09 June 2020

5K Time Trial

I ran a relatively hard 5 K for time today. It was on my own and not a race. It was meant to be a measure of current fitness and a sort of benchmark to measure where I am in future weeks. I had low exceptions but hoped that it would go pretty well.

It did not go well. While I knew my run fitness for a half or full marathon was lacking, I hadn't expected this 5K/3.14mile run to be such a struggle and be as slow (for me) as it was. As the athlete I wonder what's going on. I wonder what the reason is; why I couldn't perform. As a coach I can tell me that you've had good and "bad" days every week for months. I can tell me this is a starting point to build from. I can tell me this is just a point in time and not permanent. I can tell me but I can't make me listen!

I do not always have the answer, especially when it comes to bumps in my road. I will continue to train anyway, to aim for improvement, to uncover the reasons for this level of fitness, and to persevere. I do not have high hopes or expectations but I'll do it because I respect the process that is training. And I'll do it because I value my health and being a triathlete.

26 March 2020

The Pros and Cons of Treadmill Running

by Rick Morris

As a running coach and a personal trainer, I get questions concerning the advantages and disadvantages of treadmill training from all types of clients. My running clients are concerned about the training effects of running on the treadmill. My personal training clients that are more interested in overall fitness and my weight loss clients, have questions concerning calorie burn and health benefits.

For fitness, health and weight loss purposes, there are really no disadvantages to treadmill training. A calorie burned on a treadmill is the same as a calorie burned during any other activity. Cardiovascular fitness is improved at a similar rate whether you run on a treadmill or outside on the road or track. The treadmill provides many added benefits for this type of user, including injury prevention, safety, convenience and improved exercise adherence.

The treadmill also provides these same benefits to competitive runners. Fitness gained from running on the treadmill has been shown to be very similar to training effects from free range running. In some cases, treadmill training provides even greater training benefits. An example of this is the consistent pace of the treadmill. Many training programs require workouts that are performed at a precise pace and distance. The treadmill makes maintaining an exact pace and judging the precise distance much easier.

There are some disadvantages for competitive runners. These disadvantages are related to the lack of specificity when training for road or track racing. There is a rule of training called the "rule of specificity" that says training should closely mimic the activity you are training for. There are very definite differences between treadmill running and free range running that violate this rule. Here is a summary of the pros and cons associated with treadmill running.


Adverse Weather

You look out your living room window. The wind is howling, the mercury in your thermometer is shivering at the bottom of the scale and the snow is piling up on your driveway. You have a five mile tempo run planned. Are you going to lace 'em up and head out? Unless you are about 400 meters short of a full mile, you are going to stay huddled in front of your fireplace! In situations like that, a treadmill is the perfect answer. You can perform any of your training runs in the safety and comfort of your own home or at your gym. A treadmill takes the weather factor out of the equation. You can always hop on your treadmill and do nearly any workout that you could have done outdoors. If ice or snow is present, running on the treadmill will certainly provide a better workout than running outside in those conditions.

If you are running outside on ice or snow, you must be very cautious of your footing. It is nearly impossible to concentrate on your form or pacing when running on ice. It is also very difficult to maintain your planned pace, since you must slow down on such a slippery surface. The bulky or multi-layer clothing that you must wear in cold weather can disturb your stride and arm action. Cold weather alone will probably not adversely affect your run. But, for some runners, cold weather becomes an excuse not to do their planned workout. This is especially a problem for beginning runners. A treadmill removes all excuses for not running.

Cold, ice and snow are not the only weather related problems a runner must deal with. Hot weather can create an even more serious situation. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious conditions that are frequently encountered by runners. Each of these conditions are caused by a combination of high heat and insufficient fluids.

Speed Work/Interval Training

Successful interval training depends upon running the repeats at a fairly precise speed and at a precise distance. It is hard for most runners to accurately judge pace while training at the track and becomes even more difficult when training on the open road. When training on the track, you at least know the exact distance you are running, but on the open road, it is all guesswork. There are some fairly accurate GPS training watches available that use satellite information to give you your pace and distance. These have proven to be fairly accurate, but are still not as precise as treadmill running.

Consistent Pacing

When you begin to fatigue during your outside training runs, you may sub-consciously slow down. You do not realize that you are slowing down because you feel like you are running at the same rate of perceived exertion. In other words, you still believe that you are running at your goal pace. The accumulating effects of fatigue make your goal pace feel harder and harder, so you slow down in response. This unintentional reduction in your pace can have a negative affect on the quality of your workout. This problem with inconsistent pace can happen in all workouts from speedwork to long runs.

Easy Runs

Most competitive runners like to run fast. They love their speedwork and tempo runs. But you cannot run hard and fast all of the time. Your muscles need time to rest and recover. Without that recovery time, you will not be able to complete your harder workouts at an optimal pace and quality. Running easy is hard. In fact, running easy is one of the hardest things to do for many runners. Easy runs are necessary to allow your muscles to recover from hard, intense or long running sessions, but it can be very difficult to run at a pace easy enough to allow for muscle recovery. It can feel very slow and therefore many runners have a tendency to perform their easy runs at too fast a pace. The treadmill fixes this problem. Once you determine your easy pace, it is a simple matter to set the treadmill at that pace and jump on. As long as you don't give into temptation and increase the speed of the machine, you will stay at your easy pace for the duration of the session. Maintaining an easy pace on your rest days will allow your muscles to stay fresh and will improve the quality of your harder training runs and avoid overtraining problems.

Hill Training

Hill running is one of the best and most efficient workouts for building running strength, running economy and improving race performance. The problem is that many runners live in areas that have few hills, if any. So, what do you do if you live in a hill challenged area? Simple - get on your treadmill. Most treadmills will elevate from 1 percent to 12 percent. Some elevate as high as 15%. There are some newer models that also decline 2 or 3 percent, which would be great training for races with some downhill sections, such as the Boston Marathon or trail races.

The treadmill not only supplies hills to those without hills, it also removes hills for those that don't want them. Many runners that live in mountain communities have problems finding a route that does not have hills. There are many times, especially during easy runs and periods of rest and recovery, that you do not want to run on hills. The treadmill will flatten the hilliest terrain!

Long Runs

The term long run brings up visions of running long distances in parks, on roads or urban trails. There are many great benefits of doing long runs on that type of terrain. However, more and more runners are doing at least some of their long runs on the treadmill. Many do all of their winter long runs on the treadmill to avoid weather related problems. Running on a treadmill for two or three hours sounds boring. But for that matter, so is running outside for long periods of time. When doing long runs on the treadmill you can watch television or listen to music to help alleviate boredom. I like to tape marathons or other running events and watch them while I run. I also enjoy watching running movies. Any movie will entertain you while you run, but I find that running movies keep me motivated.

The quality of your long runs can also be improved by running on the treadmill. The precise pace control will allow you to keep the pace down when necessary. It will keep you from running too fast during the first part of your long run. It will also keep you at a quality pace if you are doing goal pace long runs. It can be very difficult to maintain that quality goal pace in the later stages of your long run. The treadmill will keep you at that goal pace and you don't even have to think about it. This is essential for marathon training. During the last 6 to 8 miles of a marathon, it becomes very difficult to maintain your pace. In order to run your best marathon, you must practice maintaining your goal pace when you are very fatigued. Since the treadmill does not get tired, you must push the button to slow it down. So, the machine will keep you on your pace unless you make the decision to reduce your speed.

When doing your long runs on a treadmill, you are also near all of your water and fluid replacement drinks. No need to hide fluids in a bush or carry them with you. You are also just steps from a bathroom. No more quick trips behind the bushes.

Injury Prevention/Rehabilitation

Running on concrete and asphalt day in and day out places a lot of stress on the connective tissues in your legs. This can lead to potential overuse injuries. High quality treadmills that are produced today give you a stable, but more forgiving surface. Treadmills are available in a fairly wide range of surface softness. The firmness of the treadmill is determined by a combination of the running deck and the suspension system. Some are designed to more closely mimic the firm asphalt or concrete surface of the road and others are designed with a lot of "give" in order to provide a very soft ride for heavy runners or those with injury problems. There are even some machines available that are adjustable to different levels of shock absorption.

Mental Toughness

The sport of running is a solitary activity that requires self- motivation, discipline and commitment along with both physical and mental toughness. These are all attributes that must be learned and practiced. Running on a treadmill is comfortable, efficient and safe. But, it is not psychologically easy. It is really quite difficult to run and maintain pace on a treadmill. This is due, in part, to the perception that you are not going anywhere. You do not have the psychological cues that you are making progress, such as the wind in your face and the objects and scenery moving by. You also do not have other runners around you to keep you motivated.

Since running on the treadmill is usually a solitary activity, it helps build self-motivation and commitment. Running and maintaining your pace on the treadmill builds a mental "toughness" that will help you in your races and outside training runs.

Great For Beginners

The treadmill is ideal for beginning runners. Many new runners feel a bit intimidated by the sport and by more experienced runners. There is no reason for them to feel this way, but many do none the less. The treadmill gives these beginners a great place to start and to gain confidence in themselves so that feeling of intimidation melts away. Most new runners start with walking. The treadmill is a great tool for incorporating those first running steps into a training program. It is very easy to add in very short surges of running. The treadmill provides them with a stable, level and dry surface in which to practice those first running steps.


The treadmill provides many benefits. But, as with everything, it is not perfect. Along with its many advantages, the treadmill does have some disadvantages.

Lack of Specificity

One of the "laws" of training is the law of specificity. This simply means that your training should be as specific as possible to your training goal. In other words, your training should match your goal as closely as possible. You are training to run outside on the road, trail or track and run races, not to run on a treadmill. Treadmill training has been proven, in scientific studies, to have very similar physiological effects, to outside or free- range running. In simpler terms, treadmill training gives you very similar training benefits when compared to free-range running. However, even though the physiological effects are very similar, it is not specifically the same as running outside. There are physical differences, which include lack of wind resistance, lack of changing terrain, running on a moving belt, bio-mechanical differences and psychological differences.

Lack of Wind Resistance

When running on the treadmill, you are obviously running in place. You are not running through the air. When you run outside you are running through the molecules of the air, which create resistance. The faster you run, the more of an effect the air resistance has on you. Studies have estimated that air resistance creates an increase in your running workload of between 2% and 10%, depending upon your running speed. The faster you run, the more of an effect the wind resistance has. You can compensate for the wind resistance by elevating the treadmill, one or two percent.

Running Bio-Mechanics

In addition to the wind resistance problem, there is some evidence that running bio-mechanics are different when running on the treadmill. There have been very few conclusive studies done on the running form differences between treadmill and free range running. The studies that have been done have presented some rather conflicting data. Here is a brief summary of the reported running mechanics problems that have been associated with treadmill running.

Stride Length - There have been reports of stride length being both longer and shorter than outside running. One study on the effects of treadmill running came up with some very interesting data. The study used one group of subjects that were very experienced runners and compared them to a group of new runners. The results showed that the more experienced group had longer strides when running on the treadmill, compared to their same pace when running outside. The interesting part is that the inexperienced group had the exact opposite result. They had shorter stride lengths on the treadmill than they did when running outside. More research is needed to determine why this happens and if it happens consistently to a large group of runners.

Longer Support Time - Support time is the amount of time that your support leg spends on the ground. Some runners tend to spend more time on their support leg when running on the treadmill. In order to maximize your running efficiency your support time should be kept at a minimum. If your support leg is on the ground longer, you are probably not running as efficiently as you could be. This increase in support time is probably caused by an unconscious desire to provide a more stable running base on the moving and somewhat unstable treadmill.

Less Forward Lean - Some studies have determined that some athletes run with less of a forward lean when running on the treadmill. This can cause more energy being wasted on up and down motion and less energy focused on forward momentum.

Running Surface

The even and soft surface of the treadmill is an advantage in many ways, but it does present one major disadvantage. When running outside you encounter uneven surfaces, stones, soft areas, hard areas, dry areas, wet areas and various combinations of these surfaces. The challenge of running over these surfaces improves your propreoception or the ability of your neuromuscular system to correct for the effect these types of surfaces have on your muscles and the position of your body parts and joints. This is critical to runners because it affects balance, power and running economy. Running on the treadmill removes this very important part of training.

This article is adapted from "Treadmill Training for Runners" - Click Here for more information on this book of treadmill training.


27 November 2019

Ironman Arizona 2019 Race Report

Here’s my typical, long race report for Ironman Arizona 2019. Feel free to move on. As usual there’s some introspection along with some of the race nitty gritty. It’s far from thorough but already too long. If you’re just looking to be amused, jump down to the Run section…
Ironman #13 is DONE. It turned out not to be what I’d hoped for or wanted but it was not totally unexpected. To summarize the day: it’s pretty much always true that if you want to perform well or great, you need good or great preparation. I did not have that! I’m not a fan of excuses but I had 5 pretty poor weeks of training leading into IMAZ after doing the 70.3. Truth is it took most of a week to recover and then I got sick for 2 weeks. This didn’t shut me down completely but it certainly limited what I could do for final prep. I also have had high levels of fatigue related to pouchitis, a colonless person’s version of ulcerative colitis. This, on top of being sick, limited the number of workouts, their duration, and even how they were done. Preparation and, above all, consistency have been the keys to my racing relatively well in the past so when I’m not consistent it very much has an effect on performance. I know most people don’t much care about whether I take 11 hours or 14, but of course I do.
The day before the race we went down for the practice swim and to turn in our bikes and gear bags. Ate lunch at Rubio’s and then back to the hotel to relax, prep nutrition, and watch the USC vs. Ucla football game. I opted out of dinner and went with 2 smoothies to minimize “traffic” in my GI system, a strategy that worked well for AZ70.3.
In bed before 9pm for the 3:30 alarm. Did not sleep very soundly or deeply. It’s common for me to have interrupted sleep but this fell well short of restful. Got up, woke Linda, and did my usual preparation, knowing Mom would be ready before we were! Got to the venue, did my stuff, and walked to the swim start with Linda and Mom. I was among the first dozen to arrive. In hindsight, we could have slept another 15 min. or half hour. I got my warm up in, put the wetsuit on, and said goodbye. Got into the coral in the 1 hour to 1:10 group with John. It was a much better set up than last year when I couldn’t squeeze into where I thought I should be. Genna snagged a volunteer job to help patrol the area. 
Swim 2.4 miles – 1:05:03, 2nd of 92
The rolling start was fairly calm, especially once you got pass the first few hundred meters. Pretty minimal contact for me except at the 1st major turn buoy 1000+ meters in. The swimmers spread out again once we headed west. Water was 61 or 62*f. I would guess. Having poured water into my wetsuit and on my face just before helped make that fairly comfortable. Also having done plenty of early morning open water swims with Sally certainly had me accustomed to it. 
I was conscious of my legs and feet as I’m very prone to cramping. I was relieved to get out of the water unscathed. I think it’s cool getting to swim under the bridges. They seem so high when you’re in the water. And when I see spectators it makes me want to look for my support crew or even just wave or yell to any random people looking down. I sighted extra going east just to take in the pretty sunrise. I felt a little drained of energy with about 800 m to go. That’s never happened before but I backed off a little at that point. 
Transition 1 – 15m30s
Volunteers helped me up the ramp and then I found some stripper to take off my wetsuit top. I chose to leave the bottoms on for warmth as I ran/jogged the long ¼ mile or so to transition and the changing tent. After trying to get the wetsuit bottoms off (and putting my thumb through the rubber), I sat in a chair and got help with the it. The volunteer gave it a yank and yanked me right onto the ground. Little did I know that wouldn’t be the last time I’d land on my backside! Fortunately I wasn’t injured. He said it would be easier if I wasn’t so muscular. Not in the mood for a discussion, I thanked him and then took quite awhile to get my stuff on so I’d be warm enough on the ride. I did not want to be shivering or worse during the first part of the ride. Besides, finishing was the absolute priority.
Bike 112 miles – 6:15:26, 28th of 92
Did my usual running bike mount, rode up out of the expo area, and hit the fairly rough road for the 1st mile. Then had a headwind for about 12 of the 19 miles out to the turnaround on the Beeline Hwy. Going up the hill, which is really mostly just a “false flat” I was often going 12-16 mph. After the turnaround I felt like I was flying back, easily hitting 30+ mph. My back started to hurt by end of the 1st lap of 3 total. If you’ve read my race reports before you know that I sometimes pee on the bike. You’ll be glad to know that I used the portapotty 3 times instead! The first time I decided was because I didn’t want to get cold. The 2nd and 3rd I used the time to stretch my back, which provided 15 minute of temporary relief.
I decided to take my caffeine early in hopes of masking some of the back discomfort. Fatigue also showed up part way into the 2nd loop. Given my output power and reasonable (for me) heart rate, this was not a good sign. The caffeine helped some for both issues but fatigue and back pain still remained. I didn’t ignore my mental game: don’t look too far ahead. Plan but stay present. Problem solve. Get through this. “What if you are stronger than you think?” (Thank you Kat!) Out near the turnaround for the final time, near Red Mountain, my mind wandered to “I’d like to get off this bike and go hike that mountain.” I pushed it aside, excited that I was about to blast back down the hill for the last time. I also periodically reminded myself to not give in just because it was hard. I thought about how many weekend long rides I had done, how much time I’d put in, and how those training rides took me away from Linda so I better make this worth the sacrifice.
One more recounting: I wore homemade disposable arm warmers, a windbreaker, and those little instant hand warmers in the sub-50* air. The clouds hung around for about ¾ of the ride. When it finally got warm enough I ditched all the extra outerwear, including leaving the jacket at an aid station in case someone behind me needed it.
Favorite sign: “If you’re looking for a sign… This is it!”
T2 – 6m29sec
It was a huge relief to get off the bike. I knew it was a much slower ride than I had hoped for but that’s happened before so I was still open to having a good run. But I was also realistic knowing how I felt going into IMAZ. I got the running shoes and race # belt on, etc. and headed out of the tent. It’s hard to forget stuff (like I did at AZ 70.3) when it’s all in your bag for you to grab. 
Run 26.2 miles – 5:36:56, 38th of 92
It was a rollercoaster of a run. The 1st 2 miles were a struggle but they usually are. I started to find a flow but then I’d lose it – this happened repeatedly. Not long after I would get into a good rhythm then I would begin to feel lousy or feel a hamstring think it might show me who’s boss, and I’d start to slow down or walk again. While I ran most of this marathon, there were plenty of walking blocks. There was also plenty of something else…
OMG! Skip has OMB! Yes, it’s true. I have Old Man Bladder. I stopped 6 different times to pee during the run. Six! It was ridiculous! Each time I got into a portapotty I couldn’t help singing to myself, “Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore” from the Frozen song. On the bright side I guess I stayed relatively hydrated and, considering my performance, those 6+ minutes mattered not at all.
Pace wasn’t great but at mile 4 I think I saw a 10:38 mile or something like that. My race brain took a while to calculate things but knew that an 11:25 pace would still get me under the 5 hour marathon. That was my new goal! It didn’t last very long. Even though I resorted to my affirmation question and also to something Sally said that I distilled down to “What if you knew this was your last time being able to do this? What would you do?” Even with all of that I still couldn’t push past everything..
Run nutrition didn’t go very well yet again. I had a plan but I started to stray from it around 5 miles. I tried different things that were available at the aid stations. Nothing went down very well, though at least it all stay down. When I was coughing or heaving, nothing came back up. I think the dry heaving I experienced was probably mostly caused by the dry air than from what I ate/drank. Anyway, I just didn’t get in enough calories. Another unsolved question: I ended up with very sore and very tired abs in spite of all the core training I’d done! How can that be?
I saw family and friends most memorably near the half way mark. Coincidentally I was running pretty well for much of that mile. It was great to see them at that moment and it gave me an energy boost. That didn’t last and again I slowed and sometimes walked.
Some of the running was closer to a shuffle and thanks to my shuffling I found an uneven sidewalk seam that was raised up maybe half an inch. I manage to trip and go down, falling onto my hip. There were 2 or 3 other runners right near me and a young woman quickly asked if I was okay. I was too tired and my mind was too fried to feel embarrassed. I looked up and said, “Yes,” even though I wasn’t quite sure. She then asked if she could help me up. I put my hand up and said, “Yes please” and she pulled me up. I was so grateful for her help and told her so. If she hadn’t helped me I don’t know how long I would have been there. During an Ironman run I’m unable to even bend down to retie a shoe by mile 4 or 5 let alone get up from the ground. Once up I gathered myself, assessed things, and started walking. I had some small abrasions, a little blood, and a hip bruise but nothing really hurt.
I carried on, undulating between feeling like I could run like I had in training and then feeling like I couldn’t run another step and had to walk. There were some moments where balance was a little off and I was asked more than once if I was okay. Eventually I finished, running, staggering, stumbling, and walking.
Favorite signs: “Your high school gym teacher would be so proud of you!” and “Stop reading signs and RUN!”
Finish line 140.6 miles – 13:19:21, 21st of 92
I ran the final ¾ mile to the finish line. I couldn’t wait to be done. A fellow athlete’s wife was volunteering in the finish area and “caught” me. We hugged and I was close to letting go of my emotions but realized I needed to find Linda first. She gave me my medal, shirt, and hat. We found Linda and I immediately went to her and hugged and cried with relief. Mom was next, then food (which I didn’t really want), then friends and sitting and telling stories, and finally gathering up equipment to take back to the van. We ended up at Dave’s BBQ 30 minutes before closing… terrible food idea! Too bad!
It was quite the day. I had lot’s of new experiences at this Ironman, even though it was #13. You never know what you’re going to get on the day and you don’t have control over a lot of that. I got on the “elevator” and it took me to lower level parking instead of the penthouse. I thought I would at least come out of this with less soreness because of my slower performance but that was a wrong and silly notion. 1 day after the finish I felt it just as much. My back also isn’t very happy and the body is tired and in need of a good recovery. So I truly did suffer out there, which is always a goal of mine.
In hindsight I went into this race knowing that I just needed to finish. I didn’t have true expectations that I would place under the circumstances. I also experimented with my training this summer and fall and was less prepared physically than ever before. Even though I have a long, consistently built base of endurance, that can only take me so far when it comes to my own peak performance. I know I’m capable of a faster race than this 13:19 finish but will I ever beat my best performance from 4 years ago? I don’t know. I don’t know yet if I’ve reached my triathlon peak. I certainly don’t want to believe that but I really won’t know until I’ve left no stone unturned and also know I’ve trained the best that I possibly can.
Now I need a break. I need some rest physically and mentally. Next year I have Ironman 70.3 Oceanside on the calendar in early April, which will keep me eligible for the Kona slot. If they don’t get to my name on the list for Kona in 2020 then I don’t plan to do a full 140.6 mile Ironman next year. In 2021 I’ll see where I am mentally and emotionally. I’m guessing that’s when the legacy slot will be awarded to me. I also age up to the 65 to 69 age group. Maybe that will be a chance to try to earn a Kona slot by winning a race. For now it’s just a dream, though. I’ve been striving for this goal of qualifying to race in the World Championships for 11 years now. The rewards have been many despite falling short 13 times. Finding motivation and using that to push my preparation is the key to my success. I’ll need a little break if I’m going to find that again.
I’m grateful for all the love, support, comments, and encouragement I always seem to receive from so many before, during, and after these races. I feel unworthy but I do always try to bring my best on race day. I just want to thank you all very much: Linda, Mom, and my friends who came all the way out to Arizona; family and friends who followed remotely; my Team Challenge family - it wouldn’t be the same without you all.

Ironman Arizona 2019 Race Plan

Ironman Arizona is Sunday. I'm so grateful to those who came out to spectate and support, and for the love and support I've gotten from afar. It will be my thirteenth and probably final Ironman until they tap me for Kona in another year or 2 (although I age up to the 65-69 age group in 2021!). I'm bib #877.
Here are some best and worst splits for reference:
2015 IMAZ – finish time 11:29 – Swim 1:01/ T1 5min23s / Bike 5:21 / T2 7min33s / Run 4:53
2018 IMAZ – finish time 12:37 – Swim 1:05 / T1 12min07s / Bike 5:45 / T2 6min24s / Run 5:28
Projected splits if the day goes well:
2019 IMAZ - 12:00 - Swim 1:05 / T1 10 min / Bike 5:45 / T2 5 min / Run 4:55
Race Plan (very long and detailed) only for those with a deep interest!...
Performance Goals
A Goal – finish (required to validate my Kona Legacy slot)
B Goal – 12:00:00 – Swim 1:05 / 1st Transition :10 / Bike 5:45 / 2nd T :05 / Run 4:55
Outcome Goals
A Goal – finish
B Goal – top 5 in my age group of 60-64 year old males
Process Goals
1)Mental: I will: Stay emotionally steady throughout for the entire race: calm but focused. Embrace the discomfort. Use my alter ego. Carry gratitude, joy, love, and strength in my heart
2)Swim: stay strong but relaxed and moderate, focusing on a solid pull and a relaxed kick, watch for swimmers passing who might be draftable.
3)T1: keep it smooth, flowing, and easy, running a 1/4 mile and going through the process, tuning out the excitement around me. Consider the temperature; don’t rush.
4)Bike: get comfortable and go through checklists during 1st miles out of town. Start early with taking frequent breaks from aero to stretch the back. It’s a race but control effort when deciding to pass others. Repeatedly think checklist: aero position, relax arms/shoulders, nutrition status, full pedal stroke, time for aero break?, correct effort?
5)T2: Follow the steps deliberately and efficiently. Portapotty stop if needed.
6)Run: Ease into the 1st mile, walking as needed. Walk break at each aid station (approx. each mile). Be smart on the hill. Shift into my alter ego for 2nd ½ of marathon.
7)Finish: Be strong, steady, in good form, and push, but FINISH
Experiential Goals
1)Represent my family and Team Challenge with pride, good sportsmanship, and in a positive light
2)Race with joy, gratitude, strength, and focus; SMILE
3)Embrace and enjoy the surroundings and fellow competitors
4)Thank and have fun with volunteers and spectators
*Turn in bike, and bike and run bags
*Relax, feet up, foam roll, back stretches, etc.
*Charge all electronics
• Eat late lunch, smoothies for dinner
• Lay out everything
• Blend breakfast smoothie
• Body marking; chip on; write with marker (Inspire, Gratitude, Stronger, TC Tri, Razorblade Slade Fire Up)
• Mental – affirmation, visualization
Race Morning:
3:30am Wake up
3:40 Bathroom; Drink breakfast smoothie (almond milk, vegan protein, UCAN, l-glutamine), eat ½ bagel; take antibiotic, probiotic.
3:50 Tri kit on; timing chip; body glide calves, arm pit/lat area; Sunscreen arms, shoulders, lower back, neck, face; Heart Rate monitor; wrist bands; last minute stuff; Bathroom; To Do Checklist; Pack car – nutrition, wetsuit, swim stuff,
4:15 Bathroom
4:20 Drive to venue and park
4:40 Swim band warm up
5:00-6:30 Transition open – set up transition:
Mat, towel, run stuff, bike stuff, nutrition
Bike ready: Garmin; aero bottle w/water & Tailwind; fill 40 oz. reservoir w/water, Tailwind; place nutrition; check tires, low gear.
Bento box: SaltStick Chews, tube with 2caff pills split, chamois creme; butt wipes, inner tube for pocket. Wash hands. Focus, visualize, relax, be grateful to be here
5:20 Portapotty; Wetsuit/speedsuit on, body glide (arm pit area, calves), goggles and cap; keep and carry water bottle BeatElite and cold bottle for pour over
6:00 Walk to race start; tubing, and clothes handoff
6:50 Swim Start
SWIM: Goal time 1:05
~Keys for Success (pacing, mental, technique/physical):
Early catch; “anchor” left arm
Easy 2 beat kick
Relaxed and strong
~Mental: “Strong and steady”
T1: Goal time :10
~Task List: get bag; dump bag, wetsuit in, goggles/cap off into bag, towel dry shirt and arms; put on: chamois butter, shoes, arm warmers, gloves, hand warmers, glasses, helmet on, drink, running mount on bike; Ride easy - it's not a sprint!
~Nutrition: water bottle with UCAN/Perfect Amino
~Mental: It’s a long run. Put on arm warmers, socks; drink small water with UCAN, and 5 Perfect Amino; running mount on bike
steady, calm, efficient
BIKE: Goal time 5:45
Keys for Success (pacing, mental, technique/physical):
*Get comfortable in saddle and run through checklist
*Checklist – relaxed arms/shoulders, back position and status, nutrition, pedal stroke, effort
*Frequent back stretches – stay ahead of pain
***Bento bag – lense wipe, nutrition, pill tube
*1st miles out of town is a WARM UP
*Hold back on first AND 2nd lap
*Resist the excitement
*Spin up the false flat, aero position, pedal down hills
*Stay alert to avoid drafting
*Sink into pads, head tucked, eyes rolled up “turtle view”
*Ride steady to run strong – heart rate below 123 (zone 2)
~Nutrition (250 to 300 cal/hr)
*Tailwind powder in 40oz frame reservoir and aerobottle – sip every 10min, chasing with water
*Clif Bloks – 3 sleeves, cut open (200 cal each)
*Caffeine starts at 56 miles
~Mental: take in the view; “Sh’ma Yisrael”; song: Hall of Fame by The Script
T2: Goal time :05
*Deliberate, thoughtful, measured effort. BREATHE
~Task list: shoes off before dismount, handoff bike, helmet off; gloves off, Aquaphor on toes, socks on, shoes on, hat on, race belt; Portapotty if needed
~Nutrition: 1 Shot Blocks, tabs bag in pocket (10 SaltStick Melts, 5 Amino tabs, 2 – 1/2 Caff tabs for 2nd loop), Hand-held water bottle with UCAN, amino, etc;
RUN: Goal time 4:23 (10:00/mi.)
*Resist the excitement - walk main hill and control heart rate – 116-126 (zone 2) early
*Walk aid stations; ice into hat
*Focus on: form and efficiency and ease
*Run on perceived effort but check heart rate and pace (take hills into account)
Nutrition (150 to 180cal/hour)
*Water and ice – drink 16-24 oz per hour as needed from aid stations
*UCAN bar – 1, cut open (180 cal)
*Clif Bloks – 1 sleeve (200cal)-1 block every mile
*Gu gels – 1 every ½ hour during 2nd ¼ of run
*Electrolytes – 1-2 Saltstick Melts every hour as needed
*Tums peppermint as needed
*Caff 1 tab – at 2nd loop
*Red Bull option during 2nd 1/2
~Mental: “What if Skip is stronger than he thinks?” Alter ego – Razorblade Slade; song: Hall of Fame by The Script
BOTTOM LINE: This race is about finishing to validate the legacy slot. Secondarily it’s about pushing limits, challenging myself to tolerate discomfort, and proudly representing Linda, my family, and Team Challenge.

20 October 2019

Where's Your Race Bib?!

Here’s the race report for Ironman 70.3 Arizona 2019. It’s long so feel free to move on by. 
#TCFamily #TeamChallenge #NoGutsKnowGlory #getsladed #DeSoto #IM703AZ #SheridanCycling 

First let me say that I had very low expectations for this bike course. If you look at the map it has 3 “laps” with multiple out-and-backs and MANY left, right, and U-turns so I expected it to be slow and crowded. It was none of these. They did a good job slowly putting us into the water at the start so that we were reasonably spread out on the bike course. I ended up LOVING the ride. It was constantly changing, had varied terrain, and had good scenery too. 

GOALS: Overall I had a successful day. I set what I thought were some realistic time goals, aka performance goals, for what I thought the course would present in the way of challenges, including weather conditions and course layout. 
The splits vs. goals: Swim :32:01 vs :33, T1 8:33 vs 7 min, Bike 2:51 vs 3:00, T2 4:15 vs 3min, and Run 2:09 vs 2:15 for a total time of 5:46 vs 5:58. For the outcome goal I hoped for a top 5 in the age group and I got 5th… barely. My process goals were mostly achieved as far as effort was concerned. Transitions were a bit shakey and nutrition was less than intended. (More on that later!) I executed the swim, bike and run pretty much as planned effort-wise. Experientially I was also pretty close to what I wanted to do. I interacted with volunteers and fellow racers quite a bit but didn’t see many kids actively spectating so no fist bumps or high fives. I did smile, was grateful to be out there, and hopefully represented everyone – family, TC family, and friends – positively. I didn’t go to my limit on the run because a hamstring didn’t feel 100% and I had in the back of my mind that Ironman Arizona was in 5 weeks so I didn’t want to come away injured.

THE DETAILS: I tried something different the day before. After a 2pm lunch, I had smoothies for dinner. The intention was to allow my GI system to "clear" earlier. It worked out very well.
The swim start was moved to the east end of the lake this year. For the 1st 17 min. they let one athlete go every 5 seconds. After that it was 2 athletes every 5 seconds. This was a self-seeded start and a much calmer lineup than I expected. I got to the start very early, did my warmup with the stretch cords, and waited for people to line up. You walked down the ramp that was the exit last year, got into the water, and do some multiple turns before heading west to the ramp they used for entry last year. My first step down the ramp onto sand caused my toes to cramp and I belly-flopped into the water. It took about 300 meters before the cramp let go and I was fine the rest of the way. It was a pretty calm swim start and I only bumped into 1 guy. Some slower people who wanted to start early got swum over I’m sure. Sighting was very easy. The water is “silty” – you can’t see past your hand – but I never swallowed any water. There were wetsuit strippers at the exit, which was great! The water was 71*f. so 95% wore wetsuits.

The run to transition was reportedly 300 meters. It seemed to go forever. There was a 3 ft. wide strip of carpet running the whole way so it was a fairly comfortable jog for the feet. I took too much time getting ready in transition. I got my usual stuff on but also put on the “cool wing” arm sleeves in anticipation of a hot ride. They are worth using but I would have been fine without them. I drank down a drink, grabbed my stuff, and ran to the mount line.

The ride, as I said, was fun. While some of the road was a little rough due to construction or “expansion bumps” due to the heat and sun, most of it was fine. I was never actually cold out there and never felt the heat. Admittedly I started relatively early. There were 2 aid stations on each lap, which made an unusually high 6 altogether. The best one to use is the one near the top of a short hill in Papago Park. Bikes are slowing anyway and there are 2 wide traffic lanes. It makes it easy. The U-turns can be dangerous if you don’t slow down. Same holds true for some of the 90* turns but most are wide turns that you can really line up on. You DO always have to be alert on this course, making decisions about gear choice, cornering, passing, controlling your effort, and so forth, but I think all of that makes it fun. As I finished the bike I hadn’t thought it through. Usually I take my feet out of my shoes and hope off at the dismount line to run barefoot from there. I did the same this time but BARELY got my feet out before I hit the line. I managed to get off very UNgracefully as my front wheel reached the line. My bad!

Ran into transition, racked my bike, and sat down to get my run stuff on. I had needed to go #1 for the final 30 min of the bike but my old man bladder held. As I put Aquaphor on my toes and put my socks and shoes on, I let it go, watering the grass. With my extra water bottle that I always bring to transition, I “hosed” myself off. I grabbed my nutrition, looked at what was left at my spot, and ran off to the run exit, proud of myself for multitasking and saving a minute in the portapotty. 

At run exit they said, “Where’s your bib? Go get your bib!” Rookie mistake! I hadn’t seen it and forgot to grab it. I ran the length of transition and found the race belt under my backpack, out of sight, grabbed it, and ran back. I had also screwed up my Garmin since I hadn’t practiced the night before in “triathlon” mode. Eventually, while running, I switched it to run mode but not until after the first mile! Oh well! Another mistake but no biggie in the scheme of things. I run mostly by feel and by heart rate so knowing my pace is more important to me after the race. During the race it’s nice to know pace if that keeps you motivated to push appropriately. Otherwise it can be a negative. 

The first mile or so was rough, but as expected, things improved. As I got going, I did worry a bit about the hamstring, which hadn’t been an issue during training, so I was restrained. I really began to feel pretty good around mile 5 or 6 and that lasted, more or less, to the end. Mom was pretty much in the same spot so I saw her 4 times during the race, giving her a wet (but not sweaty) hug at the halfway point. At aid stations I grabbed water, Red Bull, and ice on the course and carried Clif Bloks for nutrition. I have them pour ice in my hat that I then allow to melt and drip down my face and onto my arm coolers. I was comfortable the entire time. With about ¼ mile to go I removed the arm coolers for the finish line and did my best to finish strong and with a smile. Mom was there waiting at the finish line.

My nutrition feel well short of what was planned. I probably got in 650 calories on the bike and 4-500 on the run. While I felt hungry at times during the run (especially during the final mile) I by no means bonked, nor did I feel like I wanted  much more. I’m not sure this is a problem as long as I’m not slowing down (I didn’t) due to lack of fuel. I did negative split the ½ marathon so that tells me something. Maybe I’m more fat adapted metabolically speaking, than I think.

We went back for the awards ceremony so I could pick up the 5th place award. We purposely left before the 70.3 World Championships roll down. I think my age group had one slot anyway but traveling to New Zealand isn’t in the cards at the moment, though it’s on Linda’s and my wish list.

Would I do this race again? Heck yeah! It is well-run and has a course that is fun. The number of participants is a bit lower because they don’t want the bike course too congested. Be aware that it is usually a hot race but I highly recommend it if this sounds like your cup of tea!

I only did a partial taper for this race, knowing the Arizona full is 5 weeks away. I will recover for 2 or 3 days before easing back into training again before doing a “real” taper. I’m looking forward to Ironman #13 in Arizona and then I won’t do another full until I get called for the Kona Legacy slot OR I age up to 65 to 69 age group. At least that’s the plan for now.

The morning started off with an unexpected road closure. Our usual route was blocked for the race course. We went down 2 exits, got lost, returned to the freeway, and found that the eastbound offramp wasn’t closed. We managed to get our usual spot with more ease than usual! It did throw my game off because I though my time schedule was very critical. Losing that 15 minutes turned out to be no big deal! It for sure would be a problem if it happens at Ironman AZ in November.
I saw Mom twice on each loop of the bike. And thanks to my bike computer it let’s me know when it pairs with my cell phone. Since Mom had my phone it let me know every time just before I went past here!
Odd things I saw on the ride: 1) a credit card laying in the bike lane and 2) an unopened piece of mailing laying in the street.
Best sign I saw: Swim – don’t drown, Bike – don’t crash, Run – don’t trip!
Thank you John Sheridan for having my bike in top-notch shape. It worked flawlessly!
Thank you Dave Borys, Steve Brooks, and Chris Thomas for sharing you knowledge about the course.
Thank you to all those who followed my progress on race day.
Thank you MOM for accompanying me on this latest triathlon adventure. You were a great Sherpa and excellent supporter. I love you!
And finally, thank you LINDA for you endless love, support, and encouragement. And thank you for picking up the slack and coaching Team Challenge on your own while I was away having fun!

19 October 2019

Ironman 70.3 Arizona 2019 Race Plan

Ironman 70.3 Arizona 2019 Race Plan – October 19

Outcome Goals:
A Goal– age group top 5
B Goal– finish!
Performance Goals:
Silverman 2015 splits – 6:11:30– :35 (1:49/100m / 5min34s / 3:08 (17.80mph) / 5min12s / 2:16 (10:26/mi)
A Goal– 5:58 – splits – Swim :33 / T1 7min / Bike 3:00 / T2 3min / Run 2:15
B Goal– finish before the cutoffs
Process Goal:
  • Mental: I will be emotionally "even" for the entire race, not allowing anything to get me too up or too down. I will be focused on racing. I will carry gratitude, joy, love, and strength in my heart 
  • Swim: I will start strong but relaxed and settle in, draft where possible, anchor left hand
  • Bike: I will start easy-ish; keep heart rate in zone 2, allowing CONTROLLED power spikes out of turns and on hills
  • Bike: I will cycle thru my mental check list – relax shoulders; shift hand positions; use full pedal stroke; take in nutrition/hydration (early and often); pick my lines with safety priority; ask “Will this set me up for a good run?”
  • Run: I will resist my early excitement. I will take walk breaks at every aid station and get plenty of ice and water to manage core temp; 5+ times every mile go thru mental checklist – back and shoulders relaxed, straight waist w/lean, take in nutrition/hydration, “Can I do this pace on the 2ndlap?”
  • I will finish strong and hard.
Experiential Goals: 
  • I will represent my family and Team Challenge with pride, good sportsmanship, and in a positive light
  • I will race with joy, with gratitude, with an open heart.
  • I will have fun with spectators, smile, and thank volunteers.
  • I will race hard and test my limits under the conditions of the day.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Race Week:
· Plenty of sleep – 7.5hrs minimum
· Daily quiet time: gather mental energy, visualize race, mini meditations, affirmation questions.
· No caffeine for final 3 weeks
· Minimize stress and avoid negative people
· Keep fiber consumption low beginning Saturday 
FRIDAY: Check-in before 6:00, Briefing 5:00pm; Hyatt Place; charge bike devices
SATURDAY: Dryland Swim, Bike, Run; Bike turn-in ~11:00am; meet with Tony; (extra briefings @12 & 2); Drive different bike course sections; relax; mess with Garmin
  • Eat late lunch, smoothies for dinner
  • Lay out everything
  • Blend breakfast smoothie
  • Shave; apply tattoos; body marking; chip on; write with marker (Joy, Gratitude, Open Heart, TC Tri, Razorblade Slade Fire Up)
  • Mental – affirmation, visualization
Race Morning:
3:30am Wake up
3:31 Bathroom; Drink breakfast smoothie (almond milk, vegan protein, UCAN, l-glutamine), eat ½ bagel; take antibiotic, probiotic.
3:50 Tri kit on; timing chip; body glide calves, arm pit/lat area; Sunscreen arms, shoulders, lower back, neck, face; Heart Rate monitor; wrist bands; last minute stuff; Bathroom; checklist;Pack car – nutrition, wetsuit/speedsuit, swim stuff, pump
4:15 Bathroom
4:20 Drive to venue and park
4:40 Swim band warm up
5:00-6:20 Transition open – set up transition:
Mat, towel, run stuff, bike stuff, nutrition
Bike ready: Garmin; aero bottle w/water & Tailwind; fill 40 oz. reservoir w/water, Tailwind; place nutrition; check tires, low gear.
Bento box: SaltStick Chews, tube with 2caff pills split, chamois creme; butt wipes, inner tube for pocket. Wash hands. Focus, visualize, relax, be grateful to be here
5:20 Portapotty; Wetsuit/speedsuit on, body glide (arm pit area, calves), goggles and cap; keep and carry water bottle BeatElite and cold bottle for pour over
6:00 Walk to race start w/Mom; pump, tubing, and clothes handoff
6:20 Swim Start (2 at a time, 5 sec apart)

SWIMGoal: :33
Race Plan for Success:
- Find clear water quickly; find someone to draft behind
- Steady, sustainable effort – even-paced
Technique Focus:
Early catch; “anchor” left arm
Easy 2 beat kick
Relaxed and strong
"Strong and steady"

T1 (Transition1):Goal :07 
It’s a long run. Put on cool wings, no socks; drink small water with UCAN, swallow 5 Perfect Amino, 300mg caffeine; running mount on bike

BIKEGoal:3:00 – It's not a sprint! Ride steady to run strong
Race Plan for Success:
-Monitor HeartRate - keep below 130; early on in low 120’s MAX
-Monitor Power – keep 200 or below except to pass or out of corners (but don’t burn matches)
-Resist the excitement, shift gears often, spin up the hills, pedal down hills, caution on turns (live to race IMAZ in 5 weeks)
-Stay alert to avoid drafting
-Take water at all aid stations to spray arms, head, back
-Head check top down: Aero position when appropriate, hand position, relax & stretch neck and shoulders, hydration/nutrition, breathing, flat back, stretch back, full pedal stroke
-Calories (fuel for the run!) ~900; Hydration – bottle from aid stations every ½ hour may not be enough – start early
-Bento Bag – 1/2 sleeve Clif Bloks pkg (100cal), lense wipe, SaltStick chews, pill container
-Speedfil frame reservoir (600cal/40oz) – prefilled on race morning with 3 Tailwind, 3 Fuel5, and water
-Electrolytes – in Tailwind; carry SaltStick chews for back up
-First aerobottle filled with 2 scoop Tailwind and 1 cap of SaltStick. Add water from aid stations. Refill as ride progresses
-In pill container – 1 Caff tab
-In pocket – extra inner tube, Aquaphor

Technique Focus:
Relax shoulders
Relax into elbow pads when aero
Stretch neck and back early and often

“First loop is a warm-up.”

T2:Goal :03
Shoes off at dismount, helmet & sunglasses off
Aquaphor on toes, socks on, shoes on; hat on, race belt on while leaving.
In pockets: 2 Clif Bloks sleeves cut open, WetOnes, SaltStick Chews, Tums
Carry bottle with water & UCAN bar - take 5 Perfect Amino and 200mg caffeine; 

RUN Goal:2:15
Race Plan for Success:
-Managing core body temp is #1 priority
-Resist the excitement - control heart rate - low 120's early, low 130's in later miles
-Walk aid stations to get calories, water, and ice
-Focus on form and efficiency and ease 
-Start at easy pace, holding back until later
-Calories = 150-180/hour
-Water and ice – drink UP TO 30oz per hour as needed from aid stations. 
-Clif Bloks - take in 1 sleeve/hour (200cal)/1 block every 1 mile starting around mile 2 or 3
-Electrolytes – included in Clif Bloks; carry caffeine, SaltStick chews for back up
-Tums peppermint as needed – carry 
-Base pace on Heart Rate and perceived effort, NOT mile pace – even split or descend

 “Hall of Fame” by “What would it feel like to run with grace, with speed, and with pure joy?”
"Easy, then light, then effortless"
"What if I let go of my limitations and be a far greater athlete than I ever imagined?”
“What have I decided is not possible that truly is possible?”

Race to test limits, push my body, challenging myself, and proudly representing Team Challenge, “my” athletes, and my Linda, keeping Ironman Arizona in mind as the priority.