Sunday, May 22, 2011

Feeling Outstanding!

5 weeks to go to Ironman Coeur d'Alene and I am PUMPED! The last two weekend long bricks included a 110 miler at 21.4 mph and a 90 miler yesterday at the same pace. I feel like the course was comparable to CDA, and if so, I feel good about turning in a sub-5:15 ride in those hills on race day. I wish I were closer to 5 hrs to give myself more of a buffer, but with two more of those to go maybe I can push that a little before it's time to taper.

Today's 22 miler was a KEY workout. The long run has always been my nemesis, but today was EPIC. I spent all week mentally suping myself up, and yesterday I laid out every little trick in the book to put this thing together. The "centerpiece" for setting this table was Angie stepping up to ride the sag wagon and hand me Powerbar Ironman Perform drink and water, electrolytes, ice, and an encouraging word every couple miles. Phillip Rowan, Sarah Kehe, and Dave Kemble were there to keep my mind off the deteriorating legs for the last 10 miles and everything, I'm VERY happy to say, performed like a Swiss watch. 7:19/mile pace for 22.65 miles when it was all done, and I felt like I could have opened up a can for the last two or gone on for the other 3.5 miles to make it a full marathon if need be.

So with just 2 more weeks of full-on Ironman grueling training left before the final 3 week taper, I feel golden. I'm confident of a 10 hr race should everything go well (there are some things I just can't control!), and I just hope there aren't 10 or so 40-44 year old males showing up at this thing feeling the same thing about going 9:30. But it will be what it will be, I'm almost ready, and I can't wait!

Hope you had a great workout today, whatever yours was! Have a glorious Sunday!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Training Old School Style

I thought this would be a good time to lay down what the training schedule has been for IM this year, since I'm doing it "self-coached." What I've noticed to be the trend as of late in IM training is that "less is more" or, that is to say, training 20+ hours a week seems to be old school and that the coaches on the pointy end of things are suggesting as little as 10 hours a week nowadays. Though, the decrease in volume does call for an emphasis on quality rather than quality, and I suspect the latest in these new programs has no room for "trash mileage."

I like the notion, and it certainly has its benefits when you consider the bulk of us are trying to fit a full-time career, spouses, perhaps kids, and whatever else into our lives. However, I wasn't ready for this approach here in my 3rd Ironman attempt, and first at trying to get a qualifying slot to Kona. But since I have the time to dedicate to it, I wanted to see if I could handle a high volume training load and felt it would give me more confidence by race morning. So, when I contemplated my approach to this Ironman I put into the program a 4 month plan broken up as follows: 60 hours, 80 hours, 80 hours, 60 month. I've since leaned more towards counting hours by weeks, but essentially I'm following the same theme. I didn't get 80 hours in April (totaled 77) and I doubt I'll get 80 in May - having to be flexible around work, and throwing a taper in for White Lake Half Iron did rob me of a few hours. But for the most part I'm nailing the original plan while being flexible enough to modify it as necessary on the fly.

I'm finding that so far, the body is accepting the high volume training and so far I've been able to meet the demands of every workout without feeling that I'm overtraining and, thank God, without injury at this point. Let's hope this continues!

If you're interested in seeing the detailed layout of my workout plan, let me know, but I will post an abridged version for the sake of sharing the gist of this operation:

Monday (active recovery): conventional weights during lunch break, long swim after work (usually 4000 yards), recovery run

Tuesday: swim during lunch break, after work bike (intervals), run (marathon pace), short functional strength workout

Wednesday: swim during lunch break, speed or strength run after work, short core workout

Thurday: metabolic affect strength workout at lunch, intensive bike after work, short run with fartleks

Friday: off, or at most, a short, easy swim and some yoga

Saturday: long brick - 100 or more miles followed by 6 or more mile run, sometimes swim afternoon

Sunday: long run, recovery bike ride, yoga

I've mentioned the modified Hanson plan for my running program. Here's how the run program looks:

Note that week 11 looks a little odd because that was taper week for White Lake Half Iron. For me, this is very high mileage running. And in its originality, it was intended to be strictly a marathon plan. So, finding a way to weave it in amongst all the swimming and biking took some creativity. Anyway, that's the gist of it. Gotta go get lunch at Sakura now. Thanks for reading.....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

White Lake Half Iron 5/7/2011

I was freezing when I woke up a few minutes before the alarm went off, and the evacuation alarm was going off in my shorts. “Success on race day starts with success in the bathroom” and I had all kinds of success going on in that department.

A cold morning at White Lake Half?!?! This was nuts, and I clung to my Fitness coffee I’ve become addicted to, trying to evolve from, “Why do I do this?!?” to, “Let’s get this fun over with!” Dave Lovelace and Sarah Anderson – two Tricredible teammates - were up as well, trying to fuel up and psych themselves up for their first half ironman. Dave needed a song in his head to replace the one he had, so I belted out the one from the new McDonald’s commercial, “I am in love with a McDonald’s girl! She is an angel in a golden arches uniform!” I don’t think that’s what he had in mind but it was all I had to offer at the time.

Once I had everything ready, I mounted my bike and rode to the race in the darkness. The town of White Lake was surprisingly quiet at 6 am on race morning. With 500 competitors in this year’s triathlon, I didn’t see many others riding to the race. Those I did come up on I greeted with a ,”Top of the mornin’ to ya!”

I racked my bike in transition, dropped my pack, made a bee line for the Korean Space Shuttles to evacuate some stragglers, and then got my timing chip and race numbers. I saw Coach Lance Leo, who helped through my first 2 Ironmans and chatted for a couple seconds, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew. Back to transition to get everything set up just right, and then it was time to get the wetsuit on and head to the water.

The weather was shaping up to be perfect. It was in the 50’s and not expected to hit 70 before noon. Fog covered the lake to where you couldn’t even see the first 100 m buoy. They announced a fog delay, so I hung out in my seal costume with Jay Carmine, another competitior and now coach, to pass the time. He looked super fit, and I hoped I could catch him on the bike after his inevitably superfast swim would put me in the rears. Some sort of announcement indicated we would start shortly, so I hopped in the water to warm up. In the water, I met up with Kit Phillips, another great competitor and overall great guy. I’m always glad that Angie and his wife tend to hook up while we race – they seem to get each other.

Kit Phillips, Wade Laufenberg, me, and Dave Lovelace.

Anyway, as we chatted away trying to keep warm in the water they announced they would make a call on the race at 8 am, in about 30 minutes. Good deal, I thought, cuz I had to take a crap something fierce. I speedwalked to the head, found a stall and struggled to get my wetsuit off. I noticed my zipper lanyard was dangling in the toilet. Nasty. I snatched it out and filled the toilet with some other stuff instead. Oh sorry. That’s nasty too, isn’t it? Well, it’s MY race report and I like to talk about farts and shit, so deal with it.

The 3 Tricredibles participating in the Half: Sarah, me, and Dave.

We all hung around for awhile and then, at around 7:45 and earlier than they stated, they called the swim off. Flustered, I ran to transition to shed the wetsuit and get my helmet on. They were going to start us at the end of the dock, as if we had just completed the swim. We would run in groups of 10, every 10 seconds, to T1 and start the bike leg. I went back and forth in my mind about wearing my running shoes and socks or starting barefoot. I saw Tom Clifford, the race favorite, getting frustrated over the same decision and at the last minute we both sprinted to get the shoes.

As I stood in the corral with the other Open and Open Master dudes and chicks right before 8, the fog miraculously dissipated. Everyone started chanting, “Let us swim!” and they vascillated over what to do. In the end, they stuck with the duathlon format as they had already let the lifeguards go. In retrospect, they made the whole decision way too early and should have stuck with the plan. I hate we missed that swim, but I know the really fast swimmers like Jay Carmine and Marty Gaal were more bummed. Marty couldn’t have worn it on his face any more clearly. It was like cutting Sampson’s hair and then telling him to go pound on someone.

The first group of 10 took off down the chute, clearly containing those most eager to contend the race including Tom Clifford and James Haycraft (a frequenter of the tri forum,, he had HTFU blazed across his butt. If you don’t know what that stands for……think about it……). A coupla seconds went by, I shook hands with Kit and Marty and wished them a good race, and our group was off. I was the third in this group to cross the mat, and sprinted past the two in front of me as if I was possessed. I yanked my P3 off the rack and took off at the back end of the first group of 10.

I was hammering on the bike, and repeatedly did an internal check to see if maybe this was a little too fast, but I was passing guys from the first pack. Nobody was passing me and I could have cared less to look back and see if anyone was coming. On White Lake Drive, I could see a lead group of 4 or 5 with a motorcycle course marshall monitoring them for any drafting. I wanted that lead pack. Just out of the town of White Lake, I came upon them, assessed my options and quickly decided they weren’t moving fast enough, I could move faster, they might crush me for doing it, but I was going to the front. I got up there feeling great, but still wondering if this was too fast. We’d have a tail wind for 30 miles, so I didn’t want that to give me a false sense of strength when the wind might have been doing a good part of the work for me.

Kit Phillips came up and shared the work at the front, as did a skinny dude in an orange uniform and Mr. HTFU. This was exactly what Chris McCormack described his experience at Kona last year – a lead pack working together without drafting. I had never experienced this before but it was clearly a smart move. I found the going tough sometimes, but for the most part very manageable. And sometimes I found I could get a soft pedal stroke in or stand for a stretch, all the while concentrating more on maintaining a safe and legal gap between me and the guy in front which took my mind off of the fatigue that was building up inside myself. But really what was happening was…….I was having FUN! WE WERE FLYING!

I’d guess we had a group of about 8 at the turn at mile 30 where you hit the headwind. I was prepared for this turning point in the race, which can be a big psychological blow as the wind hits you and you realize you’re more tired than you thought. The road also turns rough here which adds to the frustration. I had gulped some Powerbar cola chews and a Gu Roctane just prior, hoping the caffeine in both would give me a jolt. Right away though, I noticed I had let a gap open in front of me to MR. HTFU and the orange skinny guy that looked like a good runner. I wasn’t sure I could close the gap up and struggled with what to do with the situation just when Tom Clifford came by me. “Great,” I thought and figured he’d try and close the gap and I could key off of him. As we did, I popped a Hammer Nutrition Energy Surge tablet. Placebo or not, it’s supposed to release ATP into the system. I felt better though and we were hooked back up to the pointy end of the race. Tom Clifford took the reigns as we neared the only out-and-back section of the course, which is crucial as it affords you the only chance to see where you stack up against the competition. We hit the turn around in a pack of about 6 or so, with a small gap on the next group. Something very little and white looking flashed behind me – too small to be a competitor and not wearing anything familiar prior to this point either so I blew it off. Kit, a teammate of his that was also a Master, Tom, Orange Guy, Mr. HTFU, and me in group 1. I think that was all.

Over a minute back was Jay Carmine, and Marty was quite a bit after that. He looked like he was still pissed about the canceled swim.

I could see age groupers in droves behind them and figured the officials didn’t wait the 5 minutes per wave that they would have done if we had started with a swim. They probably just let everybody go every 10 seconds.

Back on the rough and (actually pretty mildly) windy highway 53 back to White Lake, that little white thing came up by me. Here was this little cricket of a man, draped over an old steel Italian road bike decked out with aerobars and some high end deep dish Hed wheels……he was pounding it out on his bike, bobbing and weaving, not at all very smooth looking……but from who knows how far back he had caught the lead group and was making his way to the front! And his calf said “OM,” so now we had a 3 way race in the Master category.

A gap opened again at some point, and Kit blazed by me to close it up. I was watching Tom Clifford and figured he knew what he was doing. When the gap opened up too much I figured maybe he was struggling, and I don’t know where the energy came from but I pulled myself across the gap on my own. I said something to Kit about how strong he was looking as I settled into the group. Coming by the motorcycle marshall, I thanked him for sticking with us to make sure everybody raced a fair race and he was very “official” as he said, “You’re welcome, sir.” Now I was in a lead pack of about 5 – lead by Mr. HTFU, then Cricket, then me, then Master IOS teammate of Kit’s, then Kit.

With about 6 miles left to bike, Kit took over. He really took the bull by the horns. I went with him wondering if anybody else was hanging on. It was getting tough to hold his pace and I was ready to get off the bike. He stretched the elastic between us in the last 2 miles and Mr. HTFU and Cricket jumped across me. I settled for this position and we came into T2. I had just biked the 56 miles in an insane 2:15:59!

3 Cervelo P3’s in T2. (Me in the background)

Heading out of T2 to start the run.

I was quick through T2, and took off running behind Kit in second place. Angie was there to take a picture and I was happy to see her as briefly as it was. She asked how I felt and I said firmly, “Good.” The legs felt great and I could not believe where I was in this race at this point! I really needed to pee but I didn’t give myself that option. I knew there were faster runners behind me and I couldn’t hold this position, but the whole top 10 goal was very, very real already. Kit was pulling away from me slightly, which I expected. My legs were turning over just fine so I let ‘em roll as they were. Kit’s OM teammate passed me and I noticed two things about him – he was laboring like crazy the way he was breathing, and he didn’t look to be as good shape as he was racing. But he blew by me and I had nothing for him. I was well under a 7 minute pace and he was trucking. Mr. HTFU came by me next running super smooth. Orange Good Runner Guy came by at some point, and I didn’t know til later that this was Ashley Ackerman, who is indeed a good runner. Then came Tom Clifford, who had a slow turnover and a strange rhythm to his breathing pattern, but he was dusting me too.

Now in 7th place overall and feeling great, I watched the podium places set up in front of me. Tom had clearly bided his time knowing full well he would run however he wanted and still finish first. But then, as we came by the water park, he stopped and started massaging his legs. I meant to say something encouraging, but I think what came out was, “Come on, Tom, you’re good!” He hollered back, “I can’t! I’m locked up!” Well I hated it for him, but I was now in 6th! Out on the highway, the same thing happened to Mr. HTFU. I told him to hang in there and that his seat was too high (a stupid inside joke on Now, I was back in 5th, but that didn’t last long as both he and Tom worked out there leg cramps and blew by me again. So, back to 7th. A Greenville runner I’m familiar with, Mike Riddle, was jogging the other way and told me I was in 5th. I thanked him for the errant information and pressed on. He was cheering on his son-in-law in his first half ironman.

I couldn’t believe the mile markers. If they were right, I had just run the first 3 miles in 19 minutes. Can I do that?! Running through White Lake, I could still see all the way to 1st place and I noticed Kit up there wasn’t running away from me. I hoped I could reel him in, cuz I was feeling good. Man, I needed to pee! I took a quick second at mile 5.5 or so to notice I was in the spot where last time I puked all over the place and quit. Not today!

If you recall from my last update, I had intended on running miles 1, 6, 7, and 13 hard. I ended up kicking that strategy to the curb since I really was running pretty good anyway just steady, but I think the thought of surging was tiring in itself as well. At mile 6 I popped my last salt tablet and Hammer Anti-Fatigue cap and started looking for Angie and friends at the turnaround. I think I saw Bert taking pictures but nobody else. I was now in 5th place again as Ashley Ackerman had dropped out for some reason. About 1 minute back…..I dunno…’s hard to do the math when your blood has drained from your brain to support the leg muscles…..I saw the Cricket and another tall orange guy. They didn’t look like they were gaining on me but I couldn’t tell. At the next feed station I took my last swig of EFS gel, popped my last ATP tablet and jettisoned everything but the Olbas menthol inhaler, which I took a hit off of shortly after. Coming back to the spot I’d marked with puke a couple years ago, my stomach was starting to feel stressed from the pee. I stopped and relieved myself on the sidewalk. This took about 45 seconds. Still nobody in sight behind me. I started running again and felt fine for a little bit, but then a little fatigue kicked in and I could tell I had slowed. I think the heat was actually starting to become noticeable. I saw behind me what I thought was the tall orange guy catching up, and I prepared to be passed again. I was…….but not by him. The little Cricket dude flew by me! Damn, that’s twice now this little guy has come by me out of nowhere! How does he do that!? Alright, back to 6th place, and orange guy is probably gonna put me in 7th. But I was still running well. I was not going backwards.

Still I was well under a 7 minute pace, which was my goal.

I saw Dave Lovelace at this point coming the other way and he was looking strong.

After mile 9, I started to use markers ahead of me to will myself through the rest of the course. “Run to that next curve and keep the same pace,” I’d tell myself. I noticed I was getting lots of encouragement from age groupers coming the other way. They would tell me what place they thought I was in (anywhere from 4th to 6th is the feedback I got) or tell me I looked smooth or “doing great!” I didn’t have the energy to return the favor, but distinctly felt like this was all backwards and that I should have been encouraging them. They looked like they were hurting more and there was plenty of carnage out there to lend a kind word too – people walking, cramping, grimacing. I was having a great race but could not bring myself to spend the energy to share it. I felt shitty and on a runner's high at the same time. Then I saw Anne, Lance’s wife, and she looked like she was struggling a bit but running strong. I cheered her on as she went by. Later I saw Sarah come by and I gave her some sort of encouragement as well.

Now, there was nothing to do but run in for the last 2 miles. Orange tall guy still hadn’t passed me and I couldn’t hear any footprints, but I was too zoned and too scared to look back. I think I picked it up for the last mile, realizing I had a shot at breaking my personal record for the half marathon.

I crossed the finish line feeling strong – not at all exhausted – and gave Angie a big sweaty kiss. She had an ice cold water all ready for me. I PR’d my open half marathon by a minute, finishing the run in 1:28.21. Total time was 3:46.05, 6th place overall and 3rd Open Master. The race had gone perfectly. Except for that swim bit….

This has got to be the sorriest race prize ever. But I guess that's not what it's really about, and I look pretty proud anyway!

I don’t know how differently it would have gone with the swim, but I’m sure it still would have been something I would have been proud of. As for the Cricket guy, I know his race would have been way different. He later told me that he was a Master's road cyclist and marathoner but a horrible swimmer, and would have given up 20 minutes to us had we swam. In the end, on the drive home, I concluded that it was a bummer about the swim but the goal of this race was to gain confidence going into the latter part of my training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene – now just 7 weeks away. I certainly did that, and feel I’m right on track to give it my all at that race. Hopefully, I’ll get to swim there!

A big thank you to Lizz and Karen for the wonderful chalk signs all over the course encouraging us Tricredibles. I noticed them all and really appreciate the hard work and the way you guys bring fun to this kind of stuff. Karen, I wanna see your pictures you took with that great big Kip camera as soon as you make them available! And of course a big thank you to Angie for her unending support and sacrifice she puts forth so that I can run and play all over the place. You’re the greatest. Finally, I thank God for just giving me the ability to get outside and do this stuff, to have the fitness to enjoy it, and hopefully there’s something in all of this that isn’t pure selfishness but something that reflects the strength through Him that makes this kind of thing possible.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Giving Due Credit

We’ll have to see how things pan out……on Saturday with the first fitness test of the season, in the next several weeks when Ironman training gets really taxing, and come the big day in Coeur d’Alene……but things are going really good. And I hate to let the good times role without acknowledging that these are the good ol’ days before they end up behind me and I’m left wondering how to get ‘em back.

I have never been this fit in my life. I have an amazing wife that loves me, sacrifices her needs for mine, and puts up with me. My family is amazing and supportive and I have a monster family reunion in the Idaho mountains to look forward to after IM where we’ll celebrate what I hope one day Angie and I achieve – a 50 year anniversary. I love the Tricredibles and the friends and training buddies that are part of the team, and there’s nothing like representing with them at a race because I want to. It might be cool to be “sponsored” but I’d hate to feel I had to represent something or some brand because I have to. I’m not making any money at this hobby anyway.

Sometimes I take triathlon too seriously, sometimes I find I could care less. It’s a way of life for me that supports good health and being outside where I can marvel at all of God’s amazing glory, from the chirping of birds to a tail wind.

At any rate, the blessings have been numerous and I couldn’t be happier or more at peace with what God’s so generously put within my grasp.

I’m hoping I have a great race at White Lake on Saturday, and my dreams of getting a Kona slot at Ironman Coeur d’Alene are eating me up inside more than ever. Whether I get what I want or not, I hope I can train with everything I’ve got, give it my all on race day, and remember that any glory that follows is not my own but that of God and those around me that He put here to help me through this.

One of the things I love to do on training rides is pay attention to the clever quotes you see in front of churches. I like this one: “If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

For all the trivialities of this adventure – just one insignificant guy trying to put all he has into one insignificant event on an insignificant day in an insignificant life – and I don’t want to lose sight of how little all this matters to the world……but this is what I’m able to do, for whatever reason, and it feels good.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pumped About White Lake Half Iron!

3 days to the White Lake Half Iron and the taper is going great!

I’ve cut the volume of my biking and running to freshen up the leg muscles, but I’ve amped up the swimming in their place – so far logging 9400 yards for the last 3 days. Monday, I put in 1000 yd at 1:25/100 pace as part of the main set and found that I was consistently ahead of that pace. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, a 1:25/100 yd pace is my goal for the 1.2 mile swim Saturday.)

Yesterday, I did my usual weekly fitness gauge swim of 200’s on 3:00 and 100’s on 1:30. I was elated to nail them consistently at a new best pace of 2:37 to 2:39 for the 200’s and 1:14 to 1:16 for the 100’s.

I feel good in the water – smooth and relaxed. If I can find some good feet to swim behind and assuming my open water tracking isn’t horrible, this is going to be a good swim for the Richter kid come race day!

We’ll have to see if the high cycling mileage from Ironman training is enough to offset the benefit of the shorter, high intensity training days that I’ve unfortunately missed from the Thursday Night World Championships rides so far this year (for various reasons). But I feel pretty strong on the bike, and I’m hoping this spring’s training sets me up to be stronger in the latter part of the bike leg.

Last night I did a last minute equipment shake down on the bike, as I’ll be using some new stuff. First, I’m not sure that I’ve bought into this contraption yet, but I’ve set my forward hydration up to be an Xlab Torpedo mount with a standard water bottle mounted horizontally. It’s argued that this is more aerodynamic than the more common Profile Design aero bottle I was using. I plan to jettison the bottle – which will be filled with a mixture of Powerbar Perform electrolyte drink mix and CarboPro – when empty and replace it with whatever’s at the course feed station. Let’s hope the feed stations are set up by the time I get there unlike several years ago when they weren’t ready and I ended up having to do the whole ride with the liquids I had on board to begin with!

I hope this darn thing saves some precious watts because it's a bit harder to drink out of!

Also, instead of a standard bottle in my downtube mounted Zipp cage I’ll be using an Xlab aero bottle. I wondered if it would be awkward to handle but it seemed to be just fine, so I’ll go ahead and roll with it and see if its skinniness can’t save me a few precious watts out there!

This thing looks kinda cool anyway!

And I’ve spoken enough about my running form as of late but I really like my high mileage Ironman running plan that I improvised from the Hanson Brothers and I feel like I could PR any running distance event right now if I tried. I’m really excited to get out there on the run course and see how this plays out.

As for strategy, I have mile 1, 6, 7, and 13 as my target surge miles. Mile 1 because the adrenaline will be there from being fresh on the course, seeing my sweet wife cheering me on, and it could be a chance to assess relative strength from any competitors around me. Mile 6 because I’ll be nearing the turnaround and will get my first look at any competitors ahead of me. I’ll be looking for any wounded prey and will want to set myself up for a chance to stalk any that are hurting worse than me. Mile 7 because that situation will be reversed! I will want to look strong for any runners coming up behind me so as not to appear as wounded prey myself! If I can keep up the surge from this point on that will be outstanding, but I need to prepare to suffer for the run back to the finish. Hopefully, I can at least surge from mile 12 just from catching the scent of the finish line.

Weather, for once, looks great for race day. Forecast is 76 degree high and 50% humidity. That’s the best you can hope for at this race, so I’ll take it.

At any rate, everything is stacking up for this to be a new personal best!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back to White Lake

One week to go before my first race of the season! It’s back to the ol’ tried and true White Lake Half Iron – a race I used to love, grew to hate, and now I’m going back for more! Flat and fast, this race has a great course for setting personal bests, but lately it’s been known for being a hot weather race. And I absolutely suck in the heat. Last time I raced here I was doubled over and puking at mile 6 of the run when my good buddy John Royal came running by and said, “Looking good, Bruce!” I dropped out right after that.

Can't beat the fancy shack we all stay at when we go to White Lake! Here, the Vincinator emerges from his lair.

It’s the run course that bugs me. When it used to be a short out-n-back done twice through some nice, somewhat shaded neighborhoods I had a blast, but when they changed it to a single out-n-back around the lake with zero shade this race lost its luster to me. Well, that and memories of puking.

Now, 10 pounds lighter than my best race weight and two months of Ironman distance training behind me I’m pretty dog-gone pumped and eager to test myself out there again. And, to throw icing on the cake, early weather forecasts for next Saturday are predicting highs in mid-70’s and scattered rain. For me, that’s perfect!

Lots of competition to motivate me too: Dan Young, Kit Phillips, Jay Carmine, Marty Gaal. I love these guys and I love doing battle with them, even though I’d put my money on them every time. But it’s early in the season and I usually come out of the gates with more mojo than later in the year, and as pumped as I am going into this season I just might have a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for the brothas! Not that I’m contesting the win, because that’s not gonna be realistic. But going sub 4:30 is a big personal goal, and I’d like to place as high as I can, which I hope to be top 10.

My first White Lake Half, back in 2007, went really well. Look at how eager I was to get out on that run course that year!

Gotta have a plan though, so let’s lay this down.

Swim Leg:

I need to throw down a sub 30 minute swim. This is a 1:25/100 yd pace, which is my goal for the IM as well. This is my first test to see if I’m on track. Of course lots of factors here: are the buoys placed accurately, will it be wetsuit legal, etc? At any rate, much of the competition will leave me on the swim – Marty, Dan, and Jay are all much better swimmers than me. That’s just the way it is. I’ll have to swim my own pace, and latch onto any feet I can find.

Bike Leg:

This is a little bit of an unknown at the moment. I tend to go between 2:23 and 2:24 for flat half iron distance bike legs. I’d take that, but sitting in this comfy chair it’s easy to think maybe I can throw down something faster. I’ve not had much high intensity cycling so far this spring, but I’ve had some whoppers on the endurance aspect of things with two 100+ mile sessions already tagged. I want to be prepared for the usual headwind that hits at mile 30, and I plan to have something ready to give me a boost at that moment like a Gu Roctane with caffeine or something. The final 26 miles of this course are crucial as the headwind saps your will to perform all the way to the dismount line. If you’re amongst competitors at this point, it can be a big psychological blow if you can manage to ride away from them here. Perhaps the endurance rides I’ve done lately for IM training will help me feel fresher than usual at this point. But probably not.

At any rate, I hope to close the gap on the fast swimmers during the bike ride. And any extra I can put on them before the foot race will be a bonus.

Run Leg:

My nemesis. If it’s hot and humid, it’ll be all I can do to put it out of my mind and run my own race. I’ll be trying to draw as much energy as I can from knowing I’m showing up to the dance with 10 pounds less of me to tote around the lake. Mentally, I’ll need to break the run down into two 6.5 mile segments – first, focusing on getting to the turnaround quickly, and then after that, hanging on to the finish with hopefully enough energy for a late mileage surge if I can find the gumption. If I can stay focused and find a zone I’m hoping a sub 1:30 half marathon will seal the deal to a perfect race.