Oh Boy Folks

Just under two weeks until Madison.  That last two weeks of training has been tough, challenging and most of all – exhausting.

A couple of posts ago I talked about my plan for the final two weeks.  It had some high points, some low points, but I got through and am ready to rest and heal before the race.

I don’t want to place to much confidence/hope in how my final workouts went because unless I execute on race day it’s all for naught.  Blake Becker has a good write up of things running through my mind right now.

In other news, I ordered a set of tires.  I purchased a pair of Vittoria Chrono’s for race day.  They are reportedly a bit “fragile”, but incredibly fast – especially compared to my current Conti Competitions.  According to a few things I’ve read, the conti’s give up ~10-15 watts.  That’s a LOT.  I’m thinking through my flat plan a bit more given my luck this year and the fact that Matt got a flat at Louisville yesterday.  I think I’m going to supplement my spare+razor strategy with a can of Pit Stop.

And I’ve got two opportunities to practice changing a tubie fast when I put the new tires on!


10 hours is a long time to go without sitting down and enjoying a good meal – it’s even longer when you are propelling your body.

Fueling has a huge impact on your ability to soldier on after you hit a rough patch.  Not only does it provide fuel for your muscles, it provides fuel for your brain.  I find that my performance tends to suffer more because my brain is being starved for fuel then my body.  I get grumpy and unhappy when I bonk, for me that’s an instant indication that I am short on fuel – and I need to rectify the situation ASAP – otherwise at the next tough physical challenge my body will complain, and my brain will capitulate.  This is exactly what happened at Kona in 2007.  I was cruising along pretty well, but because of some bad choices on the bike nutrition my stomach was shutdown and no sugar was headed to my head.  When I turned the corner to run up Palini drive, my legs said “Brain – how are we going to get up this mofo?”  Brain responded “I don’t know guys, that hill scares me.”  So I walked up it – and ended up walking a big part of the last 15 miles.

Unfortunately there is no magic formula for nutrition.  You can’t take your body weight and plug it into a formula and get a number of calories per hour.  You can get a starting point, but the composition of those calories, the timing, and even the exact number all need to be tested through out your training. 

I started out my Ironman Career on Cliff Bars, Gatorade, and water.  It got me through a couple strong races, but I always ended up with a icky stomach.  I moved on to Infinit – in concentrated bottles and water.  I think the concept of infit is great, but I had issues with it locking up my stomach and always feeling a little on edge in terms of bonking on longer efforts – perhaps my chosen formula just needed tweaking.   Currently I’m using water, salt tabs (thermolyte) and powergels.  In all cases the calorie count is similar ~2,0000 calories.  Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what works for you.  Don’t be afraid to try something new on a training ride – better to bonk in June 90 miles from home then at mile 90 on Race day.

Beyond that it is wise to be prepared for the unexpected – what if you can’t stomach X on race day?  What if it’s really hot?  Windy and you are on the bike longer?  What if you are working your tested plan, and you feel yourself start to bonk?

I think it is a good idea to sit down and think about some of those questions and have an answer?  What will you do if your fueling plan encounters road block X?  Burn the plan into your brain and if something crops up on race day, stay rational, remember your Business Continuity Plan, and execute it.  Don’t panic.

Waking Up In Vegas


This is me in my first Ironman – round abouts mile 8 of the “run.”  Run is a very loose interpretation of what I did that day.  It was mostly a walk, with a few shuffles thrown in for good measure.

In all five of my Ironman races (and I’m sure the two this year will be no exception) – I’ve had a moment that looking back you could consider the moment I woke up in vegas, and realized I had lost everything the night before.  In all cases I made a concious decision about how to handle the situation.  At IMWI 2005, when I got a cramp in my chin at mile 4 of the run – I cried.  At Kona in 2007 at mile 10 when my legs did not want to run up Palini hill – I gave up.  At IMWI 2009, when my quads cramped and locked up my second time up Observatory Hill – I just kept running.

What was different between those races?  It’s human nature to try and identify a single factor that causes a decision to go one way or another – unfortunately life isn’t that simple.  Critical decisions (and even simple everyday ones) are influenced by a long chain of events that have occured, and numerous factors.  Over the next two weeks or so I hope to write about what the events and factors that I feel play a critical part in successfully overcoming the point(s) where you have a great Ironman (or any race) and a Ironman that leaves you buried alive in a cornfield in Indiana.

Stay tuned over the next couple of days for a series of posts!

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Move on

My wife is fond of saying “If you could have gone faster, you would have.”  It’s her way of saying, “Alls you can do is alls you can do.”  My race at Pleasant Prairie this past weekend was definitely one of those – and I have no one to blame but myself.

Overall the race was pretty solid, but as a whole a bit disappointing – my form on the day was as good as I’ve had this summer, but a series of mistakes cost me a payday.  In hindsight the mistakes were:

1> Not doing a proper warm-up – led to the choice to let a fast swimmer in my wave go – a better warmup would have let me go harder on the swim rather then use the swim as more of a warm-up.  It would probably also help the first minutes on the bike by allowing the swim to be less stress on my body.

2> Race belt – next time I’ll leave the damn thing behind, or just shove the thing in my shorts and fix it on the move.

3> Brake rub – no excuses.  Between doing a proper warm-up (which I didn’t do) – and a routine equipment check I shouldn’t have missed this.

All in all – I would say a series of dumb moves on my part cost me 4-6 minutes.  Which translates to being 3rd OA and a $100 dollar paycheck for sure and a mano-a-mano battle with Matt for 2nd OA and $250.

That said, I’m done dwelling on the race – the importance of pre-race due diligence was hammered into my brain with ruthless efficiency.  Unfortunately, the only long term victim will be me, as my wife will have even more opportunity to make fun of my pokiness in my pre-race routine.

This week and next week are my final weeks of preparation for IMWI before I begin my taper.  The plan for both weeks is pretty simple:

Monday: AM Swim/PM 1 hour easy spin
Tuesday:AM Sleep/PM 3 hour bike + 30 minute run – include some HIM efforts on the bike
Wednesday: AM Swim/PM 1 hour run – if I feel relatively fresh I will include some T-Pace efforts on the run.
Thursday: Repeat Tuesday
Friday:AM Swim/PM Eat, drink, and be merry
Saturday: Swim/IM Race Sim ~5 hrs Bike + ~1 hour run
Sunday: Long Run

The focus these weeks is to be as fresh as possible for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with M,W,F being recovery type days.  Sunday the goal is to run well, treating it as an opportunity to validate pacing and nutrition on Saturday.

This Saturday I’m going to target 235 on the bike, and will adjust it a bit higher or lower next weekend depending on how the post ride run and Sunday AM run goes.

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon 2009

Pleasant Prairie is one of my favorite races, this was my 8th time competing at Pleasant Prairie.  I enjoy doing it because it provides an objective point of view on my year-to-year progress.  Last year I was 3rd Overall, and my goal for this year was to equal that or better.

19:28 (4th OA)

Pleasant Prairie does not have an elite wave, so this year I had to start in the second wave since I aged up.  I actually thought this would be a bit of an advantage as I would be able to get some sighting assistance from the field of swim caps in front of me, which would be better than last years experience of following a kayaker that couldn’t paddle straight.

At the horn I ran to the water and started swimming a pretty stiff pace, I was surprised to see two guys right next to me.  One of them started to swim away, so I scooted over and got on his feet.  Around the 500 meter mark, I decided to let the guy go as he was swimming a bit harder than my body wanted to.  The remainder of the swim was pretty uneventful.


I don’t normally include transitions in my right up, but this one is noteworthy and I need to remember it… When I got to my rack and remove my wetsuit, my race belt had come unlaced and fell off.  Not thinking clearly – I took the time to relace it before departing.  I ended with a transition almost 50 seconds slower then the faster folks, and I’m usually one of the quicker folks in transition.

59:15 (16th OA)

I manager to finally get out of transition within eye sight of Matt, I told myself to stay calm and just keep Matt insight, he’d be my carrot to pull back the time I lost in T1.  Within about 3 or 4 minutes on the bike, Matt was gone, and although I had passed a couple of people, my speed was just not good.  I would push 300+ watts for a few minutes and would be doing 21 miles an hour – but it did not feel like I had a flat.  A quick glance at both tires confirmed that they both had pressure.

I began to struggle a bit mentally, and let my watts fall a bit – why kill myself for what was sure to be a sub-par effort.  Thoughts of DNFing at T2 (or earlier) began to enter my head.  I had already suffered through a couple of terrible races this year – why add another to the list.

Towards the end of the second loop, having fought off some of the negative thoughts, hoping and praying that something was not right with my bike – and that the problem wasn’t me – I stopped and physically checked my tire pressure – Good.  Spun the front wheel – spins freely.  Spun the back wheel – PHVVVVVVVVVVVVF.  My rear break was rubbing.  I quickly opened the caliper up – made sure it spun and then got back on my way.

The difference was noticable immediately, I could actually tell the difference in how much bike felt.  I finished the first loop in 31 minutes and change – and figured I could probably salvage a decent bike split if I could do 27 and change on the second loop.

Motivated I put the hammer down and pulled into T2 in a much better mental state – and ready to run.

38:43 (7th OA)

I started the run just behind two folks, one guy doing the sprint and the other doing the international – who had passed me early on the bike while I was not doing so hot.  I managed to pass them both before the sprint distance turn off, and headed out onto the highway to the first turn around – a chance for me to find out where things stood.  There were only a handful people in front of me, but not knowing who was in what wave I didn’t know where I was exactly.

I burned through the first 3 miles in a little under 18 minutes trying to dig myself up to a money spot.  By about mile 5 I was starting to hurt pretty badly and was feeling the agressive running.  At that point I shifted to damage control – trying to force an acceleration whenever I felt like I was starting to slow.

2:00:44 (4th OA)

I was a bit disappointed to finish out of the money, but the consolation prize of having a strong run – after a couple bad runs at this distance was enough to cheer me up.  All-in-all it left me feeling good about my prospects at Ironman Wisconsin and beyond.

Weekend Recap and Training Logs

This weekend I had intended to do a repeat of last weeks IM Race sim, however it didn’t quite workout that way.  At somepoint during the week I decided to do the Camp Whitcomb/Mason Triathlon (“500m” Swim/22 mile Bike/5k run) on Sunday with the Race Sim workout on Saturday.

I thought it was a good idea to sign up for the race in advance to make sure I woke up Sunday morning ready to do it – unfortunately the weather did not cooperate on Saturday and I did no complete the race sim as planned.  Being the overzealous fool that I am – I decided I would simply do ~85 miles after the race and find out if 230-240 watts was truly realistic for an IM.

Great concept, lousy experience.  I ended up pulling the plug after about 2.5 hours – between being tired, unfun, and feeling a bit unsteady on the bike I cut it short. 

The race however went very good.  I approached the race with a win or go home mentality – knowing that Pete Metz, and Terry Labinksi could likely outrun me for a 5k, and that Matt would pummel me on the bike, but we would be fairly close Swim/Run – my plan was to throw a grenade in the room and close the door – hoping I would survive.  IOW – Try to drown them, attempt to ride their legs off, and hope they were worse off then me at T2.

Long story short, I was only able to hold Pete off until just short of mile 2 on the run, and Matt who started in a later wave destroyed EVERYONE.  I swam very well, and biked very strongly (288/296)*, but I just didn’t have the legs underneath me like I did at the Stevens Point Tri.

I was a bit surprised by my run – given that I ran sub-6 minute miles for a LONG 5k in the midst of a 28 hour training week a month ago (off of a 10 minute shorter, but stronger ride), but couldn’t crack 20 minutes for an accurate 5k at the end of a 20 hour training week.  Makes me wonder about the role of hard bike intervals during the week (present this week and – depending on your perspective –  heavily present the week of Triing for Childrens, absent prior to SP Tri).  Another hypothesis to test.

On to the training log portion of my post.  My lack of “HTFU” on my post race ride yesterday set off a not unusual for this time of year wave of pre-IM aniexity, so I spent a few minutes perusing my training logs from this year and last year – and feel a bit relieved:

2008 “ 5+ hour rides –  6
2008 “ 4+ hour rides “ 11
2009 “ Average Intensity of 4+ hour rides: 71.6% of FTP (300 Watts)

2009 “ 5+ hour rides “ 5
2009 “ 4+ hour rides “ 9
2009 “ Average Intensity of 4+ hour rides: 70.8% of FTP (Mixture of ~300 watts and 320)

With two long weekends to go.

Lacking a creative title

Last week was a pretty decent week of training – aside from slacking on Sunday (0) by deciding to switch those workouts to today.  But I did go watch the Bradford Beach Triathlon and the WORS race at Crystal Ridge.

I was fairly impressed by the Bradford Beach Triathlon – it seemed to be pretty well organized, which was surprising since it was organized by Frank Dobbs, who has put on a couple of races I’ve done in the past and left some poor impressions.  Perhaps I’ll give this race a try next year it it returns.  The circuit style of the bike (6 loops) seems like it might be kind of unique.

The WORS race was neat, my buddy Mark rode in the sport class.  He looked pretty gassed at the end, and then proceeded to tell me – “You should try this once.”  Heh – I dunno, the one time I went truly MTB riding, it was fun, but hard in a painful way!

Anyways – as I said last week saw some good training – no need to bore you with the details – but I was thrilled to have a long ride that I actually had fun doing.

It was a bit over cast, VERY windy, but I had a blast for the first 4 hours of it, the last 90 minutes sucked royally, but were fun by association.  It was a great ride – probably one of my best ever.  I did it as a quasi race simulation ride – 3x TriWI Lannon Ride (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3062739), with an hour run afterwards.  If you add in the short ride from where I parked to where the loop started the grand total was 111.6 miles + an 8 mile run.  The time tally for the day was 5:23:56 (although it downloaded it a little longer?) with only 4 minutes total of stopping to refill my bottles at the start of each loop (a new record low for stop time).  The run took a touch under 59 minutes.

What was reassuring, was my execution of the ride.  I rode the first loop at basically HIM effort in an attempt to keep up with Matt (as I did not know the route) to learn the loop.  I rode a bit more normally the 2nd and 3rd loop, but it was still a very strong effort.  I ended the day with a 232 AP and 247 NP (first loop was 249/263).  I don’t know how I would have fared running for 18 more miles, but I was in a pretty comfortable place when I finished the run.

I’m going to repeat the same workout next weekend, with the intent to spread the extra effort spent on the first loop out over the rest of the ride.  I figure that if that sort of an effort (or slightly higher) is feasible for an Ironman, I should be able to repeat it again with minimal issues.

***Note to self***
Nutritionally I did 6 bottles of water, 17 gels (Vanilla Powergel gets old after about 10, and green apple is only good for 3 or 4 – definitely need “Plain” or a better mix) and a few thermolyte tabs.  No gels or water on the run, but a couple of big slugs before I started it.

For numbers orientated folks who care:
I rode a little extra on loop 2 (took a wrong turn), and had a mini-blowup shortly after 4 hours, and the last 30 minutes includes some stupid easy riding from the end of the loop to the parking lot.

Last 30 minutes:
Duration: 28:13 (28:19)
Work: 332 kJ
TSS: 21.5 (intensity factor 0.676)
Norm Power: 216
VI: 1.1
Pw:HR: 5.86%
Pa:HR: 2.5%
Distance: 10.284 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 430 196 watts
Heart Rate: 0 222 129 bpm
Cadence: 32 112 84 rpm
Speed: 0 35.8 21.9 mph
Pace 1:41 0:00 2:45 min/mi
Temperature: 77 84.2 79.7 Fahrenheit

5th Hour:
Duration: 59:57 (1:00:01)
Work: 790 kJ
TSS: 55.3 (intensity factor 0.744)
Norm Power: 238
VI: 1.08
Pw:HR: 3.66%
Pa:HR: -3.46%
Distance: 19.659 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 486 220 watts
Heart Rate: 0 237 131 bpm
Cadence: 30 118 81 rpm
Speed: 0 43.1 19.7 mph
Pace 1:23 0:00 3:03 min/mi
Temperature: 73.4 84.2 78.6 Fahrenheit

4th Hour:
Duration: 58:14 (1:00:01)
Work: 807 kJ
TSS: 54.1 (intensity factor 0.746)
Norm Power: 239
VI: 1.03
Pw:HR: -0.4%
Pa:HR: 6.91%
Distance: 20.991 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 491 231 watts
Heart Rate: 0 236 131 bpm
Cadence: 29 105 84 rpm
Speed: 4.3 36.2 21.6 mph
Pace 1:40 13:48 2:46 min/mi
Temperature: 73.4 80.6 77.3 Fahrenheit

3rd Hour:
Duration: 59:49 (1:00:02)
Work: 845 kJ
TSS: 60.5 (intensity factor 0.779)
Norm Power: 249
VI: 1.06
Pw:HR: 2.42%
Pa:HR: -8.07%
Distance: 19.595 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 526 235 watts
Heart Rate: 0 237 129 bpm
Cadence: 35 143 81 rpm
Speed: 0 39.9 19.7 mph
Pace 1:30 0:00 3:03 min/mi
Temperature: 68 73.4 71.0 Fahrenheit

2nd Hour:
Duration: 58:49 (59:59)
Work: 860 kJ
TSS: 62.7 (intensity factor 0.8)
Norm Power: 256
VI: 1.05
Pw:HR: 1.82%
Pa:HR: -4.47%
Distance: 21.172 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 537 244 watts
Heart Rate: 87 213 130 bpm
Cadence: 31 140 84 rpm
Speed: 3.2 38 21.6 mph
Pace 1:35 18:34 2:47 min/mi
Temperature: 62.6 71.6 68.2 Fahrenheit

1st Hour:
Duration: 59:16 (1:00:00)
Work: 876 kJ
TSS: 67 (intensity factor 0.823)
Norm Power: 263
VI: 1.07
Pw:HR: -4.33%
Pa:HR: 2.86%
Distance: 19.922 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 734 246 watts
Heart Rate: 0 233 129 bpm
Cadence: 29 161 85 rpm
Speed: 0 40.4 20.2 mph
Pace 1:29 0:00 2:58 min/mi
Temperature: 62.6 68 64.8 Fahrenheit

3rd Loop:
Duration: 1:46:41 (1:46:45)
Work: 1409 kJ
TSS: 96.4 (intensity factor 0.736)
Norm Power: 236
VI: 1.07
Pw:HR: 8.97%
Pa:HR: -7.44%
Distance: 36.527 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 491 220 watts
Heart Rate: 0 237 132 bpm
Cadence: 30 118 82 rpm
Speed: 0 43.1 20.5 mph
Pace 1:23 0:00 2:55 min/mi
Temperature: 73.4 84.2 79.0 Fahrenheit

2nd Loop:
Duration: 1:48:16 (1:48:29)
Work: 1516 kJ
TSS: 106.3 (intensity factor 0.767)
Norm Power: 246
VI: 1.05
Pw:HR: 4.55%
Pa:HR: -7.85%
Distance: 37.145 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 526 233 watts
Heart Rate: 0 237 129 bpm
Cadence: 29 143 83 rpm
Speed: 0 39.9 20.6 mph
Pace 1:30 0:00 2:55 min/mi
Temperature: 68 80.6 72.7 Fahrenheit

1st Loop:
Duration: 1:42:52 (1:43:01)
Work: 1540 kJ
TSS: 115.5 (intensity factor 0.821)
Norm Power: 263
VI: 1.05
Pw:HR: 3.82%
Pa:HR: -7.95%
Distance: 36.559 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 734 249 watts
Heart Rate: 0 233 131 bpm
Cadence: 29 161 85 rpm
Speed: 2.7 40.4 21.3 mph
Pace 1:29 21:57 2:49 min/mi
Temperature: 62.6 71.6 66.1 Fahrenheit

Entire workout (232 watts):
Duration: 5:24:15 (5:28:19)
Work: 4509 kJ
TSS: 322.9 (intensity factor 0.773)
Norm Power: 247
VI: 1.07
Pw:HR: 9.49%
Pa:HR: 0.2%
Distance: 111.599 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 734 232 watts
Heart Rate: 0 237 130 bpm
Cadence: 29 161 83 rpm
Speed: 0 43.1 20.7 mph
Pace 1:23 0:00 2:54 min/mi
Temperature: 62.6 84.2 72.7 Fahrenheit