I ended this week with the typical Sunday run and was not in a good place mentally. I woke up on this fine St. Patrick’s Day to find about an inch of freshly fallen snow and I immediately slumped my shoulders and trudged downstairs. Will this winter never end? Come on, already! I also had strained my upper left leg groin muscle on Friday’s easy run. I can’t even go easy and not injure something anymore. It seems my attitude lately has been pretty low.
My fellow Gunner teammates are feeling somewhat off as well. In our group text chats this week we complained about the change to Daylight Savings Time and how that has screwed us up; our necks (Alex) and butts (me) hurting on the bike training; Alex declaring “I HATE THIS SPORT” after a windy, cold, and wet ride that was mentally draining for him; and to wondering why this sport costs so much.
By the time I got around to doing the run, the sun had pretty much melted what snow had fallen, leaving the paved trail void of any slippery spots. As I made it around the block I questioned if I had dressed warmly enough and continued on into the nature preserve where it wasn’t long until I encountered two dogs being walked off-leash and in the preserve where they weren’t allowed. They didn’t bother me physically, but mentally I wondered why can’t people follow the rules. As I began climbing the hills on this run I paid close attention to that strained groin and hoped that I would not strain it more. I backed off when I felt like it might be getting bothered and promised myself to take it easy today. Heading back home in the last mile of the 6 total miles I ran I almost got hit by a lady who must believe that stop signs are optional, and that yielding the right of way to a pedestrian who was actually crossing the street at the time was not in her ability. When she finally looked left and saw me she gave me the most puzzled look, like what the f*ck was I doing there in the street. The look changed from surprise to screw you, buddy, when she realized that I wasn’t happy with her ability to follow the Rules of the Road and not kill people. It wasn’t more than 1/4 mile later when I made it to the big intersection and pressed the WALK button and waited my turn. That’s when the next driver decided stop lights were optional when turning right on red and didn’t bother waiting for me.
As a runner, you learn to run defensively and anticipate those kinds of things, but when you deal with them nearly every run it starts to wear on you. When I got home I realized this week should have been a fun and easy one. Week 2 out of 30 should be fun, but it seemed it had other ideas for me and my training partners. But when I pushed the code to open the garage door I realized that I had made it home safely, I had gotten my run in even though I had strained my muscle, and I had completed the bikes and runs for the week, preparing the foundation of another Ironman attempt. The sun was out, the snow was gone, and in reality, things are looking pretty good. I have to remember that a positive attitude can go a long way in making 30 weeks of training be pleasurable. That is on me.
I took my bike in for a tune-up to make sure that it’s ready for riding when the weather gets better. I’m glad I did. Turns out the bottom bracket needed work, and one of my derailleur pulleys was cracked, so both got replaced.
It looks like the bike is in good running shape again and ready for the season. I can’t wait to get off the stationary bike and head outside.
Week 2 Training Totals:
Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 50 miles > Runs: 4 total / 17 miles
A couple of months ago, Dave’s awesome wife and our usual Ironman travel coordinator Carla texted us Ironman friends and informed us that she had secured hotels for our next Ironman. Say that again? You did what?! When did we decide we are doing an Ironman?! Usually, when I get that nauseated feeling of signing up for an Ironman it is self-inflicted. This time Carla was causing it! After some not-so-deep introspection as to whether I wanted to add this to my racing calendar (I already had a spring and fall marathon and some shorter tri’s on it) most of our group decided to rev up our Gunner mobiles and give it another go. Honestly, training was not going well for my spring marathon Boston qualifying attempt, and this was a good enough reason to get out of that. As for that Chicago Marathon that is two weeks after this Ironman race, I will see how I feel. I may defer the race until the following year if I remember to do it in time, or I might just take it easy for two weeks post-Ironman and run Chicago as a victory lap. I was planning on it being my last one for a while anyway. So with that reasoning, I decided that I was in.
Training has now started for my fourth Ironman and again I am joined by my Gunner teammates, or some of them anyway. It appears that Alex and I are the only ones officially signed up, and my life long buddy Dave (Alex’s dad) was the one who initiated the idea about doing the race so I am sure he’s probably signed up. Jeff says he’s only in if John is in, but Jeff has started training for it too. John skipped Louisville and has his hands full with a very young family, so I’m guessing he may miss this one as well, but I never count him out. I’m trying to pitch the easy training plan to him, which requires less training time. There’s also talk of Jeff’s sister Jan joining us, and Dave is heavily recruiting his brother-in-law Scott to join in the fun. That’s awesome, the more the merrier. Also, there is a group of first-timers from the local running club that are also training for the race as well. I’m looking forward to seeing Susan and John B. training and completing their first Ironman, and I hope we can find some time to do some training rides together. So there are quite a few joining in the fun this time around.
Our adventure is taking us to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, to Ironman Chattanooga, also known by triathletes as “Choo” as in The Chattanooga Choo-choo, and sometimes “Chatty,” and has a reputation for having a fast downstream swim, a mostly gentle rolling hill bike ride through northern Georgia and back to Chattanooga, and a run with a few killer hills. The most notable item about Choo is that the bike ride is 116 miles, four more miles than all of the other Ironman races, making this Ironman 144.6 total miles. The veterans will say that you don’t really notice the extra four miles of cycling and that the fast swim evens out the time. All Ironman races have unique things about them, but none of the others have an extra four miles. I’m looking forward to adding this race to my finisher resume.
Here’s a look at the bike and run elevation comparisons from the three races I have done (in order of completion) and Choo:
The data was taken from the Ironman website, but there are lots of triathletes that say that Ironman’s reported elevations are not very accurate. I seriously doubt that Moo has less elevation than Lou. Regardless, the chart is pretty consistent with how I remember them. Choo looks like an easy run compared to Moo and Lake Placid.
TRAINING PLAN FOR CHATTANOOGA
I’m changing up my training plan this time around. I will once again be using Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit for training, but after following the Competitive plan in the book for my previous three races I am giving serious consideration to following the Just Finish plan with some alterations. The main reason is that I am pretty sore all the time, and I just want to ease into the training this time around without killing myself. The Intermediate plan seems to me does not differ much from the Competitive plan to make it worth dropping down to. Getting the Saturday and Sunday long bikes and long runs in are what really matter, and the Just Finish plan starts off with much less time training but gradually catches up to the Competitive plan. The big difference is that the Just Finish maxes out at two 5-hour rides, whereas the Competitive plan has two 5-hour rides, a 5:30 ride, a 5:45 ride and finishes with a 6-hour ride. Not sure if I can handle that stuff this time around. We’ll see how the training goes and I may increase my weekend rides and runs to follow the Competitive plan. If the group decides to do a group ride and they are following the harder plan, then I will definitely go along with that.
As I eased into Week 1 training, I found that the Just Finish plan was less work than I had been averaging in my off-season training, so I decided to start with the Competitive plan and keep my daily efforts to about an hour of daily exercise until I’m happy using the Competitive plan, or when the Just Finish plan catches up to me.
As for swimming, I gained a lot of confidence from the training I did in 2017 for Ironman Louisville. Lou has a similar river swim as Chattanooga and I set a swim personal best there with a 1:09 swim. Lou has a short upstream swim portion which Choo lacks. At Choo, it’s all downstream, and I hear that even though the water temps may prevent wetsuit usage, many still set swim personal bests. For Lou, I basically waited until May when I opened my own swimming pool and just did two 45 minute swims a week, with the occasional hour-long swim or open water swim thrown in to keep me honest and make sure that I had the confidence I needed to swim 2.4 miles. Swimming for 45 minutes is really no big deal, and to swim an additional 45 minutes I always thought would be no big deal as well.
So here we go again! And I’m very excited about training for Ironman Chattanooga! GO GUNNERS!
Week 1 Training Totals:
Swims: None > Rides: 4 total / 57 miles > Runs: 4 total / 12.25 miles
I can wrap up 2018 in a couple words: overtrained and rainy. In 2018 I turned 55 years old and it certainly feels like it. The work I did in the three prior years while maintaining a three plus year run everyday running streak turned me into a pretty good runner and triathlete until it became too much. By the beginning of 2018 I was starting to feel beat up and it only got worse. By the time I made it to the starting line of my first Boston Marathon in April I wasn’t sure I could even finish it, but I did, in the rain, the first of many 2018 events run in rainy conditions. The day after running Boston, I ended my running streak and spent the rest of 2018 trying to recover and rebuild. There was a little bit of success there, but I am still searching to recapture the ability to get the personal bests that were happening consistently in 2016.
2018 just wasn’t my year for running. I was in a groove the past five years or so, claiming at each year end that I had just had the best running year ever. But not this year. It seems like I have plateaued, hit a wall, or just plain have gotten old. I’m not sure about the excuse of being old, as I have set plenty of personal bests the last few years in both marathons and Ironman and qualifying for and running my first Boston Marathon. I think I may have just pushed a little too hard toward the end of 2017 and into 2018 that I need to reset myself. It’s hard for me because although my body reminds me daily that I’m in my mid-fifties, my brain still acts like a twenty-something. The brain is writing checks that my body cannot cash any more. I think I need to put my training on some sort of budget, but my brain has already declared that I’m doing two more marathons next year. Dumb brain. Anyway, I did try to dial it back into a rebuild this year, dropping my 3 year running streak and taking more rest days, as well as not trying to set a personal best on every damn training run (thanks a lot, Strava).
30 YEARS – WOW! One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I run is that I have been doing it for 30 years now. I started experimenting with running in my teens and college days, but I didn’t start keeping track of my miles until 1989, when I started to see myself going farther and getting faster and wanted to see how I improved over time. I just kept writing it down. Now I log it with an app, which has taken some of the fun out of it because I used to write down comments and notes about my run when I logged it by hand, but I do not do so as much now. I used to hand write this yearly wrap up as well, but I think I enjoy sharing it on this blog page more. I can add photos and leave and share memories that I can look back on easily. Some day I will get around to writing about the years and miles of running I have accumulated, but for now I will just keep on running and enjoying the miles.
2018 – RUNNING REVIEW
Here’s a monthly wrap up of my running miles and milestones.
Total Runs: 31
Average Weekly Miles: 35.5
Total Hours: 20.4
Total Miles: 142
Nothing much of note in this month. Training for the Boston Marathon had begun. I do remember it being super cold and occasional runs in the snow.
Total Runs: 28
Average Weekly Miles: 29
Total Hours: 17
Total Miles: 116
Still training for Boston in the cold.
Total Runs: 31
Average Weekly Miles: 40
Total Hours: 23.4
Total Miles: 159
The plan upped the mileage this month preparing for my date with Boston. I did my one long run on 3/23, an 18 miler. I had no intention on doing any longer runs. I was pretty sore and had no energy.
Total Runs: 23
Average Weekly Miles: 27.5
Total Hours: 16.3
Total Miles: 110
Yay! I ran my first Boston Marathon! It was quite an experience that I will never forget. I beat Galen Rupp! Okay, he dropped out and I didn’t, but technically I think that still qualifies as a win. (The link to my race reports will be at the bottom of this post.)
Immediately after finishing the Boston Marathon I kept the promise to myself that I would drop my running streak. I needed to recover from 3 plus years of running at least a mile every day. It was a good challenge, but it had worn out it’s welcome. Here’s the wrap up of the running streak: RIP Running Streak
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 25
Total Hours: 14.75
Total Miles: 100
Recovery from Boston was pretty quick and I started enjoying some milder running weather. I was kind of surprised that I hit 100 miles this month.
Total Runs: 18
Average Weekly Miles: 23
Total Hours: 13.3
Total Miles: 93
I jumped back into the 5K race season with a decent but slower than usual finish time, but still nabbed a first place age group award in the getting old division at the Frankfort Short Run on a Long Day 5K. As nice of a finish that is, I had my first ever Did Not Start to a race I had signed up for. The weather on race day morning of the Batavia Triathlon was threatening enough for me not to waste my time driving up there, thinking it would be canceled. I took a gamble and lost, as the race was delayed and shortened, but it’s a punch to the gut when you drop out when others committed to it and got it done.
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 33
Total Hours: 19.7
Total Miles: 135
The corral seeding came out for the Chicago Marathon and they put me in the E corral, which is weird because the time I used to qualify for the race should have put me in the D corral from the start. So, I applied to move up to the D corral based on that previous qualifying time and hatched a plan to move up to the C corral by trying to run a qualifier in a half marathon. So on 7/21 I toed the line in Hoffman Estates and attempted to run a sub-1:35 half marathon. I was kind of shooting for the stars, and missed it by about 4 minutes, but it was a pretty good time for a rainy half marathon in July. I was happy to be in the D corral.
I also did the Manteno Tri at the end of this month, with Kari doing the duathlon. We both did well, placing 2nd in our age groups. Fun race.
Total Runs: 20
Average Weekly Miles: 39.5
Total Hours: 23.4
Total Miles: 158
Marathon training was ramping up again. I did the Chicago Triathlon with my Gunner mates and our side kicks. That was a hot race. First time that I HAD to walk a portion of a running race as the temp was into the 90’s.
Total Runs: 19
Average Weekly Miles: 42
Total Hours: 24.2
Total Miles: 167
Highlight of this month was running the Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club’s 20 mile training run. I did surprisingly well and built a lot of confidence on a mid-September Saturday. Since it’s not a race, here’s the link to that report: The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run
Total Runs: 17
Average Weekly Miles: 25
Total Hours: 15
Total Miles: 102
I gave my best to the 2018 Chicago Marathon but it just wasn’t my year. I held on and was on pace for the first half and slowly lost it from there. The highlight of the race was running with my son Ben, who was running his first. And boy did he, finishing in 2:47. Impressive! I dialed it way back after the marathon.
Total Runs: 13
Average Weekly Miles: 21
Total Hours: 12
Total Miles: 83
I really went into recovery mode in November and I think it paid off. I find that my feet and calves were no longer killing me like they were in 2017. I did start adding some bike spinning on non-running days.
Total Runs: 15
Average Weekly Miles: 20
Total Hours: 12
Total Miles: 82
2018 RUNNING TOTALS
Total Runs: 249
Average Weekly Miles: 27.8
Total Hours: 211.5
Total Miles: 1447
LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS
Total Lifetime Runs: 4589 – 153 runs per year average
Total Lifetime Hours: 3335 – 111 hours per year average
Total Lifetime Miles: 24995 (Really?! Missed it by 5 miles!) – 833 miles per year average
This was a dial back year of sorts for triathlon. I signed up for three and only started two as I chickened out for the Batavia Tri. But the year was pretty much dedicated to doing the Boston and Chicago marathons. I was thinking that 2019 would be a bigger year for tri’s but I’ve already signed up for two more marathons! I am definitely planning on another Ironman in the next year or two. Swim and bike totals were way down from 2017.
SWIM TOTALS: Total Swims: 11 / Total Distance: 14,475 yards
I was really planning to take it easy in 2019, seeing that I didn’t re-qualify for Boston, but that just made me mad. Ben and Emily qualified for Boston 2020 and now I wasn’t content to be a spectator, which I was just fine with in October. But I thought it over and decided to give it one more shot at qualifying. I looked around and found the Spring BQ 26.2 in Batavia, IL in early April 2019. Fortunately, I met the qualifying standard to get into this race and I look forward to running it. It’s an 8 lapper on a bike path, and they treat you like an elite with a table for your own sports drink and nutrition – cool! I hope to dial it in, lock it down and run sub-3:35 for another BQ and join Ben and Emily in Boston. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll once again be glad to be a spectator in Boston.
Speaking of dialing it in, I’m going to utilize Don Fink’s Mastering the Marathon plan for us older athletes. It’s geared to the over 40 runners, which I certainly qualify. There’s more recovery and I can swap some runs in the plan for running related activities, in my case cycling. This will hopefully still prepare me to do well at the marathon as well as allow me to gear up for the triathlon season.
Regardless of how I do in the spring marathon, I plan on taking it easy for Chicago. The only way I push hard is if my buddy Jeff wants to run it together, but I don’t think I can keep up with him. I’m thinking I might put that race away for a while even though I have legacy status to maintain. Running it every other year would maintain my legacy status. I might focus on 70.3’s and Ironman for a while instead.
Of course I still plan on running my favorite local 5K’s and the triathlons I like to do. I’m already signed up for the Batavia Tri and will definitely sign up for Manteno again. It’s a fun race.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Time to wrap it up:
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.