One Week To Go!

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 29 – September 19, 2021 

29 weeks down, 1 week to go!  I’ve gone from Week 1 back in March and doing my workouts inside, to seeing farm fields go from untilled dirt, to not being able to see around turns due to the corn being fully grown.  I’ve gone from being mentally burned out, to being very atuned to how great I feel.  I’ve been so far from being ready, to feeling like I’m ready to rock this race.  All it took was a day to day effort, following a great plan for the fifth time, and having the support of my Gunner teammates and the local friends that have been very instrumental in making this training block pleasurable.  Let’s roll!

Last “long” ride of the training before the race. I had to wait for a choo-choo while training for Choo.

 

I try to plan out a race day plan for myself and in 2019 it became very clear that the day would be about surviving the heat.  It was a scorcher and I won’t ever forget it.  I don’t really try to worry too much about the weather or water temperatures for race day, but after 2019 I’m not ignoring it either.  So when a couple of casual checks of the long-range forecast revealed that the temperature might be in the 70s and sunny, well that changes my mindset a little.  I may be going from planning to pace an Ironman to racing it instead.  It means instead of a 16.5 mph average on the bike to maybe an 18 mph average.  It means that I may be able to run a sub-4.5 hour marathon instead of something over 5 hours.  I’m definitely bringing the wetsuit, like always.  But last time I knew I wasn’t going to be using it.  This time?  There might be a wetsuit legal swim for the first time in Choo history.  We’ll see, I’m not holding my breath, but it would be awesome if it was.

So, let’s wrap up these 29 weeks and get ready for race week.  Here’s a summary and a link to all previous weeks.  I’ll give you a virtual medal for going back and reading all these blogs.  

Week 1 – Getting pumped for Ironman #5!  PUMP IT UP!

Week 2 – Yeah, I eat junk food.  Who doesn’t?  I’M SHOCKED!

Week 3 – A little optimistic that I was 1/10 done with training.  One Tenth Done

Week 4 – Ended March with some unexpected motivation.  Inspiring Motivation

Week 5 – A cold ride brought out the MacGuyver in me.  Three Plastic Bags and a Popped Balloon

Week 6 – Trying to recall some meaningless training info.  I Can’t Remember

Week 7 – A calf injury had me a little concerned.  Running Injury? A Minor Inconvenience

Week 8 – Feeling guilty about inspiring others to join in this dumb sport.  (not really)  Regretfully Inspiring Others

Week 9 – Roared into May with a light-hearted post.  I’m In The Cool Kids Club

Week 10 – Glad to hit the 1/3 done mark.  One-Third Into the Training

Week 11 – Back soreness had me worried.  I Was Spineless, But Now I’m Back

Week 12 – Wondering and thinking can lead to some crazy ideas.  I Wonder… About Week 12

Week 13 – I had to remind myself that you can’t have the reward without the journey.  Work First, Brag Later

Week 14 – Sort of an odds and ends week.  Week 14 Hitting Hard

Week 15 – Not a great finish to 15 weeks of training.  Limping It In At The Half-way Point

Week 16 – I gave myself a gold star for this week.  Grading Myself

Week 17 – Torch Run with the coworkers, and the start of vacation.  Ins and Outs of Week 17

Week 18 – Foot injury and vacation meant let the training slide a little.  Vacation Overrules Training

Week 19 – I had issues this week, some good, some bad, some ugly.  The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Week 20 – An off-road tri, and things we triathletes fear.  Fear, Part… III

Week 21 – My friend Tom takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  Rub Some Dirt On It

Week 22 – Couldn’t do this dumb sport without her.  My Coach Wife

Week 23 – Swapping the weeks around.  An Easy Week?

Week 24 – My first 50K ultra; thinking less about Ironman.  Field of Dreams

Week 25 – Trying to get something out of training instead of doing the opposite.  Yielding a Better Return

Week 26 – I know I don’t have to do this dumb sport, but I still do it.  By My Own Choosing

Week 27 – Had a pretty good training week to round out the endurance phase of training.  A Not So Dreadful Week 27

Week 28 – Some bike maintenance and the welcome of the taper.  Bring on the Taper!

And there you have it.  I’ll wrap up Week 30 in the Ironman Chattanooga race report.  Time to start packing and getting ready for Choo!

SWIMS: 3 – 3780 yards

BIKES: 3 – 67 miles

RUNS: 4 – 22 miles

 

Bring on the Taper!

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 28 – September 12, 2021 

The taper is here! I’m finally winding down the training and enjoying the feeling of accomplishing what I needed to do to get myself ready for my fifth Ironman. I’ve trained on cold days, hot days, windy days, rainy days, and beautiful days as well. I think that it’s okay to start celebrating the work that I have done even if I haven’t got to the starting line yet. So, after 27 weeks of building up to long bike rides and long runs, it’s time to start pulling back.

The band Boston certainly played a huge part in the soundtrack of my youth, and I still enjoy their music today. Of course, the first two albums were what made them, but their third album Third Stage was a big hit as well.

I’ve been hearing the song We’re Ready quite a bit lately on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind and I find one verse of the lyrics very fitting for this third stage of Ironman training.  I certainly feel like I’m ready.

We’re ready now
Catchin’ a wave to ride on
Steady now
Headin’ where we decide on
And I know that there’s something that’s just out of sight
And I feel like we’re trying to do something right
Come on make it if we hold on tight
Hold on tight
We’re Ready! C’mon we’re ready
We’re ready

There’s another song on that album called Cool The Engines, which is also very appropriate for the taper. I took advantage of the cooler weather this week and the lighter training load to push my pace a little bit. Maybe I just wanted to rev the engine somewhat. But in the back of my mind, I could hear my brain reminding me to not overdo it.

Take me for a ride
Take me all the way
Take me where I’ve never been
Someplace I can stay
Don’t get yourself too hot
Don’t get yourself too high
If we don’t take it easy now
We can kiss it all goodbye

Cool the engines
Red line’s gettin’ near
Cool the engines
Better take it out of gear

I’m no fool
Gonna keep it cool
Take it day by day
We won’t know where we might go
‘Til we make it all the way

So, it’s time for me to cool the engines and bring on the taper!  We’re ready!

~~~

I took the time on Friday to fix my rear brakes and to put on new tires and throw on Conti 5000’s for the first time.  The brakes are working well again, and the new tires were like floating on air on Saturday’s ride.

I rode with a group on Saturday and by the time we spread out I found myself riding mostly with Julie, whom I had never met before at these rides, but her pace and mine got us through Elwood and I enjoyed getting to meet another local rider.  Julie is an Ironman, and said she was training for Ironman Waco in October.  Good luck, Julie!

I have to take a moment and brag on my son Ben a little.  He ran a local half-marathon called the Hidden Gem and nailed a PR for himself – 1:16:34, a 5:51 pace!  My kid is smoking fast!  Great job, Ben!

I’m also excited to hear that another Gunner fence-sitter may have committed to joining Jeff, Jan, and I on this dumb idea.  YESSSSSSSS!

On Sunday I wrapped up my week with a 2-hour long run on mine and my wife Kari’s 29th wedding annniversary.  I’m so lucky to have shared 29 wedded years with this woman, and I look forward to many more!  I’m also very lucky she tolerates these adventures I go on.

SWIMS: 1 – 1500 yards

BIKES: 3 – 105.5 miles

RUNS: 5 –  32.5miles

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A Not So Dreadful Week 27

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 27 – September 5, 2021 

I usually refer to Week 27 of the Be Iron Fit Ironman training plan as the “Dreaded Week 27.”  It’s the toughest week in the 30-weeks of training, ending in a 6-hour bike ride with a one hour run right after it on Saturday, and a 3-hour long run on Sunday.  But I took a little sting out of it by basically doing that workout at the end of Week 26.  I did that for a couple of reasons.  First, the opportunity presented itself last Saturday to ride an extra half-hour when I rode with Susan and we were managing our effort very well, staying hydrated and fueled on a very hot day.  So as we got closer to getting back I just committed to it and it worked out fine.  Same with Sunday, I was feeling good and figured I would just go an extra 15-minutes and make it a full 3-hour run.  On the Friday before those two days I was somewhat dreading the weekend, but after getting out there and doing the extended portions and feeling good afterwards, it was a huge confidence builder for me.

Secondly, my wife Kari and I planned to head north to our lake home to enjoy some lake life and take care of some fall house and yard needs, and I thought that if I did the workouts a week ahead of time, I might not be so pressed for time or be so wornout if I swapped the planned workouts.  I may even cut the long Saturday ride and long Sunday run down and start my tapering a little earlier this time around.

Here’s how the Dreaded Week 27 went for me.

Monday is usually a rest day, and I usually putter around the house and do the things that get neglected during the week; catch up on laundry, mow the grass, get groceries, etc.  But after a couple of walks I was bored and thought why not do a swim.  So I put on some tri shorts and jumped in.  30-minutes is my typical swim workout, but I was feeling good so I pushed it to 60-minutes.  When I got to sixty I was still feeling pretty good, so I pushed it another half-hour, and before I knew it I had swum 4300 yards – covering the distance of an Ironman swim.  There was no tiredness, no calf or foot cramps, and really no boredom, which surprised the heck out of me.  Knowing that I can easily swim the 2.4 miles in my own backyard pool in 1.5 hours was a good feeling.  Oh sure, I have done the Ironman swim four previous times, so I know that I can do it.  But I still needed to train for each one of those previous attempts, and prove that it can be accomplished with smart training.  Could I actually be enjoying swimming?  Let’s not get carried away.

Tuesday ushered in a little bit less heat for the day and I ran at a time when there was a coolish breeze and it was overcast.  I did the 10-minute warm-up and then started in on the five 6-minute repeats.  I was pacing them pretty well.  My legs were a little sore at the start, but when I picked up pace I did so easily.  My turnover felt smooth and comfortable.  I felt like I was rocking it!  I skipped the swim due to the previous day’s effort, and opted to vacuum the pool instead.

Wednesday was quite a different day weather-wise than what I had last weekend.  Much cooler, with a strong northeast wind.  I hopped on the bike and was flying along heading south on my usual route.  I saw my buddy Charlie attempting to run on his two injured toes and wished him a good run.  I must have been averaging over 20 mph heading south, but turning around and coming back north was not fun.  The ride ended with a 18 mph average, so I guess I was doing okay.  A quick change to running shoes and it was off on a 30-minute run.  I didn’t feel the wind as much, but the cooler temperature had me running with a good tempo.  I like to use the Wednesday bike/run brick as a hard effort instead of staying in a Zone 2 heart rate zone.  It’s the one day I like to hit the gas.

Thursday ushered in another cooler day and the winds were better for me as well, which caused me to push myself a little more than I should of.  I could feel my calves tightening, but the 1.5-hour ride went well.  I jumped in the pool afterwards and tried to swim, but I was getting some calf cramps and called it a day after 21 minutes.

Friday I got in my 1.5-hour run and then jumped into the car with Kari to head to Wisconsin.

Saturday was rainy of course, but it wasn’t too bad, and after a hearty breakfast with Kari at Tula’s in Minocqua the rain was turning to a misty drizzle on its way to ending. I planned to do a 5-hour ride and I stuck to it. I headed down Hwy J towards St. Germain to pick up the trails and head into the beautiful Northwoods. I hadn’t even gotten a few miles into it and the wet road and what little leftover sprinkles had me pretty wet. But it was bearable and I kept pushing on. I had never went further than Boulder Junction before so I continued onward and found the trail toward Manitowish Waters to be beautiful.

I took a couple of minutes on the way back to stop and enjoy some scenery just west of Boulder Junction. The trail here was beautiful.

I was thinking of how much fun I was having and four hours of the ride was just perfect. The last hour, not so much. Back onto Hwy J I was greeted with hills and headwind and an overall lack of energy. At one point my thigh muscles started to cramp, which had never happened to me before. I decided to slow down and fuel and hydrate more and limp it home. I got off my bike and sat down and took a minute to watch my calf muscles twitch uncontrollably. Good times.

I decided to not do the 60-minute run after the bike after watching the twitching going on.

Sunday was beautiful. I had recovered enough from yesterday’s bike ride that I talked myself back into doing a long run after talking myself out of it during the latter portion of yesterday’s bike.

I headed to the Bearskin Trail in downtown Minocqua and before I realized it, I was was crashing a marathon and half-marathon in progress. It was fun to see the runners coming back in with determination on their faces. I ran out seven miles and turned around and headed back. There were spectators cheering me on, as they didn’t realize that I wasn’t in the race. I said, “I’m not in the race, but I love your enthusiasm!”

It wasn’t long and the 3:45 marathon pacer caught up to me as I was walking and taking a gel. He was encouraging everyone to join in, and after telling him that I was on a training run he still wanted me to pace with him. I ran with him chatting about my Ironman and ultra coming up and I then took a detour to avoid the finish line, as I already felt awkward being on the trail with the others. I made it home with an extra mile added due to the detour, making it 15 total miles and some fun memories of running with those runners. Maybe I will join them for real next year.

Time to enjoy some lake life one last time before pulling the boat out of the water for the season.

SWIMS: 2 – 5312 yards

BIKES: 3 – 130 miles

RUNS: 4 – 36 miles

By My Own Choosing

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 26 – August 29, 2021 

My coworkers are kind people and take a passing interest in what I do outside of work. As I train for my fifth Ironman, it’s pretty obvious at this point that my weekend will be filled with a long bike ride and a long run. This weekend would be no different, but the kicker is that it was going to be hot outside, with temperatures in the 90s. So when my coworker Tracy asked what I was doing this weekend I replied that I was biking for 5.5 hours and running for an hour on Saturday, and running for 2.75 hours on Sunday, with somewhat of a “not too excited to do this” tone in my voice.

Then Tracy went full mom mode – YOU KNOW YOU ARE DOING THAT AT YOUR OWN CHOOSING. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT!

I closed my eyes and shook my head. I almost felt like I was being scolded for doing the things I like to do. Yes, I know that I choose to train for an Ironman, and yes I know that it is hard sometimes, and yes I know that you mere mortals find it somewhat perplexing as to why any of us training for an Ironman would put ourselves through such miserable efforts and give away our weekends doing it. But I choose to do it because I like riding and running (swimming, not so much), and being an Ironman is a goal that I pursue because it empowers me. It changed my life.

Later that evening my family and I met my son Ben and “kind-of daughter-in-law” Emily (just get married already!!!) for a birthday dinner for Ben and I mentioned once again that I was dreading doing my long bike and run this weekend. And although Emily didn’t chastise me as harshly as Tracy did, she said the same damn thing – You know, you choose to do it – or something to that effect.

This time I chuckled, hearing the same admonishment twice in a single day, but what was surprising was that it was coming from Emily, who as a runner herself knows full well what it takes to do amazing things. Maybe the empathy I was expecting and didn’t get was the amusing part for me.

Oh well, I guess nobody cares that I choose to do this dumb sport in an extreme way on a very hot two weekend days. And sometimes the only person to impress worth impressing is me.

Another good ride with Susan on Saturday, and it was pretty much a repeat of last weekend except we both decided to add a little extra, and instead of doing the planned 5.5-hour ride, I ended up doing 6.25 hours and reached 100 miles. I followed up the ride with 6-miles on the treadmill because, well, I’m not dumb. It was insanely warm and humid outside. Smart move and I felt great after that long day.

On Sunday, I parlayed the success of Saturday into Sunday, adding some extra time to the run, running an extra 15 minutes to hit 3-hours. I’m still playing around with a run\walk ratio, and I added 15-seconds to the walk interval. I think that is a pretty good option right now, and I will keep toying with it on my long runs.

On to the dreaded Week 27, which won’t be so dreadful because I pretty much did that week’s workout this weekend. Getting closer to race day and feeling more ready every day.

Swims: 2 – 3000 yards

Rides: 3 – 146 miles

Runs: 5 – 42.3 miles

Yielding a Better Return

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 25 – August 22, 2021 

Every year or so the bank sends us a note about one of the CDs we have sitting in their bank making them money but hardly doing anything for us, and informs us that it’s maturing soon.  My wife will say “we should put this into something else and get a better return.”  I always reply that I’m good with that.  Then in a year, we get the same note telling us that our same CD is maturing again, because WE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT LAST TIME!  Then the wife and I will have the same converstation again.  It’s pretty funny, actually.

This week my friend Susan, who is also doing IM Choo, was looking for someone to ride with on the Saturday long ride.  I didn’t hesitate to offer to ride with her for a couple of reasons.  First, I was tired of riding alone and welcomed the company, and secondly, every long ride that I have done recently has ended in me overdoing it and bonking pretty hard at the end.  I was getting tired of that, so I decided to ride with Susan, provide her some company, and use her to keep me from riding out of my comfort zone.  There was definitely some give and take in this arrangement.

Now Susan is no slouch, she’s an Ironman and a good rider.  Both of us have been struggling with the mental aspect of training lately, and the physical aspect of training is partly the cause of that.  So I thought why not ride along, enjoy having company and good conversation with someone other than myself for a change.  And I’m so glad I did.

We decided to head west toward Elwood, Illinois, and play it by ear as to which direction to go once we got there.  I had only been over Route 52 into Elwood once before, and I was glad to have her show me the route to Brandon Road that everyone seems to love doing.  It was a nice ride with new things to look at for a change, and I certainly was enjoying that.  We turned around at two hours and headed back to the BP to refill our water bottles, and saw some more friends there doing the same thing.

Leaving the gas station, we headed back to the usual route east and Susan wondered where the road we were leaving actually headed.  I said, “I KNOW!”  and I suggested that we can loop back around that way.  Now I had a chance to show her an alternative to always going down Hoff Road.  We rode that way back to Elwood, stopped at the BP to refill our bottles once again, and then I decided I needed a bathroom break.  The BP staff told me that the bathrooms were unavailable at the moment, so no worries, we hopped on our bikes and rode ten minutes or so back to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery to use the facilities there.

Then the trip home started and I needed to add on a few more minutes so I did, and then worked hard to catch back up with Susan.  We rode back to where she parked her car, took a selfie, then I rode home and for the first time in quite a while, finished the ride feeling pretty good.  I quickly switched from biking to running gear and followed up the nearly 90-mile ride with a 6.25-mile run.  It was so nice not finishing a long Saturday workout and needing several hours of recovery.  It was a good day for me.

My friend Chalie was nice to praise me for “helping” Susan with her ride.  And even though I would do that for anybody, I was also doing it for myself, to be honest.  I realized that sometimes you might have to do something a little different than what you are used to in order to get something better.  Change it up and get a better yield.

Maybe I should do something about that CD this time around.

The creepy old guy and Susan. I’ll let Susan take the photos from now on.  All smiles after 5+hours of riding.  Thanks for letting me join you, Susan!

~~~

The Sunday long run went pretty well for me, too.  I started early to beat the heat of the day, and it wasn’t too bad of a morning.  I decided to try using a 5-minute run/1-minute walk interval to see how it went.  I’m starting to do these last few long runs in training for IM Choo with a nod to the ultramarathon that I will be attempting in November.  It was nice to break-up just straight running with a one minute walk break every five minutes.  That produced an average pace just under 10 minutes per mile, and 6 miles per hour.  That would be a pretty good pace, but I was running out of gas at the end, mainly due to the heat and the hills as I got closer to home and finishing the 2.5-hour run.  I may drop it to a 4:1 ratio and see how that goes.  I’m not sure that I can handle the pace needed for a sub-20 hour hundred mile run.

Swims: 2 – 3030 yards

Rides: 3 – 135 miles

Runs: 5 – 41.5 miles

Field of Dreams

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 24 – August 15, 2021 

This week, Major League Baseball hosted a “Field of Dreams” game featuring the Chicago White Sox (Go-Go Sox!) vs. the dreaded New York Yankees (suck it, Yankees), and the game didn’t disappoint. Its inspiration came from the 1989 Field of Dreams movie, and the game did its best to recreate the feeling of the narrative. I heartily enjoyed the game, but my kids, having not seen the movie, lacked the same enthusiasm that I did. So that led to watching the movie, of course.

The movie’s purpose for me is about finding what your true purpose is in life, and often I find myself thinking what my purpose is, especially when it comes to training and racing for Ironman. The first time is obviously about seeing if you can do it, the second or third time around it might be about setting a personal best. Subsequent races may just be for a new venue or experience. This go around with training seems to be lacking a purpose. I’m on the struggle bus, as my friend Jan said this week, but sometimes I feel like I’m driving the bus, too. I have a friend who is also struggling with motivation right now and I totally get it. We’re tired of the six-hour workouts on hot and humid Saturdays and giving up our weekends for the training.  I tried to offer some sage advice, and I hoped to provide a little incentive to keep going.  Maybe encouraging others to be awesome is my purpose.  

We have corn in Illinois, too. Just taking a moment to see if Shoeless Joe will walk out of the corn. Just kidding, I was urinating. Field of “Streams.”  And damn, when did I get so old?!

 

I often find purpose after the workout, when I’m done and the hay is in the barn, as they say. I like to pat myself on my back for a job well done, even if Saturday’s 5-hour ride/1-hour run brick did end in a bonk and a tough recovery. This last remaining six weeks will be tough, get tougher, then draw back on the intensity a little as we slide into race day. Then I believe the purpose of all the training will be clear. I’m going to be an Ironman. And even if it’s the fifth time for me proving that to myself, I will gladly look back on what I accomplished because no matter how many times I finish, it always feels special.

~~~

I was hoping that I wouldn’t be too beat up after running my first 50K last weekend, and the heat and humidity took a little bit of a toll again on Tuesday. We had some storms on Wednesday, which forced me inside and gave me a different perspective on my typical Wednesday workout. Thursday was back outside for a ride. But we got relief from the hot weather on Friday and I just clicked on a 1.5-hour run. That went real well and led into some even nicer weather for the weekend. I struggled a little on Saturday, as I mentioned above, but Sunday’s 14.5-mile long run was great. I seemed to bounce back pretty quickly.

I need to spend a little more attention to swimming, as I only got in one swim this week, but Chattanooga’s swim is very forgiving, and I’m not all that worried about it.

Here’s to some better fall weather on the horizon, and six more weeks of self-discovery until race day.  Keep moving forward!

Swims: 1 – 1500 yards

Rides: 3 – 128 miles

Runs: 3 – 40.5 miles

An Easy Week?

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 23 – August 8, 2021 

Last week I swapped Week 22 for Week 23 of the training plan so I could have an easy week leading up to Friday and my first attempt at an ultramarathon at the Big Hill Bonk – Wisconsin’s Backyard Ultra in Beloit, Wisconsin.  Thank goodness for that because the ultra was certainly a challenge for me.  The race recap follows this blog post.  I’ll be back with my usual pontificating about training next week.

So the easy Ironman training week ended with somewhat of a hard effort of running through the hills of Beloit and Big Hill Park.  Here are this weeks stats, which includes the long run on Friday/Saturday:

Swims: 2 – 3000 yards

Rides: 2 – 32 miles

Runs: 3 – 44 miles

 

My Coach Wife

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WEEK 22 – August 1, 2021 

I saw a post the other day on one of the triathlon groups I follow on Facebook and he asked if anyone else had a “coach wife” and I knew immediately what he was alluding to.  And I have the best coach wife in the business.

I’m not sure Kari intended to be a coach wife, she just kind of had the position forced upon her.  After watching me train and do races she just kind of learned about running and triathlon from the sidelines.  After I crashed and burned in the 2009 Rockford Marathon (3:43), which I ran alone without her or other family being there, it resulted in me taking a trip to the local hospital for an i.v. and a long walk of shame back to where I parked my car.  She swore after that happened that I would not be doing these things on my own anymore.

As I train for my fifth Ironman she is inquisitive about what I’m doing, especially on the weekend.  The other day she inquired about how long my Saturday bike would be and I said that I thought it was four hours.  “Again?  You’ve done the four-hour ride the past three weekends.”  I admitted that I was using a spreadsheet of the plan that my buddy Jeff shared with me, so I thought it could be a typo, but after checking the plan in the book, sure enough, the plan has three, four-hour rides in a row.  It is interesting how she picked up on that and I was just taking it for granted that it was correct.

Kari also began running and biking, and has learned even more about the sports and what they involve.  The funny thing is, she never asks about my input.  

Last night when I was turning in for the night, I looked at my watch as I laid it on the nightstand and wondered aloud if its 44% battery would be enough to get me through my planned five-hour ride.  Coach Kari immediately spoke up and said “Why don’t you just charge it?” knowing full well that my charge cord for it is right there next to the nightstand.  I didn’t debate with her or hesitate about it for even a second, I just grabbed the cord and plugged it in.  

There are numerous other examples, but in reality, it’s just her way of showing that she cares about me and my dumb adventures.  And I’m very glad to have a coach wife – make that the best coach wife ever.  

Cutest Coach Wife Ever!

~~~

I decided to swap Week 22 of the plan for Week 23 because I am doing the Big Hill Bonk – Last Runner Standing event next weekend and I wanted to take advantage of a taper week that Week 22 had in it.  

I started the week off pretty good, doing an open water swim with my coworker buddy Tom in Lake Michigan at Ohio Street Beach, Chicago.  It was a well-run event by Lifetime Fitness/Chicago Triathlon.  Tom got some great experience in some big, open water and also some well-earned confidence in being able to swim in those kinds of conditions.  I made him try my large Xterra wetsuit and I think that was a good experience as well.  He may do better in an XL, as he has more muscle than I ever will.  

A happy Tom after a great OWS in Lake Michigan.

 

On Thursday I got sick with some sort of stomach bug and it was bad.  Kari thinks I am ignoring a bigger GI issue, but it was just a stomach bug.  And the two things that come hand in hand with a stomach bug wiped me out.  I was not doing well.  But it ran its course in about a day, and I used Friday as a rest day to rehydrate and recover.  I was concerned that the planned five-hour ride on Saturday would be too much, so I swapped it with Sunday and things worked out well.  I’m still needed to stay on top of hydration, but I’m doing better.  

On to the Big Hill Bonk and running infinite 4.166-mile loops for as long as I can!

Swims: 1 – 1650 yards

Rides: 3 – 120 miles

Runs: 4 – 28 miles

 

Rub Some Dirt On It

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 21 – July 25, 2021 

I was riding with Tom, my buddy from work who is training for his first half-iron distance triathlon race. He shared a story with me about this character on a show called “Eastbound & Down,” about a washed-up former baseball player named Kenny Powers taking a job as a teacher or something. The principal introduces himself as quite the athlete as well and was training for a triathlon, which he seems to think that Kenny knows all about that and Kenny replies that he doesn’t because he plays real sports and isn’t trying to be the best at exercising. Hilarious.

Old Kenny reminds me of most coaches from my youth who would tell you to rub some dirt on it and walk it off if you got injured no matter how serious the injury was. Well, as we were coming back home on our almost 4-hour ride and had about an hour and a half of riding to go, Tom hit a patch of gravel on a turn, and down he went. He literally rubbed some dirt on it, and in it. His hands were chewed up pretty good and it did not look like a fun injury. I had mentioned in an earlier conversation that morning about wearing cycling gloves to A.) alleviate any pain from holding the handlebars, and B.) to keep your hands from getting messed up if you crash. I guess it doesn’t help to add to his pain to mention that fact again. To his credit and my astonishment, Tom picked himself up, assessed his injuries, and decided to tough it out and continue the ride home with bloody and throbbing palms. Tell me that isn’t impressive, Kenny.

As I ended my ride on that very hot and humid day, I still had 45-minutes of running to do. I put on some less sweat-soaked running attire, grabbed some water, and headed out for my run. As I passed the park at the beginning of the run I saw some young men just starting to play basketball and thought nothing of it. But when I returned one of them was vomiting into the trash can. It was interesting to me that I had just completed four hours of cycling and another 45-minutes of running and this kid couldn’t handle a short game of tossing a ball into the hoop and jogging back and forth.

Back in the mid to late twentieth century, they used to say that bowling and golf were the two most popular participation sports in America. I bet that they might not even make the list today. I’m not really sure what the most popular sport to participate in is today, but if I had to guess I would say it is running. I would be shocked if it wasn’t running. Even the other sports that are popular, almost all of them involve running. Most might guess the usual football, baseball, basketball sports would dominate the list, but really, you play those games as a kid in local rec leagues, maybe into high school, rarely in college, almost never professionally, and as an adult, c’mon man, you haven’t played football as an adult ever. When you get old you run for exercise. And if you like it and stick with it you run for sport. Finishing that first 5K or marathon or any race and the sense of accomplishment is just as awesome as getting a hit every fourth-time at-bat. You might want to practice more if you wanted to stay in the big leagues, Kenny.

I hate to disrespect any type of sport. They’re popular for a reason. The professionals make it look easy, and the moments I spent coaching and watching my kids play baseball and soccer were some of my greatest memories. But I don’t like having my sport and the athletes like Tom, who came from football and is quickly learning that swimming, cycling, and running isn’t so easy, dissing triathlon. So if you stick-and-ball guys think that our sport isn’t worthy or as hard as yours, come give ours a try. Tom will have some scars to prove to you that it isn’t so easy, and I bet we would garner some respect from you.

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Come ask Tom if this sport is easy.

Swims: 2 – 3000 yards

Rides: 3 – 108 miles

Runs: 5 – 41 miles

Fear, Part… III

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 20 – July 18, 2021 

There seems to be a lot of fear in triathlon. I totally get it as I had those fears as well. My fear was really about overcoming my lack of swimming ability, as well as fearing swimming in open water, mainly due to the aforementioned lack of swimming ability.

But there are so many different kinds of fears. Swimming is probably at the top of the list for most. Whether it be the open water thing, or swimming in water in which you can’t see anything, or the fact that there may be fish swimming in the water with you. Listen you fish-fearing swimmers, they don’t want anything to do with you. And my goodness, some can’t stand to touch any sort of weed that may be growing underwater. I may roll my eyes at that stuff, but I really have no inclination to do any triathlon in the ocean. Yeah, there are jellyfish and sharks in the ocean, and I can go about living a life not having swum a triathlon swim in the ocean, thank you very much.

And the bike is not without fear. When I first started riding and bought a road bike right after college, I took a ride down a busy four-lane road in Northbrook, Illinois. It scared the crap out of me and I decided to stick with running from then on. 20+ years later I found myself riding some more, most often riding on local bike trails. But as I got serious about riding, I found that the trails were full of idiots on bikes who don’t give a flying fig about the rules or being courteous to other trail users. So that pushed me onto the road, a place where I figured it was just a matter of time before some car ran me over. Fortunately, the roads by me are fairly rural farm roads with very little traffic and I eventually overcame my fears of being on the roads with cars.

Other bike phobias include being “clipped” into the pedals, which for most beginners and experienced riders alike will likely result in not being able to remember to unclip yourself from the pedal when stopping and falling over. I’ve done it several times, usually when people are around to see it happen. It’s quite embarrassing. Riding in aero on a tri bike is another fear for some. I have two friends (yes, you know who you are!) who recently bought tri bikes and have yet to ride them outside. I think their fear is that it handles a little differently, or maybe the reaction time to move their hands from the aero bars to the brakes might make them nervous. I’m not sure, but I get it. It doesn’t take much to fear something that you aren’t used to, especially something that is going 20 mph two feet from the gravel shoulder of the road.

Other fears can sometimes be silly. Some fear looking stupid in the tri suit. I have to admit that along with swimming, the little tight pants and the tight top that would have made me look really silly kept me out of triathlon for a long, long time. You have to toss modesty out the door if you are going to be a triathlete. And honestly, no one really cares how you look.

There are some that are afraid that they won’t be able to finish. This one keeps many people out of triathlon, especially the long Iron-distance stuff. These are people who haven’t done a lick of training but are convinced that no amount of training would get them there. I was in this camp. I used to watch the yearly Ironman special on television in the ’80s and ’90s and think how impossible that must be. I knew that my lack of swimming would prevent me from even trying. How does anyone swim 2.4 miles?! I thought it was impossible.

Some are afraid of finishing last. That one cracks me up. Do you know what they call the last place finisher in an Ironman? An Ironman. And if you have ever witnessed the closing minutes of an Ironman, those that are finishing last are the most cheered for and celebrated of all who competed that day. Just Google “last Ironman finisher” and you’ll see several examples. Or just watch this:

https://youtu.be/UVxhiZorh-E

For runners, it seems lack of speed or having to walk is a fear. My goodness, walking is done by just about everyone in an Ironman.

There are so many more examples of fear in this sport. But it all seems to boil down to a lack of familiarity or a lack of trying. As I rode more on roads I became much more at ease with it. So much more that I now feel safer on the roads I ride than the trails I use to get to the roads. And my fear of swimming was more of not knowing how to swim than just thinking that I couldn’t do it. Once I took the time to learn, and believe me it was a slow process, I conquered those fears I had about swimming.

So if you are having some fears about triathlon, don’t be afraid to face your fears. Take that new aero bike for a few spins around the block and get comfortable on it, then come out and join the group ride on the fancy new speed mobile. Have a friend take you to a lake and help you get comfortable in open water. Put on that new tri suit and let it make you feel fast. You are only fearing things that you have not yet tried. Give tri a try and get rid of those fears!

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This wraps up Week 20 for me. Ten weeks to go. If you ever want to see your summer evaporate in a blink of an eye, start training for a race. It goes by so quickly. This week was pretty good. I took on an off-road sprint triathlon and did well enough to finish 22nd overall and third in my age group. Lots of great competition and racing off-road was a new challenge for me. I had a lot of fun.

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The Forge Off-road Triathlon Race Report

I’m still dealing with some left foot nerve pain. It’s not as bad as before on the bike because I adjusted my cleat and added some extra cushion to the shoe, but it is now happening with running which was never the case before. It makes me nervous because I have a lot of triathlon and running goals this year. I may have to seek some treatment for it.

I seem to be entering the always hungry stage of training. Well, I am always hungry anyway, but now I’m doing a lot more snacking. It kind of ticks me off that I have to train hard for 20 weeks to lose the 10 pounds that I gained in the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since I decided to race on Saturday, I pushed the four-hour Saturday ride to Sunday and will more than likely do the two-hour run I missed on Sunday tomorrow. I always opt to do the long bike because I feel it’s the most important aspect in training for an Ironman. But I have some ultra marathon goals this year and I don’t want to miss out on getting that training done.

I saw this cool display on my bike ride and had to stop and take a picture:

So it’s on to the last third of the training plan, the dreaded endurance phase. But I have nothing to fear because I have been down this road four times before. Bring it on, endurance phase!

Swims: 3 – 3587 yards

Rides: 4 – 115 miles

Runs: 4 – 18 miles