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Archive for June, 2009

1K swim, 30K bike, 10K run

This race attracts a strong pro and elite field, as well as gifted age groupers. In its 19th year. Still not a spectator-friendly race (transition area and finish are 4 miles apart), but the athletes who take part can’t get enough of it. The race was won in the run, of course. The guy who won was 3rd out of T2. Oh, the first OA female had the most chiseled-looking legs–we noticed her because she passed us on her bike on the way to the elite bike rack that morning.

I enjoyed the sun and the fun atmosphere. It was great to be 1 of only 2 slackers in our team (the other guy was injured) who elected to sit and watch. The sea of orange jerseys was cool to look at.

Here are my photos for that event. PG-commentary.

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Almost forgot–I took these photos on one of our Elfin Forest Rides. Don’t do what I did–taking photos or talking on a cell phone while riding is dangerous. But since I got these, I thought you should see it too! Ths is a hilly 62 mile ride. The grades are 10-14% in at least 10 sections, and over 18 in 2 sections.

Elfin Forest is a small community in northeast San Diego county. Yeah, it’s a tiny forested area, as the name suggests, just east of Lake Hodges. The air is very fresh when you pass by there, and really is one of the pleasures on the ride. The roads are very nice, but very narrow at spots. It’s not all hills, so intermediate riders (not beginners) do okay.

The two girls (they insist I call them that) in this set did CA 70.3 easily using this training ride exclusively. In fact, they blew away one of our strong riders who had nutritional issues–not supposed to happen even if one is having a bad day right?

Here is the photo slideshow

And the profile of the ride:

Elfin Forest Ride

Elfin Forest Ride

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I got the numbers from my GPS. These were Z3s, and I normally do these at 6:40s. 20 second rest for the 800s, 15 seconds rest for the 400s.   My goal was simply to see if I could run normally after having a so-so day yesterday resulting from a crazy spin session on Tuesday night.

800 – 6:31 pace
800 – 6:43
400 – 6:50
400 – 6:43
400 – 5:51 (decided this 400 should be a fast one, so I increased the turnover rate. wouldn’t you know it, one fast guy drafted off me the whole way. Fun!)
400 – 6:47
800 – 6:41
800 – 6:44

Not too shabby.  Maybe one day I’ll be going around track at 5:51 instead of all these 6s.  I dream…

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The water surface was as flat as could be.  Not mirror-like, but well-behaved.  No swells, no gusts.  A warm 67 degrees.  High tide and the water was very clear today.  Kelp was mostly submerged.

My usual swim buddies didn’t show until late, so I ended up swimming by myself.  It’s pretty cool actually, since I can pick my own stroke rate.  I swam consistently and only sighted a few times to get to the quarter mile buoy.  When I was checking my splits, a teammate swam by.  My watch recorded 8 minutes or so.

Followed my teammate into the half mile buoy.  Easier and more automatic.  Sighted maybe three times.  The upright buoys marking the large swim lane keeps you in the general area.  When I got there, my teammate came over and talked to me.  Asked me if I was doing a 1.5 mile swim.  Second time in as many sessions I’ve been asked while in the water to change distances.  Was only going to do a 1-miler.  Said I would check when I got to the quarter mile buoy.

Plenty of new triathletes stopped along the path between the buoys.  You didn’t even have to sight–just follow the multi-coloured caps all over the place.  Didn’t run into anyone, but did have to steer clear of the crazy ones who swim all over the place.  Got to the quarter mile buoy and found my teammate there.  She was ready to head back to the half mile buoy a second time.  We got our signals crossed and she thought I was heading in.  I was only really supposed to get close to the buoy and head back with her.  She went ahead and I actually went to where there was a big party in the water.  The orange-coloured quarter mile buoy was ringed by all sorts of swimmers today.

I just checked my splits and didn’t spend too much time at any buoy.  Going back to the half mile marker and back again didn’t take that much more time to do.  I did make a conscious effort to keep the strokes even and long.  Since I still don’t kick, the glide and catch is a lot more important.

After a strong even effort, while noting the many swimmers, I finally came in at the cove in about 51 minutes.   It was a 1.5 mile swim, but I felt refreshed and not tired at all.  I guess the endurance part of me kicked in out there and I found the groove easily.

A few of us went to a burger place in La Jolla afterwards.  It hit the spot.  We then walked to one teammate’s place and had a shot of Schnapps (supposed to help the digestive system).  It was nice to just hang out on Friday night.

This swim was pretty unusual in that it’s rare to get conditions as perfect as today.  Plus I didn’t have to consider swimming with anyone, so my stroke was more natural and faster.  I was doing 8-minutes per 400 doing that.

Fabulous open water swim.  We will do the 1.5 mile swim to La Jolla Shores tomorrow.  Hope it will be just as fun!

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It was taught by two friends who were Olympic-class rowers in 2004.  They got the Bronze medal in the pairs I think.  The class was held in Studio Michelle, right off the La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock.  Parking was okay.

Six of us–3 new triathletes, 2 who have been doing tris for 2 years, and me.  It didn’t take me very long to start sweating bogs.

We did squats on the  bosu ball, and a few other interesting warm-up exercises.  After that, we did the main set.  Figure 8 medicine ball hand-offs.  Sit-ups off the exercise ball.  Bridge + leg raises.  Side plank 5 count and then hold for 20 seconds on the last one.  Reverse sit-up with your partner  adding weight on an 8-count to the floor.  Russian (?) side-to-side situps; this one I have a hard time doing because of my heavier weght distribution on the upper body.  Bicycle situps (left elbow meets right knee).  Back raises off the exercise ball.  And the V situp, where the only part touching the ground is your glutes; again it was hard.

We did the main set twice.  They said that session was relatively hard.  Don’t know.  I didn’t see the plank or pull-ups, which are harder to do I think.  But I did sweat and groaned a lot.  I have done the sets on my own too, so many of the moves were familiar to me.

A teammate and I went for a 45 minute run down to Pacific Beach afterwards.  It was great!

La Jolla Bird Rock

La Jolla Bird Rock

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Where we swim

Where we swim

Camera phone capture. Low tide. Around 5PM in the afternoon.  Favorite venue for open water swims.  From La Jolla Cove to La Jolla Shores (in the distance), it’s about .75 miles so round trip is 1.5 miles.  The buoys are to the left and probably too small to show in any photo.

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So what is a masters runner like me going to do? The pace of workouts is so routine now, it’s just getting boring. Lately I’ve been obsessing about chasing our fastest runner (the rabbit in our story). I figure since I can’t really maintain myself at his pace for very long, I might as well see if I have the explosive power to chase him down if I need to.

The answer to that question is a resounding YES. I can do a 5:30 hard for 400. Okay, I’m just being a pain I know. But somewhere in my twisted mind, I’m thinking that chasing after rabbits will ultimately allow me to unleash my ability to run faster.

I just did a near sub-6 for a mile today. Yes, like a crazy fox chasing after the rabbit. I hope to improve my staying power to two or three miles in the next few months. I don’t have to catch the rabbit, but just finish near his time. That will be a great achievement indeed!

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Some intel here. Not too bad. 90Km. Larger hill is a 230 ft climb 3.5% gradient then 1/3 mile 7.7% gradient. Not really close to Torrey Pines.

Vineman Bike Course Profile

Vineman Bike Course Profile

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And got the following:

  • a rear flasher that straps to the seat post (a new toy perhaps)
  • Perpetuem, plain flavored
  • a full rear wheel assembly with Continental trainer tires and 12-26 SRAM gears. I don’t know what the 12-26 ratio stands for, but they said it’s pretty standard (other choice is a 12-22).

I checked out the Specialized road bikes, but still too steep for me even with the discounted rate. Maybe I can find one that’s not too pricey.

So I walked out of my LBS a little poorer. I think I would have bought the additional rear wheel for the trainer sooner or later. The Continentals are designed for trainers, to cope with the heat better. Normal tires tend to overheat and then cause flats and inner tube replacement.

Trainer wheel

Trainer wheel

BTW, my coach suggested this expensive tool (PowerTap): I need a sponsor now!

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I went up to the coach before track.  I asked if there was a typo in the workout schedule.  It said Z4 1 mile and then Z4 2 miles.  Huh?  He laughed and said it’s right.  Plenty of head shaking in the group, and much nervous energy.

Zone 4 is harder than a 5K pace.  Imagine doing that for a mile.  Now double it.  I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.  One of the coaches caught my sinister laugh when the top coach said that they are watching for slackers saving energy for the later Z4.  He said he was going to watch for me especially.  😉

Started soon enough.  I tried running ahead of the group, just right behind our fastest guy.  It was exhilarating running behind him at Z3 for 2 400s.  His Z3 is 5:45!  Like a fool I followed him around.

When the 1st Z4 hit, I was still able to carry a near-sub 6 for two laps.  And then it got to 6:30s all too soon for the next two.  Overall, it was a decent effort for the Z4 mile.  The few guys who were smart enough to maintain true Z3 in the first set of 400s overtook me in the third lap.

I would need the Z2 for 2-400s to return my breathing to normal.  You know you are in Z4 when you sound like you are having an asthma attack.  Some other runners are better able to run at Z4 quietly, but I’m not one at the moment.  The Z2s would end too soon.

Now the hard Z4 2 miles came.  I did well in the first 4 laps maintaining about 6:30 pace.  The breathing had become more normal (it takes me a while to get warmed up), and now my lungs just felt like burning.  I coasted at 6:30s in laps 5 and 6, but had to fight hard on lap 7.  When lap 8 came, my legs were fried but I managed to get in a sub-6:50 effort down the stretch.

A true Z3 for me is 6:30 and a Z4 is like 6:15.  So this Z4 workout is close to being a fail in the 2 miler.  Only good for the 1 miler.  A fail too for keeping Z3–how is a 5:50 the same as 6:30?  Crazy!

The coach noticed the change in attitude.  Especially when fighting to keep pace in the harder stages.  It’s all good.  This was by far the hardest workout since I’ve run with this group.  Something about a 2 mile Z4 is flat out crazy.  I would run Z5s for 400s quicker than I would go Z4s for 2 miles.  It hurt big-time!

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