Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Beautiful Saturday to Suffer

Today was an incredible day for a long ride and Amber wanted to try the ride out to Valleyview if the wind was not a factor. Fortunately when we woke up there wasn't a hint of wind outside and we got an early start. The ride out was incredible, the scenery, the river valley, the rolling hills were all the reasons I love being out on my bike. I planned my meal schedule very carefully and I make sure that I drank ate and took salt every hour. The first half went very quickly and I was finished 107km in 3hrs and 10mins.

I fueled up in Valleyview rested for a while and gave AD a call to make sure she was doing okay. She had everything under control but was going to turn around a little sooner (95km). I started back and felt good for the majority of the ride, it wasn't until I reached a killer climb at 180km that the wheels fell off. I could barely get up the hill and my calves were really starting to hurt. I got to the top of the hill and both calves seized up and wouldn't let go! I hit the brakes and veered off into the ditch in pain and fell over while I passed out in pain. I've never experienced anything lie that before and I can definitely say I never want to experience anything like that again. I laid on the side of the highway in pain for the next 15 minutes but I knew that I had to get back on the rode if I had any hope of getting home.

The rest of the ride I was just in survival mode and I couldn't push it like I was used to. I just wanted to be out of the saddle at that point and everything in my body was hurting. I took a break in Bezanson, fueled up again and made my way back. The final 30kms were incredibly painful and it took every ounce of energy in me to keep turning the pedals over. After 6hrs and 52mins I finally made it home and collapsed, I hope Ironman doesn't turn out like this. Still two solid months to prepare, I know I'll be ready.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Riding in Paradise

It's been a long week being away from Amber, this week I did my two days in Whitecourt, one day in Edson and one day in Jasper. Jasper was the highlight of the entire trip and it makes the whole week worth it. As soon as I drove into the mountains I felt like I was home. The weather was a really windy and cold when I arrived but after dinner things cleared up and I was able to go for a ride.

I started out down the icefields parkway and I was just going to do a short one so I veered off towards Marmot Basin. It was one of the most beautiful rides I think I have ever done! A lot of climbing and some incredible views! There was some spectacular waterfalls and amazing vistas. I only saw three or four cars the entire ride so I felt like I had a closed road. I only brought one water bottle and it was getting a little cold out so I turned around at 30km and had a great ride back. I just wish Amber was there with me, next time babe I promise.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Beautiful Weekend in GP

This weekend was great for training, unfortunately my training partner was sick this week and it was a bit lonely out there. I really missed starting out and finishing with AD but it was quite nice to get up early and be done early on both Saturday and Sunday. Normally a day with a planned long ride means we won't be home until 4 or 5pm but Saturday I was on the road at 8am and done at 2. I felt great and aside from stopping for lunch and needing a rest/recovery stop for 20 minutes at noon, I gained a lot of confidence in my long-riding ability.

I headed south on Highway 40 towards Grande Cache and once you leave Grande Prairie there is nothing for 180km, no gas station, no rest stop, no washroom, nothing but road and forest, it was awesome! Although I needed to make sure I planned my ride appropriately, there was no way I was going to do the whole ride with 2 water bottles. It was cool enough in the morning that I could ride a couple hours on one bottle but I wasn't going to do more than 60km before turning around. It's a very hilly route and you don't want to get caught out there without water. I was moving really well and finished the first 120km in 3:43, not bad considering there are some big climbs coming out of the river valley. I had lunch at the Esso where I parked my car and was surprised that they had a very good selection of sandwiches. One thing I've noticed from being on the road is that the selection of food at most gas stations leaves a lot to be desired.

I could have called it a day at that point but I had it in my head that I was going to ride 180km today so I was determined to get that distance in. I headed back out on the same route another 30kms and turned around, the sun was beating down on me at that point and I was completely spent coming up the final hill. It wasn't an easy ride but definitely a 'developmental' ride. I can tell the endurance isn't quite where I want it to be yet but I'm confident that after tour BC things will be right on track.

Sunday I woke up early again and headed out for a long run, I wanted to get that feeling of running on tired legs again and I could tell that I haven't done one in a long time. The run was incredible though, after covering 11km on the pathways in town there is a 5km section of trail that makes it all worth it. I felt free and fast as I moved through the trees with no one around and totally escaping the city. It was like I was out in the wilderness and the only thought in my mind at that point was just how good it felt to be running. Unfortunately when I emerged from the trail and was back on the path I ran out of water and I struggled for the next 6kms to get to a place where I could fill up. My body told me that 30kms was all it was going to do that day and I called it a day after 2:10. Still it was great to be done at 10am, I had the whole day to hang out with AD.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Very Important Weekend

Yesterday was a very special day for me, it was two years ago I met the love of my life and every day since has been a true blessing. I met Amber at a CIBC conference and after knowing her for less than a week I knew she was the one for me. I was really apprehensive going up to her and talking to her but her keynote that day was about stepping out of your comfort zone and expanding the possibilities in your life and I took it to heart. I took a chance and talked to her about our shared passion, Ironman. It's been a bond for us every since and we've shared some incredible moments together doing what we love. The 7 hour bike rides preparing for Ironman 2007, the 3 hour runs in the freezing cold Grande Prairie winter preparing for the Boston Marathon 2008, or my favorite moment; proposing to Amber on her 30th birthday in Canmore during a bike ride to Banff. I know that our lives together will have a lot of incredible moments and I look forward to having Amber beside me all the way, I love you babe and I will make you happy every day of our lives.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Where Do You Find The Strength Feeling Like This

It's been a difficult weekend for AD and I, she's been feeling a little worn down and depleted and I've been struggling with a lack of energy as well. This is the tough time of year, the time when you need to be stronger than ever and complete a lot of tough training weekends but your body and mind start to revolt. We've had a long winter spinning in the basement and completing the long runs in the bitter cold Grande Prairie winter but now it's starting to take it's toll. I'm really excited that the racing season is in full swing but constantly training and racing is really hard on the body.

Yesterday I was determined to get in a long ride and even though the weather was terrible, rainy and cold, I geared up and headed out. The first hour was okay I think my mind was rebelling but after I ate a PB sandwich on the bike I felt better and soldiered on. The second hour was tough, a very hilly section of the ride and I was downing water like crazy. I was starting to run out of water when I was approaching Wanham (85km) but I knew I'd have a chance to fill up. Was I ever surprised when I reached the town and it was completely shut down! Not one business, gas station, nothing was open. ARRGH!

It was another 21km to the next town Rycroft, and that was a very, very tough 21kms. I was bonking and it took everything in me to just keep turning over the pedals. I was geared up and the sun came out a couple times which didn't help. I made it to Rycroft and pulled into a gas station and immediately binged; coke, sandwich, chips, kit kat, milk, water, whatever I could get my hands on. Fortunately I felt a little better but that was the time when the sky decided to pour down on me. I was feeling really spent at that point and decided to call Amber to pick me up, I'd had enough.

Amber did a shorter ride today and just got home when I called so she was happy to come get me. I waited for a while and then she called to say the highway was closed and traffic was backed up for a very, very long way. I waited a little while longer hoping the rain would pass but it kept coming down full force. She called again to say that nothing was moving and it would probably be faster if I just started riding again. I wasn't too excited about going out in the rain, I was tired, freezing, dehydrated and sore but the universe was telling me my day wasn't over yet.

Back on the bike in the rain and fortunately it let up as soon as I left Rycroft. I kept spinning for another 20kms going very slow, it is a long slow grind up a false flat and that's when I saw AD coming towards me. Whew, thanks babe.

Bike 131kms; 4hrs 6mins


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Becoming Familiar With The Trainer Again

The weather in GP today was a little uncertain, it looked like it was going to rain but the clouds just kind of hung around and didn't do too much. AD and I were not excited about getting outside on the bikes so we decided to set them up on the trainers and do a spin inside. We warmed up for 30 minutes and popped in the Chris Carmichael training DVD. It is a tough, tough hour interval session and I quickly realized that all the outdoor endurance training I've been doing has not really helped my short-fast-power ability. I was struggling after the first 20 minutes. AD kept me motivated and I made it through but I downed 2 bottles of water in 90 minutes. She even kept me going for another 30 minutes and I was surprised to feel so drained after two hours but it was a good effort on the bike for today.

I've been wanting to increase my brick workouts and it was a difficult day to start but after getting a little food in me I felt better and went out for a run. The day was nice and cool which was great but I was running on really tired legs. I finished the first 5kms in 19:55 and pushed it a little bit for the second 5km finishing with a total time of 39:31. I'm feeling really good about my progress in all three disciplines and I'm really looking forward to next weekend's race in Sherwood Park. There will be some strong competitors there but I'm ready to get in the open water and give it everything I've got. I guess we'll find out how I feel soon enough, the season is in full swing now, I love it!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

79 Days and Counting

The weather has been beautiful up here in northwest Alberta and AD and I have been getting in some good training. We're not able to train together as much as we used to but we both know what needs to be done and we are constantly motivating each other to stay focused. I've been having difficultly staying on track with all the travelling I've been doing for work but I did manage to get in a swim and short run on Monday in High Level.

I arrived back home on Wednesday and after so much driving, I was eager to release some pent up energy. I went out for a run and felt so good I ended up running 30kms in 2:08. Not the fastest run but it's all about long-slow-distance now, I want to build up my endurance as much as possible in the next three months. The date for IM Louisville is approaching fast and it's the work I put in now that is going to determine how well I will race at the end of August.

One nice surprise I've had this year is that my swimming has improved dramatically. I've never considered myself a swimmer but I think my muscle memory has developed enough now that I can swim for an hour fairly comfortably and push myself in a race, unlike other years. I'm actually really enjoying swimming now and it's nice to be out of the water close to the lead guys in most races. I'm going to try to up my workout distance from 3kms to 4kms during the next three months just so I can feel comfortable with the IM distance. Here's hoping for a great Ironman swim, I know I'll have done all the training for it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Needing AD for Energy Today

Today was a tough, tough ride. The wind was out in full force and we were planning on doing a long ride today but after the first 40km I was ready to call it a day. I was spent after facing a 40km/h headwind and getting absolutely no where. I remembered something Amber told me "the wind will just make us stronger and the winds in Hawaii are relentlous" well I guess I better get used to it riding in northern Alberta. I'm committed to doing whatever it takes to get to Hawaii but days like today really test me. I wasn't in a good mood to start with, my legs were really tired from yesterday and the wind and road conditions were horrible.

I made it to Beaverlodge and I was going to turn around but AD convinced me to go another 20kms to Hythe, she wanted to get in a "long ride" which meant doing 100km+. I'm glad she did because I started to feel a little better and after getting to Hythe I hit 60km and then had the wind at my back. The ride home was fast and a lot of fun but I was still really tired. I managed to get through the day and felt good to get in 120km on a day I was really, really struggling. I owe this training day to AD, she was the one to keep me going, thanks babe.

Finding Myself on the Bike

I think I'm feeling more and more comfortable having a relaxed morning with AD and then starting out around noon. It takes up the entire day, but it's a great way to start off and spend the morning with Amber.

We decided to try out a new route, South on highway 40 which is very hilly and has absolutely no services. It was a terrific ride, the scenery was incredible, the wind was not a factor and I was cruising. I finally found a solution to the unrelenting saddle sores, two pairs of bike shorts! It sounds ridiculous and I look like I'm wearing a diaper but at least I wasn't riding in pain any more.

Finished the out and back in 3hrs 11mins, 105km. Looking forward to do it again today.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Looking For Inspiration

After the Boston Marathon I've been having difficulty focusing on training on a consistent basis. Although I've still been working out regularly, I haven't felt a sense of urgency about Louisville yet. I know it's impossible to stay motivated every month of the year or even 6 months of the year but I've felt really depleted and tired after the race in Hinton last weekend and after the race in Edmonton. All the travelling with work has made it difficult to stay focused on training and to maintain a routine that I can get into.

I had a fairly average 15km run today and coming home I needed something to re-energize me and get me thinking about the big volume coming in the next couple months. I could tell Amber has been feeling the same way and usually we help each other get out of our training funk but it's difficult when we are both tired.

I looked back at some older posts on my blog and I was inspired by the video of Lance on my blog February 18th. That video always makes me feel excited about training and competition, about pushing yourself to new heights and finding levels within yourself you never thought possible. To me he was the master at preparation and knowing what he needed to do to get ready for his focus race. I've included the video on the side menu as the 4th video "for anyone searching for a little inspiration."

I feel focused again and excited to set two more personal bests this year, one at the Stony Plain 1/2 Ironman and the other at Ironman Louisville. I know I'll do it, thanks Lance.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Understanding What Works For Me

It was so nice to get back home yesterday after being on the road for over a week. The trip wasn't as financially prosperous as I'd hoped but I laid some good ground work and I know it will pay off in the coming months. The highlight of the trip was definitely spending the weekend in the mountains with AD and taking part in the Hinton, Mountainview Triathlon.

Today after a long day of doing administrative work in the office during an incredible day in Grande Prairie I was happy to be home and get on my bike. Amber said it was perfect weather out there and she had a great ride so I was itching to go. I started out towards Bezanson (our usual route) and was a little surprised to have a headwind on the way out. It was a bit of a sufferfest and I was hoping to go a lot faster but after 43mins of struggling it was nice to turn around and have the wind at my back. I finished the 50km route in 1:21.04 and felt fairly good throughout.

I was doing some thinking this weekend about the progress I've seen with my training and racing over the last couple years. Many athletes try to find that secret formula that will raise their ability to the next level. I'm not saying I've discovered it, but I think I have found what works well for me. I've started to see some real results in all three disciplines after concentrating on intensity. Of course you need to have a base to work from but the intense training and racing Amber and I have been doing over the last couple years has really help raise my overall fitness and I've seen it with setting PR's in every race I've done so far this year.

The intense bike classes and cross-country races we did over the winter have really paid off and I'm super happy about how my season is going so far. It is also the reason I enjoy racing, there is no way you can train intensely enough to push yourself the way you do in a race. Racing teaches you to get used to the suffering and allows you to push your body further than you ever thought possible. My body is even recovering a lot faster and I am not hurting as much as I used to in previous races. Here's hoping the intense training translates into a good Ironman, of course I'm going to be working on a lot of base work but I intend to keep up the hard intense efforts right up until August 31st. I know I'm going to qualify for Hawaii again if I can keep up the hard efforts and push myself to a new level. Guess we'll see soon enough.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Still On the Road

Well it's been over a week since I've been home, I've been in Whitecourt a couple days, Edmonton a couple days, back to Whitecourt, spent the weekend in Hinton and now I'm in Edson. A lot of travel with this new job and I'm beginning to feel like I live out of my car but I did get to spend the weekend with Amber and we had a great one in Hinton and Jasper. I was happy to start the weekend with a 50km ride on Friday night and couldn't get over how beautiful it was to be near the mountains again. It is definitely a wonderful area and I love the fact that this is part of my southern loop.

Saturday Amber and I wanted to get in a semi-long ride so we took a drive out to Jasper and rode the icefields parkway. It's an incredible ride with scenery to die for and a couple tough climbs to keep you focused. I wanted to see as much of it as I could and I was hammering the first 90mins but still only managed to get in 46kms. The way back was a lot easier and I finished the 92kms in 2:55. Amber took it easy and saved herself for the race on Sunday (probably a good idea as I was tired on the bike).

Sunday was the Hinton "Mountainview Olympic Tri" it was a great race, only 54 people and a real small town feel to it. It was the first time I've done an Olympic distance race in a pool and although I was slowed for the first few laps it turned out to be okay. I had a really strong swim for me finishing the 1500m in 23:33 and was 7th in the water. The bike was a really tough, tough course; the way out was mostly uphill and I was tired from Saturday's ride. I finished the first half in 35mins and felt like I was barely moving. The way back was fun and I managed to hold 40km/hr average for the back half and finished the entire ride in 1:05.32.

Then the real suffering began, the start of the run my legs felt like cement and it was incredibly difficult to maintain a steady pace. The first km was okay but from 1km to 2.5km it was straight uphill, ugh! What a time to be going uphill, that was tough. I suffered through it and I was happy when it was over, the nice part was at the 2.5km mark it turned into a trail run and it was absolutely beautiful! After the turn around I felt a lot better and recovered enough to push it on the downhill and back to the finish. I completed the 10km in 37:37 with the fastest run time of the day and a 1st place finish with a PR of 2:07.14. What a great race! I know I could still make some improvements on my biking and swimming so I'm going to keep up the training and enjoy the great Alberta Northwest. Amber had a great race too, finishing 1st in her age group and setting a PR of 2:31.13, great job babe!

1 2:07:14 Darin HUNTER 1/9 M3039 516 7 23:59 1:36 2 1:05:43 36.5 1 37:33 3:46
2 2:11:38 TEAM - FREAK N FAST 1/4 Mixed 898 3 23:00 1:32
3 2:17:00 Brent SCHLEPPE 1/10 M4049 530 14 26:38 1:47 3 1:06:50 35.9 5 43:33 4:22
4 2:19:33 John WINTERDYK 1/5 M5059 536 11 25:43 1:43 8 1:09:35 34.5 6 44:17 4:26
5 2:19:52 Brian CORBETT 2/10 M4049 533 1 21:57 1:28 12 1:13:11 32.8 7 44:45 4:29
6 2:21:13 Neil ROBERTS 1/5 M2029 547 22 28:46 1:56 9 1:11:33 33.5 3 40:55 4:06
7 2:21:28 TEAM - NAT-GLEN-KAT 2/4 Mixed 891 5 23:35 1:35 4 1:07:18 35.7 23 50:35 5:04
8 2:21:29 TEAM - CHARLIE'S ANGEL 3/4 Mixed 894 26 29:36 1:59 6 1:08:34 35.0 4 43:20 4:20
9 2:23:01 Gerrad LEWIN 2/5 M2029 541 9 24:57 1:40 22 1:18:21 30.6 2 39:45 3:59
10 2:24:09 Brock PHILIPS 2/5 M5059 546 6 23:40 1:35 10 1:11:38 33.5 19 48:52 4:54
11 2:24:26 Devon SMIBERT 3/5 M2029 886 51 38:55 2:36 1 58:41 40.9 15 46:51 4:42
12 2:25:06 Ian ELM 2/9 M3039 509 10 25:41 1:43 5 1:08:07 35.2 25 51:19 5:08
13 2:25:42 John KOVACS 3/10 M4049 518 36 31:38 2:07 7 1:09:00 34.8 8 45:05 4:31
14 2:26:23 TEAM - M241 1/1 Male 896 15 27:04 1:49 11 1:11:46 33.4 16 47:35 4:46
15 2:31:11 Kate WRIGHT 1/8 F4049 527 12 25:59 1:44 17 1:16:31 31.4 18 48:41 4:53
16 2:31:13 Amber Dawn MORRIS 1/6 F3039 508 18 27:42 1:51 20 1:17:24 31.0 10 46:08 4:37