Thursday, October 25, 2012

Changing Course.....

Saturday's workout was a long, tough workout with a simple plan. 65-70 miles on bike, including 90 minutes at Zone 3 race simulation and 60-90 minutes of upper Zone 2 riding after that. Finally, the  workout would conclude with a 6 mile run, the first 3 miles in low Zone 3 before running the last 3 miles at a Zone 2 pace. As tough as this  workout sounds, I'd been looking forward to it. I've been feeling as strong as I ever have recently--and that really means something with my 47th birthday looming several weeks out, since I really mean I am feeling as strong as ever! This workout was going to be the cherry on top of this race cycle, one in which I was confident I would post a sub-5:30 half iron time in two more weeks. That race would be the crowning achievement on a race season whose success has taken my own breath away.

For the first two hours and twenty-seven minutes, I covered around 48-ish miles. I was either on-plan or exceeding my race plan in every way--and this was before my race taper. Then, in the span of an instant I can't remember, it all unraveled.  One moment I was passing a neighborhood park and preparing for a turn, the next thing I remember is being talked to from above and being strapped to a backboard for ambulance transport.......

The rest of that day was a whirlwind, and I can't recall every detail. Here is the very short version..... I had 5 broken ribs, a broken clavicle (4 breaks) that is now held together with a rod, and multiple scapula breaks. I also had a bruised lung and was originally being watched as a possible punctured lung. I was also suffering from a lot of road rash--bad abrasions from skin rubbing against the ground during the crash. This was worst on the shoulder, but also affected the side of my chest, thigh, knee, foot and hand. All of my injuries are on the right side of my body.  After the emergency room was done with me, I spent the next 4 days in the Intermediate Care Unit, which is a step down from the Intensive Care Unit. The biggest medical worry was the lung. Fortunately, it was not punctured and the bruise began to heal without blossoming into something worse. By Thursday I was able to be sent home so I could get going with my recovery.

The video below was taken right after being admitted so I could document my wounds.

At this point I am only going to consider my health recovery as my goal and it will dictate its own timeline. I have a long road ahead but have a good base of health as a solid foundation and starting point. While I was in the hospital, I heard a lot of "you"re so young", "you're so healthy", "anyone else would have taken a couple weeks to recover like you have in a few days" and similar comments. It makes me feel like I'm already winning and can make it back. Ironman Texas is 7 months away, but it is still a possible goal for me to do it next year.

As to the equipment damage, the bike took less apparent damage than I. The wheels still spin true and a cursory check did not show frame damage. The main damage was oddly located on the brakes and shifters--basically the part located most forward on the top side is scratched up bad, with the right brake control taking the worst of it. The helmet has two major impact marks on the outside. It also has several cracks that go completely through the padding, starting from near an ear and moving towards near center. I think it clearly shows my injuries could have been worse. Just looking at the helmet damage breaks me up. However, I am going to go forward from this point and regain what I have lost, and then go forward from there.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ten for Texas 2012

The Ten for Texas race, a local 10 mile event, is one of those races that I try to do when my schedule allows. This year was the fourth year out of six that I have been able to do this event. Since I've done this race for most of my recent running years it acts as a marker for me to compare how I have improved over previous years as I strive to work on a healthy and active lifestyle.

Race morning proved to be warm and humid, but I don't worry about such things since I was going to race no matter what the weather. However, this did mean I brought my handheld bottle with me and worked a nutrition plan around that by dissolving all my nutritional needs in that bottle and then the water stations served as "extra" for me to be able to take in enough additional water as needed.

In the days before the race I modified my race plan to be a bit more aggressive. I finished in 1:29:50 last year and wanted to beat that PR time by a fair bit. I was originally going to try to start at an 8:30 min per mile pace and then run according to what my heart rate would allow until I got to the last few miles. In my final estimation I thought I might be able to do better and changed my plan to starting at 8:00 minute miles before running what my heart rate goals would allow and then be willing to open up the effort level over the last three miles.

I started off in the midst of a crowd and it took me a bit to get free of that crowd. Fortunately, I was running generally on my desired pace at this point, so I tried to not waste too much energy by moving through the crowd. A friend of mine snapped this photo early in the race. I'm not exactly sure where it was, though I think is was in the first mile of the race since there are runners on both lanes of traffic and I am not yet covered in sweat.

By the time I got to the first water station at mile 2 there were other runners around but not enough to limit my own running. By mile 3 I'm starting to feel the effect of the warmer weather and realize that I am sweating a good bit but I am only now starting to reach my lactate threshold heart rate. As each mile goes on it starts to feel a little harder on me after mile 5. I see Karen and she runs with me for a bit in the 7th mile of the race. I really don't feel at my best by I know I have a pretty good race going on and just need to keep moving forward as best I can. My pace starts to drop some more in mile 7 but I am able to open up my effort for the last 3 miles and let my heart rate go higher by this point. That is good because this is also when my pace takes a drop off. I imagine I would have had to drop that pace more if I was still trying to maintain a lower heart rate as I was earlier in the run. I am pretty much running on fumes by the last mile, and I am not even sure how my pace does not drop more than it did as I think I am running on willpower alone at this point. Finally, I am able to manage a small sprint at the finish and am very relieved to be done. I measured the race at 10.08 miles and my miles splits were as listed here as I finished in 1:22:36.
Mile 1 8:00
Mile 2 7:50
Mile 3 8:07
Mile 4 8:16
Mile 5 8:07
Mile 6 8:07
Mile 7 8:12
Mile 8 8:23
Mile 9 8:31
Mile 10 8:29
last 0.08 miles 0:34 (Obviously, the disagreed a bit. Interesting that they were exactly together on miles 1-6, and then they disagreed a bit on each mile after that.)

So, I do get that PR that I set out for as beat last year's time of 1:29:50 by 7:14 as my plan appears to give me a result that I believe was pretty much my best possible time for the day, and I think that is something that I can be happy with. I think my most notable observation on this race was that my slowest mile (run in 8:31) was faster than all but my single fastest mile in last year's race (8:21 as I sprinted out mile 10 last year). This year's "sprint" proved I did not have quite the same amount of extra power left near the end of this year's race. I finished with the 27th fastest time out of 115 in my age group and 254th out of 1,920 overall.

This photo was snapped with about a quarter mile left in the race as I attempted to push myself to the finish.

This photo is from near the Mile 9 mark in 2007. My how things have changed for me in these five years!

After all of this fun, I spent much of the day tracking a couple friends in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Unfortunately, my friend Chris did not complete this year's race as she pulled out after 93 miles of cycling. However, she is looking forward to taking on the Ironman distance again, including a chance to qualify for a return trip to Kona--not bad at all for a woman about to turn 71 years old! However, my friend and coach Michelle did complete her race. She finished 8th in the women's 35-39 age group and was the 19th amateur woman of any age to cross the finish line as she finished a tough day that included some bike mechanical issues and a minor injury in 10:19:14  and later referred to this as her "first Kona and second Ironman" race. I suspect she is already beginning to plan a return trip to improve her top 10 finish to a podium finish after this experience.