Friday, March 30, 2012

Taper Time!

Tomorrow is five weeks from race day, and this is when I usually start thinking about my taper! So, I called my coach this morning and we discussed two different types of tapers. The first would have been taking a rest week next week and then doing a very heavy week after, and begin a traditional taper the week after that. This would be the more standard approach. We also talked about a "trimming the fat" approach, since my training has been going well and my fatigue feels manageable. The next few weeks will involve 2-3 ironman specific intense days, with easy recovery days in between to gradually "trim" my fatigue. I've done all of my long runs, done plenty of long bikes, and so, this approach feels right to me. The other thing I like about it is mental, really getting into the mental side of Ironman. As I'm trying to improve this year, getting into the "zone" is something I want to practice and gain confidence with.

I think if you still need those long runs and long bikes in preparation, a traditional taper makes sense. If training has gone great and you already feel ready to race, the gradual approach maintaining some good intensity seems very interesting. Tapering is both an art and a science, one of the things I love about triathlon and Ironman in particular!

Finally, it's also mentally quite invigorating to say that I'm starting my taper!

In preparation for this, I swam 3800 yards this morning and then biked 93 miles (5 hours), four hours of which was right at ironman effort/pace. This is to get my legs "softened up" for a bike/run "brick" tomorrow, and a quality long run on Sunday. I love ironman training! I realize that today's workout was essentially 85% of the swim/bike component of an actual ironman. The best art is that my legs feel fine, as do I, just an hour after finishing the workout. I keep gettng excited!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ironman 3 Day Weekend

So, friday morning I got up early and went to the pool.  Swam 4500 yards with a solid and consistent effort from the beginning to the end.  We then had meetings and errands to run the rest of the day, so I didn't get to do my bike ride until after 5pm, when I made my way out for a very solid ride until the sun went down.  I got 38 1/2 miles in in under 2 hours, and my quads even felt a little tired and sore.  Tried to eat and drink as much as possible and get a good night sleep before getting up before sunrise and getting out for my long ride as the sun came up.  It was chilly, but I dressed warm and got in 3 1/2 hours of riding prior to meeting up with my friend Rudy, who rode with me for the rest of my ride.  The ride included well over 4 hours of ironman paced riding and I felt better at the end of the ride than I did at the beginning of it!  We stopped after I'd ridden 103 miles because Rudy bonked, I could have kept going, but I quickly put on my running shoes and did a hard 2 mile run at 7:45 pace.  I couldn't believe it!  It was hard, but I still did it.  More eating and drinking the rest of the day.  Was curious how I'd feel this morning, must admit my quads felt tired and a tad sore, but I was ready for my run workout of 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Three 30 minute "tempo efforts" later, right around 8:40 pace, while my heart rate stubbornly wouldn't go up.  Three days, 141 cycling miles, 16.5 running miles and 2.7 swim miles later, and I was ready to kick back and relax.  With six weeks to go to Ironman St. George, this was my best indication that I'm ready for the race.  In fact, I'm not sure that my legs will feel any worse when I hit the run in six weeks than they did today!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Relaxing is the key to everything, especially swimming

In honor of my biggest swim week ever, 12,600 yards this week, I just thought that I'd comment on the importance of relaxation.  It's remarkable that trying to swim harder often just leads to getting tired, and not swimming faster.  Relaxing is also key in biking and running, but it's a little less obvious in these disciplines.  That said, I've been learning that when I'm doing a really hard workout and things get tough, I try to relax, and that allows me to make it through the workout.

Relaxing is also the key to life.  Taking a deep breath and just trying to relax is often the key to a challenging situation.

So, my thought for the day, Relax!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's never about winning, it's all about the journey

I've often contemplated how hard the pros must have it.  Trying to win every time out.  So, you win some races.  Maybe you even win Hawaii six times.  What then?  At some point, you can't win.  It's an impossible task to set a goal of always winning.  Life is similar.  I know people who always have to win.  Some of these people are very sucessful (in other people's eyes, of course).  So, they win.  What then?  They have to win again, and again. 

I don't care whether it's triathlon, a game of basketball, chess, business, or life.  If you make it all about winning, you will ultimately lose.  If you make it about the journey, you can always win.  We learn something on every journey that we take.  I've had races where my times aren't what I wanted, but I learned something about myself.  I love Ironman St. George because of the beautiful surroundings.  At the end of the day, the racing will take care of itself. 

My journey to St. George this time around has been unique and different from the last two years.  My life is different, as it always is.  My training is different, as it sometimes is.  I've continued to train well, but I've had my bumps on the road.  A torn quadriceps muscle at the end of December, my left achilles continues to nag at me, but hasn't slowed me down yet.  The body responds, sends messages, sometimes I listen, sometimes I don't.  Most days I wake up looking forward to the next workout.  Yesterday, I woke up looking forward to my workouts, but recognizing that I wanted today off from training.  So, with the blessing of my coach, that's what I did.  Mentally, I know I'll be raring to go tomorrow and especially this weekend, which will be full of workouts!  Six weeks and two days to go to St. George.  Really, it's three weeks and two days to beginning my taper.  Which means, only three weeks of "serious" training left. 

We never really "win" in life, we just continue our journey.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Third Times a Charm: My Journey to Ironman St. George

Two years ago, I was just starting to ramp up my training for my first ironman, what I would later learn was one of the hardest (if not the hardest) ironman course in the world.  After seeing Julie Moss crawl across the finish line of the Hawaii Ironman almost thirty years earlier, I, like many others, had always wanted to do an ironman.  I had originally made a goal of doing one when I turned forty, but life got in the way.  I decided that I wasn't going to let the age of fifty pass without doing an ironman.  What I didn't plan on was a bike accident six months before the race which left me with a broken clavicle and a broken hip socket.  Fortunately, everything healed, leaving me with four months to prepare.  Looking back at my training logs, as of this time in my preparation for St. George 2010, I had somehow managed to do 5 long runs (over 2 hours), the longest one being 16.7 miles.  I had done 5 long bike rides (over 4 hours), the longest one being 5 hours/88 miles.  I ultimately completed my first ironman in 13 hours and 18 minutes, walking half of the marathon, but still doing the marathon in just over five hours.  I was hooked, and it didn't take long for me to sign up for the 2011 Ironman St. George.  By this time in my preparation last year, I had completed 7 long runs, the longest one being 20.1 miles.  I had also done 6 long bike rides, the longest one being almost 5 1/2 hours/100 miles.  I improved my bike time and finished my second St. George ironman in 12 hours and 44 minutes, again walking half of the marathon and completing it in just over five hours.  I thought I was done with ironman until I watched the 2011 Ironman World Championships and realized that I wanted another shot at St. George.  I spoke to my coach and started my training.  I've done 13 long runs (fifteen if I count a couple of "two a day" runs), the longest one being 21 miles on my daughter's 21st birthday.  I've done 10 long bike rides, the longest one being almost 6 1/2 hours/90 miles as part of a 360 mile/6 mile vertical week of riding.  Over the past three days I biked a solid 3 hours (58 miles), ran 18 miles and biked 3 1/2 hours (63 miles), and I'm feeling good.  I have seven weeks to go before St. George and I feel better than ever.  I don't know how I'll do, but I know I will enjoy the race once again!

Monday, March 12, 2012

55 Days to St. George

It's been awhile since I've blogged. So much has been going on, I should recount some of the things. I spent February in California visiting my daughter, who got married and started a new job and move in the fall. I was able to get a ton of great sea level training in during this time, including 5 days of cycling 360 miles with over 6 mile of climbing. Oh, we also bought a house near my daughter and we'll be moving in May, after Ironman St. George. I'll also be going into semi-retirement at that time, which I'm quite excited about. So, I'm winding down at work, packing, spending time with my wife, and continuing to train for Ironman St. George. My training was going great until my wife and I finally got the respiratory virus going around about 12 days ago while driving back from California. It kicked my butt a few days, but hell, I showed it, running a half marathon on the fifth day of the bug, and then running another 15 mile this weekend! All at low to moderate intensity, there's a very fine balance between training/exercise and illness. My training and fitness are better than ever, and, I shouldn't admit this, I'm going to smash my previous times at St. George! Our new Internet business in California is about to take off. What else is new? I think that's enough. Of interest, we always have to remember that to some degree, stress is stress, when it comes to the impact on our bodies. Our system doesn't always appreciate the difference between good and bad stressors. So, this afternoon I get to rest, aside from dealing with an overflowed toilet and clogged plumbing. Seems like we've been dealing with one plumbing issue after another all winter. The new house looks good, though. I've also been enjoying the comedy channel, which is any channel showing the republican primary. I'm quit e tired of the people calling for the appeal of "obamacare", so, it wasn't the best bill, but the people condemning it have no clue as to what was wrong, or right, about it! Health care has been my business for the last 20 years, and, the Affordable Care Act isn't the end of civilazation as we know it! While this blog has historically been about my athletic pursuits, I may extend out a bit from that onto other issues in e future.

55 days to go before St. George. At this time last year, I put in about half of the long bikes and long runs as I've done this year. If I can bring this home over the next 8 weeks with some solid runs and bikes and swims, it will truly be fun to see what my body can do. 52 years old and getting stronger and fitter, I love it!