Ironman, yuck

By: Josh Aevum, forward by Andrew Jackson

Forward: After a long awaited absence from posting on the site, Josh Aevum (my sworn rival) has started to post again as his journey to the Ironman unfolds. Josh is the most competitive person I know. He and I have both signed up for Ironman Florida 2013. We are friends, and I hope we both do well. I’ll give a quote that Josh gave me in November after my Ironman. I asked Josh if he thought he would ever do another Ironman after the one we are signed up for in November 2013. He said, “If I beat you, I’ll never do another one. If I don’t I’ll do one until I win, then I’ll never do another one.” To that I say, GAME ON!

duelingironman-ironman-triathlonBy: Josh Aevum

If I were to do the ironman today I would lose badly. That’s right, I would lose.
Let me break down my training for you the last year:
5 to 6 days of training, 1 to 2 hours.
Swimming: I suck, I can only swim four freestyle laps without feeling like my heart is going to explode. I have been swimming 3 times a week, for one hour. I have a trainer in my back pocket, the problem is I work a shit ton and don’t have my flex time yet. Meet for a session this Sunday.
Running: I can run 5 miles in 50 minutes, and then my calf starts hurting. I have those running shoes that purposely have no padding and it kills my calf muscles and feet. I only run ten miles a week because my right knee pops like an old person. Knees hurt as I am typing…
Biking: My mountain bikes chain is rusted, I don’t have a road bike with aero bars yet and probably won’t till summer.
Bench: 285 max
Squat: 295 max
Fran 9:45 today RX, and that was a good day (pull-ups strict, but only because I can’t kip)
Yoga-twice a week, vinyasa slow flow
Nutrition-making gains, still doing glucosamine, omega 3, and a multi vitamin-Protein shakes 2 times daily, a lot more fruits and veggies, a lot less processed foods. Haven’t eaten fast food in a long time and have really cut back on caffeine.
Starting to wrap my mind around this long distance…I would lose today- but I have hope for 8 months from now. I know I will be losing my strength soon, trying to figure out how to be ok with that. Signed up for a few races, we will see how they go.
The end.

Posted in Dueling Ironman, Ironman Training: Mental Toughness, Ironman Training: Nutrition Strategies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Training Program and Techniques to Improve your Time in the Ironman Swim

Ironman Swim Start. Buckle up son and get in there.

Ironman Swim Start. Buckle up son and get in there.

In the grand scheme of things the Ironman swim is not a very large percentage of the race itself. There are a lot of triathletes that do not like swimming. Those people are either fantastic cyclists, and or runners. There are a few that love swimming, and are fantastic here. It all depends on the mindset of the athlete.

That being said there are a few things that one can expect before doing the Ironman Swim:

  1. Know that you can do the swim. The Ironman triathlon should not be the first time you have swam that distance in the open water. This is a poor venue for a first time in the open water. This is best done in as close to the same type of water your event will be in. If in a lake, swim in a lake, if ocean, swim ocean, etc.  For confidence in your attempt bring a friend that owns a kayak, have them stay right there next to you for all of your  open water swims. If you are trained and prepared  to do the swim nothing will go wrong, however the confidence gained in having someone right there next to you just in case, is nearly immeasurable.
  2. This should not be the first time you swim in your wetsuit. A couple weeks before the Ironman triathlon the wetsuit should be used in your practices. If wearing a wetsuit with sleeves, you should be aware that your shoulders will be more restricted and therefore your arms will tire quicker. You do not want to make this discovery half a mile away from the shore. If possible do a Tri before the Ironman in this wetsuit. (There is no shame in wearing the suit in the pool) Well you may get SOME looks, but screw it you are about to be an Ironman, train like one.
  3. In the hours leading up to the start of the race, do everything you can to focus on the things you can control about the swim. You can control your nerves, certainly nervousness will be there. It is possible that your body will be so stressed that you will feel a bit ill, try not to let it get to you. If you have followed steps 1. & 2., the stress level will be minimized. You can control your stroke, focus on that, you are literally in control of your breathing, remember that.
  4. Expect to have an extreme bout of nervousness, or if you are prone to having panic attacks, expect that you will have one shortly after starting. This phenomenon is explained in great detail here. When this attack happens it can seem overwhelming, you will want to quit, don’t.
  5.  In the Ironman the race is measured in hours. Measure yourself by the minute, you will have good minutes, great minutes, bad minutes, and possibly a few minutes here and there that are a waking nightmare. Be confident that this single horrible minute will pass, and in the next sixty seconds life will be much better.
  6. There will be wild theories flying around about where an athlete will start. There will be stresses about starting too far up and getting swam over by faster swimmers, or starting too far back and having to swim over people. If you have done step 1, then you already have a reasonable expectation of what your time will be at the Ironman. Ask some people around you how long they expect their time to be. Try to get around people that are at least in your range. If you swim 1:30 and every person around you says 0:55 minutes, you will probably get swam over, a lot. If everyone around you says, I just want to make the cutoff, you will swim over those people a lot. Let me clarify here. No matter where you start, you will get someone that will swim over you, and you will swim over someone. Expect it.
  7. Once the undulating mass of flesh hears that gun, the first 400-500 yards is all about trying to find your little sliver of water to swim in. Focus on what you can control. Breathe. Breathe. Remain calm. Breathe. Find your swim training that is locked away in your mind, just actively think about your stroke, and breathing. After the first turn you will probably not pass as many people, and there won’t be as many people passing you. Everyone has naturally found people that swim the same speed they do. Try to start around as many of these people as possible.
  8. When you find your place, remember the swim coaching, and all the training training from your swim program, don’t go too hard, don’t burn all your match sticks. You only have 100 matches; you should burn about 12 on the swim.
Find your Place and Settle in for some Work

Find your Place and Settle in for some Work

Enjoy it. You are well on your way to becoming an Ironman.


Great Video on advanced Ironman training method for the swim. (this concept is great, although will get boring quickly, And you will swim your fastest Ironman ever)

Super Ironman Motivation video. (Gives me chills every time I watch)

Minamalist Ironman Training  (Dont expect a fast Ironman swim with this one, but you will finish)

Must read Article on the Dangers on Triathlon Panic Attacks


Posted in Ironman Training Program, Ironman Training: Swimming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Offseason Ironman Training

Offseason Ironman Training

It has been over 2 months since I completed Ironman Florida. I wanted to take some time off after the race just to relax. No swimming and no biking. I don’t swim because pool access is difficult for me in the winter time. No biking because I hate it. I do run though.

I participated in a local 5K race and was able to finish 3rd overall. That was my first podium ever, it was nice. My wife took third for her age group, so we both made the podium. It was fun to do a race that didn’t have any stress involved, don’t have to worry if I forgot something, just run and smile.

My wife and I both made the Podium in a Local Color Run

My wife and I both made the Podium in a Local Color Run

I have been working out however. My wife is a machine, she does CrossFit nearly every day. She weighs just over 100 pounds and her abs, body, everything is incredible. She kind of makes me look bad…….. Observe.

My Wife Cathi,aka, the machine. keep in mind we have 2 children!

My Wife Cathi,aka, the machine. keep in mind we have 2 children!

Therefore I have really been working on strength training this off season, particularly CrossFit. The workouts are always so different. Given that my aerobic capacity surpasses most people, and that my mile time is around 5:10, If the WOD <~definition here is a running WOD, I win. If the majority of the WOD is aerobic, i.e. Burpees, air squats, etc, I still win. It is a great feeling. On the other hand if the WOD is all about strength, doing 100 push ups, 100 pull ups, etc then I definitely do NOT win. In fact quite the opposite I’m the cow’s tail.

Sure being an “Ironman” is a great accomplishment, but it doesn’t really help you Power Clean now does it. BUT it will help you whip some butt on Burpees, running, and air squats. Still I keep hoping that somehow one day the WOD will say Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2 miles. Brag for the rest of your life. 1 RFT Because I know I can’t Powerclean, Push Press, Front Squat, Back Squat, or Kip pull ups, like the guys that are Beasts. But it is fun as hell out running them. I can also jump rope longer. My wife is a CrossFit machine, I can’t beat her, not everyone can be like her. She is Super Mom, I have proof.

Super Mom

Super Mom

If you are not sure what to do in the off season, give CrossFit a try. If nothing else it is something different. You will get stronger in your core, your legs, everywhere. And who knows you might just get lucky, show up and it will be a running WOD, then you have a chance to destroy the Beasts.


Posted in Dueling Ironman, Ironman Training Program, Ironman Training: Mental Toughness, Ironman Training: Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beat Josh Aevum: Ironman Decision

In one of my first blog posts I talked about a “light switch” being turned on. Essentially what this represents is a crisp clear decision to make a change, or to do something. This is definitely what is necessary in order to complete the Ironman event.


Josh Aevum registered for IMFL 2013

Josh Aevum registered for IMFL 2013

It is not the race that is difficult to do. Assuming you can make it to the Ironman uninjured and you completed most of the training as planned, the race is just about enjoying it.
The real challenge is the training. When I decided to do the Ironman I was out of shape, and I could not run a mile without stopping. I could swim with horrible form for 150 yards before I was completely gassed and if I wasn’t so tall and could touch the bottom of the pool no matter where I was, i stood a fair chance of drowning. And as for the bike, I didn’t even own one.
I have been told by many people that is a crazy to be able to come from nothing to the Ironman in one year’s time.
As unprepared as I was for the Ironman, not owning a single piece of triathlon gear, a bike, couldn’t swim, I could barely run a 10K, I volunteered for the Ironman. I had already told my friends and family I was doing this. I never back down from a promise.
I volunteered for the swim portion. I showed up when the sun was still down and it was pitch black. I could not see the buoys yet. As the sun came up and I saw how far out the swim takes you, My heart sunk in my chest and I was gripped with a sense of fear, and doubt, I kept asking myself what had I done? What have I gotten myself into?
That was a year ago. I am an Ironman now.

Before and After Ironman

Before and After Ironman

Those thoughts of doubt and fear are distant now and somewhat amusing. I now know that what got me to the finish line a few weeks ago, is the decision I made to do the Ironman. More than a decision however. We are not talking about the red tie or the blue tie here. This decision was Ironclad, set in stone, hardened with fire, and an absolute resolve to see it to the bitter end. Yes it was the training that ultimately got me there but without that fire, I would not have seen it through.

Ironman Andrew and IronNoob Aevum

Ironman Andrew and IronNoob Aevum

I am now signed up for IMFL 2013. I know what has to be done now. I know the errors I made, I can train smarter now and not harder. I am a good swimmer, and I’m on the doorsteps of being a great swimmer. My bike leg was pathetic so I can only improve here. I will train a lot more for the run. I will be ready to run this. There was at one point a fire burning with the purpose of completing the Ironman. That fire has been replaced with an inferno that burns white hot. The goal: BEAT JOSH AEVUM

Aevum realizing he needs to tighten up

Aevum just realizing he needs to tighten up


Posted in Dueling Ironman, Ironman Training Program, Ironman Training: Mental Toughness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida Ironman Race Report 2012

Pre Race:

Ironman Andrew Jackson

Ready for the Ironman, by ready I mean FREAKING OUT

I was understandably nervous several days leading up to the event. Upon arrival and registration, I was amazed how many people were going out for very long rides. (one guy rode 70 miles 2 days before the race) Seems to me to be a bit much! There were people going on 13 mile runs and swimming the whole course. For me I looked at it as though I either have enough money in the bank or I’ll go broke trying, because I am not going to earn anything extra two days prior, it would simply be a withdrawal. I tried to stay calm and get as much rest as possible.

Race Morning:

IronmanAndrew Jackson

Sweet spot in Transition, outside close to exit!

I got body marked early, and got everything ready so early that I had two hours of witing ahead of me. Nerves. I know that Skrillex and Yoga aren’t really the best mix but for me it was working. I did some yoga and stretching for about two hours, said hello to my family. My father was nearly in tears when he was telling me how proud of me he was for even trying something like this. It was nice although not super helpful. J

Swim: 1:24:30

hell on earth

The washing machine of my nightmares

I was not sure where to line up so I made my best guess. In retrospect I think it was a fail. I stayed on the beach but not all the way in the back I was kind of in the back of the absolute middle of the cluster F. I am a slightly above average swimmer so I think this was too far back. I was having to slow up so I would not run over people, but as I slowed up I was being swam over. My body position was in a 45 degree angle most of the time. I had to exert so much energy just to stay up. I was OUT of breath before the first buoy and I seriously considered quitting. It was so hard. I didn’t know if I could do it.

I decided I had come too far not to at least try to finish now. I struggled through and it slowly got better I made the first turn and that was terrible, I made the second turn and it was a little better, then suddenly I found some open water! This was amazing! I swam for a while when I realized I was straying to the right, I corrected and got back in the washing machine of human flesh, then turned back and just stayed on the edge. The rest of the swim was a pleasure and all of my training payed off. I finished the first and second laps no worse for the wear. I did nearly puke up my scrambled eggs. The salt content is so high that the tiniest swallow instantly activated the gag reflex. Watch out for that.

NOTE: The wetsuit peelers have you lay on your back so they can get the suit off. Keep in mind that there is sand everywhere on the ground. If you swim with your tri suit on, and let the peelers take your suit off. It would be wise to hit the showers extra thoroughly otherwise you will have a sandy bike and run ahead of you. I was prepared for this and changed out of my sandy crap and changed in transition.

Transition 1: 13:01

kestrel talon

Coming out of transition ready for the bike

Before the race I made the decision to take my time in transition and make sure I was comfortable, I didn’t want to rush I just wanted to make sure I had everything and that I was comfortable.  I changed out of my sandy swim wear into fresh dry underwear, bike shorts, and my bike jersey. I had some water and a GU gel then headed out to get my bike. The majority of the bikes were still on the rack. This always gives you a good feeling just knowing that you are ahead of the curve as it were. I got my bike and carefully made my way to the bike course. I never understand people that get in a rush right here and fall, drop their crap, wreck into people, and otherwise just be morons just in order to I assume be a few seconds faster. TAKE YOUR TIME HERE! A stupid mistake here could blow your whole race!

Bike: 6:47:59

still time to pwn


I know I was not as prepared here as I should have been. Late into my training I kind of lost my motivation. The schedule would say something like “Long Ride 100 miles then 4 mile run” and I would switch it up to something like “30 miles easy then cheese fries” Needless to say I could have been better on the bike. I made the distance slowly but surely. I cramped up. I was not prepared for the rollers that were out there. I thought it was all flat. It is not. The worst part of the race is this 6mile out and back section that is on the WORST road I have ever ridden on. I had just pilled my aero bottle with carbo pro and I had to take a bath in CarboPro for 12 miles. AWFUL!

nice leg muscles on the bike

getting it done around mile 74

Transition 2: 8:13

Again I just wanted to take my time here. I made sure I had plenty of  Vaseline on my entire foot, in-between my toes, everywhere, generously. I did forget to put it on my nipples though. I regretted that on around mile 10.

Run: 5:13:34

The run went pretty well, and I had a decent pace running the whole way and walking the aid stations. This worked until mile 20 when I cramped up pretty significantly. From then on out I did a walk run routine. One thing that is different from a standard marathon and an Ironman marathon is that when you run a marathon, at mile 6 you think to yourself “OMG I still have 20 miles left!” and it kind of crushes your spirit a bit. Contrastly on an IM Marathon when you reach mile 6 you think to yourself “YEAH BABY ONLY 20 MILES LEFT!” and your spirit is renewed. Very strange phenomenon but true. I was able to finish the run and still had some left to sprint in. I finished standing up and had energy left to take pictures, hug the family and just enjoy the event. Crossing that finish line is absolutely awesome! No words can describe it. It is something you would have to experience for yourself. Just knowing it was over was a relief. No more long bike rides or long runs. The weekends are mine again! What a year, what a journey. I’m now finally an Ironman. I bought some Ironman crap and I don’t feel like a big faker if I’m seen in something that has the Ironman logo.

ironman andrew finished the ironman

GREAT feeling. I was able to sprint the finish and smile for everyone that came to support me.

If your goal is to finish an Ironman, it is a noble goal, stay after it, don’t quit. Stay in that pool until you have the swim down cold. Ride as many century rides as it takes to get your nutrition right. Nutrition on the bike so that you have a lot left for the run is the key to success in the Ironman. Get that right and anyone can run walk the marathon. Or just walk J It’s a tough goal but I’ll tell you it can be done. Hang in there are go get it!

Finish: 13:47:17

ironman raw emotion

Raw emotion, so happy to be there and get the finish. I achieved.

Posted in Dueling Ironman, Ironman Race Report | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Tri Bike Setup Done on The Cheap

As I get closer and closer to my “Ironman Debut” I am starting to wonder if I have the best possible configuration for my Tri Bike setup. I have been toying with a few different setups, and have looked online for some fasteners, and some ways to keep things secure on my bike.

When All Else Fails try Duct Tape

In training I wanted to use my iPhone but I didn’t have a great way to secure it to the bike. I have used the neoprene case that is intended to strap to the forearm. This actually gets rid of the vibrations from other setups. I originally used a system of cable-ties and bungee cords in an effort to rig up the belt clip portion of my otter box. The system worked fairly well but the ties tended to drift up or down on the aero bars. I thought about duct tape.


In reading a blog recently I found a low tech solution that solves this issue. In Trevor and Heather‘s Blog he states  “To solve that I used a thin roll of electrical tape to form a bump on either side of the zip ties.” BRILLIANT! Thanks Trevor for solving this.

Cable-Tied Bottle Cage

Triathletes are a resourceful bunch. I love seeing the different setups that usually have some duct tape or some cable ties thrown in the mix somehwere or other. I think the best solution for training will be the electrical tape and cable tie system. For the Ironman, I’ll just be praying to finish.

Posted in Ironman Training: Mental Toughness | Leave a comment

Tri Bike vs Road Bike

It has often been said that it is not the bike, it is the engine. One of the best cyclists I know rides a 1984 steel frame road bike. On some level everyone knows it is not really the bike, it is the skill of the rider. However the knowledge of this does not stop most of from wanting to get a “good” bike, or that is to say a bike that suits us the best. This article should help you to answer the question, “Should I get a Road Bike or a Tri Bike?”The following categories are among the most important things to consider before purchasing the bike of your dreams:

Proper Bike Fit: This is one of the most important parts of a bike purchase to consider before even starting the search for a bike that will fulfill your needs. Many first time bike buyers have no idea what size bike they need. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a bike that is either too large or too small for your body height. Height alone is not the sole determinant of the proper frame size that you may need.

Local Bike Store: Although many deals can be found online, through Craigslist, a friend of a friend, local triathlon clubs, etc. The best starting point is at a Local Bike Store. The reason for this is that the majority of bike stores employ athletes, and cyclists that know a great deal about the sport. If you are willing to ask the questions more than likely they will have an honest answer for you. Unlike many sales situations, I have found these people to be easy going and exceptionally helpful. The purpose of this visit is to gather information not to buy a bike today. Keep this in mind as you peruse. At the Local Bike Store do the following:

  1. Find a road bike that you like, (don’t be afraid to pick something a little outside your price range) ask if this bike would be something that would fit you well, take this bike out for a test ride.
  2. Find a Tri Bike that you like, (don’t be afraid to pick something a little outside you price range) again make sure this bike would be a pretty good fit for your body type, take this bike out for a test ride as well.

You should note that a road bike is a little easier to ride for many reasons:

  • The brake and the gears can all be manipulated from one comfortable position
  • The road bike is a little more comfortable because of the differences in geometry
  • It is easier to ride in larger groups on a road bike because of the ease of use.
  • It is easier to ride in tight winding courses with lots of hills because of the ease of use.
  • If you have strong fitness goals, and want to cycle for the social aspect this is most likely the right choice for you.
  • Road bikes CAN be outfitted with aero bars and will work reasonably well as an entry level Tri Bike.

You should note that a Tri Bike is built for speed for many reasons:

  • The gear shifters are out at the end of the aero bars, and are meant to be used while moving along at top speed.
  • The Tri Bike has a more aggressive geometry and the body posture is meant to encounter less wind resistance than on a road bike.
  • The bike is a bit harder to ride in traffic because of the need to jump from the gear shifters to the brakes at a moment’s notice.
  • The bike is built for racing; if you are looking to purchase a bike because you want to do triathlons then this is most likely the bike you will want to go with.

Reason for purchasing bike:

–          Fitness purposes not interested in racing – Road Bike

–          Bike racing only – Road Bike

–          Fitness mostly with an occasional Triathlon (don’t care about times) – Road Bike with some clip on Aero Bars

–          Fitness but want to do well in my Triathlons – Tri Bike

–          Serious Triathlete – You already have a Tri Bike

Budget: This can range from $100.00 – $14,000.00 + I will list what you can expect to find for some different price ranges. At this point you already know what size bike will fit you from your trip to the Local Bike Store, you also know if you are looking for a Road Bike or a Tri Bike, now the trick is to find something in your budget.

The following is a list of some of the more reputable bike manufacturers out on the market:

Cervelo, Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Bianchi, Kestrel, Scott, Felt, Orbea, Argon 18, Quintanna Roo, Fuji, and others. Just because I did not list a bike here does not mean it is a bad bike, it just means it is not one of the most popular brands out there for a competition style bicycle.

what is better a road bike or tri bike

Bikes Priced Below $500.00

$100.00 – $499.99 – Your best bet will be Craigslist here. Instantly eliminate a bike if it will not fit you based on the size. If you find a smoking deal on a bike that is too small for you, DON’T buy it anyway. The same is true for a bike that is too big for you. Only think about a bike if it the right size for you. If it meets this criteria and is in your price range, do some research on that particular bike model. Look for reviews. Call and ask about the components but for this price don’t expect too much.

What to expect here: Unless you get lucky and find a smoking deal on Craigslist from someone that knows nothing about bikes and basically gives something away, don’t expect much. These bikes will be aluminum or steel, basic wheels, low end components, nothing fancy here.

road bikes or triathlon bikes

Bikes priced between $500.00 & $1,000.00

$500.00 – $999.99 – In this price range some entry level Road bikes can be bought new from a Local Bike Store, online, and of course on Craigslist. Some used bikes of a slightly higher quality level may be in this range if you find the right seller on Craigslist.

What to expect here: At this level we should start seeing some entry level components, possibly some shimano components, it is unlikely to see carbon at this price point.

mid priced road and tri bikes

Bikes Priced between $1,000.00 & $1,500.00

$1,000.00 – $1,499.99 – If purchased new some Road bikes will start to have a little better components, you should start to see some carbon fiber forks, and other components in this range. Used it is possible to get some pretty decent Tri Bikes at this price level. Keep looking on Craigslist, don’t be scared to travel three hours to a larger Metro area for a good used bike if you find one in your size.

What to expect here: Should start to see some carbon forks at least here, may find some shimano 105 components (entry level race components) OR may start to see some full carbon frames. The sacrifice on the full carbon bikes here will either be on components, wheelsets, brakes, seat or seatpost, something has to be sacrificed to allow for the carbon at this price point.

kestrel versus kestrel

Two Kestrel Bikes priced between $1500.00 & $2,000.00

$1,500.00 – $ 1,999.99 – For a new bike in this range you can expect to start seeing full carbon frames, upgraded components, some entry level race wheels, carbon cranks, seatposts, aero bars, and better tires. In my opinion this is where you get the most bang for your buck.

What to expect here: Should start to see almost all carbon here, if careful a bike can come with wheelsets, carbon cranks, carbon frame and fork, carbon aero, upgraded components, a very competitive price point to get in on and still get a great bike.

very expensive bikes

Bikes priced between $2,000.00 and $14,000.00+

$2,000.00 – $14,000.00 – Go on with your bad self. If you have the money and this is what you want to spend it on just make sure you buy something that will make you smile every time you look at it. You can always upgrade the bike you have with rims, tires, cranks, aero bars etc. But make no mistake, it is not the bike, it’s the engine.

What to expect: For this kind of money you can get a really good bike and go broke doing it.

From above this range it really is going to start being a game of diminishing return for the money you spend.

Example: This is taken from an ad in the July 2012 Triathlete Magazine. The Ad is for some Magura RT8-TT brakes. They are the first and only hydraulic TT brake on the market. “Lightest Brake on the Market, 495 grams, The Aero advantage saves 8 seconds in 40K and 36 seconds in an Ironman” Price $750.00

–          Do you really want to pay $750.00 for some brakes just to gain 36 seconds over 112 miles? Above this price point this is what you get, paying thousands of extra dollars to gain a precious few seconds. Unless you missed winning Kona by less than a minute, save your money and train harder. Once again it is not the bike, it is the engine.

Posted in Ironman Training: Bike, Ironman Training: Mental Toughness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gulf Coast Triathlon Race Report 2012

Pre Race:

transition area gulf coast triathlon

635 my number for the Gulf Coast Triathlon

I arrived in transition with ALL of my gear this time. I went by a checklist this time so that I would not forget anything. This time I was in the middle of a bike rack. The people on either side of me had already set up. I had to move some of their stuff so that I could put my things down. Note to self, try to get to transition a little earlier.

Swim:  1.2 Miles

gulf coast triathlon

Before the Gulf Coast Triathlon

The swim was a wave start. My division was one of the last to get in the water. As my division left I let everyone go out ahead so I would not be in the fray. I went in at a position that I did not think I would get beat up. I didn’t expect to get swam over or to swim over anyone. It was still crowded and with the cross current my best efforts to keep from swimming on top of people went unanswered.

I was better prepared for the swim this go round. I did not start off too fast. I just went at a nice manageable pace. The water was actually a bit rough. I swallowed some water here and there and that made me gag. I realize that I cannot swim in a straight line to save my life. I kept trying to sight off the buoys but I was out to the right of them so that I would not be in all the traffic. Therefore I was sighting slightly to the right of the buoys. I need to redefine slightly because I STAYED off course the whole time. I stopped multiple times to sight. I felt good on the swim but It took me forever to finish.

At the end of the swim I could see the bottom and I was confident that I could walk in. I stood up in chest high water and started to walk in. I took my goggles off and made my way to the shore. As each wave approached I was in over my head and I was swept off to the left by the current. I fought this for several minutes before I realized I was not getting any closer to shore. I had to wrestle my goggles back on and swim in a little closer. From now on I will swim in until my hands touch the ground, then I will stand to get out. Fighting the currents is a waste of energy.

Swim time: 48:16    I wanted to beat 40:00 I made some mistakes. I think I can get 40:00 next race.

Transition 1 time: 5:28

I took my time in transition. I am not fast enough yet to work about 3 extra minutes in transition on my total time. Although after the race I was thinking how nice it would be to get those 2-3 minutes back. Next time out I will have a better sense of urgency in Transition.


Gulf Coast Triathlon Bike Leg

The Gulf Coast Triathlon Bike Portion was windy!

I went out on the bike pretty hard. I waited a few miles before I started taking on fluids. The wind was pretty stout this time out. I didn’t pass as many people as I did last time out. I was passed by quite a few people as well. I stayed around the same group of guys for the majority of the race. I would pass them and they would pass me back. The thing that made me smile was that all of the guys in that “group” had more expensive bikes than I have, and they were all wearing aero helmets. It just goes to show that money can’t buy speed, only way you can get that it to train harder.

This is a very flat course, the only problems you encounter are wind and the danger of hitting cones. Several people were bloodied, and broken on the side of the road, usually next to a cone, bleeding. I lost focus for a second and nearly hit a cone myself. At 24 miles an hour this would not have been a pretty picture.

At mile 50 my average speed was 22.4 mph. I thought I was flying, this was going to be my fastest bike split ever. Then the bad news hit me as I made that left turn to the finish. An ANGRY head wind about 21 mph was slapping me in the face. It was all I could do to stay above 12mph. I was nearly blown to the ground a couple times from the wind. This killed my smoking bike split.

Bike Time: 2:54:14 Bike Speed: 19.3  I have yet to break 20 but I WILL break 20 next race.

Transition 2 Time: 3:28 Again I was pretty slow. I can shave off valuable time here.


Since my injury in February, I have not trained hard at all for the run. In fact I barely trained at all. The most I ran before this race was six miles at a miserably slow pace. I only ran half of the last race that I did. This would be a test to see if my knee could hold out for the whole race. To my surprise it held out just fine. The run was harder than it should have been because my conditioning was not there. I simply didn’t train for it.

Despite not being trained I did not walk I ran the whole thing. I actually did pretty well considering the fact that I did not train for the run. I was above average on my time and nearly hit the 2 hour mark. I felt pretty good the whole race until around mile 11 when the wheels fell off.

At the half way point I thought to myself, If I keep this pace up I can finish in 5:45:00, at each mile this time was creeping up as I did the math. I kept a resolve in my mind to beat 6:00:00. It was a struggle but even after the wheels came off I hung in there and got my finish time.

finish line at gulf coast triathlon

Dead at the finish but still enough energy to pown the spectators

Run Time: 2:07:32  Pace 9:45

Total Time: 5:58:56

After Ochsner I felt great, I thought “this is a half Ironman?” That was easy. I’m going to do great on the Ironman. Well brother there was no swim, the bike was shorter, and I walked half the time on the run. It feels like I got that medal out of a cereal box. I had to earn this one.

medal for gulf coast triathlon

Gulf Coast Triathlon medal 2012

I was dead at the finish, there was no sprinting for victory, no high fives or fanfare. I was happy to see my family but I had to sit down, I just wanted to stop hurting. I left it all out there and it was all I could do to finish. I suppose that means you did it right. To do the whole race and have the wheels come off right at the end, I think that is the goal. This was a good race for me, I learned a lot, and I know I can do better.

The next race for me will be Augusta in September. That race will be at the height of my training for IM Florida, it will be a good tune-up and I think a confidence builder. I will knock some rust off and get a PB. My goal for that race is to go sub 5:00:00 That is an hour faster. I will be a better swimmer, cyclist, and a MUCH better runner. I will gain 30:00 min minimum on the run if all goes to plan.

This is a great race, I highly recommend this one. It is after all run on the IM Florida course.

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Ochsner Ironman 2012 Race Report

ochsner ironman start

Cold windy morning

When I woke up the morning of the race, I took everything out of my transition bag to visually confirm that I had everything I needed. I had already completed this ritual twice the night before. I visualized everything that I would possibly need and carefully placed it in the bag in the most logical order.

After my last disaster with the chip, (I took it off in T1 because I thought it was only for the swim) I made sure I had the chip. I used a safety pin to secure it.  I headed out to the race sight confident that I had everything I needed. ::FORESHADOWING::

I arrived to the race site and the 25mph winds were surprisingly very chili. I was thinking how great it would have been to have a jacket in my transition bag. This will be the last race I do that I wont have a jacket packed. The sun was still down and upon looking at the condition of the water I was certain the race officials made the right call in cancelling the swim.

I got to my bike and started to prepare my transition area when, son of a b*tc# I forgot my water bottles that were pre filled with my Carbo-Pro calorie enhanced Gatorade mix. I trained on this stuff and I had the calories counted to perfection. SNAP! Quick phone call in desperation to see if my wife could maybe bring it to me. The call did not sound promising that I would see it. I made alternate plans to just use some GU gels instead. I did not train with the GU so I was afraid I might get Runners Trots. Oh well. This is when I realized that before my next Tri I will make up a checklist and follow it to the Letter. Man there is so much crap to remember!

Kestrel Talon Tri bike without my bottles

They replaced the swim with a 2 mile run. This was started by the original wave order, it was a stagger start 2 by 2’s until the next wave went. I went out with an easy pace of 8:30 a mile. I just wanted to get to my bike and be as fresh as possible. My mother came to watch the event along with my nephew, my wife and kids. I was told that they would try to find me after the run, before I went into transition and they would have my water bottles, I looked and they were not there. I was kind of bummed.


I came out of transition running my bike to the mounting line when I heard my name and my nephew popped out holding my water bottles. I didn’t care about the volunteer that was yelling at me to get on my bike, because I had my crap, and more importantly it made me feel loved.

The first 3 miles I was just getting used to being on the bike, I took it easy and didn’t go too fast, I started to pick it up the next ten miles, there was a strong cross wind the whole time, I powered on. We made a big right hand turn and the wind was at my back, I went up from 21 to 24 and it felt easy. The bike course then took us along an interstate exchange that was closed for the race. There was no protection from the wind here. For 5 miles I had 25mph winds directly at my back. I put the hammer down here. I was doing 32-36mph the whole five miles. I thought so this is what it feels like to be Lance Armstrong. Damn it must be nice to be Lance! Then a big left turn, more cross wind, many more miles, turn around, more cross wind, many more miles. I knew before going back down that interstate exchange that the five mile stretch I just flew down was going to suck. During my 32-36mph run, I passed the first Pros that were on the way back, I caught the look of pain and struggle on every pros face. I knew it would be tough. It was. I averaged 11-12mph on that portion of the bike.

I made the last turn and knew there were only 10 miles left. I cruised along passing people steadily as I did the whole bike leg. Every person I passed I had something positive to say, It may have been that I liked the color of their bike or I liked the jersey they had. I asked how they felt and said they looked good. I counted off how few miles were left, etc. I did this to almost every person I passed. This was hundreds of people. I told every police officer and volunteer thank you. I was feeling great on the bike. I felt strong and spread the good while I could. About four miles from the finish I caught my bike tires in a crack in the road and nearly went end over end. I recovered but lost a water bottle. Price of admission I suppose. So thankful I didn’t eat it, or get a flat.

Despite having 25mph winds on the bike course I was able to average 21.2mph on my bike split. I’ll take it!


On the way to the finish

As soon as I got off the bike I put my shoes on and took off toward the run out sign. On the second step I took on my left knee I knew there was going to be trouble. I was trying to tell myself that these were phantom pains and that they weren’t really an issue. I ran through it for about ¼ mile. The pain was too much and I had to walk. I tried to gimp along as I could and when the pain was too much I would walk. It was either a painful slow limp run, or a relatively pain free walk.

Since I was able to have an above average bike split, I passed hundreds of people. As I said earlier I was kind and encouraging, and complimentary to every person I passed. I felt great and I wanted to lift these people up since I felt so good. It was heartbreaking to let all these people pass me that I worked so hard to pass on the bike. It nearly broke my spirit and I hung my head. Then the unexpected happened. Many of the people I complimented, and was kind to on the bike recognized me, and saw I was struggling, a few people offered things that they were carrying such as salt pills, gu gels, all sorts of food. I had suggestions, and the kindness just came back. I was still struggling and in pain but they wouldn’t let me hang my head.

A friend of mine told me that when he did a 70.3 he could not wait to get to the aid stations on the run so that he could have some coke. I thought this was insane at the time, he went on to explain that coke is perfect for this type of event because it has everything your body needs, Carbs, sodium, caffeine. I think the caffeine is a bonus. I thought I would give this a shot. I walk ran to each aid station, at each station I had a coke.

As I struggled with my walk run I was getting passed by so many athletes and it was killing my spirit. I noticed a guy that was about 150 yards ahead of me. He was walking and running at about my same pace. I thought if I can catch him maybe we can hurt through this thing together. I made the painful 150 yard run to catch him. This was the best decision of my race.

This guy was about 6’7”, clearly in pain and really a cool guy. I told him I noticed it looked like he was struggling and confessed that I was really struggling as well. I asked him if we could struggle together, we did for about five miles together. He told me that in 2010 he weighed 425 pounds. His daughter told him that she was concerned for his health and that he was getting big. He lost the weight. He also struggles with arthritis in both knees. He has no cartilage left in either knee. He was grinding bone on bone. In order to even do the event he had six injections of artificial lubricant in his knees. I told him of my modest weight loss, and about my road to do the FL Ironman 2012. He smiled and said “ME TOO!” AWESOME! Look so I felt like quite a bit less of an Ironman, this guy is a stud.

Somewhere along the way around mile 5 I think the sodium in the cokes did something to ease the pain in my knee. That seems illogical. I thought the knee pain would just get worse and worse as the race went on. This is how it goes. But the pain went away. I actually hung in there with my boy offering my support for another mile, he told me not to hang back for him to go get my time. I gave him a fistacuff and went on. I told him we have to stay in touch, he said something inspirational and I nearly shed a tear.

I felt fairly strong and ran the rest of the race with a sub 9 minute mile. I was completely dead and every step was painful around mile 9. This was where mental toughness came in. I know I will do the full Ironman because I have always had an Ironwill. If I set my mind to something it is done. Earlier in the race my knee was hurting in a way that mental toughness can’t fix, aside from not stopping despite the pain. But this was different, my knee didn’t hurt, this time my body was trying to tell me that it was tired and wanted to quit. My legs were heavy and each step was painful. THAT’S ALL YOU GOT BODY? I don’t think so. RUN. The last five miles hurt but I didn’t blink. I finally have a good knee and I’m gonna pass some of these people again. My good will came back again, many people that I passed on the bike, then they passed me when I was walking and said something encouraging, I passed again on the run. I got some applause, and so many positive comments that it just helped me through the toughest part of the race. I had enough left for a sprint to the finish.

TIME: 5:34:19

Ochsner 70.3 Ironman Finisher

My 3yo daughter, my son, my wife, mother, and nephew came to the race. Afterward I was told that for about two hours my daughter was walking around playing in the grass clapping her hands and saying “go daddy go, go daddy go” over and over. When I saw them close to the finish, I picked up my daughter and gave her a kiss, I kissed my wife, and sprinted off to the finish. Shortly after the race my daughter pulled me to the side and asked me to bend down so she could tell me something. She said,”Daddy, you a Ironman” Ahhh that made my year. I didn’t see the need to clarify that this was “only a half” a perfect end to the race.

The proof is right there

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Ironman 70.3 Training Program April 2012

Oschner Ironman Training Plan

April 2012 Ironman 70.3 Training Plan

This was the final month of my training plan. In the next few weeks I will tie the entire plan together into one document. This month included my taper. I had a great race and the race report will follow.

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