Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge

The second part of a three race week.  It was an accident.  Really, it was.  I signed up for each of these races without really thinking about the others.  Fortunately, they’re very different races, so the hope is they don’t interfere with each other too much.  And it’s a training peak after a couple race-free months, so they’ve been fun so far.

Anyway, this is the short and fast road run of the week, slightly longer than a 5k, and the only race I’ve run three times now.  I started out at a comfortable pace, averaging slightly over 7 mins/mile.  Which I could not have even contemplated two months ago, so this training block and taper has paid off.  I spent most of the first mile weaving between people, since I started further back than I should have.  I kept this pace up for a mile, running my fastest mile ever.

Shortly after a mile, a breathing-related muscle cramp set it, and the rest of the race hurt.  I backed down the pace to a point where it was sustainable pain, about 8:20 mins/mile, and I stayed there until close to the end when I sped up a bit, finishing 3.35 miles in 27:14.  

The run is fun, covering the end of the SF marathon course and a loop around AT&T park, and a number of us run this as a team, since it’s registration by company team only.  Notes for next time:
* Add faster paced repeats in training, up to a mile.  Or watch heart rate closer; it snuck way up without my noticing, since I had trained/tapered well.
* The new pair of paradigms is great for running at speed, unlike other high-padded shoes I have.  I picked these up to avoid impact on a sore spot that I’m letting recover from the speed training for a while.
* 5kish runs are fun.  

Next up: a trail 50k on Saturday.

2014 Malibu Triathlon

It was my second go at this course, the first having been my first tri.  Unlike last time, where I was hyper-focused on everything, I was rather zoned out as I got everything ready and and waited for the race, otherwise chatting with three others I knew who were doing the race as a relay.  A famous person sang the national anthem, but I’m so far removed from modern pop culture that I really don’t know what she does.  But she sang really well!  There was also a crazy heat wave, but Malibu in the morning was decently cool.

I started in the fourth wave, and the breaking waves were a bit bigger than last year.  Getting out to the first buoy took a while, but I picked up a good pace when the course turned parallel to the beach.  Coming in was a bit of a slog; there was a pretty strong rip current behind each wave that broke.  I don’t recall much of T1, except getting cheered on my the relay team we had in the race.

The bike was fun, and probably my favorite part this time around.  I kept a good pace, faster than last year, and really enjoyed the hills, despite it being a hot day.  I didn’t get surprised by any of the notorious speed bumps this time.  In T2, I found my running shoes to be soaked—the person next to me had hung his wetsuit over them.  

This run is a beach path out-and-back run.  The strong bike pace really knocked my run pace down, as everything felt tight and immobile, but I had a decent speed increase as I continued through the course.  By this time it was apparently hot.  But after running through a Hawai’ian lava field, hot has been redefined to the point that I didn’t really notice, other than the need to hydrate rather often.

I finished in 2:11:09, about 6 minutes slower than last time, which was pretty much due to the current/breaks during the swim.  Bike time was down about 4 minutes, and run time was slightly up, by less than a minute.  The swim was 8 minutes over last year.  Since the change in swim conditions was out of anyone’s control, I’m happy with that overall.  This was also the first tri I did without stepping up distance—it was fun just zoning out and doing the race, with nothing hurting after the fact.

Notes for next time:
* Leave shoes upside down or covered in transition to account for rogue wetsuits (or other wet stuff) that ends up where it doesn’t belong.  
* Add brick runs right after bike speed intervals.  I’ve been doing them after longer, slower rides, but the much faster pace in this ride, compared to the training bricks, really hit the run pace hard this time.  
* Moving the cleats back on my bike shoes completely cleaned up the heel pain I had on the run at Hawai'i.

Other data for my own future reference:
Swim: 23:43 (15:37 last year)
T1 4:42 (5:10 last year)
Bike 1:02:37 (1:06:41 last year)
T2 3:18 (1:56 last year)
Run 36:46 (36:01 last year)
85/175 age group (96/165 last year)

Trail Hog Half Marathon

This wasn't a well-planned-for race.  PL wanted to run another 5k, and there wasn't another that fit into our schedule until November.  This tipped me over the fence toward finishing Brazen's Ultra Half  Series, so we both signed up (for different distances).

For the first time in over a year, I went into this knowing it was hard, but without looking much at the course map or elevation profile or even where the aid stations were or how many.  Since I didn't have mental landmarks about what would happen, it became much more a pacing exercise.  Especially since this was a finish-it-comforatbly race while tapering back overall for a few closely spaced, but very different, races that I want to peak at in mid Sept.  And since my left quads/hamstrings and right foot were tight going in, and one goal was to work this out instead of worsening it.

After driving up through fog to Joseph Grant park, it was pleasantly sunny, and would get quite warm.  I started comfortably, but it would turn out to be too fast for hills.  I'm just finishing a speed-focused training block on roads, which made it easier to run uphill and increased my speed downhill a lot.  But hill strength is behind now, and I had to slow down a lot in the second half to keep heel pain under control (usually a sign up calf strength on hills being behind speed capability for me).  But the run was fun, I had a few conversations on the way, but didn't sprint to the finish as I typically do.  This race wasn't about speed so much as seeing where I stood on hills, which will be the focus of the next few months of training.   

I finished in 2:44:53, fifteen minutes off my expected time, 5/9 in my age group and 121/178.  PL finished her 5k, and wants to run a 10k next.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Golden Gate Swim #2

There was a high marine layer, and we couldn't see the tops of the towers, which made for a great kind of mystical swim.  Wind at the bridge was 10 knots, and there was low, but steady wind throughout the bay, which is atypical for 6AM.  There were a number of repeat swimmers from last time I did this, calling this one either the redemption swim or the revenge swim.  A freighter delayed our start last time around, causing the tide to shift early in the swim, which required us to be repositioned repeatedly.  This time went better.

After riding Hyperfish out and waiting briefly for a container ship, we jumped just west of the south tower.  The chop caught me off guard, and I didn't fall into a good breathing pattern for a while.  After swimming over a large wake and a momentary break with the kayak escort to catch my breath, I experimented with breathing in different patterns for a while and finally found a pattern that worked with the chop.  By this time, I had fallen behind the group I was in (three swimmers and a kayak).  I picked up the pace quite a bit halfway through, about the time we crossed under the bridge, and I caught back up to the group and hung out at the front until we came to finish.  The chop died down and the current shifted to an ebb as we passed the north tower, and the water eventually became nearly flat as we approached the rocks that marked the stopping point.

Part of what I love about this swim is that it's hard, unpredictable, and just feels epic.  Swimming under the bridge far surpasses running across it, which I've done a couple times in the SF Marathon.  Despite the rough start, I was less only 2 mins off my expected pace (42 min/mile, I was expecting 40, not being a race), finishing in 53 mins, including the two times I stopped for a minute.  Fellow swimmer C noted that "you can't train for this," which has crossed my mind a few times as I think about ways to handle the chop better.  I think I'll just need to keep doing this swim.

I also did this about 29 hours after getting home from Siggraph, also with a 5k run pacing PL the day before. Things learned: 1) Add unilateral breathing in to training swims to make it feel more natural.  All my form training worked against me here.  2) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.  3)  Slow down a lot at the start until finding a rhythm in chop like this.  4) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.  5) The week-off-of-swimming-altogether taper worked well again; I ended up swimming faster than I thought I had, even without feeling like I was pushing the pace hard.   6) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.