Team Train Right Blog: Looking Back Over the Early Season with Cameron Afkhami

After competing in my first Olympic Tri of the season (Boulder Sunrise), I’ve been giving some thought to where I am and how I got here.  And after some serious weighing of my experience: I really feel good about my fitness.

This was a tough winter for me with respect to training.  Back at the end of January I got sick, and it took me a full month and a half to get back to 100%.  I went from 11+ hours of tough training a week, to 2 to 5 hours.  As it turns out, the 11+ hours of steady state training that I was doing was just too much for me to handle. My one track thought process was that, “if I’m not doing my intervals, then someone else is, and is going to be that much faster than me!”  And I lost sight of the fact that, with an extra rest day I’d be gaining speed and I wouldn’t dig myself such a deep hole that I would be costing myself a month and a half of valuable training.  I was fortunate to have a great team, coach and friends who were encouraging of the fact that this was a learning experience and that in the long term, this period really was just a blip.

With my rough winter behind me, I turned my attention to spring.  I was cautious about building back to where I was before all my illnesses.  I couldn’t handle getting sick again!  Unfortunately, my first races of the season snuck up on me and I wasn’t able to really put in the time training to really make more gains, but I was still excited to see where my fitness level truly was (some of my training from before I was sick must have stuck!).  I had never trained so hard, so early and despite my down time I feel faster and fitter than I ever have!

My first race of the season was the Summer Open Sprint Tri, and after a long wait, it was finally time for me to try out my new rig!

I've had my current bike since October 2010, but hadn’t had a chance to race it. When I hit the pedals at the Summer Open Sprint, I was a man on a mission.  My average speed on the bike was 3 mph faster than I have ever averaged in a race!  Of course a good portion of this was the bike, fit and wheels, but I also attribute a solid portion of that gain to my CTS coaching. I couldn’t have been happier, but unfortunately, I cramped coming off the bike and wasn’t able to maintain my lead. Nevertheless, it was a good day with all of my teammates there and I still stood on the podium in second.

Side note:  The reason for my cramp was dehydration.  I had made a point the week leading up to the race to drink more water (I even wrote a note on my hand to remind myself), but as it turns out I still hadn’t consumed enough. Dumb mistake. This cramp actually lead to some serious calf problems for the next several days post race, and I ended up needing to visit a massage therapist to help my calves to release. As I told my massage therapist, Faith, they are miracle workers!

My second race of the year was the Bolder Boulder, the weekend following the Summer Open. Although my legs had never quite recovered from my cramp at the Summer Open, I was still able to PR. Even with my rough start to the year and my calves not being 100%, I took 35 seconds off of my previous best. At this point I was extremely happy with where I was fitness wise. Post race, I was sure to visit my friends Mr. Ice Bath, and Mr. Foam Roller to try and avoid another experience like I had post Summer Open.

After the race, I decided that next year I will not ‘race’ the BB.  Too much fun to be had at that race (aka Slip N’ Slides, sausage/bacon, Marshmallows, music, and beer along the way) to really put the hammer down.

My legs were definitely tired the week following the BB, but for whatever reason I made another mistake leading into the Boulder Sunrise Olympic Triathlon. I went on a hike with my friends 2 days before the race, and unfortunately, the hike was 2000 vertical feet of stairs!  My legs were still sore on race morning. I could tell I wasn’t going to have my best performance possible, but I still wanted to give it my all and see where my Olympic distance fitness was. My power on the bike was 20 watts below where I knew they could have been, but I was only 1 mph slower than at the Summer Open. As it turns out, I was able to PR by 8 minutes! I ended up getting 6th overall and 1st in my age group. Another great result, especially considering the circumstances!

As I look back at my early season, I’m beginning to realize why most people don’t schedule big races until late in the season. I made a LOT of dumb mistakes in the early part of the year, and I should have known better, but I just make mental notes and remember not to make them again. Fortunately, my bigger races of the year are still to come and I have plenty of experience under my belt for this season. I’m looking forward to a recovery week and then getting back into training for my bigger races of this early season, the Loveland Lake 2 Lake Olympic, and the Boulder Peak Olympic!


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