Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Dress Rehearsal - 7 Days to GO!

Seven days before the Ironman Triathlon, I thought it would be a good idea to do a race.
(How is that a good idea?)
I wanted to road test my plans & see if there were any kinks to be worked out.
The plan was to keep it in zone three.
There are five zones of exertion. My plan for the Ironman is to race in zone three, so it made sense to race a smaller race like the NYC Tri in that fashion.
(What is "zone three"?)
Simply put, if zone one is walking & zone five is running as hard as you can for 30 seconds, zone three is in the middle.
You are racing at marathon pace.
(Or say Ironman pace?)
Now you've got it.

Last year at Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) I swam the first lap in 40 minutes & the second in 45 minutes. That means...
(You are getting old?)
That I lost momentum in the second loop
(You are old, so you got tired)
This year, I did swim workouts that were much longer than
the race swim to work on my endurance & build up my speed. The only way to know if this worked was to swim in a race.
(So how did you modify a 3,860 meter swim to a race of 1,500 meters?)
I resisted the urge to sprint. Instead I focused on swimming at my practice pace.
I wasn't going to wear my wet suit, but since this was a full dress rehearsal, I had to. Somehow, when I scooted my butt off the pier & into the water, an air pocket got trapped in my wet suit & gave me extra buoyancy. 
(Is that you in the picture reaching behind to open your wet suit?)
Leave it to the NYC tri to find this one picture of me from the swim.

Last year at IMLP, I raced through the first 56 mile loop & was feeling dead on the second loop. This year I used a power meter in training. So during the NYC Tri I glanced at the meter to make sure I was in zone 3 as much as I could. It kept me from sprinting forward
(Which would have been bad since you need your legs to be rested for next week).
I wanted to break my course record of 1:21:23 (18 mph), but in zone three I finished the 25 miles at 1:31:39 (16.2 mph).
(That sucks)
No it doesn't. If I can hold that 16.2 mph, for 112 miles, my finish time will be an hour faster than last year.
(Huh? Did you say something?)
The ADD part of me needs to focus here.

At IMLP last year, & at the NYC Marathon last year my run pacing was off. At both events, I had to walk part of the way.
(Now the NYC Tri is not a marathon...)
But it is held on a very hot day, after biking & swimming.
Instead of sprinting, I ran at an 11 minute pace.
(That sucks)

Yeah, it's slow even for me, for a 10k (6.2 miles),
but for a marathon, that's much faster than I have ever held.
(I still don't understand)
I had to hold that pace running up hills from Riverside Park to 72nd St. & across 72 when I knew I could sprint. I continued to stay in zone 3 through Central Park as others passed me. 
I was even able to run up the "Harlem Hill" section of the course in Central Park.
(I guess all that running in the middle of the night paid off) 
I got stronger & I was home when the kids were home.
(Which might be the reason you cry every time you see them waiting for you at a race).
Like I'm doing in this picture.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Immensity of It All- 13 days to GO

An Ironman Triathlon is:

2.4 mile swim. 
112 mile bike ride.
26.2 mile run. 
140.6 miles in under 17 hours.
(What happens if it takes you more than 17 hours?)
You get disqualified :(

It's a staggering amount of mileage in a short amount of time, but this number alone doesn't tell the whole story. Starting in May, when the last 8 weeks of training commences, the volume of miles looks like this:

Since I run before work, the longer the run, the earlier the wake up.
By the point I was doing 18 & 20 mile runs, I was going to bed at 11 & waking up at 2 to run.
I love running in NYC. The streets are always lit. Since it is a grid, there is no chance of getting lost. There are plenty of NYC landmarks to run past & there's no danger of wild animals.
I knew that ultra runners compete in events where they run for 24 straight hours, so I wasn't worried about training on minimal amounts of sleep.  
My body is ok with sleeping for 2-3 hours a night, running for 4 hours & then teaching a full day of classes.

Once again, do not try this at home.

In the last 8 weeks of training, there were long swims that lasted for almost 2 hours.
(With breaks?)
No breaks. Flip turn at the wall & keep on swimming. I kept repeated my mantra: Nose facing the bottom of the pool, arms outstretched. I wasn't bored, but when the swim was done my arms were sore & I was starving.
And...there were 100 + mile bike rides.
(With breaks?)
Only time I stopped was for red lights, stop signs or to buy more water. Spending the day, riding my bike, with the sun in my face is one of my happy places. I would pedal north, rolling through town after town. Teaneck, Leonia, Fort Lee, Englewood Cliffs, Alpine, Sparkill, Piermont, Nyack, Congers, Havestraw, Stony Point, Bear Mountain, West Point, Storm King Mountain...
(How long did those rides last?)
Over 8 hours.
(At that pace, won't you be disqualified at the Ironman for being too slow?)
I trained on 9W, a stretch of road with many more hills than the actual race.

The end result was that in 8 weeks I
Swam 47,000  meters
Biked  800 miles
Ran    155 miles 
These numbers are incomprehensible to me.
The swim is double of what I had expected.
The bike averaged out that I was doing 100 miles a week, every week.
The run...as someone who once struggled to run more than 3 miles at a time, I am just speechless.
I had a total caloric burn of:
And those were just workout burning calories.
I burn an average of 1,500 calories a day without training. 
So in 8 weeks, my total burn was about 165,000.
To avoid losing too much weight, I increased my caloric intake.
To find out what I ate, you will have to wait another week...

Monday, July 3, 2017

Carrying that Weight - 21 Days to GO!

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Ana├»s Nin
It started with a photograph. My friend Peter shot a picture of me leaving the water at the Half Ironman in September of 2013.
There I was running for the transition area where my bike was waiting for me.

It was there, clear for everyone to see. I had a tummy.
"Psst, hey, this is our little secret. No one needs to know, right?" 
That was the what the voice in my head said.
I'm 5' 7, so I should weigh between 154-159. So what if I was 165? What's 6 lbs between friends?
I was 45 years old at the time. Being 6 lbs over was pretty good.
BUT...I hate dishonesty. Especially when it is coming from my own head.
I had been lying to myself. 

"You're a triathlete, you can eat anything you want."
NO, I could not. I was 45 & it was time to be honest about what I was doing.
I was eating with my eyes & not using my head.
On Saturdays, I would consume 750-1,000 calories for breakfast at Synagogue.
Then I would go home and repeat the same eating...grazing at lunch.
Peter's photo inspired me to make a change.
I was going to make smarter choices.
When given a choice, I would choose lean proteins vegis over processed carbs.
When I had to snack, I would eat a ClifBar instead of a whole box of cookies.
I would limit my meals to one serving...not three.

Result? I dropped 10 lbs in 3 months. 
              I went from this:                   To this: 


The problem became, trying to keep the weight off. I started weighing my self every day. I started substituting coffee for food. 

When my weight hit 149, my wife started to worry.
I decided to gave up the scale.
The question then became, "What do I eat?"
I went back to my training as a coach. What had I been instructing my athletes to do when they were training?
A yogurt for breakfast.
A banana for snack.
A sandwich for lunch.
A plate of proteins & veggies for dinner.
Some hummus & chips for late night snack.
(So how has your weight been for the last 18 months?)
Between 160-163. In the last 8 weeks of training, my weight dropped to 158 & that is ok. That's what the post workout pizza is for.
As long as my pants fit, I'm good with what ever the scale says I weigh.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Hills Are Calling 27 Days to GO!

Ironman Triathlons are notorious for having one of two conditions on the bike course.  

Wind or hills.  
(& you hate hills)
Since I hate hills, I naturally I picked a bike course with really bad hills.
(Naturally, because everything about this makes logical sense)
The Lake Placid bike course is notorious for its 20 mile incline. 
Image result for ironman lake placid bike elevation gain
There are spots where the course flattens out, but in three locations you have to get over "the hump"...actually, three humps. They are notorious on the course as "The Three Bears - Baby, Mama & Papa." I have been so intimidated by this course that I've actually I avoided it for five years. So the question you're asking me is how does one train for such an endeavor?
(No, the question is: have you lost your freakin mind???)
You practice riding hills.
(Yup, you have. You've nuttier than a psycho ward. You just told us, you hate hills)
Luckily the state of New Jersey has no shortage of hills to climb.

If I lived in Brooklyn it would be a completely different story, but its not Brooklyn it's Joisey.
1 mile from my house is DeGraw.
1200 feet (3/4 of a mile) at 9 degree incline.
Athletes who want to train with me have to be able to get the hill without stopping. 
I will never forget the newbie who had to dismount half way up the hill so they could throw up their breakfast.
(So you hate hills & your athletes)

Getting up the hill never gets easier, you just get faster at ascending to the top. Like the time I road to the top of Bear Mountain.

Once you reach the top, there's a new hill to ride down. At the same time, if you ride down a hill, you have ride back up it if you want to get back home.
(Wouldn't it just be easier to stay home in the first place? Wait a minute, why am I even asking you? It's clear you're a few fries short of a Happy Meal)
These hills are much harder then the ones I will encounter in Lake Placid that's the point.
After 112 miles of hills, I will still have a full 26 mile marathon to run so I need to teach my body hold back and leave a little gas in the tank. This is the mistake I made at Ironman Lake Placid.

(Definitely a few fries short of a happy meal)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Running with the Night - 33 Days to GO

In 2012, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to start Ironman Arizona & almost fell back asleep, because I was so tired.
The following year, 
"There is nothing fun about 4:30 a.m." 
Shankman asked me to join him for a run. By the spring of 2016, I was waking up at 3:30 a.m. to join him for "our" 4:30 a.m. runs. 

That was fine, until I needed to start running farther.I have to be at my desk at 7:30, so to cover 3.5 hours of running, I need to start early. By June, I was waking up at 2 a.m. & running 18 miles by myself. 

(How do you function?)
I don't know. I simply wake up & I'm afraid to go back to sleep.
(Afraid of what?)
(Snakes under the bed? Falling? Showing up to work naked?)
Oversleeping the start of the race...& yes to the other three fears.
Shakespear said, "Macbeth doth murder sleep".
Ironman murdered mine.

Actually, I started not sleeping late on my days off.
My body just adjusted.
(To what?)
Sleeping 3 hours and then running 18 miles.

(That's not normal)
Ultra marathon runners go run on minimal sleep

(They are not normal either...wait. Are you?)
I'm thinking about it, but that's not on my horizon right now.

Right now I am thinking about my family.
Ever since he could speak, my 5 year old has thought that 
"Daddy's job is running".
I don't want to be "THAT DAD".
(Which Dad is "THAT DAD"?)
The one who spent his kid's childhood training, not playing with his kids.

(So you run when they sleep?)
I run in their dreams...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

What a Year Difference Makes -40 Days to GO

Arriving at the Ironman village last year, for Ironman Lake Placid my wife asked me,
"How do you feel?"
"I wish that I had more time to train."
As I look at my Facebook "memories" from last year, I can see that I am weeks ahead of where I was 12 months ago.
Instead of starting the 4,000 meter swims June 10, I started May 26.
(I'm now 250 meters ahead & minutes faster too)


Last year my biking was split into two parts: Indoor & outdoor.
January-April I rode indoors, once a week. That was it.
The longest ride was 90 minutes. All I did was spin, no actual formal training.
This year, I rode 3 times a week indoors between January-April.
Each ride had a specific goal. I also bought a power meter to help me see just how hard I should be spinning.
By the time I started climbing hills outside in April, I found that I was able to climb with ease. Last year at Lake Placid it was the hills that almost did me in.
7:55:04 for 112 miles is way to slow (14.1 mph) when I have put this much time into it.

Last year I cut my marathon down by an hour. I was blown away to be running instead of walking (like the three previous Ironmans).
Part of that was running more than one 18 mile run.
So as I said to my wife...I wish that I had more time
So I mapped out my training & started the volume loading sooner

With just over 40 days to go, I am running 18 miles & the only thing stopping me is time.
I have to get to work.
(So start earlier.)
That, is a conversation for another blog.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Like a Ton of Bricks- 60 Day to GO!

And the season of BRICK workouts is upon us.
(What is a BRICK workout?)
When you do two different workouts, one after the other without a break. Like going for a bike ride and as soon as you get off the bike, switch your bike shoes for running sneakers and go running.
(So why do you call them BRICKS?)
Because they are stacked one on top of another...like bricks
Named after world duatholon champion Matt Brick, who employed them in his training and thereby made them famous.
Because of the way your legs feel the first time you try to run off the bike ;-)
Because you feel like you've been hit by a ton of em’ when you're done.
For the record, I hate doing them.
(So, don't)
But I recognize them as a necessary evil.
(Why are the a necessary...evil?)
When you dismount after 112 miles, you hand your bike off the volunteer in the yellow shirt.
Then you have to run to the changing tent & prepare to run a marathon.
If you are not use to running after hours of pedaling, you might face plant, right there.
(But you are wearing sneakers)
No, you are cycling in bike shoes & now you need to go put on your sneakers.
Triathlon is a race where you swim, run to your bike, bike, get off your bike, then go running…all without stopping.

(Why would you do that?)
That, is an entirely different blog entry.