Monday, April 18, 2011

ZX Aquathlon - Race 1

So it has happened. Race 1 of my season has come and gone. this past weekend I took part in the 1st (annual?) ZX Aquathlon in Greenwood. Yes, the same Greenwood that has hosted a great early season Tri and Du for the past few years.

Now what is an Aquathlon you may ask? Much like a Duathlon is a run/bike/run event, the Aquathlon is a swim and run event. Technically run/swim/run, but as that would be hard to do in a pool situation so it was turned into a swim/run event. 750 meter swim followed by a 5K run.

Being early season I was slightly concerned about what to wear and how to get changed in transition. I mean, it is April and the weather over the last week had been as high as 15 C or more and as low as -3. we had seen rain and snow. But in the end I decided to load the car with everything just in case.

By the time I arrived the temp had warmed up to 6C or so. The sun was sort of shining and the wind was picking up. So I decided to run in my Tri top and jammers and throw on a windbreaker and toque. Luckily T1 (or T only) was indoors so that was nice.

We had enough time to do a few warm up laps in the pool. That is always nice as my heart rate starts to sky rockets at the beginning of events and as a novice swimmer that generally leads to breathing issues. A few laps back and forth and a little breathing control and things calmed down. I had a nice lane mate Mallory.

Someone yelled go, or a whistle blew or a horn sounded or something. I can't quite remember that part of the event for some reason. I just remember starting to swim. And swim. And swim. Yeah, I know only 750 meters, but for me that seemed like an all day journey.

I knew I was going to be slow and as shown in the picture above, my widely spread fingers apparently don't make me any faster. Anyway, I eventually saw the board placed in the water to indicate I had 50 meters to go. So I "picked up" the pace a bit and finished. In the end I had a swim time of 18:41, which included transition time as well. So it was actually pretty much where I thought I would be. In the end that would place me 24th out of 30 swimmers for the day. Obviously for a decent result I would have to run fast.

The whole event was pretty flat. Well generally swims are I suppose, but so was the run. Sort of.

I threw on my windbreaker, number belt, toque and sneakers (socks? nah too short of a race).

Now windbreaker is a bit of a funny word. Turns out it may be good for light breezes but this race presented slightly more than breezes. It was darn windy, from what I can tell there were gusts up to 80km/hr throwing us around. That little jackets didn't do much, though at points I think it was more of a parachute.

I ran at what i thought was a comfy 5K pace, not having really ever run after a swim. Slowly I picked off a few other swimmers, then some more, then some more (well that sounds like there may have been tons of people in the swim, but still you get the idea). By the turn around (where I was offered a cup of warm water) I had passed all I was going to an down had to work to get my time down and keep those others behind me. I also thought it may have started to rain at this point, but in fact that was sand getting whipped around by the wind. Later on that would hurt.

Finally after running up hill (okay, it was truly flat but that wind was like a huge hill it seemed), I came to the finishing straight, or wind tunnel. Yes, the wind was harder here, perfect for testing out new aero devices for your bike. Not great for a sprint finish. Still I pushed through and finished. Man that was tough. 21:50 for the 5th fastest run time and only 2 1/2 minutes shy of our speedy Italian friend Gianluca. I was happy, and that wind probably meant I had more speed to give, nice.

So after all was said and done I pulled myself up from 24th to 14th. I thought at best I would be under 42 minutes in total, and I managed a 40:31. Now bring on the open water! (eek). Actually next up, Du-It-For-Shelter. Sign up now for a great race. Again, mostly flat, all fast.

Oh, when I mentioned the sand storm thing hurt later. Well it put lots of nice sand in my shoes, and as I had no socks on, I ended up with many fun abrasions. Today brings painful steps to me. Ouch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Long Slow - Ride?

Yes, we have all begun our long slow runs. Well maybe some of us have, maybe some haven't and maybe some won't. But to those that swim, ride and run, endurance is often over looked in the quest for speed. I know I was generally guilty of this in the past. I mean the runs were only going to be 5 or 6K max. So why run more. Just practice those faster right? So that is what I did.

But this year I added a half marathon to my goals. So the long slow run was added as a necessity. And what did it do? It surely didn't hurt my speed. In fact it allowed my shorts runs to be faster as I could now hold my higher speeds for just that little extra. So this must work on the bike right?

Again, in the past I road hard as long as I could. It was fun, I got tired, I did pretty well in races, though again, by the end of the ride I was running out of steam. So I decided this year to do the same thing as running. The long slow ride.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have finally incorporated my heart rate monitor into my training. Sure power would be better, but my budget is low and I have a HRM already. So armed with my newly gained knowledge of my heart rate zones (see lactic tests from a few posts back) I have been heading out for 2 plus hour rides, attempting to keep an nice even pace, one that stay aerobic and easy.

Sure you Iron folks out there probably already do this. And I am sure many of you smarter short distance folks do it as well. But for those that aren't doing it, give it a try. I am amazed at how much longer I can now hold a high paced time trial like effort. Or better yet, how my bike during a triathlon style workout can be done at an increased while still easy on my legs like effort.

There is still a little while before the first events start to happen. Well the bike events anyway. Until then I am really starting to enjoy this "off season" training.