It was inevitable. One of these days I was going to be disappointed with a run. Today was it and with the context of the above picture taken last night, not a terrible surprise. Normally I’d be more than happy with 6 miles but today was supposed to be 10 and while my legs weren’t sore, I didn’t feel like I had much energy. The outside elements didn’t help much. While it was beautiful when I headed out with the sun just beginning to set and a clear blue sky, the temps were in the 20′s and the wind was ridiculous. I’m a cold weather guy, but this was excessive. Holding a moderate 8:30 pace was enough to keep me interested but I knew I wasn’t going to loop twice pretty early into the run. Also, my Garmin died 3.5 miles in and lost the data so Strava picked up the rest:
And yes, last night the wife and I went out with a friend and we consumed a handful of drinks which made me feel a bit sluggish most of the day. Not the best recipe for a good day of training.
In other news, I got a terrific email this afternoon from the good folks at the Westchester Tri. Since I placed 3rd in my AG this year I automatically qualified for Escape from Alacatraz. There arent many of these slots floating around and Westchester is one of only a few races with spots. I raced it a few years back by winning a lottery slot and it was spectacular. But the wife isn’t so keen about travelling all the way out there again, so I’ll have to pass for 2014. But its just nice to be asked
Top of the sand ladder at Alacatraz
Another very nice evening for a run. This time around I didn’t get out till it was fully dark which I generally don’t mind. It makes for a focused run without many distractions. The pools of light from the streetlamps in central park provide a calming backdrop and enough coverage to see where you need to go. I wasn’t alone out tonight (I rarely am) and there were a few very quick runners out there who passed me. I stuck to my run and let them go.
I wanted to head out at a quicker clip today as I’ve been growing a bit tired of the long slow mileage. The plan was for an 8 mile run but I wanted to play it by ear. While this could be dangerous during intense training close to the race, at this point I think it will be better to run by feel and not risk over-training.
With these last 2 runs and whatever I might do on the weekend, this could be my highest running mileage week ever. Since I’m just beginning, I should probably be a bit careful with my overall volume.
I ended up running a 6 mile loop (sans the big hills with the 102 cut across) and began the 100m strides near engineers gate about 3.5 miles in. These hard pushes really break up the run and provide some much needed variety. I don’t mind them at all and really don’t feel they hurt that much. I began running them in about 25sec around 6min/mile pace but dropped to 6:30′s towards the latter ones. A few ended up uphill as well.
Coming around back home and seeing it would be about 6 miles I decided to pack it in. I still felt surprisingly ok despite some serious heaviness in my quads. I don’t anticipate that going away anytime soon.
Like last night, I listened to This American Life. One I’ve heard before but a good one: The Prom
Tomorrow calls for 10miles but I’m thinking that might either not happen altogether or get shortened. Stay tuned.
I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to add a new element to my training now that I have an Ironman coming up and I intend to train seriously this time around. I’d like to get into the habit of writing down a summary of my workout and any thoughts I might have had directly after finishing. Basically adding a diary in addition to my training log and calendar. I suggest this to my clients and in one form or another it gets done, whether its just a quick note on the session in the calendar or a full email to me. I could use a taste of my own medecine.
The main focus of the workouts for this month and the next few are going to be training for my upcoming late February marathon in Central Park. As my limiter in triathlon is running, I thought it would be a good idea to start the season of with an early cold weather marathon. This will give my run training focus and on the off days I can cross train in the pool, commuting or my handful of spin classes.
2 days ago I ran one of my first “long runs” which was meant to be 14 miles. I should note here, as a reference, I’m using the Pfitzinger book as a reference and attempting the 24-week, 55mi and under plan. It was on a super beautiful but windy day here in NYC. My garmin details are below:
Today was a 5 mile recovery. I’m feeling really sore still from 2 days ago as my longest run previously was only 8 miles a couple weeks ago. Before that, the last time I ran over 9 continuous miles was the Brooklyn 1/2 marathon in May. I managed 18 miles in the SOS race but that was punctuated by 3 swims and a bunch of 16% grade uphill walking.
It was nearing dusk as I set off today, one of my favorite times to run in the city. Since this was a recovery run, I aimed to keep my HR down as much as possible which for me can be considered successful if I keep it under 160 which I pretty much managed to do.
I’ve taken to listening to old re-runs of This American Life which now stream on a dedicated station you can find on the iphone app TuneIn radio. When I grow tired of music, this is my go-to station. I have seriously considered getting into books on tape.
All in all I’m happy with the run this evening. I was able to relax into it and ignore the persistent ache in my quads. I sandwiched it between a 45min spin class I taught at 12 and now another I have at the Harvard club at 7. I’ll attempt to go easy and keep everything loose. Tomorrow should be 8miles with some 100m strides but I’ll play that by ear. I am wary of jumping into too much mileage too soon.
A quick post before an early turn in tonight. My friends and fellow racers Gregg and John will be arriving at my apt around 5am tomorrow to start the 13 hour road trip to Wisconsin. For those that don’t know, I qualified for the Age Group nationals with both races that I competed in this year; Mini-Mighty Man Sprint out in Long Island and most recently the NYC Triathlon a few weeks ago.
This event, which rotates venues every year, is comprised of only the triathletes who place in the top 10% of their Age Groups in a qualifying race. In short EVERYONE will be fast and everyone will be aiming for a PR.
USAT asked me to write a quick blog before heading out and you can find it here:
Also, the race will be streaming live Saturday morning so if you want to follow, click here:
In the middle of last week I received a dangerous email. It read, in summary:
“Hey Anthony, I know you did an Ironman already. You don’t really have anything to prove anymore. You swam, biked and ran 140.6 miles in Wisconsin and it was brutal and awesome. But… the run sucked, you’re a triathlon coach and you’ve only gotten faster since then. Don’t you want to try again? Huh? You know you do. How about guaranteed entry to IM Lake Placid if you sign up for 70.3 Syracuse too? It’ll only cost a measly $1000 and take over your life for 10+ months. Come on, what do you say?”
Ok, so it didn’t read exactly like that, but it might as well have because it worked and this past Friday I signed up for IMLP 2014. Since then I’ve been trying to think of all the reasons I would do this again. I didn’t come up anything good other than a vague pressing desire to try again. Over the next year I hope to discover more, develop some reasonable goals and document this process all the way through.
Stay tuned for regular posts and updates, maybe even some video.
The numbers are in for both myself and my client Ray Chan for this past Saturdays 32nd annual Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon. Below I’ll analyze the data regarding both our races and break it down to see how we both did.
I’m super proud to report that on his first 1/2 marathon attempt, Ray not only went under 1hr45 but beat me in the process by 1 minute. He clocked a chip time of 1:43:42 holding an avg of 7:55′s for all 13.1 miles. Mine was 1:44:46 a whopping 3 seconds slower than last year. After comparing the data from 2012 and 2013, it quickly became apparent that I ran an almost identical race. More on that below.
Ray trying to control his happiness that he beat me
A little backstory: Ray has been working with me since late 2011 focusing predominately on triathlons. After a terrific inaugural year in 2012 (with a few injuries which sidelined him for a bit) we are in full training mode for a big 2013. He signs up for many road races as part of his training but dosen’t taper for any of them. We generally work them into his existing schedule and if they make sense, I let him off the leash to go hard.
Since this was his first 1/2 marathon ever, it held a slightly higher significance. This is in addition to his plans to race his first 70.3 later this year. An early season long effort like this is acceptable as long as it dosen’t interfere with his current training too much. His long runs during the early spring base got up to 11 miles and he was holding up nicely in both endurance and lack of injury. So we planned for him to race this thing with minimal taper and see how things went.
And they went very well as evidenced by his pacing, HR and final time. We can see from the HR graph that, with the exception of some HR strap error in the beginning, his HR slope over the course of the race was nearly perfect. No jagged spikes or troughs (except for quick stops to drink), just a steadily increasing effort to the top his LT (Lactate Threshold) zone:
Perfect gradually rising HR slope
In addition, he spent the large majority of his time at his Tempo pace with about 20min brushing the top of his LT
Nice meaty HR distribution under LT pace for most of the race
His splits show nice consistency given the terrain. The only exception being the 2nd mile where he was reading an erroneously high HR and backed off the pace (as he should.) Had the strap been working, his time would have been even faster which brings up a good point. Technology is great and generally should be relied upon but can sometimes lead to errors. If he listened to his body closely in that second mile, he should have felt that there was no way his HR was that high and ignored it until it corrected. This is sometimes very difficult to determine though so no blame here.
Well paced splits
As the race entered the last few miles he had enough left in the tank to increase his speed slightly. This was something I didn’t have and you can see a great illustration of this with this graph provided by NYRR with points at 5k, 10k, 15k and 20k.
He overtook me just after the 15k mark
In the end, he ran a better race and with a few tweaks could have even gone faster. All of this considering he didn’t taper.
Specialized has surprised the cycling and triathlon community with a brand new wind tunnel constructed specifically to study and design bikes, fit single riders and even small groups. In addition they can test every piece of cycling accessory they make from helmets and bottle cages to low resistance clothing in order to reduce turbulence and create a streamlined profile. As Specialized insists: Aero is huge. Indeed it is and so is their commitment to bike design, clearly.
Specialized newly built low speed wind tunnel
They announced this new development, as brands are choosing to do more and more, through Twitter. On my twitter feed a few pro triathletes (both sponsored by Specialized and not) retweeted
Normally, bike companies must vie for time in existing tunnels which are generally designed for cars or airplane parts and generate much greater windspeeds. In addition to not being cycling specific, they are very very expensive so everything must be planned to the second during the reserved time and only certain prototypes can be brought to testing. Specialized won’t have to worry about any of that now and every single design and idea they have can be attacked first with Computer Fluid Dynamics (CFD, which will get you pretty far) and then tested in the “real world”
The competitive advantage here is obvious and they will milk it for all its worth. Look for other bike behemoths in the next few years to follow suit (I’m looking at you Cannondale and Trek!)
It was announced today that the WTC, the company behind the Ironman brand, will be implementing some new protocols for the swim portions of some of its North American Ironman races. The Ironman is a race with passionate adherents and while relatively young compared to more popular sports, changes to the fundamental structure are met with just as much apprehension and occasionally, vitriol, as new rules in basketball or football.
As with these other sports, the new rules are meant to protect the health and safety of the participants and allow for a smoother execution of the event. Many of the changes put forth in what the WTC is calling its SwimSmart program are logical, education based and easy to implement. You can find a comprehensive list on its Press Release.
Easy and obvious wins for this program in Phase 1 that will mostly likely be welcomed by even the most hardcore Ironman are:
Pre-Race swim warmup whenever possible
Numbered bouys to aid in guidance (these were great in Wisconsin)
Anchored resting rafts strategically placed along course for distressed swimmers to hang on with no penalty (my favorite)
Increased personnel and boats
Phase II will be largely education and screening based, attempting to inform athletes about all the challenges of open water swimming and screening them for preconditions that could make swimming dangerous.
This is all well and good. On the message boards and facebook, no one seems to be freaking about most of this. Where the trouble comes in are the changes to the swim start itself. Beginning this year a pilot program including 5 upcoming races, Coeur d’Alene, Placid, Tremblant, Tahoe and Florida will be changing how athletes begin their races.
Traditionally, all 2000+ racers in an Ironman all line up at once in the water (some on land if there isn’t room), the gun goes off and everyone has 17 hours to get to the finish line. If you take a while to get in the water, or are late to the start, you are out of luck and have lost that time. The proposed changes involve wave starts either self-seeded (Coeur d’Alene, Placid, Tahoe and Florida) or by wave (Tremblant) The athletes at Tahoe and Florida will still only have 17 hours from the gun time to complete the race. All the rest will only be timed from when the athletes cross their timing mat.
The benefits to this are obvious. People will be around other athletes who are of equal capabilities reducing the amount of trampling. In addition, a steady stream of people reduces congestion and contact with other athletes. For novice swimmers this takes out alot of the anxiety of a mass swim start and reduces the intensity of an open water swim of this kind.
But thats just it. The Ironman isn’t supposed to be easier. Its not even supposed to be good for you. This is an ultimate test of endurance brought to life by 15 insane guys in Hawaii in the late 70s. Its what draws us crazies out of our boring lives to train for 9-12 months simply to be able to successfully complete one. Completing something hard takes dedication, work and practice which is why alot of us do it. Ironmen aren’t in it for easy. So any perceived watering down of a race as iconic as Ironman with a fan base as fanatic as we are will usually be met with friction.
The swim start is a fundamental aspect of this race. Everyone who tows the line at these races knows the insanity that will be unleashed by the other 2000 racers. The mental challenge of facing this prospect along with the physical one of not only moving forward but not drowning is daunting. But its also very special. Knowing you can handle it, make it through that washing machine makes this race very meaningful. One of the most memorable moments during my Wisconsin Ironman in ’10 was treading water among my fellow triathletes as we gazed at the throngs of spectators on shore and heard the anthem sung to us. The sun rose at our back as we were all there, as one, about to embark on something special. Taking out this shared experience will be a great loss.
But, as a coach, I’m torn. I have clients of all abilities who all have goals that they are working towards. I love to see people who don’t consider themselves capable of any of the 3 disciplines attack all 3 at once and work hard to finish their first race. Triathlon should welcome as many people as possible into its ranks because its awesome and its good for the sport. These changes are big steps towards making these races easier to execute, easier for the first time Ironman to contemplate and safer for everyone. This may also open the door for more Ironman races in venues where a wave start is the only option (RIP NYC)
Am I happy with the SwimStart program? Mostly. But I am concerned for the larger idea of the Ironman. We should take care not to water down this race (pun intended.) It is meant to be tough. It is meant to weed out the weak and unprepared. It should always mean something to have your name called out after 140 miles and hear “You are an Ironman” after it. Lets make sure to keep it that way.
Yesterday morning I kicked off my 2013 Tri season with one of my favorite early-season races the MiniMightyMan. I’ve been participating in this race since 2007 and generally try not to miss it. This is my 6th time and probably the most memorable.
This race has gone through some serious growth over the years but the organizers have increased the field dramatically over the last couple. When I first raced in 2007, only 162 athletes were in the race. Last year there were 370 finishers and this year 459. The pool deck at the start of the race is now a sea of people
Swim Start -Athletes 5 sec apart
With more participants comes more competition and quicker times which is an excellent motivator. Swimmers seed themselves along the pool deck by estimated time and usually there are only 10-15 people lined up ahead of me. This year there were at least 40 that we’re looking for Sub 7:00′s for a 400m swim that snakes across 8 lanes. That means that either there were alot more swimmers this year or people were really confused. Upon exiting the water in 6:55 I found both to be true. I’ve never passed anyone in the pool before but this year I went by at least 8 people over the course of this short race. At the same time, there were 32 people faster than me which is a huge jump as well.
Action shot from the swim
After exiting the water I sprinted quickly to the brand new transition area which was moved this year due to construction around the pool. As usual I found it well organized and easy to navigate. I made the decision a day or two earlier to forgo a tri top as I have in past years to save on drag in the pool and vowed not to waste time in T2 by putting anything else on. After a couple topless minutes on the bike and for the rest of the race I noticed I was the only one to make this choice and I soon felt why. The temperature hovered in the 40′s with some serious wind. I got more than a handful of strage looks from the (awesome) volunteers. Still, the only things that were really cold were my feet and hands and I figured those would have been anyway.
After a slightly slower bike than last year (despite being on the brand new Cervelo P2!) which I’m going to attribute to some significant headwind and a pretty high HR after the swim, I cruised into T2. The bike course which remained the same is always easy to navigate and the wide roads allow easy passing on the left. Though my garmin measured only 5miles rather than the 6 the race claims:
T2 flew by as I fumbled with numb fingers to put on my lightweight KSwiss shoes and off I went onto the new out-and-back run course. This change in route was again a result of the construction but I always prefer an out and back course rather than loops. It was well marked and staffed which resulted in little thinking and fast running. A lanky 14 year old with an awkward running gait passed me like I was standing still (ah to be young again) but otherwise I held my own taking nearly 1min per mile off of last years run time (my most improved leg)
I came barreling down the finish chute 3rd in my Age Group and 10th overall shirtless and smiling as my wife snapped my pic
Finished and smiling with a clock time of 36.49
The much expanded finish area replete with more sponsors, tents and food was a welcome sight and a great place to connect and watch the rest of the finishers stream in. The only downer was the chilly temps and steady wind which pushed us back in the pool for 20 minutes to warm up as we waited for the awards ceremony which follows the last finisher (almost 1hr 40min plus the delay in getting into the water) If you think you’re on the podium or want to stay around for the raffle, you may want to go grab coffee nearby or bring a book. If you’re like me and know lots of other great triathletes, this is a great time to recap and reconnect and take goofy pics.
Gregg Gordon, myself and John Niers enjoying our spoils
John, Gregg and I directly following the finish
Boys and their toys- Cervelos for all - S5, P2,P3 and P5
But, it CAN be totally worth hanging around even if you aren’t looking for an AG award. Every year the organizers finish off the day with a great raffle and the only requirements are a race number and you physically still being there. Even if everyone stayed you’re odds of winning something are pretty darn good. Which I happily discovered at the very end when the awesome guys at The Hub donated a Scott Speedster for raffle which, yes, I won!
Stunned as I walked up with the winning ticket
Rocking some new Scott wheels
Jason from The HUB and me with the new wheels
Overall, this was a terrific start to my 2013 season. I took 1min 40sec off last years time, got on the podium and into the top 10 overall. And now I have a new bike to turn too when I can’t handle being aero anymore in training. Thanks a million to EventPower for a predictably awesome race day and everyone over at The HUB for my new ride.
So, I own a ContourHD
which I love. The non GPS version which keeps Big Brother from tracking me down as I ride the streets of NYC. But Go Pro just released a new version of its beloved camera Go Pro Hero3 with a bunch of upgrades that make me gnash my teeth in jealousy. It now has a 12MP camera that can shoot 4K video at 12 fps, or 1080p video at up to 60 fps. It also comes with a Wi-Fi remote. If you are shooting down some technical single track or slaloming through traffic you can whip out your iphone and control the camera strapped to your helmet while trying not to die. I guess you can use it for livestreaming too but you need a serious media presence in order to make it worthwhile when you alert the masses upon embarking an “epic ride.”
Either way the optics look awesome and if you don’t have a 6 year old Mac than you can handle the huge files these camera produce so you can edit all those red lights you run.