Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Triathlon gods are appeased

At some point this season I angered the Triathlon gods. I fear that I mocked them by over-training and they inflicted me with

A stress fracture in my right hip
A cold immediately following recovery from the stress fracture
A pulled calf muscle in my left leg shortly after recovery from the cold.

These aflfictions took place right as the season was heating up and the last one started to heal just as the season was winding down. I believe I have done my penance through appropriate recovery, a reduction in my race schedule and a slight reduction in my training volume. I have been rewarded with two consecutive days of completely awesome high volume training. Yesterday I did 4600 meters in the pool at race pace and followed that up with an easy 30 mile bike. Today I did a 10.3 mile tempo run on a hilly course and followed that up with an 80 mile bike from my home in Rio Rancho to the Doc Long Picnic area on the opposite side of the Sandia Mountains. I briefly considered climbing the mountain, which would have added an additional 20 miles round trip but I dare not mock the Triathlon gods again…they can be cruel task masters.

Below are the elevation profiles for my morning run and bike. The bike profile is just one way without the return trip. It would only be a mirror image since I followed precisely the same route home.

Fortitudine Vincimus!

Friday, August 25, 2006

What the hail?!

We have been having an incredible amount of rain here in Albuquerque over the past two months and I have had several opportunities to ride in heavy rain storms. The storms in New Mexico are very typical of desert storms; clear sky with some towering cumulus clouds that will start to form an anvil head, cloud turns black, heavy winds ensue and then the fury of the heavens lets loose as rain comes down in blinding sheets for the next 10 to 20 minutes then it tapers off and it's clear again. The rains have been welcome to a degree because we are in the midst of a drought that is going on 7 years I believe. However, they have caused a great deal of damage as well.

Yesterday as I was riding my bike home from work one of these monster storms struck and this time it was accompanied with hail ranging is size from pea to lima bean. This is not the kind of weather a New Mexican is used to riding in. Any experts in wet weather cycling can feel free to add your advice but here is the technique I developed for riding in a hail storm.

1) Get into the smallest possible profile
2) Remain calm
3) Continue to focus on the road ahead
4) Pay special attention at intersections
5) Continue to pedal at a nice even cadence
6) Escape deep inside and find your "happy place"…ouch!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What it all means

My high school football coach, Joe Bob Tyler, I went to school in Texas so you do say Joe Bob, said once that the most terrible thing in life is to discover one day that yours is full of regrets. This is a man who knew something about appreciating life as one who had survived the Bataan Death March. I have really tried to hang on to that idea and tried to live my life without regrets. One thing I have discovered is that regrets aren't necessary if you have the capacity to take full responsability for your life and your actions, to stare life down and face it without calling upon anything external. This allows you to accept and learn from your mistakes a.k.a. potential regrets.

Actually I guess it is more accurate to say that I discovered this second hand through the reading of many an existentialist text. If I had to claim a philosophical home it would have to be existentialism.

Why do I even bring this up? I've been reading Tri blogs for a little while now and I keep running across entries that have to do with meaning and the creation of meaning. Since I've been doing triathlons I've also been asked a number of times "Why do you do it?" I was asked the same thing about the ultramarathon I ran, my running of three marathons in three months and my completion of 20 events so far this year.

I suppose I have several potential answers but in my philosophical musings I am reminded of an essay by Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus" in which Camus relays the apparent pointlessness of Sisyphus' esixtance but acknowledges that Sisyphus ultimatly finds meaning in his existance, to eternally push a stone up a hill only to have it roll back down so that he has to begin the task again, through the simple act of applying himself fully to his task.

To quote some of the writing:
"As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain.

It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock."

So I guess that's it. When I look deeply at myself I discover that I am not a great man, not a powerful man, not a rich man and as far as my atheletic prowess goes, not a praticularly talented man. However, I do walk back down the mountain with shoulders squared and jaw set, I get my footing, lean my shoulder and place my cheek against that cold stone and prepare for another push. In my life I have found something inside that allows me to be stronger than my rock and my participation in endurance sports is an expression of that, my choice to work with the homeless is an expression of that, my choice to be a vegan is an expression of that, my choice to acknowledge that from great suffering comes the capacity to experience great happiness is an expression of that.

Oklahoma City RedMan 140.6, we have a date on September 23rd 2006.
Soma 70.3, we have a date on October 29th 2006.
Ironman Arizona, we have a date on April 15th 2007.

I leave you with a quote by another favorite writer, Victor Frankel.

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

V for Victory - The Outlaws did it!

I am pleased to announce that the triathlon team I am on, the New Mexico Outlaws, pulled off a victory in the New Mexico State Team Championships at teh Socorro Chili Harvest Triathlon last Saturday. It was a great race and everyone had a good time. I was worried that I may do poorly because of a pulled soleus but I taped it up and put quarter inch heal lifts in my running shoes and was able to go with only a little discomfort.

I am reminded on occasions like this just how great it is to be on a team and to have these kinds of semi-serious state wide competition between folks who race together all the time. Because it was the team championships the race draws a lot of the "usual suspects" from around the state and it is always fun to get to see them again. The Chili Harvest is also a very popular race for first timers and locals in Scorro. The race was capped at 330 registrants and I believe 303 arrived. There was a huge field of Clydes this year by New Mexico Standards, 29 of us in all. I was fortunate enough to place 1st overall for the Clydes, just a scant 11 seconds ahead of the Jr. Clyde winner and fellow Outlaw. Me and Wiz, our team captain, traded places this year. Last year I beat him by 13 seconds and this year he took me by 11 seconds.

Anyhow, here is how the Outlaws ended up in the final standings.
Jon – 3rd M 15 – 17
Amy – 2nd F 30 – 34
Mark – 3rd M 35 – 39
Jane – 8th F 35 – 39
Mark – 1st M40 – 44
Roger – 2nd M40 – 44
Michael – 5th M40 – 44
Paul – 7th M45 – 49
Greg – 8th M45 – 49
Chuck – 10th M45 – 49
Guido – 13th M45 – 49
Naomi – 6th F45 – 49
Kathy – 8th F45 – 49
Carl - 3rd M50 – 54
Debi – 6th F50 – 54
Miguel – 1st M55 – 59
John – 1st M65 – 69
Jay – 1st Jr. Clydesdale
Cody – 3rd Jr. Clydesdale
Brian – 1st Masters Clydesdale
Karen – 1st Masters Athena
Misty – 3rd Masters Athena

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The good with the bad...the bad with the good

The bad news first. I somehow hurt myself on a slow run this morning. It actually started Sunday on my long run. I was doing 14 miles aiming for a nice easy 9:30 to 10 minute pace. I started having a little stiffness in my left calf but was bothered more bothered by some blisters that had come up on my toes. I took Monday and Tuesday off as usual and then went on a 6 mile easy run this morning. I hit about mile two and there was a sharp pain in my left calf, actually it is just below the calf, so I stopped immediatly and turned around and walked back to the gym. This being the case I did what I think is the smart thing and wrote the race director for the RedMan triathlon and asked him to move me from the iron distance to the half, which he did without a problem.

It's a big dissapointment but it just isn't in the cards this year. My plan in preperation for the RedMan was to get in 1 Olympic, 1 half, 2 more Olympics (1 is Las Vegas) and then the iron. I ran the first Olympic on a hip with a stress fracture, didn't know that at the time just knew I was in pain. I skipped the half and did the aquabike instead while I was healing. I went on to do the next two Olympics and thought I was back on track for the iron with the expectation that I wouldn't do as well on the run as I had originally hoped but today tears it. I don't have enough time to let this recent injury recovery and still get my running legs in shape for an iron distance race by September 23 and I don't want my first iron to be nothing more than a grim attempt at survival with the very real possability of being pulled from the course, those are already possabilities when you take on an iron distance race.

Oh well...Ironman Arizona 2007...we have a date!

The good news...after winning the Clydesdale division at the Tall City Triathlon last weekend I have earned the points needed to claim the title of Masters Clydesdale Champion for the 2006 Southwest Challenge Series. It is completely impossible for anyone to win it regardless of what I do the rest of the season. It was my #1 goal this season and as it turns out it is the only goal I will reach and I feel great! Even if only for one season I'm the #1 Master Clyde in New Mexico and West Sometimes the breaks go your way, sometimes they don't.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Double Race Report: Blogging from behind

Ugh, I've been bad about keeping up with the Blog. I've had such a great time on vacation and then came back swamped at work. Add to that an Olympic and a Sprint and you've got one tired puppy.

Last weekend i did the Las Vegas Olympic Distance Triathlon at Storie Lake, Las Vegas New Mexico. The outcome of this race for me was a combination of effort and dumb luck and just plain dumb. I'll begin with the dumb. I stayed up to 11 pm, woke up at 3 am to drive the 2 hours to Las vegas and "fueled" up with a quart of coffee soymilk and two servings of oatmeal. I was sick as hell before I left not to metion tired. Who knows where my brain was. For that matter, who knows where my basic survival instincts were.

Anyhow, to keep the kvetching about my self-induced problem brief i will just note that I covered the distance in 2:58:00. I got increasingly sick during the race and was unable to take any nutrition because my stomach was doing flips, which means I was becomming increasingly dehydrated and glycogyn deficit. My swim was 34:14 with a T1 of 1:26, neither of which is bad. My bike was 1:16:27 with a T2 of 50 seconds, a bit slow on the bike but adequate given the increasing stomach upset and lack of hydration though the T2 was good. The run is where things really fell apart. I REALLY had to throw up but absolutly could not. I ducked into the bushes a few times to try and force myself to throw up but nothing ever happened but dry heaves. I just had to push through it as best I could and I completed the run in 1:05:06.

The end result...1st place clyde out of two officially, there was actually a third clyde earning points in the Southwest Challenge Series but he was not allowed to compete as a clyde this race because they require a 215 cutoff. With him included I was still first. Just dumb luck. Last year this time would have earned me 4th in a field of 7.

The second triathlon is the Tall City Triathlon in Midland, TX (results). I also took first clyde in this race. It was a 500 yard pool swim, 22K bike and 5K run. I did the swim in 9:19; bike in 36:05 and run in 26:30. My swim was pretty average, my bike was very good but it didn't feel very good. I felt slow but held a 22.73 mph average. My run was slow at an 8:33 pace. I guess that post injury I just have a lot or run loss that needs making up but not this season. While I have a couple more sprints left I really need to settle into my ironman training to prepare for the Oklahoma City RedMan on Spetember 23.

Next weekend, Socorro Chili Harvest Triathlon, the NM State team championships.