Monday, April 23, 2012

My book

Some of you may know that a short while after I created this blog, I came up with the idea of using my experiences, both in coaching and competing in endurance sports, to write a book.  Over the past year, the book has largely been a work in progress.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing parts of the book through my blog.  Not sure if I will ever get around to finishing it and getting it published.  The whole process has been quite a bit of fun. 

Below you will find the cover, table of contents, preface, and first two chapters.  Over the coming weeks I will release additional chapters.  I hope you find my attempt at being an author informative, inspiring, and most importantly entertaining.  
 Sincerely,

Scot (The Multisport Maniac)


Preface


Being an endurance athlete is not about the sport, but rather the challenge.  Whether it is taking on a new distance, trying to set a personal record, or simple a new adventure, it is the adrenaline and the feeling of accomplishment that makes us who we are.    

I started partaking in endurance sports in March of 2006 shortly after finishing graduate school.  I had always been an athlete, playing many sports since the age of 5, but this was my 1st true test in the endurance world.  My 1st road race was a 5 kilometer St. Patrick’s Day race in Davis Square, Somerville, MA.  The race consisted of some rolling hills and finished with a flat sprint on the Minuteman Bike Path.  That adrenaline surge I got once the finish line was in sight was something unto itself. 

Right around the same time period, I bought my first road bicycle.  Having struggled on my old 10 speed Huffy commuting back and forth to work (my typical routes were 8 ½ to 11 miles each way) a few times, I decided it was time for an upgrade.  My primary purpose in getting the bike was commuting, but I was also interested in some group riding and even floated the idea of possibly getting involved in triathlon.  I laugh at it now, but when I bought the bicycle my friend Mark told the salesman, “This is Scot, he is new to riding, but will be doing 50 mile Saturday morning rides in no time.”  Little did I know what was in store for me? 

In addition to getting into many sports, I also got into coaching.  Having roughly a 20 year background in soccer at the time, my wife (Amy who will be repeatedly mentioned throughout this book) and I started coaching an under 10 soccer team.  As my interest in multisport activities continued to grow, I also got into coaching triathlon and became a USA Triathlon certified coach. 

Over the years, my adventures grew to new heights and I have participated in many different types of sports.  In addition to running and cycling, I participate in swimming, triathlon, trail running, cross country skiing, hiking, rock climbing, soccer, and down hill skiing on a regular basis.  One of the things I have always loved about being a multisport athlete is the cross training benefits between the sports. 

After reading count less books on training for different sports and a few more books on the exploits of endurance athletes, I started to maintain a blog.  It really started out as a way to archive my stories, training, and race reports.  Over the years it became a place to consolidate my results: # of events completed, times, charity fundraising, etc., etc.  I started by just publishing links to my posts on Facebook / Twitter to see if my friends would read them. 

  • First some of my friends would mention here and there that they have been following my blog.  I would get comments like, “You signed up for what?  Are you crazy?” which is standard language for endurance athletes. 
  • Second I received a Christmas card from some friends informing me they love my blog.  Which I found as a very interesting way to tell me they were reading it, but none the less appreciated.
  • Third, one of my pro-triathlete friends mentioned that he was following my blog.  Having a blog in the pro-triathlete world is actually quite common as it provides a way share race schedule and experiences with fans. 

At this point I realized I might have something and decided to embark on a new journey.  The main purpose of this book is to share my experiences in training for and taking on events in different endurance sports and provide a guide to helping others do the same.  Some of them are more main stream like running a half marathon while others are a little different like taking on a winter triathlon (run, mountain bike, cross country ski) or an 8 stage triathlon through the mountains in the state of New York. 

One of my draws to endurance sports has always been the visible progress you get by working harder.  You truly get out what you put in.  I have learned countless lessons and made numerous friends from taking on and coaching others through endurance events.  As a net result I feel that I am much stronger person, both mentally and physically. 

I hope you enjoy my stories, an inner look at my training, and my guide on how you too can be a Multisport Maniac. 

Table of Contents
Preface. 2
Acknowledgements. 4
Part 1: Where it All Began. 6
Chapter 1: Endurance Sports. 6
Chapter 2: 1st Endurance Events. 7
Chapter 3: The Early Years. 9
Chapter 4: High School 12
Chapter 5: College. 19
Chapter 6: My First Race. 22
Chapter 7: Coaching. 24
Part 2: Types of Events and How to Train for Them.. 27
Chapter 8: General Training for All Endurance Events. 27
Chapter 9: Single Sport Events. 35
Chapter 10: Multisport Events. 40
Chapter 11: Goal Setting. 43
Chapter 12: Racing. 45
Chapter 13: Recovery. 48
Part 3: Events. 49
Chapter 14: The Tri-State Trek. 50
Chapter 15: Firmman RI (1st Half Iron Triathlon) 56
Chapter 16: Hyannis Road Races. 62
Chapter 17: Mooseman Half Iron. 66
Chapter 18: The Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride. 74
Chapter 19: Survival of the Shawangunks. 78
Chapter 20: Gunstock Winter Triathlon. 89
Chapter 21: Croom Fool’s 50K Trail Run. 94
Chapter 22: The Vermont 50. 102
Epilogue. 107
About the Author

Part 1: Where it All Began

Chapter 1: Endurance Sports

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” -- George S. Patton

According to Wikipedia, endurance sports are “… a subset of sports in which the goal is prolonged athletic output over an extended distance or for an extended period of time.” [1]  The article continues on to stress that they are aerobic in nature and lists a number of types of endurance sports, including marathoning, rowing, cross country skiing, triathlon, and endurance motor racing. 

Aerobic vs. An-Aerobic

The difference between aerobic and an-aerobic is low and high intensity exercise.  When the body is working out at a high intensity, the energy demands exceed the capacity that can be generated purely from oxygen and carbohydrates are consumed at a faster rate producing lactate.  This also causes faster depletion of ones glycogen stores.  Generally one does not work out solely aerobically or an-aerobically, but somewhere in between.  Most endurance sports function in the mid to high aerobic zones.  Well trained individuals can generally run shorter road races or even take on sprint triathlons an-aerobically. [2]

To me an endurance sport represents any event that requires a plan to train for and to complete the event.  This can be as informal as running three days a week before taking on a road race to as formal as following a structured, periodized plan with focuses on strength training, swimming, cycling, running, nutrition, and rest (time off) for taking on a triathlon.  To complete an endurance event successfully (or to best of your abilities), requires creation of and execution of a plan. 

Often this requires one to push outside of their comfort zone, to dig deep, and struggle physically and emotionally.  It is the effort and will power required to push outside these bounds that lure most people into endurance sports and that feeling of satisfaction and achievement is what keeps them there.  After completing an event and knowing what you are capable of makes you a stronger person, in all aspects of life.  Many endurance athletes cite this struggle as one of the true feelings of knowing you are alive. 

Completing an endurance event generally includes undergoing a great deal of physical and mental pain, but often results priceless memories.  Over time the recollection of the pain fades quickly, but the feelings of accomplishment, of achievement, and of success never go away. 

Using the above definitions it is hard to say when I completed my 1st true endurance event.  After being a member of the track team in high school and college and running a few short road races, I was quite familiar with pushing myself to my an-aerobic limits (it is amazing how bad one can make oneself feel in under a minute running a 400 meter race), but not as much on the aerobic side.  50 kilometer and 50 mile charity bike rides and sprint triathlons are probably when I first made the transition to endurance sports. 

Chapter 2: 1st Endurance Events

“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.” -- Alvin Toffler

Throughout this book I will describe events that I have participated / competed in and follow up each set with a look at my training for each event.  My 1st events didn’t have much structured training, but as I learned more about endurance sports, I started following much more stringent plans. 

The Event: Give Peace a Tri
URL: http://www.givepeaceatri.net
Date: July 7th, 2007
Distance: Sprint Triathlon (1/4 mile swim, 8 mile bike, 3.1 mile run)
Time: 53:52
Place: 34 / 174 Over All, 9 / 41 Age Group

On July 7th, 2007 (7/7/07 seemed like a pretty lucky date to start), I completed my 1st triathlon, a short sprint triathlon named “Give Peace A Tri” at Surry State Park in New Hampshire.  It just so happened that I have relatives that live roughly twenty minutes from the park, so my whole family (mom and dad, sister, and wife) all made a weekend out of it.  My sister also got into triathlons at the same time so this was her first race too.  The race was pretty low key (even for a sprint triathlon).  It consisted of a ¼ mile swim, 8 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run (Typical sprint races consist of a ¼ - ½ mile swim, 12-15 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run).  The transition area (area in triathlon where you swap out your equipment when switching from sport to sport) was a grass field and everyone spread out beach towels randomly (generally there are bike racks and assigned spaces).  I was glad for the short swim as I had just begun my attempt to really learn to swim (I had always swam in pools and lakes as a kid, but never competitively) and didn’t see an 8 mile ride or 3.1 mile run to be to hard. 

A few things that I remember vividly about the day was a nervous feeling the night before / morning off, feeling of complete panic when the open water swim started, and feeling like I couldn’t move my legs at the beginning of the run.  None the less, I made it through the event, quickly declared myself a triathlete, and then headed back to my uncle’s house for celebratory burgers and beer.  All and all it was a great experience and I was ready for more. 

Training for my 1st Triathlon

Training for my 1st race was completely unfettered.  I didn’t really know much about endurance sports at the time and new even less about triathlon.  I got the gist that in order to complete the race, you needed to do each of the events, but it never occurred to me how much goes into planning out your transition and doing brick work (workouts where you go directly from one sport to another) to train your body to be able to transition from sport to sport.  My training largely consisted of lap swimming, cycling back and forth to work, running ~3 miles once or twice a week.

The Event: Harpoon Point to Point
URL: http://www.harpoonpointtopoint.com/
Date: August 11th, 2007
Distance: 54 Mile Charity Bike Ride

On August 11, 2007 (My 27th Birthday), Amy and I completed the Harpoon Point to Point bike ride to benefit the Vermont Food Bank.  This was our 2nd experience doing a charity ride and we highly recommend it to those who have a love for cycling.  The Harpoon Point to Point has three options: 25, 50, and 115 miles.  We opted for the 50 mile route as our longest ride at the time was 37  miles and figured 50 sounded like a good challenge (note that it is not recommended you ever try to go more twice the distance of ride you have completed within recent months). 

The way the 50 and 115 mile options work for the Point to Point is you arrive at the brewery (Windsor, VT) bright and early and then get bused off to the start and ride back to the brewery.  The ride started in Royalston that year (the 50 mile start has since been moved to Bethel), and upon further inspection of the queue sheet, we realized the ride was 54 miles (instead of the advertised 50).  After a few flat miles we found ourselves climbing for what seemed like an eternity (was probably ~1000 feet over 6-7 miles) before finally reaching the first aid station. 

Scared of what might be in store, we tried to settle in a comfortable pace, but found ourselves next whipping around corners at 40 mph as we zoomed down hill.  This process repeated a couple of times until we reached the aid station around mile 46.  From here to the finish included one last steep climb followed by one more down hill.  Feeling pretty spent at this point I sucked down a caffeinated gel packet and dug in with what I had left. 

Charity Rides
Most Charity rides generally include some type of hardship; whether it is steep climbs, long distances, or multiple days, the goal is to make you work to complete the ride.  Since the primary reason behind the event is to raise funds for those less fortunate, suffering becomes a way to empathize.  It is this empathy and the ability to give back / help out that makes charity rides so popular. 

Harpoon and the Vermont Food Bank had planned this hill well and all three of the distances had converged to the same route at this point.  Signs were placed every 50 yards up the hill informing you about the Vermont Food Bank’s work and the prevalence of hunger in the state of Vermont.  By the middle of the climb my quads were screaming and all I could do was focus on getting to the next sign.  By the top the hill, the signs became much more powerful and I remember that last one saying, “eating is a right, not a luxury.” 

Finally we cruised back into the parking lot at Harpoon, showered (Harpoon has makeshift showers in tents setup for their athletic events) and relaxed at the BBQ before a long drive home. I realized at this point I was starting to become hooked and was anxiously researching my next event.  

Training for the Harpoon Point to Point

Similar to my 1st triathlon, training for my first 50 mile bike ride was pretty unstructured.  It primarily consisted of cycling back and forth to work with a few longer rides on the weekends.  Most weeks I would put three solid days of cycling in and then would be so tired I had to take the next two days off before continuing.  Soon I would learn how much of a difference additional sleep and better diet would make.


[1] Definition of Endurance Sports, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Endurance_sports
[2] Definition of Aerobic Exercise, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_exercise


Tune in Next week for the next set of chapters.  All feedback is welcome.  

Scot

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