30 Weeks to Ironman Number 3


I was dropping my college freshman off at school after being home two weeks for spring break, and we stopped in at the local Culver’s for a quick dinner.  The young man at the counter recognized that I was wearing a hat with the Ironman logo on it and asked me about it.

“How far is that again?” he asked.  I had already anticipated the question, and I gave him the automatic response – 140.6 total miles – 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 mile bike ride, and a full marathon of 26.2 miles.  Like most people who are slightly aware of what an Ironman triathlon is, they are almost always surprised to learn of the distances.  In all honesty, knowing those distances, especially the 2.4 mile swim, was what had kept me out of doing the event for many years.  I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the possibility.  I could never swim that far.  I was surprised initially at those numbers as well.

But as he was wrapping his brain around it, I was contemplating a much different number:  30.  30 weeks, actually.  And not just the 30 weeks until my next Ironman race, Ironman Louisville on October 15, 2017.  I was thinking about the 30 weeks of many miles of training to get to that point of being able to actually attempt the 140.6 miles in under 16 hours.*   Last year I swam about 150,000 yards, cycled more than 2,600 miles, and ran over 1,000 miles in training just leading up to the 140.6 miles on race day at Ironman Lake Placid.  So, is 140.6 miles far?  Sure.  But the mileage put into training makes 140.6 miles a piece of cake.

So yeah, an Ironman is a long way to swim/bike/run.  And 30 weeks is a long time to prepare for the race.  But if my past two Ironman races are any indicator, I expect that number three will be just as memorable and just as fun.

I plan on taking it day by day.  As they say in Ironman, just keep moving forward.

*  (IMLOU only gives you 16 hours to finish it, unlike the 17 hours for the others.)


Not long after finishing Ironman Lake Placid in July 2016, I was already thinking about the next one.  Like a day after finishing the race.  Lake Placid was quite a haul from the south Chicago suburbs, and I was kind of hoping to try a race closer to home.  I briefly thought about doing Ironman Wisconsin again, and as much I love that race and locale, I thought that maybe a race that isn’t full of hills that are referred to as “bitches” by the triathletes  would be better.  I was hoping for a flatter bike course.  After consulting with my buddy Dave, we settled on Louisville.  It’s pros are a mostly downstream swim with the current, a bike course that consists mostly of rolling hills much like those where I live, and a run course filled with crowds and an exciting finish line.  But the biggest factor was that the race was moved from August to mid-October.  Can you imagine an Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky in the middle of August?  I’ll take mid- October, thank you very much.

The cons:  My wife is a UK grad!  And we bleed BLUE, not red!  The race also conflicts somewhat with the Chicago Marathon, a race that I have grown to love and hate to miss, especially since it will be the 40th running.  Also, my youngest is in a highly competitive marching band and has the state championship on the Saturday before the race.  Hopefully, they can make it down to watch me finish.

The training plan I am using for this race is the same one that I have used for the past two, “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink.  I will be following the Competitive plan for the 30 weeks with a couple slight changes.  I really don’t like swimming much, and my confidence in my ability to swim has grown.  So I plan to follow the “Just Finish” plan for the swim and see how it goes.  I’m well under the cutoff time for the swim, so I think I can cut back on it without any problems.

The other issue I have is that I am still enjoying a run streak that I started on January 1, 2015.  Now that I’m 2+ years into it, I would hate to have to kill that off.  I made it through last year running every day training for IMLP, so I think I can manage it okay.

My preliminary plan for the race is to hopefully shoot for a new personal best.  Actually, that’s every race I do.  But I think IMLOU will be much faster than the hilly IMMOO, and the mountainous IMLP.  Hopefully the current of the Ohio River will produce a fast swim time for me, somewhere around 1:10.  Many of the race reports I have read indicate that the author had a great swim.  I also hope to take advantage of that bike course and shave 30 minutes off my current 6:46 bike PR.  I may even use my full disc aero wheel for this one.  I have yet to race with it.  And if the temperature for the run is in the 70’s, I really hope to be around 4 hours or under for the run.  I will work hard at those goals, but the weather is the biggest factor.

I started on my triathlon journey with my two life long friends, Dave and his brother John.  And last year we added another very close friend Jeff, and Dave’s son Alex to our team of Gunners.  John has a newborn, and claims he’s skipping this one.  But I never believe John.  He’s a poker player with a great poker face.  Since IMLOU doesn’t seem to sellout anymore, I’m not betting against John joining us at the midnight hour.  Alex has indicated that two of his college Tri-Hawks teammates from the University of Iowa may join us this year as well.

Hopefully the summer will be filled with Gunner get togethers for group rides, open water swims and lots of great conversations through our hilarious group texts.  I’m hoping for a memorable and safe 30 weeks of training for all of us.

So, Day 1 of Week 1 is in the books.  It’s a rest day.  I rode a spin bike for 8 miles/30 minutes, and ran two miles on the treadmill.  So much for resting.

30 Weeks begins today!  Go GUNNERS!

Author: Ironman Chris

Family, running, triathlon and drumming are my things.

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