8 Weeks to Boston

As I look back on my training for my first Boston Marathon, I was pretty surprised to see that half of it is over.  I haven’t done any writing about my journey to Boston, because it’s been very typical for the most part, taking it day by day and running the workout that the plan calls for.  I’m eight weeks into my sixteen week plan already, and I’m not sure how it went by so fast.  It had been going pretty well for the first six weeks, but a bothersome knee issue has made me very aware of how much time I have left, because not only now do I have to get in the remaining weeks of big miles, but I also have to do it without aggravating the injury and having it prevent me from running those important training miles. Or worse yet, not being able to run the race itself.

I have been able to run okay, even with the knee pain.  It hurts more afterwards, especially noticeable going up and down stairs.  Also, if I sit in a chair with my leg bent at a 90 degree angle, it will start to hurt.  The pain is right at the top of the tibia, and I don’t believe the knee cap is affecting it.  My son has suggested stretching my leg muscles more, which has given some relief, but I have also dialed back the miles the past two weeks as well, so at this point I’m not sure if the fewer miles or the stretching has been most advantageous.  I’ll keep doing the stretching, but I’m afraid to lose too many long, slow weekend runs.  I also retired my running shoes that were probably not really that worn out yet, and upgraded to a more cushioned shoe.  Today’s 8 mile run in them went okay, but I found them to be very stiff.  Not sure if I made a good choice there.

The first eight weeks saw a build to 12 miles in Week 6, but that’s when I started experiencing the knee issue.  I dialed it back to a mile or two throughout the last couple of weeks, mostly run on the treadmill.  Today was supposed to be a test of speed, with a half-marathon race built into the plan.  There was no way I’m ready to race anything right now, and trying to find a 13.1 mile race in the latter part of February in the midwest is nearly impossible.  I will now have to adjust my plan and reduce some of the big mile weekend runs that the plan has built into it.  I will drop each long run by two miles and skip the speed work in the plan until I feel confident that I can do it without pain or further injuring myself.

The one thing I haven’t resorted to yet is stopping the 3+ year running streak that I have going.  I may need to say goodbye to it if it means that I am doing myself more harm than good. I’m not going to jeopardize getting to the start line of my first Boston Marathon.  I worked too hard to get there.

8 weeks to go!  

The Dumb Running Injury

Search for running injuries on the internet and you’ll see a variety of running induced issues – Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Ankle Sprains, Shin Splints, Blisters, Chafing, etc.  I’ve suffered many of these maladies over the years, as well as several I didn’t even list.  But today I suffered a dumb one, one that I had only suffered once before – I fell down, go boom.

You would think that I would have mastered not falling down while running, but sometimes dumb stuff like this happens.  The first time this happened to me was on April 22, 1991.  How do I know this?  Well, it’s written down in the running log!

22APR91 – Fell + hurt hand. Wrote it down.

It was a memorable fall.  It was my girlfriend and future wife’s birthday and I was doing one last 10 mile run three days out from my first marathon, because that was what newbies who didn’t know any better did back in those days.  And the trail I ran on had a portion that was next to a railroad lot where they parked trucks and equipment.  In the gravel was a wire hanger that was partially buried.  I caught my foot on in it and down I went, scraping up my hands and knees pretty good.  The scariest part, I was three days away from my first marathon.  I ran on egg shells the rest of the way home.

Okay, back to today’s fall.  I was about 10.75 miles into a 12 mile run and my concentration was diverted to this minivan than had pulled up along side of an entrance next to the nature preserve running trail.  This guy gets out and starts running to the gate and I’m wondering what the heck is going on.  So I was kind of watching them over my shoulder when my foot got caught on a bumped up, broken crack portion of the trail.  Now usually I can stumble my way out of those types of trips and catch myself.  Not this time.  Fortunately for me, I was pretty heavily padded with running gear, since it was 26 degrees out and I was freezing.

The fall was pretty typical, I couldn’t get the tripped leg back under me fast enough and I put my hands out to catch myself.  It happened super quick, and I didn’t really have time to think at all.  But I was pretty impressed with my catch and roll.  It was like text book.  If I had to do it over again, I probably would eliminate the verbal “UGGGHHH” sound I made as I hit the ground, but it was pretty unavoidable.

As I got up, the palm of my hand was vibrating and I thought that I had sprained my wrist pretty good.  I got to my feet and assessed myself.  I could walk, that was good.  My hand hurt, but I could move it okay.  All that was left was to pick up my pride and finish the run.

I got home and surveyed the damage.  The palm of the hand had been what had really concerned me, but the glove I was wearing limited any bruising or abrasions.  But I could sense something wrong with my outer knee.  I pulled up my pant leg and saw a pretty good abrasion.  My son and his girlfriend where listening to my story and were surprised to see the damage.  I figured I might need to show this to my wife, you know, for spousal support reasons.  I needed a “mommy.”

The damage.

She was shocked, but she didn’t kiss it.  I also had another abrasion on my left elbow, but it was smaller and didn’t hurt much.  Didn’t hurt until I got into the shower, that is.  Then it hurt like heck.  I put some antibacterial ointment on it, and now I’m healing.  I should be good to go again soon.

At this rate I should fall again in another 26-27 years, sometime around 2043.  I’ll keep you posted.




Confessions of an Un-peaceful Peaceful Sleeper

Last night I was enjoying a really deep sleep.  Honestly, most nights I enjoy a really deep sleep.  Now, you might ask how does one actually “enjoy” a deep sleep?  Well, I’m not sure really, but when the bedquake hit, it jolted me from the deep sleep I was enjoying and I was now no longer enjoying it!  A bedquake?  What’s a bedquake?

A bedquake is something my wife Kari has invented in order to prevent me from having a really deep sleep.  It’s a tactic she resorts to when the foot rub on my calf doesn’t work.  The foot rub on the calf is only good to disrupt my sleep if I’m not that deep into it.  One night I was just dozing off and could feel this strange calf massage thing going on.  I thought, “huh, that’s strange,” and just rolled over and went back to sleep. But if I’m in full REM, she goes nuclear and employs the bedquake.

Now since I am asleep I’m a little fuzzy on the details of how she carries out the bedquake, but what I can surmise from the brief few disoriented nanoseconds of awakening, is that maybe she is doing some jumping up and down on the bed, or possibly standing next to the bed and shaking it hard and then jumping back in just before it awakens me, like nothing was going on.  She’s somewhat subversive about it, just wanting to disrupt my sleep enough to get the results she’s looking for.  She thinks I don’t know about these two tactics, but I’m starting to see the big picture.

Now, you might ask why the hell is she doing this?!  It’s simple really.  I’m enjoying a really deep sleep and she is not.  And the reason she’s not – apparently I am a snorer.

The Bedquake – Kari’s version of “Wake up and go to sleep.”

The best of wake up and go to sleep – A link to ten great seconds of the Three Stooges

I say “apparently” I am a snorer, because it’s very difficult to realize you are a snorer while being asleep.  But I am told I snore by Kari.  And the kids.  Sometimes during a nap I will wake up suddenly, like I was actually awoken by a loud noise.  I’m starting to think that I might actually be a snorer.  But being a denier is easier.  Okay, I snore.  Big deal.  I admit it, even with circumstantial evidence, I admit it.  But I don’t want to admit it because the implication is that there is something wrong with me for being a snorer.

I sleep pretty soundly, but I find that I sleep most soundly on my back.  Years ago I saw a report on back pain and how sleeping on your stomach would lead to back aches.  Since I had back pain, I switched.  And I have been a back sleeper ever since.  And I don’t move.  I’m like that scene in the movie Psycho where they show the bed where mother “sleeps.”  My side of the bed is starting to get a channel in it as well.

Mother was apparently a side sleeper.

But I usually start on my side, and that will generally last until I’m about to be out.  Kari prefers the “on the side” sleeping me, because that is the non-snoring me.  Apparently there is a link to my sleeping on my back and snoring.  Side sleeping me = no snoring.  Back sleeping me = OMG!  TIME TO EMPLOY THE BEDQUAKE!

Snoring can be caused by several things, all of which I categorically deny having.  I’m not obese, I don’t smoke, drink or take drugs, nor am I pregnant (I looked up reasons for snoring and it was there).  Sleep apnea?  I looked at the symptoms of that too and none of them apply to me, at least the awake me.  Even if I did have sleep apnea, there’s no way I’m wearing that dumb mask thing.  No way.  I do go to bed with some nasal congestion.  Maybe I should look into a decongestant prior to bed, or a nasal spray or something.

I really think the issue lies with the jaw.  Try making a snoring sound, then move your lower jaw forward and try to make a snoring sound.  Can’t do it, can you?  When I’m sleeping on my back, my jaw naturally relaxes and gets into a position that promotes snoring.  That’s my thinking, and I’m sticking with it.

So last night I was having this dream, I don’t even remember what it was about, but it was building in intensity and then the bedquake hit.  For a moment I thought that maybe the dream was what jolted me awake, because I hate being unsettled by dreams.  But as I lay there in the brief moment of being suddenly awakened, I started to piece it together.  The bedquake was employed.  And maybe it was because I was snoring.  I was probably snoring.  OKAY, I WAS SNORING!  I’m an un-peaceful, peaceful sleeper.  I guess I better get used to bedquakes.

zzzzz – foot/calf rub




2017 Running & Triathlon Year in Review


I think most people will say “good riddance” to 2017, but as far as running and triathlon went for me, it was a pretty good year.  As is the custom, I like to wrap it up with a year end summary.


I wrapped up my third straight year of a running streak, managing at least a mile every day.  There weren’t too many issues in maintaining my streak.  Even the post-Ironman mile was no big deal the day after the race and a 4 hour car ride home from Louisville, Kentucky.  I really felt like I could do 2 or even 3 miles that day, but I didn’t push it.  Maintaining a streak takes some discipline to know when not to overdo it, and so I played it safe with just a mile.

I will have to say good bye to this little running data app that I have used for the past several years.  The developer refused to update it for the new iPhone operating system.  It served me well.  I received a new Garmin 935XT watch that is pretty impressive.  I will be using Garmin Connect from now on to log my running miles.  Fingers are crossed.


I finished the year with 1682 total miles, 142 miles less than last year.  Even so, it’s still pretty impressive to me.  After 29 years of running, this brings my yearly average to 812 miles per year.  So I have done approximately double the miles this year than my annual average, which is increasing every year.

One item of note is my average pace this year was 8:35 min/mile, which exceeds last year’s 8:47 min/mile average.  Not sure why that is, because it wasn’t intentional, but I will take it.  I have learned somewhat through training for Ironman and marathons that long, slow distance with occasional speed work thrown in is probably a better training method for performance than the constant tempo runs at faster paces that used to be my bread and butter.

Speaking of the running streak, last year I mentioned in my wrap-up that I might give up the running streak in 2017, but it didn’t happen.  The main reason for stopping the streak at the end of 2016 was injury, mainly to my foot.   But I managed to train through it fine.  The reason this year for the consideration is basically the same.  I’m pretty sore after another long season, and I just don’t think I have anything left to prove with keeping the streak going.  At 54 years old, it’s not like I’m going to set a longevity record for streaking.  I would have had to have started that in my teens probably.  And with two big marathons on the calendar for next year, I think that I might benefit from having some rest days after tough or long workouts.  If I do end the streak, I’ll write up a blog about how I felt it affected me.  The original goal was to last a year – mission accomplished.  I think year two of the streak I saw the benefits, and this past year I’m starting to see some diminishing returns with it.


My biggest accomplishment for 2017 was making the cut for the 2018 Boston Marathon!   Of course I actually qualified for the race in 2016, but I had to wait until April to apply and then wait to see where the ax would fall for the cutoff to get in.  I had a -4:51 BQ cushion, so I wasn’t really too worried about it even after missing the cut for the 2017 race by 28 seconds.  When I got the email I was relieved.  So, basically being patient and waiting was my biggest running accomplishment.  Funny.


I guess the information I provided was accurate!  I was very excited to get the official invite booklet.  





  • 3124 TOTAL HOURS – 107 HOURS PER YEAR (Nearly 130 days spent running over 29 years!)


I had a pretty great year with triathlons in 2017.  In all, I took on three races, finishing on the podium at Manteno, Illinois and once again qualifying for the USAT Nationals.  I think that is my second time qualifying for nationals, and is always a big feather in my cap.  The race will be held in Cleveland in 2018, and I will not attend seeing that I am already committed to the Boston Marathon in April, and the Chicago Marathon in October.  Some day I hope to attend, especially if it is a little closer to home.

The ET Batavia Triathlon is becoming a favorite for me, and I did well this year, but did not place in my age group.  I’ve already signed up for it again.

My big “A” race this year was 2017 Ironman Louisville.  I had big expectations for this race and I put in a lot of hard work to achieve my goals.  I PR’d every discipline this time around, lowering my Ironman personal record to 11 hours, 46 minutes, 55 seconds.  The finish was awesome, but once again pales in comparison to the fun and experiences I had with my buddies training for and racing Ironman Lou.  Lots of great memories.





2017 RACES

I did six total races in 2017 and had fun in them all.  Here’s a brief recap with a link to the race reports for each.


I’m looking forward to running my first Boston Marathon.  I plan on following a 16 week beginner training plan for it, as I don’t really have any real desire to do this race as fast as possible.  I kind of want to take my time and enjoy every step.  The plan, although labeled as a beginner plan, has plenty of mileage and work in it for me to do well.

I’m already signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October and the ET Batavia Tri in June.  In talking with my Gunner teammates, there’s a strong possibility they will be back at the Chicago Triathlon in August, and I am planning to join them this time.  I’ve skipped it the past few years.

I ran two miles on January 1, 2018, so the streak is alive as I wrap this report up.  But we will see.  If I do decide to let the streak die, I will do so when the marathon training plan has rest days, and I’ll probably throw in some cycling or weight workout on those days.

That’s it for 2017!  Thanks for reading.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some other changes I made:

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

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

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

Hot Cider Hustle Race Report

When:  11/05/2017

Where:  Danada Forest Preserve, Wheaton, Illinois

Distance:  8 Miles

Results:  56:33 / 5th Overall / 4th Place Male Overall / 1st Place M50-54 Age Group

This is the fourth time for me doing this race and it seems to have changed on me when I wasn’t paying attention.  The first time doing this race was back in 2011 when I did it with Ben, and I really enjoyed it.  8 miles is a unique race distance, so it was fun to tackle something that I was for sure going to PR in.  Race day in the past for this race has been sunny, frigid, windy and wet, thanks to a late October/early November race date.  This time around we had wet for sure.  The temperature was nice, in the low 50’s with not much wind, but it had rained the day before and early morning of the race and threatened to rain again.  Fortunately, the rain held off while we raced, although Kari said she felt some during her 5K.

Which brings me to the 5K.  They added one.  There never used to be one.  And that’s not all they added.  The added another whole day.  Confused?  So was I when I went to sign up.  I guess this little race that seemed to fly under the radar had become a little more popular.  You could choose to run the 8 mile race or the 5K on either Saturday or Sunday, or both if you are crazy enough.  Since we had some Saturday obligations, we opted for the Sunday race.  I’m glad I did.  Like I mentioned above, Saturday was rainy.  I heard a local runner on Facebook say that they hated the race, but I can only assume she hated it because of the weather.

So why did they add a whole extra day of racing?  1855 total participants for this formally quiet little race!  Saturday had 818 total runners and Sunday had 1037!  That is a lot for this forest preserve limestone path trail.  In comparison, in 2011 there were only 466 competitors in the 8 mile only race, 505 in 2012 and 640 in 2014.  In 2016, they had a total of 1059 5k/8mi runners.  Quite a difference.  Did they add the day to accommodate more athletes, or to make more money?  That’s a possibility because this race is put on by  a company that seems to hold races all over the area.  They do a good job for the most part, but you can tell by the way it is run that it’s just different.

Okay, enough with the details of the race.  Time for the report!  I told Kari that I was signing up for the race and told her that there was a 5K too.  She said to sign her up for it and that’s the story I’m sticking to.  I set my alarm for 5:45am and got up and ate so we could get there early and grab a parking spot in the spot limited lot near the race.  I’m glad we did get there early, because everyone else was stuck with the shuttle bus option.  Except for the guy with the huge tow truck.  He decided to make me very nervous by parking next to me.  The forest preserve police watch this lot like a hawk, and I thought this guy was there to tow people who violated the parking rules or something.  This truck was huge, but he was wearing running gear, so my fears weren’t needed.  Also parked near me was a guy in a black pickup truck with a Marine Corp sticker as well as a Brown University sticker.  He got out and I immediately keyed on him as a potential challenger, i.e. he was old like me, and looked pretty fit.  Kari said he was “ripped.”  Thanks, Kari.

Sitting in our early bird parking spot. Look how packed it is.  She’s questioning my sanity.

I brought a few layers along but after a quick warm-up run of about 10 minutes with a long sleeve over my short sleeve shirt, I decided I’d be good without it.  I did put on a pair of cheap thin gloves to keep my hands warm and we walked to the start.  Others though, they were dressed like it was going to be 20 degrees, not 50.

In the past the start and finish were at the same place, located on the grass track next to the parking lot, but they moved it and I got a little confused.  I made my way to the front and waited for the start.  For the start you funnel through a very tight space and I didn’t want to get caught up with a bunch of others slow rolling through it.  I think when we started, I was probably in the same position as I ended the race in.

When the horn sounded we all took off and made our way quickly to the trail.  I felt like I had settled into a nice pace, but I was starting to get passed by some questionable people.  At the first mile mark I got passed by a girl who was not questionable at all and mentioned to her that she only had one other girl ahead of her.  She replied that she’d give it her best to catch her.  At the 1.5 mile mark, she did the 5K turn around and instantly became the top female, as the leading girl continued on to the 8 mile course.  I guess that’s one way to take the lead!

After getting past that 5K turn around, things got thin real quick.  Thanks to a meandering course through a wooded forest preserve, I quickly lost sight of the leaders and then the next person ahead of me as well.  It’s a good thing that the course was adequately marked and that I had run it before, because I was all alone except for the wheezing guy behind me, and I can only assume he was trusting me to lead the way.  Speaking of that guy, he was doing that breathing thing that runners do when they are well into Z4, and probably should dial it back a bit.  I give him credit, he did hang behind me about 200 feet back for most of the first six miles.  He was wearing a bright fluorescent green windbreaker and it was easy for me to keep my eye on him.

At the four mile mark I was just under 30 minutes and decided to start taking small portions of my gel.  I’m glad I did because it certainly provided some quick energy for me and made me feel better. Instead of downing the gel quickly, I nursed it from mile four through mile 6, providing me with just enough energy to get to the end feeling good.

I kept my eye on the green jacket guy, but was surprised to see a light blue dressed runner had passed him.  And if she had made up ground on the guy behind me, she might be making up ground on me.

But she wasn’t.  Nor was anyone else.  As a matter of fact, after that girl who passed me at the one mile mark and turned for home in the 5K, I passed no one and no one passed me.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  At the seven mile mark, I started catching runners walking the tail end of the 5K.  Looking at the 5K results, I passed about 23 of them.

I made my way off the trail and hit the horse track for the run to the finish.  I had done a warm up on the grass before the race, so I knew that there were some big puddles about halfway down the back stretch.  I made my way to the rail and paced my way in.  After a quick look back at the turn, I could see there was nobody immediately behind me that could catch me, so I coasted the last 100 yards into the finish.  Kari cheered me in, and I was glad to call it a race.

Pretty good swag at this race.  Added another mug to the collection.

After a short walk cool down, we headed back to the car as it was starting to rain.  We changed clothes and grabbed an umbrella and headed back to the awards ceremony.  It seemed like the rain was starting to make everyone edgy, even the event hosts too.   I grabbed a cup of the “hot” cider I asked the guy with the microphone when the award ceremony would be, he told me just go tell the lady in the tent that you earned a medal.  I did, she gave me my age group medal, and we split.  Except for the runners still out there trying to finish the 8 miler, all of us were done with being there.




Results and Analysis

Here is a link to the results:  http://results.itsracetime.com/Results.aspx?CId=17095&RId=339&EId=4

I was surprised to see that I had finished 5th overall.  Had the Saturday and Sunday runners ran together, my time would have been good for 13th place overall.  I still would have placed first in the M50-54 age group.  Looking at my previous finishes, I placed better even though my time was third fastest.

2011 – 57:05 (slowest time) / 17th place (out of 466, top 3.6%) / 3rd place A/G

2012 – 56:13 (2nd fastest time) / 19th place (out of 505, top 3.7% – lowest placing) / 1st place A/G

2014 – 55:56 (fastest time) / 18th place (out of 640, top 2.8%) / 3rd place A/G

2017 – 56:33 (third fastest time) / 5th place (out of 300, top 1.6% – highest placing) / 1st place A/G

So it seems that I am destined to get third place in the age group next time (lol).  With only 300 in the 8 mile field on Sunday, I moved up in placement quite a bit, finishing in the top 1.6% of finishers.  I guess that makes it a pretty good day.



Ranking the Rock Group Names of RnR HOF Inductees

Okay, I’m bored.  My training is over for the season, and it’s raining outside.  I was running on the treadmill, listening to my shuffled music playlist and thinking about the names of the bands that I was listening to:  Judas Priest.  The Babys.  Foreigner.  So I started thinking which names were just bad and which names were bad ass.  Then I thought there are too many names out there to list, so I decided to rank the names of the groups that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Although I did give a pass to a couple of bands with proper names, I immediately dismissed singular artists and those who went by their names from this list.  Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience might be one of the most bad ass names out there, I am choosing not to use proper names.  These bands didn’t choose the name, it was given and they probably couldn’t think of a cool name on their own, or they had the “all about me” attitude.  So forget Elton John, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen.  It’s my list, go make your own.  I also omitted back up bands that were second to the main star, such as The Comets, The Crickets, and The Four Seasons.

I ranked them not by how musical they are, or how much I like the band.  If that was the case the list would be 1. Rush, 2. Styx (not in the HoF, I know.  They’re in mine.) – but more about how I feel the name conveys the spirit of the group.  I have tried to include an explanation of the name, which can make their ranking better or worse in some cases.  Special consideration is given to how rock and roll the name is.  And mostly if it really is bad ass.  

Remember, this isn’t about the band or their music – just their names.  This might be the most useless list of all time.   I probably wasted five hours on this dumb list.  I had fun with it though.





Now for the really bad.  The Worst Name Goes to…

85 – THE STOOGES – Year after year my favorite band Rush was passed over, and these guys get in way before them?!  I can’t even think of a single song that these dopes even sang.  They do absolutely nothing for me, and the fact that it sounds like they ripped off the name from the Three Stooges really pisses me off!  WORST NAME ON MY LIST, BOYS.  P.S. YOU SUCK!

84 – N.W.A. – W.T.F.?  Not rock and roll.  Hate the genre, hate the name, hate the fact they are in the HoF.

83 – THE MOONGLOWS – Never heard of them, typical 1950’s era singing group name.  At least they aren’t N.W.A.

82 – THE BLUE CAPS – I never heard of these guys either, but I have learned that a whole lot of awesome musicians were inspired by this early rock and roll back up band.  The name is a bottom feeder.

81 – THE FAMOUS FLAMES – Never heard of them.  Have you heard of James Brown?  He got his start here.

80 – THE FLAMINGOS – Inspired by flamingos, apparently.  I’m uninspired.

79 – THE DELLS – Not sure of the origin of the name, but the band hailed from Harvey, Illinois.

78 – THE RONETTES – “Ette” anything is uninspiring.  Inspired Eddie Money, though.

77 – THE SHIRELLES – Shirley = Shirelles.

76 – RUN-DMC – Again, not rock and roll.  Just nicknames.

75 – THE COASTERS – The story is they went from coast to coast.

74 – THE IMPRESSIONS – Sorry, they never left one on me.

73 – THE COMETS – These guys produced the music for Bill Haley, who took all the credit.  Not sure why the RnR HoF gave them their own induction.

72 – THE CRICKETS – Buddy Holly’s band.  Named for the insect that seems to them to be the most musical.  I guess they carried on without Buddy.

71 – SEX PISTOLS – Okay, I’m not going to even look this one up.  I don’t want to know.  Very punk rock though.  I should probably rank them higher, but screw punk rock.

70 – TRAFFIC – They got the idea from watching cars drive by.  Boring activity, boring name.

69 – LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – A nod to heroin?!  Yikes.  In reality, it came from a song lyric by some guy named John Hurt.  Do you believe in magic?

68 – THE HOLLIES – Must have thought the world of Buddy Holly.  A lot of those in the HoF did.

67 – THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS – Folkies, whom I would have guessed the Mamas portion of the name came from Mama Cass.  But I guess the Hell’s Angels referred to their female companions as “mamas.”  Why they would honor that, who knows.

66 – JACKSON 5 – They were the Jackson’s and there was five of them.  One was named Michael, I believe.

65 – THE YARDBIRDS – I would have guessed they added “yard” to the “birds” to differentiate themselves from The Byrds, but I guess it referred to hobos hanging out along the rail yard.  That little fact alone moves it up a little higher on the chart for me.

64 – THE VENTURES – Suggested by one of the band member’s mother.  Negative points for that, dudes.  Hawaii 5-0 is legendary though.

63 – THE BAND – When Dylan switched to electric guitar, it pissed off the critics.  The Band worked with Dylan at that time and apparently the band known as “The Hawks” were snubbed by the critics, referring to them as just “the band.”  Uninspiring name, but they have their devotees.

62 – U2 – Most assume it has to do the spy plane, but apparently Bono says it was about interacting with the audience, as in “you too.”  Okay, Bono.

61 – THE POLICE – I couldn’t confirm this, but apparently Stewart Copeland’s dad was in the CIA, and he suggested the name. Great band, boring name.

60 – THE BEACH BOYS – These California boys were supposed to be the embodiment of the beach lifestyle.  In reality, none of them knew how to surf.  But they nailed the culture for sure.

59 – THE O’JAYS – Named themselves after a popular Cleveland disc jockey.

58 – THE PLATTERS – The name defines the 50’s era groups.

57 – THE DRIFTERS – Apparently, a lot of members drifted in and out of this band.

56 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – They’re red, they’re hot, yada yada yada.

55 – THE (YOUNG) RASCALS – They wanted to be called “The Rascals” but another group called “Harmonica Rascals” said to stop it, so their manager added the “Young” part.  I wonder whatever happened to the “Harmonica Rascals?”  Actually, I don’t care.

54 – PARLIMENT FUNKADELIC – Basically a combo of two groups, but I don’t care where the name comes from, the name fits the band.

53 – ABBA – The name comes from the first initials of each of the band members:  Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Anni-Frid.  Is it Ah-baa, or AB-a?  I’ll never get it right.

52 – GREEN DAY – Pot plays a roll in this one.  No kidding.  Originally they called themselves “Sweet Children.”  Green Day is a reference to Billie Joe’s first pot experience.  Okay.

51 – THE SMALL FACES/FACES – We have small faces, lets go with that!

50 – THE DOORS – Typical of 1960’s era bands, it seems like they just said “Hey, there’s a door! Let’s roll with that.”  But actually it came from a book called “The Doors of Perception,” which had some sort of trippy meaning.  Far out, man.

49 – CREAM – They considered themselves the cream of the crop.  I guess.

48 – NIRVANA – “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans.”  – Kurt Cobain.  Talk about taking people by surprise.

47 – TALKING HEADS – A friend of Tina Weymouth’s suggested the name.


The names are getting a little better…

46 – EAGLES – In Steve Martin’s biography he mentions that Glen Frey (I think) was a friend and was starting a band called “Eagles.”  Steve questions it and inquires if he means “The Eagles”.  Frey was adamant about it just being Eagles.  I’m with Steve.

45 – BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD – Took the name from a steam roller parked on a roadway.

44 – R.E.M. – They had some really bad name ideas prior to Stipe randomly picking the name from a dictionary.  Thank god.  Previous suggestions of “Can of Piss” and “Negro Wives” probably were not in their best interests.

43 – BEASTIE BOYS – My thoughts on the Rock and Roll HoF are that it should only include true rock and roll artists, but that line isn’t clear cut anymore.  And even though I kind of dismissed this band as being rap-crap, it’s rap-crap with a rock and roll attitude.

42 – ALICE COOPER – Wait a minute!  I know I said no proper names!  But who we all assume to be Alice was really Vincent Furnier.  Originally they called themselves the Spiders, but decided to change their name from something obvious to something a little more “old lady-ish” to have more shock value, according to Vincent – oops, I mean Alice.

41 – BLONDIE – Pretty obvious that the name comes from Deborah Harry’s bleached out hair. Got into the HoF on the strength of what, two songs?  Gimme a break.

40 – GUNS N’ ROSES – Shouldn’t it be Guns ‘n’ Roses?  I always heard it was a combo of the names of L.A. Guns Tracii Guns and Axl Rose’s names.  This is a band that makes me immediately change the radio station.  I’m not sure why.  I bought the first album and liked it.  Just got sick of it.  But the name defines the hard rocking Hair Band era.

39 – PUBLIC ENEMY – Again, not a fan of non-rock and roll.  But a pretty good name.

38 – CHICAGO – These guys went from calling themselves the “Big Thing” to “Chicago Transit Authority,” who quickly ordered them to cease and desist.  They shortened it to Chicago, playing homage to their city.  I’m surprised old man Daley didn’t tell them to knock it off too.

37 – AC/DC – The Young boys got the name from the back of their sister’s sewing machine that was labeled AC/DC.  She sewed Angus’s school boy uniform for him.  They thought that reflected the power of their sound.  Later they were bit embarrassed to find out that it also meant being bisexual.

36 – THE PRETENDERS – Apparently took the name from the song “The Great Pretender” from fellow inductees The Platters.

35 – STEELY DAN – Are you ready for this?  It came from a name of a dildo in some book.  Dan was Steely, for sure.  I would have ranked them higher if it wasn’t for the dildo thing

34 – CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – John Fogerty had a friend named Creedence Nuball, and the Clearwater part came from a beer advertisement.  The Revival was a nod to the numerous changes the band had gone through.  It’s a mouthful, but CCR is all you need to say.

33 – KISS – This was the band of my preteen years.  I had every album.  The best part of the name is the logo.  One of the best logos ever.

32 – QUEEN – I took several years of me listening to this band to understand the reference.  And I was shocked when it was announced that Freddie had AIDS.  Certainly rock royalty.

31 – HEART – Started as Hocus Pocus and White Heart and dropped the unnecessary parts.  Great band.  Definitely defines the spirit of the Wilson sisters.  I hear they are fighting and not talking to each other.  Maybe should rename themselves “Broken Heart.”

30 – THE BYRDS – The Birds would probably be at the bottom of the list.  Changing the “i” to a “y” = genius.  Actually, they were just following what the Beatles did.

29 – FLEETWOOD MAC – I’m giving another pass to a group name consisting of proper names.  The drummer isn’t named Fleetwood Mac, or Mac Fleetwood.  His name is Mick Fleetwood, and his buddy was bassist John McVie, aka Mac.  Apparently Peter Green who was the guitarist in the group at the time coined the name to keep them from leaving.

28 – YES – A simple positive name that was supposed to be temporary.  It stuck.  One of the best band logos ever.

27 – ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – From what I can gather, a “light” orchestra was just that, a small group of string instruments.  And ELO electrified that concept.

26 – THE ANIMALS – Given the name thanks to their wild stage performances.  Easy there, tiger.

25 – THE TEMPTATIONS – This group may own the record for most “previously known as” group names.  Another iconic name.

24 – THE SUPREMES – Staked their claim to girl group rock royalty with that name.  This list isn’t about my favorite groups, remember?

23 – THE WHO – Apparently they were already going deaf from how loud they played that they couldn’t hear the suggestions of friends.  The who?  Yes, that’s right.  Whatever the name, they should be on Mount Rockmore with the Beatles and Stones.

22 – JOURNEY – They tried a radio contest to name the band, but didn’t click with any of the suggestions.  They went from “Golden Gate Rhythm Section” (horrible) to Journey after one of their roadies suggested it.  Their “journey’ took them from jazz fusion/prog rock to arena rock kings.

21 – EARTH, WIND & FIRE – A couple of the band member’s zodiac signs had influence on the name.  I think it conveys their music pretty well.

20 – PEARL JAM – If I get this wrong, I’m going to hear about it from a buddy.  They loved basketball player Mookie Blaylock for some reason, and originally called themselves that.  Avoiding possible legal issues they changed it to Pearl and added Jam.  Eddie Vedder had a great-grandmother named Pearl, and the Jam part I read came from attending a Neil Young concert in which he “jammed” on stage.  I dunno.  Cool name though.  I should rank them higher, but my buddy dissed the Barenaked Ladies once.  There has to be some punishment for that.

19 – JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – One of the members had a friend who gave out silly nick names. The nickname “Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane” was shortened.  I’m guessing they jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon of the late 70’s to change Airplane to Starship.  Both are unique and interesting, and fit the styles of music the band was playing at the time.

18 – THE CLASH – Inspired from newspaper articles referring to news about clashes in current events.  The name fits the band.

17 – DEEP PURPLE – Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother liked a Bing Crosby song called “Deep Purple.”  No lie.  I looked it up.

16 – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – The name comes from a book about “the secret sexual subculture” of the 1960’s.  Whatever.  Cool name though.

15 – THE BEATLES – I get it, they got the beat.  Actually, they pretty much defined where rock and roll was at and where it was going.  For the early 1960’s, it was spot on.

14 – GENESIS – The band shortened the name from “Genesis to Revelation.”  I’m glad they did.

13 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – I never got this band or their popularity, but the name is super cool.  Apparently chosen by Jerry Garcia from a dictionary.

12 – THE KINKS – A huge part of the British Invasion, and one that left a mark.  Great name.  It probably pissed off a lot of Archie Bunker types with baby boomer daughters.

11 – METALLICA – For someone who liked hard rock, I never clicked with these guys at their start.  But the name exemplifies BAD ASS.


And now for the Top Ten…

10 – PINK FLOYD – By the way, which one is Pink?  Actually Pink is Pink Anderson and Floyd was Floyd Council, two blues artists that Sid Barrett had records of.  Was called “The Pink Floyd Sound” for a while, and apparently David Gilmour occasionally refers to the band as “The Pink Floyd.”  Iconic rock name.

9 – LED ZEPPELIN – Keith Moon was said to react to the formation of this band with how he thought it would go over.  I guess he was wrong.

8 – CHEAP TRICK – Apparently they took in a Slade concert and Tom Petersson commented that they used every “cheap trick” in their show.  The band nails the moniker.

7 – VAN HALEN – It’s a last name, and I’m breaking my rule again.  But you can shut up.  Probably one of the coolest names from bands from my era.

6 – ZZ TOP – Lots of arguing over the origin of this one.  Popular is the suggestion that the two most known cigarette rolling papers were Zig-Zag and Top.  Makes sense.  Very unique name and band.

5 – AEROSMITH – Joey Kramer thought his take on the book Arrowsmith was pretty cool.  I agree.

4 – LYNYRD SKYNYRD – If you don’t know the story behind this name, shame on you.  Go back to your pop, or alternative, or whatever the hell you listen to.  Easy choice to be near the top.

3 – BLACK SABBATH – They started out with Earth, but got told to change it thanks to another band already using it.  Geezer Butler was into black magic and the occult, and wrote the vast majority of their lyrics, so there was influence there.  But they had seen a 1963 Boris Karloff filmed called “Black Sabbath” and the rest is history.

2 – THE ROLLING STONES – References to rolling stones abound in blues music.  Brian Jones is credited with suggesting it, inspired by the Muddy Waters song.  Maybe the most iconic rock band name ever.  Maybe.

And Number One goes to…

1 – RUSH – The name was given to them by the older brother of the drummer they kicked out of the band.  Classic.  There was no way I was not putting my favorite band number one.  It’s my list, remember?