I guess it was bound to happen eventually. If you race enough times, there's going to be a time when one of your biggest fears comes true - getting sick right before an Ironman.  

A couple of days before IMWI, I felt a cold coming on.  I hoped it was nothing and that I was just being paranoid, but by the day before the race it was clear.  I was sick.  It was a pretty good cold, but still just a cold, so I thought maybe I could still manage a good race.  I wasn't in my best shape ever, but I felt like I'd had a pretty good 6-8 week block of training leading into race day so I thought maybe...just maybe...I could still have a decent day.

Swim - 1:07:18

I lined up toward the outside hoping to avoid some contact and get through the swim without too much effort.  The outside worked for avoiding contact, but I'm not sure it worked out well time-wise.  I came out of the water a few minutes slower than expected, but I felt okay.  I had been doing a lot of coughing the day before the race and I got through the swim without issues and felt like I didn't waste too much energy.  All things considered, not a bad start to the day.

Bike - 5:25:24

The bike is where my cold caught up with me and everything started to fall apart.  I went out  a little below goal power holding about 210 watts for the first 3-3.5 hours.  The next hour I struggled a bit and my power faded to around 185.  After that, I had nothing left and my power dropped to 135 for the last 60 minutes of the ride as I soft pedaled on the way back to the terrace, debating if I would even head out on the run. 

"Run" - 5:12:08

I didn't do much running.  I was walking within the first 2 miles and just had no energy.  I had little desire to continue and every time I thought I had found a good place to call it quits and turn in my chip, there was someone I knew cheering me on.  I guess that's the problem with a local race.  :)

So I continued and eventually figured out that I could still break 12 hours so I used that as motivation to keep pushing myself to get to the finish line.

My final time was 11:55 which makes this my slowest Ironman.  It's fitting, I guess, considering how this year went.  Knoxville was my slowest half ironman.  In 2014 I set my fastest half ironman time and 2015 was my slowest.  What a difference a year makes, huh?

With my injury, my struggles with training and racing and losing my dad to cancer, 2015 is a year I'd like to forget. 

My plan post race was to take a full month off, my longest break since getting into triathlon in 2007.  4 weeks....nothing but rest and recovery.  Unfortunately, my cold got really bad after race day and ruined about 10 days of my break, but after that I got to enjoy some of the best fall weather we've ever had.

Then the rebuilding began..... 


Looking Ahead: Ironman Wisconsin

I’ve finished my last training block and am now tapering for Ironman Wisconsin which has given me a little time to reflect.  2013 through most of 2014 was my best block of training and racing.  I was handling the training really well and was setting PRs and felt like a really solid contender for a Kona slot at Ironman Chattanooga.  Then I injured my back and had to drop out.  It was during the worst of my injury when I registered for Ironman Wisconsin. It felt a little crazy at the time, but I was determined to prove this injury couldn’t slow me down.

That wasn’t realistic.

I made some mistakes pushing too hard too soon trying to get back to where I was.  Going to Puerto Rico was fun, but doing that race was a mistake.  I wasn’t ready.  The same is true for Knoxville.  Muncie was an improvement, but still well behind last year.  

It hasn’t been all bad though, just inconsistent.  I set a best 90 minute power earlier this year.  I had a good brick long run a couple of weeks ago and set a best 5 hour power last week on an indoor ride.  I’ve also had some really bad workouts and have missed some training due to setbacks. I’ve struggled with my swimming all season and can’t quite figure out what the problem is, if it’s related to my injury or not.  Cycling has been good, but running has been a big struggle this year.



Recently, I heard/read a couple of great quotes that really struck a chord with me….

“When I was at my best I was overcoming myself. When I ended up disappointed I was trying to overcome others, to win, to beat other people.”

-          Gordo Byrn on the Primal Endurance Podcast

And two good quotes from a Slowtwitch interview with Jordan Rapp....
Jordan:  "...I told him I wanted to talk about the idea of “resilience.” My friend Paulo Sousa introduced this idea to me about a year ago. Resilience is caring enough that you are willing to bounce back and try again if you fail. But you also need to not care so much that you get crushed by failure and by setbacks. It’s a tricky balance..."

ST: What was stopping you from your highest level of performance?
Jordan: I think it was an exclusive focus on objective goals - winning or hitting certain numbers in training. I stopped caring about having a good race or having fun...


Back in 2010 my training went really well all season and I still needed a roll down to get a Kona slot.  I may have a bigger fitness base now, but looking back over the season and being brutally honest with myself, it doesn’t look like the work of a Kona qualifier.  It hit me in the middle of Devil’s Lake the other day struggling through yet another sloppy swim.  I’m just simply not where I want to be.  I’ve been fooling myself. I won’t lie, it’s a very disappointing realization, but then I thought about Jordan’s quote on resilience.   

I initially said I wouldn’t race if I didn’t think I could qualify because it wasn’t worth it to go through all that and run the same time I’ve done several times already.  I want to reach the next level.  But I decided that after all this work, good or bad, I need to follow through and finish what I started.   

I believe you need to focus on the process and not the outcome.  If you work the process, the outcome will happen naturally.  I typically enjoy the process, but I haven’t been focused on the process this year - only the outcome - which has led to mistakes and frustration.  It hasn’t been a fun season, but I can’t blame my injury.  I blame my approach. 

Fortunately, it’s never too late to change your approach.  Ironman Wisconsin is just another day in the overall process of training and racing triathlon.  So my goal is to focus only on myself and take pride and find satisfaction in a well-executed race.  I know it’s a cliché, but I just want to have fun.  I want to cross the finish line knowing I did the best I could on that particular day. 

After that, I’m taking a month off.  Mentally I want to continue training, but physically I need to recover from years of training and injuries.   

Then I’m going to rebuild.


My inspiration for race day.  My dad may have lost his battle with cancer, but he never gave up. 



It's been a few weeks since I've blogged.  Since then, I've been training trying to see if I can get my fitness back and make a decision on IMWI - will I do the race?  Transfer to Cozumel?  Call it a year and wait until 2016?

My training block started out a little rough.  I just didn't feel fit and running was rough - really rough.  I decided not to make any decisions until my build block was over so I just kept plugging away even though week 1 wasn't giving me any confidence.  I was having some knee and hamstring pain so I was questioning if I would be able to hold up with volume building.

Week 2 was a little better.  Things were improving and my knee and hamstring pain was slowly disappearing.  It wasn't a great week, but my confidence was returning.

Week 3 was a little better yet and I ended with a solid weekend.  Saturday's ride was 2x30' @ 290 watts followed by 5x18 miles at 220 watts.  I managed to push 232 watts for the final 18 mile loop and end with a 230 watt average for 5 hours and 13 minutes.  That was a tough ride, but good for confidence.  

The key to the weekend though, was my 20 mile run on Sunday.  I decided to return to the run/walk, which has worked really well for me in the past.  Conditions were a little tough for a 20 mile run with humidity being really high, so it was pretty tough, but I managed 20.4 miles at a 7:58 average pace.  It wasn't my best 20 miler, but it was an improvement over previous weeks and really good for confidence, especially the day after a tough ride.

Although not ideal (for me), I opted for a 4-week build cycle.  Normally I do 3 weeks on, 1 week off and often switch to 2 on, 1 off when volume gets really high.  But a few athletes I'm coaching were doing a 3-day training camp and I wanted to join them so that meant I'd have to build for 4 weeks.  I was getting fatigued leading into week 4 so I was a little worried.  My 20 miler put a hurting on me.  I anticipated a rough 3-days with them beating the crap out of me, which they were looking forward to, but I held up well.

4-week build

The forecast for our camp had highs in the low 90s.  Not having dealt with the heat much this year, we opted for a really early start each day.  I was afraid too much heat in addition to 3 days of big workouts on fatigued legs might push us over the edge.  So we hit the road by 6 am Friday and Saturday and 7am Sunday.

Friday was a 106 mile ride followed by an 8 mile run.  My legs felt a little sluggish on the bike and my power was a little low.  The sun came out for the last two hours of the ride and things really heated up.  Temps were in the 90s when we got off the bike and I was afraid my run was going to be a death march.  Surprisingly, it went well.  I did struggle with the heat on the second half, but part of that was because I felt good the first couple of miles and pushed the pace too much.  Miles 1 and 2 were a 7:31 and 7:36 pace, which includes walk breaks, so I was pushing.  I faded after that and ended with an 8:12 for the final mile so a pretty big fade.  Overall, I ran 8 miles at 7:53 average and I was really happy with that.

Saturday was a century - no power goals, just a fun group ride.  We avoided the IM route as much as possible, partly because we're sick of it but also because Saturday was the Madison Open Water Swim and the loop is super busy that day and it seriously sucks to be out there.  One of the athletes I coach mapped out a great route.  We had good road conditions, very little traffic, a few tough climbs, plenty of places to get water, etc. It was a really good route.  I'll definitely do this one again. 

Saturday's Century.  It kind of looks like a dinosaur.
We had a good group, including a few guys who didn't join us for Friday so they were feeling fresh and did most of the work.  My legs were pretty heavy so I sat in most of the day.  Despite that, I ended the day with 288 TSS for 106 miles.  I was hoping for an easier day because I really wanted to have a good run Sunday, but it was a really fun ride with a good group so I didn't mind pushing it a bit here and there.  

That's me in the Wisconsin Indoor Cycling kit. 

Sunday was a 16 mile run on the Ironman loop.  I mapped out the route and added two out and backs to Brittingham Park and chopped off the section out to Picnic Point.  That gave us a 16 mile loop with 4 water stops.  I was hoping to match my average pace from the week before so I started out about that pace thinking I might step it up on the second half if I felt good.  We've had some humid weekends lately and the humidity dropped a bit so even though it was hot it didn't feel that bad out there.  We all had great runs (we've been doing this camp for a few years and so far no one has blown up on the Sunday run).  

I did my run/walk (9:30 run with a 30 second walk break so it's a 10 minute cycle) and managed to step it up on the second half and finish strong with 16 miles at a 7:45 average pace.   

Miles splits from my long run.

Sunday run route.

I ended the camp with an easy swim a few hours after my long run.

Overall, it was a really solid 4-week block. It didn't start that great, but it ended strong with my best long run of the year.  All total for the 4 weeks, I swam 40,172 yards, biked 931 miles and ran 143 miles.   My knee hasn't bothered me in about a week and while my hamstring isn't quite 100%, it's getting close.

Now it's time for a recovery week and then one more big week and a taper for IMWI.  Unless something goes wrong in the next few weeks, I'm planning on being on the starting line September 13....and maybe Cozumel as well.  Things are turning around and Courtney and I are throwing around the idea of doing both races.  


Race Report: Muncie 70.3

Last year, Muncie was a great race for me.  I came out of the water 3rd in my age group and took the lead in T1.  I set the fastest bike split in my age group and then managed to hold on for my first age group win at a WTC event.  

Naturally, Muncie was on the schedule again this year. I thought I could go faster, maybe finally get my sub 90 minute run and with a solid swim and fast bike I thought I could come real close to breaking 4:20.  

With my injury, all that was out the window and I had to readjust my goals.  


I think I mentioned in my last post my back injury left me with some weakness in my left hamstring and calf.  Well, that led to some hamstring issues and brought back my old knee injury.  So I did very little running between Knoxville and Muncie, which was discouraging because the Knoxville run was ugly.

A friend of mine loaned me some Powercranks to try out to see if those would help me hang onto some run fitness.  If you don't know what Powercranks are, I envy you.  They're cranks with a clutch so the crank arms move independently ( a video - not me - if you're curious).  They're hard work, and they really work your hip flexors and hamstrings, and if you have weakness in one leg they'll let you know...trust me.  

I thought I might do anywhere from 30-60 minutes on my first ride.  I did 90 seconds.  That's it.  I progressed quickly and worked my way up to an hour before Muncie. I did get out for a couple of runs prior to Muncie and they felt okay, but I could tell I lost a lot of run fitness.  The interesting thing was that my cadence running uphill was easily above 180 and that's never the case. So maybe Powercranks help with that.  I'm not convinced they helped my running, although I did end up running faster in Muncie than Knoxville so maybe.

I went into Muncie with low expectations.  I was hoping to swim well, bike a little faster than last year and survive the run. 

The race....

The swim -  Like last year, the swim was rough in terms of having to swim through a lot of people from prior waves.  People were backstroking, floating....it was chaos.  I did my best to avoid the carnage, but plowed into two people taking a kick to the eye on the second one.  That hurt and I was sure I'd end up with a black eye.
I came out of the water in 32:32, nearly 2 minutes slower than last year.  That wasn't a big surprise because I've been struggling with my open water swimming this year.  My pool swimming is fine, but open water has been slow and I can't quite figure it out.  I did get a new Roka wetsuit so that might be the problem, but I'm not ready to place the blame on the wetsuit just yet.  I tend to suck at swimming so the problem is likely me.

The bike - The bike was okay, not great.  I felt a little sluggish and struggled to hold goal power and ended up about 7 watts low.  My lead in to the race was very different than usual, so I suspect I was paying for my last minute panic training and the spontaneous 15K TT I did on Thursday before driving to Muncie.   My speed was good despite my power being  a little low (put my wheel cover back on) so I biked about a minute faster (2:15:57) than last year on 3 fewer watts.  Conditions were very similar to last year, so I'm happy I was faster, but I really wanted to break 2:15 and I think I could have if I had hit 240 watts.

The run - The run was tough, but A LOT better than Puerto Rico or Knoxville.  I felt okay coming off the bike, but can't say I ever felt good on the run.  It was hard work from the very first step.  I ran the first half at a 7:35 pace and the second at 7:55 for an overall average pace of 7:45.  All things considered, I'm happy with that.  It got me a 1:40:37 run split which ranks as my 5th fastest ever. Puerto Rico earlier this year was my slowest ever at an 8:43 pace.  I managed to pick it up a bit at Knoxville and run an 8:07 pace.  So....progress.

I'm not 100% sure I'll be on the start line for IMWI yet, but I am going to start my final build and see how that goes.  I really want to find out what I'm capable of for an IM, but unfortunately this isn't going to be the year, so I'm trying to figure out how to salvage a decent race.  What I need to do is swim well, bike fast and manage the run.  With my current condition, that's all I can do.  I'm working on my swimming, and also ditching my Retul bike fit and working on replicating my fit from my Cannondale the year I did short course.  Then I'm going to teach myself to hold that position for 112 miles.  I think I can be a little more slippery and get a little more speed for my power.

Next up - The Door County Half Iron Relay.  I'm finally doing a half iron relay.  I'm the cyclist.  I can't wait.       



A Frustrating Season

It's been a while since I've written so rather than try to get caught up on race reports, I thought I'd write a general update and go from there.

I left off with my training leading into Puerto Rico.  All things considered, my training went well but the race did not.  My swim was alright and my bike was okay but I got a little dehydrated and faded a bit on the second half.  Coming off the bike I had a lot of pain in my left hip, which was unexpected since I never had that in training.  But that was the side of my sciatic pain so it makes sense.  I struggled a lot on the run and just couldn't get moving.  Overall, I really enjoyed the race and might go back again, but it wasn't a good day.

After that, training went alright.  I was able to get in more outdoor miles but running remained a challenge.  I lost a lot of strength in my left hamstring and especially my calf and outdoor running put a lot of strain on my calf and it was sore everyday.  My next race was Challenge Knoxville, which went about as well as PR.  The swim was alright but it rained through the entire ride just like it did the last time I did this race so that wasn't much fun.  The run was a disaster and I just couldn't get moving.  More issues with my injury, and in the end it was my slowest half ironman ever.  

Since then, I've struggled with training.  The loss of hamstring strength led to a minor strain which went away quickly, but it also brought back the return of my old knee injury.  So right now I'm swimming and cycling and haven't run much in the past few weeks.  We're less than 12 weeks out from IMWI and my run fitness, whatever I had, is slipping away.  I'm still holding out some hope that I'll be able to race, but right now it's not looking promising.  

I bought the insurance so if training doesn't improve in the next couple of weeks, I'll probably drop out and spend the rest of the summer cycling and put triathlon on hold for a while and see if maybe I can rebuild over the winter.  

So it's been a seriously frustrating season so far.  I'm about 10 months out from my back injury and still struggling to put it behind me.  In retrospect, trying to race Puerto Rico and Knoxville was a mistake.  I'm not sure if those races set me back at all, but they didn't go well so they weren't much fun and weren't good for confidence.

So that's where I'm at right now - frustrated and unsure of the future of my season (and the rest of my tri career since this back injury is making returning to running very difficult).  I'm not giving up yet though. I'm still trying to turn things around and trying some new things with my training since I'm not able to do my typical training plan.  


A tough treadmill session

Sunday, I hit the treadmill for my last long run before Puerto Rico.  The PR 70.3 run course is a two-loop out and back with a big climb that you eventually hit four times.  Then there are some rollers, which I believe can be short and steep.  

The best I can tell, you get a little more than 100 feet of climbing on that hill.  I figured mimicking the course exactly would be tough, so I just focused on overall climbing rather than trying to match the grades.  I came up with a set that was 3.5 miles and then repeated that 4 times, similar to the run course.

I ran this mostly at 7.7 mph (7:48 pace), which is about my typical long run pace.  The first half mile was a warm up as well as recovery on the start each rep.  Then I stepped it up to a 2% grade, which made my graded pace equivalent to about a 7:30 pace.  Then a bit of "recovery" at 1% followed by a mile at 3%.  That bumped my graded pace up to 7:13, which is about my goal pace for Puerto Rico so I was kind of getting some goal pace work in as well as hill work.  It also gave me more than 150 feet of climbing.  It wasn't steep, but it got tough in the later stages of the workout.  Then more "recovery" at 1% followed by a 5% grade at 7.1 mph, which gave me a graded pace of 7:14 so again right about goal pace.  That was a tough half mile, giving me more than 130 feet of climbing.

All total I had 8 "climbs" of more than 100 feet and ended just short of 1600 feet of climbing in 14 miles.  The pace wasn't really a challenge, but the climbing really wore on me.  It was a tough set, but time went quickly so I enjoyed it.  I've been doing hill repeats on a steep hill by work so I'm hoping those help me handle the steeper grades on the PR run course, and this workout helps prep me for the overall climbing. 

As of writing this, I'm 12 days out.  Today I ran at lunch and did a workout that had 8' at 8.3 mph (7:14 pace) slowly increasing the incline from 1-2.5%, then some short hill repeats and finished off with a half mile at 9.3 mph (6:30 pace) at 1%. I did the same workout last week, except this week I cut all the work intervals in half.  I'm feeling some fatigue from the last two weeks of training so this wasn't an easy set, but it wasn't really tough either.  I should recover fairly quickly.

After work, I had what might be my best distance swim set ever.  Last week I did 2500 yards straight in 34:50.  I was really happy with that workout, and this week wanted to extend it to 3000 straight.  It went really well...better than I expected.  I managed to negative split it swimming each 1000 in 13:55, 13:52 and 13:49.  I think I hit the 2500 yard mark at 34:42 so a bit quicker than last week.  

I just bought a Garmin 920XT so now I have swim data...

I still some work to do, but I'm starting to taper a bit.  I have one last big bike workout Thursday, 10 days out.  Then things get pretty easy.

I'm nervous about this race, but getting excited too. 


17 Days

My training for this race has been all over the place.  It took me a few months to get feeling back in my leg from my back injury.  After that, cycling and swimming were going okay.  I was definitely behind previous years, but not too much.  But running was rough...really rough.  I lost a lot of strength in my left leg, the calf especially, which really hurt my running.  I felt like 7 years of training had been erased as I struggled to hit paces I hit back when I started. 

I've made a lot of progress in the past couple of months, but my left leg is still lagging behind my right and I still struggle to do more than 15 calf raises. It's frustrating, but I'm getting there. PT has helped a lot.

And my running is finally coming around.  One of the biggest contributors was throwing away my Pearl Izumi running shoes and buying Hoka Cliftons.  I never thought I'd run in Hokas, but I tried them on at REI out of curiosity and they felt really good...really good.  I haven't had them very long, but so far I'm starting to hit my old paces and I'm not feeling nearly as beat up as I used to.  

The biggest frustration training for Puerto Rico has been the inconsistency.  I'd have a couple of good days and then I'd have several bad days where I would be way off pace and my running would feel lopsided as the strength difference in my legs became more evident. In some cases I was forced into unplanned easy days or rest days, so my training plan got rewritten many times.

I'm nearing the end of my final training block for PR, and this block has gone really well.  Surprisingly well.  I've had some good workouts, a notable one being my brick this past Thursday....17 days out.  Normally, my half ironman bricks are right around goal power/pace, maybe a bit higher power.  I decided to try something a little different this time, and do a harder session.  

I did a really short warm up on the bike and then...
45' @ 270 watts
5' Easy
35' @ 270 watts
5' Easy
25' @ 270 watts

My goal watts for this race will probably be about 235-240 (last year I held 236 average power for Kansas and Muncie, so I'm shooting for the same range).  So I was well above goal power.  The bike workout was 2 hours and had an average power of 258 and normalized power of 264.  I'm due for an FTP test, but I'd say this was about 90% of FTP, maybe a tad higher.      

Strava Link for Bike

Then I hopped on the treadmill and did 6 x 1 mile at 9 mph (6:40 pace) with 30 seconds rest.  My goal is to run sub-90 minutes in a half ironman.  I've come close, but haven't quite hit that number.  A 90 minute half marathon is a 6:52 pace, so this is a bit above that goal.  Since I haven't raced in a long time, and I'm a little unsure of my fitness, and because Puerto Rico is hot and hilly, I'm thinking I might aim for a 7:15 pace (1:35 half) and see how that goes....so this was quite a bit faster than that...but I'm also building toward that sub 1:30 half and working on that pace. 

Strava Link for Run

That was the toughest brick I'll do leading into the race.  I've got some hard work left to do, but no workouts as hard as that one.  My last long tempo ride will be Thursday, 10 days out.  Then it's taper time.