Saturday, September 25, 2010


Its time to test myself. The Pumkinman triathlon is 4 weeks away and I have to be able to gauge, if remotely, if I think I can do this. My goal is simple, to complete the entire distance. For this, my first race, time really doesn't matter. So my thought is that I could run my own trio of events, all on the same day, more or less back to back, to see how I do. I figure with 4 weeks I can really try to address any issues I see coming from this test. Here are my thoughts the day before:

I have planned out exactly what I am going to do. I am going to drive to the Whitney Ranch Aquatic Center (approximately 10 minutes from home depending on the timing of the lights) and swim my 800 yards (32 laps). Immediately following that I would drive back home and transition to the bike. This is where some planning still needed to be done as I'm unsure as to whether or not I should wear my tri shorts in the pool (they recommend against training with them in the pool as the chemicals can have a detrimental effect on the fabric). My initial thought was to go ahead and wear them anyway, but that was subject to change.

On the bike I am going to follow my 6.15 mile loop through the neighborhood and beyond. I would do this twice to reach my required distance of about 12.3 miles. Tracking my time on this and the next part should be easy with my Garmin as long as I hit the right buttons. The second loop of this course takes me back to T1 which is also T2 (my house).

I would immediately take off my riding gear (helmet and gloves), put on my hat and start the run. This would be 3 laps around the one mile route in my neighborhood. I would stop my time when I finished the third lap back at the house. My thinking is that while this is basically a much easier course than the pumpkinman, it should begin to give me an idea what I need to work on over the next 4 weeks.

Now I hesitate to put this into writing because I am laying expectations for a specific outcome and making myself accountable for those expectations. Simple because I need to objectively see how I am doing and if I am progressing, I am going to put times to what I think I can do in these events. These are very rough estimates based upon individual event performance and not combining any of the events.

My estimation is to complete the swim in 32 minutes.It should then take 15 minutes to transition back to the house and get on my bike. My two loops around the longer course whould be completed in about 65 minutes. Give me a one minute transition back at the house and the run will be about 55 minutes. All together then I am looking at a total of 168 minutes or 2 hours and 48 minutes.

I am padding the times of the individual events from my best times I have completed them. If I matched those times, I would shave 9 minutes off the total giving me 2 hours and 39 minutes including 16 minutes in transition. Of course I currently don't expect to accomplish that because of the fatigue factor which is why I have padded the times. Tomorrow will tell...

Friday Morning

OK, for those who don't like to wait, I did complete all 3 events as planned in 2 hours and 56 minutes including my transitions. If I remove the long transitions, the times are 30:30 for the swim, 54:35 for the bike and 56:29 for the run(walk) for a total time of 2:21:34. As can be seen the transitions were longer than normal for a variety of reasons.

I hit the water at 6:44 am and swam my 32 laps of the pool. I was feeling pretty good about my pace and stamina. Of course then a real swimmer jumped into the next lane and was completing 2 lengths for every one of mine. This showed my how much work I really do need with my swimming technique. I was out of the water and headed to the locker room at 7:14.

It took longer than anticipated to get home, get changed and get on my bike. I had thought the transition would be 15 minutes, but was in truth 28 minutes. As I got rolling on the bike I realized that there were a lot of people out and about just before 8:00 on a Friday morning. Individuals heading to work, kids heading to school. There was certainly a lot more traffic than I was used to when I did my 4:00 am rides. I made a conscious effort to ride strong, but not overly fast when I started the bike remembering the biggest part of the test was to come. Overall the bike felt good. I thought I had kept a decent pace and wasn't killing myself. I had taken the time to put a PowerAde Zero in my water bottle and was grateful for that as I did the ride. Completing the 2 laps - about 12.3 miles in 54:35 was good since the last ride I did for this route was in 57 minutes.

I then rolled into the garage and readied for the run. this was to be a 30 second transition but turned into about 7 minutes. I stopped to get some fluids in me as well as took time to watch the grandkids before heading out. Even though I didn't get enough fluids, what I did get was vital. The first lap went well, but the second became very hard. My back started getting tight about 1.2 miles in, At the 2 mile mark I was just losing all energy and it was getting very difficult to keep going. I realized that I need to pay much more attention to both hydration and nutrition before and during an event. My lap times showed that I was in fact fading fast. Lap 1 - 17:05, lap 2 - 18:00 and lap 3 - 21:23. I did finish. It took 56:29, but I did finish.

I'm very glad I decided I needed to do this as it did give me a glimpse of what I'm going to be going through during the Pumpkinman. Sure I didn't do near the climbing on the bike that I will be doing on that day. This has given me things to look at and train for that I hadn't really comprehended. Having done the 3 stages of my personal triathlon individually, I really had in my mind the thought that it should be a piece of cake to do all 3. Sure I realized that it would be harder, but I didn't realize how hard. I know that I need more training on climbing and on the run and on proper nutrition so that I can be successful on race day.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Technology is a wonderful thing as long as we don't become totally dependant on it. A great example is my new Garmin Forerunner 305. Its a GPS tracking training tool which also comes with a heart rate monitor. What I am basically using it for right now is to track how far I've gone and how long it took and where my route took me. The advantage to this is I can therefore concentrate on the actual event (riding/walking) and not worry about having to figure out my pace or distance or time.

This is all great! Of course there is always the human element involved. I have to be outside and not moving when I turn it on so it can acquire the satellite signals. I have to hit the correct button(s) to start or stop the time or to mark the end of a lap. Its not a good idea, for example, to hit the stop button at the end of a lap instead of a lap button. This completely ignores the rest of the ride/walk and then no longer accomplishes the functions for which its used.

It is also unadvised to turn the unit on, just prior to getting on your bicycle and starting to ride, thinking it will only be a few seconds for the signal acquisition. This can take upwards of 3 minutes especially while moving! Again this then negates the unit’s usefulness in tracking distance, time and route.

Once the human element is performing the functions as designed, the unit is great, though! I've used it on my ride around Long Lake in Hale, Michigan, Riding from My brother's house along the bike trail to Lake Erie and back in Flat Rock, Michigan as well as to map my short loop through the neighborhood by my house and my new longer loop along Boulder Highway, Tropicana and Broadbent. (Click on the links to view the maps).

I am already thinking of many more exciting places/routes I want to ride to see how the unit performs. For example riding the Railroad Tunnels trail from the trail head all the way to the Hoover Dam visitors Center would be interesting. I wonder how it would handle going through the tunnels. I guess there is only one way to find out!

One thing this technology has shown me is exactly how I am doing in terms of riding and walking/jogging. I certainly can't call it running by any stretch of the imagination when I only do it in short intervals and the speed is very slow. The positive with the technology is that there is no fudge factor. It shows me exactly where I'm at and what I'm doing which is very encouraging as it also shows the progress being made. Too bad its not totally waterproof or I'd wear it while swimming. Of course that would be a very boring map with 32+ lengths of the pool all one on top of the other.

So, technology is wonderful as long as one learns how to use it and then pay attention to the results!