Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Panic of Taking a Day Off

I thought I'd try writing whilst somewhat in a state of panic. It's 6:18 Tuesday evening - prime time to be in pure training mode, but I ain't out there gettin' it done. I woke up gung-ho enough, but my noon I was on energy watch, and after just completing my warmup in my regular Tuesday lunchtime swim session I was not at all upset when the lifeguard booted me out of the pool for hearing thunder in the vicinity. "Fine, I wasn't having any fun anyway," I told her and hopped out of the pool just in time before it became a seething death tub of electrons.

All afternoon I've been going back and forth in my head - am I seeing signs of overtraining or am I just being a wussy? Fatigue, a little irritable maybe, and what's this piss-ant little cough I do every now and then? Hell, I should be tired after a weekend 110 mile ride and 5 mile run on Saturday, and a 20 mile run in 90-something percent humidity on Sunday!

The evening's workout -a 1.25 hr bike ride with some intervals, followed by a 6 mi M-pace run, and then 20 minutes of functional exercises -was already in jeopardy with the weather threatening rain, but my plan B was to get on the Computrainer and then get the run in afterwards.

I haven't missed a workout yet in this season's IM training. I've had a strong 2 months of solid training, and when weather or schedule or something else tried to get in the way I found a creative way to alter the workout or I just sucked it up and got out there anyway.

But after setting up the Computrainer and spinning for a few minutes in the garage, I decided tonight would be better spent resting and hopefully I can come back tomorrow burning with energy to tear it up out there on the track for my Wednesday session. I counted the hours I'd miss towards my goal of reaching 80 hours of training this month, and I'm gonna fall short of that anyway. I checked my weight at 160 lb, which is right where I want to be, so I'm not gonna go to bed "feeling fat" or anything. Chilling the night away just seems like the right thing to do, and I hope I can get to bed feeling the same way without going into the typical downward spiral of self-induced panic inspired by the absurdity that my entire fitness is falling apart in the course of one single evening.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Weekend's Tough Workouts

Just a quick post on how the weekend training went.

I'll back up to last Tuesday for a sec. Tried a new method at practicing pissing on the bike, which most people I talk to think is totally gross, but it can save you some precious time in a race as well as having to regain that momentum after stopping for a few seconds. Anyway, here's the trick. I drank like a fish during the latter hours of work.....to the point I couldn't stand it as I walked out of the building to head home and get ready for my evening ride. By the time I got dressed to ride I was dancing all over the place trying to hold it in. I even peed a short burst getting the bike out of the garage. Anyway, the point was to turn the pressure up so high in the ol' bladder and hold it there til I got on the bike, then allow myself the needed relief. It worked like a charm. The moment I let go, it went all over the place. And yes, I at least brought an extra bottle of water to rinse me and the bike off with when it was through.

A breakthrough in the world of triathlon urination!

Anyway, big weekend. 110 miles on my IM training course amongst the hills of eastern Raleigh on Saturday. I put three 42 minute HIM efforts in there after 1.5 hours of riding, with a 10 minute rest interval. All went very well and I completed the ride in 5:23. Still not up to par with where I hope to be come race day, but 5:15 is just around the corner and I'm still 9 weeks out so I feel good about the ride. I finished it off with 5 easy miles of running, which I say were easy but they felt so good I turned them in at a 7 min/mile pace.

Nutritionally, my breakfast was a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich (thanks, Angie!), my usual pre-workout shake made of Hammer Nutrition Sustained Energy, a Hammer gel, and vanilla soy milk. A banana, a Power Bar, and some Gatorade on the way to the ride for a last minute fuel up, and I popped 5 Sportquest VO2 Max tablets (snake oil placebo, I reckon, but I bought them for last year's Washington Half Iron and still have a few to go through so I may as well use 'em up) and 2 salt tablets 30 minutes before starting, and took enough of both with me to down every 45 minutes. I also had my trusty Carbo Pro and Power Bar Ironman Perform mixed into my water bottles and one flask of First Endurance EFS gel shot for during the session. At about mile 75 I stopped at a convenience store for a refill of straight water and a Snickers bar.

I felt great afterwards, and all afternoon was amazed at my recovery. Not the slightest bit tired, but with a 20 mile run to do in the morning I turned in early at 8:30 after fueling up with Angie's wonderful seafood lasagna that she so graciously slaved over to help me carb up!

Woke up this morning sore in the buttocks and lower back, and the gumption was having a little trouble surfacing. Oh my! My first morning in this year's IM training where I was questioning whether I could do the training session and contemplating putting it off! I fueled up though, tried a few stretches, Angie and I had a fun little Easter basket hunt for each other, and when I professed how unsure I was she was right there to tell me to get out there and run! Angie did a great job encouraging me!

I popped 5 Sportquest VO2 Max tablets and 2 salt tablets, packed one Gu gel pack in the shorts and toted one Fuel Belt flask full of water to start my 20 miler. Then I hit the road. Once I started running I was surprised to find that the legs didn't feel nearly as bad as I suspected, and the first mile went down at 7:36. Great! I thought I'd maintain the pace until I met up around mile 6 with the Sunday morning crowd, at which point the pace would surely pick up and I could bank some time before the inevitable rough slog home the last few miles. Unfortunately, nobody showed to the run and I was forced to do it on my own. Fatigue started rearing its ugly head at about mile 13 - way earlier than it should have. In hindsight, I believe the heat of the day - which eventually hit 84 - and even moreso the humidity (which I had noticed had my shorts soaked within a couple miles of the run, complete with salt slicks on it - uh oh, shoulda brought electrolytes!) is what sapped my strength. By mile 17 I was questioning my ability, and had fallen off of the 7:30 pace I had (optimistically) hoped for. By then, I was falling apart big time, and had to tell myself several times that "a Kona qualifier would not stop and walk!" I trudged on and finished the 20 miler in 2:34:30, just under 7:45/mile but those last few were really more like 8:30.

I definitely should have carried salt tablets and stashed water. Shame on me for not respecting the distance and what the humidity would do to me.

I walked in the house and went straight to the tub without even stripping down and Angie poured ice in it and fixed me my First Endurance Ultragen recovery drink. I barely had energy to spit, and when I did the trajectory only had enough oomph in it to plummet onto my chest. I was cooked.

But mission accomplished! In effort and volume, this weekend was as big as any will be leading up to Ironman CDA. I just hope I can adapt to it such that the speed and recovery will improve by then!

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What Else Can I Do?

It's what I go to bed thinking about every night. Did I do everything I could today to prepare myself for Ironman Coeur d'Alene? Did I do everything I could today to put myself in a position to score one of those Kona slots when I toe the line on June 26? Only 10 weeks away, I'm in the thick of it and every day is gonna count.

But this is it. I've tiptoed around it enough, and those smarter than me would probably never admit it until it happens, but yes, I'm going to Coeur d'Alene with the intention of earning a slot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. My natural ability - dare I say, talent - ain't near enough to do it. What genes my folks gave me, coupled with some extremely hard work......4 months of extremely hard work and sacrifice.........still might not be enough. It's gonna take the stars of the Big Dipper to inexplicably stretch out and align themselves. It's gonna take a blessing from God. It's gonna take all I can muster up, and that's why I ask myself every night if I'm giving it all I've got.

I fully understand I may be setting myself up for failure. Think what you like whether I succeed or not, but gimme a chance at least. I deeply apologize to everyone around me (Angie!!!!) for the negligence this obsession is causing me. But, just a chance, please. Let me take an honest crack at this thing.

On Friday, the gauntlet got thrown down in a big way. My good buddy, who we'll call Frank.......Fisher, got his own miracle and got a slot to Kona through the lottery. I'm not exactly sure how many tries it took, but I think his wife.........we'll call her Anne........said it was something that ends in "-teen." My first reaction was congratulatory, and I texted him on the spot. I couldn't be more envious though, and as happy as I am for him, I can't let him go out there alone and soak up every drop of the sufferage, heat, pain and misery that is that glorious race on that hallowed ground without me suffering right along side him. I gotta make it there too. And that would make it all the more sweeter to be out there amongst good company.

So, I put everything I could into this weekend. A storm rolling in Saturday threatened to mess with my long ride and run. I figured I could get 2 good hours on the bike before it hit, then get on the trainer in the garage for an hour, and then quickly drive to the gym for an 8 miler on the treadmill to complete my Saturday brick. I needed to do the ride at a good pace - something that would bode well for the White Lake Half Iron in 3 weeks but give me the mileage to feel like it was an honest Ironman training day as well. I nailed the ride at 22.4 mph on an extremely windy day, and logged 71 miles in the process. Then I got on the trainer in the garage and rode 15 more on the RealCourse video of IM CDA on the Computrainer. Then, too tired to believe I could nail the 8 miler at my goal pace of 7:30/mile I set out to see how rubbery the legs really were. After 7 miles I was ahead of my goal, on fire about Kona, and telling myself I could ease in for the last mile at an 8:20 pace, still nail the goal pace for the 8 miles, and maybe even conserve a little sump' sumpin' for Sunday's 18 miler. So, that last mile went by in 7:19. I thought about Frank in Kona, suffering without me, every minute of the workout - all 5 hours and 15 minutes of it.

I had a leisurely evening and ate my dinner - a grouper filet and some wild rice, chilled with my feet up and rehydrated for the 18 mile run early Sunday morning. There was something about a bunch of tornadoes all around and evidently a big enough storm came through tearing up some buildings in eastern Carolina and taking a few lives with it. I saw nothing of it but a little bit of sideways rain, and I went to bed at 8 pm and slept soundly til morning. I thank God for sparing our home, and allowing me the frivolous luxury of preparing myself for a petty race that means nothing to anyone in this world. I don't mean to be a big dope my whole life, but if I could just hang on for the next 10 weeks!

I awoke to one of the most beautiful sunny mornings I've ever seen in Greenville, and had a glorious 18 miler. Again, I needed to nail the pace at 7:30/mi to feel confident that I could turn in a marathon worthy of a Kona slot on race day, which, if I haven't said it before, is looking like it will call for a maximum of 3:30. If I can feel a 3:15 is easily doable as a fresh marathon, that 3:30 should be in the cards. Anyway, the pace for today's 18 was 7:20 when it was all done. Perfect. And I had plenty of energy left.

I can honestly say I have nailed every workout since I opened up to Ironman training on March 1. When will I fail? It can't last forever.

So, what else can I do? I have a picture of an aerial view of Kona on my bathroom mirror, and I ask it the same question every morning and every night.

I have a list right here on my desk of all the things I'm doing differently this go-round compared to the last one in 2009 at IM Louisville (when I wasn't really going for a Kona slot). Maybe more, maybe less boring, but I'll post the list in a later entry.

For now, suffice it to say that I'm openly admitting that I am going for a Kona slot. Whether you believe I can get it or not. But if you have any ideas to the question at the top of this post, I'm all ears. Thanks for taking time out of your day to take a glimpse into this bit of an obsession I have. Sorry I have no pictures.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Woman That Puts Up With My Shit - Literally

Every morning, before work and after I've showered, shit and shaved, this is what I wake up to.....

Beautifully prepared by my exceptionally wonderful wife is my coffee to get me going and every piece of nutrition I need to get me through the day at work, along with a charged cellphone, and - if I'm really good! - there might be a coupla extra dollahs in the wallet for my allowance! Angie's constantly in tune with the nutritional needs for my training and always asking questions. "Do you want extra grapes tomorrow? Remember, Tuesdays are a big training day for you! Is this enough chicken for your salad?"

Then there's the pre-work breakfast of cereal with fresh blueberries and strawberries, beautifully wrapped in Saran wrap to keep it fresh in those precious minutes between when she heads out for work and I get up and ready to eat.....

I mean, this is a work of art!

And this is really just a small picture of the support and sacrifices that Angie makes for me. I could take a picture of the clothes that have already been ironed and laid out for me for work. Or the dinners that she prepares perfectly executed to be ready to eat right after I've had my evening workout, recovery drink and shower. How about a picture of Angie taking my core temperature with an anal thermometer after a long run in the heat? Once, I was on a particularly brutal run in the middle of the sweltering heat of summer and, by some miracle, she happened to be around a corner in the middle of nowhere with a bucket of ice and a thermos of cold water. I don't even know how she knew where I was, miles from the house!

She does all the hard work. All I gotta do is concentrate on moving forward, one foot in front of the other. She makes it that simple.

Maybe just one more little story to drive this point home. I honestly don't know how I landed the wife of the century. Our story of how we met isn't something that makes for an unusually great story. But the moment I knew she was the one does......at the risk of telling on myself. Back when we were dating, I stayed overnight at her apartment since I had an extremely early flight out of Atlanta and she was closer to the airport than my place. At the crack of dawn, I eased out of her bed and went to get ready. After the shower I took my usual seat on the pot. All went well til I flushed, at which point the contents of the toilet overflowed, gushed out all over the floor, sinkers became floaters and floaters became swimmers, with me standing on the bathtub ledge as if one of them was going to jump up and smear itself all over me. What to do?! I was running late for my flight and there was no way I could clean this up and make it to the airport on time! I did my best Carl Lewis long jump over the cesspool and crept my way back to the bedroom, where Angie was peacefully enjoying the comfort of a sound sleep. "Sweetie? Hey, sweetie?" I said, waking her up. "Hey, baby. Look, I gotta head out and catch this flight, but I had a little accident in your bathroom. I shit all over the place. I'm really sorry. Well, I gotta go. Love you!" I gave her a kiss and was outta there. Any girl that would stay with me after that was a keeper.

Ironman is tough enough on your own. It must be hell to train for one without the support of your spouse. I am so lucky to have such a loving and supportive wife in Angie and she really is the brains behind this whole operation. I owe her sumpin' fierce! Thanks, Pea, for being the best wife in the whole wide world!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What I Have Noticed

If you ever follow the trithlon forum on www.slowtwitch.com, they do a great writeup every few weeks called "What We Have Noticed." The article is basically a post of the latest gimicks and gadgets that have come out in the multisport world - often spilling out of the world of triathlon and simply just a product that they label as cool.

So, I've noticed a couple cool products lately so I thought I'd do my own quick "What I Have Noticed."

Here we go.....

Larabars. These things are awesome. A great treat in a pinch. Here's the list of ingredients in the Cashew Cookie flavor: Cashews, Dates. That's IT! I'm all about eating super healthy this IM go-round and these things are a new favorite snack of mine.

Next are these little Crystal Light powders you throw in your water bottle to make an instant zero calorie fruity drink. We all know we're supposed to drink water throughout the day, but sometimes I find I just am not excited to guzzle water. These little things are great for throwing in your water bottle and turning your water into a tasty drink you can gulp down and make some headway in your daily hydration plan. As Jillian Michaels suggests, "No calories from drinks." Which I fully agree with. Those calories are all empty. Get your calories from solids and enjoy the feeling of a satisfied stomach for awhile rather than picking up that soda.

This next one I discovered through the good folks at TriFitness. Fitness Coffee! It ain't cheap, and whether or not the green tea, ginseng and other ingredients are doing you any good I dunno, but you can drink this without feeling too guilty of your coffee fetish and it really tastes awesome too! They also have some sort of sex coffee that supposedly gets you all horned up too!

Finally, the good folks at the Salvation Army are doing what they can for the relief effort over in Japan. You can too, by ordering they're wicked cool shirt below, to which all proceeds go to the relief effort in Japan. It says "Salvation Army" in Japanese if you haven't guessed. To order just go to http://www.merchline.com/thesalvationarmy/categorydisplay.4972.c.htm.

A Big Weekend and Upward Dog in the Fields

I put in a killer of a weekend and am feeling great going in to month 2 of Ironman CDA training! Yesterday (Saturday) was a 100 mile ride followed by an 8 mile run. Of note, I've never put in a run this long in a long brick prior to IM training so this was a big day. My goal for the bike was to get some hills in by going to my old standby IM training course between Zebulon and Wake Forest (no hills here in Greenville), and scope out some quieter country roads than what I used to use out there for Ironman CDA 2008 and Ironman Louisville 2009.

Originally, my plan had been to include 3 fifteen mile half iron pace efforts in the bike leg, but because some of the roads were unfamiliar and I was constantly checking my cue sheet I decided to change it to 60 miles easy with the last 40 miles building up to HIM pace.

Lastly, the biggest variable playing into this bike ride was a fierce wind out of the west, sustaining over 20 mph by late morning. Though I keep all kinds of goals and pace markers in my head on every training session, I had allowed myself to scrub all of them as the wind coupled with the hills would put a severe strain on the ride, especially given the mileage as this was to be the first 100 miler of the year.

The ride in the wind was brutal, but I found some great country roads with waterfalls, super hills (I caught myself screaming, "Woohooooooooooo!!!!!" on more than one occasion bombing down some of 'em!), yard salers hogging the roads, and big rocks (We don't have rocks in Greenville. Just swamps. I found myself mesmerized by boulders sticking out of the ground. It's the small things sometimes.)

After 50 miles, my back was starting to hurt a bit. I'll have to monitor whether my handlebars are set too low for this kind of mileage or if maybe I just need to cowboy up and strengthen the lumbars a bit more. But I figured I better take a moment to relieve the strain before I start the 40 mile return effort, so I pulled off into a beautiful field overlooking the spring time green fields of wheat, propped the bike against a telephone pole and did some stretches in the grass. Mostly, I was working the ol' child's pose and the upward dog. At one point, as I was stretching on this lonely middle-of-nowhere field on a country road, a car came by as I was in mid upward dog. Aware of how silly I probably looked in this pose wearing tights and an aero helmet, I can only think how weird the folks in the car thought I was. I think I kinda looked like I was humping that field.

Okay, this guy looks pretty cool doing upward dog, but picture me doing this with the aero helmet on and tights in freakin Deliverance country. Not cool.

But the back felt better and I set off to finish out the ride. The wind had gotten much stronger by then, and even though I was pushing harder I was making no impression on the average pace showing up on my bike computer. No matter, I thought, I had given myself a reprieve from the usual mandatory goal pace inside my head.

The 100 miles took me 5:12, which is about 19.4 mph. That's nowhere near IM KQ pace, but there's still a lot of time and this was the first 100 or more in the hills this season.

Tired as my legs were, I set out on the 8 mile run at a good clip. Just under 7:30 for the first mile. And it got better. By mile 5 I was at a 7:15 average pace. At some point some blooming idiot skipped a stop sign and aimed his Nissan POS right at me. He came within inches, to where I threw up my arms and hollered, "WTF?" I regret saying that, but WTF? He said he didn't see me, but then he didn't even stop at the stop sign so how could he have? Whatever.

I finished the 8 miles in an easy 7:15 pace. Great workout.

This morning was my long run - 15 miles. I'm right at the threshold of real long miles. Up to 15, ahh, that's half iron training. Beyond 15, now we're training for IM. I did the first 10 with the usual Sunday morning 10 miler crowd from Green Springs Park. What a great group we had today! Choo was there - always someone I can count on to run with. He's got Boston in 2 weeks. Blake was there on a short visit from Indiana where he trains with a sponsored running team. He was nice enough to run easy with us today, even though the pace must have been boring for him. Frank was there today! So glad he's able to get some running in these days, as he's been battling some issues with his hind leg.

The 10 miler was glorious as usual. Wisteria is in full bloom and smells great. At the 10 miler mark we were right at 1:12. I didn't stop at the park with the guys. I kept on for home, which was another 5.5 miles away. I felt I was gradually slowing down, but still running at a great pace - under 7:30. By mile 12 I could feel a blister developing on the pad of my left foot. Whatever. But I gotta find a way to keep that from happening between now and IM. The new Asics SkySpeeds were doing marvelous (Grandma, please forgive me. They only come in orange, and there's lots of it on 'em.)

I like to take a moment in the last mile or 2 of my long runs to assess how I feel and how I would feel if I had to run 2 miles further, or 4, or even 10. How much more could you go before the wheels come off? My answer to myself was one more mile, but not sure after that. I was definitely getting tired despite the pace holding steady. I finished the run in 1:52. A 7:13 pace. I'd have settled for 8:00/mi to be honest. I'm guessing this new all-time low in my current weight is making the running feel super easy compared to years previous. Pure elation to be done!

I'm high on life, and loving it out there! 3 months to go! April will be a big month. But this weekend sure is a great start to it!

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Was a Big Month

Because I lost 9 pounds! 69 hours of training and a lot of eating right, eating less, and eating at the right time. I didn't think I would go much under 165, but I landed at 161 on April 1. Tanita says fat percent at 8, which is probably somewhere close.

Very much on schedule if not a bit ahead for getting ready for both White Lake Half and Ironman CDA. Loving it. Pure T loving it!