First order of business is my Richmond Half Marathon race report. This report will be short since it was a fairly uneventful race.
1:27:53, 6:42/mile, 20th AG
Mile Splits: 6:55, 6:47, 6:47, 6:40, 6:40, 6:42, 6:38, 6:36, 6:33, 6:33, 6:34, 6:43, 6:33
The Chattanooga run course destroyed me and I managed to run myself into some anterior tibial tendonitis which took a few weeks to resolve. My initial post Chatt plan was to run the Richmond Marathon and take a crack at sub 3 but my post Chattanooga injury made me quickly realize that a marathon (let alone a sub 3 marathon) was definitely not in the cards. Once I was able to get into a good running rhythm again I decided to change entries to the half marathon. I had no illusions of a PR (1:24) but did think I could take a reasonable crack at my Shamrock time of 1:27. Since my volume was lower going into the race (and I wasn't able to do much speed work), I decided to start conservatively and build to a strong finish. My plan was to start at 6:50 and descend to 6:40's on the front half, and then come back strong on the back half with 6:25's-6:30's.
The day of the race was clear and very cold. In cold conditions I'm never sure how much clothing to wear. I opted to wear a tank top, shorts, arm warmers, gloves and a winter hat. Despite temperatures in the upper 20's at the start, I never felt cold during the race. However, the cold temperatures were hard on the joints and it took me well into the race before my knees and ankles stopped aching from pounding on the cold pavement.
My race execution was good but not perfect. I wasn't able to get up to speed as fast as I would have liked. I ran a well executed race but my splits were consistently 5-10 seconds slower per mile than my goal splits. Given my injury leading into the race, I was pleased I was able to finish the season with a well executed race and my second fastest half marathon of the year. Contrast this to last season where I closed the year at the Richmond Half with a debacle of a run where I limped to an ugly 1:33.
One thing that came out of this race was the realization that I need to become more efficient if I have any hope of closing the back half of my ironman marathons strong enough to run 3:25 and give me a real shot at Kona. A friend of mine took video of me during the race and it brought me to the realization that my slow plodding run style might be my biggest limiter on the back half of the run.
It's always a shock when what you see is vastly different from how you picture yourself in your mind's eye. The first thing I noticed is it looks like I am loping along at 10:00/mile pace (I am the gigantaur in the blue tank top towering over the people around me). Seeing this video made me realize that I need to increase my cadence and get more efficient ASAP. I followed this race with a gait analysis and have several keys to work on over the next few months to increase efficiency and clean up some of the technical issues in my running.
My focus over the next few months will be 1) building cycle specific strength with low cadence/high power sets; 2) working on run efficiency and increased cadence with agility sets and metronome running; 3) building core/hip/glute strength to prepare me for the next ironman build; and 4) have some fun trail running with the Hammer Tri Club culminating in the Hammer Tracks 22 mile Trail Run (www.hammertracks.com).
THOUGHTS ON 2014
2014 was a weird season for me. It was simultaneously the healthiest and unhealthiest season I've ever had. From an overuse wear and tear standpoint this was the best season to date. I managed to avoid nagging day to day injuries that have plagued me in the past. However, this good health was interrupted with two significant accidents including being hit by a car in April, and crashing at 35 mph on the Keene descent at Ironman Lake Placid.
Despite the crashes I never gave up on myself (or my plan) and persevered to have my best Ironman and crushed a long time goal of going sub 10 hours. I am really pleased with what I accomplished in the face of significant challenges. My bike power and confidence is skyrocketing, my swim is strong and my overall fitness is at an all time high. While I've thought that I was close to a Kona breakthrough in the past, as I move toward 2015 I think this goal is more realistic than ever.
2014 also brought a relationship with a new coach, Eric Limkemann. I cannot sing his praises enough, and I am 100% certain that he has the formula to get me where I want to be. His plan is insanely challenging and he somehow manages to walk me to the edge of my breaking point while forging me into a stronger athlete. I am excited for what we can accomplish going into our second year together. I have lofty but attainable goals in 2015 and I plan to assault the Ironman Texas course in May. I plan to do everything I can to finish that course under 9:20. This is challenging but achievable and I have faith that Eric will have me ready (if I can stay up on two wheels).
In many ways the crash at Lake Placid was the best thing to happen to me. In retrospect I was pretty miserable going into Placid. I had lost my sense of fun in the sport and turned triathlon from a fun hobby to a miserable daily grind. I was spending far too much time alone in training and had isolated myself from others in pursuit of Kona. The crash made me realize how fortunate I am to do this for fun and made me thankful for the people in my life that make all this possible. Placid snapped me out of my mental funk and I re-calibrated my whole perspective. In that vein I have changed the name of my blog from "Embrace the Suck" to "It's All About the Journey". While I still embrace the suck of training as much as anyone, this is a simple reminder to myself to chill out, enjoy the journey and focus on the people that help me get to the finish line.
I made it a goal to stop comparing myself to my competition, focus on having fun, work out with other people, and make some new friends. I've tried to break my anti-social tendencies and enjoy the aspects of this crazy sport that are so enjoyable. Chiefly I made it a point to enjoy the company of awesome people whom I've met through triathlon and who all inspire me in some way, shape or form. Specifically, I have enjoyed becoming better friends with Trey McFerren, Lindsay Wohlford and the super friendly folks at Crossfit Addict. I look forward to many months of suffering on the trainer in the back of the CFA gym while those beasts throw around huge weights (the mere sight of which makes me want to cry). Additionally, I have had the good fortune to meet and become friends with Dave Gallagher whose attitude and inner strength in the face of an unimaginable family tragedy is inspirational beyond measure. I look forward to helping him and his foundation in 2015. (SpeakUp 5K)
In closing I recently came across these two videos which I've watched multiple times. If you have a few minutes and want to be inspired, I highly recommend watching each!
As always thanks for taking the time to read and I appreciate any/all feedback!
E:60 "Catching Kayla"