Monday, April 30, 2007

Being "That Guy"

In a previous post, I made it abundantly clear that I have never been "That Guy." However, when it comes to endurance events at work, more and more people have come to view me as "That Guy." Experienced marathoner, you want "That Guy." Insane dude training for an Ironman? That Guy. Answers to training questions, or even a whole training program? That Guy. A training partner for those long sessions? That Guy.

It is wonderful that so many co-workers, family, and friends acknowledge the journey I have undertaken. The support, encouragement, and interest others have shown helps make the hard work that much more worthwhile. And it is awesome to see so many others express interest in different events after seeing the accomplishments of those of us who push ourselves to achieve our goals, whether it's walking a 5K or running a marathon.

Of course, being "That Guy" demands a lot of personal improvement, as well. Sometimes, supporting others in their efforts requires more flexibility than most Ironman training programs are designed to withstand. Completing a training run might mean flipping your bike and run days. Long runs interfere with swim sessions. And 90-minute runs turn into 4-hour LSD runs. And races that might never have been entered become mandatory training so you can run next to the first timer.

And painful as it is, this is one aspect of endurance athletics I will always cherish. Helping another achieve a goal they considered impossible is far more rewarding than any finish I've ever experienced. Bear in mind I haven't completed Ironman, yet. That might change.

The runs I completed this past weekend were longer and took more time than my training plan dictated. And they were somewhat slower than I would have run on my own. But they had benefits all their own. It helped my co-worker complete his longest run ever, and gave him the confidence to know he CAN finish a marathon three weeks from now. It helped a young man know that he CAN complete a 5K run two weeks from now.

And it helped an aspiring Ironman understand that 8-hour training weekends can be survived. That's an important bit of information I might not have without the help of others.

Friday, April 27, 2007

It Better Not Rain

The folks coordinating Ironman Louisville seem to have finished celebrating New Year. This is obvious from the release of the IM The Ville course maps which were promised early in the new year. Perhaps they meant the Chinese New Year!

There ARE a few issues with the course. Most notably, the swim. Late in 2006, e-mails from the race director suggested a point-to-point swim with the current. My impression of that, given a "right to left" flow of current would be:

Finish <--------------------------------------------------------------Start

If you check out the swim map, you'll note it looks a lot more like this:

Start >------------------->------------------->--------------------------->


Even though my degree is in finance, it seems pretty apparent to me that approximately 1.2 miles of this course will be upriver. Luckily, it is the first half. The IM The Ville site indicates it will be against a "slight current."

Well, I did some digging and came up with generally ambiguous information. If I'm reading everything correctly, we will be swimming ABOVE the McAlpine Locks (in the upper pool). This is good, as current there rarely exceeds 2 mph.

If, however, there is a good rain prior to race day, we could be in trouble. Then, it is quite possible for current to exceed 2 mph. Given that is about the pace I swim any given day, it could make for a LONG swim. Regardless, swimming upriver for 1.2 miles will significantly impact the estimate I will be using for swim time.

If anyone happens to be familiar with swimming this section of the river, any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.


Let me repeat that!


Sorry, I had a nice post nearly completed. Then, my computer decided that was an appropriate time to just randomly restart itself. Thanks, Microsoft, for writing such stable code. You continue to just NAIL these things and produce solid operating systems.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Near Disaster

Triathlon, by its very nature, is an individual sport. Though in the presence of hundreds, or even thousands of others, we race alone. In the water, we swim with little but our own thoughts. Well, that and the risk of the occassional slap upside the head. On the bike, drafting rules ensure we do the work ourselves. And on the run, we have to get inside ourselves to hide from the pain and fatigue of a long race.

So the opportunity to train with others is an often welcome change. Most Saturdays I run with a training partner who will be attempting his first marathon in less than four weeks. Today, we decided to add a bike to that training. That required a bit of planning and a deviation from the normal process. All of the gear for the day's training was packed and put in the car, last night. The bike was pulled back off the trainer and put in the garage, ready for the car. Bottles of Gatorade and water were prepped and put with my feedbag in the refrigerator.

Since I wanted to get some strength training in, I decided to do my morning run at the YMCA, a nearly tragic decision. Training at the gym AND taking The Pol-R Express poses a bit of a security issue. Since I'm loathe to leave the bike on the rack for the 90 minutes I'm in the building, I decided to throw it in the back seat of the Camry.

That requires the front tire be removed.

So, I pulled the front tire, leaned it against the car so I wouldn't forget it, and threw the rest of the bike into the car. I made sure I had my pump, bags, breakfast, and ran into the garage to grab a few drinks. I tossed the drinks into the bag with my breakfast and backed out of the driveway.

This is the point where you might say something clever like, "Gee, Iron Pol, you didn't mention anything about putting that front tire in the car."

To which I would reply, "Golly, Timmy, you're right. And now would be a good time to start running faster than I can, strictly for safety reasons."

As I cleared the end of the driveway, I felt a lurch of the car and heard a loud crunchy kind of sound. I quickly stopped, wondering what I had just run over, as it isn't trash day. The answer to that question sort of wobbled into view, just to the front passenger side of the car. Oddly, it looked a bit like my wheel. Or, an awful LOT like my wheel.

I believe words to the nature of, "You DID NOT just run over your WHEEL" may have passed my lips. It may, in fact, have been something more colorful, including some clever references to the probable current location of my head, along with the desperate need for a plate glass stomach to facilitate seeing.

I jumped out and grabbed my wheel, hoping against hope there was no damage. I gave it a spin to see if it was obviously bent, and it seemed true. I checked for bent spokes, and saw none. I ran my hands around the entire wheel and felt no bents, dings, or protrusions. Though I have yet to throw it on the bike, it appears the wheel took the abuse well. (Whew!)

I put the wheel in the car. As I closed the door, I noticed something dangling from the front bumper. A quick investigation revealed that in the process of nearly running over my tire, I had ripped the entire side indicator/turn signal light fixture out of the car. The three brackets that held it there were completely broken.

I took the fixture off, threw it in the car, and headed to the gym, thankful that it was only the car that had been damaged. The ride is still on, and the bike is fine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


My sister has occassionally called into question my sanity. It began when the prospect of running a marathon first entered my mind. When I asked her to consider running the Chicago Marathon with me, she voiced her feelings on the matter.

In her mind, running is the most expedient way to stay in shape. She runs a 5K race every now and then. Anything above and beyond that is a sign of possible mental instability.

My registration for Ironman Louisville was, in her mind, the final piece of evidence in the verification process. Tacking 114.4 miles onto the day BEFORE completing a marathon and the training required to achieve that task make this an open and shut case. Obsessive. In a big way.

Well, I have bad news. There are even more symptoms. For example, consider the energy levels of people during training.

Night before last, I got a fairly good night's sleep. I got to bed in time to get about seven and a half hours sleep (though it was broken up by Monster Girl). I didn't have to train in the morning. Everything was on track for a great day. Yet I could barely keep my eyes open driving to work, and I felt sluggish, all day. When I got home, what I really wanted was a nap instead of the "dad time" and training I got.

Last night, after watching kids until after 9 p.m. (yes, at least one was awake until then), I hopped on the bike for a 75 minute spin on the trainer. Life then got in the way, and I didn't get into bed until after 11:30 p.m. That may as well be 3 a.m. for me, which, by the way, is when Monster Girl woke up screaming. After roughly four and a half hours sleep, I got up for my swim session and headed to work. Oddly, I am alert and feel better than when I go more sleep.

The difference? The training. Somewhere along the path to the insanity we call endurance sports, my body has become used to the training. Is it the endorphins so many talk about? I don't think so, as those are supposed to kick in DURING training. And I can definitely refute the presence of any such kick DURING long training or racing. Whatever it is, I do better after training, regardless of the quality of sleep.

If attempting an Ironman puts one into the "questionable sanity" category, where does "needs training to function" land them?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Smoky and the Bandit

Recent posts about Jacob Seilheimer running the Boston Marathon have resulted in some interesting discussion, though much of it happened via e-mail rather than blog comments. Much of that discussion focused on his completing the race without having qualifying and registering for the race. For many, the idea that others bandit races is disturbing.

It is a topic worth discussing, because there are a great many views on the subject. Never one to shy away from a controversial issue, I'll take a crack at addressing it.

For some, the concern is that bandits "steal" resources from the race. As bandits don't pay entry fees, anything they use on race day is paid for by someone else. This can include drinks, gels, paid and volunteer workers on the course, etc. Those who make this argument believe that everyone should pay their fare share.

The counter argument is that those resources are already there, and unless a bandit uses items that eventually result in a paid entrant NOT getting the support they need, the supposed harm is minimal. If a bandit drinks even 12-15 cups of Gatorade, the cost is minimal, given it would have been thrown out, anyway.

Another concern offered is that bandits somehow diminish the value of the race. The event is set up for serious athletes who are willing to at least put their name on the dotted line. Bandits have little invested in the race and distract from its nature.

The response to this argument tends to be that bandits have many reasons for opting out of signing up. Sometimes there is the cost. Other times there are other motives for running the race and paying to enter is counterproductive. Sometimes, runners just like supported training runs. While some bandits might somehow diminish the value of the race, others contribute to the event in their own way.

A third objection is that bandits, being unregistered, represent a risk to the race director and sponsor. If they were to be injured while running the race, the event would be at risk of a lawsuit. As the runner never signed a consent and release form, they can hold the race officials liable for any injury incurred. Many events are non-profit, and the risk of litigation poses a real and significant threat.

Others would counter that anyone running on the course without a registration would have no right to hold the race responsible for any injuries incurred on the course. They have no consent and liability form because they have no hold against the event. They are private individuals using public property for their exercise. If this argument is allowed in order to limit bandits from running the entire race, it would also have to be applied to any and all public traffic on the course. Just as spectators wouldn't have a valid claim if they twist their ankle running across the race course, bandits wouldn't have a valid claim if they are injured while running. Most would argue that any successful lawsuit of this nature is sign of a flawed judicial system.

One of the comments on Jacob's site indicated that Jacob hadn't, in fact, run the Boston Marathon. What he had done was completed a 26.2 mile run along the same route on the same day. In fact, it should be noted that many of the pictures on his site show him running on the sidewalk. If he had completed the journey in a more timely manner, would it make any difference? As an unregistered runner, he would have basically been doing a supported, well attended, widely broadcast training run.

On the other hand, do athletes have the right to expect that the person running next to them is a registered participant. What responsibility to we have to self-police ourselves? Is running as a bandit akin to cheating? After all, it is unacceptable to transfer bib numbers (unless allowed by the event directors). How would we respond if someone earned a slot at Kona in the 40-49 age group when they were 38?

Or is banditing something completely different?

Please share your thoughts. Keep in mind that while we may feel passionately about the subject, this is a friendly discussion and the opinions of others should be honored, regardless of agreement. Let the debate begin.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coffee, Tea, or... Gatorade?

Swim. Bike. Run. Nutrition? It is said that nutrition is the fourth discipline of triathlon, and in few races is that so visible as it is in Ironman. The time spent completing an IM distance race makes proper nutrition a necessity.

For many, it is also the most difficult discipline. And for first timers, it is admittedly a crapshoot. While we use long training sessions and other races as test cases for what to do on IM race day, it is impossible to simulate the magnitude of completing an Ironman. It must be done.

Reading some of the race reports, I'm getting a better feel for the challenges that may develop on August 26th in Louisville. Those under Coach Mike's tutelage got an advance copy of his race report from Ironman Arizona. It is quite obvious from his report that nutrition can quickly overshadow just about any other challenge.

Mike commented about difficulties staying on course in the swim for two major issues. First, his goggles were leaking and kept filling up with water. Second, he apparently lost a contact somewhere along the way. Those two issues combined to cause Mike to miss his swim goal (of 57:30), by a WHOLE three minutes. (Just for the record, leaky goggles would slow me down a WHOLE lot more).

The wind in Arizona was another huge factor. Particularly on the bike. Mike has set a bike goal of 5:20, an aggressive 10 minutes faster than his previous best bike. Despite the conditions, Mike finished in 5:35, his third best bike time in an IM race.

But Mike's own comments touch on the fourth discipline of triathlon. The balance between caloric intake, hydration, and power output is very fine, indeed. The simple difference of a bit of water can have a huge impact on a race. In this case, Mike indicated that his solid food intake called for more fluids than he was able to get his hands on. As food became less palatable, his caloric intake fell, and power went with it. By the end of the bike, he knew that the run would be a struggle. To his credit, Mike ponied up and completed the race. Again, for the record, while short of his target marathon time, Mike's sub-4:30 marathon is very impressive.

Nutrition has always been more of an afterthought, for me. Throw a few gels into the running pack. Water, Gatorade? Whatever's handy. Going for a bike? Grab a Clif Bar or a banana. Get a couple bottles of whatever's available and get out the door. Forget everything? No biggie, even a marathon can be completed on just water or Gatorade.

That mentality? Well, it's just got to go. That kind of thinking will earn me a bed right next to Commodore. Only I'll have nothing to blame except myself. So, it's time for some research, and you can all add your two cents worth.

As a marathoner, I'm used to gels (I use Gu) and Gatorade. On long rides, I've been carrying Clif Bars, Gatorade, and water. Mike's comments hinted that purely liquid calories may be a better option. The question will come down to what will meet my needs on race day. If I can handle solid food, am I better off with that? Or am I better off going all liquid for ease?

One thing is certain. I have less than 100 days to sort it out, because after that, I won't have time to test things out. And after my first triathlon, I learned not to use ANYTHING new on race day.

*Side note* While looking for the post on my first triathlon, I came across the post about my first mile swim. Two things caught my eye. First, my feelings about a 1760 yard swim at that time. I called it a miracle mile. Second, the pace I mentioned, 2:45/100 yards. Less than 12 months later, a 2000 yard swim is an easy session. And if I see 2:45, I know I forgot to hit my lap counter.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breaking 130

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin', into the future...

That clock is merciless. It just keeps counting down, oblivious to the feelings of those who look at it every day. Time is like that. It slows for nobody. Well, unless you have the resources to push yourself to something much closer to the speed of light than any of us will achieve on our bikes.

And training continues. This morning, there was an aligning of the stars as my workout and the plans of the Wednesday morning group were frighteningly similar. Swim 200s at race pace. As we were all in the same lane, anyway, it worked out well. The first discussions were about doing the sets on 3:45. Another guy saved me from having to humble myself by questioning that pace. So, they decided on 4:00. Which was a PERFECT pace.

If that was the pace they actually swam.

On the first interval, I came in at 3:20. And I was the caboose. Now, unless they were INCLUDING the rest interval in their calculations, having the slowest swimmer achieve an unheard of pace of 3:20/200 yards is a far cry from 4:00. Luckily, the pace slowed on the second set. Of course, 3:30 isn't that much slower.

I figured I'd get a break on the third set, since the guy who originally questioned 3:45 would be leading. It was only then that I realized he was wearing SWIM FINS. My head nearly exploded. That HAS to violate some kind of swim group ethics. Isn't there a rule that says it's impolite to KILL another swimmer by setting pace while wearing fins? On the fourth set, I realized the guy who led the first set was using a pull bouy.

I skipped the fifth set out of protest.

I led the last two sets. It seems the onset of cranial pyrotechnics is beneficial to my swim. I managed to maintain the 1:45 pace, and on the final set swam 1:34 for the first 100. That was, of course, followed by a 2:03 on the next 100. Still, I almost fell out of the pool when I saw the 1:34. And falling out of a pool is a real trick.

Next time I think about swimming intervals with this crew, I plan on throwing the match by pulling up with a hamstring injury. And no, I don't care that hamstring injuries aren't all that common in the pool. That's what I'm going with.

On a side note, remember to use caution as you get your bikes out onto the road. My brother-in-law got to spend most of the last two days in the hospital thanks to an inattentive driver. He was on his motorcycle when a driver nearly t-boned him. He managed to avoid that accident, but slammed into a second car at 40 mph. That two separate drivers failed to acknowledge another vehicle with the right of way is frightening. A fractured wrist and some severe soft tissue damage later, he'll be okay.

Just keep in mind that many drivers are unable to see anything smaller than an SUV when driving. Be safe on the roads so we can all make it to our races.


Several others have posted on Jacob who bandited the Boston Marathon. To quote him, "I, Jacob Seilheimer, completed the Boston Marathon...DEAD LAST.And I'm damn proud of it."

This story is definitely worth reading, and Jacob is definitely worthy of being called by the title he earned. Marathoner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Just about anyone ever completing training for an Ironman knows that sleep quickly becomes a limited resource. The "just about" is for those people who attempt IM distance races without really training. For the rest of us, most mornings start in the dark hours of the morning as we complete our first training sessions of the day.

So sleep time is something I've come to value. I do everything I can to get to bed early and get some quality rest. Of course, any parent with toddlers can confirm that best intentions are fairly meaningless when little ones determine that sleep time is over.

My day started out in just that manner. B-Boy and Monster Girl joined forces. Kind of like the Wonder Twins from the 1980s. "Wonder Toddler powers activate."

"Shape of... a three year old with the head of a bull." "Form of an 18-month old coughing like an 80-year old smoker." B-Boy started things out when he started squawking for my wife. She got up to see what he needed, and was promptly TOLD to get daddy, but not before the baby was woke up. Mrs. Pol was more than happy to let me deal with the issue, and headed back to bed, taking her daughter with her.

Me? I got to deal with a son who took off his wet pull-up, then refused to put on a new one. That took the better part of 30 minutes to resolve. I didn't have the heart to let him sit in the bathroom all night, regardless of what I might have told him. Thirty minutes later, Monster Girl took over as her cough was keeping her awake. Apparently, she figured somebody (pronounced Dad, in our house) should be awake with her. In her normal fashion, she fell asleep right about the time I headed out the door for training.

Ahhhh, the life of Ironman training.

Monday, April 16, 2007

From Tempe to Boston

With the excitement of Ironman Arizona barely in the bag, we turn to the Boston Marathon. While I'm sure there are others out there, I know of one tri-blogger who is running the race, today. And one thing is certain. The winds that plagued participants at IM Arizona continued their journey and now harass those in Boston.

None other than TriBoomer was invited to run the Boston Marathon in recognition of his efforts at raising money to fight bloodborne cancers. He is wearing bib number 24923, and you can track his progress here. As of this writing, Boomer has been tracked through 10K in a time of 1:08.

I'm hoping their tracking is delayed, as the race has been in progress for nearly two and a half hours, at this point. Given his pace, Boomer should have been beyond the 15K point, if not past 20K. Of course, the conditions are far from conducive to marathoning, with temps in the low 50s, winds gusting to 50 mph, and sideways rain.

*Already an update: Boomer has passed the 15K point in 1:42:10, maintaining 10-11 minute miles.

*Update two: While far from real time, Boomer has been sighted passing the 30K checkpoint in 3:50. He is on pace for about 5:25, and we can only hope the weather has broke so he can at least dry out while he's running.

*Boomer is nearing the end. Given the lag in time, he may be done. The last checkpoint he passed was the 40K point, in 5:24. Given that pace, he should be getting awfully close to the finish line.

Here is a late addition, and a horrible oversight. George Schweitzer, endurance athlete extraordinaire, also raced in Boston, today. In addition to finishing the race, he tore it up. He finished in 2:50:17 with an average pace of 6:30/mile. Not bad given the wind and the rain. I don't know if that's a marathon PR for George, but I believe it is his first time running Boston. That was good enough for 366 overall, 280 in his division. Congratulations to him on a fine race!

Boomer accomplished a lot simply being invited to run this race. Keep checking back to see how he is doing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

One is Done

Congratulations to Coach Mike who has completed another Ironman race. He tore up the bike, averaging 20 mph over the 112 mile course. He went out hard on the run, and seems to have run into some issues over the last 8 miles or so. Having never completed an IM distance race, myself, I'm inclined to say "Who doesn't." In all, he completed the race in what I consider blazing fast speed, with a total time of 11:15:59.

Commodore is on the run course, and I will be sending positive vibes toward Tempe. He completed the bike in just over 8 hours, and the athlete tracker has yet to show a time for the first split at the 8.8 mile point of the run. With his bike and swim times, he is left with about 7 hours to complete the run. Send Commodore all the positive energy you can. With the health issues he's been battling, he can use anything we send his way.

Early Results

For those who aren't following the links, Commodore and Mike are both on the bike. Mike proved what time in the pool is worth, completing the 2.4 mile swim in just under 1 hour and 2 minutes. Commodore made a HUGE gain from Ironman Florida, completing the swim in 1 hour 44 minutes. For the record, that is an improvement of 21 minutes.

As of this post, Mike had gotten through the 37 mile checkpoint of the bike in 1:44 for a pace of just over 21 mph. That's moving. Commodore's tracker hasn't updated with that time, as yet.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good Luck!

At least two important people from my life will be toeing the line at Ironman Arizona on Sunday. For tracking purposes, the links to their Athlete Tracker pages are shown here. Best of luck to Comms and Coach Mike.

Comm's Athlete Tracker page

Coach Mike's Athlete Tracker page

I will also try and update as I find out information. Most of it will be publicly available, so nothing will be breaking. I'll also be out for Mrs. Pol's birthday dinner, so there might be some gaps.

Good luck to both of you, and to anyone I may have missed!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Passing the Torch

It's amazing how perspectives can change in a short period of time. Twelve months ago, I was ALMOST to the point of swimming freestyle after months of TI drills. Swim workouts were measured in time because it seemed pointless to record swimming 200 yards. My training logs show the first recorded yardage in May, and those were 500-700 yard swims.

In May of last year I broke out my bike and started training on the road. Of course, my steed at that time was a lower end Giant mountain bike, all 35 pounds of it. Still, I hit the roads with a vengeance and logged some rides as long as 15 miles by the time my first race in June rolled around.

By that time, I had purchased my beloved Pol-R Express, and quickly ramped up to 40-50 mile rides. Training through June and July gave me the confidence to complete an Olympic distance triathlon in August, though I still felt distant from much of the triathlon community. While I had certainly invested some time and money, I just didn't feel "triathletey." (I'm fairly certain I just coined that term, so if you take it and make millions of dollars, please remember the little people).

I knew triathletes. They were the ones with all the stories about big races, long races, and lots of races. They wore their club gear at all the meetings and rides. They had months and months of blog entries about their training and racing. They knew all the pros, and had even met many of them. Me, I was just hanging out in their space. I wasn't REALLY a triathlete. Normally a loud and talkative person, I clammed up around real triathletes.

Then, I completed two triathlons in three weeks. The second was at the invitation of a co-worker running his first triathlon. Suddenly, I was the one who "knew everything." I'd been there. I'd set up transition areas. I'd seen wave starts and knew how to avoid the worst of the beating in the water. I understood how frantic you can be going from swim to bike and bike to run. And while I didn't really know all that much, my friend listened to everything I said.

Then Ironman Louisville became a reality, and I jumped feet first into the fray. Though it took me nearly three years to make the jump from half to full marathon, the journey from novice to Ironman was given 18 short months. The change from "wannabe" to triathlete took much less time.

Now, I hope I can be as motivational for all the fledgling triathletes as others have been for me. I try to make sure struggling swimmers understand that 12 months ago, I could barely swim 500 yards. When others cringe at the idea of biking 20 miles, I point out that my first rides, less than a year ago, were only 5 to 10 miles. And running is something that I continue to improve at as I head into my fifth marathon.

Triathlon has something for everyone. If you're new to endurance sports, remember that sprint distance races can be as short as 15 miles, including the bike and run. Often, the swim is in water so shallow the entire distance can be walked, if the need arises. And regardless of the distance, completing any event makes every competitor a winner. As you complete races, the feeling of being an "outsider" will pass. People will start to recognize you.

And they'll know you're a triathlete. Then, you too, can pass the torch.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Well, after a long hiatus out of my office, I'm back at my desk. The past few weeks have been spent working closely with a few co-workers as we resolved some issues that were both caused and identified by our company's new business system. Talk about a double edged sword. Regardless, most of the challenges have been overcome, and we can get back to a more normal daily process.

Now, if I can convince Mother Nature to get back to normal, my training will be much more effective. In a simple twist of irony, the week after global warming alarmists released their apocalyptic report on the state of the planet, this part of the country has gone into yet another week of record cold temperatures. Add to that the snowstorms we've been experiencing, and training has been a hoot.

Saturday was an 18 miler as part of my co-worker's training for his first marathon. I awoke that morning to temps in the high teens, 15 mile an hour winds, and an inch of new snow. The decision was made to do the run, mostly because my co-worker liked that option better than the "swim for an hour then run 10 miles" alternative I offered.

Easter was clear and cold. At least most of the snow had melted off, though we kept the kids indoors for egg hunting. I also paid the price on my 3-hour training ride. Temps in the low 20s led me to complete the ride indoors, as well. Monday, we got more snow. More biking inside. And the outlook is more of the same. Record low temperatures. Additional snow. More television viewed while on the trainer.

The training hours are starting to rack up. Mileage and yardage are starting to accumulate. And if I can ever get my bike off the trainer, I'll start laying down some serious biking mileage, as well. And with the countdown timer well under 140 (when did THAT happen?), things will only start ramping up. Less than seven weeks until double digits.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

One Long Swim

Congratulations Martin Strel

While few could relate to even the desire to attempt such a feat, Martin Strel has successfully swam the entire length of the Amazon River. The endurance swimmer who previously completed swims of the Danube, Missippi, and Yangtze Rivers began his quest to conquer the Amazon on February 1.

And for those of us who marvel at our own "crazy" yardage by considering the mileage we have completed in the pool, Martin Strel is truly amazing. His daily yardage averaged nearly as much as I have completed this entire year, and I like to think I've logged a lot of hours in the pool. Averaging 50 miles per day, Strel faced a great many challenges in mind, body, and environment.

Though his accomplishments are perhaps a bit extreme for many of us, Strel is still an inspiration role model for endurance swimmers. He establishes a goal, trains to achieve that goal, and overcomes the challenges and gremlins that stand in his way.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Two and Under

"Two and Under" is a phrase many parents like to hear. Especially when it is followed by the even better phrase "eat (stay/ride/play/etc) free." Any parent can tell you that paying anything for a toddler to eat is pretty much liking throwing money on the roullette table. A pure gamble. Perhaps you get your money's worth, perhaps you lose big.

Today, I experienced another wonderful "two and under." Only this time, it came in the pool during a time trial. Part of Coach Mike's program is regular time trials to gauge performance and improvement. This is the third or fourth time trial I've completed, and each has held big suprises.

Today's was huge, in Iron Pol terms. For the first time, I averaged under 2 minutes per 100 yards. I completed a total of 1075 yards in 21 minutes, 20 seconds. In addition to breaking 2 minutes average, I managed to keep every 4-lap set under 2 minutes (our pool is 24.4 yards). In the past, early lengths have been a bit under 2 minutes and later lengths fell well over that pace. Today, there was only 6 seconds between the fastest and slowest 100 yard sets.

Now some might look at that pace and know it is, by comparison, pokey. At the same time, they would acknowledge the HUGE improvements from just a few short months ago. While I am a long way from keeping up with many of them because of their dolphin like movement through the water, I am pleased with my progress. It turns out that "Under Two" is, in fact, possible in the pool.

For those of you out there struggling with the swim, I invite you to look at my prior posts about swimming. You will quickly learn that swimming is truly my weak discipline. You will also note that things like "2m 30s/100 yards" and "will never swim under 2m/100 yards" were common threads. As with every discipline, training and experience have paid huge dividends. The simple act of putting the yardage in has led to these improvements. No former US Olympic coach in the pool with me. No hours plodding through drills. Just swimming the sets assigned by my coach. Who, by the way, has posted his own comments about improving your swim.

Under Two. Who'd have thought it possible?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


So, today's training called for a 4000 yard swim with no rest intervals. I guess it could basically be called an Ironman swim. Okay, it's off by a couple hundred yards. Yes, those couple hundred yards are very important (and challenging). Still, in the grander scheme of things, 4000 yards may as well be an IM swim.

Completing this kind of swim calls for close planning on my part. With my pace averaging around 2:00/100 yards and the knowledge that it probably WON'T be 2:00/100 yards after about 3000 yards are completed, timing is everything. Forty 100-yard lengths. Two minutes per 100. That's 80 minutes in a perfect world. Start swimming at 5:10 a.m. Finish at 6:30 (in that same perfect world). That leaves less than an hour to shower, dress, and drive the 25 miles to the office. Like I said, planning is essential.

I was quick on the draw, this morning. I got to the pool a few minutes early and was in the pool by 5:05. I hit the water right away and started the 400 yard warmup. By the end of that warmup, I knew I was in trouble. Even with my lowly swimming skills, it usually takes way more than 400 yards to have me feeling fatigued. Not today. With more than 2 miles left to swim, I was already feeling it.

A quick review of the past 24 hours provides two likely culprits. One is unavoidable. Monster Girl didn't sleep very well, last night. The 5.5 hours of sleep I counted is being generous. That was all broken up. Even so, I've trained on far less, far worse sleep. Perhaps it was something else.

Like the strength session that was scheduled for AFTER the swim. The one that I moved to 12 hours BEFORE the swim, because timing would otherwise preclude getting the session completed. The one that had me feeling it as I headed home. The one that turned my arms and legs to mush. But still, it MIGHT have been the sleep. So I'm holding Monster Girl responsible. Since she's only 16 months old, she probably won't care. And it will give her something to hold against me when I'm old and forgetful and she's taking care of me.

Still, just to be safe, avoid putting a strength workout right before a breakthrough swim session. Well, unless you want something to keep you humble. Getting to 3700 yards and having to call it a day is frustrating. And yes, I DO question my sanity. A few months back, cutting a 750 yard session short by 300 yards wouldn't have bugged me, at all. Today, missing 300 yards on my long swim drives me batty. Especially when it's simply because it's because I swam slower than usual because of a moved workout. That will keep me humble for a while.