The patella tendinitis in my right knee has failed to dissipate and I'm still unable to run for more than 20 minutes without pain. On top of that, my left hip flexor is painful and weak thanks to a strain I suffered as a result of a bike crash the week after Timberman. I've been nursing it for the past month and a half, but the extra swimming I've been logging as of late has led to a fairly pronounced flare up which is making even the simple act of walking up stairs somewhat difficult. To top it all off, my right achilles tendon is sore.
So... with less than 5 weeks to IMFL it's evident that I have run out of time. I respect the Ironman distance way too much to half ass my preparation and would much rather end my season on a high note vs. risking prolonged injury just to say that I finished an Ironman.
2008 was a great year. Although my key races didn't all go exactly as planned, I really can't complain about my results: 2 x top 5, 1 x 6th and 1 x 8th place finishes on the 70.3 circuit and a 6th place overall finish at the stacked Columbia Triathlon (Olympic distance) back in May.
Not bad... especially considering the fact that I was working 7 days/60+ hours per week right up until late June this year. I feel as though I held my own on the pro circuit in '08, and am VERY excited to begin preparing for my full fledged assault on the '09 season.
I also learned a lot about myself and what I need to do between now and April of '09 if I want to continue to improve and move up the ranks.
The most glaring deficiency in my game at the moment is, DUH, my swim.
The 2 major culprits:
1. My technique needs refinement (lots of it)
2. I don't swim nearly enough (6 - 8k of leisurely open water swimming each week won't cut it!)
Up until this point in time, swimming has always been my final priority. I've never enjoyed it because I've never been good at it. Couple this fact with the fact that until this summer I've been very limited as to how much time I can devote to my training each week, and it's easy to see how swimming would fall between the cracks and conveniently be forgotten about.
Things have changed though. I recently linked up with Dan Warner of the North Shore Swim Club. I swam 16,000 yards last week which is by far more than I've ever done in one week, and Dan has already made some pronounced improvements with my stroke. My catch/pull was pretty ugly, but thanks to Dan's keen eye, I'm already catching and pulling more water. It's mind boggling how a few small corrections can bring about such pronounced results in the water. Case in point: When were were asked to execute a main set of 3 x 3 x 100 on 1:30, 1:20 and 1:15 respectively, I thought in my mind "that set on 1:15 will be impossible for me." But... I did it, and the effort wasn't even that much of a stretch. I was shocked. The final set was 2 x 100 @ max on 3 min. and I laid down a 1:08 and 1:09... What's going on here? Not blazing fast, I know, but all intervals were executed with an open turn (I still can't do flip turns) and never felt out of control. If I'm seeing these kinds of results after just 4 sessions, I can't wait to see where things stand in 6 or 7 months!
Bike and run: Things are going well here, as usual. Out splitting Alexander, Cunninghman and Lessing on the bike up in Muskoka was a big confidence builder. Out splitting everyone on the run (Oscar Galindez included) at RI 70.3 also did quite a bit for the confidence.
But... I know that I have more in me, especially on the running front.
Thanks to my boy Dean Phillips at Fit Werx 2 in Peabody, MA, I'm constantly kept up to speed on what I need to do in order to attain and maintain the lowest coefficient of drag possible while on the bike. As such, although my power output is nothing world shattering, my ability to move very quickly and efficiently over 56 miles is pretty pronounced. If I can do what I need to do on the swimming front this Fall/Winter/Spring, I'll be much closer to the action after T1, but will still need to chase on the bike. As such, my goal heading into next year will be to not only bridge up to, but put time into the lead pack while out there on the bike course. I need to find another 15 watts of power in order to make this happen and am already looking forward to the grueling VO2max and Threshold sessions I'll be executing between Dec. and the end of next season in order to make this happen.
As for my running, I've proven myself to be a good runner, but my performances to date can be attributed more to my "strength" vs. speed. I need to do A LOT more interval work. Due to a lack of energy through most of last year, I rarely hit the track. If I want to run with the very best of them in '09, my open 10k has to improve dramatically. Watching "Crowie" throw down a 1:13 on the HILLY Muskoka 70.3 (where Cunningham went 1:18 and I turned in the 3rd fastest split with a 1:19) run course, drove home the importance of aerobic power and it's development. Progressive long runs over hilly terrain are great for building strength, but my lack of organized VO2max and threshold training on the track is currently limiting my ability to run really fast over the 13.1 mile distance. Once again, if I want to compete with the best of them, and to have any chance at placing high, or... dare I say win, I need to get a lot faster on the run front.
So... time for a much deserved break. I feel lazy and out of whack thanks to the fact that I don't have a major end of season competition to prepare for and am sidelined and unable to run or bike. Michelle and I recently booked our flights down to Clearwater to cheer my athletes on though (I have 9 heading down this year!) so at least I'll be able to live vicariously through them. I expect some BIG performances out of them on Nov. 8th, that's for sure!
As for next year, I'm incredibly excited about my season. As it stands, the key race calender looks something like:
- St. Croix 70.3
- Columbia Triathlon
- Revolution 3 Half Iron Triathlon
- Cohasset Triathlon
- Rhode Island 70.3
- Cape Ann Triathlon
- Timberman 70.3
- Muskoka 70.3
- Clearwater 70.3
When I look deep into my heart, I know that I don't have the burning desire to do an Ironman anytime soon. I love the 70.3 distance and want to take advantage of the peak years that I still have left by fully exploring and exploiting the depth of my endurance AND speed/power. I'd love to break 3:50 for the 70.3 distance and my dream goal would be to lay down splits of 25/2:04/1:12 on a course like Clearwater. Once I feel as though I've reached the point where I've gone as fast as I possibly can at the 70.3 distance, well perhaps at that point I'll move on up, but for now, I'm very content focusing upon 4 hour races.
So, that's a wrap. Back to the drawing board and off season prep a little earlier than expected. It's all good. I'm doing what I've always dreamt of doing and am savoring every experience along the way. I'm fully aware of just how lucky I am to not only be in position to fully pursue my dreams, but to live a life that is full of personal meaning and passion. The people I have met along the way make the trip all the more special, and I look forward to the roads that lie ahead.
My scratching IMFL is nothing more than a little bump in the (athletic) road and I'm in no way bummed out. If the biggest disappointment I have to face in my young life is a sore knee that keeps me from biking and running for a few weeks, then I consider myself a very lucky man. You want an example of someone facing a real problem? Look no further than this and read all about Margaret's plight.
I've got it "made in the shade" and have nothing to complain about.