Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weather Woes and Race Preparedness

Yesterday's drive on the highway
March in Cleveland is a very trying thing for an endurance athlete. And I know "everyone" is complaining about the winter blahs right about now, especially in the midwest, but this is one of those years when March - the "spring" month - has been especially bad for us runners/bikers/swimmers with weekly nine-to-five jobs. The weekday weather has been great, but the weekends (Friday through Sunday) have been slammed with cold, snow and, at times, blizzard conditions. And if it's not snowing, it's 32 degrees and raining.

Normally, the unpredictable March weather wouldn't be a problem, as I usually start my really long stuff in April or May. But this year, in my infinite disaster-magnet wisdom, I registered for an Ironman - Ironman St. George - the first week of May. I swear I was being completely rational when I hit that "submit" button last July. But it was warm and sunny. My thoughts were: "No problem! I can get outside in March for my long rides." What was I thinking? How could I forget the year we had three blizzards in three successive March weekends? (I remember it because my running friends were out in horizontal snow training for spring marathons.)

In my defense, this winter I've tackled my indoor training with enthusiasm and without going mad. I've maintained my sanity through several five-hour trainer rides and weeks straight of indoor workouts. But I'm now at the point where one long run (2:30+) on the treadmill will surely push me over the edge. And for more than just mental reasons. After an nine-miler on the treadmill at my fitness center three days ago - my first time back on the 'mill since the great treadmill disaster of 2011 - I realized that, unlike the bike trainer, the treadmill compromises my form. My stride is shortened and my hamstrings were still screaming two days later (note: stumbling stiff-legged down the road on slush and ice yesterday was not the smartest thing to do but luckily didn't end in disaster).

This weekend in the snow and slush, I have to tackle a long run and a long brick. I can't keep putting them off hoping for "better weather." With eight weeks to Ironman, it's do or die time. And although my training volume is decent, my race-specific workouts have been severely lacking.

Which brings me to my other point in this blog. This spring is the first time I'm going into an Ironman without any race experience in prior months. My last triathlon was in November and I've only run a marathon since. I feel completely unprepared for racing, and, unfortunately, I can't get to a race in the next two months due to limited funds and the inability to take any vacation time. The only thing I will do is a race "simulation" to test my abilities and nutrition. But I do feel like I'll be going into St. George cold (no pun intended).

All I can say is, like the way we deal with the weather in Cleveland, I'm going to make the best of it.

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