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!
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The Dreaded Week 27

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

dread – /dred/ verb/noun:  1.  To anticipate with great fear or apprehension (Google Definition)  2. The word “dead” with an r stuck in it (Chris Definition)

It’s interesting how one little change can cause me to panic over something that I can’t control.  For this week it was the weather.  The past three weeks we have had pretty good moderate, if not cool temperatures to train in.  It has been somewhat enjoyable to bike and run in the day with temps in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s.  But on the horizon for this weekend loomed record setting high temperatures in our area, several days bordering or over 90 degrees.  And it happened on Week 27 – the dreaded Week 27.

I have followed the Be Iron Fit training plan for three races now and Week 27 is the one that I generally loathe.  Sure we have been building up to this week, and truthfully I probably could have done the distance that Week 27 calls for in any of the previous three weekends.  But doing it in 90 degree temps?!  Yikes.  I have gotten through this week before and I was sure I can get through it again.  It’s not as tough as the race itself, for Pete’s sake.  But the issue at hand was doing a six hour/100 mile bike ride and one hour/7 mile run in the heat.  I was really dreading it this time around.  Thankfully, my group of Gunner teammates had just the answer – suffer through this together.  Here’s the low down on how we conquered the Dreaded Week 27.

FRIDAY

The plan was to gather at Dave’s house in Dixon and ride his route, a route that I feel is very similar to what we will expect in Louisville – lots of rolling hills, followed by more rolling hills.  The offer to spend the night there on Friday was made so that we could get an early start to our seven hour day, and I gladly accepted.  I packed my junk up, double checked that I had all my junk, and had a dinner at a local pizza place with my wife Kari that only made me more anxious.  The waitress was terrible and I was starting to believe that I may not make it there on Friday night.  Quick pro tip – never tell the waitress that you need just another minute.  To them people, just another minute means maybe ten.  Whatever.  We finally ate and I got on the road.

Upon arriving at Dave’s I was provided a comfortable bed, and the promise of a pre-ride meal in the morning.

SATURDAY

I awoke at 5:30 am and got dressed.  Upstairs Carla had oatmeal, bagels and bananas waiting for us.  Thanks Carla!  I probably ate more there than I do on my regular pre-ride meal at home.  I certainly left with a full tank.  Jeff showed up from Chicago just in time for some breakfast and small talk, and we slathered on some sunscreen and got ready to saddle up.

We hit the road at 6:30 am and it was 64 degrees.  I actually felt a little cold and felt a little foolish for worrying about the forecasted heat.  But as the sun rose, so did the temperatures.  The riding was good, we reminded ourselves to save our legs for later, and slowly paced ourselves out to the first stop to refill our water bottles, a fire station in Lanark, Illinois.

YELLOW GOCAINE

Before we left, Dave had prepared for all of us a plastic bag filled with powdered lemon-lime flavored Gatorade.  I joked that it looked like I was carrying a bag of yellow cocaine and almost took a pass on bringing it.  I will drink Gatorade on my rides, but after a while all of that warm sugary Gatorade just doesn’t go down very well.  I grabbed a bag as insurance, and I am glad I did.

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Yellow Gocaine

 

At the first stop, I pulled out the bag and added some to my water bottles, now jokingly calling it “yellow gocaine” but I didn’t add enough.  Now I just had dilute Gatorade water. Fortunately, I don’t rely on Gatorade for fuel, hydration or electrolyte replenishment.  I always use salt capsules to keep my sodium levels up, and use gels for nutritions/fuel, along with water.

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Speaking of gels, I went back to GU after getting tired of Clif Shots.  I found these energy gel flasks that GU made and decided to give them a try.  I can buy GU in a bigger pouch and refill the flasks as needed.  No more gel wrappers and extra garbage to carry around.  They worked really well.  I just need to figure out the correct dosage amount.

 

GRAVEL!

At several turns we were greeted with the possibility of some loose gravel on the turns and we did our best to warn each other.  But occasionally we’d forget until after we passed it, but even then we would still shout “GRAVEL!”

45.8 MPH

I had been riding with Alex a little and he kept telling me about this hill that we would be able to scream down.  I kept thinking that we weren’t going to ever get to this hill.  But we finally did and it did not disappoint.  I hit 45.8 mph going down it and pretty much had spun out my gearing.  It was pretty exhilarating, and it ended too soon for me.  It then dawned on me that that hill we just enjoyed will be the same one that will kick our butts on the way back.  It did.

HALF WAY

Our watches hit three hours just before we got to the portion of Dave’s route that included some serious hills to climb.  Darn.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.  We stopped for a little chat, a selfie and I ate my banana and some Clif bar.

 

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3 hours into it.  Time to turn around.  You can see the big climb that we didn’t do behind us.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Photo credit by Alex.

 

THE 4 HOUR MARK

We made it back to the fire station in Lanark only to find that all of the doors were closed and it looked empty.  That was a problem, as we needed to top off our water bottles with yellow gocaine for the remaining two hour trip back.  I checked around back looking for a hose bib with negative results, and Alex knocked on the door of a business on the other side of the street.  Turns out it was a realty office and one of the agents was nice enough to allow us use of their bathroom and water fountain.  Crisis averted.

GUNNING IT BACK HOME

Dave, who is much better at judging the wind direction than I am (he’s a pilot, so no wonder) and told us that we might have to pick up the pace a little to make it back in six hours.  The whole ride out I felt like we were mostly going downhill, and now not only were we climbing somewhat back, we also had a little headwind to deal with.  Truthfully the wind was negligible, and the real issue now was that it was hot.  We were enjoying ourselves so much that the heat really didn’t seem to matter.  Dave manages his hydration much better than I do, and I tried my best to keep pace with his drinking, so I felt pretty good hydration wise.  I think I stopped for five or six nature breaks and all were pale yellow, which was very good for me.

As we got closer to home, I could tell we were making a faster split coming back than going out, not just by effort and the fact that I watched our average mph climb from 16.5 to now around 17 mph, but also by the fact that Dave kept taking us on little half mile out and back trips on roads we didn’t ride out on.  So I flipped the switch in my mind to forget about being back exactly at 100 miles (we turned around at 50), and just kept an eye on that 6 hour mark.

RIDE OVER – TIME TO RUN

We finished the ride in 6:02, covering 102.2 miles according to my gps watch.  I was very pleased.  Another 10 miles in that heat would have been doable, but I was glad it was done.  The 112 miles will just have to wait until race day.

We seemed to not be in a rush to head out to the run, but we got around to it.  I took some time to use the washroom and wash my face and neck off with some cold water.  I downed a bottle of cold Gatorade (not the yellow gocaine variety for once!), and we swapped bike shoes for running shoes.  The group headed out and paced ourselves fairly conservatively for the first couple of miles.  Alex thought he would gun it a little more, but he quickly came to his senses and joined us.  Carla came through and met us about 20-25 minutes into our run, offering us water and Gatorade refills which I happily took.  Then Jeff hit the gas.

I hadn’t mentioned Jeff much so far in this recap, mainly because he was going along just doing the work.  But now I knew that he was ready to rock and roll.  He steadily built a lead on us getting a football field length or two ahead of us when we turned around at 30 minutes.  Now it was Dave, Alex and I jogging together and thinking that Jeff was forgetting that we have a 3 hour run to do on Sunday.  Jeff caught us and passed us easily.  Now it was game on.  It took me a while but I slowly reeled him in.  I passed him with about a half mile or so to go and I got back to Dave’s house before him.  But in all reality, he had run farther than me.  He was in beast mode on that run.  Well done, Jeff.

RECOVERING WITH SPECIAL SAUCE

After getting back, I chose to keep walking around to cool down while the others seemed to prefer to crash.  Alex seemed to really be struggling.  I keep hinting that he needs to pay more attention to electrolyte replenishment, but you can’t tell a young gun what to do.  I hope he remembers what happened at Lake Placid last year, and makes the adjustment to increase his salt intake.

We went inside and showered up and was met with a great lunch spread made by Carla.  She had made us all a variety of sandwiches and stuff to go with it and it was delicious.  But the thing most interesting about the meal was the special sauce.  I immediately got a chuckle out of this thanks to the movie “Step Brothers” where Brennan won’t share his fancy sauce with Dale.  I have to admit, I wanted some special sauce on my sandwich.  It was good.

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After recovering with food, we went out to the garage to admire Dave’s new Corvette, gather our junk, and I threw about a million football passes to Max and Zach, which may have been the highlight of the day.  I got in the car and headed home.

Before getting out of Dixon, I stopped at the Culver’s and bought myself a large diet Mountain Dew.  I’m glad I did because I probably would have fallen asleep without the caffeine it provided.

As I was driving I got a text alerting me to the fact the the marching band contest that my daughter was competing at in Naperville had been cancelled due to the heat.  I later learned that several kids and others were treated by EMT’s there, and the police told the school to shut it down.  I chuckled at the fact that we just did seven straight hours and 109 miles of high level endurance activity.  I guess we are ready.

4TH PLACE GOES TO…

Me.  During the last hour of riding I was finding myself in the sweeper position quite often, trying to play catch-up with the other three.  I realized at that point that I would most likely be finishing fourth off the bike ride at Louisville.  I guess it’s just my riding style.  I prefer to spin, and I am constantly spending large chunks of time in the small chain ring.  Dave wouldn’t use that ring unless he absolutely had to.  I prefer to save my quads for the run.  And unless I gun the run like a madman, I am pretty sure I’m looking at finishing in fourth.  But I’m totally cool with that.  They are strong riders, and Jeff proved that he may rob me from my marathon crown at this race.  It’s kind of cool that we all kind of have a triathlon distance specialty, and each of us have our dominant races.  I tend to do well in the short stuff, and Dave is KING at Ironman.  Jeff may very well be Dave’s best challenger this time around.  Alex, well seeing that he’s the young gun, he’ll toast us all.  He’s a lifer.  He LOVES this sport!  We all do.

THE SUNDAY LONG RUN

I was eager to get to the three hour long run on Sunday, because I didn’t want it to get too hot.  The run started with a temperature of 70 degrees but warmed to the mid 80’s by the time I was done.  It went really well.  I’m surprised at how well I feel on a run the day after doing such a long bike/run brick.  I turned around at 10 miles right at 1:30 and headed back home, finishing in 3:01.  The only casualty was my left nipple sprung a leak.  I was running along and feeling pretty good at about an hour into it when I looked down and saw that my shirt had a huge red bloody stain on it.  That explained all the weird looks I was getting from people on the trail.  I took the shirt off and rinsed the blood out with some water and made it home.  All in all, a pretty good run.

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 97550 yards total

3 Bikes – 147 miles this week / 10382 miles total

7 Runs – 50.5 miles this week / 918 miles

 

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The BIB numbers are out and I drew an awesome number for once!

 

Teammates Make It Fun

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 25 – September 4 > September 10

As I get closer to Ironman Louisville race day, the dread starts to build thanks to the massive amount of time the weekend training plan requires.  This week was another 5.5 hour Saturday ride, with a 2.5 hour run on Sunday.  But then my teammate Dave texted the group and suggested we get together for the Saturday ride/run brick.  The plan was set to meet at my house and share a great day.

I took them on the same route that I rode last weekend, even though I did that ride in a little over 5 hours.  I knew that we would ride a little more leisurely so we could chat and that the day was a little more windy than last weekend.

The ride went great, with no issues at all.  We got to the turn around point at exactly 2:45 riding nice and easy.  But I knew we would have to push pace a little coming back because we were riding straight into the wind that made that first half of the ride easy.  It wasn’t too bad, and we made it back right at 5.5 hours.

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Three Gunners enjoying a beautiful day.

The team did a quick transition to our running gear and I took them on a route I like to call the “Seven Deadly Hills.”  That hour went by really quick as we chatted through most of the hour long run.  We finished back home at an hour on the dot, with about 6.75 miles of running.  A quick dip in the pool, some fruit and salty potato chips, and I think we were all happy with our day.

Sunday was back to the loneliness of the long distance runner, and I threw on my running clothes and hit the trail for a 2.5 hour run.  Once again, the weather was awesome – cool, light breeze, and I felt great.  I dialed it back to mostly a Z1 effort and got in 16 miles.

All in all, Week 25 was awesome thanks to great weather and great friends.  I am looking forward to another group ride on Week 27 – the dreaded 6 hour ride.

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 87750 yards total

3 Bikes – 136 miles this week / 10102 miles total

7 Runs – 47 miles this week / 820 miles

 

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I’m hearing the BIB numbers will be out next week!

Laboring on Labor Day

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 24 – August 28 > September 3

I resist looking ahead to the weekend workouts because I don’t want to know what is coming.  Since last weekend was a five hour Saturday bike ride and a two hour Sunday run, I assumed that this weekend would bump those workouts another 1/2 hour each.  I’m not sure what possessed my wife Kari to crack open my training book and look, but I’m glad she did, because she made me aware that I only had to do another 5 hour ride.  Hooray!  I would have went out and did the 5.5 hour ride without even realizing the plan didn’t call for it.

But five hours on the bike is still no walk in the park.  On Friday I chaperoned the mega marching band at a local football game and there was a lot of standing, making my legs very tired.  I was all prepared to have to labor hard on Labor Day weekend.  But the gifts kept coming.  The weekend was beautiful!  Cool temperatures and mild breezes made for perfect training conditions.  I started the ride with a one piece tri suit with a cycling jersey over it, with arm warmers  and a long sleeve tech shirt, and gloves as I headed out and I was pretty chilled –  it was 47 degrees!  But 45 minutes into it, I was ready to lose the shirt and placed it on the ground near a stop sign. I came back and picked it up 3 hours or so later and put it in my jersey pocket.  I did shed the gloves, but kept the arm warmers on throughout the ride for protection from the sun.

Saturday’s ride went really well.  I made it through 83 miles last week and didn’t enjoy it much.  But I managed to get in 91 miles of great riding in this time.  I followed that up with a 7.25 mile run and felt really great through that as well.

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Just me and beans for as far as you can see.  

Saturday’s effort was far from over though, as Kari and I had plans to attend the Barenaked Ladies concert in New Lenox, which meant doing a lot of standing on tired legs.  And since it was BNL, I figured I’d be doing some kind of bad dad dance routine, and I did.  I was somewhat surprised that my legs weren’t killing me.  Sure they were a little tired, but not achy or sore.  A great end to a great day.

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The Good Lady and me waiting for Living Color and BNL!  

I was expecting Sunday’s long run to be on some tired legs, but surprisingly enough I felt pretty good.  I got in 15 miles in 2:18.  Then I did a very easy spin over to Frankfort to watch my daughter and her mega marching band do the community proud in the Frankfort Fall Fest parade.  I didn’t leave myself time to grab something to eat, but I took whatever candy I could get from the parade as I sat in the shade of a little bush.  I spun the bike home and had a bowl of cereal.

I was fully expecting that this weekend would be laborious.  But it turned out that it wasn’t that way at all.  Maybe I should have titled this week “Not Laboring on Labor Day.”  It’s really a testament to the periodization of the training plan.  It sure is making me ready, not only for the race itself, but for each week as I progress.  Let’s see if I feel the same after next weekend.

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 83550 yards total

4 Bikes – 147 miles this week / 9966 miles total

7 Runs – 48 miles this week / 773 miles

 

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The Highs and Lows of Week 23

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 23 – August 21 > August 27

It seemed like this week was a little bit of a hilly ride, with ups and downs aplenty.  So I thought I would recap the happenings.

Monday 

HIGHS:  Rest day, baby!  Eclipse day!  LOWS:  I ran 3 miles on my off day.  Bummer.

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Me trying to figure out whether I wanted to permanently ruin my vision or not.  

Tuesday

HIGHS:  A swim and a 8.5 mile run.  LOWS:  None that I can remember.  Except maybe the swim.  Yeah, I hate swimming.

Wednesday

HIGHS:  My favorite workout of the week – the short bike/run brick.  LOWS:  The wife isn’t feeling well.

Thursday

HIGHS:  The weather this week has been GREAT!!!  LOWS:  Thursday workouts are the worst – a swim, a bike, a run.  Makes for a long afternoon.

Friday

HIGHS:  My mother-in-law Darla hit 70!  Happy Birthday!  And I got to greet my friend Rollie on the bike trail.  LOWS:  Missed the first home football game in which my daughter’s full competitive band performed.

Saturday

HIGHS:  Absolutely none.  Well, that’s not true.  I got to see the competitive marching band do their thing in exhibition after a 88 mile bike/run day.  The ride went well in spite of the fact I wanted to kill people on the bike trail and clueless drivers on the road.  LOWS:  Idiots on the bike trail.  Clueless drivers on the road.  And I got pretty sick about training on that long ride.  I got to the point where I just wanted it to be over.  Happens every year.

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My face after stopping to read my Gunner teammate John’s text about poker at his house that night.  There was no way I could swing it.  I still had another 2+ hours of riding and running ahead of me.  Plus a marching band event later.  

Sunday

HIGHS:  I beat the rain (which looked like trouble, but never did rain) and got in a strong 13.25 mile run and a 45 minute spin.  And I got a second chance to greet my friend Rollie on the bike trail!  LOWS:  Not being able to join my buddies in Chicago for the Chicago Triathlon.  Next year for sure.

So, in all it was a roller coaster ride of emotion throughout training this week.  I was ready to say I was done with it.  But by the end of Sunday’s long run and bike, I realized that I had performed pretty well.  A good recovery from last week.  I’m pretty lucky that I can do this activity.  I don’t take that for granted.

 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4200 yards this week / 79150 yards total

4 Bikes – 135 miles this week / 9819 miles total

7 Runs – 45 miles this week / 725 miles total

 

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It Beat Me

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 22 – August 14 > August 20

This week was a taper week that was leading to a half-iron distance race on Sunday in the training plan.  The week went really well with no issues, and I chose to do the 70.3 at home on Saturday instead of Sunday for a couple of reasons, first being my daughter Ashley was leaving for her sophomore year at school on Sunday and I needed to be around on Sunday.  Secondly, Saturday was looking to be a nicer day temperature-wise than Sunday.

So Saturday came and I got an early start to my half-Ironman day.  The swim was great.  It took me 40 minutes and I felt really strong.  Before leaving on the bike I ate a Clif Bar and drank a glass of water.

The bike was awesome.  I headed south toward Elwood and hit 23 miles when I turned around at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.  I went back east until I got to the little forest preserve entrance and went in for a bathroom break.  Knowing that I had turned around at 23 miles, I would need an additional 10 miles for a total of 56 for the ride, so I headed back west for 5 and turned around.

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Had to wait for a train for about 10 minutes approximately 4 miles from home.  This train would later come back to me on my run and run me over.

With about 2 miles to go, I felt a stinging sensation on my foot.  Some sort of wasp/bee/hornet thing had lodged itself in the opening of my shoe and stung me.  It hurt like heck for about 10 minutes.  But it was just the beginning of my suffering.

Once home I noticed that I had a great split on the bike ride.  Averaged just over 19 mph, which was faster than my Ironman Muncie 70.3 time from 2014.  I was pretty happy with that.

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I jumped in the pool for a quick cool down, and then changed into some running clothes. I took a look at my stung foot and didn’t notice any swelling, but it was a little sore to the touch.  I put on fresh socks, refilled my Gatorade bottles and hit the trail.

My plan was to do two loops of my normal route, which would be very close to 13 miles.  At about 5 miles into it I ran out of Gatorade and stopped at the water pump to top off my bottle with water.  That got me back to my trail entrance spot at 6.6 miles and I grabbed a new bottle of Gatorade that I had stashed in the tall grass and refilled my bottle.  But at this point the heat of the day was getting to me, and I knew I was starting to cook.  I started heading back up the path for another loop and made it to the other parking lot where I used the bathroom and realized I was starting to have heat exhaustion.  I went to the water fountain and ran cold water over my head and proceeded to the intersection to keep going on the loop.  But as I pushed the crosswalk button and stood there I realized there was no way I would make it through the remaining 5 miles in one piece.  So at 8 miles into my planned 13 miler, I turned around and started walking for home.  A walk that would basically turn out to be an Ironman shuffle for 2.5 miles.

My head was down, my arms were heavy and it felt like just breathing was an effort.  I felt like that train I had seen earlier was barreling over me.  I kept licking at the last gel I had along with some Base salt and started to at least have enough energy to power my brain and move at a slightly faster pace.  I ran/walked another mile for a total of 9, four shy of my goal.

I have never DNF’d (did not finish) a race before, and honestly I can’t even remember a time in which I didn’t finish a training run that I had set out to do.  But today I realized that I was defeated.  It beat me.  I made it home and recovered with plenty of fluids, some salt, and some rest.

So what happened?  I’m guessing I was dehydrated.  I had taken a salt capsule every hour on the ride, but I was sweating heavily.  I had eaten well, taking a gel every half hour.  I never felt sloshy or had dry mouth.  I weighed myself after a shower and found I weighed 160 pounds.  I had probably lost about 7 pounds of water weight on that journey.  Lesson learned.  I need to drink more.  The trouble is, there really isn’t any place to refill on that route.  I will need to figure something out for the next time.  And maybe I needed more fuel.  One gel every 30 minutes has always been my nutrition plan.  I may need to up it a little.

 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 5600 yards this week / 74950 yards total

3 Bikes – 86 miles this week / 9684 miles total

7 Runs – 34 miles this week / 680 miles total

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Lesson learned.  Know my limits and adjust.  Keep moving forward.

My Brain on Ironman

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 20 – July 31 > August 6

I read a recent article in Triathlete magazine that covered the subject of mental preparedness in Ironman.  I have always thought that training your mind to handle the effort in training and the races was almost as vital as the physical aspect of getting your body ready to spend the more than half a day swimming, biking and running.  Some of it can be very mind numbing for sure.

I find the swimming to be the most boring of the three.  You are either looking at a black line at the bottom of a swimming pool, the dark murkiness of a lake, or in my case a bunch of dead bugs lying at the bottom of my pool, a constant reminder that I also need to devote time to take care of things that get neglected during training.

Running can also be boring, but you can bring music if you are so inclined.  I don’t, but I do let the beauty of the area in which I run to keep me distracted from any suffering that may be going on.  I jogged behind a deer on Wednesday for about a minute until it finally took notice and bounded into the woods.

I find that I don’t have the luxury of being unfocused on the bike.  It’s the one discipline of triathlon in which you are required to focus.  You have to constantly monitor your surroundings, your effort level, and make sure that you don’t crash.  Certainly there are times when I can zone out, but something always quickly renews your focus on the bike – a bump on the road, a bug to the face, a gust of wind, etc.

Often times when someone asks about the Ironman, they only think in terms of how long it is – 140.6 miles – and are impressed that the distance can be covered under your own power.  But I find that your mind easily adapts to the distance if you break it down into manageable segments.  My training is 30 weeks long.  That’s a long time.  But when it is broken into its individual weeks, and then into each day, it is much easier to mentally handle the task.  The woman who inquired about my training this week asked me about the training, and I said for Wednesday’s workout I did 45 minutes on the bike followed by a 30 minute run.  A total of 75 minutes of exercise.  Lots of people can do that.  Break it up and it is much more manageable.

At Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, I found that I couldn’t bear to look out at the water where the swim course was being held prior to race day.  It looked enormous!  But on race day morning, I got in the water for the start and broke the swim up into small segments.  My plan was to swim from one orange buoy to the next.  On the bike it was all about riding to the next aid station where I could refill my water bottle and take on some more nutrition, then it was on to the next one.  Same thing with the run – one mile at a time, one aid station to the next.

So I guess the physical training for the race is the most important aspect of completing an Ironman.  But if you can train your brain to manage the race, it can make the physical portion of it much less of a burden.

THIS WEEK

Swimming in Lake Minocqua. 

I volunteered as a chaperone at this past couple of weeks at band camp.  Fortunately for me I was able to take the 3-6pm slot, and was still able to get my workouts done midday.  The weekend was spent in Minocqua with the family.  I felt the need to be with the family and spend quality time that is no longer a given. My son has his own job and is living out of state. And my middle daughter will begin her sophomore year at college soon. So to have everyone together for two short days was a luxury that I couldn’t pass up. So I skipped the scheduled four hour bike ride. But I was able to get an open water lake swim in as well as the two hour Sunday run. That run nearly wiped me out physically and mentally. I’ve got some work to do in the next ten weeks. 

TOTALS:

2 Swims – 4400 yards this week / 64450 yards total

2 Bikes – 41 miles this week / 9467 miles total

7 Runs – 40 miles this week / 605 miles total

Week 20 complete. Bring on the Peak Phase!