Monthly Archives: March 2020

COVID-19 v-2.0

What a difference another week makes.

My gym and pool have been shut down. This will officially last another week. It will certainly be extended.

Ironman’s post about it’s COVID-19 contingency plans have been updated with dozens of postponements.

Ironman Des Moines 70.3 and Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 aren’t affected…yet. I expect the official word to come down in a week or two. My hunch is that Des Moines (North American Championship) will be rescheduled and Wisconsin will end up cancelled. The season up here in the north is short, and there are only so many weekends available before it gets too cold. IM can only stage so many races at a time.

I have been busy getting ready for a prolonged shutdown. Freezer and pantry are full. Yes, I have toilet paper. No, I don’t have hand sanitizer.

I am a primary care physician. I will be on the front lines for the foreseeable future (unless/until I get sick). I need to care for my neighbors and my community while keeping my family safe. That will be tough to do when Personal protective Equipment (PPE) are already in short supply. Running, biking, and swimming are my escape, my time to decompress, my time for me.

That won’t be happening. Not for a long time. It would be selfish to even try.

My 2020 racing season ends now. I have a bigger fight to face, and it will take everything I have.

I won’t be signing up for Wisconsin. I’ll take the deferral to 2021 for Des Moines. Lifetime Triathlon Minneapolis might get pushed back. If life has settled down by then, I might just do the sprint (signed up for the Olympic, but I don’t think that will be realistic this year). Twin Cities Loony Challenge (5k, 10 k, 10 mile) is scheduled for October. That will hopefully be unaffected. Maybe I’ll actually get some run training in for that one…maybe.

Exercise will occur when I can fit it in (or when my sanity needs it). I can run on the treadmill or outside. I can bike on the trainer. Maybe, I’ll be able to bike outside at some point…but I doubt that maintaining the paved bike trails at my favorite park will be a priority and will likely remain closed. Maybe I’ll do some weight training. No swimming anytime soon.

Hopefully, this won’t be as bad as I expect it to be. Eventually, we will get to a “new normal”. With luck, it may look a lot like the normal we used to know.

Stay safe. Be kind. Take care of each other. Hug your loved ones. Appreciate all that you hold dear. Together, we will get thru this…

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COVID-19

What a difference a week makes.

When I last updated my blog, I touched on Covid-19 and the possible implications for the 2020 season. Well, those possibilities became reality in the past few days. Everything is being cancelled…NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, NCAA…and Ironman.

To tell the truth, I had expected this weeks ago when the Tokyo Marathon was canceled. I was surprised when I first heard of it, but it made a lot of sense after I gave it some thought. It was actually the only reasonable option. I knew the virus was coming to the United States and I expected this response.

I had also accepted this likely outcome.

I had accepted that this might be a training year. I reflected on the WHY of what I do. Much of it is to stay healthy. Much of it is because of the community I share.

To protect these things I value, small sacrifices need to be made. I understand the difficult choices being made and respect those making them.

So far, Ironman has postponed 3 full distance events and 9 70.3 events. More will follow. My planned races are still on, but this may change. Both races are in mid-June (Wisconsin 70.3 and Des Moines 70.3). I don’t expect to see a status update until much closer to race day. June is a long way off, and the new reality we are in might be behind us…or not. I suspect late-season events will go on as planned. Early season events are more iffy…

Ironman has put forward a great plan about how they will handle this. If the event is postponed, athletes will automatically be entered into the new event date. Athletes can request a deferral to next years event instead if the athlete wishes. If the event is cancelled, then all athletes are automatically entered into next years event. If neither works (or if the athlete cannot attend do to illness), IM will try to make suitable accommodations.

Considering that we all sign a “no refunds” waiver, I thought that was a very positive response.

So, how do I move forward with training?

Well, I stay flexible. I remember that this is an exercise in my physical well-being, and that is the goal.

I have a plan with a target race in mid-June and I will stick with that plan. If the race is postponed, then I will recalibrate with the new date in mind. If the event is cancelled, then I will just stay the course and possibly do a solo 70.3 at home. If I get sick, I take care of myself (or my loved ones) and get back to training when I can. Whatever happens, I have the motivation to stay fit and active.

As for the specific workouts, most are COVID-19 safe. I bike on the trainer (and outside when weather permits). I run on the treadmill and outside. None of those activities place me at risk. I think the pool swims are safe (I’m not close to anyone, I only use my own equipment, and the virus doesn’t transmit in water). I just need to be careful in the changing rooms (don’t touch my face, wash my hands after I touch anything). I will skip my spin classes (too much close proximity and I don’t want to touch public gym equipment) so I’ll substitute more time on my bike trainer. I have a small home gym and I need to use it more.

Staying fit, and not over-training, are likely my best defense against this virus (along with social distancing and hand-washing).

Stay healthy everyone. Be safe and take care of each other.

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…and so it begins.

My 16 week training plan for IM Des Moines 70.3 formally began last week. I normally don’t do training plans. I typically just make it up as I go. But this one scares me. I’m a lot slower then I used to be (and I was pretty slow to begin with), so I honestly don’t know if I will be able to make the cutoff times. That’s when I turn to a training plan…when I’m a little scared. The only other time I did so was for Ironman Wisconsin in 2014.  “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink got me across the finish line before. Hoping the 70.3 version of his plan does it again this year.

For the past two months, I’ve been working on base training. Goal was to work on general fitness and to make it part of the routine. I re-joined the gym and have been in the pool twice a week (even for the 2 weeks that the pool heater broke down). I tried a spin class and added that to my weekly schedule. I also dug out my bike trainer and have done at least two sessions a week. My efforts at getting on the treadmill were…less successful.

I’ll be doing a modified “Just Finish” plan. Basically, I’ll be moving around the workouts to fit my schedule. The recomended training sessions will be viewed as minimums. The program is rather light and I will shoot to get it closer to the “Intermediate” plan if I can. I just don’t want to risk burnout like I experienced training for IM Wisconsin.

The “elephant in the room” this year is coronavirus. Given how it just caused a complete shutdown of Italy, I expect disruptions to occur. The gym might be closed. The event might be postponed or canceled (look at the Tokyo Marathon). I work in the front lines in health care. These disruptions are the least of my worries about this pandemic…but this blog is about running and triathlon, so I will just look at it thru that lens for this blog. If Des Moines cancels large public events, I will accept that. If IM feels it is unsafe to move forward with the race, I will accept that too. I would not want to put the health of volunteers at risk, or place an additional strain on the health care resources of the host community. If this turns out to be a training only year, so be it. The goal is fitness. The events are the motivation. Ironman has put out a vague statement that they are monitoring the situation and will make decisions on a race by race basis. Plan for the worst, hope for the best…

As for the rest of my season, I am still considering doing IM 70.3 Wisconsin. It is 1 week before Des Moines. I will be trained, and I should be fully recovered from Wisconsin in time to race Des Moines. I have adjusted my work schedule and have reserved a motel (fully cancellable until the day before the race). The race does not usually sellout so I could register on site the day before. Weather is the other wildcard here. The lake is large and can be cold and rough. The bike is hilly and could be treacherous if it’s raining. Weather has not been kind to this event in the past few years, and I won’t sign up if it doesn’t look good due to weather (or coronavirus). Des Moines, on the other hand, I will be attending unless it gets canceled.

After that, Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon (Olympic Distance) in July, and the Twin Cities Loony Challenge (10k, 5k, 10 Mile) in October. My application to the NYC Marathon was not successful, but I really wasn’t planning another marathon until next year anyways.

So, a bit more uncertainty on the table this season then usual, but I am actually eager to train for a 70.3. Didn’t think that would happen again. So I will focus on what I can control, and leave the rest to fate.

15 weeks to go…

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