Hitting the pavement running and a training session with my coach and tri friends has been a welcomed confidence boost. The lack of running until recently has really been creating doubt in my mind.
For the first time since my marathon in Albany on March 1st, I was able to run more than 20 minutes on pavement on Thursday June 5th. It’s been a long journey, but through physical therapy, dry needling, time off running, a cortisone injection, and RX NSAIDS, I am now back to running! I still have some of the initial tightness that I had during marathon training in my glute, the back of my knee, and my upper calf, but it seems manageable, and I’m hoping with PT and dry needling it will continue to improve.
I’ve now had a 4.5 mile run and a 5 mile run, and I’ve survived them both, but I do NOT remember my glutes and quads being so sore from running when I started a couple of years ago. I’m not sure why I’m so sore, but considering my glutes and quads were the muscles that I was told I didn’t use as much as I should, I’m going to take this as a good sign that I’m using them.
I really thought that once I was able to get out and run I’d be back at the point I was when I started running, and I didn’t think I’d be able to make it a mile without feeling like I was dying. I’m happy to say that the cycling, swimming, elliptical, and weights that Coach Chuck (http://peakracingteam.com/) has assigned weekly have done a pretty good job of keeping me in shape for the run as well. I’m not breaking any speed records, but for having taken 3 months off, I’d say that hitting the road and running 4.5 miles the first time out is pretty good. I even finished the run within a :30s/mile average of my old training pace for long runs, so I’m “happy, happy, happy!”
Another nerve racking thing for me has been the anticipation of meeting my coach in person. I’ve met Tony from Peak Racing, but I’ve never actually seen Chuck. I often wonder and joke about if Chuck realizes the athlete he got when I hired him. He definitely has his work cut out for him to get me prepared for this 70.3. Well, I finally met Coach Chuck for the first time this past Saturday. I’ve spoken to him on the phone, through email, and by messaging on FB several times before, and he sends my weekly plan through Training Peaks. We chat at least once a week through FB plus he emails me daily with feedback about how I did on my workouts, but it still isn’t the same as meeting a coach face-to-face, and I was extremely nervous for some reason to meet him and for this training day.
The plan was to meet up with a few local tri friends here at 5AM, head out by 5:25AM, and drive to Red Top Mountain in Cartersville to have a training day with Coach Chuck and other Peak Racing Team members and friends. I think I finally fell asleep the night before around 2AM. If the nerves I was feeling about meeting Coach and that training day are anywhere close to the nerves I’ll feel for the Augusta IM 70.3, then I’m pretty sure I won’t get any sleep before it. Luckily, I was able to wake up and make it to the meeting spot by 5. We quickly moved bikes around, loaded into one truck, and hit the road.
We arrived at Red Top Mountain around 6:45AM, introduced ourselves, said a quick hello, and headed down to the water with Coach, who is really tall, and the other Peak Team members and friends. Coach Chuck explained the route that people usually swim, and the distances, and we were quickly in the water with him supervising in the kayak. I was still nervous knowing that I was probably going to be one of the slowest swimmers, this was my first OWS this year, and that this was the first time Coach Chuck would see how I’m doing swimming…not to mention I had a 2 hour bike ride and 20 minute run with Coach Chuck and several speed demons still to go. I started the swim too fast, and my breathing didn’t settle into a rhythm until over halfway through my 30 minute swim. I turned around before the others since I only needed 30 minutes which would be less than a mile for me, and I still ended up finishing about the same time as they did. I got in 8/10ths of a mile.
Next up, we drove about 6 miles north to the Budweiser Plant for the bike ride. This was to be a 31 mile bike ride on rolling hills. I suck at hills, so I wasn’t so sure how this would go since I didn’t know what Chuck’s idea of rolling hills was. At the Bud Plant, he told us the route was well marked, and he was going to make sure none of us got lost….getting lost wasn’t as big of a concern to me as what type of hills were lying ahead. He assured us that the turns were marked on the pavement in paint. We were used to this with rides around our area, and I had uploaded the route to my Garmin 910, so I was pretty sure that I’d make it back eventually. Thank God Clay’s wife Shari, who wasn’t riding, was with us in the truck in case any of us needed to be picked up. I needed that one little piece of comfort in case these hills were more than “rolling hills.”
So, after a quick photo, which I was sure was so we could remember everyone who started and take a head count at the end to make sure everyone returned, we were off. If you’ve never visited this area to ride in, then I highly recommend it. The parking lot was packed with cyclist all day, and the area is very cyclist friendly. I don’t like riding on unfamiliar roads, but I have to say this was a very enjoyable ride. With so many cyclist riding in the area, it felt very safe. I’m also a sucker for country roads by pastures and such, and this didn’t disappoint. The roads were in pretty good shape for the most part. The group split up into smaller groups, and we ended up riding with a group of four for the most part. Around the 16 mile mark, Coach rode up next to us and said something like “you guys must be in shape, you’re averaging over 17mph.” Say what? “Oh crap” is what went through my mind. I quickly informed him that I’d be slower on the second half I was sure. In the last 10 miles of the ride, our group of four got a little strung out, so Coach Chuck helped to bridge the gap some to prevent us from getting lost. The second half seemed to be a little more hilly to me, but it had some fun downhill curvy sections as well. I was having a little too much fun on a section around mile 28, and I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the shadows on the downhill while I was trying to chase the group, so I hit a buckle in the road on the curvy downhill around 30 mph in aero position, and my handlebars quickly whipped from side to side, and I knew I was about to eat it. Somehow, I stayed upright, but that was probably the most frightening moment on my bike so far. I slowed down slightly on the downhill after that, and I made sure I watched those shadows a little better. When we got back to the Bud Plant, we were about 12 minutes short of 2 hours, so Clay and I were discussing if we could just head on in and start the run and be short on time. About that time, Coach rode back towards us and said something to the nature of “we’re just circling.” I told Clay that I took that as my Coach saying to turn my butt around and finish out my 2 hours, and that Coach Tony would probably tell him the same if he was there, so we made our loop and finished out our time.
We were able to start our run pretty quick after the ride since Shari was at the truck, so we just leaned our bikes against the tree next to the truck and got to it. I only needed 20 minutes, so off I went. My lower back was pretty tight from the ride, and it continued to tighten up on the run, so I had to walk a couple of times during this run, but I got it done.
After an 8/10ths mile swim, 34.5 mile bike ride, and 1.8 mile run, I’m feeling much better about where I am in my training for my HIM. I believe I’ll be ready to do this in 3 months.