Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Week 9 Summary

Week 9 was my first week back in the water although I only swam one time.  It was my first swim since Beach 2 Battleship on October 26th.  I started with 300 yards and my triceps were burning something fierce.  After kicking some they loosened up and except for feeling slow I started to regain a feel for the water.  The week was a good one.  I biked 150 miles, ran 51 miles which was my highest weekly total in that discipline so far this year, and swam 2,400 yards.  My total training time was 17.5 hours.  I did a long ride of 60 miles on Friday with local triathlete Dan Ward and it was VERY windy.  We rode almost straight into the wind the first half and then had a comfortable ride home although it seemed like the wind was dying down substantially in the evening.  We didn't begin the ride until almost 4:00 so by the time we turned the evening calm was probably setting in.  Sunday was my longest run yet this year of 13 miles.  It was the best I've felt on a long run yet.  My past few runs of 70 minutes or more all have left the top of my right foot a bit sore in the big tendon that runs over the ankle.  I didn't have any soreness after this long run.  I've been doing more interval work on the bike and while running.  I had 2 interval bike sessions and 2 interval run workouts.  Wednesday I ran a 10 minute warm up and then ran 6x3 minutes hard with 2 minute jog recovery between each.  Saturday I was really pleased with a track workout I did with Jen.  It was in the morning only 14 hours after finishing my long ride and my legs could still feel that ride in the wind.  I ran 4 sets of (600, 400, 200) trying to get some speed work at faster than 5k pace.  I ran consistent times all the way through hitting my 600's in 5:12/mile pace, the 400's in 4:56 pace, and the 200's all in 33 (4:24/mile pace).  I was most pleased by how my legs responded after the long ride.  Jen was very quick as well averaging under 5:20 pace through the entire 3 miles of intervals.  We were able to let the kids run around the track and play in the "sand box" (long jump pit) while we did the work out.  With the kids growing up so fast they are becoming much more a part of our workouts.  On Tuesday we ran 6 miles as a family with Owen on his bike and me pushing Payton in the single running stroller, and Super Mom running alongside.  Owen had his first big bike crash a few weeks back with some road rash scars and a bruise on his head under his helmet (thankfully he knows the importance of wearing that!)  He hasn't let that scare him away from his bike.  The kids are in tee ball on the same team and I found out practices are on Wednesday night.  That created a conflict for me with the Wednesday night group ride I enjoy getting to on the same night.  I decided I will help with tee ball and ride intervals alone before practice so I can be there to help with their practice.  I knew when I began this journey in 2009 that if I was still going strong 5 years later there would have to be changes to the way I trained.  Those changes are in place but I believe my best racing is still ahead of me despite the changes.  It adds motivation knowing I can prove to others that the balance of family, work, and competition can still produce good results.  The start of this week has been very encouraging.  I'll post more on that Sunday or Monday.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Excuses...Weeks 3-8 Summary

I apologize for the sporadic posting...or lack there of.  There is no good excuse.  I want to post every week to update followers on this journey.  I am now 8 weeks into training for the 2014 race season.  I'm excited but the first 8 weeks has had ups and downs.  Out of the gates I was ahead of where I was last year.  Then for some reason after taking a mini 3 day break from training after 30 straight days I struggled to get things back on track.  I was not recovering well.  My long run left me with deep quad soreness that would not go away.  Over our spring break a couple weeks ago I could tell my legs were REALLY tired and not recovering well.  All I could muster on the bike was base mileage rides on the trainer.  Anything hard I did not have power for.  Running was even worse.  The deep soreness made easy runs feel hard and hard runs unattainable.  I was humbled when I started a track workout with my wife.  Initially I had a faster goal pace than her.  After warming up and feeling the deep soreness in my quads I decided I would just run with her.  We were supposed to run 3x (1200/400).  On the first 1200 I stopped after just 1 lap.  I decided not to dig the hole any deeper.  I watched Jen go on to run the workout at 5:45 pace on her 1200's and 5:20 pace on her 400's.  I managed to run a 400 with Owen in 2:05. 

I have been frustrated with my lack of losing weight.  I am only 5 weeks away from a race and I'm not near where I wanted to be by May 11th.  I haven't lost any weight in the past 5 weeks and I'm just fluctuating between 168 and 171.  I weighed 152 for Beach 2 Battleship last October.  The extra 20 lbs. doesn't make running very fun.  I could think of a lot of excuses.  I hear excuses all the time.  In the past week I've heard the following...
1.  I missed practice for a doctor appointment (after the fact)
2.  I missed practice for a funeral
3.  I don't have my assignment because I left it at home
4.  I don't have my assignment that was handed out last week because I was gone yesterday
5.  I don't have my assignment because I lost it
6.  I didn't try in the mile time trial because I'm not in good shape yet
7.  I didn't turn in my goal sheet because I forgot my goals

Some of these are great excuses and some are not.  The point is there are always reasons not to get things done.  One of my coaching mentors onetime told me "There are 2 kinds of people in this world...those who get things done and those who find reasons not to get things done."

I could sit here and say that I'm getting older and it's tougher to lose weight (something many others have told me when I say I'm struggling with getting to race weight).  I could say it's tougher because my kids are getting older and playing 2 on 1 basketball in the basement may trump my run workout.  I could say I'm struggling due to the crumby weather.  I could say I just haven't felt great and I needed the extra rest so that is why I've skipped some workouts.  I could say maybe because I haven't started swimming my metabolism hasn't kicked into full gear...there are lots of excuses but ultimately I'm someone who simply realizes I haven't done the work to be where I want right now.  The reasons may be good (or maybe some don't think they are).  The reasons don't really matter come May 11th.  I won't get a head start when I say that I'm not in as good of shape as I should be for this or that...I'll have to deal with what I have set myself up for. 

I am far from giving up or feeling sorry for myself.  I'm accepting I'm not where I want right now but plan to get things turned around.  For the first time this year I printed off my weekly goal checklist to help me stay focused on doing the little things I think have made me successful.  I changed my eating habits about 2.5 weeks ago and have cut down tremendously on the amount of refined sugar I'm consuming.  I am addicted to sugar like millions of Americans.  The more sugar I eat, the more I want it. Currently I'm eating less than 10 grams of refined sugar a day.  I've only given in to the addiction twice in that time.  I'm feeling like I have more energy.  I'm recovering better.  This week I did 2 bike interval workouts, one track workout, 1 tempo run, and got in 43 run miles and 230 bike miles.  Things are starting to look up and I'm remaining confident my weight will fall if I continue eating healthy.  My point in all of this is to show that any training cycle...any journey for that matter is rarely met without ups and downs.  Training is a series of tearing the body down...resting up and gaining new strength...and then tearing down again so the adaptations will leave you in the best shape of your life.  The graph below shows what most hope from training and the 2nd one shows how it really works. 
I'm excited about the weather turning to spring finally!  This weekend I rode my first outdoor rides of the year so far.  I put over 1,300 miles on the trainer (65 hours on the saddle) before getting outside.  I rode 50 miles on Saturday and was tired after doing a morning long run of 11 miles.  Sunday I rode 60 and felt very strong.  I pushed the hills at the end of the ride and even got my wattage over 700 on some of the final climbs.  I got a new Garmin 510 from Healthy Habits this week and a SRAM Red Quarq power meter crank that give me a lot of cool data to learn from.  This next week will be my first week of swimming and I'm really excited to get back in the water.  I haven't swam a yard since October 26th at Beach 2 Battleship.  I really hope our lakes warm up soon because I enjoy open water swimming much more than pool swimming.  Thanks for reading...remember when things are difficult the next peak is just around the corner.  Stick with it.  DREAM BIG! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 2...progress

I've always been a big believer in the 10 day rule.  The 10 day rule is that it takes the body about 10 days to adapt to workouts.  Therefore the first 10 days starting any new training cycle should always be tough but after 10 days things begin to feel better each day.  I am now past my initial 10 days and I'm seeing progress.  For the week my total training time was 16.5 hours.  I biked 215 miles, ran 33 miles, and attended class at Barre563 once.  I also did core work 12 times, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope all twice, and plyometrics once.  My harder sessions for the week included a 2.5 mile tempo run on Friday where I averaged 5:55/mile and an interval session on Wednesday where I did 7x2 minutes at 5:20 pace following each with 90 seconds easy recovery.  I was a bit sore from that one since I had not run that fast since last October.  My long run this week was 1 hour.  I try to slowly build that up adding about 5 minutes each week for the first 4-5 weeks and then 5 minutes every other week after that.  I'll try to be to 15 miles or 1 hour 45 minutes by summer. 

I am enjoying coaching 3 individuals this year.  I have been inspired by their commitment each week to stick to a plan.  Two of them are training for their first Ironman events and one is training for his first 1/2 Ironman.  Today I had the chance to do a 4 mile road race with one of the individuals and it was VERY inspiring to me.  Daniel Westbay from DeWitt started working with me 8 weeks ago.  Daniel had a 4 mile personal best of just over 30 minutes from back in 2010.  This past summer he ran 4 miles in 31:04 on a flat course in Eldridge.  Today he ran 4 miles on a hilly course in 20 degree temperatures in 28:46!!  I couldn't believe how much he has improved.  It was awesome for me to see this and be able to run with him because he has hit every single week as written out.  It was a great example how commitment to a goal and to a plan will lead to success.  It is still very early and he will be much faster by summer when he starts racing triathlons but it was a great benchmark race for him.  I couldn't have been more proud of the work he has put in.  Remember if you are beginning a new journey towards health and fitness that it WILL come if you are patient, have a goal, and work towards that goal.  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 Week 1

I distinctly remember beginning 2013 a year ago and my first run of 3 miles was a death march.  Every step was difficult.  I was in such bad shape I remember thinking I felt like I was at the bottom of Mount Everest staring up to the top wondering how I would climb this mountain by year's end.  The view from the bottom of 2014 is much different. 

On New Year's Eve I weighed myself and was 183.  It was the most I had weighed since I began training seriously for triathlons back in November of 2008.  I had not done a single workout since winning Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance on October 26th and the results showed on the scale.  I coach basketball in the winter and purposefully allow myself to get out of shape.  I have always been a big believer that to see big gains from one season to the next it is important to allow my body to get out of shape and fully rest before any serious gains can be made.  I also realized that 2 months without a workout was long enough.  I was realistic in the goals I set on New Year's Eve.  I still had almost 6 weeks of basketball in front of me.  My goal was to lose weight by beginning to eat healthy, condition with our basketball team, and ride the bike at least 5 hours a week.  My weight dropped each week from 183 to 174, 172, 170, 168, 165, 163, and this week 161.  I averaged about 6.5 hours a week on the bike and ran sprints with our team while eating much cleaner than I had the past 2 months.  Monday night was our last basketball game and the first day of my 2014 season.  The base of bike miles, weight drop, and even the sprints put me in a position far ahead of where I was beginning last year.  Although I don't believe a quicker start necessarily means faster times through the year I do know it made this first week much easier than my first week a year ago. 
For my first week of 2014 my total training time was 16.5 hours.  I biked 10 hours on the trainer or what I calculate to 200 miles, ran 27 miles, and attended class at Barre563 three times for my strength training.  I was sore after each session at Barre.  Attending classes there was a key to my late season success a year ago.  I began attending classes at Barre563 in late July and went on to have some of my best races ever following that. 

All of my bike miles were easy base miles as I continue towards my goal of trimming the extra fat I gained during hibernation.  For running my long run was 55 minutes but I also did 1 interval session of 4x4 minutes hard with 2 minute recovery after each.  I did not push terribly hard being my first week back but I was running the 4 minute periods at 5:45/mile pace and it did not feel too difficult.  I also ran 2x1.5 mile tempo runs on Thursday and I averaged 6:05/mile and 5:55/mile respectively on each.  Neither felt difficult.  I'm in the process of planning a race schedule but I'm pretty confident the big race I will try to peak for will be Ironman Chattanooga on September 28th.  This is a first time event and one I will be looking forward to.  The late September race works out well for me.  I should be able to do all my swimming in the lake here before the temperatures are too cold to swim open water in Iowa.  I came up about 12 days short for my October 26th race this past year.  I will execute a BIG training block from 8 weeks out until 10 days before the race.  I will not race during that time but will focus all my energy on being as fit as I've ever been on September 28th. 
I have decided I will not begin swimming this year until April.  As my kids get older and life gets busier I have to find ways to make this continue to work and one thing I have learned is that I can get in pretty good swim shape in about 4 weeks if I swim consistently.  I also found that by swimming open water for nearly all my swims last year leading up to Beach 2 Battleship I was able to swim my best ever. 

I am proud to race again in 2014 for the iHope Foundation that provides technology and support for low-income students that display outstanding character and work traits.  The iHope Foundation received such incredible support in the first year we were able to endow a scholarship that will go to each student that receives an iPad.  Because the scholarship is in an endowment any contributions made by Iowa donors will earn them a 25% tax credit.  Recently when I was at Amerifile I was pleased to find out that I earned an extra $1,300.00 on my Iowa tax return just because of the contributions I made from my race winnings last year.  The contribution to the scholarship fund is also still a federal tax deduction.  To contribute to the iHope scholarship fund click here.  If you would like to contribute to the technology portion of iHope click here.  Thanks for making a difference to children in need.  In March I will be trying to line up local businesses that would like to support me this year by making a contribution to iHope.  I'm hoping to add some more iHope business supporters' logos to my 2014 race jersey. 

I'm thrilled to have a lot of support for the 2014 journey.  I have been blessed to have support local bike shop Healthy Habits and from local ART provider Kaminski Pain and Performance Care.  I will do all my strength training at Barre563.  I'm also blessed to have support from international companies like GU Energy to keep me fueled through all these workouts and races, Xterra Wetsuits so I can swim new PR's in the Vendetta Sleeveless, and Zipp Speed Weaponry so the wheels under my Specialized Shiv are as fast as anything on a bike.  If you are in the market for a new wetsuit you can use Xterra discount code SA-Jeffp to save 60% off products like the Vector Pro or Vortex.  If you have questions about sleeveless vs. full suit I'd be happy to help.  If you are just embarking on a new fitness journey in 2014 have patience.  With continuous commitment you will see progress you are hoping for.  It may not happen quickly and there will certainly be difficult days but through hard work, commitment to a goal, and BIG DREAMS you will make it happen.  Thanks for the continual support and following this journey.  It's hard for me to believe this will be my 6th year of high level commitment to this sport.  DREAM BIG!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Offseason Update

It has been 10 weeks of offseason since my last race at Beach 2 Battleship.  I enjoyed the extra time spent at home, time coaching, and eating whatever I wanted.  The effects of 10 weeks without working out and eating mostly junk equaled 31 lbs. gained.  I weighed in at 152 lbs. prior to my race at Beach 2 Battleship.  Last week I got on the scale and saw 183.  This made me realize it is time to get going.  I won't be working out on a disciplined schedule until basketball is over in a 4 more weeks but I have begun climbing back on the bike and attending classes at Barre563 which have kicked my butt.  I have been super sore from those classes working muscles that haven't been used in 10 weeks. 

Mostly I am thrilled to update on the iHope Foundation.  The mission of iHope is to provide technology to low-income students in our community who display positive character and work traits.  I used money my grandma left me when she passed away to begin this foundation.  I pledged to contribute all of my race winnings in 2013 to the foundation in hopes of making a life-changing difference for students in our community who work really hard but have a lot of doors closed due to financial reasons.  My goal was to earn $1,500.00 racing.  I hoped to add another $1,000.00 in outside contributions.  The support of iHope has blown me away!  To date we have provided 4 students with iPads and we have also endowed a $1,000.00 scholarship that will go to an iHope recipient upon graduation from high school provided they meet certain academic and attendance criteria.  That scholarship is named in memory of my grandma and is called the Evelyn Lehman iHope Scholarship.  It really ties the mission together by letting the students know in 7th or 8th grade that college is a real possibility and if they stay the course they will have some money to help pay for it.  Our Superintendent also has been working to delegate 2 current scholarships to iHope recipients so we could award 3 iPads each year and provide every student who gets an iPad with a $1,000.00 scholarship.  My hope is that one day the 3 scholarships are all fully funded through the money in the Evelyn Lehman iHope endowment. 

This leaves us with 2 different goals to being the iPads and one being the scholarships.  The scholarship money is endowed by the Great River Bend Community Foundation of Iowa and any contributions made by Iowa residents qualify for the Endow Iowa 25% tax credit in addition to the federal tax deduction.  What this means is that someone who donates $100.00 to the endowed fund will get $25.00 back at tax time from the state plus they get to deduct the $100.00 from federal taxes which means they will see an additional 25.00 savings dependent on which tax bracket they are in.  In short a $100.00 contribution to the foundation will only cost the giver $50.00.  It is another incentive for giving.  The link to the Evelyn Lehman iHope Scholarship is   Receiving the tax credit is easy.  The Great River Community Foundation sends you a form all filled out that requires a few signatures.  You send it back to them and they do the rest.  I already received my confirmation from the state of Iowa about the tax credit. 

To contribute to the iPad part of the foundation you can still send a contribution to the Pleasant Valley schools administration center or click here for a direct link.  This contribution does not qualify for the Endow Iowa tax credit but does still count towards a federal tax deduction.  This goal of awarding 3 iPads and scholarships is a big one but it goes right along with my "Dream Big" mantra.  A few months back in a sermon at church we were told how God rewards those who give generously.  My 2013 race season was proof of that.  After earning just over $1,000.00 in racing winnings in 2012 I earned $4,000.00 after committing to give it all away.  I'm going to do the same this year.  Obviously there are many things we could do with an extra $4,000.00 here at home with the kids but I believe much of my race success and the blessings I have are due to my commitment to giving.  I can't do this alone but together we can make a positive difference in the lives of others.  Huge thanks to Beau and Rachel Perkins, Justin and Amy Paul, and Daniel Westbay for recent contributions to the foundation.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PPD Beach 2 Battleship Race Report and Results

Jen and I made our way to Wilmington, North Carolina on Thursday afternoon.  We got checked in at the race site and then found our hotel before dining on some nice Wilmington pizza and frozen yogurt.  Friday was mostly spent getting gear bags and the bike checked in.  I took the bike out for a short ride after putting it together.  I was really pleased with the job Dan Adams at Healthy Habits has done for my big races getting the drive train all cleaned up.  This is certainly worth doing before a big race during the year.  The bike is noticeably easier to pedal with a clean drive train.  Jen and I looked at the logistical aspects of this point to point course and found out where the swim start and finish were at and drove about 20 miles of the bike course so she would know where to go during the race.  I attended the pre-race dinner with college teammate Chris Sweet who would be doing his first race as a professional triathlete.  The dinner was awesome...the best of any pre-race dinners I have had for Ironman distance events.  I was in bed by 9:00 Friday night awaiting an early alarm. 

The alarm went off at 5:00 for the 7:30 race start but I was actually awake about 10 minutes before that.  I had a light breakfast of bananas, granola, a bagel, and some GU Chomps.  I had eaten plenty the night before at the pre-race dinner.  I was not nervous at all...just excited to get the day started.  It was great having Jen along not racing because she was able to drive me to the first transition where I could drop my T1 gear bag with my warm bike clothes and get my bike ready for the ride with my nutrition and wheels pressure set.  After taking care of those things I was able to get a 1.5 mile run in and some stretches.  Local triathlete and friend Jason Rangel had arranged for a business trip to the Wilmington area and had worked it out so he could attend the race.  It was great having Jason around.  Jen and Jason drove me out to the swim start which was 2.4 miles from T1.  The weather was nice with not much wind but the air temps were freezing.  It was 37 degrees outside when I put on my sleeveless Xterra Vendetta wetsuit.  The water temperature was warm at 70 degrees.  The race could not start until 7:30 because the sun doesn't rise in Wilmington this time of year until 7:26.  I warmed up in the water for only about 200 yards before they called us to the starting line.  It was freezing cold standing on the line when I was wet.  It was a beach start and we only went about 20 yards into the ocean channel before heading north for most of the 2.4 mile swim.  The race director had told us at the meeting that the channel was not moving so it would be a legitimate swim without the aid of a big current that this race typically has. 

SWIM: On the horn I dove in and did a couple dolphin dives before starting to swim.  Unfortunately I got some water in the right lens of my goggles.  I thought about stopping to get the water out but I didn't want to do it until the race thinned out and I was no in risk of getting run over.  I started swimming breathing every 3 strokes with long smooth strokes that I've become used to swimming under the guidance of Stacey Zapolski.  Leading up to this race I had done over 20 lake swims in my 6 week build.  I was confident in my ability to swim the 2.4 miles breathing every 3 strokes.  I've learned from my many loops around Lake G that I'm only about 15 seconds faster on the loops I push hard and they take about 30% more effort so the hard swimming time savings is not nearly worth the trade in effort.  I was very relaxed and found myself in a big group and kept waiting for it to thin down.  I could see 2-3 guys away from us quickly off the front but the rest of us seemed content to stay in the big group.  It was extremely easy being in the group.  At times I found myself on the front, at times in the middle, and at times sliding towards the back.  Some of the time we were swimming 2-3 guys across at the front and sometimes it was just one guy leading the charge.  I stayed in this pack and the further we got into the swim the easier it felt.  I kept reminding myself of all the long swims I had done at Lake G and I knew the further I got into the swim the less likely it would be that I got dropped.  I sighted often because I wanted to make sure if anyone made a break from our group that I was not left behind.  It felt easy and in most of my open water swims I worked on changing pace doing intervals within the long lake swims.  I knew I had the gear change in me if it was necessary.  If I noticed one side of our group moving faster than the one I was on I switched lines and joined the faster side.  I got kicked in the goggles at one point but that just tightened them to my face a bit more.  The most interesting moment came about 3,000 yards in when we made our first turn around a big red buoy.  I saw someone to my right panic and lift his head.  I lifted mine to see what was going on and there was a Golden Retriever swimming right in the middle of the group.  I laughed to myself about this and kept going.  I'm certain someone was out on a boat watching the race and the dog got the itch to do the Ironman swim with us.  Thankfully I avoided his paws.  I could see a big building along the marina getting closer and knew that would be the end of our swim.  The time had gone by quickly but I didn't know what to expect when I got out.  I was guessing 57 minutes.  By where I was in the group and knowing not many were away from our huge chase pack I knew it was a good swim.  When I hit the dock and climbed the ladder I was in disbelief seeing my watch at 52:40.  It made me realize 3 things...1.  I had the best swim of my life and all the open water lake swims had paid off.  2.  Despite what the race director said we did have some sort of current with us.  There is no way I can swim close to 52 minutes for a legit 2.4 mile swim.  3.  I LOVE swimming in my Vendetta Sleeveless.  My arms were never tired.  I felt like I could have gone on for quite some time at that effort.  After climbing the ladder onto the dock I raced through the marina feeling like I had more energy than I started the race with.  I asked someone how many guys were through and he said I was the 4th one in!  No way!  Swimming is what I'm not good at.  I told Jen I'd probably be around 50th place out of the water.  The swim ranking tells me it was easily my best swim ever.  I also felt at this point like going under 9 hours was a certainty.  My official swim time was 52:43 and it was the 4th fastest of the race. 

T1- Things got interesting in T1.  I've never in my life had to add layers for the bike ride during a race.  This was going to be different.  The air temperature was still hovering around 40 degrees and my feet were freezing running the 500 meters or so from the channel to T1.  I entered the change tent and was excited.  I quickly tried to put on my long-sleeve tight fitting shirt but it didn't want to go on over my wet, cold body.  I asked a volunteer if he could help with my shirt and he pulled it down.  The arms on the shirt were tight and I had to pull them up one section at a time like you would when you put on a full-sleeve wetsuit.  I put on a skull cap over my helmet and put socks on before making the dash to my bike.  When I got to my bike I started to put my gloves on and that was no easy task.  I had to work to get them over my freezing fingers.  Finally they were on and I grabbed my bike and ran out to the road to begin my 112 mile ride. 

videoBIKE- Out on the bike I began taking in fluids and salt pills.  My hands were freezing and it was difficult getting to the salt pills in my Zipp Bento Box where I keep my food and salt pills during and Ironman distance race.  I passed two guys early on and Jen had told me I was the 5th one to hit the roads with my bike so that meant I was in 3rd place.  We went through the Wrightsville Beach area and over a grated bridge.  The road conditions were nice after that and we were going through busy streets that were well blocked off and patrolled by many volunteers.  They said this race had over 1,500 people volunteering to help keep us safe.  I knew most of the first half of the ride would be into the wind.  The way the course was laid out with the separate transition areas we would actually be riding into the wind more than we would have it at our backs because the first 20 miles essentially took us to the spot where we would end the ride and those 20 miles were mostly into the wind.  Around mile 10 a guy passed me and he was a huge guy.  I knew it would be the perfect chance for me to sit back 10 meters and let him do some of the work.  Mentally it would help to have someone along for a ride I knew had the potential of getting lonely.  I did not know it at the time but the guy was doing the race as part of a relay.  The effort didn't feel too difficult so I went with it.  Before long Jen and Jason drove up beside me and said I was 2 minutes back of the leader and about 1 minute back of 2nd place.  It wasn't more than a few miles when we passed the guy in 2nd.  I looked back to see if he was going to go with us but he did not.  About 5 miles later we passed the guy in the lead and he did join up with us.  At one of the aid stations he passed me and took over the 2nd spot so I dropped back 10 meters from him and took the 3rd position.  We had a race official riding right behind all 3 of us to make sure we stayed legal distance.  I was planning to split each 14 mile section of the race and hoped to be 36:30 or under which would lead to a 4:52:00 bike split.  I was hoping I could do that easily and maybe even shave some time off those goal splits.  I went through the first on in 36:20.  I knew this was good because it included the slow start getting out of Wrightsville Beach and it was all into the wind.  The next 2 splits were both about 34:30.  I was well under goal pace as we approached the 50 mile mark and I knew the return trip after mile 60 was where we would start to pick up the tail wind. 

It was great having Jason and Jen along the road or even driving up alongside me to shout encouragement.  Jen had me wave for the kids at one point.  As easy as the first 45 miles felt things started to get tougher in a hurry after that.  Between 45 and 50 I started noticing that my back was getting tighter.  I also was getting cramps and pain in my left piriformus.  This is a muscle located deep in the butt muscles.  It is a muscle I had a lot of problems with last year but had not experienced any discomfort throughout 2013 until mile 45.  I sat on the end of my seat and tried to push on the piriformus to get to loosen up.  It would not.  I decided I better grab my special needs bag at mile 55.  I had been like a yo-yo off the back of this 3 man group for 5 miles.  I would fall to 25 meters and work really hard to close it back down to 10 only to let the gap open again.  I decided I better get my special needs and relax the effort a bit.  I was hoping I could afford to give up some time on the bike the last 60 miles that I could gain back on the run.  I had a coke and a 2nd bottle of Ironman GU Brew in my special needs bag.  The first bottle was already gone and it had 750 calories in it.  The 2nd bottle was important for me to get.  I was also craving the coke.  I didn't really want any of the solid foods I had packed into special needs so I left them behind.  Besides the coke and Ironman Brew the only thing I was drinking was water.  I drank quite a bit of it and by mile 60 I had to pee for the first time.  I am not very good at doing this while riding and it slows me down.  I have to stand up and coast to get it started and then soft pedal while standing until I'm done.  Unfortunately this was just the beginning.  Over the last 52 miles I peed 9 more times on the bike!  That was a new record for me and it was very frustrating not being able to get into a rhythm for very long before having to go pee again.  Jen and Jason were letting me know how big the gap was growing to the top 2 riders.  They were still together until around mile 80 and I was down 4 minutes already.  I knew I was going to have to pick the effort up the last 20 miles if I wanted to keep the gap under 10 minutes.  My average speed was falling even in the section of the course where the slight winds were at our back.  I was starting to get frustrated with how I was riding because I thought for sure I was going to ride under 4:52 without much effort.  Now I was working hard and I was uncomfortable and I was falling off the pace quickly.  The last 20 miles I was thinking about how I wanted to get the run started.  I finished the bike in 4:50:52 which was under my goal time but the effort was much higher than I would have preferred.  My bike split was the 3rd fastest of the race behind the relay guy and the race leader.  I knew I was going to have to run 3:08 or faster for the marathon to break 9 hours and I still thought that was going to be no problem. 

T2: I moved well through T2.  I was excited to get this run started and find out how far up the 2 guys ahead of me were.  I was also excited to run because of how much running I had done leading into this race and knowing how my run fitness had progressed.  I grabbed my run gear bag and put my shoes on after changing into a fresh clean pair of dry socks that did not smell like pee.  While I was changing one of the medical personnel asked if I needed any medical attention.  I said, "No, I'm about go crush this marathon."  I was staying optimistic and then reality hit when I exited transition and began the run. 

RUN: Immediately after leaving transition I got worried.  My heart was racing faster than I can ever remember it racing in any competition.  My back was tight and my legs did not have the springy feeling I've had twice at Ironman distance events.  I was running slowly and knew I was not going to be able to continue at my current state.  I had to stop and try to relax my breathing.  Taking deep breaths proved to be difficult.  I felt like I had a lot of mucus in my chest keeping me from getting good air that I wanted.  Last Monday I woke up with ear pain and went in to have the doctor tell me I had an ear infection.  I was put on antibiotics which I did not want to be on the week of a race.  I don't know it I had some congestion in my chest or what but it was not good.  I tried hard to cough some of it up and was successful getting some nasty stuff to come out.  It made breathing easier.  I stretched to loosen up my back and continued on my way.  My GPS came on and I was running about 7:00 mile pace but that's where I started last year in Arizona when I fell apart to run/walk a 4 hour marathon.  As the early miles passed I was able to cough up more and more junk until deep breaths were not so difficult.  I was never feeling good but I had gotten to a respectable state.  I knew the pace I was running was not going to be good enough to break 9 hours.  I still wanted to find out what kind of gaps I had to the leaders.  At the first turnaround I found out I was only 90 seconds back from the leader.  That was a big boost of confidence after what I had gone through.  I had stopped 3 times in the first 2 miles but was now going without stopping and my pace was hovering in the 6:40-7:00 range.  At mile 9 I caught the leader and realized the other guy who had gotten off the bike with me was on a relay.  I focused on running with good form.  I repeated phrases in my head from my Barre563 class where I tried to block out any pain and just focus on the task at hand.  The volunteers and aid stations were excellent.  Any time I felt cramping coming on I took in more salt pills.  I knew I had to stay relaxed and stay at the 7:00/mile pace for as long as I could.  At the 1/2 way point of the run I got another time check.  I was 4:00 in front.  When I saw Jen and Jason I told them I was up 4:00 but had a lot of work to do.  I've raced this distance enough to know that 4:00 is nothing if things go bad.  Jen and Jason took a picture to capture their excitement at the news...

On the 2nd half of the run I continued to think about how much I needed to be willing to suffer.  Everyone hurts in an Ironman.  I knew the suffering would be worth it if I could just hang on for the last 13 miles.  I also knew I would get my final time check at about mile 20.  I wanted badly to extend the lead through mile 20 to give myself a little cushion if things went sour.  I had taken my own GU gels along for the run because the course served Hammer products and they are not what my stomach is used to.  I took in 16 GU's during the run.  I also had most of a bottle of coke at special needs and a Red Bull.  I wanted to make sure I did not bonk.  I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I thought about a student in my class that has been nominated by our teachers for an iHope award.  I kept telling myself if I could hold on to the finish we will make this gift happen.  I tried to get songs in my head to keep the rhythm going.  10 miles to go...less than any long run I did in my Ironman prep.  8 to go...only an hour left.  7 to go...just a Bix at 6 training run...6 to go...on the way back to the finish.  I got my last time check with 6 miles to go and the lead had grown to 10 minutes.  I knew if I could keep running I would win.  I also knew the last mile was mostly downhill and the spectators in town would give me the lift I needed.  I was suffering but surviving.  I remembered that local Leadville and motivational speaker John Byrne had told me the times we suffer the most are the times we get the most gratification from when we complete the challenge.  This was the time for suffering.  5 miles...that's a lunch break run...4 miles...a run with Owen on his bike...3 miles...high school pre-meet...2 miles...the run I did with Jen just yesterday...1 mile...downhill and this thing will be over.  I got really excited as I was coming in to the finish line.  I had not felt nearly as good as I expected going into the race but it was going to be good enough to win and earn the iHope Foundation $1,000.00.  It was also the first time I've won a race over an Olympic distance.  It was one I'll remember for a long time. 

My overall run time was 3:13:32 and it was the 4th fastest run split of the race unless the 2:31 time for the fastest is legit...but I'm thinking that was a timing error since the splits don't seem right on that finisher.  My overall time was 9:04:49 which was a new Ironman distance PR.  Although I was thrilled to win the race I am still not satisfied that I have given Ironman my best effort yet.  I know my fitness the last couple weeks was higher than I showed.  I also know that if this had been a WTC pro event my effort would have placed me in the bottom half of the pro field.  After the first 45 miles of the bike I did not feel good the rest of the race.  A huge congrats to all the finishers of the Ironman distance race.  I'm a big believer that the real warriors are the ones who are out there for 15...16...even 17 hours.  I think my 9 hour day is tough...I can't even imagine what those guys and gals go through.  I was thrilled to hear local triathlete Eric Nordstrom finished and he even placed in his age group.  My college teammate Chris Sweet had a huge PR in his first race as a pro finishing 4th in 9 hours 22 minutes.  Complete results from the race with splits can be found by clicking here
Overall I couldn't be more excited about how the entire year went.  I set out with a goal of raising $1,500.00 to provide iPads for low-income students with great character and work traits.  I raised $4,000.00 in my races.  My parents graciously matched that.  Many other businesses and individuals have helped in TREMENDOUS ways with contributions.  Just last week Beach 2 Battleship sent out an e-mail profiling why I was competing at this event and we had almost $600.00 contributed that day.  I met with our Superintendent last week and we are going to be able endow a permanent $1,000.00 scholarship that will be given to 1 iHope recipient every year when they graduate high school if the decide to continue to some level of post-secondary education.  That was a great way to tie the gift of hope through the iPad to the reality that we believe these students can continue on with education and do great things after high school.  By Thanksgiving we are going to be awarding at least 1 student with an iPad after this race effort...maybe even 2.  If you would like to help the foundation by making a tax-deductible contribution click here
This race would not have been possible without the love and support I get from Jen.  She's always been Super Mom and without her I wouldn't have been able to put in the 6 week block of 25 hour training weeks.  She supported me through all those long Saturday rides and Sunday runs, swims, and more rides.  She was also there cheering like crazy and her enthusiasm gave me a great lift.  Big thanks to Jason Rangel and all his cheering and support on the course. 
Also, big thanks to the individuals and businesses that supported iHope this year.  Racing for a cause like iHope made motivation to train and race easy.  By your support of iHope you gave me a reason to work hard and DREAM BIG. 
After last year I wasn't sure I wanted to continue trying to race competitively any longer.  After a disappointing finish to the year I took 10 weeks away from anything resembling workouts or triathlon.  When I thought of racing for others and giving everything away it made the decision to keep going easy.  Now that I've had a chance to see the life-changing impact it has made for iHope recipients it fuels me to continue on trying to improve every year so I can do my part to impact our society in a positive way.  I would not be able to do this financially without the support of some great companies that help make my racing possible.  Kaminski Pain and Performance Care, Healthy Habits, Barre563, Xterra Wetsuits, Zipp, Kiwami Triathlon Wear, and GU Energy have helped me so much.  I cannot thank you enough.  This has been a long one but I have 2 videos to finis it off.  The first is from the PPD Beach 2 Battleship site and is a recap video that briefly shows me coming down the finish.  The 2nd is one I created using my "less than tech savvy" skills.  This was the first race of mine Jen has been a spectator for during the 2013 season so I took some of the photos of the weekend and put them to one of the 2 songs I had in my head throughout part of my Saturday...Phil Wickham's This is Amazing Grace.  Thanks for reading and following this journey. I have reached the top of the mountain that looked oh so far away when I began training back on February 11th.   You, too, can reach yours...DREAM BIG!!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

6 Days...All Systems Go!

I am now just 6 days from my peak race of 2013, the PPD Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance event which will be held in Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday morning.  The race begins at 7:30 AM just as the sun will hopefully be starting to rise.  I could not be more excited about where I am at right now.  I survived 6 weeks of high volume intense training healthy and am now 7 days into a 12 day taper.  I had each workout planned out for the taper and I've hit them all exactly how I laid out.  The final 10 days are nearly a mirror image of my 10 day taper for the Pigman 1/2 back in August which went very well minus a poor run.  The run had nothing to do with the taper and everything to do with a complete lack of run mileage in the weeks leading up to the race due to the back injury that kept me from running most of the summer.  That is a distant memory now and I logged 62 miles/week average during my 6 week block of Ironman training.  All signs point to a great race thus far.  On Friday I did a 1 hour bike workout with 4x5 minutes hard following each with 5 minutes easy.  It is a workout I have done probably more than any other bike workout in my life.  Friday was the highest wattage I have ever hit in this workout.  I averaged 335 watts on my hard periods.  I looked back at what I did before Pigman and it was a huge lift of confidence.  I only averaged 305 before that race and I had a pretty good bike split of 2 hrs. 14 minutes.  I'm also 9 lbs. lighter than I was for that race.  Today I did the same swim workout I did 6 days prior to Pigman.  The main set was 8x125's on 2:15 with a time check at 100 and then sprint the last 25 all out.  Before Pigman I was coming through the 100 split in 1:22.  Today I was coming through the 100 split in 1:17.  Pigman was the best swim I have ever had in a triathlon. 

My taper is a pretty significant one.  I'm actually very glad I didn't extend it longer than 12 days as many do before an Ironman distance race.  I could have race really well this weekend already and I still have 5 more days of easy workouts.  For my 6 week block I was averaging 411 bike miles for every 12 days.  In my 12 day taper I will ride 110.  My run average for 12 days of the block was 106 miles.  I will run 31 miles over my 12 day taper.  Swimming I actually increase by design.  I averaged only 14,700 yards every 12 days.  For my taper I'll be at 20,000 yards.  My bike ride today was 35 miles and I was riding into a wind effortlessly holding 240-250 watts.  Last week I did 4x20 minutes at 240 watts and they were anything but effortless.  Jen and I fly out on Thursday morning from Chicago.  The flight is less than 2 hours to Raleigh where we will get our rental car and drive 2 hours to Wilmington.  The pre-race meeting and dinner are on Friday.  The forecast is for cool temperatures.  I'm probably going to have to put a layer on over my jersey for the first time ever in a race.  I've always handled cold well and my body warms up quickly.  I will bring an arsenal of cold weather options.  One thing is for sure...I will not over dress for the bike.  I would rather be cold for the first 30 minutes and then warm for the next 4+ hours than be warm for the first 30 minutes and then hot for the next 4+ hours.  The current forecast is for a high of 64 degrees and a low of 47.  I'll be checking in on the hour by hour forecast the day before the race.  If we get on the bike and it is 50 degrees or warmer I will not be worried.  If it's still in the 40's I'll have to consider things like gloves and a head warmer under the helmet. 

There are 5 pro guys racing in the field of nearly 1,000 athletes.  I am wearing bib # 7 which is has always been my favorite number.  The website for the race is  They are supposed to have athlete tracking available during the race but I don't know if it only updates the swim, bike, and run finish times or if they will have timing mats along the way to update.  Either way Jen will be sending updates from my facebook account so if you are wanting to follow along with my progress you can friend request and I'll accept so you get updates from Jen via my facebook page. 

My goals for the race are first and foremost to break 9 hours.  My PR is 9 hrs. 5 minutes from Ironman Arizona in 2011.  I thought the entire race I was going to break 9 hours until I had about 4 miles to go when I could do nothing but run 9 minute/mile pace.  Since that day breaking 9 hours has been on my mind.  To do it I plan to swim 1 hour, bike 4 hrs. 52 minutes, spend 6 minutes in transition, and run anything under 3 hrs. 2 minutes.  The swim at this race is typically with the tide but this year's race is a "slack tide" which means the water is essentially calm and we will not get the really fast swim splits they did a year ago.  2 years ago was also a slack tide and the swim times were MUCH slower than any of the other years at this race.  My PR swim is 1 hr. 2 minutes.  I feel I am better than that right now.  My last lake swim was Tuesday.  The water was 61 degrees and since that day we had some overnights in the 30's so I knew I would have to finish the taper in the pool.  The bike goal is actually quite a bit slower than I know I can ride right now.  I've ridden 4:46 or under twice at this distance.  I want to be a bit more conservative so I can run my best.  My run fitness is really good right now.  If I should swim slower than 1 hour I'll probably bike a bit harder to make up for the difference.  I don't want to start the run needing to break 3 hours in order to go sub-9.  If I feel amazing on the 2nd half of the ride I may increase the speed and go under the 4:52 goal.  It looks right now like we'll be riding into mostly a head wind the first half of the ride and picking up the tail wind the last 1/2.  I don't race with power or heart rate...I simply like to go by how my body feels.  I will not panic if I'm a bit off goal time going into the wind.  I'd like nothing more than to get off the bike still having a chance to win the race.  I'll be thinking about the kids in my class who I can help with some money for iHope if I can be in the top 5.  I feel like I'm in shape to run under 3 hours if I am self-disciplined in my early pace setting.  My key phrase to myself off the bike is "patience".  I'd like to start the run no faster than 7:00 pace no matter how easy it feels.  I learned during my long runs during this training block that I can cut the pace down quickly if I'm patient early on.  Last year's champion is back and he broke 9 hours a year ago.  I don't know how many more opportunities I'll ever have to start a big race in the shape I'm in right now so I plan to take advantage of this fitness and live in the moment.  If you are going to pray for me pray for no mechanical issues on the bike.  That is my greatest fear right now because everything else is ready to go.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!