Jogging for Frogmen 5K, it was a charity run. It wasn’t something I had trained for but it just happened to fall on my 5K Time Trial training day so it was a good fit. As most athletes know you do your time trials on a flat course in perfect conditions from all the hills. I’ll put the elevations below. But it was a good run I pushed it really hard with the Steps Per Minute (SPM – Cadence) and didn’t really pay attention to my HR this wasn’t a training session this was a race. On mile 2 during one of the downhill declines I landed wrong and my left glut just didn’t feel the same running and neither did the hamstring so I had to pull back on the SPM and my pace per mil suffered. Mile 1 pace was 8:25 with an avg spm of 81. Mile 2 pace was 9:41 with an avg spm of 74. Mile 3 which by this time my left muscles were not happy with me in the least bit was 10:24 with an avg spm of 72. I’m not going to count the last tenth of a mile but it was 55 seconds with 76 SPM. I’ll be damn a higher SPM gets you a faster time per mile, but I certainly didn’t feel like I could maintain that pace for the entire 5K. Maybe I could have but my mind kept on thinking how much farther do I have to go. I totally forgot that I took the distance field of my display on my Garmin 910xt. This didn’t help much cause I would have pushed myself a bit harder at the end.
OK, so the course report. It was a run through the back streets of San Diego State University ended in some field by the arena. There were very little flat sections of the run it was uphill or downhill. Mostly uphill towards the end. It was all street or sidewalk that didn’t have any places to trip you so if you fell on your face it could have been from the kids. The course started mostly downhill and right off the bat I knew this was not going to be fun cause what goes down in a race eventually must come back up when the start and finish lines are the same. Sadly this was mostly uphill after the initial drop so I couldn’t get a solid rhythm going. Then right before mile 3 there was a hill that seemed to last an eternity but that’s cause my left leg was already bothering me.
So overall even though I recorded a personal best in a 5K race I was not pleased with my performance. I really need to focus more on form over distance and time in training. When I was getting tired my form deteriorated and I had to recover which only made things a bit more difficult when starting back up again. I also need to focus more on getting that cadence up while decreasing my HR which is going to take some work. These are some pretty tough tasks but I need to really stay focused and with it.
The goal of training is to make yourself better, but more importantly proper training. I decided it was time to get some professional training advice to help me along in my journey on becoming a competitive age group triathlete. I went with Tridot since I found them by an accidental click on Facebook and it’s panned out very good. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the saddle and I’m starting to see all around improvements although I need to get some solid time trials this coming week before my coach yells at me. I also joined the Tri Club of San Diego which was without a doubt the smartest move I made and I should have joined years ago but I can’t look back I have to look forward.
The Swim! I used to swim back in high school so I have a small background in swimming. I wasn’t the best but I wasn’t the worst either. I was one of the few guys who could do butterfly with the proper form so I was always stuck doing the butterfly in all the IM’s and individual events. But I also was never really focused back then I just went through the motions. I can still recall the coach yelling all the laps we had to do which helps me to this day to keep on track a bit. Enough of the past on with the future. I’ve always been a deep catch swimmer with a lot of core twist and I generated a lot of power with a smooth glide. It’s all I knew and didn’t know there where different types of freestyle catches. Well once I got into Tridot I learned about the High Elbow Catch and how you go faster with using less power. This was completely foreign to me and I struggled at first with how awkward it felt (It still feels awkward). But I’m paying more attention to it and low and behold my 100M times are improving slowly at an easy pay I sit around 1:28 to 1:30 compared to my 1:39 with the deep catch. I have 8 weeks till the Tri-Rock so lots of room to get my 1:30 average down to 1:15 (Goal).
The Bike! I was never an efficient cyclist but I had fun and I used a lot of power in the top gear so I just assumed I was good at it, I was wrong. I learned really fast that I was awful at the bike I used way too much energy with very little return and that in fact hurt my run since my legs were toast after the bike. Tridot immediately bumped my cadence up to 90-100 average which means that I had to use lower gears to keep my HR down so I wasn’t using so much energy. I was skeptical of this at first cause I wasn’t going very fast according to the bike computer but I pressed on. Low and behold keeping a cadence has become easier and I’m in higher gears to where going slower than a 90 cadence feels awkward. Because I’m on the indoor trainer I’m in a little protected area from cars, tourist, and external factors so I’m not able to readily hit my weaker spot of hills but thankfully there aren’t any in the Tri-Rock course so I won’t have to really worry about it till I train for Oceanside 70.3. I should also note that my quads don’t hurt as much anymore which means I’m using less power to go faster. Of course my junk is still getting used to the saddle for so long.
The Run! My weakest more dreaded part of the triathlon. Yeah I’ve done several 5K’s and 13.1’s and recently had a new PR of 2:27:53. I thought I was doing really good and working my way to a good time for my half marathons. Then came Tridot and the workouts had a high cadence of approximate 90 SPM. Now I still have issues hitting that count while keeping my HR in the 130 range. In fact my average cadence was 70 if I was lucky and my HR was at 160BPM, now I can keep an 80 cadence with my HR around 140-150. But there is a sacrifice here, my time per mile at that pace is back to 12 minute miles. Sure before at the 70 cadence at 160 BPM I was averaging 11 minute miles at a half marathon pace. So what does that mean in English? What it means is that my foot is spending less time on the ground and I’m using less energy. So that is an improvement and I need to focus on my mechanics to where I can really get my 10K pace down to 8-9 minute miles.
So over all I am seeing vast improvements on my energy use and my output. My weight has gone down to around 250lbs and will be dropping even more as I keep training. The mental aspect is the biggest hurdle for me throughout the entire process. I seem to be holding back and second guessing my ability to do it during training, maybe it’s in fear of getting hurt or not being able to do it. When the reality is that I can do it and the numbers prove I can do it. I just need to believe in myself that I can do it.
90 SPM running cadence, and I’m only at 75. I am vastly learning that even though I could go do a 13.1 in back to back weekends I don’t know how to run efficiently. So it really looks like I’ll be focusing more on drills rather than distance for a lot of my running workouts. Through my coaching program I got a workout that has been proving next to impossible which is to run 8 minutes and walk 1 minute. Sounds easy enough right? Well the kicker is that I have to keep a 85+ cadence while keeping my HR around 96-123 BPM and a pace of 12:40. As I increase my cadence to 85+ my pace goes down to a little 9 minutes and my HR shoots up to 150+. See the trickery going on here? So what’s the answer, how am I going to achieve what I think is the unthinkable? I know it’s not impossible cause I see others do it all the time, so I will have to learn how to run again through various drills and videos on form and technique.
It was over a year ago that I could not run past 3 minutes without having to stop and walk for a couple minutes, I was averaging a 15 minute pace. Then as I continued to run I achieved my fasted average pace in the Utah Valley 13.1 of 11 minute miles and being able to run the entire distance without stopping to walk and catch my breath. Everyone encounters challenges that they feel are insurmountable but it is the determination that brings that task down to something achievable.
Short blog post, but the moral of the story is. Don’t let something that seems so unachievable feel impossible. It might seem impossible now but take the time to learn and build your foundation so that the impossible is now probable.
Those of us who have raced have all heard the announcer say if you need a swim buddy they can be found over by here or there or out in the water wearing a particular color swim cap. For most people the swim is the hardest part of the triathlon especially in open water. But for those of us who live in California we have the pleasure of surf entries along with swimming along the coast with some swell. For most first time people it’s a lot to handle mentally and they aren’t sure they can even do it. What goes through your mind when you move from swimming countless laps in a swimming pool to having to swim 200-250 meters off shore through the surf? That’s where Swim Buddies come in. They are the one’s who are there if you need it and to help keep you focused at the task at hand and so that you don’t feel as alone out there.
I took the chance to volunteer at as a Swim Buddy at the Carlsbad Triathlon this past July 14th. I was a little nervous at first I didn’t really have a lot of surf entries under my belt as a triathlete. Now I had tons of surf entries as a kid and as an avid body boarder and I was curious if they would be the same. Well I signed up and decided that it was giving back to the tri community and I’d learn from it. I had volunteered for the Tri Club of San Diego at the SDIT Expo and got a lot out of it and really felt good about it and I got to meet some great people. Being a Swim Buddy was nothing short of the same and super rewarding.
I started the day really excited, it was almost as if I was racing that day I felt really good about the weather and conditions. Once I got there and signed the typical waiver paperwork those of us from Tri Club that volunteered made our way down to the beach and kind of went over everything. I was really shocked at how many people had come out, took all the nervousness of being a first timer right away. I was asked to be a floater in the surf (Yeah the guy getting beat on by the waves) and just be there to encourage people trying to get out and they could do it. There were a few people that I swam out with to the turn buoy and they thanked me as they made the turn. It was a really rewarding day even if that was all the help I could give, but I wasn’t done. As the other waves had started I noticed a swimmer without a cap and without goggles and she was struggling just to make it to the first turn buoy. I swam over to her and offered to swim with her along the way, and she said that would be great. As we swam I had to call life guards over to her so that she could rest on the boards we had some conversations. This was her first triathlon and she was extremely nervous about the swim and wasn’t sure if she could do it. Her older brother had talked her into it but she didn’t want to give up so we kept swimming and stopping at the lifeguard boards to rest. As we reached the last turn and swam up to the beach she was so excited to have finished it that even I got excited to watch her finish the swim and be a part of her first triathlon experience. As we finally reached shore she walked over to me and gave me a hug and said that she would not have been able to do it without me being right there helping her through. As I swam back out to help the last of the stragglers swim in the overwhelming gratitude from the swimmers towards us was just undeniable. That is what being a swim buddy is all about and now I am totally hooked! If I am not racing or tied to work, you can bet that I’ll be volunteering as a swim buddy when I can.
June has been a huge month of personal achievement for me. I first broke my 13.1 personal record with a 2:38 minute run and I was able to run the entire thing. Then 6 days later I broke my old record with a 2:27 minute run in Utah Valley. Then to close out the month I took 3rd in the Clydesdale Division in the San Diego International Triathlon, that I didn’t even train for at all. SO it really is possible to achieve something “iF” you make it your priority you really need to believe in yourself. Because you really can do it! Now for my race report.
So as I said I didn’t train for this race. It was more of a break in for my new wetsuit and my tri-bike that I got. I really wanted to see how each felt and how my transitions would be. I am actually a bit disgusted with my transition times they could have been better, but that’s coming later. I know you’re not supposed to break in new gear on race days but I did it anyways.
The X-terra Vortex 4 full suit I got a while ago is just awesome. Coming from not using one I was really amazed at how I was able to move easily through the water with very minimum effort. The buoyancy alone with the coating on the outside really makes it fly through the water. The choice to join the Tri Club of San Diego was worth it for the member discount alone just for that suit. I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to use it more.
I bought a Quintana Roo Lucero Tri-Bike to replace my craigslist road bike. Now I will say after spending the entire bike ride in the aero position I was finally starting to get comfortable with it but I really felt like I need more gears for downhill. I think my GPS clocked me at almost 40 MPH as my fastest. Climbing, the bike did most of the work as my quads screamed at me for not training ANY uphill but that’s not the bikes fault it’s my fault for not training legs and hills.
My transitions where really time consuming after looking at the rest of the field and I thought what could possibly make them go faster. Well in T1 I had a hard time getting the wetsuit off and my transition was in the dirt so I had rocks everywhere on my feet and then I realized I was going out the wrong way and I forgot my sun glasses. T2 I had to rinse off the dirt again and get on my socks and running shoes because if I run barefoot in these shoes they cut into the backs of my ankles. I also forgot to put on my race bib heading out of T2 so I had a lot of mental mistakes. I was actually a mental midget in the transition zones. I really need to practice more and get tri shoes that don’t cut into my ankles.
The swim was a bit chaotic at first with all the people and I really climbed on some people as I have such a long stroke but and I accidently swam over a poor woman in a silver cap in 1 stroke. I am really sorry by the way I didn’t even see you. By the time I got out of the water I wasn’t really dizzy like at Tri Rock and ITU but I also kicked harder towards the end and stayed low which really helped. The bike went a little slow at the start as I missed a shoe and hit a cone… YIKES!!! I started out strong trying to get my HR and breathing back on track but my Timex kept saying 160BMP for most of every time I looked so it couldn’t have been right. Finally got into my groove of breathing and feeling comfortable when the hill up to Cabrillo Monument which basically fried my quads for most of the ride but I still came out with a 41 minute ride the 2nd place guy had a 41 minute ride as well but the 1st place guy had a 35 minute ride. So he really killed the climbs which I lacked. Coming into T2 I dismounted the bike in true Tri form with my body standing on the left with my right leg ready to dismount. I think I got off too early but the guy said good job. Going into the run my legs burned and my socks and shoes were socked. That first mile off the bike is always hard for me as the muscle use changes from quads to hamstrings but once I got warmed up I started to pick up the pace. But at about 500-700 feet I went to take some Gatorade and my stomach wanted no part of it, so I had to ditch it. I kept a steady pace at least it felt like that but I’ll take a 38 minute 6K. That’s 3.7 miles for those of you who didn’t know. I didn’t really push it during my run either like I could have. Looking back I wish I should have but I didn’t want to push it too hard since it was only a C type race. I actually spent more time looking around at things cause running in wet socks and shoes SUCKS!