Sunday, July 17, 2016

I'm not like everyone else...I'm worse

I'm like everyone else. Well, actually I'm way worse. I berate myself for every workout or lack of workout I've done. Are the training events too intense? Not intense enough? Am I fit enough? Too fat? Am I tired, run down or just being lazy? In the cycling/swimming/triathlete world I am not the exception to the rule...I'm just better at self doubt than most. 

But, it's always about learning and getting better. I have been struggling to get back in some type of training rythm and was hoping to get a real long run in today. How long? 7 miles sounded good on paper. But, after realizing I was a lil smoked from yesterday's swim and that the day was getting hotter than expected, I cut the run to 5 miles and I throttled back to a 8:55 pace to get through it. Then, taking the time to walk, stretch and cool off post run rather than just stopping. Little things, little wins.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

You can't start over...unless you actually wipe the slate clean.

The problem with starting all over is its impossible unless you wipe the slate clean. I normally show (1) in my posts, but I normally run tired and driven by my brain (2), when I should be just listening to my body (3) with every workout. Even though I tell everyone else that after you have a layoff you need to ease yourself back in and old times/speeds don't count...I am always holding myself to old times and speeds...not listening to my body...and ending up more workout or injured because of it. Ya, I know, insert eye roll there. So even though I had hoped to get a 6 miler in today, the heat and the ride from yesterday seemed to take a took its toll so I decided to cut the run short. A smart move and one that I rarely do. Normally I just tell myself "toughen up p**sy" and fight through it in order to get the mileage on the schedule...regardless of how detrimental it might be, because I'm trying to get all my fitness back in one session. Yes, I know how dumb that sounds but somehow it makes sense in my head. It's always about learning and growing as an athlete. Who knows, maybe I finally am?!

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Active recovery" is still recovery right?

I wasn't happy with yesterday's race. I honestly don't know what I expected after not racing for a year but after getting passed on the bike...a few times, I decided it was time to spend some more time with rubber on asphalt.

I know that the day after a race should be a rest/recovery but my bike was still in my truck and it was a gorgeous New England day, so rather than take a rest day I hit the road.

I also thought I'd just take it easy and enjoy the ride...but if you know me, you know that wasn't what happened at all. A hard 20 miler on the Cervelo S5. My legs are gassed and I need a nap but it was great to get out and get a good ride in.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Worcester TriFest Duathlon...its just like...getting back on a bike

Because duathlon setups are so easy!
Because nothing says welcome back to your first week of solid a a race (insert eye roll here)! I honestly am just not that smart some days...well, most days. The Worcester TriFest Duathlon was today. Since I haven't put rubber on pavement in a year and it was pouring rain I opted to go with my Cervelo S5 over my Cervelo P2. The thought was it would give me better control and be a lot more responsive on bad road conditions.

I had a lot of internal agitation about racing. I haven't been training with any frequency (tons of contributing factors ranging from health to work to personal lack of motivation) and didn't know how bad the race was gonna be. I'm also accustomed to doing well at races and the thought of coming in dead last was not an appealing one...partly because I never want to be that person and partly because of the toll on my psyche. But I signed up for this race 3 months ago (honestly thinking I'd be in tip top shape by now) and couldn't stomach a DNS more than being DFL.
I honestly spent a day ripping my apartment apart just trying to get all my multisport gear together! I figured if nothing else I'd just go into it as a training event rather than a "race". Better to use a real race as training session to get back into the habit of multisport racing with transitions and such. Ya, it would become quickly evident I'm not practiced with this later on.

1 mile run - 6:55, 6:55min/mi pace
The run started on the beach (joint start for the event, triathletes one way and duathletes the other) and I thought I'd just jog the first mile...but then I realized it was a race...and needed to get in front of people. Coming into T1 after that effort, I was a little gassed. I mean duh, I haven't turned a sub 7 mile at a race in any shape form or fashion in a while.

T1 - 1:39
After that effort from the run I decided to just catch my breath and get my cycling gear on. Speaking of, remember the "I tore my house apart to find gear"? Well, I thought that since the weather was going to be bad and I haven't been on my tri bike yet, that my Cervelo S5 would be the better choice. Only problem is I changed pedals on my S5 and the cleats required is not the same as my tri bike. So, my easy on-off tri shoes wouldn't work so I had to grab my road shoes. They work fine but were a lot harder to get on in transition.

10.5 mile bike - 39:33, 16mph
So it was pouring rain and the course was hilly. My only plan was to to attack the uphills, use the downhills (which I guess I did well because at one point I hit 43 mph going by several people on tri bikes) and see how it goes. The plan was to use the course to shake out the bike and train...until I got passed..and then I got passed again. Ya, that was no fun at all.

T2 - 1:37
As a testament to the fact that I haven't done a multisport race in a while, this should've been a 30 second transition but just the mechanics off getting cycling gear off (those aforementioned road shoes kicked my butt) and run gear on proved to be a challenge.

3.1 mi run - 27:15, 8:47
Around the first 1.5 miles of the run was uphill...including 4 sets of stairs (come on, that's just mean) that I knew was coming, but I was nowhere near prepared for. All I kept telling myself was "get to the top and catch your breath", which sounded great in my head but in practical application...not so much.

Ya, remember my getting passed on the bike? That happened to me time and time again on the run. I know I shouldn't be upset since this was the first multisport race in a year...and I haven't been training with any frequency in as long, but it stung nonetheless. Once I got to the "flat" leading to the finish I just tried to give it all I had to cross the line, which was also on a bit of an uphill (that's just mean) and finish the day.

Although the initial plan was o use the race as a "training event", it quickly turned into just another race day filled with max effort and dissatisfaction. Due to the bad weather and a small field my 1:17:00 was good enough for first in my age group. I battle with the thought of "that's not too bad considering you haven't been training and racing" and "how are you in this kind of shape and this point in the year". Well, I spent most of the day red-lined and it hurt like a motherf'er but it did feel really good to be back racing. Now to make sure its not a year before my next one. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I love you fuelforfire...let me count the ways.

Okay, so a key part of training, racing and recovery is...eating! No, I'm not even talking about the "proper balance of micros"...I mean literally getting food into your pie hole and then onto your belly!

I seem to be in the minority of multisport athletes I know in that I just don't eat enough, often enough OR the proper amount of macros (protein, carbohydrates, fats) in order to fuel or recover from training or racing. Most of my athlete friends complain that given any moment during a training cycle and especially after a race, they would happily consume half a side of beef...and then the other side if possible. Or literally fight themselves to not eat everything in sight  all the time. That however is not me, nor has it ever been me. I'm the guy that no matter how hungry, small portions fill me up quickly. I try to force myself to eat or eat more and it just makes my belly bloat and makes me feel sluggish.

So, in order to fuel I need to graze all day by eating small portions of palette pleasing and nutrient dense foods. Enter...(angels singing)...fuel for fire. I got turned onto this product last year and can't get enough of it! Each 4.5 oz packet (the perfect size to fit in your gym bag, transition bag, jacket or car) is only 100 calories and has 10 grams of whey protein. With flavors like: Sweet Potato Apple, Mixed Berry, Tropical and Banana Cocoa (my personal favorite) there's something for anyone to like when it comes to taste. As for consistency and mouth feel, think of a cross between apple sauce and pudding. It makes it easy to squeeze/suck out of the single serving packets and swallow (keep your dirty thoughts to yourself). It's easy on the stomach, obviously because of that ingredient list...ya, all natural there! You can find out more about fuelforfire here or you can look for it at your local grocery store or health food store (or you can look for places to buy on the website). Have you tried fuelforfire? Yes, then let me know in the comments below. If you haven't and this review got you to try some, let me know what you think!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Guinness Celtic gotta start somewhere

Well, you've gotta start somewhere...and today was the day for me. Forgive me competition gods, its been MONTHS since my last race.

Over the last 12-18 months my training and specifically my racing has waned partly due to my health issues, partly due to my listening to everyone tell me I train too much/too hard and partly because my thought that if I'm not going to do well...why pay money to go do a race at all. But the only way you get back on the proverbial horse is to climb your butt back up there.

Today's Guinness Celtic 5k, a race I've loved and ran for years seemed like just the event to break my cherry. Its a relatively flat out and back course (they shut down a 6 line highway so you get 3 lanes worth down and 3 lanes worth back) with a slight downhill to the turn. I've turned a sub 19:30 5k on this course so I figured I could maybe harness some mojo. At the very least I know the course really well and that would help with being anxious. This race normally has way over a thousand entrants so I tried to pt myself in about the first quarter of the field. The thought was it would make me slower and my normal jack rabbit take off would be in check and I wouldn't get burned out before the first mile. Hmmm. 

The gun goes off and I spend the first mile just weaving in and out of people trying to find clean pavement to run and hit the first mile marker at 7;28. Not fast by any means but at least I wasn't gassed out already. Now it was all about trying to find a decent rhythm/turnover/pace for the rest of the race. Did I mention its been months since I raced? So I get to the turn and and start the slight uphill back. I hit the second mile marker on a 7:43. I was hoping I'd stay closer to a 7:30 but could already feel my legs and knew there was a "just bear down and get through it moment"coming...and it came a few hundred meters into mile three. There's a little kicker rise and then it flattens out to the finish. All I cold think was "if I'm not about the throw up, I'm not working hard enough".  

I crossed the finish line in  24 minutes flat (7:44 pace) officially. That was way off my PR on the course (19:45) but hopefully I'll just keep getting faster now that I'm cleared by the docs to get back to heavy training and racing again. Its certainly eye opening to feel what you think is max effort...only to see that pace is no where near what you max effort used to be. Well, back to the track and speed workouts for me...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A stroll, well more like a stumble, down memory lane

Digging through photos and photo albums to put together images for a family member's present, I came across this lot of pictures. Hard to believe that it was a whole TWENTY FOUR years and SEVENTEEN marathons ago I crossed the finish line of my first marathon!

Why did I do it? Well on a dare/challenge of course. My battalion commander at the time challenged us to run a marathon with him. By that he meant enter, start and finish a marathon he would be running because if memory serves, none of us saw him until the finish. Ya, as a 40+ year old guy I think he ran that marathon on a sub 7:45 pace and was grinning like a Cheshire cat as each of us dragged our asses across the finish line. 

He was fond of saying running, and marathons specifically, were the best metaphor for life: it takes great preparation, you can't cut corners, you need a good plan and focused execution in order to finish it successfully. Hmm, I had none of those! I went into that marathon with only a 12 miler as my longest run. I was only logging 25-30 miles a week going into it and I got the experience the "wall" first hand...and in great depth. Even now I remember making a deal with myself that "if I finish this damn race, I'll never do another one"...sadly, a deal I think I've made with myself at some point in EVERY marathon I ever started. But, but, but, that first marathon taught me so much and as my battalion commander said "once you finish one, you know you can always finish another".
 SO true! Sometimes just having the experience of knowing you've gotten through something like that gives you the mental toughness of knowing you can do that and a whole lot more. I wouldn't say that first marathon cemented my love of running...but I will say it taught me to enjoy pain. Does that make sense? Did you have any pearls of wisdom or learning from your first marathon?