Friday, October 12, 2012

One Mile at a Time: Learning to Run Again

I took my first steps this morning, really.  I haven't run in 2 months, and today I ran one mile.  That was it.  My coaches instructions were one mile and only one mile.  As I walked out to my front gate, I realized that my walking was a little awkward.  The plantar fasciitis has definitely been messing with how I walk.  So, I decided to focus.  Focus on each step.  Focus on my form.  Focus on trying to have each leg move like the other.

Today was exciting in many ways.  One year ago this weekend, I watched the Ironman World Championships on my computer.  I had been avoiding a decision on doing another Ironman for a couple of months at the time, but watching the pros and age groupers ignited the already hot embers inside of me.  It's been five months since Ironman St. George, I've had major life changes and my training had literally disappeared.  On top of that, the foot pain was just getting to me.  I've been working on it diligently, and making progress.  On Tuesday, I spoke with my coach and initiated my 11 month plan towards Ironman Lake Tahoe.  My goal is to achieve the best result that I possible can.  I don't know what that result will be, but I know that I will not leave anything on the table.  Training will be my first priority (after my wife and family, of course).  Saying it and writing it feels so right.  My bike rides the past two days have solidified the feeling that this is healthy for my mind and body.  Years of excessive stress and pressure have taken their toll.  I tend to be a driven person, so channeling that drive to something healthy makes the most sense to me.  I'm also goal driven, although I am not defined by whether I achieve those goals.  Giving them my best shot is enough, I've learned that in my life.

I slept very soundly last night and woke up ready to go.  I swam for 35 minutes, then spent about 5-10 minutes in the hot tub, stretching.  Then, it was time to run.  Left, right, left right.  I noticed that I didn't want to land on my heal, but I just naturally let my stride fall on my mid foot (as best I can tell) of both feet.  The left leg felt different than the right, focus on trying to keep them feeling the same.  Breathing was very easy, stride was comfortable.  No pain, no twinges, no concerns.  Looked at my Garmin, I'm keeping a pace of about 10:20, but I know that I'm running slightly uphill.  I get to 0.5 miles, my coach said "one mile", no more.  It's tempting, but I must and will be cautious.  I turn around and as I head back, just getting lost in the surrounding trees and morning air.  Looking down at my Garmin, I see my pace coming down to 10:00 (now going slightly downhill).  I know that pace doesn't matter, but it's still nice to know that I'm running super easy and my pace is right around 10:00 per mile.  That's ok, for now.

I notice my left heal occasionally, though not any real pain or discomfort.  One mile will be enough today.  I get home, immediately sit down and massage my left foot and heal.  No pain, that's a good sign.  I stretch as well, something it's finally time for me to start doing.  I'll get in the hot tub again, why not?  It's there.

I told my coach earlier this week that it was my intention to train like a professional athlete.  That doesn't just stop at the training log.  It involves my nutrition, my recovery, how I take care of my body, and my mind.  This is a journey that I am looking forward to, one day, one mile, at a time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What a Difference a Week Makes

One week ago I started training again.  I was pretty pitiful, but I just kept at it the whole week.  Today, I did the same ride as last Tuesday, albeit in much lower temperatures (probably around 65-70 degrees).    I kept my heart rate down in zone 2 most of the way and found myself going faster than last week.  I did my 2 mile hill climb, averaging a heart rate of about 140, with an occasional spike on the steeper parts and did the ride in 12:30, one minute faster than a week ago with a lower heart rate today.  It's nice to see that kind of quick response.  I've still got 3 minutes to take off for an all out effort, which would put me where I was earlier in the summer.  I'm already getting a goal in mind for this 2 mile hill. I'm thinking somewhere in the low 8 minute range.  Why not, I always set the bar higher than I can achieve.  In life and in sports.

Will get in a swim later today and hopefully talk to my coach in the next couple of days.  Kona is this coming weekend, which means it was a year ago that I decided to do Ironman St. George again.  Hard to believe that a whole year has gone by, and that instead of an ironman in 6 months, I've got 13 months to train!  I'm getting quite excited!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Love Hills

Woke up today and got on my bike.  Was going to ride the same route that I'd taken all week, but at the last minute decided to do some hill repeats.  I guess that I'm a glutton for punishment, and hills have been my nemesis for a long time, so why not start working on it?  I wasn't going to push these, as my body is clearly not ready to do so, plus, I will continue with the theory of building up as much as possible with the lowest possible exertion.  The idea is that if you can do something easy, the harder part gets easier too.  However, the hill I use for this workout doesn't make anything easy.  It's a half mile climb, with an average grade of 11%, with pitches probably as high as 15%.

I warmed up for 20 minutes and got to the base of the climb.  I really tried to ride "easy" at the beginning, which meaning a pace of less than 5mph and a cadence of somewhere between 30 and 50 rpm's, all in my lowest gear (compact cranks, so 34-28, for those of you who understand that).  I've done this hill in the past in about 4:25 going essentially all out.  Today, for the first half of the first climb, I worked "hard" to go "easy" enough to keep my heart rate from spiking.  In fact, I was able to hold my heart rate right around 150 for the first half of the climb.  I did the beginning of this seated, but after hitting the half way point did stand up for a short period of time and my heart rate immediately bumped up to 160, where it stayed for the remainder of the climb.  There is a slight reprieve about two thirds of the way up, and then it gets steep again.  My breathing was reasonable, albeit pretty quick, as I reached the top.  I took it really easy on the downhill and 9 minutes later was ready to start my second attempt.  Oh yes, I did this the first time in 5:37, not too bad.  The second time, I really "worked hard" at going "easy" and ended up keeping my heart rate down a bit, did go up to about 152 about half way up, but kept it below 160 this time, and closer to 156-158 as I reached the top.  That was enough, as I took it easy on the downhill.

After about a 5 minute rest, I went all out for 2 minutes on a slight downhill with some easy rollers and maintained a pace of 27 mph.  Not sure what my heart rate did, wasn't paying attention.  Rode easy home and then went to visit my daughter in Claremont for the afternoon.  I got home later in the afternoon and got in a 30-35 minute swim, finishing with about 4 x 50 yards of all out butterfly, one of my favorite new workouts.

I've got a long way to go, but at least it feels like I'm doing some real workouts.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Body is Waking Up!

My coach let me know that my crazy heart rate response is the normal bodily response to getting back to exercise.  I took Thursday off for life.  Plus, I was feel a little sore from three days of cycling.  Friday, however, I got back on the bike and did the same ride.  Fortunately, the temperature was in the 70's and my HR stayed below 150 the whole time.  I did the same 2 mile uphill ride going very comfortably in a little less time (13 minutes), while keeping my HR close to 140-145 the whole time.  I'm really trying to stick with "easy" workouts, but right now, everything is a little hard if there is a hill involved.  That said, this was nice.  Overall, I took a few minutes off the time of the ride the previous day, and it was easier.  I did get in a couple of short swims as well.

Today was for fun.  My dad came over and we played basketball, badmitton, and pickleball.  We were at it for almost 2 hours.  I have to say, I don't know how he did it, because it was a solid work out for me.  My foot is holding up, although it does still hurt, I'm taking the attitude that I have to just start using it and see what happens.  I'm considering a little barefoot running on my front lawn.  I can actually manage about 15-20 yards straight at a time.

Other than that, I just chilled today.  Haven't really had a lazy day like this in a while.  Still glad to know that my body is waking up!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One Step at a Time

Today is Wednesday, October 3rd.  On monday, I started training again.  I was planning to ride my bike on monday, but some other plans came up and I was going to bag it when my wife insisted that I get out for a ride.  The moment I hit the road, I knew that I was ok.  I'd been worried a bit about my motivation, but that concern instantly disappeared.  I went out on a route that I've been excited about since I moved here, but I hadn't taken.  It's essentially a 12 mile out and back that takes me to into the Malibu Hills.  On Monday, I tried to ride as easy as I could, but a 500 foot elevation gain over 6 miles, coupled with 90+ degree temperatures assured that my heart rate would spike no matter how easy I tried to ride.  I was pretty short of breath and my heart was beating rapidly when I hit the turnaround point.  The ride home was enjoyable and I knew that I was back into my training.  A 15 minute easy swim rounded out my workout schedule for the day.

Tuesday, I did the same ride.  I left later, so the temperatures were already in the mid 90's.  I wore my heart rate monitor and at the top of the climb it hit about 170 bpm.  My lactate threshold on the bike when I'm in shape is about 156.  I have no idea what this HR meant, but I was breathing pretty hard as I got to the top of the climb.  Another 15 minute easy swim completed my workout.

Today, I felt a little better, my HR wasn't as high, and I got to the top of the climb feeling good.  I rode 2 miles downhill and then came back up a 2 mile climb that I did back in July going hard in 9:30.  Today, going "easy", it took me 13 minutes.  I've got a ways to go!  My ride today was almost 16 miles, and took me about an hour and 5 minutes.  My HR was around 150 for most of the ride.  It wasn't as hot today, but still was on the warm side.

Since my heel continues to be a bit of a problem, I will continue to focus on the bike and the swim for my training.  Ironman Lake Tahoe is just under a year away, and I need to be ready.  I want to be ready!  One step at at time.