Officially NOT registered for Ironman anything

Potentially insensitive and glaringly generalized thoughts ahead.....

The best things in life are free, and if they aren't free, then they darn sure aren't the best. Now that that logic has been revealed feast your eyes on this next one: Ironman isn't even close to free. In fact, purchasing your entry to a full Ironman distance comes at a price, like pulling the fire-alarm while school is in session because you thought it to be the cool thing to do. I've been down that road, and everyone else with a damn bit of sense looks at you as if you've lost your mind. My point is, registering for, and doing an Ironman for some folks (read on for detail), is like being drawn into the barrel as a fish, buying a snuggie, blogging or what-have-you-ing at a Starbucks, or purchasing a special edition anything - in the end, you sit there dead, with an vaguely anatomical blanket, the feeling of being original once on your mind, and with the realization that what you thought you purchased wasn't really limited edish. Ironman is currently a fad, stupid expensive and depending on the day, warrants a cringe and a headache.

I recently read a friend of mine's status update. It went: Officially registered for Ironman blah blah blah 2012. When I got to Ironman, it all sort of blurred together because it made no sense. In my opinion, here are the categories of those who should not do IM.

- You are 18-24 or 25-29 for that matter. Phillip Graves, 21, went big time at Ironman UK and won, then proceeded to have self control issues and has completely fallen off the map. He knew it too, and said so in a ST article.
- You have yet to do a half. If you haven't done an olympic, or sprint, you may want to stop reading now and cancel your registration. I've had plenty of people tell me that so and so was going to do an IM and had never done a tri before. Stellar.
- If you have any knowledge of the word budget and you understand that as the dollar amount goes up, the ROI is often much much less. - I can do 4 luxurious olympic distance races for the price of one IM. Who will have more fun?

And there are more, but what it comes down to is respect for the event. Call me what you will, but unless you are at least 50 years old, finishing past 15 hours is pedestrian, and you probably did not give the event, nor the other competitors their due, and you probably didn't do your homework either. On the other hand, while watching the night walkers with glowsticks galore during the Kona footage is cleverly twisted to be inspirational, the real truth is that those people did not prepare, or I guess that could have had a really crappy day. They were caught up in the hype, the fame, the glory of the event, something other than training. Sure, you look like hell coming across the line, and you battled dehydration yada yada, but objectively, you likely just didn't care enough or have your priorities in order.

When I was growing up and my dad was trying to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, the event was legendary. It commanded respect from everyone who entered. But I think, frankly, as of the past 2 or 3 years, when folks have failingly put themselves on the brink, and droves of people gather in the lights to cheer them across the line at 15, 16, 17 hours, I think that's the wrong idea. Ironman seems like it should be about mastery, about experience - having built it, and looking to gain it - about breaking your self down to see if you're fit to play.

I do not see it as an emotional playground, or a practice test. No, there are plenty of chances before then. Finishing the swim past the time cut off like I witnessed in last year's footage should not illicit devastation and crying. It should evoke embarassment and some serious self-reflection. Bottom line is you knew what the cutoff was, and you probably knew you wouldn't make it. Thank you, come again. Heartless? No, realistic. I've heard grueling stories about Kona's winds. They are practically telling you to "toughen up or I'll blow you the 'f' off this island." How's that for some reconsideration?

Ironman is selling you what it is not: a good time, mildly challenging event, at beautiful venues and scenic courses. And for that, I will not sign up. I went 4:55 at Muncie this year, and I have no business doing a full. Shanahan says that to do that race legitimately, you have to train 20-30hrs/wk. I couldn't agree more. Make that reason #2 why I won't even consider it. But the most important is that I don't deserve the chance. People like my dad, Sue, Bob, Dave, Tim, they all deserved the chance. They paid their dues with the shorter distances, wrangled in the workload bit by bit, and went and succeeded. In talking with Scott and others at the shop, there is a fine combination of what it takes to earn an accomplishment. The question I ask myself is, have I done the work to earn the prize? Ask twice, evaluate, then answer once.

In my opinion, Ironman should make people question their abilities. Question whether they can do it. But as a commercial big business, the only thing they really ask for is your money. To do any non-world championship IM, they merely suggest that you have done at least one race prior. What a joke.

Until IM beefs up their entry requirements and shortens the finishing cut off, I'm 90% sure I won't do one. Unless of course, I could do one in training. For Free.

Jelly Legs and Airforce Ones: Time machine blog to my first triathlon

At the end of whatever race it is I decide to do next, I will be able to throw another notch on the scratch board for a total of 5 years of triathlon. Wouldn't it be cool to go back and see myself at my first race ever? I was 19, ripe off of one year rowing, and had spent the summer learning how to bike with my Dad, running when I could, and in general being an idiot after my first year of college. It was the summer I used to run the IU football stadium stairs (that nonsense burns real bad when you get 20ft from the top), bike 20 miles at a time (tops) and swam whatever. But I took it very seriously. Sounds like a terrible 90's song.

Hilariously, I would go on to weigh 230 that fall rowing season. There's another joke for ya.

So I show up race morning - probably weighed 215. Blue, suede Air Force Ones, New Balance "Will never wear them for a triathlon again" shorts, baggy XXL tee. Party time in transition.

In all seriousness, I was dressed like that, and I had a Keith Anderson framed bike (still have it!) which was a

58cm or something ridiculous, spring loaded aerobars, and all the while I was worried about my tender swimmers feet landing on something undesirable while running from the swim to transition. Nowadays, I think beginners are smarter than I was and they don't put dinosaur aerobars on their road bike, but I wanted them no matter what. Guaranteed I had the worst fit ever on that quill-stem bike built for someone under 6'.

Speaking of poor fit, I remember being so cramped in the aero position that
I would crank the largest gear I could just so I didn't have to deal with my knees hitting me in the chest (ok, embellishment) as often. It was an awesome strategy. Rolling almost 19mph for 17mi at 50rpm can give you only one possible outcome for the run. A combination of what it feels like to drive a car with wet concrete for tires, and jog with 10lbs of sweat soaked cotton sheeting hanging off your torso, because you KNOW when I got to transition off the bike I tried in vain to put a white cotton shirt on. I looked like a ghost trapped in its sheet leaving T2. Later I would learn of number belts. Later.

With about 1/2mi to go, I began to walk. The fans got intense then. Not Malice at the Palace intense, but one dude kept insisting that I run again, immediately. Not just once, but he pursued me on the course. Unnecessary. Later, 3 years later, I would discover how to appropriately respond in a situation like this. Dialogue went like this:

Narrative: Man rounds the corner to the first aid station. Stops and walks as he approaches.
Obnoxious 14-yr old girl volunteer: Oh don't STOP. You gotta run.
Angered participant: HEY, it's my race, and I'll do what the hell I want.
Obnoxious 14-yr old girl volunteer: WATER!

Great story. As I was coming to the finishing chute, that white shirt I was wearing was sweaty indeed. I was a large chested man. And when that be the combination, throw in some insecurity, my biggest concern was, "how can I hunch so THO wont show through when I cross the finish line?" The joys of being a teenager.

21st Overall
Swim: 7:42 T1: 0:48 - .5mi
Bike: 56:36 T2: 1:02 - 17mi
Run: 24:08 - 5k
TT: 1:30:16
Second Overall in the swim!

So those were my benchmarks. New goal: When having bad thoughts out on the course present day, remember the panache I had at 19, then smile and get on with my life. I've been taking results too seriously after races lately. Why should I? Into this world or the triathlon one, we all come out flailing anyway.

Race Report - Age Group Nationals:

The short of it is I was 76/~100 dudes in my age group. 2:13:59 Overall time. I thought it possible to go 2:05, and I still feel I'm not illusioned about that. Lend me some time, and I'll tell you about it. Also, before you read on, know that I am very thankful for everyone's encouragement and support - it is appreciated on many levels! Whitney, Carolyn, and Brent - you all are awesome. Chasing me around transition with your obnoxious signs, challenging me to a race through transition (Carolyn), and being there for me at the end was great. It was more than I could have asked for.

Breakin' it down, one leg at a time:
22:05 Swim - Great water temp. Unreal. Felt great especially since my pre-race swim was thwarted, leaving this swim my first in 5 days. The time for me is weak sauce with a dash of stupidity. After the first buoy, I turned, followed the feet of the age groups before me, except I was duped! - After what felt like the time the next buoy should have appeared. I stopped, threw open the goggles and looked around. SH*%! The orange floater was about 200m in the other direction. I busted ass to get there, but lost time. How much? I don't know. I felt great the whole time, though.

1:05:29 Bike - 22.7mph avg. - Just wasn't meant to be. Fun ride though. Hills were abrupt and short, but momentum killers. Talking to the winner at the hostel, I discovered I had a lousy strategy for them. Turns out he floored it just before and held most of his mo
mentum over the top. I would just hang on to the speed, easy gear early, and try to gear up as I crested the hill. It made me feel good, but my speed didn't fair so well. His, on the o
ther hand was by far the fastest on the day for anyone - going 56:34 on that course - that'll blow your mind. Watch out Starky! I did get passed by a few women out on the course which made have some dark thoughts about whether I was even going to complete the event. Trust me, I tried to reel them in. Fail.

44:08 Run - 7:08 pace. I don't really have much to say except for I disappointed myself on this one. ACTUALLY, my last 3mi was under 20mins, which helps me save face, but the 24min first 5k drove the coffin nail deep. A crushing first hill gave way to probably 5+miles of relatively flat/downhill to the finish. I have to say - mentally I wasn't really prepared for the types of individuals that would be passing me. It's not really the type so much (they were all on hammertime), but the ages that would pass me, and sometimes how they did it was outrageous. I saw some women my age fly by. And at those moments, I was instantly reminded of my clydesdale category body. When more and more ectomorphs bound ahead with what looks like not a care in the world, you start to think skinny thoughts. For body type explanation - see diagram.

All in all, I have to say that I wasn't thrilled with it. Maybe I didn't prepare accordingly, and maybe my peak attempt didn't work so well, as I may not have had the fitness required to peak.

The trip positives:
1. Great swim - will implement the strategy next year of swimming not once the week of the race. (I'm serious, every time I've done this, I feel phenomenal)
2. Last 5k of the run - happy to know I actually CAN feel better as the run goes on.
3. Awesome venue, great aid stations, great supporters (Whitney, Carolyn, and Brent!) and humbling competition.
4. Staying in the hostel - cheap, filled with interesting people; from the overall race winner to a 67 year old Californian who had been there 10 days. Fun to meet a crowd like that.
5. Boston afterwards.

The elements I would have thrown out:
1. 2mph Crash which bent my front wheel the day before the race.
2. The rented wheel for 15 bucks - granted, it was a carbon clincher, but it also came with a tube which valve's stem was not long enough for the pump to grab. Changed that sucker 10mins before transition closed race morning. 3rd place overall, who was next to me on the rack looked at me and asked - last minute change? I held back the long story leading up to that and responded with, 'ya dude, craziness.'
3. Walking ~2mi each way to pick up my packet after bike fiasco - not exactly my ideal pre-race run.
4. The beach being closed on a beautiful 75 degree evening at 7pm. I wanted to swim. They stole my dream.
5. Packing 2000 people into one corner of town that had one way out. Traffic was insane.

Next time:
1. I will drink more on the bike - not enough calories/salt in prep for the run. Wont do that again.
2. Taper less - the mind is a very powerful organ and should it be deprived of cortisol, dopamine and the like during race week, it tosses and turns as if I just broke my ankle. Not doing enough during race week made me feel slightly inadequate on race day. Enough said.

Not sure about upcoming races as I'm in need of some rest. Feeling fried. Definitely in the mood for some fall/winter. Trail runs and snowboarding sounds amazing right now.

Age Group Nats - Preview

I'm more excited to travel than I am to race. That's an easy call. Whitney is going with, so that will definitely make the trip 100x better. Leaving Thursday, sleeping in the Adirondacks, arriving in Burlington - we're taking the ferry across the lake (baller)!- on Friday for a trio of workouts and exploring. The plan is to stay in a hostel, a first for me, but I'm excited. Could be rad.

The predictions, not that they're worth much.
-Swim: Provided that it will be a wetsuit swim and I get a good wave, I should be 19 and change. Who knows, though, I could have a junky wave and get kicked in the schnoz, but you know, 19 and change sounds nice. I've done a mile for time, a broken mile for time, and progressive interval sets of 100s and 50s totaling a mile's worth of work and each time I've been 20:00 or under with 19:05 being my best. 20mins was for the straight mile. My calculations are never correct on what a wetsuit is worth, but I'd say it gives me a robust chance at sub-20. Water is low 70's now - should be great!

-Bike: In the 2-week drill leading up to the race I've almost replicated exactly what I did leading up to Tampa when my bike split was just over an hour. It was by far the best I've felt all year on the bike, and though the course profile isn't at all what St. Anthony's was, I still think with the big downhill towards the end of the bike that I have as good a chance as any at breaking 1:00. For the first time I'll have some business wheels on. A disc in the back and 808 firecrest on the front. Every little bit helps! I must include that as of now I feel really fresh on two wheels. The last time trial I did was a 20sec PR for 10mi, and hill work in the aero position has made me stronger for any positive gradient I might happen upon. I put in a lot of hard intervals this winter and summer thanks to some conversational guidance from the guys at the bike shop, so with the right rest I should be hammer time.

-Run: The dice have yet to be rolled in this department. I think I'm capable of running 6:20s, which would give me 39:15, but more realistically, on the course provided, I'll probably slide in just at 40mins. I haven't put a lot of concerted effort into the run this year, reason being my surgery last year and trying to play it cool for the entire season with no injuries. Success so far! What is more, I did have a PR 5k earlier in the spring at the YMCA run. All in all, the run will determine how close to 2:05 I get. That's the goal. All things considered, I would be thrilled!

Then it's off to Canada for three days and then back to work. The travel is the best part. I have learned the most in my life from going places, seeing things, talking with people. Sitting in the car for hours on end has allowed me to discover myself, and I think to comfortably travel long distances with just yourself, you've got to be open to the possibility of learning things about yourself you hadn't planned on knowing. It's the pause button. My mind needs it. It needs to do tons of shit for umpteen weeks, then rest and think about what happened and what I learned and where to go next. In the past, those times let me figure out that I really don't like racing. Not even at all. If you compare it to maps, new roads, new people, and great experiences, it only lets you find out one thing - if you can take the pain, or not.

Getting a Coach

Over the past few years of my Triathlon career I have always said that I would never have a coach or that it cost too much money. But as the season has come along this year I have done some talking with Alex and thinking myself on how am I going to get faster? Because I don't have the answer and my training methods are not working for me. My biggest goal in Triathlon is to break 2 hours in an Olympic distance race. One of the biggest setbacks from keeping me do this is my run. I can run a 10k under 40 minutes easy by itself but when you add a swim and bike in front of it, it tanks to over 45 minutes. So before Ironman Muncie I decided that it was time to find a coach to help me accomplish my goals. I chose Ben Weaver out of Columbus, Indiana. Ben is a very talented athlete himself. He owns Epic Coaching and Training which helps athletes complete anything from a 5k to a full Ironman race. He cares about his clients and designs workouts for each and every one of his athletes so that they can complete their goals. This couldn't be a better fit.

Since the beginning of July I have been working with Ben and have seen great improvements in my last two races! I think that I will be able to fulfill my goal of breaking two hours when I go to Iowa on September 4th. Deciding to get a coach was a good decision because when I see progress in my training and at races it gives me motivation to work harder at my goals. It also gets tough sometimes and workouts are hard and tiring but at the end of the day I know that I am one step closer to achieving my goals!

Thats all for now, but until next time Happy Training

Tri Indy along with New Training

In preparation for the Hy-Vee championship race that I will be doing in September I decided to do Tri Indy to see where I am at with my new training schedule that my coach has been having me do! This race is pretty awesome. The swim is in the canal that works it's way through downtown Indianapolis and it draws a lot of good competition.

The positives:

I have had a PR on my run split the last two races I have done. Running 4-5 times a week along with doing brick workouts has made it easier to get off the bike and really hit the run hard.

My swim felt awesome today. My stroke felt smoother and I felt like I wasn't horsing it the entire time.

Out on the bike it has been easier to really hammer it longer. The reason for this is that in training rides coach Ben has been having me do 2x15 mins race pace or 3x10 mins race pace. Doing this while training helps my body to get used to going really hard for long periods of time not just on race day.

The bad:

I need to eat more of bike for energy. I wasn't lacking energy, but I feel like it may help. Just something to think about.

Last but not least. I need to carry spare tire stuff during races. I got a flat tire at about mile 19 and ran for nearly 35 minutes with my bike. It sounded like a horse coming down the street because of my bike shoes. Luckily with about 2 miles to go somebody from T3 multisport gave me a spare and a Co2 pump. I have always told myself that if I got a flat I would drop out but today was the first time it actually happened and I knew that if I didn't complete the race I would have let myself down and I think when you do that it makes you think its OK to give up, when really it only makes you stronger.

Even with my flat tire and running down the street with my bike I still finished in 2:27.26 which isn't bad at all.

Strength Gains and 11 Weeks With An Extra Foot

About this time last year, I was in the gym 3x perweek strength training my ass off. I couldn't run - I had a bout of turf toe shot at me by some intervals run with Shanahan around the IU stadium - and my surgery on my ankle was looming just a day after I planned torace the Columbus Challenge Triathlon hot turkey.

Attention - please do NOT run if you have a chipped talus bone in your foot. Over time, you're foot will adapt and over compensate on one side. Instead of slamming down at 5
:45/mi pace evenly, you will inevitably and with a high level of inconvenience, slam your all your weight on the joint of your big toe. I used to laugh at football players who couldn't 'tough it out'. Ya, no longer.

I hadn't biked, and nor had a swum. Note: Hadn't refers to 3x or less in the last month and a half.

But I could do cable squat jumps for running and cycling power, core work,
arm work (did lots of tricep things in preparation for having three
walking legs - two of them
being aluminum), and in general hope for the best. That said, I was shocked to discover that I got third Overall at the race with not a running mile in two months.

A result like that has you wondering. I felt like I had won the consumer's dream. Something for nothing. But it wasn't nothing. Strength is the key. I had 8 weeks in the tank of slinging steel. Prediginous!

The hard part - NOBODY I knew, and barely a research article conclusion out there indicated that what I did should have happened. Perusing many blogs for triathlon you read that strength training, especially for big units like myself should not be a priority.
Better your time should be spent on the bike or with your
feet in your sneaks. Hell, there's a drove of forum threads on Slowtwitch with strength/crossfit/less is more bashers. More is more? Yes, the equation follows, but really, nothing is as it seems. I'm of the opinion that you can't be strong enough for your own body. Very few are, and if you have to wonder if you are, you aren't. Just my opinion.

I strength trained more than I ever have this past winter and the injuries are very few and minor. Certainly! That's the primary reason skinnies in
triathlon weight train, for injury prevention. It's obvious they don't do so to increase performance - that assertion is left for crossfit contentious assholes. Ha.

Yeah yeah (great Sandlot character), BUT, my times on the run, bike, and swim have been much better this year, too. Was it because I strength trained? "How many licks to the center of the tootsie roll pop?" the owl asks. The world will really never know. I will say this - in implementing what was somedays, an insane weight training program for the swimmers I help coach at the high school, we had the best season the school has ever had.

In my opinion, skinnies will be skinnies and they should play that card. Odds are they already sling their weight fairly efficiently. But big units and clydes, or those heavy for their height run around with a lot of fuel hanging of the edges. No, I don't necessarily mean fat.
In order to bridge the gap to the skinnies, we've got to be heavy hitters and put that extra on the edges to good use by making it as strong as we can. It would follow then, that the skinnies who do the same with what they've got would only be that much better. Case in point: pros who weight train, Scott doing P90X last year (he won 3 races after he stopped), and the local 5k stud who is in the weight room all spring so he can gas you at the Mag 7 race series. John Heistand got second at state in the 800 2 years in a row. Frustrated, likely, I saw him in the weight room consistently the entire summer and fall before he nearly set the state record and won the 800 going away. Sometimes anecdotal evidence is all you can find.

Injuries aside, I will NOT be spending 11 weeks on crutches this year after this Saturday. I'll be racing on Sunday to break the memory. Enough reading this, shouldn't you be lifting something?