I am a NINJA triathlete

Every morning I move in stealth (to not wake up my household) while heading from my bed to my workout. I am learning to move in silence, to hold my breathe and exhale at just the right moment, to open my gel pack without a sound, to run the tap to fill my glass without the sound of water and to open and close doors without evidence I was even there.

I am a Ninja triathlete.

4:50am the alarm goes off… Quietly. I have the alarm turned down so much I can barely hear it and it won’t disturb my wife. I get up without moving the bed and slide on my work out clothing. Not easy when it’s Lycra or a fitted Under Armour shirt and if not executed correctly it makes that “slap” sound.

Negotiate the bedroom door without waking my 11 month old. If he wakes up the workout is blown. Workout is over before it even began.

I live in a 30 yr old dojo so Continue reading

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Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Race Day!

After training for six weeks where did it get me?

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It got me to the point that I raced my heart out and still felt pretty good the next day. I was able to race for 1:19 and love every minute of it. It brought back memories of when I was in middle school and public school running cross country. I remembered what it was like to give it your all and wonder if I could have raced harder.

The race day was pouring rain and the winds were so bad. They ended up canceling the swim portion of the triathlons because of 8 foot swells. All events turned in to a duathlon. They were contemplating canceling the bike portion too because the water was starting to flood the roads however they decided it was safe enough to race on.

It was raining right up until they started the race so I was wearing a shell to shield some of the rain. However since it had stopped raining I started to over heat once the run started. I was used to gauging my effort with a heart rate monitor and speedometer. My hr monitor wasn’t working for the first half of the run. We started out and it seemed to me like everyone was going slow. I was second guessing myself thinking that it was just my adrenaline but decided to pick up the pace. I ran by two dozen people and got in to a good rhythm. I decided to grab some water half way through the 5k and forgot to squeeze the cup to make it easier to drink out of. I wasn’t used to drinking while running and ended up choking because I breathed some in. I found it kind of funny and decided to wait until the first transition to grab another drink.

I ran the transition a couple of times so that I knew where my bike was and that I could find it while moving at a good pace. I strongly recommend actually running between transition zones in the same path as you will be during the race. Plus you can use it as part of your warm up.

I was used to pacing myself with the speedometer but that want working… Should have tested that. I started riding and everything was going well. I grabbed some water and when putting the bottle back in the cage I thought it was clipped in but it wasn’t and I dropped the bottle. If it had fallen off the road I would have left it but it stayed right in the middle of where the next bikes would be coming and I pictured someone riding over it and wiping out so I stopped, turned around and grabbed it.

My pacing was okay but was slow compared to what I was used to. I usually paced around 30-32 kmh but the race times showed that I was only moving around 27kmh. This added about 4 mins to my time. The rest of the ride was pretty steady. I realized that having a quick pedal is really beneficial, also known as cadence. There were lots of people flying by me on. It was a quick out and back. 10k out, turn around and take the same course back to transition. Just before getting back to me I had a close call with a big dog that it’s owners we’re walking. It lounged at me an came pretty close. Luckily there was no incident.

Back at transition I grab some more water and almost forgot to leave the bike helmet. It would have looked silly running with it. I felt great coming out of transition and was really moving. I got on the run and quickly realized my calves were cramping up. I had to pull back the pace. I let my calves calm down for a few minutes then picked up the pace again. My first 5k was 22:44 so my time for the second run of 2.5k should have been half that. I actually did a lot better and ran it in 10:06. I ended up sprinting at the end and passed a group of 4 people. Felt good right at the end.

My lessons learned:

Run the transition areas.
Leave the bike in an easy gear.
Keep the transition are clean.
Make sure your electronics are working.
Hydrate plenty.
Make sure you properly put bake your water bottle.
Dress appropriately.
Get to the race site at a MINIMUM of an hour before start.
Don’t leave any effort behind and give it your all.
I say this a lot and I think its my motto: Finish Strong. Meaning work hard until you are complete. That includes the last foot that crosses the finish line.

Most of all: Have fun.

My goal is to run 5k in 20 mins flat next season.

Next season I’m definitely in for some more races.

Sink or Swim – Learning to swim a Triathlon

So I’ve never been much of a swimmer. Okay I know the basics but have never done any competitions and certainly didn’t train. Now with my new triathlon endeavors I want to learn to swim. Up until 2 weeks ago I could easily do the breast stroke for a bit but could only do the front crawl for maybe 25 meters – that’s one length of the pool. After 25 meters of front crawl I was out of breathe. After 4 visits to the pool I’m swimming 50 meter lengths pretty well and do about 10 lengths with 15-30 second breaks between laps. I think my detriments stemmed from poor technique. I had three issues:

1. Panicked when I had my head underwater.
2. Had trouble breathing and definitely didn’t know what getting in to a rhythm felt like.
3. Would get tired very quickly.

Off I went to learn on my own how to swim. First I looked on the internet. I came across this great YouTube video that showed how to swim and was all about swimming without stress. The most helpful exercise was side balancing. When I did this I realized that I can kick and move forward while keeping my mouth out of the water to breathe. Knowing this helped me know that I can simply stop using my arms and take a break while still moving forward and get some air. Detriment #1: overcome.

There were two tricks that I found to really help. First was learning to breathe. This article talks about leaving your head in the water so that it pushes the water away from your face and leaves a pocket to breathe in. Check it out here.

Second trick was Thumb to Thigh. This helps create a long swim stroke and encourages follow through. Basically the stroke your arm should extend all the way so that your thumb hits your thigh before exiting the water. I say this to myself as I’m swimming. It also helps to slow things down. Detriment #2: overcome.

Apparently swim clubs train in high heart rate zones but a smart triathlete wants to be fast and exit the water with a conservative heart rate so that when you hop on the bike you’re starting from 10-20 beats per min less than you would if you were going all out. This should give you more energy and a better time on the bike which is the longest event. Check out this great article.

Next I needed a plan. I bought the book Training Plans for Multisport Athletes by Gale Bernhardt which is really awesome. It has a great recap of how to train, types of training (aerobic/anaerobic… What?), VO2 Max (What?), nutrition and other great things. One of the great things about this book is that it has plans for people without much time in the week, plans for people with an event coming up soon and also plans for people who have longer periods of time to train. I’m following the 6 weeks to an Olympic Triathlon plan and the first swim is 10 lengths of 50 meters. Hard for a newbie like me. Detriment #3: overcomING

Practice, practice, practice… Or should I say practice SMART.

With my goal of doing two Olympic tris this summer with a half ironman in the fall I’m confident that with time I’ll be able to do the 1,500 m and 1,900 m that’s required.

Weekday swims are 5:30am starts and Sunday mornings at 7:30am. I don’t swim any longer than 30 mins at a time.

Happy swimming.

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Sep 6, 2012

2 days before the race.

I pulled my hamstring last Wednesday and it seems to be healing okay. I can still feel that it’s injured but is still fully functional. I did a 5k run this morning without pushing myself really hard. It’s the last workout I’ll do before the race. Tomorrow just a warm up and stretch. I feel good and prepared to complete but I don’t feel that my times are very fast. From the weekend work out I realized that I need to remember to push myself and not hold back. Also form on both run and bike. Breathing is another to focus on.

I’m seeing a physiotherapist today for a number of reasons. First is about my hamstring. Second about training an how to stay healthy with advice for preventative measures. Third is about triathlon specific training which should cover all three sports. Also my left ankle was hurting me on the weekend so that’ll be another area to look at.

Times were:
1:46,135
2:05,152
1:48,154
1:58,155
1:56,157
1:55,157
1:59,157
1:54,158
1:56,158
1:55,159
1:53,160
1:44,162

Total = 22:55
Avg hr = 153
Peak hr = 167

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Sep 2, 2012

Did a mock race all on the road. I found a 5k loop and used that for run and bike. Felt good even after a hamstring pull 4 days before. I learned that I need to push harder on the initial 5k and the bike. My legs felt like rubber after the bike on the second run. Going from the bike trainer to the road I noticed how when I pedal the bike moves forward while I stay in one place. I noticed fatigue on my lower back but it wasn’t bad. Times and HR were:

24:11,157

T1: 1:50,148

10:00,154
10:43,152
10:42,151
11:10,150 – ran in to traffic and got delayed
1:42,153 time after 20k before T2

T2: 1:25,152

2.5km run: 12:26,155

Total time: 1:24
Avg hr 154
Peak hr 167

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Aug 27, 2012

I woke up at 4am today. Crawled out of bed at 4:15. Grabbed some water and a power gel and ran to the track for 4:30. Started running at 4:35. It was hot and humid out. Weird for that time of day. Did a quick 12 laps and 20k on the bike. I felt good immediately after. I slept on the train for 30 mins and was doing pretty good. As the day goes on I’m feeling worse. My legs are really hurting from not moving around and when I tried to stretch I was getting Charlie horses. I think I was a bit dehydrated. I’ve had more than 2L of water and it’s only 1pm. My lungs feel very tired as well. Here’s my times and heart rates:

1. 1:41,134
2. 1:52,153
3. 1:51,155
4. 1:51,156
5. 1:50,158
6. 1:50,159
7. 1:53,158
8. 1:58,157
9. 1:51,157
10. 1:55,158
11. 1:57,157
12. 1:53,158

Run from track to home fast: 2:54,156

Transition to bike: 3:03, 127

Bike 5k legs:
9:26, 148
9:55, 150
10:14, 145
9:45, 149

Total time: 1:07

Avg hr 150
Peak hr 161
42 min at avg 148
22 min at avg 157

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Aug 15, 2012

Started to do 5k this morning and my timing was horrible. Very labored running and I couldn’t pick up the pace. I kept trying harder but felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Times and hr are by lap for the continuous 2k that I managed to run are:

1. 1:37 avg hr 134
2. 1:50 avg hr 155
3. 1:45 avg hr 159
4. 1:50 avg hr 161
5. 1:50 avg hr 161
Sprinting:
1:25 avg hr 154
1:31 avg hr 155

Total avg hr 154
Peak hr 169
Out of the 15 mins running 9 was spent at an avg of 160 hr

It was really foggy and couldn’t see 100m. I’m wondering if the water in the air prevented me from getting enough oxygen to run faster and for longer. I have times for 5 laps and walked 100m then did 400m sprint. Also I wonder how much my intervals on the bike from yesterday affected my run?

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day. I was tired today and didn’t really feel like running starting out the run I just tried to shut off my brain that was yelling to stop running and go relax. I managed to turn down the volume in that thought and just put one foot in front of the other.

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Aug 24, 2012

Did 8k run. Hoping to do a little longer distance. I heard that increasing the distance and practicing sprints will help my race pace. I felt I could have definitely pushed myself more. It gave me confidence to push harder at the shorter distances. Pacing was somewhat usual even at the longer distance. Times per lap for the 20 laps were:

1:52,131
2:00,149
1:58,152
1:54,155
1:57,156
1:58,156
1:50,158
1:53,160
1:55,159
1:53,158
1:58,159
1:49,159
1:56,161
1:55,160
1:55,159
1:53,161
1:55,161
1:58,160
1:49,162
1:44,165
Total = 38:10
Avg hr 157
Peak hr 167

There were warm and cool pockets of air as I ran the track. The cool pockets were really refreshing. I got to watch another sun rise.

I find it funny that my heart goes up and my times get worse as the laps go on.

Training for a Sprint Duathlon… Training Days – Aug 19, 2012

Did a trial race today. I took times after each lap, transition, every 5k and again for the last 2.5k.

Lap:
1. 1:39, 146
2. 1:49, 160
3. 1:52, 160
4. 1:51, 162
5. 1:52, 163
6. 1:53, 162
7. 1:47, 164
8. 1:56, 164
9. 1:56, 162
10. 1:55, 163
11. 1:58, 164
12. 1:59, 163
Sub total: 22:32

13. 2:43, 161

T1:
14. 4:13, 142

Bike:
15. 9:11, 148
16. 10:19, 148
17. 10:37, 144
18. 10:15, 146

T2:
2:58, 137

Run:
11:10, 155

Overall this workout felt really good. I didn’t try to push myself too much and just paced it. The first run was the hardest as that’s reflected in my crappy lap times. No thoughts on how to fix this or improve. The second run was at the same pacing. Perhaps some intervals and longer runs will help? I really have no idea.

The bike I took it easy as I recently read about “bonking” which is where your body is totally depleted and you are forced to stop. I’ll definitely have to pick up the pace a bit. I’d like to see me struggle more on the second run or push harder now that I know what 1.5hrs of solid aerobic exercise feels like.

My muscles were a bit sore but where I really noticed it the most is in my lungs. The next day felt really crappy to breathe. By Tuesday it was gone.

Monday I did a short 15 min moderate bike with 20 mins of stretching and plank exercises with some hip exercises.

Tuesday was a fun run. I just ran for 30 mins and didn’t worry about pacing or even count laps. Although when I’m used to measuring everything down to heart beat it was an odd and nice feeling. I focused on keeping my head up, trying to feel light and having a short time of contact with my foot and the ground at each step. I watched the sun come up over Newmarket and felt the warm air rolling in from the east. It was a nice run and really enjoyed it.

Last week I felt really drained and thought I might have been getting sick and that’s why I took it easy on Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday I did bike intervals. 2 min hard, 1 min recovery. Pacing was about 37kmh. I didn’t feel like I was killing it but was definitely giving a lot. By the end of each 2 mins my legs were burning. The whole point of this workout is to improve my muscles’ ability to remove lactic acid from the muscles that are being used.

After the workout I felt like I should have pushed it harder. However after showering and heading to work an hour and a half later I realize that my legs are now burning again and will have a long day recovering ahead.

Another breakfast of toast with peanut butter, 250ml milk with protein powder. Around 9 I’ll eat again and again at noon and 3. Trying for 2-3 pieces of fruit per day.