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Post Race Season Funk

September 29, 2013 3 comments

eeyore

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve done anything active at all.  The post race season funk has hit me hard, for sure!

I knew going into the race that I’d be taking a bit of time off after to relax and recover.  The first few days were full of aches and pains as I recovered from my longest race yet.  The biggest culprit were my trapezius muscles – partially from bad overall working-at-a-desk posture, but certainly aggravated during my swim.  I’ve had nearly constant headaches for the past 2 weeks from it, which are only now starting to die down.

Knowing that I’d be taking a few days weeks off from training post race, I also decided I needed to cut back my calories a bit.  Particularly my bad calories.  It started out as a full blown zero carb diet – that lasted about 2-3 days.  Who was I kidding?!?  But it’s evolved into a more reasonable low refined sugar, portion controlled, generally whole foods, (80% of the time) diet.  Yes, this has included giving up 1-2 cans of coke I was drinking each day.  Cold turkey.  I’m now 13 days caffeine free.  This probably also didn’t help the headaches the past week or two.  I was one grumpy S.O.B., that’s for sure!!!

What started out as a few days of recovery evolved into two weeks of laziness.  That’s the mistake I made, I suppose, giving myself permission to take a few weeks off – I took them, even when not needed.  No sense dwelling on it now – time to move forward…

Except I’m really struggling in how to move forward.  For the first time in roughly 18 months, I don’t have another race date on the calendar to train towards.  I don’t currently have any fall/winter runs lined up, and I haven’t given any thought to my 2014 season yet.

So what do I do?

My wife and I joined the YMCA this week – it’s starting to get colder here, and while running outside is usually still an option, it’ll be nice to take the bike and swim workouts indoors.  And holy crap do I need some strength training!!!  I’m looking forward to having a gym membership again.

But trying to make a training plan has been challenging without something to train towards.  How much should I train?  How often?  How long should my long runs and rides be stretched out to?  How many intervals do I need?  At a certain point it becomes paralysis by analysis.  For a lack of the right plan, I end up doing nothing.  I keep sitting on the couch under the guise of “recovery”.

At some point I need to get up off my ass and go for a run.  Who cares if it’s just a little 5k run?  Who cares if it’s training towards something, or simply keeping the body moving?  I don’t need to dive right back into a 2-a-day training plan, but I do need to get off the couch and do something – anything – to get me out of post race season funk.

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Race Recap: Lakeside Olympic Triathlon

September 17, 2013 7 comments

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Dave: 1  Course: 0

Okay – I don’t know if that’s really a fair assessment.  I should give the course a half point at least – it really did give me all the run for my money I could handle.  But I finished.  1.5km Swim, 40km Bike, 10km Run.  3 hours, 24 minutes, and 44.4 seconds.

I’m an Olympic Distance Triathlon Finisher!!!  And you know what? I really enjoyed it!

Let’s start at the beginning…

The alarm went off at 6:00am.  One of the beauties about races in September is that the sun rises a bit later, and so the race guns go off a bit later.  This one didn’t start until 9:00, and was an hour’s drive from my home.  I didn’t see a need to get up any earlier than that – which is very odd for race morning.

One of the not-so-beauties about races in September is that race morning can be bloody cold!  We woke up to 6° air temperature.  Brrrr.  I wasn’t in any hurry to swap my sweater for a sleeveless wetsuit.  My wife, however, was quick to steal the sweater for herself.  Spectator’s right, I guess.  At least I’d be racing – I’m sure she was pretty cold.

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The biggest challenge I had on race morning was my nutrition – this being my first race of this distance, I had no idea how much to eat.  Normally, before a sprint race, I eat a bagel with PB&J.  I decided 2 pieces of toast with PB&J for this race.  Next time I plan this a bit better… but more on that later…

The swim was in a small, shallow lake.  The course was two loops of a 750m swim, set up for the Sprint race the day before.  It looked like the 750m loop used up most of the lake.  But I think looking out at a 750m loop was less intimidating than seeing buoys 1,500m away.

The gun went off, and off we went.  The water was surprisingly warm given how cold the air was.  Possibly the warmest swim I’ve done all year (which isn’t saying much).  I find it hard to gauge – while swimming – how I’m doing relative to the field.  I’m sighting for the buoys, but otherwise unaware of how the race is going other than my feel of the water.  And I felt good.  I felt strong.  Even standing up in the shallows to round the start buoy and dolphin dive back out for loop 2 (which was odd) I was happy with my swim.

When I got out of the water at the end I discovered two things:

  1. I had easily PR’d my swim in 30:29, knocking over 6 minutes off my previous personal best 1,500m swim time, and a pace/100m PR that beats any shorter distance race I’ve ever swam.  Killed it!
  2. I had fallen well off the pack.  The bike racks were all empty already.  Even with my strong swim, I was on my own from here on out.

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The bike was a bit tougher.  It started right out of the gate, right at the mount line, where I seriously debated getting on the bike, or running into the bush to lose my breakfast.  The first 100m on the bike were slow and wobbly as I tried hard not to hurl in front of the cheering spectators (I was already the last one on the bike from my swim wave, after all, there’s a bit of pride to salvage here).  It took me a good full kilometer to get my stomach settled and my legs under me.  All I could think was “I wish I had just stuck to my bagel”.  But it passed quickly and it was Race On!

The course was a single loop circuit through farm country.  I realized how much I like out-and-back bike courses because I can see how far behind the leaders I am as they come back the other way.  No such luck this time – just me and my bike and the cows.  Here I really noticed the cold – riding, wet, in my sleeveless tri kit into a headwind.  By about kilometer 30 I was sure I’d caught a head cold (and sure enough, 2 days later, it’s still here).

The ride was a really fair ride – no massive hill climbs, but lots of significant rollers.  And the last 10k of the ride (where most of the rollers are) was straight into a headwind.  They told us in the pre race email: Don’t go out too hard, you’ll have nothing left in your legs for the run.  They told us again in the pre race meeting.  Did I listen?  Nope.

I biked a 1:31:26 (26.25km/hr avg) 40k.  Given the rollers, and the headwind, and my first time doing the distance after a swim I was happy with it.  My goal was to be between 1:30:00 and 1:40:00.

Little did I know, the race winner had already won before I was even off the bike.  Oh well.

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The run was a mixed bag.  It was two loops of a very hilly 5k out-and-back circuit.  My first quarter race felt amazing – I wasn’t wearing a GPS watch or anything, so I don’t know for sure how that split of my race went, but it felt fast.  My legs didn’t feel like bricks at all.  I felt like I could attack the hills.  I felt like I was out doing a tempo training run.  I felt great – apart from a bit of stiffness in my lower back from 90 minutes on the bike that is.

Then I hit the climb right before the turn around point.  And.  I.  Just.  Tanked.  7.5km to go still and I slowed right down.  Walking felt fine – nothing hurt.  But I just couldn’t run for more than about 100m.  Again, nothing hurt, but my body wouldn’t respond.  I felt crazy-hungry.  I kept thinking “I wish I ate more than those 2 pieces of toast”.   I started to get a headache.  I drank water and HEED at every aid stop.  The mental battle was on “C’mon legs – run to the next tree… run to the next fence post…”.  I was moving in 100m bursts.

I made it back to the 5km loop, back to the crowds and the noise of transition.  I saw my wife there cheering me on – I needed that support to turn around and head back out again.

Back out into the countryside I went.  I kept willing myself to keep going – 100m at a time.  At least the few racers still out there were in the same boat as me.  Lots of fist bumps and encouraging words as we passed each other.  Everyone just trying to finish.  100m at a time.

For as much as I walked, my run wasn’t as bad as it could have been: 1:18:19 (7:49min/km).  I mean, that’s a number I’m not happy with, I need a lot of work on my running, but while on the course I thought it would be much worse.

My total time was 3:24:44.4 – good enough for 9th out of 9 in my Age Group.  To have even finished 8th in my AG I would have had to shave a full 45 minutes off of my time.  Seriously not with my peers – M30-34 is a tough AG.  But 150/155 overall isn’t as embarrassing… I guess?  Whatever, I don’t care.  I finished.  I’m actually really happy and proud of that.  And now I have a baseline for future Olympic distance races!!

With that, my 2013 race season is in the books.  I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll have lots of Looking Back and Looking Forward thoughts, but for now I’m putting my feet up and enjoying a few weeks of not-so-active recovery.

Welcome to the Off Season!

Friday Stray Thoughts

September 13, 2013 2 comments

Friday

Image by Glenn McCoy

Happy Friday everyone!  For those of you looking for a little light lunchtime internet distraction to tide you over until quitting time, here’s a Few Stray Thoughts for your Friday Afternoon

This week – a shout out to all the family and friends who support us through this crazy-assed thing we do called a sport…

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triathlon_widow_coffee_mug_funny_giftwww.zazzle.ca

I shared this link with my wife, and any of you who race should share it with your partners and family too.  Or maybe your friends who don’t understand “I can’t tonight – I have a long run in the morning”: The Triathlon Widow, courtesy of Tri Wives Club:

From Urban Dictionary (via the link above):

“A triathlete is any person who was once human, but has now transformed into something super-human, and can no longer hang out with other mere mortals.  They must spend all their spare time swimming, biking, running, and shaving themselves in order to keep their new-found sport god status.  During this time, they are technically still married, but their wife/husband considers them dead due to their lack of normal human function.

Note:  The spouse is only considered a triathlon widow during the time the triathlete is spending all their spare time training, racing, shaving, or thinking about their multi-sport addiction in general.

How to use in a sentence:  I’m a triathlon widow this weekend.  My husband is gone from our family for 3 days to do an Iron Man race 5 states away.  Yes, he had to pay to be in it, and no he does not win anything.”

Cheers to everyone who puts up with me (and every other triathlete out there) during race season… or training season… or any season for that matter…

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spectators

Attending a race as family or friend of a racer is a skill.  From waking up at stupid o’clock, to spending the morning with an anxious racer while you’re clinging to your coffee, to several hours keeping yourself occupied in some random park while your racer is on course, to driving home with a tired racer who wants to be appreciative (but also really wants to sleep).  It takes commitment.  It takes dedication.  Luckily the Tri Wives Club has given us a great guide to The Sport of Spectating.  Some great tips here – particularly the tribag.  Definitely worth the read… if you happen to know a racer and ever might want to go cheer them on… ya know… like this weekend… hint hint…

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Sign

And what’s a race without a few funny spectator signs.  Spectators are the life of the race – serious love for everyone who comes to cheer on the athletes (even if you’re not there to cheer me, I still find it motivating).

– – – – –

Have a great weekend everybody!  Good Luck to everyone racing this weekend!!!

In 4 days…

September 11, 2013 6 comments

triathlon-start

In 4 days I will be racing my first Olympic distance triathlon at Lakeside

In 4 days (and a few hours) my 2013 triathlon season will be finished…

In 4 days, I expect to be pretty damn tired!

I’m having really conflicting thoughts about the upcoming race.  I’m really excited to tackle my first Olympic distance – it’s going to be really amazing to say I completed 1.5km/40km/10km all in a single race.  I’ve made great progress this year.  I know I’ve dropped a bit of weight, and certainly added strength and speed.  I feel faster, and fitter, and healthier than I have since I was a teenager – it’s amazing.  And I’ve shown myself how much I love this sport – I really do.  I knew starting this year, signing up for so many races that I’d either love the sport, or leave it.  I can’t wait to tackle 2014!

At the same time, I’m really burnt out.  After doing a single race in 2011 and 2012, 10 was a bit much to take on in 2013.  And as much as I know I’ve improved, I haven’t improved as much as I had hoped I would.  I’m not sure how much was the length of the season (the physical grind, and the mental grind), or the recent move taking up a lot of time lately, or unreasonable expectations, or just old lazy bad habits sinking back in, but my training has really slowed down in the last month.  I can’t wait for this race to be over and to take a few weeks off from training (not just “not training” – I miss training sessions all the time – but honestly, planned, guilt-free time off).

This is not going to be the Big Finish, Personal Best, ‘A’ Race I thought it would be at the start of the season.  This is going to be an ugly fight of a race.  But I’m still going to race it, and enjoy it, and be crazy proud when it’s done!

I have no question I can do this, but I’m still a bit nervous tackling a new distance for the first time.

More than anything else, my goal is to finish and to enjoy the race and the experience.  As a secondary goal, I want to have a strong run.  I’m deliberately not quantifying this – I’m not particularly concerned about the pace.  I want to feel at the end of the race like I pushed through the physical and mental barriers (particularly the mental barriers) from the swim and bike, and ran a strong 10km.  I want to say I raced the best damn race I could for the fitness level I have – and remember the hard work I have put in this year to get me here.

In 4 days I will have raced an Olympic Distance Triathlon…

In 4 days I will have a PB time…

In 4 days I expect to pretty damn excited!

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Moving and The Iron Pig

September 4, 2013 1 comment

Moving Boxes

I’ve been off the grid for nearly the past week as we moved from Toronto ON to Kitchener-Waterloo ON.  It feels like a home coming – my job is in KW, my wife and I met and went to school here.  My life is here.  But that doesn’t make moving any less of a beast of a job!

I haven’t had a lot of time for training in the past few days.  I suppose I could have prioritized it more, but that would have taken time away from packing and unpacking.  And I really just want to get the house settled.  Thank goodness for our MacGyver friends who were able to get our box springs (and our couch) up to the upper floors through the windows!

MovingBoxSpringWhile not getting out much for ladder swim sets or brick runs, I have been reunited with my Hybrid bicycle, which has been in storage (or disuse) for nearly 2 years.  My wife gets primary use of the car for her program, and we’re trying to avoid becoming a 2-car family, so I want to bike commute as much as I can.  And I dislike commuting on my road bike – they’re great for racing, but I worry it’ll be damaged or stolen when locked up, or that my route might end up off of well paved roads.  And cycling shoes are a pain when running errands.  So the Hybrid and I are becoming reacquainted.

What a pig it is!  Okay – context matters here: it’s a pig in comparison to my fast, light, fitted road bike – which I’ve gotten quite used to in the two years my Hybrid has been in storage.  And that’s not what this bike is designed to be – it’s designed to get you around town for a lot less money than a racing bike.  It’s actually really good for what it’s designed for – I’d recommend it for anyone looking for something a little nicer than a Walmart bike.  But my legs have become accustomed to my road bike – and comparatively, this thing is a slow, heavy pig.

In fact this morning, during my first 13.2km (per direction) bike commute to work, while struggling to hammer my heavy Hybrid up a hill, I decided it needs a name:  It’s now The Iron Pig.

I think I’m going to enjoy commuting on The Iron Pig.  It sure beats the 70+km commute I did from Hamilton, or the congestion of downtown Toronto.  And while I wouldn’t call it training in the purest definition – more like cardio cross training – it’s a bit of extra time on the bike every day.  And will continue to be time on the bike every day after the race season is over.  26km/day is nothing to sneeze at – especially when that’s on top of your daily training plans (or lack thereof).  Plus, there’s something really satisfying about riding a bike to work – I’ll take the morning air over a seat in a car any day.

Do you commute to work?  Could/Would you commute to work?  Why or Why not?

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