Reflections of 2011

It’s that time of the year again, to take a look back on this past year and reflect on my race performances and training. During this year’s training, I traversed a total of:

  • 33,6217 yards or 191 miles of swimming
  • 2,039 miles of cycling
  • 1,023 miles of running

I started the year with three goals. But just to let you know up front, I only achieved one of them. They were:

  1. Complete an Ironman triathlon.
  2. Finish in the top 5 of the Malibu Triathlon.
  3. Qualify for the Boston Marathon.

You might recall I started 2011 with a hip injury I incurred last December during the Tuscon Marathon. So I remember focusing on rehabilitation, strength, and conditioning for the first quarter of the year. With some great physical therapy, I recovered in time to make my running debut at the San Dieguito half marathon. That course was a lot of fun with quite a few rolling hills. Although I quasi-promised my physical therapist that I would run it in two hours, I was very pleased with my time of 1:47.

Easing my way back into running, my buddy and I were shooting for a sub-5 hr time at the Oceanside race. I ended up having a decent race. But for the second year in a row, I suffered with cramps during the run portion of the race after a good bike split. I can’t be too disappointed with my time of 5:27. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the coming year if I expect to have any chance of finishing this tough course in under five hours. This year I plan to do more strength training. I’m hoping that going back to the gym will help mitigate against cramps by building up my muscular strength. I find it difficult not to go too hard while cycling so I can have enough juice for the run. I’m reluctant to ease up on the bike portion since it’s my strongest part of triathlon.

The middle portion of 2011 focused on training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. When I look back on the training and the race itself, it’s unimaginable that I even did that race. Seriously, I am amazed at how driven I was. Training seemed like having a second job, with 15-18 hrs of training per week in addition to working full time. At this point, I do not plan on doing another Ironman in 2012. I can’t see myself doing that insane training again during the next twelve months.

There aren’t very many people in the world who can claim the moniker of Ironman, so I’ll always be proud of that. After having completed the biggest race of my life, I honestly believe I can do almost anything I put my mind to, with or without diarrhea! You’ll have to read my Ironman race report to understand that one.

Other than the race experience itself, the peak of physical fitness and endurance that I felt the week before the race was an unbelievable feeling. My training certainly prepared for that race because the feeling of power, speed, and strength that I felt is indescribable.

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Reflections on 2009

This reflective post is long overdue now that we are more than half way into the first month of 2010. When I think back on my athletic adventures of 2009, it really boils down to three phases.

Phase 1  (Jan- Apr) — The Triple Crown: I started out the year with a focus on running, something I had begin in October 2008. My primary goal for the year was to complete the Triple Crown of San Diego half marathons. I clearly remember running my first half marathon (Carlsbad 2009) wondering if I could complete it in under two hours. The finish line never looked so beautiful for that first half marathon. Apparently, my base level of fitness was not as high as I thought it was. After that race, I had cramps in my calves and feet. When I completed it well under two hours with a time of 1:52:10, I knew I was on my way.

Up next in Phase 1 was the La Jolla Half Marathon. I had heard so much hype about this race, about how difficult it would be with “all the hills”. For the most part, I trained near my home by doing hill repeats up a local street near the local community college. Funny, my personal trainer said that I was a “badass” when I showed him the hill. In retrospect, it was more like a bunny slope compared to what was to come later on in the year. I really believe I could have set another PR at the La Jolla Half, but instead I settled for finishing under two hours again and a major lesson learned. Note to self: Do not eat lots of fiber the night before a race.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my personal trainer had been whispering “triathlon” in my ear during this time. In February I purchased a book to help me train for my first triathlon in 12 weeks.

Phase 2 (May-Oct) — Triathlon: With a couple of half marathons, 10Ks, and 5Ks under my belt, I focused on my first triathlon, a sport that I vowed that I would never do. And now look at me; I have an entire blog devoted to triathlon. So it’s no secret that I like race bling. For my first triathlon, the Spring Sprint, I raced the Super Sprint race, for which only the winner in each division would receive a medal. My personal trainer told me to put any thought of winning out of my mind. He said people spend years chasing the podium and never get on. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to him. I entered the race with all intentions of winning, and that’s exactly what happened. A key decision I made a few days before the race was to take my training to the next level, and so I decided to sign up with Breakaway Training.

During this phase I focused on my training with Breakaway. My coach, Luke Walton (no, not the lame one from the Lakers), wrote challenging custom workouts for me. The group workouts were humbling at first. I learned that I was not that great compared to some experienced triathletes on the team. Despite my initial discouragement with how much I would have to improve, I forged ahead, working very hard in my training while balancing full-time work and going to school part-time. It’s a wonder I didn’t drive my coach crazy with how impatient I was with myself.

I competed in four other triathlons with varying results. I didn’t get the race results I wanted (i.e. top three spots), but in each one I made improvements in the various aspects involved in doing triathlon. The interesting thing about this time period is that I must have made many small improvements over time because in October I noticed a significant improvement in my cycling and running.

When I traveled to Austin, Texas for the LIVESTRONG Challenge, my cycling and running speeds were significantly faster.

Phase 3 (Nov-Dec) — The Chase: Whatever madness to his methods, my coach was definitely putting together a very successful training program for me. During this phase I finished in the top three spots in all my 10K and 5K races, as well as set a new sub-1:45 half marathon PR. It was during this time that I began to chase the sub-20-minute 5K. With respect to cycling, on our last 20K time trial on Fiesta Island I averaged 25 mph WITHOUT drafting off our top athlete.

In retrospect, 2009 was a banner year. I think I’ve done really well given the eight months of training with Breakaway.

For 2010, I intend to complete a 5K in under 20 minutes, improve my swimming, and focus on the half Ironman triathlon distance as well as complete my first marathon.