Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The War Before the War

May 22, 1856 - John Brown looks out at the aftermath of a raid of Lawrence, Kansas.  The Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854 stated that each state could decide whether it would be free or slave.  The result was that both slave supporters and abolitionists moved into Kansas in order to decide it's fate.  The town of Lawrence was the heart of the abolitionists - a few days earlier slave supporters came into the town and destroyed two newspapers and one hotel.  The next day a U.S. congressman beat abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner with a cane. 

News of both events made Brown's blood boil.  Not only was he angry about these attacks - he was angry that the abolitionists didn't seem to have the stomach to fight back.  He set out with his men - including four of his sons to exact vengeance.

June 10, 2012: The Swim - The sea was angry.  The sea in this case being Clinton Lake, just west of Lawrence.  I am not an experienced triathlete - but one thing I know is that if there's a current in a lake it's probably not a good thing.  I lined up near the front, but on the outside.  After several open water swims this spring I decided that part of my anxiety is when people are directly in front of me.  I don't like the idea of having to navigate around people or running into them.

Oddly enough the 2-3 foot waves didn't seem to faze me - at least emotionally.  My head was down and I was even able to bilaterally breath at least some of the time.  However the current meant that I was constantly turning left - even though the course went straight.  At the turn around I looked at my watch - 20 minutes.  Crap - not what I had hoped for.  With a wetsuit I thought I could swim a little over 30 minutes for the swim.  Since wetsuits weren't allowed because of the water temp (it was only about .5 degrees above the max temp allowed for wetsuits) I knew I wouldn't swim that fast - but I still hoped to swim ~35 minutes.

When I finally came out of the water I looked at my watch and saw 42 minutes.  Very disappointing.  But, this is my experience as a triathlete.  A very emotionally/physically challenging and yet slow swim followed by trying to get myself mentally into the bike and the run.  Don't get me wrong - this was my best swim ever in some ways.  There were 2-3 foot waves with no wetsuit and I didn't freak out at all.  But I was still slow.  I need to get better before Madison.

May 23, 1856 - John Brown and his men went to the houses of known slavery supporters and killed five men with broad swords.

June 10, 2012: The Bike - Big swells on the water were signals of even more difficult times on the bike.  The race started out heading south, directly into the wind.  However I had some broad swords of my own.  My neighbor and Omaha triathlon winner Gerald let me borrow his aero wheels.  The wind and hills were still tough - but when I had a downhill or the wind was at my back I was flying.  I used all three aid stations - drinking down all of my perform  drink between each stop including some water (more to cool me off) and a gel every 30 minutes.

The bike is difficult for age groupers.  My age group was pretty far back for our swim wave, meaning that I was going to have to bike through a bunch of people who may or may not understand that they need to stay to the right.  I probably yelled "on the left!" about 40-50 times.  The most dangerous parts were when there was a more smooth part of the road in the middle - which meant that nobody was on the far right part of the road - and basically cut the amount of road that was used by half.  That's not good when you're trying to pass a somewhat slow person who's trying to pass a really slow person.

Near the end of the bike someone came up from behind me and yelled - "Hey Ben - do you think we're near the front of our age group?"  Just then a wind gust came up (it was a crosswind at this point) and we almost ran into each other.  He saw the number on my back - which is why he knew my name.  We pledged to help each other on the run - but I never saw him again (I think he passed me on the last aid station and I passed him on the run).

1856 and beyond: John Brown had a few more clashes in Kansas before returning to the east.  Of course he is most famous for his attempted slave revolt in Harper's Ferry, Virginia in 1859.  His revolt was a failure in that it was put down almost before it started by future confederate general Robert E. Lee.  Brown was put to death relatively quickly, but he became a martyr in the north.  A song called "John Brown's Body" (a tune that became eventually became the "Battle Hymn of the Republic") was the song of the North of the Civil War.  The south saw John Brown's attempted slave revolt as a major reason for seceding from the north.  Which may have made sense if there was an army of John Brown's - but for better or worse there were no other John Brown's in the north.  He may have been a crazy terrorist - but he did help to end slavery in the US.  And in many ways it all started out in the wind swept praries of Kansas.

June 10, 2012: The Run - My main goal was getting through the swim smoothly.  The bike was probably my secondary concern.  The run was really just about being strong while not putting myself so deep that I would have a hard time recovering this week.  It was warm, but there were aid stations almost every mile.  I took in Perform, water, and ice at every station.  The first mile was slightly uphill - I looked at my watch and saw 6:05.  I really didn't expect to be running this fast, but I felt strong and relaxed.

The only relief for the embarrassment of the swim earlier is hearing spectators say "Hey, he's looking strong!" during the run.  There were only two real hills on the run (it was a two loop course).  But there wasn't much shade and the temperature was close to 90 degrees by the end.  Through nine miles I was actually under six minute pace, but I slowed up a bit the last four miles and ended up about 6:05 per mile.

Overall I feel really good about my performance on Sunday.  The swim is something that still needs work.  I feel pretty good about my bike - especially since I'm still riding a road bike with clip-on aero bars.  The run showed that I'm fine just running mostly easy with a tempo race thrown in every once in awhile.  I would have been happy with a 1:25 - so, to run sub 1:20 and feel relatively good the entire time is great news. 

What specifically do I think I'm doing right in my training?  I've averaged 1-2 ~56 mile rides per week almost always followed by a run of 30-45 minutes.  Most of those were in the middle of the afternoon at the warmest part of the day - which is almost always windy here in Nebraska.  I always take gels every 30 minutes and a bottle per hour (sometimes less if it's cooler).  By Sunday my body was used to riding that distance in conditions that were even worse. 

Most weeks I've been including a two hour run (usually ~17 miles).  My week at elevation probably helped too.  Santa Fe is 7,000 feet - I did one ride there where I climbed up to over 10,000 feet.  I've been running quite a few races - but I always treat them as tempo runs or escalation workouts.  I never put myself into the red.  I figure that long endurance racing is mostly about keeping yourself out of the red - so, there's no reason to do it in training. In May I swam 38 miles, biked 629 miles, and ran 165 miles.

Of course there's a lot of training to go before the real war on the second Sunday in September.  The next two weeks I'm going to actually increase my volume, but decrease intensity.  In two weeks I'll experience my first century ride and in five weeks I'll be at the Great Lakes Relays (26 miles of sub-6 minute running in three days), 

Monday: 1 hour swim 3 hour bike
Tuesday: 30 min swim 45 min run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim 3 hour bike 30 min run
Thursday: 1 hour run
Friday: 1 hour swim
Saturday: 30 min swim 3 hour bike 45 min run
Sunday: 1 hour swim 2 hour run (sub 1:20 half-marathon)
Total: 19 hours - 9 hours bike 5 hours swim 5 hours run

Monday: 1 hour swim
Tuesday: 1 hour swim 30 min run
Wednesday: 40 min swim 1 hour bike 45 min run
Thursday: 1 hour swim 2 hour run
Friday: 1 hour swim 2 hour 45 min bike
Saturday: 30 min swim 45 min run
Sunday: 1 hour swim 3.5 hour bike 30 min run
Total: 18 hours - 7.5 hours bike 6 hours swim 4.5 hours run

Monday: 1 hour run Bolder Boulder ~35 minutes (5:40 pace)
Tuesday: 1 hour swim 1 hour 45 min bike
Wednesday: 1 hour swim 1.5 hour run
Thursday: 3 hour bike 20 min run
Friday: 50 min swim 30 min run
Saturday: 3 hour bike
Sunday: 1 hour 10 min run 1 hour 40 min swim
Total: 16.5 hours - 7.5 hours bike 4.5 hours swim 4.5 hours run

Monday: 1 hour swim 3 hour bike 30 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour swim
Wednesday: 30 min swim 2 hour bike 45 min run
Thursday: 50 min swim 45 min run
Friday: 1 hour swim
Saturday: 20 min swim 30 min run
Sunday: 40 min swim 2.5 hour bike 1 hour 20 min run
Total: 17 hours - 7.5 hours bike 5.5 hours swim 4 hours run

Next two weeks:
Monday: 1 hour swim
Tuesday: 1 hour bike 30 min run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim 3 hour bike 45 min run
Thursday: 1 hour run
Friday: 1 hour swim 2 hour bike 45 min run
Saturday: 2 hour swim 4 hour bike
Sunday: 2 hour run
Total: 20 hours - 10 hours bike 5 hours swim 5 hours run

Monday: 1 hour swim 3 hour bike 30 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour swim 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim 4 hour bike 1 hour run
Thursday: 1 hour run
Friday: 1 hour swim
Saturday: 5 hour bike 30 min run
Sunday: 2 hour run
Total: 22 hours - 12 hours bike 4 hours swim 6 hours run

No comments: