IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XV
I’m typing this on my iPad and it’s a little bit of a struggle for this technology challenged old guy, but I promise to clean it up when I get back to my computer at home. I’m surprised that I am even putting forth the effort seeing that I am on vacation.
There were a few things happening this week that kind of screwed with my desire to train. The first is that knowing that my family and I were heading to our lake house for a week, I had some stuff to deal with before leaving. I did get most of the weekly stuff done, but I missed the long ride on Saturday due to the drive up north and then dealing with cleaning up the yard and moving a week worth junk in.
So I opted to do the four-hour ride on Sunday and it went okay, but it was eerily similar to last week’s ride. Had another tire issue that I just refilled with a CO2 cartridge a couple of times. This bike is nine years old and I have never had a tire or tube issue with it. I seem jinxed lately with flats. The ride also ended with a similar bonk at the end. It wasn’t really hot, but I was sweating as usual and most likely didn’t keep up with my hydration. I felt so worn out at the end that I opted to jump in the lake to cool down and skip the 30-minute brick run afterward.
My better half joined me on the ride for awhile on the Bearskin Trail.
My ride took me to Nokomis and I found a new place in the middle of nowhere called “Bubba’s”. It looks like a large place for bikers to assemble for an upcoming event they have for motorcyclists. The USA War monument They built was pretty impressive.
The other issue that has poured a little water on my enthusiasm is that I discovered that Ironman has closed registration for Ironman Louisville. That’s a problem because 3/5’s of my Gunner teammates hadn’t signed up for it yet! I’m not sure why they closed it, but I have a pretty good idea why. They maybe trying to limit they amount of triathletes competing to limit the risk to everyone, but that’s not it. They also may be trying to limit the amount of triathletes that they have to offer transfers to if and when they have to cancel the race due to COVID-19, but that’s not it either. I’m now about 99% sure this race will get canceled next week.
It was mentioned on the IM Louisville Facebook page that the same thing happened to Ironman Ohio 70.3 – they closed registration and then the following week they postponed/canceled it.
So, now I kind of don’t feel like training. I know that I said last week that if the race survives past Week 15 that I would keep training, but I’m not so sure. Feeling like the ax is going to fall on this race puts a damper on training for me. Gunner teammate Dave says he’ll probably still train and look for another late fall race to do, but I’m thinking that there won’t be any racing this year for Ironman in the US. Seeing that COVID-19 numbers are spiking in some areas again says a lot.
So I plan on training this next week while on vacation and doing what I can waiting for a decision to be made. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.
TOTALS FOR WEEK 15:
Swim: 1 / 1500 yards
Bike: 3 rides / 85.5 miles
Run: 5 runs / 17.3 miles (skipped the Saturday brick and the Sunday long run this week.)
IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XIV
A few weeks ago I talked about how my bike was making some clicks, groans, and other annoying noises that I should probably address before they become bigger issues, and as I rode this week it seemed like they were really noisy to me, so I decided to see if I could figure some of them out. I had heard some people say that the bike shops have 2-3 week backlogs in servicing bikes due to the shops dealing with Covid-19 crazy people who all of a sudden need to have their bikes fixed so that they can ride during the pandemic. I figured that I have enough skill to handle fixing a bike. It’s not a car for Pete’s sake. What’s the worst that can happen?
Since most bike noises are bearing related and usually just require some cleaning and repacking with grease, the front fork seemed like it would be a good starting point and something I could easily tackle before I attempt to deal with the chain, derailleur, bottom bracket, and wheel axles. I probably shouldn’t have.
I often say that I am handy enough to be dangerous. I know I’m not my father. My dad was a “jack-of-all-trades” kind of guy, and a master of many. He could pretty much do anything. He wasn’t afraid to build an addition to the house, or put on a new roof, or build a small shed/barn. And as a pipeline welder, he was pretty skilled. He always said that he could weld anything – anything except a broken heart and a butt crack. That always got a chuckle out of me as a kid. He also had another saying though – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I think every dad probably has said that. That is pretty good advice.
Technically, my front fork wasn’t broken, but I felt that if I let the popping sound I heard when I turned the handlebars go for too long it could lead to something bad. So disassembly began by unscrewing a bolt that holds a plastic cap on over the top stem of the fork and covers a couple of bolts that are responsible for holding the handlebars on. Yes, two bolts clamp the aero bars to the fork. Not bolt the bars to the fork, but clamp them to it. You would think that would not be enough to handle the forces that I apply to the bars while riding but somehow they do. Then the fun began.
Side view uh oh…
Two metal spacer pieces needed to come off and they decided to be a giant pain in the ass. As I tried my best to not mar them up with pliers, I twisted them back and forth to loosen them and move them up and off the top of the fork. But they didn’t really want to come off by twisting. Time to apply a little “persuasion”, and I grabbed a rubber mallet. That seemed to be working but with every blow to the fork, I was extremely nervous about damaging a very expensive carbon fiber bike frame and fork. I eventually graduated to using a big screwdriver and prying in my attempt to remove them. The top one came off pretty easily but the second one required a lot more work but eventually relented and came off. Under the second one there was another piece that the bearings seemed to be attached to and it for sure wasn’t budging any further. It was awkwardly shaped enough that any tool I had really wasn’t effective. So I decided that maybe I should stop before I break something really expensive and admit defeat. With a couple inches of play now I had room to at least clean the areas where the bearing housing sits on the frame on both the top and underside of the frame, added a dab of grease to the area, and claimed a minor victory. Then I tried to put it back together. It was at this point I realized that I should have let a sleeping dog lay, and never messed with it in the first place. More persuasion with the rubber mallet took place, a pinched finger resulting in a pretty good blood blister occurred, some touch-up paint applied to my now badly scratched up spacers, and with some patience which I don’t normally have, I got the thing back together.
In the end, things seem to have turned out okay. I relearned that some jobs should probably be left to the pros no matter how long it takes. And by some stroke of luck, I no longer hear the loud click when I turn the handlebars.
The rest of the week went a little like this:
I opted to do the Monday hour-long swim instead of doing a 30-minute swim on Tuesday and Thursday. It went okay, but it did wear me out a little. I think I may alternate my swims by doing one hour-long swim one week and do the two 30-minute swims the next week. I think it may be beneficial to get used to that hour of suffering. And I wasn’t too bored to death.
My Saturday three and a half long ride started out okay but ended kind of bad. The wind direction was favorable for a change and I got at it early (around 6:45am) to beat the heat and the crowded trails. I had plenty of fuel and water and was hydrating well, but around 2.5 hours into it I could feel the bonk coming on and the heat was getting to me. But just 10 minutes after that my rear tire went flat just like a week ago. Not sure what caused it, probably a pinch flat. Fortunately, there was a shady, grassy area nearby and I took my time to recover a little while I changed the tube. When the job was done I got back to riding but I wasn’t in a good place. About 15 minutes from home I rolled by a newly built home that wasn’t yet occupied and refilled my water bottle with cold water from the hose bib. When I got home I skipped the 30-minute post-ride brick run and opted to rehydrate and cool off in the pool. I basically staggered into the pool. After a nap and some lunch, I felt good enough to do an easy 30 minutes of jogging.
I think the bonk was the result of dehydration and a little bit of heat exhaustion. I was drinking, had salt capsules and really wasn’t overdoing it. I just wasn’t exceeding my sweat rate with water consumption, I guess. And the heat was just adding to the issue. I did 2019 Ironman Chattanooga in 13:37 with 95 degree temps that felt hotter and did not feel like this. Training is not just doing the workout; it’s not just swimming, biking, and running. It’s also about learning to recognize the external factors and adapting, too.
The Tuesday run was fine and I texted my Gunner teammates that it felt effortless. Wednesday’s bike/run brick wasn’t so effortless though. I think I jinxed myself. On Friday I ran for an hour and it called for 7.5 minutes of Z4 after 45 minutes. I did fine on that but I think intervals longer than 3 minutes are tough for me to do because my mind will eventually wander, and my tempo will fall off and then all of a sudden I will realize – “Oh Yeah! I’m supposed to be running hard right now!” I’d rather do 2 X 3.5-minute repeats with a minute jog in between. My mind can handle that I think.
In my previous nine muscle car search posts, I have said a handful of times that I had sort of ruled out looking for my all-time favorite muscle car, the Chevrolet Chevelle, and in particular the 1970 Chevelle SS. That car had been my favorite since I was a teen in high school. I’m not alone in loving that car – it is one of the most popular muscle cars, if not THE most popular muscle car, from that era. 1970 was the peak year and the Chevelle was a beauty.
But as I started this journey to obtain a classic for myself I found that along with that popularity comes a super high price tag. Also, I am kind of a “blaze my own path” type of guy, preferring to be a little different than others. I wanted a car that is unique and not like the dozens of others that are at car cruises around the country. Lately, though I am starting to rethink the Chevelle and maybe include it in my search again. In reality, I like almost all of the cars that came from the muscle car era and would be really excited to own one and make some memories with it.
So why the sudden interest in Chevelles again? Well, I got tired of looking at the same cars over and over again on Hemmings (Hemmings.com) and I had bookmarked a handful of old links to cars that I had looked at from online sellers/dealers from a few years ago, so I decided to check them out. One of those links was to a website called Blueline Classics (bluelineclassics.com) and I saw this really awesome 1969 Chevelle SS convertible in Hugger Orange paint and it looked awesome. The price was amazing too – not too far over my arbitrary limit of $50,000. Most of these cars are going for a lot more than that. The only thing that I could really see that could bring down the price was that it had a period-correct motor and not the original. But that really isn’t a big deal for me.
Now wait a minute – I know that I said that the 1970 Chevelle model was my favorite and that is true, so why am I drooling over a 1969 model? Well, when I was a kid my older brother had one. My late brother Jon was about eight years older than me and he had a 1969 Chevelle SS in Hugger Orange with a black vinyl roof and black stripes. I would beg him and his girlfriend Nancy to drive me around in it with them everywhere they would go, to the point that I would throw a fit if they wouldn’t. Mom would get involved and somehow convince Jon to take me along. Almost every time! And Jon I’m sure absolutely hated it. That’s why I liked Nancy more. I think she tolerated me a little better. If Jon was still alive I am sure he would remember how big of a pain in the ass I was as a little brother. One trip I remember taking in the car was to the local amusement park called Old Chicago. Weird place somewhat, it had an amusement park indoors and a mall area too. I can remember a store in which some old guy would roll cigars and sell them. And Old Chicago also is the place where I had my first Wendy’s meal, paid for by my brother of course. This had to be around 1973 or 1974 or so. My sister also got rides in the Chevelle too, until she tossed her cookies in the backseat. Fun times for Jon.
There always seemed to be muscle cars around when I was a kid, a 1968 Camaro that Jon rolled in a ditch, and I seem to remember 1973 or 1974 Olds Omega or Buick Apollo that he had. Nancy said he had another Chevelle as well, but I don’t remember it. I seem to remember Nancy driving a dark green 1970’s Monte Carlo. And her little brother Tim had a 1970 Chevelle that was really cool, too. But out of all of those, I remember that Halloween styled Chevelle the most.
Okay, so that is the beginning of my relationship with a 1969 Chevelle. I still prefer a 1970, but when I saw that one for sale online it certainly brought back a lot of memories for me. And then it was gone.
I saw the car online last Sunday, and even shared the website listing with my buddy Carl, who tells me he had a 1968 Chevelle (did everyone have a Chevelle?!) who also thought it was a top-notch looking car. The next day I went for an afternoon walk and saw another Hugger Orange ’69 parked in a local’s garage. That thing looked like a non-SS Malibu, but it definitely looked like it was a 1/4 mile dragstrip terror. These ’69 Chevelles seemed to be haunting me! So when I got back home, I decided that I would contact them and inquire about the car, maybe get a little more information, like maybe see a video of it driving. But as I pulled up the webpage it wasn’t there. I can’t even find a picture of it to share. It’s not listed as “recently sold,” so I can only assume that it was and the website will be updated soon. I figured that one would go quickly. Out of luck once again.
But all is not lost. A few weeks ago I saw a post for an online-only, no reserve, no buyer fee auction being held near the border of Illinois and Iowa. At this auction is a couple of collections that have some really nice looking muscle cars including a 1970 Chevelle SS convertible.
This auction company typically auctions farm equipment and farmsteads and the occasional group of classic cars. They claim that they have been auctioning cars since 2006 and have always sold cars without reserve. I looked at some of their past auctions and nothing that was sold was all that great. But this collection of cars seems very good.
Auctions make me a little nervous. First, I won’t be able to go see the car in person unless I make the time to do so and that isn’t going to happen. I’ll have to rely on the info they promise is coming soon. Secondly, the whole issue with paying for it and going and picking it up when the auction ends makes me anxious.
Listen to me talk like I’m going to end up with the winning bid. If I am aware of this car, I’m certain there are lots of others that are aware of it as well. I’m on the tenth edition of this search, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to end with number eleven.
IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XIII
Most of my inspiration for the topics for this post comes from the time I am in the saddle riding my long Saturday rides and trust me, I’m doing a lot of thinking on those three-hour-long or more rides. This week is no different. Here some thoughts and things that happened this week.
I should have kept the Ironman-O-Meter from last week turned on this week and asked it if I was I going to keep riding the same old route out west of home to Elwood because I was getting a little tired of doing that route, and sure enough I changed it up this week and rode east on the bike trail to head south toward Peotone and then west from there. I usually ride the Elwood route on training days of less than 3 hours as it takes less than 1.5 hours to get there. I can ride much farther on the other route. I’m sure I will get sick of that pretty soon in the seventeen weeks that are left too. But it was a nice change of pace that refreshed my mind.
As I was riding the Old Plank Trail that heads east I quickly became perturbed at the amount of inconsiderate users that were starting to dominate the trail. They walk three or more wide, they ride in groups and pass with oncoming riders, and that’s just a few complaints. It used to be dominated by the regulars like me who put fear into those who came out on the trail, but how the tables have turned. When I first started triathlons and began riding a lot I was very glad to have the trail available to me, but soon realized that it wasn’t very safe for me to be on it. Too many people not following the few simple trail rules so that we can all get by without impacting each other. I soon realized that I felt safer riding on the roads than I was on the trail. I’m fortunate to live in an area of Chicagoland where north of me has everything the city can offer, and immediately south of me is pretty much a farmer’s paradise. I just need to find a quiet set of streets to get me to where I need to go without using the OPT. Sad that a cyclist doesn’t want to bike on a bike trail.
I was very fortunate to be about 1/10th of a mile from home when my rear tire started going down. I heard a pop and some hissing just as I was getting to my road and was able to coast it easy back home. Inspection of the tire revealed a small rock to have punctured the sidewall all the way through to the tube. I guess it’s time to switch to the new Continental 5000’s that I have been avoiding.
Thursday was an interesting day. I work as a non-sworn employee in a police department and we did the Torch Run as a group. Several of us had done it already virtually, as was suggested by the event organization, so for me, this was just to join the gang and be part of the team. Or to please the chief.
It was a bike day so I decided to bike to work, change into running shoes and then run and ride back home. We all did the required two miles, but I decided to add a third time trial mile just to see where my short distance speed stands since all I ever do is easy paced distance running. I turned a 6:35 mile and was pleasantly surprised. I think if I just focused on speed I could probably get under 6 minutes for a mile if I pushed hard. But that is not my goal right now, and I shouldn’t do dumb things.
Swimming is going well and I feel like I am getting more comfortable and stronger in the water, but I am thinking of maybe doing an hour-long swim on my Monday rest day instead of doing the Tu-Thu 30-minute swims. Monday seems like it needs something, and having to swim after a bike or run always gives me leg and foot cramps. I will consider it. Sixty minutes is a long time to be bored to death swimming back and forth in the pool. Swimming sucks.
My Sunday long run ended the week with a nice conversation with a couple other runners I met along the way. Mary and her husband Chris were both wearing Ironman visors as was I and we quickly started talking about Ironman and what races we were doing and what we thought was going to happen. I was surprised she knew of my son and it was a nice change to have someone to run at my pace and talk with. Super nice people. We ran for about 2-3 miles together and then went our separate ways.
One last thought that I have been thinking about this week is my commitment to training for Ironman Louisville in October as I have been doing this past thirteen weeks and what will I do if it gets canceled. I have said since the Covid-19 thing started that I will train like it is going to happen, and that hasn’t changed. Ironman has not yet been told by the City of Louisville to cancel the race. However, I drew a line in the sand this week. If the race does get canceled before the midway point of Week 15, then I will stop following the plan for Ironman and just spend my week swimming, biking, and running as I see fit. I will probably shift my focus to more long-distance running and restart my training for the elimination ultra-marathon that got moved from April to October. However, if the race is still on after I pass Week 15, I will continue to train for it. If the event then does get canceled for 2020 before race day, then I will try to do it on my own at home or up at the lake house in Minocqua sometime around Week 27 or 28 in the training plan. I would hate to see twenty or more weeks of training be for nothing, so that is the plan. Maybe I can talk my Gunner buddies into doing it with me. The Gunner Ironman! I’ve already got the t-shirt theme for it:
IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC and SOCIAL UNREST!– PART XII
Lots of questions have been going through my mind lately, so I thought I would break out the old “Ironman-O-Meter” (patent pending) and see if it can provide some insight to what the heck is happening.
Question Number 1: Will this race be held in October as expected?
Ironman-O-Meter says:About a 15% chance. I was at a 10% chance of it happening about a month or so ago, but I am just a little more optimistic about it than before mainly because of what Ironman Corp. is doing planning-wise. Although they have canceled or postponed many of the spring races, they have moved several to the fall. I take that as a good sign, mainly because they want the races to occur as long as they can be done in a safe fashion for everyone. A lot of the cancelations come as directives from the host cities that are sticking to state guidelines for dealing with Covid-19. USA Triathlon and Ironman have both come out with safe practice policies recently that will allow us to race more cautiously, so that is a little more promising. There are plans to eliminate a lot of the social event things that Ironman does for a race, as well as making the race more athlete self-supported. I may be forced to carry my own nutrition on the bike and run instead of having well-stocked aid stations which is not a big deal. I train that way all the time. The City of Louisville, where the race will be held has had some social unrest due to a shooting recently, but I hope the crisis will settle down by fall. I would think that with the losing out on summer and fall sports, Louisville might welcome us dopes on spokes.
Question Number 2: What chance is there of me joining a group ride with the local bike group?
Ironman-O-Meter says:About a 25% chance. A group ride opportunity popped up on Facebook for Saturday that almost looked perfect for me, but I took a pass on it. This is the same group of great people that I accidentally came upon riding last week and joined in, and I enjoyed some company for a change. I feel a little safer on some rides in a group because groups tend to be more visible to traffic. But very few of these riders are training for Ironman and the couple that may be training probably aren’t following the same plan that I am. What happens when I join the group is that my prescribed ride usually goes out the window. First to go is the tempo, which is almost always faster than the Z2 zone ride that I should be doing. And secondly, the distance usually ends up being farther than what my plan called for. Lastly, the ride can sometimes turn into a testosterone-fueled ride, with someone trying to be the big dog. That someone is usually me. It’s probably better that I skip the extra tempo, distance, and one-upmanship and stick to my solo ride. The first rule of the Be Iron Fit training plan is to follow the plan. The second rule is to FOLLOW THE TRAINING PLAN.
Question Number 3: Will all dog owners say that their dog is friendly while it’s growling and baring its teeth at me?
Ironman-O-Meter says:100% of the time, every time. While doing my Tuesday run I came upon a guy and his two little kids walking his dog off-leash in the nature preserve where the posted sign says pets aren’t allowed. This dog did exactly what off-leash dogs do in public, he approached me very aggressively, with snarling and barking and got close enough where I took my pepper spray off the safety and was ready to unload it on him. Now, I don’t want to spray the dog. He’s just doing what dogs do. But I also don’t want to get bit either! The owner quickly yelled at the dog “What’s the matter with you?” like it was the dog’s fault he was off-leash in public. A sorry was tossed my way as the guy retrieved the leash from his 6-year-old and I turned and finished climbing the hill. On the way back down a few minutes later I encountered him again and although still not leashed, he was being held by the owner. That’s when the guy says “Sorry, he’s really a friendly dog.” Yeah, sure looked friendly to me. Every damn time.
That’s enough questions for the Ironman-O-Meter for now. I don’t want to blow any circuits. Thanks to Rebecca and Emily helping me design the Ironman-O-Meter. It may need some tweaking, but it did the job.