A short triathlon update. A couple brief race reports, a training update, and a season overview:
I’m back in Boulder. In early December, I packed up my truck in Wisconsin and pointed ‘er west. So I’ve been back to living and training in Boulder for about 8 weeks. December was pretty relaxed as far as training goes – lots of people were taking holiday and the training was more about burning off Christmas cookies and keeping us mobile than about building serious fitness.
Now its January, and ‘real’ racing is still a long way away – a triathlete might have one or two “A-races” each year, and those aren’t until at least early summer. But just because big time racing is almost 6 months away doesn’t mean we can’t have plenty of fun now! A recap of this month’s training: 2 races, just short of 100 miles of near-threshold running and speed work, over 50,000 yards of swimming and about 650 miles on the bike. So I’d say I’m fairly back into ‘real’ training!
“Resolve 10k” – Jan 2
The team and I headed down to Denver to start off 2016 by crackin’ off a 10k (6.2 miles) running race. By ‘team’, I mean me and the athletes that have the same coach and that do pretty much every workout together. Anyway, me and a some of my teammates decided to do this race for a baseline run fitness test and to get some jollies over the weekend.
My goal for the race was not to ‘blow up’, to try to negative split (second half faster than first half) and maybe to get under 40 minutes for a 10k. It was a two lap race, and I came through the first lap a few seconds under 20 minutes – seemingly right on pace to hit all my goals! Alas, ‘twas not to be. I was pretty gassed after just one lap, and it took some effort to hold it together on the second lap and finish in 40:30 (6:32/mi). So I positive split by about 30 seconds and didn’t quite make the 40-minute mark. But I did manage not to blow up. In the only other 10k that I've raced, I did blow up. In that race, I ran a 6 minute first mile and 9 minute final mile. So this race was a major improvement in even-ish pacing, running the first 3.1 miles in 19:58 and the second 3.1 miles in 20:32.
My teammates all beat me.. But they all race for a living, so I can't really feel bad about that. They came in first (35:45), second, seventh and eigth. I came in ninth. Pretty good, place-wise. And, I won my age group! Always a nice bonus.
And, most importantly, I looked super cool in my baggy star-spangled polo and UW bobble hat.
“Winter Classic 4-Miler” – Jan 30
Yesterday I ran my first cross country race, which was also the shortest race I’ve been in. A quick-hitting 3-lap, 4-mile foot race on the grass and mud, over some hills and around some ponds. This race had some prize money for podium finishers, so I was excited to see who would show up. I was not disappointed – Boulder’s got some really great runners and there were a fair number of them present. At least it looked that way. It actually looked like almost everyone there (40 gents) would probably beat me. Lots of 5’10” to 6’2” and 150-160 lb guys with long and strong legs, no chest, no back, no arms. No extra mass to carry around, just the necessary muscles to propel them forward on foot. Not triathletes, swimmers or cyclists – real runners. And they wore cross country shoes, running shorts and race tops.
I like to keep expectations low, so I wore a t-shirt.
The gun went off and the forty of us started bookin’ it forward on our first of three laps on the grass/dirt/mud surface. It felt like most everyone was running pretty slow, and I thought, “Hey. It’s only 4 miles dude. Let it rip!” So I ran my first lap in 8:27. I guess I start races feeling really, really confident because, per usual, I started waaaaayy too fast. My next lap was 9:07.
By this point in the race I had decided that running cross country is actually really hard. It’s totally different than road racing. You can’t get into a steady and cruisey stride for even for a few steps. The grass is soft compared to a pavement or dirt road, so it robs a lot of your spring/elastic rebound. And it’s uneven, so you use a lot of energy just trying to remain stable. And you have to constantly turn and avoid small obstacles, which may not sound like a big deal, but every tree, cone and bump on the course starts to look like an insurmountable obstacle when your heart is jumping out of your chest at 185 beats per minute.
I pushed hard for the last mile and, as my guts began to revolt, I wondered at the wisdom of eating a bunch of eggs for breakfast on race day. But there were no spectacular displays of gastrointestinal distress, and I made it through the third lap a bit quicker than the second lap, 9:01.
My total time for the 4 miles was 26:35 (8:27, 9:07, 9:01), and that earned me 11th place. I was quite pleased. My running really is coming along – I had hard run workouts on both days preceding this race, and even on the soft grass and hilly course I managed to beat my 10k pace from 4 weeks earlier. On the up and up!
Like I said, there were some real, pure runners there. The winner beat me by over a minute per mile, finishing in 20:56. Whew!
I almost forgot. I’m an “All World Athlete”. Pretty cool! It’s Ironman’s designation for athlete who place in the top 1% of their age group for the year. Last year I ran 3 Ironman races (one 70.3 and two 140.6) and did quite well in all of them, earning me enough points to be in the top 1% of 18-24 year olds in the world. Globally, 4,500 18-24 year old males raced Ironman in 2015. 1,500 were Americans, and, by points, I am ranked 4th in the US.
I’ve mentally broken the season into halves. Right now it’s the first half, and that means base building to strengthen body structures and increase fitness, racing often (relatively short distances), and, above all, staying healthy. As far as racing goes, I have a couple of shorter triathlons picked out and a few on- and off-road running races picked out. I’m really stoked about the running races – I’ve been enjoying the running, my body feels good, and my running is ‘on the up and up’! I’ll keep you updated as I do these races – the next one might be as soon as next weekend (a local half-marathon).
My second half of the season is ‘way-too-long training rides and runs’ and summer racing. I have two “A-races” on the calendar. An “A-race” means that it is a focus of the year, and I’ll taper down the training volume for a week or two leading up to these events, so that on race day I’ll have lots of fitness but will be feeling fresh and ready to absolutely let it rip.
Ironman 70.3 St. George – May 7
Ironman 140.6 Canada – July 24
After those races… well, let’s just wait and see how those races go first. The third half of my season is TBD. Ironman World Championship (Kona), maybe some more 70.3 triathlons, maybe some marathons or an ultra. Maybe even some bike racing. We will see!
Thanks for reading everyone, hopefully everyone is finding a way to get to the gym or get outside for some exercise now that the daytime is getting a bit longer, and talk to you soon with some more training updates and race reports!
And Go Broncos. I guess.