Thursday, September 30, 2010

Summer of Healing and Speed

As I posted earlier I took most of this summer to heal. I have stayed away from my Blog and purposely took the emphasis off triathlon. I haven't really taken a step back in almost 11 years. My left leg and back were begging me for a break. So I spent a lot of time just living and not worrying about diet and abs and how many hours and miles I trained each week.

Biking felt good on my back and my leg so that is where I spent most of my summer. I started to feel the pressure to up my mileage to prepare for the Quakerman HIM and it took a huge effort to squash it. I did not do a run over 12 miles or a bike ride over 50 all summer. In fact, most weeks I ran only 2 or 3 times.

As my Au gust OLY neared I felt zero pressure to do well. For one of the first times I really had no time goals. I thought I could swim well and I was feeling very strong on the bike. In fact I never felt so fast on a bike before. I attribute it to the low volume of running miles. I had no idea how I would do on the run. I ended up having one of the best races in my life. 22 mph on the bike and sub 7 minute miles on the run. If my swim was a bit better I would have earned a podium spot. Top 40 out of 500 isn 't bad.

My next race was the OlY + in early September. This race is made for my strengths. .6 swim, 39 mile bike, and a 10k. The bonus this year was that college teams were competing. They brought an awesome energy with them that was contagious. I had a subpar swim but then I had the race of my life. I was seriously moving on the bike without going all out. In fact I almost equaled my time from last year when I had borrowed carbon aero wheels and was in IM shape. I got off e bike and knocked off a 6:30 mile. Sweet. The co ruse got hilly and i slowed but kept the pace around 7:00. Finished 1st in my age group and 7th overall. Only 3 college kids beat me. Not bad being that I am twice their age. That is weird to think about. Time flies.

I feel revitalized reenergized and healed. So now i am beating the heck out of myself training for the Philly Marathon. My energy and results from the summer have convinced me to give a sub 3hour marathon one more shot. After my Boston performance last April I had pretty much given up on it, but I feel like a new man. So far so good with the training. I have my mileage up in the 60 per week range already and have gotten up to 7 Yasso 800's all under 3 minutes. If I can stay strong with my diet and get down about 5 more lbs. I think i have a good chance. 6 more weeks of busting my butt to meet my last and ultimate running goal. Then it will be a month off and then I begin my quest for a third Chesapeakeman IM. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Training

June has been a very good month for training and healing. I have not followed any plan for the OLY I will be doing in August. I am just going by feel with a heavy emphasis on the swim and bike. One of my only goals has been to bike with others whenever I can. Over 98% of my rides in the last 5 years of training have been solo. Went out with two of my friends for a 30 miler and took turns attacking and covering the attacks. It was the most fun I have ever had on a training ride. My close friend and running partner is now serious about triathlons. It is cool how focusing on helping another makes my own workout seem so easy. Now it is time to start upping the run mileage and make a decision about a September HIM. My back is stiff but pain free. My left leg feels healed. I have a lot of energy and motivation. Now it is time to start pushing it again to see how my body responds.

Monday, May 24, 2010

BlackBear Sprint

Saturday was my first tri of the season and the first time I have raced unprepared in years. There is too much going on to focus on anything but my family and job. With my back issues I was expecting nithing form this race except to finish and hopefully get excited about training for real this summer.

I had a difficult time finding the time to pack my things for the race. Softball and t-ball were every night last week. Being the head softball coach is a much bigger responsibility than I imagined, but worth it to see my daughter having such a great time playing the game. Anyway, I got home Friday night by 9:00 and was in bed by 10:15. Up at 4:30 and out the door by 5:30. Nice easy drive through the mountains to Beltzville State park. The weather was perfect and I was more calm than ever before a race. It felt like a training day. Got in, got my packet, set up in transition, and had about 45 minutes to chill out before swim warm-ups. Temp was 65 water temp in the shallows was the same. Not bad at all.

Got in the water 30 minutes before the start. A bit shocking when I put my head under but I got used to it in about 5 minutes. In fact, it felt good. It was surprising to me how many people would not warm up. Most would suffer at the start. There were a few people I met who were first timers. It felt good to talk to them and calm them down. A father and his daughter were both over the top nervous and I spent some time with them. I felt the same way my first time. I remained completely at ease as a swam around looking at the hills surrounding the lake. I continued to tell myself don't push it or your back is going to tighten up and you won't be able to run and that this is not a day to prove anything. Just be glad you can do this.

I was in the 2nd wave. I started in the back left and just took it nice and easy. Long strokes, smooth strokes, and deep breathes. After a minute I started to pass people. After another minute I started to feel like I was going too easy, so I picked it up. My back felt good. I swam faster. I continued to feel good so I kept the pace then picked it up after the last turn. I forgot about my back and felt energized. Swam 650 meters in 10 minutes. Not bad at all for me.

My transition was so bad it was embarrassing. I could not get my wetsuit off my right leg. The grass had been cut recently and it was all over my as well. Well over 3 minutes in a sprint is a terrible transition. There is a long run with the bike uphill through grass and and sand to the bike mount.

I got on the bike and sprinted the first 300 yards to try to get in front of as many people as I could before the 200 yard no pass zone. I could not get in front of the guy with the mt. bike and 3 full bottles of energy drink (it is an 11 mile bike). He was giving it his all but was very slow. Got out on the rolling and hilly course and decided to count all the people I passed just for something new. I stopped at 50 because it was becoming a dangerous day. There were no officials that I could see. The course was open to traffic and riders were not staying to the right. I passed multiple people who were cruising right next to the yellow lines. One rider was down with most of the skin on his shoulder gone. I never raced a course where the bike was less than 18 miles. 11 is too short but it is fun to go all out. oops. I wasn't supposed to be going all out but I felt that good. Zero back pain. The climds are tough when you are in shape and I wasn't. 3 rides outside all spring. Many on the trainer but that doesn't help on the hills. I took it easy and then attacked at the top. I did not get passed and ended up with the 8th fastest split of the day. 19.1 MPH on that course is great for me.

Into transition and out quickly. I took it easy at first and slowly started to feel good. I still stayed conservative and hit the 1 mile mark in 7:08. Better than I had hoped for. The oroblem was, now I could see who was in front of me. Not too many people. I saw a few bikes racked in the masters area so I knew a couple were in front of me. I knew I was just here to have fun and kick start my season. I also know I have not cared to much about times and going fast. Screw it! Catching and passing people seemed like the most fun way to spend the next 13 minutes so I did. One guy was a good quarter mile ahead of me approaching the 1.5 mile mark on the dam. I was going to catch him or puke trying. I felt like I was flying. I was hitting a 6:20 pace and my back was great on the flats. Uphill not so good and downhill was painful. Luckily most of the race was a flat dirt path. I caught him with a bit over a quarter mile to go and took it in hard. 20:21 5K. Sweet!

I finished 15th out of 321. 4th in my age group. 40 and ups dominated the top 20. I felt great after. Cruised home and got ready for my son's t-ball game. Now to rest my back for another week, make an appointment with a back specialist, and hopefully then it's time to actually start training.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Season

Saturday starts my 5th season of triathlon. It is also the first race I am doing in which I am completely unprepared for. There is no time to train. Coaching my kids teams is a 5 or 6 day a week commitment. Not a reason to stress because it is a sprint and I have zero time goals. For the first time I am going to race simply for fun. I want to enjoy everything about the day. The distances are the shortest I have ever done. 650M-11miles-5K. The water should be cold but the day is forecast to be 78 and sunny.

My left leg is still feeling the effects of my March injury and Boston Marathon aggravation of it. It is getting better each week but it is still a problem. The same with my back. The leg will be better eventually, but now I am beginning to think my back problem is permanent. I need to start searching for a specialist. Life is becoming more challenging as my kids age and my body starts to rebel. But that is life and it is good.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time To Adapt

Today's race was a turning point in my running future. I am comfortable with my loss of speed. I feel like I am in a as good of shape that I have ever been. It is just that my body and mind have had enough of pushing it to the limit. This is life. It is not going quietly into middle age, it is considering changing goals to prolong my endurance lifestyle for as long as possible.

As I was approaching mile 7 and the start of the long climb in the race a sort of calm came over me. I just didn't have it in me to keep a 6:40 pace going any longer. In the past I would have dug deep and tried to fight off the demons. Today they migh have been angels sending me a message. I slowed. I climbed. I slowed even more. I had doubts. I started to lose my confidence as I was passed by person after person. The hills have always been my strength. Today I was surviving. Every ache and pain was on my mind. I could not fight them off. I reached the top and started to push the pace for 1.5 miles. Then, my legs said enough. I could not get them to turn over on the downhill. Finishing strong has always been my strength. Not today. Not even a push to the finish. 1 hour 33 minutes. Not bad. My worst 13.1 time since my first in 1999.

As I walked to the through the finish line I thought of Anton from Trifuel. I imagined him saying, "Pick your head up Lad. Do you want to be doing this for the next 10 or 20 years or do you want to go fast for a couple and then burn out or retire because of injury?" I am not upset. I feel like I can still run decent times. I want to have more fun and worry less about my place. I want to drink in the surroundings and the atmosphere. I did none of that today. The gift was ignored.

It is time to adapt. There will be no sub 3 hour attempt at Boston. There will be a 26.2 mile celebration of my 5th running. I will enjoy the gift on April 19.

A 1:33 done properly today could have had me feeling like a million dollars. Limping in because I hammered the first 7 miles is not what I want to do again. As I was nearing the last 1/4 mile a man I met at the start came up along sid me. He asked how I was doing. I responded that it was the worst race I have had in years. He told me it was his best. He PR'd by 6 minutes. I swore never to say a negative thing again to a person in a race. That is not what it is about. How lucky am I just to be running and living this lifestyle.

Maybe it is time to take a year off from longer races. Maybe I need a summer of sprints, Oly's, and 5k's. Maybe I just had a bad day. Maybe I am turning 41 this year and have had a hell of a 10 year run. 18 marathons, 18 half-marathons. 2 Ironmans. 2 HIM's, and 10 other tris. That is a lot of racing and training. I appreciate what I have done. I appreciate what I have. Today I had no urge to prove anything to myself. Life is presenting more challenges to my free time. The mileage may be catching up to me. I need time to ponder what this all means. But I do know it is time to adapt.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Real Race

Tomorrow I will race a half marathon in Delaware. I have not attempted an all out running effort in two years. I am anxious to see if I still am capable of maintaining a 6:30 pace. My top end speed has disappeared. Is it the sacrifice I had to make over the last 4 years of long course tri training? Is it because I am about to turn 41? A combination of both seems most likely. All I know is I can't seem to find that top gear when I dig deep. Two weeks ago I was able to hit a 2:49 for 800 meters on my final repeat. That is progress, but the effort was huge. The next week I could not touch a 2:58. Tomorrow will give me some true feedback.

The plan: Take the first 2 miles to decide if the 6:30 can be made to feel comfortable. If so go for it until mile 8, if not readjust my pace and expectations. When the 1.2 mile climb begins focus on breathing and getting stronger with each turn. Down the hill RELAX and let myself go. Finish strong by hitting another 6:30 for mile 13. Realistic goal is 1hour 32 minutes. Ultimate goal is 1:29. Then back to the mileage for another two weeks of Boston marathon training.