Ins and Outs of Week 17

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 17 – June 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swims: 1 – 1500 yards

Bikes: 3 – 73 miles

Runs: 4 – 23 miles

Work First, Brag Later

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 13 – May 30, 2021

I snuck into last week’s post that I have signed up for a 100-mile ultra marathon, and I did that on purpose so to downplay it somewhat.  For some reason, I am reluctant to discuss a big event like that without first doing it.  I felt the same way when I did my first Ironman in 2013.  Sure, I told people, but I felt that until I finished the race I wasn’t comfortable talking about doing it because I wasn’t sure that I actually could do it.  Ironman has taught me a few things about myself, and it’s motto of “Anything is Possible” is something I have learned to apply to myself.  Ironman gave me confidence to tackle some things that once seemed improbable or impossible for me, but until I do it I don’t want to make a big deal about it until it’s done.  Even these weekly training posts come after I have finished them, not before.

I did make some posts about the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing event I am still planning to do, but that seemed a little different to me.  It’s open-ended as far as distance is concerned, and I really just wanted to do enough to get me into that rare ultra finisher area.  My goal is seemingly attainable and I don’t fear failing.  100 miles of running, however…  that’s new territory for me.

I told my number 1 fan Carl that I was trying to keep that I am doing this race on the “down-low,” mainly because I fear that there may be a chance that I fail at it.  But what is worse, saying that I was going to try to do it and fail, or not do it at all?  I guess there’s no harm in saying that I will be in the field and attempting what most see as a pretty impressive feat, but I would rather brag about it afterward rather than build it up beforehand.  There’s a saying in Ironman, and I am paraphrasing:  Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, brag for a lifetime.  The bragging comes at the end, not at the beginning.

My plan is to keep training toward the goal, and when I get more confident through training and closer to the race, I may open up a bit and talk about it.  I find the thought process of training for an ultra to be interesting, so I may want to share those experiences.  But until then, I’m shutting up about it until it’s actually time to pat myself on the back.

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I got my first swim of 30-minutes in this week, and it reminded me that swimming is my worst portion of triathlon.  I need to slowly build to getting some swim conditioning back, and now that the pool is open that will happen.  Just need the weather to stop going from 80’s to the 50’s, which is what kept me out of my planned Thursday swim.  Brrrrr

My back has still been problematic.  It will get better, then I will overdo it and have it get sore again.  This week ended with a trip to my lake home, so I was a little worried about overdoing it with the yard work that needed to be done. I skipped the Saturday workout and did it on Sunday. It was nice to do some biking in a different location for a change. The ride resulted in a big bonk and I struggled a bit, but I got the 3-hour ride and 30-minute run done. I will do the 1.5-hour run on Monday Memorial Day but that run will be in next week’s totals.

Taking a minute to enjoy the view and contemplate why I do this dumb sport.

Swims:  1 – 1400 yards

Bikes:  3 –  74.5 miles

Runs:  3 –  10 miles

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I Wonder… About Week 12

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 12 – May 23, 2021

I spend a lot of time wondering about things out there on my swims, rides, and runs. Here are some wonderings about Week 12.

I wonder… why Week 12 is a dial-back week in training? It seems like we just started the new build phase, and two weeks into it I get an easier week. I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I wonder… what it’s like to be a farmer? As I ride through the rural farmland just south of Chicago it appears that the farmers have gotten really busy in the past week. The dirt has been turned, some small green sprouts are emerging from the fields, and there has been plenty of tractor traffic on the roads that I ride. But as I watch them go about doing farmer things, I wonder if it is fun or difficult work.

I wonder… why casual cyclists don’t bother with helmets or even eye protection when they ride? The bugs are starting to come out and I have had several hit me in the face with enough force to sting. I certainly wouldn’t want to have one hit me in the eye. And to the guy wearing a helmet without it buckled – it’s not going to help you out if it falls off your head as you crash. Seems like common sense.

I wonder… why I don’t pre-hydrate more? It’s getting warm and I need to hydrate more through the day instead of after working out. Playing catch-up with hydration is more work than just being more hydrated before and during the workout.

I wonder… where this speed on the bike is coming from all of a sudden? Two longer rides this week had averages of 18.2 mph when I normally sit around 17 mph. Plus I felt pretty good through those rides as well. Hopefully, it wasn’t just the tailwinds on the second half of the rides making me speedy.

I wonder… how many more of these Ironman races I will do? I didn’t do the first one in Wisconsin with a goal of getting to Kona, and unless I can somehow fit a total of twelve races in my remaining time as an aging triathlete, I’m not sure if I can accomplish that. I’m not sure if I even want to do Kona. There are some other things I would still like to experience before I’m well into my sixties.

I wonder… what it’s like to run a 100-mile ultra? Doing that seems as hard as completing an Ironman. I do still have my backyard ultra on the calendar for August, but since I’m doing Chattanooga I kind of figured that I would just use it as a run training day and probably won’t go more than 30-40 miles.

I wonder… if the training for Ironman would be enough to train me for a 100-mile ultra-running race?

I wonder… if I should fess up and tell the wife that I am signed up for the Tunnel Hill 100 Mile Ultra in November?

I wonder… if I should stop wondering before it gets me into more trouble?

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I opened the pool this week as it was predicted to be near 90 degrees for several days. It was a good move I think, and it only took 2-3 days to get it swimmable.  Now I have no more excuses for not swimming.  Yay.

I also saw this coyote on my Saturday bike ride.  I think we each surprised each other.

Swims:  1 – 1000 yards

Bikes:  3 – 78 miles

Runs:  5 – 21.5 miles

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One-Third Into the Training

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 10 – May 8, 2021

Ten weeks into the 30-week Ironman training plan and feeling great!  It goes by quickly!  It’s kind of scary actually, knowing that the base phase is over and I am now heading into the build phase.  But the next ten weeks is nothing new for me, I know what to expect and I look forward to training well into the summer and enjoying some good weather for a change.  

Speaking of the weather, it’s been a typical up and down spring so far.  There’s been a lack of rain, but if it’s not rain forcing me indoors it’s a cold day doing it. This week had a couple of good days and I took advantage of them.  I had a good run on Friday, swapping out the planned hour long run with Sunday’s 1.5-hour long effort.  I’m traveling on Sunday to Nashville, so I made sure I got my long run in.  

I joined the local group for a ride out to the Monee Reservoir and surrounding areas on Saturday.  It was a little chilly but I warmed up well.  I tend to push myself harder in the group rides basically trying to keep up with my idol Charlie, but I will allow getting out of my comfort zone and not follow the plan every once in a while.  Charlie is out of the comfort zone every ride and kicks my ass.  Maybe I should do that more often.  

Off to Nashville to pick up my Vanderbilt kid, Rebecca.  She’s 1/4 done with college!  It goes by quickly.

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 rides, 87.5 miles

Runs:  3 runs, 19.25 miles

Regretfully Inspiring Others

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 8 – April 26, 2021

I’m a day late with this post thanks to a weekend trip to the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, that in a matter of three days my wife and I experienced spring, summer, and winter.  That time of the year I guess.

This week a coworker of mine, Tom, took the plunge and signed up for his first triathlon – a 70.3 distance event in Indiana in October.  I always feel pretty good about inspiring others to join in on the fun I have doing this dumb sport.  It took a few years of working there to get someone to give triathlon a try.  Actually, my supervisor Micah may have been the first to do a one, but I think he had already participated in one or two before, so I am not sure I can take credit for his misery.  With the pride comes a little regret, however, because this sport is going to be a shock to him.  He’s a total newbie, and he thinks he’s going to win.  Well, that’s a little bit of a stretch.  His brother also signed up, and his brother is the one who thinks he will win, and Tom won’t let his little brother win, therefore, Tom thinks he will win.  Follow me?

Tom texted me with his exciting news that he had signed up.  I asked him if he had thrown up yet.  He replied that his heart had started racing and that he’s nervous.  I replied with a laughing emoji and that his reaction is pretty normal. I’m not sure if that made him feel any better.

I say I have a little regret about inspiring him to take on a half-iron distance race, and that is mainly due to knowing what he is up against.  First of all, he has a bike (that I sold to him) and a pair of Under Armor running shoes.  Tom played football, and football players wear Under Armor.  At least that covers the bare minimum.  He said that he was in shock from the cost of the race, and add to the fact that he is redoing his kitchen right now, he’s really going to be in shock from cost everything else he will and might need:  a helmet, a trisuit, cycling shoes, a wetsuit, tires, etc.  Plus he is dealing with an upper leg injury that may impact his training.

But don’t fret, Tom.  I’ll be there to help you out in anyway that I can.  Whatever equipment that I have that will fit your body you can use.  Come on over to my house to swim.  I’ll gladly give you unqualified advice on how to not drown.  And I will answer any other questions that you may have.  We’ll do some training together, and I will do my best to help you beat your brother and win the race.  Well, I can kind of promise that you’ll finish.  And that will be an awesome thing.

~~~

This was a little bit of a pull-back week for me in the plan.  The weather forced some of my training indoors and I did some easy treadmill runs and found that the leg injury from last week seems to be okay now.  I did aggravate it a little on Saturday when I ran a little too hard.  I’m cramping in my calf muscles when I push hard on the bike, so there may be causation there with the running injury.  I will dial back the intensity for a while.  There are 22 weeks to go, no sense in burning myself out now.

Swims: 0

Bikes: 3 – 62 miles

Runs: 3 – 13 miles

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Inspiring Motivation

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 4 – March 28, 2021

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.

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My four finisher hats.

 

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 – 39 miles

Runs:  5 – 20 miles

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One Tenth Done

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 3 – March 21, 2021

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.

I am one-tenth done with this plan!

Swims:  0

Bikes:  3 – 48 miles

Runs: 4 – 22 miles

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I’m Not Freaking Out, You Are!

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 29 – Monday 9/16/2019 – Sunday 9/22/2019

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.

 

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The piece that keeps my saddle attached to the bike.  Yeah, kinda important.

 

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:

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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.  

 

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THANK YOU TAPER!  ON TO RACE WEEK!

 

 

 

 

 

Not Fun Anymore

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 28 – Monday 9/9/2019 – Sunday 9/15/2019

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.

 

WEEK 28 TRAINING TOTALS:

Swims: 1 total, 2800 total yards

Rides: 3 total, 100 total miles

Runs: 5 total, 32 total miles

 

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There’s no future in dying according to my buddy Carl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dreaded Week 27 – Part 4

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 27 – Monday 9/2/2019 – Sunday 9/8/2019

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.

 

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Taking a break at 2.5 hours into the six-hour ride to refill my water bottles and give my butt a rest.  Does it look like I’m dreading the rest of the ride?

 

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.

 

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Proof that I am crazy.

 

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.

 

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One last boat ride before pulling it out of the water for the season.

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.

 

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I went by Madison, Wisconsin today and didn’t even have time to stop and watch Ironman Moo!