Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Your Mark... Get Set...

Almost Go! This weekend marks the end of my off season and the beginning of the training year. I'll have to say it's been a good few months off. I did a little bit of running, a little spinning, no swimming, and not one single regret.

It's strange reading some of my friend's stories and not feeling jealous. They jumped right into some early 2011 races which means they've been training for at least a month now. While a piece of me is jealous, I know for certain that I made the right choice by staying away from training.

During the work out season, many of the things in my life take a seat on the shelf because time is not a luxury. There are just too many things to get done an not enough time to do it. That means sacrifices and compromises need to be made. While there's a lot of that going on the one thing I don't sacrifice is my training. Since training takes up so much of my non-work hours, I need to fill the remainder of my non-work hours with chores like house cleaning, laundry, cooking, and other errands. A direct result of this is a lot of things I'd otherwise love to do don't get done: reading a book, simply relaxing playing a crossword puzzle, watching TV, eating junk food, etc.

As a rule I've decided to take most of the months of October, November and December off from training in order to catch up on life and recharge my mind and soul. Just like we need time away from work or school we also need time away from training.

This time away from training was particularly necessary because I just finished training for and completing Ironman Wisconsin. While it was a monumentous event and a great experience all the way around, it consumed my life for roughly 9 months. In that time that's all I did. It's all I thought about. My world revolved around it. And after 9 months of Ironman I can safely say it caused my world to crash and burn. I was as excited to be done with Ironman as I was to do it. Once the race was over I dropped exercising like the ball and chain it had become and refocused my life.

Over the past few months I refocused on my work, my relationship and my junk food eating. And I'm confident that this time off was a success. I'm happier, less healthy, more fat and, most importantly, ready to start training again. The thought of jumping into a pool or hitting the trails running or biking doesn't make me sick to my stomach any more. In fact, it sound exhilarating. I can't wait to jump into a spin class early in the morning. I'm really looking forward to being stuck in a 25 yard lap lane pool. And it sounds fantastic to start running with CARA for my winter trainings.

I'm ready to be back and ready to train.

So far I've gotten into all the races I've aimed to get into and at the beginning of the year will sign up for the last few I want to do. On the calendar I've got:
  • Illinois Marathon
  • Flying Pig Marathon
  • Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon

and in the queue is
  • Breakwater Triathlon and
  • Door County Triathlon.

The marathons fall on April 30 and May 1, respectively. I've then got one month to switch gears and get ready for the Escape From Alcatraz tri which falls on June 5. The Door Country tri is July 23 which gives me about 1.5 months to get ready for that one. And finally is the Breakwater tri over the August 27 weekend, another month separation.

My plan

Starting Monday I'm going to follow a 6-day per week training regimine for the marathons which will include running, swimming and biking. I'll run two days per week, swim two days per week and bike two days per week. I'll mix in weights 3 days and stretching over lunch. It'll be a subtile return to training but give me some decent exposure to all three disciplines while I build my endurance back up again.

After the marathons I'll plan on mimicking my Mark Allen training to finish getting ready for the Escape. Then, for the next few months, I'll keep building up and working on endurance and strength. That should be about it. I may add some late season races just because August seems too early to stop training but we'll cross that bridge later.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon

I'm going! Just found out I won a lottery spot.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time for a Face Lift

The gears are turning and I'm starting to get the itch to train again. And I will be in a few weeks. With that in mind I wanted to do a few new things, one of those being a new design to the blog. Hopefully this will help encourage me to keep writing a bit more as I get back into training mode.

I'll be back in a week or so with an update to the new schedule I came up with. I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait to share.

Monday, November 8, 2010

2011 At a Glance

So far on the list are these two marathons. I'm hoping to sign up for a half ironman or two. Maybe even this race as well.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Let me start by apologizing to my die hard fans. I haven't made a post to the blog since mid-May. While there are scores of reasons for this, time and other life priorities made it impracticable to keep up a coherent and meaningful blog. This post will aim to bridge the gap, spelling out what happened since that last post in May, how Ironman went and what happened afterword.

The Road to Ironman

When I left the blog high and dry I had just finished the Gulf Coast Half Ironman Triathlon in Panama City Beach, FL and was evaluating my path to Ironman. It was about this time the pressure was mounting to an uncomfortable degree. From trying to balance my professional life with training and my personal life to maintaining a long distance relationship and finding the time to go grocery shopping and get laundry done, my life had turned into a game of straw pulling. There was simply too much going on and not enough time to get it all done. For the most part this isn't a bad problem to have but I definitely cherish my down time which was slipping away quickly so I freaked out and started cutting out superfluous activities.

The months leading up to Ironman were filled with their own challenges. Nowhere in my original training plan did I expect to spend some of my weekends driving or flying to Chicago. My plan was to follow the training to the letter, doing each of the workouts as they were meant to be done on the day they were scheduled. With all this unexpected traveling I had the stress of trying to train while in another city. Needless to say I didn't handle the stress well; fortunately for me Devra was very good at managing this balancing act and helped me work training into the visits.

Another unexpected challenge, and probably the biggest one from my angle, was burnout. My training schedule through Mark Allen (my professional coach) was demanding. In fact it was the most demanding training schedule I've ever done. It got me so well prepared that I was able to do an Ironman distance triathlon about 3 months before the actual event. And that's when it hit me.

At some point in July I crashed. And I crashed hard. The stress of managing my life and the training, though I did cut out as much as possible, got to be too much. To top that off I was peaking too early. I had enough of everything so I virtually stopped all training. I needed a mental break from all things related to Ironman because I was miserable. I was miserable because the exercise I loved doing so much caused me to start living my life on a minute-by-minute schedule. I hated it and it showed. I was becoming someone I didn't like so I had to make a change. That change was to stop my formal training and exercise when I felt like it. Changing my daily life from a minute-by-minute schedule to one where I choose what I do and when I do it. Ultimately that helped me keep a positive point of view and get through Ironman.

But burning out wasn't the only major hurdle I had to overcome. About a month before the race I moved to Chicago to be with Devra. As if I didn't have enough on my plate, I was spending time flying between Chicago and Minneapolis doing job interviews and the general move process. In all that I managed to land a job and make the move. It was a pretty stressful point but I made it.

Living in Chicago was a big shock to the process as I needed to figure everything out from scratch: where to swim, where to bike, where to run, where to meet up with people to do anything. Luckily Devra lives about 1 mile from the Lake Michigan shore and another mile from a 0.5 mile long lap lane. That solved the swim problem. Running was simple. There are plenty of running groups right in the neighborhood. Plus the lake shore makes for some excellent running.

Biking was (and still is to this day) the real challenge. Because of the congested roads and innumerable stop lights, taking my TT bike out from the house is veritable suicide. It's barely suitable for the road bike. Biking on the lake shore isn't an option either. There are countless people out there and too many sharp turns for comfort. The only option I've found so far (which is great as it turns out) is to drive up to Deerfield and start there. Biking from there and heading west I get to bike on more reasonable roads with a diverse landscape and lots of great sights.

So while Chicago didn't offer a perfect solution to my training needs I was able to find a very reasonable compromise and get in the distance I needed to get in.

Ironman Weekend

As I mentioned above, a few months before race day I both physically and mentally crashed. This wasn't part of my plan but it was what it was so there was no point in getting upset about it. I just rode with the flow and took the situation as it presented itself to me.

When race weekend finally arrived the only emotion I had was relief. My personal nightmare was finally coming to an end. As for the race, the excitement of racing disappeared. After all, a few months prior to that I was literally doing the distances for training. Everyone around me was concerned because I wasn't excited like a person usually gets when getting this close to a huge event. But I knew I was going to be fine. I've done around 13 marathons, ridden 100+ miles countless times and swam a 5K (3.1 mile) distance at least 4 times to this point. The only thing I was excited about was being done with this thing.

I rode up with Devra's dad to Madison since I wanted to get there a little earlier than she could and he was headed up that day anyway. He and I had a nice car ride and I was talking about my burnout and desire to just be done with it all. He said I was in a good place and as long as I was confident in my distances and pace I'd do just fine.

The whole ride was stress free until we got to the Madison city limit. At that point it started hitting me that I was about to do an Ironman triathlon and I've been slacking for the past few months. My nerves started betraying me and I began getting really anxious.

The anxiety didn't leave when I got out of the car either. For the rest of the day through everything I was doing I had the jitters all through my body. Madison had turned into Ironman central. Everything about that town was related to Ironman: the hotels, the streets, the people walking around, the shoppes. Even the farmer's market on Saturday was centered around Ironman. All this started the wheels turning in my head that this thing was real and it was happening.

After getting settled down a bit I walked over to Monona Terrace (Ironman central) to pick up my packet. The line for packet pickup was enormous and if I've never felt so alone in a crowd this was the time for it to happen. Just then I turn around and see a handful of my friends from Minnesota that I spend the past half year training with. There's nothing like smiling faces and warm hugs to take the edge off. We all randomly showed up for packet pickup at the same time. It was a great moment and part of what made the weekend amazing.

The rest of the time leading up to the race was just relaxation. Devra showed up, we went to the farmer's market, ate some unhealthy (but delicious) food, walked around a lot, shopped, dropped the bike off to transition as well as my T1 and T2 bags, visited a local tea store for an in-house tea experience, had a great pre-race dinner and slept the night away (thankfully). All this leads us to what I've been training for since January:

Race Day

For some reason my anxiety left me. Mentally I ran through this day hundreds of times from the start of the swim to crossing the finish line. In my mind I started and finished this race so many times I felt like I had really already done it. Maybe that's part of what lead me to my burnout. Regardless, this morning the anxiety left and I was just there. A job needed to be done and I knew I could do it. There was no question or concern. I would show up, do it and wear my medal proudly.

Devra woke up with me and she and I walked over to body marking where she proceeded to mark me for the race. There were thousands of athletes, all ready to take on the task at hand, and the anxiety was palpable. You could practically cut it with a knife. There were people freaking out and others just lying calmly waiting for cannon to go off. Fortunately I was one of the calm guys.

Devra walked with me for a bit until it was time to part ways: her to the VIP section, me to the swim start. I met up with some of my friends and we all made the slow march over to the swim start.

The Swim

The morning was perfect. A nice cool breeze headlined a beautiful sunrise and the start to a very long day. My friends and I were making the long and slow march to the swim start. There was so many people trying to dump into the water that our progress was reduced to a slow shuffle. With 10 minutes until the official race start for us, we heard the cannon go off to start the pros. At that moment some guy was cutting through the crowd of athletes in a panic. In fact he was moving so fast he stepped on my foot as he was pushing me out of the way. He kept yelling: "I missed my start. I missed my start."

Turns out this was one of the pros and he didn't make the swim start. After a good laugh my friends and I felt much better about our situation.

As is customary they played the national anthem. The guy in front of us was singing it and it normally would have made me a bit testy except for the sign we saw on his swim shirt: "BLIND ATHLETE". That made me pause and consider what I was doing. All the problems, all the burnout, all the time I spent training for this thing. And here was a guy getting set to do an Ironman triathlon and he couldn't even see it. The sunrise, the water, the athlete all around him. Nothing. It really makes you stop and reflect when you see someone with a challenge like that accomplish something like this. We "normal" people have all the cards in our hand and exault ourselves when we accomplish the mission. Here's a guy who is doing exactly what we're doing but with one of the biggest disadvantages a person can have. Now THAT is a true Ironman.

After the national anthem they started playing the usual start song to the Ironman: U2's Beautiful Day. My friends and I looked at each other and all had the same thought: This is OUR beautiful day.

With only moments to spare we got into the water, quickly lost sight of each other in the crowd, and found our spot. And then: BOOOOMMM. Ironman Wisconsin 2010 officially began.

There's really nothing I think a person can do to get ready for a swim like that. There was so many bodies in the water that getting into a horizontal position to swim was nearly impossible without kicking someone or being kicked yourself. The Ironman swim is as much (if not more) mental as it is physical. You have to train yourself (and luckily I did) mentally to face the unexpected without losing your head. The swim consisted of a lot of stop-and-go as I'd swim into people, swim around people and get swum into. Beyond that it was two uneventful loops.

What made it fun was when I got out of the water. As I got out I noticed my two friends immediately ahead of me. We all finished the swim at essentially the same time (yes, I was the last of the three of us). But we got to share the third transition together. It was a blast running up that spiral with them. So ended the swim portion. I consider the swim a success because I was in no way winded for the rest of my day.

The Bike

Admittedly this was the part I was most nervous about. And if I don't miss my guess it's the part most people get nervous about. After all, it's the longest part of the race by far and it contains the most amount of uncontrollable variables: the weather, road conditions, flats, other mechanical problems, etc.

The bike, other than long, was uneventful. I was smart about my pacing, remembering that I still had a marathon to run. I was also smart (at least I thought) about my nutrition. I drank plenty of the Ironman replacement drink and had a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in my special needs bag. As I was about to find out though, the Ironman replacement drink is barely more valuable than urine.

The Run

And then it happened. My perfect day started its quick decline into Hell. After a very successful swim and bike I was in the home stretch: 26.2 miles, two loops and then into the food tent I go. I've run in thirteen or so marathons by this point in my life and had no concern about this one. I started feeling great, like I do at the start of any marathon. But it wasn't even half way into Mile 1 that I noticed something was off.

My stomach wasn't draining. My stomach had so much fluid in it that I was uncomfortable keeping a slight jog. And it wouldn't drain. No matter what I did. I ruled out all the usual suspects: sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes because I was drinking the Ironman replacement drink on the bike course. It couldn't be a blood sugar issue. I took care of that with the things I ate on the bike. What was it?!

There was an aid station at each mile and I was trying one thing at each to figure it out. I tried water at one, chicken broth at another, oranges and another. I kept going down the line but nothing was working. The first thirteen miles were like this until I met up with a very smart person. He told me it was indeed sodium and that the Ironman replacement drink was crap. He gave me a few packets of salt and told me to slam those and drink no water. I did what he said, slammed the salt packets and waited.

Within 20 minutes my stomach cleared and I was back in the game. It took me thirteen miles to figure out what I should have known right away. In the mean time I got passed by all my friends and was on track to having the worst marathon of my life. But that didn't matter. I was on on track to being an Ironman triathlete.

Eventually I managed to increase my pace and catch up with a few of my friends. Some I never saw and they did indeed kick my butt. However, the one friend I met up with kept me on track and he and I crossed the finish line together.

Crossing the finish line of an Ironman triathlon is unlike anything I've ever done. The energy surrounding that last quarter mile is incomparable. There are people everywhere yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. The music is blaring and there's large screens all over so people can watch you finish.

By mile 140.4 you've got 0.2 miles left and at that moment in time you don't feel your body any more. The energy of the crowd pulls you in. And then, in that last glorious stretch, you round the corner and see it spelled out in huge, red letters: FINISH. It's in this moment you know that 9 months of training has won you the day. 9 months of sacrificing, 9 months of emotional and physical roller coasters. Of balancing work and life with sport. All of it. It all rolls up into one moment. This moment. This moment when you cross the finish line and hear Mike Reilly yell:

"Jim Sheldon. You... are... AN IRONMAN!!!"

And just like that I have a new title. I'm a brother, a son, a friend, a boyfriend. I'm an underwriter, a teacher, a scholar, a mathematician, a volunteer. I'm also a runner, a marathoner, an ultra marathoner, a swimmer, a cyclist, and a triathlete. And now. I'm an Ironman.

Post Ironman

After the high of the race subsided I went into virtual seclusion from exercising. I've done a few long runs and long bikes but at the end of the day I'm done training. It's time to focus on other aspects of my life. I need to focus on my new job, learn a new city, and grow together with my woman. 2011 will definitely be filled with races but I think I need to step away from Ironman for a while. I'm sure there'll be more in my future but for now I need to refocus and maybe get back to my roots.

So far 2011 has me doing the IL marathon in April. Other potential races include the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon, Door County triathlon and Breakwater triathlon. I'm going to sign up for the lottery for the Escape from Alcatraz tri as well. We'll see how that goes.

More on 2011 as it happens.

But this is what took me two months to write. An now, it's off to the next adventure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time is an Issue

I'm starting to get into the meat of the training which is tying up almost all my time. Because blogs have a significant overhead with regard to time I've started tweeting my workouts. That way I can share what I do, where I go, and how I do it with everyone in a reasonable amount of time. So until further notice you can check out my workouts on the Twitter. My username is "jasheldo".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We Don't Start Slowly Around Here

Today marks the first official day of Ironmn training. Apparently all that other stuff was just a warm up. If so I'm a bit concerned about how time management is going to work over the next few months.

Today started out with a 4000 yard swim. That's right folks. First day back and I'm at approx. 2.25 miles swimming. It was interesting too. After the warm up the main set included 30 x 100 yard on 15 seconds rest and then 300 kick. That was a hell of a workout. Remembering where you are when you have to count to 30 is a tough job.

What made it worth it was the guy in the lane next to me. When I got done with my laps he asked me when I was going to be back in the pool. I told him my usual swim days and times and asked him why. He said he enjoyed pacing and racing against me. That's a nice little bit of encouragement. At least I'm on the right track.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gulf Coast Triathlon 2010

Yesterday I participated in my first half ironman of the season. My main take away is: ouch. I'm sore in parts of my body I didn't know I could be sore. It was one heck of an adventure otherwise.

Like all triathlons we start with the swim. Devra woke up with me at 4:30 and helped me get ready. The morning was a lot warmer and more humid than I would have liked but it is Florida we're talking about. The water temp was 78 degrees fahrenheit which is the highest temp allowed for wetsuits. Being brave (insane), I decided to take this one without a wetsuit. I've never done the 1.2 mile swim without a wetsuit so it was a nice change of pace to do it without a wetsuit.

The water was very choppy race day. In fact it was so choppy and wavy we lost sight of the buoys with each wave. On top of that the undertow was so strong it stopped us in our tracks every time a wave passed by. On the way back to shore a lot of people got dragged off course. It was really difficult fighting the currents to make it back to the right spot but I managed and got the swim done 15 minutes slower than anticipated.

The bike portion was the best of the three. I averaged 20 mph over the length of the 56 miles which was amazing for me. The course was flat and fast. We were also blessed with overcast skies which kept that brutal sun at bay. Otherwise nothing was special about the bike.

The run was the worst part of the race by far. At it was the one part I was the most disappointed with. I more or less walked over half the run. The heat and humidity were too much for me to take. There was an aid station every mile with water, Gatorade, ice cubes and sponges. I used at least two sponges at every station to cool off but it wasn't until mile 5 I started to open up, cool off and get my heart rate under control. From then it was slow and steady to the finish line.

Other than a bad run the race was great and I'm glad I did it. Now I need to focus on my run and second transition and I'll be ready for ironman. At this point nutrition is my worst enemy.

Now it's time to enjoy a few nice Florida days with my lovely lady.

Here are my stats from the race. Not good but at least I finished.

Screen shot 2010-05-12 at 4.19.16 PM.png

Friday, May 7, 2010

First Impressions of Panama City

So far so good. The area is gorgeous. I rented a condo on the 17th floor of the Boardwalk Beach Resort. It has a breathtaking view of the Gulf that my dad and mom can't get enough of. What's even better is the resort is the host location of the race. In the morning my parents and Devra only have to walk out onto the patio to see all the swim action instead of fighting a mob to get a glimpse. They can then just take the elevator to the main floor, head out the door and boom. They're right in front of transition. The setup almost couldn't be better.

The first thing I did was to stop and see my bike. The bike shop did a great job putting it together and having it ready for me for pickup. I still need to pick up the box from them so I can ship it back out but so far all is well.

I also took a few swims today, both without a wetsuit. I did a few because I want to get as much experience in the open water before race day. Today was my first open water swim of the season and needless to say it was a bit scary. But once I got the timing of my breathing down with the waves I was feeling much more confident.

Right now I'm trying (and failing) to relax, stay out of the sun and keep hydrated. Once 3:00 rolls around I can pick up my registration stuff. Transition will open up around 4:00. I'd like to get my bike over there and have everything ready to go so I don't have to worry about anything until tomorrow morning.

That's it. Here's hoping for a fast race. But won't beat myself up if it's not. It's all about having fun.

P.S. No wetsuit for me tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My first race of the season is this Saturday and this is the shit I have to look forward to:
Screen shot 2010-05-05 at 7.54.12 PM.png

Not to mention this race is in FL where, lo and behold, the Gulf of Mexico has more oil in it than water.*

I'm trying to remain hopeful and optimistic but cannot help in noticing the cards are stacked against the day: thunder storms usually mean calling off a race altogether. Not having the swim - the one part I was actually looking forward to - will be annoying if that's how it plays out.

So far the only thing I'm really looking forward to is spending a few days with my mom, dad, brother and girlfriend. My sister isn't going be able to make it. I didn't extend her a formal invitation because it was my feeling with as much as has been going on in her life it would be best if this financial burden wasn't added to her plate. I'd love to have her there but want to be conscious of her fiscal well being.

*Don't get me wrong. What's happening in the Gulf is a traumatic experience and my problems would be the most brilliant of dreams for any of those people down there. My heart goes out to all of the fishermen and locals being impacted by the oil spill. It's nothing short of the utmost tragedy to an area that's already seen more than its fair share of disaster. But I also want you to know I'm not at all pleased with the way things are going for this race either.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lazy Posting

Yes, I've been bad about posting. It's felt like more work than it's worth these days. However, don't worry. I have been keeping busy. The past 5 weeks my lovely girlfriend has been in town and it was amazing having her even though it meant running around like a mad man trying to fit everything in.

Here are some of the workouts I've gotten done over the past few weeks (that I logged). They're in reverse chronological order (newest on top):

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Week 13 Mid Week Long Bike

Damn cold. I wish it would warm up. But it was a great ride regardless. I'm really starting to grow into this bike.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week 12 Long Bike

This is a great weekend. Words fail me. I'm just having a stupendous time. My iPad came yesterday, my girlfriend has been in town for a few weeks and Garmin Connect has totally redeemed themselves by making their site absolutely rock star. It's brilliant. Love the layout, love the data, love the extra features. My only complaint is their use of shitastic Flash for the maps but who's complaining.

Check out today's ride (where the battery died @ mile 48). It missed just over 13 miles so it looks like I logged 61 today. That's about 11 miles less than I had calced for myself so I'm guessing I didn't make the full 4 hours.

Let's not even bother with the transition run. It was horrid. All that matters is I got off the bike and ran a bit.

Now it's time for some serious refueling.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 12 Bike

Here are the Activity Details for today's bike. I'm improving. Slowly but surely it's getting there. Time for a nap.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week 9 Rocked

It won't be possible to summarize all that was good about week 9 but it sure did end well. The weekend workouts were great and I'm personally proud of my performance.

First of all, Devra is in town for about 5 weeks which adds a little time stress but is an overall very good thing. It's great having her support around. Plus, she's not too bad on the eyes either. ;-)

Saturday I biked on the trainer for 3.5 hours and covered just over 50 miles. It was a great time. I'm glad I could go that far in HR Zone 3. It really made the evening estatic.

Yesterday was a great personal triumph too. I ran for 2 hours in HR Zone 3 and covered 15 miles! 15! Fifteen! That's just a hair quicker than an 8:00/mile pace. In the language of marathons that's a 3:28:54 marathon. I'm now less than a half hour off my target marathon time of 2:59:59. Someday...

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Great Week of Training

As a follow up to a post about training lows I have a week of training highs to report. It was a great week in training and I hope this trend continues. This may in part be due to the snow beginning to melt and the sun shining most days. But I also think it has a lot to do with taking some down time to refresh my mind.

My indoor cycles have been good. My mind has remained more focused on the task and I'm growing used to being in my saddle for long durations. As long as I can tackle the mental component I'll achieve my personal goals for the race in September. I feel I'm well on my way to meeting that goal too.

My long endurance swims have been good too. This week I had a 2500 yd swim. My swim lengths are increasing between this and next week. I'll be getting to 3500 total yards by next week. I've been feeling much more relaxed in the water and always thinking about my form, tweeking this and that to get optimal propulsion to energy output ratios. I can tell if it's working depending on how tired I am relative to how fluid I glide in the water. So far so good this week.

Yesterday I had my running victory too. It was my first speed workout of the year. I did intervals of 100 yards and 400 yards. I didn't have a track to I ran up and down the road a lot. It was kind of lame but it got the job done and in a stellar fashion for me too. The workout yesterday was as follows:

Warm up: 10 minute jog
Main Set: 4x100 dash w/ 30 sec rest between each, 8x400 run with rest equal to half the time it took to run the 400, 4x100 w/ 5 secon rest between each
Cool Down: 10 minute jog

Nothing outstanding there. But the victory lies within one of those 400's. I ran the distance in almost one minute. You heard that right folks. For 400 yards I held a 4:00/mile pace. :-D That was very exciting for me.

Let's hope this good week of training continues into the weekend. I've got a long run tomorrow and on Sunday another Brick and a 2500 yard swim. Better get to Trader Joe's and buy more pancake mix. I love my post workout multi grain pancakes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Training trends

It seems every year I go through some sort of cycle. Typically it starts early in the year and usually in February lasting until well into March. That's just the nature of the beast though.

By the end of October I'm typically kissing my racing season goodbye and welcoming a period of much needed rest. During this period I usually take time to reflect on the seasons triumphs and tragedies while at the same time catching up on areas of life that have been put on hold for the past 8-10 months. It's a grand time of eating recklessly, throwing a life of routine out the window and welcoming sur-of-the-moment activities, whatever those activities may be.

This is also the time when I think about the upcoming year and my goals. It's my opportunity to think big and dream of the lofty goals I set for myself as the old season winds down and the new one comes to life.

But this downtime has some negative consequences. (Note: I suppose everything does but stick with me on this).

For one thing, it's tough to get back into a routine. Both my body and mind envelope the lavish experience of the period of low stress much like a kid welcomes a piece of candy. Having time to do what I want, when I want without needing to be somewhere to train or run from place to place only to get there right in the nick of time is a great thing. That alone makes the transition from down time to pre-season (Jan-March) a very difficult thing.

Another negative is the loss of my natural endorphines. Let's face it, exercising feels great. Exercising intensely feels even better. During the down time I don't my regular endorphine kick. As a result my mind and body start to look elsewhere for that natural happiness so I start doing things excessively that negatively impact my well being. One of those is drinking excess coffee. I would use the caffeine in coffee to replace the great feelings I get from endorphines. It's not something I do on a conscious level but something my body naturally gravitates to. I raelize this is getting into psychological behavior and all the intriquicies involved with it but anyone who's trained for a long period of time and then stops knows what I'm talking about. It's the behavior of an addict which, as anyone who knows me can agree, I display in textbook fashion. Hence why alcohol and nicotine are not a part of my life any more.

The last imporant side effect of the downtime I want to mention is the depression that sets in. There are a lot of contributing factors to this, some addressed in the previous paragraph. The observation I'd like to make is the transitiion from a goal-oriented lifestyle to a just-be lifestyle. For the previous 10 months I've spent so much time focusing on growing my stature that I greatly neglect growing in spirit and growing in mind. Ignorance is not bliss and when the muscle we call the brain is not exercised regularly a lot of areas of our life suffer. Our self confidence decreases, our congnitive abilities go down, our memory lapses, we become easily aggitated, self defensive and ultimately depressed. This depression doesn't usually set in for me until sometime in early January when my training is beginning again. I'm not fully sure how to explain it but it's a feeling of deep despair and a feeling that everyone on the planet is better than I am in all aspects of life. I want to crawl into a hole and disappear.

Right now I'm at what I hope is the end of this degenerative state. It's a terrible spot to be in and it takes a lot of friend power to push through it. I'm eternally indebted to the people who time and time again help me through the tough early part of the year. If history is any indication of the future (as a risk analysis specialist I know it's only partially indicitive) then I should be fully through this nonesense very soon.

I know the point of this blog is to share my trainings but hopefully this serves as a good read for people who find themselves in a similar spot. You're not alone in the cycles of training.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taking a different approach

The frequency of my posts has waned recently. This is mostly because it's become too much of a hassle to update the blog on a daily base but also in part because the quality of my posts simply hasn't been there. I really admire people who can balance their time so well to manage full time working, full time training, home life, updating of the blogs and anything else that happens in life. It's really amazing and something I haven't been able to find a balance to achieve yet. But I continue working toward it.

As far as training, it's going very well. My swimming is getting much stronger and the biking, after some refitting, is feeling much better. Running is also going very well. I continue to refine my running gaite and focus on heart rate training. I can definitely see the pay off already so it's exciting to see where this is going to put me later in the year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Refreshing Return

Last week I was a mess. Training was going horribly (in fact I skipped the entire week) and I was crabby constantly. I even emailed my coach asking what I could do because I was really suffering emotionally and mentally with everything around me. He told me to shorten up the distances on the bike and swap things around if need be. He even suggested I take some time off to recoup.

It just so happened that weekend I was going to San Francisco with my girlfriend and it wound up being a great opportunity for a recharge. I did little to no training at all while we were there. The most difficult training I did involved muscling up Lombard St (approx 31% grade) twice. Needless to say, Devra hung tight making fun of me as I battled the hill.

Other than that she and I biked from Fisherman's Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, across it and finally over to Sausalito and back. Other than the hills it was a casual ride and nice to be out in the open air.

When I did finally manage to get back to Minneapolis I was fresh and ready to go. Stationary cycling still completely sucks. I don't think there's much to do with it. But getting a chance to get out of my element and be in a different environment really gave me the recharge I needed to jump forward.

So, with as much kicking and screaming I did about going to San Francisco, with all my griping about missing training, I have to publicly state to Devra: "You were right baby."

Something tells me I'm going to be saying that a lot for many years to come.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 5

Based on the way this week's been going there's no need to send out a summary of each day. This week I've been suffering severe burnout and motivation problems. Getting on the stationary cycle is almost sickening. I can hardly bare to look at it much less ride it. Because of the snow and cold I've also had no motivation to get out and run. It's all become monotonous. Meaningless. Soul less. What used to bring me so much joy and happiness, recently, has become a dry and barren desert. Void of life and purpose, training this week has really hit an all time low.

I really don't know what's going on or how long this is going to last but I know is my body and mind are both working together to tell me that right now getting rest is far more prudent than getting in a workout. This is hopefully the mid-winter blues and something I'll rebound from once the air outside becomes warm and the roads dry again.

In general I'm not concerned about this lack of motivation. It's happened before. Almost every year around this time for a while I lose all desire to do anything. But I do bounce back afterword and I usually bounce back stronger than ever. I'm assuming that's what will happen this time too.

And it's not just training either. Work is suffering along with every other area of my life. I hope today is the end of this because this weekend I'll be in San Francisco with my woman and this is not how I want to be feeling during the trip.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 29

Today was my longest swim this season: 2000 yards. It was as follows:

Warm up: 300 easy. 6x50 on 20 sec rest, 2 free, 1 stroke, 2 free, 1 stroke. 2x150 on 30 sec rest, 100 pull/50 kick. Main Set: 100,200,300,400 on base rest of 20 sec per 100. 2x50 kick on 20 sec rest.

The ladder was a big struggle. My form was failing near the end of each of the 300 and 400 but I managed to find my zone and hammer out the laps. This was a really exhausting workout but I'm really glad I got it done.

We've been getting a lot of snow up here recently and the walks to work have been very strenuous. That's probably why the swim was so hard. Today I got to work literally dripping in sweat. I think this upcoming weekend off will be more needed than I thought.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 27

First off, I need to send a shout out to my brother.

My brother has his birthday on Super Bowl Sunday. How cool is that?

Todays workout was crazy. It's my first BRICK of the season and much more than I anticipated: 3 hours on the bike, 5 minute transition, and 30 minute run. No land-speed records were set today but man were a lot of calories burned. I feel absolutely fantastic too! I just love that feeling of accomplishing something huge. According to the HRM I burned roughly 5000 calories. I'm not sure that's anywhere near accurate but I'll take it. That's an impressive number.

Day 26

Todays run was great. I needed to be around friends and that's exactly what I got. Interestingly enough the splits were negative but I didn't get any data about the per mile pace. I used to get that but not any more for some reason. Maybe it's time to get that Forerunner 310XT. If they ever go down in price that is.

I had a wonderful time with my friends. One of them even had cookies for me. :-D

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 24

I'm nearing the end of month one. Amazing. And I'm in such better shape than when I started it's hard to believe. Today's bike was a 1:50 indoor cycle in zone 3. What I find fascinating is how much a zone 3 bike takes out of you. Literally I was dead to the world all day today. In general I'm good with that because I burned more calories before most people wake up than they do in an entire day. But it definitely makes for a very long work day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 23

This was a very nice run today. Felt light and smooth. My left leg around the IT band felt strange so I'm going to spend some time working on the hip flexors/extensors and foam rolling when I'm done with weight lifting this evening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 22

I had a nice swim this morning. 1500 yds total. It was broken up by as follows:

Warm up: 200 moderate mixing up strokes, 3x50 on 15 sec rest. Main Set: 100,300,500, on base rest of 15 sec/100. 4x50 swim on 30 sec rest. Warm down: 50 easy.

The swim was great. I felt a bit sluggish on the 500 but the 4x50's afterword felt nice and smooth. I can definitely feel myself building back up to where I was but it's still going to take a while.

Todays bike was much better than the same bike last week. I had a Cliff Bar while riding so I was able to replenish some nutrients while still keep up a decent clip. No sugar crashing this time around.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 20

Today's bike was pretty good. Another good day of balance between the glute muscles and pushing and pulling on the pedals.

2.5 hours is still a long time on the bike and keeping my focus is difficult. When the weather improves and I can get outside I'm sure things will be much better. Until then this is good practice in patience and focus.

Todays swim was great. The pain in my left shoulder was gone. I'll definitely stay conscious of it but it was nice to feel smooth in the water.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 19

Today I wasn't very motivated to get on my butt and hit the trail. Originally I was going to run early in the morning but due to the unpleasantly cold weather I waited around until around noon when the temps reached their hight for the day to hit the trail. In the morning instead I decided to cook the weeks meals. I made homemade chicken noodle soup and hobo soup. They both turned out splendid.

As noon got closer I was losing my motivation to hit the trail. Not sure what my deal has been recently but doing anything has been more of a struggle than I would like. I knew if I was going to get this run in I'd have to do it far away from where I could easily escape so I decided to run around the lakes. This wound up being a wise choice because otherwise I would have curled up in a ball on my couch and drank coffee all day.

The run was nice except for my obnoxious HRM. In the first hour it kept misreading my heart rate because of the cold weather. It was so cold I couldn't sweat so it would read my heart rate around 165 bpm one second and then about 3 seconds after that I would be down to 130 or so. Completely sporadic. I decided to block it out until I got done which turned out to be the wise move. Sadly, I missed my goal of 13 miles in the two hours by 0.08 miles. I'll get it next time.

Day 18

Nice little tempo swim. Nothing much to speak of except my left tricep and shoulder started to ache near the end of the tempo swims. Something I definitely need to keep an eye on.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 17

I'm still extremely exhausted. I got about 30 minutes into the workout and just can't stomach doing the remaining hour. I need to keep my HR in the 129-149 range and in the 30 minutes I did I struggled to keep it near 130 with it lingering around 124 most of the time. I think it's time for some R&R.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 16

I finally had to cut a workout a bit short. I was so wiped out I couldn't weight lift after my 1.5 hour run. But I did manage to get the run in. For the run I had to treadmill it because wind chills were around -18°F which is not something I felt like doing. Unfortunately I forgot my Garmin at home so there's no record of my having done it. Guess you'll have to take this one on faith.

Instead of weight lifting I downed two Chipotle burritos with room to spare. A fair tradeoff I'd say.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 15

I didn't sleep well last night (what else is new?) but still managed to drag myself out of bed this morning for the days swim.

Warm up: 100 swim. 4x50 on 30 sec rest. Main Set: 1x700 on 2 min rest, 3x100 on 10 sec rest. 6x25 kick on 20 sec rest. Warm down: 50 easy.

The 700 was a challenge but I'm feeling the endurance and smoothness coming back. After a 2 minute rest I hammered out the 100's and they felt fantastic. My form and stroke were both strong and my feet felt almost in perfect rhythm with the flow of the water.

This evening's bike was a killer. Getting my heart rate into zone 4 is more challenging than I remember. I had to jump the bike into the big front ring and pedal with a lot of force for about 10 minutes to get into zone 4. Then I had to stay there for another 55 minutes. Let me just say that this is no simple task. I'd write more but am completely demolished from the bike. I have got to eat. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 13

In order to get in todays swim (300 swim, 300 pull, 300 kick, 100 cool down) I bought my woman a massage. While she was getting pampered I was pumping out the laps. The swim was good. It was at Life Time Fitness in Minnetonka. The luxury club that costs a monthly fortune to attend. But spa guests get in for free. Seeing as my woman (and I kind of) were spa guests we got in for no charge. The massage cost me roughly $100 but still it was worth it.

After my woman [sadly] left back home for Chicago I hopped on the bike for my 2 hour spin. This was actually great today. This was my first time on the new Fi'zi:k saddle and it was great. No numb body parts. Just a sore butt on the sit bones. Exactly what was needed. I'm pumped to try this out. I can probably stand for a few adjustments but still it was a much better ride than that crap saddle I was riding in.

Day 12

This was an interesting long run. My woman was in town from Chicago so she and I met up with some friends of mine that she already knows and we hit the lakes. My friends went an hour but I had an extra half hour to go so I pumped out Lake Harriet twice.

It generally isn't a big deal but there was freezing rain so it made for quite an adventure. No one twisted an ankle or got hurt otherwise but I did manage to see a lady slip and fall into the snow banks. She didn't get hurt so I felt like it was okay to laugh at her. I would expect the same from anyone if I were the one who fell.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 11

This was a really tough tempo swim. 1000 yds total as follows:

Warm up
100 easy swim/100 pull/ 4x25 on 30 sec rest

Main Set
3x200 fast broken at the 50's for 15 sec all on rest of 1 min

Warm down
100 easy

It was the main set that broke me. I thought what I'd do was take the 50's as hard as I comfortably could. By the end of the first 200 I wanted to pack my bags and call it a week but just as I convinced myself to step out of the pool another thought popped into mind. It was a saying I like to say to myself but usually in the heat of the moment forget about:

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

It was at that moment I decided to fight the desire to hop out of the pool and battle through the pain. And I'm glad I did. The rest of the swim was horridly painful but in the end I feel a lot stronger and better for it. Here's to the weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 10

I had a case of insomnia this morning so decided to kick the day off with my aerobic spin. My mind wasn't there. Neither was my motivation. But I got it done and can look forward to the rest of the day. Especially the 50 minute tempo run after work. Here's hoping the work day goes smoothly.

Got the tempo run done. Just over 6.5 miles in 55 minutes. Not half shabby. What I need to find out is how to get that distance in around 45 minutes. Now that would be a real trick.

Day 9

Nice 1 hour aerobic run. This time it helped clear my mind. I've been worrying a lot recently. Not about anything in particular. Just life in general causing a lot of angst. I wish I could pin point it.

If I had to guess it would be general dissatisfaction with my job, where my professional life is right now, the fact that for my education, experience and position I'm undercompensated and as far as mathematicians go, according to the Federal Department of Labor Statistics, I'm being paid in the lower 10%. It makes me feel both angry and fearful. At least I have exercise to help take care of some of that until review time.

Regardless, here's the run I did today. It was a bit chilly on the way out but much more comfortable on the way back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 8

Yesterdays workout was a bit messed up. I swam the 1500 yds in the pool in the morning but had to run to the auto repair shop to pick up my car. I even somehow managed to keep a sub-7:00/mile pace running there too. That was a lot of fun. But the run really messed up my spin. I went home to spin and gave up after 10 minutes. Maybe I'll do the spin today.

On more fun news the car works great. I'm $1,000 poorer now but it definitely could be much worse.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 6

2.5 hour spin. I'm heading to the gym right now for the swim. Should be fun.

The spin went very well. Good balance of glute muscles and quads. That's amazingly encouraging. Got to keep this trend going.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 5

Today's long run. I really enjoy this route. Today I started at the club and instead of following the regional trail out to Excelsior and Lake Minnetonka and I originally planned I decided to run it the other way to Excelsior Blvd. From there I picked up the Cedar Lake trail and followed that through the calm and peaceful neighborhoods in St. Louis Park toward downtown Minneapolis.

It was a beautiful day with nothing but the sun keeping me warm and being a part of nature. There's something about running along railroad tracks that's really peaceful. Not sure what that is but today, from the moment I started until I was done and even past that I've been feeling very spiritually connected. Today is a great day.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 4

Today's end-of-week workout was a nice short 500 yd tempo swim. It took me literally 10 minutes. It was a 200 yd warm up followed by 8x25 yd sprints on 45 sec rest and a 100 yd cool down.

At the end of the day, not a bad first week. Nice and easy entry back into the game. This weekend I've got my work cut out for me. Saturday won't be too difficult with a 75 minute easy run in Zone 3.

Sunday is another creature all together. I need to figure out how if I want to turn this into a brick or not. It's a swim & and bike but clearly cannot do the swim at home and ride my bike afterword. Likewise, I'd like to spin on my bike but cannot take it with me to the gym. And I cannot fathom spending 150 minutes in the stationary cycle room listening to my iPod. I'll get it figured out one way or another.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 3

90 minute bike today. I survived. This is definitely my weakest link. Can't wait for my new saddle to come in. Another season on this one (Bontrager Race X Lite) is almost horrid to think of.

Here's todays tempo run. Ironically I ran exactly the same distance I did yesterday but 5 minutes quicker and in zone 4. So that's all 1 higher HR zone saves me? 5 minutes every hour? Guess I never knew that. On a more fun note I saw a deer in the trail while I was running. It was peeing right on the trail. Classy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 2

A little 50 minute Zone 3 run (née, jog) and some weight lifting. Not a bad workout. I have to keep reminding myself it's early and I took some serious time off.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The First Day

Well, technically yesterday was the first day but it was a scheduled day off so nothing to report there.

Today was an aerobic swim in the AM and a tempo ride in the PM. The swim, a total of 1000 yds, was very easy. Welcomingly easy in fact.

The bike was another story. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the bike is my weak link. I'm not olympic swimmer but am fairly good at it. And running is my forte. Biking I do because I have to and compound that with some horrible muscle imbalances and it's simply dreadful. Fortunately my glutes are leagues better than they were this time last year but I've still got a long way to go to be efficient. Today's bike was a 60 minute tempo. Not bad all in all. Can't wait to ramp things up.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

So Much For That Plan

You ever have those days where you wake up and you just know some strangeness is going to go down? Take Mondays for instance. Monday, like any other work day, involves all the usual prep work, you then get to the office, do your stuff, come home and call it a day. However, this particular Monday, as your planning out your day, you notice there's no hot water for the shower and your house has mysteriously moved 10 miles further from the office. These things aren't necessarily bad but they definitely take the "ordinary" out of the day.

Such is the case with 2010 so far. I've had the plan to follow the Tri-Fuel 36-week Ironman training program with some of my friends to get ready for Madison this year. As of a week ago that got thrown up on its head. Thanks to the overly generous people at HeadSweats (and my woman) I have been given a comprehensive Ironman training program with a personal trainer through markallenonline. There simply aren't words to describe what kind of amazing gift this is

It does however leave me a bit flummoxed. Prior to this wonderful gift I had all of 2010 planned out from beginning to end. I knew the races I'd do, my entire workout regimen, where I'd go to do what workout, what time to get up in the AM, etc. It was very static and predictable. Things we human beings enjoy having: predictability. It adds comfort and takes stress away. Now it's all up in the air. Fluid. Dynamic. Ever changing. Unpredictable.

And now my race schedule is a bit off. I had my first race (a sprint tri) being in early June. Now, because of the new training I'm schedule for a half IM on May 8. Clearly not around here because it's not a 1.2 mile waddle on the ice, 56 mile snowmobile ride and 13.1 mile ski event. It's down at Panama City Beach, FL. Though the added expense isn't something I'm looking forward to, my woman will be able to go and I'll be able to visit with my parents on the following day, May 9, which coincidentally happens to be Mother's Day.

This new plan starts Monday. Today I'm getting a VO2 test done and hopefully buying a new 130mm stem for my bike (doubtful but we'll see) and a new saddle because mine is a POS.