Monday, September 27, 2010

Newton 25k (26.1k) Hillfest

What to say? IT WAS TOUGH. I turned up not having run more than 6k in two weeks and having done a 120k ride the day before. Normally the ride would not even have been mentioned, a ride of that distance (it was the first ride over 100k I'd done since IMKY) would have been short for a Saturday but these days I'm really in bad shape mentally and physically.

By that I mean that every morning for the last month I've been waking up with more and more pain in my legs, back, neck, arms and feet. I have been taking (as few as possible) prescription painkillers and anti-inflamatories (don't panic I'm not Michael Jackson - one or two a week only, and they were prescribed to be taken twice a day). The point is that everyday the pain got worse and most worryingly it was most noticeable in my right hip.

My uncle and my Mum have both had hip replacements and it seems like it might be a hereditary problem. Anyway, I did something that I've never done before and decided to take so many people's well intended advice and rest. The more I rested the more pain I endured and the more intense it got. I started getting quite depressed (although I tried to keep that to myself). I felt that perhaps age wasn't really reversing and maybe I wasn't Benjamin Button after all - I worried that this was it, perhaps I wasn't immortal and this was the start of the slippery slope to oblivion.

AND THEN I HAD A THEORY...Perhaps that this is really just muscular atrophy, click to see what I'm on about (I did and wished I hadn't - seems like I might have cancer, AIDS, congestive heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or renal failure). Anyway, I'm assuming that I have none of these ailments and my theory is working on the basis that rest is rubbish and in the process of your muscles decreasing in mass (muscular atrophy) to the size of mere mortals there's going to be a lot of pain involved - think the incredible hulk in reverse.

So Doctor Simon, what do you prescribe?

Answer: Start training like there was an important race in 5 weeks, train hard, Suck It Up and don't look back. (Fortunately there is, two actually, Miri Sprint tri and Miri OD tri).

So on Thursday I re-entered the world of active pain (rather than in-active pain). I did my spin class, then stretching and core. Friday I couldn't move haha! Saturday I rode with Sam and the gang 116k and played silly games racing with Sam up the hills - he gave me a good lesson there [my time will come again though Sam, my time will come!]. I got home and once again could barely walk. Which brings me nicely to the Newton 25k run.

I'd been told that it was going to be hilly and long. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to run the whole thing with my current lack of training, soreness from the last couple of days and added girth (I'm getting fat again).

I got there nice and early, about 5 minutes before the gun went off! Met a few friends and hung out at the back. This race was huge, I suspect the biggest turnout for such a long race in Malaysia - partly due to the free running singlet, 2XU compression socks and finishers T-shirt. We Malaysians do love our free stuff.

I eventually got over the start line after a minute or two shuffling along and then we were off. I started running with Keat Seong and stuck with him like a limpet. He told me his game plan was a steady eddy 10k and then try to open up a bit if he felt OK (He's training for the Taiwan Marathon - I was instantly scared). So I knew I had a great pacer for 10k at least. He was telling me how hilly the course was but the first few k's the hills were there but nothing terrible, nothing debilitatingly steep. But then they kept coming, they were relentless, hill after hill after hill - not too steep but long. Either up or down, almost no flats at all.

The pain was there from the first kilometre and never went away, fortunately for me Keat Seong wasn't feeling great and decided not to up the pace at 10k so he had to suffer me feeding off his pace for a few more k. We were still going at a good pace and having started at the back were overtaking loads of people which is good for motivation; although a couple of people asked us why were were so far back AND GOING SO SLOW? hahaha. Thanks guys that helped NOOOOOT!!

At 15k we eventually caught the legend they call Sofian Ismail - he was going at a cracking pace. Keat and I slotted in beside him for a while before we slowly (very slowly) pulled away. I think the only reason we did was because we saw Chris up ahead. Now this is one lady that is "sweet as pie" but clearly "hard as nails". She was going at a super pace and has come on leaps and bounds as an athlete over the last few years.

We chatted for a while and then we left her behind...or so we thought...she came zooming past again at about 18k - impressive! It was about this time that I felt that the pain was increasing and the moderate pace wasn't helping. The sun was high and getting super hot and with 8k left I thought it was time to test the body and further test the theory that there was nothing wrong with me other than TOO MUCH REST. I set my mind on the last 8k of an Olympic Distance Triathlon, the race took about the same sort of time, I knew that it was gonna hurt but I'd done it a hundred times before so now it was a race to the finish line.

The hills were still in abundance, about one every kilometre I reckoned, by the time the pain was too much going down the hill, I was then going up, at the top before the legs and lungs folded I was going down again. It was a very long 8k but with about 2k to go I saw Ralph Dixon (fellow Marathon Des Sables finisher & all round good guy). I caught him and not finding anything motivational, demotivational or funny to say I simply gave him a very gay pat on the bottom and trotted past.

At the finish I was spent but elated, stoked and above all surprised - my cardiovascular fitness was clearly still at Formula 1 standard even if my muscular systems were at Demolition Derby level.

Time 2hrs 17mins 03secs - 20th (chip time) 22nd (Gun time) in Junior Vets out of 218

I went in search of isotonic and decided that the volume of the stuff was coming out too slow so I went behind and helped myself. Before I knew it I became one of the volunteers serving up the drinks...that was kind of fun actually.

I met up with Julie later, she has been plagued with injury for ages and has only been able to run alternate days recently - still she finished 2nd woman overall - how good is that?!!!

Finally, I have to say a great big WELL DONE to Uncle Chan (the grandfather of Malaysian Triathlon). The race was excellently organised with great gifts, plenty of COLD water and isotonics on the course and all in all a wonderful experience.

So I don't think I'm dying, I think (and always have thought) that rest is over-rated and unnecessary, an "off-season" should probably be on a Wednesday (but you decide), I am Benjamin Button after all and anyone that doubts me check back in a few weeks and you can either call me a freak or say "I told you so" if I break into peices as I test the envelop of my threory. It should be an interesting time.

And finally...
Almost NO HIP PAIN this morning...mmm...interesting. I wore the 2XU compression socks straight after the race yesterday and my feet and calves feel better than I can possibly believe. My back is a little stiff but less than it was on Friday and my quads hurt, probably due to all the downhill running (and lack of run training). My stiff neck is totally fixed. My attitude is back from the toilet and I feel alive again.

Did I say finally?...
A few thoughts for when you've just achieved a big goal like an Ironman and are wondering how much rest and time off you should take: -
- The best form of recovery is blood circulation i.e. active recovery not just rest.
- The best way to put weight on is to train your metabolism to a peak of efficiency and then stop exercising.
- Use it or lose it.
- It doesn't matter how bad you feel before a workout you're guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
- It doesn't matter how much you don't want to do a workout you'll be amazed that you even considered not doing it afterwards.
- Whatever your state of fintness and however much you like sleeping in, there's no better feeling than meeting friends before the sun comes up, partaking in something physically and mentally challenging, finishing and then seeing all the vibrant, smiling and energized faces that have shared the experience with you. Take a mental picture of that and then another at the shopping mall later in the day of the other 99% of the population that just got out of bed - THERE IS NO COMPARISON - which do you choose?.


Stupe said...

Betcha you wished that the compression socks could be used for the back.i had zero pain during and after and after after...then again i was almost 2 hours slower!

Good report and awesome insight to us Ironman arent superman and we too need (active) rest ;).

Its just an excuse not to rest, aint it?

Brybrarobry said...

Funny, before you mentioned that rest was over-rated, I was going to post that "rest is overrated". Glad to hear Dr. Simon figured that out. I found the same thing, I started to rest after IMLP and started feeling old. I don't know who came up with the theory that rest was good, but I prescribe to the "motion is lotion" theory.

Sorry to hear about the mental struggle, that sucks. But I can tell in your writing you're back on the upswing. The extra pounds will come off and it's only normal to gain after your body has been trained to be so efficeint at burning and storing calories.

I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be your year. Keep you head up and don't forget, you live in "training weather heaven", enjoy it and make the rest of us jealous.

Now, enough with the "sappy" stuff, get on track, so I can start "abusing" you again.

Your bro.


Matty O said...

Great job on the race!

Interesting approach to "recovery". I have always read that you need a couple days off to allow your torn up and worn down muscles to rebuild. I am not one to take recovery days often... but maybe the pain and hurting is your body rebuilding?

We know our bodies best so I know you know what you are dealing with over there. Keep up the good work over there!!!

Simon said...

S, I actually have a long sleeve compression top - should have worn that too. Great run, and great to see you and your wifey out there having so much fun.

As for rest I guess there are many ways to interpret it but active rest is what I'm buying into. Keep up the good work and see you at Miri and Powerman?

B, As usual buddy we're in tune (scary thought) - yep "Motion is lotion".

Yeah mental battle wasn't fun, just wanted Kona to come and go so I could put that chapter behind me and then the physical breakdown while taking it easy was a blow that I really didn't need. As you say I'm back on the upswing now and gonna really enjoy all my buddies experiences in Kona. One of my friends having qualified now has Chronic Fatigue and cannot race - she's just going to watch. Now that is something no one would want to suffer.

Not 2010 being my year, hopefully 2011, although I've had some big breaktrough's this year and won some tough races. 3 more big races to go for me.

As for the sappy stuff - it means a lot but I was wondering when you'd stopped abusing me? When you're sleeping doesn't count does it? Haha

Really looking forward to following you through your Kona experience and remember the hard work was qualifying, you're not gonna win your age-group and you're not gonna get a PB in Kona so do what you're good at doing and lap it up and enjoy every second of it.

Also remember another thing, if it all goes wrong then don't worry because despite what you think you WILL BE DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR... with me...count on it. haha.

M, No it wasn't the body rebuilding, it may still be the beginning of the end but definitely not rebuilding, it was getting worse and worse week after week. I firmly believe in active recovery and what Brett Sutton says (Coach behind Chrissie Wellington's success & coach of TBB) is to get straight back into the pool the next day after and Ironman, have a gentle spin on the bike but ease off the running for a few days. Swimming doesn't impact your body much, gentle cycling gets the blood circulating which is a better recovery method than anything including ice, compression etc. I'm just going on what he says and he's VERY down to earth and it makes sense to me.

Brybrarobry said...

S, speak for yourself. I'm going to KICK Craig Alexanders A$$.....and then I'm going to do the race. haha


Simon said...

B, that had me chuckling away although I've seen you run so I bet you fight like a girl too.