Monday, August 31, 2009

Back in the saddle

Well, I had a pretty good weekend! I ran 20 miles on Saturday and actually felt pretty good! Since I hadn't run long the previous weekend, I started the run with no intentions whatsoever of running 20; I was going to be happy with anything greater than 15 miles. However, the company was good, the temperature was fairly moderate, and my feet felt better than they have (running long) in months. I'm not sure exactly to what to attribute the last factor: to the two weeks off I'd taken nearly completely off from running, or to a last-minute shoe substitution I made nearly immediately after putting on my usual "long-run" shoes. I was prescribed these shoes when I went to buy a new pair of Newtons, and came away with a pair of shoes that promised to "correct" my form (I'm convinced that my form over the last many months has been subtly altered to try to minimize the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, and does not necessarily represent my natural body mechanics). Anyway, I'd been running my long runs in those and all of my weekly runs in the Newtons, still focusing in both pairs on mid/forefoot striking. When I put my "long run" shoes on early Saturday morning, the near instant plantar pain I felt caused me to rip those off and to don a pair of neutral trainers (the model I'd been running in for the past 3 years), which in this case I'd been using for my "walking around" shoes. Anyway, I ran 20, had a solid kick at the end over the last 4 or 5 miles, and finished the run feeling pretty great!

On Sunday, I went to Galveston for a 100 mile bicycle ride organized by Houston Racing. I've been trying out a behind-the-saddle water bottle holder on my bike ever since the retainer nuts on my downtube broke (that's what I get for removing my water bottle holder to improve aerodynamics for a sprint race), and these holders are notorious for ejecting bottles when riding on bumpy roads. True to form, my bottle of Infinit was ejected at about mile 5 of the ride, and I was left to complete the ride with a Camelbak full of water, and no nutrition or electrolytes. I got through the first 3 hours of the ride with a couple of emergency Gu's I had stuck in my jersey, and then tried to make up the difference with Gatorade purchased from a local store. At around mile 75 I crashed completely. It was ridiculously hot out, and I was out of calories to burn, and subsequently out of will to continue. I wasn't excessively fatigued, but I couldn't think and I completely stopped caring. I just wanted to pull over and curl up in some shade. I tried to get myself to sing a song to take my mind off of things (this is typically a pretty effective trick), but couldn't think of any songs. I somehow persevered to the gas station at mile 88, where I downed a Mountain Dew (nectar of the gods!) and a couple of bottles of Gatorade. It was a much longer stop than I would have preferred, but when I got back on the bike I had gotten my spirit back, and I finished the ride feeling relatively peppy. I was pretty much destroyed for the rest of the day, but I was pretty satisfied with my weekend of training.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on the run

I ran two loops of Memorial Park last night (~6 miles). I kept my arm pretty stiff, so that there was virtually no shoulder rotation on my recovering shoulder. I still have a painful cramp (or stitch, or something) in my back that delivers stabbing pain when I take a full breath or cough or sneeze, and last night by the time I went to bed it was nearly immobilizing. I get this from time to time from overdoing a swim (I think it's due to excessive tightness in my right "lat"), but the stretch I usually do to get rid of it involves a shoulder contortion I'm not able to do in my current condition. Anyway...

The run was slow. I took the first loop easy, but I ran the second loop pretty hard (as hard as I could without really pumping my arms), and that loop still took me 20:40. That's disappointingly slower than the times I'd been hitting a couple of weeks ago, but maybe a little more recovery time will get me back where I need to be.

At least I can run. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

National Championship Qualifier!!

I realized today that I have qualified for the Halfmax National Championship (half-iron distance), and, fortuitously enough, I was already entered in the Redman 1/2 Ironman. It's the same race, but the "qualifiers" are competing for spots on the national team. So on September 19, I will be in Oklahoma City competing for a spot on Team USA to compete in the 2010 Long Course Triathlon World Championships in Immenstadt, Germany. I don't have any crazy aspirations of actually going to the World Championships, or any corresponding delusions of being that good, but just competing for a spot will be pretty cool! Hopefully by then my shoulder will be working...


I had a relatively eventful week last week, highlighted by running my bike into a tree at 24 mph Tuesday evening at Memorial Park. I was trying to squeeze in a quick bike ride before swim practice, so I only had 30 minutes to ride, and since I had an olympic-distance triathlon scheduled for Saturday, this had to be my last hard ride of the week. I was determined to make the most of it, and really hammer (for the half hour I was out there). I was having a fantastic ride, averaging well over 23 mph, and I was feeling pretty excited about the weekend's upcoming race. I was heading into a 90 degree turn at 24 mph (it could be argued that that's a reckless speed for a turn), when a cyclist in front of me abruptly slowed from about my speed to nearly a stop. I slammed on the rear brake, and my rear wheel immediately locked and started to slide, so I released the brake, realized that there was no way I was going to make the turn, and looked for somewhere else to go. The turn was lined with vertical pylons that would have mangled me and my bike if I'd gone down, so I aimed between two pylons and managed to successfully exit the pavement before ramming my right shoulder directly into a tree.
I lay on my back in shock for a couple of minutes, then got back on my bike (the front end was mangled, but there was no other visible damage) and rode back to my car. My shoulder was really swollen and virtually non-functional, but a quick trip to the ER (yep, I was lucky) confirmed that I had no broken bones (lucky again), so I spent the rest of the week (and this) with my arm in a sling hoping that my shoulder will start functioning again soon. I'm extremely lucky to have hit the tree with my shoulder and not my head (I was in aero position, so I charged into the tree head-first), and not to have broken any bones.
Friday night I spent about an hour trying to see if I could still ride my bike with my bum shoulder, but a little experimentation proved that it would be unwise, so I attended Saturday's triathlon as a spectator. It was great to see all of my friends, but it was really tough to miss out on a race I had been anticipating so much.
Today I got my bike back from the shop (the front end repair required special parts that I don't carry in my personal shop), so now I'm ready to get back on the horse as soon as my body will let me. I did a little one-armed swimming on Monday, and one bright spot is that I definitely have an opportunity to strengthen up my weak side while my dominant arm is out of commission.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Well, since my last post I...

rode 15 miles at the picnic loop at a PR 22.5 mph pace...

and then went on vacation for a week in NC, where I ran only twice, not fast, swam once in the ocean (enough to get massive armpit chafing and to not want to do it again), and did basically nothing else (training-related). No long run, nothing.

On Sunday, back in Houston, I rode 56 miles in hills, and had some weird quad soreness and felt generally fatigued. I was pretty disappointed with how slow I was until the last 15 miles of the ride, when I somehow found another gear and actually attacked the hills. I finished up the ride actually pretty happy with myself for persevering and managing to eke out some speed.

This week I've been trying to get back into some sort of routine, lest my fitness go spiraling down the drain. I managed to go to a masters swim practice on Tuesday for the first time in a long time, and I ran 6 hard miles at the park yesterday. It had been a tough week at the office, and I was running angry- I'm pretty sure I ran a 5K PR on the last half of that run. This morning I (barely) resisted the urge to sleep in and did a brick at the park, at which my legs were generally pretty fatigued and uncooperative. I'm looking forward to getting back that sense of satisfaction that comes with pushing hard and being fast...