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!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 7 Summary...iHope Corporate update

Week 7 was a great week of training for me.  For starters I returned to the water for the first time since Ironman in late September.  I'm really focusing on stroke development early.  I've been watching a lot of swim video and trying to make little changes to my stroke to become more efficient.  I've abandoned all the "swim toys" I've used in the past like fins, pull buoy, and kick board.  I'm doing a lot more kicking on my side and working on rotation and experimenting with head positioning to alleviate my major problem of sinking legs which create lots of drag while I swim.  I swam 4,000 yards in my 2 swims Friday and Saturday. 

For the week I biked 235 miles with almost 12 hours on the saddle.  I've spent a lot of time on the bike in the first 7 weeks averaging almost 10 hours each week on the saddle.  I put in 2 hard interval sessions.  The first was 3x10 minutes hard and after each 10 minute hard period I jumped on the treadmill for a fast mile run.  My wattage levels for the 10 minute periods were 262, 267, and 282.  The mile times were 5:39, 5:33, and 5:27.  I did this workout Tuesday.  Thursday was my other hard interval session.  I did 4x4 minutes hard following each with 4 minutes easy.  I like to build to 5x5.  I've been 5x3 for the first 6 weeks.  On the 4x4 I averaged 283, 283, 294, and 304 watts.  I'm not close to mid-season form but it's trending in the right direction. 

For the week I ran my highest mileage at 50 miles.  My long run Sunday was 13 which is my longest of the year.  In 4 weeks I will begin a 6 week block of Ironman prep training to get ready for my June 28 race in Atlantic City.  I'd like the long run to be at 18 for the start of that 6 week block.  I'll also ride 100-120 4 or 5 times during that 6 week block.  I have yet to ride outside.  All of my nearly 70 hours spent on the bike thus far has been on the trainer.  Most of my riding is after the kids are sleeping.  I ran 3 miles tempo with Jen at the Easter Egg Scramble Saturday morning.  We averaged around 5:50/mile.  It felt easy.  This week I'm going to run 5 miles at tempo pace. 

I'm thrilled by the amount of support the iHope Foundation has received thus far from local businesses.  We have already have secured 3 businesses at the Platinum level of support ($1,000.00 or more), and another 2 at gold level ($500.00-$999.00), 4 at Silver level ($250.00-$499.00), and a total of 10 businesses total that have contributed.  To date the iHope Foundation has provided 9 students with an iPad and a $1,000.00 college scholarship.  The students must be low-income students that possess outstanding character and work traits.  To make a tax deductible contribution to the iHope Foundation you can click the link at the top of this page.  The iHope Foundation has raised over $40,000.00 to date thanks to the support of individual and corporate support as well as all the prize money I win racing.  I'm motivated by making a difference in our community!  Thanks so much to the 2015 businesses that have contributed to this cause.  My goal is 20 corporate supporters and we are half way there!  DREAM BIG!!






Monday, March 16, 2015

The Staples of Success

In this entry I will detail what I think are the staples that make up a successful triathlon training program.  This year I am currently working with 4 athletes and they will recognize what they see on this page. 

Swimming- Train for efficiency.  I am yet to consider myself an efficient swimmer.  This comes easier for some than others.  Through lots of drill work efficiency can be developed.  The gains made from improvements in swim efficiency far outweigh the gains from endlessly swimming more yards.  Small improvements in efficiency will lead to big improvements in time.  This is why I believe investing a little money in someone knowledgeable about swimming technique may be worth it.  If you choose not to hire someone to help with efficiency there are lots of youtube videos on swim drills and efficiency that you can find at no cost.  I enjoy learning from a website at www.swimsmooth.com

Biking- Early in the season I try to get a big base of mileage.  Not much of the mileage is done at a high level of intensity.  Once each week early in the season I do a bike interval session.  The intervals may be something like 5x3 minutes hard following each with 2 minutes easy or my favorite staple workout is 5x5 minutes hard following each with 5 minutes easy.  These are done at an incredibly high level where I have to be fresh or I won't be able to hit my desired power output.  I have a Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer that allows me to control the power output that I pedal at.  If I can't pedal at the desired power output I just won't be able to pedal or I'll be forced to reduce the desired output.  As the season progresses and I round into shape with a good base I cut my number of days a week riding back from 6-7 early in the season to 4-5.  When I get to where I'm only riding 4-5 days a week 2 of them are HARD interval workouts and 1 of the rides is a long ride.  The term "long" is relative for training and racing goals.  Being that I choose to race Ironman distance a "long" ride for me is typically 90-120 miles.  Before an Ironman distance race from 8 weeks out down to 2 weeks out I like to get a minimum of 5 100+ mile rides in.  I do one of them every week. 

Running- I am a big believer in two weekly hard sessions and a weekly long run.  The hard sessions consist of 1 hard interval workout.  That may be something like 6x 3 minutes hard following each with 90 seconds easy jogging or 3x 1 mile @ (5:25 early season or 5:10 later) following each with 2-3 minutes of rest.  The other hard session I believe is key each week is a tempo session.  I do tempo runs about every week.  When I first begin my tempo is 1x2 miles at 6:00 pace.  My tempo pace is about the same as my 1/2 marathon pace.  The next week I do 2x1.5 miles at tempo for a total distance of 3.  Then I do 1x2.5 the following week...2x2 the week after...and I build up to where I'm doing 8 miles at tempo pace and as I get into good shape that pace drops to about 5:45-5:50/mile pace.  In addition to those 2 key hard workouts each week I believe in a weekly long run that is at a comfortable pace.  This year I started my long run at 60 minutes.  The term "long" is relative just like on the bike.  I have built up to 80 minutes by the end of week 4.  If I recovery extremely well I add 5-10 minutes the following week.  If the long run was a stretch and left me at all sore or tight I stick with it for another week before adding time.  For an Ironman I like to get 6 weeks in a row (from 8 weeks out down to 2 weeks out) running 18-22 miles for the long run.  I typically do that the day after the long ride but sometimes I pick the day with nicer weather to ride long and run on the day that isn't quite as nice since the time spent in the elements is a bit less than half. 

Those staple workouts are in addition to the easy recovery runs, rides, and strength training I do at Barre563.  I attend Barre563 3x a week until mid-April which is when I will begin swimming.  At that time I switch to twice a week at Barre563 hoping to have already gained a good amount of strength from my first 2 months of training.  Good luck and DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Back in the Saddle...Excited for 2015

On Tueday, February 17th I wrapped up my season coaching 9th grade girls basketball.  I love being part of the staff I am on.  It is a lot of fun working with high school athletes and trying to motivate and inspire their best on and off the court.  I officially started my training on Monday the 16th although since late December when my weight reached a 5 year high at 192 lbs. I began eating healthy and riding the bike 5-7 hours a week.  I have done a nice job of watching my nutrition closely coupled with working out regularly and I have managed to shed 31 lbs. over the past 9 weeks.  I weighed in at 161 this week. 

Week 1 was a great start until the weekend.  I came down with a nasty stomach virus that sidelined my workouts for 2 days and left me weakened and forced to drop my volume down.  My plan for now is just to ride and run along with attending my strength and flexibility class at Barre563.  I will begin swimming the 3rd week in April.  The kids are growing up so fast and I'm constantly trying to find more ways to make the balance of family, career, and training work to continue competing at a high level.  One thing I do to make this happen is wait on my swimming.  I've learned that my body can get into pretty good swim shape (by my standards) if I swim for 4-6 weeks at a higher volume.  Right now I am running and biking about every day.  My hope is to lean down by the 3rd week of April and then begin swimming but drop my running and biking down to 4-5 days a week of each with an emphasis on more quality. 

In 2015 I will again be donating all my race winnings to the iHope Foundation.  To date we have provided 8 students with an iPad and a $1,000.00 scholarship.  We are hoping to award 2 more yet this year.  The iHope Foundation provides low-income students that display outstanding character and work traits with an iPad while in junior high and a promise for a $1,000.00 scholarship upon graduation from high school provided they meet the requirements set for them through high school.  This past winter both students in our school who have been awarded in this year's 8th grade class made the honor roll which was very cool to see.  In a few weeks we will begin the corporate campaign for the foundation.  I will represent businesses during the race season that help build the foundation.  Last year I raced for 16 business supporters who contributed to the iHope Foundation.  My goal this year is 20.  If you'd like to support the iHope Foundation you can click either link on my home page to contribute to either the iPad fund or the scholarship fund.  For donors from Iowa if you donate to the scholarship fund the state of Iowa gives a 25% tax credit in addition to the federal tax deduction that all donations qualify for. 

My big early season race this year will be Challenge Atlantic City.  I raced it last year but did so without training for the Ironman distance event.  I raced often in June before this race and did it on a whim rather than something I was trained and rested for.  This year I'm training with that race in mind and hoping for a good result.  I loved Challenge AC and am super excited to be returning there. This week the training goal is 160 bike miles and 38 run miles.  I'm pretty sore from getting back into things but that is a feeling I've missed and welcome.  My disappointment from the pneumonia at Ironman Chattanooga to end last year fuels my motivation to work harder and do all the little things required to be successful.  If you are beginning your own journey remember that the path to success is paved with consistency.  Some days will be good, and others you will not feel so good.  Remember good results come from consistent training and work.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga Recap

Heading into this race last weekend I was excited.  If you've read the previous entries you can probably tell I was full of confidence because the 9 week training block I had put myself through had gone flawlessly.  I had little doubts this was going to be my best race ever at the Ironman distance. 

Monday before the race I could feel a bit of a sore throat.  No big deal...it was barely noticeable.  Tuesday morning I awoke with a tad more soreness so I thought I would play it smart and visit the doctor and stay home from school.  I was hoping to get an antibiotic to be preventative but my normal doctor wasn't in and the doctor I saw didn't think my minor symptoms warranted any medicine.  I was fine with that because I liked hearing that I was pretty healthy. 

Thursday after school Jen and I drove most of the way to Chattanooga.  We stayed in Nashville late in the evening and drove the rest of the way Friday morning.  Shortly after arriving we met up with friends Dan Ward and Robert White who were also racing.  I then attended the pro athlete meeting and drove the race course with fellow Iowa pro and Ironman Wisconsin champion and course record-holder Daniel Bretscher.  The bike course had a lot of rolling hills but nothing scary at all.  Overall it looked like a pretty fast course even though it was slightly longer than any Ironman event in history with 116 miles to bike rather than the usual 112.  I got my bike ready in the hotel and then we met up with Dan and his wife Wendi, Robert and his wife Jana, and local Jeff Kaczinski who had made the trip to support us.  It was over the course of 1 hour at dinner when things got weird.  All of a sudden within this hour I began to lose my voice and also get really congested.  By the time we arrived back at the hotel I didn't sound very good.  I started pounding Vitamin C tablets and prayed I was just getting a minor head cold.  Saturday morning things were the same.  My voice was continuing to go downhill and the congestion wasn't disappearing.  I didn't have a temp and didn't feel like I had any lower energy than normal so I tried to put it out of my mind.  We did all the bike and gear check in required and I was soundly asleep at a good hour awaiting the big day. 

Sunday morning I woke up for the race still without much of a voice and slightly congested.  I warmed up with about 2 miles of running.  I found out we had missed wetsuits by 1 degree.  The water was 77 and Ironman cutoff is 76.1.  Either way I knew it would be a fast swim because we were swimming down the Tennessee River with the current.  From experience I knew the lack of a wetsuit would leave me many more minutes behind the leaders than normal but my big goal was to break 9 hours and I thought even without a wetsuit the current would make this a fast swim.  I was right. 

SWIM: We started the swim just before 7:40 AM at the first sign of sunlight.  I was off the pack very quickly and settled in behind 1 other swimmer for about 500 yards before I lost contact with him.  My goal was to get 1/2 way before the first women passed me.  They were starting only 3 minutes behind us.  I didn't make that goal.  Despite not being in very good position I could tell the swim was going quickly based on how fast I was getting to the next buoy.  About 3/4 the way into the swim I started getting passed by a few amateurs not knowing how far behind me they started.  1 that really impressed me was a guy in a wetsuit.  At first I wondered why a guy in a wetsuit got to start so early.  They allow wetsuits up to 82 degrees but only for people who agree they won't be eligible for any age group awards.  They always make them start after all the non-wetsuit swimmers.  It was after he was all the way past me when I realized why he was in a wetsuit and so far up in the race.  HE HAD 1 LEG!!!  This guy with 1 leg just went flying by me in his Xterra Vortex suit!  It was super impressive.  I exited the water in my best Ironman distance swim time of 51:xx.  I have yet to look up official results so that's going on what I saw on the clock when I emerged from the water. 
I had a what felt like a pretty quick transition.  I was not feeling sick so I didn't even think about that.  I was excited to get out on the bike.  My goal was to hold 235-240 watts.  It was a goal I was sure I could hit.  I had done nearly 100 miles in a long training ride 3 weeks prior to the race at that wattage.  I planned to hit my lap button every 7 miles to restart my average watts.  In the first 7 miles I was right in the zone but it felt like more work than it should have been.  Maybe my legs aren't warmed up yet?  I teamed up with a guy about 5 miles in and we rode the next 45 miles or so trading the lead.  My wattage would drop at the same speed by about 10 watts when I rode legally 10 meters behind him so I knew this was helping me conserve.  I was riding really well on the down hill sections and spinning a high cadence going up the hills.  I stayed in my zone but it was much more difficult than I expected.  Just after the 1/2 way point of the race this guy fell back and I was solo.  I passed 2 professional guys just after the 1/2 way point but the power was getting very difficult.  I was occasionally coughing up some nastiness but it wasn't anything I was too concerned with.  It wasn't long after the 1/2 way point that the power started dropping fast.  I was taking in all my calories, salt, and water.  I couldn't figure out why the wattage that was so easy in the training rides was this difficult now.  I continued on and ended my last couple 7 mile segments at only about 200 watts.  I had my watch going and knew the sub-9 goal was probably out of the question.  With a 3 hour marathon I could still had a shot at a PR and I thought from my training I was capable of running 2:55 however the way I felt on the bike I realized this was probably not going to be the case. 
RUN: Out on the run is when things really started to go downhill.  My back ached out of transition.  I had ridden 9 times over 100 miles in my 10 week training block.  Most of that riding was spent in the aero position and I never once had any back issues.  I couldn't figure out why it was tight now.  I began the run and saw my pace and it was disheartening.  I was working hard and was only running about 8:00 pace.  Deep breaths were getting more and more painful.  I was starting to cough up garbage more frequently.  At about the mile mark I realized I needed to try to get things right.  I stopped to stretch out my back.  When I resumed running things were not any better.  I realized then that this was not going to be a good run...instead it would be a suffer-fest to the finish line.  I was having a hard time keeping my breathing calm and my knees were not coming up.  I was reminded of this because I kept scuffing my shoes on the pavement and I would tell myself to get my knees up but they just wouldn't respond.  The miles went by ever so slowly and the pain began mounting with each mile.  I was completely in suffer mode with over 20 miles to run.  I knew I could end the pain by just pulling the plug.  I realized that this little cold I had was affecting my body far more than I had anticipated.  I thought about stopping but deep down I knew this wasn't an option.  My kids would want to know how I did when I got done.  I didn't have the heart to tell them I didn't finish.  In my classroom we emphasize goal setting throughout the year.  I teach a 2 day lesson on the topic and we revisit goal setting often.  Students fill out goal sheets every quarter for both school goals and out of school goals.  I teach about the importance of having steps to achieve those goals and I had gone over my goals for this race and the steps I took to achieve those goals with my class before I left.  Having to tell them I didn't finish the race was not an option.  I accepted the fact that this was going to be a long and painful run.  The only walking I did was at aid stations trying to get something that would make my body feel better.  Nothing did the trick and I gave up on the aid station revival at about mile 20.  I decided to just try to get my mind off the pain by thanking every volunteer and spectator I could.  Around mile 23 my friend Robert White passed me going the other direction and I said, "Thanks for coming out."  I didn't even realize it was Robert until he was gone.  After the race he said he almost turned around to see if I was okay because he heard what I said and he could tell by the way I looked something was off.  I was extremely relieved to cross the finish line and end the suffering.  I was somewhere between 10 hrs. 20 minutes and 10 hrs. 30 minutes.  It was easily the most difficult Ironman I have finished.  The highlight of the day was watching Dan Ward and Robert White both finish looking awesome under 13 hours!!  They were first time Ironman finishers!! 
In the evening after the race I was still coughing up garbage and noticed that it contained blood.  This had me a bit concerned.  I was guessing maybe I had bronchitis.  I still had barely a voice to talk with.  Monday was much of the same...no voice and coughing up blood.  It was a long ride home.  Tuesday I really wanted to get to school.  I had missed 2 days and I am teaching a unit I love.  I went in but called for a sub pretty early.  I was coughing up blood still and knew I needed to get that checked out.  I also could barely talk which made teaching about impossible.  At the doctor's office he listened to my lungs and said he thought I had pneumonia.  He ordered a chest X-Ray and I had that immediately.  It was confirmed.  I had bacterial pneumonia in both lungs.  I went on some heavy antibiotics and was given an inhaler to use for the first time in my life.  Now 5 days into the medicine my voice has come back to near full strength and I'm stating to feel pretty good.  At my follow-up the doctor said he was guessing I'd had it for 2 weeks based on the patches of infection in my lungs.  The stress of the Ironman made the symptoms much worse.  He reminded me that pneumonia kills people every year and I should not take it lightly. 
It would be easy to sit around and wonder why.  After such a great block of training why did this have to happen to me now?  I've never had pneumonia in my life.  Feeling sorry for myself would do no good.  There are far too many people in the world with things way more serious than a case of pneumonia and a bad race.  I got passed by a guy with 1 leg in the swim.  I have much to be thankful for.  The training that put me in such great shape was a fun journey.  The race was not.  I set out to control what I could...which was my training...and I did that.  Some things in life you cannot control and this was one of those things. 
Over the past 5 days I've been reminded how blessed I am.  The most important thing for me racing is to raise funds for the iHope Foundation.  This week we raised over $5,000.00.  We received a matching gift from Toyota of $2,500.00 that matched local dealership Smart Toyota's $2,500.00.  My parents made an incredible donation of $2,000.00 this year after matching the $4,000.00 I earned the foundation through racing a year ago.  We also received extremely generous donations this week from Chris and Sarah Chamberlin and from Michelle and Jim Russell.  Since January 1st the foundation has received over $18,000.00 in contributions which is allowing us to set the foundation up for long-term giving of iPads and scholarship money for low-income students in our community that display outstanding character and work traits.  I am so thankful for all the support.  It has completely surpassed my wildest dreams for what I thought this foundation would be when it was created.  Over the next few weeks we are going to be able to present students with a gift that could have a life-changing impact.  If you'd like to help you can donate through either the iPad portion link above or the scholarship portion link above.  My goal is to increase the endowment of the foundation to $100,000.00 before I retire.  This would have an annual payout that would provide 3 students each with an iPad or other technology device valued around $500.00 along with a $1,000.00 scholarship for eternity.  We are over 1/4 the way there.  Since the foundation was created in March of 2013 over $33,000.00 has been contributed. 
I'd like to give a HUGE thanks to my wife Jen who is always so supportive of my training and racing.  I was glad to have her by my side in Chattanooga through my difficult day.  Also, huge thanks to Jason Rangel who made the trip to Chattanooga to watch my race.  Special thanks to so many individuals who sent me messages through texts, calls, facebook...etc leading up to and after the race.  You inspire me so much to DREAM BIG!  The video below was taken at the finish line in Chattanooga.  I knew many people would be wondering what happened and without a voice and not wanting to tell the story of suffering many times through I decided the best thing was to just tell the story.  As the famous line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail goes..."I'm not dead yet!"  Next year will be my best ever! ever. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trust the Process...Ready to Race!

Taped to the cover of my weekly goals checklist book I have a quotation from 3x Ironman world champion Craig Alexander that goes like this..."But as far as the race goes, I'll just try to do what I always do, which is control what I can control-my training- and I think a lot of the fun is just getting in great shape."

I have always felt the same way.  I sometimes think I love the process of getting ready for a race more than the race itself.  I love the feeling of working towards a single goal every day over a period of time much like a boxer prepares to enter the ring for a big fight.  For Ironman Chattanooga I set my sights on a 9 week build period which was my longest ever for a single race.  I had just finished Challenge Atlantic City and despite not training for the Ironman distance race I missed a professional award by 2 spots.  I vowed that my next Ironman would be one that I was prepared for.  I started this big 9 week build just 2 weeks after Challenge Atlantic City.  My body felt a bit worn down and lacking recovery when I began.  I reminded myself of something our varsity girls basketball coach Jennifer Goetz often says to her athletes..."Trust the Process." 

My planned out process was to emphasize a number of things which included...
1.  Long bike rides of 100+ miles
2.  Long runs of 20+ miles
3.  Lower my body weight and body fat %
4.  Emphasize improved biking by alternating weeks of 300+ miles with still solid bike weeks of 220+ bike miles
5.  Keep time swimming low until the last 4 weeks.  This is the one I sacrifice to be home more with 2 young kids, a wife, and a full-time job.  I planned to swim 2 days/week until the last 4 weeks. 

As I began the training process I was initially extremely fatigued.  "Trust the process."  My first 2 bike weeks were 340 and 240.  My long rides were 116, and 120.  I knew I needed to build my long run a bit before getting to 20 so my first 2 long runs were 15 and 18 miles.  After I started to 10 week build weighing 166 lbs.  After 2 weeks I was only 165..."Trust the process."  In weeks 3 and 4 I biked 350 and 217 miles.  My long run was 20 on week 3 and I had a race in week 4 and didn't run long.  I weighed in at 163...4 weeks in and I had only lost 3 lbs..."Trust the process."  Week 5 I biked 325 miles and week 6 was 200.  My long rides were 130 and 104.  My long runs were 20 and 20.5.  That took me to August 23rd.  I weighed in the morning of the 24th at 162...6 weeks of high training and I had only lost 4 lbs..."Trust the process" I reminded myself.  Week 7 I biked 325 miles and week 8 was 215.  My long rides were 140 miles and 115 miles.  My long run week 7 was 22 miles at 6:40 pace...starting to feel more fit..."Trust the process."  Week 8's long ride was the last 50 miles at my Ironman bike wattage goal of 235-240 watts right into a 10 mile run that was supposed to be 6:30 pace comfortable.  I ran 6:17 pace comfortable..."Trust the process."  I weighed 164 as I started week 8.  This is when I really buckled down with eating clean.  I didn't run long during week 8 because of the test workout.  Week 9 I biked 300 miles with a long ride of 121.  My long run that week was 20 miles.  This put me 2 weeks out from the race.  I also weighed 156 at the end of the week which was a positive sign.  Today I stepped on the scale and was 152...my lowest weight in 2 years.  Nearly all of this weight came off in the past 3 weeks.  I had a body fat % test today and I am carrying 16 lbs. of fat which was 11% body fat.  At my first test this year in April I was carrying 26 lbs. of body fat.  In the past few weeks I'd begun to see the signs that the body fat was finally coming off...I only have 1 pair of shorts that fit without a belt and that is a pair I normally can't fit in.  While swimming I've almost lost my ring from it sliding off my finger.  I take it off or switch it to a fatter finger to keep it on.  I was running and my watch was flopping around and had to tighten it to the last hole in the strap which I've never had to do.  I have swam my highest 3 yardage weeks in the last 3 and have swam 12 of the last 14 days.  My swimming is the best it's been all year.  "Trust the process."

The pro field in Chattanooga is going to be VERY large.  47 guys were on the start list and IM Lake Tahoe was cancelled last week with a wild fire in the area and now some of those guys will be coming.  Top 10 is probably setting too high of a goal.  Realistically I'd like to be in the top 1/2 of the pro field...let's say top 20.  I'd love to break 9 hours which will be tough with a bike course of 116 miles rather than the normal 112.  That will add 11 minutes.  If we get a nice current on the down river swim it's still possible...or if I have a magical run.  I'd like to average between 235 and 240 watts on the bike.  This would give me a nice bike split of around 5 hrs. flat and leave me with good run legs. For the run I'd like to run a new PR by at least 5 minutes with a 3 hr. 3 minute split in the marathon.  This would certainly move me up in the field.  More than anything I want to celebrate the fitness I've gained and the shape I've gotten myself into these past now almost 11 weeks.  I've controlled what I can control...my training.  I've enjoyed the process so much.  Now it's just about doing what I've trained my body to do which is race fast and race smart.  What I worry about most is what I cannot control...things like flat tires, water temps...etc.  If you'd like to follow along you can track the race at www.ironman.com  Then click on races and there will be an athlete tracking page.  You can filter pros to see what place I'm in after the swim/bike/run.  They should also have a live video stream of the finish.  We start at 7:40 TN time which is 6:40 Midwest time.  I'd expect to be done around 3:40 Midwest time give or take 15 minutes each way.  Thanks for reading..."Trust the process"...DREAM BIG!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dreaming BIG! 13 days to IM Chattanooga

As I write this entry I am just 13 days from my peak race of the 2014 season, Ironman Chattanooga.  I am so excited for this race.  It is the only race this year I will be doing a full taper for.  After finishing Challenge Atlantic City just 6 minutes outside a professional payout I was motivated and confident in what I was capable of.  I made the decision to stop racing through July, August, and September so I could devote every day of training for 1 goal race.  I put together a plan of 10 weeks building my volume and not having to worry about being tired or resting up for races.  My plan was to increase my bike volume substantially, run less days each week but get in more long runs, and be patient with my swimming until 4 weeks out from the race.  As my kids have gotten older and involved in more activities I have managed to keep training at a high level by making concessions and one of those has been to swim much less until I get close to a race.  Then I ramp up my swimming A LOT over the last 4 weeks and get in good swim shape quickly. 

9 days ago I did a test workout I had planned since the beginning of the 10 week block.  I wanted to ride 100 miles with the last 50 at my Ironman goal wattage of 235-240 and then get off the bike and be able to run 10 miles at 6:30 pace rather comfortably.  I thought if the goal went well I would use this pace as my Ironman race pace in Chattanooga.  I did the first 50 miles at 7% under my goal wattage and stayed right around 220 watts the entire time.  At mile 50 I ramped it up into my Ironman zone and completed the last 50 right inside my goal holding each 7 mile split at 235-240.  I got off the bike and started running.  What felt easy was under 6:20 pace.  I stayed right there the entire 10 miles and averaged 6:17/mile.  I did 5 loops of 2 miles from the house and had the support of Payton and Owen who set up a table in the driveway and stocked it with about 25 cups of water.  Each loop as I came by they handed me water, coke, GU Chomps, GU gels, and salt pills.  They were tremendous aid station volunteers.  I was thrilled to not only finish the workout hitting my goals for it but also in how I felt the following day.  I couldn't even tell I had done a workout let alone one that lasted nearly 6 hours at a race pace I'd be very happy with on Sept. 28.  I did this in the midst of heavy training volume. 

This past week my was last week of big training.  It actually ended up being my biggest of the year.  I biked 300 miles, ran 46, and swam 20,000 yards.  I also attended class at Barre563 twice and got all my goals of plyometrics, lunges, jump rope, and core done.  I rode 101 miles Saturday morning and added another hour in the evening on the trainer and then woke up Sunday morning and ran 20 miles very comfortably at 6:53/mile pace.  Saturday's ride was my 9th ride of 100+ miles over the past 10 weeks and Sunday's run was my 5th run of 20+ miles over the past 7 weeks.  The quick ramp up in swimming has me swimming my loop at Lake G faster than I have all year.  Despite the cool air temps the lake temp is still awesome in the mid-60's.  I am in the middle of a stretch where I will swim 9 of 10 days.  As I look back to my best triathlon swims ever they have come after periods where I swim much more frequently than I typically do.  Even though I begin my taper this week I will continue to swim often.  Starting Thursday I will drop my bike mileage over the final 10 days to 100 miles.  I have been averaging 400 miles every 10 days through the last 10 weeks.  I learned a lot about how my body responds to tapering last year when I created a spreadsheet of all the races I have tapered for the past 5 years.  I tracked what I did each of the final 10 days leading into the race.  I totaled my last 10 day volume as well as my last 5 day volume and feel I have a pretty good idea what my body responds well to.  I found some good patterns in what lead to races with good swim, bike, and run performances.  I have used this data to create my taper for Ironman Chattanooga and it has me feeling very confident.  Over the past 10 weeks I was blessed to make it through this build exactly like I hoped.  I wanted to alternate big bike weeks with really big bike weeks.  I did that to a "T" through the 10 weeks alternating 200-240 mile weeks with 300-340 mile weeks.  I got in the long rides and runs I hoped to.  I hit my test workout just like I hoped.  My swimming is improving like I hoped.  The plan has been successful and now I have to do what I've prepared my body to do on race day.  One of my goals has been to go under 9 hours in an Ironman distance.  Not many from Iowa have ever seen the lower side of 9 hours.  I've been close twice at 9:04 and 9:05.  Chattanooga will be especially tough because Ironman added 4 miles to the bike course!!!!  Yes, that's right...the brand that created this race couldn't figure out a route for 112 miles on the bike so they have announced it will be 116 which will add nearly 11 minutes to my time.  That will be tough to find and would likely take a strong river current or an incredible run PR which I think I'm capable of.  My goal for the race is to finish in the top 10 and a dream goal would be to finish in the top 6 to earn some money for the iHope Foundaiton and my first professional race prize purse.  I was inspired to watch the results of Ironman Wisconsin last weekend.  There were some local finishers who completed their first Ironman race, others who raced to new PR's, and 3 Iowans who finished in the top 8 of the professional race including Daniel Bretscher who won the race in a new record time and Adam Bohach who finished 8th.  I have gotten to know Daniel over the past few years and he is an incredible ambassador for the sport.  He's always been willing to share his knowledge with me and has been a great inspiration to me.  Adam is a buddy I had the privilege of training with while he was living and teaching in Clinton, Iowa a few years back. I really miss having him around.  He's had a fantastic season this year. 

Now onto the best news of the week!  I got a call last week from Sara Boyle Keeling.  Sara is a local triathlete who works at Quad City Bank and Trust.  She told me they took up a collection for the iHope Foundation and presented me with a very generous check.  This was so exciting to me because one of my goals this season was to get 15 iHope business sponsors.  I had been stuck on 13 until 2 weeks ago when I received a commitment from Smart Toyota general manager Nick Tarpein.  Nick said Smart Toyota was going to contribute and incredible $1,500.00 to the foundation.  They became the 14th business sponsor.  Thanks to Sara and the generosity of Quad City Bank and Trust I can now check off my most important goal of the season as they became the 15th business to support the iHope Foundation.  It gets even better...today I went to Smart Toyota to pick up the contribution and I was completely surprised when I walked into Nick's office and he informed me that they were going to increase the commitment to $2,500.00 and they also secured a matching contribution from the Toyota corporate office!!!  This means $5,000.00 to the foundation which will provide 10 low-income students in our community who display outstanding character and work traits with iPads!!!  I feel so blessed.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think the iHope Foundation would impact the number of students is has and will for many years.  Each student that receives and iPad in junior high will also be awarded a $1,000.00 iHope scholarship upon graduation from high school.  If you would like to help contribute to the foundation you can click on the donation links at the top of my page to give to either the scholarship portion or the iPad portion of the foundation.  All contributions are tax deductible.  The support this foundation has received continues to inspire me daily to DREAM BIG and believe that nothing is impossible!