Saturday, March 21, 2009

It is official

Well it took me three days to talk myself into the commitment but I slept on it and I don't think that I can pass up the opportunity so I spent the money and signed up. Yes, I am now officially committed to the Ironman St. George in 2010. It seems like a long way away and a lot can happen in 13 months but this is the life of the Ironman (signing up for races at least a year in advance just to secure a spot). My plan this whole time has been to do my first full in 2010. The St. George IM is in May which is about a month earlier than ideal but I had to jump at the chance instead of waiting for Coeur d'Alene and hoping that I am a lucky one that gets into the race.

You have no idea how exciting this is. Official training wont start until December but just signing up has changed my view on this season and it's goals. I am still going for it this year with all my original goals but now in the back of my mind I will be training for the IM the whole year. It is funny how daunting of a task this feels like. Even bigger than the Texas Water Safari which was 260 miles non stop with no outside support. I had to plan for a 60+ hour race then yet this Ironman is only 140.6 miles and at the most will take a third the hours of the TWS. I have a lot of planning and a lot of dreaming to do in the next year. Oh yeah and I cannot forget all the special favors I will have to do for the family over the next year so that they will stay supportive and not regret letting me fulfill this dream.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Workouts that rock

I love those days when I am working out and I feel like I could go forever. But alas it has to end sometime and when it does I am sad but satisfied, tired but full of energy. Today was one of those days. It all started at 5:00 AM when I headed to the gym for an hour of weights. Then I ate a small breakfast and headed out the door for a 2 hour bike ride. After the ride I was feeling good so I decided to finish up with a 30 minute recovery run. That is a day that I could do more often!

I am finally reading Lance Armstrong's book "Its not about the bike". I know that I am really late reading it but better late than never. Anyway, I cannot put it down. I am typically a slow reader but this book reads easily and is a fascinating story. There is a part of his book that is very insightful and it seems very fitting to today's post. He talks about riding and how suffering on a bike for 6+ hours is painful but cleansing. It puts one at peace. This struck a chord with me. I have actually talked to other athletes about this subject and found something similar in all aspects of endurance sports. A friend of mine who is an avid marathoner says when she runs long her brain actually goes into a trance. There are periods where she cannot remember thinking. The running instinct takes over and when she is done all the stress is gone. I get this feeling when I ride or when I swim. I can shut my brain off (not literally of course, that would be dangerous). I can forget everything that is going on in the world and just workout. There is something very primal about the feeling. It is as if a survival instinct kicks in and all else goes away except the end goal. Even pain seems to become secondary.

So how does that all fit in with today's workout. Today was one of those days when I needed to shut down the stress receptors and get into that primal mode. The stress of trying to buy and sell my house has been really getting to me and it has also messed with my normally steady schedule. Have I mentioned yet that I am moving? Anyway, I needed today's workout so that I could clear my mind and be at peace. I did not think about any outside world issues the entire time and when I was done I felt ready to take on anything that had been standing in my way.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crazy Triathlete!

Cold weather cycling hurts. Is it worth the pain? The jury is still out while my feet thaw. Here in Texas it is not that hard to avoid cycling in weather below about 50 degrees but yesterday I decided I was going to get outside no matter what. Family and work obligations dictate that about 90% of my workouts are in the early mornings so I forced myself outside at 7 AM on Sunday and the thermometer read 30 degrees. I was determined to do it because the last 3 weeks I wimped out and rode the trainer indoors. One can only take that for so long before going crazy.

The first 30 minutes were terrible but once everything went numb I did not feel any more pain. To give some perspective, 30 degrees really is not that cold when just standing outside, but if you hop on a bike and ride 17 to 20 MPH you are essentially creating a headwind of the same speed. Thus with the wind chill factored in, 30 degrees feels like about 18 degrees when on the bike.

Now to my question, is it worth the pain? I figure riding outside as opposed to the trainer is always better, if only for the scenery. I also think that it makes a person more mentally tough to ride in any kind of weather. If you can run or bike in cold weather and force the thoughts of quitting out of your mind your mental toughness increases. It is like a big hill or biking against the wind. You have to be just as mentally ready to take on these elements as you are physically. If you can do well under adverse conditions think of how much better you would do in perfect conditions. Plus, friends think that I am crazy. I probably am, but I like it that way. When people make excuses for not being able to workout I always point out that its not the time limits its the conscious decision to not start. If I can force myself out in the freezing cold then there are no excuses for not getting out of bed and going to a warm gym. Truth is I like the image of being the crazy triathlete, or is it dedicated triathlete? I guess it depends on your perspective. It's a fine line that I enjoy walking.