Well, it's been awhile since my last post... there's been a lot going on, both in and out of triathlon since last October when my bike seat dropped on me and ruined a perfectly good race. Uh oh, that sounds like I'm making excuses, which I hate... but it's relevant because...
I got a new bike!
This was one of the many changes I made in the past half a year. It has been great so far... the Guru dynamic fitting process was fantastic, the bike itself is fast and comfortable, and no mechanical issues after 5 races! And not that it matters, but I have to say it looks pretty slick too.
My favorite part of the bike. Thanks Guru for the sweet custom paint job! I'll post more pics in a few weeks
Besides getting a new bike, there's been a lot going on and many changes during the off season. As a few of you know I took quite a long off season this past year. For three months (Dec-Feb) I did next to nothing as far as workouts go. I probably biked for 30 minutes once a week, but other than that I did nothing. And I got pretty out of shape. Some of you won't believe me, but seriously. I felt pretty lousy. My FTP on the bike dropped by 25% and when I jumped in the pool with the Wisconsin Tri team in early March for my first swim in months I had to stop after 350 yards (we were doing a 500, and not fast either) to let the whole lane lap me. And if they hadn't been lapping me I still would've stopped because my heart rate was out of control. I know it's relative but I haven't felt so out of shape in over 6 years. I always take an off season but this was extreme.
However, I honestly wasn't worried about it. It was a good thing for me because it gave me time to focus on other things. The biggest changes that have affected my season in a positive way this year came out of that time and it might surprise some that the most important positive changes weren't to my training plan or equipment or anything else sport specific for that matter. I'm entering this season with a slightly different perspective and motivation to train and race. There was actually a period of time this past winter, and very few people knew this until now, that I was debating with myself if I was going to keep doing triathlon (as a competitive athlete... I will always enjoy swim/bike/run for fun). I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons. And the right reasons for me might not be the same as the right reasons for someone else. Another big difference is that I have made some more significant dietary changes and am eating much better overall.
Quinoa and chicken parmesan that I cooked between races at the Triple T. Quinoa is my newfound favorite carb base (it's the only grain that has complete proteins as well as far as I know)
Don't ask why, but this was the highlight of the trip for a couple of the guys... speaking of nutrition.
This is what we actually did all week. Prepping to enter the 55 degree lake in our backyard that I swam in every day that week. Actually proved to be helpful for the most recent aquathon (see bottom of post)
I arrived at my first race not sure what to expect. I had found a new energy in the preceding month. I had been working the swim and bike very hard and seeing big gains but given the short training block to prepare I had kept the run on the back burner and was only running about 10mi/week max. I have the most talent of the three sports in running (ok it's the only sport I have any natural talent in) so I figured my limited time was best spent on the other two. When I left for Knoxville it was raining hard. When I got there it was still raining hard. It didn't stop until I got back to Madison. The Knoxville bike course had small rivers running across it and had some pretty technical descents. Having only had 2 days outdoors on my tri bike, I played it very conservatively on the downhills and braked a lot. This killed any chance I had of placing near the top, as I probably lost at least 5 minutes slowing myself down but I'm glad I didn't take the risk. The season was just starting and I wasn't comfortable yet, not to mention the fact that I was shaking uncontrollably in the cold rain on the bike whenever I stopped pedaling. However apart from that it was a very promising race as far as the rest of the season is concerned. My swim was strong, my power was high on the bike and my 37min 10k run split was surprisingly fast for the little time I put into it.
I made some improvements to my swim technique since last season, which is why my swims have all been strong so far this year. In November, just before I took my 3 months off, I travelled down to Islamorada, FL in the keys to the Race Club to be a swimmer for a week. My coach was Gary Hall Sr: Olympic gold medalist, elite swim coach and a pretty laid back guy, too. But when it came time to swim, it was all business and I learned a lot. In general and about what I was doing specifically. One thing that he was really great at was complimenting you while at the same time motivating you to do better... or reminding you that you have a lot to work on. Kind of like backhanded compliments except with no negative intent. For example, he has all his swimmers do a pretty intense stretching series every day, and while we were doing this one shoulder stretch he said to me "
Ice baths in the river after each race. Recovery is the name of the game at Triple T.