Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Dear Ryan

Ryan | October 2nd, 2013 Leave a Comment

I promised my friend Ryan (not me, I promise) I’d send him an email about how I might prepare for Ironman Lake Tahoe based on completing the event.  For Ryan and the rest of you considering IMLT ‘14, here’s my advice.

Yup, I even ran with the mylar blanket the last few miles.

Training

I think physically I was well-prepared to handle the rigors of the course.  Fortius Coaching played a big role in that.  Considering I was a live hood ornament last December and couldn’t run until May, there’s only so much leg strength and run endurance I could re-acquire prior to the September race start.  On the bike, I would focus on riding a Santa Monica Mountains course loop that included lots of Fernwood, Stunt, Piuma, Decker and Latigo Canyon climbs in some combination. The best combination is going to need to give you roughly 10-15 miles of climbing with a technical descent or two in the middle. (I have a specific training route devised using Strava that I can share with people who are interested.) My best advice though is to visit Lake Tahoe and preview the course itself.  I’d do it as soon as possible to experience the seasonal temperatures, which I was able to do last year. Another option would be to race the June Lake Triathlon next summer and spend a few extra days in Lake Tahoe afterwards.  Good elevation training combined with seeing what it’s like to race at altitude.

Of all the three disciplines this season, I focused on swimming the most. It paid off with a three-minute PR at Lake Tahoe and that was despite a lack of open-water swimming workouts this season (outside of racing). Because of how calm and quiet the lake typically is, I’d spend a lot of time in the pool and practice proper drafting technique. It will pay off on race day.

If you’re not already, I’d also incorporate strength training and possibly yoga if you have time into your existing training schedule.  I watched in awe as my coach ran right by me during the IMLT marathon this year. He attributed his strong performance to strength training with Corey Enman at Fitamorphosis.  I’m currently amending my training schedule to increase strength training to twice a week for the remainder of my preparation for Ironman Arizona next month.  With all the climbing both on the bike and the run, not to mention the altitude, the stronger you are the better.

Finally, if you’re prone to getting cold like I am, you may want to race with a couple extra pounds on your frame. All the weight I lost for my 70.3 events this year didn’t help me in near-freezing temperatures.  In hindsight, I would have heeded my coach Gerardo’s advice and put on five pounds with about six weeks prior to IMLT.  But, in the moment I didn’t want to pack on the pounds as it would affect my performance at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

Plus, I like how I look in my tri kit now. What a vain bastard.

Race Day

Oh, where to begin.  How about starting the weekend before I left for Lake Tahoe?  I knew it was going to be cold, but didn’t fathom it would be so bad that I’d need cycling pants.  I certainly didn’t want to wear a bulky winter jacket that would flap in the wind. I was too obsessed with a quick T1.  Penny wise and pound foolish. I should have packed for the coldest conditions possible just in case.  I will do that for Ironman Arizona, especially since it rained and hailed the first time I raced that course.  Better to have it and not use it, right?

Next, race morning.  Bring shoes or slippers you don’t mind losing but can keep your feet warm prior to getting in the water.  Buy a cheap fleece blanket at a CVS too. I had two pair of socks on, a thermal top and a fleece blanket. But all are gone now since I had to ditch them.  I wore my neoprene swim cap not to keep me warm in the water, but to cover my ears in the chill.  Definitely worth purchasing.  Some people wore booties in the water but I’ve heard it can slow you down as water seeps in to them.  I didn’t need the booties while swimming, but it might have helped keep my feet warmer coming out of the water. Tough call there.

In T1, find a chair. That is, if the tent is packed.  Either way, I’d sit down even on the ground. As your muscles are cold, it might be wiser not to fight your body while holding an awkward standing pose as you layer up.  Further, you want to be near your gear bag in that frenzied chaos. There were so many people at my feet and around my shoulders that all the same black cycling apparel blended in into one giant clothes ball.  Consider being a fashion dork and using brighter cycling clothes in case your things get displaced. A friend of mine had a bright neon yellow cycling jacket…no way he was going to lose that in the scrum.

Back to the bike course.  Everyone is going to talk about Martis Camp and Brockway Summit. Both are tough and feature tricky descents, especially if it’s windy.  But you have to climb Dollar Hill three times if the course remains unchanged next year.  The climb is nearly a mile, I believe. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either.  Don’t overlook it as if it were a dirty penny on the ground.  Leave some energy after descending Brockway the second time for one more big hill climb after that.

On to the run.  I’m convinced the course was changed after the initial map was sent out to everyone last year (even after the two-loop vs one-loop debate materialized).  There’s more climbing than advertised, especially a nasty twisty section behind a golf resort that parallels the bike path coming out of the Olympic Village.  When you do your brick workouts, I’d make sure you’re incorporating some tough hill climbs into them.  Griffith Park trail runs will help.  Bottom line: This isn’t the flat-ish course people anticipated.  One more thing, in T2, I’d strongly consider a full wardrobe change to remain dry and warm. My tri kit top and vest were slightly damp with sweat coming off the bike, so as the afternoon turned into dusk, I was back to shivering again. Thank goodness I packed a Nike Combat fleece top and running tights in my special needs bag.  Speaking of special needs, this year race officials wouldn’t return items left behind on the course. Fair enough.  But I’d still make sure that doesn’t totally affect what you decide to pack in each bag. Better to be warm on a cold day — it’s hard to be fast when you are shivering. Oh, and if you see a mylar blanket dangling from a volunteer’s hand near sunset, grab it. It gets cold fast and those blankets really do work to keep you insulated. Even if you look less sexy.

I swear I saw this guy at the top of Brockway Summit.

That’s the best advice I can think of sharing with someone considering Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2014.  I don’t think I’ll be back, mostly because I think I’m at an inherent disadvantage due to the altitude (drastically affects power to weight ratio on climbs) and because I’ve proven to myself I can handle that course in the roughest conditions.  I wish you well, and leave you with one more nugget.  Make sure you are 100% focused on completing this event NO MATTER WHAT.  If there’s a remote shred of doubt or apathy in your brain on race day, the course will grow tentacles and reach into your soul to expose them — ripping out your still-beating heart as if it were a bizarre sacrificial ritual from an Indiana Jones movie.  Ironman Lake Tahoe will require your full (training) attention and full (training) commitment for the next year.  If that sounds too daunting…don’t sign up.

Let it Go, Man

Ryan | March 11th, 2012 Leave a Comment

As some of you may know, I was in Austin, Texas this weekend for South by Southwest, the annual music, film, tech and gaming mash-up that brings smarties and hipsters together from all over the country.  I spent my time trying to do three things there:

1) Get a sense of which way the marketing trend winds were blowing (answer: user experience is king)

2) Eat as much BBQ as possible (mission accomplished, Salt Lick brisket three out of four evenings)

3) Keep up with my Oceanside 70.3/Ironman St. George training (ugh)

Stormy weather, really good food, and an unpredictable schedule conspired against my training plans.  And what plans they were!  I purposely booked my SXSW hotel near the University of Texas campus so I could gain a weekend pass to the Gregory Gym Aquatic Center, which sports fast outdoor pools and a natatorium (I didn’t know that’s the proper term for an indoor pool).  I had visions of lap swimming only to be interrupted by Lance himself, asking if he could split a lane with me.

Longhorn Country

Uh...Fight On?

The lightning storms quashed any possibility of that happening.  That, and the fact that he left for Kona the day after I arrived.

A couple years ago and I would have freaked out.  Missing a 3,000 swim workout and staying indoors for both my weekend runs?  With less than two months to go until an Ironman?!  Oh, the humanity!  I’d obviously be 3% less ready for my race.  I still had those feelings at times throughout the weekend.  I tried to find any which way to make it to the pool when the weather started to clear.  But then I did something I usually didn’t or couldn’t do in the past…I simply breathed.

Dude, chill out.  It’s ONE workout.  It’s not the end of the world.  Let it go, man.

It’s easy to listen to your coach or articles that state missing a workout here or there won’t hurt your training.  It’s much harder to put that to practice when practice matters so much to a guy like me — this sport doesn’t come naturally and I have to work hard every workout to stay at the same level or incrementally improve.  So, missing a workout feels like missing an opportunity.

But there are other opportunities out there.  Like good BBQ, for instance.  Or a good seminar.  Or walking the streets of Austin with your wife.  And maybe sneaking in some ice cream too.

Pile o Meat

Salt Lick BBQ, the greatest of all time.

I’m no doubt a bit scared for my third Ironman race.  I might be as worried about this one as I was the first — the enormity of the challenge has definitely hit me.  But I vow to have more fun this time as I prepare.  To try and relax a bit more and keep a better perspective of it all.  To have a bit more fun with it.  To simply let go at times.

While I’ve had many goals for my races, I’ve really not had many goals for training.  This seems like a good place to start.

WTF Have I Done?!

Ryan | March 4th, 2012 4 Comments

I signed up for Ironman St. George this past week.

The event is two months away.  Eight weeks. Five weeks of build and peak training left.

When I write these sentences and stare at the screen, I wonder what the heck I was thinking. And how it seemed like such a good idea at the time.

So, what the heck was I thinking?!

First and foremost, Ironman St. George has always called to me.  It’s arguably the toughest Ironman in the continental US — even with the more forgiving run course.  Ever since “tri-asshole” told me I could have picked a harder Ironman when I was getting ready for Ironman Arizona in 2010, I knew I had to prove something more to myself. I knew I couldn’t quite feel satisfied with my Ironman accomplishments until I tackled IM St. George.

This entire line of thought was supposed to be put on hold until 2013.  I wrote in Lava Magazine Online that I wanted to focus on speed this year and save another Ironman for next season instead.  Besides, I knew I’d have a busy 2012 at work and thought the timing might be better next year.

Then, over the last week or so I realized my work schedule was changing for this spring. I was going to have a little more time than I anticipated. And what started as a tiny thought nugget turned into an inescapable roar in my head. If I trained hard, I still had time to be ready for the starting line in St. George, Utah.

I formulated a plan in my head. If I ran and recovered well from the Bandit Trail Run on February 19, I would consider that an indicator that my fitness was strong and that I could become Ironman-ready in short order.  After all, I had been training consistently at a challenging level since this past October with no real breaks.  My fitness was consistent if not at a plateau, why not put it to good use?

Finally, and most important, I had what amounted to a very short talk with Stephanie about doing another Ironman this year even though I said I wouldn’t.  Steph was all-in as long as I kept my training hours manageable and not at a level where I was absent on weekends the way I trained for IMAZ.  I thought that was totally fair and took the idea to my coach, Gerardo.  The real question was: Could I continue to train 11-15 hours a week and become ready for Ironman St. George in two months with my current fitness level?

Gerardo gave me the thumbs-up with the caveat that I’ll need to hit up a few century rides between now and then. He also agreed that my finish-time goals were reasonable — which means no PR for me but simply finishing the race in a way that I won’t embarrass myself.

Yes, I do have goal times in mind.  No, I’m not ready to share them just yet. I don’t want to be held to them just yet.

Here’s why.  My bike ride yesterday scared the crap out of me.

If I could have added one wrinkle to my Ironman St. George decision-making process it would have been going on a five-hour, 82-mile ride with 6,500 feet of climbing in 85 degree weather with 30 miles of headwinds BEFOREHAND!  I had conveniently forgotten about the screeching pain of  adductor cramps on long ascents.  Or the heart-rate spikes trying to run afterwards in the heat of the afternoon.  I had forgotten how strong winds erode my power and sap my confidence.

In short, while I forgot a lot of the pain, I was reminded of my brash desire to go after huge challenges sometimes without thinking the consequences all the way through.

This weekend’s ride was very eye-opening.  I am not ready for IM St. George yet.  I’m not sure if I’ll become ready in time for the race.  But there’s no turning back at this point.  It’s time to make the best of what feels metaphorically equivalent to what my parents called “eating with my eyes” when I was a little kid.  Simply put, it meant biting off more than I could chew.

Now all I can do is keep chewing and gnawing.  I’m sure as hell not going to choke or gag.  And the last thing I’m going to do is release my grip on this thing.  It’s too late for that.

For better or worse, I have too much pride.

Wedding, Coaching and Charity Oh My!

Ryan | July 29th, 2011 Leave a Comment

I’ve had SO much going on lately!  Thanks for being patient with me, not that you’re waiting with bated breath for the next blog post.

The big countdown right now isn’t a triathlon but my wedding.  We’re inside four weeks now.  The RSVPs are pouring in, last-minute decisions are being made almost every minute and the anticipation continues to build.  I’m really starting to get excited now.  Before, my wedding was just a date on the far horizon.  Almost like how Ironman Arizona was in 2010.  But it’s finally here in the foreground.  The other night I was explaining to Steph that the feeling is very similar to an impending Ironman in that no matter what last-second mishap may occur, we’re still “ready” for the wedding and it will be a great event no matter what. We’ve put in all the hard work and planning and that doesn’t go away just because a new challenge may arise.  I was afraid to use an Ironman metaphor for the wedding but I actually think it helped us keep everything in perspective.

On the training front, I’ve installed my CompuTrainer.  Or rather, I had it installed for me by my buddy Pete, with support from Coach Gerardo.  I have to be honest and say that the set-up process is not the most intuitive.  The documentation feels outdated in an era where a set-up video would be practically expected.  Instead, you’re looking at manuals that don’t provide the best overall direction.  One example came in the form of installing the bike into the CompuTrainer mount.  The directions don’t indicate that you need to use the load generator knob to help adjust where it sits on the back wheel.  This was frustrating because it seemed that the bike wasn’t fitting in the mount.  All that said, now that I know how to use the machine and the software, I can tell how powerful a tool CompuTrainer can be.

When I wasn’t learning how to use my CompuTrainer, I’ve been focusing on overhauling my swim technique.  You can see what I’m learning in this video:

As if that weren’t enough, I’m dabbling in self-coaching for the next few months.  Just enough to keep me in shape.  I’m making my own training schedule via Training Peaks, reading about training with a power meter and signed up for a triathlon in Palm Springs this December to see how I do in training myself.  I can tell you that it’s a lot harder to self-coach than I ever imagined.  All the reading, formulas, theories and time needed to craft a scientifically smart (and fun) schedule is quite the challenge.  But it makes me appreciate what Gerardo does day in, day out, week in, week out for our entire team.  The next time you get a schedule from your coach, make sure to thank him or her for their hard work on getting it just right.  I do really like the empowerment that comes with creating my own schedule.  I feel like I’m doing something important for myself and that if I perform well or don’t perform well, it’s nobody’s fault but mine.  In other words, I like the accountability.

On the writing front, I’m working on turning my first year’s worth of posts into a self-published book.  I think the lessons learned in there on what to expect mentally from training for your first Ironman may be valuable to others.  It’s taking a lot longer than I expected reading through each month’s worth of entries and taking notes about what to focus on for each chapter.  I’m thinking at this point I’ll write an introduction summarizing that particular month of training and insights while including each individual entry after it.  Hopefully the power of the daily entries is what people find interesting. We’ll see. I’m open to suggestions though if anyone has any.

All proceeds from this shirt will benefit Cancer Hope Network via Season 1 Racing. A very worthy cause!

Finally, I can’t finish this post without mentioning the T-shirts I’m creaing to benefit Season 1 Racing and Cancer Hope Network.  I’ve gotten a pretty good response from folks who liked my “I may not be a runner…but I’m a runner today” mantra from Ironman Coeur d’Alene.  So, here’s a T-shirt design I’m considering at the moment.  The shirt color will be a darker gray and the Season 1 Racing logo will be moved to the shirt sleeve.  But otherwise, what do you think???  I’ll be taking orders soon and then buy the shirts after I assess demand.

So that’s what’s been keeping me busy lately, not to mention changing times at work.  And now, I embark on an even scarier mission…my bachelor party weekend!  Lord, help me.

Why Not What

Ryan | July 11th, 2011 Leave a Comment

Midway through my Sunday morning bike ride with my fellow Ironman Coeur d’Alene finisher Richard, I realized something pretty important: Two hours of road cycling is plenty!

In my first outdoor ride since IMCDA, the biggest thing I noticed was how happy I was to enjoy the rest of my day AFTER my ride.  No bricks.  No pre-ride swims.  Just a nice bike ride, no Garmins attached.  Done by 1 p.m., not 5.

What does that mean?  Am I burnt out?  Do I need more rest?  Was it a bad idea to buy that Computrainer after all?

The answers: Maybe a little, I don’t know, and I hope not!

The way I felt after my ride has started affecting my desire level to train more actively.  I’m starting to feel the onset of a rather satisfying laziness.  I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.  I hit my goals. In the process, I’ve deprived myself of my favorite foods, favorite drinks, sleep, time with friends and family.

I want a break!  I want more balance.  And I’ve been taking it, eating literally whatever I want, drinking some beers and generally becoming rather sloth-like while hanging out more with my crew.

At the same time, I hate how I feel!  I’m feeling my fitness melt away daily.  That sense of guilt is making it very hard to relax during what’s supposed to be a recovery period.  It’s almost like being on a treadmill at an uncomfortably high pace, yet unable to hit the “Stop” button to get off.

There’s a fine line between a lifestyle and an obsession. Sometimes I can’t tell which is which.  One person who does know the difference is pro triathlete Marino Vanhoenacker — who recently broke the 14-year-old world record for fastest Ironman result with a 7:45:52 before Andreas Raelert beat that mark one week later by an astonishing four minutes.  While I won’t go into details since I’m saving them for my upcoming Lava Magazine column, I will note that he believes age groupers have lost sight of how to enjoy the sport of triathlon — instead focusing too much on attaining PRs.

I can’t really argue with that.

In fact, for the rest of this week, I’m going to focus on WHY I’m continuing with triathlon.  What am I enjoying about this sport?  Why do I want to consider Ironman Canada next August?  Why am I going to keep pushing myself to my physical and mental limit?

This is a worthy challenge.  One I’m up for though.  Have you done the same lately?

I will write soon to let you know what I find out.

Noise Pollution

Ryan | June 10th, 2011 2 Comments

I’m at a wedding in Riverside, California, staying at the Mission Inn Hotel.  I trained for nearly four hours today, split almost evenly between swim, bike and run.

Now though, the bass pounds from outside my hotel room, and I’m trying to sleep so I can do my back-to-back brick tomorrow.  People are out partying tonight.  Probably from this very wedding party and yet I’m in the hotel room, trying to get enough rest so I remain healthy and fit for the next two weeks.

This is as challenging as any triathlon.  Staying disciplined in the face of bacchanalian revelry.  I feel like a dick to Steph for not wanting to go out and party.  But fortunately, she’s the maid of honor and staying with the bride-to-be tonight.  And thankfully, she understands anyway.  Two weeks to go, and I’m just trying to hold it all together for just a bit longer.  To be fair, it is 11:30 p.m. and we stayed out having lots of fun until then.

But as the bass undulates right outside my window, my patience wanes.  Sometimes, June 26 can’t get here soon enough.

Two more weeks.  Hang in there.

16 days and counting.

Standing at the Mountaintop…Again

Ryan | June 5th, 2011 2 Comments

Rejoice!  Ironman Coeur d’Alene taper has begun!

After a Saturday of cycling and running seven hours and climbing 7,000-plus feet and a Sunday of running 13 miles and swimming close to 3,000 yards, I stand on the precipice of peak physical and mental fitness.

I am ready for Coeur d’Alene.

Earlier this week, I struggled with my personal trainer telling me I’m “just not cut out for running.”  I’ve turned that into fuel for my fire, and a new mantra:

“I may not be a runner.  But I am a runner today.”

That’s how I felt as I ran the hills of Calabasas with my buddy Jason today.  I was planning on a mild, flat tempo run but Jason had other ideas.  He’s gearing up for his first half marathon at Dirt Mulholland and wanted some climbing work.  I obliged, and I’m glad I did. While I think the workout was meant to be a confidence boost for him, it certainly turned out to be the same for me too.  We did some serious climbing today up Mulholland and some hilly neighborhoods near Calabasas High School.  My body held out just fine, as did my heart-rate.  Perhaps I pushed just a bit harder than I would have on my own, but having the company and the challenge of running with a friend made it more than worthwhile.

That’s been the biggest difference between my final build phase for Ironman Arizona and Coeur d’Alene.  For my first Ironman, I trained at the same course (dreadful Fillmore), largely by myself.  This time, my big bike workouts have been at springtime century events, heavily supported by teammates and new friends I’ve met along the way.  My workouts have remained fun and challenging, not grueling and mind-grinding. The misery of peaking before IMAZ has been replaced by firm resolve to put my head down, shut up and simply get the work done.   To be fair, I also think it helps knowing what I’m up against in my second Ironman rather than staring into the darkness of potential failure and personal embarrassment of failing to finish my Ironman.

No such demons this time.

I have pretty pictures to support this blog entry, but alas I’m in the office at work now (10:30 p.m.)  preparing for tomorrow’s epic E3 day of announcements.  So, those pretty pictures are going to have to wait until tomorrow.  In fact, this week is going to be a crapshoot on blog posts.  As I’ve mentioned before, this week is like the Super Bowl of the videogames industry, and our company is smack at the proverbial 50-yard line.

Thank goodness my build phase ended one-day before the madness. But where will I find time to rest?

Haven’t figured that one out yet.

22 days and counting.

Sledgehammer

Ryan | May 29th, 2011 Leave a Comment

Rejoicing at the finish of the Heartbreak 100. Notice the Planet Ultra arm warmers being used as leg warmers!

A lot happened this weekend, this epic weekend of Ironman Coeur d’Alene training.

I was trying to make some sense of it Saturday afternoon, driving home from Frazier Park (an hour north of Los Angeles) after the Heartbreak 100 century ride.  See, I was feeling pretty damn good about my performance there.  Not because I was particularly fast on the bike, but because I had enough energy left AFTER the bike to run for 50 minutes at what would have been close to a 4:30 marathon time.  That doesn’t seem like much, but A) it would be my marathon PR and B) that came after climbing nearly 10,000 feet on a chilly day.  Speaking of chilly, it was so freakin’ cold that I bought an extra pair of arm warmers and used them as calf warmers! I rode the course with an undershirt, a jersey, a fleece jacket, a wind breaker, leg warmers, arm warmers and arm warmers on my legs.

Back to the ride itself. What changed for me? What worked? Why? The trick for me was actually listening to my coach and walking (GASP) for a full minute after every nine minutes of running.  Going slower to ultimately go faster. It never makes sense to me but yet it works. In fact it made a huge difference, especially on a run that featured nearly 500 feet of climbing in the first two miles.

I had broken with my tradition, finally, of hammering on a bike ride only to fade on the run.  Instead, I stayed within myself, tough as it was to be passed, and conserved energy.  Still, I managed just over seven hours on a tough course — which really wouldn’t have been too much slower than what I would have managed going a more aggressively.

Which brings me back to my car ride home.  I was flipping through radio stations, done reflecting on the day and needing a mental break.  Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” came on.  Huge smile. Radio dial cranked up.  I had my new mantra:

“I’ve kicked the habit
Shed my skin
This is the new stuff
I go dancing in, we go dancing in
Oh won’t you show for me
And I will show for you
Show for me, I will show for you”

If you saw a dude screaming and dancing in his car on the 118 Freeway around 6 p.m., that was me. I know it’s a little corny, and I know the reasons behind the actual lyrics (I think it’s about drug addiction) are very serious.  But for me, on that drive home, I felt like I had finally kicked my own stupid racing habits and was ready to take the next step forward in my tri-career.  It felt really good.  Like if I take care of myself — if I show for you — then my body will show for me, and my results will be better come race day.

The rest of Saturday and into Sunday morning was spent recovering from the ride and run.  While Heartbreak 100 isn’t nearly as difficult as the Mulholland Challenge, it still took its toll — most notably on my outer right knee area.  I woke up stiff and sore, and definitely not feeling like running for 2.5 hours.  I texted Gerardo to ask if I could skip the run, as much because I liked the confident feeling I had from the day prior and didn’t want to be dragged back to that dark place of self-doubt following another sloggy bonk-fest.

Coach wasn’t having any of that.

“Push through” was essentially the only text I got back. A man of few words, Gerardo is. But he knows which are the most important words.

So push through is what I did.  For 2.5 hours exactly in the Calabasas area.  Granted, I only climbed roughly the same elevation as yesterday’s 50-minute run.  But, once again the walk a minute every mile routine paid huge dividends. My heart-rate never felt out of hand and I’m confident that if I can stay within myself on the bike ride that I can enjoy a marathon PR by a long shot.

As we all know though, Ironman can throw anything at you on race day.  So, I’ll be prepared for that.  But today, following the run AND a 3,000-yard swim immediately thereafter, I felt refreshed.  Not exhausted. But happy.  Almost joyous.  I got through the weekend.  I learned about myself.  I learned that if I hydrate constantly (five full bottles on the Saturday bike, two full bottles for today’s run), stay cool (literally), pop lots of Endurolytes, and stay focused and measured on the bike, I can have a GREAT day at Coeur d’Alene.

I didn’t feel this way at the peak of my training last year heading into IMAZ.  Granted, we still have one more giant training week left, but if I can maintain this outlook and simply smarter training then I’ll be quite confident and prepared.

A wiser athlete.  More humble.  But I’m carrying a sledgehammer filled with confidence and experience.

29 days and counting.

1 Month to Go!

Ryan | May 26th, 2011 Leave a Comment

Of course, you wouldn’t know it’s one month until IM CDA as once again my math skills are subpar.  My internal counting clock is off by a day.

Let’s hope I show up on time in Coeur d’Alene!

Today, Coach Gerardo shared the rest of my schedule with me leading up to the race.  This week is about 21 hours, next week is around 18 and the remainder of my training will hover in the 12-13-hour range.  So, two more big weeks and then we’ll ease off the gas.  Then again, I’ve never quite felt my foot on the physical accelerator that much this season.  That’s not to say I haven’t been training hard — I’ve given this everything I’ve got in the tank just to survive it all.  But it just goes to show the difference experience can make.  The stillness, relaxation and sense of confident purpose is having a real effect on my body, allowing me to keep weight on more easily this time around while remaining “dialed in” for race day.

If race day were tomorrow I’d welcome it with open arms.  Unlike last season towards the end of Ironman training, I don’t feel like I’m cramming for a final exam with the last big training sessions.  Look, I’ve been on a performance plateau for around six months now.  An extra big bike ride or long swim won’t make or break my Ironman, so I might as well chill out about the whole thing.

One month to go. What will I be feeling and thinking at this time in June?  Will I be celebrating finishing the race the way I intended, or will I be glad just to get to the finish line?  During my training workouts, when I have more time to let my mind wander, I think I’m going to visualize going through the entire race.  I keep reading and hearing pro athletes and coaches talk about the importance of visualization.  This Saturday, when I’m participating in the Heartbreak 100 ride in Lebec, will be a good time to start.

One month to go.  I’m savoring every moment.  Every memory.  Absorbing every detail of every workout I can.  These are likely the last real days of having the freedom to train like this for many years to come.  Sure, I’ll do Olympic triathlons and 70.3 races, but maybe not an Ironman.  I’ve said that before.  So even the hard workouts are becoming more enjoyable.  Just for the sheer joy of having the free time to do them.  For doing something for myself.

One month to go.

31 days and counting.

What is Our Formula?

Ryan | May 25th, 2011 1 Comment

Today at work, I was analyzing what makes for an iconic enemy in video games?  Is it a signature trait? If so, what kind?  Does the enemy have to be conversation-worthy?  I think so.  How does perceived danger or threat play a role?  There’s probably a direct ratio to the threat level and the iconic nature of that enemy.

Then, I began to wonder if WE have a formula?  What makes us iconic as triathletes?  What makes us Ironmen and Ironwomen?  For starters, we’d have to include willpower.  Without willpower, there’s no way any of us would be able to handle the training, and the sacrifices that come along with it.  Next, I’d say athleticism.  While we may not be the second coming of LeBron, Carl Lewis or Michael Phelps, we each exhibit athletic qualities that enable us to swim, bike and run for long distances.  We couldn’t complete a triathlon without being athletic even at the most base levels.  Finally, I’d assert that being an Ironman or Ironwoman requires a sense of fearlessness.  We are unafraid to pursue our dreams.  We are unafraid of failure, though it may keep us all up at night or force us to question our sanity in the moments before a race starts.  Yet, despite that fear, we splash into the water with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of strangers.  Knowing that we will be kicked, grabbed, clawed and poked mercilessly for what feels like an eternity.  Fearlessness leads to signing up for a second Ironman event even before the first one is completed.  Or is that stupidity.  No, it’s fearlessness.  I think.

But what do you think?  If someone were to break you down as a triathlete and try to isolate the essential qualities that make you a triathlete, what would those qualities be?  For now, I’ll start the discussion off with the following theorem — we’ll call it Schneider’s Law:  M-dot = W + A + F x 2.4 + 112 + 26.2.

What’s your Law?

32 days and counting.