Saturday, 31 March 2012

March

March in southern Ontario was more like May - multiple days in the 20's, very few days below zero, and hardly any precipitation (with no snow).  Which for triathletes means outdoor riding season came early this year!  So great to see so many people out on the roads. 

This month in Triathlon
The 2012 triathlon season is in full swing - a bunch of high profile races all went down this month.  In the short-course world, the unofficial season kick-off is the Mooloolaba Triathlon on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, where big names lined up to earn Olympic points and have an early season kick-out to see who's showing early season form.  The French had a great race, with Laurent Vidal winning his first major ITU race and teammate David Hauss coming third.  Sandwiched in between them was Brad Kahlefeldt.  Canadians got a boost to their hopes of fielding three men at the Olympics this summer when Kyle Jones claimed 8th spot, jumping the Canadians over the Portuguese and Russians into 7th place in the current team standings (top 8 teams get 3 starts in London).  On the women's side, Aussie Erin Densham took the title, with Nicola Spirig and last year's world champ Andrea Hewitt rounding out the podium.
Densham making a bid for the Aussie Olympic Team
In the long-course world, there were three major events during the month - Ironman New Zealand was a bit anti-climactic as weather conditions forced the race to be run as a 70.3 instead of a full Ironman.  Marino Vanhoenacker took the title ahead of Tim Reed and Cam Brown for the men, and Meredith Kessler took the women's title ahead of Kate Bevilacqua and Jo Lawn.  On the same weekend in Abu Dhabi, Rasmus Henning took the title after almost two years of sub-par performances ahead of Team Abu Dhabi member Faris Al-Sultan and Eneko Llanos.  Former pro cyclist Nikki Butterfield won the women's race ahead of Canadian Angela Naeth and Team TBB's Caroline Steffen.
The biggest race of the month was the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship held in the middle of metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. Big Kona points, a large prize purse and the promise of a fast course drew a star-studded field, with Craig Alexander throwing down a 2:38 marathon to race sub-8 for the first time, winning a super-tough duel with Cam Brown (who just missed going sub-8).  Cam wouldn't have raced here had Ironman NZ been a full race, racing so well in Melbourne was a bit of a consolation for having his ten-year winning streak snapped in Taupo.  Frederick Van Lierde, who was 5th in Abu Dhabi, rounded out the podium.  Caroline Steffen, coming off her bronze medal performance in Abu Dhabi, destroyed the bike course and missed the Ironman-brand world-record by 50 seconds, ahead of Rachel Joyce and Mirinda Carfrae.
Grizzled Vets Holding Court in Melbourne
March Summary
Targets for March:
1. Lay down some 3-5 hour outdoor rides on the weekends.
2. Bring swim pace down to be consistently 1:20/100 SCM and 1:22/100 LCM.
3. Burn up the slopes at Smuggler's Notch for my once-every-Olympiad attempt at downhill skiing. 

Swimming - 11:55 hours, 40,568 metres
A big drop in metres from Jan and Feb, sickness struck mid-month, as well as when the weather got nice, a few swim sessions were sacrificed for outdoor rides. 

Key session was a 4000 meter swim session on March 30: Main set of 10*300 on 4:30 LCM, we'd been talking about this set since January and I hit it in a pretty fatigued state.  I would have liked to have held a faster pace (average was 4:21 or 1:27/100) but it was good to make it.  45 minutes of solid swimming at a pace comparable to long-course race pace.

Cycling - 38:50 hours, 1,108 kilometres
The unseasonably warm weather allowed for more road time than prior years.  Even with missing part of the month due to sickness the totals were similar to last May. 

Key session: No monumental rides during the month, however I was surprised to see a PR on the Brimley Road hill climb so early in the season - my club rides Brimley once a week (four to five repeats a workout) and usually peak fitness comes later in the year.  I'm still 45 seconds off the KOM time for the hill but happy to be faster than last year in March.  http://app.strava.com/activities/5461430

Running - 29:05 hours, 384 kilometres
March started slow for running as I came back cautiously from February's calf twinge.  Total mileage was my highest since March 2010 when I was only running whilst training for my last marathon.  Legs felt heavy almost the entire month due to the high intensity bike workouts, but the stride is smooth and pace is good at long-distance effort.

Key session: 30K run with descending 10K's, starting easy and working into long-distance race-pace.  Felt comfortable and had good speed despite hard bike intervals the day before.  Strava link: http://app.strava.com/activities/5533729

Total - 79:50 hours
Biggest training month since September 2011, not as big as the build into Hawaii but a touch more than the build into Louisville.  

April Preview
Targets for April:
1. Make it to the start line on April 15 healthy and rested.
2. Embrace 'Gambare Nippon!' for eight hours on April 15.
3. Enjoy some rest and recovery back in Toronto following the race.

The triathlon world is in full swing following a big March - some highlights of the coming month:
- April 1: Ironman 70.3 Texas, Lance's second race of the year with a bunch of studs lining up to take a shot.
- April 14/15: ITU Sydney World Championship, full Canadian contingent present Down Under.
- April 15: Strongman Japan, the largest and longest-running race in Asia (a bit of self-interest here...)

Almost as highly anticipated as April's racing is the resumption of the battle for the Iron Throne on HBO starting April 1 - 'power is a curious thing':

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