Sunday, June 28, 2009

Achilles Injuries

Well, I've just gone through a very big reminder. I strained my Achilles last October leading into the 70.3 World Championship. The strain had subsided in the off-season and had only come back during my track interval work this spring. However, it was a very slight annoyance. That is until the Griskus Olympic race. This was my third race in three weeks and I was probably due for something to flare up. My Achilles was a little irritated following the race, so I decided to have some ART work performed on it. I like the ART technique for muscle strains but a good friend of mine pointed out how tendon strains are a whole different injury. Immediately after the procedure I felt better. However, during my 75 minute run the next day, I noticed something was wrong right away. My Achilles felt tight and irritated. By the time I finished the run, it was really inflamed. I tried to do a very easy 30 minute run the next morning, but the Achilles became inflamed again. I proceeded to ice and rest it for the next two days. Then I had some fartlek intervals scheduled. I felt completely fine during the warm up and the first fartlek, but by effort number 2, I could feel the tendon tightening again. I finished the run and immediately iced the tendon.
I then took the next four days off from running. I also made sure to keep the icing sessions going. I ran this morning for one hour and forty minutes as a progression run. I felt great and was very relieved to not feel any tightness in the Achilles. There is multiple lessons I've re-learned from this episode. 1. Do not ignore any injury 2. Do not treat tendon inflammation the same as muscle tweaks 3. Do not run hills while experiencing an Achilles injury 4. Ice is still one of the best remedies out there 5. Always respect an injury, your body is telling you something

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Griskus Olympic Race Report

I had a very interesting week leading into the race. I was still carrying a serious cough hangover following REV3 at the beginning of the week. I did a swim workout with my friends, Showky and Ian on Tuesday that actually went well. However, I was coughing under the water during the intervals.

I went to sleep early on Tuesday night and when I woke up Wednesday morning, I knew that something wasn’t right. I felt sick to my stomach, achy, and very tired. I proceeded to sleep the entire day and when I did finally wake up at 4 in the afternoon I was only able to take down pedialyte and crackers. I went right back to sleep and I did not wake up again until the next morning.

I felt so much better Thursday morning. While, my stomach was still a bit queasy, I was able to eat breakfast and do an easy 30 minute jog. I weighed myself Thursday morning and I tipped the scales at my lightest weight since my senior year in High School, following my tonsil removal (143.4lbs). I spent Thursday and Friday taking in smaller meals and eating lighter snacks and by Saturday morning I was feeling a lot better.

Race morning turned out to be fantastic weather to compete in. It was overcast and on the cooler side. I went off in the first of three swim waves. I started the swim and was immediately shocked that by 100 meters into the swim I had already lost a big gap to the lead group of swimmers. I chalked it up to the recent sickness and figured I was having an off day. I also remembered that I usually get my butt kicked during the swims at the Griskus race series, since a lot of local high school swimmers will show up to race. I focused on finding a rhythm and ended up swimming solo for the entire duration. I exited the water and ran across the timing mat in 23:54, which was a course PR by over 3 minutes. I still got my butt kicked but it was a great learning experience.
I hit the bike and was focused on having a steady, consistent effort. Coach Paul had requested that I dial the bike effort back a bit again and try to really focus on the run. It felt really comfortable to bike with a consistent effort and I continue to learn more and more. I had one minor hiccup at mile 22 at the bottom of a hill. It was a classic mistake. I tried to shift down into my small chain ring as I had already started to climb the hill and my chain jumped off of the rings. I attempted to shift up and get my chain to jump back on, but it didn’t work and I had to pull over to get it back on. Another important lesson was telling myself to relax and not rush trying to put the chain back on. It probably only took 10-15 seconds to fix. I ended up riding over a 4-minute PR on the bike course.
When I started the run, I felt very fresh and I tried to focus on good cadence and form. I’ve done this race 5 times now and I know the run course very well. I wanted to have a consistent effort and see if I could tap into some of the recent running improvements I’ve seen in training. I was still a bit hesitant to really push into the redzone, but I wanted to make sure I was leaving it out on the racecourse. Coach Paul had said that he wanted to see a 33 handle 10k run soon and I ended up coming in at 33:13. My overall time was 2:00:15, which was a little over 8 minute PR for the course. Results:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 24hr Bug

Wow, I just came through a full day of sleep. I'm not joking about that either. I went to sleep at 8:30pm Tuesday night and I got a for a few brief stints during the day on Wednesday. I didn't fully wake up until 6:00am Thursday morning. It was a weird experience. I hit the scale this morning just for fun and I weighed in at 143lbs! I have not been that light since I got my tonsils out my senior year in high school.
Following the REV3 race, I had caught a cold mid-week and I had not been able to shake my annoying cough. During my swim on Tuesday, I was coughing under the water during the intervals. Obviously, in hindsight, my body was worn down and my immune system was very compromised. The interesting thing about this bug was that it was not accompanied by vomiting, just fatigue and achy joints. There is no substitute for sleep, though, and I feel a lot better today. Hopefully, I'm turning the corner.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Healthnet Triathlon

I had a week of recovery leading into this race. Every race is different and every recovery is different. My training week was pretty light this week with some active recovery workouts that helped to flush out my legs. My legs finally started to feel better on Friday just in time for Saturday morning's Healthnet Triathlon. My immune system was running a bit low all week. At midweek, I started to feel a cold coming on. It wasn't a heavy cold, but one of those annoying stuffy throats, headache, with a slight cough.
I was a bit anxious heading into the race with the cold and tired legs, but I was excited to race and have a good tempo effort. The swim is beautiful at this race. It takes place in the housatonic river at Indian Well State Park in Shelton, CT. The water was nice and flat this morning, although the current was running pretty well and it seemed that most swam around 4 minutes slower then last year. I felt pretty good during the swim and I just focused on finding a good rhythm. I ended up finishing the swim as the 3rd male from my wave. Friend and teammate Ian Ray led the wave out of the water with a smooth, consistent stroke.
Once I got through T1 and onto the bike, I focused on finding a good power level and I tried not to spike my effort too high. My legs felt ok, but mentally I was just not ready to go into the pain zone today. I was able to move along the bike course with a consistent effort and I was 1st body into T2. With a 3 wave field, I wasn't sure where the younger guys were as they started 5 minutes behind our wave.
As I started the run, I tried to focus on finding a good cadence and settling in. The run course is hilly and challenging. I was trying hard to keep my pace up without going into the redzone. That strategy became challenging as I hit the hills. My gameplan was to run with a consistent effort and see how things were settling in on the two loop course. The two loop format is very nice to get a look at everyone on the course. It's always nice to get a feel for how people are feeling. I finished the run in 35:14. It was a very interesting race to learn how my body would react to a race effort 6 days after a half IM. Results:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

REV3 Race Report

I can say without hesitation that I just competed in one of the most well run races I’ve done in my triathlon career. The volunteers and police support on the course was first class. Every turn was well marked and all the intersections were extremely safe. Although this was a first year event, from an athlete’s perspective, everything flowed smoothly.
The whole weekend leading up to the race was very enjoyable. The Team Timex athletes that live locally and those that were in town for the race were invited up to the Timex headquarters on Friday to meet some of the fantastic Timex employees and tour the facility. It was a great opportunity to catch up with teammates and learn a lot from the experts at Timex.
Race morning: I had a good pre-race routine as I made sure to have a solid breakfast three hours before the race start. The only glitch of the morning happened when I opened the trunk of my truck when we parked at the race site and I realized I had left my water bottles (with all my calories) and gel flask at home in my refrigerator. It’s one of those things that no matter how many races you do; a good reminder list of necessary items is just priceless. After I had my moment of “deer in headlights” fright, I quickly called teammate Ian Ray, as I knew he was planning on traveling up to the race to spectate for the day. Fortunately, I caught him as he was heading out his door and he was able to grab my stuff.The transition area was a buzz of energy, as Heather Gollnick was busy interviewing Pro and Amateur athletes all morning. The effort and professionalism of this race was very impressive. The swim start was very organized and the crew quickly moved each swim wave through the coral and to the edge of the water for departure. My wave was the fourth of the morning: 1. Pro Men 2. Pro Women 3. M30-34, 4. M35-39. My game plan was to try to get out quickly, get some clear water, and see if I could find some feet that I could draft behind. I noticed two guys moving quickly up the middle of the splashing and I veered over to get behind them. I was able to get right on the feet of one of the guys. However after about 200 meters, all of a sudden he stopped and started breaststroke. I was able to slide by him and bridge up to the guy in front of him. I settled in and found the pace comfortable. One thing that is very interesting about getting a draft in the swim is how much it can really bring the perceived effort down. I knew the pace was pretty good as every time I tried to swing out wide and swim up past, I could only get up to the guy’s knees. So I settled in and proceeded to slap his feet every couple of strokes. At the halfway point I had found a good rhythm and I decided to try to move past one more time. This time I was able to move past, but the reality was that we were both swimming about the same speed and he just tucked in behind me. This was fair, though, since I had taken advantage of his draft for the first half. I realized as we were coming out of the water that the guy was my friend Mitch West. I felt very comfortable throughout the entire swim in my Aquasphere wetsuit and I was looking forward to the challenging ride ahead. Swim: 27:12

I tried to move through transition with a steady effort. I was out onto the bike and excited for the opportunity to ride my Trek SSL over the rolling hills. My coach, Paul Regensburg, had asked me to follow a gameplan that included holding back a little bit on the bike. I had just come off my biggest running volume week ever and he thought it would be a good race to hold back on the bike and see if I could really attack the run. I followed the game plan and I focused on monitoring perceived effort, heart rate, and my power from my Cycleops power meter. The bike was going well and I was focusing on taking my fluid calories on a regular basis. Then at mile 27, in the middle of the 7-mile climb, I was tensing up a bit and my left hamstring locked up on me out of nowhere. I quickly reached into my back pocket and grabbed an endurolyte tab. I’ve had some cramping issues in the past on the bike, but previously it’s happened on warmer days. I think the effort from the climbs and the fact that I must have been sweating more then I realized played into the cramping. The endurolyte tab quickly did its job and I was able to continue climbing without further issues. The remainder of the bike went well. At mile 36, there was a 4-mile out and back section that was a great opportunity to get a look at the pros in front and the fellow amateurs. I came off the bike in 2:25:01 and I was pleased that I had followed the game plan. I felt really good and I was excited for the run to see if the recent training would pay dividends.
The first mile was downhill, which was nice to help to get the cadence into gear. I felt really good running in my K-Swiss K onas. I was a little nervous, as I had never felt so fresh coming off the bike before. I found a good rhythm for the first 4 miles. As I was approaching the six mile marker my hamstring and inside quad starting cramping pretty severely. I was still about a half-mile from the next aid station, but I was just about at a downhill section. I was able to hit the downhill and the pounding of my stride on the gravel worked to loosen my leg up enough to make it to the aid station where I took another endurolyte and grabbed everything they were offering. I’ve never really experienced cramping issues on the run before and I was really nervous. I had been feeling really strong and I wanted to see if I could put a good run effort together. For the remainder of the run I grabbed everything the aid stations were offering and I even took a
gel at mile 8.

Whatever you've gotI’ve only taken liquid calories, during the run section, on all of my races. I’ve always been too concerned about GI issues. Well, this time I was more concerned about cramping and I didn’t want to have to stop and walk. So I guess the lesson is, you never can predict the variables of a race and all the preparation in world can still leave openings for first time factors. The attention to volume that I was giving to the aid stations seemed to pay off as I felt well fueled for the remainder of the run and my energy levels stayed high. I saw a lot of Timex teammates on the course in addition to Ian, Keith, Tristan, and Ben. The support and camaraderie on the Timex team is just fantastic.As I came into the finish line, it was apparent that fatigue was starting to settle in as my form was kind of all over the place.

arms to the right, legs to leftMy family was able to make the trip up to see the finish and it was a tremendous feeling to see my three little boys as I crossed the finish line. I finished the run in 1:20:07 and a final overall time of 4:15:03. I was really happy to learn that I ended up as the 1st amateur and 10th place overall.I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this race. It was a very challenging but fair course. I feel that REV3 put on one of the best races that I’ve ever participated in.