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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tabata intervals - kind of...

Only Wednesday – wow – long week already.

Monday I did the abs – BOSU- lutey class again followed by a 4 mile run around campus. I did not make a lunch workout.

On Tuesday I did the Power 90 advanced Sculpt program. I now remember this workout from a few years ago. It was tough then and pretty hard now. I would say that it is manageably hard – no, more like comfortably hard – I can complete it. When it comes to workouts I seem to fall into that working HARD mentality. When I was done with the DVD – I was not thrashed, destroyed, collapsed on the floor in my own fluids – I was just done. Logically I know that I do not have to be rung out to have an effective workout but I do find these symptoms gratifying. I do this in running and biking and swimming also. And I know that this is flawed. I got done with the workout video and I decided to jump on the trainer for just a few minutes. I had been batting around the idea of Tabata intervals.

The Tabata protocol is a high-intensity training regimen that produces remarkable results. A Tabata workout (also called a Tabata sequence) is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without pause 8 times for a total of four minutes.

I have done similar things with running but I did not call them Tabata intervals. As part of EPIC day in the past I would run 100 yard dashes on the football field with very little recovery. Now, a 100 dash for me is about 12 – 13 seconds so it is not as long as 20 seconds. My dash times would drop off very quickly! This Tabata protocol would almost double the work session. I fumbled around with my trainer for a few minutes. I thought about putting a movie in – but I knew that I would not last long. I cranked up the music and did a very short warm up and then hit the first interval. I shifted in a large gear and stood out of the saddle to gain momentum. I then dropped into the aero bars and churned out big numbers for 20 seconds. It was an all out hard effort. I sat up in the saddle and watched the clock tick down. Session two was much the same – maybe just a moment longer to get up to speed. Sweat was dripping off of me already. The rest interval could not have gotten to me any sooner and on the flip side the recovery flew by. On the third interval it was everything to just hang on and complete the 20 seconds with max power. There felt like there was zero recovery and I was immediately back into the fourth repetition. I ramped up to power but I could not hold for the 20 seconds. I was done, spent, collapsed on the floor. Mission accomplished I guess. This will definitely be an area to work on in the future – I would like to increase the intervals to 8 x MAX for 20 seconds. Something to work on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prince of the Mountain

There were only 4 of us at Jackson Station on Saturday morning. We met at 6:30AM instead of the summer hours of 6:00AM. The sun was up but there was still a fair bit of fog. We decided to not get off of the trace until the mists had burned off. Believe it or not but my legs were STILL sore from the STADIUMS 3 days prior. The bike did make them feel better. We took it easy for the first 15 miles or so but when we turned off of the trace for the Epley Road King of the Mountain Challenge - the pace immediately quickened. Right now I just do not have the sustained speed necessary to sprint ahead and take charge but I did not want Lance to just walk away with a win.

I was not going to get the polka dotted jersey but Lance and Raland were going to have to work. We would be going at a relative quick pace and then no one would want to take the lead pull. The pace would slow a little bit. They were sandbagging. Once this started to happen I would jump out and sprint ahead for as far as I could. I just kept attacking. Sure the attacks lost a lot of there value when they realized that I was just not able to bring much – but I did make them work. The back part of the out and back is the hard part and at some point it ended up being just Lance and me. We battled a few times but Lance was the stronger of the day. My legs were burning up the last hill and I was giving it everything that I had but I just could not reel him in – Lance bested me by about 50 feet.

On Sunday I pulled out an old work out DVD – Power 90 (no X – I’m not that extreme) and I did the Sculpting session. I used to do this series a long time ago when the winters were cold in the mid-west. The videos were good for me – short, sweet and full of direction. I would like to get a routine of these in the off season to build a little bit of strength back and burn a little bit of fat.

I met up with the Sunday group ride and it was one of the most beautiful days of the year. The humidity had dropped, the sun was out and the air was – okay not cool – but definitely not hot. There was a large group and we rolled out to Sumrall and then beyond. We got off of the trace and hit some hills. My back tire started to hiss on one of these hills. I had a flat. This was the first flat on this bike since Christmas Day – the first flat in nearly 2000 miles on this bike! I changed the flat and got filthy and we were on our way. It was just a good brisk but conversational ride. We were going fast and it seemed like I had to work a little harder than I should have been. I am almost always right up front but not this ride. I was in the second pack and I was still having to huff and puff to stay up. I am getting back to myself but I am just not there yet!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Marco - Polo...

Friday morning I headed to the lake. It was dark. I have to drive to the lake and the air was thick – a blanket of fog covered the roads – visibility was nil. I arrived at Greg’s house right at 6AM. Dan was circling the neighborhood in his truck – he was not sure where Greg lived. It was dark.

We both walked around to the back of the house and Lance and Greg were getting ready to jump in. Did I mention how dark it was? – or how foggy it was? Now there are two or three buoys that mark a triangle of about a third of a mile – visibility was only about 10 feet – we could not see any buoys. The lights in the houses across the lake were very dim. I really did not have any apprehension. Dan said that he had been a swimmer in high school but he had not been in the water in about 10 years. We headed out into the mists. We swam in the general direction of the first buoy. I was going to try and stick close to the others – it would be an easy open water swim. There was no need to push the pace. After a couple of minutes of swimming and looking around we all kind of stopped and tried to get our bearings. It was just Greg, Dan and I – Lance was nowhere to be seen. In the darkness plus the fog we could not see anything. We called for Lance for what seemed like a few minutes – time is very relative when you are treading water in the dark! We finally heard Lance way to the left of us. He yelled that he was at the buoy. We all headed towards the voice. He was probably only 30 or 40 feet from us. We got to the buoy but we were not intact. We had lost Dan. This time we really did call and yell for Dan for a few minutes. We thought he was playing a joke on us and he was going to attack from behind us or something. It started to seem like a bad movie from the 80’s – piranha, alligator or something swamp thing-ish. After a small eternity we heard Dan far in the distance. He said that he had swam almost to the other side of the lake. I was having a good time and playing “Marco – Polo” – it was fun – almost like a swimming hide and go seek or maybe a water scavenger hunt! We made it back to the shore and Dan was humbled by the swim. Not being in the water in so long had deteriorated his swim fitness. I am sure that his swimming skills will resurface in a short time and he will be schooling us! Lance and I went out for another lap in the lake. I ended up swimming for about 30 minutes and had a blast. I think it would be fun to have a midnight showing of one of those movies and then see who is brave enough to swim the lake. It would be great fun!

I thought about the swim later in the day. Last year I would not have even gotten in the water in the dark. I always waited until the sun was a least up a little bit. On this swim I did not feel any apprehension – none - and I think these were pretty challenging conditions. My swim confidence and proficiency have really improved in the last year. Now it is time to work on the speed!

Friday, September 25, 2009

TRACK ON TAP - returns!

The legs were a little bit sore when I met up with the group ride on Thursday morning. It was still dark but we ventured into the black. The darkness requires a good warm up and that is probably for the good of the group. In the summer a warm up would consist of salutations and an easy half mile spin – then someone would drop the hammer. At least this way we get to chew the fat a little more and actually get the blood moving. Lance got to tell the stories of the Olympic race from last weekend. Robin got second in our age group!

Lately, even after the sun has risen we have not been putting in real hard efforts on the bike. There will be a few good pulls and then we back off a bit. My legs were sore – not tired but actually sore from the STADIUMS the prior day but they felt good to be moving. The soreness was not a limiter – it was just noticeable. I rolled into work with 28 miles under my wheels.

I was fine walking around campus and such but whenever I took the stairs the legs let me know it! They felt like they were getting better but I took a flight of stairs down and they screamed to attention. As the morning went on they started to hurt more. At lunch I went to the pool for a little, easy, quick swim. I met Chris there and we did a pathetic more-talk-than-swim 1200 yards. It was fun but the swim did not have much of a purpose. I was still glad I went. I had planned on taking it easy in preparation for the evening TRACK ON TAP. It has been months (May) since the running club has had one.

There was a group of about 10 of us that met at the trail head at 6:30. I brought along my blinkie light from my road bike. It would be dark soon. We debated for a bit about which direction to go – If we went to the west it would end up being about a 6 mile run so we headed east instead. The TRACK ON TAP is generally a monthly occurrence where we set off on foot to various pubs, bars, and taverns. The first stop was the Keg & Barrel. We made our way down Fourth Street along the future Longleaf Trace downtown extension. This was a TRACK ON TAP _ TRAIL EDITION. My legs were killing me – it was almost like a run shuffle but I was fine as long as I did not have to hit any stairs. Jim was there and we were wearing our matching ironman finisher hats – it was fun telling our race stories and listening to everyone else’s. These types of events are what make the running club so much fun!

We were all very careful tonight because it seems like someone always takes a fall - into a ditch or runs into a park bench or just does a face plant on a rough sidewalk. We eventually hit Nick’s Ice House (such a dive) and then the End Zone. I am happy to report that there were no scrapes, falls or incidents on this run. Everyone remained on two feet. Running from campus – all said and done I got about 3.5 miles and not quite twice as many beers.

This was such a fun day – I started in the dark on the bike and ended in the dark on the run (with a swim somewhere in the middle)!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


GPS reading from the STADIUM!

Getting up in the morning now feels like I am getting up in the middle of the night. It is so dark. I drove to work on Wednesday to take the ab BOSU lutely class again. It starts at 6:15AM and it is just too dark at 5:45AM for the bike. Maybe this is the year that I get a decent light! Anyway I did the class again – and it was fun, challenging and full. There was a whole sorority in class. There were about 3 times the people in class as last time. After the class I went for a run with a friend – I was only looking for about 4 miles and she was looking for 5 miles – Yeah – we ended up with a little over 6 miles. It was just a good solid run.

At lunch, we tackled the STADIUM! It has been months since I have been in the stadium. During my ironman training I was just not able to recover very well after one of these sessions. The routine has not changed much – it is still damn hard. We do a nice warm up to the stadium then do as many sets as we can. A set consists of running up the stairs one at a time, then running up the stairs two at a time, then doing lunges up the bleachers. After about 5 sets it starts to get real hard. The fatigue in your legs starts to build. You slow down. I was able to get nine complete sets in 30:15 or so – that is 27 times up the stadium. I had my heart rate monitor on (and GPS just for fun) and I was redlining for a lot of it. By the end my lunges we slow and there was copious amounts of sweat dripping off of me. I would not say that this was EPIC – but it was close. Maybe next week. I will feel this tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cycling intervals

The group was not at Jackson Station on Tuesday morning. Oh well, I decided to get a few miles anyway. I took it slow and easy for about 20 minutes because it was still dark and foggy – no scratch that – it was misty. It has been 100 percent humidity here lately. No I don’t think you understand – when I say 100 percent humidity that is what I mean. Here in South Mississippi 100 percent humidity means that the air is thick – so thick that it is like static rain dispersed with drizzle. You can look out the window and see the sun shining with rain hanging in the air. You cannot walk, much less ride or run, 10 feet without being totally saturated. Put a little bit of eucalyptus in the air and you have a wet sauna. Anyway, it is even worse in the mornings. I cannot wear my glasses and regardless of effort I soon weigh several pounds more due to water weight.

Once the light came out I decided to play with a little bit of speed work on the bike. Not much but I was going to do 1 minute all out efforts followed my 2 minutes of light peddling. It is harder than it sounds. 2 minutes of recovery is plenty of time in the beginning but past about 6 intervals it comes around quick. I completed 9 sets but the last one was not a solid effort – a minute was too long. But, it felt good. The legs were tired but not overwhelmed. I want to get organized and create a real cycling training plan this year. I want to get to the next tier if you will. I was in the 23 MPH range at a couple of races last year (23.9 at the Heart of Dixie – 27.5 miles) and want to pick it up a notch. I want to make my time on the bike more meaningful this year and not just more volume. I enjoy the group rides and the camaraderie but I want the solo stuff to be valuable and come out of the off season bigger and badder.

I just did some simple weight training at lunch – worked on my bench press and called it a day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The response to the hair has been very encouraging! Come on now, Telly, Destro, Professor X !!! What do these people have in common – well, they are all bald and … sexy! That is right bald and sexy. I can live with that for sure.

So I got to test out the hydrodynamics in the pool yesterday. It was an easy nothing swim of 200 yards straight. I was expecting the head to feel funny or neat or something – but not really much at all. Oh well, my times were right on so no complaints. The swim felt good. I really am going to join up with the masters swim class in a week or two and make all of my pool time productive. I mean, I am spending time in the pool and I have made improvements but I think the team environment will benefit me and I hope to see improvements!!!

I am also having second thoughts about a full marathon – I have two schools of thought –

1. I’m not getting any younger – If I want to Boston Qualify I need to make my gains right now!
2. The recovery and time away from making gains in triathlon are huge. Take out the run training and you still have a huge taper and a huge recovery – 6 weeks. I will do better next time but this transition after the ironman has been excoriating.
I could compromise and try to nail a really good half marathon and then decide if I want to pursue the full marathon. I could train for a little speed and still not have to rack up huge mileage in a sub 1:30 (fantasy run) half marathon.

I am starting to get excited.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hair today - gone tomorrow ...

I got a good swim in on Friday afternoon but I am still drifting – undecided – for my next goals. I have determined that I am going to join the Master’s Swim club down a t the YMCA. IT seems like a good program – everyone raves about the coach and I respond pretty well to direction. I am sure just having an experienced set of eyes on my swim technique will benefit me more than just splashing around on my own.

With a triathlon and a century ride within a couple of hours of Hattiesburg I knew that there would not be anyone up for the Saturday group ride. Regardless I set off towards the trail head to see if there were any stragglers. I ran into Pierre again. He is in the French Navy and is stationed at the naval base in Meridian for a couple of years. I met him a few weeks ago and it turns out that we have done many triathlon races together and not realized it. He is pretty quick – always placing in the 20 – 24 age group. We only got 30 miles – I was not looking for much – I just wanted to get out and get a few miles before the rains set in – It has been raining tons here. After the ride I did some much needed yard work, cleaned out the garage and spooned new tires on my training wheels for my race bike. I got a lot of things done that have seemed to pile up – It feels like I have tons of time on the weekends.

I also shaved my head. I have wanted to do this for a very long time and I have just not had the guts to do it! I really thought hard about it before the ironman but did not want to risk sunburn or anything. I did not want to change anything up for race day. It definitely looks different but it is growing on me… Let me know what you think – try to disregard the deer in head lights - looks like I have been beat look.

I got an easy 6.5 mile run in on Sunday morning and ran into Steve P (the postman). He was out on a recovery ride – He had done the century ride the day before and averaged just 20.1 MPH solo. He is training for IMAZ and has really been getting the volume. We chatted for a couple of miles and I turned back towards home. The marathon training plan that I have been looking at has day1 being 3 x 1600m @ 6:12 (1min RI). At mile 5 I decided to pick up the pace to see what was in the tank – is this training plan even possible? I started strong and was able to maintain but the time was not happening. I clicked off the mile at 6:30. That is a far cry from 6:12 much less with two more reps to go. In the spring this would not have been a problem but I guess I am still waiting for my speed. I thought the streamed line dome would have at least given me a few seconds.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Planning stages

After the bike ride yesterday I did end up taking the rest of the day off. I am still trying to be smart and what is the point of ‘two-a-days’ if you do not have an objective. I am sure this thinking will go to the way side next week – but…

This morning I got in a nice and easy 5 mile run. Even though the humidity was high I really enjoyed the run. My rate of perceived exertion has dropped considerably but my heart rate is still just a little high. It was hard keeping it in my cruise / auto-pilot mode. I clicked off 5 miles at just over an 8 minute per mile pace – the pace crept up a little during the last mile – I ran into a neighbor out on the trace and we chatted for a bit at about 8:30 pace. No problems – just a good solid easy run with no aches, pains or difficulties.

I have been thinking about the upcoming season a lot and I really want to approach things the right way. I really want to fine tune my objectives, create a plan and then execute. I believe that next year can be special if I just plan it out. Here are some of the questions I will be asking myself:

1. What do I really want to accomplish?
2. When do I want to reach my goal?
3. Is my goal realistic for me?
4. What am I willing to do (or give up) to successfully accomplish this goal?

These will be important in the coming months. Too often I will create an amalgamation in my mind and want everything – I will recall when I was the strongest, the leanest, the fastest, etc and think that it is possible to achieve all of these metrics simultaneously. Obviously this is not possible but for whatever reason I tend to hold myself to those goals. I should do much better if I truly concentrate on one goal and apply all of my resources to said goal. I am excited about the coming year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Strong pull on the group ride!

On Tuesday I was standing outside the gym at school waiting for the GPS watch to sync up - and some girl came up to me and saw the big watched and asked the time. How funny is that - the biggest damn watch in the world and I do not have the time displayed. I just said sorry- it doesn't do that!

I took Wednesday completely off – completely. When I normally say completely off I mean, maybe a little swimming or some abs or maybe just some strength training. But Wednesday was completely off.

And I feel better for it. I did get up this morning and do the group ride. There is an Olympic distance race this weekend down at the coast (gulf shores) that a few people are doing so the pace was not really pushed. It was super foggy and dark when we left and we had to watch out for debris on the trace. It rained like cats and dogs yesterday evening and there were a couple of limbs down. All of this contributed to an easy ride and that is just what I wanted. I did get a solid pull on one part of the trace for about a mile and I was able to maintain 23 – 24 MPH. I’m starting to feel strong again. I’m going to take it easy still for week or so and then I will be ready to start a build process.

I am so excited about adding some speed work – I have really missed it these past few months!

I watched this video from Endurance Nation regarding an off season marathon and how that is not the best way to gain speed. Interesting stuff (10 minutes). I might have to re-evaluate my off season plans!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recovery feels like a four letter word.

I’m still taking it easy which equals boring! I only did some minor weight training in the gym to reinforce how weak I am – I’m really not down I’m just a little out of my element right now.

I’m ready to jump full force into a new challenge and I am waiting patiently for my body to completely catch up with me. Looking at the big picture – I am willing to ‘sacrifice‘ a few days this week so that I will be whole for the coming training.

Patience grasshopper.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Taking it easy today!

So Monday ended up being a 5 mile run for breakfast and a 4 mile run for lunch – then a little strength training. The runs felt pretty good. I still need to recover a little more before I can jump back into serious training. It is hard for me but I think that I need to take the advice from fellow bloggers Amanda and Missy and sit out for a little while. I understand these things logically but it is so much easier for me to train hard than train smart.

So I slept in this morning – it was hard knowing that there was a group ride outside – Since I live on the trace the group ride literally rides right by my back yard. I would have liked to be out there just chewing the fat and all – there will not be many early morning group rides left this year. The minutes are already ticking away. But, back to recovery – I going to make this a truly easy week and then re-evaluate. At this point there is no way that I can jump into marathon training – not the FIRST program anyway. I think Week 1 / Day 1 is almost out of reach and the plan just escalates from there.

This marathon training plan will be physically and mentally challenging. I am looking forward to it but I do have a little bit if fear. That little bit of fear always seems to motivate me to do better. I like these goals to be just out of reach.

Taking it easy today!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting back to the run...

Okay – it’s been two weeks since the big race. I am just about recovered – I still don’t have a top end but everything else seems to be firing. So, now it is time to stop flapping in the breeze and start to lay down the ground work for next season. First I need to solidify my goals. They seem to be run dominate right now which is a good thing – I would really like for my run to come around like my bike and swim (don’t get me wrong – I need the bike and swim to continue to improve but the run needs a kick start). I got literally chased down on a couple of runs this year in triathlons. I watched Mike and Robin pull away from me in the Heat Wave and if the Sunfish would have been a 2 mile run and not a 5k I would have had Robin.

So the big goals are a sub-19 minute 5K sometime early next year – the races that are easiest to PR are the ones on the Longleaf Trace in February and March (Run for Love and St Patrick’s Irish Italian Festival) – I think I was 19:19 and 19:09 respectively last year). Also the Mardi Gras Marathon is in, obviously, February. I checked the Run less Run Faster book out and damn the runs are challenging from week one.

I don’t remember exactly but the first set of intervals are mile repeats at just over 6:00 minutes per mile, the first tempo is around 2 miles at 12:30 and the first long run is 8:00 minute miles for 13 or 14 miles. Talk about jumping head first into the training plan. Last Friday I ran 4 miles for breakfast and 4 miles for lunch – all at between 7:30 and 8:00 minutes per mile. They were comfortably challenging.

On Saturday I jumped on the early group ride and got 25 miles. I did not want the full 40 miles that they were getting. It was not a no holds barred ride but I was working hard to not get dropped. That would not have happened pre-Ironman – still recovering I guess. On Sunday I suited up for the afternoon group ride but as soon as I got outside the sky opened up and filled my eyes and ears with lightning and thunder – I 86’ed the ride to say the least.

This morning I did get in a 5 miler with about 100 percent humidity. I really tried to keep the exertion level low – my heart rate has been too high for the last few runs – the pace has not been fast but the heart rate has been high. I kept it low and disregarded the pace. I am slowly recovering. It is not like I am down and out I just still don’t have my snap. I’m not sure if it would be better to take a couple of days of complete rest or to continue with the active recovery – I just know that I am ready mentally to jump back into a serious training plan but do not think that my body is ready for sustained hard efforts.

On a side note, at beer club last night, I think I have a taker for the milk challenge (you have an hour to drink a gallon of milk and then you must keep said gallon down for 1 hour) – The poor sap thinks it will be easy – he says he loves milk – wow. That is a set up for disaster. I still think that I can be successful – I have been so close once before – within about 10 minutes of ‘keeping it down’. We will make a go of it again real soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sore as can be - strength training 101

The recovery and goal planning are coming along swimmingly. The fatigue is starting to lift - the legs still feel fine but they do not have that extra oomph – the top end is still gone. I went for an easy bike ride on Thursday morning and got to chat with Steve C. The ride was nothing hard but I enjoyed a good talk about the upcoming year. Nice and easy – I will get back to the hard stuff soon enough.

I have hit the strength training full force this week and I am sore as hell for it! My back, chest, arms and core are feeling the pain. I love it. I have really missed the strength training and would like to dedicate some serious time during this ‘off-season’. I would like to make some real gains. Then hit the endurance full force and see where it takes me.

My immediate running goals are two-fold and a little counterproductive. I would like to be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon by 2011 (sub-3:15) as well as PR in the 5k (18:xx). They are both running goals but they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I would also like to thank Tri Diesel for the Ironman bragging tips – I got to use one yesterday in the gym with my buddies. I have not done a bench press in a couple of months and I feel pretty weak in the upper body right now. I had just finished a rather pathetic set of 12 and I had to remark – “Had I known that I was going to lose 50 pounds in my bench press I’m not sure if I would have done an Ironman in 11:18.” It was appreciated by all!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still recovering

I’m still getting up early but I am not getting the 6 – 8 mile runs in or the 28 mile bike rides in before work. My legs feel fine – no aches or pains. On Wednesday I did a workout class up at the Payne Center – Ab – BOSU – lutely and then did a short swim. The abs workout was good. It incorporated all of my usual core workout but when we got to the ‘bicycles’ and leg lifts – that is where I could tell that the legs are still fatigued. I can normally do the bicycle like nobody’s business but man were they tough.

The abs survived the 30 minute class but the legs did not. In the pool I just went through the paces. Nothing much but it felt good. It was an easy swim just too fill up the hour of exercise.

Later that night I did start to feel the abs – they were tight and sore. Also, from the little bit of strength training that I did on Tuesday the back was lit up all night. This is a good muscle soreness that I welcome. I am excited about the strength training this fall. Strength training is really an area that I enjoy but I had to let it go most of the spring and all of the summer. I was just not recovering after the ironman training sessions. It is time to drop some body fat and put some mass on – maybe. I have such trouble putting on mass. It is funny, I can gain strength pretty easily but the mass just does not develop.

I am getting excited to run a bit more this fall. This is the area that improved the least since last year – don’t get me wrong – it did improve but the swimming and cycling improved more.

Back to the recovery front – I am feeling better – in fact I do not feel bad at all – I am not tired or fatigued or sore – but I have been going to bed a little earlier. I think my body just needs the rest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FIRST recovery then FIRST runnning

So in the last week I have swam twice and ridden the bike 3 times. My legs have just not been responding like I have wanted. They feel fine but there is just no spring – no get up and go. So on Tuesday morning I went for a 5 mile run. I pushed the pace. This was a ‘pretty’ hard effort but the pace was closer to a comfortable effort. It was difficult to maintain an 8 minute per mile pace (not insurmountable but difficult). A week or two prior to the ironman I was able to click off 6 miles in 42 minutes under similar effort. In addition, I have been about to hover around 7 minutes per mile on most of my short distance triathlons.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there will be a recovery period; it is just that my legs and body feel fine. I am just not responding to the effort. It would be different if I was walking around on hurt legs and unable to walk up / down stairs. I would understand. But feeling fine and just not performing where I would like to is another matter.

I will just have to wait it out until I am back on my game. I have some 5k goals that I would like to achieve (I was knocking on the 18’s back in March – 19:09 and really want to see 18:xx).

Also, I would like to start putting together a Boston Marathon qualifying time. This will be a real challenge for me. Running a sub-3:15 – I am not anywhere near that but maybe with some hard work and a little bit of luck I can pull it off.

I have been looking at various training plans and I really like the FIRST program (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training). I read the book Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary FIRST Training Program (Runners World) last fall and put some of the training to use for a ½ marathon. The program is challenging and it is based on 3 purposeful runs a week (basically – intervals, tempos, and long runs). By purposeful they mean HARD. No garbage miles. In addition it seems to be based on a run dominate triathlon program since your non-running days are filled with cross training (i.e. biking and swimming). I was able to do most of the workouts last year with the tempo runs being the hardest. Tempo runs have always been my shortcoming. It is hard for me to ride that edge – I have always thought that I lack a little mental toughness at those edges. I guess it is time to put it to the test.

I may not have time to put together a run for Boston this fall but there is always the Mardi Gras Marathon in February. But first I have to get my legs back under me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recovery and everyone gets a minute

I gave my legs a couple of days off following the ironman. In fact there was no activity on Monday (10 hour drive back to Mississippi) or Tuesday. On Wednesday I went and splashed around in the pool for an easy 1500 yards. My legs were definitely tired after the race but nut achy or anything. They did not really hurt walking up and down stairs and such. They were, however, sore to the touch. If I pressed on my quads – ouch – they were tender. This tenderness went away by Thursday and I did the morning group ride. Although my legs did not hurt - this ride was taxing. My legs just did not seem to have any snap. They were still just very tired. On Friday I hit the pool and just cruised for 2500 yards in just over 40 minutes. It was a pretty good pace for me and it felt easy – water jogging again. I hooked up with a couple of guys for a 40 something mile ride on Saturday and then another 30 miles on Sunday. I have not yet. The legs still do not have that snap but they should be coming around soon. I also guess I am still a little tired. On Sunday night I was exhausted and took a late afternoon nap of about 2 hours then hit the sack and slept all night. I have not felt spent or run down but I normally don’t take naps. I guess that the body needed it.

On the ironman front, they have revised the times. Apparently the time clock for the run was not synced with the start clock and everyone got a minute. So my official time is now 11:18:14. The minute was subtracted from the marathon so I guess I ran / walked a 4:01:xx. So close to sub 4 hours. On a side note, I can’t believe that I forgot to mention it, the inspiration board during the run. There must have been a mishap because both times that I ran across the mat my message was:

Way to go Poo Bear – from pawpaw…

I hope that I did not steal anyone’s thunder. It just made me smile.

I am currently evaluating my next goals. I am not sure what it will be. I am thinking a Boston qualifying marathon time would be a lofty goal (3:15). I can run 7 minute miles for a half but for the whole thing that is a different story. I am also thinking about an Xterra (off-road triathlon) or something even though I do not yet own a mountain bike or have those mountain biking skills. Trail running also looks cool. There is a 20k, 50k, 50 mile trial run here in Mississippi in the spring. I am also considering joining the masters swim class at the YMCA. I have heard such positive stuff from a few of the team members and now that I am getting proficient I could really work on the speed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ironman Louisville Race Report - Run

I ran in my bike shoes down the side of the transition area. I had been needing to pee for about 20 miles. I yelled my race number to the volunteers. I ran towards the volunteer who had my bag except it was not my bag. It was close but no cigar. She asked me my name and it did not match the bag. She started to apologize profusely. I just pointed to the number written on my arm and said, “Don’t worry about it – It’s not a big deal.” The exchange took only a few more seconds and I was in the changing tent.

This would be another full Monty change. I was going to ditch my cycling jersey and shorts and don another unitard. I had found in my training during the hot humid Southern Mississippi summer that my regular running shorts would get saturated – soaking wet. Then I could / would start to develop some chaffing issues. So it would be another unitard that has tight, but not really compression, legs. I pulled off my cycling jersey with the pockets still full of gels, bars and tire changing equipment. The shirt weighed a ton! Next the shoes and shorts came off. I put the unitard on all the way and then socks and running shoes. But as I ran to exit the tent I pulled the unitard back off of my upper body. I wanted to get a layer of sun screen on my arms and neck – but even more important I still needed to pee!

Just out of the water.

I ran out of the tent and the volunteer pointed me to the left to exit the transition. I pointed and ran right straight to the port-a-loo’s. No lines again and I was in and out in a flash – although it felt like several minutes. As I exited the port-a-loo there was another volunteer pointing me towards the transition exit – I told her I needed to grab my watch from my bike. I ran the 10 or 15 rows to my bike and unhooked my GPS watch. I finally ran towards the exit that all of the volunteers had been pointing me too. I had my GPS watch in my hand and asked yet another volunteer to buckle it on my right hand (I still was going to be wearing my Heart Rate monitor on my left arm). Yes I was double watching it today!

I crossed the timing mat at the transition exit and hit the lap button. I had thought that I had set the watch up for ‘multi-sport’ mode but it was still on cycling mode. It would take me a minute or two to fix the settings (while running) and get it to display the correct running mode. I had set the watch up to help facilitate the run / walk plan. The watch was divided into 4 segments to show the current lap (so I could easily see how long I had been walking), the average pace for the run, the total distance for the run, and finally the total time for the run. I also still had the heart rate monitor displaying the elapsed time for the race as well as my heart rate. Some might say information overload – But I tried to use all of the information to execute my plan.

T2: 6:55

Start of the bike.

Enjoying a pop tart.

Hard climb up a hill.

I started the run with my legs obviously feeling tired but nothing major. The crowd at the transition exit was huge and I ran what felt like a comfortable pace. I looked at my heart rate and it was dead in the middle of my ‘Long Slow Distance’ training run paces. I felt like I could push much harder but I was dedicated to the plan! The run started us out towards downtown and then up and across a bridge. I was chatting with another runner and we talked about some goal times for the day – he wanted somewhere in the 11’s. I was still hoping for something around 12. We were running the same pace as we turned back across the bridge.

Leaving the bridge.

Then my watch beeped to indicate a mile had been run. Actually since I had to restart this segment on the watch I had ran about 1.35 miles. I shut the run down and started a fast walk. Someone behind me asked me what my strategy was and I explained the whole save the legs for later in the race by walking one minute per mile. I then took off again. The timing of my walks was way off of the locations of the aid stations. I thought about resetting the distance on the watch to better sync with the water stops but I thought that it might confuse me a little later in the race – I can get a little loopy when I have depleted my glycogen stores. So I walked a minute the first mile and then walked a few second for the first aid station. I took some Gatorade and a gel. Back to the run. I was going to work the plan without exception for the first 5 miles and then evaluate how I was feeling. While my body was a ‘little’ tired I was feeling good. It was still early in the run but the walk breaks were fantastic. I remember several long runs in the heat of the day where you get up high in mileage and you HAVE TO STOP. I would feel defected – almost broken. It is always hard to get going again. With this run / walk method it felt like I was in so much more control. The watch would beep – I felt good enough that I could keep running – but it was time for a fast walking break. I felt like I could do this all day. It never got unmanageable. I was also running in the same pack of people. They would pull away from me during the walk portion but I would just about catch back up to them. I was running faster than they were when I was running.

At about the mile 10 or 11 mark I was starting to pass more people (since it was 2 loops these people could have been twice the distance of me but looking at the athletes it did not appear that way). People were starting to suffer while I still felt pretty good. I came up on my special needs back and decided to take it – once again I did not really know what to put in the bag. I ended up putting another one of those super energy drink cans (I still have never had one), some cookies, a clean, dry pair of socks in a zip lock bag and a small bottle of ibuprofen. I really did not need to change my socks – I had feared that they would be soaking wet like they get in Mississippi. Anyway, shortly after the bag pickup there was a park bench and I sat down to change my socks. I guess I am a little cheap and I did not want to throw away a good pair of running socks so I put the dirties in the zip lock bag and stuffed then in my back pocket. I also put the bottle of ibuprofen in the pocket. I left the energy drink on the park bench and threw the cookies away. This quick change cost just a couple of minutes. The clean dry socks actually did not feel as good as the ones that I had been wearing but this would prove to not be an issue.

Speed Graph of the run.

The bottle of pills in my back pocket sounded like a metronome. Click, click, click. It was keeping rhythm for me. Every time I would pass someone they would look at me. One person asked me it the sound was driving me nuts – it was driving them nuts! I said not really – it was actually kind of keeping me on pace. We were not running next to each other for very long so it would not bug them much. I had been watching my average pace slowly creep up the entire run. I hated to see it climb from an unsustainable low 8 minute per mile to just over 9 minutes per mile. I tried, with my mind, more than my body to keep the pace in the high 8’s but I was not willing to risk 10’s of minutes at the end of the run to obtain this mid race goal.

Amount of walk time.

Finishing the first loop was a tease. You got within about 100 yards of the finishing shoot and had to make a sharp right to start the final leg of this Ironman. It was nice to know that there were only about 11 or 12 miles left. It was daunting to realize that there were still 11 or 12 miles left. I have never run a marathon – in fact I think my longest run this year was 18 miles – I ran that once about a month before the race. I am a runner at heart and I did run countless 12 – 15 mile runs and bricks but never anything over 18 this year (in years past I have ran 20 – 22 mile runs on occasion – just being stupid). But the run walk was still working for me. At about mile 20 I realized that all of my goals were going to be met for this race – if I stayed on target. 10k is still a long ways to go when you have more than 10 hours on your feet. But this is where I thought about breaking 4 hours in this Ironman marathon. This should not be happening – this was not in the plan – this should not be possible. I tried to pick the pace up a little and it wasn’t picking up. The only other alternative was to lengthen the run segments (there was no way that I was going to decrease the walk). I was now running about a mile and half between breaks. This was working – my legs were tired but they were still falling one right in front of the other. I tried - I really did - to run the entire last five miles but I could not will myself to do it. I think this was more mental fatigue than physical fatigue. I walked again at the 5k mark and also took a small walk with 2 miles to go. I was doing the math in my head and if I could just finish the run with 9 minute miles I could get the sub-4hour done. It was not going to happen – too little – too late. I came up upon the second loop / finishers shoot again. The volunteer made sure that I knew that I needed to be on my second loop before going straight. I assured him that I was finishing this race – I had the miles! The shoot was lined with so many people. It was a spectacle. I was relieved more than excited about finishing, however, I allowed myself to embrace the moment. As I neared the finish I pumped my arm in the air to mark the event. I was now an Ironman – I barely heard Mike Reilly but I knew he said it. I crossed the finish line and stumbled a little bit and the volunteers, the catchers, held me up, threw a solar blanket across me and put the finisher’s medal around my neck. They were so supportive – they made you feel like a million bucks.

RUN: 4:02:40 (9:15/mile)

TOTAL TIME: 11:19:14

After finishing I was a bit lost. I never saw Jodie and went through the paces of getting my finishers shirt, hat and picture taken. I saw Jodie at the end of the shoot and she was snapping some pictures. I was so glad to see her. I really wanted to share this with her. To err on the side of caution she wanted me to be checked out at the medial tent. I was feeling fine but why not. If they thought that I needed an IV or something then I would take it. It turns out that I was just fine – no problems. The DR did suggest sitting down for a few minutes and maybe getting a massage. No complaints here!

I went and got a massage, there was no waiting and then grabbed a piece of pizza. I was really not hungry at all. Although I was not bloated I felt like I had been eating all day. After the pizza I wanted a bagel with jelly. This let me know how tender my mouth was, I presume from all of the salt and sugars. I had to throw the bagel away – it felt like sand paper. This Ironman has been an awesome experience.

I started this blog exactly one year ago today. At that time I wrote that I had never swum 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, or ran 26.2 miles – much less in one day. Now I can say that I have achieved all of those distances and I am an IRONMAN.

I would like to thank the many friends, family, and bloggers who have offered advice and encouragement over this past year. The since of community has been wonderful and I appreciate all of you!

Now I finally get to take that 140.6 sticker off of my night stand and put it on my car.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ironman Louisville - Race Report - BIKE

Okay, I was just out of the water with a pretty good time - not super fast but within my goal time (it was a faster pace than my ½ ironman in New Orleans). I changed clothes completely in the tent. It was crowded – not standing room only or anything but there was a lot of people in all forms of undress. I ran out of the tent, got sun screened and got to my bike. As I was putting all of my junk in my cycling jersey pockets (pounds of pop tarts, a few gels and my flat kit) I turned my GPS watch on – I had it mounted in-between my aero bars. I had debated with myself a lot over the past week about what electronic devices to take. I was really worried about the GPS giving out late in the run – the battery is only supposed to be about 10 hours. This would be cutting it close. So I ended up wearing my regular heart rate monitor for the entire race and I turned off the heart rate function on the GPS to maybe help save the battery.

So I was running out of transition with a black cookies and cream pop tart literally rammed in my mouth. My mouth was so full that I couldn’t really shut it. I imagined black coal dust being blowing out of my gaping mouth as I ran. In training the nutritionally void but highly available carbohydrates of the pop tarts worked well. What I did not remember was that I always stopped on the bike and ate the pop tarts. Eating solid food is not nearly as easy to do when in a race situation. Anyway, I started the bike ride feeling fresh with black teeth grinning through a huge smile – the swim was over and the bike had begun.

Driving the bike course with Jim the day before was so valuable. In races it is always difficult not know what to expect – what turns you can take fast – where you need to be careful, etc. I knew that there was a large hill once you got out of Louisville and I was ready for it. There were no doubts in my mind – I was going to drop down in my lowest gear possible and just spin up the hill. Trying to keep my heart rate in range on these hills was going to be difficult. There were so many steep hills – steep by anyone’s standards but especially steep by my South Mississippi standards. There was one dog leg on the out section that you only had to do once – this was probably the most challenging portion of the bike. I really wished that I had a video camera on my bike. It was a very fast and winding decent then straight up the other side of the hollow. You zipped past bikes laboring up one side and then you got to see bikes going at break neck speeds while you were climbing at single digit speeds. The road was simply beautiful. I do remember seeing a medical tent at the bottom of the decent with back boards and such – I really hope that they were not needed. I think Ryan, from caught on the run, yelled at me as he flew down the road. I just saw a white flash. Ryan was successful this race in getting a much coveted Kona slot!

After this dog leg was complete it was a relief to know that it did not have to be done again. I was continuing to take fluids and each aid station and knew that I would have to pee soon. Going into La Grange there was a huge aid station with facilities. There would be no peeing on the bike. I pulled into the parking lot and they had a bike rack. I racked my bike and flew into the port-o-loo. There was no waiting. After my business, which seemed to take forever, I grabbed about 4 gels and water from the volunteers. The pop tarts were not going to be successful for this day. I did manage to cram down another one, a maple and brown sugar one, but I was not going to be able to maintain the 2 an hour plan that I had hoped for. The crowd support was building in the town and I flew through it at a decent pace. It was a lot of fun seeing so many people. I knew from Jim that it would be short lived and then back into the country side. At the next turn we would be only on what is best described as a two-way one lane road. There was a sign as you turned telling you so slow down and be cautious. I remember reading the sign, scrubbing off what speed I had, and then starting one of the steepest climbs on the race. I had to drop down in low-low gear again and stand in the saddle to complete the short but steep climb. At the next turn I saw Missy and her crew cheering and having a great time. They looked like they were having so much fun! It put a big smile on my face. Back on a main road I knew that the first loop was nearing completion and I was feeling good. I had been working my plan – keeping my heart rate in check and even on the climbs my heart rate was never getting completely out of whack. It maybe got in the ‘yellow zone’ a few times but never up into the ‘RED zone’. This is a good thing. I was riding conservatively and I did not want my run to suffer – okay, the heck with the run – I did not want to suffer!

The second loop through La Grange went well – I was alternating water and Gatorade at each aid station and this is when I decided to ditch my 3 pounds of pop tarts. I was not eating them anyway and they were just dead, nutritionally void, weight. I was winging my nutrition at this point but I was feeling good – I was really hoping that this would not come back and bite me in the end. I know that a poor nutrition plan can and will sink anyone’s day – no matter what a Hoss they might be! Every time I looked at my time I would add ten minutes to the clock and take another gel. I was not getting hungry, I had already peed, and I was continuing to take fluids. This might just work out – if the temperature had been hotter I might have been in trouble – but not today.

They had the special needs (special foods) pick up during the loop. I had debated a lot about what to put in these bags. I did not really have any foods that I just had to have or any ‘special’ nutrition or anything. I went to the grocery store the day before and walked up and down the aisles looking for something, anything. I bought an energy drink – one of those crank or monster or whatever they are – I have never drunk one of these ever. But I felt if I was having a tough day then this might be helpful – yes, you should never try anything new on race day, but... I also threw in an extra tube and CO2 cartridges just in case I flatted early. That was really not a bad idea – I saw tons of flats on the course and there were rumors that some disgruntled citizen had placed some upholstery tacks on the road. I was fortunate that I did not have any mechanical issues – no flats for me! And I was feeling good enough that I did not pick up the special needs bag. I’m glad I did not need it!

During the second loop I happened to cross paths with Jim. He was looking great and riding his race. We chatted for a few minutes and then I was off. I was wrapping up the loop and headed back to town. There was a large gap between the last two aid stations – something like 20 miles - so I chugged some water and grabbed another Gatorade. I was starting to need to pee again but there was a line at the port-a-loos and I was not willing to wait. It was time to call upon the Iron Bladder. The ride back into town, I knew that there was only one long climb, was comforting. I got passed but a guy with 8 miles to go who joked that he only had 8 miles left in him on the bike. He was ready to get of the bike. I joked back at him - that in 9 miles he would wish that he was back on the bike. This last section was the only section that I was able to really just sit in the zone and churn out the miles. Everything else had been so up and down that it was hard to get in a rhythm. You were either climbing or descending but flat level ground seemed few and far between.

The decision to wear the full, long-distance, bike shorts was a good one. Although not without discomfort it could have been much worse. This is where the climbing and paid off – I was out of the saddle enough to relieve any built up pressure and such.

I flew towards T2, hit the lap button on my GPS and started to run with my bike to the bike racks – a volunteer grabbed my bike from me – they would be re-raking the bike. I was not expecting that – my GPS watch that I wanted for the run was still attached!

BIKE TIME: 5:48:00