Thursday, June 30, 2011

6 Months Done

It's hard to believe we're half way through 2011, I just got used to writing 2011 instead of 2010 and now we're into the second half of the year. I'm not big on setting New Year's resolutions but I like to set New Year's goals and when I look back at the list I created for myself at the beginning of the year I have to say I've done a pretty good job so far. The biggest thing I wanted to change was to be healthier this year, 2010 was very difficult and I was getting the flu pretty much every month because of overtraining. This year has been great, I've managed to stay healthy and back off when I feel like something is coming on. I've trained more consistently and I can feel myself becoming a lot fitter because of it. There is something to be said about listening very carefully to what your body is telling you and responding to it appropriately.

The second half of the year is always a fantastic time, I'm kicking the summer of 2011 off with a return to Stony Plain and the Great White North 1/2 IM. It's where I set a PR in the 1/2 Ironman distance back in 2008 and it's my longest standing PR for any distance; 4:16.49. That year I went on to break 10 hours in IMC and I feel like I've been racing better and faster ever since. Based on how my training is going leading up to the race this year I'm confident I can break it if everything goes according to plan. I've been swimming more this year than any other and I feel really confident and strong in the water. I don't want to push too hard during the swim but if I can stay on-line and find someone's feet that I'm confortable drafting off of then I should be close to 30 minutes this year.

I'm really looking forward to the bike this year, I haven't really had a chance to test out the Trek on this course and I know I'm faster this year than previous years. In 2008 I did a 2:24.05, in 2009 I did a 2:27.35 and I know I can get that under 2:20 on this course. That should carry me into the run close to 2:50- 2:55 and I know I can run a sub- 1:20 half marathon on this course. So if all goes well I hope to set a new PR on Sunday and hopefully place in the top 5, it'll be a great battle between Kyle Marcotte, Geoff Symonds, and Paul Tichelaar this year and I'll have a front row seat.

That's the plan anyway, anything can happen on the day and I'm prepared to make adjustments as necessary but I want to go out and race as hard as I can and celebrate the fact that I'm healthly and active and doing what I love with Amber and some great friends. Hopefully see you out there on Sunday, happy Canada Day weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grande Prairie Tri 2011

What a great race even though I wasn't in this one it was an incredible experience to be out there cheering on everyone. I have to admit I did have a bit of envy of all those racing but I know myself and I know my body and it was definitely a good idea to sit this one out. The day before the race Amber, Robert, Annette and I had a plan to go out and ride the first 180k of the year. Why? I don't know but it sounded like a good idea. Actually all three of them were racing the next day and this ride was supposed to prevent them from going "all-out" during the race. I'm not sure if it worked because they all raced very hard and it looked like they gave it everything they had.

It was so nice to have a race in town where you could sleep in your own bed, wake up and have your normal breakfast and not have to worry about all those little things that you do when you are travelling. Of course I wasn't racing so maybe Amber felt differently. There were only 82 racers and all the triathletes in town are a pretty close knit community so I had a chance to see and talk to almost everyone. The energy before the start was great, a lot of people were anxious racing at home but other than one guy from Fort St. John falling on the bike (and still placing 4th!) everything went off without a hitch.

I could tell Amber was nervous and excited but fortunately she was more excited than nervous for this one. She's done a great job at controlling her energy this year and not allowing her nerves to get the better of her before a race, something she's definitely going to need before IMC this year. I was counting the laps in her lane and it was awesome to be able to watch her swim and see how she managed the first part of her race. She did an excellent job, leading out on the first three laps she realized that someone was just going to draft off her the entire way so she let her pass and then stayed in her draft until she started to die and Amber took over again. She probably did about an 8:45 for the 500m but with the time starting on the pool deck and ending as she left the pool it was clocked at 9:10.

The bike was a very challenging 6 loop course that has a lot of accelerating and decelerating and it just knocks the crap out of your legs. It's like doing a TT with sprinting drills mixed in for 35-40 minutes straight. I went to get Harley out of the car, he got to watch the rest of the race and we picked a good spot to catch all the riders. Robert and Annette were both having a fantastic race considering what we did the day before and Robert said Amber was biking incredibly strong. She looked relaxed and comfortable even though her heart was probably in her throat, she pushed the entire ride and finished with the 2nd best female time and 10th overall in 40:17.

The run is a nice loop around the reservoir and although it said it was 5k, with some of the times out there it was probably more like 4- 4.5k. Harley and I ran down to watch Amber half way through the run and she was grabbing her side like she was getting a bad stitch but to her credit she didn't slow down and she just kept running through it. We ran back to the finish and Robert was coming in looking strong and running fast he ended up clocking a 1:01.05 and placing 2nd overall! Awesome! He wanted to go out and run another hour so Harley and I joined him and it was great to see him in such good spirits, especially after we did a 5 and 1/2 hour bike the day before. Amber also had a terrific race coming in at 1:09.32 and placing 2nd female and 10th overall! Great result on a tough bike course and riding 160k the day before. Annette also finished her first tri winning her age group and placing right behind Amber in 1:11.39, incredible for a first timer. I think my first race I almost finished dead last but I knew after that moment I loved the sport and would continue to do it for as long as I could.

It was a great experience to see everyone out there and now I'm excited to get out there myself and race hard at GWN. I've been training pretty well up until this week when I managed to catch a flu that's been going around but I'm starting to bounce back slowly. This weekend is a couple 100k rides and an hour run and then next week will be a swim focus with some short rides and runs before the race on July 3rd, I can't wait!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Training Trials

I've come to the conclusion that training for an Ironman is HARD! It may not sound like a new discovery to a lot of people but I feel like my body is screaming at me. I love the process of feeling fitter as the summer progresses but dealing with the aches and pains and overwhelming desire to stay in bed after the alarm goes off is really tough. I always seem to slow down at work during this time of year and it's great to have something to focus on like training but I think I forgot how hard it is to get out of bed after a tough day either in the pool on the bike or running.

Yesterday Robert had a 40k TT planned and a bunch of us decided to join in the fun; Paul, Bart, Steve, Bruce, Amber and myself all showed up to suffer with him. It was great to have so many people out there to hurt with but I forgot how bad the aftermath of such a tough bike could be. We warmed up for 5k and started straight into a fairly brisk headwind. I knew the first 20k was going to be brutal (and it was) I was hitting heartrates on the bike that I very rarely see, 150-155bpm and after 10kms of that my legs started to die a little. Robert had opened up a gap on me at the first climb and I had to let him go, I focused on staying in my own effort and shut out those thoughts of 'your not going fast enough' or 'it's just not your day' and kept the effort as high as possible.

I was looking at the time trying my best to get to the 10k mark at 15 minutes and the 20k mark at 30 minutes but it was so tough with the undulating hills and headwind. I hit the 20k turnaround at 31:15, okay I can live with that. The way back was so freeking fast I was having a blast as I crused along at 43-45km/hr and kept my heart rate in the 140s. My legs were really starting to feel the effort and I could tell they wanted to quit but I just kept my eyes on the time and continued to count down the minutes. I was expecting to finish in the 1:02- 1:03 range so you could imagine my surprise when I finished in 59:20!!! Wow, a new PR for that distance, awesome! Robert also set a new PR finishing in the 57 minute range, incredible. Amber set a PR too finishing in 1:10, amazing babe!

All in all it was a fantastic day even though none of us went into it with fresh legs, Amber did a brutal leg workout, Robert and Bart did a VO2 max test, I did a tough 10 mile run the day before and all of us had done our third swim of the week by then. So you could imagine how most of us felt waking up this morning, Amber was a trooper and got up at 5am to teach her class for 6am. I dragged myself out of bed and to the pool to meet Robert and we managed to slug out 5x 500m and I saw Bart on the way out and he looked pretty tired. It's been a tough week so far but that's Ironman training for you, suffer a little now or suffer a lot later.