Monthly Archives: October 2012

Expectations vs. Reality

Spoiler alert: Reality wins. Every time.

This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

This is not how I wanted the season to end. Despite having been sick, having probably the wrong wheelset choice, and a probably-cancelled swim, I wanted to race. I was looking forward to racing. I didn’t have any expectations for how well I would do having been sick for a couple of weeks, but I still wanted to see what would happen. But sometimes, life conspires against you and you don’t get the ending you hoped or expected for.
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The End of the Season

Had the most amazing of training scenery this weekend.

It’s hard to say when this season started. Was it right after Marine Corps Marathon last year? Was it before that? Did I ever stop training after IMCDA? In any case, it’s been a long, humbling, trying, and, ultimately, rewarding season. There have been lows, but there have been the highest highs I’ve experienced yet. And now I’m in the final week of the season, tapering for Rev3 FL. Time to screw my head on straight and not let myself down mentally before the race.
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I was at a bon voyage/good luck party for Julia’s trip to NZ for Worlds, and was on the receiving end of some gentle ribbing about how crappily I fuel myself for races and training: namely, Swedish Fish, beer, and soda. While my results speak for themselves, the question was posed as to how much faster I could go with a better fueling/diet strategy. Now…

There would need to be 4 (and possibly a 5th depending on sponsorship) categories: the swedish fish/beer/soda control group, the beer/soda experimental group, the swedish fish experimental group, the none of the above experimental group. Further, to determine statistical significance, we’d need to have a large sample. Unfortunately, we can’t try this year after year on the same course as that will introduce all kinds of confounding variables (age, training load, focus). So to be fair, we’d need to clone me… I’m thinking 200 Jordans randomly assigned to the groups should suffice. Some would say that’s too many Jordans. They’re probably right. There’s also the issue of feeding and housing and training those extra Jordans. Which means that this might need sponsorship. I figure since Red Bull has had a man jump from 24 miles up, creating 250 or Jordans (and introducing the Red Bull experiment group) might be right up their alley.

Some people have other ideas with what to do with 200 Jordans:

All kidding aside, I might try experimental group #1 for a bit to try that out for Florida in two weeks before I shut down for the season.

I’m Much Better at Tactical than Strategic

My coach is going Kona Deep. To say he’s been an inspiration this year would be an understatement. He’s been a confidant and a good friend to me as well. So I’m really excited to see what he can throw down at Kona this year. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to catch him, but I’m going to try and emulate him.

If you’ve followed me on twitter, you’ll often see the hashtag #awesometrain on my training tweets. That’s something Steve started up way back at the beginning of the season (or maybe even earlier). There have been a a few times when I’ve fallen off the awesometrain (including my swimming right now), but it’s a convenient way to brag to the rest of Steve’s athletes about how intensely we’re training. It also has its other advantages, like last week during Applefest when I was contemplating walking. Nobody is allowed to walk in a running race if they want to be on the awesometrain. And that’s how I battled those thoughts. The race wasn’t without mistakes: I had no gels with me (I left them on the floor of my bedroom).

At Florida, I think the goal is to attack the race more strategically, though I’m not sure what that means. Do I risk everything on the bike? Or do I try to run <1:25? Does strategy even matter in a half? Do I just need to go as hard as I can the whole way? Strategy is something really new to me in terms of racing: up until this year, I had podiumed exactly twice (and one of those was in a beer 5K). I don’t want to be strategic just to be strategic and forfeit speed or placing, so maybe it’s too soon.

That’s Mental

Tl;dr? 1:22:53. 13th overall, 2nd AG. 4 minute PR. Redemption.

After a sluggish week of too much not taking care of my body, worrying that my legs were falling apart, and feeling the effects of a very very long season1, I was thrilled to be incapable of falling asleep Friday night until 3 AM. 6:30 rolled around pretty quickly and I packed the car, put out food for Jake the cat, and set out on the road. I had been given the heads up that I-93N might be backed up, and when I saw that it was, I was glad I had a backup plan in place. The rest of the drive was uneventful; when I arrived near Hollis I picked up my pre-race Go Fast breakfast of Swedish Fish, Coke, and Gatorade. Parked my car, waited in line with some other runners to use the portapooper2, and pondered whether I was freaking out the first timers by telling them that the last 3-4 miles were really tough. See, last year at Applefest, I struggled mightily with the hills at the end of the race. Walked quite a bit of that day.
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  1. See, after MCM last year, I didn’t really take much time off aside from donating blood, a couple days of going out, and wandering the city… so I’ve been going for what feels like 2 years straight
  2. The first time I ever used one was at the Leesburg 20K in 2007(?). That’s right, I got through all of high school and college athletics without using one.

A Higher Standard

Bear with me, because I was thinking about this on the middle of my ride today and I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. It all started when I Anyhow, I was watching From Russia With Love (because some days there’s only so much Breaking Bad one can stomach). The movie opens SPOILER ALERT with a scene of chess being played and one of the players is passed a note during the course of played. That got me thinking about the Virginia chess cheating scandal and how it might relate to doping. The main player in question was caught using an electronic guide to help figure out his next move and was beating far higher ranked players. So a relatively open and shut case of cheating (though the scope and length of time of the cheating is in question).

So how does that relate to doping in sport, and, in particular, in triathlon (some of the sourcing for what follows comes from this Slowtwitch thread)? Given the WADA rules, it’s pretty clear where the limits are. The scope of the testing for amateur athletes, however, is a bit less clear. It appears that the individual races themselves (at least when sanctioned by USADA/USATF/USAC/USAT) are often on the hook for providing the funds for testing athletes out of competition testing, I believe, is performed by the USADA sending testers to individual athletes. Again, it’s expensive, even for a limited number of pro athletes. Now one possible solution is to have some athletes tested only at the races, but not all doping occurs right before the race1. And as amateurs, many (extrapolating from my data point of 1) are less cautious about knowing exactly what is on the WADA prohibited substances list (unlike the TSA). While I would be open to getting tested (given that I haven’t knowingly ingested/injected/snorted anything banned). That being said, it’s our duty to know the rules, as it’s our duty to know the course.

And here’s where I ran out of steam, until I saw this article. And holy shit.

Now, you could say this doesn’t matter. After all, there aren’t a lot of amateurs doping, and whether the pros are being tested is sometimes questioned. But it matters because the rules are the rules. We can ignore that there’s a doping problem. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know what makes sense. But I do know doping is cheating. It is dishonest. We need to hold ourselves to high standards.

  1. I recommend The Secret Race by Hamilton and Coyle for some background on doping