Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Humbling Ride Today

I had a good ride today, actually it was a great ride today.  50 degrees in late December is a bonus day to be outside.  I rode with Don and a friend and fellow Ironman that I haven't seen for a long time Rick.  Don (as I have written) is GONZO into his Leadville 100 training and Rick is training for Ironman St. George which is the hilliest Ironman of all and the earliest US IM in May.  I am not even close to being in race shape so I knew my day was going to be a challenge.  Couple that with riding on Mountain Bike vs. road bike and crashing into the curb and going down in the first 5 minutes, I knew today was going to be rough.(I think that covers all of my excuses for sucking).

So we left out from Bethalto and Rick left both Don and I on several occasions.  We couldn't stay on his back wheel.  He is in good - scratch that... great shape.  We get to the trails and our first turn on to the trail was a very short but pretty steep incline.  I was in the wrong gear so as I down shift to climb the hill I feel my chain seize up.... then get REALLY Loose, then I fell over...  I busted my chain... UGH... By the time Rene could come get me, it would be 30 plus minutes so Don had the idea for he and Rick to ride to the local bike shop about 15 minutes away and pick up the tool and new link for my chain which was an awesome idea.  They still get their ride in, I still get what is left and all is right in the world...   So not only were these guys dragging my sorry butt around all day, they were also Sherpa to based camp (the bike shop) for supplies.  They were quick but standing waiting it got pretty chilly.  I was in shorts and cycling shoes so I couldn't run or do anything to stay warm so I hopped in place for a good 20 - 30 minutes until they got back.  The chain repair was literally 3 minutes and we were off.

The trail ride was good.  It was pretty wet and sloppy in parts.  Don of course spends most of his time riding the trails, Rick very little and me a few times under my belt this year.  We did that for about 30 r0 45 minutes and then hit the road back to Bethalto.  We were hitting it pretty hard.  On the way out into a head wind we averaged 14.5 MPH which is pretty fast on a mountain bike.  On the way home we averaged 15.25 MPH and I was feeling it.

I don't train with people normally, not because I don't like too but instead it is just very hard to do.  I am literally cramming my workouts in my day and many times I don't exactly know when that will be making it very difficutlt to plan around someone elses schedule as well.  However, when it does work out it is great.  It makes the time go by much quicker and when riding with stronger riders you tend to push harder than you would when you are by yourself making the workout harder and in many ways more beneficial.

Can't wait for the next one.  Now I just need to work on strength for the next 2 months before my final IM push begins so I can keep up with those guys.

All for now....


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm Back BABY

Rene and I had our Monday night YOGAX date. This is the P90X version of Yoga. It is 90 minutes of hurting well....... actually about 60 minutes of hurting. I have never considered myself a YOGA guy but I will tell you, it is tough and when I do it, I can get up in the morning without limping to the closet to get dressed. I was telling my coach that it normally takes me several minutes to straighten up in the morning, my legs are always stiff, my back is always stiff, I am just generally sore. Since starting YOGA, it is getting a lot better. My plan is to continue this on my rest day for the foreseeable future.

Now, on to topic number two... my low back... as I have written in the past, my back has kept me down for about the last month and swimming (of all things) is what put it over the edge and kept me from doing anything for about 10 days. So today, on my lunch hour, I went and tried swimming as a test. I was able to swim a mile in about 30 minutes. It was sloppy, it was slow, my technique was rusty but NO BACK PAIN!!!! I feel great so I am stamping myself healed!!! More yoga, more strength, more bike....

Lastly, today the tri-club kicked off the ICY IRON challenge. It is basically a gimmick for all of us to keep exercising when the weather is crappy and no one feels like going outside. It isn't super compettive but basically the goal for me is to complete the equivalent of 2x the Ironman distance in the Swim, Bike Run. So over the next several weeks, I need to swim 4.8 miles, bike 224 miles and run 52.4 miles. I don't know how long it will take but I will do my best. Again, the purpose for me isn't to win but to have another motivator to get my butt off the couch and outside. When I report my miles weekly, I wil in turn report them to you.

Take care and have a great Tuesday
Tracy Butler

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Cross Training this Weekend

I'm writing this on 12/4 and like all exercising in December, it is difficult at best. The days are grey, the weather is cold, and all of us are busy so it is difficult to stay motivated to say the least. In addition, I have been dealing with a lower back injury for the last several weeks and to be honest, it has scared the hell out of me because what was an inconvenient pain turned into a full blown issue that was fired off by an easy swim. When I was at my peak swimming preppping for IMAZ I would get little aches and pains in my lower back, nothing that some heat and stretching wouldn't take care of and nothing that kept me down for more than a day or two. This was different set off by squats, a tempo run, and then a swim. I wasn't able to do anything for a week and a half along with three visits tot he Chiropractor (that is one visit less than all of my visits to a chiropractor combined in my life) so that shoud tell you something. All seems to be better now, I will know for sure when I attempt to swim again this week, first time in about a month.

So.... now you are caught up to this weekend. I have been riding with a friend of mine, Don Brown who is training for the Leadville 100. Basically the Ironman of Mountain Bike races. I could spend three blog entries talking about how insanelyhard that event is and may do so at a later date. For now, trust me... It is insane.... So, I have started mountain bike riding for a couple of reasons:

1) It breaks up the boredom of long rides on the trainer and is a great workout

2) It is a blast especially for a newb like me

3) Don is an expert and knows what he is doing. It is so much easier to get into a new way of training when you have someone to tell you how to do it right.

4) There is no wind in the woods so I have found you can get a good ride in when the temps are much colder than a road ride.

5) As it became apparent this weekend, it works your muscles much differently than my tri bike which is great and will serve me well later in the season.

Don and I rode from Bethalto to the GORC trails at SIUE. It was pretty windy but I have to tell you.. I HAVE NEVER WORKED SO HARD TO GO SO SLOW IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!.. I was going pretty hard on the way out and I think we averaged about 10 MPH vs 19 or so on the tri bike. That was just the warmup, then we proceeded to ride the next 1:15 or so on the trails before finishing the ride on the road again. It was a great workout (picture below) and my mountain bike legs are not what my road legs are and it was apparent on this ride. To me, the cross training will be great to help round out and strengthen muscles that I normally don't work. The most insane part is that my upper body (upper back, shoulders) were in the worst shape just because they weren't used to being used that way.

More to come, I have added Yoga on my Monday nights off just to stay stretched and focused on stretching at least once per week. I think that too will help my back as well.

All for now, enjoy your winter.

Monday, October 31, 2011


My last post was the week after IRONMAN Arizona November 2010. Since then my world has been turned on its head. As those few that follow know, my father passed away July 18th of this year from a rare untreatable illness called Creutzfeld Jacob disease. The onset was sudden with him only lasing a little over 5 months. Words can't describe the loss that I feel on a daily basis and the pain that comes from knowing I will never see him again. My kids will never see him again and of course what my Mom and my brothers and family are dealing with. I could dedicate an entire blog to the things he has taught me that will be with me forever and the trajedy of this disease but just as I purposly don't go see movies with bad endings (why spend money to put yourself through that right????) the same goes for my blog. No sad endings here but I would be remissed if I didn't at least start with a mention and as a prologue of the paragraphs to come.

So why start the blog back up? The goal of the last one was to honor Deborah Olney and raise funds for her care while taking a realistic look at IRONMAN training. That mission was accomplished so why another blog? Easy, I have signed up to compete in my second IRONMAN, IRONMAN COEUR D'ALENE a short 237 days away and counting. I am sure I will dedicate this one to something as well. It may be a fund raiser for a local food pantry, it may be to honor my father by the proceeds goingt to the CJD Foundation, at this point, I am not sure. I am sure it will come to me while out on a bike or a run or something.

So, it all begins now after a week off from my final race. I start back on my off season work out regimen today. This year I am trying something different with very little endurence work between now and first of the year with a primary focus on building strength and power for my Swim/Bike/Run muscle groups. With endurence training starting after the first of the year.

So, here it goes, let the insanity begin.



Hello All

Obviously this year has been a tough one for training and racing but I was determined to use triathlon and fitness as an outlet whenever possible. My year started with Rene and I doing Go! St. Louis 1/2 Marathon. The morning was hot but we both PR'd with a 1:49.xx and 1:51.xx respectivly. It was a great race and little did I now the last one I would have with what I thought to be a happy, healthy Dad. The following week I was supposed to do the River to River Relay with TriSmart but had to bow out. Several weeks passed and I did Quartermax (did well), Steelhead 1/2 Ironman in Aug., Lake St. Louis Olympic a week after Steelhead, then finished my season with SOMA 1/2 IRONMAN this last weekend with my good buddy Mike Montoya and family meeting us in Tempe. SOMA was my A race and I raced well. Sparing you the gory details of all of my races, I do want to review SOMA for future reference becuase I will do that one again.

As you all know, the Cardinals were in the World Series, with SOMA being in Tempe, AZ, all of the World Series Games stared at 5:05 local time so there was plenty of time to watch them all and get in bed at a decent hour. We arrived on Thursday in Fountain Hills, arrived at dinner time and went straight to a local sports bar for dinner and watch the Cardinals game. Then to the Condo and bed. On Friday, we woke up, I put my bike together, checked it out and went for a short run (30 minutes. We then met the Montoyas who were flying in at the CheesCake Factory for my usual 324 Cheese Pasta (the number of cheeses grow each time) for a late dineer then home.

Sherpa, not Racing????

I have to start this with some background on my good buddy Mike. He got me involed in this sport and there isn't a race that he hasn't or wouldn't do. Multi Ironman, Multi Marathon, Multi Half. This guy is a stud and you will never meet a nicer more giving person. We talked several times, emailed, text etc... several times this summer and imagine my surprise when he shows up without his bike!!!! He says he told me but I know he didn't. They showed up just to support me and visit. How cool is that. I missed racing with him but was happy they were there.

So now the race.

We picked up packets on Saturday, no practice swim for some reason so we were in/out in less than 30 minutes. I was assigned a prime spot on the end of a bike row, three rows from bike in/out. Literaly perfect transition position. We went back, I got my suff ready while the kids swam. Mellow day.

We ordered food in that night so we could watch the World Series, lights out by 10:00.


Mike is training for a December 4th Marathon and his training plan called for an 18 mile run sometime over the weekend. 18 miles at 9:30minutes / mile puts his time at 2:51 minutes. My 56 mile bike at 20 MPH puts my bike time at 2:48 minutes. We thought it would make a great race but he was concerned that he wouldn't be around to support me. The answer, just run on part of the race course!. The loser bought dinner with him starting when I left Transition on the bike. Whomever got back to transition first....won. Simple huh. We would see each other on the bike course (him running of course) so we would know how each other was doing. It was a great idea and really gave us both something to work towards. I did have a significant advantage because I had nutrition, etc... which he didn't.

Race day started at 4:00am. Normal Breakfast and off to the race. Prep was good and calm, had plenty of time.

The Swim:

I was the 4th wave and it was only the 40-44 year olds. I again learned something in this race I WILL NEVER NOT SPEND THE $20 DOLLARS FOR NEW GOGGLES BEFORE A RACE!!! EVER. The reason..... I was swimming into the sun and my googles fogged immediately so I was literally swimming blind. So blind in fact I was swimming when I hear this woman yelling at me SIR SIR SIR to tell me I was off course swimming towards the wrong buoy. I sat up, found the right buoy and corrected but not before I was way off course. Oh well, lesson learned. Other than that, the swim was uneventful which was great considering this was the longest swim I had done all year including training.... OOOPS. I was able to PR even with the course correction by a minute. You will see that I frequently swim off course, it isn't because I can't site, I practice it all of the time but for the last two races it has been primarily because I couldn't see. Fogged goggles this time, and flooded goggles in my Ironman. One day I will learn.

T1 was fast!, less than 2 minutes


The bike was an 18 mile three loop course. I were a lot of wrecks... When you take 1,000 people and put them on a three loop course there is just a lot of traffic. At one point, there was a wreck on loop 1, the next time I passed that site there were two huge blood stains on the road... I hope and pray whomever it was is allright. Other than paying attention I had a good bike. I finished just at 2:50 and passed Mike on the final stretch (he literally has less than 400 yards to go) so I won the race eventhough I think he took it easy on me. As a side note, I rode the last 5 miles of the bike on a flat tubular tire. I did the quick math and figured it would cost me more time to address the flat than to finish so I was just very very careful. It probalby cost me 3 minutes or so but not a big deal in the grand scheme.


I knew the forecast going in was going to be a hot one. Highs in the upper 90's, full sun, no shade, but low humidity. I loaded up on salt the days leading up to the race and took 6 salt caps during the bike trying to prep for cramping on the run. As they say, an ounce of prevention etc.... No Cramps :-)..... But the run was brutal. Up until the run, I was on pace to finish close to what I did this race in 2009 (5:39:16) with only being a few minutes off that pace but the run was literally 10 degrees hotter this time around. When I finished it was 94 degrees and it was a scorcher. I finished the run in 2:03 versus my previous time of 1:55 two years ago. I felt I was in better run shape this time around it was just too hot. That 8 minutes plus my flat were enough to cost me a PR. Oh well! All good considering my training.


Okay, I am a bit of a freak and probably one of the only people on the planet that does not enjoy a massage. I can count on one hand the number of times I have gotten one 1) the day after my first marathon, 2) talked into it once on vacation 3) lastly experiencing back issue during IRONMAN training 4)after this event.

My hamstrings were so shredded I could hardly walk. For the first time I went for a massage right after the race. I have to say, I will do post race massages because it really did help. Dummy Me - second lesson of the day.

In closing, rested the rest of the day, the kids swam, went to a great dinner at the Four Peaks Pub House (we will go back every time) I highly suggest the Oatmeal Stout.... Best Stout I have ever had. Thanks to Mike and Jes for buying the Butler's dinner. This was a fantastic race and trip and one I will do as often as my schedule allows.