Kelowna Apple Triathlon 2011

Kelowna marks the last A-race of my first true season of triathlon.  And I’m really quite pleased with how the first year turned out.

I’m an average swimmer, a strong cyclist, and a weak runner.

Swim: 27:56/1500m

One year ago, I didn’t know how to swim.  I could barely scramble 25m, with a level of skill barely suitable for swimming at the cottage.  I worked hard through the winter, starting off with 30 minutes in the pool almost every day, until I learned how to do 100m.  Then 200m.  I consider myself a triathlete more than a swimmer, but swimming is certainly not my weak point.

For Apple, my estimated time for the swim was 30 minutes.  I haven’t been setting stretch goals for the swim, just yet.  All I wanted at Apple was to get through the swim, and post something close to 30 minutes.  I got out of the water with two minutes to spare.

The swim itself went reasonably well.  I probably went off course a little, but that will improve with more open water practice and sighting.  All in due time.  My swim speed will increase with practice and technique improvements, and perhaps learning how to have a productive kick!

Transition 1: 1:50

Is it possible to do this faster?  Probably.  I had a few things sitting in my helmet that I had planned to stuff into my back pockets, and that did take a few seconds.  But I did take advantage of some cool tricks, like leaving my goggles and swim cap inside my wetsuit sleeve, having my shoes pre-clipped to the pedals, and racking over the back of the saddle.

Bike: 1:08:10 (35.2km/h)

This bike course was awesome.  I felt strong and fast.  I was only a few minutes off the #1 position on the bike course, and even so, placing within the top sixth of finishers on the bike course is nothing to sneer at.  I worked on keeping loose, and finding that balance between effort and ease.  I rode according to plan, pushing hard up Knox, then spinning free throughout the rest of the course.

Transition 2: 1:05

This clocking represents mostly the run through transition, from the bike entrance to the run exit.   Once my bike was racked, helmet off, shoes on, I was back out on the course.  The only way I think I could improve this time would be to be a faster runner.  I’m by no means disappointed with this.

Run: 1:00:54 (6:06/km)

Yes, the run is my weakness.  I’ve been battling IT-band issues for the last half of the season, and haven’t really been focussed on improving my run speed.  Though I did maintain my roughly 6:00/km average, and that was my goal.

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Intention: Living a life without expectation

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering lately.  I believe it’s possible to live a life without creating unreasonable expectations of self and others.

I’ve come to see that expectation leads to disappointment.  I’ve joked occasionally that this is why it’s good to live life as a pessimist: out of the two possible outcomes, a pessimist is either proven correct by the negative outcome, or pleasantly surprised in a positive outcome.  Truthfully though, I tend to be an eternal optimist.  I’m driven by seeing what’s possible rather than what is.

So, something’s going to happen in the future.  We know that in most situations, we don’t have the direct ability to affect the outcome.  Sure, we might want things to happen a certain way, but there are so many factors outside of our control (say, for the weather to improve, or for my local barista to make me a respectable mocha).  I don’t doubt that you can think of a few examples from your own life where something happened that didn’t involve your input.

When I create expectation about things that I don’t control, and then attach the emotion of disappointment or satisfaction to them, that must be serving me in some way, right?  Disappointment first: Now I get to complain about something that wasn’t done right.  Someone messed up, and it wasn’t me.  I’m right, and you’re wrong.  Alternatively, let’s say things went well.  Now I get to take credit for it, but really never had any claim on the outcome in the first place.  But being right sure feels good, doesn’t it?

Really though, people don’t often do what I think they should.  And inevitably, I can find something wrong with the weather.  Maybe it’ll be too hot.  Maybe it won’t be windy enough to fly a kite.  And, that mocha, it’s a little too bitter today.  These things are outside of our individual control.  We created an expectation, and we were disappointed.  And then usually, we turn that disappointment into “I’m not good enough” or “Why does the world hate me?”

My rejection of expectation doesn’t come from a rejection of the responsibility that comes with living in a set of communities or in a family.  On the contrary: It is a wholehearted acceptance of responsibility.  Real, personal responsibility.  It’s taking back responsibility for the things in your life that you can affect real, positive change.

But what about things that are inside our control?  For me in my training, I could conceivably expect to make a certain time at my next race.  Easy.  I’ll have no problem coming in under an hour on this or that.  I can do that in my sleep, practically.  And if that’s true, there’s really no point hitting the spin class tonight, so I’ll go see a movie and eat a tub of buttered popcorn instead.

The astute will see what happened there: I was able to completely absolve responsibility for my training, leaving it entirely up to fate, if you will.

On one hand, it might be reasonable to expect things of yourself.  You’re in control of your own destiny.  But on the other hand, we don’t really know what’s around that next corner.  It might be something good, or it might be something bad.  But we can definitely learn from it.

Race Report: Subaru Vancouver International Triathlon

Pre-Race

I take a lot more time than I need to in setting up my transition area.  And I seem to underestimate how long it takes to get my wetsuit on, and get a short warm-up swim in.

Swim

I put myself right in the middle of the pack at the swim start.  Just a sprint, so I figured it’d be a good place to learn how to be in a solid mass of swimmers.  It wasn’t nearly as nerve-racking as I expected.  What was nerve racking, however, was that in all the excitement after my warm-up swim, I forgot to bring my goggles back down off my forehead.  Considering this was only my second open-water race (and the first time racing in the ocean), let’s chalk that up to a “beginner” thing.  Moving on…

During the first third of the swim, I had a few spots where I felt a bit panicked.  Partially from having to goggle-up mid-stroke.  Actually, that misstep probably set me back a lot, as there was water in my goggles, and that shot my stress level right up.  So I took a few short breaks to tread water.

I did remember to push “start” on my watch, though.

Transition 1

I had a gel in my back pocket, which I ate heading into T1.  My initial plan was to take some plain water (in a bottle that I had sitting in T1) before heading out onto the bike course, as I was only carrying liquid nutrition on the bike, given the duration and temperature.  I forgot to take that sip of plain water.  Not sure if that worked against me in the long run.

Bike

The bike went about as well as I wanted it to.  I was in my smallest gear (34:25) only for a few short climbs, and spent a lot of time much further down the cassette.  I kind of wished I had an 11-tooth cog on the back for this course, as there are some really nice long downhill sections where I was maxed out in the big ring at 50:12.  I’m kind of thinking I might like to try out an 11-23 cassette.  I won’t deny drafting: I definitely did as much as I could: but only 20 seconds at a time!  Passed a bunch of people on the bike, and a bunch of people passed me.

Transition 2

Reasonably quick transition off the bike.  I ran a few steps past my place on the rack, got in a gel for the run, and a quick sip of that plain water I had left there.  Forgot to pull the elastics on my racing flats, and I ended up running the entire 5k with slightly loose shoes.  They kind of worked well enough without being super-tight.  It was unplanned, but I kind of like the fact that I don’t have to worry about lacing up.

Run

My eternal 28-minute 5k.  It’s about par for the course, for me.  I really should work on improving my run off the bike.  More bricks and speedwork is on my radar.

Finish

Final clock was 1:26:43, which is a sprint PR for me.  Yay!

All in, I was happy with how things went today, and I have a few things to learn from for next time.  Namely:

  • 30 minutes lead time before wave start to get wetsuit on, and get in the warm-up swim, to reduce the stress and likelihood of forgetting something like goggles.
  • If the race plan calls for a sip of plain water in T1, that bottle needs to go inside my upside-down helmet, or somewhere I won’t miss it.
  • Transition towel needs to be sticking out a little further, and also not orange.  The inside of a lot of wetsuits are orange, and that made it blend in.  Also, I was shocked to find an Orbea parked in my spot when I got back from the bike course.

12 minutes left

Uggh, riding on the trainer is super boring. But with the iPad nestled on my aerobars, it’s a perfect opportunity to write a quick blog post about my training. I have 59 days until Oliver, and feel like it’s more of a challenge than I’m ready for. I got to the 1 hour mark on tonight’s ride and thought to give up, but then I remembered something: this feels amazing, to be spinning away, watching movies on the iPad, and sweating up a storm. Tomorrow I swim & run. And now, I only have a few minutes left on tonight’s ride, so it’s time to give it my all. Happy training!

Awesome Running Music

Gobbledigook by Sigur Rós

This is first on my playlist, because it’s my “I can run forever” song. It’s true. I can run forever with this one. At 89bpm, it’s almost perfect for running cadence. And that persistent drum takes my mind away and lets me just fly through the run. I actually stuck this one single song on repeat through some of my longest runs last season.

One by U2

The song isn’t as energetic as those found on kick-your-ass cardio playlists, but that’s exactly the point. For running at a 91spm cadence, and tricking your heart rate to relax a little, this is one awesome song for the iPod.

That Girl by Esthero

93bpm. This one brings the pace up a little, but still feels kind of relaxed. Running is dancing.

Tya by Akwaba

You might expect this one in a yoga studio instead of a runner’s iPod, but once the beat kicks in (at a solid 92bpm), you guessed it: running bliss.

Here are a few more:

  • Metronomic Underground by Stereolab
  • Last Dance by The Cure
  • Mr. Hurricane by Beast
  • Army Of Me by Björk
  • Useless (Kruder & Dorfmeister) by Depeche Mode
  • Die Gedanken Sind Frei by Brazillian Girls

2010 In Review

I almost forgot, I have a training blog.  Yes, it’s been a while.  But, since we’re in the closing days of the year, what better time to sit back and reflect on the training year and race season gone by?

Early in the year, I was kind of aimless in my training.  I occasionally set out from my old place, across the bridge and back.  I was a SportMedBC Sun Run InTraining Clinic leader again, but didn’t actually run the 10k because my physio told me not to.  I sat back and watched the clinic participants cross the finish line, and nursed my leg back to health.

In June, I started a 13-week training program for my first half-marathon.  I completed my first half-marathon in October.

In July, I got a road bike and tricked it out with aero bars and a tri-specific saddle.  In August, I found a swimmer to team up with, and raced the last two legs of the sprint-distance triathlon in Sooke.  My bike split was respectable, but not being used to running off the bike, I felt really slow on the 5k run (28 minutes).

In August, I also went to Kelowna to watch Paula Findlay and Simon Whitfield kick ass, and to cheer on a few friends at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon.  I rode the Oly bike course the day before the race, and made plans to sign up for 2011.

Total distances for 2010: Swim 46k, Bike 925k, Run 697k.

You don’t have to go for a run.

There’s no shame in not running! Don’t run. It’s ok! Just go put on your running shorts. You don’t have to go running. Once you have those on, go ahead and put on a running shirt. Still, you don’t have to go running. But you’ve got to put something on your feet, so put on those running socks. And once that’s done, put on the running shoes.

Well, seeing as you’re all suited up, might as well go for a run!

And remember, you only have to run halfway. Once you’ve run halfway, turn around and run home.

A Fish with a Bicycle