Bad days. You know them. You have them. Like bird poop on your new car, having a rough 24 hours is inevitable. But then, there are those mother of all moments. The coup de gras of suck. That was this WEEK. That’s right, seven days of having a foot in my ass.
First, starting last Friday, I came down with a cold again. Unlike prior though, this cold was accompanied by a horrible rash on my upper body. I’m not sure if the rash was due to the cold virus, or that from that “industrial” smelling shirt I got in the mail from Gap the day prior. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was itchy, painful, and full of SUCK. As soon as that went away, I started the week with a wonderful party with some lawyers and a court reporter. Long story there, but not for this blog. Followed that up with several school assignments to turn in while also trying to celebrate my wife’s birthday. Then of course, on my long planned training day, mother nature decided to slap me across the face with a gusting wind and a high of the mid 40′s. I finally topped the weekend off with a boat load of more work while suffering the consequences of a fun Halloween party.
It’s been said that its times like this that makes us grow. If that’s the case, it must be on an astronomical time scale because I’m still a measly 5′ 7″. On the flip side, this has been a great training week. Despite my derm dilemmas last weekend, I got on the trainer for a good 4 hour ride. I don’t know if it was my cold medicine or just being stressed, but I had no problems hitting my marks.
Followed that with another 1.5 hours at 80% IF on Sunday.
Monday, being rash free, I jumped back into the pool. Things were looking up last week in regards to my swimming, but I struggled with my form again on Monday. It just doesn’t feel smooth anymore. It doesn’t feel fast that’s for sure.
On Tuesday, I had plenty of energy to burn after my wonderful date with the court, so I hit the track for my last long run before Arizona. 2 hours 20 minutes for 15 miles; not too shabby for a run entirely fueled by one egg muffin and one Gatorade.
On Wed, I got back in the pool again. Instead of just repeating the same thing over and over again, I decided to just focus on my form. I threw back in some of the original Total Immersion techniques I used to use. Even though I wasn’t swimming hard at all, I instantly dropped my 300 yd time from 5:15 back to 4:55. When you swim like I do, that is, mediocre, a lot more can be gained from technique versus muscle. Yes, there are a lot of opinions out there about technique. For me, I do what I like, and I like my swimming to be as zen like as possible. I could probably go faster with some other methods, but I’ll take what I can get for now:
Thursday was the big day. The last race rehearsal ride before Arizona. For this one, I took the day off from work so I could hit the road for some stress free time to myself. Unfortunately, the temps have dropped pretty good out here in Montana, and despite my winter clothing, there was just no enjoyment to windy cool temps.
After about three hours of leaning sideways, I took my ride back inside to the trainer. Fortunately, my numbers looked great. My last race rehearsal, I was way under my pNorm watts; about 129. I’m aiming for 140, and the pNorm this go around was about 137. I think I can give a little more as my short run after the six hour ride was superb. No problems at all switching disciplines and holding my expected pace of about 9:45. Most importantly, NO BACK PAIN.
Based on this, I still think I will be relatively slow on the bike for Arizona, but I expect to be having a much better time than CDA. I guess I will finish the bike somewhere around 6:30, depending on the weather.
Friday, gave myself some time off. Saturday, I hit the track for a quick interval set. Warmed up at 7:47 and then another mile at 7:12 no problem.
So, we are now three weeks from the race and in a period called taper. My workouts are cutting back big time. This week I have a three hour ride as well as a 90 minute run, but that is way better than last week. Before CDA, I really felt like I dropped the ball during the taper. I basically stopped doing any training and started gaining weight. So I’m going to focus on making sure I get these last few workouts in like clockwork so I don’t arrive at Arizona as a gigantic walrus.
This is indeed a special time again for me. The stress of training and mind numbing trainer rides has started to be replaced with the excitement of the big day. I know a lot of people start freaking out about their performance and abilities right around this moment. Fortunately, I have still been able to hold onto my stated goal for this Ironman: to have fun. I just want to get to the start line and soak it up. I want to chase scantily clad cyclists in the desert. I want to drink from a small paper cup handed to me from a volunteer. I want to shove cold sponges into my jersey. This is going to be a blast.
Lots of cool stuff coming up this week. A lot to post about. I am working on a review of my new Torhans hydration unit. I’m getting the last of my gear in this week. I also will be sharing my experiences with shipbikes.com; I am praying that I will have nothing but a glowing review to write!
Oh, and ……PATION (If you don’t understand the reference, it comes at about 3:40)
Something Old: 4 Days
It may sound impossible, but in the high tech, competitive, must-have-everything-new-and-shiny world that is triathlon, I still find room for the sentimental.
Back in 2009, as I was heading out to the expo at Coeur d ‘Alene, I noticed that my watch had completely died. Of course such atrocities only happen a day before an Ironman. After scouring the expo, I finally found a small display of cheap Timex watches. Cheap as in the low end of the model line, not as in dollar amount. Nothing is impossible in Ironman….except not spending a ton of money.
For 50 bucks, I got the watch pictured above. The very first time I hit the start button on its stopwatch was after the starting cannon went off for the 2009 Ironman Coeur d’Alene. The second time I hit the button was almost 14 hours later. Since then, this crappy 50 dollar watch has been on my wrist nearly every day over the past two years. At work. At home. In the pool. On the bike. Out running.
It’s looked better. The band is faded and eroded thanks to repeated sun and sweat. Salt particles fill in the nooks and crannies. The screen looks worse than Freddy Kruger’s crotch during a case of jock itch. Sure, there are watches out there with gold, diamond, and platinum. Watches that cost more than my house. But in the end, I would never trade any of them for this one. My trusty Timex has been done its job faithfully for over the last two years. Waking me up at 4:00 am to ride. Counting down my bike intervals. Recording my run splits. Enduring stroke after stroke in the pool. It has recorded some of my most memorable racing and training moments in the last two years, and that is why this bad baby will always be MY watch. What do you hold on to?
Time has always been an obsession for triathletes, but more often than not, for the wrong reasons. At this moment, many of my fellow triathletes are tearing their hair out with worrying about what will happen on Sunday. A stubbed toe. Hypothermia. Two flat tires. A wreck. Blisters. GI breakdown. These are just a few things that could end/ruin our big day. While June 26 is an important day, I find solace in remembering everything we have endured to get to this point. All the hours of running. Lap after lap of swimming. All those 4:00 am trainer rides. All the sacrifices our families have made for us. No matter what happens Sunday, it truly does takes a lot just to show up and plunge into that lake (especially at this temperature!) and no insane disaster, like an elephant stampeding the run course, could ever change that fact.
That being said, we all want to do our best, and I wish my teammates and fellow triathletes the best of luck. It’s time to get this party started and have some FUN! I’m finished with work, packing today, and off tomorrow. It’s insane to be able to do this without having to get on an airplane! This week, I have been just putting in light workouts to keep limber. Swam a 36:36 easy half on Monday so the swim looks back on track. More updates to come soon!