Sunday, July 31, 2005

IT Band

Earlier in this blog I had mentioned I had some troubles with knee pain. Technically, I have an inflamed (read: "bad") left iliotibial band (IT). I have been nursing this injury along now for about 1 year. I have gone through physical therapy, bought expensive orthotics to correct my flat feet, worked on my core abdominal muscle strength and tried to correct my running posture. In short this should have worked. When my symptoms first began I had to look around on the internet to learn more about the condition. Simply put, the IT band is a fibrous piece of connective tissue that runs from the outside of the hip (iliac crest) down across the knee and inserts onto the proximal portion of the lower leg bone (tibia). It is a very common runner's injury and is the result of the band rubbing over the lateral femoral condyle (the bony protrusion on the outside of the leg just above the knee). It usually is a fixable injury if you reduce your running mileage and do the things I listed above. Usually it occurs when a runner increases his or her mileage too quickly.

Well, my IT band had been quiet for awhile. I was really feeling that I beat the problem. However, 7 miles into a 10 mile run on Saturday the pain returned. I was left with the decision to either push on and risk further damage (and pain) or stop and risk missing out on my final peak weeks of training. Amazingly I chose to stop and salvage the knee. I am surprised by my decision. In the past I would have chosen to push on and deal with the consequences later. However, I really want to race in the 1/2 Ironman in September and if I can't run at all the race is off. It's not the pain that made me stop. By the time I reach 7-8 miles of running or 60 miles of biking pretty much everything hurts. Rather it's the implication that I could be doing some sort of permanent damage.

I have to get this problem fixed to allow for adequate training for the Lake Placid Ironman next year. Right now I plan to reduce my mileage slightly, take Ibuprofen, ice the knee, and use a foam roller to break down some of the adhesions and scar tissue. Hopefully this will be enough to allow me to race in the 1/2 Ironman. My biggest fear is that I will not be able to get in an 11-12 mile run before the race. I will just have to rely on my cardiovascular fitness and determination to get through the race. I hope I have enough of both come raceday.

Monday, July 25, 2005

t minus 362 days

Today I did it. I signed up to race in the Lake Placid Ironman race to be held on July 23, 2006. No stopping now...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lake Placid Ironman Sign Up Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning is the day I sign up for Lake Placid 2006 Ironman. I've been watching the finish line of this year's race over the webcast all afternoon and evening. What an amazing and powerful sight. It's the Ironman! It's such a big committment of time, energy, emotion, etc. I hope I'm ready. I have gotten some great encouragement from some old friends who have completed the race. My wonderful, supportive and understanding wife has agreed to "put up with" all the training hours I will be logging in next year. My body is fit. My mind is set. I'm ready. One year from now I will cross that finish line. It has been said that to understand Ironman you have to complete an Ironman. I want to understand.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

PrairieMan Sign Up

It's been a week since my last post. I should really try to post more often but this week has been really busy. I had good training runs, rides and swims this week. I am in the phase currently of increasing my mileage to reach a peak in about 5 weeks. This week's totals are: 6,000 meters swimming, 160 miles biking, 22 miles running. That is my heaviest week thusfar. Amazingly, me knee problems are not acting up. This morning I rode the Cedar Hill route with some friends (55 miles). It was tough because there are some steep hills and some long climbs (at least for Texas). I have really seen an improvement in my riding ability thanks to training with several of the guys from the YMCA. The biggest news is that I officially signed up for the PrairieMan 1/2 Ironman race scheduled for September 11, 2005. As I've said before it will be a tough race and a big part of the battle was signing up.

On Monday morning (two days) I will need to sign up for the Lake Placid Ironman race to be held in July 2006. It requires a committment 1 year in advance. That's a long time but the training will take a solid 6 months or more depending on how much I slide in the off-season. I'm intimidated to do that race. It's the IRONMAN (140.6 miles in one day). However, if I train properly and smart it is possible to complete it and finish strong. Until next time...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ironhead Race Report

The Ironhead Dallas Triathlon is now complete. I did not quite make my goal of going under 2 hr 30 min. Final time 2 hr 32 min. Overall I am happy with my performance under the given conditions...well, except for the run.

The swim was a typical open water course. The wind was fairly strong and the chop was heavy at times. Overall time 25 min 17 sec. That was good enough for 4th in my age group. I am happy with my swim pace and time.

The bike went remarkably well for me. I averaged 22.5 mph for the 26 miles (a new personal record). The wind was a bit stiff on the open parts of the course and that kept me from averaging 23 mph (maybe next year). There was a huge dead armadillo on the side of road. Nothing a bit of Texas flavor on the race course. My biggest goal on the bike was to not get caught by too many of the people I beat on the swim.

Of course the triathlon has to end with a run. I can't run at all. My form was sloppy, my legs ached, and my pace was a whopping 8 min 57 sec per mile. That unfortunately dropped me way back in the overall and age group standings. There has to be something I can do to improve my run. Maybe hire a running coach. I will need to keep working on speed drills and improve my form.

Overall, I am pleased with my results. Didn't beat my time goal but only missed it by 2 minutes. If I can improve my run I think I can achieve my goal. The 1/2 Ironman will be the next race on that course. The run (13.2 miles) goes out across the dam in the middle of the noonday sun (The only shade is under the water station tables). It was hot out there today but nothing like it will be in September. I will have to continue to run in the late afternoon sun at least once per week. Also, I need to practice my brick workouts. Off to officially put down my money for the 1/2 Ironman. Until next time.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Day Before Ironhead

Tomorrow I will be racing in the Ironhead Triathlon. It is an Olympic distance event at Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. The training has gone well and I have backed off a little bit this week in order to rest my legs. Unfortunately, I have encountered a problem with the brakes on my bike and will need to have them replaced. Hopefully the bike shop can get them tuned up a little bit before tomorrow and then put new ones on next week.

My goal for tomorrow's race is to break 2 hrs 30 minutes for my total time. That will require me to swim the 1500 meters in about 22 minutes, Bike the 25.5 miles at a speed of 22 mph (1 hr 10 min), and run the 6.2 miles in 55 min (8 min 52 sec per mile). That would make my total time 2 hrs 27 min. Unfortunately that only allows 3 minutes for transitions and usually my total transition time is 4-5 minutes. If I ride at 22.5 mph I will gain 2 minutes on the bike. If I run at 8 min 30 sec per mile I will gain 2 min 16 sec on the run. Overall, as I crunch the numbers a finishing time of 2 hr 30 min is going to be tough but I'll give it a go. I'll update the blog after the race.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bonk

Yesterday after leaving work I decided to try and get in a 35-40 mile ride at moderate pace since I have a race this Sunday. Unfortunately 6 miles from home thunderstorms began to roll in. Amazingly, I made the responsible decision to turn back and not try to ride through the rain. Jenny (my wife) was surprised that chose to come home as opposed to being a fool and trying to ride through thunderstorms. When she asked why I turned back I appropriately said "I have responsibilities now...kids, work, wife." Of course she figured me out and said, "I suspect you were worried about your bike before me and the kids." Sadly I hung my head as I had been exposed.

After returning home I went for a 4 mile run at a quick tempo and that's when I experienced my first 'bonk.' I didn't think I had gone too hard on the bike (only 12 miles) but I had pushed it hard to beat the rain. Then I started my run out at a quick pace (for me). Of course the 98 degree temps and level red ozone atmosphere didn't help any. About 2 miles into the run my legs got very heavy, my breathing became labored, and I felt nauseous (almost vomited at the corner of Merrill and Midway). My first bonk.

I had to walk for about 1/4 mile to try and recover but was able to pick it back up and make it home at a slower pace. It was a good learning experience. Despite the series of misfortunes I still ran the 3 miles at a pace faster than my last timed 5K race. I guess the hard work is paying off...I'm getting faster.

I did learn that I don't do well if I am not taking in hydration every 10-15 minutes. I suspect I will have to carry liquids for the 1/2 Ironman race unless they have water stations every 1 mile or so. I also need to remember to take in some calories 30-45 minutes before a run/ride/etc. Well, that's enough memories from yesterday. I have to taper back a little bit this week in anticipation of the Olympic race on Sunday. I just received the starting order and my group gets to go first. That is perfect for me since the swim is my strong event. It will be fun to push hard and try to make it out of the water in the first group.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Quest to be an Ironman

Well, here I am finally joining the Internet culture and creating my very own blog. For those of you new to this (as I am) a 'blog' is simply a "web--log." As best I can tell it is a place to record just about anything you desire; a journal of sorts. Of course, unlike a hand-written journal, it has the potential to reach the farthest corners of the earth and can be read more than just yourself. You may ask what brought me to this point and why am I on a quest for Ironman. I hope to use this blog to record my thoughts over the coming months (and years) with the hope that someday my children, family and friends may better understand why I want to be an Ironman. Also, I believe the written record provided here will help serve as a motivational tool for me on especially hard days. Here is my brief story.

For the past 18 months I have competed recreationally in triathlons. I initially started in order to lose some weight, get in shape and have something different to do after work. I'm now close to 40 pounds lighter and am in much better physical condition than I was when I started. In the beginning I chose Sprint triathlons (approx .5 mi swim, 14 mi bike, 5K run). I found these to be both enjoyable and challenging. I began to see improvement in my speed and endurance and this year began to compete in Olympic distance races (about double what is listed above). Again, I have seen improvements in my physical conditioning and overall well-being. That being said, there has been a little voice in my head telling me to push harder and go longer.

Well, the next logical step is a 1/2 Ironman race (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run) and there just so happens to be one nearby on September 11, 2005. At this point I have hesitated to sign up over fear of a nagging knee injury (more on that another day). However in the recent weeks I have really been able to push up my training distances with minimal ill effects. As soon as I am finished composing this entry I plan to officially sign up for the 1/2 Iron distance race in my town. Of course that leads to the next obvious question: "When are you going to do an Ironman race?" More on that another day. Enjoy reading my blog. I'll have to see how this goes and if I can make regular entries.