Thursday, March 14, 2013

When life gives you pretzels

As I sit on this Airtran Boeing 737 and watch the Atlantic Ocean sprawl forth below me, I am moved by a particular feeling... Anxious boredom. I have already eaten my bag of dried fruit, a pouch of almonds, and the 45 calories worth of complimentary pretzels that they still hand out, so I figured I could entertain myself by pecking out a blog post. Anything to take my mind off how my baby girl, Stella, is all alone and cold down below in the baggage hold and how savagely she has been treated today by the baggage handlers.

Like most endurance athletes, the couple weeks before a big event are a roller coaster of emotion, hunger, energy, fatigue, and stress for me. This build up was no exception. I find it odd that my body tends to feel its worst when I am trying to give it the rest and recovery that it has been demanding. I often have ridiculous food cravings when my volume decreases which goes directly against what my brain is telling me; "Don't eat as much as you have been... You're not doing anything." I often end up feeling achy and lethargic, almost as if I'm coming down the flu. It is only due to the fact that I feel this way each time that I now know that I'm not actually getting sick, just tapering. It is pretty awesome though that despite the lackluster feeling I get before hand, my body almost always shows up ready to rock 'n roll on game day!

This particular race was interesting in how my training blocks laid out. Coming out of Bone Island, which served as my proving ground for post hip surgery Ironman, we knew that the run was my biggest area of opportunity and it needed to be improved for me to be competitive at an M-dot event. After a week of relaxed work, we quickly jumped into some pretty thick training in all three disciplines and my body responded well. A few weeks later, Rich threw a four week run endurance block at me. When I saw it on the calendar I was pretty excited. We had been SO conservative before Bone Island with my run, but I really had zero issues with severe hip pain while I was in Florida so we felt it was time to do some "real" training. The run block consisted of running every day, for a minimum of 45 minutes (getting progressively longer each week) at aerobic heart rate and then stacking my other sessions on top of that. This meant 6 two-a-days a week, one being a double run day, and one day of just my aerobic run. After about four days, I knew that it was going to get ugly. My hip and groin got more and more painful each day I put it through the pounding and by the sixth day in I gave up half way through my run and moved to the elliptical to finish the session at the desired HR. For those that know me, I have to really be hurting to give up on a workout. To my relief, I found that a little recovery went a long way and with only taking one day off the treadmill and replacing it with an elliptical or Alter - G session, I would be much improved the following day. It is my opinion that I was experiencing a daily increase in inflammation and my body needed a break about once a week to simmer down before the pain went past my threshold.

By the end of the run block, there was no doubt that overall endurance was much improved and I had found confidence in my ability to perform a sustained run at a reasonable pace. From the run block, we went IMMEDIATELY into a race prep block... Just when I thought I would get a break... Not even a day off. If I thought the run block was tough, it was a vacation in comparison to the race prep period. Rich smashed me daily, for weeks, until I literally thought I couldn't swim one more stroke, pedal one more revolution, or stride out one more step. It was the hardest I have ever trained. That said, I was really happy with some of the numbers I saw on my watch and power meter, even on days that I felt totally fatigued. And just to add to the degree of challenge, I also began my new job during this time. Haven't been caught sleeping at work yet!

That pretty much brings you up to this post from 40,000 feet, save a few drama filled personal life ordeals that not even I care to hear about. In the end, I'm really excited to visit Puerto Rico for the first time, meet up with some new and old friends, see if I can compete at an upper level in my favorite distance, relax, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. If you're not hungover from celebrating St. Patty's Day on Saturday, roll over to Ironman Live and check out the tracker for bib 1165 on Sunday. Once again, Men 30-34 go off in the last wave which is at 7:40 on Sunday morning - gotta love passing a bazillion 50 year old women! I'm not gonna publicly put a number on it since there are still a few small question marks in my mind, but a Vegas slot is definitely the goal. If I don't get it, I feel confident in saying that it will not be for a lack of trying.
Save me some green beer - Cheers!

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