#56: Final Stop 2011 Redemption Tour. Finish strong or limp-in?

Somehow last week got ahead of me.  I woke up Monday AM and realized “yesterday was Sunday” and I never wrote my blog….doh!  It’s funny how twisted my brain gets when my calendar is thrown off.  Thursday Thanksgiving and the ensuing long weekend was enough to totally mess me up…….so my apologies to all of you who wrote emails to me to relay the stories of how, like a butterfly flapping its wings in another part of the world, your entire week was thrown into a hurricane with my lack of blogging, I am truly sorry.

OK, so there were none of those emails…..but I press-on.

If you HAVE been reading along (and BTW, thanks, I’m over 4500 reads, more than double my goal for this blog) you know that I’m coming up on the final stop of what has changed from my attempt to achieve the “Red-iculous” to one related more closely associated with an “attempt for Red-emption” for 2011……

Of course, the actual tour will continue until 8/12/12 when I’m hoping to be getting the better of an ultra-distance-triathlon and achieving the “Red-iculous”……but since May of this past year, when my first attempt at Ironman didn’t pan out exactly the way I wanted it to (as in swim – bike – crash & burn – trudge), I’ve been committed to getting more serious and going back and besting those events (or distances) that have gotten the better of me in my (now 3 year old) endurance racing career.  

From the bottom….3 stops done, 3 to go.

  • 5K redemption? Not sure this was a major goal for me, as 5K has never really been my focus……but having felt like I could do better, I put it on the radar.  In July I checked it off my list by taking a minute off my time at PSE&G Teterboro 5K and put myself within striking distance of cracking 19 minutes a personal goal.  Redemption Grade = B+
  • Oly Tri redemption? This was definitely one I wanted to get the better of.  In 2010 was my very first triathlon and although I felt prepared, between a failed nutrition strategy, excessive heat and very limited understanding of how tired I’d be coming off the bike, I was not a fan of my performance.  A week after the 5K, and with very limited training (esp swim training) I took 22 minutes off my time at NJ State Tri and put myself within striking distance of cracking the top 10 in my age-group.  Still something to be desired here (shoulda, coulda if I’d trained) but relatively pleased with the improvement. Redemption Grade = B
  • 1/2 marathon redemption? Having only done one 1/2 marathon (2009), I was primed to take a stab at this event this year.  Again, it being my first, I had the fitness but not the race experience……and it hurt me.  I blew up somewhere around mile 8 and coasted the rest of the way.  In Sept, I made my way back to Virginia Beach to see if I could redeem.  Again, training for this event left a little to be desired so I knew going in I wouldn’t be at the top of my game, but figured I’d be in a position to redeem nonetheless.  Still felt like the race got the better of me some, just didn’t feel great throughout, but managed to take 25 seconds/mile (+/- 5.5 min) off my previous time and put myself within striking distance of breaking 90 minutes, a big milestone (and would put me in the top 15 in my age group for this event).  Redemption Grade = B-
So where does that put me now?

Well, the tour is certainly not over.  The 3 “bigger” events are still to come.  The marathon, which I’ve yet to have a race that I’ve felt good about, is less than 1 week away.  My first marathon was OK, but sort of an environmental disaster.  Super cold (25 deg) day making for a long, lonely run.  Missed my goal by 17 minutes.  I followed that up with a second attempt 6 weeks later (generally a bad idea) and found a course that wasn’t exactly setup for personal bests (narrow, lots of people, etc)……managed to do worse.   Followed THAT up with a super hot, dehydrated attempt in Utah as part of Ironman and did even worse.  Not exactly the trend one might hope for.  This is leaving me a little nervous because I know I’m in a ton better shape, and now have several races under my belt (the first marathon was my first race ever so I didn’t really know what to expect), but I also know I’m going to have to stay patient and run a smart race….oh and there’s this little hip thing.

The “limping-in” part.

Well a lot has happened over the last two weeks, so here’s the cliff-notes version:

  • Cranky R hip flared up, 
  • rested & started rehabbing, 
  • Turkey-trotted with my daughters, ate a lot, saw that Team Pro-Activity got robbed of it’s team title.
  • took my youngest for a minor (if there is such a thing) surgery, 
  • attended the end of season PACER party, drank a lot, sang some Johnny Cash, 
  • ate some more, started questioning if the hip would hold up for 12/10 Marathon, tried to relax & recover 
  • traveled to south Jersey to eat some more, launched a glass of wine across the room at in-laws house (dumb-ass mistake), ate some more, washed it down with some pie
  • woke up early & did some speed work, felt much better, 
  • rested a day, worked a couple long days, hip feeling better
  • did an evening 6-miler at race pace feeling pretty good, proclaimed victory over the hip (stupid) 
  • Paid price for speaking too soon, felt terrible the next day, began seriously questioning if the hip would hold, replaced my shoes, rested & rehabbed some more
  • saw that Team Pro-Activity’s score was reconciled and we got the “win” after all.  NICE.
  • admired the new sign at BaseCamp31 (progress)
  • shaved the No-shave-November “soul patch” offering
  • did a 7+ mile tempo run, felt 85%, had no-soreness the next day, felt much better although kept waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • did some thinking and reflecting
  • complained about people who complain (struck me as funny when I thought about it)
  • got a little jealous that my wife’s “shoe-tester” gig for Self Magazine has yielded yet ANOTHER great pair of shoes from K-swiss to test.  C’mon K-Swiss hook me up with some Kwicky Blade Lights!
  • attended a meeting with some PT students and future leaders
  • Did a race-sim 6.5 miler and pushed the pace.  Hip felt 85% (Woo Hoo!)
  • Helped to set up the Christmas Tree (which ironically was worse on the hip than the run)
  • Got some more rest and woke up feeling…..FINE! (YES!)
  • Did some modeling to see what sort of time I can run in Delaware.
  • …..and….well, this is where I sit.
Seem a little all over the place?  A little perhaps, but that’s only by normal-person standards…..

The Finish Strong Formula?

It’s finals-week:  What’s in is in, so there’s no sense in trying to “add to” my fitness.  My focus needs to be on making sure I’m doing the right things for the hip and (starting Wed-ish) packing myself full of carbs.  

I also need to make sure I’m deciding on a race strategy (including nutrition strategy) that I can stick with.  Right now it’s looking like a start easy, build the pace for a while and hold-on approach might make the most sense.  I’m fully expecting the hip to fatigue and then start barking so a slow first half and then making up time in the second 1/2 (aka negative split) is likely off the table……however pushing too hard early on is only going to bring on the point of fatigue that much faster……much to think about.

I’ve been doing a lot of “tempo” work in my training which is sort of a warm-up, speed-up, cool-down approach so that has some comfort in it, however I think the key above all keys is going to be NOT to obsess about my pace and rather dial-in to my perceived exertion.  This will keep me from focusing on my own mental barriers for pace and also prevent me from stressing too much too early.  I guess if I get all of the stress out now, maybe I’ll just “let go” next Saturday.

Hope to have a great story to tell next week, how everything went perfect and on my way to serious redemption, I ran a great race….but no matter what, I hope to relate that when I find myself in that trying, difficult part of the race, regardless of mile-marker that I will push on and find a way……because no matter what your circumstance, finishing strong is a choice.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the video below!


Mike E.