Spring Thaw – The 2008 Edition

Race morning arrived when the clock ticked over to Sunday morning from Saturday the 3rd of May. I was still 75 kms out of Edmonton and heading home for a race that was to start in only 8 hours. A wedding the evening before in Calgary posed a bit of an issue with leaving myself the option to try and get 8 hours of sleep. I decided that I would resign myself to that as pre-race sleeps are never that good anyways.

After arriving at the house I unpacked, repacked race gear, mixed up gatorade, swapped my leather brooks saddle for my tri-styke neoprene seat, swapped the race wheels onto the bike and checked all the gears. I then discovered that my bed’s mattress had been stolen by one of my room-mates who decided that it was a good upgrade while I was out of town. So, at around 2:15 am I crawled into a sleeping bag on my pullout couch and set my alarm to go off in just over three and a half hours.

Bam! it was suddenly quarter to six, I chowed down on breakfast, pumped my tyres, and was out the door. I claimed what I considered to be one of the top 5 spots in transition, set things up and went off to get marked. In contrast to previous years I opted to skip out on trying to be warm and resigned myself to a cold bike ride. I set out only my triathlon club jersey and helmet. I had neoprene gloves attached to my handlebars with elastic bands and shoes pre-clipped, only 3 things to do in transition, that’s the minimum requirement for a pool swim: cover the torso, put on a number belt, and clip the helmet. I can go one better for open water races: remove wetsuit, put on helmet. I’ve been frustrated in previous years by clothing that sticks to wet skin, sand on my feet, toques, sunglasses etc. etc. efficiency was the order of the day and I was prepared to suffer the consequences as I reaped the benefits. I cannot shave any more seconds off in transition, I’m confident about that.

I was registered when I arrived but wasn’t on the start list, so I got to re-state my expected swim time. I pared it down from 17:30 to “16:00 or 16:30” with the desire to get pushed in my lane, I felt ready to go hard in the pool even though my total swimming for 2008 to date had been 2900 metres.

I had been convinced by tri-club members to start the swim with a backflip off the start block because the club’s past president was supposed to be counting laps in my lane, unfortunately an impromptu lane swap resulted in some rather intimidating women counting my laps, I was scared they’d make me swim extra so I gently entered the water and got to work.

Upon exiting I had passed everyone in the lane once and doubled up on one girl, I turned out to set a sprint-swim PR of 14:25 (60th out of 145 places).

Transition was quick and I was out on the road, there didn’t seem to be any quick cyclists around (you only pass the slow ones, it’s not really a surprise but always a disappointment) and I was out onto the 4 lap course. I have had success making race “plans” in my head regarding motivation and focus for the course. It started out last summer with the half-ironman on the run: I broke the 21 kms into 4 pieces with different labels, “get your running legs” followed by “hold back” (A reminder that I’ve still got a long race ahead) then “let’s go” and finally “hold on” (don’t waste the success thus far).

I decided (while driving in the dark the night before) that it wouldn’t hurt to try a similar strategy for both the bike and run portions. The race plan was therefore “pay attention” (get cadence up, start drinking, note locations of potholes), “focus on efficiency” (don’t drop the hammer quite yet), “remember this is a race – go!”, “Cycling is awesome” (reminder to not waste any seconds on the bike leg which is my strongpoint) followed on the run by two sections “it’s only 5 kms” (there isn’t time to get used to the brick feeling, you’ve just got to start running) and finally “leave everything on the course”.

I suppose there’s not much to say about the 4 laps of the bike ride and the out and back run other than I kept to the game plan and was well under the 38 minute split I was expecting (including 2 transitions) at 37:12 on the bike. The run split hurt a ton and I wasn’t very fast but I did my best to put in a solid effort resulting in a 22 minute split for 5 kms.

The grand total time was 1:13:36, I was more than pleased with that, having shaved time off of last years race, amazingly in the swim and swim-bike transition.

So, how does a hard 75 minutes of effort play into the Sea-to-Sea preparation?? 75 minutes of work isn’t going to get me over the Cascades on Day #2 in Washington State. Basically it’s fun, and marked the middle-end-ish of a tough week of work. In theory it would have wrapped up the first periodization of the spring. Of course, things work better on paper or in your head, it was obviously modified a ton. Half Marathon Sunday, road ride Monday, hill run Wednesday (bonus: swims on Tuesday & Wednesday). I nailed a rather hard 75 kms bike on Thursday, and ran 10 kms medium pace on Friday. Monday following the race I fit in a very windy 50 km ride immediately followed by 6 kms hilly run. 10 kms run on Tuesday to finish that off, the moving average for weekly volume passed 10 hours for the first time this season (12.5 hours max)!

I’ll be keeping intensity down for a short break (conveniently aligning with the snowfall today) and then will begin period 2. The focus is on volume with the idea of packing the hours in, hopefully pushing volume beyond 15 hrs/week consistently, I don’t really know if I want to consistently eclipse 20 hours; when I did last summer I wasn’t useful for much else other than cooking and eating. I’ve got a long weekend in southern BC planned followed immediately with a week of training with triathlon club members in Edmonton while spending days in the research lab and then potentially a day in the mountains.

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