Well the end of the 2013 season has cone and gone and I am currently coming up on the end of my second week of training for the 2014 season. Typically I would be planning out my swim, bike and run schedule for the next 4-5 months and determining which races will fit best, but instead I am going a different route. I have made the decision to step away from triathlons this year and focus on bike racing only. There are many things that played into this decision, but the main one is the fact that I took an assistant swimming coach position with my old high school which will limit the amount of time I have to train. That and I was burned out from trying to fit in all 3 sports into 7 days week after week. I felt like I never got a break because if I took off a day then I sacrificed significant training hours for that discipline. I didn't want the stress of that hanging over me and I also didn't want to be worn out and fatigued come January! I really enjoy riding my bike and the strategy and team atmosphere that is involved, more so than triathlons. I've even been very competitive in bike races given the limited training and having to fit in swimming and running on top of it. So this year I'm going to change things up and have fun trying something new. Not only am I excited but I'm also having fun again. I'm able to train with friends and teammates sometimes, which breaks up the monotony of training by yourself each day. So I've set up a training plan which I feel will make me a stronger rider and give me the ability to win some races this year and maybe push towards a Cat 3 upgrade. One thing for sure is that only 2 weeks in and I am thoroughly enjoying only having to worry about 1 sport and what I am going to do that day. Who knows, maybe I'll stick with this. All of this internal discussion with myself has gotten me to my first analysis of what I need to do to move forward and be successful next year...reviewing what did and didn't work this past season. This past season was only my second year bike racing and first year in Cat 4. I raced a total of 12 races throughout the year, but never once did I really concentrate on these races solely. Looking back over the beginning of the season I started strong with a 5th place finish at the Naval Yard Crit, but my results slowly went down from there. First and foremost I can determine that by July I was very tired physically and I think it showed in my racing. I always finished and stayed with the group, but when that surge came right before the finish I either couldn't hold on or was just not in the right position to be in contention. Secondly, I burned to many matches during the race. I had bad tactics and didn't hold wheels sometimes. I would also try and make an attack at wrong moments when the race wasn't all that hard. That on top of not staying towards the front and giving up positioning were certainly direct factors of my finishing places. Third, my ability to climb. I am not a climber, but thankfully around here there really are not races with long climbs, just mostly short punchy hills. I didn't pay enough attention to hill work this past year and that definitely hurt my strength as I would lose ground and could not accelerate with the group as easily. Fourth, my lack of workout specific training. To many times I found myself just going out for miles as opposed to concentrating on raising my FTP or working on my aerobic capacity. Simply "riding" is just not enough. I've already been implementing some of these things into my training and combined with my strength training I can already tell a difference. I'm excited to see what 2014 holds for me and how much I improve. I have some "A" races established and will be working towards those, but plan to hold a pretty heavy racing schedule throughout the whole season. Updates will certainly be more timely as I intend to destroy myself with Tempo rides in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Well it has certainly been some time since I have last posted here. An the past two months have sure been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Where do I start? Well first off, coming off an okay performance at the trip the wildwoods race, I was eager to get back into things and hone in my running to finish off the year strong at Atlantic City Tri. Things started off great and I had some confidence boosting track workouts 2 weeks out that gave me a whole new look at my running. I also finished up with a local road race that saw me go for a late break and completely blow to pieces. Watching riders fly by like your standing still in the last 200 meters is never a sight I enjoy seeing. After that things went downhill. The week after labor day we set out on a family vacation to Dewey Beach, DE. I had not been there in years and was looking forward to relaxing by the beach and getting in some run sessions by the ocean. That never quite panned out like I had planned and I ended up with extreme pain in my lower back and barely being able to walk. How did that happen you ask? Well your guess is as good as mine! To this day I can't pinpoint anything that I did to cause the pain. I was determined to still enjoy my vacation and suffered through the pain as to not hamper my wife's enjoyment. By the end of the week I had given up on racing AC and decided it was time to call my season officially over! I had really made up my mind about that a couple days into vacation since I decided to eat everything in sight and feel like a beached whale! But the food and fudge was so good that I couldn't resist, plus I had the rest of the winter to get ready for the 2014 season. After seeing the doctor as soon as we got home I was diagnosed with a pulled lower back muscle. Since we couldn't figure out how I did it, he assumed I was fatigued and my back had just had enough! I took about 3 weeks off from doing anything. Literally all I did was sleep, work, eat, drink, eat and drink some more. Its amazing how fast I can put on weight because by the end of the binge I had already gained 12 pounds! I was somewhat productive though during my break. I planned my goals for 2014 and what I thought I needed to accomplish in my training. I also was offered an assistant swimming coaching job at my old high school. I couldn't pass it up as I love coaching and the head coach is my best friend, so it will make it twice as fun. With this new information I know I had a lot of thinking to do as far as my triathlon season for next year would go. I wouldn't be able to put in the same hours over the winter since coaching will be added in there and I'm not about to sacrifice my relationship with my wife either. I did determine however though that although I was putting in 12 hours a week, 4-5 of those hours were "wasted". Now it's not like I was messing around, but I was doing a training session that really didn't have a purpose to it. One goal for me is to increase my FTP on the bike and I realized this past season I didn't do a lot of threshold workouts and really out myself in the pain cave like I should have. So this year I've decided to try more periodization for a training plan and also more quality and less quantity. This way I can fit in solid training, but not have to devote the same hours. Since the break I have been slowly getting back into things. No set structure yet, that starts Nov 4th, but I have been riding and running regularly. Although I have been struggling to determine if I want to focus more on cycling or continue with triathlons as a focus. The hardest part for me is fitting in all 3 sports. Things don't always work out as planned and I can't get to the pool or can make it to the group ride and I know that will only get harder with me coaching. I do know however that I could focus on cycling alone and really put forth a solid effort without much sacrifice. But will I miss triathlons? They will always be there if I want to come back, but how much will I lose of my running? So many decisions to be made over the next month or so! Any input is appreciated!
Monday, August 19, 2013
Swim: 7:13, 2nd Overall
Another new thing this year was the swim start, actually come to think of it this was completely different. Last year the ocean was very rough and it was a wave start, out and back swim. This year however they changed it to a time trial start (10 athletes at a time, self seeded) and you had to run 200 yards down the beach, swim out to the first turn bouy and then swim parallel until the second turn bouy which headed back to the beach where you started. I wanted to put myself in the first group, figuring these would be the fastest guys and I would know exactly where I was in the race. At the sound of the horn we dashed down the beach for the designated lifeguard stand. That run got your heart rate pumping and I needed to be careful not to push to much or I could have trouble recovering in the swim. Thankfully most of the guys realized this and it was a fairly easy jog. We hit the water and I immediately went to work. Rough ocean swims are in my favor and I thoroughly enjoy them, I know I'm sick. You weren't swimming far enough out to sea for it to be calm so it made for an interesting swim when all of a sudden a big wave would form and you would be up in the air then fall back down. Keeping form and sighting was crucial and I had quickly established a lead. Right before the turn bouy back to the beach another guy came up beside me and overtook me enough to grab a slight advantage. When I rounded back for the beach I caught a great wave and body surfed my way towards shore. This helped me emerge from the water side by side with the other guy and we headed up the beach together. He crossed the timing pad right in front of me and up the beach to T1 we went right on each others heels.
Bike: 25:31 (23.6 mph), 3rd Overall
The new bike course I knew would be fast and with a slight head wind going out made for an opportunity to put in some time. I quickly took the lead on the bike and tried to settle in to a rythmn. The course was fast and with a couple 90 degree turns, but since we were the first ones on the course you had no worries of navigating through a field of bikers. About 3 miles in the guy I exited the water with came around, so I knew he was using me to pace and I decided to do the same thing. No use and hurting myself trying to gain a few extra seconds if he had the same ability I did. Fast swimmer, fast biker, I figured his run would be on par with mine and it would turn into the Dave Scott and Mark Allen Kona race where they did the whole thing side by side. Right after the turn around I made the pass around him and we had a slight tailwind going back to T2. There were a couple riders close to us but no one that was closing in fast and they had a minute or so to make up. In my mind I was in the perfect position. On this 5k course making up a minute or more would be tough, especially if I could put in more time on the bike, every little bit counted. After a couple miles I was re-passed and the back and forth we were doing was more of working together than really racing each other. 2 miles before the finish I made the finish pass by him and tried to up the pace. I thought I could maybe put some more hurt into his legs and force him to work harder than he wanted, if he didn't keep up I could gain some time for the run. Heading into to T2 we dismounted together and looked liked it was going to come down to the run.
Run: 19:30 (6:30/mile), 12th Overall
Here is where it all came crashing down! I had no idea how good of a runner this guy was, but as soon as we hit the sand he took off. He continued to look over his shoulder for me so I thought maybe he was hurting and if I kept him in sight I would have a chance of running him down on the boardwalk. The good news was that this year the sand was much harder so it made running that much easier. The first 1.5 miles was up the beach followed by the second half on the boardwalk back to the finish line. I don't wear a watch (thinking of changing this strategy for next year) so I tried to keep a pace I felt was where I wanted to be. By the time we reached the boardwalk the leader was out of sight and my hopes of catching him were fading fast. Shortly after mile 2 another runner came up behind me. I stayed with him, but he put in a little surge and I couldn't respond. With half a mile left and 2nd place runner in sight I attempted to up the pace and run him down, but it wasn't meant to be and I settled for crossing the line in third, but after checking the results another athlete whom had started in a later wave out ran both of us and pushed me back to 4th overall.
4th Overall and 1st in the M25-29 age group with a time of 56:18. The winner was the same individual whom went back and forth with me for the entire race until the run where he ran a 17:17 5k (5:45ish/mile pace). There was just no way I could keep up with that, but this is the 2nd race at least where I have lost on the run. No reason with the shape I am in I shouldn't be able to run low 6 minute miles for a 5k. It's not that I didn't feel good just that I couldn't go any faster. After reviewing some race day photos it looks like my running form is just way off compared to others. I don't look like I am running efficiently and this could be my limiting factor. I certainly don't expect to run 5:45 miles but expect better than 6:30s without a doubt. All in all it was a great race and I was so proud to watch my wife cross the finish for her first 5k. Although she is in a lot of pain still and sore, I think it will give her the motivation to start actually training for another! For me, only one more race left this year, Atlantic City Triathlon, so hopefully I can get some things sorted out before then!
Monday, August 12, 2013
Swim- 1.5k; 9th overall; 20:06 Remember that head start we were supposed to get? Yeah that didn't happen as all of wave one started together. I am not complaining since it ended up being a clean start for me, but still the principle. The swim was actually wetsuit legal so I decided to wear my B70 full sleeve helix, but looking back on it I should have went with my sleeveless. The temperature was in the mid 70s and I started to overheat a little about half way into the swim. I had a great start and quickly caught onto the heels/hip of a lead swimmer (this was a goal of mine since I typically swim in no mans land). I was having a little trouble keeping contact and felt like I was pushing to hard to stay with them and by the second turn bouy the lead group of four had started to distance themselves. Great, once again I am swimming in no mans land all by myself, so much for that plan. About 500 yards from the finish I see a female swimmer pulling up beside me and I decide to use her as a draft. I have no shame in being beaten by a female and will use her to my advantage :) Other than having to fix my cap that almost fell off I came in with a fairly good swim and started to head up the ramp to T1. I had come out in 6th position and had some work to do on the bike, which was fine by me!
Bike- 40k; 11th Overall; 1:08:40 (21.7MPH) The bike course was completely closed to traffic and consisted of Oly athletes doing 2 loops. I like the loop course because you tend to know where you are place wise and how much work you need to do (will touch point on this later). As soon as you left the marina you immediately were going uphill and it was a small ring climb, although apparently not everyone though that because the guy in front of me was in the big ring and was really struggling to power his way up. Makes it even harder considering you just finished swimming, better luck next time. I quickly passed him and made my way out of the park and onto the main highway for my 2 loops. This course was a little harder than I thought it would be and looking back over my split and assessing how I felt, I don't think I had a good ride. My legs were hurting for the first half and I never felt like I could get into a rythmn. As I approached the first turnaround I saw I was in 5th place and about 2:40 down on the leader who is very strong. I figured I could pick off 2 guys or so in front and come off the bike 2nd or 3rd and I would be happy with that. Unfortunately by the time I reached the second turnaround I had caught no one nor had I really closed the gap. What is going on here and why did my legs feel like bricks?!?!?!? Remember how I said I like loop course because you can tell where you are? Yeah well I take that back for this race! They started the sprint race 30 minutes after the start of the Olympic and by the time we started lap 2 all hell had broken loose and sprint and oly athletes had littered the roads left, right and center. At this point I had no idea who was who and figured the best I could do was to keep pedaling hard and see what happens. On lap 2 I felt 100x better and started to pick up more speed, wish I could have done this on the first lap, where were you then legs?!?! I was passing all sorts of riders, but again I had no clue if any of them were individuals whom were ahead of me. I entered back into the park and prepared myself for the run where I was hoping to loose no ground, but also knew there were some fast runners charging.
Run- 10k; 26th Overall; 40:12 (6:29/mile avg) If you remember at my last race I battled stomach cramps real bad in the run and could not keep up any kind of pace, so I was a little worried, but tried to focus on my breathing to held subdue those cramps. I really wanted to be in the low 39 minutes for the run and always have a problem with starting out to fast, so I told myself keep it easy (6:30) for the first mile and build off of that. While when I hit mile 1 and looked at my watch I had ran a 6:07! Great Jason, way to screw that up. Oh well all I could do now was hold on and keep pushing. On the first lap of the run I could get a better idea of the Oly athletes that were ahead of me and was able to determine that there were only 2! Although they had a pretty good gap and I didn't see myself catching them, I was confident I could hold off anyone coming from behind. At the start of the second loop, the run course started to become clustered and since it was not a very wide path and athletes were coming both ways, it made it very difficult to pass. I found myself running into the grass just to get around some people. I paced off of a women who was running pretty fast and was doing the sprint, so for about a mile I stuck with her and then tried to pick up the pace and finish strong. When I crossed the finish line my tank definitely empty and I felt I had a pretty solid run. I thought that I had come in 3rd Overall and I even received a text message of the results comfirming that. I was excited, but after checking the results later that evening online I saw that I had come in 5th Overall with a time of 2:11:05. A little dissapointed but still feel pretty confident with the result. The only discipline I don't feel was up to par was the bike and I am not sure why. Typically this is a strong part for me, but I guess I just didn't have the legs for it that day. Oh well, take what I can from that race and move on to the next one. Which just so happens to be this Saturday in Wildwood, NJ! Thank goodness it is a sprint, since my legs are hurting a little today, but I really want to win this race as I did last year because I could use another beach chair!!!!! Back to Back Champion?!!? I like the tone of that. Right now it is all about recovery and carrying over fitness.
Things I learned from this race: I think this is something I should write about in every race since there will ALWAYS be something to take away. In this race I learned that I need to do more tempo runs in my workouts and I think I will incorporate those on the treadmill. I read an article recently about pros doing a lot of their tempo runs on a treadmill where they can control the pace and enviroment as opposed to outside where they are to many factors that cause pace change. I think this will help significantly with my running for next year, plus it takes a lot of mental toughness and forces me to run at an uncomfortable pace (note to self; future blog post about treadmill advantage and workouts). Also I believe I need to fine tune my cycling a little bit, but I plan to change that this off season with the addition of a powermeter.
Well that's all for now. I am looking forward to Wildwood this weekend!!
Friday, August 9, 2013
Monday, July 15, 2013
Well, Saturday the 13th was my first triathlon since Columbia in May. Since then I have been doing some cycling races and have been pretty consistent in my training. I have felt very confident in my cycling but not so much in my running. Seems like I don't perform as well in the heat and humidity which tends to put a damper on my pace. On to the race report...
This was the first time I was doing this race and it took place in Perryville, MD. It was only an hour and twenty minute drive from our house so we decided to wake up that morning and drive down. The course is not your typical Olympic distance course, as the swim is 1 mile, the bike is 27 miles and the run is only 5 miles. To me this seemed to play right into my strengths with the longer swim and bike and shorter run. Although I placed this as a 'B' race since I wanted to peak in August for two back to back Tris. This did happen to fall at the end of a recovery week so I was somewhat rested, but definitely no where near top form. I still felt I could be competitive and give everyone a run for their money!
Woke up around 3:30 the morning of to get my breakfast down and get ready to head out the door. As usual the wife is a tough one to get up that early in the morning so I have to promise to buy her coffee first thing (I always make sure to build that into the time requirements). Luckily a friend of ours decided to come with and spent the night so getting her up and ready was not as much as a tussle as some times. 4:30am and we set off with the first stop being Sheetz for coffee and then heading down the road. Perryville would certainly not be my first choice of places to live, it is a small town that sits along the Susquehanna River but there doesn't seem to be a lot around in that area. We safely arrived at the race and of course the first thing out of my wife's mouth is how early we are and how they have to wait around for hours till the start, haha I always know she will say this and it makes me laugh cause she likes to give me a hard time. Got my packet and timing chip and proceeded to set up my transition area. After readjusting the rack, since it was to low for 90% of the bikes, I was set up and headed back to the truck to relax legs for a little before heading out for an easy jog to loosen the legs. Drank some Gatorade and had a gel roughly 30 minutes before my start time.
The swim was kind of like a square or diamond shape with 3 right hand turn buoys and a little bit of current. When the whistle blew I set out pretty hard in order to get out in front and out of the way of everyone else. The swim to the first buoy was not to bad although I missed a group of 3 or 4 that got a gap and started to pull away. The hardest thing for me to remember or execute has been finding other lead swimmers to latch onto and catch a draft. After the first turn you were swimming slightly with the current which made for a good pace and same with the second buoy. For almost the whole swim I was in no mans land between the lead group and swimmers behind me. At the 3 buoy to turn for the exit the current not only hit me right in the face but so did the chop of the waves. This is typically where I would try to loosen up and get ready for the bike, but the effort to keep the pace increased due to the current. I didn't over exert myself and kept a steady pace. I exited the water 5th roughly a minute and a half behind the lead 3. In transition I passed the guy right in front of me and was quick to grab my bike.
Bike was a hilly and technical course with a pretty decent climb around mile 20. Out of transition I had quickly mounted my bike right behind the guy in 3rd and didn't take long to pass him. I didn't ride the course before hand so I had no idea what it was like other than looking at maps and elevation. The first 5 miles was basically uphill and I struggled to set into any kind of pace. After a hard swim it was tough to power through this section because I didn't want to go to hard and risk blowing up later, although going to easy would cause me time. I held a fairly strong pace and by about mile 8 I settled in and went to work. A guy on the side of the road gave me a time gap of 5 minutes, but I struggled to believe him since he was just walking his dog. At mile 14 there is a sharp left turn at the end of a fast descent and that is when I passed the guy in 2nd. Immediately after this section is a nice long 5 mile flat road along the river. I went into TT mode and tried to make up time on the guy in front. Hit mile 20 and the climb began. I spun up with no problems and back down the other side getting ready for the run. I still did not see the lead rider and knew he was a good athlete so I stayed in my race. Outside of having to overtake a car on a downhill section that was going to slow I had a great bike and came into T2 1:00-1:30 down. This meant I really gained no time on the leader and we ended up splitting about the same. I also had established a gap of about 1:30 to the guy behind me. If I could keep a good pace I could hold onto second and if the leader blew up I would have a chance for the W.
Well my plan and strategy got thrown out the window pretty damn quickly as soon as I started the run! Abdominal cramps like you wouldn't believe! They started immediately and were very sharp and painful that I could not push my run pace at all! Before I hit the 1 mile mark I had seriously considered stopping and calling it a day, but I decided to trek on at a pace I could endure. Shortly after the first water station a guy passed me, who was next to me in transition (nice guy), and told me latch on. I gave a little burst but the pain was to much and I had to back off again. The remaining part of the run was full of pain and getting passed one by one. When I reached the finish I was glad to be done and just wanted the pain to stop. It stayed with me for a bit and took me till I settled down to go away. Overall I ended up 8th and was still able to manage first in my age group. I'm happy with the race and realize not every race will be perfect but I would definitely be okay with never getting those cramps again!!!!!