Sunday, June 20, 2010

Resilience or Something Else?

It has often been said that endurance athletes are cut from a different mold.  Come to think of it, if you ask any other athlete involved in any other sport, I am sure that they would tell you the same thing; they too, are cut from a different mold.

However, not being an athlete in any other sport, I have become a student of the endurance sports, specifically Triathlon.  One thing that seems to be a common denominator amongst all triathletes is that we thoroughly believe that what we do, day in, day out, has no rival.  Hence, we are cut from a different mold. This is in no way intended to disrespect any other athlete in any other sport.

Yesterday, I had a fifty mile bike ride, followed by a fifteen minute brick on my training schedule.  As I went to bed on Friday night, it was my intention to wake up early enough to be out on the road by 6am since the heat and humidity was to be intense early in the day.

Unbeknown to me, those plans changed as I slept for when the alarm went off at 5:15am, I could hardly move.  My bulging disk (L3-L4) and my herniated disk (L4-L5) decided that it was time to remind me who was in charge... or so they thought.

It was a struggle to get out of bed and move around, I must admit.  For anyone who suffers from this kind of issues, it is a common occurrence.  Some days are good, others are bad, others like yesterday are really bad.  With each step I took I saw my chances of riding/running today diminishing fast.

I have been here before.  I know what to do.  Stretching is the key.  By doing this, I can help push the discs back in place reducing or totally eliminating the pain.  Most of the time this works. Most of the time the pain is not so intense however.  What this means today is that the discs bulged out more than normal.  But stretching I did.

Slowly but surely I started feeling relief.  As time passed I began to notice that the pain had become manageable, so I began to make plans to go ahead and get on my bike.  And so I did.

Around 10am I felt like I had to give this a try.  I wouldn't venture to far from the house just in case I got in trouble while on the road.  And so I went.

The ride started with no consequence and as the miles added up, I was feeling great.  I made it to a park near my house that has a mile loop.  I practiced my aero position, practiced my pedal stroke working on a smooth rotary movement as opposed to a piston like motion.  I also worked on gear management to help increase cadence.  This I did for about fifteen miles.  And then a very familiar sharp pain shot all the way from my lower back all the way down my left side.  I remember thinking, "now I've done it."

So I headed back home.

When I finished the ride, I had completed 2 hours with some 26 miles of pedaling.  There was no sign of pain so I thought I would give the brick a try.  Fifteen minutes was on the plan, so fifteen minutes I did.

I felt good, physically.  Mentally I felt great.  I had overcome an obstacle that could have been devastating for my training plan.  The rest of the day my back was tight.  Last night I had a good night, woke up this morning sore and in slight pain but no where near what it was yesterday.  Today I think I will take it easy.

So, was this an exercise in resilience or something else?  Only time will tell.  But, if history is a teacher, I know that all will be good and I shall go on.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Steelhead 70.3 = T-Minus 50 Days...

 Training for the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan on July 31st. has been on track and coming along as planned.
As of this writing, there's just 47 days until d-day.
When discussing what my goals are for this event with my tri coach, I expressed to him my wish to better last year's Augusta 70.3 total time. He looked things over and his estimate is to work on the run time by better managing the bike leg.
So that we are doing.
Yesterday's bike ride, a total of 53.6 mile ride, in the sweltering heat, was a measure of where I am today and where I need to go in the next 47 days.
The ride started off pretty much like any other ride.  I had my route planned (in my head) and I estimated it would be around 40-42 miles. I had always been pretty accurate on this.
Through the majority of the ride, my concentration was to practice my aero position, allowing my legs to use the correct muscles.  This I thought I did pretty good because, as my spin instructor always says: "make sure you feel your quads burn"!  and that they did.
I was pretty happy as well that my speed was higher and the ride was more constant than it had been.  Around mile 40 I noticed that my average speed was 17.5mph, this is about 1.5mph faster than my normal speed.  Sweet!
My concentration was such that at this same point I ran across three friends that were riding, I recognized one of them, didn't recognized the other two... sorry guys!
I made a quick stop to get a cold sports drink.  The weather had become a factor.  Filled my bottle with ice and some of the drink and left for the last leg of the ride.
And then my quad began to cramp.  I adjusted my pedaling some and this seemed to help some.  I noticed as well that the muscles inside both my upper legs were cramping as well... this had never happened!
I finished the ride, stretched my muscles and the cramping was history.  I am going under the assumption that I was short on electrolyte replacements.  Will adjust for next week's ride.
This week's plan calls for more of the same, but still kicking in it up a bit.  We shall kick!