Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New beginnings

Well folks, it's been a while. This blog pulled me through my Ironman training for IMC 2007 and yes, I did actually finish. I hope to write a race report someday but so far, it has eluded me.

This blog has mainly been my cathartic outlet for training highs and lows and when I was finished... I had no strength left to write. I made several attempts but was never able to finish. Again, I hope to do that soon.

But here I am. A little over one year since I finished my first Ironman Triathlon. Staring that beast in the face again. Call me a sucker for punishment. Call me crazy. But whatever you do, call me committed to this sport. I don't like triathlon, I love it. I toy with the idea of giving it all up so I can surf... at least until I get back on my bike or back in my shoes. I haven't been in the pool yet but I'm looking forward to it the same way that a kid looks forward to Christmas. Ok, maybe that kid doesn't have the same apprehensions about being way too fat for his speedo (one of the many nice things about Christmas is that you don't have to wear a speedo!) but I'm excited nonetheless.

Three days into the training and I already need to talk about it. Yes, athletes are neurotic. You don't have to be fast. Just committed to your sport.

This time around, it's different. I've looked that beast in the eye, took it on

And survived.

But the beast still lives. The beast still requires that I step up and be excellent - or perish. That is its blessing. That is its curse. So as I stand in the foothills of this great mountain, I will begin with the same awe and wonder that I began my first season. That humility served me well and I plan to hold on to it. Here is how I began last season. May I continue to remember:

I believe that there is a primal instinct inside each of us that is only satisfied by wrestling with adversity. Our momentary enjoyment of any achievement is fleeting compared to the time spent in the struggle. Ironman is not just about the race. It’s about preparation. It’s about getting out of bed when you’d rather be sleeping to hit that morning workout. It’s about going home after a tiring day at work and throwing your shoes on for a run. It’s saying goodnight to your friends at 10pm on a Saturday night because you need to get enough rest. Ironman is about having the discipline and the consistency to be ready when that terrifying beast is staring you down... and to face it with a smile.

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years.

-- Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday Night

I arrived in Penticton today with less than a week remaining between me and Ironman. It's been a long journey to get here and only a little bit further to go.

Strolling around town can be a little overwhelming. Athletes are running, biking or swimming just about anywhere you look. If you manage to ignore all the people, it's hard to miss the Ironman shwag plastered across every billboard, store wall and any other available surface. "Welcome athletes", etc., etc. This town certainly gets behind the sport.

I just feel small. I forget that I'm one of those athletes that they're welcoming with open arms. Well, it's only my first night here. I'm sure I'll feel a little more comfortable once I have a workout tomorrow.

We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.

~Hellen Keller

Monday, August 13, 2007

I guess that's why they call it the blues

Wait... I thought you didn't get depressed until AFTER the race. What's with this head start?

I've felt a general sense of anxiousness building over the last few days but it took me a while to see the pattern. These aren't random occurrences. It's a steadily building sensation of excitement, fear, exhaustion, anticipation and dread. What if I'm not ready? My knees, my back and the constant threat of illness have made the season very difficult.

I don't want to be left behind. I've worked too hard to get here.

I stand up to put my ice-cream bowl in the sink (comfort food is king today) and my back screams at me. I refuel with cottage cheese and grapes and sit back down. If I was a car, I'd be a quarter tank below empty.

Somewhere in this process of wallowing in self-doubt, it all becomes very amusing. I guess my blood sugar is coming up.

I need to remember that for race day.

I’m looking for an interruption,
Do you believe?
You looking to dig my dreams
Be prepared for anything
You come into my little scene
Hooray, hooray, hip hip hooray
There’s one thing I can guarantee:
You won’t have to dig, dig too deep
Said leave me to lay, but touch me deep,
I don’t sleep, I dream
I’ll settle for a cup of coffee, but you know what I really need

~ R.E.M.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Who made who


def: To prepare physically

I don't know that I'm sick of it so much as just plain exhausted. I love the exercise. I love getting out and discovering new capabilities within myself. But today I can't get off the couch, so I'm writing instead of running.

[... ok, that didn't last. I soon as I said I can't ... something inside me kicked into gear and asked but what if you did? and before I could argue, my running shoes were on and I was out the door. 10k later, I'm finishing this blog entry.]

Yesterday I drove out to meet some friends at Thetis for our long ride - only to discover I'd left my front wheel at home. I zipped home to get it but missed the gang as they passed by the spot I was supposed to wait at. As such, I rode alone. I used to always train in groups because I didn't think I had the discipline to train by myself. Exercise has become so much of a habit, that I now head out whether or not I'm with anyone.

The funny thing about all this is that I think I'm training my body for Ironman. As of late, I begin to wonder if it's my body that runs the show because even when I can rationalize away why I can't work out today, I still find myself out there as if my mind had no say in the matter.

So who's training who? I guess it doesn't matter.

I believe that what you sing to the clouds
will rain upon you when your sun, has gone away
And I believe, that what you dream to the moon
Will manifest, before you rest, another day
So stay strong, and sleep long when you need to
let the mornin' take you right on through the day
And when you find you're at the end of the road
just lift your head up
Spread your wings and fly away

~ Michael Franti

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back in the saddle

I took my bike in for a tune up recently and they gave me a new seat post... one that's almost to big for me. I tried it out at the transition practice and I don't think I was moving my hips so maybe it'll be ok. Tonight was the first time I got to try it and I think the extra height gave me a bit of an edge.

I was trying to not to push it to hard since my legs were still a little stiff from last night's run but there were people in front of me riding slowly up hills! Anyone who's ever ridden with me knows I can't let that go. So here I am at the bottom of that incline by Oak Bay golf course and I saw some guy 3/4 of the way up STANDING on his peddles! I started to wonder if I could make it to the top before he did. Only one way to find out... I clicked into a harder gear, dropped into aero and punched it. We tied and I was glad when I passed him that he didn't know how far back I was when we started "racing". I probably come off as a cocky bastard (and maybe I am) but I don't actually want to make people feel bad. I'm just always looking for a challenge that will make me dig deeper and go faster.

The best ride I've had this year was at the Shawnigan Sprint because I got to race a friend of mine who's got similar ability on the bike. He's faster going up hills, I'm faster going down. We passed each other a few times and I had to work really hard to earn my 30 second lead at the end. I should do more time trials.

Anyways, the focus for the evening was really to get a good spin to flush out my quads. All the same, I was loving attacking the hills. Coming back, I shot up King George in my 4th gear (3 up from easiest) and was pleased to see that my climbing is getting better. That's been a bit of an Achilles-heal for me so hopefully it won't hurt me too bad in the race on Sunday. I can't wait to get back to Shawnigan in the upcoming weeks... I miss riding up the Malahat!

All in all, I'm getting excited about the next few races. I've been really discouraged about the back pain on the bike and the leg pain on the run. It all seems to be coming together this week and I've got renewed enthusiasm about the 10 weeks I have left until Ironman.

It is only with the heart that one sees rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.

~Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Burn baby, burn

This hasn't been the warmest of summers but at least it stopped raining!

3 days until the 1/2 Iron and I'm loving the taper week. After constant (knee, back, hip, shoulder) issues, everything is starting to come together and I've had a couple of really encouraging workouts in the last few days. I was only supposed to run for 35 minutes last night but I couldn't bring myself to stop.

I haven't been running much due to my knee so I pushed myself to do pickups every time I had the energy. 1/2 of the way through the run, I started to get thirsty. Hamsterly Beach came and went so fast that I forgot to stop at the fountain. Well, that and there was a group of triathletes there so I couldn't wuss out and stop running!!! Besides, I only had 3.5k between me and Chris' car, where my eload was waiting for me. It was funny. The more I thought about it the more excited I got.

I remember someone telling me to have a treat in your special needs bag that you could look forward to. That way you could quit thinking about the finish line (that might be hours away) and focus on some tasty morsel that is waiting for you in the more immediate future. Yes, long distance racing is all about patient endurance but you still need little bits of encouragement along the way. My bottle of eload gave me the focus to push through and force myself to suffer a bit more. (Yes, I know it's a taper week! Decrease the volume but keep the intensity up...right?)

The lake was so warm, it was almost a waste of time to go for a post-run-wade... but I did it anyway. I'm not too big on ritual for most of my day to day activities but I'm fanatical about my recovery procedures. A guy who gets injured as frequently as I do has to be if he wants to stay in this sport.

The race is long and in the end it's only with yourself.

~ Mary Schmich

Monday, April 09, 2007

May flowers can kiss my...

Because I've had enough of these April showers!

My two favorite things in the world right now:

1) My iPod
2) Hot showers

My least favorite thing in the world right now:

-> Going out for a ride on a beautiful evening and getting caught in a Monsoon!

It's getting to be something of a running gag these days. I skipped my long ride on Saturday because it was so gross out. So Sunday (after my long run), Jer and I jumped on our bikes and headed out to Central Saanich. We ended up getting rained out but at least it was bearable.

Tonight was another matter. It was sooo beautiful when I left the house. I was so pumped with the good weather, I ended up doing something of a time trial. Since it's a rest week and I'm only supposed to ride for 1:05, I wanted to see just how far I could get in 30 minutes. I was pretty excited to have made it 1/2 way along that little road that leads from Arbutus to Queenswood Dr. I'll have to try again in a month (on my winter bike again) and see how far I get.

Now, it's possible that the wind was at my back because it was certainly in my face for the ride home. And what's with those dark clouds it's pushing towards me? It didn't take long to find out. I turned a corner and hit a wall of wind and pelting rain (hail?) that stung like hell. This is where the iPod came in. When I'm riding solo, I usually put in one ear piece to keep my spirits up and keep one ear open so I can hear the traffic. I tell ya, it's tough to get too upset about the weather when you're listening to "Hella Good"

You've got me feeling hella good
so let's just keep on dancing...

Or biking in my case. Follow that up with Cake singing "going the distance", well... what could I but start hammering back? Ok monsoon, is this the best you got? Just try and keep me from scaling King George. Well, it came back with a vengeance but that didn't matter. It's funny how you don't feel the cold the same way when there's fire in your belly. And every other cyclist you see, you have a bit more respect for than usual because they have the stones to take on the storm with you.

All the same, I was grateful to arrive at home. It was like the weather seized a final opportunity to taunt me as it cleared up right as I reached my door. F*ck you!

I brought my soaking bike in, took the stuff out of my jersey pouches and jumped into the shower with all my clothes on. They're not going to get any wetter. There is a special form of bliss that is reserved for being freezing cold and having the luxury of a hot shower. I realize you're supposed to eat within 1/2 hour of exercising but I just couldn't get enough of that glorious heat.

In fairness, I guess it was the ugly weather that makes me appreciate the good parts more. But I'd still be happy to leave winter behind for a while.

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you "Sue.'"

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George!
Anything but Sue!

~Johnny Cash