Thursday, September 30, 2010

Photo shoot, sore back and 5,400 lbs of savings!

Good Morning all!

I have my "photo shoot" today for their business / athlete section of the St. Louis Business Journal(sounds funny doesn't it) because I am the farthest thing from from being a supermodel. The good news is that he wants to photograph me swimming so that should make the photo sufficiently fuzzy enough to be okay. I have no idea how he is going to do it but we shall see. I have decided to go with my St. Louis Tri Club suit because my logo is on it and in the picutre I will not look like a woolyworm swimming with all of my harryness.

I am glad that this is a recovery week because my lower back is messed up following my race simulation on Sunday. No actue injury just really sore. Just to put it in perspective, I don't like people touching me, no spa treatments, no back rubs, and only on occasion of real pain do I visit a chiropractor however today, I have a message at a local place because my back hurts and I have a hard time standing up straight. It has been improving every day but it still isn't good. The only time it has felt good is my 30 minute run the other night. I don't know if it is the form or the "running tall" that coach Jennifer has me doing but again, it was the only time I felt good all week. That was a fun run, I had a meeting and had to fly home, Rene had the kids at Nathan's football practice which, believe it or not, is just under 4 miles from my house. I got home at 5 til 7, changed really fast, and went on my run to get to the field for a ride home before practice ended and to complete my 30 minute run. Rene called me from the driver seat of her car as I was running into the parking lot so it worked out perfect. This Ironman stuff has really made me become a better time manager. There literally is not a minute of my day that is not planned.

I ordered a new pair of running shoes online that should be in today. The are the Zoot Men's Ultra Speed racing shoe. They are really light and hopefully sturdy enough for me to use in the Ironman. In a marathon, I want to wear the lightest shoes that I can get away with without sacrificing comfort. When you are taking over 43,200 steps during the marathon every bit of weight you can save helps because you actually expend less energy. These shoes weigh 2oz less than the ones that I am currently running in. 2oz is the same as .125lbs. If you multiply that weight savings times 43,200 steps that equals 5,400lbs of less weight that my legs have to lift over a 4 hour marathon. As I have said before, these endurance events are all about nutrition, training consistency, and economy. Anything that can make me more efficient without undue risk is a bonus equating to an all around better day.

With the decreased weight I hope they are sturdy enough to take the pounding. I will not use these to train very much and will try to log a few long runs in them to see how they will do for a marathon. The good news is that I still have 2 months so I will not break the rule of "nothing new on race day"

all for now


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Race Simulation round 1 is over!!!

It was a great weekend at the Butler's. Dinner Friday night for Nathan's Birthday. I had one of those reality check moments when my daughter made me promise Friday morning that I would be at dinner. Knife in the heart but truly frames the cost of training for such an event. Without the support and encouragement of family there is no way this would be happening. However, on the flip side she said to me on Saturday that "my dad can do anything he puts his mind to" so I hope the last statement more than outweighs the first in the long run.

Saturday morning was the Miles for Meso run in Alton that Acropolis Technology Group was a supporter of. The Frohock's ran as a family in their prep for the Chicago Marathon and did great and Doug Meyer and his son Thomas ran also at a sub 8min/mile pace. Thomas is 14! I ran well under direct orders to have fun because Sunday was my race sim. I had a ball but had to run to NBB's football game (4 touchdowns) and KGB's first soccer game and she did great as well! NBB's kids birthday party in the afternoon, prep for just like a race day Eve and then to bed.

Sunday started early for my 8+ hour training day, up at 5:30 for oatmeal, banana, and coffee and Gatorade. Then to the pool for a wetsuit, 1 hour swim for 3500 yards (2 miles) then a 1.5 hour rest then on the bike at 9:30. It was cold! It was rainy! It was windy! It was good! I was able to "race" per the plan (actually slighly less power than goal). However, it wasn't all good.

Have you ever heard of the Chinese Water Torture where they would take prisoners and have water drip on them for a time eventually driving them crazy. I had a rear brake rubbing on my bike and at over 90 time per minute I had a brief chirp that sounded like a cricket and IT DROVE ME NUTS! I stopped at one point to try to adjust my rear wheel but it didn't help. That was 27,000 chirps during the ride. Wow. I am still hearing it and will NEVER EVER EVER not check my brakes before I start a long ride. Anyway, I was able to ride almost 90 MIles (just short of it) and I was freezing but actually rode better at the end than at the beginning which was great and unexpected.

I had a 1.5 hour break after the ride where I took a shower to warm up and had a pre scheduled phone interview with the St. Louis Business Journal (more on that later). My friend Rick Mann (who I have written about a lot) was meeting me at 4:00 to run. I asked him if he brought a book to read because I was under strict orders not to run less than 10 minutes per mile for the first hour (he runs sub 7 minute miles). He said no worries and we ran and had great conversation about parenting, religion, and life in general. I am fortunate to be blessed with people in my life that are like minded but not so like minded I get fresh perspectives. It is good to take a step back periodically and look at what is going great, not just the challenges. Rick ran with me for an hour (9 min/mile) and had to get home. I continued on alone and was able to maintain 9 min/mile for the rest of the run! I figured if I didn't I would be in big trouble with Coach Jen! I actually finished better than plan which was great! Taking it easy on the bike paid off on the run and the weather being cool helped a lot.

I ate with the family, sat in the hot tub (again to stretch and get warm) played with the kids and enjoyed a few books with them and then to bed. I think I was asleep by 8:45.

Today I am feeling it. That was the longest effort I have had to date. My legs are very very sore but this is a recovery week for me and that is exactly what I plan to do! Recover.

My posts will be pretty sporadic this week but I start to build again next week.

Take care and have a wonderful week!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Swim Lesson with Hap Gentry

Good Morning

Most of this week has been spent on the trainer after the kids go to bed. Have I mentioned how much I dislike riding on the trainer? If not, please let me reinforce it here. Compared to outside, the trainer is tough to ride on. It is more difficulte to follow a workout plan, get the heart rate up etc... It just isn't the same as outside however it is the best alternative.

I got a call yesterday from Hap Gentry, my swim coach, who taught me to swim. He took me not being able to swim 50 yards to being able to swim 3+ miles. He was approached by the St. Louis Business Jornal to profile a business owner / athlete and Hap put her in touch with me. All in the same conversation (and while I had him on the phone) I asked if we could meet this morning for a swim lesson.

It has been 6 months since I met with him and of course, in less than an hour he gave me several things to work on and of course had me swimming faster than I have ever been able to swim and the kicker less effort..... Funny how that works... Swimming harder increases drag and decreases speed. Just to put it in perspective, I was able to shave 4 seconds off of my fastest all out 100 yard swim. 4 seconds doesn't seem like a lot but when I could reduce my time at less effort, over an hour plus 2.4 mile swim that is a big deal. He is truly and amazing swim coach.

So, now that my swim is out of the way this morning, I have a 1 hour run later today. Each year on the kids birthdays we let them pick where they want to go for their birthday dinner. Typically it is McDonalds or Pizza Hut because we just don't eat a lot of fast food. However, this year when we asked my son who turned 7 this week his answer....... "I want to go to the Cooking Pot" the cooking pot to him is translated into the Melting Pot. He has expensive taste. I am starting to think the gift certificate that was given to us (that introduced him to the "Cooking Pot" may very well be the most expensive "free" meal we have ever had. Oh well, Birthdays only come once a year right?

Sunday is my "Big Day" as written about before. I am trying to prepare for it just like I would a race. I am actually getting a little nervous about it just because it is a race simulation and will be the biggest indicator if finishing is in the cards and then, if my power and pace goals are anywhere close.

We shall see......

Tracy Butler

Monday, September 20, 2010

Great Weekend, horrible run

Happy Monday everyone!

The weekend around the Butler's was a good one and I hope yours was too. Saturday morning Don B and I met at Pere Marquette park for a long ride. My legs were pretty fatigued going in due to the long build week and doing hills on Thursday but as I tell myself, these days are the ones that mean the most so we set off on the first climb. The climb went okay for me but I felt a lot more tired early when compared to the same ride on 9/6. Don wasn't so lucky as he was stung by a bee on the lip near the top of Marquette Park. He soldiered on (I was kind of hoping he would want to call it a day ;-)) but he didn't. We took the ferry over to Calhoun and rode up the Illinois River on the West side towards Brussels, with a side trip up Batchtown hill coming back with a turn around in Hardin. We then retraced our route to Pere Marquette finishing with a revers of the pervious climb.

The total ride was 64 miles and it took us 4:35 hours to complete. Avg speed was 16MPH with a total climbing Ascent of 2905 feet. My Avg HR was 134 BPM which puts it solidly in my aerobic zone 2 (where it should be). Over 80% of my ride was zone 3 and below. My average power at 177 watts (Tempo Zone 3) this is partially spiked due to hills. I did almost 25 minutes with power above 261 Watts (Zone 6) and this was the climbs. All said it was a great ride and although we cutout the last hill at Hardin it was still a very challenging ride.

This weeks highlights have a 2.5 hour run on Tuesday, a 2 hour hill workout on Friday with what Jennifer calls my "Big Day" on Sunday. I don't quite know what that means yet until but as we speak I just got an email from her so I will be calling her now.

This is what it looks like:

4:30 a.m.-5:00 a.m. Wake up and eat a race-day breakfast followed by some light stretching and mental preparation.
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m. Swim for one hour at race intensity using race-day gear.
8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Get off of your legs and eat a light meal.
9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Ride as you will do on race day including intensity, equipment, clothing, fluids and nutrition.
2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Get off of your legs and eat a light, mostly liquid meal.
4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Run as planned for race day including intensity, clothing, shoes, other gear, fluids and nutrition.

All for now..


Friday, September 17, 2010

Pere Marquette Hills

Good Morning, I hope this finds you well.

This was my view last night at the top of Pere Marquette. As I said before, sometimes you have to stop looking at the road to realize how fortunate we are. It doesnt' get much more beautiful than this:

Following my more technical blog this last week I figured I would go out and "do" some of the things that I talked about. Last night was hill repeats so I got home, threw my bike on the car and headed up to Pere Marquette park in Godfrey, IL. It was a beautiful drive and especially as things start to cool a bit and the air gets a little more crisp and a lot less muggy.

Anyway, just outside of Pere Marquette lodge there is a hill and actualy if you go to google maps and zoom in on the area they have actually taken pictures of these hills that you can preview before you go ride. I basically rode up to the highest point in the park, turned around, and rode back down. On my fourth repeat I just kept going and rode the loop back to where my car was parked.

My legs are pretty spent this week so my power was low but it felt just as difficult as when I rode on September 6th when I was coming off a recovery week. Below is a map of the ride, in addition, my training file is also here. If you like to ride and are looking for hills this is the best I have found that is semi-local.

Today Acropolis Technology Group is the prime sponsor at the SimmonsFirm Foundation golf charity event so my run very well may not happen today, we will see. Tomorrow morning Don B and I are meeting to repeat the ride from 9/6 so it should be a challenge, especially on rubbery legs, I will let you know. I may even try to compare the rides on 9/6 with fresh legs and tomorrow with fatigued legs. I will be curious as to how they stack up.

Lastly, good luck to Rick Mann and all of Team Godzilla and the St. Louis Tri club that is doing what looks to be a very challenging Branson Ironman 70.3. It is billed as being very very challenging so good luck to all.

Here is the file from last nights ride:

What you are looking at is a graph showing % Grade, Power that I am applying to the pedals, and Heart Rate. I would have graphed speed but I didn't want to share my sub 5 mile per hour climbs with the world.

The reddish line is Heart Rate and as you can see, climbs with the hills. The good news is that it doesn't get higher on each repeat meaning that my HR didn't degrade over time. Now, there is a lot to be said for the relative shortness of the ride and there are many variable but the fact that my HR didn't reach max and actually stayed the same is encouraging.

The yellish line is the %Grade of the hill. In my screen capture, I highlighted the steepest section at 16% grade. For those of you that don't cycle, 16% grade is a lot. There are steeper out there but I can tell you, I can't maintain climbing at 16% for very long. Good thing this was a short section.

Lastly, the purple line is power. If you look at the highlighted section you will see that I am applying the maximum force to the pedals at the times of this steepest grade at a little over 500 Watts. I have peaked for a few seconds over 700 watts but only as a spike. I can only maintain 500 watts for a very very short amount of time and it really uses a lot of energy. For long races when you need "steady state" or constant power it is imperative that I avoid these huge spikes because it takes so much out of the legs.

So, that was my ride from last night. I hope it makes sense and again, if you have any questions or want me to specifically talk about some aspect that interests you plese let me know at

Have a great weekend.

Tracy Butler

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A little more technical part III

The other side of the coin. A case to be made for not training with any of this.

I am an engineer by education with a heavy science background. I love the numbers. I love trying to figure out the correlation between how intense a workout is to my relative fitness and how they tie into my goals. However I try very hard to not let the data get in the way of the enjoyment of the sport. I have mentioned Rick Mann, multiple Kona qualifier and sub 10 hour Kona finisher. He has qualified for the 1/2IM Championship this year and will do excpetional. As an age grouper (Tri speak for non professional) with a family, full time job, and other life demands he is one of the best if not the best in the St. Louis area at long distance triathlon. The kicker, he doesn't use any of this stuff. That is a pretty strong argument for not using it (or a strong argument for hard work and great genes!).

He is PASSIONATE about IM. He is experienced in IM and has a natural gift that he has worked very very hard to tune. He has been doing long distance tris since the mid to early 90's so he has been able to figure out by "feel" and experience what works for him. He has had a lot of great races and I am going to guess he has probalby had some that he would love to do over again but regardless he has two things that I don't. 1 - Natural ability 2 - a lot of experience

When I started, my goal wasn't to do the Ironman 10 years from then, it was to do it in 2 years so time was not on my side and my tolerence for trial and error was/is pretty low. To address the second point, I may have some latent, natural ability but I needed to get the most from what little ability I had as fast as possible. Lastly, Rick and many others just go hit it and seem to be so in tune they know when to push and know when to pull back. I don't have the frame of reference yet to know when that is which can quickly lead to "blowing up" on race day. The data helps give me that frame of reference.

Lastly, and at the risk of getting mushy, let me warn you to not let the data get in the way of enjoyng the sport. If you pursue this stuff, take the time to enjoy the sunrise / sunset. Stap on your shoes and tear out on a trail run for the fun of it. Go ride you bike with your kids / wife / whatever. Do a 5K with your daughter or son. All of this stuff is just a means to an end with the end being health and quality of life. It is easy to get caught up in the goals and the goal are a great catalyst to kick start your fitness but the secondary benefits far outweigh the primary in the grand scheme. For me, Rene is now my trathlete wife (who is better than me), my kids did their first Tris last year unsolicited by us. We did a 5k as a family a few weeks back. NBB and KGB swim now and want to learn to lap swim. NBB walks at recess and walked more miles than any other kid in his school last year because he wanted to. KGB periodically wants to go for a run with dad (she is 9). It is just a world that didn't exist prior to us getting into this sport and has happened just because. Kids emulate their parents and as a wise father once told me, they are watching and learning even when you are not actively parenting and that is when they really learn from you.

So just to summarize, the data is like anything else, it is a tool. Don't get so focused on the tool that it gets in the way of the project. If you are looking to kick start a program, pick a 5K or some other event sometime in the future, register for it, put it in your calendar, and tell your family and friends your goal. You will be amazed at how spending your money and committing to a race will motivate you. It has for Rene and I (and several others) and my family and I are better for it.

All for now,

Tracy Butler

A little more technical Part II

My last post gave the basics of measurement and the what and how key data is collected. This post is going to focus on how that data is used in the training tool WKO to actually make sure I am getting the most out of each workout but first lets talk about that for a second.

We have all been there. I wake up early, go to the gym because I feel like I have to but am not motiviated. Talk to a few friends, go through the motions on a few machines, maybe jog slow on the treadmill for a little bit, basically "phone in" the workout. I then go home, eat a big mac and fries and then wonder why I am not losing any weight. Other days, wake up energized, go for a swim or a run and just really kill it and leave exhausted but know I have really worked hard that day. Both of these are a function of efficiency in your workouts. I may have spent the same amount of time but obviously, one workout was using the time much more efficiently than the other. One of the reasons that I chose Jennifer and TriSmart is because her system is train smarter, not longer. We are all busy, I have many things (as you all have) competing for your focus. Work, family, charity, kids sports, you name it. The one constant is that there are only 24 hours in a day so getting the most efficient workout is so much better than getting a longer, inefficient workout (for me anyway). The TriSmart system is based upon using data and determining the best and most efficient workout to maximize readiness for you goals. Think of it as replacing quality for quantity. If I was retired, if my kids were grown and out of the house and I was looking for things to do with my time I very well might commit to 20+ hours a week of triathlon training and choose the quantity route over quality because to be honest, I have really enjoyed my training. However, this is reality and time is the most valuable thing that I have. Soooooo.... using the data to get the most efficient workouts in the shortest amount of time appealed to me.

What happens with all of this data? Let me start by saying there is a TON of things that are measured, however, I am going to focus on the three most important things for me. Below is a graph that is a summary of my physical life since November of last year.

It looks really complex but it really isn't. Let me explain.:

The crimson line represents my Acute Training Load (ATL). This line represents how hard I am working over the last couple of days. The line goes up fastest if I do a long hard workout. If I do a long workout, it causes my body stress and the line climbs. If I do a short but very very intense workout, the line climbs. If I do a really hard, really intense workout the line climbs A LOT. If I phone it in, the line doesn't move hardly at all. Look at the line on 9/6/2010. That was the 5 hour bike ride that I did with Rick Mann and Don Brown. It was a long ride as measured by distance, Heart Rate, Time(adds stress) and the hills were brutal measured by power and heart rate(add stress) and when you combine the two, this workout was a killer compared to "my baseline" as described in my previous post. If you look just to the left of this workout on 9/6 I had a recovery week. That week was filled with low intensity, shorter workout and you can see, the crimson line dropped showing that the workout stress went down for that period of time.

The Yellow Line is what is called my TSB or my Training Stress Balance. This line basically represents how fatigued I am. Another way to put it is how stressed my body is because of the workouts and (ATL). The more negative the line, the more stressed and run down I am. Theoretcially the more negative this line, the more susceptible I am to gettting sick, pulling a muscle, or possible injury. This line shows my race readiness. I would never want to race fatigued or for that matter super super rested. The goal is to have this line around zero on race day or even slightly less than zero. For me, I race best if this number is between 0 and negative 4ish. It may be different for others but we have found that has worked good for me so far. Just as a side bar, the last two and only times I have gotten Strep throat in my life were the weeks following Quartermax (very high intesity, 3 hour effort) and ironically enough the weeks following my 1/2 IM in Racine (high intensity 5+hour effort. I got sick each time within 2 weeks of these big efforts an the subsequent builds for these big efforts. Based on this, I should probably get a doctors appointment for the first or second week in December :-)

The last line (the blue line) Cumulative Training Load (CTL) and is my relative fitness and is the most important of all. The higher the number, the more fit I am. For longer duration races like the IRONMAN I want this number to be as high as possible without getting sick or getting injured. This is the fine line that has to be walked between now and the event. If through intense training we try to make it climb too quickly and I get hurt or sick it derails my fitness and I actually lose ground during the extended recovery. That is why taking a day off (Monday)during builds and having a recovery week every 4th week is key for me. When you look at the graph, last week was a huge week of training for me (actually the biggest to date). It resulted in my highest acute stress (crimson line), my most negative Traning Stress Balance (yellow line) and resulted in a significant spike in fitness (blue line). Monday was a much needed day of rest and you can see all three lines showed recovery before I start to build again yesterday (Tuesday). The bad thing about all of this is it is relative to me and since I have never done and IRONMAN before I don't know and neither does my coach where the blue line needs to be for me. Because of her experience training athletes of all distances she has an idea but there is on way to know for sure. It all needs to come together race week and "peak" at the right time. I would love it if she could tell me "get the blue line to 91 on race day and you will have a great race". However, no such thing exists but for me, it will over time. So my goal is to make it as high as possible without injury. I spend a lot of time focusing on how I am feeling and if I need to lower the intensity, I will, but I can tell you, my eyes see race day coming and my brain knows that there are only so many days, hours, and minutes to get ready so I have to be very careful that my focus on being ready does not "out yell" my more subtle voice of "how I am feeling".

Lastly, there are the red dots on the graph. The just show the 10 most intense workouts on the graph. I can assure you, most of these are either races or cycling rides with hills.

I apologize for the really long, technical post but I often speak of tired, intensity, stress, recovery etc.... and I thought it was important to share where all of this came from.

Please let me know what you think. I appreciate you reading and it goes without saying that you have an open invitiation to ask me anything about triathlon or training and I will do whatever I can to help you.

All for now


A little more technical

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday! Today I have a swim at lunch and a 75 minute run tonight. It will be good to stretch the legs and see how they respond after a tought week of training.

I often talk about fatigue or a tough week or an easy week and I understand that sometimes it is hard to gauge what a tough week is. A tough week for one person is an easy week for another based on fitness, intensity etc... Today is my attempt to explain how Coach Jennifer and I work together to determine the right mix of training, intensity, days off, duration etc... Now a couple of caveats. What I am going to talk about is specific to me and has gotten more accurate over a period of two years of tracking all of my workouts and the periodic "tests" that I have talked about.

So, lets start with the Data. I am only going to talk about my running and cycling because that is the easiest to track. Swimming is much more difficult to collect real data from so the graph I am going to show you excludes swimming. There is just not a good way to track that info right now other than distance and duration. So, when I talk about data, what do I collect:

Run Data includes: Distance (how many miles), Time (how long it took), Pace (how fast I was going), Cadence (how fast my feet were hitting the ground) and route (where did I go)and most importantly Heart Rate (how hard was I working to generate the output of the other data points) and least importantly elevation (was I on a hilly course or flat).

Cycling Data includes: Distance, Time, Speed/Pace, Pedal Cadence, Route, and the most imporatant on the bike is Heart Rate (input) and Power (output).

Let me focus on two items of the above right now. Heart Rate (run and bike) and Power (bike only). Jennifer has me and her other athletes perfrom tests throughout the season that measure and predict key thresholds for Heart Rate and Power. These basically set the standard for each athlete to compare all of their workout to (if that makes sense). To put it another way... Lance Armstrong is going to have different thresholds than I am however, eventhough his are higher and will always be higher we can both work at relatively same intensities when compared to our "standard". He will be exponentially faster but when he is pushing himself as hard as he can climbing The Col Du Tourmalet in France, he is feeling roughly the same way as I would be climbing Pere Marquette. Now he would be able to climb longer etc... but my point is, workouts are relative for each athlete and it all starts with measuring key numbers for Heart Rate and Power. I may try to tackle these in a future blog but not today. I am only beginning to understand them myself.

So, how is all of this data collected. The good news is that I don't have to carry a notebook and pencil with me. The data is all collected automatically. On the run, it consists of a GPS enabled Garmin 405 watch, Heart Rate Monitoing Strap, and a small cadence sensor that is laced in my shoe laces. On the bike, I use a Garmin 705 bike computer, the same heart rate monitor and a pedal cadence sensor on the bike (all very similar to the run). The last piece of equipment is a power meter on the bike. It basically measures how hard or how much power I am putting into the cranks on my bike. Power is key on the bike because speed really means nothing. If I am pedaling into a hurrican force wind and only going 3 miles an hour it will take a lot of Power to move at that 3 miles an hour. If I have the same gale force wind but this time it is at my back, I can apply very little power but travel 25 miles per hour. Power is a great way to measure effort on the bike because it is consistent regardless of environmental factors.

Lastly, once I have all of this data, I use a software program called WKO to see and house all of this data. WKO is the tool that turns the data into something useable. It was originally designed for competitive cyclist but has now incorporated running and cycling (and other sports for that matter) to help analyse performance.

Now that I have all of the basics out of the way, my next blog will talk about perfromance management and how Coach Jennifer at Tri Smart uses the data and turns it into something meaningful that I can train by.

So just to summarize, here is what you need to know: Everything I do I measure. Testing helps determine how hard I am working (or not on lazy days) of each workout compared to my capabilities. My next blog tomorrow will talk specifically how this has helped me.

As a house keeping note: I know this blog is nearly impossible to subscribe to and I apologize, very short sited on my part. If you ever want to give me feedback please send me an email to If have replaced that @ sign with AT so I don't get spammed too bad. I know people are reading the site, I just don't know who and feedback is greatly appreciated.

All for now

Monday, September 13, 2010

What a week!

First I want to give a shoutout to IRONMAN Danny Soshnik with a 1:22 run, 5:49 bike and a 3:57 marathon for a total time of 11:21:50. Incredible and I am happy for you IRONMAN!

My weekend wasn't nearly as good as that but still good. I had a solid run on Saturday after a hard week of training. I work early and coincidentally when when Danny was starting is swim in Madison, WI I was starting my 1:15 swim at home. I had a brief rest at church and then proceeded to ride the bike for 3 hours and all went well. I had great power averages and a really solid ride for it being such a tough week. This week has been the most intense training week to date and it is going to build for the next two weeks. The challenge is going to be to really push myself without getting injured or sick so we will see. I have a day off today which will help but back at it on Tuesday.

Rene finished her season this weekend at Trail of Tears triathlong in Cape. Hearing the description it was a trail of tears. She finished 3rd in her age group and she said there were a lot of DNF (did not finish). She said the run course didn't have a flat spot on it and was actually booed at the awards ceremony. She was the second fastest run in your age group by 1 second. BTW... she did it with (what has now been diagnosed) as bronchitis or whooping cough. Wow....What a first year she has had but she has now said she is taking the week off (the doctor confirmed) and then who knows what from there.

This week is going to be another tough one but now Danny has inspired me. He warned me the builds would be fun!

All for now, have a great week!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't read if you are easily offended

For anyone thinking of running or taking up the sport I feel like I have to do my civic duty and report the good, the bad, and the ugly. (My wife is really cringing right now).

This has been a long week at work and in training. Nathan had a football game last night and I was able to see his game and get my run in, however, I wasn't able to get into bed until late last night making me tired today. As my friend Bart says, all choices have consequences, make wise choices. The consequence of yesterday was tired and drained today but it is what it is. This week has really been a good one coming off of rest last week. I feel like I am adapting to the training and am beginning to feel the difference. Granted, I think a lot of it has to do with the cool weather which makes a huge difference.

Now my public service announcement: When you go on 2 hour runs, wear socks!

Now most of you are thinking duh, of course wear socks, it keeps you from getting blisters. Believe it or not, there are many shoe companies that make shoes that you can wear, blister free, without socks. Zoot is one of them and that is what I primarily race in and they are made to be worn sockless. Anyway, that is not why I am recommending them. I run mostly out in the country with many runs on Moreland road (by Bethalto). The highway has really nice, wide shoulders, traffic but not a ton of it along with some nice rolling hills to get the heart rate up. Last night was no different. well, sort of different. Every great once in awhile running causes (or makes worse) gastro intestinal distress and when you are out in the middle of no where with no place to go you have to figure something out quick. Last night was one of those nights..... Now, connect the dots and now you know why socks don't just prevent blisters but have many uses. I typically don't litter clothes along the highway but last night was an exception.

So for those new to distance running, ALWAYS WEAR SOCKS! One day you will thank me for it and I expect to hear from you!

Now today I have a 45 minute swim and a 1.5 bike ride that I will be doing tonight after the kids go to bed. Rene is doing the Trail of Tears Tri in Cape tomorrow morning and i have NBB's football game. They are only calling for a 70% of rain and with a name like Trail of Tears it has to be fun right!?!?!?!?!? We are truly silly people.

All for now and have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Long but great week

Hello all

Just wanted to give a mid week update. My training is really starting to ramp up. Following the 5,000 calorie 6+ hour effort on Monday that I previously blogged about I am feeling drained but in a good way (if that makes sense). Typically after a big effort like Monday, I will get a day off to recover and give my legs time to repair the damage that took place. Basically fitness is a constant tear down and rebuild of muscles over an extended period of time. Rest is important to give your muscles time for this repair. Rest can come in many shapes and sizes but right now, I am in the "build" portion of my training which is designed to get my body and mind mentally ready for the huge effort of the race. To this point, I have never and will never give an effort for the length of time needed on race day however, big efforts on taxed muscles help prepare for the race. It is walking that fine line of high level of training and not getting hurt.

With all of that said, I had an 8 mile run scheduled on Tuesday which I was wondering if I should be resting but I did it anyway. Surpisingly, the run went well. It was an aerobic run with a series of "striders" which conist of 20-30 second sprints spaced throughout my run. The purpose of this run is to continue to build my aerobic capacity (long slow aerobic efforts) but not at the expense of speed (the short bursts) with giving my heart and lungs an opporutnity to go from "taxed" back to aerobic throughout the run. The run actually went great and as tired as I was when I began it quickly went away and my legs responded well and I was able to maintain a high pace while keeping my heart rate in the aerobic zone.

Last night I had a swim and an 1.5 hour "tempo" ride (tri speak for slightly higher than average effort) think of "tempo" as the stage above aerobic. Last night it was a cool night so the lack of heat helped keep my heart rate down meaning that I had to work that much harder to get my heart rate into the "tempo" zone.

~ As a sidebar, the great thing about working with a coach and specifically TriSmart is that every zone, every workout is defined. There is no guess work for me. My workout will say tempo bike ride for 60 minutes and I know that my heart rate needs to stay between 142 and 148 beats per minute to stay in my tempo zone. These zones have been determined specifically for me through tests that Coach Jen has me do every 3-5 weeks). If it is too low, I pedal harder or faster. If it is too high, I am working too hard so I back off a bit. It seeems really complicated but it really isn't. There are days that I feel better or worse and without these hard numbers, i would exercise by feel and come to find out, my feel is often wrong. Like most people, I have limited time to train so getting the most out of EVERY training session is key and training by the numbers allows me to do this. Where some Iron athletes will have peak training weeks of 20+ hours a week, I train 15-16 but train very specfically.

Last night my legs felt great. I really was able to push a lot of power (also measured) while keeping my heart rate in a fairly low zone. This was great to see because this leads to efficiency which is very important on very long efforts like my race. I had an hour swim planned but shortened it to 30 minutes. I was pretty tired and know that I have a long rest of the week so I did make the conscious decision not to over do it. Plus, I wanted to see my family knowing that I probably will not see them but only for a short time tonight.

Tonight is a 13 mile run that are always tough mid week. If it is pouring rain I will have to do this on the dreadmill which is HORRIBLE but it has to be done. If it is raining or raining lightly I will take my chances and do it outside. NBB has his first football scrimmage tonight that I really want to see but I don't know how I can get it all in. It is important that I get this run done but it is also important to him and me that I get to see him scrimmage. This is one of those times that are really really tough on me as a father because I need to do both but just can't. That last sentence really sums up the sacrifice needed to commit to an IRONMAN. My family suffers just as much as I do and without them, this goal is not possible. My only hope is the short term loss is a longer term gain for them and the example I am setting will make more of a difference in the grand scheme. I am still not exactly sure what I am going to do and a lot of it is going to depend on weather. It may end up being a 2 hour run in my basement after the kids go to bed and a short night of sleep? We will see.

All of now, have a great rest of the day.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Great ride yesterday

I asked a fellow local triathlete earlier in the week(and multi time Kona qualifier Rick Mann) about local hill rides. He informed me he was going on one on Monday and invited me to join him. To put it bluntly, we added our fair share of labor in Labor Day and what a wonderful ride this turned out to be. We were fortunate enough to be joined by my friend and cyclist/mountain biker Don Brown and his friend Brad for what turned out to be a beautiful morning for a long, challenging ride. We laughed a lot, rode a lot and it was just a really enjoyable group.

Rick picked me up at 5:45 and we set out to meet Don and Brad and Marquette park. Once everyone arrived we set out around 7:00am. You will see from the elevation picture above we started by going (what seemed like) straight up. This is Pere Marquette hill and is a very challenging steep graded hill that we started and ended the ride with. The other hills are the "side trips" that you will see in the map. Did I mention that I asked for this route???? What was I thinking???

In all seriousness, this is a great training route for long distance racing. It has long stretches of rolling hills to flat sections between the long climbs giving your legs time to recover before you really hammer it on the 10%+ grade hills. There are several little towns that you ride through with convenience stores to use the bathroom or refuel as necessary. If you are an avid cyclist looking for a challenge you can do repeats on the hills at miles 21, 35, and of course in Marquette Park. On Monday there was very little traffic so that was never an issue. The wind was a bit challenging yesterday but it was a great ride.

Afterward, Rick and I went for a 40 minute out and back transition run and if you read my blog last weekend following my bad long workout this one was the polar opposite. I was able to push good power on the bike, climb at a reasonably comfortable pace and still have decent legs on the run. I am going to incorporate the hills at Pere Marquette from now on and if I get some sucker um, er, friend to ride with me on this route on the weekends it will become a staple ride. The only downside that I can see with this ride is that it does take awhile to get there (and get home) from my house but other than that, it is a great mix of challenging vs. flats and if your heart so desires you can add challenge by doing more repeats.

It was rush home, shower, and off to the Bethalto Homecoming with the family.

I am feeling pretty good this morning and Coach Jennifer has me doing a 75 minute run. Following yesterdays effort I don't know if I should rest or run but she will tell me that today.

All for now and have a great week!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sheriff's Special Olympic Run - Thanks Bank of Edwardsville

Today was the first annual Sheriff's run to support the special olympics. The run was at Galzebrook park in Godfrey. There was also a fun run for the kids consisting of .5 mile or a 1 mile run for the older kids. Rene's sister Laura and her family, Eric, Madison and Tyler were in from California for the weekend so we decided to do the run together.

We have to thank Pat Devening and Rhonda Pluester and The Bank of Edwardsville for sponsoring the event and more importantly sponsoring Rene and I to run in it. Rene's parents were there to watch and Chris Thorpe did a great job coordinating the race. The 5K (3.1 miles) ran out of the park with an out and back, then two loops in the park finishing where it started. The weather was great with low humidity so it was a perfect day for the run. We started and pushed pretty hard from the beginning with both of us having good runs. The field wasn't huge but Rene and I both ended up winning our age group. However, the fun part was the kids.

Next was the .5 mile run for the kids. Our 6 year old son (NBB) and 9 year old daughter (KGB) both wanted to run. NBB who volunteers to run at football practice told Rene and I all week that he was going to win the race. We of course told him that there would be a lot of kids, most of the older so don't be mad if he didn't win. If we said "just go have fun" once we said it 10+ times each. Kathryn said she was going to run with another little girl who wasn't quite sure where she was going. The kids lined up and as soon as the horn sounded NBB took off like a flash. We thought for sure he would sprint, get tired and walk. With it being .5 miles we could see the entire course. They both made the turn at the end of the lane and NBB was leading. He ran to the turn around and.... was leading..... we thought for sure he was going to stop running and walk but... he didn't..... he rounded the last turn onto the long straight away to the finish and three older boys were on his tail. Nathan looked over his shoulder and saw them gaining on him and did he stop.... No... he sprinted to the finish winning the race and beating all of the other kids. Attached is the NBB winning and KGB crossing the line. I am so proud of both of them, they ran so hard and had a lot of fun. If you look, KGB is actually smiling. The last pic is the family.

All for now and thanks again Pat and Rhonda


Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | View Saguaro Lake From Fountain Hills in Fountain Hills, Arizona | View Saguaro Lake From Fountain Hills in Fountain Hills, Arizona

This is the possible addition to the bike leg of IM Arizona between Fountain Hills (the old turn around) and Saguaro Lake (possible new swim location. I have driven this before only once and remember it be very very hilly. However, I found this on MapMyRide and would be curious if anyone has ridden it on the bike. IM officials and the Town of Tempe say the lake repairs will be done and this is the backup plan.

Does anyone have any info on this ride?