Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Triathlon World championships Grand Final Auckland, NZ

Race report from Nadia Sullivan: 

It was a dark and stormy night... when I showed up for bike check-in and body marking. Lightning struck the top of the Sky Tower and the steady rain became a downpour. But that's not where our story begins...

The journey to New Zealand was long and we got very little sleep in almost 36 hours. We stayed up to change our internal clocks to local time, and our hotel wouldn't be ready until the afternoon anyway. Friday, 3 days before the race, I joined a group for a pre-ride of the bike course. The course had 2 short, steep climbs with fast descents and the winds made the course much more technical, especially for anyone with aero wheels. I felt right at home! But after the ride, I felt like I might be getting sick, so I took a nap after lunch. Woke up with a fever and was barely able to sleep that night. Fortunately, Team USA brought a doctor, so we saw him right away the next morning. I got some antibiotics for a raging sinus infection and spent the day in bed. The next morning, I took a hot shower to help clear my head and blacked out. Fortunately Nick was there to rouse me, but it was clear I was really, really sick. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to race at all.

Race-day morning I was still weak and my head felt like it was full of cement. I moved slowly & deliberately through my pre-race rituals, hoping the cold ocean water would help loosen things up in my head. On the plus side, I never got race nerves!

Our start was delayed a bit, but eventually they led the 90 of us down to the water and let us jump in. We were lined up along a pontoon for the start and I happened to have a good position that was on-course. When the start sounded, I shot off like a rocket, just as I'd been doing in training. I soon found myself at the front of the field and realized there was no way I could sustain such a hard effort so I backed off and joined a large pack. The swim was shaped like a "T" and the water was calm when we were between the piers. Outside the piers, the tide was strong and the waves made navigation very difficult. I stayed with my little pack but it kept getting smaller. The lifeguards were standing up in the boats, pointing the way, but even they were hard to find. When I was coming back to shore, I noticed there were very few women in front of me. The field had been shattered! I stumbled up the ramp toward the very long run into transition and struggled to stay upright since my balance was off from being sick. 

Fortunately, my bike was the first one in transition so I didn't get lost! I was very deliberate about getting out of my wetsuit, every time I put my head down I thought I was going to fall over. I managed to change gear & run out to the mount line, but I don't remember getting on my bike! I didn't feel any power in my legs and my only chance for a real race on the bike was to ride smart. I gave what I had on the climbs, then let go to fly down every descent. It was a little windy, but not as much as the pre-ride, so it was a great day for a bike-handler! Anyone who got away from me on a climb was soon caught at the bottom again! And a few of them I dropped in the roundabout on top of a hill. The riders from Australia, Japan, and Mexico were having an especially hard time on the course, maybe because it was cool & windy, maybe because of the hills. I came into T2 with another American, but her dismount wasn't as fast as mine ;)

Again, I was very deliberate about putting my running shoes on, focusing hard on staying upright. I trotted out of T2, my primary goal being to have enough energy to run the entire 10K without walking. It was a flat, twisty run through the city, perfect for me! I focused on my form and worked on holding a steady pace that was comfortable. Oddly, I was feeling better as the run went on! I still couldn't breathe and something resembling a banana slug was coating my upper lip, but I still felt pretty good. A woman from Mexico caught me in the first lap and we ran step for step for a mile or so. She was breathing much harder than me so I took a few turns extra tight with a little more speed and dropped her! I even passed a few other runners! I picked up the pace more in the second lap, amazed at how good I felt in spite of being sick. It was really neat to hear the crowds calling out to the racers and cheering each country. Going into the finish, there was someone handing out US flags so I grabbed one and sprinted in. I may not have been fast, but dang it, I wanted to look good at the end!

I finished 41/88 that day. Not bad for only going at 60-70% capacity. Another American I've raced against was 6th in our category. She has a swim/bike background like me and we've been good competition for each other. I can only guess how I would have done had I been healthy. But I'm not disappointed. I gave it everything I had for the day, I knew you were all cheering for me from home!

Thank you guys for all your support these past 2 years! The Team was a huge factor in making this race possible for me. I couldn't have done it without you!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Ruben Sandwich II, Training and preparation for Ironman world championships

  A year ago I wrote a post about my personal preparation and training for Ironman world championships in Kailua kona, Hawaii. I talked about preparation in general and compared it to a Ruben sandwich.   In short when you look at your preparation in separate pieces it doesn't look right. you think "why the hell am I doing this, again? how does this help in the race?" much like one of my favorite sandwiches.

    Anyway this go around has been different in a few ways. the biggest and most obvious is I qualified at IM St. George. on May 5th on 2012. much different than getting your ticket to the big dance 11 weeks out  and while it was nice having so much time to recover and prepare for Kona, I can say that I will never do a IM that early in the year again. well... I shouldn't say never. Realize this time line for a second.
  July 24th 2011, IM lake placid. the more I think about this race the more I realize this may have been one of, if not the best physical and mental performance I have ever produced. And with that, much was taken out of me. Oct. 8th 2011 Ironman world champs in Kona. mega jet lag, not great performance but a smart one for the day. Another 140.6 miles ripped from my soul.  Work is crazy busy. the more successfully I become as a coach and mentor the better I want to become and the more I was to do.  this combined with a sub par ski year in CO left me with the second winter EVER in my life since I did not ski at least one day. The first year I was alive and this past winter.  Feb. and March saw more strict training and scheduling.  March a training camp that I ran with some EK Endurance Coaching athletes and other athletes in St. George, UT. May 5th Ironman St. George, number three 11 months. And let me tell you I felt every one of them for a month after. a trip to a wedding, family in town staying with us. coaching swimming, leading our coached runs in Boulder and I was just destroyed!  Never have I been so tired and drained in my life. after a week of sleeping until 9am Lindsay, my wife, asked if I was OK. "maybe you should see a doctor?" she knew I was barley training still and not yet back to normal.
   So it's not the date of the race so much but the sequence of events that led to me there. In June, at the starting line of the Boulder Sprint 2013 which I won the year before by about 8 seconds and only 14 sec. from 3rd. so don't ask me if i really need to shave my legs. YES!!  So I'm at the start thinking, the podium is gona be a tough go for me...
  This year's plan for Kona, after finally recovering, I had a nice periodization built into the summer around the races I wanted to do. The boulder tri series. June  boulder Sprint, July, boulder Peak (Oly. distance) then ug. 5th the Boulder 70.3. The goal was to train consistently getting myself back to 100% or as close as I could leading up to the half.  Things went pretty well. The Boulder sprint saw me on the podium, however much to the bad luck of Kirk Framke who flatted. The boulder Peak saw me in 4th. I was disappointed.  However, lets look at the facts. I ran a 6:34 pace.  Last yr. I ran a 6:24. If I had run a 6:24 I would have held 3rd in my AG. same place as last year.  What "should" I have done in the race?  ie. what power and running pace were reasonable for where I was at that point?  Exactly what I did.  This is something so many people miss.   I swam well. good placing. bike power was about 93% of threshold and I ran about 1% slower than threshold pace. Not bad. Actual pretty great, so I got beat. Shane Niemeyer ran a 6:05 pace or something and simply beat me.  be 14 seconds or so. What are you gona do? get faster...
coming into the half IM  I was pretty worried.  My threshold power was still not up to 100%  of pre St. George and my run was... almost there.  I went into the race at 310 threshold power and a 6:30/ mile threshold running pace. Now the math here says I can run 6:50- 7:20 pace in the half, however, my PIT (Proving it In Training) had not come through much.  I have talked about this in my IM execution webinar. same concept applies with all distances.  We start with the science then prove it in training, I went into the race with a good sense of precieved exertion and Chris at my back. I hadn't done a half IM since Silverman in 2008 but I've been a competitive athlete for a while now.
  I rode very smart staying with some guys who were my speed and a bit faster, I rode 4-5 bike lengths off Drew Scott's wheel for 2/3 of a lap (2 lap course) posted a good bike time, backed it up with a 1:33-ish run and got 4th for a podium spot. (They do top 5 at big IM's and 70.3's.)  I was pleased, very pleased. I ran right at 7'/ miles until 2 to go when the body just shut off and ended with 7:09 pace after the last 2 miles at 7:25. not bad. a maximal effort  for sure.
Some rest, a family reunion trip and I was back. training hard, putting in 2 swims a week. 2-3 hr's of running and riding. I felt at this point that I had not gotten in enough "long" training. 3 hr bike rides and longer, 90+ minute runs, etc. after a review of my training I saw that I was right. Every athlete needs these longer training sessions, it doesn't mater what distance your training for. I set some goals for my last training block before  Kona.

1. long run every week.  
2. More long rides. 1 a week or as many as I can do. 3+ hr's long. 
3. Be ready for and ride well in the steamboat stage race. 3 day bike race.  (by well I mean finish and maybe help my teammates) 
4. 3 swims a week. 
5. watch the diet. keep at my 157lbs give or take. 
6. core work

  Well after a few weeks of great training I was at the steamboat stage race ready to work hard and bust down my threshold wattage barrier and I was sick.  Back home, rest and another week gone. Kona now very close.
In my last build up before a big IM I normally do a huge 2 week block. 1100-1200 TSS per week, two weeks in a row, then tapper/ peak for 3 weeks. I often wondered if 2 weeks in a row was worth it or if I was just playing with fire?  This year I wanted to do the last race on the BTC team series the Oktoberfest sprint triathlon . This meant doing a big week, an easier week leading into the race, then another big week with a 2 week tapper/ peaking phase. Its day 1 of this last 2 weeks as I write this. The race went very well. I set the fastest bike split, ran 6:15/ mile on a tough course for a 5k (hill) was first out of the water in my wave and came in 3rd over all. hows that for everything coming together. I was pleased. 6:15 run pace on that course has put my threshold running pace conservatively at 6:20/mile.
The long runs have happened every week. Even that race wee, hard bike Tue.. long run wed. thur-fri- sat. easy, race Sunday. Then right back at it Monday with a long bike and brick run. This last big week was 18+ hours. and about 1150 TSS.   I have swam 3 times a week also for that last 3-4 weeks. up from my normal 2 times a week. I feel pretty fast and durable in the water normally doing about 4000 yards a session.
  Now while all this is great the "long" rides have been cut short by one thing or another. those 5hr rides just haven't happened. At all.  I have gotten many 3-3.5 hr rides in however. lots of IM race pace. (220's norm, some higher) and many of them have been fatigued from the day or day(s) before.
    OK EK the math says what? and do you think you "proved it in training" 
we'll here it is. straight up, numbers and all.
  The math says ride around 220 norm in the race. have I proved it?  yes. As much as i would have liked? no.  Running a 3:30 in kona should be doable. sands gnarly jet lag or what ever I had last yr. maybe faster if the Island gods allow it.
  I feel f*** great right now. I feel very ready and extremely motivated. top 40 AG or better is very attainable.
     Race Plan.   Swim like I own the water, because I do. not that I am the fastest swimmer (far from it)  but... I've been drowned proofed for those who know what that is. i'm at home there.
Bike:  long distance is all about the run right? the bike directly affects your ruining. and regardless of yorr ability or goals we all have to ride 112 miles. so it is really all bout the bike. 
 Go easy on big d*** ally. Other wise known as the first hour of the bike in kona where everyone needs to show how great they are. When Steve Johnson catches me I will try and hang with him, getting that legal draft that is SOOOO key in the last 40 miles. But he may ride to strong for me. when in doubt, ride your pace!  The Run for me all about the energy lab. why? its a nasty little hill and its at mile "You're F'd".   running the whole way out of the energy lab and resuming my avg. pace or  better for the last 6-7 miles is my focus. I will pass someone in the last 6 miles of the race.
Then I will look out to the Pacific as I cross the line and look for my Grand Father, he's over there somewhere.

see you in the energy lab