This past week was a kind of a week that lacked motivation for me. I’m not sure if the oft-changing rainy and windy spring weather had something to do with it, but I just wasn’t motivated to put in the effort.
In addition to what I felt was a worthless 30-minute bike ride that I barely broke a sweat with, I was dreading an easy-paced 30-minute run for some reason. I had been watching the weather and I was anticipating the rain to start right when I usually begin my workout. I am lucky to have access to a treadmill at work and also at home, but I loathe running on them so much that I only do it when I can’t run outside. But the rain hadn’t started yet, so I told myself to get out there. This run didn’t start out so well. First, I wasn’t in the mood to run, but I decided to run from my office to the local trail, which seemed like an uphill climb. My heart rate climbed to the point that I felt like it was reminding me how out of shape I am and how much work there is yet to do. But as I got to the flat trail I settled into a slow rhythm and found a suitable pace.
About a mile into the run I passed three walkers heading in the opposite direction from me, what appeared to be an older couple walking with their adult daughter having a lively conversation, but what she was wearing on her head instantly caught my eye – an Ironman finisher hat. Knowing what it takes to earn a hat like that was enough to make me forget about the self-loathing that had been in my head. I have four of those hats myself, and I am looking for a fifth. They aren’t easy to earn. But earn them I did. And earning them sometimes means doing a workout when you aren’t really wanting to.
I picked up my pace a little, ran with a little more strut, and added a short weightlifting workout after the run that I had no desire to do beforehand.
Sometimes something simple can be a great motivator.
Week 3 went by pretty quickly and was mostly unremarkable really. The few things I thought about maybe discussing here have long evaporated from my mind, and after a beautiful weekend, I was thinking more about having some great weather for a change, rather than some triathlon or running topic to opine about.
I swapped my Saturday ride with Sunday’s run so that I could join the local running group for an early morning group run. I’m glad that I did. Normally group outings for me usually mean that I will find myself running or riding by myself, but this time I fell in with Pat, who also did the 2018 Boston Marathon when I did it, and another guy named Bill, who is married to someone who also works for the same employer that I do. It was nice to have some conversations with others for a change, instead of me talking to myself. It was a nice 8-mile run.
Sunday’s bike was a bit of a challenge heading south due to the wind, but it was nice to have a great tailwind pushing me along back home. There was a group ride scheduled for later in the afternoon, but those guys have been doing some serious indoor riding all winter and there’s no way I would last with them. Plus, I chose to follow my planned hour and 45-minute ride. Stick with my plan, and forget what the others are doing.
My friend Susan commented about how I had started my training already, as she has not yet begun hers. Her plan is shorter in duration apparently, and I think that I could also get by with a 20 or 25-week plan, but the 30-week plan I follow has been reliable for me and has consistently proven itself to prepare me well. The thing about waiting to start the plan because you feel that you have a pretty good fitness base already doesn’t make much sense to me. It just tells me that you are training, just not following a specific workout. I have a pretty good base built up as well, but I’m following a plan instead of just winging it before starting. In the end, I guess it’s a wash. This is why I’m not a coach. There are so many ways to personalize training.
One week until race day! And it’s getting a little crazy in my world. Even after going through this three times now, I still get anxious and nervous and slightly bonkers knowing what is coming up. I basically go to sleep thinking about Ironman, and it’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up. It does consume my thoughts, that is for sure. But the majority of the things that can worry me are the things that are in my control. It’s the out of control stuff that people really freak out about. Here are some examples of things I freak out about, both in my control and out of it.
Last week I noticed that my bike was no longer shifting from the big ring to the small ring on the crank. This could be a big problem for me as I spend a lot of my time spinning in the small ring, especially up hills. I decided to give my bike a good cleaning and see if I could find what was causing it not to shift. I figured it was probably junked up with sweat/Gatorade/road debris, etc., but the cable is not allowing it to move the chain. This will probably require a new cable, which also means a trip to the bike shop. I took the bike into the shop and was told I would get it back in a couple of days. Just as I thought, the cable was frayed inside the housing and they replaced it, and also performed a tune-up on the rest of the components. That freak out was definitely one I could deal with, although having to deal with it so close to race day was not comforting.
When I got the bike back I brought it home and decided to adjust the seat a little, and that is when I noticed the clamp that holds the saddle to the seat post was cracked! Yikes! Can you imagine having that break during the race and having to ride standing up for 116 miles? OMG. I took off the part and headed back to the bike shop and thankfully they had another one, and it only cost me $6.40.
The other thing that is freaking us all out is the weather, and this is something none of us can control. Most weather apps are predicting the weather in Chattanooga on race day to be 96 degrees with 53% humidity, meaning a possible real feel temperature of about 105 degrees. 100% sunshine and very little wind the last time I checked it. I can’t control that, but I can prepare for it. I plan on taking extra electrolytes with me on the bike and run, and to hydrate like crazy leading up to Sunday and during the race. I added some extra sunscreen to my bike special needs bag just in case and will make sure to not leave transition without having a volunteer lather me up with the stuff. I also plan on really keeping a close eye on how I feel and making sure that I don’t overdo the bike. Being smart on the bike sets you up for a good run, and that’s my plan.
With the heat being what it is, I am sure that the swim will not be wetsuit legal. I can easily get through a quick sprint triathlon without the wetsuit, but an Ironman swim is a heck of a lot longer. Fortunately, at Chattanooga, the swim is current aided, and I am pretty confident that I can swim the course easily without it. I practiced using a swim skin, a type of swimsuit you wear over your tri suit that reduces water friction I guess, but it was very tight and was rubbing my neck quite a bit. Not sure I want to chafe my neck and then sweat on that sore spot for 13 more hours in the race.
I always let Carla handle the hotels for us and she has never let us down. Thankfully that is one thing I am not freaking out about. Carla is the best!
Saturday was the worst for me and got to thinking too much about what is going on, not just with the race but with family and everything else. Fortunately, Sunday came and I got in a good run and realized that this sport is just about doing three things in one day. All of which is heavily supported with volunteers and people stand around cheering you on. I’m going to have a blast in Chattanooga.
Then Dave hit us with this:
Now I’m freaking out again!
WEEK 29 TRAINING TOTALS:
Swims: 2 total, 4200 total yards
Rides: 3 total, 65 total miles
Runs: 5 total, 22 total miles
Note: I will wrap up Week 30 when I write my race report.
I was having a great week, I really was. Then Sunday came along and I’m not sure that I am wanting to do this anymore.
I’m going to cut to the point. I pissed off an asshole driver for the simple reason of riding my bike. Not once, but twice – by the same fucking driver 3.5-hours apart. It seems that this driver doesn’t want to share the road with a cyclist, which was me. Pulled up behind me both times, blasted her fucking horn and then passed by so close that I could touch her damn Nissan Juke. The second time she pulled in front of me and slammed on her brakes. Nice. Whatever the fuck she needed to do – what could it be? Go to the grocery store? Go get gas? whatever – it was more important to her than my fucking life. I have some video of her doing this, but not of the slam on the brakes part because my camera battery on the front of my bike had died. Oh well.
You can see in the video that I’m blocking a little because there are a curb and a median right after crossing the tracks and if I even hint that there might be enough room to pass me, my experience is that they will try to do it. She must have been really pissed to have to deal with my old ass not once, but twice.
I could quit riding roads and stick to the trails, but guess what? That’s even worse. The people on the trail are ten times riskier than car drivers and no one polices the trail.
Most of the time I feel pretty safe, but it only takes one time, one instance to make me question doing this at all.
I will take the video to the local police tomorrow and show them, but it probably won’t do any good. I’m guessing they probably hate old dumb ass guys on bikes too.
The Dreaded Week 27 is over! And two days ahead of schedule. I have followed this training plan four times, and I should know by now that yes it is hard, but I always get it done, and it’s usually no big deal. It’s just that after the previous 26 weeks of training, I get to the point that I have had enough. But it’s done, and it’s time now to start pulling back and coasting into the race on September 29th.
I’m not sure how I keep track of anything going on in my non-triathlon training life right now, but I’m writing this wrap-up on Sunday evening as usual and I don’t even remember much about this week. Life here in our household is insanely crazy, and it’s not going to get any easier until late October!
The Dreaded Week 27 is dreaded because it is the longest and most difficult of the 30 weeks of training in my Ironman training plan. The weekend workout calls for a six-hour ride with an hour-long run right afterward on Saturday, and then it’s followed by a three-hour-long run on Sunday. But guess what? I had to move them to Thursday and Friday because I needed to go to my lake home and get my boat out of the water and do some winterizing of the boat and house. There are literally no free weekends to take care of that responsibility until after Halloween, so it had to be done. It was kind of a blessing actually because I didn’t have two extra days to fret about doing that long ride and long run.
The weather turned cool and the 20-mile run went pretty well. The plan just wants you to get in three hours of running, but I decided that I would shoot for 20 miles regardless of the time it takes me. Fortunately, I felt pretty good and got out and back on my route in 2:53.
I took the day off from work on Friday and hit the road by 7 am. It was another cloudy day but not as cool as Thursday was. I was a little worried that my legs would be a little tired trying to ride 100 miles after running 20 miles the day before, but they felt fine. It was my butt that didn’t like it.
My butt hates me. I’m not sure if I am capable of making it happy. I have been training as much as I can in the tri suit that I bought for this event, and even though it is comfortable enough, I’m not sure the chamois pad is working for me. I’ve tried creams, lotions, band-aids, silicon type spray, etc. and nothing seems to make the miles less strenuous on my sit bones. That’s the real issue. You can’t really distribute the weight around on a tiny tri bike seat. Most of the contact is made in a small spot and the constant pressure and movement of my legs end up causing the discomfort. It’s not that I can’t ride 100 miles or the 116 miles of Ironman Chattanooga this way, it’s just not going to be enjoyable.
Anyway, the bike ended just at 100 miles and just a couple minutes below 6 hours. I had to really give myself a strong pep talk to change shoes and go for an hour-long run, but once I started out the door it was over after 6 miles. Nice and easy run at a pace I described as “I don’t want to do this run” pace.
I tried to relax after that and wait until Kari came home. She’s been swamped at work and our planned trip north to Minocqua didn’t get started until 7 pm. We decided to drive up to Madison and stay the night. That was a good move. We got there Saturday morning and got so busy that training and my butt didn’t even come into my mind. I think being up there also improved Kari’s mood too. That’s what lake life can do for you.
The Dreaded Week 27 is over. The boat is out of the water and winterized. Nothing more to dread until race day.
WEEK 27 TRAINING TOTALS:
Swims: 1 total, 2800 total yards
Rides: 2 total, 119 total miles
Runs: 4 total, 37 total miles
The totals are a little less than last week but I lost two days of training when I moved Saturday/Sunday to Thursday/Friday.
Dave came to join me for the Saturday long ride, a planned 5.5-hour ride with an hour-long brick run right after. As he was getting ready I saw that he was doing a little pre-ride carb-loading with what looked like a Little Debbie Nutty Bar.
“Is that a Nutty Bar?” I asked. “Yeah, do you want one?”
Do I want one? That’s like offering a junkie a fix. That’s like asking a dog if he wants a bone. That’s like asking a fisherman if he wants to go fishing. That’s like asking… well, you get the point. At one time I was addicted to the dang things. I would buy a box weekly and have one for my mid-afternoon snack. When I go on car trips and stop for gas, the snack I look for is a Nutty Bar or a Payday if the gas station is dumb enough to not stock Nutty Bars.
So back to the question – did I want one? You bet I did. But seeing that I had just eaten breakfast and also was dealing with a pre-ride nervous stomach, I didn’t want to chance eating one and regret my decision. So I very reluctantly took a pass.
So onward we rode heading south and west on the route I take because it’s the safest and best riding from where I live, but that can be an issue if the wind is not in your favor. We could tell that the wind was going to be in our faces coming back as we rode out with ease. But as we turned around, it didn’t seem to be too much of a struggle.
At the turn around we filled up our water bottles and Dave texted his brother John that we would swing by his house to pick him up. John had done Wisconsin and Lake Placid with us, but his growing little family has now taken priority in his life. So we were looking forward to riding with him.
We finally got to his place and I could see he was having some issues with his bike. He showed us his chain and it looked like he had tied the chain in two knots. Quite a head-scratcher for sure, but we got it sorted out and hit the trail for home. When we got to downtown Frankfort, this younger guy on a mountain bike asked as we passed if he could join us. I don’t think any of us said yes to him, but he grabbed on to us as we were trying to meander our way back through Frankfort that was extremely busy with the annual Labor Day Fall Fest. Dave and John both rode up and told me that this guy was behind us, so I pushed the pace and tried some different routes to see if we could drop him or get him to get bored with us, but he hung on. We finally got close to my house and stopped and told the guy the ride was over. I guess that was all it took and he said he’d ride around Mokena for awhile. I got to hand it to him, he kept up with us at times doing 25 mph or so on a mountain bike.
The run went well and we both came back ready to be done with the day. I offered Dave the opportunity to jump in the pool for a cool down, but he declined. He loaded up his gear in the car and we said our goodbyes. As I walked away, he said: “Hey, do you want a Nutty Bar?” I reluctantly declined again, this time with a chuckle. I didn’t think a Nutty Bar sitting in a warm car would be very tasty, and I kind of wanted some real food so once again I reluctantly passed.
They better have Nutty Bars at the finish line of Ironman Chattanooga.
Granted, I’m a pretty moody SOB to begin with, but this week I was in a funk. After training for four Ironman events, I should know by now that come about this time during training that I can get moody. Week 25 in my thirty-week training plan is usually when I am sick of the training and just want to get it over with. I’m not alone in that, plenty of triathletes get that way judging from the posts I read on Facebook this week.
It started last week really when I had sort of a rough Saturday long ride and run workout. It wasn’t bad, but I felt like it wore me out more than it should have and that I should have my hydration and nutrition better dialed in by now.
Then on Wednesday, I realized it was the 40th anniversary of my father’s passing. I spent some time reflecting on that for some reason. Truthfully, I don’t really remember mourning his passing when I was 15 years old and usually, the day passes by without me even noticing. But I did remember this week and got reflective about it.
The following day I had a work event in the evening that I wasn’t really excited about doing. The event was just not my thing, but I went and realized that I was silly to feel the way I did. My coworkers appreciated my effort even though I was in a mood, and I realized the people there were fighting things in life that I had no idea about. I’ve written about attitude before and reminded myself about being more understanding and appreciative of others and their personal battles.
But on Friday I had a good day. The weather got cool – temps in the ’70s for late August made for a great 1.5-hour run. Saturday was also beautiful. My 5.5-hour bike ride was awesome. I dialed back the effort a little and found that I didn’t wear myself out as much as I usually do. I think if I plan to ride about 17mph in the race it will be a good tempo to leave me feeling good for the marathon. I never felt dehydrated or without energy, and the hour-long run afterward went great. Sunday was another great weather day and the 16.5 miles of my 2.5-hour run seemed to float by.
The weather certainly made a huge difference in my attitude. I am really hoping this trend continues to race day. A great day will make for a much better mood for me. Five more weeks of training and I am now kind of looking forward to it.
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.
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.
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.
Last week my training buddies and I opted to switch training Weeks 22 and 23 so that we could do Week 23’s long ride together. So this week I went back to Week 22 in the Be Iron Fit training plan and did the work. Week 22 is sort of an easier week ending in a half Iron distance race, which I always do on my own instead of opting for an actual race. I am a little afraid that racing against a thousand or more other athletes could lead to an accident or other injuries that could jeopardize all of the work I have been putting in up to this point. I just prefer to tackle it on my own.
Last time I did this workout was in 2017, leading up to Ironman Louisville. I had a pretty decent day that day and had a good swim and bike. It was the run that beat me. I ended up having to cut it short and get an unofficial DNF (did not finish) to my one-man race. That day I got beat. You can read that recap here: It Beat Me
I was determined to do this one a little smarter and not suffer like I did in 2017. I looked at the weather and saw that Sunday had some rain forecasted, so I opted to do the practice race a day earlier. Saturday started out beautiful. The temperature was in the 60’s, it was overcast, and there was no wind or breeze to speak of. I jumped into the pool and got going.
I swam pretty strong, pushing myself harder than I usually do. Since my watch won’t read correctly in my pool, I just based my distance on what I have done in actual half Iron distance swims in the past. I swam for 40 minutes and then got out and prepped myself for the bike.
After reapplying Body Glide in the usual locations and fiddling with my bike and gizmos, I hopped on and hit the road. I hadn’t ridden west to Elwood in several weeks, so I decided to go that route. I knew that I would probably have to add on some extra miles, and when I got to the cemetery out there and after I looped through it once my odometer showed about 25 miles. I needed an additional 6 miles or so. I decided to explore a little and added a quick extra three miles on a nearby road or two, then started heading back.
I was keeping track of my sweating and with a couple of nature stops, I was pretty sure that I was doing pretty good with keeping on top of my hydration and fueling. I was fortunate to not have really any wind heading out and I seemed to pick up a tailwind as I was heading back, which was really rare for me. I was moving along well.
This doggo provided some entertainment toward the last third of the ride.
At about 47 miles into riding, I saw another rider coming up on a side road and eventually passed me. I could tell he was on a mission to pass me and make it known that he was Top Dog on this road. I started studying him a little – he seemed like a typical cyclist, who liked to climb out of the saddle (which I hardly ever do) and had a nice Willier bike. He was pulling away going up a slight uphill, but when we started the downhill after cresting, I pulled him back in thanks to being more aerodynamic than he was. He kept looking over his shoulder and finally slowed down and let me catch him. We chatted a little bit and he turned off on another road and I went straight toward home.
Upon getting home, I was pretty close to hitting that 56 mile ride on the nose. I ended up with an additional .75 miles due to overestimating a second out and back of about 3 miles. I came inside, downed a Gatorade, toweled myself off, switched to a running singlet, grabbed my running stuff and hit the trail.
I felt pretty good heading out until I didn’t. My route starts and ends with hills. The middle is all flat, but it was sunny now and getting warm. I was sweating a lot and with only one water bottle, I was being a little too miserly with drinking. Fortunately, I was heading toward Frankfort where I could refill my water. But I was now running on fumes. I had been consistent with eating my gels and taking a salt capsule, but the day was certainly starting to become very much like the last time I did it in 2017. But I refused to let it beat me. I started walking more, sought out more shade when I could, and just kept moving forward. The plan was to be under 2 hours for this run, but I thought early on that that was an ambitious goal. I ended up getting back home in 2:09. That’s probably pretty close to Ironman run race pace, so not quite what I wanted for a half Iron distance race pace, but more in line with what to expect in seven weeks.
I spent some time in the pool to cool off, downed a couple Gatorades, started shivering and ended up taking a 20-minute hot shower to warm me back up. I got out of the shower and jumped into bed and napped for a little bit. I was actually feeling a little worse than I did after last week’s 5-hour group ride. This was not how I expected the day to end, especially after having a really good swim and bike. Now I know not to hammer the bike too hard and to drink more. Lots more.
I was determined to not be beaten like I was in 2017, and I wasn’t. But it wasn’t pretty either. I have seven more weeks to dial this in.
We pulled the old switcharoo with the plan when Dave advised that Alex would be in town this weekend, so the training plan for this week was swapped with the one for next week.
The weather was pretty great this week, often just barely getting into the low 80’s, but it gradually climbed through the week and was pretty warm on Saturday and Sunday. I was glad for the cooler temps as I was volunteering for a second week at the high school band camp. Our band no longer goes to an actual camp, but rather opts to stay at the school and learn the competitive show for the fall season without the distractions of being away from home. Camp was a success, and I was still able to get in my workouts.
On Saturday I drove out to Dixon to meet with Dave and Alex and we started our ride around 8:30 am. I like riding out there with them as it provides a different type of riding and scenery. Dave says the same thing when he joins me on my routes.
The plan was to ride out for 2.5 hours and back. At the three hour mark, we stopped at the town of Lanark and filled up our water bottles for the remaining two-hour ride back.
Alex and I goofed around while we waited for Dave to fill his bottles numerous times.
I was glad for that little break and we hit the road to head back. Not much longer after that Alex started getting a little nauseated, and truthfully, I was getting dehydrated on this warm upper 80 degree day. We kept at it but by the time we got back, we were beat.
Alex did about 10 minutes of the 45-minute brick run, but I summoned some extra will and joined Dave for 4.5 miles of post-ride running. I was glad we got it done, but I was bonked. It took a while to rehydrate but after a shower and some refueling at the local Subway, I was feeling better again.
I spent the drive home and the evening thinking about skipping the two hour Sunday run, but I woke up and decided to hit the trail. I felt pretty good, got in 12.5 miles at an easy Z2 pace, and patted myself on my back for not bailing on the run. Sometimes you want to quit on a workout, and this one would have been excusable in my mind, but when you pull on the shoes and get out there it really builds your character. I didn’t quit on myself, and when the hard part of the training and the race comes, I will remember that.