time going fast

Well here it is Tuesday already, time rolling by quickly, as the schedule is going to start to get busy tomorrow (Wednesday) with registration, Iron Daughter picking up her bike that was transported down, a 45 min bike / 20 min run, and dinner with the Endurance Nation group…and a more or less ‘normal’ work schedule squeezed in…

Had another swim today in pristine conditions…45 minutes, practising ‘sighting’ more than anything else, and going out and back from the beach…some current today from left to right looking out at the ocean, so something that I need to be vigilant about.

Today my Heart Rate actually got up to 108 on the swim (from around 100 2 days ago) as I was feeling like a faster cadence was more comfortable…I don’t know that I was really travelling faster, but it still felt pretty efficient…and still a low Heart Rate, so all is good.

I’ll be posting my race plan in the next couple of days, once the weather forecast has enough detail to display hourly…I’ll use this to decide my final clothing and pace plan.

Overall, the race day weather still looks excellent…so all systems still GO 🙂

Posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Planning, Racing | Tagged | 3 Comments

another beautiful day in paradise

This morning, the conditions are virtually the same as yesterday…clear skies, calm Gulf waters, bit of a wind, and a little warmer…54F coming up to 8am…nice.

The forecast for race day, and the days around it still look great…high 70’sF in the afternoon…so it looks like it’s going to be a bit warm for the run, so will need to adjust down to a slower pace to compensate…low 50’s in the morning…clear skies…so far.

So first swim in the Gulf yesterday…I waited until later in the day to get a bit ‘rougher’ conditions than the morning glass…but the water was calm all day…a few ripples…but that was about it.

I forget just how clear the water is…beautiful…and very salty…great for bouyancy…bad for swallowing…water temperature was 74F…very nice.

Swam almost an hour, down the beach to the race venue, then a couple of laps from the beach, out to a marker buoy, and back to the beach and out again.  No real current at all that was discernable….very straightforward.

…there are jellyfish though…not a lot but did see a few…I’m not a marine life expert but I do know that from years past these tend to be the low/no stinging variety…not like those nasty man-o-war variety that created issues for Diana Nyad on her swim…so just to add some interest…a few schools of fish went slowly by…just a very pleasant swim in the Gulf.

I did wear my wetsuit and Heart Rate monitor…and new goggles…again…I’ve been having an issue with leaking goggles since I dropped those last few pounds…face contours seemed to have changed a bit…so I’ve gone back to Speedo Vanquisher’s…the older model…I get a bit of pressure on the nose bridge…but they fit the eyeball socket rather tightly…not comfortable…but didn’t leak yesterday, so that was good…tinted for the morning sun as it rises over the water.

So for almost an hour I was practising my stroke mechanics…working continously to dial in a relaxed form…as you can see by my Heart Rate graph, I’m definitely relaxed…when swimming, just under 1oo Heart Rate…the ‘peaks’ where it went slightly higher were actually when I was getting out of the water onto the beach for those couple of laps out to the buoy and back.

…almost too funny at the low level of effort…I am moving…I can see the sandy bottom going by…and you know, if I’m out there for 1:30-1:40 with a 100 Heart Rate to start my day…instead of 10 minutes faster with a 120-130 Heart Rate…I’ll take the relaxed start, and save the heart beats for the rest of the day

…of course, if I was 10-15 minutes faster _and_ a nice relaxed Heart Rate…I’d have an ideal swim…not this year…but maybe some day…as it turns out, if I add a lot more effort right now, I’m just not translating it into enough extra speed to make enough of a difference…so slow, steady, and ‘pretty’ I go 🙂

…and on race day, my Heart Rate tends to run a lot higher…so it’ll be interesting to see the difference

…and I followed the swim with an hour on the bike…once again to dial in my race day power and see what my Heart Rate is coming out of the transition area for comparative race day purposes

…191 Watts out of transition with a 115’ish Heart Rate…made the turnaround, moved it up to 198 Watts, and peak heart rate just under 120HR…so right on the numbers…even a bit lower than it’s been…19.2MPH going out…19.5MPH coming back…bit of a crosswind

…very nice ‘numbers’

If this were a space shuttle launch, at this very moment, it would be all systems Go

Finished the day with a drive down the beach to a favorite rooftop bar to watch the sunset with IronDaughter

…lovely dinner, down the road at a great restaurant…catching up on conversation

…priceless 🙂

Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Swimming | Tagged , | 2 Comments

beautiful day at Panama City Beach!

What a beautiful Sunday morning at the Ironman Florida race venue!

Looking up the beach towards the Ironman swim course, we see flat seas, a bit of wind on the flag, 49F so a bit of chill in the air, but a gorgeous morning.

…if today were Ironman, we’d all be thanking our lucky stars 🙂

Still too early to really get an idea of the weather 1 week away…particularly the surf conditions, but right now it looks great.

There were a couple of swimmers in the water this morning, moving their way slowly up the shoreline…that’ll be me later this morning for a scheduled 1 hour swim and 1 hour on the bike to dust off everything from travel yesterday.

My drive was uneventful…the best type…actually only took 9 hours including stops with Interstate traffic moving briskly most of the way.  When I drive I don’t like to stop…I just like to get there…so I took advantage of not having any passengers with a dissenting view…only one, 5 minute stop for gas, and then 20 minutes for groceries when I got into Panama City Beach…and there in time to see the sunset off the balcony of the condo…nice 🙂

It took me about an hour to get all my ‘stuff’ from the SUV, unpacked, groceries in and put away…cooked a lovely dinner featuring a tenderloin, salmon filet, and a couple of Fire Rock Pale Ale, looking at the ocean…and then went to pickup IronDaughter at the airport for her 10pm arrival.

Her flights were on time…bags arrived with her…so everything that you could ask of a travel day.

So here we are less than a week away from the BIG day.

Luckily wherever I’m sitting with my computer, an Internet connection, and phone, I can work seamlessly in any location…here I am setup with my second monitor, complete with ocean views and lobster decor…I usually use 4 monitors…I have the other 2 with me if I need them for more screen real estate to work with.

…’hopefully’ I’ll have a relaxed work week…email in the morning, but no specific meetings scheduled….I have a number of projects that I’d like to complete, get in a bit of training to keep the legs firing and ready, 3 swims in the Gulf, some quality time with IronDaughter…and as we get closer to the weekend, catchup with Iron friends as they start to roll into town.

IronDaughter has a couple of friends driving down from Toronto late in the week to join us for the race day and the weekend, so that’ll be a great addition to the festivities

…so add that all to the excitement and buzz of over 2,500 Ironman athletes in town, a fun, fun time

The rest is really up to Fortuna…our goddess of fate…everyone staying healthy…perfect conditions on race day

…by this time next week hopefully we’ll be having our morning coffee, looking at the ocean, grinning, and chattering incessantly about the great race day 🙂

Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Racing | Tagged | 3 Comments

One week to go…off to Florida!

That 10 hour drive always seems _really_ looooong…the best part about driving though, is that I can just throw piles of my ‘stuff’ into plastic bins, load it into the SUV, and drive down the road…with 4 times more than I really need…but who cares 🙂

Considering that the Ironman for me has been around a 13 hour experience, the enormity of the task always strikes me on the drive…particularly on the drive back

…how is it possible for a human to propel themselves by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running 26.2 miles…for 13 hours?

…but 1 week from today that’s exactly what we set out to do…

…absolutely amazing 🙂

Posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Racing | Tagged , | 8 Comments

cramped week

short post…cramped week

…bike…training…wife…work…did that in alphabetical order 🙂

…my bike issue, although a happy ending, added some time pressure into this week…today I went to see Bruce Guild in Mooresville who had originally set me up with a Retul fit on my now defunct Cervelo

…since the frame crack was at the seat post I had a question about whether the seat had moved…and since I’ve been on the new Cobb V-Flow Plus saddle over the past 4 weeks, we’ve been tweaking it a bit to get it just right

…now on a new frame, I was interested to see what my fit looked like…now only 1 week out from Ironman not the best time to be playing with things…but here we are…_much_ better than trying to get my road bike setup correctly 🙂

…turns out we lowered the saddle a hair from where it was measured on my old frame…it does feel a bit different…rode 25 miles on it today…would have probably been nice to have a few 100 miles in the ‘final’ position…but here we are…1 week out…gears shifting a bit noisy, so I’ll put on another 20 miles tomorrow, have Cool Breeze take a quick look for a final adjustments, and then be done…well a 1 hour brick run just so that I don’t forget some of the final taper pieces in all the excitement

…so that’s it…ready to go

…well, not really ready to go…today was my packing day…that got shredded…so tomorrow (Friday) becomes an ultra-compressed day

…of course the smart news is that it’s compressed because I’m driving to Florida on Saturday, 1 week ahead of Ironman…so time to de-compress 🙂

…I pick up IronDaughter at the Panama City airport late Saturday night, swim in the Gulf on Sunday…and then wind it down/wind it up for the BIG day just over 1 week away

…oh yeah…the time period when _everyone_ is in angst about the weather and water conditions in the Gulf…I’ll setup a one-stop-shopping link to all the weather stuff once I get down there

…and yes…open house party at our condo on Thursday at 3pm at the Summit…walk over from there to the Athlete’s Banquet at 5pm…details coming, but if you’re down there, please put it on the calendar…of course we’re around all week, so for those other early arrivals, drop me a note to get together…I’ll add detailed contact info into the Charleston Area Ironman Florida 2011 Group, so go ahead and sign in if you haven’t already

…fun 🙂

Posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida | Tagged , | 1 Comment

New Cervelo P2…sweet ride!

So there it is…2 days after a frame crack is discovered in my former Cervelo P2C

…there’s a brand new one in my ‘man cave’ 🙂

are you kidding me?!?

There is very little in the books about that level of customer service.

So it comes down to people…and companies being ready to respond and react and putting their people in a position to respond and react to what they see on the ground…

Both Cervelo and Cool Breeze Cyclery are such companies….here’s how I know…

On Monday morning at Cool Breeze Cyclery, I took my bike in for what should have been a routine race-ready 2’ish day turnaround on my well maintained Cervelo P2C…they always put the bike in a stand and take a look to see if there’s anything obviously wrong…typically check the chain with a measuring tool…the ‘walkaround’ to make sure that they can get an approval right there on anything glaring

…excellent idea…if I had just wheeled it in, they write it up and put it in a corner to get to it later, this story may not have had a happy ending, as my ‘problem’ would have been discovered 1-2 days later…much tougher timing at that point

…so kudos to Cool Breeze Cyclery and their standard procedure of checking out the bike, the moment that you bring it in

‘Service’ John (there’s ‘Sales’ John as well) was busy with a customer, so one of the mechanics that’s worked on my bike before was about to put it in the stand, saw the crack in the top tube, pulled the seat out, and declared that the bike was toast.

John circled back in, agreed that the frame was done, re-confirmed my race dates/going to Florida date…this Saturday…suitable ‘geez’…we discussed a few of the options now that I no longer had a bike…he would need to talk with Cervelo to see what could be done

I like Cool Breeze Cyclery, and John in particular…I was glad to see him there when I walked into the store…even more glad as I was walking out 🙂

So I started to work on my alternative plans for a bike in case the Cervelo solution didn’t work out.

…a bit disheveled I added a blog post on Monday afternoon:

IronDaughter, the social networking rock star in the family, ‘tweeted’ Cervelo about my new issue, referring to my blog post

She received a rapid response back, and ‘Peter’ added a comment back into our blog…as it turns out Peter handles ‘social media’ for Cervelo…he followed up with an email to get my contact information and forwarded it to David Byers in the warranty department at Cervelo

…are you kidding me?!? …a company that has someone that specifically responds to social media…instantly…this all within a few hours of the initial discovery of an issue

…of particular note was that IronDaughter had added her comment to their Twitter account…for all to see…could be a bit dicey to have an unhappy customer ranting on your Twitter account…of course, social media is there for all to see…so you need to be ready to deal with ‘stuff’ as it comes up…Peter’s comment into my blog post was in part:

…most companies are not wild about handling warranty issues on FB or Twitter

…and a follow-up email directly to me to get the issue into the warranty department…so, nice touch…communicate rapidly, get things into the right channels…

I don’t know Peter…we’ve only had a brief email exchange…what I do know is that he is a real pro at what he does…good job!

…so kudos on this one for Cervelo taking social media seriously…it gives you an idea of the depth of their focus on customer service, and covering all the bases…as IronDaughter did by sending the tweet in the first place 🙂

…how many companies are clueless about the new levels of communication that drive customers into the arms of those that do take it seriously

David from Cervelo replied the next morning…Tuesday…to say that he had looked into it, and that John and Cervelo had already worked out an agreement on how to get me a new bike.

…are you kidding me?!?

A drop in to John when they opened confirmed that I’d be on a new bike the next day…Wednesday…today…unbelievable…

An entire university course could be written on what Cool Breeze Cyclery and Cervelo did to put their people in a position to deliver this level of customer service…and then the tricky part, to have the right people in the right positions with the right authority to deliver.

These are two companies that have that figured out…

I feel a strong need to vent and expound about what other companies could learn from this small story…but I won’t…you know the companies that give you great service…and that’s why you go back to them

…and if you don’t know Cool Breeze Cyclery and Cervelo…add them to your list 🙂


Posted in Biking, Cycling, Dad's Blog Posts | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Breaking news…Cervelo to replace frame…new bike tomorrow!

Now that my friends is what I call snappy customer service! 🙂

In speaking with John at Cool Breeze Cyclery, he confirmed that he’ll have my new Cervelo P2 ready tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

A _very_ impressive response time from Monday discovery of a warranty issue to bike replaced by Wednesday.

…as it turns out John had the same frame size P2 in stock, and due to the tight timing of my upcoming race, Cervelo agreed to allow the frame from inventory to be used for the replacement, rather than following the ‘standard’ warranty replacement procedures and timeframes

…rather startling actually when as consumers we’ve come to expect poor service as the norm…and therefore even ‘normal’ service stands out as extraordinary

…on the rare occasion when we see extraordinary service…like we’ve seen here from both Cervelo and Cool Breeze Cyclery…it just begs for an even higher level of kudos

About the best I can do is make sure that our regular readers + the few thousand folks a month that visit our blog know about it, and that when you Google things like ‘cervelo warranty’ or  ‘cool breeze cyclery service’ or ‘review’ that our thanks and positive comments are there to seen

…I’ll write a wrap-up post once the bike is completed, and would encourage you to drop a positive note or rating review into your social network channels, or forums as you see the topic come up, and reference the story as appropriate

And now back to the business at hand…since a new frame begs for new cables, there will still be a modest break-in period as they stretch a bit in the first few 100 miles, so will need some final adjustment before the race…and may still have some shifting issues…although with the flat course, I shouldn’t have too much of a problem…of course that’s a minor issue compared to trying to figure out a substitute bike solution

…and geez…a new frame…new technology…better power transfer…should be stiffer…should be faster…cool 🙂


Posted in Biking, Cycling, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Racing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Bike intact.. Confidence – not so sure!

Well as Irondad has proved today – sport is always a bit of a gamble.

I’m sure we can come up with a million different examples of the Gods of Luck having a field day  – and no matter how much prep you put into a race.. sometimes.. it’s just not your day.

But of course, as the much-wiser-than-I would argue – the more you prepare, the less variables you have to worry about. I am only guessing that my dad is not losing sleep tonight about his ability to finish the race because of his training preparations. I – on the otherhand – am starting to sweat a bit as I review my training numbers over the past 12+ weeks that I have been ‘seriously’ training. Not that they’re anything to shake a stick at – on any one weekend I was riding 4+ hours, swimming 75+ minutes and running 2+ hours………..plus or minus. But then I remember how long that course actually is. If you haven’t done it before – it’s long. Very. Very. Long. Longer than you think. And if you have done it before – then you realize that its even longer than you probably remember.

Not impossible. Just long. Especially at my speed!

I was out on my last long run on Sunday thinking – this is MY speed. If I can just `settle in` to this speed for 42.2K.. and just keep moving.. it would be a grand success. No desire to push it. If I`m running faster than planned, then I`ll just walk longer on my walk breaks. Then I`ll finish without the visit to the hospital – maybe I`ll be downgraded to the finish-line medical tent… a win-win! But the psychology of knowing that even after 3 hours of running in training.. there would still be more on race day (preceded by a bike and swim).. it starts to make one question their preparations.

So yes – I gambled a bit more than Irondad on training (OK, a lot more).. but it sounds like race-day is going to play-out in an equally exciting way. Now of course – with Irondad`s `jesting`about the bike situation.. I know there`s a plan B.. and C and D. And even if he was on the Walmart special he would still school me. Because it really isn`t all about the bike.

Trust your training, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, but most importantly – enjoy the journey!!

Posted in Daughter's Blog Posts, Ironman, Racing | 6 Comments

I no longer have a bike to ride for Ironman Florida

In an interesting twist of fate, my local bike shop told me today that there is a crack in the frame of my trusty Cervelo P2C…no longer safe to ride

…that would probably mean that it’s not been safe to ride for at least a little while 🙂

The cracking is appearing on the red and white top tube part of the frame in the picture, in front of, and to the side of where the black seat post goes into the frame…

It’s not like I don’t keep my bike serviced…I have it overhauled regularly….the last time was only 4 months ago before the Vancouver Half Iron in July of this year…taken apart…put back together…no report of cracking at that point…same bike shop

…yet here it is…in the stuff happens category…of course the great news is that it was discovered at a bike shop while in the stand, and not on one of those 40-50MPH downhills over the past 2 hilly 6-7.5 hour weekend rides…’discovering’ a cracked frame at that point as it disintegrated into tiny pieces of carbon would have _really_ hurt

…and in further good news I did take it to the bike shop to be overhauled again, before Ironman Florida…just to make sure that everything was ok…should have been routine…wasn’t…would have been a long day at Ironman with either a broken bike or body

…I wonder if you need to have your bike with you at the end of the bike portion?…I should check that out…maybe just a piece of it would be ok if it broke down in the last few miles 🙂

…so there it is…I no longer have a bike, with less than 2 weeks to go

Now the good news is that Cervelo does warranty the frame to the original owner for life…so I _should_ be getting a new frame

…the only testy part is that the timing is a bit tight, since I was planning to leave for Florida this Saturday to be nice and relaxed for the race…now it’s a matter of getting the warranty processed, a new frame delivered, the bike built, my carefully crafted fit ‘re-fit’…and then riding it to get it ‘broken-in’, typically cables and shifting adjusted after 100-200 miles of riding…I may need a backup plan…

If Lance Armstrong is right when he wrote “It’s Not About the Bike”, I did see that Wal-Mart has a nice looking Cranbrook Cruiser for only $89.97

…unbelievable price, considering that the new tires that I needed on my now defunct Cervelo are $65.00 each

…if the Cranbrook lasted 112 miles, and I gave it away, it would be less expensive than the overhaul was going to cost on the Cervelo…

…I guess we’re about to see how good Cervelo and the local bike shop customer service really is…stay tuned 🙂


Posted in Biking, Cycling, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Planning, Racing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

not very calm for a taper week

Yesterday was 2 weeks out from Ironman Florida…cool!

…and for me, last week was the beginning of my ‘taper’  where I begin to trim back some of the training, to be rested and ready for the BIG day.

As it turns out, this wasn’t a very relaxed week…other life tensions, including some work issues that cropped up, added to my body/mind stress…and I’ve definitely seen over the years, that I need to factor that into my overall stress load at any point.

…my last 2 weeks before this past week were 17 and 18 hours of training, so I came into this week with some residual tiredness that actually lasted all week…my workouts felt pretty flat all week, so I shortened a few, and kept the intensity down

And even yesterday my 3 hours on the bike followed by a 1 hour run, also felt like ‘B’ level legs instead of my ‘A’ game…I was able to push out the numbers that I wanted, but for a relatively light training day, it would have ideally felt easier and smoother…so I just got it done, and glad to be finished.

A fun weekend though, catching up with two Iron buddies, Iron Jane and Iron Jana…a couple of nights of decadent dining, rousing rounds of craft beers, and many bottles of fine wines, was a fitting finale to the official end of ‘training’ 🙂

…this past week was still 13 hours of training, so not wimpy…but next week drops to 8 hours, and then in the week prior to the race 3 hours, just to keep things moving

So the trick with the ‘taper’ now is how to rest the body, let it recover from training stress, and still maintain a high level of fitness…and show up at the starting line fresh, and ready to go…this means primarily reducing the volume of training, but still keeping in the frequency and some intensity so that the legs don’t get stale

…my main ‘trick’ is to bring down my life stress along with the training stress by going down to Florida a week ahead of time

…and take a week of soft work hours, and catch up with my open water swimming at the race venue

…and my afternoon naps…have a few relaxed parties…some great dinners with friends

…and be ready to go at 4am on Race Day for the 7am swim start on November 5th

I stay at the same condo every year…right on beach…wrap around balconies…Gulf of Mexico views in all directions…and lots of elbow room to spread out.

Iron Daughter will be down for the week as well…we both get in the Saturday before the race…so that’ll be an extra bonus this year.

The end of the week before the race, Wednesday through to Saturday gets a bit busy, as folks come into town, registration lines for this year…and next…a couple of group dinners to attend, a couple of afternoon get-togethers…and staying relaxed and watching the nutrition in that last week

…and ‘hoping’ that we stay healthy…and don’t get that last-minute cold…as the body inevitably throws in phantom aches and pains for the next 2 weeks…as it’s healing, re-energizing, and rebuilding to become impossibly strong on race day

…so here we are…the culmination of a year/lifetime of training…about to put it on the line…me for the 5th time…my daughter for her 2nd…fun 🙂


Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Ironman Florida Party, Racing, Recovery | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

last 7 hour training day…ready for that taper

So with 3 weeks to go, my last long, race rehearsal training day was yesterday…my second 6 hour ride followed by a 1 hour run…nice

…so one more week of ‘training’, although at a reduced volume and intensity…and then 2 weeks, of ‘maintenance’…just enough to not lose much fitness, as the body is rested to recover and repair prior to the BIG DAY

…I have to tell you, I’m ready for that taper 🙂

…our picture today is my last 90 days of total training volume per week

…I had that short little 10 hour week a few weeks ago, peeling back a few days with a sore throat/cough/congestion

The last time that I did that 6 hour bike / 1 hour run race rehearsal day, was 3 weeks ago

Yesterday, was another tight day of power management on the bike:

  • first 90 minutes: keeping power about 190’ish…really focusing on staying under 200 Watts…186 Watts / 190 Watts norm / 111 Heart Rate average…very relaxed…nice
  • 4:30: keeping power in the 190-205 range…188 Watts / 197 Watts norm / 122 Heart Rate average…very manageable
  • entire ride: 187 Watts / 195 Watts norm / 119 Heart Rate average / TSS 285.4 (target is under 300…so good) and IF .697 (target of .70, so bang on)…should setup a good run

Based on what I’m seeing on those long bike rides, my actual bike fitness may be higher than my last test, so I _may_ be able to increase that power a bit on race day, and because of the flatter Ironman Florida course, it’ll be easier to maintain a more stable power reading…yesterday was a very hilly, rolling course, so Watts a bit lower because of running out of gears and coasting some downhills at 40MPH+…there is that one bridge in Florida, but the rest is all pedaling all the time.

Following with a 1 hour run, I was still too fast…I’d ideally want to cruise that first 6 miles at a 10:30/mile pace…yesterday, once again I was closer to 10:00/mile…my target for the balance of the marathon…and it’s been HOT in Florida so far, so I’ll really need to watch that run pace on race day to give me any hope of not falling apart in the last 6-8 miles.

…so I pretty much have the bike and run plan dialed in for race day:

Bike:  the course and conditions will determine my final speed

  • 180-190 Watts first 90 minutes…will look to 190-200 Watts on the power meter
  • 190-200 Watts through the finish…will look for 205’ish Watts


  • 10:30/mile for the first 6 miles
  • 10:00/mile through the finish…and/or as long as I can hold that pace

Oh yeah…swimming 🙂

Rather than do a long 2.4 mile swim on Friday, I did another lesson with Coach Dinah, with a lot of focus on my stroke in the wetsuit.  Seems that it would naturally be easier with all that buoyancy, but last Wednesday when I put on the wetsuit for the first time since July 3, I found that my older, less efficient stroke pattern showed up again

…so Friday, after a series of form focused 100 yard lengths…and drills…I put on the wetsuit, and away we went trying to find that perfect stroke pattern, now encased in rubber, so lacking all the sensory clues that fire up when my stroke gets out of kilter

…the good news is that, although frail, we did find it…and I finished with a relaxed 1,000 yards continuous at 16 strokes/25 yards…in 20 minutes…so 2:00/100 yards…promising.

…so that same swim for 4,200 yards, would be a 1:24:00 Ironman swim…so can I keep that up for 2.4 miles?…we’ll know soon enough 🙂

…I’ll be testing it this week, with some longer swims in the 50M pool and open water in the lake

…of course in the race itself there can be rough conditions, current to deal with and over 2,500 other bodies…

With the bike and run volume and intensity tapering back at this point, I should be a bit fresher on the swim workouts…this week will be a telling week, to see if I can get in some confidence building swims…

…so we’ll see…3 weeks to see if I can get that swim to come together…always the optimist…promising 🙂

Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Planning, Racing, Swimming | Tagged , | 2 Comments

swimming…still slow but feeling ‘pretty’

Click on image opens in a new window

So with just over 3 weeks to go to Ironman Florida, I’m working on dialing in my race plan for the swim.

…essentially, it’s to only move my arms as fast as I can while staying with an efficient stroke

…and that’s still pretty darn slow…but feeling ‘oh so pretty’ 🙂

In terms of swimming efficiency, by the numbers I’ve improved a lot…according to the data in my SwimSense watch, and just looking at the number of strokes that it takes me to go 25 yards…the SwimSense counts the left arm stroke, so double it for the actual 2 arm count

In my manual stroke count yesterday, I had a lot of laps at 17-18 strokes, so depending on how my left arm came to the wall, many of those showed up as 16 I suspect, and yesterday was a shorter form-focused swim set, so would have a lower stroke count than longer sets…but that’s the minutia…the SwimSense is great for comparative purposes, so by that measure, it’s fair to say:

    • …2 months ago most 25 yard lengths took 11 (22) strokes
    • …by the same SwimSense watch count method, on a good day like yesterday, it now takes me 8-9 (16-18) strokes
    • …that’s 4-6 fewer strokes per 25 yards
    • so if I can maintain that over 2.4 miles that’s up to 1,008 fewer strokes 🙂

Here’s the improvement over the past 2 months…if you want to see more detail, you can click on the pictures, and they’ll open in a new window:

August 10, 2011                       September 12                     October 13




So, the good news is that I take a lot fewer strokes today to travel 25 yards down the pool, than I ever did…I’m still slow though…that is to say, my balance is still too ‘tender’ so that when I try to increase my stroke rate, the stroke count shoots up pretty dramatically…so really doesn’t give me much more speed for all the extra effort.

I did swim in my wetsuit this week for the first time since the Vancouver Half Iron on July 3, and I can see that I need to do that quite a bit before Ironman Florida…the extra buoyancy is very nice, but with a rubber-covered body, and not the same amount of feel for the water, I’ll need to be more technically correct with arm position and shape to get the most out of it…and adapt my new efficiency to the wetsuit body position…

…all in all, I’m glad that I’m getting more efficient…makes me a better swimmer today, and in the future

….there’s nothing however, that I see now that points to a ‘faster’ Ironman swim…at least this year…’hopefully’ at least in that 1:30-1:40’ish range…a little better than it’s been…I’d ‘like’ to be faster than that, but nothing pointing to a faster time right now

…although there are still 3 more weeks to get the wetsuit stroke dialed in

…and in either event, 2.4 miles this year will most likely take me 500-1,000 fewer strokes that it ever has…wish that there were points for form 🙂


Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Planning, Racing, Swimming | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

is that all there is?…last long run today…in the rain

I double checked it…that’s it…no more long runs on my training schedule before Ironman Florida, now 3 1/2 weeks away

…coaches brighter than me, feel it best to rest out the old legs, and let them recover in time for the Big Show

…feels weird of course…’long’ run next week is 90 minutes…to me, you’re not going long unless it’s at least 2 hours…so that’s it…weird

I still do have a Race Rehearsal weekend ahead, highlighted by 6 hours on the bike and a 1 hour run, like I did 3 weeks ago

…so it’s not like the schedule goes slack quite yet…but getting into the final strokes…cool

So my last long run today was fittingly in a cold rain…why not…as it turns out, I did a part of it in the cold driving rain just for pleasure and experience…a part of it in the YMCA gym on the treadmill…and then finished in what had become a cold drizzle…no rain checks in Ironman 🙂

…after 2:45:00, and something around 16 miles…never sure about those treadmill distances…I had lots of legs left, but that was the workout spec, so that was it…done…last long run…weird

Considering that a few days ago on Saturday, I rode over 122 miles, finishing with a nice 1 hour uphill mountain series of switchbacks, I was happy that my legs were in play at all for the run today.

But they were…and as I contemplate that I’m probably in the shape of my life…weight where I was in high school…knocking off 7 hour bike rides, and 2 1/2 hour runs like they’re routine…swimming for 1 1/2 hours…slow…but geez…still swimming at the end

…I realize something again, that I’ve said many times over the past 5 years:

It’s not about the Race

Because, you see the Ironman race is a date on the calendar…it’s primary use is to give me a goal…that gets me out the door on a day like today

…for over 2 1/2 hours…in the rain for a run…or to swimming lesson every Friday…or on the bike for over 6 hours on a Saturday

For without that date on the calendar, most of that wouldn’t happen.

Of course I want to do well on the day…November 5…Ironman Florida…5th time…wow

…I still remember when I thought ‘some day’ I’ll run a marathon…just to say that I did it…now it follows a rather significant swim and bike warm-up

…but the best news is that simply having that date on the calendar…and working towards it over the past year…has given me a fitness level that I otherwise would just be dreaming about

…by the time that I’m at the starting line, the ‘race’ has given me everything that I wanted from it

…I’ll enjoy the day…enjoy just how fit I am…look forward to the finish line

And this year, joined again by my daughter has definitely invigorated my training and focus…and giving us something mutual to talk about this past year, and spending some extra time with her before, during and after the race…so great 🙂

I do find myself saying recently:

I need a new drug

Iron Chuck has shifted to the Birkebeiner … cross country skiing…I seem to remember that as being cold…good to have ‘something’ on the calendar to get me out the door…

…I’ll probably sign up for Ironman Florida next year…I wonder if Iron Daughter will 🙂


Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Running, Training | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

‘Epic Ride’…only a few in a lifetime

In training for Ironman each year for the past 5 years, I’ve done lots and lots of bike rides…and each year, many training rides over 100 miles….and thousands of rides over a lifetime

…and out of those thousands and thousands of rides, I only remember a very few

…those are the Epic Rides

Yesterday was an Epic Ride 🙂

My last Epic Ride was with Iron Daughter in 2009, in preparation for Ironman Florida…her first Ironman, my 3rd.  It was in August, and we were staying in Vancouver for the month, enjoying the perfect time of year to be there.

Lisa and I decided to ride from Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea to Sky highway…the only road that connects Whistler to Vancouver…beautiful scenery…76.75 miles, and uphill…and we couldn’t find much at all about anyone that had actually done it…those that had heard of someone who had…inevitably punctuated their commentary with incredibly dire warnings about the ‘road of death’ and ‘impossible’ and stuff like that…

…elevation in feet…distance in miles

As you can see, you get a pretty flat ride for the first 45 miles, and then up it goes…Sea to Sky…ultimately finishing at the Whistler ski resort…beautiful.

We completed the ride in 5 hours and 18 minutes…a terrific ride…stiff uphills…a few blasting fast downhills…gravel and rocks on the shoulder…high-speed traffic…but nothing horrible…

It was an Epic Ride, primarily because I did the ride with my daughter…priceless…and it was beautiful scenery, and a tough ride…and we _knew_ we could do it by the numbers…but what a great feeling when you actually accomplish it….and you don’t even really realize the magnitude of the ride, until you drive it back in the car…unbelievable, we kept saying as we saw the hills and distance that we had covered…

Epic Ride of all time 🙂

Yesterday was an Epic Ride for a lot of different reasons.

I rode from Davidson NC to Asheville NC just for fun…I rarely just ride for fun…I ‘train’…I’m always ‘training’…yesterday I just rode for fun.

Yes there was a training element…it was going to be a long ride day…either 4.5 hours with High Intensity Intervals, or a longer 6 hour / 112 mile race rehearsal ride…and as I was contemplating it going to bed the night before, for no particular reason, I suddenly thought…I wonder how far Asheville is? …so I got up, checked it out on the computer…125 miles biking…hmmm…a bit long…and straight uphill in the last 25 miles…hmmm…seems like a bit much…don’t want to overdo it, kill off my legs and step on my workouts for the week coming up…but…interesting thought…maybe…

When I set out in the morning, I wasn’t committed to it…just for yucks, I figured that I’d enter ‘Asheville’ into my new Garmin 800 bike GPS…lovely new toy…dying to try it out…and at least find some new roads to ride…30 minutes warm-up in, I needed to decide if this was going to be a fast ‘Interval’ 4.5 hour day, or long ride 6 hour day, practising my 190-200 Watt race day power…I decided to go long…and just followed the GPS turns as it took me along…mile after mile…onto some great roads that I’d never been on before…nice.

It was one of those incredibly strong leg days…I was working constantly to keep power down into my race goal range…220-230 Watts felt easy…but I also know that’s a way to cook my legs…190-200 Watts target…I stayed cruising, and the miles and time went by…rolling hills…predominantly uphill…using all the gears, but just about all aero all the time.

A few hours in, I started to muse about what I was going to do…it was a beautiful day…50F going out the door, high for the day to be in the low 70’s…light winds…leaves just starting to turn color…so as I was getting towards 3 hours, I figured I’d make the decision…either keep on going, or turnaround…3 hours back…6 hour ride…done.

So I figured that I’d call my wife 3 hours into the ride to see what she’s up to…around 12:30…as I go out the door on a bike she always says ‘I’ll have my phone with me’…ostensibly to get the fateful call which she supposes that I’ll dial while crushed in a ditch somewhere…as it turns out, she rarely answers it when I call…and yesterday was no different…so I left her my usual message ‘Well, so much for SAG support’ 🙂

…so I was 55 miles into the ride…Asheville was about 70 miles away…there was that BIG hill in the last 25 miles…hmmm…well I decided to ride on…now past the point of no return, the only question was how far I would go.

At this point in the route it parallels Interstate 40, which runs into Asheville, so my plan was that once I caught up with my wife…we _always_ have a Saturday night date, so I knew that she would come up for air at some point…that she could drive out to Asheville…a 2 hour drive…and that I could drop down to the Interstate and she could pick me up along the way, and continue to Asheville for dinner…nice touch for something different to do.

The route actually crosses the Interstate just past the 100 mile point, a few miles before the mountains _really_ begin, so I thought that would be a good default pickup point…now about 2.5-3 hours away.

So at 2pm, I did finally get my wife on the phone…always delighted to hear from me, she was out shopping…I told her the good news that we were having dinner in Asheville tonight, laid out the impromptu plan…my wife doesn’t really do that well with impromptu…so with her mind racing trying to digest this news…she said that she could get back to the house, get a shower (what?)…and be in the car by 3-3:30.

…so the plan was set…although at this point, running the math, that would put her in Asheville by 5:30’ish…and at my 100 mile crossover at 5:00…I was going to be there before 4:00…hmmm…so I called again @ 3:00…no answer…3:10…no answer…3:20…’I’m walking out the door’ she said, obviously pleased with herself and her ‘fast’ turn-around

‘I’ll see you in Asheville…I’ll call you around 5 to figure out where to catch up’, I said

…the die was cast…I was going to Asheville.  A big part of that was that once past the 100 mile point, the road up the mountain is away from the Interstate and follows small, twisting, sinewy switchbacks…my wife would _never_ be able to find me once committed to the mountains.

….so that’s how it came to be…122.475 miles, 7 hours and 25 minutes…Epic 🙂

I entered the mountain climb suitably warmed up….6 hours and 105 miles into my ride…my speed dropped to 6.2MPH, as I dialed my head and legs into the task

…the ride up the mountains was tough but steady…my legs never failed…I focused on maintaining 200’ish Watts of power…speeds often dropping to 5MPH on the steep pitches…there was that dog chasing thing up a steep pitch that drove my speed from 6MPH to 12.5MPH, and Heart Rate from 136 to 155 in a matter of seconds…the noisy, barking chase at my pedals lasted just over 1 minute, but the overweight mutt obviously not in shape to run up steep hills, slowed, fell back, and was left standing, heaving, barking weakly…good news.

I did pass a sign that said Eastern Continental Divide Elev 3028…presumably my peak elevation…and then the steady plunge down the backside of the mountain towards Asheville…without cell phone coverage in the mountains, my 5pm call, became 5:30 as I reached the Interstate again just before Asheville…done

By the numbers…entire ride 186Watts average/200 Watts norm/124 Heart Rate average…very nice…best power for 60 minutes (CP60) between 6 & 7 hours on the BIG uphill 198 Watts average/211 Watts norm/132 Heart Rate average…solid…TSS 361.40/IF 0.713…definately a workout 🙂

…my wife was there in a few minutes…drive over to the YMCA for a shower…she had brought a change of clothes…good news…just no shoes…so it was either sweaty bike shoes or just socks…luckily in the hippie town of Asheville, anything goes…so went with socks…and sitting at dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in time for our 6:30 reservation 🙂

Beautiful, ‘romantic’ dinner…we’d considered staying over, but feeling fresh, back in the car, 2 hour drive back…at the house by 10:15.

As I was writing this post, it suddenly struck me that, that was a pretty long ride…so I looked it up…yes, my longest ride for both distance and time…ever…good to be in shape at the tender age of 57

Epic Day 🙂


Posted in Achieving Goals, Biking, Cycling, Dad's Blog Posts, Training | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Are we there yet :)

Interesting time in the training cycle…4 weeks to go to Ironman Florida this Saturday.

And that means, that the ‘training’ part is about done…1 more week, makes it 3 weeks to go, and the risk-averse starting to taper things off either now, or 3 weeks out

…the hard-core/risk-takers, go one more week, and then cut it back with 2 weeks to go…

The long and the short of it is, that whatever fitness we have right now is essentially what we’ll have at the starting line at Ironman Florida…unless we blow it…try to squeeze something more in…and get injured, sick, and don’t have time to fully recover…and we’re getting inside that window now.

Just over a week ago, I was reporting a scratchy throat, turning into some congestion so cut it back to _only_ 11 hours of training last week…I was watching it closely every day, and as I started every workout…never turned into anything really bad, so squeezed in enough training to keep things going without totally standing down…so good

So this week, I wanted to get in 2 key workouts: a long run that I skipped last week, and a long, continuous 2.4 mile swim…that I haven’t gotten in yet…the demons in my head have been carrying on about the swim thing in particular…can I even swim continuously for 1:30-1:45? … the demons bet I may not…

So what did I do?…took another forced day off to start the week…goes to an old training adage that age group athlete’s tend to make the same fatal mistake

…don’t go hard enough when it’s time to go hard…because they can’t…because they don’t go easy enough when it’s time to go easy…

So this past Sunday…still coughing a bit, and contemplating whether I should take off a few days to be ‘safe’…we got the ‘OMG I’M ENGAGED’ phone call from a dear, young friend of ours…ah the optimism of youth 🙂

…we made a quick decision to jump in the car, drive 3 hours, take her out for a celebratory dinner with another couple of close friends, stay overnight, and drive back the next day…Monday.

…so ‘another’ day off from training on Monday

…BTW that second martini on Sunday night was poor judgement…the first one was just sooo smooth…but really not a good idea

…if we didn’t have a 4 hour dinner ahead of us with all the trimmings, including some very fine bottles of wine, it wouldn’t have been as bad an idea…in a bit of good planning however, the restaurant that we chose was in the hotel that we were staying in…that piece of good judgement, made for a much easier trip to bed than it would have been otherwise

So Tuesday long run..2.5 hours…16 miles…3 miles in the center with a bit of intensity just for fun, but pretty easy otherwise…lots left at the end…good

…Wednesday…now that was a tough one…the demons in my head nattering about my ability to even last the 2.4 mile swimming time/distance…keeping me up at night…so I set off to get it done.

…after a 200 yard warm-up, and still somewhat stiff from the long run the day before, after a few laps I wasn’t sure that I was up to it…my stroke count was in the 20-22/25 yard range…on fresher days in a warm-up I can usually finesse it down to 18-20 strokes pretty quickly…but decided it was just the demons, and not reality…so I decided to get it on, and swim until 1:45 came up on the watch or I expired in the attempt

…I swam for 1 hour and 46 minutes in the 25 yard pool of the YMCA…my Swimsense watch tells me that I had a total of 8 minutes of rest breaks…hydration…still that lingering cough/dry throat thing…so swimming time of 1:38…and that I travelled 4,000 yards…so 200 yards short of 2.4 miles…I had no idea how far I had gone…and that I averaged 20 strokes per 25 yards…for 160 lengths of the pool…every 30 seconds or so…wall…turn…gentle pushoff to save the knees…20’ish strokes…counting strokes…keeping the stroke pieces in place…160 lengths…repeat for over 1.5 hours…fun right 🙂

So here’s what I know about my swimming:

  • I can actually swim for 2.4 miles… + …I could have kept on going at the effort level that I was at…who knows for how long…not Cuba-Florida long, but I’d guess that I’d still be swimming an hour later…may not be as pretty anymore, but would still be moving
  • I can keep up a stroke count of right around 20’ish/25 yards for 2.4’ish miles
  • To do that, it’s still pretty d*** slow 😐

Here’s what I don’t yet know about my swimming…the optimist in me asks:

  • how fast am I really without those slow wall turns in a 25 yard pool
  • how much will the extra buoyancy of the wetsuit & salt water help me with keeping my stroke together at a faster stroke rate

So with 4 weeks to go, open water, long course 50M pools, long swims with the wetsuit, all in order to dial in some of the final answers.

As it turns out, my bike and run power/pacing are pretty much dialed in…I have a really strong idea already on where those targets will be on race day…the swim is the last piece.

…as I sit here today, it may come down to a 1:30-1:40 swim target…seems to be about my current 2.4 mile speed for a 18-20 stroke/25 yard efficient stroke…or a 20-22 stroke rate, and _maybe_ a 1:20-1:30 target…so if it’s an extra 2 strokes/25 yards, is it worth it for an extra 10 minutes?…that’s 336 extra strokes

…and Ironman racing is all about patience, and staying inside the lines of ability, and having enough left to nail the run

…so as I sit here today, with 4 weeks to go, I’d probably just enjoy the swim, come out relaxed, put the 336 strokes of energy in the bank, ace the bike, nail the run, and be done

…but I do still have 4 weeks to determine ‘my final answer’

…I _need_ to get into my wetsuit and see what I can _really_ do 🙂

Posted in Achieving Goals, Dad's Blog Posts, Planning, Racing, Swimming | Tagged , , | 4 Comments