Monday, July 30, 2012

Bix Week Summary

On Monday I got back to training although I did not train nearly as much this week as I had been before my week off.  I put an emphasis on quality bike miles.  I had a good interval workout on Monday and then did a tough hill interval workout on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I ran for the first time since Racine.  I did 4x1200 meters with a 400 meter jog between each.  They were tough running at 5:25/mile pace and combined with plyometrics and weight lifting it left me VERY sore on Thursday.  I opted not to race the Brady Sprint Challenge 400 meter hill competition.  I decided on sore legs this was a pulled muscle waiting to happen and with the possibility of more races this year I didn't want to risk that.  The highlight of the week for me was on Saturday with the Running of the Quad City Times Bix 7 road race.  My plan had always been to run with Super Mom who placed 14th overall in the female race a year ago.  Last year she ran a huge Bix pr of 41:52 and I knew she was in much better shape going into the race this year.  I was actually quite worried that following my week off and soreness that I wasn't going to be able to stay with her.  I am nearly 20 lbs. heavier than I was early in the season and I knew that additional weight may leave me struggling to hang onto Jen's pace.  I did my best to get a good stretch in Friday night to try to deal with the soreness of my quads.  On Saturday we began with the first mile in 6:15.  This was about 10 seconds faster than last year.  The first mile includes the big Brady Street hill and it is always the slowest mile of the course.  The next mile is a long gradual downhill and we ran it in 5:13 to come through 2 miles in 11:28.  We then ran about 5:50 on mile 3 and at the turnaround Jen was in 16th place.  The women's field had more elite runners this year than last.  She stayed in 16th the entire way back.  We hit the 1/2 way point in 20:00 flat and I started thinking she may be able to break 40:00 but I could tell we were slowing on the way back.  The first half of the race was about as fast as I would have gone on my own.  On the way back I was holding back and it began to feel pretty easy.  She finished in 40:43 which was a huge PR on the course and she finished as the top QC female finisher.  The top local male finisher was a guy named Charlie Paul (no relation) that I coached in high school and junior high.  Charlie is a pretty incredible and inspiring story for me.  In junior high he struggled to run under 7:00 for a mile.  In high school his work ethic was outstanding and his progress was remarkable.  His senior year he missed almost the entire track season with a stress fracture in his hip.  He came back with only about 4 track meets remaining and he ended up passing 6 runners in the final lap of the 2 mile at the state meet and finished 3rd place.  We told college coaches he had a huge upside.  There was really no end in site of his improvement.  He walked on at Iowa State and last year made their top 7 in cross country.  He has run in some huge track meets all over the country and ran the Bix in 36:11 on Saturday in what he said felt easier than any Bix he's ever run.  It's been amazing for me to watch his improvements and reminds me of what can happen when you DREAM BIG and work for those dreams like there's no tomorrow. 
The Bix left me more sore than I've been all year.  The relentless downhills absolutely trashed my quads and yesterday every step was painful.  I did manage to get in 211 bike miles last week.  Today my good friend Adam Bohach came back in town and we rode 72 miles together.  It was great being back training with Adam.  He is in incredible shape and I have no doubts he will earn his professional triathlon card at a 1/2 Ironman distance race in the Wisconsin Dells next weekend.  I'm at a bit of a crossroads right now trying to figure out if I want to put in the work and dedicate my eating habits to getting back into great shape.  Part of me wants to do it and race some big races in September and October and part of me wants to go tailgate at Iowa games, go socialize with friends, eat unhealthy and just live normal for awhile.  Being that I'm at a crossroads I thought it was a good time to race the event known as the Crossroads Triathlon in DeWitt, Iowa on Saturday to test my fitness and find out how much work I need to do in the upcoming weeks.  The race is on Saturday at 8:00 am and it's only 20 minutes from the QC so it would be great to see a lot of locals supporting this race.  I enjoy seeing races in the area do well.  You can sign up at or at Healthy Habits on Thursday night.  I hope to see a good crowd there next Saturday.  The race is a 500 yard swim, 15 mile bike, and a 5k run through the town of DeWitt.  This week I'll attempt to stay focused and get in some good quality training although I'm not planning to swim a lot for quite some time.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week off summary...

Last week I took the entire week off training.  It was great.  I ate all the terrible foods I pass on  throughout much of the year.  The only training I did was a 15 minute bike ride...yes, minutes.  I did that on Thursday to loosen my legs up for a 1/4 mile sprint up Brady Street hill.  They lowered the Master's age division to 30 and up this year for the Brady Street sprint so I decided I would take a crack at it.  I knew my legs were like logs after not doing anything for 3 days so I rode the bike 15 minutes and then warmed up 1 mile before running the 1/4 mile sprint and then doing a 1/4 mile cool down.  That put my weekly training at about 30 minutes with 5 miles biking and 1.5 miles of running.  It was great relaxing every day, spending more time with the kids and Jen.  The 1/4 mile sprint is WAY out of my element.  I was reminded that I have about no top end speed.  I qualified 2nd in the heat of 12 runners on Thursday and they take the top 5 to the finals which will be televised live locally this Thursday night.  I'm not even  sure what time it starts...maybe 6 or 7.  I was in about 8th place 50 meters in and had already given up a huge lead to the leaders.  Some of the guys ahead of me dropped out and one pulled up with an injury close to the top of the hill.  My time maybe wouldn't have even qualifed last week when it took about 75 seconds to make the final.  I was 76 seconds I think.  The men's master's race had a lot of runners both weeks so it should be a full field of 10 on Thursday.  I'm hoping with a little training this week my legs have a bit more snap in them.  I felt terribly flat and couldn't get into a sprint mode...perhaps I only have one Ironman slow speed these days?? 
Today I woke up excited to get back to training.  I have put together a training plan that is quite a bit less total volume than earlier in the year.  The focus is on more quality workouts and in the pool I'm really cutting back my yards.  It was beyond frustrating to put in 29 weeks of way more swim yards than I ever have only to see minimal gains.  I'm going to find out if I can swim nearly as fast with 1/2 the time committment in the water but focus almost entirely on technique.  I'm going to run the Bix with Jen this weekend but she may drop me like a bad habit if my fitness does not come around quickly.  In my week off I went from 155 lbs. to 163.  That wasn't nearly as bad as I expected because I weighed in on Friday just to check in and I was 167.  Just lifting weights today I could tell my heart rate was higher than it normally gets on a bike interval workout.  I have one of those later today and I'm excited to find out how high my heart rate will get with rested legs and an out of shape aerobic system.  Super Mom won another race this past weekend.  She won 2 races last weekend and this weekend set a course record for a tough 4 mile course with some of it on gravel roads.  She ran 23:40 and picked up another paycheck.  They pay out to 3 this week for the sprint finals up Brady Street.  I think I'm seeded 7th but if I snuck into the top 3 I already decided I'm going to donate it to members of the Live Uncommon race team because this race is certainly something Uncommon for me.  As for a return to triathlon racing I will see how the next couple weeks of training goes and then start to fill out the schedule.  I've got a long list of possibilities that includes Pigman Longcourse, Ironman Steelhead 70.3, Great Illini Challenge 1/2 Ironman, Rev 3 Full...and a couple other smaller races I'm considering.  I'll know more as I find out what kind of shape I have in a couple weeks.  It feels good to be back on a regular training program although the break was physically and mentally refreshing.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Time for some R&R...&R

My race in Racine, Wisconsin this past weekend was a complete disaster.  It's time for me to take some rest, relaxation, and recovery.  In this week's blog entry I will write a little about what happened in Racine but I will also do something different than ever before by adding in what I was thinking during the race.  My "in-race" thoughts will be in italics. 

I lined up for the swim start with 17 pros in the field.  I need to find Patrick Evoe...the Little Caesar's guy.  He was 3rd here last year and is a weak swimmer like myself but always claws his way towards the front of the race by the finish.  If I can exit the water with him I believe I have a chance to hang with him on the bike and then run my way to a high finish.  When the cannon fired we began by running through some shallow water and then a few dolphin dives in I was swimming full-out like most of the pro races begin for me in the swim.  I had Patrick Evoe to my right and knew he was the only guy in a TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit so I would mark that suit and stay with him.  It was about 250 meters to the first turn bouy and I was right next to him as we made the turn.  I'm right where I need to be.  Stay on his hip.  The hip is the best place for me to draft.  I'll get ot see him every time I breath.  Stay there...don't let him go.  He is your ticket to a great race.  100 yards later I was on the hip of Patrick Evoe with a few pro guys behind us and the lead group forming up ahead clear of us now.  400 yards in.  This is easier than I thought.  I'm completely relaxed and right where I need to be.  I'm going to be there on his side when we exit.  This is so easy maybe I'll pull ahead of him before we get out of the water to make sure I get through transition before he does so I don't lose contact in transition.  I can't believe how comfortable this feels.  About 800 yards in I was still right on his hip.  I felt like he was getting tired of having me around and started to put in a surge.  I dropped to his feet.  No problem...the feet may be easier to draft off.  Crap, the bubbles from his feet seem to be going side to side.  I was having to lift my head much more than I did before to make sure I was swimming right behind him.  I knew I needed to get back on his hip or I was going to lose him because I wasn't swimming very straight.  Crap, I can't get back on his hip.  He's pulling away.  Swim harder damnit.  I can do this!  What is going on.  This was completely cake about 2 minutes ago and now I'm red-lining to find him.  I got dropped 1/2 way through the swim.  As I tried to push on and stay in a good rhythm I could tell he was slowly getting further and further ahead of me.  As I rounded the last turn bouey he was quite a ways up on me but there was another swimmer going by me.  Get on his feet.  Maybe he's a good rider.  You need to get with a good rider out of the water.  Get on his feet.  Damnit he's too fast.  I can't hang on to him.  Another blown chance.  We got to where the water was too shallow to swim and I stood up and started running in the knee deep water which was difficult.  It felt like I was in quick sand not going anywhere.  I tried dolphin diving but it was a little too shallow for that.  I would have to wade my way to shore.  I saw the clock at 28:10 but by the time I hit the timing mat and exited the water I was at 29:00.  God dangit that's barely faster than I swam last year.  I have put in thousands upon thousands more swim yards.  How am I barely faster than a year ago.  My workouts have been much more difficult and the long workouts have been way longer.  How many extra hours did I spend on my swim this year for what...20 seconds?  This is a waste. 
BIKE:  I began the bike portion and could see the guy who got out of the water about 30 seconds before me.  He was a long way up the road but at least I could see him.  I wanted to average about 25 mph and set my computer to average speed.  Pedal hard.  Bring that guy back.  Close the gap.  Watch out for those bumps!!  I nearly lost my special calorie bottle on some big bumps early on.  My buddy Zeb who came up from Chicago to watch gave me a time split to Little Caesar's guy at 65 seconds.  I doubted I would see him on the bike.  He's a great rider.  I felt like we were riding into a slight headwind going out and I also knew although the course is relatively flat the first 1/2 of it gains a few hundred feet in elevation while the second half loses those feet so it should be faster.  I knew if I could hold upper 24's mph the first half I could average 25 which is right about where I was last year.  I was losing ground on the guy ahead of me.  My average speed was only 23.8 and it was not getting any easier when we turned to ride west.  Why am I riding so poorly lately.  I've done a ton of work on the bike and thought I would be stronger than ever at this point.  This needs to get better.  At about mile 10 I was presented with the best possible gift I could ever have in a pro race.  One of the best riders in the field had been off the side of the road with a flat tire and he was just about to get back on the road when I went by.  I knew getting on with him would be the ticket I needed and could bring me to a great race.  I was ready when he went by.  Here we go.  How much more lucky can I get than this.  This guy is flying and I get to ride behind him.  Stay back a little more than 1 hash mark.  The officials who give us the drafting talk at the pro meetings always tell us to use the hash marks in the road as our reference point for drafting.  If we stay back a full hash mark we are good.  If we get any closer than 1 hash mark we must make a pass or be called for drafting.  I was would get to 1 hash mark and then he would open it up to 2 and I would work like crazy to bring it back to 1.  Stay with him.  We are flying.  My average pace is going up quickly and we are gaining on riders ahead.  This is not easy.  I don't know how long I can continue at this effort.  I'm completely red-lining with over 35 miles to go.  We passed Daniel Bretscher who was off the road with a flat.  I knew that was terrible luck for him.  He's racing incredibly well right now and I think he would have finished top 3 in Racine if not for the flat.  Either way that moved me up one more spot and we were just catching another rider.  We overshot a right hand turn and when we got turned around to go back on course I lost contact.  I worked as hard as I could to try to bring the 2 riders back.  I didn't have the power.  Are you kidding me?  I just had the most incredible opportunity I've ever had in a race and I'm not strong enough to stay with them for more than 7 miles?  What is wrong with me.  Why am I biking so bad this year?  I do not belong in the pro races right now.  I can't even compete when I get presented with the gift of a lifetime.  I'm going to be riding alone for the remainder of the race and get off the bike way out of it again.  I don't want to be here any more.  I don't want to do this any more.  This is not fun.  I just put in over 85 hours of training in 3 weeks so I could come here and get my butt kicked.  Why do I drop my kids off at daycare in the summer and go train when I get killed like this in races.  I'm a terrible dad.  I want to see my kids.  I want to get off this bike and go home and not train for a long time.  My piriformus back hurts...and I'm out of the race.  I need a break from this whole thing.  I need to step away for awhile and let my mind get right and let my body rest.  Obviously with this mindset there is no chance to race well.  I completely lost it mentally.  All my motivation to race was gone and I just wanted to get off the bike, watch my friends finish, and get home.  I wanted to see my kids and give them a hug.  I began to question why I was racing in the pro field when I could be racing as an amateur having fun passing people or at the very least riding next to people when now I would have to face 35 miles of solo riding.  I sat up on the bike and just rode.  I didn't ride hard but still everything hurt with this mindset.  I kept looking back and waiting to get passed by people and wondered why no one was coming.  When I hit the 25 mile sign I couldn't believe I still had 31 miles to go.  56 miles goes by so quickly when your mind is in the race but when all you want to do is get off the bike it feels like an eternity.  I stopped at about mile 35 or 40 to get off the bike to stretch my back and piriformus.  I did not feel comfortable at all on the bike.  I stopped at aid stations to take bottles from a standing position to make sure I didn't run any volunteers over.  I stood there and drank a bottle and took another.  The remainder of the ride I had an internal struggle to decide if I wanted to run or not when I got off the bike.  I don't feel like running.  I want to start my break away from anything to do with this sport except be a spectator.  And later...I need to suffer my way through this run.  If this is the last pro race I ever do I don't want it to end in a DNF.  I need to put my shoes on and if I have to walk the entire thing so be it.  And then...No, you don't have anything to prove to people.  If you don't feel like running then don't run.  Just hand them your chip and put this race behind you.  Just get to the end of this bike ride and the break can begin.  That was what I was ready to do.  I actually almost stopped to ask a group of 5 police officers if they could help me get my keys out of my car that I had locked in it before the race.  They were standing about a mile from the bike finish and looked bored so I thought they could help me but as I was watching them I nearly crashed when I got my front wheel in a crack so I decided I just needed to get off the bike and then worry about my keys. 
RUN?: I got into transiton and took my chip off.  I racked my bike and was prepared to take a DNF but standing at my bike rack waiting was friend and co-worker Amanda Maurer who was in Racine to watch her husband Aaron finish his first 1/2 Ironman.  I told Amanda I wasn't going to run...I had experienced a complete mental breakdown and I was ready for a break from triathlon.  She said, "Put your shoes on and go run.  You are not quitting."  I tried to convince her that I should not be running and she let me have it.  She reminded me about students that I have in class...students that I refuse to let quit on homework assignments, class projects...etc.  The other spectators around her started chiming in that I should go run.  AHHHHHH!!!!  I don't want to do this but you are right.  I need to get out there and just make it to the finish.  I found my transition bag and decided to put socks on to make sure I wouldn't get any blisters.  This was probably a big mistake because I've never worn these racing flats with socks on and having them on for the first time is probably what caused me to get a huge blister that hurt badly the last 4 miles of the run.  I pulled down my Kiwami Konami jersey and put on a bright Live Uncommon running jersey knowing it would soak up the water I dumped on my head at all the aid stations a little better.  I threw on the Garmin and headed out to run not really knowing how it would go.  I just wanted to run comfortable.  I didn't want any more pain.  The first mile and half went fine running along at 6:25 pace but then I started getting some pretty intense pain in my upper torso when I took in breaths.  I stopped and walked a bit and tried to put my hands over my head and stretch out my diaphram.  At the next aid station I stopped and searched for some food.  I took some cola, ate an orange, drank some Perform, drank some water, had 1 potato chip and then dumped some ice down my pants and took off running again.  I ran relaxed at about 6:30 pace for the remainder of the first loop.  I got some encouragement from pro triathlete Andrew Starykowicz who was in Racine to watch.  If I thought I was having a bad day I only had to see Andrew on the side of the road to remember what a bad day really was.  If you want to hear about his crazy experience with terrible luck involving a bike crash, jail time, and being stuck overseas for nearly a month read his blog which I have linked from mine.  He gave me some positive encouragement which really helped and told me to just enjoy the run.  I did that for the rest of the run minus the blister that had formed on my foot and caused pain with every step of the right foot.  I went through the first loop feeling fine and I knew my friend and fellow QCer Jessica Imm was not far into the run course on her first loop.  I asked Matt Davison how far up she was and he told me she just left on the run course.  I said I would go catch her and run with her.  I took off running 5:40/mile pace and I could not find her.  It took me about 2.5 miles and I was glad I finally saw her because I was running out of gas.  She had an incredible race.  She told me she averaged about 22 mph on the bike and I knew she was running well because while I was running with her all we did was pass people.  There were maybe 3 guys who went by us but she was rolling by people at a very steady pace.  I ran with her until about mile 11 and then told her I needed to get finished before this blister broke open so I took off at a faster pace and finished the race. 
It was great seeing so many locals finish.  The conditions with the heat made it a brutal day especially for the people who started later in the morning.  I saw locals Seth Long (med tent), Jay Gates, Teresa Perisho, John Thompson, Josh Lederman, Jessica Imm, and Aaron Maurer (med tent) all finish the race.  I'm probably forgetting a couple other locals as well.  Jessica finished as the top female amateur in the entire race beating some of the women's pro field with an incredible performance.  I'm really excited for how fit she is as she gets ready for Ironman Wisconsin in September.  It's going to be a great day for her.  As for me I was just glad to get home and see my family.  I talked to Adam Bohach on the phone and he gave me some great insight on my much needed break.  I'm going to take at least 1 week completely off...maybe longer.  I want to get out of shape.  That is my only goal right now.  Eat whatever I want for a few days, put on some weight, get out of shape, get the fire back, and then come back and train hard.  I wans't sure I wanted to race again this year but that idea is already out the window.  I'm sure I do.  I have a few new ideas for training the 2nd half of the 2012 season.  I should have taken this break earlier in the year.  I've gone 29 weeks with 3 days off training.  In hindsight it wasn't enough.  I saw it coming.  My bike times have gotten progressively worse every race despite training harder and training more for each one thinking I wasn't working hard enough.  I learned a good lesson about the value of rest.  The athletes I'm coaching right now area all racing incredibly a coach I know the importance of rest but my athlete self ignored the same advice I give as a coach.  I'm probably lucky to have won 3 races already this year with the direction I was going with my training.  I've had a lot of people call to make sure I am okay...remember this is my hobby.  I do it because it's fun, not because I have to.  I know to put things in perspective.  Although it means a lot to me at the end of the day it's just a's the same thing my kids do up and down the hall almost every day.  More important than any medal, title, or ranking at the end of the day is the process of getting myself physically fit and healthy.  I went a little overboard with that but I'm much more fit now than when I got into this craziness three years ago.  I'm still a gambler and believe sometimes you risk big to win big.  I lost this recent gamble but I know all the training I did will pay off when I rest and allow my body to adapt to it.  What I don't know is how long that will take.  Thanks for reading and understanding that things don't always go the way you hope.  DREAM BIG!!  I will be back.  Branson and Arizona are on the schedule and on my mind as I type this...but for now getting out of shape is the most important thing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week 28 Training Summary...end of 3 week block

On Sunday night I ended a big 3 week block of training that I began the day after the QC Triathlon.  This past week was the biggest of the 3 weeks and my biggest week of training to date in 2012.  For the week I biked 313 miles, ran 60 miles, and swam 21,000 yards.  I also lifted weights did speed drills, strides, core work, lunges, plymetrics, and jumped rope.  In total the week was 31.5 hours of training.  Over the 3 weeks I put in averages of about 250 bike miles, 21,000 yards swimming, and 61 miles running.  Now the key is to rest.  I hope to allow my body to adapt to all this training by resting this week.  I laid out the weekly training plan and Monday thru Saturday totals only 8 hours.  2 of the days are complete rest days.  I've only had 3 of those over the last 28 weeks and when I took a day off a few weeks back I felt incredible the following day so I'm banking on the rest helping a lot.  My plan for the race is to swim really hard to try to hang with some of the other guys so I have the possibility of riding with some good riders.  I know I'm in good run shape and I think I'm capable of running under 1 hr. 16 minutes on this run course if we get a day that isn't too warm. 
I've been enjoying swimming with our high school swim camp on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It's been between 6,000 and 7,000 yards with them each time.  I also did a 5 mile tempo run in the 4th of July 10k this past week.  I ran just under 5:50/mile pace through mile 5 before backing off the last 1.2 miles.  I was planning to tempo the entire 10k but the heat was brutal as it has been the past 3 weeks during this training block.  When my pace began to slow I decided to call it at mile 5.  Jen not only won the women's 5k but she also set the event record which was utterly impressive considering the heat index was already over 90 degrees when we were running.  The race director specifically reminded people to take it easy with the temperatures soaring and he said it was not a day when any records would be broken.  Super Mom proved him wrong by setting the 5k record by 13 seconds en route to running 17:29.  She is in incredible shape right now.  I'm hinting to her that I think she could be a contender to place in the top 3 at the QC Marathon in September if she gains the confidence she can run well at that distance.  Her mileage has been higher than ever this year and she is doing a weekly long run which she never used to do.  I think 2 hrs. 55 minutes is a real possibility.  Currently, she insists on sticking with the 1/2 marathon.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Week 27 Training Summary

Week 27 was the middle week of a big 3 week block of training I am putting in prior to a one week taper I will put into effect in an effort to race my best at Ironman Racine 70.3 on July 15th.  The week was not quite as big as I had hoped for mainly due to the aweful heat we've had here in the midwest lately.  I think the heat has actually been terrible all over the US lately.  I hit my swim goal by putting in 21,800 yards and also hit my run goal but logging 60 miles.  I came up short on my bike goal by riding only 180 miles last week.  I was hoping to hit 250 miles but the heat kept me from doing a long ride outside this weekend.  I was glad to get 180 miles on only 4 days of riding and they were all quality.  3 of the rides were tough interval sessions and the 4th ride was our weekly QC group ride which is always a good effort.  My total training time for the week was 25.5 hours.  I'll be spending more time on the bike this week regardless of how hot it is.  If I must ride indoors on the trainer I'll get the work done there.  I actually really enjoy riding on the trainer.  I have a great one, the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro which allows me to program in my wattage and adjust it with the click of a remote so it is very easy to simulate outdoor riding wattages and workouts when I'm doing intervals.  If I want to keep the effort low at a base effort I'm also able to easily do that to make sure I don't ride too hard.  When riding on the trainer I never have to worry about cars coming too close to me, bird attacks, drivers who are texting...etc. 
I've begun to feel the increased fitness with this recent block of training.  I've noticed that I'm recovering very quickly from 5 hour training days and I'm able to put 3 or 4 of those in a row without feeling too tired or fatigued.  That is a good sign for me that my Ironman fitness is coming along without doing any 100 mile rides or 20 mile long runs.  Last year I did 12 century rides...this year my longest ride has only been 80 miles.  I'm not worried about missing those because the cumulative volume of training has been higher this year.  I just checked in on where I am now vs. the end of last year.  I'm averaging 165 miles/week on the bike through the 1st 27 weeks while last year the year end total was 158.  My running is just slightly higher by about 1 mile/week but the real jump has been in my swim training.  While I averaged 13,000 yards a week in the water last year I'm at 17,000 this year.  I have done 4 straight weeks over 20,000 yards so I'm hoping to see a nice drop in the swim at Racine.  Last year I was 5.5 minutes behind the leaders after the swim and 1:30 back of a nice sized chase pack.  This year I'm hoping to cut the gaps to the leaders to 4-4.5 minutes and be within a minute of some of the chasers.  I'll get out hard in the swim and stay on the chase pack for as long as I can...hopefully until the end of the swim.  With all the hard intervals on the bike lately I've really felt that is where I've made my biggest gains during this 3 week block.  I took Monday completely off of training and felt amazing on Tuesday while putting in over 6 hours of training.  It has me excited for when I really allow myself to rest.  The day off was only my 3rd in 27 weeks of training.  I will be taking more of those as I get into the big races starting next week when I have 2 days off planned.  My hope is that leaves me feeling stronger than I have in a race yet this year.  I haven't done much backing off for any races yet so it's time to take advantage of the work I've put in by taking some rest starting next week.  On Saturday I did a relay leg of an adventure triathlon a friend asked me to do.  I ran 12 miles prior to my 5k leg and then ran 17:18 out by myself as it was a small race and really spread out.  It was hot of course so I was happy with that pace coming off a 12 mile run beforehand and a tough 5x5 interval workout I finished around midnight the evening prior.  My days of this campaign may be winding down so I'm really looking forward to having my best race ever in Racine next Sunday.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!