Grading Myself

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 16 – June 20, 2021

Happy Father’s Day!  

I was enjoying the company of my children on this humid Father’s Day and was proud of how their young lives had turned out so far. I know my wife deserves most of the credit because she is an awesome mother, but I would like to think that I had done pretty well as a role model too.

My son was discussing his recent workouts and how he was just hoping to get “B’s” on them. Which prompted me to ask why was he getting B’s on his runs?  I would have thought that he would not have been happy with any effort that wasn’t an A.  Ben and his girlfriend Emily usually are pretty high achievers regarding their running and to give himself a B seemed like he was being a little too hard on himself.

I thought about the 10-mile run I had done earlier in the day and wondered how I would score it. Ben asked if I thought I had met the goals of the workout. Did I do the distance or time I intended to do? Yes, I did ten miles in about 93 minutes. Did I run at the effort I hoped to run? Sure did, I managed to keep myself in the zone that I had intended. And did I feel good afterward? I guess so, I wasn’t too beat or too dehydrated and had a sense of accomplishment of getting in ten miles on a day in which I was soaked to the bone from the humidity. So I guess I get an A. Yay!

But do all of my workouts get A’s? I don’t think they do. I sometimes will push out of the zone or do more or less of the workout than the plan calls for, so for those instances, I guess maybe grading myself after the workout may be beneficial. Or at least think about the grade I want prior to doing the workout. If you are looking for A’s every time, then thinking about the objectives of the run or bike workout prior to doing it may be a smart move.

Ben and Emily were happy with B’s because being new homeowners and having busy work lives were making their run efforts take a backseat to the more important things at hand. And they don’t really have many running goals right now, so just putting in some miles and getting by with a B was working for them.

I’m going to be looking to get some more A’s in the weeks to come.

Swims:  2 – 2600 yards

Bikes:  3 –  87 miles

Runs:  5 –  30 miles

image

Limping It In At The Half-way Point

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 15 – June 13, 2021

Nothing makes a summer go by quicker than training for an Ironman.  Fifteen weeks are in the books and it went by in the blink of an eye.  Being halfway through the training plan is definitely a milestone, but it’s only halfway in time only.  The workload in the first fifteen weeks are pretty tame compared to what is coming in the second fifteen weeks.  There’s a lot of work yet to do.

I was cruising along just fine this week until Thursday, when I had a trip to the dentist to have a couple of old fillings replaced and to add to college fund for his kids.  Later that day I suffered through a 24-hour stomach bug which kept me from work on Friday.  On Saturday, I declared myself fine and geared up to go on a four-hour ride on a hot day and paid for it.  I was not nearly recovered enough from the dehydration from being sick and once again weakened myself.  I felt fine enough, but after a dinner of some Mexican food (I don’t make good decisions), the stomach bug thing seemed to make a come back.  It knocked me down again and I was unable to function on Sunday.  I got up and put on my running gear, foolishly thinking that I could go run for 90-minutes, but I could barely keep awake.  Instead of getting in that Sunday long run, I opted to watch four hours of the French Open.  That wore me out, too!

So, I finished the first half of the plan with a little bit of a dud, but I am determined to bounce back.  I’m looking forward to the remaining summer of training and hoping that it doesn’t go buy so quickly that I miss the summer.

Swims:  2 – 3000 yards

Bikes:  3 –  101 miles

Runs:  2 –  11 miles

image

Week 14 Hitting Hard

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 14 – June 6, 2021

Most of my subject matter for these weekly write-ups comes from the long Saturday bike ride.  That’s when I do most of my thinking, as I sit on a bike and sweat through 3.5 hours of riding.  But when I sit down on Sunday to wrap up the week, I sometimes can’t recall anything about what I was thinking about on the previous days’ ride.

There were a couple of notable things about this week. I added an 8.5 mile run on my off-day Monday because I was traveling last Sunday and decided to push it to Monday, so Week 13 is short one run, and Week 14 added an extra one. Not a big deal, but that meant I would be doing back-to-back run days.

On Thursday, I raced a 5K, which beat me up a little. And also lead to moving a planned ride to Friday, which would precede the long ride on Saturday. So basically, I was messing with the structure of the plan and screwing up built-in recovery between bike and run efforts. On Saturday, I could feel some fatigue in my thighs when I started.

I made a couple of tactical mistakes on Saturday. The ride was to be 3.5 hours long, so I needed to ride out for an hour and 45-minutes, but thankfully the wind was in my face heading out, so I figured I’d add an extra 5-minutes into the wind to compensate for the easier and faster return trip. That was a pretty good estimation, but as I kept hitting 20mph riding back home I thought I would need to add a little more extra time to the return trip. As I got closer to home I could tell that I should have skipped the extra couple of miles. I finished the ride in 3:37 instead of 3:30. Again, not a big deal, but I realized that if I ever need to add on to make time, it’s better to do it nearer to home instead of out in the middle of the ride.

The second mistake was not drinking enough to replace what I was sweating out. It was a hot day, and although I thought I was drinking enough, I really wasn’t. I have to learn this lesson over and over every time I train for an Ironman. When I finished the 61-mile ride, I was suffering and was contemplating skipping the 30-minute run that I was supposed to do. Somehow I found the strength to get it done. Afterward, I wondered and marveled at how I was able to handle the heat at the 2019 Ironman Chattanooga, which was a much longer day in much tougher heat. I guess that is what training, building, and acclimating are for. Live and learn, and drink more!!!

~~~

I have to brag on my son Ben for a minute. He came down for a visit on Friday and mentioned that he thought about running the 5K that I had run but instead, he opted to run a 3K (I know, weird distance) in Rockford because there was a $300 prize for the winner like he was sure that he could win. He won and later said it was an easy win. 5:08 min/mile pace is what he averaged. I wish I had some of that speed! Well done, son!

Swims:  2 – 3000 yards

Bikes:  3 –  92 miles

Runs:  6 –  33 miles

image

2021 Chasing the Sun 5K Race Report

When:  06/03/2021

Where:  New Lenox, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  22:20 – 19th Overall – 12/124 Place Male Overall – 3rd Place M56-60 Age Group

Racing is back!  Not sure I am though.  After a year plus hiatus from racing due to the pandemic, I decided to join three of my coworkers and jump back into racing.  I felt some anxiety about participating in this race, which is the norm for me for any race, but it was mostly due to not really being prepared to race a 5K having done nothing but long and slow distance training for most of this year and last.  But I figured why not jump in and test my fitness a little, so I did.

I had checked the race results from 2019 and saw that I had a pretty good chance to possibly crack the top ten in this little local race, but when I got to the race I could clearly see that the competition was going to be strong.  People want to get back to racing I guess.  When I noticed that Tinley Track & Trail was well represented, I knew that a top ten finish was going to be a challenge.

I arrived and did my usual warm-up, and it didn’t take too long as the temps were in the low 80’s for this Thursday evening in June.  About five minutes prior to the start I took my place in the start area and waited for the gun.  Instead of a gun though, the girl starting the race gave some unclear message about starting the race when she starts the music.  Well, the music started and we where all like “do we go now?”  Someone took off, and the rest of us followed.

My plan was to try to stick with a guy named Rich from the Tinley T&T squad, as he is a little faster than me and would help me pace to my best effort.  Rich has become my main competitor (arch enemy) lately, as he is in my age group and I see him at most of the local races.

The race starts with a little uphill and then flattens off for a while.  When I noticed that I was running at 6:50 pace I tried to dial it back and settle in and also realized that I was once again hitting it too hard out of the gate.  That wasn’t my game plan, but I seem to always go out too fast for the first mile.  I clocked a 6:54 first mile and just shook my head.  Rich was still ahead of me but he was starting to build a little bit of a gap.

I used to have some dumb rules for myself about who not to let beat me in a race.  I need to add mom’s pushing baby strollers to the list, as two of them passed me in the second mile.  To their credit they were fit, but it sucks to get passed by anyone pushing a baby stroller!

The second mile came 7:19 and although that was a decent pace that should have been comfortable, it wasn’t because I had already burned all my matches in that first mile and that pace was being forced upon me.  I had driven the course earlier in the day because I was unfamiliar with it and saw that the last mile had a good drop but the last half-mile would be a climb uphill to the finish.  Once I made the turn onto that hilly portion I was maxed out.  I retook one of the stroller pushing moms but knew others were chasing me down.  I gave it my all but got passed by another runner named Kelly, who I know from the local running club.  But I was just glad to be finishing the last mile in 7:22 and coming in at 22:16, according to my watch.

The awards were quickly posted online and I could see that being third in my age group would not get me a medal for this race that only went two deep for the awards. Rich finished a half-minute ahead of me and I couldn’t quite match the pace at the end of another guy, who beat me by about ten seconds. Oh well, I need to be a little more prepared for next time and just be happy that racing has returned.  19th place out of 281 finishers isn’t so bad.

Summary:  Chasing the Sun 5K is a tough little course with lots of turns and challenging hills at the start and end.  I may keep this one on the calendar.  I kind of like races on weekday evenings.

Chasing the Sun 5K Results

Work First, Brag Later

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 13 – May 30, 2021

I snuck into last week’s post that I have signed up for a 100-mile ultra marathon, and I did that on purpose so to downplay it somewhat.  For some reason, I am reluctant to discuss a big event like that without first doing it.  I felt the same way when I did my first Ironman in 2013.  Sure, I told people, but I felt that until I finished the race I wasn’t comfortable talking about doing it because I wasn’t sure that I actually could do it.  Ironman has taught me a few things about myself, and it’s motto of “Anything is Possible” is something I have learned to apply to myself.  Ironman gave me confidence to tackle some things that once seemed improbable or impossible for me, but until I do it I don’t want to make a big deal about it until it’s done.  Even these weekly training posts come after I have finished them, not before.

I did make some posts about the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing event I am still planning to do, but that seemed a little different to me.  It’s open-ended as far as distance is concerned, and I really just wanted to do enough to get me into that rare ultra finisher area.  My goal is seemingly attainable and I don’t fear failing.  100 miles of running, however…  that’s new territory for me.

I told my number 1 fan Carl that I was trying to keep that I am doing this race on the “down-low,” mainly because I fear that there may be a chance that I fail at it.  But what is worse, saying that I was going to try to do it and fail, or not do it at all?  I guess there’s no harm in saying that I will be in the field and attempting what most see as a pretty impressive feat, but I would rather brag about it afterward rather than build it up beforehand.  There’s a saying in Ironman, and I am paraphrasing:  Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, brag for a lifetime.  The bragging comes at the end, not at the beginning.

My plan is to keep training toward the goal, and when I get more confident through training and closer to the race, I may open up a bit and talk about it.  I find the thought process of training for an ultra to be interesting, so I may want to share those experiences.  But until then, I’m shutting up about it until it’s actually time to pat myself on the back.

~~~

I got my first swim of 30-minutes in this week, and it reminded me that swimming is my worst portion of triathlon.  I need to slowly build to getting some swim conditioning back, and now that the pool is open that will happen.  Just need the weather to stop going from 80’s to the 50’s, which is what kept me out of my planned Thursday swim.  Brrrrr

My back has still been problematic.  It will get better, then I will overdo it and have it get sore again.  This week ended with a trip to my lake home, so I was a little worried about overdoing it with the yard work that needed to be done. I skipped the Saturday workout and did it on Sunday. It was nice to do some biking in a different location for a change. The ride resulted in a big bonk and I struggled a bit, but I got the 3-hour ride and 30-minute run done. I will do the 1.5-hour run on Monday Memorial Day but that run will be in next week’s totals.

Taking a minute to enjoy the view and contemplate why I do this dumb sport.

Swims:  1 – 1400 yards

Bikes:  3 –  74.5 miles

Runs:  3 –  10 miles

image

I Wonder… About Week 12

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 12 – May 23, 2021

I spend a lot of time wondering about things out there on my swims, rides, and runs. Here are some wonderings about Week 12.

I wonder… why Week 12 is a dial-back week in training? It seems like we just started the new build phase, and two weeks into it I get an easier week. I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I wonder… what it’s like to be a farmer? As I ride through the rural farmland just south of Chicago it appears that the farmers have gotten really busy in the past week. The dirt has been turned, some small green sprouts are emerging from the fields, and there has been plenty of tractor traffic on the roads that I ride. But as I watch them go about doing farmer things, I wonder if it is fun or difficult work.

I wonder… why casual cyclists don’t bother with helmets or even eye protection when they ride? The bugs are starting to come out and I have had several hit me in the face with enough force to sting. I certainly wouldn’t want to have one hit me in the eye. And to the guy wearing a helmet without it buckled – it’s not going to help you out if it falls off your head as you crash. Seems like common sense.

I wonder… why I don’t pre-hydrate more? It’s getting warm and I need to hydrate more through the day instead of after working out. Playing catch-up with hydration is more work than just being more hydrated before and during the workout.

I wonder… where this speed on the bike is coming from all of a sudden? Two longer rides this week had averages of 18.2 mph when I normally sit around 17 mph. Plus I felt pretty good through those rides as well. Hopefully, it wasn’t just the tailwinds on the second half of the rides making me speedy.

I wonder… how many more of these Ironman races I will do? I didn’t do the first one in Wisconsin with a goal of getting to Kona, and unless I can somehow fit a total of twelve races in my remaining time as an aging triathlete, I’m not sure if I can accomplish that. I’m not sure if I even want to do Kona. There are some other things I would still like to experience before I’m well into my sixties.

I wonder… what it’s like to run a 100-mile ultra? Doing that seems as hard as completing an Ironman. I do still have my backyard ultra on the calendar for August, but since I’m doing Chattanooga I kind of figured that I would just use it as a run training day and probably won’t go more than 30-40 miles.

I wonder… if the training for Ironman would be enough to train me for a 100-mile ultra-running race?

I wonder… if I should fess up and tell the wife that I am signed up for the Tunnel Hill 100 Mile Ultra in November?

I wonder… if I should stop wondering before it gets me into more trouble?

~~~

I opened the pool this week as it was predicted to be near 90 degrees for several days. It was a good move I think, and it only took 2-3 days to get it swimmable.  Now I have no more excuses for not swimming.  Yay.

I also saw this coyote on my Saturday bike ride.  I think we each surprised each other.

Swims:  1 – 1000 yards

Bikes:  3 – 78 miles

Runs:  5 – 21.5 miles

image

I Was Spineless, But Now I’m Back

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 11 – May 16, 2021

To “throw your back out” is an interesting phrase. To me, it’s somewhat of a dumb way to describe a strained lower back because it doesn’t make any sense. How does one “throw” his back anywhere? Can you throw out your ankle? Can you throw out your wrist? Would the younger generation of today say it differently? “Bruh, I yeeted my back.” I guess it’s just one of those things people say and everyone gets it.

Anyhow, I’m not sure exactly how I threw my back out but here is what I think contributed to it: On Sunday I drove seven hours to Nashville to pick up my kid from college, packed up her junk, slept on a hotel bed, drove seven hours back home on Monday, unpacked her junk, mowed the grass, slept on own my bed, and yet the old back was still with me.

I started my run on Tuesday feeling fine, not even a twinge or hint of what was to come. About a half-mile into it though I could sense my back starting to ache. At a mile, it was bugging me, but that didn’t stop me from adding the five 1-minute pace pick-ups. Why would I do something sensible like skipping those? But I didn’t do any particular thing to cause it to hurt, I was just running.

heres-the-windup-and-the-pitch-hes-thrown-his-back-out

When I got home it was aching pretty badly. I did the typical things to make it feel better, but it was hurting. On Wednesday, I was hoping to be able to get my workout in, but after a rough night trying to sleep the old back was not doing so well. I took a pain pill that I had kept from when my kid had her wisdom teeth pulled, and that definitely took the edge off. But since the dog needed to go to the vet, and the fact that I couldn’t even put my socks on meant that I should probably rest it.  So I skipped the Wednesday bike/run brick workout.

Unknown-1

Thursday I went ahead and did my bike ride and felt okay with it, although I thought I might also be throwing out my calf muscles because they were cramping up like crazy on that ride. Why do I do this dumb sport?

Another restless night preceded a Friday in which it actually felt worse than it did Wednesday and Thursday. Why does throwing your back out hurt so bad?

images

I struggled through work but did a little back and leg stretching, as well as some hanging from the workout machine in our workout room, as my coworker Tom said that would work. And although my back was still hurting a little, I felt like I would try to do my 60-minute run.

Unknown

And as I ran it seemed like the run wasn’t making it worse. Matter of fact, I actually felt very little backache when I finished. I think I just invented a new saying: I threw my back IN!

Interesting… running was the cause of and cure to my aching back!

59lu8f

Swims:  0

Bikes:  2 rides, 58.5 miles

Runs:  4 runs, 23 miles

One-Third Into the Training

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 10 – May 8, 2021

Ten weeks into the 30-week Ironman training plan and feeling great!  It goes by quickly!  It’s kind of scary actually, knowing that the base phase is over and I am now heading into the build phase.  But the next ten weeks is nothing new for me, I know what to expect and I look forward to training well into the summer and enjoying some good weather for a change.  

Speaking of the weather, it’s been a typical up and down spring so far.  There’s been a lack of rain, but if it’s not rain forcing me indoors it’s a cold day doing it. This week had a couple of good days and I took advantage of them.  I had a good run on Friday, swapping out the planned hour long run with Sunday’s 1.5-hour long effort.  I’m traveling on Sunday to Nashville, so I made sure I got my long run in.  

I joined the local group for a ride out to the Monee Reservoir and surrounding areas on Saturday.  It was a little chilly but I warmed up well.  I tend to push myself harder in the group rides basically trying to keep up with my idol Charlie, but I will allow getting out of my comfort zone and not follow the plan every once in a while.  Charlie is out of the comfort zone every ride and kicks my ass.  Maybe I should do that more often.  

Off to Nashville to pick up my Vanderbilt kid, Rebecca.  She’s 1/4 done with college!  It goes by quickly.

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 rides, 87.5 miles

Runs:  3 runs, 19.25 miles

I’m In The Cool Kids Club

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 9 – May 2, 2021

This week I received a validation of sorts for my participation in the sport of running. It wasn’t in the form of a medal or seeing my name or picture in the paper, or a job well done from my running peers. No, it came in the form of a laughing emoji. I was Benfer-ed. Jane Benfer-ed.

I belong to a trail-running Facebook page and responded with an answer to a question about running shorts, as the poster was looking for suggestions. When I was mindlessly looking at my notifications later on I was surprised to see this:

img_0291

Who the heck is Jane Benfer you ask? Well, in the long-distance running world Jane Benfer is somewhat of a troublemaker. She’s a troll. And she trolls by reacting to running posts on Facebook with a laughing emoji. She’ll occasionally rant about some running-related topic as well. She likes to claim that marathons, ultras, and other running-related events are faked. I’m not sure what set her on the path of belittling others, but she has become slightly legendary.

Jane Benfer’s real name is Risa Reid, an ultra runner (or a former one) herself albeit someone with a little notoriety. The running community is somewhat divided over her. There are Facebook pages of devotees and Twitter followers looking for a laugh, but most believe that she is either harmless or has some mental health issues.

I guess there’s no harm about someone doling out laughing emoji’s to posts, but sometimes she will take to stalking someone and follow their page and fill it with her dumb laughing emoji. Some will block her, others will report her, and even I have reservations about even using her name much like that of Harry Potter and “He Who Must Not Be Named.” I’m kind of crossing my fingers that I don’t become a target as I write and post this blog.  

I messaged my runner friend Jodi and she reacted as if it was the most awesome thing that could happen to me. She’s been Benfer-ed too.  I guess that I can laugh it off and count it as a sort of initiation into the cool kids club, but it kind of made me paranoid, and I will definitely be checking my posts to see who reacted with a laughing emoji from now on.  It’s a weird feeling being Benfer-ed.

~~~

It’s now May and a couple of friends with pools have already opened their pools. I think that I will do that soon. If I wait too long I will be dealing with a black lagoon again.  But I’m resisting opening it because that will just mean that I will start having to do swim workouts.  

I’m still dealing with a little bit of a strained calf, although I got through most of my runs this week without too much issue. It flared up again on Tuesday, but it was fine for the 1.5-mile run I did on Wednesday. On Friday, I slowed my usual training pace of 8:45 min/mile to roughly 10 min/mile and I had no problems with it. The long run of 8.5 miles on Sunday also went well, albeit at a nice leisurely pace.  I did replace my shoes with a new pair, so that may also help me.  The Rincon’s I was running in lack the cushioning that the Clifton’s possess.  I hope it heals up and is normal again soon. I want to race some sprints and 5K’s this year.

Shout out to a couple of friends I saw out on the trail Sunday:  Hey Karen!  I hope you enjoyed that windy Sunday ride with the group.  And another big hello to Laura McGivern, who was walking in the forest preserve with a group and gave me an emphatic hello!  

And if Jane Benfer wants to deny that I did my Sunday run, I’m sure both Karen and Laura will vouch for me.

images

 

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 rides, 73.5 miles

Runs:  4 runs, 23 miles

 

Regretfully Inspiring Others

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

download

WEEK 8 – April 26, 2021

I’m a day late with this post thanks to a weekend trip to the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, that in a matter of three days my wife and I experienced spring, summer, and winter.  That time of the year I guess.

This week a coworker of mine, Tom, took the plunge and signed up for his first triathlon – a 70.3 distance event in Indiana in October.  I always feel pretty good about inspiring others to join in on the fun I have doing this dumb sport.  It took a few years of working there to get someone to give triathlon a try.  Actually, my supervisor Micah may have been the first to do a one, but I think he had already participated in one or two before, so I am not sure I can take credit for his misery.  With the pride comes a little regret, however, because this sport is going to be a shock to him.  He’s a total newbie, and he thinks he’s going to win.  Well, that’s a little bit of a stretch.  His brother also signed up, and his brother is the one who thinks he will win, and Tom won’t let his little brother win, therefore, Tom thinks he will win.  Follow me?

Tom texted me with his exciting news that he had signed up.  I asked him if he had thrown up yet.  He replied that his heart had started racing and that he’s nervous.  I replied with a laughing emoji and that his reaction is pretty normal. I’m not sure if that made him feel any better.

I say I have a little regret about inspiring him to take on a half-iron distance race, and that is mainly due to knowing what he is up against.  First of all, he has a bike (that I sold to him) and a pair of Under Armor running shoes.  Tom played football, and football players wear Under Armor.  At least that covers the bare minimum.  He said that he was in shock from the cost of the race, and add to the fact that he is redoing his kitchen right now, he’s really going to be in shock from cost everything else he will and might need:  a helmet, a trisuit, cycling shoes, a wetsuit, tires, etc.  Plus he is dealing with an upper leg injury that may impact his training.

But don’t fret, Tom.  I’ll be there to help you out in anyway that I can.  Whatever equipment that I have that will fit your body you can use.  Come on over to my house to swim.  I’ll gladly give you unqualified advice on how to not drown.  And I will answer any other questions that you may have.  We’ll do some training together, and I will do my best to help you beat your brother and win the race.  Well, I can kind of promise that you’ll finish.  And that will be an awesome thing.

~~~

This was a little bit of a pull-back week for me in the plan.  The weather forced some of my training indoors and I did some easy treadmill runs and found that the leg injury from last week seems to be okay now.  I did aggravate it a little on Saturday when I ran a little too hard.  I’m cramping in my calf muscles when I push hard on the bike, so there may be causation there with the running injury.  I will dial back the intensity for a while.  There are 22 weeks to go, no sense in burning myself out now.

Swims: 0

Bikes: 3 – 62 miles

Runs: 3 – 13 miles

Posted on