Thursday, November 25, 2010

what can I do?

after a busy weekend with a double whammy on Saturday (brick session in the morning, long ride in the afternoon) and Sunday off with Nat just arrived from Argentina, I was happy to go out swimming on Monday morning. 
The reason is that this is the first hard week on the programme since October, and I've been missing the hammer sessions. Monday's swim was certainly challenging but it's out of the way now.... so all good. The running session was a beauty, 6 hill reps at level 3/4 of the heart rate. 
Tuesday was a bike TT but Nat got sick and I had to look after her, so it didn't happen, then another hard swim on Wednesday and back home.
I soon as I finished breakfast I knew I was more tired than usual, and two hours later I was in bed with fever. It turned out that for the first time in ages I got sick. The rest of the day was miserable, and I just got up to more misery, I'm going to the doctor now and see what's the story. 
I was suposed to race on the weekend, there's the first race of the national series, but I'm afraid I won't be a starter. 
On the bright side, there's plenty of books to read and a couple of good movies to catch up with. 

Stay safe out there

Sunday, November 21, 2010

why bother

During last week's HIM I got some time to myself and besides the obvious nerves of the race, I started asking myself some questions.
It is not strange, I s'posse, that we ask ourselves questions before, during and after the race. What I am doing here? Can I finish this race? Am I going to hard/slow? where's my gels? why on earth did I pay $xyz to get here if I'm not feeling 100%? and the list goes on.
Those are the types of questios that often times come, showing that the mind is still the most powerful determinant to the result of our race. If you give yourself the wrong answer, you're cooked, you're off the zone and the race is no longer your race, or a race, but something else much more negative than it was intended to be.
Karapiro was not high in my list of races, but after the dissapointment of Budapest, I guess the result came as a good pat in the back. Back to the questions, I was on my bike and had this plan of being conservative for the first hour or so. More than a few went past me and at some point I questioned if I was being too conservative and letting go more than it should be. The answer was not, or better, not at this early point of my training and with little strength on the legs.
The other questions came on the run, I was running fresh and happy, with my chin up and not thinking 'bout the time. As I was passing through a boring part of the course I questioned why bother coming to a place 3 hours from home, without Nat to do a race that would mean little to my season and without throught a little day out afterwards. I said I was happy, so, in a happy mood I said to myself that it is not the destination what matters sometimes, what matter is the trip.
My destinations for this season are three, both Nationals after Feb, and a Half in a month's time. There's little chance that I'll be in peak form for the Half, but at least I'll be setting a benchmark for what it was the base block of the training. There are other races mixed in between, and I am sure the questions will come to me at some point. But, as I said, what matters is the trip. Training and racing takes me to a bunch of beautiful places. Been out on the bike, or swimming in the ocean or doing a running trail, I get to see this country in a way I never thought of. Many training sessions are not just that, but a trip to the outdoors and the chance to see those great places. That's what matters to me.
So, why bother? I guess that I bother because each time I am out there I am doing one of the things I like the most, and I am very humbled that I have the chance to do it and proud to be doing it. Giving up would be stabbing myself in the back.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seriously - this is how I started running

Patrick's post posted the question, and when I remember I just have fun about it.
Argentina is a football country, we all play it at school, secondary school, grown ups, and so on. My dad plays week in and week out with his mates, even though he's got a bad back. Even though I was not super talented for the sport, I played for some time with my friends but never seriously. I did play basketball for some time, but I wasn't super talented either. We trained to play basketball and that was the first time many of us were introduced to training schedules, routines and specificity. After moving to the big smoke I left all sports aside and picked up swimming in our last year in Buenos Aires.
Many friends would go out running, but I found it boring as, and never got to run over 3km without questioning what the hell was I doing running.
So, at 25 I had never been "out for a run" outside the basketball training, which was usually around the court. It was the winter of 2006 when I decided to enter the 1/4 marathon in Auckland, which was 3 months away. We've been out for a few runs with my flatmate Julian (out of boredom) and that winter I pinned together a training plan (run 2 or 3 times a week) to make it 10km. I entered the race never ever having run more than 8km and I was still not fully convinced by running as a sport.
The following year I started swiming even more seriously, and entered the half marathon. That winter the runs got longer and longer and I even managed to do a 17km run before the race. That was when I started not taking the Ipod with me and actually run to run and not to listen to music.
I guess I had some talent because I did a sub 50min for my first ever 10km and a 1.45 for my first ever half marathon. Finishing the big run gave me the confidence to give triathlons a go.
Over the past 3/4 years it has grown on me to the point where the mileage has increased ten or twentyfold. And I even got my lovely wife hooked.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


He's the big guy on the left and my brother in law. Got to see me racing once together with the bunch and they had a cracker of a day just yelling s--t while I struggled with my run.

I remember him shouting while I went over the turnaround cone for about 5 metres.

Today was his birthday and he wasn't here to celebrate, life is a bitch sometimes.
So, here's to him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Karapiro Half - latest news

It turned out I was not as fast as I thought, althougth I did pretty much as guesstimated in my previous post. Here's the full data:
finishing time: 4.49.58
Swim+T1: 32.16 - Bike+T2: 2.49.04 - Run:1.28.38
12th overall and 4th in the age goup. slower than last year, but better overall placing... funny.
Sunday and Monday were relatively easy, with 2hr ride + 1hr swim (good times, tho) and 1hr run.
Tomorrow is day off, and it all starts again on Wednesday

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Karapiro Half - race report

The week leading to the half was different to the usual pre-race week with Nat not being around and me being super organized and having all my week's meals ready on the Sunday prior. It was boring to be on my own, but on the bright side, I watched some good war and sci-fi movies and I was involuntarily getting over 8 hours sleep. The HR checks indicated I was in good form.
So, after a couple of hour's drive I got to Cambridge and then to the lake to pick the race pack and attend the briefing, I didn't do any running or biking in the evening. A pretty average pizza wasn't the ideal dinner, but it wasn't that bad either. I had eaten well all week and I made sure I was snacking well as well. I stayed with italian Nick, one of my training mates. He was good company and we helped each other doing all the setup for the race.
Breakfast was the usual toast, peanut butter, banana and honey and 3 gels, and a shot of redbull. We drove to T1 and got things sorted, from there we drove to the swim start.
Swim + T1
The day was a stunner and Lake Karapiro looked very inviting to race. We started together with the teams, so it was about 250 peopl dashing to the first buoy 50 metres into the lake. After a left turn at that buoy, the aim is to make it to the boat ramp 2km down the road. I did what I have planned and made it to the buoy among the top 10, then got clear water and went about my business with a relaxed pace. It worries me that sometimes I may be too relaxed and not to "racy" in these type of swims. Anyway, I made sure no one went past me without me drafting of their feet. It turned out only 2 people passed me (maybe more, but they were too far off the my line of sight) Over the last 500m I picked up the tempo and got off the water in about 29 minutes (I did not wear any watches in this race).
T1 was slow, I had a gel on the run to transition and got my bike jersey, helmet, sunnies, socks and shoes and the pump. Nick came right after me and we ran out of T1 together.
I posted before about the bike course at this race. It's challenging and getting it right is getting your race right. I haven't done a lot of strength training over the last three months if I wanted to have some legs for the run I needed to be smart in using my energy. The plan was to start conservative and keep a good cadence and rythm. Eat one gel every 45 min, drink every 15. I had a cereal bar just in case, but I don't do well with solid food on races.
The first hour was spot on, I was peddalling on 98rpm, there was westerlies blowing but nothing extraordinary. As long as the speedo kept being over 36km/h I was a happy man. About a dozen people biked past me on the first hour. I wasnt sure if they were experienced in the course or just new to it and had a different plan, nevertheless it didn't worry me, wich is a good sign of mental strenght: I knew I was doing the right thing for my race and I wasn't going to deviate from the plan. I had my first gel at 48 min.
And then the hills started
I went to the small chainring on every one of them, made it to the halfway marker/aid station and had 6 riders on sight. I was happy with my plan. There's a descent of about 7km with gentle bends and good straights, I pedalled all the way down and by the end I had passed 4 of the riders. the other two were just 500m up the road. That descent marks the start of the hills, I kept working to plan and passed 2 more riders, another couple passed me as well. I had my second gel and kept pedalling, by now I was in company of someone in similar conditions, we played cat and mouse for about 20km and then he peeled off in the last hill before the lake. From the lake to T2 is about 12km into the wind. I didn't made any progress on the guy. I found a red bull in my lunchbox, downed it and kept pedalling at 98 till T2. The plan appeared to have worked, I was tired but not spent and happy to start a half marathon. The bike speedo said 2.47. Not flash, but not bad at all. T2 was fast, I got my cap and sunnies and headed out
I am used to short, fast races where the first km is real fast and then it slows down just a little bit to end up with an even faster last couple of km. The half required a different approach and it greatly depended on how much damage was done by the hill cycle course. I hit the pavement on a good sub 4min for the first 5km, then I faded a bit and kept running in good form but not very fast. I watered at the 3km, 7km and 10km and again on the same places on the second lap. I think I ran well because no one passed me and I managed to catch 3 or 4 guys that flew past me in the bike. I don't have a time, but I guess it should be about the 1.30mark.I was happy and proud the plan worked and even though I got a bit of cramping I think I've never felt so good in a half marathon run. I thought about a lot of things while running, but that's material for another post.

The overall balance is positive, very positive. I gained a lot of confidence for the next one in a month's time and I also have some feedback for the coach on areas we can improve between now and then. I missed my favourite supporter/photographer but I think she would be really proud to have watched me yesterday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

another race!, and some times

Today I entered the race. The Karapiro half ironman is a nice little race situated in Lake Karapiro, Waikato. I’ve said before, the lake is famous for breeding the best of NZ rowing and many rowers take on multisport of the occasion.

The swim is on a fresh water natural lake, we’re bussed 2km up the road to the swim start, then the course is to go 70m into the lake, swim parallel to she shore for 1.7km and another couple of hundred metres into shore again. Transition is just next to the lake and it’s pretty straight forward. Freshwater swimming is a good opportunity to do a fast-ish time as you don’t have much challenge from swells or waves, you can stretch and glide in every stroke and go hard without blowing up.

The bike is a big 90km loop that takes us out around a big mountain called…..mountain. It is not a fast circuit, but the first hour is a solid ride where we can expect to make good advances. Then it start to get worrying, with some hills, and more hills and more hills. Not big ones, but the succession of them makes them a threat. On a fine day it’s a 2.40 ride, we’ll see how that works in real life. We end up in downtown Cambridge, where the second transition is. the whole town is out there watching.

The run is a semi urban 2 laps circuit that goes on the riverside and then onto some new subdivisions just out of town. There’s a single hill on the run and it’s a 2min climb that does some damage. On a fine day we’d be roasting under the mid morning sun.

The race is a prep race in my calendar. I’ve have trained regularly for it, with long rides and long runs, but I am only half way there, there is a lot more of strength and endurance work to be done in the next 5 weeks so I am not looking for flash results. On the other hand, it is a race, so I will give an honest effort to try to get as high as possible on the final results. There is one mate racing alongside and he’s going to be a serious threat to many as he’s trained hard over the whole winter and is ready to hit it. I shall see him going past me after 40odd minutes on the bike.

It was a weekd of Time trialling, except for the run, that has been very shy for my liking. Monday we did 1km repetitions at a steady 3.30's and Tuesday was our return to the Aipor Oaks time trial, we have the chance of a 16km 25km or 40km TT. I choose the middle distance, it's long enough for me, he he he. I'm happy with my overall performace of 41minutes and even happier that the new bike geometry is working OK for TT effort, I was able to power through on head wind sections that usually would be a pain in the back. I even managed to run decentll for 1km after the bike.
Today was a swimm TT in the morning, I was lucky I only had to do it once, the other guys in the lane had to do it again after 5min rest. 1000m under 13.30 is OK forme and I walked out of the poos feeling good.
Three more days to race day, it's time to start with a race plan, and checklists and so on

Monday, November 8, 2010

4 cars, 1 truck and 2 utes

That’s how many vehicles went past us on the Sunday long ride. Rural Auckland on a Sunday morning is a nice, lazy, green and hilly place to be. Getting out and back into the city is a bit more complicated and traffic is bad, but it’s only 40 minutes. The ride was long and at a very civilized pace, one of my mates was still a bit tired from the 200km K2 race and the other one is training for a half marathon, so he was just happy to pull as along. 6 days before my half ironrace it was logical not to over-do it.

On the positive side, I found my legs were OK for most of the ride and I didn't have to push real hard to keep going up the hills. I was not doing anything anaerobic and still managed to climb well.

Saturday was my return to brick sessions @ the beach, we had a sunny Auckland morning and even though I lost the way on the 30km bike leg I still had lots of ward work done. Surprisingly, the swim was particularly hard.

This week is about sleeping lots, so I’ll get underway with a siesta and try to keep things moving.

Hope your weekend was fun!,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pure Blonde Series – Race 2 Report

Conditions were better for the second round of the Pure Blonde swim-run series. For starters, we had very little wind and the air temperature was well above the 15 degrees we had in the starting race. Water temperature was on 18 degrees, so it would be a better playing field.

There was a change of the swim course due to difficulties with the surf lifesavers not turning up to patrol. Instead of an out and back course 300m into the sea we had a 50m swim to the first buoy, then parallel for 200m and then back to the start for a second lap.
We had more people doing the race as well, so it was a really cool day to be out racing.

I started my swim full on for 50m to avoid complications in the turn, as 50m is not enough distance to sort out fast and slower swimmers and the whole field would be squeezing together. Got to the buoy alright, yet a little wide then it was a tail swell until the next one. All I could see was the buoy and the guy ahead of me getting farther and farther away. I swam with all my might to keep the gap to a minimum. Got to the start of the second lap in second position and after the first turn my mates Reado and Jeremy caught me. I did the lazy thing and let them pull me through the second lap. Thinking in retrospective, I should have stayed in the lead of our minibunch.

4th out of the water and into transition, got sorted quickly and started running in third place. The first swimmer had 1min and something on us. Reado was ahead by 25m but he can’t run fast due to injury so I ran past him and we kind of bunched for the next km or so, then I kept going and he kept doing his thing. At the turnaround I saw the first guys was within reach (about 20secs) I tried and I tried, but my legs had little strength to increase the cadence and I just could not surge. I guess more endurance and speed specific later in the season will sort this out. I ended up second 15 secs from the winner.

As I was running I thought to myself that the rest of the series will be very interesting, I’m going through the first bit of my training and I do hope that results keep improving and I can get a better placing. But you can only control what you can control, and sometimes there’s better ones racing and it is only fair they take the prize.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thoughts on speed, and an extraordinary evening

You all may do the same and leave the mind wonder while doing those long runs or rides or swims. One of the thoughts that came to me (apart from the supermarket list, stuff about my friends in Argentina and what I would wear for Friday at work) was that there’s a point where speed becomes a by product. I’ll explain, as we keep training and getting fitter and then increasing volumes we all have small or big gains in terms of speed and race results. We may even think we can stop ageing, but that’s not true.

After some time, we all hit a point where the gains get smaller and smaller, and that when we realize that we can’t beat ageing and we can’t beat genetics. However, we can certainly keep improving and that’s when the focus changes to technique. By just reading many of our blogs it’s easy to see a trend that many times end up with us doing small changes to hour swim, run or pedal stroke or cadence and get to another level in each discipline. Stretching seems to be a big one, and then coache’s advise on swimming and running are just behind. I am not sure how it works on the bike, though.

I guess what I wanted to say is that the main focus many times is not going harder faster, but doing it in a way that has not other result than going faster, and then going harder AND faster. Funny, hum?

The second part of this blog is about last nite. There’s this race called stroke and stride, it’s been held in Mission Bay, Auckland for some 20 years now. There’s plenty of stories and many world champions had raced there. It’s a swim-run event and is fast and furious, but it also a good introduction to multisport. Last evening was the first race of this season, and while the girls were out, there was a pod of orca whales swimming with them. This was not a stunt by a wetsuit manufacturer, it was real black big mammals swimming 100metres from shore.

The organizers had to delay the men’s start until the rowers and surf lifesavers moved the whales out. It was cool to watch and I guess it could have played in some of the men starting the race 5min later. The photo is thanks to Sarah, who saw her husband venture into the sea of killer whales. I was supposed to start but I couldn’t fit my long run any earlier, so that’s why I was in the sidelines. Only in New Zealand, he he he

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cooper's test is back

With any new campaign it comes the time to set a benchmark. Cooper’s test at the beginning of the season are that, a benchmark to keep us honest during the next four to six months. Yesterday was a nice day to be out on the track. Many mates did not do the test because the past weekend was a long miles day for them . There was the 200km K2 race, that is really similar to having TdF hills day running in your backyard. And there was the Auckland Marathon and half marathon, both of them filled since June.

Over the weekend I felt the lower part of the calf suffering a bit on the run. I was afraid it would repeat for the cooper’s test, but it didn’t and I’m happy about it. Winter test are done in a 600m loop in concrete with 2 big sharp turnarounds. Summer tests are done in a 400m oval loop in the grass. The splits for each of them are different for obvious reason, so it pays to be aware what to expect for each lap.

Unfortunately the track is not in optimal condition as there are a few bumps and the grass is a bit long. We still gathered a good crowd and I suffered from not having a couple of my fast pacers along. I started on 1.17 and finished on 1.19. The rest of the laps were on the 1.20 to 1.25 range and there were 9 of them. 2 very good ones, one excellent and six average laps.

I’m happy as my pb on the track was 50 metres shorter than what I did yesterday, so I’m preparing myself for harder workouts to come, but also nicer numbers on a 10k’er.

That's two training buddies fromt he old guard, Bob and Cyril, both of them do over 3100m on their cooper's test at their 50's.