Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In it

So, we're officially into week 3 and things are still pretty much on track, training-wise. I've continued to hit my goals for the week, and, physically speaking, everything feels good. The transition to more intense and extended cardio has taken a bit of getting used to - I'm now feeling the absence of running and biking from my life over the past few months - but I'm liking it. Having taken some time off, I feel pretty fresh and it seems almost new again.

The only workout I really don't look forward to is the long bike on Saturday - the weather is still crap here, so the trainer is getting a workout. And I forgot how horrible the trainer can be. Anything more than an hour is pretty miserable. I'm not sure how I made it though four and five hour rides preparing for IM Arizona - I can't imagine doing that again. I'm just hoping that the weather improves enough in May to actually get out on the roads. That's not asking too much, is it?

Otherwise, things are pretty low-key here. Unfortunately, our sprint tri in Galena may have to get scrubbed - Drew has had an unexpected family issue arise, and I'm not sure I want to expend the time/$$$ to go up there alone, but we'll see. But Ragnar is still on the agenda for June, and I'm looking forward to that as something new and exciting.

And speaking of new and exciting, I definitely want to do one of these next year:'


Monday, April 18, 2011

Things I like

Even though I'm very small potatoes in the blog world, and receive nothing in the form of endorsements or discounts from anyone for anything I write here, I still thought it might be helpful to occasionally post about things I like (usually related to training). I know when I started in triathlon, I had no idea what to eat, drink, wear, etc., and there were even fewer options then than there are now. I think I've ingested just about every type of bar, drink, and gel, and am now on my fifth type of bike helmet since 2004. Obviously, everyone is different, and what I think is great may not be so great for you, but I'd definitely recommend that you at least try some of the things that have worked for me - it might totally change your training and racing. Hopefully, for the better.

Today I'm plugging Gu energy gels. And I'm not talking Roctane, Gu's high end cousin, but rather the original Gu. Not the recovery tea, or the blocs, or whatever else they have out there, either. Just the plain ol' Gu energy gel that's been around since 1991 (look, I even did research for this post!). Not that the other stuff isn't good, but it's just not my focus today.

Gu, for me, is like the high school sweetheart you left behind when you went to college, and then later wish was still part of your life. I started with Gu when I started in triathlon, actually while I was still just doing running events, but I was tempted by all the new gel formulas that quickly entered the market, and left Gu behind. I dabbled with the Power Bar variety, the Cliff Shot, even the Accelerade, Carb Boom, and Hammer offerings. But I soon came back to Gu (unlike the high school sweetheart). They weren't the same.

I'm certainly not smart enough to know the science behind it, but Gu just seems to work for me. Much better than the other stuff on the market. I slug it down, and instantly feel energized. I actually look forward to the point during the run or ride when I can rip one open, because I know that it will make me feel better. And I like the little things - there's a million different flavors (or Plain, which is actually one of my favorites), and while it can be a little thick when it's cold out, warming it up makes it easy to take in on the bike or run. You can even mix it in a flask with water to make it extra-liquidy, which I did for IM Arizona a few years ago. In fact, that's about all I took in for that race, and felt fine the whole time. It's also easy on my stomach, which can be super sensitive on race days.

So, there you go. Like I said, the folks at Gu don't know me from Adam, and I'm not asking them for anything - this is just my little tip for you. Energy gels can be hugely effective for training and racing, so if you're not using them, you should give them a try. Sample a few different kinds, but make sure there a Gu Chocolate Outrage in the mix - it looks and tastes just like frosting, and what could be better than that?


Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekly schedule

One of the great things about training for an Ironman is that you never need to spend any time wondering what type of exercise you want to do on a given day. The plan tells you what you're doing. And for how long. And how hard.

This can, of course, also be a huge draw back, if you just don't feel like doing what's on the plan for that day. Or doing it as long as it wants you to do it. Or as hard as it says to do it.

The 30-week plan that I'm following, and followed for IMWI 2009, as well, is pretty straight forward. And, yes, I have the schedule printed out as a graph so it's easy to see what the week holds (I'm not naturally a graph person, unlike many/most IM participants, but the graph was given to me by a friend that followed the same plan, so I'm using it).

A typical week looks like this:

- Monday = rest day (love that the week starts with rest - how can you argue with that?!);
- Tuesday = swim/run (distances and times vary as the plan progresses);
- Wednesday = bike/run;
- Thursday = swim/bike;
-Friday = run;
- Saturday = bike;
- Sunday = run.

I've previously altered this schedule slightly to fit our life schedule, and will likely do the same this time. For example, this week I just biked on Thursday, and swam today instead of running. Because my run is probably my strong suit, and has the greatest chance for injury over the long-term, I will probably do fewer runs than the plan provides and instead put that time toward a strength session and more biking. Drew and I usually ride long on Sundays, and we can run with Cath's marathon training group on Saturdays, so those days usually get reversed. Don Fink, the guy who put this plan together, encourages people to do some measure of strength training each week - mostly core stuff, and nothing too exhausting - and I'm going to try to keep at least one session in each week, which I didn't bother to do the last time we IM trained. We'll see if bringing it back into the fold will make any difference.

Other than that, I plan on trying to keep to the plan pretty vigorously this year. I did well this week - which is probably a good thing, seeing as it was week 1 - and hit each of the workouts, except that run on Friday (which, as mentioned, will probably disappear from my schedule altogether). So far, so good, but it's early still - the hard work is still a ways down the road.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 1

Well, there are over 200 days until I - hopefully - get a glimpse of the finish line at IM Florida, but you gotta start somewhere.

And today was that somewhere. Day one.
IM training has officially begun, and I'm excited and grateful to be in a position - physically and otherwise - to begin this journey once again.

I remember attending a group pre-race dinner put on by a triathlon coach friend of ours several years ago for her athletes that were about to take on IM Wisconsin. The coach asked some of us who had already completed the race to give a few words of advice on race strategy and the like, and, when it was my turn, I got choked up just thinking and talking about the experience again. I think I actually had to stop and check myself before continuing. I'm not generally a mushy person, but the memories created by an IM race - and the effort that I made to get there - are so vivid and so deep, that the emotions were just right there. So much can go wrong - in the days and weeks leading up to the race, and on race day itself - you realize that the journey could have ended at any point along the route. But if it all comes together, those are memories you'll have for the rest of your life.

It meant a lot to complete that Ironman race, and the two I've done since then have been equally rewarding, so to be in a position to once again start that trip is reason in itself to give thanks. I'm lucky that I have a wife that supports this lifestyle, generally good health, and the disposable income to throw on race fees and travel. I'm lucky to have friends that enjoy spending their weekends on long runs and rides in the middle of nowhere, days which typically start way too early in the morning. And I'm lucky to have the genetics to be somewhat proficient at all three sports that make up this silly sport.

I hope I make it the start line in one piece this year, but I also recognize that the true value of finishing an Ironman race comes from the training you put in to get there. The race, itself, is just frosting on the cake. So I'm going to relish this feeling and the days that lie ahead because it's this effort that will make another IM finish so memorable.
Here we go.