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.

 

 

 

The Comparison Trap

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 6 – Monday 4/8/19 – Sunday 4/14/19

I’m on a few Facebook group pages devoted to running, triathlon and some of the races I’ve done, and I have seen people post training and racing results that others will compare themselves to.  I have done that in the past as well, but I learned that when you have a large group of athletes, there are going to be some that are really fast and some that are at the other end of the spectrum.  I usually warn people, especially beginners to avoid comparing their times to those of others who may have been high school or college athletes, or who are twenty years younger than they are, or just simply more gifted athletically.  But this week I kind of fell into that trap as well.

There was a guy who posted on a local cycling page that I was recently added to who claimed that he was going to ride on Saturday and asked if anyone wanted to join him for the two-hour ride.  I was tempted to join in until I saw that he intended to ride at 18-20 mph.  Really?  Is your name Lance?  Last week I rode very hard and out of my planned Z2 heart rate zone and could only barely manage 16 mph.  Then others were commenting on his post like they would join him if they hadn’t already ridden earlier.  I was taken aback by these people and their apparent ability to ride fast.  I commented, “You all can go that pace?!”  I really had trouble believing that some of these people could average that pace this early in the spring.  I’m a 3-time Ironman dang it!  Why can’t I do that too?  So I got on my bike again and tried to see what I could do on a pretty windy day.  My results were pretty much as I expected, 33 miles in 2 hours, averaging right around 16 mph, and way out of my Z2 training zone.

I looked up Mr. 18-20 MPH on Athlinks, a website that basically will show the results of races for anyone who has signed up and raced.  Although he didn’t have any cycling results on Athlinks, he did have some running results.  Those results were what I expected; a couple two hour half marathons and a nearly 5.5-hour marathon.  I now doubted his ability a little more.  But I know another guy on that page that struggles with running but can definitely kick butt on the bike.  I reminded myself that generally cycling doesn’t make you a better runner, and running doesn’t make you a good cyclist.  However, it did make me wonder what I am doing wrong that I can’t do that tempo as well.  Then I realized that I fell into that comparison trap where I am comparing myself to someone I really have no idea of how fit he really is on the bike.  I need to just worry about myself and progress slowly for 30 weeks to complete my goal.  His goal isn’t mine, and I just need to remember that.

 

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I took a road I never use and ended up getting turned around a little.  I took a quick moment to document my dumb self.

 

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Best I could do on a windy day.

 

The weather this week was crazy.  Some of the days were very spring-like and yet old man Winter would remind us that he’s not done yet and dump snow on us again.  My Sunday run was forced indoors due to a crazy mid-April snow storm.  Summer needs to get here fast!

Week 6 Training Totals:

Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 61.6 miles > Runs: 4 total / 23 miles

 

 

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One of my favorite running quotes:  “Comparing our performances to the performances of other runners is not nearly as constructive as comparing our performances to our own potentials.”  – Jack Nelson

 

 

Two For One Training Update

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEKS 3 AND 4 – Monday 3/18/19 – Sunday 3/31/19

I am a little behind in the weekly logging of my Ironman training due to leaving for spring break and not having access to a computer, as well as not having any desire to post about it as I was trying to enjoy my vacation.  So I will wrap up the past two weeks with one post.

Week 3 was going just fine until I strained another high leg/groin muscle, this time in my left leg.  This left me very sore and unable to run.  The same injury happened a few weeks ago in my right leg, which left me unable to get in the mileage I was hoping to do while training for a spring marathon.  Due to that lack of training due to injury, and the fact that I had signed up for this Ironman, I decided to pull the plug on attempting to run another marathon and try for another Boston Marathon qualifier.  I ran Boston for the first time in 2018 and it was really all I needed to accomplish with it.  I found the journey of getting there to be more rewarding than actually running Boston.  By the time Boston rolled around I was overtrained, tired of killing myself, and thanks to one of the worst weather days in the history of the race, it wasn’t much fun.  The emotions of finishing my first Boston Marathon were special, especially on that day, but I will cherish the effort it took to get there more than the race itself, as I ran it much like a victory lap that I couldn’t really enjoy due to the weather.  Enough about Boston.  I pulled the plug on the upcoming marathon because there was no way I would be ready, and I didn’t want anything messing up my Ironman training.  Boston will have to wait until a time in the future when I really want to do it again.  I will get to enjoy watching my son and his girlfriend run Boston for their first time instead of running it with them.  Actually, running it “with” them isn’t even a possibility, as they are much faster than I am.

So in Week 3, I was only able to get in one 5-mile run.  Biking wasn’t affected and I was able to get in what I needed to.  I rode the Saturday 1 hour 45-minute ride on Friday instead because I was leaving on vacation Saturday.  One thing I was able to accomplish with my bum leg was to work on a small portion of my running path that is plagued with potholes.  I took a shovel and filled them in and was proud of my work.

Week 4 was a week for touring the Confederate South, as my wife and I took our daughter on a college visit tour of two southern colleges, Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, and the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  On the trip back home, we also stopped in West Lafayette, Indiana for a look at Purdue University.   There was a lot of walking involved in these tours, a lot of sitting in cars, and not a lot of great opportunities to workout.  I did squeeze in a spin bike workout in the hotel gym with a short two-mile brick added to it on Tuesday and decided not to worry about missing anything else.

We did a 4.5-mile hike in Gatlinburg, Tennessee through some relatively tough terrain.  Lots of uphill walking, stones, and climbing.  It was a good alternative workout.  I’ll take it.

 

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Becca and I hiking in Tennessee

 

We walked a ton during the tour of Purdue.  It was a big campus and the tour guides walked us everywhere.

Upon getting back home on Friday, I was able to do the planned 90-minute bike workout but chose to do it on the spin bike at the gym instead of outside.  After having some decent weather on our trip, I was a little disappointed to find Illinois was rainy and colder.  Sunday’s 60-minute run went well on a windy but sunny 30-degree day.

So I think I will benefit a little from taking a little break to get back on track.  I had originally planned to follow the “Just Finish” plan but I have given in to peer pressure a little from my training buddies who are all following the competitive plan.  I will make sure to stay in the planned zones and not overdo it.

On to Week 5!

Week 3 & 4 Training Totals:

Swims:  None     >    Rides:  5 total / 87.75 miles     >     Runs:  3 total / 14 miles

 

 

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Time to get back on the Ironman Choo track!

 

 

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!