Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weeks 32 & 33: Review

Weather last week was pretty rainy, so I ended up pushing most of my rides back to the end of the week. For the first half of the week, things were going great - I was picking up speed in the pool and got a good strong 30K speedwork session in on the bike. I also added an easy walk back into the routine to work my way back towards running.

Unfortunately, after my swim on Thursday I went to pick up some bottles for my water cooler and ended up tweaking my lower back. That, in turn took me out of commission for the remainder of the week and took a big chunk out of my mileage. In addition to the weekday rides that I had to miss, it also meant bowing out of the group ride on Saturday. Fortunately, it got better relatively quickly but I played it safe to avoid re-injuring it.

As I've noted here, I have had these sorts of problems on and off for a while now mostly thanks to a lack of strength in that area. Running and Cycling do wonders for the legs, and Swimming helps with the arms and upper back, but none of them do much at all for the muscles in between. Mix in the muscle imbalance in my legs, and starting back into an aggressive program and I'm likely more prone to this than under normal circumstances.

The only real solution is to add some strength training into the mix, but I've never been fond of that sort of workout so it's difficult to stick with it. I really need to find some type of exercise that I actually enjoy that helps with this, but so far I'm at a loss on that front. Aside from a general dislike of indoor exercise, I've always been more inclined to long continuous efforts rather than structured workouts. Unfortunately, strength training combines those two things pretty heavily so it makes things difficult for me :P

Week 32 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 4.1km (2.4mi)
Cycling: 32.7km (20.3mi)
Swimming: 7.3km (4.5mi)
Total: 44.1km (27.4mi)

Either way, this week I've been working my way back into the normal routine as the back is feeling a lot better. I avoided swimming for the week as it uses those muscles the most and didn't want to push my luck. Instead, I just focused on the bike and forced myself into doing a couple of strength training workouts. I also got back into walking by doing a 5K session on Thursday, and will likely continue this in the coming week.

Thankfully, by the end of the week I was feeling about 99% better so I managed to meet up with the group for a 90K ride up to Lake Simcoe and back. We met up early in the morning and headed over to Warden and then north until we hit water. This was a new route, and it turned out to be pretty much perfect - great scenery, very little traffic and the roads were in great condition. It is rides like this that remind me why I love riding so much, and getting back into this sort of trip felt great after missing so much of the summer so far!

Along the way, there were tonnes of other cyclists out including a number of large groups. On the way up to the lake, there was a group of four triathletes that were going about the same speed. We kept leapfrogging each other for a while (they were relatively slow climbers), and talked a few times when we got stopped by traffic lights along the way. As things flattened out a bit, we started riding with them to get a good draft train going. Unfortunately, the slower members of the group got dropped once we started flying so we had to back off and let them catch up.

Eventually, we ran into some more hills and ended up catching back up with them a little further up the road. We again got into a good strong train, but after a while I looked back and realized that I'd lost everyone so I broke off again and pulled over for a few minutes to let them catch up. At this point the remainder of the route was pretty much all downhill, so we took it easy until we got to the lake and took a short break by the waterfront.

The only downside to this route was the fact that there were absolutely no convenience stores along the route. For rides longer than about 80K, I usually stop somewhere near the half way point to grab some food to fuel the ride, so I don't generally bother bringing many calories. Fortunately, there was some sort of a baseball tournament just south of us so I bought a bottle of Gatorade to refuel a bit.

As it was a net downhill to the lake and the wind was coming from the south-west, the return trip was a good deal harder than the way up. About 8K from the lake I was loosing contact with the group again so I started soft-pedaling to let them catch up. One of the stronger riders caught up and noted that the others were going to meet up with us at the end, as they were struggling and we'd just end up pushing them harder than necessary if we held back. As such, we got into aero and went full bore into the wind.

It didn't take too long before I was on my own again, but given that we had agreed to go at our own pace I just stuck with it. A few more kilometers down the road a large peloton came by, so I accelerated and joined up with them. They were going at a pretty good clip and while I had to work harder than before to keep up, it was worth it to cover the ground faster. On the flats and descents it was relatively easy, but every time we hit a significant incline it took everything I had to stick with them. At this point the lack of fuel was starting to hit me as well, but I fought to stick with them until they turned off at Vivian Rd. and I was back on my own.

At this point I was slowing down a bit, as I still had a good amount of climbing to do and my energy levels were pretty drained at this point. I fought on until I got back to the final stretch, then took a short break to switch around my water bottles (at this point it had been about 30K since I put my feet down). As I was getting ready to start up again, the rider that I dropped earlier caught up and we rode the short trip back to the cars.

Either way, it ended up being a great ride all around. Good company for the first half of the ride, and then a good hard fight for the second half to build up strength/stamina. At some point I probably should look into joining a more formal group for some of my rides, as that stretch was probably the best workout I've gotten on a bike in a long time. Either way, aside from the nutrition snafu things went swimmingly so I'm looking forward to some longer/harder rides in the coming weeks!

Week 33 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 5.0km (3.1mi)
Cycling: 233.9km (145.3mi)
Swimming: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Total: 238.9km (148.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 37.5km (23.3mi)
Cycling: 2744.9km (1705.6mi)
Swimming: 169.1km (105.1mi)
Total: 3710.1km (2305.3mi)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 31: Review

Another great week back at training and the foot is still improving. I haven't gotten around to doing any walking sessions as of yet as there is still a bit of tightness, but I'm guessing that will loosen up when I start using it more. The motions that still exhibit that feeling are ones that aren't used in cycling or swimming, and I don't really know any stretches to address them. As such, doing a harder walk on it is likely to be the best medicine even if I have to limp a little while doing it.

On the cycling front, I managed to bring the bike in on Monday and get the derailleur looked at. The problem seems to be related to cable stretch, and riding it for the last few weeks seems to have finished off that process as their adjustments are holding this time. While I did end up missing one ride this week due to rain on Friday, I was able to squeeze in two 50K solo rides and one 70K ride with the group. All of them felt great and I'm slowly returning back to my previous speeds. Climbs are still a good deal slower, but the group ride was through Caledon East so I managed to get a good hill workout this time around.

To make the trip to the bike shop more worthwhile, I took the opportunity to swim down at the Olympium while they did the work. The bulkhead was in place so I still didn't get a chance to take advantage of the 50m length, it's certainly much more pleasant to swim in the cooler water rather than the soup they have up here. I'm routinely about 10s/100m faster in that pool because of it and I can hold it up for a lot longer. Unfortunately it's a long trip if I'm not down in the city, but when the opportunity does arise I'm eager to take advantage of it ;)

Week 31 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 188.8km (117.3mi)
Swimming: 6.4km (4.0mi)
Total: 195.2km (121.3mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 28.4km (17.6mi)
Cycling: 2478.3km (1539.9mi)
Swimming: 161.8km (100.5mi)
Total: 3427.1km (2129.5mi)

I really do have to give cyclists who ride down in the city a lot of credit after this week. When the shop finished the work I took a quick test lap around High Park to make sure everything was working as expected. To get there, I had to ride down a short stretch of Bloor St. and it's quite a different animal than riding out in the suburbs/country. Trying to make the left turn into the street where I parked took a lot more aggressive riding than I'd like, and this isn't even close to the complexity of the roads down in the core. I don't have a clue how anyone can do this on a regular basis ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Week 30: Review

Given last week's successes, I continued building up both swimming and cycling this week. Fortunately, everything is still going along smoothly and there are no signs of trouble. I'm still limping a little, so I held off on introducing a walking regime, however it's gotten a lot better over the course of this week (no pain, just stiff). I'll probably add that in sometime near the end of this week to test things out, and hopefully I'll be able to get back into running in the near future.

As things went so well on the bike, I slowly added some hills in the rides this week. On Saturday's group ride, the plan was for a relatively flat ride but we missed a turnaround and ended up on some larger hills. Thankfully, aside from tiring me out, there were no problems so I'm likely safe to reintroduce them into my normal routine. Naturally, I will still like avoid explicitly looking for hills to be safe, but I'm also not going to go out of my way to avoid them.

As far as my fitness goes, I'm okay on flat ground but I've obviously lost a lot of climbing strength. Before the injury I usually opened up a significant gap every time we hit some hills, but this time a couple of them were able to drop me pretty comfortably when things got steep. The aerobic engine is still there, but the leg strength has been eaten away so my ability to power through the hard stretches is compromised. With that said, part of the issue was likely that I was being very conservative with the gearing to play it safe (ie downshifting early to granny gears), so when I get my nerve back things should improve.

I'm hoping that adding hills back into my normal routine will help to remedy that, and I think I'll add in a bit more aggressive speedwork to help. Naturally, doing explicit hill work would be the best way to get that back, but I'm not sure that I want to try standing climbs in the big ring just yet as that can put different forces on the foot.

Week 30 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 162.4km (100.9mi)
Swimming: 6.5km (4.0mi)
Total: 168.9km (104.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 28.4km (17.6mi)
Cycling: 2289.5km (1422.6mi)
Swimming: 155.4km (96.6mi)
Total: 3231.9km (2008.2mi)

The weather for week 31 is looking a lot better, although it's going to get steamy again on Friday. We've got another group ride planned for Saturday, so I'm hoping to be a bit more competitive this time around ;) Either way, I'm just happy to be out there in this gorgeous weather once again and the plan is to take full advantage of what is left of the summer!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 29: Review

Now at the end of my first week back into training and the foot is feeling much better. It's still not 100% and I have to be careful with it, but getting the ankle moving again seems to be helping to make it more comfortable. I'm thinking that a lot of the discomfort last week wasn't so much the bone itself, but tightness in the connective tissues around it as they've basically been locked in one position for a month and a half. Fortunately, I don't appear to have lost nearly as much strength as I had expected so getting back into my routine is going to be easier than expected. I'm by no means as strong as I was before, but it is nowhere near starting from scratch.

In the water this week, I managed to squeeze in two sessions (Tuesday and Friday). While I'm a good deal slower than I was before the interruption, my stamina seems to (mostly) be intact and swimming for the entire session at my previous effort levels doesn't appear to be an issue. As this is the one sport where I can go full bore if I'd like, this is good as it will allow me to use the pool to help rebuild my cardiovascular strength ahead of ramping up the other two disciplines.

In an effort to train a bit smarter, however, I've taken to breaking my swim up into smaller bits and doing a more structured workout. My approach for the last few years has been to stick to long sets, but the more I read about this sort of training the more I get the impression that that was a mistake. Prior to the injury I had been stuck at a 2:00/100m pace for a long while, so I'm hoping that this new approach will allow me to eventually break through that barrier.

On the bike, I started out with an easy ride around the subdivision on Wednesday. That allowed me to stick with flat ground for the time being (as I was advised to avoid big hills as I started up) and test things out safely. Fortunately, everything felt great on that ride so it also helped to buoy my confidence a bit. It wasn't, however, a good ride to evaluate my fitness as the nature of residential streets doesn't lend itself to that (too much starting up and slowing down to get a feel for what is sustainable).

As such, on Saturday I headed out for a longer ride on some rural roads to get a better feel for where I was at. As it's nearly impossible to avoid hills from where I live, I drove out a few kilometers to get past them and headed out from there. Needless to say, it felt great to get back out on the open road. While I've certainly lost some degree of power, I was still able to comfortably maintain cruising speeds above 30km/h so I'm not too far back. My stamina at higher speeds (~40km/h+) has definitely taken a hit, but at this point I'm just happy I can still hit those speeds.

The one tricky part with the ride was that I wasn't able to get out in the morning, and it was a hot and humid day with full sun. When I broke my foot in mid-May, it was still the early days of summer so the downtime meant that I didn't get a chance to gradually acclimatize to the full-bore summer weather. As such, fighting through the heat was, and will continue to be, a challenge over the next little while. For the time being, I will have to redouble my efforts to get out early and keep it as cool as possible.

The other caveat is that my gears are still acting up on me. Shortly before my injury, I had my front derailleur cable replaced but when I took it for a ride the chain was rubbing when in the big ring and anything smaller than the 6th cog. I didn't get around to getting that addressed until last week, and it was working fine when I tested it outside of the shop. Unfortunately, on both of my rides this week it was doing the same thing so it's likely going to have to go back in. The result is that I basically have a big gap in my gearing and riding anywhere between 28 and 40km/h requires sub-optimal cadences.

I'm not sure if it's just the cable stretching out on me, or if it's something to do with how I'm putting it in the car but I'll have to talk with them about it when I go back. I've picked up a book on bicycle maintenance and am working on figuring this stuff out, but I'm reticent to mess around with the shifting until I have a better understanding. With that said, I'd like to take a more active role in keeping it in good condition as doing it yourself is always the best way to be sure that it's done right.

Week 29 Totals:
Running: 0.0km 0.0mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 56.7km (35.2mi)
Swimming: 6.2km (3.9mi)
Total: 62.9km (39.1mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 758.6km (471.35mi)
Walking: 28.4km (17.6mi)
Cycling: 2127.1km (1321.7mi)
Swimming: 148.9km (92.5mi)
Total: 3063.0km (1903.3mi)

Longer term, I'm hoping to get back together with my normal group for a ride next weekend. As most of them did races in Peterborough last week, they're still in a recovery phase right now so it's a good match for my rebuilding. Naturally, we will have to avoid the bigger hills for the time being, but I don't think it will be necessary to avoid them entirely as there was no hint of pain on either ride.

If I have the time, I'd also like to give water running a shot as it might be a good way to rebuild that part of my fitness up without having to worry about the foot. While it looks like an incredibly boring way to spend a workout, it's about the only way that I'll be able to keep my running strength up. I will probably be adding some walking this week which will help, but that doesn't cover all of the muscles that running does.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Feels Good to be Back!

I finally got to the point where I can walk comfortably without any aides, so I headed back to the pool this morning for my first session. Naturally, with nearly seven weeks downtime I figured that I'd pretty much be back to square one so I expected it to be a hard slog. As I didn't really know what I'd be able to do, I elected to just play it by ear and do whatever I could.

Fortunately, however, once I got going I actually felt quite good and was able to get in a decent workout. For the first set, I originally planned to just do 100m intervals, but by the end of it I was feeling great so I opted to push that to 250m. Once I got near that point I was still going strong, so I kept going until I hit the 1km mark and took a break (still felt good, but figured it was unwise to push it beyond that). I followed up with another 1000m set, then switched over to some drills to test out my speed/breathing. Once I completed them, I still had some time left in the session so I did an easy 500m cooldown to finish it off.

I didn't push as hard as I usually do so my pace was pretty pathetic, however I want to take it carefully as I start back up. I most certainly have lost a good chunk of strength, but fortunately my stamina (which is a lot harder to build back up) seems to be largely intact. I'm just crossing my fingers that the same will be true on the cycling front, as I'm not really looking forward to going back to short little 10-20K rides :OP

Either way, I'll keep chipping away with it and hopefully get myself back into shape as quickly as I can safely get away with. I was flirting with trying another swim tomorrow as well, but the pool is going to be closed for an event so I'll stick to the Tuesday/Thursday schedule for now. I'm hoping to take the bike out later this week for a short jaunt around the subdivision, as that's the sport I'd really like to get back into given our weather right now! It's still going to be a long hard climb back to where I was, but fortunately it appears that I didn't fall down the mountain quite as far as I feared :D

In other news, the Peterborough half-iron race that I had originally planned to run was last weekend but I headed up anyway as several good friends were doing it and the sprint that went along with it. I do have to say that it was nice to see a race like this from the other side of the fence, so I'll have to make sure to do that more often ;) There is a lot going on during these races, and it can be quite an exercise to stay on top of everything as your friends go in and out of transition. It was a heck of a steamy day and it was hard enough standing around, so it's all the more impressive for those that were pushing themselves to the limit in those conditions!

The race itself was very well organized, with a good layout and minimal lineups for the multitude of registration steps. Only thing that would have made it better would be if the race timing folks could set up those text messaging notifications that many marathons have. Trying to be on top of when everyone is going to come in and out is much more complicated in this sport (especially with multiple races going on simultaneously), so having an idea of where they are would make spectating much, much easier :P

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Starting Over...

It will be six weeks tomorrow that I managed to break my foot, and as such I've been pretty silent here since that left me unable to do any training. Being stuck inside with that gorgeous weather out there was torture to someone who is used to working out every day. Watching the fitness that I've worked hard on over that time slowly melt away just made it worse, but fortunately I'm coming near the end of that phase and trying to figure out how to build back up.

Running injuries are usually a result of over-training or pushing too hard, but in this instance it was just a matter of bad luck. I was out on my regular Wednesday group run and we had gotten a bit stretched out due to varying paces, so I turned around to head back and get everyone together. Unfortunately, there was some loose gravel on the sidewalk where I elected to make that turn and I ended up loosing traction. In the fall, I got a bit of road rash on my left hand and twisted my left ankle.

At the time, the ankle really didn't hurt that much so I figured it was just a minor issue. One of the other runners had a band-aide, so I patched up the hand and kept running. The ankle was a bit sore, but wasn't really enough to cause alarm so I kept the pace low and just finished off the distance. When I got to the store I did my stretches and then headed in and cleaned out the wound on my hand. Unfortunately, after I drove home (and it had some time to cool down) it was hurting a lot more. On inspection, it was swollen up a bit so I made an appointment with the family doctor the next day and R.I.C.E.d it in the meantime.

I headed in the next morning and after examining it he didn't think it was broken, but had me get some X-Rays to be sure. Unfortunately, when the film developed and he took a look at them there was a small fracture on my 5th metatarsal. On the upside, there was no displacement and the ankle itself was fine, so it was just a matter of giving it time to heal. I left the office with an aircast and instructions to keep the weight off of it.

While I was told that swimming would probably be okay, the logistics of getting in and out of the pool were enough of a deterrent. I had to use crutches to get around and the slippery tiles on the deck were a bit of a worry, plus with a foot out of commission the ladders weren't an option and jumping in didn't seem wise. I probably should have sucked it up and taken the chance to keep my cardiovascular fitness up, however I didn't want to risk anything to foul up the healing process (eg accidentally kicking off with the bad foot).

Either way, fast forward to last week and I headed back for another set of X-Rays. Fortunately, the healing was going along better than expected and he gave me the okay to start walking on the cast. He did warn that the bone would take a couple of months to fully calcify, so I'd have to be careful and stop whenever I felt pain. I was cleared to stop using the aircast after a week, at which point I could carefully restart exercise. I was instructed to maintain easy running paces in the near term, and to avoid any large hills on the bike, so any races this fall are out of the question but at least I'll be able to start getting back into a routine.

As walking was still hurting, I stayed on the crutches for the majority of last week and have been testing it a bit every day. I'm now moving around with a cane with a bit of a mild discomfort (which is likely just tightened up connective tissue), but fortunately no pain. Once I work my way off of that, I'll head back to the pool as much as possible and integrate a bit of walking. If that works out well, I'll start cycling around the neighborhood and use that to evaluate my fitness level and what I can do.

Aside from dealing with the bone itself, I've developed a pretty significant muscle imbalance between my legs. As my right leg has been doing all of the work for the last few weeks, it's still got some of the muscle left but the left leg is pretty much all jelly. The doctor didn't seem worried about it and said that it would come back quickly, but I still want to be careful about it as I don't want to foul something else up. The bike should be able to help a bit with this, as if I can find a stretch of straight/flat road I can unclip the strong leg and pedal exclusively with the weaker one to build it up.

The other potential difficulty will be weight gain. One of the hardest things with the time off has been eating, as someone used to burning 6,000-8,000 kcal per week that's a lot of food to take out of one's diet. Naturally, some of that was in the form of sports drinks and gels that were easy to avoid, but I still had to make my normal meals a lot smaller. I haven't weighed myself as of yet as standing on a scale with one leg isn't going to be very accurate (and the loss of muscle mass is going to mask some of it), but I'm going to be a few pounds up. As such, getting myself back down to battle weight is going to be a high priority at the start.

Either way, I'm chomping at the bit to get back out there and see where I stand. I'm especially eager to get back on the bike, as the window of opportunity to ride outside is closing fast. It's likely going to take some time before I can regain enough strength to do significant distances again, and I want to get that process underway as soon as possible so I can get to that point. I managed to get a handful of rides in before the injury, and I don't want to go back to the trainer without getting a few good outdoor sessions in.

As such, the next few weeks are going to require a lot of work to figure out how I'm going to do this. While Running has always been my strongest sport, it's going to have to take a back seat for the next little while. Since racing isn't an option, the objectives for the remainder of the season are basically going to be:
  1. Safely rebuilding strength and avoiding injury. This will inherently be a tricky balance, as I have to be conservative to be safe, but if I'm too careful it will take the fitness a long time to come back. Finding the appropriate balance is going to have to be central to my focus.
  2. Building up a strong base in order to prepare for next season. The upside to this is that it will allow me to take a longer-term approach to preparations for races next year, rather than having to parlay fitness from one season to the next. Once I've rebuilt the fundamentals, I can devote more time to working with my weak spots.
  3. Getting my weight back to where I'd like it. Aside from the short term gain due to the injury, I was running a few pounds heavier than I would have liked before then so this is a good opportunity to get myself down to an ideal level. As counter-intuitive as it may be, it's difficult to maintain weight under heavy volumes as you need to take in a lot of calories to fuel all of the exercise. Taking in too little fuel can significantly impede performance, so it's often safer to err on the side of caution. Unfortunately, doing that continuously leads to a slow creep upwards in weight.
  4. Taking some time to simply enjoy the exercise. While training for a race is certainly enjoyable, often one has to make tradeoffs to get to the final objective (eg foregoing the temptation to add a little extra to a ride/run when you're feeling great because it would negatively effect performance for the next day). In the macro sense the payoff of a well executed season is certainly worth these short-term sacrifices, sometimes it is nice to be able to just wing it and do what you like rather than what the plan says.
The next few weeks is certainly going to be a learning process for me, and I'm hoping to be able to get back into a routine relatively quickly. Planning is largely going to be impossible as it's going to require going by feel a lot, but at the same time I can't just go ad hoc as I need to avoid going out too fast too soon and injuring something.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Goal: Peterborough Half-Ironman

I've been going back and forth about what my plans were this year, and after I decided to hold off on Boston for the time being and focus on Triathlons it was just a matter of finding the right race. I've been looking at shooting for the Half-Ironman distance (1.9K/90K/21.1K) for a while now, and I wanted to find an early season race to get some experience with the distance.

I was originally thinking of doing Welland, as it's relatively close and the first opportunity for this distance. Fortunately, a few friends who are just looking at getting into multi-sport events started talking about Peterborough and as they had a half-iron distance Triathlon it helped to make the choice nice any easy. It's further away and will need an overnight trip, but given the length of this race that's not necessarily a bad thing (especially with friends to relax with the night before). It has the benefit of a more scenic course and buys me a few more weeks to prepare, although it's got more hills and will likely have hotter weather. Either way, as of this morning, I'm now registered and have a hotel reserved for the stay.

As such, it is now just a matter of getting ready for the race itself. The objective for this event is just to finish at this point, as a five to six hour race is a lot more than I've ever done before. Individually, the distances of the three legs are largely trivial for the training that I've done, however combined it's a tall order. My running and swimming mileage are more than sufficient at this point, so the main thing will be to get my cycling up to snuff in the coming weeks. With the weather getting better I'll likely be taking the bike off of the trainer very soon, and that will do a lot to help.

The other aspect that I'm going to need to work on is figuring out a nutrition strategy. Looking back on my data from individual exercises, I'm probably going to burn somewhere in the neighbourhood of 4000-5000kcal over the course of the race. That translates into needing to take in more than 2000kcal of fuel during the race itself which is a lot more than I've ever had to think about before. I also have to figure out the logistics of bottle exchanges on the bike, as that's where the bulk of that consumption will likely have to occur so the two aide stations will be critical.

Finally, I'm going to have to come up with a formal training plan for the coming weeks so that I peak at the right time. My dithering up until now has made that difficult, as without a specific target date it's difficult to plan things out. I haven't really found one that I've been terribly crazy about, but if I don't have any luck I'll likely look at modifying the plans that Friel has in his book. My main problem with his plans in the past has been the time rather than distance based targets, however that should be easy enough to work around (time target*planned pace=distance target).

Either way, I'm going to be busy over the next little while trying to figure out how to handle all of this stuff. In addition to the planning, I also need to put the Speedfil I bought at the end of last year on the bike and bring it in for it's spring tune up so that I can get her outside and start logging proper miles again. As always, I welcome any suggestions that you guys have to offer as the next couple of months are going to be a big learning experience!

Catching Up...

I've gotten way behind on weekly reports, so I'm going to quickly put up the mileage over the last few weeks to catch back up. Overall things have gone relatively well, although I had a short interruption back in Week 13 when my back seized up on me. Fortunately, it didn't bother me much on the bike so I was able to keep that mileage up, but the running and swimming did end up suffering. Either way, I'm back into my normal routine now and hopefully I'll be able to get the bike outside again so that I can start getting the mileage back up.

Week 11 Totals:
Running: 43.7km (27.1mi)
Walking: 2.6km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 125.1km (77.7mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 180.2km (112.0mi)

Week 12 Totals:
Running: 38.6km (24.0mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 100.0km (62.1mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 148.9km (92.5mi)

Week 13 Totals (Back Injury):
Running: 9.7km (6.0mi)
Walking: 4.8km (3.0mi)
Cycling: 76.9km (47.8mi)
Swimming: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Total: 91.4km (56.8mi)

Week 14 Totals:
Running: 36.8km (22.9mi)
Walking: 1.1km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 60.0km (37.3mi)
Swimming: 7.8km (4.8mi)
Total: 91.4km (56.8mi)

Week 15 Totals:
Running: 42.7km (26.6mi)
Walking: 1.8km (1.1mi)
Cycling: 130.1km (80.8mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Strength: 45mins
Total: 183.4km (114.0mi)

Week 16 Totals:
Running: 43.4km (27.0mi)
Walking: 2.4km (1.5mi)
Cycling: 70.7km (43.9mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 125.3km (77.9mi)

Week 17 Totals:
Running: 43.6km (27.1mi)
Walking: 2.1km (1.3mi)
Cycling: 70.3km (43.7mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 124.8km (77.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 674.6km (419.2mi)
Walking: 28.4km (17.6mi)
Cycling: 1783.7km (1108.3mi)
Swimming: 121.9km (75.7mi)
Total: 2608.6km (1620.9mi)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weeks 9 & 10: Review

The last couple of weeks have been crazy and between other commitments and the weather forcing me to move things around my mileage has suffered because of it. The biggest chunk of that was the loss of my long rides as they are nearly impossible to move around due to the length of time required. I've fortunately managed to get my long runs in as scheduled, but I've also ended up missing at least one of the shorter runs during the week.

Either way, not a whole lot that can be done about it as sometimes life intervenes with one's plans and you just have to deal with it. As such, I'm going to be redoubling my efforts this week to nail down my workouts as planned and get back on track. Fortunately the weather is looking great so that should go a long way in making that easier to achieve.

Week 9 Totals:
Running: 34.8km (21.6mi)
Walking: 0.5km (0.3mi)
Cycling: 80.0km (49.7mi)
Swimming: 4.3km (2.7mi)
Total: 119.6km (74.3mi)

Week 10 Totals:
Running: 33.7km (20.9mi)
Walking: 1.2km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 75.0km (46.6mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 118.7km (73.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 416.1km (258.6mi)
Walking: 12.1km (7.5mi)
Cycling: 1150.6km (714.9mi)
Swimming: 78.9km (49.0mi)
Total: 1657.7km (1030.0mi)

As noted above, the weather this week is looking incredible so I'm going to do what I can to take advantage of it. I'm half tempted to change the tires around on the bike and take her outside, but I'm hesitant to do that this early in the season lest I tempt the fates to bring another storm our way. Either way, this sort of spring-like weather is promising as it signals that we are nearing the end of the winter season and it won't be too long before the trainer can start collecting dust once again :D

Longer term, I'm starting to solidify a plan for the rest of the season at this point. A few friends are looking at doing their first Duathlon up in Peterborough so I'm strongly leaning towards joining them and doing my first Half-Ironman up there. It's far enough out that it will require a hotel unlike Milton, however it's worth the extra expense to have some company to enjoy the race with. They're looking at doing the half-distance Du as well, so given the starting times we'll likely end up hitting the bike stage at about the same time so things should work well.

As for Boston, I'm leaning against worrying about it at this point. My preference has always been to focus on Tris this year, and the more I think about it the more I realize the only reason that I was considering a shot at it was because of the change in qualification times. The point of all of this is to have fun and stay healthy, and doing this out of some obligation to hit a wholly artificial goal is the wrong direction to take. Given the stories that I've heard of Boston I'd still love to do it some day, but I'd rather do that on my time table even if it requires a harder fight to do so. Further, the meaning of getting a BQ would be somewhat diminished by eeking in at the last minute in order to hit easier qualifying times :OP

Monday, February 28, 2011

Weeks 7 & 8: Review

It's been a busy couple of weeks so I missed writing up my review of last week's activity. My knee was still bothering me a bit last week, so I've been taking it easy on the running front - keeping my mileage and pace down to better allow it to heal. Fortunately, as cycling and swimming didn't seem to bother it I've been keeping that up as planned and have got my cycling mileage up significantly.

Last week it felt good until I got around to the longer run when it acted up a bit again, so heading out this morning I was a bit cautious. Fortunately, after no re-occurrence of pain during today's long run I think I can start ramping the running mileage back up again. Naturally, given it's been about three weeks I'm going to have to work my way back there, but it will be good to not have to worry about it all the time.

On the bike front I've got all of the mid-week rides up to the mileage that I'm looking for so it's just a matter of adding a bit more onto Saturday's long ride over the next few weeks. I even managed to squeeze in a decent brick session on Friday, upping the effort on the ride segment a bit to get in a better workout. Hopefully I can keep this up so that when the weather does get better I can hit the ground running rather than having to build myself back up.

Week 7 Totals:
Running: 32.0km (19.9mi)
Walking: 0.9km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 165.1km (102.6mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 206.8km (128.5mi)

Week 8 Totals:
Running: 31.9km (19.8mi)
Walking: 1.2km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 200.1km (124.3mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 242.0km (150.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 347.6km (216.0mi)
Walking: 10.4km (6.5mi)
Cycling: 995.6km (618.6mi)
Swimming: 65.8km (40.9mi)
Total: 1419.4km (882.0mi)

On the longer term front, I've been discussing the idea of doing the Peterborough HIM as a couple of friends are looking at doing the Duathlon up there. It's a bit of a longer trip than Milton and will likely need a hotel stay to be practical, but the route looks a bit more scenic and it'll be nice to have some company to share the experience with. This will also be their first foray into multisport racing and given that they're jumping into the deep end (2K run/90K ride/21.1K run), I'd like to be there to help them through it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boston Marathon

Qualifying for Boston has been a long term goal ever since finishing my Marathon a couple of years ago. After selling out in less than eight hours last year, however, it was evident that they'd have to do something about the qualifying standards and that has brought a new urgency to taking a shot at that goal. With the existing standards, I was looking at having to run the distance in 3:10:59 or less to make the cut (an average pace of 4:31/km or 7:17/mi). That is within the realm of possibilities, but it's skirting the outer edges of what I can do so if it is tightened much more it'll likely close the door.

Today the BAA announced it's verdict on what will be done for the 2012 and 2013 marathons. For the 2012 marathon, the qualifying standards remain the same but they've added a graduated registration system that will allow faster runners earlier access. For 2013, the base qualifying standards will be tightened up by 5 minutes and the 59 second grace period will be removed (effectively meaning 6 minutes). Given the scenario they had little choice but to do something, and this seems to be about the fairest way to handle it that I can imagine. Given a finite supply of spots, it's certainly better for them to go to faster runners rather than those who are lucky enough to get through an overloaded web server.

With that said, it does make things a bit more complicated on my end and is going to require some consideration. I don't think that the 3:05 standard coming in for 2013 is possible for me, so this year will likely be my last opportunity in the immediate future to take a realistic shot at it. Unfortunately, with the progressive registration there is a high probability that it will be sold out before the general qualifiers round comes up (effectively tightening it to 3:05 (or worse) anyway). Shooting for 3:10 will require a lot of work and likely some significant compromises on my Triathlon training, so the thought of working my arse off, getting that time and it all being for naught is disconcerting.

Naturally, the other option would be to simply wait until I'm 35 and aim for a 3:10 marathon at that juncture. At this point I've only run one marathon, and I would have liked to have a few more under my belt before taking a shot at such an aggressive target. Working a few longer distance Triathlons into the mix would be beneficial as well, as their longer duration (~4-5 hours for a HIM, ~11-12 hours for a full) would do a lot to boost my confidence. I'm not that far off so the extra age likely won't hurt me too much, and while I'll have to be 59 seconds faster that's not likely a huge problem. The other benefit is that I'll have a better idea of how big a risk things selling out are as right now that's an unknown quantity. Further, depending on when I run the qualifying race, it may be possible to try and register the next year.

Either way, I've got a lot of thinking to do at this point and have to come to a conclusion quickly as formal training will have to start soon. Given the Triathlon schedule I had hoped to do the marathon in the fall, but with the registration deadline on September 19th I might have to do it in the spring (as most of the fall marathons are after that date). With that said, it's good to finally have a concrete answer on what I'm up against as it will allow me to make a more objective assessment of the different options.

With all of that said, as much as this arrangement doesn't work out terribly well for me I do have to give the BAA credit for coming up with a fair system to handle this. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place here and a tough decision had to be made. Given a fixed number of openings, the standards need to be designed so that the fastest runners are the ones that get them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 6: Review

While it has been a relatively cold winter, we've been lucky that most of the snow that's fallen has been cleaned up pretty well and I haven't had to run through too much of it. Unfortunately, last week's long run was an exception to that and had me going over a lot of uneven terrain. The result of that was that the inside of my left knee felt a bit off on Tuesday and after my group run on Wednesday it was a bit uncomfortable so I ended up taking off the rest of the week to be safe (nipping things in the bud when it's just discomfort is easier than dealing with injuries after it becomes pain). Naturally, the result of that is some pitiful mileage on the running front.

Fortunately, it didn't seem to bother me at all in the other two sports so I was able to keep things up on those two fronts. The knee seems to only be aggravated by lateral motion, and as the bike locks my motion into a single plane that's not an issue there. In the pool, the arms do most of the work and the kicks come more from the hips than the knees so it doesn't pose an issue there as well. To be safe, however, I made sure to push off on my right leg at the end of each length as that can sometimes put stresses on the joint.

I did miss one ride on Monday as that's when I did last week's aforementioned long run, but other than that I hit all of the sessions as planned (including a 60K on Saturday). I did back off the intensity to be safe, as fatigued muscles may lead to slightly more eccentric motion of the joints, but other than that I stuck to the schedule. In the water, however, I followed my normal protocol with the only exception being that I replaced kicking drills with others to be absolutely sure it wasn't a problem.

The upside to a multi-sport regime is that when stuff like this happens you aren't totally shut down. While I've likely lost a bit of fitness over this week, the cycling and swimming should do a good job of keeping my cardiovascular strength up so it's just a matter of rebuilding a bit of lost strength in the legs (which is a lot easier to get back). It also has the benefit of warming up the tissues in the legs to allow me to properly stretch things on a routine basis and hopefully help to resolve whatever the underlying cause is. Naturally, it doesn't always work as there are a lot of bits that are used across the sports, but fortunately this time it was isolated to one of them :D

Week 6 Totals:
Running: 8.6km (5.3mi)
Walking: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Cycling: 110.0km (68.4mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 127.4km (79.2mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 283.7km (176.3mi)
Walking: 8.3km (5.2mi)
Cycling: 630.4km (391.7mi)
Swimming: 48.2km (30.0mi)
Total: 970.6km (603.1mi)

Either way, the knee is feeling much better today and I'll likely be good to get back into the swing of things tomorrow or the day after. I probably could have gone out on Sunday, but there was still a bit of tightness left in the joint and I didn't want to risk wasting the time off this week. Right now it's just a tiny hint (although that may very well just be in my mind) and I'm hoping that by tomorrow that will be gone and I can give it another a shot.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Week 5: Review

This was a bit of a complex week due to a couple of major snowstorms on Wednesday and Saturday night. Fortunately, I was able to move things around to work around those problems and get all of the planned miles in. The downside was that it meant missing my group run so all sessions were done solo, but that's part of the equation of running in Canada during the winter.

Aside from direct interference, however, the snow this week also meant that most of my runs were completed on uncleared sidewalks and roadways. This meant additional work to push through thick snow and low traction and also limited the pace at which I could safely maintain. Monday's long run was probably the most difficult of the runs, as there were segments where I had to plow through deep (~1-1.5 feet) drifts of snow and dodge/leap over puddles. That, in turn, took a lot more out of me than a normal 16 miler would take.

Thankfully, both swimming and cycling aren't affected much by the weather outside so both of those sports went ahead as planned. As last week's long run was done on Sunday, I was finally able to squeeze in all four rides which allowed me to get my mileage back up to where I'd like. Thankfully I'm getting used to the psychological aspects of riding indoors for long periods, so it's just a matter of pushing the distances up slowly over the next few weeks. Naturally, I'd still much rather be riding outside, but we've got at least a couple more months before that's feasible again :P

Week 5 Totals:
Running: 49.9km (31.0mi)
Walking: 2.0km (1.2mi)
Cycling: 140.1km (87.1mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 200.8km (124.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 275.1km (170.9mi)
Walking: 8.3km (5.2mi)
Cycling: 520.4km (323.4mi)
Swimming: 39.4km (24.5mi)
Total: 843.2km (523.9mi)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 4: Review

Aside from missing the ride on Monday (as it was supplanted by last week's delayed long run), things pretty much went according to plan this week. The weather was reasonably agreeable and my schedule wasn't too messy so I was able to squeeze things in as planned. As the weather was relatively comfortable yesterday, I brought my long run back up to 16 miles which helped to get the numbers back to where they needed to be.

On the cycling front I finally made my way back up to 50K on the trainer thanks to watching video while I ride. I did have a bit of a hiccup as the Garmin speed/cadence sensor was dropping out a bit during the ride, so I had to stop periodically to get it up and running again. I'm still on the factory battery that's been in there for a year or so now, and as far as I can tell they weren't smart enough to put in an explicit low battery alert (like Polar does with their sensors) so that's likely the culprit. Easy enough to fix, but it would be nice to get some kind of warning before it happens.

Week 4 Totals:
Running: 51.8km (32.2mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 100.1km (62.2mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 162.2km (100.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 225.2km (139.9mi)
Walking: 6.3km (3.9mi)
Cycling: 380.3km (236.3mi)
Swimming: 30.6km (19.0mi)
Total: 642.4km (399.2mi)

Netflix is still doing the trick and after a bit of playing around with the VCR's service menus I've mostly eliminated the Macrovision problems. Unfortunately, with the CRTC's recent boneheaded UBB decision the feasibility of this solution likely isn't going to be there after March 1st (barring the Federal Cabinet stepping in, but I'm not holding my breath on that one). For the programming that they have it's likely worth the $8/mo, but with the punitive overage fees that the commission has allowed it's going to work out to ~$1-2 per show which quickly dwarf what Netflix charges. As such, I'll probably continue on for another month or so and drop it once the new fees come into place. After that point I'm going to have to figure out something else to help pass the time :( Always fun when the government helps to reinforce the Bell/Rogers duopoly and crush any semblance of innovative competition in this country :oP

Anyway, I'm getting off track here so enough about that and back to the training front ;) This week the plan is to hold the running and swimming at the current levels and continue increasing the mid-week cycling mileage. I'm not in formal training now so the primary objective is to get the base ready for it, but I'm going to have to get started soon.

I'm still trying to figure out the plan, but at this point I'm leaning towards just focusing on the Triathlon side of things and worrying about Boston down the road. The BAA hasn't really said much about their plans for the 2012 marathon, and I don't want to risk all-out training (ie sacrificing time in the other two sports) with the risk of them making it all for naught by moving the cutoff from 3:10 to 3:05. If they do hold the line for my age group's qualifying times, then I can always make a run for it in the fall after doing a few Tris in the spring/early summer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 3: Review

This week got off to a rough start as last week's long run being moved to the Monday meant no ride and as I was out of town on Tuesday I didn't end up getting any sessions in. I added a run on Friday to make up for the missed session, but there was no way to make up for the lost ride and swim so those two are a bit low.

Adding to the complexity was the extreme cold that came in over the weekend, so I ended up pushing my long run back to Monday again. With the windchill it was a little below -30C on Sunday morning, and I had 16 miles scheduled so I chickened out and put it off until the next day. On Monday morning the temperatures were just as bad, but fortunately it went down to -20C with the windchill in the afternoon so I headed out for an abbreviated run (getting in 14 of the scheduled 16 miles). It actually didn't end up being that bad, so I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't go for the full distance.

Other than that, however, this week went fairly well. I've mostly been running at recovery paces lately to take it a bit easy during the off season, but on Thursday I elected to start bringing some speed back and did the 5 miler at a GA pace. I would have tried it at a tempo pace, but the sidewalks were still a bit icy so I didn't want to push it too hard. I also pushed my Saturday ride up to 45K this week and hope to get to 50K next week.

Week 3 Totals:
Running: 48.9km (30.4mi)
Walking: 1.1km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 95.0km (59.1mi)
Swimming: 4.3km (2.6mi)
Total: 149.3km (92.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 173.4km (107.7mi)
Walking: 4.8km (3.0mi)
Cycling: 280.2km (174.1mi)
Swimming: 21.8km (13.5mi)
Total: 480.2km (298.4mi)

Either way, it's been a busy few days so I'll keep it short this week. I'm hoping to continue ratcheting things up again next week and will have to figure out my long term plans pretty soon as it's getting near to the point where I'm going to have to start formally training ;)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 2: Review

I redoubled my efforts this week to better follow my prescribed plan and fortunately managed to fit everything in. I did have to move yesterday's long run to today and while that will effect mileage for the next week, it means that I did manage to hit my target this week. Running mileage was a bit lower than last week, but that was by design as I figured that a recovery week made sense after a couple of 16 milers in a row.

On the bike I finally managed to get in all four sessions for the week adding up to a total of 120K (30K on Monday and Friday, 20K on Wednesday and 40K on Saturday). I still have to work on building my tolerance for longer distances indoors, but getting all of the sessions in was a good first step. Over the coming weeks I plan to slowly increase the mileage on all four of those rides until I can be comfortable squeezing in at least one 80K+ ride per week and hopefully a couple of 50Ks.

One of the big things that helped with this is that I finally set things up in my training area so that I can watch videos rather than relying on whatever happens to be on TV at the time. Part of the trouble that I've had this year is that the timeslots that work well for my riding no longer have anything on, so I was stuck either staring at the wall or just throwing it on a news channel to fill the time. Having something interesting to watch makes a huge difference in being able to stay on the bike for extended periods.

Along with that, I also signed up for the free trial month being offered by Netflix. The concept of this service is pretty much perfect for this application, as it allows me to pull down whatever I want at a whim. Earlier in the week I was just recording stuff on my Media Center box and watching that, which worked well but required a lot of planning (ie figuring out how much material I needed and what I could record without anyone spoiling it for me before I got around to watching it). Their selection here in Canada is pretty limited, but I only need it to last for a few months until I can get back outside so there are enough old movies/TV shows that I wouldn't mind watching over again.

Unfortunately, when I tried it out the first time the picture was slowly sequencing between light and dark. After fiddling around with the connections, I figured out that the idiots are using Macrovision (an archaic 'copy protection' mechanism which was defeated a long time ago) which messes around with the gain on my VCR (I'm using an old TV that only has an F-connector, so I need that to modulate the composite signal provided by the XBox). The videos were still watchable, but it's annoying enough that I'm unlikely to continue on once the paid period starts up (unless I can figure out a way to turn off the AGC circuitry in the VCR). It's too bad, however, as aside from that the service worked quite well.

Week 2 Totals:
Running: 46.3km (28.8mi)
Walking: 1.2km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 120.1km (74.6mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 176.4km (109.6mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 124.5km (77.4mi)
Walking: 3.7km (2.3mi)
Cycling: 185.2km (115.1mi)
Swimming: 17.5km (10.9mi)
Total: 330.9km (205.6mi)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week 1: Review

Since moving my bike inside a few weeks back, I've been slacking a lot on my cycling mileage. As such, I doubled my efforts to get back into the routine and am starting to re-build myself to where I was. I did end up missing one of my planned rides this week, however that's a significant improvement over what I've been doing. I also have been progressively increasing the mileage that I put in on those sessions, and hope to get back into the mindset that allows me to do 50-80K rides on the trainer.

One thing that helped a lot with that was setting up an XBox by the trainer so that I can watch recorded videos while riding (costs less and does more than any of the dedicated boxes). In previous years I just stuck with whatever was on television, but unfortunately this year there isn't much on in the time bracket that I'd prefer to ride so I had to look for an alternative. I'm probably going to give the Netflix one month free trial a spin to see how it works, but looking at the catalog on their website I'm not really expecting it to be great.

On the running and swimming front, things pretty much went as planned. Running mileage is a little lower than the previous week, but that's largely because I didn't do the much-longer-than-planned group run that I've been doing lately. As with last week, I managed to put down another 16 miler which is pretty much my plateau for off season training. I'll likely back off a bit next week for recovery, and then build back up to this level.

Weather this week has been pretty hostile, however fortunately it's been possible to simply move sessions around so it didn't mess with things too much. Pace is a little lower than normal as running over ice and snow covered trails requires a bit more care, but that's pretty much par for the course in January. After doing a few runs through thick snow, the legs are starting to get used to the extra work ;)

Week 1 Totals:
Running: 52.4km (32.5mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 65.1km (40.4mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 127.8km (79.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 78.2km (48.6mi)
Walking: 2.5km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 65.1km (40.4mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 154.6km (96.1mi)

As for this year's plan, I'm still working out the details so I don't really have a structured training routine worked out as of yet. At this point, the primary objective is to hold my swim and run mileage as is and work my cycling mileage back up in order to have as good a base as possible for when I do start formally training. With that said, if I do want to make a run at a BQ this year I'm going to have to start getting into a routine sooner than later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Year in Review

While I had substantial plans for 2010, they were largely short circuited by scheduling issues preventing me from hitting my primary targets. Physically I had a good training year, seeing improvements in all three sports and getting in some solid training. Unfortunately, without the races it's difficult to quantify those improvements as those all-out efforts are typically the best way to test things out.

The one thing that I did mange to do very well this year is avoid any injuries getting in the way. I did have some back issues at the beginning of the year, but they were largely a result of trying to do too much mileage during my base period at the end of 2009. I've had a few things pop up since then, but on those occasions I was able to detect them early, back off and prevented them from flaring up. Catching those signs is a good step in the learning process, as straddling the line between avoiding injuries and working out hard enough to see gains is critical to squeezing out maximum performance.

If there is one thing that I do need to learn from this year it's not to put off registering for races. My primary goal for 2010 was to race Ironman Muskoka but the high cost to register had me holding off due to scheduling concerns. With a $300+ registration fee, that's a lot of money to lose if I couldn't make it so I wanted to be 100% sure that nothing would get in the way. Unfortunately, work was unpredictable this year and I kept putting it off until it was too late. The other races I wanted to do this year fell to similar fates, and that resulted in me only getting one 5K in (which I didn't really race).

The Numbers:

Running: 2,247.0km (1,396.2mi) - 188h12m (5:02/km avg.)
Walking: 97.2km (60.4mi)
Cycling: 4,482.4km (2,785.2mi) - 148h30m (30.2km/h avg.)
Swimming: 345.5km (214.7mi) - 138h42m (2:24/100m avg.*)
Total: 7,172.1km (4,456.5mi)
* Note, swim time and averages include breaks and drill sessions.

Relative to 2009:
Running: -447.5km(-16%)/-41h50m(-18%)
Walking: -139.8km(-59%)
Cycling: +423.8km(+10%)/+14h17m(+11%)
Swimming: +164.8km(+91%)

My overall mileage this year was pretty much exactly what it was the year before although the makeup was significantly different. As my focus largely shifted to Triathlons, my running and walking mileage dropped while my swimming and cycling mileage climbed. I'd have liked to see most of those numbers higher than they were this year, but unfortunately scheduling time on the bike and in the water is a bit more complicated than on foot as there are more constraints to work around.

With that said, pretty much all of those totals were effected by the lack of racing that I did this year. Without the races I never built up to the extreme mileage weeks that I normally do, so the miles this year were more evenly distributed throughout the season. For illustration purposes, the following is a diagram from running free online plotting my mileage from this year (Polar's ProTrainer software generated a better plot for last year, but unfortunately I have no way to import my Garmin Edge 705/800 files into it):

For comparison purposes, last years mileage looked like this:

As you can see, the peaks don't quite reach the same levels as last year, but there is less up and down over the year. The other thing that you'll likely notice is the drop off in cycling mileage at the end of this year, as the weather wasn't nearly as accommodating as it was in 2009 near the end of the season. That meant going inside on the trainer earlier, and it always takes a while after that transition to get back into the routine of things.

On the fitness side of the equation, my weight continued to creep up a little higher than I'd like so that will have to be a focus this year. A portion of that is likely upper-body muscle mass due to the addition of swimming into my routine, but I don't think that can account for all of the gain this year. I'm still within the healthy range for my height, but the more mass that I have to drag around the harder I need to work so getting back into the low-160s/high-150s should be an objective.


2010 Racing History:
As mentioned above, I didn't really do any significant racing this year. The only event that I did run was the Harry's 5K, but that's more of a social event and I rarely go all out. Given the hills on this course a PB isn't likely to happen, so while I pushed reasonably hard this year it wasn't really a full effort race.

Looking Ahead

As I didn't really hit my objectives for last year, they're pretty much going to carry through into 2011. With that said, the main difference this time around is that I had a chance to build up my swimming and cycling this year so I can go about things in a more aggressive manner. Ideally, I'd like to run a half iron distance race in late June as a test and then build up to an all-out race of the same distance in Muskoka. That wasn't possible last year as I hadn't build up enough, but with this year's training in the bag it should be feasible. As Welland isn't an official M-Dot race, it's a lot less expensive so I won't feel so tempted to go all out on it.

I was thinking about making a BQ attempt at either the Mississauga or Toronto Marathons in May, however doing that would require me to hold off on the above a bit as it would require more focus on running training. Unfortunately, with the threat of the BAA adjusting the qualifying standards I'm leaning away from that idea as there is no sense in putting in that level of effort if I can't get there. Aiming for 3:10 will be extremely difficult, but I think that it's within the realm of possibilities - if that's adjusted to 3:05, however, there isn't much point.

As with last year, I'd like to try and get my 5K time under 20 minutes at some point this year, but it's not a huge priority. My fastest time in this distance so far was 20:55, but that was nearly two years ago and on an injured ankle so 20 minutes should be within reach. With that said, this needs a different type of training that the endurance focus that I'm currently working with, so finding a way to slot it in without disrupting the primary objectives may be difficult.

Either way, I need to look over the race schedules for the year and formulate a plan to achieve those goals. The schedules for the Triathlon season are still tentative, so I can't really get into too much detail until the organizers nail them down. Muskoka is going to be somewhat questionable as the WTC moved the World Championships to the same weekend so it's likely that that's going to be moved around a bit. I'm also hoping that the BAA speaks up sooner or later about what they're going to do, as if I want to make that attempt I'm going to have to start training for it in the very near future.

On the cycling front, I'm also going to have to find a way to get some longer rides in this year. While I got decent overall mileage, my individual rides still maxed out at a little over 100K. I don't like doing much more than that solo, and unfortunately I wasn't able to talk my friends into doing anything longer than that. I'd like to progressively work my way up to at least 100 miles at some point this year one way or another.

Week 52: Review

The last week of 2010 was pretty busy and, combined with picking up a mild throat infection, I ended up missing one of my swims and didn't manage to get on the bike. Fortunately, thanks to Frank talking me into a 13.1 mile group run on Wednesday, my running mileage ended up being higher than planned. Thankfully, I was feeling much better by Sunday and was able to get the full 16 miler in as planned.

I also managed to do a bit more mileage on Tuesday's pool session, doing a little over a kilometer more than usual. Unfortunately, we had a swim club invade the pool on us and they didn't have even a basic understanding of pool etiquette which made things difficult (obviously used to having a reserved pool). They started off by diving into the deep end of active lanes without warning and narrowly missing a few swimmers already in the pool. Once in, they swam in tight packs with one another (which made it impossible to pass them when necessary) and when they took breaks (which they had lots of) they piled up against the wall leaving nowhere for others to turn around.

When there is a lot of traffic, I generally skip taking breaks and just stick with a continuous program to keep things clean. Generally speaking, this makes it easier for lane mates as it makes me more predictable and, thus, allows them to better work around me. The result of that is that I tend to do a bit more mileage as without the breaks I simply have more time to work with. When people follow the rules (resting on the sides of the lanes, avoiding blocking, etc.), this typically works very well.

Unfortunately, with this particular group they just kept gumming up the works and made no effort to work with me. For the first twenty minutes or so, I tried to be polite and do what I could to work around them. It quickly became evident, however, that that wasn't working and they were either (a) trying to force me out of the lane (they were using 4 of the 6 lanes, and the remaining two were packed with much slower swimmers) or (b) completely oblivious to how much of a PITA they were being. As I had about twenty pounds on all of them, I got tired of tip toeing around them and just switched over to freight train mode. Fortunately, after a couple of minutes of that they did a pretty good job of staying out of my way and I was able to finish my workout without any further issues.

Either way, I won't go on too much more here as I'll be putting together a full yearly review later today - just wanted to quickly log the details of the week. Fortunately, I noticed that my total mileage this year was approaching that of last year so I bumped up the mileage on Friday's run from 5 miles to 10K to push me over the edge. My running mileage was lower this year, but as my focus was on the Triathlon side of things that was made up for by significant increases in cycling and swimming miles.

Week 52 Totals:
Running: 56.9km (35.4mi)
Walking: 1.4km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 5.1km (3.2mi)
Total: 63.4km (39.4mi)

January 1st 2010 to Date:
Running: 2272.7km (1412.2mi)
Walking: 98.2km (61.0mi)
Cycling: 4482.4km (2785.2mi)
Swimming: 345.5km (214.7mi)
Total: 7198.8km (4473.1mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 25.8km (16.0mi)
Walking: 1.0km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 0km (0mi)
Swimming: 0km (0mi)
Total: 26.8km (16.6mi)