Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jasper Training Camp

May long weekend is always a great time- the weather starts to improve, the fitness that I've worked on over the winter finally is put to the test and there are great times spent out riding with friends. Traditionally Amber and I use this weekend to get in some great riding and we enjoy all the incredible scenery that Jasper has to offer. Jasper is such an awe inspiring place that it's impossible not to have a great time on all the amazing roads and trails. This year Amber is taking some time off training so unfortunately I didn't have my favorite training partner but luckily I had some of the Speed Revolution crew join me. I'm still recovering from my Achilles injury so I wasn't able to run but we got in a couple good swims and road rides.

Friday was a travel day, I worked in Edson and Jasper while Amber and Harley hung out and by the time I was done work I didn't have any motivation to do anything. 5 hours of driving and 7 hours of work will do that to you. Amber got us settled in the hotel and we hung out with some friends, we finally had a chance to meet Kevin- a great individual who's new to triathlon but I know is going to do well if he keeps up with all the tremendous training he's been doing. Saturday we all met for a swim and everyone was full of energy and ready to go! Robert and I blasted out a great 2500m felt great and were ready for a ride after an early brunch. The plan was to do Edith Cavell climb, an amazing 14km climb on a closed road with NEW pavement, switchback roads, leg burning gradients, plenty of other riders to catch and the best scenery in the world. Robert and I kept each other honest and the pace high and after 12k of climbing we hit snow, close enough to the top. We made the long and fast decent and waited for Bart and Kevin to join us. After about 15 minutes we new something was wrong and another rider told us that we had to go back up, one of our crew had a flat...ugh, really. The climb was hard the first time but doing it again... ouch. Fortunately after a couple kms of climbing we saw Bart and Kevin coming down so everything was fine and we headed back. Kevin had a sidewall puncture so his day was done but the rest of us wanted to get in our 100k for the day so we headed out towards Athabasca Falls.

The hard lung burning efforts were over after Edith Cavell but the legs were toast at that point so we just kept the pace honest and made it out to the falls. On the way back we decided to push things with the tail wind so we did a little drafting practice making sure that neither of us started to slack off. After 90k that day we were spent and we just cruised into town the last 7k. Showers and dinner at Jasper Park Lodge and everyone was ready for bed by 9pm.

Sunday was a bike-run day and the plan was another 100k up to Maline Lake. I love this climb, it's steady enough so that you're not grinding yourself into the ground but tough enough so that you get all the benefit of 50kms of climbing. Again there were a lot of cyclists on the road so Robert and I had plenty of people to catch but we kept the pace high and managed to finish the 50k up in 1:55, pretty good considering I don't think I've ever done that climb in less than 2 hours before. Lunch at the restaurant up there and a change of clothes from Amber who drove up with the girls to me us and we were set for the chilly decent back into town. Back in Jasper the plan was to do a 5k run but unfortunately my Achilles just wasn't ready for a run yet so I had to sit it out.

Monday we were all feeling really tired, Bart's shoulder was acting up so he sat out the swim but Robert, Kevin and I went to the pool for the final workout of the weekend. Amber designed a good 3x500m, 10x50m program for us and although we were really feeling the fatigue in the 500m sets we blasted out the 50's. The weekend done we all said our goodbyes and headed off in separate directions. It was a fantastic time had by all in the most incredible place in the world to train and I'm looking forward to the next one... perhaps next year?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not Exactly The Race I Was Expecting

Well yesterday was the first race of the season and I'm almost wondering if it's also going to be the last. I went in feeling pretty good but I knew I wasn't going to have a tremendous result. I've been battling with Achilles issues all year and with the concentration on harder-faster efforts this year it seems to have gotten worse. I know I can't ignore the fact that I'm at an age where a lot of athletes who continue to race frequently and hard eventually start to experience injuries but I guess I just keep hoping that my body will hold together for 'one more year.' Honestly last year I had the season of my dreams, finishing GWN in 4:11, IMC in 9:44 and going to Kona so I don't have a thing to complain about. However it's always a little heart-breaking when you know you're not going to perform at that level again. I'll still compete and probably compete pretty well but I know that if I keep doing what I'm doing I'm going to rupture my Achilles and I don't want to never be able to run again.

I've always loved competing not for the thrill of winning but for the love of the activity itself so if I need to slow down to be able to do it longer, then so be it. I'm limping around really badly today and it's going to take a good week for me to feel normal again so I know that I'm not going to be able to get in the training I need to have a stellar season. That's a part of life and I'll be happy to continue to be active and race when I can but I'm going to have to be a lot more selective and not race as often as I'd like to.

The race itself was a lot of fun and even though a few of us ended up making a wrong turn we still got in the required distance and I put myself in that place I don't like to go too often. With the wind yesterday it was like running into a storm but I battled through and ended up winning, great result on a tough day. I just wish I didn't suffer the after effects of pushing that hard, limping around for the next week is not what I would consider reasonable for a local running race.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Time to Face the Voices

You know the ones I'm talking about the 'voices' that tell you this hurts too much and that you just need to stop what you're doing right now. This weekend is the first race of the season for me, the Brian Harms Memorial 10 miler and although it's not an "A" race I'm still hoping to do quite well and push myself again. I had a pretty good winter with the S.R. 5 mile race series but this is twice as long and twice as much pain. I've done this race for the past three years and it's always a nice race to dust off the racing cobwebs but it hurts like hell. I'm mentally preparing to suffer out there but you're never quite ready when it happens. The past two years I've been within 2 seconds of the same time, 58:45 and 58:47 so if I can pull off anything close to under an hour I'll be happy. I know I have the ability to pull off 3:30/km (56:00), but this is a rolling course and it can knock the stuffing out of your legs especially on the second lap so I'll go out and just try to silence the voices in my head and trust in the fitness that I've been working on. We'll see how it pans out this Sunday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Patience Friends Patience

I think if I look back at some previous blog posts I'd probably find one somewhat similar to this one in early May or late April. It seems like as soon as the snow is gone and the weather starts to feel good outside I think I should be in phenomenal shape and I should be able to put in 20hr training weeks without feeling a thing. Well the body just doesn't work like that and after 6 months of lower volume training I've been feeling the effects of some longer rides and runs.

I was able to get in a 100k ride last Saturday and I was like a kid in a candy store, I wanted to hammer right away but I've bonked really bad during an early season ride doing that so I decided it would be better if I just hung with everyone for the first 50k and rode back a little harder. The ride went really well up until the final Nordic Centre climb back into town at the 92km mark. By that time my legs had done all they were going to do that day and I was struggling just to turn the pedals over.

It was nice to final get outside and get in a long ride, well long for what I'll be doing this year. I think it was a good decision not to do Ironman this year, my body simply can't handle the long training days like it used to and I'm going to enjoy having a bit more free time this summer to do some other things. The one thing I do love about training is close ties you have to all your training buddies, getting together after a hard swim, bike or run to swap stories is a lot of fun. It doesn't matter what the training is but usually longer training days have better stories. I still have great plans for this year and the first race is in 9 days, only a 10M running race but an early season effort over 10 miles is going to have lots of good suffering stories.