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 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!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Under 4 Weeks...

Ironman Chattanooga looms less than 4 weeks away and I'm very excited about how the plan has gone to date.  This past week was another big week.  I've been alternating big bike weeks with even bigger ones.  This past week was 325 bike miles.  I've averaged 280 miles a week on the bike over the past 8 weeks.  It's definitely my highest average ever over an 8 week period.  I will be down a bit this week at around 220 and then back up over 300 for one more week before cutting back and beginning my taper 10 days from the race.  I ran 42 miles last week but only swam once at 3,000 yards.  This week begins a higher swim build which will last until the race.  One of the changes I've made to cut back training time as my kids have grown up is to cut my swim yardage until close to a big race.  With 3-4 weeks swimming at high volume and even more importantly more days per week I make pretty quick gains in swim fitness.  Honestly I'm surprised where it is at right now given my limited time in the water.

I have continued to get big loads of long training in on the weekends.  This past week was slated to be my highest single day totals on the bike and run.  Saturday morning I rode 130 miles and kept most of it easy with an exception of 1 hour at Ironman effort between the 4:30 and 5:30 mark.  I felt very strong through the entire ride.  Big thanks to Daniel Westbay for joining me for the first 50 to keep time going by quickly.  I ran 2 miles off the bike at 6:30/mile pace and then did 30 more minutes easy on the trainer in the evening.  Sunday I got up early and started my long run at 5:45.  I ran 22 miles at 6:40 pace.  It felt very good despite humidity over 90%.  At mile 5 my average pace was 7:06 and it slowly kept dropping until the finish.  In the last couple miles I glanced down to see current pace hovering around 6:00/mile.  It leaves me feeling confident I can run a good marathon if I stay in my wattage zone on the bike (235-240) which I intend to do regardless of the dynamics of the race.  I know through my training that a power output in that zone will leave me with a fast bike split and with good legs to run well.

This Saturday I have a big test workout I have had penciled in for the last 6 weeks.  I planned to do it 3 weeks out from the race.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I will ride 100 miles with the first 50 easy at 210 watt average.  I will keep the power output consistent up and down hills.  At mile 50 I will ramp up into my Ironman zone of 235-240 and hold that for the next 50 miles.  I will get off the bike and run 10 miles right away hoping to be 6:30 pace without feeling uncomfortable.  If it feels easy I have promised myself I will not drop more than 5 sec./mile under that pace until the last 2 miles where I'll allow my self to drop as low as 6:00 pace but no lower.  If 6:30 pace feels good off the bike I will plan to go out at that pace in Chattanooga.

Monday was the final Run With Carl, a memorial run that has gone on for the past 20 years for Carl Schillig, a friend and teammate of mine whose life was taken way too soon by a drunk driver that ran a red light and killed him in 1994 when we were high school freshmen.  It was great doing the run with Chris Chamberlin, a local guy I've been coaching for the past 20 weeks.  He ran 32:20 averaging 6:22/mile after averaging 6:47/mile last year.  His big goal this year was to run a 1/2 in under 7:00 pace this year and I have no doubts he will do that.  Owen ran the 1/2 mile and had so much fun he walked back up the hill and ran the mile finishing just behind Payton.  Jen and I were very proud of them for tackling the hilly mile without walking.

This has been a great week for the iHope Foundation.  HUGE thanks to Tim and Marlene King, Jim and Michelle Russell, and all those at our PVXC alumni reunion who contributed to the foundation.  To date the iHope Foundation has raised over $27,000.00 to purchase iPads and provide scholarships for low-income students that display outstanding character and work traits.  When I began the foundation I was hoping we would be able to provide 1 iPad each year.  Due to the incredible support we are hoping to do 3 iPads each year with each recipient also getting a $1,000.00 scholarship upon high school graduation.  If you'd like to help contribute to either the iPad portion or the scholarship portion of the iHope Foundation you can click either of the links at the top of my page.  Thanks so much!  25 days to Ironman Chattanooga.  I'm dreaming of my best race ever.  DREAM BIG!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Welcome Smart Toyota...iHope Business sponsor

The week was another big one in the block of training for Ironman Chattanooga.  I have made the bike and overall long workouts my main focus.  I biked 325 miles this week, ran 36, and swam 7,500 yards.  It was a challenging week time-wise with the start of a new school year.  All of a sudden I have 8 hours a day that are taken up that I haven't had in a few months.  I do a lot of my bike miles in the evening after the kids go to bed.  I constantly have to weigh the costs and benefits of a ride from 8:30-10:00 PM versus the extra sleep I could be getting.  If I'm riding until 10:00 it's rarely before 11:00 when I'm in bed after stretching, core, massage (with the Podium Legs), and then shower.  I continue to ride and run long on Sundays.  This week I changed my long run to Saturday.  Payton was doing the Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon and I wasn't going to miss that.  I ran 20 miles before and after her race.  It was awesome watching her compete.  To be honest I was not excited about her doing it and tried to talk Jen out of signing her up.  She just learned to swim and had never gone across a pool and back like she would in the kids triathlon (50 yard swim for 6-8 yr. olds).  We just got her a new Specialized bike and I've ridden with her a few times on it and she's pretty shaky on it so that had me worried.  Being around hundreds of other kids in a race setting without being confident in the swim or bike had me very nervous for her.  The bike was 2 miles and the run only 500 yards.  To my pleasant surprise she did awesome and had a blast.  When she was done I asked her what her favorite part was and she said, "All of it!"

Sunday I followed up the long run with a 112 mile ride.  I was feeling awesome early and averaging 21.6 mph at the 1/2 way point before I started my efforts at Ironman wattage.  I rolled off the next 35 miles at my Ironman wattage zone of 235-240 but it felt more tiring than I was hoping.  It was warm and I had steady drips of sweat coming off my helmet.  The wind was picking up by the hour and I was battling it on the way home.  I was happy to make it 112 and my average pace was still 21.6 even though my last 20 miles were pretty slow.  I rode another hour on Sunday night after the kids were in bed to loosen my legs back up. 

I was super excited this week after meeting with Nick Tarpein, the general manager of Smart Toyota of the Quad Cities in Davenport.  Nick notified me that Smart Toyota would be joining on as the 14th iHope business sponsor in 2014 and at a Gold level!!  The contribution from Smart Toyota will help so much in providing low-income students in our community that display outstanding character and work traits with iPads and scholarships.  I'll be pleased to add the Smart Toyota logo to my jersey next year!  In addition to the contribution Nick said that Smart Toyota would be happy to contribute an additional $300.00 to the iHope Foundation for anyone who purchased a new or used vehicle at Smart Toyota with a mention of the iHope Foundation as a referral.  He assured me this referral credit to iHope would not affect the purchase price in any way as the referral money comes from a different pot than what they make on a vehicle purchase.  If you are looking for a new or used vehicle please give a visit to Smart Toyota and mention iHope to help the foundation in an incredible way.  The website for Smart Toyota to see inventory is here.  If you'd like to make a tax deductible contribution to the foundation click either link on the home page to contribute to either the iPad fund or the scholarship fund.  I'll be buying my next Toyota Prius from Smart.  I set a new PR on my last tank of gas in my 2005 Prius with 50.1 MPG.  I hope that is the start of a new PR streak as I get ready for Ironman Chattanooga in just over 5 weeks.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scheels Dam Duathlon Report

Sunday Jen and I participated in the final duathlon of the Scheels Series.  We both came out well with wins in the race and overall series wins.  It was a bit disappointing to find out after the race that they decided not to pay out for the series win this year.  Earlier in the year I e-mailed the race director and he said they were going to pay out less for the series because they were paying more for the individual races.  I didn't realize less meant nothing.  I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping to give more to the iHope Foundation but still was happy to earn $300.00 at the final race.

RUN: The first run started out fast as all of these runs have.  I've gotten used to it going out fast.  Being in the middle of a huge block of Ironman training I wasn't sure what my legs would have in them.  I've worn myself out with big loads of training for the past 4 weeks and did not back down for this race much at all.  In fact I was so tired on Thursday I had to walk in my long run and pulled the plug after only 11 miles of a planned 20 miler.  I was pretty dehydrated and it led to a complete suffer fest the last 2 miles.  I woke up weighing 158 after being 163 just 2 days prior.  I was sweating heavily and suffered.  In the first run of the duathlon I hung back about 10 seconds behind the leader and entered T2 with another guy who was new to the series.  I had been told he was one heck of a bike rider being Cat 1/2.

BIKE:  About a mile into the 10 mile ride the strong rider went by me.  I was able to hang back 7 meters without too much difficulty.  I wanted to share the work with him and press the lead on the others hoping to make it a two man race.  Every time I would pass him he would almost immediately pass me back.  I'm pretty sure he didn't know the USAT overtaken rule but I wasn't upset about it.  This was a small race and I was more than willing to let him lead the majority of the bike.  I probably passed him 4 different times but each time he would almost refuse to let me be in the lead for more than 20 seconds before passing me back.  I sat back the required distance to the end of the ride and we both had super fast transitions heading out on the run.  The bike course was brutally hilly which I expected since I did the race last year.  He had a faster bike split than me by 5 seconds.

RUN 2: I almost forgot to take my helmet off I was in such a hurry to get out of transition.  I was almost out when I noticed my shadow and realized my helmet was still on.  I disposed of it just before the end of the transition area.  I tried to set a strong pace early and I could tell he was fighting to hang on.  I could hear his breathing on my shoulder and I continued to press as the first mile is uphill before returning a mile downhill.  I'm not a very strong hill runner being a bigger guy.  I still tried to lift the pace and about 1/2 way out to the turn I was able to put some ground on him.  I wanted to press hard to see if I could get him to throw the towel in.  At the turn I was about 20 seconds up and knew I had done the job.  I still pushed hard back and actually ran about the exact same time as my first run and it didn't feel as hard as the first one.

After I finished I waited for Jen to come in.  She won by quite a bit so it was a good day for the Paul family with double wins.  Now my focus will shift back entirely to getting myself as ready as I can for my best race ever at Ironman Chattanooga in just 6.5 weeks.  I'm in the middle of the really big weeks as I focus all of my workouts around this one race.  I'm struggling to get leaner like I normally can before an Ironman.  I'm keeping the faith and remembering to trust the process.  My body always seems to lean down for me before the big ones.  It's been a tough week with the start of school.  More than the extra 8 hours a day is the emotional energy that goes into the classroom as I get back into the swing of things.  Hopefully by next week I'm back in a good routine and the stress of getting ready for school is in the rear view mirror.  I'm excited to have the opportunity to be a positive influence on a new group of kids and realize the impact I can potentially make on them.  It motivates me each day to make a positive difference in their lives and get them to set high goals, work hard, and DREAM BIG!  If you'd like to help contribute to the iHope Foundation click here.  I'm hoping we can provide 3 more students this year with an iPad and a $1,000.00 scholarship.  THANKS!

Monday, August 4, 2014

8 weeks to Ironman Chattanooga

I got officially registered this week for Ironman Chattanooga.  I wiped everything off my racing schedule except a duathlon that is part of the Scheel's Series next weekend.  I wanted to be able to devote a big chunk of training towards 1 goal date...September 28th. 

I picked this race for a few reasons.  I always look for a fall Ironman distance event to finish my season.  There are quite a few good options.  Being that it may be my last pro race I wanted to give 1 more crack at an Ironman branded event because it may be many years before I venture back into this brand should I stop racing as a professional.  I'd like to do more Rev3, Challenge, and independent events if I race as an amateur.  I get asked a lot about Kona as an age grouper.  That is a goal of mine some day but right now it is not something I am overly excited about.  The trip is incredibly expensive.  On top of that Kona is tough for teachers.  I wouldn't go there unless spending at least a week on the island and that week would be unpaid and also wouldn't be the best situation for the kids sitting in my classroom.  I have an obligation to them.  Kona is a goal of mine when I'm 55.  That will be my first year retired and I plan to train like crazy.  That's still 21 years away so I'm not thinking too much about it right now.  The best thing I can do to be ready for Kona when I'm 55 is continue staying fit year in and year out so when that day comes I'll have a chance to place really high in the 55-59 age group.  Another big reason I picked Ironman Chattanooga is because local friends Robert White and Dan Ward are racing there.  Robert has actually moved to Florida so this will be a great opportunity to catch up with him.  For both of them it will be their first Ironman distance event so I'm excited to watch those finishes.  Another big factor for me is a down river swim.  This puts me in a better position to be successful in the race because the time gaps after the swim should not be as large as what I'm used to.  One more reason was the rolling terrain on the bike course.  I've always ridden rolling terrain well and my plan to be lean for this race should help even more on this kind of terrain.  The final reason is the race is sponsored by "Little Debbie".  I've always loved my Little Debbie snacks and couldn't pass on a race sponsored by this brand.  Hopefully the aid stations will be stocked with Swiss Cake Rolls, Fudge Rounds, Oatmeal Cream Pies, Star Crunch's, Boston Cream Rolls, and Nutty Bars.  That fuel source should lead to a good marathon time :)

My 3rd week of Ironman prep was a big one by design.  I continue to make the bike my main focus in training.  I will increase my swimming a lot about 4 weeks before the race.  I only swam 7,500 yards.  I ran 43 miles (in 4 days of running), and I biked 350 miles.  I did hill intervals Tuesday, longer intervals on Wednesday, and Saturday was my long ride.  Saturday's ride I did 117 miles with the first 55 easy and then the next 56 at my Ironman goal wattage which is 235-240 for this race.  I hit my split to reset my average wattage every 7 miles of the 56 mile portion.  My watts for each 7 mile segment were 241, 240, 241, 241, 243, 245, 243, and 237.  I had almost 2,000 feet of climbing over that 56 miles.  I kept my normalized power within 2 watts of my average power on each segment.  Normalized power takes into account hard accelerations and these are what I intend to avoid.  I want to keep a steady smooth effort both up and down hills so keeping the normalized power close to the average power is important.  What I was most excited about is my 56 mile time was 2 hrs. 25 minutes.  This is about what I need to average speed wise to have a shot at breaking 9 hours.  I did it in a training ride with my training wheels, road helmet, and big saddle bag on the back of my bike.  I found at Challenge Atlantic city I was riding 1-1.5 mph faster during the race with my race wheels, aero helmet, and bike stripped down at the same wattage I had been training which at that time was 225-230.  This is a big confidence booster.  I also hope to pick up more speed as I reduce my body weight allowing me to get up hills faster without increasing my wattage. 

Sunday I ran 20 miles and I felt as good on the 20th as I did on the 1st mile.  I have run 15, 18, and 20 the last 3 weeks respectively coming off long rides of 110, 120, and 117.  This next week will be my only week without the long workouts until the week before the race.  After this approaching weekend I'll have 5 more long rides/runs.  3 weeks out of the race I plan to do a long brick of 100 miles on the bike with the last 1/2 at Ironman wattage followed by a 10 mile run at goal pace of 6:30/mile.  This week I only dropped 1 lb. which was frustrating.  On Thursday morning I was down from 165 to 160 but may have been dehydrated because by this morning I was back up to 164.  I'd like to be 150 by September 20th.  Lots of work to do. 

I was thrilled this week to get word of 2 VERY generous contributions to the iHope Foundation.  Huge thanks to Mark Nagan and Daniel Westbay for helping with the foundation.  I'm hoping we can award 3 more iPads and $1,000.00 scholarships to low-income students that display outstanding character and work traits this upcoming school year.  If you'd like to help with the iHope Foundation click here.  Speaking of Daniel Westbay I've been having fun coaching him this year.  I'm amazed and inspired by how much he has improved.  He placed 11th in the Crossroads Triathlon this year on Saturday morning moving up from 32nd last year.  His swim time improved from 9:14 to 8:11, bike time from 43:25 to 41:21, and run time from 23:09 to 20:51.  Overall he dropped 6 minutes 20 seconds.  I am super proud of the commitment he has made and the hard work he has put in to see these substantial improvements.  It shows when you are willing to work and DREAM BIG incredible things will happen.  DREAM BIG!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thoughts on "Junk Miles"...

Before I get into the topic of this post I'll update from the week.  Last week was another prep week for Ironman Chattanooga.  As planned I dropped my bike volume this week a bit.  I'm going to be alternating between weeks of 300+ miles on the bike with weeks of 220-240 miles.  This past week I biked 240 miles, swam 6,200 yards, and ran 38 miles.  I also attended my strength class at Barre563 twice and did lunges, plyometrics, and jump rope all twice.  My legs are tired but I'm still able to get the quality in that I hoped for.  I rode hard intervals on the bike Tuesday and followed it up with a hard group ride Wednesday where I did 4x5 minutes at 320-330 watts during the ride.  Half of my bike miles came on my long ride Saturday when I rode 120 miles.  At the 75 mile mark I started a 35 mile stretch at my Ironman goal wattage.  I have bumped this from the 225-230 window I was in during Challenge Atlantic City to 235-240 as my goal for Chattanooga.  I was able to stay right inside the window on my training ride rather comfortably.  I followed up my long ride with an 18 mile run on Sunday.  My wife Jen had quite a great weekend winning the Brady Street Sprint on Thursday collecting $500.00 in the process and then running 42:30 for the 7 mile Bix on Saturday finishing as the top local female.  Payton and Owen have been doing some running as well.  Payton ran her fastest mile ever at Firecracker in 8:21 and Owen ran his best ever at 8:52 during the Moonlight Chase mile the following weekend.  They make me very proud.  Payton is now 6 and is rather competitive and Owen is 4 and some days prefers to DNF over actually making the finish line. 

This week's post is devoted to what many refer to as "Junk Miles".  I hear a lot of people that recommend eliminating these miles from training.  For me there is certainly a time to eliminate the junk miles but that is mostly only when I get close to big races.  What are "junk miles"?  Most would consider them to be easy miles on the bike or running that don't serve as part of a long run/ride.  Many people believe you should eliminate the junk miles and go just with quality forgetting about quantity within a given week or month.  For me junk miles, most notably on the bike are VERY important especially as I get ready for Ironman Chattanooga.  Although my thoughts here are not organized I'll attempt to ramble on the subject. 

Most endurance athletes believe that if they were to lose a few pounds they would race faster.  In endurance sports a lower body weight can be a big help to racing faster if the weight lost is good weight.  Cyclists don't want extra body weight when they are climbing hills.  Riding up hills with extra weight makes the ride much tougher.  Think how much money people spend on carbon products just to save a few ounces on the bike.  Many of them don't seem to consider how it could be easier to lose not just a few ounces but pounds off their own body weight to achieve greater benefits.  Body weight is even more important in running.  Every step of a run involves lifting one's body weight off the ground before taking the next step.  The less you weigh the more efficiently you can run.  I see what most consider "junk miles" to be "gold miles".  They are easy on the body...cycling especially so over running.  In running even junk miles put a body through pounding.  In cycling because there is no impact involved the junk miles are easy to log without hurting the body.  This week I will ride over 17 hours.  Probably 7 of that will be sitting on the trainer at 150 watts which is very low.  Although some see this as junk miles I realize in 7 hours I will burn about 4,000 calories.  To burn a pound of fat off one's body it takes 3,500 calories more burned than consumed.  This is why I see these miles as "gold miles".  I know from experience that each pound less I weigh saves me about 2 seconds/mile running.  The junk miles I log this week alone would come out to about 1 minute of savings in an Ironman run.  This doesn't consider the benefits of being lighter on the bike with a moderately hilly course at Ironman Chattanooga.  1 minute may not seem like a big deal but if I log 7 hours of junk miles on the trainer for the next 8 weeks I'm at 32,000 calories burned through those rides without adding hardly any stress to my workout week because the wattage is low and the cycling doesn't involve impact.  I purposefully keep the wattage low because exercise at low heart rates promotes fat burning.  8 weeks would mean an incredible 9.14 lbs. less body weight if I do not adjust my eating due to the junk miles.  Now we're talking quite a chunk of time at almost 8 minutes faster on the run and still not even considering the savings on the bike.  Because any amount of miles running or cycling even at low intensities burn calories faster than at rest and lower body weight is important to success in endurance athletics I'm one athlete who will continue to log junk miles as long as I have excess weight to lose. 

I don't believe all athletes should incorporate junk miles...or gold miles into their training.  Athletes that are crunched for time and don't have more than 8-10 hours a week to work out should probably get more quality out of their workouts.  If you have a day where you only have 45 minutes to work out rather than spin easy on the bike it may be better to warm up 10 minutes, do 5x3 minutes hard with 2 minute recovery and then cool down.  That would be a much more effective use of time if you are looking to get into better shape.  The other group I would definitely say needs not incorporate junk miles are those who are already at a race weight that is lean.  If you are already in a range of body fat that is low it would not be necessary to log hours of junk miles.  If I had a body fat % of under 9 I'd definitely eliminate junk miles.  I don't.  My body fat % is hovering around 14-15 so I have plenty of bad weight I can lose which will result in racing faster.  It's also more difficult to log junk miles outside on the bike I believe because most roads have hills and even moderate hills require much more power to go up which will increase the heart rate and the stress on the body.  When I'm riding at 150 watts on the trainer I can keep it steady and purposefully keep the wattage low because I don't want the junk miles to wear me out for my hard interval workouts.  I do have to make sure I stay hydrated because even while logging junk miles I sweat pretty heavily.  I'm excited about Chattanooga and plan to race leaner than I have in the last 2 years.  I think on a course with a hilly ride and run this will be very important for my success.  It's why I'll continue to consider what some call "junk" to be "gold".  Feel free to post thoughts/comments on the topic.  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Homestretch...

Following Challenge Atlantic City in New Jersey on June 29 I had my best recovery from an Ironman distance race ever.  I ran the Thursday following the race and I had some deep quad soreness.  By the weekend I was able to ride 70 miles.  I felt pretty normal by the middle of the next week.  On Saturday, July 12 I raced an Olympic Distance event in Burlington, Iowa.  I thought I was 100% recovered but felt anything but sharp in the race.  The swim was once again non-wetsuit legal and I don't swim well without a wetsuit.  The bike was where I thought I would do well but my legs could not find the power I hoped for.  The run was very tough with hills and heat and I ended up getting beat by quite a bit and finished 2nd overall.  I was still very happy to earn $200.00 for the iHope Foundation.  I was also happy to be done with a stretch of 5 races over 36 days.  To date this year I've raised $1,100.00 racing which is slightly behind the goal I set for myself this year.  If you'd like to make a contribution to help provide iPads and scholarship money for low-income students displaying outstanding character and work traits click here.  All contributions are tax deductions. 

Moving forward I had 2-3 races I had considered doing before Ironman Chattanooga on September 28th.  I didn't have to think about it much to decide I wanted to scrap those races and begin training for Ironman.  That race may be my last as a professional and the last Ironman branded event I do for many years so I'd like to make sure I am in the best shape I've ever been in for a race.  I began a big training block last week.  That block will last about 8 weeks before I begin my taper.  I will only race once in that time.  It is a duathlon to complete the Scheel's Series which I am leading heading into the final event. 

My training plan now has me on 15 workouts a week.  I attend class at Barre563 twice each week, run 4 times with once consisting of an easy shorter run, once tempo, once intervals, and once long.  I am biking 5 days a week with 2 days of intervals and one day of a long ride with some of it at Ironman wattage.  I am also swimming 4 days a week.  I really want to emphasize my training on the bike before Chattanooga and will alternate weeks of 7 days riding with weeks of 5 days.  I started last week with 7 days riding and I put in 340 miles on the bike.  I did one day of hill work and one interval workout of 6x10 minutes where I averaged 287 watts and took 5 minutes easy after each one.  Swimming I went back to the pool to work on my technique.  I was doing some 1 arm drills and playing with the catch phase of my stroke and made a small change that has led me to some faster times.  I'm not getting my hopes terribly high yet but I do like the improvements in my swim intervals that I've seen from that one small change to my stroke.  Saturday I rode 116 miles and at mile 60 I started 2x 1 hour at Ironman wattage effort which for me is 225-230 watts.  I took 1 mile easy after the first hour because I was riding through Eldridge and needed to refill my bottles.  I am working on keeping my effort consistent so I stayed in the 5 watt window for the entire hour never letting my power spike on the hills or drop too much on the down hills.  I'm hoping by Chattanooga to be able to adjust my goal wattage to 235-240 just by being stronger.  Sunday I followed up the long ride with a 15 mile run which was my longest since Ironman.  This week that will bump to 18 and I'm hoping to keep most of them at 20 or more after this upcoming weekend.  My big goal leading to this race is to get myself lean.  This course isn't terribly hilly but there are enough hills on both the ride and run that I would be rewarded for being more lean than I am now.  I gained about 8 lbs. after Challenge Atlantic City.  This past week I dropped from 166 to 165.  I'd like to hope for more than 1 lb. a week with the amount I'm working out.  My total training time was almost 27 hours.  I swam 8,300 yards and ran 35 miles in 4 runs. 

I won't be participating in the DeWitt Crossroads Triathlon which is an event I enjoy doing on August 2 because I'm very determined to get in a lot of long training to be prepared for Chattanooga.  The Crossroads Triathlon is very well run and it is an awesome event for those of you considering your first triathlon.  The swim is only 500 yards in a shallow lake.  The bike course is pretty fast with some rolling hills and the run course is super flat through town in DeWitt.  The link to the race website is  I am planning to have my long ride take me out to the race venue so I can watch some friends do part of it.  It is very well organized by race director Kevin Benes.  This week I will back the bike mileage down to about 220 miles but will try to increase the quality in hopes of letting my body adapt to the big volumes of last week.  I'm dreaming of my best race ever at Ironman Chattanooga and plan to put in the work required to make that happen.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!