Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tri update

In just 10 days, I will be competing in my first international-distance triathlon, the Stumpy Creek International. It's now been over a month since my first tri (a sprint), and things have been ... well ... inconsistent since then. After the tri, I went on a long car trip to Minnesota to see my daughter graduate from college. This was good for the soul but not so great for my fitness. I got a fair number of runs in, but no swims or rides, and I felt like I was making reverse progress on my injury, probably due to the adverse effects of sitting in the car for long periods.

I returned home two weeks ago and tried to jump back in with swims and rides, and they went surprisingly well. But my runs were still not great. I just seem to be stuck in a rut where I'm running around a 9-minute pace and not feeling good afterwards. I realize that part of the issue is just the summer heat. When things cool down a bit I should naturally be running faster. But still, this doesn't feel very solid. Hopefully when I'm actually running in the tri it will feel better.

One thing that is starting to feel great is the new-to-me tri-bike I bought from an old running buddy. He had bought it a few years back in anticipation of doing a triathlon, but never ended up racing it. Here it is:


I've now taken several rides on it and all I can say is that it is a massive improvement on the old bike. My old bike was no slouch, but it is now nearly 20 years old and is a straight-up road bike, which means it's not designed for aerodynamic efficiency. On Sunday I rode this bike 35 miles and went faster than I've ever ridden my old bike -- even on much shorter rides. I had a 40K section of this ride where I averaged 18.9 mph. On my old bike I never managed to average over 18.5 for more than a few miles at a time.

Yesterday I rode to the chiropractor on a hot, windy day and completed the 18-mile route nearly 6 minutes faster than I ever have. I broke PRs on segments where I was riding straight into the wind. It's not just that the bike is lighter and more aerodynamically efficient, it's also a stiffer ride that translates much more of the power I apply to the pedals into forward motion. I also paid a fraction of the price I would have paid for a new bike, so I feel like I'm still holding true to my goal of doing tris on the cheap while I learn the ropes.

Similarly, I seem to be improving on the swims as well. I think focusing on my kick and keeping my body horizontal in the water has helped the most. We'll see if that translates into a fast time on race day.

Today I previewed the run section of the race course and put out a decent effort. I was definitely winded after running 6 miles at an 8:27 pace. This would have counted as an "easy" run for me 5 months ago. On the plus side, I do think the run is doable. The toughest part of the course is a half-mile-long hill that you hit at the start of Mile 3 and again at Mile 6. The hill isn't especially big, with a climb of 100 feet, but when you're racing all-out on a hot day, it's no easy task.

So, to sum up, I think I'm ready for my tri, just not as ready as I would be in an injury-free world. That said, if I had been injury free this year, I probably wouldn't have even signed up. The details of today's run are below:

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