October Training Update, Cyclocross, Frank McNamara, and GWN

I haven’t written in a while so I thought I’d take a moment to think about what I’ve done in the last two months, what I am currently up to, and an update on a big step I’m hoping to make in Triathlon next year. Let’s start with the current stuff. There hasn’t been much to report lately as for the most part, it’s been back to training without much serious racing.

Cycling

So far I haven’t had too much of a chance to race cyclocross because I’ve been travelling 2 of the 3 weekends that there has been racing in Edmonton. There are 2 weekends of Edmonton racing left so I am hoping to do at least one more race this season more as experience gained for next year than anything. I’ve snuck a couple of long rides in here and there as well. Every time I get on my road bike I remember just how much I’ve missed it even when it means riding into nasty headwinds(grinning the whole way) like I had to deal with today. Cross is fun, but I freaking love hitting the open road.

I’ve been doing most of my riding indoors on the spin bike lately which works out to about 3 hours a week. Once racing season ends, the Tri-Club will begin our brick sessions, during which I hope to get at-least two extra hours a week of riding in as I don’t think riding only 3 hours a week is going to be enough to get where I want to be for next year. For now I’ve tried to cap my heart rate at 150 bpm to try and focus on building aerobic fitness. So far it’s seems to be working although with only an hour of riding I sometimes struggle to feel really tired/not pin it during a workout as an older me would approve of.

Running

Recently I’ve been running 3 times a week. Easy on Tuesday nights, super hard speed workout on Wednesdays, and then another slightly harder day on Fridays. For the wednesday workouts, I’ve been completing the Frank McNamara Wednesday night XC races. So far I’ve been really pleased with my results as I neglected my run for much of the Summer(long runs once a week) and did absolutely zero speed work. I consistently finish around 15th place when the fast runners come out which I am quite happy with.  I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve become really comfortable running at high heart rates when I need too, and I can hold a really high effort(180bpm+) for the entirety of those races. This has definitely translated into an increase in running fitness as well. When I was training for Hypo-half last year I remember for about 150bpm I could run around 5:00min/km whereas now for the same effort I am running 4:45min/km’s. As of right now I am doing about 2 hours a week of easy, medium distance runs, and about 25 minutes of absolute max effort work. Once bike season ends I plan on adding an additional long run day into the training regime on Saturdays and then another hour of brick runs on Sundays, and then continuing with speed work on Wednesdays as well. This should leave me with about 3 – 4 hours of easy running a week, 30 minutes or so of top end speed work, and then an hour or so of tempo work on Sundays during the brick workouts for a grand total of 4.5 – 5.5 hours a week of training.

Swimming

My swimming is coming along nicely as well. I’ve definitely noticed a cycle of gaining speed through increasing fitness, plateauing/almost injuring myself due to form issues, fixing my form, and as a result, pushing through to a new level of swimming speed. At the end of August I started to develop a pain in the collarbone area, which was caused due to my hand entry. First I was not reaching as far as I should have been before entering the water each stroke. As well I was entering thumb first, which causes a lot of rotation and un-needed stress on the shoulder joints. And finally I was also entering with my hand much less than at shoulder width. After entering my hand further forward, out away from my head, and with my thumb level, I’ve noticed an improved catch as well as my shoulder problems going away.

Finally, we completed a 400m TT on Thursday evening. I was happy to find that I swam approximately 7:40s. A decrease  of about 33 seconds from my last TT in May! Since I don’t have any real background in swimming I’ve been leaving my training regime in the hands of our coaches but feel approximately the 2.5 – 3 hours a week I have been doing is about ideal to increase fitness while avoiding injury.

Great White North:  I’ve made the plunge and signed up for Great White North.  It’s definitely going to be my “A” race triathlon for the next year and is located in a nice gap between other racing I will be doing. I’ve set a super ambitious goal for myself of completing it in sub 5 hours.

Plan:

40 minute swim(2min/100m)

5 minutes for T1

34km/h on the bike for 90km’s = 2hr 38 minutes

5 minutes for T2

Leaving me an 1hr 37 minutes to finish 21.1km of running. (~4:35min/km)

Ideally I’d like to get through transitions quicker, however I’ve left myself time here as I have no idea how long they are and would rather overshoot on how long it’d take than expect to fly through there. I don’t see T1 getting much quicker than this as I’ll be getting out of the water with a ton of people, have to strip off a wetsuit, and have to navigate a bunch of slower triathletes to get onto the bike course.

I think this is going to hurt a lot, but it is definitely achievable. Based on swim smooths css calculator, my threshold speed is exactly 2min/100m as of now, and I’ve still got 8 months to improve. I definitely feel like I can hold 34km/h on the bike, especially with how flat the course is, plus a big fitness boost from another 2 months of road racing under my belt. Finally, I plan on running sub 1hr 30min in a half-marathon by the end of April. Assuming I hold this fitness and run no faster than 1:29:59 and don’t make any gains in the 2 months following, I’d need to run at 92% of my running only goal which seems doable.

Edmonton Police Half

I am aiming to run a sub 1:30 at this race. It’s going to be semi-hilly, but I think it is doable with the next 6.5 months to prepare for it. I ran 1:37 in half a foot of snow last February, albeit on a fairly flat course, so I think I should be able to make this happen.

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Winter 2012 Training Plans and Goals for 2013

With Tour de Bowness and the Kelowna Apple Triathlon behind me, my Road Racing and Triathlon seasons have come to an end. I made it through the season in relatively one piece. I had to deal with a bit of an arch injury after Fast Trax 30km, left some skin on the Crit course at TdB, and have picked up a slight cough that I haven’t been able to shake since Edmonton ITU but other than that feel pretty good right now.

With the temperature starting to drop, only Cyclocross season remains. I have really mixed feelings about CX right now. It seems like it is going to be absolute blast, but I’ve crashed fairly hard on every CX ride I’ve been on to this point, so if I can end that trend I’ll be much more thrilled about the sport. So far I have 3 races in mind, the Kettle Cross Enduro, School of Cross, and Hop N’ Hurl. I plan on really only tapering for the first race as it will be quite a long solo effort. After the last cross race of the season, and when the snow hits the ground for good, I plan on taking a hard rest week to give the body a bit of a chance to recover.

Below I’ve attempted to outline my basic goals for next year’s race season.

Running

As of the first week in September I will be back to training with the Triathlon club full time as I am required to coach Tuesday and Friday evenings and will being participating in our club’s swims on Mondays and Thursdays. One of the big goals I have for next year is to complete the Grizzly Ultra Marathon in October 2013. The race consists of  a 50km trail run with 1 691m of elevation gain(OUCH!). I’ve talked with Jack from Fast Trax, who is the head coach of a pretty hardcore Ultra running club in Edmonton, and he’s built me a modified training plan based on what his racers normally do. I made it clear that I only have time to run at maximum four times per week, and not the 7-9 that his crazy athletes do. For now he has me on a Half-Marathon speed program which I intend to begin with the first week in September. My long term goal is to be able to go sub 1:29 at Edmonton Police Half-Marathon which means being able to run below 4:13min/km for the duration of the race. After completing this race in April, I will rest up and begin increasing the duration of my base and long runs towards the longer distances I need in order to do the Grizzly.

The training plan looks something like this:

Tuesday – Base Run < 60 minutes

Wednesday – Intervals or Tempo Run

Friday – Base Run < 60 minutes

Saturday or Sunday – Long Slow Run or Intervals

Since I really neglected my run near the latter half of the summer, averaging about 12km/week, I plan on getting my distance back up to around 25km/week and then will increase the volume slowly through September and October as biking season ends and my legs are more likely to survive  the 40+km/week the plan calls for.

Triathlon

I am not completely sure what my plans are for Triathlon next year. I am considering the move to longer course racing. I think I have the ability to race a Half-Ironman in a reasonable time. I am considering racing either Calgary 70.3 or Great White North however I cannot afford to do both. I am also considering the possibility of doing the Kelowna Apple again. I have a score to settle with that race. I feel with consistent off-season swimming, biking, and the run plan I intend to do, I will be fairly strong coming in to next year.

In terms of swimming, I’d like to crack the 30 minute barrier for the 1500m open swim. My best time this year was 31:40 at Edmonton ITU without a wetsuit. This takes a combination of sighting and fitness, which I think should be well within reach next year by swimming twice a week regularly through the Winter. This also means getting my race pace under 2:00min/100m. Without consistent summer training I believe I have gotten it down to somewhere around 2:05min/100m. Blazing fast, I know.

Bike Racing

I plan on hitting bike racing hard next year starting with Velocity Stage Race, Pidgin Lake Road Race, Devon Bikefest, Banff Bikefest or Rundle Mountain Stage Race, and then finally Superweek in Calgary if I’m not frazzled from all of the other racing I’ve done to that point. Ideally I hope to upgrade into Category 4 next year. Another Fall/Winter of hard work on the spin bikes plus hitting bike season earlier should enable me to score the remaining 20 points I need to make the jump fairly early in the season.

Fall/Winter Training Schedule

Monday – Core 1 hour, Swim 1.5 hours

Tuesday – Run 1 hour, Bike 1 hour

Wednesday – Run 1 hour

Thursday – Core 1 hour, Swim 1.5 hours

Friday – Run 1 hour, Bike 1 Hour

Saturday – 2-3 hours of biking/running or Off

Sunday – 2-3 hours of biking/running

Total: 12 – 16 Hours

Or, subtracting for about 30 missed workouts due to resting, holidays, school, social life I should log somewhere between 325 – 475 hours of training during the school year. Since the beginning of April I’ve logged 185 hours not including swimming which I suspect would push the total to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 225 hours. That also includes some pretty hard race tapers, and a 2 week dead zone where I did virtually nothing in July after Edmonton ITU.

Great Speed Swim Workout

With my upcoming race on Saturday morning, I decided to give my legs a break from the regular Thursday night pounding that hills with ERTC inflicted on them. Instead I went to our Tri club’s swim practise and was treated to a great workout by our coach Mike. It provided a good combination of pacing work, speed, and endurance all mixed into one package. I found this to be a lot of fun and am writing about this as much for the 10 people that might read this as for archiving this workout so I don’t forget.

The distance worked out to 2.2km and I finished it in around 90 minutes. I consider myself an “advanced beginner”.

Warm-up:

3x: 100m easy free style, 25m backstroke

+ 25m of back kick to get back to the start

Main Set 1(Hard Kick, Race Pace):

6x: 25m of kick at 40 seconds, 50m of freestyle on 1 minute, 30 seconds rest

Main Set 2(Race Pace – 10 seconds, Race Pace):

1x: 50m on 1:10, 50m on 1:00

1x: 100m on 2:20, 100m on 2:00

1x: 150m on 3:30, 150m on 3:00

Main Set 3(Active Recovery, Race Pace, AR, Above RP, AR, 2 x All Out):

100m on 2:30, 100m on 2:00, 100m on 3:00, 1oom on 1:50, 100m on 3:00, 50m on 50s, 50m on 50s

Cool Down:

100m easy free style

Notes:

-This workout uses speeds I am comfortable with where my race pace is approximately 2:00/100m. Based on that time you can adjust the workout to fit your own race pace speed.

-If you need more distance, tack it onto the 3rd Main Set

-On the 2nd and 3rd sets I worked on pacing myself so I arrived exactly at the allotted time which allowed me to practise pacing and also made for 2 sets of 600m of consecutive swimming

Coronation Triathlon

Well, today I officially became a triathlete. I also found out that you can do all of the brick’s, mini-tri’s and training you want, but nothing compares to the overall hurt that you experience in a real triathlon.

The swim was about what I expected it to be. I actually did a pretty good job of predicting my overall time and got seeded with a group of people who were all pretty close in terms of speed. Our lane had no real issues with passing or turning. One really annoying feature of Peter Hemming way pool that I discovered really quickly is that it lacks the little lip around the edge of the pool. While this really has no affect on you if you can flip turn, I cannot and it made grabbing onto the wall really tricky to do my side turns. There were probably about 4 or 5 really terrible turns that I had probably cost me a couple of seconds and some wasted effort.

The swim itself wasn’t bad, I felt I paced myself pretty well and made sure that I didn’t blow up. I did get the light headed feeling that I get when I really push my distance at high pace. It’s almost like a strong head ache, but I’ve had this before so I didn’t panic. I got out of the pool after swimming my 1000m and felt horrendously bad. This being the second time I’d swam 1000m in my life after doing 100m repeats and 400m time trials for most of my most recent training it was definitely a bit of a shock. I think it was more that I hadn’t really experience the feeling of swimming hard, or that long, then pulling myself out of the pool and sprinting for T1.

My transition was surprisingly fast. I got out of the pool about half a length behind the other 2 faster guys in my lane who said they had some major race experience and beat them onto the bike course. While I didn’t practise my transitions before hand, I really spent some time and thought about what I was going to do and laid my gear out pretty well. The toughest thing to simulate is the feeling of having shaky arms from the swim and feeling like you are going to pass out/vomit. Also, getting my tri-top on was another funny scene to watch. It’s tough to do when you are soaking wet.

The bike course was fairly tough. On the slight down hill heading towards the river, there was about a 20km/h headwind which really kills some of your momentum. There was one spot where the shelter was really good and the course got a bit steeper so I really pushed hard to get up near 47km/h ish. It was surprising how many people were not taking race lines, people were pretty much everywhere but on the fastest path through the course. This worked out really well for me as I didn’t have to deal with getting around people who were in the race line. The uphill was tough to gauge. It was in that awkward spot between a hill climb and a gradual slope so you really had to work hard to find the right effort/gear to climb fast but not waste energy. Also, it felt pretty sweet pacing people with race wheels and aero bikes and aero helmets on my entry level road biking Cannondale.

Other than the feeling of T1, the run was the hardest part and definitely hurt a lot as to be expected. I was familiar with the rubbery feeling that accompanies changing from the bike to run was from all of the brick sessions I’d done. But for some reason I had gotten really tight on the front-outside of my leg between my knee and my ankle. I have felt the feeling before when running on a sloped highway so maybe the strange elevations and angles of the roads and paths caused it. It really felt like the limiting factor in my run. I was going about as fast as possible without it exploding in pain. That being said I was still around ~165bpm average on the heart rate and was still going fairly fast. The only flat part of the course was the last 1.5km.  I started feeling a bit stronger and the pain in my leg either went down or adrenalin kicked in and I was able to lay down some sub 4min/km for the last little bit. I sprinted it in to finish the race off, I think people thought I was dogging it and then picked it up at the end when really my last 1km was a sprint in comparison to most of the people I passed.

Official Splits(with transitions)

1:40:29 Derek DOWLING Edmonton 7/26   M2029 231 
Swim: 113th   21:56 
Bike 36th   47:28 32.9km/h (includes t1 and t2)        
Run: 22nd   31:06  3:54min/km

Takeaways

-Need to do some more distance work in the swim

-Once my tri bike shoes come, I need to practise the flying mount. Running down pavement in carbon soled shoes is both expensive and looks really dumb.

-There is definitely value to taping gels to the top tube of your bike, it’s hard to get at them from the side pockets of my vest

-Power Gel’s taste about 100x better than GU’s

-Need to get out of the shoes on the bike quicker, could have had a train wreck when I came flying up to the dismount line and wasted time

-Need to drink more on the bike, felt pretty dehydrated going into the run

-Need to run more, I’ve been neglecting it

-Need to brick off of road rides more, it’s a lot different than bricking off a spin bike

Also, based on my Garmin which is pretty accurate, the course was short by about 1.9km on the bike and about 0.7km on the run. The difference between 7th place and an age group podium finish was about the difference between my swim time and the average of our age group.

Latest Swim TT

So today I did another 400m swim TT. My 100m splits were approximately:

1:49,1:44,1:39,1:30

For a grand total of 6:42. This absolutely demolishes my last PB in a 25m which was right around 8:32. Great to see the swim work continue to pay off. The big take away from both of my most recent swim TT’s is pacing. Instead of coming out in the first 100m like a bat out of hell, start fast but relaxed and gradually crank up the intensity as you near your goal. Ideally it would be best to swim the whole thing equally at threshold, but I still need to practise something like that before I try it in a race.

Peak Week and Other Race Plans

Spring has sprung, school is out for the summer, and I have been training like crazy. Since my schedule has stabilized I have been moving towards approximately 12-14 hours a week of training with a schedule of:

Mon: Long Run

Tuesday: Morning Swim, Night 4x5km bike tt’s

Wednesday: Open, but normally a recovery ride

Thursday: Hill Night on the Bike

Friday: Morning Run Intervals, Night open

Saturday: Medium Distance Ride(~100km)

Sunday: Long Ride (120+km)

Coronation is fast approaching and I am starting to feel like I’m getting into race form. My legs are constantly sore, a bit fatigued, and it will be nice to take a couple of days to rest them up. Today in the pool I did both a 400m TT and a 200m TT. These are both great for pushing race pace and are made up a great workout to peak off of. The catch was I decided to use the Wetronome to determine the approximate pacing I would use.

In the last TT’s I completed, I swam a 8:28 400m, and a 4:02 200m. This worked out to a Critical Swim Speed of 2:13/100m. Since then I have continued to work on technique and have spent a lot of time doing 50m and 100m repeats well above the 2:13/100m pace. While it was hard to see improvement as I was doing these sets, in both time trials I felt much more comfortable pushing the pace and was able to hold an elevated perceived effort for much longer than I normally could. After examining the splits from my last 400m TT, it was quite obvious that I was really inconsistent and came out and swam my first 50m in 52 seconds, whereas my second last 50m was 1:09, not ideal for distance swimming. This time Stefan, who’s been acting as a swim coach for me, decided to put me on a 1:02/100m pace. In combination with this consistency and intervals, I was able to swim an 8:11 – 400m and a 3:58 – 200m which are both PB’s. On top of this I have dropped my CSS time by 5 seconds to 2:06/100m meaning I should be able to hold this pace on race day for great distances without faltering. It turns out that my last test results were on April 17th, so I managed to make this much of an improvement in a month which is awesome.

My goal is to swim 1000m in under 21:00 at Coronation. It will be fast, but I think achievable if I am careful about pacing.

In other news, I have been attempting to get my Summer race plans all sorted out. This is the tentative updated version:

May 27th – Coronation (Sort of Olympic Distance)

June 16th – Fast Trax 30k Ultra (Trail Run)

June 23-24 – Devon Grand Prix (Bike Race)

July 7th, Edmonton ITU (Olympic Tri)

August 3-6th, Tour de Bowness (Bike Race)

August 18th – Kelowna Apple Triathlon (Olympic Tri)

September 23rd  – St Albert Fall Challenge (Half-Marathon) (Optional)

After this point, I hope to throw in a couple of Cyclocross races as well. It’s going to be a busy but fun summer of all kinds of racing I think! Hopefully I survive.

 

Summer Race & Training Plans

This summer is sure to be a busy one between my summer internship, a part time web admin job, training, and racing. Oh yaa, and supposedly relaxation time. Anyways, I am gearing up for my first real season of endurance racing. So far I’ve put in 8 months of hard work and have another 1 month before my first real challenge. As it is my first real year of racing I’ve decided to really focus on my bike. This is where I believe I have the most potential to improve and really can add some major volume without hurting myself as I have already managed to do quite easily with swimming and running. The other reason why I am focusing on the bike is so I can attempt a half Ironman in the near future. I already know I can run a pretty solid half-marathon, and I can’t really swim any harder without re-injuring my shoulder, so making a 90km bike seem easy and short is by far the best option for this summer.

To make my bike better, I’ve joined ERTC. So far I haven’t been disappointed with the workouts. They offer interval work on Tuesdays, a hill night on Thursdays, and long rides on Saturdays and Sundays. My plan is to do Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays with them, and long Tri Club rides on Sundays with our club. 4 rides a week should be more than plenty to get me where I want to be.

I continue to keep making improvements with my swim. Since injuring my shoulder I have completed revamped my swim stroke to become more relaxed, rythmical, and more powerful all at the same time. I managed to beat my last PB which was 8:32s-400m which was in a 25m pool by 4 seconds(8:28s) in the Kinsmen 50m pool which is great. I did this while completely cutting out distance, speed, and cardio work and focusing solely on technique which is awesome feedback for my improving technique. Using the Swim Smooth website as I gude, I also found out today my Critical Swim Speed (CSS) today. CSS is an approximation of your lactate threshold speed or about what you should be able to hold for long distance swimming. My CSS is roughly 2:13/100m. Now that I know this, I can start to do sets at this pace to get used to swimming at my CSS which will push my threshold up so that I can swim faster, farther. The other good news is this is extremely slow and that there is tons of room for improvement.

Finally, my run feels as strong as always. I am becoming able to run long distances at high speeds, with lots of hills. From March 9th to April 9th I ran 104 miles as part of Strava & GU’s 100 000 mile challenge. I have been dealing with some knee pain on my left knee. So I have been trying to take it fairly easy.

So far for races, here is what I have planned:

1) Coronation Triathlon – May 27, 2012

1km swim – 26km bike – 8km run

This race is strange in terms of distance. My goal is to finish in a total time of (2:13s/100m x 1000m) + (26km/35km/h) + 8km x 4min/km = 22:10s + 45min + 32min + 3 minutes(transition) = ~1:42:00s. That being said, this is my first real triathlon so  as long as I finish under 1hr 45mins I will be satisfied.

2) Fast Trax 30km Ultra – June 16th, 2012

30 km of trail running

This should be an interesting run. I have never done a trail race let alone a 30 km run. I signed up for this race as motivation for run training. Once the trails start to dry up I will begin to do both long runs with trails and hill climbs mixed in. I’m not to sure what the course will be like yet, but my goal is to run sub 6min/km which would mean finishing in just under 3 hours. This would have been good enough for 3rd place in my age group last year.

3) Edmonton ITU – July 8th, 2012

1.5km swim- 40km bike – 10km run

Edmonton is hosting the national championships this year for the Triathlon Canada at Sprint and Olympic distances. This means that the top 10 finishers from each age group will qualify to represent Team Canada at the Triathlon Age Group World Championships. This is my A race, or most important race of the year for me. My goal is to finish top 10 in my age group although this will be a real challenge. The biggest obstacle will include this being my first open water race swim, although it’s in Hawrelak pond which is about 4.5 feet deep and also that my swim is really slow. Also, this will be my first Olympic distance triathlon.

My goal is to finish in a time of (2:13/100m x 1500m) + (40km/35km/h) + (4:10min/km x 10km) = 33:15 + 1:09:00 + 41:40 + 3min(transition) = ~ 2:27:00

Again, as it is my first real open water swim, a hilly bike course, and a crowded run, I will still be satisfied with anything below 2:30:00.

After ITU I have no set plans. I might throw in another Triathlon, perhaps the Edmonton Derby Half-Marathon, or something else. I really want to try out cyclo-cross racing as well. I feel like it will really help me build power for the next biking season and will help make me a more proficient rider.