Monthly Archives: April 2014

Training Week #11 (Triathlon Build Training/Marathon Taper)

Well, it was an interesting week.

First of all,  triathlon training went from “base” to “build” training. A few implications to this. First, there are 3 scheduled swim sessions weekly instead of 2. These sessions are also longer. Bike and run sessions have some speed work and intervals added.

I have already been doing some informal speed work, so that will just be more structured. I have elected NOT to add the third swim…I just don’t have the time (and I am completely omitting it from the training plan). Going to the pool is a total time suck. I will make the swim sessions longer. I will add open water swims whenever I can (much more important to me then extra pool sessions). I have moved to 1.75 miles/session from 1.5. Week 16, I will up it to 2 miles. Week 20 will be 2.25, and week 25 will be 2.5 miles (which is beyond the ironman distance).

Run is in taper mode, with a long run of only 10 miles. I will likely only do a couple of short runs off the bike going into marathon weekend.

I got the bike off the trainer and back outside. This is a big deal. I was doing much longer bike sessions outdoors last year, and the bike ramp up has been a lot slower than the run ramp up because of this (and my upcoming marathon). With the bike back outside, and marathon training behind me, I can back off the run a little and give the bike the love it needs (my weakest element).

The weather this week was cold and windy. My solo ride on Saturday was shorter than desired because of this. I almost didn’t go to the MN Ironman Bike Ride due to the horrible weather, but I needed bad weather training. This was a good opportunity.

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:15 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-2:30 bike/0:15 run
Sunday-0:30 bike/1:15 run

2 hour swim, 5:00 hour bike, 4:00 hour run
Total-10 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:45 bike/0:32 run (11.2 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:10 swim/0:57 run (1.75 miles/6.2 miles)
Thursday-1:10 swim/1:15 bike (1.75 miles/18.1 miles)
Friday-1:42 run (10 miles)
Saturday-2:13 bike/0:32 run (30.6 miles/3.1 miles)
Sunday-1:57 bike (27 miles)

Weekly Total
2:20 swim,  6:10 bike, 3:43 run (% change from week 10: +133%, +60.9%, -42.8%)
3.5 mile swim, 86.9 mile bike, 22.4 mile run (% change from week 10:  +133%, +55.2%, -43.6%)
Total-12:13 hours/112.8 miles/10 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-21:20 hours/32.0 miles
Bike-49:54 hours/713.2 miles
Run 67:39 hours/399.1 miles
Total-138:53 hours/1144.3 miles

19 weeks to go.

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Last minute change of plans…

This weekend, I took the bike off the trainer and went outside. Yesterday I had a limited time to ride, but got 30 miles in. Today was the big cycling day. Today was the big group century ride (Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride). I wasn’t sure I could complete 100 miles this early in the season, but this ride has multiple loops returning to the same central spot…so I could bail anytime.

That WAS the plan. Then came the forecast. Low 40’s. Howling winds. Torrential rain. I can hear the rain as a sit here typing this. I feel a chill just listening to it.

I’m still going. It won’t be a century. In fact, I am taking the shortest possible route (27 miles). But I am going specifically because of this forecast.

I am a fair weather cyclist, and I have been very lucky at all my events. Always sunny. Always dry. Always warm. Occasionally windy.

I may not be so lucky on Ironman day.

So, I better get a little bit of experience in bad weather.

It won’t be much worse than today….

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Flashback Fridays 10: Ironman Steelhead 70.3

August 19, 2012


Just the name can send a chill down the spine of a triathlete.


It is the ultimate single day, multi-sport endurance event.


I wanted at least one medal and finishers t-shirt with that word on it…even if it had the “70.3” indicating that it was “just” a half distance Ironman. It is still twice as long as the Olympic distance triathlon that I completed earlier in the year.

The plan after that race was to build towards on Ironman 70.3 in 2013. I would do a Tristar 111 to finish 2012. A 111 is a race that is in between an Olympic and a 70.3. It was a stepping stone event.

It was also a canceled event. That sent me scrambling. Not many events exist between an Olympic and a Half. So, I started looking for another Olympic. Then I started looking for a 70.3

Many of the regional events have already taken place. There was one left…Steelhead in Benton Harbor Michigan. Registration was still open.

Why not?

A few clicks later, and I was all registered. I could combine it with a trip home…I drove right by that town whenever I did so.

Finding a hotel was a tricker matter. Everything was booked up solid. Ended up staying about an hour away from the race site. Not perfect, but it would have to do.

Packing was an experience. A week of staying with the family, but I had to make sure that I didn’t forget the wetsuit, bike, helmet, tri-kit, running shoes, etc. a little nerve wracking going over and over the list.

For these events, you must check in the day before. The weather was beautiful. So was the beach, but Lake Michigan was rough. There was a riptide warning…absolutely no swimming allowed that day. But race day was supposed to be calm. That was good…since the swim at this event had been canceled twice in the last 4 years.

There were M-dot banners as far as the eye could see. Registration was in a pavilion on the beach. It could not be more smooth. Sign a couple of waivers, get your bibs and sticker, get your swim cap and timing chip. Get your shirt.

You then get immediately ejected into the Ironman store…where I spent a lot of money.

I then went to listen to a course preview. Every detail was covered. Turn by turn instructions, notations about tight turns, rumble strips, buoy colors and what they represent, etc etc.

I then put the stickers on my bike and checked it into transition. Finally, I drove the bike course. It was nice. More hills then I expected (with a good one right at the start). And I realized that 56 miles was is a long long distance!

Back to the hotel. Eat. Bed early. Didn’t get much sleep.


Alarm went off at 1:30. Normal morning routine. Had to make sure I had all my gear in the right bag. Parking was off site and there was a shuttle. If I forgot anything, it would be a pain to go back and get it.

Loaded everything in the car, drove to Benton Harbor, parked and got on the shuttle. I was one of the first in transition. Set up my station, got my wetsuit on, triple checked the bike. I was ready.

Sun wasn’t up yet.

Water was 67 degrees…wetsuit legal. There are two possible swim starts depending on the current. I found out where we were supposed to go and started the 1.2 mile walk up the beach.

The water was perfectly still. I walked with a triathlon veteran. This was his 10th time doing this race. He had also completed several full Ironman triathlons. He calmed my jitters. “Just trust in your training and enjoy the day”. I would do just that.

Made it to the start line just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. No clouds. No wind. No waves. Perfect temperature. Great day to race.

There is always a lot of nervous energy and enthusiasm at these events. Lot of music, lot of chatter. National anthem and last minute instructions. Cannon fired and the pros were off. I just watched as wave after wave hit the water. Then it was my turn.

Plan for the wave start was simple. Stay towards the back and don’t get trampled. Horn went off and we all ran off the beach and into the water.

It had started.

Water was beautiful…calm and clear. The buoys were easy to see and in a straight line. Swim about 200 yards out and swim parallel to the beach until the last turn into transition. I found my rhythm and just stuck with it. Fast swimmers from the next wave passed me, but I passed a few from the wave ahead of me, so I was quite happy so far.

Buoy color changed, indicating that I had passed the halfway point. I just kept going and going. Finally saw the turn buoy and headed onto the beach. As we emerged from the water, we crossed a timing mat, and a row of race photographers.

Swim split: 43:43

No wetsuit strippers at this event, so I started working my way out of it as we ran towards T1. Wetsuit off, toweled off, cap off, socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, bib, gloves, sunscreen on. Ran towards the exit and the mount line. Crossed the timing mat and hopped on the bike.

T1 split: 12:16

Had a quick loop on the bike before getting on the main road an the biggest hill of the morning.

I should note, I didn’t have a road or a tri bike for this event. I had a hybrid. Using that was fine for the smaller local events. But I was the only one to have a hybrid at this race. And I did get a few comments…

“Rocking the mountain bike!”

“Keeping it old-school! Keeping it real!”

Yeah, if I were to continue doing this, I would need to get used to a road bike and the skinny tires.

But today, I was old school…and getting passed by everybody.

More photographers heading towards the hill. That hill was tough, but it was right at the start. I pushed my way up that hill. Then the course became never ending rollers. There were 4 aid stations on the course, and I stopped for a breather at all 4. My legs were tired, but the course and the weather stayed perfect. I kept an eye on the watch. I was fully aware of the bike cutoff, and was never in jeopardy of missing it. More rollers. Eventually got back to the monster hill…but going down it this time…and into T2.

Bike split: 3:37:14

Rack the bike. Helmet off. Hat and sunscreen on. Head towards the exit.

T2 split: 9:23

The run was a 2 loop affair through a neighborhood and through the Maytag corporate campus. It wasn’t a pretty run. There was plenty of food and support. Talked to a few interesting and inspiring runners on lap 1. Lap 2 was lonely. I though at times that I was the last one out there. Temperature was climbing and I was getting tired. More food and Gatorade. I could hear the finish area. I was almost there. Another hill (they look bigger towards the end of a race). I just walked this one. I could see the finishers chute. I picked up the pace for the final stretch. Lots of photographers here. A short little sprint as they called my name crossing the line.

Run split: 2:40:32

Finish Time: 7:23:08

I had done it. I was a (half) Ironman. Got the medal and almost cried. It us still one of my absolute favorites medals, and I decided I wanted another. But I wanted one without the “70.3”…


image image image image image

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Training Week #10 (Triathlon Base Training/Marathon Peak Training)

When I signed up for this 30 week training plan, I knew that there were some non-triathlon events that would affect my training. There would be some weeks where I would not be able to complete the workouts. This was one of those weeks. To be honest, I was presently surprised that I completed what I did.

Every 10 years, I need to sit my medical board exams. I need to pass them to keep my job and my licence. The exam last a whole day and covers everything. I had to sit the exam this week. To be honest, I am shocked that I was able to get the training in for the previous 9 weeks, get the studying in, get my sleep and fulfill my work responsibilities (I have to admit…my wife barely sees me…that is something that I must correct now).

With the boards being the focus this week, everything else was secondary. I did not get up early on exam day to workout, and was too tired to do it after. I missed a swim session (at this point, they are the least critical workouts) and a spin session (more important, but not a game breaker at this stage). I was going to make up the swim today, but it is Easter and the pool is closed. Oh well, it is was it is.

today was a beautiful day for a run, and I also tried some electrolyte tablets for the first time. Ended up running 21 miles and feeling strong at the end. I think they helped. I did not plan on a 21 mile run 2 weeks before a marathon, but I just did not want to stop!

Next few weeks will be funky for training as well. First outdoor ride (possible century ride…but likely not) next week, and a marathon the week after (will certainly miss one workout day due to traveling). So, I will plan as best I can, and make sure I don’t let it derail my program long term…

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:15 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-3:00 bike
Sunday-1:30 run

2 hour swim, 4:30 hour bike, 3:30 hour run
Total-11 hours/9 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:45 bike/0:27 run (11.0 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:00 swim/1:02 run (1.5 miles/6.3 miles)
Thursday-3:05 bike/0:27 run (45 miles/3.1 miles)
Friday-0:58 run (6.2 miles)
Saturday-Rest (Board Exam)
Sunday-3:36 run (21.0 miles)

Weekly Total
1:00 swim, 3:50 bike, 6:30 run (% change from week 9: -50%, -20.7%, -3.9%)
1.5 mile swim, 56.0 mile bike, 39.7  mile run (% change from week 9:  -50%, -21.3%, -o.8%)
Total-11:20 hours/97.2 miles/8 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-19:00 hours/28.5 miles
Bike-43:44 hours/626.3 miles
Run 63:56 hours/376.7 miles
Total-126:40 hours/1031.5 miles

20 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 9: The Early Century Rides.

August 4, 2012.

Well, I had a bike, and was trying to figure it out. I was terrified to ride on the roads. I found some maps for some bike trails, but the ones I checked out were awful. The bike shop pointed me towards Elm Creek recreational park and some regional trails. These were amazing! Great paved multiuser trails mostly used for cycling. Some were better then others, some were still being planned. And some older trails were not well marked (a trail would end, and pick up again 3 blocks away with no signs pointing you in the right direction). So, one beautiful day, I decided to go for a long unhurried ride. I would explore as much of the trail system that I could and hope to map out areas I could get in some future training. The plan was simple…ride until my legs fell off.

It was a great day, many (not all) of the trails were great. Eventually, the 15 mile Elm Creak loop would become my usual stomping grounds. The 15 mile out and back to the Coon Rapids dam would be the add on for longer rides. Other trails were rougher and much less enjoyable.

By the time my legs were about to fall off, I had reached mile 85. I had heard of the “century ride” that many cyclist strive to complete at some point. I had been riding a month or so, and I was 15 miles away from this milestone. I had good weather and daylight to spare. Why not? I kept riding.

Damn, that hurt. I was in Elk Creak and there are a bunch of trails, all with poor directional signage. I got lost and it was getting dark. Not good! Eventually found my way back and clocked 104 miles! My first solo century!

Of course, I wanted to follow this up with a “real” century ride (i.e.: an organized century ride). Did some research and found Tour de Tonka.

It was another beautiful day. Over 2000 riders showed up for courses ranging from 16 miles to 101 miles. I lined up in the 100 mile pen and quickly felt out of place. I was the only one with a hybrid instead of a road or tri bike. I also had platform pedals and didn’t have a cycling jersey. Yes, I got a few odd looks.

The ride was beautiful. The course was very hilly. The aid stations were rocking with lots of food and entertainment. Bike tech support was always available. My legs were dying by mile 75. The last 4.5 miles were the worst hills of the course (how evil!). But I finished, and had done something that many cyclists have never accomplished. I still didn’t feel like a cyclist, but I was a little closer.

The walk to the car afterwards was almost impossible. Running after this seemed impossible. It still does. But, that day, I had completed something I never thought possible. I had been doing that a lot, and it was kindof fun…

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Today’s Outdoor Long Run Has Been Canceled…


There are challenges to training in Minnesota…as you can see. I have a century ride coming up in just over one week. A marathon the week after that. I am tapering for the marathon now, and have been able to get 3 outdoor runs in the 20+ mile range (and a fourth just a little short of this), but weather plays havoc with the training.



Cycling is much more of an issue. My bike is still on the trainer. Last year, my first ride of the season was the MN Ironman Bike Ride (last weekend in April). This year, it will likely be the same scenario. The MN Ironman is an organized ride. It has 3 separate courses of different distances, all looping back to a central staging area. If you ride all 3, you have a century ride, but you can ride as much as you like and stop when you choose. Last year, I did the 53 mile loop and called it a day. I would love to do a century this year, but that seems unlikely for the first ride of the season. I guess just getting out there with so many other riders allows me to push a little harder and get a good first ride in to start the season.

Last year, I had upgraded to a road bike from a hybrid. That took some getting used to, and a  crowded group ride was not the place to learn. So, I ended up riding my old hybrid. This year will have a similar theme. I want to start using clipless pedals (had them last year, but couldn’t use them due to an ankle injury…could not unclip…). Again, this likely isn’t the right venue to try something new.

So I will be spinning today on the trainer instead of a long run (I had actually thought that this might be a good day to take the bike out…until I saw this weather report). This is why I tend to focus on fall events. Training for spring events is just a little too challenging…


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Training Week #9 (Triathlon Base Training/Marathon Peak Training)

Last week was supposed to be a recovery week. It turned into the biggest running week of my life. This was supposed to be my last peak training week for my upcoming marathon, but turned into an early taper week instead. I knew that I had a lot more work demands this week then last. I am also cramming for a board exam next week. So, I took training time when I could (which was sometimes a little tight and would end up being cut short). Overall, I still notched 40 miles running, which I am satisfied with.

Next week, the true running taper begins. With boards next weekend, I will simply do my best. After that, I should be able to ramp up the bike. Weather is getting nice enough, that I should be able to get the bike off the trainer and ride outside. That’s when the real bike training begins!

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim, 1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:15 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-2:45 bike
Sunday-1:15 run

2 hour swim, 4:30 hour bike, 3:30 hour run
Total-10 hours/9 activities

What I did:
Tuesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (11.2 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run (1.5 miles/6.2 miles)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:44 run (1.5 miles/10 miles)
Friday-3:04 run (17.6 miles)
Saturday-2:23 bike (35 miles)
Sunday-1:42 bike/0:28 run (25 miles/3.1 miles)

Weekly Total
2:00 swim, 4:50 bike, 6:46 run (% change from week 8: 0%, +25.5%, -41.7%)
3 mile swim, 71.2 mile bike, 40 mile run (% change from week 8:  0%, +24.7%, -39.8%)
Total-13:36 hours/114.2 miles/10 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-18 hours/27 miles
Bike-39:54 hours/570.3 miles
Run 57:26 hours/337 miles
Total-115:20 hours/934.3 miles

21 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 8: MPLS Triathlon

July 14, 2012.

Back to Mars. I was getting used to the trip…

Lifetime Fitness MPLS Triathlon weekend was upon me.

I was used to running events and was prepared to cycle and swim too. I had my gear. Race day weather forecast looked great. I had upgraded to an “Olympic” distance from a sprint. 1.5 kn swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run.

Packet pick-up was at the convention center. Drove down to get my stuff. Pretty routine. Just a little more stuff (bigger timing chip with a velcro band to strap around your leg. Swim cap. Multiple bibs. Yeah, I needed to figure a few things out and fast).

Stayed for the race briefing. Turn by turn guide of the whole course. Made me question what I had gotten myself into. Needed to take a drive down to the venue and check it out. I was familiar with it since I had my open water swim classes on the same beach and the same lake.

But it was all different. The parking lot was fenced off. Bike racks as far as the eye could see. Bleachers were up on the beach. Yep…time to explore.

Found the entrance. Found where I would rack my bike. Found where I would run in from the beach after the swim, and where I would bike out of. Very little space in transition.

Yep, this was a different world all over again.

I went back home and collected together my gear. There was so much more of it. I knew I would forget something.

Tri-suit: check. Wetsuit: check. Goggles/earplugs/swim cap: check. Bike helmet, sunglasses, running shoes, socks, sunscreen, hat. Check.

Almost forgot the bike.

No sleep that night.

Transition opens early. Like 5am early. I was up by two.

I was at the site right when it opened. Got my gear (there was so much!) and walked down to transition. Had to get body marked first. Bib number on my arm, age on my calf…all in magic markers.

Got to my rack. Couldn’t figure out how to place my bike on it. This was a fine start…

Lined up all my stuff. Looked at how others set up their stations and moved everything around. Repeated this a few times. I was trying NOT to look like a newbie. Fail.

Water temp was announced. It was warm and wetsuits would not be permitted. Fine by me…still wasn’t used to that thing.

One last rearrangement and headed to the beach. Then I headed back…just to be sure I could find my spot in the sea of bikes. Once more…back to the beach.

Saw the buoys out on the water for the first time. It wasn’t that bad…looked very doable. Then, I realized those were the markers for the SPRINT course. I looked farther out and I could barely see my buoys. They were far away. Very, very far away. What did I get myself into?

Double checked my start wave and hung out on the beach

Part of the fun is watching the pro’s go first. Amazingly fast start. Then it was time for the age groupers. My wave came up pretty fast. We had to get organized by age group, and then by bib numbers. It was a time trial start (the least stressful way for a newbie to start his first triathlon). We started one at a time…at 3 second intervals. There was a guy at the starting line with a laptop clicking the keyboard to indicate that each of us had started.


In I went. The water was nice and warm. But there was some traffic. Definitely some bumping going on. Took awhile getting the hang of sighting under race conditions. Just look for the next buoy and swim towards it. Harder than it sounds. I reach the first turn buoy…lots of hitting and bumping at the turn. Freaked my out a little but made it around. The second side of the triangle went on forever. I was getting tired, but there were so many lifeguards that I knew I was safe. Just kept plugging along. Another turn, another traffic jam. And I was headed towards the shore.

I was definitely a little wobbly getting out of the water for the run up the beach to transition. Found my station…no problem and started to make the switch. I quickly learned why everyone was wearing their tri-top in the water…because it is impossible to get skin-tight spandex on when you are wet. 10 minute mistake. Lesson learned.

Grabbed my bike and helmet and ran towards “bike out”. Had to pass the “mount line” before getting on. Again, a little crowed and intimidating here, but again, nothing too bad.

It is a beautiful urban bike route and this part of the course seemed to fly by. Up and down the Mississippi and a quick loop around Lake Harriett and I was back in transition. Not much to do between bike and run (helmet off, hat on) and I was off to the exit. Except…I didn’t know where it was. Took me 5 minutes of running in circles before someone pointed me in the right direction. Oops!

The run was two laps around Lake Nokomis (only one for the sprinters). This was going to be a problem. Legs were tired from the bike and it was getting very very warm. Not a good time to be running.

That’s when I bumped into someone from my open water swimming class. We were running at the same general speed and kept each other company for most of the run. Must have taken our minds off everything a little too much. We were about 100 ft from the finish when we looked at each other and realized that we only completed one lap…we had missed the split! So, we backtracked (people hated us for doing that!) and completed our second lap. As we got close to the finish, I could feel a little energy surge. He didn’t. So he told me to run my race. I picked up the pace and was able to finish with a sprint.

I had done it. I was a triathlete!

And I wanted to do it again…


Finish line 3 finish line 2 finish line 1

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Training Week #8 (Triathlon Active Recovery/Marathon Peak Training)

So, this week was my “active recovery week” for my Ironman training. But, it is also peak training time for my upcoming marathon (one more week until my taper starts). And, next week, life and work will not allow me the same amount of training time. So, this became my true peak marathon training week, but I will still log as many miles as possible next week. As you can see, this became a non-recovery recovery week.

I maintained the swim, cut back on the bike (down to the prescribed plan at least) and had my biggest running week…ever. Once the running taper starts, I should be ably to get my bike outside and ramp up the cycling. I have a “century” ride coming up one week pre-marathon. The nice thing about this century ride is that there are multiple loops starting at a central point. So, I can bail anytime. With it being so early in the season and might be my first time outside, I will be very happy with a 50 mile ride.

Although, I have had to modify the training plan for various reasons, I have completed every single workout as planned for the first 8 weeks. I have never dome a training plan before and didn’t know if I could stick to a rigid schedule. Pretty pleased with the results so far…

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim, 1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:15 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-2:00 bike
Sunday-1:00 run

2 hour swim, 3:45 hour bike, 3:15 hour run
Total-9 hours/9 activities

What I did:
Tuesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (11.1 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:00 swim/1:39 run (1.5 miles/10 miles)
Thursday-1:01 bike/1:05 run (15 miles/6.2 miles)
Friday-1:00 swim/2:15 run (1.5 miles/13.2 miles)
Saturday-2:05 bike/1:41 run (31 miles/10 miles)
Sunday-4:26 run (24 miles)

Weekly Total
2:00 swim, 3:51 bike, 11:36 run (% change from week 7: 0%, -14.4%, +44.1%)
3 mile swim, 57.1 mile bike, 66.5 mile run (% change from week 7: 0%, -13.5%, +41.5%)
Total-17:27 hours/126.6 miles/11 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-16 hours/24 miles
Bike-35:04 hours/499.1 miles
Run 50:29 hours/297 miles
Total-101:33 hours/820.1 miles

22 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 7: Transitioning to Triathlon

June 2012.

I didn’t stay a runner for long. Early on (around the time of my first race) I was hearing about the benefits of cross training. The seed was planted to buy a bike. By the time I did my group training run for my 2nd race (half marathon). I recall a discussion about trying a triathlon. I was buying my wetsuit the same day as my group training run for my full marathon (3rd race).

I don’t really recall how I caught the bug, but it evolved quickly after I started running. The “Why can’t I?” approach was in full swing.

I thought I would take a bit of time this week to fill in a few of the gaps between my inaugural race and my inaugural triathlon.

The first step was the bike. I think this came up because it was advised that I see a physical therapist at the RunSmart program to evaluate gait/shoes etc in an effort to reduce injury risk. The therapist was a cyclist and there was talk about the benefit of cross training and decreased injury. I had a bike growing up (3-speed, rarely used it). I figured it would be easy. He suggested a cycling store close to my home.

They immediately recommended a road bike. Got on, and almost killed myself! Skinny tires and hard to control. Being hunched over also felt like I was careening to my doom. They advised that I try a hybrid instead (“It’s not TOO grandfatherly”). Well, still felt like I was gonna kill myself, but more slowly. There was more stability, more weight, wider tires. Decided to go with that.

First few rides around the neighborhood were an adventure, but I eventually started to get the feel for it. I tried to find safe road to ride on (i.e.: no traffic and wide shoulders). Not much around here. I started trying to track down cycling maps and came across some awful trails. Then I came across the Coon Rapids Dam. Some nice bike trails! That connected to regional paved trails and Elk Creek recreational park (20 miles of paved trails with no traffic!) I started doing a few laps. It hurt…a lot! I found that I really REALLY hated cycling!

Well, I decided that I would not keep it up if I wasn’t training for an event. The company that put together my first race had a “Duathlon” late summer (run/bike/run). I signed up. Then I started thinking “triathlon”. I used to swim a lot as a kid. I was 2/3rd of the way there, and swimming would likely be my strength. A few google searches later, I found the MPLS (Minneapolis) Triathlon. They had a sprint distance that I figured that I could handle in July. “Why not?”. I signed up before I even jumped into the water. Good thing too. I got a swimsuit and found my way to the community center pool. Two lengths of the pool and I was done. 88 lengths was a mile. I had better get better at this…

Took a few deep breaths and tried again. By the end of the hour I was getting a little more comfortable in the water.

Now I needed gear (and to figure out what gear) and a chance to jump into a lake.

This was getting too complicated.

More google.

OK, I found a triathlon shop. Dropped in for a visit. Needed a “tri-suit”. A skin-tight thingamagigger that is like a 2 piece bathing suit which dries quickly and has a small cycling pad that doesn’t weight you down during a swim or hinder you when running.

Yep, I was back on Mars (home away from home).

Got the basic gear and asked about open water training. They pointed me to a formal class and a series of open water clinics. I took advantage of both. Quickly learned that I would likely need a wetsuit (lakes can get very cold!). Back to the triathlon store (…and back to Mars). Trying on wetsuits is not fun, especially when you are sweaty (which happens on muggy summer afternoons after a 23 mile training run…who knew?)

Decided to go sleeveless (sleeves just too claustrophobic and restrictive).

Off to the open water classes and clinics. Learned a lot about entering and exiting, drafting, spotting, and not freaking out in green water. Learned that I am so blind that I could not see buoys, kayaks, or the shoreline without my glasses (which you can’t wear with swim goggles). I once swam back to the wrong beach. Whoops!

I have never worn contacts…didn’t want to start now. I finally discovered goggles with vision correction. Sweet! I could see shoreline! That was so cool!

Laps around Elm Creak were getting a little easier. I was more comfortable in the water.

I was signed up for a sprint triathlon…

Of course, they also offered a longer “Olympic Distance” triathlon.

“Why not?”

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