Forget training, write a novel

Coolness comes but once a year...that time has passed.
- Steve Wood

I'm taking a little time off from training to let my knee heal. One more week, and I'll be back at it, but in the meantime I've been working on my training program and reading a great book, Lore of Running. It's one of the most researched books I've ever read. Lore of Running is an incredible book, but it's not for the faint of heart. Over 900 pages on running.

November is National Novel Writing Month www.nanowrimo.org for those who feel like taking on the challenge.

A friend of mine introduced me to Pride and Glory several years ago, and every time I listen to them Cheri accuses me of listening to country. You decide...

Here's a song that always makes my playlist for workouts...

Here's some Josh Todd from his brief stint as a solo artist when Buckcherry broke up. Buckcherry is a favorite of mine. Cheri doesn't accuse them of being country; she accuses them of being no-talent ass clowns.


Time off

Toby left a comment on my post about the Saris Gala that compelled Abby to write an apology e-mail. I must admit I'm quite humored by the situation. Good stuff.

Abby, no worries. When you read Toby's comment with a British accent it almost sounds charming. And that's why chicks dig the accent. Be thankful he doesn't have a southern accent.

Again, my doc urged me to decrease my training volume and take some time off because my knee isn't healing. I'd like to ignore his request and increase my training purely out of spite. But...for the first time in my life...I'm going to listen to the doc. I'm making this an easy week, then I'm taking a week off, then I'm starting out with an light week to ease back into it. Then it's 26 weeks of intense training for the Florida Half Ironman. Then about 3 months of intense training for the Wisconsin Ironman. Then I sit on the couch for the rest of my life....or maybe I'll do the London Marathon. How cool would that be?

Who thinks I should look like a jackass for the majority of November to compete in the mustache growing contest at work?


Saris Gala

It might be the British accent. I'm not sure. But whatever it is, chicks dig Phil Liggett. Cheri is one of those chicks, and Thursday she got a chance to meet him at the Saris Gala. The event started at 6, but we didn't show up til a little after 7. We registered and immediately ran into Mark and the gang. As we were talking to them, someone pointed out that Phil was wandering around. Immediately, Cheri headed straight toward Phil for a picture. As soon as she got close to him, she got nervous and turned into a bumbling idiot. She got a couple of pictures with him, they talked a little and then Phil headed on his way. Then he turned around, came back, grabbed Cheri's hand and off they went. Everyone looked at me and said, "You should be worried." Luckily (for me) they didn't make it too far before Phil was mobbed by people wanting pictures and eventually Cheri returned to the group. I'm sure I'll be hearing about Phil for the next few weeks (years). Hey, there are worse men to lose a girl to.

Later in the evening, Phil got on stage and spoke for about an hour. He's very entertaining...and a little feisty. Afterwards, I hung around to get a picture with Phil too...

Then, as we were leaving Cheri noticed Robbie Ventura was just hanging around and suggested we get a picture with him. After getting a photo, we were ready to leave...but then Robbie asked us what kind of riding we do. Then the conversation turned to triathlons and the Ironman. We talked to Robbie for about 10-15 minutes. He's planning on doing Ironman Canada, so we talked about the Ironman for a while. It was a fun conversation. Robbie is really cool and down to earth. He's also really motivating (good trait for a trainer) because he's so excited and passionate about cycling and triathlons.

All in all, it was a very fun evening. Saris does a good job with the Gala, and they raised about $60K for the Bike Federation of Wisconsin. Very cool. I'm looking forward to next year. I wonder who the guest will be. Bob Roll?

On the training front...yesterday was a tough day. I did the Ironman loop again and tore it up. 56 miles in just under 3 hours. That's the first time I've ridden the route in under 3 hours without aero bars. I ended with an 18.8 average, which I was very happy with since a good part of the last 20 miles or so were into a strong headwind. I pushed really hard and stayed focused the whole ride. I wish I had my power meter because I'm curious what my average watts were. Right after the ride I went for a 3 mile run with Cheri. This is when it became painfully clear that I didn't eat and drink enough on the bike. I bonked hard...immediately. By immediately, I mean the first 1/4 mile. Those were the toughest 3 miles I've ever run. I was barely moving and wanted to quit. I had no food with me and was craving sugar big time. Cheri wouldn't let me quit and kept me moving til the end. I managed a 9:38 pace, and I'm really glad I had Cheri with me to keep me going. Alone, I may have quit and walked home to make a pig out of myself. It was a great workout, but I need to get my nutrition under control.

Hitting the wall like that on a 3 mile run makes you wonder why you signed up for an Ironman. When I got home, I ate everything in sight, layed in the middle of the floor and declared, "there is no way I'm going to finish the Ironman." Even after getting a good night's sleep and recovering from the workout, I'd say it's about 50/50 on me finishing. I have a friend who's barely going to train for this thing, and I think he has a better shot at finishing. He'll be slow and steady and keep making progress toward the finish. I'll go all out and explode on the run and get taken to the medical tent. 50/50. But I wouldn't have it any other way.


Don't skip workouts

Sometimes you need to miss a workout. If you're sick, injured or if you're so tired and sore from a previous workout that another workout will probably result in injury, you need a day off. But if you're just feeling tired or lazy or there's something good on the tele you want to watch, you need to force yourself to workout. That's how I was feeling tonight. After work, I discovered a link to the rebroadcast of Kona ( http://ironman.edgeboss.net/wmedia/ironman/rebroadcast.wvx ) that I started to watch. I was tired and enjoying the race so I didn't feel like going to the pool. I started looking for ways to justify skipping my workout. But I forced myself to go and I'm really glad I did.

I discovered another little thing about my form and found a little more speed. I need to focus on what I'm calling my switch timing, meaning the transition from one arm to the other. When I start to fatigue, I tend to let my left arm drop in the water and start pulling before my right arm is past my head and ready to enter the water. The result is that I create extra drag and don't get a good pull with my left arm. On my last 300 yard set I really focused on holding my left arm up until my right arm was past my head and ready to enter the water. I also focused on really reaching with my arms and gliding for a split second. I swam that set in 4:47, my fastest time yet and I had already swam 1400 yards so I was already fatigued. That's a 1:35 100-yard pace, which would be a 1:07 Ironman swim if I could hold that pace for 2.4 miles. That would be awesome...not that it's going to happen. But it's fun to think about.

I also learned another valuable lesson today. Never let vegetables rot in the fridge. I found a cucumber in the back of the fridge that's been in there for a few months. I didn't know cucumbers could liquefy, but trust me...they can. That thing was disgusting. I think I'd rather see a rotting corpse than see that cucumber again. And I found an open bag of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots that had gone bad. What a horrible stink...like the stench of death.

Time to do my stretches and watch some more Ironman Kona. You don't get to watch Ironman coverage like this everyday. Good stuff.


Week 5 In The Books

Week 5 didn't exactly go according to plan, but it wasn't a total loss. I missed a few workouts due to my back, but that did force me to go to the voodoo doc which may or may not solve some back problems and hip alignment problems for me. Time will tell. I had a few good swim workouts and got a chance to try some pain relief creams. Aspercreme is okay, but nothing like the voodoo cream the doc gave me. I might have to pick some of that up. It's called Biofreeze.

Why am I now using Aspercreme? Funny you should ask. Remember a few posts back when I said form is king? I have become committed to improving my form in all 3 disciplines and this week I decided to start putting as much focus on my running form as I have been on swimming. The first thing I learned is that I'm a heel striker, which means I land with my heel first. That's bad. You want to land on the ball of your foot. Heel striking is probably responsible for some of my knee and back pain. So I started to work on that, but since I missed some workouts due to back pain I only ran once this week....today for 10 miles. Don't make changes to your form on a long run. I didn't even think about how landing on the balls of my feet would affect my calf muscles. They are so sore right now I'm not sure I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow. But the Aspercreme seems to be helping. Here's to Aspercreme.

Besides running, I also went to the pool today with Cheri. What a great workout. One of my best swim workouts yet. It really helped having Cheri there. I haven't swam with her in a few weeks and I've missed it. We have fun at the pool and I much prefer sharing a lane with her than some old dude with questionable hygiene. Cheri said she can tell my form and speed has improved so that was really encouraging.

Yesterday I watched as much Kona coverage as I could on the Internet. They did a great job covering it live. I wish someone would pick it up (Versus maybe?). It's a long day of coverage, but I would think it would get better ratings than a whole day of bull riding. Plus triathletes are a great group to advertise to. They like to spend money. Anyway, I had to go for a long ride and go to 2 birthday parties so I didn't get to watch as much coverage as I wanted but that's okay. Jess's birthday party was a lot of fun so missing Macca win is no real loss.

Hopefully week 6 goes well.

Week 5
Total Time: 10:43:12
Swim Yards = 6200
Bike Miles = 76.69
Run Miles = 10.13
Weights Time = 1:00


Mike's on ice

I went to see the voodoo doctor, the chiropractor, about my back today. I was skeptical going in because I've been there before and they always want to schedule about ten appointments right away. They scheduled me for 12. Holy smokes. They might as well just set up a cot in the back room for me.

But I'm going to give them a chance because they might actually be able to help. Here's the interesting part: when I went to the physical therapist for the first time he asked if my right leg was longer than my left. I said no. When I had my bike fitting, they asked if my right leg was longer than my left. I said I don't think so. Today, the voodoo doc told me my right leg was an inch longer. Great, I thought. I need special shoes. So she cracked my lower back and hips and checked my legs again and said they were even. My hips were misaligned. Coolio. No special shoes.

She also said I had some vertebrae in the middle of my back that were out of alignment, and those are the ones that contain the nerves that go to your knees. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Tendinitis?

It's all connected. The human body, that is. The hip bone is connected to the knee bone. The knee bone is connected to the neck bone. The neck bone...or however it goes.

They started out by scanning my back and showing me an image on the computer of the muscles in my back that were spasming and the intensity (red being the worst). The entire right side of my back was in a full on spasm. Solid red. The left wasn't as bad, but there was plenty of red. Then they hooked me up to some goofy machine that sent a current through my lower back to loosen up the muscles. They also threw on some ice packs and I heard the doctor say, "Mike's on ice. I'm going to develop his x-rays." Mike's on ice. I like that.

They gave me some voodoo cream I have to put on my back before bed, and I'm going back in on Friday. And then 3 times a week, probably until I die...which might be at the Ironman next year. It's a $15 co-pay each time I go. This may turn out to be the biggest financial commitment of my life... unless I die at the Ironman next year...which we can't rule out yet.

I wanted to work out today, but I decided to take my physical therapist's advice and listen to my body. My back was saying no, no, no. So I took another day off, and should be back to training tomorrow. Hopefully next week I'll be able to get in some good, hard workouts to make up for this week. The IM is still 11 months out so I'm not going to let a few missed workouts get to me. I'm sure there will be more because I never make it through a winter without getting sick.


Out of commission

I'm out of commission today. No training. I'm not sure what I did, but my back went out on me last night. I did some pretty good damage to my back when I worked at UPS so this happens every now and then. I could barely move when I woke up so I took the day off work. It's a little better right now, but not much.

Since I'm stuck on the couch today, I thought I'd post some pictures from the summer.

The Ripon Triathlon

This was my second triathlon. This one was a lot of fun, even though this is the event that gave me tendonitis in my left knee. It was 1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike (hilly) and a 5K run (also hilly...the swim wasn't hilly). The interesting thing about this event is that it has 2 transition areas - one for the swim to bike and one for the run to bike. They're about a 1/4 mile apart so it's not the most convenient, but it works. I finished in 25th overall (4th in my division) out of 204 finishers. My time was 1:23:06. I ranked 4th overall on the bike so I was pretty pumped about that. Here's a picture of me starting the run:

This is me heading toward the finish line. This is right before I spotted a competitor I thought I could outrun to the finish line.

The sprint to the finish....probably where my tendonitis came from. Turns out he started in the wave after me so this was all for nothing. The spectators liked it so I guess it was worth it. Anything for my fans.

I have no idea who this is, but I found it in the Ripon Triathlon pictures. Snot rocket while wearing her helmet backwards. Awesome. Better luck next year.

Team Schwinn at the Tour de Cure.


Me at the final rest stop...

Mark lounging before tackling the last few miles into a strong headwind...

Cheri again...

Dennis after ride...

The Janesville Triathlon

This was my first triathlon. I didn't do as well as I'd hoped so I was pretty disappointed after the race. I had a panic attack in the water and swallowed a lot of water, which affected me for the rest of the event. I did learn a lot and had fun so it wasn't all bad. I shouldn't complain because my time was decent for my first tri, but having a panic attack in the water really got to me and killed my confidence. It was a 1/4 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 4 mile run. Overall, I finished 43rd out of 220 finishers. My time was 1:29:15.

Here I am before the swim...

Here's a picture of Tim finishing up the run. Tim always get a big group together for this race, and then he throws a party afterwards. That keeps it fun and makes the Janesville Tri a must do event even though there are several other larger tris running that weekend. Janesville's my hometown too, so that helps. Gotta do the hometown race.

Here's the gang after the race...

Chicagoland Danskin - Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

Those who know about the Danskin know I obviously didn't compete in this one. It's a women's only triathlon, and this year's Chicagoland Danskin was one of the largest triathlons in the world with more than 4,000 women signed up. It was also Cheri's very first triathlon. It's a world-class event and I had a ton of fun being a part of it.

I knew Cheri was going to do well since she had trained hard for the event, but I have to admit I was a little surprised how well she did especially since she struggles in the heat and it was a scorcher out there. The event is a 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike and 5K run. She finished 234 overall (45 of 365 in her division) out of 3940 finishers. That's top 6%! I was really proud to see her dominate the bike finishing in the top 4%. And that's without aero bars. I can assure you she will have aero bars on her bike next year. Her time was 1:27:58.

Here she is before heading over to the swim start...

Here she is right before the swim start. I was impressed she was brave enough to get right up front in her first tri, although I did tell her about 50 times she needs to start in the front because she's a fast swimmer. She did the swim in 13:27. That's flying. She's a fish, a flying fish.

This is the transition area. Chicks like to mark their spot with a balloon. So many of them do it I have no idea how they find their balloon.

Here's Cheri after the finish.


Cheri and I took a vacation in Colorado this summer and rode our bikes to Breckenridge on the bike path. Here are a few pictures...

Hopefully I'll be feeling better tomorrow and I can get back to training for the Ironman.


1 down, 11 to go

I've finished my first month of Ironman training, and I'd say everything went well. I believe I gained some fitness, but most importantly I learned a few things. Here they are:

- Stretch. Increase (or at least maintain) your flexibility. If one muscle is tight others overcompensate and that's when injuries happen.

- Get a professional bike fit. I went to Crono Metro and got a bike fit the other day and they made quite a few changes. I can tell a big difference already in my pedaling efficiency. I still need to get a new stem to put my handlebars in the ideal position so my bike isn't perfect yet. The stem I need has a 17 degree rise and I'm going to have a hard time putting a stem like that on my bike. I'd rather buy new forks and add more spacers so I don't have a stem that looks like it came off a comfort bike. They said I'm really stretching the limits of my frame so I think I technically need a larger frame.

- Form is king. Swimming, running, cycling. It doesn't matter. Good form will make you faster and prevent injuries. I actually learned this a long time ago when I raced motocross, but it was reinforced this past month. Always work on improving your form. It's a never-ending process.

- Have a plan. Don't just go through the motions. Have a plan for every workout. You'll progress much quicker.

Month 2 has me throwing in a few more interval workouts so it's definitely going to be a tough month. Hopefully, everything will go well and I'll gain some strength and endurance. I'm looking forward to it, that's for sure.



Every now and then you have a breakthrough workout, and it makes all of those so-so workouts worth it. Because you don't get to have breakthrough workouts without the groundwork, and that's what the so-so workouts are. You just don't see it until you break through that plateau.

The last time I went swimming my main set consisted of 3 sets of 300 yards on 6 minutes, which means I start the next set every 6 minutes (3 x 300 on 6:00). The faster I can do the set, the more rest I get. I did each set in about 5:30. Typical. Then I finished up with 2 sets of 100 yards for a cool down. I do those pretty slow and focus on form.

My form has improved quite a bit in the past few months, but my speed hasn't followed and I've been getting frustrated. I convinced myself that I needed to work on my balance and that my legs were sinking and creating drag and that's what's been slowing me down. While doing my cool down, I focused on balance and pushing my chest into the water to keep my legs from sinking. "Pressing my buoy" as they say in Total Immersion. While doing that, I pressed my legs together for some reason and I suddenly started swimming faster and cutting through the water. I've read a lot about swimming form and they always tell you to keep your kick small, but it never really sank in (pun intended). They don't just mean short kicks, but keep it tight too. Keep your legs together.

So tonight I focused on keeping my legs together. I imagined they were tied together at the knee. I started to feel skinny in the water, so I started focusing on keeping my arms tight too. Close to my head. Shoulder to my ear. Extend. Streamlined. Like a pencil slicing through the water. No drag.

I did my main set of 3 x 300 on 6:00 faster than last time. 5:08, 4:58, 5:02. Finally a speed increase in the water. It felt great. But I'm still convinced I need to work on my balance because I think my legs are sinking. I'll need to add some balance drills.

Tonight, I also used swim fins for the first time. I bought some TYR split fins (pictured), and they were pretty fun. You can really cruise with fins on, and they make drills easier and more fun. I've been doing some drills that focus on your arms, and I've been going so slow when I do them that I've been sinking. So I focus all of my effort on staying afloat and that's been making it difficult to do my drills. The fins help you keep your speed up so you float and allow you to focus on what your arms should be doing. It's a little weird though when you take them off and swim without them. You feel really slow (maybe they contributed to my new found speed). It's like motorpacing.

I really believe that part of my speed increase is due to going to the pool with a workout, a plan, instead of just showing up and swimming for a while. I've also been very committed to improving my form lately and the drills are definitely helping. Here's the workout I did tonight. 2,000 yards and it took about an hour.

2 x 100 - fins, easy, slow, focus is on good form

5 x 100 - 25 yards of each drill so the total set is 100 yards with fins
- One arm drill - right arm
- One arm drill - left arm
- Catch-up drill
- Whole stroke (normal stroke, focus is on perfect form)

Breathing on left side
2 x 100 - no fins

Main Set
3 x 300 on 6:00 - no fins (focus is on speed while trying to keep good form)

Cool Down
2 x 100 - no fins, easy, slow, focus is on perfect form

10 Flip Turns


Testing: 40K TT

Part of my training program is doing testing on recovery week. These tests will allow me to monitor my progress and make sure I am in fact making progress. I did my first test last night: a 40K time trial on the trainer. It was a beautiful day so it was horrible being on the trainer, but I'm using the trainer so I have the same conditions every time. The test went well, but I definitely could've pushed a little harder. I didn't know how many watts I could hold for that long so I decided to shoot for 230. I think I could've done 250 because I had way too much energy left at the end. But this gives me a good starting point. After that, I went for an easy 30 minute run.

Today was the gun show. The gun show technically ends in September so I didn't think there would be a big turnout so I figured having tired legs wouldn't matter much. When I got outside there was a good sized group gathered, including several members of the race team. When we got to Saris, they had a big group as well including Jordan (Jordan is one of the best cyclists in Wisconsin). That's when I knew I was in for a rough day. I knew the pace was going to be fast and I was wishing I had done the time trial on Tuesday so I could've had a recovery day on Wednesday. But then I reminded myself I'm training for the Ironman and that's what I need to focus on. Not the gun show.

It was a tough ride. I had nothing for the first sprint and got dropped quickly. I have been doing well in the first sprint lately so I was a little disappointed I couldn't get in there and battle it out. I managed to sneak in for 3rd on the second sprint so I did get some points for the day. I got dropped early on the 3rd sprint and was on my own the whole way. The 3rd sprint is 5.64 miles and I averaged 24.29 mph. I'd like to know what the leaders averaged because I was busting my butt and they were pulling away. I think if I hadn't been so tired I could've hung with the group, but that's the price you pay when you train for the Ironman. Even though it's fun to get in there and try to win the sprints, I was a little happy to be on my own. That's what I need to work on for the Ironman. No drafting in triathlons.

So my recovery week has taken a bit of a turn. The intensity has been pretty high the past 24 hours. Tomorrow won't be so bad though. The intensity gets turned down for my 1 hour run.


Rest days are tough

What a boring day. I can't wait to get back to working out. It's only been 24 hours, but it feels like I haven't worked out in a while. Luckily, I don't need to take any more rest days for a few weeks. Recovery days are much more fun than all out rest days. Tomorrow is a recovery day. Only an hour of working out - swimming.

I went to physical therapy today for my knee, and the doc was actually helpful...I think. We'll see. He didn't tell me to stop running, which was good because there's no way I'm taking time off. That's not an option. He thinks my injury stems from my left side not being as flexible as my right, especially in my hips. I overcompensate for that when I run and that's putting stress on my joints, tendons, muscles...you name it.

So I have some stretches I have to do everyday. I also need to massage the tendon twice a week, buy new running shoes and get some supportive insoles for my everyday shoes. That's it. That's what he prescribed. I guess we'll see if it helps. If not, then we're moving on to more aggressive treatments. Hopefully something involving electricity. I don't know why, but I'm convinced high voltage is the cure. It will at least deaden the pain.

He also said he thinks I have a high tolerance for pain, which isn't necessarily a good thing. He did some tests on my tendons where he applied pressure to them, and he said most people squirm in pain when he does that. I barely felt it. He said people with a high pain threshold are very susceptible to serious injuries because they can't tell they're injuring themselves until it's serious. So I need to listen to my body and take small aches and pains more seriously than I typically do. That's going to be tough. I prefer to ignore the pain.

On to another subject...someone needs to force Cost Cutters out of business because that's the only way I'll stop going. And I need to stop going. I hate making appointments for anything and that includes haircuts. So I go across the street to Cost Cutters for the inevitable bad haircut. Today's was worse than usual. It's a good thing I workout a lot and my workouts include a helmet, visor or swim cap. Maybe I should just shave my head and get it over with. That place is a like crack. I know it's bad for me, but I can't stop.