Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My computer is thinking. I'm trying not to...

So I already mentioned the practice tri on Saturday. I enjoyed it. I did well. There's no reason at all to think I won't cross the finish line at Pac Grove. So why am I nervous?

I think because it's almost zero-hour. This Saturday is the Iron Mountain brick, by all accounts the nastiest, gnarliest (yes, that's the Southern Californian in me coming out, dude) workout we'll do. The rite of passage for all us newbies.

The last donations are goin in; the fundraising is done. (Thank you, everyone. Seriously. I couldn't have made it here without you.) We're wrapping up our coached workouts, and it's getting on time to check our lines one last time and step into the lights.

All I have to do now is heal up the blisters, clean the bike (after the big ride, of course), and not do anything too silly between now and the 8th of September. Sounds simple enough, right?

Ah well, enough of that. This is the problem with the microphone. You tend to say things so people can hear. I think I need to go to bed, I'm starting to ramble.

One last thing before I go. Here's an action shot from this weekend's race. They even got the side where my shoe was on.

Damn it all, I was gonna throw up another one, but I left it on my other computer...


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Breaking the seal

This whole race thing is starting to get a little more real. Four months of training, watching a couple of tris, I've learned a lot, but it has all been largely academic. Now, not so much.

Yesterday we ran a "practice tri," which turned out to be a race a little shorter than a sprint, but complete with transitions and rules and a marked course and all that. It broke down into a 300 meter swim, 11 mile bike and 2 mile run. I finished in 1:05:06. I screwed up my splits, but I know that I did the swim in 6:35, and the run in 18:32, which is about a minute slower than I should have. The big hole was on my bike ride.

I felt like I was hammering hard and going fast, but several people from the team flew by me like I was stopped. In replaying the race in my head, I think I need to work on shifting and learning how to stay in the optimal gear, to preempt the lag in cadence that says the road has changed and missed it. I also need to get my shoes on faster. I lost some time working on that. Live and learn. Race again and do it better next time, right?

Pac Grove is now just over three weeks away. Who knows what race day will bring, but I think I'm ready for it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Random Thoughts, Though They Make Sense In My Head

Since I've been training for this race, and will soon run it, I suppose it's safe to say that I'm well on my way to becoming an endurance athlete. This is cool for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when someone tells me they'll pledge some amount per mile, I get to see the look on their face when I say the race is a little over 30 miles.

Another cool thing is that by the time race day rolls around, I'll actually be able to do this. My ankle is just about 100% again, and if I can survive Coach G's last minute attempts to change my stroke, I should be good.

The thing about endurance sports, they're all about slow twitch muscle. This is ironic because I've always been fine with slow twitch sports and for the last few years I've been training my body for fast twitch activities like surfing and sand volleyball. Along comes triathlon and undoes all of that in three months. This is how I choose my hobbies; logically and with an eye to what I've already prepared myself to accomplish.

I played in a teammate's volleyball tournament yesterday. It was for Team In Training, and it was fun, but by the end of five games of doubles with players who were way out of my league...

Let's just say that I wound up feeling like I'd been beaten with rocks and left in a 400 degree oven to bake up a nice golden brown. Seriously, that was WAY HARDER than the 25 mile bike ride or the transition practices, or the ocean swims, or...well, than pretty much any of the tri workouts that preceded it.

Anyway, it was good fun and everyone I played with was very tolerant and cool. They didn't seem to mind me playing albatross to their mariner for the duration of the game. (That's right, a Samuel Taylor Coleridge reference in a triathlon blog. Does that blow your mind?)

I did learn something though, apart from the fact that my v-ball game has departed for parts unknown. What I learned is this: fast twitch or slow twitch muscle, if you fling it at the ground hard enough and often enough, it's gonna hurt the same.

What was it Douglas Adams said about flying? All you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss. If I figure that out, maybe I'll take up basketball.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

You'll have to forgive me

I think I'm going to be serious for a minute, but don't worry, it probably won't last.

I had a bit of a scare over the last week or two. I couldn't run. I'd take off running and within a few hundred yards, my Achilles Tendon would seize up. It felt like someone had driven a nail through my ankle. I'd have to stop and stretch, then walk a bit. On our last Lake Hodges brick, we had a four mile run and I couldn't do it. I walked almost the whole thing. The next Tuesday, I fought my way through track practice, but I thought my ankle was just going to tear itself apart.

Anyway, I tried to run on it a couple more times and it just kept getting worse. I finally had to go to the doctor. After a few days on anti-inflammatories and a strict stretching and ice regimen (not to mention a week of no running) I'm almost back to normal. I was beating my pace tonight (one mile in 8:20 or so, which is 15 seconds faster than my race pace), and I only hurt when I lost my concentration and let my stride fall into heel-striking.

The scariest thing about this is not the injury, which turns out to be a minor strain, probably an overuse injury, but rather its proximity to race day. As of tomorrow we are exactly one month from zero-hour. The thought that I might be hindered on race day, or even worse, unable to complete the run, had me anxious and pissed. To have trained this hard and have it slip...

Thankfully, I'm gonna be fine. It does drive home the point that you are only as strong as your weakest link. the smallest crack in the wall can bring you down. This one was my fault. I charged a little too hard and I didn't recover properly between sessions. Add that to the general stress of life lately, with fundraising and all the insanity at work (stupid jobs, getting in the way of training) and you've got a recipe for disaster.

I'm sure my body tried to tell me something was wrong, but I didn't listen. And that's the moral of this story: no matter what you think you are capable of, nothing can run at 100% every hour of every day and not break down.

That's it for now, take care of yourselves, get some rest, eat your vegetables, stay in school, all that stuff. I'm gonna go veg in front of the TV for a while. Maybe I'll be back later to tell you how I spent a few minutes last Saturday on my back, clipped to my pedals, with the bike sticking straight up into the air and my water bottle rolling down the highway.