Against the wind (and the trains)

October 3, Day 234

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (6 hours, 103 miles)
  2. Longest workout (7 hours)
  3. Most mileage in a week: 163

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Into the dreaded taper we go.

Apparently it’s dreaded.  I’m sort of looking forward to not having to start a workout at 7:15am that I don’t finish until after 2:30pm.  Seems like a legit concern.  However, a lot of IM folks talk about an emotional rollercoaster between not exercising as much as you are used to and tension building up to the race.  I’ll see what it does for me.

Good week last week, although my leg still hasn’t healed fully.  It’s getting there.

Thursday’s 3 hour run was a little different, in that I started it after work.  That was actually a good thing because it got me out in the sunshine and afternoon heat like it will be during the actual event.  It was a 3 hour run which at the pace I am supposed to run at came in at 18.4 miles.  IM training has made everything slower, but that’s because this marathon is a little different than any other I’ve run.

Anyway, I was 14 miles in and headed on the home stretch when this happened:

That’s a train.  A train that is stopped and stretched as far as the eye can see.

Damn it.

I froze a few minutes wondering what the heck to do.  Climb under it?  Yeah, cause you know the moment I get there it will start moving.  Climb over the coupling?  Same issue.  Wait it out?  Every moment I do that cuts into the biggest run on my schedule.

Luckily I was able to run back another way and get picked up.  As far as I know, that train is still sitting there.

Friday night’s 4000m swim was great. Once again I felt fantastic other than the fact 77 minutes of swimming in a pool is mind-numbingly boring.  Physically though, I wasn’t even winded.

Of course, the big one was Sunday, a 6 hour bike ride with a 1 hour transition run.  It was the biggest workout on my schedule and my biggest one ever, really.  I was focused on doing a full century and still having legs to run 6 miles afterwards.  If I could do it, I knew I could do the IM.  See, that would basically account for the bike, I know I can crush the swim, and then if I still have energy to make a 10 minute mile?  Gold.  I  don’t even need to run the whole marathon.  If I have that much in the tank, I know I can cross the finish in 16 hours.

So, while I was nervous, I got out early with a little extra support from Scully:

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It had been threatening thunderstorms all week but happily those stayed away.  I enjoyed the cloud cover through most of the ride which kept it tolerable cool throughout.  All in all it was a perfect day for a ride.  Here are some shots of the Kansas hills I ride through.  You can kind of see the light level shift as I took short nutrition breaks throughout the ride.

Ah, nutrition.  Determined to follow advice and not get behind the calorie curve, and also to try things out before the race, I had an assortment of junk food to help me: gu energy gels, gatorade, honey stinger waffles, potato chips, cheetos, even a smuckers uncrustable.  Basically any calories I could get down and tolerate that would still be relatively portable.  I ate 2700 calories between breakfast, that stuff, and a recovery subway sandwich after I finished.

And I still needed another 2500 to break even.

The ride was tough because of only one factor: the wind.  It was 20-25 mph straight in my face coming back through the last 20 miles.  At one point it actually blew me over with a strong gust as I ate a snack.  Other than that I felt like I had plenty of energy.  I was able to plow through, which again gives me confidence for Louisville if I have to deal with wind.

When I got off the bike to run, I walked a good 100 feet then started to jog.  OMG that hurt for a bit.  My back was not happy after being on a bike that long to be upright and take the pounding of running.  Happily that worked itself out within a few minutes, otherwise I don’t think I could have run.

I had a route planned on a nice trail but ended up having to adjust that on the fly because of a downed tree.  What is up with blockages and me this week?  In any event, I ran the entire hour at my goal pace and could have continued.  I actually felt pretty OK afterwards although really tired.

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Riding home in the backseat with my legs out the window.

Now for the taper, and logistics to get my butt to Louisville.  I’ll try to blog more as I get closer, I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the event gets close.  But we are in the home stretch now.

Cheers!

Embrace your Uniqueness

Apr 5: Day 52

Planned Workouts:

  1. Bike, 5 minutes in Z1, 35 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 150 yd Z1, 6 x (200 yd Z3/15″ rest) 150 yd Z1

Weight: 173


I saw Ghost in the Shell yesterday.  This was an incredibly flawed movie, albeit still entertaining.  I’m not going to try and do a film review (and the internet sighs with relief at this news) but I did hear a line in it that struck me.  I don’t recall it exactly, but I’ll paraphrase: “The path to inner peace is embracing those things that make you unique”.

There’s a lot of stuff that has been going on lately in my life that has caused me some self-doubt.  Most are a result of not following that philosophy.  In triathlon, at home, at work, I find myself troubled because I am trying to conform to someone else’s ideal of what I should be rather than embrace what I am.  Even when there’s no particular reason I should be ashamed of what I am.  I’ll point to a few examples from Triathlon (since that’s the point of this blog):

  • I run funny.  Always have. My knees stay in close to my body and so my legs tend to kick out to the sides.  This has not prevented me from running marathons and triathlons, playing sports, etc, but it has made me self-conscious.  I’ve tried a ton of ways to change my running style to look more “normal”, even though it’s pretty uncomfortable to do so and frankly has never made me any faster or more efficient.
  • I’m formally overweight, so I have stretch marks and loose skin I try to hide.  I also have love handles.  Most of the clothes I wear are chosen to minimize or hide these flaws rather than to accentuate the fact that I look and feel so much better than I did back when I had the extra weight.
  • I’m not fast running OR swimming.  I have great endurance, but I just am not fast (yes, I know this is subjective based on who you compare yourself to).  Rather than embrace my strength to go further than most people and enjoy that part of my athleticism, I think of myself as a lesser athlete because I can’t go as fast as other people.  In fact, much of my training is around getting faster, and if I were to be honest little of it is about making my overall performance better.  It’s mostly so I can feel like I can hang with the fast guys.

It stretches into other non-athletic stuff too, but you get the idea.  It all revolves around downplaying my strengths and overemphasizing my weaknesses.  Sometimes I even see strengths AS weaknesses because they aren’t the strengths I am “supposed” to have.

And that’s utter nonsense.

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I want to be Flawsome when (if) I grow up.

It was great to be reminded that there are things that make me unique, and certainly the specific blend of common, rare and extraordinary things in each of us makes us all unique.  I’ll never really achieve inner peace unless I allow myself to appreciate all of  what I am, no matter how many Ironman races I do.  I’m not talking about ignoring true flaws, we all have those and we all can work to improve them.  But there are things that aren’t even flaws we try to change because they make us feel different and self-conscious.  Those are the things I want to be at peace with.

And if you don’t like my peculiarities, tough shit.  I like yours.

On another front, my bike ride this morning went fine.  This is hopefully the last one I have to do without my PowerTap pedals as the replacements are coming tomorrow.  I’m actually pretty gleeful about that, so I must have made the right call getting them in the first place.  I still have my swim tonight which should go fine, especially sice my chafing issues are pretty much gone and there is no lightning in the forecast.  There is a wind advisory, but I doubt that will shut the natatorium down.

I hope.

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Happy Wednesday folks!  Cheers!

Runnin’ in the rain

Mar 25: Day 41

Planned workout(s) today: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 15 minutes Z2, 10 minutes Z3, 15 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: 172


Had lightning storms go through last night, and this morning I had wind and rain to deal with on my run.

I think a lot of people when you tell them about the events you do (and I’ve done a ton) think the event itself is what makes you tough.  I’ve had some tough events, to be sure.  But honestly?  It’s running a training session in weather like this, when you are cold, tired, and hate every second, and still do it.  THAT’s what makes you tough.

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When I went out this morning it was a light drizzle with 35 degree temps. By the time it got to my Z2 work, it was full on rain, with sideways wind.  On the Z3 stuff, it was pouring, to the point that I had to keep wiping my eyes under my hat to keep seeing where I was going.  During the Z3 I had a tough hill to climb, but I did it, and kept pace, even though part of me was saying the whole time WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF?

See, when you are racing you have something to achieve.  You’ve spent money, you spent time, you have a ton of people around you to inspire you.  It’s really not hard to keep going in that environment.  You have a finish line to achieve, a tangible goal.  This is something that can keep you going even when conditions are tough.

On a bull$%^& training day in March when conditions are terrible?  It’s easy to ask yourself why?  Why am I doing this to myself?  Just stay home!  Crawl in bed!  It would be so much easier.

Except, those are the moments when you truly forge who you are.  Not when you are racing and everything you have been building towards is on the line.  When you are 7 months out and still make it happen, with nothing you can articulate on the line.  That’s the mark of true discipline.

I was glad I found it today even on dead legs, up hills and into wind and cold rain.  I needed to find it.  It gave me reassurance that no matter what, I CAN do this.  I can make it happen.

At the end of the Z3 I had to walk for about a minute.  That’s OK.  I accelerated into Z2 and finished the full workout afterwards.  Came home to pancakes.  Who doesn’t love pancakes at the end of a run?  🙂

I have to push forward, because I found my tattoo.  THIS is what I want on my leg when I am done.  What do you think?

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Another tough day tomorrow.  I’ll push through, and I hope that YOU all push through whatever challenges face you today.  It’s worth it!  YOU are worth it.

Cheers!

Still really windy….

Mar 7: Day 23

Planned workout(s)

Run: 5 minutes Z1, 5 minutes Z2, 5 x (1 minute Z4/2 minutes Z1) 5 minutes Z1

Weight: 173 


Yes, my weight is still 173. No, I am not forgetting to update it.  I have apparently hit what is known as a “plateau”.  These you just sort of have to ride out with my body. Eventually it will give way and I will lose 2-3 pounds quickly, but it can stay here for up to two weeks.

And that’s likely, because we have our 3rd of three family birthdays in 2 weeks coming up Thursday.  Ah well.

Yesterday we had tornados touch down in Kansas, continuing the wind we’ve had since Saturday.  I was really hoping it would knock it off for today’s run, but alas, it was still forecast for significant gusts. We’re talking 25-30mph range.  I decided I’d cheat a little and run home, since the wind has consistently been south to north and my run home is basically northwest and uphill.  Especially with Z4 intervals, I didn’t want to mess with running into the wind.

God had other plans.  Or at least a sense of humor.  Guess what?  Wind coming straight out of the northwest when I headed out from work.

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Again, I’m not talking about a breeze.  I’m talking about knocking you off balance and taking your hat off your head gusts.  The kind where some nut like me might raise his head and scream at the sky “R U SERIOUS WITH THIS CRAP?!?”  NOT that that happened.  More than twice.  >_>  Ugh.  Somehow, I was able to hit my paces for all 5 Z4 strides.  By the end of the run however, I was feeling it.

I spent the evening making a birthday cake, thus the late post.  Tomorrow I hope I have recovered enough to do my double workout: bike in the morning, swim in the evening.  Happily they aren’t too strenuous.

Cheers!