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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Good God's a Woman and She Don't Like Ugly

A lot of time and effort is spent when you decide to get into a sport like Triathlon, least of all Ironman levels, so when things don't turn out the way you envisioned, it's hard not to have a let down of sorts. 2012 was my second season, and my first that was sandwiched by Half Ironman races in Florida (May 2012) and Augusta (September 2012). I had spent my first season (2011) doing sprints from April through September, so the natural next step was to get St. Anthony's under my belt in 2012 (the 2011 race was derailed by food poisoning the night before) and then, depending on how that went, tackling the Florida HIM.

Sounds like a solid plan ... 

Season 1 went as you would expect the first season of anything to go. I had a lot of ups and downs. I learned lessons during each race lead up. I honed in my hydration, my nutrition, my pacing. I worked on my swimming (using a snorkel all of 2011) and I got better with each race. Was I winning? No. Not even close. But my times improved with each race. Even my running, which started out in the 20:00 zone, was down to 12:30. When the season was over and I started just running in the Fall and the Winter I felt pretty confident that my second season would follow suit. Still learning, but still improving.

Oh JC ... you really should know better eh?

We all have bad races ... but a bad year??

I started with a lot of promise with St. Anthony in May 2012. I had a great race. I swam well. Biked well. Ran well. It was a good start. Even Florida HIM with the debacle at the swim had me feeling OK since it was my first one. I finished it and the time was OK for what I was expecting. I had set my last race as Augusta 70.3 in September, so got a coach and planned out 4 sprints throughout the summer as "test races" since they were on a course I had done well on in 2011 and I thought I could test out techniques, training, etc. Plus I was now riding a Tri Bike and not an aluminum road bike. I even threw in a metric century bike ride just to be sure I had the distance and climbing skills.

I got progressively worse with each race. Crystal River 1 was bad enough, but each subsequent race in the series was slower and harder. My run was back to a 17:00 pace. What was harder to understand was that my training was fine. I was always pretty strong during my training rides and swim, though my run was getting worse. I couldn't, and don't, understand it. So I am thinking ... maybe it is time to look at what I did training wise with an honest and open mind (and eyes) and try to see where I went wrong. For readers of this blog, you already know I am pretty honest with myself about short-comings and weaknesses, and love to "self analyze" so this is nothing knew to you. Bear with me. :-)

Swimming
This is the most frustrating portion of my training and racing. Not because I cannot do the discipline. Quite the opposite. It is because I CAN do the discipline that it is frustrating. I put the time in, I feel comfortable, then get out on a race and panic. Most of this is due to being unable to acclimate quickly, especially in the Ironman races where the horn goes off 45 seconds after getting in the water. But how do I fix that?

I know one of my shortcomings in training was not enough long swims. I think this was VERY apparent when I went to the boat hopping at Augusta. I could go 100 years from boat to boat with no problem and after .6 miles I was able to get my face in the water and fly through the rest. Amazingly it is EXACTLY how my training goes. It takes 30 minutes or so to warm up and then I can go forever. See how that works?

Cycling
This was frustrating because most of the issue last weekend was not due to me, but due to a mechanical issue, but if I am being honest I was not as strong as I should have been and I felt it. This is a strength, but I know what more than I needed. More long rides and more hills. This is an easy fix. Since this is the one part of the racing that stayed the same or improved this season, it's not an issue I am most worried about.

Running
I don't get this. I was going in the right direction. I had improved. Then all of a sudden my paces started slowing. I had worked to a 12:30 pace, down from 20:00, and then I was starting to find that my pace was increasing. Runs that I was finding easier (because NO run is easy) were now hard again. Where I was able to move from a Galloway splits of 1:00 x 1:00 to 3:00 x 0:45 were now back to 1:00 x 0:45. I have NO idea why this was happening. And I still don't. I will spend much of this off season working on my run, because when I look back at my races this season this is the area that cost me improvement. Each race since St. Anthony has seen my swim get faster, my bike remain near the same, and my run get worse. It is the SOLE reason for my regression this season. It has to be addressed.

Weight
The other skeleton in the closet. Most people finish a race and can't wait to see their pictures. I cringe. And I never buy them, instead cropping my butt off so my ample gut is not seen. I think I am making progress and then get to see a picture of me bent over a Tri bike and it is, to put it bluntly, disgusting to me. I have been at the same weight for over a year. I am at a caloric deficit 6 of 7 days. I work out 5-6 days per week. yet cannot lose weight (in fact I gain at times). I think I could stay at my current fitness and do much better if I was just 20 pounds lighter. My goal has always been 200 pounds (which is a 100 pound weight loss) and I have been stuck at 245. Again, an ongoing frustration.

So....what now?