Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3hr ride sans legs

Backtrack to yesterday, I was feeling really good and headed early to do my 90min run. It's already cold enough in the mornings to wear longsleeve & tights, which after warm up is the perfect temp for a solid pace run. I ran strong almost the entire hour and a half- toward the end I could feel some fatigue overall, not like dead legs or anything, it's just the run as a whole felt like a 2hr run- especially after. I came home to eat and take a short nap then headed to the gym for some upper body work with the elastic cords (I love those on them religiously since I broke my collarbone) and abs. Then back home to veg out some more before ending the day with an ez 30min spin.

Clearly my 90min run needed a lot more recovery than 24hrs as today's bike ride felt more like a Universal Studios ride - akin to "King Kong" or "Earthquake" - this one could've been called "Mad Coastal Wind". Colleen and I started at 12:30, so my morning started with a swim, feeling the best I have in the water since IM, then some breakfast. The ocean looked chaotic in the morning, and by noon the wind was vicious. 15min into the ride, I knew my legs were not going to oblige. They wanted to be indoors and static. We pedaled 2hrs into the headwind along the coast and into the Base. I had the torn up end-of-Ironman leg feeling where all I could and wanted to do was ez gear and spin- hard to do against mother nature, but I tried. I told Colleen to go ahead in the Base, and finally when we turned around, the tailwind helped a bit to keep us together and we rode back in 1hr haha. This time though, we were greeted with crosswinds, like in Kona but with lots of sand. Fun! Now my throat feels swollen, and I feel like I have sand everywhere, despite a trip to the hot tub and a long shower.

So the planned 4hr ride ended up being 3hrs thanks to the wind, and it's a blessing because another hour would've killed me. Tomorrow's only a 30min run and ez hr spin which I'll do in the evening so it'll almost be like a day off.

This delayed fatigue thing is freaky, either that or I got too excited the last couple of days feeling strong on the short stuff and went a little too hard. I have no room to be stupid with this short gap between the two IMs so I'm erring on the conservative side from now own.

Monday, October 26, 2009

3 Things I wish I knew in January

1. Day 1 of a bike purchase or any significant change in bike set up- seek the BEST fit- not just bike shops with certified Joe’s- people that actually know biomechanics….my top two: Eileen Olson and John Cobb. I visited Eileen late last week and her Ph.D in biomechanics makes a world of difference. Cobb I was lucky to meet early in 2007, when he visited a local Dallas shop and he fit me on my P3. I should have never changed the way he set me up (I did so late in 2008) but my body changed over the first 2yrs racing and I upgraded some equipment.

2. Never ride a frame too small for sake of not spending uber dollars- little component changes add up in cost & only mask what’s bad- better to invest up front than pay more in the end (in physical and monetary damage). Even if you’re fitted to it, if it takes ridiculous effort to make it feel sort of OK, it’s not OK.

3. Unless doing an acceleration test, 700s trump 650s in comfort and effort to keep rolling at pace

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dust yourself off and try again...

So I'm headed to IMAZ in 4 wks. I learned this year that you cannot train for an Ironman a whole year (go figure), and if you put yourself in that mindset you risk injury, deep fatigue, and more importantly the magnitude/importance of your goal is dispersed and consequently minimized through time. All year this particular Kona race was soo huge for me that in some ways I think when the day came it suddenly felt, I don't want to say insignificant, but just rather plain. That may not have any correlation with how the day played out, but it's definitely food for thought.

I do know that I worked very hard to get to that race as fit as possible and would like to think through the taper, and recovery from the race I've still held on to quite a bit of fitness. That, coupled with the mental fortitude that I gained by finishing what for me was an emotional battlefield of a marathon, I feel can be of great use in Arizona.

Having raced and qualified there last November, I'm in good spirits with that race, and love the spectator friendly course. As well, I have plenty of friends racing.

Defeats often precede victories, and the fire inside me is lit more than ever to finish the year with a race that reflects my hard work and potential. Plus, if I manage to get my slot there again, I will undoubtedly take a looong off season, enjoy some other sports, and use the first half of the year to just race frequently for fun but dedicate the bulk of my time to the work side of things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A New Approach

If a psychologist were to evaluate my behavior and comments the night after IM and part of the next day compared to all the moments after that, he would diagnose me as bipolar.
I went from "This is retarted, I hate Ironman, what a waste of 9mths of my life, I am pathetic" to "How soon can I be on another start line and prove to myself what I know I'm capable of? I'm not going anywhere without ticking off plenty of IM wins, getting that Pro card, and being a contender at the Elite level".
Part of this shift in consciousness came from the fabulous email reply from my attorney saying 2nd is fenomenal, there's a high possibility in getting my P1 visa. Given that with that visa granted I cannot work here, just live and train, I sat down and had a chat with my mom. I explained that as great as it sounds to live a whole yr doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and training, after a couple of months it really did start getting old. I'm bored easily and I don't do well with spare time. Hence my desire to take as many hours as possible each semester in college. As well, I feel pathetic that at 21 I can't even buy my mom dinner with my own money.
So, I offered to help my mom in all of her marketing and whatever else she needs for her real estate business, as well as help my stepdad for as many hours as he wants in his company.
With that scenario, I would have to move back to San Antonio. It does break my heart considering how hard I fought to move to Encinitas and how absolutely perfect the training is there. But I'm actually very much a homebody and really miss my family. Plus, San Antonio is not as bad as Dallas in the winter and the summer is spectacular for Kona training.
So that's where I'm at right now- getting everything finalized to take my P1 petition to court and see what the judge decides. If I get to stay, you can bet on me getting my slot once again for the World Champs and toeing the line in Kona with a whole new perspective on training and racing- a smarter, tougher, and more rounded athlete ready to get it done.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hitting the Wall

The 2009 Hawaii Ironman is now a thing of the past. It's been a long journey and one that I will never forget. I've grown as a person and athlete this year in more ways than I could've imagined and it will transfer in positive ways to whatever path I follow in life from now on.

People have always spoken of the "deamons" faced during IM. Honestly, I had never gone through those before. I had experienced debilitating pain, some lows, but never tremendous mental hurdles until today. Ironman is truly a humbling experience. It is a race that does not give a damn how hard you've worked, how much you want it, or how much you have placed on this one day. It will strike you when you least expect it- and it is not a dazzling experience.

The day-
I was a little concerned when I lined up at the pier race morning and thought "this is it? This is what I've worked so hard for? Why can't I get that same beginner's excitment, anticipation, and motivation? Why when my immigration status, career expectation in sport, and payback to my family, sponsors, and friends for their unrelenting care and support, is banked on this can I not muster a bit more fire inside me?"
Things started to get a bit better in the "it's go time, get it done" department once the fun went off. My swim was solid, I was happy to exit in relatively good standing. I did discover, however, that as you improve your swim, you're exposed to a more agressive group of swimmers- namely those that seem to try and prove their cage fighting skills every time we near a bouey. Thankfully I got out injury free.

Onto the bike, the plan was to race according to power so as to have my best possible run. I was hesistant to follow this strategy for weeks leading into the race, but decided that my coach who's been in this sport much longer than I have even knwon about triathlon, knows best. Every other Ironman, and race in fact, I've biked according to perceived exertion. In some ways, I believe this method works best for some people, myself included. I'll never know and woulda shoulda couldas are just that, predictions of what will never be possible of proving. I lost the AG win by 90 sec, could that have been made up in the initial 5-10 miles of the bike where I went at below training pace watts (which I otherwise never would have done)? That will haunt me forever.
Anyway, my legs felt a little flat up until the 2hr mark it's usual for me to not get into the groove of things until 3ish hrs into the race, I get stronger with time so that was all going as usual. I found my bike legs and continued at a steady pace wanting to push harder, but being "smart" for the sake of the run. I got to Hawi turnaround at 3 and change. I figured since the way back would be around 2:30-2:45 which would put me right where I expected to bike. It was hot, which I was loving, and there were zero crosswinds. People always love to say there were lots of crosswinds at Hawi to make the race sound even more brutal- there wasn't- it was an uneventful Hawi day. BUT....once at the right turn onto the Queen K, helloooo headwind. Suddenly I realized it was going to be a long ass bike. What I didn't expect was to be the only one who basically can't handle a headwind. I figured the other girls would have a slow bike. Uhhm, nope just me :) and a pathetic one at that. 20min slower than my bike here 2 yrs ago with much better fitness, and almost 40min slower than in AZ.

Into transition I was petrified when I stepped off the bike and my knee was killing me. I thought that was it, I'd probably make it 3 miles of the run, if that, and have to stop. As soon as I got my Newtons on and hit the pavement though, the knee pain was non existent- the only blessing of the day. Once again, I repeated my classic rookie mistake of leaving my salt tablets in T2. So when I reached for my salt tabs 2miles into the run- I discovered I was going to have to run the marathon without salt.

That added large insult to injury for this was a run I did not want to be running. It sounds horrible and I felt like I was taking this race for granted given the thousands who try to qualify for this event every year and have the honor of racing on such historic grounds, but all I wanted to do was stop, not walk to the finish, but pull into a corner and hide from the world and myself forever. My legs felt ready to run and my mind was in a complete breakdown.

Making things worse, was the seeing girls I had no intention of ever being behind far far ahead on the out and back on Alii. I had so much ground to make up and on top of that my usual spark of competition was completely missing. I kept thinking "great, just waiting for the goose bumps and the cramps to start, please somebody drop some salt tabs on the ground. Oh there's a corner I could pull into and just fade away from the race, but then I'd have to report my quiting decision to the race officials. My parents and step dad gave so much for me, I can't stop now, this is no longer for me just keep running for them. I owe them the finish. Just move forward and shut up!"

At the base of Palani I was on pace for roughly a 3:20, from then on I started to get very cold, goosebumps all over. My pace slowed into the 8s. At the energy lab I saw my coach and brother, that helped keep me from humbling myself to a walk. I stopped to pee at the turnaround in the energy lab and found a salt tab on the ground upon exiting. I swallowed it with some spit and don't remember much more of that stretch. At mile 23 my coach let me know that 1st place was only over a minute ahead and walking aid stations. Well so was I but I know I was running much faster. At mile 25 she was right in my sight but the final rush of adrenaline sped her up like it does everyone, and I ran out of real estate.

So that's that. 2nd place, light years slower and tens of places down the list than what I had fully expected, . Now I'm left with my haunting thoughts and only my coach, sometimes my mom, and myself knowing what I was capable of. It kind of sucks, but I threw this onto myself and am now paying for it.

Wednesday I head back home, trying to find a job before the Holidays roll around and companies stop hiring until the beginning of 2010. Given the economy it will be hard to find a company willing to hire an entry level person without a masters who they need to sponsor a visa for. Most will intelligently pick the American who can go on payroll at no extra legal cost. It's that or back to my country, where I haven't lived since I was 3, and where I cannot train without risking getting mugged for something as simple as my wheel skewers. I doubt a judge would grant me an athlete's P1 visa, and if he/she were to be so open minded, my family doesn't deserve nor are they financially equipped to keep funding what seems to be a fruitless journey in sport.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So Close!

A little less than 3 days to go till race day and I am boiling with excitement. This week has been very mellow- less than an hr of each s/b/r just to keep the engine firing. The bulk of the days I spend indoors- yesterday I got to enjoy endless episodes of Bones :)
Today I'm all done and will just drop off my bike at Bike Works for a simple race day tune up and then hit the expo for a little bit, catch up with sponsors, and then back to being a couch potato.
So that's it, nothing exciting until Saturday, so my next post will be Saturday night when I'm wired from all the caffeine consumption and hopefully enjoying a winners high (knock on wood hehe).
Best of luck to everyone else racing!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shout out from the Big Island!

Travel was uneventful- thank God! I managed to escape a bike fee thanks to a made up story but they did get me on my overweight luggage- oh well. I sat next to a nice Cuban couple on the long flight from LAX to Kona and chatted with them for the first hour before falling into deep (yet uncomfortable) sleep for the remainder of the flight. At least that made time go by quick.
Aunt Cassie was there to pick me up and accompanied me, as I was starving, to Lava Java where we ran into Mitch Thrower and I quickly gobbled down some eggs and potatoes. It helped to refuel as my condo happened to be on the third floor so Cassie and I had to drag the bike box and heavy bag up 3 flights of stairs- actually 6 flights cuz each level had two sets.
Anyway, I was a bit wired from napping, eating, and the mini workout of getting the stuff up to the condo so I unpacked and built my bike up. By 11:30pm (2:30 Cali time) I was asleep and then woke up ironically refreshed at 4am. That was awesome because I like getting into the 4am wake up routine as promptly as possible so that come race day it's no biggie. I had some breakfast and then rode down to Kona pool for my last "big" swim of 10x400s. The water there's a little warm, but I felt super. After that I planned to do my 90min ride but had no C02s so while Bike Works openned I made my way to Lava Java for breakfast #2. Then it was food coma time- a 90min nap and finally I headed to Bike Works to get my flat kit good to go. It was a bit on the windy side coming back to town, nothing scary but definitely not calm. Since we still don't have groceries because I can't rent a car until my mom gets here, I stopped by Island Naturals for lunch and am now back at the condo waiting for my mom and brother to come knocking any minute!!!! I hope we rent a scooter, that would be uber fun :D we'll see.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

'Tis Time

Well, it's here- October! I just wanted to say thanks again to a couple people for making this whole season possible for me.
First and foremost, my family. It will be memorable beyond words enjoying such a special Ironman with my mom and brother. 2007 meant a lot to me as it was my first IM, but this year is a whole different kind of "special".
Secondly, my coach Kevin Purcell. I cannot imagine what I would have done without you. Likely I'd be injured, overtrained, or just plain lost! It's been miles of trials and trials of miles and I could always count on you to have my best interest at heart and help me get to Kona in peak form.
Third, thanks Kristin. Who knew that a random hello at the gym two years ago would lead to you having my back like family. Oh, and I'll make more than 5yrs (was that the number?) out of this- starting with day 1: Oct 10th.
Last but not least, my incredible sponsors: Newton, CEEPO, Hank & Mary Ann at Edge Cyclesports, Blue Seventy, Gu, and Nuun. I'll toe that line equipped with the best!
Cheers, I have a plane to catch :D