Monthly Archives: August 2014

Training Week #29 (Taper Week)

Next week is race week, and my training is winding down fast. My last long bike, brick, and run all happened this week (and all were among the shortest of the year). I had my last training session in Elk Creek, possibly for the season. The only thing I am ramping up right now is the open water swin as I have done very little this year (lake conditions were poor and swimmers advised not to swim). I am doing training sessions in my full sleeve wetsuit, sleeveless wetsuit, and no wetsuit just to practice all scenarios. The beach is crowded and I am having to swim around kids and families. I had one practice in the rain and the beach was all but empty, and I did a 2.5 mile swim. This helped calm my nerves about doing such a long OWS.

Next week will be very relaxed. Workouts will include 30 minute spins and 15 minute runs. Once I get to Madison, I will hop into the lake every day, and do one bike ride just long enough the check the gears, brakes and lubrication. Race day is almost here.

The Plan:

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

2 hour swim, 4:45 hour bike, 3:15 hour run
Total-10:00 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:32 bike/0:30 run (7.0 miles/3.2 miles)
Wednesday-0:45 bike (10 miles)
Thursday-1:53 bike/0:31 run/1:59 OWS-sleeveless wetsuit (28.4 miles/3.1 miles/2.55 miles)
Friday-0:45 bike (10 miles)
Saturday-1:33 run/0:55 swim C1-FS wetsuit (9.0 miles/1.3 miles)
Sunday-1:49 bike/0:46 swim-sleeveless wetsuit(25 miles/1.2 miles)

Weekly Total
3:40 swim, 5:44 bike, 2:34 run (% change from week 28: +6.3%, +7.5%, -46.3%)
5.05 mile swim, 80.4 mile bike, 15.3 mile run (% change from week 28: -3.8%, +4.6%, -45.1%)

Total-11:58 hours/100.75 miles/11 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-76:39 hours/111.3 miles
Bike-184:58 hours/2697.3 miles
Run-177:14 hours/1034.9 miles

Total-438:51 hours/3843.5 miles

1 week to go.

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Flashback Fridays 28: Full Circle

February 10, 2014-Started 30 week Ironman training program.

February 14, 2014-Started “Road To Madison” blog.

This was my first time following a formal training program. I was inspired to blog about it by a fellow runner. I had no delusions that anyone would actually read it, but this was mostly a training log to help keep me accountable. It was probably the best thing I ever did. So many times, I considered skipping a workout or taking the easy way out. But, knowing that I would have to be accountable for that on this blog, I crawled out of bed and trained. Looking back at my posts reminds me of my journey and how far I have come. The whole thing just helped to keep me motivated and moving forward.

Flashback Fridays was a nice trip down memory lane, and it also helped remind me of all of the changes that I have made. But, the backstory has been fully told. From obese couch potato to Ironman hopeful, Flashback Friday has been my tale up to the start of this blog, and the rest of the entries tell the rest of the story. Flashback Fridays will now be retired, since there is nothing more to tell. There is only one more chapter…and it has not yet been written. Next week, I will be in Madison making final preparations and blogging all about it.

For those who have followed my journey, I thank you for your interest and your feedback. Whatever happens next week, this journey has been worth it. And the end is in sight. I am measuring success by crossing the starting like. Everything after that will be a celebration of my journey. Every stroke, every step, every stride will be my victory. And, if all goes well, I will be an Ironman…

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The Final Lap…

Elk Creek Park is my cycle training home. I have a love/hate relationship with that place. It is beautiful and peaceful, but home to my longest and most painful training days. The big loop is 15 miles. Adding an out-and-back to Coon Rapids Dam stretches it to 28 miles. It’s a one hour drive from home, and I get there at the crack of dawn. The rides are almost always 6-8 hours long, and usually followed by a run. With the long winters, I can only train there for a few months per year, but summers get grueling with no end in sight. Then, suddenly, the training season is over and I make a bittersweet goodbye for another year.

Today was that day.

It was the lightest Elm Creek training day of the year. One full lap (28 miles) and a 5 k run. I might be back before the snow flies for some cross training, but maybe not. September will be buzy. Weather in October will be unpredictable. But, it is always nice ride on a brisk and sunny autumn day with no need to train…just enjoy the scenery and tranquility. I hope to have that opportunity.

Next year, training here will be different. I won’t be training for a full Ironman. The rides will likely be 3-4 hours, instead of 6-8. I will likely be able to enjoy the experience more, instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed by my weekly long ride.

Today was a little sad. I am doing a lot of  “last time” right now…last long ride/run/brick/swim. Soon, last outdoor run, last trainer or treadmill session. This one hit me more then any other. The training is done. The season is almost over. The off season is around the corner. One last chance to say goodbye…


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Training Week #28 (Taper Week)

I needed to get to taper week. I have been pushing myself well past the red line since Muncie, and last week was completely insane. Over 28 hours of training? A 114 mile bike/23 mile run? My first 50k? My body was screaming for sleep and recovery…demands which were completely ignored until now.

Looking at it, this was still a heavy week. A few months ago, it would have been a huge week. A 15 mile run. A 60 mile bike/3.1 mile run. Two 1.5 mile swims and  two OWS. I am looking forward to slashing it even more next week. Letting the mind and body rest is the biggest priority. Doing just enough to maintain is the key. Also, I am doing some final prep for the event. I bought a headlamp for the second lap of the run (I should be in darkness by then), and I did my first (and only) night run. I am getting some long overdue OWS sessions in a wetsuit-something that will be a big priority the rest of the way. My swim fitness is dialed in, but I need to be more comfortable in open water and in a wetsuit. I drank my first Red Bull (since I discovered that it will be on run aid stations), and will try chicken broth during my long workouts next week. Finally, I am trying not to freak out. I have done everything I could to prepare. Some things are out of my control. I just need to trust in the training and finish what I started…


The Plan:


Tuesday-1:00 swim/0:45 run

Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)

Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike

Friday-1:00 run

Saturday-4:00 bike/0:30 run

Sunday-1:00 bike/2:00 run

2 hour swim, 6:45 hour bike, 4:45 hour run

Total-13:30 hours/11 activities

What I did:


Tuesday-0:31 run/1:00 swim (3.3 miles/1.5 miles)

Wednesday-0:46 bike/0:31 run(10.0 miles/3.3 miles)

Thursday-3:48 bike/0:32 run (56.9 miles/3.1 miles)

Friday-0:46 bike/1:00 swim (10.0 miles/1.5 miles)

Saturday-2:39 run/0:38 OWS C1 full sleeve wetsuit(15.0 miles/1.0 miles)

Sunday-0:34 night run/0:49 OWS C5 full sleeve wetsuit (3.2 miles/1.25 miles)

Weekly Total

3:27 swim, 5:20 bike, 4:47 run (% change from week 27: +3.5%, -47.9%, -68.4%)

5.25 mile swim, 76.9 mile bike, 27.9 mile run (% change from week 27: +5.0%, -48.8%, -66.7%)

Total-13:34hours/110.05 miles/12 activities

Grand Totals:

Swim-72:59 hours/106.25 miles

Bike-179:14 hours/2616.9 miles

Run-174:40 hours/1019.6 miles

Total-426:53 hours/3742.75 miles

2 weeks to go.


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Defining An Ironman

Another little motivational blurb from Facebook. This nicely puts into word what I have been feeling for awhile. This journey has been about the journey itself…


Ironman does not define you. Finishing an Ironman does not define you. A DNF does not define you.

What defines you is your dedication to yourself. Your ability to drag your tired ass out of bed over the last several months defines you. Your push to get back in the water, on the saddle or into the shoes defines you. To take on the challenge of not the event, but the sacrifice that is the training defines you. To do, what others look on at in awe defines you.

Take these coming weeks to really appreciate what you have done, what you have sacrificed and what you have to look forward to post race. We all have a support network out there. For some it may be right at home in their spouse & kids. For others it’s a network of social friends, training mates or even just this Facebook group, but you have support.

Be thankful for everything they have given up to help you get through the training. Whether it’s being a single parent every Saturday and Sunday, or adjusting their schedule so you can join a group ride or understanding why you’re wearing compression sleeves when you join them for dinner out in town.
The tough part is over, seriously… it’s over. These coming 3 weeks will bring on many emotions: fear, anxiety, nervousness, doubt, and even feeling giddy (yes giddy)… make sure one thing you feel is appreciation.

Appreciation for what this past year has meant since the day of our registration. Appreciate the good and the bad that has happened and your ability to keep on moving forward. I know I will.

Ironman does not define you. I believe we define Ironman. We give it whatever meaning, significance and rationale we need, to justify it’s existence in our life.
Treat Ironman Sunday as your own special reward day and bask in the all of the glory for being there.

See you there.


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As The Odometer Turns…

1000 running miles.

I reached this milestone yesterday, during a 5k run after a long bike.

I have never come close to running this far in a single season.  I sure didn’t think I would do it during a 30 week training plan. Not when I had a lot of biking and swimming to do. But last week, I reached milestones in those two disciplines as well:

100 miles swimming.

2500 miles cycling.

400 training hours.

Even this blog is celebrating a milestone today:

100 total posts.

It has been quite a journey…

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Flashback Fridays 27: Winter Training

October 2013-February 2014.

My main events for 2013 were complete. I had one race left…the Monster Dash Half Marathon. This would be 6 days after the Detroit Marathon, and my first race as a Marathon Maniac. I was doing this since it is the last race of a local series that I participate in. I would be a sort of victory lap for me.

Legs were tired for that one, and it was cold. The day was otherwise beautiful. The expo was tiny, but I signed up for the entire series again for 2014. Left the expo with a bag full of swag (Team Ortho races are a mess, but they always have the best gear). The race was nothing special. They had too many runners, too many races on the same course at the same time, the timing company had technical problems so many did not receive an official chip time (we e-mailed them, and they basically gave us any time we submitted). Another typical Team Ortho train wreck. But, it was still a fun race.

Finish Time: 2:00:58.

Monster Dash

Weather was holding out. No snow yet. I did one late season add on race…the Turkey Trot 10k. This was part of another series. They have great medals and I was one race shy of getting the series jacket. Otherwise, nothing special. Just another race pushing my running as deep into the season as possible.

Finish Time: 56:59.

Then, it started to snow, and got very cold.

My formal Ironman Training program would start in February, but I needed to maintain fitness until then. I did take a week off of all training. I got a pair of Yak Tracks, but rarely used them. I injured my ankle running in snow and uneven footing the previous winter. I wasn’t going to do it again. So, I got a membership at the local community center and started to use their (small) indoor track for my longer runs, and my treadmill for shorter runs. I kept swimming once a week until the training program started and I bumped myself up to twice weekly. I did a couple of really long swims and got some severe abdominal pain afterwards. I was swallowing a lot of air when I was breathing. Over time, this corrected itself. I put my bike on an indoor trainer and started spinning. I watched a lot of movies that winter, but would only let myself watch if I was spinning too.

My first race of 2014 was the January 1st Polar Dash (Team Ortho series race). This was the second year in a row of brutally cold temps (wind chill in the -30 range both years). I was doing the 14 miler (14 miles in 2014 theme). Having a race every couple of months during the off-season helps to keep me motivated. It was sunny and horribly cold. They did a good job of getting rid of most of the snow and ice (we had a snowstorm the day before the race). The heating tent didn’t really work. They announced that runners can and should turn around at anytime and they would still award you a finishers medal. I did the full 14 miles (I didn’t want a medal I didn’t earn). It hurt, but the bragging rights are eternal.

Finish Time: 2:34:51.

Once that was done, I reviewed the book “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink. This would be my training bible for 2014. It would start in February (right around my 2 year “Runniversary”). Until then, I would have early mornings full of spinning, swimming, track and treadmill. I had about 6 weeks of maintenance training before the formal plan kicked in. Then, I started the plan, and I started this blog…

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Bling Motivation…

I love bling. With every North American Ironman race this year, I sea the internet for photos of the finishers medal. Every time, it make me want one even more. Hopefully, in less then three weeks, that dream will be realized. Until then, I can look at these and dream…


Ironman Texas:



Ironman Coeur d’Alene:



Ironman Lake Placid:



Ironman Canada:




Ironman Boulder:



Ironman Mont-Tremblant:




Ironman Louisville:



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Forging Iron

This little motivational popped up on a Facebook IM Wisconsin Group.

Author unknown.


So without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman – to the IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between…

Right now you’ve all entered the taper. Perhaps you’ve been at this a few
months, perhaps you’ve been at this a few years. For some of you this is
your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few
can match.

You’ve been following your schedule to the letter. You’ve been piling on
the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will
take until November to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which
both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery
naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.

You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and
now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France
coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you’ve
already covered so much ground…there’s just one more climb to go. You
shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before
you…and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with
silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is
something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background
for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won’t be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss.
It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one
last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body
already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that
this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication,
focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides
in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be
worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It
comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered,
“How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to
yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.
It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it.
The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just
need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes.
You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong.
You’ll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like
everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is
finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.

The splashing will surround you.

You’ll stop thinking about Ironman, because you’re now racing one.
The swim will be long – it’s long for everyone, but you’ll make it.
You’ll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you’ll hear the end.
You’ll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers.
Three people will get that sucker off before you know what’s happening, then
you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero’s
sendoff. You won’t wipe the smile off your face.

You’ll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road.
You’ll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling
your Ironman.

You’ll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It’s warmer
now. Maybe it’s hot. Maybe you’re not feeling so good now.
You’ll keep riding. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep moving. After all,
this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?
You’ll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for
what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.
By now it’ll be hot. You’ll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus.
Everyone struggles here. You’ve been on that bike for a few hours, and
stopping would be nice, but you won’t – not here. Not today.
You’ll grind the false flats to the climb. You’ll know you’re almost there.
You’ll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here
Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer
for you – your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You’ll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining
together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for
the run to come – soon! You’ll roll back – you’ll see people running out.
You’ll think to yourself, “Wasn’t I just here?” The noise will grow. The
chalk dust will hang in the air – you’re back, with only
26.2 miles to go. You’ll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a
flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.
You’ll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike.
You’ll give it up and not look back. You’ll have your bag handed to you,
and into the tent you’ll go. You’ll change. You’ll load up your pockets,
and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer – the one that

You’ll take that first step of a thousand…and you’ll smile. You’ll know
that the bike won’t let you down now – the race is down to your own two
feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning
will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday.
High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you’ve
worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second.

By mile three, you probably won’t feel so good.

That’s okay. You knew it couldn’t all be that easy. You’ll settle down
just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You’ll see the
leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great – some won’t. You
might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don’t panic – this
is the part of the day where whatever you’re feeling, you can be sure it
won’t last.

You’ll keep moving. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep eating. Maybe
you’ll be right on plan – maybe you won’t. If you’re ahead of schedule,
don’t worry – believe. If you’re behind, don’t panic – roll with it.
Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone
has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is
like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don’t
waste energy worrying about things – just do what you have to when you have
to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don’t sit down –
don’t EVER sit down.

You’ll make it to halfway point. You’ll load up on special needs. Some of
what you packed will look good, some won’t. Eat what looks good, toss the
rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people
you don’t. You’re headed in – they’re not. They want to be where you are,
just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into
town. Share some energy – you’ll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You’ll be coming
up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup.
TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You’ll soon only have a few miles to go. You’ll start to believe that
you’re going to make it. You’ll start to imagine how good it’s going to
feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs
just don’t want to move anymore, think about what it’s going to be like when
someone catches you…puts a medal over your head…

….all you have to do is get there.

You’ll start to hear town. People you can’t see in the twilight will cheer
for you. They’ll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were
there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on
the run, and now when you’ve come back.

You’ll enter town. You’ll start to realize that the day is almost over.
You’ll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if
you’re lucky), but you’ll ask yourself, “Where did the whole day go?”
You’ll be standing on the edge of two feelings – the desire to finally stop,
and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as

You’ll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles – just 2KM left in it.
You’ll run. You’ll find your legs. You’ll fly. You won’t know how, but
you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon
you’ll be able to hear the music again. This time, it’ll be for keeps.
Soon they’ll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You’ll run towards the
lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They’ll say your name.
You’ll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours – for one moment, the entire world will be looking
at you and only you.

You’ll break the tape. The flash will go off.

You’ll stop. You’ll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and
suddenly…be capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You’ll lean into them.
It will suddenly hit you.

You will be an Ironman.

You are ready.

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The Training Cycle In Review

Ironman 140.6 Training Update:

I am participating in my first full Ironman Triathlon in Madison Wisconsin on September 7th. I have just completed week 27 of my 30 week training program. My last day of “Peak Training” was yesterday, and I start to taper now. This has been an incredibly intense experience and I have no plans on ever doing this again…no matter what happens on race day.

So far, I have averaged 15 hours and 18 minutes of training/week over the last 27 weeks. That comes out to 2:11 every day, or 2:33 every training day.

Last week, I reached the following milestones:
-100 total swimming miles
-2500 total cycling miles
-400 total training hours

This week, I should reach 1000 total running miles (I am only 9 miles away).

Total number of swims >2.4 miles: 13
Total number of swims >2.0 miles: 22

Total number of bike rides > 112 miles: 4
Total number of bike rides > 80 miles: 10

Total number of runs > 26.2 miles: 2
Total number of runs > 20.0 miles: 10

Total number of training weeks > 20 hours: 5

Longest Swim: 3.75 miles
Longest Bike Ride: 115 miles
Longest Run: 31.1 miles (50 km)
Longest Brick: 115 mile bike/23.3 mile run

Longest Training Week: 28 hours 42 minutes
Most Running Miles In One Week: 83.9 miles

Personal Records Broken:
5K-22:49 (broke old PR by 0:40). Placed 382/4949 overall
10K-47:41 (broke old record by 4:30). Placed 152/3645 overall
70.3 (“Half-Ironman”)-6:13:51 (broke old record by 52:30-achieved PR’s in the swim, bike and run)

Qualified for the Houston Marathon and front coral placement in the Houston 5k.

I also broke a rib and was diagnosed with osteoporosis.

For the past several months, I typically got up at 3am to workout before work. My plan calls for some type of training activity 6 days a week. I am usually in bed by 9pm (lately 8pm).

The next 3 weeks will see a dramatic cutback in volume (14 hours of training  this week, 9 the next week, and practically nothing on race week).

I feel that I am ready, but I know that there are a lot of variables that are out of my control, and finishing is far from a certainty. All I want is to finish, and I think I put in the hours and the miles to achieve that goal. But, illness, injury, weather, bike mechanical are all variables that I can only hope will go my way.

I am looking forward to this being over with. It is too much and I have lost balance in my life. I have a very understanding wife, and I could not have gone thru this without her support. After this race, triathlon season will be over and I will focus on running only. I will return to triathlon next year, but I don’t know to what degree. No Full IM’s, that is for sure. I might do a 70.3, I may just do sprints. We shall see.

For now, will focus on resting, healing, sleeping, recovery and nutrition. I have done all that I can. In three weeks, I will find out if it was enough…

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