Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coaching: a weird way to experience a race

Hey All,

I have been absent for far too long so time to get back on the horse.  Not a ton going on for me from a racing perspective but that doesn't mean I have bailed on triathlon.  Quite the opposite, I am doubling down.  I am enjoying training more than ever and I actually started coaching!  The coaching has been pretty interesting so let's talk about that just between us girls.

My good friend, Lauren, contacted me last year to talk about coaching.  I thought she was asking for recommendations but she actually wanted me to coach her. At first, I was just flattered. I was blushing all over the place like a middle school girl.  But when I got down to it, I was pretty nervous. I wanted to do things the right way and deliver on my end of the bargain.  She was targeting Ironman Arizona and I felt I could set her up for a good race.  I am not quite sure I would be a good coach for certain things, but I was confident that I understood at least how to get properly fit for Ironman and also felt I could explain race execution which was learned from both nailing it and botching it on my own. I also know Lauren really well.  This was pretty important as I had a good understanding of her strengths and weaknesses.  Sounded like a good situation so I was all in... but still nervous.

The first thing we did was set up some goals.  We then spoke about race scheduling, how to approach training, what has worked for her in the past, and what we wanted to focus on.  We set about ticking things over in training.  I was throwing the kitchen sink at her in terms of workload.  The workouts were really tough, mind numbing in some cases, and pretty intense but she was nailing the program.  Obviously we were cautious in the parts of the season where the worload was highest, when she got sick, and always kept a pulse on how she was responding to the training.  She just kept it rolling, stayed injury free, consistent, and committed.  It was really freaking impressive.  I basically set up a program that I'm not sure I could have done myself and she nailed it to the T.

Race day came and I was super confident in her fitness and our prep for the race.  We had gone over the race so many times it was ridiculous and I knew she was set up for a BIG PR, but it was down to execution. Ironman is such a crap shoot. So many things can go wrong in so many different areas. I had no idea what was going to happen. I posted up on my computer, locked in and focused for a long day staring at a screen. Game on!

She set out and cruised the swim. She was a collegiate swimmer so I knew she was comfy when she came out in 1:00 flat.  We had done enough swim training for that to be totally under control. Onto the bike. I was glued to my computer.
The first few splits were so even on the bike, I couldn't believe it.  The pace was again totally in control and I was starting to get really pumped.  I knew she was on her game, conservative, and executing beautifully.  Praying for no flats, I kept refreshing on my screen to see her splits stay dead even. Unreal.  I kept calling Inch who was at the race and her boyfriend, Eric, to remind her to be patient and keep eating. She hit mile 100 and was still laughing and I knew things were on track. No flats and into T2.
Onto the run, the first couple splits looked a bit quick.  The standard 20-30 seconds per mile faster than you should be going because it's Ironman and you're finally fresh! It's freaking science bro. Everyone does it.  After mile 3, she settled in.  Around mile 10 things started trending in the wrong direction.  She was fading.  My stomach started flopping over on itself and I was biting my nails down to the stumps.  She wasn't far off her pace but it wasn't looking good.  I was on the phone again trying to get someone to tell her to get some coke down and she would come around.  I hit the refresh button probably 400 times and finally her pace started to come right. Phew.  Mile 20 and she was getting on track.  The last 3 miles were faster than goal pace!
I flipped out and was jumping around like a baby howler monkey.  Incredible.  She came in at 11:06 for a 2 hour PR!  But more than the time, she executed to perfection.  Wow.  Who knew hitting the refresh button for 11 hours could be such a rush?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coke Zero and Fish n' Chips

You get what you need

Dear Bloggers,

I have been away for some time as you have undoubtedly noticed.  I’m sure it has kept you up at night and for that I am deeply sorry.  Aside from the obvious apology, I feel I owe some sort of an explanation for my absence from the world wide interweb. 

This year has been particularly rough from an exercise standpoint.  It has been one injury after another and a desperate attempt to build some meager amount of fitness week after week.  I have had weeks of solid training but in endurance sports consistency is king and the only thing that has been consistent is the injuries.

This actually took quite a toll on me emotionally as I would go through highs and lows way more often than to which I was accustomed.  That’s the reason for the absence.  As the old adage goes- if you don’t have anything nice to say, stop blogging and wallow in your own self-pity.

Because of the constant setbacks, this year has forced me to do a broad analysis of the WHY of triathlon. I love endurance activities to a degree that I can’t explain.  It is sort of like the juice in my battery as a human being. Not necessarily triathlon or racing but long sustained movement through different places is what makes me happy.  Things going awry is sort of like short circuiting my system.  I feel lost.

Now on to the deeper stuff:
Looking in the mirror though is also a major component of why I like this pursuit. Self-evaluation and accountability are things that I really value and nothing exposes your core, cowardice, and ugliness quite like endurance sport. I like that especially on a discrete unit level of one race or one workout.  This year has definitely brought a new perspective on looking in the mirror, as it is SO much broader. It put me back in touch with certain key realizations and sort of developed my spirituality.

1.     The gift of being able to do this sort of thing is not mine or any individual’s but rather something precious from God. Nothing we have done entitles us to enjoy these activities. It’s easy to forget and to not give credit or honor back is something that comes more naturally than I care to admit.  Obviously, this year I realized that I had been doing just that and taking the gift for granted. Gratitude is vital and that extends beyond sport, duh.
2.     Self-reliance is arrogant, stupid, and a waste of time.  Again- very easy for me to fall into a pattern of self-reliant behavior.  Breaking the cycle is key and I’ve found that putting my faith in God has freed me to enjoy the sport again. God doesn’t necessarily give you what you want but rather what you need and there is peace in that. 

Anyways, that’s my year in a nutshell. More to come at some point

Monday, April 23, 2012

Evotri Epicamp III

Hub Endurance is another one of Evotri’s Chattanooga-based sponsors.  An excellent bike shop that provides top-notch coaching service.  They are amazingly plugged into the community. Generally a keg-erator helps with that.  They are a big local hangout for cyclists and triathletes in the area.  Coffee and beer flow like... well, like coffee and beer, and the staff is welcoming and laid back.

We headed there to have few beers, to see the shop, and chat with the boys. SRAM was their promoting their charity, World Bicycle Relief.  The program basically gives bikes to people in impoverished country. That may not seem like much, but having a bike allows them to get to a market to sell goods, or to attend school.  Basically a bike is a game changer and for $134, SRAM donates a fully equipped commuter bike to someone in need.  The people who turned out to the HUB/Evotri event had an impromptu fundraiser and were able to send 3 full bikes to Africa.

After Hub, we headed back to the cabin to crash and get ready for a beast of a bike ride in the morning.

Dawn came too soon.  We fired up the multiple gallon coffee maker that Chris brought and watched the fog roll off the Tennessee River.  The temperature slowly crept up and by 8, it was good enough for short sleeves and no gloves.  The HUB team and Dave from the North Face met us and we rolled out as a group. We stuck together for 10 miles or so and headed to the base of a climb where the group split off for the different ride options for the day.

Me, Matt, Chris, and Dave headed up the climb that was billed as one of the toughest in the area. Dave said “just when you get desperate, you have 30 more pedal strokes and it’s over.”  I thought, “Desperate? What the ^&% are you talking about?  I don’t get desperate on a bike. You do.”  Wrong.

It was 2.4 miles and pitched up to something ridiculous like 26%.  That's just a number until you actually feel it. The climb started off steep and I powered off the front and out of the saddle.  Big mistake.  It leveled off for a second and I desperately sucked air.  As it pitched up again, I started paying for my early pace.  I could barely turn the pedals as Chris went around me.  Served. I was on my last legs as I swerved all over the road.  Desperate was an understatement.  I was PWNED in the biggest way imaginable.  I sort of got my legs back under me and started trying to pull Chris back as we hit the top.
Not thrilled as my stomach nearly came through my nose on that climb

We set off along the rolling hills at the top of the ridge. I was on the Quintana Roo illicito, so I felt the obligation to go to the front and tow the group as I had the fastest bike.  Let me tell you, that bike FLIES.  I barely was putting any effort into it and easily cruising along at 23 mph in some wind.  The bike is ridiculously stable in the windy and squirts along the flats like a bar of soap.  It isn’t as snappy as the CD0.1 on the climbs, but makes up for it with the speed everywhere else. 

We headed down a descent and into some more rolling farmland.  Just as I was starting to unravel, we stopped for snickers and coke which saved my ass, as usual.  We launched up the final climb of the day. I shredded my legs on the early part of the climb and was shot out the back.  I wasn’t pleased as I don’t usually get dropped on the bike, but early season fitness, or lack thereof will do that to you.  Nevertheless, we rolled down the descent and back to the cabin.  I was smoked.  I flopped into the jacuzzi, opened the book “Once a Runner”, and 2 pages later was dozing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Evotri Epicamp part II

Read part I to catch up, internet dweller.

We plunged into the delightful, green, wooded bowels of Chatanooga, closing in on the Quintana Roo headquarters. I was UBER pumped for this part of the weekend as it was the first time meeting with the QR crew and it was my first time in any sort of bike making facility. We arrived and were greeted by Heather Sweet and Brad DeVaney. They showed us around their offices and introduced us to the group. The 2012 line of QR bikes was lining the office. I can't say that I would mind if my office were dotted with 3 to 6 thousand dollar bikes. Some of the new paint jobs are absolutely wicked.

After we met the QR team, they walked us into the manufacturing plant where they receive their QR bikes and make the Litespeed titanium bikes. I was like a kid in a candy store. Litespeed has always been my dream bike. Something about titanium gets me in a spot that carbon never will. Seeing how they machine these bikes was incredible.

They are so far ahead of the game in titanium manufacturing it is ridiculous. The real kicker here is that, at the moment, Brad does literally all of the design work for the group. This guy is a freaking legend. He has been responsible for a great majority of the innovations since the inception of the TT bike. He is driving the industry. Lemond and Lance rode Litespeeds to tour victories. Robbie McEwen was on one. The new shift technology of the QR CD0.1 and illicito was Brad's brainchild and is probably one of the most revolutionary concepts in tri bikes in the last decade. I could pick this guy's brain for a solid week without skipping a beat. He also showed off some prototypes and molds of things he has tried in the wind tunnels and I about lost it.

After my head basically exploded, we had some lunch, snapped a million pictures, and headed out for a group ride. We noodled around the backroads. I was on a CD0.1 so I was testing it out. I was riding like a schizophrenic squirrel and popping off the front at random intervals to put the bike through its paces. That thing is snappy. It actually climbs a lot better than I would expect from a TT bike. It is really stiff and accelerates well. Not surprisingly, it is super slippery in the wind. The bike was incredibly stable pointed into the teeth of the wind and made it really easy to apply force to the pedals smoothly. I was definitely impressed. Check out Inch's new one just so you have an idea of what the CD0.1 looks like.
He looks like an idiot but that bike is so ILL.

Heather set me up with an illicito to ride for the rest of the weekend so more to come on that. After the ride, we headed back to the cabin and then onto our next stop. Hub Endurance!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Team Evotri EPICAMP part I

Hello all you internet-dwellers,

I am in a much better mood since the last time we spoke. As some of you know, I recently got back from the Team Evotri camp in Chattanooga. Turns out that was what I needed to jumpstart my training. I am already feeling this will be a multi-part blog as I am starting to blubber and blabber like a teenage girl before homecoming.
Let me start by saying this team RULES. It is a hodgepodge of hilarious and very different people. It is the perfect mix and they are all the best. I was stoked for camp as I haven't seen the team in a while. This weekend was also the team's introduction to our new member and my best buddy, Matt Inch. The team was already amazing and now Matt's in? Come on, world... you are too good to me.
We all rolled into Chattanooga and headed to our cabin. Sweet found a cabin located slightly out of town and right on the Tennessee River. It was a log sort of cabin with a jacuzzi and a million rooms. Perfect. But don't take my word for it... look at the views:
The house would have made Shaq fire his realtor.

We started the weekend by heading out for a jog. We loosened up the legs and rolled through the backwoods of TN. In a one mile stretch, I would guess we saw something like 15-20 dogs which was odd/nice/loud. We also saw several houses with what Charlie deemed "eternal yard sales". The $#!@ was piled about as high as the house and was cascading down the backyard in some sort of unnatural, but still beautiful, garbagefall. Apparently this phenomenon is also called Tennessee runoff. I liked that. Not surprisingly, multiple dogs were hiding in the mounds of trash, ready to strike if you intruded on their territory.
After the jog, I floundered about in the river and posed for some glamor shots.

Next up was our much anticipated trip to the headquarters of Quintana Roo! That will have to wait, dear readers. I am getting sleepy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting off the ground

Thought I would check in as it has been a while. I sort of lose the will to blog when I am not smashing the training so that's the reason for sporadic writing. The year of the Dragon has been cruel to me. Call 911 cuz I need a Waaambulance.

I have started finally ticking it over for a couple weeks now and I think I have sorted out my injures to some degree. I have had it all this year. Broken wrist, torn hammy, knee troubles, bursitis, periformis issues, IT band problems, SI joint pain, and calf troubles. DAYYYUM. Most of that was minor but it all needed to be addressed so naturally training has been impacted.

Anyway, my last little twingy thing was some knee tendinitis coming flaring up mainly on the bike. I figured it was time to head back into Hypercat racing to get my position tweaked to fix the issue. I went to see the fit wizard, Phil Casanta and we quickly fixed the cleat position. We also had been discussing making a gearing change for about a year now and we finally swapped out my 53 tooth front chainring for a SRAM red 54 tooth ring.

This dinner plate essentially gives me a little more speed in every gear. I tested it out and it is stupid. I can grind out higher speed than I ever thought possible and it feels more efficient. I think it suits my riding style as I am a masher and it gives me extra gears in the tailwinds/ downhills.

I have tested it out in 2 workouts and immediately set a personal best. I went after it again to see the impact of the gear. I was noticing a difference cruising into a headwind and especially coming down slight hills. I felt like the gear was taking advantage of my strength on the bike, which is pushing a low cadence. I usually go around this loop in about 25.5 mph at best and I clocked in at 26.6 mph! Boom. I also did some super short intervals cruising up to 29-31 mph in the flats... Wow. I was stunned. It's like I went from a V6 to a V8. I can push so hard, I barely am sitting on the seat. I am hovering over it and all energy and bodyweight is going into moving the bike fast.

I am getting stoked for our upcoming Evotri team camp in Chattanooga. We will be visiting Hub endurance and Quintana Roo, which I am quite excited about. But more than that, I am pumped to get together with the team. Hopefully I will be injury free and can take advantage of some good training grounds too. More to come.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Charles Barkley

I am one week in and I am quickly realizing how much work needs to be done. The first 7 or so workouts have been banked and they have had some serious stank to them. It's kind of exciting being this out of shape. It has been a while and it has lit a fire under my behind. I talked to my buddy affectionately known as Larry Legend for his feathery hair and incredible Birdlike performances. He is planning on whipping my ass into shape and taunted me by calling me Shaq. How wrong he was... Right now I am Charles Barkley on a pizza bender.
How does that taste, Chuck? Like shame?

The thing about Sir Charles is he could turn ugly very quickly. That's what I'm about to do. I am about to do work in the paint. CHARLES UNLEASHED.


Things are about to get turrible around here really quick... well actually, it is going to take a considerable amount of time. But you get it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Starting from scratch

My wrist has finally healed and I am out of the cast just in time for my hamstring injury to properly stop my leg related exercising. Despite the annoyance of not being able to do my thang thang, I had to get back into swimming anyway. So since I couldn’t do any of the fun sports, I got into the pool. The swimming came back faster than usual which I am hoping goes for biking and running.

I am also taking out my frustration on medicine balls. Slams are the best release ever for the injured athlete. Throwing a ball as hard as you can over and over is the best. Outside of the pure anger of the motion, the best part is the dull unrewarding thud of the ball. There is no glory in slams… only the next slam. I have destroyed 3 medicine balls slamming them too hard which has been gratifying hassle for the sporting goods store. Balling also has been quite effective and, as a result, my core is stronger than usual. I look like pink, but I am way taller, a better singer, and a man.

My roommate, Becky, is a PT and has been scraping my hamstring. It’s an unpleasant process but speeds the healing. I started jogging lightly 3 days ago and I realized I literally have zero fitness. I feel like a combination of Cartman and porky pig. I am definitely behind the eight ball for this season, but it will be a long one and I will come back like the furious pigly thing that I am. Get ready for this swine to Ball OUT full force. More blogging to come as things are on the up on and up.

That's all folks.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Despair and Star Wars

And now for something completely different…

It has been a while since writing. This is mainly due to doing things other than the routine swim, bike, and run. The other things have captured my full attention. My triathlon lately has been drink scotch, play games, and eat loaves upon loaves of bread. Not surprisingly, I am really good at this new triathlon. Quite surprisingly, I am actually reasonably fit. I am considering writing a book about alternative triathlon training methods. I think people have got base training all wrong.

I am now playing soccer and I have been focusing on getting ready for the effort so I won’t be sore for a week after each game. My body has adapted really well to moving slowly in one line which lends itself to pitiful soccer skills. So I have been doing a lot of change of direction running, plyometrics, and core stuff to change my body up. Well, I am happy to report that my first game went well. We balled our way to a sweet victory and I scored 2 goals and had an assist. I am however quite unhappy to report that I broke my wrist in said game. I fell on the same wrist twice. On the positive side, the second time I demolished the wrist was on a lofty clean cross to an incredible header for a goal. I fell over onto my wrist as I crossed it but, in a way, the goal made it worth it. As I was laying on the ground, I winced and thought I had just sprained it really bad. I still had some semblance of range of motion in the joint. The thing swelled up quickly and started looking like a flesh balloon. A very painful flesh balloon.

The next day I headed to the urgent care as it had continued to expand. I promptly found out it was busted. Bummer. This has sidelined me for a while from swimming and my usual groove.

In the follow up soccer game, we smoked a bunch of whiners from Camarillo. We had no business beating them as they were dripping with talent but also oozing entitlement and so they blew it. Unfortunately this game caused a micro tear in my hamstring which has completely stopped my training and cast me into a depressed funk. As you all know, life is pretty pointless if you aren't running around for some self-imposed purpose. I have been a thoroughly worthless log this week. The only thing keeping me going is star wars related humor for some odd reason.