DNS – My First “Did Not Start”

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

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

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

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

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Lovely.  Just like the Boston Marathon in April.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

From a 3-Timer to the New-Timer: My Advice About Using “Be Iron Fit”

Be Iron Fit by Don Fink is an amazing guide to self-coaching your way to an Iron distance triathlon finish.  The book is filled with inspirational stories, great triathlon training advice, and valuable information about how to conquer 140.6 miles of swim/bike/run.  The focal point of the book is the 30-week training plans, broken down into three levels to suit the needs of most triathletes.  You can follow the “Just Finish, Intermediate” or the “Competitive” training plans.  I have used the Competitive plan for my three Ironman finishes and I was very confident that I was well prepared.

I belong to a handful of Facebook pages for the races I have done and to one awesome page in particular that is devoted to users of the book.  We often support our fellow triathletes in their goal of finishing an Ironman using Be Iron Fit, and never hesitate to offer opinions on training and racing, and help when questions arise.  Each new season brings in a new crop of first-timers that often have the same experiences and questions about the plan.  Here is my advice that I can offer you about using the book in your pursuit of becoming an Ironman.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not a coach, a top age grouper, a pro, or anything that makes me evenly remotely qualified to offer advice.  I’m just a three-time finisher sharing my thoughts on the training.)

READ THE BOOK – Most of us that hear about the book or are referred to it are looking for a training plan to follow.  Be Iron Fit has three plans to fit most peoples needs.  But that is just a part of the book.  Of course the plans are the main focus, but the book also goes into depth about training and triathlon in general.  In the book, the author Don Fink explains most of the reasoning for the method he uses. But newbies will inevitably ask a question that will be a clear indication that they didn’t read the book.  The swim training is probably the most confounding to people, myself included.  The explanations are in the book, but someone will inevitably ask what “@20sec” means.

ONE SIZE FITS ALL – Be Iron Fit is a one size fits all program.  Don Fink doesn’t have the luxury of knowing you were a great high school or collegiate swimmer, or you are a competitive cyclist, or you have qualified for the Boston Marathon.  He wrote the book to help the average Joe and Jane balance life and training in attempting long course triathlon.  Imagine a line drawn down the middle of all types of abilities.  Some of us may be right on that line, some of us may be above it, and some below.  Those on the line can do the training without many issues, and those above it may have to drop off some.  The below people may need to work harder, but should find success as well.  If you are way off the line, you may need to rethink your goals and decide if this book suits your needs.

There was a guy who joined the Facebook page devoted to BIF and had a dilemma:  He was a so-so swimmer, a so-so biker, but he humbly claimed he was an above average runner.  I looked him up on Athlinks.  He was a sub-2:50 marathoner!  Yeah, that’s above average for sure.  He struggled with the run training because he didn’t want to lose his run conditioning, dropping down from the 50+ miles of high intensity running per week to 15 minute jogs.  We suggested a personal coach, someone who could take that into account and create a training plan around that, because BIF can’t change.  So yes, Mr. or Mrs. Fastrunner, you have to adjust yourself to the plan or find alternatives.  The beauty of the program is that he has given us three levels in hopes to satisfy all athletic abilities and goals.

COACH YOURSELF/HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE – Fink gives you three levels of plans to choose from and train for Ironman.  Words of wisdom are in the book, and plenty of your questions can be answered by others seeking the same goal.  But the book can’t coach you like a real coach.  You can’t email it with a question about missing a few days of training and get a response.  You can’t have it realign your training if you get injured.  You have to do that on your own.  You have to follow the plan in order to expect the results that the plan was created for.  If you follow the plan you can expect the results you are hoping for.  But if you need to rearrange the plan to fit your life, by all means do it.  You just need to get the work in, especially the weekend workouts.

TRUST THE PLAN – How did the first couple of weeks go?  I’m guessing you have done a few 15 minute runs and have wondered how that is going to get you through a marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride.  Look, this is 30 weeks of training.  It is a long time.  You will slowly and methodically build to the point that you will be ready.  You have to adopt the motto – TRUST THE PLAN!

QUESTIONING FINK – At some point you’ll be asking what is the purpose of doing a specific workout, or you will have an issue with the heart rate training.  Or someone will say that they chose to do it differently.  It’s okay to have a different approach, but it always amuses me that these first timers think they know more than the guy that wrote the book.  He is an accomplished triathlete and well regarded, certified triathlon coach.  Stop questioning him, and TRUST THE PLAN!

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS – Someone on the Facebook page will eventually comment that they are seeing others being able to swim at a much quicker pace than they can, or that others are averaging 18 mph on their bike rides and wonder why they are not doing the same.  The truth is there is a wide range of abilities on these forums, from multiple finishers, athletes with finish times in the sub-11 hour category, and those that are at the other end of the spectrum.  Don’t compare yourself to the others in the group.  You may be in the 40-44 age group and be comparing yourself to comments made by someone in their 20’s.  What you should be aware of is the time cutoffs for the race and where you stand against them.  For most first timers, you are racing the clock, not the others on the Facebook page.

STAYING IN Z2 – You can’t stay in Z2 on your run, can you?  Neither could I when I started and I thought I was a decent runner.  Guess what?  Maybe you and I aren’t as fit as we thought we were.  Maybe the reason is most of us come from competing in shorter distance stuff where the focus is running faster and being quick.  Finishing an Ironman marathon means you have to budget your effort to go the distance.  Fink uses heart rate monitoring to help you build endurance and keep you from burning out.  If you are doing your early training stuff above the recommended HR zone, you risk overtraining and injury.  The goal is to be able to finish a marathon not just after swimming and biking in the race, but also after 30 weeks of training.  You need to learn to pace yourself.

SPINNING AT 100 RPM/100 BPM – I’m guessing you can’t do this either.  This is something that you will be able to accomplish over time, but it will take a while.  The point of this workout is to get you to learn to spin your legs on the bike in an efficient manner without taxing your muscles heavily.  These spins build cardio, promote good cycling technique, provide butt-in-saddle time to condition your butt, and keep you from overtraining.  I relied heavily on the spin during the hillier portion of my three races and watched with some amusement at the others mashing up the hills out of the saddle, only to be completely out of breath at the top of the hill.  I would usually pass them easily going up the hill, and would be much less tired at the top while they needed time to recover.  Spinning an easy gear is smart training and will also be smart racing when attacking hilly courses.  Plus you will be saving your legs for the run.

WHERE IS ZONE 3? – Go grab your book and find a workout that Fink says to do in Z3.  I’ll wait.  Did you find one?  There aren’t any.  Why?  I wondered that myself, especially when I couldn’t stay in Z2 on my local hilly running route.  Here’s my idea on it:  I think Fink knows that we will struggle with Z2, and as long as Z3 doesn’t morph into Z4, he’s okay with you being in Z3 occasionally.  But he just doesn’t want you training in it all the time.  Most of the Iron distance racing pace advice you will find is to stay within Z2 for the race, so training in Z2 is the best way for you to learn the feel of the pace.  Plus it keeps you from overtraining and injury.  I found for myself that the local hills I run on my usual running route will push me out of Z2, but it is brief and I learned that I will quickly get back to Z2.  Conclusion:  Z3 is okay, but don’t live there.

THE THINGS I DID DIFFERENTLY – I followed the Competitive plan for my three Ironman races.  I felt that I wanted to do the best I possibly could, and I had the time to put into the training that the Competitive plan called for.  Plus my training buddies were also following the Competitive plan, and we thought it was best to all be following the same plan.  But I have to confess to making some changes.

For my first race at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, I followed the plan as close as possible in training – until I could no longer stand using the heart rate monitor and staying in Z2 all the time.  Early on I was resorting to walking some of my run workouts, and being a long time runner there was just no way I was walking a run workout.  Plus, after 25 years of running, I had a pretty good sense of pace and was confident I knew what each zone felt like.  So I switched to “perceived effort,” which Fink warns against because he knows most of us can easily be enticed out of the zone he wants us to stay in.  But I understood the importance of Z2 and knew as long as I didn’t live in Z3, I would be okay, and I was.  I did Ironman Wisconsin very conservatively, finishing in 14:37.

Three years later (2016) I did Ironman Lake Placid and again followed the Competitive plan.  For this race I had gotten better at my swim technique and would sometimes skip the Friday swim workout, or just do straight swims in training when it called for a specific workout.  I always thought that the swim workouts were much more intensive than the bike or run workouts were, especially during the Base Phase of training.  As a matter of fact, I did do swim workouts in the last 10 weeks of training that took me to the 2.4 mile distance, whereas I reached 100 miles on the bike and 20 miles running only once each during training.  The other thing I did at Lake Placid was move out of Z2 more.  The cycling course there almost forces you to, and I wanted to PR badly.  I kicked hard for the last 4 miles of the run and finished strong.  I improved my times in all three disciplines, finishing in 12:52.

The most recent finish was 2017 Ironman Louisville, again following the Competitive plan.  This time though I said screw the swim workouts and did just two 45 minute swims per week for most of the plan.  Occasionally I would do some drills and throw in some tempo/speed workouts, but mostly they were just straight swims.  I did add some additional open water swims of longer lengths just to give me confidence.  My swim finish at Louisville may have been partly due to the current aided Ohio River course, but I PR’d by about 10 minutes over Lake Placid and 20 minutes faster than Wisconsin.  I finished with a PR at Ironman Louisville with a time of 11:46.

Here are some other changes I made:

  • Fink prescribes two races during training, an olympic and a half-Iron distance race. I couldn’t find a local race close enough or cheap enough to warrant racing, so I did them at home.  Luckily for me, I have a pool at home to train in, and I could relax and do them without all the anxiety and cost that comes with racing.  Plus, I didn’t want to risk an accident or injury racing.  Devoting 30 weeks to a goal is a lot of time to invest, and I didn’t want to jeopardize not getting to my A race in one piece.
  • I would sometimes skip the Sunday bike spin prior to the long run, or would do it after the run later in the day.
  • I didn’t do a single weight training workout.  Not a single one.  I hate lifting weights.  No core stuff either.  No thanks.
  • I skipped a week of training to chaperone band camp.  I missed all of the swim and bike workouts for the week, plus 4 hour weekend ride and 1.5 hour long run.  I worried about missing them, but in the end it didn’t matter.
  • Although not anything related to the training plan itself, I did buy a tri bike late in the training plan.  This was something new I had to adapt to, but it did not take long to adjust to riding an aero bike vs. a roadie.
  • As if just being an Ironman finisher wasn’t enough, I started a running streak on January 1, 2015.  This meant that I ran at least a mile on the Monday rest day, and also on the days where there wasn’t a run planned.  It was sometimes very taxing.  I was able to handle it, but it probably didn’t add much to my ability to finish an Ironman.  The only positive I can feel came from it is that I did a lot of bike/run bricks, and they became no big deal to do.

CONCLUSION – I went from being a doggy paddler afraid of open water to being a fairly confident swimmer.  I went from thinking 30 miles was a long way to bike to crossing the century mark for the first time during my first Ironman race.  I went from thinking I knew everything about running to learning new techniques.  I went from watching the Ironman World Championship on television, wondering how finishing such a race was even possible, to being able to do the distance myself.  I went from being only a runner to being a triathlete.  I went from questioning myself to having confidence in myself.  I went from fear of the unknown to having confidence in myself.

I’m a three time Ironman Finisher thanks to Be Iron Fit.  TRUST THE PLAN!

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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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!

Sprinting in the Beater

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017 TRAINING

WEEK 19 – July 24 > July 30

I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious about my body.  As a kid my mom would take me to the “husky” section of Sears to buy my clothes.  I always swam in a t-shirt to hide my chubbiness.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been so noticeable for me if my two best buddies didn’t have bodies that would be suitable for modeling.  (They still have those bodies.)  Even in my high school and young adult years, I would always buy a shirt that was a size larger than I need.

I started running like most people do – to lose a few pounds.  I did lose a few pounds, but my body shape stayed the same.  Not sure why after almost 28 years of running that I would not be rail thin like most marathoners, but it never happened to me.  I am a slightly slimmer version of the same body that I have had since I can remember.

But when I started triathlon, things changed.  First of all, one of the reasons I stayed away from triathlon was that I didn’t think that I could wear that skin tight clothing and be comfortable with how I felt and looked.  Especially in the early days when they wore bikini style shorts.  I can remember buying my first tri suit at Endure It! in the western suburbs of Chicago.  I tried a two piece and remember thinking I looked like the Michelin Man.  After that I tried a one piece suit and thought that it wasn’t too bad.  Often times I would throw a t-shirt over it just to make me feel a little better about myself.  But after getting a few races under my belt, I looked around and realized that it wasn’t all that bad.  I saw all shapes and sizes of people squeezed into Lycra, and in reality I wasn’t the shape that my mind imagined myself to be.  Triathlon seems to be giving me more than I had bargained for.  I’m getting less conscious about my image.

This weekend I did a sprint triathlon.  I was thinking about how I looked in comparison to others at the event.  Not sure why, but I did.  I was admiring this one guy who looked like he was a former pro.  Fortunately for me he was in the 55-59 age group and I didn’t have to worry about losing an age group spot to him (He finished 3rd overall).  He had the look that I wanted but somehow can’t achieve.  As somewhat of a car buff, I envisioned myself much like a souped up beater – a car that looks rough on the outside, but is all pro-stock under the hood.  The term “sleeper” also comes to mind – a car that is so tame looking, but packs a wallop.

I took my time in the water, but once I got to the bike I let it rip.  I ended up surprising myself with a 21.8 mph average over the 11 mile course.  When I got to the run, I played my strategy right.  I allowed myself to settle in and not go crazy that first mile.  I ended up running a 20:46 5K, nearly matching my personal best for road raced 5K’s this year.  That was surprising as well.

The biggest surprise was when I saw the results on the screen at the finish line – 1st place in the M50-54 age group, and 9th place overall.  I wasn’t expecting that.  But I guess nobody expects the beater to have a supercharged big block under the hood.  Sometimes not even me.

TOTALS:

3 Swims – 3300 yards this week / 60050 yards total

3 Bikes – 33 miles this week / 9426 miles total

7 Runs – 30 miles this week / 565 miles total

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Standing tall on the top step.
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Nice race week break.  Back to work in Week 20

 

2017 Manteno Sprint Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/29/2017, 8:00am

Where:  Manteno, Illinois

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

Results:  1:02:40 – 9th overall, 1st place M50-54

I expected to be underwhelmed with this race a little.  There wasn’t much information to be found online as I looked into this race.  The club that hosted it doesn’t really have a website or Facebook page that I could find, the host location (Manteno Sportsman’s Club) had just one post on their FB page, and the sign-up website didn’t list the race distances or provide a course map at all.  I was kind of in the dark about it all.  I ended up emailing the listed contact on the registration site and asked for info.  A day later I was emailed the athlete guide.  At least I now knew when packet pick-up was and when transition opened.  When I did sign up for the race I asked my wife Kari if she would be interested in doing the duathlon.  She committed and we joined the field.

I set my alarm for 4:30 am, but had a really restless night of sleep.  I got up and got ready, while Kari groaned.  We hit the road around 5:30 am and drove the 25 miles or so to Manteno, Illinois.

After arriving, we picked up our packets and walked our junk to transition.  It was a rack it where you like transition, so I chose an end rack location not far from a large tree for ease of finding the bike.

I decided to burn off some race anxiety and ran a couple loops of the run out course.  After that, Kari and I walked around trying to stay warm on a somewhat cool 63 degree summer morning.

Race day water temp was 80 degrees, so no wetsuit.  I did see one guy with one on, but he also had a white swim cap and I remembered hearing that a guy with a white cap would be in the water helping the unsure beginners in the water.

There were four swim waves – Men 39 and Under / Men 40 and Over / Ladies 39 and Under / Ladies 40 and Over.  I was in the second wave and sized up my competition.  I didn’t really see anyone in the M50-54 age group, but I knew there had to be a few.  There was a guy in transition who was a first timer and I answered a few of his questions in transition.  He approached me on the beach and asked more questions.  I was glad I could offer him some advice.  He was a little nervous.  I hope he did okay.  I didn’t see him at the finish.

SWIM:  400 Yards, 9:07, Average pace 2:17, 3rd in A/G, 58th Overall

The horn blew and I waded into the water as others ran.  The water was perfect.  Smooth and a comfortable temp.  We got to the one turn buoy in fairly good time, and I was feeling pretty good.  There was some bunching up, and some minor contact, but it settled down and we all began swimming straight back into a blinding morning sun.  I felt like I had a great swim, but was surprised to see my time in the results.  I guess that includes the run to T1, but I know I swim faster than that.  I got to T1 and spent 1:16 getting ready for the ride.

BIKE:  11 Miles, 30:14, Average speed 21.8 mph, 2nd in A/G, 10th Overall

I got to T1 and decided to go without socks.  I got ready as fast as I could and took off running out to Bike Out.  Once on the bike I took off.   I hit 27 mph leading out of the event site and was amazed how easy it felt.  A few turns later I was out of the town and in cornfields, passing numerous first wave starters and most of the duathlon competitors.  I got passed by one guy on the bike, right around the 0.5 mile mark.  He and I left transition together, but he mounted his bike before the bike mount line and the referee told him to dismount and mount after the line.  I wonder if he got a 2 minute penalty.  But he blew by me, and I was still doing 25 mph at that point.  He must have been ticked.

The course had two hairpin turnarounds, which weren’t that big of a deal.  I had to slow for a slower rider at the second one, but I ramped it back up quickly.  The day had started to become slightly windy, but there were enough turns where you weren’t dealing with a headwind for a long stretch of time.  There was a cop standing at the bottom of the hill with a radar gun.  I went by him at 27 mph.  Later on at the awards ceremony, they crowned the faster rider at 35 mph I think.  They gave him an award.

I hustled back to T2 and made the quick change to running in 1:14.

RUN:  3.1 miles, 20:46, 6:42 per mile pace ave., 1st in A/G, 8th Overall

I started running and immediately wondered if my heart was going to explode.  It didn’t and I quickly settled into race pace.  I passed a guy about 1/2 mile into the run and he said I was crushing it.  He probably thought I was crazy, because I certainly did.  But I just started going and picking off runners one by one.  It wasn’t until about the 2 mile mark that I saw two guys running together in my age group.  They said I should join their old man group and run with them, but I gracefully declined.  I kept my pace going and they didn’t try to match it.  I’m glad they didn’t, because the results showed that I beat them both by 19 seconds.

FINISH TIME:  1:02:40, 1st in A/G, 9th Overall

After finishing, I recovered with some water and walking around.  I found friend Brian Swift, a para-triathlete who had done the swim portion of the relay, while his kids did the bike and run.  Very inspiring to watch him do the swim.

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Not long after that I grabbed my camera out of transition and went to watch Kari finish the race.  We cooled down and had great conversation with a few others we knew and some new triathlete friends we met.

After getting some pizza and a banana, I decided to check the results and was shocked to see that I had finished 1st in the age group.  At the awards ceremony, I took my place on the highest podium, a first for me, and received my award, a drinking glass etched with 1st place on it.

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I’ve won 1st place in my age group before, but never got to stand on the top tier of the finisher’s podium!

CONCLUSION:  

Even with my questions about how well run the race would be, it turned out to be a great day.  The venue was more than adequate, the lake was very nice, and the bike and run course was all on pavement that was in great shape.  And Kari confided in me later that she actually had fun!  I would definitely do this one again.

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Two happy campers ready to head home.

RACE RESULTS:  http://results.itsracetime.com/results.aspx?CId=17095&RId=276

 

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