Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Now We're Rolling

This weekend is always one of the highlights of the year for me, May long-weekend training camp in Jasper. It was an incredible time with some great friends and wonderful family time. I know that Amber has really taken on a lot by herself with Ryder and I appreciate everything she's done to make my Ironman dream possible this year I can't thank her enough. I want to throw everything I have into this race and have a great result and then take a few years off, spend time with family and just enjoy being healthy and active with both of them. I never thought of Ironman as a sacrifice before, sure the training was hard but it's just what Amber and I did with our weekends in the summer. Now I know what a huge sacrifice it is for athletes with families, no resting on the couch when you get back from a long ride- the baby has been screaming all day and you need to bounce him. Amber has done an incredible job with Ryder during this challenging stage of his life and I'm going to be her support crew next year or whenever she wants to take on a 'big goal' again.

This weekend was full of tremendous training, we arrived on Thursday afternoon and Ryder survived his first big car trip, a few more pit stops than usual but he did great. I woke up Friday morning to get in a good swim and had the rest of the day with A & R to check out Jasper, we drove up to Maline Lake only to find the resturant wasn't open until the next day. Both starving we drove back down the mountain to have an excellent lunch at Jasper Park Lodge. We went back to our cabin and everyone else started to trickle in, we let them get settled and had an 'easy' run with Steve, Robert, and Richard. I say 'easy' because Jasper 'easy' is nothing like Grande Prairie 'easy' running in the mountains is so much fun and I love to hammer the climbs and Steve was right there with me so we had a blast pushing each other for 10k through the trails.

Saturday was a short swim (2500m) followed by a long bike (170k), the ride started off well enough we rode out to the BC border; fairly flat terrain but Richard wanted to start off fast and I should have known better, he never does as long of a ride as we do. We rode back to town and out towards Marmot Basin and once we hit the climbs that's when the suffering really started, two 1500m climbs later I was spent but I really wanted to get out to Athabasca Falls so Robert went back to the cabins and Steve and I did the other 55k to the falls and back, it was tough. I took care of my nutrition and had a drop box at Edith Cavell so I ended the day fairly strong.

Sunday was another fairly long ride (105k) to Maline Lake and it is 50k uphill and 50k downhill, so much fun. There were a TON of cyclists on the road and it was a blast flying past them, I have to admit I loved that part. The descent was very cold at the beginning but once you came down about 10-15k it was fine. We got back to the cabins in good time and I attempted a T-run but again the hills sapped my legs and it turned into a run-walk. I learned to stay positive on the times I did have to walk and that's really going to help for IM. All in all a fantasitic weekend with friends and family and I can't wait until next year! Ryder loved it too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

In The Bank

Well if April's training was a disaster and I really needed to have a solid May then I'm off to a good start. I don't want to jinx things but so far I've been healthy and my body seems to be reacting to the training well. That's not to say I'm not tired or sore, there is plenty of that, but it's nice not to feel sick all the time. Saturday was only my 2nd ride outside for the year and it was a BIG one, we planned on doing the Rycroft-Wanham-Bezanson-GP loop which is about 174k. I think at the beginning we were all planning on doing another 6k around the lake but by the time we got back home we were all so wasted- there was no more riding or running, no way. We also planned on a 5k run but the first long ride of the year and you have to expect that it's going to take a lot more out of you than usual.

Things started out rough, 5k in and I got a flat, another 5k later Geoff got a flat but fortunately that was it for the day. We took it easy out to Rycroft, it's a nice somewhat downhill ride for about 67k and we were all using each other well drafting in the crosswinds. A quick refuel of the water bottles and we were off again, another 23k with a massive tailwind was a lot of fun but I kept thinking how much I was going to pay for it later in the ride. The road out of Wanham is very isolated and we didn't see much traffic which we were thankful for because with the crosswind coming from the west we were lined up diagonally across the road to stay in the draft. At about 100k we hit the hills and the day started to heat up, we started off with arm and leg warmers but by this point it was getting hot out.

As soon as we started climbing it was obvious I didn't have the climbing legs I normally have and I guess that was to be expected, I've done very little climbing in the past few months just focusing on endurance building. I was hanging on at the back of the group and started to go cross-eyed, I had my front wheel straddling Robert's back wheel and the next thing I know I'm rubbing against his wheel. Ooops, I rode into the ditch and managed to stay upright but Robert looked back fearing the worst. I was okay just a little embarrassed- I pulled myself out of the ditch and latched on to the group again and managed to get through the hills with a little energy left. A Roctane gel help revive me and I was feeling okay once again for the next 40k until we hit Bezanson. I think everyone was secretly dreading the tough slough back from Bezanson because we all knew it was a 25km stretch that was going to take an hour in the wind.

We started off okay, each one of us was taking turns pulling at the front for a couple minutes and with 4 of us it was nice to have a break. However in the heat it became apparent that everyone was hurting badly, at one point I was leading with about 13k to go and I looked back and the other guys were gone. I said to myself that I could soft pedal until they caught up but Robert told me earlier to go ahead that he was cramping badly and was just going to soft pedal slowly into town. So with only a short ride left I gathered all the energy I could to finish things off in a terrible headwind and managed to get in 175k in 5:22, I'll take it for the first long ride of the year. It's obvious I need to concentrate on my climbing in the coming weeks but I have time to improve on that. Put that ride in the bank and I'll be looking forward to a couple more big deposits in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tough Times

Every month I track my training pretty closely, sometimes it's motivating other times, it's not. April was one of those months where it didn't seem to matter what I did- I was going no where fast. I think every athlete at some point has certain times in their lives where they feel like they are trying to do everything they can to make forward progress but nothing seems to be working. After having a really good solid month of training in March, being injury free and feeling good, April set me back big time. I was sick for a total of 10 of the 30 days and the remaining time I was just trying to get in training here and there whenever I could. Not a great confidence builder as I prepare for IM CdA but I'm still trying to be positive, realizing that I have a great base built as I move into May. The weather is finally looking like it will be great, I didn't have one outdoor ride in April because of weather or sickness.

I'm also getting a broader perspective of what it means to be able to do Ironman, it is a tremendous sacrifice for a new father to leave the family and train for hours on end. I'm not sure how a lot of families manage because when I'm not training, I'm helping Amber with laundry, meals, cleaning, or just holding Ryder. I love to do those things but it's quite a change from both of us finishing a 6hr ride and crashing on the couch for the next 8hrs. I'm sure it gets a lot easier as Ryder becomes older but after this race I need to take some time off for a couple years, do some fun family things and perhaps when he's older look at a destination race again- with the family. Don't get me wrong I'm really happy I can do Ironman in June but this year more than ever I'm going to enjoy a break from the long training and focus more on fun activities. Based on how my body is reacting to the training load in April, I think it will enjoy the break too.