Share a Build Week: Day 3

This morning was our marathon of a sales meeting.  We ended up ahead of schedule and got out of the meeting about 45 minutes early, so I headed out on my lunch run pretty close to my usual time. 

Workout 1: Run @ 75% max HR. 1 hour. 8.14 miles. 7:22 pace. Ave Hr: 143.

Today's route.
 I do and don't run by heart rate.  During the winter I run primarily by heart rate.  During the summer it's a mix of pace and heart rate.  I've tried running by heart rate in the summer, but the heat drives up your HR so I found that I was running a little too fast in the beginning and then too slow in the end just to keep my heart rate in the right zone.  So now I run by pace, but go for a pace that should put my average heart rate in the zone I'm after.  Basically, I try to set a pace that has my heart rate a little low in the beginning and a little high at the end so the average is right where I want it.  This seems to be a good compromise, and has been working for me.  

Today's run was really good.  My legs felt great, and I was comfortable at a 7:22 pace.  Toward the end my legs got a little fatigued, so that combined with my heart rate climbing from the heat and my perceived effort was greater than the beginning but not bad.  I never had to dig deep and had plenty left in the tank the whole time.

Workout 2: Swim.  1:15.  4500 yards.

The past few weeks we've been going up to Devil's Lake on Wednesdays for an open water swim.  I'm heading up there Friday evening with a friend, so I decided to stick to the pool today.  I went straight to the Y after work to get my workout in so I'd have some time to relax after dinner. 

Today's workout was pretty easy.  I figured I might be tired from my run so I scheduled a distance workout.  No hard intervals.  Just distance at a moderate, comfortable pace.

Warm Up

100 swim
100 kick
100 pull
100 kick

Main Set

4x1000 with 1 minute rest

Cool Down

100 easy

I swam all of the 1000s in 15:25-15:40, a 1:32-1:34 pace.  A while ago that was my 1000 yard PR, but today it was an easy, comfortable pace.  I'm not as fast as I want to be in the pool, but I'm happy with the progress I'm making this year.

Overall, today was a good training day.  I had a solid run, and while my swim was nothing special I got in some decent volume so I'm happy about that.

Today's Total:  2 hours 15 minutes
Weekly Total:  6 hours 47 minutes  

Tomorrow:  Brick workout.  Tempo bike, short easy run.


Share a Build Week: Day 2

Day 2 wasn't an easy day.  My workouts weren't especially hard, but work was a little hectic and busy.  As I feared, I had a meeting rescheduled for around the lunch hour.  Then I got invited to an additional meeting this afternoon, so my day was packed with meetings. Luckily, I had just enough time to make it out for my lunch run.

Workout 1:  Hygiene Hill Repeats.  46:40  5.69 miles

Tuesdays are days I do hard(er) run workouts.  I might do tempo runs, track workouts or hill repeats.  Today, I did hill repeats on a hill I call Hygiene Hill because there's a hygiene laboratory at the  base of the hill.  Courtney's a public health inspector, so she deals with them in her job.  That's where they test water samples or test bats for rabies.  Things like that.  I prefer to believe they spend their time working on creating the perfect deodorant and/or soap.

The hill is great for running repeats.  One side is short and steep and the other side is longer and more gradual.  There's also a side of the hill covered in grass with some really steep, short climbs I can run if I want.  Lots of options.  Today, I ran the longer, more gradual side.  It takes about two minutes to climb and three to run back down at an easy pace.  The average grade is 5% and it's .3 miles long.  

I did a mile warm up, then 5 repeats at a 6:55-7:00 pace.  I ran down easy between each rep.  Then I did a mile cool down.  Running up the hill at that pace isn't easy, but not very challenging either so this workout wasn't too bad.  My main focus for this week is my weekend workouts so I'm hesitant to push too hard during the week.  This close to an Ironman, my long weekend workouts become key workouts and I make sure I don't push too hard during the week and ruin the long weekend workouts due to fatigue.

The elevation profile of today's run.
Workout 2: Low Zone 2 Bike.  3:01.  55 miles. 180 watts.

My final meeting of the day ran late so I didn't get out of work when I wanted to which means I couldn't get on the bike as early as planned.  When I got home it was raining and in the low 70s.  The radar showed plenty of rain on the way, and since I wouldn't be able to get on the bike when I wanted the final hour would be in the dark.  My light was charged and ready to roll, but I wasn't in the mood for a cold, rainy, dark ride so I opted to do my workout indoors.  So I watched the live feed from Kona 2010 and rode the trainer.  

My Tuesday evening rides aren't very structured and are typically pretty easy.  It's my day to ride the road bike and just be a cyclist and enjoy being on a bike.  I ride in the low end of my endurance zone and often ride to New Glarus and back.  If I'm feeling good, I attack a couple of the hills on the way back, but otherwise I keep it pretty easy.

Since I didn't have a structured ride planned and didn't have time to come up with one, I just rode the trainer at about 60% FTP.  No intervals.  Easy peasy.

I didn't finish my ride until almost 9 pm.  Then I ate some dinner, uploaded my workouts (and wrote this post) and soon it's off to bed.  The training today hasn't really taken a toll on me, but it's been a long day and I'm tired.

Daily Total:  3 hours 47 minutes.
Weekly Total:  4 hours 32 minutes

Tomorrow:  Lunch run and evening swim. 


Share a Build Week: Day 1

I shared a good workout on Facebook about a week ago and as I did, I realized I only share the good workouts.  I don't do that intentionally...or should I say consciously.  The easy ones don't seem interesting enough to share.  But as I thought about it more, I realized they might be more interesting than I think because they complete the plan.  They fill in the gaps.  Maybe other people would find it interesting to see exactly what I do to prepare for an Ironman, instead of just seeing bits and pieces of what I do.   

So I decided last week that I would share an entire week of workouts.  For better or worse, I'm going to share the entire week.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I'm going to share it all, every workout, even if I blow up and the workout is a complete disaster.  I've been blogging about my training since I signed up for my first Ironman (IMWI 2008), and I don't think I've ever shared an entire week's worth of workouts.  

To give you a little background on where I'm at this week, I'm in week 3 of my last full build cycle for Kona.  I do 3 big weeks followed by a recovery week.  My weeks run Monday through Sunday.  In the past 28 days, I've biked about 850 miles, run roughly 160 miles and swam about 42,000 yards (24 miles).  Saturday, I biked 100 miles.  Sunday, I swam 3.75 miles and then went for a hilly 17 mile run in the evening. Today, Monday, I'm tired like I am every Monday.

Aside from this being a big week, it's a tough week at work so this isn't going to be an easy week for me.  My entire job revolves around our month-end sales meeting, a 4-5 hour meeting where we go over the forecast for all of our major accounts.  That's Wednesday.  Monday and Tuesday is filled with meetings to prepare for the Wednesday meeting.  It makes for 3 busy, stressful, tiring days that sometimes force me to alter my training schedule because I might not be able to get my lunch run in.  Once the meeting is over, things die down quickly so Thursday and Friday should be pretty easy days at work. 

Even though this is one of my final build weeks, the overall structure of my week remains the same as a typical week for me.  Mondays are rest days or easy days.  Sometimes I go for an easy recovery run, but if I workout on Monday it's usually a short swim.  Today that's what I did.

Day 1:  45 minutes, 2000 yards

Monday swims are hit or miss for me.  Sometimes I'm tired and lack energy and motivation and they're horrible workouts.  Sometimes I feel good and they're great workouts.  Today wasn't a complete miss, but it wasn't a good workout either.  Certainly not the workout I was hoping for.  The plan was to do a short workout, but one with some intensity in it.  

I said I was tired today, and that was part of the issue, but not really what kept me from having a good workout.  I had a tuna wrap and couscous for dinner.  The couscous was fine, but the tuna didn't sit well when I upped the effort level.  About 3/4 of the way through the workout I thought I was going to vomit, and the pool was closed last week for cleaning so vomiting in the pool wouldn't have gone over very well. My stomach was really bothering me and it was hard to keep pushing the pace.

No more tuna before swimming....or any workout for that matter.  Lesson learned.

Here's the workout:

Warm Up:  100 swim, 100 kick, 100 pull, 100 kick

Main set:  
1x100 on 2:00 (easy)
1x100 on 1:35 (hard)
1x100 on 2:00 (easy)
2x100 on 1:35 (hard)
1x100 on 2:00 (easy)
3x100 on 1:35 (hard)
1x100 on 2:00 (easy)
4x100 on 1:35 (hard)

4x25 on :30 (all out)

Cool down:  100 easy

On the easy 100s, I swam around a 1:30ish pace.  On the hard 100s I swam about 1:20-1:23.  That's not a bad pace for me, but I really should have hit all of those in 1:18-1:20 so I was off by a few seconds. 

So not a terrible workout, but not a good one either. Not really the start to one of my final build weeks that I was hoping for, but my legs loosened up while swimming and they felt better after the workout than before, which is part of the point of the workout so that was good.  My times weren't terrible, but with my stomach bothering me I didn't enjoy the workout at all.  

So it goes.

Day 2 is a lunch run and an evening bike ride.  Hopefully no meetings are rescheduled around the lunch hour tomorrow. 



Race Report: Camp Whitcomb/Mason Sprint Tri

Sunday I raced the Camp Whitcomb/Mason sprint triathlon.  In a weird way, it felt like the end of the season.  Obviously, it's not the end of the season but it is the end of my local season since this was my last race before Kona.  And what a great way to end the local season.

One thing I've been working on this year is being a more balanced triathlete.  In the past, my thing has been to hammer the bike.  It's my strength.  It's fun.  It gets me toward the top of the standings.  But it always bothered me to look at the rankings and see my swim rank really low, my bike really high and my run somewhere in the middle.  In many sprint races I've done in the past, if you took away the fast bike split I wouldn't even crack the top 10.  So I'm working on balancing things out.  Swim better, bike strong but save something for the run and then run hard and fast.  I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm making progress.

Yesterday, I finished 4th overall and first in my age group.  Not my best overall finish of the year, but my best triathlon performance of the year.  I set the 8th fastest swim, 5th fastest bike and 8th fastest run.  Much more balanced.  The one place I screwed up, which is where I'm always strong and in the top 10, was transitions.  I made a big mistake:  I didn't practice them the day before like I always do.  My transitions weren't horrible, but they were slower than they usually are and I wasn't as smooth as usual.  Lesson learned.  ALWAYS practice transitions the day before the race.  No excuses.

The Swim:

The start of the elite wave.

I swam hard and actually kept contact with the lead group for a good part of the swim.  I really worked on staying in the draft but I noticed we kept drifting wider and wider and I finally decided I was going to be the one to swim toward the buoy and not just follow everyone off course.  Eventually the lead group came back into my line and I got my draft back.  I finished about 30 seconds off the leader, which is much better than usual.  I drop a minute to the leader sometimes.

Time - 7:07

Coming out of the water in 7th place. 


My first transition was a little rough.  I had a hard time getting out of my wetsuit and had a little vertigo coming out of the water and had to grab on to my bike to keep from falling down.  I work hard on fast transitions because I think it's easy to be fast in transition with a little practice and it's not a place you should give up time.  Despite struggling in transition, I left in a good mood.  I saw my parents and Courtney and laughed about my lack of balance.  Normally a bad transition would frustrate me, but I came to have fun and end my local season on a positive note. 

Actually laughing about a bad transition.
Time - 1:23


This race suited my strengths.  The swim was a 1/4 mile, the bike was 22 miles and the run was 3.1 miles.  And the bike (and run) had some hills.  I've been hammering the hills out in Blue Mounds more than usual this year so I was feeling good about a hilly bike course.  It was also windy which usually works in my favor on the bike.  

I went out really easy the first couple of minutes (ironman power) and then worked my way up to tempo for a couple of minutes and then sub-threshold and held that the rest of the way.  I kept my power lower than I'm capable of, but high enough to be competitive. A few times I looked down and I was pushing 300-320 watts without realizing it and had to dial it back.  "It's not a bike race," I told myself.  Relax.  

After the hills, we had a stretch of smooth highway with a tailwind and I was cruising comfortably at 35 mph.  Man that was fun.   

I felt good the whole time and finished feeling like I definitely could have pushed harder.  It led to a better run, but I think I could have pushed a little harder than I did.  You can push pretty hard in a sprint tri and still have a good run.  It's going to take a few races to find the balance.

Time: 56:20 (23.3 mph)

Running into T2.


Another rough transition.  This race has two different transition areas and I ran right past my shoes.  Luckily, my mom noticed and yelled to me.  After the race, this led to jokes from Courtney about using balloons to mark my transition area.  I may never hear the end of this.  Once I found my spot, I got in my shoes and the insole on my left shoe folded over.  I thought it might work itself out while running so I left it and took off.

Running out of T2.
 Time: 1:06

The Run.

My old Garmin Forerunner died last Sunday (don't worry, we went out on a high note - it died about 3 minutes after I finished my best 20 mile run ever) so I was forced, yes forced, to upgrade to the 310XT so I was able to wear it for this race since it's waterproof.  This meant I could see my pace during the run, which I don't normally get on a sprint tri since I typically wear my Timex watch.  

A good part of the first mile was on trails covered in wood chips and had some hills.  It was really fun (I love the wood chips), but it made things tougher than if we'd been on the road.  Plus, my shoe was really bothering me and I had to stop and take my shoe off to fix my insole.  The last thing I wanted to do was stop on the run, but I was afraid I was going to get a nasty blister or ruin the insole of my shoe, and those are my shoes for Kona.  I decided to be smart and not take risks during a local sprint tri.  I have a bigger race to focus on.

Mile one was a 6:50 pace.  Ouch.  I started the bike in 7th, worked my way into 4th and knew the guy in 5th was a great runner and had his sights set on catching me (he told me so before the race...not that he needed to.  I knew if I got off the bike before him he'd be running me down).  

Time to dig deep and get my butt in gear.

Once I got my shoes fixed and settled in, miles two and three were much better.  I dug deep and pushed hard.  I checked my watch to make sure my average pace continued to drop.  It became a game to see how much I could get my average to drop by the end of the run. 

Mile 2 was a 6:08 pace.  

Mile 3: 6:06.  

I saw 5th place at the mid-point turnaround and was able to get a split.  I had a 58 second lead.  He was running hard, but that's a lot of time to make up in the second half of a 5K.  I was determined to hold him off.  There was no way I was dropping a minute to someone in 1.5 miles.  I didn't care how uncomfortable I was.

I finished the run in 19:32, a 6:17 pace.  I held on to 4th overall and won my age group.  But best of all, I raced a consistent triathlon for the first time in my life.  I made some mistakes and came home with some things to work on, but I felt really good about how I paced myself.  And it really helped having my Garmin on the run.  I'm very driven by pace and power information (this point was driven home when my power meter batteries died on my ride later in the day...I was tired and lost motivation without having power numbers staring me in the face).

The finish.
 Finish time:  1:25:25.



An "Epic" Weekend

"From here on in, it really gets grim. For 99% of the people still left at this point, they are possessed with one thing, finishing. They’re saying to themselves one thing, “If I can just be standing at the finish, I've won,” and they’re right.

But, for the gifted few, for our 1% who are still competing, that are still racing, they’re more than standing. They’re wondering, can I catch that guy up there? And what about the guys behind me, are they coming up on me, are they picking up on me, can I get him? Because let me tell you something. This is it. The last hour of this triathlon, on the pavement, at 110 degrees, that’s when we’re going to find out who the hell the Ironman really is!”

Bruce Dern, Freewheeling Films, 1982

Ever since I found out about Epic Camp, I've wanted to do it.  Someday I hope to, but for now I have to settle for my own versions of Epic Camp.

For those unfamiliar, Epic Camp is a triathlon camp where elite competitors train for a week and do tons of volume.  There's a points competition for completing workouts, so it's a little more than just getting together and training.  It's about pushing yourself, and being pushed, and finding the next level.  Their tagline:  There's NO easy way.

I didn't sign up for an Ironman because it's easy.  Quite the opposite.  

Last year two months out from Ironman Wisconsin I did a 3-day training camp with a friend and the Endurance Nation group.  We did a lot in 3 days and I felt it helped me step things up to the next level for the remainder of my training.  So this year I did the same thing, except I was solo this time around.  

Friday:  6 hours 40 minutes

I took the day off work and did a long brick.  I biked 112 miles at ironman intensity and then ran 50 minutes.  I was hoping the workout wouldn't take as long as it did, but that's what it's like riding on my new hardcase tires on my training wheels.  So far they've done a good job resisting flats, but they are anything but fast.  It's not really a problem, except long workouts take a little longer now.  Last year I stopped training by time and distance, and started training by training stress.  It's a better system, but it gets tricky when bouncing around from bike to bike like I do because training stress is calculated by time and power, so a slower wheelset means I'm on the bike longer which means 112 miles yields a higher training stress score than it would with my race wheels.  That's great for race day, but it can get tricky for training because I have to calculate my training stress ahead of time and I don't always know how long a workout will take.

Anyway, I was on the bike for 5:40 with most of it at ironman intensity.  My power dropped off toward the end because I was having stomach issues and was vomiting.  If you've never vomited on a bike at 20+ mph (and you probably haven't because you're normal), it gets pretty messy...especially after 6 or 7 times.  So the ride ended pretty rough which means the run started rough.  I threw up once or twice on the run but eventually started feeling better and was able to drop my pace down to about an 8:10 pace vs. the 8:50 pace I started with.  

It wasn't the workout I'd hoped for, but I got it done and logged 366 training stress points for the day (for comparison, Ironman Wisconsin gave me 538 training stress points).  

I'd actually started the day with slightly tired legs from my Wednesday workout, and surprisingly my legs felt better at the end of the day than the beginning.  My stomach was a mess, but I was feeling pretty good about the rest of the weekend.

Saturday:  6 hours.

I had a 6 hour ride planned, which I figured would be about 125 miles but I ended up around 115.  With the exception of fading a bit from fatigue (and more stomach problems although no vomiting) in the last hour, I rode to the power I had planned on (10 watts below ironman power) so it was a good ride.

I know what you might be thinking.  "I thought you said you trained by training stress and not time or distance."  It's true, I do.  I wanted about 300 training stress points and 6 hours should have given me that.  I ended with 288 so I was close.  Had I not faded in the final hour I would have nailed it.  That's how it can get tricky, but in the end watching training stress points rather than hours or distance allows me to manage the training load (and fatigue) much better. 

Sunday:  3 hours 45 minutes

I got up early and ran on the Ironman Wisconsin course.  Last year I did my longest run of the year on this weekend.  It was the same weekend as the Centurion bike race and I ran in a nasty thunderstorm and had a great run.  I woke up Sunday at 4:30 and heard some thunder and lightening.  Perfect.  

I ran only by time and figured I'd get in around 18 miles.  The past few weeks I've done my long run in the heat of the afternoon and it was 68 degrees when I started my run Sunday and only 74 when I finished.  It was humid, but it was also raining.  It was awesome.  I felt great and for some reason I absolutely love doing long runs in the rain.  The puddles, the mud....I don't care.  I loved it.  Man, that was fun.  I'd repeat that run every single weekend if I could.  Same course, same conditions.

There were several triathletes on the course too so that helped keep me motivated.  I did my run/walk and worked on race day nutrition.  In the end, I got in 19.6 miles at an average pace of 7:40 (my walk breaks cost me about 10 seconds per mile on my average so I was running around a 7:30 pace).  The final hour and 15 minutes was at a 7:35 pace with the last 10 minutes at a 7:14 pace (no walk break).  It felt so good to finish strong.  That run scored me 270 training stress points, although I think it should be more like 250 because I think my run/walk throws off training peaks....close enough.

Later in the day I got in around 3600 yards in the pool, and luckily a friend showed up because I was going to swim easy the whole time and just get in some volume.  I got bored and joined him on his workout and got in a little quality work in the pool to end a big training weekend.  I don't calculate training stress for swimming so that's a big, fat zero.

Totals for the weekend:

16 hours and 40 minutes of training
1:15 in the pool
3:20 running
12:05 cycling

Training Stress Points = 934.5

Training Peaks calculates my Training Stress Balance (TSB) which measures my level of fatigue.  Negative 10 to positive 10 is a good range to be in.  Positive numbers mean you're well rested, negative means you're getting tired.  Monday morning my TSB was negative 64.  

Tired. Very tired.  

You can push yourself into big negative numbers from time to time and come out okay, but experience has taught me that it's not a place to hang around.  That's when over-reaching/over-training symptoms come in.  This week is a recovery week so easy workouts and lots of rest.  I dug a hole so deep it's going to take until Sunday before I see a positive TSB again.

But what about the vomiting?

I was pretty confused by this.  I felt great Friday until the last hour of the bike, when I started to feel pretty full, bloated and started belching a lot, which lasted through the run.  Then I started vomiting.  Saturday I started getting similar symptoms toward the end of the ride.  Sunday was much better, but I still had a few times when I thought I had those symptoms coming on.

At first I blamed the couple of Hammer gels I did on the bike.  I don't typically do gels on the bike, but then it didn't make sense.  I take Hammer gels all the time on the run and never have problems.

Then I thought it was too many salt pills, which it could have been. That's not entirely ruled out, but I don't think I had such an excessive amount that I would get sick.  I took in the same amount I did at IMWI last year and in all my training workouts last year.  It seemed like the salt pills kept me going so it's weird that they would have the opposite effect this year...but it's possible.

Then I read that you shouldn't mix Hammer Nutrition products with simple sugars.  Oops, I did that.  I drank 3 bottles of Ironman Perform (it's like Gatorade for those unfamiliar with it).  But....wait a minute.  I mix Hammer gels with Red Bull on the run all the time and never have a problem. 

Something doesn't add up.

So I thought about it....what products upset my stomach?  Why can I take Hammer gels, but not Gu or Powerbar gels?  They upset my stomach.  Why was I noticing similar issues starting on my run on Sunday with Honey Stinger gels?  What's different about Honey Stinger gels?  How are the sugars in Red Bull different from Ironman Perform? 

Some of you may have guessed already.  


I don't think I can handle fructose.  Honey Stinger gels have honey in them, which has fructose.  Gu has fructose.  Powerbar gels have fructose.  Ironman Perform has fructose.  Apples and bananas upset my stomach if I have more than one in a day - fructose.

Hammer Nutrition products....no fructose.  Red Bull...no fructose.   

Have I found the problem?  Maybe.  I have to test it out.  I have a long ride in a couple of weeks where I'll cut out fructose and see how it goes.  But I'm thinking about taking one of my longer rides and taking in a lot of fructose and seeing what happens.  If I can make myself sick on fructose, I'll have my answer.  I'll have to make sure I don't take in too much sodium on that ride though so I know it's fructose and not sodium that's causing the problems.

I'm not looking forward to that workout.      



Two Workouts

I thought I'd share my last two workouts, one of them being one of my favorite swim workouts.  It originally came from Hillary Biscay's blog.  A friend of mine modified it because the original version is 10,000 yards so he chopped it down.  It's a good mix of distance and hard intervals.  

1000 warm up
500 pull/paddles
5x100 on 1:30
400 pull/paddles
4x100 on 1:35
300 pull/paddles
3x100 on 1:40
200 pull/paddles
2x100 on 1:45
200 cool down

The other workout is one I came up with, and did last night at Governor Nelson State Park.  It involved taking the trainer to the beach, which was a little weird but kind of cool.  

I did an 8-10 minute swim (hard), then got on the trainer and did 12.5 minutes just below threshold, then ran 3/4 of a mile between 5K and 10K pace.  Four times through with 5-10 minutes rest between sets.  

It was a great workout - tough but fun.  The best part was that I was really consistent on every rep.  I started the bike each time with a 2.5 minute "warm up" starting at around ironman pace working my way up to tempo and then sub-threshold by the 2.5 minute mark.  Then I held my power just below threshold for 10 minutes.  For the final 10 minutes my power only varied by 3 watts on all 4 reps.  I ran hard and kept my pace within 10 seconds per mile on every rep.  

It was very different compared to my typical workouts, which is what made it so fun.  It's fun to mix things up from time to time, and it felt a little like a track workout and I love doing track workouts.  It was also a great way to work on getting used to transitioning from sport to sport and dealing with starting each discipline with your heart rate already spiked.