Monday, July 30, 2012

"Team Trouble" training at Camp!

Riding my bike north of Durango

Okay!  Enough with my slacking!  On with the show... or shall I say , "The show must go on!"  A little over two weeks ago I shared I was preparing for the Louisville Ironman on August 26th and working to raise money for the American Red Cross Colorado Chapter to help victims of the Colorado fires recover.  If you've already donated that's great (please donate at my site here)! Recovery efforts from these fires are ongoing and efforts are being taken to help displaced families get back on there feet, help wildlife and animal shelters, and with fire cleanup and recovery (especially from flash flooding).  I would like to donate a few hours and have left a message with the Pikes Peak United Way 2-1-1 to inquire about upcoming volunteer events that are taking place.  I'll pass them on as find out more.  If you are near one of the Colorado burn areas and would like to help with one of these efforts here a few key resources:

On to training!  I shared I would offer a bit more about my routine and preparation in my first entry.  In a normal week I'll average close to 10 hours a week for training.  That's over the span of 30 weeks.  In May and June I was training 12-13 hours per week.  Each week I usually spent 3 hours in the pool, 5-7 hours on the bike, and 2-3 hours running.  This would include warm-ups, cool-downs, and minimal stretching.  But when I started having my problems running in June I found myself training back around base levels of closer to 8 hours per week.  Without being able to run I found my motivation waning a bit.  I've tried to spend more time swimming but going over 2 miles in the pool gets a bit boring.  Thankfully with the summer months I can bike outdoors a bit more.  That's definitely been my saving grace.  Two weeks ago I had what amounts to a training disaster! 

Camping with Sun, Aftan, and my nephew Adrian... "Team Trouble"

That's when I took the week long camping trip in and around Durango, CO with my wife, Dawn, 3-year old Aftan, my 6-year old Sun, nephew, brother-in-law, and parents that had been planned since April.  I only did 2 hours of legitimate training between Monday and Friday!  Only 2 hours!!!  I knew the realities of being away from home on that type trip so I'm not frustrated or upset by that.  I put my family first.  The kids did their part to see I did most of my training by chasing them!  They offered up precious moments of adorable happiness with more frequent delivery of over-the-top antics well-suited for a family melodrama! 

Nice catch

I'll digress!  To prepare for a full distance Ironman it's important to have help.  It's important to train with people to avoid the doldrums of a rigorous routine. It's equally important for Ironman to have people around you who are inspired and believe!  So instead of spewing facts about the raw mechanics of my training I'll share with you how the people around me are the keys to my success.

My wife, Dawn, has been with me at the gym in the pool and the regular 1-hour spinning classes we've attended.  She's watched our kids on those mornings when I've gone on 5-hour bike rides and been there to hear each and every one of my training reports.  She's taken the roller coaster ride of the ups and downs with me and for that.... I can never be grateful enough.  My friend Jeremy also gets a credit with helping me with my other 1-hour spin class at 5:45am.  The work with Jeremy has also helped me focus a bit more on core strength.  This is so important for the sport of triathlon and can easily be overlooked.  I'm now including push ups into my daily routine and shoot for 120 per day. Jeremy has also helped me to approach my training cautiously while battling my recent knee problems by helping me say, "You're right" when it comes to visiting my orthopedic specialist.

I have an awesome coach, Sheila, that I work with at Oracle and she has run triathlon's for nearly 10 years.  Sheila is as mentally tough as you'll find and trains harder than anyone I know.  If you think Ironman sounds tough she is doing Ultraman competitions.  Sheila is a great inspiration for me and really helps me with the mental and psychological aspects of training you need to do insane, crazy, fun stuff like this!  Not only that but she really likes pirates and rides with a Jolly Roger patch on her equipment (arghhh!!!!).

I also have Patrick Harris to thank for saying to me one day, "Sol, I'm signed up for Ironman!  Interested?!"

"Damn straight.  I'm interested!  I love crazy, hard s(#$%! like that."  By my measure Patrick is as good on his bike as he is a person.  I've really enjoyed the few training rides we've gone out on and they have really focused and directed my attention toward longer rides that require strength and endurance.  I can't keep up with Patrick... but I sure do enjoy going out on rides with him.  It also helps me to know there is someone else that has dedicated the time and energy to train at 5am in the morning to make sure family and work commitments are met.

Are the new shoes helping me run again?

I've got to go buy groceries for the family this week now.  Before I go I'll share that I had my orthopedic visit and MRI this past week to figure out the problem with my knee.  Based on the fact I haven't been able to train at the distances required to run the full 26 miles I'll need to do on August 26th I'm hoping to use a strategy where I walk a mile, run a mile.  An encouraging sign this week was that I was able to use that recipe to go 5.5 miles without agonizing pain for the first time in a couple months.  Maybe all those needles in my leg from the physical therapy are finally starting to help!

For those of you praying and thinking about our shooting victim families here in Denver... please go and donate blood at your local blood bank.  I've been donating every chance I get for the past 4 years and it's one of the best things I do.  You'll definitely help save lives!!!  More next time.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T-minus 46 days:  Hi there.  I hope you're doing well.  I'm doing a lot of firsts here with this Ironman thing (including first blog ever) so hang with me long enough to get into a rhythm.  Let me just start by saying that I'm proud to be a Colorado native.  And, as a native, I feel very fortunate to have lived a very high quality of life in an outdoor wonderland of mountains, pine trees, blue skies and fresh air.  When you live in Colorado it's hard not to take these things for granted.  The recent Colorado wildfires should serve as a reminder of the most important gifts we have in life - family, friends, and a big heart.  In my case I have family, friends, and work colleagues that were all affected by the Waldo Canyon fire and the High Park fire. Some lost there homes.  I tear up a bit when I think about how hard it would be to lose cherished pets, family photos, and keepsakes. From a more practical perspective the hard ache of moving on and rebuilding lives is equally hard.

With that in mind I'm training for the August 26th Louisville, KY Ironman to raise money for the American Red Cross, Colorado Chapter.  The funds will go to help fire victims rebuild their lives.  Please visit my fundraising site at and have a big heart by helping me reach my goal of $3,000 with a donation of $20 or more.

If you are unfamiliar with Ironman it's a grueling event that tests physical stamina, heart, and resolve.  We all know that a full length marathon is long (26 miles).  With a full triathlon, crazy people like myself tack on a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride before doing a full marathon of 26.2 miles... all in one day.  For those that follow the sport its affectionately referred to as 140.6 (total mileage of the full distance triathlon).  This will be my first marathon and first full distance triathlon. 

Now, for your reading enjoyment and laughing pleasure I present to you "Sol" the "Ironman"! Sadly this story doesn't start quite the way I would like.  You see, right now I feel the farthest thing away from an "Ironman" that you can image.  Right now you're probably thinking of that flabby 30-something computer geek guy that sits around in 5-day old underwear and a dirty T-shirt popping down Twinkies and Hostess Snowballs every 30 minutes in front of an over-sized 90's tube screen TV.  Okay, I confess to enjoying some computer gaming (and even playing in my underwear... when its hot) but by "far away" I mean feeling more like a bird without a wing.  You know how to fly but you just can't.  Why you ask?  Well, as it turns out, at this very moment your "Ironman" can't even run!

That's right, I said it!  An "Ironman" has to be able to run 26 miles and I can barely go 1 mile!!!  It's important that I share some recent history here so you understand the gravity of this situation and why your support means so much to me!  I'll share with you now that I've been training to do some 2012 summer triathlons since January.  I was thinking in the beginning that a half-triathlon (1.3 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run) in late summer, would be just the feather in the cap I wanted.  So for 5 months, 5-6 days a week, I was working out.  At first, most of the workout were about an hour.  Run, bike, swim.... run, bike, swim. Gradually as my fitness level improved I started including 1 to 2 workouts per week that were a bit longer (like 1.5 to 2 hours).  By May I was starting to do some seriously long stuff (4-5 hours of training at a time)  on the weekend and began feeling like my goal of doing a half-tri wasn't enough.

Here's where I let you know I've thought about being an "Ironman" since I saw the sports greats like Scott Tinley and Dave Scott winning World Championship when I was a child.  Thank you "Wide World of Sports" for planting this crazy seed in my head!  But while I wasn't confident I could make this goal there was a part of me that said, "You have to go for this!"  So, in May I signed up for the Louisville, KY "Ironman".  I'll get into the reasons for choosing that race in a separate post.  I felt great about the decision until the beginning of June.  That's when I began experiencing symptoms of "overtraining" that have left me with a knee condition in my left knee where I am unable to run!

The symptoms I have that prevent me from running match those of countless athletes who run known as "ITB" Iliotibial Band Syndrome (Runners knee).  I'm concerned at this point I may also have a cartilage injury so I've planned a trip to see an orthopedist.  However, ITB does appear to be a factor.  How can I be an "Ironman" when I have to stop running from the pain after 10 minutes?  So much work, so much time training.

The last several weeks have been hard for me.  I've significantly cut down on my training hours.  Largely from the fact that I feel like I might fail at this.  I hate that feeling and it rips my belly apart knowing there's the possibility I might not be the person I envision.  It's fear.  But, it's that same fear that drives me.  It drives me to overcome lack of motivation.... instinct... and even injury.   It drives me in everything I do.  Those that truly know me know I have problems feeling satisfied.  That's because when I accomplish goals I've already set bigger ones in place.

This is it!  My knee is a perfect, legitimate excuse to give up.  I feel like I'm at St. Peter's gate.  It's my moment of reckoning.  What do you do?  You can walk away wondering what might have been... or you can fight to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt you belong. My path is the righteous one! I can't stop.  I won't!  And I'll do whatever it takes to see this 140.6 through!  This week has meant 3 physical therapy visits to help me loosen the muscles in my left leg.  The physical therapist (PT) laughed at me by the way. The whole office did.  I'm sure the muscle tightness in my upper leg is bound to become legend there.  After the laughing stopped my crying started.  The PT worked elbows and fingers into my rock hard muscle tissue in order to begin loosening the muscle tightness responsible for my problem not being to run.  The end of each session has concluded with "dry needling". Another 'first' getting ready for "Ironman".  You have to experience the sensation yourself to understand what this is all about.  The basic idea is that the needling helps your body release toxins.  Right now I'm 11 needles in and what I can tell you is my leg is as sore as a mu@$*c@r and I still can't run.  I'll head back for more PT this Friday... "Thank you mam may I have another!!!" Forty-six days usually feels like an eternity but right now I'm wondering how on earth I'm not going to be walking 26 miles on August 26th wondering if I'll pass the finish line before the midnight cutoff.

In my next post I'll share a bit more about the current fire relief efforts underway here in Colorado, give an inside look at my training, and share more about my efforts to overcome injury.