I was able to get out to Boulder for 10 days of training with Mat Steinmetz, and Craig Alexander. To be honest I didn’t want to go after Steelhead. I had put in some large training going into Steelhead and didn’t expect to have the best race, but did want to feel strong, even if not fast. Well, I didn’t feel that great, and then tried to push hard through it and paid pretty handsomely on the run. Feeling pretty discouraged the last thing I wanted to do was go to Boulder and altitude and get schooled by some of the World’s best triathletes. (Here is a pic of me riding with Crowie, Cam Brown, and Tim Odonell, among others - WOW. All cool guys!)
I decided to pull up my skirt though and go. I'm glad I did. It allowed me to have a sit down with Mat and talk to him about some of the stuff we have been trying, what I think has been working, and what I think I needed to get back to. I have had reasonable success in the past, and while everyone wants to get faster, it is tough to find a balance of what changes need to be made, and what needs to be left alone. What is even tougher is sometimes you are making the right changes, just not seeing the effect yet. It is a very tough balance.
What was awesome about this trip however was Mat’s willingness to work with me 1-1. We went out for some rides and runs together and narrowed it down to a few things.
1 – Most importantly is controlling emotions and not over pacing or getting aggressive too fast. My argument has always been that I race best when I am “on” and just go with it. I still think that is true, but need to harness some of the emotions as well.
What gets tough, especially in the AG race, is you never really know where you are. You have to guess that everyone else is probably going a bit faster than you are and keep pushing at all times just beyond what you should. It works at times, but other times, just really doesn’t and causes huge blow ups. In the pro race, with some of the younger guys I coach I am able to tell them to “Sit in” and save energy. If the pace is slow, they know it; they can physically see the competition and see what the minimum amount of effort is they have to do to stay at the front. At Steelhead for example, I assumed my bike split was slow. So I pushed hard to stay in contact with what I thought would be competitive, later I found out I was 2nd fastest off the bike. Had I been able to see those guys biking, I would have known I was OK. Same goes for the swim. I battled another great swimmer the entire swim. I know the smart move is to draft but I didn’t want to think about if I got behind him, he would slow down once I relinquished and we would be losing time to other AG racers we couldn’t see. In the front pack, you see the swimmers; you know where you are at.
At a lot of races our entire AG isn’t even in the same pack. Combine that with the fact on these hot summer days we start as far back as 70-90 min later then some of the other fast AGs and it is a different race, and hard to compete against others. While I had the chance to go pro, and considered it, it was for these reasons more than thinking I could compete at the highest level.
Getting back to point 1, I cannot race this way successfully. I need to race within myself and do the best I can at the moment given I have one objective – get to the finish line as fast as I can that day for the conditions I am racing in.
2- Form on the run. I have worked with Vance, McGee, and Steinmetz to work out my run form. I have told Iott on several training runs that I am frustrated because it cannot be a lack of fitness and effort for why guys like him can out run me so badly at times. While this also plays heavily into point one, I have finally (I think) had something click on my form.
When I was a kid on swim team I could never do butterfly, until one day I could. I finally felt the rhythm and from there was able to do it. I feel like I have had a similar epiphany with my run. On one of our repeat sessions, I finally asked Mat, “You mean like this?” and it was YES! My pace dropped for less effort and the pics he took were good feedback. I need a lot of miles to work the endurance with the new form as after 3 the muscles I had never felt while running before (glutes, hips) were fatiguing. However I was excited as I have always heard these are the running muscles and while I was able to explain it, never really felt them engaged. Macca used to tell me the same thing, “You aren’t using your glutes” but I never could feel what he was speaking about. I think I have now! SO I am caught in the in between leading into Vegas and Kona with knowing what is right, but not having the endurance, so that should be interesting, but I am generally excited as to the prospects of continuing to figure this out.
3- Taper. I'm simply different then the norm for what it is that works for me. A traditional taper like we tried again for Steelhead is the death of my race. Mat thinks my taper leaves me feeling a little too tired on race day though so we are fudging with that slightly again, erring towards what has worked before. This is getting long, and we are going to podcast tonight about tapers, so if you are more interested in this, tune into Training Bible Coaching Podcast on Itunes.