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 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 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 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  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!!