Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A year gone by.

This was written in January.. 

It has been nearly a year since I started the experiment with Triathlon. I guess technically I did a couple of sprints  in 2009, but I don't really count those since I didn't really even train for them. But I, will forever call 2010 my first "season".

In 2009, 9 miles running was a good "week". In my first triathlon I rode a borrowed bike and it was my 13th ride in 6 years. I swam twice, with no previous swimming background, before my first triathlon. I was 6th overall bike split and 6th in my age group. During the run, which was a third of my weekly volume, I think I saw Jesus not once but twice. It would have been more helpful had he shown up on the swim since he walks on water and all. It was also my first ride in the rain since I stopped riding my bike in 2003.

In 2010, I ran over 8 miles at one time, on purpose. I rode my bicycle in the rain, again, on purpose. I bought a time trial made out of carbon fiber. I woke up at 4:45 to go swim. Until that point I don't think I ever purposely gotten up that early. I certainly didn't do it 3 times a week. And definitely not to drive across town in the snow to jump in a pool.

In 2010, I also did my first ever half marathon, training or otherwise, in my first event, which was a Half Ironman distance race. It was 95 degrees, and 8 months later I still have a farmers tan from it. I saw dead people on this run. Jesus decided not to show up as it was far to hot.

The rest of the season was up and down. I was training myself and despite a lot of knowledge on the bike side, I really had no clue how to juggle three sports. After getting absolutely obliterated and humbled by a friend (thanks Chris), I decided I would get a coach. I also set a goal,  I decided that I would attempt to qualify for the ITU Long Distance World Championships to be held in the US, in 2011, for the first time in many years. 

Katie Malone from Malone Coaching is who I chose. I initially met Katie through our dog. Well more specifically we got our dog from Katie. She rescues Weimaraners, and there is a special place in the afterlife for her, since she is seldom, if ever, without five of them. One Weim is handful, I can't even imagine two, much less five.

Our dog is also the reason I started running, well more like jogging. I found it pretty fun to go running, what I then thought was fast, in the woods. That lead to thinking about a triathlon, and with a nudge or three from our friends Chris and Sarah, brings me back full circle.

Katie was critical to my success at the end of the season. She routinely pushed me to the breaking point, and when I would ask for mercy, she would give me a an off week which would include a 15 mile trail run, you know, just for fun. It was just enough to hold the fine line of form and fatigue. She did a great job with me, especially considering she didn't have any previous history with me. She later admitted that she wouldn't give this plan to just anyone. It was a high burnout plan of all quality hard workouts. Mentally and physically it was pretty brutal. In her defense, I gave her only nine weeks to get me in shape. So I definitely deserved the punishment.

With Katie I got results, pretty much straight away. Two PR's in 5k's, and an Age Group first and second in two races leading up to the Qualifier. I got these results without any rest going into them. They were in effect, training races. Hmm, I think this coaching thing definitely has its merits. 

The Qualifier was a half iron man distance event in Myrtle Beach and was a huge success for me. The event itself, being in its first year, was an unmitigated disaster. Heavy rains in the days before the race cancelled the swim due to e coli levels being to high in the water. Basically a case of to much poop in the soup. The bike course was pretty straight forward, flat and windy, and apparently, despite the rule book, draft legal. Having three different length events on the course at the same time did not help.

During the run I felt like a rat in a maze trying to find the cheese. We looped, and doubled back on ourselves several times. And to steal a quote from my friend Chris Giordanelli, if Columbus was required to successfully navigate this course without a map to find the America's, we would all still be living in Europe right now.

Despite all this, I met my goal. I finished ninth in my age group I qualified as one of twenty people to represent Team USA in 2011. I had a PR Half Marathon and the 3rd fastest overall bike split. In short, the end of the season, with help from Katie, was a huge success. 

I want to give special mention to Norm and Norm's maggots from Jus' Running here in Asheville. This speed work at the UNCA track was a critical building block to my season's end. One of my proudest moments is when Norm referred to me as a maggot. That is some pretty good company to keep!

The off season was a huge success too. A 10 year anniversary trip to Mexico with Jenn, my wife and biggest supporter was a great kick off to the "not training so much season".

I was really proud of one race in the off season. It wasn't my race, but I paced Jenn to a 5k PR and she took nearly minute off of her best time.  She worked especially hard, running 6 days a week when everyone else had pretty much had it with training. I was and am still over the moon that I could be a part of that.

Otherwise, birthday parties, music festivals, reunions and just down time with friends rank as highlights that outshine most all of my athletic accomplishments. My liver is probably happy that season is over for now.

Results for 2010

All 35-39 Age Group
Halfmax Long Course Nationals- 9th 3rd overall bike split (2:12:30 for 56 miles)
Lake Lure Sprint Tri- 1st
Cane Creek Sprint Tri- 2nd
Enka Lake Sprint Tri-3rd
Camp Thunderbird Sprint Tri-6th
White Lake II Half Ironman-7th
Lake Logan International Tri-9th
Hot August nights 5k- 2nd 10th Overall PR
Charlotte Hog Jog 5k- 2nd PR
Kingsport Turkey Trot -2nd Paced Jenn to a PR!