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
Monday, 26 January 2015 13:41

Setting Goals. How Do You Do It?

Setting goals is a topic of conversation that takes place constantly in the endurance world. Make one mention about a race you are doing and the first question is: What is your goal? Participating in endurance sports for the past 8 years I have been setting goals constantly but last night I was asked by Karen what my goals were for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday. It caught me by surprise because I only have one goal. Why any person would be setting goals for one race unless those goals are to finish healthy with a time. If you are asking me about setting goals it is typically about a goal time and for that I can see only one time being set and not multiple times. She made mention of A, B and C goals and as hard as I tried I could not come up with A, B and C goals because my brain works like this: A Goal – the only goal I should have. The only goal I should be reaching for. People refer to this as a stretch goal but I do not understand that. Either I have trained for this time or I have not so setting a 'stretch' goal can only lead to two results:

  1. Failure but with a caveat. The person setting the stretch goal can say: Well I fell short of my stretch goal but……. It is sort of safety net against failure.
  2. Failure with lingering consequences. The person setting a stretch goal that they believe they can achieve can be setting themselves up for a mental beating if they do not come close to this number.

B Goal - This seems to be the most realistic goal when it falls into the scheme of setting A, B and C goals. By setting a B goal a person can say that they accomplished something if they hit this goal but again the question is did you train for this number or did you not train for this number. If you did then, again, this is the only goal that you need. C Goal – This is the everybody gets a trophy mentality. I did not hit the first two goals but I have to feel accomplished so set a THIRD goal and if I hit that I can say that I achieved this goal. Huh? What's the point? I am a competitive person and for me there are only two outcomes: Success or Failure. It is very black and white for me when it comes to racing and so I have one goal and one goal only and sometimes it is not a specific goal. For example, at Ironman Chattanooga my goal was to run a sub-4 hour marathon. I set a 53 minute PR at the Ironman distance and that was a great feeling but I failed to reach the 3:59:59 mark for the marathon and thus I did not achieve my goal. This means that I will be working harder than I did in 2014 when I start Ironman Maryland training because once again the goal for that race will be a sub-4 hour marathon. Back to my goal for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday, I have but one goal to achieve. That goal is to run sub-24 hours. I do not care if it is 19:04 or 23:59:59. I have trained my body and mind to break 24 hours and that is the goal. If somebody were to ask me for a second goal it would be to get home by kickoff of the Super Bowl. Nothing else matters beyond breaking 24 hours. If I fail to break that number then I have failed and when I begin training for Coldwater Rumble 100 in 2016 I will have to work harder so that I can be in a position to break 24 hours. As you can tell I do not look at failure as the end all be all, but rather the start. If I buried my head and took my ball and went home every time I failed then I would not even be attempting these races because I have more failures on my belt than successes. Failure gives me the opportunity to asses and analyze my training and make changes that will help me get stronger. For example, when I trained for Lake Martin 100 I did not include any speed work and just trained in Z1-Z2 the entire 18 weeks and despite the conditions managed to finish in 27:53 despite having a sub-24 hour goal. The Rocky Raccoon 100 training incorporated speed work on a weekly basis along with running on trails plus strength and core training. I also added in flexibility and balance work to help me get stronger so that when the going gets tough and it will my body will not breakdown as quickly as it did a year ago. I do not know what the day will bring when the clock counts down at Rocky Raccoon but I can tell you that I will take every step along that course with one goal and one vision in mind. Break 24 hours and not accept anything else.

What Do You Do When Setting Goals?

Published in Train
Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:37

Running Slower Will Make You Faster. Huh?

If you have been involved in endurance sports long enough you have heard the statement that running slower will make you faster about 1,000,000 times. 999,999 times you have ignored that advice but I am here to tell you that you should not ignore this advice. I am also hear to tell you that it is not that straightforward. I think when people here this statement about running slower they believe that all of their training should be done slower and that magically they will get faster. The fact is that you need variation and slow is definitely one of those variations. For the past 1.5 years I have been running slowly so that I can build up my endurance while also teaching my body to burn fat for fuel which in turn allows me to go longer as evidenced by the finish of the Lake Martin 100 Ultra Run amongst other ultras with distances varying from 31 miles to 50 miles. The training plans that I have put together are a mix of slow days, recovery days (not the same as slow days), trail runs and speed work that is not done on a track. In the rest of this blog post I will highlight various points for what I have done and why I think they have benefited me in becoming faster than I was 5 years ago.

Long Runs On Trails

When I decided to run ultra trail runs I knew that it would be imperative to get on the trails so that I could get used to the change in terrain but I did not realize, until recently, the effect that running trails would have on my speed. When you get on the trail and start running you are 'forced' to slow down in comparison to running on the road but what also happens is that you are more engaged with your core, you are strengthening your ankles and simultaneously doing speed work. How are you doing speed work? No trail is just flat. There are a lot of changes in elevation on a trail so you are doing hill work which is speed work in disguise. Along with that change in elevation you are going to be changing speeds and not on a set workout like 4x1 Mile repeats. This change occurs all the time and thus you are bringing in various muscles that you are not typically using on the road.

Speed Work During Your Mid-Week Long Run

Speed work is often thought of as taking yourself to a track and doing a 1 mile warm-up followed by some sort of repeat whether that is 400, 800, 1 mile and then a cool down. This is a terrific way to get faster but I find it unrealistic for trail or road races unless that marathon you are training for is on a track. Changes in the terrain are going to be all over the course that you run so doing speed work in those conditions will enhance your ability to recall those moments during training while you are racing. One of my favorite workouts is an 8 mile run that includes speed work. I start with a 1 mile warm-up where my pace is approximately 2:00/mi slower than the tempo pace I am going to attempt to execute. After that warm-up I head into 3 sets of 3x2:00/2:00 with 0.5 mile recovery. This means that after the first mile warm-up I go for 2:00 at my goal tempo pace, which is 6:45/mi and then 2:00 at a recovery pace. I do this 3 times which will total 10 minutes. Why not 12 minutes? The reason is that last 2:00 recovery is built into the 0.5 mile recovery pace before I do the next set. After 3 sets of this tempo work I cool down until I hit 8 miles. I have a loop that I run that works perfectly for this so I would suggest you have that type of loop and if it is shorter or longer make that adjustment.

Long Runs At Zone 1 / Zone 1.5 At A Consistent Pace

When I say long runs at Z1-Z1.5 I am referring to road runs that are 15-30 miles. My goal on these long runs is to have the fastest mile and the average pace per mile is within 10 to 15 seconds of each other. I do not want to go out and set records at the beginning and then bonk toward the end. I want to run efficient and effortless for the entire time and when I am done to look at the Strava app to see that the Heart Rate graph and Speed graph are flat regardless of change in terrain. This is a mindset and one that takes time to train but once you are able to conquer this thought process you can run 'forever' and being able to run for long periods of time allows you to teach your body to use fat for fuel and that means carrying less fuel which means that you have less weight on you and eventually you will run faster.

My Evidence That This Is Working

Here is the same loop from January 2014 in comparison to January 2015. You may say that the paces are the same but take a look at the suffer score from Strava. These runs were about a year apart at approximately the same time of the day and yet the suffer score is practically 50% less and that translates to having the run take place in Zone 1 versus Zone 2.5+. Being able to run the same pace with less effort will lead to faster times as I do not burn through glycogen as quickly.

running slower - run faster - training January 2015 - Suffer Score 37running slower - run faster - trainingJanuary 2014 - Suffer Score Of 70

 

On New Year's Day I ran a 20k at a pace of 7:31/mile with over 700 feet of elevation gain and my HR never entered into Zone 4. Approximately 50% was in Zone 2 and the other 50% in Zone 3 which is more evidence that running slower I have improved my running efficiency which has led to faster times for me.

Are You A Believer In Running Slower To Get Faster?

Published in Train
Friday, 06 February 2015 12:13

RR100 Cast Of Characters

RR100 was a tremendously successful race for me, read the race report here, but it never unfolds the way it did without a tremendous amount of support from some key figures. This cast of characters was either on-site or very instrumental in helping me reach the finish line in 19:22 or was there during my training and pushing me to get better as each session passed. There are many people to thank so let's get this cast of characters post (poached from Old Stude) started.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - race - ultra trail

Lead Actress: Pit Crew Chief aka Karen What can I say about Karen that I have not already said? She is the rock to my insanity. PERIOD. For those of you that do not know Karen came into my life as I was getting divorced. It was a hard time in my life as everything seemed to be crashing down all around me, but as Karen is apt to do on a daily basis she puts items and life into perspective. For the past 8 years she has been able to get me to see the forest for the trees and for that I am eternally grateful. On race day Karen's job was to make sure that my crew was ready to go when their time was called but to also make sure that I had everything I needed at the transition area to make sure that I did not spend unnecessary minutes looking for things. Each time I came around to finish a loop she would yell what do you need? Hydration vest fill-up, pancake, shirts, shoes, new watch. It did not matter as she was ready and kept me moving. Karen would send text messages to my pacers on Loops 4 and 5 to find out where I was and how I was doing so she could prepare the transition area for exactly that and nothing more. Of course, after I acted like the Tasmanian Devil in the area she would have to clean it back up and get it squared away for the next loop but she never complained about it.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Oh, just a little run through the woods of Huntsville State Park with Jeff[/caption] Lead Actor: Carrot aka Jeff Irvin I 'met' Jeff nearly 6 years ago and we were both getting our feet wet in endurance sports. At the time he was writing a blog as was I and we commented back and forth and from there our friendship took off. Since then I friendship has continued to grow and if it weren't for Jeff I do not think I would be running these long races. Jeff was the person who said: We should run a 100 mile race. I told him he is nuts but I would do the 50 with him. Before I knew it I was signing up for Lake Martin 100 and cursing him ever since but that never stopped me from signing up for RR100 this year or agreeing to race Bandera 100k three weeks prior or come up with ideas of running Coldwater Rumble 100 in January of 2016. We have even discussed running across the Gobi Desert together. Yeah, he ain't right. All of that being said I rely on Jeff for his analytical ability when it comes to gear, especially when it comes to the bike. I am impatient and do not want to review anything so I let him do the research and then just buy whatever he recommends. He got me running in Hokas and come early March I will be riding with power from the Garmin Vector pedals thanks to him. His friendship has been unwavering and invaluable.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - trail - ultra - race - run

A-Train and the misfit triathletes (Carrot, Baha, D-Rog) at IMTX 2013[/caption] Supporting Actress: A-Train aka Annie Annie is Jeff's Leading Actress (wife) and is my second sister. I cannot count the number of times that Annie and I have laughed at all the stupid stuff that her husband gets me into and how I never seem to say no to him at the same time. Simultaneously, Annie has asked me to look after Jeff at the races we do together since he seems to always end up in the Medical Tent or send me text messages when I am not at the race to ask me questions about Jeff. Her ability to laugh at our stupidity while supporting us is amazing and I thank her for allowing me to be a part of these adventures. If you want a glimpse into Annie's mindset about our friendship I will tell you a quick story about the first time we met. Jeff was racing IMTX in 2011 and I volunteered for the race and Jeff decided, without talking to Annie, to offer me his house to stay at in exchange for watching their pugs. When I showed up at their hotel room to get the garage code/key to the house the following conversation took place: Jeff: Hey Annie, can you give Jason the key and garage code to the house. Annie: This makes total sense. I am handing over my house to a guy my husband met on the internet. Jason: Not only that but he is from New York and is Puerto Rican. Jeff: And he has pugs so it is totally fine. To this day we laugh about that conversation and everything that has taken place since then. Supporting Actors:

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run

Ninja and I before the start of the IDB Trail Run[/caption] Ninja aka Greg: If you read my race report then you know that Greg is a veteran of the RR100 race having finished it himself 3 years ago and then pacing every year since then. Ninja is one of the first people I ever ran a trail with. I met up with him at Cedar Ridge Preserve along with Sherrif as I was preparing for RR50 and LM100. When we were running you could tell he had an easy time on the trails as if he was born to run on them. Since that time until today I have found him to be one of the nicest people I have had the fortune to cross paths with. When I asked for pacers he was the first to respond that he was in and then took the impetus to ask if we all needed to sit down for dinner to discuss strategy. His confidence was very reassuring in the days leading up to the race and then when we were out on the course. The fact that he was open to a Bro Hug after the race was over was just icing on the cake.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Gorilla aka Jeff Bennett: This dude is my kind of crazy. There is not a challenge that has been presented to him that he has run away from. A Marine and a Kona qualifier how has ridden bike on the Tour De France course, run the Boston Marathon in a Gorilla suit, canoed for 61 hours straight and won the Burro race multiple times proves that statement to be true. Jeff was the first person I texted when Lake Martin 100 was over as we were heading back to Texas from Alabama. My message to him was: Consider this your first recruitment letter for RR100. Having paced our friend Raul at Leadville 100 and all of his experience in endurance sports plus his good-natured wit I knew I needed him on the team for the 1st part of Loop 5. It was going to get dark mentally at this point and having him draw stories from all his exploits would be the panacea to this mental downturns. It turned out to be true when Korean Charmin became the topic of choice after the Nature Center Aid Station. More on Korean Charmin in the Outtakes Post that is coming out next week.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail race

Sherrif, Old Stude aka John: I met John through the Wade 70%'ers group I started hanging out and training with in preparation for Ironman Arizona. Since that point, I would say that Sherrif has become one of my biggest inspirations and a person I respect immensely. His nickname Old Stude is not unwarranted as the dude is old but he does not let that stop him from getting better at these events. I look up to John as he does not allow anything to get in the way of him reaching his goals. Being tough regardless of circumstance is something I admire in people and Sherrif has that, but he is also the first person to lend a hand, slap you on the back and congratulate you. He is also not somebody who ACTS tough as evidenced by his finish at Ironman Chattanooga and the look of disbelief that came through his tears. John's ability to push himself inspires me to push myself and I cannot thank him enough for that. The Extras: There are so many other people who were involved in the training of this event that this would go on forever but here are a few: Lee who was willing to run the trails with me every chance he got and I appreciate him for joining me on those early weekend runs through the North Shore Trails of Lake Grapevine. Dog Bait - John was not around a lot but that is because he is retired and can go gallivant around but his message just before the race was beyond supportive and I replayed it over in my mind as the race went on.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race

Drum - Michelle is a fierce of a competitor as you will find but would not know it because there is always a smile on her face.  Through Strava and text messages she sent enormous amounts of support and confidence building encouragement.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run

Goat - Jeff has never met a stranger and is always prepared with a positive word(s) to help you through anything.  His ability to tell me that I am crazy but say it in a good way gave me one good laugh after another not to mention the Peanut M&Ms as fuel before Loop 5.

rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run - race

 

Train Wreck - Marc travels a long ways to come and hang out with our group for training rides and races.  He is willing to help anybody out and when I finally went to run with him in his neck of the woods he returned that by buying me breakfast.  Just the kind of guy that he is.

]rr100 - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - race - run 

 

The RR100 Cast of Characters That Helped Me Reach 19:22

Thank You.

   

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
Sunday, 05 October 2014 17:36

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Course Review

2014 Ironman Chattanooga was supposed to have stories told about the bike and only the bike.  The other two sports, swim and run, were to be add-ons to the event that was going to be remembered as the day that the bike portion of an Ironman nearly buried everybody.  When the 2014 Ironman Chattanooga race was announced it became about the elevation.  How the race was going to have 4,000 feet of elevation per loop for a total of 8,000 and everybody was worried.  Then when that rhetoric died down, WTC officials made a change to the course for safety reasons and it added 4 miles.  All the sudden all the nerves were frayed because we were no longer racing 112 miles and now would be racing 116.  All the worry and all the nerves was everywhere and to the point that I left the 2014 Ironman Chattanooga Facebook page.  This blog post is going to give you an idea about the race course and my thoughts about it.  As you may have guessed by now the race was not about the bike but really about the swim and the run.

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Swim

The swim is point to point and conducted in a fashion that is exactly like Ironman Louisville in which the athletes drop in off of a dock.  There is no mass swim start and that should help athletes with their anxiety on race morning. The temperature of the water at the 2014 Ironman Chattanooga race was 77* which meant that it was wetsuit optional.  Those that chose to wear a wetsuit would have to wait until all those that did not entered the water.  The pros went off at 7:25 which is about 35 minutes later than normal which is due to the late sunrise later in the year and the sun having to peak out over the mountains. The river's current is controlled by the Tennessee Valley water authority and on this day it was moving, although slower than the practice swim the day before.  Trying to predict the flow rate would be pointless and instead focusing on your stroke and getting down the river as fast as you can would be better. Whether you are a strong swimmer or not the current and drop-in start will help alleviate any anxiety and more than likely allow you to PR at the Ironman distance swim. [caption id="attachment_9690" align="aligncenter" width="531"]2014 Ironman Chattanooga - Swim Course - Triathlon Follow the river and avoid the island is all you need to do.[/caption]

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Bike

As I mentioned the rage prior to the start of the 2014 Ironman Chattanooga race was all about the bike.  As it turned out the bike was benign.  There are rollers and a couple of sections in which you had to drop to the small chain ring and spin up but if you did that and recovered on the downhill then stayed within yourself on the flats then this bike course is nothing more than a challenge and not impossible. There are a couple of sections where the turns are tight, like the left onto Hog Jowl Road, and having the ability to handle your bike will come into play.  The bike is a lollipop in which you leave the state of Tennessee and enter Georgia on a straight path.  Once you make the left onto Hog Jowl Road you are heading back and toward the special needs area which is at approximately Mile 52.  A few miles past the special needs area and you are making a left to start loop 2 or a right to head back toward the Ironman Village and where you will enter transition area. The roads on the bike course are extremely smooth with a few spots that are very well-marked but overall there is no need to worry about launching bottles once you are out on the course.  Where you need to concern yourself with these types of things is as you leave transition and then re-enter.  You will go over a few railroad track crossings that can cause bottles to launch if you hit them wrong. Other than the few sharp turns and the few train track scenarios this bike course is challenging but not impossible.  Whatever went up surely went down and there were plenty of flats with which you could regain the speed you may have lost climbing. [caption id="attachment_9689" align="aligncenter" width="531"]2014 Ironman Chattanooga - Bike Course Review - Triathlon The bike course is challenging but fair. Rollers with a few climbs but extremely smooth roads and lots of support.[/caption]

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Run

The 2014 Ironman Chattanooga run is downright nasty.  This was extremely challenging and forced you to consider your racing strategy.  This run course was not one in which you could just let the legs open and go because if you did you would pay for it.  When I discussed the run course I was told that it was 700 feet of elevation gain which is not that bad over 26.2 miles except that the conversation failed to mention that it was 650-700 feet of elevation gain on 13.1 miles and you had to do that twice which amounted to 1300 feet of elevation gain. The run course is split into two loops that you run twice.  The first 8 miles are fairly flat but the next 5 are extremely hilly.  When you leave transition you run 1 mile up a hill and then enter the swim park where you can run and gain a feeling for your legs coming off the bike and the hill.  What is on this portion of the course that I do not understand is an aid station that forces you to make a 90 degree left turn to run for 25 feet and then around a cone and back out for 25 feet where you make another sharp left turn and onto the river path.  I am sure that they could have extended the finish line past where it was 50 feet and avoided this section altogether.  Making athletes make 3 sharp turns on tired legs does not make much sense. When you leave the park you make a right turn onto the shoulder of a highway and it is lonely.  Car going by and nothing to look at until you come up to a bridge where you can see the aquarium.  This is a terrific sight, especially on loop 2, except it does not give you any idea as to what lays before you.  And what lays before you may make some people cry.  The following 5 miles are nothing more than a test of will and strength.  Run the elevation changes wisely and you will get through this without a problem.  Try to muscle through it and you will pay dearly for it on loop 2. The elevation changes are constant here with little to no flat sections.  If you think the downhills will help I suggest you rethink that concept since you will be pounding your quads and knees on the way down before making the right turn to go back up the hill.  That is how the 5 mile section unfolds.  That being said there are people all along the course in this section and the music is playing and the crowd is a huge pick me up. [caption id="attachment_9688" align="aligncenter" width="531"]2014 Ironman Chattanooga - Run Course Review - Triathlon An extremely challenging course on the back side where 5 miles may seem like 10 but the other 8 miles of each loop are very runable.[/caption]

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Race Course Overall Review

I found the 2014 Ironman Chattanooga race course to be challenging but fair.  There were no major sections, other than 3 miles on the run, that you were on your own.  With the staggered swim start there are athletes on the bike course everywhere and chatting is certainly an option.  The run course brings the pain but simultaneously it allows you to strategize and then execute. This race is one that I would recommend to all.  The weather was ideal this time of the year.  The roads on the bike course are like glass.  The swim is downstream and then the marathon brings you a challenge but it is not impossible to conquer. If you have questions about the course beyond what I described please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to answer your questions.   [video width="856" height="480" mp4="http://cooktraineatrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/JasonBahamundi.mp4"][/video]
Published in Race

 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

Lake Martin 100 was the endurance race I signed up for thanks to the urging of Jeff and Dave.  Running a 100 mile race was never even a consideration.  I admired Emily from afar but in reality I thought she was missing a screw.  When Jeff and Dave finally broke my will and I registered for the event it was all systems go.  The training, eating properly, recovering and especially the mindset was all going to be done 100% with no short-cuts. On Wednesday evening I drove to Jeff's house so that we can get up early (4am) and pickup Caroline (our pacer) and Dave and head for Alabama around 5am.  When we arrived at our house for the week we were in awe.  This house was awesome.  Spirits were extremely high.  We were going to run 100 miles and each one of us was prepared.  Except we were not prepared for what would happen Friday into Saturday.  Rain and lots of it came down on Friday (all day) and Saturday (into the late part of the morning.)  I never once thought about how much this rain would change the course. Saturday morning we got up at 4:30am and had breakfast.  I ate two banana and peanut butter sandwiches with coffee.  Driving to the race I was a bit nervous about what was going to unfold.  Luckily for me these guys are a barrel of laughs and that helped take away the edge quite a bit.  We unloaded the car and setup our drop bag section in The Stables.  This race was conducted on a horse farm and The Stables would become the sight for sore eyes over the course of the next 28 hours. We lined up at the starting line and promptly at 6:30am the race was under way.  The first part of the race is straight uphill and right then and there we should have known that the ass kicking we were going to get all day was about to unfold.  You just keep running straight up the driveway and make a left onto as steep of a downhill as the uphill.  Within 5 minutes your quads and your hamstrings have been worked more than one can imagine.  We hit the trail and MUD.  I do not mean a little bit of mud.   I am talking ankle-deep mud.  The kind of mud you are afraid that you will pick your foot up and your shoe will be still in the mud.  This race officially entered crazy world with that. After about a mile into the race we befriended Martin.  A nice Irishman from St. Louis who chatted with us about racing 100 milers.  After a few minutes with him we came across the first of what seemed like 12 stream crossings.  The problem is that the stream was now a river from all the rain.  There was no tip-toeing over the water or looking for rocks.  You had no choice but to go right through it and so we did.  The water came up to our calf and was freezing cold.  Now soaked, cold and facing the idea of 98 more miles of this turned this race into the mental fight of a lifetime. We eventually left Martin and came up on a handful of other racers.  We chatted with them and took GoPro video with them.  It was all so much fun but that may have been the last of the fun as the course continued its soul crushing.  You were either going up the steepest inclines you can imagine, going down the steepest inclines or crossing water.  Very rarely were you able to actually run.  This was not just a physical endurance test but mental.  Nothing about the Lake Martin 100 was going to be easy. Just when you think you have done enough climbing you come to an area labeled Heaven Hill.  It is appropriately named because every step takes you closer to heaven.  You think to yourself:  this has to end soon.  The problem is it doesn't.  It keeps going up.  Of course when you finish you come across the valley and it is gorgeous.  You are above the tree line and can see for miles on end.  This is where the first aid station is.  There is so much food that you could easily spend 30 minutes there just eating. You leave Heaven Hill and run a 5 mile loop.  I say run because there are actual opportunities to let your legs loose.  It is in this section where you are capable of averaging 13:00/mi paces.  You read that right.  If you manage 13:00/mi here you are doing awesome.  At the end of the 5 mile loop you come back to Heaven Hill to check in and grab more food.  The next 5 mile loop is another area where you can run and we made friends here again.  Spoke to people and had the opportunity to laugh about the fact that the first 8 miles almost made us quit. At the end of this 18 mile loop you come back to The Stables.  Here you have access to your drop bag where you can change, eat, sit, etc.  After a few moments here it is back out for the final 7 miles of the first of 4 25 mile loops that creates the Lake Martin 100.  The 7 mile loop is just as crushing as the first 8 miles.  We were told that the 7 mile loop would be fairly easy.  The problem is that this information came from a billy-goat or somebody who likes to take pleasure in other's suffering.  Out of The Stables you walk for nearly 0.5 miles UPHILL.  You get onto the trail and it is a whip.  Again, more up and down with more mud.  More suffering and less laughing.  This race was going to test you every step of the way. When we finished the entire 25 mile loop in 5:39 I was surprised.  I could not believe that we managed to finish the 25 miles let alone in a time that I considered respectable.  I had plans of racing the first 25 miles at a 12:00/mi pace and we finished in 13:36.  The 22 hour and 30 minute goal was out the window.  There was no chance that was happening.  Time to head out for Loop 2.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 2 Highlights:

As we started running I noticed that Dave was not looking good.  We were chatting and he said to me that he was getting a bit light-headed.  This was not a good sign this early into the race.  I became worried and wanted to make sure that nothing happened to him along with keeping us moving forward. Near the same time I noticed that Jeff was going through the course very gingerly.  His legs just did not want to move it seemed. I kept my mouth shut because I did not want to add any stress to these guys considering how stressful this race already was. Probably 3 miles into the 2nd loop I left both Jeff and Dave.  My legs were feeling great and I was ready to keep moving.  I had told Dave that the last thing I wanted to do was spend all night out there.  The idea of racing and seeing the sun go down and then come back up was terrifying to me so I took off. When I reached the Heaven Hill aid station I ran into Gordon and it was a sight for sore eyes.  The moment I saw him my smile got huge and I gave him a big hug.  A familiar face was needed after getting my ass kicked for the previous 8 miles.  I hung with Gordon for about 10 minutes waiting for Jeff and Dave before taking off again.  It was at that moment that I knew they were not going to finish this race and I would be taking this on by myself.  As I came into The Stables I saw Caroline and we chatted.  She told me that the guys had texted her and were concerned about making the cut-off.  I left and set-out for the next 7 mile loop knowing I would see them when I got back.  I took my phone out and texted my wife to tell her that I loved her and that she was a main inspiration for me.  It was tough knowing that the guys were not going to be coming out with me.  My mind had to turn to steel and not allow me to give up. As I came into The Stables to end the 50 miles I looked at the time and I had been on the course for 12 hours.  For some comparison, Jeff and I did Rocky Raccoon 50 in under 9 hours.  This race was that hard.  To have a difference of 3 hours tells you how difficult the course was.  The crazy thing is I am in better shape today than in early February and could barely manage a 14:30/mi pace.  When I saw the guys in The Stables we chatted and they told me they were not going back out.  I felt defeated but knew that I had to finish this race for them.  I grabbed my headlamp and maglite because I knew it would turn dark while out on the course.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 3 Highlights:

About an hour into Loop 3 it got dark.  I stopped running and got my headlamp out along with the light.  I still felt really good and was able to run.  The biggest issue was the mental aspect of now being in the dark.  This got to me quite a bit.  I had to start thinking of things that would allow me to keep moving forward.

  • Susan Lacke and her MTFU mantra.
  • Emily and her SIUB mantra.
  • Knowing that at the end of the 68 miles I would pick up Caroline and have a partner to run with for 25 miles.

My body felt decent considering the lack of sleep and the physical toll I was taking.  It was during this section that I ran into Anastasia and Crystal.  They were awesome to chat with in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.  They asked me if it were my first 100 and how I felt.  I told them I felt great and that I was going to finish this race.  They gave me the most positive encouragement and I held onto that for the rest of the race. During the night you have next to no visibility and the climbs that you knew you were coming upon during the light were no longer that obvious.  You were able to run when out of the woods but while inside the trees you could not really figure it out and had to walk when you felt your Achilles and hamstring get tight.  That was the clue to the idea that you were going uphill. As I took another step I kept telling myself that I just needed to finish the 18 miles to get to Caroline.  Just keep focusing on the goal for this loop was my mantra.  As I managed my way around the course hoping to not get hurt and just finishing.  At this point time to finish became irrelevant.  Finishing became the only goal. Upon entering The Stables I saw Caroline and then moved to the bag drop section where Jeff and Dave were.  These guys were so supportive.  They gave me so much encouragement and made me feel that I could easily do this.  Caroline and I left for the next 7 miles of the third loop.  Because of how hard this section is there was not a lot of running but having company was awesome. When we finished Loop 3 I took the time to change socks and put the Hoka One One Mafate back on my feet.  I used all three pair of Hoka I brought with me.  I started with the Mafate then switched to the Stinson and then the Bondi for the first three loops.  Every one of them was covered in mud and weighed far more than they should have because of all the water that they absorbed.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 4 Highlights:

The final loop of the Lake Martin 100 was not going to be a pretty sight.  I was exhausted beyond belief.  My body was sore and my mind was questioning my own sanity.  I had not gone into delirium but I was not all there.  This final loop became nothing but survival. Caroline kept pushing me and encouraging me to keep moving.  We came across Anastasia and Crystal throughout much of this loop.  We were moving between places 3 and 6 as there was another runner out there with us.  I kept thinking that finishing in the Top 3 in my first 100 mile would be a hell of an accomplishment. We reached a section that is road and as I was walking I could feel my eyes closing.  I would take 3-4 steps while sleeping on my feet.  Once I opened my eyes to catch where I was I would close them again.  The sleep walking was helping me as I moved through the easier part of the course. When Caroline and I reached The Stables it was fully light out.  Since the last 7 miles was going to be nothing but walking there was not a need for Caroline to join me.  I went out without a Garmin and just planned on walking.  My legs were stiff and sore.  My feet were a shredded mess and every step hurt.  This was not going to be pretty. I had a short conversation with Karen in my head about getting through this and focusing on getting in before the 28 hour mark.  As each step went by and I got closer to the finish line I was overcome with joy.  This 100 mile run was not as much physical as it was mental.  The first 8 and the last 7 miles were the toughest miles I have ever covered.  When you add up the distance that is 60 miles of soul crushing activity.  Regardless of sport or time in a race these 60 miles were bordering on the impossible. As I came down the final hill and saw the The Stables in the distance I pumped my fist and started to cry a bit at the enormity of the accomplishment.  I had goals before the gun went off.  Throughout the race the goals were a moving target.  I managed to hit each of those targets and after nearly 28 hours I can say: Lake Martin 100  ….. I Finished! [flagallery gid=27]

** If you want the R rated version just contact me.

Published in Race Reports
Fashion is not one of the qualities that the Hoka One One brings to the party but they certainly bring consistency.  In the grand scheme of things isn't that what we should be aiming for?  Form rather than how good we look as we shuffle around the marathon course at the end of an Ironman because we were not recovered enough to get our training in?  In the most recent past, I have written two blog post reviews for Hoka One One that you can read here and here and the comments were somewhat shocking, but they really shouldn't have been. When Jeff, Kevin and Karen started wearing the Hoka shoe and screaming at me how awesome they were, how awesome they were at allowing me to feel recovered enough to run more and more I laughed. As a matter of fact I called them moon shoes and made a vow that I would never run in them.  True to my word I never did put a pair of these shoes on my feet despite the gallery hollering at me to get a pair and a box of said shoes showing up at my front door on a routine basis.  No way am I ever going to wear that.  How is that going to LOOK?  What kind of fashion statement am I making by wearing these clown shoes? [caption id="attachment_9511" align="aligncenter" width="600"]fashion - hoka - trail running Source: Hoka One One AUS[/caption] Oh, how times have changed.  When Rocky Raccoon 50 training started back on November 25th I did not own a pair.  I was going from riding my bike for 1550 miles over September and October to running miles and miles.  That first week I ran 50 miles (previous week was about 27 - take that 10% increase) but I quickly realized that running 50 miles on a weekly basis was going to take a huge toll on my legs, from my ankles to my hips.  Eventually, that would lead to a breakdown mentally as the idea of running in soreness and pain would be too much.  I ran in the Hoka Mafate first on December 5th and then again on the 11th.  The days then started stringing together and I ordered a second pair.  Before I knew it I was ordering a 3rd pair and now I am like a ravenous dog in front of a piece of meat when I see the shoes on clearance at Running Warehouse.  I am clicking and clicking and putting in discount codes and self-high fiving when the receipt is emailed to me. Once I got past the idea of being a fashion fool and realizing that in order to achieve my goals as an endurance junkie that fashion just did not matter.  My mind and body want to do great things like run across the Gobi Desert but in order to do that I need to train.  Not just train, but train vigorously and keep pushing myself.  For this to occur I need to go out on a regular basis and run and run and run.  For this to take place my fashion sense is best left to what I am wearing to the office and strapping those maximalist shoes to my feet and enjoying the pillow goodness that the Hoka offers. As a matter of fact, it would seem that many people are realizing this as companies like Brooks and New Balance have entered the maximalist market.  Maybe the fact that these shoes seem 'cool' coming from those brands will help them sell and allow people to realize that in order to reach their endurance goals they have to be consistent in their training.  One way to be consistent is to not fall victim to the 'I do not want to run because I am sore' excuse.  Hoka and any other maximalist shoe that comes out is not the end all be all but they sure are a great start. [caption id="attachment_9510" align="alignright" width="300"]fashion - belt buckle - lake martin Source: Lake Martin 100 Mile[/caption] Looking back at my training log I have run 932.29 miles since the start of Lake Martin 100 training.  I can tell you that not one day did I not want to run because my legs were hurting too bad.  Yes there were days of soreness, or days of lack of sleep but nothing from an injury stand point that would keep me from tying my laces and heading out the door.  When the 100 mile endurance event is over I will have accumulated approximately 1100 miles and I will cross the finish line with my arms up thanking my wife, my training and race partners but there will also be a special thank you to the Hoka because in this case consistency will have triumphed over fashion. Let me correct myself.  Form will have led to fashion when I am sporting that belt buckle.

Has The Hoka Lack of Fashion Prevented You From Buying A Pair?

    * Cover Photo Credit: Run Blogger
Published in Train
Monday, 17 February 2014 08:48

Ironman Training Recap - Week 15

Ironman training is a beat down.  All the mornings of waking up before the sun and chickens and sometimes getting done with a workout after the sun has settled in for the night.  It is repetitive.  It is exhausting.  It is soul crushing.  It is awesome.  When you realize that these things are not going to kill you then you begin to embrace them.  You look forward to the wake-up call.  You look forward to meeting your tri-buddies at the crack of dawn to ride your bike for 3-4 hours or run 1-2 hours.  You relish that trip to the diner or cafe for the post-workout meal and to laugh despite the pain and smell that emanates from your body.  This is Ironman training.  This is a recap of Week 15 for IMTN training for KC and I.

KC's Week 15 - Ironman Training Recap

ironman training - IMTN - triathlonTime is of the essence lately it seems. Prioritizing is the key to weeks like this and that's exactly what I did. Lots of work but despite that minor inconvenience, I was able to fit in the training. This week I opted to end my biking a century streak. So it ended at 6 centuries in a row to start the year off right. I thought I'd be a little bummed about it but I'm not. While my foot healed, I got a good boost on the bike, so all was not lost. Speaking of my foot, the left one to be exact, the one that had given me issues recently, acted up again earlier in the week. Upon inspection, I realized there was something dark lodged deep in the skin right near my big toe ...and it HURT! I waited until I got home from work to mess with it. As you know, I am a WebMD doctor, so I pull out all of my surgical tools, sterilize them and get to performing surgery right away. It hurt but I ended up digging something dark out of the abyss I had just created. Not sure I got it all but that's all I could handle without making myself pass out. I bandaged it all up and left it alone for a few days. It does feel better but I don't think surgery was complete, so I may need to go back in. I was able to run the last 3 days in a row and not to shabby a pace either, so I'm hopeful that I got most of whatever it was that was causing the foot pain.
These last few weeks have felt like limbo. I'm dying to get back to the pool already. I may disobey the piercer's orders and hit the pool in week 5. I love my running, biking and Xfit but I need my swim back. There is something calming and peaceful about it and I think that's what I miss the most. I need it back now more than ever. Bring on week 16 ...
Upward and Onward!
ironman training - priorities - triathlon

Jason's Ironman Training - Week 15 Recap

ironman training - IMTN - triathlon - training peaks While I did not perform any surgery on myself my body is in pure recovery stage and I have contemplated replacing my IT band with one of those bands that they use on the Bowflex machine.  If you read my Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra race recap you will remember that I slammed my leg on a root or rock and it sent a jolt up my leg and specifically through my IT Band. While I took Monday and Tuesday off completely I went out Wednesday with the hopes that my legs would feel refreshed, as much as possible, having been off of them for a total of 3 days.  The run started out well but half-way through the 5 miler I felt like I just could not move another inch.  My heart rate was extremely high for a run that as at a 9:30/mi pace.  This told me I was not recovered and when I finished the run I thought about bagging the rest of the week.  Of course that did not happen and I went back out Thursday and while the run felt better and I was able to put in 6 miles at a faster pace I was not fully recovered and took Friday off. Saturday rolled around and a 'heat' wave had hit the area.  I started my 14 mile run and it was slow and again with a high HR.  I was getting frustrated and when the run was over that frustration was now unbearable as walking became a chore.  Aches and pains everywhere.  I woke up Sunday ready to get a run in but also knew that if the pain was there the 12 miler would become a 6 miler or a 3 miler or less.  I am not going to take many chances with this especially with the Lake Martin 100 coming up.  As it turns out the first 3-4 miles of the run were horrible and I considered bagging it when my legs responded.  I was able to run and after 6 miles I opened it up a bit while still maintaining a Z1-Z2 HR and managed to knock off 6 miles with ease.  The rest of the day Sunday was great because I had no pain or issues in my legs.  Success.  Chiropractor visits and stretching are on the agenda and I plan to follow-thru on the stretching this time.
 
Published in Train
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