Friday, June 30, 2006

The Last BIG Weekend

Well, here it is...the final big weekend of training. It's hard to believe that a little more than 1 year ago I sat at the computer and signed up to race in the Ironman. As I prepare for this weekend's events I am reminded of all the support I have received from so many members of my family (blood relatives and triathlon family). Everyone has been nothing more than amazing. When the days have gotten long...and believe me they have in the past 4-6 has been everyone's encouragement that has pushed me along. I am now only 22 days away from the race and leave for New York in 16 days. I'll finish this week with a 6 hour ride (about 104 miles) followed by a 6-8 mile run on Saturday. Then I'll top it all off with a 3 hour run (about 21 miles) on Sunday. Then it's time to taper. I'm so ready to back off a little bit. I'm ready to race and want to get out on the course. However, there's some work that needs to be taken care of first.

Final totals for June:
Swim: 42,500 yds
Bike: 575 miles
Run: 162 miles (my heaviest month ever...and my knees and ankles still feel good!)

Total training in 2006 (so far...)

Swim: 168,544 yds
Bike: 2,758 miles
Run: 705.5 miles

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Foot Fetish

Here's what happens when you run 4.5 miles on Friday, 8 miles on Saturday, and finish up with a 20 mile run on Sunday. Again, thanks to Patty for getting me around the lake for that second lap. I may need to make a stop by her pedicure ladies to see if they can fix this mess.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Big Mental Boost

The end is certainly in sight. I had a great weekend of training. Managed to get out for a hard 70 mile ride through the hills down near Joe Pool Lake with Ed, Jason, Kyson, and Bryon. The weather was cloudy and a little rainy. The best part...the temp was only 74 degrees. It was perfect. Managed to finish the ride at about 12 noon and then headed out on the dam for another "damn dam" run. I was planning to go for 1 hour. The other guys went in to the Oasis and ate lunch (I can't blame them). This run would prove to a true mental and physical breakthrough for me.

With the cloudy/cool weather my stride seemed to feel pretty good. There were only 1-2 other cyclists out on the dam so I had alot of time to myself. As the minutes ticked by I realized I felt great. Suddenly 15 minutes down and my feet felt good and my breathing was on target. 22 1/2 minutes down and I'm ready for more (this was the point at which I had trouble the last time on the dam). Before I knew it I was at 30 minutes and about 3.8 miles away from where I started. Of course it was not a blazing pace but my feet were constantly moving and I still felt great. I ate a gel and turned for home. Oh crap! I was almost 4 miles away from the car and now I could see how far I had run. Of course just as I came to the realization that I was in for a struggle on the way home the sun came out and the temp rose almost 15 degrees immediately. Suddenly it was HOT and HUMID!

I just kept my feet moving and kept the goal in sight. I'll admit, several times on the run I imaged what it will feel like to run the final miles of the Ironman race and make a loop around the Olympic speed skating oval before crossing the finish line. I played that scene over and over in my head so many times that day.

I managed to pick up the pace for the last 1/2 mile and made it back to the car in exactly 30 minutes. That means I did an even split off the bike. Even more importantly it means I was able to properly pace myself and make it back with plenty of energy. It was during this run that I started to finally feel as if this race can be completed. I had toughed out just under an 8 mile run at an 7 min 50 sec per mile. While not blazing speed it is certainly more than I could have ever considered of doing 1 year ago.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Make sure you see 4 heads

Jason, Ed, Roni and I had the (brilliant) idea to get in an open water swim today at Lake Grapevine. I made it out of work a little early and we met at the Y for the quick drive to the lake. As we drove it became apparent that there was going to be some wind out there. As we neared the swimming area it became clear that we were screwed. Our first clue...there were more windsurfers than jet skiers on the water. The windsurfers only like to come out when the winds are whipping. We estimated that the windspeed that day was at least 18-22 mph. It was so fast in fact that there were whitecaps all across the lake. Maybe we should have reconsidered our plan at that moment. Of course, we only saw it as a challenge.

As we meandered our way down to the water the winds only seemed to strengthen. Nobody wanted to utter those fateful words..."do you think this is a good idea?" Instead we kicked off the shoes and waded into the water. There was a nice young couple on the beach smoking pot (presumably) and getting nice and comfy. Of course they would make the perfect lookouts for us in case we got into trouble. In retrospect one should not choose a lifeguard who is holding a doobie in one hand and a beer in the other. Oh well, live and learn.

We put on our brightest orange/yellow/red swim caps and told our ever-vigilent observers to call 911 if they ever didn't see 4 heads bobbing in the water. Of course that assumes they were able to count to four by this point in their day.

We headed out and had the wind at our back for the first 8 minutes. It was a great swim. You could feel the wind (and waves) pushing you along. That should have been a clue as to what lay ahead. As we turned around and began to swim back in the opposite direction we were immediately hit with huge swells (at least for an inland lake). I estimate they were 1-1 1/2 feet in height and at times would crest over your head. Every stroke was a struggle. You would paddle up one side of a wave and then crash down into the valley only to be hit in the head with the next wave as you took a breath. Certainly a little different than the YMCA pool. Although I've shared a lane with a few "bigger" fellas who can generate some "ocean motion" if you know what I mean.

This painful and tiring cycle continued until we made it back to the beach...much to the surprise of our keen watchers. Of course, after a little small talk about how bad the conditions were and the fact it was not really that safe we made the appropriate decision for anyone training for an Ironman---we turned around and did it AGAIN! What can I say, we're motivated (or stupid). Either way, all 4 heads safely returned to shore after receiving a 45 minute pummeling. Our "lifeguards" managed to hike back up to their car and went on their way, probably not sure what to think of the fools they saw swimming today. 36 days to go.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fundraising update

I haven't said much about my fundraising efforts recently. I have been truly overwhelmed with the response I have received from my father's family and friends. To date I have raised $8,405. That is actual money raised...not pledges. I am amazed. I have raised my goal from $5,000 to $10,000. I believe I can reach it. We'll just have to wait and see.

Managed to push through a very hot 7 mile run this evening. Training is still on track although I have begun to loathe swimming. I just can't seem to get motivated. May try and join Ed, Roni, and Bryon for an open water swim this Friday. That may spark my swimming demons.

In case anyone was wondering, I am still hungry. Tonight Ed and I split (and finished) an entire "GIANT" sized pizza from a local shop. I measure 18 inches in diameter. The scary thing is that I'm already hungry again.

Oh, by the way...only 39 days to go. Wow!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

This is for real

The training has nearly reached its maximum. I am putting in close to 16-18 hours of training per week. Amazingly everything is still holding up pretty well. I've got some aches and pains but that is to be expected. Yesterday I rode 5 hours by myself and then ran for an hour afterwards. That was the most boring 6 hours I have ever experienced. I actually headed out at 5 am for the ride in order to try and finish before it got too hot. Managed to have the whole workout done by 11:30 am and got to enjoy the rest of the day. Actually, I slept for a majority of the afternoon on the couch to allow myself some recovery time. Managed to go out and run 18 miles this am. My shoes did not feel too good and my feet began to really hurt. I will have to go and buy new running shoes this week. Probably need two pair for training and the other for race day. Just another expense. Overall, I managed to run 42.4 miles this week. That is my largest week to date. At this point I ONLY have 3 more weeks of hard training and then I can begin my taper. Of course that means I ONLY have 5 weeks until the race occurs. Just need to stay focused and injury-free.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's the small things that count

The last 4-5 days have been HOT here in Dallas. Temps in the high 90's to nearly 100 degrees. We ran our usual 7 miles on Tuesday in the heat. I didn't feel too good for the first 3 miles but eventually found my legs and actually added on an extra mile at the end. I suppose the 3,000 meter swim immediately prior to running may have played a role. Ed ran extremely well and had a new personal best for the route. Way to go Ed!

I have been a little concerned recently about some left knee pain that has resurfaced. I suspect it is the same injury I had about 8 months ago (likely the IT band). Unfortunately I am 45 days away from my Ironman race and don't have alot of time to slow down and heal. Fortunately it has not really been painful--just stiff. Fingers crossed, it will work itself out.

Last night (Wednesday) was a brutal evening. Jason and I headed out for our usual 46 mile Wednesday evening ride. The temps were high and the winds were from every direction. He talked me into som kind of crazy interval pick-up set. We went hard for 3,4, 5, 9, 5, 4, 3 minutes with 30 seconds rest in between. I stayed with him for the 3 and the 4 minute sessions but he dropped in the middle of the 5 min session on a hill and then I did the rest on my own. Again, my legs felt heavy and sore. I have been feeling a "deep" ache in both quadriceps and hamstrings for awhile now. I had hoped that my relative reduction in training volume last week would have helped with this but apparently it did not. Of course my reduction was not as significant as I had planned considering we did a hard 70 mile ride/5 mile run on Sat and a 15 mile run on Sunday. Regardless of how I felt I pressed on and made it through the 46 miles. I began to get worried about running in the heat afterwards. It was close to 100 degrees by 6:30 pm when we finished the ride.

I decided to "suck it up" and get out and pound the pavement for at least a 30 minute but preferably a 45 minute brick session. After a quick stop in the garage to change clothes and hydrate I headed out. My legs felt pretty good but clearly the heat was going to slow me down. My breathing was too quick (a good indication that one is getting dehydrated). I made the decision to slow down my pace and just keep on moving forward. At the halfway point I was cooked (literally and figuratively thanks to the heat). I quickly rehydrated at a water fountain and then turned back for home. It was at this moment that I drew some strength from a very small "thing."

When I looked down at my feet at the water fountain I noticed a brightly colored, beaded bracelet. I had completely forgotten that before I left the garage I had tied a little bracelet Rachel made for me into the loop on my right shoe. I don't know what made me tie it in rather than leave it next to my keys. As I began to run I thought about her generosity and sweetness. This little trinket made of colorful beads on a pipecleaner now affixed to my right shoe was the best motivator I could have asked for at the time.

I started to remember one of the reasons I began this journey almost a year ago. I wanted my girls to someday look back at what had gone on during my summer of 2006 and realize that if they worked hard, remained dedicated and persevered they, too, could achieve anything they want in life. While training for an Ironman is perhaps not the greatest metaphor for life's struggles so far it has taught me so much about myself and my desire to succeed. And thanks to a little child's handmade bracelet (and the implied support brought with it) I made it through that run and finished with my head high, my feet fast, and confidence growing.

45 days to go....

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm hungry

Last week was a good training week. I decided to ease off just a little to let my body recover before the final big push for Ironman. After looking at the numbers I really didn't back off that much. It's hard to judge how much recovery I need right now. I have become accustomed to everything "just hurting." My legs hurt every day, but it's a good kind of pain. The kind that lets me know I'm getting stronger and faster...I hope.

Finished out the week with a 70 mile ride with multiple hills and then a quick change into running shoes for a painful 5.5 mile run in the mid-day heat. Big mistake. I ended up having to walk some but I got it done. Learned that I need better hydration towards the end of a long ride. Mental note for Ironman logged. Afterwards we ate at our usual lunchtime restaurant and I got the standard bacon cheeseburger. The plate was clean in a matter of 5 minutes.

Woke up early Sunday to get in a 15 mile run at the lake. Managed to run at about an 8 min 20 sec pace. Not my fastest run but I kept the watch running during water stops. Overall, my legs felt good. I have been having a little left knee pain again but it is working itself out.

I've learned something this past week. I am hungry all the time. I can't stop eating. I eat fruit by the pound; 2-3 bagels at a time; a gallon of milk every 3 days; a large pizza and salad in one sitting; 4 hot dogs at a time; 3 hamburgers at a time; a whole chicken on Sunday night (feathers not included).

I estimate I consume about 4,500-8,000 calories per day. I can't keep the beast in my belly satisfied. My weight has been stable--albeit almost 45 pounds less than I weighed 2 years ago. I've heard that your food bills go up substantially during Ironman training but I had no idea.

Well, that's enough for now. I have to go eat...again. Train hard and Tri Like Hell!