16 August 2013

Why triathlon - Niinas addition

Jyrki has said almost all of it in the previous post. Some things I can add from my side.

I always liked training in a group. Finding a swim practice that suited us both and where it was possible to take Emma with us to swim and play with her friends while we trained, that was good luck! Immediately from beginning it was clear that I feel like a fish in the water and my technique looks completely fine. But for some strange reason it didn't work. I were the slowest swimmer in the group. It took me all the season until somewhere in the end of spring after I checked all parts of my technique piece by piece, I found what was wrong. My hands were too weak and my stroke looked correct but had no power. When summer came I still had not enough power in my hands, but shirts sleeves started to feel more tight and my speed was increasing. And by the time of Kuopio triathlon I managed to improve my swimming enough to cut of 4,5 minutes from last years result. And I know that I can still improve! So I am really waiting for our swim practices to start.

Less lucky I was with running. I knew it intuitively that my knees "don't like" certain things. But inspired by the new plans, I rushed into marathon school without listening to my body. Well, I think, it was 17th of March, when I run my last run according to the marathon school plan. After running for around 5 hours and 30-40 km a week for half a year, my knees got painful so suddenly that I had to interrupt my last training in the middle of it. Well, I went to a physiotherapist, got a personal exercise program and started to do it every evening. And no running. The rehabilitation brought no result and on the 2nd of May I went to knee MRI. There were found a lot of bad stuff, and I got a prohibition to run. 5 weeks before the half triathlon I started to run. 15 minutes at a time after cycling, once a week. And I went to the half-triathlon with a decision to try to run but being ready to interrupt.

Now I know that I will not try marathon or full triathlon anymore, being Jyrkis support in these events, is enough for me. But yes, I definitely want to compete in Olympic and half-triathlon. It is really addicting!

- Niina

Why Triathlon?

This is a long and booring post. But it is needed to understand where we come from.

How it all started

Some may wonder how we suddenly started to talk about triathlon 18 months ago.

Well it all started at work one day early 2012. A colleague of mine, Tommi, started talking one day during lunch, that we should challenge our selves and finish a 70.3(half distance) triathlon by summer 2013. A half distance triathlon consists of 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike and  21.1 km run.
I have always been an easy target for challenges. It took me about 3 seconds to decide and I said "Sure!".
I texted my wife about this immediately during the lunch, and 5 minutes after I sent the message I got a reply - "Me too!". So the total decision time for us was something around 6 seconds... ;-) (taking out the delay for writing, sending and receiving SMS messages). That was easy!
Now we had a goal to train for. For me having a goal is really important. If I don't have a goal it is really easy for me to just sit on the couch and watch TV. I need a goal! Now I had it.
Immediately we started to train towards achieving the new goal. Tommi, me and Niina decided that we should try it out already in August 2012 with an Olympic distance race to learn about all the things we did not know about in triathlon. More about the race later, but what both me and Niina found out was that we were slow at swimming, good at biking and slow at running.
In my age group there was 146 participants: I was 87th in swimming, 42nd in biking and 82nd in running.
In Niinas group there was 59 participants: Niina was 31st in swimming, 22nd in biking and 39th in running.
Both T1 and T2 times were in the bike part. Our changes were slow but still we were a lot quicker in biking compared to swimming and running.

From the results it was quite clear what we need to improve first... ;-)

We would concentrate on swimming and running. Biking was OK at this stage.

Some background on the different disciplines from our perspective...

I was never a good swimmer. Niina was a good swimmer. She had even competed in it at some point in her life. But she also needed to get speed. I could not front crawl for more than 25 meters. After 25 meters my heart rate was way over 150. Niina could basically front crawl for several kilometers at a time, but she was slow.
We decided to take up swimming first.
After the summer of 2012 we asked a young swimmer to look at our swimming technique and to give us some pointers on how to learn to swim better. Her first comment was "Well, it wasn't as bad as I feared..." But there was a lot to learn. It is actually not that easy to learn the right technique when you are 45 as I was...
Fortunately there was a lot of wanna-be triathletes among our biking friends. The local swim club decided to arrange a new training group for adults. The target was to learn to swim the front crawl. Almost all persons in this group were training for triathlon. In the fall of 2012 we started going to our new swim training every Sunday at 19:30 - 21:00.
Late spring 2013 it felt great when I actually realized that I can swim the front crawl for 3 km without stopping and the heart rate stayed under 140. Niina had picked up some speed.

Biking was easy for me and I had already done a lot of long (and sometimes hard) bike rides. Niina had started biking a couple of years earlier and biking was almost the only sport that we did during the previous years. As stated earlier, biking was OK. But we would only take up biking again in the spring.

Running again was not a strong point for either one of us. We had been running every now and then in the past. Every time I started running my heart rate went above 150. I could not take any running steps without my heart rate going too high.
A local medical center has been  arranging a running school (or marathon school)  for years already. We thought that, "Hey, this is exactly what we need right now". The running school had a lot of different lectures on training intensities, nutrition, muscle maintenance, ... We had two running tests to define our aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. One test in the fall and one test in the spring to see if we had any progress during the fall and winter. Periodization of the training was done by a professional coach. We got a new program every 6 weeks. The programs were customized for each participant. Also our feedback from the previous program was taken into account.

What then...?

After the first triathlon competition in August 2012, we were hooked! I knew that I could do the 70.3 distance, the question was only how fast. The target was to do it in 5:30 - 6:00. As a test of what I can do, I knew it was not a big challenge. I have done a lot of 6 hour exercises, even hard ones. That would not test me enough. And this was were I lost it completely. I decided to complete a full distance triathlon before I turn 50...hmmm...let's make it 47 ;-)
When I decided to go for the full distance, I knew that at some point I will have to first run a full marathon. That quickly became the first milestone towards the goal. I selected to run the Stockholm Marathon on the 1st of June 2013. This was now what I was training for.

- Jyrki