The New Year Brings New Goals!


Resolutions 5k Run kicks off 2012

As we begin flying through the new 2012 calendar and say “whew” after running my first event of the new year, it is time to outline my goals for the year.  Instead of doing a half dozen events, I feel like 2012 should be the year of simple and calculated performance.  Let’s focus on one or two larger goals and let the rest fall in as they come.

Choose Your Distance!

Recognizing the diversity of the triathlon sport, 2012 will be the year to step up.  First, I will complete my first “long” course triathlon.  This means swimming a mile in the ocean (really?), biking fives time longer than a sprint, and running more than 3x’s the distance.  But, that’s how we roll and continually improve our performance.

The event of choice for my first long course triathlon is none other than my home town event, the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 25th.  Why travel when you can roll out of bed 45 minutes before start and still wait for horn?    To read more about the daunting 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run ahead, check out the course description.

After surviving my first long course, I thought it would be an excellent recovery opportunity to finish the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in the fastest time possible on September 30th.  After going long, the shorter distances are going to be a breeze (I say that now!).   The Carp Tri is my favorite and I can’t think of any better way to end the season with a solid showing on a course that I love so much.

Host Your Own Event When You Can’t Find It

But, my biggest goal yet, which is not necessarily directly related to training, but is fitness oriented, is going to be awesomer.  I am directing the Goleta Duathlon, held on May 20, 2012 in the “Good Land” of Goleta, California. The best part about a duathlon (run-bike-run) is the lack of swimming with the sharks! I am still in the process of obtaining permits, I can’t wait to share a bit of California’s Central Coast with other athletes and allow them to share in this memorable event.  From now to May 21st, life is going to be interesting.

Cooking Paleo, Cover to Cover

Of course, an individual needs their “fun” goals as well.  Life can’t be all training and race directing.  This year I decided to get back in the kitchen and cook!  The goal is to make every recipe (minus recipes with allergies) in a paleo cookbook from cover to cover.

The book for 2012 is Paleo Comfort Food by the Mayfields. I’ve owned this book for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really dive into the scrumptious recipes inside.  By the end of this year, though, I will be a paleo comfort food master!

Wish me luck!  I set the bar extremely high, but I know I can achieve!

What are your goals for 2012?

Mapping 2010 Workouts


One of the cool things about using a GPS enabled heart rate monitor, such as the Garmin 305, is that you can easily map your workouts.  Not only does this provide you with pace, distance, and elevation data, but it also gives you an entirely new source of motivation and inspiration.

Take the images below, for instance.  I took all of the data from Garmin Training Center and imported it into Google Earth.  Suddenly, in front of me was an entire year’s worth of workouts and races.   Wow…

Greater Santa Barbara and Goleta Area

You can see in the above map how concentrated my workouts are in certain areas of greater Santa Barbara/Goleta.  The waterfront of SB, to Goleta, the airport, and UCSB.  Included in this map are the UCSB Triathlon, Santa Barbara Triathlon Chardonnay 10-miler and my Jesusita Trail runs.

Looks I got around on foot and the bike, but one thing bugs me… how isolated the groups are. Perhaps, in 2011, I will have to bridge the gaps.

Carpinteria

I had some issues where Google Earth would not draw Carpinteria routes with Santa Barbara.  So, the above map is the area just off the right of the Santa Barbara/Goleta map.  Workouts in this area include the turn-around for long bike rides via the 150 and the Carpinteria Triathlon course.  Most of these workouts originated at East Beach in SB, but some started at the Carpinteria State Park.

Oxnard, Ventura and Points South

This area is where 2010 began, with the Boney Mountain Trail Run, which is mapped in the lower right of the map.  We also have the Ventura Triathlon, Strawberry Fields Triathlon and the Camarillo Duathlon (not as an official participant) mapped out as well.  Pretty exciting.

2011 Inspiration

Looking at these maps has already provided some inspiration for 2011.  As I noted before, I would love to start connecting the gaps between Goleta, Santa Barbara and Ventura.  This is going to mean climbing some gnarly hills, many, many more miles on foot and on the bike.  But then endurance athletes are known for their insane abilities.

I seriously can’t wait until next year, when I can review the 2011 maps and see where I have been.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get some training in outside of California!

Invest in Winter Training


Yeah, winter training is hard.  Its cold, dark, wet, and miserable outside.  Our daylight hours are reduced, making it difficult to be safe and get workouts in before and after work.  We have to buy expensive winter gear to stay warm, which eats into our holiday funds.  Yep, winter training is nothing like the paradise of summer training.

But there are numerous advantages for braving the miseries of winter training:

  1. Winter training provides a higher foundation heading into the the new racing season.  Come March, when your competitors will be dusting off their running shoes, you would have already gained an advantage.
  2. Provides an opportunity to train in conditions that are not so perfect.  Hey, race day conditions are seldom ideal and getting practice in in less than ideal conditions prepares you for the worst.
  3. It’ll provide stress relief during the holidays.  With countless social occasions on your calendar, the stress of shopping in crowded stores, squeezing in extra end of the year projects at work, etc, the holidays can stress us all out. Getting a good run, bike, swim in will help relieve the stress.
  4. Triathlons are mental events.  I know the physical side of triathlons are just a small part of the picture, based on personal experience (I’ve seen very strong athletes crumble during the swim).  Getting yourself mentally prepared by running through a blizzard is just part of the journey.
  5. It “separates the men from the boys.”  Yes, the weak will hang up their running shoes and take a nice comfy arm chair next to the warm fireplace.  The strong will be running/swimming/biking in the freezing temperatures.  Just think, when you meet that fellow runner by the coffee maker at work one afternoon and their chin drops to the floor when you tell them you ran 6 miles through that icing storm last night, you will be gloating for the rest of the day.

What ever reason you use to maintain a proper training schedule during the winter, just know that it is truly worth investing in winter training.  Whether your are preparing for a triathlon, an ironman, or a marathon in 2011, get a head start on your competition this winter.

How Ankles, Rocks and Dogs Don’t Mix


It was supposed to be the workout of my week:  a 10k trail run with an 1,800 foot elevation gain to the top of Inspiration Point.   While the region was focused on the Santa Barbara International Marathon at the waterfront, I would be running in the foothills, happily avoiding the crowds in my zen like trail running zone.

TRAIL RUNNING COMPLICATIONS

However, there were some challenges that complicated this run:

  1. The weather was less than ideal.  In fact, the weather had turned cold and with the threat of rain for later in the day.
  2. With the goal of reaching the top and just getting over the flu, I needed to carry extra water and fuel in addition to my poor weather gear.
  3. The complications of 1 & 2 combined, I didn’t have a runner’s pack large enough to carry the extra water, protein bars, rain gear, and extra clothing as this was my first, serious poor weather, long trail run.
  4. My diet from the previous evening was far less than ideal.  Having dinner with friends meant dessert in the form of Trader Joe’s luscious Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Well, that one small piece turned into three.  This meant that my body needed a few days of detox before attempting any aggressive workouts.

With the above points in mind, I should have postponed the trail run, but I didn’t.  I overcame point three by using a small messenger bag that just fit everything, barely.  I would be running with my small runner’s pack and the messenger bag, which I knew would be distracting as there was no way to really keep it from bouncing around against my body while running.

Despite still being slightly sick, dealing with a crappy diet from the evening before, and having the wrong gear, I still convinced myself to go ahead with the trial run.

JUST GET IT OVER WITH

Arriving at the trail head, there were lots of cars and looming clouds.  Surprisingly, it was quite warm and humid.  Warmer than I had thought.  However, 1,800 feet up the trail was sure to be a lot cooler and wetter!

Time to make final preps. I decided to wear my running pants, but only wear a short sleeve technical shirt.  The long-sleeve I would have in my messenger bag with the additional water and camera.  Turn on the GPS, slap on the hear rate strap, stretch and we are off.

At the top of trail head, I hesitated.  There was a feeling that said this was wrong.  I chocked it up to the angry pumpkin cheesecake from the night before and started down the trail.  As I started running, the messenger bag, being heavier than anticipated, was really flying around and banging against my side.  I stopped to tighten the strap, which helped stabilize it some, but that feeling that this run was not right, wouldn’t go away.  I continued on my way ignoring it.  I don’t think I’ll be sneaking up on anyone with the messenger bouncing around so much.

WHERE ANKLE, ROCKS, AND DOGS MEET

Just as I got into a rhythm nearing a fork in the trail, it happened. As I approached the fork with the intention of going right, a smallish, tan dog came shooting around the bush from the left fork.  When I first saw it, I thought COYOTE!

“Oh geez, I am going to get eaten!” I lost my concentration as I put my left foot down on an odd shaped rock and felt pain, serious pain from my hip to me toes, through the ankle.  My ankle curled to the inside of my leg and I nearly fell over. As full pressure from the run went onto the horridly curled left ankle, the pain felt like no other I’ve felt in my entire life!

Recovering with the next step and noticing the dog was just a domestic running ahead of its owners, I focused my attention back on the horrendous pain.  Each time I put weight on it, it made me want to cry.  To make matters worse, I had shoot pain from my hip to my toes, which were now tingling.  I immediately thought that I broke my ankle.  But at least I wasn’t eaten by a coyote!

IT CAN’T BE BROKEN!

But then I started coming to my senses and taking inventory.  Chances are, if it was actually broken, I wouldn’t be able to put any weight on it at all. Instead I sat down on the nearest rock and contemplated the best course of action:

  1. I wasn’t dying, so there was no need to call 911 and have search and rescue airlift me off the trail.
  2. I was only about half mile from the trail head and walking out now was going to be painful but doable.
  3. Didn’t make any sense to call anyone as they couldn’t do anything.
  4. Perhaps hang out for a while and see what happens.
  5. Above all else, how long was I going to be out of training?

I opted for #2, walking out now.  Every step hurt, the toes tingled as if an electrical probe had been inserted into each, the knee was now sore, and the hip felt a little odd.

Getting back to the car, I removed the shoe and sock.  It really didn’t look bad; slightly swollen, a little pale, and painful to the touch. Carefully, I reapplied the sock and shoe and drove home.

TIME TO HEAL

Over the next few hours, the pain diminished and the swelling greatly increased, along with pretty severe bruising.  The tingling in the hip and toes went away and I started to realize that I would be off my feet for a week or two or three.

Over the next few days, with plenty of ice, compression and keeping it elevated, it gradually has been improving.  Now, almost a week after the incident, the swelling has decreased, the bruising has gone down, but the pain has returned. A light run made it hurt even worse, meaning more down time.  A swim and two strength workouts is all I’ve been able to do this week.

THE FEARLESS TRIATHLETE

Reflecting back, I should have listened to that feeling at the top of the trail head.  Postpone the trail run, get the right runner’s pack and/or wait for better weather, and give myself time to detox after eating so much cheesecake.  Spiritually, something was trying to tell me something that day, but I didn’t listen. Sometimes, triathletes have to completely ignore sensibility and just do it.

However, I think this had made me a stronger athlete.  I not only have a story to tell the grand kids (someday), but I’ve gotten my first major injury under my belt and it has made me respect the trail.  In the end, the fearless triathlete in me prevailed that day and I found out what happens when ankles, rocks and dogs all meet at the same point on a trail.