Monthly Archives: July 2014

Training Week #24 (Peak Training Week)

Peak training is here, and I have completed another really big training week with a lot of milestones. This was my second 22+ hour training week in a row. This is likely a little too much to carry forward for 3 more weeks, but I do want to keep it above 20 hours/week until the taper starts.

I reached 3000 total miles of training (when I saw that I was 0.3 miles short of this milestone, I did a quick jog on the treadmill to get the total up to 3000!). I also crossed the 2000 mile of cycling benchmark. I completed another century ride and another 20+ mile run (both will be routine weekly workouts until I start to taper). Finally, I crushed my 5k PR with a time of 22:49 (beating my old record by 40 seconds)!

Overall, a great week, but the end is in sight, and I feel like I am quickly running out of time…

The Plan:

Monday-Rest
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:15 run
Wednesday-1:00 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:30 bike
Friday-1:30 run
Saturday-5:00 bike/1:00 run
Sunday-0:45 bike/2:15 run

2 hour swim, 8:30 hour bike, 6:30 hour run
Total-17 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:46 bike/0:29 run (10 miles/3.1 miles)
Tuesday-1:30 swim (2 miles)
Wednesday-1:09 bike/0:23 run (15 miles/3.1 miles)
Thursday-3:45 run (21.1 miles)
Friday-2:03 swim (2.5 miles)
Saturday-7:37 bike (115.1 miles)
Sunday-1:44 swim/2:36 run (2.55 miles/15.3 miles)

Weekly Total
5:17 swim, 9:32 bike, 7:13 run (% change from week 23: +48.9%, -21.6% , -0.9%)
7.05 mile swim, 140.1 mile bike, 42.6 mile run (% change from week 23: +56.7%, -21.1%, +3.4%)

Total-22:02 hours/189.75 miles/10 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-59:02 hours/86.0 miles
Bike-145:48 hours/2127.9 miles
Run-134:01 hours/786.1 miles

Total-338:51 hours/3000 miles

6 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 23: Committing to Ironman Wisconsin

September 16, 2013.

Click.

Refresh.

11:58 am.

Click.

Refresh.

“Opening Soon”

Click.

A week had passed since Ironman 70.3 Muskoka.

Click.

For two years, I had been undecided about whether or not I should do this…or could do this.

“Opening Soon”

I had dreamed about it. I have had nightmares too. Lots of uncertainty and doubt…

11:59am

This last year had been a test. Four marathon, two century rides, multi-day endurance events…

Click.

…and three Ironman 70.3.

Refresh.

Kansas proved I could take the heat. Racine proved that I could take the waves. And Muskoka proved that I could handle the toughest bike course.

“Opening Soon”

I had passed every challenge. But, here I am, at my computer, hoping that I have the chance to register and still wondering if this such a good idea.

12:00

Will I be able to stick to the training?

Click.

Am I really an athlete now? Or am I kidding myself?

Refresh.

Why am I doing this?

“Ironman Wisconsin-Registration Open-Click Here”

I can’t think about this anymore. Time to make a choice…

.

..

…click.

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Race Report: Torchlight 5K

July 23, 2014.

This race wasn’t on the radar, for several reasons. First of all…no bling. I run for bling. Secondly, this was a Wednesday evening race. I work Wednesday nights. Finally, I am in peak training for an Ironman Triathlon. I don’t have time for local 5k races…

However, this event is sponsored by my company. We get deeply discounted registration rates, 2 running shirts (event shirt and company team shirt), admittance to our own company VIP tent at the finished with an amazing catered dinner. Over 900 employees and family members were going to be participating. But, more importantly, several office mates were running it. Some are experienced runners that helped and nurtured me when I started to run. Others are new to running and have told me that I am their inspiration for running. It was the first race ever for one of these runners. The opportunity to run together is rare and fleeting. I really could not pass up this opportunity. So, I checked with out clinic manager and was able to change my evening shift for a day shift and would be able to leave early enough to participate.

I was surprised to learn later that the race was timed (I thought that this would be an untimed “fun run”). I set what I thought was a strong PR in the 5k last year at 23:29. I never thought that I would challenge that PR. However, I started thinking about it earlier this year. I had qualified for the Houston Marathon with a very fast 10k. I registered for a 5k for that same weekend. There was no qualifying standard for the 5k, but you would be given front coral placement if you could submit a 5k time under 23:00. That was somewhat close to my PR. Maybe I could pull that off. My co-workers encouraged me to go for it, so I figured that I would try. But, I realistically figured that it was highly improbable that my PR would fall…much less by 30 seconds.

Race day came, and the weather was perfect. We carpooled after work. The race was point-to-point. Our company offered shuttle busses so that we could park at the finish and get shuttled to the starting line.

The Torchlight 5k follows the route of the Torchlight parade that same evening (the race is right before the parade). So, the streets were already lined with spectators for the first mile of the race. The entire course is in downtown Minneapolis. The front wave is for runners who qualified for this race as the Minnesota 5k championship. After that, it was self seeded. I placed myself in the 7 min/mile coral. I got there just as the National Anthem was starting (better then my last event…I was standing in the porta potty line when the race started).

When the gun went off, everyone around me flew. It was a much faster pace then I was used to. A quarter of a mile into the race, I already figured that I could never maintain this pace. I found another runner in front of me who was running at a consistent 7:15/mile pace and I just locked in on him. I would just follow him as long as I could.

Running along the parade route was great! Lots of crowd support and the first mile flew by. I kept checking my watch and was maintaining a 7:15 pace (exactly where I wanted to be). Just a matter of hanging in there. My legs were already screaming and my breathing was labored. My lungs were on fire.

We turned off the parade route and the crowd support vanished. I didn’t care. I had my pacer and would hang on him at all cost. First aid station came up and I had a sip of water. Stomach was not happy with this, so I poured it over my head instead. The 2 mile mark hit. Pace was stable, and I was dying. There is no way I can maintain this for another mile. I may not get sub 23:00, but I could still get a PR if I can maintain just a little longer and then not fade too dramatically at the finish.

Second aid station. Small sip of water is all my stomach would tolerate, so I wore most of it again. Two and a half miles down. Pace still stable. Still not sure how I am still standing, but I am still locked in. We get to a downhill leading to the Stone Arch Bridge…and the final stretch. My pacer is still just ahead of me. Pace is generally still in the 7:15/mile range with a little bit of fluctuation. Maybe I can pull this off. Maybe…

Legs burning. Lungs burning more. Pacer slowing down and coasting in for the last quarter mile. The timing is too tight…I have to leave my guide behind…and I pass him. Coming off the bridge for the final 0.1 mile, I hit very uneven cobblestone. I have to slow a little and be very careful about my footing. I see the finish line and glance at my watch. It’s going to be close…

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Finish Time: 22:49 (40 second improvement over my previous PR)

Average Pace: 7:21 min/mile (8.57 mph)

Finish Position: 386th of 4955 runners (no age group statistics available).

Huge PR for such a short race. Second PR in under two weeks (first PR being the Muncie 70.3-beat the old record by over 52 minutes).

I practically collapsed across the finish line. I hold onto the railing for a few moments as I try to breath. A few moments later, I start walking thru the finishers chute. I ignore the pretzels, granola bars, fruit, but do grab a couple of salted nut rolls (that was a mistake). I get some fluids and find a spot near the finishers chute to watch for my friends. Soon, one crosses the finish, then another. We work our way to the VIP tent to wait for the others. My appetite has returned in force. I line up for salad, pasta salad, grilled vegetables, wrap sandwiches, and fruit and cheese plates. Just a wonderful spread…
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After a nice hour of food and  comradery we headed home. On the ride back, we noticed fireworks in the distance. It was coming from the Anoka county fair. As we got closer, the fireworks were directly in front of us and lighting up the sky for  over 5 minutes. It was a rather surreal ending to a great evening, and a new personal best…

Edit: After posting on Facebook about my two PR’s in two weeks at opposite ends of the racing spectrum (5k and 70.3), I received this reply: “That’s how it works. My favorite fitness quote…’A rising tide raises all ships’. Specificity has it’s place, but just getting more run fit, more miles, works wonders.” That is an astute observation and seems to be the case here. I have done very little speed work, but a lot of miles and long slow runs. Seems to be paying off…

 

 

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Two Thousand Cycling Miles…

Twenty-four weeks into my training program, I hop onto my bike trainer for an early morning spinning session. During this rather uneventful workout, I pass the 2000 mile cycling mark. It seems a little surreal to me. Two years ago, I rode 1000 miles…in a whole year. Last year, I bumped it up to 1250. This year, I should pass 2500 miles in a 30 week training program. I am watching my numbers pile up, and am amazed that I have been able to stick with the plan for this long. Hoping this means that I have logged the hours and the work to be successful on race day. Until then, I is fun watching the odometer climb, and doing things I never thought possible…

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Five Days In Verona (aka: “The Hills of Madison County”)

Background:

The climb into Mt. Horeb(le). Thee three wicked sisters. Garfoot Road. Observatory Drive. Verona. The Helix. These are all just names on a sheet of paper. They have no meaning to me. But they are all iconic locations on the Ironman Wisconsin course. I have not seen them, but everyone tells me that it would be wise to experience them before race day. The drive home from Muncie will bring me thru Madison, and I had made arrangements to stay a few days. The plan was simple…stay a few days and punish myself as much as i can. The bike course is a basic “stick and loop”. The “stick” is the road that connects Madison to Verona (and the main bike course).  It is about 15 miles long. The second half of this road (Whalen Road) is all hills and is quite brutal. The main part of the bike course is a 42 mile “loop” which is extremely technical and hilly. On race day, I will ride the stick to Verona, complete 2 loops and ride back to Madison for the run. On this trip, I want to ride the hilly part of the stick at least once (out and back), and the loop as often as possible. The run is a 2 loop affair in downtown Madison and on the University of Wisconsin campus. Completing one loop (13.1 miles) would give me a good feel for the layout and challenges of this course. I had a few days, and this promised to be the most intense week of my training.

 

Day One:

This day should not even count. I had just finished my Ironman 70.3 in Muncie, Indiana. I debated whether to drive that evening to Verona WI or stay put and drive in the morning. It was fairly early and I figured that I might as well get going. I had a reservation at the Super 8, 1/2 block off the IM bike course. I packed my gear and hit the road. The weather and traffic were fine. I could not eat right after the event (my stomach could handle fluids and a couple of bites of food), but I was suddenly starving for some junk food. I stopped at a “Steak & Shake” (we don’t have this chain back home). Tasty burgers and fries (haven’t had fries in ages) and a big chocolate milkshake with whipped cream. Even found room for a cookie. After that, I was on my way again. I was making great time, and reached the Chicago Skyway by 7pm. I got through downtown fairly easily, and hit the tollway towards Rochester. That’s when it all fell apart. There was massive construction for about 60 miles. The lanes were limited, narrow with no shoulders. As always, everyone in Chicago drove like maniacs and I was white knuckling it at the posted 45 mph speed limit. That’s when the torrential thunderstorms hit. It was dark, the rain obscured the lane markings and I could barely see the hood of my car at times. I finally reached an Oasis and pulled over (after an 18 mile stretch with no shoulders or off ramps!) I had to wait about 3 hours for the storm to blow over. At that point, despite endless coffee, I was exhausted. Rockford was a few miles away and that city has a ton of hotels. I would make the rest of the journey in the morning. Except, none of the hotels had vacancies. They also informed me that the next 2 towns were also booked solid. My next hope for vacancies would be Madison (where I already had a reservation). Reluctantly, I got more coffee and kept going. The rest of the way wasn’t too bad. The construction was done, and so were the storms. I reached Madison, but got lost about half a dozen times trying to find Verona, and then my hotel. I finally rolled in at 3 am, by this point, I had been up 26 hours (and had completed a Half-Ironman in that time). I checked in an collapsed into bed…

Workout Total: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike,  13.1 mile run.

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Day 2:
I slept in late and got a real late start. I got going around 11 am. It took me awhile to get my bearings, but the loop was literally next door. I had a map in my back pocket and started on my way. After a couple of turns, I made the wrong turn onto Whalen Road. This road was very hilly and I could not find the next turn. Finally, I figured out I was going the wrong way. I was hoping to be riding “the loop”, but by a happy coincidence, I was riding “the stick” (which I was hoping to ride at some point anyways). I rode about 8 miles out and back getting the feel of the worst the stick had to offer. Once I got back, I started out on my first look at the 42 mile loop. At every intersection, I had to stop and look at my map. I had heard that there were green arrows giving directions along the loop. They were usually there. Unfortunately, this was not 100% accurate, so I kept referring back to my map. As soon as I left Verona, the hills started. I was in granny gear and pushing as hard as I could…and these were the “rollers”, not the big hills! As I was rolling along, I found that I was having a harder and harder time. The gears were not cooperating. It eventually became clear that my bike would not hold the lower gears and that I could not go on. I turned around and limped back into town feeling defeated and overwhelmed. I found a bike shop that was open on Sunday and made my way down. They found a broken part on the gear shifter and were able to get me rolling again. At this point, I was tired so I made no attempt to ride again. But I did drive the loop to get a feel for the course layout. I would be back tomorrow.

Workout total: 33.6 mile bike.

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Day 3:

Well, this trip has been humbling so far. But, my bike was again in good working order, I have had a good night’s sleep and I set off. This time, I didn’t make a wrong turn on Whalen Road and I stay on the course. I do the little tour of Verona and head onto County Highway G, where I started having issues yesterday. The course seems flatter and easier then the last time (or course, my lower gears are functional now). I make the turn onto Messerschmidt Road (where I called it quits yesterday) and then onto a long stretch of Hwy 92 (beautiful, scenic, great condition, but fairly hilly). The end of that hwy is the infamous climb into Mt. Horeb. I think of it as the worst hill on the course. It may not be the steepest, but I was in granny gear early, and it just keeps going and going and going. Finally, I hit the plateau, and the ride thru town is quite flat. Leaving town, I hit Witte Road. When I turned onto this road, I felt like I did as a kid at the top of the big hill of a roller coaster. My stomach sank as I went barreling down the hill, then up and down a few rollers, eventually having to slam it into granny gear to climb the next hill. This pattern went on for the whole road. It has to be the funniest piece of cycling asphalt that I have ever seen. What a blast! Top speed was almost 40 mph! I then head on down Garfoot, which is similar-not as hilly but has a lot of curves. There is also some loose gravel making the ride treacherous (at two intersections, there are stretches of pure gravel and these are downright dangerous…even at low speed!) From there, I entered Cross Plaines and another ride thru a quaint little town. There are a couple of dangerous and rough railroad crossings, but otherwise, an easy ride. From there, I passed onto Stagecoach Road. I had a couple of loose filling when I started down this road, but they fell out on Stagecoach road. Easily the worst road conditions on the loop. Shortly after that came the Three Evil Sisters (Old Salk Pass, Timber Lane, and Midtown Road). None are as bad as the climb into Mt Horeb, but the combo is arguably worse. Old Sauk isn’t too steep, but it is long and winding. You cannot see the top which makes it worse. Timber is short and steep, but the easiest of the three. Midtown is also short, but seems to be the steepest of the three. In granny gear, it is a struggle to keep up enough speed to keep the bike upright. After that, there is a long and pleasant downhill stretch heading back into Verona.

I wanted to keep on going and do a second loop, but my bike was still having minor issues and I headed back to the bike shop for a little bit of fine tuning. An hour later, I was back on my bike and did the loop again. It seemed a little easier and less intimidating the second time around…even though my legs were mush. Once complete, I racked my bike and went out for some carbs before bed.

Workout Total: 93.8 mile bike (I got lost a few times…)

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Day 4:

The weather didn’t cooperate today. It was very windy, making the downhills quite dangerous. They were predicting rain late morning and early afternoon, so I sneaked in a morning ride of the loop and decided that was enough cycling for the day. I did have a scare on Midtown Road. As I was making the climb, I was frantically gearing down. I suddenly realized that I was actually gearing up. I figured this out just as I was forced to stop pedaling and almost fell. I was lucky enough to get one foot unclipped in time, but I  had to walk the rest of the way up that hill. After that scare, it seemed like a good time to check out the run course. I headed into Madison and Monona Terrace (home of the Ironman transition). Once parked, it took me a while to get a feel for the layout. After 30 minutes, I figured out that “run out” was less then 50 feet from where I parked. Map in hand, I set out for a run. The course, took me on a lap around the Wisconsin Legislature before leaving downtown via a pedestrian commuter path (took me awhile to find this) and onto the UW campus. The course is 13.1 miles long and will be repeated twice on race day. I figured that one time around the loop would be plenty. The route snaked it’s way thru campus and fraternity row. It includes a long stretch along a lakefront walking path and a few blocks on State Street (where all the trendy shops and restaurants  are found). The only really hilly part is “Observatory Drive” which is just crazy hilly. After that, I made my way back towards the legislature and my car. Storms were threatening for most of the run, but held off until after I was done.

Workout Total: 41.4 mile bike, 14.0 mile run.

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Day 5:

I was leaving town this morning and had to be checked out of my room by 11am. I could get one last ride of the loop if I started early enough. It was a cool morning, with no wind and it was beautifully sunny. I rode the whole loop without looking at the map one. I could anticipate every turn and every climb. Still a brutal course, but familiarity does make it easier. My legs were jell-o and I was glad this was my last ride. I successfully climbed Midtown Road, so I go a little bit of redemption. After a very nice final ride, I got back to the hotel in time to shower and load up the car before checkout. I then headed home feeling that I had accomplished my goals.

Workout Total: 41.6 mile bike.

Five Day Total: 1.8 mile swim, 266.4 mile bike, 27.1 mile run. (22:51 hours)

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*I know, Madison is a city, not a county. Madison hosts IM Wisconsin and is home of the swim and run legs, but not the bike. The whole event takes place in Dane County. But I am using some artistic latitude here so deal with it…

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Training Week #23 (Madison Boot Camp Training Week)

Although it is too early to be peaking, I did peak training this week (23 training hours…I will not be repeating that training intensity again). Coming back from my Half-Ironman in Muncie Indiana, I drove right thru the site of Ironman Wisconsin. I took most of the week off so that I could spend a few days to train on the actual bike and run course. Since I had nothing else to do, and I was taking time off work to do it, I did a lot of training. The details of my time in Verona will be a separate post, but I toured the bike loop 4 times and in am very familiar with the layout and the challenges. This was easily the most important week in my training program and I am pleased with the results. I know what I am up against, and I know what I must work on. I have 4 training weeks to go and I feel confident that I will be ready for the challenges ahead.

The Plan:

Monday-Rest
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:15 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:30 bike
Friday-1:30 run
Saturday-5:00 bike/0:45 run
Sunday-0:45 bike/2:00 run

2 hour swim, 8:00 hour bike, 6:00 hour run
Total-16 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-6:18 bike (93.8 miles)
Tuesday-2:56 bike/2:30 run (41.9 miles/14.0 miles)
Wednesday-2:56 bike (41.8 miles)
Thursday-1:29 swim (2.0 miles)
Friday-Rest
Saturday-4:13 run (24.0 miles)
Sunday-2:04 swim/0:34 run (2.5 miles/3.2 miles)

Weekly Total
3:33 swim, 12:10 bike, 7:17 run (% change from week 22: +204.0%, +73.0% , +96.8%)
4.5 mile swim, 177.5 mile bike, 41.2 mile run (% change from week 22: +150%, +62.0%, +83.9%)

Total-23:00 hours/223.2 miles/8 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-53:45 hours/78.95 miles
Bike-136:16 hours/1987.8 miles
Run-126:48 hours/743.5 miles
Total-316:49 hours/2810.25 miles

7 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 22: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

September 7, 2013

This was my last triathlon of the year. It would also be the hardest.

It was a 2 day drive just to get there. The only reason I could justify it was that I could combine it with a trip home to see the family.

I was the hilliest course of the year…by far. Official bike elevation 2660 feet. Garmin bike elevation was over 4000 feet. On a 56 mile course. This would be a brutal challenge!

It would also be my biggest test. Registration for the 2014 Ironman Wisconsin was scheduled to open the next day. If I could handle this bike course, then it would likely be ready for Wisconsin the next year.

The race was held at the Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. Transition was in their front parking lot. I was able to stay at the resort which made life really easy. I arrived, parked, checked into the hotel, crossed the hall and checked in for the triathlon, went a couple doors down for the Ironman Store and the orientation talk. The optional pre-race buffet was right there too. Hopped on to the elevator and went to my room.

The next day, I racked the bike in the front parking lot and drove the bike course. It was very hilly…and amazingly beautiful! It was your basic lollipop course. Ride the stick out, do a loop (in this instance, the loop was a lap around the lake of bays) and then ride the stick back.

I checked out the swim and run as well. The lake was pristine and crystal clear. There wasn’t a ripple on the surface of the water. Water was cool, but a sleeveless wetsuit would do the job. The run was a little dull. A 4 mile run down a highway into town and then 4 miles back. The rest of the course was through Huntsville and was quite lovely.

Weather was forecasted to be practically ideal. I little cool for the bike, perfect for the run. Sunny. No wind. After all the weather issues this year, this was a nice change of pace.

Race morning arrived. Weather was as promised. I went out the front door, walked 20 yards and was in transition. I got my area set and went back to my room. I had some breakfast while getting on my wetsuit and watching TV. I could get used to this!

When the race start was approaching, I took the 5 minute walk to swim start. It was another in-water wave start. Again, it was a little cool, even with the wetsuit, but I would warm up quickly enough.

The horn went off and I found my rhythm. It was so nice to be able to see the bottom of the lake and not feel like you were in a washing machine! The last leg of the swim went into the marina and there was the smell of gas and oil. Otherwise, a beautiful swim…

Swim Split: 44:10

Yay! Wetsuit strippers! (Boo! They punched a hole in my wetsuit!). Then, there was a long run to T1. Ashphalt path, gravel, uphill. That took awhile. Once I got there, took a little extra time since I needed to get some warmer gear.

T1 Split: 14:28

I feared the bike. This was the make or break leg for me and I knew it would be grueling! But, it was also just so beautiful that it made it rather serene. The birds were out and singing. The sun was bright. I hated seeing the lake…it meant that I had gone as far downhill as I could go and it was time to climb again. Many of those climbs were grueling. I was frequently standing while peddling in granny gear (had not done that all season…even on the “dam(n)” hill in Kansas!) It was also quite technical. Many downhills ended at a turn, so you had to slow down for the turn then grind your was up the next hill. The course was also 2.5 miles too long (extra time was allowed for this). It doesn’t seem like much, but after 56 hilly miles, 2.5 extra hilly miles are not easy. I was relieved to see that I survived the bike…

Bike Split: 3:42:27

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Uneventful transition.

T2 Split: 7:58

The run was a mile out of the resort, 4 miles highway (was getting a little warm to run…especially with bright sunlight and no shade) before doing a scenic 3 mile loop through downtown Huntsville and heading back. The run was not as hilly as the bike, but was far from flat. Overall, it was a good run considering the bike ride I just survived.

Run Split: 2:24:52

Final Result: 7:14:05

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Post race meal was amazing. So much great food, I could barely finish!

Afterwards, I headed to the room and had a shower. I met a online friend for the first time. We were virtually introduced by my cousin about a year and a half earlier. We have a lot in common. We have both overcome significant weight issues and have changed from sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle to one that is very fit and active. He is a real runner…he has an amazing level of dedication and training. He also has phenomenal finish times at all distances and has evolved into an Ultramarathoner as well. He has been my inspiration and a huge source of support over the past year and a half…especially during my injury and recovery. I finally got a chance to meet Rod and his partner in person as they came up from Toronto to meet me post race.

A great night of good food and fellowship followed as we swapped war stories well into the evening.

Rod

With this finish, I became a rated ironman athlete. 1574/4310 in my age group (U.S.) and 4541/10105 worldwide.

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Overall, this was a great way to end the triathlon season and give me a good shot of confidence heading into 2014.

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Training Week #22 (Half Ironman Week)

Before I even decided to compete in Ironman Wisconsin, I knew I would be competing in the Muncie 70.3. It was the last Ironman 70.3 event in driving distance. When I signed up for Wisconsin, I picked a training plan and found that there was a 70.3 as a part of the plan. I pulled out the calendar and Muncie landed just one day off from where the plan called for it. Perfect coincidence! Driving to Muncie also brings me right through Madison, so I could easily stay in Madison for a few days to train on the bike and run course. Perfect!

The Muncie race report will be a separate post, as well as my 4 days in Madison. But, let’s just say that my race was a huge confidence boost, and my first day in Madison was an absolute disaster…

 

The Plan:

Monday-Rest
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-0:30 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-0:40 run
Saturday-0:15 bike/0:20 run
Sunday-Half-Ironman

1:30 hour swim, 2:00 hour bike, 2:30 hour run plus race
Total-6:00 hours/9 activities plus race.

What I did:
Monday-0:45 bike/0:28 run (10 miles/3.1 miles)
Tuesday-0:57 run (6.2 miles)
Wednesday-0:45 bike (10 miles)
Thursday-Rest (travel)
Friday-0:29 OWS (0.6 miles)
Saturday-0:41 swim/2:58 bike/2:16 run (1.2 miles/56 miles/13.1 miles)
Sunday-2:34 bike (33.6 miles)

Weekly Total
1:10 swim, 7:02 bike, 3:41 run (% change from week 21: -66.0%, -25.4% , -25.1%)
1.8 mile swim, 109.6 mile bike, 22.4 mile run (% change from week 21: -60%, -15.7%, -29.3%)

Total-11:53 hours/133.8 miles/9 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-50:12 hours/74.45 miles
Bike-124:06 hours/1810.3 miles
Run-119:31 hours/702.3 miles
Total-293:49 hours/2587.05 miles

8 weeks to go.

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Race Report: Ironman 70.3-Muncie

July 12, 2014.

Background:

This race was a big deal. It was a really big deal.

For the last 3 years, I have been slowly working my way towards Ironman Wisconsin. It has become an obsession for the last 22 weeks. I have been training really really hard, and my short course speed has dramatically improved. My long course results haven’t budged. My first ever marathon (18 weeks after I purchased my first pair of running shoes) is still my second fastest time. If you look at my 70.3 results (in order), they are:

Steelhead: 7:23:08

Kansas: 7:06:23

Racine: 7:22:18

Muskoka: 7:14:05

There was an improvement from Steelhead to Kansas, but I could not sustain it.

I know that I should be happy just to finish (and I was). But, a full Ironman is to double the distance in 17 hours. You do not get extra time for being in an early wave.  To calculate an approximate IM finish time, it is suggested that you double your average 70.3 time and add 1 hour. That is the best case scenario. For me, those estimates never work. I am always slower in the longer races. So, let’s be conservative and say I can finish a 70.3 in 7 1/2 hours. When estimating my full IM time, it would be 16 hours. That is dangerously close to getting pulled off the course. If I was having a bad day, bad weather, bike mechanical or anything else, then I would have no chance.

I needed a PR. I needed to prove to myself that the training was paying off. I needed a confidence boost.

Muncie is flat and made for speed. The lake is completely calm. The bike is on a flat closed highway. The run is a little hilly. If I could not PR here then I was in trouble.

Minimum goal for this event was under 7:00. I was hoping he to go under 6:45. Sub-6:30 was a dream.

 

Pre-Race:

This is the final Ironman 70.3 that is within driving distance and it was about 750 miles away. I drove up the day before the expo, and got to the expo the next morning. It was your typical IM event. They had a bunch of tents staked out in a park by the swim start. It was a beautiful day. I figured out the parking situation for the next morning (one lot was close by, and 2 lot that were further out…the near one would be filled early and would open at 4:30 am). Then, I headed to the registration tent. This is an IM well oiled machine. Reviewed my demographics, signed the waiver, got my bib/bike sticker/swim cap, then off to get the timing chip and then the swag (shoulder bag, tech shirt) and we get ejected right into the merchandise tent. I contained myself (a little). I got a t-shirt with all the participants name on it, a hat, a pint glass and a coffee mug. I then check out the exhibitors before going to the race-briefing to go over the logistics of the race.

I then decide to jump in for a swim. I have had little opportunity to do any open water swim practice this year, and there is a small area that is open to the public. I see a lot of IM swim caps out there. I complete 0.6 miles (half the distance) before packing it in. The water is warm, green and calm. It would likely be wetsuit legal on race morning (just barely). I then finish up by driving the bike and run course. The bike course has a 8 mile stretch out of the park with 2 miles on extremely rough roads. They tried to fill in all the potholes, but it was still terrible. I would have to be very careful on this stretch. This brought us to highway 35. This was the main “loop” of the course. The highway would be completely closed to traffic the next day and was about 10 miles long. We would complete 2 out and back rides on this road. Being a highway, the road conditions were much better, the road was wide, straight, and pretty flat. There were some small hills, but it was the flattest course I had ever seen. The run was hillier then expected. It was just non-stop small rollers. There would be 2 aid stations on the bike course (and we would hit twice each), and 6 on the run course (that we would also see twice). All aid stations would have Ironman Perform as the only sports drink (that my stomach can’t tolerate-so I would have to bring my own).  All run stations would have ice and half will hand out cold wet sponges. After I was done with recon, I went to the Olive Garden for some carbs, and headed off to bed.

 

Race Morning:

I was up at 1:30 am the next morning. I got all set up, checked out of the hotel, grabbed some breakfast and headed to the venue. I was the first one there, and got a parking spot about 100 yards from transition! Perfect!

My swim wave was one of the last ones to go, and I had over an hour from close of transition to me starting to race. So, I left all my swim gear in the car and set up my bike and run gear. Water was announced at 74.5F…wetsuit legal. I opted to wear a sleeveless. The water was plenty warm without the wetsuit but it makes me faster and I wanted to be competative today. I also have not worn a wetsuit all year (so much for not trying anything new on race day), and I know I will be wearing it in Madison.

The forecast was questionable. It would be overcast with storms to the west which may or may not get to us. Also, there was a chance of severe weather to the north. The swim would be fine. But some storms could hit by 11 am. Lightning would be bad. Rain would be better on the run then bike. Just had to be prepared for anything. Once transition was closed, I went to the car, got in the wetsuit, and headed down to the beach.

 

The Swim:

I had a lot of time to hang out. I got a practice swim (first with the wetsuit), then found my coral and waited. It would be an in-water swim start. Go under the swim start archway (a wire that registers your chip info is buried in the sand) and wait in a coral. Once the previous wave is released, we then wade into the water. Five minutes between waves. Each wave has it’s own swim cap (ours was white). When we wade in, I stay towards the back. I try to avoid as much of the chaos as I can with a wave start. The siren went off and we were on our way. There was some contact fot the first 100 yards or so, then we got spaced out a bit.  Water was very calm and I could find a rhythm with ease. I jockeyed for position with other white caps until the first turn buoy. Then I noticed a few hot pink caps, then all hot pink caps. That is from the wave ahead of mine. I had caught up to many swimmers who had a 5 minute head start. It was a bit of a confidence boost. I also saw a few (very few ) light blue caps (those were from the wave behind me). The pink to blue ratio was very favorable. I also started seeing, green and light pink (from waves even further ahead of mine…sweet).  I then ended up behind someone who was doing the breast stroke the whole way. The issue I have with that is the whip kick…takes up a lot of room and can be painful on contact. As I tried to go around, his kick caught me in the upper arm. I was fine, but it was inches from my broken rib. I was a little shaken up, but passed him and found my rhythm again. By the end, I was struggling a bit. I am just not used to a wetsuit and will need to practice some more. Eventually, my hand hit some sand just underneath me. I stood up and crossed the timing mat. I didn’t realize it, but I had just Got a PR on the swim…by one second!

Swim Split-40:46 (old PR 40:47-IM 70.3 Kansas). 2:06/100m pace.

 

Transition 1:

I don’t do transitions fast. I try too at sprints, but don’t bother at longer events. I got out of the water and went to the wetsuit strippers, then up (barefoot) a long gravel path to T1. They carpeted the path, but the carpet was old and thin. There was some protection, but not enough. Came down hard on a rock on my left heel and could barely walk on it by the time I reach transition. Sat down, dried my feet, got socks, cycling shorts, cycling shoes, helmet, gloves, sunglasses, Gatorade, a bit of a Cliff bar and made sure I had everything on my bike before heading out of transition.

T1 Split-10:15

 

The Bike:

Once at the “mount line”, I clipped in and took off. It was only my second race with the clipless pedals but I was getting used to them. The first short stretch out of T1 was a very rough piece of road. They filled in a lot of the potholes pre-race, but they were still bumpy and many smaller potholes remained (although, most were marked). Bottom line, you had to go slow and pay attention.

As I previously noted, this is a “stick and loop” course. The stick is the road that brings you from transition to the main part of the course (the loop). When the loop is completed twice, we ride the same “stick” back to transition. The nice thing about this course is that the roads were completely closed to motorized vehicles except for event vehicles. Nice to have toe road to ourselves!

Anyways, the first bumpy road lasted about a half mile and we made a turn onto one a less bumpy and I was able to pick up some speed. I looked down at my bike computer and I was going over 22mph. And, I was passing other riders…a lot of other riders!

At the 5 mile point, we hit the worst length of road on the course. Back to being slow and steady. It would be easy to lose control or get a flat on this stretch of roadway. Finally, another turn and I could pick up some speed. This continued a little bit longer (the stick was about 8 miles long) before we got to the loop.

The loop really isn’t a loop at all. It is a 10 mile stretch of closed highway that we would go out and back twice (so, we rode it 4 times). There was one aid station on each side of the road and would pass each one twice. The road was in excellent condition, was quite straight, and had very few hills. The hills that were there, were more like “false flats”…gradual inclines which could go on for awhile.

So, again, I tried to hammer the ride. I had started the race in one of the last waves so there were already a lot of riders on their second loop. Fortunately, there was plenty of room. So, once I catch my stride, I again see that I am frequently hitting 20mph or more. I am also passing a lot of other riders. Yes, I am also getting passed a lot, but the ratio again seems pretty darn good. I seem to have matched speed pretty well with another rider as we keep passing each other for one whole loop. He was usually ahead of me and I was using him as a pacer. I reach the first aid station and ignore it. The sports drink they offer turns my stomach, and I have plenty of Gatorade with me. I also cut up some Cliff Bars and had them (and salt tablets) in a bag on the crossbar of my bike…so I had no need to stop (I always find the bike aid stations to be the most dangerous place on the course, and I try to avoid them).

I reach the turnaround and the timing mat. I do a quick glance at the computer…I am killing it!

As soon as I turned around, I noticed that I had a tailwind (although the headwind on the ride out wasn’t bad) and the ride back seemed to be even faster. I did feel the headwind a lot more during the first leg of the second loop. I think I was able to stay pretty consistent on the loops, losing a little speed and working harder when I had the headwind. I did not stop at any of the aid stations. I did have to stop for a minute at the start of the return trip on lap 2. I was drinking Gatorade while riding, but not enough. Ditto for the Cliff Bars. I did not feel that I could safely take the salt tablets while riding and I was well overdue. So, I pulled over and attended to those needs. I then wrapped up loop 2.

As I was finishing up the second loop, I looked at my computer and figured that I had a chance to go sub-3 hours on the bike (my previous personal record on the bike was about 3:25), so I hammered the stick as much as I dared with the rough roads. I pulled into transition pretty confident that I had succeeded.

Bike Split-2:57:57 (old PR 3:25:35-IM 70.3 Racine). 18.88 mph.

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Transition 2:

Yet another slow transition. Got my bike racked up, off with the cycling shoes, cycling shorts, helmet, gloves. On with the hat and bib. Forgot the sunscreen, but volunteers at T2 exit had that covered. I did have to stop at the porta potty which  had a line up.

T2 Split- 8:50

 

The Run:

As soon as I started to run, I could tell that this would be ugly. Maybe I pushed myself to hard on the bike, but it was hot, muggy and pretty hilly. Fortunately, the sky was overcast. The course was a 6.5 mile out and back basically looping around the south shore on the lake. There were a lot of trees for shade (wasn’t needed due to the clouds).

By the 0.5 mile mark, I was walking up my first hill. That was a bad sign. I had brought a Gatorade bottle with me and I took a little sip. My stomach could not handle any more then that. There would be aid stations at every mile. Good. I would need them. At the first aid station, I poured water over my head, poured ice down the front and back of my shirt, and wasted a minute trying to open a Bonk Breaker bar (I gave up, could not open the darn thing with hands slippery from sweat and sunscreen). I opted for a banana instead.

This pattern continued for the first 3-4 miles, and I was wasting too much time in the aid stations. Then, I could sense a change in the weather. There was a bit of a cool down, and the wind was picking up just enough to give us some relief. I found my stride. For the rest of the run, I would be running…and only slowing down in the aid stations.

The sky was definitely getting darker by the time I hit the turnaround. I knew rain was a strong possibility (not a big deal) and lighting could be an issue (a much bigger deal). That also pushed me to move faster. I did not want to get pulled from the course after what I had done so far.

With 5 k left, I started to feel a little rain. Hardly any actually. A few drops and it stopped. I kept plugging away. The hills never fazed me after the first couple. At every climb, I continued my stride passing a bunch of walkers in the process. I looked at my Garmin. 6:30 finish time was a certainty. 6:15 was possible. But I would have to maintain my pace the rest of the way.

Finally, I approach the finish chute. I knew the sub-6:15 was mine. It was a massive PR.

Run Split-2:16:03 (old PR 2:24:52-IM 70.3 Muskoka). 10:23/mile pace.

Finish Time-6:13:51 (old PR 7:06:23-IM 70.3 Kansas).

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Final Thoughts:

I improved upon my PR by 52:36. I got a PR in each discipline. My training is paying off, and it was exciting to show up to compete, not just to complete. It was also a perfect storm. I am at my peak IM training. I doubt I will ever achieve this level of fitness again (it’s just too much time and too demanding). It was also a course built for speed with ideal weather. Seriously, how often does a cold front come in just as you are starting the run? How often is the water just warm enough to allow wetsuits, but not require them. Nope, this PR will never fall. I knew that on the course and it pushed me to do my best. It is a performance that I am thrilled with, considering that I was a couch potato just over 2 years ago. And, it gives me a huge confidence boost going into my ultimate goal…Ironman Wisconsin.

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Flashback Fridays 21: Dumbo Double Dare

August 31-September 1, 2013

Back to Disney.

Disneyland this time.

I don’t typically travel for Half-Marathons. But I am bling motivated and a sucker for marketing. The new D3 at Disneyland gives 3 medals for 2 races. If i do it the same calendar year as Goofy Challenge in Florida, I also get the Coast to Coast Challenge medal (aka, the “we challenge you to spend more of your money at our parks this year” challenge). There is also a 5k to bring the medal haul up to 5. I was signed up before I completed my first race at WDW.

There was a problem with how they had decided to schedule the races. They made no effort to allow people to run all 3 races. The 10k started 45 minutes after the 5k. So, we had to run the 5k, get through the finish area, loop back to the 10k start and get into the right coral before the 10k started 45 minutes later. We had no idea if the 10k start and 5k finish would be anywhere near each other. I signed up first (it all sold out within a day) and then, I hoped for the best. A Facebook group formed of like minded runners trying to share intel and plot strategy.

The expo was cramped. This was a much smaller venue then WDW. Lots of endless standing in line and waiting. They had toughened the coral placements qualifying times from WDW. I had a 1:59:43 HM time which got me coral A at WDW, and coral B at DL. Fortunately, I had improved my time and was able to upgrade again.

I checked out the start/finish area and it looked pretty close and straightforward to go from the 5k to the 10k. Good. There would be no time to spare. I then spent the day at Disney California Adventure.

I head down to the start on race morning #1 (5k/10k). I get there early and check out the lay of the land. I meet up with the FB group and we start to head to the starting area. There are no corals. Simple concept…get as close to the starting line as we can. Lots of weaving but we get within 3-4 people from the start. This was an untimed fun run, and I would have to sprint it. How ironic.

Gun went off and I took off at a flat-out sprint pace. Goal was to get ahead of everybody except those who truly belonged ahead of me. It didn’t take long to leave almost everyone behind. There were character photo stops that I ignored. I got lost once in the parks since there was nobody around me. So this is how it felt to be a front-runner. Wow!

I get to the finish. There is no official time. There is a clock at the finish. I forget to look up. I forget to click the stop button on my Garmin. I don’t slow down…I had a 10k to get to. I grab the medal and stop for a finish line photo. I grab post race food on the fly.

It was my fastest 5k ever…and I can’t even guess what my finish time was. That would come back to haunt me…

I head towards the start corals. It is a sea of people and no one is moving. I walk around but can’t get to where I need to be. I start to panic. A few minutes later, I realize that we are penned up and they haven’t even opened the gates to get to the corals. That was a bit of a relief.

I finally get to where I need to be. I am wearing the 5k medal since I have nowhere to stash it. I notice a few others doing the same. We are getting some funny looks! The 10k is a lot less chaotic. I stop at the photo stops. I take it easy. I enjoy the sights that I didn’t even notice the first time around. Weather is great, and I start to enjoy myself after the pressure of the back-to-back races is lifted.

Finish Time: 1:03:32

I get my medal, food, head back to the hotel, shower and change before heading back to the parks (DisneyLand this time).

Race Day 2-Disneyland Half Marathon

This day was a little more normal. Definitely a big race vibe. Huge number of people, huge corals. Got a few pre-race group photos and hopped into coral A. It would be a slow run. I was stopping at every photo stop…all were in the parks and in the first four miles. Then there would also be a lap through Angels Stadium, and about 8.5 miles of…not much.

And it would be a hot one!

Start of the race was much like the last two. Lots of photo stops, including my favorite ever race photo…being captured be Stormtroopers. The pic in Cars Land is another favorite. Often, there was barely 100 yards between photos.

Then, the parks ended. They did the best they could. There were two miles of classic cars on display. Running through Anaheim Stadium was a treat. But, otherwise, pretty boring, pretty hot and pretty sticky. I made no effort to pick up the pace. This was a long slow run and nothing more. The previous long day and the heat had drained the speed out of me.

The finish was a welcomed sight. I got my HM medal. I had collected two wristbands over the last 24 hours. The first confirmed that I completed the 10k. It was clipped off and I received the Dumbo Double Dare medal. The other proved that I ran in WDW earlier in the year. That was clipped for the C2C challenge medal.

Finish Time 2:25:53

Got my food and hung out a little. My last stand at Disney. First time I have been here since I was twelve. It was a nice merger of my childhood love of Disney and Star Wars, and my current passion for running. But, it was time to move on. I grabbed my gear and headed back to the hotel and then for the airport and home.

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