The taper pain is real, and card explosions

Tapering….enough said.


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Seriously, single digits.  Single. Digits.

Everything I heard about the taper?  So far it’s true.  I’m in this odd place right now.  Firstly, my plan has 11 workouts during week 1 of a two week taper.  That’s more than I would normally have.  What it means is 4 days this week I had 2 workouts, and I had no rest day.  That’s grindy, especially coming off the longest workout of my life Sunday.  I mean, they are SHORTER workouts, but there’s a lot of high intensity intervals in there.  I know it’s overall less volume, so I’m sticking to it.

But now, I find it harder and harder to stay focused on it.  I don’t know whether the extra workouts are a factor, but mentally, I just don’t care.  I don’t want to get up at 4:30 am to workout anymore.  I don’t want to do intervals in pitch black.  I find myself 9 days out thinking “Is any of this going to matter at this point?”.

It’s amazing to me that it’s actually HARDER to stay motivated this close to this thing than it was when it was 180 days away.

Not that I am not motivated to IM.  I just want to go DO it already.  I’m tired of working out.  I’m tired of explaining the IM race.  I’ve answered at least 15 people over the last day “What day is your IM again?”.  I’m tired of it.

Can I please just start now?

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It hasn’t helped that with 2 weeks off from work this week of work has been hell.  I feel like I’ve worked 8 days this week.  We had a work retreat all day Tuesday, I took a 3 hour exam Wednesday, I’ve been wall to wall meetings trying to get things in place before I go, etc.  It has been a very difficult week.

Which is why this card explosion meant so much.  See the below pictures?  That’s my office, covered in cards and memes and inspirational quotes.  All those cards are signed by family, friends and coworkers.  All of them have inspirational messages and quotes.  This was all orchestrated by my wife, and I am so grateful because this was a fantastic lift at a time I REALLY needed one.

However I haven’t read but half a dozen of them.  I realized I can’t read them at work because I read like 3 and in the emotional state I am in, I broke down and started to cry.  Sooooooooo…….we’ll wait and read them closer to the race.  I may even take some and put them in my special needs bags so I can have some inspiration on the race.

Very seriously considering it.

Meanwhile, 2 more workouts tomorrow and 2 more Sunday.  Then it’s time to start packing and actually getting to Louisville.  The IM I got.

But the taper is hell.

Cheers!

Against the wind (and the trains)

October 3, Day 234

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (6 hours, 103 miles)
  2. Longest workout (7 hours)
  3. Most mileage in a week: 163

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Into the dreaded taper we go.

Apparently it’s dreaded.  I’m sort of looking forward to not having to start a workout at 7:15am that I don’t finish until after 2:30pm.  Seems like a legit concern.  However, a lot of IM folks talk about an emotional rollercoaster between not exercising as much as you are used to and tension building up to the race.  I’ll see what it does for me.

Good week last week, although my leg still hasn’t healed fully.  It’s getting there.

Thursday’s 3 hour run was a little different, in that I started it after work.  That was actually a good thing because it got me out in the sunshine and afternoon heat like it will be during the actual event.  It was a 3 hour run which at the pace I am supposed to run at came in at 18.4 miles.  IM training has made everything slower, but that’s because this marathon is a little different than any other I’ve run.

Anyway, I was 14 miles in and headed on the home stretch when this happened:

That’s a train.  A train that is stopped and stretched as far as the eye can see.

Damn it.

I froze a few minutes wondering what the heck to do.  Climb under it?  Yeah, cause you know the moment I get there it will start moving.  Climb over the coupling?  Same issue.  Wait it out?  Every moment I do that cuts into the biggest run on my schedule.

Luckily I was able to run back another way and get picked up.  As far as I know, that train is still sitting there.

Friday night’s 4000m swim was great. Once again I felt fantastic other than the fact 77 minutes of swimming in a pool is mind-numbingly boring.  Physically though, I wasn’t even winded.

Of course, the big one was Sunday, a 6 hour bike ride with a 1 hour transition run.  It was the biggest workout on my schedule and my biggest one ever, really.  I was focused on doing a full century and still having legs to run 6 miles afterwards.  If I could do it, I knew I could do the IM.  See, that would basically account for the bike, I know I can crush the swim, and then if I still have energy to make a 10 minute mile?  Gold.  I  don’t even need to run the whole marathon.  If I have that much in the tank, I know I can cross the finish in 16 hours.

So, while I was nervous, I got out early with a little extra support from Scully:

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It had been threatening thunderstorms all week but happily those stayed away.  I enjoyed the cloud cover through most of the ride which kept it tolerable cool throughout.  All in all it was a perfect day for a ride.  Here are some shots of the Kansas hills I ride through.  You can kind of see the light level shift as I took short nutrition breaks throughout the ride.

Ah, nutrition.  Determined to follow advice and not get behind the calorie curve, and also to try things out before the race, I had an assortment of junk food to help me: gu energy gels, gatorade, honey stinger waffles, potato chips, cheetos, even a smuckers uncrustable.  Basically any calories I could get down and tolerate that would still be relatively portable.  I ate 2700 calories between breakfast, that stuff, and a recovery subway sandwich after I finished.

And I still needed another 2500 to break even.

The ride was tough because of only one factor: the wind.  It was 20-25 mph straight in my face coming back through the last 20 miles.  At one point it actually blew me over with a strong gust as I ate a snack.  Other than that I felt like I had plenty of energy.  I was able to plow through, which again gives me confidence for Louisville if I have to deal with wind.

When I got off the bike to run, I walked a good 100 feet then started to jog.  OMG that hurt for a bit.  My back was not happy after being on a bike that long to be upright and take the pounding of running.  Happily that worked itself out within a few minutes, otherwise I don’t think I could have run.

I had a route planned on a nice trail but ended up having to adjust that on the fly because of a downed tree.  What is up with blockages and me this week?  In any event, I ran the entire hour at my goal pace and could have continued.  I actually felt pretty OK afterwards although really tired.

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Riding home in the backseat with my legs out the window.

Now for the taper, and logistics to get my butt to Louisville.  I’ll try to blog more as I get closer, I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the event gets close.  But we are in the home stretch now.

Cheers!

Highs and Lows

Sept 26, Day 227

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (5.5 hours, 96.4 miles)
  2. Longest workout (6.25 hours)
  3. Most mileage in a week: 161

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I’m halfway through the big push.

Last week as I stated was one of two more “build” weeks before I get into the taper.  I guess this is peaking, really.  I don’t know anymore.  All I know is it’s longer than I’ve ever gone in a single week.

The week started normal enough.  My midweek runs and cycles are getting a tad smaller as we build these big distances, probably to help preserve energy.  I got through Tuesday and Wednesday fine, ready to do my 2:40 Thursday run.  It was hot all last week, meaning 90s hot, so I wanted to do the run in the morning when it was “cool” to the tune of 76 degrees with humidity.

I mean, seriously, are you kidding?  76 with humidity at 3:30am?

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Anyway, the run went fine and the heat didn’t really bother me at all although I would have loved a cool breeze.  That is, it went fine until I hit a lip in the concrete at mile 14 and took a tumble.  It was pitch black still so I completely missed seeing it.  First thing that hit was my left knee, then my left elbow, then my wrists.  I rolled into it and absorbed some of the impact but managed to scrape the heck out of myself.  My knee hit hard enough it was swollen for 2 days afterwards.  It’s fine now, except the scab scrapes off at work while wearing dress pants.

And of course you wanted to know that.

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#grossface

Friday I was worried with open, oozing parts of my body about the chlorine in the pool for 3800 meters.  No problem.  I crushed that swim.  I wasn’t even feeling tired at the end, and felt stronger the longer I went.  I have no doubt I will own the swim, which is a good feeling.

Saturday was a light day to set up Sunday, with a 5.5 hour bike and 45 minute transition run.  Over a century I did that day, and I had to modify the workout for the heat.  Since it was another day in the 90s, I got out at 7AM and did the first 3.5 hours on the road.  Then I came home and did two more on the bike trainer.  Then I had PLANNED to do the treadmill for the last 45, but I was so bored inside I decided to run outside.

That was a mistake.

I did the first half feeling better than I had in any transition run yet.  I was even having to slow down to my goal pace, and this after 5.5 hours on a bike.  This is fantastic, I thought!  But then I had to turn around and go back home.

Uphill.

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You see where this is going.

Uphill in 95 degree heat and 60% humidity at the end of over 6 hours of working out is when my legs finally gave my brain the big t(‘.’t).  I had to walk up that hill.  I did manage to run the rest of the way home, but yeah.  I could use the heat going away this week.

The good news is I really wasn’t wiped out after all that, so I know my endurance is higher than it has ever been.  We will see what happens this week with 3 hour run, 4000m swim and 6 hour bike/1 hour transition on the schedule for Thursday, Friday and Sunday.  One thing I DO know will happen: I’m running Thursday in the daylight!

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Cheers!

#2309

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It’s odd how the little things are such a big deal sometimes.

Today I got a notification that the bib number assignments are out for Louisville.  My number is #2309.  For those of you who are REALLY BORED October 15th, you can use this number to track my progress throughout the event.

I mean really, really bored.  Remember, I am spending 13+ hours on this course.

It also tells me what TRI TATS to take.  See, for triathlon they number your body as well as provide you a bib number so that you are visible from all angles.  So, I have to have 2309 put on both arms and my calf, in addition to wearing my bib.  Ostensibly it’s for the swim when you can’t wear the bib, but when you wear a wetsuit you can’t see those areas of your body anyway.  Normally this is done with a giant magic marker by bored volunteers.

I honestly have thought it’s because the smell of magic marker in the morning at 4AM helps wake people up more than anything else.

If you’ve watched triathlon on TV ever, besides being a really big nerd (like me), you’ve probably also noticed the pros have these really nice numbers all over their body.  Those are actually temporary tattoos made by a company called TRI TATS.  So for those who want to look pro (or really hate having magic marker on their arms and legs for 5 days) they’ll sell you a box of tattoos you can use instead of the marker.

I, of course, am super geek.  So I have said box.

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Here’s the thing about these numbers: they’re like 2.5 inches tall.  They look fantastic on pros who are single or double digit numbers.  But with a number like 2309….not so much.  The tattoos will literally run from the top of my shoulder to my elbow.  I won’t go without them though.  In fact, now that I think about it, I might just incorporate #2309 into my permanent tattoo I plan on getting if I finish.  And now that I think about it, maybe my finish time too.

IF I finish.

WHEN I finish.

26 more days until we all find out.

Meanwhile, the next 12 days are the final push upward.  2:40 run Thursday morning, 3800M swim Friday night, 5.5 hour ride Sunday with a 45 minute transition run, and 2 more bikes, 1 more run, and 2 more swims sprinkled on top of that for this week.  Next week, it goes to a 3 hour run, 4000M swim, 6 hour bike and an hour transition with all the extras sprinkled in.  If I really nail these two weeks, I should be mentally set to do the full thing.  This next 12 days is sort of like the final dress rehearsal before the performance.

I got this.  Cheers!

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Training takes many forms

Sept 11, Day 212

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (5 hours, 90.1 miles)
  2. Longest workout (5.5 hours)
  3. Most mileage in a week: 158
  4. Fastest on the road tire change: 12 minutes

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Yep, that last is not really a mistake.

First of all, thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the events of 9/11 16 years ago today.  I still recall that with perfect clarity.

Last week was a strange week overall.  It was a tough week, a grueling one to be sure, but the training actually went pretty well all things considered.  I did my run intervals on Tuesday without a support brace and felt great.  It seems for now the hammy is healed and holding up fine.

Wednesday was a little bit of an off-day.  My morning ride was done on the trainer in front of the just released that morning Destiny 2 (this is where the “tech-geek” rears its head).  I did the ride OK but I was distracted at times by the game so I think my intensity slipped a bit.  I really enjoyed the ride though!  But then that night I completely shined the swim.  I just decided to play Destiny 2 instead, banking on my long swim Friday and the follow-up swim Saturday to be plenty.  And I wasn’t sorry one bit at the time.

Thursday morning I did over 15 miles before work.  I got off to a later start than I wanted because one of my headphones didn’t charge.  I still got it done on time, but it kind of discombobulated the rest of the day because I was rushing around trying to get to work and then things just sort of snowballed.  But still, it was a great run and I hit my paces perfect.  There was a full moon out and on the trail away from civilization you could see everything with perfect clarity.  Really, really beautiful.

Friday started out fine.  Did my ride again in front of Destiny 2 but by then I’d played enough it didn’t really affect the intensity.  I got to the pool Friday night ready to make up for my swim miss Wednesday, only to get to the door and see that the pool had been reserved for the evening by a student group.

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My face looking at the door.

Oh, and the pool would be closed Saturday too.  FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Saturday I had football tickets, and of course the kickoff was 11AM.  I got out to the lake early and did my long swim before kickoff, with just enough time left over to get to the stadium and watch the game.  It was very, very hot though, and by halftime I was ready to leave.  I didn’t want the heat to impact my big ride on Sunday, and it is sneaky exhausting to sit in the heat for 4 hours.  Plus I walk to the stadium and back, so add in 5 miles of walking in the heat.

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Beautiful day for a game though!

Sunday’s ride came and I’d be lying to say I wasn’t intimidated a bit.  Last weeks ride wiped me out, and this one was longer.  I got out at 7AM hoping to beat the heat, and 20 minutes in I had a flat tire.  This in retrospect was a good thing, because I needed to practice changing one on the side of the road anyway.  If you’ve never changed a flat on a road or tri bike, it’s much more difficult than you realize to get the tire in and out of the rim.  You actually need special tools to do it which I carry in my bag.  I also carry CO2 canisters for speed inflation.

Everything got changed and I finished my ride on the tire without further issues.  I made a point of staying within myself the whole time and it worked wonders.  I got back from 5 hours of riding and actually ran most of the brick portion, walking only when I had a bit of an issue with cramps.  I had the energy to run at my target pace.

All in all, it was a very successful week.  This week will be less, then it’s ONE MORE BIG PUSH for two weeks before I start tapering.  34 days to go.  I got this.

I will leave you with one of the funniest and truest things I have read all month.  This might be exactly what I post for my race report.  Cheers!

 

Embrace the Grind

Sept 4, Day 205

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. Longest bike ride (4.5 hours, 80.2 miles)
  2. Longest workout (5 hours)
  3. Longest swim (2.2 miles)

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The hamstring has held up so far.  I think the rest I took last week did it good.

Tuesday’s run was miserable, I won’t even try to kid you.  I wore a compression sleeve, rolled out the muscle, and did everything I could to prep it.  But it was an interval workout and there was no way it would be easy because of the pounding.  I managed to do all 4 of my seven minute repetitions at Z3, but it hurt.  The good news was I was able to do it.

Wednesday morning’s ride was more intervals.  It still hurt, but not as bad since the bike is more forgiving and less impactful.  Same with the swim that night.  I was worried going into the next morning’s run because it was a long run of 2 hours, 15 minutes.  I decided to not use the brace because while it was supportive it was also constrictive and I wondered if it was causing some of the discomfort.  Turns out it was a good decision: the run went just fine.

So, the verdict on recovery is basically:

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Which is good, because it’s getting really tough.  The day after that big run I had a 2.2 mile swim and another hour bike ride.  The plan gave me Saturday to recover from the run and swim and then Sunday I had a 4.5 hour ride followed immediately by a half hour run.

I won’t kid you, those workouts are intimidating to look at on the schedule.  I have no doubt I can do it, but I also have no doubt it will be hard.  It’s hard to want to do this to yourself week in, week out.  The mental grind is real.  But, if you want to Ironman, you have to put in the work.  At least, I keep telling myself that.

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For Sunday’s ride I got a later start than I wanted for a variety of reasons, and it was a challenging ride.  I set out on the country roads so that I could simulate Louisville as best I could.  I even wore my TRI kit to get used to that.  I rode north 32 miles on the west side of Tuttle Creek lake, then turned around, rode back 10 miles, then cut east across the top half of the lake.  That took me another 20 miles, then I cut south on the east side of the lake, crossed the dam, and then criss-crossed the highway a bit until I hit the end of my time.  It’s a good ride, but it’s a long, lonely road.

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I made a point to stop every hour or so and stretch out, eat, and simulate a 5 minute break at an aid station.  The bike responded well, my body seemed to respond well too.  I got tired in the shoulders and back again, but it seemed to take much longer than my ride 2 weeks ago.  But, it’s a long time to be on a bike and it was after 1PM before I finally pulled in back home.  By then, it was on it’s way to a well over 90 degree day with humidity.  I decided to do my run on the treadmill because I was concerned I would not make it in the heat.

It was hard to run.  It took a good half mile of walking before I felt up to running, and then I ran in spurts, walking quite a bit.  I’m actually OK with that, because so long as I can keep moving, I can finish.  But you start to really appreciate just how HARD it is to do a marathon after doing so much else.  It’s one thing to know it in your mind, but to experience running after a ride like that is a whole different animal.  It’s OK if I have to walk.  Just keep moving.

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Turns out when I weighed after I had lost more than 10 pounds over the course of the workout.

And it won’t get easier.  Next week it’s 5 hours and a run.  Then it will be 5.5.  And 6.  By the time I get to Louisville I’ll be ready mentally to take it on.  That’s only 41 days away now.

I can do this.  I’ll be ready.

Cheers!

The Better Part of Valor

August 28, Day 191

Weeks Workouts: See description.  


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I suppose it was bound to happen eventually.

Tuesday I set out to do my speed-work run, which was a 5 min Z1/5 min Z2/25 min Z3/5 min Z2/5 min Z1 run.  I like to think of it as a “stair step” run.  It was a warm evening but not terrible.  I remember feeling thirsty as I hit the turnaround to come home, but other than that I was feeling great.  No problem hitting my paces.

At 28:28, I felt my right hamstring twinge.

Uh oh.  Happily I’m not as dumb as I used to be, so I shut down immediately.  I tried to walk it out, but no dice.  I pulled it.  It’s a mild pull, but a pull nonetheless.

If you’ve never done this to your hamstring (the long muscles in the back of your upper legs) let me tell you just how much you use that muscle (hint: it’s a lot).  It’s painful, and it sucks because it’s coming at a critical time.

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So I stopped walking and called for a pick up to go home.  It was a lighter week in terms of volume, but a lot of speed work.  I did my swim on Wednesday OK, but my hamstring felt “loose” all day.  On Thursday I had a bike, and I did that OK too without many issues.  By Friday when I swam I knew it wasn’t right yet, but the pain was gone.  I was staring at a 90 min run on Saturday and figured we would see then.

And see I did.  I knew deep down it was still not right but I had to go out and test it.  I was nervous going out, babbling and stalling until I finally got myself out the door.  I was fine, everything felt OK.

For two miles.  Then it clenched up on me, HARD.  Now all my mind can say is:

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I tried to stretch it out, but no go.  I called for another pickup, frustrated as all get-out, meanwhile madly googling on my phone for tips on what to do.  I found one that said to shorten my stride and go extremely high cadence, so I tried that and it worked OK.  I mean, I could still feel it, but that was enough to shift the impact away from the muscle.  When my wife came to pick me up I waved her off an told her I’d stay nearby but was going to try it.

Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds, but I had to.  Mentally I had to know if I could continue if this happens on the race. The good news is, I was able to finish all 90 minutes.  But it cost me and I was sore the rest of the weekend.

This time I set out to heal it properly.  I stayed off it all weekend and properly iced and stretched it.  I even canceled my bike and swim on Sunday to get an extra day of rest.  That caused me no end of anxiety, but it was the right call.  One day of missed workouts is not the difference at this point, but healing this muscle might be.  So, I didn’t do my 3 hours on the bike or 2000 meters in the pool.  I’m hoping discretion is the better part of valor.  But still, missing a workout is not what I want to do right now.

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Today I am wearing a support sleeve and iced the muscle again this morning.  I’ll also do it at lunch and after work.  I still feel it, but it’s mild again.  I hope it will respond quickly because I get right back on it tomorrow.  I can’t miss lots of days right now, and I have a huge dress rehearsal on Sunday with a simulated race of 1200m swim/4.5 hour bike/45 min run.  I gotta nail that.

So, looks like lots of icing, stretching, and getting acquainted with this guy again are on the docket until it gets better:

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Meanwhile, keep me in your positive thoughts if you can.  This is a delicate time as you can see since I have dipped under the 50 days left mark.  These next 3-4 weeks are where I build the fitness that will carry me though the race.  I need to persevere or this whole adventure might end.

Wish me luck.  Cheers!