Exactly 1 year from my first meeting with coach Jesse, it was time for the 2010 version. I remember how I felt when I was driving down there last year. I was so convinced that he was going to change his mind about taking me on after he realized how truly fat and out of shape I was that I had to call my friend Leslie to help me feel better. I honestly don't recall another occasion in my life where I called a friend for that specific purpose (as in, generally I've been pretty lucky). Although I'm pretty sure realized that we had more work to do than he might have anticipated, but he actually made it sound possible to come back from the damage I had done. He showed me race goals that I almost laughed at. I think any normal person who took me in at that point in time would only need to look at me to say, hmmm.... maybe an 11:30 for Lake Placid. Nope, we were going to bring me back.
So we did. Maybe not all the way back, but we're close. We hit a few stumbling blocks along the way with a few minor soft tissue things that kept me off running for maybe a week at a time, my own errors in race execution in Lake Placid - as in, don't start the marathon at a 7:25 pace when you have no business running a 3:15 marathon - and finally the stress fracture that put the nail in the coffin. I suppose that some might consider that to be an unsuccessful season, being 25 minutes slow on my Ironman PR, 8 minutes slow on the half, and not even being able to finish the race in Kona. But while it wasn't a complete success, or the season I've been waiting to have for years, it's a whole lot closer than I was a year ago, and that is something I'm grateful for.
Anyway, the meeting began with the most fun part: the threshold test. I put my tri bike on the computrainer - the bike that still has the race number on it because I haven't ridden it since October 10th - and began warming up. I also noted that it might not have been such a bad thing that I hadn't had enough to drink in Kona and never peed on my bike or in my shoes. In fact, I don't think I peed on my bike all season. I guess that might seem like a good thing, but from a hydration standpoint, that's actually not a good thing at all. So now that I think about it, one of my goals for 2010 needs to be urine-soaked tri shoes. Nice.
Anyway, the test began. These tests are sort of sneaky in that it is pretty much totally fine for quite a while, then without warning you finally hit that one, 10-watt increase that starts to put you over the edge. My legs were burning, my lungs were burning even worse, and with a heart rate of 192 and the hearing of the words, "20 more seconds," I was pretty sure that if I had to ride for 22 more seconds, I'd be throwing up all over the floor. But it was over before it came to that, and aside from a slight cough that stuck with me for the rest of the day from the heavy breathing, 5 minutes later I was fine. The verdict? Same threshold watts and heart rate as the same test on 1/31 of this year, that one coming after 12 weeks of training. Maxed out 10 watts higher than that day though, also highest recorded in all 3 of my tests in the past year (though still 30 watts lower than the best test I did back in 2006, though testing protocol was slightly different) Body fat is about the same as 1/31, thanks to an 8% gain since Kona (nicely done) although weight is lower than it was then. In short, I'm essentially 12 weeks ahead of where I was a year ago, without having started training really at all yet. Good news, especially since my Ironman this year is 12 weeks earlier. Although I'm still hopeful that more progress will be made this year, just by the simple fact that I've only got to lose 20 pounds now instead of 40. Race weight will be lower this year, assuming I can get there. But I will get there.
Beyond that, we went over the season plan. First of all, I will be training on Powercranks. Not for my biking, but for my running. We are also taking away my key bike workouts and I will have 2 key run workouts every week. It seems that all I really have to do is have a bike to be able to ride it well, so taking those key workouts away doesn't really bother me too much. Biking has always come easily for me, I don't really know why. I just wish that running or swimming came as naturally as biking does. So basically we're pulling out everything from what Jesse calls the "bag of tricks" to get the running to come around.
We also went over the long-term goals. Back in June he set these up for me. He initially said we were going to go out 5 years, but wound up stopping at 3 because things had gotten pretty good by then, so no need to go further. Again, I nearly laughed. He knew I didn't believe him, but he seems to be pretty good at what he does. After the nosedive my season went on after July, I was pretty sure that those goals would be gone again. He recalculated based on where we are now. They came up the same. He hadn't looked at what he wrote down 5 months ago, it just came up the same. Let me tell you, if I can hit these goals he has set up I will be one happy triathlete. I'm going to do everything I can to get there. Well, not everything. I once sent Jesse an e-mail that said, "if it will make me faster and it doesn't involve drugs or elective surgery, I'll do it."
Injuries are done. New orthotics should prevent further damage, maybe even fix my ridiculous looking run form. I've seen video of me running my 3:30 marathon in Lake Placid and was amazed that someone looking like that while running could actually finish in such a time. And maybe we can get me to be more aggressive on the swim so I don't let slower people get in front of me just because they are willing to fight for their position and I'm not. It feels good to be in such a different position heading into this coming season. While things could've turned out better and ended on a higher note, it has only left me that much more eager to go out and have another chance. For now, I get the rest of the week to do some shorter, easier workouts and then things kick into full gear starting Monday. I can't wait!