Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:47

Recovering From Brazos Bend 100 Pacing

Having just completed pacing at Brazos Bend 100 where everything was flat and I had to adjust to using the same muscles repeatedly, I’m starting to think about recovery and how I can best prepare for my next set of races. The Bandera 100k (pacing a superb athlete), and Rocky Raccoon 100 (shooting for sub 19 hours) are are going to be extreme iwith varying terrain and lots of speed, and they get me thinking about how I want to avoid past mistakes I’ve made in my recovery.

 

I was 10 days post Ironman Louisville and I may have made one mistake on my way to being properly recovered. What was that mistake? Deciding to ride 40 miles on the Saturday after the race was not a big deal. Was the problem that I rode my CX bike, which has knobby tires, so pushing the pedals takes a bit more energy? Nope, it was going out to run trails the next day. I thought I was running 5-6 miles, but wound up at 8 and on a humid day. That was not smart. When you combine those two items you end up with a body that isn’t fully recovered.

 

Fortunately for me, I was smart enough to have recognized that problem and did nothing other than sleep in, swim, and jumped on the trainer to allow my legs to spin as I recovered. To that end, I was asked about preparing and recovering from an Ironman race or even a 100-mile ultra trail run. These are my tips.

 

Nutrition:

The focus on nutrition is a key for me regardless of race prep or not, but during the week before and two weeks after a race, my focus on nutrition is on high alert. I focus on lean proteins such as eggs, tofu and tempeh. I try to get those into every meal so that I am healing my body from the inside out, repairing muscle tissue that has been crushed during the race.I also add in lots of healthy fats in the form of nuts, beans, avocado, and of course the previously mentioned eggs. When I do this, I notice that my body repairs quickly.

 

When it comes to spicing up my food, I add turmeric and cinnamon as much as possible.

 

Inactivity / Rest:

Of course, I started by saying I made a mistake by getting too much in too soon, but the key to recovery and taper is inactivity. It is hard for athletes to sit around and just enjoy life, but I find that when I do that, I am healing my body heading into the race, as well as healing it coming out of the race. This rest also gives me an opportunity to do things that are not swimming, biking, and running. I get closer to family and friends, but it also allows me to not get burned out.

 

Sleep:

This should go without saying. Sleep is a key to relaxing the body and mind. It is during sleep that our body resets itself, and leading into the race, it may be difficult to get enough. However, when you come out of the race, sleeping in for an extra hour or two, plus naps, is essential. Without a structured training plan, sleeping in until 8a or 9a is golden. You can still get a 1 hour workout in and still be done by 12pm so that you have the whole day ahead off.

 

When it comes to sleep after the race, I pay a lot of attention to my sleep environment. Not only does having a comfortable mattress help with my recovery, but I make sure to turn mine because I like to have a 'fresh' mattress to sleep on. I also make the room very cold and dark. Lastly, I do not want to be distracted, so I turn the phone to Do Not Disturb and let the world go.

Published in Train
Sunday, 16 October 2016 21:38

Ironman Louisville 2016 Race Report

October 9, 2016.......Ironman Louisville took place and for the first time in a long time I was not sure how the day would unfold. This is my race report and will not be too detailed with regard to the course and will provide that in another blog post.

Prior To Race Day

My buddy Goat and I left Dallas on Wednesday for the long car ride to Louisville. We decided to break up the ride and stop in Memphis. This was a really smart move as we got into Louisville on Thursday afternoon and had plenty of time before bike check-in, practice swim, bike ride and run. All the things you need to do before you toe the line for a long day of racing.

We rented a house in the Audobon section of Louisville and it was gorgeous. The FW Tri Club had 5 athletes racing and 2 Sherpas staying in the house. We all had our own rooms and bathrooms so that we were not in each others way. My friends Jeff and Annie came out to Louisville to cheer Kevin and I on. Kevin was there with his wife Jennie and son. There was going to be plenty of support on the course with all the athletes and sherpas. This could shape up to be a fantastic day but the reality of it was that I was tired. I was tired of training. I was tired of triathlon and Ironman. I wanted this race to be over as quickly as it could be. Having the support around me that I did made a world of difference.

With bikes checked in, bags turned over, nutrition bottles filled, and dinner consumed we went to bed around 9:00pm. I laid in bed thinking about everything and could feel myself not being able to sleep. This is the first time in a long time that I can remember not falling asleep easily the day before a race. I had a lot of things swirling in my head. I was thinking about work and phone calls I had to make. I was thinking about my wife and where she would be and how she would manage on race day. I thought about the race and the goals I set for myself. The nerves were there and this was unusual.

I think the biggest stressor was the goal I had set for myself. I did not tell anybody, not even Karen what I expected as I did not want to have those expectations grow to become unreasonable but there is one person that knew exactly what I wanted to do. Ever since I met Taylor after his completion of Ironman Arizona in 2013 we have had this ongoing routine of texting each other our race goals. The day before the race I sent him the text message of what I thought my body could do and some might say it was spot on and that I know my body well.

Ironman Lousivlle_triathlon_race times

Swim

Ironman Louisville_Swim

I have anxiety when it comes to the swim of an Ironman event but having raced Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 this rolling start was exciting to me. I knew I would be able to jump in, pick a line and swim. Despite the conversation about swimming upstream for 1,400 yards I was more than happy to exchange that for the mass swim start of races past.

We dropped off bikes and got in line. We had about a mile walk to the swim start but knowing that the lines move fast I did not worry about this. We got in line and started chatting with our neighbors and the tension that normally accompanies the start of this race was gone. I pee'd in my wetsuit twice on the walk and noticed that the entire concrete area was wet despite the fact that it had not rained in days in Louisville. I laughed with my teammates and was starting to feel very loose. The tension and stress from the night before was gone.

We hit the pier area and I tapped Goat to wish him well. PUshed my goggles on tight and as I was about to jump in I noticed another athlete coming at us. The look of fear on his face with no goggles and no swim cap. I could not worry about it as I jumped in an began swimming. The line was clear and I very rarely touched anybody. I could see the buoys and got to the tip of the island in no time. I was actually surprised how quickly I got to the tip of the island. I knew I had another 500 yards until the turn around and when I got there the typical contact began as everybody bottles up around the turn buoys.

As I turned I got kicked in the face and had to stop to adjust my goggles but that would be the extent of the major contact. I wanted to swim free and clear and was away from most but as the buoys came up I found myself right on top of them. I could not figure out why I was so close but just went with it. Every now and again I would have somebody touch my foot or swim across my face but this was a relatively clear swim.

The buoys went by quickly and I was able to swim right up to the stairs and exit. Once under the swim out arch I looked at my watch and saw 1:17. Me? 1:17? Holy cow. I immediatly knew I had 8 minutes on my predicted time.

I flopped on the ground like a fish and had my wetsuit ripped off. Grabbed a cup of water on the way out and then began the run from to the transition. I yelled out my bag and they handed it to me as I made the turn down the rows of bags.

T1

I pride myself on being in and out of transition as it is still part of the race. I always choose not to go into the tents as there is nothing but ass and balls in there and they are typically very hot. I was outside the tent and put my shoes on when I heard a volunteer yell to a lady she was going in the wrong tent. I looked up and told her that she did not want to go in there.

Once my arm sleeves were on I ran through the tent and handed my bag to another wonderful volunteer. Through the tent and some sunscreen that burned like heck. I realized I had gotten a wetsuit hickey and it burned when the sunscreen went onto it.

Out to my bike where I noticed most were gone but this did not phase me as I got into the water around 8:05am which is rather late.

As I grabbed my bike and began to run to the bike out arch I was ready to ride. That is until the volunteers yelled that the mount line was further up. What I did not notice was that by further up it was about a 1:00-2:00 run to the mount line. By the time I got there I realized my transition was close to 10 minutes and thus all the swim time I gained I just gave back.

Bike

Ironman Louisville_Bike

I saw Karen, Annie and Jeff immediately and that was a good feeling. The first 10 miles from bike out are relatively flat but I had looked at the weather and knew it was a 4-7 mph wind out of the North-North East and that is exactly where were headed so we had a light headwind. Nothing too noticeable but it was there.

During these 10 miles I was just getting accustomed to the bike and I noticed that my feet were freezing. While the water was 73* the air temp was about 50*. I put on full-finger cycling gloves but my feet would suffer for the majority of the ride.

After the 10 miles you start the climbing. This first climb is steep and I had another athlete say to me, after we crescted, that he was good on that hill but was now done for all the others. We had a good laugh. I was now ready to settle into the ride and knew it would be a lot of gear shifting, climbing and descending.

This bike course is relentless for a Texan. The average gain per mile is a tad under 50ft. In Dallas-Fort Worth, we may average 35 ft/mi if we are lucky. That 15 feet does not sound like much but over 112 miles that equates to nearly 1,700 feet of climbing we do not experience here. If you climb for :30-1:00 and descend for :05-:07 there is no chance to really recover and all this adds up throughout the ride. I decided to ride to NP instead of average power because for every climb there would be a descent and thus the average power numbers would be off. I have typically ridden the DFW area to an NP of 176w but trying to stay conservative I decided to stay between NP of 155-160w.

When I finished the first loop in three hours I felt a 6 hour bike finish was plausible and my power was right where I wanted it. My mindset changed when I realized that the fatigue was building and that I had another 20 miles of climbing. I adjusted my goal mentally to 6:05-6:10 on the bike and would still be happy with that. As I passed other athletes that were bombing the descents and then incapable of climbing I was gaining confidence and realizing that I had more in my legs than I thought. I had to stick to my goal watts and pay attention to cadence on the climbs.

One part of the bike course that is phenomenal is when you ride through the town of Le Grange. There are fences and boards up lining the street and they are yelling loudly. You feel like a rockstar going through this section and it reminded me of Chattanooga. Every Ironman race should have this setup.

Once through Le Grange and the short out and back I knew I had 33 miles back to downtown Louisville. I figured I would have a tailwind at this point and tucked in. I noticed that my power was exactly where I wanted it at NP of 155w. This was going to be a good ride that would set me up for a run......until things changed. On the ride back to town I noticed that I was not pushing my watts and that I had only pee'd once on the bike. Was I losing energy? Was I dehydrated? I started to worry but then the 5.0 mile notifications went off and they were sub-15:00 which means I was riding faster than 20 mph. Oh well, could not worry about it now.

At the last aid station I took a handup of Gatorade and drank the entire bottle in less than 10 miles because I wanted to make sure I had tried to be as hydrated as possible at this point.

As I went past the swim start  I slipped my feet out of my shoes and prepared to dismount and run. When I got to the dismount line I noticed that I had ridden the second 56 miles just a bit faster than the first 56 and my legs felt like they could run. This was going to be a good test of my fitness.

T2

I handed off my bike and ran down the 'alley' to the gear bags and yelled out my number. I turned the corner and did not see it but that was because a volunteer further up the aisle had it ready to hand to me. I grabbed as I ran past and again go dressed outside of the tent. Run shoes on, hat on, and loaded up my nutrition flasks into my pockets. Race belt on as I went through the tent and then additional sunscreen. Time to run!!!

Run

Ironman Louisville_Run

I had a goal of running a sub-4:00 marathon two years ago and ran 3:58:59. I had that same goal but I felt my run training was solid and a 3:50 marathon was more than feasible. The first mile ticked off at sub-9:00 and then I saw Karen, Dave and Annie and it was an awesome sight. I was on cloud 9 as the next few miles ticked off under 9:00. I had to tell myself to be smart about this. Holding back in the first 5-6 miles would help me get to that 3:50. The reviews of this run course was that it was flat but what I noticed after we past through the University of Louisville was a short sharp descent and my quads began yelling at me. After 5,000 ft of climbing on the bike my legs were somewhat shocked to be running and at this pace. At Mile 4 I caught Goat (typically do not catch him until mile 20) and I was surprised. A slap on the ass and a fist bump and I was off. 

Since this is a double loop that is straight out and back I figured that the turn around would be at mile 6.5. That was a wrong assumption. The turn around was until mile 7+ and it was a false flat all the way to that point. Once you turned you could feel the slight descent taking hold. My watch was beeping at every mile and nothing was slower that 9:30 and that was with walking through aid stations. I was excited but I could feel my quads yelling at me. It felt as if they were at the end of the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race.

Toward the end of the first loop I ran under the Red Bull arch and saw Karen. She took pictures and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was hurting but could not muster much else. I had to keep running if I wanted to reach my goals and I was gone. I noticed that I ran the first 1/2 marathon in 1:56 and if I could repeat that I would finish in 3:52. The miles ticked off and my feet were moving but my walks through the aid stations were taking a tad longer than I wanted. When I reached the final turn around point I knew I had 6 miles to go and with 10:00 miles I could be right at 4 hours. I did not want to chance it so I made a decision that there would be no walking through aid stations. I had to grab water/coke/gatorage on the run.

As each mile ticked off I had saved :30-:45 seconds over the 10:00/mi pace. I was moving and my determination kept growing. I was doing math in my head an thought I could run a 3:55. Off my goal but still an IM marathon PR. When I had only 1 mile left to go it was time to do the gut check. Could I keep running and not break down. With about 0.75 miles to go I knew I had the run of a lifetime and began smiling. I took my sunglasses off and hung them from my jersey. I ran about 0.5 miles and they fell out. Oh shit!!! Stopping to pick them up would cost me time plus the idea of bending down to pick them up was intolerable. I did turn around and grab them. I looked up and kept going and sure enough I saw a teammate up ahead around the Red Bull arch. I came up on him, slapped him on the ass and wished him well as he headed off on his second loop.

As I started down the chute I saw another friend, Erin, who took one of the best pics of the night. The lights and sounds of the finish line were calling me. Heading down the chute my smile grew bigger and bigger. I crossed the line of my 6th finish and nearly collapsed as I had no energy left. Dehydrated, overwhelmed with a 3:56 marathon and a fantastic day at the race. I saw Karen and the tears welled up in my eyes. These race finishes are always emotional for me as I reflect on the sacrifice, time, energy that I put in, that my family puts in, that my friends put in. They are never easy to get to. They are never easy to cross but when you do it is a state of euphoria.

Finish Times

Swim - 1:18:02

T1 - 8:06

Bike - 5:54:36

T2 - 5:08

Run - 3:56:20

Overall: 11:22:12

 

Ironman Louisville_Finish Line_4th Street Live

 

Thank You

To my family and friends for dealing with me over 16 weeks of training. To the volunteers for being fantastic all day long. To WTC for putting on a first class event. To the city of Louisville for hosting us and showing us what it is like for a community to embrace Ironman weekend.

 

 

 

 

Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 16:41

Ironman Florida 2015 Race Report

Ironman Florida (IMFL) was not the race I was supposed to finish but it was the race that I did finish. I had registered for Ironman Maryland and traveled up to the race site in early October only to have the race cancelled thanks to Hurricane Juaquin. This cancellation caused an additional 6 weeks of training and anxiety.

WTC informed us that they would send out an email after the rescheduled date of October 17th with an opportunity to choose a race to attend. Ironman Florida was going to be my choice because of all the FW Tri Club teammates that would be racing. My application was accepted and in the email was told I would be receiving a final registration email.

Weeks went by without the email and finally on Thursday October 29th I told Karen that if I did not have an email by 8am I was not going to race and would instead run the Little Rocky 50k Trail Race I had already registered for. At 9am on Thursday I received the email and immediately replied and was in. That night we made travel arrangements and before I knew it we were flying to Panama City Beach.

PRE-RACE

On the Thursday before the race our crew went for a practice swim in our wetsuits and the water felt great. After that we hit the road for a one hour ride and then a 2 mile run. It was on the run that I could feel the heat and humidity and knew that staying hydrated was going to be the key to the race.

The next day, Friday, we went to the practice swim and I jumped in the Gulf or Mexico without a wetsuit and had my ass handed to me by the current and breakers. Immediately my anxiety level went up and if the reports of wetsuit optional were correct then I was going to wear a wetsuit. Having raced Ironman Texas in 2011 and 2012 without a wetsuit I had no need to prove to anybody that I could do it. Couple that with the fact that I am not close to claiming a podium and/or Kona slot then I really had no reason to not wear a wetsuit.

RACE DAY

When the alarm went off at 3am I woke up full of excitement knowing that race day had finally arrived. It had been a long training journey, both physically and mentally, and I was ready. After a quick breakfast of coffee, toast, peanut butter and bananas we jumped in the car to make the 10 minute drive to the shuttle that would take us to the race start.

As I walked into transition I saw the President of our club and he told us that our race results would be posted in the overall but not age group and that the points we accumulated would count toward the TriClub Program. Once I heard that the idea to wear a wetsuit was cemented as I had a thought that if the water looked calm I would race wihtout it.

After putting water bottles on my bike and additional nutrition in my transition bags I went and chatted with team members. Hanging out with them took a lot of the nerves that comes with a race start away. We took the obligatory pre-race photos and made our way down to the beach. Clad in my wetsuit and looking at the water I knew that wearing one, for me, was the absolute correct decision.

SWIMIronman Florida Swim

Ironman Florida is a rolling start and we got loaded into the corral and nobody tried to find the right spot to start in. It was a mass start without the wading. As I walked toward the water and jumped in my body said to me: it's go time. I tried to swim but consistently hit somebody or was hit by somebody. My anxiety kept creeping up and up and up. I started to breaststroke until I could calm down but that never really happened during the first portion of the swim.

At one point I found a floating mattress and swam towards it and hung on. I took my goggles off and cleaned them but this was nothing more than a delay tactic. Once I felt my heart rate slow down I started swimming again. My goal was to swim buoy to buoy and at each buoy I would breaststroke to try and regain my composure. This worked great and I got to the first turn buoy where my competitive side kicked in, anxiety lowered and it was game on. From that first turn buoy to the finish of the first loop there were no issues. I got out of the water and saw 44:xx on my watch and thought I would be in line for a 1:30 swim which is right where I normally am.

As I went through the arch I saw that the beach was non-existent but thought I should run down and jump in the water where the start was but noticed everybody getting in the water right away and volunteers pointing to the water. HOLY SH*T what a bad idea that was. At 5'7" and 145 pounds I got smashed by every wave coming ashore and it took what seemed like forever to finally make it to the buoy line. Had I been a kid on a summer vacation that would have been awesome but as an athlete just trying to get the swim overwith that was a tough scenario to face.

At the buoys I swam with no issues at all. Barely touched a few feet and was barely touched the rest of the way. Once I reached the breakers it was like body surfing until the last wave just smashed me from behind and knocked my goggles up and over my head. I was able to have one strap stay on my head and flip them back into position to finish the swim. I checked my watch and saw 1:35 and could not figure out how the second loop took 51 minutes when I swam the entire time with no issues then realized that the diagnol took all that extra time to fight through.

 

BIKE

IMFL Bike Start

In and out of transition in about 8 minutes I was running out and handed my bike. Time to pedal for 112 miles while staying composed to not push too hard. As I exited the bike out arch I saw Karen and my buddy Dog Bait yelling and off I went.

My goal for the bike portion was to ride at the high end of my IM watt range which is 135w-155w. If I stayed composed and did not chase anybody I would set myself up for a really good run. I passed my teammate Julie (Jell-O) at Mile 10 and felt very comfortable with where I was. The wind was blowing in our faces but it was light and I never felt like I was exerting too much energy.

All throughout the ride my 5 mile splits were anywhere from 14:30 to 16:00 and I knew I was staying steady but after 60 miles I realized I had not urinated once. I tried multiple times after that but I had nothing. I changed my hydration strategy from every 5 miles to every 2.5 miles and I still did not have an urge to pee. This was starting to cause some concern about how I would perform on the run but all I could do was keep drinking.

Around Mile 70 I hooked up with another athlete and we played the game of passing and being passed all the way through to the end. Along the way I passed another teammate at Mile 90 and he looked good. Still worried about my hydration I looked at my shorts and did not see any salt stains so I just kept on trucking.

As we were about to enter the main street back to T2 we were stopped by the police because an ambulance was screaming down the highway. There were 4 of us just stopped waiting. While the wait was short it was odd and now the four of us were all bunched up and all at the same level so it looked like we were drafting off of each other the entire time.

A referee pulled up on us and not wanting to get a penalty I hauled ass and pulled away from the other athletes. As I rounded the bend in the road I slipped my feet out of my shoes and dismounted. Handed my bike and my helmet to the volunteer and into the changing tent I went.

RUN

Ironman Florida Run

A hat, a race belt and some nutrition and off I was onto the run course. In my hand was my bike computer because while on the bike my watch beeped low battery. Not wanting to be without technology I quickly took my computer off my bike and hit the reset button and then start button as I left transition.

For 5 years the one major goal I had for Ironman was to break 4 hours at the marathon. I have been close with 4:09, 4:06, 4:06 and 4:02 but wasn't sure that IMFL was going to be the day because of the 6 week break between peak traning for Ironman Maryland and the start of this race. Just run became the mantra but my legs felt trashed right from the start.

I saw Karen around the 1.5 mile mark and had already laid down 8:15/mi paces. When I saw her she yelled to me: SUB-4......You Got This. I went past her and a few moments later thought: F*CK NO I do not. It was humid beyond belief and the run was hard already. My next split showed 8:5x and I told myself that Endurance Nation says to give 6 miles to the course at :30/mi slower than goal pace and thought: OK you are right where you need to be.

This is when the pity party for myself started. My legs hurt, I was drinking a lot but still did not have the urge to pee and dehydration worry set in. I kept running but the walk breaks at the aid stations felt as if they took forever. When I reached the turn around point in St Anthony's park my watch beeped agin with low battery. F*CK ME. Now what? Pity party kept going and walk breaks took longer and mile splits were in the 10:xx range. I was in a total funk and practically threw in the towel on the idea of breaking four hours.

As I was entering the aid station return in St Anthony's I looked at my watch and it was a black screen. I did not want to take my bike computer out because I was afraid what I might see. I decided it was time for a new strategy:

  • Run 2 miles or to the aid station after 2 miles
  • Pick up water, gatorade and coke then start running again
  • Repeat to yourself: How bad do you want this? Are you willing to suffer for your goals? Are you capable of reaching your goals?

If the answer to that last question was affirmative then keep moving but if it was not then the immediate response would be Susan Manville's words to me at every Ironman race I have done: Man The Fuck Up. Those four words would get me going again.

Around Mile 9 I saw Marni Sumbal and she asked me how I was feeling. Told I had not pee'd, was not sweating and had the chills. I could not tell what my heart rate and I was not happy. She told me to take walk breaks when needed and drink coke/gatorade and tell myself that this was not how I was going to finish the race but only a part of the race.

That little pep talk helped and I was off and running again but this time with sheer determination that I was not going to give up. I got to the end of loop 1 and people were yelling at me that I looked good and had a good pace. I reminded myself that I only had 13 miles to go and to keep moving.

I felt my pace pick up and my strides were purposeful. My aid station stops were very brief and I was passing people left and right. I kept repeating my questions and the Man The Fuck Up mantra. Before I knew it caught up to the President of the club and passed him then another teammate at mile 23 who I did not think I would catch.

My legs were in total pain but I blocked it out because I wanted to break 4 hours but I also had zero clue as to what my time was. As I ran past the last row of spectators and heard positive reinforcement words my pace picked up even more. I turned the corner and another athlete was there and he said to me: Great job. I told him the same, fist bumped him but I was well beyond running past him by the time I yelled out the words. I reached the finisher's chute and lights glared and the spectators hung over the barricades with hands outstretched. I smiled as big as I ever had knowing I just ran the IM marathon of my life.

I crossed the finish line and saw Karen and she yelled you did it. I had no idea what she was talking about because I needed to go to the med tent because I was worried about dehydration.

While sitting in the med tent area I asked her about my run split and the volunteer next to her pulled up my time and told me 3:58 and I yelled, fist pumped and was elated to have finally joined the sub-4 club.

Ironman Florida Finish

CONCLUSION

My overall time at Ironman Florida was 11:27 which puts it as the second fastest IM I have raced. The sub-4 marathon and fastest bike split rank it right at the very top of overall experiences and overall happiness in regards to performance.

Ironman Florida, while considered a terrific race for a first timer, is HARD. It is flat and can be fast but the swim with the current and breakers is tough. Beyond that is the fact that you are going to spend 95% of your time in the aero position and using only one group of muscles because there is no climbing trashes your legs. There is no reprieve on the run either. There is zero shade and with no elevation change you are again only using one group of muscles to power yourself over the 26.2 miles.

VIP and FinisherVIP (Karen), Goat (Jeff) and Myself

Thank you for reading, for your support and encouraging words. This race does not end the way it does without you. Thank you.

Published in Race Reports

By now you have heard that Ironman Maryland was cancelled. My social media feed was filled with sympathy and encouraging words about the training that went into this race along with the disappointment of not being able to leverage the fitness that was accumulated in the days, weeks and months prior.

Having seen events like the NYC marathon and IM Lake Tahoe cancelled I wondered how I would feel if it happened to me. Unfortunately I am now able to know the answer to that and my feelings may surprise you.

Since 2011 I have raced 4 Ironman events and my fifth was going to be my best yet. I created my training program to put me in peak physical and mental condition for October 3rd. I had put times into my notes section of my iPhone but did not share them with anybody as I was about to unleash a fury that I have never had when racing Ironman. This time around I was going to push my envelope closer to the edge.

After I landed at BWI airport I noticed that the weather was not pretty and I wondered if the race would be held as I know this area can flood very easily since it is right on the Chesapeake Bay. About an hour into the drive I received a text message from the President of the FWTti Club I am a member of.

The text simply said: I assume you have heard about the race by now.  It was somewhat ominous but being that I was driving I could not respond or check my phone for other news. When Karen asked to stop so she could get a sandwich I found out about the cancellation.

Published in Race Reports

Last week I read a post on Facebook that mentioned that World Triathlon Corporation should require a 70.3 finish before allowing an athlete to start a 140.6 race. On the surface this seems to make sense but the more I thought about it the more I disagreed with this idea. The statement was made based on the safety of the athlete at the 140.6 distance as it seemed that a lot of people were not prepared for the race of this distance.  While I am in full agreement that it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harry is getting into the sport to just tick a box and say that they finished the distance, I do not begrudge those that just want to race one time and that is all. I get it, triathlon and specifically the 140.6 distance is not for everybody. That being said taking the approach that I just 'need to get through it' is what causes issues on the course for those that are racing the event. In addition to that it is just not safe to take the laissez-faire attitude of a finish is a finish and not train for the event. Again, on the surface the thought process makes sense but for practical reasons this is not truly enforceable. Why? Here are my reasons: • The 70.3 race and the 140.6 race are completely different animals. At a WTC event the 70.3 race is started based on age-groups. This means that you may have up to 400 athletes starting at the same time. At the 140.6 distance, in many of the WTC races, there are 2000-2800 athletes all starting at the same time. The anxiety difference is immense. As an athlete who has started and finished five(5) 70.3 events and four(4) 140.6 events I can tell you that I have no anxiety in the 70.3 event but have been a wreck at the longer distance. • An 'accomplished' athlete may not need or want to race the shorter distance and thus would be eliminated from racing the 140.6 event. Take me for example. I have not raced a Half-Ironman since Puerto Rico in March of 2013 and have no plans on racing one in 2015 either. That means that it will have been two full calendar years PLUS since the last time I raced a 70.3 event and would be forced to race one if this 'rule' were to be enacted.  In my mind having to race a 70.3 can lead to the potential for injury. I have set up my race calendar in 2014 and again in 2015 to have a 100 mile ultra trail race at the start of the year and an Ironman at the end of the year. The 100 Mile race will take approximately one month to recover from and then asking me to jump into a training program to be successful at a 70.3 doesn't add up. If you say that I can just add it to the 140.6 training cycle I will disagree with you. To me, the notion of build/taper/race/recover in the middle of the Ironman training cycle does not add up. I would rather focus for 13 straight weeks with intense training that has the proper recovery built-in than to have to go through the race process for a race that is not important to me. • Who will be in charge of monitoring the 70.3 finishes? For example, if you race a Challenge Family event as a tune-up for a WTC event who manages that? USAT? The organization running the event? If so, couldn't WTC include a provision that states that the qualifying 70.3 has to be one of their events and couldn't Challenge Family do the same? If the race organizations agree that it is ok to have the qualifying race be from another organization then would it not make sense that the 140.6 organization would have to do additional work to confirm that finish meaning a chance for higher entry fees now that there is a process in place to confirm the finish? Are we prepared for the increase in fees for 140.6 events? • Speaking of increased fees. Requiring the 70.3 finish means that the athlete has to be prepared to pay $350 for the race plus additional travel fees, taking time off from work and then paying for another 1 day USAT license if they are not paying for the year. All of this makes an expensive sport all the more expensive and yet there is still no way to prove that finishing a 70.3 is a predictor of success at the 140.6 distance. If there were a direct correlation between the two distances maybe, MAYBE having the finish as a requirement makes sense but to me they are two different races.  In the past year WTC has taken steps to make their events safer for the athletes with rolling swim starts or seeded swim starts.  They have also taken precautions on race day from unforeseen circumstances such as what happened at Ironman Lake Tahoe and Ironman Florida. I believe that there will continue to be changes to the sport as it continues to grow in popularity but I do not think that creating qualifiers that do not have the potential to predict safety or race results is the answer.

What Do You Think About Having A 70.3 Finish As A Qualifier To Start A 140.6 Event?

Published in Race
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 06:55

Triathlon Periodization Training Works For Me

Triathlon periodization traning for Ironman Chattanooga was going to be an experiment on n=1. The reason I phrase it that way is that I was not in a control group, nor were there other examples of triathletes doing the type of training I set out for myself back in June. I did not have a clue as to what would unfold but I did know one thing. I knew that I was burnt out on triathlon. Having trained for and completed 3 Ironman distance races over the course of 12 months I could not take another 6 to 8 month training cycle. It was too much, and while I wanted to be the best I could be on race day I was not going to drive my body and mind into the ground over that long of a period of time. Approximately two years ago my buddies Jeff and Kevin trained 'together' from Texas and Michigan in an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Jeff and I then took that training plan and adjusted it for the Lake Martin 100 Ultra Trail run. Knowing that I did not want to subject myself, or my family, through months of training I adapted that training plans concepts to triathlon with the goal of being ready, fresh and mentally prepared for Ironman Chattanooga. What took place over the 13 weeks of training and 2 weeks of taper has led me to believe that this type of triathlon periodization training is the way to go for me. In addition to not wanting to run myself into the ground over a long period of time I wanted to also focus on the sport I was training for. In my past training cycles I approached it as a triathlete but this time would be different. The triathlon periodization training was to allow me to be a swimmer during a week, a cyclist during a week and a runner during a week. Just as important as those weeks were it was going to be imperative that I become a couch potato in the all important recovery week. [caption id="attachment_9700" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmant periodization training - swim - bike - run Lots of Miles On The Bike[/caption] Triathlon Periodization Training Overview The triathlon periodization training lays out as follows: Week 1: Large bike focus with weekends being the two days that push your mind, body and soul with a long ride on Saturday and a Triple Brick on Sunday. Week 2: Large swim focus with as many open water swims as I could get in but when in the pool focusing on form one or two days and then speed the other days. Week 3: Large run focus with a 20+ mile run on Saturday followed by a mid-teens run on Sunday that also has a recovery swim and bike in it. Week 4: Recovery week. All workouts are to be Z1-Z2 and allow the body to repair. Triathlon Periodization – Cycling Since Ironman Texas 2013 ended I knew that I was going to have to figure out a way to get faster on the bike without compromising my running ability. The idea was to ride as much as I could in one week using the trainer during the week and then getting outside for long rides with the group and then triple bricks the following day on my own. Learning to stay within myself on those long rides was key to being able to push it during the triple brick and having the ability to run on what would not be just tired legs, but exhausted legs. In case you are wondering, a triple brick consists of three brick cycles of bike and run. For me, the triple brick consisted of a 20 mile ride followed by a 4 mile run. I usually did this after having swum a mile in the open water with our group. That open water swim was a great way to get the body warmed up and ready to tackle the triple. I can say that doing a triple after a Saturday ride of 60 or 80 miles is not horrible. Doing it the day after a 120 mile ride is downright torture but I learned so much about staying within myself and running with soreness and tiredness in my legs. What I discovered after the 4th triple brick of this triathlon periodization training was that I could not only run a particular pace for the first portion of the brick but also on the last portion and everything in between. My legs were getting stronger from all the cycling as well as developing an aerobic capacity to go longer. My peak weeks of cycling were in the 250+ mile range while the off weeks were around 100 miles. These peak weeks of cycling were also the weeks where I trained the most in terms of hours with training totaling approximately 20 hours during those weeks. The beauty of this setup is that you have only one 20 hour week once a month and not for an entire month like overload weeks tend to be during traditional Ironman training cycles. Triathlon Periodization – Running While reviewing my goals for Ironman Chattanooga I knew that I was going to have to put in run work to achieve them. I set out to run a sub-4 hour Ironman marathon. Having come close the three times before I knew that this could be accomplished especially with the run base I had acquired during Lake Martin 100 training. My ability to run for a long period of time at a constant pace and heart rate was already established, but what I needed to work on was doing that type of run after having been on a bike for 6 hours and expended energy without replenishing nutrition during a one hour plus swim. What I learned during the Lake Martin training was that nutrition timing was more important than I had realized prior to embarking on that journey. I knew that I had to take in calories but timing it was important so during the runs I had scheduled of 20+ miles during those run heavy weeks I focused more on the calories I was taking in than pace. The priority was calories, heart rate and then pace and the reason for that was because if I was not fueling properly then my heart rate would spike and cause me to slow down thus reducing pace. While long runs were a large portion of the mileage I put in, there was also a focus on speed. I scheduled mile repeats as well as hill work (not nearly enough as it turned out) into my training cycle. The run heavy weeks were going to make or break me, much like when you hit Mile 17 of the Ironman marathon. I was going to be prepared for that moment when the mind wants to quit and I was not going to allow that. Getting up at 4:30am to get in a 10 mile run prior to work and then either running another 4-5 miles at lunch or working all day to come home and finish off those 4-5 miles will put you in the hurt zone mentally but it is very important to learn how to deal with that as it will happen during the Ironman marathon. My heaviest run weeks totaled 65-70 miles while the other weeks were in the 25 mile range. The hours spent during those run heavy weeks were approximately 15 hours. [caption id="attachment_9702" align="alignright" width="285"]ironman periodization training - swim - bike - run - triathlon That Other Is Transitions At Ironman Chattanooga[/caption] Triathlon Periodization – Swimming My goal for the triathlon periodization training during swim weeks was to learn to deal with my anxiety of the open water swim. This meant that I would be heading to the lake as often as possible. Prior to each of the Ironman races there were nerves, but Ironman Texas 2013 proved to be the worst. I had so much anxiety that I practically froze in the water when the canon went off and wound up exiting the swim with a time of 1:48. This put me behind mentally because I was now chasing a goal time instead of letting it chase me. My goal was to finish off these swim focused weeks feeling like Michael Phelps (without the alcohol and pot) and knowing that I was getting stronger. The thought process was that if I felt stronger in the water, then the confidence to swim in the open water would be there. I learned along the way that swimming is not a sport that you can muscle through but instead must be form focused to get the most out of your time, similar to golf. I scheduled weeks were I would swim 20,000 yards. There were days of 5,000 yards in which I would swim 2,500 yards in the morning and then either head to the lake for a 1+ mile swim or another 2,500 yards in the pool after work. The smell of chlorine permeated everything those weeks and I was as shriveled up as a raisin by the time Sunday rolled around but it was well worth it in the end. The Ironman Chattanooga swim is point to point and downstream which worked in my favor but all throughout the swim I would take inventory of my arms (using the railroad track technique), my head placement and where my hips were. Had I not spent so much time in the water during the swim heavy weeks and being exhausted during those weeks from being in the water so much I may not have known what proper technique was and how to adjust and fix any imperfections I was noticing. The heaviest swim weeks finished with between 18,000 and 21,000 yards. The off weeks totaled anywhere between 4,000 and 7,000 yards. The time spent in those heavy weeks was 14-15 hours. Triathlon Periodization – Recovery These weeks were probably the most important of them all. I viewed these weeks as if they were taper weeks where the body would mend, the mind would recover and time away from the sport would re-invigorate my desire to chase the miles. While the hours spent (anywhere between 10 and 13 hours total) may seem like a lot they were mostly spent early in the morning when the sun was still sleeping except for a few Saturday's where getting up early did not matter but rather sleeping in was the focus. The ability to spend time with family and friends, get away from the sport and focus on other tasks allowed for a rekindling of the Ironman finish line and training desire. It cannot be said enough but these weeks were heaven-sent. Triathlon Periodization – Conclusion As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this was an experiment of n=1. As a matter of fact, if asked, I would not recommend this type of training to anybody who is just starting out. I would still encourage them to seek out a coach who will be able to help them structure a training plan that is complimentary of their talents and goals. This type of triathlon periodization training I would suggest to those that have completed one, if not more, 140.6 races. In addition to that if you have trained for and successfully completed a 50 mile or 100 mile ultra trail run then this type of training would not be uncommon to you and could work very well for you in terms of accomplishing the goal of crossing the finish line of a 140.6 mile race. If you have any questions about my training for Ironman Chattanooga please feel free to leave the question in the comment. And if you ask me will I use this again for my next Ironman race the answer is that the training plan has already been created.

Published in Train

 Ironman Chattanooga 2014 is a race that will never be forgotten. The day was ideal, but better than that was the ability to spend the days leading up to the race and then on the course with friends I have been training with for years. I also got to see a lot of cyber friends out on the course and that made the day more magical. Later this week I will post about the course at Ironman Chattanooga but this post will be about how the day unfolded for me in terms of swim, bike and run

. Ironman Chattanooga – Swim

As everybody is aware by now the swim at Ironman Chattanooga is FAST. I am talking about ridiculously fast. The few days leading up to race day there was wonder about water temp. Would it be wetsuit legal or optional? As of Saturday evening the water temp was 77* but I had pretty much made up my mind but was hoping that I would not have to make a decision. When Sunday morning rolled around and I checked Facebook at 4:30am it said the water temp was still 77*. Time to make the final decision! As I sat at the kitchen table of our house I thought about my ranking in the M40-44 Age group and realized that I was not going to finish in a place where Kona was a choice so I went with the wetsuit. When asked why I was wearing one I responded with: I already proved my manhood by not wearing one at Ironman Texas in 2012 and 2013 and this time I am wearing one. At the race site we were bused to the swim start. Standing in line there were a lot of nervous faces but I did not feel nervous. As a matter of fact, my nerves sort of disappeared on Saturday afternoon after checking in my bike and the gear bags. It was as if a weight were lifted off my shoulders that day. Now, at the swim start I felt loose. I put on my wetsuit and walked with my training partners and once we hit the green carpet I started to dance. This was it, this was going to be the day I had trained for. As we got on the manmade 'dock' and I watched athletes prepare to jump in the water and seeming to not know what to do I just jumped in with both feet, literally. I popped up out of the water and started swimming. I could feel the current pushing me downstream and the buoys seemed to be coming up rather quickly. I picked my spot right on the buoys as there seemed to be no traffic there while left and right there were plenty of athletes. I was cruising and counting the numbers on the buoys. From the practice swim I remembered the number 9 so I figured that there were 9 total. As I quickly found out there are 9 yellow buoys (1.2 miles) and 9 orange buoys (1.2 miles) and then the turn to the finish. All along I think I was touched or did touch a total of 5 people. There was next to no contact and I had a very clean line the entire way. When I reached the turn buoy I had no clue what my time was but felt it was around the 1:20 mark which would have been a 10 minute swim PR. As I climbed the stairs to exit the river and looked down at my watch and saw 00:58:XX I could not believe my eyes. This put a spring in my step and I found the closest volunteer to strip my wetsuit off of me. What I did not realize is that the person taking my wetsuit off was not a wetsuit stripper. They were much further down the dock. I ran right past all the people laying down and up the steepest of ramps and into T1.

Transition From Swim To Bike – T1

After grabbing my bike bag I headed toward the changing tent where I stopped without ever going in. All I needed to do was put on my helmet, sunglasses and socks so there was no reason to enter the tent. As I was pulling my socks on a volunteer was walking by and asked if I were done with my swim gear. I told him yes and started to put it into the bag when he told me to not worry about it anymore and with that I took off with my cycling shoes in my hand. The run from the changing tent to my bike was long and I did not want to wear my cycling shoes because of the opportunity to fall down. It was the right move as I ran past a lot of people who were walking gingerly in their shoes. I grabbed my bike and ran toward the downhill slope where the mount line was and finally put on my shoes. A few short steps later and I was on the bike for the 116 mile journey. 

 

Ironman Chattanooga - Bike The Ironman Chattanooga bike course was all the discussion for months. First it was the elevation and then it turned into the extra 4 miles. None of these things we could control so I never put much into them. My worry was more about having a solid bike ride to set me up to break 4 hours at the Ironman marathon. Whatever the elevation or mileage I had to stay within myself. I approached the ride in the same manner as ultra trail running. I would go easy up the hills, recover on the downhills and then stay within myself on the flats. As we left town it felt as if I had a tailwind but I was not sure. What I was sure about was the road conditions. They were like glass except for a few areas. These roads were pristine and I could just feel the wheels rolling with little to no extra effort. I was stunned when I hit the mile 10, 20, 30,40 and so on markers and was faster than 20 mph. Could this be happening? What was my heart rate? What was my effort level? All these things were in check and so I just went with what felt right. On loop 1 what I did notice was a lot of athletes on the side of the road fixing flats. I could not figure out why there were so many, but later found out that there was some sabotage in terms of tacks and oil spills. It is unfortunate that these things happened because the bike course was challenging but fair and did not need to have this throw a monkey wrench into what was a perfect day. On the course I had the fortune of meeting a handful of people who I had met through social media. Having this type of support proved to be invaluable especially when I rode up on two people whom I admire greatly. First I caught up with Drum whom I have been training with for a while now and had the pleasure of racing Ironman Arizona with in 2012. Second, was catching up to KC and was able to seeing her smiling face and hearing that she was feeling awesome. Finishing loop 2 I knew I wanted to back it down a bit to save my legs for the run. I was told that the run was an 8 mile 'easy' loop and a 5 mile 'extremely hilly' loop and if I was going to run sub-4 I needed to back it down and get my legs under me which I did. There is no better feeling than seeing the Bike In sign and knowing that with just a short marathon you are going to cross the finish line. With my feet out of my shoes I handed my bike and helmet to a volunteer and took off for the run gear bag.

Transition From Bike To Swim – T2

Once again, I chose not to go into the tent to change. All I had to do was put on my running shoes (Hoka One One Rapa Nui) and a hat. I grabbed my race belt and as I was heading through the tent asked a volunteer if I could give him my bag and when he said yes I took off. Into T2 and out in just over 2 minutes. Time to FLY as the Hoka shoe says.

Ironman Chattanooga - Run

Nobody talked about the run leading up to race day but when I ran down the soaked mat that was the swim out hill I realized that this was going to be an up and down kind of run. You come down that steep hill and run along the river to a section that just seems to keep going up and up and up. Finally you are in the park where the swim starts and that is flat. This was a blessing but when the miles were ticking off at under 8:30/mi I knew I had to pull back. My goal was to run as far as I could until I needed to walk an aid station. At the same time I was fighting myself in regards to having the strength when miles 21 and 22 came up. It was a battle of the mind and body. Once you come through the park you make a right turn and run alongside a highway. This was a desolate area and it seemed like the aid stations grew further away from each other. This was not a part of the race course that I will recall fondly. It just seemed lonely and it was you, your legs, your mind and nothing else. Just keep moving was my mantra. After that stretch you cross over a bridge and into a community that is brutal. It is a pure beat down with no flat sections and only climbing or descending. At this point I decided I was going to walk the uphills so that I could save my legs for the downhills. At this same time I started to calculate finish times. Could I possibly finish in 11 hours? I had no idea what the marathon time was and I could not be bothered with playing with my watch. It was not worth it to spend energy calculating these things. I took an average of 10:00/mi, considering the hills, and calculated from that particular mile marker to the finish. I started out with 11:01, then 11:02 and then 11:04. It seemed as if the 11 hour Ironman was slipping away and then I met Steven with about 1.2 miles to go. Steven and I ran together the entire last portion of the race. We were in step with each other and chatting the entire time. He motivated me to keep moving. At one point he said to me: I am not going to sprint to the finish. My response: Dude, I AM sprinting right now. As we came down the final hill and into the finisher's chute I could not stop smiling and could not believe that the race was over. The 13 weeks of hard-core periodization training was culminating in a finish line that was as spectacular as any I have crossed. I fist bumped Steven and then crossed. I waited to look at my watch as I wanted the video and pictures to show my face and my smile. Finally, I looked down and pressed the Lap button on my Garmin and saw 11:00:XX. I nearly broke down into tears. I could not believe my eyes and had moments where I surely must have mis-hit my watch buttons and I was not seeing the full-time. I walked with the volunteer and picked up my hat and shirt when I asked her about getting my medal. She responded with: You are wearing it. Right then and there I knew that I left everything I had out on the course.

Ironman Chattanooga Racing- Conclusion

I will blog about my periodization training in a future blog post along with my review of the Ironman Chattanooga race course.  This blog post is about my experience on the course and the weekend and I would be wrong if I did not mention the following: * Thank you to my wife Karen for all that she has done for me.  She believed over a year ago that I could be an 11 hour Ironman and that belief came true on Sunday September 28th. * Thank you to the LTF Crew of The Sherriff, Goat, Dog Bait, Diaper Boy, Drum / PB, Wade, Stick, and Teri.  We trained together all summer long and had more laughs than miles and for that I am truly grateful. * Thank you to my buddies Jeff and Kevin for having followed a training plan that was sport specific two years ago that I could adapt to triathlon training. * Thank you to the friends I have made through social media, especially KC, who I got to meet before the race, on the course and then celebrate with after crossing the finish line. * Thank you to Ironman and the city of Chattanooga for hosting us.

ironman chattanooga - triathlon - race - endurance sports 

Published in Race Reports
Monday, 01 September 2014 14:14

Racing versus Doing An Ironman Or Any Event

Racing Kona This October.....not DOING Kona this October.
Racing.  Just the word alone gets my adrenaline rushing.  I hear the word racing and I think about the work that goes into a successful race and I get excited.  I want to create a plan, execute the plan, push my mind, body and soul past its pre-set limitations so that when race day comes I am ready.  This year I will be racing only twice, which sounds odd, but it is where I have decided to focus my attention.  I already raced the Lake Martin 100 and in four weeks will be racing Ironman Chattanooga. Why am I only racing twice this year?  It is because of what I pointed out in the first paragraph.  I am pushing my mind, body and soul past the limitations that I have set upon myself.  I want to test my physical as well as mental parameters.  I want to know that I can reach those expectations and then blow by them.  How am I doing that?  By focusing purely on racing and not doing. A few weeks ago I was listening to ESPN Radio with Cris Carter talking about his entrance into the NFL Hall of Fame.  His co-host asked him how he got into the Hall of Fame and his response hit me and stuck with me.  He said that he was willing to do what others weren't.  Stay after practice and catch 100 balls.  Stay after practice and work on getting his feet in bounds.  Wake up early before practice and run hills and stadium steps.  Wake up early before practice and study his playbook.  Studying the playbook from other positions in case he needed to help a teammate out or line up in that position due to injury and he wanted to know what to do.  The extra step.  The ability to take what he was given and push himself past that limitation to create a new bar for him to reach for. I have always said that I may not be the fastest or the strongest but there is nobody out there who is going to out work me.  I will push my body until it wants to give up and then I tell it to shut up and keep moving.  I will pack up all my gear the night before so I am ready to go when the alarm sounds and do not hit snooze.  I have a car full of gear so when a friend asks if I want to ride I do not have to think about getting ready as I already am.  When I am out on the road or in the lake  I am thinking to myself that nobody else is up and doing what I am doing.  Nobody else will have something come up in their personal life and adjust their training to get it in but rather they would just blow it off.  Those last two statements aren't 100% true but I would guess that more than 50% of the people training for an Ironman or a 100 Mile Ultra-Trail Marathon would not.  I am willing to go beyond my limitations to achieve MY greatness. This leads me to the question of racing versus doing an Ironman.  When I am asked what is next on my calendar, I respond with:  I am RACING Ironman Chattanooga at the end of September.  The next question is typically: What's after that?  My response?  I am racing Rocky Raccoon 100.  I am not DOING an Ironman.  I think when you have that answer you strip away any chance you have at achieving your greatness.  You are already setting yourself up to just get by. You are going to be the person that skips a workout or doesn't pay attention to proper rest and recovery because your goal is to just do an Ironman.  For me, that is unacceptable.  I am going to pay attention to my sleep patterns, to what/how/when I eat.  I am going to focus on how my training plan is strung together so that I am going to be able to race when the canon goes off.  There are going to be plenty of opportunities on race day to not achieve those goals, but being unprepared is not going to be one of them. I understand that not everybody wants to race and that some will want to check off a bucket list item and I do not hold that against them.  What I think they are doing though is cheating themselves.  What if they went into the event with the idea of racing it?  Maybe they would love it more than the stress of wondering if they are going to make the cut-offs?  Maybe it would have more meaning to them than just saying I did an Ironman.  I know I want to see what greatness I am capable of.  Of course, that greatness is defined by me and not by anybody else. For example, the three levels of greatness I am looking to achieve in the next two races are:

  1. 11:30 finish time at Ironman Chattanooga (PR --> 11:53)
  2. sub-4 Hour Marathon at Ironman Chattanooga (PR --> 4:06)
  3. Sub-24 Hour finish at Rocky Raccoon 100 (PR --> 27:53)

This is how I am determining my greatness and why I will be racing those two events and not merely doing them.  Can you define your greatness by crossing the finish line of these events?  Sure.  The questions you have to ask yourself though is:  did I push myself to get there?  Did I face my fears and chase them down?  Did I do everything in my power to get my toes close to the edge?  I never want to finish a race and think:  I could have done more.  Has that happened?  Yes it has and it has left a sour taste in my mouth.  For example, at LM100 the last 7 miles I completely walked.  Yes my body was tattered and my mind was nothing more than a jumbled mess but sitting here today and for the past few months I reflect on those 7 miles.  I could have run more and finished close to 27 hours.  I could have pushed my body and my mind just a bit more to finish stronger than I did.  That same scenario will not unfold at RR100 at the end of January, especially if I am to hit that sub-24 hour goal. Some will think that I am questioning their goals and that is not my intention.  My question is are you merely going to the starting line to do the race or are you toeing the starting line fully prepared for racing the event?  Pushing yourself so that you have to ask if what you are doing is insane.  I do not care if it is a 5k or an Ironman because we all have different agendas but regardless of distance or type of event are you doing or racing? Racing an Ironman is what I will be doing when I get to Chattanooga but I will not be just doing an Ironman.  My body will ask me to quit and my mind will tell it to shut up.  My mind will question its own sanity when the pain in my legs rockets through to my back, arms and neck but the body will continue to push forward.  Through 11 weeks of training I have fully prepared myself to suffer, but when I am done racing I fully expect to have achieved my own level of greatness.

Are you racing or doing?

Published in Train

Ironman Chattanooga training experiment of n=1 has reached the end of the first three-week cycle.  This week is pure recovery as I allow my body to get stronger as well as prepare to tackle the 2nd three week cycle. If you are new to my blog then you are probably asking yourself what are these cycles he is talking about.  Allow me to clarify for a moment.  Starting with Ironman Texas in 2012 I embarked on training for and racing 3 Ironman races over the course of 12 months.  Of course you do not just jump into an Ironman, you have to train for it.  That means that my focus for nearly 18 months was Ironman.  When I crossed the finish line of the final event, Ironman Texas 2013 I was burned out.  I needed to get away from the sport and do other things. It was then that I rode my bike for nearly 1,600 miles over the course of two months and trained for Rocky Raccoon 50 and Lake Martin 100.  Through those endeavors I came to realize that I am a much better cyclist when I focus mostly on cycling and the same would be true for running.  You learn economies of efficiency when that is your focus and I decided to bring that over to Ironman training. Since I was burned out I also realized that I could not go through 6 months of training.  When I combined the idea of a shortened schedule with sport specific focus I came up with a 13 week plan that has two weeks of taper (15 full weeks leading up to Ironman Chattanooga) in which I would be able to train for an Ironman, be focused and yet still be able to have a conversation with my wife past 8:00pm.  It seemed like a win-win for all.  Was it? The training plan breaks down into 4 week cycles with Week 1 being bike focused, Week 2 focuses on swimming, Week 3 is a run week and week 4 is recover y from it all.  I am in Week 4 so I thought now would be a good time to assess the first three weeks from the training as well as my nutrition and outside life.

Bike –

The first week had a schedule of 264 miles of cycling.  The plan called for 60 miles on Saturday and 60 miles on Sunday with the remaining miles being on the trainer during the week.  Getting on the trainer was not going to just be a recovery spin.  These were doing to be intervals, mile repeats, hills, etc to Sufferfest videos. Mother Nature had other ideas and I finished the week with over 200 miles but what happened on my Sunday long ride gave me a boost of confidence that this plan would work.  During the ride I was told by those in the pack that they could tell the difference between my fitness from two weeks prior and that day.  We managed to average 20 mph over the 60 miles and my heart rate average was 144bpm which is Z2 for me. The run off the bike was also a focus and I did 4 mile brick runs for each ride and with each passing day I got stronger to the point that after that 60 mile ride I ran 4 miles at an 8:12/mi pace at a hear rate of 154bpm which is in the middle of Zone 2.

Swim –

The reason that the second week is swim week is to allow me to recover from the heavy bike week and prepare for the upcoming heavy run week.  This worked to a T and I found that my progress along the way in swimming was unprecedented. I make every attempt to get in open water swim practice as much as possible and through that my swims in the pool have also gotten stronger.  Some background information for thought.  My warm-up pace in the past would have been 1:55-2:00/100 yards.  During this week I noticed that my warm-up pace had gotten down to 1:45-1:50/100 yards.  That would have been a great way to start and end this conversation but the real news is what I noticed during my swim speed sets. In those 18 months of training I may have swam sub-1:40/100 yards a total of 2x.  I did all I could to get that low but it never happened.  During a 2500 yard swim set I did a 500 race set that consisted of (100, 2x50, 4x25, 2x50, 100).  The first 100 I finished in 1:30 and the second I finished in 1:36.  My swimming was becoming more efficient. When I jumped into the lake I found that I was gliding more and not getting gassed when I got to the end of the 0.5 mile loop or even on the return leg.  I began to swim the 1.2 mile loop without a wetsuit in an average of 38 minutes.  My wetsuit 1.2 mile PR is ~38 minutes.  Swimming was getting stronger and the confidence has certainly been built.

Run –

This entire theory was built on the ultra-marathon training that Jeff and I did.  I was running 6 days a week back then and finding that I got stronger as the week went on.  Of course, proper recovery and refueling aided in that and this was something I would carry into this week of running 62 miles. I had weaved in easy runs with speed work as well as a long run.  The terrain would vary as would the paces and by the end of the week I found myself running efficiently and with a lower HR than I expected at the end of this three-week cycle. The speed work I did was on back to back days with 2x4x2 one day and the next day a 3x1 mile repeat.  The 4 miles were to be run at what I project to be my IM tempo pace of 8:30-8:45/mile.  I finished those 4 miles at an average pace of 8:10/mile.  The next day I went out and did those mile repeats on a 1 mile stretch of road, not a track since races aren’t run on the track, at an average pace of 7:00/mile.  Yes, the speed was still there despite all the miles I was logging. The Saturday long run of 23 miles averaged out to a 9:13/mi pace with my heart rate barely out of Zone 1.  I was dehydrated by the end of this run but still managed to feel confident with the way the week had unfolded.

Nutrition –

I started this cycle the day after getting back from vacation.  My weight on the Monday this all started was 152 pounds and a body fat % of 10.8%.  This was the heaviest I had been in forever but it allowed me to enjoy myself and perform a reality check in regards to getting back in shape. As of today I am at 145 pounds with a BF% of 8.5%.  My ideal race weight depending on who you talk to is 144 lbs and 10% body fat.  Now that I am right around that number staying there will be paramount, but not hard. In the past I have maintained my weight through IM training because of all the recovery food you consume and thus losing weight has not been something I have been successful at doing despite trying.

Outside of Triathlon –

On Saturday as I convinced Karen to go get froyo with me I asked her what she thought of the way this plan was unfolding.  How was it impacting her and Chico in terms of me being around, me being irritable and me helping around the house. She responded that the way the plan was unfolding seemed to be working very well.  I was no longer falling asleep on the couch at 8pm.  I was calling her to ask if she wanted to get brunch when training was over instead of focusing on getting in all the naps.  We managed to watch movies, have conversations and the like. At work I find myself more alert and able to handle the responsibilities much better than I did for those 18 months and I am sure my employer is happy, as is my paycheck.

Conclusion –

I am going to withhold the statement that this plan is 100% successful as I still have the months of July and August to go through but so far so good.  The real determining factor will be what unfolds on September 28th at the race but getting there is shaping up to be more enjoyable as well as functional in terms of getting stronger and faster.

Would The Ironman Chattanooga Training Plan Appeal To You?

  [caption id="attachment_9642" align="aligncenter" width="605"]ironman chattanooga training - triathlon - sport focus In order: Bike, Swim, Run weeks followed by overall numbers[/caption]

Published in Train

Cycling was the main focus for the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training and it kicked me in the face.  I struggled more than I expected but I also found out that I can take all those struggles and turn them into victories.  I also learned that the plan I have put together for myself, with its sport specific weeks, proved to be successful. As many of you know I have decided to go without a coach for this next Ironman race.  I have truly enjoyed working with both Claudia and Maria but I needed to hit the reset button while also trying out something new.  In training for the Lake Martin 100 I found out that being sport specific, in terms of training, helped me greatly as I was able to become a better runner and a large part of that was being able to overcome the mental hurdles that would come up. Taking that same approach to triathlon was not easy to do.  For years I have been on the swim 3-4x, bike 3-4x, run 3-4x theory.  That plan seemed to work but in the back of my head I kept wondering if there was something else that could be done.  By changing my routine I have gone outside of the box of triathlon and will be focused on becoming a better cyclist, a better runner and a better swimmer. This past week was Bike Week 1.  My plan was to ride approximately 265 miles while running 24 (all brick runs of 4 miles) and swimming a total of 5000 yards.  I wound up finishing at 80% of my overall plan in terms of hours, but what I noticed at the end of the week was that my cycling was much better than I had expected, and that also translated to faster times running of the bike.  The swimming was nothing more than recovery and to break up the monotony therefore nothing to truly be able to gauge. The cycling wound up at 81% of overall planned time because of a late night meeting on Friday and torrential rain on Sunday that led me to only being able to get through 2 hours on the trainer before the mind decided it had enough.  The majority of the riding in this Bike Week 1 was on the trainer and while I would rather ride outdoors I need to be more efficient with my time. What came out of this week were the following two quotes while on the road with my buddies and these comments not only gave me a confidence boost but also gave me a peek into how well this particular type of training was working for me.

  • Quote 1:  Your fitness on this ride has improved dramatically from the ride we did two weeks ago.
  • Quote 2: Great job on pulling us up that hill at the end of this ride.  I was exhausted but did what I had to do to keep up with you and you did not look like you were struggling.

I cannot tell you if working on the sports instead of triathlon will prove to be the best plan but after a week it looks good.  I was asked why I decided to train this way and my comment back was that as triathletes we are so focused on getting in that number of swim, bike and runs that we lose focus on becoming better at each of the sports.  I think that by being able to focus all your energy on that one sport you will learn to become more efficient and we all know efficiency equals speed. This week is Swim Week 1 with a planned 20,000 yards of swimming over the course of approximately 8 hours.  My running miles will stay about the same, but the number of bike miles drops dramatically this week and will allow my legs to recover as they head into week 3 which is a running week with lots of miles. Can this method be successful?  Only time will tell, but after the first 7 days I feel like a stronger cyclist in comparison to Day 1 which was the main goal of the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training. [caption id="attachment_9619" align="aligncenter" width="300"]cycling - ironman - chattanooga - training 15 hours of workouts with 11 of them in the saddle.
Can sport specific training weeks make me a better triathlete?[/caption]

What Has Been Your Experience With Sport Specific Training?

Have You Done Cycling Specific Week Only In Training For An Ironman?

Published in Train
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