Monday, May 28, 2012

Half Ironman Challenge Calella - Fem un homenatge!

My first ever triathlon was in the Half Ironman Challenge Calella, with my homies Toni & Ferran, back in May 2009 - so many things has happened and I have learned so much and enjoyed every step of it. This day we are all there again, but now with so much more friends - triathlon is really like a nice family and it makes me extremely happy to see friends racing and cheering on the side. And of course racing on home turf is emotional and you want to do good - and so we did!

The morning was sunny and calm - a quick dip and off in the 3rd AG wave in the flat, coldish and salty waters of Costa Brava. Quick found a good pace and cadence. For the first time I was swimming in competition with the Garmin 910XT HRM, which monitors performance in all 3 sports and even times your transitions. First new and very valid data is, that I was swimming at 70 strokes per minute (up from 55 SPM) - which is the fruit of the swim technique work I did with Aleksandar, when he was here in Barcelona a month ago. Now, to me, a higher cadence theoretically makes you faster, but also helps you use stronger muscle groups (shorter stroke) and actually works great in open water. Maybe thats why you always see pros with very high cadence - all the way to 80-90 SPM. The swim was (again) a bit longer - some mentioned 2050m, but made landfall after 31 minutes, which is (again) a personal best - so good to see another good improvement in the swim and I still feel I could push slightly more.

The bike was set to be epic - the main road is N-II which is honestly my favorite training grounds. Except for the bumpy (speed bumps) entry to/from Calella, where people crash and drop bottles, it was to tuck into position and push the agreed 244 watts and enjoy the show. No winds, so flew out at around 39.5 km/m at 244W, turned around and to my surprise now had a slight tail wind, so coming home at speeds above 45 km/h was just amazing. I had a Basque and French guys on my wheel on all flats, who took turns to blow by me on the small hills. I later took over the Basque on the run and I never saw the Frenchie again. Don't push to hard on the hills - it´ll burn your legs and fill them with lactic acid, which you will pay for on the run! Entering T2 after 2h13m on the bike - another PB and 40.4 km/h on average. Turned out to be the 2nd best bike split amongst all age groupers (non-professionals) of the day. Only 16 pros went faster on the bike!

My hope was to go under 1h30m on the run, and felt really good running at the right goal pace of 4:15 min/km until km16. Nutrition worked well and I tried to push as much as I could from km18, but I kept loosing a bit of time, so ended up running 21.6 km in 1h32m, fairly OK after a good effort on the bike. I would still like to run better, as I can see the people I swim and bike with go around 4:00 min/km. Nutrition worked perfect all day and although it got quite warm I never had any stomach issues as I have had in the past on hot days. Finished in 4h20m - new PB on the distance, which I think we can approve, considering very little tapering plus the slightly longer swim and run!
Finished 4th in my age group.  And 12th position across all age groupers!

Now 6 weeks to IM Frankfurt - looking forward to evaluating the race with coach and start really preparing for this seasons A-race!  Cheers T

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tuning Up - Lighter is better

"You Big Heap of Meat" - was the rude outburst from coach Aleksandar, when he saw me in Speedos before a swim training, some 3 weeks back. No offense taken, of course he was joking, but also opening my eyes, that:
  1. The heavy sets of strength-swim during the winter had built an above-normal muscle mass on my upper body, arms, shoulders and chest.
  2. My racing weight would potentially be way lower than the 72-73 kg that I have always been aiming for - the level where my last belly fat seems to disappear. 
So currently aiming to drop from around 73 kg to approx. 69 kg, which should be feasible in the next 3-4 weeks leading up to the Half Ironman, Challenge Maresme by the end of May.
Various calculators on the web can tell you, that dropping weight will make you faster, except maybe during swimming where the extra body fat makes you float a bit better. But on the bike and on especially on the run, low weight converts into faster races.

For a Marathon I have seen predictions that running 4-5 kg lighter will make you (theoretically) 8-10 mintues faster, which is HUGE in a world where we are basically chasing grams on the bike and minutes on an Ironman.

In the next post I will reveal a few little tricks to manage weight and what I apply to drop weight in a healthy way - It´s simply really. Wish me luck

Macca (left) is or was known to be the heaviest ever Ironman Champion at almost 80 kgs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finally a flawless execution - Banyoles B Distance

Almost recovered with the knee after the crash in Valencia, the last few months has been a bit more race specific. Banyoles is the Catalan championship in the "B-distance" (2200m swim, 80km bike and 20km run) and a local classic, that normally attracts the best age groupers.

The swim was cut a bit short to 1650m due to 14 degree water temperature (as in Valencia) but it actually felt OK. Amazing to have Blanca there and give me warmth before the cold swim. Plunged right into it and bruised my knees on the bottom - I simply don´t understand why they insist on a "jump-start" instead of a water start.

Banyoles Swim Start

Well - off we go and actually felt really well. No anxiety and for the first time (probably ever) I felt swimming was great. I kept pushing all the way and I could definitely feel that the effect of many strength swims had me stronger now. I think I could have gone bit faster for this distance, but came out in 26 minutes for 1700m, which would be PR - very nice!

Bit slow in T1 as I had issues coming out of the wetsuit being quite cold now. But happily off to the bike and the sun was shining. I must congratulate the organizers in Banyoles. This race is so simple, yet so perfect. There´s a few aid stations and guiding is done very properly. All races should be learning from this. On the downside the race is infamous for drafting and though the Catalan Tri Federation was present as marshalls, they apparently let people draft at will. I had a group of at least 20 bikes in front of me most of the way, riding light roadbikes on the hilly course, and then shaping a nice little group on the flats and downhills - drafting like this is a disgrace and I am happy I am not racing for neither fame or money in this game.

Flying on the E118 with a disc, which maybe wasn´t optimal for this hilly course.
Thanks TriEnjoy for the photo and to Guillermo for tuning the rig before the race! 

I was racing without watts (the SRM is on 3rd weeks in Germany for repair), but had agreed on a tight HR range from 162-164 and kept myself there, except on the climbs. Again, I feel that I had a bit more in the legs and was some 3-4 minutes from the fastest bikes on the day over the 75km. Not bad, but I am sure I would be able to manage my effort better with watts.

On the run, I set out at 4:25 min/km. I have been injured in the knee since the Valencia crash so haven´t run as much and as fast as I had hoped for. However, legs were good and I moved closer to 4:20 until around 12km, took a gel and another caffein tablet which gave me a boost of energy and I managed to stay at 4:25 until around 17 or 18 km, where I started pushing harder. I ran all the way through and it felt good to have the extra energy to push harder the last 2-3 km, something I never had in the past. Again, getting the pace right is so cruzial. Thanks to coach Aleksandar, who again hit the spot perfectly on planning my race and paces, which made it fairly easy to execute without feeling any real highs or lows during the day. Overall probably the best race I have ever put together. Felt I could go a bit faster on all 3 sports and finishing like 10 minutes from top10 is approved I guess.

Next up is Half Ironman in Challenge Maresme on the 27th of May. Main aim here is to run better (maybe 4:15?) and race below 70 kg, which means I must drop 3.5 kg before then - not impossible at all. Two months to Ironman Frankfurt!