More Data for Better Living – Swim Stroke Rate

So I know my stroke rate in the pool is slow – usually around 44 spm. I was racing on Sunday and my stroke rate was ~60 spm. I know that a faster stroke rate is better, and it’s definitely better for open water – I hadn’t been aiming for it, I just fell into it. I went back and looked at my previous four races this year. Same deal – my arms always move faster when I’m racing.

I’m much faster in the water when I race and I had been chalking that up solely to the wetsuit but now I’m thinking it’s a combo of wet suit and a higher cadence.

Finally, progress!

Not me y’all, Lake San Antonio!!

Wildflower was cancelled and took the rest of the TriCal season with it, which totally sucks as they have been a bulwark of the independent triathlon scene for a long time. They said that they would return to Wildflower when Lake San Antonio was once again above 20% capacity and they could hold the swim at the Lynch boat ramp.

I’ve been tracking the reservoir levels and they have been dropping, slowly, all year.  Even when the rain started, even when rain fell on the lake, still the level went down. What was going on? Was the ground that dry in the lakebed and watershed that it was all just getting absorbed? Considering how dry it has been for the past five or six years, yeah.

California is in the midst of a massive rain storm and I checked in and yes!!! Lake San Antonio got an inch of rain in one day last week (for non-Californians – that’s a lot) as well as continuing direct rainfall and rain on the watershed. It has gone from 6% full last week to 11% full as of yesterday. That includes an increase in overall depth of more than 12 feet in three days this week and an increase of 1.3 miles in length. If you have been to Lake San Antonio that will mean a lot to you, as the actual lake has been really, really far from the Transition/Finish Line/Festival Area for years.

Now we all now that this was just an elaborate ploy to keep Jesse Thomas from 7-peating but as soon as Wildflower is back, I will be there and I hope you will too.


Let’s make some reasonable goals!

Wildflower  cometh, and with it the massive amounts of anxiety that can only be dealt with by obsessively playing with triathlon calculators and training data to come up with a a decently realistic set of race goals.

I took too long and too off an off season.  I didn’t take it easy and do some running, biking, swimming and other fun things. I did fuck all for like two months. So I’m slower than last year. Sigh, so annoying but I did it to myself.

I can think about my long term goals, things like “Do a 5k under thirty minutes!” and “Do an Olympic tri in three hours!” but those are to be worked at for years. Those are goals where the process must be savoured, cuz I’m gonna be working on that shit for aaaagggggeeeesssss……..

I can think about my comparative goals. I always compare my speed to the pros on the ITU/Olympic circuit. I try to go half as fast as they do.

For instance, Carolina Routier swam 1500 meters in Abu Dhabi on March 5, 2016 in 18:48 which is just under 1:15/100 meters. I want to swim the swim at Wildflower in 37:36 2:30/100m twice her time. This goal is a bit tricky when you’ve got either tide or current at play (Oakland Triathlon was against the flood tide last year, thus, slow as dirt swim).

Wildflower is in a lake, so it should be relatively fast. There is no pro field in the race I am doing. The best women’s swim time last year was 19:12 for a 38:24 or 2:20/100 y.  I think I can do that! When I do pull buoy sets I can hold 2:22 easily so I’m going to set 38:24 as the goal for the swim.

Last year’s best bike time was 1:17:19 19.2 mph.  That’s pretty slow, so the hills are a big impact.

And I have no idea how fast I am right now, in any capacity, on the bike.  I do my very hard bike work on the trainer – which is great for hitting power targets and watching fun videos. It sucks for translating into road speed. You can’t take your bike wheel speed because the trainer resistance is very different from pedaling on the road.

I really want to average 16 mph because that’s about what I did for my last Oly tri. Averaging 16 mph on this course would actually make me faster than I was on the flat course from last year. I have been training really hard and I raced that race too easy.

and the run. Is split into two parts. Due to the drought, when we come out of the water, we have to run 2.2 miles to our bikes. After we bike, then we run the other 4 miles. So, ummm, how the hell do you plan the pace?

Heart rate! If I am planning to race for 3:30 – 4:00 then I should be staying in the high zone 3, low zone 4 heart rate zones. That’s it, just forget about pace and focus on effort.  Yeah, I’d like to do the run in something like 1:10 – 1:15 but it’s hilly and it’s going to be hot so I have no idea if that’s realistic in any way.

I should stop bloody worrying about speed and focus on racing at the right intensity so I don’t blow myself up trying to hit an unrealistic pace target. Which means ignore just about everything I’ve written so far (except the swim part, that’s still valid).

My goal for Wildflower is to race in Zone 3 to low Zone 4 for the entire bike and run.  That means not going too hard on the uphills and pushing the downhills.

Effort, effort, effort. Sounds like a triathlon, actually.


Lake San Antonio Update – 4/7/2016

The numbers as of 4/1/16

(Water is represented in Acre-Feet)

Current level is 7.2% – 24,110

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 42,890

Increase since 1/24/16 – 13,755

Increase this week – 1,600

Days until Wildflower – 23

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 1865 (yeah, good luck with that)

Next rainfall forecast -4/7/2016

There has been no rain for a couple of weeks and temperatures have risen, so rainfall now has to cope with increased evaporation. The good news is the water is the highest it’s been since they have started using Harris Creek, higher water = less of a climb to get to T1A.

There should be significant rain this weekend, up to a half inch, and there is a chance of rain for at least the next ten days. Unless we get a proper flood Lynch will have to wait for next year, but we will have plenty of lovely water to swim in.

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)


Lake San Antonio Update 3/10/2016

The numbers as of 3/10/16

(Water is represented in Acre-Feet)

Current level is 4.8% – 16,130

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 50,870

Increase since 1/24/16 – 5,775

Increase this week – 4,406

Days until Wildflower – 51

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 997.45 (yeah, good luck with that)

Next rainfall forecast -3/11/2016

There was significant rainfall this week  -2.05 inches. Even on days when it has not rained, the rate of increase has gone up substantially as the upstream watershed drains into the Lake. While we probably won’t get Lynch this year, it’s a great thing that the losses due to the diversion to Nacimiento are being redressed.

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Lake San Antonio Update 2/19/2016

The numbers as of 2/19/16

Current level is 3.5% – 11,775

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 55,225

Increase since 1/24/16 – 1,420

Days until Wildflower – 71

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 777.82

Next rainfall forecast -TBD

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Lake San Antonio Update 2/15/16

In our last Episode of “Obsessing over race venues…”

January 27th, 2016 – “If water levels in Lake San Antonio get above 20%, the Wildflower Triathlon Swim start will move back to Lynch. (No two mile run to your bike) Current level is 3%. The required storage is 70,000 Acre Feet of water. Current level is 10,659 acre feet (up from 10355 at the beginning of the week +304 acre feet). 59,341 acre feet to go!! (Yes, I check this.) ‪#‎ElNinoforPresident‬!”


The numbers as of 2/12/16

Update – required storage is 67,000 Acre feet, not 70,000 as written above.

Current level is 3% – 11,598

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 55,402

Increase since 1/24/16 – 1,243

Days until Wildflower – 75

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 738.69

Next rainfall forecast – 2/17/16.

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Got my motor running!

I got back to the whole working out reality on January 1 (how trite)!

I started back with Rubber Glove – to set my cycling FTP and LTHR for the Tour of Sufferlandria, which is coming on February 6-14.

All done!
All done!

Then on Saturday, January 2, I went to the gym and lifted the things. It was quite wonderful. I go to the Downtown Oakland YMCA. They have child watch, which is $2 an hour for child care while you are in the Y, so Pip gets to go to “Y School” and I can get a workout in.

The lifting was fun. I bought a program that I’m going to be using, if not following, as it’s not triathlon specific but I really like the instructions and the sets/progressions.

For the record, I squatted 20 pounds. 20. Sigh, big ass with no muscles. I am the poster child for glute amnesia. BUT I’m not gonna jack my hips like I did back in 2010-11, I’ve been keeping my issues at bay with yoga and increased strength is gonna help me start to get ahead of the curve.

20 pounds means that for all the running I do, my poor quads are doing just about all the work, all the climbing, all the cycling. Poor quads! The great news about having suck weak glutes and hammies is that progressing them is probably gonna go quite nicely! Stronger ass = faster run splits!!

Now, other things, I did much better than I expected at. I can do a cable row like a boss, so the old lats are still present and accounted for.



Race Report – Beat the Blerch Half Marathon

Beat the Blerch Sacramento Half Marathon – November 14, 2015

I went into this race with a bit of a plan.  A set of numbers really.

2:37 – PR

163-173 – Zone 3 Heart Rate

2:25 – Goal Time (remember this)

The race start time was humane, almost leisurely, at 9AM. I got to the venue two hours before because my homie who was running the full (which started at 8AM) had picked up my packet for me. She even got my bib signed by The Oatmeal! Cheryl is the best and you should run with her.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

The day of the race was the day of the cold snap! We have two seasons in California – warmer and drier and then sometime in November it’s colder and wetter. The drop is 20-30 degrees in a matter of days. No easing into fall, just, BAM, it’s colder now!

Cheryl bought me gloves, because she is the best ever. Gloves I was loving as I strolled around Raley Field – the race venue, while it was 45 degrees waiting for my packet. Looking back , the wandering was good – got me a bit warm, got my nerves out, but stupid. My car was warm!!

I got in a nice little jog with some faster work to get my heart rate up, dumped my jacket and gloves in the car and got ready to rumble.

Bright blue capris on the right.
Bright blue capris on the center right.

For the first little bit the lure of pace was strong, but I held tight to heart rate. I tried to keep it right about 169, not too high, not too low, just even effort. The first mile was the longest. After that it got easier, just run, check heart rate, adjust – rinse and repeat. I took a gel every 30 minutes and carried my own bottle. I started with Gu Brew (Lemon Tea flavour is the bomb) for calories and electrolytes. After that ran I out I switched to water.

There were protestors, as this was the morning after the Paris shootings. Anti-refugee protesters. Lovely. I yelled at them, they yelled at me, I flipped them off and ran away. Literally.  (That’s for you KJ!)

The miles went by so easily, just staying in the Zone, talking to other racers, thanking traffic control and volunteers. They would have gone by even more easily if there had been any porta potties on the course! I talked to the organizers later and there had been a miscommunication so the porta potties were not delivered correctly. I spent mile 3 through mile 10 needing to pee. Right at mile 10 there was a park bathroom right on the course. Good timing to drop some weight and push the effort up for the last three miles.

(Look at that beautiful bastard!)

(And yes, even if your Garmin says it was only 12.8 it was 13.1. Can you say lots of curves and tree cover? Also, the course was lovely and I highly recommend it. Lots of turns broke it up mentally, lots of tree cover, good water stops, well stocked, great swag. A – would race again.)

After my pee break I bumped up into Zone 4. I saw my buddy Noodle at her water stop, high fived her and settled in for a tempo run to the finish.  Now, I didn’t get much faster, but it was the hilliest part of the very flat course. We were going through multiple underpasses and I maintained my speed through the uphills. A half mile before the finish was a wooden boardwalk that would have sucked a lot more if I didn’t run trails.

All through the race I had been near two women running with donuts around their waists like life preservers. The donuts beat me man. Someday redemption will be mine! As we came to the finish they had way more kick that I did.  The half marathon, the full marathon, the 10K were all together at this point. The marathoners finishing at this point were outpacing us all, and I got the nice jolt of passing a crap ton of slower 10K-ers to get me through the last bit. I did manage a bit of a kick on the last 100 yards and passed one person right on the line.

Time?? 2:24:43

Oh be still, my anal retentive heart!! If there is one thing I love more than going faster than I thought I could, it’s hitting my mark over a long distance. It also shows me that the online race time estimator that I used was spot on.  The more than 12-minute PR? Also super dope!!

A great day! Great conditions, good training and fueling, good race organization, and most importantly, spot on race execution courtesy of yours truly.