76 days: The Legend of Mario and Luigi

I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Only 76 days away! Raised so far: $6,382! Want to increase this total? Chip in a few bucks to one of our causes here, or participate in one of our upcoming fundraising events.

Over the last 100 days of our fundraising drive, we have an ongoing fundraising challenge! Every day for the last 100 days before Ironman Lake Tahoe, I’ll be picking out a motivational winner that earns $5 to the TFAC cause of their choice. Lots of winners so far – the first series of deposits have been made! How do you win? Go find out the details here.

Our first really big event is coming up in less than two weeks! Sunday July 21 in Vancouver, WA – a wine & beer tasting event with food, fun, and a silent auction. 100% of the proceeds will go toward the TFAC charities. We’d love it if y’all could attend! If you are unable to be there, we will be offering up the silent auction items online. The first announcement of this event can be found here. Please make sure and RSVP to me or Suzanne! We will be rolling out some exciting news this week on the silent auction!

The Legend of Mario and Luigi

Over the years I’ve had a myriad of “interesting” injuries while training for and performing in races.

  • Rolled an ankle on a trail run at the Sundance Resort… that ended up becoming a partially torn Achilles tendon. Pretty much out of competition for almost a year.
  • Ran the Napa Marathon with a severe case of runner’s knee, when the day before I couldn’t even walk a block without stopping to cry on the curb. Recovery here was fairly quick – and emphasized the need in the future to cross-train.
  • Separated shoulder coming into T2 in my very first triathlon. Full flip of the bike as I came to the dismount line too fast. Out for a month. About 2 months until serious training resumed.
  • Suffered nerve damage while installing floor tiles, resulting in a full foot drop. Zero control over my left foot for three months… and came back to 2nd and 1st place age group results in my first races back (triathlons).
  • At Ragnar Northwest Passage 2012 I ran pretty fast, less than a week after a really good performance at Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens. That double effort, and pushing the pace hard in both, made the calf muscles tender… and less than 2 weeks later while on a run in Cleveland those tender calf muscles turned into pulled calf muscles. And they tend to flare up again from time to time.

Before I get to the punchline here, allow me to take a quick diversion. Our Ragnar Northwest Passage team is getting ready to rock the Puget Sound in a week and a half. Last year’s version was the first relay race like this that I’ve done in about a dozen years. For those not familiar with these races, you have 12 people on your team split up into two vans. Each runner in Van 1 takes a leg, usually about 5 to 6 miles in length… until you meet up with Van 2. The process repeats for three complete cycles. You run in the daylight. In the dark. In the rain. In the sunshine. You sleep where you can. You eat whatever you can find. As you hopscotch your way 200 miles or so to your destination.

Fun, huh?

To give you an idea of what this feels like, I offer some visual aids from Ragnar Northwest Passage 2012:

This is what I looked and felt like on the first leg of Ragnar last year. I turned in a sub-6:00/mile split, and at the time of this picture was running at about 5:15/mile. Everything looked perfect... as it should be.

Leg 1 – Life is Good-ville

This is what I looked and felt like on the first leg of Ragnar last year. I turned in a sub-6:00/mile pace, and at the time of this picture was running at about 5:15/mile. Everything looked perfect… as it should be.

But, then…

Leg 2 - The Darkness

Leg 2 – The Darkness

By the second leg you are tired… and running late at night or in the dark. You are growing used to the smell of feet and sweat and energy bars. I still cranked out a fast time at 6:03/mile… but the world around you starts to dim a bit…

And, finally…

By your third leg, you are exhausted. EVERYTHING is funny. You dare not close your eyes for fear of falling asleep and hitting the ground. I was able to muster up enough strength to pull out a 6:12/mile on a really, really hilly final leg... at this point the world has become a cartoon - nothing looks right or makes sense, but it is funny as hell.

Leg 3 – Cartoon Land

By your third leg, you are exhausted. EVERYTHING is funny. You dare not close your eyes for fear of falling asleep and hitting your weary head on the ground. I was able to muster up enough strength to pull out a 6:12/mile on a really, really hilly final leg… at this point the world has become a cartoon – nothing looks right or makes sense, but it is funny as hell.

When you finally hit the finishing line, run across together, take your pictures, and get your celebratory beer… you then get to share the stories of the road with your friends from the other van… and relive the experiences with those in your van.

Anyway, I wanted to show those pictures to introduce you to a couple of my friends. As I mentioned before, my calf muscles started to get a bit tender at this race… and a couple of weeks later succumbed to the sweltering Cleveland humidity. Since then we’ve had an interesting relationship… Let me introduce you to:

I've become a bit too familiar with my calf muscles this past year... to the point where I've given them names!

I’ve become a bit too familiar with my calf muscles this past year… to the point where I’ve given them names!

Yep. Mario and Luigi. I’ve been paying so much attention to my calf muscles over the past year that I’ve had no choice but to give them names. (Notice that the photo clip is from the Cartoon Land version of the Ragnar picture. It is fitting).

For most of this year Mario and Luigi have been rather docile kids at play. They sometimes have a squabble, but a quick, stern talking to gets them back in line. Recently, though, as the weather warmed up Luigi decided to throw a temper tantrum – somewhere around a month ago. So, I gave Luigi a timeout – all the while Mario was taunting Luigi for being such a “stupid baby”. Not my words… Mario’s.

After about a week and a half of rest, and a ramp-up period, Luigi was back into tip-top shape and telling Mario to “zip his pie hole” (again, not my words… Luigi’s). After a week of intense and productive sibling rivalry — they were joining forces to help me knock out some super fast training runs — Mario realized that he, too, should have taken the same timeout as Luigi. This was last Tuesday. Fortunately, Mario was smarter than Luigi, as he asked for help before the problem became too big… so his timeout has been shorter at one week. And I’ve been forcing them to take this timeout from running together (I can still bike and swim without impairment). Tomorrow, just one week after Mario’s temper tantrum, we will head back to the soft surface of the local track and start getting ramped back up.

Just in time to be ready and at full throttle for Ragnar… to run from the normality of Life is Good-ville… through The Darkness… and on in to Cartoon Land… where, apparently, I never really escaped from last year!

Training Check-In

Remember, I’m doing weekly updates of my training progress to stay honest with the “Commit” part of my TFAC process. So, how did this past week go? Well, we already know that Mario and Luigi started their unplanned vacation on Tuesday…

Monday: 1800m swim.
Was supposed to be a rest day, but due to the tough, tough Sunday ride in the heat I pushed it off a day.

Tuesday: Easy 6mile run.
This is where Mario threw his fit. The first 4 miles were an easy, comfortable 6:49/mile. After his tantrum a strained, awkward 7:12/mile.

Wednesday: 17.1 mile tempo bike ride; 1900m swim with 8x75m intervals.
Considering the calf was tender, I was very happy with the swim and ride this day. Biofreeze was helping me through this day.

Thursday: Unplanned day off to celebrate July 4.
Was supposed to run 45 minutes with 8x800m intervals. I hate that run training set the most, as it guts me… kind of “lucky” that Mario was out of commission this day, huh?

Friday: “Easy” 19 mile ride; 1900m swim with brutal 4x250m intervals.
The ride wasn’t exactly “easy” as I took my singlespeed bike into the hills – no gears to shift, but up some good climbs. Felt great. But the swim… I am not a fan of long interval sets, and these left me wiped out.

Saturday: 2400m swim.
The swim felt fantastic! Probably the best 1.5 mile swim I’ve had in ages – it felt smooth, effortless, and fast without even trying. Too bad the calf was still tender, as I had a 12 mile run on the schedule…

Sunday: 56 mile “power” ride
This was an epic ride. 56 miles with about 3,000 feet of climbs, all on the big chain ring (not abnormal, I almost never use my small ring on training rides). Builds power… strong like bull.

Setting aside the lack of running and the concerns with Mario and Luigi, this was a great week! The swimming is feeling tons more natural and the speed is coming around. The bike is getting more powerful, faster, and I can go farther and farther without gassing myself. Very pleased.

Overall: 102 miles. 7400 calories.
Swim: 5 miles at about 26:00/mile. Not crazy fast, but finished the week strong.
Bike: 91 miles at 17.6mph average. TONS of hills. Very happy with this!
Run: 6 miles at 6:54/mile. Mario is taking a nap. Let’s let him rest!

The run returns this week! The bike and swim are building up to new levels of distance and intensity. Going to be a great week! Particularly because my GIANT bottle of Biofreeze arrives today… my salvation!

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