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

Open water swimming has become the go to for my training lately.  In large part I am doing open water swimming as a way to recover from the Lake Martin 100, but at the same time I need to improve in this facet of triathlon otherwise Ironman Chattanooga is going to take longer than it should.  In the past training cycles for Ironman races I have swum every Friday with members of the FWTri Club.  This training was extremely helpful when it comes to not just getting into the open water but also in dealing with panic attacks, which I seem to suffer from at the start of these triathlon. Last week I was a part of two open water swimming meet-ups and had another one this morning.  While having my face buried into the cold water that is both Lake Grapevine and Lake Benbrook I found myself truly focusing on form.  I took stock of where my head was along with where I was pulling from.  I would also ensure that I was swimming with a high elbow.  All of this was being done so that I was getting the full benefit of open water swimming so early in the season. These last two weeks were the first times I was in the lakes of North Texas since September of last year.  This is exactly why I would make the obvious statement that open water swimming is not like riding a bike.  The cliché that it is like riding a bike is because one a skill is learned it is not forgotten.  I can attest to the fact that open water swimming is NOTHING LIKE RIDING A BIKE.  There are so many differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in the open water that not jumping into the lake can certainly lead one to forgetting that skill. During the different open water swimming sessions I noticed the following 3 items which I will have to work on during the lead up to IMTN:

  1. Counting Strokes: In the pool you can play 'golf' and try to lengthen your stroke and be more efficient.  Unfortunately, for me, in the open water there is no wall and so counting strokes becomes even more imperative to setting a rhythm.  Ensuring that I am swimming on a rhythm will help me know when to look up to sight.
  2. Bi-Lateral Breathing: In the pool while swimming I can breathe to both sides but the moment I get into the lake that skill goes out the window and I do not even attempt to breathe to both sides.  Not having this skill in the open water leads to a more difficult time sighting for me as well as making the loop we do always seem longer on the way out and shorter on the way in.  Balancing my breathing will allow me to balance out the feeling of 'WHERE AM I?' while in the water.
  3. Pool Endurance and Open Water Swimming Endurance: Not the same……Swimming in the pool you have the wall to break up the monotony but also to give you a break.  If you swim a 100 yard or meter set fast you typically take a break and then go again.  The endurance that you are working on is not exactly the same and so getting used to pacing in the lake is something that I am working on.  I always feel great the moment I hit start on my watch and then 400 to 500 meters in I am looking for the lifeguard.  Starting out a tad slower and allowing myself to build up the endurance needs to be a focus.

Yes, open water swimming is not like riding a bike at all.  It is also not like swimming in a pool and it in itself a skill that has to be developed then sharpened with repeated trips to the lake.  In order for me to get more efficient at swimming I have to make a concerted effort to get to the lake when the OWS Swim Club decides it is time to go.  As of right now we are planning every Friday morning at 6:30am and maybe if we get a wild hair going on other days as well, but time will tell there. Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook   At the ver least the spots were my open water swimming training takes place are at least gorgeous.  

Published in Train
Keeping it simple this week for Ironman Chattanoog training blog challenge with KC and I.  

KC's Week 17 Ironman Training Words.

pictures - ironman training - triathlon


pictures - ironman training - triathlon    

Jason's Week 17 Ironman Training Words.

  pictures - ironman training - triathlon       pictures - ironman training - triathlon    
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9454" align="alignright" width="225"]numbers - endurance sports - meaning Is this a number that has meaning?[/caption] Numbers are a large part of endurance sports as well as my professional life.  I spend day in and day out dealing with numbers.  In the morning I am running and maintaining a heart rate within a specific numbers range.  When I enter the office I become a professor of marketing and calculate spending, return on investment, share of voice and a whole host of numbers that convey a meaning to my clients and myself.  This past week all of these numbers, specifically endurance sports numbers, were thrown at me and made me tilt my head to think the way that my pug, Ginga, does. The numbers that were thrown my way were 9 and 10.  In two separate conversations the following took place:
  • You broke 9 hours at your first 50 mile race.  Do you feel like a badass?
  • Hey man, congrats on breaking 10 hours on your first 50.  Impressive.
The two statements gave me pause.  Maybe for the first time in my life I didn't puff out my chest and say:  Why yes, I am a badass!!!  I thought to myself and then asked why is 9 hours a holy grail?  I do not consider myself a badass because the guys that went past me at miles 45 through 48 and finished 20 minutes ahead of me are badass.  The guy that was cascading down the hills like a jungle cat…..he is badass!  Me, I'm just a dude running his first ultra trying to figure out how this all fits into my life. When the second statement came I was truly thrown for a loop.  The person giving me the congratulations on the pre-10 hour finish is somebody I look up to in endurance sports.  A person who has qualified for both Kona and Boston.  Has run with donkey's in Mexico.  Crewed for friends and Leadville 100.  The kind of endurance athlete I want to be when I grow up, yet his numbers made me think why 10 hours?  Why did he not say 11 or 12?  Why was this his mystical number? [caption id="attachment_9455" align="alignright" width="300"]numbers - endurance sports - meaning Source: RunTri Even the median is nowhere near 12 hours.[/caption] I am going to go back to Ironman for a moment to talk about numbers in that sport as well.  I finished my first Ironman race in just under 12 hours and the pats on the back were accompanied by the words:  great job getting in under 12 hours.  I thanked them and thought that it was a great accomplishment.  I then did it again at Ironman Arizona and fell short of that line in the sand at Ironman Texas 2013 yet that is the race I am most proud of.  At IMTX in 2013 I battled panic attacks in the water and finished that portion is 1:48 which is extremely slow in comparison to the 1:30 I did previously.  The heat took over and with temps in the 100+ range I managed to run the 15th fastest marathon of the M40-44 Age Group yet my overall time was 12:03:58.  Running as fast a marathon as I did held more importance than the overall time of 12:04 but I ask why?  Is it because I did not break 12 hours and then again, why is 12 hours the fictional hour mark that sets people apart? I started to research average times for 50 mile ultra trail marathons and stopped almost as quick as I started because the numbers I see in another race mean nothing in comparison to the race held on February 8, 2014.  Only that day can be compared to itself.  On that day I ran 8:53:52 and finished tied for 44th with Jeff out of a total of 322 that started and 288 that finished (89% finish rate) but there were well over 400 that registered so nearly 100 did not start the race.  Where do you define the numbers?  44 out of 322 or 44 out of 288?  Besides that what makes the 9 hours the line of demarcation? Being recognized for achievements, big or small, matters to me especially when the two quotes above are from your wife and a good friend.  That being said I want those numbers to mean something.  Can they mean something to more than just me?  Is there a way to universally define what is a defining time for endurance events?  Can we grade the courses on the days that they are races so that we level the playing field and allow the numbers to mean something?  Or is it because they cannot be compared and conversation and debate can ensue allow those numbers to continue to be applied at the presenters discretion?

Why Do You Think The Numbers 9/10 or 12 Mean Anything?

Published in Race
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 08:32

IMTN Blog Challenge Week #14 Training Recap

So here we are at the start of Week 15 of this IMTN Blog Challenge and over the past 14 weeks you have seen how KC and I have managed to meander around the training world with our eyes on different prizes.  This week brought the realization of a race for KC on March 22nd and the end of the 11 week training cycle for Rocky Raccoon 50 for me.  Here are our Week 14 stories:

KC's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge Recap

I like to call these last 14 weeks foundation building kind of weeks. My next race is a 70.3 on March 22, and although it is not what I would label an A race and I have not been following a specific training plan this time around, I do feel that my base is super strong and that when race day arrives, I will be more than ready to go and do very well. I had a good week overall. The only thing I would have liked to have done was 1 more day of Xfit but I will try to fit that extra day in this week for sure. I’m super stoked I got my 6th century of the year done today. The hub’s asked me how long I planned on keeping up this century a week streak. My answer, “I don’t know.” I’m enjoying it a lot. Today’s century was 60/40. 60 miles outside and 40 inside. Still can’t ever imagine doing a century all indoors. I would probably die. There’s only so much netflix and iheart radio I can listen to, then I begin to shut down. That’s the beauty of Florida living. There’s no need to ride a long ride indoors. For the most part, year round, we can ride outside. For the record, I will NEVER, EVER move to a state where it snows. I like my sunshine and warmth way too much. One last thing, big props to my Texas friends, Jason and Jeff who did the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile trail run. It was Jason’s first and I think it was Jeff’s 2nd time. Way to go guys! On to week 15! Upward and Onward! [caption id="attachment_9437" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMTN Blog Challenge KC's Week 14 Training[/caption]

Jason's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge

There is not a lot for me to recap as this week was a super taper week with a total of 14 miles run until race day when Jeff and I went for 50.  There was a lot of lying around and doing everything I could to avoid eating.  Luckily for me there was a lot going on with work as my team continues to grow and develop long-lasting relationships with clients that will allow us to market them in a much more efficient manner. Rather than bore you with all the details of the race in this blog section I will refer you to the race recap for Rocky Raccoon and alert you to the fact that there will be two more pieces to go in this race recap along with an eating/nutrition blog post I have been asked to write for No Meat Athlete. [caption id="attachment_9418" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMTN Blog Challenge At the drop bag station before heading out on loop 3.[/caption]
Published in Train
As you may know I am racing Rocky Raccoon 50 this coming weekend and that race along with the Rocky Raccoon 100 last weekend made me think about qualifying times for these races.  Really it was about cut-off times which lead to the thoughts about qualifying times.  Anybody who is involved in endurance sports knows that there is a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon and the Ironman World Championships in Kona, but what about having qualifying times for other races.  Would you run in a race that required you to qualify somewhere else?

Bear with me as I explain this and then give me your opinion about qualifying times.

The cut-off time for a 100 mile ultra is typically 30 hours while the time for a 50 is 15 hours.  When you think about these times in a per mile pace they are quite generous as is the 17 hour time limit for an Ironman, which I have written about here.  For example, the per mile pace for a 100 or a 50 with those cut-offs is 18:00.  That does not seem daunting does it?  Seems quite feasible to make it across the finish line at that pace.  Of course, this does not take into effect the terrain, weather or other factors but all things being equal this seems quite doable yet people are not finishing these races in these times and are getting pulled off of courses.  This past weekend the DNF rate for the RR100 was ~57% so I have  been told.  That is high and there are going to be a myriad of reasons why.  Weather certainly played a role but what about the person that is just not ready for this type of event? Would a qualifying times system of races prevent the 57% DNF rate?  I do not know but it couldn't hurt.  It also couldn't hurt to protect people from themselves.  I understand that there is no fail safe built into this idea and not every variable can be addressed but there could be a system that works for people. Let's say a race organization decides it wants to only conduct half-marathon or greater distance events.  In order to register for the half-marathon distance you must have completed a 15k in XX:XX.  I do not know what that is so let's just assume it is 2 hours which is a 12:54 per mile pace.  Now on the course the cut-off for the 13.1 miles is 3 hours which is a pace of 13:44 per mile.  Not impossible by any means but would you do it?  Would you register for this race if you knew that you would be close? Let's take another example.  In order to register for a 50 mile or 100 mile race you had to have done a 50k with a time of 8 hours and 30 minutes or a pace of 16:27 per mile.  If the cut-off for the 50 mile race is 15 hours and you could run the 50k in 8:30 then you should have no problem getting to that finish line in time.  The same can be said for the 100 mile race.  Would this make these races a sort of elite racing organization? [caption id="attachment_9409" align="alignright" width="276"]qualifying times - marathon - triathlon - endurance sports Ironman World Championships - Kona[/caption] The organization would not be built to eliminate anybody from doing it but it would certainly create a system in which the bucket list person, who has no desire to train thoroughly enough, was forced to think twice before registering.  It may also save them from themselves.  If you are on a 100 mile race course for 30 hours that means that you are most likely awake for nearly 32-34 hours straight which just cannot be good for your system.  You are stressing the body in an unsustainable way by not completing the 100 mile race in 30 hours and a system like this may just save that person from long-term harm. I know people are going to say that everybody should have a chance to race and I do agree with that which is why I am saying that it would be one race organization and not every single race.  This would allow anybody who wanted to cross half-marathon off of their list of things to do to be able to do just that, but it would also give those who wanted to race a race that did not have tens of thousands of people who had no desire to push themselves to the limit be standing at the starting line as well.  And before you say that people are pushing themselves remember that a recent article in the Wall Street Journal of half-marathon and marathon times shows that runners are getting slower. I know for me that this would be enticing.  An opportunity to qualify for a race that only allowed a certain few in and those few were the fastest on the day they raced.  I have been at the starting line of the Las Vegas marathon in what seemed like a race only to come across people who had no business to be at the front of the start of the half-marathon be in the way when we merged. By in the way I mean walking before Mile 1 and be in the marathon lane.  It was frustrating and maddening for me when I wanted to run as fast and as hard as I could to have people who seemed more intent on looking at the fountains of the Bellagio than to be racing be in my way.  I worked my ass off for that race and the people sauntering along did not seem to care about their finish time or the race in general and were just happy to be in Las Vegas. Let's also talk about the sense of accomplishment.  If you wanted to race that marathon from XYZ Race Company but knew that you had to finish a half-marathon in 3 hours but kept falling just short wouldn't that sense of accomplishment be amazing when you did cross in 2:59?  The person that is finishing the half-marathon in 3 hours is going to have a hard time qualifying for the Boston Marathon but having qualifying times for a race series may give them that sense of accomplishment.  From the marathon finish they may decide to work just a little bit more to compete in the 50k and then the 50 and 100 mile races. For triathon a similar series of events could take place with athletes having to qualify at the sprint distance in order to race the Olymic distance and then 'graduate' to the Half-Ironman and eventually Ironman.  If they are 'crazy' enough (I use that term lightly) to go for a double or triple Iron distance event then the race director will want to know that they finished an Ironman in 15 hours (making it up!)  The opportunity to continue to grow in the sport just makes too much sense to me.  Maybe because it is my idea…..who knows.

What are your thoughts on qualifying times?

Published in Race
IMTN or Ironman Chattanooga challenge has entered week 14 which means that lucky week 13 has passed.  The week brought about separate challenges for KC and I and that proves that no one training cycle is ever going to be perfect.  It also goes to show you that you cannot compare yourself to anybody else while training for an Ironman because while the paths may meet on race day they certainly take their own turns and twists on the way there.  Week 13 In Review.

KC's Lucky Week 13 Challenges And Solutions

[caption id="attachment_9395" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Tackle The Challenge Head On.....Then end the week with a 100 mile bike ride![/caption] This week was interesting in that I had to play a smart time management game. Work is notoriously crazy the first 3-4 months of the year, then it stays busy but settles down with a few ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the year. Anyway ...what I'm trying to say is that there are no excuses. If you  want something bad enough, you will make the time to get it done, no matter what. Needless to say, I worked 6 days this week and about 11 hours of overtime, yet, I still managed to get all of my training in and then some. I snuck an extra day of Xfit in (yay me!). It's pretty simple, I make sure I have several sets of workout clothing with me, toiletries, extra food, and I'm good to go. Thankfully, we have an AWESOME gym set up at work, so I can go down whenever and get an awesome workout in, shower, then get back to work.
I'm still going strong on the century streak. I did my 5th century today, so that is 5 for 5 ...hell yeah!
Other than that, still tame on the training front. Next week looks much the same. I can't believe I'm saying this but I sure do miss swimming! BUT, I have to stay clear of any infection causing bodies of water for another 3 weeks ...meh! I'm ready to hit the pool that's for sure.
That's all I got for ya ...
Upward and Onward!

Jason's Week 13 Challenge And Solutions

Many of you know that I am racing the Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra trail run this coming Saturday and that means that I have been in taper mode since last Sunday.  While there are runs on the schedule they are not long, at least not long in comparison to the overload weeks where 70+ mile weeks were the norm. Taper usually brings with it the crazy feeling that I have not done enough.  I call it crazy because if you have been following a well-thought out plan and did the work then you have done enough.  Period.  This time I decided to take taper very seriously and not do anything but taper.  I had 5 runs schedule for the week and I did 5 runs.  I did not go to the pool.  I did not get on the bike.  I ate wisely and did what I needed to do to bring a spring back to my legs and it was there when I went and did a 10 mile race. [caption id="attachment_9393" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Fort Worth Running Company Chocolate Chip 10 Miler Data Points[/caption] This 10 miler was not going to be a race where I take off and hope to hang on.  As a matter of fact it was a race to get the 10 miles in without being bored by myself.  As the gun went off and we were cruising at a very manageable pace I decided that my legs felt good enough that I should negative split the entire race.  Add in the fact that it was cold out and finishing as quickly as possible certainly enough of a reason.  At the turn around point I dropped a gear and ran faster with each passing mile and my legs felt springy.  They had life in them and I knew right then and there that the taper, as hard as it was to not swim and bike, was working.  I finished 11th overall.  Part of me says:  Had I run hard out of the gate I could have finished Top 5, but this was not an important race as much as it was an important brick in the ultra trail run wall. This upcoming week is more of the same.  Lots of do nothing.  Lots of pay attention to sleep.  Lots of pay attention to food intake.  Lots of mental prep.  The taper challenge will continue but the light at the end of the tunnel is right there and come Saturday when the gun goes off all of it will have been well worth it.  Oh, and check out the forecast for Saturday.  Running in the woods in the mud.....just like being a kid.   [caption id="attachment_9391" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Rain = Mud. Mud = Fun. Let's Do This![/caption]
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9352" align="alignright" width="300"]doping - ironman - triathlon Source: EverymanTri[/caption] Doping is a topic that I have discussed a number of times on this blog.  It is no secret that I do not have any sympathy for those that dope, nor do I have any empathy when they get caught.  If you are going to break the rules and you get with it.  It was a decision, conscious decision, that you made to go down that path and when you get caught you have to deal with it. Yes, there are false positives and the off-chance that a prescription drug trips the meter and says that it was something illegal.  All of that still does not tell me to give them leeway.  Not today.  Not when all it takes is a phone call to inquire about whether a certain prescription contains something that may be deemed against the rules.  Not when you can read the label on a canister of protein powder.  There are just too many safeguards to avoid having a positive drug test.  You get caught you deal with the punishment. Yesterday, Jeff posted a link to an article in Irish Triathlon that concluded that 1 in 7 dope at Ironman Triathlon.  1 IN 7.  That is an absurd number when you think about it.  Let's assume that there are 2100 athletes wading in the water with you before the cannon goes off.  That means that 300 of those people are doping.  Think about that.  It is perplexing considering that the number of athletes from any given race going to Kona is minimal at best.  What are these people thinking when they make the decision to take a drug that is going to improve their performance. If they stopped to think about it I can imagine that they would not do it.  Look at it from a numbers perspective.  At Ironman Texas 2013 I finished in 12:03:58 which was good for 80th place in my Age Group.  Assume that the drugs improve my performance by 5% and that would make my final finishing time approximately 11:28.  That finish time would put me at 39th place in the M40-44 AG.  That is still nowhere near a Kona qualifying time so why dope?  Before you say to me that those that are close to qualifying for Kona are probably the ones that are doping, the facts from the study are that they are not. The study points out that those that are physically doping are training for 14 hours per week and those that are cognitive doping (antidepressants, beta-blockers, modafinil, methylphenidate) are training for 15 hours per week.  During my overload weeks for Ironman Texas I was regularly putting in 18-21 hours per week.  During base building weeks the amount of training volume equaled ~17 hours.  That is far above what the average from this study is and yet I am over an hour away from Kona.  How far away are these athletes training for 14-15 hours per week? And this gets me to my point about doping.  I am very competitive.  I want to be better than myself from race to race.  I want to beat you, you and you.  That is no secret but I also know what I am capable of.  I am a 12 hour Ironman as defined by my 3 finishes.  Maybe at IMTN I can get closer to 11 than I am to 12 but the breakthrough I would need to get to Kona is enormous and I cannot see that happening.  Would I love to qualify?  Of course, but it looks like this is more of a legacy slot than qualifying slot and I am ok with that.  I once had aspirations of qualifying for Boston as well as Kona.  Today I am having thoughts of qualifying for Western States but in the end should I qualify it will be because I did it on my own ability and not a synthetic.  To me that is not qualifying, that is cheating.  Doping is cheating and anybody who dopes is a cheater.  There is no room in sport or life for cheaters.  Period, End of Story.

What Are Your Thoughts On Doping?

Published in Train
Ultra Trail runner were not words I would have ever used to  describe me when I started down the endurance athlete path.  Like anybody else I started with a half-marathon and that was ok but I wanted more.  I ran a marathon, and probably should have quit then because I couldn't walk afterwards, yet something kept pulling me back in.  I got into triathlon and raced sprint and Olympic distance races at first but again needed more.  When I raced my first Half-Ironman I was already of the belief that an Ironman would not be far behind.  Once that third Ironman was over and the fourth (Ironman Chattanooga) was registered for there seemed to be a void. There was a vacuum where the endorphins, training, food logging and elated exhaustion was missing.  Enter the world of Rocky Racoon 50.  The words ultra trail runner would now become part of the adjective list used to define me.  Somewhere along the way I had the following conversation with myself, and also a little help from my friends:
  • Me: When RR50 is over will you have time to properly train for 70.3 Galveston?
  • Me: Can you race Galveston by winging it?  Do you want to wing it?  Do you want to be great that day or just say you did it?
  • Me: Jeff is running Lake Martin in late March.  Can the 50 miler be a 'training' run for that? You'll have the base.
  • Jeff:  Yeah dude, c'mon and race Lake Martin with me. I have over 24 hours worth of stories for you to listen to.
  • Me: Yes, running a 100 miler makes much more sense than racing a 70.3 triathlon.
[caption id="attachment_9345" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations This Pic Of Denali National Park Looks Awesome
Source: Rob Hammer Photography[/caption] While I have not registered for Lake Martin 100 I have looked at condos.  I have set up a budget to pay for the race and the accommodations.  I have added to the Rocky Raccoon 50 training plan to carry me through March 29.  So it seems like a forgone conclusion that Lake Martin 100 will be my first, and not likely last. attempt at a belt buckle a la my friend Emily - RUN EMZ. And while the idea that running 100 miles seems more sane than that of a 70.3 mile triathlon there is more reason to this decision than meets the eye.  The ultra trail run training has proven to be a great way to train for an Ironman without specifically training for an Ironman.  How?  Here is why:

Ultra Trail Run Training Observations

  1. Embrace The Pain.  I thought I was a badass for getting through 18 months of Ironman training for 3 Ironman races.  Pfft!!!! That sh*t was nothing compared to this.  I am running upwards of 60 miles per week and capping off each week with a 12-13 mile run through Cedar Ridge Preserve.  For those not in the Dallas area, that MF'er is HARD.  This past week I asked the following questions of myself while 'running' 12 miles with over 1500 feet of elevation gain:
    • Are you sure you want to do this 50 and then 100 mile race?  This seems insane.
    • Are you kidding me?  Aren't you man enough to climb this nearly vertical wall of dirt? Get your ass up there.
    • Really dude?  Really?  You are doing this by choice? You do not have the ability to do this.
  2. My aerobic ability is a good as it has ever been.  I ran a 12 mile warm-up on Saturday followed by a 15k where I managed 7:30-7:40 per mile and finished in 11th place in my Age Group while averaging a Heart Rate that was at the Top End Of Zone 2 Without Going Into Zone 3.
  3. I have swum nearly 50% less in the first two of January 2014 compared to January 2013 (8,900y v 17,150y) and yet I posted a 14:20 800 TT last week (PR is 13:36) and yesterday posted sub 1:40/100y without feeling taxed.  The mindset of hard has changed.  The bar for what is difficult has moved and I am now able to push my body further because the mind is not quitting as early as it used to.
  4. I am becoming more efficient at using fat for fuel.  I am running very early in the morning Monday through Friday (430-5a start times) and thus am not eating breakfast prior to those runs.  These runs are typically 5 - 10 miles in length so there is truly no need to eat anything prior to starting.  By being able to use fat for fuel I am getting leaner but more importantly I do not have the need to carry loads of fuel.  Right now my plan for the 50 miler is to wear a Nathan Pak with ~800 calories along with two flasks of EFS Liquid Shot totaling another 800 calories.  As I run if I feel the need for a banana at an aid station here or there I will take one in.  The plan will put me at approximately 200-250 calories per hour.  Yes, I have been training on that and it has worked and my recovery has been sound as well.
[caption id="attachment_9346" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations Source: Competitor Magazine[/caption] When I put these 4 factors into my head and converse with myself I can see that the ultra trail run training is going to be enormously beneficial to my training and performance at Ironman Chattanooga.  Learning where I can push myself, understanding the use of fat as fuel instead of extra carbs on the bike or run and having an advantage aerobically plays well into Ironman racing. While 2014 is only two weeks old I am already contemplating what happens after Ironman Chattanooga in September.  Take a month off and start training for an earlier in the year 50 miler so I can  race Galveston?  Sounds like a pretty solid plan, but not until I add Ultra Trail Runner to the list of adjectives.

Have You Seen A Benefit To Your Triathlon Performance From Ultra Trail Run Training?

Here is an article from Competitor Magazine on Trail Running Tips For Triathletes.  
Published in Train
Toughest week of the Ironman Chattanooga Challenge?  Is it possible to have the toughest week in Week 9?  Is it too soon?  Is it too late?  Should a week be defined as toughest week at all?  Week 9, as it turns out, was the toughest week of this challenge for both KC and I but for different reasons.  One had it tough because of a physical scenario and the other because of a mental scenario. As I said when I challenged KC to this Ironman Chattanooga blog challenge, we are going to give you the good, the bad and the ugly because training for an Ironman is hard.  There are going to be life situations, physical ailments, mental plateaus and everything in between that can derail you for a day, a week or a month but overcoming those obstacles is what makes you an Ironman.  My motto when it comes to the 140.6 mile race is that you become an Ironman during the journey and that the actual race is your victory lap.  This theory is proving to be true after the toughest week of the Ironman Chattanooga Challenge to date.

KC's Toughest Week - ICC Week #9

[caption id="attachment_9312" align="alignright" width="300"]toughest week - ironman chattanooga - triathlon - training A bit different than what Mom told you but it works too.[/caption] This was an interesting week and start to the new year. I did my last “long” run, last Sunday, a 16 miler, in prep for the Disney marathon, then woke up Monday morning to do an easy 4 mile recovery run. On my way to the front door to take off on my run, I felt a weird pain in the ball of my left foot, behind the 2 toes next to the big toe. It felt like an electrical shock or as if I had stepped on a big piece of glass, except there was no broken glass anywhere, there was no blood, no cut, nothing. I only had socks on at the time because I had left my Hoka running shoes outside from the day before (they were wet and dirty from running in the rain), so I have no idea what happened. I didn’t think much about it, went out and ran 4 miles with no problem or pain. Since that run, I have attempted to run several times and it’s uncomfortable. Walking around I’m aware of it, so unless I experience some kind of miracle between today and Friday, I will run the Disney marathon, if not, I’m out. Since I am a WebMD doctor, I have diagnosed myself with Metatarsalgia. At first, I was upset about it early in the week, then I started thinking more clearly about it. First off, I’m already qualified for Boston 2015, so that already makes me feel better about the situation. The only reason I was planning to run a marathon again was to better my qualifying time. Secondly, I truly love to run. There is something about it that centers me and gives me a feeling of peacefulness that I don’t get from biking or swimming. So yeah, I miss that a lot! Anyway, I woke up this morning and I was mad. Mad at the universe (I have to be mad at something or someone, right?), so I decided that I’ll show you, you Universe! If I can’t run, then I’ll just bike my ass off, ha! And so, I did just that. I did 100 miles, a century, and it made me feel so much better. Hey, I did my first century of 2014, sweet! So that was my week and I think it ended on a positive note. Like in any life event, be it personal issues, work issues, health issues, etc …take one day at a time and know that there are no problems, only solutions …you just have to find them. [caption id="attachment_9313" align="aligncenter" width="300"]toughest week - ironman chattanooga - triathlon - training KC's Week 9 - Toughest Week Of Ironman Chattanooga Challenge Training[/caption] Upward and onward!

Jason's Toughest Week of ICC - Week #9

[caption id="attachment_9315" align="alignright" width="300"]toughest week - ironman chattanooga - triathlon - training Jason's Week 9 - The Toughest Week Of ICC Training.[/caption] When I went to bed on Sunday, December 29th I knew that the upcoming week was going to be different.  The training plan called for a whopping 29 miles FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK.  I had just run 23 miles on Saturday and now was facing the idea of running ONLY 29 over the course of 5 days.  This week was a scheduled pull back week for me before I enter into the overload weeks.  I wasn't really sure how I was going to handle it but I put a brave face on when the alarm went off on Monday morning and did what I have not always done.  I got on my bike with the mindset that I was going to be going to the pool 4x this week.  I made up my mind and so it was. As each day went by I found myself not making excuses to skip the pool, but instead I was looking for ways to get to the pool.  I was looking for ways to get out of work early and jump into the drink and take full advantage of this week from a pull back from running perspective and to do all I could to help my legs recover from the previous 5 weeks.  Getting them prepared for the 67, 69 ad 71 mile weeks coming up. This week was a true focus on recovery and that helped me get past the idea that I just wouldn't be running.  I took advantage of what the schedule gave me and put in place a recovery schedule of:
  1. Herbalife24 Endurance Strength ordered and stocked up on.
  2. Scheduled visits with Dr Tim of St. Onge Chiropractic and Sports Therapy 2x per week during overload weeks up to and including taper and race week.
  3. Swimming 4x per week in the evening during the next three overload weeks.  My swims will be between 1200 and 2000y with very little exertion.  That being said I hit 1:35/100y this past week……yee-haa!
I am also going to put some additional misery to the overload weeks.  On Sunday I ran at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve and it was extremely hard.  My gluteus, hamstrings, quads, calf muscles and hip flexors felt the entire 10.76 mile run.  This course is tough, much tougher than the course at Rocky Raccoon.  Adding this on Sunday for 12 miles will make the race seems much easier.  It is about mental training as much as it is physical training. In the end my mind was able to get through the recovery week but not without adding a few extra miles to the plan.  I went for 33 miles instead of 29.  I feel mentally stronger for it already.
Published in Train
Page 2 of 23