A slow recovery from injury requires slow rehab exercise. Last week (Thursday 9/25) took me up to ChataquaPark in South Boulder, on the Mesa Trail.This was the first trial of my new Garmin 305 HRM/GPS (thanks wifey!)Aside from there being so many options and functions, it was pretty cool to use and the functions I did know how to use fed me all the info I needed during my “walk/hike.”The first uphill (actually a road), was more than a warm up.I followed the trail up to the Enchanted Mesa Trail which eventually hooked back up with the Mesa Trail again.I only diverted off the Mesa Trail because there was a large swarm of some kind of giant bugs that were attacking me (the only running I’ve done in 2 weeks mind you!)It was near 90 F, and just cloudless above the FlatIrons.
Heading down/up?-- the trail towards NCAR, thoughts of high school cross country running & racing popped into my head.Sure I ran XC in college, but it was less fun than high school, mainly because the team was so close.College racing was more competition against your own team just to be one of the top guys, where as high school was a bunch of kids going out and running our hearts out for the fun of it.We were all happy if someone finished ahead of each other, and in the end it was all about the team finish.Different mentality in college as accolades, press, and scholarships were at risk (so it really wasn’t as much fun—not to mention the coach was actually a jerk & made it more of a job than about true sport).
It made me think that once I’m in the clear to resume adequate levels of training again, that I really would like to spend more time training in areas I usually don’t.My regular haunts have become stale, though a peace of mind exists on those courses.Of course there is the excitement of new places that will inspire me to continue to “mix it up” some. I’m looking forward to trying some very new things for 2009, and freshening up the program with new ideas of training, technological advances for myself which will spill over into assisting my clients that I coach. More news on that shortly… Make the best of my knowledge, expand on it, and improve services and quality not only for my clients, but for myself as well. That which I use for my own use can be applied to my athletes, and visa-versa.It should be an exciting year in 2009, so I’m looking forward to it.
The views on the Mesa Trail were spectacular, and I really forgot how lucky I am to be living amongst such beauty here in Boulder. I will vow to utilize this city and environment on a greater scale in 2009, and reclaim some of those exciting high school memories of training.Inject a little old school fun into the program, get a full line of new “haunts” and then training will become playing again.It should just like playing on the trails back home…fresh, unbridled, new and exciting each day.I can’t wait!
Back in the days of the Big Four, there were heart rate monitors (HRM); today we have personal GPS units, HRMs that do most everything but wash the dishes in the sink. There are a half dozen or so brands of power meters, carbon this and that with lightweight dimpled thing-ama-bobs and supplements that promise to improve your VO2 Max and transport a higher O2 level to the dead hairs that have fallen out of your head and onto the floor. From personal experience, HRMs are wonderful, and I haven’t run more than twice in the last 2 years without a GPS unit (only because I didn’t charge the battery).Power meters give a lot of great feedback, but personally I don’t think they are all they are cracked up to be—and much more credit is given by coaches in the triathlon industry than they (the power meters) deserve. For every great athlete using a PM, there is another two or so with equal results and ability who don’t.Mark Allen didn’t use one.Dave Scott and Scott Molina didn’t—and neither did Scott Tinley.Primarily because PMs didn’t really exist back in the days of the Big Four.
I’m sure the first Uber Biker in triathlon (Mike Pigg) would have loved to have watch his watts hovering a good 50 watts higher than Mark Allen was putting out (then ask Mark for his power file printout from race to meticulously study the numbers). Move forward to the next generation of Uber Biker in Jurgen Zack, when he posted a 4:24. What have the pros gained through using one of these high tech gizmos? Nothing. Today’s triathletes at the top level really aren’t faster than those of the days of the Big Four. Sure you can argue that back in the day the large vans and media vehicles provided a huge draft on the bike, thus, the bike course splits in Kona were not realistic. However, you could argue also that as we have seen since the retirement of the Big Four, the large increase in performance enhancing drugs at the professional level, has allowed a multitude of pros to accomplish amazing things—and some of the availability may have indeed trickled down to the age group levels. Actually, it has (we have seen some of this reported by the media as well).
For all the improvements in aerodynamics, wheels, and training equipment (not to mention training techniques and physiological information availability), easier access to high quality state of the art testing through facilities such as the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine…there is little that is really impressive on the triathlon circuit these days (professional and age group alike). Mark Allen still holds one of the best unbeaten streaks in the sport (2 x 2 years), both times broken by Mike Pigg if I recall.He holds the fastest marathon time in Kona (on a harder course than today’s), and was one of the best balanced athletes in the history of the sport.Today we have cross over athletes from ITU racing, trying to make a go of it at IM racing, swim or bike specialists who may fall apart in one sport or another—despite all the available training resources (i.e., information, gadgets, etc.) So are any of these really doing what they are trumped up to do?Does a dimpled Sub-9 disc make you an Uber Biker?Unlikely.
What this sport has lost in my 20 years of racing has been the good old fashioned work ethic.Not to say the pros or age groupers aren’t working hard, just that the athlete of today depends so heavily on technology they are clouding where the real improvement comes from.In the old days, living, breathing and sleeping triathlon because it was all part of the lifestyle of the sport seemed to be the only focus. No doubt the gadgets we have today provide valuable monitoring of our training, keeping us from burning out or doing too much to an extent. There are more pros and age groupers concerned with how many sponsors or dollars they can pocket through racing fast, using a certain product.Even if the product doesn’t work, they have a gadget of somebody’s and lay claim the product was key in their performance.Again, unlikely. What makes the difference is the ability to execute from day to day, consistent training, concentration and finally, heart.
Gadgets are a hoot, I have a ton of them (and I use them). They don’t seem to make me faster. Training with these is more fun, there is more data to tinker with, but the improvements come from within, not a gadget. If you want to improve the accuracy of your training attempts, get some gadgets.If you want to spend some of that tax rebate you got, get some gadgets.If you want to see "how" you nailed a 7 minute mile running repeats on the track or hold 21 mph using only 205 watts, get some gadgets. But when the gadgets break at a critical time, or in a race--are you suddenly a mindless racer run by batteries? If you want to get faster at triathlon, get dedicated, get serious, then just go out and get the work DONE. You can get the same results using an old fashioned watch and really KNOWING YOURSELF while training.How do you know yourself from training?You pay attention to YOU rather than your gadgets.Go ahead, give it a “tri”—go ahead, get fast.
Coach KK & Max Lawler at IM AZ
The road to recovery...
The Big Dance in Kona (25th Anniversary) is upon us in just a few short weeks, Interbike is coming up in two weeks, Lance announced his comeback after taking three years off, VeloSwap in Denver is a month and a half away and I just had good news revealed of an additional MRI on my “hip/leg/spine” issues. So many exciting things coming up in such a short time I’m not sure where to start. First, I’d like to congratulate my neighbor Andy Biglow (world class stud triathlete & duathlete, not to mention super nice guy), who just got a promotion at work, and unfortunately will more than likely relocate to Denver from our little Boulder neighborhood. A neighborhood that has included the likes of “JZ” Zeiger, Andy Biglow, Paul Rapinz, Chuckie V, JoAnna Lawn, Kristin Hilger, Gordon Byrn, Craig Alexander…all within 3 blocks of my casa.It is a high end conglomeration of some of the most popular names in Boulder triathlon. Not quite as exclusive as the days when Paul NF, The Grip, Dave Scott, and Scott Molina/Erin Baker all lived up around Kalmia/4th & 5th street area back in the day, but it has been a pretty inspiring group to live near in Boulder.When I’m out doing yard work, pulling weeds and then see JZ go by on her bike, it sort of lights a fire under me to drop the weed & feed bag and hop on a bike.
On to the positive news about my second MRI. Here’s the short of it, while training 2 years ago for a half marathon in Loveland, I got a twinge which developed into a 2 year long injury where the more I trained on the bike, running, weights or xc skiing, the more pain in the butt (literally) and down the hamstring there was.Lack of leg speed and power developed, not to mention motivation waning in everything I did. It was a sorry state of mind for someone who didn’t need groups or teams to get out the door or in the pool on a daily basis. After a year and a half, while training for Ironman Arizona ’08 this past April, I finally went to a specialist where X-Rays, MRIs, PT, Chiropractors, “dry needling”, massage, Pilates, and prescriptions were all brought into the picture to resolve what was a diagnosis of Spondylolysis, and the discovery of a 6th lower vertebrae which was fused since birth to the SI joint.Hmmm, never realized I was racing/training with a disadvantage my entire career…just figured my lack of flexibility and back pain was due to the rigorous demands of sports. Speeding ahead through four months of rehab, not much improvement was seen. Another MRI—this one of my hip, was ordered, with the doctor speculating a possible stress fracture in the hip area. The new diagnosis now is that there is a visible amount of scar tissue and inflammation in the glute/hamstring area, indicating a longtime tear in that area, which would not have healed in 2 years since I had continued training with only a short period of time off to rest the injury.This week I go in for a cortisone shot in the rear to help speed the recovery, hopefully I’ll be back in the pool doing something—even flip turns cause some discomfort.I don’t see why I would have any problem aqua jogging, which will be my preferred path back to running.That will all be up to the doc I’m sure. The good news is that the doc thinks it is in fact a tear and not a fracture, which leads me to believe that a road to recovery is within site after a steadily declining 2 years of performance. The best part of this, it isn’t a loss of love for the sport, or from just being tired of swimming, biking and running.When you’re not feeling healthy, training and racing really becomes a chore of frustration and humility, but it goes with the territory. In the meantime, I can focus on getting some things done around the house and work towards some exciting things for Gemini Multisport’s 2009 season.
“You are what you eat.” A common quote we’ve all heard time and time again. Apply it to coaching and athlete training, you can see a correlation. In short, I realized this year I need to take my own training to the levels my athletes do.I create a plan that is very personalized and detailed, watching their moves week in and week out. The entire plan is morphing all season, never looking like it did at the start due to lifestyle changes, other commitments or family situations, or even sickness, travel/jobs, etc. These need to be considered weekly in order to maintain a subtle balance that keeps stress on the athlete to a minimum. However, I have been guilty the last couple of years (in part to injury), of not planning my own season in such detail.Basically get out and workout—sometimes only for 15 minutes. Using a power meter with no HRM, for the bike.A GPS for the run, with pace per mile and RPE. I’ll need to change that for ’09, become more structured, and then realize that I too, need a fine balance.That balance has been missing; however, my training schedule has seemingly been more at the will and mercy of my 2 year old and added responsibilities.My results have not been such a priority as it had in past years. They have in fact, been replaced by fatherhood and family contribution. There was something missing—after 12 qualifying years for Kona, to the point of boredom with the Big Island, I finally missed qualification in 2008. What an ego blow, I’ll admit it…qualifying was fairly easy even on a bad day.In reality, it is so difficult to get to Kona when you run the numbers; take into account all athletes in your AG in one race…hundreds.Then think about how everything must go right in the days, weeks, months and year leading up to you’re “A” Ironman race where many plan or hope to qualify. Then think about race day.Nutrition, equipment, motivation and concentration, physical stamina, all need to be honed just for that one day, to its utmost potential. This is why so many Dreamer IQ’rs never make it to Kona; they have just one (or more) thing missing on race day. Master it all, then Kona can be a pretty regular visit should you choose.
It is time to get back to it, get healthy, build a solid plan as I would for my athletes, get some balance back, set a goal and then see where I end up at the end of next season. I’m not entirely sure what the “goal” will be; certainly something along the lines of becoming competitive again in my age group coupled with racing healthy. I can see why Lance Armstrong wants to come back in 2009, he has a goal. Like the Flying Yellow Jersey, you need a goal to succeed.Resting our laurels going through the motions won’t get us anywhere. Before you plan anything—a workout, a season, a 10 or 30 year plan, you need a specific, measurable goal. Then the rest of the plan will fall into place rather easily. I am what I eat, in other words, I need to practice what I preach. It is to no surprise to me that my athlete’s goals came before mine and that my family came before my goals as well. However, to be a better coach, father, not to mention husband, I need to regain the balance I lost the last couple of years. The goals must be realistic, fair and measurable yet fun. Throughout this posting, I am seeing a goal formulate already that may morph in time. So far I’ve analyzed that for 2009 I need a goal, balance and a plan…that’s a pretty good start for only two pages of writing! Right now, I need some sleep recovery /healing and get back into the saddle again.
America the Strong!
Today is the anniversary of the lives lost in NY City, when our nation was forced into a hyper-paranoia state of caution by a culture which for some reason hates America just
because we are what we are…different. So many Americans have a different deity than they do, have more money, or enjoy a less repressed life and as a result of these gifts, we were attacked, slaughtered, whatever you want to call it. The great nation that America is and ideals it stands for has proven to the world our resilience. Our men and women have been called upon to eradicate the threat so that our children can grow up in a safe and peaceful/loving nation. I’d like to honor the brave soldiers giving their lives to protect our democracy (whether or not they should actually be in some places abroad is another question which would cause this post to lean more on the opinionated side that I don’t want to be leaning towards…). These men and women are remembered each Memorial Day, and 9/11 is sort of like an autumn Memorial Day in my mind. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, as I awoke and got to the East Boulder Rec Center for a “short” 4000 yard swim. I looked into the pool area, there was nobody—not one lane was being used.In fact, at that moment, I asked the front desk person (Keith I think was working that day—not sure)…”What’s going on, is it a holiday—why is it so quiet?”Keep in mind I had basically woken up, had a Clif Bar, some Gatorade, and drove straight to the pool.Naturally this was all pre-married life so I had a lot of time on my hands to train. “Keith” (I’ll just say it was him since he always seems to be working), said, “Everyone is probably glued to the TV at home because of NY…didn’t you hear about the plane crashing into the WorldTradeCenter?”I said I had not because I worked at night and just woke up. I hustled over to the 60+ inch TV in the Rec Center, sat down for nearly a half an hour unblinking…in amazement.I had just missed another plane crashing into the other tower by about 30 minutes.My first thought was there must be failing navigation units in the planes or just some really bad pilots or air traffic controllers out there.Never before had I dreamed a terrorist attack would take place on our soil of this magnitude.
There really wasn’t must going on newsworthy other than replaying the scene of the planes hitting the towers over and over, and over, and over again. I went to the locker room which was quiet as a morgue, then suited up and swam.It was a good swim, but still the planes hitting the buildings were replaying in my mind the entire workout. Little did I know to what extent the effects of that day’s events would have on our nation. After that there was a lot of “Rah-rah-rah-this and that” and the patriotism really took off in the USA. Many people drifting through life without showing a care for the flag suddenly became loud voices and waved Old Glory like they were trying to be rescued from a deserted island by a passing boat. I know my source of pride as an American grew that day, and my pity on the people that are brainwashed into performing the cowardly suicidal acts in the name of whatever deity they serve grew as well. If these groups just kept to themselves and stopped trying to gain power and wealth by killing those who are different, we’d all get along and would have a place in this world we could call our own.Just respect those that are different, or have different beliefs and leave it at that. We don’t need to force our mindset and lifestyle on another group, although we can respectfully say that in our opinion that we do not agree in the least with them.It doesn’t mean we need to eliminate them from the planet. That’s what is so nice about triathlon—we come together.Rich, poor, religious types or not, genders, youth and geriatric, race—it all comes together and we compete on the same line as equals. Nothing matters at that point besides being comrades for a day and completing a task that is monumental yet exhilarating. The problems of the world seem to disappear just for that distance for a day. A small percentage of the world understand the how and why of triathlon or what motivates us to be in the sport. Maybe if more people in the world would listen that it_all_goes_away_during a triathlon, they too would understand one of the greatest gifts of the sport…freedom. After all, America was born out of the need for more freedom and triathlon was born in America. What isn’t there to like about freedom if it makes a person happy just to be alive and racing with the wind in your hair?
Finally, can’t we all just get along, toe the line and call it good? If I see a Muslim or Jew on the start line, or a black person, or female, or young kid with a pierced cheek, or some sickly rich guy—I know what I’ll be saying to them…”Good luck—have a good one out there!”
Scott Curry IM CAN 2008
A random runner...
Wilson-2024--A Happy Canadian!
Playing IronMate for Ironman Canada was quite a flip-flop role this year, as my wife raced and I was on the sidelines after trudging injured through the course in 2007.Upon watching the spectacular event this year and the largly crumbling lead of the early bike leader I was happy to be watching the “pain” instead of experiencing it. Several Colorado pro athletes literally fell apart after strong early showings in the race, but they showed their gusto and perseverance and kept trucking onto what would be excellent finishes by any age grouper (me included!)Kudos to them.There were some impressive age grouper results from athletes I personally know, so it is good to see them coming along upholding the fast standard of the greater Boulder Tri Mecca.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the start and caught the start of the run as my 2 year old had his own plans/schedule.My primary job was more baby support than athlete support, as wifey is well experienced in the art of Ironman racing with this being her sixth Ironman. After a trip to the beach, the water park, dancing to some roadside music at the first aid station, lunch, then a nap, “mommy” ran by us about 1 mile into the final leg.She seemed in good spirits with lots of energy left.We headed back to the hotel and hit the pool, hot tub, then the pool again, repeat 100 times. Not much else was open on race day, so we were pretty much stuck with he-hem…Denny’s.It was next to impossible to move east to west in the city from block to block with all the closed off streets, so for adults and kids, sorry to say Denny’s was it. Entertaining a 2 year old away from home for an entire day without mommy is more difficult than doing an Ironman (I think).At least it was a heck of a lot more fun than doing an Ironman; there is something about kids that seems like a lot of work but yet, seems like fun you just can’t match doing anything else. Like I said, given the choice, I’ll be an IronMate at least until the myriad of doctors can figure out my ever increasing ailment that is causing me to slow and reduce training time by the week. I have another MRI tomorrow, which hopefully will tell me if I have a possible stress fracture in the hip or leg for 2 years. I wouldn’t know what if felt like if I had one, as I had one in my foot in college while running cross country.But the hip, that is another story so if anything, I just want to find out why I’ve been in “decline” for the last 2 years.It doesn’t really matter if it turns out to be a stress fracture or not, as long as I know. Being an IronMate is about all my current fitness level will allow anyhow, so it was fun to be on the other side this time around. The best part of the day came when wifey came across the finish, although an hour later than she hoped for.She proved that she still can finish Ironman AND reward herself with hundreds of dollars of Ironman clothes from the Ironman sales tent. Note to other athletes without kids:Ironman racing doesn’t have to end after kids come into the picture.
A little about Pentiction, it is great little town with a beautifully placed postcard waterfront. The water is clear, and I’ve enjoyed swimming the course each time visiting.There are some cute shops and nice paths to run on, just be weary of the poison ivy on trails if you venture off road.There are some warning signs posted throughout the city, but I played it safe while there and stayed on the concrete.As for biking, you have to go outside of town to surrounding communities and seek farming roads, as in town cycling is not very desirable or safe. This city really gets behind their Ironman event, and hordes of volunteers give up sleep race day just to work for the athletes. Would I do this even again?You bet, but not for a while. One time will do for a bit, at least until I try out some other courses.I’m not one to stick with the same exact races year in and year out, this sport is about adventure so new courses are always welcome in my book.That’s one reason I stopped taking my last 5 or 6 Hawaii Ironman qualification slots. Boredom. Kona just gets boring doing the same thing year after year—although there are droves of people that would love to IQ just one time.I’ve raced it 7x but never that well.I’m not much for heat, wind and hills.Living in Boulder, you’d think mountains would be my favorite, but I like the steady flats of say…Ironman Florida where it is mano-e-mano and there is nowhere to hide. It is really a drag race of speed over distance and not as many tactics are involved. Just pedal to the metal for 140.6 miles, not favoring a strength rider or a hill runner…just who is quickest at a flat out all day long drag race.
Penticton is a strength course for sure, so bulky strong guys like this year’s winner can stamp out the competition and seem fairly out of breath at the end, jumping around, etc. How do they do that so easily when everyone else coming in after them seems destroyed to say the least? Seems to be a common trait of Ironman winners these days, like it really didn’t phase them to go that fast over a 140.6 course. The winner looked more like he belonged in a body building competition than a triathlon. Anyhow, their talent and fitness are truly inspiring to the rest of us and gives hope that we too can improve with solid dedication to fitness if we so want it bad enough.I’ve posted some pictures to look at from race day on the run, so enjoy the views on what were excellent early race day conditions.I’m not sure who is who in all of the pictures, but maybe some visitors will know upon looking at them.Sure I could look up the bib #’s and find the names, but it doesn’t really matter to me much—I’ll save that for the detective types out there. The later finishers had a much harder set of conditions to deal with on the run and bike as winds increased late afternoon.Until next week, keep reaching for the “still water” and swim your way back to KK’s Post often.