Balancing Training with Life

All About Balancing

Analyzing the “Lazy” Last Month


The previous post about 3 weeks ago, just after finishing (actually DNFing) the Rev3 Full Triathlon.  It was my first DNF.  And honestly, I took pride in finishing every race I ever started.  But, as the old saying goes, “pride comes before the fall.”  However, during that humbling moment and taking some serious time off from any structured training over the last 3 or 4 weeks, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to cancel the remainder of the season and get ready for the next.  It was during this time that I (re)learned the importance of balance in life.

Anyone that has every trained for an IM race knows that it takes 100% commitment, and often other parts of life are sacrificed in the process.  If something doesn’t give, the load of training, work, friends/family, etc. takes its toll leaving the athlete both physically and mentally exhausted.  During the three week build before tapering down for 2 weeks for the Ironman Louisville, I tried to keep juggling everything in my life and ended up not doing a very good job of it.  Instead of letting one thing go, in my attempt to not give anything up, everything ended up going south.  When this starts happening I notice a few things change about me.

The first thing is that my attitude changes.  I struggle to keep a good attitude about everything (work, church, training, social life).  I just don’t have energy to do any of it, but do it anyways half-heartedly.  We all know the power of a good/bad attitude.

Secondly, my energy level hits rock bottom.  Part of it is due to the hot weather that makes me wake up early to get my training in even on my days off.  I don’t get a chance to sleep in to recover adequately or maintain my energy levels.

The third thing that goes is my health.  After burning the candle at both ends, the stressors of life win out and beat my normally functional immune system.

This is exactly what happened with Ironman Louisville.  I did my best to keep a good attitude about the long runs and rides I had to do to prepare adequately.  I compromised on those long runs and didn’t hit the intensities I should have.  After a couple weeks into the build process, my body started feeling really fatigued.  And once I lowered my volume for tapering, I got sick 3 days before the race.

I do this to myself almost every year.  I put too much on my plate and push myself to exhaustion.  I seem to learn the same lesson each year around this time after analyzing me season.  Life is about balance, and without balance, life becomes a struggle.

So for next year, I’m not sure that I’m even going to do one Ironman race.  If I do, it will be Ironman Louisville, and I’ll make the decision about a month or so out from the race.  I want to focus on shorter races (70.3) so I can work on speed and endurance without compromising so much.  And the work for this starts tomorrow at Mary T before heading into work.  I’m excited for the preparation for 2013 to start.  This lets me know that I’m mentally ready to start some structure again.  I also know that I’m physically ready to start putting in the hours of training again after I’ve seen my bike wattages climb back to what they were when just doing a casual ride before starting my high volume for IM Louisville.  In fact, my max wattage is about 120 watts higher now than it was a year ago even after doing minimal training for the last month (I hit it on an attack during a group ride today at 785 watts).

Looking back on where I was a year ago, I’m very happy with my coach, Justin Trolle.  My IM average watts increased by about 35 watts this year… and if I can do it again for next year, I may be slightly more competitive. (I don’t have any data from any 70.3 in 2011, but I know there were significant gains there too).

So what am I going to do to keep things in balance this coming year to not push my body over the edge?  Good question… after we get past thanksgiving, I’m going to cut my work hours back to 5 days per pay period instead of 6.  I going to take the risk of making slightly less money at the hospital and hopefully make up some income from starting my own coaching business, Progressive Endurance (www.progressiveendurance.com).  This will allow me to recover better, hit my intensities as they need to be, and will ultimately keep my attitude positive, my energy levels high, and my health in check.

First race should be on February 2nd inPanama.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Cya at the starting line…


Rev3 Cedar Point Race Report

All Good Things Come to an End

Cedar Point Full Rev Race Report


Two weeks before doing the Full Rev in Cedar Point, I had one of my worst Ironman races ever in my hometown ofLouisville.  I was very disappointed with my results inLouisville, and was hoping for redemption in this race.  However, I knew that bouncing back two weeks later and having a good performance was slim.  I felt fatigued the week leading up to the race… maybe because I worked 5 out of 7 days for 12+ hours.

I was able to find a very convenient place to stay during the weekend of the race with some people fromIndianapolis, Mike and Tracy Winn and few people that Mike coaches, just a couple miles from race site.  I rode my bike with all my gear to the transition area the morning of the race.  It probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, since I didn’t have a headlight.  I rode on the left side of the road because I figured all the traffic would be heading to the park at this time.  Thankfully I was right, and didn’t get into an accident on the way there.

While setting up my bike, some of my friends that were racing/spectating the race came up to wish me good luck.  They asked me if my parents were coming.  I told them they weren’t since they had just made a trip to Louisville two weeks ago.  I made my way to the swim start, which is about a ½ mile walk down the beach.  And got myself ready to start the swim.

The swim course was a two loop course then about a ½ mile straight swim to the exit.  I felt the current of the lake from the winds the day before made the swim much slower than normal.  On my way out to the first turn buoy  someone’s elbow found my goggles and knocked them off.  I had to stop for a moment so I could see, and lost the pack that I was swimming with at the time.  I exited the water and made the short run to transition hoping to hold my own on the bike course that is much easier than Ironman Louisville.

Right from the beginning, I felt that I was working harder than I should be to hold my wattage between 250 and 260.  About 25 miles in the bike course was the second aid station… and my parents!  I was shocked to see them.

It was great to have some support on the course.  They drove around the bike course, stopping every so often to cheer and give me some encouragement.  So, a big thank you to my mom and dad for getting up at 4 am to drive to Cedar Point to see another race!

My legs starting feeling weak around mile 60, and it didn’t take long for me to really feel the effects of the IM Louisville.  I had no snap in my legs and just struggled to maintain even a respectable pace.  By mile 80, I had decided to just spin in and call it quits for the race.  I just didn’t see the point of destroying my legs more than they already were and prolong the needed recovery.

During the last several miles, I had several thoughts go through my head.  I was dispointed about not finishing, and even more upset with myself that my parents drove all that way to not see me finish.  I felt that I owed it to them to finish.  I also reflected on the remaining races I had planned and just didn’t see myself ever getting fully recovered from these races to do well inSouth Carolina,Miami, or IM Florida.  By the time I got back to transition, I had decided to cancel all the races except IM Florida.  It also freed up schedule to be able to go a wedding of a friend of my girlfriend… and I knew that would make her happy since she wouldn’t have to go without a date anymore!

The following day, I talked to my coach and he seemed to be okay with me doing IM Florida.  However, by this point, I was going back and forth on what I wanted to do for the remainder of the season.  My coach and I both know that I have lots of work to do on the bike.  I need to be able to pace 24 mph for 112 miles to be competitive in the professional circuit.  I also knew that I wanted to go to Panama the beginning of February next year for the 70.3. IMFL and Panama are only about 3 months apart, not lending enough time for adequate recovery  and enough time during the off-season to get faster/stronger.  I asked my coach to “shoot me straight” and tell me if doing IMFL would be a good idea based on the amount of work that needs to be done.  He said that I should skip it.

So, just a few days ago, I thought I would have 3 more races after Rev3 Cedar Point until the end of my season.  However, I decided to end my season earlier than I have for the last several years in hopes of getting faster for next season.

I have also done some thinking about the races for next year and my goals for the season.  I am starting early again with an international race (if everything goes as planned) and need to work on the 70.3 distance (which I prefer to 140.6) so I can hold the speed on the bike for the Ironman distance down the road.  I may only do 70.3 races and no IM distance races, or I may do all 70.3 races except for IM Louisville and depending on how I feel, end my season at the end of August in 2013.  The good news is that I have time to figure it out, and get faster.

Looking back on the season, even though it ended with two disappointing races, I have had a great season and had tons of fun while doing it.  I turned pro and finished in the 50th percentile 3 or 4 times, which I was very happy with for my rookie year.  I smashed my Olympic Distance personal best by about 2 minutes (1:56), and improved my speed across the board in all three events.  I couldn’t have done it without help from my coach, Justin Trolle with Vanguard Triathlon, masters swim practices, help with my swim stroke with Manuel, my mom and dad who listen to me rant on about goals/races and offer encouragement when things aren’t going how I’d like, and so many other local athletes that gave me a hand in finding housing for races and encouragement to keep pushing toward my goals.

During the off season, I plan on keeping things fun by doing some road running races and some trail races.  I need to have something to look forward to so I can have goal to work towards.  Right now, I’m thinking about doing the Louisville Sports Commission mini-marathon and the Silt Stone mini-trail marathon.

Cya at the starting…


Rev3 Cedar Point Prerace

Recover, Train, Taper, Race

Rev3 Cedar Point Full-Iron Pre-race Post


It’s hard to believe that Ironman Louisville was only about 10 days ago.  It seems like a lot has happened since then, so in some ways Ironman Louisville feels like it was months ago.  However, the nightmare of a race I had is vivid enough that it seems like it was just yesterday.  I had three days after the race before heading back to work to try to recover as much as possible, then worked 4 out of 5 days, attempting to get some training in to keep my fitness for Rev3 race this coming weekend.  Those three days gave me lots of time to reflect on my race, seeing my mistakes, figuring out a game plan for the next race, and focusing my sights on redemption.  However, I also (re)learned something that is very loosely tied to triathlon.

As many of you know, I do my best to learn something about myself with every race.  Along with that, I also try to learn something spiritually from my experiences before and during the race.  I’ll do my best not to preach and be brief while still getting my point across:

Ironman Louisville was going to be stepping stone to get some more local coverage and publicity, hopefully leading to getting local businesses to get behind me and help me out next year.  Obviously, the race didn’t go as planned.  I started thinking about what lessons were in that day for me to learn.  My mind went to the story of theTowerofBabelfound in Genesis 11.  The people ofBabelwanted to build a giant tower so they would be famous, and people would be amazed at their accomplishments.  However, God saw a huge problem with this, so he confused their languages, and stopped their progress.  I also began thinking about how I had laid down a “perfect” plan/strategy of attack for the rest of the season and preparing for next.  Last week, I was reading James and came across the verses that say:


“Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

Another thought came to mind, that resonates throughout portions of the Bible.  The specific verse that came to mind is found in Proverbs:  “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

These three passages from the Bible made it clear to me that my motives for the race were wrong.  If I would have strung together a good race, it would have been very easy for me to look back and say, “look at what I did this season… I accomplished so much.  And as a result, I was able to find a bunch of sponsors, work less, etc.”  However, God often will humble us at the moments we want to shine.  It took a poor race performance to realize that all my blessings are from God, and not a result of anything that I’ve done.  I am just a steward of a gift.  To use not it as God as intended is wrong.

Whew… that wasn’t so bad was it for someone that can be a little long winded.  Now, let’s move on to September 9th’s race.

I’ve got a different plan of attack for this race that I hope works out well.  First of all, my plan is to 100% healthy and for this race instead of getting sick with a cold with a slight fever three days before the race.  Secondly, my nutrition set up will optimally (at least as best as I can think of) set up for allowing me to get more fresh, cold water along the course, while still using my sports drink of choice, Infinite.  I also plan on grabbing more fresh water at every aid station, whether I think I need it or not and at least get a small drink from it, spray it down my back to stay cool and rinse whatever urine might be on me off before I go again J.

If I can get off the bike well hydrated, while consuming the adequate amount of calories on the bike, I am confident the run (typically my best portion of the race), will fall into place.  After reading the athlete packet, I am a little disappointed that it appears that the aid stations on the run won’t have flattened coke.  If that is true, I plan on carrying a small bottle with some of my own flattened coke in it and put one in my special needs bag on the run.

My goal is to break 9 hours on this course.  This would be a huge benchmark for me, and give me confidence as I finish off the season with three more race after this one.  I will be borrowing Doug Hall’s Zipp Sub-9 disc wheel for this race.  It also happens to be custom painted like my bike, so I’m hoping to help out Kevin Brooks by handing out some of his business cards for his custom painted bikes and aero helmets at this race.

Good luck to the entire Landsharks group going up to this race.  A few of them are going to attempt their first half- or full-iron distance race.  It will be fun sharing the course with them and exchanging words, high-fives, and experiencing this together!


Cya at the starting line…


Ironman Louisville 2012

You Win Some, You Loose Some 
Ironman Louisville Race Report

Yesterday was supposed to be a good day, but things often don’t go as planned.  This typically is the case for most Iron-distance races.  We go through highs and lows throughout the day, fight off the gremlins in our head that are telling us to stop, slow down, or even quit.  That is exactly what I experienced yesterday while competing in the Louisville Ironman.

Earlier in the week, I came down with a slight cold that made me congested, and a slight temperature.  I started taking Ziacam and Airborne to fight it off as fast as possible, but still felt it lingering on race morning.  I did my best to ignore it and focus on the work that needed to be done.  About five minutes before the gun went off, I jumped in the water with about 20-30 other pros to get short warm up in before starting the 2.4-mile swim in the Ohio River (which due to the lack of rain this year, is more of a lake than a river).  I lined up next to Chris McDonald hoping to catch his feet and swim behind him for the 2.4 miles.  At some point, they accelerated or one of changed direction slightly.  When I noticed this, I tried catching back up, but couldn’t.  I decided to just find my own rhythm and focus on the swimming form to grab as much water as possible with each stroke.  I could tell I swimming well.  I exited the water just behind the main group of swimmers (there were a few faster swimmers ahead the main group).  It was good to get out of the water see some familiar faces as the swim exit and the short run to transition.

As I was running toward my bike, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many bikes were left on the pro bike rack.  I exited the transition in 5th place out of the male pro field and headed east toward Oldham County trying to stay in touch with the leaders.  I felt good on the bike for the first several miles.  I was taking in adequate amount of calories, and what I thought was plenty of fluids.  However, as I started the second lap, I noticed I hadn’t peed yet for the entire race.  I knew this was a bad thing, and what made it even worse, was that I didn’t feel like I had to pee.  As I entered the second loop, I decided to grab as much water as possible at the aid stations.  I could tell after each station that my body got a second-wind of energy from getting more hydrated, but it quickly faded.  Muscles are typically about 90% water, and any slight decrease in hydration can significantly reduce their capacity to contract and do the work that the body is demanding from them.  I finally was able to pee, but it wasn’t until the last few miles of the bike course… probably about mile 105.  I knew I had to correct this problem as fast as possible or the run would be miserable.

I took in about 12 cups of water between the transition area and the first two miles of the run course.  I was able to pee again shortly after, so that was encouraging (in a weird sort of way as my shoes filled up with fluid).  I found a comfortable pace and dialed in my heart rate where I wanted it to be for the run course.  However, with my body playing catch up with hydration, it didn’t take long for me to loose that happy place and slow down to a pace that was a struggle to hold.  The gremlins in my head started talking, “why are you doing this?  You have REV3 Cedar Point in two weeks. It might be best to quit and save it for that race.”  I had to constantly shake them off throughout the next several miles.  By the 14th mile, I started walking through the aid stations.  And shortly after that, I noticed I was starting to have the symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration.  I stopped sweating, felt dizzy, had the chills, etc.  I decided it wasn’t safe for me to keep running.  I began walking and the gremlins started talking again, “This isn’t fun, just quit.”  A long time ago, I told myself I would never quit a race unless it was for a severe medical issue, or I physically couldn’t move forward from a bike crash, etc.  I swallowed my pride and kept walking.  Then, a friend I met in Costa Rica, Manuel came up behind me.  “Hey man, you won Rev3 Costa Rica.  Run with me.”  After some convincing, I did start running with him.  We talked about anything and everything except the race itself.  We walked through the aid stations grabbing water, bananas, cola, etc.  About 3 miles later, I started feeling like I was recovering.  I started sweating again, and had energy to run.  With about three miles to do, Manuel told me my pace was too fast for him to hold and to go on without him.  I owe him a big thank you as he took from the lowest point of my race for the day and turned it around… and had fun doing it. So to all my friends in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida!”

I finally made it to the finish over an hour later than expected, but still have a perfect record of completing every race that I’ve started.  Yes, I’m disapointed, but after talking to my coach today, Justin Trolle, we talked about where I went wrong and how to correct the problems.  Even though it was a bad day, we often learn the most from those experiences.  I hope to apply these to the Rev3 Full in Cedar Point in a couple weeks and have a great day there.  Now it’s time to rest up and enjoy the days leading up to it.

Thanks to all the locals that cheered me on til the end (the Landsharks are the best group of athletes ever!).  My parents that drove down from MI to watch me compete.  My friends fromDestiny Church, Chris, Matt, Matt and Dalila.  All of them waited patiently for me to cross the finish.
Cya at the starting line…