Preparation for St. Anthony’s Triathlon

Posted by on April 9, 2009 in Training

I’ve been away from this blog for a while as I’ve been focused on moving from the base training phase to some speed work.  Overall, I’d say that things went well this winter and that I logged in a fair amout of miles in all three disciplines, but I’m always critical of myself for not having done more.  Granted, this is going to be a short-course season for me with nothing bigger than the Olympic distance in the triathlon sphere, but such is the psyche of the over-achieving nature of most triathletes.

I’m generally feeling good about the swim.  I competed in my first swim meet in 6 years last month and did fairly well, scoring a silver medal in my age group in the 50 yard freestyle.  I later competed in a 1,000 yard freestyle event and again earned a silver medal, but only because there were only two people in my age group.  Nonetheless, I was pleased with my performance because I was able to sustain a major effort for a long period of time and eclipsed my best training time by two minutes.  Lastly, I competed in the 100 yard freestyle and earned a bronze medal, a surprise given how tired my arms were following the 1,000 yard event.

The experience was a good one as it provided much needed confidence to sustain a strong effort over a longer distance, albeit with turns every 25 yards.  In an open water event, there isn’t much transferability in terms of swim times, but psychologically, knowing that I can swim hard for long stretches (like between buoys) will definitely pay huge dividends and hopefully result in a better swim time.

On the bike, because of a tough winter weather-wise, most of my training miles have been on the indoor trainer in front of my TV.  I put in decent efforts on most days, but it has admittedly been difficult to really push myself.  I’ve tried to get outdoors as much as possible with the improved weather and I’m logging in miles as often as possible.  Thanks to lots of out-of-the-saddle efforts indoors, my climbing strength seems to be fairly good and with intentions to ride River Road in NJ (adjacent to the Hudson and the Palisades Parkway), I’ll get in a lot more climbing to get even stronger.

I haven’t yet ridden my triathlon bike outdoors except for the March Madness Biathlon as I’ve instead opted to work on fitness while riding my road bike.  I felt very little fatigue in a recent 40 miler and found it easy to lock into the right cadence with nearly every undulation in the road.  I’m still training on the trainer indoors 1 or 2 times a week to hone in on single-leg drills and other technical aspects, but nothing can replace outdoor riding.  I’ll ride the tri bike outdoors next week in preparation for St. Anthony’s.

I feel as if I’m on the cusp of regaining some of the confidence that I’ve enjoyed in past years, and I can’t wait to get out on the road with new friends or strangers and show that I can ride.  Yes, it’s part of the ego strain but it is a great driver to build stamina and strength.  Knowing that I can dial up a killer effort on the bike will definitely have a ton of positive effects on my races this season.

With the run, I’ve been surprised.  I remember my first training runs of the season back in December, and how a simple 4 miler felt so alien and difficult.  Nowadays, I find that I have to forcefully slow myself down from running at race pace.  I’m a data nerd and track many data elements in training, so I’ve seen how my pace times have come down steadily over the course of this training season.  It feels sooooo good!

A couple of nights ago, I decided to do a brick workout consisting of a 45 minute indoor bike session followed by a race-pace 2 mile run.  The bike session was made up of 2o minutes of warmups and drills, followed by 10 minutes out of the saddle at a low cadence, followed then by 5 sets of race pace in aero position for two minutes and an easy pace for one minute.  I set up my run gear next to the front door and as soon as the bike session ended, I got changed as fast as I could and headed outdoors (took about 90 seconds).  Once on the street, I exploded into a torrid pace right away and by the end of the first mile, the watch incredibly reflected a pace of 7:10.  For me, that’s huge!  The second and final mile was 7:21 and that was at a comfortable pace as I purposely slowed down to a pace that I could sustain for another 4 miles (as if within a 10k context).  Naturally, that experience did wonders for my confidence and while I’m fully cognizant that race day may present other variables or fatigue that will prevent this kind of repeat, I demonstrated that the potential is there to do quite well… and it’ll be up to me to simply do it.

The next race, as stated in the title of this post, is St. Anthony’s on April 26th.  I’m headed down there with one of the greatest friends I have, Fernando.  He claims to be underprepared (hey, we all are; it’s only April!), but he’s such a natural that he’ll pull out a good effort and do great.  In the interim, I’ve got a weekend ahead of me that includes great training.  I’ll be in Philly on Saturday and will miss a 10k running race in Central Park, so I’ll instead run a simulated 10k race of my own in PA complete with mile markers.  Later in the day, I’ll be mountain biking.  That’ll just be for fun (call me crazy).  On Sunday, I’ll do another long-ish bike ride with the goal of again doing 40 or more miles.  Next week, training will include a straight 1,500 yard swim in my wetsuit to simulate the race, and some speedwork on the bike and run.

The following week, I’ll likely do shorter workouts and taper in advance of the race.  I figure that it’s a good strategy.  No matter whether it is or isn’t, I’m excited to see how I fare in Florida.  It’s not my “A” race, but will be a good way to measure my progress while also identifying areas of improvement.  And, it’ll be one more check on my must-do list of races.


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