Category Archives: Triathlon

Fitness is not an accident

Way back when, before I cleaned up my own lifestyle and got back on the bike. Before I started running, before I stepped on the scale that fateful day and had my “whoa” moment, I often looked at some of the slim, fit bodies and blamed genetics. Like many people, I wanted to attribute my body type to genetics, and let my failures to manage the bad things that my body type exposed be lumped into that genetics thing. Like so very many people, I assumed that most of the “pretty people” were just blessed with great genetics. What I now understand is that yes, they may have been blessed with great genetics, but the level of work that it takes to maintain what we are born with is no accident.

In so many instances, our bad habits are formed at a very young age. Those early years set the stage for our life long struggles, as we build habits that are inhibitors to the work of living fit. Personally, I struggle with an addiction to caffeine in the carbonated, cold variety and a raging sweet tooth. I love chocolate, preferably in large quantities, served with an ice cold soda. These are bad enough, but some other lifestyle things only make it that much harder to keep fitness. I work a desk job where I sit for 8-10 hours a day. With kid schedules, I will often spend another 2 hours a day in a car. Factor in meals and sleep, finding time to get in a good workout is tough.

Over the last couple of years, it has become harder and harder to maintain the discipline required to get those workouts in, and my waistline shows it. That is the hidden part of the fitness equation. Getting fit is hard. Staying fit is harder, as the demands of life intrude upon the demands of training.

In the past, it was a little easier for me, as I used my commute to the office as part of my daily workout. For the last year, some schedule changes have changed that because I have had a passenger. I haven’t been able to ride the 4-5 days a week of the past. This has impacted my base fitness, as well as my ability to get in the volume of work I needed, to overcome some of the bad habits I hadn’t been able to kill off.

So now it is time of fix some diet issues that were masked by the volume of work being done, while also reworking some schedule to fix the issues.

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.


Training Schedules, Planning & Life’s Impacts

Life with children, jobs and schedules that do not conform to a training schedule is probably the biggest challenge any amateur athletes faces. I am no different, and for me, there was a very hard lesson in that, dealing with a training plan while being flexible to an ever changing life schedule. There are times when sticking to the plan is a near impossibility, and worse, any deviation from ‘the plan’ just created more stress and friction, which made the problems cascade.

Somewhere along the way, someone reminded me of the most important tidbit that I was letting slip; this is supposed to be fun too. It is hard, sometimes it hurts, but at the end of the day, I am doing it because I want to, not because I have to. Remembering that, I found a need to reengineer how I train and workout, and more specifically, how I build my training plans. Once I hit the end of the season last year, I started with a new philosophy, and I am finding that I am so much better mentally and physically.

10-15 Workouts a Week

In the past, I set up rigid schedules.
* Monday was Swim/Bike ( recovery pacing )
* Tuesday was Core/Run ( tempo )
* Wednesday was Swim/Lift/Bike ( fast twitch )
* Thursday was Core/Run ( fast twitch )
* Friday was Rest Day
* Saturday was Bike/Run/Cross ( endurance )
* Sunday was Swim/Run/Cross ( endurance )

Missed workouts made me stressed about not hitting goals, and honestly, going into the later portions of the season, I was in grind mode. It wasn’t much fun.

This season, I decided to change it, and build in some fun along with some adaptability. Instead of such a rigid schedule, I set up my workout plan and adjust as life dictates. A missed workout isn’t a crisis, and I am switching to a regimen that emphasizes volume in Z2-Z3 over more traditional Z4 high intensity workouts. The intent is that I should spend 85% of my training time in low Z3 or lower, but I will probably accumulate more miles and hours than I did in the past.

What does this look like in practice though?

Let’s look at last week for example. Last week was a baseline week, so it was about measurements.

  1. Swim ( easy pace 2000 meters )
  2. Bike ( FTP test, 60 minutes )
  3. Core ( body weight only core, 30 minutes )
  4. Run ( easy pace shortest of 30 minutes or 3 miles )
  5. Swim ( Speed test, warmup, 1000 meters at threshold timed, cool down )
  6. Pilates ( abs/core focus, 30 minutes )
  7. Bike ( 60 minutes, athletes choice )
  8. Yoga Stretching ( whole body, breathing focus for 30 minutes )
  9. Run ( Lactate Threshold Test, crying is allowed )
  10. Life-Style Exercise ( Golf, Walk, Hike, Swim, Bike, athletes choice, 60 minutes )
  11. Bike/Run Brick ( endurance pace, 90 minutes bike, 30 run )
  12. Swim ( endurance pace, 60 minutes )
  13. Life-Style Exercise ( minimum 60 minutes )

There are not rigid days for getting these done, so last week, 1,2 & 3 all got done on Monday. Tuesday was just 4. Wednesday got 5,6 & 7 done. Thursday saw 8 & 9. Friday, got 11 done, and Saturday saw 10 get done, and due to some schedule conflicts, a 60 minute bike was subbed in for 12. Sunday? it was a treated as a Rest Day with cleaning house as the Life-Style exercise. Trust me, that’s a workout, we have kids in the house.

The key is to look at the body of work, and be fine with missing a workout here or there, and being willing to adapt. Missing a swim isn’t going to break a race, but getting bent out of shape because it got missed, or because Saturday is overbooked and getting angry (or missing out on important life events) because of a workout might ruin a race. In addition, each week I flag 5 workouts as key workouts that are the ‘important’ ones, and if something has to be cut, these are the last to go.

In full disclosure, my weight is up about 10 lbs from my race weight of 185 lbs. I do not consider this a crisis, as it will come off over the coming months. My LTR is right where it was at the end of last season. I was hoping it would have come down a little, and since I did the test indoors on a treadmill, it may well have. I do not cool as well indoors. The bike FTP number is actually a little higher than I expected. For the test this session, I used the numbers from the TACX Bushido trainer instead of off the crank based 4iiii Precision power meter. The Bushido has been consistently about 8% lower than the Precision, and it was again for this test, but the output number is 1 watt greater than my end of season FTP test using the Precision..

So what does this first build week look like?

  1. Swim ( Z3 intervals 4×100 meters )
  2. Bike ( Z2-Z3 intervals 6×6 minutes / 2 minute recovery )
  3. Core ( body weight only core, 30 minutes )
  4. Run ( easy pace shortest of 30 minutes or 3 miles )
  5. Swim ( tempo, 2000 metere )
  6. Pilates ( abs/core focus, 30 minutes )
  7. Bike ( 60 minutes, recreational pace )
  8. Yoga Stretching ( whole body, breathing focus for 30 minutes )
  9. Run ( cadence drill, 10 minute warmup, 30 minutes at 175 spm cadence w/ metronome, 5 minute cooldown )
  10. Life-Style Exercise ( Golf, Walk, Hike, Swim, Bike, athletes choice, 60 minutes )
  11. Bike/Run Brick ( endurance pace w/ hills, 90+ minutes bike, 30 run )
  12. Swim ( endurance pace, 60 minutes )
  13. Life-Style Exercise ( minimum 60 minutes )

When the week forces adjustments, they’ll be made, and I know going into each week exactly what can be adjusted. I also know that if Friday’s schedule sets up to make those workouts exceptionally difficult to fit in, then I can adjust my ‘rest’ to Friday, or pick it up somewhere in the middle if needed.

You are an Ironman

You have more can than you think you can – favorite shirt

Don’t drown, Don’t Crash, Don’t quit – my own mantra

Remember your why – favorite sign

Scott, You are an Ironman! – my favorite sentence. A 5 word sentence that I did not really care about before race day.

I assume every Ironman has asked themselves during the race why they are putting their body through this pain. I know most of the pain is a lie that my brain tells my body to make me quit. My brain tells me I am done long before I am really done; but this I have learned during training, “I have so much more can than I think I can.” And more importantly, I “get” to do this. I have close friends battling Cancer from hospital rooms. My wife could not make the trip because she had to take her mom to ICU on Friday. My wife wants me to finish. She does not want me to repeat this investment for a while… “What investment?”, you ask

Money? Oh damn, this game is expensive. $700 for the entry fee. Join a team, $150. Oh, that bike won’t do. Low end tri bike $1400. GU, Carbs, Protein, Shoes, Helmet, etc… Hotels, training travel, training races… Oh my.

Time? Tuesday after work run. Wednesday after work bike. Saturday long ride. Sunday run. Daily lunch exercise. Tired all the time

I am a swimmer. I did not swim competitively when I was young, but I grew up with a pool in the back yard. As it happens, recreational swimming and distance swimming are not the same. Lots of pool time, not enough open water time. I could have trained harder.

I am not a strong rider. I don’t love the bike, more to the point, I don’t like cars. In metro Atlanta , there are few places to train hills and avoid cars. Thank goodness I spent the money to buy a team. Training weekends on the bike were so much better in no drop groups. I trained and whined. I could have trained harder.

I am a strong runner. I like to run. There is a reason I have done 8 marathons since I quit smoking. I switch on my audio book and disconnect my brain. I picked bike hours over run hours. I could have trained harder.

The entire week before the Ironman, I was a nervous wreck. Concentration was impossible. I am not a fan of the extra hotel night of Friday Check-in, but getting to Chattanooga finally let me breathe. I could focus on the fun and the fun with my brother. He trained harder, but shared the nervousness. It was me and my team, together for whatever. Everything about the weekend was about the event. Friday was check in and dinner with the team. Dru and I ran the hilly 5 miles of the run course. Saturday was a test swim in the river and bike check in. Early to bed and Sunday to rise will make this man stronger and done with this Tri.

Dru and I were at the Courtyard beside the Ironman village, so we were able to check our bikes and get body marking done with time to head back to the room for Hotel Room poop. I do love a nice private poop. The swim start is actually part of the greenway run course later. A mile of athletes waiting for an epic day means long lines at the porta potties. The official water temp meant that wearing a wetsuit was optional, meaning the wearing a wetsuit disqualified you from age group awards. Dru opted to swim without his wetsuit. I choose buoyancy. Wetsuiters had to go last, so I gave Dru a hug and wished him a great race.

Once my feet hit the water, the day was on. I have never loved open water swimming. Something about bumping into others keeps me from getting into the “zone.” It took a couple hundred yards to get a good google seal. Eventually, I got settled into a groove. I had a number of course resets and looking for open areas to swim, but 2.4 miles has never gone so fast for me. The TVA limited the current, but 3 days of rain made for favorable waters. As the finish came into sight, I took a break and relaxed; I had to tell the volunteer kayaker that I was just warming the water. It beat waiting in a pottie line. Don’t drown – Check 1:05 Swim

My shorty wetsuit made for a simple transition. I stuck to my nutrition plan and stuffed my face as I ran my bike out. Dru and I had come up 3 weeks before and rode the bike course. I knew this course would not beat me, only riding too fast would beat me. I planned to keep my average at 15 MPH. 3 weeks of taper had me feeling good and staying under 17 was a challenge. I made it to the first aid station at mile 20 before another bathroom break. Fortunately, there was no line for rest stop one. Finally, I felt I was really on my way. 116 miles on the bike is monotony. I did not have the breath for chatting. Thank yous for the volunteers and “on your left” broke up the day. The ride is beautiful. The hills are not hell on the ride. The most exciting moment of the ride was the Pros passing me like I was standing still on the turn on to Hog Jowl Road. My biggest fear was knocking into one of them and ruining their race.

A friend of mine had told me that the game of Ironman is nutrition. Gatorade Endurance on the course, Base Salt and GU, put me in great shape. I had peanut butter crackers and more sport beans in my 56 mile bag. I also had a packet of Chamois Butt’r. Never before have I applied napalm to my balls, but to prevent further damage… One final pee break at the final aid station and I was homeward bound. My tailbone was on fire. The last 16 miles hurt, but I finished. I admitted that the bike and me were breaking up. We had some good times, but she was breaking me. Don’t crash – Check 6:52:42

My half distance race (70.3 miles) had taught me that the tri kit zipper would bounce and draw blood on the run. I hated not wearing my team gear, but my bike to run transition included a compression shirt that I was incapable of putting on. Another big volunteer “thank you” for helping an old man dress. Another coating of body glide and I was out for a run. Only one goal left, don’t quit.

As it happens, I am a strong runner; but I did not have a run plan. I started at a 10 minute mile and figured I would run until I couldn’t. Then I would walk. Then I would run until I couldn’t. Then I would walk. Repeat. This was a recipe for injury. I got lucky. I got lucky that I had a team. At mile 2, I found Tara from my Endurance House Team. I asked Tara about her run plan. “Run 3 minutes at the top of every mile. Then speed walk.” She was certainly speed walking. A 14 minute mile walk pace meant a 12 minute mile average. I decided to stay with her until 13 or so. “Or so” became the rest of the night. Thank goodness for teams.

Scott, you are an Ironman. The 5 words I did not care about for 20 or so hours on Sept 27. Somewhere around 8 PM, those words started to matter. There was a sign along the course, “Remember your Why.” Those words were never part of my “why” but they were part of my finish. As we crossed the bridge for the second loop, I could hear people finishing. I could hear people becoming an Ironman. I wanted to finish this step of my journey. Scott, you are an Ironman became part of “don’t quit”. Dru and I would do this together.

At mile 21 we found another teammate struggling. Lee joined us in our now 13:30 minute mile pace. Together, we made a plan. Tara, me, then Lee. We would each hear our name and those words. I would see my children. I would miss my wife who was home with her mother in the hospital. As my feet hit the IM carpet, I threw my arms in the air. My kids tell me I ran by too fast for them to get a video. “Scott from Georgia. You are an Ironman!” Yes, I am. An amazing volunteer walked me through the finish activities. He delivered me to my children. I was stinky and sweaty and hugged them anyway. I swore I would cry, but I didn’t. I was happy and proud. Dru found me and hugged me. I was so proud of him. Mom and dad found me. They were so proud of their sons. They also had Mellow Mushroom. I would have picked Mellow Mushroom over sex at that moment.

The Ironman was harder than I thought it would be. Constant motion for 13 hours and 54 minutes was exhausting. My pain was not so bad. My teammate Tara had saved me with a manageable run, I might have been able to finish 20 minutes faster, but would have resulted in injury and that demoralizing loneliness of miles 18-21 on the run. After a little rest and relishing the joy, we headed to the hotel. I showered in my full run kit. It needed washing anyway. I told my kids I was heading back to the finish line. I had to be there to cheer for the midnight club. It was an awesome experience. Finishing was hard for this 42 year old. I never worried about the clock. Cheering for men and women whose “all” was dangerously close to a DNF was awesome. Find the video of the man who finished at 11:59:59. The true story is that he paced in the man before him; however, the drama of his finish matched the day. The day is everything that every man and woman has to give.

I love that I am an Ironman. I loved the weekend with my brother. I love that my family was there at the finish. I love that my team made my day. I love asking Dru, “what’s next?” I love know that more epic shit is in our future.

Dru, you and your brother Scott became Ironmen as part of a life of epic shit. Keep doing epic shit!

Distracted Much?

Alright, I admit it. This last week or so before my first Ironman has me a hot mess. I cannot focus. I’m alternately excited and terrified. Panicked about not being trained enough. Panicked about what I’m forgetting. Sleep has become a long lost friend. Worry has become a new found partner, who I don’t actually enjoy spending time with.

All of that said, I have to say this.

My dear wife is the one that truly deserves the kudos, medals and awards for this race. The time, stress, and laundry, oh the laundry, that she has worked with me over the last 10 months. She is the really amazing one here.

I don’t know how much I’ll get posted between now and Monday, but there will be some more details next week!

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.

10 Things Roadies Do that Piss Tri-Geeks Off

1. Declare a set of ‘rules’ to be part of their cult

Seriously, they need an entire website to keep track of their inane ‘Rules’. ([]

2. Talk about the Century they did over the weekend

Isn’t that cute. They rode 100 miles. or maybe it was a metric at 63 miles. That’s nice. Did you run after it? how long did you hang out at that SAG stop with the really yummy home made cookies?

3. Exclude other bikes from their rides

No tri bikes, because they are ‘dangerous’ (and triathletes are poor bike handlers). No hybrids, because they are too slow. No mountain bikes, well because. Reality check time. Yeah, riding in aero in a group can have issues ( on the front during a pull? well off the back? rock it ). But here is the important bit to keep in mind, until the ride average 18+, there are plenty of riders that can hold that pace on non-road bikes, but that might hurt an ego or two. Can’t have that.

4. Worry constantly about KOM/QOM on Strava Segments

So much so, that many of them will cheat to get them (and keep them). They will bury themselves for a 90 second sprint for a single KOM and then have to soft pedal the next 30 miles to finish the ride. Let’s not even discuss the ‘forgot to turn off Strava’ segments. Seriously, 47mph up a .25 mile 6% grade. Seems legit.

5. Fail to give runners/joggers space on MUPs

Every triathlete that has ever done a post ride run on a MUP, or a long run on a MUP knows this one well. Full cycle kit roadie, blitzing the MUP at 25mph for a KOM (because seriously, EVERY MUP in the world MUST have a Strava Segment). They can’t be bothered with an ‘on your left’ because they are so buried there is not O@ to sacrifice. This applies far less to triathletes, because they run these paths, they behave quite different towards runners and joggers, people on road bikes? not so much.

6. Spend more time cleaning the bike than riding it

Apparently among the ‘serious cyclist’ crowd a dirty bike is a crime. Poorly maintained is a crime against the bike, but dirty? If you take the bike out for a 60 minute ride on a dry sunday and then spend 2 hours cleaning it, what’s the point. Ride it like you stole it. Tri bikes are filthy because when the ride is done, it’s time to run. When the run is done, it is time to eat and sleep, because tomorrow is a swim/bike day! Rest days are for laundry.

7. Judge another rider by the cost of kit and bike

The true sign of a roadie? they can give a cost estimate of a bike and kit at a glance. Even more so, this glance also provides enough information to determine if the cyclist is serious, and what category they should race. Best thing ever. Guy shows up to a group ride on a 20 year old Bianchi in serviceable shape. Cheap shorts, baggy jersey, old school strap clips. Everyone judges him to be a weak rider. 2 hours later, he held pace with the B1 group, and then RIDES home. Humility? served in spades.

8. Buy Race Bikes, Ride them in Charity Rides

Show up to a charity century. Look around the pre-race area. Lots of race bikes, lots of expensive kits, to be ridden 100 miles at an average pace of 16 mph, and never ridden in a race. They sure are pretty though. Pinarello Dogma P8 with Di2 in a full Team Sky replica kit from Rapha. Yep, race ready.

9. Wear Excessive Padding

Padded socks (long, because short is so uncool), padded shorts with pads so plush you could sleep on them, usually in bibs so they don’t move or wiggle. Padded gloves to protect the delicate hands. For every ride.

Harden up folks. Triathletes, no socks, ‘padded’ shorts? only in the most minimal sense, gloves are for wimps. Don’t forget the ladies, many of these lovely badasses are out there throwing down 40km bike legs at 20+ mph in swim suits. They are so badass, that if that suit rides up into the wedgie zone they’ll keep riding and deal with it later.

10. Bitch about Tri-Geeks

But seriously, the number one thing tri-geeks hate about cyclists? the incessant whining about tri-geeks. You feel inadequate. We get it, you have two choices. Harden up, or don’t, but if you choose don’t, you give up any right to bitch about the tri-geeks. We’d rather you come over to the fun side though. We don’t take ourselves nearly as seriously as you do.

Bonus: Shaved Legs, Shaved Arms, Grizzly Adams Facial Hair

Seriously, WTF. Applies euqally to all cyclists, road, mtn, hybrid, tri.

OGRE Scott’s Lake Logan 70.3 – Race Report

OGRE Scott crossing the finish at the Lake Logan 70.3 in 2015

OGRE Scott crossing the finish at the Lake Logan 70.3 in 2015

I expect more from myself than I will ever deliver. My best is not nearly good enough and I like it that way. That is not to say that I am not satisfied with my performance, I just always know that more diligent training, better planning, and a calm heart would have created better results. I am capable of more, but I am a product of my choices. That being said, I finished a freaking half Ironman Distance. I am damned proud.

Something in you or your life sets the strange path that few take. Endurance sports are about “before”. Before the race you train. Before the race you establish possible failure by setting expectations. Before the race, you pack and prep. Before the race you get nervous. Before the race you think of everything that can go wrong during the race. During the race you execute the course or you don’t. After the race you start the “before” of the next race. If you want a race report about the race, return to Google and search again. Over here, it is story time.

Sunday before the race, during my ride, something at the top of my calf/back of my knee felt twingy. I decided to take it very easy during the week to avoid screwing up the race. Taking it easy ended up being nothing. Yes, my taper was zilch. 5 days of no exercise at all. I would like to blame work or family; but in truth, I have lost too many weeks of running by pushing through injury. With 8 weeks to IM Chatt, I am petrified of injury. Since I don’t know what will be too much, I choose nothing to allow healing. Decision – 5 day sloth. Bad decision

Tuesday before the race, I spent my lunch reading a few race reports from the 2014 iteration. A 67 degree lake in Augus?. In the South? WTH? Reading these sent me Amazon to buy a cheap wet suit, just in case. Reports also told me that there is A HILL. The organizers talk of a course with wonderful down hills for 27 miles. But since this is not a point to point, one must remember that what goes down will eventually go up. The course profile looks like a cereal bowl, with a striking irregularity. Mile 42 contains a 350 foot climb over less than a mile. Not a novice’s hill and I am not a great cyclist. When reading these reports on Tuesday, I called my brother Dru in near panic. Dru is a very strong cyclist and he agreed that it would suck for me. I realized that I can try it, walk it or quit. Decision – I will be quick to decide to walk the wall. (I decided to quit on the hill I have never seen) Mediocre decision

The night before the race, I arrived about 5:30 PM to hear the pre race meeting at 6. The meeting essentially mimicked every other USTA pre-race meeting you have ever heard. It did get me to packet pick-up and a site review in the daylight hours, rather than waiting until the morning of the race. More importantly, the lake and I would meet. The beauty of the Lake Logan Half Ironman distance is undeniable. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, just west of Asheville, NC, Lake Logan is a thin lake fed by a mountain stream (we will meet this mountain stream, again). So, on Friday before the race, I stare at a 75 degree lake and wonder about the wetsuit in my car, with the tags still on it. “Never try new things on race day.” The day before is better, right? I donned my wetsuit (a little bit too large) and went for a 200m swim. It was too warm and pulled in the crotch. However, the buoyancy was nice. Another 200m without the suit reminded me that I am comfortable in the water and 75 degrees is fine. Decision – No wetsuit. Good decision.

The awakening before the race was scheduled for 4:10 AM, but my nervous mind was done pretending to sleep at 3:55 AM. Shower, coffee and a slathering of body glide (trust me, that is not a product you want to borrow from another). TMI alert – Regularity is a great thing, but no amount of coffee was going to move my body off of a 6:45 – 7 AM schedule. A port-o-line was in my future, but starting 30 minutes after the first swim group left me safe on time. 5:10 AM departure from the motel gave me 35 minutes to drive 8 miles. A 5:40 arrival put me deep in the airstrip parking lot. Arrive on time – Check

The part before the swim is the prepping and waiting. 5:45 AM is dark in the mountains. I forget how much ambient light my suburban life has. A head lamp for getting my stuff out of the car would have been a good idea. Using my cell as a flashlight, I got my tire pumped. I was ready to go. I took one last look at my wetsuit in the car and congratulated myself on yesterday’s swim decision. My brother or my father would have talked to every soul on the 1 mile walk to transition; I was stuck in my head. I did notice a random port-o-potty in the parking lot. Friday’s recon meant that I knew exactly where my spot was and I was not sweating packet pick up. I set up my transition, got my timing chip and body marking. Water temperature report for race start – 72 degrees, wetsuit legal. Apparently the icy waters of the mountain stream allow for significant variations to the temperature at this end of Lake Logan. Yesterday’s swim was warm, so 3 degrees did not change my mind. I grabbed my goggles and headed to the secret port-o-let in the parking lot. Set-up and void – check

“During” was about to begin, “before” was coming to an end. At 6:45, everyone was headed to swim start and everyone was wearing or carrying a wetsuit. WTH? Even the super awesome, what does it take to make that body dude was wearing his wetsuit. Crap. Since I had 45 extra minutes until my wave, I got my car keys from transition and made another trip to the parking lot and got my wetsuit. I jogged back to transition to drop off my car keys and shoes before heading to the swim start. I had chosen the Novice Masters group which put me in the last group out with the Relay and Aquabikers. 30 minutes later wetsuit Scott was in the water. I will admit that the life preserver effect of the wetsuit was nice, but it was a good 700 meters before I settled into a rhythm. The wetsuit was hot and my goggles were foggy (Baby shampoo for next swim), but in the last 200 meters I loved the wetsuit. Holy crow it got cold quick. The swim is a rectangle out and back. It starts from one swim platform and ends at a dock in the mountain stream. The temperature drops about 10 degrees in the stream. Maybe I would have just swum faster, but it is nice to rationalize the wetsuit. I am fine with my swim time. Even a great swim gains me less than 10 minutes. Official Swim time – 38:19 (282 of 374 male swimmers).

The path in and out of transition is very long here. The math game across 6-7 hours means that I see very little reason to sprint through transition. T1 went well. I gobbled 2 Stinger waffles to get the nutrition game under way. 3 of 4 bottles on the bike were Gatorade with Endurance powder; the other plain water. I knew the bike was a net downhill for 26 miles or so. The problem is that I don’t like bombing the downhills at 40+ mph, thus I lost some early mph gains burning the brakes to keep a comfortable speed. If you are thinking about doing this race, I recommend slowing for the Railroad crossings (2). Someone is going to make a killing on Craiglist with bottles and bottle racks in that area. I tried to remember to enjoy a GU and bottle of Gatorade Endurance (aka salt water) every hour. My legs did not feel good for 20 miles or so; the price of 5 days inactivity. The “twinge” did not return (although it hinted a couple times). Since I was using real bottles, I stopped at both water hand offs to refill a bottle. I also watered a tree along the side of the road. An equipment adjustment for IM Chatt should pull the water stops. The bathroom stops will remain, peeing myself is not an option.

For 40 miles, I kept thinking about that big damned hill. Once we finally hit it, I was off the bike and walking before I was even standing on the pedals. Folks passed me, grunting and straining. I told myself that this day was about covering 70.3 miles under my own power. I took the opportunity to eat a little extra, drink a little extra and let my heart rate settle. A number of others waited until they were burning and then moved into a walk. Am I a little ashamed that I quit the hill? Sure, but I passed every single person that passed me on that hill and quite a few more. In truth, I finished the ride feeling good, including the long hill back into the lake. As I crested that hill, my brother Dru was standing at the top, camera in hand. I felt the smile on my face fill me to my toes. It feels good have a cheering section. I have ridden faster on local training rides for longer distances. The hills were more than I expected, but done is done. Official ride time – 3:28:52 (16 mph) (303 out of 374 male riders)

T2 was smoother than T1 with less stuff to change out. My one man cheering section saw me onto the road and up the hill. The run is 3 miles out and back done twice. The organizers tell you that it is a 1%-2% grade up and downhill back. The slow uphill is daunting, but I like the running. When I made the turn around at th=op of the hill I thought, “cool, just one more uphill and I am done.” With 10 miles to go, I honestly saw an easy path to the finish. I held a 9:40 – 10:00 pace, only walking through the aid stations, drinking water only. I had some GU and Clif Blocks during the run but my methodical nutrition plan from the bike was ad hoc on the run. The first loop literally runs you to the chute of the finish line and then sends you back for an encore with the mountain. Dru cheered me through the turn around and I readied for one last dance with the mountain. About mile 8, I was dry mouthed, nothing sounded good and my stomach started cramping. They had Heed on the course which is, I think, a blend of salt and urine. While I cannot rave about the flavor, it was the salt I needed to break the cramps. As I headed down the hill with 2 miles to go I actually thought to myself that I could do another 13 miles. I also wondered how in the world I will do 140.6 in a few weeks. Official Run time – 2:10:42 (183 out of 338 male runners)

Total 6:26:29 for 1.2 miles swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

Done is done. I won first place for the Novice Masters. I was also second to last, but I got my award. The design is cool and I love the medal. This accomplishment is really something special. Every person out there, from first to last spent hours training. There is simply no way to wake and decide to do this tomorrow unless you are already committed to miles of training. For some, it represents a culmination. For me, it is a step. 11 months ago, my brother said he was doing a full IronMan.

The end of “during” was just the start of “before” the Full IronMan. We signed up together and will finish on the same day on September 27. After that, I’ll return to marathons and start thinking about an Ultra. We will do Ragnar Tennessee together. We will enjoy Rock and Roll Savannah with our wives. Slow and steady is easier on foot. If you read this far, I will say “I love you, mom and I love you, Dru.” The rest of you should have gone for a run 10 minutes ago.

Weary Legs, Weary Body, Rest Day Blues

I’ve joked a lot about how much I struggle with rest days. Here we are, another week in the books, with less than 10 to go until IM Chattanooga, and it is rest day. For once, I am truly grateful for my rest day. My body is telling me it needs today in a bad way. It is not anything specific, but more of an accumulation of the last 3 weeks combined with a lack of sleep. The lack of sleep is mostly a side effect of work + training + family stresses all hitting high points at the same time. Eventually it all catches up with you, and that is exactly where I am today.


It really is the best word for it. Nothing is broken, nothing is injured, but I need a day off nonetheless. The worst part is that by this afternoon, I will have forgotten how worn out I feel this morning and I will have to resist the desire to do something. In the grand scheme of things though, these days are arguably more important than workout days. They clearly indicate that the training days are getting it done. It is however, high time this old body takes the day, so that is what I am going to do.