Oops I Did It Again

I have a bad habit.  A habit of making emphatic declarations, and then not following through.  In 2000, I did Ironman Canada, and said one-and-done.  Then in 2010 I did Ironman Arizona then declared my Ironman days over.  In 2012 I did Ironman Arizona again, and loudly proclaimed, with emphasis, that I was done with Ironman - I had achieved everything I wanted to.

Oops, I've done it again:

Just Keep Swimming...

Just keep swimming... just keep swimming... just keep swimming... I often get Dory from Finding Nemo stuck in my head during a workout, especially one with long sets.  And almost always during the swim leg of a triathlon.  I think Dory has great advice, particularly for this time of year, the "off season".

Many triathletes drastically reduce or drop their swimming all together during the off season.  While I definitely agree it's nice to have a couple of months of lighter workouts, I disagree with dropping swimming all together.  My recommendation is not to reduce the number of times you swim.  Most of the year I swim 3x/week.  There are times building up to a race I may throw a 4th (likely another open water workout) in there, but I think 3x is the minimum.  Instead of reducing frequency, I reduce duration.

Here's why.  Swimming is the most technique-based of all three triathlon disciplines.  It's so easy to lose parts of your stroke you've been working to perfect (not that I'll ever achieve perfection, but I'll keep trying!) by reducing the number of times a week you swim.  Honestly, it happens quickly!  So rather than dropping down to swimming 1-2 times a week at this time of year, keep your three (plus?) workouts, but make them shorter.  When I'm training, my swims are at minimum an hour, usually around 1:10-1:15, and once/week they're 1:30.  Right now I'm doing 30-45 minutes.  I still get a break, but I'm not losing the feel for the water and don't have to restart my technique work.

I'm currently just focusing on my stroke, doing snorkel work, swimming with fins to work on my glide, and drills.  I'm not a huge fan of drills; my caveat is you have to know what your stroke weaknesses are, and pick drills that focus on those.  Don't just blindly do drills you see other people doing, without knowing why or what that drill is accomplishing.  

Soon enough, I'll be back to 60-90 minutes, 3x week.  Here are a couple of basic workouts you can modify.  If you're not sure about the abbreviations, just drop me a quick note.  They are in metres, so if you swim yards then just add some more of the main set.

60 minutes, 2800 metres
Warm up:  3x200 (easy, kick, pull)
Main set: 2x (400 steady, 300 easy full gear (paddles, pull buoy & band), 200 tempo, 100 fast (10 SR)) 1 min between sets
Cool down: 200 easy

90 minutes, 4200 metres
Warm up: 4x200 (easy, kick, snorkel & fins); 4x50 band only 
Main set: 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR); 6x100 full gear alt steady & tempo by 100 (10 SR); 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR)
Cool down: 200 easy

Once I get into "serious" training next summer, I may even up my frequency to 5x/week.  I really want to see if I can break 32 minutes for a half iron and 1:05 for an ironman swim.  I'm close, but it will take a lot of work!

If only I could swim outdoors all year -
I'd be happy to brave the PNW rain!
Have fun, and just keep swimming!

Goldilocks Vegas

Last weekend, a couple friends and I headed down to Las Vegas to do another Goldilocks century (we did one in Boise in July), and Jason tagged along to volunteer.  It was yet another whirlwind weekend away; lots of activity with a 100-mile bike event sandwiched in the middle.  We absolutely loved everything about the Boise event, and that's what sold us on this one.  Of course a good time was had by all... but the event itself didn't quite live up to our expectations.

We stayed at the host hotel - the Red Rock Resort - which was great because it was on the outskirts of town and had pretty much everything you needed right on site.  It's a huge hotel with 60 rooms per floor, and the hallways were super long so we started riding our bikes between the room and the elevator.  We timed it once walking, and the trip from our door to the elevator was 3 minutes, and we are not exactly dawdlers.  But despite the infinite hallways, it was a gorgeous hotel and we took advantage of as many amenities as we could.

Riding out to Red Rock Canyon the day before.

We're definitely not on the west coast!


Looooong hallways!  They curved so you
never saw the end.

Friday involved a morning ride through Red Rock Canyon, an afternoon of relaxing at the spa pool (we chose that one because it was adults only, and had lanes for swimming), then package pick-up and dinner.  Saturday was an early wake up as the start time was 7 am and we were riding to the start (probably only about 15 minutes).  There seemed to be more nervousness at this start compared to Boise (-1 for Vegas as there weren't as many porta potties - the lines were long!), and a couple of women crashed right in the start chute.  Catherine stopped to see if they were ok, but kind of got yelled at by one of them, so we just carried on.

Jason volunteering as a "Papa Bear" - got to ride the course
and provide any help along the way.  Nice as he got to
spend the day with us!

Strong wind from WSW = in our faces for much of the day!

The road markings were flawless (+1 for Vegas as we went off course briefly in Boise), but there was A LOT of stopping as 75 miles of the 100 were in urban areas.  Lots of stop signs, and lots of traffic lights (-1 for Vegas as Boise was almost completely rural).  According to my Garmin, we spent almost 20 minutes stopped at intersections.  Boo.  That's really the only reason I wouldn't return to this event: too much urban riding.  The final 25 miles were out of town and absolutely gorgeous scenery, so it behooves the organizers to reroute things to take more advantage of that.  Skip the entire Henderson part, as that was just city city city.

Besides the traffic, another downer was the wind.  No fault of the event though, but we ended up going straight into a pretty significant headwind for much of the day - probably from mile 40-95.  A lot of the ride was me with my head down, trying to hold on to Catherine, Corinne, or Jason's wheel.   It ended up being a total grind, just keeping the bike going and trying to keep spirits high.  For the final 30 miles, the 100km course joined up with the 100 mile course, and so many of the 100 km riders were dropping out everywhere.  It probably didn't help that there was a 20-mile 3% climb in there.  Not steep, just infinite.  It seemed like the highway between the city and Blue Diamond was littered with women pulled over and calling the sag wagon.  We stopped at a gas station for a coke (-1 for Vegas as the aid stations weren't that well stocked), and that coke was the nectar of the gods... and pretty much the only reason we were speaking to each other for the last bit as the wind had stolen much of our souls by then.

Combination of sugar and fatigue makes things REALLY funny!

Finally out of town and almost out of the headwind.

Once we reached Red Rock Canyon where we'd ridden the day before, the winds were finally at our backs and it was downhill, so we screamed into the finish.  We didn't stick around though, as the post-race food wasn't as deluxe as the spread in Boise (-1 for Vegas), so we rode to a grocery store and stocked up with as much food and drinks as our jersey pockets could hold, and rode back to the hotel.

Post-event 2 R's: relaxing and rehydrating!

What do you do when you finish an event in Vegas?  Head to the strip and take in a show!  The next day we had some time before our flight, so did some sightseeing, and then a swim at the Henderson pool.  Have to enjoy the sun while we can, as it's home to the wet west coast for the winter.

Hello, off-season!  Hello, planning for next year!