Sunday, August 31, 2008


Yeah, it's been a while. Just haven't felt like writing.

Don't have anything to say, for starters. No pearls of newfound knowledge, nothing of real interest to report.

And I'm feeling cranky these days. Mildly irritated, most of the time. Apathetic. Listless. Bored. Cranky. I'm not entirely sure why. But it's been going on for a while now and I'm very tired of it. I have nothing to complain about, after all.

Yet here we are. I feel quite good after a run or a good workout, but it doesn't last.

I've stepped up my own training program, trying to get the health, fitness, and low bodyfat that Basta is enjoying now. Maybe that's my problem. I know he went through a very cranky phase that lasted a good long time, back last winter before Oceanside. He was tired all the time, very, very cranky, and pretty much irritated with everything. He got through that, he's working out more than ever, and he's a happy boy again. Yes, it could well be that this is my problem.

Anyway. Basta originally wanted to run the Long Beach Marathon with an eye on qualifying for Boston, remember? Well, the pain in his foot is a continuing problem and it's preventing him from doing the training he needs to make that goal. The kinesiologist is good, but he hasn't solved the entire problem yet. Basta can go into the guy's office, limping with the pain of a hot poker shooting through his heel, and come out completely pain-free. But it doesn't last. A few hours later, a day later, or a few days later, it's back. Running always makes it come back.

He's seen the kinesiologist 11 times now. Each time the guy says he thinks he has the problem solved and the pain won't return, but 11 times it has. Each time it's a little different, and the pain shifts around, but it's always back. This isn't covered by insurance, either, so it's starting to get expensive. Basta is going to cancel his next appointment and give up on this course of treatment. Maybe.

We've come back around to believing this is a pinched nerve. It's not plantar fasciitis. I don't think it is, anyway. If the pain can be released with muscle manipulation, it's not an injury or an inflammation. It's his sciatic nerve. It has to be. He's agreed to do yoga every night for two weeks, just to see if that will provide the solution.

In the meantime, his running has understandably suffered. He still runs, but sometimes the pain is so much that he gets down to 12 minute miles, hobbling and shuffling instead of really running. He's taking this week off of running to see if that'll help at all. There is an answer somewhere, we just haven't found it yet.

He's still biking and swimming. Doing really well with both of those. No breakthroughs or interesting words on that. Just steady training. Swims in the pool, weekend long rides. We should be doing the occasional open water swim but neither of us can seem to summon the ambition to get over to the ocean to do it.

We are doing the Malibu Tri in two weeks. I'm doing this one, too. It's a sprint. It's a 'for fun' event that we're doing with friends but it'll be the first event where Basta actually gets to use his new tri-bike. So he's looking forward to that.

Right after that we're headed down to Cancun for his final Half Ironman of the year. We'll get to experience the joys of shipping a bike to a foreign country. We'll be keeping a close eye on the hurricane situation, too. Cancun lies on a vulnerable and often-hit peninsula, after all.

Then, he needs a break. He doesn't think he needs a break but as his coach I know he does. He'll do maintenance training, that's all. He'll run his marathons if his foot problem allows. But no super-hard workouts. No super-long workouts. What do triathletes do in the off-season? We'll have to find out. Because he'll burn out if he keeps up this pace. We'll start training for full Ironman when the time comes. Brasil. Kalmar. Both? Could be.

Thank you for the brochure on Kalmar, Connie & Crister. It looks lovely. We very much appreciate the offer of a cabin near there for the event, too. That would be most convenient. I'd like to go. Perfect time of year, beautiful place, and a mostly flat course.

I've been looking on the internet for information on the event and it's a little bit hard to find. In English, that is. The website is all in Swedish. There is an English link but once you get there most pages say, 'this is not available in English.'

I perused the athlete's list from this past year and saw lots of Swedes, Norwegians, Fins, and Danes, as expected. 3 Americans. A few Germans. 1 Brit. So a very Scandinavian event. We'd have to depend heavily on you two for translation services.

Aa has his heart set on Ironman Brasil. It's in Florianopolis, which is a resort island just off of Brazil. He wants to do the event and then spend 2 more weeks in Brazil, seeing Rio, Sao Paolo, Iguazu Falls, etc. He's always wanted to see those things, so he figures this is a good way to do it. The pathetic dollar is doing much better against the Latin American currencies than it is against the Euro, too. It'd be a much cheaper trip for us. The event is May 31st, and it's an Ironman event.

Kalmar being in August makes it possible to do both, if the first one doesn't cause Basta to say, 'enough is enough.' It'd be a much different event, I think. Smaller. Calmer. Perhaps more efficiently organized, although Ironman does do these events very well. But I can just imagine the difference between the fiery, flambouyant latino event and the quietly efficient Swedish one. Plus, Ironman does things in a certain way that you can count on from event to event across the world. I'm sure the Kalmar club handles everything well, just differently. I'd very much enjoy seeing the differences.

If you were to do Kalmar with him, Crister, that would inspire him to do it for sure. What do you think?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vineman Analysis

The most interesting part of this whole event, to me, was how much more time can be shaved off of Basta's overall time. Even though he took 32 minutes off his Oceanside time, there's at least another half hour or so to be saved before he 'peaks' at this.


Well, not on the swim. He swam 1.2 in 37:20. That's a 1:46 pace. In Oceanside his pace was 2:12, so I'm very pleased with this improvement. It helped, certainly, that this was a quiet river as opposed to a somewhat rough ocean, but still. That's a fine pace. Maybe he'll get a little faster as he continues putting in the laps in the pool, but there's no need to work on this further. He said he felt great in the water the whole time and felt fresh when he got out. That's just what we wanted.

T1 was nice and fast. No room for improvement there.

The bike. He averaged 18mph on this course, as opposed to 16mph in Oceanside. They are different courses, but probably comparable. Vineman is a lot of rolling hills, Oceanside is a lot of flat with a few big hills. Vineman roads were poor -- rough with a lot of potholes. Oceanside roads were smooth and beautiful. Vineman was colder and everyone had numb fingers and toes the whole way. So I'd say his biking has improved quite a bit. He's certainly ridden a lot more, and a lot more difficult terrain these past few months.

But the winner in his age group did 21mph. The top 5 all did 20+. He can get another 20 minutes off the bike by increasing his speed, which means more time on the bike, working those hills, honing that technique. He'll get there.

It also means better nutrition. If you read the race report you'll remember that he shouted, 'I'm hungry!' as he was leaving T1. Well, we'd made peanut butter and honey sandwiches for the pre-swim morning, but he didn't eat his. He'd had a protein shake at 4am, then a Gu just prior to his 7:26am start. That was it for pre-race calories.

Then, on the bike, he didn't eat hardly at all. It being cold was a big part of that. He'd brought along 3 mini Clif bars but ate just one during the course of the whole 3 hour ride. The cold also meant that he didn't drink much of his water or electrolytes, either. He had another Gu about 10 minutes before dismounting the bike and starting his run. Seriously -- not enough calories! If he had fueled himself properly he no doubt could have pushed the bike a little harder.

A bit of drama in T2. He couldn't find his shoes. He knew his rack because he'd committed it to memory well beforehand. This was his rack, but it was packed with bikes and he didn't see his transition towel or shoes. He searched a couple other racks, but no. This was his rack. It looked like a bunch of guys had just dumped their bikes there, taking advantage of it being an end spot, even though this wasn't where they'd laid out their shoes.

At last, Basta saw the corner of his transition towel peeking out from under some guy's aero helmet. He lifted the helmet, and sure enough, there were his running shoes, visor, and transition towel wadded up under there. Intentional sabotage or just a guy being a self-centered jerk? We'll never know. Basta had to push a bunch of bikes down the rack to make room for his, taking care not to tip over the whole rack. Then he was able to rack his bike, put on his running shoes and visor, give the aero helmet a strong kick and send it skittering away, then take off running. T2 time, 4:51. A good 3 minutes wasted there, but what can you do? Things happen in events.

Basta's toes were numb and his feet felt like cement for the first three miles. Everyone was complaining about their numb feet as they headed out on the run. The tri bike might have made his legs feel less heavy, but they wouldn't have prevented the numbness from the cold.

By now he was really hungry. Really hungry. He was stopping at aid stations and taking in Gatorade, but he soon realized they were offering more than just liquids. After that, he ate what he could at each pause. Pretzels. Oranges. More Gatorade. But he was still hungry. No wonder with as little food as he'd eaten.

He said he felt like he could run faster, and he knew he should try to push it harder, but he just couldn't summon the energy to do it. That's simple lack of energy. His body was fit enough to run much faster, but he just didn't have the calories on board to do it. Not smart.

At the turnaround point he saw that they were handing out cookies. He ran past that, thinking, "I don't eat cookies," then turned around and said, "I need the calories!" He stopped, took a big cookie, and ate the whole thing while standing still. He said he was famished at this point and all he could think was, "'Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!"

That gave him enough energy to finish the run, but it wasn't a good run. 9:15 pace. He did 9:31 in Oceanside, so it's better, but still. I was hoping he'd do more like 8-8:30 pace. I know he could have if he'd been properly fueled.

So there it is. More time to be gained on the bike, lots of time to be gained on the run. The tri bike should give him some more time in both. We'll focus a lot more on nutrition. He understands that, conceptually, but in the passion of the event he threw all of that out the window and went by how he felt until it was too late.

But even under-nourished as he was, he finished a lot stronger. Not just in time-savings, but in how his body felt. At Oceanside, as he crossed the finish line he was huffing, puffing, gasping, and exhausted. He staggered off to Athlete Food with me supporting him, and there he sat on a bench for a good long time. Afterwards we went home and he went to bed. The next day his right leg was locked up and it took about 3 days before he loosened up and could walk normally. He was tired for a good two weeks after Oceanside.

At Vineman, he crossed the finish line looking fresh as a daisy. No disorientation at all. After chowing down on two full plates of food and chatting with other finishers for a while, we went wine tasting. Our hosts had a dinner party that night and Basta was up as late as all of us. The next day he felt fine. A little stiffness that went away once he got moving.

Training. It's a good thing.