The Highs and Lows of Week 23


WEEK 23 – August 21 > August 27

It seemed like this week was a little bit of a hilly ride, with ups and downs aplenty.  So I thought I would recap the happenings.


HIGHS:  Rest day, baby!  Eclipse day!  LOWS:  I ran 3 miles on my off day.  Bummer.

Me trying to figure out whether I wanted to permanently ruin my vision or not.  


HIGHS:  A swim and a 8.5 mile run.  LOWS:  None that I can remember.  Except maybe the swim.  Yeah, I hate swimming.


HIGHS:  My favorite workout of the week – the short bike/run brick.  LOWS:  The wife isn’t feeling well.


HIGHS:  The weather this week has been GREAT!!!  LOWS:  Thursday workouts are the worst – a swim, a bike, a run.  Makes for a long afternoon.


HIGHS:  My mother-in-law Darla hit 70!  Happy Birthday!  And I got to greet my friend Rollie on the bike trail.  LOWS:  Missed the first home football game in which my daughter’s full competitive band performed.


HIGHS:  Absolutely none.  Well, that’s not true.  I got to see the competitive marching band do their thing in exhibition after a 88 mile bike/run day.  The ride went well in spite of the fact I wanted to kill people on the bike trail and clueless drivers on the road.  LOWS:  Idiots on the bike trail.  Clueless drivers on the road.  And I got pretty sick about training on that long ride.  I got to the point where I just wanted it to be over.  Happens every year.

My face after stopping to read my Gunner teammate John’s text about poker at his house that night.  There was no way I could swing it.  I still had another 2+ hours of riding and running ahead of me.  Plus a marching band event later.  


HIGHS:  I beat the rain (which looked like trouble, but never did rain) and got in a strong 13.25 mile run and a 45 minute spin.  And I got a second chance to greet my friend Rollie on the bike trail!  LOWS:  Not being able to join my buddies in Chicago for the Chicago Triathlon.  Next year for sure.

So, in all it was a roller coaster ride of emotion throughout training this week.  I was ready to say I was done with it.  But by the end of Sunday’s long run and bike, I realized that I had performed pretty well.  A good recovery from last week.  I’m pretty lucky that I can do this activity.  I don’t take that for granted.



2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 79150 yards total

4 Bikes – 135 miles this week / 9819 miles total

7 Runs – 45 miles this week / 725 miles total



It Beat Me


WEEK 22 – August 14 > August 20

This week was a taper week that was leading to a half-iron distance race on Sunday in the training plan.  The week went really well with no issues, and I chose to do the 70.3 at home on Saturday instead of Sunday for a couple of reasons, first being my daughter Ashley was leaving for her sophomore year at school on Sunday and I needed to be around on Sunday.  Secondly, Saturday was looking to be a nicer day temperature-wise than Sunday.

So Saturday came and I got an early start to my half-Ironman day.  The swim was great.  It took me 40 minutes and I felt really strong.  Before leaving on the bike I ate a Clif Bar and drank a glass of water.

The bike was awesome.  I headed south toward Elwood and hit 23 miles when I turned around at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.  I went back east until I got to the little forest preserve entrance and went in for a bathroom break.  Knowing that I had turned around at 23 miles, I would need an additional 10 miles for a total of 56 for the ride, so I headed back west for 5 and turned around.

Had to wait for a train for about 10 minutes approximately 4 miles from home.  This train would later come back to me on my run and run me over.

With about 2 miles to go, I felt a stinging sensation on my foot.  Some sort of wasp/bee/hornet thing had lodged itself in the opening of my shoe and stung me.  It hurt like heck for about 10 minutes.  But it was just the beginning of my suffering.

Once home I noticed that I had a great split on the bike ride.  Averaged just over 19 mph, which was faster than my Ironman Muncie 70.3 time from 2014.  I was pretty happy with that.


I jumped in the pool for a quick cool down, and then changed into some running clothes. I took a look at my stung foot and didn’t notice any swelling, but it was a little sore to the touch.  I put on fresh socks, refilled my Gatorade bottles and hit the trail.

My plan was to do two loops of my normal route, which would be very close to 13 miles.  At about 5 miles into it I ran out of Gatorade and stopped at the water pump to top off my bottle with water.  That got me back to my trail entrance spot at 6.6 miles and I grabbed a new bottle of Gatorade that I had stashed in the tall grass and refilled my bottle.  But at this point the heat of the day was getting to me, and I knew I was starting to cook.  I started heading back up the path for another loop and made it to the other parking lot where I used the bathroom and realized I was starting to have heat exhaustion.  I went to the water fountain and ran cold water over my head and proceeded to the intersection to keep going on the loop.  But as I pushed the crosswalk button and stood there I realized there was no way I would make it through the remaining 5 miles in one piece.  So at 8 miles into my planned 13 miler, I turned around and started walking for home.  A walk that would basically turn out to be an Ironman shuffle for 2.5 miles.

My head was down, my arms were heavy and it felt like just breathing was an effort.  I felt like that train I had seen earlier was barreling over me.  I kept licking at the last gel I had along with some Base salt and started to at least have enough energy to power my brain and move at a slightly faster pace.  I ran/walked another mile for a total of 9, four shy of my goal.

I have never DNF’d (did not finish) a race before, and honestly I can’t even remember a time in which I didn’t finish a training run that I had set out to do.  But today I realized that I was defeated.  It beat me.  I made it home and recovered with plenty of fluids, some salt, and some rest.

So what happened?  I’m guessing I was dehydrated.  I had taken a salt capsule every hour on the ride, but I was sweating heavily.  I had eaten well, taking a gel every half hour.  I never felt sloshy or had dry mouth.  I weighed myself after a shower and found I weighed 160 pounds.  I had probably lost about 7 pounds of water weight on that journey.  Lesson learned.  I need to drink more.  The trouble is, there really isn’t any place to refill on that route.  I will need to figure something out for the next time.  And maybe I needed more fuel.  One gel every 30 minutes has always been my nutrition plan.  I may need to up it a little.



2 Swims – 5600 yards this week / 74950 yards total

3 Bikes – 86 miles this week / 9684 miles total

7 Runs – 34 miles this week / 680 miles total

Lesson learned.  Know my limits and adjust.  Keep moving forward.

I’M READY!!! Umm, wait – maybe not


WEEK 21 – August 7 > August 13

I have trained for three Ironman races and I get to the point somewhere around Week 20  or so when I declare myself ready.  All it took for me to understand that I wasn’t was the Saturday long ride and run workout.

It started out okay, and it was a beautiful day – low 70’s, mostly sunny, light breeze if any. My only option for doing a long ride and not want to murder people on the bike trail is to head south from where I live to the more rural farmland of the far south Chicago suburbs.  I live right on the cuff of urban and rural living.  Harlem Avenue near where I live is a six lane motorway.  South of Monee, it is two lanes with barely any shoulder or traffic.  So I headed south with a plan to turn around at 2 hours and head back to complete the scheduled 4 hour ride.

Feeling pretty good about myself around 1.5 hours into the ride.

I have a terrible sense of wind direction when I ride for some reason, but I was keeping an eye on the corn and plants and they weren’t moving at all.  So I felt strong and kept pushing.  I had built up an average pace of 18.6 mph before I turned around.  Then I felt the wind.  It was from the north, and I knew I was in trouble because 90% of the ride back would be back into the wind.  So I ended up battling my way back home, watching my average ride pace slowly tick back down to a more realistic level for me.  I pushed pretty hard, but it still took me an additional 11 minutes on the return trip.  I ended with an average of 17.9 mph.  Not only was I now super tired from the effort back, but I also had dropped below 18 mph average.

I ended the ride with a 5 mile run at a pretty good pace.  But I could tell that I was spent.  I showered up and went to Panera for some soup.  Between the Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup bowl (super salty and full of chicken/protein), and about a half dozen refills of sugary Lipton Brisk Raspberry Tea, I was able to turn myself around and feel good again.  But after that 5 hour, 80 mile training day, I knew that I surely do need these remaining few weeks of training to be ready.

On Sunday, I ran the scheduled 1 hour 45 minute run not knowing what to expect.  Turned out I felt pretty good.  Ended the run covering 12 total miles.  Maybe I am ready!


2 Swims – 5600 yards this week / 70050 yards total

3 Bikes – 131 miles this week / 9598 miles total

7 Runs – 41 miles this week / 646 miles total

The truth lies in the Saturday and Sunday long efforts.


My Brain on Ironman


WEEK 20 – July 31 > August 6

I read a recent article in Triathlete magazine that covered the subject of mental preparedness in Ironman.  I have always thought that training your mind to handle the effort in training and the races was almost as vital as the physical aspect of getting your body ready to spend the more than half a day swimming, biking and running.  Some of it can be very mind numbing for sure.

I find the swimming to be the most boring of the three.  You are either looking at a black line at the bottom of a swimming pool, the dark murkiness of a lake, or in my case a bunch of dead bugs lying at the bottom of my pool, a constant reminder that I also need to devote time to take care of things that get neglected during training.

Running can also be boring, but you can bring music if you are so inclined.  I don’t, but I do let the beauty of the area in which I run to keep me distracted from any suffering that may be going on.  I jogged behind a deer on Wednesday for about a minute until it finally took notice and bounded into the woods.

I find that I don’t have the luxury of being unfocused on the bike.  It’s the one discipline of triathlon in which you are required to focus.  You have to constantly monitor your surroundings, your effort level, and make sure that you don’t crash.  Certainly there are times when I can zone out, but something always quickly renews your focus on the bike – a bump on the road, a bug to the face, a gust of wind, etc.

Often times when someone asks about the Ironman, they only think in terms of how long it is – 140.6 miles – and are impressed that the distance can be covered under your own power.  But I find that your mind easily adapts to the distance if you break it down into manageable segments.  My training is 30 weeks long.  That’s a long time.  But when it is broken into its individual weeks, and then into each day, it is much easier to mentally handle the task.  The woman who inquired about my training this week asked me about the training, and I said for Wednesday’s workout I did 45 minutes on the bike followed by a 30 minute run.  A total of 75 minutes of exercise.  Lots of people can do that.  Break it up and it is much more manageable.

At Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, I found that I couldn’t bear to look out at the water where the swim course was being held prior to race day.  It looked enormous!  But on race day morning, I got in the water for the start and broke the swim up into small segments.  My plan was to swim from one orange buoy to the next.  On the bike it was all about riding to the next aid station where I could refill my water bottle and take on some more nutrition, then it was on to the next one.  Same thing with the run – one mile at a time, one aid station to the next.

So I guess the physical training for the race is the most important aspect of completing an Ironman.  But if you can train your brain to manage the race, it can make the physical portion of it much less of a burden.


Swimming in Lake Minocqua. 

I volunteered as a chaperone at this past couple of weeks at band camp.  Fortunately for me I was able to take the 3-6pm slot, and was still able to get my workouts done midday.  The weekend was spent in Minocqua with the family.  I felt the need to be with the family and spend quality time that is no longer a given. My son has his own job and is living out of state. And my middle daughter will begin her sophomore year at college soon. So to have everyone together for two short days was a luxury that I couldn’t pass up. So I skipped the scheduled four hour bike ride. But I was able to get an open water lake swim in as well as the two hour Sunday run. That run nearly wiped me out physically and mentally. I’ve got some work to do in the next ten weeks. 


2 Swims – 4400 yards this week / 64450 yards total

2 Bikes – 41 miles this week / 9467 miles total

7 Runs – 40 miles this week / 605 miles total

Week 20 complete. Bring on the Peak Phase!