Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The moment(s) of clarity!

It happens, some might call it an "AH HA" moment, or then again maybe "OH  $#|+!" is more appropriate. But then there is also a moment of clarity.  A moment or moments when things fall into place in your mind, and your body just responds.

This past weekend was such a time.  A time where I felt all of the above emotions.  I woke up before 5:00 am Saturday, and my mind went to my training plan.  Yes, it was definitely an "OH $#|+!" moment.  The remaining 15 weeks of the training plan before Ironman Florida gets intense.  The distances get longer and longer, and phrases like:  "race pace"; "negative split"; "tempo"; "hard effort" all populate the spreadsheet.  Doubts started to creep in, various aches and pains surfaced as I was climbing out of bed.

Saturday morning driving to Clearwater Beach for what was to be my longest run in quite a while, I was thinking.  Probably thinking too much.  I was thinking about all of the miles on my training plan yet to be run.  All the miles to ride on my bike and the thousands of meters to swim.

We got out of the car, and said good morning to the gang.  It was still dark, changed shoes, grabbed some water, and got ready to run.  I was worried, but determined to give it my best.  As everyone started to run, the group broke up into various paces.  I hung back and enjoyed some friendly conversation. The power of the pack is truly something.  The miles started clicking off.  We stopped for water near the bottom of the bridge, grab some Gatorade and kept going.  More miles clicked by, but about 9.5 miles in the conversations seemed to end.  I was breathing heavy and talking became superfluous. Things started to hurt, but I felt good!  We made the turn to head for the last bridge, and by mile 11 my calf was hurting and going up the bridge for the first time I had walk a bit.  But I felt really good!

12 1/2 miles total, this was a great run, with great friends.

Sunday was another awesome training day.  We set out to log some miles in the saddle.  Now, riding 60, 70 or more miles can get a bit monotonous at times.  Not when you're riding with Holly Tripp's crew, let me just say that.  Our 63 mile sojourn was a bit of an adventure ride.  We set out from State Road 54 on the Suncoast Trail as we do so often topped off our water bottles 21 miles later at Anderson Snow Park.  Some turned around at this point but the majority carried on.  After riding off the Suncoast Trail and into the western portion of San Antonio we found ourselves at the Neon Cowboy for a photo opp.

Then the adventure began.  Just south of State Road 52 we had to climb a fence (Pay no attention to the no trespassing sign).  Yes, I said climb.  As you can see from the photo we handed our bikes over to each other climbed and helped everyone over. We had a few hundred yards of some rough riding. But we did it and no one got a flat, and no one saw any snakes, always a plus.  As you know, I love riding, but even the most seasoned riders find it to be a bit of a pain in the a$$ at times.  About mile 47 of 63, the Iron Goof says:  "I feel great except for my a$$"  It turned out to be a great ride and 63 miles went by quite quickly.

Yes, the entire weekend of training was just what I needed.  My mind firmly wrapped around the task at hand of training and staying on plan!  My body seemed to cooperate and although my left calf muscle has been barking a bit, all systems are go.

Less than fifteen weeks to go 'till Ironman. Here we come!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nerves of Iron?

Once again, its been a few weeks and I haven't posted anything.  Well, I haven't had much to say, I'm sure you haven't missed me much.  Training takes a lot out of you.  Physically of course, waking up at 5:00am or earlier is not easy.   I actually found myself secretly hoping Sunday I would wake at 4:45 am to a torrential downpour, so I could email the crew, and say:  "Hey, bad weather, today's run is canceled" but it was not to be.  The sky was relatively clear, the radar maps were absent any red yellow or white over the area we were to be running, so off we went!

More than the physical toll, its the mental toll of training.  It can be quite difficult to stay focused 7 days a week no matter how determined you are.  I find myself watching videos and YouTube clips of past Kona races, or one of my favorite movies, "Miracle" about the 1980 USA Hockey team that beat the Soviet team and probably the best team in the world at that time.  (Sorry if I spoiled the movie for you).

Nerves... nerves can be a good thing.  Sometimes being nervous makes us perform better, but they can also hurt us.  Two weeks ago, most of you know I was in a nasty bike wreck while training.  Now, I am a fairly good bike handler and I don't get nervous in the pack.  I've been riding for years, and go out of my way to teach and protect our newbie riders in our small but courageous peloton.  The accident wasn't my fault, but that doesn't matter when you are lying on the ground and looking up at your friends, not sure what hurts most.  The looks on the faces of my closest friends, were scary.  Jamie and Kat got to me first, I just motioned that I was OK and to check on the other guy.  When Brad got to me, I could tell he was shaken up too, so I just looked at him and said, "Dude, how's my bike?"  He shook his head as if to say:  "You f@#$%^ lunatic".  Lying on the ground on the Suncoast Trail, a few people stopped to help, or just see if there was anything they could do.  Funny thing I knew them, I'm sure you're not surprised.

Yes I rode in a race the next day, but had to DNF, as my back just tightened up too much to continue after the bike.  I trained the following weekend, but still not 100 percent physically.  This past Saturday, we set out on the Suncoast Trail once again.  We had a great group, and the usual suspects were there and the weather seemed cooperative.  I did find myself a little gun-shy in the pack.  Sure I jumped up to the front, and slid all the way back checking on everyone as I always do.  I did everything I'm supposed to do, but I have to admit the nerves were just a little frayed.  Its not a bad thing, being 110% alert is important when riding in a pace line.  I had a few moments where I reached for the brakes a little too quickly, I didn't ride quite as tight as I normally do.  I was thinking, and yes my mind wandered a few times to the feeling of flying over the handlebars and bouncing off the asphalt.

If I needed anything else to worry about, sure let's add some real nasty weather to this ride.  Thunder lightning, steady downpour, sure why not, we can handle this.  Our fifty-six mile ride took a lot longer than we anticipated.  We stopped to help a fellow cyclist who was stranded without a tube or repair kit.  (OK that is not smart, but I digress) The last eleven miles, something clicked, I was ready to hit hard again.  My back felt good, the weather dried a bit and the crew was ready for action.  We picked up the pace, I just wanted to get back to the car!  As we passed the site of the accident, I have to admit I felt a strange chill, but it was game on.  I got the front at that point, and I was determined to take us home.  I was never so glad as to see that damn parking lot.

When I got to my car, I looked at my phone.  I guess Kari, expected us back a lot earlier too, and with the rain she was worried.  My phone had a few texts, the last one simply said:  "call me".  I wasn't the only one who had some nerves that day.  She's been my medic, my massage therapist, my sherpa, my biggest support.  Have I said how terrific she is?  She's pretty tough too, she has to be to deal with me.  We'll be racing Augusta 70.3 together.  That will prove to be interesting, aside from my own race nerves I will have a few extra that day racing with her, and not being able to see or know where she is.

Nerves of IRON, oh yeah!