Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Up until the end of July, my season was spectacular and I realize that. However, the shin injury set me back...way back. It's one of the most frustrating thing an athlete can go through. I've done anything and everything to try and remedy the situation, but it doesn't seem to be working. On top of that, I've put in hours upon hours of time on the bike. More time than I have in any year past. And just 8 days ago, I was feeling great! Well, the shin is still an issue, which I'm dealing with, but everything else felt awesome and ready to go.
But something happened in the last week that doesn't feel so good. It's called burn out. Or exhaustion. I don't care what the hell you call it, it sucks! I just want this damn race over with now. I am tired of training and not making any gains. I'm tired of trying to baby the shin just to have it hurt the instant I step out for a run. I'm tired of 2 workouts a day and neither of them feeling particularly good. Let's just face it, I'm tired.
At this point in the game, that's OK. I'm supposed to be tired. I've racked up tons of hours on the bike and in the pool and now it's time for all that training volume to be lowered...slowly and systematically. Boy, do I need it. I just about had a break down on the bike over the weekend. The wind was not my friend and it simply beat the energy out of me.
So with just under 2 weeks to go, I'm not feeling so great. I'm doubting everything I have and haven't done in preparation for this race. I don't want to be outside anymore, it's too cold. It's too early to try and predict weather conditions for the race, yet I find myself on weather.com every day trying to scope out the extended forecast. I wonder if my shin is going to hold up for 26 miles or if I'm going to end up being forced to quit at some point during the run. And I wonder why on earth I signed up for another Ironman (it's BC's fault).
I welcome the taper. I know I'll have pent up energy and I want that feeling. Sure, I'll be driving everyone else crazy with my inability to sit still, but at least I'll HAVE some energy. In a few days, I will start packing for the trip. It's starting to sink in. We're in the home stretch of the preparation for Ironman Florida 2007!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I don't have time for a big ol' long post, but suffice it to say that the day was absolutely beautiful for a marathon. The start of the race was a cool 57 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. I was a bit chilly as I stood in the start corral wearing shorts, long-sleeved shirt, throw-away long-sleeved shirt (that came down past my shorts!), shorts, gloves, hat and sunglasses. I had goosebumps on my legs and I was bummed I wouldn't be starting soon. See, I was going to just hop in with him when he got to Mile 3. He was feeling good, but was really quiet as he typically is before long runs.
The entire field (marathon, relays and half-marathon) was about 4500 people. A very nice change from the ridiculous 35000+ at Chicago! Someone told me there were only 600 people signed up for the full marathon. Wow, that would be a lonely course! Fortunately, that was false and it was over 1000 full marathoners.
After a short delay and the singing of the national anthem, I jumped out of the corral and over to the start line. With such a small field, meaning a small group of spectators, it was easy for me to step right up to get a great view of the start of the race. Watching everyone head out on what was such a great day bummed me out that I wasn't able to run the full race. After all the runners passed by (about 5 minutes), I hopped over to the mile 3 mark and started chatting with another spectator.
Within several minutes, the lead runner was coming by. Huh? Mile 3 already? How can that be? But I didn't start my watch, so I wasn't really sure how much time had passed. I scanned the crowd for him so I could jump in. It was easy to find him and he told me we weren't at mile 3...it was mile 1.5. Well, now that made more sense! That Mile 3 marker must've been for the 5K they were having later on in the day! Oh well, I ran alongside him and we talked. He was keeping a very steady pace for the several miles I ran with him. I let him set the speed as my shin hurt with every step. I was very disappointed that this pain never went away throughout my entire run. It didn't get worse, but it was there enough to remind me to slow down on the downhill sections.
Finally, he tells me to go on ahead, he's going to slow down. I need to pick up the pace anyway, so I run off telling him I'll see him near where I need to split off. It's fun to start slower and pick up the pace as you run by people. My heart rate shot up quickly, so I backed off. We went onto this little bike path and I wished I had a camera with me. The colors of the trees and surrounding forest was beautiful. However, this section that circled a small lake was also kinda hilly! It didn't last long, maybe 2-2.5 miles, and we were back out on the roads. By now I was finished with the time I had scheduled for my run, so I just stepped off to the side and started walking, waiting for him to catch up to me. I was happy to be done to stop pounding on the shin.
He caught up, I started running again with him and he said he was still feeling very strong, but then the split came. Full marathoners to the right, half marathoners to the left. He said he wanted to turn left. Oh no, I reminded him. You didn't come down here to do just 13 miles. He was in good spirits and I headed out towards the half marathon finish. It was a bit humiliating, people telling me I was "almost there" and that I was "doing good!" as I walked by. I just smiled and kept walking reminding myself to stick to the plan.
The finishers turned right and I went left to walk to the car. I changed, drove over to the CVS for 2 cold Diet Cokes and some ice. One I would drink now and one for him, should he need one at the finish. I then looked at the map and drove on out to what I thought was mile 21. Within 15 minutes, here comes the Saint, doing very well, according to my watch! I snapped a few photos and got in and ran with him again. He was struggling a little, but I could tell by watching, he was still going to finish. He looked fine(well, maybe a little salty!), it was a mental struggle for him at this point.
I got back in the car, parked as close to the finish line as I could get, and headed out to find a good spot at the finish line.
I sat down close to the finish and cheered in the runners. Most looked great and finished with smiles on their faces. There were a few people walking it in, cramping up so badly, they could barely pick up their legs. The crowds were small and easy to navigate through. My legs felt a little tired and I had to move around a bit, but all in all, it was a great day for a run.
He finished, not as well as he would have liked (don't we all say that?), but he was able to get in the full 26.2...and without a trip to the medical tent! It bummed me out that I couldn't run the whole thing, but with the upcoming IM, I wouldn't have done it anyway. It just seemed like such a great race...I think I'll have to put in on the schedule in the future.
Monday, October 15, 2007
All of us were at the Chicago Marathon last weekend, so for the first several miles of the run, there were lots of stories about the marathon. Lots of thoughts, opinions, observations and speculations of what will happen with the race in the years to come. This made the first few miles just fly by as we recapped the marathon day's events. It was weird to think that just 8 days ago, those runners faced such brutal heat. And today, we were running in perfect conditions. Just shows how you can never predict what the weather will be like in Chicago!
I'm still getting lots of you asking about the shin and it's coming along. I greatly appreciate all your support! This has been a pretty hard, difficult time for me to deal with such an injury and it's so comforting to know how many of you are concerned. (then again, is there ever a good time for an injury??) Is it 100%? Hell no. It's such a frustrating experience, but you know how the story goes...these are the kind of character building experiences that makes a person. It's not the injury, but how you deal with it that determines what kind of person you are. And I...like BF, will not let this deter me in my quest for another ironman finish.
The training has been going along solid. Strong swims, strong bikes...run? Eh, not so much, but I'm doing what I can. Today was fun. Thanks, peeps, for joining me out there and keeping me company in the run. You made the time pass by quickly - and I appreciate it!
The countdown to the Ironman is on. 18 days to go!
Friday, October 12, 2007
- The water is nice and clear, why do I keep cutting these turns short?
- Why do so many old people walk "laps" in the pool?
- What the hell is that floating in my lane?
- I wonder how cold it's going to be outside for my long ride this weekend.
- I miss summer already.
- What time is it?
- Keep your head lower in the water.
- Try to remember to KICK!
- Oops, missed another turn.
- Hope this guy doesn't try hopping in my lane.
- Do those Swimp3 players work? I could use some music.
- Shoot - was that 650 or 700?
- Concentrate on the bilateral breathing - evens out the stroke.
- How many jellyfish are there going to be at IMFL?
- I think Sheila was stung in the face by a jellyfish...
- Damn, this is a long-ass set.
- Maybe I should cut it short.
- No, I can't. Keep going. Smooth.
- This is so boring. Ironman swimming isn't this boring.
- At least I'm not getting the crap beat out of me during this swim.
- I think my fingers are getting pruny.
- My goggles are too tight.
- What goggles am I going to use for the race?
- Am I done yet?
- That dude needs to stop looking at me.
And that was just the first 1000. I finished the whole thing, times staying consistent. The thing I need to think about is how much different swimming in salt water is going to be. I'd like to think it's not going to be that much different, but I don't know for sure. It's not like I've done any amount of "real" swimming in salt water. My experiences with salt water usually involve a mask, snorkel and fins along with nice, cold alcoholic beverages afterwards! Not much I can do at this point, so I'm not spending any time worrying about it. After all, the swim is just the warm up....the "introduction" to the day!
Monday, October 08, 2007
And so it continued with more and more runners coming by and taking not 1, but 2 or 3 or even more cups of water. I always laughed at the left over fluids we had at such an early aid station, but this wasn't the case this year. We gave out everything in a hurry! I think the pace was around 4:45 when we had to start scrambling to fill more cups of water.
I did as much as I could and then headed over to the 15K mark to get in a short run myself. I lost Sean Alcock, my "pacer", so I just jumped in randomly. I was smiling and happy to be able to get in a few miles. The shin hurt, but not too bad. It was really cool to be living the marathon experience without the pressure of doing all 26.2 miles. I caught up with JO and ran with him for a few miles before he said he wanted to walk and I should just go on. The pace was slow and we had to wait in line to get Gatorade/water at each and every stop. I thought that was strange...these were not even back of the packers, yet the aid stations looked trashed.
I hopped on along, a spring in my step since I was still fresh and I caught up to the Saint! He was doing so well! He said he felt good, but felt like quitting, it was so hot. Oh, you're not going to quit. (he always says that) We chatted for a bit, and walked together for a bit. He seemed to be doing well and told me to move on. I did that because I know how he hates me to "hang back" for him and I needed to get in some running today!
LOTS and LOTS of people walking and it was only because of a bunch of zig zagging that I could keep running, even though it wasn't fast. I started to see a lot of runners cramping up, pulling off to the sides. I stopped several times to help runners in distress. One girl was just bawling, but more because she knew she couldn't finish, she wasn't in that much pain. Another guy just needed me to get him some fluids, and yet another just needed some help to get over to the side of the road to sit down for a few minutes.
I tried to encourage those runners that were actually still running. I patted a lot of "1st timers" on the back and told them "good job." They appreciated it as their faces lit up and they smiled back with a big "THANKS!" I kept on, passing walker after walker, runner after runner...I actually felt "fast"!! The sound of sirens blaring was constant. At every turn, I heard an ambulance coming to help some fallen runner. Then I came up to KK who wasn't doing so good. I know she trained hard for this event, but she had serious cramps. She tried several times to run, but the pain was too much. She even tried to throw up to see if that would help, but nothing was working. We walked on, chatting, just pushing through the heat. Tony caught up to us, all smiles and sat down to wring out his socks. He actually had puddles from where he squeezed his socks out. Yuck. That's what you get for pouring water over your head!!! Well, it seemed someone actually dumped it over him, thinking it would help. Blisters, people. That only causes BLISTERS.
Around mile 22 we were being yelled at to walk. We were already walking, so it wasn't an issue, but we wondered what was going on. We were told the race was "cancelled" and it was "over." Yeah, it's over for the winners, but it isn't technically over until you finish, right? There were officers telling everyone to STOP running and that the clocks were turned off. This was for our safety and there were no more aid stations on the course. Now we were at mile 23...
I could talk about the rest, but it's irrelevant. The heat wasn't a surprise and I do feel most of these runners could handle the heat. What they could not handle, however, was the lack of fluids provided for them. At the end of the race, I learned that the first 2 aid stations were completely OUT of fluid...for people on a 4:30 pace!!! That's nuts! No wonder our aid station was hit so hard. This was the first time most of these people had access to fluid. I can say I've raced in worse (temperature) conditions. However, I don't know how I could've handled not being able to drink until mile 6 of the race. It was just too hot of a day for that and probably what caused the 350+ people to seek medical attention.
Never before have they "called" the Chicago Marathon. And I hope it never happens again. To anyone who raced - congrats. Whether you did the whole course or not, you survived some of the most brutal marathon conditions. Now take the experience and learn from it.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Within minutes of my start at Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I was panicking, out of breath and the adrenaline was shooting throughout my body. I wanted to cry. This is so not how I wanted my day to start. Sometimes I wonder if it's because I try to situate myself toward the front of the pack, with the more aggressive swimmers. But as I talk to anyone who has done an Ironman, it seems this feeling happens to just about everyone (well, maybe not the pros). The sad part about this is that the swim should be the "warm up" to what is supposed to be a great day. The swim is my strength and I really want to enjoy this part of the race. Unfortunately, I don't. If I'm really lucky, by about half way through the swim, the field opens up or I swing wide to get away from all the bodies kicking and flailing their arms (well, that's what it feels like their doing!). I wonder why the hell the guy next to me won't move over and I have to remind myself he's probably boxed in just like I am. I try very hard not to waste energy on getting angry and frustrated. See this, I'm already thinking about how dreadful the swim will be and I still have 30 days left to go through this wonderful experience!
Bike - I don't care who you are, 112 miles on a bike isn't fun. Oh yeah, it's great in the beginning...and if you're lucky, the middle is pretty good, too. But then, just like the "wall" in the marathon, I guess we have a "mountain" on the bike. It typically comes around mile 80 or 90 when nothing feels good and you just want to be off the bike. If you're reading this thinking, "well, at that point, you don't have much more to go," just stop yourself. 20 or 30 miles is a very LONG way to go when you're feeling spent and you're sore from being in the aero position not to mention your crotch (yes, I said it). It takes a very strong mental attitude to push through this time and at Couer d'Alene, I almost didn't make it. My mental will was weak. Thankfully, there was no aid station at my low point, or I would've pulled over and called it a day. I couldn't just stop in the middle of nowhere. By the time I got to the next aid station, I was feeling a little better. But it was pure happiness when I pulled into T2 and was able to get off that bike!!
The run - ah, the run. Er, um, run/walk. Or, uh, just walk. Also known as "the death march." If you're lucky, you can start off running. I think many people need to start off walking just to get their legs used to being off the bike. And if you're even luckier, you can continue to run. When I set out to do this upcoming Ironman, my goal was not to walk during the marathon portion. After the injury in July, I considered pulling out of this race. Once I decided, just a few weeks ago, that I could still do this race, my goal then changed to just being able to finish. And that's so not me. But with the lack of run training, I have no idea how this will go. It's too late to turn back now. I'm doin' this.