Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Official 2013 Austin 70.3 Race Plan

In one week I will find myself in Austin, Texas preparing for my second triathlon of the year, and my first WTC event.  Most years my season has been over for at least two months, but this year I've done a lot of my training after the school year has started.  Its been a challenge to do frequent training during the week given the time spent at work, family events, etc.  On top of that, we are definitely into Fall , so the change in temperatures and shorter days have also had an impact.  Most of my major workouts take place on the weekend and these haven't changed much.  Despite these challenges my training volume is certainly much higher than it has ever been at this time of year.   I feel prepared for the event next weekend.  I'm certainly hoping to better my time from HITS Sterling over a year ago.  The charts below compare my training in the 7 weeks before HITS (a late July event) and Austin (October 27).

With a week to race time, I will start tapering.  I have a couple of weekend workouts planned but they will be mostly low intensity.  Saturday will be a 6-8 mile run.  I'll probably throw in a "race pace" mile or two, but I'll mostly be running at a slower pace, just trying to stay loose.  Sunday afternoon it looks like warmer weather will prevail so I'm planning on heading out to the test track for one last ride on my boy "Blue."  I don't plan on riding more than about 30 miles, and I'll be shooting for a ride near race pace.  Last weekend I acquired a "pointy helmet" off of e-bay for about $30, so I want to try it out before the race to be sure it is comfortable enough and there are no concerns.  As the old adage goes "Nothing new on race day."
Note: The graphics only add .000222dbu's* of drag (dbu- douchebag units)
Given that the race is only a week away, here's the plan:
Race week preparations:  There's a lot to do here.  Everything from getting the car cleaned up, to booking a room for the night we are traveling, to making sure that I have a variety of gear for different conditions.  The last thing I want to be doing while in Austin is shopping for things that I've forgotten.  Right now the weather forecast for next weekend looks quite warm with a high of 79 on Sunday.  There's a lot of time between now and then however, so things could certainly change one way or the other.  Still, barring a surprise cold front, it looks like the safe bet is probably on the weather being warmer rather than cooler.
  • Ride 30-34 miles in "triathlon" mode aiming for some of the ride at estimated race pace (19-20 mph).
  • Begin gathering bike items in a central location to make packing easier.
  • Formulate menu of "healthy" eating for the next several days. (done)
  • Vacuum and clean inside of car
  • Gather Run items including shoes, visor, hat, arm warmers, gloves, socks, extra socks, etc.
  • Book Hotel Room for overnight on Thursday
  • Swim Tuesday morning: 800-1000 meters with emphasis on quick turnover of arms, high elbows, and sighting.  Nice, easy pace with a few fast ones thrown in here and there.
  • Gather swim items including extra cap, wet suit, garbage bag (for storage), goggles, anti-fog, transition towels, etc.
  • Check to make sure all items for trip are clean.
  • Complete any last minute shopping/ nutrition items.
  • Clean bike and pack bike items including tools, extra cleats, pump, lubricants, tire patching items, extra tubes, helmets, shoes, sunglasses, gloves, water bottles. nutrition, etc.
  • Fuel vehicle
  • Pack "civilian" clothes for trip
  • I pod, Chargers, etc. are ready
  • Pack Vehicle (depart by 4:15 p.m.)
Race Weekend: With any luck we'll arrive at the Lakeway resort by about midday on Friday (looks to be about a 12 hour trip from here to Austin).  Check-in isn't until the afternoon, but I'm hoping we'll be able to get in a little sooner if the rooms are ready.  A nice lunch will be in order, and if weather permits, perhaps a dip in the pool.  Relaxing will certainly be important after the long drive from Pueblo.  I'm guessing that Saturday will be mostly devoted to getting the bikes to check-in, packet pickup and maybe even checking out the first few miles of the bike course as well.

The Race:  Since this will be my second and last race of the season, I'd like to turn in as good of a performance as possible.  The sunset triathlon at the end of August gave me some idea of where I'm at, but since then, I've definitely put some more miles in and tried to build up my endurance a bit without sacrificing a few speed workouts.  At this point, I feel like I have a decent idea of how I might do in each discipline.  The trick will be putting them all together.  I like to have several possible scenarios in mind as this allows me to adjust my goals depending on course conditions and my performance throughout the event .  At HITS, the scorching weather wound up having a huge impact on my overall time, so only an "average" performance comes close to that.  In the last 15 months, I've really tried to increase my overall "base" so I feel like I should be a bit more comfortable going faster for a little longer.

Transition One
Transition Two
  For example,  it would be great to average 24 mph on the bike,  but I know that even when I've hammered out a 20 mile time trial, about the fastest I've been is 22.1 mph. As a result, I've set my times on the bike a bit lower, taking into account that I will still have to run off the bike.  Same thing with the run.  I'm not going to list an epic time that I would have trouble running as a standalone half marathon (my PB is around 1:36-1:37), let alone in the middle of a half ironman. In this case, an EPIC time would be around 8 minutes/ mile or a 1:45.

Race Focus:  There are some key things to remember in order to execute and achieve a race that is somewhere between "good" and "epic."  Unlike a sprint or an olympic distance triathlon where you pretty much go all out from the beginning, the half-ironman requires a steady release of effort/ exertion over several hours. A key to success is not getting "caught up in the moment," and remembering that the race will play out over the course of several hours.  This will be particularly important at the onset of the swim, bike, and run, where it can be easy to go out too fast.  Having a feel for how fast/ slow you are racing is key to keeping things in check.
Without a doubt, Austin will be the biggest race I've done by a factor of about 4 or 5 times.  I don't really know a way to prepare for that fact, other than to recognize that there will be more people than ever, and you'll have to negotiate that as best as possible.
Nutrition is sometimes considered the "fourth discipline" in triathlon and many athletes spend a great deal of time figuring out a nutrition plan that works for them.  I've always sought to work on a nutrition plan that is versatile.  In other words, I hope to have a strong enough stomach that I can take advantage of whatever nutrition is available, and be flexible enough to try something different if necessary.  The simpler, the better is my motto.  At HITS Sterling I struggled a bit with nutrition and had a few moments of nausea on the bike.  When I hit the run I wound up discovering "Coke" as a great way to settle the stomach and gain some energy back.  Last winter while ultra training, I worked on building my aerobic/ metabolic efficiency (I won't go into great detail but I got much better at converting stored fat to energy instead of glycogen)  which seems to reduce the amount of nutrition I need during races. I will still need to use a combination of energy drinks and gels given the length of the event.  I plan on taking on a few more gels during the bike ride to see if that will help maintain my energy level once I hit the run.
Staying as  "hydrated" and "cool" as possible are the final keys to a successful race.  Although the race is taking place at the end of October, the forecast looks fairly warm, and high humidity will be a new factor to take into account.  No doubt that a hot race will impact performance, so the only thing to do will to be to keep keep trying.
The Swim:  In the pool, I've had a great year of swimming.  This past month I've hit the pool a couple of times a week and I've  been able to be a bit faster over longer sets.  However, there's a big difference between swimming laps in a pool and doing 1.2 miles in an OWS.  During the summer the closest OWS are about 2 hours from home and as a result, I've only done two OWS this year.  I'm not going to worry about having a PR on the swim.  My goal will be to have a decent swim and to come out of the water feeling like I have a lot of energy left for the ride.  From the start I'm going to focus on a steady swim, trying to stay relaxed, breathe regularly and fall into a steady rhythm.  The swim is done in a counter clockwise direction which is also my preference as I seem to have an easier time sighting and staying on course.

The Bike:  I've put more work into the bike this year than ever before.  Not just in terms of miles ridden, but also in terms of challenging myself to push through and ride more aggressively.  I hope that these efforts will pay off in Austin.  At HITS Sterling I averaged 18.1 mph on my road bike.  At the Sunset Triathlon I averaged 21.2 mph on the tri bike.  Next weekend I hope to be somewhere between the two with an average somewhere between 19-20 mph.  At that pace, I should be able to ride a little under three hours and still have energy left for a decent run.

The Run: The run course at Austin consists of three laps each of which must be around 4.6 miles.  At a pace somewhere between 8:30-8:45/ mile, I should complete each lap in 36-38 minutes to have a "great" race.  The biggest factors could be the heat/humidity and how tired I am after the swim and bike portions.  I plan on starting slightly slower than my planned pace during the first mile just to get acclimated.  If I feel strong after the first two laps, I give myself permission to open it up on the last lap and see what I can do.  Don't want to be leaving anything out on the course.  I'm excited to experience the finish which actually takes place indoors.

Transitions: There are separate T1/T2 areas for this event which will be quite interesting.  That said, the basic process will be the same for each:
T1: Enter with wetsuit halfway off and goggles/ cap tucked in sleeve.  Quickly step out of suit by stepping on the top of the suit and pulling legs off.  Shoes on (socks if it's a chilly day). Helmet on, sunglasses on, and bike maintenance kit (these are in the helmet) stowed in pocket.   Head out to bike course.
T2: Rack bike.  Slip out of shoes just before dismount.  Helmet off and on bars (place bike maintenance inside of helmet).  Socks and Shoes on.  Helmet on and grab race belt. Pause to make sure I have everything.  If it's hot, use a water bottle to start cooling.

It has been nearly a year since I signed up for this race and so it's hard to believe it is now only a week away.  Should be a great way to wind up the season.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Soccer, Strong Run, Se-Session Ale, Chilly Ride, Kona, Walking Dead

Notes from the week's end:
I had a great run on Saturday morning.  I made it out the door at 6:30 and settled into a nice easy pace in anticipation of a challenging interval workout.  My original plan had been to do 6 x 0.5 miles at a 7:45/8:00 minute pace with an equal amount of recovery in between.  Instead, I wound up doing 10 x 0.5 miles between 6:45/7:45 minute pace.  I felt really good the entire time and came home feeling fairly fresh still which isn't how I usually feel after 11+ miles of running.  Later, I enjoyed watching Lilybug play some soccer before heading north to my parent's house.

In Greeley Saturday afternoon, I sampled several beers at the Crabtree Brewing Company.  The Rye-IPA was good, but my favorite wound up being their Se-Session Pale Ale.  Great hop flavor and a really nice finish at the end.

Sunday morning my brother and I headed out around 8 a.m. for a ride just south of Greeley.  When we left the house it was a "crisp" 34 degrees which made for some invigorating riding.  We returned after a challenging 3 hour ride that included plenty of cool breezes and a few rather steep climbs.  I admit to feeling fairly spent by the time we got finished.  Nearly 50 miles total riding and it was fun to ride somewhere new.

While I didn't get to see all of the Ironman World Championship on Saturday,  the performance of Mirinda Carfrae was unbelievable.  Consider this: Mirinda's run performance of 2:50:38 was faster than all but two of the top 10 male pros.  She even beat her husband's time of 2:51:18.  Truly an incredible performance from a dominant athlete.

And tonight, Fall is officially here with the season premiere of "The Walking Dead."  Has to be one of my favorite shows of all time and after all of the running, riding, and driving, I kind of feel like a Zombie!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Brick Simulator

Yesterday's training involved an "extended brick workout" for the upcoming 70.3 in Austin at the end of the month.  Originally I had planned to do it early on Saturday morning, but I realized that if I tried to get out the door by six in the morning, I would be riding in the dark of night still as the days have slowly gotten shorter.  On top of that, we got our first freeze in Colorado on Friday night meaning that early morning temperatures were around 26 degrees.  And since discretion is the better part of valor, I wisely chose to postpone my brick until mid-afternoon.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of chatter online about how rough the bike course is down in Austin.  The conversations seem to range from the "worst road I've ever ridden" to "really not that bad."  So just to be on the safe side,  I decided that for the first part of the brick, I would plan the day's ride on one of the rougher roads nearby: Highway 96 towards Wetmore.  This highway climbs west past the Pueblo Reservoir and is characterized by varied pavement quality.  Some of it is decent shape, but there are many areas where it's cracked, uneven and just downright bumpy.  There is also a slowly deteriorating strip of wheel wash along several miles which can be near impossible to see at times (more on that later).
The Road Surface has varying degrees of  "crappy"  for much of the ride towards Wetmore.
I used City Park as my transition area and set off a little after 2:00 p.m.  It was a pleasant day in the mid-60's, but I was glad to be wearing arm warmers for the ride as there was just a slight chill in the air from the preceding evening.  I made good time headed West in spite of the fact that it's a gradual climb out of Pueblo, managing to cover the first 20 miles in just under an hour.  Not too tired and still feeling like I had plenty left for the return trip and the run to follow.  Turning around, I was confronted by a headwind which had a modest impact on my speed.  The mostly gradual descent on the return trip allowed me to keep a pace somewhere between 19-21 mph most of the way.  In terms of pace, this is right where I hope to be for the 70.3, so I was pleased with how the riding was going.  Within the last 4 miles there is one significant climb before a long, steady descent back into town.  After cresting the hill, I was just settling back into the aerobars when I managed to ride right onto the wheel wash, that had been somewhat obscured with gravel and sand.  As I tried to maneuver my way out of the wash, the rattling of the bike caused my Garmin to pop out of its mount on the stem and it clattered onto the ground behind me.  I braked, unclipped from my pedals, and then "jogged" back  about 30 yards to where it lay on the ground.  Fortunately, it was still in working order suffering only a minor scratch.  I shuffled back to my bike and rode the rest of the way in without incident.  Thanks to the auto-pause feature, I'm guessing the brief stop didn't have a huge impact on my overall pace for the ride. Given the road conditions and the headwind, I was pleased with an overall pace of 19.7-8 mph.
Back at the the car, I popped open the hatch and got ready for my planned run of 10 miles.  I still had about a half-bottle of water from my ride, so I took a few sips along while I gulped down a few Sport Beans that I'd picked up a couple of days before at The Great Divide.  I was very thankful that it was a cool afternoon and I would guess the temps had dipped into the upper 50's by the time I set out to run.  The park and river trail provide plenty of shade which made for some excellent running conditions.  My original plan had been to join up with the Arkansas River Trail and do an out and back run towards the reservoir.  As I began my run however, it occurred to me that instead of heading out towards the reservoir, I could turn back towards the park, head up the hill, and create a nice 3 mile loop instead.  I liked this idea as it's similar to the three loop course that we will be doing in Austin.
When running off of the bike I'm always a little uncertain as to how fast I'm actually moving.  Usually it feels like a crawl, but often it's faster than what I perceive.   This afternoon, I'd decided just to run with my phone and since I didn't want to keep turning it on and off, I only looked at it about three times during the run.   The run broke down like this:
Lap one: (23:40)  I was feeling very strong on this lap.  In the back of my mind I was trying to remind myself to take it easy as there was still a fair amount of running to do.
Lap two: (25:06)  Still feeling good , but my pace had started to dip just a bit.  I was also running without any water and had long burned through the energy provided by the sport beans.
Lap three: (27:29) The last mile of the run was a good 10 minutes long, mostly because I decided to hike up the last hill instead of running it.  My stomach and gut were also a bit distressed due to the combination of a lack of water, only a few sport beans, and the fact that my last meal was breakfast consisting of eggs, beans, potatoes, green chili, and coffee.  Having eaten at 9:00 a.m. that morning, it had been a good 7 hours since I'd had anything to eat (guess that won't be my pre-race meal for the 70.3 race).  By the end of the run, I was entering into a pretty major "bonk" that would have really decimated me, if I'd had more running to do.

Comparison of the elevation profiles for Austin 70.3 and my Brick Simulator Loop
In fact, it took me a good hour or more before I finally felt back to myself.  By late evening I was fine, albeit a bit sore.  Fortunately, Sunday is mostly a rest day for me.  The combination bike/ run took me a total of about 3 hours and 18 minutes and I covered a distance of 49.2 miles, which is about 70% of the bike/ run distance of a half iron-man event.  It also gave me some insight into a few things in terms of race preparation:

  • Bike pace feels about right:  Somewhere between 19.5-20.5 mph seems very doable for the bike ride.  While another 16 miles is still quite a bit to ride, I felt strong enough on the bike that I think I can manage the speed.  Throughout the ride, I worked on not pushing harder, so that I would have something left in the legs for the run.
  • Run pace off of the bike is faster than it feels:  My first three mile splits on the run were 7:30, 7:56, 8:14.  During the 70.3, I hope to run somewhere between about an 8:15-8:30 pace/ mile.  This means I need to pay attention to pacing early on so as not to go out too fast.
  • Need to take on more nutrition/ hydration during the race:  I burned approximately 3000 calories during this brick.  However, I only consumed less than 200 calories and one 20 oz. bottle of water during the 3+ hours.  Way too low.  Whether it's liquid nutrition, gels, shots, etc.  I need to consume more during the event if I'm going to have enough energy to make it through the day.  Same goes for H20. Yesterday the weather was cool which helped me from becoming too easily dehydrated, but some extra water would have made a huge difference if I was still looking at another couple of hours of actual racing.

Yesterday's brick left me feeling pretty good about where I'm at in terms of my training to this point.  While the volume is a bit lower than what I might normally put in for a half ironman, it's actually better than I thought I'd do considering the obligations of work, etc.  Originally, I had planned to do another brick in a couple of weeks, but at this point, I don't think that's going to be necessary.  Instead, I'll work on a combination of some longer rides on the bike, coupled with some runs that incorporate speed work.  That along with the planned swims a couple of times a week, should set me up nicely for a taper beginning in about a week and half.