2018 Chicago Triathlon Race Report

When:  08/26/2018, 7:32am

Where:  Chicago, Illinois

Distance:  Olympic/International:  1500 meters (0.93 mile) Swim, 40 Kilometers (24.8 mile) Bike, 10 Kilometer (6.2 mile) Run

Results:  2:53:43 – 756/2238 overall, 24/36 M55-59 Age Group, 171/483 Males Over 40

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The Chicago Triathlon is always fun to do, even more so when your Team Gunner friends join in on the fun!  WE LOVE THIS SPORT!!!  Especially Gunner Alex!  He loves it more than anyone!

I thought I’d let the pictures tell the story this time – so buckle up!  Here we go!

Team Gunners started trickling in and I started taking selfies.  The expo was where we all met and sat through the mandatory course talk in order to pick up our race packets.

I was kind of disappointed in the expo.  I usually buy an event tri kit to wear in the race but they were almost completely sold out, save for a few size small tri tops.  What guy wears a size small tri top?  Nobody, that’s who.

After a quick discussion upon leaving the expo, we decided that we would take advantage of pre-racking our bikes in transition the day before the race.  Here’s a few shots of what the transition area looks like.  The photos don’t show the 7,000 plus bikes.

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It’s a good idea to make a mental note where your bike is located.  It’s behind that tree about 50 yards.

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One final group selfie after everyone had there Gunner-mobiles racked and toured Bike Out.

For dinner we went to Jeff and Jill’s house on Michigan Ave. and were treated to a wonderful spaghetti dinner.  It was great, as was the conversation.  Their view of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan is amazing.

 

RACE DAY – SUNDAY MORNING – 4 AM and the alarm goes off.  I had written down that Dave said we should meet at the elevators of our floor at 4:40 am, but for some reason my mind registered to meet at 4:20 am.  So there I was, 20 minutes early wondering where everyone was.  Triathlon makes you dumb.  The crew finally arrived and off we began our trek from the Chicago Hilton to transition again to set up the rest of our race gear.  This is a long walk, and we were regretting not having our bikes to ride there.  But honestly, the racks were so packed with bikes that I doubt I would have found room to rack the thing.

Upon leaving I saw three of Rebecca’s music teachers who were racing the Olympic distance as a relay team.  I chatted them up and they seemed pretty excited.

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Alex was first up.  His wave started at 6:16 am.  Lucky him.  Did I mention that he loves this sport?  He was racing in the Collegiate division with his buddy Brandon.

 

 

More pictures of Alex in the water.  Nice sunrise photo, too!  Thanks Kari!

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The remaining Gunner boys met up one final time before our individual wave starts.

 

It was Jeff’s turn to go next.  He really loves this sport too.  He’s on Week 28 of 30 training for Ironman Wisconsin.  Fun times.

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Down to 3 Gunners!  One last selfie before Dave and John abandon me.
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It’s 7:08 am and now it’s Dave and John’s turn to jump in to Lake Michigan.

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This cutie was next.  This year Elizabeth and her friend Claire were in different waves.  So Lizzy and Claire had to go it alone.  I’m not sure if they love this sport too.

 

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Somehow we missed taking pictures of Claire getting in the water, but I found this awesome photo on the race website.  Go Claire!!!  I’m guessing that she doesn’t enjoy this sport as much as we do.

 

 

 

 

 

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My turn has finally come.  What was I thinking about you ask?  I was looking at these 55-59 year old men and thinking about how we all grew up listening to the same music, wearing the same types of clothes and doing the same stupid stuff back in the 70’s and 80’s.  We’re the crew that somehow survived that period in one piece.  Deep stuff man.  Actually, I was fretting about how hot I was, that I had to pee, and that the run was going to suck.  I love this sport.

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Time to get into the water.  This photo is just after I punched myself in the lip trying to get my wetsuit on. I really enjoyed that.  
Triathlon=Love

 

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7:32 am – Horn blast and off we go!  I’m on the left side in the back.  See me?  I was just giving the others a head start, you know, to make it fair.
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THAR SHE BLOWS, MATEY!!!

SWIM:  1500 Meters – 32:03 – It was a pretty good swim for me, seeing that I had done practically NO swimming the entire summer.  I was worried that the water would be warm – a week prior the water temp was 80 degrees. But thanks to some strong wave activity this past week, race day water temp was 70 degrees.  I was surprised when I jumped in at how cold it felt.  The water was perfect, very calm.  I stayed wide of the fray and avoided contact.  It was a pleasant swim.

T1:  5:40 – The distance from Swim Out to T1 seems like 1/2 mile.  It’s a long way to go.  I got my wetsuit off quickly, grabbed my bike and headed for Bike Out.

BIKE:  24.8 Miles – 1:13:49 – The bike course takes you north on Lake Shore Drive and although it can have some rollers, it’s pretty flat and fast.  I’ve done about as much bike training as I have swim training, but I was moving along pretty well at an average of about 20.5 mph.  Seeing that I was in Wave 24, I knew that there would be plenty of slower riders I had to pass around.  I passed Elizabeth and then passed one of the Becca’s band teachers.  I probably passed Claire too, but I didn’t see her.  After coming back down LSD, you head into Lower Wacker Drive, and then the fun starts.  I felt like I was riding a motorcycle.  You loose GPS signal on Lower Wacker, so I really don’t know how fast I was going, but I assure you that I was easily getting over 25 mph.  Love that section of the race.  It’s was a lot cooler under there as well.  The last third of the bike course is no fun.  It’s on a bus only, two lane road and gets pretty crazy down there.  I saw the aftermath of a crash with one guy still on the ground.  I just wanted to get through it without any trouble, keep my average speed up, and get to the run in one piece.

T2:  3:27 – I’m kind of surprised that this isn’t longer, as helped a guy find his bike that he couldn’t locate, and I took time to shove an empty Gatorade bottle down my pants and pee into it as I walked from my bike to Run Out.  Gotta love triathlon.

RUN:  10K/6.2 Miles – 58:46 – The run was a literal “hot mess” as the kids say.  The race results listed the temperature at 93 degrees.  It felt hotter.  I started picking off other runners right away and got into a good pace.  My split for the first mile was 7:42 and I knew I was not going to be able to hold it.  By mile 3, I was walking the aid stations and just shuffling along.  I felt like I had enough nutrition, I had taken 3 salt capsules leading up to this point, and I seemed like I was hydrated enough, judging from the color of my pee in that Gatorade bottle in T2.  (I know, too much info.)  My real concern was heat stroke.  I could feel myself getting really hot.  Fortunately, the aid stations had plenty of water and I kept putting it in me and on me.  One table around the 4 mile mark had ice and I stuck some in my jersey pockets.  By the time I passed by the 5K sprint turn around, they were sending all athletes back.  The Event Alert System had gone to RED.  Miles 4 and 5 were my slowest, notching a run/walk average pace of 10:35 and 11:03 respectively.  But I think it was smart race management on my part.  At least I didn’t end up like this girl:

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Kari snapped this picture of another racer trying to prevent this girl from face-planting.  She got medical assistance.  The guy ended up in Dave and John’s race finish video.  Kuddos to that guy.

I told myself that I would pick up the pace for the last mile and ended with a 9:27 pace for that mile.  I’ll take it.  It was brutal.  Probably the hottest running race I have ever done.  I can’t remember a hotter one.

 

 

 

My race finish video.  I’m on the far right.  If you watch it, turn the volume down.  You’ve been warned.

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Coming down the stretch to the finish.
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Glad to be done and still upright on this extremely warm day.

Time to wrap it up:

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Here’s Alex thoroughly enjoying his run.  If you look at his leg you can see where he donated some skin to the pavement on Lower Wacker.  I got to hand it to him – in spite of the signs saying to slow down for the turn, he went FULL GUNNER into it and wiped out.  HE LOVES THIS SPORT!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s brothers John and Dave finishing together.  They finished the race with the exact same time.  John is tipping his hat in a show of respect to the sport he loves so much.  Dave is like me, I always zip up nearing the finish line as well.  That’s a pro move, baby!
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I got my medal and my popsicle.  I have to say, getting a popsicle  was the highlight of the race.  Just another reason to love this sport.
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Many thanks to this lovely lady for being there for me and my Gunner teammates today.  And thanks for walking the extra couple of miles to transition and back to get all my junk.  That may have been the hardest part of the day.  I really was contemplating quitting triathlons and running at this point.  LOL

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Until the next race, Cheers to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Manteno Sprint Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/28/2018, 8:00am

Where:  Manteno, Illinois

Distance:  Sprint:  400 yard Swim, 11 mile Bike, 3.1 mile Run

Results:  1:05:03 – 23rd overall, 2nd place M55-59

I thoroughly enjoyed this race when I did it for the first time last year, so there was no hesitation about signing up again this year.  Kari joined me for the race this year again too, doing the duathlon.  We got up around 5am and headed to the race.

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Looking fairly happy pre-race.

As soon as we walked our bikes into transition I was met by a lady who recognized me and said she had read my blog from a previous race. She follows the same local running group that I do, but I was surprised that she had read it.  I only share it on my page, so I’m guessing someone else must have shared it.  Anyway, I kind of felt like a celebrity after that!

We ran into many familiar faces and we shared race day strategies and advised each other on who to look out for!  Seems like a very close knit group.  Even my wife remembered some of the duathlon competitors.

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With transition all set up, it was time to race.

SWIM:  400 Yards, 9:31, 3rd in A/G, 68th Overall

The swim temp was 77 degrees, barely wetsuit legal, but I only saw one guy wearing one.  I opted to not even bring it from the car.  I had a really good swim.  Last year I was a touch faster, but I remember laboring more too.  This swim had zero contact and was issue free.  Some commented post-race that they thought the course was longer than 400 yards.  My watch showed 511 yards, but I forgot to hit my lap button as I exited the water and headed into transition.  Official T1 time was 1:14, which isn’t too bad.

BIKE: 11 Miles, 30:53, Average speed 21.4 mph, 3rd in A/G, 25th Overall

Like last year, I opted for the full aero disc on my bike and went all out from the start.  I was pushing hard through the whole 11 mile ride.  I didn’t get passed by anyone this year, and I was blowing by lots of other riders.  The wind was much lighter this year and it was also from the west, so it only affected a mile or two of the ride.  Moved up several spots after the bike.  Official T2 time was 1:27, slower than T1 because I sat down to put on socks.

RUN:  3.1 miles, 21:56, 7:04 per mile pace ave., 2nd in A/G, 20th Overall

I had not trained for triathlon much this spring in summer.  This time last year I was already 10 or 11 weeks into Ironman Louisville training.  When I got off the bike and started the run, my legs were rubber.  Very apparent to me that brick workouts make a world of difference, and I hadn’t done hardly any this year.  But all things considered, I settled into a comfortable pace and just started catching the next runner ahead of me.  I must have passed a lot of duathletes, because I only moved up 5 spots from the bike.  I started pushing a little harder at the 2 mile mark and just kept up the effort until I finished.  I was greeted by a guy named Mike, who I beat last year and he asked what had taken me so long.  Oh well, try to get him next year.

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Kari and I both got 2nd in our age groups.  Kari’s group seemed to be having more fun.

Overall, a little slower than last year, but I was not as prepared this year as last.  Very fun day.

Link to the 2018 Manteno Tri Race Results

DNS – My First “Did Not Start”

“Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damn depressed, that I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed…”    –  America – Sister Golden Hair

I should be typing a glowing race report for the race I had signed up for today, but I’m not.  I find myself typing words of regret, because for the first time in my history of doing races, I failed to start a race I had signed up for.  A big fat DNS – Did Not Start.

I had every intention of doing the race.  I was genuinely looking forward to doing it.  ET Batavia is a sprint distance triathlon held in Batavia, IL.  It’s an easy swim in a park district swimming hole, a gently rolling ride through town and outlying farms, and a tree lined run on the Fox River Valley Trail.  I really enjoy the course and after racing it four or five times now, I was pretty familiar with it.

I set the alarm for 3:50 am and when it went off I got up with the full intention of getting ready and heading to Batavia.  I could hear that it was raining outside, so I pulled up my weather app and saw this:

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Lovely.  Just like the Boston Marathon in April.

 

I dressed, ate and asked a now awake Kari if she still wanted to join me for a morning standing in the rain.  Surprisingly she said “yes,” and we hopped in the car to head to the race.

I switched on the local AM radio for the weather and they were saying it was bad, and I new it wasn’t an exaggeration because it was raining hard on us.  I got about 5 miles from home when I said “What am I doing?”  I turned around and told Kari I’m pulling the plug on this one.

All things considered, as a triathlete I shouldn’t really worry about rain.  You get wet in the swim for Pete’s sake.  And I have raced two times now in heavy rain.  I joked at Leon’s Triathlon the year we did it that it was interesting how the swim portion of the race was the driest part.  It poured on us.  And the 2018 Boston Marathon was not only rainy, but throw in cold and windy as well – the whole 26.2 miles.  I wasn’t afraid of pulling out of the race because of the weather really, it just seemed ridiculous that I was about to drive 45-50 minutes to stand in the rain only to be told what my gut instinct was telling me – the race would be cancelled.

I got home and unpacked and checked Facebook for updates and there it was:  “Race start at 7:40!!”  REALLY?!?!  Now I had regret.  Knowing that I decided to pull out when others stayed with it just kills me.

Kari went back to bed.  I ate another breakfast and read the newspaper until I fell asleep.  Then I moped around the house until the skies stopped raining and I went for an 8 mile run.  I ran hard, punishing myself for skipping a race I shouldn’t have.  Oh well, I will be back next year – weather permitting.

 

 

 

2017 Running & Triathlon Year in Review

29th RUNNING YEAR 

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.

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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.

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

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.

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

 

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.

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2017 TRIATHLON RELATED STATS

  • 119,174 TOTAL YARDS SWIMMING (67.7 MILES)
  • 3308 TOTAL MILES BIKING
  • 1682 TOTAL MILES RUNNING

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.

GOALS FOR 2018

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!

Ironman Louisville 2017 Race Recap

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017

October 14, 2017

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!)

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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 links to my thirty weeks of training can be found here:  Race Week is Here!

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.  

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Walking to the Athlete Village

 

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.  

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Watching the non-Mike Reilly voice of Ironman Louisville, Dave Ragsdale.  He did a great job.  Apparently Alex was too cool to wear his backpack like the rest of his Gunner teammates.

 

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.  

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Their mouths were literally big enough to swallow a softball.  I’m not kidding.

 

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.

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Four Gunners enjoying the welcome ceremony.

 

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.  

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After debating about what to wear last week, I decided that I would stay true to the Gunner team and wear the team tri kit.  I brought the water shoes so that I could walk without stepping in triathlete piss that covered the path to the Swim Start.  I’m glad I did.
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Nothing special here.  I opted for the white arm warmers made from tube socks over the black long sleeve cycling shirt.
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The weather looked to be cool and possibly rainy, so I threw in this windbreaker that I bought at Dick’s on Friday.  Once again, I’m glad I did because I grabbed it and used it later on the run.
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I added a short and long sleeve team shirt in case I wanted to change, but I ended up staying in the kit.  I drank some of the Gatorade, and to my surprise had only enough of the baby powder to put in one shoe.  I opted for the visor over the hat.  I need to make this simpler.  There’s too many choices.
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Stopping traffic to take a group photo.  Jeff, Alex, me and Dave (l-r).

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.  

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Looking mostly awake, but slightly terrified.

 

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.  

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.

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Jeff and I acknowledging our superfans.
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I hesitated before jumping in because I didn’t want to cannonball the girl in front of me.  Looks like Jeff beat me into the water!  I’m already in fourth place!  Geronimo!

 

THE SWIM

2.4 Miles > 1:09:18 > 78th in M50-54 A/G > 716th Male > 957th Overall

Equipment:  Blue Seventy Reaction wetsuit > Speedo Rx smoke goggles > Hearos swim earplugs > EPIX Custom Triathlon Kit (all day) > Garmin Forerunner 910XT (all day)

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.  

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My Garmin swim map.  I’m amazed at how “straight” I swam.  Most of the jagged parts were due to me avoiding groups of other swimmers.

 

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.  

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SWIM > BIKE TRANSITION – T1

11:14

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.  

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On my way to T1.
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Found my pile of money (bike) and headed to Bike Out.

 

THE BIKE

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.  

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Flat and fast along the banks of the Ohio River on River Road leaving Louisville.

 

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.  

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Heading through LaGrange for the first time and being greeted by the gang.  I was feeling pretty good here.

 

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.  

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Finishing up the final mile or so of the ride.

 

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.

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BIKE > RUN TRANSITION – T2

9:03

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.

 

THE RUN

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!”  

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Already tired of running and I haven’t even left T2 yet.

 

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.

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Alex was gunning for the finish, and I was hamming it up on the first loop.

 

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.  

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Another picture of me running, just because I kind of like this one.

 

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.

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I was dueling it out with this girl for the last mile.  She “chicked” me in the chute.  Maxwell was the first to see me approaching and was yelling for me to get 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.”  

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THE FINISH

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.

 

MONDAY

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.  

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The line to get into the Ironman Store tent.  During the days leading up to the race they didn’t seem to give a damn about how many people were in the store.  But post-race, they would only let about 10 people in at a time.  Dumb.

 

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.  

 

THE GUNNERS

Alex:  10:14:57 > 5th Place M18-24 A/G  PODIUM FINISH > 155th Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher

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The kid is a natural.  Look at that smile – HE LOVES THIS SPORT!!!

 

Dave:  11:40:20 > 41st Place M50-54 A/G > 548th Place Overall > 3 time Ironman Finisher

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The All-Time Undisputed King of Ironman.

 

Jeff:  12:14:27 > 107th Place M45-49 A/G > 802nd Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher

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A legend at overcoming bad luck.  I’m pretty sure he PR’d all three disciplines at Ironman Louisville.

 

THANKS

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.

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Beauty and the Beast, (r to l).

 

Thanks for reading!  On to my next adventure – my first Boston Marathon in 2018!  

 

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P.S. – I was searching the lost and found photos and was surprised to see a picture of weirdo #2 walking on the bike course.  Tulio and Dave Navarro, am I right?

 

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Ironman Louisville 2017 – DAY DONE!

Do I Really Want to Call Myself That Anymore?

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 29 – October 2 > October 8

I typically write my weekly Ironman training wrap-up on Sunday, when all of my workouts have been completed, and share something worthwhile during the week that I find interesting in my journey toward my goal of doing a third Ironman race. Usually the long bike on Saturday or the long run on Sunday will give me something to reflect upon.  But I find myself typing this on a Wednesday instead, a couple of days after another mass murder in the world involving gunfire, this time in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I have become somewhat numb to these shootings, and I believe most of the world has as well.  They seem to have become routine or expected.  I guess most people think that it won’t happen where they live.  I also believe that I live in a pretty safe place in the world, the south suburbs of Chicago, a place where if you go a couple miles north you are certainly in the urban life, and if you travel a couple miles south you are definitely looking at cornfields.  But I’m not fooling myself with that.  At this writing, 58 people lost their lives in Las Vegas.  The City of Chicago loses that many people in a month to gunfire.  September 2017 alone registered 60 people murdered in Chicago(1).  Chicago has a Las Vegas every damn month.  Let that sink in.

I’m not anti-gun.  I’m for protecting 2nd Amendment rights.  But I’m also thinking we need much stricter gun ownership rules.  I don’t even know what that entails, really.  I just don’t want people to lose their minds and have access to guns and wipe out scores of people because they woke up on the wrong side of the world that day.  With all the killings going on in Chicago, I have recently thought about purchasing a small handgun for protection and taking the two day concealed carry licensing course.  But I haven’t done that, and may or may not.  I don’t like to think about having to have to do that.  I don’t want to have to get to the point where if I leave the house I have to carry a gun.  I don’t want my pre-ride checklist to include water bottles, gels, a helmet, some spare tubes and a handgun.

My father grew up in Nebraska and was a farm boy, so I’m pretty sure that hunting was a common practice for him.  I don’t remember my dad having guns around the house, maybe an old .22 caliber rifle that must have been in his family.  Our house was on four wooded acres and my older brother Jon had shotguns and would walk the woods and the adjoining cornfields to shoot at pheasants and rabbits, and occasionally I would tag along.  He gave me a gun to carry that I’m guessing he thought was perfect for me.  It was an over/under type long gun, with a .22 caliber rifle on top and a .410 gauge shotgun on the bottom.  I don’t remember ever shooting the dumb thing, but I do recall that it was heavy.

My friends were very avid hunters, and good at it too.  I’m not anti-hunting at all, but I guess my path as a kid was more about playing wiffle ball, riding my mini-bike, and listening to rock and roll than it was about killing rabbits in the back yard.  One year Jon must have thought that I was big enough now to carry a .20 gauge, and we traipsed once again through the woods.  He saw some ducks swimming in the creek that ran through the property and he yelled “SHOOT THE FUCKING DUCKS!”  I pulled the trigger and killed a duck.  When we pulled it out of the creek we saw that this duck must have lived the high life, because he was huge.  Most likely a duck that was fed pretty well by the neighbor to the north.  I most likely had killed someone’s pet wild duck.

We were into taxidermy at the time, so my buddies helped me stuff that damn thing.  We hung it from my ceiling like he was flying, which in all likelihood he was too damn fat to do, and likely the reason he was in essence a sitting duck to a kid who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn from 10 feet away.  That hanging duck in my bedroom kind of became my albatross around my neck, just like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  I looked at it everyday and eventually came to the conclusion that hunting may not be my thing.

After marriage and becoming a father, I just didn’t want any guns around the house.  I have a valid Firearms Owners Identification card, but have never owned a gun.  I work in non-sworn position in law enforcement and just maintain it in case I find myself possessing a gun for some reason.   I’m a rule follower.

So how does the terrible event in Las Vegas have anything to do with training for another Ironman?  Well, my group of buddies and I call our team “The Gunners”. 

When we decided to do our second Ironman in 2016 in Lake Placid, New York, I thought that since there were five of us doing the race, we should have a cool team name, along with matching tri kits.  But there wasn’t any theme or idea that really resonated with us until my buddy John suggested Gunners.  That suggestion was made because the youngest of our group, Alex, had a habit of going full throttle in races, gunning for the win as they say.  I had heard the term used in sports many times, especially in auto racing.  “HE’S REALLY GUNNING FOR THE LEAD!” and stuff like that.  And to be honest, I think the rest of our group was highly competitive as well.  We all gun for the win.  The name was bad ass.  Not only did we want to be bad ass, we wanted to be GUNNERS!

I had trouble coming up with a logo, and thought about using a cannon in the design, kind of like Arsenal FC, a soccer club in London, who also went by the Gunner moniker.  But I thought, maybe it should just be about the what we wanted the word to reflect, that we were highly competitive, gunning for the podium.  In the end, I asked the company that we used to make our team kits if they could assist with a team logo for us, and they came up with the word Gunners in a fast looking script, with three stars above the name.  They also suggested a logo having a handgun sticking out of the end of the “S”, but it looked really stupid, and it wasn’t what we were trying to express.  So the Gunners logo with the three stars was our choice.

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As we rapidly approach Ironman Louisville on October 15, we typically also make some t-shirts for ourselves and our family and crew of supporters that come along.  My wife and I designed some cool looking shirts with the Gunner logo and the IM Louisville fleur-de-lis design similar to what they use, and ordered a few hundred dollars worth of shirts.  A couple days later a crazed gunman went full gunner in his own way and mowed down 58 people and wounding scores more.  What an asshole.  He died too.  He just got the order of who to shoot first wrong.

So now the question for me is, do I really want to plaster the word “Gunners” on my chest, and parade through 140.6 miles of Louisville, Kentucky?  Not really.  But yes, dammit, I do.  Can I expect that people will understand the context of the word that we want it to portray, or will they look at it and say WTF?  Is being a Gunner still bad ass, or just make me look like an ass?  I’m not sure I have the answer to those questions.  I feel like this guy stole something from me.  But really, can I be upset about that when all those people in Las Vegas had their lives stolen from them?  The answer to that is no.

I have a week and a few days to decide as to whether I’m going to represent the team name at Ironman Louisville.  I probably will.  I’m just bummed about the killings.  But I know that I am a Gunner, and my teammates are Gunners, and we will all be gunning it on October 15, whether we are wearing it on our chest or not.

 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 5500 yards this week / 110250 yards total

4 Bikes – 82.5 miles this week / 10571 miles total

7 Runs – 25.5 miles this week / 980 miles

(1) -DNA Info – Chicago Murders https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2017-chicago-murders/timeline?mon=9

 

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GUNNERS ARE READY!  ONE WEEK BABY!