I am entering this season with hopes that I will improve on my disappointing season in 2012. It’s not that I did not have my accomplishments last year, it was after all my first two Half Ironman races, but my performances were far from what I expected. As far as the half’s were concerned, they were my first attempts, so the fact that I completed them was a success in itself, but it was the hard lessons I learned that were both disappointing to me and also helpful, if that is possible. I had issues in both of those races. A panic in the swim at Haines City (Florida 70.3 in May) helped along with a stray, panicking Frenchman trying to drown me, started the day off badly and I never truly recovered. In Augusta 70.3 (September 2012) the swim was still an issue but one I recovered from, but my bike decided to give me problems, resulting in a 4.5 hour ride and killing my legs for the run. These are issues that happen, and I will be more prepared for this year, but I didn’t worry too much about these two in the end.
No, what my frustration was last year were my performances in the short courses, namely the Crystal River Series and the Twilight. In 2011, my first year, each of these races got better through the summer. I improved on the swim, the bike and the run, so I was looking forward to hitting these races in 2012 and making a large stride. After all, I thought, I had run half marathons and a marathon at this point, so a Sprint Triathlon should be no issue.
My first race was right on par with where I left off, but each subsequent races got worse, ending in the final event being slower, SLOWER, than my first attempt in 2011.
The one change, or constant, during the season was my weight. When I started in 2011 I was near 300 pounds and had dropped to 235, but by the end of 2012 I was back up to 265. After seriously looking into what had happened I discovered that I had fallen into the “carb trap”. I was limiting carb intake during the 2010 to 2011 years, but after my first full season I had got into my head that “I am now a triathlete and should eat like one” so I started not worrying about the carbs and focused instead on training.
Turns out this was not a good idea, at least not for me.
My coach turned me onto a few podcasts, including Vinnie Tortorich’s “Angriest Trainer”, and this started making me see the problem. I read numerous books, including “Wheat Belly” and Gary Taubses’s “Good Calorie Bad Calorie” and had an epiphany. I got rid of sugar and grains from my diet. I started eating a full fat breakfast, or drinking Bulletproof Coffee before long rides. I stopped counting calories and just focused on WHAT I ate, and only ate when I was hungry, not on a schedule.
This resulted in two things happening.
The weight started dropping again.
And my training rides and runs did not leave me sore for days.
Both very good things.
Another thing I discovered, once again though the Angriest Trainer, was Chi Running. His better half, Serena Scott Thomas, is a coach in this style and it intrigued us to the point that we signed up for a full day seminar. This, regardless of everything else, probably saved my training on its own. Chi Running is a method where you learn to “use gravity” with your lean and use a metronome to maintain constant pace. This is a very simplistic view of the practice, but suffice to say that the first time I used it in training I RAN 7 miles without stopping. I usually use the Galloway method of run/walk splits. Did my overall pace improve? Slightly. The difference was that after running 12 miles I could still walk with no foot pain. Very different.
So with all these improvements I am entering this year with cautious optimism.
We have fewer races than normal (learning our lesson). We start in 6 days with HITS 70.3 Triathlon in Ocala, then St. Anthony’s in April, the Crystal River series, and ending once more in Ironman Augusta. I went to Ocala this weekend and got in the 58 degree water and swam, with no issue, and rode 33 miles of the bike course, so I am feeling good. Now, as we all know, many things can happen to alter a race no matter what time you put into preparation. Weather. A broken toe. A bike failure. But I feel prepared at this point to get this underway, and it is my hope to have successes this year not just in finishing races, but in improving.
I have no specific time goals other than one; finish a 70.3 in under 7 hours. If I can do that, especially if I can do it in both 70.3 races this year, I will be pitting a 140.6 on the schedule next season.
And … so it begins …