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!