Monday, July 9, 2012

Steinerman: 4th of July Concord edition

Webb: Welcome to the next edition of Steinerman - where we head out on a self-supported triathlon. The Concord edition took place July 4, 2012, at Walden Pond and in and around the historic town of Concord, MA. The "shot heard 'round the world" took place in adjacent Lexington with the subsequent battle moving to the Old North Bridge of Concord. It seemed a fitting place to sound our first shot against the upcoming Timberman 70.3 contest. Up to now, it has been mostly staging and sabre-rattling. On this 4th we put together our first major test for the 19th of August.

Steinerman: 4th of July Edition (Concord, MA)
Swim - 1 mile in Walden Pond
Bike - 49 miles
Run - 4 miles

Found this handy map of Walden Pond
with all of the distances in yards.
Webb: The main purpose of Steinerman was to begin thinking about nutrition. It was not supposed to be a race or a test of speed or endurance. We both had ideas of what we would want and need. Eating and drinking on the bike is one thing, switching over to the run is another. Will your on-bike nutrition lead to GI distress on the run? How much drinking is too much on the bike? Should I have had a different breakfast? Was the gel before the swim a good idea? You get the point: These would be the things we would be tracking.

Elle: The weather was great. It was so warm, that I mentioned to Webb before we left for Walden Pond that I didn't think we'd even need wetsuits today. I mean, it's good to practice in the wetsuit, but if you don't have to put it on, all the better (it's a huge pain in the butt, to put on, to clean, to store, etc.) Webb still insisted on bringing them with us.

The Swim: 1 mile in Walden in Pond

Elle: We got there and it was soooo nice out, there was no way I was putting that wetsuit on! The water was great, not too cold, just enough to be refreshing. Sweet.
Pre-swim nutrition: Gu Gel Roctane (Orange-Vanilla)

Webb: While Elle thought the water was nice, I thought it was cold. After a few minutes I started to acclimate and warm-up. My stroke and balance felt surprisingly better since my last swim effort during my family's visit. All this without a wetsuit. I swam in my Endurance Junkie race suit with my De Soto wings underneath. (I purchased both of these products to assist me in my ongoing efforts to keep back solar death rays.) My original thought was to wear them with the wetsuit to see how hard it would be to peel the damn thing off. Instead, I swam in them and they felt great all by themselves.

Elle: For some reason today I had a lot trouble with the swim. I just couldn't get into a groove, and was searching for air for what seemed like the whole way over to the far side. We got there, took a little break, and then headed back. It was a little better on the swim back, but I was still struggling. I'm surprised that Walden Pond is still even there, considering how much of it I drank. I don't know what the issue was, hopefully it doesn't come back to haunt me this Sunday at the race...

"Major John Buttrick from this his farm
led the Provincial Minute Men and
militia down to win the bridge held
by the British forces April 19, 1775"
The Bike: 49 miles: Charlie Baker TT (4 laps) & out and back from Walden Pond

Elle: Onto the bike. The weather went from being nice to just a tad too hot. The average temp during the bike was 87.4° with a high of 93.2°. That may not be very hot for folks in Arizona or So. Cal, but in New England, with the humidity, that can feel like you're biking in a steam room.
With it being the 4th of July, it all felt quite historic and appropriate, the course was dotted with monuments and historic plaques commemorating the Minute Men and the founding of our country. On the loop there was even a road called 'Red Coat Lane'. Cute.

Webb: History, schmistory we had some riding to do. Before we splashed down in Walden, I told Elle the plan was to do an easy 40 miles or so. There is local ride in Concord called the Charlie Baker Time Trial. I knew it was about 10 miles long. I figured we'd do it four times. What I did not consider is that it was a 3 mile ride to the start of the loop and the loop wasn't a loop, more like an almost-loop. There is about another mile between the end and start. The end result was closer to 49 miles. But that isn't the real story.

On the way over, I decided to change things up. Since we were to be doing loops, I figured we'd alternate between easy and tempo. We could do the first easy to make sure we knew the route. After that we could ride loop 2 as tempo, loop 3 at recovery pace, loop 4 at tempo again and ride the final 3 miles as recovery back to the car, I mean transition area.

Elle: I was doing pretty well - then on the last lap I kinda blew up. I know we only did 49 miles today, but at one point on the last hard effort lap, I looked down and saw my heart rate at 180 bpm and decided to slow down. Was it the heat? Or that I haven't been doing enough long distance rides? Either way, I was happy enough to be done with the bike portion of Steinerman: 4th of July edition.
Bike nutrition: more Gu Gel Roctane (Orange-Vanilla) plus 1 water bottle and 1 bottle filled with Skratch Secret Drink Mix

Webb: I had a blast on the bike. I remember at one point asking Elle if she was happy because it is hard for me to think of anything better than being out on the bike. I played around with gels on this ride, even though I told myself I would switch to solid food. There may be a reversal on that. During the recovery loop (#3), I tried a Power Bar gel. About a mile into loop #4, I started to slow a little while going up a rise. I felt great so I decided to charge it. Then I felt better and kept pushing it. And pushing it. And pushing it. So much for a tempo effort, that was redlining it and I loved it.

The Run: 4 miles

Webb: Onto the run. I knew this was going to be a test for Elle. She had never done anything longer than a sprint before. (Last year's Olympic race was hurricane-d out.) I had full confidence in her fitness. For you long course triathletes, you may remember your first seriously long brick. It is more mental than anything. Can you will yourself to keep going for more than 4 hours?

We headed out for an easy 2 miles out and 2 miles back. I reminded her the pace was to be slooooooow. I knew she would want to push it to get it over with. In training though, it is better to take it easy and build into a fast(er) finish. There is no point in crushing this 4 miler if you take that into your 70.3's half-marathon and die in the fifth mile.

Elle: Holy crap, I'm tired. It's hot. And this has been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Hey, it's just 4 miles, right? I mean, I can do that in my sleep. Whoa, not today. This was one of the hardest 4 miles I've run - I was looking down at my Garmin every 1/4 mile. I didn't know if I was going to make it. Gawd, how the heck am I going to do Timberman, which will be a freaking 1/2 marathon?!? It took everything I had to bang out those 4 miles. The rolling terrain didn't help, but the shade did. I seriously didn't think I was going to make it without walking. But miraculously, I did. Afterwards I was looking at my data for this run: Heart Rate - average was 170 bpm (oops), max was 184 bpm (yikes!).
Run nutrition: Clif bar (right before the run)

"Line of march, April 19, 1775
Acton Minute Men"
Webb: I, on the other hand, felt great. My HR was way too high too. My perceived effort felt much lower. I know at Timberman my HR will win out in the end, possibly out of nowhere everything will come to a halt. I'll need to control that better. We ran it in about 37:00. The heat and cardiac drift were certainly factors. I'll pray for rain on race day.

Post-Steinerman: Cool down in Walden Pond

Elle: The best part of the day - sitting in Walden Pond after the run. Whew! We made it. It was so refreshing to get back in the water and cool off. There were still other triathletes (I'm guessing) heading out and back across the pond, getting some training in. Today was a lot harder than I anticipated. I need to get serious about this Timberman training...