Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Ode to 2x20

Winter Bike Training...  It's a love/hate thing for me. 

Riding the trainer sucks.  It's boring beyond words and more painful than that.  At least the way I do it.  

That said, the winter is when I get fast.  While most folks are base building, or recovering, or doing some candy ass group bike workout or whatever...I'm getting faster. 

But getting faster hurts.  Sometimes it hurts alot.  My winter bike training sessions rarely go over 75 minutes.  That's my trainer insanity threshold.  But every time I ride it's all about racking up as many minutes as possible at threshold power.  It starts slow, 8ish minute repeats in zone 4, but by the end of the winter I'll be doing the equivilent to 3 20K TTs a week of zone 4 work, mixed in with LOTS of zone 3. Riding at zone 2 doesn't exist in my winter bike training.  I have all summer to put endurance on top of my threshold training, and in reality it takes about 6 weeks to get it back.

This is my second year of training this way.  I'm a big fan of the results.  The trick is in the doing.  The worst part of the entire process is power testing.  My preferred power test is 2x20@100% on 2'.  I go all out, and then use the normalized power of the 42 minute range as my new 100%.  I test every 6 weeks. 

For me, that 2x20 workout starts about a week before my butt hits the saddle.  I start dreading it.  I know it's coming.  I'll start loading with my normal suppliments, and stop eating with any calorie deficit.  The worrying starts.  "What if I lost a bunch of fitness in those few months of rest I took?"  "Will my FTP bounce back?"  "How much work am I going to have to do, to improve again this year?"  I try to start rationalizing with myself.  It doesn't hurt that bad really...and it's only 40 minutes. 

Then there is acceptance.  The day comes. I resign myself to the pain.  One last shot of caffeine, a few puffs from the inhaler, a long warm up, and then the test. 

The first 10 minutes aren't so bad.  I target what I think my FTP is.  By then I've totally burnt out my anerobic ability to create power.  The second 10 creep by. 

Making it past the first 20 is the easy part.  Two minutes easy, I try to catch my breath, and brace myself for the second 20 minute interval. 

The second 20 minutes isn't targeted.  I don't have a magic number to shoot for.  I pedal as hard as I can.  That's it.  It's just all out, 100%.  The litmus test is "can I pedal any harder?"  If the answer is yes, I do.  My breathing is completely ragged.  I'm probably struggling not to vomit, and my pain compensation strategies are all in play.  I'm probably thinking "This is the most painful thing I can imagine, but hey, at least I'm not running..." 

By the last 5 minutes, if I paced well I'm ready to really drive myself to the edge and leave everything out there.  If I didn't pace well, it's even harder to push because my power output is dropping and the suffering is worse. 

And then it's over.  I can stop.  I try to walk, and usually can't, so I sit down on the bottom step to my basement and take a few minutes to recover. I immediately feel it in my legs, I'll be trashed for a few days. 

It's an impossibly hard workout.  The gains are also as impossible to describe.  Last year I gained almost 40W of FTP, which worked out to about 1.5 mph.  But there's more than that.  Acquiring the mental toughness needed to really suffer, put your head down, and then reach down inside yourself and suffer just a little more is invaluable.  Learning how to "disengage the safety mechanisms" the mind puts on the body has been a real key to my improvement as an athlete, and firmly confirms (for me) Dr. Noakes central governor theory, that says fitness is as much in the head as the legs. 

So, I'm a fan of the results...but 2x20 all out is still a workout that scares me.  I have a healthy respect for the demands it places on me, and I certainly don't look forward to it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

High Milage Running

I've recently decided to give higher volume running a shot this winter.  I've dropped out the intensity and I'm working to slowly, steadily increase volume.  Most of this comes from reading Lydiard and some of the other running greats, but some comes from having done an intensity based program last year, and not really getting anywhere with it. 

Anyway, this came up in a forum post on  I got a chuckle out of it. 

If you spend most of your time running, you don't have time to have any fun or do anything else that might affect your running

Yeah, that feels about right.  I can't even finish reading the book I was reading (on running) because I've been too busy running.  :)  Oh well. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recovery Drinks: Why, What, and How?

So, recently I've had an opportunity to work with a sports nutritionist.  She had a few tips for me on how to optimize my nutrition.

One of the questions I went to her with was something like "So, when I'm training I get seriously, no screwing around, ravenously tear-the-doors-off-the-fridge hungry and stay that way all do I fix that?"

After analyzing my normal food logs, she asked me about my recovery protocol.  My response was something like "Well, for a big 4 hour bike I'll usually hit up a smoothie or a bar, but for the 1 hour runs I just take a shower and get breakfast."

The nutritionist really keyed in on this.  She suggested that missing out on those recovery calories might be firing off some wierd signal to devour everything in sight.  It sounded really odd.  I'm a calories in/calories out kind of guy and besides I want those workout calories for fun food later on...

But here's the thing.  The next day I got about 180 or so calories in immeidately post work out and guess what?  I didn't have to remove any fridge doors.  It worked.  Did I feel more recovered or less sore or anything?  No, not really in a noticable way, but hey I wasn't starving the rest of the day.  I can't explain why it works, and the nutritionist really couldn't either, at least in the peer reviewed "prove it and cite your sources" kinda way I operate, but it does...for me at least.  For me, recovery drinks are now the difference between being very uncomfortable all day as a calorie restricted athlete, and not. 

Okay, so I need a recovery drink immediately after a workout.  I can do that. 

So, recovery nutrition is important for me, and you might be thinking it is for you too, if you've read this far.  So, what should you drink?

First of all, why should it be a drink?  As a long time dieter I know that one of the golden rules of dieting is to not drink your calories.  So, why would you want to drink calories?  The answer is you want to get those carbohydrates into your blood stream as soon as humanly possible.  Liquid is ideal.  Solid is ok too of course.

Ok, so you want to drink a liquid.  Other than water, what should it have it in.  Well, mostly carbohydrate.  After exercise you're very insulin sensitive, which means that CHO will be whisked away quickly into cells that need it.  A little protein helps increase the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis.   


Well, if you know anything about me you know I'm anti "food with labels."  I like real, unprocessed food, as much as possible.

So, what is minimally processed, has carbohydrate and protein, and doesn't leave you with a glass full of "wow, I wish this was something that tasted good."

Well, I'm a big fan of smoothies with banana, whey  protein, and cocoa powder with some BCAAs and glutamine thrown in.  But...that's alot of work for a tuesday morning run before work.  That's great sometimes, but it's not fast.

So then you have chocolate milk.  Chocolate Milk is goodness, and if you buy it in the small aseptic containers that don't have to be refrigerated it's a little more convenient if you're at the gym.  It tastes good.  It doesn't have Glutamine in it, which I do kind of like for recovery.  Also, it's not exactly minimally processed.  Look at the ingredient label on most of the premixed stuff.  It's extensive to say the least, and there is bad news in there for the HFCSaphobes amongst us as well.

That leads me to Fluid Recovery Drink.  I'm a big fan.  In fact I'm a big enough fan of their ingredient list, or rather their lack of one.  I made a HUGE spreadsheet of all the recovery drinks out there, and compared/contrasted.  There are a few decent drinks out there in the market, but in my opinion Fluid is the best.  Here's why I think that:

  • Like any recovery drink mix, they're uber convenient post workout
  • The chocolate flavor tastes awesome because it has...get this...real chocolate in it!
  • The price / serving is very reasonable
  • There is nothing herbal or otherwise weird in it, so my pharmacist wife won't chase me around the house asking me how I really know that cactus bark and monkey tears are safe to ingest (It's totally happened).
In fact, here is the ingredient list for Chocolate Fluid Recovery Drink:

Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Fructose, Whey Protein Isolate, L-Glutamine, Natural Cocoa, Chocolate Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Ascorbic Acid, Soy lecithin, Potassium Chloride.

A broad spectrum of sugars, protein, L-Glutamine, flavoring, electrolytes, Vitamin C, and a thickener/emulsifier.  That's it. 

Full Disclosure/Fine Print:  Fluid did offer me a sponsorship this season so of course that creates some bias, but I approached them because I liked their product.

So anyway, I'll get off my soap box now, but if you're finding yourself ravenously hungry, low on energy, and generally feeling kinda crappy all day long while training hard, especially if you're running a (reasonable) calorie deficit give a recovery drink a shot.

Here's my advice, executive summary style:

  1. Drink your recovery drink while you're still sweaty, but don't sit on the couch while you do it, that's just gross.
  2. Shoot for some carbs and protein, and try adding in some L-Gluatmine.
  3. Drink real food first, but when you're on the go give Fluid Recovery Drink a shot!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ironman Recap - Victory Over Self

Hi Everyone,

I've taken a bit of a break from blogging recently, along with a break in structured training.  I've still been at it though.  In the last few months since IM I've really gotten my running back on track, gotten my nutrition dialed in again, and in general gotten my head screwed back on right.

I've got a few posts brewing my head that should be coming up shortly.  I've really missed writing.  Until then...I'll leave you with this:

On December 1st, 2008 I wrote this crazy blog post that said:

Today is 11/11/11, a little less than 3 years since that date and about 4 years since I was the 400 pound, nearly dead, and very unhappy Mike that I was.  It was so long ago that sometimes it seems as if I have lived two lives, each with a separate set of memories and experiences.

I can see old pictures, and know they were me.  I can remember those moments, but they seem surreal now.  

The truth is that's me though.  That person was me, just an inferior version.  These last 4 years I've been battling with myself, fighting not just over my weight.  I've had alot of victories in the last 4 years, and some losses to be sure. I'm so thankful for the journey though.  The person I was was smart, and dedicated, and a hard worker.  I'm still those things, but along the way I had to become brave, confident, and strong. 


2005 / 2011

I finished an Ironman, and that's pretty cool.  But there is so much more that is even better, that seemed mundane at the time.  It really is the journey.

I became strong enough to do the right thing even when it wasn't the easy thing.  I survived a divorce that cost me nearly every possession I owned and every friend I had.  The morning I was due in divorce court I woke up and went for a run.  

I became the person that shows up every day.  Last winter I ran in a snow storm, because the gyms were closed. 

I became the person that never, ever quits.  This summer I rode my bike 120 miles in the rain, on a challenge course called "Dairyland Dare" that is billed as "The toughest ride in the midwest."  After I was done I took a shower, ate a sandwich, and drove about 3 1/2 hours to Chicago so I could cheer for Lana the next day when she ran a half marathon in Chicago.  

And then there was Ironman Wisconsin.  It was a day filled with challenges, and more downs that ups.  In my race against the clock, things didn't go so well.  But the person I am managed things the best I could, persevered, suffered through the bad stuff, and smiled when my friends and family cheered me on.  Old Mike wouldn't have had a shot, even if his body could hold out, his mind never could have. 

Aristotle said that the hardest victory is victory over self.  My victory over my previous self is something I hope I never forget.  This journey has undoubtedly been the hardest thing I've ever done, and has become something that will frame who I will be the rest of my life. 

I count him braver who conquers his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self. - Aristotle

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In The News!

Thanks to the Ottawa Daily Times for the great story!  If you're suffering from obesity, or just want to lose some weight, it's possible.  It can be done, and this is how I did it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin 2011 14:18:09

I woke up at 3:30am on 9/11/11, and I knew the day was finally here.  Ironman.  The race I’ve been aspiring to for the last three years, was going to happen in three and a half hours.  Even if everything went exactly to plan, I knew this race would test me. But that wasn't the case.  Almost nothing went how I planned.  

The first indication of the challenges that were ahead was apparent as soon as I opened my eyes.  The head cold I had been dealing with all week was still in full force.  It was probably worse than the day before in fact.  That was outside of my control though; all I could do was manage it the best I could with the medicine I had stuffed in all my bags. 

I ate my typical race breakfast, drank coffee, and left for the race. 

Distance – 2.4 Miles
Time- 1:20:50

It's an amazing thing to be in the water at an Ironman Swim start. Thousands of athletes were lined up in the murky but very glassy water. Mike Reilly was telling us we were all going to “be an ironman” today. The cannon went off, “Beautiful Day” by U2 was blasting on the PA, and suddenly the water erupted into chaos. 

For the first 400 Yards I went hard. In mass starts I would rather be swam over than swim over other people...

I felt really good, and I was shocked and happy to see 1:20 on the clock when I got out of the water.

Time – 12:30

I carefully ran through T1, did what I needed to do, and got going. I was not going to be heroic running barefoot in T1 and screw up my day with a fall.

Time – 6:45:24
Distance 112 Miles

As the bike started out through Madison we entered a bike path that went under a city street. Unfortunately, with less than two miles in, a rider crashed her bike and was being attended to by paramedics, which stopped the bike course. It was frustrating to have my foot down while the clock was running, but the woman that fell off her bike had bigger issues. She was being taken off the course on a back board. I hope she was okay.

I made it through the “stick” and hit the first aid station, where I threw my bottle and picked up a bottle of powerbar and a bottle of water, and very nearly avoided a second pile up, when a rider went down at the aid station.

About ten minutes later, I grabbed my powerbar bottle to take a drink. It was empty. The volunteer that handed it up to me didn't screw the cap on tight, and the bottle drained out. The next aid station was water only, and the combination of those two issues meant I was going to be short about 200 calories in my first hour.  I typically eat a cliff bar in T1, but that didn’t happen today.  My stomach wasn’t feeling up to it, possibly because of the rough swim or because of my cold. 

I was still biking very well and making many passes. My bike was set up well, and I was happy to see that with the addition of my aero helmet, wheels, and removing my two training bottles + holder I was averaging about 19 mph on the bike.

At about 25 miles in I was passing someone and I hit a BIG pothole I didn't see. I was immediately worried that I damaged something. A few miles later I felt the back of my bike bouncing. I looked down to see the rear tire flat and my heart broke. I knew my bike split was ruined. If I couldn't get moving again, my race was over. I'd been training for 12 months for this day, and it was hard to think this might be the end of my day.

I got off my bike, closed my eyes for 5 seconds, and got some perspective on things. An accident, nutrition problems, and now a flat and the clock wasn’t even at 3 hours yet... I’d like to say I was totally calm and prepared, but that would be a lie.  I was a mess. 

Okay, I thought, some things are happening that I don't want, but flats and colds are completely outside of my control. Regardless, I can quit now, or I can keep moving forward...those were my options.  Walking away would have been very easy in that moment.  Quitting becomes exponentially easier when you know that no matter how the rest of the day plays out you can't perform to the best of your ability. Continuing meant suffering a lot, for a sub-par performance. This was my first Ironman though, the race I've had my eye on doing for at least the last 3 years. I've sacrificed a lot to get to this day. My wife was out on Old Sauk with my parents, cheering for me. So, I decided to keep going, and just make it the best day I could.
I pulled my back wheel off and checked for damage. It looked ok, other than the flat.  I grabbed the razor blade out of my flat kit and cut the flat tubular in half and peeled it off the rim. I pulled my spare on and inflated it. I was moving forward again, but I had lost about 15 minutes.

At about mile 32ish I finally hit an aid station that had calories. I drank some perform and supplemented with my EFS, just like in training, but things weren’t working like they did in training.  My stomach went from feeling bad to feeling awful.  My hamstrings/quads were starting to cramp. I was covered in salt and the day was proving to be a bit hotter than expected. I needed salt, calories, and water and I was struggling to get sufficient amounts of them.  I was totally unprepared for all of this, as my nutrition had always been pretty much perfect in training. 

At mile 46 I saw Lana and my Mom cheering for me at Old Sauk. I tried to smile and wave, they gave me such a positive lift, and I didn't really want to expose them to the badness I was going through.

I was doing the best I could to ride in my power zone on the bike, which was difficult as I had a lot of slower bike traffic to pass now, but overall things were getting better. By the time I went through Verona on my first loop I was feeling pretty strong and my stomach issues seemed under control. Unfortunately I had to stop at bike special needs to get my spare tubular / co2 from my special needs bag. After flatting once, I wasn't going to ride without a spare and risk a DNF, but that meant again my foot came down, more minutes gone.

On a climb about 60 miles in I saw my friends Seth and Jessica.  I had no idea they were going to be there, and I kind of had to do a double take when I saw them.  Seth ran next to me briefly as I climbed and I told him about my flat.  I had this odd thought.  Ultrarunners talk about how they get these hallucinations after running for hours, of ghost wolves chasing them and things like that.  I wondered briefly if I was being chased by a ghost Seth, but I quickly dismissed the idea, as that would probably be the lamest hallucination ever.

I saw Lana again in Verona on my second loop, probably around mile 90. Again, it was a much needed pick up. The cramps were back again. I was now about 700 calories under plan, putting me at around 150-200 an hour.  Not nearly enough.  I was struggling to balance getting more calories and water in with not vomiting, and I was losing.  I only peed once on the bike, around mile 60, so I was dehydrated as well. I was beginning to struggle with holding power.  I’ve never had nutrition problems in a race; I can normally eat anything anytime, and be fine.  I was totally unprepared for a nutritional emergency.  I was getting really frustrated and angry, which happens when my blood sugar is low.   I was cramping badly, something else that doesn’t really happen to me, especially on the bike.  I took some of my emergency salt; it was more likely a function of my lack of nutrition/hydration.  I didn’t really understand at the time how far gone I really was though.  By now I was struggling to hold 60% power and my focus was really slipping. 

But the decision was made, I was going to keep racing. Finishing would have to be good enough. I was going to finish.

At mile 102, on my way back to town, I noticed my back wheel starting to bounce. It was low on air...I had no idea how. I still don't, in fact. My first intention was just ride it for the last few miles. It wasn't quite flat, and it was a tubular anyway, so I figured it would maybe make it to 112. Unfortunately about 107 I noticed it was getting worse.  I knew I was working harder to pedal on a flat, I was worried I was going to roll the tire off the rim, and I knew my bike time was screwed anyway… So, I stopped for a third time, and put another CO2 cartridge into the tire. Luckily, this time it held until I got back to transition, but I lost more time with a third stop.

Yeah, I was having a bad day. But, things could have been worse. There was a guy I passed riding into T2. He was carrying his bike, covered in blood, back into T2 to start his marathon.

Time 11:39

T2 was a mess. There was lots of carnage, and a lot of folks looking less healthy than me. I did my thing, changed socks and shoes and went. The cramps were still there so I took more salt and drank some water.  I tried some gel but it didn’t stay down. 

Time 5:47:46
Distance 26.2 Miles

I was very worried when I started the run. Scared may be a better word. Running a marathon isn't an easy thing on my best day and I knew I wasn’t in any shape to do it at the moment.   I was running very easy 10 minute miles, but my stomach was still wonked and my nutrition was worse. Every time I tried to drink anything with calories at the aid stations I'd throw up. My calves were and quads were cramping very badly. I stopped taking in calories at about mile 6 because I was worried that they'd see me get sick and pull me off the course. I was also worried that it would make my hydration situation worse.

I saw Lana, my parents, and our friends Seth and Jessica at Mile 7.5. By the time I saw them again, around mile 14, I was in the weeds. I was walking. I was totally bonked. I couldn't feel my teeth or look at the ground without it spinning. I was cramped beyond belief. I remember asking Lana if I could make the cutoff if I had to walk. I was pretty much done. Luckily, Mom and Dad went to eat, I really didn't want them to see me like that. I knew they'd be worried enough. At that point someone made the suggestion to try pretzels at the aid stations. I figured that I had nothing to lose, besides more walking and vomit. Sure enough, that did the trick. I only ate a few pretzels per aid station, but it was something and they were staying down. I was able to add bananas, chicken broth, and a little coke on top of that. Things got just a little better, and I was able to run most of the last half of the marathon. It wasn't a fast or pretty run, but it was a run.  The cramps got slightly better too.  In the end I think I probably ran the entire marathon on 10 pretzels and a quarter of a banana. 

On Being an Ironman

As I turned towards the finish, it seemed bittersweet. It was a day that had lots of downs, and very few ups.

When people asked me how fast I was going to finish this race, I told them my goal was 16:59:59, but I knew I had a 12 hour IMOO in me.  Maybe I did, I’ll never really know.  As it turns out, my first Ironman was going to be more about perseverance than performance. 

It's cliché to say things like “well, just play that hand that you're dealt” or “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but things are cliché for a reason. In the end, I turned down the carpet, “hi fived” the fans, and smiled when Mike Reilly called out “Michael Bernico, 34, of Bloomington Illinois, you are an Ironman!” 

There’s no question that putting together a 12 hour race where everything went to plan would have made me very happy, but fighting for a 14:18:09 where nothing went right is probably better. 
Almost nothing went how I planned.  I finished anyway. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kids, Diet, Exercise, and “Maggie Goes On A Diet”

So, there is this book called “Maggie Goes On A Diet,” according to amazon targeted at kids 4 to 8, about a 14 year old girl that goes on a diet, joins the soccer team, and loses weight.  It’s causing a big stir.  I’m not normally a “blog about the news” kinda blogger, and to be honest, with IM coming up, I have better stuff to do…but this one has been weighing heavily on my conscious (pun totally intended).  I haven’t read the book, so clearly I’m judging a book by its cover.  With that disclaimer, my feelings are mixed on the book.  I dig that Maggie does something fun to be active by joining a soccer team.    I don’t like the idea of Maggie on a diet.  I’m all about talking about the goodness of good foods with kids, but not a fan of talking about the badness of foods, or shame, or guilt…  If only the book was called “Maggie learns about how great eating good things makes you feel.”
My Early Lessons On Food
I think I was 8 or 9?  Third grade.  There was this little store not far from my house, it was called Mitchell’s.  We’d go there and it was a common treat for me to get a candy bar when we did.   Eventually I came to expect the candy bar, it was habit.  Not such a great habit for the fat kid, a hat I had been wearing since grade 2 at the time.  So anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen.  Today is different.  Mom is turning over the Hershey bar in my hands, and pointing at the nutritional information.  She pointed out that the bar had over 200 calories in it, which seemed to upset her.  I didn’t really know why.  She was upset with me for wanting it, but handed it to me anyway.  I was…I guess ashamed.  Eating the candy made me feel better.  Calories, chocolate bars, nutritional information, shame for disappointing my parents, comfort in food.  This was my first lesson in nutrition.
I was not quite 10 for my next lesson.  It was 1986, I know because I remember “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles on the radio…odd the things that stick in a kid’s head.  Yup, still the fat kid.  I’m not sure why, but my parents decided to introduce me to exercise.  The next thing I remember is running around the soccer field at Garnsey Park in Joliet, IL, near the house I grew up in.  Dad told me my butt was sticking out when I ran…which was very true, and something I still struggle with…but it made me feel even more terrible at the time, since I had no idea how to fix it.  I couldn’t keep up.  I eventually just walked.    Running wasn’t fun, but it was clear that it wasn’t supposed to be.  It was punishment, for being fat.   This was my first lesson in exercise. 
Parenting and Healthy Living
So, now I have a 7 year old.  He does not have a weight problem, and I’m hoping to teach him things now that will keep that from happening later.  But it’s hard.  I had a weight problem.  I have a food addiction.  He sees my struggle with food every day.  Just like my early lessons were heavily based on my parents relationship with food.  I hope what I teach him will help prepare him to make healthy choices.  I hope the example I’m setting is a good one. 
 I think I’ve got the exercise thing down.  William and I run together regularly, and the fun always comes first.  If he walks, I walk.  If he sprints, I do.  We've done a 5k together, and he won his age group.  To William, running is fun.  Running makes us feel good.   We run just for the joy of running.  The only relationship we have between running and food is the idea that eating good things helps us run even faster. 
Food is harder.  At mom’s house there are poptarts for breakfast.  At Dad’s house those aren’t available.  He isn’t totally sure why.  We always want a chocolate chip cookie, but we only get one sometimes.  Cookies are a sometimes food, but he isn’t totally sure why.  We try to eat veggies with every meal, but French Fries aren’t veggies at Dad’s house.  Confusion.  But then, I hear him say stuff like  “Dad, this has good calories for me.”   Last night we were talking about where to go for dinner, and he said “I don’t care, what works best for your calories,” which is something he would hear in our house a lot as I struggle to balance the daily energy needs of an endurance athlete with the structure I put in place to keep the fat guy I was at bay.   It’s the reality of my life, but in a way it breaks my heart to hear him say it.  I hate that he has to live in a world where food is carefully measured, weighed, and evaluated.  It’s a world tanted by my demons. 
So, I guess I’m glad that Maggie learned to play soccer and eat healthy food.  I’m sad she changed based on her bad feelings about herself and I don’t think that really works as a sole reason for change, at least it never did for me.  Clearly, food and exercise are topics that we need to teach our children about as parents.  We have to lead the way for them.  Childhood Obesity is at 17% now.  It’s a problem and it’s time to wake up. 
But for the 4-8 year olds out there, and for the rest of us too, I think we’d do well to keep the message positive.   Eating well and exercising are great things, not punishments or restrictions to how we live. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Madison IMOO Training Camp

Ironman Wisconsin is 40 days away.

This weekend I joined 110ish other folks at a training camp put on by the folks coaching me.  It was hardcore, extreme spelled with extra x's...the whole deal.  It was the kind of crazy that I imagined, when I signed up for this kind of race.  I went there expecting that, and I got exactly what I was expecting.  Here's what happened.

Thursday morning I woke up in Bloomington.  I went to the pool and swam a 2.4 Mile time trial.  I beat my best time by about 5 minutes, which I was very happy about, swimming the distance in 1:29:00.  I showered, finished packing, and brought some lunch for Lana at work.  I offered to bring her a sandwich so I could have just one last opportunity to see her, even if it was just for 2 minutes as a sandwich deilvery man, before I left for Madison.  Granted, it was the action of a love struck teenager, but I'll gladly own that.  Lana and I have worked hard not to have to spend time apart, so we definitely don't enjoy it when we have to.

After I made it home I loaded up the car and headed to Madison.  After an uneventful 3ish hour trip, which was frequently interrupted by bathroom stops due to my crazy hydration status,  I checked into the hotel.  I ran to a grocery store to load up on some supplies, and then attended a talk put on by the coaches before we road the course on Friday.  Dinner was in my room that night.  A turkey sandwich, baked sweet potato, broccoli, and salsa were on the menu. 

Friday started at a leisurely 5am.  Most mornings come earlier for me these days and the extra sleep was nice. 

We started out on the bike at 7:30.  My goal was to warm up for the first hour at about 65% FTP, and then move up to 70% for the remainder of the day. In practice I rode a bit easier, following some  slower cyclists that knew where they were going.   The IMOO bike course is a stick and loop affair.  You go out on the "stick" do two loops, and then head back on the stick again.  The loops are marked, the stick...not so much.  I was totally lost, luckily there were plenty of other people that knew where they were going.

I was plenty willing to take it easy though.  This bike course was legendary for it's difficulty and I wasn't going to seek out the suck, I knew the suck would come to me in due time.

A few rollers, and a few cows go by, and then 16 miles in the loop starts. A few more miles, Mt Horeb goes by, which as it turns out, is the troll capital of the US.  Who knew? 

Then some more serious stuff comes up.  There are very fast descents, hard uphills, and some technical turns that come in rapid succession.  This is a thinking man's bike course for sure.  It's not just about being a careful climber and not roasting your legs.  It's about getting up the hill, and knowing if you should coast or stay on the gas.  It's about knowing when to have the balls to descent at 40+ mph and not ride the brakes, and when to slow down.  It's about all those things at once.  Conserving your momentum is key, especially for a heavier rider like myself. 

Especially interesting, was a descent with a tight left at the bottom, followed by more descent and a tight right.  Someone had taken the time to spray paint "slow" on the road, before that descent out of the many, many descents on the course.  They meant it.  Jim Garfoot, they named a twisty, hilly ass road after you.  You must have been an interesting person. 

Next up, I ran into a small town, with a VERY cool little coffee / bike shop called Uphill Grind.  I had forgotten to sunblock my neck, and they had me covered.  They also refilled my water bottles.  They sold what looked to be delicious food, coffee, and anything a cyclist could need as well, and they were super nice to boot.  Thanks guys!    On the down side, that same city had a cop camped out by a stop sign making sure cyclists stopped, unclipped, and put their foot down.  If you didn't?  Well, I saw a cop light up a chick on a P2.  You know, I kinda don't blame them.  Granted there are bigger issues that cops could probably deal with, but there are so many cyclists out training on the IMWI course, it must be an issue for the locals.

In fact, that same day several of the folks in my group were harassed by a black pickup truck, and one was ran off the road.  He suffered some road rash but was otherwise ok, or at least that's what I heard.  I also heard that they got the truck's license plate.  I certainly hope there were some consequences for that driver, but I'm hesitant to say too much since I don't really know for sure what happened.

A few miles down the road I ran into a dude grinding very very slowly up a very very big hill.  He looked to be a wizened veteran of the course.  "Some Hill" I said to him as I rode by.  "Yeah," he said, "They call this one the bitch."  I had to laugh to myself at the notion.  All these hills were kinda the bitch...but ok.  Up I went, and then  I figured out the name.  After a long, steep climb the hill turns to the right and gets even steeper.  "Bitch Hill" indeed.

After that it was a clear shot to Verona.  I repeated that same 40 miles, and then finished up back on the stick and 108 miles later I was back at my hotel in time to brick it.   It was hot (104 according to my Garmin, but in the 90s for sure) , I was already dehydrated, and I got pretty sick on the run.  Things got kinda dark, but I walked a little and suffered through my 6 mile run.

My first ride through of the course ended up being 6:25:00.  Not impressive by any means.  I ended up about 25 minutes slower than my goal, I really underestimated how much slower those climbs would make me, and how much smarter I'd have to learn to ride the course.

Friday night I listened to a talk on how to ride the hills a little smarter, and logged that in my head for the next day.  I ate some oatmeal, a turkey sandwich, a sweet potato, and some frozen blueberries.   Then I got to bed, to do it again the next day.   I burnt about 4500 calories, and there was no way I was putting that all back, so I just did my best to keep the glycogen I had and slept as much as I could.

 All things considered, I was feeling pretty froggy Saturday morning.  I woke up, ate a PB&Honey, mixed my bottles, and got on the road.  It was, for the most part, pretty uneventful.  I rode the stick, one loop, and the stick back to the hotel, covering about 70 miles.  In the last 10-15 miles my legs weren't willing to make Watts, and I just really let them go.  I was fatigued and I knew it. 

Back at the hotel I changed and did a 3 mile brick.  As I was running by the Allegant Energy Center I saw the sign tell me it was 95 out.  With the heat index, it was closer to 104.  It was hot.  My run was pretty slow, and I was ok with that.  My head was finally wrapping itself around the distance, the fatigue, and what this ironman stuff is all about, which is more about "not stopping" and less about racing.

Saturday afternoon I got some sleep.  That was the best part of this camp, having the time for rest and recovery.  At home I'd be taking care of William, doing chores, cooking, cleaning, life...  Here my biggest priority was training and my second biggest was making sure I was recovered to train.

Saturday night Lana was able to join me, which was really awesome.  She did a 67 mile ride earlier that day, and we were both ready to eat!  We went to a place called "Great Dane Pub and Brewery" in downtown Madison.  It was really great! I had a local grass fed beef burger with local Wisconsin cheddar on a multigrain bun, some baked beans with their beer in it, and a glass of a very dark porter. 

After that, Lana and I drove a bit of the bike course and got to bed.  It was really awesome that Lana drove all the way to Madison to take care of me and support me.  I'm very lucky to have her in my life.  I doubt she knows it, but She was the highlight of my weekend.  

Sunday morning I was hurting for sure.  I did my best on the foam roller, had some oatmeal, and drove to the Monona Terrace, which is the Start/End(ish)/T1/T2 of IMWI.  After a quick talk we took off running from T2 and ran one loop of the two loop run course. 

It was a hard half marathon.  The fatigue from the two previous days and heat really caught up with me.  I had no idea where I was going, and that made it worse.  Luckily I found some people to run with, so I wasn't totally lost. 

I brought a handheld with me, and Lana brought me extra water at the State Street turn around, around 6 miles in.

We were running 9:30s and it felt quite a bit harder than the 8:06/mi I ran a few months before in the Illinois Half.  When we made it the finish I was totally spent, and a little dehydrated.   I was very very glad to be done for sure.

When I got back to the start Lana was there waiting for me.  We got back to the car and made it back to the hotel to pack, check out, get lunch, and head home. 

I took Monday off to recover and get my bike in order.  Tuesday I started training again.  I ran 7 in the morning and tried to swim about 3400Y at night, but it ended up being closer to 3K.  I did an easy 3 on Wednesday morning, and realized I was still not feeling 100%.  The recovery cost to doing this kind of thing is pretty high, but I also learned alot about how to race this course. 

It was a valuable weekend for sure, but yeah, I'm pretty wiped still.  Again, this is more a "here's what happened" report and my writing is really not so great right now.  I just don't have the energy to do much more, so here it is. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Evergreen Olympic Triathlon -2:33:59.4 (2:51:08.4)

I went into this race with the intent to specifically fix the things I did wrong last year, especially related to hydration and nutrition.  I think I did that.  I probably left just a little on the table, but I’ll take that over last year’s experience any day.   All in all, I think like I executed a pretty good race.

Age Group Place:  13/31 (14/26)
Overall: 138/390 (198/426)

I feel like I swam pretty well (for me) during this race.  It’s frustrating to know your swimming 1:30 100s in the pool and come out of the water at 2:07/100, but I’m building endurance on to those fast 100s now, and I know that’s a limiter.  Open water is tricky, sighting, contact with other swimmers, and running out of the water all make it a little harder.  That said, I’m about as fast as last year. 

Distance: 1500m
Time: 34:45.6 (34:22.3)
100s: 2:07 (2:06)


Socks…the bane of my existence.  No socks last year.  I run with socks though.  I’m training for a big race and can’t screw up my feet, so I was going to race with socks too…  I sat down to put them on.   Nuff Said…

Time: 2:17.4 (1:34.9)

Bike conditions were about perfect.  I ramped up to about 90% FTP and intended to hold that for the 40k.  I knew at that level of effort I’d have a real solid chance of doing pretty well on the bike and still being able to run. 

My strategy worked well for the first 13 miles.  Turning north I picked up a tail wind.  I tried keeping my cadence high and my power up, but I couldn’t hold it together.  I was hitting heart rates in z4 if I were running, and my cadence was over 110 at 30+ mph on the flats.  I was spun out.  I bled off about 7 Watts from target.  My bike split was great, but had I a) pushed harder into the wind b) ran an 11-25 instead of a 12-25 c) been brave enough to run closer to 95%, or d) all of the above I’d have easily broken 24 mph.  Oh well, still a great ride. 

Oh yeah, and even though it was cooler I drank a bottle of EFS and 12 oz of water on the bike, and I was happy I did.  I’m an athlete that needs lots of fluid, that’s just how it is.

Distance: 40K (42K)
Time: 1:03:07.3 (1:12:08.9)
Mph: 23.63 (21.6)

My transitions stink.  No excuses…  If I ever did short course for serious, it would be a big focus. 

Time : 1:58.1 (1:45.5)

I came off the bike feeling much better than last year, and I took things pretty easy for the first .5 miles.  The run felt smooth, and I performed pretty well.  I was trying to get my heart up to z3, but I was really struggling to push out of z2.  It seemed like I was muscle limited rather than a heart limited.  Maybe it was mental.  I’m not sure.  Regardless, I ran what I had, and what I had was way better than last year!

Distance: 10K
Time:  51:51 (1:01:16.8)
Pace 8:20 (9:52)

Overall, things went pretty well.  I used the fitness I had pretty well.  I’m still a MOP swimmer, a FOP biker, and BOP runner.  This year I’m slightly more FOP on the bike this year, and very slightly less BOP on the run.  My fitness is improving, but more importantly my race execution skills are getting better. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swim, Bike, Run, Eat: Big Recovery Dinner

I had the day off to recover today, after yesterday's 107 mile bike/6 mile run, so I had time to cook for myself tonight. 

I'm honestly feeling pretty weak and unmotivated at the moment, so dinner wasn't super involved.  Here it is:

-Sesame Crusted Tuna and Bacon Wrapped Scalops- Pre-done from The Fresh Market

-Spinach with sea salt, butter, and a dash of hot sauce

-Roasted red and blue potatoes from Prarierth Farms, Green Beans from the local farmers market, and onions.

Oh, and Water Mellon for desert!

Big Day 2 7/9/2011

Disclaimer:  My apologies to all my readers.  This post is even less polished than normal.  Time is very limited, and I'm very tired.  I wanted to get this all down, but it's not pretty...

 So with that, on to my second big day "report"

My first "big day" of training occured just three weeks ago, in week 8 of my 20 week build.

Now, three weeks later, here we go again. 

The plan was originally to swim 1 hour, bike 4 hours, and run 1 hour, the same as week 8.  I got a better offer though.  A local charity ride, pedaling for kicks, was running this Saturday.  It topped out at 67 miles, but I talked to the folks putting it on and they said I could ride the 67 mile loop and keep going on a second loop.  It was a perfect opportunity to get some serious bike time in!  So, I changed the plan to a 6ish hour bike with a 6 mile brick.  I ran the idea past RnP, the endurance nation coaches and they said that would be an "epic" day.  I like the sound of that, and I'm on board for epic.

I was a bit worried about holding my race pace target for the entire 107 miles at this point.  I've come a long way in my training, but I have alot of fitness to build still.  So, I knocked it down to .68 IF from  .7 IF. 

Here's how it went:


Breakfast was coffee and a PB&Honey on wheat bread at 4am, as I drove out to the ride.  I really dig the sandwich for early morning training.  It's easy on the tummy even with intense training, and it goes together the night before.

As stupid as it sounds, I've learned a great trick for the PB&Honey.  If you apply PB to both sides of the bread, it keeps the honey from soaking into the bread in the fridge over night.  Very important!


I've gone through alot figuring out what works well for me.  I needed salt. I needed caffeine. I did better if I had BCAAs.  I needed sugar.  I needed LOTS of water.  I ended up with a few different plans that were all wicked complicated. 

Then lasts weekend I tried concentrating EFS from First Endurance.  It worked REALLY well.  EFS has the aminos I was after, the calories, and it has enough sodium that I don't have to take salt stick if I'm drinking it.  I'm calling out EFS here because it worked really well for me and they deserve alot of credit for making the most advanced sports drink on the market IMHO.  They don't sponsor me (although they should!). 

 Here's how I did it:

1.  I marked a 24 oz bottle at 8oz, 16oz, and 24 oz, filled it with 7 servings of EFS, and then added watter to the 24oz line.

2.  I drink 8oz of this mix every hour, which is approximately 2.5 servings.  This gets me:

240 calories
750mg of sodium
5g of aminos!

3.  I'm very careful to drink lots of water with this mix, and drink more if my stomach feels wonky at all.  I'm a 1.5ish bottle / hour kinda guy.

I've ridden with this mix twice now, including this ride, and I've felt really good both times.  I picked up a mini bagel with some PB half way through for some solids, which was nice but probably unnecessary.  It's very likely I'll use this strategy for IM.

The Ride

My typical Saturday is a 4 hour ride with HARD intervals, netting me 80+ miles, with a 30 minute brick. So, honestly, 6 hours at 68% was pretty easy, even with all the fatigue this training has piled on me.  Thats ok though, easy is good, and a huge confidence builder.

The biggest struggle of the ride was maintaining focus.  Without intervals to break things up, it was hard to stay focused.  I was totally alone the first 3 hours of the ride.  I didn't see a soul on a bike or in a car until I stopped to refill my bottles. 

After the first 67 I met up with some friends and they rode with me for 40 more.  That made things way more fun, and I was able to chat most of the time while holding my desired power level, which probably means I've earned the right to ride 112 at 70% on race day.  That's great news.  Also, BIG BIG thanks to Mark, Jessica, and Seth for keeping me company on those last few hours, that made it so much easier!

I did really well at riding steady power uphills.  Thats a good thing too. 

I did coast way too much...and I found myself loosing focus far too often.  I will have to work on that, but I also know from my HIM experience that won't be as much of an issue on race day. 

The Run

By the time we were finished the temperature had gone up from 66 to 98 (according to my Garmin, in the sun...probably wasn't that bad). 

The ride started at a country church and there was no shade.  The sun was pretty oppressive.  I decided I'd ride home and run on the trail there, and have an air conditioned car ride as T2. 

The break was nice, but maybe a bad idea.  It was really hard to get started again after I had stopped.  I ran 6 miles, very very easy, and honestly it was hard.  Can I run a marathon after 112 miles of biking?  I dunno, maybe, but not yet.  I was visiting the pain cave after about 4 miles. 

Quick Summary - "State of The Training Block"

  • Training fatigue right now is VERY VERY high, I'm right at the edge of failure on most workouts.  I have some recovery coming this week though.
  • Nutrition is spot on
  • All things bike are going very well, but I can focus better. 
  • The run...ehhh...I dunno.
  • Swimming?  Well I don't sink. 
  • If I can stay healthy until IMOO I have a good shot at finishing strong.  Anything can happen, so no predictions, but I have come a long way and I'm really starting to surprise myself with the amount of fitness I've put together in the last few weeks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

So, This Is What Training For an Ironman Feels Like

In one word, consuming.  It's 85 days until Ironman Wisconsin, and already it's all Ironman, all the time.  It's a good thing I have a triathlete wife, and triathlete friends.  Otherwise, they'd all hate me by now.  It's probably all I talk about it.

But who wouldn't be consumed by it.  I'm planning on trianing for this thing that is somewhere between "wow, thats cool" and "that's silly, why would you do that to yourself."  I know it's what I do today that will get me across the finish line.  Race fitness isn't going to just happen "sometime" between now and then.  Every run, bike, and swim is money in the bank for Madison.  Every time I work my life around my training so I can get both done, that's money in the bank too.  Every tweak I make to my electronics setup, my nutrition strategy, my bike fit, they're all lessons learned to help me succeed.  So, yeah, consuming, but more of the purposeful kind and less of the obsessive spinning your own wheels kind. 

And so that's part of it.  If I had to pick another word?  Exhausting.  At the moment I'm training about 15 hours a week, which is 5 under my high water mark from last year...but it's a HARD 15 hours.  I'm pretty much always tired.  And this week is special!  This week I'm doing my first race rehersal.  A real IM worth training event for sure!  Here is what the week looks like:

Monday - Swim 3K
Tuesday - Long Run
Wednesday - Bike 75 minutes with 2x20 @ 100%  with 30 minute run brick
Thursday - Run 60 Minutes with speedword / Swim 3K
Friday - Run 45 Minutes
Saturday - Swim 1 Hour @ IM Pace / Bike 4 Hours @ IM Pace / Run 1 Hour Eazy

One more word?  Ok sure, why not.  Hungry!  At this point I'm typically burning 1200+ calories a day training.  I'm constantly hungry. 

So, that's what it feels like to train for an Ironman.  Consuming.  Exhausting.  Hungry.  :)  Oh yeah, and awesome!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tri-Shark Classic Triathlon 1:15:55.7

Note:  Since this is my third year doing Tri-Shark, I've put last years results in parenthesis for comparison.

Age Group Place: 8/31 (11/36)
Overall: 76 (124)

Well, here it is!  The first triathlon of the season.  I wish I had better news to share, but it looks like this year is off to a bit of a rough start.  Honestly, I had a bad day.  It was bound to happen though.  Rather than beat myself up about it (because believe me, I did a little of that) I'll try to use this race report as an opportunity to reflect and get stronger.  My fitness was better than ever this year, but where I failed was in execution, a few times in fact...  Here's what happened:


Distance: 600y
Time: 13:18.3 (11:51.5)
100y: 2:13 (1:59)

I went sans wetsuit, hoping to shave off some transition time this year.  The water was warm, and I didn't think it would be an issue.  It really wasn't.   My body position is way better, it was probably the right call.

I set myself up on the inside line in the swim just because that was where I kind of fit in the pack.  There were about 30 people in my AG, and the start area was very crowded.  This was a mistake, as I didn't find clean water until about 200 Y in (past the first bouy).  I lost ALOT of time in that first 200, I was tangled up with about 6 other dudes the entire time, and no one was giving up ground.  There was kicking, punching, it was a bad time.  At the first bouy things got clear and everything was fine.  I did pass an elite doing the backstroke about 300y in, not sure what was up with that, but it looked like he was having a worse day than me.  

Lesson:  Take the outside line and get to clean water fast, even if it means swimming a little further.


I kept T1 very minimal, but still didn't do a flying mount.  I don't practice short course transitions, and that's not really my thing, so I'll just take the hit for now.  I did go sockless, so it was sunglasses, helmet, shoes, go.

Time: 1:32.9 (2:46.1)


I got out on the bike and set up riding at 95% of FTP.  I passed a few roadies that I knew, so I was feeling pretty good about things, but then about 5 minutes in, I was in the hole, way over LTHR.  I backed down to about 85% and tried again.  Same thing.  For the first 5 miles, every time I pushed over 90% things went to hell.  I was perplexed, but for the last 6 I kept it at about 80-85% and just did what I could to manage things. 

I'd find out the next day, that my powertap race wheel had somehow broken.  It was reading between 11 and 15% under my training wheel.  What is worse is that the number it was giving me was variable.  Luckily Bloomington Cycle and Fitness stepped in to help me get it sent in for repair!   Those guys are life savers, with any luck that will be good to go by my next race.  I'd been having some wierd issues with it at TTs, and in retrospect I now see in my data that it has been getting worse and worse over the last few months.

Also, of note here.  I wasn't planning on carrying water, but Lana really wanted me to and I was glad I did.  I drank every time I had the opportunity, and needed it.  We had a big temperature swing this week, and no one has really had time to acclimate to that humidity / temp change.  

Lesson:  If you're going to depend on quantitative data for racing, you instrumentation has to be at 100%, checked and triple checked. 

I still managed to hang on to a good bike split, ending up at 16th overall on the bike, and 1st in my AG on the bike.

Time: 33:28 (35:02.8)
Distance: 13 Miles
MPH: 23.3 (22.3)


I got the bike in, changes shoes, and started the run.  When I reached the chip mat i realized I was still wearing my helmet.  Doh!  Classic newbie mistake.  I had to run back and put it back.  This was about a minute of my race.  Did I practice my transitions?  No...  I didn't make time for that.  My training has been really busy...shoulda coulda...anyway.

Lesson:  Transitions are part of the race, and you can't expect to do them well if you don't practice. 

Time: 1:54:.0 (1:18.8)


The run went really bad.  I recently ran a half marathon faster than I could pull together this 5k.  Very disappointing.  Why?  Couple ideas...  Because of the PM issue I was doing VO2max ints for the first 6 miles of the bike.  That can't help.  I struggled with the temperature and humidity, as did many other people.  There was alot of suffering out there.  Also I recently made some run form changes with a coach that haven't really soaked in yet and are causing me to wear out a little faster.  It could have been any of those things, it was probably a combination of all of them.  What's the lesson here?  Not sure.  The PM thing happened.  The heat was something that hurt everyone.  The run lessons will help in the long term, but suck in the short term.  Oh, I know.

Lesson:  As in life, bad things happen.  Keep moving anyway.

Time: 25:42.5 (25:51.9)
Pace: 8:17 (8:20)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meet Your Moment

Check out this awesome video from Team CLIF Bar.  It's really cool!  So what are you waiting for? Go meet your moment... 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Illinois Half Marathon 1:46:34

The Illinois Half was my first real race of the 2011 season.  It was also the first time I have run a half for time, rather than survival/to finish. 

My training this winter was a little unconventional.  My focus was on “getting fast.”  I spent a good amount of my time, something like 50+%, running at either 5k pace or T pace.  My MPW dropped from something like 40 to something closer to 20 most of the winter.  About 6 weeks out from the race I added some distance and race pace specificity to my run.  My goal was pretty clear, I wanted to close the gap between my Daniels predictor for HMP and my actual HMP.  Up until this race, I was running long stuff about 1:30/mi slower than my Daniels predictor and I wanted to dramatically decrease that spread. 

My theme for this race was execution.   Too often when I’m running I think about things like “oh, maybe if I just ran more like this, or did more of that.”  This time, because of my unconventional training, I went out of my way to focus on running my best race and keeping everything else out of my head.  The training choices were made, and my goal was just to use whatever fitness I had built as well as I could and put together a good race. 

My taper was pretty non-existant.  This was a B race for me, and I didn’t want to slow down my on-going bike/swim build.  I did rearrange things a bit.  My week looked like this:

Monday:  Easy Run / Swim 2700Y
Tuesday:  Run 30M HMP / Bike 40k w 2x20@100%
Wednesday:  Swim 1600Y / Run 4M, w 2M @HMP
Thursday: Swim 2700Y
Friday: Run 3M Easy w 1M@HMP

My run volume was tapered to about 50% for the week, and I dropped most of the intensity from Wednesday. 

My goal was to run an average of 8:00/mi for a finish time of 1:45:05.  My Daniels predictor was 7:48/mi for a goal of 1:42:17.  My PR for the distance was set during the Indianapolis Full at 2:04:03 as my half split.   I don’t run outside of triathlon very often, so I didn’t have a great predictor of what I could do, but the marathon split would have to do. 

Race Morning

Lana and I got up at 4AM and left for the race at 4:45, we had to drive about an hour and the gun was at 7:30. 

My pre-race breakfast was 2 peanut butter and honey sandwiches on that 35-calorie bread.  I wasn’t too concerned about banking calories, I mostly just wanted to keep my stomach full.  I ate normally (at no deficit) for 2 days leading up to the race, so I knew I was pretty much on a full tank.  I ate them in the car on the way with a 24 oz bottle of tea and my morning beta-alanine. 

Parking was good, but bathroom accessibility was not.  There are never enough bathrooms for these things. 

At 7:00 am, right before we checked our gear, I drank a 16 oz. cocktail of Gu brew, BCAAs, and First Endurance Pre-Race.

The Race

The wind was about 20 Mph, from the SSE, which was less than ideal.  I knew there were going to be some challenges with wind.  My strategy for dealing with it was to a.) draft a lot and b.) pace based on heart rate instead of GPS speed when I was running into the wind. 

My plan was to run my first two miles at 8:15 and 8:06.  Then I would fall into 8:00 until the 10-mile mark.  After that I’d run a 5k and see what I had.  Based on experience and some calculations on my calorie needs, my plan was to take a Honey Stinger Gold gel at mile 4 and 8 and drink water every time I could without slowing down considerably. 

My actual splits were:

1      8:12
2      8:03  -Just a bit too hot, kept it easy but there was a tail wind.
3      8:00
4      8:06 – Not sure what I did wrong here
5      8:02
6      8:07 – This was South into the wind
7      8:09 – For these miles I ran by HR at < LTHR and drafted
8      8:03
9      8:02
10  8:00 – From here on I ran pretty much on RPE/HR.
11  8:00
12  7:59
13  7:40
13.1  7:06

Post Race
After the race I waited just a few minutes for Lana to finish.  She PR’ed by 5 minutes as well.  After that we got a slice of pizza at the post race food place, and took a shower at the U of I ARC before making our way back to our friends hanging out in the bleachers at the U of I stadium. 

The day after I was 10 pounds heavier.  I went for an easy easy recovery ride on the bike, but I kept it short because I could tell I was hurt.  Based on that response from my body, I’d say I ran pretty much at my current fitness, and couldn’t have asked for much more.


Overall I ran 1:46:34 against my predicted time of 1:42:17.  It also appeared that the course was about .1 miles long, based on about every GPS watch out there. 

I closed the gap on my Daniels goal pace considerably, from 1:30/mi to about 0:12/mi.  I’ll take it.  I trained hard this winter, and I’ve come a long way.  I also executed a very good race with that hard-earned fitness.  I couldn’t really have done much more / better this time and I’m very happy with the results.

Thank you's all around, especially to Lana for her love and support, to my friends for their solid advice on all things multisport, Endurance Nation for their awesome and brutal Out Season coaching, K-Swiss and Saucony for making the best running gear available, and Honey Stinger for the best gel out there!

Friday, April 22, 2011


 Rudyard Kipling's If serves as a mantra to Chrissie Wellington.  I recently read an interview from Chrissie.  According to that interview, she writes the first few lines of If on her water bottles.

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,"

I read the poem today, briefly, before meeting Lana for lunch.  Later on, while I was swimming, my mind wandered back to it.   I've had a string of bad workouts.  I thought I was perhaps over trained.  Maybe, but more than that, I think I've been letting some negative stuff that has been thrown at me creep into my efforts. 

It was, to an extent, easier when I was alone in my basement in the winter.  Now there are suddenly eyes on me, eager to reward my efforts with criticism and negativity.  There are people that want to see me fail, and there are people jealous of my success in transforming my life. 

In a way, I suppose I should be happy that I have critics present.  It means I'm doing something worthy of the effort of criticism.  It also means I have to learn to be confident enough in myself to let that negativity roll off me.  If I let those thoughts in my head, I can't perform at 100% of my ability. 

This is something I've experienced in my professional life, and dealt with well, because there I am sure of myself and my abilities professionally.  Not so in athletics.  I'm very much just "finding my legs" in the athletic world, and learning my way around.  That's going to have to change, there is no room for that uncertainty in what I am about to attempt this year.  I'm going to have to bring my 'A' game mentally as well as physically.  


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling