Category Archives: Prep

Wednesday W’Intervals are go

Tonight’s Interval session is a go. Weather looks to be holding off until tomorrow, and the temps should be a bit warmer than the last couple of weeks. This week will be the 8 interval session, but we will add the Morris Rd Sprint as a 9th optional interval. No route change is needed, we just have not been sprinting that one.

Next week we will extend to a 3rd lap, making it 12 intervals for those that want a little ‘more’, but that will be optional for those that don’t want the extra oomph.

School is almost out, so that adds a level of crazy to the schedules, but for many of the area athletes, it is taper week. Two big 70.3 races this weekend, one in Chattanooga, and another in Knoxville. Local weather doesn’t look to favor much in the way of outdoor training, so for all the athletes that we would normally see this week that won’t be out in the rain or are hiding in pre race prep.


Pre Race Jitters? I think so

I don’t know that I’ve ever had pre race jitters 2 full weeks before a race before, but I certainly do this time. Tapering started the jitters. The second guessing of ‘did I train enough’, ‘am I ready’, and ‘can I finish this’ are all eating away behind at the brain right now, and have been for a couple of days. Sleep is also starting to come at a premium, since there is this crazy mix of emotions that boil down to an almost even mixture of excitement and terror.

As I talk to other first time athletes also tapering for this race, I find that not only am I not alone, but pretty much all of us are in the same boat. There is a lot of panic going on over all sorts of things. Unfortunately, at this point, there really is not a thing we can do to address our worries. So I put down a few things that I am reminding myself:

  • I can’t control the conditions, I can only pack appropriately.
  • I am as prepared as I can be. It is what it is.
  • Race Day won’t come any faster by worrying about it.
  • Race Day won’t come and slower by wishing it to do so.
  • I will either finish, or I won’t.
  • Something WILL go wrong, I need to be prepared and to deal with it.
  • I will want to quit at some point, I’ve trained enough to know that.
  • Hopefully, I’ve trained enough to get past that moment.
  • The people around me that have supported me through training, they deserve medals too.
  • No, I cannot go for a long ride/run/swim just because I feel good. Stick to the plan.
  • Whatever happens, it has been worth it to get this far.

What You Get

With last weekends completion of the ‘build’ process of the Ironman Training, we are now into what is known as The Taper. During the last few months, there has been a frequent complaint about not wanting to take rest days. If rest days are tough, what is it going to be like for the next two and a half weeks of backing off and tapering into race day? Difficult is probably an understatement. But here is the thing, we know that most Ironman training plans incorporate 3 week long tapers much the same as a typical marathon plan. After doing some research though, that doesn’t look ideal. A better model, might well be to tackle the taper more like ultra-marathon, and endurance cyclists, with little to no taper.

As hard as I find rest days, I concluded that the best thing for me is to maintain a fairly high level of activity, but nothing that is overreaching in terms of distance, speed or heart rate. Not tapering to short times and everything in the ‘recovery zone’ until the final week of the race.

Despite being a complete newbie to the Ironman distance, working with a coach that has been pushing a shorter taper has been interesting, as I have used the 3 week taper for marathons, but never hit race day feeling ‘optimal’.

So what does a tapering training week look like for me?

Monday: 5 mile run & 2k swim
Tuesday: 8 mile run & 20 mile bike
Wednesday: 2k swim m& 20 mile bike
Thursday: 5 mile run & 20 mile bike
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 4k swim & 12 mile run
Sunday: 65 mile bike & 6 mile brick

Yeah, that is ‘tapering’ the hard way. In other words, not really at all, and I think I like it that way!

This is the sickness that is Triathlon. Once it gets into your blood, you start racing for the sole purpose of justifying the training.

OGRE Dru suffering from a cramp in the run at IM Choo 70.3

OGRE Dru suffering from a cramp in the run at IM Choo 70.3

Just one look at the above, and you can understand why nutrition matters. This is what happens when you do not fuel your body on the bike and hit the run without enough fuel to keep the body from cramping up. Once you get to this point, you can’t recover while still racing. This is why we work on nutrition plans during training days too.

The story behind this, and the tale of woe that I hope you can learn from my mistake. You see, I had trained my nutrition plan. Thought I had it wired. Infinit Go Far in one bottle. Nuun in the other. Gu Gel at 45 minutes on the bike, Bonk Breaker bar at 90 minutes on the bike, Gu Gel at 135 minutes on the bike, another Bonk Breaker before run transition, then Gu Roctane Gels on the run, with water and gatorade provided on course. All of this augmented with electrolyte capsules at a rate of 1 per hour.

In training, this went great. Race day however did not play well. You see, it rained on the bike course. Lesson to take away, Bonk Breakers are messy and difficult to consume in the rain, so I didn’t consume them as planned. I think you see where this is going already don’t you? Yeah, me too. I didn’t eat the solid nutrition, and the gels just aren’t enough to keep this engine going, so when I hit mile 6 of the run, and the quad started cramping to the point of locking up the knee, I knew that my 2 hour run was now an impossible goal. I could finish, but the last half of the run was going to be a long cycle of run slow, cramp, walk it out, repeat to the finish line. It took almost twice as long to cover the last 7 miles as it took to cover the first 6. Crossing the finish line, I had already had a while to stew on what I did wrong.

The hammer that drove it home? After a good meal, and a couple hours of walking around the city as a tourist post race, the cramping was gone, and there was no soreness or weakness in the area. Lesson learned. Eat, and more importantly, prepare for the conditions. What I would do differently is to portion my Bonk Breakers into bite sized portions that are easier to consume in inclement conditions. I won’t repeat that mistake again. Instead, I am sure I will find entirely new mistakes to make.


Wednesday may be ‘Hump Day’, but for me this is one of the highlights of my week. I look forward to my group ride on Wednesday. So much so, that I do this ride despite the fact that it doesn’t actually fall on a ‘ride’ day in my training plan. Over the last year, this ride has grown from 4 people to a point where last night we had over 50 total riders split into 4 groups, on 2 different routes. IT was with great pleasure that I got to lead the group that is dearest to my heart. The B2’s, because these are my people, and I love them all. This is a group of riders that have gotten strong enough that they want to go a little faster, they want a little more challenge, but they still retain the joy of the group. It is not about who can go the fastest, or attacking or any of the ego stuff that goes on with the A’s and the B1’s, but still about the group. I admit, I personally work harder when I lead this group than any other group I lead, but that is only because I like to work with every rider in the group, see how they are feeling and get to know them. That means a lot of floating from front to back and back to front, but oh, it is so worth it.

Too Much Lifting

Too much lifting and furniture moving yesterday. This morning, all that work is kitting the hips and lower back pretty hard. Looks like time for a little bit of chair time this morning at the office before heading out for a ride & swim this evening.

Ride should be nice, just 23 miles tonight. From there it’ll be into the pool for an hour of laps. This probably sounds terrible to most people, but to me it sounds wonderful. It’s like a rest day that I still work out on :).

Some days are better than others

So Monday’s training got derailed by life, so I only got in about 40 minutes in the pool, and had to settle for 28 minutes of core work using an old ab workout from the original Insanity training videos. I figured I’d get back on track Tuesday. Yeah, not so much. Helped my brother move out of his house from 7:30AM until about 5:15PM, followed by a quick swim to rinse off, a change of clothes and my weekly group run. Planned on ~6 miles, ended up doing just 4. Heart rate went nuts, and the body said simply “not tonight”.

So be it. IF there is one lesson that I have had hammered home to me in my training it is this: “trust your body, and know the difference between discomfort and pain”. This was not discomfort, and so I stopped. I’ll feel better for it tomorrow, and I won’t miss training because I didn’t push through pain into an injury.

Strava Run… Not Pretty

First Long Ride of the Season

With the chaos that is the life of a parent, sometimes finding the time to get a couple of good long rides in to start the season is incredibly challenging. Last weekend I managed to a 40 mile ride at a slow pace, followed up with a short brick. It was a challenge. It ended up taking a vacation and being a travelling circus to get a solid 90 miles in. IT was a good 90 though. Strangely, this was the longest ride I had done on an aero bike. I have ridden centuries in the past, but always on my road bike. Needless to say there where some lessons learned.

Lessons Learned

  • Aero is a huge advantage in stiff headwinds
  • Aero bikes, even with standard wheels get pushed around a lot in crosswinds
  • Racing Mopeds, while fun, is not a good idea at mile 40, 44, 51, or 63 of a 90
  • Sand. Is. Evil.

That said, it was a wonderful ride. 5 hours in the sunshine, parallel to the beach, really is a great way to break back into the long days. Admittedly, the 3 miles run off that bike wasn’t all that fun. But that is why we do this right? to get better, and make these easier?

Back to the Sunday Rides with OGRE Dru

Alright, I know the long range forecasts still look ugly for the weekend of 03/01, but I am going to be optimistic and predict a lovely sunday in the mid to high 50’s following a friday of snow. With that prediction, I am also letting you know that I am planning to resume the Sunday Rides with O.G.R.E. Dru (me). Looking at the plan, I am scheduled for 2:30 minutes, so that works out to about 44-48 miles. So, I have selected my 46 miles from EH route. I am not going to mince words here. This is my idea of a fun route. Why? well, because it involves some of the best hills north of the river, and south of Sawnee Mountain. As in ~3000 feet of climbing over 46 miles. If you can conquer this route at 16+, you are HIM ready on the bike. So, what does the route look like? Here it is in all it’s glory:

As always with my rides, we will regroup early and often. This one offers tests for everyone. Some of the highlights/lowlights:

@Mile 11 – Climb Wileo Rd from the River.
@Mile 13 – Shallowford / Jones
@Mile 17 – 2 miles of short rollers through Wildwood Springs
@Mile 20.5 – One of the infamous Sisters
@Mile 22 – The long slow slog that is Cox Rd
@Mile 27 – The Etris Rd quick hitter
@Mile 33 – Bethany/Thompson/Francis Rd taking you to your max elev

On the upside, you get some screaming downhills too (just watch for the speed humps in Mountain Park!)
So… if the weather and fitness allow. Come and join me in an adventure through Fulton (and just a hint of Forsyth). It will be interesting, I promise that. As for the fun factor, I will love it, but I am pretty sure there is something wrong with me tongue emoticon