Friday, May 30, 2008

Cap Tex Tri Pictures

This past weekend I got off work late (around 7:30 AM -- due to someone not finishing their job, so I had to do it for them) but I still went down to the Cap Tex Tri. I've never done this race largely because of all the races I've been to, this one is the most fun to watch. It is a very, very spectator friendly course. One of the few I know of where the swim, bike and the run can be watched simultaneously from the bridges that cross Town Lake at either end of the swim course. This years' race was amazing with local favorite Brandon Marsh leading the race into the first 2.5 miles of the 10k run where he was caught by Mexico's Francisco Serrano. Brandon was able to hold on to second place though coming in about a minute behind Serrano.

Truth be told, I should never be allowed near any event with a camera. When I got home I had taken almost 700 photos. And I left long before it was over. So anyway here are a few of the more interesting pix...

Swimming in tandem.

Brandon Marsh cruising in the lead on the first lap. That speck over his right shoulder would be Francisco Serrano, the race's eventual winner.

'En masse' on the bike.

Drafting anyone?

Ladies with very bright futures!

Alone in a sea of bikes while the race goes on...

Somehow he swerved into her lane?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tao of Training: Third Insight

"Better to stop short than fill to the brim. Over sharpen the edge and the blade will soon blunt... Retire when work is done. This is the way of Heaven."
Know when to quit. Respect your limits. Understand when a workout stops being beneficial to you and end it there. No advice could be so simple and yet so ignored. One day as I was running around the lake, I had done about 5 of my planned 8 miles. The run felt really good. My heart rate was right where it should be, but there was a cold front coming in and the temperature had already dropped by about 20 degrees since I'd started running. To complete my workout I'd have to run by my car and come back to it. I opted to stop running while I still felt good and my clothing was still adequate. The additional 3 or 4 miles was not going to mean much fitness-wise if I wound up sick because of another 10 or 20 degree drop in temperature that could have occurred in the interim.

This advice is especially relevant if I am contemplating a speed phase. Before I might have a 6 week block of speed work scheduled and I might try to extend it to 8 weeks to see if I could eek out more from myself. In retrospect, not understanding and respecting this one insight is probably the reason for each and every injury I have ever had. Now I'm satisfied to complete 5 good weeks and wrap things up. Sometimes, especially in triathlon, less has to be more.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tao of Training: Second Insight

...Magnify the small and increase the few... Achieve greatness in little things

There are three ways I see this idea influencing my training. First is by doing more frequent, but shorter duration workouts that emphasize technique. There were times in the past where I ran into scheduling conflicts that left large time gaps in my training log or I stopped training altogether because I couldn't find the large blocks of time I felt necessary to meet my goals. But five years away from doing something gives me a much different perspective. Instead of lamenting the 2, 3, or 4 hour blocks of time I don't have on a given day, I try to focus on the 15, 30, or 60 minute blocks of time I do have an make better use of those. I like to use these "mini" workouts to do those things I normally wouldn't because of my short attention span. 15 minutes in the pool working on my stroke/technique is way better than no time spent in the water at all. The same goes for 30 minute trainer sessions on the bike which emphasize pedal stroke and cadence, or my 15 minute treadmill runs which focus on leg turnover and speed at a low heart rate. They all count toward my goals and I do them to get me ready for those times when I can train in 4 or 5 hour blocks. I can also use these small blocks of time to do core work, mini yoga sessions targeting trouble spots, or body weight workouts. These are things which all contribute to my overall fitness and allow me to get and keep my body ready for the more time consuming work to come.

Second, I try to focus on the little things that get me ready to train. Now I spend time thinking about how I am going to eat and sleep leading up to key training sessions. I try to spend as much or more time planning my food and my recovery as I do my races and training. During my recovery days and weeks, I schedule massages, Rolfing, acupuncture, naturopathic and nutrition appointments to stay on top of my overall health and wellbeing. In one sense, I may not be a professional triathlete, but where ever possible, I really try to treat myself as if I were one. Where this is paying off is now I find myself better prepared to actually execute and achieve my goals. I am injured less, except for the bike wreck, and I'm generally pain free and rested prior to key workouts. This in turn sees me actually meeting more of my goals because now I am paying more attention to the things that actually make it possible for me to train and race well. And as a result I have a much more positive outlook.

Third, I try to remember to celebrate my small victories. Instead of focusing on race times, placings, or PR's, I focus on smaller triumphs like having my run stride feel fluid and effortless, or taking ten perfect strokes in the water, or pedalling so as to take full advantage of "power points" and floating up climbs. I focus on the things I am learning and make note of even the smallest improvement. I know triathletes who get discouraged after all the training, the time, and the sacrifices they've made and see no reward or payback on raceday because they didn't have the race they expected or didn't beat someone. I like to keep my triumphs small and personal. This way I always see constant improvement. I am discovering when I take care of the small things, the big things really do take care of themselves which is exactly what "magnify the small, increase the few" means.