Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:42

Bikram Yoga -- The Great Equalizer

[caption id="attachment_6798" align="alignright" width="173"]bikramyoga_triathlon_ironman_endurancesports Source: Bikram Yoga Musings[/caption] Bikram yoga has long been on my radar.  For years I was doing yoga at a studio and loved.  My first instructor, Tao, was an 85-year-old woman who could bend like a pretzel and always took time out to use me as a guinea pig for the class to see.  I was never so flexible and then I stopped going.  I had a hankering to get back to the studio and started doing it again with a young instructor who seemed to focus her poses on strength building.  I always walked out of that class feeling as if I just spent and hour lifting weights.  I was much leaner and stronger and then I stopped going. When endurance sports and triathlon entered my life I tried to fit yoga in.  It was a great way to relax and get away from the grind of swimming, biking and running. In addition to that it helped me stay grounded with my surroundings and I needed that since I had just moved 1600 miles to Dallas from New York and knew nobody.  Then triathlon started to take more hours and thus I stopped going to yoga. Now that my first season of 140.6 mile races is over I want to get back to it.  Last week I chose to go to Bikram Yoga (finally!) and was sort of persuaded by Michelle to join her.  Our Twitter conversation went something like this:
  • Me: Hey @ultradrum are you going to yoga tomorrow?
  • Michelle:  Yes.  Are you going?  Does 8:30 or 10:15 work for you?
See what she did there.  She baited the hook with are you going and then dropped the hammer by giving me a time to choose from.  I chose the 8:30a class figuring that I could get a liquid breakfast in and then a decent recovery shake afterwards and have the rest of the day to rest my aching muscles.  I knew it was going to be hot but I was in good shape......I just did an Ironman. I spent all day Thursday drinking water, water and more water.  I was so nervous about dehydrating in that yoga room.  See, Bikram Yoga is done in a room that is above 100* (our room that day was 111*) and I am a person who sweats.  I was also nervous because of the simple fact that I was coming off of an Ironman and my flexibility was limited but I am also competitive so not pushing my poses never dawned on me.  I figured I would go to this class and do all the poses no matter what. Finally Friday morning came and I was headed to the studio more nervous than I have ever been, and that is not stretching the truth.  I was scared about what might happen in this class.  This was a great unknown.  This was an opportunity for me to try something new and doing something new is always stressful.  When I walked into the studio my fears dissipated but only because my sweat started pouring down my face.  I was just standing there......oh boy! Throughout the class I recalled all the poses we were doing.  I was having fun and it was just like riding a bike.  I was not nearly as flexible as I had been with Tao and I was not as strong as I had been in my second go round with yoga but I felt good.  That was until about 45-50 minutes into the class.  The heavy cotton t-shirt I was wearing was a solid grey without a dry spot to be found.  My mat had a pool of sweat in it and the towel I was using looked as if it had just been dropped in the ocean.  There was sweat everywhere and that is when I finally had to stop. I had to sit down and bow out for a pose or two.  As much as I tried to continue my body, and more specifically my light-headedness, wouldn't allow me to continue.  I drank water and I drank an electrolyte filled water bottle but I just could not get going.  Finally the floor poses and I figured I could get back to it and I tried but I was only able to do one of the two pose sets.  I was wiped out.  Bikram Yoga had handed me my ass on a platter and yet I LOVED IT. When class was over I got dressed and went and got a green tea and a recovery shake.  Within a few minutes I felt hydrated and ready to head home but with a new plan of attack for this off-season and upcoming Ironman Texas training cycle.  Bikram Yoga was going to be a part of what I did to get to the finish line in The Woodlands in my already determined goal time.  Yoga will help me get flexible which will help with cadence on the bike and on the run.  Yoga will help me acclimate to the high temps in Texas in May which will help with a strong race.  Yoga will help with clearing my mind and focusing on the goal at hand which will come in handy when I am running the marathon. Like The Sufferfest.......Bikram Yoga kicked my ass that day so that I can kick the race courses ass tomorrow.

Do You Do Bikram Yoga?  Got Any Tips And Tricks.

What Are You Changing To Your Off-Season Workouts To Make 2013 Better Than 2012?

 
Published in Train
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 11:44

Ironman Arizona In Pictures

Ironman Arizona is over a week old and you may or may not have read the race report.  Maybe you skipped that and read the comparison to Ironman Texas.  Maybe you just didn't want to read so I don't leave you out I put together a video montage from pictures taken by friends, family and a paid service.  Enjoy.

Published in Race Reports
Friday, 09 November 2012 20:35

Ironman Arizona 2012 Goals

Ironman Arizona is officially in the T-Minus single digit days.  9 days until the cannon goes off and I embark on my second Ironman race of this year.  Leading up to taper week I was nothing but exhausted and hungry and just wanted to get the race over with.  Now that I am in my taper (check out my taper tips here) I have been able to put my game face on as my body has been healing and getting plenty of rest while fine tuning the last bit of race prep.  That last bit is nothing more than reminding my legs that there is a race coming up and they need to be prepared. As with any race I reflect on the training and how well/poor it has gone before determining what my goals should be.  I then toy with the idea of whether or not I want to let the world in on my thoughts.  Is letting my goals out of the bag a way to set myself up for failure if I don't reach them?  Is it a way for me to gauge what I have done in training so that I can prepare for the next race?  Is it a way for me to motivate myself when I am at Mile 100 of the bike or Mile 18 of the run?  The answer is yes to all of these questions.  I enjoy putting a goal out there for everybody to read because it gives me motivation to chase those numbers.  Simultaneously it gives me the opportunity to gauge how well the training went and thus what needs to be tweaked for the next event, because there will be a next event. Ironman Arizona presents a few intriguing scenarios for me.  The first is that this swim will be wetsuit legal, where as Ironman Texas was not.  The other scenario is that the bike is 3 loops of approximately 37 miles.  IMTX was one large 112 mile loop and I enjoyed that immensely as the sites and the sounds were different throughout the race.  Having 3 loops on the run at IMTX was great because I knew where I was the entire time and I am hoping the same holds true for the bike here at IMAZ.  The run is 3 loops at IMAZ and I enjoyed that previously so hopefully I can enjoy that again this time around. Swim Goals: I swam IMTX in 1:36 without a wetsuit so I have that working for me.  In addition to that I have been doing a minimum of a 1 mile swim, and the majority of the time a 2+ mile swim in the open water every Friday for the past two months. That has given me some terrific data to dissect and analyze and so I feel comfortable saying that my swim time will fall somewhere in the 1:25-1:28 range. I have been swimming the 2+ miles in the range of 1:11-1:15 but you have to throw in water temp (currently holding at 68*) and about 2,000 of my closest friends.  The one benefit I have going for me is that we are doing a counter-clockwise swim and I breathe to my left so finding the buoys shouldn't be too difficult outside of the fact that we swim directly into the sun when we start. Bike Goals: For me this is where I should be able to make up some time as I am more familiar with my nutrition and what I need to get through the 112 miles.  If you recall I consumed so much liquid on the bike at IMTX that I wound up throwing up twice.  I have dialed in my nutrition and adjusted my bike to the point that I will have 2 water bottles filled with 440 calories each (880 total), 3 HoneyStingers (1 at the start and then every two hours - 480 calories) and 1 bottle of EFS Liquid Shot in the Kona-Mocha flavor (400 calories.)  This will provide me with 1,760 calories and I will take water off the course every 10 miles or so to stay hydrated. With a goal time of 5:50-5:55 (18.9mph - 19.2mph) I would have consumed just under 300 calories per hour and that should be more than enough to avoid any issues whether they be over-consuming or bonking.  This goal time is just slightly faster than IMTX which I finished in 6:05 or 18.4 mph.  The course at Arizona has an elevation gain of approximately 1500 feet while Texas was at 1600 feet.  Very comparable. Run Goals: This is where I think I have made the most improvement and the majority of that is mental.  Going into Texas I was concerned about running the marathon and the pain and a lot of that had to do with the marathon I had endured at Las Vegas in December.  I hurt a lot after the Las Vegas marathon and I think that was still on my mind when I was in The Woodlands.  I ran a respectable 4:09 at Texas which is 20 minutes faster than my first marathon but was definitely not what I believe I am capable of. I have knocked out 20 and 22 miles runs during this training cycle at an easy 9:00/mi pace.  When I say easy I don't mean that it was just something I did, but it was more of a pace that did not knock me over and did not make me feel as if I was going to pass out.  I believe that my endurance and my mental capacity at this point can have me running a 3:50 marathon.  If I cross the line anywhere between 3:50 and 3:55 I will be happy with that outcome.  A 3:50 marathon is a 19 minute improvement and I have a much better plan than I did at Texas. My plan is to walk for 10 seconds at every other aid station starting at Mile 2.  This will cut down on the time I spend walking which I did quite a bit of at Texas.  I also plan to not carry a hand-held water bottle and instead take water off the course.  That handheld felt like an anchor when I was on the 2nd loop and wanted to throw it in the garbage.  This time I will have a flask of EFS Liquid Shot in my shorts pocket along with 2 HoneyStingers in my jersey top.  That will provide me with 720 calories and just under 240 calories per hour. When I tally up all these times I am looking at a finish time of: 11:05-11:18 then throw in 10 minutes of transition and the final goal time is 11:15-11:28 I cannot tell you how ecstatic I would be with that time but even more so if it is 11:18.  The race is on November 18th (11/18) and my father's birthday is November 18th.  If I am near the finish line around 11:15 I will wait and cross at 11:18 in honor of my Dad. I will be sporting bib #1572 if you care to spend some time on Ironman.com tracking my progress through the dessert.  Of course, as Karen Whitlock pointed out 1572 is a 12 surrounded by another 12 (5+7) and that just happens to be my birthday as well (12/12.)  As some might say.....that's a whole lotta karma. So there you have it folks.  Thanks for reading and if you are racing IMAZ or plan to be out there let me know so we can try to get together.
Published in Race
Monday, 19 November 2012 20:55

Ironman Arizona 2012 Race Report

Ironman Arizona 2012 is the last triathlon of the season and I went out with a BANG.  This race report came very close to being the shortest race report for an Ironman race but fortunately (or unfortunately for you) I have a lot more to say since there was and ending that I can speak of.  In case you don't want to go through the process of reading every word just jump to the bike section and you can read why this was very close to being a short post.  If you care to read it all than let's jump right in together: Thursday:  On Thursday I flew into Phoenix ahead of Karen because she had to work.  From the airport I drove straight to the expo to go through the athlete check-in and get all of that over with before heading up to Emily's house.  Emily was kind enough to allow Karen and I to stay at her house during this race weekend and I am so grateful to her for doing so.  We picked up dinner and then I headed back to the airport to pick up Karen and prepare for a rather easy Friday. Friday:  Lots of nothing going on.  Did the rounds of the expo for Karen to see and spent the day off of my feet as much as possible.  Friday night is the big dinner night for a race on Sunday and I ate and ate and ate.  Felt good though. Saturday:   Headed down to the transition area early so that Karen could begin her 22 mile run since she has the Dallas Marathon coming up.  At first I was going to go to sleep in the car and then do the practice swim and a quick 30 minute bike and 30 minute run.  I was antsy so I figured I would ride and run then swim.  Thankfully I did as I realized as I was heading to the swim that I did not bring my bike and run gear bags and they had to be checked in that day.  After getting that all done we headed to the tattoo parlor to talk to the artist about sketching out the tattoo (I will be getting it today so stay tuned for pictures.) Sunday:  Race day.  It all starts with a 3:30am wake up followed soon by a cup of coffee, a bowl of granola and toast with peanut butter, banana and honey.  Gather up whatever I need for morning clothes and into the car we went.  Off to the race site at 4:44am (a node to Emily) and we got down to transition after fighting with the GPS for a few minutes.  Walking down to the race site I had a calm come over me.  Maybe it was experience or just that I knew I was ready but either way there were no butterflies. I got all my gear checked over and then put my nutrition on my bike along with pumping up my tires.  Body marked and porto-potty time.  After that I ran into Troy and Michelle and what a terrific sight.  We all stayed with each other until it was time to jump in the lake, and here the race report begins: Swim:  Michelle and I jumped in the lake together with about 7 minutes to go before the cannon.  We found a surfboard and hung onto it.  While handing on I dropped my face into the water several times and kept kicking to keep my body warm.  The water temp was 64* and while I made it much colder in my mind before jumping in the temperatures  still ran a chill down my spine. With about 1 minute to go until the start I told Michelle that we needed to start swimming so that we were moving and would be able to just go without stopping.  As we were swimming the cannon went off and we said our good lucks and went.  The start at IMAZ is not as crazy as I expected.  I sighted on every stroke to start to make sure I wasn't swimming on top of people and to also help me find a line.  After the first 200 meters I found an opening and went.  I was not touched after that, nor did I touch anybody.  That is until the first turn buoy, then second turn buoy which are very close together.  People warned about the sun as you would be swimming into it but I never had any issues on this section of the swim. After the second turn I had smooth sailing and picked up the pace.  I was settling into a groove when the leg cramps started to hit.  My calf muscles would get very cramped and I had to swim while flexing my feet.  It was after the 4th or 5th cramp that I decided to kick just a bit more to keep my legs from tightening up again.  Then before I knew it I saw the last turn buoy and was headed toward the stairs.  When I got to the stairs my legs were a bit fatigued and I almost slipped climbing the stairs and that is when the lady in front of me went down.  Feeling so bad for her I just stepped over her and kept on moving.  Found the wetsuit strippers and off to grab my bag and into the changing tent. T1:  I pride myself on getting through the transition areas quickly, but this time I decided to bake cookies or so it would seem.  A 12 minute transition in T1.  What is this all about?  Well, let me tell you.  Being afraid of being cold I took some toe warmers and hand warmers from Emily that had to be opened.  I changed out of the shorts I swam in and into a dry pair.  I put on a top (swam without one) then applied sunscreen and arm sleeves.  Put on race bib, shoes, gloves and helmet and I finally got out of that tent. Bike: Ironman Arizona is a 3 loop bike course with each loop consisting of 37 or so miles.  I got on my bike at the mount line and started going.  I held back a bit because I wanted to make sure that I could feel my legs and not over exert myself because I was cold.  After finally settling I began my plan to hydrate and get the calories in.  The plan was to drink my prepared drink every 15 minutes, a HoneyStinger every two hours and EFS every 1.5 hours.  In between I would take water off the course from every aid station.  I would drink what I could and chuck the bottle before getting out of the aid station area. At the first aid station, which is about 13 miles into the race, is where the race nearly ended.  I slowed down behind another rider as he reached for a water bottle.  As soon as he grabbed it I grabbed mine.  He dropped his, and then a Gatorade bottle dropped from some place and he went down.  With only one hand on the bike and no place to go I went down over top of him and hit the ground with a huge thud.  I  could feel the air leaving my lungs and then my head smack down hard on the ground and then the sliding began.  I stayed down for a moment and then stood up and a few volunteers helped me. One woman told me I was ok and that I had no swelling and the bike looked ok.  I was gathering my thoughts when I thought of not being able to continue and this so soon into the race.  I thought of the sacrifice that Karen had put in to get me here.  I then started smacking my saddle and cursing.  After feeling bad for myself I did a body check (check) and a head check (check) and then a bike check (check) and started to go.  Before even the first peddle stroke I noticed that while my bike was pointing forward the wheel was pointing to the left.  That is when I really thought my race was over.  I asked the volunteer helping me if there was a bike aid around and he found there was one at the end of the aid station.  I walked my bike down there not knowing what to think.  The mechanic put it up on the bike holder and made some adjustments and told me the bike was perfect that I could keep racing. I got on the bike and with a lot of hesitation and trepidation I began going.  This section is where the 3% grade is but we were also facing a headwind.  With my body still wracked and the elements against me I had the slowest splits of my day at this point.  When I reached the turn around I was pissed and said it was time to ride.  I started hammering and noticed that I was riding at 30 mph (thank you tailwind.)  I got to the turn around to start Loop 2 in about an hour and finished Loop 1 in 2h6m.  My goal was to do a 5:50 bike split and doing the math I knew I would need to kill the 2nd and 3rd laps but I did not want to hurt my run so while I was aggressive I did not blow all my energy.  My left hip was feeling good and other than the cut on my shoulder I thought I was ok.  That was until my right hip started throbbing and the top of my right foot started to hurt. When Lap 3 started I just wanted it over with and pedaled.  This time there were no incidents or issues but I really wanted to be off my bike and running. T2: More like it.  I ran down my row, yelled out my number and as I got there the guy was picking up the bag and I told him to throw it.  I caught it in full stride and ran to the tent.  Just like in Texas I did not go into the tent and sat down on a chair outside and put on my visor, running shoes and grabbed the bottle of EFS.  Off I was in a swift 1:51. Run:  3 loop course but the miles seemed to be further apart than I remember a mile being.  The course is a mixture of cement and gravel.  There are a lot of turns and  I think this caused the miles to be further away than other 3 loop courses I have run or trained on.  When I started running I noticed my pace was down in the 8:00/mi and I wanted to pull back and get my HR under control which I did.  I slowed down and started the hydration plan.  Every aid station I would take water from and every other aid station I would walk for 10 seconds.  I did this through the first two aid stations but I felt great at the 4th aid station and did not stop to walk. I started to feel really full and though I needed to use the toilet.  I went into the bathroom (yes, not the porto as there were bathrooms on the course) and nothing happened so I got out and got ready to get going again.  I managed to make it to Mile 10 before I wanted to walk the aid stations.  At this point my left hip was throbbing and my shoulder hurt so bad I could hardly keep my left arm pumping during the run.  The pain was almost unbearable but I started to do math calculations in my head. When I reached mile 13 my watch was beeping so much that I just turned it off and decided to just run.  I knew that to get in under 12 hours I needed to run a 2 hour half-marathon and that became the goal. With every passing mile I would multiply the remaining miles by 10 minutes (assuming I was running 10:00/mi pace but I really had no clue) and made sure that I was always under 12 hours.  When I hit the 17 mile marker I told myself it was only 15k to do, then again at mile 20 (only 10k to go) and finally at mile 23 before I could get my thoughts out another athlete yelled: only 5k to go until I am an Ironman.  That got me fired up and I picked up the pace.  I was really hurting here but knew that I did not have far to go. As I got closer to the end I could feel the electricity in the air.  As I made the turn toward the finisher's chute Susan Lacke ran up on me and I had no idea who it was but I got pissed because I was thinking:  What a$$hole is going to sprint past me to get to the finisher's line.  When I saw Susan's face I could have cried.  All the pain was now leaving my body and I only had a few hundred yards to go.  I crossed the finish line and could not lift either arm, legs in total shut down mode and my brain completely fried from trying to motivate my body to keep moving forward.  After the catcher held me for a few moments I started walking and found Richard who helped me through the chute and over to Karen. I hugged her and told her I was in so much pain.  More pain then I ever thought I could endure.  My hip was screaming mad, my shoulder was not happy and the soft area on my head started pulsing.  I never noticed the major road rash on my calf or shoulder area, let alone the skin ripped off my elbow until this morning's shower when it all screamed at me. Through it all I never lost sight of my goal.....to honor my father.  I did not hit the 11:18 but I think he would be proud of me for not quitting.  He would be proud of me for proving that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.  He would be proud that when I finished I did not bitch and moan about my time but instead accepted what the day gave me. For that I am the proudest.  I fought the good fight on the course and when it was all said and done I set a PR in the process.  Finishing my second Ironman this year in 11:53 will be remembered for the time but for me it will always be remembered for not quitting even when the going got tough. Thank you to everybody for reading and for your support.  At different times on the course I channeled you and you helped m get to the finish line.  I can never repay for your help. [gallery link="file"]

Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 17:20

Open Water Swimming

[caption id="attachment_6694" align="alignright" width="300"]openwaterswimming_ironman_triathlon_training Source: Triathlon.com / Photo: Erik Isakson[/caption] Open water swimming would seem to be coming to an end as the triathlon season is winding down but in my best kid voice:  I don't want to stop open water swimming.  Since mid-June I have been doing an open water swim at the lake near my house and it has been every Friday since August 7th that I have done the swim thanks to an invitation from Michelle.  Ever since that glorious day in the lake I have consistently swam 2 miles every Friday and it has done wonders not only for my swim technique and sighting in the open water but also for relaxing my mind and body. When I put on that swim cap and goggles and head out for this swim I forget about the entire week of lactate threshold running and hill repeats on the bike.  This 1+ hour of training is my peace of mind and I l do not want to stop doing it.  The weather here in Texas is around 50* at 7:00am and that is when I plunk my body into the lake and while the water temp is cool it is warmer than 50*.  I submerge my body and go and it is wonderful. When the temperatures continue to creep downward will I have the motivation to submerge myself into that cold water?  My answer as of today is yes.  Maybe I don't swim 2 miles but I will continue to swim.  I want to continue to open water swim so that when March and 70.3 Puerto Rico comes around I am ready to go and don't have to start all over again.  Let's not forget that Ironman Texas is in May and I want to have a drastic improvement on my 1:36 from that race. Swimming is not my strongest sport and any type of improvement here is going to help my overall race.  I have gotten out of the water thinking that I swam a certain time only to be disappointed at what I see.  I am not looking for leaps and bounds improvement but if I can knock that 1:36 at the 2.4 mile distance down to 1:25 (without wetsuit) and 1:20 (with wetsuit) then we are looking at an 11 minute improvement at Ironman Texas in 2013.  That would set me up for a tremendous race and the only way to do that is to continue to get better at open water swimming. Another way to get better at open water swimming is going to be in going to the pool consistently during the off-season.  Working on drills and sets and streamlining and technique and repeating until I am so tired of the pool that I never want to go back.  I need to embrace my inner Nemo during the winter at both the pool, but especially in the open water since 70.3 and 140.6 distance races don't take place in a pool. While searching for different tips and tricks on the internet I came across this article for pool swimming that would seem to be a good change of pace to what I have been doing in terms of drills.  This article also provides a couple of swim sets to help test out how the consistent and hard swimming is working.  I know in the past year I have seen an improvement and I am thrilled to see it but I also know there is more to be done. See You In The Lake!

Do You Swim In The Open Water In The Offseason?

How Have You Improved Your Swim?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:49

What's Your Motivation?

[caption id="attachment_6629" align="alignright" width="271"]triathlon_motivation_inspiration_ironman Source: CK-MultiSport Coaching[/caption] Motivation is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit?  I am motivated to run.  I am not motivated to run.  Where did my motivation go?  I am a very self-motivated person and a lot of that comes from my competitiveness.  I am always trying to improve my standing against myself.  Last month I had 5 sales this month I want 6.  It is almost never-ending regardless of what I am talking about.  I know it drives my wife crazy and it is also how I can relate to a guy like Roger Clemens (competitor not drug user) when reports are that he brushed his wife back in a wiffle ball game.  I get it....I may not do it but I get it. Right now I am in the midst of peak training for Ironman Arizona and getting up in the morning is getting harder and harder.  The workouts are getting harder and they are getting longer.  The mental push to sustain this lifestyle through peak training can be hard.  Who am I kidding?  It is downright crazy someday.  There are days when that alarm goes off and all I want to do is say F U World I am laying here, but then one of two things happens.  Karen finally gets angry that I have hit the snooze button for the 10th time and tells me to get up or I turned the alarm off and she pushes me out of the bed and tells me to get going. At that point I am walking around the bedroom and the bathroom like a drunk on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.  I have no clue what time it is or where I am at but I know some form of exercise is coming.  As I get on the trainer for the 3rd time this week (this is true) or I pack my swim bag for 4000+ yards of swimming I start talking to myself about what I am going to do.  For example, today's workout was 1:30 on the trainer with 8x5min at Anaerobic Threshold with 1 min Recovery followed by 30 minutes of running at a steady anaerobic threshold.  HOLY SHIT!  Uhh.....Coach I'd like to make it to Arizona ALIVE! Once I got on the bike I started pedaling and my legs felt alright but I was just warming up and after 20 minutes I would start my sets.  I got engrossed in a terrible movie and when the sets started I hardly noticed the pain in my legs, that is until the last 3 sets.  It was at that point that I could have punched babies and started thinking about the run.  30 minutes anaerobic threshold just means run really fast for as long as you can, but wait it says steady.  Ok, so pull back a bit so that you stay steady but wait that wouldn't be AT.  My motivation for this run was starting to slip. At first I wanted to tie my record for running 4 miles off the bike in 30 minutes that I had set over two years ago and had not matched until yesterday when I ran 4.14 miles off the bike (yesterday's set was a steady 1 hour at Half-Ironman pace or 20+ mph).  I had my motivation for this run but then my legs started to really hurt.  Combination of a year-long of Ironman training, 5am start and just the volume from last week (23 hours of training.)  I was done and if I ran a 9 minute per mile pace I would know that it would hurt and that it would be pushing it at that point. Thing is I had sent a text to my coach a few weeks ago when she asked me how I was feeling.  I told her that I felt good (not great) and that I came to a realization.  It was going to hurt no matter what pace I went at and this was for swim, bike or run.  So why not just do it as fast as you can and the pain would go away faster.  Logical wouldn't you say? So when I started running I decided I was going to run not only hard but run a harder course than I ran yesterday.  I was going to prove I had a lot left in my tank to not only do the interval set, but also capture the 4 mile flag.  I was determined and I was going to do it.  All the sudden, Mr Motivation was back and all it took was a memory.  A memory lit my competitive fire inside me and off I went.  I hit that first mile at 7:26 and I thought that this was going to be a close call since I know that 7:30/mile would equal 4 miles in 30 minutes.  Second mile was 7:27 and I actually felt good even though I was breathing so heavy.  I was pumping my arms and legs going up every hill I could find.  This was not going to be a 4 mile run around a track.  My thought at this point was that if the training was extremely hard than the race would be cake. When I saw the 30:00 on the Garmin and I hit stop I could not remember if I had heard 4 beeps from the tell all machine.  I looked down and the number was 3.93 miles.  I fell just shy of hitting that 4 mile mark on a much harder course.  I was not happy and when I went into the garage to gather all my gear from the trainer ride I had the following thought:

Dad - I am sorry that I could not get to 4 miles today but rest assured that on November 18 I will run as hard as I possibly can to make you proud.

The motivation to get up every morning stopped being about me.  It stopped being about getting to 4 miles in 30 minutes.  It stopped about being a 2x Ironman in the same year.  It was now bigger than anything I could imagine.  I have about 30 days until the cannon goes off in Tempe, Arizona and I now know what will not just get me to the starting line but to the finish line.

The motivation will change between today and that day but in the end when I reflect on Ironman Arizona I will know what the underlying motivation truly was.

I also want to say Thank You to my wife, Karen, for putting up with peak training AGAIN.  I know it is not easy on you or the family but I want you to know I appreciate your ability to allow me to get out every morning to do what I do.  Without you this doesn't happen (and some mornings that is a literal statement.)

What Is Your Motivation?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 13:58

Attitude Is Everything

[caption id="attachment_6654" align="alignright" width="300"]attitude_positive_effect_motivation Source: N2 Growth[/caption] Attitude and how your approach a specific task or tasks will be the one determining factor of success or failure even before you attempt the task.  This came up today for me when I went to the pool to do a 4000 yard set.  When I first got there I was tired and did not want to be there.  The set was not going to be hard but it would take me near 1.5 hours to complete and that seemed daunting.  Add to the fact that the night before I felt sick to my stomach (literally!)  I woke up late and it just seemed that all the stars were lined up against me. As with any pool swim I do not want to do I always say to myself:  get through the warm-up and see what happens.  I got in the water and it was COLD.  I did the warm-up and chose to push on to the drills and kick sets.  Still feeling cold but also feeling like I could get through the set I went on.  I got to the main set and made a number in my head to hit (1:50/100y) and would not be satisfied with anything that was slower than that. After the first 300 I was right on target, then the second.  The 2 sets of 200 were there.  The 6 sets of 100s were right there and my attitude was changed.  I wanted to be in that water and for longer than I needed to be.  I was having a great time and while I was not pushing myself to get into the 1:30s I was actually enjoying the water at 5am.  It was no longer cold.  The set was no longer going to be long.  Everything was clicking and I felt on top of the world.  In one short swim stroke my attitude changed and all was bright (even if it was still dark outside.) When I got home I turned on ESPN's Mike and Mike and they were talking about Cam Newton.  How is attitude was just hurting himself and his teammates.  I have seen the video clip from the post game news conference after the Panthers were crushed by the Giants and I could see right there that his attitude was shot.  He had this look in his eye (when they were open) and this inflection in his voice that said he was defeated.  I knew then that his season would be a nightmare for him, but then I read that teammates had spoken to him and I expected different.  It does seem to have worked.  Before we get to the second news conference take a look at this clip after the Panthers loss to the New York Giants.
The Panthers lost again this past weekend and his attitude had not changed.  I am not sure when he will get it that what he says and how he acts has an impact on not only his performance but that of his teammates.  If I were on the Panthers and I saw this guy at the podium talking this way there is no way I would get excited to follow him onto the football field.  Now, while I believe that most players in the NFL have a lot of self-motivation I also believe that all people need to have leaders.  Fair or not, Cam Newton is the face of the franchise and those the de facto leader and he needs to act like one. If you have not seen the clip of the second news conference, take a look here and let me know if you would want to play with a guy who looked like this:
As a triathlete there are going to be days and races that not everything goes right. You may have a horrible swim but you need to put that behind you and focus on the bike and the run.  You may finish with a terrible run and while there is not another event to help fix that there is the opportunity to recover with a great meal and the family/friends that were there to support you. A few weeks ago I raced the US Open Championships here in Dallas and while I have not put up a race report a few of you know what happened.  I had a horrible race.  It was 45* the day of the race and the warmest part was the 70* water or so I thought.  I jumped into the lake and when the gun went off and my arms moved my legs didn't.  I struggled to get to the 200 meter buoy and I grabbed a kayak.  I talked to the woman for about 5 minutes and when I said to her that this was not my first open water swim and that I was an Ironman a flicker of hope went off.  I decided to swim kayak to kayak until I finished even if it took me 2 hours.  I swam to the next kayak doing nothing but pulling myself as my legs were not working.  Then it was off the next kayak and the kayak after that.  Once I was hanging onto the 4th kayak my attitude changed.  I am a FUCKING Ironman and off I went.  Pissed off that I was still in the water and pissed off that my legs were not cooperating.  I swam the rest of the way and when I hit the dock I knew I was going to finish the race. I got on my bike and I was freezing.  I mean like a Puerto Ricansicle.  I was shivering and teeth were chattering.  Feet were numb and hands were barely working.  I had two words going through my head the entire 24.8 miles.....motherf'er and finish!  At one point I tried to drink from my water bottle and my hands were so numb that could not grip the bottle and it dropped.  Even that didn't deter me because I was going to finish and finish I did despite all the hurdles.  The run was horrendous and both Achilles and calf muscles locked up.  It hurt so much that I was brought to tears at the end of the race but I finished.  My attitude got me to that finish line even though the day was horrible.  Best part:  I went to breakfast with Karen and had a great Sunday sitting on the couch with her.

Attitude Is Everything

Published in Race
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 15:19

Doping.....

[caption id="attachment_6622" align="alignright" width="247"]doping_lancearmstrong_sports_triathlon Source: Venitism[/caption] Doping has become big news lately thanks to USADA and their release of the evidence against Lance Armstrong.  Lance Armstrong has/had become a bigger topic for his transgressions in sports than even Tiger Woods.  Of course Tiger is on the comeback trail and Lance will have to venture down that path at some point as well if he wants to rebuild his sports reputation.  Please do not confuse his sports reputation with his reputation to raise funds for cancer as they are two completely different things.  I applaud Lance for his ability to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer but I will not root for him in any way shape or form as an athlete.  He cheated the system, and even if he says he is clean, there is too much smoke for their not to be a fire.  I am not an attorney or a scientist so I cannot say for certain that he did take performance enhancing drugs but I sure can say that he must not be the nicest person.  Why can I say that?  To have this many people lined up at your door to knock you down you must have really pissed somebody off or just been an asshole to a lot of people.  Either way I will not stand up in support of him as an athlete but wish him well in his ability to continue to raise money to help fight cancer. Then there is the topic of the Christian Hesch and his apology for doping.  Christian Hesch is/was a competitive runner who took EPO to improve his chances of winning running races.  I was sent this article in the NY Times yesterday and I read it with an almost disbelief.  I could not imagine for the life of me why somebody would take drugs to improve his chances at winning a running race in which he was probably barely covering the costs of the drugs, the travel, the entry fee and other items.  It was not as if he was out there winning millions of dollars running these races.  The article points out that he won $40,000 over the course of 3 years in which he was taking the drugs.  That is not a lot of money at all to risk your reputation and who knows what side effects these performance enhancers will have on you in 10 years. The most glaring point about Mr Hesch is that he only came out to tell this story because he got caught.  Had he not been caught by teammates with syringes there is a very good chance he would still be doping.  What is the point?  How much money is he going to make through running these local races or even the Rock and Roll events?  This is not baseball or football where there are million of dollars at stake, and even then I don't see the point.  Can Mr Hesch look at himself in the mirror and say that he ran a 4 minute mile?  Can he look at his kids (if he has any) or his nieces and nephews who had looked up to him because he could run fast?  The only reason he ran the times that he did was because he was taking EPO.  These were not achievements that he accomplished on his own. Back to the NFL and MLB players for a moment.  I am not forgiving them for what they do nor is it more understandable from a money-making perspective.  These athletes have a limited shelf life and need to bring in as much money as they can before they retire and have to go work like the rest of us.  A player like Melky Cabrera who is a border line starter in Major League Baseball, before he took the performance enhancers, makes a decision that could earn him $40 million guaranteed over 4 years.  In baseball where contracts are guaranteed I can see the lure, especially because a lot of the athletes come from poor communities and money is a way to help themselves and their families.  Again, let me reiterate that I do not condone this but the lure of the money may be too great for these played to run away from and thus why they do what they do. [caption id="attachment_6620" align="alignright" width="259"]doping_lancearmstrong_sports_triathlon Source: A Twisted Spoke[/caption] Yesterday after receiving this article from Kevin (Ironman By Thirty) he, Jeff (Dangle The Carrot) and I exchanged emails about this and Jeff made a very good statement.  He said:  I wonder how many AGers are doping?  To this I stop and thought to myself.....how many are?  I have written posts in the past about taking supplements and also about doping but didn't really think about the AG competition doing it.  The first thing I thought of was: How important is it to get to Kona?  How important is it to get to Vegas?  How important is it to get to Boston?  For me being able to qualify for these events ranks right at the top for why I do them but never has it crossed my mind to take performance enhancing drugs to do it.  If I get to Kona, Vegas or Boston it will be through hard work and should I never get there my life will not be worth less.  It certainly would not be worth it to take the drugs to get there and then once there look at myself while getting ready for the race knowing that I did not achieve this status on my own.  I would spend that morning thinking that I stole somebody else's spot and I would not be able to live with myself.  I spend a lot of time speaking to my step-son about working hard.  That hard work is the only way to achieve greatness and to think that there are people out there who believe they are achieving greatness through doping.  Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

How Prevalent Do You Think Doping Is For Age-Groupers?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_6585" align="alignright" width="300"]kona_ironman_worldchampionships_triathlon Source: Ironman[/caption] The Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii are less than one week away and my excitement for this event builds with every article I read.  Kona is essentially the ultimate dream for triathletes, and is probably the number one reason any of us got into this crazy sport to begin with.  The story of most triathletes goes something like this:  I was watching the Kona race on TV and thought to myself why can't I do that.  Nobody ever thinks about what it takes to get to the finish of an Ironman race let alone what is involved in actually qualifying for the Ironman World Championships but rather:  Why Not Me? Al Trautwig gives each athlete, professional or amateur, a life bigger than the one we see unfold on race day.  We are taken into the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean and then the grueling bike ride and the finish down Ali'i Drive.  We are there every step of the way and Trautwig's voice gives it a heightened sense of appeal.  We are practically jumping out of our couch cushions ready to ride those 112 miles. I know that for me Kona is the ultimate dream.  I have no clue on whether or not I can get there but that goal/dream is alive and well inside of me.  I find myself talking to Macca and Crowie during my runs.  Through the hottest of days here in Texas I envision myself running through the energy lab step for step with Mirinda Carfrae.  When I enter the water I am not drafting off of some person I never met before but instead I am swimming stroke for stroke with Andy Potts.  This is my Kona and someday it will be the real thing. And with that it is time to layout the predictions for this upcoming race.  The fields are stacked to the brim with talent.  Both the Men's and Women's races could be the second coming of the Iron War between Allen and Scott.  There are so many talented athletes with a real shot at winning this event that when the finish line tape is broken there will not be a surprise because you will say to yourself:  Yeah I can see how/why he/she won.  They had the talent and a great year leading up to this race. Here are my predictions for this years Ironman World Championships:   [caption id="attachment_6583" align="alignright" width="194"]kona_ironman_worldchampionships_triathlon Source: Slowtwitch
Chris McCormack[/caption] Men:
  1. Chris McCormack
  2. Craig Alexander
  3. Jordan Rapp
  4. Andreas Raelert
  5. Andy Potts
The easiest thing would be to predict that Crowie wins again and that is not lost on me.  The guy is a machine when it comes to Kona and every year he seems to get better and better.  The difference to me is that this year Chris McCormack did not race 140.6 mile races but instead tried to make the Australian Olympic Team.  What does this mean? It means that he left the long rides and run and focused his training on getting faster.  He already has a base to complete the 140.6 miles at a fast pace so this attention to speed will serve him well I believe.  For example, if it comes down to a sprint for the final 5K would you take the guy who has been training at fast speeds or the guy who has been training for long course?  Give me the guy whose focus has been on speed. I believe Jordan Rapp becomes a household name to those outside of the triathlon world.  He has won Ironman Texas and Ironman New York this year and seems poised both physically and mentally to challenge the best in the word at Kona.  Mr Raelert can never be counted out and maybe this year is the year that he puts it all together to put a charge into the field on the run.  Andy Potts is my wild card in the men's division.  I say that because in the past he has not fared that well at this distance but this year he blew up the field at Ironman Lake Placid.  He did the same again a few weeks ago at Branson 70.3.  He passed up the Toyota US Open Championships this year to focus on Kona and based on his 70.3 Ironman World Championship results I would say he is ready to stay with the big dogs.   [caption id="attachment_6584" align="alignright" width="221"]kona_ironman_worldchampionships_triathlon Source: Ironman
Mirinda Carfrae[/caption] Women:
  1. Mirinda Carfrae
  2. Caroline Steffan
  3. Rachel Joyce
  4. Mary Beth Ellis
  5. Kelly Williamson
With Chrissie Wellington not racing this year the common theme will be:  this is anybody's race.  My question is:  Is it really?  We have seen how well Mirinda can do based on results of the past two years.  She is able to track down anybody on the run and that is her strength, but based on reports this year she has really focused her training on becoming a better cyclist. As we have seen with the men's field and Crowie last year and McCormack the year before this race can be won on the bike.  If Carfrae's training on the bike pays off she could easily run away with the title this year.  But hold on......not so fast my friends.  The ladies she is racing against will have something to say about that.  They are not slouches and all bring a pretty impressive lifetime and 2012 resume to the party. Caroline Steffan will be toward the front of the swim and it would not be a surprise to see her heading into T2 with the lead as she is a tremendous athlete on the bike.  The one thing that I think that could hurt Steffan is how dominant she has been this year.  Having dominated just about every race she entered she is now faced with a difficult course in a difficult climate with the best in the world chasing her down and will she be able to hang onto the lead I believe she will have heading into T2. The next three are a toss-up.  Joyce, Ellis and Williamson have all had terrific racing seasons and truth be told.....anyone of them could win this World Championships this year.  Rachel Joyce has been steadily improving her performance at Kona to finish 4th last year and actually passing Steffan in the finisher's chute.  She also brings with her a sub-9 performance at the 140.6 distance at Ironman Melbourne. Mary Beth Ellis would be the wild card here if not for Kelly Williamson, but Ellis is no slouch.  Take a look at her wins this year and you may see a mirror image of Jordan Rapp. Ellis won both Ironman Texas and Ironman New York (as did Rapp) and is well rested heading to the big island this year.  The rest may serve her well as she was not well rested going into last year's event. Finally, Kelly Williamson.....a local (to Texas that is) athlete who has not raced an Ironman event this year but is on this list because of her ability to run off the bike.  She had the fastest run split at the HyVee 5150 Championships as well as the 70.3 World Championships.  If you can run then you have a chance and Williamson can run. That is my take on this awesome event.....what's yours?

Who Do You Think Win's The Ironman World Championships This Year?

Published in Race
Thursday, 27 September 2012 16:27

Adversity.....

[caption id="attachment_6524" align="alignright" width="300"]adversity_triathlon_training_racing Source: JM Baseman Blog[/caption] Adversity in a training session or a race is going to happen.  It is inevitable and it seems that today I have read three or four pieces that discussed adversity.  As I was reading them I was taken back to my big ring issue in Puerto Rico, my brake issue at Ironman Texas, the tune-up problem prior to Maine and the wheel mechanical during Maine.  At each one of these events there was a problem but rather than throwing the whole day away and really months of training I gathered myself up, dusted myself up and tried again (wait is that a Beyonce' song?) If you don't recall these issues from above let me refresh your memory: Puerto Rico:  When I got to Puerto Rico the bike looked great.  It had just been tuned up and was ready for the first race of the year.  I went on a warm-up ride with Juan and could feel the chain slipping with just about every pedal stroke.  I was distraught over this and decided to bring it to the mechanic at athlete check-in with about an hour to go before transition closed for the night. After much waiting around my bike was finally in the hands of the mechanic and after a few minutes he told me that the big ring teeth were bent and he didn't have any more big rings or a chain to replace the old one with.  I went to another place to buy the chain and while doing that Juan spoke to another mechanic there and they said they would sell me a big ring if it couldn't be fixed. The original mechanic took out a dremel and after about 15 minutes of grinding teeth he told me the bike was set and ready to go.  I quickly paid and got the bike into the transition area before it closed for the night.  At first I was panic-stricken and tried to think of how this could happen and when I realized what it was I knew that it was my fault and I had nobody to blame.  I kept as calm as possible on the outside (inside I was wreck but knew there was nothing I could do) and when it all went back to normal I was thrilled and ready to race. Ironman Texas: Again after taking a spin on the bike with Juan to dial it all in I noticed something was wrong with the brakes.  They weren't stopping me enough and I was concerned enough to bring it in.  Having been through the mechanic deal just a few months prior I was in full control of my emotions.  I knew it was nothing more than changing brake pads and so I was comfortable with leaving my bike with them, going for lunch with Juan and then going back to pick up El Diablo and deposit him in transition. While having had the experience from San Juan the biggest difference was that Juan and I went out on our tune-up ride EARLY.  Much earlier than we did in Puerto Rico.  This allowed me to not have my back up against the wall and thus allow me to relax a bit.  Better than that was seeing Sterns from my local tri shop here in Dallas working the booth and knew he would take care of my bike as he had for a year already. Rev3 Maine:  Prior to the race in Maine I had a full tune-up done with cable replacements and all.  It was about 2 days prior to me leaving that Sterns called to tell me there was an issue and the bike had to be shipped to Specialized.  I freaked out about it because there was no way the bike could head out, be fixed and be back in time for me to race.  Sterns said that he would call them and see what he could figure out on his own at the shop. In the meantime I started thinking of what I could do.  Could I rent a bike?  Maybe borrow a bike but from who?  I thought immediately of the joke that Kevin had thrown out on Twitter just a few days prior.  Mandy and I are relatively close to the same height.  I know it would not be ideal but I figured roll with it and if I had to I would ask her to borrow her bike for the ride.  It would have been uncomfortable but it would only have been for a few hours.  Fortunately Sterns called and he was able to take care of everything I needed and off to Maine I went. Well at Mile 22 a spoke decided to brake.  I was in the middle of the race and there was nothing I could do but deal with it.  I tried to bend it and then tried to flex and break the spoke but nothing worked.  I got rather mad and decided to walk it off.  I was at the base of the biggest hill to date on the ride and lifted the bike overhead and walked up that hill.  I gained composure and realized as I was flexing the spoke previously it was also sliding out.  I kept working on that and before I knew it the spoke was free and I was riding again, although not at a typical 70.3 pace. The point is that at some point adversity and issue (some mechanical and some nutrition) will affect you.  How you deal with it will determine how well the race goes.  No race is perfect.  It may never happen.  There will always be ways to improve but take those issues and turn them into lessons.  Lessons to work into your next training cycle which will in turn make for a better race the next time.  Stay focused on the task at hand and that task is to finish the race.
What Adversity/Issues Have You Dealt With?
Published in Train
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