Brooklyn Half

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It’s Brooklyn Half time again! Last year I volunteered at the event, which got me guaranteed entry into this year’s race. I was excited to sign up because I was leading the New York Running Company Half Marathon Training Program for the race.

Training was going well, until about five before the race, when I started to have intense knee pain on my right leg. This has been a bit of a lingering injury; sometime in the fall, I tweaked my knee taking off too quickly at a November Project Destination Deck workout (City Hall, to be exact). That specific moment made me say ouch, and there was a bit of difference in my knee through my winter training. This year, it was feeling better, even through my Spartan Race on Saturday, where I did a lot of stairs without pain.

This might have done me in. Early in the week I was fine, but Wednesday I started to have high calf pain in my right side (not a spot I typically have pain) and then pain above my knee at my quad. I picked up my bib anyway, thinking I might be able to feel better by the weekend. The pain moved to the outside and then under my knee, and there was a popping that happened each time I moved my knee. Stairs were out of the question both up and down.

I saw Brynn on Thursday and decided to rest. This is not my A-race and I want to be able to really push it there, so I skipped Brooklyn Half.

My athletes did great, with new PRs for our NY Running Co participants and people I’m coaching privately. Real race day is 3 weeks away, so I’m resting until it feels better.

Half Marathon Training Program

Exciting things kicking off in 2015! I’m doing a lot of IMG_1765coaching already this year, with one of the most exciting pieces being the Empire Tri Club and New York Running Company Half Marathon Training Program. I have designed a training program leading to the NYC Half Marathon. The program is being run out of two locations, offering 6 runs per week.

I’ve been attending most of them recently to get the program kicked off, which has upped my running mileage significantly! I’m not running the NYC Half, but I will be doing the Brooklyn Half Marathon after getting guaranteed entry for volunteering last year. This is great base building work for that race.

The weather has been a bit cold but we’ve had good numbers show up so far.

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The “Off” Season

I just finished reading this great blog from my most favorite finishlinepttraining partner, Finish Line Physical Therapy, about the “off season”, AKA the “Get Started Season.” It led me to do a little reflecting about my off season so far.

I haven’t yet mentally wrapped up my season this year. I think sitting down and reviewing my achievements and challenges will help me better prepare for next year – which I haven’t mentally done yet either, with the exception of knowing two races I want to do… but not the dates of said races, so I obviously haven’t really started planning for next season yet either.

I believe this time is necessary. My season started very early for 2014, with my training for an A race beginning in September 2013, and my final 2014 race in September. A full year of training and racing was a lot for me. Since my final race, I’ve been running for fun, strength training, and working on mobility and imbalances. In the past month I’ve been committed to fixing some of the kinks that came from my long season through stretching, trigger point, foam rolling, and functional movement training. And now that marathon is over, I’ve been able to get in at Finish Line to get some real work done.

My goals for the early off season are:
1. address heel pain/plantar fasciitis in left foot (an issue since this time last year)
2. improve hip mobility and increase range of motion in hip extension
3. return left shoulder to normal range of motion and remove the sticks around my clavicle scar
4. prioritize posterior & strengthen my backside

Later, probably (although again, not fully thought out yet)
1. private swim coaching
2. cycling heavy block
3. core strength

The “off season” is a nice time to do fun activities, move away from the rigidity of a schedule, and not beat myself up for sleeping in or not working out if I need an off day. It’s also been great to explore bike messengering, spend more time at home, and work on GO! Athletes work. I haven’t yet hit that restless feeling, so I know we’re still in phase one.

Check out the Finish Line blog post and think about your off season!

Catching up with Matt Tambellini after Ironman Maryland

Last weekend, one of the athletes I coach raced his A race – Ironman Maryland. His goal was to hit a time of under 11 hours, with his previous Ironman time at 11:40. We worked together for three months with a plan that integrated the strength training and Bikram yoga he enjoyed, as well as workouts to fit around his busy travel schedule.

Empire Tri Club posted a blog recap of Matt’s race and an interview with him and me about our experience. Matt was an awesome athlete to coach – he was intentional about his training, very open to feedback and suggestions, and he asked a lot of questions, which showed me that he was truly invested in his training.

Below is the interview from the Empire blog – spoiler alert: HE CRUSHED IT.

Here’s the post:

Matt Tambellini is living proof of what a year of hard work and focus can do for your race. The 33-year-old finance worker from NJ has been competing in triathlons since 2010, but got serious about the sport in 2012. After a few years of sprint & olympic tri’s, Matt signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2013 (his first full distance tri). He hit his goal of going sub-12 hours (11:40 to be exact), but had a self-proclaimed “awful run” and knew knew he could do a lot better. He joined Empire Tri Club about a month after his race, and started working with Empire Coach Chris Mosier in the months leading up to IM Maryland on Sept 20, 2014.

Matt’s results at Ironman Maryland are astonishing. Not only did he beat his Personal Best by 1 hour 15 minutes – but he also crushed his 11 hour goal-time that he set for himself (10:26)!

We caught up with Matt and his coach Chris this week to learn more…
[E]: Empire Tri Club
[M]: Matt Tambellini
[C]: Chris Mosier

[E]: Matt, tell us a little bit about your athletic background.

[M]: I’ve always played a lot of sports…baseball was my main sport growing up. I played competitively through college.

[E]: What goals did you set for IM Maryland? Anything in particular that enticed you to sign up for this race?

[M]: My main goal was sub-11. Timing was the most important factor when signing up for the race. Late season and relatively close to home made IM MD a no-brainer.

[E]: How did your training for this Ironman differ from the past Ironman?

[M]: I worked with a coach (Chris Mosier) for the three months leading into IM Maryland…I didn’t really follow a program leading up to CDA so obviously this experience was much different.

[E]: What did you find most beneficial in working with a coach?

[M]: The mix of speed and interval work, combined with consistent check-ins and encouragement from Chris were definitely the most beneficial aspects of working with a coach.

[E]: Chris, anything in particular that you think helped Matt during his training?

[C]: Matt was successful in part because of his commitment to strength training. He maintained regular once or twice a week functional strength sessions all the way up to his taper week, which helped his core and muscular endurance in his race.

[E]: How did you two communicate & stay on track?

[C]: Matt and I had weekly phone calls, which helped me keep track of his progress and modify his schedule when he was traveling for work. He had a pretty busy schedule but he really made the commitment to hit his workouts, stay on top of his nutrition, and prioritize rest. He was open to new ideas in his training and he trusted the plan.

[E]: What was the biggest challenge you faced going into this race?

[M]: I cramp a lot…so my biggest challenge was sticking to nutrition and hopefully avoiding cramps. I knew I was trained enough to him my goal, but cramping was one thing that could put it in jeopardy.

[E]: Do you get nervous before big events? Any rituals/superstitions to help ease your nerves?

[M]: I was incredibly nervous before this race…it was all I thought about for the month leading up to it. A little bit of meditation and a lot of sunflower seed chewing helped me ease my nerves.

[E]: Did your race go according to “Plan”? At any point did you feel like you hit the wall? How did you get through those tough parts?

[M]: My race was a bit different than planned. The swim, which is usually my easiest discipline, was much more challenging than I thought. The bike was much faster than I could have imagined and the run was pretty much according to plan. There were definitely some points on the run that I felt like a wall was coming, but I think mental toughness (and a little bit of cola) was the key to getting through it.

[E]: One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how to fuel properly for an Ironman. What was your nutrition plan? How’d it go?

[M]: I thought a LOT about nutrition given my past cramping ailments…my plan was at least 300 calories/hour on the bike along with salt pills and a consistent dosage of salt/electrolytes every 10-15 minutes on the run. It worked pretty well as cramps were minimal.

[E]: What was your first meal post-race!?

[M]: I wanted nothing more than a calzone after the race! Every topping you can think of!

[E]: Any friends / family / teammates you want to thank for supporting you during your race / training?

[M]: Definitely a big thank you to Chris. There’s no doubt that my experience wouldn’t have been nearly as good without his guidance. Caitlin Alexander also deserves a shout out as she helped motivate me on many a Saturday morning for early morning bike rides. Last but not least, thanks to Sara Hunninghake for introducing me to Normatecs!!!

[E]: Looking ahead, what are your plans for next season? Will you be signing up for another Ironman? Any goals for your next race?

[M]: Next season I’d like to connect with the team more and compete in a team-sponsored 70.3. My goal will be to break 5 hours, as I haven’t broken that in the half distance yet.

[E]: Chris, you must be very proud as a coach. Any last thoughts?

[C]: Matt was the type of athlete every coach would love to have: he was goal-oriented, gave me great feedback, and asked a lot of questions. I couldn’t be prouder of Matt – he worked very hard for those results and it was great to have him exceed his goals.

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Rev3 Poconos Preview

 

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This weekend is the Rev3 Poconos race – my first and only Rev3 race (now that they have merged with the Challenge Family). The Athlete Guide came out on Tuesday and had a few interesting points about the race. Here are my quick impressions leading up to the weekend:

  • Two transitions and point to point race. I did this in my first half (Ironman 70.3 in Providence, Rhode Island). Pain in the ass. 
  • Lake swim. Okay.
  • Much flatter bike course than I had heard or had imagined. A quick decent and then rollers.
  • I don’t care about the run because I’m not doing it. (more in a minute)
  • I need to leave immediately after to catch a flight to Denver.

I booked this race in April, back when my leg was hurting badly. I registered for the Aquabike Half, which is a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike and DONE. I’ve never done one of these before. I’m excited. I think it was a wise choice then, and a decent choice now because I’m not totally pumped about this race. After being totally drained after Gay Games, I’ve admittedly let my training slip a bit in the last month. 

I imagine I will still have a decent race. There is the “what if” – as in, what if I had fully trained for this, how would I have done – but to be honest, I’m exhausted. It’s been about three weeks of waking up every day feeling totally empty and spent. I have been training consistently since the beginning of September last year when I was cleared from my collar bone surgery and immediately started my 140.6 training. I’ve had a stellar season. I’m ready to be done.

Not the most enthusiastic way to go into a race, I know. I’m looking to have fun, cheer on my teammates who actually DID do the work, and end my season happily. 

Stay tuned for results!

 

 

 

Back to back weekends

In July, I raced the NYC Triathlon. The following week, I raced at the Gay Games. I haven’t even posted my recap of that race yet – it was awesome and exhausting. But more than physical exhaustion – it was just two Olympic distance triathlons, after all – the most brutal part of this two week span was the anxiety I felt leading up to the race. 

I am a nervous racer. I am not a frequent racer, doing only about 3 larger events a year. I have some small running races or some fun things like the Brooklyn Bridge Swim in between, but typically I train a lot and race a little. I’m very cool with that schedule, too: races are expensive. And exhausting for me, mentally.

My anxiety leading up to NYC started almost a week before, when I was worrying about going about 85% to do well at the Gay Games, which was my A race. NYC is a local race – like two miles to the start. Like roll out of bed and be in transition in 15 minutes. Like no stress about travel at all and I can sleep in my own bed and eat breakfast in my house. All of these make it ideal. But the pressure of doing well but not doing too much was tough, particularly after a month or so of good humored and well intended shit talking with a friend. Even with what I thought was the pressure off by giving myself the 85% out, I was nervous and worried. 

IMG_7721The race was great and went better than I wanted on all fronts, from interactions to output – everything was awesome. But the next day began my anxiety for Gay Games, just a week away. Did I go too hard? Is it too close? Will be I be rested enough? Will I be able to do well and medal even if I’m in peak form? Some of this was really good pre-race nerves; I say really good because I think a small amount of nervousness pre-race is a good motivating force for me. But this was excessive and consuming. The emotional toll this took on me for the second consecutive week was too much. 

I really wanted to nail this race for a dozen reasons, but among them is that it happens every four years, making the stakes a bit higher than NYC, which I could do again whenever. I also was facing my eligibility debacle (cleared and all good, thank you very much), and I was having some self doubts: did I really hold back at 85% in NYC? (I did)

At any rate, this summer I found that racing two consecutive weeks is not my thing. This was a special case – NYC was free and Gay Games was huge – but I will not be repeating this any season soon. 

The Endorsement: The Elements of Style

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Screenshot from The Sufferfest video The Elements of Style

You may know that I’m a proud Knight of Sufferlandria, and thereby a huge fan of The Sufferfest videos for indoor training.Today marks the release of a totally different but totally awesome video, The Elements of Style

This is a 39-minute drill session to train you to get the most out of your cycling. Intended on “making your Suffering look effortless,” the video give six drills to improve form, posture and efficiency, as well as a great nine-point checklist to improve body position. It features the usual great cycling footage – this time specially filmed for this particular video – and perfect soundtrack, along with commentary from Eurosport’s Carlton Kirby, one of the best cycling commentators in the world (with a wonderful accent). 

This is not the usual suffering; it is a compliment to make you suffer better. I’d say this is a must-have for anyone looking to improve their pedal stroke and efficiency on the bike.

This morning I tested my own style and it was excellent. While this isn’t a hammer ’til it’s over type of session, it will help you hammer harder in the future. This was a great video for my taper week as well.

Well done, Sir David! I approve.