Monday, June 22, 2015

A First and a Third...QC Triathlon 2015

I am really excited to hit the Jersey Shore this upcoming weekend for Challenge Atlantic City.  I wish I could say the Ironman block of training has gone flawlessly like the past couple of these that I prepared for but that would be a lie.  Since Challenge Knoxville training has been very "patch workish" if I could make up a couple words to describe it.  Food poisoning followed by extremely sore quads and back problems, lack of power on bike workouts that I had to scrap, and no long runs have left much to be desired but nonetheless I'm excited for the challenge and still believe I have quite a bit of residual fitness built up for this race...more so than last year when I finished 12th in the pro race and 14th overall.  I'm still aiming to crack the 9 hour barrier but I realize that will be a tall task.  I'll have to be able to pull out my best marathon ever and run close to 3 hours flat and I'll also need a swim that is wetsuit legal (78 degree water or less).  There is race tracking at

This past weekend I raced in the hometown Quad Cities Triathlon.  This is a well run event that sells out annually.  Many first time racers and veterans gather at West Lake Park for this event.  Jen and I were wearing bib #'s 1 and 2 along with the pressure of having everyone we run into race week ask us if we are going to win.  I was looking it is more as a good hard speed workout leading into Challenge AC and a test of my current fitness.  I got up at 3:30 without the alarm and ate a pre-race breakfast of Kodiak Cakes and made Jen the same at 4:00 when I got her up.  Jen did exactly 1 swim and 1 bike ride prior to this event...last Tuesday and Wednesday.  She amazes me. 

SWIM: I started in the elite wave with about 10 others and my goal was simply to swim hard.  I thought last year I swam too easy and left myself quite a ways back after the swim.  I've really ramped up my swimming by going to the lake 14 of the 16 days prior to this race.  1/3 of my total swim yards this year came in the last 2.5 weeks.  I have done a lot of interval work at the lake and did many 300 yard repeats at near all out effort thinking that would prepare me well to swim hard.  I did swim hard and at the half way point of the swim I paid for it.  I was in a good spot at the turn right with a guy who ended up swimming 30 seconds faster than I did.  I completely died and felt like a little kid learning to swim the last 1/2.  My time was 8:20...exactly the same as last year which is very frustrating. 
BIKE: I had my toughest time ever getting into my bike shoes.  I never know how I want to approach the start of the bike with an uphill.  I opted to clip in but couldn't get both feet on my shoes before losing momentum.  It was either fall over or stop and put my feet down and try again which I did.  JJ Bailey went running by me pushing his bike up the hill as I felt like a beginner trying to figure out how to mount my bike.  I got on and got going and started my Garmin.  I was hoping to average 275 watts out to the turn and bring it back a bit higher.  Out of the park I was at 265.  I passed JJ just before we left the park and then about 2 miles in he passed me back.  I settled in 1 hash mark in the road behind him.  I use the hash marks as a guide for a 10 meter zone which is what the draft zone is in pro races.  After 1 mile of trailing him we hit the 2nd hill and I started to get closer so I made the pass.  There were 2 riders still way up the road.  I hit the turn around just behind super swimmer Sam Lundry and set my sights on the leader who was riding really tough about 25 seconds ahead of me.  I got to the turn around exactly at 275 watts and started my average over so I could see where I was on the 2nd half.  I was stronger holding near 290 on the return trip.  Slowly the leader was coming back but it was VERY slowly.  JJ Bailey passed me back again at about mile 12 and he was flying.  I struggled to stay 1 hash back and mostly floated between 1.5 and 2 hashes back the remainder of the way as we clawed back at the leader, Josh Madsen.  I got off the bike with a 25.0 mph average which was the 3rd fastest of the race. 

RUN: Immediately on the run I moved into 2nd as JJ Bailey had a cramping issue right out of the gates and had to stop and stretch for a bit.  By 1/2 mile in I was moving into the lead.  I felt pretty good especially when I got out to the road.  At the turn around I could see I was clear of 2nd by almost 45 seconds already so I just maintained a good tempo pace effort and began to think about doing as little damage to my body as possible with Ironman this week.  I finished in 1 hr. 4 minutes and 29 seconds which as almost identical to what I've been the last 3 times I've raced this course.  I was the first one to cross the line...but that is not the first.  That is the 3rd.  About 45 minutes later I was called to the finish line and race director Eric Sarno informed me I had been assessed a penalty for drafting.  That was disappointing.  The referee was there and told me I drafted.  I told him I knew the draft distance was 7 meters and I had used the hashes (what they always tell us to use in the pro race meetings for a 10 meter draft rule).  I told him the only time I got within 7 meters was the one time I made the pass on the hill.  He said from his view he thought I was closer than 7 meters.  I don't think he had ever heard about the hash marks as reference.  There is no such thing as a protest in triathlon.  All penalties are final so I knew I would have to just accept it.  I told him I realized he had to do his job but my only frustration with him was that he didn't ride the motorcycle up beside us to get a more accurate view of the distance.  The motorcycle followed me nearly the entire race and he must not have had a very accurate view of judging the distance from behind.  The penalty was my first ever in a race...hence the first...and the 2:00 dropped me to 3rd place in the race...hence the 3rd.  Jen was 3rd as well.  It was a great day to race with awesome weather and it was so cool to see so many athletes complete their first triathlon.  It was especially fun for me because all 4 athletes I'm coaching this year raced as well.  For 2 of them it was the first one and they both did outstanding.  1 of the others is preparing to tackle Ironman out in Idaho this week.  He is in the best shape of his life and placed 21st.  I'm super excited for all 4 of them.  Complete results from the race with splits can be found here.  Congrats to all the finishers...hopefully you enjoyed your day and will continue working hard and DREAMING BIG for the next one!  I certainly am!!  Big thanks to Phil Pancrazio for capturing some outstanding photos of the race.  Lastly I owe so much thanks to all of our iHope business supporters and to the companies who support my racing.  You all inspire me so much to continue doing what I am.  I would not be who I am today in regards to triathlon and the iHope Foundation would not made the impact it has on 10 students so far without your support.  THANKS!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Road's Not Always Flat

For the past 2 years I have trained specifically for an Ironman distance race.  2 years ago it was Beach 2 Battleship in North Carolina which I ended up winning.  Last year it was Ironman Chattanooga.  I also raced Challenge Atlantic City a year ago but I did not focus training around that race and completed it without doing the training I typically do for a big Ironman race I'm trying to peak for.  This year was supposed to be different.  I wanted to put in my typical 6 week block of HUGE Ironman training so I could be as ready as possible.  My lead in for Beach 2 Battleship went flawlessly.  I hit every 100+ mile ride and every 20+ mile run feeling stronger each week.  The same was true leading into Ironman Chattanooga last year.  I believe from the training and workouts I was completing I was more fit for that race than I've ever been entering a race.  Then out of the blue I was hit with sickness just hours before the race and found out I raced with pneumonia after coughing up blood and going in for tests 2 days after the race. 

This year through 14 weeks everything was lining up perfectly once again.  I was feeling stronger every week, hitting all of my interval workouts, long rides, and long runs.  I was feeling so well that I raced Challenge Knoxville, a 1/2 Ironman distance event, and I raced very well.  I was ready to get back to my biggest volume of training in prep for Challenge AC on June 28th and that is just when the road quit being so flat.  I've experienced a lot of setbacks since the middle of May when I raced. 

Immediately following the race I felt my recovery was going better than it ever had following a 1/2 Ironman.  I was able to run pain free the day following and had no sign of any soreness just 2 days after the race.  On the Thursday following the race I woke up not feeling very well.  My stomach hurt, I was freezing cold all day at school, and I went home following my last class and slept for 3 hours.  I awoke with a high fever and the next 4 days I dealt with a terrible stomach bug.  On that Sunday (1 week following the race) I went in for tests and found out I had food poisoning.  It interrupted training for about 5 days and when I returned I tried to pick up right where I left off.  I had an incredibly good run workout on Thursday, May 28th but I think it left me SUPER dehydrated.  I had lost a ton of fluids with the food poisoning and I didn't put them back in like I wish I had.  On Saturday, the 29th I rode 115 miles in very humid conditions and lost more fluid.  The next day I went out for my 20 mile long run and my quads were taking an intense beating from the early miles.  I could also feel pain in my middle lower back which frankly scared me because I've had back injuries in the past keep me from training for LONG periods of time.  I stopped my run after just 10 miles.  Last week I was hoping to get back to normal but the deep quad soreness hung around.  I backed off the volume and was completely out of the prep training I like to have before an Ironman.  I rode 90 miles and ran only 9.5 for my long run due to the quad soreness still screaming at me.  I finished with week with good overall bike volume with 325 miles riding but only ran 33 miles.  I increased my swim yardage as I often try to do before big races.  I swam 5 days for 16,200 yards. 

This week I decided to scrap my typical Ironman block to make sure I get to the start line healthy.  Last year I ran my Ironman best run split of 3 hrs. 8 minutes with even less run training than I have done this year.  I got a very intense massage on Monday and things have begun to look brighter.  I raced a 12.9 mile Time Trial for the sake of getting a hard bike workout in on Tuesday and I averaged 26.1 mph.  I got good info from my power numbers as I learned I cannot and should not go out in a sprint race at 300+ watts.  I was averaging 310 at 6 miles in and the last 6.9 I only averaged 271.  I would not have run well if I had to so it's good to know I need to target 280 for the start of a sprint distance race.  With the high heat this week I was trying my best to keep fluids in but I sweat so heavily I could not keep up.  I started an interval workout yesterday on the trainer and did not have the power I should have so I scrapped that and just rode easy.  In years past this turn in the road leading to an Ironman would have left me doubting.  That is not the case any more.  I know my body and I know that I often teeter on the brink of over training.  With some rest in the days leading up to the race my body will bounce back stronger.  I'm confident of that.  I realize the road won't always be flat and I probably lucked out in preparation for my last 2 Ironman peak races.  I've swam a LOT this week and feel that also has probably fatigued me a bit more than I was used to.  I've taken it pretty easy the last 2 days and expect to have a good long ride tomorrow which will once again confirm to me that rest is the key factor to success when the body is tired.  I'm looking forward to racing my hometown sprint distance event next weekend which will be a few days into my taper for Challenge AC.  Then the following weekend I'll give it my best shot once again to break 9 hours...something I've been working for many times but have yet to achieve.  When I do achieve it all those setbacks and bumps in the road will be well worth it.  The greatest successes in life come from overcoming the greatest challenges and this sub-9 challenge has proven very difficult for me.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Challenge Knoxville Race Report and Results

After realizing I was pretty fit in week 12 I made a late decision to drive to Knoxville, TN to race a 1/2 Ironman distance event called Challenge Knoxville.  I've been a big fan of Challenge events in the US and had a sudden urge to test my fitness.  I signed up for the race on Tuesday and trained pretty normal until Thursday when I backed off the workouts to rest up for a couple days. 

Friday after school I made the LONG drive to Knoxville.  I planned to stop a couple hours away and rest for the night but I was wide awake and ended up driving all the way to Knoxville and arriving at 1:00 AM Saturday morning.  My head hit the pillow and I was out with a big day ahead.  When I woke up I ate a big breakfast at the Clarion Inn and then drove down to packet pickup and get myself checked in for the race.  I ran 2 miles and then went down to the river for the practice swim and got in the water to swim for about 15 minutes.  I then checked out the city and visited the statue of Pat Summitt, legendary women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.  I got my bike checked into transition and drove the bike course.  I knew from looking at the elevation profile this was not going to be a race with blazing fast times.  The bike course was over 4,000 feet of climbing for 56 miles which would be the hilliest 1/2 Ironman distance event I've ever done.  To compare, in Atlantic City next month the total feet of climbing is only about 1,000 feet for 112 miles.  I wasn't nervous about the climbing but was extremely nervous about going down the hills. There are a lot of technical down hills on this course with lots of turns down fast descents.  I am not very good at technical riding while going down hill and my goal was to keep my bike upright.  With the chance of rain on the horizon I was even more nervous. 

On race day I was up at 4:15 and made myself Kodiak Cake waffles with the waffle maker I brought from home.  It was a great way to load up the tank before racing.  I drove down to transition and it as sprinkling lightly.  I was hoping that was the worst we were going to get since it said only about a 20% chance of rain during the race.  I warmed up with a 10 minute run and made all the last minute preparations to my bike.  I opted to go with no water bottles.  I would have the Specialized Shiv bladder filled with 20 ounces of GU Roctane Tropical Fruit drink and then planned to refill the bladder at each of the 3 aid stations on the bike course.  I made this decision due to the amount of climbing on the bike.  I did not want to be carrying the extra weight from all the bottles of fluid weighting down my bike frame.  For nutrition I had some GU Chomps, GU Roctane sodium pills, and 4 GU gels with me.  My new race jersey for 2015 has not come in yet so I'd be wearing the Kiwami Konami long course suit which I like because of the pockets to carry some nutrition on the bike and run.  This race would be my first race as an amateur in 4 years since my Elite license had expired.  With a top 3 finish in the amateur race I would be able to earn back the elite license if desired. 

My wave of all 39 and under competitors set off at 7:05.  This was 12 minutes after the female pros entered the water.  I have only been swimming for about 6 weeks so realistically I thought a good swim for me would be 30 minutes for the 1.2 miles.  I was excited about swimming as an amateur because in the pro races I'm typically shot out of the back pretty quick.  I was hoping to stay in a large group and conserve energy. 

SWIM: At the sound of the horn we were off.  I am not used to starting in such large groups and had to be careful not to get kicked or swam over.  It can be pretty chaotic early in the swim.  I tried to get myself into a rhythm the first few hundred yards while things thinned out a bit.  They did exactly that and I found myself swimming comfortably in the midst of a pretty large group as we made our way up the Tennessee River for the first 1/2 mile.  At the first turn I was in the 3rd spot of my large group and it felt extremely easy.  I could see another group about 15 yards up and I made the decision to try to bridge the gap.  I swam hard out of my pack and left them only to find myself working twice as hard and I closed the gap to about 5 yards but could not work myself into the group.  After working very hard for about 5 minutes I decided to ease up and wait for the group I had left.  By the time they caught me I had punished myself a bit too much and I was unable to hang in with the group I had left.  Lesson learned...if it feels too easy that is a good thing.  I ended up swimming the last 1/2 of the swim solo and exited the water and crossed the timing mat in 30:55 and was about 15th in my wave of 39 and under.  I passed a few guys in transition and mounted the bike amidst a downpour realizing this could be a VERY tricky bike ride. 

BIKE: My goal for the bike was to monitor my power output and try to keep my wattage as consistent as possible which would be difficult on a hilly, technical course.  There would be lots of spots where I would be coasting and the 0 watts while coasting decimates the wattage average.  With my goal of racing Ironman between 225 and 230 watts I thought a good goal for the 1/2 would be 250-255.  I had programmed my normalized power average to read as well and I would split these averages every 7 miles so that I would have smaller sample sizes to watch.  The first 5 miles of the bike was mostly through town with some technical and steep down hill sections.  I hit the first 7 mile split with average power at 250 and normalized power at 264.  Normalized power is more like what the effort felt like taking into account surges and putting less emphasis on the coasting.  The goal is always to keep the normalized and average power as close together as possible.  It's tough on sections with lots of turns and hills.  I was working my way through the field of amateurs ahead of me and asking the riders as I passed if they knew what place we were in.  Early on most were saying about 10 in front.  My 2nd 7 mile section average power was 253 and normalized 275.  I was hoping to get those #'s closer together as we approached the part of the course with less climbing.  Around mile 10 we came to the first of many spots where I saw a rider down and an ambulance on scene.  One of the pro riders had already crashed.  I slowed way down and made the turn at the bottom of a steep descent on the wet roads and felt my back wheel slide a bit.  It was enough to scare me and make me realize there would be many crashes on this day and I didn't want to be one of them!!

As the course leveled out a bit in my 3rd section of 7 miles I was able to get into a much better rhythm.  My average power over the 3rd section was 270 watts vs. a normalized power of 276.  I was quite surprised by my ability to hold this power output without much difficulty.  Last year in June I did a sprint race and only averaged 258.  I knew going into this race I was way ahead of where I was a year ago but was very surprised by the numbers.  I continued to move up and heard that I was in 3rd of the amateur racers as I began my 4th section of 7 miles.  This section I averaged 275 watts vs. normalized average of 278.  I kept telling myself to make sure it was comfortable because I was worried this average was too high for what I was capable of.  In section 5 which was the last 7 mile stretch before the really big and technical hills returned I was 271 average power and 282 normalized.  It was in this section I took the lead of the 39 and under group and started passing the female pros who started 12 minutes ahead.  Knowing I had the lead and being very confident in my run I took no chances over the final 21 miles with multiple technical sections.  We were seeing lots of ambulances on course and before descending in one spot there was a volunteer yelling out that the descent had already caused 6 crashes.  One rider behind me continued to bring me back on every down hill section before I would pull away slightly on the up hills.  I was very careful as we worked our way back through town.  My average power dropped pretty fast the final 10 miles with all the coasting.  As it was I ended the bike with an average power of 257 watts and a normalized average of 273.  My bike time was 2 hrs. 26 minutes which was a 23 mph average.  I got off the bike 1st in the 39 and under wave with one rider right behind me.  I then made my worst decision of the race. 

RUN: I've always raced 1/2 Ironman distance events without putting socks on.  This was a BAD move in the rain.  It had rained the entire bike course and was still raining as I slipped on my race flats and headed out.  By the time I hit the first mile in just under 6:00 I could tell my feet were getting chewed up.  The blisters had formed and by mile 2 I could feel they had opened up.  I was running well but the increased pain of my feet had me worried.  I did not want to hurt my feet so bad that it would set me back for Atlantic City nor did I want to allow myself to change my stride to protect my feet and risk injury.  By mile 3 I was doubting that I would be able to finish the race.  My pace had slowed drastically as I was trying to ease the pain of my feet.  I knew my only chance to finish was if I could get a pair of socks and see if they would help.  As I approached the 4 mile aid station they were asking me what I wanted.  My only request was a pair of socks. a move of extreme generosity one of the volunteers said he would give me his socks.  I stopped and removed my shoes as he took his socks off.  My feet were bleeding in multiple spots.  I didn't know if the socks would help but took the time to put them on and then set off.  My prayers were answered and my feet did not hurt a bit after the sock stop.  I was able to get back into a rhythm and began running my miles around 6:00 each.  About 1/2 way into the run the rain stopped and the sun came out making for a hot and humid run on the hilly course.  I got a time check at the turnaround and saw I was nearly 3:00 ahead of 2nd place in the 39 and U wave and I was guessing the overall amateur winner would come from that wave.  I continued on a about 6:00/mile for the remainder of the run.  The last mile was actually almost 1.5 miles based on how they had set up the finish.  This added about 2 minutes to everyone's time.  I never had to dig deep into the well which was great for allowing me to recover quickly from the race.  I finished the run with a time of 1:22:05 which was one of the faster runs of the day including the pro athletes.  I know there is more in the run tank when I need it but I'll save that for another day.  I won the amateur race by just over 5 minutes with a time of 4:21:36.  The top 17 athletes were pro athletes and I was 18th.  I think I finished ahead of about 19 pro athletes although that is a little inflated because they were without wetsuits while we were in them.  Complete results with splits can be found here.  It was great meeting some of the other athletes at the finish line and conversing with them about the race.  It was a great start to the year and will allow me to renew my pro license down the road if I choose to.  I'm not sure that I will.  I had a TON of fun racing as an amateur and to be honest have way more in common with those guys than I do with guys in the pro race.  As a husband, father of 2, full-time teacher, high school coach, tea ball coach...I think I probably fit in much better racing as an amateur and with my lack of swim talent it's always proved difficult hanging in the pro races chasing from far behind after exiting the water.  I was thrilled with the start to the season and made the LONG drive home arriving at 2:00 AM on Monday morning with a weekend I will remember for a long time.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week 12...7 weeks unitl Challenge AC

I'm officially into my 7 week block of Ironman Training.  I like to do at least 6 weeks where I increase volume especially focusing on long workouts to prepare for an Ironman.  I'll try to chip away at the last few pounds I'd like to lose before Challenge AC and get myself as fit as possible before backing off and resting up a bit over the final 10 days.  Week 12 was a very good week for me.  For the week I swam 9,300 yards all open water, biked 295 miles, and ran 47 miles.  I was able to get 47 run miles with just 5 days of running.  I like to take more days off running during an Ironman block so I can be a bit more fresh for the long workouts. 

The lake I swim at is really nice right now.  Last Sunday I was in there and the water was freezing.  I swam 50 minutes and I'm guessing it was in the upper 50's.  Despite having 2 swim caps on my head I was getting very cold in the last 10 minutes and opted to get out before getting delirious.  It has warmed up nicely and I'd estimate it was about 66 degrees for my swim on Friday.  My key workouts came on the weekend.  Saturday I biked 110 miles.  The first 55 were pretty comfortable and I was thankful to meet up with Daniel Westbay for most of those miles.  I'm coaching Dan for the 2nd straight year.  After our frozen yogurt stop at the BP in DeWitt I set off solo and began a 36 mile stretch where I was alternating 7 miles at my Challenge AC Ironman wattage of 225-230 followed by 5 miles at Ironman wattage + 10%.  As it was I did the first 7 miles at 230 watts, followed by 5 at 250, 7 at 232, 5 at 252, 7 at 232, and 5 more at 252.  I then rode easy for the remainder of the 110 miles.  I could tell I was depleted after the ride.  My muscles were twitching uncontrollably and walking down steps was leaving me feeling dehydrated.  I began ingesting the 4,000 calories I burned on the ride back and then some.  I track my calories in an app called "Lose It".  I consumed over 7,000 calories on Saturday in an attempt to bring my body back to life because on Sunday I was planning to race a 1/2 marathon hard as part of an 18 mile run.  I went to bed early feeling wiped and not knowing how my body would feel on Sunday. 

Sunday morning I awoke at 6:00 and took in more calories before driving to Augustana College to participate in the Distance Classic 1/2 Marathon.  I ran 3.5 miles just before the race to start my 18 mile day.  I actually felt pretty good.  I've raced a couple 5k's over the past few weekends and knew the 1/2 marathon pace would feel comfortable.  I was just hoping I could hold pace the entire time and do so without cramping.  I was more worried about that given how my body felt after Saturday's ride.  I do my interval workouts between 5:00 and 5:20 mile pace so I knew the 5:50 tempo pace that is also my 1/2 marathon pace would feel relatively comfortable.  The race started with the 5k and I didn't know which athletes were running the 5k and which guys were running the 1/2 marathon.  I settled into a very comfortable rhythm from the beginning.  Owen, Payton, and Jen came out to watch and Owen noted that I was in 14th when I passed by them in the first 1/2 mile.  After the mile mark the 5k guys split and I was leading the 1/2.  I just stayed on my rhythm pretty much the entire race running every mile between 5:43 and 5:48 according to my GPS which seems to measure about every course slightly long as my overall pace ended up being 5:49/mile.  Regardless I held every mile split within 5 seconds and it never felt too difficult.  I won the race earning the iHope Foundaiton another $100.00.  Afterwards I finished my 18 mile run with another 1.5 miles and then we enjoyed a HUGE Mother's Day brunch with Jen, the kids, and my parents and brother Josh and his wife. 

I was thrilled to get a call from another athlete I'm coaching this year who raced a 1/2 Ironman in Virginia.  This is my 2nd year working with Jason Rangel and he is preparing to race Ironman Coeur d'alene the same I'm racing Challenge AC.  I knew from the consistent training he had put in over the past 8 weeks that he was ready for a GREAT race and he had exactly that.  He was under 5 hours on a course with a 13.1 mile run that had over 800 feet elevation change.  Seeing his power file from the bike I know we can make some improvements there and he will do awesome in 7 weeks out in Idaho.  I'm really excited about the 4 athletes I'm working with because they've all been so consistent with their training which is a HUGE key to success. 

A couple other things of note...on Saturday, June 6th at 9:00 AM I will be putting on a free triathlon transition clinic hosted by Healthy Habits.  We will have good tips to help speed your way through T1 and T2 and will also be able to answer any questions you have triathlon related and especially regarding the logistics of the QC Triathlon.  I've been doing this free clinic for about 5 years and I've enjoyed being able to give back through this event.  We should have some nutrition samples provided by GU Energy and a few other giveaways for clinic attendees.  I hope we get another good crowd there.  Lastly, this past week I was BLOWN away with another extremely generous corporate sponsorship to the iHope Foundation.  I'm thrilled to report that Tri-City Blacktop has committed at the Platinum Level sponsorship.  They are the 4th corporation at the Platinum level to go along with 4 others at the Gold level.  Total corporate sponsorship dollars raised for the iHope Foundation this year alone are at $12,295.00.  Wednesday evening I will be awarding the first iHope Foundation scholarship to a graduating senior.  I was amazed and incredibly proud when I saw the scholarship application of the recipient that was selected.  That student will also receive an iPad and a protective case for it.  To help fund future iPads or scholarships for future low-income students that display outstanding character and work traits click either of the donation links on the top of my page.  Looking forward to the challenges that week 13 will bring.  DREAM BIG!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Ironman Block Begins...Week 11

Back in 2011 when I was training for my first Ironman I put in weeks upon weeks of big training.  I thought that was what it took to become an Ironman.  Looking back I think I was wrong.  I now believe that most of the race day fitness comes from what is done to prepare in the last 2 months.  This does not discredit the need for a nice base however I don't think 100 mile rides and 20 mile runs are necessary for months and months ahead of the race.  I think this is especially true now that I've put my body through 7 of these events and multiple years of training.  With kids growing older I now must find ways to maximize my training in limited time throughout much of the year until the race gets closer, and that is the time I begin putting in the bigger training.  The time has come. 

For my past few Ironman races I have followed a plan that puts in big training from 8 weeks out down to 2 weeks out before tapering off and getting the body rested and ready to perform at peak fitness.  This big block began in week 11.  For the week I ran 61 miles, biked 300, and swam 8,800 yards.  My swimming will not see big increases until 4-5 weeks out from the race.  The biggest change during this 6 week Ironman prep block will be that I take more days off of running during the week so I can get quality long sessions in during the weekend.  I've been running  6-7 days most weeks but during the Ironman block I may run only 4-5 days so that I can be better prepared to have solid long rides and runs and still recover quickly.  I still put in 2 quality interval sessions riding and running each week.  During the 6 weeks almost every weekend includes a long ride of 100+ miles and a long run of 18-22 miles.  I try to get at least 4 of those long rides/runs within the 6 week block and also a key Ironman test workout.  During the long rides I do a long sustained part of it at my goal Ironman wattage which for this race is 225-230 watts.  For Chattanooga I was at 235-240 but I don't have the big base in the spring that I would have in the fall.  In order to bump my goal to that wattage I would have to prove through my training that I'm ready to handle it.  My long ride this past weekend was 101 miles which was my longest of the year.  I did 56 miles of it at my Ironman wattage.  I followed that up on Sunday with an 18 mile run and felt great.  I ran the first 6.5 miles solo before Jen and the kids joined me for the next 4.  The kids were on their Specialized Hot Rock bikes and they have no problem keeping up with a 7 minute/mile pace any more.  Owen wanted to go a bit further and stayed with me for 3 more miles after Jen and Payton stopped.  I finished with the last 5 miles alone. 

I've done a great job monitoring my nutrition lately and my weight was the lowest of the year this week at 157 lbs.  I had my body fat % tested at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care on Monday and it was 12.5%.  This is a good % for me this year in the year.  Last year on nearly the same date I tested at 15.7%.  I'll test again after my 6 week block of training and hope to be under 10%. 

This past week we received an iHope corporate contribution from Cannon Riverview Dentistry.  Drs. Chris and Matt Cannon do a tremendous amount of charitable work in the Dentistry field and also our community.  Next Wednesday evening I'm going to present the first Evelyn Lehman iHope Foundation scholarship to a graduating senior.  This scholarship is named after my grandma who left me with some money I used to start the foundation after her passing.  I was thrilled when I read the scholarship application of the recipient our high school guidance staff selected to receive this scholarship.  If you'd like to help fund the next iPad or scholarship gift you can click one of the links near the top of this page. 

Last week the junior high at Pleasant Valley had an Elite mile run after school for all boys who had run under 6:00 for the mile and girls under 6:30.  They had about 30 students choose to participate and I ran with them.  It was awesome to see so many of them running fast.  We had about 15 boys  run under 5:30 for the mile.  I ran 4:50 and it was a bit painful as my body is not quite used to anything at that pace.  This upcoming weekend I plan to ride long on Saturday and then do a 1/2 marathon as part of a longer run.  I'll push the 1/2 marathon a bit to see how my legs respond the morning after a really long ride.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2 months until Challenge AC!!

While out for my run today I realized we are exactly 2 months until I will be toeing the line for my 8th Ironman.  Yesterday also marked 5 years since I had my left Achilles tendon operated on by Dr. Tuvi Mendel from Orthopaedic Specialists.  I am so thankful I decided to have this procedure done by Dr. Mendel.  My Achilles had given me problems off and on for nearly 8 years dating all the way back to my collegiate running.  It had gotten so chronically bad that I could no longer bike or run.  Since the 4 month recovery from the surgery I have not missed a day of training due to Achilles pain.  I have completed 7 Ironman events and logged thousands of miles biking and running.  I am SO thankful for good health!!

The past 2 weeks have been very solid training weeks.  I'm into a great routine of hard days on Tuesdays and Thursdays with long workouts on the weekend and long recovery (easy training) days Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I'm feeling more fit each week.  I've been very diligent about my nutrition paying attention to how I'm fueling based on the daily workout schedule and I feel that has left me feeling extremely strong on my hard days and recovering quickly on my easy days.  I try to fuel with more carbs on my hard days, especially early in the day and through lunch.  Following my hard workouts and on my easy days my protein consumption is much higher and my carb intake is reduced.  I'm going to get my body fat % tested at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care next Monday and then will retest after my 6 week block of Ironman training that begins on Monday.  Not a lot changes in my training Monday-Friday during the 6 week block.  The big change is on the my long workouts each weekend.  I'll try to get at least 4 rides of 100-120 miles during that time with much of each ride at my Ironman goal wattage for Challenge AC.  On the other weekend day I will run long between 17 and 23 miles. 

For the past 2 weeks I biked 225 and 247 miles, ran 52 and 41 miles, and swam 5,300 and 8,700 yards.  This Friday will be my first lake swim of the year and I'm excited to be back in my Xterra wetsuit.  The last 2 weekends I have raced a 5k.  2 weekends ago I raced a VERY hilly 5k in Davenport and ran 17:00.  This past weekend I won a race in Rock Island in 16:52.  It was cold, raining, and VERY windy.  I earned $150.00 for the iHope Foundation for winning that race.  I don't run many races all out with a busy triathlon schedule but I don't have any early season triathlons or duathlons to work through the initial race soreness and my first race is only 8 days before my Ironman at Challenge AC so I'd like to use these road races to get over that initial soreness so I can recover quickly from the QC Triathlon on June 20th to be prepared for Challenge AC.  Speaking of the iHope Foundation we have received 3 more VERY generous corporate sponsorships.  The first was from First Central State Bank.  They have been a generous supporter for the past 3 years and renewed at a Silver level again!!  The next was a new supporter at a Gold level, Greenwood Cleaning Systems.  I'm very excited about having Greenwood Cleaning Systems on my jersey in 2015!!  The latest was from the Pleasant Valley Girls Basketball program!!  I'm VERY proud to be part of this program in my off-season coaching our 9th grade girls team and I was very humbled by their support of the iHope Foundation.  If you'd like to help out with the foundation to provide iPads and scholarship money to low-income students in our community who display outstanding character and work traits you can click either the link to donate to the iPads or the Scholarships above on my home page. 


This week's off to a GREAT start.  Thursday I'm going to run the Elite Mile with our junior high kids.  All boys who ran under 6:00 in the fall and all girls under 6:30 were invited to run a mile in a competitive heat at 2:45 at our junior high track.  Parents and students are coming out to watch and the PE department invited me to run it also.  I haven't run an all out mile for a LONG time and I'm excited to see where I'm at.  I'm hoping to be somewhere between 4:45 and 4:50 based on my current workouts.  I'm not sure what the time will be but I am SURE that it is going to hurt.  I'm looking forward to that.  This past week a student in my class asked me what made me want to do an Ironman.  I responded, "Because it's hard."  He asked why I would want to do something that is hard.  My response was, "When you complete the greatest challenges you get the greatest satisfaction."  Although I've had more success at the 1/2 Ironman distance I think the incredible challenge of Ironman is what continues to draw me back hoping for more.  I know my best races have not happened and I'm continually looking for that greater satisfaction from conquering that race distance and going under 9 hours.  DREAMING BIG that 2 months from today will be the day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week 8...Starting to Feel Fit!

This week I really noticed the fitness starting to come around.  I've been placing a great deal of emphasis on hard days and easy days and sticking to a similar schedule each week.  Monday is a recovery day with all 3...swim, bike, and run.  None of them are hard with the exception of a swim set that is at a difficult pace for me to maintain this early in my swimming season.  Tuesday is easily my most difficult day of the week.  On Tuesdays I run and bike but both are hard interval sessions.  I've been tracking my nutrition since January and I've made a point to eat more carbs for breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day and that has allowed me to get some really good quality in on Tuesdays.  I either do a run/bike brick workout with both of them at a high effort or I split them up with a running workout and later a bike workout.  I've been very happy with how I've been able to double up both quality workouts.  Wednesday is another recovery day with swim, bike, and run but all easy with lots of technique work in the pool.  Thursday is another very hard bike workout but the run is easy and short leaving me feeling fresh to hit good intervals on the bike.  Friday is swim, bike, and run with quality in the run in the form of either a tempo run or intervals.  Saturday is a long bike ride.  This past Saturday was my first outdoor ride of the year.  I went 67 miles and it felt very good for my first time outdoors on hills and in wind.  I did 45 minutes at my goal Ironman wattage and it is not a wattage I'd be able to hold right now for an Ironman but I've got nearly 70 days before I need to be there.  Sunday is my long run which is done at a comfortable pace.  This past week I went 14 miles and I felt great.  I am recovering very well and am excited about the strength gains I've been making on the bike.  For the week I swam 3 times totaling only 6,700 yards, biked 258 miles, and ran 50 miles.  The swim yardage is down from past years due to spending so much time on technique.  I do sets of 16x50 kicking without a board where I alternate between kicking on my right side, front, left side, and back.  These are very slow because I've never kicked well probably because I've almost always relied on doing kick sets with fins prior to this year.  I'm trying to spend the time at the expense of getting more yards.  The kicking has gotten easier and my balance in the water has gotten better in just 2 weeks.  I'm not planning to race any triathlons or duathlons until late June but I'd like to get in a hard 5k and a hard 1/2 marathon before those to get the first race soreness out of the system before I race a triathlon.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!