Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So far

Well first off, welcome to taper, IMWI athletes, and hella job getting here and well done and good on ya. Especially those in the Madison or Minneapolis areas this last weekend - what a craptacular weather weekend for your last long ride or run. But, you never know what race day has in store, so more power to you.

Meanwhile, I'm just over 3 weeks away from my A, B, and C race of the year. Whahoo! Crazy to have your whole season wrapped up into a single race. No primer races, no warm ups. Just one shot yo get all wrapped up in a race day and enjoy the craziness. Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to address where I am so far- what's working, and what still needs work.

What's working:

• My training has been worthwhile, useful, and consistent since mid July, when I was given the go-ahead with the whole knee thing. As I look back on it, I think I was (naturally) a shade burned out after Ironman, and besides physically not being ready, I don't think mentally I was in the place where training for a May marathon was a good idea. So - lesson learned. The perfect storm of interruptions this spring and early summer, then - getting the house ready to sell, selling, finding and buying, moving; the injury; the baby - all of it was probably the universe telling me to slow down, re-evaluate, have some perspective. I didn't listen, so the injury worsened to the point where I DNC'd two races this year. By the time I was physically ready to go in mid July, I think I was mentally restless too, and ready to fully engage back in the game.

• My knee: It's hard to believe that just some physical therapy did the trick, or maybe just having a doctor's prescription to back off the high mileage and intensity for several weeks put me in the right from of mind, but whatever - spending a lot of time in slow, base-like training while my knee healed up has allowed me to focus on speed and intensity the last several weeks with no ill effects at all for the knee. Last week I had my last PT and was given a clean bill, and I've put my legs through whatever I can find, now - hill workouts, speed workouts, whatever. The only time it bothers me is usually in the car, when it's bent for a long time. So happy to not be physically restrained anymore. Besides the obvious that injury prevents optimum activity, it messes with your head - I was always afraid of the next half mile. I'm so damn glad to have all of that behind me.

• Speed and power: I've never, not even my first season in 2004, trained for a Sprint triathlon before. It's always been a kind of stepping stone, a necessary preview, to get to that season's real deal - Olympic distance or better. So, I've never taken the Sprint distance seriously before. I've found this summer that it's really fun to be so focused on speed workouts - it's made my time in the pool, where I'm otherwise so often bored as hell - actually kind of fun. Last week I had speed intervals on the bike that almost made me puke. It's a whole different approach than Ironman training, where you just go slow and long for weeks on end to build up the right kind of endurance. It's kind of refreshing, and I hope it also leads to some improvements in general - my average mph has steadily climbed through my normal rides throughout the summer, and as you know my swim times have dramatically improved. I can't seem to get any faster on the run, though...I don't know what the deal is there. I don't think I'm much faster than I was 3 years ago. More efficient, yes, and probably a better distance runner - but for sheer speed, I'm still slow as hell. Alas. But - I've already been considering ways that I'll take what I'm doing now and interject versions of it into my 70.3 and Ironman training.

• Discipline: This has always been my biggest ace - whatever I lack naturally that won't ever see me on the podium, at least it can't be said about me that I lack discipline, initiative, and drive. I beat the rain last Saturday because I was on my bike by 6 am, and Sunday morning I was up at 7:00 and running 8 miles in the downpour. Necessary for Ironman training, yes...but for a Sprint? There's something to not hiding from the elements when they present themselves for battle, and I was ready to take them on, as I have before and I will again.

What needs improvement:

• Endurance: This might be part of my problem with not getting much faster on the run - my legs get tired out. Of course, I haven't been training for endurance this summer at all, but I can feel it in the water and the bike - I can go intense, but I burn a lot of matches in a hurry. The trick for me will, in the coming years, to continue to develop endurance but also continue to develop speed and power. I don't want to just survive out there.

• Flexibility: Used to be, I didn't train over my lunch hour much, and not after dinner much - I liked to get my workouts in anytime after 4:00 on weekdays, and early in the morning on weekends. This had the added benefit of being able to nutritionally plan just so. I've been forced into swimming over the lunch hour - which has been a solid adjustment, and my work schedule has been so nuts lately (and it's been so damn hot) that I've had lots of evening workouts. But where I'm going with this is: I'm about to have a kid that's going to hijack all my waking hours. Of course, I'm totally looking forward to it...but I'll have to get better at being that guy who guys running at 4:00 in the morning, or 10:00 at night, if that's the nature of the situation...even if I'm already tired.

• Mental toughness: Man, when I get to suffering on the run, it's like I undergo some kind of chemical reaction that just makes me a big fat nancy. I'm fired up to get out there, I'm fired up for that first mile or three or five or whatever, but when it starts to hurt, when my lungs start to burn, I start to really slow down. I don't want to - my mind is ready to push - but there's somewhere between my head and my legs where the tired legs are winning out. I have to learn to overcome that, so that I can push even when it gets really painful. I don't want to be able to just endure it - have a great first first 16 miles of a marathon only at the expense of total crap for the last 10. I have to learn to be strong all the time.

So that's me. This weekend I have an ugly 3x bike/run brick set, and later this week I have a pseudo race rehearsal in the water. Hell week it's not, but it is ramping up to the most intense workouts yet in preparation for my 9/15 race. Oh, and I got my confirmation thingy and meeting agendas for volunteering at Ironman, so I'll be fired up to see everybody out there, and if you're 14 hours + I'll even be in the finish chute for you! Whahoo!


Jason said...

Good post, good outlook and I wish you good luck.

TZilla said...

I think there is something to be said about your mental toughness. Being able to step back after all the hoopla this year when your injury set in, come up with a plan of action and then put it into motion to where you are now is phenomenal. It would have been so easy to just scrap this entire year due to the injury but no, you've dug deep and are gonna close it out with a vegence. That's mental toughness if I've ever seen it.

xt4 said...

Holla TZ!

And thanks Jason - all the way from down under! Continued success to you as you become Ironman -

Pharmie said...

It's so good to have you back. Can't wait for the sole tri race report of the year. You know it'll be a good one. I'll have to look for you at IM finish, assuming I make it :) There's no way I'll be sub 14, so keep your eyes peeled!

Erin said...

Ditto what Tzilla and Pharmie said. Nice work...and I, too, will hopefully be seeing you in the finish chute!