Monday, January 28, 2013

That Escalated Quickly

There must be some sort of name for it.  Kinda like Murphy’s Law, only from someone not named Murphy.  Or perhaps just a different Murphy.  Begs the question of what would have happened had Murphy come up with a second law.  The basic theory is that as soon as you convince yourself that there’s not enough time to handle whatever your current schedule is, something else will come along that will make you long for the schedule that you thought was impossible.  Maybe it can be my law.  I’m definitely living it right now.

I thought my running schedule to train for an ultra was near my limits in terms of duration and intensity for what my mind and body could handle while still staying employed and actually seeing my family on occasion.  Then I discovered triathlon training.  Kinda putting a beating on me right now.
Admittedly, I’m pushing the boundaries a bit on the tri training since I was already signed up for a marathon in the middle of February.  I’ve created a Franken-plan combining a 24-week Ironman training plan, and a moderate-level marathon training plan to get me to the line in Myrtle Beach in 3 weeks with the potential to try and race the marathon and see if I can put together a PR.  Net result is for 6 weeks each week consists of 2-3 strength-training sessions, 2-3 bike rides, 3 swims, and 5 runs.  Trying to get enough sleep to support this as well, which is equally challenging.  It’s been pretty fun so far, but I won’t be terribly unhappy to get past the marathon and work out a more sustainable model.

My recent tinkering with my running shoe mix has me going the opposite direction of the wave of minimalist-shoe momentum, and looking at Hokas.  For those that aren’t familiar with these shoes, they take the approach that more-is-more, and offer more support and cushion than just about any other shoe on the market.  I finally saw one of these shoes in person at a tri store last week and I’m thoroughly intrigued.  Rockstar Emz uses Hokas for much of her prodigious treadmill running, and if they help her put in 4,000+ miles a year, they certainly have potential for me.  With the amount of training I’m pushing right now, these might be some more insurance against overtraining injury.  I’m always looking for ways to slay the injury dragon.
Swimming remains my main nemesis right now.  Apparently water has gotten much thicker since I did swim-team as a kid.  There can’t possibly be any other explanation for the degree to which the pool owns me right now.  Water and I are starting to work out some sort of tolerable agreement, but it’s still pretty contentious.  In the meantime, I’m stepping up my sprint workouts at the track in hopes that I get fast enough to just run across the water like this guy….
Seems like a reasonable plan.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Doomsday, 2012, and (not) Drowning

As far as I can tell, the world did not end.  In fact, 2012 came to a very relaxing, quiet close at the Evolving household.  One of the highlights of the end of the year was the Doomsday Marathon.  With a 9PM start, in the middle of nowhere (written directions included the phrase “drive until the pavement end, then keep going”), with no man-made lighting and 30-degree temps, I found myself questioning my sanity as I finished my final gear check.  Once things got underway, however, it was one of the more unique and memorable running experiences I’ve undertaken.

The course was an approximately 2.5-mile loop that started in the woods, and then picked up a sand road through an old Air Force jump field for about 2 miles.  I was very, very dark, and with rain for several days leading up to the race, there were several spots on the road that consisted of large puddles that, if one weren’t paying attention, turned things into a bit of a steeplechase.  The sand was very loose in a couple sections, which made things very challenging on the later laps.  The race consisted of 11 laps, so the actual distance per my Garmin ended up being 27.31 miles.  I ended up 6th out of the 46 that finished, with a time of 4:24:31.  The guy that won the race ran a 3:09, which was pretty amazing considering the tough footing, puddles, and serious darkness.  The guy lapped me 3 times, and he was flying.  Very, very impressive.

I came into the run nursing a slight groin pull that I got playing tennis, and by the end of the race it was none too happy.  I also managed to turn my left ankle on the 10th lap, but it didn’t end up affecting me very much.  One of the best things about this race was I had surprisingly little soreness afterwards, other than my injuries, and was back to running again in only 6 days.  No orthopedist, no PT, happy happy, joy joy.  I’d definitely do an event like this again.  I’m not aware of any other ancient civilizations predicting our doom anytime soon, so I think this was a one-time affair, but the guy that put this one on puts together some pretty cool races, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for what he dreams up next.

With 2012 now in the books, I consider the year to have been a huge success as far as running goes.  Not only because of the training and races, but also because I stayed largely injury-free.  No trips to the orthopedist, and no quality time with my physical therapist.  Not to say I didn’t have my share of aches and pains, but I was unusually smart about managing my training and my pains, and think I’ve learned some good lessons for the future.  Training-wise, I managed 1926 miles of running, 627 miles of cycling, 10 trips to the pool (not great), and 79 trips to the gym.  Race-wise, I finished 2 5ks, 1 half-marathon, 2 full-marathons, 1 50k, and 1 50-miler.  My big goal for 2012 was to give Ultras a try, and I accomplished that goal and had fun in the process.  Not sure what my ultra future looks like now that I’m giving triathlons a shot, but I suspect I’ll rekindle the ultra relationship sometime in the future.

Now that 2013 is in full swing, I’m trying to get my act together to figure out a training plan for triathlons that doesn’t kill me and allows me to at least occasionally see my family.  The biggest challenge for me is getting in the time in the pool.  As much as I wish I enjoyed it more, I’m just not a big fan of swimming.  Running and biking appeal to me for the outdoors factor, and swimming in the pool is just tedious for me.  My mind wanders, and I lose track of laps, etc.  It doesn’t help that my endurance in the water isn’t great, and I know my stroke needs some work to move from sprinting form to more sustainable long-distance form.  For now, I’m content with not drowning.  I’m studying up on some of the assorted technique programs out there (Total Immersion, Effortless Swimming, etc.), and just trying to get in the routine of getting in the water 2-3 times a week.  Hopefully I can get to the point with swimming where, like running, it feels strange to not get in a swim.  Time will tell.