Sunday, December 16, 2007
The problem: This past Thursday I got a call from the manager of yet another team; the (arguably) biggest/most recognized elite tri team in the world. He offered me a spot on their pro squad. The deal includes every piece of gear that you could imagine (free!) + monetary incentive for top performances at the 70.3 and I.M. distances. I'm flattered by the offer and humbled by the caliber of athletes that I'd call my "teammates." The squad is nothing short of world class: Multiple time IronMan champions, national champions, course record holders...
To be honest, I'm still in a state of disbelief. I know that I'm closing in on, and almost ready to start beating, some of the biggest names in the sport, but I don't view myself as anything "special." I know, and am very open about the fact, that I'm not blessed with an extraordinary amount of natural ability. Most of the top Pros out there are genetically gifted and could most likely bounce between running, cycling or any other endurance related sport and experience a high degree of professional athletic success. For me, I have to work my ass off day in, day out and maintain a laser focus in order to compete with these guys. I also have to dig a lot deeper during races, hence my slow recovery times (I'm beat up, mentally and physically, for at least a week after a half IronMan). There's no way in hell that I could ever successfully hit 2 half IronMan races in 2 consecutive weekends the way that someone like Craig Alexander or Chris McCormack can. Bottom line is that I have to pick and choose when I'm going to race, train specifically for the event and then unleash hell on race day in order to have a chance at "pulling it off."
However... it's a great thrill to feel as though all of my hard work and results are finally being recognized by members of the triathlon industry. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the offers that are being extended my way. What a thrill!
So, I have decided to make my decision by this Friday and will announce which team I am signing with at that time. Stay tuned.
In the mean time, we're enjoying yet another snow storm here in Gloucester, MA. No matter, there is work to be done, so looks like I'll be running in a Nor' Easter today.
Monday, December 10, 2007
It's been cold and icy here in Gloucester so far this December. We've been spoiled the last couple of winters weather wise, so it seems more like January everytime I step out the door.
However... I've been pleasantly surprised by the current level of fitness that I'm bringing into the start of my '08 progression. Although I'm a good 6 - 7 pounds over my in-season race weight, and despite the fact that I took a couple of weeks completely off right after Clearwater, the body is feeling really strong. I'm running a good 10 sec. per mile faster during my 6 mile training runs than I was while in-season, I'm feeling pretty good in the water, and solid on the bike as well. Yes, I'm fresh and well recovered, but what I'm experiencing right now bodes well for next year.
I'm also becoming a little more optimistic about my sciatica. I've been training and racing in pain since the day after the Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon back on 9/23. I'm convinced that all of the climbing on that brutal bike course coupled with the fact that I didn't stretch enough post race before driving home for nearly 4 hours led to the flare up that I'm still dealing with nearly 3 months later. I figured that 2 weeks of complete rest would have done the trick, but to be honest, things got MUCH worse during and after the time off. My first run, a short 4 miler 2 weeks ago, had me almost limping and the pain was worse than ever. However, the more I trained (and stretched!) the better things got. The core training that I've been laying down seems to be helping out as well.
Looking ahead, I know that I need to up my game in the water if I want to be competitive as a Pro in 2008. Yes, I can get by on my bike and run and probably still place top 5 overall in most of the 70.3 events that I enter next year, but if I want to find myself on the podium, I need to find another 3+ min. in the water. The bottom line is that a 29 minute 1.2 mile swim means that you're out of contention these days. Swimming has been at the very bottom of my priority list as far as training is concerned, and the fact of the matter is that 6,000 - 10,000 yards (max) of half-assed swimming just ain't going to cut it. I suppose that if you come from a swimming background you can probably get by on this type of volume/frequency(I only swim 3 x per week)but for me, I know that I need to consistently lay down 4 - 5 swim sessions/15,000 - 20,000 yards per week. I hit the pool 4 x last week and already noticed a change. I started holding 15 strokes per link, and my feel for the water was definitely enhanced. I still have A LONG way to go, but I know what I have to do. I would never dream of trying to get by on just 3 run or 3 bike sessions per week, so I'm going to have to suck it up and get my ass to the pool no mater what this winter.
So that's that. A good start. I'm going to send in my application for my Pro Card this week. Thankfully, USAT has increased its standards, big time, for Pro/Elite licensure, but I met all of the new qualifying criteria easily. There's no way in hell that I want to be one of those "Pros" who many of the elite amateurs beat on race day, so you can bet that that little piece of plastic will go a long way in keeping me highly motivated through 2008 and beyond. I just figure that if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right, so I'm going to take this all of the way. No turning back now.
Friday, November 30, 2007
A quick shout out to Amanda Russell for the "Happy Birthday" email this morning! Thanks Amanda!!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Given my physiology, I know that IronMan is, unfortunately, the distance that I'll have the most success with. I'm going to have to step up to the plate one of these days. I'll make the call on my end of '08 season plans after Timberman next August.
In the mean time, 4 more days of R&R left before it's time to start slowly building into my 2008 base phase training.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
However... I draw strength from the fact that I have accomplished everything that I set out to do to date:
At the end of 2001, I decided to launch my own coaching/training business. I dreamt of the day when the first thing that I'd do in the morning would be to get up, grab a cup of coffee, turn on the CPU and then start responding to athlete emails and writing up training schedules. Although many questioned if I'd be able to make a career out of online/consultation based coaching, here I am, six years later, with over 30 clients and a burning passion to help my fellow athletes achieve their personal goals. It's a dream come true. To me, it's hard to even consider coaching "work." I live and breath athletic preparation, and love the challenge of coming up with, and helping someone execute a training progression that will help them to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time possible. Although coaching is in fact my first and foremost source of income, teaching physical education and health has allowed me to take a somewhat lax approach towards the business/financial side of my operation. Heading into 2008, it's game on once I leave my teaching gig and I'm going to have to approach the financial side of my business practices with a much more serious attitude if I want to stay afloat financially.Athletically, I knocked off every objective I had for the 2007 season. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that this is the first time in my life that I've ever strung 2 years of consistent training together as a multisport athlete. I began competitive running at the age of 7 and experienced quite a bit of regional and national level success as a Jr. Olympic runner. I placed 7th in the nation in the 1 mile as a 13 year old (running a 4:52 that year) attended the Hershey Track & Field National Championships (an all expense paid trip by Hershey!!!), won many regional x-c and T&F titles, etc. However... Once I hit my sophomore year in High School, I began resting on my laurels. Ten - twenty miles of running per week just didn't seem to "cut it" for some reason (I wonder why?!) and my performances plateaued. Although infrequent bouts of intensive training throughout High School did result in what my x-c coach, the notorious Dave Dunsky, called a few "flashes of brilliance" (top 10 overall DI x-c state championship, 1:58 half mile PR, 4:27 1 mile PR) I left High School feeling as though I probably didn't have what it took to be an elite level runner. This lack of confidence stuck with me right into college where I ran a few seasons of track and x-c at Umass Amherst when I wasn't too busy coaching the local middle school cross country team or racing bikes for the Umass cycling club (a new found passion!). In retrospect, I should have realized that running a 4:20 mile or 8:45 3k on only 4 - 6 weeks of intensive training did in fact mean that I was blessed with some natural ability, but I never had the external or internal sources of motivation to inspire me to embrace this realization.
My lack of confidence continued to rear its ugly head right up through my mid to late 20s. My multisport results were all over the map after college; I'd struggle in a local sprint and then shock a stacked New England field by winning a half I.M. in 4:05. Bottom line is that I didn't have a clue when it came to training. I was desperately in need of some help here, but the $600 per month that the top regional coach informed me that he charged for his services was something that I couldn't even come close to being able to afford (I keep this in mind when young, talented athletes approach me for help with their training these days).Fed up and burned out by one failure after another, I quit triathlon in my mid 20s. The time away from the sport had inspired me to research training practices, experiment with training protocols and theory, attend a number of training related courses/certification programs, and learn from the results that my early client base began turning in. Watching guys like Phil Wong rise through the ranks and begin winning major cycling events under my tutelage gave me a sense of confidence in my abilities as a trainer. It was a great thrill to watch my athletes ripping it up, and with each victory and personal PR, I became more inspired and confident.
Soon-there-after I began running again, not on a very serious level, but with the intent of running a marathon or 2 in a respectable time. Clipping off a 2:35 at the 2005 Cape Cod marathon on only 40 - 60 miles per week of running got me to thinking about the possibility of returning to triathlon in 2006.
And then it happened: I'll never forget the time that Michelle and I were out for a walk and bumped into one of my young triathletes, Liam O'Connell. Liam was completely engrossed in his new found triathlon career and very excited about his race and training exploits. Although I was happy for him, I felt as though I was personally stuck on the sidelines while everyone else was out on the field and part of the action. To be honest, I grew very angry, and vowed to Michelle that I would return to triathlon and fully commit myself to doing it "right" this time around.So... here I am, 2 years later: Amateur 70.3 world champ and soon to be Pro/Elite triathlete. I've had a good run, but am in no way completely satisfied. I'm making up for lost time and know that I'm in my prime as an endurance athlete. This is it. No time to waste. No time to second guess my abilities or my direction. I know that I have 5 to 6 years, max, to cap what I started a quarter of a century ago and am willing to take a calculated risk and go for broke in order to see just how far I can go as an athlete. I have no plans to continue on with competitive athletics once my run as a Pro triathlete is up, as I'm looking forward to pursuing other interests such as rock-climbing, hiking and camping and travel some day. But for now, it's on: Full time long course focus. My long term objectives: Top 10 overall finishes at the Hawaii IronMan and 70.3 World Championships.
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."Words to remember when times get tough and I begin questioning my decision to go for broke...
Happy holidays everyone!
Monday, November 12, 2007
I am 100% proud of the performance I laid down on Saturday first and foremost because I raced my own race. I went hard from the gun, overcame a sub par swim, rode my bike as aggressively as possible, and raced clean: No drafting. Just put my head down and went like hell. I lost a good 1+ min. on the bike thanks to the packs of riders that I had to navigate through while trying to shake the 10 – 15 cheaters who marked me and sat on my wheel for a good 1/3 of the bike leg. Fortunately, this motley crew of international “athletes” was nailed by a heads up martial who handed each one of them a 4 min. penalty for drafting behind me for so long. I still can’t get over the fact that people would deliberately cheat like that.
Thankfully, as the miles passed, my continued attacks and aggressive racing style finally managed to dump the posers off my rear wheel and I sailed into T2 ready to do what I do best. The legs were firing fast once out on the run course and from there on in it was just a matter of managing my discomfort and fatigue levels. I clipped through the first 7 miles at sub 5:40 per mile pace feeling very strong and in control throughout. Once I knew that I had the age group title wrapped up, I hit cruise control, played it safe (I was worried about my SI joint/sciatica causing problems in the final few miles thanks to the day’s effort) and capped the season, and amateur career, the way I had hoped too.
As you can tell, I’m still fuming about the behavior displayed by so many of the athletes last weekend. Many of the age-group results you’re seeing on the results sheet are about as phony as they come.
To the pace lines and peletons that I blew by (or had to shake off my rear wheel) on Saturday: You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. You weren't only cheating the other athletes who were racing clean, you were cheating yourselves and your performances are meaningless and empty.
To the athletes who raced clean and played fair, like my friend and great rival from Maryland, Philipe Kozub: I’m sorry if your race was disrupted in anyway by what went down on Saturday, as it was a crying shame.
So that’s that. I’m looking forward to some much deserved R&R and the holiday season. I will gradually begin preparing for my assault on the 2008 professional long course triathlon circuit immediately after Thanksgiving, but need to prioritize some mental and physical recovery before I start back in.
I have quite a few people/organizations to thank for all of their support and help this year so don’t be offended if you’re not listed below as I’ll express my gratitude personally when we meet up face to face in the near future.
To Dean, Marty and Mark at Fit Werx 2 in Peabody, MA: You guys have helped me to take my cycling to the next level. Your expertise in the fitting department, gear selection and bike maintenance is unparalleled and I’m thrilled with the services you provide.
To my long time sponsor PowerBar: Your products work and I stand by them 100%.
To my athletes: I derive more inspiration from you then you can imagine and keep all of your athletic exploits in the back of my mind while out there on the course. I do my best to lead by example and to practice what I preach.
To my friends, family and training partners: Your words of encouragement, honest feedback and constant support are the cornerstone of my motivation and inspire me to see just how far I can go with this sport.
To Michelle: None of the success that I’ve experienced over the past 2 years would have been possible without you.
Happy holidays everyone. I hope to see you all soon.
p.s. Keep your eyes open for the February "Triathlete Magazine" edition as they just conducted an interview with me last night.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
It'll be another whirlwind:
- Up at 5 a.m.
- Drive to Logan
- 8 a.m. flight
- Arrive in Tampa by 11:36 a.m.
- Grab the rental car and load it up
- Drive to Clearwater Beach/Pick up packet before registration closes at 2 p.m.
- Check into the hotel
- Assemble bike
- Shake Out (bike, run & swim)
- Wake up, eat, stretch, shake out, race...
Wish me luck.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
It felt good to eat pizza, watch the Patriots beat the Colts, and celebrate my dad's birthday (a belated birthday party - he turned 69 on the 1st!). I also hooked up with Pilates guru PJ O'Clair for a little overview on how I'll be able to effectively incorporate Pilates into my 2008 progression. I'm very excited about the prospects, but more to come on this in the near future.
This weekend provided yet another grim reminder of just how precious our time here on Earth really is and helped to keep everything in perspective. Ryan Shay, former Division I All American (x-c, T&F), and US Marathon/half Marathon champ, died during Saturday's US Olympic Trials Marathon in NYC. I won't speculate on the cause of death, but he collapsed 5.5 miles into the race and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
I never take anything in my life for granted and am extremely thankful for all that I have. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to continue training and racing the way that I currently am, but I'm doing my best to soak up every last drop of it while I can.
I can't wait to get back down to Clearwater and am looking forward to seeing many of the familiar faces that I've bumped into at some of the bigger events that I've attended this season.
Maryland's Philipe Kozub, 31, should be in top form and provide one hell of race next Saturday. Philipe finished only 2 min. behind me at Eagleman and was the only other amateur to crack the top 10 and 4 hour barrier that day. I hope that he has a great race and am keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be able to find each other on the field of battle at some point. If so, I expect that the duel will help us to both elevate our performances to the highest level. However... Philipe is a strong swimmer and cyclist, so my engine better by firing fast or else the only place that I may see him will be in the finisher's tent once the dust has settled!
I'm excited to watch Pro triathlete Lara Brown in action next weekend. Lara has the ability to place VERY high in the Pro race and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be her day.
My comrade from CT, Max Wunderle, who just recently knocked off a sub 10 hour performance at IronMan Hawaii, will be in attendance at Clearwater. Max and I first met at the 2006 Hammerfest Triathlon in CT, and have since raced each other at the 2007 Eagleman and 2007 Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon. I'm hoping that Max's legs are fully recovered and ready to roll.
Local triathlete Alex Martinelli will be down in Clearwater, and although we've communicated via email all summer, I've never met the guy in person! I'm looking forward to our hanging out post race and making the most of the Clearwater Beach "watering hole" scene.
First year triathlete Amanda Russell, one of my newest athletes, will be gunning for a top performance next Saturday and I'm itching to see what kind of damage she'll be able to inflict on the amateur race! I expect great things, and look forward to hanging with her and her husband Matt post race as well.
Lastly, I'm deriving a bunch of inspiration from the INCREDIBLE day that fellow "Gloucesterman" Christina Robeson had at IMFL this past Saturday. Christina won the women's 30 - 34 year old age group, placed 3rd overall among amateurs and went 10:02!!! I tracked her race online and was SO excited for her. She accepted her slot for the 2008 Hawaii IronMan World Chamionship, so it's back to the big Island and another go at the biggest triathlon in the world for Christina next year.
So, regardless of what the day brings next weekend, I'm just happy that I'll have yet another opportunity to see so many of the people that I've been so fortunate to meet thanks to this wonderful sport and lifestyle.
I am fully prepared to "bleed" once that gun goes off next Saturday, and am going to give the race everything I have, but the 4 hours that I'll spend competing is just one small piece of what will make next weekend so special. Best of luck to everyone who'll be racing! Drinks are on me in the finisher's tent (your choice: Gatorade or Coke).
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Under optimal circumstances, I prefer to hit a half iron/70.3 race every 5 weeks. My body doesn't seem to recover from races as fast as most, a fact that I attribute to the effort I must lay down during races in order to make up for my lack of natural ability. I'm beat to hell for about 7+ days after a half I.M.
I also prefer to utilize 5 week blocks as they allow me some time for R&R the week after a big race. Yes, I'm racing Pro in 2008, but I still have a full time job and need to make time for the simple pleasures in life like going to the beach, going for walks, staying up late and having fun, etc. All work and no play makes Janda a dull boy and it's not fair for Michelle either as she already has to deal with my training, racing and work related mood swings.
Lastly, the fact that the race goes down on July 13th means that I can focus 100% of my attention on the members of my crew that'll be racing up in Lake Placid on July 20th! Michelle and I will pack the car up mid week, head north, do a little sightseeing up in Montreal, and then swing back down to IronMan Lake Placid and support 4 of my athletes who'll be toeing the line and digging deep. It'll be a real thrill to watch them, and a bunch of my friends, from the sidelines. I hope to learn a little something from the Pro race as well and apply my observations to my own approach/tactics should I decide to cap my '08 season with IronMan Florida instead of 70.3 Worlds. I figure that I'll make the call on IMFL sometime mid season once I get a sense for how I'm doing on the professional 70.3 circuit.
So... without further ado, my updated '08 race calendar*:
- PowerMan Alabama (April 13th)
- Wildflower Long Course Triathlon (May 3rd)
- Eagleman 70.3 (June 8th)
- Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon - Olympic Distance (June 22nd)
- Rhode Island 70.3 (July 13th)
- Timberman 70.3 (August 17th)
- Muskoka 70.3 (September 14th)
- **Escape to Bermuda Triathlon - Olympic Distance (October 26th)
- IronMan Florida (November 1st) OR IronMan 70.3 World Championship (November 8th)
*Training/tune up events not listed
**If heading to Clearwater for IronMan 70.3 Worlds instead of IMFL.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I will be honest in stating that I was starting to feel a bit run down thanks to my workload (school and coaching) and intensive training schedule. Last Tuesday, I had one of the weakest rides of my life, and it was a clear indication that my body had had enough! Although I was tempted to continue pushing on with the original training plan, I came to my senses, realized that I have over 11 months of hard-core training behind me, and decided to enter my taper phase a few days earlier than planned.
It was the right call, as the body felt absolutely fantastic yesterday. I've never clipped along at low 5 min. mile pace so effortlessly. The first 5k of the Duathlon seemed more like a tempo run than a VO2 max effort. The bike course, although a bit rolling and pretty windy, didn't present much of a challenge, as I ripped through it feeling strong and in control the entire way. I must note that the bike loop utilized most of the same roads that the Lowell Olympic distance Triathlon did, where I had my worst outing of the year thanks to a 2 month health related layoff (see "Rusty" in my August blog section for more info.) so yesterday was very much a form of personal vindication for me. Simply put, it was nice to "stick it" to the same roads that beat me down back in early August.
I wrapped things up by clipping off the final 5k (minus T2 time) in sub 17, feeling pretty strong once the legs loosened up by the first half mile or so. Factor in the 3 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down run, and it was a great time trial/training day. Just what I needed.
What made the day even better was seeing one of my newest athletes, rising triathlon star Amanda Russell (pictured), in action. Amanda signed on right after the Nutmeg State Half IronMan (where she finished 2nd!), and we're both heading to Clearwater to compete at 70.3 Worlds. This is only Amanda's FIRST multisport season, and yesterday was her first career victory! I expect that it will be the first of many...
Triathlon fans should keep their eye on this talented 31 year old, as I expect great things. Amanda is focusing upon long course racing, with her primary objective being a successful assault on the 2008 IronMan Lake Placid Course! She'll be joining 3 of my other athletes at next year's event, and I look forward to cheering them all on from the sidelines!
In the mean time, we'll see what kind of 1 - 2 punch Amanda and I can deal out down in Clearwater. We spiced yesterday's tune up race up a bit by placing a friendly wager on our performances. We agreed upon a 13 minute handicap, with the loser having to buy the "winner" their choice of beverage after the dust settles and the end of season celebrations begin on Clearwater Beach. I'm glad that I won the bet this time, but it might be harder to do so in the future, especially the way that Amanda is rolling.
So that's that. My only issue at this point in time is the sciatica that makes running all the more "interesting." Fortunately, it's not slowing me down, but it'll be a relief to get through Clearwater unscathed and then spend a few weeks fattening myself up and being lazy before I'm right back at it and begin prepping for 2008 and my assault on the North American Pro long course triathlon circuit.
*Lowell Monster Dash Race Results
*(Note that the bike course was actually 15 miles vs. the 13.5 listed on the results page, and that T1 was factored into the splits as well, hence the slow bike times/paces. I will also note that T2 was factored into the second run time, so take that for what's it's worth)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This past block has been a good one, but I'd be lying if I said that I'm not looking forward to the Clearwater finish line and the 3 week break that lies on the other side of it.
The fitness is there. I capped things off with a 40k pace segment + intensive interval set yesterday splitting 1 hour even for the pace ride under somewhat windy conditions, and then laying down some VO2/Lactate tolerance intervals feeling very in control and powerful throughout.
Today's session was a 16 miler on my favorite course: the "Around the Cape" loop run in reverse so that I get to "enjoy" the hills for miles 9 - 15. I was clicking off 6:30 - 6:10 pace for the entire run and eclipsed my best training time this year by about 45 seconds. Considering that I ran 1:15:18 at Eagleman, that's a good sign. I think that a 1:14 is possible at Clearwater if EVERYTHING goes right...
However... the body is starting to come unglued. I've been dealing with sciatica and a screwed up SI joint since 9/24 (Nutmeg State Half fall out). My knees are starting to ache, the calcium deposit on my right hip is back and hurts from time to time and yes, I'm a bit tired.
No matter, as I'm fully aware that aches and pains, fatigue etc. are all just part of the game. I savor it all and know how lucky I am to be able to do what I do day in, day out.
Yesterday I got word that one of my old High School teachers, who is now the Principal at Marblehead (MA) High School (where Michelle works as a French Teacher), lost his 22 year old daughter to a car crash that happened Friday night on the Mass Pike. Although I'm not really close with the family, I've known them for as long as I can remember, have shared a good conversation or 2 and have run by their house just about every Sunday for years while out on my weekly long run.
As I ran by today, 15 miles into the session, they were all outside standing in a close knit circle, embracing, grieving and trying to make sense of it all. I had been thinking about them during my run today and was torn as to whether or not I should stop and share my condolences. I kept on running however as I didn't want to disrupt what might have been a very important moment for the family. As I choked back the tears and ran on, I could only imagine the pain these people are facing now and will be facing for years to come. I can't think of anything worse than losing one's child or sibling, especially when it's someone so young and full of life.
Athletics, for me at least, are a means of celebrating the gift that we are all given: Life. Good race, bad race, tough workout or new PR; it's really irrelevant in the end. Enjoy it while you can and savor the experience. If you're able to do what you love to do on a daily basis, have your health, family and friends, you're one lucky individual.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I had a hard time pulling myself away from the computer to train yesterday as IronMan.com streamed live coverage of the IronMan World Championships from 11 a.m. EST until late last night.
Love him or hate him, Chris McCormack finally pulled it off and laid down the an incredibly strong performance, posting splits of 51 min. in the swim, 4:37 on the bike and then an amazing 2:42 marathon. The competition was fierce, but he played it smart, kept grinding it out, and eight hours and 15 minutes later was crowned the new IronMan World Champion. Fellow Australian and Hawaii rookie, Craig Alexander, gave McCormack a real run for his money but ultimately, strength trumped speed late in the game. I believe that the gap between these 2 men was somewhere around 30 sec. to 1 minute right up until mile 18 or so on the run. As Alexander's fluid stride rate began to slow late in the late stages of the marathon, McCormack powered on, and proved to the world that he truly is the best long course triathlete in the world.
On the woman's side, it was a one woman show: Christine Wellington, who won this year's IronMan Korea (despite temperatures that reached 120 degree!), took control on the bike and never looked back. She was AMAZINGLY strong throughout the entire day, waving and smiling to fans throughout the run while posting a 2:59 marathon split. IronMan rookie Samantha McGlone had a great day as well, finishing 5 or 6 min. back from Wellington and proving that she'll be a force to be reckoned with at the I.M. distance from here on in.
What an inspiration to watch these athletes duke it out.
Next year, I'll be 32 years old and racing on the Pro circuit. I had toyed with the idea of hitting IronMan Lake Placid in July, but since I've committed to teaching through the end of the school year, I know that I won't have enough time to train the way I need to in order to pull off the performance that I feel I'm capable of at the IronMan distance. However... come June 20th, I'm 100% self employed and will have all the time in the world to simply run my coaching business and train.
This being said, it's looking like I'll be focusing upon the half I.M./70.3 distance throughout the spring and summer and then capping my '08 campaign off with an I.M. debut at IronMan Florida. The goal: Qualify for the '09 IronMan World Championship.
As it stands, my '08 race calendar is looking something like this:
- PowerMan Alabama (April 13th)
- Wildflower Triathlon (May 3rd)
- Rye-by-the-Sea Duathlon (May 31st)
- Eagleman 70.3 (June 8th)
- MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon (June 29th)
- Spirit of Racine Triathlon (July 20th) OR Newfoundland 70.3 (July 27th)
- Timberman 70.3 (August 17th)
- Escape to Bermuda Triathlon - Olympic Distance (October 19th)
- IronMan Florida (November 1st)
More to come (but not until next year!) on the theory behind this race progression, but when coupled with the right training, I feel that it'll leave me ready to roll come November 1st, 2008.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I was feeling pretty beat up and sorry for myself after this weekend's workload: A pretty hard 82 mile ride on Saturday followed by a less than stellar 18 mile long run on hilly terrain today. The season, and my intensive workload (training, coaching and teaching) is starting to wear on me a bit. I'm looking forward to taper time, Clearwater and a 3 week end of season break!
Thankfully, I received some GREAT news today! Up and coming long course stud Liam O'Connell (pictured) LAID IT DOWN at today's Long Horn Half Iron Triathlon in Austin, TX, taking second place overall and the overall amateur champion title! Simply put, Liam "SMOKE CHECKED" the entire Pro field save one, under BRUTAL conditions. Last time that I checked, running a half marathon after swimming 1.2+ miles (the swim was long) and biking 57 + (the bike was long too - I guess that everything really is bigger down in Texas!) isn't a very easy task, but to do so under 95 degree temperatures and a scorching sun?!?! Damn...
Long course newbie and fellow Texan, Natalie Miller, also had a GREAT day, destroying her old half I.M. PR by over 40 minutes, this despite the heat, long course, rugged course profile and the fact that we've only been working together for about 2 months. Way to go Natalie! And just think... this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Keep an eye out for Liam as he'll be racing again in 3 weeks at the Iron Star Half Iron Triathlon in Conroe, TX. The goal: Take the overall win.
I'm 8 short months away from living my dream: Full time coaching while racing on the Pro circuit. I get emotional just thinking about it. I am so thankful that I'm able to coach full time for a living as working with athletes is my true passion and calling in life. It's hard to even call it "work."
What I'm most excited about is the fact that I've recently picked up a bunch of new athletes, many of whom are young (22 - early 30s), hungry and full of talent. A few in particular are going to absolutely set the U.S. long course scene on fire next year and I can't wait to be a part of the action! Stay tuned, as I'll be unveiling their names and primary racing objectives come the beginning of 2008.
In the mean time, check out the Long Horn results. Note the ridiculously slow run times. This was a suffer fest of a race if there ever was one.
Great job once again Liam and Natalie! You made my day!
Liam's Blog: http://www.liamoconnell.blogspot.com/
Monday, October 1, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Man that race did a number on me. Although the muscle soreness isn't too bad, I'm feeling pretty beat up mentally and physically after last Sunday. It's a bit of the "post race/back to reality blues" mixed together with some pretty pronounced fatigue. I guess that 6000+ feet of climbing and a tainted win will do that to you.
I suppose that there's one other thing that is finally hitting home as well: The reality of what racing professionally in 2008 holds in store.
Back when I was in my early 20s, and brand new to the sport, I was in awe of the top athletes and, as the magazines made it appear, the glamorous lifestyles that they enjoyed. I'll never forget the picture of Spencer Smith in "Triathlete Magazine:" All propped up against a Mercedes-Benz, wearing a designer suit and pair of sunglasses.
What a bunch of B.S.!
Eleven years have past, the novelty of all things triathlon has worn off, and my perspective has completely changed. Do a little simple addition/subtraction and you'll find that it's very, very hard to make much money in this sport. $14,000 for an IronMan win? $5,000 for a 70.3 victory?
When you figure in the amount of money you have to spend traveling to/from events (entry fee, flight, hotel, rental car, food, etc.), the amount of training time that you must invest to get ready for such an event (20+ hours per week of HARD work), and the equipment that you have to buy along the way (it's not cheap, even when you're getting it at cost) you've got very little to show for your efforts at the end of the day, even if you win. So... if you're in it for the money, you're a fool. You'd be much better off working a minimal wage job.
Now here's where things get tricky. If you aspire to WIN professional races, it's very much a catch-22: You're going to need to free up A LOT of time for training, travel and racing and that means either working part time in a very flexible job, not at all (I hope that you get along with your parents) or running your own business (one that allows you to set your own hours).
What does this all mean: Forget about getting ahead financially.
I'm 100% ready, and committed, to racing seriously as a Pro next year, but the reality has hit home as to what I'll be giving up as a result. Sponsorship is non-existent, so it's all up me to amass enough money for travel and training/racing related expenses. Fortunately, my coaching/training business has grown enormously over the past year, so I can afford to leave my teaching position and not worry about being broke, but I won't be living large, in the financial sense at least.
But... this is the price that I'm willing to pay. I love the sport, love the lifestyle and want to see this long, winding journey of mine through to it's completion. I'm hoping that I'll be happy with the way that it all turns out when the trip finally does come to an end.
Time to train again...
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I took 1st place overall at today's inaugural Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon. Although I've been battling a cold all week and felt terrible for the first 8 - 9 miles of the bike, the day, on the whole, went well: My swim was solid and showed real sings of improvement (thanks John Ogdgen!). My cycling, once the legs finally woke up, was very strong, especially during the second half of the ride. And my run... I'm more or less happy with a 1:17 run split any time I hit a half I.M., but to do so after such a hard ride, with no one around to push me, well that's a great sign for the way that things are shaping up for Clearwater.
However, I am in no way completely satisfied with today's race. I was very disappointed to have found out that Pro triathlete Jordan Rapp went off course out on the bike. Jordan had amassed a formidable lead and I clearly would have had my work cut out for me on the run. As it turned out, his "detour" cost him that lead and allowed me to enter T2 all alone. I hit cruise control and ran the half marathon solo.
So... this was not the race (competition wise) that I was hoping for. I know that I could have easily run a good 2 - 3 minutes faster today, and that's what I would have needed to do to have had a shot at a "clean" win. It's hard to take pride in a victory that you know wasn't earned fair and square. I hope that Jordan and I can match up again in the future under completely neutral circumstances. In the mean time, I respect the fact that he didn't pack his race in today and gutted out what must have been a very stressful half marathon.
More to come. Stay tuned.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
In addition, I have to keep things in perspective here: It's not like this is Hawaii and there's $100k+ on the line. If worse comes to worst, Nutmeg will still serve as a good workout for Clearwater which is now less than 2 months away.
Time to roll the dice and see what tomorrow brings.
Wish me luck!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Good thing that this is a taper week. I just hope that I can bounce back to 100% health wise over the course of the next 6 days.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I only saw Benny in action once; the first time that I gave the Pro Triathlete gig a go-around when I was 25. He destroyed me, and the rest of the field, at PowerMan Tennessee back in 2001.
I am extremely saddened to learn of his passing. What a sad, sad day...
For more info. see: Inside Triathlon
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Looking forward to Nutmeg. T minus 2 weeks!
In the mean time, it's back to work: seven more schedules to bust out tonight...
North Shore Tri Results
Friday, September 7, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I'm training a record number of athletes and more continue to sign on each week. School just began today and I've been assigned to a new position: that of Health Teacher (0n top of my P.E. position)! And last but not least, there's still 20+ hours of training to lay down each week. No wonder I'm about to fall asleep at my desk! It's all good though; I know how fortunate I am to have all that I have.
However... Sunday's upcoming race is going to feel like a vacation compared to the daily grind that I'll be dealing with for a long time to come. I'm looking forward to opening the engine up and turning my mind off for a couple of hours.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Time to change gears and get ready to go back to my second job: Teaching. I met with a couple of co-workers this past Wednesday and am pretty excited about the upcoming school year, which will be my last, for at least the next 3 - 5 years anyway.
This year, I'll be in the classroom teaching middle school health and wellness in addition to teaching my senior high and middle school P.E. courses. Although I'm a bit nervous about classroom teaching and all that it entails, the curriculum that I'll be responsible for implementing is definitely interesting. I'm looking forward to teaching the kids the ins and outs of basic anatomy, physiology, and general wellness concepts.
However, it is going to be a very busy year. My next 2 races are right around the corner and I'd like to maintain the momentum that I've built up on the racing front. Once I recover from the Nutmeg State Half Tri on 9/23, I'll have my final big push of the year: A 6 week descending cycle that's designed to peak me out for 70.3 Worlds on 11/10 and hopefully the sub 3:55 performance that I'd like to lay down if conditions allow.
After a hiatus from hard core training for the 3 remaining weeks in November, I'll start laying my Pre-Season "base" in preparation for the 2008 season and my debut on the Pro long course circuit.
Looking forward to 2008, the plan is to attain an early season peak and lay down a big performance at Eagleman 70.3 on June 8th, which happens to be the 2008 US Elite Long Course National Championship. After that, I'm really not sure. A debut at the IronMan distance perhaps, more 70.3 events for sure, we'll see...
So anyway... lots to do. The next 12 months of my life are going to be pretty busy.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I'm not going to worry about maintaining my position, but I wouldn't mind if I stayed on top of the charts through season's end! A couple more top performances at the Nutmeg State Half on 9/23 and 70.3 Worlds on 11/10 wouldn't hurt, that's for sure!
Monday, August 20, 2007
As most of you know, I was forced to take some down time after Eagleman 70.3 thanks to a very stressful health issue. In the 2 months leading up to the beginning of my competitive season, I began passing blood, especially after hard training efforts. I did my best to put the issue out of my mind so that I could fully concentrate on gearing myself up both physically and mentally for a fast day at Eagleman on June 10th. I was, in fact, able to hold things together and pulled off a new PR for the 70.3 distance (3:57:53) while placing 8th overall, and taking the overall age group champion title in the process. It was a huge performance break though, but by event’s end, I was pretty spent emotionally thanks to the stress that I had been dealing with for so long. I suspended training, pulled out of my next scheduled race and proceeded to seek medical attention.
A colonoscopy discovered 2 inflammatory polyps that were the source of the bleeding. Luckily, both turned out to be completely benign, but the combination of 3 weeks of very little training and the stress involved with the entire situation really took its toll. I began training seriously again in mid July, but was worried that I might have lost too much of my hard fought fitness to make an impact at Timberman 1 month later.
Thankfully, things went very, very well yesterday.
I was unusually relaxed once Michelle and I arrived in Gilford, NH on Saturday afternoon. We pulled up to the lake house owned by the family of our friends, Eric and Jessi Burgess, and made ourselves at home. The Burgesses were away for the weekend and were kind enough to allow us to stay in their lakeside get-away. The home is located roughly 2 miles from the Timberman finish line, and right on the run course, so logistically speaking, getting to and from the race site couldn’t be easier!
After unpacking and eating a quick lunch, it was off to packet pick-up and bike racking. The legs were feeling pretty good as I spun out on the bike and worked my way through the gears. The day before a long course race, I usually feel completely underpowered and tight. After racking the bike and heading out for a quick 10 min. run, I actually started feeling a little worried by just how loose I was feeling. My legs floated along effortlessly as I ran along the road that runs parallel to Lake Winnipesauke. This was quite a contrast to the way I typically feel the day before an event!
Later that evening, my brother Corey and his girlfriend Cameran arrived and we all headed over to the town of Merideth for some very expensive Pizza. The meal turned out to be a memorable one. The restaurant that we attended, I believe that it was called “Giuseppe’s,” did in fact serve up good Pizza, but their lounge singer performed the most awful renditions of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Elvis Presley’s “Fools Rush In” that I have ever heard. None of us could figure out if this guy was for real or not, because his performances seemed more like a comedy skit than anything else. The girls grabbed some Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after dinner and then it was back to Gilford and time to hit the sack.
Race day featured cool temperatures and dry skies. The wind continued to pick up speed as the 7 o’clock start time neared, and I was expecting a fairly windy day. The Pro wave would leave 2 minutes before my wave. I watched as Simon Lessing, Bjorn Andersson, Spencer Smith and co. departed shore. I was feeling completely calm as I waited for our wave, the “Elite Amateur” division, to depart on our journey.
The swim was rather uneventful. I was able to stay out of trouble and remain comfortable throughout. I linked up with the main pack at about the halfway point and enjoyed a nice, leisurely ride to shore. The swim turned out to be a little long, about 2k vs. 1.9k, but it was all-good as everyone was in the same boat.
As I left T1, I reminded myself to stick to the plan: Stay relaxed through the first 12 miles of the course where the hills hit hard and then open the engine up once I hit the gently rolling section of highway. What surprised me most was the fact that shortly after leaving T1 I began catching, and passing, both Pro female and male athletes. I did not allow myself to get overly aggressive however, and stuck to my pacing plan, avoiding the big anaerobic efforts during the early sections of this challenging bike course.
Once out on the high way, I opened the engine up, and quickly finished off the last of the remaining Pro women. I must note however that I was pretty impressed with the velocity that Desiree Ficker was maintaining as I rolled by. I could immediately tell that she was on her way to a big performance (she ended up winning in 4:24 or 4:25). If she continues to maintain the form that she displayed yesterday, people better look out at Hawaii…
The trip out towards the turnaround featured an annoying headwind that made the going tough. As I continued to pass men from the Pro division and approached the bike turn around, I was really looking forward to the tail wind that I’d be able to ride all the way to T2. Once we made the turn however, I was immediately greeted by more headwind! Judging by the flags that lined the course, I figured that we were actually dealing with a cross wind that would make things all the more fun as we traversed the next 28 miles of open road.
After passing a few more Pros, I received a placing/time check by a friendly bystander at about mile 45: I was in 11th or 12th place overall and 14 minutes back from super-cyclist Andersson. Subtracting the 2 minute differential, and factoring in Andersson’s inability to run (I knew that I could put close to 10 min. on him in the half marathon) I knew that I was "on." The fact that I could see 3 more riders directly in front of me underscored this fact.
I quickly caught, and passed, the next 3 athletes and rolled into T2 in 8th or 9th place. The only guys left in front of me were all Pros and it was time to see how much of the gap I could close down. My legs were moving quickly, but I was concerned with 2 issues:
1. Both of my vastus medialis muscles were seizing up (racing an Olympic distance event the weekend before opened the system back up but had left me a bit stiff and sore on race day)
2. My feet were on fire!
I knew that I was in for a tough day out on the run course, so I played it safe during the early miles and allowed my quads to un-seize. Doing so cost me time, but I knew that I was on my way to nailing yet another solid outing and didn’t want to take any chances.
The rest of the run was simply routine; I kept the Gatorade flowing and just focused upon maintaining my rhythm. My feet continued to fall apart with each passing mile, and as the picture above will attest, every step became excruciatingly painful. Pain or no pain however, I was going to cap this damn race, and cap it I did. I’m going to make sure that I have the shoe issue straightened out before the Nutmeg State Half on 9/23 however because it cost me a good 2+ minutes on the run yesterday. Aerobically the effort was a cakewalk, but I had to run in pain, once again, for well over an hour. Very annoying.
So there you have it. I’ve decided to stay amateur for the rest of the ‘07 season. I figure that I’ll go down to Clearwater for the 70.3 World Championship and see if I can go sub 3:55 and take the overall amateur title. In addition, I still have some work to do on my swim, so John Ogden, if you’re reading this; I need your help this fall and winter! Hopefully, by the beginning of ‘08, I’ll have my swim where it needs to be so that I can be right up there with the action from the gun. My objective for next year is to win these events outright, or at least land myself on the podium as often as possible.
In closing, I’d like to thank my girlfriend Michelle for her constant support and unbeatable race day management skills (I don’t know what I’d do without her!). Also, thanks to my brother Corey, his girlfriend Cameran, and our friends Andy and Pilar Prinz for showing up! To my family for supporting me – thank you!
To Michael Ferrante: Thank you SO much for lending me your Zipp 404s. Coming within 2 minutes of Simon Lessing’s bike split was something I’ll never forget and your wheels made all the difference.
Lastly, to my boys at Fit Werx 2 in Peabody, Ma. : You guys rock! If you haven’t checked out Fit Werx yet, you’re crazy: http://www.fitwerx.com/
First off, there is NO need to go anywhere else; When it comes to bike fit, equipment choice, aerodynamics and the latest cycling related technology, Dean Phillips and Marty Miserandino can’t be beat. Dean, a Pro Triathlete and INCREDIBLY fast cyclist (he recently broke Tyler Hamilton’s old mark on the ECV TT course!!!) shared with me his data on the rolling resistance of various tire and tube combinations. He pointed out the wattage, and resulting time, that I was losing by using a set of particular tubular tires. By Dean’s estimation, I lost close to 2 minutes on the Eagleman bike course by riding the wrong tires! 2 Minutes! So, although I was hesitant to run clinchers at first on Sunday, I fully believe that doing so gave me a noticeable advantage. Believe it or not, in the world of cycling things like, millimeters, rolling resistance, psi and bike fit, especially bike fit, make a HUGE difference. If you’re looking for “free time” during your next race, give Dean and Marty a call. I’m glad that I did.
Okay, that’s a wrap! Time for to crank out a few schedules.
Timberman Results: http://www.lin-mark.com/restm07.htm
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Another one of my favorite T.S. Eliot quotes:
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out just how far they can go."
Words to live by and remember no matter what happens this weekend. I feel good. I'm going for it. Full tilt.
The next 36 hours are going to be very exciting. Sub 4:10 and/or a top 8 overall finish on Sunday means I'm heading to IronMan Florida on 11/3 for my first real Pro race, or it'll be back to the drawing board and another cycle of trying to get it right.
Good luck to everyone who'll be racing this weekend!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
As a professional trainer, physical education teacher and competitive athlete, I am extremely appreciative of the tremendous positive impact that Gloucester public school athletic programs have made upon my life. This being said, I feel obligated to express a few of the various reasons why we as a community must pool our collective resources to ensure that funding for our middle school and high school athletic programs remains strong. It is no mystery that our city, like so many others across the nation, is struggling financially. However, skyrocketing user fees, dilapidated training facilities, and talk of cutting school based athletic programs altogether are issues that none of us should ignore.
There are countless studies that clearly document the direct positive impact that athletics and physical activity in general have upon a young person’s ability to learn. The latest research even goes so far as to state that school systems should incorporate physical movement into daily lesson plans as a means of provoking bio-chemical responses in the brain which have been proven to increase one’s ability to both learn and retain information. With schools across the country cutting way back on recess time, physical education classes and vocational programs, our students have never needed after school athletic programs more than they do now.
As a young adult, small business owner and triathlete, I credit the personal success that I have found in my life to the many lessons that I learned during my formative years as an athlete. Life, like sport, is never easy. In order to succeed, you must not only work hard and apply yourself consistently, but also learn how to persevere, especially in the face of hardship, loss and disappointment. I have always felt that a successful school system is one that provides a wide variety of opportunities for students to challenge themselves. Although science, mathematics, English and history are all essential components of a well rounded public education, many of life’s best lessons are learned on the field of play, especially those which force an individual to confront his or her own self-doubts and short-comings. True personal progress, be it athletic, academic, professional or social, is most often the end result of learning how to overcome adversity. The last time I checked, Corporate America wasn’t handing out six-figure salaries on a first come, first serve basis! Success in all facets of life requires determination, self-confidence and an ability to stay the course during challenging times, all traits that athletic participation helps to foster.
Gloucester has always taken great pride in her athletes and athletic programs. It goes without saying that a strong public school system is one that provides as many opportunities for personal growth and experience as possible. As an educator, it saddens me to think that many of the athletic resources that I was able to fully take advantage of while attending Gloucester public schools are either in jeopardy of being cut due to budgetary constraints, or becoming harder and harder for working class families to afford. My hope is that through a variety of fund raising efforts we can usher back in the days when playing an after school sport didn’t cost Gloucester families a dime.
First and foremost, I urge you to support the Gloucester public school system’s athletic programs by making a donation to the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, a nonprofit organization founded and supported by community volunteers whose sole mission is to support and contribute to athletic programs/resources for the children of Gloucester. In addition, I look forward to playing an active role in the creation of a variety of fun and exciting fundraising events that will not only directly benefit our athletic programs, but showcase the best of what Gloucester and Cape Ann, in general, have to offer. I hope that you will consider joining me in this endeavor.
For membership information, or to make a donation, please visit the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association @ http://www.thegfaa.org/
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I'm starting to realize that my system was indeed pretty bogged down after my 2+ month hiatus from the racing scene. Though I didn't have much fun the other day, it looks like I really needed the race. Hopefully it'll be enough to wake my system back up before Sunday (Timberman).
My forced down time, and the accompanying lack of race sharpness, really underscored the importance of racing fairly frequently once you've established a high degree of event specific fitness. With fall fast approaching, I find myself scrambling to make up for lost time! I've spent so many months focusing upon getting into shape that I want to put all this hard fought fitness to good use.
Looking forward, I have tentatively decided that I will most likely NOT be returning to Clearwater 70.3 in mid November. If I do remain amateur for the rest of '07, I just don't see the point in spending well over $1,000 to enter/travel to what proved to be a draft-legal long course event last year. I was so disappointed with the mass drafting issue that I've simply lost the desire to attend this year's 70.3 worlds. I am in no way faulting the athletes in attendance at last year's event, I just feel that the course profile (flat, narrow roads), coupled with the athletes on hand (they're all pretty fast) lends itself to peleton style bike riding. That's not my idea of a true test.
However... there's still plenty of action to be had. I'm really looking forward to the inaugural Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon on 9/23, especially with the field that is being assembled! I'm hoping for a fast day and great competition.
In addition, after hearing the horror stories, I find myself becoming more and more intrigued with a small, yet insanely challenging duathlon in rural New York: American Zofingen. Check it out @ http://www.americanzofingen.racesonline.com/
The venue: A 5 mile x-c trail run immediately followed by an 84 mile bike (road) through mountainous terrain, and a second, "slightly" more challenging 15 mile trail run.
Man. That sounds like one hell of a challenge to me. I might have to throw my hat into the ring. Call me nuts, but in addition to providing some long lasting memories, "AZ," as it's becoming known, might also serve as a perfect tune up for I.M. Florida should that race be in the cards for me this year...
For the time being though, I've got to stay loose; there'll be plenty of action coming my way in just 5 days time!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
On a positive note, I'd like to give a shout out to one of my athletes, April Bowling, for going out of her way to come up and watch me race today. I hope that I didn't disappoint you too much April with my lackluster performance! I was hoping to put on a good show. Perhaps next time. Thanks again for being there!!!
Friday, August 10, 2007
My nervousness stems from the fact that it's been over 2 months since my last race! Where did the summer go?! I've laid down a ton of hard work this year, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it was all worth it.
So although this Sunday is a tune up for the following weekend (Timberman 70.3), it sure would be a nice confidence boost if all cylinders were firing, and firing fast. The fitness should be there, I just hope that the engine isn't too rusty.
Only 1 way to find out...
Sunday, August 5, 2007
This weekend provided a much needed confidence boost. I must admit that I was a little concerned that I might not make it to Timberman in very good shape thanks to the down time that I was forced to take after Eagleman. Three weeks of very little training will do that to you, no matter what kind of shape you were in before being sidelined.
However... the 3 consecutive weeks of intensive training that I just completed seemed to have done the trick. Yesterday's pace ride went very smoothly, as I ripped off the workout's main segment, a 40k at 70.3 goal pace, in under 60 minutes, feeling very much in control throughout. It had been a while since the system had felt that sharp, thanks in large part to the huge training load that I've been dealing with for the past 21 days (read: fatigue!).
I was pleasantly surprised with that session, but was even more so with today's: An intensive long run of 16 miles. Going into the workout, I wasn't expecting much, but my legs had plans of their own as I gradually descended down from 6:40 - 6 min./mile pace over the course of the run. I clipped through the last 5 miles of the "Around the Cape Course," (executed, as usual, in reverse so that the worst of the hills hit me towards run's end when glycogen stores are getting low and fatigue is setting in) in under 31 minutes, feeling exceptionally in control and aerobic throughout. The track work that I've been laying down has clearly paid off as my respiratory rate was at an all time low and the lactate levels were as well. I can't recall the last time I floated that fast around the Cape. A very encouraging sign for sure.
Oh, and Julie/Beth: If you're reading this, sorry that I didn't stop for water. I was clipping along with 4 miles to go and didn't want to break my rhythm! Thanks for the effort though and I'll see you tomorrow at Niles for our distance swim!!!
So that's that. I'm looking forward to doing just enough work over the course of the next 2 weeks to keep the system "open" while allowing it to fully recover. I just hope that I'm not too rusty at the Lowell Olympic distance tri next Sunday, as it's been quite a while since I raced last. As long as all goes as planned at Timberman however, it's all good, especially since next weekend is nothing more than a tune up.
Okay, time to hit Lanesville and flat rocks for a little blackberry hunting and a dip in the Ipswich Bay. Summer already seems to be winding down, so I'm trying to make the most of it while it's still here.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Three weeks of aggressive training have started to take their toll. Key workouts are starting to get a lot harder to hit spot on, and my "top end" just isn't there. Legs are fairly stiff and sore just about daily, but surprisingly, my motivation has never been higher. My head has been the only thing that has kept me in the game up to this point in time, because my body wanted to hit the sidelines about a week ago!
I'm taking a bit of a gamble and pushing harder than ever in hopes that the extra work, coupled with an aggressive taper/sharpening phase, will bring about an adaptation/level of fitness that I've yet to ever achieve; Lord knows that I'll need it come August 19th if I want to finish even remotely close to the likes of Lessing, Andersson and Co.
Yesterday's pace ride was off by about 1 mph but I forged ahead, finished the rest of the day's workload up and ate as much as possible so that I'd have a shot at laying down the week's final big session today: A 60 mile intensive endurance ride immediately followed by a 9 mile run.
Normally, I wouldn't make too much out of a session like this, as the distances aren't anything novel for me. What made the day so tough was the residual fatigue coupled with the heat and humidity we've been facing (a cool day, I know, for you Atlanta boys (Jason & Andy) if you're reading!). Thanks to my coaching workload, I didn't hit the road until 10:30 a.m., so I was subjected to a mid day sun for about 4 hours. Fun.
Surprisingly, I felt great on the bike, sitting upright throughout and easily mashing the 53 x 15 - 13 @ 21 - 24 mph for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. I felt as though I had a tail wind at my back the entire ride as the rollers seemed to offer little in the way of resistance. The legs were feeling very strong.
However... by the time I got back into my apartment, the thought of heading back out the door for an hour of running didn't seem all that appealing. As I stripped down and stepped on the scale, I realized that part of my reluctance stemmed from a slight case of dehydration; even with my best attempts (they weren't good enough in retrospect) I had still lost about 5 lbs. of water weight.
I downed a glass of lemonade, mulled about for a few moments and then stepped back out into the heat, moving ahead like a zombie.
As I passed through the first couple of landmarks that I use for daily time checks when running (a good way to figure out how fatigued the body really is), it was evident that although I wasn't feeling so great, my legs were moving right along. So... there would be no excuses today. I had to just suck it up and deal with the fatigue as it set in.
And set in it did. As I ran through Annisquam Village and across the private beach that looks out towards the Ipswich Bay, I spent some time contrasting my state of dehydration-induced fatigue against the fun that the 100+ people lining the ocean's edge were having. Why was I out here punishing myself when I could be splashing about in the water while sipping a cool beverage? Ultimately, my reflections gave way to the fact that I still had about 30 minutes of running left to complete, and fatigue or no fatigue, there was only 1 way to get home, so I onward I pushed.
The last 15 minutes of today's suffer-fest were worse than any long course triathlon I've ever completed, although not quite as bad as my '06 Boston Marathon experience (I thought that the Grim Reaper would be paying me a premature visit that day!). I maintained my focus, chalking the session up as a "mental toughness" day and stepped back into my apartment once more, thankful to have the worst behind me.
All of this hard work really helps to keep things in perspective; the reality of the situation is this: The infrequent, fleeting moments of glory that one does experience on the athletic field are the end product of nothing more than a consistent, day-in-day-out commitment to hard-core training.
As one of my favorite marathon runners of all time, Australia's Rob de Castella once said, "Running well is a matter of having the patience to persevere when you are tired and not expecting instant results. The only secret is that it is consistent, often monotonous, boring, hard work. And it's tiring."
Right on Deek.
I'll try to keep that quote in mind next week as I cap the working phase of my current training cycle. Taper time (1 week away!) is sounding pretty good right about now.