Friday, 7 December 2012

He's Back!

When last I posted, I was getting ready to race Ironman St. George. The swim did not go well.

With four-foot swells and more than 400 people abandoning the swim, the freak, sudden windstorm left me exhausted, hypothermic and starving. Still I managed to finish. A usual 1:25hr average finisher I finished in just over 2:30hrs and just missed the swim cut-off. This is my walk of shame to the change tent.
I did get on the bike, but the 40mph headwinds and the awesome Utah hills did me in and I only finished 2/3 of the bike ride.

But I don't want to dwell on this. I haven't even logged this race. It is still too fresh in my mind.
This blog is about starting fresh. It is about where I am at now and where I'm going. There will be time to reflect tomorrow. 

In fact, there will be time to talk about what I'm doing next in subsequent blogs. This is the bookmark for the next chapter.

Training has started. I have a big race coming up in late June. Yes, it is another Ironman, this time in Idaho. Basic training is already underway. I hope to share my challenges and my triumphs here.
Watch this page. More is coming, especially about diet. That is, if I can ever get out of the bar...Note I'm drinking water, though.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Racer 1410 is ready to race. Kinda sorta.

On May 6, 2012, I'll be doing the biggest race of my life. I'll be one of the more than 1,700 ironmen and wannabe ironmen and women who will be participating in the St. George Ironman.

This is not a new distance for me. I've done it before, albeit in a different location. I've actually done this distance, successfully, three times in Penticton, British Columbia.

It is not a new location for me, either. I've been to St. George and have experienced its red-rocked splendor.

No. Why this will be the biggest race of my life is because it is taking me way out of my comfort zone.
  • I'm coming back from an injury
  • I've spent a year doing nothing
  • It is an early-in-the-year race
  • My endurance training has been minimal
  • My run is "challenged"
  • I've had a very stressful few months at work
  • I'm really not in a "race" frame of mind.
Still. In a few days,  I will get into a vehicle and drive the 24 or so hours from my home to St. George, Utah and try to get into the right frame of mind.

I am starting to get a little excited about the prospect, mind you. I spent two nights doing all my race gear prep. That means finding everything I will need to wear and have with me on race day. That includes:
  • the clothes I will wear on the morning of the race (and post-race) 
  • all my race clothing
  • my nutrition and disposable bottles
  • my chip belt
  • my race belt
  • Benadryl for scary creepy crawly stings
  • other meds
  • passport
  • And bike, shoes, tools, helmet, towel, wetsuit, goggles, Garmin, bodyglide...
There's more, I just can't remember it all right now. I prepare all this, not with the anticipation of a new racer facing a challenge, but with a slight soupcon of dread. In the back of my mind I keep getting the "am I really ready for this?"

The reality is, I am ready. I am more than ready. I have no intention of winning this race. But I will finish and finish strong. This is a long race. This can be a grueling, cruel race. I maintain that at least 50 per cent of it in mental - or as some friends say: "You must be mental to do this!"

I've done the distance before. I know what my body will feel like. I know when to push and when to relax. I'll know when to run and when to walk. I'll know what all the salt covering my clothes mid-race means, and I know how that unslakable thirst is related.

I'll know when to eat and when to drink. I'll know when to catch up to and pass other riders and when to fall back and not draft.

I'll know when to swim fast and when to coast. And, most of all, I'll know not to let the negative self-talk that will creep into my head and throughout my whole being take hold of my resolve.

I'm not physically ready for this race, but I'm more ready than I'm willing to admit to myself. I have three M-dots on my ankle that confirm that I've taken this journey before.

There is more riding on this race than just my comeback to triathlon and endurance. I'm undergoing a transformation and a redefinition and I do not have a end goal in mind, or in sight.

This very familiar journey that will tax my body, my brain and my resolve will take me through some very familiar routes - mentally, spiritually and physically. Of course I will persevere. But what I'm ultimately looking for is the serendipity.
Somewhere on the course. I don't know if it will be in the swim, or the bike or the run. It might even be while I sit in transition, wondering what I'm doing so far from home. It will be at some yet unknown moment that the clarity that I found when I first started this journey will again show itself to me.

That clarity, is a gift that comes only through toil. It is in that serendipitous clarity, that all the doubt and uncertainty that has been the hallmark of my cluttered mind this year will dissipate. And,  for an albeit brief moment, I will see where I have to go and what I have to do.

And this, and only this, will energize me anew.

The race begins anon.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Welcome back fatigue.

Last Friday I did something that I said I would do. I took a day off and I had a workout involving all four disciplines. Swim, Bike, Run...and fuel. With May 5th fast approaching, in addition to the normal, gradual build up in my training tolerance, I am also trying to reacquaint myself and my muscle memory with what a real triathlon is about.

So, what did I do. I got up, had a non-fibre, carb and protein breakfast. Drove to the pool. I swam for just over an hour, or 3,100 metres. This wasn't a race. I wanted to get some time and distance in. As it turned out, it was very busy and I had to change where I was swimming three times (deep tank, to open pool, to designated lanes). This was a great chance to get up, have some water (I usually don't hydrate during the swim if I can help it) and pee a few times (this I usually try to do before the canon goes off -- hard to pee and stroke at the same time).
Following the swim I took my time, washed off the chlorine, had some carb and protein and drove home. Got on my bike in the basement and proceeded to spin (low gear, high cadence - with some harder work variety thrown in) for just over 3 hours or 71kms. I watched The Bourne Identity.  Action Movies work best for mindless circles. I've tried drama...too much concentration required.

I had to change clothing twice, went through six towels and had two bottles of water; one gatorade; one disgustingly sweet, flat soadpop thing in the fridge; one pb&j sandwich; and one cliff bar. I thought about using my race-proven favourite, perpetuem, but I'm saving what I have for later training.

Photo copyright CJ Katz
After I got off the bike, I had a very tough decision to make. Every part of me wanted to just get on the treadmill, make it easy, comfortable. But I knew that getting on the treadmill would give me too many excuses to cut my planned run short.

So I dried off, got indoor run gear on, drank some water, had a banana and drove to the indoor track at the field house.

There began a one hour/10km run that was divided into 4 segments where I switched direction, stretched my foot and drank water. I had a gel at Hammer Gel at 30 minutes.

It was at about 10 minutes into the run that I got "that feeling" back.  Long course triathletes will know of what I speak. You are tired. you are sore. But your legs are working. All that swimming and biking did not limit your ability to move your legs and arms and propel yourself forward. I probably could have run for hours.

This familiar fatigue was the signal that I'm doing something right and that my body is responding well to moving from sport to sport without too much protest. I remember this feeling well as I overcame my intense desire to walk and started running up Main Street at Ironman Canada .

This Epic Training session as it has now come to be known demonstrates that I might just be ready for, at least finishing Ironman St. George in May. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Goal setting my way out of oblivion

One day, while unsuccessfully treading despair in the morass of a banal foot injury, I remembered I could swim. It felt good to return to those familiar fluid movements.

So I swam to a spot that gave me a modicum of stability.

Then I remembered I could ride. So I got on the bike and peddled, as if I were actually moving.

It is then that I rediscovered that, to get somewhere, I had to work hard to get nowhere.

I've spent a little too much time not moving, mourning my lost athleticism and blaming a recalcitrant body part -- my foot -- for an almost unforgivable slide into decrepitude.

Sure. My foot hurts. It makes its presence known at the most inopportune moments, such as first thing in the morning, last thing at night and many times in between. But I have grown tired of growing and being tired.

A friend, likewise burdened with self imposed inactivity, suggested we do a little race. Ironman St. George, Utah.

I jumped at the idea of trying something new. The Ironman distance is an old, familiar friend of mine. I know the St. George course, as I rode much of it last year. What is new is the idea of training indoors. Pulling myself out of this funk by moving as deliberately and as fast as I can, without really going anywhere. I'm working hard to get nowhere and everywhere.

The race is on May 5th. That means that all the bike riding will most likely be indoors, or at least the 3 to 7-hour junkets. There will be no open water swim practice. Last time I swam in a Saskatchewan lake before June, I altered my anatomy in a not-so-favourable way.

Then there is running. Over a month ago, I started running indoors, at the track and on the treadmill. Plodding, really, not running. The foot complained, but because it was well taped, that seemed to muffle it's annoying protestations. Following the runs it was less than unbearably painful, so that gave me some hope.

Strangely, at least up until now, it has been unseasonably warm in southern Saskatchewan. We've seen temperatures hovering just below and just above zero Celsius, instead of the expected -20 to -40. Because of that I took some careful forays outdoors with my feet and my old (still newish) stability New Balance shoes (instead of the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They don't work on ice, or wet, it seems...)

I'm slow. The ice doesn't help. But I'm running. There were times when I thought that I would never run again.
New shirt, new 'do, new 'tude.
So I'm back to the sport and the Tri-angle journey. I'm back to strength training and better eating and swim/bike/run.

I only have a few months to get race-ready and I'm looking forward to that experience. More than that, I'm eager to reacquaint myself with the guy that I left behind in self piteous oblivion last June. 

Follow me here and I'll try not to get lost again.