Riding and Thinking

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 13 – June 8 > June 14, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XIII

Most of my inspiration for the topics for this post comes from the time I am in the saddle riding my long Saturday rides and trust me, I’m doing a lot of thinking on those three-hour-long or more rides.  This week is no different.  Here some thoughts and things that happened this week.

I should have kept the Ironman-O-Meter from last week turned on this week and asked it if I was I going to keep riding the same old route out west of home to Elwood because I was getting a little tired of doing that route, and sure enough I changed it up this week and rode east on the bike trail to head south toward Peotone and then west from there.  I usually ride the Elwood route on training days of less than 3 hours as it takes less than 1.5 hours to get there.  I can ride much farther on the other route.  I’m sure I will get sick of that pretty soon in the seventeen weeks that are left too.  But it was a nice change of pace that refreshed my mind.

As I was riding the Old Plank Trail that heads east I quickly became perturbed at the amount of inconsiderate users that were starting to dominate the trail.  They walk three or more wide, they ride in groups and pass with oncoming riders, and that’s just a few complaints.  It used to be dominated by the regulars like me who put fear into those who came out on the trail, but how the tables have turned.  When I first started triathlons and began riding a lot I was very glad to have the trail available to me, but soon realized that it wasn’t very safe for me to be on it.  Too many people not following the few simple trail rules so that we can all get by without impacting each other.  I soon realized that I felt safer riding on the roads than I was on the trail.  I’m fortunate to live in an area of Chicagoland where north of me has everything the city can offer, and immediately south of me is pretty much a farmer’s paradise.  I just need to find a quiet set of streets to get me to where I need to go without using the OPT.  Sad that a cyclist doesn’t want to bike on a bike trail.

I was very fortunate to be about 1/10th of a mile from home when my rear tire started going down.  I heard a pop and some hissing just as I was getting to my road and was able to coast it easy back home.  Inspection of the tire revealed a small rock to have punctured the sidewall all the way through to the tube.  I guess it’s time to switch to the new Continental 5000’s that I have been avoiding.

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Thought about taking a little break on the ride, but something told me not to.

Thursday was an interesting day.  I work as a non-sworn employee in a police department and we did the Torch Run as a group.  Several of us had done it already virtually, as was suggested by the event organization, so for me, this was just to join the gang and be part of the team.  Or to please the chief.

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My virtual Torch Run picture.  I raised $130 for the Illinois Special Olympics.

It was a bike day so I decided to bike to work, change into running shoes and then run and ride back home.  We all did the required two miles, but I decided to add a third time trial mile just to see where my short distance speed stands since all I ever do is easy paced distance running.  I turned a 6:35 mile and was pleasantly surprised.  I think if I just focused on speed I could probably get under 6 minutes for a mile if I pushed hard.  But that is not my goal right now, and I shouldn’t do dumb things.

Swimming is going well and I feel like I am getting more comfortable and stronger in the water, but I am thinking of maybe doing an hour-long swim on my Monday rest day instead of doing the Tu-Thu 30-minute swims.  Monday seems like it needs something, and having to swim after a bike or run always gives me leg and foot cramps.  I will consider it.  Sixty minutes is a long time to be bored to death swimming back and forth in the pool.  Swimming sucks.

My Sunday long run ended the week with a nice conversation with a couple other runners I met along the way.  Mary and her husband Chris were both wearing Ironman visors as was I and we quickly started talking about Ironman and what races we were doing and what we thought was going to happen.  I was surprised she knew of my son and it was a nice change to have someone to run at my pace and talk with.  Super nice people.  We ran for about 2-3 miles together and then went our separate ways.

One last thought that I have been thinking about this week is my commitment to training for Ironman Louisville in October as I have been doing this past thirteen weeks and what will I do if it gets canceled.  I have said since the Covid-19 thing started that I will train like it is going to happen, and that hasn’t changed.  Ironman has not yet been told by the City of Louisville to cancel the race.  However, I drew a line in the sand this week.  If the race does get canceled before the midway point of Week 15, then I will stop following the plan for Ironman and just spend my week swimming, biking, and running as I see fit.  I will probably shift my focus to more long-distance running and restart my training for the elimination ultra-marathon that got moved from April to October.  However, if the race is still on after I pass Week 15, I will continue to train for it.  If the event then does get canceled for 2020 before race day, then I will try to do it on my own at home or up at the lake house in Minocqua sometime around Week 27 or 28 in the training plan.  I would hate to see twenty or more weeks of training be for nothing, so that is the plan.  Maybe I can talk my Gunner buddies into doing it with me.  The Gunner Ironman!  I’ve already got the t-shirt theme for it:

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TOTALS FOR WEEK 13:

  • Swim:  2 / 3000 yards
  • Bike:  5 rides  /  90 miles
  • Run:  6 runs  /  29 miles
Gunners-2-1
The Gunners will get it done!

 

 

 

 

The Ironman-O-Meter

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 12 – June 1 > June 7, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC and SOCIAL UNREST!– PART XII

Lots of questions have been going through my mind lately, so I thought I would break out the old “Ironman-O-Meter” (patent pending) and see if it can provide some insight to what the heck is happening.

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Question Number 1:  Will this race be held in October as expected?

Ironman-O-Meter says:  About a 15% chance.  I was at a 10% chance of it happening about a month or so ago, but I am just a little more optimistic about it than before mainly because of what Ironman Corp. is doing planning-wise.  Although they have canceled or postponed many of the spring races, they have moved several to the fall.  I take that as a good sign, mainly because they want the races to occur as long as they can be done in a safe fashion for everyone.  A lot of the cancelations come as directives from the host cities that are sticking to state guidelines for dealing with Covid-19.  USA Triathlon and Ironman have both come out with safe practice policies recently that will allow us to race more cautiously, so that is a little more promising.  There are plans to eliminate a lot of the social event things that Ironman does for a race, as well as making the race more athlete self-supported.  I may be forced to carry my own nutrition on the bike and run instead of having well-stocked aid stations which is not a big deal.  I train that way all the time.  The City of Louisville, where the race will be held has had some social unrest due to a shooting recently, but I hope the crisis will settle down by fall.  I would think that with the losing out on summer and fall sports, Louisville might welcome us dopes on spokes.

Question Number 2:  What chance is there of me joining a group ride with the local bike group?

Ironman-O-Meter says: About a 25% chance.  A group ride opportunity popped up on Facebook for Saturday that almost looked perfect for me, but I took a pass on it.  This is the same group of great people that I accidentally came upon riding last week and joined in, and I enjoyed some company for a change.  I feel a little safer on some rides in a group because groups tend to be more visible to traffic.  But very few of these riders are training for Ironman and the couple that may be training probably aren’t following the same plan that I am.  What happens when I join the group is that my prescribed ride usually goes out the window.  First to go is the tempo, which is almost always faster than the Z2 zone ride that I should be doing.  And secondly, the distance usually ends up being farther than what my plan called for.  Lastly, the ride can sometimes turn into a testosterone-fueled ride, with someone trying to be the big dog.  That someone is usually me.  It’s probably better that I skip the extra tempo, distance, and one-upmanship and stick to my solo ride. The first rule of the Be Iron Fit training plan is to follow the plan.  The second rule is to FOLLOW THE TRAINING PLAN.

Question Number 3:  Will all dog owners say that their dog is friendly while it’s growling and baring its teeth at me?

Ironman-O-Meter says: 100% of the time, every time.  While doing my Tuesday run I came upon a guy and his two little kids walking his dog off-leash in the nature preserve where the posted sign says pets aren’t allowed.  This dog did exactly what off-leash dogs do in public, he approached me very aggressively, with snarling and barking and got close enough where I took my pepper spray off the safety and was ready to unload it on him.  Now, I don’t want to spray the dog.  He’s just doing what dogs do.  But I also don’t want to get bit either!  The owner quickly yelled at the dog “What’s the matter with you?” like it was the dog’s fault he was off-leash in public.  A sorry was tossed my way as the guy retrieved the leash from his 6-year-old and I turned and finished climbing the hill.  On the way back down a few minutes later I encountered him again and although still not leashed, he was being held by the owner.  That’s when the guy says “Sorry, he’s really a friendly dog.”  Yeah, sure looked friendly to me.  Every damn time.  

 

That’s enough questions for the Ironman-O-Meter for now.  I don’t want to blow any circuits.  Thanks to Rebecca and Emily helping me design the Ironman-O-Meter.  It may need some tweaking, but it did the job.

 

TOTALS FOR WEEK 12:

  • Swim:  2 / 3000 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  93 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  23.5 miles
Gunners-2-1
A little bit of a dial-back week this week.

Reliving Previous Week 10’s

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 10 – May 18 > May 24, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART X

As I wrap up this tenth week of a 30-week training plan, I was thinking about what was I feeling in my previous four Ironman training Week 10’s.  So I thought it might be interesting to look back at what I wrote about in those weeks.

2013 Ironman Wisconsin Training Week 10 – I was blogging my journey for my first Ironman on a triathlon blogging site that is no longer around, but my son Ben was able to recapture those posts.  It looks like I was actually looking forward to the next third of the training plan.  Hmm… imagine that.  I would never look forward to what was coming now!  Since I can’t share a link to the post, I will copy it below:

  • WEEK 10 – April 22, 2013Week 10 is in the books!  I can’t believe I am 1/3 done with the training.  Week 10 ends the Base Phase of the training program and now I am heading into the dreaded Build Phase!  The next 10 weeks looks challenging, with an extra swim added per week, along with some intervals added to the bike and run training.  I look forward to getting out of Heart Rate Zone 1 and 2 and into zones 3 & 4.  
  • This week took a hit, with heavy rain flooding many parts of the Chicagoland area.  We were spared here in Mokena for the most part, but getting outside was not in my plans.  As a matter of fact, even the Will County Forest Preserve District closed the two local preserves because of flooding, and those are my running and now cycling haunts.  But I did well inside, missing only my Sunday long run due to my daughter’s confirmation and party.  Sacrifices are a two-way street.
  • My butt is continually sore and uncomfortable in the saddle on long rides.  My Saturday 3 hour ride took that to a new level of soreness, and I am wondering if a better saddle may alleviate some of my issues.  I also think I just need to ride more.  I’ll get there.  
  • The swim this week wasn’t the best.  Tuesday’s swim was after a run, which caused me to cramp up in my lower legs and feet.  I just couldn’t swap them that day.  It is readily apparent to me why the swim is the first event.
  • I joined a Facebook group for the 2013 Wisconsin Ironman.  Good group of people and they have shared tons of valuable information.  I’ve been quietly respectful of them, but I will come out of my shell soon and interact with them more.  They are having tons of fun.  
  • WEEK 10 TOTALS:
  • SWIM – 4400 yards, 2 swims
  • BIKE – 77 miles, 3 rides 
  • RUN – 17.5 miles, 3 runs (skipped a long run again this week due to family responsibilities)

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Training Week 10 –  Another upbeat post in 2016 for Ironman Lake Placid.  There was a three-year gap between Wisconsin and Lake Placid, so it seemed like it was still kind of new to me.  Since this race is a mid-summer race, it seemed to be much colder than my other Week 10’s.  The best part of this week was the 3-hour ride with fellow Gunner John.

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John and I seemed like we were enjoying ourselves on a cold April 3-hour ride.  Probably not.

Read the actual post here:  2016 IMLP Training – WEEK 10

2017 Ironman Louisville Training Week 10 – Since I am training for Louisville again this year it isn’t a surprise Week 10 falls on Memorial Day weekend again.  It seems like I did a lot of assessing myself in 2017.  I see that I was starting to realize that all of that crazy swim training wasn’t worth it and I was happy to just do enough.  It worked well for me then as I ended up setting a swim personal best in the race.  Here is the post:  Memorial Day Reminders

2019 Ironman Chattanooga Training Week 10 – It seemed by this point I was doing more writing about the week’s experiences than what the ten weeks meant.  It looks like I hadn’t done any swimming yet, which is not surprising.  I learned a lot in 2017.  The post was about getting the crap scared out of me apparently:  Week 10 Wrap Up: Fear… Parts I & II

2020 Ironman Louisville Training Week 10 – Half of this week was split between home and the lake home in northern Wisconsin.  Glad to get away from the self-isolation and quarantining in Illinois to the beauty of the Northwoods, where apparently the State of Wisconsin doesn’t care if you go about your regular routine.

So here I am again, wrapping up another ten weeks of training and glad to be done with it.  As usual, I am hoping for better weather, for my butt to get acclimated to the seat soon, and for the coronavirus to not kill me or my race.  I’ll keep training like the race is on until it isn’t.

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TOTALS FOR WEEK 10:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  75 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  34 miles
Gunners-2-1
One-third done!  Hey Carl!

Runners Are Bad! Dogs are Good!

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 6 – APRIL 20 > APRIL 26, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART VI

Keeping in step with my new motto from last week, I gave myself a day to think about what to write today.  My personal desire was to have a somewhat angry counterpoint to a few articles in the Chicago Tribune this past week or two shaming runners for their behavior during the coronavirus outbreak.  (If you want to read them, I posted some links at the bottom of this post.)  But I have decided to address them and then move on.

In essence, the beef with runners is that we are not following the social distancing rules in the minds of those that have swarmed to the places we run to take up space where we had plenty of room to exercise before.  When the stay-at-home mandate took effect, we were told that we could go outside and exercise but only if we maintained social distancing.  So what did non-exercisers do?  They came in droves to the trails with their families and pets.  The almost immediate effect of all those people now joining the regulars on the bike and running paths resulted in the complete shutdown of some of those places.  Thanks to the non-regulars, we regular users of the paths were forced off.

I read another article about rats starting to move away from their normal hangouts behind restaurants and groceries where dumpsters normally overflow with tossed food scraps in search of food that is no longer being tossed.  Funny how animal behavior changes when they are fighting to survive.  And just like the rats, runners had to find other places to run since the non-runners ruined our ability to exercise away from the busy streets and sidewalks.  And now they don’t like us anywhere.

When did we runners become villains?  For the most part, we are some of the most healthy people on the planet.  We run for charities, raising millions of dollars for worthy causes.  We support new runners attempting to reach their running goals.  Many of the running and cycling clothing companies have switched their focus to making masks for healthcare workers and frontline personnel.  Some runners and cyclists even do their activity as a way to commute to and from work, helping reduce the impact of driving on the environment.  For the most part, we are good, upstanding citizens.

Maybe it’s envy.  I get that from time to time.  Because I enjoy running or biking mile after mile and they don’t, they want to make sure that they think it is a dumb endeavor.  “That’s crazy.”  “I wouldn’t even want to drive that far.”  “What’s wrong with you?”  “Run, Forrest, run!”  (That’s a put-down, not a cheer most of the time.)

Who knows really why there’s a division being drawn?  I certainly don’t know.  I think people just like to bitch about stuff.  What I do know is that I’m not going to let some non-regulars keep me from doing my activity.

Anyway…  here’s a picture of our new family dog!  He’s a good boy!  And he takes my mind off of the stuff that gets me riled.

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He likes sticks.  And leaves.  And fingers.  And rocks.  And anything that moves.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 6:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  70.2 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  22 miles

Here’s the links to the articles.  What are your thoughts?

Gunners-2-1
Are we having fun yet?

 

Give It A Day

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 5 – APRIL 13 > APRIL 19, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART V

While on my 27-mile bike ride on the local bike trail Saturday I had constructed a profanity-laced diatribe for this post about the idiots out on the trail, complete with f-bombs and venting that would make a sailor blush.  Although the windy day was the main reason I opted to ride the trail, I usually avoid it.  Too many people not being considerate to others by not following the simplest trail usage rules is what really gets me ticked off.  And now that the self-isolating, stir crazy, cabin fever locals have decided to head to the trail it’s become overrun with people who just can’t seem to think about anyone but themselves.  Then I gave it a day and now I’m writing a completely different weekly wrap-up than what I had planned.

I have found that when I get upset about something if I just give it a day’s rest, I often feel less angry and more forgiving.  I’ve also read that those who have been wronged in some way or another, being forgiving often leads to feeling relieved.  So one day after feeling like I wanted to run over people for walking on the wrong side of the trail, and punching pet owners letting their dogs roam free while holding their leash in their hands, I chose to let it go.  And I feel better about it.

I have a local runner friend who developed a running-related injury and from his Facebook post, you could tell it was something that he was upset about.  So far this year, the work he had been doing as an ambassador for the Illinois Marathon had been for naught, as the race has been canceled thanks to the viral pandemic.  He was also planning on running the race, too.  And now one of his coping mechanisms was letting him down.  Give it a day, my friend.  Maybe give it a week or month if you have to.  But in time you will be back to running, and your marathon will return too.

This week was a wild one.  We had two accumulating snow events this mid-April.  A day after each one the snow was gone.  The week ended with a beautiful 60-degree sunny day.  Give it a day and things get better.

Lots of changes have been occurring to our lifestyles in 2020, and sometimes I think we just need to give it a day.  And maybe another day.  Or a week.  In some cases a month.  But we will return to normal.

I might make “give it a day” my new motto.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 5:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  48 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  21 miles
Gunners-2-1
5 weeks down – 25 to go

It’s A Sign!

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 4 – APRIL 6 > APRIL 12, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART IV

Happy Easter!

Spring is here and there are signs everywhere!  As a runner who spends the majority of his time running staring at the ground 5-6 feet ahead of me, I’m surprised I notice anything going on around me.  But lately, I have noticed a lot of signs out on the trail.  From the little flowers that are blooming right along the edge of the path to the painted rocks that people are placing in public places and along the trail to brighten everyone’s day.  The grass is greening up and judging from the hayfever I’m experiencing, I’m guessing everything is about to go from winter grey to a very colorful spring.

I have also seen some new signs out on the trail.  Signs measuring the six-foot safe passing distance and reminders to please pass others in a single file way.  Someone has placed a reflector sign on the unofficial path that I maintain that’s used to access the nature preserve to help them remember where to get on the path.  Not sure it needed a sign because it’s really the only path like it on the abandoned frontage road, but it’s definitely a sign that someone else is utilizing my little path.

Another sign I’ve been seeing is my buddy John texting “Day Done” in our group chat that he’s completed the day’s workout.  Could that be a sign that he’s joining the Gunners in Louisville this year?!?!  That would be quite a sign!

TOTALS FOR WEEK 4:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  2 rides  /  32.5 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  23 miles.
Gunners-2-1
I’m a Libra, what’s your sign?

What’s the Deal with Calf Cramps?

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 3 – MARCH 30 > APRIL 5, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART III

It’s a really strange time in the world right now but I am doing my best to keep some normalcy in my life, and training for my fifth Ironman is helping a lot with that.  Many races scheduled for spring have either been canceled or postponed to the fall.  Fortunately, my race is scheduled for mid-October and hasn’t been affected yet but I am training with crossed fingers and doing each workout with the thought in the back of my mind that if things don’t improve with this virus, I may be training for naught.

But since I’m Mr. Optomist, I’m keeping a positive outlook and will keep training for Ironman Louisville until I’m told otherwise.  I’d be doing some kind of training anyway, regardless if I was signed up for a race.

The weather has started to turn a little for the better and with the warmer temps, I find myself riding outside more and relying less on the spin bike.  This has reminded me a couple of things.  First, a spin bike is a decent workout but it’s no substitute for riding outside.  Secondly, riding outside is killing me!  My butt is sore and hates me for making it sit on a bike saddle that was clearly not designed for comfort.  And my calves have decided that cramping up while riding is a fine thing.

 

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Maybe only triathletes will find this funny.

 

As a longtime runner, I don’t remember ever having cramps from running.  It’s only when I started doing triathlons and in particular training for Ironman that they became a thing.  I would get cramps in my feet when swimming, which is really weird because you aren’t even using them much.  I knew when the foot cramps came on it was time for me to get out of the pool because they would get worse before they got better.  Plus it gave me an excuse to quit swimming because I hate it.

Most of my rides are short enough during the week that cramps aren’t a problem.  It’s the longer weekend rides that cause them.  Specifically, I am referring to calf cramps.  I’ll be spinning along doing just fine and then I will get that first warning twinge.  I’ve gotten pretty good at backing off the intensity and avoiding the dreaded “Charley Horse”.  Severe cramps really don’t occur while biking.  No, they save themselves for when you are in bed trying to sleep.  Move your foot just the wrong way under the covers and BOOM – Cramp City.

In all honesty, though, the cramps were a much more frequent occurrence when I was first starting out in the sport.  That first year training for Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 I would experience them much more often after a long ride.  But I am much more experienced now and they don’t seem to bother me as much as they used to.

Other triathletes are always looking at the reason behind the calf cramps.  Some say it’s due to being dehydrated.  Or not enough salt, potassium or other minerals in your diet or hydration drink.  I don’t disagree with those reasons contributing to calf cramps, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.  I have found a correlation to getting calf cramps with an increase in a certain activity that you haven’t been doing and/or the intensity of the new activity.  Calf cramps for me are always at the beginning of a 30-week training cycle when I stop spinning an easy gear on the spin bike indoors and actually have to work when I ride outdoors.  I always want to jump right back in where I left off in the late fall and ride with the same intensity that I had built up over the course of the summer.  That’s a silly mistake that I always make and relearn every spring.  Cramps also generally occur towards the end of a ride, when you have been spinning your legs at 90+ rpm and haven’t given them a single break.

Some athletes will also treat the symptoms of a cramp rather than why they are cramping in the first place.  Somewhere someone decided that pickle juice is the wonder drink to prevent cramps.  What a horrible thing to drink.  And there’s a company out there that produces a drink product that claims to stop cramps as soon as you feel them coming on.  This drink has a combination of ginger, cinnamon and a strong pepper in it that is supposed to re-wire your nerves to stop the cramp.  That seems dumb, but the science behind it kind of makes sense.  The theory is that when you over-stimulate the nerves in your muscles they go haywire.  When you start to cramp you take a drink of their product (or something very strong tasting, like pickle juice) and that strong taste of it refocuses your brain away from the over-excited nerves in your cramping leg.  People swear that it works.  But wouldn’t you rather not cramp up than have to treat it with some crazy drink?  I would.

I do find that after a few weeks of retraining my legs for the workload and backing off how hard I push myself will result in the cramping occurrence to fade and be a lot less of a problem.  By the end of the training period and when race day comes, cramps will pretty much be a non-issue for me.

So I truly believe that calf cramps from cycling come from an increase in the activity from being off for a long period and then working them too hard when restarting your training regimen.  It’s overexertion, plain and simple.  So hopefully I will never need to carry pickle juice with me on a ride.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 3:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  53.5 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  20.5 miles
Gunners-2-1
I’m not really an optimist.

 

Share The Trail And Don’t Screw It Up

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 2 – MARCH 23 > 29, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART II

When the state of Illinois mandated that we all quarantine ourselves by staying in place or staying at home, the governor allowed us to still be able to go outside to exercise as long as we maintain a safe “social” distance of six feet of separation.  It was great seeing people out walking, riding bikes, and running on sidewalks and trails that were pretty much just taken advantage of by the regulars – runners and bikers like me that I see all the time, and the few neighbors that will go on a daily walk.  People were making an effort to enjoy the time to get some fresh air and utilize trails that are a great benefit to our community.  Until the people ruined it.

People ruin everything.  Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard.  In the case of our gift of being able to get outside, people ignored the mandate of avoiding group activities, openly playing soccer and basketball, and riding and running in groups.  It got so bad in the city of Chicago that the mayor gave them a stern warning.  And what did the people do?  They ignored the warning forcing the mayor to take action and closing the Lakefront Trail, one of the most used trails in the state.  No more getting exercise outdoors.

I was riding my bike on my local trail this week and I also encountered groups of people walking on the trails together and other gatherings of kids playing at parks and team related sports like basketball.  I guess everyone figures if they aren’t affecting you directly there really isn’t any harm.  But that isn’t true, and the reason we are staying in place and avoiding each other is to stop the spread of this deadly virus.  But now I fear that our local trail may get closed as well, and that won’t make me happy.  I’m betting that won’t happen, but here’s what we can do to help make sure it doesn’t happen:

  • Train alone instead of groups.  The runners in our local running club are pretty good about doing the right thing, but group runs were still going on.  Our local running club leaders implored runners to stop posting group photos so that it wasn’t appearing that we were ignoring the rules, and to consider running in much smaller groups or running alone.
  • Follow the safe social distancing rules as well as the trail rules.  The six feet of separation rules apply to families as well as friends and other trail users.  Also, if you are new to using the trail, follow the posted rules that are posted at nearly all of the trail street crossings and trailheads.  The most abused trail rule of them all is “All Users Stay Right /  Pass Left” yet I encounter groups all the time and have to remind them to share the trail.  Other trail users following the rules shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by someone not following the rules.
  • Be courteous.  We are all trying to enjoy the outdoors and people need to understand that what you are doing shouldn’t hinder what other trail users are doing.  Walk your dog on a leash and keep him on the correct side.  Cyclists should yield to pedestrians.  All users should follow the signage and stop at road crossings. Be safe.

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Training Week Wrap-up

Week 2 was a typical spring training week.  The weather was iffy this week, so I did spend some time training indoors.  This is my fifth time training for an Ironman and I have to remind myself not to overdo it too much in these early training weeks.  This week I found myself pushing my running pace more than I should have and that could lead to bad things.  It’s a long journey to get to race day and blowing myself up in week two is not in the plan.

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More than once, apparently.  

 

TOTALS FOR WEEK 2:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  44 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  19 miles

 

Gunners-2-1
Getting off my soapbox for now.

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!

 

That’s Probably A Bad Idea. Do It!

A local running/triathlete friend of mine advised me the other day that he has a friend who is considering racing an iron-distance race but has already signed up for a marathon that is two weeks after the Ironman.  My friend remembered that I had dealt with the same issue last year and asked if I wouldn’t mind if she contacted me to discuss it.  Of course, I didn’t mind, and I am flattered, but I haven’t heard from her yet.  But it got me thinking about what I would actually tell someone that is considering such a dumb idea.  As you read the below keep in mind that I am not a certified expert, not a coach, and really not qualified to tell anyone how to do anything.  It’s just my experience and how I dealt with it.

WHY DID I DO SUCH A DUMB THING AS TO SIGN UP FOR TWO BIG RACES SO CLOSE TO EACH OTHER?

In 2017 my teammates and I were debating about doing Ironman Louisville, which was on the same day as the 2017 Chicago Marathon.  I kind of wanted to do the marathon since it was the 40th anniversary of the race, but I knew if we chose to race the Ironman I would have no problem skipping the marathon, and that’s what happened.  I returned to the Chicago Marathon in 2018 because I have legacy status and want to retain it.

Although I was getting a little tired of running Chicago and figured that all I needed to do to keep my legacy status was to sign-up every other year, I signed up for it again because the window to apply was pretty short and I needed to make a decision.  Not long after that, my buddies decided we were going to do Ironman Chattanooga.  That put the late-September 2019 Ironman race two weeks prior to the October marathon on my race calendar.  Of course, I wasn’t going to skip the Ironman with my friends, so I thought that maybe I should defer the marathon to the next year for a small fee.  But then I figured that I would just race the Ironman and take a victory lap at the Chicago Marathon and walk away from it for a while.  So that was the plan, train hard and race the Ironman and take it easy for the marathon.

HOW DID I TRAIN FOR THE TWO DIFFERENT RACES?

That really wasn’t an issue for me, seeing that there is an actual marathon in an Ironman race.  So I followed the Ironman training plan that I always follow and just figured that I would use the two weeks in between the two events to recover.  Ideally, I would have preferred my marathon training long-run to be around 20 miles and three weeks prior to my marathon, but that wasn’t going to happen.  I just needed to make sure I utilized the two weeks between Chattanooga and Chicago for recovery and not overdo it.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

My plan got flipped upsidedown.  And it resulted in a Boston Qualifier!  A BQ was never in the plan!  The weather turned extremely hot at Ironman Chattanooga, with day time temperatures hitting the mid-nineties with a “real feel” around 100 degrees.  Definitely the hottest day I have had to race in.  I had to adjust the race plan to fit the conditions of the day, but I only really did that because it forced me to do so.  The swim took me a little longer than I expected because the water was too warm to compete in a wetsuit, so I opted to swim without it.  The bike for me was right about what I normally ride for an Ironman – 6:47.  And Chattanooga has an extra 4 miles of biking than all the other Ironman races.  The marathon, however, was very humbling.  Right out of transition I stopped and told my wife that I felt pretty good, all things considered.  I started out with a good jog and started to head out of town and then it was an uphill grind in the hot sun. I slowed to a walk and was able to shuffle just occasionally.  And then the horrible hills hit and I walked some more.  I spent the first half of the marathon trying to recover and finish the race under the cutoff.  I was seriously doing the math in my head to make sure I knew what I had to do.  And then the second loop began and I started feeling pretty good.  I had rehydrated and refueled myself well enough to press pretty hard in the second half.  I finished pretty strong and felt really good.  The 5:11 finish time is my personal worst (PW ?) for a marathon, but I was pretty happy with my 13:37 overall finish time.   You can read my race report here:  2019 Ironman Chattanooga Race Report

I took it pretty easy and tried my best to recover from the Ironman prior to running the Chicago Marathon.  After a full week of rest I “eased” back into running with four runs of 5, 6.5, 10 and 4 miles and then rested three days before the marathon.  I can remember my muscles still feeling pretty sore but they felt functional enough to run pretty comfortably.  The 10-miler I ran was done at 8:34 pace and it gave me some confidence that I might be able to push myself in the race a little bit.  I decided that a sub-3:35 BQ might be reachable, so I planned to run 8-minute miles and shoot for a 3:30.

Things went pretty well during the race and I held pace until I started to struggle with it in the last 5 miles or so.  Although I kept at my nutrition well, I was getting pretty tired.  I knew the 3:30 wasn’t going to happen, but I kept pushing to hit that 3:35.  I turned and ran up Mt. Roosevelt until a calf cramp almost did me in.  Fortunately, the race was almost done and I made it in just under the BQ by 13 seconds!  3:34:46 was my time, and although a BQ-13 isn’t going to get me into the Boston Marathon field, I am now up to three BQ’s, with one really memorable Boston Marathon finish in 2018.  I can’t complain about that.

Here’s my race report from the marathon:   2019 Chicago Marathon Race Report

WHY DO I THINK I DID BETTER THAN I EXPECTED AT CHICAGO?

I think there are a couple factors at play.  The Be Iron Fit training program I follow for Ironman training is really good and it prepared me well.  I’ve never felt underprepared using this plan in my four Ironman finishes.  So not only was I prepared for the Ironman, I was also pretty well prepared for the marathon two weeks later.

But the real reason I think I did well was that the heat of the day at Chattanooga forced me to not overdo it on the marathon portion of the race.  By having to walk about half of it, it saved my legs to the point that the next day I sauntered down to the Ironman Village to buy my finisher’s jacket like a BOSS!  I felt like I hadn’t even run a marathon the day before.

SO WHAT IS MY ADVICE TO OTHERS THINKING OF DOING THE SAME DUMB THING?

I think you need to pick what race is most important to you.  If you have a specific time goal for a marathon or possibly a BQ, I would advise you to focus your training on that goal and not sabotage it by adding a less meaningful race that could possibly prevent you from doing your best in the race that matters more.  Pick your “A” race and use the other race to supplement it if you are convinced that you want to still do both events.

If you really want to also do the Ironman in the same year, maybe pick one that is a couple of months out from the marathon.  I read a post the other day stating that you should give yourself a couple of months of recovery between Ironman races; that is pretty sound advice that I would agree with.  I did Ironman Lake Placid in July 2016 and then raced the Chicago Marathon in October and got my second BQ and stamped my ticket to the 2018 Boston Marathon.  So for me, there definitely was some precedent in racing an Ironman and a marathon in the same year with positive results.

I did this when I was almost 56 years old.  It takes me a lot longer to recover from races than it did in my 30’s and 40’s.  So maybe a younger person might be in a better position to do an Ironman and a marathon a couple of weeks apart.  But if you are just out to enjoy both races, I have to admit that it can be done without ruining yourself.

Lastly, if this is your first Ironman make sure you are aware of what is involved with it.  Marathon training and racing are tough, but Ironman training is pretty intense too.  Also, if you think marathon entry fees and hotels are expensive, plan on the Ironman being nearly triple that cost.  Ironman is not cheap.

WOULD I EVER DO THIS DUMB THING AGAIN?

Nope.  Never.  Not a chance.  No way, José!

Actually, as I was typing this post I took a break to sign up for the 2020 NYC Marathon Lottery, which is three weeks past Ironman Louisville, a race I already signed up for.

Don’t tell my wife.