Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Photo: 3-hour gravel ride, 8:00 am, 75 degrees, Linn County, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 5,800 yds (ytd 26,400 yds.)
Bike: 133 miles (ytd 3,351 mi.)
Run: 22 miles (ytd 740 mi.)

Iowa... America's breadbasket

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Video: 3-hour hike-a-bike, 8:00 am, 41 degrees, Ptarmigan Pass, Summit County, Colorado

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 0 yds (ytd 20,600 yds.)
Bike: 101 miles (ytd 3,218 mi.)
Run: 19 miles (ytd 718 mi.)

2009 was a good year for me. Multiple age-group wins, a couple overall podium finishes, healthy from beginning to end…

Then 2010 arrived, and I was injured during the first triathlon of a very young season (thank you, IT band); at a race I have done every year, 19 years running. That nagging ache I should have listened to months before was now screaming loud and clear, “You are screwed!”

Weeks later, and thanks to a newfound appreciation for massage therapy (thanks, CJ), stretching, rest and ice, I am ready to start 2010 all over again. I could have tossed the season away (I had already missed one scheduled race), chalked it up to increasing age or bad luck, and looked straight to 2011.

Or, I could have “stayed small,” racing little local events and impressing my kids by, potentially, adding to the hardware hanging in the closet. It would have looked good and I would have felt…


Instead I opted to get stronger by losing. Yes, losing. I write this after having my butt handed to me this week.

Days ago, I loaded up the car, racked a bike on top and made my way up beyond 10,000 feet in Colorado, far, far out of my comfort zone, to run the La Sportiva Vail Hill Climb. I knew before leaving my Midwest home that I had no chance at victory or even placing anywhere near the top of my division, much less overall. Would I even finish? The pack of athletes I was used to running with would be out of sight before I took one step.

I was okay with that. This was about me trying something different in somewhere unfamiliar; racing against my personal clock instead of against familiar competitors on the roads I know inside and out. I intentionally stacked the cards against myself. I wasn’t used to the terrain; I was far from acclimated; I knew no one at the race…

…and I loved every minute. I was a beginner all over again. I loved the views, the smells and sounds, and even the burning in my lungs. The thousands of vertical feet were killing me and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I didn’t have the stamina or even the right shoes for the run, and I couldn’t have cared less. I was working hard and feeling very alive for the first time in weeks.

In the final standings of the event, I got destroyed. Look for my name and you’ll need to keep scrolling. But in my psyche, I won big. The year had started over. This was how I felt a quarter century ago when I first began this lifestyle.

In the few days since that event, I've trained far above the treeline; running, hiking, riding my mountain bike, pushing my bicycle - and my limits. It hasn't been easy, but it's been simple to walk out the door every morning and afternoon. Comfort zone? Hardly.

I’m healthy again (though not quite in race shape), happy and set to step it up for the rest of 2010. Next up? The Xterra Sugar Bottom Triathlon back in corn country. It's a well-established series in a first-time location. I’ve never raced Xterra, but you know what? I have a pretty good feeling I’m gonna like it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Photo: 3-hour hike-a-bike, 7:00 am, 38 degrees, Colorado Trail

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 800 yds (ytd 20,600 yds.)
Bike: 75 miles (ytd 3,117 mi.)
Run: 21 miles (ytd 699 mi.)