I Hate Springing Forward and Lent

There are two things I hate about Spring, moving the clocks forward and Lent. I have no control over the former but it’s my decision to participate in the latter.

Is daylight savings time even necessary anymore? Was it ever necessary? I’m thinking of moving to Arizona or Guam just so I don’t have to participate in it anymore. Springing forward really messes with my internal clock. It seems like it takes forever for me to get back on track. In reality it’s a couple of weeks before I’m automatically waking up at 5AM again, but that’s about two weeks of morning workouts I potentially miss. I didn’t swim at all last week because I had such a hard time waking up. The pool is only open for lap swimming in the early morning so if I don’t get over there by 5:30 I’m out of luck.

Then there’s Lent. I use Lent as a time to challenge myself, start a new habit, break a bad habit, etc. It’s not a spiritual exercise per se, I don’t make any kind of promise to God or anything, it’s just an event on the calendar that I try to make work for me. This year I gave up sugar. All sugar. No cheating. I’ve posted on here before that I think sugar is addictive, and it’s addictive in a way that makes you jones pretty hard when you go without. My hope is that by the end of Lent I no longer crave the sweet stuff and can go on sugar-free beyond Easter. But let’s be honest. Who’s going to enjoy a big piece of Easter dinner dessert? This guy.

I’m continuing my 30 day workouts. This is where I lay out a workout plan and do my best to stick to it throughout the month. The workouts increase in intensity (volume/weight/speed) throughout the month. At the beginning of the next month I mix up the workouts, add new routines, take out some others, and then begin again at a lower intensity. I believe this is called periodization. Every thirty days you’re ramping up to some tough workouts, but you’re willing to do it because you know that you’ll have time to recover, and it’s during the recovery when all the gains are made. That’s the theory.

Laying out the workouts ahead of time helps keep me focused and less willing to skip a workout. When it’s on the calendar I’m more inclined to do the workout. I really want to check off on that day. However, I do have to be flexible. There are a few evenings where I have some other obligation like work, kids, church, community, or whatever, and I don’t get my workout done. A lot of the time I will make it up, but sometimes you really do just have to skip. For instance, this month I’m squatting three times a week. I have a hard time recovering if I squat on back to back days, so I did simply skip a squat session last week because it just didn’t make sense to make it up.

Box

Box

I also built this box to help with my March workouts. I’m doing box jumps like the crossfitters. This box is very similar to what you can buy on-line, just not as nice. I’m not a carpenter but I cobbled this together with pieces of plywood I had lying around. It’s 20x24x30 inches. That gives you three different heights with which to workout. The plan is this, the first week I see how many jumps I can do in one minute, the second week two minutes, and so on. If that doesn’t get your heart rate up you are in much better shape than I am.

Rack

Rack

That’s not the only thing I’ve built to help with my workouts. A few years ago I built this rack. Again, I’m not a carpenter and again I put it together with 2x4s I had left from another project. I did have to buy the carriage bolts. On this I can do chin-ups, I can lower those cross braces and bench press in there with my bench, and I use it as my squat rack. When I’m squatting I raise up the cross braces to set the weight on if I get into trouble. I put carriage bolts on the front to set the weight on when I’m doing overhead presses. I’m trying to figure out a way to modify it so I can do dips, but haven’t come up with a good solution yet.

And so with that I spring my blog forward with one more post. Though it’s technically still winter, it’s 70 degrees outside right now, on a Sunday afternoon, which means it would be illegal and sinful for me to stay indoors. As soon as my grilled steak settles and I get this blog posted I’ll be out the door. God bless you and your family this Easter.

Posted in crossfit, Health and Fitness, triathlon | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

New 30 Day Plan – Reach for the Rim

In my last post I described how I followed a 30 day plan I found on another blogger’s site. It was squat and ab specific. It helped and in hind sight I think it prepared me for the next 30 day plan I drew up, which included a lot of jumping. Why jumping? I went to the gym last month and I couldn’t jump and touch the rim of the basketball hoop. I needed to rectify that.

My 30 day plan included squat jumps, hopping (like jump rope but no rope), and one-legged hops. The plan ended last Sunday and since then I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve literally done zero workouts since wrapping up the plan. So today, one day post-Christmas and all rested up, I jogged over to the basketball court to test my hops. I’m happy to report that I did jump and touch that rim! Boom! Plan the work, work the plan.

OK, I know it’s not that impressive, but I was happy to get my fingers on that hoop. And really, what else could I ask for? In my teens and twenties the best I could do was just touch the rim. So here at 43 years old I haven’t lost a step, or a hop(?). Just for context, I’m 5′ 11 3/4″ (that 3/4″ is important). I believe all of those squats I did in the 30 days leading up to this last 30 days gave me a good base to build upon.

These plans have taught me three things:

1. When you’re trying to run and touch the rim, run and jump straight on. Don’t try to get fancy and touch as you’re going by the side of the rim.

2. Look and focus at the spot on the rim you are going to touch. I was so worried about my take off and landing that the only time I looked up at the rim was at the last second when my hand reached for it. Once I focused on the rim exclusively, I touched it.

3. A plan is a roadmap, a roadmap to where you want to go. Driving directions don’t say: “Drive to L.A.” You first have to get on this street, then that avenue, then this ramp, that highway, this interstate, change to another interstate. There may be several ways to drive to L.A. but chances are you’ll have to start on the smaller streets before you get to the interstate and finally L.A. There was some work I had to do before I could touch the rim, and the work was detailed on the plan.

The three things I learned: Take it straight on, focus, follow the plan. I wonder if that would work for other kinds of endeavors.

The whole point of these 30 day plans was to do something other than swim, bike, and run. It’s the “off-season” and I just needed a little variety. However, it’s now time to turn my attention back to the pool, the bike, and the running. I’m going to take it easy until New Year’s, then hit it again. In the meantime, I’m going to develop a plan for those first 30 days. One that will make me a faster runner, and get me back on the bike. I’ll probably wait until later in January or the first part of February to actually go swim. I love the New Year’s resolution folks, but the pool gets a little crowded with them there. I’ll definitely keep up some strength work with my sandbag, but I’m not sure what that’ll look like yet. Like I say, I’m taking it easy for now and will develop that plan over the next few days.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back soon with another installment of how I accomplished a mediocre feat of athleticism.

Posted in Health and Fitness, jump training, Running, sandbag workout, triathlon, vertical leap | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Day Plan – Taking it Easy was Harder Than I Thought it Would Be

Last month someone “liked” my blog. Most of the time I check out the blog of whoever likes my blog. I have time to do that usually because I don’t get an overabundance of “likes”. Is it because my blog is poorly written and carries little in the way of useful information? Maybe. But this fellow happened to like my blog at just the time I was looking for a simple “off-season” workout. I checked out his blog, which you can find here, and I found Marc’s 30 Day Squat, Abs and Push Up Challenge. I looked at the plan for a few seconds and decided it was for me.

Marc’s plan calls for squats, ab work, and push ups in increasing repetitions each day for 30 days, with a built-in rest day every three days, which means there are 23 work days over the 30 days. Each work day you will do push ups, squats, sit ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks. None of the exercises require weights. You’re only moving your own body weight. See the link above for all the details.

I liked the idea of working my abs. I seldom work my abs. Why? Because I always read how “when swimming you use your abs” or “you use your abs when you run” and of course “your abs come into play when cycling”. I already do all of those things, so my abs are getting quite a workout already. No sense taxing them further. But in my off-season I’m taking a little break from those things, so maybe some ab work is not a bad idea.

The first couple of days went well but the workout only lasted a few minutes. I thought I could add in a couple more moves that would give me just the right challenge. I wanted to workout for about a half an hour on the work days. That would be enough. With that in mind I added chin ups, calf raises, curls, and bench dips. I did the curls and bench dips on alternating days, but the chin ups and calf raises came each day. I performed the curls with a curl bar and 25 pounds of weight. Additionally, I decided to run for 15 minutes every other day, just so my legs didn’t forget how to do that.

Again, things went well at first, but after the first week I realized I wasn’t going get all of this done in 30 minutes, especially on the running days. But a plan is a plan, so I stuck with it. I didn’t make a race out of it most days, but on the last day I timed myself and moved through all of the exercises without lollygagging too much and got everything done in 45 minutes, but that wasn’t a run day. That included 75 push ups, 250 squats, 125 sit ups, 150 crunches, 65 leg raises, planking for 2 minutes, 41 curls, 250 calf raises, and 8 chin ups (my goal with chin ups was 12, I got up to 11 a couple of times in the month but I wasn’t feeling it that last day).

Just a note on the running days – I warmed up for 10 minutes and then ran at a seven minute pace for up to five minutes, and then a very short cool down because I needed to move on to the exercises.

I took body measurements before, during, and after the challenge, per Marc’s instructions.  Officially I went from 149.5 to 148.5, but my weight will fluctuate from 147 to 149 throughout any given week, so basically no change. My body measurements essentially did not change either. If anything changed, and this is purely a subjective observation since there are no before and after photos, my abs got more defined. And maybe that makes sense. Like I said, I rarely work my abs exclusively, so I have to think they got stronger over the 30 days. It was going to be impossible for me to add a chin up each day over the 30 days, but everything else was pretty doable for me, but that’s not to say it was all easy. For instance, running at a seven minute pace is real work for me, and the sit ups and crunches caused some pain. The squats were relatively easy to pound out, but I did get bored going down, up, down, up…I think the squats worked out my patience more than anything.

Planning my workouts like this works for me because once I put it on paper and get started something about my personality makes me want to finish it, even if it proves inconvenient or something different from what I imagined. With that in mind I started my next 30 day challenge. Observe:

30 Day Jump Challenge

My goal here is to increase my vertical leap. I was at the court the other day and, besides nearly breaking my legs off trying to jump, I found I couldn’t touch the rim (I only tried once for fear of my femurs comings right out of pelvis). I’ll work on my jumps. The plyometric work is said to help you run. Two birds. One stone. Boom!

The other aspect of this challenge is the sandbag. I won’t walk you through all the details, but basically everything that includes an overhead press is done with the sandbag. For instance, the S2O (squat to overhead) is deadlifting the sandbag and then pressing it above my head. I’ve been reading about these kinds of exercises and wanted to try them. Because the sandbag is inherently unwieldy you gain a kind of strength that doesn’t come with pushing balanced barbells. Here’s my sandbag:

Sandbag wrapped in duct tape

Sandbag wrapped in duct tape

It’s one of those sandbags you buy at Wal-Mart to put in the back of your truck for traction in the winter. I wrapped mine up in duct tape. The red duct tape around the middle is for a little extra flair. This one weighs 56 pounds.

I’ll let you know how it goes. With any luck (or should I say if things go as planned?) I’ll be grabbing the basketball rim at the end of the month, busting out that elusive 12th chin up, and increasing my ability to hoist a sandbag.

If I knew how to add a link to the actual Excel document I would. That would make it easier for you to download and modify. But alas, I don’t know how to do that. I will work on it, though. However, feel free to use this 30 day challenge, re-print it, whatever.  Use it at your own risk. See a doctor before hand. Consult with your guidance counselor. Burn incense. Just don’t blame me ’cause I can’t be responsible for you dropping a heavy sandbag on your neck or any other myriad of injuries I’ll likely suffer over the next 30 days.

Posted in Health and Fitness, jump training, Running, sandbag, sandbag workout, strength training, triathlon, vertical leap, workout | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Non-Carb Loading (Carb Un-Loading?)

I’ve gone low carb/high fat (LCHF) (google it).

Man, sugar is addictive. I’ve never done drugs, but I know what it’s like to be jonesing a substance I shouldn’t be using. I’ve sworn off junk food and candy but with Halloween just a couple of days ago and all the candy that’s left in the house I feel like jumping right off the wagon. As I sit here typing I’m thinking about the peanut butter fun-sized Snickers that are still sitting in the plastic jack-o-lantern in the living room. I blame the neighborhood kids. We didn’t get enough trick-or-treaters and now there’s all this left-over drugs, I mean candy.

I can do without bread. I don’t miss pasta. I like hash browns and mashed potatoes, but it doesn’t bother me to do without them. The hardest things for me to give up is the afore-mentioned sugar, and chips and crackers that I can use for dipping. When you’re low carb, about the only thing you can find to dip with are pork rinds, which are OK, but they’re no replacement for a potato chip.

Missing out on the chips is bad, but I don’t have a physiological response to them. It’s just inconvenient when you have a good spinach dip but nothing to dip down in there. But with sugar, and all the desserts that contain it, I can feel my body reacting to it when it’s present and I don’t eat it. I swear it is not in my head. It’s all I can do to resist grabbing “just a couple of pieces” to get my fix.

The physiological response is not just my mouth watering. I get restless, almost fidgety, and I’m compelled to walk over to and reach for the candy. Resisting that urge is uncomfortable. My body tells me there’s no good reason stay away from it. My head tells me different.

Besides making me uncomfortable and missing out on some good Halloween candy, what has LCHF done for me? It’s hard to say. I’ve only been eating low carb for about a  year, and for most of that time I’ve been prone to cheat. For the last couple of months, however, I’ve tightened it up and cut out the cheating. For instance, in the past if my wife made a pasta dish for dinner I’d have some. Now, I skip the pasta and find something to replace it with, like salad. I also skip the potatoes and the bread at dinner. But my wife has slowly transitioned us to low carb dinners, so it’s getting easier to be faithful to my diet.

Last April, when I last had my cholesterol checked, it was something like 230, which is considered high, but my HDL, the good cholesterol, was through the roof. It was quite high (I don’t remember the number) and was jacking up my total cholesterol number. There’s some doubt today anyways about total cholesterol being a good indicator for anything, let along heart disease.

I was just looking at my weight log on my phone. At the beginning of 2011 I hovered around 164 pounds (6′ tall). Keep in mind I took up triathlon in 2010, but I don’t have any weight logs that go back to 2010. As I trained through 2011-2013 I’d hover in the mid 150s, getting down to 149.5 as I got close to my 70.3 races in 2011 and 2012. Today, I regularly weigh in at 147. Now, I completed an Ironman on 8/24/14 and a marathon on 10/18/14, but even though my training volume has gone down considerably since Ironman Louisville, I have not gained the weight back. I’m 43 years old. I ought to be plumping back up to my hibernating weight. I’m convinced I can stay lean based on what I eat and not on how much I workout.

And believe me, I don’t go hungry. Often when I’m craving the sugar I’ll have something I can have, like cheese. I get my belly full at every meal. I have eggs almost every morning, often with sausage or bacon. I snack on almonds and cashews. I eat a hearty dinner sized lunch, and a good dinner each evening. After workouts I’ll have a protein shake. I’m telling you, I don’t count calories and I don’t limit myself, except when it comes to the carbs.

Energy wise I feel fine. In my last post I talked about finishing the marathon without any carb-based gels or sports drinks. I didn’t do any worse than I did last year consuming all that stuff.

Will I continue eating this way. Probably, yes. It is inconvenient at times. Carb-laden foods are cheaper to buy, easier to prepare, and oh so delicious. But I think I’m over the hump and it’s really a lifestyle now. It’s just part of who I am. I can certainly see why someone might say the LCHF diet is not sustainable. It is sustainable, but it is inconvenient and at times hard, especially when every molecule in your body says, “Let’s have a pumpkin spice Reese’s cup.

Is LCHF fat for you? I don’t know. You could try it and let me know how it goes. All I can say is be prepared to buy some new pants, or at least a belt. I don’t have any pants that fit me any more. Not that I every had to buy the big boy pants, but if I don’t cinch up my belt all my pants want to hang low like all those cool kids that hang out down by the gas station. Oh, and my ab muscles show through my skin, if  you can believe that. This is an ab-selfie free blog so I can’t show you the proof, but they’re there, and I do very little ab work.

So there you have it, my low carb/high fat blog. This is about the third iteration of it and I’m sorry it’s not any better than it is.

 

Posted in Health and Fitness, Ironman, ironman louisville, Kansas City Marathon, marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kansas City Marathon 2014

Last Saturday, October 18, I ran the Kansas City Marathon.

I noticed this year at the KC Marathon that there were a lot more Royals fans than what I remember from last year. Funny how that works. (The Royals are playing in the World Series, for those who don’t know. The World Series is like the World Cup championship match of baseball. Baseball is…oh, never mind.)

I ran the KC Marathon this year in 3:51, seven minutes better than last year. Yay! You have to claim small victories. I don’t have much to say about training or the race itself, it was all pretty uneventful, except for two small things:

1) I got hit in the back of the leg by a drone. I felt something whack me on my right calf not far out of the gate. I turned around and saw one of those helicopter drones trying to get back up in the air. People were having to weave out of its way. Earlier in the year I was at a triathlon and they used a drone like that to record some footage with a GoPro. I assume that’s what this one was doing.

2) I just about got taken out by a dude on a hand-crank wheelchair. As I understand it, the hand-cranks are the equivalent of a bicycle, so why he was using it in a running race is beyond me. In triathlon he’d use the hand-crank chair on the bike portion, and the, well, whatever you call those other racing wheelchairs where you actually have to turn the wheels with your hands, for the run. At any rate, this dude came screaming by me on a rather steep down hill. I caught sight of him at the last second and jumped out of the way. And I wasn’t the only one that had to avoid him. There were plenty of times I had to slow down and move over to avoid running over someone. I think that rule should apply to everyone.

The thing I wanted to tell you is that for three weeks leading up to the race I ate very few carbs, less that 50 grams per day, and some days less than 30. I had no sugar (minute traces, if any) for those three weeks as well. Though I normally eat few carbs, I’ve never restricted myself like that before. And I certainly didn’t carb load the night before (BBQ because we were in KC after all). Then, during the race, I used zero energy drinks, rehydrating only with water. Also, I didn’t use any gels, goos, energy bars, or fruit. What I ate was hazelnut butter, which I carried with me. So water and hazelnut butter. I used the hazelnut butter because, though it does have a few carbs, it has a good amount of fat and protein, so there is a good mix.

So, did any of that help? That’s a good question, but the answer is, I don’t think so. But, I don’t think it hurt and I don’t think I would have done any better taking in a bunch of carbs during the run. I still bonked pretty hard at around mile 18 (I know, so cliché), not unlike last year when I was taking in carbs. But I never walked. I actually “sprinted” in thanks to the leader of the 3:50 pace group. He just swept me up with his group and encouraged me to finish fast, which is what we did. Oh, and I only had to stop and pee once.

My plan was to hold an eight minute pace throughout the race. That would put me in at 3:30. That, in actuality, was a stretch goal. Realistically I thought I could do 3:45. Turns out I could only do 3:51. Maybe next year.

One more thought. I felt just as beat down after this race, a mere marathon, as I did after Ironman Louisville. Who can explain that to me?

Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.

Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.

Posted in Health and Fitness, ironman louisville, Kansas City Marathon, marathon, Running | Tagged | 3 Comments

How to Complete an Ironman Race – Specifically, Ironman Louisville

One more post about Ironman and then I’ll give it a rest, I promise.

Finisher Medal

Finisher Medal

I’ve started this post a couple of times and what I realize is I don’t have a lot to tell you. I completed Ironman Louisville 2014 in 13 hours and 51 minutes. That’s not a great time for a 42 year old man. I can tell you how I approached training and what I did, but it won’t lead you to a great finish. If you want to finish an Ironman race with an average time, however, read on.

My bona fides are:
42 years old (at time of the race)
Male
Husband
Father of 3
Full time job
Family, work, school, church, and community obligations
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 150 lbs (at time of the race)

Additionally, I am not an athlete. I didn’t come into triathlon having a background in one of the disciplines. Trust me, if you were picking people for your team, I’d be one of the last you’d choose.

Having said all that, I signed up for Ironman Louisville 2014 in October of 2013. That same month I ran my first marathon, the Kansas City Marathon. Below I’ve listed all the training I recorded from October 2013 up to race day, August 24, 2014.

Swimming
34 sessions
27.33 miles
18:30 total time
(swim split at race: 1:16:55)

Cycling
73 sessions
1152 miles
72:00 total time
16.3 MPH, average
(bike split at race: 6:58:00)

Running
94 sessions
477 miles
70:57 total time
8:49 average pace
(run split at race: 5:11:16)

I also did strength training pretty consistently which included bench press on Tuesdays, squats on Wednesdays, and chin-ups and overhead press on Thursdays. Five heavy sets of each (heavy for me). I didn’t normally record the time it took to do these but most days it would take 15-20 minutes.

Not super impressive. If you add it all up, from October 2013 to race day I worked out about a half hour a day. Are there a few sessions that didn’t get recorded? Sure. And what if I add in the time it took to lift weights? To be generous let’s say I worked out, on average, 45 minutes per day. By the way, those numbers above include the KC Marathon and whatever other races I did, which includes the Kansas 70.3 in June 2014.

All my swims were in a pool. Most of my bike sessions were on my trainer in my garage. A few of my runs were on a treadmill, but most were outside in the elements. I especially tried to go out and run in the heat because Louisville gets hot in August. My longest bike ride was 106 miles 2 weeks before the Ironman. My longest run after the KC Marathon in October was 13.1 miles on two occasions, one being the Kansas 70.3 I mentioned. My longest swim was 2500 yards.

So how did I complete an Ironman? I guess I just wanted to, though previously I never thought I had the patience to train for one. I used to read, and still do, of long training sessions, several days a week, and I knew that would never work for me. Doing one thing for one hour is really pushing it for me. It’s hard to stay focused for that long. I feel this most acutely in the pool. Often it’s all I can do to stay in the pool past 30 minutes.

What I did try to do, however, is hold a faster pace on those shorter training sessions than what I planned to do in the race. I can’t say I did a great job of always cranking up the intensity, because those 5:30 AM runs don’t lend themselves to high intensity after just rolling out of bed.

So let me just make a list of my biggest pieces of advice on how to complete an Ironman:

1. Pick a race, sign up and pay your money.
2. Look at a calendar and decide how you’re going work in your workouts on a day to day basis. When is the pool open? Are you able to really train outdoors on a bike or do you need to get a trainer? Will you run in the mornings or afternoons? If at all possible, set aside 5 days a week to swim, bike, and run.
3. When you do swim, bike, and run, do so at a higher pace than you plan to race.
4. Early on, set realistic goals for your race, swim time, bike time, etc. Know what kind of pace you will need to hit those goals, then see #3 above.
5. Read about and practice race day nutrition. This may be the most important piece of advice I have. Don’t just have an idea of what you’re going to do on race day, practice it. I did a combination of nut bars and energy gels, along with water and energy drinks on the bike, and gels, energy drinks, bananas and whatever else they had on the run. I could’ve done better heeding my own advice on this one.
6. Rest. You can’t do everything everyday. And allow some flexibility in your schedule. If you thrash your legs on a big bike ride, don’t run the next day. Perhaps you swim easy, or just take the day off. You have to recover in order to come back stronger for your next work out.

These points are optional (well, they’re all optional, except #1):

7. At some point leading up to the race, complete the distances individually. In other words, swim 2.4 miles, ride a century (plus 12), sign up and run a marathon. For me, psychologically, it was important to know that I could complete those distances though never having done them back to back to back.
8. Sign up for some sprint or olympic distance tris, or, if you can, a 70.3. They’re good practice and I treated all my races this year as training days.

I don’t think anyone has completed an Ironman race and regretted it. There may be some who completed the race, got the tattoo and regretted that, but not the race. And then you can brag the rest of your life. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to slip Ironman into any of your conversations.

“Did you see the Royals’ game last night?

“Yeah, that was a long game. It reminded me of when I raced Ironman Louisville.”

See, it’s easy.

Oh, and don’t think you need to go out and spend even $1000 on a bike. I have an off-brand aluminum bike (carbon forks) that cost $575. I’m sure those expensive bikes are nice, but I’m talking about finishing an Ironman, and an aluminum bike is all it took for me.

In the midst of Ironman Louisville I said to myself, “I’m never doing this again.” A month and a half removed from it, however, I’m thinking about how I can better my time. Hmm. If my wife is reading this, it won’t be next summer, I promise.

 

 

Posted in Cycling, Health and Fitness, Ironman, ironman louisville, marathon, Running, Swimming, triathlon | Tagged | 4 Comments

Ironman Louisville 2014 – Running Edition

Like my actual Ironman race, these posts about my race are taking longer than I thought.

 

Good start to a marathon

Good start to a marathon

At fifteen minutes and 20 seconds my second and final transition took a lot more time than it should have. I changed socks, changed sunglasses, put on a sweatband, put on my running shoes, got my Garmin, applied more Chamois Butter to a sensitive area, got sunscreened, and used the port-a-john. Maybe all of that does warrant fifteen minutes.

Thus I began to run a marathon. A marathon!

Any time you have to do anything, and then you say, “Then you run a marathon,” it’s going to be epic.

Well, I have to mow the yard, then I have to run a marathon.

I have to write a blog post, then I have to run a marathon.

I have to eat breakfast, then later run a marathon.

Adding a marathon to any activity automatically makes everything harder.

So I swam my 2.4 miles. I rode 112 miles. Why not now run a marathon?

I fully expected to jump off my bike and run nine minute miles over the course of the marathon. That, my friend, didn’t happen. The first mile or so went OK. Sure, I was feeling it, but my Garmin said I was at an 8:30 pace. Whoa! Let’s slow this bad boy down. We got 25.2 more of these to go.

Shortly after that I began to crash. I’d staved off dehydration and a sick stomach all day, but it was catching up to me. I carried twelve more salt tabs and I wanted to spread them out over the entire course, but it was like they were having no effect. I got sicker and sicker. Additionally my legs were getting weaker and hurting more and more with each stride. The marathon was going to be a sufferfest.

There was a lot of carnage out there on the course. I saw a dude in the fetal position lying on the grass. Again, there were volunteers on hand so I didn’t need to stop. The most disturbing part, however, was that I had to intersperse walking with my running. I planned to walk the aid stations, but it was so hard to get moving again when I did. Also, when I did run it was so slow I probably could’ve walked just as fast.

Yes, it was hot, in the 90s, but there was actually quite a bit of shade from the buildings and one particular street was tree-lined, so it could’ve been worse. I finished in the dark so there was no sun to deal with then. The course is also about as flat as a pancake. The course is two out and backs. Of note you go through the University of Louisville’s neighborhood and you run by Churchill Downs. The finish line is at 4th Street Live, an entertainment section of downtown Louisville.

4th Street Live finish line

4th Street Live finish line

Blurry finish

Blurry finish

I didn’t puke, but I did stop at a port-a-john and left a number two. I didn’t want to but was willing to try anything if it would make me feel better. Afterwards I only felt marginally better.

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If there is anything I would do differently getting ready for this race it would be to add some longer runs to my training. I signed up for Louisville in October 2013. That same month I ran the KC Marathon, but the longest run I’d done since that day was about 13 miles. I think I could’ve finished a little stronger having done a couple longer runs leading up to the race.

Number 1 Support Crew!

Number 1 Support Crew!

Finally I’m at the finish line. The crowd is cheering. I feel elated, and I decide I don’t need an IV after all (I was prepared to ask for one). My wife hollers at me from above. She and the kids had found a vantage point on an overhead walkway. I look up and wave. The volunteer handling me is trying to make sure I’m OK. He then escorts me over to the photographer, then he gets me my finisher cap and tee-shirt. Another volunteer hands me some chocolate milk. What a day!

Swim 2.4 Miles – 1:16:55
Bike 112 Miles – 6:58:00
Run 26.2 Miles – 5:11:16

T1 – 00:09:29
T2 – 00:15:20

Total – 13:51:00

There were just over 2000 athletes that day. Overall I came in at 985. Of the males age 40-44 (my division) there were 303 and I came in at 156. My goal was 13 hours. I’d love to have that marathon back.

In a lot of ways I’m surprised I even signed up for this race. I never could imagine myself having the patience to train for an Ironman. Honestly, I think I signed up and did it just to say I did one. Now I did it, and surprisingly I don’t feel any sense of a let down. Though there is nothing noble about finishing an Ironman I still feel a great sense of accomplishment. No one can say I didn’t have the fortitude to finish an Ironman that day.

What’s next? The Kansas City Marathon is October 18, 2014. That’s my next and final race of the season. Six days removed from Ironman Louisville I ran four miles. Though my legs felt fine before the run, they were still sore during the run, but nothing horrible. The next day I ran six miles and felt even better than the day before. It feels weird training for a race that doesn’t involve goggles or a bike.

Do I look tired?

Do I look tired?

Posted in Health and Fitness, Ironman, ironman louisville, marathon, Running, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ironman Louisville 2014 – I Want to Ride my Bicycle

So as I exit the changing tent at T1 the volunteers are there to slather us with sunscreen. I got a quick slather. I think the volunteers were in such a hurry, because they knew we were in a hurry, that they missed a spot or two. I have a couple of random burn spots on my shoulders, but nothing bad. Again, hats off to the volunteers. For some reason at T1 they had sunscreen lotion, but at T2 they used a spray.

I grab my bike and I’m off. Only 112 more miles to go on the bike. No big deal, right?

The bike course at Louisville is a “lollipop” route. You go out, ride a loop twice on one section of the course before turning back for home on the same route on which you went out. Officially there’s a little over 5,000 feet of elevation gain on this course over the 112 miles. My goal was a modest 16 miles per hour. I figured I’d average a little over that, but I set the goal to stay consistent throughout the ride. As long as my computer said I was still averaging 16-17 miles per hour I was happy. This would put me back at T2 after about seven hours on the bike.

I started the course with one water and two Powerades. I would drink the water pretty quickly and not keep any more than two bottles at a time. I didn’t want to carry the weight of four bottles over the entire course given there were plenty of aid stations where I could get replacements. I also took a number of nut bars, gels, and a Clif Bar. If I ate and drank everything onboard I’d consume around 2,300 calories on the bike. Oh, I had 12 salt tablets as well. I did pretty well with the fluids. I never ran out and I consistently consumed waters and energy drinks throughout the course. I couldn’t quite get all of my nutrition down, and I ran out of salt with probably 25 miles to go.

Twice I had to make a pit stop. That first one at about mile 21 was a doozy. I had the longest pee ever! After hydrating all morning and not taking a pee after the swim I had A LOT of urine onboard. Some triathletes talk about peeing on their bikes. I can’t bring myself to do it. If I were competing for a Kona slot, maybe.  To be sure, that may be what it takes to qualify for Kona, and I’ll consider it once I’m at that point.

My family saw me twice in Lagrange, KY at about mile 40 and mile 70

My family saw me twice in Lagrange, KY at about mile 40 and mile 70

For me, the ride was uneventful. I mean, for a 112 mile ride through the Kentucky countryside it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t wreck. I saw a fellow who wiped out at the bottom of a hill. He already had volunteers surrounding him so I didn’t need to stop, but as I went by I heard ambulance sirens. I didn’t flat out, so that was good. No other mechanical problems. I didn’t find it too hot out there. Really, everything was fine, despite never having ridden that distance in my life. OK, I did 106 miles a couple of weeks prior, but that’s it. From the time I signed up for this race, around 10/01/13, I had ridden 1,151 miles, and 657 of those miles were on the trainer. Again, not saying that’s what you should do, but it’s what I did.

I came in just under the seven hour mark. I could have shaved a few minutes if I hadn’t taken those pit stops, but nothing super significant, maybe 10 minutes or so. I got to the dismount line and got off. The group I came in with, and I, all walked our bikes down to the volunteers and T2. Generally we’re jogging with our bikes as we come in, but not this day, not the group of seven-hour riders. Our legs weren’t ready for jogging (which doesn’t bode well because, well, we now have to run a marathon). The walk was so long back to T2, again about a quarter of a mile, and my toes were sore from being in my cycling shoes (which had never happened to me, I’m not sure what was going on), so I took my shoes off and walked in my socks. I hand my bike to a volunteer and I’m off to the changing tent once more.

Coming in to T2, still enough energy to smile

Coming in to T2, still enough energy to smile

The only other thing about the bike is the difficulty of not being in violation of the drafting rule. Drafting is against the rules in long course triathlon, and most short course races as well, but with 2,000 + riders it’s nearly impossible to follow the rule to a T. I did my best not to draft, and I saw several others trying to avoid it as well, but on certain congested sections of the road you couldn’t help but find yourself drafting (at least according to USAT rules). I didn’t get any penalties and I only saw one course official the whole ride. I’m sure they don’t concern themselves with the mere mortals riding at a seven hour pace.

So, I’m off and running.

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Ironman Louisville – Old Man River

In my last post I mentioned that I arrived in Louisville on Wednesday evening. The race was the following Sunday. What I didn’t mention was that I tried to never be seen without a water in my hand. I determined to stay hydrated up through Sunday. I did pretty well because I felt like one of those people in the TV commercials for the drug that treats over-active bladders. I was constantly in the restroom. I also made sure I never got hungry. I ate regular meals and loaded up on vegetables as much as I could. Nutrition wise I felt good heading into Sunday.

I also did some light work outs and stretches Thursday and Friday morning. I ran on the treadmill for a half hour on Thursday, followed by stretching, and I pedaled a stationary bike for a half hour on Friday followed by more stretching. I took it easy Saturday with no work outs.

So Sunday morning rolls around – 4AM the alarm goes off. I get up and start getting ready. Everything is ready to go, I just need to get my tri suit on and get the family going. I eat two boiled eggs, drink a cup of coffee, and start sipping on a Powerade. We all get out the door by 5:15. None of us would see the hotel room again until around 10PM.

The kids with their dad

The kids with their dad

I get to transition and start setting up my bike. I borrowed a fellow competitor’s pump but I couldn’t get it to work. I was too embarrassed to bother him any more so I just handed it back and said thanks. Later I took my bike up to bike support and got my 100 psi in both tires.

Once transition is ready to go, the family and I head towards the swim entry, Tumbleweed Park. It’s about a mile from transition. On the way I munch on a Clif Bar, but I can’t get it all down. We get to Tumbleweed, I get body marked, use the port-a-john, kiss my wife and daughters, fist bump my son, and make my way to the time trial swim start. In the meantime I drink a coconut water and suck down an energy gel.

The Louisville swim start is a time trial start. It may be the only Ironman race in America with such a start. All the athletes line up, and once they fire the cannon, they go one after the other, jumping off one of two docks into the Ohio River. Have you ever stood in a single file line with more than 2,000 people? I can now say I have, and though I didn’t plan it this way, I somehow managed to get in the back of the line. There may have been 10 people behind me. If I had known where I would be in line I never would have started walking to the back of the line, I would have let it come to me. I seriously walked about a mile just to find the back of the line, then I had to walk all the way back, following the line, just to get back to the swim entry.

Dead man walking

Dead man walking

But here it was! I was walking down the dock. I put on my swim cap and goggles, gave a final wave to my wife and kids, and jumped into the Ohio River. Your time starts once you cross the timing pad just a few feet before you jump. I was so excited, apparently, that I forgot to start my watch. I swam for a couple of minutes and remembered finally to start it.

That's me in the standard issue white, black, and red Pearl Izumi tri suit

That’s me in the standard issue white, black, and red Pearl Izumi tri suit

This was not a wetsuit legal race, which meant the water temperature was above 76.1 degrees F. The water was not bath-water warm like I heard it could be. It actually felt perfect; just cool enough to invigorate you but not so cold as to chill you. After swimming just a few strokes all of my anxiety about cold water faded (for a while).

Big head

Big head

On the above pic, my wife said just as she went to snap the photo the people in front raised that big head, which was just as I was jumping in. I’m holding my goggles, by the way, not my nose.

After jumping in you swim up-stream, but you’re behind an island and there is very little current, if any. I didn’t notice any current. Someone said the distance from the docks to the turn buoy was 9/10 of a mile. I figured I’d get there in 35-40 minutes, and I was right on time. Just as we cleared the island, and before we got to the buoy, I got into a very cold current of water. I don’t know where it was coming from but it had to be 68 degrees or colder. Now I’m thinking this is how cold the main channel is going to be. Oh, this is not good. This water is cold! But alas! After maybe 75 yards I cleared that current and found the warm water. I made the turn at the red buoy and I’m heading for home down the main channel of the Ohio River.

I’m not a great swimmer and though I expected to finish the 2.4 mile swim in an hour and forty-five minutes I still had this nagging worry that I wouldn’t finish or would take longer than the two-hour and twenty-minute cut off time. Once I started swimming downstream I quickly forgot about the cut off. I knew I was going to make it.

It had stormed the last couple of evenings in Louisville and the extra run off helped to increase the speed of the current. At least that’s what I heard. Whatever the cause, swimming down stream was like walking on one of those moving sidewalks at the airport. I stopped to get my bearings at one point, and when I looked up at a buoy I just kept drifting on by. All I had to do was tread water and I made forward progress, but I wanted to save some time so I kept on swimming. I exited the water down by Joe’s Crabshack and my watch said 1:15! What? Holla! That swim was awesome! 1:15 is not a great time for real swimmers, but for me it’s like I’m Michael Phelps up in here.

I exit the water and make my way toward transition. Transition was a good quarter-mile from the swim exit, so most of us jogged in our bare feet. I still felt well enough to jog. I wish that held true for the second transition, but we’ll get there later.

I get to transition, the volunteers help me get my bag, and I run into the changing tent. I’d never experienced a changing tent at any race, but apparently a lot of folks like to change out of what they swam in and put on cycling clothes at an Ironman. I was prepared to wear my tri suit all day, but what I did do is put Chamois Butter on my sensitive areas. Chamois Butter doesn’t sponsor this blog, but let me say that stuff did the trick. I wore that tri suit, which has a thinner chamois than cycling shorts, for 112 miles and did not develop even one sore. I felt comfortable all day.

It’s here that I can’t say enough about the volunteers. They were great all day. The fellows that worked the changing tent deserve special recognition. They had to watch dudes like me put that Chamois Butter in places to which you should never see another grown man reach his hand. Add to that the heat and humidity inside that tent. God bless those guys.

I truly meant to wrap up this race, but we’re already at 1,200 words, so please allow me to hit pause and I’ll continue with the bike tomorrow (or the next day). I had already posted some work out data from 10/01/13 through 08/23/14 below, so I’ll leave that there for now. If you cut to the chase, from the time I signed up for this race to race day I worked out, on average, a half hour a day. Not saying that’s right or wrong, it’s just how it worked out. So, if I can complete an Ironman with that volume of training, I’m sure you can too, but more on that later.

Swim

# of Work Outs
34

Total Time
18 hours 34 minutes

Total Distance
27.33 miles

Bike

# of Work Outs
73

Total Time
72 hours

Total Distance
1,151 miles

Run

# of Work Outs
94

Total Time
71 hours 51 minutes

Total Distance
477 miles

Total time working out 10/1/13-8/23/14

164 hours (0.5 hours per day)

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Ironman Louisville 2014 – Ironman Weekend

Today I’ll write about my observations and what happened during my Ironman weekend leading up to race morning. This post is more to help me remember in years to come what actually happened race weekend. So please skip this post if you’re not inclined to learn how we spent our time in Kentuckiana. Tomorrow I’ll post how I actually completed Ironman Louisville, including my approach to training and whether or not I pooped during the marathon.

The weekend started for me on Wednesday. We loaded up the bike and the kids in our van and we didn’t look a lot different from those Okies heading towards California in The Grapes of Wrath. We packed a cooler full of food and we had another large bag of “snacks”. We carried every electronic device we owned including two computers, a PC and a Mac. On top of all that I had my gear and everyone had at least a suitcase full of clothes (there’s five of us, by the way). So there wasn’t much room to spare. I don’t have a bike rack for the van but the bike fit on the inside nicely once I removed the wheels and turned it upside down.

Ready to hit the road

Ready to hit the road

We headed east to Louisville. Actually, we headed east to New Albany, Indiana. We stayed in a Best Western on the Indiana side of the river. We passed through St. Louis and spied the arch just like every road trip movie. From there it was I-64 east through southern Illinois and Indiana before arriving in Kentuckiana.

We never did see an incident

We never did see an incident

The Best Western was OK, but again, we looked like a bunch of Gypsies after we loaded all of our wares onto a cart to wheel into our room. We swam in the pool, which was actually quite nice, ate some Subway, and then settled in for the evening. The next day I had to go check in.

Check in started at 9AM. We got down there around 10. Check in was at a nice hotel in downtown Louisville. I think it’s called the Galt House. We should’ve stayed there, it would’ve been so much more convenient, but we’re always looking to save a buck. Check in didn’t take very long as there were no lines for me. I got in, signed the waivers, got banded, got my swag bag, looked through the shop, bought some Chamois Butter, and was done by 10:30.

So, what to do until the athlete briefing at 2PM. I don’t think the athlete briefing is mandatory. I don’t remember seeing that it was in the athlete guide, but I like to go to make sure there’s nothing I’m missing. On the Ironman Louisville Facebook page there were a lot of rumors swirling around and I thought I’d get the real deal at the briefing. But to kill time unitl then we walked down the street to the Louisville Slugger factory and museum. We took the tour, got our little wooden bats, and then headed back up the street. We still had a little time so we ate at Hard Rock. Remember when it was cool to have one of those shirts? Apparently it’s not anymore, and the food is so so. On par with Applebee’s really, and that’s not saying very much.

 

Golden David?

Golden David?

That's a big bat

That’s a big bat

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At the briefing they did say there were no plans to shorten the race. That was circulated on Facebook and there was even a local news story on TV that suggested it was a possibility. The reason people thought they would shorten it was because of the heat and humidity, but the officials said no, there were no plans to shorten it. That was a relief, because who wants to compete in a shortened Ironman?

By the way, I love watching the local news in any town I visit because it’s all exactly the same. Just change the names of the towns and the neighborhoods and you’ll think you were watching news from your local station. I watched the NBC affiliate, WAVE TV 3, while in Louisville, because one of their anchors, John Boel, regularly competes in Ironman Louisville. So right off the bat WAVE TV had the most Ironman cred. At least for me. You can decide for yourself.

Where was I? Oh yes. After the briefing we headed back to the room, swam in the pool, ate food from our mobile pantry, and finally hit the sack. Since I got all my check in done on Thursday, I had no responsibilities on Friday. So we went to Churchill Downs where they run the Kentucky Derby, ate some lunch down by the Ohio River at a local pizza joint, and then went to Louisville Water Tower Park. Now, I know that sounds boring as all get out, but if you are in Louisville you should check out that place. It is very nice, and nicely preserved, and you will see the largest steam engine you will ever see there in one of the old pump houses. The buildings were built during a time when people thought that even pump houses should look like Greek temples, and the water tower itself (which is actually just a pressure relief tower) is a magnificent piece of architecture. By that time I had been on my feet enough and wanted to go back to the room, so same routine as the night before.

Jockeys

Jockeys

And they're off

And they’re off

This horse ran the Kentucky Derby several years ago

This horse ran the Kentucky Derby several years ago

Water Park

Water Park

Saturday. T-1 until Ironman Louisville. There was a practice swim down by the swim exit at 8AM, but I skipped it in favor of sleep. I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep Saturday night. Gear check in was at noon. We got over there shortly after 12 and I dropped off my bike and gear bags. At the 70.3 races I’ve been in we always had to drop off our bikes the day before, but not all our other gear. We had to drop off our bikes, and bike gear, and our run gear on Saturday. In most ways it was convenient because we wouldn’t have to mess with any of it in the morning. In other ways it was inconvenient becaue it was supposed to rain that evening and I didn’t want all my stuff to get wet. I put my shoes and socks down in a Wal-Mart bag, tied it up, and then put that down in my gear bag and tied it up. It rained that night but honestly my stuff stayed pretty dry.

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Transition getting set up

Transition getting set up

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Now, it just so happens that my grandmother and my aunt live in New Albany, Indiana. When I signed up for Ironman Louisville I didn’t realize that New Albany was just across the river from Louisville, so it was a nice coincidence that I was racing near where they lived. We went over to visit Saturday afternoon. We chatted and got caught up which helped take my mind off of what was coming up the next day. We said goodbye and then headed back to the room for the same routine as before, except I didn’t swim in the pool.

As expected, I hardly slept Saturday night, and then the alarm went off at 4AM. Transition opened at 4:30 AM but I had no intention of getting down there that early. This was race day, the day that was looming on my calendar for so long was finally here! Should I chicken out? Should I withdraw? What if the water is cold? What if I don’t even make it through the swim? What if something else? What if? No. I was going to at least start this race. Besides, my family would’ve killed me if I dragged them all the way to Louisville only to back out at the last minute.

That’s some of what happened leading up to race day. As promised I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of the actual race in my next post. I might even mention the horrors of the transition changing tent. Remember that chamois butter I told you I bought? Ideally you’ll never have to see another grown man apply that to himself, but seeing it is part of what makes you an Ironman! Thank you for reading.

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