Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I love the Chris Rock bit from years back when he talks about a girlfriend who he's given gifts and money to, only to have her say: "Sure, you've done a lot for me; but, what have you done for me lately?" In other words, its not about what you've done in the past, but what you will do in the future that matters. I view my athletic accomplishments this way.

I have friends that have little display areas of their medals from various marathons and triathlons. I'm not big on public displays of my accomplishments. I keep most of my medals in a box that I'll look at once in a blue moon. However, each year I hang my medals from the current year on a tie rack post in my closet. Its a daily reminder during the year of what I've accomplished. By the end of the year, I've got six to ten medals dangling in my closet. I'll look at them and think about the good times had at these events and think that its been a good year. But come the new year, those medals come down. Sure, I've done a lot to keep fit, but that was last year. What have I done for me lately?

I'll enjoy this years medals for a couple of more days. As I take them down to go into the box with other past years reminders of past achievements, I'll take a moment to reminisce about the events I participated in during 2010. But then, I'll look to the new year and the new race season. I'll soon post my schedule for 2011. Fortunately, I have an event scheduled for late January, so the tie post will not stay empty for long. But it will be a reminder to look forward to the new year of training and getting ready for new accomplishments.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Good Company

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong won’t compete in a New Zealand triathlon next month because of a sore left knee.

Armstrong's entry into the Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival caused the sprint-distance event to sell out. The event was likely the beginning of his testing the waters again at triathlon in his rumored attempt to eventually compete at Kono for the Ironman World Championship. However, Armstrong recently tweeted: “Unfortunately can’t make the tri in Rotorua. Dealing (again) with some knee issues and unable to run for now.” The injury does not interfere with his cycling. Armstrong will still compete as scheduled in the Tour Down Under cycling race in Australia that runs Jan. 16-23.

So it looks like I've got company in the sore knee department. Like Lance, I've got a sore knee that is keeping me from running. Also like Lance, I can still ride and will continue to train on the bike. However, I will not be competing in the Tour Down Under. Sorry to disappoint anyone.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Water On The Knee

That's the diagnosis of what I thought was a pulled hamstring ligament. The good news is that my hamstring is fine. In fact, my doctor checked out my knee ligaments to make sure I didn't have a tendon issue. His opinion is that my ligaments are strong. Thus, this is not an injury that should stop me from exercising.

The bad news is that the cause of this stiffness and pain is that my right knee joint is aging. As I've been running marathons for almost 10 years, and triathlons for the last 3 years, the knee joint has taken a beating. It's pure physics. I'm a middle weight guy (175 to 185 depending on the training) and try to run in a non-pounding, foot rolling manner. But, the miles take their toll, and we each have a different genetic useful life of our various body parts. The body responds to knee joint stress by adding fluid. The added fluid caused the stiffness and soreness.

The good news is that after resting it for a week, it feels fine. I can continue exercising. I did a 12 mile ride Christmas day without any negative effects. I've been told to wear a light knee brace and take an anti-inflammatory before a long run. I've been told I don't have to give up doing the marathons, but to take them easier. I'll see how that goes in London in April before deciding whether I can still handle the distance.

For now, I finally scratched myself from doing the Goofy in Disney in two weeks. I haven't been able to train and I'm pretty sure doing a half marathon and a full marathon on consecutive days would re-aggravate the knee. Next up is a ski trip to Snowmass in late January, followed by the Miami Half Marathon at the end of January. I've ordered an exercise bike to help with these next two months of winter when its too cold or windy to get outside. My plan is to do more bike work and treadmill work to give less stress to the knee. Hopefully easing back in will allow the knee joint to keep from swelling. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the Season

I've read several triathlon blogs recently which run along the same theme: its a busy time of year; I'm eating too much; and I'm not getting enough (or any) workouts in. Well, I've come to terms with this downside to the holidays. Its call perspective. We come off of triathlon season and it won't be time to be fully back in the swim, bike, run habit until March. Of course, we'll all get in runs, indoor or outdoor bike training depending on your local weather, and some heated pool swims. But, on the whole, most of us are not getting a lot of training done during the holidays. Here is my response to Flatout Buddy!!!, who was looking for a quot of inspiration to easy his holiday training blues:

Realize its a crazy time of year, try to get in a short treadmill or stationary bike workout indoors, and enjoy the season. As for sayings, I can’t do better than Ecclesiastes in Seasons: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven...a time to plant, and a time to reap that which is planted...a time to break down, and a time to build up...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing...A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak...A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Now is the time to rest from last season in preparation of next season. In the meantime, take the season to appreciate what you did over the last year, and start planning for next year. But be sure to enjoy those you love, sing some Christmas songs, dance if you feel the urge, and have a cheerful drink with friends. Or as the song goes: “Tis the season to be Jolly.”

We can worry about getting back into our regular training routine starting in January. After all, isn't that what New Year's Resolutions are all about? Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oops!... I Did It Again

As athletes, we are eternal optimists. We sign up for these long endurance events as much as a year ahead of time knowing that there will be obstacles thrown in our path, that the training will be long and demanding, and that during the events we will have ups and downs before reaching our goal of crossing the finish line.

Sometimes we are so optimistic, we bite off more than we can chew. For instance, my buddy Tony is signed up for his first marathon, the Austin Marathon in February. I attempted to assist Tony in his first go at a marathon in this years Miami Marathon, but he had to bow out due to an injury. I admired his decision to give the marathon another go when he announced he intended to do Austin. However, he one ups himself this weekend by registering for the 2011 Ironman Louisville. I love the optimism to sign up for an event containing a marathon before you know you can complete a marathon. I know Tony can do this: he's done a couple of half ironman events and is a strong cyclist. But to sign up for a full ironman before knowing you can handle the marathon distance? That level of optimism makes me smile.

Then there is optimism to the point of being stupid. That would be me. I'm coming back from what I think is a overextended hamstring, I'm slowly increasing my long run from 3 to 6 to 7 miles. All is going well. I start to rethink that I can do the Goofy Race & a Half at Disney in early January. I decide to do a 10 mile run. Oops! Too much, too soon. For the next 3 days, my right knee is again sore and I'm limping. Boy, that was stupid.

So, Goofy is again scratched. Its time to make an appointment with my doctor and try to figure this thing out. I only hope its something that does not require surgery and can be healed with rest.

P.S. "Oops" wasn't the first word that came to mind when I realized I'd re-aggravated my injury.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday "Bonk" Training

God knows this is a hard time of the year to keep fit. We are inundated with holiday parties, gift baskets and baked goods at the office and at home. Its also a colder time of year making going outdoors to exercise less inviting. Fortunately, there is a simple way to help keep us from gaining too much weight during these trying, but fun, times. Exercise before breakfast.

An article in Wednesday's New York Times entitled "The Benefits of Exercise Before Breakfast" discussed a study that shows that exercising in the morning, before eating, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of all this excessive holiday eating. The study seems to indicate that by running or biking intensely before eating or drinking exercise drinks helps to keep us from putting on as many holiday pounds or becoming more insulin resistant.

I found a comment from a reader who referred to the weight loss benefits of “exercising in a fasted state”as “bonk training”. The commenter mentioned a September 2002 Bicycling magazine article that outlined the following "Bonk Training" workout:

1. Upon waking, drink 2-3 cups of coffee, up to 45 minutes before cycling. Don’t eat.
2. Ride at endurance pace- 60-70% of your max heart rate, or a casual pace that doesn’t make you pant when you talk.
3. Keep it up for 20-90 minutes.
4. You can do this on consecutive days, but mix in at least one normal breakfast per week.
5. Eat your typical breakfast as soon as the ride ends.
6 . Watch the blubber ignite!!

I don't usually eat much before a run anyway, but I've always been told to eat before a ride to avoid the bonk. I guess that's flipped on its head for shorter sessions. I don't think I could stomach 2 to 3 cups of coffee before a ride, but one cup along with only water in my water bottle is something I could handle. I don't think I would do this on a very long run or ride, but I can see it on a short to intermediate workout. I think I'll give this a try. Just to try to keep off those extra holiday pounds.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Maybe I Am Goofy

If you've kept up with my blog, you know I've been coming back from a right leg hamstring tendon issue suffered in the brutal 8 bridge crossing at Miami 70.3 in late October. I'd previously signed up for the January 8th & 9th "Goofy Race and a Half" at Disney World (1/2 marathon Sat./full marathon Sun.). I was pretty sure this raced was scratched from my early 2011 schedule.

Now, I feel there is a glimmer of hope that I can complete this event. I gave my leg proper rest and have eased back into running with no problems. I ran 7 miles last Sunday, a 5K speed workout on Tuesday, and today I ran 10 miles. So far, no soreness in the hamstring. Thus, I'm faced with a very short time to ramp up to the full marathon distance. I figure I can go for 13 on Sunday, 15 the following week, and 18 the weekend before the event. Ideal training? Hardly. My approach will be to take it easy, no need for speed, and see if I can complete this event. Given that I will not have done the traditional 20 mile run, I plan on doing the Galloway run/walk method. I've done many marathons (27), so I'm counting a bit on muscle memory, and treating it like a training run.

This decision is based somewhat on the fact that all seems to be OK with my hamstring. The other factor is that the good folks at Disney will not allow for a deferral. So, what say you, fellow marathoners and triathletes, is this a good idea, or am I Goofy?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Treadmill Speed Workout...Yes!!!

Having successfully run a 7 mile run on Sunday without post hamstring tendon soreness, I was able to try a treadmill speed workout this morning for the first time. Normally, I don't really like to get on the treadmill. I enjoy the outdoors. I usually reserve the treadmill for when its just too damn hot out during the summer months. But I've got a 5K coming up the day after Christmas. So it was back to the treadmill. I started off at a 9:30 minute/mile pace and took it up another half minute per mile pace every half a mile. I ended up doing a 6:30 minute/mile pace for the last tenth of a mile.

It felt good to try to go somewhat fast again. So far, no post workout stiffening of the hamstring. I may recovered. I'll slowly start to go longer again. I don't want to relapse. But its looking good. You don't realize how much you love to workout, until you aren't allowed to workout. Its good to be back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Shopping

Its the time of the season for Holiday shopping. Being a 21st century man, I don't think I've stepped into a mall so far this season. On-line shopping seems to allow for the most training, football viewing, and other leisure time. I've also been inundated with pretty good prices on the on-line sites I usually purchase goods from: for books, CDs, and DVDs; for my son Alex's most favored toys; and Performance Bicycle and Bike Nashbar for things for my bike.

In any event, I've been thinking about getting carbon wheels for the last year or so, but spending over $2,000.00 on a pair of Zipp Wheels? Let's just say that I didn't feel I was good enough to justify spending that kind of money on a set of wheels. I'm too cheap and I didn't feel I'd get enough performance bang out of those bucks. But Performance Bicycle offered a pretty good discount on a Reynolds carbon fiber wheel set, and my Cervelo tri bike has been very good to me this year. So, I pulled the trigger and ordered the new wheels. I hope my bike will be happy on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To Thine Own Self Be True

"This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."

This piece of advice from Polonius to his son Laertes in Shakespear's Hamlet seemed appropriate to me this last weekend. Several of my triathlon group were doing the Jiggle Bell 5K this last Saturday morning and encouraging me to join in on this festive holiday run. I knew that in recovering from my hamstring injury, it was probably best to skip this event. However, I got the classic peer pressure call to come out and run it easy. My buddy Tony suggested I do a fun run 10 minute mile pace.

I have to say, I was tempted. It's a fun event, with people dressed in reindeer antlers, Santa hats, and other jingle bells on their running shoes. I place a call to buddy John seeking his advice, which I get late Friday night before the event. He suggests that I come out and join the fun, if I think I can do it as a slow fun run.

Who am I kidding? I've never run a 5K race at anything other than near puke speed. Isn't that what 5K events are for: to see if you can go so hard that you feel like you're gonna puke? I've never actually puked after a race, but I've felt like it a couple of times. I find it hard enough to keep the horses in the barn at the start of a marathon. I'm going to go out and jog a 5K? I don't think so. Knowing myself, I knew I wouldn't be able to take it easy in a 5K. So, I took a pass and did an easy 5K treadmill run at home with that 10 minute mile pace dialed in. Not as fun, but the smart thing to do as I'm coming back to running.

The good news is that I've done a couple of these 5K runs, and so far, so good. I've got enough faith in doing my recovery smart, that I've registered for our New Year's Resolution 5K run on December 26th. I think I'll be ready in time for that. Who knows, maybe I'll puke after crossing the finish line? Not that that's my New Year's Resolution. My New Year's Resolution is to run the Jingle Bell Jog and some other fast 5K races in 2011.