Week 26 was a tough one. And it elicited the above statement from one of my training buddies. It’s his first time going through the 30 week training program in his pursuit of Ironman immortality, but having been through the training once before I can certainly empathize.
To me the weekend training workouts are the true efforts that are reflective of what it takes to get ready for the race. The other days are hard as well, but much shorter in duration. But the long Saturday ride and the long Sunday run really give you a taste of what the race will be like. I write this post on Sundays mostly, and by then the early parts of the week are distant memories, while the weekend distance events are still rather fresh in my mind.
So we bantered around a little in a group text about whether or not we all hate this sport. We don’t really, it’s just that doing a 5.5 hour ride followed by a 1 hour run on a 90 degree and humid day really makes you think about why we like triathlon at all.
But my friend Dave and I both agree that the training is tough, and although there can be some rough patches and good days of training as well, the training is truly the hard part. Getting through the 30 weeks prepares you for being ready to handle the distance. I’ve thought many times that since probably Week 20 or so that I was ready. This week really drove home the point that until you get past Week 26 and Week 27 (next week – yikes!), you really don’t know that you are ready. You may think so, but this week and the next will really tell you all you need to know. The race is really the easy part, utilizing the skills and endurance earned over 30 weeks. It’s now less than a month away. Mike Reilly may be at the finish line telling everyone that they are an Ironman, but what’s impressive is that we prepared for 30 weeks to get to the finish line after 140.6 miles to have him tell us that.
As for me this week, the swimming pool is finally done. I had missed quite a bit of swimming since the high school pools changed their summer hours to a time I couldn’t go, and then opening my own pool to find a torn liner delayed my training. But all is good now and I have decided to supplement the three swim days of the training plan by adding a 30 minute swim every weekday, and dropping the Friday 3500 yard swim, because of the fact that I never did it anyway! I should get my endurance and build some of the lost speed back in the next couple of weeks.
We had a graduation party for my high school graduate this weekend, so I had to swap Saturday’s long ride with Sunday’s long run to have time to help prepare for the party. I think I got lucky because I got the long run done early before the heat had time to get going on Saturday. And although there was a brief downpour before I started the 5.5 hour ride on Sunday, the skies and humidity cleared nicely and I didn’t really suffer like my Gunner teammates did.
The ride was the same as last week, a 5.5 hour ride, but I made to 95 miles last week and was kind of disappointed in myself for not hitting the century mark. So this week I rode a little extra and ended up at 101.5 miles on the bike. In 2013, I never reached that plateau until race day. So it is a nice reminder that I am pretty close to that race distance of 112 miles.
So yes, Week 26 was a challenge. But the challenge just proves that I have the stuff to become Ironman.
Crazy week this week. Lots going on as I ramp up to the final month of training heading into the race.
The pool is finally getting a new liner, but it wasn’t without drama. I may post another blog about that craziness, but I am glad the new liner is being installed and the pool should be ready for swimming next week. Fingers crossed.
Since there was pool stuff going on that I needed to be home for, and my high schooler had to be picked up at noon every day, and that my world traveler high school grad was coming home from Italy this week, there wasn’t really any time to go find somewhere to swim. So no swimming for me again this week.
As far as running and biking were concerned, it really boiled down to the two long events on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday went pretty well. The plan called for a 5.5 hour bike ride followed by a one hour brick run. I decided to head south following my usual route, but would venture west and south to explore some of the roads. I am glad I did as I ended up almost all the way to Kankakee, IL, actually making it to Kankakee State Park. I made it into the park and explored a paved path until it turned to crushed limestone. I rode a little bit on that path until I felt like a dope riding a tri bike on a trail not really suited for one. But the two hour and 45 minute turn around point hit, and I backtracked home. 95 miles total in 5.5 hours.
Upon getting back home, I felt a little drained. I took about 15-20 minutes to down a couple Gatorades before heading out for the hour long run. It went okay, but not at my typical effort. I think I needed to hydrate and fuel a little more as I ended the ride. Here’s the Garmin info:
After the 101.5 mile day Saturday, I kind of dreaded having to run on Sunday. But I got up at 5:30am and ate and got ready to hit the trail to beat the 90 degree temps forecasted for the day. Of course when I went to get my Garmin 910 watch it wasn’t charged even though I connected the dumb thing to the charger the day before. Fortunately my wife has a Forerunner 10 that I grabbed and used for tracking the workout. Before I had a GPS watch I wouldn’t have cared, but now it I have become somewhat of a convert and addicted to the dumb device.
After the 2.5 hour run, I chugged a couple of Gatorades and talked myself into doing the hour long bike spin that I probably should have done before the run. My butt was not happy with me after the long ride on Saturday, but eventually I got used to it. An easy effort, high cadence spin for an hour went by pretty quickly.
Those long efforts leave me with my thoughts for way too long, and boy did I have a lot of thoughts. Too many to add here. Maybe I will save those thoughts and share them when the Ironman is over. I’ll need something to talk about after the race.
Results: 20:52 Official, 20:45 Garmin watch – 17th overall, 16th Male overall, 3rd place M50-54
I enjoy racing at the Frankfort Park District Short Run on a Long Day 5K for a couple of reasons. First, it’s held on a midweek evening which means most of the day has passed and all you need to do is worry about running and not the million other things you have to do that day. I also enjoy the fact that it brings out some good competition and allows me to race against a higher percentage of my faster peers. At another local race that was run in my town in late April I would have finished second overall, so this race tells me more about myself than placing high in a race that had no competition.
The race day this year was hot – 89 degrees – when I checked the car thermometer. I decided to not let that bother me, and I decided that I would push myself anyway. During warm-up I was jogging shirtless past a couple of moms who were pushing their kids in strollers. One of the kids said “Daddy!” which prompted me to chuckle and say “Daddy must be hairy too.” That seemed to get me in a good mood.
The start was typical, too many slowpokes in the front that I would have to navigate around. One guy asked another what time he was shooting for and the guy said around 21 minutes. That guy I thought had a chance at that. But when he asked the other guy, said he wasn’t sure, “maybe 22 or 23” minutes. I immediately thought of the movie Mr. Mom when he responded 220 / 221 – whatever it takes. This guy looked like he would be over 25 minutes to me.
As usual my son Ben also ran the race. He did his typical college runner thing in warm-ups, and then found an old high school buddy to run the race with. He made his way to the front of the line at the last minute. Must be cool to have the speed to back that up! He finished second overall for the 3rd year in a row I think. He keeps losing to the same guy. Not really fair for Ben, as he is coming off a mandatory 2 week recovery period from track season. And he had a head cold. I’m guessing he’ll beat this guy someday.
The guy that starts the race likes to stand right in the middle of the road and warn people not to run him over when the race starts. I find that to be the dumbest thing, but typical of a race that is run by the park district versus a race that is run by a runner or running club. He hit the siren on the bullhorn, snapped a picture and we all took off. I was hitting Z4 heart rate within the first 1/4 mile. The group spread out pretty quickly and I focused on getting my breathing rhythm under control. The first mile hit and I missed the water stop. I was getting quite a dry mouth, but I didn’t worry about it. For some reason the water stop was positioned on the left hand side of the trail we were running on, and in my opinion it should have been on the right. When running on a trail, all users should stay right, and there were definitely other bikes and trail users on the trail that would force us over. Matter of fact, one kid that passed me around the 1/2 mile mark shouted “BIKER UP!” which startled me somewhat, but had he not yelled that I may have not seen the guy.
When we hit the one mile marker another guy got on my shoulder and asked how I was doing. Apparently he was feeling me out. I said I was doing good. He mentioned that he thought the split on the clock was too fast, and I agreed. My watch split said about 6:15 for the first mile. He tried to talk some more but I zipped it and focused on catching the next guy. I dropped him and never saw him again.
When we made the turn off the trail and onto the side streets I started to catch a lot of guys that had gone out too fast. From that point, about 1.5 miles into the race, I kind of fell into no man’s land again. This happens to me a lot, I end up being the slowest of the faster runners or the faster of the mid-packers. I don’t remember passing or being passed from that point on.
Around the two mile marker I saw a lady by a table that had cups of water on it. Apparently she was the sole worker for that water stop, but it was on the far side of the road on a turn, which meant that I would not be able to take the tangent if I wanted to get some water. Since I was really hot, I decided to make a try at it and she met me halfway. I took the cup and splashed it on me. What happened next was a surprise – I almost felt hotter! Not sure if the temp of the water was an issue, or that I was just too hot for it to do anything. I can remember my tri buddy Alex mentioning this once, and I took note.
I could feel myself starting to fade, but between mile 2 and 3 there are a lot of turns, which meant I could look back and see how close runners were behind me. There was no one around that I was worried about. I came upon a guy who said good job and was spraying a hose for us to stay cool. But again, he was on the side of the street that would require me to move over from the straightest line to get relief. It was too late to take him up on the water anyway, as I was determined to kick to the end.
Once I got to the last tenth of a mile I knew I had no challengers, but I pushed myself anyway. My son was there yelling at me to go all in, a payback in a way for all the times I yelled at him in junior high and high school to push harder. Now that he is a D-III runner, I usually just yell “Good Job!” or “GO Ben!”
My watch said 20:45 at the end, which was a little disappointing seeing that it wasn’t as fast as I thought I could run, nor as fast as I thought I was running. But seeing that it was so hot, I guess it is a pretty respectable time, all things considered.
The Experience Triathlon club puts on a good event, and I enjoy racing at the Batavia Triathlon. So I signed up back in March, and set my alarm for 3:40am in order to drive the 45 minutes to Batavia for the 6:30am start on June 12, 2016.
After a very hot Saturday, Sunday race day was blessed with a nice and cool upper 60’s degree morning. Matter of fact, the water temperature of the quarry where the swim takes place was 74.5 degrees and warmer than the air temperature. During the period for swim warm-up, I went to the water and waded in up to my knees. Still felt cold for me, but as I stood there I could tell it wasn’t too bad. I was on the fence about swimming without my wetsuit, but I saw many others putting their’s on, so I somewhat reluctantly pulled mine out of the bag and tried to wrestle it on.
I got in line around the quarry to prepare for the staggered time trial start and realized that I needed to set my new triathlon watch to the multi-sport setting. Only I didn’t know how. I knew I had seen it before, and how could one of the most triathlon dominate sports watches not have that function. I must of pushed fifty different combination of buttons until I realized that I had to go Settings. No kidding. Unlearned Lesson #1: Make sure to have a good understanding of your new device before using it in a race.
I was also thinking how to approach the swim. Last time I did the race the swim did not go well. I figured since I was a newly minted Ironman, I would just go all out for the 400 yards or so, and rock it. I was hyperventilating by the first turn. This time I forced myself to not run into the water and to really hold back. It worked! I swam really efficiently and got through the two lap swim actually swimming. I say actually swimming because on the backside of the swim the water is very shallow and most will stand and walk that portion. That’s what I HAD to do last time. Not this time. Lesson learned.
After exiting the swim area, I found a grassy area where I decided that I would shed my tri suit. It came off very easily this time. I really didn’t lose much time wrangling with the dumb thing. Off to the bike and grab my bike gear. Pretty smooth through that too. When I got to the bike mount line is when the wheels came off – almost literally. When I was driving in I could see that it was pretty breezy out, so I decided to remove the full disc wheel that I had put on the night before and replace it with my FLO 60 aero wheel. Apparently I neglected to get the gears right and the bike was not liking me trying to peddle it that way. People were looking at me. It finally clicked into the correct gear and off I sped. Unlearned Lesson #2: Avoid a total newbie move and make sure that your bike is ready to ride right out of T1.
The wind was from the east and man did it make for a fast ride. I was hitting 25mph easily and passing tons of riders. I think I maxed out at one point at 32mph. About a half mile out of T1 I realized that I didn’t know if I needed to push the Lap button on my watch, so I pushed it. And then pushed it again. After reviewing my watch activity it appears most of my ride was considered a transition. Oops. It was also then that I glanced down at my bike computer and realized it wasn’t on. I got it on and it searched and found the satellites quickly, but I had forgotten to reset it from Saturday. So I was essentially starting out with 85 miles on the odometer. I reset it and reminded myself to get my head in the game. Unlearned Lesson #3: See Unlearned Lesson #2.
Only one faster rider passed me on the ride, a tall strong looking guy. I was doing 25 or so and he was faster. I figured I would get him on the run. But that was it. Nobody else passed me on the ride. I had a GU early on the ride and another at the back end to help fuel the run. Heading back in was tough as it was a double whammy of some uphills and the wind in my face. But back into town provided some wind buffer and soon I was whipping around the turns and pulling into T2.
The bike to run transition was smooth as silk. I repeated to myself out loud that I needed my shoes, my visor, my bib belt and off I ran to Run Out. Just before getting there I forgot one thing – I had arm warmers on for the ride that I forgot to take off, so I decided at the last minute to toss them in transition just before the exit and figured I would pick them up after the race.
I forgot to hit the lap button again, and truthfully I was pushing it not knowing if I was supposed to, but I remembered about a tenth of a mile into the run. I really just wanted to know my pace, which at that time was a 6:33 mile. Now I didn’t want to know! Not sure how I planned to hold that pace, but I kept it up for about 3.5 miles of the run. The run was different this year as we went south on the trail instead of heading north. This made for some crazy crowded trail. Not only was there runners running in both directions, but there was some sort of bike event going on locally, so that added some crazy to the whole thing. But as I kept charging ahead I realized I was passing a ton of triathletes. I did not get passed by anyone during the run. I just kept picking off one runner and the next. I paid attention to the age group markings on the calves of the runners and found I was passing a lot of my age group peers, which made me feel great.
At the 3.5 mile mark there was some switchback type turns and a little hill and bridge that kind of took the wind out of me and slowed me down. But I knew that I basically had a half mile to go and the race was ahead of me and not behind me. I finished strong into the finishing chute for an unofficial watch time of 1:18:21. This is a 6 minute PR over my 2014 time! I was shocked. Learned Lesson #2: Know the course well and trusting your running ability. Always bet on the runner!
The hard part was post race, being slightly wet on a cool morning – I was uncomfortable. There was quite a wait for the final finishers to wrap up their races, so I ate some banana, pizza, a cookie and downed another water bottle. I approached the tent where the timing guys were hanging out and was told they would be posted soon. About an hour later (!), they posted them. I waited in line to get a look and found my name on the first page, and learned that I had finished 3rd in the M50-54 age group! This race was a USAT Nationals Age Group Qualifier, so by finishing 3rd I should be qualified! I may not be able to go to it, but it is always nice to know that I had qualified. Now I had to wait until the end to get my award.
I knew that transition was going to close at 11:30am, so I jogged the mile back to transition. All of my stuff was there thankfully, even though the place was mostly cleared out. I grabbed my bag and went into the lockers and took a shower because I was starting to get rank. I packed up my stuff and walked back to the car. I was 5 miles or so away when I realized that my favorite pair of arm warmers were still laying in transition by the Run Out. Unlearned Lesson #3: Don’t ever say to yourself that “I’ll remember” to go back and do something! Now I am out my favorite pair of arm warmers.
So, to sum up the race itself I would say that packet pick-up was a waste of an afternoon driving to Geneva on Friday to get a bib and two stickers, a shirt and a swim cap. Next time use the morning pick-up, I was there in plenty of time to get it. Also, the new run course finishing at the Batavia VFW was way too crowded and busy for the racers, and the finish was way too far from transition. Hopefully they will get some negative feedback on that and move it back to finishing downtown. And if I do finish and get an A/G award, head back to transition, take a shower, pack up all of your junk and then go back to the awards. There will be plenty of time.
Good race, nice day. I’ll be back. That’s a lesson that I have learned.
Monday: Rest day. But I did 2 miles of running to satisfy the running streak. It now stands at about 1.5 years of running at least a mile every day!
Tuesday: I finally got into a pool! I ended up going to the YMCA off of Briggs Street in Joliet and used their pool. It cost me $15 for a day pass! I spent the 3000 yards swimming calculating how much each 100 yard segment cost me (50 cents/100 yards, if you must know). Overall, I felt pretty good for missing two weeks worth of swim training, but I did notice a little fading in the end. A seven mile run finished off Tuesday. I was aiming for the planned 1:15 run, but I saw a friend in the forest preserve and she is running her first marathon in the fall. I chose to walk a couple of miles and talk running with her.
Wednesday: Bike/Run brick day. Nothing out of the ordinary in this workout. The bike did increase by 15 minutes. Nice of Don Fink to throw that into the plan.
Thursday: 1.5 hour bike ride on the trainer and followed with 1 mile on the treadmill. We had a little rain on Thursday.
Friday: A hot day for an afternoon run. Managed 10.5 miles in 1:33. Felt pretty good.
Saturday: A mid 90’s day is not ideal conditions for a 5 hour long ride, but I got it done and averaged about 17.1 miles per hour. I think that will be a pretty good tempo for Lake Placid. The ride was supposed to be followed with a run, but I opted to do it indoors on the t’mill. Had I run in the heat I would have ended up walking a lot of it because I knew that it was going to be tough. So I chose to run tempo indoors on the dreadmill. Plus I knew that I was doing a sprint triathlon on Sunday, so I thought it best to play it safe.
Sunday: The plan called for an hour long bike spin and a 2 hour 15 minute run, but I did a sprint triathlon instead in Batavia, Illinois. Sunday was the opposite of Saturday weather wise. A little breezy but temps in the upper 60’s. Matter of fact, the water temp was warmer than the air temp for a change! I ended up with a 6 minute PR over my time from 2014. I guess I smashed the bike, and the run was pretty quick as well. I only counted one guy passing me on the bike, and no one passed me on the run. I was gunning for it. I placed 22nd overall, and 3rd in my age group. Since this race is a USAT Nationals Age Group Qualifier, I should be qualified for the Nats in August. Probably won’t go to it, seeing that it is in Omaha, Nebraska and I have a daughter entering her freshman year at Valparaiso University, a daughter heading into freshman year at Lincoln-Way Central, and a son who is turning 21 as he heads back to his senior year at Loras College. All of that happens in the last couple of weeks in August!
Pool News: Finally got word that they should be out to replace my pool liner this week, tentatively on Thursday which is forecasted for rain. When it finally gets in, I think that I will probably do 30 minutes of swimming daily on the non-swim days, and do the planned swims as well. I have some catching up to do!
A couple of noteworthy things happened this week. First, for the second week in a row I missed my swim workouts. I’m not all too concerned about it, but it made me think about why I didn’t have a contingency plan in place for when the school would be closed. Well, I sort of did have one, and that was to have my own pool open and swim at home. But I am still waiting to hear from the pool guys as to when they can put in my new liner. I have looked into swimming at a local YMCA, but at $14 per swim that may be a little stiff.
One of my Gunner teammates Jeff, has definitely been utilizing his contingency plan as he rehabs from a back issue. I should be taking lessons from the new guy!
The other big news is that after having consistently passing on a triathlon watch, I decided that I would take the plunge and join the cool tri kids. What did I buy? A brand new, in the box Garmin 910XT. Don’t laugh. Even though this watch hit the market in 2011, and Garmin has since released the 920 and the 735, I got a deal that I just couldn’t pass up. A local sporting goods store in Chicagoland, Sports Authority is going out of business and was having an everything must go sale. I walked into the store and found that they had several new, never opened 910XT’s. Normally they list for about $400. Over a couple of weeks, I watched the price plunge until there was only one of about a half dozen left on the shelf, and it rang up at $159. I made the decision to get the thing. The receipt said all sales were final, and at the bottom said I had saved $240! I think I got a good deal.
Since I already owned a Garmin Edge 500 bike computer, I found my new watch to be somewhat familiar, and the learning curve was not much of a challenge for this sometimes technology challenged geezer. I have all the screens set up the way I want, and transferring data from my workouts to Garmin Connect is a snap when I get into range of the computer, transferring everything wirelessly!
The last thing of note is that I seem to have entered a stage of training that I totally forgot about the last time I did the Ironman – the “I’m always angry, sad, moody” stage. Lately I have been so down and moody, and it is compounded by the fact that two of my kids graduated junior high and high school, and my son is entering his last year of college. It also didn’t help that I asked my wife to buzz my hair with the smallest clipper, effectively making me look like an older geezer than I actually am. I guess to combat this I guess is to let my hair grow out some, get some good rest and keep eating. They say that when you are sad or angry during the race you need to eat. I have no trouble eating.