Tri-Doc 20 week countdown to IMAZ (Ironman Arizona)


Week 20 

The official 20 week training countdown to Ironman Arizona has begun. I’ve spent the past 4 months trying to maintain a base level of training and increased in different areas each month. The biggest change to this point has been the past month, as I increase my swimming to double the amount I’ve even done before. My longest swim ever prior to April ’14 had been 2000 meters and that was only a few times. Mostly, my swims had been 1500 -1800 meters – maybe twice a week. Over the past three months, I’ve gotten up to 4800 meters max and between 6500 and 9500 m a week.

During the past 6 weeks, I’ve also began increasing the mileage on my rides, though slowly at first, I am finally in the 60-70 mile range for my long ride on the weekend.  In addition, I’ve started adding short to moderate runs after a spin class or swim session, in the 3-5 mile range. This is the weakest area for me as a result of longstanding damage to the hips, knees and ankles. Some of it accident and injury related, and some of it is just damage since birth.  

The bottom line is that this particular week (20) is actually a difficult week for me since I have increased so much over the past few months. I’ve felt sluggish and tired for the past two weeks from a lingering sinus and chest cold combined with increased training and actually reduced my volume and intensity for most of this week. Good idea, I think, since I was then able to post my longest bike ride to date at 77 miles through the Ranch and up the Coast. A positive ending to the week after a rough start. 


Week 19

Feeling good from the increased bike mileage and a little extra recovery time, I opted to increase the running miles this week from an average of 6-8 miles to a weekly total of 25. This is by far the most running I’ve ever done in a week, and considering I maintained my rides and swimming, I am feeling good about my pace at this point. A big advantage here was the extra day off of work for the 4th of July Holiday…this enabled me to get in a longer run during the week when I normally can’t due to work schedules.  Still did a long ride through the Ranch on Saturday, complete with about 3800 ft of climbing.


Week 18

I picked this point to add is some additional swim training so I started going to one the TCSD (Tri Club San Diego) group swims on Tuesday evening  at Ventura Cove with Bill Gleason (Gleason Endurance Coaching). This is a great way to get practice in race simulated conditions and work on specific open water drills that you can’t quite get from the pool. The result is that Tuesdays have become a huge training day for me with a 5:45 am spin class with my primary coach (Bernie Sidney) followed by a 4-5 mile run.  Ironically, it seems to fit my schedule since Mondays and Wednesdays are such long days in the office – I often don’t get to work out on those days. I’m building mileage and pushing to new limits – feeling stronger.


Week 17

This week really seemed to be a Peak week for me. The addition of 2 strength training days is helping me train longer with less soreness.  Still 2 strong spin classes followed by runs (8 miles total) and two swim days, both over 2000m.  Really trying to balance my workouts and build at the same time. Capped off the week with my longest bike ride to date – my first training ride over 100 miles. Once again, through the Ranch with some rolling hills then up the coast to San Clemente and back. I am pleased that my recovery has allowed me to maintain training at these levels  and in spite of the chronicity of the pain, I am able to manage. I haven’t addressed the pain in my weekly posts, as I will use a separate post to discuss the pain and what can be done when it presents itself. Sometimes it is appropriate to push through the pain the grow…other times it is essential to listen to your body and back off when necessary to avoid injury (or worse). I’ll share personal experiences as well as clinical perspectives in that upcoming post.

Ready to head into Race Week next week.


Week 16

Headed into a race week, even in the middle of training, I opted to decrease some of my training and added some small core workouts instead. Since the work schedule was heavier to accommodate the travels, it left me less time for regular workouts and I didn’t want to go into the race fatigued already.

This week ended with my first big test to see how my training has been going.

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From this point on, almost every week will include a new maximum of something or longest distance. This was the Vineman Full Aquabike race in Sonoma, CA. Never before,  have I recorded these distances in a race and although it was just a training race, there was certainly quite a bit going on in my head. I knew I could swim the distance in the pool, and when the set is broken up…but wasn’t sure how I’d do with swimming straight through. The 2.4mile swim was about average. (Although all of our Garmins indicated a slightly longer course than is should have been at 2.7 –which then means my time was great not just average). 

The 112 mile bike course (2 loops of a 56 mile course) includes some of the most beautiful scenery and rolling hills throughout northern Sonoma County in the Napa Valley Region.  Those “rolling hills”, however, are deceiving. I’ve done the half Ironman course here on two previous occasions and knew what to expect for the first loop…but definitely new territory on the 2nd loop. Feeling good through about 65 miles then the combination of increased temperatures (up to about 97 degrees) and some winds picking up for a while, really slowed me down. Obviously, this is where you benefit from the longer rides and time in the saddle for training. The legs felt very heavy and toes were numb for the majority of the second loop. This was a challenge – slowed me, but stopping was never an option. I really had to see how my body would do handling this distance.  Nutrition was much better overall for this race, but I can see that it still needs serious attention in order to have enough stamina to handle the 26 mile run off the bike.  Finished strong, which is one of the things I’ve always prided myself on doing. 

Although, I’ll do whatever it takes to finish. I may have to walk or even crawl to the end, but finishing is the target.

This turned out to be much more of an emotional race than I expected since I broke down some more mental barriers dating back to my accident in 1987. I’m not really concerned about posting times here; I know where I am and where I want to be. I’m not racing against others, I’m racing for myself. I may never win in the sense of being first over the line, but for me, I win every time I show up to a race.   As you learn more about my story and what drives me, you’ll understand better.  

A little Emotional moment that surfaced this week.

(Note to self:  Do not put head through windshield…bad things happen.)

I’ve discussed previously, in other areas of my story, I had an accident in 1987.  What happened that day altered my life for the rest of my life.  Although many positives have resulted from that situation, there are some things that hardwired patterns in your brain and nervous system. Within a neurological pattern, a memory can surface at anytime when your brain re-experiences a stimulus.

A simple example is when you hear a particular that you instantly recall something from your past like the song they played when the team entered the stadium, or the song from your High School Prom…that is the recall I’m referring to.  Well, pain patterns work in a similar way.

There were portions of this race that similar pain patterns arose and my brain went into that dark spot that I tried to overcome and/or block out.  The following sentiment is my chance to release that along this journey…partly for me, but also because I recognize that anyone/everyone has something in their life that came come up when driven to extremes. If you can identify it, you can overcome it!


A note to Luis Armstrong… “I never blamed you, after all, it was an accident – but I hate the fact that your carelessness in 1987 has caused me so much pain even to this date. This journey is not over, as there is still one more missing piece of the puzzle. I’m working on it, but for now, TODAY- I TOOK BACK ONE MORE PIECE OF MY LIFE that you stole from me!!!”


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