Inspiration

Loading...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Journey (Orangeman 70.3)

I traveled non-stop for 70.3 miles only to end up exactly where I started… just a lot more tired and in a lot more pain… but I loved it. I can’t put into words exactly why I loved it so much, especially because I know I forgo all logic in knowingly putting myself through the grueling physical, mental and emotional demands just for the pleasure of finishing… But I will try and explain why I and maybe so many of my dear friends are so passionate about all things swimming, biking and running… I will try…

It starts with the possibility… the maybe… some call it a dream or the dare to hope, but it typically starts with the thought, “I wonder if I can?” to “Sign me up!” to “I can’t believe I just did that!” Completing a triathlon or any endurance event for that matter requires not only sweat, but more often than not, tears. I’m exaggerating a little here… but just a little… and yes, I’ve shed a couple of tears of my own along the way. Why? Because we don’t really expect to be moved during exercise... and that’s exactly what this is in the most simplest of terms… exercise. We go into it knowing we’ll work… that we’ll sweat, but what we discover about ourselves along the way is what draws us in to truly love the journey as much as the destination. And it’s not only in the training sessions… it could be during the actual race…

A lot goes through your head when you are moving for as long as I was (not a good thing by the way). 70.3 miles swimming, biking and running leaves a lot of room for thoughts and emotions to run wild…. It was something like this;

1.2 mile swim:
Nervous… Anxious… Nauseous… Anxious… Calm… Angry… Exhilarated… Relaxed… Relieved…

58 mile bike:
Hopeful… Nervous… Impatient… Relieved… Happy… Anxious… Fearful… Drained… Joyful… Frustrated… Embarrassed… Relieved… Anxious…

13.1 mile run:
Dread… Dread… Dread… Hopeful?... Dread… Dread… Embarrassed… Pure Elation… Thankful… Overjoyed… Proud!

It was exactly in that order. It was painful and difficult and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped… the first few hours was easier than the last 2, but I’m okay with it. Why? Because only a few months ago I was the one thinking; “I wonder if I can?” Today I know the answer to that… “wondering” if I can has been replaced with “knowing” I can regardless of how I did.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you do… a 5K or a marathon… a sprint distance triathlon to a half or full Ironman, none of that matters… it’s the journey in faith in finding the person God made you to be and proving it… and proving it to yourself is where the real reward is…

Oh, and maybe there’s some reward in having your own personal cheering section…

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh, the pain!

I’ve been tinkering with my running form. I‘m making the transition from being  a mid-foot runner to a forefoot runner... which some experts call “natural running”. It’s been a couple of months now, and I feel as though I may have it down… almost. Admittedly, I still need some work…  and what I mean by “some” is “a lot”. Why the change? For every reason the pro-natural running community touts… easier on the body, running longevity, efficient bio-mechanics… but the most important reason for me… speed. For a slow runner like myself, speed is the goal.

I started picking up bits and pieces on “natural running” in different articles. The articles mostly talked about the barefoot strike and the inherently natural inclination for the foot to want to strike on the forefoot and not the heel. … coupled with a brief meeting with Crossfit Endurance Co-Founder Doug Katona several weeks back who preaches that the best runners are forefoot runners, I started to wonder, sometimes aloud, “Can natural running improve my efficiency and speed?” So I made the change to find out.

The changes have been slow and painful, which my calves can attest to. But I’m not certain I could blame the running form entirely as I also changed my shoes to a natural movement shoe… which for me was a pair of Nike Frees...



These shoes are a just a hair more shoe than the Vibram 5 Fingers, which I don’t think I can ever wear…  but these Nike Frees are light, airy, and offer almost no support… perfect for natural running.

Most of my runs were short runs of 4-6 miles. The first few times out, my form would degrade and I would catch myself landing with a thump. I wasn’t getting it. It wasn’t until I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougal did I start to understand how un-technical running could be and just how much easier it is to “run easy”. The books is about a hidden tribe of Indians deep in the Copper Canyons of Mexico that possess an ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury and a great race between them and some ultra-marathoners from the U.S. But the underlying point to the entire book is that we were inherently made to run. He calls it evolution… I call it God’s wonderful design… but I’m trying to prove that out a little by putting his knowledge to practice.

I can honestly say I see some improvement. I ran a 5K over Labor Day at a 7:55/mile pace. Not a blistering pace, but fast for me and a vast improvement over my 8:15/mile pace I had put up just a couple of months before. It was enough of an improvement to me that I figured I had it down… speed and efficiency was in my grasp. Fast forward a couple of weeks to the present and all I can do is wish that I could walk without a limp. Yes, an injury while using my new running technique has put my upcoming half iron distance race in jeopardy…

It happened at the Pacific Coast Tri this past weekend from my bike to run transition. I think I may have been a little over zealous in taking the run course on. Instead of a light easy stride off the bike, my pace was pounding and furious out of the gate… but close to mile 1 I felt a sharp pain in my Achilles. The pain soon took hold and my sub-23 minute hopes for the 3 mile run became a pedestrian 24:26.

So I’ve had time to reflect… time to regret a little as well… I don't think it was the form, but the practitioner... I don't blame the shoes, but I do blame the runner... but regret aside, all I can do is hope and pray that I’ll be ready to take on the 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike and 13.1 mile come September 25th… lesson for me this time? Ease into anything new… from new running form to running shoes… even from the bike to run transition… ease into it… after all, those few minutes I think I’m gaining really mean nothing when I’m  injured and laid up wishing I could lace up my shoes… and man, am I wishing I could go out for a run right now.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Too much water can be bad for you?

Did you know you can actually drink too much water? I guess I had actually known that as well, but didn’t understand why. I remember a few years ago a local radio station was holding a contest for, if my foggy memory can recall, a Wii gaming system. This was back when the Wii was hard to get and actual fights were erupting in stores for them, and people were actually selling their kids for them… or something like that. Anyways, the fall of civilization aside, this particular radio station came up with what seemed like a benign, safe contest to hold as a radio gimmick… they picked several people out of a crowd and held a water drinking contest. That’s safe right? It’s just water… heck, we’re made up of water… no way drinking too much water can be bad for you, right? Unfortunately not a single one of those people putting on the contest asked whether or not it was safe to consume gallons of water in a single sitting… so for one contestant, it turned into an awful morning… the worst kind of awful…  she died. Died of drinking too much water!
It’s called Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a metabolic condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside the cells. When the amount of sodium in fluids outside cells drops, water moves into the cells to balance the levels. This causes the cells to swell with too much water. Although most cells can handle this swelling, brain cells cannot, because the skull bones confine them. Brain swelling causes most of the symptoms of hyponatremia.
I only bring any of this up because I think I suffered from a mild case of hyponatremia yesterday after my brick workout. I had gone on a 46 mile bike ride through Santiago Canyon and followed that up with a 6 mile hill run. Because I forgot my Gatorade at home, all I had with me was a 24 oz bottle of water… I didn’t think it was a big deal, because I downed a liter of water right before starting the bike ride. Unfortunately by mile 28 of my bike, I had no water left. My buddy Brad had handed me one of his Gatorade bottles before we started the ride, but before I could get a drink of it, it had popped out of the bottle holder when I hit a rough patch and spilled out onto the road…that totally sucked! I knew my sodium levels were depleting though, because the amount of sweat dripping from my body was unholy and I was constantly wiping the eye burning, stinging sweat away from my eyes just to be able to see the road. During the loop back, I knew I couldn’t go much further without something to drink, so we stopped for a Gatorade at a convenience store. The confusion and irrational behavior must have really affected me I only bought one… no water either… so dumb! I drank it down in what seemed like a single gulp… and I was still thirsty. But it helped and got me through the bike. After the bike, we started our run… a painful run through hills that I barely survived, fighting through some cramping, and mental fatigue. After the workout was finished, I grabbed my emergency bottle of water that was in the car… nearly swallowed the entire liter of water within 10 minutes but I still felt thirsty… I just couldn’t hold any more liquid… So during my drive home, I felt nauseous… a little dizzy. I arrived home and drank more water thinking I was dehydrated. After a quick shower and a quick bite to eat, I started working on cleaning out the garage with Elijah… still sweating and still so thirsty, I grabbed more water and a diet coke… a big mistake… I grew more and more nauseous… I felt this way for hours yesterday. It wasn’t until I had some salty food did I even start to feel better… to feel whole again…
Lesson here? Don’t let your wife talk you into doing chores around the house after a long workout! I kid, I kid… (sort of). Actual lesson here is simple… Gatorade is your friend… sodium is your friend… chores, not so much…