March 30, 2009

The Lonely 3000 Yards

My training plan had 3 swims scheduled for last week and two of them were for 3000 yards. Same thing this week too.

Somehow, I got switched to swimming at night after work instead of in the morning. I usually like the morning better because then the swim doesn't hang over my head all day. Plus, when I swim at night I get home late so less family time. Although, I'm not sure that was a factor tonight. When I walked in the 12 year old was screaming at the 14 year old and my wife was the referee. Maybe I should have stayed and swam another 3000.

Usually, at 7 PM when I get to the Y, the pool is crazy with the Y swim team. There are three lanes for lap swimming until 7:30 and then it goes down to one. However, for the last three weeks the team has been on hiatus. So, when I get there, the pool is empty. It's actually nice to not have to battle for an open lane. But the distance is the killer.

One of my training partners has been swimming alone lately too. We've come to call these workouts "The Lonely 3000 Yards." It's a mental chore to get through it but you know if you don't you will feel worse. So, there I was on a Lonely Monday night at the Lonely Y Pool pounding out the Lonely 3000 Yards. I'm pretty sure it's all worth it.

March 29, 2009

It's Not Just About the Race

I always seem to write better when I plan my blog entries and this one is sort of planned. I have an idea of what I want to write about but I didn't create it before I signed on. That seems to be my life anyway, doing things without any plans in mind. Trying to pull it off with no plan in place. Well, that works in some things but it's not a good recipe for your entire life. It is especially not good for completing an Ironman race. Although, I do know a guy that does it. Sort of. He doesn't follow any formalized plan but makes sure he swims 3 times a week, gets in several 100 mile bike rides and runs far enough. He's one of those gifted runners who can turn in a sub 4 hour marathon without really training. But one thing is sure, he doesn't start his training like I did the week of Thanksgiving for a July race. He gets to it when he gets to it.

There is a great article in the Winter 2009 issue of Triathlon Life. This is the publication of the USAT. On page 114, Jeff Matlow writes an artilce titled "Beyond the Pain." It is largely a story about a Tri Coach named Tony that Jeff hired to help him train for triathlon racing and other endurance events. Tony was an ex-military guy so that right there should tell you the kind of coach he was. Jeff said he was tough but also knew when to back off if the training was pushing too hard. One time during training for a marathon and an Ironman, Jeff gets hurt and is told by his doctor to stop running. The doctor allowed him to do pool running but that got boring. So, he did what every bored, tough triathlete does when they are injured and can't run outside. He hit the elliptical machine.

There was one specific training session when Jeff decided to go for 26.2 miles on the elliptical. It took him 3 hours and 28 minutes. If that mind numbing exercise can't prepare you for triathlon when half the time you are battling yourself and the other half the course, then I don't know what will. I've personally been on a few 6+ hour rides that get old after awhile but the elliptical? I can't even last 2 hours on my trainer. But this is precisely the point that Jeff wants to make. It was his coach Tony that prepared him for this. As he said, "he was proud of having pushed forward when every cell in my body tried to convince me to fall back."

The training sessions with Tony taught him more than how to swim, bike and run. All the pain, anguish, and tears accumulated during endurance training eventually add up to something. Yes, it hopefully gets you to the finish line but there is more. As Jeff said "....Triathlon isn't just about the race. Rather, it's about what you learn from the race that you can apply to the rest of your life."

This past Saturday, four of us showed up at the usual parking lot we meet at for our long rides. It was finally warmer than the usual '27 degrees" that it has been all winter but still chilly out and overcast. We're half way to Ironman now but all so tired of waking up at 5:30 and riding in the cold. In any evet, we somehow mounted the bikes and headed out. It warmed up some and the time went quicker than we thought it would. We pulled back into the lot and commented aloud that the ride wasn't that bad and actually enjoyble. But that's what triathlon teaches. When everything seems impossible, it's the strong that continue on.

March 22, 2009

Running with Injuries

As I warmed up for my long run today, which was only supposed to be 1 hour 20 min max, the thoughts slipped into my mind again. The knees, the feet, the heels, the back and the hips are all experiencing nagging injuries. And all I can say that after this year: No More Ironman. Of course, the next sentence out of mouth is usually:

“Well, at least for awhile”

But the thought of not doing it again is really starting to take hold. You see I am trying to make it through this training without seeing any doctors. Swimming and biking are fine but running is a mental chore. I’ve had these knee injuries before and I know what I need to do to prevent them. Or at least lessen their impact. I need to do the exercises my PT taught me to warm the knee up. But between work, training and life in general, the plate is always full. There is no time for anything else. Of course it will force my hand if the injuries worsen and then I’ll tell myself that I told you so.

This morning seemed a little different. I think the warm up actually helped. But the left toes are still giving me that hot nerve like pain. That is a result of my shoes, I think. I run in Saucony Hurricanes. I was a big fan of the 8’s but I am running in the 9’s and they are different. Don’t you hate when the manufacturer does that?! Change the shoes and maybe alleviate the pain. We’ll see.

Anyway, this whole training odyssey is about keeping sane and not letting the intensity and frequency of the workouts get you down. Just don’t look too far ahead in the schedule. It’s just another part of the discipline required to get you through it all.

March 15, 2009

Hurry Spring

Ok, cold weather really does SUCK! Have I said this before? Maybe, on one or two occasions. But it's really testing my patience this year. The last three Winters have been mild so it hasn't been bad in terms of training but this year just don't get me started!

On Saturday, I was on my way to meet my training partners for our scheduled long ride. It was 27 degrees out and I started to question why I was doing this. (Don't worry I am not dropping out! It's all just smack Katie!) I left a nice warm bed with the promise of hot coffee and the morning paper to ride and freeze my fingers and toes off. Plus, not to mention all the clothes you have to pile on. That in itself is getting old. But nonetheless, I trudged on and was not alone in my opinions.

At one point during the ride, we passed another person in their robe walking down their driveway, coffee cup in hand, to pick up the paper. I said to Jim, "I want to be that person. I'm sick of being the freezing one on the bike passing by." He agreed.

It did manage to warm up to about 43 degrees when we started our run. But it wasn't like it was last week when the starting temp was 30 and the ending temp was 60. And you know it's only with the bike that the cold weather sucks. I love to run in the cold. Ok, maybe I don't love it but I tolerate it. Actually, I do like it. But with the bike the issue is time since we are on it so long. Spring can't get here quick enough.

March 05, 2009

Getting Sick

When you're sick not only don't you feel like training but you don't feel like writing either. I got hit with something just short of strep throat. I missed two days of work (which I never do) and an entire week of training. But even now, with this the first week back, I am easing back in. My energy just got really zapped. I couldn't lift my arms.

It all happened after my run on Sunday, February 22. I wasn't feeling great Saturday night but had a 1 hour and 40 minute run scheduled for Sunday. I think I broke the cardinal rule. If it's below the head, don't work out. If it's above it then go ahead. Is that it? Anyway, I had a cough that was burning at the end of it. That should have been my warning sign but I ran anyway. It had been a good week. Long but good so I wanted to finish it with this run. Then I came crawling home. It was the run from Hell. No energy. Shivering. Aches and pains. I also think I was tired from the 41 miles on the bike the day before. I spent the whole day in bed after the run with extreme body aches. Started running a fever and just felt like crap. I went to the doctor on Monday and got anti-biotics and here I am. Better and getting stronger each day. Back to training. Back to writing.

My Ironman fever has cooled. I actually thought of dropping out. But I'm ready to start full tilt again. It's supposed to be 60 this weekend and that's good news. I'm just done with this winter. Done. It's been a long one here in the East. Global warming is not here yet. I can attest to that.