Sunday, April 27, 2008

Final Time Trial of the Week

This morning's swim was the last TT of recovery week - 100m followed by 600m.

Today's TT results
100m - 1:35 - PR
600m - 10:47

23 March TT results
100m -1:38
600m - 10:48

I'm happy with these times, I kept even with my last 600m time (which totally thrilled me in March) and this may be a PR. I'm pretty sure that 1:35 is at PR for 100m. While I'm taking credit for 90% of the 100m effort, Craig in lane 2 was keeping pace with me throughout and I was determined not to let him beat me!

I'd normally be pumped about being faster than Brian and Stan on the 600m TT, but as Brian is recovering from racing Delta yesterday and Stan is recovering from racing Boston on Monday (with an injury, no less), I'm thinking this is unlikely to be repeated.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Sympathies

Man killed in shark attack at San Diego beach
Associated Press
April 25, 2008 at 1:00 PM EDT
SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — A shark attacked and killed a swimmer who was training in the ocean off San Diego County Friday with a group of local triathletes, authorities said.

To read more click here.

I don't usually comment on news items like this here but for some reason I feel the need to say a few words about this.

First off, I have to express my deepest sympathies to his friends and family. This is a terrible loss for them.

Secondly, his friends who pulled him to shore knowing there was a shark in the area are absolute heros.

Finally, shark attacks always receive vast amounts of sensational news coverage but they are remarkably rare. Your life is in far greater danger driving to the ocean than it is swimming it. And once you're in the ocean, motor boats are a far, far great greater threat to life and limb than creatures of the deep (I lived in the Okanagan and figured this out pretty quickly).

What makes these stories news worthy is that they are rare. Deaths per year from shark attacks worldwide are in the single digits. If triathlete had been hit by a car and killed on the road leading to the beach, it would not have garnered the same attention as, sadly, that kind of loss of life is far too common.

Again, I'm not sure why I feel the need to comment on this. Maybe because I know non-triathlete friends and colleagues will bring this up, "Hey, did you hear about the triathlete in California?" I guess they ask because I am a triathlete and have a connection to the sport and possibly an insight into what happened, but sometimes I detect a glint in their eye and intuit (rightly or wrongly) that they're trying to scare me or prove what I am doing is dangerous.

I'm also sad, I never met the man or the people he trains with but we're still part of the same community and I know how devasting such a loss would be for my club.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pre-Race Prep

In just over a week I'll be doing my first tri of the season - Wildflower Triathlon in sunny (I hope!) California. I'm not feeling ready for a race, but I'm not sure if I ever do at this point in the year so I'm probably doing okay.

I just read a great course review for the race, gives me a good idea of what I'm getting into and a chance to mentally prepare. It also brings me to the realization I should have thrown more hills into my training prior to now!

My big concerns are the crowds and, as my Grandmother once said, "all the other idiots on the road." I don't think I'm much of a danger to others (people who know me may beg to differ) but I'm not sure if my swimming and bike handling skills are strong enough to avoid clueless people in my way. That said, it can't possibly be more crowded or more annoying than the Sun Run, with the possible exception of that my chances of getting kicked in the head are significantly higher.

Time Trials

This week is "recovery" week which, as we all know, means time trials.

My masters swim is even in on the act, although Paul calls it benchmark day. We did the usual set and I was about where I should be. Nothing stunning but some decent times:

25m backstroke (this is usually fly but I've hurt my left shoulder/neck and opted out) - 29 seconds.

3 x 100m free on 60s rest
1 - 1:42.2
2 - 1:40
3 - 1:41

50m kick board - 63s

3 x 100m free on 90s rest
1 - 1:40
2 - 1:38
3 - 1:41

25m ALL OUT - 21.2 s

Not my fastest ever but I'm happy getting under 1:40 for 100m.

Last night was our first real bike TT, we've done TT's on the trainer but it's just not the same as doing it outside. It was a bit of a gong show getting started, unfortunately I was in uber-impatient mode so I was a bit wired at the start (I am so, sooo far away from my days of living on "ultimate time"!). At least I'm one of the slower bikers in the group so I was the sixth person to go.

I didn't feel my legs were into it on the way out, it was only after the turn at UBC Hill Elementary that I really felt I was in the groove. The fast riders started passing me at this point but I managed to catch a few and I played leapfrog with Amy and Craig for the last 5km. My messed up shoulder/neck didn't impair me too much as I didn't need to shoulder check that much.

My final time was 29:41, which may well be a PR, but I have to dig up my previous times to figure that out.

Tonight is some sort of run time trial, I haven't actually checked the schedule yet however so I'm not entirely sure of the details. I'm far more concerned with the debut of my compression socks than with what we'll actually be doing! I think I need to find some early 80's style satin short shorts to really complete the look (if I'm going to look like a dork I might as well play it up!) - anyone know where I can pick up a pair?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things the annoyed me about the Sun Run

  • I spent 30 minutes warming up then 35 minutes cooling back down while waiting to start
  • Apparently the overwhelming majority of the runners in the 45-49 pace group either lied or grossly overestimated their 10km time as I spent the entire 10,000m dogding through and around people
  • The crowding never let up, there were so many frickin' people I couldn't even sprint for the finish
  • I was only on pace for the 9th km
  • Going 4:31 for the last km means I obviously did something wacko with my pacing - although my HR hit 204 at this point so this was obviously not a sustainable pace.

My pace by kilometer:
1 - 5:18
2 - 5:39
3 - 5:36
4 - 5:11
5&6 - 10:22
7 - 5:06
8 - 5:03
9 - 4:58
10 - 4:31

Overall time 51:46.

Despit the above rant, I'm not as frustrated as I would have expected at missing my goal, I'm trying to figure out the take-away lessons from this. I'll work through that on my ride home (this is posted from work [conveniently located 1 block for the start line] while I chow down on a bagel and coffee).

Pre Run

I like to get up early on race morning, give myself time to have a decent breakfast and digest, hydrate, let the coffee do its work, get myself organized, deal with any last minute snags that come up. I'm not the most organized person in the world so I make up for it by giving myself lots of time to get things figured out.

The downside of this system is that I often end up with lots of spare time and the caffeine, having done it's work on my digestive system, combined with the sugar in the Gatorade, which I'm drinking to top up my electrolytes, makes me a little jumpy. sometimes there are pre-race nerves in there too! On top of that I'm a little paranoid and mildly OCD so I tend to start going over the race details and walking around the house in ever faster and tighter circles. If I'm not careful I find some other outlet for my energy, like reorganizing my bookcase, and end up feeling that I'm required to finish that and suddenly finding that I'm running late.

For a triathlon I can usually calm myself down by going through my packing list and ensuring I have everything,. There's a lot of stuff to bring to a tri and I'm fairly particular about how I pack it and how I set up my transition so I can get absorbed in that and work off the pre-race jitters. Call it my little OCD pre-race ritual

That doesn't work so well before a run, however. After getting dressed the list of stuff to bring isn't really long enough to achieve much: Shoes? Check. Hat? Check.

On that note I'm going to head out. The plan is to bike to work, which is a block from the start line, so that I can leave my gear there, use the bathrooms and generally have an island of calm before heading out into the sea of people. I might get some filing done while I'm at it!

Wish me luck!

PS - Where's my hat?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It’s all about the elbows

You wouldn’t think elbows are that important for swimming. Like most sharp and pointy objects, they don’t provide much propulsion. Unlike thighs or shoulders, they aren’t laden with big muscles to power you through the water. Aside from using them as weapons in crowded swim starts they wouldn’t seem to have much utility in the water, you’d think it would logical to focus on body parts like hands or feet or glutes.

It turns out, however, that my swimming issues right now are all about the elbows, specifically the misuse thereof. In the underwater portion of my stroke (technically two distinct parts, the "catch" and the "pull") I drop my elbow too soon or, in the case of my left arm, seem to forget about it entirely. From the time my hand enters the water to where it drops to point to the bottom of the pool (the catch), my elbow should be at or near the surface. I’m trying to correct this and I can tell you definitively that keeping your elbows up uses a lot more muscles, ones that I’m obviously not used to using as they’ve been seriously fatigued and sore at the end of my recent workouts.

In the out of the water portion of my stroke (the recovery) I lead with my hand, not my elbow, which throws off my body positioning, uses more energy and could also lead to rotator cuff issues. All through the drill set this morning I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong but when Paul threw in a length of finger tip drag in the main set everything clicked. What he was seeing was that my hand wasn’t point to the back wall on my recovery, focusing on that did nothing for my stroke but in the FTP length I realized when I had to pull my elbow forward to get my hand in the right place everything clicked into place.

These may seem like minutia, but in the water the devil is in the details – every little thing you do wrong has a huge impact on your efficiency and, more importantly, your speed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sun Running

After four plus years of being a runner in this city I finally did something that all Vancouver runners eventually must do - I signed up for the Sun Run.

I've been avoiding it for two reasons:

  1. I don't like crowds
  2. I can't stand having people in my way

Sunday should be interesting!

I didn't have a sudden change of heart and desire to lose myself in the crowd, I signed up 'cuz the coach told me to. I didn't do it willingly, I offered up some serious argument and heavy sarcasm before acquiescing.

Now that I've had some time to deal with the fact that I'm doing the race, I'm actually starting to look forward to it (just don't tell Alan!). I'm going for an aggressive time - a one minute PR, you'll get the full report here as to how it goes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sports Weekend

There are two big events going on in the world of sports this weekend, neither of which has anything to do with hoops, balls, pucks, nets or, unfortunately, live TV coverage

First off there's Ironman Arizona, I'm always a sucker for a good IM race. One of the blogs I've been following, Jonnyo World, is written by a pro triathlete who's competing in IMAZ so I have someone to cheer for. Happily the Ironmanlive site usually has reasonably decent coverage. If I figure out the time difference I may actually manage to catch the swim coverage (I said this for the past three IM's I tried to watch and have yet to be successful).

The second race is the London Marathon. I haven't been a marathon enthusiast until the past few years when I actually got to know some marathoners. It also helps that the guys at The Science of Sport, one of my current fave blogs, have dedicated a lot of space to race predictions and general hype for London. Apparently this is one of the big pre-olympics marathons so most of the top names will be there (as opposed to non-olympic years, when most of the top names will be there).

There is the option for Americans to watch the coverage live online but:

  1. as I can't actually figure out when the race starts this may be difficult. According to the web countdown clock it starts at 9:00am our time, therefore 5pm in the UK. That doesn't make sense to me.
  2. it's likely to actually start about midnight Saturday my time, I'll be in bed.

On the topic of big races, I signed up for the Sun Run for the first time ever. I'm not good with crowds or having people in my way so it should be a fun day! Okay, I may have become reconciled with the idea and I may actually be looking forward to the race, just don't tell my coach, I'm still playing up the reluctant athlete who's grudgingly following coach's orders. I've never done a stand alone 10km when I'm in good running shape so I don't really know what I can do, it should be an interesting day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Inspiring from Macca

Someone on the Slowtwitch forum posted a link to a forum post by Chris McCormack, aka "Macca". His career in point form, I thought it was pretty cool:

* First heard of triathlon in 1986 when my Friend Clinton barter started doing them.
* First watched a triathlon on TV in 1987 when Dave Scott beat Mark Allen in the Hawaii Ironman. My first thought was wow, that looks really cool.
*My entire life i wanted to be a Marathon Champion like Deek and Moneghetti.

For the full post, click here and scroll down to post #6 by cjmacca.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Slowtwitch Article on Adult Swimmers

Slowtwitch has just started a series asking top swim coaches about common errors adult swimmers make.

I liked Tim Sheeper's article, and not just because he ignored the intent of the series! He has four behaviours "late in life" swimmers should develop:

  • Perseverance
  • Confidence
  • Passion
  • Play
Click here for the full article.

What I've Been Reading

So I haven't posted much recently. I actually started a post on why I'm not posting but I never got around to posting it.

Nothing's wrong, in fact training has been great. It's just that training has become part of my regular routine, up there with brushing my teeth and catching the bus to work, so it doesn't feel terribly exceptional or blog-worthy.

I haven't been posting much but I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. I set up a google reader account so I can follow a number of blogs - mostly triathlon but some other stuff in there too (gotta try to be a well-rounded individual!). As that's what currently turning my crank I thought I'd link some of the articles and posts that are catching my eye. Maybe I'll throw in a training update or two while I'm at it.