Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Straggler in the Herd

Nobody likes to play the role of easy prey, but at the Washington Olympic Triathlon yesterday I suppose I was that straggler in the herd that looked like easy pickins. I was having an awful race, and by the time I started the run in the 100-something degree heat my heart rate was through the roof. I couldn't believe I was stopping to walk just a few steps out of T2. I'd run a block or so, and then walk til my heart eased up, then run a little more, and do it all over again. I must have looked a terrible sight as runners constantly were asking me if I was okay, handing me water, shouting something encouraging.

Volunteers are awesome, and working a water station is a difficult task even on a cool day. But one of the water stations was just overwhelmed as runners came from both directions demanding everything the volunteers would throw at them. By the 2nd time I came to this station, they didn't know what to do. The two adults running the station had their hands full, and their kids were splitting their focus between handing out cups of water and perhaps playing with blades of grass.

I asked for some water, took a swig, and downed the rest over my head. It was so cold and refreshing! As I walked by I knew it wasn't enough so I turned around to ask for a second. "Water, please!" "Can I please have some water?" "Water!" "Water!" I finally got a cup, and as I turned around to drink it a girl came running up shouting for water, grasping through the air at imaginary cups offered by imaginary people, and then it happened.......

Her eyes locked on me. As if in slow motion I was lifting this seemingly golden chalice of ice cold glacial water to my lips, and something told her there wasn't another drop in existence. In a half a second she had measured me, assessed I was too weak to fight back, licked her lips, reached her crooked claws out, snatched my cup out of my hand, and poured the entire contents of it down her gullet. As she threw the empty cup down at my feet and ran away, I hollered, "Hey, you b-.....aww, forget it."

I watched her run away as I stood there, shriveling up in the heat next to the crushed paper cup that a few seconds ago had been so precious. Sigh. 4 miles to go.......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Looking Forward to Local Races

It's been one month since my Ironman, and I've done well to take a break from a lifestyle of training without getting too sedentary. I'm not quite in a rhythm yet where I can feel I can be competitive in the local triathlons but I'm gonna try and ramp myself up into some sort of shape that perhaps will turn in some good late season results. I just signed up for a couple races that are around the corner....

The Washington Olympic Tri is this coming Saturday. I'd love to do well here on home soil, but the reality is that my body probably hasn't bounced back to top form yet after the Ironman. And it wouldn't be realistic to harbor too many hopes come race day based off of the lackadaisical training I've been up to. So, this race will be more of a fitness test that I'll more or less just train through.

One week later is the Goldsboro Sprint, which was my first triathlon ever. I've been trying to win this one for the last 4 years or so and all I ever seem to do is come in as the first loser. Maybe this will be my year.

After these races, I intend to hit the training hard again to be ready for the Kiawah Island marathon in December as well as September's Lake Kristi Triathlon.

On a side note, I've taken up coaching! Anne Fisher linked me up with a 19 year old that's interested in taking triathlon by the horns so I'm officially in coach mode with him. This is really exciting for me as it will be fun to help him achieve some early goals in his up and coming triathlon "career" and I'm really excited to see if coaching is something that suits me.

So, happy training everyone! Stay cool out there! Man, is it miserable hot down here in the South!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Happens Next?

Well, it’s been an outstanding post-IM vacation and I can definitely say I’ve let my muscles relax as well as the rules regarding nutrition. In the last two weeks, I’ve allowed myself hot dogs, pizza, beer, ice cream, hamburgers, and fried chicken. For the record, I dove back into the wine – both the crap in glass bottles and the very fancy kind that comes in cardboard – and it didn’t work for me. I believe I’m done with that old habit. I haven’t stepped on a scale since pre-IM and I’m expecting devastating results when I mount that thing again after I get home. My plan is to hit the training hard – perhaps with a little less volume – and get myself in some sort of shape for the late summer races around my home in NC: Washington Oly, Goldsboro Sprint, Lake Kristi, and either the Washington Half Iron or maybe the Outer Banks Marathon in November.

All this down time has given me some wonderful opportunities to gaze at the beautiful mountains and reflect on a great Ironman and ponder when another attempt will be and what else I can do to top this one. As for the first issue, I’ve hardly locked my radar on the next IM but Wales and Brazil are both on my radar at the moment. It would be fun to take this project overseas! And as for take-home improvement ideas, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Don’t need the EFS Liquid Shot on the marathon. I flung that at the first aid station. A couple Gu Roctanes are sufficient.

2. I’m gonna pick a few brains a bit more and try to learn from others. I’m currently discussing the affects of First Endurance Ultragen as a pre-training fuel with a guy I met in CDA. I’m interested to see what tidbits I can pick up from fellow athletes.

3. I made a big mistake not attacking that bike leg of the IM. I was too focused on the marathon. I’ll need to put a plan together to change my approach to IM.

4. This may be crazy, but I want to give it some thought……would it be beneficial to reduce upper body muscle? Is that even possible? I’m not so sure the meat on the arms is helping me much here.

5. That lack of bike focus wasn’t just during the race. Some of those long Saturday rides really took an awful lot of gumption to get myself going. I’m thinking I’m gonna have to throw a lot more creativity at long IM-training rides. Perhaps, long one-way excursions, a day in the mountains, variable courses, personal primes to shoot for…..anything to spice those workouts up.
6. I liked that I added the Sunday evening recovery ride to my repertoire but I think that workout needs more structure to it. A one hour lollygag may not be all that beneficial.

7. Some of my metabolic affect workouts lacked intensity. I’ll try and beef those up.

8. I learned a lot and really enjoyed my marathon training plan, but the bulk of the mileage was at marathon pace or slightly below. A little more specificity might yield improvements.

9. Most of those training sessions this season felt great. And that’s good, but I don’t think I put myself in the hurt locker near enough. I need to find ways to be crueler to myself and deepen the pain threshold.

10. It’s time to get a power meter for the bike. Hopefully by Christmas.

11. Gotta get back to work on the hydration setup on the bike. I went old school at this IM with the Profile aero bottle up front and a standard down tube bottle, but there’s got to be a way to get the horizontally mounted bottle on the aero bars. In fact, an overall look at bike setup improvements is in order. Anything short of getting a Trek Speed Concept should be considered I’m thinking.

12. I really got into using my 2XU compression socks in the latter weeks of training for IM, and I used them in the marathon as well. I’d like to learn more about this technology, which socks work the best, how much compression is optimal, and whether the socks are better than the sleeves. I have plenty of theories on all this but I need more experience.

13. Never tried Red Bull in a race. Does it really boost you up that much?

14. I’m thinking about getting my USAT coaching license. I don’t know how that will help, and I don’t know if anybody would care to be coached by someone like me. Just a thought.

For now, that’s all the low hanging fruit I’ve managed to pick off the opportunity tree. I’m certainly open to suggestions. Maybe you’ve followed my training or know me well enough to see something I’m doing wrong or could improve on. I would absolutely LOVE to hear it if you have any suggestions. Thanks for reading!