Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This is going to be painful

For the first time since my first triathlon I have doubts not about my blood sugars but about my fitness level heading into a race. I've prepared as well as time would allow but working for a start-up, moving to a new city, and well in general living life have greatly conflicted with triathlon training. I have real concerns about a DNF for the firs time I can remember. I don't doubt that I can cover the distance of a half-iron, I've been there, done that. What I worry is that by the time I reach the run my legs will be so fried that I won't be able to move and a 6+ hour half-iron just isn't my idea of a good time. I've proven to myself everything I could have ever asked for; I now race for fun and enjoyment - but is that possible when life has so greatly interfered with my ability to train?

I've put in between 10 and 13 hours a week of training for this race, I've gone on a few bike rides of more than 55 miles, a bunch of weekend runs of 10+ miles and have gotten in some ok swims. The last time I had the opportunity to do a brick workout was some 2+ months ago and I've maybe hit 2 or 3 double workouts in a day over the past month and 1/2. At times I've been functioning on 4 hours of sleep and poor nutrition and other times I'll forget to drink water at work. Essentially, I've transitioned from a grad school student who had it made to a guy working his butt off to make it all over again. Kudos to all of you out there who have balanced life with triathlon for so long!

I honestly don't know what to expect going into Saturday. Part of me wants to bail on the race and just drink wine. Part of me says go out in a blaze of glory and just hammer the bike. Yet still part of me says go out there and race like a rational triathlete that has fitness even if its not to the point I'd like it to be.

I drove up to Lake Bayressa to ride the course on Sunday. I cut off an 8 mile out and back and did the 40 miles in about 2 hours. Not bad for a training ride but I have no clue if I can run after. Bricks take something I don't have right now, time. I have serious doubts going into this race after leaving CDA with so much excitement and anticipation for continuing to improve in the sport. I'm 4 pounds lighter than I was at CDA; have been running faster for distance than I ever have before and have been doing great on my days on the bike. At this point I just don't know if I can put it all together on race day and if I have the fitness to even put myself in position to do well. I can hold it together and push through but I was ecstatic last year when I finally turned the corner and was able to compete, not gut it out. Saturday might be another one of those painful days that takes me a bunch of steps back instead of a step or two forward - guess we'll see.....

Friday, April 22, 2011

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure

Mark Twain is the inspiration for this Triathlon and racing season. The combination of Coach E rubbing elbows with the rich and famous as he promotes Born To Run and my decision to work for a start-up post grad school has had me training myself. I'm self motivated enough to train consistently so getting out the door is never an issue. What is an issue is the ignorance I have for how important recovery is. My biggest need for a coach is to hold me back some so I'm not training till I throw up every day. But who am I to argue with Mark Twain, if ignorance and confidence are the recipe for success then this is sure to be my most successful season!

That ignorance was on full display a few weeks ago. With tired legs and a groggy mind I tried to push myself through a speed interval run. My goal was to run 6, 3 minute intervals at a sub 6:55 pace. I barely could muster the turn over to reach a 7:05 pace for those intervals and realized that my muscles were flat out fried. Since that time I've scaled back the intensity and gone for miles or just enjoyment and the results seem to be great.

My weight is down 4 pounds from IMCDA, I'm running faster for distance than I ever have and my bike continues to get stronger. Consistency in training has been a huge issue so I'm not sure how fit I'll be for my first half iron next week but I know my ability to perform is there. Working at least 75 hours a week really puts a dent in the consistency to train so I've had to be creative about what I can get in. This Sunday I'm headed up to the Napa Valley Half Iron course to check out the bike leg and see what I can reasonably expect on race day.

I signed up for this race with the intent of placing in the top 10, full discloser and the pressure is on. Had I continued working with Eric with the same consistency we had going into IMCDA there isn't a doubt in my mind a sub 5:15 half iron was within my grasp. Now I'm not sure, part of me is just praying I can go sub 5:30 again but part of me wants to push as hard as I can go to see what I can accomplish.

My blood sugars have been rock solid in training. The work I did to figure out how to train with blood sugars below 170 has paid huge dividends. I'm feeling much more awake, aware and consistent during longer days and my body is recovering a bit more quickly. The need for lower carbohydrate intake also helps me avoid some GI distress which I encountered in the past. Not entirely sure what to expect on the bs front on race day so time will tell.

So with that I have the confidence that I can perform and complete ignorance when it comes to my level of fitness for the start of this season. April 30th may be an incredibly painful day but I'm going into it with the same goals I had when I signed up for the race. The following week I'll race in my first road classic, 33 miles in the hills of Berkeley. I know I'll have fun in the races and I know I'll be racing for a cause, with the two most important things deeply ingrained in the reasons I do endurance sports its now time to translate that into some results.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I have become what I swore never to be....

A proud owner of a Cervelo!!!!

After two years lusting over sweet road bikes I finally bit the bullet and joined the legion of espresso drinkers. No longer will I be jealous of those on sweet carbon frames happily descending down Mt. Tam. No longer will I be terrified I'm going to be jilted off El Bastardo gripping my brakes for dear life as I fly down the descent to Stinson Beach. I now can go on bike shop group rides, happily shave my legs (too far?) and interject words like cobles, hammerhead and preem into my daily vocabulary. If Ksfka were writing today the Metamorphosis would not be about turning into a beetle, it would be about turning into a Roadie!

I still have had the opportunity to ride my beautiful new Cervelo R3 yet, that will come in Paso Robles this weekend. For now the yet to be named new steed is in a separate room from El Bastardo, I can't have the old guy getting jealous of his new brother.

Time to have some fun!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Riding the Queen K

Few times in life an athlete has the opportunity to compete in or train on the most famous venue their sport has to offer. Baseball had the old Yankee Stadium, Basketball Madison Square Garden, Tennis has Wimbledon, runners have Boston and triathletes have Kona. The Queen K represents the storied history of triathlon, it represents countless hours of sacrifice for those who have qualified. One stretch of highway signifies the thousands of stories that Iron distance races capture from Rudy Garcia to Dave Scott to dozens of others whose stories that only family and friends know. Yes, it was only a training ride, but the fact that I was incredibly lucky to train on such hollowed grounds was not lost on me.

I was in Kona for my girlfriend's first triathlon. Nemo crushed the race and did outstandingly well. Her main goal was to not crash on the bike; with the help of Bike Works in Kona I was able to rig together a make shift water bottle holder for her stem. Nemo still isn't comfortable reaching down while riding so not having to move her hands too much gave her a ton more confidence on the bike. With how hot it is out in Kona water was key. Without going into too much further detail she had a fantastic first race that surely won't be her last.

We arrived to Kona on Thursday night and I picked up my bike Friday. Giddy like a school-girl I walked into Bike Works to pick up my Cervelo S1 that I had rented for the weekend. I'm in the market for a new road bike and the Cervelo R3 is high on my list; so testing out an S1 on the road would give me a good idea of fit and feel.

Saturday I woke early, donned the Spandex and was ready to ride. On tap for the day was 65 miles of the 112 mile Ironman Course leaving from Waikoloa and heading north to Hawi for an out and back. The first 5 miles or so were spent adjusting the saddle height and forward position once I felt kind of dialed in it was time to just flat out ride.

My first impression of the Queen K is that it is a deceptively hard ride. There aren't any steep climbs, the roads are really smooth and one would be hard pressed to find a technical turn. What makes this course brutally difficult is the wind, heat and lack of change in landscape. Riding through the lava fields is like riding on the moon, the landscape is like nothing I have ever seen and the wind blows through it without challenge. In the distance you can see Maui, but the vision looks like a mirage, its simply a beautiful backdrop that never seems to get bigger or smaller.

Once through the town of Kawaihae the ride became brutally difficult. I was greeted by a wall of wind that had me struggling to keep a pace above 15 mph. Determined to make it to the turn around point I pushed on. About 5 miles from the town of Hawi I was greeted by a friendly face tearing down the other side of the Queen K. Matt, the husband of a TNT teammate of Nemo was doing the same ride as me. He thankfully added 5 miles to his ride and rode into Hawi with me - I was struggling at that point.

At the turn-around I grabbed a coffee, an apple banana, a smoothie and some extra water before hoping back on for the rest of the ride. On the 30ish miles out to Hawi both Matt and I had a spartan 2 water bottles, 10 miles into the return trip we had gone through that amount of water! Once the wind was at our backs the pavement heated up. I could barely get in enough water to keep my focus and to stay hydrated. In total I went through 8 water bottles on the return 30 miles - 4 times the amount of water I needed on the way out; weather makes this course difficult, and weather is something a rider has no control over.

On the way back I did my fastest mile ever - 1:22, on a flat or slightly downhill portion of the course with the wind at my back. The way out took me 2+ hours, the way back took me less than an hour and 1/2. The Queen K let me realize how truly special those pro-triathletes are. The Queen K is not friendly, the course is unpredictable and demands you be prepared for the toughest obstacles a rider can face; heat and wind. After 60 miles I have a whole new respect for those who have qualified for and competed at Kona.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Year, Another Apirl 2nd, More Lessons & Memories

It has now been four years since the April 2nd I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Each passing year has brought new perspective, new lessons, new moments of fright and new moments of triumph. As I reflect back on this past year I'm not sure I could have asked to accomplish anything more, with or without the big D. Graduation from a prestigious MBA program, gaining a job with a start-up in a field I was dying to break into, moving to the West Coast, accomplishing my goals at Ironman CDA, becoming more involved in Triabetes and meeting a fantastic and wonderful woman. The difference with this past year from each of the previous, in no way were any of my accomplishments "over coming" diabetes, I simply succeeded while having the disease.

After four long years of struggling with this disease, analyzing every blood sugar reading, every carbohydrate I've taken in I've reached a place where I embrace the disease. It is an incredible juxtaposition to say I've "embraced a disease," but I know how food will affect me, know what my body can accomplish at a given blood sugar and know what symptoms predict what my blood sugar will be. As I gaze out my window in Kona I think perhaps I've reached diabetic enlightenment.

"Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence." ~ Buddha

I've soaked in every lesson I could about the management of diabetes, asked as many questions as possible and put myself through nutrition experiment after nutrition experiment. Each opportunity to learn something new about blood sugar management has made me more comfortable with the disease. It has since turned from a fight to a relationship. I've become comfortable with the ebb and flow and know that at no time will my management of this disease be perfect.

After four long years I thank this disease for the world it opened my eyes to, I thank this disease for every opportunity it has presented. In no small way this disease changed me; and while my life has been fundamentally altered I would like to think I took the negatives this disease presented, embraced them and found a way to help them make me a better person. Now on my 4th anniversary of my diagnosis I'm hoping on a bike and riding into the blazing sun on the Queen K in Kona not worried about nutrition, not worried about the heat; simply thrilled that I have the opportunity to ride a stretch of pavement that all triathletes sacrifice so much for, even if its just a training ride for the day.