Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Tri-LifeGear

A new sponsor for my readers and athletes is Tri Life Gear of Troy, Virginia.

I have extended family and friends in Charlottesville, Virginia, so I already knew about the shop.  Hit the website for your triathlon, cycling, running and swimming needs and get a 15% off when you use the password: "Kokua".

Wes and the TriLifeGear staff pride themselves on customer service.  Rest assured that they will do everything as soon as humanly possible to help you with your needs.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning to Fly

The Birdcage - 

Val:         Agador, why aren't you wearing your shoes? 
Agador:  [manly voice] I do not wear the shoes... because... they make me fall down. 

This is where I'm supposed to talk about the latest craze of barefoot running right?  Wrong.  Don't get me wrong - I'm sure there is something there, but not for me in the way it is being hyped.  I have other fish to fry.  I've been losing weight and people have started to notice.  I've lost a pant size (always nice).  I've done four months of running at aerobic pace - ego firmly checked at the gym door.  Hours of elliptical "extra opportunities for greatness" work to burn more calories.

I've never really had great coaching in running.  I know heart rates, paces, power and form things at an intermediate level.  I've never FELT the difference in MY running.

Monday evening, I spent three hours with Janet Leet.  Who is Janet Leet?  Beside a 32:30 10,000 meter runner?  

Janet has over 30 years experience in Cross Country and Track & Field. She has several honors and accomplishments:

New Jersey's High School Cross-Country Athlete of the Century; 
ACC 50 Year Team in Cross Country, Indoor Track, & Outdoor Track; 
Kinney (Foot Locker) Cross Country National Champion; 
28 x New Jersey State Champion; 
10 x Collegiate Division I All American; 
23rd at the World Cross Country Championships; 
Team USA Champion; 
2 x Olympic Trials qualifier
and... former elite runner

Add to this - one hell of a teacher / coach.

Janet actually was able to show me how to recruit the right muscles into my running.  In swimming this is known as a "feel for the water".  I haven't had a great "feel for the pavement" in eight years. We spent time on muscle recruitment and using my own musculature and skeleton to generate power.  It's there.  I surprised myself with some bursts of speed.  It was very cool to feel that again... or for the very first time (with context of anatomy and physiology).

Janet's enthusiasm is infectious.  The mix with my personality and desire to ignite my running was a perfect storm.  

The running I've done since is such a marked improvement that I won't even put the numbers in the blog entry because they are dramatic.  The run now feels like my swim.  I know what I need to do and how to correct it in order to run like a real athlete.  

Looks like I have a run specific coach and I'm one step closer to my stretch goals.

Big announcement tomorrow....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some Effort May be Required

Sunday the Chicago Bulls swept the Miami Heat in their regular season series.  The same Miami team that had a championship like celebration when LeBron James signed with the team before the "big three" even had a practice together.  I guess they didn't think about the fact that the rest of their team is below average and there is only one ball.  Additionally, "King James" has a chink in his armor - he has repeatedly shown that he is mentally weak and is still learning some basketball basics in spite of being an eight year NBA veteran.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Perhaps someone should tell the "king" he has no clothes on.  Pounding on the Miami Heat is low hanging fruit.  I'll just enjoy the Bulls success thus far and the Miami struggle.  I don't like people who want everything given to them - LeBron's athletic track record in my opinion.

Applied to all sports, you need to try.  I'm a big fan of work ethic.

The greatest coach I've ever been fortunate enough to work with didn't care how talented you were.  He wanted your best effort.  Give him your best every day and regardless of your final results - you were a champion in his eyes.  Funny...  how those teams always seemed to do really well (read: won three straight state championships).  

Effort is required to be at the top of any sport.  Greg LeMond said it best, "It never gets easier, you just get faster."  Very true.

Today was the first "real" track workout of the year.  As I sit here typing, I'm still wheezing, coughing and I'm just waiting for a killer leg cramp.  I was dry heaving at the track.  Hard days are really hard.  This is the price of improved running and mental toughness.

Not crying in a locker room.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Fight

This morning it was a fight to get out of bed.  Tuesday was a big swim and then a killer brick and breakthrough running effort.  My two hour evening session felt easy - even with big power numbers and fast (for me) running splits.  That usually means getting out of bed is going to be really hard.  It was.  Knowing that today was another really tough swim - a fast, painful swim - didn't help at all.  I turned off my alarm clock and stayed there a second.  I easily could have stayed in bed.  Then I thought about a few folks, my last half Ironman and I had my clothes on before I knew it.

After winning the battle against my bed's tractor beam it seemed that everyone driving was still drunk and/or really tired too.  Once moving, just keep moving.  A body in motion, stays in motion.

The swim was as painful as promised.  The heart rate hit the numbers that I get in really big efforts.  On the main set, the most painful set this day; I suggested we do "fly" on the last set.  Everyone in the pool looked at me sideways.  Everyone, that is, except Joan.

Joan is my long time friend.  Joan is also a breaststroke specialist.  Coincidence?  So... after four excruciating repeats, as everyone in the pool was cooing down, Joan and I set up for a bonus set.  A broken, all out, 200... fly.  I prefer to think of these opportunities as an "extra opportunity for greatness".

It hurt, but no more than the other reps.  Did I come close to failure in the pool?  Oh, yeah.  Did we do a set that nobody else had the balls to even try?  Hell yeah!  After the set, my arms, chest, back and legs felt like stone.  The 200 cool down was painful except for one thing.  The giant smile that I had under the water.

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Fight on!