Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

Now that 2011 is wrapped up, I want to take a bit of time to look over the year and see how I did in my training and racing.

In 2010, I ran 626.2 miles, biked 2060.8 miles and swam 69.5 miles for the year (a total of 2756.6 miles). In addition, I logged a total of 20540 minutes of training activities for the year. This was certainly a surprising figure for me and represented a lot more training than that which I had been used to doing. I knew that my goals for 2011 would require an increase, but I had no idea just how much that would be!

In 2011, I logged an amazing 30,265 minutes of training (over 21 full days!). During this time I logged 2,425.39 bike only miles, 948.79 run only miles and 161.42 swim only miles. In addition to these, I had 86.83 miles of brick workouts logged (a combination of 2 training disciplines back to back) and 206.84 triathlon miles (swim, bike and run) logged. This represents a total of 3,829.27 miles. All of these were significant increases from the previous year.

For this I will merely say, "Wow!" one more time.

All of this training does come at a serious personal cost in terms of lost opportunity to do other things with my time. However, this training did come with other significant benefits. One of these is that I entered at least 10 races where I can take measure of myself. In each case, I saw a PR where I had previously done that distance. In all the other races, I set a pace that was above a level compared to paces of previous years. Another of the benefits is that I spent a lot of time training with friends--I made a lot of new friends and got to know some previous friends even better. I spent a lot of time training together with these people and a lot more talking over food and drink after workouts as well. I found this social time to be valuable to keeping a positive mental state in all of these experiences. I also saw a corresponding in increase in my health. My test results from a late year physical exam were very good and I saw a decrease in my weight from 202.8 lbs to 179.2 lbs from January 1 to December 31 over the year. As a matter of comparison, I the last time I was 180 lbs before this year was probably in the late 1980's when I was in the Marines. Along with this, I've dropped from wearing 33 inch waist size pants to 30/31 inch waist size pants. Finally, all of these, plus the fact that I finally mentally accepted the entirety of the race schedule of my year (i.e. primarily completing Ironman Texas) had the combined effect of giving me an enormous boost of self confidence. At the beginning of the year I never quite accepted that I belonged in the same group with most of my teammates in my training group. The truth is that I came to realize later that this was really just in my head and I lacked the self-confidence to accept that I was a "real" athlete alongside these other athletes.

Of all the changes I went through this past year, I would have to say the mental growth and realization of who I really was that was hiding behind my poor mental self image was the most important growth that I experienced this year, and I suspect that it will be the most important and long lasting of these changes. A few years ago I got into triathlon thinking it would be fun and would help me overall with my training and weight loss. Little did I know that it would become a springboard to change my life for the better in so many ways.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Personal Training Goals vs. Reality

Instead of setting a litany of race-based goals at the start of 2011, I attempted to set goals that included a sense of overall balance with my annual priorities. Looking back over these goals I found that I had largely forgotten about them in the process of pursuing them. Let's look back and see how I did.

1. Get to the starting line of Ironman Texas trained and ready to race.
From a competitive perspective my Ironman Texas effort fell a bit short of race day hopes, but looking back I need to remember that I was taking on a task that was so far ahead of anything I had done previously that one of my chief concerns was even making it through the training process healthy. Generally speaking, I had a good training sequence leading up to the race and got to the IMTX start healthy, trained and ready to race.

2. Spend more time with my wife.
This one sounds so easy and yet can be so difficult to quantify. My wife and I share a number of interests, however the physical events of triathlon are not among them. Even so, I think I was able to keep enough room in my life for my wife while maintaining my training. I don't know that the distractions of work, training and life in general will ever really allow me to spend as much time with my wife as I might wish, but I will try to keep this in mind going forward into 2012.

3. Find a better balance between training, work and family.
I think the answer to #2 also pretty much applies to #3 as well..

4. Training and Race Goals.

IMTX - (Finish the race in the official 17 hour time window.) Even with my IMTX day falling short of race day expectations, I still met this goal.
Half Marathon - I had hoped to do a half marathon in fall and finish in the 2:00 to 2:15 range, however I did not do a half marathon this year.
5K - (25 minutes was my 2011 goal as set back then.) Never would I have expected That I would run a sub 23 minute 5K back then. Heck, I did not even think it was possible the day before I did it! That week before my friend Karen was challenging me to run under 24 minutes, and I thought even that time was questionable.

Overall, I think it is pretty safe to conclude that I had a successful year with respect to my goals. Beyond that I have to say that I feel the year was also wildly successful for a few additional reasons. First, I did quite a few races last year, sometimes doing the same distance more than once during the year. In each case, in each and every race that I did, I set a new race PR for that race distance. The totality of being able to race well and to continue to advance my fitness that much is something in which I take a good deal of pride. Second, I have been through a complete paradigm shift in my expectations. In terms of endurance and speed, in terms of strength and overall fitness, and in all other terms I can realistically apply, my views of what are possible have changed well beyond where they were a year ago. In response to these changes I am having to relearn what expectations I should have for myself. I also had to recognize that these changes included the physical as well as the mental. During the year I dropped sizes in clothing and had to adapt to changes in my physical appearance. It is even fair to say that I have had trouble recognizing my own reflection at times due to these changes. Finally, I learned during the year there were those who had seen what I had accomplished over recent years and thought of me as an inspiring example. I found that to be quite humbling then, and still do. However it does give me an additional incentive to live up to the example I have tried to set for my family, and apparently, the example being taken by a few others around me as I head into 2012.

147 days until Ironman Texas....

Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I've been so busy with the effects of the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's holidays compressing my work schedule over the last few weeks that I have not really had much time to even think about my blog for too long. This coming Monday will mark my effective end of the business year from the standpoint of major deadlines and I finally am starting to have time to think over my past year and look forward to my next year....

Speaking of next year, let's see what is already on the schedule for me (my apologies to Kelley who doesn't want to be reminded of how fast IMTX is coming up):

Leaving for my Disney trip next January, 18 days
Disney Half Marathon, 21 days
Disney Marathon, 22 days
Rocky Raccoon 50, 49 days
The Woodlands Marathon, 77 days
Texas Independence Relay (March 31- April 1), 105 days
Ironman 70.3 Galveston (April 1), 106 days
CB&I Triathlon, 140 days
Ironman Texas, 154 days

After that will come some real, well-earned rest before I pick up doing whatever I feel like doing at the time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Escape from Huntsville 20K

Today I took a step back towards my running roots and did the Escape from Huntsville 20K today in Huntsville, Texas.

I did not really "race" this event today as it was part of a planned training weekend, enabling me to regain some familiarity with trail running--and I will say there are a lot more ups, downs and roots sticking up than I remember from a few years ago! I ran this at a quick endurance pace without letting my heart rate get above the aerobic endurance training zone (upper zone 2 of 4 heart rate training zones).

I had a lot of fun and enjoyed this run and it brought back some memories of why I loved trail running so much. I really enjoyed the scenery and the variety that trail running brings, plus I had forgotten how much of the time you feel alone in the woods, even though others are not far away.

I finished in 2:14:01, easily my fastest trail run pace. I suppose this is technically a PR as it is also my first 20K distance for any type of run.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Bit of Inspiration

Looking for a bit of inspiration?

Check out this article on the Ironman website about a friend and fellow member of OutRival Racing. In November Chris Gause became the oldest woman to ever finish Ironman Florida (in any year) and I have also been told is the oldest female finisher of any full Ironman race in the continental U.S.

You might be thinking that an athlete of this distinction has a lifetime of athleticism behind her. However, that's not true as she really began her training and racing in 2005.

Way to go, Chris!