Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Have Well and Truly Begun

For the past two weeks--basically, since I started running again--I have felt like I'm Ironman training. This is good; I had been worried that I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Last week, we crossed the 100-days-to-go threshold, and I can now happily (and tiredly) report that yes, indeed, I am back in the groove.

I originally thought that my focused training would begin on January 1. When I was still pretty relaxed and unfocused in mid-January, I figured February 1. Ultimately, it turned out to be more like March 10. It's not like I slacked off in January and February, though, and because of that, I'm about where I need to be fitness-wise right now.

So, why did my brain come to the party so late? I believe that it was mostly because I was still suffering the mental and physical effects of Ironman Cozumel. I was very disciplined in the run-up to the event, just as I plan to be very disciplined in the run-up to Coeur d'Alene. Applying that much focus and discipline takes a lot out of me mentally. My wife jokes that I train very hard, but when I take off, I take OFF. She's right; I think that my mental makeup bends toward feast or famine. Moderate exercise three times a week has never appealed to me. Likewise, in order to re-balance my psyche after being so focused heading into Cozumel, I had to take a lot of time to be unfocused--particularly if I was going to re-focus again for Coeur d'Alene.

And, of course, I was dealing with the bursitis and posterior tibialis tendon issue, too, that I have documented in great detail in earlier blog entries. I learned from treating this injury that even though I can train in two sports while I'm injured, I don't actually feel like I'm training for a triathlon unless I'm doing all three. I'm not sure why that is. I would have thought that the positive feelings that come from being able to train well in two sports would be enough to overwhelm the negative feelings that come from being injured in one sport. For me, at least, they were not. Injuries really suck me down mentally. For two months, I killed myself on the bike and swam twice a week, but I couldn't even muster enough focus to eat right because I wasn't able to run. What's that all about?

Now, though, I can run again. I have done several runs in the last three weeks in which I have mostly stuck to the unpaved flat track in the park across from our home. Last night, I ran two miles on that track, and then I left it to do seven more on the pavement and hills of Atlanta. Today, my heel is a little sore (from the bursitis), but my posterior tibialis tendon is issue-free. Indeed, I'm still wearing one of the handy-dandy arch pads that the podiatrist gave me, but I believe that the running injury is behind me.

This is, of course, why I can now see Coeur d'Alene so clearly in front of me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some Good News!

My last few blog posts have been downers given that I've been a bit in the dumps. Injuries have a tendency to do that. But things are looking up! My foot is feeling better, and I actually have had two [mostly] successful runs in the past week. It's definitely not well yet, and I think that I'm actually going to have to deal with a bit of discomfort for a while. But I think that I've crossed the Rubicon; the worst of this injury is behind me.

And as my wife always says, the good thing about being a triathlete is that when you can't do one sport, you can still do two others! Very true, even though I must admit that not being able to run has made me a bit less motivated generally. Nonetheless, I'm still in good shape, and I'm not worried about "being behind in my training" since I have, after all, been putting it over ten hours a week for the past two months.

Since I've been unable to run, I've been working extra-hard on the bike, and I was thus very happy to get the e-mail a couple of weeks ago that they have finalized the Coeur d'Alene bike course! I had worried that they were going to flatten it out. They didn't. Here's the profile:

It's a two-lap course, so that means we'll be going up and down each of those hills twice. All told, there are two Cat 4 climbs, four Cat 5s, and 2306 feet of climbing per lap. That doozy around mile 19 and mile 78 is a 1.5 mile climb that averages over 5%. Whew! In preparation, I've gone to North Georgia twice in the past two weekends to ride. On each occasion, I've done about eighty miles, including six climbs:

This weekend, I'll head up to Fort Mountain and do a bit more climbing. I enjoy going uphill, so I really don't mind all the uphills in training. In fact, my willingness to ride uphill--and, to be honest, my ability to get up them more quickly than most folks--is the main reason that we chose IMCdA for me in the first place.

The news gets better. Some cool cat named Dan Weber rode the new course, and he posted a video. Watching it got me really fired up. First, there are approaches like this:

I love the anticipation of going up a hill, particularly when I feel like I'm going to crush it. I'm very excited to traverse this section. Second, there are the hills themselves, like this one:

Looking at that picture, I can almost feel myself churning up it, passing folks along the way. Third, and perhaps most significantly, there are the descents, like this:

Because the new course goes out and back on a highway, the roads are built for faster driving. That means that the descents are long and gradual and have wide, sweeping turns. I am accustomed to having to control my bike on twisty switchbacks when descending. These descents, by comparison, should be a piece of cake. Since I won't have to worry about cornering or braking, and since I'll be able to stay aero the entire time, the downhills should be FAST. I imagine that I'll get over 50 m.p.h. on several occasions.

The good news does not stop there. Two weeks ago, my wife finished a Double Ironman. (If you haven't read her race report, READ IT.) That's right, mere Ironmen, she did 4.8 miles of swimming, 224 miles of cycling, and 52.4 miles of running, all in one race. Twenty-eight hours and forty-eight minutes after she started, she and her crew were tired, but extremely satisfied. She's now taking a few weeks off to figure out what's next.

Since I became a high school track and cross-country coach, I have learned how much more gratifying it is to see an athlete you coach win than it is to see yourself win. I have taken a great deal more pleasure in seeing two different athletes I coach win state championships than I have taken in my own athletic successes. The same principle applies to my wife's accomplishment, even though I'm not her coach; I take a great deal more pride in what she did--and in helping her do it--than I do in anything that I myself have done. I know that she probably feels the same way about me. I can't imagine how swollen I'll feel if/when our children ever do anything special.

And more good news: I've picked up a team and a couple of sponsors for 2012. Woo hoo! This season, I'll be racing with All3Sports.

I like the folks at All3Sports a lot, and in fact, two of the people that Kacie raced in the Double Ironman are on my new team. I'm excited to be a part of it.

In addition, I will sponsored by Cycleops:

This is great, because I've been a CycleOps user for several years. In fact, the cornerstone of my cycling training for the past two years has been my coach's trainer workouts, all of which have been done on a CycleOps trainer using a CycleOps Powertap. Here I am building a little bit of power on my tri bike last year:

(Yes, that's a puddle of sweat.)

Finally, I'm honored to have been picked up by H2OAudio:

H2OAudio make cool, waterproof audio products so that I can rock out while I'm swimming. Check me out:

You may think that the above picture is of Laird Hamilton: big wave surfer, RAAM participant, and all-around bad-ass. But it's really me! No, actually, it's Laird Hamilton. But I like to think that I look this heartthrob-by when I wear my H2OAudio gear.

So, in all, things are clicking. Just over three months to go to Coeur d'Alene. This weekend, we'll spring forward, and there will be no more riding or running in the dark. We'll knock out this foot thing, we'll climb a lot more hills, we'll keep swimming faster, and before long . . . well, I'll write more about goals later.