Week 12 Countdown starts with America’s Finest City Half Marathon The previous week has seen one of the biggest shifts ever in my training and it ended with the fastest paced run that I’ve ever done. The first several miles of this course are mild rolling hills, but, mostly downhill since it starts at Cabrillo Monument overlooking the City. We kept a great pace early on as the heat picked up. The downhill, ultimately, is very tough on the legs and we were all feeling the cumulative effects of the heat and hill by the 7th – 8th mile along the Bay. At this point, I was still on pace to “Potentially” break the 2 hour mark which I never anticipated since this would be my first 13.1 race not connected to a Half Ironman. I ended up slowing around mile 9 and had to walk a little to give the legs a while to recover (as much as you can in the middle of a race). There went the chance to break 2 hours, but still on track for a good run. Then we came to the “Hill” around mile 11 / 12…the one that takes you the last mile back up to Balboa Park. I had been warned, which is perhaps the reason I walked a little around mile 9, so I changed the music, kicked into gear, and started picking up the pace as everyone around me started their Walk. Surprisingly, I really pushed it harder than I thought I could and continued all the way up. The legs were burning, but I knew if I stopped it would be a problem….proceeded over the Bridge into Balboa Park and headed for the finish line. My initial Goal was 2:10 – 2:1, basically a 10 min mile Average. I ended up at 2:14 which I am thrilled with overall, since I was able to recover enough in the middle to power up the hill and finish very strong. I’m not sure if I’ll do this race again, but really glad it was part of my training along the way.
This week seems to be the Shift I’ve been looking / waiting for. Lucky #13, I suppose. Last week was a little demoralizing with my pain levels so elevated that I would have to say this has been the biggest week to week shift I’ve ever experienced. I got back into T – Th spin class and was able to push harder for a longer period of time than usual and followed it up with 71/2 mile runs each day. Saturday ride was 50 miles and started adding 20 minute “Brick” runs after last week. This week ends with a STRONG Sunday run- to be continued with next Post for the start of the 12th week …
Week 15 / 14
Wow, what a roller coaster these past two weeks have been since Vineman Full Aquabike. After 2 days of rest, I got back to Spin class right away and felt pretty good so added a quick 4 mile run. Overall, felt good and knew it would be a lighter “recovery” week so happy with the day. Work was busy so only a few more workouts during the week. Unfortunately, just as I started feeling recovered, the weather changed and it got very humid! My body doesn’t do well with humidity, as everything feels inflamed and all the old injuries raise the pain levels significantly. I ending with a 50 mile ride on Saturday (instead of 80+) and just a 30 minute Core workout Sunday. Just couldn’t get past the increased pain levels. Ironically, after a few days of this, and having to workout only every other day for a week and a half, I got through the next week and finished with 65 miles on the bike and a 1 mile swim & 10 mile run the next day. Can’t always predict how my body will respond, and I’m having to learn how to listen to it. Some days you really have to push through the pain and teach it how to go further. Other times, you realize that it just can’t go anymore and you have to shut it down or risk injury.
Again, what a roller coaster ride these two weeks have been.
(Note to self: Do not put head through windshield…bad things happen.)
I’ve discussed previously, in other areas of my story, I had an accident in 1987. What happed that day altered my life for the rest of my life. Although many positives have resulted from that situation, there are some things that hardwired patterns in your brain and nervous system. Within a neurological pattern, a memory can surface at anytime when your brain re-experiences a stimulus.
A simple example is when you hear a particular that you instantly recall something from your past like the song they played when the team entered the stadium, or the song from your High School Prom…that is the recall I’m referring to. Well, pain patterns work in a similar way.
There were portions of this race that similar pain patterns arose and my brain went into that dark spot that I tried to overcome and/or block out. The following sentiment is my chance to release that along this journey…partly for me, but also because I recognize that anyone/everyone has something in their life that came come up when driven to extremes. If you can identify it, you can overcome it!
A note to Luis Armstrong… “I never blamed you, after all, it was an accident – but I hate the fact that your carelessness in 1987 has caused me so much pain even to this date. This journey is not over, as there is still one more missing piece of the puzzle. I’m working on it, but for now, TODAY- I TOOK BACK ONE MORE PIECE OF MY LIFE that you stole from me!!!”
This week ended with my first big test to see how my training has been going. From this point on, almost every week will include a new maximum of something or longest distance. This was the Vineman Full Aquabike race in Sonoma, CA. Never before, have I recorded these distances in a race and although it was just a training race, there was certainly quite a bit going on in my head. I knew I could swim the distance in the pool, and when the set is broken up…but wasn’t sure how I’d do with swimming straight through. The 2.4mile swim was about average. (Although all of our Garmins indicated a slightly longer course than is should have been at 2.7 –which then means my time was great not just average).
The 112 mile bike course (2 loops of a 56 mile course) includes some of the most beautiful scenery and rolling hills throughout northern Sonoma County in the Napa Valley Region. Those “rolling hills”, however, are deceiving. I’ve done the half Ironman course here on two previous occasions and knew what to expect for the first loop…but definitely new territory on the 2nd loop. Feeling good through about 65 miles then the combination of increased temperatures (up to about 97 degrees) and some winds picking up for a while, really slowed me down. Obviously, this is where you benefit from the longer rides and time in the saddle for training. The legs felt very heavy and toes were numb for the majority of the second loop. This was a challenge – slowed me, but stopping was never an option. I really had to see how my body would do handling this distance. Nutrition was much better overall for this race, but I can see that it still needs serious attention in order to have enough stamina to handle the 26 mile run off the bike. Finished strong, which is one of the things I’ve always prided myself on doing.
Although, I’ll do whatever it takes to finish. I may have to walk or even crawl to the end, but finishing is the target.
This turned out to be much more of an emotional race than I expected since I broke down some more mental barriers dating back to my accident in 1987. I’m not really concerned about posting times here; I know where I am and where I want to be. I’m not racing against others, I’m racing for myself. I may never win in the sense of being first over the line, but for me, I win every time I show up to a race. As you learn more about my story and what drives me, you’ll understand better.
This week really seemed to be a Peak week for me. The addition of 2 strength training days is helping me train longer with less soreness. Still 2 strong spin classes followed by runs (8 miles total) and two swim days, both over 2000m. Really trying to balance my workouts and build at the same time. Capped off the week with my longest bike ride to date – my first training ride over 100 miles. Once again, through the Ranch with some rolling hills then up the coast to San Clemente and back. I am pleased that my recovery has allowed me to maintain training at these levels and in spite of the chronicity of the pain, I am able to manage. I haven’t addressed the pain in my weekly posts, as I will use a separate post to discuss the pain and what can be done when it presents itself. Sometimes it is appropriate to push through the pain the grow…other times it is essential to listen to your body and back off when necessary to avoid injury (or worse). I’ll share personal experiences as well as clinical perspectives in that upcoming post.
Ready to head into Race Week next week.
I picked this point to add is some additional swim training so I started going to one the TCSD (Tri Club San Diego) group swims on Tuesday evening at Ventura Cove with Bill Gleason (Gleason Endurance Coaching). This is a great way to get practice in race simulated conditions and work on specific open water drills that you can’t quite get from the pool. The result is that Tuesdays have become a huge training day for me with a 5:45 am spin class with my primary coach (Bernie Sidney) followed by a 4-5 mile run. Ironically, it seems to fit my schedule since Mondays and Wednesdays are such long days in the office – I often don’t get to work out on those days. I’m building mileage and pushing to new limits – feeling stronger.
Feeling good from the increased bike mileage and a little extra recovery time, I opted to increase the running miles this week from an average of 6-8 miles to a weekly total of 25. This is by far the most running I’ve ever done in a week, and considering I maintained my rides and swimming, I am feeling good about my pace at this point. A big advantage here was the extra day off of work for the 4th of July Holiday…this enabled me to get in a longer run during the week when I normally can’t due to work schedules. Still did a long ride through the Ranch on Saturday, complete with about 3800 ft of climbing.
The official 20 week training countdown to Ironman Arizona has begun. I’ve spent the past 4 months trying to maintain a base level of training and increased in different areas each month. The biggest change to this point has been the past month, as I increase my swimming to double the amount I’ve even done before. My longest swim ever prior to April ’14 had been 2000 meters and that was only a few times. Mostly, my swims had been 1500 -1800 meters – maybe twice a week. Over the past three months, I’ve gotten up to 4800 meters max and between 6500 and 9500 m a week.
During the past 6 weeks, I’ve also began increasing the mileage on my rides, though slowly at first, I am finally in the 60-70 mile range for my long ride on the weekend. In addition, I’ve started adding short to moderate runs after a spin class or swim session, in the 3-5 mile range. This is the weakest area for me as a result of longstanding damage to the hips, knees and ankles. Some of it accident and injury related, and some of it is just damage since birth.
The bottom line is that this particular week (20) is actually a difficult week for me since I have increased so much over the past few months. I’ve felt sluggish and tired for the past two weeks from a lingering sinus and chest cold combined with increased training and actually reduced my volume and intensity for most of this week. Good idea, I think, since I was then able to post my longest bike ride to date at 77 miles through the Ranch and up the Coast. A positive ending to the week after a rough start.