Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back into training

My training program dictates that this is the week I begin my official running training once again. As it is a three key run per week training program, I had to begin yesterday (Tuesday) with my workouts because Monday was dedicated to the GJCC triathlon. I am already finding it difficult to squeeze a minimum amount of training into my already full days. (I work two jobs from 4:00am to 4:00pm and absolutely can't function on less than 7 hours of sleep, leaving me with five hours a day to divide between home and family, church and community, and training.) Sundays are dedicated entirely to family and church, so there's no training on those days, which leaves Saturdays to fill with the rest. So, my long runs and rides fall on Saturdays. Of course, that only takes care of 1/3 of my workouts each week, so I have to steal time on Tuesdays and Thursdays for running workouts and MWF for swim/bike workouts. I do try and knock out a bike workout each morning and ride to work (14 miles round trip,) but even that's sporadic right now. I'm not complaining, just trying to figure out where to find the "extra" time.

But perhaps it's better to look at what I have been able to accomplish.

Yesterday marked the first interval training workout I have done since early December. I distinctly remember freezing my backside off at the track on December 6 and rejoicing that I was completing the last of my interval workouts for the Kiawah Island Marathon. I swore to myself that I would not go back out on that track until spring, when I could run and actually feel my extremities. Here I am now, more than six months later, finally getting back to the track. I left work yesterday at 4pm and headed over to the track. Mercifully, the clouds had moved into the area and the 89 degree temperature from 3pm had given way to a much nicer 80-82 degrees, with a mild breeze. The rain even remained at bay until I was running the last repeat. All the same, I wasn't looking forward to running 10 X 400m intervals @ 1:27, with a 400m rest in between. When I wrote up my plan, I scaled back my time requirements thinking that after six months, I would have a tough time getting back into running for VO2max. I was half right. I fought the gremlin in my head from about the second interval to the sixth. He was trying to get me to cheat out of the last few intervals. I ignored him and his complaints and got down to running. I averaged a 1:21 pace for all ten of the repeats, so for as much psychological complaining I experienced during the workout, my body still responds well to the high intensity runs. (When I finished my Kiawah plan, I was running the 400m repeats in about 1:14.) I have plenty of room to improve, but the road back may not be as difficult as I originally thought. I actually experienced a few minutes yesterday (after the sixth repeat or so) when I remembered that I once ENJOYED running repeats.

All in all, yesterday's workout was challenging both physically and mentally, but rewarding through and through. Fortunately for me, there are at least two people who have read my blog and thanks to you guys, I feel accountable enough to actually get out there and run. That's what the blog is for, so thanks for being here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I am now a triathlete

Today was my first triathlon. There wasn't much to the race as a whole, but after a 200+ meter swim, 8.5 mile bike ride, and 2 mile run, I can officially call myself a triathlete. I spent most of the weekend psychologically preparing for the race, because there was little physical preparation that I could do so close to a race. Saturday morning I practiced the swim to bike transition a few times and got to where I felt comfortable racing through the whole ordeal. Sunday afternoon was the pre-race meeting and I tried to size up the competition, but that only made me nervous. I learned that you can never tell who your main competition is, and body type means little in this sport. I had to remind myself over and over again that I was only out there to compete against myself. I decided an acceptable goal time to finish in would be under 45:00. If I could do that, I would be pleased with my performance.

I crossed the finish mat in 44:53.
Update: Split times Swim 0:03:44.02 T1 0:01:54.91 Bike 0:25:32.00 T2 0:00:40.99 Run 0:13:01.75 Total 0:44:53.66

That finish was good enough to secure me thirteenth place overall and first place in the overall male beginner category. I guess that's not bad as a debut into the sport of competitive triathlon.

With all that over with, now I have to work on my distances. I can compete well in a sprint triathlon, but what happens when you double, triple, or even 10X the distance? I know where I have strengths and I know I have a lot of weaknesses. Now all I have to do is buckle down and really get after this training program. Any goal worth pursuing is going to require sacrifice. What matters most is that I now know that I can do it. Today's victory just gives me a little incentive to stay focused on the big goal while working toward the next little goal.

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend, whether at the GJCC or anywhere else in the world. You've spent your holiday weekend well.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tapering and Fine Tuning

I focused my workout yesterday on the swim portion of the triathlon. Rather than just get in and swim the usual laps and intervals, I thought it would make sense to practice entering the pool, swimming the distance, and exiting the pool. I like to think I am a fairly decent swimmer and expect to do well on the swim portion of Monday's triathlon, but I also know that there is far more to be lost than gained in the swim portion of a triathlon. 200 meters can burn you out fast if you don't control yourself. Like any race, I suppose the same theory applies: go out slowly and then increase speed as you approach the end. A few weeks ago I tried sprinting for the full 200 meters and couldn't swim 150 without a break. A day later, I got in the pool and swam a very relaxed 200 meters in 3:30. It's certainly not record pace, but it's fast enough to let me get onto the bike without exerting too much energy or leaving me with too much time to make up. Yesterday I practiced swimming with my cap and goggles on, entering the pool, swimming the distance and exiting the pool. I don't know exactly how the triathlon will be done, but I want to get a feel for hoisting myself out of the pool and getting into the transition area quickly and into the more lengthy parts of the race. Tomorrow I will practice the swim to bike transition a few times. If anything, my transitions will be the places where I lose the most time. I'd hate to lose a race there, so I will practice...
My physical condition is not going to improve any between now and Monday, so I am carefully working out the race particulars in my mind. I have grown quite fond of visualization and meditation over the past year, and it is helping me gear up for Monday.
Beyond that, there's no additional training that I am going to try at this point.
My 27-week training plan begins next week and the triathlon will be a nice way to "kick off" my summer season.
Good luck to everyone racing this weekend, no matter what the sport, and STAY SAFE!!!!!
Hopefully I can post a few race pictures on Monday or Tuesday...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Of Bricks and things

I thought yesterday would be a good day to get out to the GJCC and practice the course (at least the bike and the run) and try and get a feel for what Monday's race is going to be like. It was beautiful weather yesterday, perhaps even hot. (I hope there's a string of these kind of days between now and Monday so the pool will be a little warmer...)
Well, the JCC was closed, but I parked outside and jumped on my bike and rode the bike course. At 5pm, there was plenty of traffic to have to worry about and I lost a few seconds waiting at a few of the intersections, but overall I had a great ride and feel comfortable with the course and my abilities to get through it quickly. When I got back to the JCC, I left my bike with my family, threw on my running shoes, and 13 seconds later was running (if you can call it that) down the road on the quick, two-mile run course. I realized 50 meters into the run that I hadn't drunk any water during my transition and rather than turn back, steeled myself for a miserable two miles.
The nice thing about this brick was that it only took about 4 minutes of running before my legs found their stride again and I was able to run comfortably. I fought the gremlin in my head over and over as he kept whispering "You can slow down... You're not competing today... You're only out here to see the course... Don't push yourself too hard..." I HATE THAT GREMLIN!!! He almost talked me out of pushing myself to the end of the Kiawah Island Marathon where I BARELY qualified for Boston (with 7 seconds to spare.) So, needless to say, I have demon troubles when I run, competitively or not. Fortunately I was able to convince myself that I could tolerate running "hard" for two miles and then I could stop and recover if I wanted. I finished the run well within a competitive time range based on last year's results. If all goes as well on Monday as it has this week in training, I may be very competitive. Of course, there are a lot of unknowns in a race like this and it's possible that there's a sleeper out there who woke up a week ago and decided to run his first triathlon on Memorial Day. The good thing about running, biking and swimming is that you are only really competing against yourself and the clock. If you happen to finish first in a couple of races, that's nice, but the greatest thing is that you actually got out there and did it.
Anyone who finishes any race regardless of the time it took him or her to do it is far more accomplished than the person who never tried.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

2006 training schedule

This is my anticipated training schedule for my running races through December 2, 2006. I have several race goals I would like to meet along the way, each of them in bold. This training plan follows the "FIRST to the Finish" plan organized by the excellent team at Furman University. I have extended the workout calendar significantly and made some personal adjustments to distances and times based on my level of fitness and goals. This is NOT a generic training plan that anyone can use. It may give you some ideas, but if you would like a similar plan, please visit the FIRST website.

You can see my training plan HERE

(Links open in a new window)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tour de Nash

On Saturday, May 20, I competed my first metric century ride (62 miles.) I have only had my bike for three weeks and the Tour de Nash seemed like a nice event to try out and get a feel for how my body holds up for several hours on the bike. Aside from a rider who kept getting right in front of me and spitting (she only hit me twice,) the ride was pleasant and I had a lot of fun. I met a few people and got to experience riding in a group for the first time in my life. Group riding may seem counterproductive to training for an Ironman triathlon because out there you are on your own, no drafting, no companionship, but it was the distance I was shooting for and I am trying to get involved with the cycling community anyway. Solo rides will come later.
I completed the ride in 4:05, not subtracting about 12-15 minutes for rest stops and missed turns. Unfortunately, I don't yet have a cyclocomputer to keep track of my own speed and distance, but some of the riders in the group said we averaged 17mph for the first 34 miles. That's pretty good, considering we were riding in downtown Nashville traffic the entire time. I still have a lot of work to do to get to an average 20mph or better for the Ironman, but I'm pleased with my performance on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised at my performance on the hills. That seems to be a fairly strong point for me.
This week I am going to taper a little for the GJCC tri on Monday. (Although it is hard to taper from a training routine that hasn't really existed.) All the same, I want to be well-rested for the tri on Memorial Day.
I'm working on my training plan. I should have a tentative schedule up on my personal site in the next day or so. I'll link my blog to it once I have reached that point.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Training plans and goals

Following are some of the events I intend to compete in along my path to Kona. Hopefully each of them will have a certain amount of merit as training runs even if they are on the list for obscure reasons (which I will try to make clear as I list them.)

May 20, 2006: Tour de Nash. A 62-mile "fun ride" to support Music City Moves and Walk/Bike Nashville. No competition, but a 62-mile training ride may be good, if only for getting me used to the bike.

May 29, 2006: Sprint Triathlon in Nashville. GJCC tri. Good for beginners, hopefully I can do well and place top three.

June 24, 2006: Harpeth Century Ride. Another non-competitive ride, but again, with a 100-mile century, I can actually get a feel for what type of strain that kind of distance puts on my body.

July 22 or 29, 2006: Sprint Triathlon in either Pulaski or Lebanon, TN.

Sept 24, 2006: Six GAP ride- Georgia. A difficult ride with HUGE elevation changes. This is only a maybe at this point, but it would certainly be nice to be capable of riding it by then.

Oct 8, 2006: San Jose 1/2 Marathon. I don't usually run a lot of half marathons, but my brother is willing to run this one, so I am going to run it with him. I'm not sure if I am looking to be competitive in this race or if I will pace him.

Nov 4, 2006: Midsouth Championship Marathon, Wynne, AR. I'd like to use this one as a training run for St. Jude Memphis in December. This race is too much fun not to run.

Dec 2, 2006: St. Jude Memphis Marathon. This is supposed to be a flat and fast race, so I am shooting for a sub-three hour marathon here. This is my number one running goal in preparing for the Ironman.

April 16, 2007: Boston Marathon. I have already qualified and owe myself this race. What marathoner doesn't dream of running Boston? This is my chance.

April or May 2007: Half Ironman distance in Florida, Arizona, or California. Still undecided on what and when.

November 2007: Ironman Florida. This should be my qualifying race for Kona 2008. According to current results and age group information, I will need to finish the distance in around 9:30:00 or faster to earn a slot at Kona.

October 11, 2008: Ironman World Championship, Kona, HI.

There will be other 5 and 10k races, as well as century rides that I will add into the mix, but these are the major ones thus far.
I'll be posting a link to my running training program in the next day or two, with a basic triathlon training program to follow in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

First things FIRST

This is the best training program I have ever seen. It's designed for runners, but the way it is structured allows for easy adaptation to triathlon training.


A new blog and a serious goal.

I am new to the blog scene, but I think this may turn out to be a pretty nice tool to have along the way. The blog title is Scott's Road to Kona, and I am writing this blog as an additional tool in my personal training for the Ironman World Championships held on October 11, 2008 in Kona, Hawaii.
For several years now, I have thought it would be cool to compete in the Ironman World Championships. For most of my life, I was too lazy to even look into what it may require for me to get there. Now I know.
Three years ago I began running and have since competed in seven marathons with a personal best time of 3:10:52. I have qualified for, but not yet run the Boston Marathon, so that is another goal I have. This year on Memorial Day (May 29) I will be competing in my first triathlon ever. This will mark my entry into the sport of triathlon, and although I hope I can continue running and competing in triathlons for many years to come, my main goal is to qualify for and compete in the Ironman World Championships.
I originally thought that I could set a 10-year time limit on this goal and be there before I am 40, but upon researching the race, I found that the 2008 competition will be held on my birthday, October 11. Therefore, I adjusted the goal and here I am.
As this blog develops, I will include a list of races I intend to run, my training plans and logs, and any other pertinent information that will get me (and anyone else interested) to Kona in 2008.