Monthly Archives: June 2012

Scars and stitches bury me

Not much to report on the training front. The weekend was a bit of a wasteland in terms of training: Saturday was the 26×1 relay in the morning, which was awesome, but I had slept like crap the night before so I spent a bit of the day napping and then had plans at night, so I squeezed my bike in and didn’t finish it. Sunday was spent with my grandmother, who at 94, is still awesome. Case in point: my brother and I met her for lunch and were seated at a table for 6. My grandmother says “Looks like we’re all eating double”. The plans I had for Sunday night fell through so I went for my run late in the evening. My stomach didn’t handle things well so I ended up cutting that short. Just really disappointed with myself about the training last week. I’ve decided that the rest of the year is about burying myself1 and seeing just how fast and powerful I can become.

Also excited to get the new freehub after I destroyed my old one (and kept riding it) at Wildflower last year. Tomorrow’s project. Or Thursday. Or this weekend.
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Perhaps perhaps perhaps

I spent yesterday afternoon on my bike on my patio sweating like hell. If instead of Norseman I chose to race Lanzarote, I’d be set. I went through 4 water bottles in an hour and decided I had had enough. The “ride” was stupid but at the same time so nice to suffer. The bike is much quieter after I replaced the chain, and the next project is to replace the freehub body which I think I started fucking up during Wildflower last year but is now so chewed up that I can’t put a new cassette on it.

Still trying to figure out what draws me to Norseman. I think know that some of it is chasing the emotional high I got when I finished my first IM. I don’t know if it’s healthy (chasing that) or even possible, but there’s this fascination with attempting something that I could fail at. I’m not sure how I would feel if I failed (and I think, blindly now, that failure would be not getting a black shirt). It’s a risk, for sure. But on the flip side, there’s this sheer happiness, this sense of fulfillment, this sense of joy, that, while not difficult to get from other aspects of my life, is perhaps sweeter as this is totally dependent on myself (that’s a lot of commas). And maybe Norseman is different: I’d have to rely on a crew to accompany me to Norway, to fuel me throughout the day and go the last 5K with me (this is not to say that the people who traveled with me to my other races are any different, but my reliance on them was secondary to the race support).

With all that being said, I need to focus on this year and continuing to train and get faster. But I understand that this year is a building year (that doesn’t mean no PRs) and I’m really excited for Boston and maybe Norseman next year.

Crazy, stupid, me.

Finally back in the saddle. Feels like forever since I’ve been able to train, but a week it was really only 9 days. I spent last weekend up in NH doing housework at the Vance family compound (it has a flag ergo it is a compound). Dug some drainage, replaced insulation in the ceiling of the storage room (yay too much time on ladders), and anchored the floating dock in the lake.

Coming back, I feel close enough to normal to try and hit everything Steve has in the plan for me. It’s not all roses and sunshine: I bailed a bit early on the track workout today due to feeling a bit crappy. But it’s nice to be back on the awesometrain again.

Work has been a bit slow lately (mainly because we’re trying to figure out when things are going to hit and plan around them), and today I ended up spending time on slowtwitch (for the uninitiated, slowtwitch is the triathlon equivalent of… I’m not sure what… Let’s Run for runners and maybe every other forum that caters to type A personalities? The signal to noise ratio is really really really low). Anyhow, I was spending time on there for some unknown reason (possibly a lack of Euro 2012 games today?) and came across a thread about an old race at Tahoe and in that thread was a mention of Celtman and Norseman. I read the race manual and some past race reports from Norseman. I’ve always wanted to go to Scandinavia (remind me to tell you about the time I almost went to Finland) and reading the race reports gave me chills of the kind I haven’t had since before I had friends run Boston this year. Something about it screams out “You must do this and dive headfirst into it”. It’s crazy and stupid (I’ve already been asked if I’m on crack) and that’s what I’m good at.

Stupid, but necessary?

I commend listening to the following while reading this, because one is happy and the other is just really stupid.

This is not about me taking time off due to the sick. That would be titled, necessary, but smart?

By now, most people have seen that Lance Armstrong is being investigated by the US Anti-Doping Authority (PDF). Barbs have been exchanged between the camps. People have written idiotic apologist screeds1 against the investigation. To be fair, at this point I don’t really care one way or the other whether Lance doped; I have a feeling the truth here is something we’ll never get to. Call it fatigue, call it ennui, whatever. That said, I think it’s important that these things are investigated.

The investigation is not a zero sum game. Nobody wins.

It’s not as though the investigators get anything out of the investigation (other than perhaps some justice, but that justice isn’t for them). It certainly doesn’t help Lance Armstrong or Livestrong or cycling2. It gets everybody’s panties in a twist. So why investigate at all? After all, there’s the claim that Lance has never failed a drug test in over 500 tests. Well, there’s the testimony of at least 10 individuals with knowledge (not sure if they all have first hand knowledge) of the doping (Lance is pissed that these individuals are currently anonymous, though my guess is that they won’t stay that way for long). It will be interesting to see whether these are new individuals testifying or if they are the same ones who testified during the federal investigation. I think there’s a lower bar to be met for arbitration than for a federal investigation. So while the federal investigation may not have advanced past the investigatory stage, the USADA (who were there for at least some, if not all, of the conversations with former cyclists, etc) may feel that there’s enough there to continue investigating. And there’s the rub: if there’s compelling enough evidence that, despite the fact that he’s never failed a drug test, it’s possible he was doping (drug testing, especially in cycling, is a cat and mouse game). Cheating is cheating, and if he did cheat, he should not be revered as a cyclist. Is it necessary to investigate? No, but looking the other way in the face of evidence (compelling evidence? I don’t know) seems a bit morally backward. The truth (whatever it is) is important. We shouldn’t stop pursuing the truth just because it might lead to an ugly outcome. Innocent until found guilty by arbitration and all.

1This isn’t the only thing I’ve seen, and I’m not singling this guy out for being more or less idiotic than anyone else. I just saw it on twitter this morning and… well, yeah.
2I don’t think it impacts triathlon at all, yet. I think the sport is relatively clean. But Lance can’t race World Triathlon Corp (think Ironman, Ironman 70.3, and the 5150 series) races. WTC has ban hammered him from entering their races pending the investigation.

Not happening

Me: i can’t guarantee that i’ll be 100% tomorrow, but 3-4 miles of easy running (not like last friday’s “easy” run) should be ok, right?
Steve: Should be, yeah…as long as you’re not coughing up garbage or having a hard time seeing straight while doing so.
Me: Define “coughing up garbage”
Steve: I’d say anything beyond the color yellow and bordering on green is garbage.

I had my bags all packed up to go running after work (meetings and calls from 11-2 meant no lunch run). And then I got excused from the 11-1 call so I could actually get things done. But then I started coughing and well… shit. It’s not happening. Perfect running weather: spitting rain and cool.

There will be other days to run. There will be other days to run when doing so won’t make me worse.

My own Everests

I forgot to mention in my race report for Quassy how instrumental TriSlide was. Easy off wetsuit meant I didn’t lose a ton of time in T1

I think I’ve written about this before (and in fact already used the title I was going to). Driving back on Memorial Day, I was thinking as I drove through the southern hills of New Hampshire about how I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone else anymore. It was a very freeing thought at the time. Everybody I love and who loves me expects nothing more from me. They are proud when I achieve, but they have no Everests for me to climb. The mountains I summit are my own.
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Hitting the wall

I had forgotten what feeling really sick felt like. What fluey and stiff and sore and sick really felt like. What it felt like to physically get knocked on my ass.

Quassy was a fun one, but it was really wet and cold. And I was out there for a long time. Pre-race, race, and post-race, then the next day out volunteering (and eventually getting rained on again). Wednesday morning I woke up and felt a bit short of breath, Thursday I just felt really rundown and ended up sleeping in. Friday I woke up with a sore throat and as the day wore on, started eating more and more advil. And all of this was happening before the weekend I was really looking forward to.

Saturday was supposed to be just a chill bike ride, brewing some beer that I had won supporting charity (a liver charity no less), and a friend’s birthday party. Of those, I only got to the beer brewing. To be honest, had my weekend schedule not been hectic and had it been possible to reschedule, I probably should have. But I didn’t because my schedule is crazy (between racing and trips up to NH to bask in the amazingness of the area and warmth of my parents’ love and because we had planned this in advance. So I drove down to Weymouth (first time on the South Shore… that’s the South Shore, right?) and we (Critical Mass and I) set about brewing a ridiculously hoppy IPA (still need name ideas… maybe that’ll be the privze for Portland?) — 10 gallons of which will be mine, so I’m going to need some help drinking it. As the day wore on, I felt worse and worse, to the point where I left earlier than I wanted to, knowing that cycling was out of the picture and the party was pretty much also out of the picture. And in the end, they both were. I passed out in my bed, alternating between freezing and sweating for 2 hours, then moved upstairs to the couch to watch the Stanley Cup and Eastern Conference Finals (only after the Devils beat the Kings). All the time just sweating or freezing and never quite comfortable…

Today I was supposed to help Joe from 1BandId at the Marlboro Tri, but spoke with him last night and had to withdraw. I hated letting him down, but he understood how sick I was. Today was more of the same: lying on the couch, showering, and more lying on the couch. Finally got out to spend some time with my brother (all of an hour) and start a new book… but still, I’d rather be ok.

One final thought from Quassy

I had the 38th fastest swim among the men on the day. I had the 14th fastest run. My bike? 58th. I was going to tell my coach “Let’s do more work on the bike” and then realized that between the flood, the hives, the sick and just my own general laziness, I don’t even do all of the work he prescribes me on the bike. So I kept my mouth shut and decided that what I need to say is “Let’s do the work assigned.” Do that, and who knows? Maybe I’ll make up those two minutes and more.

Of the three sports, swimming requires the most technique. You can do all the work in the world, but if your technique sucks, you’ll suck. Once you’ve got the technique, it does require work to maintain and improve your speed. But this all gets broken up into sets and resting and focusing on technique, so typically the mind is pretty focused on what’s going on.

Biking and running are all about putting in the work.

Running is easy. Grab a friend (or don’t), throw on some shoes, and just go. It doesn’t matter what the weather is; all weather is perfect running weather. I’m so excited for my run this weekend that just says “Go to 12 miles. Get out there and run. If you’re feeling saucy, pick up the pace for the last few miles”

On the bike though, at least for me, getting a workout started is much more difficult. Maybe it’s because most of my rides are indoors on the trainer (easier to get consistent training and power, no stoplights, no hills, etc.). But when I see a workout that says, “Just spin for 60 minutes. Nothing too hard” I know I’m going to get really bored. So it’s something I need to work on. I’ll do more riding outside now that the weather is nice and I’ve got an awesome remote base in NH. But the work needs to get done.

I’m a fool, you see

I swear to god, I’ve raced a triathlon before. You just wouldn’t know it from the race this weekend. Totally scatterbrained. I mean, holy shit:

  • Forgot my race belt
  • Left my Garmin 500 on overnight in my car, so it lasted all of 10 miles into the race
  • Left my Garmin 305 in my transition bag, which I left in my car to keep dry
  • Forgot that transition was coming up, so I ended up dismounting with one foot out of my tri shoes and one foot in
  • Carved up the knuckles on every toe and bled through my shoes (happy christening shoes!). This was the first time I med tented myself after a race (but that was only to get neosporin and bandaids)

And despite this all… I had a relatively good race (ended up 4th AG). I say relatively because the Olympic distance race I think draws a less competitive crowd than the half distance race. But I have no idea how it translates into other courses and distances. Compounding the issues? Rainfall of only slightly less than biblical proportions.

With a result like that, and despite not being mentally there, there are good things to take away from this. Breakfast was a Powerbar and a chocolate gel. A really good swim in 23 or so minutes (I think the BlueSeventy Helix and the work I did focusing on body position the past couple of months helped). Didn’t get stuck in the Helix in transition. Lost 7 minutes on the bike (hmmm, maybe I should focus on that… dropping my chain didn’t help). Kept the rubber side down on the bike. On the run I just kept myself in a zone that I could handle and didn’t walk, despite wanting to (it helped that the guy I passed for fourth place was keeping pace behind me). I suppose I could mention I kept the rubber side down on the run too, as I almost wiped out 2 or 3 times near the finish, which had become a mess due to the rain. I raced smart, and though maybe not to my lung/leg busting potential, but hard enough. Of course, I need to thank my sponsors (Rev3, Pearl Izumi, BlueSeventy and PowerBar in particular). Especially Pearl Izumi for their Fly Barrier WxB jacket which kept me dry when I wasn’t racing.

The race reminded me a bit of Timberman back in 2010 (right after I moved to Boston) where the weather was overcast and occasionally rainy and the water was warmer than the air temperature. In both races, I didn’t feel the cold while I was racing, but pretty much the entire time I wasn’t racing, I was shivering. As I was standing around talking to other Rev3 teammates and getting my splits, everyone and his mother told me to go get in my car and turn the heater up full blast. And when I say everyone and his mother, I mean Jill, Julia, Sam, Jamie, and Jamie’s mom. In fact, they said I could either go to my car or they were going to send me to the med tent. So I obviously chose my car. Once warm, the rest of the day became an adventure. Went up to Hartford to visit my sister, her husband and the nephews; we went to TCBY. TCBY is nothing like I remember from when I was a kid, but I mean that in a good way (unless we are talking from a public health perspective). Then a rev3 team dinner, a 4 stop trip to find sour patch kids to pair with wine (NB, SPK can be paired with any type of wine, or any beverage for that matter), and passing out from exhaustion with the TV on. After all of that, I woke up and volunteered all day for the HalfRev race (getting rained on at the very end of the day, again).

This might be the best tshirt, ever.