Tue, 30 Nov 2010

The unforeseen consequences of our GR 11 Summer walk

I knew walking all over the Pyrenees during a whole month would come with some side effects. I could imagine having a few muscular issues in my legs and some back pain for a while after getting back; after all we did over 7 hours of exercise every single day during a month. What I got after our hike was totally unexpected...

I should have run a half marathon in Gandia on the 21st, and instead I stayed at home doing some assignments. When we came back, I was in a really good condition, and wanted to keep the good shape we had built the month before. Given I haven't been able to swim for nearly a year now, due to the Mysterious Shoulder Injury™ and I don't have enough time to go out cycling regularly, I centered my efforts in running, with the idea of starting to get prepared for cross/mountain races this season.

Training had to wait a little because some days after getting back, I got a sudden pain on both knees, which even made climbing stairs difficult. It stuck for a while, and when it finally went away, more or less, I went ahead and tried going out for a run. I haven't been training for over two years, so I indended to increase the distances proggressively. The first day I went out, I ran really nicely for the first 25 minutes, and suddenly I started getting an intense pain in the outer side of my right knee, to the point I could barely walk back home.

I've tried letting them rest for weeks, and every time I try them, the pain comes back. My physiotherapist says my body has developed quite a few asymmetries, probably caused by the many days I had to walk crippled by a big blister in my right foot. As time passes, I feel I'm losing all the physical improvements I had developed during the summer, and I can't do anything about it.

The new approach to tackle this is yoga. I know my body isn't too elastic, and the lack of stretching during the walk made it even worse, so I'll try to forget about “real” traning during some time and focus on healing my muscles. Hopefully, this will help me resolve the nastiest physical problem I've ever come across.

Fri, 07 Jul 2006

Bétera 2006

For most of the past winter I've been trying my best to get back into a somewhat regular schedule of training. I have failed miserably.

At most, I've managed to go swimming at 7AM once or twice a week with my teammate Rafa, but I've been quite irregular. I also tried getting some running done, which revealed my condition is the worse in the last 7 years, probably. The first days I went running I felt I couldn't go faster than 4.5 mins/km without having my legs warn me about what I was doing. It was horrible. And when I started to get into the habit, I had to stop.

I started getting some pain in both knees whenever I ran more than 45/50 minutes, and I associated it to my weird knee “crack” I get after a while of cycling. So, in March or so, I decided to stop, frightened of the pain being a serious injury or something.

I wanted to visit a physiotherapist as soon as possible, but that only happened a few months later. I visited my teammate Jordi Reig in Alcoi, and after exploration, he deducted my knee problems probably come from the massive contractures in both quadriceps.

I was meant to start running again, adding minutes to the sessions progressively until reaching the problematic 50 minutes of pain. I've been so busy though, that I haven't been able to do anything in the last months, so I can't say how bad my quadriceps are now.

Two weeks ago, during the WarmUp Weekend in Vilanova, I got a bad kick on my calf during the semifinals game, and the day after even walking was painful. I had already signed up for the Bétera triathlon, so I thought I may not be able to finish it.

I signed up as I did with other competitions last year, with the goal of finishing and nothing more. This time, all my cycling training was a 40km stage I did back in December. Bétera is a sprint with swimming done in a 50m pool, 27kms of cycling in an irregular circuit and a bit more of 5kms of running around the town. It is organised by our team mate Jordi Jordà, and this year was the second edition. I already attended last year.

On Sunday, I had to wake up at 6:10AM after going to bed at 3 or so, had some chaotic breakfast and drove up to Bétera. This year I haven't got a triathlon licence, so I was in the teamless and veteran people leg.

The judges made us wait in the water for nearly half an hour, apparently because one team was missing and was about to arrive. They could have warned and I wouldn't have frozen in there. The people in my lane tried to organise the start of the race, in order of what people said they swam. As the older people claimed they swam in 14m or so, and I had no idea of how much I would do, I offered to go last.

Ok, that was a fuckup. It seems the 4 guys immediately before me weren't exactly van den Hoogenband or Phelps. After the first 100 metres I got tired of swimming at half speed and decidedd to overcome a few of them. I managed to get rid of two on the 350, but when I tried with the third, he didn't seem too cooperate too much, so when there were just 200 metres left I decided to not waste more energy on that. My swimming time wasn't spectacular, but at least I got out without being tired at all.

Cycling made me remember my biggest problem when there's some climbing in the circuit. I climb very well, but everything you climb you'll have to descend eventually. So the three laps were the same: I passed many people on the way up, but on our way down they would go past me again like rockets, due to my minimal body weight. That sucks.

At this point, I thought I would have abandoned the race due to my calf injury, but as I was feeling more or less ok, I decided to give it a try. The first lap of two wasn't so good, I felt my legs weren't used to the transitions, but after they warmed up a bit I started running faster. Until, 1.5kms away from the end, the quadriceps started warning me; I had to slow down again until I crossed the finish line.

I would look more like an athlete if I shaved...

The rest of the team did pretty well on their leg, specially Rubén who came in third after having raced on Friday night. A few hours and many children races later, we received the team award for the Komando's second place.

Everyone loves the Komando. Go Komando!

It always feels good to do races like Bétera. I plan doing a few more races this summer: València, Pinedo, maybe Antella, maybe Cuenca...

Sun, 18 Sep 2005

Pinedo triathlon 2005

Again, I signed up for Pinedo when I should have not. Just like last year.

My triathlon season has ended being a complete fiasco, after many months of trying to convince and motivate myself about training. But right now, the magic is gone. Whatever got me up at 6AM to go swimming, or got me to stay at home on Friday night just to be ready for early cycling on Saturday is not there anymore, and I've gradually lost all my motivation to train for the competitions.

This year I got my license very late, in May, just before signing up for the Valencian Olympic triathlon. I thought that maybe getting a license would get me in. After València, I did another triathlon in Bétera sometime around June. And then, nothing. Nothing meaning not a single kilometre of cycling, not a single metre swimming. I went running a few times over the summer, but that was it.

Pinedo is the last triathlon of the season, and as I didn't manage to finish last year I guess I wanted to get rid of that bad record even in my lowest times. As my physical condition is quite critical (remember?) and I have lost all the muscle I developed during the last two years, I wanted to make something different out of this tri.

Our team is called Komando Club de Triatló, or simply "El Komando" as people are starting to say. There's a long story behind the name, it's not about we being army enthusiasts -actually, all the contrary-, so I thought that if others in the team didn't care about the result, we could do some "show" with the race.

I proposed dressing up as real army men, with camouflage painting on our arms and faces, and wearing plastic combat helmets and machine guns on the running segment. The idea only got support from a few people... who weren't going to run anyway, so I had to prepare to do a real race.

After spending way too many hours collecting all my triathlon equipment here and there, and fixing my bycicle last night, I woke up at 6:45 to get ready. Today, Brande, my sister's boyfriend and the guy who lead our fantastic week in Rjukan faced his first triathlon. I picked him up a bit late according to our schedule, and set off for Pinedo, which is just across Turia's new course outside the city, near the deadly harbour.

We parked the car just a few minutes past 8, not so late in the end, and after the usual ritual of getting our number cards, swimming cap and everything else for the competition, we got inside boxes, as I tried to explain Brande what are the very obvious reasons for disqualification in a triathlon, and hoping not to forget something that would get him in trouble.

The sea, after yesterday's storm, was pretty rough... perfect start for a beginner. With not much warning, the triathlon started and in a few seconds I quickly got all the nice memories of what the swimming segment is all about. Not having completed the first 200 metres, I already had got kicked hard on my face, run over (literally!) by someone who was swimming nearly in the opposite direction, my swimming goggles displaced twice, my eyes full of salty water and had a few good gups of water. With the sensation that I'd be in the last group in the water, I finished the 750 metres, and ran to boxes.

Surprisingly, there were many bycicles in there, so it probably wasn't so bad given my condition. On the road, I tried to connect to a pack ahead of me, but prompty gave up thinking I'd pay the effort later on. And I did anyway, when exiting a roundabout, I tried to speed up to keep up with the two guys in front of me, and my calf got stiff as a rock, before completing the first 10 kilometres. I had to stop cycling to stretch a bit as the pain was way too much, and Brande came from behind in a big pack and overtook me. At that point, with 10 kilometres to go still, I was more than ready to give up, and while I tried to make up my mind, I found myself on the final lap, without any other calf problems.

Running was supossed to be the easiest, being only 5 kilometres, but my legs weren't working too well. The first lap was horrible, and I'm not too looking forward to see my mark for that... But as I kept going on, my legs started to get the idea and I managed to get better and better, doing a quite ok third and final lap, where I managed to overtake Brande, who had been a few minutes ahead of me or so, just 50 metres away from the finish line, and we crossed the line together.

In the end, quite a positive experience despite my final time, a pretty unimpressive 1:25h. Brande said he had liked the race and the atmosphere surrounding it a lot, and is probably thinking about doing more next season.

For me, this is useful to realise how far I am from the best Jordi back in May 2004. Trying to go back to that state is the only way I think I can get the "magic" back to do some decent season for 2006. But it may be too late. I've been thinking and thinking about new goals for my sport activities, which would allow me to concentrate on running and get rid of the cycling and swimming training pressure. We'll see how it goes in the next months.

Tue, 14 Jun 2005

Swimming event at Torrevieja

Last Saturday, a few team members, namedly Kike, Rafa, Komander Gabi and myself went in Gabi's autocaravan (popularly known as the MIR Space Station) to the coastal town of Torrevieja, in Alacant. The goal of this 3h trip was to participate in Torrevieja's Travesía a nado, a popular swimming event, where you have to swim 3.200 metres across the harbour, past and around the jetty and back to a small beach somewhere around the promenade.

As before, I went there with no swimming training at all, and with little hope of being able to finish all the distance. Besides, my left shoulder has been hurting a bit for the last two months, and I didn't know how it'd react to one hour of non-stop swimming.

The caravan arrived in Torrevieja at 21:30 or so, and we had our typical dehydrated pasta plate before going for a short walk around the promenade. After discovering the "hippie shops" had nothing interesting to offer, we decided to go back to sleep, as we'd be getting up quite early for the swim next morning. On the way back, we couldn't resist stopping by a icecream shop to have our dose.

The triathletes prepare for their next adventure

Next morning we were quickly in the line to get our numbers marked on our arms, where we met Polo, our previous triathlon trainer, and after a walk around the harbour on bare feet, we were ready to start. Rafa's mission was to swim with me, as we both had trained little or not at all, but when the judge started the race, I didn't know exactly where Rafa was, so I was on my own for the whole swim.

Being so unfit after two seasons of training gives you a few weird feelings. First, as you slooooooowly swim on your way to the jetty end, you remember how much faster you swam just a few months before, and it makes you feel stupid. Second, stopping for two seconds, looking behind you and discovering there's only two or three people behind you makes you feel quite bad, or at least I'm not used to that...

As soon as I reached the jetty and entered open waters, the swim changed radically. There were big waves, in contrast to the totally calm water inside the harbour, and going up and down without control even made me feel dizzy while swimming. Drinking sea water at least five times didn't help either, as well as the pain in my shoulder getting worse and worse as I advanced. Half way or so, I was supossed to get away from the jetty and look for the beach, but everytime I looked up I couldn't find my way, so I just hoped a boat a few hundred metres away was involved in the event, and headed that way.

I finally arrived at the beach, completing the 3.200 metres in way too much time, but as the goal was to finish, I was pretty happy.

Our reward: seeing lots of half-naked men and burnt skin on our backs

The next untrained adventure is to row from Santa Pola to Tabarca and back, assisting my team mates who will swim the 6 kilometres that separate the nice island to Santa Pola's beaches.

Mon, 23 May 2005

València 2005

I did it! I managed to finish València's olympic triathlon!

On Saturday, as planned, I went cycling with Kiko through one of his secret circuits around Betera. After 30 very slow kilometres we were back at his house, got our Orca wetsuites and went to the swimmingpool to have a relaxing swim. Kiko has an Ironman wetsuite, but for this triathlon he got Vicente's Orca Speedsuit to give it a go. He was delighted with the difference, and is now thinking about getting one for next season. :) Orca just rules.

On Sunday, alarm clocks set off quite early, at 7AM. After a good breakfast and the final preparations, 4 triathletes set off from Benimaclet to the Cabanyal beach, and soon after we were queuing at the boxes entrance, with time running out to set everything up, put on our wetsuites and get started.

I somehow forgot the mandatory swimming cap at boxes, and the minutes I lost going back prevented me of warming up at all, a bad way of starting an adventure that couldn't end up well anyway. Also, my felt the wetsuite wasn't too well placed and it was a bit unconfortable around my neck and armpits.

A few minutes late, the judge let the triathlon start and people rushed into the sea. I wasn't in such a hurry, and started swimming slowly, in an attempt to get a bit warm. Sooner than expected I found myself walking out of the water after completing the first lap, and the second 750 metres were a lot better, and I even could push water a bit harder. When I got out again I looked back and saw so few people that it felt strange, as I normally leave behind a lot more people in the swim.

Got the bicycle after a clumsy transition and set off for the 40 kilometres. This year the circuit was slightly modified with respect to other editions, and we would go all the way to the West gate of the Universitat Politècnica de València and come back through Eugènia Vinyes, to the boxes area. My tactic was to absolutely not try to do anything that would consume my legs during the cycling, if I wanted to stand a chance in the run.

The idea was to do an average of 27kms/h or so, but in the end I did something like 33, as I felt it was going alright. I refused to join any packs that came from behind, because with so many roundabouts and bends it was hard to reconnect every two minutes, and I couldn't care less anyway. Of course, I was literally run over by the race leaders, which were probably cycling at 45kms/h, and other leading packs hosting some of my teammates. Another weird feeling...

When I completed the first 20 kilometres I wished it was just a sprint triathlon, because I would be so close of finishing. Luckily the second 20 felt a bit easier and soon I was in boxes, putting my running shoes on for the toughest part.

As soon as I started I thought "ok, there's no way I'm going to do 10 kilometres on these legs", as a few pains started to appear just on the first metres, specially on my left heel. The running segment was totally confusing, as you had to go back and forth 4 times just to complete one of the three laps, so at first I didn't know too well how much was left to finish the first one. When I learned that doing that 4 times was just one lap, I nearly give up, but luckily the fans at the finish line area (hi Paula and friends :) made me reconsider and start the second lap.

"Only" 10 kilometres to go

Soon after I started getting a few warnings from my right quadricep, "dude, calm down a bit or you'll regret when I explode", so I had to stop for a minute to stretch a bit. By then, most of my Komando teammates were done running and celebrating at the finish area, but I still had around 6 kilometres to go. When I completed the second lap, my quadricep was totally upset and hard as a stone, but having completed most of it there was no way I was going to stop. A bit more, and I crossed the finish line with 2:35, a lot less than what I had estimated in the case that I finished.

This is all the reward I got for finishing

Some of my teammates did quite well, specially Montxi who is demonstrating this year that he could be in elite class if he wanted. I'm happy not only for having finished the strangest race ever (before starting I had no clue of where, if I would, abandon, because my phisical condition was a mystery), but because it has given me a good deal of motivation for the rest of the season, which now starts for me.

Next races: Santa Pola in two weeks, and Antella sometime in July, both sprint distance.

Sat, 21 May 2005

Triathlon again

Last Saturday I was in Cullera's triathlon, as an spectator, as many of my teammates were going to run there. I had a great time there watching the tris, watching the swimming, the cycling, the running, commenting with people how the race went for them, etc. After watching the elite series, a wild idea started invading my mind: I wanted to come back, and as soon as possible.

Two days later I mailed the team's mailing list and asked everyone about how crazy would it be to do my return to the triathlon world during València's triathlon, just a week away, and this year in Olympic distance format. Of course, many reasonable people said it was a bad idea, with no training at all, and that I should focus on Santa Pola and Antella, which are sprint distance and later on during the season, so I have time to train a little and get minimally prepared. The major part of the people who replied told me to ignore them and go ahead and participate.

On Tuesday, first thing in the evening was to go to the Valencian Federation to do a 2005 licence. With the licence, I guess I'll have a reason to run more races because if not it'll be a complete waste of money. I also registered for València's Triathlon.

Evidence that I'll be fucked up on Sunday

My preparation for this race is: 50 minutes of running on Tuesday; 1.200 metres of swimming on Wednesday; some other 1.200 of swimming on Thursday, in the sea and using the wetsuit to get used to it again; and some cycling and swimming on Saturday morning. Not too impressive...

I've had this feeling of fear in my stomach since Thursday because I know it's going to be quite difficult to just finish it, as unfit I am right now. Just finishing the swimming will be hard, as there'll be around 400 people punching and kicking me all over the place, and the organisation makes you do 750 metres, then go out of the sea, run to the starting point again and swim the other 750, and that's exhausting.

If I manage, I'll face the cycling, in a entirely flat circuit, which doesn't suit me at all (I'm a lot better at climbing steep roads). I haven't trained the bike in 5 months, so I'm scared about this one.

Depending on how hard I need to work on the 40 kilometres of cycling, I'll "just" have to run 10 kilometres on a completely hard surface. The good thing is that for the first time, it seems there'll be quite a big number of known people spectating, something that will surely help me keep the morale up. In theory, running is what I'm best prepared for right now, but it all depends on how fucked up my muscles are after the cycling.

The only goal on Sunday is to finish uninjured. I'll have a happy week of vacation ahead to recover from the effort.

Thu, 07 Apr 2005

Is motivation back?

One of the positive effects of the hard exercise at the Rjukan cross-country skiing tracks was that suddenly, I missed doing sport, and started thinking about coming back to the triathlon world, to some extent.

I still have time to prepare for the Fuente Álamo triathlon, at the end of April, as it's sprint distance and my physical condition is bad, but not totally horrendous, after more than 6 months of no training at all. I told a few of my team mates about this, and they encouraged me to start again. Today, I went out running with Kiko and managed to do 40 minutes at more or less 5m/km with no problem at all.

Hopefully I can find time this weekend to do an easy cycling ride for a start. What will be more difficult is to gather enough motivation to wake up at 6:30 to swim. If I did it regularly for the last two years, I guess it's still possible...

The plan is to be in Fuente Álamo and then València, which is Olympic distance this season. Depending on how it goes, we'll see what else I'm able to do. It's a pitty that I have completely ignored the duathlon season this year. It's too late for those now...

Ah, the nice feelings of your legs aching after a hard training, getting home exhausted and sleepy and doubling your eating capacity might soon be with me again...

Tue, 23 Nov 2004

An unexpected turnout

Last week, all the team met with the trainer to talk about some of the season's goals, as always at the start of the season. The most charismatic members of the team expressed their discontent about how the team was being managed, and how our budget spent throughout the season.

The core of the problem is that for years, the University has had an agreement with the Valencian Triathlon Federation to provide a trainer an a project for every season. Roughly half of our ~15.000€ budget went to pay for this, although our trainer (currently one of our own team mates) didn't earn anything near 7000€. Somewhere, for some reason, much of our money was getting "lost" at the federation with no apparent gain for us. We presented an alternative management plan, with total transparency for the budget, everything done by ourselves, etc. which of course implied breaking this tie with the federation, and we called for a new meeting, yesterday, so people to vote to leave things as they were or to go for the new setup. We had started a revolution!

It's obvious the guys at the federation don't want to lose this cool income, so the first thing they did when they knew about our revolution was to phone one of us and warn them that if we went ahead, they would have to take action. What that means, I have no idea, but yesterday it became obvious they didn't just wait for the vote to happen...

So yesterday, at 9PM, we all walked into the meeting room, and let the trainer speak first. Maybe it was a huge coincidence, but he told us that at 6PM, the bosses at the Sports Service had called him and told him that due to a general budget cut from the local government, they had been forced to cut the money for the different sections of the club. This naturally had a big impact on us, as we are one of the most expensive teams in the uni: they have decided to discontinue the triathlon team, and will only support the triathlon activity, which means we can go to train to the University's sport fields and to the swimmingpool, but they won't pay for competitions or anything else, except for the few people that are eligible to attend to the Spanish Universitary Championship (which is a very small percentage, and mostly new people).

The summary is that we've been kicked out, not only the revolution group but also a lot of the new people. Realising we had nothing to do in the new situation, we of course didn't even try to discuss or vote the new plan, and just started discussing what our options are: creating a new club, trying to find some club that might want us in, etc. All of these are going to be a lot more expensive, of course, but oh well... someday this had to finish. If we create a new club, the name will probably be "Komando", which was the codename of the conspiracy group that prepared the revolution. Long live the Komando! :)

And while all of this happened, I've been basically idling, triathlon-wise. All of these conflicts inside the team haven't helped my lack of motivation, so I find myself entering December and not having gone to the swimming pool a single day and just one short cycling training session. The only thing I'm doing is go running with the new people twice a week, because it's fun to know them a bit more. Hopefully if the new team starts I can get started again...

Thu, 07 Oct 2004

Season 2004/2005 starting

Last Monday was the official start of the new triathlon season for the team. Some of the team people had started way before, early in September, but I decided to wait for the first official day.

This year we've got quite a few newcomers, including two Italians and two very young athletes (a 17 y/o boy and a 18 y/o girl), and they seem to like the team. Probably this is because the training is very easy right now: no swimming yet (we're looking for a suitable new swimming pool) and no cycling yet for many as they lack road bicycles. I'm pretty unmotivated to train right now, for a number of reasons, but attended the first to days to more or less welcome them and to see if I got thrilled to start a new season. But not really... I guess the reasons for this lack of motivation are not easy to ignore.

During the two years I've been on the team I've mostly subtituted my friends with new ones, all related to the triathlon world. I mostly didn't find time to visit or do things with my other friends, even if I kept thinking about phoning them or going to their places to see what they were up to. Most of the time I never did, because I just forgot, having too many things in my head, or no time at all to do it. I want to change this, and the only solution is to focus triathlon in some other way that doesn't require most of my free time for trainings. After all, I'm not going to win races or feel better with myself even if I train 10 hours each day, so there's no need to...

Also, my schedule is going to be a lot tighter this year, with work and uni getting quite intense, so that means less free time. My closer teammates progressed a lot last year, and they have grand training plans for this new season. One day we met to talk about these plans and I couldn't help feeling completely out of the group, as the objectives were completely different.

But on the other hand, my flatmates are triathletes, so that might help me going out to train every now and then. We'll see soon, when the training starts getting serious. For now, I'll just try to go out for a run when I feel like it, and avoid it when it feels like an obligation.

Andrew, good luck with your new sport!

Sun, 19 Sep 2004


Even if I said I had finished season 2004, I ended signing up for the last triathlon of the 2004 calendar, in Pinedo (hey, it was free after all!). This was a wild idea, even if the triathlon is sprint distance and oriented to attract new people to triathlon, with easy courses for the bike and run. I have not trained at all since I came back from Oxford, and today it showed a bit...

First, I went to Pinedo after having very, very little sleep during the whole weekend, and very tired. I was one of the first guys to get boxes setup, so 40 minutes before the start I was walking around half naked in the cold of dawn.

When it was finally time to get into water to warm up, I started waking into the sea and came across a large rock that was hiding inside the dirty sea water (Pinedo's is the first beach near the entrance to Valencia's big sea harbour, and it sucks), and hit my knee quite hard. I didn't give this much importance besides the usual loud cursing and swearing, and went swimming for a while. When I came out to get ready for the triathlon start, someone told me "hey, what the fuck is that?", pointing at my leg. Eww, it was completely red, from the blood coming out of my knee. It didn't hurt, so I just cleaned it with some water and a few minutes later the race started.

As usual, I got many blows until I got to the first buoy, and I wasn't getting any good sensations. I came out of the sea quite behind my normal positions, I guess, and quickly came out for the cycling. I managed to link with the pack ahead of me and all was well until I completed the second lap of four. Then, the knee started to hurt a little, then a bit more, until I lost my group and a few others that came from behind. I was very close to abandon the race after the third lap, but decided to do the last 5 kilometres to see if the run was ok with my knee.

As soon as I started running, I realized my knee hurted still, so I abandoned after the first 500m because I didn't want to run the full 5 kilometres just to finish. I would if the triathlon was a bit interesting, but not this one...

A pitty, it's the first time I don't finish a triathlon I've started, and I've had worse injuries in other races...

After the race, there was a very cool race, an aquathlon, with phisically disabled people from the Valencian Disabled Sports Federation. It was great to see people who can't walk or have other mobility disorders swim some good 400 metres, get out of water and then race with their wheel chairs down the promenade.

After the adapted race, there were a series of aquathlons for children. I served as "buoy man" for the smaller ones (around 7 years), which had to swim 50 metres, so I stood in the middle of the sea with my teammate Montxi watching them come. That was great too, watching very young kids being introduced to this kind of sports that early.

The aquathlons were the only positive moments of a quite bad morning. I was quite fond of not having abandoned any race until now... :|

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