My Half Ironman Training Strategy #IMNOLA

Someone asked me the other day if I was taking a break from Crushing Iron, and I suppose the answer is . . . maybe.  I have been struggling with training and along with that comes an apprehension to write.  But my battles with workouts aren’t so much that I “can’t” do them as much as I’m curious to know how little I can get away with.

Lately, my training has been pretty unique and someday soon I’ll fill you in on the methodology, but for now, let’s just say, “I’m kinda doing what I want.”

While training for IRONMAN Wisconsin, I worked out nearly every day for a year.  I was crippled by guilt if I didn’t.  For this half, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  I am routinely skipping days and frankly don’t feel that bad about it.

And it’s not like I think the race will crush me, either.  In fact, I’m right on the edge of believing I may actually do pretty well.  I’m doing “just enough” to keep my head in the game and am very intrigued to find out if that is enough.

In some ways I’m trying to save my career as a triathlete.  I did very well in my first Ironman, but it beat me up.  The mental high was off the charts, but it crashed on me pretty hard.  The physical remnants of exhaustion are still lingering.

But occasionally, I find a groove, like last night.

I have been going into my workouts with a different perspective.  I set the bar low, then gauge how I feel after 30 minutes or so.  Last night I should have probably biked, but it was nice and I felt like running.  I punched my watch and started jogging into the greenway for a 5-6 mile run.

Every inch after the three mile point was pushing me over six miles, but I was feeling good and stretched my turnaround point to 3.5.  Then, four, then . . . I was in no man’s land.

From my house the end of the greenway is 4.5 miles, then I can take a shorter route back home to make it a 7 mile run, but that didn’t seem like enough.  I kept going into the park and added another couple miles.  Around an hour and fifteen minutes into the run, my watch flipped to 9 miles.  It was unbelievable.

If I had planned for 9 miles I doubt I would have made it, but I was totally going by feel.  I wasn’t forcing anything and it was honestly one of the best runs I’ve had in my life.  Normally I am limping at the 7-8 mile mark, but last night not a part of me was even the least bit sore.  I thought about going for the half marathon, but decided to walk away on top.

How often do we do that in Ironman training?  Leave the pool, climb off the bike, or walk away from a run when we feel good?  For me it was rare, but I think it might be the only way I will keep training for triathlon.

So, as I close in on NOLA, let’s hope this strategy is working.  I don’t expect it to be a masterpiece of a race, but have a more important goal . . . to enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

Triathlon and March Madness

My March Madness started last Friday morning in Indianapolis at the Big 10 Tournament.  I left Nashville at 4:30 am and drove north 5 hours to meet my college buddy, Petey, who drives 5 hours south.  It’s quite the reunion.

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We checked into the Wisconsin Badgers home hotel and quickly sold our afternoon session tickets before noon.  I was on a taper for the St. Patty’s Day 4 Miler on Saturday, so after lunch I took a nap.  Around 5:00 we saw Bo Ryan’s Badgers off from the Lobby and walked to the arena Minnesota beat down.  We stayed for part of Michigan State/Northwestern, but the Iowa fans sitting next to us were a little salty, so we left at halftime.

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball

After the big win we went back to the hotel and rubbed shoulders with all the Wisconsin big shots, including Henry the trainer, several of the player’s parents, legendary Wisconsin band director, Mike Leckrone, and the Emperor, Barry Alvarez.  The mood was optimistic, but I couldn’t get the next morning’s 4 Miler out of my head.

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The race was at 10 am, and Petey and I dragged our old man legs to Monument Circle around 9:15.  I grabbed my bib, then photo bombed a few of my own pictures.  (That’s me in the lower left hand corner).

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Quite simply, I wasn’t feeling it.  Driving so far, staying up late, and losing my juicing rhythm all took away my legs.  I still managed a 30:10 four mile run and finished in (what appears to be) the top 3 of my age group and 108th out of 1448 total runners.

After lunch we went to Wisconsin game and they got punked by MSU.  It was a bit deflating but as I watched that game I thought Michigan State looked like the best team in the country, and apparently am not alone.

Things weren’t quite as festive back at the hotel, and the team flew back to Madison at 9 o’clock. We cheered them off to the plane, then settled down with big time season ticket holder, G-Dogg.

The Big Ten 5K was looming for me in the morning and I once again missed my bedtime.  It was a 10 am race (pretty late starts for both days and likely why I signed up) and the weather had gone from perfect on Saturday to 25 degrees for Sunday’s race.

I checked in, warmed up a little, then took off through the streets of Indianapolis just like I did two years earlier in my first ever 5k.  I was hoping for sub 22 minutes, but by mile 2, I knew that was a pipe dream.

The first mile was 7:30, the second 7:10, but then we hit a gale force wind.  The kind of wind that makes your eyes water and forces you to lean forward or you won’t move.  I could barely keep mile 3 under an 8 minute pace and wound up crossing the tape at 23:21 for 4th in my age group and 83rd out of 592 runners.  My pace for the 4 miler and the 5K were almost identical at about 7:30.

I don’t want to say I’m disappointed, but it makes me wonder if an 8 minute pace goal for the run at New Orleans 70.3 is realistic.  But, if Wisconsin gets to the Final Four, I’ll guarantee sub 1:45 for the 1/2 marathon.

 

Triathlon Nightmares

In my final stages of sleep this morning I was swallowed by the triathlon equivalent of oversleeping a test in college.  I woke up in cold sweat and a state of panic before focusing on breath to bring my heart rate down.

For some reason, I was dreaming about Rev 3 Knoxville, which is still two months away.  I didn’t oversleep the race, but after finishing the swim staggered into transition to the realization that I forgot my bike in the hotel room.

Madness surrounded me and I was the guy standing in everyone’s way with his hands in the air.  No one seemed to care about my dilemma or even think about offering me their bike.

But I was determined to save my race and dug through my bag, grabbed the hotel key and sprinted out of the parking garage.

Next thing I know, I’m running barefoot through downtown Knoxville in my wetsuit with guys in pick-up trucks calling me out-of-water-white-trash.  I kept my eyes on the road and screamed, “Tell me something I don’t know!”  They all laughed with no teeth.

As I got to the revolving front door, a woman in a wheel chair squeezed in ahead of me.  I waited patiently as the spinning glass spilled me into hotel lobby.  I bypassed the elevator and ran up stairs to the fourth floor but my room key didn’t work.  I flagged down a maid who approached with caution then hesitantly let me in.

The race clock was ticking and it took thirty five minutes to get to my bike.  Sweat poured from my body as I sat on the bed and wondered if I would wind up with two T1 splits.  I held my tire pump, looked at my bike, then stared out the window with the realization that my race was over.  All those training hours for naught.

I casually stripped my wetsuit, reclined onto the bed then drifted back to sleep with my first DNF.

My First 5k, Two Years Later

It’s hard to believe, but my first 5k was two years ago.  I was talked into a Couch to 5K program by my buddy, Jim, and the race we were training for for was supposed to be a week later.  But I was in Indianapolis watching a basketball tournament and decided to test my luck with the Big Ten 5K.

Now, if you follow this blog, you know I am a huge Badger fan, so when I slid into my cut-off sleeve Wisconsin t-shirt I had a little extra boost.  The problem was, not only was this my first 5k, I had been drinking the entire day before, well into the night.

It was actually quite comical when I strolled up to the registration table.  I had no clue what the hell I was doing and was increasingly nervous about my decision.  I stammered around with other runners and inconspicuously slid into an organized pre-race stretch.  I was alone and felt it, but as I peered around at my fellow runners, I sensed these would be my people for the next couple years.

The beer poured out of me as I laid on the ground touching my toes.  I was a little bit of a mess and felt like a nap may be a better choice than running my first endurance race.  Minutes later I stood in the pen with a thousand other runners waiting for the start.  When the horn went off I surrendered to the massive flow and a timing chip with my name attached clicked off for the first time.

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I lumbered through the streets of Indianapolis searching wildly for my breath.  I wasn’t wearing a watch and had no concept of distance.  It was a thundering blow to my ego when I was anticipating the finish line and instead crept up on the first mile marker.

I struggled mightily, but eventually saw a big “3” and let out a sigh of relief.  But that’s when I realized point-one miles is longer than I thought.  Eventually I finished, but it was everything I had to cross the line that day.

Now, two years later, a Full Ironman under my belt, I will drive north on I-65 to watch my Badgers and take another shot at my first 5K.  It will be nowhere near as daunting, but it will be just as hard.

Dry Creek Trail 1/2 Marathon Part 2

Since penning Part One of my Dry Creek Race Report on the back of tree bark, it has occurred to me that I left out some valuable information.  While my wildly personal experience was noteworthy, I should have realized others may have been looking for more pertinent information, so I thought I would give a deeper analysis of the running experience.

First off, Race Director, Season Kaminski had this thing humming from the minute you got there.  It was super organized, the start line was clearly visible, and her speech on which flags to follow in the woods was spot on, not to mention loaded with trail humor!

Secondly, there was a nice downhill-ish first 3 miles.  This was mostly “roads” and ended with a not-so-nice and very steep downhill segment that was covered with leaves.  It was also my favorite part of the course.

My next favorite part came right after that downhill.  It was a nice roll through a meadow that was flat and should have signaled me of the doom that lie ahead.  But, of course I was daydreaming.

The hill that followed the meadow was unconscionable.  They claim just over a mile, but the subsequent rollers turned that climb into about three miles.  Not gonna lie, it was tough, and as my boy, Wasky, would say, “Legit.”

Listen, at the top of that long climb, nothing is more welcome than a friendly face, and that’s when I saw team photographer, and fastest Wasky, Carolyn unleashing her photographic excellence.  I smiled, laughed, and cried as I limped back into the village.

This is where the race started and hundreds . . . err . . . dozens of thirsty fans raised the roof for my arrival.  Humbled, inspired, and somewhat relieved, I moved on to the deadly Final Six.

“Rock and Roll” might be the headline for this stretch.  Lots of rocks and lots of rollers.  By mile eight, my legs were fried.  My hip was screaming bloody murder, so I settled into the Ironman-shuffle for the next mile or so, then aired it out only to hear the same song from my hip.  “Uh, dude, kinda hurtin down here.”

Yeah, but races with 700 feet of gain are going to make you hurt . . . especially if you’re not ready for them.  Which I wasn’t, but sorta was because I finished.  What bummed me most is that I never really had my breath right or find a groove with my stride, but I suppose both are more common on trails.

In all it was a memorable experience and the weather was perfect.  The food that waited for famished hurdlers was dished out by Nashville Running Company Kingpin, Lee Wilson, in an endless buffet of steaming goodness.

Runners are a different breed, but trail runners take the family tree to an entirely new limb.  They are duly committed to pain and seek it at all costs.  It was a pleasure to be in their company.

Making Some Changes to Crushing Iron

If you’ve noticed some wackiness lately it’s because I’m migrating my site to a new server, and frankly, it’s testing my nerves.  But, truthfully, it’s going to be for the best as soon as I can get everything cleaned up.

I’m still “training” for New Orleans and have been sifting through some creative workout plans with a buddy.  As soon as we dial things in I’ll let you know what’s going on, but I can tell you this much, it is a completely new take on how to train for Ironman.

I”m also learning a lot more about website design and back end techniques (this has nothing to do with Chammy Butter) like this little embedded tweet from a guy with an online newspaper that featured one of my posts.  It’s a live tweet, so feel free to comment, favorite, or retweet right from here.