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.
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.
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.
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.
2017 – RUNNING REVIEW
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 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.
2017 RUNNING STATS
1682 TOTAL MILES – 32 MILES PER WEEK / 140 MILES PER MONTH
365 TOTAL RUNS – 7 RUNS PER WEEK / 30.4 RUNS PER MONTH
240 TOTAL HOURS – 4.6 HOURS PER WEEK / 20 HOURS PER MONTH
LIFETIME RUNNING STATS
23,549 TOTAL MILES – 812 MILES PER YEAR
4340 TOTAL RUNS – 149 RUNS PER YEAR
3124 TOTAL HOURS – 107 HOURS PER YEAR (Nearly 130 days spent running over 29 years!)
2017 TRIATHLON REVIEW
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 TRIATHLON RELATED STATS
119,174 TOTAL YARDS SWIMMING (67.7 MILES)
3308 TOTAL MILES BIKING
1682 TOTAL MILES RUNNING
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FROM WORST TO BEST – MY RANKING OF ROCK AND ROLL GROUP NAMES FROM GROUPS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME
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?
Ironman Louisville – What a day! After 30 weeks of training, straining, and complaining I have finally crossed the Fourth Street Live! finish line! And what a finish line! And to finish my third Ironman with my teammates once again makes it all the sweeter. Here’s the recap of my week leading up to and my experiences and memories of Ironman Louisville 2017! (Brace yourself – Tons of photos and tons of paragraphs ahead!)
INTRODUCTION:My four other Gunner teammates and I felt a little too emboldened after having a great race at Ironman Lake Placid in 2016, so we kidded around and prompted each other to do another in 2017 until we got serious about it. Louisville kept coming up as a strong possibility. I knew Ironman Louisville would fall around the same time of year as the Chicago Marathon, so I had to make a decision – Ironman Louisville or the 40th anniversary of Chicago’s premier event. When the gang decided that Lou was a go, Alex, Dave, Jeff and I all applied and Ironman Louisville was on our calendars. The only Gunner missing was John, who had just welcomed a new baby to his growing family and would have to opt out this time. He was definitely there in spirit!
Once again, I decided to use Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit 30-week competitive training plan with one major change. I decided that the swim plan was too exhaustive for me, with three swims per week that were mostly 2500 yards or more. My swim technique is by no means something to be proud of, but I think it’s about as good as it is going to get. And after swimming 1:18 at IMLP, I felt that I could cut it back and still do well. So I switched to the Just Finish swim plan of the book until I decided that was too much as well! I ended up doing most of my swim training at home in my own pool, two 45 minute swims per week. I focused on good technique during those swims and figured that if I could swim 45 minutes without being drained, swimming another 30 to 45 minutes in a race would be no problem.
With that major change to the swim plan, I also decided that this year I was going to gun a little harder and step out of my comfort zone in other areas too. I had a full aero disc wheel for my bike, but had chickened out using it in Lake Placid and in other races as well. I finally just said screw it, and threw the dumb thing onto my bike and trained with it. I rode that thing all spring, summer and fall and quickly came to the realization that I was way too conservative of a Ironman triathlete. I’m using the disc wheel, dang it. I almost chickened out using it on race day with good reason, but I held my ground.
The call to the gate has been played! Now, off to the race!
WEDNESDAY: The plan was to caravan as a group down to Louisville. Jeff needed a ride, so he took the train to Mokena and I picked him up and we waited until Dave and his gang pulled into town. A quick trip to Mindy’s restaurant for a dinner and off we went to Louisville.
We arrived in the city sometime after 1am and started to check into our hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown. That’s when we were greeted by one of Louisville’s finest – 30 cents guy. This guy was asking for money, but the strange thing is he was only asking for 30 cents. “It’s ONLY 30 CENTS” was his request, which he made over and over again. Funny thing is I had 30 cents in my pocket, but there was no way I was giving it to him. Pro tip: If you’re going to beg for money, be nice about it. And don’t be weird and request some stupid arbitrary number like 30 cents. What the hell do you buy with 30 cents anyway?
THURSDAY: After breakfast with the gang, I did a quick 3 mile run. We then all walked to the Ironman village to register and pick up our packets. Seeing that my birthday was coming two days after the race, I decided to treat myself to some early birthday gifts. After buying a cycling jersey, tri kit, zippered hoodie, two t-shirts, a hat, a visor, a long sleeve tech shirt, and two coffee mugs, I decided that was plenty for now and to save some for the finisher’s jacket on Monday.
After exiting the Ironman store, we were just in time for the Athlete Briefing, a course talk that they say is mandatory, but it’s not like they take attendance. It pays to go to it though, as each course is different, and there were some changes to the swim start at Ironman Louisville. Not long into it, we encountered weirdo number two. I wish I had taken his picture, but he appeared to be a somewhat inebriated version of Tulio from “The Road to El Dorado” and Dave Navarro.
This weirdo’s M.O. was to stand on the outside of the Athlete Village and stare at us. He later made entry and stood and listened to the course talk as well, like the drafting rule changes were the best advice he had ever heard. Maybe he was considering a last minute entry into the race. Last I saw of him, he was doing chin-ups on a parkway tree.
We did a little course reconnaissance, seeing that the transition area and the Swim Out was nearby. I kind of wish we hadn’t looked at the water because we saw a bunch of floating logs and debris in the water, and of particular note a group of about six or so fish. Yes, I know that there are fish in the water. But these things were insanely HUGE!!! They looked almost prehistoric, and moved their mouths super slow, almost like they were silently telling us that they planned to dine well on Sunday morning.
After a late lunch at an Italian place on Fourth Street Live (I had the spaghetti pie), we decided to drive the bike course. If looking at the water was a mistake, we should have also skipped the bike course drive. It was not what I was expecting. Rolling hills in Illinois must mean something totally different in Kentucky, because these things were relentless and looked horrible. Nothing we could do about it at this point. It was probably a good idea to see what we were dealing with, but it certainly didn’t look like fun.
FRIDAY:I got up and ran a four mile out and back on the run course and thankfully found it to be pleasurable, i.e. no hills. Now it seemed like Louisville was being taken over by Ironman triathletes and their families. It was getting crowded and the excitement was starting to build. We attended the athlete welcoming ceremony on Fourth Street Live and were treated to a pretty decent band and a really inspirational video about some of our fellow Ironman competitors.
Dinner was at TGIFriday’s, and I stayed up and greeted Kari and Ben who arrived late.
SATURDAY: Kari and I got up early and had breakfast with Jeff. He talked me into doing the optional practice swim and I’m glad I did. It was a simple ten to fifteen minute dip, but it always helps me realize that the swim course isn’t anything to worry about. The water temp was mild, free of debris and man eating fish. Upon getting out of the water, I ran a mile with Ben, who had just returned from his own run.
Upon getting back to the hotel, I double checked my gear bags.
After packing up, our group walked to transition to rack our bikes and drop off our bags. About 3/4 of the way there, I realized that Ben was carrying the Bike Gear Bag, and I had thought Kari had the Run Gear bag. She wasn’t carrying it. Oops. Just like that I had my first freakout of the day. Did I leave it in the hotel room? On the elevator? In the lobby? On a street corner? Kari was kind enough to walk back to the hotel, find it in the room and grab it. All was good with the world again. It’s a good thing I am married to one of the greatest sherpa’s of all time.
My gear bags were in a great spot, third row deep and all the way down at the end, thanks to the row ending with my bib number: 2400. That made it super easy to find.
We stopped at a pizza place for dinner and then headed home to get off our feet and chill out for the night. It was race day eve!
SUNDAY RACE DAY!
The alarm went off at 4 am, and I got up and took a shower. I don’t usually do that, but I took Dave’s advice and let it wake me up. I felt pretty good. I got dressed, ate a bagel and some banana and gathered up my Morning Clothes bag and headed down to the lobby to meet up with the crew.
We shuffled our way to transition and checked our gear – added water bottles, checked the tires, made sure our gear bags were still there – then it was off to body marking. I think body marking is somewhat strange and useless. I guess it makes it easier to identify our bodies if we drown, crash off a cliff, or have a major grabber on the run. Oh well, I try to have fun with it and I requested my usual smiley face on the calf. That’s about as close as I will get to getting an Ironman tattoo.
Getting 2400 written on my arm
My age and disposition.
Louisville had somewhat of a unique rolling swim start that underwent a change for 2017. It was still a rolling start, but instead of a first come/first serve method of getting in line, you self-seeded yourself into a grouping based on your predicted swim finish time. I was overthinking this too much, because my swim PR from last year at Lake Placid would have put me in the 1:20 group, but I also knew and expected that the Louisville current aided swim would make me faster, and I should possibly get in with a faster group. That morning Dave opted to go into the faster group and I played it conservative and stuck with the 1:20 to 1:30 group with Jeff. My thinking was that I would rather swim around and pass others than have faster swimmers swim over me.
As we approached the dock where we enter, I could hear Ben yelling for me even with my ear plugs in. I ditched my water shoes and Jeff and I opted to join the line of the swimmers jumping off the closest dock. “Why should I swim an extra 10 yards?” was my thinking. I waved to Ben and Kari and then jumped in and started my journey.
2.4 Miles > 1:09:18 > 78th in M50-54 A/G > 716th Male > 957th Overall
As soon as I was horizontal in the water I felt at ease and in control. The water was slightly cooler than it had been the day before in the practice swim, but it felt perfect. I reminded myself to dial it back for about 10-15 minutes and make sure I don’t get above a perceived Z2 effort. The course has you swimming upstream around Towhead Island and then a little further into the Ohio River until you reach the turn buoy. Just as we passed the island, it seemed like the water temp dropped about 5-10 degrees. I saw another athlete post a similar reaction, so I know I wasn’t misperceiving that. A little after I made my way over to the turn buoy I felt it warm up again. Not sure what was going on with that. There was a little bit of choppiness to the water in the last third of the swim, but I just made sure to rotate in the water a little more and had no issues with it.
After a little contact turning around that first buoy, I began the remaining 2/3’s of the trip back. I’m terrible when it comes to sensing slight changes in the wind and apparently the current as well, but I could tell that I was quickly closing in on the bridges we had to swim under. It was no time until I got past the last bridge and could spot Joe’s Crab Shack, which was near the Swim Out. I started swimming a little harder in that last 10 minutes and was amazed when I saw my watch time of 1:09, a PR by almost 10 minutes.
The Ironman Louisville swim was without a doubt the most painless, cramp-free, quickest and most enjoyable of the three Ironman swims I have done. There were no fish, no logs, no odors, and nothing that was unexpected. It was awesome.
SWIM > BIKE TRANSITION – T1
After getting out of the water I immediately saw Ben and Kari and most of our cheer crew. I jogged up to the wetsuit strippers and let them do the job. Then it was off to T1 and find my Bike Gear bag and my bike for the next part of the race.
112 Miles > 6:12:14 > 78th Place M50-54 A/G > 698th Place Male > 840th Place Overall
Equipment: Specialized Shiv Pro Triathlon Bike > Specialized Trivent Expert Cycling Shoes > FLO aero wheels 30 front/Full back > Louis Garneau Superleggera Aero Helmet > Garmin Edge 500 Bike Computer > Feetures Mini Crew Light Cushion Socks > Homemade Tube Sock Arm Warmers > GU Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Energy Gel in Two GU Energy Gel Flasks > Salt Stick Dispenser with Salt Capsules
The bike ride had been on my mind since driving it on Friday. We had seen the hills on the two looped portion and they did not look all that friendly. But the main player of the day would not turn out to be the hills, it was the weather.
We had been keeping an eye on the weather for a couple of weeks, and it was shaping up to be a hot day in the 80’s until the last few days prior to Sunday. The temps were predicted to be much cooler, which was welcome, however that also meant that a cold front was expected midday, bringing gusts of around 30 mph and strong sustained winds for the day, as well as the chance for rain and thunderstorms. The thunderstorms didn’t materialize, but we did have light rain and strong gusts.
I had made the decision much earlier in training that I wasn’t going to wimp out anymore by not using my full disc aero wheel, and I had racked my bike with that full disc wheel for the race. And even though I managed to somehow stay upright in strong crosswinds, it was not easy. I found myself several times leaning very aggressively into the crosswind, hoping not to get blown off my intended line. It was hard.
Heading out of Louisville was amazingly gentle, a fast ride made possible by a flat road and a super strong tailwind. The first ten miles I had averaged about 21 mph and it was easy riding.
I finally got to the turn for the loops and felt the crosswind for the first time. And then the hills started. After riding them a little I realized that they really weren’t all that bad. Compared to Wisconsin and Lake Placid, these were not as bad. The climbs were pretty short in duration, and there were plenty of screaming down hills thrown in as well. My Garmin registered a top speed of 41 mph, and there were several descents in which I hit 30+ mph.
Upon getting to LaGrange, the weather was warming up. I had tossed the arm warmers in the transition in town and could feel myself sweating a little more. My Garmin said the temperature had risen into the low 80’s, but I don’t think it got that warm. I would say mid to upper 70’s. It lasted maybe thirty minutes and then it clouded over, got cooler and started to sprinkle.
The rain was pesky, never really completely wetting the roadway to the point were I felt it was a concern. But now that it was raining slightly, and the temps had dropped, I went from being slightly warm to being uncomfortably cool. It wasn’t unbearable, but I did regret not keeping my arm warmers.
At Mile 45 I found myself riding mostly alone and got a little concerned that I missed the second loop turn. I finally caught up with the next rider, who was standing and pedaling, and I asked him if he was on his first or second loop. He said he was on his first loop and that the turn for the second loop is still ahead. Immediately after asking him the question though, I realized why he was standing – he was urinating. I almost laughed at him while he was responding to me, but I was able to contain myself. Triathlon is weird.
The turn for the second loop finally came and off I went back toward LaGrange. I stopped at the aid station there and found the toilets (I don’t pee myself, although there were times I considered it). Upon exiting I was greeted by a volunteer who had a table of miscellaneous stuff – pretzel sticks, chips, grapes, and other stuff. But it was the Vasoline that caught my eye. I had forgotten to apply some Glide in T1, so I grabbed a stick full of the goo and stuck it in my pants. I rode pretty comfortably after that. The volunteer said the Vasoline was pretty popular. No doubt. I also stopped at the Bike Special Needs and grabbed the little yellow jacket I bought. I thought I might need it again, seeing that I had already seen the temps drop once.
After getting through the second loop and turning back west, I could see that the weather ahead of me looked awful. And it was really windy at this point. Around the 90 mile marker I passed Jeff and said hello. He said hi back, but didn’t appear to be in the mood to talk. We must of rode a similar pace back because he later came out of T2 right after me.
I pushed a pretty hard pace between 90 and 105 miles or so, but then decided to relax a little on the rougher River Road and spin my legs to recover for the run a little bit. I was pretty glad to come back into Louisville and get off the bike. It was a great ride, especially considering the brutal weather and the challenging rollers, but I was glad to be heading in for the run. Had I not stopped in four of the aid stations, I probably would have saved 10 minutes on that ride. In all, the bike course is challenging and technical, but plenty of fun to ride.
BIKE > RUN TRANSITION – T2
I was amazed to once again see Ben yelling for me there at the end of the ride. He really did a great job making sure to be loud and get my attention and cheer me on. Every time seeing him and the others was a big emotional lift.
I dismounted and started the walk into transition, where along the way I handed my pile of money (bike) off to some kid who couldn’t have been more than 10, and continued my post-ride shuffle into the change tent. I could see the amused look on many of the spectators getting a good chuckle at our hunched over and hobbled walk. I was even laughing at some of the others as well.
In my bag I had packed a large baby wipe and used it to towel myself off. Even if it was just for the refreshing smell, it made me feel better. I grabbed my bib belt, shoved my feet into my shoes, and opted for the visor instead of the hat. I kept the rain jacket in my back pocket, and I am very glad I did.
26.2 Miles > 4:05:07 > 24th Place M50-54 A/G > 341st Place Male > 434th Place Overall
Equipment: Boco Visor > Nishiki Weather/Wind Resistant Cycling Jacket > Hoka One One Clifton 3 > Fuel Belt Bib Belt with Pouch
When I came out of the change tent I was surprised to see Jeff. I had passed him on the bike and never saw him pass me back, so he must have been right behind me. He was trying to determine if waiting for a portable toilet to open up was in his best interest, and I saw him jog off to a set further up from Run Out. But he was right there with me, and I knew he was going to be chasing me down soon.
I was barely out of T2 when I saw Dave’s son Maxwell, who was cheering like mad. He was telling me that I only had a little run of 26 miles to go. Funny kid. Kari and Ben saw me again and I advised them that Jeff was right behind me. They took this bit of information somewhat nonchalantly, and it dawned on me they new exactly where everyone was at. “Yeah, we know he’s behind you. Now get going!”
Kari and Ben had discovered that Louisville has a bike share program and decided to hop a couple of bikes and chase me around the first part of the first loop. I would get up the road a little and then out of the blue Ben would yell “GO Papa!” which usually took me by surprise. He even caught me once coming out of the porta-john, at which I just shook my head.
Right after that potty break, I saw that Jeff had caught up with me. It was then he said he had crashed on the bike! No wonder he wasn’t up for small talk out on the bike course when I had seen him earlier. He said that some dope had passed him and then stopped right in front of him, causing him to crash and being tossed over his handlebars. He ended up with a pretty good sized bump on his forehead, but seemed to be doing okay.
Jeff and I jogged together for most of the first four miles of the first loop out, but my desire to walk the aid stations and multiple porta-john breaks caused him to gain a little distance on me. I had been passing some gas quite a bit, a common occurrence which many of the other racers also experienced from the sound of it. The saying in triathlon is “Never Trust a Fart,” and I had already “trusted” about a half dozen of them, so I was playing it safe by continually wasting my time in the toilet. But after awhile, I must have gotten most of the gas out of me and never felt the need to go again other than pee breaks. I was staying hydrated pretty well, and was content with my hydration and nutrition plan on the run. I was hitting the Coke and chicken broth, and eating the pretzels/potato chips and bananas when I felt like it. I kept up the gel intake at every 30 minutes as well. I never ran out of energy on the course.
Jeff knew that one of his former bosses was in the race and they met up on the run course somewhere around the 7 mile mark. I had started to creep back up on Jeff, and when I saw them jogging together and sharing their experiences of the day, I decided to try to sneak by and pass them unnoticed. But Jeff saw me and gave me some well wishes for the rest of the race. It was at that point that I thought he might be struggling a little.
Up next for me was seeing Alex, and I jogged with him for a little while. I came to realize that he was about 5 miles from being a two time Ironman and I was still on my first loop. We didn’t stride together for long, and he was off to finish.
It wasn’t long until I was also near the finish; however, I had to make the turn for my second loop. It’s somewhat of a sickening feeling when the halfway turnaround point is very close to the finish line. I was feeling really good at this point and figured that if I was still doing well with 10K to go, I would probably start my kick. And that’s what I did. I got lots of “great pace, Chris” and “nice run” from the spectators, who could read my name on the front of my bib. I did like the fact that the fans along the course could cheer for you personally. It freaks you out the first time, and then you figure it out.
The turn at the end of the out loop was near the 20 mile mark and it was now go time for me. I felt really good. I picked up my pace and was running just under 8 minute miles and passing a good number of runners. Around the 22 mile mark I drank a little chicken broth and it wasn’t long after that that it seemed like it wasn’t settling so well. I started to get slightly nauseated, and I burped a couple of times, which seemed to alleviate the nausea. When I hit the 24 mile mark, I was now pretty comfortable. I had ran this out and back on Friday, and had done this run back once already in the race. It was time to hit it. I had set a goal for myself pre-race that I wanted to try to break 4 hours in the run. I knew it would be close because my half marathon split was a little over 2 hours. But I knew that I had pushed pretty hard the second half, and was kicking to the end.
As I approached the finish chute I took a look at my watch and noticed that I was clearly going to be under 12 hours, far exceeding my goal of being sub 12:30. The emotions of finishing started to hit me. I can get a little emotional during the race – finishing the swim, and the start of the run both got me a little choked up. But coming in to this finish line was amazing! It was supercharged with excitement, and I was flying high on adrenaline. As I came down Fourth Street Live! to the finish it was almost a blur. I couldn’t hear any music, or even the announcer introducing me and saying the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” Just as I was crossing I almost got tripped up on the rug and almost did a complete faceplant! But I was able to collect myself and finish the race, even if I was an emotional wreck.
The Ironman Louisville run course couldn’t have been better. Flat and fast and the volunteers were awesome. A four hour and five minute marathon after biking and swimming 114.4 miles seemed impossible to me. 4:05 is quicker than some of the stand alone marathons I have run. Even I’m impressed. Just like the slogan says, “Anything Is Possible.”
140.6 Miles > 11:46:55 > 43rd M50-54 A/G > 479th Male Overall > 600th place Overall Finisher
Equipment: A cot, a blanket, a bottle of water, Base Salt, and an Ironman Louisville Finisher’s Medal
I ended Ironman Lake Placid 2016 in pretty good shape. I was able to walk, talk, and do other stuff without much effort. This time was the complete opposite. I was a blubbering mess. I wanted to keep moving, but the finisher chute was quite short. My finish line catcher was amazing, and stayed with me while I tried to figure out what the heck was going to happen to me. At some point I saw Ben and Kari and walked over to greet them at the fence. I let it out. The catcher asked if this was “normal” – lol. I handed my hat and finisher’s shirt to Kari and tried to collect myself. But I could tell I was starting to get chilled in the low to mid 50 degree temps. I asked the catcher to walk me to the medical tent.
Once inside the medical tent I was directed to a cot, had my blood pressure taken (110/70, 80 bpm) was told to lie down and had a blanket placed over me. I was now in full shiver mode and from my prone position could see that there was IV bags hanging all around. As I laid there wondering when they were going to give me the IV, I came to the conclusion that they probably weren’t. They had provided me a water bottle, and I still had my Base Salt container, so I figured I might as well start getting my electrolytes up on my own. I started licking the salt and trying to absorb it sublingually, and kept pushing the water. I suppose I laid there for thirty minutes and finally sat up. The shivering was over, and I was feeling better. My nurse Stacy walked me to the porta-john and I knew at that point I was doing much better.
I was allowed to keep the blanket and was very thankful for that as it was 50 degrees out and the wind of the day had not subsided at all. As I walked out, I took a look over at the recovery tent where there was more food and drink, but I could see that Ben and Kari were waiting for me on the other side of the fence. The area where the Morning Clothes bags were being held was nearby and I went over and retrieved mine. I met my wife and son and said lets go back to the hotel.
After a shower and a change of clothes, we walked back to the finish area and had dinner at TGIFriday’s. I needed some salty carbs and protein, so I ordered some soup, a steak and fries. I ate what I could and was feeling much better.
Since this race didn’t have a hard finish at midnight, and the fact that it was cold and my left leg was getting super sore, we decided to pack it in and not watch some of the final finishers. I kind of regret not sticking around for what is usually the highlight of the day, but I had no more to give to the day, and my crew was also tired of chasing me around. It was time for bed.
I was anxious to get up and get breakfast so we could get over to the Ironman store in the Athlete Village. I wanted to get that finisher’s jacket that Ironmen seem to covet for some reason. Kari and I flagged down weirdo number 3, a cabbie who was done with his shift for the night, but decided he could drive us to the Great Lawn where the Athlete Village was located. He was a little strange with his conversations about once owning a yachting jacket like the America’s Cup guys use, but at least he could give us a lift.
I expected that there would be a line and wasn’t let down. It was pretty long, and since we had gotten there late I figured all of the jackets were probably sold out by now. But we decided to stick it out, and since the awards ceremony was about to begin, we had something to occupy our time while we stood in line.
Once inside the store, I found my jacket in my size and we bought a couple of t-shirts for the girls and made a beeline out of there. It was time to check out of the hotel and hit the road for home.
POST RACE ANALYSIS
Ironman Louisville was awesome. It produced another personal best for me and a time that I am really proud of. I’m amazed that I went from being in 992nd place overall after the swim, to 840th overall after the bike, to 434th overall after the run. I had moved up hundreds of places after that awesome run. 600th out of 2,273 finishers is also pretty awesome.
I highly recommend Ironman Louisville for anyone looking to find a fast and contact free swim, a challenging but interesting bike course, and a flat and fast run with an awesome finish line like no other.
Alex: 10:14:57 > 5th Place M18-24 A/G PODIUM FINISH > 155th Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher
Dave: 11:40:20 > 41st Place M50-54 A/G > 548th Place Overall > 3 time Ironman Finisher
Jeff: 12:14:27 > 107th Place M45-49 A/G > 802nd Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher
As usual, I have many to thank. My friends at work, who probably regret asking about my training once I start answering. Thanks Lou, Micah, Jeff, Julie, Mary, Tracy, and the others, and especially my Super Fan, Carl! I’m still not getting the tattoo, Carl.
Thanks go to the Mueller’s, who like us had to sacrifice to make sure Jeff could get his training in, especially with moving to Downtown Chicago, and having a recent high school graduate off to college in late August. Jill, Emma and Charlie, thanks for coming to the race and supporting us and chasing us around.
Without Carla securing our hotel needs for every race we do, and doing such a great job at it, we would probably be staying in a dive hotel an hour outside of town. Instead we had wonderful suites in downtown Louisville, right next to the finish line. Carla, you are the best. And to the other DeForest’s, Max and Zach, and Lizzy and Alex’s girlfriend Kennedy, thanks for cheering as loud as you did. Seeing you guys was great.
To my son Ben, it was a great relief having you there. Thanks for chasing me around the course, running with me before the race, and going and retrieving my pile of money (bike) and gear bags, and putting up with such a long day of Gunner racing. I really appreciate it.
And lastly, a huge thanks to my endurance partner in life, my wife Kari. Thanks for keeping me on task during training, allowing me to go do those crazy long rides all the while we were loading our lives with a new home, a recent college graduate, a second year college student, and a busy high schooler in a competitive marching band who was also learning to drive. Thanks for being there for me as always. I love you.
Thanks for reading! On to my next adventure – my first Boston Marathon in 2018!
Race Week is finally here!!! Thirty weeks of training can be really slow moving at times, but it seems that the final week before the race will just fly by. And looking back on 30 weeks of training is a journey in itself.
Race day is almost here, the weather is looking to be decent enough, and the excitement is building. I can’t wait to join my teammates for another great event – Ironman Louisville 2017!
I will recap the last few days of this week in my race recap after the race next week sometime, but here is a summary of the 30 weeks of training that chronicles my journey to Louisville.