Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Season Starts with a Fizzle

I'm very much a slacker when it comes to updating my activities. A lot has happened since my last post.

To recap a bit: I had (for me) a pretty dang good first triathlon season. 2 half-Ironman races and 5 other triathlons, including a couple of first place age group wins and a third place overall in one event.

In December of last year I decided to enter a full distance Ironman event. I chose Louisville as my inaugural Ironman for a few of reasons. 1) it had open slots (most Ironman events sell out quickly), 2) it is drivable at 9 hours and 3) I forget what 3 was but there was a third reason. It has two huge negatives, though - it is in late August so it is likely very hot and it will not be wetsuit legal, which removes a nice cushion for the swim.

I wish I could say it (my Ironman venture) was for some great purpose but in reality it's just a personal quest. I want to finish but also want to do the best I can do. Ironman is unlike almost any other event in that so many things can go wrong to ruin your entire plan. It truly is a combination of luck and preparation.

Sometime last fall I injured my left lower leg. I exercised through the injury during the winter, because it didn't seem serious, but it never really seemed to go away. By early 2012 the pain was still existent, so I knew it wasn't a fleeting nag. This was somewhat serious. Over the next couple of months I visited therapists and physicians. Even went as far as to get an MRI. The MRI showed no tissue, muscle or tendon damage, so whatever I wanted to do wasn't really hurting anything.

So, what was the deal with the pain? The specialist I saw and websites I read seemed to lead to possibly some sort of nerve entrapment causing the pain. This is VERY difficult to diagnose, so I just kicked up the training knowing I didn't have any real damage occurring. I trained reasonably well through the winter months to keep in shape and prepare for the IM (Ironman) training.

Beyond my lower leg issues, I felt good. Weight was good. Fitness was good. The spring months meant that I had to get serious about training for IM Louisville (IMKY). I have worked with T3 Training Systems ( in the past on some individual training and testing efforts, so I decided to work with them in training for IMKY. I know I could've done the training myself, like I always have, to get through the event, but I felt it was best to have someone schedule my workouts and review my progress to ensure I could do the best I could do at IMKY.

The first real event of the year was the Iron Pig Festival. It was a duathlon consisting of a 5K run, 18 mile bike and another 5K run. This was my very first ever multi-sport event back in 2011. This year I won the masters (40+) overall. I couldn't believe it. There are a lot of athletes in my age group and beyond who are outstanding, so for me to beat them was quite an accomplishment. Pretty solid start to the season.

The next event, the first triathlon of the season, was the Kansas City Triathlon, on May 12. This event was my first ever triathlon in 2011, so it holds a special place in my heart. I felt really good going into the KC Tri. I had been swimming about 12,000 yards per week and had improved quite a bit. My cycling was good but not great and my run was feeling really good.

Race day started with my worst fear. It was windy. At 7am it was already 10-15 mph winds. My swim is already slow enough but add in wind and chop and it goes to crap. I'm just not good enough yet to recover from this. My swim was awful. I mean AWFUL. I had hoped for 32 minutes and ended up with 38.


The conditions were bad but several of my teammates managed 30-32 minute swims. Frankly, this ruined my day. Upset and angry don't even begin to explain how bad I felt. I got on the bike and was in a big hole. In a triathlon Olympic distance or less (Sprint), if you are behind by a lot on the swim it is nearly impossible to regain a lot of ground on the bike and run. It's just a matter of time.

I passed an incredible number of people on the bike, which was no surprise, but the bike was tougher than I thought it would be. The course changed from last year and I wasn't totally prepared for the changes, but it was tougher than I thought it would be.

The run for me was really excellent. I did a 45-minute 10K after the crappy swim and hard bike. That was easily 3-5 minutes better than I hoped for.

Results were:
Place overall:   234/707
Place age group: 51/86
Place sex:       207/462

Swim:  39:26 (2:38/100 yards)
T1:    2:21
Bike:  1:09:30 (21.4 mph)
T2:    1:27
Run:   45:46 (7:23 minutes per mile)
Total: 2:38:28

In the end I couldn't be much happier with the bike and run. The swim was what killed me. That was clearly the difference between what I did and what I though I could do. I'm working diligently with my coach to improve my swim by leaps and bounds and I'm confident it can be done.

Sorry for the long post. It's been a while. A long, hard journey awaits.