Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A First time for Everything

White's Ferry long ride crew.
Last week was a much needed and much appreciated week of R&R.  My last workout leading into my R&R week was tough, but good.  A 105 mile bike ride follow by a 60 minute brick run.  I took a spill coming in from the bike, luckily I only got a couple of wounds and bruised pride.  I have now joined the ranks of cyclists who have fallen.  The completion of that brick marked the start of my recovery week.  Of course it began with chocolate milk, how could it not?

Crowie on his way to Victory at Eagleman!
Sunday morning came early as I set out to spectate at Eagleman 2012 in Campbridge, MD.  Really I am just obsessed with Mirinda Carfree and Craig Alexander and wanted to see them up close and personal.  No, there was also a good contingent of DC Tri folks racing as well as a previous patient/friend/mentor (3-time Kona qualifier) from Georgia.  The weather was pretty hot and sunny and a lot of people struggled on the run course.  That didn't stop me from deciding I want in on this death march in 2013 - it will be fantastic.  This also motivated me to really pull the trigger and commit once again to Auguta 70.3 at the end of September.  Augusta 2011 was my first 1/2 Ironman and I loved everything about it.  I raced well, learned a ton, and overall had a great experience.  This year will be even better as team DC2A will take over Augusta!  I think this race a great race for a first 70.3 or a PR attempt.  With 5 weeks recovery between IM Louisville and Augusta 70.3 I'll be recovering and peaking in an attempt to break the next big time barrier in the 1/2 IM distance.

Recovery week has always been and probably always will be a struggle for me.  It starts out painful as my body absorbs all the training that I've been putting into it over the past 4-6 weeks.  After a couple of days I inevitably feel antsy and lazy and start to dial it up again while trying to keep myself reigned in.  Apparently I had though this all through when I wrote out my training plan and aligned this recovery week with my good friends wedding and hosting Mary prior to the wedding.  Mary wouldn't have minded if I would have had to train but hanging out with her and the crew was a great relaxing distractor to the normal training schedule.  My IM training plan is a bit aggressive - because it can be - since I don't start working until August.  This means my biggest week will top out at 29.5 hours (in July) and my biggest week before my R&R was 28 hours.  With this volume of training my recovery weeks may not look much like recovery.  This past R&R week was set for 14 hours (1/2 of the previous weeks hours) but as I said before it's hard for me to reign it in and I ended up hitting 17.25 hours for the week.

Old school hand written training plan.
R&R week ended with a long and hard workout - one not fit for an R&R week, but one that I needed wanted to do.  A double Oly brick at the General Smallwood bric-nic.  My great idea was to bike the Oly course, run the Oly course, bike the Oly course, and run the Oly course.  The first bike route was great and we had a nice small group setting out on this workout with me (or at least 3/4ths of it).  The bike route ended up being 27 miles of rolling hills and fast flats - which should make for an awesome race on July 7th.  I felt great for the first run and took off on the rolling hills of the run course for a decent paced 10k (though it needs to be faster on race day).  Once I was back from round 1 I swapped out my water bottles, put down a Bonk Breaker energy bar and set off for bike #2.  I had used gels on round 1 and Gu brew.  I've used gel and gu brew in every race so far this year and most long training days and have done great with those items.  I wanted to try Bonk Breaker energy bars, as this is what will be on course at IM Louisville.  I set off on bike #2 pretty hard, trying to push the pace with Adrianna.  About 1/2 way through the course I knew I needed to empty my stomach.  There wasn't much decision making here, my stomach really told me it needed to get rid of some stuff.  It was hot out, I had been drinking water and Gu brew but my stomach wasn't happy.  So as we were riding up came the bonk breaker and fluids, not once but three times!  Now I had to make a decision swallow it and deal with it later or let it go.  I knew I'd feel better if I just let it go.  I've never ever felt the least bit sick on the bike and I was surprised that this was even happening.  I kept pushing the pace and finished the ride hard, as I did feel quite fine once lightening the load.  A quick transition and run #2 was underway.  My pace was much slower than run #1 - it was much warmer out and I was fresh out of H20 and I had forgotten to grab a gel for the run.  I sucked it up and picked off some people in front me, 1 by 1 until I was back to the park.

The double brick was hard, I learned a thing or 2 about nutrition and actually gave in to rolling my tri top up to a 1/2 top during run #2.  I normally am against this but realized that it was actually much more comfortable and cooler and my white stomach didn't blind anyone!  I was roasted after this workout and could only get down chocolate milk for a good hour after finishing.  I tried to pass out on the picnic table but Kim wouldn't let me and got me some fluids and took me for a walk as I felt like I was going to get sick again and doing that in front of 100 other triathletes trying to have a picnic wouldn't have been very cool.

With my rest and recovery week behind me I am back at it - building up to General Smallwood Oly followed by my biggest week of training pre-Ironman.  Monday was a tough day, trying to get back into everything.  Sunday was a "day off" but dancing in heels at a wedding reception for 4 hours turns out to be a pretty good quad workout.  I felt revived, fresh, and ready come Tuesday and nailed 3 workouts - pushing some new limits on the bike and the run.  It feels great to hit it hard once again.  I have 67 days with 2 IM 'Big Day" training days, a 120 mile ride, 10 days in Colorado and and whole lot of swimming and running between me and August 26th.

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

IM Training Camp - It Will Get Done

In Mid-July I will trek out to the Denver area to take part in the Courage Classic to benefit Children's Hospital Colorado.  The Courage Classic is a 3 day ride in which I will cover 200 + miles with more than 10,000 ft in elevation gain.  The route takes us through Leadville, Frisco, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain to name a few of the highlights.  I've been saying I want to go to Colorado in the summer since Winter of 2008 when I went to Keystone and Breckenridge.  I'll be riding with Team Hard't to Beat which includes several friends from DC Tri.  The Courage Classic is a ride to give hope to children whose diagnoses cross every pediatric specialty at Children's of Colorado.  Some of these children will ride along with us, some will provide encouragement and support along the route, and all will provide hope and courage as they fight on.   To find out more about the ride or to make an individual donation to my ride please visit my Donation Page by clicking here.  In lieu of much of a registration fee every rider must fundraise for Children's Hospital Colorado, any and all donations are greatly appreciated and welcome.

I was on the fence about this outing for a couple of weeks.  One day thinking it would be great training for IM Louisville and the next day being a nervous wreck that it might destroy everything I have and will being working so hard toward.  I took strolling opinions and thoughts from past IM racers and filed them away in the mind.  All the while I knew what I really needed to do was talk to the coach from PTS Sports. He has been a great asset to have in my back pocket - training ideas, mental coaching, OWS practice in GA, indoor trainer sessions and just a complete wealth of knowledge and personal experience.  I explained the situation to him - the ride, my mentality, etc and knew that if he said go for it I would be headed to CO.  His opinion was no doubt, go and do it.  It will be great IM training, especially if I use it as a training camp.  So the plan - make one day a brick workout, find a pool and swim, get a 10+ mile run in at elevation, and don't lose sight of the goal.  The best IM races he's had are the one's where he was able to go train in the mountains.  I'm all in and I'm super excited to get back out to gorgeous Colorado.

Another reason for this trip - every PT I worked with said take a vacation before starting work.  I was content and  determined to focus on  Ironman over the summer and forego a trip to Europe or Hawaii.  This trip gives me the chance to get out, train, and have a great time before starting that full time job of mine at Professional Sports Care and Rehabilitation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Every Damn Weekend...

The Iron summer has officially begun.  My days consist of workouts, naps, food, a little studying, and a little working.  This past week I've added volume to all 3 disciplines and my body knows it.  I've enjoyed every second of the training - pushing, persevering, training partners, post workout chocolate milk, etc.  My body isn't letting me get away with the increased volume easily - I'm tired and sore and the week is far from over (Saturday is the long day).  

"You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college."

I'm self-coaching through this Ironman with advice and direction from a few coaches I was lucky enough to meet during my Georgia adventures.  Every once in awhile doubt creeps into the mind, will I be ready, am I doing enough, am I doing too much, will my mind be ready to take my body through 140.6?  I meticulously log each workout I do along with the hours I've accumulated in each discipline for each day.  This log has proven to be a great source of confidence and something to look back and see what I've accomplished and how far I have come since I set out on my first 80 mile ride in January.

"Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer."

I am doing this to enjoy it, and I do enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it's been an easily traveled journey thus far.  I've struggled to get my form and pace in the water, I've watched my Olympic Distance speed not improve for the first time in 2 years, I've sacrificed time with friends and family, including birthday celebrations and my own graduation festivities.  It has also opened tons of new doors - new training partners, new training routes, group workouts, etc.  Training for Olympic Distance events on my own the past couple years was what I preferred - but with the increase in riding time and mileage for Ironman I've discovered the motivation, inspiration, and camaraderie a couple great training partners can make all the difference when your weekend schedule involves 6 hours in aero ;)  

"I am made of all the days you don't see, not just the one you do."

Sure, I'll write about specific training sessions from time to time or comment on a new milestone reached during my training, but there are only a few truly special people who know what it looks like and feels like day in and day out.  I've lost some friendships due to the training, but I've also gained genuine and supportive relationships throughout the journey.  It's an odd bond of great people who enjoy exploring the outer limits of human endurance and tolerance for pain.  This past week has been a big week of training - my body hurts - but I've learned a lot about myself including strengths, weaknesses, nutrition, and recovery.  Some of this I learned through success while I also learned a goo bit through failure (nutrition/recovery after a long run).  I've got a solid 12 weeks to build, polish, and refine while staying physically healthy and mentally sharp. 

Kinetic Half 2012

"Success in this sports, is above all else, about enduring suffering."