Monday, April 27, 2009

A good weekend

So I had a good weekend. I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and went for a run in the pool. I haven't done that since I was preparing for IM Arizona (because it's mind-numbingly boring, and no sane person would do it unless they were desperate to rehabilitate on an extremely tight timeline), and I was a little nervous, since I wasn't sure how my knee would hold up. The knee seemed OK, so I ran for two hours (without even losing my mind!). I figure that's equivalent to a 13 mile run at 9 min/mile pace (I actually kept my intensity pretty high, even though I was actually running at a 240 min/mile pace). I was pretty excited when I had finished, because I think I've found (rediscovered, really) a non-destructive way to train for the marathon at the end of my IM. I won't be fast, but maybe I can go into it uninjured, and with a chance of finishing (which is actually what I did at IM Arizona last year- I did no actual running (only pool running) in the two months leading up to the race (though I did run a 10K with my family the week before), and IM Arizona actually went really well. My run was slow, but I finished. It's such a joy to discover a light at the end of the tunnel, or in my case, a way to harness my motivation without tearing myself apart.

After my "run" I drove down to a spring-fed lake south of town and swam about 1800m in my wetsuit, and managed to identify a couple of the issues (even if I haven't totally addressed them yet) that plagued me in my swim at the Lone Star Tri a couple of weeks ago. So I managed to spend 3+ hours of my day immersed in water. After that, I went home and spent a couple of hours fixing some of the piping associated with my pool pump, without which the pool had turned a delightful algal shade of green. Perfect for frogs, but a bit off-putting to sunbathers and houseguests. It is now a beautiful crystalline blue, so my hard work definitely paid off.

Sunday morning I roused myself once again at the crack of dawn, and met some Houston Racing friends for a bike ride. Most were riding 44 miles or less, but a number of us (those training for IMCDA) did more. I ended up riding 85 miles in 25-30 mph winds. It was brutal. Really brutal. At some points, I was in my lowest gear and yet decelerating, wondering how I was going to get back to my car if I couldn't get my bike to go forward. It was great mental-toughness training! The tough part was riding as hard with the wind at my back as I did with the wind to my face, but I did a pretty good job of keeping my intensity high, and finished with an average pace of 18.3 mph, which isn't too shabby for 8 weeks out from the IM.

After my ride, I went back to the lake (with a friend who missed the Saturday swim) and got in another, shorter wetsuit swim. It was a beautiful day, and I had a fantastic weekend! I didn't really put myself to bed at a reasonable hour last night (sometimes it's hard to remember how much more sleep I need with higher training volumes), and today I am groggy and pretty much useless. Note to self: Get some sleep, dummy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


While my running is on hold (indefinitely, it seems), I find that I have some golden opportunities to improve my swimming and cycling. The 1/4 Ironman three weeks ago was a pretty good wake-up call- being 10 minutes slower than last year pretty effectively demonstrates that I have a ways to go to get my fitness level up to where it was for last year's Ironman. So I came out of that race pretty motivated (as illustrated by the relentless destruction I imposed on my knee). The weekend after I did an 80 mile ride in the Texas Hill Country, but was a bit frustrated by not being able to hang with my usual group of friends. Last weekend I rode an 80 mile leg of the MS150 (the first day was canceled), and had a great, challenging ride, but again didn't really hang with my friends. I'm not sure this time if it's that I wouldn't have been able to, or if it's more due to my recently developed aversion to drafting. I just don't draft anymore- it's dangerous and saps that mental edge you need riding alone in triathlons. Needless to say, I've lately been frustrated by my present slowness and apparent loss of fitness, but somehow have just been accepting being slow. All that frustration has been building up and then this week I remembered...

I'm a badass.

And after that everything changed. I've spent the whole year nursing injury and getting back into two sports that I dropped completely last year, and haven't really had my usual outlook on training. I've been letting my lack of fitness be an excuse for a lack of intensity in my training (with the exception of my ill-fated week of crazy running following the 1/4 Ironman). I only really enjoy training when I'm pushing myself, or otherwise impressing myself, and lately I haven't been all that impressive. But I can control that.

This week I've had two fantastic swim workouts, and last night I had my best ride at the park of the year. My metric for cycling fitness has always been my average speed for 15 miles at the picnic loop, dating back to when I first got into triathlon several years ago. My best ever is 22.5 mph with no drafting. This year my averages (that I've bothered to check) have been: 19.8, 20.3, and 20.8.

Last night I remembered who I am. I remembered why I do this. I remembered that there's no reason anyone should pass me. Certainly no reason that I should let them. I averaged 22.2 mph (no drafting). Not so far off of my PR. Maybe the fitness situation isn't so dire, after all. Maybe there is hope.

I am pleased to announce:
I am BACK. It is ON. (and all I need is for my knee to heal before the Ironman)

Status update

OK, a lot has happened since my last post, even aside from the massive passage of time. I ran about three 3-6 mile runs every week up until about three weeks ago. I did a pretty good job of getting consistently better cadence, although it continues to take some effort. My calves got progressively better adapted to the Newtons, to the point that I wasn't really noticing them at all. I've been doing a good job of regularly stretching my calves, and my feet have been getting progressively better. So...

I went home to S.C. three weeks ago to run the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, a race I run with my family every year. I was pretty sure I'd be slow, and was somewhat anxious about how my feet would hold up, so I went into the race with some trepidation. I ended up having a great race- I kept my turnover high, my feet held up nicely, and I only had my worst 10K time ever by about 2 minutes (which isn't so bad, considering how much time off I've taken). A couple of hours after the race, I jumped on a plane back to Houston and got all of my tri stuff together for a quarter-Ironman triathlon the following day in Galveston (probably not the smartest plan, but it was the first big race of the year, and I had lots of friends going, and I couldn't resist). I had a great race! Slow (10 minutes slower than last year), but fun and satisfying. Everything went about as well as could be hoped, and since last year's race was 2 weeks before Ironman Arizona, I didn't expect to be in as good a shape, and didn't feel too bad about this year's performance. I hung out and helped man an aid station, and by the time I headed home I was utterly exhausted (but happy) :).

So I was a little excited. So I followed up my weekend of two raced 10K's (one in the tri) with a week of three 6 mile runs and an 8 miler, on an increasingly painful knee (but my feet weren't hurting a bit!), when my max weekly mileage to that point had been between 9 and 12. So the knee wasn't (and still isn't) happy, and I don't feel very smart. I've taken about a week and half completely off from running (aside from playing softball, which I am loath to give up).

The knee is feeling less painful (I can now walk stairs without visible limping), but still feels a little awkward, so I know I need to rest it. But... I have a 1/2-Ironman in Panama City in two and a half weeks, and an Ironman in eight weeks. So... the plan is to do pool runs for the next week (through next Wednesday), which is what I did leading up to IM Arizona, and which served me well, and then make a game-time decision for the 1/2-Ironman whether or not to run (recognizing that the real goal is the Ironman, and I need to stay/get healthy for that).