Tag: Racing

Racing a Half Marathon with Power: What I learned

A little less than two weeks ago I raced my first stand alone half marathon. The first time I had raced 13.1 miles without first swimming and cycling beforehand. There was a lot I learned both during that race, as well as in the lead up to that race. The majority of that came from my first training block based solely on running power. Here’s what I learned:

1. Most people run at a more variable power than you think

This one surprised me. In the transition from basing my tri air on pace to passing it on power I learned a lot about holding consistent power over different terrain. I knew I needed to back off on the uphill and push it on the down hills to keep the same power. What I didn’t realize is how variable most people are when it comes to power.

I train on fairly flat terrain here in Eastern North Carolina. My race was more towards the central part of the state and was described as “rolling.” At one point a man I was running along side simply looked over at me and said “up and down, up and down!” I noticed so much in this race how, when I would hold a steady power over the hills, so many people would pass me going up, and then I would pass them right back going down. And I was towards the front of the race where you would expect the more experienced pacers to be.

2. Consistent Effort is King

The focus on consistent power is all about effort. A variable effort wears you down more. Cyclists and triathletes who train with power on the bike probably have heard of the metric called “Variability Index” or VI. The VI tells you how variable your effort is. So if the workout is multiple 400m repeats, it will be highly variable. If it is 90 minutes at Tempo, it will be less variable.

In a race situation, keeping a consistent effort allows you to have more gas in the tank at the end. This race was probably my best paced race ever. At the 5 mile mark I picked up the pace (power) slightly and then again at the 10 mile mark. That last 5k was focused on a consistent uptick in pace ever mile or half mile. That last half mile was all uphill until the final .1 where I gunned it to the finish. I am not sure how many people I passed in that final 5k, but It felt good to finish with a strong kick and not have anything left in the tank when I crossed that line!

3. Run Downhill!

I mentioned this before, but taking it easy on the downhill makes no sense. It is harder on your quads. You spend energy braking yourself. You miss the advantage gravity give you!

I stated before that I passed so many people on the down hill. If you look at my power file, I also never got up to my goal power on those down hills either. I simply opened my stride and let gravity do it’s thing. Next time you are in a race, Run down the hills!

4. Train top end speed

This was more from the lead up to the event, but I spent a lot of time working on my top end speed. Speed drills, VO2max drills, miles repeats, you name it, I did it. These all are at the opposite end of the effort spectrum from where I was racing, but they improved my economy. The better your efficiency, the faster you run. Which leads me to my last point:

5. You’re faster than you think you are

This was eye-opening to me. I finished with an average pace of right around 7:30/mile. With that as an average for 13.1 miles that just blew my mind. I had paced shorter legs of a triathlon much slower than that before. I’m sure part of it was the top end speed work I did, but I believe part of it was the mental disconnect between power and pace. I had tri and without ever looking at pace. I raced without ever looking at my pace. I just held the watts because I knew I could. In the end, I was faster than I had ever run for such a long distance.

I think some of us, my self included obviously, keep a mental tab on how fast we are going and when it reaches a certain point our brains tell us to slow down for fear of imploding. This is really discussed in detail in Matt Fitzgerald’s book “How Bad Do You Want It?” There is a huge mental side to suffering during a race. When I took my mind off the speed numbers and put them on a power number, suddenly holding that pace felt easier. It allowed me to dig deeper and unleash more of my potential.

Going into this next season I am looking forward to training with power and I’ll keep sharing the lessons I learn along the way. If you don’t want to miss any of them, make sure you sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email! You’ll also get a FREE 5k or sprint triathlon training plan, and you’ll be the first to get my new Half Marathon POWER training plan!

OBX Triathlon Race Report (2017 Half) Part 2- Vacation

Racecation! There is nothing better than combining a vacation to an awesome destination with a race weekend! This is the second year in a row I’ve come to the Outer Banks Triathlon for a racecation. The Outer banks are a great place to vacation, and Outer Banks Sporting Events puts on a great race.

This is part 2 of my “racecation” report. See part 1 for all the details of the race portion of the racecation. Here in part 2, I’ll go over some of the things you should look at when planning a racecation and how things went for us this year!

Timing

This year we decided to arrive a day earlier than we did last year. For a Saturday race we got in to town on Thursday afternoon to give us a half a day to get settled and then a morning to relax and enjoy the beach before focusing on pre-race activities like packet pick-up, naps, dinner, etc. we also back loaded the trip with a few extra days to enjoy the beach and the sights before we had to head back. We prefer back loading the trip instead of front loading it so that we can enjoy time off as a family instead of spending most of the trip thinking about the race that is coming up.

Accommodations 

This year we went with a VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) instead of a hotel. This was the right move. First of all, sharing a hotel room with small children is a nightmare for sleep. Second, being able to cook your own food is a must. I don’t think I’ll do it any other way for a race ever again (I know I know… never say never!) The rule of thumb for a race is to be as comfortable as possible and keep to as close to a normal routine as possible. Being in a house instead of a hotel made a world of difference in that department!

Plan for the worst 

Nothing new on race day is always the biggest rule for an A race. Practice everything! I had everything down and practiced, but I wanted to make doubly sure, so I went for a bike ride in my race gear the day before the race. I’m so glad I did! Somewhere in transit between the bike shop and the beach, one of my tires started to run AND I had a bit of brake rub too! I spent a good 30 to 45 minutes getting that all worked out and went for my ride. On the ride, my power meter was going haywire! Dropping to 0 and then never really getting over 200. S bit of troubleshooting that afternoon and I decided the best thing was to replace the batteries. I didn’t bring any so I went to the grocery store and bought the LAST PACKAGE OF BATTERIES they had that fit my power meter. Altering replacing those and recalibration etc. things were as good as new.

Lessons learned… bring extra batteries (and change them before a big race even if you think you don’t need to). Also, check everything and bring extras. I had a back up plan if my power meter was shot, but it would not have been fun at all. Thankfully I was able to get it all worked out without taking it to the local bike shop. But that’s another lesson: know where the LBS is before you go on your trip!

Unwinding

Like I said, we backloaded our trip with real vacation days after the race. The OBX is a great place for a family to visit! I’ve been going there since I was a little boy and now I get to take my family and keep that tradition alive!

We spent most of our time beaching it up… so basically… spending a hour getting all the kids changed and sunscreen on, loading the car, driving a block to the public beach access, and setting up on the beach. Then we spent about 1 1/2 to 2 hours trying to keep the little ones happy and especially keep the littlest one from eating any sand. It’s great fun!

In all seriousness, we love the beach and even the slight hassle of taking small children to the beach is worth the memories.

We also hit up some of the local restaurants like Sugar Creek Seafood. This one of our favorites… you have got to try the Shrimp and grits! It also have an awesome sunset view over the sound! We also found a sweet little coffee shop that we took a couple of trips to over the weekend. It’s called the Front Porch Cafe and it is wonderful! They roast all the coffee locally and have a wonderful environment to just hand out including a little play area for the kids! Score!!

Obviously the Outer Banks is known for 2 main things: Lighthouses and the Wright Memorial/ Jockey’s Ridge. We spent one afternoon seeing lighthouses and another flying kites at Jockey’s Ridge. Pro tip: park at Kitty Hawk Kites and walk across the road to the park. It’s a long walk if you park at the actual state park parking area. Plus, you can also buy a kite right there if you need it!

Final Thoughts

We had a great trip with the family all around. There is just nothing like going to the beach and enjoying time together, and to add in a race and the fact that it was not peak beach season makes things even better! I hope you have been able to pick up some pointers on planning a racecation and that I’ve inspired you to plan your own. The OBX Triathlon is a great place to start, but any destination race would be awesome to bring your family along and enjoy time together after a successful race!

What are you favorite places to “racecation.” I’d love to hear about it! Hit my up in the comments below or on Twitter!

4 Thoughts On Season Planning

You may have noticed things have been quiet around here over the last month. I would say that was intentional… but that would kinda be lying a bit. The month of July has been crazy for me, and that’s normal for my job (I’m a Youth Pastor… summer means we throw the schedule in the trash as soon as we make it and pack in as much as we can while school is out!) This past month we’ve had a Community Outreach Week, a trip to an amusement park, a week-long trip to Atlanta, GA (Go Braves!!) and various other things thrown in like planning for the start of the school year,  family coming to town, and even church softball.

With all that craziness, my triathlon focus went out the door. I was able to keep up my bike rides for the most part. Runs were cut short, and swimming… well… I only swam 3 times in the month of July.

That put me down the path of thinking about season planning. We all know when our busy time of year is. If you’re in retail, Black Friday to New Years is your time. If you are in Education, the start and end of the school year are your time. I’m not going to go through them all, but you know what your time is. Since you know it, you should also take a look at your triathlon (or individual sport) season and plan accordingly. Here are 4 ways you can help ease that tension between life and triathlon life by planning ahead. Continue reading

Race Report- Bridge to Pier Triathlon

Your first triathlon will always hold a special place in your heart. Somehow, we feel a special connection to the place we first cut our teeth in the sport. The first time we put Swim, Bike, Run together in a single event. For me, that was on Oak Island, NC at the Bridge to Pier Triathlon.

I had this event marked on my calendar this year, but through a series of random events had decided not to register. Then, the monday before the race, I get an email telling me this was going to be the final year for the event. “I have got to do this” I told my wife. So… We did. I signed up at 7:30am on thursday, 30 minutes before online registration closed. At 4:30am Saturday, with the car loaded down with food and toys for the family (oh… and my triathlon stuff too lol) we started the 2+ hour drive to the race.

Pre Race

We got a nice view of the sunrise over the lovely North Carolina farmland. I ran over an opossum trying to cross the road. We made 2 potty breaks… 1 along the side of the road, and our 2 year old didn’t go back to sleep at all in the car. But we got there with plenty of time for the family to change out of their PJ’s and for me to pick up my race packet and set up in transition.

I figured out pretty quickly why this was the last year of the race. less than 100 people were in transition. A big thanks to Jones Racing Company for not canceling the race. I hope they didn’t lose money on it. On the flip side, my whole rack in Transition was first timers. Something I love about the sport and this race in particular. I shared some encouragement and got all my stuff in order. They announce that the official water temp was 76 degrees… Wetsuit legal! This would be my first race with a wetsuit, and only my 2nd swim in one!

Swim- 1/3 mile 12:16

The swim was rather choppy. Being in the ocean I had expected as much, but it seemed a little more so than usual. I was in the first wave with about 12 or 14 other guys. Going out to the buoy was rough! Once I made the tun I couldn’t see the sight buoy over the waves, and it didn’t help that our swim caps were red and the sight buoy was orange! I had to strategically time my sighting so I was at the top of a wave to get a good sight on the buoy. As is normal for me, I couldn’t swim straight and had to swim most of the course alone. I made decent time though, and I even think the course was marked a little long. My time 3 years ago for my first tri ever I did was 10 minutes. I know I’m a better swimmer now, so that would be why my swim was over 2 minutes slower.

The other obstacle was the rocks right along the edge of the water. I got out way off the mark from the flags they put down, so the rocks hadn’t been cleared. I still ran as much as I could to get to the timing mat up the road about 100 yards or so.

T1- 1:15

Another 50 yards from the timing mat and I was in Transition. It’s a little weird that they put the mat for Swim end and run start so far outside of transition. That would explain the long T1. I was very pleased with how fast I got my wetsuit off. For my first wetsuit race, I was thrilled actually!

Bike- 16.25 miles- 43:13

cycling has always been my strength! since I’m in the middle of building towards the Half-Iron distance, I didn’t quite have the short course speed I wanted, but I rode at about 95% of my FTP as much as I could. That high-end sustained power just wasn’t there. Still, I biked down about 3 guys in front of me and was the 5th guy off the bike. (Once you count the other waves, I was the 6th fastest bike split of the day). I was thrilled with that again.

I had some tought mental issues at the start of the bike when my power wouldn’t come up, but I eventually got it there and by the time we crossed the bridge again I had passed the only guy I knew  would be competitive in my age group. I knew he was a decent swimmer and a poor biker, so I planned to catch up and put as much time as I could into him on the bike. I got about 2 minutes on him, but I also knew I couldn’t match his run.

T2- 0:57

Not much to say about my transition. Again, this is pretty slow for me for a T2 time since the run start timing mat was a good 50 yards up the road.

Run- 4 Miles- 29:02

Like I said, I didn’t have the short course speed. and I hadn’t done a brick since my last race in late April. So my run suffered. I struggled to hold 8:00 and had horrible side stitches. A mile in a started to feel better, and 1.5 miles in I got passed by the guy in my age group. Right before that, as I saw the guys up the road and started to feel better I had a thought of running them down, but that all faded. I did my best and held on for 9th place overall! I’ll take a top 10 when I can get it!

Wrap-up- 1:26:40

I love this race. It may be because it is the place of my first race, but they just do sch a great job making it family friendly and encouraging first timers. I thought my 4:30am wake up and 48 hour prep time was spontaneous (I am not spontaneous at all!) but there was a guy there who woke up at 2am and decided to race and made the drive from even further than me that morning for his first triathlon ever! They really went out of their way to encourage him. It was awesome!

Some takeaways for me personally is- Run more! I know your bike pacing is key to a good run, but I really havn’t pout the speed work in that I need, even for a 13.1. Also, my open water swims need help. I should put more time into that.

A big thanks to Trisports for keeping my kitted and equipped. I also felt great in my Brooks shoes and a HotShot before the race kept me cramp free even with red-lining the whole race! Of course, Honey Stinger filed me race from start to finish.

Next on the schedule is hopefully an olympic sometime in August and then it’s off to the OBX tri for the Half-Iron Distance!

What’s your next race?

Cary Du Classic- USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships 2017- Race Report

My first “A” race of the season is now complete! There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a solid block of training, a perfect taper, and stepping up to the start line with great form. I’m pleased to say I was able to do that this year at the Cary Du Classic!

This race has been on my schedule for the last 3 years in a row. The last 2 years it has been the host of the USAT Long Course Du National Champs. Each year the race itself has gotten better, and each year I have improved on my previous year’s performance.

However, this year’s course was significantly altered from the previous years, Continue reading

A Good Race Always Starts with a Good Plan- Part 2

It’s race week here at Triathlonpal HQ, so I am in full taper and race mode! I’m getting ready to race again at the Cary Du Classic which agian is the host for USAT’s Long Course Duathlon Nationals.

I’ve written before about the Art of a Taper for the week(s) leading up to your race, and I’ve even written about the advantage of detailed planning for the bike leg with Best Bike Split. But this week I’m honing in on my total race plan. Yesterday I sat down and write out every detail I could think of for the week leading up to race day, and then race day itself.

Why?

Because I’m a total “Type A” triathlete and OCD about most things.

Why should I?

The less you have to think about on race week and especially race day, the better. Also, the longer the race ad the further you travel for it, the more this gets magnified!

Continue reading

3 Things to Put in Your Training Log

Now you know you need to keep a training log, and you have your training log in hand (or on the computer). Now what do you put in that log?

Well I’m glad you asked! Really there is no wrong answer. Something to keep in mind though is that it is far better to put too much information in there than it is to put too little. You would rather be sifting through excess info to find what you need than to be wishing you had written something down. In general, I like to log these three types of info:

Continue reading

Smile… It’s All About Perspective

Smile… Seriously… Just take a second and smile 🙂

I was planning to post a review this morning, but a thought hit me on the trainer doing some 5 minute superathreshold intervals. I was reminded of something I heard in an interview with Trisports.com CEO Seton Claggett. He was asked what advice he would give new athletes. He passed along a perfect quote that was given to him as a young athlete.

Continue reading

2017 Sponsor: Honey Stinger

This Monday features another one of my sponsors for the 2017 season! This year I am partnering with Honey Stinger for my nutrition in training and racing. I’ve been impressed with Honey Stinger’s products and I am looking forward to the edge they will give me in 2017.

About Honey Stinger

Honey Stinger began very simply back in 1954 when beekeepers Ralph and Luella Gamber created an alternative to the candy bars of the day called the EN-R-G Bar. Alongside those early candy bars they also sold small, 2oz packets of honey labeled “Quick Energy.”

Continue reading

© 2017 Triathlonpal

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑