Triathlon Training Update—April 2012

[Newer readers—I had a mental lapse last year and registered for a late August Iron-distance triathlon—3.8km swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run—in Penticton, Canada. Once a month the sports world anxiously awaits my training updates.]

Solid month of base building, but swim and bike times are slow. Three flats later, I found a very small piece of metal in my back tire which may help explain the pedestrian bike numbers. The swim times are probably off because I’m training solo, and therefore, not working as hard as when pushed by other fishies. Running has been steady, not speedy, but very solid. I have to get used to longer and even slower than normal distance-based training. The key is finding a rhythm—in each activity—that’s sustainable for hours on end.

In April I knocked out a few mid-distance bike-runs that went well. The mental toughness those require is as valuable as the physiological adaptations. Related to that, I have to learn to run slower in the first 30-60 minutes off the bike. My muscles are so warmed up, I routinely get out of an even semi-realistic “sustainable rhythm for hours” zone. I also have to learn to adjust for warm temps—something that’s tougher than it sounds. That will be the focus of my early August Tampa, FL running.

Like most athletes I have a time goal. Older bro and Lance both went 11:44ish so it would be nice to be south of that. But a friend’s experience at Iron-distance St. George, Utah last week makes me wonder if I should take an alternative approach to goal setting. Long story short, at St. George a 40mph wind kicked up shortly after the swim start. Two to three foot swells kept many from finishing the swim. Had the wind started fifteen minutes earlier, they would have shortened or cancelled the swim. The same 40mph winds played havoc with the bike leg. Times were 40-90 minutes slower than normal.

Stoicism encourages people to set goals that are in their control—such as the quality of the effort they expend in contrast to finishing in first place.

Who knows what race day will hold—a few years ago nearby wildfires meant competing through smoke and haze. High winds, rain; even hail; and most likely of all, serious heat; could sabotage my day if I stick to a hard and fast time goal. The alternative? Age-group placing since everyone has to endure the same conditions. So what place in the 50-54 year old geezer division am I shooting for? Not telling.

The first serious setback to my training took place a week ago when my back seized up for the first time in about 18 months. Painful. My hips were completely out of alignment. Chiro said it was the worst he’d ever seen me. So May started off with long awaited idyllic weather and unplanned, forced rest. Everyone is getting in better shape except me. Poor, pitiful me. Meanwhile, I’m laying on the floor with a heating pad watching the NBA playoffs. The good news is I’m slowly improving and right now I’m about 75-80% of normal.

Next week I depart for the first of two bike intensive training trips—this one to the Eastern Sierras in the state where my cycling fame first took route—California. It’s going to be sunny and hella hot which should be good for my back. Starting next Friday, I will be taking you along, so buy some sunscreen, pump your tires, and lube your chain.

And there’s this from a pre-departure email: On the way down Wednesday, we might stop and do a short ride on Mt. Shasta, and then stay in a motel in Burney, CA. On Thursday, the highlight will be lobster tacos at the Mobil Station at Mono Lake.

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