Tuesday, May 31, 2011

5/31 -- The Dream

The week since Columbia has been relatively light, with the exception of the weekend, where I biked kind of hard on Saturday, ran and rode for a few hours in the brutal sunny heat on Sunday after my first swim in 7 days (wow... there's nothing quite like having tired arms after 100y and then using them for 3900 more). It was a fine recovery week, and maybe I needed it more mentally than physically (my bike muscles were unaffected from Columbia, a fact which has bothered me greatly). I was ready to get back into regular training by yesterday, sure... but I seemed to be lacking some of the fire and vigor I had in the months leading up to Columbia.

That is, until last night.

I went to sleep and began one of the best dreams I've had. I can't believe I'm blogging about a dream, by the way. It was the Luray Triathlon, which I did a couple years ago (the sprint) and am signed up for this year (the olympic). After some flip-flopping pre-race as to whether I'd wear body glide I decided to slather it on and zipped up my wetsuit. Dirk was there too, just like at Columbia. I don't remember much about the swim other than that it seemed VERY fast and I was at the shore before I knew it... in 4th place! Dirk right behind me. We set out onto the bike course and quickly passed the 3 fellows in front. We had the lead... and kept it into transition. We went out for the run and after a couple miles I started picking up speed and ran away from Dirk for the win! I woke up shortly after with Oscar purring into my face and in frustration that he ended my dream, I flailed my arms at him and bounded out of the bed... he seemed unaffected by my display of fury.

But anyway, the point is that this was an awesome dream (Apologies to Dirk, but he was indeed a casualty of my subconscious). What happened are some things that have never happened or would only happen in exceptional circumstances (high swim finish, winning the bike, passing Dirk in a run, winning a decent race). But it seemed so real, somehow.

MAIN POINT: It got me really excited to train and race again... at the same and even greater intensity than before. I will be spending much of the summer on the bike and as a result a little less time running and possibly swimming (as my level at Columbia indicates I've done well with my swim... but the bike still needs a lot of work all around). I needed something to reignite the passion as it was before Columbia, and this dream was just it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/22 -- Columbia Triathlon Race Report

I wrote it on the Snapple team site... so might as well just use it here too. http://snappletriteam.com/athlete-blogs/item/columbia-triathlon-race-report

It was ideal conditions for a race... quite unlike last year, where I arrived at Centennial Lake with a really bad sore throat in pouring rain. It was low-60s and sunny this time, so the race would at least be more enjoyable! I also had pretty much all of my training pals racing with me in my wave, including Dirk de Heer, Michelle Miller, Matias Palavecino, Lucas McCollum, Ryan McGrath and also Lindsey Jerdonek in the pro wave. Coach Wiley was making his return to the race where he is a legendary figure.

I was really looking forward to the swim... lots of early morning swims and masters practices led to this day. I pushed hard for the first 400m or so, finding feet early on but losing them after not too long. I had to swim without a draft for about 1300m, which kind of sucked. Even so, I focused on not stopping and continuing to keep the tempo effort going. My arms felt good, due in part to my Xterra wetsuit which fit perfectly. With 200m to go, I saw a figure slide up next to me. I took a breath to my left to see a familiar face breathing to his right... DIRK! We made eye contact and swam together the rest of the way in. Not surprising, as we've been swimming together since last year and making each other work in practice. It was really cool though to finish the swim with him... it seemed almost appropriate. Lucas emerged from the water right behind us and we hopped into transition. TIME -- 20:50, a 3min PR over last year's swim, 65th overall!

I was not aware of my swim time though, and thought it was much worse as I saw a lot of bikes missing from our rack... then I had a hard time getting my wetsuit off of my right leg as Lucas and Dirk left transition. Dirk and I are about even on the bike so it would've been great to start with him, as I got off to a very sluggish and weak start to the bike. Aerobically I felt great... but my legs were unable to push out any power. I had no speedometer so I had no idea what I was doing, but I definitely was going SLOW. I just had no power. I became distressed and pretty demotivated, especially after Ryan McGrath flew by me halfway through. I tried to pick it up, but my legs would not respond. I came into transition to find that I barely matched my bike split from last year... TIME -- 1:09:13, 22mph, 109th. Pitiful and far weaker/slower than what my training indicated I'd be able to do... I had ridden a whole minute faster in training on that course as part of a 40mi ride!

FURIOUS, I racked my bike and sprinted out of transition and up the first switchback hill. I had to make up a LOT of time now. I saw no one except some pro women who I passed leading into mile 2, at which point I saw Robbie Wade, heading into his last mile. He shouted at me "RUN WITH DIRK!" to which I responded with confusion and a "huh?" That made no sense, until I looked ahead and saw Dirk at the top of the next hill... something was wrong with him. He had no jump in his stride and I definitely shouldn't have been catching him on the run. I passed a half mile later and focused on Ryan and a couple other guys ahead. I caught them and focused on staying ahead for the last 2 miles. TIME -- 37:07, a very average 10k for me, 18th overall. I had no desire to run much faster after I passed the last couple guys as I saw no one ahead... and was still pretty discouraged and confused after that awful ride.

Total time -- 2:10:19, 35th overall, 13th amateur. A 5min improvement over last year's Columbia, but I'm not really happy about it. I felt like my bike legs failed today and I don't know why. Part of it might have had to do with not biking in a group, which means I have lots of work to do on my mental game. The power is there... I just need to be in the right frame of mind to utilize it properly. Very happy about the swim and the general direction my development as a triathlete is headed. Lots of work left to be done... I'm ready to attack my weaknesses again. Thanks for reading.

-Andy Sovonick

Thursday, May 5, 2011

5/2 & 5/3 & 5/4 -- I hate the number 400

Well, I woke up Monday really tired! I was up from 3:30AM to 11:00PM on Sunday, racing and driving. And I had an evening masters swim. I wasn't soon to receive any rest.

The Monday masters practice was HARD. They are always tough, but this one really had my number. The number of the beast, perhaps... as you'll see below. It also caused me to hate the number 400. This workout was ALL 4s and 400s. Warmup was 400swim, 400kick, 400pull. Main set appetizer was 4x(4x50 varying drills/builds). Main set was several sets of 400s on different tough intervals... 16x25 on :20, 4x100 on 1:20, 4x75 IM + 100 IM on I forget what interval, I was so tired by that point. Add in 2x400 on 5:30. There were at least 2 other 400s that I can't recall. All I know is that I was hurting. Breathing hard and feeling a numb tingling in both arms, I didn't care what we were doing. I just went with it. Totaled like 4400y for the workout. But wow, it was terrible. I mean, I swam pretty well, but it definitely took me to my aerobic threshold and beyond.

Tuesday morning was a tough one to wake up to. A grand total of 16 hours of sleep over the previous 3 nights had to take it's toll at some point, and Tuesday was it! Fortunately the workouts were easy... but still, I wanted to just sleep. 35min easy trail run followed by a windy but recovery-level 74min ride with Michelle, and I made sure to stay in UTTER COMPLETE control over this ride. Stayed well under 200w and it felt nice. I slept well that evening...

Wednesday morning unfortunately I had to wake up early to swim at GISC. Second-t0-last swim there as they are conveniently CLOSED for the summer to paint a roof. I guess the heat and evaporation from the lava pool was too much for the ceiling paint to handle. Maybe they'd be best served to TURN DOWN THE TEMPERATURE BY 4019251285 KELVIN. Then they wouldn't have a paint peeling problem!!!!!!!! Ah, the swim was fine, fine indeed it was, longer sets and one 4x100 sprint set. Michelle was there. She would concur.

And then in the evening we reunited and rampaged through 270, River Road and Massachusetts Avenue to arrive at American University for GRC track workout. My prescribed workout was 6x800 at some pretty fast paces (2x2:24, 2x2:20, 2x2:18). Myself, Dave W, Pmurph and a new fellow named Matt Logan, who I wrongly accused of torturing cats, made up the B group. We hit the 800s almost all on pace, and ran strong, 2:24, 2:24 (my lead), 2:22, 2:20, 2:20, 2:17 (first half my lead, :67). I added on 2x400 in 74s, as a pacesetter for Michelle (see the Monkey Business blog for more information on my superior pacesetting abilities). I suppose my success surprised me, because my past 3 track workouts have been underwhelming and equally uninspiring, due to the fact that I'm tired and fatigued before each workout. I felt a lot better for this workout, so that was neat. I think an improved diet and taking it much easier on Tuesday helped make this workout better. My legs just felt a lot stronger! I slept really well afterward, indeed.

All this talk of numbers made me watch this video, the best music video of all time. GODZILLA MAKES SEVERAL APPEARANCES and they are amazing, of course. I'm surprised a certain Beastman wasn't included, but maybe it's for the better... of peoples' lives.

Monday, May 2, 2011

5/1 -- Fallston Duathlon race report

About 13 months ago, I crossed the finish line at Doylestown Duathlon and wondered "Why is Dirk not here yet?", only to see him cross about 8 minutes later. Turns out he missed a poorly marked turn and rode at least 3 extra miles. I felt badly for The Lordman, but at the same time I chuckled because it seemed like such a goofy thing to have happen.

Well, I finally paid for that chuckle.

Michelle and I gusted our way to Annie's Playground in Fallston to participate in our multisport season opener, the Fallston Duathlon. A 5k-19mi-5k du, it was a perfectly timed training race for Columbia in a few weeks. I got Dirk to race in it as well, essentially voluntarily eliminating my chance of victory. Competition was pretty unrecognizable, except for one fellow with an Army singlet who vocally assumed he would be in the front of the race. Never overestimate the competition, I always say, but golly don't underestimate it either!

The first 5k was pretty comfortable, despite already feeling heavy and still sluggish from a hard week of training, and I came through in 16:31, 2nd best run. The course starts downhill for a mile, a rolling 2nd mile, and the last 1.1 is all uphill. It didn't tire me out, as I kept a tempo-ish effort and started the bike with warm legs.

I had one of my best rides. I started out 45 seconds or so behind Dirk, but slowly gained seconds on him. Around mile 8, a guy who has averaged close to 25mph in half iron races passed me and went after Dirk. I kept him in sight and elevated my effort a little so as to not lose them. By mile 15, I had gained 10 seconds on Dirk, according to a bystander. There was no one in sight behind me for over a mile. I was on pace for a 23.1 mph average on the hilly course, which was going to be strong for me, considering my lack of taper. However, right around mile 17.5, it all went for naught. I temporarily lost sight of Dirk and the other guy as they crested a hill I was climbing. I passed through an intersection with a police officer stopping cars. I didn't see any signs or course marshals, so I kept going straight... off the course. A mile past, I came upon Route 1, which I knew was never on the course. I thought "GODDAMNIT" and plenty of other angry expletives, as I knew I was lost. I practically sprinted the mile back to the turn to get back on the course, nearly fishtailing in desperation and hammered down the last hill into transition to find the guy who was pretty far behind exiting transition to start his run. 6 unnecessary extra minutes on the course will do that...

Flustered but committed to finishing the race strong I jumped out of transition and practically sprinted through the first mile of the 2nd run, hitting 5:07. I had 600m of a gap between me and the current #3, and I was doing my damndest to close that gap. I came upon Dirk as it was an out-back course, and he understandably looked mighty confused when he saw me. Anyway, I closed the gap to about 75m, but then I ran out of space. 16:47 for run 2, and 2nd fastest run split again. Finished 4th overall.

Well that sucked! Getting lost on the bike is never a good way to lose a race or lose placement in a race. But I salvaged 4th, and had the pleasure of seeing Dirk and Michelle win their genders. Most importantly, I discovered that my speed and strength on the bike has increased markedly from last year. My run off the bike is better too. I'm really pleased with my performance and progress. I can't wait to do this racing thing fresh and fully rested.

I did and still do however, feel just like this...