It's amazing how big an impact life can have on training. A third child. A busy schedule. A busted up foot. And months of no training.
Fortunately, I wasn't raised to make excuses. I trained for and completed an Ironman with two children. I've always had a bush schedule. I've dealt with injuries. It took a while, but I hit that point of absolutely HAVING to get back at it. And back at it hard.
It's ironic that last Saturday I made the decision that training had to once again become a priority in my life. Because on Monday I was on the phone to discuss options for helping a friend who had a leg amputated after some medical challenges. Who do you call when you need to discuss training by amputees?
Scott Rigsby, of course.
I had the opportunity to meet Scott at a meeting of the Fox Cities Triathlon Club. I was able to contact him and then get together on the phone. One point that Scott stressed repeatedly was that MY excitement about getting my friend running didn't matter. MY plans were nearly irrelevant. If the lifestyle wasn't there, nothing I did would last.
Basically, if physical fitness wasn't already a priority, simply finding a way to get a running leg wouldn't suddenly make it a priority. "What is he doing, now," was the recurring question. That led me back to myself.
I have a new baby. So why not ride on the trainer?
I have a busy schedule. So why not combine training with other events?
I have a banged up foot. So why not get into the pool, where the foot doesn't matter?
That was the decision I made, Saturday. My kids are asleep at 4:30 in the morning. My schedule is usually pretty open. And I don't have to worry about a sore foot when swimming.
September is going to have one focus. Swim. Every day possible. And even a few of those that aren't possible.
In 30 days, we'll figure out where to go from there.
If there's anything I'm worse at then swimming, it's doing math while swimming. Apparently I leave my accounting skills at the door to the pool.
I was undecided about this morning's workout as I was in the pool both Sunday and Monday. While I wasn't concerned about three days in the pool in a row, I didn't have a workout in my head. I sat on the pool deck trying to decide what might motivate me and decided to do 400s.
After a quick 200 yard warmup, I started with 8x50 fast. Well, fast for me. I then threw in 400 easy (which will become a factor, later). After the 400 easy, I did 4x100 with the first and last 25 easy and the middle 50 all out. Somewhere around there, I started forgetting what I'd already done, as well as the total distance. I did 2x200 to recover from all of the fast 50s, then tried to figure out of I was at 1200 or 1400. I calculated it must be 1400, so pushed myself to do 600 yards to finish. I did 400 easy, then cooled down with a final 200 yards to round out the 2000 yard session.
I was a put demoralized with my total time of 1:01 in the pool. Even accounting for rest intervals, that's a bit slower than I'd like to see after my recent form and pace focus.
Of course, if your math during reading is any better than my math in the pool, you will have already found my math to be a bit fuzzy. Five 400 yard sets plus 400 warm up and cool down doesn't equal 2000 yards. Yeah, it was that easy 400 I did between the 50s and the 100s that I completely forgot about. So, the point at which I pushed myself to finish out with 600 total yards SHOULD HAVE been the point where I said, "Gee, now is a great time to cool down."
Still, an extra 400 yards means I am much happier with my time.
First, allow me apologize to anyone who had a heart attack after seeing two posts in the same week. I really don't want any of the three of you to come to harm.
Today's workout was reminiscent of the final showdown in "The Princess Bride." That's where Westley (or, if you prefer, the Dread Pirate Roberts) challenges Prince Humperdinck to a duel "to the pain." Though there was no swordplay, and not much of a duel, the "to the pain" part was in play.
My focus for the past several weeks has been improving my pace, mostly through workouts consisting primarily of 100s. Today, I decided to do sets of 100 yards on 2:20 seconds until failing to stay under two minutes for two consecutive sets. My tenth set was 2:01, but I managed to get back under that on the next set, guaranteeing at least another couple hundred yards. In the end, I managed 1400 yards before finishing.
With that under my belt, it's probably time to think about a 1000 yard time trial to benchmark things. It's probably also time to think about more drill sets to help improve my form. After all, there's a race season just around the corner.
And this year, I won't be wiping myself out in the first race. There's a self-supported Ironman to be completed in September.
The past few weeks have been dedicated to getting back into the swing of things, training wise. Brilliant idea, trying to jump start training over the holidays. Does anyone care to guess if I hit all my workouts?
There was, however, a positive side. The high-tech (cheap) body fat scale says (guesses) my weight today is the same 186 it was before the holidays. If I can make it through Christmas and New Year without significant gains, I'll call it good. Of course, the scale could just be lying to me. I wouldn't put it past it.
I've been working on base runs and swims. In the pool, my main goal has been to remember that I DO know how to swim. Some of the people who swim with me might disagree. And they might be right.
Up until today, I've stayed in my lane. I tend to take the "Medium" lane, as I am somewhere above "trying to avoid drowning" and well below "Flipper." Most workouts have focused on 100 yard repeats, typically 10 sets. Pace? Let's not talk about that.
Today, I hit the pool for a short workout after a 5K run. After all, I didn't want to overdo the running thing. So, I headed to the pool and checked things out. Water aerobics day, and you know they HAVE to take up one of the swim lanes. Of the two left, I had to pick between uber-slow and hella fast. The two in the slow lane were on seriously different paces, so I ruled that out. That left Ms. Speedy Dolphin and the guy sucking up her wake.
I jumped in with them. After all, I was only looking at maybe 500 yards. They wouldn't pass me too many times in that distance.
Turns out they were doing 100s with 10 second rest intervals. Well, 10 seconds for the guy. Ms. Speedy Dolphin got more like 20-30 seconds. So, I jumped in with them. Who needs rest intervals?
I did the first 100 no problem. In fact, it was awesome. I swam something like 1:44. I know that's nothing amazing for all you fish out there, perhaps even a bit pokey. But for us 2+/100 swimmers, that's pretty fast.
The second 100 was a bit more annoying. It was even faster (1:42), but I noticed water squishing through my ear plug. Yes, it squished. It's my ear and I say it squished. After the set, I attempted to get a better seal, though I should have known better. It's always been pointless to try.
The next 100 was more like 50. Okay, it was exactly 50, but in a pretty good time of 50 seconds (shut up, that's fast). Buttttttt, and it was a huge butt, my ear plug was completely useless and I had water gleefully leaking into my inner ear. Really. I heard it going "Wheeeee!" as it went through the holes in my ear drum.
I hopped out of the pool, ran into the locker room, tried (in vain) to get water OUT of my ear, and popped in a new ear plug. I took the pack with me, just in case.
I jumped back into the rotation at a convenient point, and banged out four more 100s, all under 1:45. Then, they switched to 50s. Since I had already done 650 yards of a planned 500 yard cool down, I decided to only do two 50s with them, just to see how it went. The first was great. The second? Let's not talk about it.
Needless to say, I decided that was a good time to stop, so I went to the hot tub. NOBODY laps me in a hot tub.
I was a bit dejected when I got out of the pool, as I somehow deleted the swim set from my watch. I was REALLY dejected when I got to work and realized that I had somehow deleted both the swim set AND my run set. I remembered the time for the swim. The run? I just guessed. It felt fast, so I went with a bit slower than my last 5K run on the track.
But who cares about the run? I managed to hang with the dolphins without drowning or dying. That's gotta count for something.
For anyone who hasn't checked, they DO still have water in the pool at the local YMCA. I checked, this morning. It's been so long since I did a swim workout there was the distinct possibility the water had all evaporated.
No. Really. It's been that long.
My last swim was the 1.2 miles of the High Cliff Half-Ironman. In June. Seriously.
I decided if I was going to keep calling myself a triathlete, I should probably start doing some swimming. It might also be time to pull the bike down off the ceiling of the garage and throw it on the trainer. To be fair, I have ridden since the half-Ironman. Honestly.
There are some out there who take a bit of time off, say 14-16 months, after a race before they get back in the pool. After an extended break, they get back in the pool and find their pace has slowed by a few seconds, all the way back to 1:30-1:35 per 100 yards. Getting back into the pool is like getting back onto a bike. No big deal.
For me, getting back into the pool is more like falling off the bike. I can do it, but it's not pretty.
Today was little different. I kept it easy and only did 1500 yards, including 500 yards of fin drills focused on improving my core rotation. I figure if I'm essentially starting over, now might be a good time to work on bilateral breathing.
I'm sure I'll be feeling the results of the workout tomorrow. Or tonight. Or after lunch. Okay, I'm feeling it, now, and will surely hate myself later. Or now.
It's okay, though. My body survived the first winter learning to swim, and I'm way ahead of THAT particular disaster. January is when I will dig out the training plan I used for Ironman (from the awesome Coach Mike Ricci). Coach Mike routinely pointed out that I'm a runner and I can hold my own on the bike. My weakness is the swim, so that's what he focused on when putting together the training plan.
Well, little has changed. Even undertrained I can put down 50 miles in a single run. The bike will fall into place once I decide to get back on it. But the swim...
So, for the next several months, that's what I'll be working on improving. And when spring gets here, I'll work on it some more. I'll continue to work on it during the summer. And, hopefully, when September gets here, I'll be ready to swim 2.4 miles as part of mIronman, my self-supported 140.6 mile event.
Stick around. Once again, there is the very real possibility I'll drown myself between now and April.
But they WERE flip-turns. And no, this isn't an April Fools' Post.
Going into the Fall 50, I knew there would be a certain amount of pain associated with finishing. I just didn't realize the worst of it would come some five weeks after the race.
Part of the B-Fit B-Day challenge is to swim the first digit in your age, in miles. Turning 40 this year means I must swim four miles to meet the challenge. Since my goal is the gold, I must accomplish the swim within a 24-hour period. Tuesday provided a reminder of just what that will take.
Mrs. Pol had a conference to attend, that day, so I took the day off to watch the kids. Her schedule left me with a considerably more training time than normal, and I put it to good use. I got about 30 minutes extra sleep in the morning, and hit the pool for a planned 4000 yard swim.
While motivated for the workout, I wasn't feeling very creative. I decided to do a 2000 yard warm-up followed by a 2000 yard cool-down. I took a few minutes between sets to chat with some fellow Tri Foxes. In all, it took about 83 minutes to complete the swim.
I'm proud of this for a couple reasons. First, it means that without the pressure of an Ironman, I have at least maintained my swim fitness from last year. My swim time (#1675) at Ironman Louisville was 1:31. I'm guessing that if I'd gone the full 4224 yards without a break, my time Tuesday would have been very close to that.
Second, I'm always proud when I can pound out major swims. Granted, it falls way short of what many dedicated swimmers accomplish, but it's pretty major, for me. And given my disdain of swimming, any time I spend 90 minutes in the water is worth mentioning.
As I mentioned, Tuesday was also a reminder of what is coming. Perhaps "warning" is more accurate. With the birthday challenge on the horizon, I have to be ready to swim a minimum of 6600 yards. That's a bit better than an Ironman swim followed by a half-IM swim. I think I've mentioned before that it's also 1600 yards more than I've ever gone before.
So, it's one of those "good news, bad news" stories. It's great to see I've been maintaining my fitness at a pretty decent level. It's frightening to think about how I might feel after pounding out 6600+ yards in a single day.
Oh well, shoulders are overrated.
Saturday posed quite a quandary when it came to training with the tri club kids. Since the Pol clan traveled Friday to camp with others at our churches tree farm, I decided to drive a second (and more fuel efficient) vehicle to drive back to town Saturday morning. The trip back to the camp site would be by Pol-R Express.
Preparing for major endurance events always takes planning. Sometimes, juggling training for different events takes nearly as much planning as developing the actual workouts. That's where I find myself, at the moment.
After the marathon on May 18th, I have three key events in the works. The Spirit of Racine half-Ironman is probably the least worrisome of the three. For the most part, training for the other two will more than cover the training required for a half-Ironman, though I'll have to ensure I log enough mileage on the bike. I do want to beat my half-IM PR, so there is some amount of pressure.
Oddly enough, the 50 miler I hope to enter only warrants second place in the "concerned" pile. Now, don't take that to mean I'm not concerned. The prospect of training for than running 50 miles is huge. Balancing the training for a half-IM PR with the long, slow runs required for a ultramarathon will make for some interesting training weeks.The biggest challenges is going to be balancing the training for a half-IM PR and a 50-miler while fitting the swim training required to complete the B-Fit B-Day challenge. While the 40 mile bike and 10 mile run will be relatively minor compared to other events, the swim has the potential to make the rest of the day challenging. Four miles. That's 6600 yards if we use a "swimmer's" mile.
Okay, time for a brief aside. Who came up with the "swimmer's" mile. Someone told me it was to make sure we end up at an end of the pool instead of the middle. Okay, then why not 1750 yards (or 1800 if we want to be sadistic)? I understand the mile (1760 yards) and the nautical mile (2000 yards). I can comprehend meters. It's the swimmers mile that gets me. Anyone? Bueller?
So, 6600 yards, or 7000 if I want to use regular miles. Considering that's nearly a mile further than the longest swim I've ever accomplished, that's huge. (Okay, I'll admit that a 50 miler is nearly twice as far as my longest ever run. For me, running is easier.) It took an Ironman to get me up to 5000 yards, and this is pretty much like adding a normal workout on top of the longest swim I've ever done. No small feat.
That's a lot of training to juggle. And a lot of swimming. I feel waterlogged after this week, and I've only logged 7600 yards in the pool, this week. I'll log near that in a single swim the day I tackle the B-Fit B-day challenge. I guess I'll be spending a lot more time wet in the next couple months.
By the way, the last few paragraphs go out the window if our tri club decides to swim across Lake Winnebago. That will be a swim of about 6.5 miles. If I make that swim, the four miles for the birthday challenge will somehow seem less an issue. Still challenging, but shorter.
Just who is this Iron Pol?
A former out of shape sailor, who became a marathoner, then a triathlete, Ironman, and ultramarathoner. Now, life has pushed me into short track speed skating. More important than the titles is the lifestyle, and sharing it with others.