Sunday, March 27, 2011

IMTX Training - Week 12

This past week was Week 12 of Ironman Texas Training. This end of this week was a start to cutting back for recovery/taper before the Kemah International Triathlon the following weekend.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 5,100 yards, 2:02:32
Bike - 73.55 miles on trainer and roads, 4:36:05
Run - 24.82 miles, 5:11:26
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, 0:15:00

Overall training time 12:05:03

I started this week feeling strong but was also tiring as the week went on. This week would have normally been a recovery week. However with a taper scheduled for the following week, Week 12 stayed a regular training week at the front and started a recovery/taper period with the end of the week.

As last week ended I was feeling some discomfort in my left calf and I made a point to enter my first run of the week on Tuesday very carefully. In the end I felt no continuation of that discomfort and had an easy, but very good, training run. By the time Friday rolled around I could really feel the fatigue setting in. I woke up early Friday morning to swim and could not get myself to get up and out to the gym. I went to the gym later on after work to get in my swim. While I was scanning through my email before going in I dozed off in a light sleep and woke up when my cell phone rang. Finally, when I did get going on that swim, I felt so tired after warming up that I canceled the workout due to the tiredness I was feeling--to which my coach replied that I was ready for my taper week. Apparently the simple act of resting instead of swimming, added to a decent night's sleep, allowed me to put together a solid run the next morning where I stayed in my heart rate zone target and kept up a faster pace than I had in a few weeks for a run of over 6 miles. My bike ride on Sunday was similarly successful as my Saturday run. Just two days into the taper period and I am already starting to feel much better!

Next weekend brings with it the Kemah Olympic Distance Triathlon which follows what should be an unusually easy week at work for me. I am coming off of an extended period of long hours and deadlines, most of which reach their end point this coming week and follow a very difficult, though very successful last week.

While I am looking very much forward to doing the Kemah race next weekend, both as a distraction from Ironman Texas on the horizon and to see how much improvement I show. However, I also know that I do not expect this to be at true race level effort as I am still training with a higher priority in mind, and that higher priority race does not go off until May 21st.

65 days until Ironman Texas.....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

IMTX Training - Week 11

This past week was Week 10 of Ironman Texas Training. This week was a continuation of my current build phase, as modified to allow for a taper before the Kemah International Triathlon in 2 weeks.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 8,500 yards, 3:25:43
Bike - 104.3 miles on trainer and roads, 6:43:34
Run - 29.05 miles, 6:15:52
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, 0:30:00

Overall training time 16:55:10

This week pushes into the second half of my training cycle of my training program. The highlights of this week included an increase in my running mileage (including my longest run so far of this training plan--13.6 miles) and completing a 70 mile bike/3.25 mile run brick workout. The low point of the week is that I shortened my planned 90 mile ride/3 mile run brick workout earlier today due to some calf soreness (shortened to the previously mentioned managed 70 mile bike/3.25 mile run brick workout). I had first felt the calf soreness during the 13.6 mile run on Thursday and then again in Saturday's 6 mile run. Fortunately, it did not seem to be a factor during my brick run following the bike ride today. If I had gotten in the full ride distance, I would have had my first 18 hour week of training, however I still think it was the right decision to shorten the ride as a potential injury concern. During the last week I have often felt generally weary and tired, but I was able to take advantage of some extra sleep on Saturday to feel a bit more rested at the end of the training week.

I also had a big moral victory this weekend. I cleaned out my closet of any old clothes that did not fit. As I got farther back I could see hoe the sizes changed. I could see how much difference there was in the biggest clothes (wow!) and found a few that remained from years gone by (um, like since 1992/1993) that fit now. It looks like a local charity is about to get a large clothing donation soon. I took the time to buy a few items that fit properly, and I am thrilled to be at the same waist size I had when I was back in the Marines (although I still need to get rid of this extra stomach area weight I am currently carrying!).

62 days until Ironman Texas.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Texas Independence Relay

A couple of weekends back I participated in the Texas Independence Relay (TIR). The TIR is a 203.2 mile relay race from Gonzales, TX to the San Jacinto Monument. The course covers 203.2 miles in remembrance of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico in 1836.

The TIR is a challenging and wonderful event where you spend much time time in close contact with your team as you work to pursue your race goals. Most of my running was done in fairly secluded Texas country, often with only the cows and horses on nearby land as my company. My first leg was on isolated dirt roads where the support vehicles were not allowed to travel. In this area it was just myself and the the countryside, although I happily enjoyed an almost all downhill run with the wind at my back! I think my favorite leg came around 2:25 in the early morning as I ran down an empty stretch of Texas highway mostly alone, able to enjoy the stars and the sounds of the owls in the night. For the most part the only signs of other runners were the faint signs of scattered blinking lights strapped to runners in the distance ahead of me and the occasional support van driving by. The best view during this dark run had to be while crossing the Brazos River and I could see almost nothing but dark countryside and a star-filled sky in almost every direction. In the span of this relay leg I only crossed the paths of 2 or 3 runners in the 45 minutes inspect running, and I enjoyed every minute of this nighttime run! I thoroughly enjoyed TIR. While it is not easy, it is a very rewarding effort. I was surprised by how many runners I knew on the various teams and by how easy it is to make new friends as you interact with all the other teams around you. I often run events for enjoyment rather than speed, and I have to say that this was the most fun I have ever had at a running event.

One commonality shared by most of the teams is a desire to have fun and a strong feeling of camaraderie runs through the teams. In addition, it seems the desire to have fun is also a shared trait as shown in particular (almost to an extreme) by some teams. A friend of mine ran for Team TAGND (The Athletic Girls Next Door) and wore matching Catholic schoolgirl type costumes. Another Team named The Mullets has created their own Facebook page which also lists themselves as professional athletes, and they certainly displayed their unique hairstyle during the event. Other teams had names such as Wolverine Express (a member of this team serenaded a member of my team at a relay exchange point while they were waiting for their team's runners to come in), Most Likely to Secede, and 2 Slow 2 Win 2 Dumb 2 Quit give you an idea into the state of mind of some of the competing teams.

For anyone desiring to put together a relay team for this (or a similar) event, my best advice is to understand the logistics needed to move runners ahead on the course to be in the right place at the right time. However, the trouble is well worth going through for such an incredible experience.

In this photo I am at the base of the San Jacinto Monument with several of my teammates just following our successful completion of the event in 31:24:59.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

IMTX Training - Week 10

This past week was Week 10 of Ironman Texas Training. This week was a chance to settle back into my training plan. This week had me getting back into the build phase of my training cycle.

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 9600 yards, 4:10:46
Bike - 127.2 miles on trainer, 8:23:07
Run - 18.0 miles, 3:48:07
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, 0:45:00

Overall training time 17:07:50

This week marks the halfway point of my training cycle as I completed Week 10 of a 20 week training program and the busiest (in terms of workout time) week yet. The highlight of this week was completing a planned 110 mile bike ride, which I extended a bit to 112.2 miles. It was a long and hard ride with a lot of riding into a headwind, but I managed to complete the long training ride in 7:22:12. An additional highlight for the week was getting the lab data back from last week's annual physical, which was filled with good news. It was good to see the rewards for living a healthier lifestyle. The low point of the week is that I managed to gain a few pounds during and following last week's relay, so I will need to concentrate on my diet plan a bit better going forward. On the schedule for next week are several slight increases, except my long bike ride becomes a 90 mile ride/3 mile run brick workout. While I end this training week a bit stiff from the 112 mile ride earlier today, I also end it feeling better from the injury perspective--a bit of soreness here and there during the week, but no injuries!

69 days until Ironman Texas.....

Monday, March 7, 2011

IMTX Training - Week 9

This past week was Week 9 of Ironman Texas Training. This week was a radical departure from recent weeks. This week would have normally been part of my current build phase, however this past weekend included my participation in the Texas Independence Relay. While I will save the bulk of my comments on the T.I.R. for a separate post, for now let's just say that I had fun. Not your run of the mill level of fun, but LOTS of fun concentrated into somewhere around 37 straight hours of traveling fun that left me as exhausted as I have been in a long time!

Here is how this past week of training breaks down:

Swim - 8600 yards, 3:23:03
Bike - 35 miles on trainer, 1:53:03
Run - 28.3 miles, 5:16:11 (mostly, though not all, at T.I.R.)
Other - stretching specific or other training workout, 1:45:00 (I did lots of stretching at T.I.R. to help prevent injury and to try to keep from being too tight)

Overall training time 12:17:17

Well, this was not too much of a build for the build week, although I think things worked out well for unintended reasons. Starting on Tuesday it seemed I had a strange spell of minor injuries over 3 days. I think it started at my annual physical on Tuesday (btw, my lingering concern from previous years had been blood pressure inching up to the top of the normal range, it has finally come down to the range expected of an endurance athlete and while I am still awaiting lab work, everything seems great). Anyway, he gave me a sample of some allergy medicine to try out which worked very well to clear up my symptoms quickly, however I did feel some otherwise unexplained joint pain over the next few days which made moving a bit uncomfortable, though was not enough to prevent me from doing any workouts--although I did take it easy and also skipped a workout during those days. By the time Friday rolled around I was feeling fine and beginning to also feel rested for the coming weekend.

As I said before, my T.I.R. weekend was great and will be the subject of a future blog post, however I do believe that doing the T.I.R. gave me a bit of a break from my grueling training routine and reinvigorated my desire to train, which had been slowly waning a bit over the last few weeks. My next training week brings with it my longest planned bike ride to date of 110 miles. It also brings with it the halfway point of my IM training program.

75 days until Ironman Texas...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Recap

This will just be a short post to cover my month of February.

The month marked the second month of my Ironman training program. So far, so good, is an accurate assessment of my Ironman training progress. My training has seen some ups and downs, but so far I have been able to keep with my training program, despite a few aches and pains. In February I swam 16.70 miles (an increase from 14.86 miles in January) and ran 90.71 miles (compared to 103.85 miles in January). I did not track all of my bike miles due to spending some of my bike time on a trainer or spin bike instead of riding on the road; however based upon the training time I estimate around 421 bike miles during the month (compared with 325 bike miles during January). My mileage in each of swimming and biking is the most I have done in a single calendar month, while my running totals are pretty close to last month, especially considering the fact that February is a short month. All of my hard work did not go unrewarded as I continued to lose some weight, dropping under 190 lbs (187.6 lbs on March 1 weigh-in) for the first time since late 1991/early 1992.

Finally, I will enjoy a unique diversion in early March as I run the 203 mile Texas Independence Relay with a team of 12 this weekend, and then I start to look forward to my pre-Ironman tune-up race--the Kemah International Distance Triathlon 4 weeks later.