Monday, March 21, 2011

Why It Matters

“Nothing can beat the CRR of the Open Corsa EVO CX II”

“Tuesday's ride put me at -23 TSB, I need to back down a bit for this part of the season.”

“There's no real reason to race that 5k, I need 50 seconds for the next VDOT and that's not happening in two weeks.”

“I got you a 2010 team GXP BB to go with your new crank.”

These are all small parts of conversations I've had in the last week. Living the life of a triathlete, chatting with other athletes, leads to a lot of conversations just like this. Bike mechanics, running, swim drills, and the stuff that goes with swimming, biking, and running, occupies are scarce free time. That's ok. It's fun, it's interesting, it keeps my mind as engaged as my body in this demanding lifestyle. It's a healthy outlet. It's a bonding opportunity. I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's more to being an athlete than training and polishing your bike though. Sometimes I forget that, but this weekend I was reminded in a big way.

Most Saturdays I wake up, eat some oats, do a bike workout, take a shower, and then get on with life. But there was something bigger on the agenda for last Saturday. Since the previous week, my six year old son William had been asking for me to take him to the track to run. He's been running the kids runs at our local 5ks, and he's really caught the running bug, to the point that he decided he wanted to practice.

By the time I was off the bike on Saturday, William had his running clothes on. We had lunch. “Dad, I'm going to eat good food so I can run really fast today,” he annouced. “That's a great idea, what do you think you should eat?,” I asked. “Umm, apples, bananas, and probably not ice cream,” he said. “That's all pretty good stuff,” I said. “And ice cream is okay sometimes too,” I added, “especially after really long runs.” William smiled and asked “Like 50 miles?” “Yes, I answered, especially after 50 miles.”  Apparently he's an aspiring ultra runner...

A few minutes later we were at the track. Like any kid, William only knows one way to run. All out! And that kid is fast. We would slow down to a trot every now and then, but as soon as someone was anywhere near us, he was determined to run them down. We had run about 4 laps on the indoor track when I told him that 9 laps was a mile. After that, it was on. He was determined to run a mile. So we did. And we learned about pacing along the way!

My 6 year old has a better handle on eating, and can run a faster mile, than I did at 30. He loves his chocolate chip cookies, don't get me wrong. But there is room for cookies and fast miles in life.  And after all that running, we had some cookies and played some playstation. There is room in this life for relaxing on the couch on a Saturday afternoon too.

Living the life of a triathlete has probably saved my life by giving me something healthy to throw my type A personality into, but if that weren't enough it now allows me to lead by example for my son. Sharing a run with him Saturday meant sharing lessons on pacing yourself, balancing work, and play, and making good food choices. It meant bonding with him, and lots of quality time.

So, it's monday now. I'm still talking about gear ratios and training stress scores, but my run with William is still at the front of my mind. I won't see him again until thursday, but he's already asking about our next run, and that's why it all matters.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Off Season

So what have I been up to this off season?  I’ve been busy!   I’m getting revved up for the final push to Ironman Wisconsin.  I’ve been building towards this goal for around 3 years now, and it seems like the pieces are all finally falling into place.
General Training
I’m approaching training in a somewhat untraditional way this year.  I’ve built a lot of intensity in and lowered my volume considerably.  I’ve been using Endurance Nation coaching to help me with this plan.  It appears that I’ll be coming into this season a good deal faster because of it.  It’s been rough though, all that intensity is…well…intense…
Medical Stuff
The intensity plus the cold resulted in the discovery that I have exercise induced asthma.  After steelhead last year I had a bit of an asthma attack, although I didn’t really know what that was at the time.  This winter I had another, more serious asthma attack.  A trip to the doctor later I’m now “fixed” with an inhaler.  It was a bit scary at the time, but it’s very controllable.  Life moves on. 
I’m also dealing with some biomechanical stuff related to the knee repair that I had done when I was huge and fell in the snow.  More on that later as it shakes out…
Bike Fitting
I recently went to visit Get a Grip Cycles in Chicago for a professional bike fit.  They spent a bunch of time looking at my flexibility, anatomy, and goals and put me on a fit bike.  Then they put me on a fit bike and did some motion capture video analysis to really get my fit dialed in.  They did good work, and I’m more comfortable than ever on Karma (my Cervelo P3).
I’ve been working hard, and not so hard, on my swimming.  All the intensity in my bike/run training has really left me wiped out.  A lot of the folks training with EN stop swimming during the off season because of stress involved with their bike/run training, and the “return on investment” of off season swimming.  I stopped for a while myself.  I missed it though, so I made a compromise and took my swimming back to the drawing board.  I stopped pounding out yards, and started doing entire swim sets of drills.  Drills, drills, and more drills.  Now I can bilaterally breath, swim with much less effort, and swim a bit faster as well.  It was time well spent, and it helped keep the weight off this winter!
The Other Stuff
Life has been very busy, and there isn’t really much time for all that much “other” stuff, but this off season has found me a little extra time and I’ve been having some good times.  I’m cooking my way through all the recipes in the book “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman (what an awesome book!!!).  I’ve also managed to finish all three God Of War games, Heavy Rain, and a few other titles on my PS3.  I’m really working to find some balance in all of this, and so far I’m winning…but it’s a fight!  Healthy is more than just triathlon though. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Pats 5k. 22:09

The race season has officially began.  Lana and I ran in the Bloomington/Normal St. Patrick's Day 5k today.

I had a pretty good day.  I ran 22:08, improving on last year's 25:03.  I've been working hard this winter on my run, and it seems as if that work is starting to pay off.  I pushed pretty hard today.  In the last 800m I gave myself permission to vomit, and started wondering what that Jimmy John's I ate for lunch was going to look like on the pavement.

I'll have more about the off season coming up in my next post, I have lots to report but that warrants it's own post. 

My plan is to run my daniels E pace for IMOO, so today I earned the right to run a 9:28/mi marathon on the big day.  Can I hold that together?  Who knows, but it's at least a target to shoot at.