Monday, September 25, 2017

The ways a day can go. Sun Mountain 50K - 5/20/17

Side note: I thought I posted this months ago. 
My bad...

"Ok, have fun and be careful. I'm going to swing this down as hard as possible. " 

When I think of the ways a day can go. Man, I usually laugh a bit, cause really who the hell knows. This isn't a big story about persevering over great heights etc etc. I get migraines often enough, and Sun Mt 50k happened to be the next random day that one landed on. 

I had one earlier in the week, so was kind of waiting for a flair up, and was just hoping it would pass on a few days, but not so much.

Leading into the race I had an odd feeling that I just chalked it up to taper, fatigue, burnout. I wasn't looking at this as a race or that I'd even finish. The last 50k left such a bad taste in my mouth that I stopped everything for 8 months. Mostly, or directly because I didn't drop from that race and like an asshole kept going to "prove something". This time, I had this relief that if the IT band went or anything body related failed, I could drop and not damage myself for the rest of summer like last year. 

The morning was amazing. About 51 and blue skies. I didn't want to run close to the front or in a pack and feel forced. Also, I really wanted to run with Alley for the first two miles, just another weekend run with the two of us "banging out some shit" (BOSS). 

I mention to her the day before: tomorrow you have nothing else to do but run. No clients to talk to, meetings, or schedules to manage, or sitting at your desk with your ass falling asleep. Just one thing. Run. 

At two miles I carried on with my pace and we said we'd see each other in a few. 

I know I've mentioned before but I fuck'n love downhills. Steep technical downhills. Running with a group of 8 when we hit the first major down and sweet beard of Zeus it's a technical mt. bike trail with massive banked turns. So. Much. Fun. 

About mile 6 I felt the start of the headache start, small dark ache behind the eyes. By mile 10 it was about a 5 out of 10, by mile 15 it was at a 7 and my neck had stiffened up. Blah blah blah. Yeah that all sucked, I'll fast forward cause really I wouldn't want to read about having a headache during a race. 

.....we pick up our story already in progress....

I had this great plan: I'd walk to where I waited for Alley when she raced here two years ago. A cool little out crop about mile 20. Sit there, rest, wait for the headache to ease then run with her if I could to the 25.5 aide station and decide to drop or not. Clear plan. Great! Not 2 minutes after said plan I hear,"Hey! What're U do'n here!?!?" 

There goes my plan  : )

New plan: hang on to Alley until mile 25.5

"Do what you need to do and I'll try and stay with you." I heard myself say. If she was in front I could focus on that and push the headache off to the side. In training sometimes I lead, and other days she's the strong one and leads. You never know what the day can bring. We rolled into 25.5 AS and I decided to stay on. A handful of pickles, some ginger ale, and another salt tab. What the hell am I doing to my body??? At this point I figured nothing mechanical was aching, like an IT band or hamstring so I figured. What the hell. 

With the words of,"only 6 more miles.", hanging in the air from the volunteer Alley and I laughed at each other as we both remembered we heard the same thing at Volcanic 50k, which took another three hours to finish after that was said there. 

Funny thing happened on the way to the coliseum.

As we climbed Patterson Mt. the pain in my head started to quickly go away. The climbing was steady and there was a breeze with a bit of shade cover. Up and over the ladder, to prove we weren't cows one last time, and then the final push to the turn around at the top. Holy shit what a climb, but I finally saw a woman come back that was just ahead of us. Phew! 

Sun Mountain 50K

Viewing the valley from the top, legs rested, and head feeling good I laughed looking around. Amazing. Got to spend half the day running with Alley, see her power up the hills and kept that steady pace to keep us just in front of the cut offs.

From the top of Patterson I told Alley- "Ok, have fun and be careful. I'm going to swing this down as hard as possible." 

Legs were under me, views were amazing, descent was on, target rich environment.

So much fun. Slightly technical, but highly runnable. I focus on long steps, grabbing as much ground as possible with each step. Floating, little efforts with tight hard pushes to keep up speed. I stopped once to ask a woman if she needed help as I could see that her IT band had pulled. The obvious lower leg drag that has so many times affected my race days. Made my stomach turn just seeing her. Also, reminded me that it could happen at any time, so I hit the gas again and shot down the trail. ( A later look on Strava had me listed as the second fastest on the day : ) I'll take that! )

Finally hit the road and figured it was about a mile to the finish. Garmin read, 28.9 but I had hit it on some branches earlier and it turned off for a few so I knew I was close. Kept telling myself, "it'll be 31, plan on that, don't think it'll be shorter." So I pushed an easy pace to make sure the bottom didn't fall out. 

Sun Mountain 50K

It's funny, I had no stress about the day. I told myself, if I drop I drop. Enjoy the day. Look around. Soak it in. 

Yeah, the day didn't fall as I would of like, but in a lot of ways it seemed to turn out better. I got to run with my Girl and enjoy the area a bit longer. Spent time watching some amazing people work the effort of the day. Great, great reminder to myself that I've surrounded myself with some pretty amazing people. So yeah, not a bad day ; )

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You know I'm back like I never left...

Whistler 70.3

You know I'm back like I never left 
Another sprint, another step
Another day, another breath
Been chasing dreams, but I never slept
I got a new attitude and a lease on life
And some peace of mind
- Macklemore

Was it really three years ago since my last triathlon? Holy crap! 

After Sun Mountain 50K in May I wanted to take some much needed time off from schedule and training. Training and schedule. Walking the dogs was the only scheduled training for two weeks. 

Race morning: headphones in with the biggest grin on my face listening to “Glorious” from Macklemore over and over. No fear. No nerves. Just this feeling of Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!

Training wasn’t great for this race. I had some outstanding injuries from swimming that showed up like clockwork after 20 minutes in the pool or OWS every time. The ongoing saga with the bike and hip was a hassle not cleared up until just weeks before race day. 

Being injured going into training camp I was on the fence about my excitement level of doing the race and my level of endurance. Feeling severely under trained I just didn’t want to have a meltdown or extravagant shitshow happen. So slow and easy, and ignore that voice in my head of saying, “You should be up there, riding with them, pacing with them, blah blah blah..”. I wasn’t and I couldn’t. I was at peace with that and that really set the stage or mindset for the rest of training.

The major take away from training camp was that I was able to run off the bike with no hip pain. My bike fitter - Erik at Velolopez had me which out crankarms for shorter ones and put me in a more aggressive position. For the first time I felt like I could apply power into the bike rather than pushing it in front of the bike. More of a running feel, than a walking up stair steps that are just a bit too tall. The hip pain during and after the bike has really been the reason for staying off the bike the last 2-3 years. During camp I had no pain from either ride and at the time I just ignored it and figured it would come eventually. 

Side note - The run at training camp: fakus! 

At the swim start I had three things rolling through my head.
  • The swim is the swim. Get out in 40 minutes or your shoulder will fall apart.
  • There are fun places on the bike today, you just need to ride out to them.
  • Everything on the run.

Got into the swim line for the rolling start and found myself standing next to Tom Lee of all people. I love the randomness of it! 

Rolling start was great, found some feet and did no effort for the first 20 minutes. A bit more effort on the way back just to keep up with the waves from the wind and take advantage of the extra speed. Heading around the last buoy I swam wide right about 6 feet as to not get crowded with the 4 people I was swimming with, the left turn put us swimming parallel to the waves about 75 yards from shore. In that half second of making the turn I went from swimming with four people to about two dozen. 

The wave I had been lifted on had stood up a group just in front of me. “OH, SHIT!” flashed through me and as soon as I hit the water I started swimming full gas to get away from the group and get through this section as soon as possible. I slapped down hard on the water at least every other stroke, but tried to swim as fast and as close to the water as possible. Swam until I hit the shore passing lots of others walking from about 50 feet out. 

I burned a lot of matches in that last 5 minutes. My heart rate was so high and I didn’t want to bring that on the bike with me so I got ready to go then looking at my watch I made myself sit in the chairs for two solid minutes. Reminding myself that this day wasn’t about the swim or the bike. I wanted sub-2 on the run. 

Our run during training camp was one full loop of the course in about 90 degree heat on tired legs. I took it out steady then pushed the pace staying at 8:10 pace +- 5 seconds. That run put that feeling of ‘This is what I want, this is what I want to give.’ This is where my race starts and the mental fight I’ve been training and looking for. 

Goose racked up
Goose ready to roll!
Rolling out on the bike, man what a feeling! I remember three years ago getting on the bike and within 2 minutes the shoulder screaming at me and knowing it was going to be a long hurtful day. This year however, I saw Alley as I rolled out and everything was feeling great.

Fun was priority #1 on the bike, layup and enjoy, I figured I’d give up 10 minutes on the bike staying around 75% perceived effort until the turn around back into town. That’s where I felt the real fun and effort could start. I love climbing. Climbing on the bike is just about the most humbling thing ever. Swing up to a group, work through, look for the next group on the road, make a surge to cover the gap and work through that group. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

I have this thing I enjoy doing. I’ll admit it’s kind of an asshole move. But not really. I hate seeing people draft and I hate seeing people (guys) speed up just to not letting others (women) pass. Seriously, if your ego is that fragile that you can’t let someone (a woman) who’s in better shape than you pass?!?!? Whatevs….lame! 

So if I see this happen, like I did and I see the guy crack from trying to not let the woman pass I’ll speed up and yell ‘on your left’ going by at a much faster pace. I usually hear the swears, and grumbling, but not over my laughing. I on the other hand, love being passed on climbs, mostly because I love watching different styles and how different people settle into a climb. Anyways...

The last climb just past Green Lake I dropped a chain after grabbing and going through a group. I overreacted for about a minute, yelling at myself to slow down and don’t try and catch them again, then calmed down. It was super fun racing back through Whistler Village. I could hear Phil and Paul commentating: “He’s taking a bit of risk going around the course just knowing he’s going to get that little bit of respite in T2” I can’t remember ever being in a race and feeling that much control over effort on the bike. Legs. Felt. Amazing! 

Off the bike (Goose) I saw Alley and yelled over to her, “I remember ALL of this!” 
In 2014 I lost 25-30 minutes of memory  between T2 and mile 3 of the run.

In the morning I was listening to Glorious by Macklemore, as soon as I hit the run I had: “Hey! I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” playing over and over in my head from Beyonce. Just heard the song for the first time about three weeks ago. 

I told Alley I needed to ease into the run so our plan was that she’d be at the 5K mark at 30 minutes into my run. No sooner. If I missed her there I might not see her until the finish. So slow and easy, drink, eat, shake out the legs. 

5K - 29:45 high five and gotta go - BOOM! 

Now I had 10 miles to cover at 9 minute pace. Ran comfortable at about 8:35 pace, with the heat I stopped and walked through the aid station, seemed a needless risk to not worry about the heat. One rookie move, was that I forgot to put a hat in my run bag, so I ended up carrying a buff through the swim and bike just to have for the run : ) ….it’s been 3 years. 

The run was everything I wanted and waited for, I was passing people at a really fast rate and even slowed down 15 seconds per mile thinking I shouldn’t be passing people so easily. But I had fresh legs and my pace was 8:45 and I wanted this. At the turn around I saw Kirsten just behind me and got a huge lift, emotionally it was what I needed at that point. About five minutes later I felt the pangs of my IT Band start to pull, down the leg across the knee, makes me want to throw up. 

Even though I haven’t had IT problems for over a year I wore a waist belt that was just for holding a IT strap that I brought just in case. I stopped running, calmly put the strap on, jogged a bit, adjusted then took off running again. The strap dulls the pain by half and gives me some control of my leg. My thought was, FUCK YOU! “I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” Today is my day!

I knew I could count on my legs. At least 2-3x a week I would find that that was a mantra that rolled through my head: Let your legs get you out of trouble.

I finished with just over a minute to spare on getting my sub-2 on the run. My one and only real goal of the day. All trained up and on a flat course I can pull a 1:31 stand alone half marathon. I’m at peace with that not being this day.

From start to finish I never bought into the dark places that a mind can take you: You’re not trained enough, you’re not fast enough, you’re not an athlete. Why are you doing this? When the IT band pulled it wasn’t the usual fear of having to walk 4-5 miles and my race being over, it was this feeling of background noise. I never had the feeling like I was going to have to stop running. 

Over this training year my attitude on my endurance changed, for the better.  My levels and goals for myself are nowhere etched in stone. I bring the day I want and don’t lie to myself. If I’m not at a level where someone remembers me being at that’s on them. I’m pretty much at peace with it. I want more day with the feeling of “Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!”

Thanks to the TN family for support and being out there. Also to Alley, how in a day of spectathleting she put in 13.5 miles running around course supporting and checking in on race peeps. And to my brother who followed me around Green Lake in his kayak after I injured my arm so I’d have the confidence to get back out there swimming again. Such a great group of inspiring friends.