Sunday, June 7, 2009

Perserverance

It's been two months since I last blogged. I don't know exactly what's kept me from writing. Work has been very busy. My family is producing a new television series. I've been training like crazy. I guess they are all good excuses, but my dad would disagree. Just write something every day, he will tell me.

I'm doing the Eagleman 70.3 next weekend. My training has been going incredibly well. I'm swimming better than ever, my power on the bike seems to be improving and my run speed has been good. I usually make a prediction before a race, and I generally predict the best I can do and I generally never match my prediction. The good part is that I'm always pushing myself and often will still achieve a personal best in my races. That said, no predictions this race (except for the one I'm keeping to myself).

The last few weeks has actually been a bit of a challenge. As my swimming volume has increased, I finally pushed my shoulders to their limit and have been suffering some pain in both of my shoulders. Whether it's a strain or tendonitis or both, it has definitely been painful. I've backed off the volume and intensity for the last week and have been improving by the day.

I've been itching to race and decided to do a sprint tri on friday night. My instructions from my coach were to swim and bike hard and then try to maintain my Eagleman run pace of 7:20-7:30 (perhaps a bit optimistic, I'd be happy between 7:30-7:40 in the heat/humidity). So, I worked all day and went straight from work to the race, got in a decent bike, run and swim warmup (shoulders felt ok) and then got ready to "race". The swim was a beach start, so I toe'd the line right at the front and ran into the water with everyone else. Remarkably, I didn't get hit by anyone despite the tumult of this type of start and going out in front. I worked hard to get on someones feet and draft early on and had some mixed results for the first half of the half mile swim. Then, I finally got on Jeff Sankoff's feet the rest of the way. Of note, he swam Boulder Peak 2 minutes faster than me last year (1,500 meter swim), so this was really a good person to be drafting off of. I apologized after the race for my intermittent tapping on his feet, but he actually thanked me, saying that every time I did, it reminded him to swim harder! I came out of the water feeling fine, breathing was ok and headed up the hill towards transition. I ran pretty hard, stopping briefly to take off my wetsuit on the grass and then making my usual fast transition (32 seconds in T1). I started the bike and went out solidly, immediately noting my heartrate to be close to 170. I'm pretty sure that this was an aberration from heat, humidity, end of the day, etc. as I didn't feel like my HR was well over my bike Anaerobic Threshold (which is usually about 156). Jeff Sankoff passed me going up the hill leaving the transition area and we then played cat and mouse for the next 10 miles. My heartrate stayed between 166 and 170, but my legs felt fine and my power output was consistent. In fact, my average power for the first 2/3 of the race was about 170-180; The last third I pushed harder and averaged over 190 watts. This is unusual for me to "negative split" my bike effort. I actually left Jeff behind me on the last gradual downhill with this push. On the other hand, I started to feel the inevitable feeling of a side stitch coming on, but ignored it. I was going to bike hard today! I got off the bike, had another fast transition (33 seconds) and started the run. I immediately felt one of the worst side stitches I've every had! It took all of my energy to keep moving. That said, I kept whatever running pace I could manage and kept trying to stretch and breath my stitch away. It was tough. I could hardly breath, and anyone passing me, which Jeff did soon after the transition, could hear me making horrible noises with each breath. I stopped for a few seconds of walking every couple of minutes, but kept trying to run. I began to realize that the intensity of the stitch was going down and began having confidence that if I perservered, I could get through the stitch and pick up my pace. Somewhere after the first mile, which I probably ran in about 9+ minutes, the stitch went away and I got into a comfortable pace of around 7:30-7:40/mile. I didn't try to push any harder than this (following my coaches instructions), I wasn't racing at this point, I didn't want to mess myself up for next weekend. I finished the race feeling pretty good, not the usual "sprint to the finish" nausea and ended up winning my age group by over six minutes. Now, you need to realize, I'm now in the 50-54 year old age group and there really wasn't anyone in my age group in this race who was going to challenge me. That said, upon looking at the results, I was only 4-5 minutes behind some really good people. Jeff Sankoff, a physician who writes a monthly column in Triathlete Magazine, and my "pacer" on the swim and bike, finished two minutes ahead of me. I'm pretty sure I kept pace with him after the first mile of the run. In retrospect, if I'd taken my foot off the gas at the end of the bike, I might not have ended up with the side stitch and might have actually kept pace with Jeff on the run. But, then I wouldn't have had this story and the experience that will help me in the future!

This race had many positives for my race next weekend. It should give me a bit of a boost with the intensity I put out on the swim and bike. But the biggest boost is the confidence it will give me the next time I have a side stitch! That said, it is my goal to avoid dipping too deep so that I get the stitch to begin with, but I don't have to be ultra conservative in trying to avoid it.

1 comment:

wassben said...

I find it incredible that anyone can continue with a pain until it goes away. How does that work?