3 months since Ironman signup: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s more like 3 and a half months since signing up for Ironman Boulder, with another 8 to go, and high time to do some introspection. Okay, I do almost constant introspection. Let’s call this public introspection. I count 6 distinct disciplines in Triathlon: Swim, Bike, Run, Fitness, Nutrition, and Work/Life Balance. Anyone who tells you it’s only 3 is a single 25 year old with money to burn and zero body fat. In my training each of these disciplines is now beginning to show what’s working and what’s not.

The GoodSwim. Finally signed up for Master’s swimming, made the group workout 2 weeks in a row and at least had the endurance to complete the laps.

Bike. Built up to metric century distance, had my first 5000+ feet of climbing in a day, rode my first significant hill climb with Ironman teammates, achieved goal of being able to climb the local mountains, rode through quad and hamstring muscle cramps, learned I could keep going.

Run. Added quite a few more miles per week. Able to spend a little more time running with Ironman teammates during track workouts. Maintained a 10-12 mile base as a long run. Dropped half a shoe size. Getting better at using the combination of forward lean, head up, feet and glutes pushing back.

Fitness. Much more confident, especially with higher heartrate situations. I continue to improve my ability to cope with red-lining and not equating that with impending death by heart attack. Yes, I have fear stress related to that, it’s something I’m working through.

Enjoying working out with the Santa Barbara Iron Team and watching what experienced Ironman athletes do.

Coach Z’s approach to work that activates the posterior chain of muscles using Foundation training is really changing my body. The ability to rely on my glutes when tired during running and cycling is a game changer for endurance. Now that I’m swimming again I think I feel how it helps in the pool too. When I’m tired and sore I can just keep going. I have an ass and it is strong.

Coach has also got me started on using a foam roller which is another tortuous way to change my body.

Nutrition. Stopped the mid-afternoon Diet Coke. Reduced alcohol to one party night on weekends, a single drink on one week night. These two items are improving my sleep quality which is an important improvement in all aspects of life.

Work/Life Balance.  On several occasions I’ve had one of the kids ride beside me on a long run, carrying water, getting exercise, and chatting. These experiences are like gold. The kids get confidence of riding longer distances (Maggie did 11 miles and is ready for more), they take part in my hardening process, and they encourage me (“don’t walk now Dad, you haven’t stopped running for the whole time”). Maggie came home so stoked that she had run her fastest mile yet at school and run it with no breaks.

Garage vastly improved, more work to do. Got mint.com revamped with budgets, working with Minette on family financial planning.

The BadSwim. Up until 2 weeks ago I hadn’t swum in months. Then there’s this and the stress it adds.

Run. I had set a goal last year to race in either the 2013 SBIM half or full marathon. While I did build up to the half marathon distance in training I decided to skip the race using the entry fee as an excuse.

Fitness. Failing to stick to interim race goals (SBIM half marathon, Tinley’s, HITS in Palm Springs).  I did not sign up early and pay the fee. I waited until too close to the race date and in every case there was some reason to back out: money, family plans made, etc. This is not a good trend.

Nutrition. See ‘The Ugly’. I’ve been trying some IF (Intermittent Fasting) 16:8 except for long morning rides/run but the issue is that it’s even harder to get a mid-morning workout underway when hungry.

Work/Life Balance. Team workouts interfering with work time and vice versa, stress from that. I’m still super-lucky to be able to have a flexible schedule but I take my job very seriously. As a telecommuter it can be difficult to take on things that make me even less visible to the office.

Not finding time for meditation, walks with Minette, and quality (non-TV) time with the kids. Late afternoon workouts interfering with family dinner time and this is added on to Minette already having a couple late afternoon/evening things. We’re not getting enough time sitting around the table chatting and I’m not working to fix that.

The UglyBike. Still haven’t even rode with aerobars, don’t have a Tri bike.

Nutrition. Fat loss and weight loss is barely happening. Next step is to lock in something simpler for meals and reduce the decision-making. Return to program worked out with nutritionist in the past. Thanksgiving, Christmas, brother’s wedding, New Year’s – party season is upon me and it’s easy to fail hard. I have been unwilling, unable, un-something to modify my habits to eat the right stuff and the right amount. I’ve been down this road before, even gaining a couple of pounds during 70.3 training. I simply can’t afford to be training at 210 pounds. It’s too hard on my body and I’m just too damn slow. It’s funny to think I am disciplined enough to take on a 4 hour training ride or a 14 mile run without prompting but can’t make the right choice when I open the refrigerator.

The good the bad and the ugly_4


Conclusion. Overall, I give my training since signup a B-. I’m making more and more workouts, getting fitter and gaining confidence by the day. At the same time there is a lot of work to do to change my body to the lithe one that want to race at. The warning signs are there: make the changes, make weight, or have more stress and a death march in Boulder.


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