Ironman Louisville 2020 Week 1!

 

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 1 – MARCH 16 > 22, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC

Training for Ironman #5 has begun!  But not without some concern.  Usually, my concerns are about some nagging injury that is giving me doubt about completing my workouts, or some forgotten conflict that may pop up and cause me to miss something important, or some other dumb thing on my mind.  But I never thought that a global pandemic might derail not only my training but the race itself.

When my buddies and I committed to doing Louisville again back in January, I had no idea that I would be sitting around inside my house with the government telling me to stay home and not go anywhere other than essential travel, i.e. to work, to get groceries, etc.  But here we are.  When the race dominoes started falling, races like the Boston Marathon and others, I knew that this might be a little more of a worry than what we were telling ourselves.  Pools are now closed.  Gyms are now closed.  Running trails are open, but the toilets are locked!  (Maybe that’s only a problem for me.)  Getting the workouts in maybe a little difficult for some, but Ironman triathletes are a hardy bunch.  Heck, if we can get through an actual Ironman race, we can get around these training obstacles.

My plan for this Ironman is to once again follow Don Fink’s “Be Iron Fit” competitive training plan for the next 30 weeks.  It has served me well in my past four races and I have tweaked it over time to fit my abilities and needs.  I don’t follow the swim plans like I did the first two times I used it.  The past two races went well with just two 45-minute swims per week with a handful of longer open water swims thrown in.  I won’t be able to swim for a while, as it hasn’t warmed up enough for me to open my own pool.  I suspect I will start swimming in late May.

It is on the cusp of being nice enough to bike outside, but if the weather prevents that I have both a trainer at home or a spin bike at work that I can use if necessary.

I’m in pretty good shape for running this time around.  I had been training for an ultramarathon that was to take place on April 3rd but it fell victim to the pandemic and got postponed.  My goal for this year’s race is to try to go sub-4 hours on the run.  In 2017 my run split was 4:05 at Louisville, so I think that it is reachable.  I just got to learn to stay out of the porta-potties on the run course, which always rob me of time.  If they are locked on race day it might not be an issue!

My ultramarathon got postponed until 12 days after Ironman Louisville, so I hope to use the 30-weeks of training to prepare me for that event as well.

So here’s to a safe 30-weeks of training, and I hope my buddies and I and everyone else training for Ironman Louisville stays healthy.

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THE GUNNERS ARE BACK!

TOTALS FOR WEEK 1:  

Swim:  0 / 0 yards

Bike:  3 rides / 31.5 miles

Run:  5 runs / 18 miles

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Louisville 2020 – Here come the GUNNERS!

 

Nips, Sores, and More!

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 24 – Monday 8/12/2019 – Sunday 8/18/2019

I was expecting to get back on track this week with very little deviance from the plan after swapping the past two weeks of training around and making a concession here and there.  But life sometimes throws you a curveball or two.

 

I’m getting really tired of having nipples.

It was a nice day, somewhat cooler than the past few and I only had an hour-long run to do, so I skipped covering my nipples.  Big mistake.  One got chaffed and started bleeding halfway through the run.  Why do men have nipples anyway?  It’s not like we use them for anything.  They aren’t even that interesting in my opinion.  But if you are a male runner that isn’t rail-thin, you are bound to one day experience the dreaded bleeding nipple.  After thirty-plus years of running, you would think that they would have calloused over by now, or somehow adapted so they don’t get chafed.  But sadly no.  So I guess I will start covering them with Bandaids for every run, so buy some stock now.

 

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Boo hiss.  People look at you funny when your nipples bleed.

 

 

Ashley’s back at Valpo for one last year!

Ashley may not have been excited about returning to Valpo for one final year, but it’s only one more year!  Check-in at the apartment where she stays was on Saturday, so that meant if I wanted to help move her in I needed to somehow get my important Saturday long bike in, so I moved the Sunday two-hour and 15-minute run to Friday to free up Sunday for the bike.  Doing the long run on Friday meant I would have to try to make up Friday’s normal run another day.  Yeah, it didn’t happen.

 

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Two of my loves enjoying the move-in day.

 

 

Why can’t summer storms come in the middle of the week?  

I had moved my Saturday long ride to Sunday so I could have Saturday free and what happened?  It decided to storm like crazy Sunday morning.  I had planned to be out on the bike before 8 am but with the heavy rain and lightning, I waited until the radar showed that it was past.  I hit the road at 10 am and was amazed by how much water had poured on us.  I was soaked from the waist down from just riding through the puddles and the standing water on the roadway.  I explored a little on the ride to avoid the bike trail because when the leaves and junk on the trail get wet things get a little scary.  Thankfully though the ride went smooth, I had no wind going out and a tailwind coming back, and I stayed on top of my hydration and nutrition today.  I only felt a little low on energy getting back home, but as I switched to my running shoes for the hour-long run, I downed a Gatorade and the run went well.

 

Hello Saddle Sore, My Old Friend (with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel)

Hello saddle sore, my old friend
It’s not nice to see you once again
Because you are literally a big pain in the ass
And it’ll take you at least a month to pass
And the cries of my pain could be heard along the road I ride
Thanks to you, you damn saddle sore.

What’s the deal with saddle sores?  I use the butt cream.  I use Body Glide. I make sure that anything that can chafe will get some attention.  But this past couple of weeks the damn saddle sore I always get from riding showed up again.  It is actually bothering me just sitting on this cushy chair right now.  And don’t mistake it for a zit, because it is definitely not a zit.  Matter of fact if you try to squeeze that sucker, it’s going to let you know that he’s the Captain now.  Touching it hurts!!!  So I generally will just coat it with some Neosporin and a Bandaid (again, buy some stock now!) and let it be.  Some day when this Ironman race is over it will go away because I can guarantee that I won’t be letting my butt sit on that bike again until next year.

Click here to see a picture of my saddle sore:  Saddle Sore – NSFW!!!

 

WEEK 24 TRAINING TOTALS:

Swims: 2 total, 3500 total yards

Rides: 3 total, 135 total miles

Runs: 4 total, 33 total miles

 

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All triathletes are weird.

 

 

 

It’s Heating Up In More Ways Than One

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 20 – Monday 7/15/2019 – Sunday 7/21/2019

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Week 20 is finally over and two-thirds of the training plan is in the books.  This week though – wow did it get warm.

I first noticed the heat on Friday, a 75-minute run.  I do my runs smack dab in the middle of the day when I get off from work.  I was seeing heat advisory warnings early in the week, and of course, I scoffed at them.  The Tues./Wed./Thur. workouts were really the typical summertime heat stuff, but Friday came and I started the run with pretty warm and humid conditions.  I felt pretty good for the first three miles and I was thinking I would just do an out and back on the bike trail, but when I got there it offered no shade and I was feeling the heat pretty well.  I decided to head to the other forest preserve trail and make it a loop run instead, hoping that the shade would keep me cooler.  It did, but the hills and humidity were starting to get to me.  I ended up walking quite a bit and kept thinking about getting more water.

I finally got to the park district office and was really feeling the heat at that point.  Sort of shuffling along and walking.  I went in and basked in the air conditioning in the lobby for about ten minutes and refilled my water bottle with cold water and rehydrated myself.  I was about a mile and a half from home and started out with a newer outlook on finishing that portion, but when my watch hit 75 minutes, I decided to walk the remaining 3/4 miles home.  Glad I did.

 

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Feels like 104 degrees was pretty spot on.

 

Saturday came with a prescribed 4-hour bike ride followed by a 45-minute run.  I was a little concerned about that, and decided to get up at 4:30 and hit the trail by 5:30.  After making sure I had all my gels and extra water bottles, I hit the road.  The skies were overcast, so I was very grateful for that.  But it was still 80 degrees and humid and would get worse as the day went on.  Fortunately, on the bike, you get the wind cooling you down, but I was sweating within ten minutes of the start.  Two hours into the ride I did the same dumb thing I did last week and went a little bit further so that I would hit 35 miles, making the total trip 70 miles.  But I knew I had been riding into the wind, so the little bit of extra riding would equal out in the end.

The tailwind was awesome and the remaining ride home was mostly enjoyable.  Somewhere around the 3:15 mark things got interesting, and I was no longer worried about the weather.

First up was a flock of geese crossing the road, and they couldn’t just turn around, no, they had to walk right in front of me.

 

Next, my chain fell off the big ring and landed on my crank by my right shoe.  I was cruising down a hill and had some good speed going, so I just figured that I would coast until I slowed down and then I would stop and fix it.  But as I looked down it looked like I could reach down and grab it, so I decided to risk crashing and try to get it back on.  I did it!  Here’s me celebrating my achievement:

 

After getting the chain back on I came upon a farm tractor going down the road.  Usually, 100% of the time I’m the one getting passed by a vehicle, but not this time!  I was catching it and thought I had a chance to pass it.  I had to wait for an oncoming car and then I made my move.

 

As an added bonus, up ahead was a group of cyclists waiting for the light and I could see that it was about to turn green as I approached.  When it did turn green, I hit the gas and put the hammer down leaving them in my dust.  That was fun!

When I got home I was feeling pretty beat, so I opted for the treadmill in the basement for a 5-mile run.  I kind of felt guilty about that, but I think it was a sound decision.  I would rather live for another day than suffer through a real feel temperature of 105 degrees after four hours of biking.

I rested up and rehydrated as best as I could on Saturday afternoon because I was volunteering to punch tickets for the Joan Jett and The Blackhearts concert in New Lenox that night.  It was hot at the start of the event, but we had water and the temperature did come down a little as the evening progressed.

Sunday was supposed to bring some relief with the temperature but after breakfast and a quick look at the weather to check for possible storms, I headed out the door to find that it was still warm and humid!  I planned to run 6.5 miles out for an hour and then turn around.  I was sweating like crazy again!  I refilled my water bottle at the turnaround and popped a salt capsule to replace the electrolytes, but I was starting to suffer.  I think my critical mistake here was the sweat-fest I had the prior two days as well as not rehydrating enough before this run.  I dragged my butt back and finished 12.5 miles of the 13.1 I had hoped for.  Oh well, live for another day, again.

Looking ahead to the next ten weeks left of training and things are certainly going to heat up, not just with the weather but also with the intensity of the workouts.  I am going to have to be more cognizant of the weather as we head into the heat of the summer and the longer bike rides and runs to come.  It’s starting to heat up in more ways than one.

 

WEEK 20 TRAINING TOTALS:

Swims: 2 total, 2,400 total yards

Rides: 3 total, 108 total miles

Runs: 5 total, 36.5 total miles

 

 

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Time to relearn the things I have learned in regards to the heat.

 

I Won a One Man Race!

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

 

 

WEEK 18 – Monday 7/1/2019 – Sunday 7/7/2019

 

This week was somewhat light for the training plan that I follow and boy was I thankful for that. July Fourth occurred this week which meant that once my daughter marched in her last Independence Day hometown parade as a high schooler we would be off to our vacation in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. So there was travel involved and vacation and hosting lots of family at our lake home. Even with all that happening I still managed to get in most of the training.

One cool thing that happened this week is that I got my new tri kit a couple of days before leaving for vacation. I chose to go with Jakroo this time around and the kits seem to be pretty decent for a lower priced product. The best things about this company was there were no minimum orders to meet, I could design the kit myself, the prices were affordable, and the turnaround was super quick. Here’s me with the tri shorts and the cycling jersey. The shorts were size Large but were a little snug. I may order an XL if I find these uncomfortable. I did one short hour long bike ride in them and they felt okay.

Me rocking the new GUNNER team kit.

The weekend called for an Olympic distance race according to the plan. Although I will race a 5K or triathlon during training I’m a little hesitant to race when training for an Ironman because I don’t want to risk crashing or otherwise injuring myself and throw away all the investment I made in training and other stuff, so I just usually do them at home on my own. And being in Minocqua offered a perfect opportunity to do just that.

First Annual Minocqua Olympic Distance Race For Chris Only Race Report

When: 7/7/2019

Where: Minocqua, Wisconsin

Time: 2:55:52

Results: 1st Place OverallWINNER!

After a good breakfast of pancakes and bacon, I donned the wetsuit and recruited Kari to kayak next to me on the swim to keep me from being run over by one of the thousand wakeboard type boats on the lake. I’m exaggerating a little, but these obnoxious boats seem to be the boat of choice by beer drinking party animals who somehow have the money to afford such an over the top boat.

The Swim: 1562 yards / 28:49 / 1:51 per 100 yds.

Fortunately for me, I was seeded in the first wave and got ahead of the pack early. The wetsuit seemed a little restrictive for some reason, but I felt good. The water was warm, but the race director said that it was a wetsuit legal race. I decided that I would swim along the shoreline for 750 yards and then turn around, not realizing that 1500 yards didn’t quite equal 1500 meters, but it was close enough. I swam pretty comfortably and was surprised to see that I averaged under 2 mins per 100 yards, which was awesome. I reached the dock and like a dummy, I hit stop instead of the lap button, but I got it fixed quickly and I was off the change into bike gear for the ride. Nice to be first out of the water!

T1: 5:30

The Bike: 24.8 miles (40K) / 1:29:36 / 16.6 mph average

I decided that I would ride Highway J west toward St. Germain and make use of the wide bike lane on the road. I’m a little nervous about being on that road but the cars were giving me plenty of room. By a half mile into riding, I was regretting riding my hybrid bike in this race and not bringing my tri bike up to ride. My butt and left leg were bothering me and to alleviate the discomfort I shifted my butt as far back on the saddle that I could. Lots of rollers on this ride but it’s not too challenging. As I got to St. Germain I was very pleased that I was right at 12.4 miles and this out and back would be a perfect 40K. The ride back was smooth and trouble-free. Glad to average 16.6 miles on this heavy old bike. I was also very glad to be the first bike back and still in first place.

T2 – 3:21

The Run – 6.2 miles / 48:36 / 7:51 pace per mile

My back was a little sore getting off the bike but loosened up quickly. As I headed down my street I debated as to which way to run but decided to stick to my original thought of running downtown to the trail and then head back. I wasn’t planning on pushing the pace on this run because I had such a huge lead, but when I got to Hwy. 51 and saw the parade of backed up cars leaving town on the only road that takes them back south I did a little peacocking and was running hard. That was a bad decision as the pancakes were starting to wear a little thin. But I paced the out and back well, hit the water fountain a couple of times, and coasted home to a first-place finish. I kind of like winning. I might make this an annual tradition.

 

WEEK 18 TRAINING TOTALS:

Swims: 2 total, 3,662 total yards

Rides: 3 total, 56 total miles

Runs: 5 total, 24.7 total miles

 

Yay vacation!!!

 

Sun Tans, Group Ride​, & Racing!

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 14 – Monday 6/3/19 – Sunday 6/09/19

 

You sure are getting tan.

A few weeks ago I started getting compliments on my tan.  I never really notice getting tan because it’s a gradual progression for me, but others who are less tan than I seem to notice it quite easily, and are sometimes envious and will point it out.  I guess getting sun exposure and developing a tan is easier for a runner or triathlete, as we are outside doing our thing a lot.  But there are some downsides to getting tan.  First, the danger of exposing yourself to the harmful UV rays is pretty evident.  If I am heading out on a sunny day, I will always spray myself with SPF 50 or cover myself well.  Even so, I will still start developing a good tan.  The other downside is triathletes can develop some really strange tan lines.  I generally wear mid-length socks that will protect my lower leg from the sun.  Also, tri suits cover your thighs which leaves just a small portion of your leg exposed for tanning.  That’s a weird look.  Wearing a hat also adds to that weird tan line on your forehead, like pro golfers get.

It’s not like I seek out sunny days to exercise – I take whatever day I get and prepare for it.  But when it is sunny, I make sure that I place more emphasis on protecting myself from the sun than getting that envious tan.

 

Group Ride!

Riding with my teammates and buddies is always better than going alone.  Last week Dave was in town but I wasn’t, so we couldn’t do the Saturday ride together.  But Dave ended up making a return trip to visit this weekend, and he coaxed Jeff to come down from the city and do our 3.5-hour ride, 1/2 hour run Saturday workout together.  The weather turned out great for us, except for that pesky wind that always seems to be in our faces in the second half of the ride.

We turned around a little before making it halfway out from home because we thought we were going to need to fight the wind back home.  But we ended up having about 15 extra minutes we needed to ride, so we took a trip through a local neighborhood called Prestwick, a neighborhood where STYX lead singer Dennis DeYoung used to live back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  We also saw an old neighbor Bill Goldschmidt out riding.  He was a dad who lived on the street that Dave lived on and I virtually lived on and a long time rider.  He was very excited to see us on the trail and we had a short but nice conversation with him.

We finished the ride and then headed out on a fairly easy paced 3.5-mile run that took us more than the 30 minutes the plan called for.  They let me hear it for making them run longer than what the plan called for.  Whatever, it’s good for you.

After a quick splash in the pool, some great conversation, and a nice lunch, we all headed back to our busy weekends.

 

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The required post-bike selfie that I demanded they participate in.

 

 

Racing

On Sunday, I once again drove myself to Batavia, IL to race the ET Batavia triathlon and did quite well for myself.  I ended up 27th overall and 1st in the Male 55-59 age group.  I was very happy with that result.  You can read my race report here:
2019 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

 

Week 14 Training Totals:

Swims: 3 total / 4600 yards > Rides: 5 total / 102 miles > Runs: 5 total / 25 miles

 

 

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Almost halfway done with this!  Here comes Week 15!

 

I’d Be A Horrible Judge

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEKS 7 & 8 – Monday 4/15/19 – Sunday 4/28/19

Ironman makes announcements all the time and I usually don’t give them much more than a quick glance.  But this was shared on a couple Facebook group pages and it caught my eye:

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The reason I didn’t pay much attention to it at first is that it looks like your standard “Register Now” announcement for Ironman, and I’m already signed up for it.  But then I read a few comments and realized this was for a relay.  Say what?  An Ironman relay? NO!!!

Immediately I made up my mind that I hated this idea.  A relay for Ironman?  C’mon man, this shouldn’t be.  Triathletes that do Ironman do them for the challenge of doing three tough events in one day, 17 hours typically.  To do just one part doesn’t make any sense to me.  The whole purpose of Ironman was to prove an argument as to who was the toughest athlete of three disciplines, the swimmer doing a 2.4-mile swim, the cyclist racing a century or more, or the runner running a marathon.  Do all three events in one day and find out! – was the reason behind creating Ironman.   (Note:  It’s the runner if you are wondering.  The strongest swimmer never wins the race.  And if you followed Ironman Texas this weekend you witnessed Andrew Starykowicz destroy the bike course only to be caught on the run.  And Daniela Ryf made up a significant time gap on the run to win the women’s title.  Always bet on the runner.  Unless the runner is me, then bet on my buddy Dave.  Actually, always bet on Dave, he’s 3-0 in our Ironman racing.)  But seriously, what are you proving by just doing one segment of the race?  After the swim leg, what do you do while the rest of us are still busting our butts?   I better not hear you call yourself an Ironman.

As I read through the many comments I was seeing a lot of similar reactions to this announcement and I was hitting the “like” button for every comment that I agreed with.

“Give me a break. It’s an Ironman! This cheapens it. The last thing I want is some fresh-legged relay athlete zip past me as I’m actually enduring an Ironman. Save the relays for the Olympic distance. I’m not ripping on the athletes, but the Ironman has been the one true test for individuals in triathlons. That’s the beauty of it. The individual challenge mentally and physically.”

“It’s called Ironman, not Ironmen.”

“It’s about that adversity. I’m signing up for the relay as “me” doing the swim, “myself” on the bike, and “I” for the run!”

But as I sorted through those comments others started making valid points.

“Embrace it. It is good for the preservation of the sport or these races go away.  Those who do the relay many times will do the full.”

“This opens the door to people who have injuries or are thinking of working up to doing a full one day to experience it. The more people outside doing something, the better! Run your race, meet your goals and let others do the same!”

“Sad that people rip on the relay! I’ve done two full Ironmans and now knee injury. This is a great idea. And for all those who knock it, I hope you always stay injury free and continue being able to do fulls. Not everyone is that lucky!”

So now I am conflicted.  I definitely will defend the tradition of the race and what it means to be an Ironman.  But if we can get more people involved, I’m all for that too.  I don’t really know what to expect when I will be racing Chattanooga in late September.  If I see a faster cyclist fly by will I assume he’s doing the relay?  When I’m gassed on the run and someone trots by like they haven’t done the previous 2.4-mile swim and the 116-mile bike ride, will that make me angry?  I’m not sure.  A few commenters mentioned that everyone should do the race their way and not worry about the other group.  I guess I will need to focus on myself like I usually do.  This is why I would make a horrible judge.  If both sides made valid arguments, I wouldn’t be able to make a decision on a winner.

TRAINING FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS

Last week was Easter and we had out of town plans, so I did some creative moving of my workouts and got the job done.  And since I was out of town last weekend I didn’t have time to write my weekly wrap-up of training.  So here are the details from the last two weeks.

Week 7 was jumbled around a little.  I had the opportunity to run with the local running club F’NRC in a group run on Wednesday, which meant I ran twice that day.  It was fun running with the group on a nice weeknight.  I ended up skipping the long bike ride up north in Minocqua on Saturday, as they still had snow and ice on the bike path up there.  Instead, I opted for doing the Sunday run on Saturday as I had a long drive home on Sunday with an additional trip to Valpo to take Ashley back to school.

Week 8 was looking to be a normal follow the plan training week.  But the forecast for the weekend weather was terrible.  A record-breaking late April snowstorm was predicted for Saturday, so I moved my Saturday 2-hour long bike ride to Friday and made it a bike/run brick, keeping my 1-hour run that was scheduled for Friday.  That reminded me how tough brick workouts can be.  I was pretty low on energy after that.  My Gunner teammate Jeff asked this week as to when we start using gels on our weekend rides.  I laughed at him because he’s a two-time Ironman and should know the answer by now, but I now found myself bonking because I didn’t remember that I should probably be adding more energy replacement into my workouts.  Jeff’s not the dumb one, it’s me.  At least he’s trying to be prepared for it.  Although Saturday’s weather was crappy, we didn’t get anything more than a few ice pellets/sleet type stuff.  I took Saturday off and had a great 1-hour run on a beautiful Sunday morning.  So in all, the week ended well.

Week 7 Training Totals:

Swims: None > Rides: 2 total / 29 miles > Runs: 3 total / 22 miles

Week 8 Training Totals:

Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 65 miles > Runs: 4 total / 23 miles

 

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Getting closer to being done with the base part of the plan.

 

 

 

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 5 – Monday 4/1/19 – Sunday 4/7/19

When it comes to training sometimes I get too competitive with it.  What starts out as a simple training workout, straight from the training plan, it often goes right out the door when I actually start the workout.  I’m like a dog out for a simple walk until I see a squirrel, then the chase is on and I’m no longer interested in the simple walk.

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Case in point for me this week was my Friday easy run.  When I say easy I mean that it was a Zone 2 out of 4 heart rate based run, for 60 minutes.  Essentially, this is a run that is done at a conversational pace, meaning that you should be able to easily carry on a conversation while running, rather than a Zone 4 race pace.  That’s what the plan called for, but I had other plans.  It was a nice day, and I had realized that the marathon that I had already decided to forego was coming up next weekend.  I had planned on skipping the race due to a couple of injuries that prevented me from training sufficiently and the fact that I had decided to do Ironman Choo with my buddies instead.  But I was curious about how far off my conditioning was, or if I was even capable of holding my 8 minutes per mile marathon race pace.  So I headed out the door and started running comfortably hard, essentially Zone 3 on the heart rate scale to see if I was even anywhere near the ability to race a marathon.  This is essentially a bad idea and I probably should have known better.

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I was feeling pretty good.  My continually sore legs weren’t really bothering me, and I felt no soreness in the upper thigh area where I had just recovered from the second of two muscle strains.  About 1.75 miles into the run the squirrel appeared in the form of the local high school boys track team running hill repeats on the trail ahead of me.

Now, I’m not shy about challenging myself on this hill.  Someone made it a Strava segment, and I currently sit at a tie for 10th place on this segment.  My brain can typically shut down my urges, especially when I’m 1.75 miles into an 8-mile run, but this time there was a squirrel, several of them.

They were standing on the other side of the bridge at the bottom of the hill and as I hit the bridge they could hear me coming and turned to look with a surprised (who the hell is this guy?) look on their faces. I had already decided to race them up the hill, but that wasn’t enough.  I shouted, “DON’T LET AN OLD GUY BEAT YOU UP THIS HILL!”  And with that one kid yelled “NO WAY!” and the race was on.

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I guess that there were about a dozen of shirtless boys that I started with.  By comparison, I was wearing a long sleeve tech shirt and long sleeve windbreaker over that.  Plus I had the disadvantage of being 40 years older than them.  I overheard a kid tell the coach at the bottom of the hill that this was his 7th and last hill repeat, so I guess it was kind of an unfair fight, but that equates to about the same distance I had run to get there, and I hadn’t taken it easy either.

I started picking off kids, which I found easier than I thought it would be.  A few could hear me coming and kept looking behind to see how close I was getting, but they would get caught.  About halfway up the hill, my heart felt like it was about to leap out of my chest.  The kids I was slowly passing seemed like it wasn’t even bothering them that much, but their effort said otherwise.  As I got to the top of the hill there was another coach there waiting for the group.  “I just outran half your team up that hill, coach!”  I told him between heavy panting.  He smiled and laughed.  I continued on to the nearby intersection and was glad to see that I would have to wait for the light to cross the street so I could get a much-needed rest.  To my surprise, I was able to continue most of the remainder of the hour-long run around my marathon pace without much difficulty, but I knew that continuing on for a full 26.2 miles would have been a challenge.

Although this run could have easily sabotaged my week, it didn’t, but I never seem to learn from these dumb challenges.  My Saturday long bike ride resulted in me pushing myself again.  This was my first effort outside after spending my winter bike training on a spin bike indoors.  Those indoor rides would make me sweat, but never really tire me out.  I was essentially doing high spin rides and conditioning my butt to a saddle more than working my legs hard.   But I wanted to prove that they were equal to my outdoor rides, so I tried to ride the same speed outside that I was doing inside.  Big mistake.  It was a challenge for me to keep my average speed above 16 mph, whereas indoors it was my typical easy ride.  That just goes to show that riding indoors, whether it be a bike on a trainer or a spin bike, is not on the same level as being outside dealing with wind and a variety of rolling terrain.  It’s still better than not riding at all.

I finish these efforts and often reflect as to how close I was to the actual workout, and often times I am shooting myself in the foot.  Even with my constant achy legs and what seems like quickly diminishing ability to go fast at 55, I can’t seem to remember sometimes that the goal is to pace myself throughout the 30 weeks of training so I can adequately pace myself through 140.6 miles, or at Chattanooga 144.6 miles.  I gotta stop being my own worst enemy.

 

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No Drake!  No steps back!!!

 

 

Week 5 Training Totals:

Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 51.6 miles > Runs: 4 total / 21 miles

 

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1/6 of the training is DONE!

 

 

 

 

Attitude is Everything

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 2 – Monday 3/11/19 – Sunday 3/17/19

I ended this week with the typical Sunday run and was not in a good place mentally.  I woke up on this fine St. Patrick’s Day to find about an inch of freshly fallen snow and I immediately slumped my shoulders and trudged downstairs.  Will this winter never end?  Come on, already!  I also had strained my upper left leg groin muscle on Friday’s easy run.  I can’t even go easy and not injure something anymore.  It seems my attitude lately has been pretty low.

My fellow Gunner teammates are feeling somewhat off as well.  In our group text chats this week we complained about the change to Daylight Savings Time and how that has screwed us up; our necks (Alex) and butts (me) hurting on the bike training; Alex declaring “I HATE THIS SPORT” after a windy, cold, and wet ride that was mentally draining for him; and to wondering why this sport costs so much.

By the time I got around to doing the run, the sun had pretty much melted what snow had fallen, leaving the paved trail void of any slippery spots.  As I made it around the block I questioned if I had dressed warmly enough and continued on into the nature preserve where it wasn’t long until I encountered two dogs being walked off-leash and in the preserve where they weren’t allowed.  They didn’t bother me physically, but mentally I wondered why can’t people follow the rules.  As I began climbing the hills on this run I paid close attention to that strained groin and hoped that I would not strain it more.  I backed off when I felt like it might be getting bothered and promised myself to take it easy today.  Heading back home in the last mile of the 6 total miles I ran I almost got hit by a lady who must believe that stop signs are optional, and that yielding the right of way to a pedestrian who was actually crossing the street at the time was not in her ability.  When she finally looked left and saw me she gave me the most puzzled look, like what the f*ck was I doing there in the street.  The look changed from surprise to screw you, buddy, when she realized that I wasn’t happy with her ability to follow the Rules of the Road and not kill people.  It wasn’t more than 1/4 mile later when I made it to the big intersection and pressed the WALK button and waited my turn.  That’s when the next driver decided stop lights were optional when turning right on red and didn’t bother waiting for me.

As a runner, you learn to run defensively and anticipate those kinds of things, but when you deal with them nearly every run it starts to wear on you.  When I got home I realized this week should have been a fun and easy one.  Week 2 out of 30 should be fun, but it seemed it had other ideas for me and my training partners.  But when I pushed the code to open the garage door I realized that I had made it home safely, I had gotten my run in even though I had strained my muscle, and I had completed the bikes and runs for the week, preparing the foundation of another Ironman attempt.  The sun was out, the snow was gone, and in reality, things are looking pretty good.  I have to remember that a positive attitude can go a long way in making 30 weeks of training be pleasurable.  That is on me.

~

I took my bike in for a tune-up to make sure that it’s ready for riding when the weather gets better.  I’m glad I did.  Turns out the bottom bracket needed work, and one of my derailleur pulleys was cracked, so both got replaced.

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It looks like the bike is in good running shape again and ready for the season.  I can’t wait to get off the stationary bike and head outside.

 

Week 2 Training Totals:

Swims:  None     >    Rides:  3 total / 50 miles     >     Runs:  4 total / 17 miles

 

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Looking forward to Week 3!!!

 

 

 

Ironman Chattanooga Training Begins!

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 1 – Monday 3/4/19 – Sunday 3/10/19

Are we really doing this again?  Yes!

A couple of months ago, Dave’s awesome wife and our usual Ironman travel coordinator Carla texted us Ironman friends and informed us that she had secured hotels for our next Ironman.  Say that again?  You did what?!  When did we decide we are doing an Ironman?!  Usually, when I get that nauseated feeling of signing up for an Ironman it is self-inflicted.  This time Carla was causing it!  After some not-so-deep introspection as to whether I wanted to add this to my racing calendar (I already had a spring and fall marathon and some shorter tri’s on it) most of our group decided to rev up our Gunner mobiles and give it another go.  Honestly, training was not going well for my spring marathon Boston qualifying attempt, and this was a good enough reason to get out of that.  As for that Chicago Marathon that is two weeks after this Ironman race, I will see how I feel.  I may defer the race until the following year if I remember to do it in time, or I might just take it easy for two weeks post-Ironman and run Chicago as a victory lap.  I was planning on it being my last one for a while anyway.  So with that reasoning, I decided that I was in.

Training has now started for my fourth Ironman and again I am joined by my Gunner teammates, or some of them anyway.  It appears that Alex and I are the only ones officially signed up, and my life long buddy Dave (Alex’s dad) was the one who initiated the idea about doing the race so I am sure he’s probably signed up.  Jeff says he’s only in if John is in, but Jeff has started training for it too.  John skipped Louisville and has his hands full with a very young family, so I’m guessing he may miss this one as well, but I never count him out. I’m trying to pitch the easy training plan to him, which requires less training time.  There’s also talk of Jeff’s sister Jan joining us, and Dave is heavily recruiting his brother-in-law Scott to join in the fun.  That’s awesome, the more the merrier.  Also, there is a group of first-timers from the local running club that are also training for the race as well.  I’m looking forward to seeing Susan and John B. training and completing their first Ironman, and I hope we can find some time to do some training rides together.  So there are quite a few joining in the fun this time around.

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA

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Ironman Chattanooga is sponsored by Little Debbie!  I love Nutty Bars!  Wait, is it Choo or Chew?

Our adventure is taking us to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, to Ironman Chattanooga, also known by triathletes as “Choo” as in The Chattanooga Choo-choo, and sometimes “Chatty,” and has a reputation for having a fast downstream swim, a mostly gentle rolling hill bike ride through northern Georgia and back to Chattanooga, and a run with a few killer hills.  The most notable item about Choo is that the bike ride is 116 miles, four more miles than all of the other Ironman races, making this Ironman 144.6 total miles.  The veterans will say that you don’t really notice the extra four miles of cycling and that the fast swim evens out the time.  All Ironman races have unique things about them, but none of the others have an extra four miles.  I’m looking forward to adding this race to my finisher resume.

Here’s a look at the bike and run elevation comparisons from the three races I have done (in order of completion) and Choo:

The data was taken from the Ironman website, but there are lots of triathletes that say that Ironman’s reported elevations are not very accurate.  I seriously doubt that Moo has less elevation than Lou.  Regardless, the chart is pretty consistent with how I remember them.  Choo looks like an easy run compared to Moo and Lake Placid.

 

TRAINING PLAN FOR CHATTANOOGA

I’m changing up my training plan this time around.  I will once again be using Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit for training, but after following the Competitive plan in the book for my previous three races I am giving serious consideration to following the Just Finish plan with some alterations.  The main reason is that I am pretty sore all the time, and I just want to ease into the training this time around without killing myself.  The Intermediate plan seems to me does not differ much from the Competitive plan to make it worth dropping down to.  Getting the Saturday and Sunday long bikes and long runs in are what really matter, and the Just Finish plan starts off with much less time training but gradually catches up to the Competitive plan.  The big difference is that the Just Finish maxes out at two 5-hour rides, whereas the Competitive plan has two 5-hour rides, a 5:30 ride, a 5:45 ride and finishes with a 6-hour ride.  Not sure if I can handle that stuff this time around.  We’ll see how the training goes and I may increase my weekend rides and runs to follow the Competitive plan.  If the group decides to do a group ride and they are following the harder plan, then I will definitely go along with that.

As I eased into Week 1 training, I found that the Just Finish plan was less work than I had been averaging in my off-season training, so I decided to start with the Competitive plan and keep my daily efforts to about an hour of daily exercise until I’m happy using the Competitive plan, or when the Just Finish plan catches up to me.

As for swimming, I gained a lot of confidence from the training I did in 2017 for Ironman Louisville.  Lou has a similar river swim as Chattanooga and I set a swim personal best there with a 1:09 swim.  Lou has a short upstream swim portion which Choo lacks.  At Choo, it’s all downstream, and I hear that even though the water temps may prevent wetsuit usage, many still set swim personal bests.  For Lou, I basically waited until May when I opened my own swimming pool and just did two 45 minute swims a week, with the occasional hour-long swim or open water swim thrown in to keep me honest and make sure that I had the confidence I needed to swim 2.4 miles.  Swimming for 45 minutes is really no big deal, and to swim an additional 45 minutes I always thought would be no big deal as well.

So here we go again!  And I’m very excited about training for Ironman Chattanooga! GO GUNNERS!

Week 1 Training Totals:

Swims:  None     >    Rides:  4 total / 57 miles     >     Runs:  4 total / 12.25 miles

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Week 1 is always fun!

 

 

From a 3-Timer to the New-Timer: My Advice About Using “Be Iron Fit”

Be Iron Fit by Don Fink is an amazing guide to self-coaching your way to an Iron distance triathlon finish.  The book is filled with inspirational stories, great triathlon training advice, and valuable information about how to conquer 140.6 miles of swim/bike/run.  The focal point of the book is the 30-week training plans, broken down into three levels to suit the needs of most triathletes.  You can follow the “Just Finish, Intermediate” or the “Competitive” training plans.  I have used the Competitive plan for my three Ironman finishes and I was very confident that I was well prepared.

I belong to a handful of Facebook pages for the races I have done and to one awesome page in particular that is devoted to users of the book.  We often support our fellow triathletes in their goal of finishing an Ironman using Be Iron Fit, and never hesitate to offer opinions on training and racing, and help when questions arise.  Each new season brings in a new crop of first-timers that often have the same experiences and questions about the plan.  Here is my advice that I can offer you about using the book in your pursuit of becoming an Ironman.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not a coach, a top age grouper, a pro, or anything that makes me evenly remotely qualified to offer advice.  I’m just a three-time finisher sharing my thoughts on the training.)

READ THE BOOK – Most of us that hear about the book or are referred to it are looking for a training plan to follow.  Be Iron Fit has three plans to fit most peoples needs.  But that is just a part of the book.  Of course the plans are the main focus, but the book also goes into depth about training and triathlon in general.  In the book, the author Don Fink explains most of the reasoning for the method he uses. But newbies will inevitably ask a question that will be a clear indication that they didn’t read the book.  The swim training is probably the most confounding to people, myself included.  The explanations are in the book, but someone will inevitably ask what “@20sec” means.

ONE SIZE FITS ALL – Be Iron Fit is a one size fits all program.  Don Fink doesn’t have the luxury of knowing you were a great high school or collegiate swimmer, or you are a competitive cyclist, or you have qualified for the Boston Marathon.  He wrote the book to help the average Joe and Jane balance life and training in attempting long course triathlon.  Imagine a line drawn down the middle of all types of abilities.  Some of us may be right on that line, some of us may be above it, and some below.  Those on the line can do the training without many issues, and those above it may have to drop off some.  The below people may need to work harder, but should find success as well.  If you are way off the line, you may need to rethink your goals and decide if this book suits your needs.

There was a guy who joined the Facebook page devoted to BIF and had a dilemma:  He was a so-so swimmer, a so-so biker, but he humbly claimed he was an above average runner.  I looked him up on Athlinks.  He was a sub-2:50 marathoner!  Yeah, that’s above average for sure.  He struggled with the run training because he didn’t want to lose his run conditioning, dropping down from the 50+ miles of high intensity running per week to 15 minute jogs.  We suggested a personal coach, someone who could take that into account and create a training plan around that, because BIF can’t change.  So yes, Mr. or Mrs. Fastrunner, you have to adjust yourself to the plan or find alternatives.  The beauty of the program is that he has given us three levels in hopes to satisfy all athletic abilities and goals.

COACH YOURSELF/HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE – Fink gives you three levels of plans to choose from and train for Ironman.  Words of wisdom are in the book, and plenty of your questions can be answered by others seeking the same goal.  But the book can’t coach you like a real coach.  You can’t email it with a question about missing a few days of training and get a response.  You can’t have it realign your training if you get injured.  You have to do that on your own.  You have to follow the plan in order to expect the results that the plan was created for.  If you follow the plan you can expect the results you are hoping for.  But if you need to rearrange the plan to fit your life, by all means do it.  You just need to get the work in, especially the weekend workouts.

TRUST THE PLAN – How did the first couple of weeks go?  I’m guessing you have done a few 15 minute runs and have wondered how that is going to get you through a marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride.  Look, this is 30 weeks of training.  It is a long time.  You will slowly and methodically build to the point that you will be ready.  You have to adopt the motto – TRUST THE PLAN!

QUESTIONING FINK – At some point you’ll be asking what is the purpose of doing a specific workout, or you will have an issue with the heart rate training.  Or someone will say that they chose to do it differently.  It’s okay to have a different approach, but it always amuses me that these first timers think they know more than the guy that wrote the book.  He is an accomplished triathlete and well regarded, certified triathlon coach.  Stop questioning him, and TRUST THE PLAN!

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS – Someone on the Facebook page will eventually comment that they are seeing others being able to swim at a much quicker pace than they can, or that others are averaging 18 mph on their bike rides and wonder why they are not doing the same.  The truth is there is a wide range of abilities on these forums, from multiple finishers, athletes with finish times in the sub-11 hour category, and those that are at the other end of the spectrum.  Don’t compare yourself to the others in the group.  You may be in the 40-44 age group and be comparing yourself to comments made by someone in their 20’s.  What you should be aware of is the time cutoffs for the race and where you stand against them.  For most first timers, you are racing the clock, not the others on the Facebook page.

STAYING IN Z2 – You can’t stay in Z2 on your run, can you?  Neither could I when I started and I thought I was a decent runner.  Guess what?  Maybe you and I aren’t as fit as we thought we were.  Maybe the reason is most of us come from competing in shorter distance stuff where the focus is running faster and being quick.  Finishing an Ironman marathon means you have to budget your effort to go the distance.  Fink uses heart rate monitoring to help you build endurance and keep you from burning out.  If you are doing your early training stuff above the recommended HR zone, you risk overtraining and injury.  The goal is to be able to finish a marathon not just after swimming and biking in the race, but also after 30 weeks of training.  You need to learn to pace yourself.

SPINNING AT 100 RPM/100 BPM – I’m guessing you can’t do this either.  This is something that you will be able to accomplish over time, but it will take a while.  The point of this workout is to get you to learn to spin your legs on the bike in an efficient manner without taxing your muscles heavily.  These spins build cardio, promote good cycling technique, provide butt-in-saddle time to condition your butt, and keep you from overtraining.  I relied heavily on the spin during the hillier portion of my three races and watched with some amusement at the others mashing up the hills out of the saddle, only to be completely out of breath at the top of the hill.  I would usually pass them easily going up the hill, and would be much less tired at the top while they needed time to recover.  Spinning an easy gear is smart training and will also be smart racing when attacking hilly courses.  Plus you will be saving your legs for the run.

WHERE IS ZONE 3? – Go grab your book and find a workout that Fink says to do in Z3.  I’ll wait.  Did you find one?  There aren’t any.  Why?  I wondered that myself, especially when I couldn’t stay in Z2 on my local hilly running route.  Here’s my idea on it:  I think Fink knows that we will struggle with Z2, and as long as Z3 doesn’t morph into Z4, he’s okay with you being in Z3 occasionally.  But he just doesn’t want you training in it all the time.  Most of the Iron distance racing pace advice you will find is to stay within Z2 for the race, so training in Z2 is the best way for you to learn the feel of the pace.  Plus it keeps you from overtraining and injury.  I found for myself that the local hills I run on my usual running route will push me out of Z2, but it is brief and I learned that I will quickly get back to Z2.  Conclusion:  Z3 is okay, but don’t live there.

THE THINGS I DID DIFFERENTLY – I followed the Competitive plan for my three Ironman races.  I felt that I wanted to do the best I possibly could, and I had the time to put into the training that the Competitive plan called for.  Plus my training buddies were also following the Competitive plan, and we thought it was best to all be following the same plan.  But I have to confess to making some changes.

For my first race at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, I followed the plan as close as possible in training – until I could no longer stand using the heart rate monitor and staying in Z2 all the time.  Early on I was resorting to walking some of my run workouts, and being a long time runner there was just no way I was walking a run workout.  Plus, after 25 years of running, I had a pretty good sense of pace and was confident I knew what each zone felt like.  So I switched to “perceived effort,” which Fink warns against because he knows most of us can easily be enticed out of the zone he wants us to stay in.  But I understood the importance of Z2 and knew as long as I didn’t live in Z3, I would be okay, and I was.  I did Ironman Wisconsin very conservatively, finishing in 14:37.

Three years later (2016) I did Ironman Lake Placid and again followed the Competitive plan.  For this race I had gotten better at my swim technique and would sometimes skip the Friday swim workout, or just do straight swims in training when it called for a specific workout.  I always thought that the swim workouts were much more intensive than the bike or run workouts were, especially during the Base Phase of training.  As a matter of fact, I did do swim workouts in the last 10 weeks of training that took me to the 2.4 mile distance, whereas I reached 100 miles on the bike and 20 miles running only once each during training.  The other thing I did at Lake Placid was move out of Z2 more.  The cycling course there almost forces you to, and I wanted to PR badly.  I kicked hard for the last 4 miles of the run and finished strong.  I improved my times in all three disciplines, finishing in 12:52.

The most recent finish was 2017 Ironman Louisville, again following the Competitive plan.  This time though I said screw the swim workouts and did just two 45 minute swims per week for most of the plan.  Occasionally I would do some drills and throw in some tempo/speed workouts, but mostly they were just straight swims.  I did add some additional open water swims of longer lengths just to give me confidence.  My swim finish at Louisville may have been partly due to the current aided Ohio River course, but I PR’d by about 10 minutes over Lake Placid and 20 minutes faster than Wisconsin.  I finished with a PR at Ironman Louisville with a time of 11:46.

Here are some other changes I made:

  • Fink prescribes two races during training, an olympic and a half-Iron distance race. I couldn’t find a local race close enough or cheap enough to warrant racing, so I did them at home.  Luckily for me, I have a pool at home to train in, and I could relax and do them without all the anxiety and cost that comes with racing.  Plus, I didn’t want to risk an accident or injury racing.  Devoting 30 weeks to a goal is a lot of time to invest, and I didn’t want to jeopardize not getting to my A race in one piece.
  • I would sometimes skip the Sunday bike spin prior to the long run, or would do it after the run later in the day.
  • I didn’t do a single weight training workout.  Not a single one.  I hate lifting weights.  No core stuff either.  No thanks.
  • I skipped a week of training to chaperone band camp.  I missed all of the swim and bike workouts for the week, plus 4 hour weekend ride and 1.5 hour long run.  I worried about missing them, but in the end it didn’t matter.
  • Although not anything related to the training plan itself, I did buy a tri bike late in the training plan.  This was something new I had to adapt to, but it did not take long to adjust to riding an aero bike vs. a roadie.
  • As if just being an Ironman finisher wasn’t enough, I started a running streak on January 1, 2015.  This meant that I ran at least a mile on the Monday rest day, and also on the days where there wasn’t a run planned.  It was sometimes very taxing.  I was able to handle it, but it probably didn’t add much to my ability to finish an Ironman.  The only positive I can feel came from it is that I did a lot of bike/run bricks, and they became no big deal to do.

CONCLUSION – I went from being a doggy paddler afraid of open water to being a fairly confident swimmer.  I went from thinking 30 miles was a long way to bike to crossing the century mark for the first time during my first Ironman race.  I went from thinking I knew everything about running to learning new techniques.  I went from watching the Ironman World Championship on television, wondering how finishing such a race was even possible, to being able to do the distance myself.  I went from being only a runner to being a triathlete.  I went from questioning myself to having confidence in myself.  I went from fear of the unknown to having confidence in myself.

I’m a three time Ironman Finisher thanks to Be Iron Fit.  TRUST THE PLAN!