Sunday, September 29, 2013

PRP - Proper Race Planning - set yourself up right!

It’s getting to be that time of year to start thinking about your race schedule for next year!  Of course for my Ironman athletes this conversation takes place a year before their race because you typically have to sign up for your Ironman a year before the race.  It never fails I am always the bad guy (or girl in this case) telling them they have too many things on their schedule.  I begin cutting out racing or suggesting this one go or that one go.  They never like to hear it.  I have never been a fan of racing to race because your friends are doing it or whatever reason you may have. I pick key races that will help me build my performance for my A races.  This is not to say I have never fallen in the web of racing to race because others are doing a particular race.  In the end I have paid the price with a sub par performance in a race or poor recovery after a race.  As a coach and an experienced athlete I am telling you that filling your schedule with too many races and too much junk will lead to sub par performance.   As a coach I can’t force my athletes to cut back on races but I can guide them and give them my best advice. When they don’t listen to me I may think to myself, “I told you so” but I never express that because I know they will learn and I know I have made the same mistakes. 

I typically like to race one big race a year like an Ironman.  The year I decided not to do an Ironman, I chose to challenge myself with a 50 mile run.  I think trying to focus on great performance in an Ironman AND doing an Ultra event is too much in one year.  This is my opinion and not scientific but I have a lot of experience and this is the way I would do it. If you did want to do both an Ultra and Ironman in one year they should be separated as beginning of the year and end of the year because this gives you plenty of time between events.  This past year I made the mistake of doing two Ironman in one year separated by only a few months.  I had a great performance at my first one and not so great on the second.  I also suffered after the second Ironman with two back to back illnesses.  I typically recover great after a big race because I have been doing this a long time and my body has adjusted but two Ironman back to back was too much.  My body revolted and I learned a good lesson and that was to listen to my own advice. 
My Ironman In South Africa 
If you are an Ironman or Ultra athlete plan your year with one major event.  You can have several events leading up to your big event but don’t go crazy.  You don’t have to do a marathon leading up to your Ironman, you don’t have to do a century ride leading up to your Ironman.  If you have a coach they will plan your schedule with the appropriate mileage for you to complete your race.  Keeping your schedule reasonable will enable you to have a period of time to focus on improving specific weaknesses that you need to improve upon.  Give yourself time to work on things like improving specific areas of your training such as swim, bike or run.  You may also take some time to focus on strength training or flexibility.  These areas may be holding you back during your peak season because you don’t make time to improve your weakness. 

Last year I had a client (who I still coach but will remain nameless) who came to me with a crazy schedule of races.  This is a person who has a super busy work schedule and family schedule.  They had two Ironman listed within 2 months of each other, a 100 mile run, 2.4 mile swim, marathon, half marathon and a number of shorter races.  I knew this was a schedule that didn’t make sense for this person.  Maybe and I say maybe I would have been more open to it if they didn’t work, with no kids or wife and had time to only train and recover.  But knowing this persons schedule I was concerned with this race schedule.  I expressed my concern and we compromised on cutting out the 100 mile run which was much better however not ideal in my opinion.  As it turns out life for this person became even more complicated and one of the Ironman had to go.  A number of other events got dropped.  You may read this and think why would someone want to do all that however this is NOT uncommon.  I am always telling people they want to do too much.  Before you fill you schedule with unnecessary events really think about your schedule and your life and if the events you are doing are going to help you get to your ultimate goal.

I recently decided to go to massage school, which will take me 7 months. I will be working and going to school. Knowing how limited my time will be with a full schedule I have opted NOT to race at all during those 7 months.  It will be strange not doing any early season races but why would I put that pressure on myself and set myself up for failure.  Filling your schedule too full adds stress in your life and possibly a decrease in your performance. 

All My Ironman Medals
When signing up for races for the following year think about what will be going on in your personal life and professional life.  Be strategic in planning your races and this will lead to a successful racing season.
Tigger with my World Championship medal


Thursday, September 12, 2013

World Championships 2013 Race ReCap

Rainy swim start

I recently had the privilege to race at the 70.3 Championships for the 2nd year and it was the last year it would be in my hometown of Las Vegas.  This year has been a long year of racing starting in March with San Juan 70.3, which was where I qualified for the WC.  April I did Ironman South Africa and a few weeks later I did 70.3 St. George.  I completed my second Ironman for the year in June at IM Couer D Alene in Idaho.  By the time Worlds came around I was ready to get the race done and have a little down time.  I had a few setbacks after IM CDA leading up to Worlds.  Two weeks after CDA, I came down with Shingles.  This set me back some however I was lucky to have a mild case of it.  A few weeks after shingles went away I came down with a chest infection.  I missed more workouts from the chest infection than I did with shingles.  3 weeks prior to Worlds I was feeling back to normal. I had some great workouts and my run was really coming along.  Last year at Worlds I fell apart on the run because of the heat. It was really hot and very humid and this year it was looking like we were going to have a very similar day.  Leading up to the event I did most of my runs it the hotter part of the day with my Desoto skin cooler top. I was feeling really good about my run and my tolerance for the heat.  I wanted to finish as close to my time last year as I could. I most importantly wanted to have a good run.  Last year I had to walk some on the run and felt like I was overheating and I didn’t want that to happen this year.
Bikes racked

The weather forecast for race day was overcast with a 40% chance of rain. I didn’t think much about that because anytime we have a chance of rain in Las Vegas it usually comes later in the afternoon. I was hoping it would rain for the run, not for the bike. I woke up race morning and was excited to start the race. I didn’t feel nervous at all until we started driving down to the start and the rain was pretty steady.  I don’t like riding in the rain and I am sure other people don’t like it either.  There was no sign the rain was going to let up.   Racing in pouring rain was one of the worst things in my mind.  This course has  a lot of climbing and descending.  Even on dry roads I don’t descend very well so I expected a bike time that was slower than last year.  I figured I would just have to hope for a great run and I would be very careful on the bike. 

We started with a steady rain and I got to the front of the group for the swim start. I felt really strong the entire swim and my sighting was great, I did not swim off course at all.  I figured I was going to exit the swim about the same time I did last year. Last year I did the swim in 30 minutes which was a pretty good time for me.  When I got out this year I checked my watch and it was 34 minutes!  I was surprised because I felt much faster than that and that’s a lot of time to have to make up.  I got on the bike and it was still raining. Right from the start coming out of Lake Las Vegas you hit some hills on this bike course. I was very cautious the first part of the bike course. I was probably overly cautious but I kept thinking to myself  that a race was not worth dying for.  About mile 20 I started to gain some confidence and picked up my effort because I had some time to make up.  I picked up my effort and the last 20 miles I pushed pretty hard. I ended the bike about 3 minutes over what my time was the previous year. I guess that was not too bad considering the conditions.  That meant I had 7 minutes to make-up to match my time for last year.  I knew my run was going to be better but I wasn’t sure I could make up that much time.  The weather fortunately was not too hot so that was in my favor.  This run course is crazy and probably the hardest run course I have had to run.  The St. George run course is as hard with lots of ups and downs but I seem to be able to go faster on a course like that.   This course was 2 miles up and 2 miles down with a huge hill in the middle that you have to hit twice.  The run course is 3 laps of 2 miles up and 2 down. I was keeping a good pace and I only walked through 2 aid stations.  I kept a pretty good pace ending in 1:57.  The previous year was 2:02 so that meant I was 5 minutes faster.  Overall my time was 2 minutes slower but strangely I feel like I had a better race this year.  When I can finish the race with a good run I always feel great.  Finishing the race while struggling on the run is always frustrating. Finishing with a great run and feeling awesome at the end of the race is a great feeling. 

I'm Done!

I decided this would be the last time I raced in Worlds even if I did qualify again. It won’t be any better than doing it two times in my hometown of Las Vegas. I am glad I got to race here and was so happy to see so many people on the course that I knew. I was also amazed at the support of my clients, friends and the community.  There were so many people cheering us on.  The support was the best part of this race and made a huge difference in my motivation to get to the finish line.  
Tigger wears my medal well!
Michael and I after the race he was a great supporter!

Frank my client who did the race too!
His 2nd Half Ironman!