Monday, October 31, 2011

ASSessment

After the competing in the White Lake 1/2 Ironman back in May I had a really sore butt for days. My glutes felt like I had knocked out a set of 100 squats at max weight, sort of like back in my YMCA days with the world's greatest trainer, Russ Kilpatrick. Thinking about those days now makes me laugh. I was so in awe of my 13 year old female teammate strapping on a weight belt and easily squatting 2 huge 45 pound plates plus the bar. MB you are such a badass!
MB, Russ, Me circa 1994 at YMCA Nationals, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Anyhoots, the days after the race I was struggling to sit down . . . on everything! After I got over the soreness a tightness lingered in the top of my right hamstring. Not an injury and nothing that prevented me from doing anything, I could just feel it and I didn't like it. I tried everything from massage and chiropractic work to seeing a doctor specializing in sports injuries. After two bouts of prescribed physical therapy I knew I still wasn't getting to the core of the issue. The off season is a great chance to address any old/developing imbalances and to prevent future injuries so I am committed to taking a proactive approach so that I could start the 2012 season healthy and without any lingering issues.  I decided to call Mark Kane, an Inside Out regular and local Physical Therapist/Personal Trainer. His work is diverse and well respected in the triathlon community and beyond. I didn't think I had much to lose by agreeing to meet with him and undergoing a short evaluation to assess my biggest asset, yep you guessed it . . .

I will admit at first I was a little skeptical but it did not take long before I was kicking myself for not seeing Mark sooner. Through some exercises to determine a diagnosis he found that it wasn’t a hamstring issue at all but an irritation of my right sciatic nerve which makes complete sense now. It is very difficult for me to describe to someone what it feels like. I would not call it pain and it doesn’t necessarily “hurt” but when I am in a chair I continually fidgit to relieve the pressure on my backend. I am already a fidgiter so most people probably would not notice the increased amount of fidgeting . . . so what if I am spelling out “Mississippi” with my butt . . . it is fun and makes me feel better.



Mark confirmed I have a few issues . . . yeah I know what you all are going to say so shut it . . .

1)    I stick my butt out placing unnecessary pressure on my spine. Yeah well what self respecting girl doesn’t?
2)    The tension on my sciatic nerve was confirmed via the slump test and could be triggered and released with just small movements of my neck. You know you are difficult when you can be both a pain in the ass and a pain in the neck at the same time.
3)    Tenderness and weakness in my glute medius and minimus (my favorite) causes instability for my lower extremities. Further confirmation of my lack of grace. 

Luckily the list ended there. Pheeeeeeeew!!

So Mark set me up with a few exercises and a prescription for Trigger Point Dry Needling. Doesn’t THAT sound fun? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cashing Checks

So yesterday I cashed a big check. I was awarded $1500 for winning the Inside-Out North Carolina Series put on by Set-Up Events. This is the second time I won money for competing in a triathlon. The first check I received was for winning the Cheraw Sprint Triathlon in the Go Tri Sports South Carolina series. For how much money we put into triathlon I do have to say it is quite generous for a production company to give some of it back. Every year I say I am going to track every little triathlon expense and I never do. If anyone has I would love to see your numbers! Maybe this year will be year. It is not unheard of for someone to drop close to $2000 in last minute stuff and swag at one of those big races with the big expos. I have seen it.

I am not going to lie, winning the money is a very nice bonus to a long season of triathlon related expenditures but I can’t say it makes me feel any more proud of my accomplishments this year. I had a great year of racing money or not.

Initially at the beginning of the season I was not going to go for the series. I thought it would be too difficult to do and still maintain focus on my priorities this year. But my training partner and friend, Johnny Garage, spend a lot of time encouraging me to go for it.  I did not know about the cash prize and initially he bribed me with food so that I would race at Stumpy Creek, the bonus event for the series. I guess he knows me all too well. Humored by the big check scene in Happy Gilmore, Johnny Garage spent the rest of the summer taunting me with the idea of getting “the big check.” So the day of the banquet rolls around and Johnny Garage and I go out for a quick long run before we hit the road. Getting back to the car he tells me to look in the truck and there it was, the big check. There are some moments you simply cannot duplicate.

The Big Check
 It is fun to race and train for triathlon but it would not be worth it if I could not share it some of the best people in the world. Triathlon has given me the opportunity to meet and train with some awesome individuals. 

My mainstays

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Season Recap


Yep that is my season in a nutshell, broken down to its basic elements. I had a pretty strong season this year and I am very thankful for that. I took a little bit of a hiatus from 2006-2009 and my return to the world of triathlon has been marked with continued improvement and excitement. I am definitely pleased with my results this year but I see a lot of places where I can improve or at least fine tune.

So to start let's get over the swims. If you look across the board there is little variation among my swim splits from race to race distance to distance. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that race courses are not marked exactly and it is relatively easy to make a long swim longer. I did not swim any of these races with a GPS device so I am relying on the estimated length of the swim to calculate my average pace. Belews by far was my fastest swim which can be explained by one (or a combination) of the following reasons:

1) Course was short
2) Time trial start meant I had less crap to swim through
3) Cooler water temperatures
4) Blueseventy speedsuit

Stumpy Creek was by far my worst swim. It was a week out from Munice and at the moment I just wasn't feeling much in the game. One thing I do want to point out is that I started swimming with my BlueSeventy PZ3TX at Lake Norman and continued to use it  at Worlds and Belews. These three races contain splits almost equal to if not faster than my two races with a wetsuit, White Lake and Nationals. Swooooooooon . . . .

The three half Ironmans I did, hands down, contain the best swims of the year. White Lake is like no other lake you have been to. The crystal clear water, cypress trees and knees, and Spanish moss make it a beautiful swim experience and a great open water swim for those new to open water swimming. This year's swim was threatened by a little bit of fog at the beginning but once the clouds burned off, the water was smooth and clear as glass. The 70.3s in Muncie and Vegas contained courses that were smooth to navigate and relatively easy to sight. Neither race had overwhelming warm water even though they were not wetsuit legal and neither race was plagued by underwater growth one might see when watching Swamp Thing (Swamp Thing picture courtesy of http://superheroeslist.blogspot.com/ I think I saw this guy during the swim at Nationals).

My bike splits were pretty even across the board, even more so than the swims! I guess this means I have either dialed in my bike for the 70.3 distance or I am simply not pushing hard enough on the sprint courses. My slowest bike average was in Vegas. The course was significantly hillier than any other race I did. Unfortunately even to this day I wonder if I could have gone a little bit harder on that course. Maybe I will have a chance to go again in 2012 and get another run at it. Ironically my fastest bike was paced on the Munice course. The course was fast and flat but windy. I think the reason this race is my fastest is because I raced smart and used the wind to my advantage. I did not fight the wind but instead I saved my legs to do most of the work when I had a tailwind. I learned a lot using a power meter this year and realizing even the slightest incline or headwind can create a huge spike in watts prematurely fatiguing the legs. While I did not actually race with a power meter I was able to feel how much I needed to back off when against the wind and how much to turn it up when with the wind.
My favorite bike course was in Vegas. Watching the bike course roll ahead over me into the desert was breath taking. I do not think I wiped the smile of my face the entire ride. To this date this is the prettiest bike course I have ever been on. My least favorite bike course was at Nationals in Burlington, Vermont. While I am looking forward to doing the race again in 2012, the roads were horribly cracked and the course was crowded. There was a lot of traffic running on and next to the course which maybe made the race seem extra tight. Hopefully they will drum up a slightly better route next year.

One of my goals this year was to run a 7:45 pace run leg at a 70.3. I came close in Vegas on a course that was either uphill or downhill. While I did not hit my "number" I consider my goal more or less met. The bike and run was hillier and harder than my other two 70.3s and it was still a hot race. Maybe most importantly, I like that my run splits continued to improve from White Lake to Muncie and finally Vegas. At least I know I was on the improving track! The sprint races are just a crap shoot. I was surprised to see Lake Norman has my fastest run split as it was mentally the worst run course of the year. I was so alone on the course, not seeing a single racer coming or going, that I feared I was lost. Maybe I ran faster out of shear panic? This is also the race where I completely ran past the finishing shoot flustered by a small group of the best cheerleaders on the planet. Smooth, that's what they call that little move in triathlon speak.

My goals for 2011:
1) Qualify for 70.3 Worlds - check
2) Run a 7:45 pace for a 70.3 – sorta check
3) Win the NCTS - check (I didn't think it was possible but I could at least try, right?)

Of course I now have 2012 weighing heavily on my mind. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Truth

I have been thinking a lot about my next blog post and I have had a lot of great experiences in the last month to blog about but I came across this song as I was scrolling through my ipod today at work. Now that my 2011 triathlon season has come to a close I have had a chance to reflect on the experiences I had and all that I learned. I probably learned more about triathlon and myself this season than I have during any other. The outcome is I feel more motivated now than ever.   Maybe it is this mindset that draws me to this song? While there are several interpretations of its meaning (and I will go ahead and admit the video is weird – don’t judge), I find this song to be about inner struggle. The struggle behind countless hours in the pool and on the road, day in and day out, sunrise to sunset . . . . having the confidence and faith in your abilities to put everything you have out on the course on race day . . . seeing all of the open doors in front of you and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves . . .  Of course this is probably just another simple love song whose meaning I have completely contorted until there is no doubt in my mind its lyrics can be applied to triathlon-ing.  Alas.
The truth is that I never shook my shadow
Every day it's trying to trick me into doing battle
Calling out 'faker' only get me rattled
Wanna pull me back behind the fence with the cattle


Building your lenses
Digging your trenches
Put me on the front line
Leave me with a dumb mind
With no defenses
But your defense is
If you can't stand to feel the pain then you are senseless


Since this,
I've grown up some
Different kinda figther
And when the darkness come, let it inside you
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in myself
Truth.

I've seen a million numbered doors on the horizon
Now which is the future you choosen before you gone dying
I'll tell you about a secret I've been undermining
Every little lie in this world comes from dividing
Say you're my lover
Say you're my homie
Tilt my chin back, slit my throat
Take a bath in my blood, get to know me
All out of my secrets
All my enemies are turning into my teachers

Because
Light's blinding
No way dividing
What's yours or mine when everything's shining
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in ourselves


Truth.