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Scott's Ironman Blog

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This race was a few weeks ago, but here is the report:




If you told me I'd be running a 50 mile trail race in October in early September I would have thought you were smoking something. So how did this happen?? Well... I've had a great triathlon season in 2008 except for my key race of the year, my triple A, Ironman Wisconsin. I PRd at every distance I raced this year and my season was based around my Ironman in September, even the early season Ironman in April I did, but the wheels just came off. Bad nutrition and some other stuff led to a miserable finish. But I finished.


Its not the way I wanted to finish the season, but I had not signed up for any more races. My first inclination was to sign up for another full distance triathlon, possibly something like Silverman or the Great Floridian... yeah, I'd get back at it. But I was tired of it all when it came down to it.


So browsing around the Internet I stumbled across an ultra race in Southern Wisconsin. I've always wanted to get into the ultra scene but I figured I'd wait a few years when I could actually train for it. There was a 50K and 50 mile event. The race was October 25th, so not much time to prepare. I said f&*k it, if I'm going to do it, do it all the way, I signed up for the 50 miler.




Well there is not much I could do. I had to balance Ironman recovery, plus get some time on my feet. I never raced further than 26.2 miles and I never did a long run longer than 3 hours 10 minutes... ever... The only thing I had going for me was experience in endurance events. So after taking an easy week off after the IM race I had three weeks to test the waters. I started with back to back long runs


Week 1 : 2hrs Sat, 3hrs Sun

week 2 : 3hrs Sat, 4hrs Sun

Week 3 : 5hrs ... over 30 miles.


That all went well actually. I ran that stuff at a 9 min pace.... Problem is they were on relatively flat surfaces. The race I was to do was not flat, at all. But doing a lot of hill work could compromise my recovery from IM, so it was a fine line. I would just hope for the best race week. I started a three week taper after that with long runs of 3 hours, then 90 minutes, then race time.


So I was ready... as much as I could be..



The race started at 6am and it was relatively close to where my parents lived, about 40 minutes. DW and DD came with and we stayed at the parents house and my dad came out to see me off while the sane people slept... he took a few photos. It was pretty cold and it rained hard the night before. I knew I was in for a mud fest, but at least it wasn't raining in the morning.


There was around 185 or so sign ups for the race, it sold out. I guess this is a rather large turnout for such a race. I'm not sure how many people toed the line though. It was a fair amount.


Race strategy


It was pretty simple actually, I would keep it under control, HR under 150 for the first 35 miles, and then see what I had left. Turn off the HR and start running a bit harder. Basically I wanted to treat it like a marathon where you control yourself in the first 20 miles and race the last 6. Now how many times was I actually able to do that? hmmmm zero probably. But hey, I've had plenty to learn from and it was time to get it right. I didn't care about time I wanted to executed a perfect race. It was the only way I could survive. Of course I never ran 50 miles before, let alone in the forest of southern Wisconsin where there is rarely a flat spot.


Confession. I've never done a trail race. I've never trained on trails like this, not evenly remotely close.... So here we go...




Start to AS1 (6.2 miles) - It was dark.... I never ran in the dark like this in the woods. Even before we completed the first mile the group broke into two packs. I was holding on to the lead group of about 50 or so people and I looked back and saw the next group about 100 feet back. I was like wow... my HR was near 150 already, so I started to ease it back. I wanted to keep it in the 140s. I slowed down until I was at the front of the second group and decided there was no way I was leading us into the woods. I would get us lost. Luckily a guy I would run with for the next 20 miles took the lead and had a flashlight as well as headlamp. It was muddy and rocky and crappy basically. Right off the bat we hit one of the longest climbs of the day. So this is were I learned to walk. I was running up a good portion and I looked at my HR... 156. arghh.... Time to walk with everyone else. I walked at a good pace. At least as well as the people around me. I was a bit worried about my walking ability. I know a lot of ultra runners practice this kind of thing and get real speedy at it. I was able to hold my own fairly well. Things started to thin out and I grouped with two other runners. I immediately learned its best to keep together. No reason I should try to pull away from these people. If they start walking a hill I think I can run, I'm walking. It kept me under control.

AS1 - AS2 (mile 11.1) - It started to get a bit lite out. I was running with a school teacher who was local to the area and a guy from Austin, TX. We were all doing our first 50 miler. We kept with each other taking turns at the front. The school teacher was running a bit fast I thought, I tried to slow her down a few times saying my HR was too high. Luckily they slowed down. Basically we gabbed about things until the next aid station. The aid stations were really cool. It was like completing a race every time we got to an aid station. There was always a small group of people clapping for you as you came in. Small moral victories. At AS2 I found my drop bag and put my headlamp in it. I had one handheld which I kept Accelerade in for the most part. I found I can drink Accelerade forever with no problems. I can also stick with the Accel Gels as well. Up to this point I stuck with those, no real food yet.


AS2 - AS3 (mile 16.5) - I was ready to go, but my buddies weren't I waited for my bud from Texas, but the school teacher was no where in sight. She had not left yet, so we just decided to go. I wanted to keep moving, I know you stand around too long, its harder to keep going. At about mile 15 I told my friend my quads were tightening up. This is where I started to hurt. Mile 15!!! argh. Lack of trail running was showing. My quads are just not use to this ****!! Every downhill from this point was painful. It was here though and I had to deal with it, much earlier than I hoped. My strategy was to increase my caloric intake to try and compensate, liquids, salt to over 200 calories an hour. I figured I just needed to get more stuff in me, it couldn't hurt. I was just barely under 200 previously, which is what I trained at. We were holding pace fine however, still hitting around 10:30 - 12+. Some stretches were better than others, the hills dictated the pace


AS3- AS4 (mile 21.2) - We picked up another runner along the way and she ran with us until the mile 21.2 aid station. My bud was starting to complain about hamstrings. I was holding my own with the quads. I was letting them lead until one point they started going off course. I stood there looking at them and shouted out "hey!!, Aren't we supposed to go this way??" Whew.... disaster avoided. I led the way until mile 21.2 I was feeling ok at this point still fighting the quads. At AS4 I started on chicken noodle soup, and grabbed a bunch of candy. I took some twix bars and some swedish fish. From this point forward I would take in a lot of candy :). I stuck with Accelerade and took a few pretzels for the road. There were a lot of people at this aid station. One thing I noticed is that runners were spending a lot of time at aid stations. But they are like an hour or more away at times, so it makes sense to regroup.


AS4 - AS5 (mile 28.3) - My bud had to take care of business just after starting up, so I started running but said I would go slow so he could catch up. I had to do this a few times earlier myself. After awhile he caught up but brought along about 5 other people who looked to be running pretty strong. I led this group for awhile until I pulled over and went to the back where my bud was. He was complaining about hamstrings again and I didn't think he could hold pace for too much longer. We were hitting around 11 min miles here. Its funny with trail running. You are working hard, yet in reality hardly moving. I was about 2 min/mile slower on these trails as I am on the road at the same effort. Geez... Anyways this group of runners had some woman who had done 48 marathons in 48 states. Impressive. This wasn't the first time someone would announce their resume to me on the run. It was a LONG stretch from AS4 to AS5, it would be well over an hour between this aid station and the next. It was time to focus. I was running well actually, just fighting off pain. I had a few ibuprofen with me for emergency. I've never taken them during a race, and I rarely take them. I only had them because on Friday my right foot was really hurting for some reason and Saturday morning it was hurting when I woke up. I was afraid it might flare up or something during the race. My foot however was fine, I was thinking about my quads.

I kept going with 48 states, but I noticed my bud from Austin fell off, but I had to keep up pace. He'd be fine. It was great I could run with someone for 20 miles, but I had to keep moving. We got to AS5 at 28.3 and it was like a big party. There must have been at least 10 runners in there. Now was my chance to make a move.... I refueled and got the **** out of there passing about 10 people in one shot.


AS5 - AS6 (35.5). I caught up to a few guys sporting some Ironman wear... Triathletes.. geez... I blew right by them still running at my 11min pace. I guess they must have went out too hard. I said hi and I was off. Everyone was really friendly out here and we all complemented each other whenever we could. Whenever I passed someone I would encourage them and they would say good job. All but a few times..... and I passed a lot of people from mile 20 on. Over 40 actually, and I don't think I was ever passed actually. I shoved down the Ibuprofen and kept going and soon I was all by myself with no one evenly remotely insight. I kept thinking to myself, did I miss a turn? You really need to watch the trail, pay attention. I heard later of several people going off course. I'm running 50 miles, I really don't need any extra

When I hit AS6, which was the same station as AS4 I stopped and refueled with chicken soup and the usual candy. There was a guy with an Ironman Wisconsin 2008 finishers cap on the phone talking to his wife I guess. I guess he was hurting. We started talking a little at the aid station about IM and he said he's doing IMCdA next year and I said so am I! He left a bit before I did, but I soon caught up to him.


AS6 - AS7 (mile 40.1) - I noticed this Ironman was walking so I ran up to him and started walking with him. We both agreed that doing this race so soon after IMWI was crazy... but who knew. Somehow he flashed his resume to me and said he went 10:30 at IMWI this year. I was impressed, I told him he kicked my butt. But I was doing the butt kicking today I wasn't going to continue walking and told him I would see him at the finish line, if not meet you at CdA. He was a nice guy.


I had my cell phone on me and immediately after I started going again I called my wife. She later told me I sounded great. At mile 36 or so my GPS battery was getting low so I turned it off and stopped monitoring the HR. It was time to race. I noticed my pace average at that point was 11:12min/mile. A bit discouraging, but I was feeling great. Gritting my teeth on every downhill in pain, but my quads were holding up. I was again by myself and this time I thought I might be lost because there was some weird intersection we went over 3 or maybe 4 times and I wasn't sure I followed the right arrow. I found two people walking their dog on the trail and after I passed them buy I went back and asked if they've seen any more runners. The guy was like, oh yeah there were a few passing by not too long ago. Alright good. I passed another guy who seemed to be in trouble then caught up to this woman who seemed to be pretty cheery actually. I talked for her a little bit and moved on. I was really trying to focus at this point as I started to get a bit tired. I was running a bit harder than previously but doing great. When I got to the 40.1 aid station it was real cool. Again people cheering! This was a great mental victory getting to mile 40. Ten more to go... But then I thought... well 10 miles at this pace is loooonng still. Don't lose your cool. I fueled up with chicken noodle soup, filled my bottle and took off. The woman I met just a few miles earlier blew by the aid station, she didn't even stop. I figured I needed to catch up with her find out what's going on.



AS7 - AS8 (45.4) - I called my wife again. This time she said I didn't sound so good (she said this afterwards). I was getting a bit tired. I was ready for a nap. I kept running and I caught up with that runner again and ran with her for the next 7 or so miles. I found out she was an experienced ultra runner and she's done several 50 milers. I got some more credentials flashed at me. She mentioned she had an 8:30PR in the 50 and was a 3:20 marathoner. I was impressed. I didn't really have credentials to fire back at here :). She mentioned this was probably one of the hilliest one she's done. I think she ran her races in the Midwest mostly, in Missouri, Iowa, and WI. It wasn't that there were long climbs, it was just constant rollers, some very steep. Some would go up, level off and you could run, then go up again, level off, up again. I was actually looking forward to the climbing after awhile because it would be a great relief on my quads. I dreaded the downhills, it hurt like **** (lack of trail running).


Anyways we kept running, obviously she was slowing down if I caught up to her, but she stuck with me until the next aid station. We started talking about different things and it was like the early miles, gabbing back and forth all the way. So it was good it took my mind off things. When we go to 45.4 I stopped to do my normal routine. She stopped this time but was quick. There is so much time to gain going through these aid stations. I was happy though chatting with the volunteers because I was almost done! One of them was like its all downhill from here. I was like yeah right... no way...




AS8- Finish! - It was just over 4 miles to go and I started to move pretty fast. I just wanted to finish at this point. I found myself alone again and managed to catch about 4 or 5 people in this small stretch. When I came upon another road crossing, I asked one of the volunteers how much further. He said 1.7 miles. I was like hot dog! Now either he was lying or I just smoked it, but I ran that 1.7 miles in just over 12 minutes. I can run 7-8 minute miles on the road, and this last section was relatively flat, so maybe I did cover those miles that fast. I ended up finishing 20 minutes faster than my running partner I just left at the last aid station.... so somehow I ran as if a fire was lit up my rear for the last 4+ miles. Before I knew it I saw the entrance into the finish line at Ottawa Lake. I took the phone out and called my wife. I'M COMING IN I shouted. I was tearing up. The only other time I ever teared up was the start of my first race in 2004. My very first race ever which was a Half Marathon. 9+ hours on your feet I guess is emotional. Not even in Ironman did I get emotional after finishing. I kissed my wife and headed for the finish chute, then I saw my pops there and my daughter was near the finish. I hugged her before crossing and checked if she wanted to run with me, but she started to run towards the finish just outside of the official chute. So I started running to, we were racing!!! I finished and let a big sigh of relief... HOORAY!






What I really got out of this race was another life lesson. I learned I have the ability to push and even go harder when I need to late in a long race. This was an invaluable lesson I learned, and something I want to continue doing in 2009, and I should be able to apply this in all my races. I got lots of heart and this is what I hope to test in each and every race I do, so mission accomplished. However I know people want to see times, so here they are...

9:12:18 11:04min/mile (39/121 official finishers 14/49 30-39)

First 35.89 miles 11:12min/mil 6:41:50

Last 14.11 10:44min/mil 2:31:28

So I executed exactly the way I wanted to and negative split the race. I passed over 40 runners since the 19 mile mark, where we had a timing mat. So I'm extremely happy with this.


Lessons learned This is a HARD race, it would have been easier if I did that 3rd ironman. You really need to train for this type of thing to do well. I mean months and months of training on real tough trails. I didn't think there would be such a difference between running through rocks, mud, sand, etc than the road. But its just a different world, uses different muscles. As much as I train for triathlon, as much as I bike and run, its still amazing to see different muscles being used. Its two days after and I can still barely walk.


I'm super excited about trail running and plan to do a full season in 2009 of trail running mixed in with triathlon. Not sure how I'm going to do it. I want my cake and I want to eat it to, so we'll see how it balances out. I want at least 1 more 50 in 2009 and then tackle a 100 in 2010. I'll have to race less triathlons to make this happen so I can get good and fast at trail running. So I'm off to look at the old schedule and see if it will be possible to squeeze in an early 50, two ironman races and a late 50 next year. I may sacrifice an ironman, not sure. But I'll be training like a maniac that's for sure

Thanks for reading!



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Longest Run

Posted by niemsco Oct 6, 2008

It was a long weekend that didn't go quite as planned. I was up in Wisconsin with the family looking at running on the Kettle Moraine Ice Age trail. As I looked into it, I realized hunting season was going on, and in fact hunting is allowed all along the ice age trail. I thought this rather peculiar as it seemed you would need to run on it at your own risk. I called the DNR and they guy I spoke with said "yeah you'll see hunters out there". I asked him if it were safe, he was like oh yeah, but wear something bright. Well that wasn't very reassuring, I'd rather not get shot or an arrow stuck in me. I decided to bag the Ice Age thing altogether.


I ran for an hour forty minutes total on Saturday. Did some harder efforts in there but nothing long. I was having some doubts on the whole ultra thing. The race is on the ice age trail, so the whole hunting thing kind of put it out of reach.


That was until Sunday. Sunday called for some showers, but I drove out to a trail with my wife and Dad tagged along. I paced my wife for an hour, it was her second 1 hour run in a row, so that was good for her. Upon getting back to the car I told her I was going to keep going, so I turned around back down the trail and kept going. About another 30 minutes in it started to rain, but I wasn't too worried. Just rain not lightning. I kept going until I popped out of the trail and found a water fountain where I filled my hand held up again. I had plenty of Gels to keep me going. I decided to head back to my parents home which would put me at about 3hrs 30 minutes.


It started to rain harder, but I kept the pace controllable. Anywhere from 9:15 to 9:35 a mile. It was fairly hilly in some sections so that was good practice. As I approached I was thinking to myself, well I feel good, maybe I'll just refuel and keep running. Maybe even hit the 5 hour mark. I got home, filled up my bottle with Accelerade and took back off. I figure hey, and hour and a half more no problem. I ran my way back through some rollers and good climbs to the beginning of the trail and kept going. Still raining. I hit the 4:15 mark and decided I should turn around and head back. I still felt pretty good. It was longest training run I ever had so far.


Legs felt ok, getting a little sore. I could feel some soreness in the quads, but as long as I kept going I was fine. Got to the home, and realized I just ran 50K, which is an ultra marathon in itself! I was pretty happy with myself and realized I was ready for the 50, despite the hunters. I'm sure it will be safe during the race. I'll get something orange to wear just in case.

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Saturday I was the official starter at the Kingsley Go Green Olympics! It was a race for kids K-5th grade and basically a short loop course. Kids could sign up for as many laps as they wanted and would get a medal upon completing the event. Basically I just took kids as they came lined them up and blew the whistle to take off. I had a cow bell and was cheering them on. My kid is in the back here:



It was pretty fun. I was amazed at a few kids that did almost 40 laps, which was close to five miles. The event was two hours long and you could also shoot hoops, jump rope, and some other things, but some kids just ran the entire time or walked. My daughter did about a mile, which was about 8 laps, that was pretty good considering she said she only would do one!


So after this, I still had to get my long run in. I decided I would do this run on the treadmill. I ran for three hours while watching football. My legs were a bit aching on Friday so I took it easy. I did some speedwork on Wednesday that I was still paying for. I hadn't done speed work in many months, mostly because of my calf injury back in July. I got about 19.3 miles in and I was stiff. My wife and daughter filled up the pool in the back as it was hot, so I just sat in the cold water after I was done. Achilles stilled ached.


Sunday I woke up stiff and wanted to run for 4 hours. I was like.. no way.. too stiff. I was cursing this 50 miler. My daughter had to go to a birthday party and wife had to study, so I decided to take off down the Green bay trail which is where I run. I hit it for 3 hours, then hoped on the treadmill immediately after for another hour. I didn't have enough nutrition for 4 hours, so I decided to do 3 outside and refuel at home and just hit the treadmill to save the legs a bit. Originally I was just thinking 2 hours so I'm glad I got the 4 in. The aches went away as I ran. Got in 25 miles.


Overall 62 running miles for the week, 10 more miles than last week. I have one more mega weekend where I'll go 3 1/2 then 4 1/2-5 on the trail I'll be racing on up in Wisconsin. That should be fun, just need to watch out for bears and hunters!

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Race not so good

Posted by niemsco Sep 15, 2008

Well the day came and came and came and went. IMWI was not the race I hoped for, in fact it was my slowest showing yet. Not due to poor preparation, but due to a few things which I had little control over. I finished 12:05 with a 1:14 swim, 5:55 bike, and 4:41 marathon. The marathon was a walk/run and I was in bad shape at this point.


The swim was a bit slow but my troubles started there with a powerful frog kick square in the middle of my face. It was enough to wake me up and I decided I would go wide of the buoys. Six minutes slower than my last IM swim, but not all that bad considering.


The trouble started on the bike. The night before my wife became sick. Stomach issues. I woke up not feeling all that well and had a hard time getting my bagel w peanut butter down. Only two hours into the bike I lost it. Threw up. I could not down my nutrition at this point and I was a long way from home. I had to hold off on the nutrition until my stomach came back, and I knew if I did this I would be in trouble as I need to get the calories in or I would bonk. Its catch 22. So I sort of struggled all the way through this sucker, and even though I finished 30 minutes faster than last year, I could have finished 50 minutes. I also got stung by a bee that got stuck in my aero helmet, in the head. I'm slightly allergic to these suckers, so I wasn't inspired by that.


By the time I got to the run, I was dizzy, dehydrated, and basically I had already bonked. I hit mile two and I sad ****, I'm in trouble. Its going to be a long one. And it was. I threw up a few more times. I ran into my coach around mile 13. He suggested I start taking chicken broth, I was way low on electrolytes at this point. This snapped me back and I could run again, but I would die down after 1/2 mile or so. I kept doing this to get me through the race. Toughest race I ever had in my life.

Me at the suffer fest next to the UW Madison football stadium.. Go badgers. I was running to tell my wife how much pain I was in and don't wait up


But finally I got through it





Sometimes it happens. I hope it doesn't happen to you, but if it does, just keep plugging away. Your training will pull through. I'm putting away my triathlon desires for the rest of the year. I'm racing at Ironman CdA and WI next year. I thought about Silverman, but I need to take a break from IM training and do something else...



So how about ultra running!  I signed up for my first 50 miler in Wisconsin on October 25th!  Hey maybe I can learn some stuff from Toby until then, but I start training this week!  Keep you posted. 






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Ironman Wisconsin next week!

Posted by niemsco Sep 3, 2008

Its been a long summer and long time since I posted. Mostly I've been doing this:




Not much of anything! I just got back from 2 weeks vacation in North Carolina on the beach. I've been over trained and just stopped for awhile.



Since Rockman I put in some pretty good performances at Racine Half Iron AquaBike : 3:04 and took 6th place, then Steelhead HIM, which turned into a duathlon because of strong rip currents at 4:20, top 10%, with a ripping 23mph+ 56 mile bike ride. I missed qualifying for the World championship however. I had been recovering and still am recovering from a torn left calf, if I had more recovery time I could have come close to qualifying I think. I was able to do the Aquabike where originally I was going to do the Half Iron in Racine, as I could not yet run at that point. Steelhead was the first time I was able to run and did a 1:41 half marathon after the 2:20 56 mile bike. So not that bad considering I hadn't run in several weeks, at least not hard.



That was about 5 weeks before IMWI which was my main race, but I hit a wall since. I just got tired of it all and felt like I peaked already. I took lots of time off and skipped several key long rides. I was just sick of looking at my bike. Gained some weight, but I'm fully rested.



IMWI is next Sunday. I still plan on beating my time from last year, in fact I feel pretty strong even though my final month of training has gone south. I've put so much time in over the winter and training for my early season Ironman in Arizona, I'm not all that worried about my fitness. I know experience and my fitness already should prevail.



After Wisconsin I'll make a decision on what race I'll do next. Its either Halfmax Long course nationals which Ive qualified for, Indy Marathon, or Silverman Ironman. I like the idea of doing Silverman, but it depends on what happens in Wisconsin. My calf has still not healed fully and may need to take some weeks off of doing nothing afterwards. I'll post my race results when done!



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Rockman Half Ironman Race Report

Posted by niemsco Jun 11, 2008

The race was the Rockman Half Ironman in Rockford, IL. I went 5:07:41 on a difficult course with ridiculous conditions.  Lightning, 40mph winds, hail, trees falling down almost crushing competitors.  278 people finished and 125 dropped and about another 30 never showed up.  They were probably the smart ones. There were some positives and not so positives.



I got up just before 4am to have a bagel with peanut butter. But the bagel was a bit stale and I only ate half of it. Yuck! I ended up downing a Cliff bar with some coffee and water. I heard it was going to be hot today, but when I went out to the car from the hotel, it was raining. I got to the race site just after 5am for a 7am start and sat there until the rain stopped. Then I walked a quarter mile or so down to the start and it seemed quite pleasant. Little did I know a wicked storm was coming in, but that's for later.


Swim: 39:05. Very disappointing for me and a step back. I can only say I just didn't have it today. I seemed tired in the swim, maybe it was too much training, I don't know. I expected to go under 34 minutes. Get'm next time is all I can say.


Bike: 2:44:08 (20.5mph) I thought I was done for awhile with windy conditions after IMAZ, but the gusts started up on the bike course. 30, 40, I heard stories up to 60mph. Who knows, but it was windy. I didn't know what the course would be like, and I didn't anticipate needing a climbing gear. I still had the 11-23 on the race wheels but needed the 12-25. Good rollers, reminded me a bit of the IMWI course in some areas. Challenging course, and the wind of course made it miserable. But I learned from Arizona and just took it easy and waited to go with the wind, where I would hammer it. I kept a relatively conservative pace. The problems occurred towards the end, I'm not exactly sure what mile marker, maybe 48-50, but dark clouds were coming in and lightning surrounding us. I was freaking out, because lightning, you just don't mess with. But what was I going to do? I'm in the middle of farm country, no one was around except other triathletes. My only thought was, I'm near the end, just keep at it and they will certainly cancel the race once in transition. However it was just getting started as heavy rain and hail came. With the wind it was painful! My arms and body were red from getting pelted and the rain was hitting my helmet so hard I couldn't hear anything. I could hardly see anything. geez.... Finally towards the end it let up a little and I was glad. So all in all, decent bike considering conditions.


Run: 1:40:28 (7:40). Coming into T2, I saw people coming out for the run. I was like ok... well if they are running I'm not going to stop. So I got my soggy socks and shoes on and headed out squeaking all the way. Very hilly HIM course but it's about a 6 minute PR on my last HIM, and that course was a pancake!! So this is a huge improvement. Rain and wind kept coming and a few trees fell over, one almost taking out the lead female in the race. Crazy stuff. I cramped up early in the run and had to limp for awhile. I was lucky as I was close to and aid station and stopped for a banana and water. That seemed to miraculously cure me! It started up later again in the run, but the guy I was running with offered me a Gel and that seemed to work. Thanks man!!!


Support: My entire family was out there the entire time. They get the gold medal for best race supporters! I'm glad everyone is ok and no one got hurt by the weather.


So... swim... I'll work on that and iron it out. Keep hammering the bike training and run training. Those seem to be on track. I did this race with essentially no taper and high intensity training volume, so I have to keep it in perspective. Was hoping for a sub 5hr finish, but keep the eye on the prize... IMWI!

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Ironman Arizona Race Report

Posted by niemsco Apr 14, 2008

Well its the morning after IMAZ, and I just raced the toughest race of my life. Not only did it hit 98 degrees (someone told me), but the winds on the bike were the harshest winds I've ever experienced. We were all warned by Mike Reilly to just survive and finish don't go for PRs. He definitely wasn't kidding. I was ready to go 10:30 or below in this race, but I had no idea it was going to be like this. In fact I'm amazed I just survived, after all I went through. I've never done well in the heat and DNF'd and was hospitalized once in races not near this kind of heat. One was in Arizona in fact. So I had this in the back of my mind, and I tried to stop thinking about it.


I got up at 3am to have my ritual breakfast of bagel and peanut butter and huge bottle of OJ. I was pretty loaded up going into race day, so I didn't need to eat too much, about 700 calories. Then I was off to the race site, just before 5am. Many people were there already. I wanted to get my bike from transition and get a last air pump from the crew in transition before the line got huge. That all worked out. So I set my bike up, went to check on my transition bags, to make sure there was no funny business going on, and then went to chill out somewhere and listen to music. Just before six I decided I would make a last potty stop and get in line. Lines of course are looonnnggg... and then suit up. I got the wetsuit on, dropped the dry clothes bag with the crew, and went down to the swim start to watch the pros take off. The swim start was about 200 yards from where you get into the lake, so you have to swim a little to get there. I figured I'd go in 10 minutes before and just tread water. It wasn't that bad, because you have a wetsuit on. Treading is easy. I tried to go a bit wide to not be in traffic, but then so did everyone!! I couldn't find any open space. I wanted to start up near the front, but not in front. I figured I was around a 1:10 swimmer. Finally I settled and waited for the gun:


Swim time: 1:08:25 (1:48/100m)

Overall I think at this point in my swimming, this is probably as good as I could have done. I do need a lot more open water practice, I have a tendency to swim to the left when there is no line. So I could tell I was zigg zagging a bit. It was a mass 2000+ person start so there was no doubt going to be some battling in there. Its just a fact in Ironman and the less you worry about it the better you are. Just be ready. I tried to draft off someone most the time, but also found myself being drafted off of with no one in front of me. That was no good, because I knew I'd be working too much. This shmuck behind me kept grabbing my feet, at several places in the course. Maybe it was a different shmuck each time. I was afraid they were going to rip my timing chip off. But that is so stupid, I never grab feet and I never try to even hit feet. Besides you will get a sprained finger or hand if you mess with someones feet because they'll kick hard to get you the **** away (Like I do ). The swim just seemed to go by, and when I got out and saw that 1:08, I pumped my fist into the air. That is pretty consistent to what my base pace is at the pool. That's like a 1:38/100yard pace, which is what I swim as my base training pace. So I was happy to see that I swam at my potential. I improved quite a bit from my 1:23 time at IM Wisconsin. I've only been swimming a year and a few months, but been working very hard at improving, plus I have an outstanding coach who use to coach at Bucknell. I transition pretty well, I was in and out. My HR was soaring a bit as I ran into the transition. I knew I needed to calm down a bit. It was already quite crowded in transition. Lots of 1:08s or better getting ready.


Bike time : 5:51:09 (19.1mph)

This is where the race started going downhill. Within the first 5 miles the wind was so bad I was wondering to myself how to get through this. The wind hits you once you get out of town and into the desert. It was so strong it almost knocked my 138 pound frame off the bike. It definitely was a struggle to keep the bike straight. You could easily get knocked into someone if they were passing. My HR was still high, so I tried to relax... but basically the wind made the out part of the out and back loop a climb. I was in climbing gear going out, it truly sucked. When I made the turnaround though it was time to fly. I haven't looked at my actual speed times yet, but going out it was anywhere between 11-16 mph, and at one point I hit 35 mph coming back. And it is pretty flat course. I didn't even hit 35 at a hilly course like Wisconsin. So that wind was just wicked.


Second loop went by ok, but on the 3rd I struggled. The wind had picked up making it a little harder, but my head was hurting. I felt light headed and I knew this was a sign of dehydration. I had thought I was consuming liquids enough. I generally don't do well in the heat as I've said, and haven't had a chance to really train in the heat coming from Chicago area.


I knew I was in shape to go 5:30 or better, and maybe I could have if it weren't for the heat and it was just windy. But the heat just got into your throat making it bad all around. I'm glad I broke 6 hours, but I have a lot to learn from this and know what I need to do at IMWI this year to improve.


With 100 miles done on the bike I was suffering and did not know how I could run. Not that my legs hurt, it was my body and head. I got off the bike from transition and went slowly to the transition bag got my stuff and went into the nudy room. I sat down there and talked to one of the volunteers for a bit. I was just thinking how I could get through this. He iced my cap, gave me some water, I went to the potty and I was off:


Run: 4:24:02 (10:05)

The run is usually my strongest leg, but it wasn't happening today. I had stopped in a medical tent twice, the first time I was in for nearly 20 minutes. After 1.5 miles there was the stop, and I stopped. I asked for medical to check me out. I was afraid of dehydration. Like I said I DNF'd one time and ended in the hospital. The guys sat me down blew a fan on me, gave me a cold towel and spent some time with me. They were great. Actually these guys were Ironman, they ran IMAZ last year. They could relate to my issues. After awhile I felt like I could go on. It was a three loop race and I knew I would pass by here again. The volunteers at these Ironman races are just unbelievable. They really make sure you are ok.


So I went on.... I had done a series of walking and running. Lots of people were walking, so it was easy to get caught up in that. I actually walk very slow because I have short legs. I noticed several walkers gaining on me! I do well better when I just try to run. So I made it through the loop ok, but was already thinking about stopping at that tent again. So I did. I found the same guys who took care of me, sat down in the tent and chatted a bit! Then I thought to myself... hey if I don't get up, I'm never getting up, so I was off.


After that I was set, I was passing people left and right, actually I was around a 8min/pace and below, but I stalled at all the stops making sure I was good to go, which made my actual pace much higher. So my race tactics at this point was run to the next stop, not more stopping in between. It wasn't until mile 11.5 I found my family on the run. I was excited about it and stopped to chit chat a little. After that point I was good to go, and actually ran much stronger in the last 10 miles, even stronger in the last six. I only walked at this point at aid stations. I still need to work out the stations at IM. There are so many of them, one a mile, and I think I was taking in too many calories. You could really stuff yourself at these aid stations. I'm definitely going to come up with a better scheme at IMWI. That last mile I just must of blistered the pace, people were like what's up with this guy. I knew the end was coming and I was just happy. I made sure no one was around me so I could get a good finishing shot


Overall, I'm just happy to finish this one, and I PR'd actually! My first IM I went 12:02. This is my second IM, so at least I did that. I talked to several people and some were as much as 2 hours off their expected time. I suspect the people in front of me could handle the heat much better than I (at least I'll think that ). But I have high hopes for IMWI and my chances at qualifying for a spot at Kona. I've got a lot to work on until then after I recover, but I'm fired up about it definitely. I'm fired up I got my swim below 1:10, and I've got a much better engine on the bike and my run has improved a lot actually. I just need to put it all together, put my nutrition together and I should be good to go. Until then..

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Keys to approaching Ironman

Posted by niemsco Apr 11, 2008


Its simple. Just have these goals:


Swim time: don't worry about it

Bike time: don't worry about it

Run time: don't worry about it


Overall: Race smart and kick ***!


Worrying about times only sets you up for failure. You train hard... VERY HARD... so you don't need to worry about times, you will be confident in your ability. Race the race you've trained for, its a long day, too many things could happen which are out of your control, so don't waste energy worrying on a time and conditions. Race the race you trained for and the time will take care of itself.


That said.. anything over 11 hours and I'll be disappointed   See ya at the finish!



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Its almost time to race!

Posted by niemsco Apr 9, 2008

Its getting close to the race, and I've had a hard time getting any work done today. In fact I probably should just take a vacation today, because I didn't do much. I plan on taking some work with me on the trip, this may actually calm me and keep me from getting caught up in the race hoopla.


So.... today I had an interesting track workout... Yes track workout several days before the IM. I've done this workout before my last IM and before Chicago. Basically it was 4 x (800 at 3:30, then 200 jog, 300 HARD, and 300 jog). I was to get my average HR for the 800s and my speed for the 300s. I did much better that in previous times. I was at a 7min/mile pace on the 800s and stayed in zone 2, high zone 2.. then the 300s were around a 5:30-5:20 pace.


After the workout I was a bit sore. It wasn't an all out track workout, fairly light just to get things moving and stay sharp, but still I had some things going on. I ended up getting a massage around 12:30pm just down the street. I can't say whether it helped or not, she didn't really apply pressure, but I guess this can be good at least she didn't do damage. As if this wasn't enough, I called my chiro to see if he could look at my left achilles as it was aching again. I saw him yesterday and he said if anything comes up let him know, so I said what the heck, my insurance covers it.


Now nothing hurts while I'm running and this only just sprung up, so I'm sure there is some mental things going on here. But the left achilles has been on and off since IM Wisconsin. So... he did this thing where he rolled out my calves... Ouch!!! I'm not sure what he called it, but he said not to worry this can only help, but it could bruise! He had some contraption which he used to do this. He sprayed some liquid on my calves and used this tiny roller pin. On my left calve it was really painful, that is where all the problems are. Apparently doing this to calves is going to help my achilles. Who knows...


Anyway I went out to dinner at my favorite Italian place with the family, packed up my stuff for the most part and hear that 1000 more flights on American may be canceled tomorrow! Great, that would effect me. I have the 10am flight out of O'Hare to Phoenix. The same flight today was canceled. So I'm crossing my fingers. Need to register by Friday or no race. I may need to take drastic measures like book another airline. That would hurt..


Lot of things going on today, the only thing bugging me really is the flights, but its out of my control. Had a strong run, fitness has improved a lot. Hopefully tomorrow I'll write from Phoenix.


Also having a wetsuit dilemma. My original got a rip in it while on vacation last week, so I got a new one while on vacation, but I don't really like it. Unfortunately now I can't really take it back. I got some wetsuit cement and tried to patch my old Orca. Hopefully this will work. I'm taking both to AZ just in case. The new one is actually a Blue Seventy Helix which people rave about. But I don't like it as much as my Orca. It has a reverse zipper which I don't trust. Seems like it would be too easy for someone to actually unzip it.

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Ironman Arizona - 2 weeks to go

Posted by niemsco Mar 31, 2008

Let me first start by saying I drank and ate too much last night. I was celebrating my training so far going into my two week taper. The food was good though and so were the drinks!


Overall I had a great week nearly 20 hours, a 3 hour run and a 6 hour 20 minute brick. Getting some great power on the bike, and feeling pretty good in the open water, and not to mention the run has been strong ever since setting that PR at March Madness, of course even earlier then that.


So there is not much to do at this point other than follow coaches schedule and stick to the zones! Next week is still 14 hours so its not like we are cutting way back. I suppose there is danger in drastically cutting back, you need to ease up a bit, but try to maintain some intensity here and there. Work on the tan a bit more and I should be set! I'm actually anxious to start training for Ironman Wisconsin! I'm really going to hit the vasa trainer big time and hit it hard on the bike and try to raise the ftp again. Looking forward to some racing but I'll take one at a time! Getting outdoors with the bike has really been exciting. I feel like cycling may be my best sport right now.


I don't know what is up with my Zipp wheel yet. I may call the LBS while I'm on vacation.


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Another week done, 3 to go

Posted by niemsco Mar 23, 2008

Had a great week of training coming off the half marathon. It was a lower volume week at 17 hours but high intensity. I took it easy on Monday but started to ratch it up on Tuesday with Masters swim and bike. Throughout the week I took it easy on the run but pushed it on the bike until I got to Saturday.


Saturday was a key 5 hour 20 minute brick. A high intensity 3 1/2 hour computrainer ride on Ironman Wisconsin, pushing around 178 watts for the entire ride. Then the idea was to run hard for 1 3/4 hours, 10 miles in zone 3 around 7:30pace, 13.2 overall. The biggest different in my training now than for my first ironman are these long hard brick workouts. Previously my 5-7 hour brick workouts were mostly zone 1 and 2 efforts, simply trying to build the endurance to last a half day of racing. Now I'm moving a step beyond that and pushing some long hard efforts, as well as pushing more on the run, bike, and swim in general.


I'm recovering quick from workouts and no injuries (knock on wood!). Week 3 is going to be a high volume week but low intensity. I have a 3 hour run and 7 hour brick which I'm going to do in Naples, Florida (I'll be on vacation starting Thursday). The 6 hour ride in that brick is to just be in the saddle on the road for awhile. I'm trying to find a good route in Naples where I can do this. Most likely I'll just loop around (a few hundred times ), the neighborhood. It will also give me a good chance to get some open water swimming in, something I can not do in Lake Michigan this time of year, obviously!


My rear Zipp wheel has a crack in it! I took it to the LBS and they shipped it to zipp. Hopefully I will get it back while I'm on vacation, looks like a defect, not caused by me, so it its covered under warranty.  I plan to ship my bike out using So I need to have it ready by April 5th. If I can't get the Zipp, I may borrow my coaches race wheels, which he already agreed to. Bit of a bummer, but hopefully I'll have it back.


Keep focused everyone... and kick some butt!

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Its been awhile since I posted.  Its interesting to see the numbers from previous weeks.  The only thing I can say about training over the last several weeks is that solid work on the trainer has payed off drastically.  The winter here in the Chicago area has been relentless.... in fact I haven't rode outside at all since IM Wisconsin if you can believe that.  But I'm a firm believer that a solid 5 hour road on a computrainer is worth 6+ hours on the road. 


I've been able to raise my FTP 30 watts since the first test last year.  I have an FTP now of 220.  I just ripped a 1:28:57 on the toughest HM course in Northern IL.  My previous PR on that course from two years ago was 1:43.  I was able to hold 171 watts for 4 hours on the IMAZ course last week, where I couldn't come close that previously.  While those hours spent in the basement doing 5-6 hour bricks were dreadful at times, regardless of how I do at IMAZ, I'm at a much better point than I've ever been.  Being consistent and dragging my butt around when I didn't necessarily want to has made all the difference. 


Swim is still getting there.  Fortunately next week I'll be on vacation in Florida and will have a chance to swim in the Gulf plus get a good long ride outside in some heat.  After that I'm off the Arizona.  So far so good.  Keep at it everyone.


I'm officially not running that Chicago Marathon again by the way.... I'm done with that, I'll look for a Tri, maybe in Nevada.... or who knows... in October..


The flu took me out for a few days a couple weeks ago, but other than that have been going at it.

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Training - Week 10

Posted by niemsco Feb 10, 2008


Another week in the bank:


total hours 16:11


swim 8400 yards

bike 103.85 miles

run 36.25 miles (long 2hr 15min)


Feeling strong on the run and the bike, stronger than previous IM training, and the swim seems to be improving. Still getting my arse kicked in masters by some strong swimmers. This week I focused on the long run and not so much the bike, next week I'll get back up to the long ride and run. Saturday I went for a 4:15 brick with a 2 hour computrainer ride on the IM WI course, then a 2:15 run. The last 1/3 of that run was at a hard pace zones 3 and 4. Simulated race conditions, and my legs felt like a race afterwards. Focus on the run was also on hill repeats earlier in the week. My first HM is in March and its the most difficult course in northern Illinois (so its been dubbed). Its in a section of the state near WI where its very hilly, very choppy in fact. I've done it twice before and haven't broken 1:40 yet on it, so this will be good test to see where I'm at. I would expect to beat that easily this time but who knows what will happen, can't control everything.


Weight is fluctuating a bit, I'm training a lot but eating a lot also. But still have gotten down under 143. Need to get closer to 138, ideally 135, but was up to 147. Nutrition is not the best part of my schedule, tonight I had pizza in fact with the family. But only once this week Scale says my body fat is less than 10 however, but I'm not sure I believe the Tanita Ironman scale. In fact it says something like 6, but I've weighed much less before.


Next few weeks are going to be 20 hours plus, then a recovery week before a 3 week build followed by a 3 week peak phase. I'm going to try and indoor tri next Sunday so that should be interesting. Never tried one of those before.


Need to focus more on general nutrition and get some more sleep. Other than that I'm doing great!





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IM AZ - Week 11

Posted by niemsco Feb 3, 2008

Totals for the week:


Swim: 7800 yards

Swim vasa: 1 hour

Bike: 139.74 miles

Run: 31.7 miles

Strength: 90 minutes

Total time: 17:50


Had a great week of training to make it two weeks in a row. Luckily work hasn't gotten in the way. Focus on hill intervals on the run, bike strength and long ride for the bike, and just kept plugging away in the masters swim focusing on technique and power. Breakdown for the week:



70 minute hill workout 6 x EMH (easy, medium, hard) hills on treadmill at 7%. Fairly tough workout, BT workout.

35 minute easy bike recovery

30 minute vasa workout



75 minute masters swim

75 minute cadence workout on computrainer

45 minute strength session



90 minute LR: I reduced the time from previous week by 30 minute

40 minute swim: working on technique drills



70 minute bike strength: Basically would do short intervals on the CT at 53/11, pushing a low cadence, just above 60. Each interval would be harder than the next then I would reset

30 minute vasa



75 minute masters: Huge snow storm came in, about a foot of snow. Everyone still seemed to make it to masters. Was swimming in the mid 1:30/100 on many sets, that was good for me.

60 minute run

45 minutes of strength



Long brick 5:20

4:30 on the computrainer riding IM Arizona course. Stayed in zone 1 the first two hours putting out an average wattage of 136, next two hours in zone 2, 150 watts, last 30 minutes in zone 1, 135 watts. Tough ride to do on the CT actually. Took a 2 minute transition into the run.


Ran 50 minutes, felt really good on the run after about 30 minutes I could go forever. Kept it in low zone 2 high zone 1. My quads were a bit funky after the brick, I haven't had too many long rides under my belt this season, so that is going to be a big focus. Next week I'll drop the long ride to recovery as I've built over the last 3 weeks, but work on the LR, then the following week get back into sync. I'm out of sync a bit with the long run and ride because of the trip to France.


Sunday: Rest


Most of the days this week I was up at 4 or 5am to get the workouts out of the way before having to work. Then I would sneak something in either at lunchtime or later that day. Next week doesn't look like any work travel except a local trip out to the burbs. The following weeks may need to go to Europe, so will try to keep it up. Snow is still around, hopefully some of it might melt with some rain tomorrow (Hopefully!)


My Log





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Greetings! I'm sitting here on my rest day enjoying the time off from a great week of training. While the weather remained bone chilling cold with windchills below 20 degree F, I had a lot of quality time on the Computrainer and the treadmill. Today however its 35 degrees, so I'm looking forward to next week.


I hit my two big ones this week which were a 2 hour run and a 4:45 brick. I got a total of 17 hours 40 minutes, broke it down as follows:



Run (60min): treadmill hills, 7 repeats at about 6%

Bike (45min): easy recovery, zone 1

Swim (30min): vasa



Swim (75): masters

Bike (75): cadence workout on CT, kept to zones 1 & 2

Strength (45): AA training (Joel Friels plan)



Run (120mins)

Swim (40mins) : easy, worked on some drills into longer sets of 400



Bike (90mins): Hilly ride getting into Zones 3 and 4: I would vary the incline on the CT simulating hills.. It was tough

Swim (30mins): vasa



Swim (75): masters

Run (50min): zones 1 and 2

Strength (45): AA



Bike (4hours): Riding IM AZ course on CT, kept to zones 1 and 2, but got into 3 for about 49 minutes

Run (45min): immediately following the bike


Sunday: Rest


Feeling good on Sunday, next week I think is a recovery week, need to check with coach, but I might do a longer bike. Eventually will get my bike over 6 hours and run probably 3+. Still need a shed some pounds I gained over the holidays. No injuries to report, but the bike worked me over a bit. It's tough to do a 4 hour ride on the CT, harder than the actual road in my opinion.

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