Thursday, August 26, 2010

Return to B-CC

The last time I ran with the team at B-CC HS track... it was cold outside. That was a long time ago! Training has not really allowed me to go back to B-CC, but now that I'm back up to speed, running-wise, it's just not really fun or helpful to run by more or less by myself at MCRRC. Getting back to the group where I'm among the slowest is what will really help me progress further.

I proposed the workout and fortunately people agreed! 4x800 @5k pace followed by 1x3200 @ 10k pace. I was looking to hit 2:30s for the 800s for a 5:00 pace, and 5:17-27 for the 3200 to match my desired 10k pace. I ran mainly with a group comprised of PMurph, Dirk, Jimmy, Mike C and at times Ian... the faster group of Charlie, Dickson and Karl were moving a little too hot for me... I just need to establish my known paces, not push it too much.

I ran 2:26, 2:25, 2:29, 2:26 for the 800s and around 10:30 for the 2 mile, all a little fast but not too far off from my desired paces. I'd say the 2 mile felt the best... just as it should. I should be able to hold that for 10k, and while I definitely can't hold that pace in a triathlon, it's a good indicator that I'll be in good shape come Veteran's Day in November.

Anyway, it was good to be back out with the team and run some good splits!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome back, hamstrings

So Saturday I pulled something in my right hammy and planned to take it easy for the following several days. But today I felt strangely fresh. No pain or tightness in either hamstring and legs felt flexible. I had a brick scheduled for today, and I now had no excuse not to do it! Hour ride with 3-4 5k race efforts, followed by a 5k run at 10k pace.

The ride started out tough... it was hard to get my cadence up right away, and my legs felt sort of fatigued from Saturday's race. The pickups though felt better and better with each 5k. I had a 10-12 mph headwind and variable sprinkles so I was slowed up a little bit trying to take turns carefully and fighting off the wind. Legs weren't as quick to react to climbs either, but I still put in some good speeds for 4x5k (23.9, 23.2, 23.9, 23.7 mph), totalling an hour for the ride. Most importantly, NO hamstring pulling or tightness. On the contrary, I loosened up as the ride went on.

I stuffed 002 into the car, put on socks and my trainers and set off for the run on a downhill out/uphill back 5k. I felt amazingly strong, considering how little I've run recently and my hamstring issues (which again, were not apparent!). I put in the first 2 miles, downhill and flat in 5:23 and 5:27, which would be a little faster than my planned 10k pace at Nation's. The last mile was uphill and didn't slow down dramatically, 5:46, finishing around 17:10 for 5k! And I felt GREAT. Like I had another 5k in me... Exactly how I had hoped.

In all, one of my best bricks of the year. Funny how the body works. 2 days ago I left myself for dead... and then I put in one of my better workouts, as if I had been fully recovered leading up to it.

Oh, I swam yesterday, 3x1300, steady state swim, and felt smooth and powerful. My strokes were long and relaxed. 1:23/100y pace. It's all coming together nicely.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It doesn't really pain me to write this post as my hamstring really doesn't hurt anymore, but it sure did yesterday at a crucial time.

I raced in the Church Creek time trial, a flat 40k near Cambridge, MD. I came in hoping for an average speed of over 24 mph, which was a reasonable goal considering I achieved a speed of 24.1 mph on a hilly 20k time trial a few weeks ago and a 23.9 mph at tempo pace on a half hilly/flat course last weekend. What could an all flat course mean for me? I felt decent enough going into the race except for a tight pair of hamstrings brought about by wearing decrepit shoes on a 60 minute run (followed by 2 miles @ 5:40 pace). They didn't hurt much, but they were a bit sensitive to intense activity. I didn't feel anything during Tuesday's 6-minute all-out TT except for a little pull at the end. I thought I was clear for Church Creek.

About 18k into the TT, almost halfway, I was doing well... averaging a little over 24 mph with a headwind... when suddenly (and fortunately not LITERALLY) the wheels fell off. I felt an instant pull in my right hammy and a dull pain followed. Almost immediately I started losing power from that leg as a natural reaction to feeling pain. My speedometer sank from around 24 mph to 22-23. I knew this was bad... on a flat road there are no chances to recover... you have to keep pedaling. My average speed over the next several miles dropped. Once I hit the "turnaround", where the loop course changes direction and goes with the wind, my speed increased... but not as much as it should have under the conditions (flat road + tailwind = 25-26 mph!)... I got up to 24 on the speedometer, but that didn't last long as dehydration set in... goshdang!!

I started struggling again and the hammy pain didn't go away. I started pedaling with one leg... just like I do in my training for dominant-leg workouts. BAAAD sign. I got passed by someone and normally I would LOVE the challenge and fight back, but I didn't have the power to do so. I just wanted to get to the finish at this point. I used the last of my HEED 6 miles from the finish and I started panting from the lack of hydration. I struggled some more and FINALLY reached the finish line in 1:04:18, an average speed of 23.2 mph.

Well, it sucked. I hated the ride from 18km to 40km. Still, somehow, I PR'ed for 40k. Not sure how, but I guess it's an indication of my improvement over last year. So I'm happy that even on my worst ride, I still can average over 23 mph. That's a good way to look at it, huh? On another positive note, my hamstring doesn't hurt anymore. But I'm going to be careful over the next few days.

The performance of maybe the year goes to Michelle, whose blog is linked here (and in my blog list), she utterly crushed souls (and nearly mine) there, rocketing to a 1:04:35 and a 23.1 mph average placing second in her category and beating plenty of guys and gals at higher levels. She was healthy and went ALL OUT to get an epic time. This coming from a part-time duathlete and a cyclist with only duathlon/triathlon bike training experience. Looking forward to seeing her beat down on some roadies and make a strong return to duathlons.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TT Tuesday -- speed record

Today I did a staple of my recovery week - a 6-minute all out time trial on the bike. Every time I do this, I improve. Last time I rode 25.8 mph, which was my record at that point.

I was massively inspired by Michelle's foray into 24 mph land during her 6-minute TT on Monday, same as I was to do today.

If Michelle can obliterate a speed record, why can't I?

I felt strange during the day... for the first time in as long as I can remember, I had NO stiffness or soreness in my legs. Every time I got up from my chair at work, nothing. Just loose and limber joints and limbs (limber limbs, get it?? hahahaha!). This had to be a good omen!

I got out to the Gtown loop and warmed up, probably a little too much and too fast, but seeing Michelle do some warmup sprints before her TT, made me think that it could help me too. Wind was pretty calm also, 3-5 mph from the south. I got underway and my first lap I averaged 27.3 mph! Holy cow. I kept the cadence high but my pace was slipping a little into the final hill. I surged up it to hit six minutes... and a speed average of 26.8 mph!!! Boomshakalaka!

A new speed record set, a whole mph faster than 3-4 weeks ago. Church Creek, here I come.

Rodan reaches speeds of roughly Mach 1. Maybe I can too one day?

Monday, August 16, 2010

On a roll

Mere weeks remain until Nation's, and I seem to be peaking at just the right time.

My swim is as good as it's ever been. My top speed may not be quite as great as earlier in the winter, but my endurance at a 1:20/ 100y clip is far greater than before. The steady state swims, 3x1300 with the last being at race pace, have really helped, as well as having two hard-working training partners, Dirk and Robbie, who seem to be improving at as fast a rate as I. We feed off each other. Those masters workouts at AU really help supplement speed to my endurance training. I was thinking on the way to AU today... I no longer fear the swim. I look forward to it. No longer do 300 yard and longer sets frighten me. I go to swims more than 3 days a week. I'm averaging close to 15,000 yards a week, up from only 7-9k during the early summer and before. Rather, I am excited for the swim at Nation's. I am certain I won't be far behind this time around.

What will be most exciting is to see who gets out of the water first between me, Dirk and Robbie. Anyone want to place bets?

I biked this weekend with Robbie, and found my speed, even after a tough swim workout, has really improved from the spring. I put in a 30:50 20k, which is about 23.9 mph. Pretty fast for me. Part of the course is a mile downhill and flat, but the first third is pretty darn hilly, so I'm happy with the speed. Can't wait to see what I do on a flat 40k... both at Church Creek TT Saturday and Nation's in a few weeks. My goals are sub-61 at Church Creek, and around 62 at Nation's. Those seem reasonable.

Most of all, I'm totally happy with my swim. Again, it's peaking at the right time. I feel extremely confident in the water. I want the lead at practice now. I used to be pretty bashful... but now I want to set the tone. I think this improved attitude will help me in my racing.

Oh, a shout out to Michelle, she biked over 24 mph for the first time during a 6 minute all-out TT today. That is epic.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tour of Page County

Yeah, haven't updated in over a week. Google doesn't work on my computer at work because of a virus and I usually do my blog entries there. So, I apologize to myself. And to anyone who reads this.

Pleasantries exchanged. Onto the good stuff!

Yesterday I raced in my second bike race of my young cycling career, the Tour of Page County cat 5 race in Stanley, VA, just south of Luray. Hills, hills and more hills were how Matias described the race to me. There was a 1.5 mile hill and a half miler with the finish line at the top of that. A competitive cat 5 field too. These all seemed like excellent reasons for me to enter this race. After my performance at Giro di Coppi, I was ready to try and win this race. I was strong, although a little tired from a hard week of training. I took Thursday and Friday easy, swimming and spinning to keep my legs moving and rested.

Race day... Sicar and I arrived at the race site and I met a fellow from the DC Tri Club who was racing also, Ron Benedict. Nice guy. I prepared Sicar for the battle that lay ahead. Warmed up, signed up, met Team Snapple (which I just joined) team member Zack Desmond at the starting line and then we were off! Zack and I lined up in the middle to rear of the pack, which is fine, we would benefit from the draft and thus an easier start to the race. We rolled in neutral for about 1.5 miles from the staging area and then the hammerfest began!

And, wow, did we hammer it. Zack immediately noted how hard we were going so early on... and it never let up. Giro di Coppi was much different, we didn't really pick it up until halfway through the last lap. We weren't even 3 miles into our first lap and we were cooking! I made a couple moves to get closer to the front, but it was tough to do... I started a little too far back. Finally the first mega hill came up... a 1.5 mile ascent that starts more as a false flat and builds into a pretty steep climb. I made my move here and stuck myself into the top 10. Zack joined me and we stayed here for the rest of the first lap into the second lap.

Then things got dicey. I lost the group I was with at the top of the half mile hill, just at the end of the second lap. I made it to the top with them, but they accelerated very quickly down the other side and I wasn't able to keep up... I got dropped! I pedaled hard to try and latch back onto the group (5 of us... we were chasing the lead group of 3-4 riders), pushing speeds of 28 mph by myself on a flat for about 2-3 miles. The group gained 30 seconds on me and I thought it was over for me. Then a pack of 4 riders caught up to me. Slightly embarrassed, I grabbed the wheel of one of the riders.... and we started pacelining. It was time to work together to catch up the group ahead of us! We switched leads until the 1.5 mile hill. We started climbing slowly, I was two riders off of the lead. I knew we wouldn't catch the group ahead at that rate. So I took off. I knew with my stamina and climbing, I could catch or get closer to them if I was leading. So for nearly 1.5 miles I led my group... and whaddya know! I caught the group that had dropped me earlier, much to the surprise of those riders. My group thanked me for the push and we made our way to the last hill.

800m to go, I was about 5 riders back from the front of our new combined pack. I waited... and then I saw the feedzone, marking 250m from the finish. It was now or never. I stood up and started POUNDING the pedals. I took the lead and focused on the finish line. 50m to go I hear breathing behind me, the fight was on. A guy from Whole Wheel Velo shot past me in a burst of power, but I held off a rider who was coming on hard to beat him by 1/5th of a wheel at the line... photo finish!

6th place! I was elated. It was a major comeback for me. I thought it was over... but I didn't give up. I may not have gotten podium this time, but this race meant a lot more to me than Giro di Coppi. I felt I learned some valuable lessons about road racing... the race is never over until you cross the finish line, unlike in running. And I learned the value of staying with a group. Not only will you go faster, but you can team up with your competition to help everyone do better, including yourself.

All in all, a great day and a great race. Two top 10s in two races... things are really looking good for me now.

Check out this news story from the race. Matias is the center of attention around the :52 mark (who got engaged earlier this week... congrats dude!)