Sunday, December 11, 2011

hitting the bricks

So, here I've signed up to do a half Ironman triathlon.  For those who are not familiar with Ironman triathlons, there is a full (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and the half (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run).  I've never done a traditional tri before, but if you know me, it won't surprise you that I'd commit to a half Ironman having never done a real tri.

I have done a number of off-road tris.  However, the Off-road tri is very different in one aspect.  The water portion of the tri is a flat water kayak.  While a trail run is different from a road run, and mountain biking is different than road biking, the differences in those activities are not massive.  However, kayaking is VERY different from swimming - especially for someone like myself who does not consider himself a swimmer. 

So, because of that, I've joined the westside aquatic center which has a very nice pool.  I've been swimming about 2 times per week for about a month now.  I'm not being coached, but that's part of my challenge - see what I can do without a coach.  Although, I have to admit, it's really part stubbornness and part cheap.  I'm not in a financial position to really be paying a coach right now. 

I'm set to begin a 20 week training program tomorrow.  Day number 1 it calls for a 40 minute run and a 2400m swim.  While these two activities for tomorrow don't have to be back to back (we call this a brick), there are days where I'll be required to do a brick. 

In fact, I have done a couple of bricks in the last few weeks.  The bricks I've been doing have been a bike followed by a run.  A few weeks ago, my teammate Hudson and I went out for 28ish miles on the bike (WAY harder than I really planned), and about 3 miles of running (again WAY harder than I really planned!).  Today was another brick - 50 miles on the bike followed by a 3.2 mile run. 

How hard is too hard.  This is a very difficult question for me to answer.  I tend to work (ride or run or swim) at whatever pace my body feels like going.  Sometimes that means I'm pegged all of the time, sometimes that means I'm in total cruiser mode.  Today was a mix of both. 

I rode today with the A group.  What this means is that they are going to go pretty hard.  You get guys who have a lot of experience in the A group, and the pace tends to be fast.  Of course, for a guy who races in Category 1, today's ride may have been a true recovery ride.  For me, as I said, it was a mix. 

Early on in the ride, we encountered some rolling hills that caused my heart rate to get pretty high.  My respiration was also high, and I was thinking there was no way I could stick with that pace.  Things seemed to settle down a little, and I started feeling better about my chances of sticking with this group. 

About 20 miles in, our ride leader Jim stopped us and announced a 4.5 mile sprint zone.  As we started rolling again, everyone up front was looking at each other like they were waiting for something.  Well, if they were waiting for someone to jump, they weren't waiting for me.  I took a flyer off the front, knowing full well I'd be lucky to be able to stay out there for very long.  I gave it my best shot though, and it woke some peeps up. 

I came off the front when they caught me and found a spot in the pack to recover.  After a while, the pack started slowing down again, and I could see a couple people off the front.  Of course I had to take another flyer.  I chased down the first of the riders, held the front of the pack for a little longer, then relinquished the lead to someone else. 

By this time, I was really feeling it, and I was VERY lucky to be able to hold on to the back of the pack through the rest of the sprint zone.  It was a fun section and we had a little break at the stop sign to let everyone catch up. 

The rest of the ride picked up in the overall pace, but still stayed pretty civilized.  Our average riding pace climbed up towards 19mph, and I was feeling pretty good.  I sat on the front for a couple of rounds before I went back to the back of the pack.  As we closed down for our final miles, my body was starting to talk to me about the efforts I'd made. 

We finished out the ride in 3h02m and it was almost exactly 50 miles.  Not the fastest pace I've ever ridden, but for this period, in my current condition, it was plenty fast enough. 

So, now comes the brick.  A former team-mate Dave had also ridden in the A group and he had said he'd also be interested in making a brick out of the day.  So, we had our running shoes in my car, and when we got back, we made a quick change and set off on our run. 

I have a Garmin forerunner which has capability to time each activity seperately.  I need to work a little more with this device, as I messed it up today and didn't get the run timing down just right. It has a way to time your transitions and correctly time your next activity.  Looks like I'll have to get the manual back out to refresh myself on its operation.

So, we started off on our run.  Dave immediately set a pace I knew I wouldn't be able to keep.  That was OK, he became a carrot for me.  It made me run a lot faster than I had planned, but overall I felt pretty good, so I wasn't too concerned about it. 

The one issue I had, was with my left quad.  I could feel it wanting to cramp from about the beginning of the run.  It didn't, but had we run more than a 5k, it may have given me some real problems. 

With my timing issues, I didn't get all of my per-mile times accurately.  for example, I had run a quarter mile or more before I realized that I needed to do something else to get the run time to start.  I hit the start / stop button and ran for a little while.  After a couple more minutes, I looked down to see that the timer had stopped!  I hit start / stop again, and it told me to begin running.  How much did I just lose on getting good accurate timing? 

Once it finally started tracking the run correctly, I was already close to 1/2 mile into the run.  When I finally got to what it measured as 1 mile, it said my first mile pace was 14+ minutes.  I know I ran faster than that, but it counted the transition time in that first measured mile.  My second mile was counted correctly and showed as 7:47/mile pace.  I never actually made a third measured mile because of that issue in the beginning.  The clock stopped at 2.94miles.  My average pace had continued to drop - first mile 14+ min, after 2nd mile 11:05ish and at the finish, my average pace was down to around 10min/mile.  No matter what, the run was a pretty good pace for me.  I generally do 8:30-9minute miles when I am training by myself, or even when I run with the boys. 

So, that's a brick.  A pretty good pace for the bike, and a pretty good pace for the run.  Now I just have to get comfortable in the water....

What about nutrition for this day's exercise?  I ate a 2 eggs, half of a stuffed chicken breast, some beans, cheese and salsa wrapped in a tortilla for breakfast.  I ate nothing while on the bike or before the run (MAJOR mistake), then I fell off the wagon and ate junk food for dinner.  I'm not even going to say where it was I am so embarrassed by it. 

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