Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Still in a funk

That virus last week really kicked my ass. I went out yesterday to run an easy 1 hr and after 35 minutes, I called it quits. Today, I did nothing. In fact, I'll probably do nothing until Sunday. I feel drained. Just really fatigued. On my drive back from Greenwich, I do everything I can to stay awake including slapping myself in the face. It's a shitty feeling - to feel this fatigued four days out from a marathon. It is what it is though - no sense in worrying about yesterday let alone last week or last month.

Tomorrow afternoon, Big Rocks, Gus and I are heading into NYC to do the expo and pick up race packets. Should be fun.

Cheers,

EH

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Taper

Sorry it's been awhile. Besides the fact that last week was interesting, to say the least, I never want to force anything here. Going to a blog where things may be posted daily but they are just a recount of daily chores is nothing but boring.

I am five days out from NYC. Am I excited? Not like I should be. My immunity has been beat up since September. I posted about how I caught an upper respiratory illness in September that really hampered my training. Well, I think that I wasn't fully recovered upon embarking on the quick Hawaii trip. I also commented how I lose a full nights sleep on the flight back from Hawaii.

The week I got home, my son Ryan came down with a small stomach bug. It lasted just 18 hours with him and then he was fine. Kids are so resilient. With my weakened immune system and coming off of the trip, I must have picked this up. Last Sunday, I went for a long run in the morning and felt pretty good. While bringing Ryan home later that day from soccer practice, I began to feel achy. I tried ignoring this and went out to work on the trail I've been making in the woods in my back yard. Coming in for dinner, I felt worse, so I skipped dinner and went to bed. That right there should have told me I was in for a ride. Me skipping a meal AND on top of that, going to bed early... The writing was on the wall.

Monday was spent in bed, nauseous and shivering one minute, sweating the next. I drank fluids but ate next to nothing. Around 12:45am on Tuesday, I awoke sweating and feeling really nauseous. I started getting that tightness under the chin in the throat region that you get before hurling so I jumped out of bed and the next thing I know, Lisa was in a panic, waking me up from blacking out on the bathroom floor. The cold tile felt better than my bed did and I lay there a moment, disoriented and still feeling nauseous. I got up and bam, my eyes rolled back and down I went again. I awoke to hear Lisa dialing 911. I told her not to - that i'd be fine. I'd passed out once before - when my back went out almost two years ago. I know that if you have a very low resting heart rate and resting blood pressure and that if you have been lying on your back all day and suddenly jump out of bed, you'll bottom out and down you go. As we waited for Monroe EMS to arrive, I teased Lisa about her itchy trigger finger and dialing 911. I mentioned that I won't be able to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without her calling 911.

It must have been a slow night in Monroe because soon enough, four EMT's were standing in my bedroom. The head guy was giving his spiel as I interrupted saying stubbornly that I understood his reasoning, but that I wasn't going to the ER and that I had a virus, stood up to quick and just felt a bit dehydrated. I'd pound the gatorade all day and be fine. Then I thought that I had the marathon in less than two weeks and that an IV may do me some good so the next thing you know, I'm in St. Vincent's ER in Bridgeport. It was a quiet night there, relatively speaking, so they hooked me up with an IV right away.

Talk about perspective; this woman was in the "booth" next to me, us being separated by a sheet wall. The noises coming out of her - I thought she was snoring, however she was wide awake. Her breathing was making me more nauseous. A small Asian woman doctor goes in to interview her. She has been in and out of three hospitals in the last month. She has severe emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. She still smokes, down from three packs to one per day. She is divorced with two kids. She was laid off from Walmart a year ago, she gained 100 pounds over the last year and, oh yeah, she was a crystal meth addict and still sees a meth clinic daily.

Soon, I received my second IV as my current neighbor was issued to a room in the hospital and I received a new one. This one was a guy who came in with his wife, 56 years old from Westport, feeling nauseous and dizzy. Every time the automatic bp cuff pumped up around his arm, he whined like a little school girl. Besides prozac, the only other med he was on was a Cialis he took over the weekend.

I never saw any of my ER neighbors, nor did I want to. I did though get started on a third IV and some anti-nausea medicine. Oh, and I hadn't pee'd yet. The doctor on call finally came in and looked at me and said that I had a bad virus, it's been going around and that I was dehydrated, and needed to let the virus run it's course. I was released at 5am but had to wait until 8am for Lisa to come get me. Tuesday night my temperature hovered around 102 for most of the evening. I didn't sleep that night as well, other than 20 minutes here or there. Wednesday, the temperature was back to normal. I was just really achy and still had no appetite. And I still had this intense frontal headache that made it hurt to see. Thursday, I finally began to come around.

I waited until Sunday to run again, and it felt like crap, but I was running again at least. I had a lot of time to reflect back on how I let myself get so depleted. Basically it comes down to the fact that you are vulnerable if you have young kids in school, work hard, train hard, and don't get enough sleep. Throw on top of that some hectic travel and you are a green light for virus's and germs. I also know that if I had been training for Hawaii, I would have been paying much closer attention to sleep and nutrition - and I don't need another wake up call like this anytime soon to reiterate the importance of these two things.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Track Session

Went to the track today. I don't deserve to be there considering the way I have felt lately combined with the inconsistent training. Hawaii was definitely good for my motivation and for giving me a good kick in the ass wake up call. I never really let myself get out of shape but there is a huge difference between staying in shape and training to be race ready. At least there is in my book.

The plan was to run a 2.5 mile warm-up, then run 6 X 1 mile at 6 min/mile pace w/ a 1/4 mi easy jog in between each and a 1.5 mile cooldown. Surprisingly, this session felt easy. I ran the warm-up at 7 min/mi pace, then did the mile repeats at 6 min, 5:58, 5:56, 5:56, 5:52, 5:50.

This session was encouraging in that I'm not over the top spent. Yet, I know myself and if I were to take out the marathon at 6 min/mile pace, I'd be fine for maybe 18 miles. Unfortunately, a marathon isn't 18 miles. My plan at this point is to run 6:30's.

As great as it was running in Hawaii, it is hard to beat running in CT in the peak foliage.

I said I wouldn't go political on this post, but curious as to peoples reaction on the debate last night. Both of these candidates made me nauseous.

Cheers,

EH

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Traveling East

Endurance athletes don't really suffer from jet lag because they are constantly fatigued, so it doesn't make much of a difference!

I travel west easily - meaning I adapt to the time zone changes easily, however, traveling east hits me a bit harder. I can't sleep on a plane, which means that when I travel east, I basically loose a nights sleep. This tends to hit me two days later, meaning today.

I was with a pt appointment today and was doing everything I could to stay awake. Some personal trainer! I started by doing some rotation exercisers along with her, but I was still dosing off. I then resorted to self inflicted pain by ramming a weighted bar into my toes and by bitch slapping myself when she wasn't looking. I was then doing the head bobbing while driving home. So I chewed gum, rolled down the windows, cranked some tunes, ...

I did squeeze in an easy 1 hr run. Well, "easy" is relative. The pace was easy in that it was slow. However, the effort still didn't feel easy. The good news is that I felt better in the last 20 minutes. On a day like today though, with the trees bursting in colors, the sun out, and temperatures in the 70's, how could you have a bad run?

I think that the fatigue is more the fact that I loose some sleep on the travel west, stay very busy while away, then loose a full night on the return. It's more a cumulative thing.

By the way, I don't know if any of you had a chance to read my Hawaii course description on my home page but I highly recommended that you race this race in a well vented helmet rather than an aero one. Guess what the two winners wore?

Hawaii pictures are coming.

Cheers,

EH

Monday, October 13, 2008

Departure Day

Well, this trip certainly went by quick. But hey, I get to sit on a plane again for 10 hours! Our flight leaves today at 5pm and we fly through the night – typical of all the flights I’ve had out of Hawaii. I don’t sleep well on planes so it looks like it will be an all nighter.

I remember back in 2002 on departure day, Lisa and I were killing time in the early afternoon walking around the Waikoloa Hilton. Lisa didn’t feel well and I suggested jokingly that maybe she was pregnant. At first, she joked with me, but soon enough, we were in the pharmacy purchasing one of those home pregnancy tests, and found out Lisa had our daughter in her belly.

Baker and I were going to head out for one last run here in Hawaii and then get in a swim at the pier. Megan shot me a text message saying she and her husband Chon were having breakfast in the resort restaurant if I’d like to join them, so I stopped to chat before beginning my run. Megan looked great considering she raced here just 12 hours prior. She was still fired up on adrenaline and we rehashed the day.

I then ran back down into the pit. As I was running out, I saw Chris Leigh and Luke Bell running in. These two guys are very cool. I felt a bit sluggish, but was moving at a decent clip. The run along Alii felt crappy, but again, my pace was solid. I try not to put too much weight into an odd shitty run, especially considering that I haven’t been sleeping much and have been very busy. And to be honest, it’s hard to have a shitty run when it’s sunny and warm and your views are of palm trees and oceans.

There were a lot of people out training this morning still – non-racers of course. Baker and I met up at the pier and headed out for a swim. I have swum three times since a tri I did in June, all in the past four days.

Some of my race day/week observations: All week when I’d ask an athlete how their prep went for Hawaii, 90% of the time, the answer was not as great as they wanted – they have a small injury or missed some training here or there. This was then followed up with “I’m just going to give it my best shot and do what I can” in a self doubting kind of way. The race week nerves gets in an athletes head. They start looking at all the fit hard bodies and start doubting themselves. Before you know it, they are tossing out excuses to give themselves an out in case something goes wrong on race day. I’m not being critical or judging here, just stating the obvious and pointing out that it’s a normal psychological reaction. There are 10% who have figured out how to firmly believe that they are ready to rip it up. Learn from their self confidence and how they change or create this state and it’ll erase your own race day self doubt. On race day, I continue to see many ignoring their bike pacing, riding at an effort that they can ride, but not one that will set them up to run well. At Kawaihai, I witnessed lots of drafting and also lots of very clean riding. Those that say it’s hard to ride clean now in these races don’t want to. If you attend this race and aren’t moved in some way on race day as a spectator, than something is clearly not right. You may think “it’s just not that person’s thing” but there is something powerful and remarkable on race day that rubs off on just about everyone. I have, in time, including this year, witnessed those who don’t cheer for the athletes and are there out of what seems to be obligation or other binding reasons but would rather be elsewhere. Strange.

Baker and I were driving out to the airport and saw a woman on a bike with an EH jersey! I have no clue who she is. Never saw her before. Traffic prevented us from stopping to ask.

Baker took a bunch of pictures that I’ll put up as a gallery on the home page.

Cheers,

EH

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Race Day

Last year, I came out to work this race and I remember thinking "man, I'm glad I'm not racing this year!" If that's not a sign of being a bit burnt mentally, than I don't know what is. This year, I kept thinking "man, I wish I was racing today!"

The vog that had been hanging around making things cooler from the overcast was a no show today. Nothing but the strong bright sun, raising temps to the typical Ironman weather. The wind was light early on and the pros and faster age groupers bike splits displayed this. However, if you took a bit longer to get out to Kawaihai, the climb up to Hawi brought out those infamous Kona tradewinds. Things did cloud over during most of the run though. It certainly wasn't the easiest day in Kona, but it wasn't close to the hardest. But this is Kona and this race is just naturally brutal. It's the toughest Ironman out there. OK, I have never raced Lanzarote but the conditions and competition make this one the hardest.

This race is powerful. I watched many run, walk and stumble up Palani Hill and thought about the desolate 14 miles they still had to run out on the Queen K. I again wished I could re-experience this. It's a powerful thing and if you aren't moved by this day in some way, then something is wrong.

Desiree had a very difficult day, but she is a competitor and the real deal and will come back next year motivated and stronger mentally. Megan - Megan is tough as nails. She had a challenging ride and then knocked off a 3:50 marathon to finish in 12 hours. Very nice, especially considering that most don't do well that do the LP, Kona double. I ran with Mandy, the birthday girl, up Palani and she seemed a bit out of it. She's a fighter though and hung in there to finish in 12:20. Chris Nook and Trephina G., Ange's athletes, seemed like they were taking in the experience.

That's just what this day is - an unbelievable experience. Crossing this finish line is like no other. Those who say they don't get all the fuss around Kona have never raced it. Usually, they are the ones who truly want to race it.

Congratulations to Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington who epitomize the spirit of this sport and race with talent, passion, and enthusiasm. They were brilliant here today, as were the other 1700 finishers.

I'll get some pictures up tomorrow, but for now, I'm out!

Cheers,

EH

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hawaii 08 day 2

Slept until 6am this morning! That's quite good for me. The vog (volcanic fog) here in Kailua has been horrible - it's been overcast and it messes with your sinus's. However, it is definitely cooler than usual and without the harsh sun beating down here, expect fast times tomorrow.






I headed out for a run at 7am. Same plan as yesterday - a 1 hour run followed by a nice ocean swim. Finishing up my run, I ran into Mandy, John H. and Megan. I chatted with them for a bit - Mandy and Megan are ready to roll. Look out for them tomorrow! - then I jumped into the pacific at the pier with Megan for an easy swim. I told her I was swimming out to get a coffee and she thought I was going to swim a mile up, hop out of the water and go to Lava Java in my speedo and get a coffee! I mean, I'm a freak Megan, but come on! I took my waterproof camera with me and Megan and I swam out to the swim up coffee boat. On the return trip, I ran into this swimming partner:




Baker and I grabbed some breakfast at Lava Java - this place has gone over the top in popularity! then expo time. I had some more meetings and made sure that Desiree is all set for tomorrow with her My Athlete device. Make sure you track her on http://www.myathletegps.com/ , username and password ma1 and ma1.


The expo ended at noon, and after breaking everything down and a stop at Fed Ex, I took Baker and Andy up to Hapuna Beach. Hapuna Beach is just an amazing place. It's beautiful, clear water, soft, fine sand, and is encapsulated in a crescent shaped cove. The wind was low so the break was calm, and we just floated around in the ocean for awhile. My first year racing in Hawaii, Lisa and I spent some time here at this beach. I remember going there the day after the race in 96' when I wore socks that were too thick and blistered so bad that I basically lost a bunch of layers of skin on the bottom of both feet. These raw, open wounds didn't take kindly to the hot sand and salty water. Anyways, besides the fact that this is one of the worlds best beaches, I have incredibly fond memories of the great times that Lisa and I have spent on this island. As I floated around, it lead to these thoughts:
Sure, this is an incredible Island, but my experiences on this island are what created my fondness here, and I can't expect others to appreciate it the way I do, even though I hope they do. The fact that this incredible event takes place on this island has been great, but the real fondness comes from the experiences that Lisa and I have shared here. Her witnessing me through the Ironman, us exploring the cool places on this island - it's always been consistent and has created a deep memory base of great times that I'll never take for granted.
I spoke with my father today. He asked if I was bummed about not being a participant this year. I told him that last year I came here and though "man, I'm kind of glad I'm not racing this year!" This year, my thoughts are "man, I wish I was racing this year!". Interesting what a year or two off will do.
Many have discussed the effects of the vog from a health perspective. My take is that on race day, you'd much rather deal with the potential health issues created by the vog and have cloud cover and cooler temperatures than have that intense sun beating down on you. If it stays like it has the last few days here, there will be some very fast times tomorrow. However, I have raced here enough to know that the weather one day is no indication of what you will get the next.
Cheers,
EH

Friday, October 10, 2008

Aloha!

Baker and I left my house at 5am on Wednesday morning to make the trip to the big island they call Hawaii. 22 hours later, we reached our destination. Yes, that's right - 22 hours. My math tells me that we should be in Beijing, but no, we are in Hawaii. We flew from Westchester to Chicago first and it was great - we had the emergency exit rows. Then, we boarded the full flight to Honolulu. The plane was a 2 seat, 5 seat, 2 seat deal. Baker sat in the dead middle of the 5 seater, I in the same spot directly behind him. I had some guy to my right that slept the whole time on this 9 hour portion of our trip, and the guy on my left I could tell wanted to talk right away. That is why I put on my headphones. Then, we get stuck in Honolulu for 6 hours because an island hopper plane broke down.

We made it to our hotel 22 hours after leaving my house, in the dark of the night. I was anxious, tired, and a bit frustrated, as was Baker.

I awoke today, first at 2am, then at 3am, finally getting up at 4 am here which is 10am back east. I put on my running clothes and took my swim goggles and ran from our hotel out to Alii drive and down into the pit. It didn't take long before I was smiling, glad to be back on this incredible small piece of earth in the middle of the pacific. This place is therapeutic for me. I ran down into the pit, remembering back in the 90's the original course that was, in my opinion, better and more challenging than the new course. Don't get me wrong, the new course is still great. The sun came up as I climbed out of the pit and I saw a legendary familiar silhouette running on the opposite side of the road. Dave scott and I exchanged waves - the guy seems to have the fountain of youth figured out. I ran along Alii, seeing the many fit athletes doing the same on both sides, and taking in the views of the pacific rolling in on my right. My mind went to thoughts of my past races on this road. I have left a deep part of myself here, digging into places - reserves I didn't know I had.Yet I still view this all as fond memories - memories that I strive to remember rather than nightmares I want to forget. I was naturally smiling as I ran down Alii which is very cool. I'm extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn about myself in such an amazing event and place.

I reached the busy pier and changed into some swim gear and dove in. This is where I decompress from the long flight out and really just relax. I've discussed this swim here before in detail in previous journals and posts, so I won't bore again. Everyone needs to find one special personal thing that grounds them, and this swim is it for me. Even though there are usually a bunch of swimmers in the water around me, I don't see anything but the ocean and the fish. I swam out to the catamaran serving coffee at the 1/2 mile buoy where Scott Molina handed me a nice shot of espresso - cool and cool, before swimming back in.

The underwear run went off at 8am and I told Baker earlier that we should get some people participating in it to wear My Athlete devices and get some photos. When it came time, instead of soliciting, I took one for the team and participated in my black boxer briefs. Brennan, you hear that?! I've boycotted this event since it's inception in 97' or 98' but I have to admit, it was liberating. Megan S., one of my athletes participated as well. She's ready to roll here and if you get a chance, check out her blog at http://www.runlikeamother.org/.

Ok, so a busy day/trip thus far, and it's not even 9am here yet. Baker and I hit Lava Java before the expo began. As I awaited in the line out the door, I saw a special table section set up here with some woman wearing the team shirts for Norman Stadler's German team. His team manager had contacted me inquiring about My Athlete and was one of the people I needed to meet up with today. I went over and introduced myself and they called Jan (the team manager) and then asked me to wait and fed me. I sucked down three iced Kona coffees during my productive meeting with Jan and discussed the opportunities with My Athlete and his European based team. He's a smart business guy and is really fired up about the potential of My Athlete. While meeting with him, Desiree Ficker strolled into Lava Java and I met with her quickly and set her up with her race day device. She's a contender for top three on race day. I spent time in a bunch of other meetings and the enthusiasm of business people behind this product is amazing. It's been fun for me to delve into another business and experience.

The Cannondale guys had a full cooler of beer at the expo thanks to Wolfie, Faris Alsultan's bud, so we hung out there for a bit shooting the shit at the end of the expo.

After a nice dinner at Huggos, I'm sitting out on water at the moment watching the Manta Rays swimming in the moonlight. There are five of them circling around, and I just convinced two woman that the guy at the end of the patio in the Hawaiin shirt (Andy) is going to swim with them in 15 minutes like he does every evening.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Join me for my run today?

I ran a very hard 2 hrs 5 min yesterday, so today calls for an easy 65 minutes in the trails near my house:
























Thanks for coming along!

Cheers,

EH

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Just another Sunday...

However, I switched up the routine today. Typically, I meet Kenny O. to run long on Sunday mornings. We (lisa, the kids, and I) were out until 1am last night which is definitely out of the norm for us. Ken bailed on the run, and when I awoke and saw rain, after 4 hours sleep, I decided to relax and hang with the family. Later this afternoon, we all got in a strength training session - yeah, Lisa, Ryan, Kate and I. For those looking for a bit of diversity and a great strength session, give this a shot (my afternoon training today):

3 sets of everything.

1. 25 v-ups, followed by 20 push-ups w/ feet elevated, followed by 40 reps on the Vasa Trainer with the elevation set at it's max.

2. 25 double crunches, followed by incline dumbell bench press (15 reps), followed by lat pull downs (15 reps)

3. 20 roll outs (abs with wheel) followed by shoulder presses (15 reps) and then side shoulder raises (15 reps)

4. planks (90 sec) followed by curls, followed by triceps cable press (15 reps for the curls and tris)

5. punch the heavy bag for a bit

6. I have a steep driveway. I did 10 bounding sprints up the driveway.

Patriots are winning, so all is good here today.

This week will be very busy. I am heading out to Kona on Wednesday and I'll be blogging daily from there. My message board has been absolutely dead lately. I am in the process of trying to reorganize it to make it less clicks and maybe more inviting. It is Hawaii week though and it's time to post your top five picks. I'll start a thread up so hopefully, some of you will chime in and help resurrect this board.


I've been listening to my music loaded on this computer as I type this and some great tunes have come up. Some are old, but worth relistening to. Download this:

Lucky Man, The Verve - another great song by a great band. This is an older cut but just solid.
Invisible Sun, The Police - The police - my all time favorite band. This is just a great track period.
Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas - I listen to everything. If this song doesnt get you moving, something is seriously wrong.

Cheers,

EH

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tough September

Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. The important thing is to not dwell on this, and instead, adjust and roll.

I wanted to use September as a big month of running that would take me to a point where running a 6 minute mile for 2.5 hours would feel right. My plan was to build my weekly volume up and work in one tempo session and one interval session each week. I shut down the bike training and was ready to focus exclusively on running. The month began with the Labor Day road race in New Haven where I had back issues. No worries though, I’d put this race behind me and move on. Shortly thereafter, I began feeling very tired and then, sure enough, it hit me – one hell of a virus. It started with my daughter and progressed to Lisa and myself. I shut down the training for 5 days. Still quite stuffed up, I started back up again and the energy just wasn’t there. I trained for three days, then feeling wiped out still, took three more days off. For the rest of September, this seemed to be the pattern.

So I find myself now, on October 1st, way behind were I anticipated being in terms of my training for the NYC marathon one month away. I’m not going to beat myself up over September. Shit happens. At the same time I can’t help but wonder why this hit me so hard. And as much as I’d love to search and find a reason that is easy on my psyche, the fact is that when it comes right down to it, I’m a triathlete. What I mean by this is that had I been training for Hawaii or another big triathlon like Clearwater last year, this wouldn’t have hit me so hard. I know that it’s easy to call bullshit on this. “You just got sick, don’t over-read it.” But I let my defenses get so low. I have been extremely busy with all these different projects I’m involved in and my nutrition hasn’t been picture perfect as well. I wasn’t trying to sabotage my marathon. I still had big goals for race day. Yet, when training for big triathlons in the past, I’d never let my guard down as I did in September. I wasn’t as focused as I should have been.

I’m still excited to run NYC and experience it. I’ve readjusted my goals a bit. I’m not giving myself an out – I just want to be realistic. Originally, I was aiming for a sub 2:40 race, and now I’ll be content with a sub 2:55. I still know that I’m capable of a sub 2:40. Maybe that’ll have to wait until Boston. At the moment, I want to get back to feeling good on my runs and feeling healthy again, not feeling like I need to stop 15 minutes into a 40 minute commute and take a nap.

What I have realized is that I do love the triathlon lifestyle. I enjoy cross training and I feel much more well rounded when I am doing more than just one of the disciplines. And I definitely feel more stimulated mentally. This time of year reminds me of preparing for Hawaii. It reminds me of overdressing for autumn training. Of riding in beautiful foliage while most are hanging up their road machines for the season. As much as I love reminiscing about these great times, I know I’m at a point where my focus needs to be more balanced and that’s all right. I’ll be racing an Ironman again in the future. Right now though, it’s time to shift priorities and that’s cool as well.