Friday, July 13, 2012

Things I learned @ Ironman CDA

In an effort of full disclosure, this post is more for me than any of you.  I found it very helpful this time around to go back and review my posts leading up and following IM Arizona as I put together my race plan for Ironman Coeur D'Alene.  So here are the things that I learned this time around with the hopes that I remember to look here for my next Ironman.

- Studying old swim start footage paid off.  I was able to find the line with the least amount of traffic (inside buoy line behind all of the fast swimmers)  As they started out fast, Mike and I were able to walk in behind them.  In addition, since we were on the buoy line we wouldn't get "squeezed" by the swimmers on the outside trying to come in.  This worked perfectly.
- Clear water is better - It may seem obvious but when the water got really choppy I was able to see the swimmers around me - site less often -  and use them to gauge direction siting less often.  In addition, when my goggles got knocked off I didn't get swam over the top because other swimmers could see that I was sitting up in the water.  Much much better than the murky water of Tempe Town Lake and Soma
- I have to get my wetsuit fixed / altered / replaced.  My neck was RAW even after I used glide.  This by far was the worst pain I had following the race.


- My T1 time was terrible for many reasons
  • Put as much on the bike as possible including my spare tubie.  There was enough fluids on the course that all that I need is my speed fill and one bottle of water.  Use the second cage / bottle holder as storage and not you bike jersey.  It was too difficult getting all of that stuff on with a tubie in the rear pocket
  • See if I can get an aerobar drink holder and fill it with EFS.  I should be able to get 4-5 bottles of EFS in the aerobottle quite possibly eliminating the entire need for a cycling jersey ie.. speeding up T1
  • Use a second bento box if necessary.  Again, put as much on the bike as possible and as little as possible in my T1 bag.  Do the same with gloves etc..
  • My bike was 170 watts and used a 28 rear cassette for 7K of climbing.  The 28 was perfect for CDA
  • Take both sets of front race wheels for wind conditions, ride the more shallow wheel.  My 90s got a little loose on the fast downhills
  • taking 2 salt caps per hour was perfect.  no stomach issues
  • I took in 5 EFS liquid shot flasks during the bike - perfect
  • Water with ever efs intake
  • Gatorade in my speed fill bottle
T2 / Run
  • I wore my soot TTs and had no blisters after using a lot of glide in T2
  • I did not use my fuel belt and didn't need it.  
  • I took 2 E-gels in the first 10 miles of the run with water
  • I drank coke for the remaining 16 or so miles
  • Run through the rest stops for as long as you possibly can.  At 9mm plus 1.5 minutes walking through the rest stop is 10.5 mm plus.  I was able to run 9.5mm for the first half
  • Take a few Tylenols with you on the run.  I didn't have any this time and wished that I had

Friday, June 15, 2012

T-Minus 9 days

It has been awhile but I am writing this as a "current state of affairs" so in the future I will have a reference point in my training and preparation, plus it will update the few of you that have read this in the past.

Today is Friday 6/15.  The race is one week from Sunday.

I am within a few pounds of my race weight.  My bike was checked out by Jim an Maplewood, racewheels are on and I rode last night for 1:45 and it felt good.


Generally speaking training for this IronMan has been totally different than my first one.  This is an early season IM and the third in North America this year.  IMAZ was in November and the last IM in North America so unlike the first time around, I have not had an entire summer of building and racing as in the past.  The first time around I was fairly injury free except for a few back issues.  This time is a different story.

Mentally I am tired and ready for it to be here.  I have the same nerves that I had in the past.  Fear of the unknown is always there and wondering if I did enough to yield a good day on the course.  This is common for everyone and this time around is no different.

Physically:  Much different this time around.  I had early season back problems that ended up being my SI Joint and fortunately have been able to keep it at bay for the past several weeks with a weekly visit to the Chiropractor in addition to getting pretty good and self adjustment.  My Achilles tendon injury that happened roughly 18 weeks ago a the beginning of my training is my biggest concern.  I purposefully have not had a scheduled run of over 2 hours to limit damage.  I have not logged nearly as many miles as the fist time around however, I have replaced a lot of running with cycling.  My cycling is feeling pretty strong right now.  My running we will see.  The good news is that my Achilles is tight when I get up in the morning and within 30 minutes or so, it is loose and feeling good.  I am comforted by the fact that I believe I am as prepared as I can be - all things considered. 

The weather in CDA:  aside from the fact it might rain the temps in CDA are going to be between 50-75 for the day.  Perfect in my opinion.  If the winds stay calm and the day stays cool it will shape up to be a great day.  The water temp on the other hand is a different story.  The lake is notoriously cold.  They have been getting a lot of rain so the dam has been open more than in the past.  As of today, the water temp is 54 degrees.  I did IMAZ when it was 60 and although brisk when you first get in, it wasn't too bad.  Anything between 60-70 is perfect.  To be honest, there is no way to know until we arrive and do the practice swim.  It is supposed to be in the 70s this week and hopefully the sun will warm the top layers.  Time will tell.

I have a brisk strider run tonight and a 1 hour swim.  Tomorrow I have a short 3 hour brick.  I drop off my bike on Monday for the trip to CDA and I leave on Thursday. 

When asked about how I am approaching this IM I am reminded of a story from an Airborne Ranger that I used to work with as a civilian in the Army Corps of Engineers.  We were having lunch one day and I asked him what it was like to jump out of an airplane (he had over 500 jumps).  He said the first time was awesome, the second time was horrible.  When asked why, he said, the first time it is new, the second time you know what is coming.

Take care.....


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I know it has been awhile but in an effort to chronicle my training, this time around has definately been a lot more challenging.  Maybe I have a short memory but other than a few minor tweaks here and there, I really didn't have any major set backs in training for IMAZ like I have for this one.  First it was my back that is well chronicled here but seems to be doing great now.  However, as soon as I started feeling good about my running again I've had another slight set back that could have been catastrophic.  12 Days ago, I went for an 1:15 minute tempo run after work.  I felt strong, actually went on a slightly different path and explored a road that I had never been down before but ran past several times.  All is good. 

Later that night, I was in my garage putting some things away, the kids were in bed, Rene was in the basement riding the bike.  I was in my bare feet like I am a lot of the time.  As I was reaching up into a cabinet I stepped on a piece of aluminum that blew off the house in the last set of storms.  I was keeping it so that I could match it later when I felt a pain that almost felt like a sting in the back of my leg.  I looked down and I guess when I stepped on the bent piece of aluminum the share edge rocked up and sliced into my Achilles area on the back of my right leg.  I was bleeding pretty bad and the slice went pretty deep.  I hopped on one leg into the kitchen and tried to stop the bleeding with paper towels but it was no use.  I called Rene on the phone so I wouldn't wake up the kids and asked her to come up stairs ASAP.  I needed to stop the bleeding and compression wasn't helping so I reached in the drawer and found super glue.  No, not the stuff for skin but the stuff that holds the construction worker to the beam by his hard hat.  I held the flap of skin together the best I could and covered it with glue.  It worked and was good enough to keep the bleeding stopped until I got the emergency room.

The check in nurse was pretty appalled at my use of glue because as she pointed out, it is toxic.... OOOPS.... so is bleeding all of the house BTW...  After seeing the doc and doing a few tests, he assured me I did not get into the tendon (my biggest fear), they cleaned out my glue and used some of their own.  No swimming for a week, no running until I felt I could and to avoid infection, they said no biking.

So, heading the advice of my doctor, I rode the bike on the trainer for 1:30 Friday night.  Believe it or not, although it couldnt bear any weight, I was able to do an easy spin on Friday and actually worked to loosen it up.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  I then rode the bike on Saturday for 3 hours.  Very Very Very low power output but again, it went a long way to loosen it.  For the next 7 days I have been limping but have been able to swim (last Friday for an hour, Sunday for 1.5 hours, yesterday at lunch) with very little pain. I can't push off the wall but hey, there are no walls to push off of in open water.

So, I can now walk without a limp and HOPEFULLY I will be able to run tomorrow or Thursday. 

Time will tell.....   89 Days to CDA.  I really hope what they say is true, cycling helps running.... 

All for now.


Monday, February 27, 2012

The hidden benefit of my back injury

I promise this will be the last post about my back.  I am not a winer, nor do I seek attention for injury however, in this case, this specific SI Joint injury may have been a blessing.  I won't know for sure until I do my race but if yesterday was an indication I may have lucked out.

So periodically to make sure my training is doing what it is supposed to be doing and my specific workouts are based on where my physical abilities are, Jennifer at trismart assigns me tests.  Yesterday was a Functional Threshold Power Test or often referred to as FTP.  Riding with a power meter is the single best way to improve your cycling ability.  The reason being is that it is constant.  When you think about cycling, there are many variables like wind and hills being the two biggest.  Both of these greatly affect speed which is what we all strive for (yesterday was a great case in point).  The reason power is so important is it actaully measures that amount of force you apply to your pedals.  Power doesn't care how fast you go or if the wind is at your back or in your face, it only measures how hard you are working.  About once ever two months I do an FTP test which is loosly defined as the average power I can generate for an hour.  Once FTP is determined, my coach can calculate all of my Power Zones for racing based on the distance of the cycling portion of the tri.  For instance, for my Ironman I will bike in Zone 2 - the aerobic zone and regardless of wind and terrain, I will be instructed not to apply more power (as measured by my powermeter) that we determine I can handle.  THIS IS EXTREMELY important when you race because you always feel jacked up and like a super hero during a race.  If you go too hard especially in a race that is 12+ hours long your body feels great at first but all of the blood rushes to your legs to help them pedal.  During the bike, especially the first 60 miles you need to take in a lot of calories to fuel you bike and run and recover from the swim and if all of your blood is in your legs, you don't digest your food and when you don't digest your food you have no energy and you bonk.  Here is a great video of a famous dual "bonking" in an Ironman.  It isn't because they didn't train, it is most likely because they didn't get enough nutrition during the race or raced so hard they couldn't process it.  For us inexperienced racers who have not gotten the "feel" of the right mix of effort yet, power is the only way to tell. This is one of the most famous of all bonks but it happens every race .

Anyway I digress....  The reason my back injury may have been a blessing is because I wasn't able to run so spent a lot of time on the bike doing very specific work to increase my FTP.  If I increase my one hour FTP the trickle down is that I also increase my aerobic zone allowing me to apply more power over a longer period of time in the Ironman making my relative speed faster.  The FTP test is pretty simple.  Do a time trial as hard and fast as you can go wihtout "blowing up".  Your power over the first 10 minutes should be less than the last 10.  Instead of doing this for an hour (because that really really really sucks) do it for 30 minutes.  Most experts believe that your FTP is 5% lower than your 30 minute average power.  I did this test yesterday and was able to average 274 Watts for the test.  I mentioned above your power meter doesn't care what your speed is was demonstrated yesterday.  My test was into a 20 mph wind the entire time.  That is the most power I have generated but my average speed was only 15MPH!!!  My previous best was 240 Watts so my test yesterday was a full 14.2% gain compared to the test that I did outside July of last year.  My extra time in the offseason on the bike (assuming I can maintain it) should help me come June at IMCDA.

Now, I need to make sure I get my aerobic engine and endurence where it needs to be along with my swimming.  I feel great about where my biking is right now for this time of year.  The other two things are a little scary but we will see.

T-Minus 17 weeks and counting.

All for now...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My back is finally healed

What a wake up call for me.  I have never really had any back issues to speak of in my life until now.  Since before Thanksgiving I have been dealing with lower back pain.  Doctors, Oral anti-inflamatories, No Running, and a lot of grumpiness has finally came to an end.

Last Tuesday, I woke up, back pain as normal, and was getting dressed for a breakfast meeting.  I bend over to get my shoes and all of a sudden I feel a pop and my left leg goes limp.  I can't stand up, I can't straighten up and I am laying on the floor.  I cancel my meeting and can do nothing but literally crawl on my stomach back to bed.  To say I was sickened would be an understatment.  The Dr. that is seeing me doesn't get back in the country for another week and I literally can not walk.  I am hoping laying down would help so I tried to sleep.  Of course, I was in too much pain to sleep so at 8:00am I call the Chiropractor that I have been to a couple of times, Dr. Dykeman in Rosewood Heights.  I have known him for a long time and Rene goes to see him periodically.  They were able to get me in, assuming of course, I could get myself there. 

It takes me what felt like 20 minutes to get out of bed and then I still couldn't walk.  I called Rene and she had to come home, get me dressed, and help me to the car.  The only thing I could think was that Ironman Coeur d'Alene is over for me and I actually said that to Rene.  With IMCdA in 20 weeks I am getting really nervous at this point. 

I get in to see Dr. D and explain history.  After confirming, reconfirming and reconfirming again that there is no disc issues (thanks MRI) he puts me on the table.  Then he proceeds to crawl, literally crawl on the table with me.  An arm through my legs, a hand on my shoulder and with one quick motion I hear and feel what sounds like a shot gun go off in my hips.  I literally let out a "Son Of A B$%#ch", quickly realizing that I just yelled in the middle of a busy office I apologized and then realized I had almost instant relief.  He told me to stand up and I could.  I could walk again.  He then proclaims what I have been dealing with this entire time was my SI Joint.  It has been off and on all the way back to IronMan Arizona in 2010 and I never realized it.  Everyday since I have gone back to him for an adjustment with each one getting less and less until I can actually do it myself.

Sunday was the first time I would even attempt to workout last week with a semi-easy 1.5 hour bike ride on the trainer.  I was still feeling good so I quickly transitioned to the treadmill for my first run in over a month.  My goal was to get 15 pain free minutes in.  50 minutes later running at this time (8.5 min/mile) I thought it was time to stop.  Still - ZERO pain. 

Had a great weekend with KGB having a great basketball game and Dance competition rehearsal and NBB having a great Upward basektball game as well.  He is fighting a weird cold right now (slept through recess yesterday) but other than it it is a great Valentines Day!

More to come but I should have a full week of training this week with hopefully no issues.

Until then, have a great week - T-Minus 19 weeks to IMCdA


Monday, January 30, 2012

My Darn Back

I finished all of the meds today and my back has stopped getting better.  I am about 80%, I have full range of motion but still have pain when I wake up or sit for too long.  THIS IS SOOOO FRUSTRATING!!..  Unlike other times I have been injured and improvement continues until I reach 100% this is frustrating.  I started gettting better and it just sort of stopped at he beginning of last week.  I am still only biking and swimming because those do not seem to make it any worse and as a matter of fact, biking actually makes it feel better....  weird

So, Dr. M won't be back until next Sunday.  If he doesn't think it will get worse or relapse, I can deal with it, add core work and running back in.  If he thinks my progress will slide I am sure he will want to inject the area directly with anti infammatory meds. Although not very appealing, at this point, I really don't care, I want it to get better and go back to pain free training. 

Ironman Coeur D'Alene is 21 weeks away (tick tock tick tock) I am definately feeling the pressure start to build with each day that passes that I am not able to train the way I feel like I should be training...  In the meantime, I am spending a lot of focused time on the trainer getting high quality workouts in and swimming.  I have also added some Yoga back in not that my friend Tiffany has allowed me to borrow some Yoga videos. 

Probably no more udpates this week unless something significant happens.  Until then, happy training.

Tracy Butler 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just a quick update

I'm about 1/2 way through my anti-inflamatory meds and they seem to be helping.  I did a 2 hour bike ride yesterday (semi hard effort) and felt better after than before I started.  I did a little strength last night after my daughter's basketball game and I feel pretty good today.  I plan on taking the week off running but focusing on biking, swimming, and introducing some more core strength since that is my journey from back pain. 

Bike ride tonight after the kids go to bed with hopes of continued improvement.

All for now