Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Triathlon is a process.  We start with blind exuberance then evolve.

There’ve been many times when I’ve reflected and cringed.  I used to “say” I was doing it to become a better person, and that’s somewhat true, but not in the beginning.  I was doing it for my ego.

I wanted to feel a new excitement in my life . . . to feel relevant again.

It was a re-kindling of an earlier life in sports.  I was moving, thrashing, and looking in the eyes of my competition.  It fueled me like nothing had in years.  And I think that’s natural.

But, it was just the beginning.  After several months, and certainly after my first Ironman, the thrill wore off.  I was staring at emptiness in the mirror.  What now?

Well, “what now” was another Ironman that I felt obligated to do a year later.  A lot of it had to do with the fact that I had a blog and created a monster I didn’t want to tame.  The other reason was because I thought triathlon was the key to reviving my life.

Right before that second race I quit my corporate job of 14 years.  I was finally free to pursue the life I wanted and triathlon was right at the center.  And of course that was the problem.

Triathlon isn’t my life, but it’s definitely a vehicle for getting me to where I want to go.  That’s the challenge, and today I had a great discussion about that topic with my coach.

It’s all in the new podcast embedded below.  It’s a very open and honest discussion, which reminds me of something that would make my good friend Dr. Oz proud.  (You can read the semi-hilarious story behind this Dr. Oz interview here, and read Dr. Oz’s response to my post here.)

Below is the podcast where Coach Robbie and I talk about how we started, how we’ve evolved, and how we believe triathlon will fit into our lives in the future.

The Good: Friends, family, Fitness.
The Bad:  Ego, Arrogance, Excess.
The Ugly:  Regret, lies, and suffering.

Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Ironman

When Steve Jobs started building computers in his garage, he was hungry.

A few years later, Apple was a powerful brand and Jobs faced a whole new set of challenges.  The Board of Directors was more concerned about how Apple’s perception, but Jobs couldn’t stop thinking about its soul.

The Suits ran Jobs out of town, so he took his youthful passion to Pixar and NEXT. Apple may have been his baby, but he never lost sight of his purpose.

Eventually, he went back to Apple with real influence.  He re-trained the culture to focus on basics and ultimately changed the way we live.

Jobs was a little nuts, but what genius isn’t?  Who in their right mind would think they could accomplish the things he did?  And what person in their right mind would think they could complete an Ironman?

Somehow Jobs overcame resistance and made huge sacrifices to stay true to his mission.  Say what you want about Jobs, but his story is a good lesson for training.

For my first Ironman I was a hungry entrepreneur sharing the message with anyone who would listen.  I genuinely felt like I was moving toward a higher plane of consciousness.

Then came Number 2, and I was a more comfortable with the shape of “my business.”  The product worked, it was just a matter of consistency.

In year three I have become a little complacent.  Automation is taking over, but that’s no way to be great.

Racing is far more than hanging an award on a hook.  Being great is a process and it helps to remember why we wanted this in the first place.  For me it was to be alive, test my limits, and become a better person.

That is why I train.  That is why I sacrifice.  That is why I push my body to places it doesn’t voluntarily go.

It always comes back to today, to the process, to the growth.  When we start chasing symbols, approbation, and medals . . . we lose.

medal-cropped

The Ironman “Lifestyle” – Guest Blog

I have been eagerly awaiting this written piece for two years, which is ironic, because without him . . . Crushing Iron may not exist.  I am excited to release the debut post from the man who got me into endurance training, Jim Schwan.  

Not only is Jim a great friend, I would not be where I am in triathlon without his support, insight, and patience.  He’ll be on the course at Ironman Maryland this weekend and taking a new training strategy along for the ride.

Time to Put My “Lifestyle” to the Test  –  Jim Schwan  

JimlifeRevFinishI wasn’t going to do an Ironman this year.  Too many life changes to think about dedicating the time and effort into 6+ months of training.

The problem with that plan was 2-fold.  First, some of my closest friends were all planning to race and either directly or indirectly putting pressure on me to make the race commitment.  And second, I really enjoy the training.

Even before I decided I was going to do a full Ironman this year I knew I was going to spend countless hours in the pool/lake and on the bike.  I mean, could I really lay in bed while Corey, Wasky, Robbie and Tarrolly were logging miles and chiding my laziness?

What became clear to me early in the training season was that I would really have to work my ass off just to keep up with them 241901_4075557724391_823704067_oon the Trace and as much as I enjoy riding with them I really wasn’t that interested in killing myself this season.  Thus, the “Lifestyle” approach was born.

Just putting in the miles.  No tempo work. No pressure.  Just enjoy every workout.

If I wasn’t into it I would cut it short or not start at all.  If I was enjoying myself I would go longer or maybe push a little harder.

In the past I have meticulously tracked my workouts…heart rate, cadence, mph, etc.  I would study and analyze the details.  I was literally sweating the small stuff.

This year the approach couldn’t have been more different.  I wore a HR monitor all of one time.  I only used my cadence monitor when on the trainer and although I would check my speed averages, I didn’t let it dictate how I felt about a workout.  I just put in some miles.

Well, I did eventually pull the trigger and signed up for Ironman Maryland and holy crap . . .It’s race week.  This is the inaugural full IM in Maryland but it uses some of the old Eagleman 70.3 and Chesapeakeman full courses.  Flat, fast and windy.

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Mike, Wasky, Jim, and Corey at Rev3

This will be similar to my first iron distance race, which incidentally, was my fastest.  So it is time to put the Lifestyle to the test.

Even though I put in substantially less miles than I ever have for an Iron distance race I have a calm confidence about it.  I am probably under trained but healthier than I have been in 3 years.

My longest swim…3500 yards.  My longest bike…2 Century rides (but well supported and pace lined).  My longest run…14 miles.

I really have no idea if I will PR or finish in 16:59.  I’m going to take this race just as I have taken my training.  If I’m not “feeling” it I will take it easy, take in the scenery, cross the finish line and add a crab to my calf.  If I’m into it and feeling good I will push myself and try to make my 4th iron distance race my fastest. Who knows…maybe there is something to this “Lifestyle.”

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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.

 

Caffeine and Ironman Training #IMLOU

Well, now that Jodie Swallow has retweeted and responded to this post, don’t be surprised if I get a bit cocky for a while.  Then again, I’m having a dietary meltdown and still can’t swim for ass, so you’re probably safe.

Speaking of, I had an interesting pool session last night, replete with a light head and dizzy spells.  It didn’t take me long to realize these aren’t the most enjoyable states to be juggling in water.

But, before you get alarmed, I’m pretty sure I know the source . . . caffeine.  Or more accurately, too much.

I used to drink pop (soda for you weirdos) as a kid in Wisconsin.  I would run around the Boy’s Club for hours, then eventually hydrate with a Mountain Dew.  It was heaven on my lips and the ultimate endurance drink for a 12-year-old playing air hockey and building ridiculous coat racks in the creepy basement work shop.

But somewhere along the line I decided not to drink pop, or coffee, or caffeine at all and this lasted throughout my college years — with the exception of all-night studying for finals, but even then I didn’t enjoy it and was mainly because I liked hanging in the union acting like a serious student.

And that non-caffeine lifestyle lasted, oh, um, well, until I started working for a living and looking for ways to lift me out of the unconscionable emptiness that comes from many jobs.  I was more of a Coke guy at this time, and was for many years to come.

I’ve had streaks where I’ve dumped caffeine for a few weeks and it’s always damn good stuff, but eventually work and lack of sleep or late night parties suck you back to the world of liquid crack.  And when I do something, I tend to go balls out.

Fast forward to yesterday and this bizarre, over-stimulated feeling I had after trying to fill a void by pounding coffee for four days.  I knew it was catching up and altering my moods, but it’s a drug man, and if you’re gonna be an addict, take the high higher!

It may sound glamorous, but it’s actually kinda jacked up.

My caffeine of choice has been coffee for about a year and I always drink too much.  That’s just what I do.  And I’ve always known that habit is making me weaker.  I can feel it in my bones and mind.  It’s a wispy and fragile feeling . . . definitely not how an Ironman-in-the-making wants to feel.

So, after last night’s the swim, I went home, made a healthy meal, and relaxed.  I woke up today with remnants of that haziness, but by mid-morning and a few peppermint teas, it had subsided.  The rest of my day has felt pretty solid and I think I may try another round in the pool in hopes I don’t feel like a blindfolded pinata player.

More than anything I feel too much caffeine reeks havoc on my muscles, veins, and brain.  I don’t feel alive or lucid.

I’m not saying I’m giving up caffeine, but I definitely need to take a step back and moderate my intake.  It’s a crazy stupid cycle of keeping you up at night, wrecking your sleep, then jolting your tired bones.  It’s one thing to give yourself a little caffeine boost, but quite another to shoot it intravenously into your tongue.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Sunday’s Surprising Plot Twist

Sunday, was weird.  There was no alarm or intent, I just woke up at 4 am and gave life my best shot.

I have to say, it was quite amazing.

My only “plan” of the day was to meet friends at 7:30 for a run, which is normally a daunting hour, but by the time I cleaned the kitchen, bedroom, and did some laundry, it was still only 5:30.  I was smack dab in the “go back to bed danger zone.”

But I kept moving.

I woke Mattie and tugged her for a walk, took out trash, and did a little writing.  I was closing in on 7 am and it really felt like I could pull this off.

From 7 to 7:15 I did a few leg warm ups and light stretching.  I filled my water bottle and jumped in the car with a small sweat and actually prepared for a run.

What happened next was nothing special, but felt perfect.

We took off together and kept a sub 9 pace for 8.8 miles.  We talked about current events and genuinely had a peaceful run.

We ended with a climb up Mount Nasty, which always pushes the blood a little faster.  Your heart pounds and discussion goes away.  It’s not for the meek, but you are always a better runner for having ascended.

I a little post-run coffee and muffin.  Went home, cleaned a bit more, watched a few minutes of college hoops Game Day, then staggered to my room for an incredibly passionate nap.

My day felt complete and it wasn’t even noon.  Everything after the nap was gravy.

The moral of the story:  When you’re awake, be awake.

How Triathlon Changed My Life

Ten years ago I moved to Nashville and my goal was a new beginning.  I didn’t know anyone and wanted to change some harmful patterns I had created.  I wanted to “clean up” my act and actually do things, not sit around and talk about them.  It only took about three days for me to get derailed.

My new company put me up in the Marriott Vanderbilt for two weeks while I looked for a place to live.  The new job was stressful and every day felt like it could be my last.  I had jumped over 100 market sizes, which was  pretty rare in the television business, and most nights I needed a release.  Luckily the general manager of my temporary hotel residence had a key to the fast lane.

This guy was a bad ass.  He was dialed into everything and surrounded by the hottest women in town.  One night he asked me to join him and his friends at Happy Hour and I was hooked.  From knowing nobody to being connected with everyone overnight.

There is a major lure in being popular and I got sucked right in.  Suddenly I was going out 4 nights a week.  Women, wine, and song lathered me like a hot shower.  I couldn’t get enough.  My new friends were throwing huge parties and made me feel like the guest of honor.  The problem was, I wasn’t fully vested and couldn’t always fake that fact.

Some nights were great, others were rough.  I drank a lot and felt worse than ever.  I was even drinking on off nights at home while surfing the net looking for ways to escape the world.  It wasn’t a happy time, but I’ve always been good at projecting content.

While I would go on short stints of sobriety and even attended ACA meetings, the overall pattern continued.  I was in my 40’s, living in the heart of Music Row, and frolicking in dangerous territory on a nightly basis.

Eventually I moved to East Nashville and thought I might find another new beginning, but it was just a new world of isolation.  It was a quiet neighborhood and I was bored.  Fortunately there was a new bar gaining popularity just up the block and it became my “Cheers.”  I got to know more and more people.  A fresh start with new faces.  I was engaged and once again loved the excitement of building a new “life.”

It was a different vibe than West End.  East Nashville is loaded with creative people.  Artists, musicians, photographers.  The conversation was different.  My level of engagement rose, but I was tired.  Tired of using beer to lift my energy only to fall back into the cracks.  It was getting harder and harder to get up for work and exercise was an afterthought.  I was putting on weight and my energy level was non-existent without loads of caffeine.

Something had to change.

Jim and I had been friends for years, and I knew he was doing triathlons, but never thought much about it.  He’d even done Ironman, and as much of an athlete as I had been, and as much as I’d marvel while watching Kona on TV, his accomplishment didn’t click.  It was other-worldly-shit and I never let the reality settle in my mind.  Till this day I still feel bad about not going to watch him in Louisville.

One day he told me he was coaching a Couch to 5k program and challenged me to try.  Deep inside I craved being a runner.  I lived on the Country Music Marathon route for years and always went out for a jog after the race.  It never panned out.  So after reading about the walk/run strategy Jim’s plan included, I decided to give it a shot.

I made a pledge to myself to follow the program to the letter.  No more, no less.

On the first night we gathered at Nashville Running Company and set out to do a 5 minute walk warm up, 6 sixty second runs between ninety second walks, and a five minute walk cool down.  It was all I could do to run 60 seconds.

Eventually that 60 seconds built to 10 minutes, then 20, then 30.  I was ready for my first 5K and ran it in around 27 minutes.  That was just the beginning.

I signed up for a 5 miler, a 10K, then the 1/2 marathon.  I truly enjoyed my new challenge, but it was never easy.  I kept putting races on the calendar to make sure I stayed the course.  My muscles were in a constant state of ache, but I always felt great when a run was over.  I kept going and trusting the process to change my health, habits, and outlook on life.

By that summer Jim had convinced me to do a triathlon and that’s when everything fell in place.  I did the Music City Sprint and it was the first time in years that my body screamed, “Yes!”  I was on my way.

Next thing was to watch Kevin compete at Ironman Louisville and that’s when heart skipped a beat.  I knew I had found my next challenge.  I would sign up for Ironman, but not before struggling mightily in the NashVegas Olympic.

Shortly after NashVegas, the Fab Five agreed to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin and the rest is history.  Well, not quite, but the intensity of the training and team was the new beginning I had been searching for for 10 years.  I was now on a genuine path that would change my mind, body, and hopefully my meaning of life.  It has.

It’s hard to understand until you do it.  I’m sure it’s like jumping from a plane or scaling a mountain.  You’re not really sure why you’re doing it until it’s over.  But, Ironman training is real progress.  It isn’t the end, in fact, it’s always the beginning.  The new beginning I seem to crave.   Fresh, new starts that activate my enjoyment of life.  New people, friends, challenges.  New attitudes, new accomplishments, new love.

And while all of this is moving the right direction, it is far from complete.  My body will shiver, my thoughts will waiver, and my actions will be inconsistent.  But endurance training is a metaphor for life.  The perfect stroke, spin, or stride is rare.  You have to practice the motion thousands of times before it becomes natural.  Before it flows free and easy.  And it’s the same with life.  Bad habits don’t just stop, they are pushed out by better ones and it’s up to us to make sure that momentum continues.

Running The Asylum

The last two days I was in Knoxville for a great social media workshop and wanted to get in a run.  I stayed at the same hotel I used for my early season Rev3 race, so I thought I might slide down to the river and run the course for old times sake.  My coach had a better idea.

“You should hook up with some of the Knoxville athletes and run at Old Lakeshore.  Some nice hills.”

Oh, he had me at hills, but little did I know what else was waiting.

I agreed to meet Elyse, who I met at the Muncie 70.3, and qualified for the Vegas World Championship that day.  She lives in Knoxville, is training for Ironman Florida, and hadn’t run at Old Lakeshore either . . . but knew much more about its past.

As I pulled through the cyclone fence that surrounded the complex, I was immediately captured by the drab structures.  I felt like I was literally driving onto a Stephen King set.  The buildings were brick, with faded white paint, and one was charred black from fire.

Old Lakeshore was a mental institution and many refer to it as a “haunted asylum.”  You can read about its “complicated” history here.

20110423-ATM8I weaved up and down narrow roads with no idea where I was going.  I landed on a gravel parking lot next to an abandoned building and decided to change out of my work clothes.

I can’t explain how strange this situation felt, but about halfway through the change I realized I was in my car, naked, smack dab in the middle of an insane asylum.  I kept waiting for glass to shatter and a security guard, dressed in all white, to yank me through the windshield and put me in a straight jacket for a long walk up the hill into a lifetime of obscurity.

Safely in my running gear, I eased from the gravel parking lot and looked for anything that seemed like a normal place for runners to meet.  I finally spotted an empty soccer field and parked next to a long line of about 20 cars.  Cars everywhere  but I didn’t see a soul, other than what appeared to be a man in a powder blue jumpsuit leaning halfway out an open window of a rundown building simply labeled “The Cottage.”

A chapel rose on a hill in the distance, surrounded by an endless sea of sterile buildings and zero life.  The sky was gray and the entire scene was eerily quiet.

I called Elyse and she was coming toward me as we spoke.

“This place is creepy.”  420111119155126001_t607

Yes it was, and I was fascinated!

We took off on a slow jog and finally found the path which was a 2 mile loop around the grounds.  I’m not gonna lie, my eyes were on a swivel as we rolled up and down steep hills, and in and out of buildings.  It felt like at any minute a stray patient in a flowing robe could have toppled us into deep brush.

There was also a deserted concession stand and I stopped to use the restroom while she waited.  When I came out I told her there was a guy dressed like Jesus in the bathroom handing out cologne samples.

We ran about 7 miles, all surrounded by history and mystery.  I kept trying to talk her into exploring some of the facility, but she would have none of it.  And after watching this video, I’m glad we got the hell out of there, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to gather a group and do a night time run at Old Lakeshore.

A Coach’s Ironman “Miracle”

This is the latest submission from my coach, Robbie Bruce.  I love it when he gets inspired and sits down at his phone to bust out a blog.  This one is especially close to my heart because I just experienced everything he’s written about and I’m pretty sure some of this piece was influenced by my family on September 8th in Madison.  The journey, the struggle, and how it impacts everyone who trains for Ironman. 

The Miracle of Ironman Coaching
By Robbie Bruce

I sat down on the couch this evening to watch one of my favorite movies, “Miracle.”  If you haven’t see it, you should.

It’s the story of the US hockey team’s remarkable and shocking journey to a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.  It became one of my favorite sports movies originally just because of the unique story, it involved sports, and I am just a giant patriot at heart, so I loved every second of it.  Each time I watch the movie, I absorb more and more of the coaching aspect and how it relates to the athletes I coach who compete and train for Ironman.

Training for an Ironman is not like competing in the Olympics from an “athletic” standpoint, but both training processes have a lot in common from the approach of the athlete and coach. Both make a choice, a sacrifice to train, and go all-in for something far in the future, something unknown . . . all of it for one day.mikerobbie

Their friends and family are supportive but still wonder “why?” Why are you giving up so much of your life for such a long time, all for just for one day.  One race?  Then what?

In the world of instant gratification this is the opposite.  It is counter intuitive in every way possible.  It is giving up everything for the unknown.  It is giving up everything today for something so far away that may actually never present itself.

From a coaching standpoint you take on athletes with all different backgrounds, personalities, goals, and experiences. It is your job to get them to buy in to the process.  Every day will make “your day” and your day is Ironman.1270491_10101494431399420_714549893_o

Still, every time someone comes to me saying they want to do an “Ironman,” I know they have no idea what they are getting in to.  They are changing their life, not just signing up for a race. They don’t know it at the time, but they aren’t just signing up alone, they are about to embark on a journey that takes friends and family with them.  It is what makes coaching Ironman athletes so much different.

You know you are not only holding someone else’s dreams in your hands but also the hopes and nerves of parents, spouses, friends, co-workers and sometimes even strangers.  They believe in the one who is racing and wonder “who is this person coaching them?”  They have to believe in you without even usually setting eyes on you.  They look to their athlete and if they believe in their coach the others will too.  Belief by proxy.1277870_10101494432157900_1687841008_oIronman competitors become magnets.  You follow their training.  You follow their previous races.  People follow them.  The “Crushing Iron” following is a great example of that.  You actually give others something to believe in.  To hope for and to find joy in just from following or watching and even just refreshing an app.  They mentally race it with you.  They emotionally endure it with you.

I have had the honor to spectate and coach 2 Ironman races in the last 2 months.  I imagine most people think the most gratifying part of my job is watching the athletes cross the finish line with their goal time.  “MAN THEY CRUSHED IT,” as some people like to say.  I am still not sure what you “crush” or “kill” but whatever.  Yea, I used to think the same way from a time stand point.  They meet their goal and it’s a win.  Now, I watch them finish, glance at the clock with momentary elation, then watch them greet their support crew for the first time.  Their families.  Their friends.  The expression on their faces, the tears of joy, the hugs, the smiles of relief….. Man. That is what it is all about.1277431_10101494421738780_417964137_oYou realize you weren’t just coaching a person.  You were coaching a crowd of believers all standing behind one soul.   A person who goes off in the distance alone at 7 am and returns after most of the day is done.  You share in a their nerves during the race, absorb them and when its over…. You let it out.  The athletes stories, their wants, why they signed up.  You know exactly what they are thinking when they cross the line.  It is a community that brings you to tears.

Being responsible for having such a small part in an athletes journey to Ironman is an honor. Although stressful at times, it is the most rewarding job I could ever imagine.  Watching the first hug they give as they finish…. It is the tightest and most relieved of squeezes….”I knew you could do it.” – ” I am so proud of you.”- “That was amazing.”- I cant believe you did so well.”- “I love you.”- and the “You did it’s.”

You cant imagine it or recreate it any where else or in any other sport.  It is the sight of so many different people coming together as one.  There might be one person walking away with a medal and the title of being and “Ironman” but everyone around feels like one.  Proud.  Smiling. Energetic and so happy.  You may have “coached” 3-5 to “be one” but 25-30 walk away feeling like they too are an Ironman.

That’s the journey.  That is what makes it so amazing.  If the movie Miracle taught me anything it is that you can do anything once and take everyone else with you on the journey. Whether it is a gold medal or an Ironman, maybe it is time for you to take a trip………….1277373_10101494421698860_31971843_o

A Painful Cramp

More than ever, my body has been looking me deep in the eyes and asking, “WTF?”

Here I am approaching 50, putting on mileage I’ve never dreamed possible, and clearly that doesn’t come without complications.  Last night’s 3,000 meter swim was a great example.journeyThe workout included a warm up, followed by 40 x 50 meter combined set and a cool down.  I felt fairly strong as I cooled down for 400 meters, but when I got to the end and jumped out of the pool, I was nearly brought to tears by a piercing cramp in my left calf.

As I was leaning against the wall screaming bloody murder in front of the lifeguard and festive aqua-bikers, the guy in my lane asked if I was ok.  I said, “Yeah, I’m just cramping.”  He calmly replied, “I used to get them all the time when I swam with the pull buoy.”

Aha!

Yes, I remember Robbie telling me that when I was dealing with MUCH smaller cramps in the pool.  The logic is that when you immobilize your legs with the buoy, the blood circulation to your lower body slows and quick movements can launch a cramp attack.  I did know and understand this, but how quickly we forget.

I’m not gonna lie, my night was filled with a bit of panic.  I was having a hard time walking and the calf was very sore.  I tried to imagine running and it did not go well.  Could all of this training be derailed by a freak incident?

I vowed to get back in the water as quickly to start the mental healing process, and though I was 45 minutes late, I showed up at Open Water Swim to knock out 30 minutes in the lake.  I took the usual ridicule about being late, then swam up and down the orange boom for 32 minutes without stopping.  No pull buoy, no cramps, but tired arms.

Robbie and I talked for a bit after the swim (as we watched the next Pele run line drills in the sand) and he suggested the other reason for cramps in the pool can be from pushing off the wall.  This makes a ton of sense, especially when blood flow to your legs is low, and you’re exploding off the balls of your feet which targets the calf muscles.

Aside from the pull buoy, I suspected there was another major reason for the cramping: dehydration.

I am just shocked by how much I am sweating these days, and I’m assured that’s a good thing, but I have certainly not been compensating like I should with hydration.  I used to drink a lot of Coke (thankfully that habit has gone away) and my rule was always one glass of water immediately following a soda.  Now I drink coffee, and on some days too much.  It is painstakingly clear that, as mileage rises, I have to be careful and add more liquids.

I guess a third culprit could be sodium loss and last night, along with drinking a ton of water, I pulled out my homemade Gatorade recipe of 1/2 water, 1/2 orange juice, and a little bit of sea salt.  It tasted like ass, but I’m doing what I can.

So, I sit here less than a month away with a very sore calf and hope I can get this under control. Any suggestions would be appreciated.