Monthly Archives: August 2012

Holy Shit

There’s not much to say about this weekend.Probably the best weekend I’ve had in a while. It is amazing what confidence in your talent and ability will do, even when you are undertrained (which probably is the wrong word. It’s not that I’ve undertrained, it’s that I haven’t trained enough to expect to improve a ton). This was the first half where I’ve ever gotten onto the bike thinking, “alright, now it’s time to race for a podium spot”. And though I came up short of the podium, I don’t care. I raced and raced hard. I put everything I had into the effort and never had a really negative thought on the day.

Short story:
33:31 swim
2:33:17 bike
1:27:53 run
18:03 PR
5th AG
12th OA
First in your hearts
#2 in my shorts

Continue reading

No retreat, no regrets.

My entire twitter feed is Lance Armstrong right now. If only he had followed the rules and not been an asshole. OOPS! Nobody wins

5 for 5 so far this week in project all in. Two swims (my first real swims in a long time, two bikes (granted, they were easy), a good quick run on Wednesday. Tomorrow is an easy run as I taper down for Maine. To be clear, this effort can’t stop with Maine. It needs to continue on. I need to live better, sleep better, train better, eat healthier.

Now to be fair to Courtenay, she’s one of the nicest pros out there. And she’s right. But it’s hard to not want to live the way I’ve been living. But if not eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner is what it takes, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

“He who dies with the most experiences, wins”

Happy birthday Oliver. You are missed. You are loved.

I asked a lot of questions of myself in the last post. Maggie suggested I think about going all in. The thought of going all in is frightening.

I am a coward.

Running targets are easy. Qualifying for Boston: a time goal. Qualifying for New York: a time goal. Everything is set in stone. Run a mile in under 5 minutes: a bit less concrete, but nonetheless, a time goal. Everything is dependent on you.

I am a coward.

Qualifying for Kona: finish in the top X in your age group. Qualifying for 70.3 championships: finish in the top X in your age group. Qualifying for World Championships: finish in the top X in your age group. Everything is dependent on who shows up.

I am a coward.

I suppose the first ironman was an attempt at something I didn’t know I could do. But deep down, I knew I would finish. Even then, I did the bare minimum of work to get to the finish.

I am a coward.

Fuck. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of dedication. The reward is uncertain. The reward, even if achieved… what next? I’ve been struggling with what next for 4 years. Happiness hasn’t been elusive. I’ve had moments of ecstasy, of pure joy. I’ve not put in the work to get the rewards in triathlon. I think part of it is because the rewards are so nebulous. Times mean so little. But they seem so much. I have resisted going all in because I might not be able to do it. I might fail spectacularly. I don’t want to be one of those type A people who eat, sleep and breath something. I’d like to be a humble, modest expert in what I do.

What’s the plan? Start small. Start by hitting all of the workouts in a single week. Do it again the next week. Communicate better, more often with everyone, especially my coach. Figure out a race plan. Still have the stretch races (things like Two Oceans), but figure out a schedule next year that gets me closer to New York and closer to being really fast. Figure out what the times I want are. Grow the fuck up. Do the things that others dream of. Do the things others will never get the chance to do.

I was a coward.

Deal me in.

I can’t think of a better day to dedicate myself.

Title stolen from this video

From Latent To Talent

Recent ending to an email from my coach, wherein he said it’s hard to predict how I perform because I train inconsistently:

One thing is for sure however; you have talent and ability. Lots of it. The question is the same as it was after Portland when you were so excited about your race and result: Where do you want to go in the sport? What kind of commitment are you willing to make to get there? Serve and volley.

That’s the first I’ve heard that I have a lot of talent and ability. It’s scary. What do I want? What am I willing to give? These are questions I know I need to answer, but I’m scared. What if what I want is unattainable? Is the journey enough? Is the effort the reward? So many questions…
Continue reading

Running into the ground

This weekend was all about racing hard, training hard, and living better. I had a bad week motivation wise for training, so I was looking forward to having an awesome weekend. And I did.
Continue reading

Get Psyched Mix

So back when I was writing about Portland, I said I had created a getting psyched mix. Continue reading

Findlay and an Honest Pace

Hardest weekend I can remember. Probably the hardest of 2012 for me (which isn’t totally surprising) as it might be the first weekend I got my workouts in. Beyond that, however, was the heat and the sun, which sapped the life out of me both days.

Saturday’s bike ride (which I survived. Glad that happened) was a disaster of dehydration. With no car (for now) I had to ride out to the southwestern burbs. All of the stopping and starting getting outside of Boston sapped my calves and left my low on liquids. At the end of every 50 minute interval it was time to find a gas station and buy more fluids. Got home totally sapped of energy.

Sunday was a 13 miler with 3x2miles at HMP. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but it continued to be incredibly hot and humid. Unlike other hot days (Boston Marathon Sunday, two weeks ago), I brought a water bottle with me. Even so, I was put into difficulty early on and after the first interval never really was able to hit the targets (though I tried). Ended up stopping at a Dunkin 10 miles in, getting some water, and then running home. After all of that, I ended up getting 12.5 miles at a 7:23 pace. Considering last weekend had a 12 miler at a 7:00 pace, I think the fact that I had put in so much work this week is the reason for the difference (though there could easily be other factors involved as well). Hungry and dehydrated was the rule for the night.

Watching the Olympics, two things have caught my attention:

1. Paula Findlay. Holy crap. Alyssa has some interesting thoughts on this. Simon Whitfield said that she shouldn’t have had to apologize, and certainly shouldn’t have had to apologize standing there alone (there’s a lot of history with SQW and TriCanada as Simon’s wins have provided funding). Obviously, there’s a lot of drama going on there. What really struck me was the look on her face as she fought on to finish. It’s quite obvious that she was in a great deal of pain and under a lot of pressure. But she continued on. There’s something beautiful in the pain. There’s something magnificent in putting everything you have into something, even if it doesn’t pan out.

2. An honest pace. I’ve had arguments with a friend about this before. It’s used a lot in the discussions of distance racing (both track and road). An honest pace simply means that for a given race, it’s not about tactics or strategy, but running the fastest race possible. Looking at the men’s 10K and the first heat of the 1500m, the pace wasn’t what you would call honest: it was a slower, tactical pace meant to deliver the the runners with the fastest kick to the finish line first. Same thing goes for the marathon: the runners are feeling each other out, not making any moves to really stretch the field out (which is ridiculous when you think about how fast they are running). I think it’s really something you only see at the elite level, and maybe it’s a matter of nerves: by controlling the pace, nobody is really in danger of going too hard and losing out on all of the glory. I don’t think tactical racing necessarily a bad thing; I just don’t think it translates down to the non-elite/recreational level.

Update: Seems that a dishonest pace is enough to get you kicked out of a race though.

You are the largest obstacle in your way

Start of the session

I had what was maybe a breakthrough workout last night. It’s far too early to say whether it was. But if I can repeat that effort, keep capturing that desire, continue saying fuck the world this is my time, then it will be. I sat outside on the trainer on a stale 70 degree day with no breeze to speak of, stifling humidity, and I just rocked out an hour and 40 minute workout that the past two weeks had just kicked me ass and I hadn’t come close to finishing. But yesterday… I turned on The Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten… and then the 59 Sound… and then Sink or Swim… and just holy shit. I sweat all over my patio. I had sweat pouring out of my shoes (there are draining holes in my tri shoes that are for this purpose; the sweat left a straight line underneath each pedal stroke). It’s still no secret that my running has advanced far faster than swimming or cycling, but despite my crappy cycling training, I haven’t lost anything. If I can carry over last night… I’ll be even faster in all 3. There’s so much more room to advance in cycling.

Yeah, the dark spots are all sweat. Killing it, or getting killed by it.

Maggie asked a couple of weeks ago what it takes to do an Ironman, especially when the goal is not to simply finish. Initially I pointed her to this rather arrogant conversation I had with my dad after my first IM. Like I said, it’s arrogant. But Maggie’s question, if I recall it correctly, was “How do you know that you’ve trained enough? How much training is enough?” And the funny thing is that for your first IM, I don’t think there’s any way to know whether the training or coaching is enough (that is, unless you’ve spent a lot of time training for other events and can tell when you’ve trained enough for anything)… I think eventually you just need to have faith, especially for an endurance event like an IM, that what you’ve put in is enough. And that doesn’t mean blind faith; to some extent you (and if you’re coached, your coach) will know whether you’ve trained enough. At that point, it’s all about managing your own expectations.

At IMAZ, there was one guy at a pre-race coaching talk who asked the coach whether he could finish; he had run the JFK 50 miler, but he had only recently started biking and swimming. My dad commented after the race that some swimmers turned over at the start and did backstroke (though, given my experience at IMCDA I can’t totally fault them, but to my dad, it was amazing given that they knew well in advance the race started with a 2.4 mile swim with a 2h20 cutoff.

This is not to say I’ve not overestimated my own abilities. At the Jax Beach Marathon (a race that I blew up in so spectacularly that I never wrote a race report), I went out with the BQ group despite the fact (given my training and my vDot) that I was fairly certain that I couldn’t maintain that pace for 26.2. In the end, that was true. I hung on for 20 miles and then blew up. The last 6.2 miles were mostly walking. The same thing happened in the JPM Corporate Challenge two or three weeks ago as I tried to keep up with my coworker with whom I have a friendly competition with. In both cases, I was actually ok with what was going on: I knew that my goal was probably out of reach, but it was either go big or go home.

In IM though, the problem is compounded by the fact that the run starts at ~6 hours of work into the day. Yes, you can probably run 4 miles off the bike pretty quickly, even after 112 miles. But the cumulative effects catch up to you over the day, and going out too fast early on (or getting the #pOOPs) will make your day far longer than it should otherwise be. Come race day, you and your coach will know pretty closely as to how quickly you can swim, bike, and run the whole thing.

An old friend, Olwen, told me before IMAZ that racing is just icing on the cake. At the time, I thought that was bullshit. After all, the race was something with which I could say “fuck you” to all the people who (at that point probably) rightly believed that it was something I wouldn’t follow through on. But now, I realize that race day is typically just an afterthought to the training? You put your training in, and the outcome of the race is, well, not certain, but the best possible outcome is pretty much known (NB: this is not always. See my 5K from last week). But you can’t expect an enormous PR on race day if your training doesn’t suggest it.