Comeback Race Perspective

I've conveniently used my attorney as an excuse why I haven't been writing since my accident this past December.  Basically, I'm not supposed to comment on "that" until all the paperwork is complete. And there's a lot of "that" to talk about, let me assure you! Finally though, I've found something worth writing about that doesn't directly involve "that."

So instead, I'm going to write about this.

I was with my coach this morning for only my second trail run since "that" occurred.  We were talking about my comeback race, the first race of 2013 for me, Boise 70.3.  Up until our conversation, I had every intention of unleashing THIS on the race course.

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A New Kind of Countdown

A little less than a week ago, I received the results of my MRI report.  And I began a new kind of race countdown. Previously, I was gearing up for the Lake Piru TT on January 6. Followed by the Bandit 30k trail run on February 17.  Then, in March I'd have the Cheseboro Half Marathon.  April would bring the ITU Club Championship, all building for a shot to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Ironman St. George 70.3 on May 4.

Those countdowns all ended with one phrase from my orthopedist: "You've got the Blake Griffin injury."

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Now That I Have Some Time...

Perhaps I'll be writing a bit more. Besides, you know the old saying, "Those who can't do, blog."

It's Saturday night. Steph and I are home, blissfully crossing off longstanding to-do list items. Primarily the fun kind. Well, at least mine are.  Write more.  Read more -- just finished Tyler Hamilton's Secret War about the rampant corruption in cycling during the height of the Lance Armstrong Years.  Visit more -- hung out with my buddy TJ and new neighbor Ruben at my favorite local bar.

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There Are Two Kinds of Cyclists...

If you're an avid triathlete or cyclist, I'm sure you've heard this phrase at least once on a group ride: "There are two kinds of cyclists; those who have crashed...and those who haven't crashed yet."

I remember the first time I heard that phrase. It was a group ride with the San Fernando Valley Bike Club, a crusty group of veteran cyclists who didn't have much interest in teaching a new kid like myself how to ride properly. I was mostly ignored...and dropped.

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Feelin' You?

In LA sports broadcasting, there's a laughable legend named Vic "The Brick" Jacobs.  Thick Noo Yawk accent.  Dresses in bizarre fashion.  Jewish Buddhist.  Laker fan for Life.

I love the guy.  I'll admit it.

His catch phrase is "Feelin' You!"  It's what he practically yells into the radio mic when fans call in to his shows.  It's his way of acknowledging his fans' presence, energy, and support.

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You Have No Upcoming Workouts

Since November 2009, a big part of my life has been ruled by an email appearing in my Gmail inbox: My Training Peaks scheduled workout.  My coach, Gerardo Barrios, dutifully updated my schedule each week and sometimes two or three weeks in advance.  I planned my work day, outings with Stephanie and our friends and family, and my own "free" time around whatever my Training Peaks update left room for.

But since the conclusion of Ironman Coeur d'Alene, my update has read the same: "Ryan Schneider: You have no upcoming workouts."

It's taken all of one week since IMCDA to become sick of seeing that statement.  Sure, I've swam a bit and spun on my trainer.  But it's just not the same.  Strangely, now I feel guilty with all my free time -- though I'm savoring every minute.  I've gotten so much done around the house, spent a LOT of quality time with Steph the past few days, caught up with friends, finished my next Lava Magazine column and am finally present with all my outstanding work-related emails.

Ahhh, productivity!

Still, deep inside, I can feel my fitness slipping away.  All the work I did to become a bonafide Ironman triathlete is dissipating.  And that's frustrating.  I didn't work this hard to become a slouch.

What am I going to do about it?

This is my plan, for the moment. Plans can change, as I've learned all too well from this sport.

  • For the next two months I'm focusing heavily on all things wedding.  The Big Day is less than two months away and there's still much to do.  Steph has been phenomenal shouldering such a heavy load, and I'm going to ease that burden significantly.  The countdown for the wedding is becoming just as exciting as any athletic event, and I think it will surpass anything I've felt before come Wedding Day.
  • While Steph and I are focused on The Best Wedding Ever, I plan to swim a couple times a week, either with Fortius or on my own. I also plan to learn what I can to significantly improve my swim technique.  I don't know if that means Total Immersion swimming or improving upon my existing mechanics.  I'm undecided here, so any advice would be super appreciated!  I won't participate in a triathlon until at least October (though I did flirt with showing up last-minute to Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard on July 16), so I have plenty of time to see how I can break major new ground in the water.
  • Next, I'm planning to purchase either a Computrainer indoor computer trainer system OR a power meter to measure power output on the bike.  If I want to make big leaps on the bike without spending more time training then either one of these tools are going to become quite important.  I'm still trying to decide which tool represents the better investment.  Please let me know if you have an opinion.  In the meantime, I'm going to spin on my trainer a couple times a week while watching the Tour de France, possibly going on a few-hour ride one day during the weekend.  If anyone reading this wants to go riding for a few hours, let me know!  (Brennan, I'm looking at you!)
  • While I'm training simply to maintain a basic form of fitness, I'm planning to thoroughly read Joe Friel's "Your Best Triathlon" book.  I need to find a way to train within the 10-15 hours a week range, with few exceptions.  I figure more focused, more intense training spread out over more recovery might help.  That's why I'm leaning towards purchasing the Computrainer, as it immediately cuts down on commute time, gives me all sorts of data to analyze and lets me ride simulation courses from most Ironman or 70.3-distance events.  From what I'm reading, 70 miles on a trainer equals 100 miles on the road.  I like that, if I can grind it out mentally.
  • That's everything on the training front. I still need to find better balance with my writing.  I've got some plans to turn the Ironmadman blog into a book project and self-publish through Kindle. This is a long-term goal though I'm starting to work towards it now -- thinking of an outline is the first step and is officially under way as of today.  Next, I'm considering an offer from the LA Tri Club to be its official blogger.  I'd write one post per week on pretty much anything I want.  However, time is going to be slim for this so I may have to opt out.

Where does this leave my blogging?

I don't know, to be honest.

I don't know if I can continue to blog every day, especially without any races coming up.  There's simply not a lot of "interesting" triathlon related news that's going to come from me.  I do owe people more info from my Chris McCormack interview, and I haven't forgotten about that.  Otherwise, I think we're winding down on the Ironmadman daily blog for the time being.  I'll continue to post, just not nearly as often.

Of course, last time I wrote that I went back to heavy frequency.  Perhaps this whole writing thing is more a part of me than I realize!

I do plan to write a somewhat temporary/unofficial "farewell" post in the coming days.  Something to wrap up what I consider to be two huge chapters in my triathlon journey -- completing my first Ironman and taking the lessons learned to complete a second within seven months.  There are lots of people to thank and acknowledge, and I'd like to write a letter to my future children (NO, none are on the way any time soon mom!) so they can have some real context to what I hope this blog can teach them one day.

Just because I don't have any upcoming workouts on my schedule doesn't mean I'm going to stay idle.

I hope I'm just warmed up now.

Eat, Rest and Be Merry

On my recovery day from IM CDA Peak Week #1, Memorial Day, I ate, rested and was generally very merry.  That's partially because I ate a lot of food.  I'm paranoid about keeping my weight up heading into IM CDA.  I'd say I'm more paranoid about that than whether I'll finish the race!  I'm not sure that's a good thing, but my pet theory is that with a little more weight (even fat) on me I may have more energy to burn on race day. And with a little more energy, I may go just a bit faster for longer. For those of you with a medical background, is that sound thinking?

We're talking about 5-8 extra pounds at this point, and 3% extra body fat from where I was at IM AZ in November.  Then I was sporting a rather unhealthy-looking 7% body fat count, and my weight plummeted to 127 pounds on race day.  I'm 5"7 so every pound lost starts to show itself.  I heard more comments after the race than ever before in my life about how gaunt I looked.

So far, I haven't heard any of those comments this season.  While I may not be quite as defined in my midsection, I've kept he weight on and my speed has remained essentially the same.  I think my strategy is working.

Still, I'm quite susceptible  to losing a lot of weight quickly. For example, after the Heartbreak 100 on Saturday, I went from 135 pounds that morning to 132 pounds the next day.  That was with at least two full meals post-race and three snacks -- two of them in the middle of the night.  Tonight, after two chicken breasts, a burger on pita bun, corn on the cob and two well-deserved pieces of birthday cake, I'm back to my goal weight of 137 pounds.

Maybe it's placebo, but because I think I look better, I'm feeling better.  I seem to be recovering very well today and I'm eager to run again tomorrow.  I don't recall ever being eager to train late last October and into November before IMAZ.

The next challenge is going to be resting adequately.  There's a Memorial Day party going on across the hall, a rooftop party.  Lots of drinking, shouting, and laughing.  Should I be the old person who shouts out the window to shut up, or the cool person who turns up the fan a bit higher for added white noise and just take a noisy night.

Maybe it's my full tummy, but I'm in a giving mood tonight.  After all, if I wasn't going to bed early, counting every calorie and analyzing my daily scale check-ins as if I were a boxer before a fight, I'd be right there partying with them.  And seeing as my Ironman is under a month away, I may want to keep that party card in check for a celebration when calories won't really matter at all.

28 days and counting.

Guilty, or Grateful?

Should I feel guilty, or grateful? Today I was supposed to swim for 45 minutes, easy laps, focus on cadence, yadda yadda yadda.  Then, I was supposed to spin easily for 45 minutes. I forgot my local pool is closed on Mondays, so that left me with a mere 45-minute workout day coming off a weekend where I missed a key long run due to a potential injury (more on that in a moment).

In other words, I didn't need a recovery day from fatigue.

But perhaps I needed a genuine recovery day as a reward for my body putting up with me not permitting it to rest so much after Friday's terrible leg cramps.

Fortunately, after my ART appointment this morning, I learned that my hip flexor/TFL strain was mild at best and I'd be fine.  My injury was essentially from overuse and probably an awkward position in one of my exercises (I'm thinking reverse situps or step ups with weights).  It stems from a weak psoas muscle (deep in the lower abs) that triggers overcompensation in my left hip muscles.

It's so strange that in my second go around with Ironman training, mentally I'm in great shape five weeks out but physically I'm practically falling apart.  Some days I wonder if I'm going to sprint to the finish or stagger.  However it turns out, I will cross the finish line.  Walk, shuffle, jog, run or sprint, I will cross the finish line.  I feel like I'm too experienced not to, and I've made so many mistakes over the past couple years and months that I'm due for a "good" race.

But I don't expect one either. I expect to do my best, try to be smart, listen to my body, and take what the day gives me.

If only I listened to my body a bit more in training.  I think I got lucky this weekend I didn't tear something.  It could have been a lot worse, only missing one big workout -- one I'll make up tomorrow morning.

So, guilty or grateful?


Most grateful.

34 days and counting.

Observing, Not Particpating

This morning I finally gave in to visiting an urgent care center for my flayed fingers.  Shannan, my trainer, and some of the other trainers at my office complex gym, took a look at my exposed fingers following a strength training session and grimaced.  I'll admit, I kinda dug the attention as it reminded me of being a kid when you'd show off cuts and bruises to the girls and make them recoil. Boys will be boys.

At the doctor's, the physician indicated that my fingers were going to be fine (as I expected all along).  Fortunately though I have an updated tetnis shot and am currently on antibiotics from my upper respiratory/sinus infection.  Thus, infection was ruled out for the most part.  The issue now is keeping my fingers dry for the next couple days so they can air out properly.  Sadly, that means no swimming until at least Sunday, which also means that I've got 1.5 days of rest since tomorrow is an off-day. Normally I wouldn't complain, but after interviewing Chris McCormack ("Macca") last night and after seemingly finding a better bike pace, I'm fired up to train!

Why is it that when we want a break there isn't one in sight, and when we don't need one we get more than necessary?

So tonight, instead of swimming, I'm going to train in a different way: Atop the deck at VNSO pool.  I'm going to shadow Gerardo and see what he's seeing.  Maybe I can even help out a bit.  I think that maybe I can learn to become a better swimmer tonight by watching, not doing.  Then, on Sunday, I can mimic what I see in the water.

I'll let you know how it goes then.

45 days and counting.