Tag Archives: biking

Inching My Way Out Of Long-Course “Retierment”…

Ever since I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 5 years ago, I have struggled with staying motivated. I had continued to run marathons and short distance triathlon, but without joy or motivation.

I was going thru the motions.

After last year’s final race (Twin Cities 10 Mile), I sat on the couch and stayed there for 6 months. I approached the upcoming (minimalistic) season with dread.

But a funny thing happened when I started running this year. I was enjoying myself again. I was doing longer runs because I wanted to do it. I found myself planing activities around my workouts (and not being resentful of those workouts). It had been a long time…

I’m not exactly sure what triggered this shift, but I have a few suspicions.

1. I’m turning 50 this year. Midlife Crisis v.2.0.
2. College Reunion – 25 years
3. A friend is training for her first 70.3. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
4. I haven’t seen any signs of any of the big dogs freely roaming the neighborhood this season.
5. There’s a new walking path leading out of my neighborhood, along the highway, connecting me to all of the running trails in town. Much more variety making the runs more interesting.

All of this has got me wondering about possibly tackling a longer event. Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 was launched 3 years ago and I occasionally considered doing this race as it is close to home.

I could never pull the trigger since it is a very hilly course, and I am not skilled on the bike. The downhills terrifies me and the race always had the threat of severe weather. But I was starting to consider signing up for 2020.

That is when Ironman announced the inaugural Ironman 70.3 – Des Moines (North American Championships). Event was closer to home, it would take place on a flatter course with a smaller/calmer lake. It was also 1 week later then Wisconsin would be which allows for a little bit more outdoor training for an early season event.

That was enough for me. I signed up for my first Ironman event since 2014.

The rest of 2013 is already locked in place (sprint Triathlon next week, Twin Cities 10 Mile in October). I don’t think I will add any more events this season (I was doing WAY too many races before), but 2020 already has me working on improved base fitness and proper nutrition again.

I’m also getting the itch to do another full marathon…but one thing at a time.

Feels good to be back!



Filed under Training

Transitioning to Triathlon

I set up this training year into three “seasons”: the spring running season, the summer triathlon season, and the fall running season.

With the completion of the FANS ultra, my spring running season essentially came to a close. I have a month off (oddly, my next event is a half marathon). But between now and October, I have four sprint triathlons, one sprint duathlon, one 5k fun run, and the half marathon that I just mentioned.

This will come as a nice “break”. The ultra was hard to train for and I have done no cross training all year. Since all of the upcoming events are shorter distances, the training volume will not be overwhelming. Until this past week, my bike had been on the trainer and I have not gone to the pool. That just changed.

I found myself back at the Monticello Community Center pool doing lengths. Nothing strenuous, just getting the “feel” of the water again. I had lost most of my upper body strength and it showed. I did four sets of .25 miles and I was huffing and puffing between the sets. With the longest swim event being under a half mile, I can keep my workouts down to a mile or less. I also found my way back to Elm Creek Park Reserve. I really love this place, but the endless loops last year was draining. This year, my longest ride in a competition will be 16.9 miles (instead of 112). Elm Creek has a beautiful and fairly hilly 15 mile loop. It also has a 14 mile out and back to Coon Rapids Dam (flatter, a little less scenic, but still beautiful). I will stick to a two hour ride or less (either a double loop, or a loop with an out and back). Afterwards, I can rack the bike and run to the closest picnic area and back (5k) which will give me the only brick workouts that I will need. This week’s brick was wonderful. The weather was ideal for cycling…low 70’s, not a cloud in the sky, light breeze, and no humidity. I was able to start at a much later time then last season (8am instead of 6am) and I was still done by eleven. Being a weekday morning, the trail traffic was light. It was my first time “handling” a bike in 9 months…and at was intimidating at first. I spent some time clipping in and out, mounting and dismounting, and getting used to shifting gears and steering again…but it all came back quickly enough. I could not get my bike computer to work for the first half of the ride…which worked out for the best. I could focus on the fundamentals of riding and the experience. Nature is so much better of a riding partner then movies on the trainer. I fell in love with riding again…and found myself disappointed that the season will be so short…just six training sessions in Elm Creek this year…

I think that one swim and one brick per week should be plenty. Aside from that, I will use the summer to complete a more traditional marathon training plan for my fall marathons (including the I-35 Challenge…two marathons, two states, in two days).

But, for now, it feels great to be back on the bike and back in the pool training simply for the joy of training…

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An Ultra Marathon Runner Interviews A (Soon-To-Be) Ironman Triathlete

Shortly after I started running, my cousin introduced me to Rod on Facebook. “You are both runners, so you should be friends”. Well, we had a lot more in common then that. We have both overcome obesity and sedentary lifestyles. We both started running and conquered marathons. He had been at it a few years longer then I, and gave me endless support, insight and encouragement. He cheered me on during my first Half-Ironman just as I cheered him on during his first ultra. We sustained similar injuries and similar times…and supported each other through it. He has a focus, dedication and natural ability that I could only hope to achieve. I am convinced that he will throw down a BQ someday soon. I don’t know if I would be training or running today if it wasn’t for him. I am proud to call him my friend.

Of course, I had never event met the guy. This was all via FB, and I truly came to understand the power of social media.

He has been blogging for quite awhile, and I have thought about it too, but really had little to say. When I started this Ironman training journey, I figured it might be a place to start. There is a weird synchronicity/telepathy vibe going on between us. There has to be. Just as I was getting ready to launch my own blog, he e-mails me and asks me if he could interview me for his blog. He had no idea that I was launching my own. So, in typical Rod style, he goes out of his way to plug my new site and to make me look good.

For those wondering, we finally met at Ironman Muskoka 70.3. He came out to support and cheer. That was a very good day.

I hope he doesn’t mind the re-blog. Please check out his site. There are a lot of really good reads over there…

EDIT: Looks like the his pics got re-blogged, but not the interview. Click on “View Original” at the bottom to see complete post, but I have also copied it below.


I’ve known Raymond now for a little over a year. He’s come a long way from being the obese guy snacking on Dairy Queen Blizzards. Now, after amassing a slew of medals from racing every major running distance up to and including the marathon and completing a number of half ironman triathlons successfully, Raymond embarks on the ultimate athletic challenge. In September he will strive to conquer the full ironman distance and become an Ironman. He will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then top it all off by running a marathon — 26.2 miles. His story is nothing short of inspiring and is the subject of his highly entertaining and enlightening blog https://roadtomadison.wordpress.com/

It is my pleasure to call him friend and to be able to share a bit of his story here.

  1. You worked very hard to get yourself fit having lost quite a bit of weight before getting yourself into running. What made you decide “enough is enough”?, that you wanted a healthier lifestyle. And what did you do to make this goal a reality?

There really wasn’t an “ah-ha” moment. I have struggled with weight and health my entire adult life. I was obese when I left school back in the mid 1990’s and joined Weight Watchers at that time. I successfully lost about 45 pounds. I joined a gym and kept it off for a while. But then, I moved to the states. I lost my WW group, my workout buddies, my family, my friends, my routine and slid back into old habits. I regained every pound. I never exercised. I ate fast food every day (sometimes several times a day). Dairy Queen Blizzards were once one of the basic food groups in my world.

I tried to rejoin WW a few times but could never keep up the motivation. I finally came to the conclusion that I was too old to lose weight and my body was just wanted to be fat. This irrational rationalization gave me the excuse I needed to completely ignore my diet and weight.

I didn’t completely ignore it though. I was self conscious about it and would occasionally lose 10 pounds when my “fat pants” got too tight. This is what happened in August 2011. I was driving home, and had to unbutton my pants since they were so tight. These were my loosest pair of pants and I decided that it was time to lose 10 pounds (again). I stopped at the store and loaded up on veggies and low calorie snacks. My wife saw this, rolled her eyes, and must have thought, “Here we go again!”

It was weird this time. I still don’t know why, but once I lost the 10 pounds, I felt I could do 5 more (these pants are comfy, but those are still a little snug), then 5 more (if I am getting these pants altered, it had better be worthwhile). My cholesterol and blood pressure came down. This motivated me some more. People were noticing, and that motivated me even more. Next thing you know, I was in sight of my ideal body weight. By February 2012, I had lost 55 lbs., and had started going to WW again to help me maintain it. I knew that I needed “something”. But nobody was more surprised then I was at what the “something” was…

They challenged everyone to do a 5K. I had no interest, but did it in the name of “peer pressure”. Oddly enough, I liked it. It snowballed, beyond anything I could have imagined!

  1. Your weight loss, maintenance, and continued dedication to fitness is I’m sure an inspiration to everyone who hears your story. What would you say to someone who may be reading this and wanting to do something to get themselves off the couch and on the way to being fit for life?

That’s a tough question to answer. I honestly don’t know what go me off the couch this time. It “clicked” this time, and I have no idea why. Ultimately, you have to find something inside that speaks to you and motivates you. I hope my story may motivate someone to find something they have a passion for and work it into their lives.

  1. You got into marathon running quite quickly after you got fit. How did this come about? And what has been your motivation to continue running marathons after you got that first medal?

I tend to be completely into something or not at all. There is never a healthy middle ground for me! I enjoyed running and tried to push myself every week to go a little farther. I would listen to my body during and after runs. I would stop because I knew I should, not because I was tired or uncomfortable. If I felt fine the next day, I would push myself further the next time. By the time my first race (a 7K) came around, I thought I could run a half marathon. But it intimidated me. After all, I was NOT a “runner”. What business did I have signing up for a Half-Marathon? Only real athletes did that….

So, I did the 7K without difficulty. The next day, I went for a run around the neighborhood, and went 13.1 miles without stopping. I was kicking myself for not going for it. The following month, I had a 10K scheduled, and I upgraded that race to a Half-Marathon. The following month, I was already registered for a half marathon. I was doing 16-mile training runs at that point that I considered increasing to a full marathon. There was a group run in preparation for the marathon 3 weeks prior-a 20-miler. I figured I would try that. If I could go 20 miles, then I could get 26.2. I ended up running 23 miles that day. So, I switched the registration for a full marathon and I was so glad I did!

Couch to Full Marathon in 16 weeks. Looking back at that, it was not a wise thing to do. But, I listened to the feedback my body gave me. I never pushed it. I increased the goals only if it was clear that my body could handle it.

As a part of this process, I started to enjoy seeing what my body was capable of. It was fun doing the “impossible”. Every time I did, I got a medal. I really did become a bling junkie. But that is a little superficial. I need some short and long-range goals in front of me to keep me going. If nothing is planned, then it is easy to skip a day, or a week, of training. So, last year, I crammed events in almost every weekend. I know that I won’t let myself skip an event once I sign up. Seeing the wall of medals then motivates me to on to the next event. It really is a self-perpetuating cycle…

  1. As if marathon running isn’t enough, you’ll be adding a 2.4 mile swim, and a 112 mile bike before you hit the marathon this September. I’m talking of course about your quest to become an Ironman athlete. How is training going so far? And what do you have to do in the next 6.5 months to get yourself ready for race day?

I am still trying to figure that out. With a marathon, you can run a 20+ mile training run to make sure you are prepared. Even with a Half-Ironman, you can do a 3-hour bike/90 minute run a couple of times. But, I won’t be running 12-hour training days very often. So, I finally gave in to a training plan. Many triathletes noted that they succeeded under the “Be Iron Fit” plan by Don Fink. So, I am trying that. But it peaks at 20 hours/week. I don’t see how that can train me for a 17 hour-long endurance event. But, I don’t see much choice but to take the leap of faith. I will be doing a few smaller events during training (100 mile group bike rides, a marathon, a Half-Ironman). I will have a chance to travel to Madison and spend a few days riding the Ironman bike course (and running the run course as well).

  1. Have you thought about what life will be like for you after the Ironman? What goals do you see for yourself beyond this monumental race either within or outside of sport?

The Ironman will almost certainly be a one and done event…regardless of the outcome. I may try again if I fail due to reasons out of my control (crazy weather, bike mechanical, injury, etc.). If I am successful, then that will be wonderful! If I fall short, that’s OK too. I have traveled a lot further then I ever would have imagined possible, regardless of the outcome. Simply reaching the starting line will be the victory. The race will be the celebration of my journey and of all I have accomplished!

But, after this event, I need to reclaim some balance in my life. This is much bigger than I want. I will still run a couple of marathons per year; and I may do a Half-Ironman every year or two. I will certainly do multiple shorter runs and triathlons. I will NEVER bike 100 miles ever again! I will use events as a reason to travel and see different parts of the country. I may try an ultra at some point (another “One and Done”). But family, work, rest, and relaxation all come off the back burner.

And a tattoo. If I finish, I am getting my first tattoo!

You can continue following Raymond at https://roadtomadison.wordpress.com/


My Life As an Ultra Marathon Runner




I’ve known Raymond now for a little over a year. He’s come a long way from being the obese guy snacking on Dairy Queen Blizzards. Now, after amassing a slew of medals from racing every major running distance up to and including the marathon and completing a number of half ironman triathlons successfully, Raymond embarks on the ultimate athletic challenge. In September he will strive to conquer the full ironman distance and become an Ironman. He will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then top it all off by running a marathon — 26.2 miles. His story is nothing short of inspiring and is the subject of his highly entertaining and enlightening blog https://roadtomadison.wordpress.com/

It is my pleasure to call him friend and to be able to share a bit of his story here.



  1. You worked very hard to get yourself fit having lost quite a…

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