I’M SHOCKED!

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 2 – March 14, 2021

Occasionally at work, we will get treated to a lunch and on Wednesday we were told there would be pizza. Yay, pizza! I work until 11 am, so I did my bike spin/treadmill run brick workout (that’s a mouthful) in the weight room at work and then headed upstairs to enjoy some pizza. I barely had loaded my plate and sat down when I heard my genuinely shocked coworker say “YOU EAT JUNK?!?!”

I shook my head and chuckled at his comment because I have heard this question before, once from another coworker who I was currently sitting next to, and others too. For some reason, my coworker thinks that by virtue of doing stupid-long distance swim/bike/run events that I am somehow forced to eat like a rabbit. Well, this might come as a shock to everyone that thinks that being a triathlete also means that we are also nutritionally sound, unfortunately, that just isn’t the case for most of us. Look at the below picture – Ironman Chattanooga is literally sponsored by LITTLE DEBBIE!

Nutty Buddies, aka Nutty Bars, are my nemesis. Yay, Nutty Bars!

I really didn’t know whether to feel ashamed or to feel proud of the fact that I do enough exercise to allow me to enjoy a plate full of pizza without guilt. As a triathlete you develop a thick skin pretty quickly and modesty kind of goes out the window. The first time you stuff yourself in a tri suit will definitely either make you quit the sport immediately or just accept the fact that you look like an overstuffed sausage in a bright-colored nylon uniform. And eating what you want is a nice perk. But for Pete’s sake, I’m not even eating as much as you non-exercising coworkers are! I’ve seen you guys eat, and I’m not even in your league!

Me eating pizza shocks you, huh?  Do you want to hear some more shocking things triathletes do?  Well, I practically fuel my long rides and runs with – brace yourself – gels that are basically just sugar.  100 calories of sugar every 30 minutes!  Some athletes will eat a sleeve of gummy-type gel blocks every hour.  Imagine the cavities that are building after doing that for 30-weeks.  I also bring along these little sugar-pressed waffle things called “stroopwafels” for an added sugar bonus.  Yay, sugar!  

I buy these things by the box. An additional 150 calories per hour or so on top of the gels I slurp down. Ridiculously good.

Oh, and wait until the later weeks in this training program hits. I will be eating everything that isn’t nailed down, and I will still be losing weight.

I guess I need to step back from my surprise at the shock that others express when they see me scarfing down some pizza, cookies, or the other junk that comes into our office. They see the Ironman banners hanging in my office and must think it takes a monumental amount of self-discipline to do an Ironman. Well, I guess that is a little bit true, but the work generally results in a reward, whether it be getting across the finish line, or not feeling guilty about eating some pizza.

My office Ironman shrine to myself.

I have to wrap this post up for the week.  I need fuel for training and I’m having sloppy joe’s for dinner!  I earned it, I promise.  Yay, sloppy joe’s!

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 – 41 miles

Runs: 4 – 21 miles

PUMP IT UP!

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 1 – March 7, 2021

Lou is dead.  Long live Choo!  

2020 Ironman Louisville got killed by a lethal combination of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as social upheaval going on in Louisville and it was not only enough to postpone the race, but to kill it totally off.  Ironman Louisville (aka Kentucky) is no more.  I was offered a deferral to a handful of other 2020 races which I felt had no chance of occurring, so I opted for the deferral to 2021 Ironman Chattanooga.  A year into a pandemic, and I’m still somewhat pessimistic about whether we will race or not. But 2021 is here, people (including myself) are getting vaccinated, and real in-person events are starting to take shape and look like a possibility of actually happening.  The CEO of Ironman came out recently with a video regarding how they expect the racing season to play out, which made most of us scratch our heads.  What I get out of the video is that they truly want to race, but if they can’t they will tell us at the last possible second and keep our money anyway.  But no matter his message, I’m signed up and will have to train to be ready if it does happen.

After completing Choo in 2019, my buddies and I all kind of agreed that we didn’t care to come back to it.  I guess maybe that was the ungodly heat that helped with that mindset, but yes, it seemed to wow us less than Wisconsin, Lake Placid, and Louisville had done in prior years.  But when Choo became my only real option, heck I will take it.  It’s really not that bad of a course – the swim is almost effortless and the bike is the easiest of the four I have done.  The run is the devil at this race, and add the heat like we had in 2019, and well, it was enough for us to say we’d never want to do the race again.

Seeing that I got through about 16 weeks of training for Louisville when it got axed, I have somewhat just drifted through my usual training, knowing that racing in 2020 was a longshot.  With the exception of enjoying some brief, mild winter trail running, my desire to sign up for races or even do any significant training has waned.  I had lost my mojo. The time to start training is here, but I’m still looking for some motivation.

I was spinning on the stationary bike this week and listening to some shuffled songs on Spotify when I heard Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up.  That’s what I kind of need right now, something to pump me up.  The weather is getting better, the snow is starting to melt, and soon I will take my training outdoors.  Time to pump myself up.

I’ll be following the Competitive Plan from the book Be Iron Fit by Don Fink once again.  It has never let me down.  I have made some alterations to it in order to make it more personal to my needs, but I stick to it pretty closely.  

I swapped out my old saddle for a new ISM PR1.0 split-nose model.  I’m hoping that the saddle is more comfortable than the old one.  I will have to find another way to mount my bottle cages to it, but there is time for that.

Swimming won’t happen until I get my pool open in May sometime.  I have added some light weightlifting workouts for now, but I tend to get bored with that real quickly.  

Here’s to training with my Gunner teammates and some of the locals I know who are also doing the race.   Ironman Chattanooga, here I come!  PUMP IT UP!

Swims:  0

Bikes:  4 – 57.5 miles

Runs: 4 – 15 miles

Gunners-2-1

Ice Fishing Fun

I am very lucky to own a house on a lake with my wife and also very lucky to have four varied seasons to enjoy a variety of activities there. One that I had yet to try was ice fishing. Some buddies from work had shown an interest in going up there to give it a try, but something always seemed to get in the way – we waited too long and the ice got too thin, Covid happened, we just forgot about it, etc.

The topic came up again though, and we decided on a date. Our group included my coworkers Micah, Tom, and Lou; however, Lou had something come up and opted out of the trip.

We left at 11 am on Friday from work. We didn’t even get a 1/4 mile away and Micah made us stop because he forgot to pee before leaving. About 30 minutes later we stopped at an old haunt of Tom’s to grab a sandwich, which we ate in the car. From then on it was another five-hours of driving before we were there. Lots of conversations were had and I think that they know more about me than they bargained for. Our shared stories of how we met our significant others were a highlight.

Start of the trip. Heading north!

When we arrived I was beaming with pride about my house on the lake as they took it all in and gave me some great compliments. We unloaded our gear, and Micah and Tom picked out which bedroom they wanted, and then we made plans for dinner.

Since it was the first Friday of Lent, we opted for a fish fry somewhere and I played it safe and took them to the Boathouse in downtown Minocqua. Tom had some northern pike, Micah had the fried cod, and I opted for some fried walleye. Based on their comments, I think they really enjoyed the Boathouse.

On the way back we stopped at a local fishing/bait shop called “Dewey, Catchem & How” for some bait. The two guys inside must have thought we were real greenhorns and one of the guys helping us gave us a little attitude, but we got what we needed and then hopped back in the car with a bait bucket full of the biggest minnows I have ever seen.

Back home, we got busy getting the newly purchased rods and reels ready for fishing and made sure everything was ready to go. Micah had asked me how many fish I thought we would catch, and I kind of jokingly said “none. If we catch one, I’d be surprised,” I think my words were. They were having none of that negative talk. We were going to eat fish again tomorrow! Some more hanging around and talking then it was off to bed.

Prepping the new rods for fishing.

Picking out just the right jigs.

They made fun of my snowmobile suit, mainly because I don’t own a snowmobile.

Micah had promised to make his award-winning biscuits and gravy and it was outstanding! We supplemented it with some scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, and we were eating like fishermen ready to fish for the day.

The chef hard at work in the dark.

Awesome breakfast!

We had woken up to -12 degrees Fahrenheit and a forecasted high of 25. I don’t think it ever got that high, but the day itself was a clear blue sky with hardly any wind until the later afternoon when the breeze picked up a little. Thankfully, Tom brought a little propane-fueled heater which made our little pop-up shanty nice and toasty. It wasn’t long until I had my gloves off, and Micah and Tom had both removed their coats.

Hey Ice Hole! Drill a hole in the ice!

Ice on my mustache and our eyebrows.

-12 or so when we started. Thank goodness for the shanty and the little heater that kept us toasty.

But the real excitement started right after we got the shanty set up, the ice holes drilled, and Tom had set up his tip-ups. I had a pretty good understanding of how they worked and as we were doing some other baiting and what-not, I asked Tom how the pole-type tip-up worked, because I could clearly see that it had sprung up. This prompted Tom to bolt for the pole and start reeling in the line. We were all excited by Tom’s excitement when he declared that he had a fish! When he pulled it out it was a nice-sized Northern Pike!

Tom removing the one and only fish in the lake. The lake will now be devoid of fish.

A nice Northern Pike. A keeper!

Turns out it was not only the only Northern Pike in the lake but seemingly the only fish in the lake. Fifteen minutes into our day and we caught the only fish we were going to catch all day! We thought we were going to be eating like kings on fried fish! I’m still laughing about it.

We soldiered on, baiting our hooks, dropping our lines into the murky depths of Minocqua Lake, and talking up the excitement of catching more fish. Other groups had joined in on the fishing nearby and we were starting to notice that they were congregating in another area. I’m not sure if they were successful there or not, but next time I think we’ll give that area a try. The only issue with it is that it was pretty close to the snowmobile thoroughfare on the lake and they roared by with regularity.

My snow writing skills are getting better.

When it was time for lunch, we decided that maybe we should seek out another spot as ours had not produced any more nibbles. We dragged our stuff back across the lake and decided to set up shop out in front of the house. Tom drilled another hole in the lake and after sticking his depth/fish finder down into the hole it was declared that this would be a great spot. We went inside and filled our stomachs with sandwiches and chips and thawed out for a little bit before heading back outside. We had fish to catch, dang it!

After we ate, we rushed back down to get back at it and determined that we misread the depth on the display as 31 feet, but it was actually 3 feet 1 inch. Oops. Not quite deep enough. After Tom consulted a webpage that showed the depth of the lake we walked some of our stuff directly across the lake and left the shanty. After fishing for a while with our backs turned to a somewhat cold breeze, Tom added more steps to his watch and fetched the shanty. We then opted to move back closer to where we had caught the northern earlier in the day. It was not long after I hit the “wall.” I didn’t know that fishing could wipe me out as it did, but I was spent. I was doing everything I could to stay awake. My back was hurting, as well as my butt, and my brain was going numb as well. I was generally becoming a grumpy – make that a grumpier – old man. But we fished and held out hope that we would get lucky again.

After lunch I could barely stay awake.

At one point, with Micah’s family “FaceTiming” him, he thought he could sense a nibble, and got really excited that he may have seen a fish on his line. But it either was playing with him or it didn’t want to join the northern lying frozen in our bucket, and Micah was left fishless.

As the sun went down we realized that our day of ice fishing was coming to an end. I was relieved to finally be getting off of the cold lake, even if it would take a few more hours of me being grumpy until I was not as grumpy as before.

The sun setting on our day.

Tom cleaned his northern and Micah helped him wash it and fry it up. Tom called it our appetizer and we each had a little bit of the one northern pike in Minocqua Lake. It was a minor victory, but a victory none-the-less. Even with having to deal with the little bones, each bite was very tasty, and I was glad to have had an opportunity to share our bounty with Tom and Micah.

Tom beginning to clean a frozen fish.

Tom called this an appetizer.

Lots of “Y” bones as Tom called them, but it was very tasty.

We finished out our evening with a trip to Bad Bones BBQ in Arbor Vitae and then back home for some dominoes and a well-appreciated hot shower.

Tom and Micah playing some drunk dominoes and arguing over the rules. I was barely awake at this point.

After another great breakfast of pancakes and sausages, we packed up and headed for home, happy to have had the chance to share a weekend of fun together even if the fish feast didn’t happen. I still believe that we caught the one and only fish in Minocqua Lake, and that is an impressive feat.

Until next time…

The goodbye photo. A fun weekend.