2018 Chicago Triathlon Race Report

When:  08/26/2018, 7:32am

Where:  Chicago, Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

Time to wrap it up:

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Until the next race, Cheers to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Manteno Sprint Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/28/2018, 8:00am

Where:  Manteno, Illinois

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

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

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

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Looking fairly happy pre-race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link to the 2018 Manteno Tri Race Results

DNS – My First “Did Not Start”

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

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

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

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

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Lovely.  Just like the Boston Marathon in April.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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