Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Point zero zero five!

My lack of posting this year has been indicative of the way my year has been going, which is to say it hasn't been going much at all. I had about two weeks to get ready for Wenatchee Marathon after my injury. Being creative and aggressive is necessary for the two-week training plan, but I got it done. Two weeks after that was the Lincoln Marathon. How do you recover from a marathon at the end of a two-week training plan and train for the next one in two weeks? There really isn't a good answer for that other than do the best I can, which is exactly what I did. Amanda and I do Wenatchee every year during our anniversary; moreover, I'm the only one to have done the marathon every year, so I choose not to skip it. This is the only race I've done every one of.

Lincoln is the National Guard Marathon Championships, which I have the honor of doing. I represent the Washington Guard. My body was angry with me for doing this double. It's normally not a problem, but I'm normally in a lot better shape. At this race, I went for a sub 2:45. I felt I owed it to Team Washington to give it my best and put my neck on the line. It was tough from the start, but I was holding strong, managing my fluids and nutrition and hoping a lot. Hope never ran out, but my energy did. Around mile 18 I started to fade. I backed off, but it wasn't enough. Around mile 22, it turned into a difficult struggle. My miles slowed to over 7 minutes, but I pressed all the way to the line. I lost a lot of time, but managed to cross the line in under 2:51. I think I was 2:50:38, but can't recall and am too lazy to look it up. I was around 17th overall and 7th or 8th in the National Guard. Not bad considering the circumstances. The entire run I kept thinking about how certain I was about my chances of going sub 2:37. My how things change so quickly.

Following Lincoln, I found my left knee and both hamstrings giving me a lot of grief. Injuries are pretty frustrating, but these were better than the calf injury. I could still run as long as I was careful and kept the pace under control. That meant between 7:30 and 8:00 pace. It's a lot better than the 9:30s when my calf was out. Injuries have been really rare for me, so I still consider myself fortunate during this time when I'm injured more than I'm not. It's been hard to stay motivated and patient. Those two things just don't seem compatible. I managed to keep my appetite and gain 9 pounds. My bike had only been ridden once (yes by me) since April, but I've been swimming a moderate amount. It might sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself, but I'm not. I'm enjoying the absence of constant fatigue and pain of training and all of the extra time that I have in my schedule due to the lack of training. I miss the training at the same time.

Last Sunday, 17 May, was one to remember. I still work nights, so I didn't quite realize how close I pushed my nap to the point I had to leave. I started packing my gear at 8 AM for a race that was at 9. I left at 8:18 and showed up at 8:56. This was actually fairly fun for me. I unloaded my car by the transition area. My team mate Mike McCoy took my bike while I got my gear. Amanda took my $25 and got me signed up. I finished at the car, passed my transition gear to her as I ran to registration to sign my life away and scooted off to the start line with about a minute to spare. Mike pointed out where my bike was and it was time to start.

I'd been predicting it since last year. Josh Hadway is going to be a monster to deal with as he settles into multi-sport. He's a fiery racer with tons of talent. That was on full display as soon as the race started. He bolted away from the field so fast that it was almost humiliating. On the other hand, getting whooped comes a lot easier when I know I'm not even close to my best. He put about 5 seconds on me in the first 30. Even as tough as my last 10 weeks have been, I knew that kind of ratio wouldn't hold out. It didn't matter though. Catching him on a bike I haven't been riding wasn't going to happen anyway. I was content to chase McCoy and others.

I survived the run without quitting or getting too far behind (just over a minute for 2.44 miles). Josh must have slowed down to only around :20/mile faster than me. Transition was a nightmare as I didn't have things set up, didn't have an extra pair of shoes and was not in a good spot. I'm not complaining. I have nobody to blame but myself if I cared to do that. These are just details that explain why I was in there long enough to bake a cake. Once out on the road, I found myself falling further behind McCoy who was slowly catching Sam, while Josh was pulling away from everyone. I held on until two riders passed me. One was Nate Duncan and the other was that other guy. I was able to hang with them, falling back and fighting my way up to them numerous times.

We hit T2 and this transition was only marginally better than T1. I figured the best I could do at that point was 4th, but even when I'm hurt and out of shape I lie to myself. For about a half mile I hung with Nate and that other one guy, then proceeded to make a move. I'm not sure why. I really didn't care, but it's just how my brain works. I'm the running version of Seabiscut (horse movie). At the end of lap one, I could see McCoy and Sam well in front of him. What the heck ... why not try to catch them. So I cranked it up and managed to close the gap steadily. Only a furious finish was able to close the gap to McCoy. The finish was my closest in any race ever. According to the chip time I was .005 behind him. According to the photo finish, I was about 6" in front of him with my lean. I really needed him there to make me work. If I had been by myself, then I would have given up long ago and cruised on in. My second run was better than my first and only 31 seconds slower (vs. over 1:00 for the first 2.44M run) than Josh and faster than the rest of the field.

Now the challenge is to peak up as well as I can for Armed Forces Triathlon Nationals. My body responds well to high intensity over a short period of time. I went into Spring Thaw tired after a hard week and a race a couple days before, so my condition wasn't as bad as Josh made it look. He would have whooped me either way, so there are no regrets. My swim and run are most important for this draft legal race. I'm also on leave this week, so I can do whatever I need to do to get ready. I've already lost 3 of those overeating pounds and have had a couple more really great workouts. My best races always come at the end of the summer. Despite my best plans to make this my best year ever, it looks like it will be the same old story with a much tougher beginning. Josh inspired me to get my fitness back an McCoy helped stoke that competitive fire. Things are looking a little brighter for me toward the end of May.

That said, I have no pics. In fact, I have very little of anything nowadays after my computer crashed and I lost everything until I get the computer back from a computer lab. There are no guarantees, but they'll try. I didn't realize I had anything I'd miss if the computer crashed. All my pictures and a couple years worth of training journals ... both irreplaceable.