Halfway Done, But Not Quite

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 15 – June 26 > July 2

Week 15 is OVER!  And we are officially halfway through the 30 week training plan for Ironman Louisville 2017!

Although you can divide the calendar in half, it really isn’t halfway done in my mind. The first half of training contained the base and build phases of training, weeks of training that weren’t as intensive as what is ahead of me. For instance, the longest ride of the previous 15 weeks was Saturday’s four hour ride.  The four and a half, five, five and a half, and six hour rides are yet to come. If you are dividing up the hours or miles of the training, you would probably see the halfway point being somewhere near Week 18, maybe? I dunno, I overthink this stuff too much. Anyway, there is much more training ahead in the next 15 weeks than there was in the previous 15 weeks. But it is comforting to know that we have hit the halfway point, even if there’s tons of work yet to come.

Training this week went well. I did everything but the Friday swim. I’m hoping to do more swimming while we are on vacation at our lake home this next week. I think I will benefit from more open water swimming than pool swimming anyway. I need to dial in pace while in the open water. I always seem to go too hard right at the start. Thankfully in my two previous Ironman swims I was was able to recognize that and dial it back until I found my groove.

My running is going okay. I find my pace to be a little slow, but it doesn’t concern me. I’m trying not to further damage the left hamstring, which is still pretty sore. Probably as a result of the two 5K races and the sprint triathlon in which I gunned it hard. I can’t turn that off. Time to start stretching more, something I have been neglecting lately.

The bike is also going pretty good. I’m easily holding a 16-18 mph average on my rides, depending on the effort the plan calls for. Shorter rides I tend to hammer more. Saturday’s four hour ride got me about a half mile shy of 70 miles, but I rode a few extra minutes to put me over the 70 mile mark. I ended up with a 17.3 mph average for that ride. I got a little dehydrated after, so I will need to focus on that as well. I had two full bottles of Gatorade and my fuelselage filled with water. I also stopped with a half hour to go and refilled a water bottle.  Still wasn’t enough.

All in all, a good ending to the first 15 weeks.

 

IMG_6473
The corn and bean fields of bankrupt Illinois.

 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 43900 yards total

4 Bikes – 110 miles this week / 9143 miles total

7 Runs – 34 miles this week / 429 miles total

 

Gunners-2-1
Weeks 1 through 15 are in the books!

A Week of Jumbled Training

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 14 – June 19 > June 25

I had a pretty good week of training this week.  I switched things up this week due to having to travel to Minocqua to put the boat in the water so that our new boat lift could be delivered and be able to lift the boat out of the water.  Yes, you read that right.  I put the boat in the water so that it could be lifted out of the water.

IMG_6447
Me and the lad trying not to freeze to death driving the boat from the launch to the house.

Training for the week was jumbled quite a bit.  I did Thursday’s swim on Monday, and followed that up with Tuesday’s regularly scheduled swim.  Wednesday’s 30 minute run was shortened to just under 21 minutes, thanks to a local 5K I like to do in Frankfort.  You can read the report here:  Short Run on a Long Day 2017 Race Recap

On Thursday I decided to do Saturday’s long bike ride.  I got in 55 miles and followed it up with a brick run.  Note to self:  There are more cars on my out-of-town route during the week than there are on the weekends.

On Friday I came home from work and did my 7.5 mile run.  After that Kari and I hit the road for Minocqua.  I was pretty sore from the 5K and the long bike ride, so the 5.5 hour car ride was not something I was looking forward to.

When we got to Minocqua I realized the locals were having their annual Lake Minocqua open swim event.  I knew that they had this in the past, but I had forgot about it.  But to my dismay, the race started at 8 am, which was the same time our boat lift was being delivered.  So, I would have to do my own OWS on Sunday like I had planned.

IMG_6451
Believe or not, there’s a boat under there.

On Saturday after getting the boat lift delivered and successfully lifting the boat out of the water, I did the Thursday hour long bike ride that I had switched with Saturday.  I had planned to ride to the Bearskin Trail, but as I was going there I realized I didn’t have any money for the dumb trail pass that you have to buy.  So I did a U-turn and rode east toward St. Germain and found a paved trail by Clear Lake, about a 10 minutes from home.  I had never been on the trail before, so I decided to try it out.  WOW!  A very nice paved trail that was super scenic and had lots of rollers and super cool things to explore.

We also had a great visit with an old friend Sara and her husband Chris, who have a cabin in St. Germain.  It was really great seeing Sara again and meeting Chris for the first time.

Sunday was our final day in Minocqua, so I decided to get an open water swim in.  Thankfully I had remembered to bring the wetsuit and goggles, but I neglected to bring a swim cap.  A trip to Walmart remedied that, and it helped keep my head warm in the slightly chilly water.  Kari and Ben jumped in the kayaks to accompany me so I wouldn’t get run over by a boat, and I just kind of swam along the edge of the shoreline until I couldn’t take the weeds any more.  When I got back to our dock, I looked at my watch and it said exactly 1.0 mile in 30:57.  I was pretty happy with that.  Typically in the pool without a wetsuit I am over 2 min/100 yards.  This average was 1:43 min/100y.  I’ll take it.

fullsizeoutput_f056
The water was very clear.

After the swim, I changed into some running gear and threw Kari’s bike into the car and we headed back to the new trail I had discovered.  It was awesome having a partner riding along enjoying the scenery.  Kari would ride ahead and then double back and each time had a big smile on her face.  We were both having a great time there.  A great way to end the training week.

IMG_4089
A mid-run selfie.  Beautiful day in the North Woods.

TOTALS:

3 Swims – 6000 yards this week / 41700 yards total

3 Bikes – 83 miles this week / 9033 miles total

7 Runs – 29 miles this week / 395 miles total

Gunners-2-1
Week 14 was awesome!  Almost half way to IMLou!

Short Run on a Long Day 2017 Race Recap

When:  6/21/2016, 7:00pm

Where:  Frankfort, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:45 Official, 20:42 Garmin watch – 16th overall, 3rd place M50-54

I went into the my fourth running of this race with low expectations.  I haven’t really focused on any sort of short speed work due to training for Ironman Louisville, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give a 5K a try.  And by try I mean gunning as hard as I can.  But the race ended up being somewhat educational for me.

For this race I decided to wear my heart rate strap and monitor my heart rate through the 5K to see if my max HR is anywhere near the 220 bpm minus your age.  This method is an easy way to determine your max heart rate, which you can then use to set your heart rate zones to train in.  However, many don’t trust the calculation for some reason.  I’m 53 years old, so using the 220-age formula I should have a max heart rate of 167.

So if you are going to use a 5K to see where your max heart rate is you should do a little warm up then go all out at max effort for 5K.  So I strapped on my Garmin and the heart rate monitor strap and let it rip.  Here’s what it told me:

 

fullsizeoutput_f054
Not sure why there is a 10 second difference in the moving time and the elapsed time.  That may explain the watch time vs. the official time.  Maybe I lost a little satellite connection somewhere on the run.  I did not stop for anything until the finish line.

 

And the 5K field test revealed a peak max heart rate of 169 bpm, with an average of 163 bpm.  And the times that I glanced at my watch during the race I usually saw 166 bpm staring back at me.  I guess the 220-age is accurate enough for me.

 

fullsizeoutput_f053
I was also surprised to see that the Garmin nailed the 3.1 mile distance exactly.  

 

Okay, enough of the scientific stuff.  Back to the race.  I got there much later than I usually do and parked in the neighborhood next to the park where the race starts and ends near my friend Dian’s house.  Lo and behold, Dian was actually outside!  We chatted up ourselves a little bit and she thought the race had started already.  Silly Dian.  I explained that the runners will warm up prior to the race.  She thought that was nuts.  Gave me a chuckle though.

Over at the park, the usual suspects were there:  Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club made a strong showing, Tinley Track & Trail was also present.  Mr. Mustache Runner guy was there, with his shirt tucked in as usual.  And many more familiar faces.  It wasn’t until the race was almost ready to go when Nate Troester showed up at the start line, and I knew our eventual winner was finally here.

The guy that starts the race stands right in the middle of the road, orders us not to run him over, tells us not to start until he says “GO!” then proceeds to say “Okay, let’s go” prior to saying “On your mark, get set, GO!”  Park district run races can be really strange. In the old days, races were run by runners who kind of knew what they were doing, and these park district guys don’t look like they run much.  Anyway, at GO! we all took off and tried to avoid the dumb cherry picker thing in the path of the race route that has a guy up there with a camera.  So dumb.  You never see the pictures on their website or Facebook page, but damn, they got to have a cherry picker right on the road with a camera guy taking pictures that no one will ever see.

I had picked my mark, a guy named Chris S. who is in my age group and started just in front of me.  I decided to hold his pace for as long as I could.  That didn’t last long.  I might have held on to him for about a half mile before I could tell I had maxed out my heart rate without even looking at my watch.  I watched him pull away.  That move of trying to stay with him got me through the first mile with a 6:18 split.  NO BUENO!  So much for the negative split strategy.  He kicked my butt again, as usual.

After the first mile I decided to dial it back a touch and find my race pace comfort zone and found myself running with a guy wearing a Ironman Racine 70.3 t-shirt.  We were pacing together pretty well.  We turned off the path together and on to the side street to head back and about 1.5 miles into it we got passed by some kid.  “Damn kids” I muttered, and Racine man agreed.

We ran together until the 2 mile split (6:47 min/mile) and he started to pull just a little bit ahead.  I tried to match pace but I had spent too much energy on that first mile.  He pulled ahead about 50 yards with about a 1/2 mile to go and that’s how it ended.  The third mile split was 6:53 min/mile for me.

I checked the race results and learned Racine man was in my age group.  He got 15th place overall, 2nd in the age group.  Since this park district run race only awards the top 2 finishers in each age group with a medal, whereas most races go three deep, I knew I wasn’t going to add a medal to my medal rack this time around.  You win some, you lose some.

Here is page one the results:  Shortrun

Overall, it was a good race for me.  I found that the 220-minus age max heart rate calculation is nearly exact to my actual field tested heart rate.  I got to race some good competition.  And there was pizza at the finish line.

 

IMG_6441
A tie dye participant shirt.  Yay.  

 

Breaking the Monotony of Training

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 13 – June 12 > June 18

Training for Ironman can be boring, especially when doing it alone.  I am fortunate to have four other training pals joining me on this quest for another Ironman finish, but we are spread apart, living in different areas surrounding the Northern Illinois area and rarely have an opportunity get together.  So when our fearless leader and Top Gunner Dave suggested we get together for a ride I was very excited to do that.

It ended up just being Dave, Jeff and myself meeting at my house for the Saturday three hour bike and half hour run brick workout.  Jeff was first to arrive and was having an issue with his rear brake.  We threw it on my bike stand and started tooling away on it.  It appears that it has just got gunked up a little bit.  Dave showed up while we were playing with it and suggested that Jeff loosen the screw for the brake cable and free up a little room for it.  That seemed to do the trick, and we were soon off riding.

 

IMG_6419
Pre-ride selfie.

 

I basically have three routes that I follow and can add options to them if I need to add or subtract riding time as the training plan dictates.  The problem is that all three routes basically head south, as this is the best direction for traffic free riding.  Fortunately, the south/southwest wind we were having made for heading into the wind and coming back with a tailwind, which is mostly ideal.  In all, we rode about three hours and 7 minutes, and a total of about 52 miles.  Not too shabby of a ride.

There were two notable memories from the ride.  The first is when we got to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and made a loop of the place before turning around for our trip back.  Any time I ride in there it always leaves and impression on me, knowing those that are buried there served our country for our freedoms.  It’s also an impressive place, seeing all of those headstones lined up in precision, without even a blade of grass out of place.

The other moment was when we were coming back, scooting along at about 22 mph,  when some kid of maybe 13 years old blows by us on a bike like we were standing still.  He was all kitted up like he was ready for Le Tour.  Damn kids.  He was moving.

We got home, ran an easy 3.25 miles and then jumped in the pool for a nice relaxing cool down for the day.  We snacked on some fruit and junk and then they were off to their busy Saturday routines.  It sure was nice not having to do the ride solo.

Sunday’s long run also had a break from the typical monotony.  On Saturday, I had learned that there was an old-time coal burning steam locomotive heading through town this weekend, making several passes on the Rock Island/Canadian National tracks in Mokena. So I headed out with the plan to try to be in downtown Mokena to see it rumble through at 9:15.  I was seven miles into my run when I realized I was about 10 minutes from the train getting to downtown, and I was a little over a mile away!  I picked up my pace and ran a little harder on my tired and sore legs and got there in time to see the train.  It was very impressive.

 

fullsizeoutput_f03e
An Ironman catching an Iron Horse.  (photo credit:  Joe Clayton)

 

I’m sure next weekend will be back to the typical grind, but it sure was nice to have something new to add to the training.

TOTALS:

3 Swims – 4900 yards this week / 35700 yards total

4 Bikes – 91 miles this week / 8950 miles total

7 Runs – 29 miles this week / 366 miles total

Gunners-2-1
Happy Father’s Day

 

Throwing Caution to the Wind

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 12 – June 5 > June 11

I first dipped my toe into the triathlon waters in 2012.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I certainly was a newbie to the sport.  And I had some trepidation about it all, especially the swim.

As each season passed I gained a lot more knowledge and confidence.  Finishing Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 certainly did wonders for my confidence, both in the water and on the bike, taking me distances I had never covered in either discipline.

But I sometimes still have some things holding me back somewhat.  I’m prone to having to use my wetsuit in open water, as it eases my anxiety a little.  It’s sort of a security blanket for me.  In addition to the wetsuit, I have also played it safe with using my full disc aero cycling wheel.

As you start out in triathlon, you tend to make do with what you have or invest in the entry level stuff, with the thought that if you don’t want to continue doing the sport you haven’t invested your life savings into it.  But as I grew to love the sport I eventually graduated from my road bike to a tri bike, a regular road helmet to an aero helmet, an off the rack tri kit to a full custom kit, and from standard cycling wheels to aero wheels.  And then I bought a full disc aero wheel.

The full disc wheel goes on the rear of the bike and thanks to some aerodynamics that are beyond my scope, is supposed to make you faster. I certainly did notice a difference, finding myself hitting speeds easier than when I used my normal set up.  I also found out on the first few rides that any sort of wind made for an adventure for me.  One windy day I was nearly blown off the trail with it.

I recently read some posts online regarding using the full disc wheel on the Ironman Louisville course that I will be doing in October.  A guy advised that there was absolutely no reason not to use it.  I saw some other comments saying that it was less about the full disc and more about the front wheel when it came to feeling the wind, mainly due to the rider weight distribution.  After thinking about it a little, I decided I should ride with it more often and this week seemed like as good a time as any.

I rode with it on Wednesday for a short 45 minutes and a Thursday ride of an hour, both with a little bit of wind but nothing to difficult.  Then came Saturday.  It was windy.  I was a little concerned because my route is mainly open farm roads with very little wind buffer.  But I figured this would be a good test.  So I did it.  And it wasn’t too bad.  I found myself leaning into the crosswind a little more than usual, but I never felt like was jockeying around too much.  So I decided to race with it on Sunday in a sprint triathlon.  That went really well, helping me to hit a 21.5 mph average over the 14.7 mile course.

So there you go.  I have now graduated from being over-conscience about using the full disc.  I’ll be training with that sucker as much as I can leading up to IM Lou.

I also graduated from having to use the wetsuit for every open water swim, doing without it at the ET Batavia Sprint triathlon.  It’s a short 400 yards in a man-made sandy bottom swimming hole, but the water is usually too cold for me.  Today’s race day water temperature was 73 degrees, so I decided to do a swim warm up and test out my tolerance for swimming without it.  I acclimated quickly and found myself swimming comfortably.

I’m starting to feel good about testing my limits.  We’ll see where that takes me in this crazy sport.

You can read my ET Batavia Triathlon race report here:  2017 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

TOTALS:

3 Swims – 4600 yards this week / 30800 yards total

4 Bikes – 89 miles this week / 859 miles total

7 Runs – 23.5 miles this week / 337 miles total

Gunners-2-1
Feeling stronger every day

 

 

 

2017 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

When:  6/11/2017

Where:  Batavia, Illinois

Distances:  400 yard Swim, 14.7 mile Bike, 4.1 mile Run

Time:  1:19:01

Back for the fourth time to do the race in Batavia.  I really enjoy this one.  It’s a quick swim, rolling hills bike route with plenty of time to go fast, and a flat and fast trail run.

This week I experimented somewhat with pushing my limits a little.  I decided to use my full disc aero wheel on the bike, something I chickened out with a year ago.  I also decided to swim without the wetsuit, thanks to the water temperature being just warm enough for my comfort level.  I’m glad I didn’t have to fight with it to get it on and off.  That is a chore.

The temperature of the morning was comfortable, but the day would get warm later.  It wasn’t bad on the bike, but I did start to feel it somewhat on the run.

 

IMG_6415
Satisfied with my pre-race transition set up.  

 

SWIM – 7:16 minutes, 208th overall

The swim started well for me.  I felt like my pace was good.  I got to the turn and made it to the backside of the swim and kept swimming.  It is pretty shallow in this part of the man-made, sandy bottom public swimming hole, and most people walk the back side of it.  I decided to keep swimming until about 10 yards from the turn for the second lap.  Once swimming again, I found myself in a much crowded field of swimmers, as more had joined in on the fun, thanks to a time trial type start.  But I made it through and started walking the back part of it earlier, just like everyone else.

T1 – 1:44 minutes

Getting to T1 was quick, no need to fuss with removing the wetsuit.  Grabbed my bike gear and bike and was gone to Bike Out.

BIKE – 40:58 minutes, 21.5 MPH average, 36th overall

There is a sharp climb right away which sent my heart rate into the red, where it would stay for quite a while, most of the ride actually.  I really pushed myself on the ride and it paid off with a quick ride.  There was some cross wind, but it didn’t last long.  I ate a gel just into the first mile, and one more just before getting back to T2 to fuel for the run.

T2 – 1:18 minutes

RUN – 27:43 minutes, 6:46 average per mile, 27th overall

There was a slight deviation to the final mile of the run as the trail near a public works facility was under construction.  Fortunately, the detour had a nice downhill leading back to the bridge that takes you back over the Fox River and the trail on the other side to the finish.  The run was going well, but I was feeling the heat a little even though it was almost completely shaded.  I took water at the water station twice and splashed it on me and in me as best as I could.  I passed a lot of younger racers and not seeing hardly any in my 50-54 Age Group.  That’s because they were ahead of me!  There was one guy with 50 written on his calf.  I decided to pace with him for a little while and then pass him in the last mile if I could.  He had is bib on backwards, and I realized his bib was white, which meant he was in the duathlon (run/bike/run) race and not in the triathlon.  So, knowing that I wasn’t really competing with him, I decided to push tempo again and pass him.  He must of saw my 53 on my calf and he reacted.  Once we got to that downhill at about 3.25 miles, he took off.  I started to chuckle because I knew he was racing me even though I wasn’t competing with him in his event.  I slowly worked on catching up with him, but I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.

When I got back to the finish, I cooled down and got some fluids in me.  I knew it would be a while before the award ceremony, so I decided to walk back to transition, take a shower, gather my bike and junk and take it to the car.  I then drove back to the VFW where the finish line area was located.

I decided to grab a couple pieces of pizza and check out the results.  Fourth in the age group – no award this year.  I was kind of expecting to finish a little higher than the 3rd place I won last year, but just didn’t have it in me.  Upon review the posted results online later in the day I realized my swim time did me in.  It was a full minute slower than last year!  I’m not really sure why that is.  It could be the wetsuit I guess, but I really did feel like I swam pretty well.  Oh well.  The swim ranking had me 208th overall.  That is really sad.  I also dropped in the overall ranking from 2016, from 23rd to 37th.  The guy that beat me for 3rd place beat me by 7 seconds.  One glimmer of hope, the 2nd place age group winner was a 50 year old, so he is the newcomer to the rank, whereas I am starting to age into the next group.  Not my day, I guess.  Maybe next year I will be kicking butt in the 55-59 A/G as the young gun.

 

IMG_6417
Still proud of my medal.  Glad to add it to the rack.

Here’s the link to the race results:  http://cc247.raceresults.space/2017/2017_ETBatavia_OA.htm

 

 

Week 11 Fun: Training and Racing

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 11 – May 29 > June 4

Week 11 was the first week of the Build Phase of the Be Iron Fit training plan that I am following, and I expected it to be a little harder.  There was a third swim added, along with some additional yardage to the swim.  I was a little surprised that the long Saturday bike was a half hour shorter than Week 10’s 3 hour ride, but I see that the plan now adds a short run after it.  The 1/2 hour spin on Sunday was also added, which seemed to feel pretty good to me thanks to some tired legs from Saturday.  All in all, not a bad way to start the Build Phase of training.

Speaking of tired legs, I also ran my first road race of the year, a 5K near my home.  I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea, as my feet and legs just always seem tired.  But I decided to give it a go.  I was glad I did, as I finished 10th overall and 1st in my age group.

You can read about the race here:  2017 Summertime Stride 5K Race Report

Speaking of racing, I will be doing my first triathlon of the year, the ET Batavia sprint triathlon in Batavia, Illinois.  I’ve done this race three times and I really enjoy it.  The swim is super short, about 400 yards, the bike is fast, and the run is a heart pounding 4.1 miles.  I’m hoping that the water will be warm enough to forego the wetsuit.  I struggled getting the dumb thing off last year and it cost me some valuable time.  I do have a speed suit that I might try out this time.  Never used it before though.  I might have to play with it this week during one of the three swim workouts.

The last bit of news is that my wife Kari bought a new road bike, a Specialized Roubaix from Spokes in Wheaton, Illinois.  We were there picking up my race packet and she had been talking about getting a bike.  I think she was impressed with the bike shop, and definitely the custom fit that the owner put her through.  We were there for almost 4 hours looking at bikes and getting the Roubaix dialed in.  They really did a good job and I think Kari is going to have many happy miles of riding.  I’m looking forward to having a new riding buddy.

TOTALS:

3 Swims – 5200 yards this week / 26200 yards total

4 Bikes – 89 miles this week / 770 miles total

7 Runs – 35 miles this week / 313 miles total

Gunners-2-1
Racing to Week 12