Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Consultation

So the big news really started happening around mid-May.  Looking back now I can see that there was lots of work stress while I was at IBM and other non-exercise related factors that were causing me stress and anxiety, and it felt like my workouts were starting to fall short. I felt like I was putting in too much work and seeing declining performances and may be overtraining but really I had no idea.  I needed to call in some big guns to get some help.

Of course, I ended up changing jobs, refinancing the house, camping, losing my grandmother, and all that other stuff that happened on Freaky Friday.  After the dust settled, I did feel better about a lot of things.  Life stress has a big impact on workout stress; one is good the other is bad but they both take recovery time.  It's easier to control the workout load if the life stress is low.

After some extensive research I found a coaching service that I really liked with proven results on the race course and with a nutrition plan.  QT2 Systems has the Core Diet plan that goes along with their triathlon coaching program. Their coaches are incredibly experienced professionals, and one of the packages they offer is a consultation with a weekly coaching package that was just what I needed. 

As a self-coached athlete writing my own training plans, I have no way to validate my results.  My approach to this Ironman training plan was to take a volume approach building the mileage long a slowly over the 24 weeks of warmup and base phase so that in the 12 week build phase I could add power and speed, and keep a really high volume to give me the best time possible on race day.

After looking over their coaches, Doug Maclean was the guy for me.  He's a pro triathlete who still makes a living from coaching. Very experienced at Ironman racing and coaching everyday guys and kona qualifiers, I knew he could give me the validation and information that I needed.  I saved up the cash and got the consultation with 12 weeks of coaching so that he could write my build phase training plan.

What I got seriously exceeded my expectations.  I had some buyers remorse after I bought the service, but after I saw the plan and had the consultation I was completely blown away. 

This guy barely plays the same sport we do. I mean he took 7th place overall at Lake Placid last weekend with a 5:01 bike split on the hardest bike course in the Ironman circuit, and followed it with a 3:08 marathon.  Give me a break. I have to think the training plan that he wrote for me follows some of the same techniques that he uses to get those kind of results.

I was so blown away by the plan and picking up the new techniques like Tabatas and BST workouts, the layout of when to do strength and force style workouts, and how to do the easy stuff.  It's a completely different approach. I can already tell a huge difference in my speed and power thresholds.

In the consultation we went over the plan, how to test what I had done in the base phase, nutrition, race weight, and race day strategies. Again he introduced me to a completely new way to approach the workouts and the sport as a whole. 

After 6 years in triathlon, it's very unusual for me to find something new. I had a word doc open taking notes the whole time during the consultation. I totally did not expect to learn that much new information about triathlon. 

Turns out, I've been too worried about how other people do.  Treat triathlon like an individual time trial. Go out and run your race. It doesn't matter how many people pass you or where you place. If you feel good, race strong, and turn in a performance you can be proud of then it's a good race.  Still, I have to admit I feel really good when I finish in the top third of my age group or top third overall. So Doug really knows the importance of the mental approach to the game and how that can influence our performance.  Very cool.

The other concept that I've really taken to heart is the Durability Limiter.  Age groupers like me can push a given speed for a mile, or 100 yards, or 5k. The overall goal of a training plan is to push through that durability limiter and expand it to hold our "5k pace" for the entire marathon.  Obviously, this takes years to achieve. But if I can drop my 5k pace, or hold that hard line for an extra half a mile in this mid-week workout that's how we increase that threshold.  The mental approach to extending durability can have a real influence, even on my races.

The Core Diet is a great nutrition plan, and there isn't a good way that I can explain it.  I like it, I'm following it, and it's working really well.  If you want the details you have to use the coaching service. I thought during the base phase I would take the last 8 lbs off, but didn't get my weight down under 180 until after I started using the core plan. I thought my workouts were going to suffer, but they got harder and the muscles responded.  It's been great.

So I got the help that I needed and now have confidence for days.  Doug wrote an amazing plan, with a Build 1, Build 2, Peak and Taper leading up to B2B.  Tomorrow's post will be on how I made it through week 1 and what I thought about the workouts.  It led up to the great race I had at Buckhorn last weekend!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Buckhorn, take three

This year's Battle at Buckhorn sprint triathlon was once again fantastic.  This is the first time that I've done a race three times.  It is my favorite local sprint here, and always a good time.

This year I got up at my new normal workout time 5:30 am and hit the road after breakfast.  The race is at Buckhorn Lake in Wilson, NC which is almost an hour's drive east of Raleigh.  The lake is the water reservoir for the town of Wilson, and right next to a farm with Longhorn Cattle.

Before the race. It was a beautiful day, low 70's and sunny.  Couldn't ask for anything nicer for July in the deep south!  I got my transition area setup, then I actually did a warmup.  I ran for about 10 minutes, got in the lake for a warmup swim, then did some yoga by the lakeside.  Got into the prerace meeting and it was go time.

Swim 750 meters: 15:47, 7/21 age group, 39/118 men, 2:06/100 pace
This was a deep water start and all of the men started at the same time.  I ended up talking to my buddy Scottie some in the water, and ended up farther back than I should have been.  So when the gun kicked off I found myself a bit back in the crowd.  Soon enough there was some open water, and I shot through there in a hurry.

Normally, an open water start means you push the speed hard to get through the crowd, and the heart rate goes through the roof and you get short of breath quickly.  Then after about 200 yards the crowd thins out and you settle into a rhythm; that's when the heart rate comes back down and you get your breathing under control.  Turns out, when you do a proper warmup, that doesn't happen. I hit the speed button, blew past dozens of other men to get into open water, and hit the first turn buoy before I knew what happened. No heart rate spike, no breathing problems.  Just sight into open water and hang on.  Pretty cool stuff.

Between the two turn buoys it felt like there was a current, but I know it's a small lake so there wasn't really one there.  It just felt tougher.  Then going back into the boat ramp for the finish happened pretty quickly.  I felt really good about the whole swim and was ready to roll when I got out of the water.

T1: 1:10
Goal for transition times is under 90 seconds so this one did not disappoint. Off with the swim gear, on with the socks, bike shoes, and helmet and get out of there. #winning!

Bike 17 miles: 53:21, 19.1 mph, 10/21 age group, 58/118 men
I love riding Roberta east of Raleigh.  In that general direction, you get flat areas and fast courses, and can find some hills to break it up, but it's not close enough to the coast to make the wind problematic. This 17 mile bike course is one of my favorites out there, and it did not disappoint.  It was nice and fast, with some challenging parts.  There was one pretty good climb in mile 12 that I always forget about.  And 17 miles is just long enough to really fatigue the legs on that terrain. 

I came, I rode, I conquered. It was fantastic.

T2: 28 seconds!
Hells to the yea.  Daddy got quick in T2.

Run 5k: 23:36, 7:37/mile pace, 7/21 age group, 39/118 overall men
This run course is two laps on the same two roads, so it gets a little crowded when I'm on the second lap and the majority of the field is on the first or second lap and you get a lot of different paces out there.  But the course itself is so flat, and you're not completely exhausted from the bike, it's just fun.  That's one of my favorite 5k courses outside of Raleigh.  I cramped up a bit on the second lap and it cost me about a minute in the end.  Plus the heat started to come out on the second lap.  I was consistent with my cadence and speed the whole time I was running, and felt like I really put a good effort out there.  Happy times.

Finish: 1:34:26, 7/21 age group, 42/118 men
I'm always happy when I come in top third overall or in my age group.  The top 10 overall had the top 3 podium spots and the top 3 spots in my age group, so it was incredibly competitive.  Still think I could have done better on the bike if I was properly tapered, and my right foot has a niggle that I've been fighting for about a week when running, so that didn't help. But it was an absolutely beautiful day and I was grateful to God and my family that I was able to be out there competing and performing my best at my chosen sport.  Lots of people don't have the opportunity, support, or ability to do these crazy multisport races; I'm just glad to know this kind of joy:

After.  Note the sweat that wasn't there before. Now I glisten. But at least there's a great view of the lake, TA, and the beautiful day.

Sunny and confused

Notice the bouncy castle in the background for the kids

Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't call him old, call him Incredible!

John Pendergrass contacted me about helping him promote his book, and this is the kind of story that I jumped on with passion.  John started running triathlons at age 60, and ended up completing 6 ironman races on 6 different continents, all after age 60.  This book is solid inspiration with all of the struggles and challenges normally faced by someone that age trying to do this crazy stuff.

image from the amazon page

Against the Odds is a fantastic retelling of the challenges of Ironman. John has to handle a lot of logistics.  When you start with the premise of doing an ironman on six different continents you know it's not going to be easy. Throw on top of that maintaining an active physicians practice and his age and the task becomes monumental.

The really refreshing part of this book is the candidness that Dr Pendergrass approaches the reader with.  His writing makes him seem very approachable, like anybody you would happen to talk to at any other race. 

Any 6 time Ironman is going to end up with plenty of stories to tell.  The way they unfold in here will keep you guessing.  From seeing the Great Wall in China to Brazil and Switzerland, New Zealand and South Africa, it always seems to come together.  And when it comes together at the finish line you know that takes something special.  I won't spoil what happens in China, but it's pretty intense.

Seriously, you need to add this one to the Amazon wish list or order a copy today.  It's a great read!  It's not a "how to train for Ironman" book, but more of a "how I really did it" book.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Here comes the Boom!

I made it through the base phase, and now I'm done training to train.  It's time to train for training HARD!

This was week 24 of my training plan.  The 2 week warmup and 22 week build phase are totally finished off after this.  That's why I took sunday as an additional rest day; the build phase started 7/22 so I grabbed the rest while I could.

The midweek stuff ended up being 100 miles on the bike, 4 miles in the pool, and 13 miles running.  Saturday had the Triangle Triathlon before I took the kids to the pool and Bigun and I volunteered at a Cowboy Shooting event.  They call it Cowboy Mounted Shooting, but whatevs.  It was a great way to finish off a fun week.  I got in 10.75 hours of training on the week.  It was a great way to end the base phase.

This means that the build phase started this past Monday.  I've got a special training plan for my build phase, and it warrants a separate post.  Seriously cool stuff.

After the event, we got our picture taken with one of the cowboys!

We put the kids in horse jail as a joke

Bigun with a horse in the stable

The Kids in the Tribe with a rodeo clown
The third year of the Indian Princess program is all about charitable giving and volunteering.  This event raised over $3000 for the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and we helped by collecting donations at the door and welcoming the guests. It was a really cool event.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday

The kids are back in school! They started first and third grade recently.  First day of school pics:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Triangle Triathlon 2013

Every year I end up racing in Harris Lake County Park, and every year I swear it's going to be the last time I race in Harris Lake County Park.  It's the lakewater that cools down the nuclear reactors at our local power plant, so the water is usually warmer than most others in the area.  Racing when it's been over 90* and raining for the last few weeks makes it really "special".

The Triangle Triathlon put out a pretty big field this year.  My AAA Triathlon Team sponsors the NCTS series, so we're all required to do one SetupEvents race each year. Triangle is the only local race in the series, so if I didn't head out to Harris Lake I'd have to do one of the Charlotte or SC races and they didn't fit into the calendar.  Triangle used to be run at Crabtree state park, which is one of the dirtier lakes you will ever swim in.  So Harris is a nice upgrade.

Before, getting my TA setup

Ready to race!  I guess.

Going into the swim start

We got up early (for Kelley - it's the normal time I get up for morning workouts) and had no trouble getting out there. It's a long walk from where you have to park.  I got into the transition area with plenty of time and got all of my stuff setup.  I got in the port-a-let line at the swim start and literally walked straight out of there into the water for my race to begin.  I did see some local friends on the way.

Swim: 750m 14:59, 12/49 age group
I saw a friend Jason once we all got in the water, and my age group was the second to start, after the elites.  Jason and I got to talking so I didn't exactly position myself well enough and ended up caught in a little bit of traffic. I found my stroke, found some open water, found some debris, found some really warm spots, eventually found the swim exit.
Hanging with Jason early.  His brother Troy also raced.

Pretty big age group, and a beautiful day to be in the water

And we're off! Crap, I'm too far back.

that's me in the green cap

This is exactly what the swim coaches try to correct! Low arm angle, my elbow should be high up and the forearm down in a more relaxed position.  damnit! A 15 minute swim and I'm already breaking form.

I look like "The Thing From The Black Lagoon"

Now I look like "The Drunk Thing From The Black Lagoon"

Where's transition?

T1: 2:59 23/49 ag
This included a really long run up a hill and around this tremendous TA.  Socks on, bike shoes on, helmet on, ride.

they had trouble with the waving man

that seems excessive

too long!  grab it and go! I need new bike shoes and an aero helmet.

Ready to roll


Bike 17.5 miles: 55:31, 18.9 mph, 26/49 ag
People rave about this bike course.  It is one of the nicer courses around, with a few decent climbs and some nice descents.  I was really pleased at how much time I was able to spend in my biggest gear and the whole thing was in the big chainring. And most years an 18.9 mph speed would be great, but this year I should be over 20.  So close!

The strangest thing that happened was right after I got out of the park and back onto the roads.  They were closed to traffic, but there were still shuttle busses going to the remote parking lot and it seemed like one was chasing me down on that road.  My buddy Brian said the same thing, he thought it was too close while he was still inside of the park.

This race attracts the fastest bikers out there, and this area has a lot of fast bikers and really fast runners.  I got passed a lot on the bike.  This is also one of the larger local races, with upwards of 600 people out there.  I would catch a break sometimes when a group of riders would fly by me, then have a few minutes of peace before the fast bikers from the next swim wave all came by me. I went form 12th place to 26th place in my own age group on the bike alone, and still got passed by just as many people from other age groups.  It was a bit disheartening. My biggest goal was to stay ahead of Brian, and he passed me about halfway through the bike.  His age group started 4 minutes after  mine did so I had a head start.  He ended up beating me by 10 minutes.

This is a great shot
T2: 1:09, 6/49 ag
Finally I nailed something. Running shoes on, grab the other stuff and get out of there.

Run 5k: 24:08, 7:47 m/m pace, 23/49 ag
I hate running at Harris Lake. It goes through the parking lot and onto a trail, double track with lots of gravel and rocks. Hills in all the wrong places, and enough trees to keep any breeze at bay while providing not much shade at all. 

I was sluggish.  Couldn't get my legs into a good rhythm, it was hot and I was pouring water over my head to try and cool down and knock the bugs off.  The gnats in the woods were pretty awful too. 

Finish: 1:38:45, 19/49 age group
The best part about this race (for you) is that Kelley took some more pics of the eye candy showing up at the finish line.

All of those black dots are gnats

Finally here I come

So glad that's over

Now it's ok to fall over dead

Done!  Happy day at the race

Check out those stupid bugs on my face!  Gross.

My buddy Brian photobombed this one. speedy bastard.

That mister was so nice.  Like having a cold outdoor shower.
I'm so glad this race is done! I finished ok, 19th out of 49 in my age group is still in the top half.  And I approached it like a hard training day to finish off the base phase of my training plan. I'm glad I got to go out and sing for the sponsors, and next year I'll be able to do more NC and SC races in the series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fun on the 4th

Yes I am a total loser and just now publishing what we did for the 4th of July.  Don't judge me I'm in the middle of ironman training.

We had an unusually social 4th of july!  Got a few cute pics of it too. Of course my favorite thing to do for a holiday is a nice long workout, but I actually only got in a run.  But luckily it was on the treadmill, and 12 seconds into my run my good friend Jessica showed up!  We talked and ran together for almost an hour.  I got in a nice easy 7 miles and since I'm usually running alone it made it so much nicer to have someone to chat with.

That 7 miler had to be followed by some of this:
Evil Genius didn't want to have her picture taken
relaxing in the hammock with the girls.  That naturally led to this:

falling asleep in the shade with a Justin Bieber pillow and EG.  Because everyone sleeps better with Bieber. 

Thursday July 4 marked the first time since Labor Day 2012 that I've gotten a paid holiday.  The biggest reason I changed jobs again is because IBM wouldn't convert me from a contractor to a full time employee until next spring.  I couldn't go through the Ironman and the holidays with no vacation days again, so I had to jump ship.  This was my first four day weekend in almost a year, and it was glorious. A couple more fun pics:

Bigun and Kaileigh, our niece

After the afternoon nap, we wanted to get together with some friends, so Kelley started making pizzas and people started showing up.  Kayte and Shawn and the kids came by, and beers were drank and laughs were had.  The kids had a blast, and we all had some amazing pizza.

Then later we went over to Gary and Jenny's place to shoot off fireworks and drink more beer.  Southern style.  I was enjoying the cheap stuff, as I tend to do on the summer holidays.  We blew some shit up, and it was fantastic.

The rest of the weekend was pretty normal.  Friday was a rest day so we just had some fun with the family.  And Saturday and sunday had the normal 70 mile ride and 15 mile run, respectively.  Ironman training was going strong and I got plenty of rest and relaxation.  For a first long weekend, I was really pleased.