Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Closing out the year

My racing year is coming to an end. I am counting down the days until the Longhorn Half Ironman which is only 5 days away. After that race I am taking a much deserved and much needed break. Not a sit around on the couch type of break but a no 3 hour training sessions type of break. I think this is a good time to reflect on my year and see if I can pinpoint all the positives and negatives.

To start 0ff I know that I am ready for the season to be done. I can feel my motivation waining. The weather is getting cooler and it is getting harder to get out of the warm cozy bed in the morning. The kids are starting up with all kinds of extra curricular activities that are starting to eat away at my weekends, and my body just feels like it needs a vacation.

So what happened this year that I can call an achievement. Lets start with the fact that this was my first season as a Triathlete and I completed 5 races. That in itself is great but looking further into it my finishes were not typical of a rookie (not that I am bragging). In all of them I finished in the top 50 overall and top 10 in my age group in all except one. I placed 3rd AG in the Austin Triathlon and cut over 13 minutes off my time from my Olympic distance race at CapTexTri earlier in the season. At that same race I set a personal record for the 10K (not just 10k's in triathlons). How about the fact that I learned more about nutrition this year than I ever have in any competitive arena I have been in. I learned exponentially about training techniques and how to optimize training days. I even learned more about bike maintenance than I even wanted to know.

Now for the negative. Its hard to find the bad in this season. I stayed injury free except for the nagging shoulder problem. I did find out that it is Arthritis of my AC Joint and I also have a Labral tear. I have always had problems but this year it has been nagging me constantly because of the increased training. I was going to have surgery but a physical therapist friend talked me out of it until I can spend some time with a PT and see if I can fix it that way. That is it for the bad this season. I just cannot find any thing to complain about. i am sure next year I will be complaining more because I will have this season to compare to.

There are many goals to set and many improvements to make for next season but I am not starting those until after this weekend and the Longhorn HIM. I cannot wait until the race this weekend and I also cannot wait until it is behind me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not the typical race report

It has been 4 days since the Austin Tri and I was actually able to get away from work for a few days because of a conference in Dallas. This means that I had a lot of time to think back on my race.

I will begin by saying I met my goal. I wanted to drop 10 minutes of my time from the Cap Tex Tri and I did that with no problem. All three disciplines were PRs. This was a great sign that my training has been paying off. I also finally broke onto the awards podium, placing third in my age group. This is exciting, it gives me just that much more confidence in my training and my talents (however big or small). The two negatives were that my bike leg was only 2 minutes faster than at the Cap Tex Tri and T1 was horrible (about 3:30) I thought that I was faster on the bike but ended up about the same as 3 months ago. Maybe this is good because my run leg was the fastest I have ever done in a race of any kind. If I went out faster on the bike I might have been dead on the run. That is something to play with.

Anyway, the reason that I entitled this entry " Not your typical race report" was because as I thought about the race, I thought about what I think about during a race. Below are my observations.

Swim: During the swim I think about several things. I start out trying to control my breathing and not allowing myself to go out too fast. I don't want to waste any energy trying to beat everyone in the first 500M. A friend of mine told me once, remember that you can't win a triathlon during the swim. My goal is to stay close to the front but winning the swim is not a big deal. After the first 500M or so my thoughts turn to stroke efficiency. I concentrate on a good pull and steady breathing. After that I try to sight in on someone in my wave that is close to me and either pass them or or at least stay close. This has worked out well so far. I always come out of the water in the top 10 of my age group.

Bike: During the bike I try to maximize my average speed without killing my legs too early. I also pick up my race at this stage by sighting someone in front of me, typically about 1/4 mile ahead, and try to pass them before going on to the next person. In the back of my mind all the time though I am always real nervous about getting a penalty for drafting so I try to keep conscious of this rule the entire time on the bike. During the bike I race a lot against others and really try to pass as many people as I can. Something I have not figured out is how to pace myself on the bike so that I don't kill myself on the run. I have a feeling that I am holding back on the bike and my body could take it if I went faster.

Run: The run is a different animal all together. The run for me has two different parts. For the first few miles it is all about finding my legs and passing as many people as possible. Then as I settle into a nice pace my mind wanders. I start thinking about work, or my "honey do" list. Periodically I will check my watch and see if I am on pace for whatever goal I have set for the race. Sometimes I tend to look around and take in the sights. As the race draws to a close ( maybe the last 1-2 miles) I will zero in on my pace and pick up my speed. I will then pick out someone in front of me, usually several hundred yards, and pass them. Then if time allows I will do it again. The final 200 yards is usually an all out sprint.

I don't think that I have figured out how to manage my races yet so that I can develop a winning strategy instead of a survival strategy. I think in the off season I should do a few duathlons and play with managing the run and bike portions.