Lake Placid Ironman 2013 — Derek’s Finish

I’ll let the video tell the tale save for this: the Tinman has reached the Emerald City.

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Recycling Iron

While this whole Ironman endeavor is a Bucket List item for me and has been a memorable experience at that, the fact remains that I’m nothing special. Approximately 50,000 athletes completed Ironman distance triathlons in 2010 (according to some random source on the internet). I suspect that number is closer to 70,000 this year as the sport grows in popularity. While undoubtedly hard, I’m an experienced runner and am a prime age for endurance athletes. In other words, these are the best conditions for someone like me to partake in this. And it’s also why Men 35-39 is one of the best represented age groups at these events.

There are others attempting this with less than favorable conditions.

I first met Derek Fitzgerald during a jog in late summer 2011. I was a brand new coach to Team In Training, which is a subsidiary to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a non-profit tasked with raising money to combat blood-born cancers (i.e., leukemia and lymphoma for the dense). It was the first practice of the season, and we had dozens of folks that were training for a half or full marathons. As the newbie coach, I was really just putting names to faces and trying to make sure no one got lost. Then, as I jogged alongside, Derek told me his story.

When Derek was 30, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which manifested in the form of a grapefruit-sized tumor (the gold standard for fruit-to-tumor comparisons) in his stomach, which had to be removed. Chemotherapy, in all of its horrific glory, ensued. This included all of those familiar side effects — fatigue, hair loss, weight loss — in addition to the more exotic. Only a few months after finishing chemo and having been declared in remission from cancer, he learned that his heart had been irreparably damaged by the chemotherapy drugs. WTF, am I right? Can’t a guy catch a break?

Of course, his weakened heart wasn’t weak enough to immediately qualify for a heart transplant, so he was fitted with a pacemaker and lived for five years in this condition. Hey, my heart is delivering about 30% of the oxygen as a normal heart. No biggie.

Eventually but not surprisingly, his condition worsened and the need for the transplant became imperative. Thankfully, In January 2011, a donor heart became available, and (obviously) the transplant was a success.

“Hold up, hold up, hold up…January 2011. You got a new heart in January 2011?”

– Matt Wokulich (August 2011)

That’s right. My first encounter with Derek was a mere seven months after his transplant. And he was training for a half marathon. I couldn’t tell if I should treat him like a lunatic or a…a…cancer patient. But there he was, plodding along like everyone else. The Team coaching staff held our collective breath as Derek crossed the finish line at the Philadelphia half marathon in November 2011. Over the next two years, I’ve watched Derek go from a half marathoner to a triathlete to a marathoner to a half Ironman. Actually, that doesn’t adequately capture the level of activity this guy has kept. In the last year, his race schedule has been peppered with triathlons, century bike rides, half and full marathons. Turns out, he was more lunatic than anything else.

On top of that crazy training schedule, Derek’s social calendar has become packed. He has become a poster child for Team In Training, the American Heart Association, and a slew of other organizations. He’s even become somewhat of a local celebrity with a bunch of (more skillfully written) articles about him here, here and here. Or, if you don’t like reading (and if you don’t, what the hell are you doing on my blog?) you can watch a video of his story or even listen to a radio spot he did on Preston and Steve (a local Philly radio show). Seriously, if you Google “‘Derek Fitzgerald’ and ‘heart transplant'” you get over 1200 hits. Of course, if you Google “‘Derek Fitzgerald’ and ‘grumpy cat'” you get over two hundred hits. So I don’t really know what kind of conclusion I’m trying to draw here.

Why do I even bother to bring any of this up? And why now? Because this weekend, Derek will be attempting to complete Ironman Lake Placid. This cancer surviving, heart transplant recipient will attempt the 2.4 mile swim / 112 mile bike / 26.2 mile run madness that I have been training for since January. In this instance, he truly is an original, because I’m guessing there won’t be too many of those gathering at the starting line in Lake Placid this Sunday.

From my perspective, I don’t see Derek the Survivor. I see my friend. Just a genuinely nice guy who does a lot of the same stuff that I do, shares a comedic sensibility, and will join me for a run or a ride. Spend enough time with him though, and you’re reminded of what Derek has been through. If you’re around for a wardrobe change after a workout, you’ll see the gnarly scar from his transplant surgery. All activities must stop at the precise moment he needs to take his medication. Or maybe you’ll spot any of the Recycled Man icons on his person. At those times, you’re reminded that he’s not quite like the rest of us.

And if you talk to him, you start to understand that his motivation is pretty simple. He’s been given a third chance at life and he’s got an obligation to a nameless heart donor who saved his life. I cannot think of many things that would drive me more effectively than that.

So on Sunday, I’m going to be glued to my computer or phone all day, catching updates wherever I can get them. I will be one of many cheering for Derek, and I look forward to the day that I can welcome him back as an Ironman.

Final note: If you find Derek’s story compelling (and why wouldn’t you?), please consider donating to LLS. Or better yet, sign up for Team in Training and get your run/ride/swim on (I know a guy).

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Revenge is a Dish Best Served with a 92° Heat Index and a Chance of PM Thundershowers

After I swung and missed on my first half Ironman attempt in Quassy three weeks ago, I knew I had to make some adjustments. Without belaboring that story any further, here are the changes that I made (either consciously or by circumstance) for this weekend’s second attempt in Syracuse:

1) Getting a real wetsuit – I had been using a borrowed wetsuit in previous tri’s, but it was intended for surfers, which meant it wasn’t really as sleek as I’d like it to be. Having the proper equipment made a huge difference.

2) Tinted goggles – Definitely helped with sighting during the open water swim. Plus, they look sweet.

3) A fully functioning digestive system – The need to be able to eat and process food cannot be overstated during an endurance event.

4) Being well rested – I was able to get 7-8 hours of sleep on Friday and Saturday leading up to the race.

So I was well-rested, properly nourished and the experience of my failed attempt had put me in a position where I could learn from my mistakes. Of course, there are always new and exciting ways that I can screw things up, so let’s not start patting myself on the back just yet.

Similar to Quassy, I was joined by my partner in crime, Mike, who was looking to finish his fourth half Ironman (HIM). This time though, we were joined by fellow Mont-Tremblant participant, Bill, who was also looking for his first HIM finish.

On to race day. In a word, it was hot. High was 90°F and the sun beat down on us like we were a bunch of red-headed orphans for much of the race (and really that’s doubly cruel since red-heads sunburn easily). Record high in Syracuse on June 24 was 92°, so it’s safe to say that it was unseasonably warm. I’ve always said that I am a different runner in the heat. I know most runners would say the same thing, but the difference is significant for me. I ran my best marathon in December while wearing shorts and a t-shirt (true story). Anything more than 72° and I get cranky.

Not much that I can do about the weather though, so let’s get on with it.

For as lousy as the bike and run appeared to be, the water temperature was a perfect 70°. And since the sun wasn’t bad during any leg of the swim, I was able to sight well and was able to stay the course from start to finish. About the only complaint that I had during the swim was the excessive amount of weeds in the water near the shoreline. Nothing like getting slapped in the face with kelp while trying to spot the last few buoys. I kept expecting to see the Swamp Thing emerge out of the water.

One of the unsung highlights of the Ironman event – Strippers! No not those kind of strippers. Sapphire and Trinity had the day off. No, these were volunteers who literally tear the wetsuit off of you after you exit the water. All you have to do is unzip, peel the suit down to your waist, lay down on your back and they will rip it off of you like you’re an oversized banana. It’s tremendous and yet a little too efficient for comfort.

Before I recap the bike, let me rewind a quick second. On Saturday before the race, Mike, Bill, Jen (Bill’s wife and a good friend of mine) and I drove the bike course. I cannot emphasize how helpful this is, because it allows you to see hills, road quality, shaded vs. exposed areas, rest stops, and all of that allows you to formulate a game plan. Syracuse had one long, slow climb between Miles 2 and 12 that looked formidable. Everything else was either flat or rolling hills. This was far from a killer course because if you were going to have hills, it’s far better to have them at the beginning.

While I had lots going against me at the time, my doom at Quassy came when I wasn’t consuming enough. Not wanting to repeat my mistake, my plan was to eat every 15-20 minutes, drink plenty and to exchange two bottles (one water and one Powerade) every rest stop. From the moment that I exited the water until I finished the bike, I consumed the following: one peanut butter and banana sandwich, one protein bar, three packages of sport chews, one banana, one half of an orange, well over a gallon of Powerade and about a gallon of water. Without a trace of exaggeration, I probably put on weight during my bike. I was well fueled.

My only problem on the bike, and the one negative takeaway from all of Sunday, was that my left knee started bothering me. So much so that I was climbing many hills exclusively with my right leg. I made it a point to get off of my bike and stretch at the rest areas (screw the clock, I’m just worried about finishing), which certainly helped, but I will definitely need to keep tabs on that in weeks to come.

Still, the bike is easily the longest segment of the triathlon and the overwhelming sentiment among my fellow riders between Miles 50 and 56 was “Get me the f*** off of this bike!” My legs, back, shoulders, arms and ass all concurred.

Getting off of the bike felt like heaven, and surprisingly, my legs felt like they were ready for a run. Quick stop in the porta-potty (hey, those 2 gallons of fluid have to go somewhere) before I take off for the run course.

By now, it’s practically midday and the sun is punishing. Most of the high caliber athletes have already finished which means it’s just us schlubs remaining and man, you’re more likely to see happier faces on death row. The run course was hilly. I’m told it wasn’t as bad as Quassy, but I assure you, it was legit. It was also a double out-and-back, which means you go out to some point, turn around, come back to the start and then do it all over again. This sucks on many levels.

1) Struggling up a hill while tired is mentally and physically taxing. Doing that knowing that it all has to be done a second time is downright brutal.

2) When you’re on Lap #1 and you hear people talking about how nice it is to be on Lap #2.

3) As you finish Lap #1, you actually come within 30 yards of the finish line only to have to go back out another 6+ miles.

Some of the nicer things about the run:

1) Here’s your best chance at seeing friends. I spotted Mike all three times we crossed paths and Bill once.

2) The locals who actually embrace the race are usually very supportive. There were at least four different houses that had sprinklers / garden hoses set up. I think I told a 70 year old woman that I loved her. Repeatedly.

3) The volunteers at these events are amazing and the tables were well stocked. Beyond the obvious Powerade and water, they had sport chews, salty snacks (really important to ingest salt since that helps retain fluid), and sponges soaked in ice water.

4) Chatting with fellow competitors. Sometimes a complete stranger can help you through a bad spell or a rough hill just by distracting you from the task at hand. I had a lovely conversation about the 80’s cartoon Inspector Gadget during Lap #1.

Still, it was hot and I was miserable. Thanks to all of the food and drink I had been consuming, I wasn’t out of gas (I’ve experienced that before – that’s a wholly different and horrible feeling), but I was just wilting in the heat. I was running from one shaded area to the next and then walking once I was out of the sun. I was averaging 12-13 minutes a mile.

Then, on my return trip from Lap #2, something wonderful happened. A clap of thunder in the distance. I look up and the horizon has gone from blue to gray. Within minutes, a breeze kicks up and the temperature drops at least 10 degrees. And just like that, I was rejuvenated. I went from walk-running to a full-blown gallop inside of 30 seconds. According to my watch, I averaged 7:20 min / mile … for the last 1.5 miles … of a half Ironman.

I. Am. A. Different. Runner. In. The. Heat.

No long after the temperature dropped, the rains came and so did some serious lightning. Uhhh, now I’m running for an entirely new purpose. With a storm like this, they might sweep the course of athletes and cancel the race. Well, they’re going to have to catch me first, because there’s no way I’m not crossing that finish line.

Fortunately, the race continued. Dripping wet from head to toe, but smiling like a butcher’s dog, I crossed the finish line. Crowd support was light, and they never announced my name over the PA system, presumably because the MC didn’t want to get electrocuted, but hey, I finished my first 70.3. What do I care?

So my lesson learned this time was that my nutrition regimen worked. I had plenty of gas in the tank, even at the very end. I also know now that I am very very far away from the full Ironman distance and that Sunday’s race is no reason to get cocky. In fact, it revealed that I need to be more serious than ever. Nose back to the grindstone tomorrow. There’s work to be done.

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If at First You Don’t Succeed (Lessons Learned from an Epic Fail)

First off, to the four people that have been following my blog with any regularity, I’m sorry for not posting anything recently. This blog clearly peaked the day it was named. It’s been all downhill from there.

So, it’s been over two months since my last post. What’s new, you may ask.

To start, training has become a grind. It’s mentally draining and each day I find myself bargaining with myself. Usually it goes something like this:

*ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM* Ugh 4:20. Snooze.

*ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM ALARM* Die alarm clock, just effing die. Ugh. Gotta swim in the morning and run in the afternoon. Well, tomorrow I only have one workout, I could push off my swim until then and just run this afternoon. But it’s going to be hot this evening. Shit. I really don’t want to swim right now. Shit. Fine, I’ll run this morning and swim after work today (lies — I know I won’t swim in the evening because there are classes in the evening and finding an empty lane is next to impossible) or tomorrow morning (no I won’t).

As this may imply, skipped mid-week workouts happen on occasion. Fortunately, I’m staying true to my weekend workouts, which is very important, but increasingly difficult. Five-hour bike rides and hour-and-a-half runs are becoming the norm and I’m a shell of myself for hours after each workout. I wouldn’t say I’m doing badly, but I’m still a long ways away from where I need to be and I know it.

On June 2, I put all that training to the test during my first half Iron-distance race at Quassy in Middlebury, Connecticut. Unfortunately, I was fighting a losing battle before I ever reached the starting line. As early as Thursday before the Sunday race, my digestive system stopped working properly. Just wasn’t digesting food and my appetite was significantly diminished. Friday evening, I had a 102° fever which broke overnight, but left me with only an hour or two of sleep. Didn’t sleep well on Saturday, thanks to nerves. Yeah, I was a mess.

I came this far though — no looking back. I get set Sunday morning, staring down the barrel of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. As per usual, I have serious issues swimming a straight line. I know how to “sight” while swimming in open waters, which effectively requires you to pop your head quickly out of the water to find a landmark. There are buoys every 1/10th of a mile, which are helpful, but spaced out far enough for me to get “lost”. After making a 90° turn, I can’t see anything because the glare off the water from the morning sun is blinding. Somehow I even lost the other swimmers. I really need to download my route from my GPS watch. I suspect it’ll be reminiscent of Billy from the Family Circus comic strip. Lesson learned — I need tinted swim goggles for race day and I need to practice open water swims.

Finally, I climb out of the water, and onto the bike. You wouldn’t think Connecticut to be extraordinarily hilly, but Quassy has some serious climbs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there were six Category 5 climbs and one Category 3 climb (translation: it’s really stinking hilly). The hills weren’t my biggest problem though, it was nutrition. For newbies, nutrition is one of the hardest things to master. On a good day, it can be tough. On a bad day, like the one that I was having thanks to my digestion issues, it can make for a shortened race. I ate about 1/2 of the food I was expecting to (probably about 600 calories — to put this into perspective, I burn ~2,000 calories on 50 mile rides).

Also, I have two water bottles on my bike. It was a hot day, so hydration was going to be an issue. There were water bottle exchanges at Miles 15, 30 and 40, and I grabbed a bottle of either Gatorade or water at each one. Problem was that at Mile 40, the bottle had a hole in the bottom (either because it was defective, or I speared it trying to put it into my cage). Once I realized this, about 5 minutes later, that was it. Mentally, I was done. I was malnutritioned, out of water for the last 16 miles of my ride, and nothing good was going to come out of me fighting through the run (which was apparently more ridiculous than the bike course).

I finished the ride, calmly racked my bike, took my timing chip off, found the nearest race official and said, “here, I don’t need this anymore.” At least I refrained from whipping it at her from close range.

Did … Not … Finish …

It was the first time I did not cross the finish line to a race I’ve started. And despite all of the obstacles stacked against me at Quassy, my confidence was rattled. It has slowly crept back after a successful 105 mile ride last weekend and a wickedly hard bike / run on Saturday, but I’m a much better athlete with a little bit of swagger. I have a chance for redemption this coming weekend as I attempt another half Ironman in Syracuse. But, another failed attempt and I have a very hard decision to make about the full Ironman in August.

It’s not the end of the world and I’m trying to stay positive. Next Sunday will be another good test as it is also hilly, although not as bad. Just hoping to stay healthy between now and then, making the adjustments that I need to on the swim, and getting the nutrition throughout the race. We shall see.

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End of Week #10 — Laying Down a Funky Base

End of Week #10, which marks exactly one-third of the way through training. This also marks a step change in terms of increased difficulty. Now we’re not just adding more time onto workouts, we’re adding new workouts.

Base Phase

Weeks 1-10 are (were) considered the Base Phase. This is just getting me to a place where I’m comfortable with a bare minimum of duration, perfecting my technique and getting comfortable with the what this nonsense is all about. No surprise, but I consider myself ahead of the game in the run and ride, but lagging behind on the swim. Here are the max durations that we hit during the Base Phase, followed by what I feel like I could do right now (in parentheses):

Long swim – 2500 meters (1600 meters), Long ride – 3 hours (3+ hours), Long run – 1.5 hours (2+ hours), Long brick – 45 min ride / 30 min run (45+ / 30+)

In short, outside of the swim, I feel like I’m ahead of the game.

By the way, a “brick” workout is a ride immediately followed by a run, which is a terribly odd sensation if you’re not used to it. Your legs feel a little jello-y once you get off of the bike as some muscle groups activate while other ones wonder why the hell they’re not allowed to stop. I suspect many people face plant within the first few minutes of that transition. Fine motor control is a little suspect for 5 minutes.

Wow, it took me 10 weeks to describe what a brick workout is? Clearly, I’m a crappy blogger.

So I still struggle in the water. I keep tweaking my stroke and when I do, I feel like I’ve reset my endurance. Hopefully now I’m in a good place to actually build on what I’ve been able to accomplish. Mostly, I’m tired of having to write about how much I suck in the pool. I need new material.

Yesterday was a 3-hour group ride with my teammates and we took on some serious hills. The good news is that I was mountain goat-esque, and I torched hills that kicked my ass last year. I’m even more confident on the screaming downhills and can stay in aero position as I go from Ridiculous Speed to Ludacris Speed (that’s right, I went to plaid – or at least, I felt like I did). This isn’t just maniacal fun, it’s smart. If you brake on the downhills, you’re miss out on all that great potential energy that you spent so much time acquiring. It’s literally the payoff for all of your hard work. To brake is to squander it. Of course, to brake is to reduce the chances of careening into a 75-year old oak tree or 12-year old Buick, so you take the good with the bad.

The bad news yesterday was that I had my first genuine accident on my bike – don’t worry, it was low-speed and I’m fine. I was looking to cross a street and make a quick left. Checking for traffic over my left shoulder, I see a car dart up beside me, so I yank to my right. Unfortunately, I steer directly into a storm drain and my wheel fits perfectly in between the grating. Wheel falls 3-4 inches into the grate and my bike grinds to a stop. I tip over to to the right and bend the wheel in between the cold, hard metal slats. Ride finished. Fortunately, I was pretty much done with my workout, I was close to home and I have super awesome friends who came and picked my sorry ass up. So it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

Runs are still good. My average pace has slipped a bit, but I’m fine with that since my legs are increasingly tired and I have no intentions of running fast on race day.

Brick workouts have actually been enjoyable, probably because neither the bike nor the run duration has been particularly long. Provided I’m smart about my cadence on the bike (trying to keep 90-95 cycles per minute), I’m 1 min / mile faster than my normal run pace.

Build Phase

Weeks 11-20 are the Build Phase. On top of the weekly Base Phase schedule (two swims, three runs, two rides, and one brick) we’re adding one swim, one ride and one brick each week. We’re also adding speed workouts. These are quick bursts of activity on the bike or run that increase the heart rate in order to simulate a heart attack (or it might be to creep into the anaerobic HR range to acclimate oneself to harder work and recover quickly, I can never tell for sure). It’s daunting, but I’m ready for the next step.

Build Phase also includes the first “training race” in early June. The schedule calls for an Olympic distance tri, but as I’ve said in a previous post, I’m foregoing that in favor of my first Half Ironman. This will be an excellent litmus test for me.

Personal Stats

Motivation: Swim – 4.5 (must…get…this…up), Bike – 9 (super stoked about my ride yesterday), Run – 9 (all systems go)

Weight: 169 lbs. Still would like to get to 160 or less.

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Weeks #8 and #9 — Stupid, stupid, stupid!

So many times with the most irritating problems, it’s a simple, sometimes very obvious, thing that ends up being the solution. It appears my woes in the pool are no different.

After getting my form critiqued several weeks back, I knew that I needed to work on my anaerobic efficiency. Strangely, I was getting more tired in the pool and the drills weren’t improving anything. This was so very frustrating, because nothing appeared to be working, even after getting a personalized lesson from a top-notch swimmer. 

It turns out, I was doing something very stupid in the water. I would hold my breath and give a quick burst out right before I turned my head to breathe in. I did this because I was told to do this by my tri instructor when I was taking a class last year at the YMCA. Like an idiot, I took that on blind faith. Turns out, you should be breathing out continuously while your head is underwater and then breathe in normally on your turn. (side note: in fairness to others who have told me that they breathe out continuously, I just assumed it was a preference thing, like what shoes to wear or what to eat before a race).

Perfect example that runners will get. During a race, when you stop at a water stop, you have to hold your breath to drink. If you do that without slowing down, you’ll be gasping for air for about 10-15 seconds after you’ve finished your drink. It’s very taxing on your body to hold your breath while exerting yourself aerobically. 

From a personal standpoint, this makes sense because before my personal lesson, I was breathing every two strokes, which is like swimming with training wheels. Yes, you’ll get there, but you’re slowing yourself down and people who know what their doing are probably laughing at you. After my lesson, I started breathing every three strokes, but I was gasping for air even faster than before. And of course I was…I was stressing my body by holding my breath every single time for 3 seconds. I wish I had my heart rate monitor on in the pool. I imagine it was racing.

So for the last week and a half, I’ve been continuously breathing out underwater and seeing improvements. I keep tweaking my stroke though, so I haven’t really “hit a groove,” but I’m getting there. At least I have the breathing thing straightened out, which I think is going to help, but I’m still falling short on my workouts. Moderately concerning because starting next week, we’re up to 3000 meters and adding another mid-week swim workout. But…I feel less helpless now. 

This weekend’s ride was a 50 mile, 2.75 hour mind-numbing slog on my trainer. I nearly fell asleep while cranking away. Believe me, if I can master that, I’m going to be the happiest triathlete in the world. Thankfully, this coming weekend should be nice enough for an outdoor ride. 

Running has still been the bright spot. Of course, talk to me in June when I’m running in 85°F, 92% humidity. That will be my great equalizer. Until that time though, I’ll take 40°F and flurries.

Personal Stats

Motivation: Swim – 6, Bike – 7.5 (c’mon spring!), Run – 9

Weighing in at ~170 lbs. Scale fluctuates pretty significantly as I lose 4 pounds during a ride and put it all back on in a single night out.

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Weeks #6 and #7 – Brought to you by Tide

If you ever sign up for a triathlon, know this. You’re going to generate more laundry than you ever thought possible for one person, or at least any one person that no longer requires the use of diapers. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (and soon to be Fridays) are two-a-day workout days, consisting of swim-bike, swim-run or bike-run. Add a change of clothes for work and a fresh set of clothes once I’m done for the night, and there are four wardrobe changes each day. I shouldn’t be surprised (fellow IMMT participant Glen warned me of this) but, still, doing laundry is not just a weekend chore anymore.

Swimming is still the suck, but I feel like I’m starting to pinpoint my areas of woeful incompetence. I should feel better about that fact, but I really don’t. My form (in my opinion) is improving thanks to the class that I had a few weeks ago, but I still get very winded far too quickly. More so than before actually because I’m utilizing different muscles than before that haven’t been conditioned properly. So I think my issues can be boiled down to two things:

1) Anaerobic efficiency

I think my biggest problem is that my body is used to functioning with lots of oxygen at its disposal. Not a big deal during the bike and run where I have easy access. Huge problem during the swim. I used to think it was just general fatigue from all of the other training, but that’s definitely not the case. One session a couple weeks ago, I was totally winded early in my workout. I ended up aborting early, and, super pissed with myself, got out of the pool. Of course, throughout the rest of the day, I was practically jumping out of my skin with truckloads of unspent energy. I know that energy was there in the morning, I’m just not accessing in properly. So I’m going to add a third day of swimming each week to focus on my anaerobic drills. It won’t be a long swim session, but I intend for it to be brutal.

2) My utter inability to S-L-O-W   D-O-W-N

I have one speed. My speed. Try as I might, I can’t dial it down. Ask anyone who’s ever run with me. I’m the worst person to try to keep a steady pace (sorry Jen). Tennis? First serve = 102 mph, second serve = 103 mph. Hockey? Maniac from whistle to whistle. Hell, watch me eat food some time. It’s like a tornado of silverware, chicken parts and hot sauce. It’s not like any of this is a conscious thing; it’s just who I am. Take that mentality into the pool and…well, I burn out far too quickly. I really am trying to slow down, but the added hurdle is that as I slow down, my form breaks down because my hips naturally start to sag. 

So I’ll spend one day a week going bonkers in the pool with the hope that the other two days I’ll be able to relax a little. We’ll see if it works.

With winter finally breaking, I’ve been able to take the bike out for a couple rides. Saturday’s ride (2.5 hours, 48+ miles) was a personal best for duration and distance, and I felt strong at the finish, so that’s very encouraging. The down side is that I have exhausted the Schuylkill River Trail (Oaks to Art Museum and back). That means I’m going to have to find alternate routes, which almost certainly means riding on the roads, which scares the bejezus out of me. Oh well, I knew it was going to happen at some point. I’ll just make sure to ride with a pack.

Runs are still strong. When I choose to crank it up, I can keep a high pace for significantly longer (thanks anaerobic workouts!). Legs take longer to “wake up” because of all the other training, but that’s the worst of it.

Best part of my training so far — I have not had to take one single Advil. That’s the sign of a good training regimen. Fatigue? Sure. Minor aches and pains. Definitely. But to not have even the hint of an injury. Sweet.

Personal Stats

Motivation: Swim – 6, Bike – 8.5, Run – 9

Weight – I saw 171 earlier in the week, but that was before consecutive nights of eating and drinking with reckless abandon.

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