)
Looking at a Top 5, and preferably Top 3 age group finish.  I'll be interested to see what the competition will be like.  In the past, this race wasn't as competitive as an IM 70.3 race, but with the USAT LC Nats, I'm not sure how it will pan out.  When Myrtle Beach used to host Long Course Nats, it was pretty competitive.

So now everything is written down.  I feel pretty good about the coming year.  I think my hip has finally gotten straightened out.  I'm excited about having a little bit more run base heading into the season for some hard training for Vegas.  I also hope to get my bike more aero, and of course work on the engine.  I believe it was Greg Lemond who said "It doesn't get easier, you just get faster".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Of a Hiatus and Swim Lessons

I had a goal to take the entire month of November off.  No workouts.  No physical activity of any kind except lifting beers, mass quantities of beers.  I had a couple of little nagging sore spots (I wouldn't use the term injuries) on my legs and feet that I wanted to completely heal up.  Mostly I just wanted to make sure I got enough of a mental and physical break before starting off the training for 2013.  With Boston in April and Las Vegas in September, it will be a pretty intense year.  I wanted to make sure I got back in the mindset of wanting to train.

I thought that it would take the full month, but 3 weeks in, I got pretty ancy.  I broke down over Thanksgiving weekend and went for a ride.  It was 65 and sunny, how could I resist?  Then I jumped in the pool on Monday and went for a run on Tuesday.  So I had 26 days off from Biking, 30 days off from Running, and 32 days off from Swimming.  The few extra days off from swimming were due to the swim being cancelled at Rev3 Florida.

So what really got me to break my November goal was a swim lesson.  I finally got a swim lesson setup and it was for that last week in November.  I didn't want to jump into the pool at the lesson having not swam for a month, so I swam on Monday and Wednesday.  Then I thought well if I'm gonna swim on Monday, I might as well bike on Saturday and Sunday.  Then I thought well if I'm biking on the weekend, swimming on Mon/Wed, why not go for a run on Tuesday and Thursday? Right?  So its really not my fault!

I have vaguely alluded to my troubles trying to find a good swim coach in some of my past posts.  I had a couple of lessons from the local YMCA guy (he was a no show on the first try).  It was helpful in the beginning, but when I got to the point that it looked like I wasn't going to drown, he really couldn't help me out anymore.  I had email contact with 2 coaches in Charlotte.  After a few emails about price, schedule, and me wanting to go ahead, I never heard from them again.  (I will withhold names to protect the guilty.)  So I really had my sights set on getting some real coaching from someone with a swimming background, but also coaches triathletes (or people who are bad at swimming).

On one visit to IOS I chatted up James and Melissa about how much I stunk at swimming.  This was right after my Augusta race which went incredible for me.  Obviously the current aided wetsuit swim helped a lot in that.  But if we take a deeper look at the numbers at say, Stumpy Creek, we see that I was 37th of 55 on the swim (67th percentile) in my age group.  Now compare that to my bike and run.  I had the fastest run in my age group by over 2 minutes and the fastest bike by over 4 minutes.  That's pretty pathetic swimming.

They suggested jumping in with the Masters Group that swims on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I think) at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center (MCAC).  I didn't really feel comfortable with that.  I really thought I needed some one-on-one coaching.  I mean someone to watch me swim in the pool and say, "Wow.  You truly are one of the worst swimmers I have seen in my entire life".  Or something to that effect.  As I went to checkout at IOS they had some business cards there and I picked up several and checked them out later.

I happened to pick up the card of Melinda Yelton.  Trijinx is the name of her coaching company.  She was very quick to respond to all my emails, and I believe she has reasonable pricing.  Her swimming credentials are actually quite impressive, I think.  So we setup a lesson at the MCAC of all places.  I had never been before, but its right on the way to work, which actually is better than Charlotte Christian or the Rock Hill Aquatic Center.  Plus I didn't have to pay a daily fee since I was getting a lesson.

The lesson went pretty well, I thought.  She said my body position actually wasn't bad, but I was a really bad "windmiller" she called it.  We went through several drills, which I will not go into any detail here as I will invoke client/coach privilege (as in pay for your own lesson if you want to know!)  The follow up email she sent with the evaluation and drills was quite thorough.  She included video links on my stroke and demonstrations of all the drills.

So now its up to me to hammer the drills for a while.  It will probably be at least mid January when I go back for another session.  I want to make sure I have all the drills down.  But it looks very promising, I will say.  In just a one hour she got my stroke count down from 27 all the way to 17 and it took the exact same amount of time!  That's efficiency.  And that is a good place to start.  The speed will come.  I have time since my "A" race isn't for another 9 months.