The Story Behind IM Chattanooga Training

Most of my training for Ironman Chattanooga was of the meandering sort.  I didn’t really have a schedule and more or less did what I was feeling on the day.  But about 6 weeks out, I started getting nervous.  That’s when I sent a random tweet to pro triathlete, Jim Lubinski.

I’d been thinking about doing some pro-interviews for Crushing Iron while at Chattanooga, so I asked Jim if he’d be up for it.  He replied with a “Hell yeah!”

He’s also a coach, and after a couple emails, I decided to ask him if he had any interest in “guiding me into Chattanooga.”  I told him I was loosely eyeing Kona and he was all about it.

He asked a bunch of questions about my current fitness, then put together the first week’s plan. One of the things I mentioned was that I was not a fan of super long bike rides, so he said he’d keep that in mind.

I also told him I didn’t use a power meter or heart rate monitor (which I’m sure was great for a coach to hear) so he was forced to use intuition based on my feedback, and if you read my blog, you know my mind can be a little murky.

He was patient, smart, and crafted a plan that gave a lot of bang in a short period.  The workouts were purposeful and I found myself doing a lot of relatively short (2.5 max) trainer rides with power or intensity. They were almost always followed by a run off the bike.

Slowly, my belief came back and I was feeling confident about Chattanooga.  I wasn’t sure if I could get to Kona, but knew if everything fell right, I could be in the ballpark.

Jim had me on a great plan, and I followed most of it to the letter.

One place I slacked was in the pool.  Jim laid out some pretty intense workouts, but I couldn’t rise to the occasion.  I kind of went through the motions in the water, mainly because I was anticipating an “easy” downstream swim.  What I got was a much slower current and by taking the swim for granted, I burned way too much energy in the water.

My longest bike ride of the year was 67 miles.  Chattanooga was 116.  Probably not the best idea.

I’m sure Jim would have beefed up the bike a little, but I was at a point where I was more interested in being “ready” than burned out.  His trainer workouts all included form, technique and mental training.  I built an astonishing amount of confidence in 4 weeks.

I raced the bike on perceived effort and used his race-day-strategy to turn in a 15 minute PR (5:45) on a course 4-miles longer.  There were several things he told me during training that kept me right in the pocket and while I knew I was out of Kona contention at that point, I was ready to tackle the run.

Jim gave me a detailed, yet simple, run strategy and I was running better than I ever had.  I was anxious to execute.

He had me do a bunch of bricks, so the transition was smooth and for the first six miles or so I stayed patient while trying to find my run legs.  I felt “okay” but unfortunately couldn’t find the next gear.  I laid down a decent run (4:20) but never really found my stride.  It was more weakness than pain, and in retrospect I know it’s because I didn’t put on enough bike miles.

This sport is a never ending search for answers and training under a pro triathlete really opened my eyes.  Jim and I finally got to meet in Chattanooga and he was a waterfall of information.  My buddy Corey and I sat with him in Starbucks for about two hours and soaked it in.

His nutrition advice alone was priceless and I believe it was a huge reason why I actually ran the entire marathon.  Not only that, he had a level, yet intense approach that I really liked.  He started triathlon after playing other sports and has proven himself as a top athlete as a coach.

Like me, he’s also a sponge for information and wanting to get better.  I look forward to seeing how our future unfolds.

You can find Jim at or @jimlubinski



Rest and Healing

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. – Hippocrates

I feel kinda bad because I haven’t been writing lately, but I think I needed a break.  And what better way to lose your enthusiasm for writing, training, and life, then to get poison ivy!

I’m telling you, God must have been in a bad mood when he laid that plant under our feet.  I mean, seriously, I don’t even have it that bad and there’s been a few moments when I’ve felt like permanent scars may not be a bad option.

The last week has been especially tough because I don’t “have” to go into an office.  It’s been very easy to sulk and feel sorry for myself.

Things can be going just great, but if you get poison ivy, every thought in your brain is laser focused on how to get rid of it.  I’m telling you, I was in the downtown library flipping through medicine journals from everyone from Hippocrates to Ben Carson.  Most of that shit was over my head, but Hippocrates was a smart dude.

I’ve taken baths in apple cider vinegar, gone to psychics, and spread baking soda paste over my body.  Nothing seems to work, other then time, and occasionally Witch Hazel.

I ran a few times, but it kinda flared things up, so I started to think of my plight in terms of a mandatory rest.   Maybe it’s just time I need to chill, sit in meditation, and realize that there are much worse things than a little itch in your life.

Workouts have suffered, but I did get my tires and bike trainer set up tonight, so maybe tomorrow is the day.   There’s nothing like a little time off to get your juices flowing again.  Maybe all of this is what they mean when they talk about God’s mysterious plan.



Food Cravings (or Cake Stories)

I haven’t been working out much since Ironman Chattanooga and think my body is a little pissed.  Especially considering the frequent and intense cravings for those flat “deli-style” pretzels.  Last night was one of those nights.

As I approached the pretzel aisle in Kroger, I made the mistake of lending a friendly eye to a guy perched with his son near the cakes.  I overheard him say, “$24 for a cake?!?” It kinda made me smile, which seemed to ignite his latent comedian.

Fifteen seconds later I’m 10 feet in front of him squinting discretely at the pretzels (I can never seem to distinguish which flavor I’m buying) when I hear him yucking it up.

“24-bucks?  Hang on while I cash in my 401k!”

I tried to ignore him, but in a moment of weakness turned my head in his direction.  He peered at me with one eye; his captive, pretzel-addicted audience of one.

“Hell, son, I might have to sell your mom’s wedding ring!” he said, followed by a belly laugh.

His son gazed at the floor with mild embarrassment.

“Hell, guess you’re not going to college, hahahaha.”

Then he takes out his phone and makes a mock call to his wife, “Honey, I think we’re gonna have to take out a second mortgage for this cake!”

Here I am, sneaking around in my own little pretzel-porn-shop, and this guy is making it tough to concentrate.  Finally I just grabbed “the red one” and made my way to the counter–but Cake Man wasn’t done.

I’m nearly out of ear shot when I hear him raise his voice for the encore.

“I need to be a cake pimp!”

It was truly impossible to ignore and I caved. With a slow turn, uncomfortable smile, and a very weak raising of my pretzel bag, I waived goodbye.

Anyway, my diet has been a little questionable lately.

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Ironman Lessons From The World Series

If you follow me on Twitter you realize I sort of lose my mind during the baseball playoffs. I am enamored by the nuances of baseball and watch for little things with a critical eye.

The baseball season is often called a marathon.  There is no room for mood swings in a 162 game season and the team that best manages emotions, demands, and pain, usually uncorks the champagne.

The Kansas City Royals play baseball as well as any team I’ve watched in my life, and the way they approach the game can teach us a lot about racing Ironman.

The Royals are:  Calm, committed, patient, prepared, resilient, and relentless.


Dozens of things can go wrong during a baseball game, but the best teams have short memories.  Both teams made big mistakes in the World Series, but the Mets seemed to sulk and let errors define their destiny.  The Royals adjusted and moved on with a calm focus that got them back into their game plan.  Shit happens.  The Royals don’t let little things define the big picture.


They Royals know who they are and never waiver.  Their style can be described as aggressive and there were several examples of “risky” decisions (by traditional baseball standards) on the base paths, but it usually worked in their favor.  Why?  Because all season they have committed to be aggressive base runners.  They’ve trained themselves to react instead of overthink, and by default this puts their opponents on the defensive.  Game after game, this is how they play and it has become a habit.


At one point during the clinching game, an announcer said, “It’s almost like the Royals have the script ahead of time.”  And it’s true.  They know their roles to perfection.  They don’t improvise or showboat, they prepare to win baseball games.  Kansas City trusts the script.  And the story always ends with them winning.


The season itself is long, but each game is also a marathon.  The Royals rarely forget this.  They never seem to get rattled because they’ve built a powerful engine they believe will take them the distance.  Just because someone jumps out ahead of them, doesn’t mean the race is over.  During the playoffs they outscored their opponents something like 47-12 in the final three innings of the games.  This is almost exactly like not burning yourself out before you get to the run.  The Royals strategy is to patiently hang around until the end of the race, then turn up the intensity to close out the game.


During the playoffs, the Royals came from behind in 7 of their 11 wins.  Every post game interview was laced with questions like, “How do you guys keep coming from behind?”  And the answer was always the same, “We never doubt ourselves, we play hard and won’t give up.”

Royals’ catcher, Salvador Perez, sets the tone.  Catching is a thankless grind.  Perez took several foul balls off his body and trust me, that hurts.  His first reaction was usually a brief glint of pain, but he seemed to consciously act like it didn’t bother him and almost laugh it off.  He let go of the pain.  He genuinely plays like a little kid in love with the game.  Nagging injuries won’t deter him from doing the thing he loves.  He shakes things off, and gets back to business.  This attitude reflects in his teammates.


The Royals are sharks waiting for blood in the water.  Make one mistake and they take you out of your comfort zone with a flurry of activity that never seems to end, until they’ve secured their place on top.  They leave opponents shaking their heads and asking, “What just happened?” What happened is the Royals built a winning attitude, trusted their training, then seized the moment.  They are a locomotive that will not be stopped and that is exactly the attitude you have to have to race an Ironman.