As promised, I haven't vanished into another seemingly endless "sabattical" from posting. Actually, quite the contrary. I've been actively training and working on getting back into shape.
I've been posting my Training Peaks logs for daily workouts on my Facebook account. That provides some amount of accountability and tracking.
In the past 28 days I've logged 4 hours 40 minutes in the pool, completing nearly 11K yards. Pokey, but progress. That's in addition to the 9 hours spent covering 56 miles running. Since that was over the holidays, during which I managed to actually lose another quarter pound, I'm happy with it.
All totaled, I'm down about 15 pounds since I got back at it, and have another 7-10 pounds to go. That will get me into the proper weight range for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon and whatever I decide to pursue for the summer.
If you DO follow me on Facebook, you might find the post on my main page regarding my New Years' resolution. For each like on that post, I will be completing one mile of swimming, 47 miles of biking, and 11 miles of running. Basically, for every 24 likes, I will complete training equal to 10 Ironman races. So far, I have nine likes. That's 9 miles swimming, 423 miles on the bike, and 100 miles running. Let me know if you think that isn't enough.
Finally, the new Saucony Omni running shoes have been almost perfect. They have addressed both the tarsal tunnel (numbness) and stress issues. There were some minor knee issues, but some gait correction and strength exercises have helped with that.
So things are moving along nicely. All I need to do, now, is get the trainer set back up in the basement, and I'll be back to training in all three disciplines.
An alternative title could be "Heavy Lifting" as I try to get a wide variety of things back off the ground. Things like this blog, my endurance career, my butt off the couch...
Let's start with the excuses so we can get them out of the way. After breaking my foot a bit over a year ago, I was diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome. Basically carpal tunnel syndrome, but in my foot. The impact of running leads to inflammation of the nerve sheath in my foot and my toes go numb.
Outside of surgery, the most effective solution I've found to this issue is barefoot running. Only that has led to the issues with stress on the arch of my foot, likely related back to the original fracture.
Blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses. With the injuries, I allowed other parts of life to get in the way and presto, I'm not too far off of where I was when this whole journey started.
An out-of-shape former sailor...
A couple things have occurred, recently, to provide the sort of swift kick to the head needed to jar things loose.
First, the 2012 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak and former schoolmate Greg Henneman (aka Perseverance Runner) throw down the challenge to run at least one mile each day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Add in the incentive of charity giving with "penalties" for missed days and you have a strong motivator to run.
All of that got me thinking back to a discussion I had on the phone with Scott Rigsby. Yes, that Scott Rigsby. He and I were discussing an idea I had about raising funds for a friend who lost his leg to illness. I had grand plans to run a triple marathon as a way to raise funds to help that friend purchase a running leg.
Scott brought me back to earth. He pointed out that me running 80 miles wouldn't make that guy go run. If my friend were truly married to the idea of running, he'd be doing everything he could to get and stay fit, then pounding down doors to get sponsors. If unable to run, he'd be swimming. He'd be using his good leg to pedal a bike. He wouldn't be looking for ways to make everything "perfect" THEN start running.
It was that last bit that struck me recently. I have lingering injuries. Injuries that are likely to be chronic reminders that I'm getting old. Injuries that make running a challenge. And Scott Rigsby lost both legs and went on to complete Ironman.
It makes my worries about numb toes and bit underwhelming.
I'm going to run every day between now and New Years, or pay an extra dollar to charity for the failure. In January, I'm going to get my feet wet, again, by swimming every day of the month. And I'm going to keep running while I do it. Once open, I'm going to register for a series of races designed to force me to remain active, or at least pay a heavy price for failing to do so.
I don't promise to take this site back to "every day" posting. I will, however, try to post weekly summaries of the workouts and get the rest of the site back into some semblance of sanity.
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.
What's that they say about the road to hell?
Last week was a pretty tough week, but I did manage to get some solid training completed, and I feel pretty good about the numbers. Since posting my "accountability" picture a week ago, here is how things shake out:
1500 yd swim and 5K run on Wednesday
One yard mowed on Thursday (I called it 30 minutes walking)
80 mile bike on Saturday
Another yard mowed on Sunday (You're welcome, Dad)
10 mile run, this morning
Not perfect, but that discussion leaves out the time spent cleaning out my basement which suffered some water damage on Wednesday, courtesy of some odd circumstances involving two inches of rain in an hour, overflowing gutters, and water running down a wall.
Tuesday and Thursday will be swims, with another run and bike on Wednesday. Saturday will be the last big workout prior to attempting my self-supported Ironman on September 5th. I'll try to tackle a 5000 yard swim followed by about 110 miles on the bike and a short run-off.
Somewhere along the line I have to use some new tools at my disposal to create a new header for the site and use some real tools to finish stripping and refinishing a bookcase. Just for giggles, I'll use my spare time to learn a new song on the guitar. After all, if you're going to do it, why not overdo it.
It's a good thing this is a blog and not a business letter. Because I'm about to break a key rule and cover several topics in one post. If you get lost, don't worry. I promise to try and be less erratic on the next post. Of course, note the political way in which I put that. "Try and be less erratic."
Okay, first to the promised photo and training details. The photo at the left is about as embarrassing a picture as I'm willing to post. This is where I'm at, now. I've gained about 20 pounds, thrown the 34" pants into the closet, and hope I don't have to break the 38" pants back out. In a word, I failed to get the calorie intake under control when I had to back off on training. So, it's time to ramp the training up while getting the diet back where it should be.
The good news is that my fitness remains high. Since taking a month off after laying my bike down, I've managed an 82-mile bike and a 2.5 mile swim. Neither was as easy as perhaps I'd like them to be, but both were completed with relatively few issues. (Getting lost doesn't count, as it was on the bike. If I get lost in the pool, I'll let you know.)
Training time should be easier to come by in the coming weeks. The youth in the Brigade Triathlon Club completed their first race on Sunday, August 8th. All three were first time triathletes, and all provided one or more surprises during the day. We were concerned they might never get into the water as there was thunder and lightning as close as 35 minutes before the start, but a short delay under clearing skies allowed them to race.
With the race completed, the time dedicated to coaching will now go to training.
Finally, I once again witnessed the strong sense of community that thrives in triathletes. I only wish those who look on endurance athletes as a disruption to their schedule could have been at the park.
Shortly after all three of the kids showed up, I heard an announcement that the race staff needed a helmet for a racer who had forgotten his. With three kids racing, I had every possible piece of gear with me, including two helmets that weren't needed. I ran over to the announcer and handed the guy my helmet, only asking that he drop it off at the finish when he was done. I didn't worry about his name or bib number. To be honest, I didn't even think about it.
After the race, I was heading to my car when I remembered the helmet. I stopped by the announcer at the finish line, and there it was. I picked it up and a handmade envelope fell out of it. Inside was $5 and a note thanking me for the use of the helmet. It was signed, "The happy triathlete." He asked that I grab myself a drink by way of thanks.
It was fitting, as I was getting hungry by that time. I picked up some pretzels and a Gatorade and had a bit left over. It worked out pretty well.
Driving home, I thought about it. Imagine a community where someone can reasonably expect that a request for gear will be answered. Imagine a community where people hearing such a request will actively try to help. And imagine a community where people are so truly grateful for that help that they go out of their way to express their thanks.
That's the way I see the triathlon community. Countless times I've witness people assist others in ways big and small. It's great to watch. And it's great to be part of it.
Okay, it feels like I'm stuck in the mud. Instead of moving forward, I'm sliding backward. So, it's accountability time. Here's how that's going to work.
Tomorrow, I will post a horribly embarrassing "in between" picture. Why "in between" you ask? Well, it's not really a "before" picture because that would have been years ago, and I haven't slid THAT far back. But it's definitely not the "after" picture. If anything, my pictures from Ironman Louisville would have been the after picture.
Those with weak stomachs and those with a desire to keep their eyeballs might want to avoid looking at the picture.
Once the "in between" picture is posted, I will start posting honest to goodness training goals and updates. I will also continue to embarrass myself once a week with additional "in-between" pictures. I will do what it takes to get back into the shape I want to be in, and properly document the journey, this time.
And somewhere along the line, I'm going to find the means to enter another Ironman. Just don't tell my wife.
Last year, I was awful quiet because I wasn't training and I didn't have anything major in the works. This year, I've been buried and awfully busy with training and all things triathlon.
The most obvious outward sign of the increased training is that I find myself absolutely wore out a great deal of the time, in a good way. I spent so long working on the house and doing other things that late nights became all too common. Now, I'm getting back to where I'd really like to be asleep by about 8:30 or 9:00. When I find myself in bed earlier than all the old geezers I know, I'll know I'm completely back on track.
I've been VERY busy with the Boys' and Girls' Brigade. There will be a bit of a break as the winter program ends and we shift to the summer schedule. The great news is that our Youth Tri Club is on track to crush all previous years. With four being the most participants we've had in the past, we currently have 43 7-12th graders who have expressed an interest in training for and completing a triathlon this year, two in the olympic distance event. And at least one who indicated he can't swim.
If half of them show up, I'll be in trouble in a good way. Luckily, a half-dozen adult leaders and coaches have offered their help. I'll need it.
In addition, I have a new "kit" from the Fox Cities Triathlon Club. Chad has participated in triathlon in the past, and has his sight set on completing the half-iron distance race in June. As always, it's exciting to share my experiences and help another person reach their training goal. And with him racing the half, there's a much greater chance I'll see him somewhere on the race course. Probably when he blows by me.
So, I continue to focus on my training, and continue to neglect my blog. I guess that's better than keeping the blog updated daily while letting my training tank.
I'm still around, and I'm still going.
BTW, the mIronman self-supported race is still in the works. We've identified the swim course, and continue to discuss the bike and run routes. Tri Fox support has been incredible, and it looks like we'll have a handful of competitors.
After two sick kids wiped out several days of training, I hit the track for a mid-week sort of long run this morning. After pounding out a quick (slow) 10K, I decided to do a bit of strength training in the form of plyometrics.
Now, I'm well aware of the benefits of plyometrics. And I want those benefits. But does it have to be so painful? Really, I did four laps, totalling just under a half-mile. Each lap consisted of two sets of 20 steps of plyometrics. The first four sets were deep knee lunges. The second four sets were bounding.
Now, I can barely walk. Honestly. What is that all about?
The worst part was the final sets of the deep knee lunges. It became a lesson in pushing myself past the "WHY-O-WHY am I doing this? Certainly a 10K run is enough!"
Of course, that's what I find myself saying every time I work on strength training. I really have to stop reading the articles that tout the benefits of strength training and call out those who try to logic their way out of doing it.
Then I could go about my training, happily ignoring strength training.
But Noooooo. I love to read. Even old Triathlete Magazine articles. So, I do the plyometrics and wonder why.
I so better see benefits when I run the marathon in May.
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.
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.