Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PPD Beach 2 Battleship Race Report and Results

Jen and I made our way to Wilmington, North Carolina on Thursday afternoon.  We got checked in at the race site and then found our hotel before dining on some nice Wilmington pizza and frozen yogurt.  Friday was mostly spent getting gear bags and the bike checked in.  I took the bike out for a short ride after putting it together.  I was really pleased with the job Dan Adams at Healthy Habits has done for my big races getting the drive train all cleaned up.  This is certainly worth doing before a big race during the year.  The bike is noticeably easier to pedal with a clean drive train.  Jen and I looked at the logistical aspects of this point to point course and found out where the swim start and finish were at and drove about 20 miles of the bike course so she would know where to go during the race.  I attended the pre-race dinner with college teammate Chris Sweet who would be doing his first race as a professional triathlete.  The dinner was awesome...the best of any pre-race dinners I have had for Ironman distance events.  I was in bed by 9:00 Friday night awaiting an early alarm. 

The alarm went off at 5:00 for the 7:30 race start but I was actually awake about 10 minutes before that.  I had a light breakfast of bananas, granola, a bagel, and some GU Chomps.  I had eaten plenty the night before at the pre-race dinner.  I was not nervous at all...just excited to get the day started.  It was great having Jen along not racing because she was able to drive me to the first transition where I could drop my T1 gear bag with my warm bike clothes and get my bike ready for the ride with my nutrition and wheels pressure set.  After taking care of those things I was able to get a 1.5 mile run in and some stretches.  Local triathlete and friend Jason Rangel had arranged for a business trip to the Wilmington area and had worked it out so he could attend the race.  It was great having Jason around.  Jen and Jason drove me out to the swim start which was 2.4 miles from T1.  The weather was nice with not much wind but the air temps were freezing.  It was 37 degrees outside when I put on my sleeveless Xterra Vendetta wetsuit.  The water temperature was warm at 70 degrees.  The race could not start until 7:30 because the sun doesn't rise in Wilmington this time of year until 7:26.  I warmed up in the water for only about 200 yards before they called us to the starting line.  It was freezing cold standing on the line when I was wet.  It was a beach start and we only went about 20 yards into the ocean channel before heading north for most of the 2.4 mile swim.  The race director had told us at the meeting that the channel was not moving so it would be a legitimate swim without the aid of a big current that this race typically has. 

SWIM: On the horn I dove in and did a couple dolphin dives before starting to swim.  Unfortunately I got some water in the right lens of my goggles.  I thought about stopping to get the water out but I didn't want to do it until the race thinned out and I was no in risk of getting run over.  I started swimming breathing every 3 strokes with long smooth strokes that I've become used to swimming under the guidance of Stacey Zapolski.  Leading up to this race I had done over 20 lake swims in my 6 week build.  I was confident in my ability to swim the 2.4 miles breathing every 3 strokes.  I've learned from my many loops around Lake G that I'm only about 15 seconds faster on the loops I push hard and they take about 30% more effort so the hard swimming time savings is not nearly worth the trade in effort.  I was very relaxed and found myself in a big group and kept waiting for it to thin down.  I could see 2-3 guys away from us quickly off the front but the rest of us seemed content to stay in the big group.  It was extremely easy being in the group.  At times I found myself on the front, at times in the middle, and at times sliding towards the back.  Some of the time we were swimming 2-3 guys across at the front and sometimes it was just one guy leading the charge.  I stayed in this pack and the further we got into the swim the easier it felt.  I kept reminding myself of all the long swims I had done at Lake G and I knew the further I got into the swim the less likely it would be that I got dropped.  I sighted often because I wanted to make sure if anyone made a break from our group that I was not left behind.  It felt easy and in most of my open water swims I worked on changing pace doing intervals within the long lake swims.  I knew I had the gear change in me if it was necessary.  If I noticed one side of our group moving faster than the one I was on I switched lines and joined the faster side.  I got kicked in the goggles at one point but that just tightened them to my face a bit more.  The most interesting moment came about 3,000 yards in when we made our first turn around a big red buoy.  I saw someone to my right panic and lift his head.  I lifted mine to see what was going on and there was a Golden Retriever swimming right in the middle of the group.  I laughed to myself about this and kept going.  I'm certain someone was out on a boat watching the race and the dog got the itch to do the Ironman swim with us.  Thankfully I avoided his paws.  I could see a big building along the marina getting closer and knew that would be the end of our swim.  The time had gone by quickly but I didn't know what to expect when I got out.  I was guessing 57 minutes.  By where I was in the group and knowing not many were away from our huge chase pack I knew it was a good swim.  When I hit the dock and climbed the ladder I was in disbelief seeing my watch at 52:40.  It made me realize 3 things...1.  I had the best swim of my life and all the open water lake swims had paid off.  2.  Despite what the race director said we did have some sort of current with us.  There is no way I can swim close to 52 minutes for a legit 2.4 mile swim.  3.  I LOVE swimming in my Vendetta Sleeveless.  My arms were never tired.  I felt like I could have gone on for quite some time at that effort.  After climbing the ladder onto the dock I raced through the marina feeling like I had more energy than I started the race with.  I asked someone how many guys were through and he said I was the 4th one in!  No way!  Swimming is what I'm not good at.  I told Jen I'd probably be around 50th place out of the water.  The swim ranking tells me it was easily my best swim ever.  I also felt at this point like going under 9 hours was a certainty.  My official swim time was 52:43 and it was the 4th fastest of the race. 

T1- Things got interesting in T1.  I've never in my life had to add layers for the bike ride during a race.  This was going to be different.  The air temperature was still hovering around 40 degrees and my feet were freezing running the 500 meters or so from the channel to T1.  I entered the change tent and was excited.  I quickly tried to put on my long-sleeve tight fitting shirt but it didn't want to go on over my wet, cold body.  I asked a volunteer if he could help with my shirt and he pulled it down.  The arms on the shirt were tight and I had to pull them up one section at a time like you would when you put on a full-sleeve wetsuit.  I put on a skull cap over my helmet and put socks on before making the dash to my bike.  When I got to my bike I started to put my gloves on and that was no easy task.  I had to work to get them over my freezing fingers.  Finally they were on and I grabbed my bike and ran out to the road to begin my 112 mile ride. 

videoBIKE- Out on the bike I began taking in fluids and salt pills.  My hands were freezing and it was difficult getting to the salt pills in my Zipp Bento Box where I keep my food and salt pills during and Ironman distance race.  I passed two guys early on and Jen had told me I was the 5th one to hit the roads with my bike so that meant I was in 3rd place.  We went through the Wrightsville Beach area and over a grated bridge.  The road conditions were nice after that and we were going through busy streets that were well blocked off and patrolled by many volunteers.  They said this race had over 1,500 people volunteering to help keep us safe.  I knew most of the first half of the ride would be into the wind.  The way the course was laid out with the separate transition areas we would actually be riding into the wind more than we would have it at our backs because the first 20 miles essentially took us to the spot where we would end the ride and those 20 miles were mostly into the wind.  Around mile 10 a guy passed me and he was a huge guy.  I knew it would be the perfect chance for me to sit back 10 meters and let him do some of the work.  Mentally it would help to have someone along for a ride I knew had the potential of getting lonely.  I did not know it at the time but the guy was doing the race as part of a relay.  The effort didn't feel too difficult so I went with it.  Before long Jen and Jason drove up beside me and said I was 2 minutes back of the leader and about 1 minute back of 2nd place.  It wasn't more than a few miles when we passed the guy in 2nd.  I looked back to see if he was going to go with us but he did not.  About 5 miles later we passed the guy in the lead and he did join up with us.  At one of the aid stations he passed me and took over the 2nd spot so I dropped back 10 meters from him and took the 3rd position.  We had a race official riding right behind all 3 of us to make sure we stayed legal distance.  I was planning to split each 14 mile section of the race and hoped to be 36:30 or under which would lead to a 4:52:00 bike split.  I was hoping I could do that easily and maybe even shave some time off those goal splits.  I went through the first on in 36:20.  I knew this was good because it included the slow start getting out of Wrightsville Beach and it was all into the wind.  The next 2 splits were both about 34:30.  I was well under goal pace as we approached the 50 mile mark and I knew the return trip after mile 60 was where we would start to pick up the tail wind. 

It was great having Jason and Jen along the road or even driving up alongside me to shout encouragement.  Jen had me wave for the kids at one point.  As easy as the first 45 miles felt things started to get tougher in a hurry after that.  Between 45 and 50 I started noticing that my back was getting tighter.  I also was getting cramps and pain in my left piriformus.  This is a muscle located deep in the butt muscles.  It is a muscle I had a lot of problems with last year but had not experienced any discomfort throughout 2013 until mile 45.  I sat on the end of my seat and tried to push on the piriformus to get to loosen up.  It would not.  I decided I better grab my special needs bag at mile 55.  I had been like a yo-yo off the back of this 3 man group for 5 miles.  I would fall to 25 meters and work really hard to close it back down to 10 only to let the gap open again.  I decided I better get my special needs and relax the effort a bit.  I was hoping I could afford to give up some time on the bike the last 60 miles that I could gain back on the run.  I had a coke and a 2nd bottle of Ironman GU Brew in my special needs bag.  The first bottle was already gone and it had 750 calories in it.  The 2nd bottle was important for me to get.  I was also craving the coke.  I didn't really want any of the solid foods I had packed into special needs so I left them behind.  Besides the coke and Ironman Brew the only thing I was drinking was water.  I drank quite a bit of it and by mile 60 I had to pee for the first time.  I am not very good at doing this while riding and it slows me down.  I have to stand up and coast to get it started and then soft pedal while standing until I'm done.  Unfortunately this was just the beginning.  Over the last 52 miles I peed 9 more times on the bike!  That was a new record for me and it was very frustrating not being able to get into a rhythm for very long before having to go pee again.  Jen and Jason were letting me know how big the gap was growing to the top 2 riders.  They were still together until around mile 80 and I was down 4 minutes already.  I knew I was going to have to pick the effort up the last 20 miles if I wanted to keep the gap under 10 minutes.  My average speed was falling even in the section of the course where the slight winds were at our back.  I was starting to get frustrated with how I was riding because I thought for sure I was going to ride under 4:52 without much effort.  Now I was working hard and I was uncomfortable and I was falling off the pace quickly.  The last 20 miles I was thinking about how I wanted to get the run started.  I finished the bike in 4:50:52 which was under my goal time but the effort was much higher than I would have preferred.  My bike split was the 3rd fastest of the race behind the relay guy and the race leader.  I knew I was going to have to run 3:08 or faster for the marathon to break 9 hours and I still thought that was going to be no problem. 

T2: I moved well through T2.  I was excited to get this run started and find out how far up the 2 guys ahead of me were.  I was also excited to run because of how much running I had done leading into this race and knowing how my run fitness had progressed.  I grabbed my run gear bag and put my shoes on after changing into a fresh clean pair of dry socks that did not smell like pee.  While I was changing one of the medical personnel asked if I needed any medical attention.  I said, "No, I'm about go crush this marathon."  I was staying optimistic and then reality hit when I exited transition and began the run. 

RUN: Immediately after leaving transition I got worried.  My heart was racing faster than I can ever remember it racing in any competition.  My back was tight and my legs did not have the springy feeling I've had twice at Ironman distance events.  I was running slowly and knew I was not going to be able to continue at my current state.  I had to stop and try to relax my breathing.  Taking deep breaths proved to be difficult.  I felt like I had a lot of mucus in my chest keeping me from getting good air that I wanted.  Last Monday I woke up with ear pain and went in to have the doctor tell me I had an ear infection.  I was put on antibiotics which I did not want to be on the week of a race.  I don't know it I had some congestion in my chest or what but it was not good.  I tried hard to cough some of it up and was successful getting some nasty stuff to come out.  It made breathing easier.  I stretched to loosen up my back and continued on my way.  My GPS came on and I was running about 7:00 mile pace but that's where I started last year in Arizona when I fell apart to run/walk a 4 hour marathon.  As the early miles passed I was able to cough up more and more junk until deep breaths were not so difficult.  I was never feeling good but I had gotten to a respectable state.  I knew the pace I was running was not going to be good enough to break 9 hours.  I still wanted to find out what kind of gaps I had to the leaders.  At the first turnaround I found out I was only 90 seconds back from the leader.  That was a big boost of confidence after what I had gone through.  I had stopped 3 times in the first 2 miles but was now going without stopping and my pace was hovering in the 6:40-7:00 range.  At mile 9 I caught the leader and realized the other guy who had gotten off the bike with me was on a relay.  I focused on running with good form.  I repeated phrases in my head from my Barre563 class where I tried to block out any pain and just focus on the task at hand.  The volunteers and aid stations were excellent.  Any time I felt cramping coming on I took in more salt pills.  I knew I had to stay relaxed and stay at the 7:00/mile pace for as long as I could.  At the 1/2 way point of the run I got another time check.  I was 4:00 in front.  When I saw Jen and Jason I told them I was up 4:00 but had a lot of work to do.  I've raced this distance enough to know that 4:00 is nothing if things go bad.  Jen and Jason took a picture to capture their excitement at the news...

On the 2nd half of the run I continued to think about how much I needed to be willing to suffer.  Everyone hurts in an Ironman.  I knew the suffering would be worth it if I could just hang on for the last 13 miles.  I also knew I would get my final time check at about mile 20.  I wanted badly to extend the lead through mile 20 to give myself a little cushion if things went sour.  I had taken my own GU gels along for the run because the course served Hammer products and they are not what my stomach is used to.  I took in 16 GU's during the run.  I also had most of a bottle of coke at special needs and a Red Bull.  I wanted to make sure I did not bonk.  I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I thought about a student in my class that has been nominated by our teachers for an iHope award.  I kept telling myself if I could hold on to the finish we will make this gift happen.  I tried to get songs in my head to keep the rhythm going.  10 miles to go...less than any long run I did in my Ironman prep.  8 to go...only an hour left.  7 to go...just a Bix at 6 training run...6 to go...on the way back to the finish.  I got my last time check with 6 miles to go and the lead had grown to 10 minutes.  I knew if I could keep running I would win.  I also knew the last mile was mostly downhill and the spectators in town would give me the lift I needed.  I was suffering but surviving.  I remembered that local Leadville and motivational speaker John Byrne had told me the times we suffer the most are the times we get the most gratification from when we complete the challenge.  This was the time for suffering.  5 miles...that's a lunch break run...4 miles...a run with Owen on his bike...3 miles...high school pre-meet...2 miles...the run I did with Jen just yesterday...1 mile...downhill and this thing will be over.  I got really excited as I was coming in to the finish line.  I had not felt nearly as good as I expected going into the race but it was going to be good enough to win and earn the iHope Foundation $1,000.00.  It was also the first time I've won a race over an Olympic distance.  It was one I'll remember for a long time. 

My overall run time was 3:13:32 and it was the 4th fastest run split of the race unless the 2:31 time for the fastest is legit...but I'm thinking that was a timing error since the splits don't seem right on that finisher.  My overall time was 9:04:49 which was a new Ironman distance PR.  Although I was thrilled to win the race I am still not satisfied that I have given Ironman my best effort yet.  I know my fitness the last couple weeks was higher than I showed.  I also know that if this had been a WTC pro event my effort would have placed me in the bottom half of the pro field.  After the first 45 miles of the bike I did not feel good the rest of the race.  A huge congrats to all the finishers of the Ironman distance race.  I'm a big believer that the real warriors are the ones who are out there for 15...16...even 17 hours.  I think my 9 hour day is tough...I can't even imagine what those guys and gals go through.  I was thrilled to hear local triathlete Eric Nordstrom finished and he even placed in his age group.  My college teammate Chris Sweet had a huge PR in his first race as a pro finishing 4th in 9 hours 22 minutes.  Complete results from the race with splits can be found by clicking here
Overall I couldn't be more excited about how the entire year went.  I set out with a goal of raising $1,500.00 to provide iPads for low-income students with great character and work traits.  I raised $4,000.00 in my races.  My parents graciously matched that.  Many other businesses and individuals have helped in TREMENDOUS ways with contributions.  Just last week Beach 2 Battleship sent out an e-mail profiling why I was competing at this event and we had almost $600.00 contributed that day.  I met with our Superintendent last week and we are going to be able endow a permanent $1,000.00 scholarship that will be given to 1 iHope recipient every year when they graduate high school if the decide to continue to some level of post-secondary education.  That was a great way to tie the gift of hope through the iPad to the reality that we believe these students can continue on with education and do great things after high school.  By Thanksgiving we are going to be awarding at least 1 student with an iPad after this race effort...maybe even 2.  If you would like to help the foundation by making a tax-deductible contribution click here
This race would not have been possible without the love and support I get from Jen.  She's always been Super Mom and without her I wouldn't have been able to put in the 6 week block of 25 hour training weeks.  She supported me through all those long Saturday rides and Sunday runs, swims, and more rides.  She was also there cheering like crazy and her enthusiasm gave me a great lift.  Big thanks to Jason Rangel and all his cheering and support on the course. 
Also, big thanks to the individuals and businesses that supported iHope this year.  Racing for a cause like iHope made motivation to train and race easy.  By your support of iHope you gave me a reason to work hard and DREAM BIG. 
After last year I wasn't sure I wanted to continue trying to race competitively any longer.  After a disappointing finish to the year I took 10 weeks away from anything resembling workouts or triathlon.  When I thought of racing for others and giving everything away it made the decision to keep going easy.  Now that I've had a chance to see the life-changing impact it has made for iHope recipients it fuels me to continue on trying to improve every year so I can do my part to impact our society in a positive way.  I would not be able to do this financially without the support of some great companies that help make my racing possible.  Kaminski Pain and Performance Care, Healthy Habits, Barre563, Xterra Wetsuits, Zipp, Kiwami Triathlon Wear, and GU Energy have helped me so much.  I cannot thank you enough.  This has been a long one but I have 2 videos to finis it off.  The first is from the PPD Beach 2 Battleship site and is a recap video that briefly shows me coming down the finish.  The 2nd is one I created using my "less than tech savvy" skills.  This was the first race of mine Jen has been a spectator for during the 2013 season so I took some of the photos of the weekend and put them to one of the 2 songs I had in my head throughout part of my Saturday...Phil Wickham's This is Amazing Grace.  Thanks for reading and following this journey. I have reached the top of the mountain that looked oh so far away when I began training back on February 11th.   You, too, can reach yours...DREAM BIG!!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

6 Days...All Systems Go!

I am now just 6 days from my peak race of 2013, the PPD Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance event which will be held in Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday morning.  The race begins at 7:30 AM just as the sun will hopefully be starting to rise.  I could not be more excited about where I am at right now.  I survived 6 weeks of high volume intense training healthy and am now 7 days into a 12 day taper.  I had each workout planned out for the taper and I've hit them all exactly how I laid out.  The final 10 days are nearly a mirror image of my 10 day taper for the Pigman 1/2 back in August which went very well minus a poor run.  The run had nothing to do with the taper and everything to do with a complete lack of run mileage in the weeks leading up to the race due to the back injury that kept me from running most of the summer.  That is a distant memory now and I logged 62 miles/week average during my 6 week block of Ironman training.  All signs point to a great race thus far.  On Friday I did a 1 hour bike workout with 4x5 minutes hard following each with 5 minutes easy.  It is a workout I have done probably more than any other bike workout in my life.  Friday was the highest wattage I have ever hit in this workout.  I averaged 335 watts on my hard periods.  I looked back at what I did before Pigman and it was a huge lift of confidence.  I only averaged 305 before that race and I had a pretty good bike split of 2 hrs. 14 minutes.  I'm also 9 lbs. lighter than I was for that race.  Today I did the same swim workout I did 6 days prior to Pigman.  The main set was 8x125's on 2:15 with a time check at 100 and then sprint the last 25 all out.  Before Pigman I was coming through the 100 split in 1:22.  Today I was coming through the 100 split in 1:17.  Pigman was the best swim I have ever had in a triathlon. 

My taper is a pretty significant one.  I'm actually very glad I didn't extend it longer than 12 days as many do before an Ironman distance race.  I could have race really well this weekend already and I still have 5 more days of easy workouts.  For my 6 week block I was averaging 411 bike miles for every 12 days.  In my 12 day taper I will ride 110.  My run average for 12 days of the block was 106 miles.  I will run 31 miles over my 12 day taper.  Swimming I actually increase by design.  I averaged only 14,700 yards every 12 days.  For my taper I'll be at 20,000 yards.  My bike ride today was 35 miles and I was riding into a wind effortlessly holding 240-250 watts.  Last week I did 4x20 minutes at 240 watts and they were anything but effortless.  Jen and I fly out on Thursday morning from Chicago.  The flight is less than 2 hours to Raleigh where we will get our rental car and drive 2 hours to Wilmington.  The pre-race meeting and dinner are on Friday.  The forecast is for cool temperatures.  I'm probably going to have to put a layer on over my jersey for the first time ever in a race.  I've always handled cold well and my body warms up quickly.  I will bring an arsenal of cold weather options.  One thing is for sure...I will not over dress for the bike.  I would rather be cold for the first 30 minutes and then warm for the next 4+ hours than be warm for the first 30 minutes and then hot for the next 4+ hours.  The current forecast is for a high of 64 degrees and a low of 47.  I'll be checking in on the hour by hour forecast the day before the race.  If we get on the bike and it is 50 degrees or warmer I will not be worried.  If it's still in the 40's I'll have to consider things like gloves and a head warmer under the helmet. 

There are 5 pro guys racing in the field of nearly 1,000 athletes.  I am wearing bib # 7 which is has always been my favorite number.  The website for the race is www.beach2battleship.com  They are supposed to have athlete tracking available during the race but I don't know if it only updates the swim, bike, and run finish times or if they will have timing mats along the way to update.  Either way Jen will be sending updates from my facebook account so if you are wanting to follow along with my progress you can friend request and I'll accept so you get updates from Jen via my facebook page. 

My goals for the race are first and foremost to break 9 hours.  My PR is 9 hrs. 5 minutes from Ironman Arizona in 2011.  I thought the entire race I was going to break 9 hours until I had about 4 miles to go when I could do nothing but run 9 minute/mile pace.  Since that day breaking 9 hours has been on my mind.  To do it I plan to swim 1 hour, bike 4 hrs. 52 minutes, spend 6 minutes in transition, and run anything under 3 hrs. 2 minutes.  The swim at this race is typically with the tide but this year's race is a "slack tide" which means the water is essentially calm and we will not get the really fast swim splits they did a year ago.  2 years ago was also a slack tide and the swim times were MUCH slower than any of the other years at this race.  My PR swim is 1 hr. 2 minutes.  I feel I am better than that right now.  My last lake swim was Tuesday.  The water was 61 degrees and since that day we had some overnights in the 30's so I knew I would have to finish the taper in the pool.  The bike goal is actually quite a bit slower than I know I can ride right now.  I've ridden 4:46 or under twice at this distance.  I want to be a bit more conservative so I can run my best.  My run fitness is really good right now.  If I should swim slower than 1 hour I'll probably bike a bit harder to make up for the difference.  I don't want to start the run needing to break 3 hours in order to go sub-9.  If I feel amazing on the 2nd half of the ride I may increase the speed and go under the 4:52 goal.  It looks right now like we'll be riding into mostly a head wind the first half of the ride and picking up the tail wind the last 1/2.  I don't race with power or heart rate...I simply like to go by how my body feels.  I will not panic if I'm a bit off goal time going into the wind.  I'd like nothing more than to get off the bike still having a chance to win the race.  I'll be thinking about the kids in my class who I can help with some money for iHope if I can be in the top 5.  I feel like I'm in shape to run under 3 hours if I am self-disciplined in my early pace setting.  My key phrase to myself off the bike is "patience".  I'd like to start the run no faster than 7:00 pace no matter how easy it feels.  I learned during my long runs during this training block that I can cut the pace down quickly if I'm patient early on.  Last year's champion is back and he broke 9 hours a year ago.  I don't know how many more opportunities I'll ever have to start a big race in the shape I'm in right now so I plan to take advantage of this fitness and live in the moment.  If you are going to pray for me pray for no mechanical issues on the bike.  That is my greatest fear right now because everything else is ready to go.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

12 days...Taper Time

This week I finished up my 6 week Ironman training block that I had set up for myself back in early September.  I couldn't be more excited about how the entire block went.  Throughout the 6 weeks I felt stronger each week, stayed injury free, put in every workout exactly how I planned, and gained a ton of confidence as I approach my taper for Beach 2 Battleship on October 26th.  The final week of the training block included 58 run miles, 210 bike miles, and 14,000 swim yards all of which took place in the local lake.  I also attended class at Barre563 twice and did core work, lunges, jump rope, push-ups, pull-ups and plyometrics.  My total training time for the week was 24 hours.  Over the past 6 weeks I swam 51,600 yards which was intentionally less volume swimming than I used to do.  I used the extra time on the bike and run.  For the 6 weeks I averaged running 62 miles each week and biked 240 miles/week.  I had 3 rides over 100 miles and two others at 90.  I did long runs each week of 16, 18, 17, 23, 20, and 15 miles.  I attended Barre563 twice every week through this block.  Now it is time to rest and allow my body the chance to adapt to all this training.  Without the rest and adaptation all that I have done means nothing.  I'm not ready to race yet.  I need this adaptation period and then I'll be more ready than I've ever been for a race.  I had my body fat % checked today and it was 10%.  This is down from the last time I had it checked in April when I was 16%.  Returning from Jamaica in July I weighed 8 lbs. more than when I was checked in April and I'm guessing my body fat % was closer to 18.  It was a lot of work and I didn't eat perfectly but I did a much better job and I was really helped with the workouts at Barre563 to strengthen my core, glutes, hips, quads, and shoulders. 

For this 12 day taper I have laid out the workouts each day.  I have carefully put a schedule in place that will total about 110 bike miles, 30 run miles, and 15,000 swim yards over the final 10 days.  For the most part from here on out I won't run or bike 2 days in a row.  I have learned a lot from tracking my tapers over the years and believe I have figured out what works well for me.  It is nearly an identical taper that had me feeling tremendous in August for Pigman 1/2 IM distance.  The biggest difference is that I have extended the taper 2 extra days and I also have MUCH more volume that I am tapering off of.  2 of my big goals for the taper period are to get more sleep and also to watch my caloric intake carefully.  I have had a tendency in the past when I taper to relax on what I'm eating and I can gain 5-10 lbs. very quickly.  I worked hard to get leaner knowing it will make the marathon much easier and I don't plan to give that away.  I took an extreme risk building my volume up so quickly through this 6 week block and I'm thankful that God kept me healthy so I can race and try to earn some money for the iHope Foundation in 12 days.  Today I was absolutely humbled and honored to receive an anonymous $1,000.00 contribution to the iHope Foundation.  That contribution alone will provide 2 low-income children displaying positive work habits and character traits with iPads.  My goal is to be able to return from Beach 2 Battleship ready to award an iPad.  We have a list of a few students who have been nominated.  I still believe we will have the funds to endow this foundation and we also have plans in the works to add a scholarship component for 1 recipient each year that would be tied to high school graduation and enrollment in a 2 or 4 year academic institution.  Providing hope to a better future and opening doors is really what iHope is all about.  If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution you can click here.  You can pay through a Paypal account or with a credit card.  Thanks for ANY help you can provide.  12 days...I'm nearly there and feeling better than I ever have.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

3 weeks to go...PPD Beach 2 Battleship Ironman Distance

It's hard for me to believe I'm now only 20 days until my last race of 2013.  This was the 5th week of a designed 6 week intense block of training before I will back off and taper for the final 12 days.  During this block I took an extreme risk by breaking every rule in the book of increasing run mileage.  For the week I ran 66 miles, biked 255 miles, and swam 10,000 yards.  In addition I attended class at Barre563 twice for my strength training and did core work, plyometrics, jump rope, push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges.  The typical rule of increasing mileage is never to increase more than 10% in a given week.  Well, after missing the greater part of 5 weeks in the middle of the summer with a back injury I had a few weeks of around 30 miles before I began this 6 week block of Ironman training.  Through the first 5 weeks I am averaging over 62 miles/week running.  I have run more over the past 5 weeks than I did in the previous 17 weeks combined!  It was a big risk but one that I luckily have survived not only feeling healthy but feeling stronger than ever.  I do think a big reason I have stayed away from injury is due to how much strength I have gained attending classes at Barre563.  I am going on 3 months now and this workout has been something my training dearly missed and it is something I'm very thankful I found.  It made me realize that my best racing is ahead of me...not behind as I once thought.  This year has been less total volume than any of the last three.  For the most part, all year I stayed away from the high volume until the last 5 weeks.  Life has gotten more busy as the kids get older and get involved in more activities and I stopped planning weekends around training until the recent block began.  It's hard to take shortcuts to do well in an Ironman, however I believe the most important training is not until the last 2 months.  So many people worry about missing workouts during Ironman training even 6 months before the race.  Although building a base is important and missing workouts consistently wouldn't be good I have learned that getting to the last 2 months healthy and with a decent base is all you need before really putting in the time necessary to do the best you can.  After Ironman Arizona last November I didn't run, swim, or bike for over 10 weeks.  Getting out of shape, gaining weight, and taking a mental break is what I believe has helped put me in the position I am now just 20 days from my only Ironman distance race of the year.  All of last year and the end of 2011 I dealt with a piriformus (butt/hamstring area) injury that hindered my training and racing.  It never caused me to miss a race but after a hard workout or a race of any distance I had difficulty straightening my leg out.  I always had to see Dr. Kaminski ASAP to get it functioning properly again.  This year I have had no issue and I believe it was due to the 10 weeks off following last season.  I only took 4 weeks off between the 2011 and 2012 season and that was not enough time to properly heal it completely. 

I opted not to do a long bike ride this week.  The past 3 weekends I've had a day over 100 miles.  I knew the forecast was not good Saturday so I chose to ride 38 miles up to Clinton to watch a high school cross country meet and later added 93 minutes on the trainer.  On Thursday I went to Lake G and swam 5,400 yards straight in my Xterra Vendetta sleeveless suit.  I felt great.  That was my longest open water swim in time and distance ever.  I never even had to stop to clean my goggles as I think I found the formula for keeping them free of fog.  Until Sunday I had not gone to the pool in almost 4 weeks. Every swim I've done has been at the local lake they call Lake G.  The water has been great with temperatures at about 70 degrees.  While I was swimming on Thursday I made my way through fresh crisp leaves that had fallen off the trees into the lake.  I'm guessing with the big drop in temperatures today the lake will be cooler.  I'm still planning to stay out there until the lake is under 60 degrees.  I love swimming in cold water and getting into the 86 degree pool at the Fitness Center today reminded me how awesome the lake is.  I will switch to my full suit if the water is under 60 degrees and I may have to go double caps on my head but I will stay in the lake as late as I can leading to this race. 

Sunday morning was my last really long run before Beach 2 Battleship.  It was absolutely perfect out with temperatures in the mid-40's and very little wind.  I ran the first 4 miles alone and then the next 9 with Corey Towle before continuing on the rest of the way through 20 miles.  I started off really slow running about 7:15 pace but the pace began to drop when I met up with Corey and by the time I was done my average pace was down to 6:38 and it never felt hard.  I really gained a lot of confidence knowing I was ready to run about a 2:52:00 marathon in a training run had I continued on for 6.2 miles.  I recovered very quickly which I said last week may be one of my greatest talents.  Later in the day I ran 4 miles while Owen rode his bike and my legs didn't feel like I had even run this morning let alone 20 miles at a 6:38 pace.  I also swam right after the morning 20 miler and later in the evening rode the bike for 2 hours to complete a big training day.  My total workout time was just over 26 hours and I did that in 6 days of training.  Tuesday was a complete day off.  This was my first day off in the 6 week training block.  I could tell all day at school I was really tired and my motivation to train was lacking.  When I'm tired like that I also crave bad foods.  I went to bed at 7:00 with the kids and didn't wake up for 11 hours.  It left me energized and ready to go the rest of the week.  I weighed in this weekend at 153 which was 2 more lbs. down from last week.  I weighed 170 when Jen and I came back from Jamaica in mid-July and I began working out at Barre563.  I'm going to get my body fat % tested before I begin my taper.  One of my goals for this race was to have my body fat % at or below 8%.  I was 15% the last time I tested which was all the way back in April.  My bike mileage through the first 5 weeks of this Ironman block is an average of 246 miles.  Things are going better than I ever could have dreamed of for this race.  God has answered my prayers by keeping me healthy, motivated, and strong.  If there are no mechanical problems on the bike and no tropical storms on the east coast that would cause this race to get cancelled I'm going to break 9 hours.  I can't wait!  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!

Monday, September 30, 2013

PPD Beach 2 Battleship...4 weeks

Less than 4 weeks until my last race of the 2013 season and my only "A" race of the year, the PPD Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance event.  I am getting closer to being ready every day and my confidence for this race has grown tremendously.  Last week was a HUGE confidence booster.  I believe I am in a place with my fitness I have never been.  It was one of the biggest weeks I have ever put in.  My total training time was just over 30 hours.  For the week I biked 315 miles, ran 72 miles (highest of the year), and swam 11,100 yards.  I also attended class at Barre563 for my strength training twice and did lunges, plyometrics, core work, push-ups, pull-ups, and jump rope.  I am feeling super fit.  Although the weekend I will talk about later was one highlight for me this week, Wednesday was probably my favorite workout of the week.  Wednesday at our school was the fall version of the school mile.  Every student runs the mile for time and I love this day.  I use my prep periods to go out and run the mile with the kids.  I was able to run it with 6 different kids.  I ran it twice during my 4th period, once during my lunch, twice during my 7th period, and then once with a student in my after school study session who had to make it up.  Each time I ran it I asked the students who had a goal.  Once I found a student with a goal I would ask them what their best time ever was.  I told them I would put them right on pace to set a new lifetime best.  All 6 kids I ran with got personal best times in the mile and I couldn't have been more proud of them for setting a goal and then hanging in there when they were hurting.  4 of the students ran sub-6 minute miles for the first time in their lives.  It was awesome to see them realize they are capable of more than they imagined. 

I have never seen myself as a talented athlete.  Growing up I always loved sports.  My parents were not into sports and never pushed me but were always there to encourage me.  One thing they did teach me was the value of hard work.  I was a mediocre athlete through middle school but in high school found that when I worked harder than others I could beat people who I thought had more talent than I did.  Even as I got serious about triathlons and earned my pro license I still never saw myself as someone with a lot of talent.  I saw it as something I worked tremendously hard at earning the successes I have had.  Something that occurred to me this week is that I may have a hidden talent that allows me to be successful.  That talent is the ability to recover quickly.  Although this isn't natural talent for swimming, biking, or running, this gift has allowed me to put in lots of training without getting injured or even feeling overly fatigued.  This weekend was a good indicator of my fitness and my ability to recover.  I put in a lot of volume during the week considering I work 8 hours a day and also have two children and a wife at home I enjoy spending time with.  Some nights I was off the bike around midnight only to wake at 6 and begin another day of work, training, and family.  Friday I ran 13 miles and biked for 2 hours on the trainer including 6x3 minutes at 300 watts.  Saturday morning I had a long run planned where I planned to fuel with nutrition I will use on race day.  I started with a 9 mile loop that brought me back to my car.  I met my friend Cassidy Moulton for 2 miles at Crow Creek Park where I had started the run.  After getting to mile 11 I was back on my own.  My average pace for the run up to this point was 7:15/mile.  I headed out on a 5.5 mile loop that brought me back to my car.  I quickly grabbed some coke, GU, and GU Chomps and headed back out.  It was around mile 17 when I looked down at my watch and saw I was running 6:05 pace.  I couldn't believe how easy it felt.  My average pace was falling quickly.  At mile 18.5 I grabbed my special treat that will be in special needs bag for the run...Little Debbie Swiss Roles.  They were amazing and I continued to feel good.  I planned to stop at 20 if anything felt tired.  At mile 20 I was still running close to 6:00 mile pace and continued on for 3 miles with GU, coke, and Red Bull.  I stopped the run at 23 miles with an average pace of 6:55.  That meant I averaged 6:35 for the final 12 miles and it felt awesome.  It was my longest run of the year by 5 miles and my longest in training in the past 2 years.  I've never done a run over 20 miles without having sore hips, hamstrings, and hip flexors until this one.  I felt great during and after the run.  I have to believe the strength I've gained attending Barre563 has played a huge role in how fit I am right now.  My weekend was just getting started. 

Saturday night I rode the bike on the trainer for 2 more hours.  I had recovered well after nearly running a marathon.  My legs felt great.  I got off the bike at 11:00 pm and went to bed to wake up at 5:45.  When the sun started to show I headed out on the bike and rode 100 miles making it the 3rd week in a row at 100+ on the weekend.  When I finished I felt pretty tired for the first time all week.  I told Jen maybe I would be done training for the day.  I ate quite a bit including my first cheat of the week with Jen's apple crisp and vanilla ice cream.  I felt awesome again after eating that and headed to Lake G for a 2,400 yard straight swim with the first 1000 easy and the next 1400 alternating 21 strokes easy and 21 strokes at sprint distance effort.  I felt awesome.  After I got home and played with the kids and got them in bed I ran 5 miles and felt great.  Today I ran 12 miles, biked 2 hours, and attended class at Barre563.  I don't feel like I put in over 16 hours of training in the last 3 days but that's what I've done.  I did the entire 30 hour training week averaging only 2,900 calories/day and it helped me drop to my lowest weight of the year at 155.8 lbs.  I was 164 just 8 days ago.  I'm pretty stoked about entering this last race lean and in peak form.  I've strung together 4 great weeks and plan to add 2 more to that total before entering a 13 day taper for B2B. 

Our sermon at church this weekend was on generosity.  It was awesome and it really made me think a lot about the future of iHope.  The iHope Foundation was created to provide technology such as iPads to low-income students that display great character and work ethic.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue donating all my race winnings to iHope next year until hearing the sermon.  This year I have earned $3,000.00 through racing and hope to add to that total at B2B.  There are obviously a lot of nice things I could do with that money.  It could have paid for our 10 year anniversary trip to Jamaica.  It could have helped with race expenses.  I think how I could have put it in Payton and Owen's college fund...I could have used it for new hydraulic brakes on my Shiv...a new Powertap in the crank...lots of things come to mind.  Then I realized how everything I've done in racing is due to the talents God blessed me with.  Without Him I would not be able to do the things I'm doing.  I have been blessed with good health and the ability to race fast.  I don't think it's just a coincidence that when I decided to give all my winnings away to the iHope Foundation I have earned three times as much as I did last year and am in the best shape of my life.  God has used me to inspire others and to make a difference to children who have a lot of doors closed.  I will keep doing that next year to see if we can get the foundation to endowment level and possibly add a scholarship component tied to one iHope recipient every year.  We would like to have a scholarship waiting for them upon graduation from high school if they choose to enroll in a 2 or 4 year college.  I have been blessed by the support of numerous individuals and businesses in our community.  If you would like to help by contributing to the foundation you can click here.  It means more than you know.  When things get tough on October 26th my mind will be on some of the kids in my class that we would like to provide an iHope gift to this year.  I know that will give me strength to get through the rough spots. 

I began the 2013 season later than I ever have.  I remember how my first 3 mile run hurt so badly.  I took 10 weeks completely off after Ironman Arizona.  I had gained over 20 lbs. in my offseason.  Jen took a picture of me suffering and sweating badly through that first 3 mile treadmill run back in February.  I remember writing in my first blog post of the year about climbing the mountain and how the view from the bottom was daunting.  You can read that post here.  I've climbed my mountain.  I can see the top now and with 2 more good weeks and then some rest I'll be there.  I've never been as fit or prepared for a long distance race as I am right now.  I'm healthy and confident...add a little rest in and I'll be ready for the best race of my life and a sub-9 hour performance.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 weeks...

5 weeks until my only Ironman distance race of the year, Beach 2 Battleship which will be held in Wilmington, NC.  I am super excited.  My goal was to put in a 6 week stretch with my highest volume of the year before tapering down for 2 weeks.  The 6 weeks is all training and no racing.  Last week I dropped the volume a bit after increasing for 2 weeks.  I swam 6,300 yards, biked 200 miles, and ran 52 miles.  I have been really consistent with the training and I have 3 weeks to go with this one planned as a really big one on the bike.  My goal for the 6 weeks was to average 60 miles running, 200+ biking, and not swim a lot until the last 3 weeks.  I also have attended my strength class at Barre563 consistently twice a week and have really benefitted from that.  Yesterday I did a long open water straight swim of 4,400 yards and the lake is a great temperature.  I'm guessing it was 70 degrees and it felt nice in the Vendetta sleeveless.  When it drops under 66 degrees I'll go with the full suit but I plan to keep swimming these long open water swims until it gets to about 60 degrees.  I'm hoping that will get me close to the race.  I learned before Pigman that my swimming improved quickly by doing these long open water swims.  I mix in hard and easy swimming during the continuous efforts.  For the 2nd straight week I did a long ride of 115 miles on Saturday.  I rode this one entirely solo which probably lead to a harder effort than when I start with a group.  I'd prefer to start with a group to keep that ride easy until the last 20 miles or so when I like to push the hills while the legs are fatigued.  Last week my ride was with a group for the first 50 miles and when I finished my average speed was 19.7 mph.  This week I was about 21.0 mph for the 115 which I could tell later in the evening had my legs feeling more tired.  Sunday morning I would test myself on those tired legs by running the QC 1/2 Marathon.  My goal was to be able to run 6 minute tempo effort throughout without it feeling very difficult.  My legs were more tired than I predicted and the first mile of 6:00 did not feel so easy.  I wondered how I would hold up but continued to hold that pace or a bit under and actually it never got tougher.  In the last mile I had a guy about 15 seconds ahead of me and I decided to see if I had another gear.  I ran the last mile in about 5:35 to pass him which was a big confidence boost that after a long ride I could still drop the pace down.  I ran 1 hr. 17 min. 30 seconds for the 1/2 marathon.  This is a VERY well run event...one of the best marathons and 1/2 marathons in the Midwest.  It was a great weekend of training for me.  I rode 2 hours afterwards and felt better when I finished riding.  I was also a bit nervous entering the race because I weighed in that morning at 164 lbs.  I had gotten worried about the long ride and took in a lot of calories on Saturday night.  I also ate a big breakfast consisting of 2 servings of hash browns mixed with 8 ounces of steak and a banana after weighing in.   I would like to run the marathon at the end of B2B at a much lower weight.  Already after eating clean for 2 days I weighed in this morning at 159 lbs.  I know it is now or never for eating healthy to get a bit leaner for this race.  I'll take the now on that one so I don't regret it on Oct. 26th.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

6 weeks to go...

With just 6 weeks to go until Beach 2 Battleship full Ironman distance I am getting pretty excited.  I'm actually ahead of where I would have expected to be.  For the week I ran 70 miles, biked 246, and swam only 1,000 yards.  I also attended Barre563 twice.  I had a great interval workout on the bike Wednesday, good tempo run Monday, ran intervals Wednesday, and then used the weekend to get the long stuff in.  Saturday morning I rode 116 miles and pushed the hills after mile 90.  I was very surprised with how high my power numbers were on the hills after riding so far.  The cool temperatures certainly helped.  What has me most excited however is how quickly I'm recovering from workouts.  That's always a sign to me of the shape I'm in.  My legs felt great after riding 116.  Later in the evening after the kids were asleep I ran 4.5 miles and then biked another hour on the trainer.  Sunday morning I woke up wondering how my legs would feel.  I wanted to get at least 14 miles in for my long run.  I ran 12 and that took me to the starting line of "Run 3 for 30", a 5k for the Brett Greenwood Foundation.  Brett was a tremendously hard working individual I had the privilege of coaching in high school.  He maximized his talents and walked on to the football team at the University of Iowa.  He exceeded all expectations there while starting 3 years and being named to the All-Big 10 team twice.  He had just finished an NFL preseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011 and was back home working out when he suffered somewhat of a heart attack at our high school field.  He stopped breathing for a few minutes which left him with an anoxic brain injury.  After 2 years he has once again surpassed all expectations on his road to recovery.  I ran the 5k for miles 13-15.  I was surprised on the slippery and  hilly cross country course to be able to drop down to 6:15 mile pace after doing the first 12 miles at 6:54 pace.  Following the run I went right into 3 more miles bringing my long run to 18.  My legs never felt fatigued.  The only thing that had me worried was in my last 1/2 mile I had that Ironman calorie deprived feeling of nausea and light headedness.  That is why I like cola on the run.  My blood-sugar was really low and I'm not diabetic. 

This afternoon after dropping Payton at dance camp I took Owen to Healthy Habits to try out a new bike.  He had been riding Payton's bigger bike and wants to ride all the time so we wanted to get him a boys bike.  He rode the Specialized kids bike and loved it.  I told him we would not be able to ride the bike path since it was raining but he didn't care about the rain.  He was begging to ride so we went down to the bike path and he rode 2 miles while I ran with him.  He fell asleep on the car ride home and I moved him to his bed.  When he woke up the first thing he wanted to do was run more...Although I already had 20 miles for the day and did not really feel like running more I couldn't tell him no so I ran another 4 miles.  This new bike was great for him.  It is made of aluminum and he made every Le Claire hill on his own.  I would ask him if he wanted a push up the big hills and he refused to let me help.  We averaged about 7:30/mile for the 4 miles brining my total for the day to 24 miles.  Owen later went out while Jen ran and rode for the 3rd time today and requested to sleep next to his bike.  He is definitely obsessed with riding his bike these days.  I like that much better than being obsessed with playing video games or watching television.  We are really proud of him.  It's also nice for Jen and I that we can go for a run and he rides alongside us.  I never expected he'd be able to do that at 3 years of age. 

I cannot believe how good my legs feel after running 24 miles today coming off 136 miles of riding yesterday.  I don't feel like I even ran today.  I know I've stated this a lot but the only thing I can point to that is different now from in the past is that I've been doing my strength training at Barre563.  I'm so glad Barre came to the QC and I added this to my training regiment.  I think the amount of strength I've gotten through my hips, glutes, IT Band area...is what allows me to be able to do all this training without getting fatigued.  I used to feel weakness through my hips when I ran this far.  I have not run 18 miles for a training run since 2011.  I should have been tired but I wasn't. 

The Bettendorf News ran a really nice story on iHope this week.  The support of the foundation has blown away every expectation I have.  I cannot thank those of you who have contributed enough.  I hope all of you realize this would not be possible without your support!  The story can be found by clicking here.  A HUGE thanks goes out to local business General Constructors, Inc. for becoming the 10th local business to support the iHope Foundation.  Company president, Dan Ward was extremely generous with his support of iHope and GCI becomes the first Silver level sponsor of iHope.  If you would like to contribute to iHope you can click here to make a credit card or Paypal contribution or you can mail contributions to the PV Schools Administration Center.  That address is on the iHope page.  The support for these students in our community inspires me.  I'm hoping to bring some more money to the foundation through my last 2 races this year. 

I'd like to keep the volume high for the next 4 weeks.  I want to have finished a good 6 week block of high volume by the time I begin cutting back 2 weeks before Beach to Battleship.  I need to make sure I get more consistent with my swimming although I realize that is less important for these final 2 races than my biking and running.  1,000 yards won't cut it.  With the cooler temps the lake is probably ready to swim in again.  Thanks for reading.  (See Below)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

7 weeks out...training B2B training update

Saturday marked 7 weeks until the Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance race that will conclude my 2013 season.  The week was a great one from a training standpoint and I needed that.  Last weekend I lost a bit of focus with my eating habits and I weighed in at 167 last Monday morning.  This Monday I was 163.  For the week my total training time was 23 hours.  I strength trained at Barre563 twice, swam 9,200 yards in 3 swims, biked 214 miles, and ran my highest total since April with 54 miles of running.  My run mileage has been low this year mostly due to the back injury I sustained for a good portion of the summer.  I'm blessed to be 100% healthy right now and hope to increase my mileage keeping it high for the next 5 weeks before tapering down for the race.  Hopefully this dreadful hot weather is coming to a close.  Typically the fall is my favorite time to run as the cool temperatures remind me of my days running cross country in high school and college.  I also got some solid long workouts in.  Saturday I ran long and got in 16 miles.  That was my longest run of the year.  I expected to go only 13 but never felt fatigued so I added 3 miles to that.  I should have felt tired but I did not.  I have to believe the strength I've gained from regularly attending classes at Barre563 is what kept me feeling good even after running further than I have since Ironman Arizona last November.  I felt the same about my long ride on Sunday.  It was hot and windy but I still got in 84 miles which was my longest ride by 30 miles in the past 6 weeks.  Once again I expected to have twitching and tired muscles but the twitches never came and I felt very strong during my tempo run on Monday.  I'm really excited to race in October knowing that I will have attended Barre563 for long enough that my body will have adapted and benefitted from the classes.  They offer a 15 day unlimited trial of classes for only $20.00 if you are wanting to give it a try.  I am going every Monday and Thursday evening.  The website with details about Barre and signup info is www.barre563.com  Today I ran 8x2 minutes hard with 90 seconds easy running recovery after each during a 6 mile run.  My afternoon bike ride was 50 miles with 6x10 minutes hard with 5 minutes easy after each.  I averaged 291 watts through the hard periods which was good power for me right now with the volume I'm putting in.  I did this workout 4 straight weeks in 2009 when I was getting ready to race Longhorn 70.3 in October and each week my power went up with my highest week averaging 292.  I'm glad to be where I am now with 6.5 weeks still remaining until the race in North Carolina. 

2 weeks ago someone asked me if I was ready for the race.  My answer was "No...but I don't want to be ready yet.  I want to be ready in 6 weeks.  I'm making good progress towards being at my best for my last race of the year and my only Ironman distance event of the year.  My swims have been solid and I won't start swimming a lot until 3 weeks out from the race.  The swim is with the current (although I heard this year the tide is not going to be much help) so I keep telling myself I need to save time at home by keeping my swim yards lower.  Our kids are much more active now than ever before.  Owen started pre-school and Payton started Kindergarten.  They are growing up so fast and I don't want training to be the most important thing for me.  Owen amazed me this summer when he told me to take his training wheels off.  I didn't think there was any chance he was going to ride without them.  He's only 3.  Within a week he was riding without them and now he's obsessed with riding his bike.  He keeps asking to go to the bike path to ride so last week we went to the bike path and he rode 3 miles.  I was super proud of him especially because he crashed a 1/2 mile in and he got back on and wanted no part in me helping him.  Every day now he asks if he can ride his bike while I run next to him.  We put him on Payton's bigger bike tonight and Jen ran with Owen for 3 miles and said she had to keep telling him to slow down so she could keep up.  It's a great feeling knowing that I will be able to go for runs and Owen can bike with me now.  The bigger bike has bigger gears that allows him to ride much faster on flat roads/paths.  We still have to give him a little push up the hills but that's okay.  We are really proud of him wanting to be active.  He inspires me. 

We've had 6 students nominated for iHope gifts already this year.  We will do whatever we can to help open doors for these students that don't have many resources especially in the area of technology.  Right now we are working on getting the foundation to a level that will allow it to be sustainable forever through endowment.  The iHope board wants to help all the students nominated but we also need to be fiscally responsible knowing that we want this to be around for eternity.  I'm hoping my last couple races can help bring in more funds to make things easier.  If you'd like to make a tax deductible contribution to help give technology like and iPad to a low-income student that displays outstanding character and work traits click here.  Anything you can do is greatly appreciated.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

9 Weeks...Goals for B2B

As of Saturday only 9 weeks remain until my final race of the year which also has been the race I've looked forward to peaking at during the 2013 race season.  That race is the Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance race in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 26th.  I spent this past week getting recovered from my first and only 1/2 Ironman distance race of the year.  I wanted to make sure I took the week easy and let myself enjoy some of the foods I will now put on the shelf until October 27th.  I was pretty sore on Monday and Tuesday.  Those two days I swam and biked easy.  Mostly my calves and groin muscles were really tight.  I started feeling better on Tuesday evening and had a nice tempo run with our high school team on Wednesday.  Saturday I rode 53 miles.  I attended class at Barre563 on Thursday and Sunday.  I will continue to attend classes twice weekly until my race in 9 weeks.  I'm so excited about the strength and flexibility I've gained from these classes and know it will put me in a good spot when race day arrives.  Now that the easy rest week is complete I will begin a good 7 week stretch with the biggest emphasis being on my running.  My goal is to build my run mileage to 60-65 miles a week over the next 5 weeks.  I will stay in that 60 mile range through week 7 when I will begin to cut back.  On the bike my emphasis will be on interval training with a weekly long ride thrown in the mix.  I plan to only ride 4-5 times a week during this training schedule.  For swimming I will only swim three times a week until about 3 weeks before the race when I will begin to increase the number of days I'm getting in the water.  I will continue getting an open water long swim for as long as the water stays bearable.  Right now due to our warm temperatures the water is too warm so I'll stay in the pool until we get some cooler weather which hopefully will be by next week.  This race is known for a notoriously fast swim because they swim it with the current in a bay of the ocean.  I have heard rumors that the tide won't be near as much to our advantage this year and swim times may be even slower than they were in 2011 when they only cut about 5 minutes off the average swimmer's Ironman distance swim time.  Last year they were about 15 minutes faster.  I was banking on a strong current so that I could get by with less time in the pool.  Whether we have the big current or a small one I will still not put in the pool time I was a year ago.  Things are much busier than they used to be for me with the kids getting older and involved in more things.  It's hard for me to believe my daughter is in Kindergarten! 

I've never done this race so I can't get real specific on my goals.  I know the bike is flat but I heard there are sections where speeds are pretty low when crossing over a bridge with a rough road surface.  I've heard there are other spots on the roads where the surface is not real fast.  Bike times from last year were not very fast so there must be something because the course is almost entirely at sea level.  I would guess it can get windy near the ocean.  I have a goal of breaking 9 hours for the race.  I'd also like to run a new Ironman PR for the marathon which would mean sub 3 hours 10 minutes.  If I can do those things I should be somewhere near the front of the race.  I've learned that anything can happen so I'm not putting a big goal out there for overall place.  It would be a bonus if I could bring some money home for iHope.  Speaking of iHope, I owe a HUGE thanks to Erik and Monica Belby, Phil Pancrazio, and Barre563 for generous contributions to the foundation this week.  Barre563 has become the 9th local business to support the iHope Foundation.  If you would like to give Barre563 a try they offer new clients a chance to check it out with a 15 day unlimited trial for only $20.00.  Find that deal and get to know more about Barre563 at www.barre563.com  If you'd like to help with the iHope mission of providing low-income students who display outstanding character and work traits with technology click here and you can make a tax deductible contribution.  A contribution of ANY amount is greatly appreciated.  We are looking forward to providing more iHope gifts to students this year.  We believe that the gift of an iPad for these students can potentially be life-changing by giving them a resource to help with school and help bring them hope to see an educational future beyond high school.  All of the students presented with an iHope gift are given a letter encouraging them to one day pay it forward by making a positive difference for others in their community.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pigman Longcourse Race Report and Results

I spent some time this week watching a youtube video of local Leadville 100 finisher John Byrne present to a group of St. Ambrose University athletes.  The video was from 2011 and Dr. Byrne described his Leadville journey and what it has meant for his life.  He is one of the most motivational people I have met and he is also someone who sets extremely high goals for himself and then goes and does the work required.  I have been emphasizing goal setting to my students in the first week back to school and knew I could draw on the experiences of John Byrne to help with this.  One of the most important things I got from watching his presentation was that oftentimes the most rewarding experiences we go through are the toughest ones.  As I think back on my races this year I knew Pigman would be the most challenging so far and even though the pay day was not as much as some of the other races I've done it will be a race I remember for a long time because I was forced to dig very deep and prove some things to myself.  Now to the race...

I put together a 10 day taper for this race.  It was the first race this year I have tapered for and it went incredibly well.  I felt a little bit stronger with each day as I got more rested.  I swam more often than I typically do but I cut the yards back during each session and it left me swimming my fastest workout times of the year in the days approaching the race.  On the bike I cut the miles WAY back from what I had been doing.  I only rode 3 of the last 9 days leading up to the race but they all involved some quality intervals and my power numbers went up and the effort went down with each session.  Running was my big question mark.  After missing 6 weeks of running I began my taper on only 10 days of running.  I knew I didn't have much to taper from in this discipline but I did run 6x400's on Wednesday averaging 72 seconds each with 1 minute rest.  This was 6 days after I did 8 of them averaging 78 seconds so it was a big confidence booster.  My longest run in the past 2 months was last Sunday when I logged 10 miles.  It felt fine and I was sure I could make the 13.1 mile run but not sure how hard I would be able to push my body.  I wrote my goal times on the board at school before I left on Friday.  They were...Swim- 29:00 or better, T1- under 1:30, Bike- 2:16:00 or better, T2- under 1:30, Run- Under 1:20.  Total time- Under 4 hrs. 8 minutes.  Goal place- top 5. 

This was the first half ironman distance race for my wife Jen.  We stayed with my parents in Davenport on Saturday night because it would be 20 minutes closer to the race site and we could be with the kids all evening.  We left my parents house at 4:30 AM and arrived at the race site in Palo, IA at about 6:15.  It took longer to get our packets than expected because my USAT membership card is on my key ring and we had Jen's keys.  I had to find it online and prove I was a USAT member...note to self...put card in wallet!  By the time we got our numbers on our bike and got checked in we did not have much time to spare.  Jen and I ran a mile and returned to transition finding it closed.  We had to sneak in to grab our wetsuits.  I swam about a 400 yard warm up and took my place on the start line.  Jen and I would be starting the race together in the Elite wave of men and women.  Relay teams would also be going out with us.  The field was loaded but I was confident.  David Thompson, who hails from Minneapolis was racing.  He is one of the top triathletes in the US.  My good buddy Adam Bohach who I enjoyed training with when he lived in Clinton was also racing.  He had already gone under 4 hours for a 1/2 Ironman twice this year.  Weslie Anderson is a pro triathlete from Iowa who has lived in Texas the past few years.  He was on the line.  Kevin O'Conner who owns Gear West in Minnesota and is a great triathlete was on the line.  Scott Bowe, who went 9 hrs. flat at Ironman Arizona 2 years ago was on the line.  I knew there was a strong chance I would finish out of the top 5 if I didn't have a great race.  I was VERY confident and SUPER excited to race by the way my 10 day taper had gone. 

SWIM- I have been swimming in a new Xterra Vendetta sleeveless suit this year.  I have loved it.  Over the past month I've been going to a lake about once a week and doing a long straight swim with no stopping.  I have gone between 45 minutes and 1 hr. 5 minutes.  I could tell each time that I was stronger than the time before.  I life the sleeveless Vendetta because it has tremendous buoyancy in the legs lifting them high but with the absence of sleeves my upper body is actually positioned a little deeper in the water giving me a "downhill swimming" position.  I have learned from my open water swims that if I swim relaxed with long strokes like my swim coach Stacey Zapolski has taught me that I have no problem breathing every 3 strokes even for 1 hour straight.  By breathing less I am swimming more efficiently.  My plan was to go out conservative and swim the entire thing breathing every 3.  I did this to the first turn buoy that was probably 700-800 yards into the swim.  It felt very relaxed.  Turning around that buoy I found myself in the middle of a large pack of swimmers.  I looked ahead and couldn't see anyone.  I knew David Thompson was probably off the front with a couple other swimmers but I felt like the group around me was probably large enough and good enough that I would be wasting energy forging ahead alone so I just swam in the group.  I was completely relaxed and took breaths every 2 strokes to conserve oxygen and site more often to make sure I stayed in the draft.  This was the largest pack of swimmers I've ever been in that far into a race.  We stayed together as one big pack for the remainder of the swim and it was easily the best swim of my life.  There were times I worried it was so easy that we were going to be slow but I was thrilled to see 28:40 when I crossed the swim timing mat exiting the water.  Looking at results it was indeed 8 of us who exited within seconds of each other.  My swim rank was 12 out of the 300 long course athletes.  I had my best swim ever in a year when I have swam less than any of the past 4 seasons.  How?  I believe the strength and flexibility I've gained from attending Barre563 over the past 5 weeks was a contributing factor.  I believe the Xterra Vendetta sleeveless was a factor.  The group was obviously a factor but I think I would have swam the same time regardless...it just would have taken more energy.  I was with them at the first turn without swimming in the draft to that first buoy. 

BIKE- The bike is what I was really excited about.  I put in big chunks of volume while my back was hurt and now my legs were very rested from the taper.  I took my bike to Healthy Habits on Thursday and had them clean the entire drive train.  Dan Adams took great care of making sure my bike was ready to roll.  My entire drive train looked brand new and I could tell in my pre-race ride that the clean drive train was allowing me to ride extremely smooth and with less effort.  I think I will continue having this done a couple times a year before my biggest races.  I was also excited because I knew the strength I've gained in my hips, glutes, and quads from work at Barre563 would get to show for the first time in a race.  2 weeks ago probably wasn't enough time for my body to have adapted to that work but at 5 weeks I knew I would see some increase in power.  My first transition was 1:29 so I was about 20 seconds under goal as I began the bike.  I planned to split each 14 mile segment and hoped to keep them at 34 minutes or under.  Four segments at 34 minutes would give me the 2 hr. 16 minute split I was looking for.  The Olympic distance athletes were out on course so I couldn't tell early on whether I was passing Olympic distance athletes or 1/2 IM guys.  When we got past the point where they turned it was a lonely road.  I couldn't see anyone in front of me for another 5 miles.  I went through the first 14 miles at 33:05 so I was already nearly 1 minute under my bike goal.  It also meant I would go through 15 miles of a 56 mile bike ride faster than I road 15 miles 2 weeks ago at the Crossroads Triathlon in DeWitt.  About 18 miles in one of the race officials pulled up next to me on his motorcycle and complimented me on the "machine" I was riding.  I asked if he knew what place I was in.  I was guessing 3rd or 4th.  He said he would ride up the road and find out.  About 5 miles later he returned and said I was 7th!  Crap.  I told him I had a lot of work to do.  I could see one rider in front of me that I was slowly gaining on but he was still quite a bit up the road.  I went through the 2nd 14 mile split in 32:45.  I was now over 2 minutes under my bike goal!  What I didn't realize was that we would be riding into a small headwind on the way back.  I also didn't realize I was about to go through a really rough patch...my first of the race.  At the turnaround I got to see everyone in front.  David Thompson and another rider were 5 minutes in front, then Adam Bohach was about 3:30 up and the next 3 guys were within a couple minutes with Scott Bowe in 6th up about 20 seconds.  I hoped to bridge the gap up to Scott after the turnaround but I started losing power as my quads began to cramp.  I drank down my Ironman brew but had a hard time keeping it down.  I threw up once on the bike as it came back up.  I had been getting out of the saddle in big gears at the tops of the climbs as a way to stretch my legs and power over the tops but it was really beating up my quads.  They began cramping bad about mile 30.  I was starting to lose ground on Scott Bowe and was getting worried that I was already falling apart.  I hit my 3rd 14 mile checkpoint and was 34:55.  I had lost almost a minute and was now only 1:25 under goal time for the bike.  It was at this point when I began feeling better.  My good buddy Robert White was all over the course cheering for me and giving updates.  His encouragement was a big help.  I passed by Jen as she was on her way to the turnaround just after I'd had some big quad cramps.  I started increasing the amount of salt pills I was taking hoping to fight away the cramping.  Things got much better after mile 42.  I began to gain time back on 6th and when I got it back to 20 seconds I put in a big effort to bridge up to the 10 meter gap and recovered there for a few minutes.  When I passed him I encouraged him to work with me and we traded off and on over the last 15 miles staying back 10 meters when we weren't leading.  Even at 10 meters it seemed to save about 20 watts if I had to guess.  I entered T2 with a bike time of 2 hrs. 14 minutes, 1 second.  It was the 4th fastest bike split of the race at just over 25 mph average.  The top 3 splits were all ahead of me after the swim and still ahead of me heading to the run. 

RUN- In the 2nd transition I meant to put on socks.  I had set them out and was going to decide before I came in.  I was already getting blisters on the bike without socks and knew I would want to put them on for the run.  It was my first race in the Asics Pirhanas and those shoes are very minimal.  I knew they would chew my feet up.  However, before I could think about it I had already put my shoes on and I decided not to take them off.  I left my socks there and grabbed 3 GU's and 4 salt pills for the run.  I put them in the pockets of my Kiwami Konami suit and headed out not sure what to expect.  In the first mile I was running in 7th and Scott Bowe was pulling away from me.  I had thought the run was the one area I would be stronger than him and when he began to pull away it left me having a pity party.  I started thinking my legs must not be ready to handle running how I normally do off the lack of mileage.  I entered this race with less than 90 miles of running total over the past 2 months.  I had on my GPS watch and I was only running 6:20 pace and it did not feel easy.  I hate running in the sun and this course had sun everywhere.  My body felt like it was roasting even though the temperatures were only around 80 because the sun was so bright.  Thankfully things began to change around mile 3.  I saw pro triathlete Daniel Bretscher who was out cooling down after winning the Olympic distance race.  He told me that 3rd place had blown up and would come back quick.  He told me in these conditions you just have to hang in there and people will start to fade.  I was only 2 places out of the money and winning anything for iHope in this race would be an accomplishment.  Almost immediately I began to hit the rhythm close to what I was looking for and I started gaining ground on Scott Bowe who was in 6th.  I passed him just before the 1/2 way point and then passed the guy who had blown up.  I was running in 5th but still didn't know if anyone out of the Elite wave would be racing faster than me.  The worst would be to get 5th in the elite wave an then find out someone from an amateur wave bumped me off the podium.  I could tell I was gaining on 3rd and 4th but the work was getting really tough.  Robert continued to give me time splits.  At mile 10 I passed Kevin O'Conner and moved into 4th.  I could see 3rd was getting closer.  That was Wesley Anderson.  He is really good and I was thinking about how much John Byrne described suffering during Leadville and how bad he wanted to quit at mile 41 when he still had 59 miles to go.  I remembered how he focused his mind on the crucifix he was carrying and that eased his pain.  I mentally did that and I got to within 25 seconds of 3rd and then about mile 11.5 is when things started to really go downhill.  I was beginning to run on fumes and by mile 12 Kevin O'Conner had passed me back and Wes had pulled well ahead.  I was worried about getting passed again and kept telling myself to suffer through the last 7 minutes without giving up.  Finally I made it to the finish line in 4 hrs. 8 minutes, 28 seconds.  I had just missed my overall goal time but had met my goal placing of 5th.  My run time was 1:23:13 which was the 5th fastest of the day and 3rd fastest of the elite field.  I know that with 10 weeks to go until Beach 2 Battleship I have time to fix my run.  I think the suffering I pushed through today will pay off during that race. 

I was thrilled to watch Jen finish in 4 hrs. 56 minutes.  She was disappointed initially because she places very high expectations on herself.  I thought it was a tremendous debut at the 1/2 IM distance.  I am sure she learned a lot about herself.  She said she wanted to quit on numerous occasions.  She was the 5th elite finisher but got beat by 1 female from the age-group waves.  I still believe races that have prize money and elite fields should require athletes to register elite to have a chance at the money.  Some races do this and some do not.  I think it's only fair to be racing the athletes you are competing against for the prize money.  I was also really excited about Adam Bohach placing 2nd and going under 4 hours for the 3rd time this year.  Adam has improved so much with dedicated training.  I used to be able to ride faster than him but even with a great ride today I was no match for his 2:12 bike split.  Adam had the race best run in 1:15:53.  My good buddy and college teammate Randy Bill completed his 1st 1/2 Ironman today and he was the 4th place overall finisher of non-elites.  He was 15th overall.  He has really improved a lot in his first year training for the sport.  It was great seeing a lot of QC athletes finish well today.  Congrats to all who raced in the Olympic and Longcourse race today.  Be proud of that accomplishment!  Complete results from today's race with splits can be found by clicking here.  Today's race was the hardest earned $125.00 for the iHope Foundation I have made at a race so far.  My parents will match today's race meaning the race will pay for 1/2 of an iPad gift.  If you would like to add to that amount by making a tax deductible contribution click here.  It's been amazing how this foundation has grown and we are going to be able to give many life-changing gifts of technology to low-income students that have great character and work traits. 

Barre563 was featured this week in the QC Times.  You can read that feature here.  I am really excited to see what new levels this workout will take me to over the next 10 weeks as I prepare for Beach 2 Battleship on October 26th.  For the next few days I will focus on getting recovered.  Then I will begin to get good training with a focus on bike quality and run mileage as I get prepared to go sub-9 hours on October 26th.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!