Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Inspiration, and the Need to Fight

Note: I have other things I need to write about (when do I not?) (like Leadville), but this takes priority. I need to brain dump before I forget this ...

On Facebook the other day, I felt compelled to write a post. I'll post it here:

 photo fbook_zpsj7dksgp1.jpg

It got a lot of likes and a bit of discussion (mainly Ann trying to talk me into IMMT next year which yes, I want to do it but can we wait until 2018 please?) ... but what it REALLY spawned was a discussion in my brain. And with Brandon.

Athletes use a lot of different things as fuel. Inspiration. Vanity. Beating personal demons. Proving others wrong. I got to wondering, what do I use? I posted that these people inspire and humble me. And don't get me wrong, they do. 

They just also make me feel less than. Which is HORRIBLE. I know that their fast is my slow but I also know that my slow is someone else's fast but I happen to know way more fast people than slow people it feels like or people that are way unbelievably cooler than I will ever hope to be.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone I tagged in that post is fast. I tagged a MaccaXer, Tim, who, when healthy is fast, but is currently fighting his way back from being prone in a hospital bed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I tagged a different MaccaXer named Tim, who's a chef on the East Coast who has lost a lot of weight and does Ironman and makes food I can only dream of making. I tagged MaccaXer Andy, who is essentially a middle-of-the-pack triathlete, but he does it with such a positive attitude.

And then ... there's me. (Or I feel like there's me). I don't feel like I'm anything special. And yes, I know my whole goal this year was to try to combat that and embrace my inner awesome but I've already gone into it here a bit on how I feel like I'm failing miserably at that.

I don't know what I use as motivation. Proving others wrong does me no good. Say I suck? Sure, great, I'll agree with you. Vanity? Works only so long ... and it's so, so transitory as it's hard to keep focused when you don't see the changes in yourself for so long (and I'll concede that I may have a tiny bit of body dysmorphia when it comes to this). I don't feel like I have deep personal demons ... or at least can't put a finger on them well enough to use them as fuel. And inspirational friends/people ... well, that can get me out the door sometimes, but it won't sustain me otherwise.

I wrote that Facebook post on Sunday. Tuesday, we went up to Boulder for a 40 mile ride - we decided to essentially do one (slightly modified) loop of the IM Boulder course (if we want to race it, we should be prepared). 

We got about 10-15 miles in (I don't remember now) and I felt awful. My legs weren't coming around, we hadn't even gotten to the really bad part of the Nelson climb (dear sweet jeebus does Nelson suck going the IM way), and we paused on the side of the road for a moment. I commented that I really had nothing. Brandon said that we could turn it and still get in a good 20ish miles and just shift our long ride.

I thought about it. I really considered it. 

But then ... 

I thought about all the other times I've mailed it in during workouts, deciding to shift things because I wasn't feeling it that day. And I thought about all the times the shift ended up not working out for whatever reason. And how it seemed like I was writing the same old story.

So I told myself no. I may have said to Brandon we'll keep going, but that part's a little fuzzy. I do know that I got back on my bike and started pedaling and didn't stop again until after we hit 36 again (no drop ride; I drop him somewhat on climbs).

We kept going that day, and got in 42 miles. 

(We also stopped at Mary's Market (under new ownership and I think a technical new name now) in Hygiene for the first time, making us feel like true Boulder cyclists/triathletes.
 photo marys_market_zps7merdxeb.jpg)

Later that afternoon, after Brandon had already left for his commute to work, I was supposed to run. It was hot, I didn't want to, maybe I could move it and instead of run Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday run Wednesday-Friday-Sunday but then my long run if I didn't want it hot and miserable in the afternoon would have to be Wednesday and oh god that sounds horrible so moving things clearly isn't going to work. 

So instead, I ran. It was hot and it wasn't long, but I ran, and edited my route so it was a bit longer than usual.

What I came to realize, sitting on my bike on the side of Nelson Road up in Boulder, is that I so often take the easy way out. I use the old, "if you're not feeling it, try it for a while and if it's still awful, quit" advice as an excuse way too often. 

I know, that if I want to be better, I need to make the hard decision. I need to fight, and I need to fight now. If I want to pull off the Ironman double next year, I can't be taking shortcuts. I need to work, and to trust the work. I need to fight my own mediocrity, and maybe, just maybe, I can be something better.

*******




Note 1: We did a 20 mile version of the same ride the week previous. On the 40 mile version, I actually averaged .4 mph faster.

Note 2: As a curiosity, I checked some of my summer training mileage to my summer training mileage in 2013 (a.k.a. the Ironman year). It's actually ... quite comparable. And I felt like my training was shit ...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bare Wood, Part 2

About a month ago, I talked to you about stripping my running down to "bare wood".  It was time to return to the basics.  No Garmin, no worrying about time/pace.  

At first, it was easier said than done.  I was stressing out about my times, and more importantly, just didn't want to get out.  On the day of IM Boulder, both T and I had a rough run and decided to forgo our bike ride for the day.  We had a Come to Jesus moment that morning, and I decided to do something that I hadn't thought about doing.  I put on my old Mizunos that I have as a backup pair, and wore those to volunteering.  I decided that as of that day, I would wear those for running until I found a new pair of shoes to run in.

Every time I put on these Mizuno Wave Rider 16's, it's like putting on an old robe, or a really comfortable pair of slippers.  Wave Rider 16's propelled me to my Ironman finish.  I had two other pairs of 16's, and both were retired with dignity.  These current Mizuno's that I have are helping me discover my love of running.

I might be running slow right now, but I am regaining distance that I have forgone for months.  I'm running every other day consistently.  I'm building and it feels good.  I'm encouraged.  And optimistic.

Stripping it down to "bare wood" was the best thing I could have done.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Race #3 of the Season: Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half-Marathon

I need to race more. August and I've only raced thrice? TF? 

I liked this race a lot last year. Brandon heard me rave about it and was hoping to do it with me ... but it was not to be. Stupid work.

It was a lot less hectic this year. I managed packet pick-up the weekend before down here in Denver at Runner's Roost before one of the days I went up to Boulder. The downside is I had a bib on my desk staring me in the face, reminding me of my under-trained...ness for a week.

The night before the race was my niece's birthday and we got invited to go to Casa Bonita with my brother for said birthday. Clearly ideal pre-race food, but I wanted to see my little potatopants, so we went.

Pro tip: Do not go to Casa Bonita, preferably ever, but especially not the night before a race.

We got home past bedtime, but I was still able to wake up ridiculously early to be able to make the drive to Idaho Springs. Left the house a bit after four; got up to the mountains a bit after five. Stopped at the Starbucks when they opened; Didn't get coffee (I know better by now), but I did get a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of water. I figured, since I was awake and up there at 5 but the race didn't start until 8, I could slowly munch on it pre-race to keep calories going into my system.

Pro tip: Up early before a race? Keep slowly shoving food in your belly in the hours prior to race start to avoid bonking ... particularly if you typically don't need calories during, say, a 13er.

After Starbucks, I parked in one of the lots downtown and waited until just before 5:30 before walking to the buses. I caught the first bus to Georgetown, got to Georgetown ... and just waited.

 photo georgetown_zpsblotpk6p.jpg
Georgetown Lake.

 photo gtis_zpsx79entvx.jpg
Waiting.

For the most part, I huddled in the same shelter I huddled in last year, although it was quite a bit warmer this year. If I thought I could have found a comfortable spot, I may have just napped a bit, but I didn't want to take that risk.

I could have parked in Georgetown and avoided a lot of this waiting, but chose not to, as I would then need to catch a bus back to my car post-race. As I had to work later that afternoon, I figured it would be more prudent of me to park in Idaho Springs and then just bust ass out of town afterward.

So, I sat, wasting time on my phone and slowly munching on my bagel. About 20-25 minutes to race start, I threw on some sunscreen and with about 10 (or so) minutes to race start, I dumped off my bag at bag drop. A late phone conversation with Brandon had me wearing arm warmers, but I probably shouldn't have started with them.

Eight o'clock rolls around ... race start.

Remembering the year previous, I took the first mile nice and slow. 11:03. Perfect.

Mile two, about 15 seconds faster. Great.

Mile three, about 10:00/mi. Oops. Picked it up a bit too much (although fairly significant downhill).

Mile four, barely faster. Back on track. (Arm warmers came off.)

I had to walk for the first time just after mile five, but it wasn't for long. I was solidly in front of the 2:20 pace group and the 2:15 group was easily in sight.

10K Split: 1:04:47

There were times, probably between miles seven and eight, that I was able to run right up on the heels of the 2:15 pace group.

However, the wheels started falling off in mile eight, and fell off for good with about a 5K to go. I felt the 2:20 pacers breathing down my neck (figuratively speaking) and wanted desperately to stay under 2:20. In my brain, if I could finish below 2:20, it'd be a good day.

At mile 10, I also figured if I could keep around 11 minute miles, this would happen.

Mile 11: 11:11. Mile 12? Slower than that. Wheels were off, and wheels were off badly.

Right before the finish, the 2:20 pacers passed me, but I was still holding out hope as I knew I crossed the start mat after they did.

I give everything I had left across the line (which wasn't much) and stop my Garmin: 2:20:04. SO DAMN CLOSE.

I was a little upset, but I also knew I gave everything this untrained body had to give. I wandered down into the field, got my medal (and tossed it around my shoulder so I wouldn't lose it this year), got another pint glass from Runners Roost, got watermelon and chocolate milk, got my bag from bag check, and headed to the car for home.

 photo gtis2_zpsffczzkp7.jpg

Happily, looking at the official results, I made my goal.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:19:59
Overall Rank: 983/1567
Gender Rank: 439/977*
Division Rank: 108/172 (F30-34)

Under 2:20, but barely. I won't be able to do this race next year, as we're hoping for the Ironman double and this race a week after IMBoulder will not be good recovery for IMChatt (or Tahoe) ... probably. So if I do return to this race (which I'd like to, ideally trained), it won't be for another two years.

Garmin splits, for the interested.

Mile 1: 11:03
Mile 2: 10:46
Mile 3: 10:03
Mile 4: 9:58.22
Mile 5: 10:22
Mile 6: 10:09
Mile 7: 10:05
Mile 8: 10:47
Mile 9: 10:32
Mile 10: 10:56
Mile 11: 11:11
Mile 12: 11:22
Mile 13: 11:46
Last .14: 1:01.8


* So the results don't show by gender, but by going through the age groups, this is as best as I can figure.

Friday, August 7, 2015

IM Boulder

This past weekend was Ironman Boulder, and we had several friends and teammates racing. We also signed up to catch at the finish line - the one main tri volunteering thing we hadn't done yet.

We got in a run that morning and got up to Boulder sometime after ... 12:30p, I would say? We wandered around the Ironman village and restrained ourselves from buying a lot of crap from the merch tent. We did, however, scour the clearance/sale racks and found Brandon a backpack and me a lightweight zip-up hoodie, so there's that. Oops.

We got sushi for lunch and around 2, 2:30ish (I think?) wandered over to the finish line before it got insane so we could check in for our shift, get our volunteer t-shirts and finish area wristbands. This? was a smart idea. We also FINALLY met fellow MaccaX'ers Lisa and Curtis who moved here from Florida sometime early this year. 

After that, we meandered the mile or so to get a frozen bear (mmm, coffee) and then back up so we could make sure to get our friend Sam, who was kicking serious ass that day.

 photo imboulder_zpsctmxx5ik.jpg
Finish line. That's Lisa in the pink hat.

We missed the first few finishers, but we were able to get Sam ... by hopping on our shift a few hours early. Heh. Sam, I might add, came in sub-10, third in his age group, 13th or 14th overall ... AND, as we found out the next day, qualified for Kona in only his second IM. Beast.

 photo imboulder2_zpsnvbqstvy.jpg
With wife Danielle, who's running Leadville later this month.

That effort about killed him - we took him to the med tent with some nausea, but if you want to Kona qual, that's kind of what you need to do.

 photo imboulder3_zpst04moj44.jpg
Medal basket.

Several hours later, Brandon caught a pilot friend of his, Hugh, and about an hour after that, I shoved about five other volunteers out of the way to snag our friend Scott, who got a solid PR in his second IM.


 photo imboulder4_zps8uyaxfv5.jpg
With Brandon.

Catching made us really realize we miss Ironman. We miss the insanity of the long course. We miss the training. We miss the sheer satisfaction of crossing that finish line. Scott asked his family after, "Remember when I went down to Arizona a couple years ago? It was to watch these guys. They're my inspiration." We miss being that inspiration.

We were going to do this race next year anyway, but being there just solidified it. As did learning our MaccaX teammate Shawn failed his second year in a row (year one: altitude sickness. year two: seaweed attack); we want to race alongside him.

8.7.16. Mark your calendars.

 photo imboulder5_zpsybnx1hty.jpg
We saw a proposal at the finish; one of the Mexican athletes got proposed to by her boyfriend and as you can see by the hug, she said yes. Totally adorable.

Monday, August 3, 2015

July Round-Up

July ... was ... okay.

Swimming: 14000m (8.7 mi)
% to goal: 26.7%
Cycling: 160.78 mi
% to goal: 19.5%
Running: 21.23 mi
% to goal: 27.6%
Lifting: four sessions (1:28)
Other: five yoga sessions (1:10), one race volunteering/cheering day (3:00), one hike (1:40), two walks (1:30), one stretch session (:10)

The best thing about July was my swimming. This was my highest swim month to date, so woooo for that. I really wanted to hit 200 miles on the bike and was on track, but I fell apart at the end of the month. I'm still feeling a little off three days into August, but at this point, I'm going to try to power through whatever this crap is.

Running ... ugh. I hate the hot days of summer. I may have "embrace the heat" as a goal next year like "embrace the hill" was last year. *gack*

The worst part of this month is the crushing weight of looming failure. I'm nowhere close to being on track with the goals I had set for myself this year. The one, main, overarching goal - embrace my inner awesome - feels so far away, I feel so far from awesome that it's not even funny. Nothing to be done but to persevere and I know that, but it's always so much harder in practice.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Bare Wood"

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  There's a reason for that.  Actually, a couple reasons.  

First, I will say that my fitness is going well for 2/3 sports.  I'm seeing gains, especially in the pool.  Swimming a mile easy nowadays.  More importantly, I'm enjoying both swimming and biking a lot.  I crave being in the pool and being on the bike.  But notice how I only said 2/3.  That means one is not going well, and obviously that's running.  

Running and I have a love/hate relationship.  Always have, always will.  I can go months where I love running.  Love putting on my shoes and hitting the bricks.  Then there's weeks or months where I hate running.  Can't stand it.  To look at my shoes is to glare with hatred.  That's where I am with it currently.  To pinpoint why I am despising running, I consulted a friend of mine, who is also an airline pilot, about the issue.  He's a triathlete as well.  He said that lately, we are all working very very hard.  We have seen our days off decrease and our flight time increase.  Furthermore, our overnights just aren't allowing us to get adequate rest to where we can find the strength to go out for runs.

It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.  I have always found solace with running on the road.  Swimming is very difficult to do while traveling, and riding is generally done on an exercise bike.  But running?  You can do it anywhere, right?  It's something that has no boundaries.  You don't need a pool or a bike.  You just need a pair of shoes.  But when you get in to the hotel late, and leave early, day after day after day, you just want sleep.  You crave sleep.  And running falls by the way.

So what is a guy like me to do?

Borrowing a term from boxing, I am stripping my running down to "bare wood".  I'm going to take it from the beginning.  That means no Garmin for awhile.  No outrageous distance goals.  No time worries.  Long story short, I am going to run because I know somewhere, I like to run.

Back in 2007/2008, when I was attempting to change my ways from Fat Kid, I had a treadmill workout that I did.  It's a profoundly simple workout, and to be honest, it does nothing for anyone with even an ounce of running skill, but when you are stripping your running to "bare wood", you do what you need to.  For me, this is a return to the womb.  Back to basics.  Use whatever metaphor you want, but it'll get the job done.

Other than that, I'm attempting to manage my life at work better, and let's just say that in July, a lot of work stress piled on all at once.  With that, my fitness took a short dive.  A lot of people use work emotion to pull themselves along a workout.  Me, I am more the "dwell on it" kind of guy.  I'm not very good at using emotion for my benefit in fitness.  Playing hockey growing up, I was never the guy who jumped around before a game, screaming at the top of my lungs.  No, I was more the guy who just went out and did his job.  Emotion has never played a big part in my fitness.  Well, I'm hoping to change that, to challenge negative emotions into positive workouts.  Stay tuned on that front.

I do also appreciate everyone's support, no matter the venture.  I have had a lot of good energy thrown my way during some difficult work days, and for the most part, it's been overwhelmingly positive.  When you doubt yourself, when you are unconfident in what you are doing, it helps that the vast majority of people that you surround yourself with believe in you.

Cheering at Peak and More: Catching Up

It's really been three weeks since I've posted? Geez ... 

I've been training. I was supposed to have been racing (70.3 Muncie, July 11), but due to losing so much training with the house, we scrapped the race, unfortunately.

We rode the 105 down in Sedalia and saw a fitting sign due to the jersey I was wearing.

 photo 6-18ride_zpsevamdfi7.jpg

I participated in Bike to Work Day (and thankfully only worked a short day as there was horrible, awful flooding on the very paths I took to work) and Brandon joined me for both trips.

 photo btwd_zpslsolotjk.jpg
Mmm, pancakes.

 photo btwd2_zps5tjsbnra.jpg
Fork? I don't need no stinkin' fork!

I don't have pictures from it, but a fun little perk for being a Skirt Sports Ambassador is that I got to be one of their real woman models! None of my photos have appeared on mailings/their website yet, but if I see one, I'll post it here. Because dude.

A side perk of not driving to Indiana to race 70.3 Muncie was being able to cheer on a colleague of Brandon's, Mark, on at his first ever triathlon - Boulder Peak. For it being his first tri - and on a hard m-f'ing course, too - he pretty much rocked it.

 photo peak_zps1r42jv3t.jpg
Talking pre-race.

 photo peak2_zpsezfga8yx.jpg
Possibly my new favorite picture of Mark.

 photo peak4_zpsjsofsxg2.jpg
Artsy beach shot.

 photo peak5_zpsn9zhzvx3.jpg
All ready to go!

 photo peak6_zpsby6qztlo.jpg
And he's off!

 photo peak7_zpses1n8s6j.jpg

Swim swim swim ...

 photo peak8_zpsgcmnqmg8.jpg
And he's out of the water.

 photo peak10_zps3lvohmch.jpg
On to the bike.

 photo peak12_zpsdh74ex6n.jpg
TriSports.com teammate Liz on the bike.

 photo peak13_zpsxrricxlg.jpg
Awards.

 photo peak14_zpsinryxyxj.jpg
Done with the bike.

 photo peak16_zpswv7shzw6.jpg
"This is f'ing hard." Also: it is not normal for one's hair to look THAT good after swimming and biking ...

 photo peak17_zpssit6dvvo.jpg
Liz almost done with the run.

 photo peak18_zps0hrd16ji.jpg
Brandon running a tiny bit with Mark.

 photo peak20_zpsumhffdvs.jpg
And another triathlete has joined our ranks.

Like all of us, he thought it was horrible, hard ... and can't wait for his next one. We have plans of coercing him into doing Boulder 70.3 with us next year ...