Sunday, January 29, 2012

Try Melon Tri Race Report...Week 5 Recap

Week 5 was my best one yet this year. I made it through the first 4 feeling very healthy and my hamstrings which were really tight when I began my training this year have gotten stronger and are feeling better every week. For the week my total training time was 22 hrs. 30 minutes. I had 51 miles running, 170 miles biking, and 15,200 yards swimming. I also did the normal additional exercises and drills along with those totals. I had a great track workout that was extremely tough and fast over at Augustana with their track team on Wednesday. I weighed in a bit early this week and was my lowest of this season at 162 so I have lost a total of 10 lbs. in my 5 weeks of training. On Sunday I went to Muscatine, Iowa for the annual indoor Try Melon Tri race. I have done this race for the past 4 or 5 years I believe and I was planning not to do it this year since I began training so much later in the year. My brother Justin signed up for it and got me thinking about doing it and then my training buddy Adam Bohach signed up and told me if I did it we could go for a run afterwards so I could still get some good training in. I decided to do it and Adam and I put down the same swim seed time so we could race it together. I was not expecting anything good for results and approached it as a hard workout. I even put in my biggest training day of the year on Saturday of 4 hrs. 45 minutes time with 50 bike miles, 7.5 run miles, and 3,500 swim yards. I really surpised myself with a good race on Sunday leaving me confident that I'm way ahead of where I thought I would be only 5 weeks into the young 2012 season.
SWIM: I was hoping to better my swim time from last year of 12:26. The swim is 900 yards in a pool. I have never been a great swimmer but based on results from outdoor races my indoor swimming is even worse than my outdoor swimming. This year I have averaged far more yards/week than ever before but I was still 8 weeks behind where I was last year so I thought any time drop would be a big positive. For the first 300-400 yards I breathed every 3 but as I grew more fatigued I switched and breathed every 2. In my workouts I feel like when I breath only to my left side I have a much better rhythm with my kick and stroke. I almost always train to both sides to even out my stroke and my back muscles but know full well on race day I will not be able to maintain my breathing pattern every 3 so I switch and breath to my left (preferrably). I exited the water in 12:15 and was pretty excited to be faster than last year on so much less overall training.
BIKE: I got on the bike next to Adam. Adam actually had one of the fastest swims in the race at 11:13 but he took his time drying off his back and head while most people brushed themselves with the towel and went to the bikes...that is the only reason I was even remotely close to him as I began the bike ride. The bike portion is on a spin bike and the resistance level is the same for everyone. It was on level 8 which is incredibly easy. They warned us that when your cadence exceeded 140 RPM's the monitor would be blank except the total distance would continue to accumulate. I got into a great rhythm and within about 15 seconds my monitor was off and it didn't come back on the entire ride so I know I stayed above 140 cadence for the duration. The bike is 10 mile (or whatever units they measure...certainly not real miles). I was clicking off the miles in 1 min. 20 seconds so there is no way it is anything like real outdoor miles. When I got to 9.0 I was really surprised no one was off the bike yet since it is easy for everyone to pedal and it's more about how fast you can get your legs moving than how much power you can put into the pedals. I got to 9.5 and still no one was off the bike. I hit 10.0 and was the first one off the bike. Adam was right behind me...3 seconds behind according to one of the spectators. My bike time was around 13:30.
RUN: We hit the legendary indoor 100 meter track with banked turns for 40 laps. My legs felt pretty good from the beginning. My pace early was really fast...something about having a beast like Adam chasing you down does that to you. I went through the mile just under 5:20 and Adam was right behind me. He passed me around mile 20 and slowly pulled away. By the time we were done he was almost lapping me. He finished in around 40:08...I can't remember the exact time. I was 40:25 I think. My run time was 13:28. I was thrilled with that effort. My run time was 10 seconds slower than last year but my swim time was 12 seconds faster. Overall I was about 30 seconds faster than last year. My average run pace was 5:24/mile and I was feeling pretty tired the last half of the run. It was a nice bid of confidence to know that only 5 weeks into training I'm about right where I was 13 weeks into training last year and I'm still about 8 lbs. heavier than I was at that time.
After the race Adam and I got outside for a nice 7 mile run. It has made a big difference for me to train with him. It was one year ago at this event that I met Adam. The highlight of the day for me was watching my friend Aaron Maurer and my brother Justin compete after we got done with our run. Aaron just took up this endurance stuff about a year and a half ago. Today was his first triathlon. He's been working his butt off to prepare for a half-ironman later this summer. Aaron barely knew how to swim 4 months ago but he has been coming to Stacey Zapolski's swim clinic the past 4 months and he has become a very strong swimmer. 6 weeks ago he did his own 900 yard swim to get a seed time and he was 19 minutes. Today he swam the 900 yards in 15:05. I watched his entire swim and was just in awe of how much his stroke efficiency has increased in a short period of time. I saw another guy from our clinic, Brian Garrels after the race and Brian told me he dropped 1 minute 20 seconds from last year. I'm really excited by the gains the clinic attendees have been making. Aaron had a great bike ride keeping his cadence high and then went on to run the 2.5 miles at nearly a 6:30/mile pace!! He finished the race in under 50:00. It is awesome to see him doing this. He writes a great blog about his training that I have linked to my blog. Aaron is a full-time middle school teacher, is married, has 3 kids, coaches junior high basketball, leads his school's lego robotics club (which just placed 1st in the state out of over 300 schools competing), and still manages to work out a lot. He is certainly living Uncommon! Read more about Live Uncommon at and see how you can join the movement to encourage others to live healthy and active lifestyles.
After Aaron I had the privilege of watching my older brother Justin. Justin was a collegiate lineman on the football team at St. Ambrose back in his college days. Last year he began working out a lot and has taken up the sport of triathlon. It is so gratifying for me to watch his improvements. Since January 1st Justin has lost 25 lbs. Today he had a great swim, and then I watched him keep a super high cadence on the bike but what impressed me the most was watching him run. Justin completed the 2.5 miles in under 20 minutes...7:59 mile pace. I told him afterwards I would have been surprised if he could have run one mile under 8:00 a year ago without swimming and biking first. Now he is doing that at the end of a triathlon! A
s you can tell I'm really proud of him. He also has two children, is married, and works more than full-time with all the overtime he puts in as a lieutenant for the Bettendorf Police Department. He is a great example of what Live Uncommon hopes to create in our world.
After increasing my volume for 5 straight weeks I think week 6 is a good time to back things down and have a "rest" week. I have managed to stay healthy which is my #1 goal at this point in time. I've gotten fit much faster than I could have imagined. I still have some weight to lose but need to be careful not to get too greedy with the volume so early. I still have over 4 months until my first real outdoor triathlon. Great job to all the people who went to Muscatine for this event. They do a tremendous job of organizing this and it was fun to see so many people competing and enjoying their winter fitness! Next Sunday Stacey and Tara are hosting the next monthly session of the triathlon swim clinic at Augustana College. It begins at 1:00 at the Augustana pool. They will analyze technique, show drills and give feedback and then give workouts for the month if you want workout guidance. We had 11 last month as the clinic continues to grow and it would be great to see an even bigger crowd this month. The cost for the monthly clinic is $30.00. Let me know if you have any questions and if I can't answer them I'll get you Stacey's contact info. I'll get some pictures from the race posted later this week when I'm not so tired. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 4 Training Summary

What a difference a week makes. Last week I was really struggling with motivation, being sick, and a super busy schedule outside of work and training. This week was much more back to normal. I had a total of 21 hours training time. I ran 46 miles, biked 135, and swam 17,600 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, did lunges, speed drills, jump rope, and push-ups all three times, and core work 11 times. On Wednesday I went to Augustana to work out with my alma mater. I was pretty scared for this workout. I've gone there in the winter the past few years but I've always been much later into my training and in better shape to do these workouts. I decided to go because of the energy that surrounds the track and field program at Augustana. It's pretty contagious and I knew it would be good for me to get my butt kicked into shape a bit. The workout went much better than I expected. We warmed up 4.5 miles and then ran 1x 1.25 miles alternating every 200 meters between 35 seconds (4:40/mile pace) and 45 (6:00 mile pace). It was tough changing gears down to 4:40 pace but I managed to hit the 1.25 miles almost dead on. Then we had 2 minutes rest before doing 2x 600 meters at 1:45 (4:40 pace) with 1 minute rest. Those were both tough since it has been awhile since I've run that fast. I ran 1:45 and 1:46. Then we finished with 4x600 meters at 5:00 pace (1:53). I struggled on the first two because I was shot from the fast 600's. I was 1:56, and 1:55 but then bounced back for a 1:53 and a 1:52. The workout was a great confidence builder and made me realize that sometimes attempting something you think will be "impossible" will make you realize how much you are really capable of. This weekend I got together with Adam Bohach for another great training weekend. Saturday we rode 1 hr. 50 minutes and then did an hour run off the bike that was at a pretty quick pace. I could really tell that my running has gotten much better over the past 4 weeks. Adam just got his professional card in the sport of triathlon making it 6 of us (guys) from Iowa. He finished 2011 ranked #1 in the USA as an amateur in the 25-29 age group!!! I'm looking forward to having a great training partner around and we hope to push each other to our best finishes ever this summer.
After my frustrations of week 3 and then not losing any weight this week I decided to look back at my last 4 years of training (counting this year) to see how my first 4 weeks compared. I'm way ahead of the past 3 years first 4 weeks. I have averaged 20,500 swim yards/week compared to a previous best of 13,500 through the first 4 weeks. My bike average is 115 miles/week and I had not previously averaged over 100 in the first 4 weeks. My run average this year is 38 miles/week and that ties for what I averaged last year through 4 weeks. As for my weight (which I was most frustrated with) I have lost 8 lbs. in the first 4 weeks which is tied for the most I lost over the first 4. All this tells me I have nothing to worry about. Although the 4 weeks comes much later this year I'm not racing in 2012 until later either so I have plenty of time to get into peak fitness. I've found from previous years I don't lose as much weight early on because I am adding muscle to my frame which offsets the fat I'm losing. I hope the goals you are working toward in 2012 are going well. Keep plugging away even when it seems you are not making progress...sometimes I think getting through those weeks are what makes you toughest in the end. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, January 16, 2012

"It's Not Always Easy"

"It's not always easy." This is something my daughter Payton has become used to saying after she tells me the 3 things I want her to remember every night when I tuck her in. Those three things are "Dream Big", "Be a hard worker", and "Be nice to everybody". After she tells me those she says, "It's not always easy"...something I used to say to her when explaining that working hard and being nice to people isn't always easy. I was reminded of that this tough it is to stay committed to my goals. Most weeks when I get on here and post my weekly update on training everything went as expected...I get used to feeling like I'm invincible in training. Week 3 was a big challenge for me. Tuesday I got called at school to pick up Owen from daycare as he was "projectile vomiting"...quoting the words of our daycare provider. Wednesday Jen's dad stayed at our house to watch him but I didn't feel like I would win any father of the year awards leaving him here while I went and worked out after school so I just came home. I was coming off a bike interval workout Tuesday night when my power numbers were really low and I was just feeling very tired. Thursday I drove Jen to Cedar Rapids so she could have lasic eye surgery and when we got back there was a pretty big snowfall so I spent my time shoveling instead of driving through the terrible road conditions to get to the pool. My lack of motivation had left me with only 1,600 swim yards for the week going into Friday. I was able to pick it up and hit my swim goal of 15,000 yards for the week and I got my long run in Sunday morning to get to my 40 mile run goal. All I needed was 45 minutes of riding on Sunday night to get my bike goal but I could think of nothing more that I wanted to do than lay my head on my pillow and go to bed. I did just that, opting to skip my last bike ride of the week for a 9:00 bed time. I slept for 10 hours and still woke up tired on Monday. I don't know if I've got my own sickness or if I'm just tired but for some reason I'm finding motivation much more difficult than normal. Throughout the past 3 years I've had some days when I was unmotivated. Mostly it is a sign that I'm getting run down and I need to get more sleep. How well I am rested seems to be my number one factor for motivation. When I'm well rested I feel like training 4-5 hours in a day. When I'm tired it is difficult to do even the shortest of workouts. I don't build rest days into my training program. I build easy days in but for the most part I train every day until I feel like my body is telling me I need a day off. Today was a short day of training with only 1 hr. 30 minutes of workout time. My hope is that I will wake up tomorrow more rested and the motivation will be back. I knew I needed to post this to let anyone who follows this journey know that it's not always easy. There are times when I would rather go to bed than work out. My struggle this year seems to be a little bit greater because I started the training year late due to racing late into the season. I'm nowhere near the shape I was in last year mid-January. When I compare myself to where I was in week 3 last year however I'm way ahead of the game. I keep reminding myself that I don't have any races I care about until June and I don't have a pro race until July and that keeps me from panicking. For the week my total training time was 18 hours. I ran 40 miles, swam 15,000 yards, and biked 105 miles. I also lifted weights 3 times and did all the usual strides, jump rope, lunges, and core work that I normally do in a week. I keep staring at my pro license renewal form which sits on the counter and wondering if this motivation will return. I'm sure it will but I need to find it before I send that back in. I have one more week of conservative base building before I will start planning some really big weeks of training. I'd like to be in really good shape by March but still feel a ways away. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 2 Training Summary

The toughest part of getting in shape is always the first few weeks. For me it's primarily the first 10 days. I think staying consistent in working out every day makes the process faster. If you are just beginning the journey to get in shape stick with it. It will come. I know from previous experience that it always takes me a couple weeks before things start clicking and this year has been no different. I can promise you if you stick with a routine and are consistent in working out every day it will come...guaranteed! I began to feel much more in shape this week. I can feel my body changing already. I weighed in at 165 lbs. this morning. 2 weeks ago I was 172 lbs. My younger brother Josh has done an awesome job of arranging a weight loss competition that 22 people have entered in. It's a great way to keep people motivated to eat healthy and exercise regularly for the next 13 weeks with a goal that they will make the changes permanent. I did my official 1st weigh in for this first competition on New Year's Eve after a HUGE dinner with Jen and friends. I came home feeling overly stuffed and knew this would be my peak weight for the year and I was right...179. For the week my total training time was 24 hours. I spent the majority of my time in the pool swimming 24,600 yards during the week. I increased my bike and run mileage over last week to 130 miles and 36 miles respectively. I also lifted weights three times, did speed drills, strides, lunges, jump rope, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work nine times. Getting in good running shape has been the toughest part probably because my mileage is still much lower than it will be later in the year. I'm being careful with how quickly I increase that component. I did do some 7x2 minute intervals hard with a 1 minute easy period between each on Wednesday just to get the legs going again and I did my tempo run this week of 3 miles in 17:42. My best training day came on Saturday when I swam 4,800 yards with our high school team in the morning and then got together with my training buddy Adam Bohach for the first time this year. We rode our bikes outside...yes...outside in January in Iowa! I don't recall having ever done that but the temperature was about 35 degrees and it was great riding with Adam again. We went for 1 hr. 40 minutes and then got off the bike and ran 6 miles. Running with Adam is always tough for me because he is a tremendous runner. He is in awesome shape already. I'm really excited to be able to train with Adam this year and watch him build on the success he had last year culminating with his great race in Kona. His best races are yet to come. He has run a 2 hr. 26 minute open marathon and he is so tough I think he will close out an Ironman in 2:4x something this year. This week will be a little tougher since it will be my first week back training with a full work week. I have not used a couple of my training times yet in the first couple morning rides and prep period runs. As I increase the volume I will take advantage of those times to get extra work in. I'm excited that my wife Jen is beginning to run again and her achilles tendon seems to be making great progress. She battled through it last year and took a long break to let it heal. It still isn't great but the progress she's making has me excited to watch her race again! It was great to see 10 people besides myself at Stacey and Tara's swim clinic on Sunday. I love watching these people improve at each monthly clinic. I'm amazed by the progress I've seen. It's really cool to watch people work hard towards their goals and begin to realize the goals they once thought were impossible are anything but that! Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Swim Clinic Time Change

I had my time wrong for this Sunday's swim clinic. The clinic is on Sunday at Augustana College from 12:30-1:30. They will review previous clinic drills and then review new drills and analyze technique improvements/areas of need. The attendees will be given new workouts to do if they are looking for structured workouts to complete in the month before the February clinic. The cost of the monthly clinic is $30.00. I'll be there and I hope to see some new attendees. These technique sessions have really helped me. Stacey and Tara do a great job of pointing out the biggest areas of my stroke that need work. If you have fins, bring them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week 1 Training Summary

Week 1 training for the 2012 triathlon season is in the books. It began on Midnight last Monday morning. It was a tough week as I expected after taking my longest complete training break in nearly 3 years. I was sore from my first run of only 4.5 miles and the soreness pretty much stuck with me through the end of the week. For the week my total training time was 21 hrs. 15 minutes which is higher than I would normally ever do in my first week back but it was because I wasn't working this week and I took advantage of the extra time I had. I stay very strict to my running goals because of the 3 disciplines in triathlon the run is the one with the biggest risk of injury. I planned to run 30 miles and that is exactly what I hit with 5 days of running. My "long" run is currently at 8 miles. I will slowly build that through the winter and spring and hope to be at about 15-16 miles by the time June rolls around. My only Ironman of the year isn't until next November so I won't put in the serious long runs until the summer. I biked 90 miles this week in 5 rides. I probably could have gone over that but I want to allow myself to gradually increase that total as well over the next few months. I spent almost all of my extra time in the pool. I swam 25,800 yards this week which I think was my highest week since the one year in college when I joined the swim team at Augustana due to an injury that was keeping me from running indoor track that year. I swam 5 days with 4 of them being with our high school team. I love swimming with those kids. It is nice to have a group to swim with since 90% of my swims are alone once their season ends. I felt like I got much stronger through the week in the pool. On Friday we did a Lactate set of 5x 100's on 5:00 so the rest was high but the swims were designed to hold your best other words they were very painful. We did a very similar set last year about 6 weeks into my training and I averaged 1 min. 10 seconds for each one. This year I averaged 1 minute 6 seconds for each one. I feel like every year my swimming has improved with last year being my biggest improvements after I began working witih Stacey Zapolski. She did a great job of helping me with my technique. Next Sunday Stacey is hosting the next clinic at the Augustana College pool from 11:30-12:30. The clinic sessions meet every month. I went last month and found it very beneficial. The cost is $30.00 for the monthly session. Most of the swimmers were relatively new to triathlons. Stacey and her friend Tara are both at the session to give technique feedback to all the swimmers. They show drills you can do to help fix technical errors in your swim stroke. Anyone is welcome to attend. They also gave out a list of workouts for the swimmers to do during the month in case they were looking for some guidance on what to do for swim workouts. The feedback I got from the people who have been going to the clinic was great. It is fun watching them improve. Let me know if you want more details and I can get you Stacey's e-mail address. The biggest thing they emphasized to me last month was that my kick was not smooth and I actually swing one leg out wide when I breath. This disrupts the rhythm of my stroke and creates more drag in the water when that leg sticks out too far. I have been concentrating on that aspect since last month's clinic and although it is not completely fixed I hope they can tell I've made progress next week when I get my stroke feedback from Stacey and Tara. Improving my swim is one of my biggest goals of the 2012 season. In my first year competing professionally the biggest thing I learned is that the swim is more important than just the time. If I can't get out of the water with some other strong riders it makes the bike ride much tougher because I'm by myself. One of my training goals is to increase my average swim yards per week to 15,000 yards. That includes all my race weeks, taper weeks, and rest weeks. Last year my average swim total throughout the entire season was 12,400 yards.
In addition to the swimming, biking, and running this week I also was back in the weight room lifting three times, did speed drills, strides, lunges, jump rope, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work 12 times. I also started eating healthy which is tough around the holidays. I was able to go 6 days of junk free eating and had one day where I couldn't resist the temptations. I went with my older brother Justin to the YMCA pool on Thursday and watched him swim with his new Xterra Vector Pro wetsuit. Justin got this suit at a discounted rate of 63% off by using my discount code of SA-JPAUL. I had him swim 10x 50 yards on 1:15 Tuesday without the suit and then we did the same set on Thursday with the suit on. I was amazed by how much time he dropped. He averaged swimming the 50's in 51 seconds on Tuesday without the suit. On Thursday in his new Vector Pro suit he averaged 41.5 seconds. That's a crazy amount of time to drop with the suit on. It shows that even in a sprint distance race it is more beneficial for almost everyone to be in a wetsuit unless the swimmer already swims with near perfect technique without the suit. I'm excited to watch him improve in his 2nd year competing in triathlons. As for myself, I still feel very out of shape. Running is by far the discipline I notice it most probably because I weigh more than I have in quite some time. I know that will get easier soon especially as I drop weight. Right now I don't feel like I am running with any kind of rhythm. When I'm in shape mileage runs are effortless...not right now. Every step is uncomfortable. Typically I start feeling better after 10 days of training so that should be the middle of this week. This week I'm planning to add about 5 miles to my weekly run total, 10 miles to my bike total, and my swim yards will be cut down some since I go back to work on Wednesday. As the new year begins I hope all of you have put some thought into your fitness goals for the year. If you need some motivation to stay active through the new year check out all the great fitness stories of people like yourself at I'm super excited for the Revolution to take effect in year 2 of Live Uncommon. Set high goals for yourself this year and work like crazy to achieve them. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!