Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Race #9 of the Season: TriRock Colorado Olympic

As you probably alluded to in my previous post, this race sucked, and sucked hard.

In fact, I don't want to write this post. Not at all. I'm ashamed of myself. But ... maybe if I write this and get it the fuck out of my system, I can move on. I already got myself back on the Aurora hills this morning, essentially riding most of that course again. So to purge this race, and press reset, and start anew. 

Let's do this shit ...

I knew this race would be awful. I think Brandon being around the day before and a bit the morning of didn't help either. I've discussed at length here how him not training/racing with me this year has really started to affect me. Him being around essentially for race day? Brutal.

I closed the night before, so an 11pm bedtime awaited me as well as a 4am wake-up call. I got most of my stuff sorted and packed before I went to bed.

Alarm came on way too early and I was up to get ready, pack up the car, get my hydration sorted, eat breakfast and get out the door. Parking opened at 5; transition at 5:30. I got there about 5:20ish and people were already setting up their bikes in trans. I got set up - we had set spots on the racks - saw Richard (not racing, but working) and Carlos (racing) as well as Kristen (racing). I went down to the actual bathrooms to take my pre-race poop - the bleach smell in the bathrooms about made me puke. I seriously came very, very close. Not pleasant.

Looking back on it, I was slightly anxious all morning, but I don't think I acknowledged it to myself that day. I stayed in transition long enough to talk to Brandon before I left to get in a small pre-race swim before the race started (I was the first wave). Aurora Reservoir was cold as per usual, but it warmed up even quicker than at Crescent Moon, so that was nice.

The Swim:

The start was a bit like Arizona in that we had to swim out to it a bit. The cannon went off and so did we. 

So I've always thought it would be nice for the buoys to be labeled with distance in a race, so you had an idea of how far you've gone/still had to go. TriRock actually had this ... and let me tell you - it's horrible. It was fine going out, but on the bottom side of the triangle and the way back? Ugh, it was just hard to see 900m at one point. Really? Are you serious?!? I never looked at my watch (won't make that mistake again), but it just felt like the swim dragged.

I did try to draft off feet/boardshort a few people for a little bit and it kind of worked, but clearly not well enough as the swim was utter shit and I think my slowest Olympic distance swim. Great.

I also totally felt my wetsuit chafe the back of my neck. Also fantastic.

Time: 44:13 (pace: 2:57/100m; rank: 147th overall, 65th gender, 15th division)


Stupid long run up to transition. Had arm coolers, but didn't bother with them. Otherwise, I like T1. T1 is simple.

Time: 3:06 (rank: 56th, 32nd, 7th)

The Bike:

What was good about the ride:
- no shifting issues like at Crescent Moon
- really learning to make the bike do the work in terms of shifting/gearing
- my cornering is really coming around
- did a great job of keeping hydrated
- averaging an 85 cadence on those stupid hills
- 39.0 mph max on one of the downhills

What wasn't good about the ride:
- the lack of strength on the hills that really showed up about 16 miles in
- the other riders who didn't know how to stay to the damn right. DON'T RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN ROAD, PEOPLE.
- stupid hill back into transition, preventing you from spinning out your legs
- the breakdown I had mentally

Time: 1:36:57 (pace: 15.3 mph; rank: 124th, 46th, 11th)


Chose not to BodyGlide my toes. Got blisters as a result. Never not doing this again.

Time: 1:48 (rank: 100th, 37th, 7th)

The Run:

As I posted on Monday, I mainly had three thoughts during the run: 
- I want shade
- I want (ice cold) water
- I want to curl up and cry

I developed these thoughts about two miles in. 

I usually pride myself on my mental game, but it was completely gone. Nowhere to be seen. My toes hurt, my lungs hated me, my legs hurt, wah wah wah. Usually, I can push a lot of this out of my mind (okay, not the lungs; they dictate my life) and still manage to run a decent amount. I've had hot, miserable runs in tris before and still have managed to push through (see: Boulder 70.3 last year).

Not this time. Not this year. I contemplated turning in my chip at least a half-dozen times. I didn't - Brandon says it's because I'm not a quitter and it's even on my RoadID ... which I probably should have looked to for inspiration, come to think of it - but oh man was that the first time I seriously considered it. I also decided that maybe pulling out of Harvest Moon was the best course of action, because could I honestly pull off a course about twice as long in six weeks?

I finally let myself cry at the turnaround - which meant walking for a good while for sure since crying means I can't really breathe which in turns mean I really can't run. I did have one decent stretch of running after that thanks to a woman in an RMTC kit who helped me through a patch, but it wasn't enough to sustain me through. I essentially power-walked the rest of the course, passing other walkers in the process.

I was able to cross the finish line in my usual manner - running and running the strongest all segment. I got my medal, got my chip taken off, got a cold-ish bottle of water, took my finisher's photos (where I look absolutely miserable), found a shady spot ... and sat down and cried.

Time: 1:21:11 (pace: 13:06/mi; rank: 150th, 66th, 15th)

They had something where you could print out your results, but I didn't even want to know. I didn't figure out how badly I'd done until sometime Monday. Worst Olympic tri ever, worst 10k run time ever ... least fun in a tri since at least Tri for the Cure 2008 ... but probably ever.

Overall Stats:
Time: 3:47:17
144/161 overall
62/70 females
14/15 division (F30-34)

I tried to eat post-race - Noodles mac and cheese! It's delicious! - but couldn't force down more than a few bites. I hung out with Richard and Carlos for a bit and enjoyed probably the best part of the morning.

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Recovery boots!

It's my fault this race went so poorly. It's now up to me to make sure that Harvest Moon isn't quite as abysmal.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Results Don't Lie

First off, the husband actually posted on this thing, so if you haven't read his post yet, check it out - it's right below this one.

In any case, there's a saying that floats about the interwebs:

Don't be upset with the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do.

Don't be upset with the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do.

I have to tell myself this a lot today. Go look on over to that racing season sidebar, and look at the result of TriRock Colorado. Then go look at the T's Races tab and see where that sits in terms of my olympic distance races. Then maybe go find my goals post for this year.

Then you can partly see why I hate myself right now.

I'll post more about the actual race later this week, but it was horrible. My three thoughts during the run were:
- I want shade
- I want ice cold water
- I want to curl up and cry

In fact, I did cry on that "run" several times. It was the least fun I've had at a tri in six years.

But ... it's my own damn fault.

I knew I had it coming up. I knew my training was shit. I hoped it wouldn't be that bad ... but it was. Aurora keeps you honest. Those hills, that heat ... it beats you down. Hopefully I can take this experience and use it to build myself back up again, but I'll tell you ... it's hard as hell right now. It's taking every ounce of energy to keep eating well and not eat my feelings of miserable hell right now. I'm telling myself I can't make a decision on Harvest Moon long course for at least another week or so. (Convinced myself at one point during TriRock to not even toe the line in September.)

I didn't do the work. I shouldn't be upset with the results, but I am. Or maybe it's more that I'm pissed at myself for not doing the work. Hopefully that dissatisfaction will eventually turn into anger to fuel me to train, but for right now, it's making me want to quit the sport I'm that miserable.

Where I'm at (bluntly)

I'm a candid guy, and am comfortable being honest with myself.  I don't hold back when describing the shortcomings of others; nor do I hold back in evaluating myself.

Here's an evaluation of 2014 thus far.

It sucks.

On multiple fronts.

Early in the year, I was still riding the high from Ironman and fitness simply was not a priority.  I found ways to make excuses for not working out, and while my stress level/workload at work was increased due to my new role as Captain, I found every convenient excuse to not work out/exercise.  Simply put, it was not a priority.

Around March, I transferred bases to Kansas City.  This meant a much easier commute, flying out of Denver, and ultimately, the opportunities to work out ramped up.  I took advantage, swimming a bit more and running a lot.  It almost seemed that I was getting back on track.  The question is, what was I getting back on track for?

The answer?  Nothing.  

I've done at least one triathlon every year since 2009.  Triathlon has defined who I am for years.  At my previous airline, I was knows as "The FO who runs" because on every overnight, I didn't go to bars/restaurants with crews until my workout was done.  Working out and fitness was who I was.  The thing is though, I was always training for something.  I was always striving towards a race goal, or increasing my fitness.  This year, 2014?  Not.  Nothing.  It became working out for working out.  Work didn't help with that, but more on that in a bit.

Fast forward to about a month ago.  I went into O2EA, which is run by our friend Richard, who is a personal trainer and 2x Ironman finisher (soon to be 3x).  He's become quite the good friend since we met last year, and he's quite the inspiration.  He did a body evaluation of both T and I, and let's just say the results were eye opening, both in good ways and bad ways.

I have almost no fat in my upper body.  My arms are damn near perfect.  My core is surprisingly strong, and let's just say that was a pleasant surprise.  My legs are weaker then they should be, and like most Americans, I carry the majority of my fat in my belly.  Richard said my visceral fat levels are good, but I am severely dehydrated.  Also, I'm about 10-15 lbs over what he wants me to be at for racing (weight 205, so 190-195 for racing).  

I guess this was sort of a wake-up call, and my cycling/lifting/swimming has ramped up.  That's good news.  The bad news?  My work/life balance has been a ginormous struggle.  Let me explain.

When I upgraded to captain, it was the first time in 30 years of living that I have made significant money.  I'm not bragging; it's just reality.  My income literally doubled overnight.  Suddenly, bills were never an issue, going out to (slightly) more expensive dinners was doable, and other things.  Yet those who know me know I am not the kind of guy to suddenly indulge in luxuries.  No, to me, making more money simply allows more practicality in my life.  My 401K contributions skyrocketed, our savings in our joint account doubled, debt began to get chopped down.  I finally, after 7 years in the airline industry, began to see the fruits of my labor, so to speak.

So as a guy who has been scraping along for years as a pilot, barely getting ahead, where one setback could set me back for years, it was nice.  And as 2014 went on, I thought, "might as well work as hard as I can, try to drive up the credit as much as possible, and make as much as I can."

Bad idea.

I've been exhausted.  Plain and simple, I've been exhausted.  And for the first time in our 6 years of being together, T and I were having problems.  Nothing serious, just realizing that I was becoming one of those guys who put work ahead of the relationship.

Last month, I saw how much I credited.  Like a kid who doesn't know he's hurt until he sees the wound, I was stunned.  105 hours of credit, 84 of which was flying.  I almost collapsed.  Right in the middle of the Denver Airport, I almost collapsed.  When I got home, I curled up into the fetal position on my bed and just didn't move.  I didn't realize how much I had been killing myself at work, and was miserable beyond miserable.  T and I weren't sure what was happening, but a short time later, we agreed that I had a mental breakdown.  

The balance between life and work seemed impossible to figure out.  I had tried slowing down in the month of May and not working as much.  Didn't work.  I tried working as much as possible to make as much money as possible.  Didn't work.  It seemed there was no way to happiness.  

Then T had a simple solution: I am enough

Even at 75 hours of guaranteed pay, we make enough money.  Even though I'm not training for anything specifically, I am enough.  Whatever work out I can squeeze in, mentally, it's enough.  Whatever I do, it is enough.  At this time, at this juncture, everything I do, it is enough.  I am enough.

She's right.

Today, July 21st, I am feeling a bit better about my body (though the journey is still going to be long in recovering), I am drinking nearly 100 ounces of water a day, and I am finding time to work out.  I bring my swim stuff for when I have Albuquerque layovers.  I plan on running every chance I get.  I'm loving being on my bike when I'm home.  And most importantly, I am doing a tri in August up in Minnesota.  I am registered for it.  I have committed to it.  And whatever I do in it, it is enough.

There's other factors that have come into play this year as well.  My dad having open-heart surgery wrecked me mentally and was very hard to deal with.  I'm also cutting people out of my life that are not productive to me, which hasn't been easy either.  2014 has seen, more or less, a new Brandon.

I think the most humbling part of all this is surprising it is.  How does someone who less than a year ago crossed the finish line of Ironman Arizona, someone who preaches fitness and being active, fall off the wagon so hard?  I think that's all part of the journey, my friends.  The journey of life, the journey of fitness.  It's all a learning process.  What you learn in these lessons, what you do in the process?  That's entirely up to you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Update: NOT DEAD

... I mean, that's a good update, right?

I've been training. Sort of. I know, I have a race Sunday. It lurks in the back of my head, but it still doesn't prod me forward.

I sit, stagnant. I run - a little. I bike - enough so my legs remember how to pedal. I swim - not nearly as much as I should. I still lift somewhat, though it's trying to fall off the cliff, much like everything else has.

Brandon's been in a funk much of this year - work-wise and training-wise. It's not my story to tell, but it's been a rough balance when he's home. I want to spend time with him - because we don't seem to have a lot of it together, but I also want to train. I'm not going to force him to, but then I sacrifice for him. 

This year is NOT a wash. Not yet. It won't be as pretty as maybe I was hoping it to be, but it is not a lost cause. I will not let it be yet. 

Even if I'm already dreaming and planning for 2015.

Survive this year. That's all I need to do. Vegas Half-mar goal is still a definite possibility. I can use that to keep me going. 

Just keep moving. That will be enough. It has to be right now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June Round-Up

Given Monday's post, you can probably guess that June didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Read on ...

Running: 24.36 mi
Swimming: 6650m (4.13 mi)
Cycling: 74.4 mi
Lifting: six sessions (2:27)
Other: one hike (1:25), two walks (:50)

Did I do something non-S/B/R related? Yep - hiked again. It was awesome. 

Am I strength-training regularly? Still at least once a week. And now, I'm trying to add in more core work, so this will definitely keep going.

Am I injury-free? Thankfully, yes.

Was June a disappointment? In theory ... yes. Am I going to call it as such? No, because I did what I did. That has to be enough. I will endeavor to do more work in July, but whatever I do will be enough.

I will say, however, that the month is already off to a good start.

Monday, June 30, 2014

On Hard Decisions and Painful Truths

It's been a month.

You'll see exactly why ... probably on Wednesday ... when I post my monthly recap, but let's just say it hasn't gone as well as I would have liked.

There have been a lot of reasons for this. Some are of my own creation; some came out of nowhere that I wasn't even expecting.

Needless to say, if you pay any attention to that race calendar to the right of this post, you'll notice two omissions - Beyond the Horizon long course on August 16 and the Minneapolis Duathlon on August 24.

Both Brandon and I were hoping to race both those races, but we'd be forcing them. As it is right now, I know I'll be forcing TriRock in a few weeks as well as Georgetown to Idaho Springs (although that one was a train-through anyway). And probably Harvest Moon, but I really hope not.

I don't like this. In fact, I kind of hate it. Still doesn't change anything.

I got out of my early season racing happy and exhausted and ready to start training. The exhaustion overtook everything. I'm currently in a phase where I hate my day job and it makes doing anything other than coming home and flopping on the couch with my computer look entirely unappealing. I've been in this phase probably since right after Colfax.

I thought I was ready to train heavy. I really did. Yet ... I really haven't been.

Why is this? Few reasons:

- Never done what is essentially two racing seasons before (early block; late block). I didn't realize how much racing what is a typical full year's worth of races in two months would wipe me out. 
- Due to his job, Brandon hasn't been able to train/race much. Since we've been together (Dec. 2007), this is the first year since 2008, before he even got into triathlon, that we haven't trained and raced together. Sure, I've done a handful of races without him, but 90% of our races since the end of 2008 have been together. This year? He may not even do a tri.
- The above has messed with more than I ever even considered it could. It's hard training when my training buddy has no reason to train. I know I could - and probably should - find more training partners, but Brandon is my TeamBabyDino teammate and partner for life and we've essentially taken this crazy triathlon journey together and it's hard to travel the path without him.

We dropped those two races because he knows he won't be ready for them. He feels like they'd be forced. I agree. The only reason I haven't dropped the other races on my schedule (Vegas is far enough away that it doesn't count right now) is because I've already signed up and paid my money. We were waiting on Beyond the Horizon as we weren't even sure if it was going to go on (heard they don't have a lot of entrants and it might be cancelled) and we just hadn't gotten around to registering for the du.

It's hard to swallow, but it has to be enough. If I look inside deeply enough, I know that even Harvest Moon is going to be rough on me. I'll finish everything because damnit, I'm stubborn enough and I know that I can, but the results won't be as good as I was hoping for. Those goals I made at the beginning of the year for my tris? Out the window. Completion is good enough right now. 

I'm in the middle of learning some painful, awful lessons right now. I'm just thankful they aren't bad enough to derail me off this triathlon train; they're just going to make me be a lot smarter about things in the future.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6/9-6/22: Hiking, Track Work and Friends, Oh My!

I know, I know, there's been quite a bit of radio silence on my end for the past two weeks. A lot of it has been due to general life stuff - a bit of relationship rx, work hell, etc.

I have had every intention of sitting down to blog ... but I'm too tired to focus on it. Or other stuff is going on. Really no good excuses. Anyway, here I am with what I've been up to the past few weeks ...

Wednesday, June 11: Hiking at Mt. Falcon

In order to do some non-triathlon-related crap, we headed up to Mt. Falcon, just outside the city, for a hike. We could have gone much further than we did, but we still had a ton of fun. The outside bonding was exactly what the two of us needed.

 photo mt_falcon3_zps303d2432.jpg
The two of us on a rock outcropping.

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Brandon climbing around on the rocks.

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Me hiking up the trail.

Wednesday, June 18: Track work; riding with Richard

The other notable workouts from the past few weeks happened a week after the hike (I typically have Wednesdays off which is why fun stuff happens Wednesdays).

Early that morning, we tried track work for the first time*. We got a workout from our friend Nic and tried ... most of it. The workout was 400s; some at 1/2 marathon pace, some at 10K pace. We figured out what we needed to it by plugging in some numbers into a pace calculator and went to the track.

Hitting specific numbers? Is hard. We ended up doing four 400s; Brandon did a much better job than I did. Two of his were right on 1/2 mar pace and the other two were very close to 10K pace. They weren't in proper order, but eh. 

Me, on the other hand? 

I couldn't hit the paces because I was going too fast. I couldn't slow down enough to get to where I needed to be ... which Nic thought might happen, anyway. Oh well, lessons to learn ...

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Brandon rocking it out.

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Me, coming into the finish of one of my 400s.

After the track, we got coffee and then headed out to meet our friend Richard for a ride. We know Rich through Run Colorado and he did IMAZ with us - I was able to talk with him on the run for a bit. In any case, he was doing an easy 40 miles on the bike and we joined him for about 20 of it.

It has been a long time since we've ridden with someone OTHER than our friend Mike and let me tell you, it was nice. No drop ride, easy conversation and we got to explore a bit into Chatfield that Brandon and I had never done before. Definitely something we'd like to do again.

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Brandon and Richard in his Ironman All World Athlete kit. We know good people.

* We've done track work before, but it was never structured/actual workouts. More like ... let's run fast! 100m sounds good! Yeah ...