Monday, January 28, 2013

Peaks, Peacocks, Pain Management

Three weeks of ramping up our training and on Sunday, we reached the peak of the build. Pretty literally. Dripping sweat, battery-acid legs and an ocean view ... that was the Hawthorne climb in Palos Verde, CA.

But to rewind a moment, here's a look at what was already in the rear view mirror. As a team we are in the thick of 'physical recommitment' for our half and full ironman races. During the past two weeks, our group has been tasked with completing distance- or time-specific workouts: 1000-yard swim for time, a 2.5-hr ride for time, and a 60min run for distance.

Our big workouts last weekend were the 2.5-hr ride with a 30min transition run along Zuma Beach on Saturday. Sunday's prescription called for a 9-mile run on varied (ie trail and hill) terrain. The midweek workouts included two 3K swims, a 75min ride and the 60-min marker run.

After getting all that mileage in, what stood between us and recovery week were two major days: Saturday's aquathalon (first open-water swim and a 9-mile run) and Sunday's 40-mile ride (with climbs!) and a 45-minute transition run.

Saturday started with a 6:30a departure to head up to Hansen Dam rec center. We'd been battling the forecast and wouldn't be able to swim if the rain settled in. Thankfully it did not rain. Not so thankfully, the water was a crisp 58-degrees - the kind of cold that starts as painful and ends with numbness. Hands, feet and faces braved the chill.

But you know what? You want to get better at something? Well, you gotta get comfortable being uncomfortable. That's was this swim was. We couldn't change the water temp. We couldn't compromise our training schedule. The only thing in our control was our attitudes. The team did great. Everyone swam at least one 500m lap. There was some treading, some panicking and a lot of cursing. But everyone exited the water a champsicle!

Wetsuits were stripped and running clothes were donned for a 3x 3-mile loop around the park. I had the opportunity to run with a handful of folks, so I considered it a great run. Getting to talk to people one-on-one for extending periods of time is one of the things I most look forward to.

San Gabriel Mountains

As I stood at the turnaround point during the final minutes of the workout, I snapped a few photos of the area. We are certainly very lucky to have this playground to train in - mountains, beach, lakes, ocean.

Run course along the Dam

After some clinics and chatting, our workout wrapped up. I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with fellow TNT coach Pete. We spent almost two hours talking shop, philosophy and ways to become better coaches. Our conversation was the icing on a great training day.

Didn't get home until 4pm or so (long morning!). Met up with two buddies. Had quite an excessive evening, laughing and otherwise. Down for the count sometime around midnight, maybe.

We got to "sleep in" a bit on Sunday and met up at 8:45am. I was in less-than-sharp manner but I rallied as much energy as possible, which translated into singing, "I knew you were trouble when you walked in" over and over and over again, much to the chagrin of my teammates and coaches.

How's this for a start/finish line?

Our course was challenging - many climbs up and around PV and the South Bay area. The epic ones included Hawthorne and the switchbacks. But with great climbs come great descents and views. I like climbing hills. There's no room for ego. They humble everyone. Doesn't matter how fast you are climbing them, you are feeling the same pain as everyone else regardless. Hills are an exercise in pain management. Practicing discomfort is very, very worthwhile.

Awesome stock photo of the PV Switchbacks

That bump on the right is the Hawthorne Blvd climb

Also, there were untethered, unleashed PEACOCKS at one of the houses along the way. If that doesn't say, "Hello, Los Angeles, I have arrived ...with my pet peacocks" then I don't know what does.

Took it easy on the first half of the ride, and then woke up and busted out the second half. Chased the hard work with 5 miles along the beach and through the Redondo Pier. They have skee ball there. I will be back, sans tri kit, some day.

Team time continued with a late lunch in which I learned a lot about some interesting personal trainer & nutrition certifications that one of my teammates holds. Hmmm...mind sparked. Got back to the apartment (thanks to Holly for the multi-carpools all weekend) just in time to shower, call my parents, and shoot some emails. Squeezed the last little bit of Sunday Funday out with my teammates at a Dine-In Movie theater. Heaven is a Barcalounger planted in front of a big screen - good food, good friends, good seats, good night!

A bit more coaching and committee work done when I got home, and finally the build phase closed out. Today, Monday, is a rest day. I am so all over this one.

I knew IM training takes a lot of commitment - time and energy mostly. Been there, done that. But training for it with a large group is a whole different beast. There's an ebb and flow to training physically and emotionally. To get to share it with other people - voices that don't live inside my head - makes this whole process so worthwhile to me. I'm lucky to be included along this crazy ride.

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