Friday, June 29, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Fish swimming

This week I made a key decision about my next training cycle: I will focus on swimming and do nothing more with my running and biking other than to keep maintaining my endurance base for the occasional marathon/century fun run/rides.

Swimming is clearly my performance limiter. My Florida 70.3 race results showed that I can bike and run fairly well just doing simple endurance training, no speed work or hard brick workouts. My swimming, OTOH, leaves much to be desired. If I want to really improve as a triathlete, I've got to tackle my weakness and now's the time to take the plunge, now that I no longer hate swimming (as of April when someone introduced me to drills and toys that make swimming more fun :-) and now that I've found Karlyn Pipes-Neilson, an exceptional swimmer and instructor, to help me in Kona.

So, for the next 4 months, I will be doing 4-5 swim workouts per week and limiting myself to only 2-3 biking workouts and 2-3 running workouts per week most of the time (any more biking/running would take away from my focus on swimming, I think). Though I could probably meet my goal to finish the Miami Man Tri (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run) in under 6 hours by knocking off 8-10 minutes from my bike and run segments, that would be almost too easy (just work on my strengths!) and unsatisfying in the end. Knocking off 8-10 minutes from my swim time, however, would be something I'd be proud of.

Here's my plan:

1. Early July (Orlando) - Work on technique. While keeping some fundamentals about good balance I learned from Total Immersion swimming, try using Karlyn's much wider swim stroke for more power and straighter swimming (just got her DVD).

2. Late July (Kona) - Take private lesson from Karlyn. Afterwards, continue practicing at the Kona Aquatic Center and in Kailua Bay (open water swimming). Try to find a masters group or other swim group to join.

3. August (Orlando) - Continue working on technique. Build endurance to be able to swim 2500-3000 yards at least 3 times per week.

4. Early Sept (Kona) - Attend Karlyn's 4-day swim camp. Afterwards, continue practicing at the Kona Aquatic Center and in Kailua Bay (open water swimming) on my own or with others from the camp. Start working on trying to swim at a goal pace of 2:30-2:45/100m, which translates into a 50-55 min swim time for 1.2 miles.

5. Late Sept (Orlando) - Practice drafting with Dave or someone else swimming in the same lane. Keep trying to find a masters group or other swim group near me to join (no luck as of yet).

6. October (Orlando/Omaha) - Do the Health First Tri on 10/7. Look for open water or pool swimming opportunities while in Omaha week of 10/15. Practice swimming with my wetsuit (Miami Man is usually a wetsuit legal race).

7. November 11th, Miami Man - Finish the race in less than 6 hours.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Back from Kona and happy to say that nothing too eventful happened. During one of his bike rides, Dave called and left me a message to tell me he was going to be late which got me worried because I could hear nothing but wind noise and he'd not returned by the time the sun was starting to set (I found him a few miles from our condo). And later, near the end of our trip, he stepped on a sea urchin while taking a dip in the ocean. Fortunately, it wasn't bad enough to require an emergency room visit and I guess the time we spent digging out the needles could be counted as time spent together ...

Otherwise, things went pretty smoothly. Each day usually started out with sunny skies that clouded up during the afternoons with some afternoon rain. We heard some tourists complaining about the rain but we didn't mind. Dave actually prefers to ride when it's not sunny and the cooler weather was a nice change (cooler than Orlando, that is). Below are some highlights from our relatively "boring" trip. Thank goodness Dave and my sister Joyce took some pictures. I'm not much of a camera person and kept forgetting (doh!).

Biking – Dave rode his bike along parts of the 112 mile Kona Ironman bike course (click image to see larger map) nearly every day and logged a whopping 34+ hours and 581 miles(!). On his longest ride, I met up with him at Waikoloa Beach Resort, about 28 miles from our condo, and we rode up to Hawi together, the northern bike course turnaround point for both the Kona Ironman and Hawaii 70.3 races (I may do the latter one next year). Along the way we found out firsthand why disc wheels aren’t allowed during these races (evil crosswinds!); the ocean views were gorgeous, however. On the way back we stopped at a mini mart in Kawaihae where Dave gobbled down some Spam sushi, a sign his body was craving salt & carbs. Surprisingly, he didn’t get a single flat during the entire trip. I got a cool new aero helmet and a hot new bike jersey from Cycle Station for letting him do this craziness. Dave now has another reason to call me 'Madame Pele' ;-)

Relaxing – For me, this vacation was a vacation away from structured training. I did some bike rides together with Dave, swam at the local pool and in Kailua Bay with Dave floating along on a boogie board (saw some pretty fish and a turtle!), and ran along Alii Drive past some scenic beaches. I didn't keep track of any of my workouts, though. I probably spent more time hanging out on my lanai watching the surf roll in, shopping, watching DVDs, napping, and who knows what else … I didn’t log them either :-)

Family Time – My sister Joyce, her husband David and daughter Christina joined us the second week. It’s been 5 years since Joyce and David last visited the island, and my niece’s first visit since she just turned 3, so they did a lot of tourist things: riding horses (picture taken at Dahana Ranch in Waimea), going to various beaches, volcano sightseeing, hula lessons, etc. I gave Christina a kid’s ukelele for her birthday. It doesn’t stay in key very well, but at least it plays pretty softly. Better than the bike horn Dave got his friend’s kid for his 2nd birthday.

Home Improvement – Now that the furniture I ordered during my February Hawaii trip had arrived, my next task was to fill our condo walls. I saw a lot of ugly large framed prints and paintings with high price tags and decided I wanted something different and less costly. Well, at least I got something different. On his rest and recovery days, I asked Dave to hang them up and install a couple more ceiling fans and towel racks. The place is really starting to feel like home!

All in all, we had a great time and I think we proved to ourselves that we'll not be bored out of our gourd when we move there to retire. Believe or not, I’m headed back in late July with my mom and in early September, too, for a 4-day swim camp. The 11-12 hour flight, 13-15 hrs if you include connection times, no longer feels so long. My trick is to poop myself out the day before, stay up late and then sleep most of the flight :-)