Monday, June 4, 2012

First triathlon of the year.....kind of

I've been really tired and feeling 'off' since mid-May and more so after the marathon. Since my trip to Copenhagen I've had tummy troubles more often than not. I’ve been really tired and struggling with motivation. At first I thought it was just traveling that wore me out and then I thought just racing back to back weekends. Then maybe work because it’s been really busy the last few weeks. I’m starting to think it’s something else. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate my diet and consider eating meat or taking a supplement – both options are not appealing to me for various reasons. I’ll talk more about that later; first a weekend race re-cap.

Escape the Cape triathlon - Well, I finished. The remnants of a tropical storm forecasted to hit the beach where the race took place made conditions less than favorable for a triathlon. I was hoping that would scare people off and no one would show up making it an easy win for me. Unfortunately, a lot of other people were just as crazy as me and I was not the only one there so I didn’t get first place.

Driving down there the weather didn’t seem that bad. It only really started raining right when I arrived, naturally. I got all my gear out of my car and to the transition area and the downpours started with a few 30mph gusts of wind thrown in too. I was shivering and soaked almost instantly and still had almost an hour to wait around until the race actually started. While I waited I put on my wetsuit to attempt to stay warm, it kind of worked. Then the race director made an announcement, after speaking with the harbor master and reviewing the weather forecast, and timing for high tide, they decided to cancel the swim portion of the race and change it into a Duathlon (run-bike-run). The high tides, strong winds, and torrential downpours made it too dangerous to swim. The water was extremely choppy and scary looking. Wise decision by the race organizers.
So, now I had to take my wetsuit off and prepare to start the race in my running gear. Some people were so upset they left (they signed up for a tri not a du), most people were psyched because the swim is everyone’s weakness. There was one poor girl standing near me that looked like she wanted to cry. She had signed up because it was her boyfriend’s birthday and the swim was her strength. She was not a runner. I on the other hand could not have been happier (aside from the fact that I was freezing cold).

They still started us in waves because there were about 500 people there and that is too many for one big mass start. My wave was 4th to go with one minute in-between each wave. They started the race with a bullhorn and I was off. Short fast one mile run before the bike (which is my favorite part). I quickly realized the wave behind us was the 40-49 male age group, those guys are ridiculously fast (if you watch the Ironman in Kona they win it)! They blew past us before we even made it half a mile.

Anyway, I finished the run in 8:00 and got to the transition area and threw on my bike shoes and helmet and that’s where the race really began for me. The course is flat and fast and I’ve done it 3 years in a row so I know it well. I love it because I get to scream “ON YOUR LEFT!!!!” a lot as I pass people. The roads were wet and the rain was coming down hard stinging when it hit me, but it was fun. I did use a little caution around the corners, but on the straightaways I gave it everything I had until my legs burned. A little voice in my head always reminds me to save a little for the run, but I really love to crush it on the bike. Finished the 10 mile bike course in 35:12 (averaging ~18mph, slower than I’d like to see, I’m usually closer to 20mph, but the weather definitely slowed everyone down).

Second transition is always super-fast, take my helmet off slip on my running shoes and GO! I flew out of the transition and started the 3.1 mile run (the really fast elite guys were just about to finish the race). The run is an out and back loop so you see all the faster people and the people you need to catch up to and pass. Nice thing about triathlons is they write your age in sharpie on the back of your leg so you know if someone is ahead of you in your age group to push a little harder and catch them or if someone blows past you and is way younger (or older) you don’t need to stress. I’m pretty good at pacing myself and then kicking at the end and I finished strong with an overall time of 1:11:58. I did the last run in 26:12. That’s my best time so far on this course. Can’t really call it a personal record because the swim was canceled, but I’ll take it. I finished 6th. Still no podium spot, but considering I ran a marathon 2 weeks ago and didn’t train at all for the tri I’d say that’s pretty good.

Photos will be posted later in the week, if there are any really good (or really bad) ones I’ll put them up.

Sunday, I had a 10-12 mile run in my training plan and when I woke up I really did not feel like running, but I figured as soon as I started I might feel better. The first few miles are always the toughest until I can settle into a comfortable pace. As my Garmin beeped at the first few miles I knew it was not going to be a record setting run. I was going a lot slower than usual, but I raced the day before so my legs we tired. Still, I was struggling to maintain a slow shuffle and I felt like I was sprinting. It was really bad - slow and sluggish, felt like I was working really hard and not moving at all.  Sort of like slow motion or trying to run through thick mud.  It was exhausting and depressing at the same time.  I've run that same loop a hundred times and I KNEW I could do it way faster and with ease.

I checked my heart rate monitor after the run and my max HR was 202! That is NOT normal considering I only averaged over 11:00 minutes/mile. I usually average closer to 9:45s and only hit 155-160 max HR.  Something is just not right, this is more than just a little tired from racing the day before.  I've PR'd with harder workouts the day before a race and my heart rate never gets that high on a long run - NEVER!  Even if I sprint up a hill, I've never seen it that high.  So, I know something is wrong.

I did some thinking (and resting) after the run and racked my brain for a reason and came up with a few possibilities.  Either I'm sick, getting sick, or overtrained.  Aside from the slow run I don't feel sick.  Maybe I'm not getting the right fuel for my body to perform.  I've been trying to go vegetarian/vegan for the past 8 months.  I've gained weight since this time last year and lost some of my muscle mass due to a lack of any kind of strength training (I hate it and I just don't do it anymore).  I think it is most likely a combination of things in a perfect storm of destruction causing me to implode and my energy to completely fizzle out.

So, I'm going to try a few things to re-boot my system and restore my energy and motivation and hopefully get my speed back.  I am going to start taking a few supplements.  Iron and B-12 - I know I have iron deficiency anemia and usually control it with diet, but without red meat I don't think that's working anymore.  The B-12 is a common vegetarian deficiency and I've noticed symptoms of it before (numbness and tingling in my fingers).  I may also get a multi-vitamin to really make sure I'm getting all the micronutrients my body requires.  I hate the idea of taking supplements because I really strongly beleive that we should be able to get all of our nutrients from foods (and real foods not processed crap).  Supplements are also not a regulated industry and you really never know what you're going to get and the quality of what you are taking.

I'm also going to attempt to add some sort of strength training back into my routine.  I may try P90X or some other DVD just to get something going at least a few times a week.  Without a gym or fitness center to go to anymore it is a lot harder to fit it in easily and although I COULD do it at home I'm far more likely to put on my PJs and relax than bang out a few burpees when I get home in the evening.  And I do have pretty high ceilings, but still don't want to mark up my hardwood floors with my jumprope.  I DO really, really miss using my jump rope.

If all else fails and I still do not feel good, I will go back to eating meat.  I'm resistant to this option because of how difficult it is in the US to get meat that is not tainted with antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified grain fed garbage.  Really the only difference between my training this year and last year is the lack of strength training and eating meat so I KNOW that is what needs to change.  I'm just trying to really hard to find alternative solutions to this problem. 

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