This year I completed my 55th year around the sun and I am grateful for that. Many times in the past, I have had some fun, fitness challenges on or near my birthday. This year I decided to try a new kind of 1/2 Ironman. I looked at my last 1/2 IM in 2016 at the Boulder 70.3 and the times for each event: Swim 29+, Bike 2:13 and run 1:44. The challenge this year was to see what distance I could cover, or power I could sustain in the same amount of time, while having very relaxed transition times to enjoy some yummy food and conversation with my wife, Sharon.
The day started off with some warm up exercises using Crossover Symmetry bands to prep for my swim. December in Colorado = no open water swimming but I planned to hop on my Vasa Ergometer and knockout 30 minutes.
I set the SwimErg resistance at damper door level 1 (out of 7 settings) to start out easier and swam Freestyle for 30 minutes. Note that I used a low arm recovery instead of a higher arm recovery that I would use in the water. This helps prevent shoulder impingement. My plan was to gently progress the Freestyle effort every 10 minutes. Here is a snapshot of the SwimErg's Power Meter at the end of the 30 minutes:
• Pace: 1:47/100M
• Stroke Rate: 43 Strokes Per Minute (SPM)
• Average Power: 62 Watts
Swim training on the Vasa Swim Erg is wonderful, especially with the Ant+ Power Meter. I can monitor my current power and it is always challenging to keep the Left/Right power balance as close as possible. I can adjust the Damper Door settings for more resistance when needed and I play with different SPM to dial in my optimal, sustainable power.
I was very pleased with that outcome, especially since the previous month I'd only been in the water 3 times, did some maintenance work on the Vasa, plus core and crossover symmetry bands for strength and injury prevention.
A good start to the morning and now it was time for some coffee and birthday cake. Sharon makes my favorite cake every birthday...carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. A couple cups of coffee and yummy cake as we chatted away the morning until I was ready to ride.
The roads and air temperature were not ideal so it was time for the trainer. 2 hours and 14 minutes was the goal. Since I could not measure distance on my resistance trainer, I looked at my average and normalized power in watts (W) from 2016: 181 and 187 respectively. So the goal would be a short 5 minute ramp up then try to dial in a solid zone 3 power effort in the 80-85% of current Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Current FTP is 246W so that would have me targeting between 187-223W. I quickly found myself hovering around 195-200W and decided this would be a good attempt to hold for the duration. Fueled by the earlier coffee and carrot cake the time just flew by. I did have some music piped in through my AirPods (thanks mom for the birthday present). Given this was a new way to approach a 1/2 IM along with my leisurely transitions, what better fuel than water and a few more little pieces of...you guessed it, carrot cake!
Bike stats for those interested in the details: 2 hours 14 minutes, average power 201W, normalized power 202W, 91% of ride in zone 3 with IF at .82 Some HR data as well avg. HR 123, Max 136
With the bike done and feeling really great about the effort it was time for a shower! Yes, another benefit to this new kind of 1/2 IM, you get to shower after the ride, have a light brunch, stretch and take a short nap before the run.
Run GO time and I am heading outside to one of my favorite local running spots at Rivers Edge Natural Area which was restored after the Big Thompson Flood in 2013. The gray morning turned to mostly sunny skies so if I timed it right, 1 hour and 44 minutes of running would finish up as the sun was setting behind the Rocky Mountains. I took off from the house and the first mile or so was on city streets until I made it to Rivers Edge; from there, I ran on frozen dirt and snowpack on twisting paths around the ponds.
I found a good rhythm and used a run/walk strategy similar to when I race. I have found that short walk breaks at aid stations allow me to get more of what I need in my body than on my body. Plus the short walk break is a nice reset. I took short walk breaks at 3, 6, 8.5 and 11 mile mark and topped off the brunch fuel tank with some water and a caffeinated gel. Don't get too caught up in the numbers. My heart rate monitor took 6 minutes to sort itself out hence the 187 HR reading. I don't think I ever saw my heart rate that high even in my 20's.
I really enjoyed my birthday workout, I needed a new kind of challenge during a challenging year. But to tell you the truth, I believe that just moving everyday is what's most important!
Some days it might be a walk and light stretching. Other days like today might focus on mental and physical endurance. Our bodies respond well to daily movement and in Colorado we have so many beautiful places to move while enjoying nature. It's never too late to start moving and sometimes the hardest part can quite often be getting started. To borrow a quote from Cris Dobrosielski at Monumental Results: "Small consistent change, over a significant period of time, leads to Monumental Results." The consistency in movement and daily choices are the most important pieces to long term physical and mental health.
As I head into my 31st year of coaching, I truly appreciate my mentors, coaches and athletes. In 2021, I hope to continue learning, questioning and challenging how we train...so I can help YOU Train Smart and Race Fast!
Please reach out if you would like to schedule a FREE 20 minute consultation.