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Ironman Lake Placid Training-Week 22 Update

Less than 27 days left until Ironman Lake Placid. Week 22 was another tough one. In addition to 18 hours of training this week, the heat and humidity have been brutal. It is a constant sweat-fest! Some of the tougher aspects of the week featured 4x60sec run pickups on Monday and some 2x300m building speed sets in the pool(after some 6x50s fast) on Wednesday had me gasping for the wall. Thursdays 2x8min tempo ride ended up on the trainer since a nasty thunderstorm rolled through with possible tornado warnings to boot. After surviving the shorter, but intense workouts of the week then came the long workouts of the weekend.

On Friday, I headed over to Dutch Springs for my LSD swim of the week. I had off on Friday and was looking forward to getting out of the chlorine and into some cool fresh water. I was scheduled to swim 1:05, so I figured I would swim at least the full 2.4 miles at a comfortable pace to get an idea of what my time would be at Lake Placid and also help determine where I would seed myself. The weather turned out to be nice, but still warm. The top 2-3 feet of water at DS was pretty warm, but just below that was much cooler. Not sure what the temps were, but it was borderline wetsuit-legal on top I think. I made my way around the quarry using a route I kind or preplanned in my head. I completed the 2.4 miles in 1:19 which is a little better than what my original Lake Placid goal of 1:20, and I really wasn’t pushing it either. Pretty happy about that. Now I am wondering if 1:15 should be my new goal?

Wheat Fields
Wheat has turned to a golden tan in the fields. Getting a little artsy at the beginning of the ride.

Saturday’s plan was a 6:00 hour ride followed up with a 30 minute brick run. I decided to venture out into some new territory after doing two of the last 3 rides on the Quad County Metric course. It was getting a little old. I decided to try out the Leaser Lake ride course which heads North and West from the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA. I had ridden some of the roads previously, so I knew it was going to be a pretty hilly ride. Despite the hills, the ride is so beautiful as it winds up through the farming valleys of Berks and Lehigh counties. The views distract you from the rolling hills.

Loch Valley Farms
Loch Valley Farms heading up Route 863
Red Road with Hawk Mountain in the distance
Red Road with Hawk Mountain in the distance
Red Road Pano with Hawk Mountain in the distance
Red Road Pano with Hawk Mountain in the distance

After riding Northwest just short of reaching the Blue Mountain, I made a right turn onto Mountain Road which runs West to East paralleling the mountain. From here you can also connect on to Hawk Mountain Road which will add a nice little climb up and over the mountain. From there you can take another road running west to east and then come back over the mountain again. I chose to stay on the south side and make my way to Leaser Lake. Mountain road was fairly flat and with a nice tailwind at my back I cruised along with ease. The only issue was that with my jersey half unzipped I scooped up a bee into my jersey which proceeded to sting me multiple times in the stomach. I eventually located him on my right shoulder and flicked him into the  field. That is number on this year. If you recall last season I was stung multiple times on different rides. I guess I am sweet and juicy and the bees seem to love me.

Horse Farm on Mountain Road
Horse Farm on Mountain Road

I eventually found my way to the Leaser Lake parking lot to stop for a bio break and snack. I have a friend that lives in the area, who I had thought about stopping to see. It had been a long time since I had seen him, so I decided it was not a good time to see him now since it would probably be a long chat session.

Leaser Lake Pano
Leaser Lake Pano

As I was standing in a shady part of the empty parking lot, a white Suburban came slowly cruising down the lot closest to the lake. The vehicle eventually came up beside me and I nodded hello. As I turned away from the car I realized that the driver looked like my friend Vince who lived nearby and I did a double-take. Sure enough it was him and he realized it was me at the same time. Needless to say my break became a little longer than planned, but it was good talking with him and catching up on things. He is quite a character so he had my laughing my ass off as usual. I gave him my updated contact info, and we agreed that we would get together sometime after this Ironman quest is over for the year. As I rode off, I was reflecting on how funny it was that we ran into each other anyway despite me not stopping by his house. Guess it was meant to be?

Leaser Lake
Leaser Lake
Leaser Lake
Great place for a pic-a-nic! Leaser Lake

I started making my way back south again after following the Blue Mountain to the town of New Tripoli. The route wound through some back roads through quiet little farms and hamlets. It was a truly magnificent ride. It is amazing the places that you have never seen before that are right near your home. Getting out on the bike is such a great way to explore these areas at a slower-than-automobile pace.

Holbens Valley View
Holbens Valley View

I eventually came back around to the New Smithville exit on I-78 where I was able to re-tool up with some water. I still had about 2.5 hours to go to get my 6 hour ride in, so I headed out to Kutztown and then Fleetwood and back home on some of my typical routes. It was starting to heat up pretty good at this point too.

After finally arriving back home with 95+ miles under my belt, I strapped on my running shoes and ran around town for a 30 minute brick run. I wasn’t killing it, but my legs felt good. I could see myself running for a few more hours I think.  I then jumped into the tub for a Magnesium bath to help recover the legs a little quicker for tomorrows long run. We also were meeting friends for dinner and a concert that night, so there was no time to relax and we were out the door again.


We had gone to the Rusted Root concert at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem the night before, so we didn’t get home until ~11pm. Given this, I decided to sleep in a bit longer. I would pay for this eventually since I now have to run in the heat and humidity of the middle part of the day. I went over to the Ironton Rail Trail again. It was crazy hot and my pace was very slow from the start. I was thinking how am  I going to get through 3:15 hours of this when 30 mins was excruciating. I managed to get through about 11 miles and then the rain began. With that also came some thunder which left me a little uneasy, but I continued on. The rain increased and so did some nice cool winds too. This gave me a “second wind”…no pun intended. I made it through the next 9 miles ok. It was a very slow pace, but steady. Probably closer to what Ironman may be like. I always think about how I need to push myself through these painful training times to get used to what Ironman will feel like. I really hope the weather is better though, cause I just don’t do well in the humidity.


One more tough week coming and then the taper begins. Hard to believe I have made it through all this. I really didn’t know what to expect, but all-in-all it is not that bad. It is so progressive that you don’t realize it until you look back. Granted the last month of 5-6 hour bike rides and 3 hour runs on the weekend really work you over. The first couple aren’t too bad, but after 3 and 4 of them the fatigue really sets in. I hope I am getting used to it. The weather ahead is looking to be more of the same 80’s F and humid. I will be dodging thunderstorms too. Looking forward to some Bike-N-BBQ on July 4th and taking vacation day on the 5th to head back to Dutch Springs again.

Have a Happy 4th of July to all Americans reading and thanks for reading!

Ironman Pocono Mountains 70.3…My First Half Ironman?

I sat anxiously by my laptop on October 1st, 2010 while on vacation in Lake Placid, NY awaiting the 10AM start of online registration for the inaugural Ironman Pocono Mountains 70.3 Triathlon. I submitted my $275 which would then commit the next year to training for my first “Ironman”-branded event. I had been tossing the the half-iron distance around since it would be the next logical progression in my pursuit of a full iron distance. When I saw the ad in Triathlete Magazine, I thought that this was a sign that this was the race for me since it was so close to home. The eventual outcome was one I never expected.

From October 2010 until May 2011, I focused on building a solid base of endurance which ultimately ended totaling 2x the distance of each discipline in the half-iron distance per week : Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112, and run 26. My wife and I were heading to Peru for 2 weeks at the end of May to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and then spend 4 days in the Peruvian Amazon exploring the jungle. Hiking at high altitude would be the perfect recovery before kicking training into high gear. Upon returning from Peru I turned my training over to my coach Scott at TriYourLimits . Scott would prescribe weekly workouts for me via Workoutlog.com and I log on each day complete the workout and upload my Garmin with my results. The training was very gradual with a recovery week thrown in every 4th week. Things went very smoothly and I did not incur any injuries as I had the previous season coaching myself. I knew I needed a coach to guide me because I would easily overtrain doing it myself.

The season flew by. I competed in the Patriot Sprint Triathlon in Bath, PA by Piranha Sports in July. That turned out to be a bit of a mess. The bike leg was cancelled due to last minute oil and chipping of the roads thanks to the idiots at PennDOT. The swim was really bad for me personally. I tried to get in the mix and got kind of freaked out. Water was VERY warm too. Never got into any real rhythm. Run was equally bad with concrete quads the whole time. Good wake up call though.

In September I competed in the Steelman Olympic Triathlon at Lake Nockamixon. This was a much better performance. Had a great swim, 0.9mil in 29 min, and I felt really comfortable. Probably was my best swim(33:04min/mi pace) so far and it was the longest(0.9mi) too. Bike leg was 18.8mph avg speed, which is ok for a pretty hilly course. I was trying to hold back a bit to save my legs for the run. The run was another story. The sun popped out and, with all the rain we had, it going very humid. I don’t fare well in hot humid conditions. a 58min 10k is nothing to write home about. Even had to walk a couple times.

The rest of the season was all training for Ironman Pocono. I followed my training plan pretty much to a T. 2 weeks prior I started into my taper and things really started feeling good then. I felt really fast(relatively) and had to hold myself back a bit sometimes. I was feeling like this could be a good race. I had a little bit of anxiety the week before, but when the rains started coming down that began to dwindle a bit. I was watching the current-level forecasts on the NOAA website for the Delaware River and it wasn’t looking swimmable. On Friday before the race they announced that the swim leg would be cancelled. Strike 1!

With the swim cancelled, my anxiety all but disappeared. I still wanted to have a good bike and run, but without the swim it just isn’t a triathlon. We headed up to the Fernwood Resort in Stroudsburg, PA on IMG_0675.PNGSaturday and checked in at the expo. I attended the athlete meeting and got the details. There would be a time trial start for the bike and they would just run down the rows in T1 telling each athlete to go every couple seconds. They had changed the bike course multiple times due to roads washing out. Forecast was for rain all night into the morning and cold. Fortunately the winds were supposed to be light. We ran my bike over to T1 and then dropped my run bag over at T2 at Stroudsburg HS. It was crazy with everyone driving all over the place to drop their gear everywhere. Logicstically it was not well thought out.

We stopped at Thai Thani on Rt. 611 for some lunch. Yeah Thai food for a pre-race meal…probably not a great idea. I had Masaman curry which is not very spicy, so it should not be an issue. We then checked into our room at the Fernwood. I had reserved a suite so I thought we would have a decent room atleast. The room stunk and was very musty. There was a heart-shaped tub and a sauna in the room. The tub was probably why the smell was so bad and the sauna didn’t even work. Place overall was kind of old and rundown. A bit disappointing. We stopped over to see some friends that also were competing and shot the breeze with them for a bit. I hit the pasta dinner later and there was no one there. It was pretty basic, but fine.

I woke up around 4AM on Sunday and had bagels & peanut butter and coffee. Deciding how many layers to put on was a bit of a decision. I took extra stuff with me and figured I could hash that out while waiting around in T1. I met our friends in the lobby and we jumped on the yellow school bus shuttle and headed over to T1 at Smithfield Beach in Delaware Water Gap. It was interesting listening to the conversations on the bus. I chatted with a couple guys who were next to me in T1 most of the morning in between taking a half-dozen piss breaks in the woods. The clouds actually broke for a few minutes while we waited but did not last too long. Finally they started calling people off to start and after over an hour we were on our way. River Road through DWG was very smooth and slick feeling. It had a major camber and made you feel like you were going to slide right into the woods. I hesitated to get in the aerobars. We hit the first big hill after a few miles and there was people walking their bikes all over the place. I dropped down to an easy gear and spun my way up. I told myself I was not going to take any chances and just wanted to finish in piece.

The next hour on the bike went pretty smoothly. I didn’t look at my time until after an hour and was surprised that I was averaging over 18MPH. I didn’t feel like I was going that fast. Hmmm….I could finish in under 3 hours?…Which was what my original goal was. They had a figure-8 configuration in the course and while cutting across the middle road I heard something metal against the road. I thought hopefully I just ran over something? Then a guy passed me and said “man you are dropping metal all over the road.” I looked down at my bottom bracket and my left crank arm was totally loose. I could see the teeth from the inside shaft that runs through the middle. Bottom Bracket“This cannot be happening” I thought to myself. I pulled over to the side and through my bike down. I walked back to try to find the pieces I was missing but no avail. About 20 people went by me asking if I was ok or needed anything. Yeah right! You are wizzing by me at 20MPH in a race…are you really going to stop? They were out of ear shot before they finished getting the words out. Save your breath people!

The walk back to my bike was a tough one. I was mad and disappointed. I could not believe it was going to end this way. All the hours of training I put in and it all comes down to my bike falling apart. I got back to my bike and tried to ride it some more, but it eventually would not even turn the chain anymore. I ended up walking a mile and a half until the SAG van at the cutoff crew was coming down the road I had covered earlier in the ride. He stopped to ask what was wrong and said he could not do anything about that. They loaded my bike in the van and the driver asked for my number. He then got on the race radio and called in the words that made it all sink in….”1769 DNF!!!” I could feel my stomach drop instantly. I felt close to breaking down.

There was another guy and girl in the van already. The girl sat in the passenger seat and seemed pretty upset. The guy was quite jovial and helped lighten up the mood a bit. We had to retrace much of the course I had already ridden following the last rider. He was stopping every few minutes and it was pure torture. It started getting late in the morning and I figured my wife was getting worried since I hadn’t been seen yet. The guy in the van had a phone so I left her a message. We picked up more riders as we went and eventually we filled up the van and had to head back to T2 early…thank god! The van became somewhat of a support group for DNF-ers. My wife eventually got the message and called me back. We eventually got back to T2 and there was major traffic jams in Stroudsburg due to the race and telephone pole being down. I grabbed my running stuff in T2, called my wife and headed towards downtown where she was waiting with one of our friends on Main St.

IMG_1111.JPGWhile walking towards town, athletes were coming past me with their finishers medals around their necks and the silver foil blankets on. That didn’t help! My wife came around the corner and things really hit home then. We collected ourselves and heard that we had to go back to T2 to get my clothes from the morning. We picked that stuff up and skirted downtown to get to our car. It was an early Bonefish Grill night. Finally I thought there is no way I am going to waste all this training I have done. I jumped on my iPhone and looked to see if there were any more Ironman 70.3’s this season…Miami on Oct 30th! Bingo!

My wife was all for it too and I began making arrangements that night. I had never expected to be going to Miami, but hey you never know what adventure lies around the corner. So the training will continue for another month. It should be a good race with a swim and a flat bike and run course. We are spending a little more than I had planned, but it should be a great experience. It could end up being the greatest thing to happen when you look back on it. Stay tuned for more on that in future posts.

The Flyers Game Brick Workout

Today I did a new workout called the Flyers Game Brick Workout. With temps in teens today, I was remanded to either the treadmill or the trainer. I struggle to not die of boredom on either of them for more than 45 minutes. The Flyers were playing the Devils today at 1PM so I thought watching the game would help to take some of this drudgery away. Even better, why not do a brick workout to coincide with the different parts of the game? So I did. I rode on the bike(on trainer) during the periods which allowed me to watch the game with out the bouncing up and down like when running. To add a little twist, I also did high intensity reps during commercial breaks. Fortunately Hockey doesn’t have too many commercials unlike some of the more boring, over publicized sports like Football and Baseball(dig!). During the intermissions, which typically last around 15 minutes, I hopped over to the treadmill and got in a 1.75 mile run. Good workout for adjusting those legs to the bike run transitions. The worst part of the workout was actually getting back on the bike after the 2nd intermission run, which is not typical in a tri anyway. My quads were just cramping up all over the place. I spun easy for a bit and they eventually worked out.

The was really great and it made the whole thing go very quickly with less boredom than your typical indoor workout. As I sit here writing this, I can feel the after effects in my legs so it must have done something.  Give it a try!

The Longer I Swim, The Better I Feel…

Today was my Friday off, so I planned on getting in a good swim. We had gotten around 5 inches of snow last night, so running or cycling were out. I started out with my typical 500yds of warm-up and 500yds of drills. For my main set I did a 100-200-300-200-100 pyramid set. Somewhere after the 300 of my pyramid I started feeling like I was in a breathing groove. I thought I would quit after that, but I felt so good I wanted to keep going. So I did a face-down kick set for another 500 yds. Still feeling good after that and did another 500yds free with fins.

When I first started back in the pool after my season end break, I was feeling this was after the warm-up set. As time went on this feeling is taking longer and longer to get to. I always thought that swimming in the pool is tougher because I cannot get into a rhythm hitting the wall every 25 yds, but it may just be that my lungs/breathing take a certain amount of time to adjust to the swim pattern. Still not sure why it takes longer and longer?

The weekend looks to super cold(down to 0 deg F), so it is going to be a lot of time on the trainer and treadmill. Not looking forward to that! Hope there is something good on TV! May need to do some mini-brick workouts to break up the monotony.

Back In The Pool…

Finally after not swimming for the 3 months, I got back to the pool again. Felt good too. It’s time to start building endurance again. Below is my first swim workout…

Warm-up: 1×250 Free

Drills: 4×25(side,catch,fist, side), 1×50 side, 1×50 catch, 1×50 fist, 1×50 side, 1×100 kick(fins)

Main: 15 mins Freestyle(~700-750 yds)

C/d: 1×50 free