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!

Eclipsing personal bests

August 21, Day 191

Recent Personal Bests:

  1. 147 training miles over a 1 week period
  2. Longest bike ride (4 hours, 75.2 miles)
  3. New records for bike power over 60 and 90 minutes
  4. Longest swim (2 miles)

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I’ve come to the realization that I no longer have time for posts every other day, or even twice a week.  The new job has me in a place where I get home, get my stuff done, and crash.  So, it’s going to have to be weekly from here on out until I get within about a week of the event.  At that point I will be off from work and can give all the details leading up to the event in detail.  For right now, though, it’s just not going to happen any more often.

Friday is a perfect example.  I did a 1 hour run in the morning, went to work where I had a “To Do” list that is (no joke) 47 items long, ate a quick lunch with family, then came back early so I could leave the office by 4:30 and get into the water.  I swam 70 minutes, grabbed a quick bite, showered, and then moved my son into the residence halls (he is a new college student this year).  By the time I got home–I crashed.

4698415189_75fec99470_zYeah.  This is me.

The weekend had several firsts for me as you can see.  I decided I would move to that format since it makes more sense with me posting weekly.  Plus it makes me feel pretty good about what I’ve been doing.  Because yeah, that’s a lot.

After my bike ride I was very sore, but oddly not in the legs: more the back and shoulders from balancing and being in a bent over position.  I realized then the trainer does a great job of preparing me for the physicality of pedaling, but there are so many other things going on over a long period outdoors on a bike that I need to get out on the road more.  That’s not very fun right now, because my allergies simply will not let go and I spent a lot of the ride wiping the tears out of my right eye.  That of course led to me using my left hand alone on the bars, which led to a very sore wrist.  Plus it was hot and sunny. So by the time I got done I had a mild sunburn, wrist, shoulders, back, and a right eye rubbed sore as hell.  But my legs felt OK.  Yay?

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Somehow I still managed to put together a great run on Sunday, so I must be doing OK.  But I’m starting to look ahead and every week ramps it up a little more.  I hope I adjust quickly, or by October I’ll be wiped out completely.

Meanwhile, this is a “step-back” week so I won’t be going as long, but I’ll be going harder than usual.  Tomorrow instead of just run intervals I get to do it as a brick with a bike ride first.  Etc.  The whole week is like that.

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On the good news front, the pool is open again!  The lake has been wreaking havoc on my allergies also, and it’s so silty and gross right now that I can’t wait to get back to the chlorine and bustle of the pool.

I have no life.  Deal with it.  Cheers!

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14 hour days and Positive Mindsets

August 9, Day 179

Last 2 days workouts:

  • Swim Open Water 3000 yards
  • Bike 90 min: 30 minutes Z1, 50 minutes Z2, 10 minutes Z1
  • Run 45 min: 5 min Z1, 5 min Z2, 3×6 min Z3 with 2 min rest, 5 min Z2, 5 min Z1

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OK, here we go.  It’s on now.  On like Donkey Kong (whatever that means???).

Before I get into all that though, YAY FOR MY BOARD BEING BACK!  It’s actually been back for a while but this is the first opportunity I’ve taken since the move to photograph it.  Also…67 days now.  We’re getting close(r).  That’s just over 2 months away.  I got this.

I know I got it because the last 2 days have been ridiculous and I’ve overcome it with energy to spare.  Just like an Ironman should.

Today I got up at 5AM and did a 90 minute bike ride, then went to work and had meetings from 8-4PM, then got my whole workday done in about 90 minutes, then came home, put on my swimsuit, and went to the lake and swam 3000 meters.  I got home after 7PM and I literally had not stopped from 5AM to then.

This was after yesterday, when I had to deal with an all day work retreat which as we all know basically is a lost workday (you’re still expected to get all your work done in the margins though).  That day started about the same time getting out to run.

Now I’m in my chair, enjoying a Four Roses and feeling….well I feel just fine actually.

It doesn’t even matter to me right now that after a week and a half I sort of feel like this:

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I mean, it really doesn’t.  I know I’m putting in 110% and I’m making small progress after small progress.  I’m trusting that as I continue along that I am chipping away at it, and when I get to where I am headed I can look back and see the results of all those little victories.  And there have been a ton of them:

  • Doing the run intervals yesterday at full speed and feeling fantastic.
  • Getting a chance to sit with my team during the retreat and leading them in a creative activity.
  • Having the energy to enjoy my younger son getting his first car yesterday and having him take his dad for a ride in the back seat.
  • Helping the wife build her presentation for work and giving actual, real feedback last evening on how she might improve it.
  • Getting up this morning at 5AM and absolutely crushing 90 minutes of biking.
  • Finishing my 1:1 meetings with my staff today and having a great conversation with the folks that seemed most resistant to my coming on board, and each of us coming to a better understanding with one another.
  • Getting a contract that had been dropped by my predecessor through the hoops and to the point it’s (almost) signed.
  • Having a fantastic long swim that I didn’t want to do, but felt strong doing and now am glad I made happen.
  • Coming up with what feels like the RIGHT go forward strategy for my team while I was in the water for that hour, and feeling very confident in our direction going forward.

Even with all the drains on my time, my energy, and my will I’m still able to look at all those wins and say “It’s been a great few days!”.  Sure lots of crap happened too, but that’s not where I choose to live.  I choose to live in those wins.  It’s a choice we all can make, really, and one I have struggled with in the past.

But not today.  Today I am a winner.

Cheers!