Since November, I’ve been training very intensely for the LA Marathon on March 9th, 2014. It will be my third running at LA and special for a number of reasons, namely because 1) LA was my first marathon back in 2009, 2) It falls exactly on my birthday this year and 3) I’ll be raising money for The White Heart Foundation in honor of my grandfather who is a WWII Vet and all other veterans, especially those injured in the line of fire. I’ve also had the best marathon build-up for this one, despite numerous polar vortices in Chicago!
Not only have I been able to train almost like a professional athlete, thanks to the incredible studio I’m apart of at Sweat on State, I actually had the opportunity to do some Anti-Gravity training down the street at Athletico. For the past two weeks, I’ve worked with the manager of the Gold Coast Athletico, Adam Wille, PT, MSPT, to train on the facility’s AlterG G-Trainer. To use the G-Trainer, athletes or recovering patients put on a pair of shortie wetsuit bottoms which seal their lower body into an inflatable pod on top of a Woodway treadmill. The treadmill then calibrates the athlete’s weight and gradually inflates the bubble. Once calibrated, athletes can use the onscreen controls to select a certain percentage of their body weight at which to run, from 100% down to 20%. For example, a 200-lb. person could choose to run at 80% of their body weight to see what it would feel like to race at 160-lbs. When combined with an HR monitor, power output and rate of perceived exertion (RPE), the machine is very useful in determining ideal racing weight and power-to-weight ratio.
At my first session on Friday, February 14th, I spent about 10-15-minutes warming up once I was inside the pod and experimenting at different percentages, taking it all the way down to 50 or 60% of my body weight, which feels like you’re running on the moon! I decided to run a 4-mile time trial at 92% of my body weight (in my case about 180-lbs). My goal was to gauge how running at nearly race-pace intensity would feel at a slightly lighter weight, with the ultimate goal of determining my racing weight. I was able to average nearly 6:30/mile pace for the duration of the time trial and felt pretty good. My rate of perceived exertion on a scale of 1-7 was about a 6 so I was very close to if not right at race pace.
AlterG training session #2 was this past Friday, February 21st, and after a 2-mile warmup, I did a 10K time trial (6.2-miles), again at 92% of my body weight. I ran my fastest 10K, with a time of 40:45. I began the TT at a 7:20/mile pace and dialed down my pace to below 6:30/mile pace during the first 2-3-miles. By mile 4 I was running at 6:22/mile and mile 5 was nearly 6:15/mile. I closed the last 1/4- to 1/2-mile of the TT at close to 6:00/mile pace! My heart rate was almost 190bpm by the end of it and I was extremely close to my threshold. This session was at the end of a very heavy week and two days before doing Clovis Hero WOD (10-mile Run + 150 Burpee Pull-ups).
Athletico and Adam Wille work with the Chicago Bears and Bulls and just about every other professional sports team in this city, dancers, endurance athletes and have helped thousands of other Chicagoans rehab injuries and get back on their feet as fast as possible! I’m grateful to partner with them during my training for the LA Marathon and appreciate their support. Thanks, Adam and your Team at Athletico Gold Coast! I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.
“Why is everyone swimming that way?” I thought to myself as my arms churned through the waters of Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA, just outside of Palm Desert. During the swim warm up before Wave #1 of the 2012 Desert Tri, one of the paddle-boarding life guards had pointed out a buoy that I thought was the first turnaround point. This was not so, I discovered soon after the gun went off, and I hastily corrected course and fell in behind the other swimmers. Thankfully, this rough start to the race would not be a foreboding for my finish line result.
I got through the 3/4-mile swim in a terrible time of 21:38. There were rumors that the swim was somewhat longer than 3/4-mile, which made me feel a little better about my time. Regardless, I’d only swam maybe a dozen times since resuming training (post-Ironman) in January, so I couldn’t beat myself up too badly. I blitzed out of the water and one minute and fourteen seconds later I was clipped into my FELT AR5 bike and flying across the flat and fast roads of Palm Desert. Did I mention it was a very flat and FAST? The Bontrager HED 9.0 deep dish wheelset, courtesy of my coach last year, Anthony Barton, helped a great deal also. For the first half of the 24-mile bike portion of the race, I was averaging nearly 25 MPH! Being 6’3″ and close to 190 pounds as a triathlete sometimes makes it tough to keep up with some of the smaller guys, but when the bike course is flat, I eat those guys for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My speed tapered off towards the very end as I could definitely feel the fire-like burning of the lactic acid building up in my legs and although I blazed through T2 in one minute flat, my body felt like lead and my lungs were like a forest fire. My bike time was 1:01:13.
I started the run off at 6:30 min/mile pace with my coach, Ariel Rodriguez, running beside me for the first few minutes to spur me on. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t hold that pace for long and it took all I could muster to keep it under 7:00 min/miles foe the remainder of the race. The 6-mile run course was two laps around the lake and mostly flat with a mixture of dirt and paved trails. I finished with a time of 41:26 and an average pace of 6:54 min/mile. After the finish, I cooled down with one more lap around the lake to make it an even 9 miles of running. This was done primarily in lieu of the upcoming LA Marathon on March 18th that I’ll be running.
I placed 1st in the M20-24 age group in what was my last official race in that category since my 25th birthday is this Friday! My official time was 2:06:31 and my closest competitor was 12 minutes back. Here’s the link to the results page: 2012 Desert Tri Results
Pro Heather Jackaon ended up winning the whole race and therefore “chicking” every guy there! Her background is in ice hockey and so that’s where she got her legs! Her bike speed is ridiculous and she can run. She shreds it in the swim too! check out her cover article in this month’s issue of LAVA Magazine: http://lavamagazine.com/features/video-behind-the-scenes-with-heather-jackson/#axzz1oVOl02En.
My friend Jason May got 4th overall and won the 35-39 age group. Another friend of mine, Reilly Smith, won the 30-34 age group and got 11th overall. Friend Tom Burbank won the Clydesdale division and Scott Chaney got 2nd in the 35-39 age group and 6th overall. Another friend and colleague of mine, Curry Michels, got 8th in the 30-34 age group. Overall, it was a great day!
My next race on the calendar is the LA Marathon in 11 days on March 18th. For those of you living in Southern California, it’d be great to see you out there somewhere along the course as I run from Dodger Stadium all the was to the Santa Monica Pier. 🙂
There was a time when I said to myself that I hated running and I never wanted to run again. That time was three years ago after I finished the LA Marathon. At that point, I had been running since 2004 and gradually progressing in distance from 5Ks and one 10K that fall, to half marathons by 2007 and 2008. I’d wrestled with doing a marathon because of what I’d read about what it does to your body, especially at a younger age, but I got over that *cough* “Chicken!” *cough* and signed up for LA 2009. To my great chagrin, it just so happened that the current Stadium to the Sea course (AWESOME) would debut in 2010!
‘So much for EVER running that course,’ I remember thinking to myself, because after that race, I NEVER wanted to run another marathon again! My main goal had been to not walk the entire race—a feat that I did accomplish—although I probably could’ve moved faster during the last few miles if I had been walking. I also had high hopes of breaking four hours, a goal I missed by 15 minutes. At the end of the race, I explicitly remember crossing the finish line and actually wanting, no, NEEDING, to put my arm around one of the volunteers standing there because I wasn’t able to support my own weight. I’d never had to do that in a race before and I used to wonder with amusement as to why people had to do that. I DID NOT wonder at that need anymore, nor do I chuckle like a naïve idiot! I think I actually described the pain I was feeling in my legs as, “It feels like someone is stabbing a lot of very sharp icicles all over my legs!” The pain was worse the next morning. I am thankful to this day that I’d been sleeping on an air mattress because that morning, I literally had to roll onto the floor and drag myself into the bathroom where I crawled onto the toilet. That day will quite possibly be remembered as my most well-used sick day of all time. Frankly, I could barely walk.
At this point, I had not fully embraced my love for pain and suffering. But apparently I thought I had, because I was already signed up to run the Chicago 13.1 half marathon less than two weeks later. I was going to visit a friend, Sarah W., who actually may have been one of my inspirations for running the marathon in the first place. I’d met her earlier that year and she’d recently discovered her love for running and obvious aptitude for it—she ran her first three marathons in 2008 and then clocked a 3:37 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in January 2009.
The half marathon turned out to be a lot of fun and I ran a 1:47 rather easily, especially considering the jam-packed day before of touring Chicago via foot, bike and car, watching the U.S. VS. Honduras World Cup qualifier at Soldier Field, eating a lot and only sleeping 2-hours after a beer and deep-dish pizza the night before! In hindsight, I think the main reason was that I’d absorbed a lot of fitness from the marathon.
So, all that to say there actually was a time when I hated running and really didn’t ever want to run for a significant distance again. But then there was the realization that signing up for a marathon 7-weeks ahead of time was not the brightest idea I’d ever had. I was severely undertrained with no coach and not too much direction! It ONLY took me about a year-and-a-half to realize that was the reason I hated it… ENTER the bike.