Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Turning 50!!

                                                            The BIG 50!!! 

Honestly I don't know what all the buzz is about, it's just a number. Regardless, I was excited to celebrate this historic occasion although I sure hope that there are more memorable dates in my future.  

The day began with Kathy and I rolling out of bed around 5:25 am.  The goal was to be in the water at 5:50 am and we succeed diving in on right on time. We proceeded to swim 50 x 50's.  Nothing too exciting to report other than I hadn't swam one yard since doing the open water swim race on 9/8 in Chicago.  We finished in about 50 minutes and headed home.

We abandoned our normal diet for the day and went to Squeeze where we had a spinich/mushroom/goat cheese omlette and a cup of chai tea.  The meal was great but by the end we both wished we had just stayed at home and had a smoothie.  

Next on the agenda was a 50 mile bike ride.  With a house that still needed to be cleaned for the party in the evening, impending bad weather forecasted and a trip to the store in the future we needed to get moving.  When we headed out the door the weather was absolutely gorgeous but I still encouraged Kathy to get some arm and leg warmers which she reluctantly did.  I'm convinced it hadn't been my birthday she would have told me to mind my own business and that she was fine.  

We proceeded down the South Platte Trail and took a detour around Dartmoth to try and find a route to the  DU campus.  We eventually found our way and returned to the South Platte around 21 miles into the journey. The pace was leaisurly and we were conversational. The sky was starting to darken as we headed downtown.  I noticed the pace starting to pick up and Kathy was saying she was getting cold.  We got to REI and determined that we would be about 1 mile short coming home and would tack that mile on at the end of the route.  

As we started home the wind picked up and small rain drops started to hit our faces.  I saw Kathy switch into a big gear and away we went.  My garmin data is a tale of two tapes.  The line on the way home was a lot higher than on the way going out.  Every time the rain picked up so did our pace.  Forunately we made it back South without getting too wet. The sun was out and we were both complaining of being warm on the ride home.   Finished the 50 and moved on with the day.

The next plan was lunch, a short nap and a 5 mile run but I soon bagged that plan.  There was too much to do with company coming over in a few hours.  I did lay done for about 30 minutes but I never actually slept.  

For the big day we decided to celebrate on the actual date of my birth and replace our annual Kona party.  We sent out over 110 invitations and I was told about 80 people came in and out throughout the evening.  Nick came home from college and missed a fraternity initiation ceremony.  My take on that was someone missed getting swatted with a paddle one more time but he assured me it was more than that. Of course he can't tell me the details because he is sworn to secrecy.

 A number of current and former athletes came and it was good to connect with everyone. 

 Kathy invited a group of ladies she coaches and it was great to see them all dressed up in non athletic attire.
 We have been members of the RMTC since 2005 and have forged some great relationships over the years.
 Time for a family photo late in the evening.  Lauren was at swimming and joined us late.
With Charley Perez.  Charley is an amazing man, friend and a great coach. The following day one of his athletes would win her age group at the Ironman World Championships.

The evening was a huge success.  I felt the love of a lifetime of friendships and couldn't have asked for anything more.  I'll be honest and say I'm glad the 40's are out of the way.  A lot of great things happened for me in my 40's namely leaving Corporate America and starting my own company, completing two Ironmans and watching my family grow and succeed in a  number of areas.  However, I sufferred some serious injuries in my 40's which sidelined my athletic ventures which I missed very much. 

I'm signed up for Ironman Texas in May.  When I complete that race I will have completed at least one Ironman in my 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.  I have a goal to complete one Ironman in each decade of my life. 

Here's to another 50!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Big Shoulders 5k Swim Lake Michigan

After fracturing my hip on May 10th I made it a priority to have a goal for this season to help me with motivation during my recovery.  Since running and biking were out for some time I was able to lift weights and swim.  The Big Shoulders open water swim 5k has always been on my bucket list of races to complete.  During my time at Grant Ranch I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of Colorado's top open water swimmers such as Sarah Thomas, Ken Classen, Craig Lenning and Cliff Crozier.  This group has accomplished some 'real" open water swims i.e. English Channel, solo efforts across Lake Tahoe, Manhattan, Tsugaru to name a few.  I'm quite sure they don't even look at my race (especially since I wore a wet suit) as anything more than cool down swim.   However, they have inspired me and swimming 5k in Lake Michigan was only .7 miles more than an Ironman swim so I figured it was a good goal with a broken hip and would stretch me during my recovery.
With Ross and Marion Hauser. I've known Ross since the 2nd grade. He has finished this race twice. I couldn't have asked for more gracious hosts and sherpas!! Thank You!!

I began swimming two days after fracturing my hip. I had been swimming masters 3x a week since November so I had a good foundation.  My routine was swim one day lift the next.  I eventually built up my pull sessions to 4k. After about 8 weeks I could do flip turns but still no kicking.  Nine weeks post accident I went back to masters but had to move down a few lanes because I still couldn't kick and my flip turns didn't produce much of a push off the wall.  The following week I moved back to my original lane and added two weekend open water swims at Grant Ranch.  I didn't officially track yardage but I was putting in between 14 and 17k each week.  My longest open water effort in training was just over 3 miles and my time was 1:28.  The lake I practice in is always flat and rarely are we dealing with any elements.  In the back of my mind I was a little concerned about the conditions in Lake Michigan, mainly waves and cold water.  I had been swimming in water which was high 70's most of the summer.
Packet pickup. It was cold !!

Ross pointed out to me where the course would go. I was starting to get a little nervous as some of the waves were 3-4 feet and it was windy.

Ross and Marion got me down to the lake early and that was good as the registration lines were long.  I was glad to get through the lines early so I could study the course, ease my mind and prepare for the swim.  I ran into Scott Reeves who is the registrar for Big Shoulders.  Scott and I went to high school together and back in the day he was "the man" when it came to swimming.  Scott's daughter Haley would be doing her first open water swim and both were swimming the 2.5 k loop without wet suits. Scott repeatedly tried to get me to shed the wet suit but I declined.  I also ran into Kim Katz who I coached for a few Ironmans a few years back and it is always good to see her smiling face.  Her aura is just infectious and helped calm me down.

 The wind was quite strong and it was cold so my mind told me the water would be cold.  I opted to not do a warm up as did most of the 1200.  The race was delayed as there the PA system had not arrived and the Life Guards had no oars for the boats.  The race director went over some race day logistics, the original race director was recognized and the obligatory triathlete jokes (why can't we all just respect that we each swim.  Never can understand why people in the same class have to make fun of each other). Eventually we started to line up in our waves which would go off in 3 minute increments.  I was in wave 5 and eventually said good bye to Ross and Marion and heading off to the start. 

As I headed out to the start I noticed that there were very few people actually moving to the start line.  Everyone was hanging back.  I ended up front row and off to the right.  It was difficult to site the buoys because the waves were forcing you to bounce up and down.  I had opted to wear two caps (because I thought the water was cold), ear plugs because I've had recurring ear infections this summer and because my silicone cap covered my ears. As I swam out to the start buoy I couldn't help but notice the water was VERY WARM. The gun went off and I started swimming.  I noticed because of the swells I wasn't moving through the water as quickly as I normally do. I knew the first leg would be the hardest as the waves were coming straight in.  About 400 yards in I started to have some breathing difficult and had to breast stroke for about 30 seconds.  I started swimming again and felt better immediately.  Because of the chop I started using more of a delayed stroke up front, almost a catch up stroke. This seemed to help me get through the water better.  Sighting remained a challenge so I tried to site off the arms and legs in front of me the best I could. An issue I soon found out was that a number of the life guards were wearing orange jackets which made them look like buoys.  They were not stationary so I found myself chasing a moving buoy until I figured this out.
Wave 5 start.  I am the first white cap to the right of outside buoy
I made my way the to the first buoy and was relieved to have a little calmer water.  Each leg of the swim was a 1/2 mile.  I started to catch some of the swimmers in front of me and sighting was easier with all the skyscrapers in the horizon.  I felt strong in the water and continued to focus on form and breathing.  I was surprised at how much of the swim I was by myself but that is how things work out sometimes.  Perhaps this is normal in open water swim races?

The third leg of the of first lap was the easiest as we now had the waves behind us and could feel an occasional surge forward.  I made the turn in 41 minutes and headed out for lap number 2 (there is no getting out of the water, just a loop). The 4th leg of this race was a bitch.  I found myself struggling a little and it seemed like I was swimming all over the place.  One second the buoy would be just to my left and then I would take 5 strokes and I would be completely on the other side of the buoy. Other than this leg I had no issues with swimming straight so I can only attribute this to the waves moving us around.  It seemed like this leg was taking the longest.  I was starting to get a headache from being over heated and I wanted to rip off my caps but I didn't (not yet).  I eventually made it to the turn and noticed that I continued to pick off some slower swimmers.  I had no idea where I was position wise but I knew I surely wasn't up front.  Without being able to see much I just focused on trying to swim straight and catching a glimpse of the next buoy.

One of the other white caps in the background chasing me to the finish.
As I made the turn for the last buoy I was passed by two white caps wearing wet suits.  I was really get lethargic and my head was pounding.  I finally ripped off my top cap and slowed things down a little to see if I could regain my form which was getting a little sloppy.  I kept thinking "tempo and arm speed".  I could see the two white caps swimming about 10-15 yards ahead of me and I picked up my pace in an attempt to try and catch them.  At first I made no ground up and even found myself going off line a little to my left.  I corrected some technique issues, focused on tempo, arm speed and staying long and strong.  I eventually caught up to them but couldn't pull away.  I was getting tired and my head and stomach were not happy. I felt like throwing up and was getting really warm.  I won't go as far as saying I should have listened to Scott but it would have been nice to not be in a full sleeve wet suit!  I found a last surge and eventually pulled past both of the other white caps, made my way to shore and headed to the finishers shoot.

The first thing I did when I stood up was rip my last cap off. The cooler air felt much better. I saw Ross and Marion, waved and ran over the finish line. I got out of my wet suit as quickly as possible. Spent some time with Ross and Marion at the finish line.  Met Scott's daughter as well as the race director and then we headed home for some food and rest.   I later found out I was 8th in the wet suit division BUT of all the swimmers in the 5k division I was in the lower 40% overall. The majority of "real" swimmers don't don wet suits.  My finish time was 1:29 which was exactly what I was doing in my training swims.  I didn't really have a time goal but thought I would come in somewhere around 1:25-1:30. Given the conditions I was happy with my time.  Mission accomplished!! This was a very well organized event with some very fast swimmers.  I look forward to going back in the future and some day to do this event with my daughter and wife!! A huge thank you to Ross and Marion for your hospitality.  It is ALWAYS good to see you two and as always, I wish we lived closer!!

Finished.. Can I get out of this wet suit PLEASE??

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time for a little recap

Time flies when you are recovering from a broken hip!! The good news is I was cleared to run a few weeks before the original recovery date.  I attribute this to staying positively focused on healing as opposed to feeling sorry for myself because of another set back.  In the whole scheme of what I've been through, missing 10 weeks isn't a big deal.

Once I cleared to start running again I noted that the Rattlesnake Triathlon Sprint was 4 weeks out so I signed up.  I started by running 1 minute and walking 1 minute for the first week and then bumped it up a minute each week.  My initial runs were 2 miles but by week 3 I did a couple of 4 milers.  My pacing including my walks had me around a 9:45 minute mile sometimes 10 minutes per mile. Not fast by any means but I was up and moving.  I started to get some knee discomfort and this was attributed to some muscle imbalances caused by rehab and the break.  I saw my ART Dr. a few times and my PT. I was taped up race week and ready to roll.

In the mean time I continued to swim as my key race of the year will be the Big Shoulders open water 5k swim in Lake Michigan.  I've been putting in 4-5 days a week between 3500-5500 yards.  This includes several 3 mile open water swims at Grant Ranch.  I've never trained for this long of a swim.  I think I may have peaked too early but my only goal is to finish and get the experience of a distance open water swim under my belt.

The coaching business continues to prosper and I couldn't be prouder of the entire Mile High Multisport family.  Our coaches have really started to peak and many of us are already full for next season with clients.  Last weekend, we had 3 more people qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. This brings the total to 7 MHM athletes who will race that day. We also have a number of athletes who are racing at the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas on September 9.  In addition to that we have had some many positive experiences with athletes who are setting goals to live healthy lives and in the end that is mostly what matters.

After the Big Shoulders swim I will race an Olympic distance triathlon on the Western slope of Colorado on 10/7 then shut her down for a little while before ..........big announcement here...... starting training for Ironman Texas.  I've always wanted to do a 5th Ironman and  the timing of this race fits in perfect with our work schedule.  I have no goal other than to finish and prove to myself that I can overcome a lot of set backs and still be in shape to complete an Ironman. I will also have completed one Ironman in each of the decades starting with my 20's.  I did Ironman Canada at age 28, Ironman Wisconsin when I was 39 and 40, Ironman Canada when I was 41 and now Ironman Texas when I'm 50.. Then I'm good with Ironman for at lease 19 more years!!

If you've read this far, thank you.. I'll try to blog a little more frequently in the future.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Life Moves Forward When You Are Injured

But it doesn't mean you have to be left behind..........

I'm 5 + weeks post fracture.  I had a great follow up visit with my Orthopedic Dr. last week who told me I'm ahead of schedule in my recovery.  I have bony union and can begin rehabilitating my hip. He gave me some exercises to do and told me I would be fine. "just don't fall off the bike"  Excuse me Dr. but you don't seem to understand I have a problem with that!!  I'm amazed at how much strength you can lose in a short period of time. My upper body has put on size from lifting but I cringe when I see my bird legs in a mirror (I cringed before the accident so you can only imagine what they look like now!)

So my routine since day two of being injured has been swim one day (pull buoy) and lift the other. I'm stepping that routine up a little. I'm happy to report that I'm back with my masters program and today moved back into my old lane.  I'm kicking and pushing off the wall. Today was the 5th time I've swam in the past 7 days including a 2.4 mile open water swim yesterday at Grant Ranch.  Today I signed up for a 5k open water swim race in Chicago on September 9th.  I might as well check one thing off the bucket list this year other than turning 50.

This week was the first week I felt a little down about not racing this year.  Everyone is out racing and seeing results and I'm on the sideline rehabbing...AGAIN.  I've had a few moments of self pity but then I go back to working as hard as I can. There has been one individual at our health club who has told me and a few other people he was looking forward to racing me this year to avenge an earlier loss. He just made the top of my list and I may have to post his picture inside my locker room door!! :) I miss racing and all the positive things that come out of competing.  I'm tired of being the "good supportive guy on the side line".  I want to be the participant again.  So I take each day at a time.  Try to remain upbeat and positive.  I'm reading books when I find myself bored (Highly recommend Unbroken) and working out hard in order to be ready for either the end of this season or next year.

Life isn't stopping because I fractured my hip.  I can either step aside and let life go by or I can step things up and get back in the game.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3.5 Weeks Down

                                    Dinner with Matt/Molly Smith and Brandon and Lauren Barnett.

I'm 3.5 weeks post fracture of my Greater Trochanter and I couldn't be more pleased with my progress.  Although I don't have another Dr. appointment until June 18 I can already tell that I'm healing ahead of schedule. The Dr. tells me that formal PT will be prescribed then but I've already started doing some things with his permission and I feel stronger every day.

Injuries are an opportunity to pay attention to other areas of your life you ignore.  Two days after my accident I was in the weight room, three days back in the pool.  My goal is simply to get stronger and improve my swim fitness. Before anyone writes me, I'm doing everything with Dr.'s permission. 

I gauge progress by how my hip feels today versus one week ago.  I amazed at how much progress I've been able to make.  Yesterday I was able to go up the starts without having to one step with each leg. It wasn't pretty and I don't think I can do that every time I head up the stairs but it is definitely progress.

Since I'm not on a crazy training schedule I have had more time to spend with family and friends and work in my garden.  I took our daughter to Film on the Rocks the other night and saw Office space and have a couple of Rockies games on the schedule for this month.   I also purchased a fly fishing guided tour for my son and I which I hope to be able to use later this summer.

My mind continues to be my greatness tool in my injury.  I truly believe this will not be a long term issue and time and proper rehabilitation will get me back to where I was before I fell.  Thank you to everyone for your positive thoughts and words as they MEAN A LOT TO ME.  God Bless!! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Making Some Progress

First of all I want to thank each of you for your kind thoughts this past week.  If I'm certain about anything right now, it is that I'm surrounded by people who love and care about me.  Who could ask for anything more than that?  So many of you have called, e-mailed, stopped over and sent cards and that was so kind.  The most creative was a bouquet of kale, chard, spinach with Red Beets in the middle!!

My hip continues to make progress and I'm encouraged.  I continue to measure progress by comparing to where I was last week.  Last week I could barely get out of bed, had to use crutches to get up and down the stairs and generally ached all the time.  I was unable to dress myself,  limped like I was 100 years old and couldn't even drive a car.  To show the progress I've made, today I dressed myself, walked down the stairs, used my crutches to get out to my car.  Once in the car (that was the only hard part getting in) I drove myself to the Rec center and swam 3600 yards with a pull buoy.  Progress!!

Tomorrow I have a follow up X ray and am looking for the Dr. to tel me the break is calcifying and reduce my restrictions. That's it for now......Peace!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When Life Hands you Lemons

Make Lemonade!!!!

First off I'll start by saying I hate writing this article.  In fact I almost didn't write anything but I finally landed on that there is something to be learned from every story. 

 Day one group gathering and the morning ride map.
Last Thursday I set out on a 150 mile Mountain Bike Journey from Fruita, Colorado to Moab,Utah as part of the Bikerpelli ride.  This ride has been on my bucket list for years and was part of my "it's all about me" tour this year (I turn 50 in October).  Having completed the Vegas camp and NOLA I wasn't worried about the endurance.  I had done a lot of research on this ride, even meeting with a 4 time finisher to get the logistics of the camp and the trail.  I was told day one was technical in the morning and then nothing technical until Moab on the last half of day three.  I was so excited to do this trip that my bag was packed 5 days before I left. 

I had not done a lot of mountain biking prior to taking off but have ridden a lot in the past. My plan was to be conservative within reason.  When Mountain biking being conservative can be a detriment.  One of the things that my friend told was that I needed to listen intently to all pre ride instructions.  Knowing that I have a tendency to let my mind wander I made sure I hung on every word from the ride director before we took off. 

The group was split into 4 (self seeding) and I opted to go with group three which appeared to be a mixture of middle age guys like myself, women and some bigger riders.  The first three miles were down a dirt path and I found myself in the middle of the group until there were little climbs and then I noticed I caught up to everyone fairly easy.  I wasn't even working hard but this was a long journey and I was pacing myself.  I tried talking to a few people but groups of friends had formed and I didn't find the other riders interested in idle chit chat so I just took in the scenery.  I even stopped to take a few pictures. "It's not a race, stop and smell the roses".
 some of the incredible views and this was in the first two hours of the ride.
I had finished the first two loops of the morning and was just starting Troy's loop. The ride director said that the each loop gets a little more technical so I stopped at the trail head.  There were three guys there.  One guy who wasn't with the group asked where we were heading and I replied "Moab? you?"  He said "the parking lot" and we all chuckled.  Not wanting to be riding in a group at this point in time I asked the other two guys if they wanted to go ahead. If we encountered any techncial stuff I wanted the option to get off my bike and not worry about holding anyone up.  They declined to go even though I asked twice so I took off.  I was about 250 yards down the trail and my front tire washed for no apparent reason.  There wasn't a drop off and the few rocks that were on the trail didn't present any technical challenge.  Perhaps the ground was soft, I don't know. All I know is that I went down hard and landed directly on  rock with my hip.  "Shit" I bounced right up knowing the two guys were behind me but my hip was not happy.  My bike had slipped off trail under a small evergreen tree and I reached down and drug it back up.  I tried to get back on my bike but couldn't swing my leg over the top tube.  The first guy came buy and I did my best to get out of his way.  When the second guy came by I asked him to stop with me because I wasn't sure if I was o.k.  This guy was completely cool.  He stayed with me for a long time.  I hobbled down the trail to try and get out of peoples way but as the picture above shows it was not easy with the slant.  At one time I almost fell down the hill. 

More people stopped and one said she was a Dr.  She told me to lay down and did this test on my leg and told me my leg/hip were not broken.  I tired to mount the bike from the left side but couldn't get stable on the right leg.  The original guy who stopped gave me some Advil.  His buddies had all ridden back up the trail and now we had a good little group going and I felt bad I was holding up everyone's journey.  They took down my information and were going to notify the ride director of me.  Pre ride instructions said to always keep moving forward so that is what I did down a valley.  My cell phone didn't have coverage.  Another guy stopped on the trail and wanted to stay with me.  He was very kind and asked me all the right questions. "Do you have food, water etc?".   He didn't want to leave me and I didn't want to interrupt his trip.  I could tell he reluctantly moved forward. 
The Colorado River below

I even encountered a few people who weren't happy with me because I wasn't getting out of their way.  One elderly gentlemen even made the point of letting me know that I should have gotten out of his way even though he was going downhill and I was hobbling up hill at the time.

I finally got a hold of the ride director and was told to keep moving forward.  It was hot and I was getting low on water.  I had walked for about 1.5 hours down the trail when I was called and told rescue personnel could not get to me.  I could either have a helicopter come in to get me or go back up trail. I was just hoping my hip was bruised badly and surely didn't want to go out in a helicopter if that was the case so I declined.

I made my way back up the trail. Most of the ride had passed me by but I ran into a few of the back of the packers including the group of ladies I had driven out with.  I could tell they were very concerned but I made sure they continued on.  I was about half way back up the hill at that point.  I cut the conversation short and moved on. 

In short (I know this isn't short).  I ended up getting rescued within a 1/4 mile of where I fell.  I went to the hospital where it was confirmed I had fractured my greater trochanter bone in my hip. Most of you know that in 2008 I suffered compression fractures in my back from a cycling accident in which another cyclist entered the roadway without looking up hill and I struck him.  The last three years have been spent recovering.  Countless trips to medical providers, pilates, yoga, the gym etc. To be sidelined again is like a bad recurring dream.  Why me?

Initially I was told I needed surgery but now I'm being told the bone will heal by itself in 6-8 weeks.  That in 12 weeks I can resume running.  If that is the case I'll be in heaven. After three years trying to get my back in shape, 12 weeks is like nothing.

I feel sorry for my family who has to help me again.  My wife has been nothing but supportive.  The kids just keep themselves busy because they know if they get within shouting distance I'm going to ask them to do something.

I'm able to walk up and down stairs without my crutches.  I've even gone to the gym and lifted some upper body weights on the stationary machines.  My friends have sent me movies, books and someone is bringing us dinner tonight.  I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who love me and I consider myself to be very fortunate.  It could have been worse.  I'll be back as soon as I get clearance.  Obviously my summer slate is now wiped free.  The ride director extended an invitation to come back next year......hmmmmmmmm?????? Unfinished bucket list items..... As of now, I have plenty of time to think about that....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Just a Test (NOLA 70.3)

First and foremost I want to thank everyone who reads my blog.  With all the blogs out there. I'm humbled whenever anyone tells me they read my stuff. ( and some of you even tell me you like it)

Last year, I attempted to make my triathlon comeback at the end of the season with an off road triathlon in September. In the days leading up to the event the swim was cancelled due to cold temperatures and then the event was cancelled due to snow.  I moved on to the off season and set my sites to New Orleans 70.3 race.  I chose this race because it was early season.  Once May 1 rolls around I typically don't know what is on my schedule due to coaching, working the lake and kids activities so I wanted an early season focus race.

Without getting into a lot of detail I was doing great three weeks out from the race. After completing the Mile High Multisport training camp in Vegas, I was convinced I could go close to 5 hours on this course.  About 2.5 weeks before the race and just after returning from Vegas I woke up one morning with an ache just below my knee on the outside of my leg around the fibular head area.  It hurt to walk.  I started getting treatment and within a day or two my ITB flared..great. I completed a 60 mile bike two weeks out then put the bike away, no running either so I decided to swim, complete light weights and stretch.  During this time my body gave me no indications that it was healing and my confidence going into the race quickly evaporated.  I worked on positive self talk, wrote down all the sacrifices I had made since breaking my back in 2008 and repeatedly asked myself if I was willing to walk away from all this and not race. I told myself to not worry about what others thought as they truly had no idea what I have or am going through but my mind continued to torment me.  I developed a mantra "my mind will be stronger than my body" and I prayed. I prayed a lot.

Kathy and I have always said that racing is "just a test" to see how we handle adversity.  In the end, our body always responds positively and that any bumps in the road are just tests.  Kathy is much better at handling tests than I am. She has this unique way of just letting "stuff" roll off her back. At times I want to pinch her and see if there is someone inside her skin when "stuff" pops up.  So in the weeks leading up to the race I was anxious and nervous.  I started to question if I wanted to race. After all, I wanted a great come back race. I knew I could finish this distance. I had put in a lot of effort and my training results were positive. Considering I couldn't run a mile in March of 2011 I couldn't have been happier with my level of conditioning  Yet the tests kept coming.  My father was hospitalized in March and remains in the hospital to this day (in fact as I'm writing this report he is in surgery for a third time).  He sounded bad and my mother told me he looked bad.  I couldn't help but question if I was being selfish by racing when I should be back in Chicago helping my parents.  I had  already gone back in February for 10 days and my mom assured me there was noting I could do to help. It' just a test I kept telling myself.

Two days before the race we headed to the airport for what my wife tells me is a 7:20am flight. I remember discussing with her what time we wanted to arrive in New Orleans so we could test ride our bikes and drive the bike and run course. We arrived at the kiosk and "Can't check luggage 12 hours in advance" "WTF?"  She booked flights out in the evening not the morning.  We tried standby for two flights to no avail and went back home.  It's just a test!! We finally arrived in hotel room and to bed around 1 a.m.  We wake up the next morning, look outside, raining and driving winds which meant no checking out our bikes before the race. We headed to the athlete meeting and the swim is cancelled and replaced with a 2 mile run because the forecast calls for 20-40 mph winds. If I'm being honest here I'm telling you I seriously thought about bailing on the race. Injured, tired, mind on my parents, no swim (again) and a forecast of 20-40 mph winds!!  This isn't what I had in mind.  Then my son calls and says his girlfriend isn't feeling good, describes her symptoms and Kathy says you better get her to the ER ASAP. She ends up being admitted to the hospital.  We had the "it's just a test" conversation for the millionth time and head back to the hotel room where I took a bath to try and relax.  All along I'm asking myself what the downside is of not racing for me personally and how it would look as a coach who bails on a race. If an athlete were calling me right now what would I have told them to do? (I know it wasn't what I was thinking).

Later that day we decided we weren't sitting inside all day and went and explored New Orleans. The city was full of life. We saw some incredible street musicians and a few weddings parading through the streets with bands.  We eventually went out to dinner and had a long talk about our options for the next day.  The bottom line was that we would make a decision in the morning that was centered around safety and nothing else. If we woke up and it was gusting over 20 mph we wouldn't race. 

The following morning I slept through my alarm.  Kathy woke me up, told me she had already looked outside and almost went back to bed.  I looked outside and the trees were bending. I didn't say a word, I just started getting ready.  We both finished packing our gear and headed out the door. We went downstairs and outside and it was not only windy but freezing.  We got in the car and headed out to the race course.WE didn't talk a lot and didn't even play music in the car.

We arrived at the course, set up transition and put on every layer of clothing we had brought with us.  The flags were blowing pretty hard and it was cold but we waited until about 30 minutes before the race to make a final decision.We landed on we might as well race since we were here.  If at any time we deem the conditions to be too harsh we can stop racing.  There were a lot of empty slots in the transition area and a race official said a lot of people didn't even come back up their packets.

Given the new format the 50+ males started approximately 15 minutes behind the pro's and the one para athlete. We were paired in twos and I was about 8 pairs back. Every 5 seconds we would take off.  Just before the start, Sister Madonna Buder showed up sporting a Boston 2012 shirt ( I would later see her out on the run course).  My goal for the initial two mile run was to use this as my warm up and that is exactly what I did.  I was wearing a jacket and this run helped me realize I was over dressed.  I ran 8:19's and transitioned into the bike.

My goal on the bike was to be smart and exercise caution until I got a good feel for the weather and how my legs would respond.  The wind was still blowing hard and there were some significant white caps on the water to my right as I headed out of town.  I sat up for the first few miles as the wind was pushing me around pretty good and I wasn't comfortable in my aero position.  I could still see the white caps blowing in the water and with the wind howling I chose to spin at a higher cadence and in the small ring until my legs felt good.   I had about 10 people go by me and I noticed they were all in the big ring but I stuck to my game plan. I was in my aero bars now but stuck to the small ring.  Around mile 10, I switched into the big ring and found a cadence which I felt comfortable I could hold.  I raced naked (no computer no garmin)today because given my over thinking the past few weeks I didn't want to over analyze any race day performance.  I always tell my clients to not judge the performance while the performance was happening so I continued to focus on maintaining a higher cadence, keep a clear mind and pick off people who were a head at a steady pace. I started to pick off the people who had passed me earlier and by mile 15 I was by myself for with the exception of a few who I could barely see up ahead.   My pre race morning nutrition was a little off since I over slept and wasn't 100% sure I was racing so I made sure I stepped up my calorie intake early on in the ride. I had brought enough calories for a 3 hour bike ride and finessed it all although I rode a 2:26.  (21.3 MPH)My bike nutrition was spot on as I had great energy the whole ride. I finally saw the pro's going the other way when I was around mile 20. I maintained a steady cadence and was looking forward to the turn around so I could see other cyclists since I continued to ride mostly by myself. I caught a few more folks just before the turn a round.  On the way back in, I saw Kathy and knew she was having a strong ride since she wasn't that far back.  I was passed by a few in younger waves but no one in my age group. On a TT start you never know where you are position wise so I kept riding my race.  I continued to ride alone with an occasional youngster blowing by. 

I entered into transition and saw a few guys from our rack running out. There didn't seem to be many bikes in our rack so I thought I might be racing well. As soon as I started running my legs let me know they weren't happy. Not having done an endurance event since 2004 I had no idea what I was in for on this run.  Not to mention I hadn't run except one time since returning from Vegas.  I focused on form and breathing and tried to get into a good rhythm.   The first mile came fairly quickly and I remember thinking that wasn't so bad.  The wind was in our face and around the 1.5 mile mark my inner thigh cramped.  I stopped and stretched and it played with me for about a half a mile.  A few weeks ago one of the athletes I coached (Susie Wargin from 9 news)  who qualified for Boston had posted she was dedicating each mile of her race to certain people who played a role in her getting to Boston.  I decided to borrow this concept and started dedicating the mile to people who had played a role in my comeback). I worked on maintaining good form although I was told later I didn't look so good.  In the first 3 miles I passed 3 guys in my age group.  Since I was running about 8:45 miles I was starting to get passed by some really fast age group runners and some pros who were on lap number two.  I saw Kathy coming the other way and told her to catch me so we could run together. I saw one of the athletes I coach who told me she wasn't feeling it today and I yelled back to "then find a way to feel it and race to the finish". (she eventually had the fastest run split in her age group and took 4th.)  Around mile 5 I latched on to a small group of guys who went buy who were holding a decent pace and had great form. I just sat on their shoulder to the next aid station.  I walk through every aid station to get my nutrition and hydration so I lost the group.  Around Mile 7 Kathy came by and asked me if I wanted her to run with me.  She had just been passed by a women in her age group and I told her "no go, get her" (she never caught her and took 2nd by 2 minutes). Miles 7-12 were not fun but I kept thinking the same things. Running for the person I had dedicated the mile to and maintaining my form.  I was passed by 4 guys in my age group in the last 4 miles but I thought to myself, I passed 3 and got passed by 4 so I only dropped one spot from where I came in (this actually turned out to be accurate as I was 13 off the bike and finished 14th  out of 59 in my age group.

I saw Kathy heading up the last climb before she made the turn from home and I proceeded around the last circle to make my way to the finishers shoot.  As I came around the corner I heard the announcer calling Kathy in.  The last little climb was brutal on my legs but I saw a guy in my age group ahead and caught and passed him although I later learned he was just starting loop number two.  As I made the turn for the finish line I felt someone come up on my shoulder and knew I didn't have anything left for a sprint the last 1/4 mile. Thankfully it was a younger age group female and I was relieved I could just cruise on to the finish. 

I had dedicated the last mile to myself to signify all the hard work I've put it since getting into a car accident in 2004 and a cycling accident in 2008. There were so many people who played a role in getting me to where I am today but I knew that the person who made the biggest difference was me. The attitude I put forth in working through being inactive for a number of years and the desire to get back to racing. If I didn't want this bad enough it would have never happened. I wasn't pleased how I handled the last two weeks. I put myself and my wife through a lot of worry for nothing. The body sends a lot of mixed signals just prior to a race. Funny how none of my "injuries" affected me on race day.  Once again.. "It's Just a Test".

Kathy had waited for me at the finishers shoot and we embraced. She told me she was proud of me and that meant a lot.  My finishing time was 4:44.   I figured with the cancelled swim and a shortened bike that if the wind hadn't played a factor in the bike leg I would have been close to my goal time. I ended up running a 1:58 which was only 10 minutes slower than my stand along half marathon time from February. 

We waited around for Kathy to get her award and then went home for a much needed shower and nap.  That evening we experienced the finer cuisine of the French District and then on to Bourbon street to experience some beverages, sites and music.   In the end, everything turned out just fine and once again we passed the test.

Technically I still haven't completed my comeback because I haven't completed a triathlon.  I will do that with an Xterra race in June and Sprint/Olympic distance races in Steamboat in July and August.  I am contemplating a local race at the end of May but I want to see how I recover first and how my next adventure goes in early May. 

Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes before the event.  I apologize for thinking "I wish you would all just go away so I could race in complete anonymity".   (To my buddy Jeff who I actually told this to, I've already said I'm sorry but this time it is print. ) Next up is a 150 mile ride on the Mountain Bike from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah. No race, just a bike ride and hopefully no tests along the way!!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 6/7. almost there..

We started our 6th day of camp with a 3k swim at the multi generational pool in Henderson.  After the long day yesterday on the bike the swim was great active recovery.  After swim we had our final group breakfast then headed back out towards Lake Mead for our final ride together. 

The ride was rather uneventful on the way out but the pace picked up on the way home.  Several breakaways were chased down and the pace was upbeat considering we were nearing the end of the camp.  I can tell a number of people are nearing the end of their physical and mental capacity.  Early season big weeks of training like this provide a great base in which to build for the upcoming season.  Within the group we have people racing Galveston in 4 weeks, St. George in 6, Kansas 70.3, Eagleman and IMCDA.  I'm confident that everyone was stretched physically and mentally and learned a number of tips throughout the week.

Everyone went down to the Strip on Friday evening for dinner and saw a show. Several people left Saturday morning and a few of us went out for a 40 mile spin. The Leadman tri was going on and we went down to watch the end of the swim and the beginning of the bike.  With whitecaps in the lake and very heavy winds I was glad we didn't race today as I'm sure the racers are having a miserable day out there.  I know we were miserable riding the last 20 miles into a strong headwind.

Total miles for the week

9k swim
350 miles bike (plus I'll ride again tomorrow after everyone is gone)
16 run

This was my longest week of training since 2004.  After a succession of injuries including a broken back I couldn't be happier with the week.  I felt strong everyday with the exception of the last 20 miles today.  My body started to tell me "enough" today. My legs were tested this week and I'm happy to report they passed the test with flying colors.  I was proud of my clients Michelle, Kelley and Sydney who all rode very strong this week. Spending time with my clients teaches me how they respond to the pressures of a big training week.  I asked each of them to challenge themselves physically and mentally and from what I observed each of them accomplished that objective.

 With Galveston coming up in 4 weeks I'm happy with my level of fitness in the pool and on the bike.  I wish I had a few more long runs in me but I've done what I could.  tomorrow, Sydney and I will head home making a stop in St. George to preview the bike course.  I'm not looking forward to riding but it will give me 400 miles for the week and I always welcome the opportunity to do a little scouting of courses so I can provide the information to clients who will be racing their in the future.

For those of you interested we will do more camps in the future.   Please contact me at Pete@milehighmultisport.com for more information.