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!

~~~

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

The Forge Off-road Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/17/2021

Where:  The Forge – Lemont, Illinois

Distance:  Off-road Sprint – 14 miles total: ~ 500 yard SWIM, ~ 10.5 mile BIKE, ~ 3 mile RUN

Results:  1:14:56 – 22/203 Overall, 17/108 Male, 11/56 Male +40, 3/16 Male 50-59

Results Link: https://www.athlinks.com/event/356249/results/Event/977670/Course/2091242/Results

First time racing a triathlon since Ironman Chattanooga in 2019! It seemed a little different, but all things considered it was just like I remembered it.

I was a little apprehensive about this race. Any first-ever race, especially one that is not governed by USA Triathlon, can raise a red flag for me. But as more information kept coming I realized that the race director wasn’t a first-timer, and in the end it was a really well run event.

The Forge is a small to medium sized adventure style park located next to the old Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Lemont Quarries, where stone was mined to help build and then rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire. Lots of old quarries located in the Lemont, Lockport and Joliet areas. The park has zip lines, climbing walls, pump tracks and paths for cycling, and utilizes one of the quarries for swimming and kayaking. Lemont is a nearby community and when a link to this race was shared on a page I follow, I decided to give it a go. Okay, on to the race!

Getting up at 4 am is never easy, but I got up, ate, and then I drove to Lemont and parked at the Lemont High School parking lot, as the participant guide indicated that parking was limited at the Forge and it was really easy to park at the school and ride my bike to the park. Once that I got there, I found the rack for my bike and got my transition all set up.

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After setting up I had some time to kill, so I walked to the swim start and exit, and walked back to transition to see where bike and run in/out were located.  I jogged down the bike trail a little while to burn off some anxious energy and then used the bathroom and headed back to get my swim stuff.

The Swim – 11:28  

I had swam on Friday and had a really good workout.  Felt really strong and had no issues.  I’m not sure why I couldn’t duplicate that here but I couldn’t.  I was slow, felt like I couldn’t get enough air, and seemingly couldn’t get it under control.  I was getting passed by a lot of other swimmers, but I finally settled in.  Fortunately, the swim wasn’t long and I was out of the water soon enough.

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Jump off the dock, head left and swim around the turn buoys. Seemed simple enough. 

I had planned for a non-wetsuit swim as the race director had said several times that the water temps had been high and that we should plan to swim without a wetsuit.  Turns out, Friday night and Saturday morning were cool and it was wetsuit legal.  I hadn’t even brought the thing.  I kind of wish I had, but nothing I could do about it.  There were only a handful of triathletes wearing them.  I would have thought that the quarry would have been really deep, but there were several places where I could easily see bottom, and there were times where my hand was actually touching the weedy stuff growing in the water.  I was in 76th place overall after that miserable swim.

T1 – 2:08 – Coming out of the water we had a thin, green outdoor carpet covering rocks, but I’m such a tenderfoot that it was a struggle for me.  Then we hit the crushed limestone and I didn’t really enjoy that either, but eventually we got into transition where there was more carpet covering grass.  I quickly grabbed my water bottle and rinsed off my feet and then made a decision that I later regretted – I decided to go sockless on the bike.  I never do that but I didn’t want to wrestle socks onto two wet feet.  22nd overall fastest through T1.

The Bike – 37:52 – I had biked on Thursday and I thought that I could probably push close to 20 mph average on race day.  Boy was that wrong.  I ended up averaging about 17 mph, but it wasn’t for lack of trying to go faster.  The course was new to me, and there were lots of slower riders ahead of me.  But the thing that really affected my overall speed was the numerous sharp turns, as well as a few hairpin turns thrown in for fun.  It was a difficult course, and even though there was a no passing mandate on a portion in which there was two-way riding on a six foot wide path, there was plenty of passing going on.  But from the moment when my butt hit the seat, I was gunning hard and passing lots of the faster swimmers.  I never got passed on the bike, and ended up with the 24th best bike split.

T2 – 1:25 – What I thought was a super fast transition from bike to run, it turns out I was pretty slow compared to the others.  This is also where I realized how dumb it is to go sockless.  My cycling shoe had worn the skin off a small spot on the top of my foot.  Needless to say, I put on my socks for the run and won’t be going sockless ever again.  The results had my T2 split at a questionable 164th place.  Really?  That surprises me because I thought I had done pretty well.  But I guess having to put on socks is what killed my time.

The Run – 22:04 – Grabbing my visor and bib belt, I bolted out of T2 without yet putting them on, and I was on the trail for what is my strong suit – the run.  I passed three very fit triathletes by 1/4 mile into it and was feeling great.  I just kept motoring along, passing numerous other runners.  I came up on one woman at the turn around who knew what was about to happen and stepped aside to let me go by.  I thanked her and started trying to catch the next runner.  Soon I saw another woman heading toward the turn around and I thought to myself that I bet she overtakes me soon.  

Somewhere after the 2 mile marker, the course veered off the I&M Canal trail and headed onto a park trail.  There was a hill and the volunteer standing there said “You’re welcome.”  I said “I’m walking this damn thing.”  And I walked up it.  It was steep, but what goes up quickly came down as we meandered through the portion of the Forge where they have climbing apparatus and zip lining stuff.  There were some pretty steep rocky stairs that I had to run down, but they weren’t too technical.  Back up a couple more hills and it was back the the trail and over to where we had to pass the finish line and do a quick 1/4 mile out and back to the finish.  The out portion was where the woman who I figured would pass me finally did.  We went around the cone together, but she hit the gas and I couldn’t match her pace.  I had the 16th fastest run split for the day and moved myself up to 22nd overall.  

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I cooled down, grabbed a banana and some water, put on a dry shirt, and kicked back by the quarry to wait for the rest of the triathletes to finish.  The scrolling results on the projected screen would only show overall place and not age group place, so I had to wait until the awards to find out if I had placed.  When the announcer announced my time first I started heading for the stage.  I was slightly surprised at 3rd place in my age group, but I was glad to take home the award, even if it was an odd carabiner clip thing attached to a chunk of wood.  I think I prefer medals.  The Old Guy age group seems to be the most competitive group out there.  16 of the top 25 were over 40 years old, and most of the rest were in their thirties.  Only two of the top 25 were under 30 years old, a 19 year old and a 29 year old.  

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Conclusion – The Forge Off-Road Triathlon was a fun event.  It was different to have to actually think about riding on a course like this, instead of just hammering along in aero on my tri bike.  I would do this one again, and would recommend it to anyone thinking about hitting the trails for the bike and run instead of what we normally race on.  

Thanks for reading!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 19 – July 11, 2021 

My in-laws have been staying with us this past couple of weeks and my father-in-law’s cellphone ringtone is the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which is a pretty good metaphor for training this week. First up… 

The Good

Coming off a pretty easy week which ended in four straight rest days, I was hoping for a week of training that would feel pretty good. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The legs felt strong, and the efforts weren’t killing me.

I joined the Saturday group ride and coaxed my coworker Tom into joining me. I planned to ride with Tom regardless, but when the fastest of the usual riders showed up, I knew that I wouldn’t be pushing myself to join in with their crazy tempo. Tom and I had a great ride out to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and back. We split apart at about two hours as Tom headed back and I needed to extend the ride another two hours. Saturday called for rain, but fortunately, it held off, stayed a cool day, and I was able to ride for a little more than 70 miles and then have a decent 30-minute post-ride run.  

The Bad

I have been dealing with some numbness in my left foot when riding my bike to the point of it being somewhat painful. It’s a little embarrassing to have this pain because I felt like I knew how to deal with it, but the way I dealt with it in the past wasn’t working this time. No matter how I adjusted the cleat on my cycling shoe, I wasn’t getting any relief. I added a piece of foam padding under the insert of the shoe and it seemed to make it a little more bearable on Saturday’s ride, so I will continue to adjust that until I find some relief. The troubling aspect of it though is that it has also been carrying over to my running. The shoes I run in have about 250 miles on them but don’t really feel worn out. On Sunday’s 10-mile run, I broke out a new pair of running shoes, and although the pain was much less it wasn’t gone. I’ll give it some time.

Sunday I was determined not to miss breakfast. I have been missing out on pancakes and sausage/bacon on the weekends too often because of training and I wasn’t settling for that on Sunday. As usual, Kari’s pancakes were outstanding, and I left feeling very satisfied. But I think it affected my run a little as I was somewhat laboring through the first four miles or so. Whatever. The pancakes were outstanding.

It was the swim for me this week that was the main “bad” part of training. On Thursday, I attempted a swim after pushing pretty hard through a bike ride. I was getting some cramps in my calves on the ride, so I decided that this swim would need the pull buoy to take kicking out of the equation. It didn’t matter because about 10-minutes into the swim my left calf cramped up with one of the worst Charley Horse-type cramps that I can remember. I pulled the plug on the swim and limped around on a sore calf for the rest of the day. I already do the bare minimum for swimming just putting in two 30-minute swims a week, so maybe it’s time to rethink that. I may move swimming to the off-day Monday to remove it from a post-run or post-bike workout during the week. Maybe an hour-long swim with some drills and intervals added may be a better idea. I don’t like swimming.

The Ugly

During the group ride, we had to deal with a jerk in a minivan. Apparently, he couldn’t stand being inconvenienced for a few seconds by some cyclists. He hit the gas, squealed his tires, beeped his horn, and tore off around us like we should not be on his road. People can really suck sometimes. He’ll get his karma someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I ride with a front and rear flashing light/camera device. Here are the videos:

From my rear camera

From the front camera

Swims: 1 – 510 yards

Rides: 3 – 109 miles

Runs: 5 – 32 miles

Vacation Overrules Training

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 18 – July 4, 2021

Happy Fourth of July!

The week preceding Independence Day was my family’s vacation week in Wisconsin at the lake home. I ended last week up here too, but looked forward to a great week of training with some awesome weather and some different scenery than what I am used to.

After my rest day on Monday I got in a nice open water swim in the lake. The wetsuit hadn’t been used in over a year, but I got it on with only some minor contortions and struggles.

Nice and calm water was like swimming in the pool.

This was an easy training week according to the plan, ending with an Olympic distance race. So Wednesday’s bike/run brick was about the hardest part of it. On Thursday I began my swim workout in the lake again and during the swim I decided why not just make this the Olympic distance race practice instead of doing it on the Fourth. So I turned around and headed back to the dock, finishing right at 1500 meters.

Since I hadn’t planned to do the mock race I had to go upstairs and gather some junk to do the ride. I needed a tri top, water bottle, a gel or two and get my bike ready. So transition took a little longer than usual, but I was soon on the bike heading to St. Germain.

Once back from the bike I opted to switch to a running shirt and drink a Gatorade that my wife was kind enough to have ready for me. Out the door and off at a pretty strong pace had me a little wiped out around 3.5 miles into the run, but a few stops to wait for traffic allowed me to catch my breath and find a comfortable pace.

Not bad times for a non-race practice Olympic triathlon.

At home and done meant a cool down jump in the lake, which is always refreshing. I decided right there and then that my week was over on a Thursday and it was time to take a mental break from training for the rest of the week. And that’s exactly what I did.

Time to forget about training for three days and enjoy some family time and fun on the lake. And wear a silly hat.

Swims: 2 – 3554 yards

Rides: 2 – 38 miles

Runs: 3 – 16 miles

Race day is in 12 more Sundays

Ins and Outs of Week 17

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 17 – June 27, 2021

Week 17 was a little different than the usual “here’s the workout – go do it.” I had to change some things up a bit.

Monday and Tuesday went as planned. Wednesday I participated in my department’s leg of the Torch Run, benefiting the Illinois Special Olympics. So I biked to work, ran with the gang, and then biked home again. A little bit more than the usual bike/run brick.

I have no idea why I decided to kneel. Always got to be different, I guess.

On Thursday my in-laws arrived to join us for a vacation trip, so I had guests to entertain, and it was stormy in the afternoon. I decided that riding and swimming in a thunderstorm was probably not the best idea, so I bagged Thursday.

Friday I got in my planned run and felt really good. It was a cool and humid run, but not as bad as the 90’s we had been dealing with.

Saturday was a day for travel to our place in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Lots of busy work to take care of so I skipped another workout. But Sunday I made up for it by having a great brick workout of 3.5 hours of biking and a half hour run. I had a beautiful and cool day for it. I chose to ride the road out to St. Germain and then hit the paved trails they have there to head further north.

All was going great and at at an hour and 45 minutes I turned around to head back, except I was not sure where the connecting trail was after going around this little wooded lake. Fortunately I remembered that my GPS watch had a track back feature and once I figured out how to access it I was all set. Except I didn’t understand how to go the direction I was supposed to go.

So off I went in the direction I thought I needed to go but it would tell me that I was off course. So I would turn around and ride the other way until it told me that I was off course again! What was I doing wrong?

I really wanted to go down this nice trail but my watch said NO!

I finally passed a trail that I had kept missing because I was riding in a direction that kept me from seeing it. Oh well, I got back on the right trail, hit the gas and pulled into the driveway at exactly 3.5 hours.

The track back feature was pretty impressive and I’m sure I will use it again if I ever find myself not knowing how to get back.

Swims: 1 – 1500 yards

Bikes: 3 – 73 miles

Runs: 4 – 23 miles

Grading Myself

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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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

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Limping It In At The Half-way Point

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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

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Week 14 Hitting Hard

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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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

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Work First, Brag Later

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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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.

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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

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I Wonder… About Week 12

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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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?

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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

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