The Quest For Ironman - Part 2

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The first month of training is in the books. I am learning several tips that could help you along the way on your Ironman quest.

Well, week five is in the books. In fifteen weeks, God willing, I’ll be lining up for the Coeur d’Alene Ironman along with a couple thousand others who, like me, want to hear their name called at the finish line. There is a price to pay for that, obviously, and I’m pleased with just how far I’ve been able to go in paying it. Take the swim for instance; I was a regular at the pool at 4:45 a.m. until my IM swims became too long for me to do before work. Now, I put in a full work day and then hit the water. Sometimes, depending on the day’s training, I’ll put in a thirty or forty minute run at 4 a.m., then go to work, and finish my training in the afternoon.

Two-a-days...too much?

I’ve often read about professional athletes, or even Olympic athletes, who train two or more times a day. I always thought they were overtraining until I started this twenty-week IM plan. Now I see that there’s so much to do, most days have to be broken up into morning and afternoon sessions. I’ve found that you can recover from a morning run and still have enough gas in the tank to bike for an hour and a half in the afternoon if you want to. I think that’s a critical aspect—you have to want to. The end result has to be something that will motivate you to get out of bed before sunup on a Saturday to go cycling. For me, that reason in part lies in motivating patients recovering from heart surgery. The more I can do, the more I can inspire them to get back their old selves. Sure, I’ll get the shirt, the medal, and the title “Ironman,” but if it’s only about “me” then it’s an empty victory in my opinion.

Pay me now, or pay me later

Bike rides in thirty degree weather is another way I’ve paid the price. There have been rides so cold my fingers felt like they’d been beaten with a hammer prior to riding. And that’s with full gloves on. It was miserable and yes, I could have used a trainer instead, but I chose the real thing. It’s like the old Fram auto parts commercial, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” When the chips are down, perhaps during the marathon stage of the IM, I’ll be able to draw upon my training experiences and sacrifices for strength. Like running during a hail storm, or the frozen fingered bike rides—it all counts.

Where's my toenails?

Taking stock, I’m happy to be injury free so far save for two toenails. I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose them thanks to my first long run of the year. I came into the twenty-week training schedule fresh off an IT band injury that prevented me from running for about six weeks. I’d hoped to maintain my HIM (Half Ironman) conditioning, but the injury prevented that. I was pleased to be able to ride forty-four miles on New Years Day, and of course I was able to keep up my laps in the pool. That helped me mentally when it came time to take stock of myself prior to this IM plan. By the way, you can see the very plan I’m using if you go to the BT training plan page found on this website. Look for the 20 week Ironman course.

I can do any shorter-lengthed triathlon whenever I want

The workout at the end of week one was more-or-less a sprint tri, and it occurred to me that it was a year ago I took up tri training hoping to be able to finish a sprint. I feel I’m at a whole new level in that I could do a sprint or Olympic length tri anytime, and could probably better my HIM time from last year. When people ask me how I’m doing almost two years after open heart surgery I simply say I’m feeling “great.” I did have some pain in my Achilles area for a few days after week one. I discovered a bruise on my inner left lower calf in the general area I thought was injured and so I stopped worrying about it, kept training, and the pain stopped in a couple of days. Aside from the occasional muscle soreness, especially in the core area, I feel really good about my progress.

Get your rest

Getting adequate sleep is probably the most important element to recovery, both mentally and physically. Being well rested allows you to keep your spirits up and increases your ability to perform multiple workouts at a higher level of intensity. It goes a long way in aiding the recovery process, too. I’ve found that if I can average seven hours sleep a night then I can continue to train at the level the workouts call for. I may need to hit the sack even earlier as time goes on but hey, that’s why God invented TiVo. Adequate nutrition would be second on the list of importance but I’m going to leave that topic for part three.

Well, this brings me to the close of part two. Let me leave you with this: “Succisa Virescit.” It means “When cut down it grows stronger,” and it happens to be the motto adopted this year by the Duke Lacrosse team. Happy training.


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date: April 12, 2007


I love my family, football, tri training and racing, seeing heart patients smile when I share my story with them . . .


I love my family, football, tri training and racing, seeing heart patients smile when I share my story with them . . .

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