Friday, November 25, 2011
What defines a successful season? Every year I set out a series of goals and typically I define success in terms of those goals. My goals for this year were to PR in the HIM and Qualify for USAT Half Max, To break 13 hours at Ironman Canada, to Qualify for USAT Nationals in the Olympic distance, finish in the top 7 for my AG in a tri this year, and to improve my USAT ranking score.
Well at the end of the year I only managed to do one of those as somehow I improved my USAT score for the year (really have no clue how that score is calculated.) Based on that I wouldn't consider this to be a very successful year. However, sometimes you have to look at things a bit differently based on the way the season actually played out.
2011 started out great, I was feeling great training well over the winter and feeling very optimistic, then I started to feel some pain in my left foot/heel which steadily got worse and worse. Turns out it was Plantar factias. Never had anything like it. Took 3 weeks off with no running, bought a PF boot to sleep in, bought heel cups, but nothing seems to work. FInally I learned how to massage it by rolling a can on the arch of my foot and it helped. But that just helped my manage the pain.
Started the season with a local race 5K for the 25 for the Metropolitan Veternatery Associates (the folks who operated on Cairo and fixed his knees) and Main Line Animal Rescue and actually won my age group. The next day I did the Revolutionary Run at Valley FOrge and I was in agony for the first 2 miles till in seemed to fix itself for a while but it was about 6 min slower than last year.
So I babied it as well as I could and then started to shift my goals and schedule around and my running really was cut back. So I thought, if I couldn't go fast maybe I could do some different. So I ended up doing 3 HIMs in 5 weeks(Rev3 Knoxville, Rev3 Quazzy, and Eagleman) and the OLY/HIM weekend double at Quazzy and 3 races in 8 days (Double at Quazzy and Eagleman). None of the times were spectacular, but using the Recovery Pump and First Endurance UltraGen I found that even my 41 year old legs could spring back. I even ripped of a 2:38 bike split at Eagleman (21.21 MPH ave) for my first 20+ ave split in any race longer than a sprint. All in all I had to call my little experiment a success and it was a great testamonial for Recovery Pump and Ultragen, both of which really worked for me.
Next was Ironman Canada. The race was without a doubt the hardest IM bike and run course I had ever completed. But I ended up making it even rougher for myself by shipping my EFS in my gear bag and sitting out in my transition bag in 90+ degree temps and guess what it went bad at the bottom of the first flask. As soon as I took it, my body rejected it and every other bit of nutrition I tried for the next 60 miles. Of course this happen right at the bottom of Reicter Pass, so I had to battle 2 1000 + ft climbs and the seven sisters unable to keep anything but water down. That was so friggin hard and I never wanted to quit more then I did. But something inside just wouldn't let me throw in the towel. I managed some amazing mental and physical damage control and found my way to T2. The volunteer at T2 will never know how much he helped me. I neer would have gotten out of that chair without his help and encouragement. So I waddled out to the marathon and an amazing thing happened, I got through it. I ran aid station to aid station, but I ran and kept running. Coming down Lakeshore Dr having overcome so much on that day, I never ever felt so proud. My second slowest Ironman ever 14:14 but I never had to work so hard in my life. Was that a success...absolutely!
Finally I did the Rev3 South Carolina HIM in October. First ever race post Ironman and a nice hilly course. So noone including myself saw a 5:35 coming, my second fastest HIM out of 16 tries and a 1:54 HM spilt in my best run of the season (and my foot was pain free for the first time all year). Didn't qualify for Half Max but my 2nd fastest HIM out of 16 attempts was very rewarding and unexpected.
After the Tri season was over, I did another 5K (5K for HOPE) in memory of Dawn Leach, a friend of my wife who passed from Breast Cancer this summer. Again I surprised myself by finishing 8th OA, winning my AG and getting a 5K PR by 1 second. That was definitely a success.
So was 2011 a success? In the end, I'd have to say yes!