Saturday, December 8, 2012

End of Season Notes - A year end review

(This is so long only my Mom will read it - sorry it was a whole year :))
It is 5 weeks into my off season and I am totally enjoying it…I feel like I earned it this year so the reward is “accepted” but I am also really looking forward to a next year as well.

2012 Recap -

I started to write this as a simple race report…I did this and I got that etc., but after starting and stopping so many times, this is more of a year of my sporting life report.

It is also funny as I wanted to include pictures in this write-up.  When I looked back through the years photos, I quickly realized that I had forgotten a LOT of what we had done. 

Sure I have bunches of pictures of ice baths and gnarly toenails but I also had so many pictures of smiles that I had to include those as well.

So intermixed with the race report are family, friends and fun and if I were to say what is really the best part of the year, it is these moments.

Originally I had the goal of qualifying for Kona 2012 but due to family commitments and works commitments I needed to realign those goals and pass on Kona this year.  In the end I think this was the ONLY solution that would have worked as there is no way that I would have been able to balance the training needed with my time available and I definitely would have missed some very important time with the family.  So, in hindsight, it was a great decision for me.

Once Kona was off the list for this year, I also changed my race strategy for the year.  I started at the HIT in Ocala and then IM New Orleans 70.3 (the proverbial Duathlon) and then IM Texas. 

The HIT went well except for Jeff making me puke all over myself.  Drew took the win and it was fun representing the Wattie team.

At NOLA I bounced off my face going into T2.  I would like to say it was a rookie mistake but I am not a rookie and in the end it was just my fault and very stupid.  The result was a busted up face and a broken hand.  It made for a good photo and everyone on Bourbon street was told by my friends that I was a UFC fighter…John Bones Jones.  If you don’t follow UFC which I do, he is African American but most of NOLA didn’t know that so we got a good table and I think a few free drinks. J

My real concern with the bounce was it made it really stressful leading into IM Texas.  Drew and the team at JOI got me going in record time.

With the Kona goal off the list, I decided to just feel good all day at Texas and really enjoy it.  Amazingly, I did.  I enjoyed the entire day.  With the training I had put in, I was able to roll through to a very solid and well-paced 9:52 and that was good enough for 6th.  6th was one place off the podium and one spot away from Kona so I didn’t have to decline which also made that decision easier.

It was also time to settle into the “break” and do something other than SBR.

I am very sure that if I were younger again I would have pursued more bike racing as I absolutely love the tactics.  The summer break allowed me to compete in a few road races, TT’s and even a few crits.  It is completely opposite of the triathlon and the difference is probably what I enjoy the most.  With the Velobrew Crit series, Nocatee and NC stage races, I got my fill of the racing peloton.   

The summer was awesome as I really got to enjoy hanging with the family and actually vacation without having to be on a “schedule”.

After the usual, albeit slightly longer than usual and less tri specific summer break, I started the build to IM FL.  It started really with an “unplanned” opportunity training week as my Drew and Bone went out of town and work was very light so I ended up with a 20H+ (1200TSS) 1st week.  This seemed to set the stage nicely and I don’t think I really have EVER had as many weeks strung together without real recovery focus.  This really seemed to work and I definitely would be willing to try this again. 

Using only 4 day recovery weeks around busy work weeks seems to be the best for me and allowed me to string together multiple weeks in larger blocks.  In total I had 3-4 “down” weeks in the 16 leading up to Florida.  This consistency is really key in my opinion.

Coming into the fall build I kept up some cycle racing on the weekend and just moved the longer sessions to midweek.  This really seemed to help the high end engine and I would say I think this helped.  Besides, it is fun J

I don’t think there is anyway better to prepare for a fast 70.3 than to be in the middle of an Ironman Build.  The distance feels “short” and if you have any speed in your legs, it really feels good to race this distance as it is shorter than a typical weekend training session. 

Ironman Augusta 70.3 in September was very good day in terms of execution for me.  I was not tapered at all and I set out an aggressive plan and followed it.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a fast racing and the net result, 2nd place in AG and Vegas spot for 2013 so I was very happy with that.

This also gave me a lot of confidence going into the final block for Florida.

Ironman Florida was also different for me this year as I wanted to go very fast but I also knew that I could not take a Kona spot even if I got one due to a work conflict for 2013. 

I had a long conversation in June with a surgeon / client / friend of mine who asked me if I had truly gone “all out” in a race.  Being that I race pretty conservatively, I said ‘I race tactically and I don’t usually have to go “all out”’.  His response, “Then how do you know what you are really capable of unless you tested it?”   I tried to find some bullsh!t answer to hide behind but in the end, I had to own up to the fact that I don’t race “hard”. 

Basically, I train hard so I can race easy or within myself. 

At the end of the conversation and with my tail between my legs I said he was right.  He was also former Harvard debate team and I went to ClemPson so I might have been outgunned.   I promised that at Ironman Florida in November, I would race differently.  I would go all in from the gun and see what happens. I would not hold back and I would try to end up at the line completely empty.

Surprisingly, it was MUCH harder than I expected.

The swim was choppy and I could not find good feet or a good rhythm and the water temperature was too warm for me for a full suit.  I was overheating badly on the second lap.

The bike was the typical FL tactical race and also a great example of using bullets when needed.  I went “redline” a number of times to stay with the 4-5 big guys who I was legally pacing off of.  Anyone who thinks that riding in a pace line is NOT better / faster just has to look at the power file.  We had draft marshals with us for a LOT of the ride, literally sitting there for 10-15 miles and we all stayed legal but we were rolling.  There in no doubt that I saved 10-15 watts off of a solo effort.   There were a lot of surges and one effort in particular was over 300 watts for a few minutes to “get back on” after a BIG gap had opened when someone up front attacked.  I remember thinking, “This is the race, go now or you are out of it.”  It was and I was happy I went.

The run was actually pretty straight forward but that does NOT mean easy.  I broke the course up into 4 laps.  And I set out to run ONLY by pace and disregard PE or HR.  I only put 1 number on my Garmin watch, lap pace.  No total time, no HR, just pace.  I am very proud that I ran 26.2 miles with no mile over 8:00/mile.  I tried very hard to stay at 7:47 but miles 18-26 were one of the hardest efforts I have EVER done.  I was trying to “cut deals” and slow down but the promise to go “all out” was there and I just kept pressing the effort until the pace was there.  From miles 22-24, finishing was NOT guaranteed as I was in a really “bad place”.  After mile 24, I felt like I should be able to finish and I started to feel little “better”.

I finished in 9:21 overall and it was a PR.  I was second in my AG and top 50 overall.

More importantly, I am also 100% sure that there was NO MORE in the tank.  I went “all out” or “all in” on this one day and I now know what I am capable of.  By the way, I don’t need to do this again J.

Looking back across the season I would say the biggest differences to this year were a few changes to the “basic week”. 

We incorporated the following on a pretty regular basis:

Multiple Irondays (4 total) including midweek Ironday with a “typical” big weekend

Motor pacing on the bike

4 day big block camps
2 longer runs per week (Thursday was 12-16 miles and Sunday 16-20 miles)
Midweek run with more structure (3 mile intervals x 3 built into longer runs)
Crowie / Macca style T-run’s with fast miles (6:30) on race pace send-off’s (7:45)

In terms of Recovery:

VERY frequent use of ice baths – almost every big session.  60 pounds of ice for 15 minutes.
Compression pants after bigger days.
Naps were a big part of the plan for bigger sessions.

Body and Equipment:

Focused on buying “free speed” with Latex tubes and faster tires – these REALLY work.
Ceramic bearing in the BB and rear hanger bearings as well – again…less power used.
I got down to 162-165 pounds for most of the training and cut to 160 pounds for race day.
I cut out all “junk food” for the final 6 weeks and really only used good fuel.

Overall –

I am incredibly happy with the results this year and I think Alan continues to improve the formula to create VERY predictable results and I just have to execute.  He really has this dialed in.

Goals For 2013

#1 Goal for 2013 is to Qualify for Kona 2014 at Ironman FL and be able to go this time J
#2 Top 5 Podium at all races except IM 70.3 WC.
#3 Top 20 in AG at IM 70.3 WC.
#4 Under 1:30 in 70.3 off the bike.
#5 Under 9:30 at IM FL.

Plan for 2013

Start back to training December 15th with the cycling / base plan.
Add marathon run program in over Christmas break.
Continue that program until Camp late January to 1st week February in San Diego.
Complete Donna 26.2 on February 17th to get a Boston time for 2014 (need only a 3:15)
Ironman New Orleans 70.3 April (for fun – no taper)
Gulf Coast ½ May (Go hard but no taper)
Ironman CDA June (for fun but would still like to Podium if possible)
Recovery week post IM CDA with family
Vegas prep in July / August
Vegas 70.3 September (just a solid day – go hard but not an “A” race)
Recovery week post Vegas 70.3 in Jackson Hole for work
IMFL Camp (4 days)
Augusta 70.3 September (Vegas 2014 – no taper)
IM FL November (A race – Goal of Kona 2014)

“Slight” Changes to the recipe –

I want to try to do a steady build across the entire year without the bigger summer break that I usually have. I am not too concerned with this as I don’t have any real goals until November so I can train through most of the races until then.

Also, family vacations are planned for the spring and they will be in CDA so we will have lots of time to “do nothing” together and just chill.

Other changes…I really need to stop blowing off the pool so much.  I went :59 in FL this year that was OK but I didn’t feel great.  I was really working and I felt behind for most of the swim.  Next year I need to swim more consistently.  I have 2 new pools to swim in so that should help.

Find a way to stay in the gym for more of the year.  I tend to blow this off as the season gets more into full swing.  I have 2 new gym memberships which are much easier to use so this could help.   

Find a way to build in “hill training” prior to IM CDA and Vegas.

Keep the added “new” basic week sessions for next year.


Race weight less than 160 pounds
Training weight = 165 pounds
Swim pace less than 1:10 / 100yds on 20 x 100 on 1:30
Increase LT power to 315 watts and IM wattage to 225NP.
Run sub 39 10K, sub 1:30 off the bike ½ marathon, sub 3:15 open Marathon (training race)
Increase total swim yards to 20K per week standard.
Increase total run miles to 60 miles per week for big weeks.
Increase total bike miles to 300 miles for big weeks.

That’s it…that is my year.  I am incredibly happy that I made the decisions I made and choose to make family and vacations a priority over Kona.  It was a great decision.

Next year looks like it will be a LOT of fun and I have great friends and training partners for all of it.

Enjoy the Holidays…eat…drink and be merry…and take time to appreciate the people around you. 

All the best - Shawn