Ironman Texas

(This is a post written shortly after Texas that I hadn’t published)

I haven’t written in a while and that was because I was too focused on training for Ironman Texas and keeping up with my duties in my job and at graduate school. The past few weeks had been crazy and therefore it put me a lot of anxiety in my mind.

So the Ironman Texas story didn’t start on race day for me, it started before and it couldn’t have a worse ending…I had a difficult decision to make which was to pull out from the race.

I wasn’t well, my knee was getting into  a bad shape, I had bad nutrition issues and on top of that my race was over, I wasn’t going to finish in the top spots.

So after 22Km of trying to run, but mostly walking. I gave it a lot of thought and if I was going to qualify for Kona, it wasn’t obviously going to happen that day but I have another shot two months from now and for that I needed to be fulley recovered. So at around the 21km mark I saw my Dad looking for me and worried, So that was it, time to take the chip off my ankle and call it a day.

In conclusion I know I did the right thing by pulling out but that was by far THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE, it was a really sad moment, all the sacrifices done by me and my loved ones, all the time put into it, the money, the effort…all for nothing.

I am feeling better now physically, although my knee is taking a lot of time to go back to normal. Mentally I am not that great, trying to get through it and convince myself that as an athlete these things happen, and you just have to move on and look forward. So for now it is recovery time for me.

Next Up…Ironman Boulder, where I will leave my skin in the course, I don’t know how its going to turn out but this awful experience just gave me more hunger for success and to finally grab what I have been chasing.

patience

this finish line, I will cross it on 2015. (hard work + PATIENCE)

PATIENCE…what a hard task to accomplish in anything. Typically triathletes, or any athlete doesn’t have that much of a patience to get where he or she wants to. It is even hard to understand why you have to take days off and not be training. When in fact, by resting you are doing more than by training.

We all have to deal with an injury at some point in time and it is again, a matter of patience to step aside, do anything in your power to heal it and then…wait, wait until the damn injury is gone so you can get back to do what you love… Once you get back on the train, it is again a matter of patience to recover the fitness that you lost during the absence.  Especially in a sport like long distance triathlon that a lot of your fitness comes over the years and it is a matter of building training on top of previous training, on top of more previous training, again patience, you get the idea by now.

I’ve had to deal with a couple of injuries during my short two years at doing this and one of them is very recent, exactly on spring break, where I could focus solely on training I had to make the hard decision to not do anything but recover from the grueling pain I had in my right hip. Then again, I have lost fitness and speed and still working on getting it back. What I am trying to point out is that it is no secret that any sport has an extra discipline to it…mental toughness and one of the ingredients of this toughness is patience. Learning how to trust your instincts, trust what your body tells you, trust your training and not over do it or under do it, know when to step aside for the greater good (if you want to be in it for the long haul, like myself), etc. I can keep writing about factors that require our patience and resiliency to hang in there and believe in you.

Believe in yourself, in the effort that you put into your things, and have the patience to see the results that will definitely come your way!

Top 1%

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2014 was an extremely positive year, an I’ve written about it in my previous posts. Another result, that I am really happy with, is that I was able to finish within the top 1% in my Age Group (25-29) in the IRONMAN ranking. It is just another token that tells me that I am on the right path to the top but still a long way to go. Anyway, its a pretty good result, out of 10,917 that raced in my age group in 2014, not only was I in the top 1%. I ended up on 59th place, with a year best of 11. (yes, there was a time of the year were I was on 11th place), still to end up in the top 60 is a really good accomplishment.

To me, all these little things help me get through the harsh times, there are days when you don’t want to do anything, don’t even want to look at your bike, but is all these accomplishments, and the future goals that make me get up, do what needs to be done, enjoy it, and at the end of the day be glad that I overcame whatever mental lockdown was holding me.

To some people this might not mean anything, to me it means that all of the training that I put in, the racing, the money, my family’s sacrifice, etc. Paid off, that I can accomplish whatever I set myself into, the only secret to it is discipline and hard work, and that applies to anything, whatever floats your boat in life…be disciplined, work hard!

Ironman Maryland

As posted before Ironman Maryland turned out to be the best race I have ever had. Although a lot of external things played against me weeks before the race.

IM-Maryland

Getting There
Since I am already living in the U.S getting to Cambridge, MD wasn’t the normal hustle or long trip from home. It was a one hour flight from Savannah to Washington D.C and then about 2 hours in the car. The hotel I was staying at was not in Cambridge because that is a very small town and everything was booked. My hotel was about 30min away in Seaford, DE. A good hotel and a reasonable price, definitely recommended to anyone who wants to go and race there. (Comfort inn Seaford). The race was scheduled for Saturday September 20th. I got there on the night of the wednesday before, just enough to swim bike and run a little on thursday and then rest up on friday.

Race morning
The only change in m schedule for race morning was that I had to wake up half hour earlier given that I was half hour away from the race, the rest was pretty much the same ritual. Wake up, have my choice of breakfast which is bananas, bread with a lot of Nutella (secret ingredient right there!!) and something to drink. Take a shower, get ready and off to Cambridge. We got there and it was still dark but the town was already awake, lots of people around.
Made it into transition and packed my run and bike bags, if you read my previous lake placid post you know that I don’t pack my bags the day before, I just hand them in with something in them, but all my stuff is put in race morning. That way you ensure everything is organised and more importantly NOT WET from the morning breeze.
Organised my bike with the bottles, air pressure on tires, dryer the saddle and handlebars and it was go time.

The swim (1:09)
By far the hardest swim out of every Ironman course I’ve been in. The first loop was a bigger loop than the second one so it was hard to know how far I was into the swim. Anyway, once I finished the first loop I knew that it was going to be a slow time but I just figured that the conditions were the same for everybody, so if I was a having a slow swim so as my other competitors.
The water condition was good anyway, a legal wetsuit swim and the water wasn’t cold. It is a little salty though. Definitely this was the hardest leg of the day. I never found a group to swim with, I was alone for the most part of the swim but I had fun, I never felt in a hurry or desperate, I just knew that when I got out of the water it was game on for me, and do what I can do best…the bike.

that was a hard swim
that was a hard swim

The bike (4:48)
Four hours and Forty eight minutes…need I say more? that is a fast bike split! (for me).
the bike course was the same as the swim…one loop the cut it short for the 2nd time around. The course was set to be fast anyway…flat and very little wind. Flat doesn’t mean easy anyway, for the most part I was riding alone until two or three guys passed me and I was able to ride with them, legally of course, It was cool because we all rode by the rules and kept the distance and took turns at the front. It was like this until they burned down and it was just another guy and me until I burned down and he got away from me. The last part was kind of weird because since I was 20th off the bike (overall) there were very few riders and this part of the course I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me and the road had cars so I really thought I got lost for a moment there, but turned out I didn’t. I guess this is a part on where the organisation can do better and close that road for traffic! It felt like a training ride. o made my way back into town and spotted my girlfriend just before T2 and she was happy to see me that I was going fast! she told me I was fourth!

more aero, badass pic
more aero, badass pic

The Run (3:43)
This marathon was a three loop run. I really liked it like this, you get to see your opponents a lot and measure how far behind or up ahead you are. Besides that you get to see whoever is following you 6 times! The marathon started and I was 20th overall, which was already pretty impressive and my goal was to run a 3:30, that meant 8:00min/mile pace. What happens in this part of the race is that people go crazy and start running so fast so a lot of people passes me at the end of the first loop, and that kind of plays with you mentally but I knew I had to be patient and pass most of them again at the end if I was able to hold to my pace. In my age group I got passed as well I think at mile 5 or 6, so I was now 5th. The course was again very flat and hot! very few shadow parts.
I was able to hold my 8:00 min/mile pace for a little over the half marathon mark and from there it was slower, but never walked or felt burned it was just the pace I was able to hold on to. At the ends of the 2nd loop I was passed by another person from my age group and I wasn’t able to hold on to his pace, which I din’t like it because I was now 6th and I had to finish 5th for a podium finish. The person behind me was very far from me so I knew that as worse as it could get I was going to finish 6th. In the last lap I had an unfortunate call of nature and was obligated to do a bathroom stop and that made me lost like 4 minutes, but it was a situation where I couldn’t run well anymore. After this “break” I had about 12k (7.5mi) to go and was able to pick up the pace a little bit. Right at the end of the marathon when pain goes away due to the excitement of finishing another ironman I saw a guy in front of me and I wanted to pass him so I had to sprint for about 1/4 mile and was able to catch him just meters, or feet, from the finish line.

Finished with a 9:46:57 time, my sprint helped me to go down to 9:46! and this was my PR by 45 minutes!!! An awesome race, awesome day. (6th overall and 38th overall)

IMG_3903

Thoughts on the race and conclusion on my next post (So this one doesn’t become too long!)

Change of mentality

As posted before I have been dealing with injury for quite some time now and the race is getting closer and closer every time. So by seeing my current situation and having to take so much time off from running I have to say that I have to change my expectations for Ironman Lake Placid and just go into it with no pressure and enjoy it! WHICH IS ALWAYS THE NUMBER ONE GOAL…ENJOY AND EMBRACE RACING. After all it’s what we all want!

Now that I am a month away I have been running again for about two weeks and no pain has showed up in my hip, it has taken a lot a of sacrifice though by massaging it a lot and going to therapy a few times a week. That takes money and time, but I’d do anything to keep myself in health. Slowly and with a lot of patience I have been running well again, covering good distances and not as slow as expected. So far, since the injury, my longest run has been 16K @ 4:50/km which is my marathon goal to run at that speed.
But as said before I have already taken the pressure of my mind by knowing that I won’t be 100% prepared for the race so I’m just going to enjoy it and most importantly finish it and add another medal to my collection!

Some of my finisher medals, missing IM Puerto Rico...next is IM Lake Placid!
Some of my finisher medals, missing IM Puerto Rico…next is IM Lake Placid!

Last week, this week and the next one are my last block of high volume training so I’m trying to nail them as good as I can because since San Juan 70.3 I haven’t been able to complete a week of training as prescribed. It means that I need to stay focused, get the workouts in and hope it will help get back the fitness that I have lost due to the injury. (which I think it will!)

one last thing that I learned the hard way…stretch ALWAYS after training!

Weird face on a stretching session after a long run
Weird face on a stretching session after a long run

Dealing with injury

The past few weeks have been really hard for me, especially on the mental side of dealing with an injury that isn’t letting me train as I am supposed to, in order to meet the goals that are expected for Ironman Lake Placid.

I have a pain in my right hip which is causing me to really slow down on the run, it does`t let me go fast even though my mind and body wants to, the leg just doesn’t respond. Anyway it was fine, I dealt with it on the run knowing it will eventually go away and I could bike and swim normally, until last saturday when I couldn’t even pedal and 1.5 hrs into my long ride I had to call it a day and get a doctor’s appointment.

At this point, everything in my mind broke down, it was brutal, every negative thought came to mind, thinking about having to take a lot of days off and losing the fitness I had built and especially because I was feeling fast again on my running. It is on these situations that I have to think on everything I have done and knowing that I have to take a step aside to get better and come back even stronger, it is not easy at all dealing with an injury, dealing with everything that comes with it. But in the end I know it’s all for a good reason, for my health and future races!

What the doctors say is that it is nothing serious, but needs to be taken care of with a lot of therapy, stretching and massages (which hurts like hell, not the kind of massage you’re thinking off!). Personally I think there is a lesson to learn from everything and this injury is a cruel way that my body tells me that I need to take better care of it during recovery and do LOTS OF STRETCHING, I have now learned it the hard way and hope that if you’re reading this post you better stretch as hard as you train and learn from my experience!

For now I am back to cycling and swimming normally, and hope this week I start to run. At the end I just want to have the day of my life in Ironman Lake Placid!