Thursday, September 27, 2012

Speed? HA! Ha ha! Haaaaaaaaaaa....

The last two weeks I have been running. Compared to the thick of Ironman training, I haven't been running as much volume, just more frequency.

Last week I ran 5 times in a row. 45 mins each time, except for one 75 min run. Every run was slow, 9+ min pace, except for one speed workout, where I *gasp* broke a 7 min/mile pace for 30 seconds about 12 times. WOAH!

This week, same deal. Slow runs, except for an 85 min run, a speed workout where I broke a 7 min/mile pace again for 30 secs but about 15 times. WOAH!

Then that brings us to this morning. 20 min warmup, 15 mins tempo, 10 min cool down. I was told to go by heart rate. Easy enough: Run at a pace where if the alarm goes off, then slow down a tad until you bring that HR down and try to keep it consistent.

I did this. Not bad. I finish the cool down. Then I look at my results. 7:55 pace @ 162 bpm for 15 mins for the tempo part. On pancake flat ground, in drizzling rain.





I mean, back in June, even when I wasn't even close to my running peak of last March for the National Half, I was holding 1 mile repeats @ 6:35 pace at a HR of 170 bpm. 5 bpm more for 1:20/min faster pace.


Thank you Ironman training! You killed all of my running speed.

Not that taking 5 weeks off from structured training did anything....


But really, I am NOT concerned. I took some time off to relax and let my body heal. It is done healing and it is time to make a running comeback. It will come back. It always does.

I am going to redo this morning's run a few times over the next few weeks, now that I have a benchmark.

I am calling this my start, with a HUGE peak yet to come.

I just need to sign up for a race now. Perhaps a 10K somewhere?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Island Beach Two Mile Swim Race Report

(this is a throwback race report. I did this race back on August 4th)

I did this race in 2009, as a confidence boost for doing my first 70.3, Timberman. I did that race with a wetsuit and in 1:08:xx.

This year I did it sans safety blanket wetsuit in 1:12:33. OUCH!!!! Yes, I had a slight FREAK OUT about my swimming ability when I saw my time. I mean, I had a 2.4 mile swim to do in two weeks!!! And! I did a 2 mile OWS without a wetsuit back in May when I was in WAY worse shape in 1:08:xx. How was I in better shape AND going slower?!??!? AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!

Well, when at the awards ceremony, the RD goes, "Thanks everyone for coming to the first, haha, Island Beach two and a half mile swim...."

Then you realize what was up. Yes, the swim course was long, but also the current on the way back was pretty gnarly!

Beth and I started out the swim, and she took off (because she is part fish) and I settled into my pace. Like in 2009, I got to the turn around fairly quick (or so it felt) turned, and then it felt like an ETERNITY to get back to shore.

Every time I approached a buoy, it felt like I had to make a 90 degree turn to steer towards the next buoy. That is when I figured it out. There was a cross current that was pushing us right. So I would aim left. Didn't matter. I would still make a 90 degree turn. That current was wicked!

So between the longer set course and the current, it explains why my swim time was longer than expected.

I mean, Beth went under an hour last year, and did a 1:05:xx this year and she was in WAY WAY WAY better shape this year. Overall everyone's times were slow this year.

But I looked at the positive of the experience with the fact that I just swam 1:12:xx straight without a wetsuit. I knew at IMMT with a wetsuit on that I would go faster. This race didn't count towards anything other than getting a long swim in and mentally prepping myself for a 1+ hour straight swim.

And this swim did help. I went a low 1:05 @ IMMT.

And! Because nobody else showed up in our age groups, both Beth and I took 1st. Haha! YAY US!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What I Want

About two weeks before Mont Tremblant, I wanted nothing to do with swimming or biking. I just wanted to eat healthy, lift heavy things, and run fast!

I finished Mont Tremblant, sort of wanted to run, but then my left knee started to act up again. So there went the running, and I had no motivation to swim or bike. Blaaahhhhh......

I did have motivation to lift the heavy things. So I have been doing lots of that!

Looking at my logs, I have lifted 3-4 times a week for almost the past 3 weeks. Already I can notice a difference!

Well, at first the lifting was SUPER humbling. I always say that the first day is free, and the second day you pay for it. Oh, I paid for it. HARD. I could barely walk for the next three days! Basically my glutes were so tight from all of the squats, lunges, and leg presses. (Regretting taking about 12 weeks off my strength training!)

Then, I could only hold a plank for like 45 seconds before I got the violent shakes. Now? I can do a 3 x (90 sec front, 60 each side) plank set. Improvement already!

While I haven't upped the weight yet with the lifting, I am noticing that it is getting easier, and I am not getting sore afterwards.

And my knee while running? Haven't felt it act up over the last 3 runs. The leg strengthening is already working its magic. Phew! I did NOT want to have a repeat of last Fall. That sucked...

So! Going forward, I am starting to feel an itch to do a run race finally. Just a 10K, with possibly a 5K leading up to it. That is all I want to do this Fall in terms of racing. I have already raced 15 times this season. That is a LOT of racing for me!

Now I gotta find a 5K and 10K race....

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Leg Strengthening Routine

Since my last post, I have gotten a few requests for "what is your leg strength routine?" So instead of emailing out to individuals, I might as well just write up the entire workout.

This is basically what the PT had me doing to rehab my knee a year ago. Since then I have added some stuff. I won't lie, this is a decent 1 hour to 1:15 lower body workout once you get efficient at what you are doing. I think it is easiest to do this in a fully stocked gym. You will need the following equipment: Ankle Weights, Bosu Ball, Physio Ball, dumb bells, a chair or bench or step ups, leg extension machine and leg press machine. Also, a clock or timer.

Warmup - do 10 mins of your choice of walking, running, bike, eliptical. Just easy and just enough to get the blood flowing in your legs

Stretch - quick calf, hamstring, quad, and glute stretches. 30 seconds each muscle group, each side. 1 time each.

Abductors with weights - Grab your ankle weights and get ready to do some Jane Fonda style leg lifts. This exercise works your abductor muscles, which make up your outer thigh. Do 3 x 10 each leg. Start out with lighter ankle weights at first, and up the weight over time. I consider this part of the warmup.

Adductors with weights - Using the ankle weights again, this exercise works the inside of the thigh. 3 x 10 each leg

Leg raises on physio ball - Can't find a video for this one, but keeping your ankle weights on, lie on your back with both feet propped up onto a physio ball, legs straight. Take one leg and rotate it up and off to the side of the ball and down onto the ground beside the ball, then move the leg in a reverse motion back to resting position on the ball. Your leg does a kind of circular motion. Keep your leg straight and your foot flexed. This is one rep. Do 3 x 10 each leg.

Squats on Bosu Ball - Do 3 x 10. I use a 17lb kettle bell for some extra weight. Make sure your knees don't cross your toes!!!!

Lunges - Do 3 x 10 each leg. Same as squats, keep that knee behind your toe!!! You can add dumb bells if you need more weight.

Step Ups - Using either a chair, or a bench, or high step up board, step up, and step back down using the same foot. This is one rep. Do 3 x 10 each leg. You can add dumb bells if you need more weight.

Pitcher's squats - This is one of the harder exercises in this workout. Just like a squat or lunge, make sure that knee stays behind the toe! Add some dumb bells if you need more weight. This is a more challenging exercise and I feel like it did wonders for my rehab! Do 3 x 10 each leg.

Leg Extensions - Use a machine for this. This machine will work your VMO muscle. My VMO became very weak and is what caused my knee injury. To do this one, raise the bar with both legs, but then drop one leg, and slowly lower the bar with the other leg. Do 3 x 10 each leg. Pick a weight that you can do a full 3 x 10 set, but not so easy that it didn't do anything, but yet just hard enough to challenge you.

Leg Press - Use a machine for this. Don't lock your legs straight on the extension, and remember to breath! Again, pick a weight that is challenging, yet doable for a 3 x 10 set. Both legs are used at all times!!! No single leg!!

Planks - Time to work that core! I do a front plank, then each side, then rest, then repeat. Do 3 sets of these. How much time you do each plank will depend on how long you can hold it. Challenge yourself! And keep that body straight. NO up in the air butt. That is cheating!

Stretch - repeat the same stretching you just did after the 10 min warmup.

Like I mentioned in my last post, this route not only rehabbed me from a knee injury, but it made me way stronger and even faster. I was able to hold a faster pace for longer, AND! recover quicker from hard workouts.

Good luck and leave a comment if you have any Q's.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Thought Vomit Post

Since finishing Mont Tremblant, and not being signed up for another race until next May, I have had a lot of time to digest how the race went, what I did differently this season, and what I want to do in this sport going forward.

I still see the race as a success. Now that I think about how I felt on those final two hills of the run, I question whether I ran hard enough? I recall my legs being REALLY pissed off at me in the final 5K, so I also think had I gone like 10-15 secs/mile faster overall, would I have even run the final 5K because I would have been cooked? We will never know. But I guess this speaks one thing: I want to run my next Ironman Marathon even faster. Perhaps another 27 min PR for that distance is in order? HA!

As for what I did differently this season, I told my coach back in January when he asked about my goals for the season, I put "I want to become a monster on the bike this season." This happened. I broke 2:30 in a 70.3, and went 25 mins faster at IMMT vs Placid. I didn't even feel like I rode as much this season vs 2011, yet I was just stronger overall on the bike.

A fundamental thing I did differently this season was leg strengthening. My knee injury from a year ago was probably the best thing that could have happened to me in this sport. Sounds fucked up right? But to rehab myself from that injury, I did leg strengthening 3X a week for a solid 12 weeks. And then I continued with it 1-2X a week.

What I noticed from this was quick recovery times from tough races. I was running faster! I was breaking the 7 min pace mark in a lot of shorter running races all of a sudden, and immediately after coming back from an injury. It also helped support and sustain my endurance in longer races. I could hold that faster pace for longer. I am convinced strengthening my legs that much changed me as an athlete this season.

Going forward I will do another Ironman. I really really really hated the distance this season. I did NOT want to do IMMT this season. I don't know what was up with me or when I suddenly didn't want to do the race, but those 5+ hour rides all sucked except for a few. I dreaded those long 2.5 hour runs. I just wasn't in the mood to do an Ironman this season!

But I made a commitment and when I realized that I did NOT want to do this race this season, I told myself to get through it and to take a break from the distance for awhile after completing IMMT. And I am doing this. NO Ironman in 2013! Just 70.3's or shorter.

Now, I am VERY happy that I followed through with doing the race. I had an absolute blast doing the race with an exceptional group of just awesome people. YOU guys made the race fun!

I also realized something this season, especially when my coach told me on the beach at the Pat Griskus Olympic, "Jon, you are racing now! Not going for a PR, but RACING!"

And because Griskus was a super hilly course, I knew I wouldn't be able to PR the bike course as easily just because it was hilly! My realization is that PR's are starting to become overrated. I am racing now.

I now want to race to place. And not just in the small races, but in the bigger races. I was 11 mins away from a Vegas slot @ IMMT 70.3. 11 minutes!!! Had I ran a 1:36 or faster, a slot would have been mine! And I KNOW I can run a 1:36 in a 70.3. My standalone is a 1:32:xx.

So next season, I am not going to make it a goal to get a Vegas slot, but I think it would be fun (and motivating!!) to get as close to one as possible.

This Fall I am doing two things: Getting strong and getting lean. I have been craving strength training and eating healthy. My diet the last 4-5 months has been ATROCIOUS! I didn't cook a healthy dinner for myself once during that period. In the last two weeks alone, I have cooked almost every night, and cooked a ton of healthy things. I refuse to processed anything. If it isn't whole food, then I don't eat it.

FYI: Beer is whole food. Don't argue. It just is! ;)

Over and out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The Run


Running into T2 on that red carpet after handing off my bike, I actually stopped, took off my cycling shoes, and ran barefoot into the tent. I don't like running leg a penguin for that long!!

Considering the negative thoughts that I had about running at that moment and not wanting to finish the damn race, I was quite surprised at how well my legs were doing at that moment.

But I didn't think about it and just got into my running gear as quick as possible. Then I started to walk.

I didn't want to run. I just wanted to walk. So I walked out, to the sunscreen crew, got all lathered up, and started the run.

Regardless of how well the bike went, I knew that running would feel "funny." Well, any brick run always feels "funny", but not like after biking 112 miles, ESPECIALLY after botching the bike.

But this "funniness" didn't feel too "funny." It was in the normal realm of "funny."

So I went with it.

I quickly saw my parents and then I saw Beth.

Schmoopy alert!!!


I learned something from the last couple of brick runs after riding 100+ miles: If I ran at a normal pace I would be running 8 min miles and I would burn out after 30 mins.


If I ran as slow as humanly possible, I would still be running 8:30-9:00 min miles and yet I could sustain that pace forever. Its that strange sensation of going fast for so long, that your perception of slow is WAY slower than what you are actually physically doing.

So I did this.

Coming out of T2, you make a few turns, then you go up a short, but steep hill. It would be the first true test of how your legs would feel. It was already hot and bright and sunny out and I knew that going slow would save my day.

There is a famous actor in this photo racing behind me. He is covering his face, of course!

My legs also didn't hurt! WTF?!?!? MY LEGS DIDN'T HURT!!!!

It was a miracle! 

After blowing up on the bike, which, statistically, should yield a crappy marathon, gave me the best long run of my life!

So I created a mantra every time I felt myself speeding up:

My race, My pace, SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!!!

And it worked! Here are my mile splits:

click to enlarge

I ran as if I was going to blow up at any moment. Talk about running scared!

If you notice the graph, you will notice 4 blips. Those are bathroom breaks. Hey, you gotta go! No issues like at Lake Placid, just normal long run breaks.

As for nutrition, I didn't eat for roughly the first hour. I just couldn't. I wasn't hungry and couldn't stomach anything other than water. At around the 6 or 7K mark I saw Kevin for the first time. He was looking strong.

At the first turnaround, I took my first Gu. I didn't want it, but I knew I had to take in something for fear of my body bonking. I continued to run in fear of my life.

As I was getting towards the end of the dirt path back onto pavement, I saw Sarah, Jeff, and then Dave. I now knew where everyone was, and I used this on the 2nd lap as landmarks to find people and would gauge that as to how I was doing vs them. I wasn't competing against them, it just gave me something to look forward to. It is all about breaking up the monotony!!

As I was coming into town for the first time, I saw Kevin coming on his second loop and he again looked strong.

Then I saw my folks and Beth and I yelled to them "1:56!" before I headed up into the village to complete the first lap. I did lap #1 in 2:02.

As I headed out of town it was getting gloomy. It had been getting gloomy since about the 5K mark onwards, but I knew it was going to get gloomier as the run continued.

I still ran scared of blowing up.

Basically every 30 mins I took a Gel and when I reached the beginning of the dirt path on lap #2, I started in on the coke. OMG. Coke. Simple yet tasty yet easy pure energy. At the turn with about 7-ish miles to go, it was starting to get cold and drizzly and I heard the magic words "chicken broth." I started YELLING for the chicken broth!!! I had one cup of it. It was so warm and comforting that it literally snapped me awake. I mean, I wasn't in a funk or anything or even sleepy, it just snapped me MORE awake! Unfortunately that was the only station I found that had broth. It was enough though!

With 5K to go, I was starting to feel it. My feet up that point were what hurt the most, and NOT my legs. Those two things quickly switched and my feet felt better, but my legs, especially my quads and hamstrings were starting to really really feel it. But! I only had 5K to go. I just had to keep on moving...

Up this point, at 37.xx kilometers in, I didn't have to walk once. I only walked a few steps at aid stations to get a drink down without spilling it on myself. I never had to walk because I couldn't run any further. This was a matter of pride mostly because of A) To prove to myself that I could redeem my poor pacing choices on the bike and B) To redeem the pride I lost from walking the last 8 miles of the marathon at Lake Placid.

At last I was on the home stretch coming back into town and around the lake. There were three climbs ahead and I dreaded them, just waiting for my legs to give out. It never happened. I powered up those final three climbs with ease (and total shock!) and once I was passed the special needs area, I started to get SUPER fired up! I knew this race was in the bag and I had REDEEMED myself from the bike and from that Lake Placid run and started sprinting down the long long finisher's chute, high fiving total strangers until I came up to the finish line and I was an Ironman for the 2nd time in my life.

Feeling strong!

After crossing and a volunteer grabbing me, I felt great! Well, great in that I did NOT need to go to the med tent and I could still walk (not great) and function. I found Beth and then my folks showed up.

I went and got my bike and bags and headed towards the hotel just as the sky let loose. I finished just in time!

I was SO satisfied with this race.

1:00:08 PR!!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The Bike


From volunteering in the men's T1 tent at Lake Placid in 2010, I remember that the tent gets most crowded for the 1:05-1:15 range of swimmers. That is when the tent becomes utter mayhem. I landed in the tent at Lake Placid in 2011 with a 1:10 swim and was lucky to find a seat to put my bag on.

With a low 1:05 swim this year, I got into the tent just before the hordes took the place over and I had the entire tent to myself! This also meant that I would get onto the bike course before the hordes also took over.

I simply got in and out of T1 as fast as possible. As I was exiting, there was Beth! She was working on the sunscreening screw. I stopped for a split second, gave her a big kiss and away I went for my bike.

Onto the bike it was flashback city to June in the 70.3. I KNOW THIS COURSE!!! I OWN IT!!!

For the first loop, I just kept it in check (or so I thought) and did my thing (or so I thought).

Fast forward to starting the second loop after special needs, and I was NOT a happy boy any more.


Basically, I did what I vowed NOT to do: Go out too hard on 117. I also vowed NOT to big ring up every single tiny little up on the Lac Superior out and back. Did that!

Basically I screwed myself royally.

And as a result? My stomach wouldn't take the Uncrustables anymore, which those turned into gigantic sponges that blocked any more nutritional I piled in on top of it in my stomach.

So the 2nd loop of the bike went like this:

"Yep, I screwed up."

"I am not hungry. Full in fact, yet my legs feel like they want to bonk! WTF?"

"I might not finish the bike."

"I REALLY want to quit!"

"Oh, I am TOTALLY quitting!"

"Why would I spend the next 5.5 hours walking a stupid marathon."

"This isn't fun anymore. I knew I should have called it a season back in June."

Then I started to think about my fellow racers. My family. The disappointment in Beth's face. My coach's! Kevin, Jeff, Mandy, Dave. What would my explanation be? That I had a stomach ache and poor little legs hurt?!? And I dropped out because of that?

I eventually finished the 2nd loop of the bike in just about 3 hours, after going a 2:41:xx for the first loop. All said and done by that point of the race, I had 10 MORE HOURS TO FINISH A MARATHON!


Amazing how your mind can rationalize quitting in this way. I felt so......damn guilty about even thinking about this!

Then I remembered something: You will always have your dark moments in ANY race you do. This was my dark moment, and I simply didn't need to listen to it.

So I made a deal with myself: Get into T2, put your shoes on, and just start running and see what happens. That is all.

I knew I could finish this bike ride, I knew it would hurt and would take a bit more time than expected.

With about 45 mins left, or about when I hit town for the final out and back up to Lac Superior, those stupid Uncrustables in my stomach made their way through and the Gu's and EFS that had piled on top also made their way through, AND! into my legs FINALLY! So the final 45 mins of the bike I was feeling better. NOT great! But just better.

Trust me, I am still kicking myself for that awful performance on the bike.

Wait a second, yes, I did do the bike 25 mins faster than Placid, but I felt like I executed the bike at Placid 10,000,000,000% better, even with a broken front derailleur from mile 43 on. It is a matter of pride here! Haha!

Also, I am not blaming the Uncrustables. The harder you race, the more inefficient your stomach becomes, which means you need to eat simpler foods. An Uncrustable is NOT a simple food. At a slower pace (which I should have held and trained for), I can easily digest an Uncrustable. But I did not do that and shut my stomach down for digesting such as a thing. At that effort, I should have been consuming EFS, Gu, and Gatorade only.

Lesson learned!: Don't go harder than you trained for. Otherwise expect a big fat nutrition FAIL.

Once off the bike and running into T2, I dreaded what was to come....