Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

The Descent

Today the main set at the pool was 4x500m on 7:30.  I descended 7:05.8, 6:56.1, 6:49.2 and 6:41.6.  Maybe next week I should just pull out of the race after T1.  It is probably about as good as it will get.  For comparison sake, more than a year ago about ten days out from Ironman Lake Placid I descended 3x850m r.:20 by going 11:59, 11:54 and 11:54.  Arguably, the pace is about the same at 1:16/100yards but I’d have to say that 850s with 20 seconds rest are more difficult than 500s with approximately 25-35 seconds.


Sometimes it just feels right…and that is enough

Today I swam and it just felt right.  I was on top of the water.  I felt the tired coming on but never exhaustion.  I was able to steadily descend.  My breathing was strong

I’m sure it wasn’t the fastest sets that I’ve ever done, but it was fast enough.  I don’t think my form was precisely on the mark, but it was close enough.

After a 500 warm up — 2×200 swim easy and a 100 back — I did the main set: 10×200 r. :15 followed immediately by 10×100 r. :10 with 1-5 and 11-15 pull and the rest swim.  I descended 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20.

The 200s were 2:50, 2:50, 2:49, 2:46 and 2:44 pull followed by 2:48, 2:48, 2:44, 2:42 and 2:41 before doing 100s in 1:26, 1:25, 1:24, 1:23, and 1:21 of pulls and finished out with swimming at 1:24, 1:23, 1:20, 1:19 and 1:18.

Afterward I did 300 easy — 200 free and 100 back followed by 4×25 all out on :45.  Warm down with 100 easy.  All told, 4,000 meters.

Only ten days until Ironman Maryland.


I.  I forgot to put any posts about a race I did last month.  I went to the Culpeper Olympic on Sunday the 3rd.  All in all, it was a good day but I didn’t get home in time for much of the birthday party happening at lunchtime across the street.  It took me 2:20:27 to get around the hilly course which is not even close to a best time at that distance.

I swam a few seconds over 22 minutes and although the pace was not noteworthy, it felt right.  For the first time in more than a year, the swim felt like I was pushing just hard enough from start to finish.  I was first in my wave and age group and second overall.  I wore the Roka Viper speed suit again — and really, if that suit had existed and been race legal when I was a kid I would have lived in it at age group swimming meets.  I really love it.  The bike was hilly but there was really only one “leg buster” and in part it was so bad because I didn’t see it coming.  My average power was 239 watts and the normalized power was 250.  I was aiming for a NP of 263.  My Garmin had it at 1821 feet of elevation gain.  I was passed right out of transition by a younger guy and I kept him in sight for 19 miles before passing him for good.  I had hoped to be the first off the bike but was passed by another guy (Mike Stevenson from Ignite) and though we yo-yoed a bit with me gaining on the descents, he finished the bike leg seconds ahead of me.  To his great credit, he was out of transition way ahead of me and then continued to run away.

The run was a slog.  Elsewhere I noted that after the first two miles I was in triage mode.  I had done 5:31 bike followed by a 17 minute brick run on the day before the race and I really felt it on the run course.  I had no oomph, no spark.  At the end of the day, I was first in my age group and twelfth overall.  I hung out with some friends from the shop and saw at least one person from the Tuesday night run crowd.

II. Last weekend, the tribe did a 5k at Great Falls.  Everyone took part and it was the first in the series — I think we have been to three or four since last autumn — where I was not running alongside one of the kids.  What at doozy.  The course was a bit long; as in, it was 4.29 miles and included a massive stair-step style hill through the woods that we had to do twice.  I did a brick the day before this race too — 105/5 miles — and even though I think I finished 10th overall, the big win of the day was simply outpacing E.  It won’t be long before she gets me every time.

III.  We went to Family Camp.  I had the most sublime run of the year there.  I circumnavigated the lake.  It was 12.1 miles and took me a big chunk of the morning but I never really tired and I could have kept going.  At the end, it was a 7:57 pace on a hilly course on a sunny day with no water or nutrition for duration.  Later that day I told Dana that I felt like a runner.  This is no small feat and I attribute it all to the magic of the environment.  Even if those runs — that feeling — only comes a few times a year, it is what makes it worthwhile.  Hard to believe that I spent time hobbled and on crutches earlier this year.

Family Camp 2014 -- Best Week of the Year!

Family Camp 2014 — Best Week of the Year!

Ideas Swirling About In My Head

  • Yesterday we came home from a week in Maine.  Family camp is responsible for an outsized number of really great experiences even though we only go there once a year for a week.  We spend the whole time — except when we are sleeping — outdoors.  This year the breakthrough activity had to be SUP — stand up paddle board. Everyone tried it.  Josephine loved it.  Dana did yoga on it.
  • I ran several times in Maine including one circumnavigation of the lake.  The long run on Friday clocked in at 1:36 and 12.1 miles — or about a 7:57 pace over a hilly course.  It felt good — in fact, it was probably the best long run I’ve done in at least a year.  My calves were tight for two days after — the run itself was memorable and included a degree of ease that is rare for me.
  • We swam Walden Pond again — and this year we let the kids climb in a new cove and race from shore to shore.  I love that place.
  • A couple of months ago I carefully drew up a day by day workout plan to get me to Ironman Maryland.  Yesterday I realized that the 16 week plan — scribbled into little boxes, one per day, on lined notebook paper — left out a week.  That is right.  I went straight from August 24 to September 1.  Good news: I have one more week of training available to prepare for Maryland.  Bad news: I have to redo the last 3-4 weeks of workouts.
  • The verdict on my ear and hearing is in and it is good.  Just before leaving for vacation I learned that my hearing is certainly in the “normal” range, the hole is healed and the recovery is better than would have been expected had I undergone surgery in June.  With all that said, there is a difference and hearing in my right ear is better than the left.
  • The rope swing is really one of the greatest summer activities of all time.
Rope Swing at Family Camp!

Rope Swing at Family Camp!

I don’t want to get ahead of things, but I may be getting my hearing back.  At the very least, the dullness in my left ear is starting to wane.


South Africa’s Kyle Buckingham was the winner (along with Amber Ferreira from New Hampshire) at Ironman Lake Placid.  I saw a post on Twitter this morning that said his Normalized Power was 305.  That is a bit of perspective on my new FTP.  In other power related news, this blog post from Linsey Corbin gives insight into how many watts she recently pushed to win in Austria.

Crowded Calendar

Last weekend was a blur.  On Friday there was a pep rally for the kids’ swim team.  Saturday we went to two swim meets then I did a long run of 2+ hours where I nearly set a p.r. for the half marathon distance missing out by about 20 seconds.  The run went well until about mile 12 at which point the wheels started coming off.  Unfortunately, it was a 15+ mile run.  Later that night we watched a movie with hundreds of neighbors on an open field adjacent to a local playground.  Cinema Del Ray is a wonderful, monthly summer institution but not so good on the back and legs when you are sore.  Bright and early on Sunday I took the tribe about an hour down the interstate for their first triathlon.  It was big fun and pictures will follow.  E, D and J all competed and had fun.

Sunday afternoon I did a long ride.  Ran track on Tuesday night and did a brick on Wednesday after work.  Yesterday morning I went out to repeat the FTP test that I did in late May.  With 9 mph wind out of the north, I averaged 25.2 mph for 20 minutes.  More importantly, my average watts went up from 270.2 to 292 which increased the FTP from 257 to 277.  All in all, that is about an 8 percent gain in two months.  I was aiming for 300 — and I know there is plenty of room for improvement.  I’ll give it another go before we go to Maine next month.


Twenty Minutes on Hains Point -- New FTP of 277.4 with 292 watt average.

Twenty Minutes on Hains Point — New FTP of 277.4 with 292 watt average.


At work, the past two weeks have been as busy as any two week period I can remember in years.  All of this makes for one very crowded calendar and some very sound sleeping.

Shifty Hip Pain — Pigeon

For the last several years, as my running volume would increase so would the frequency and intensity of a soreness, a sharp pain actually, on the right side of my lower back.  It would come in at about the level of my belt and about 45 degrees around my body from the spine to the point of my hip.

I haven’t had this pain since springtime when I’ve been so focused on improving my run form.  This change of course was prompted by nagging hamstring tenderness and the big blowout of my calf.

However, in the past week the volume of work has definitely started to go up.   The old familiar pain has not come around but a new, substitute pain has crept into my life.  Also found in the right hip, but it is broader and covers a larger area about the size of a fist.  The area is closer to the side of my body and lower — practically where my butt muscles attach to the hip.  It is also more of a soreness and a dull ache than the sharp pain that would jab at me from my lower back in the past.

Either way, it is annoying.  This morning I got on the floor and used the roller.  It is a devious little bit of foam.  Hopefully it will help me sort this out in the near term.  In the long term, I must figure out what it is about my bike form or running style that is out of balance and causing this problem.

As I was flopping about the floor this morning, it made me think that I really ought to try harder to practice pigeon pose.  It is a yoga pose that I have absolutely no success with and it is a hip opener.

Shaved and Dangerous

I’ve been convinced for years, these guys went looking for data.

Approximately 70 seconds per 40 kilometers.

Montclair Triathlon — Nine Years in the Making

Nine years ago, I took part in the 18th Annual High Country Triathlon in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  Immediately afterward, we went on a family camping trip.  We prepared more for the camping part of the trip than I did for the race.  Nonetheless, something started there and shortly after completing that first race I registered for a 70.3 the following spring.  The race has its charms — a lovely little lake, an out-and-back bike course that climbs and descends over the local ridge line of the Appalachians, and a one-of-a-kind reverse order to the events with the five kilometer run coming first and the finish line on the beach after the swim.

Last weekend I went back to the sprint distance for the first time since that rookie race.  I rode my own bike instead of borrowing a friend’s bike.  I didn’t crash.  I was able to run the whole way with no walking.  And, I may have had as much fun as the first time out.

Sunday I was in the little community of Montclair, Virginia with six others from the Tri 360 team and 310 other individual participants.  I ended up first in my age group out of 42 finishers and 10th overall with a time of 1:08:47.42.  The breakdown for the three sections is 11:27.98 for the swim (4th overall and third male), 31:47:34 for the bike (7th overall and 6th male) and 22:27.54 for the run (55th overall with a 7:15 minute mile pace.)

I’m not really sure how the results work because I was awarded the top place for my age group but the guy who won fifth place was 40 years old but listed in an “Open” division.  He also turned in the fastest swim split and fastest bike split of the day.

Wearing the club gear and holding my new paperweight.  Old men can still race!

Wearing the club gear and holding my new paperweight. Old men can still race!

I’ve now done 26 triathlons.  I’m going to keep at it as long as they stay fun.  If Montclair is an indicator, they will be fun for quite a while.

The Nuts & Bolts of Montclair
  • I was passed in the last few meters of the run by a hard charging 15 year old.  I could hear the crowd urging us on and he was obviously closing a gap, but there was nothing I could do.  I simply had no more juice in my legs.  As it turns out, according to the magic of Garmin the last little bit of my run was at a 5:46 pace and my heart rate spiked to 163.  He still blew the doors off of me.
  • Speaking of run splits, I did a 7:24 followed by a second mile at 7:49.  The second mile was nearly all uphill at about a two to three percent grade.  The last mile came back down to 6:56 pace.  Those are respectable times but when you note that my swim and bike splits were both top ten and I only turned in the 55th fastest run, it is clear where I need to focus.
  • My average cadence on the bike was 92 and it got all the way up to 117.  That is good — I’m finally developing some of those fast twitch muscle fibers.
  • The power and speed numbers for the bike are a bit hard to read.  It seems that I forgot to hit stop on the Garmin as I racked my bike.  As a result, Garmin thinks my ride was three hours long.
If you look closely, you can identify where I put my feet in the shoes in the first two minutes and the four distinct U-turns where power dropped to zero.

If you look closely, you can identify where I put my feet in the shoes in the first two minutes and the four distinct U-turns where power dropped to zero.


  • The maximum average power over 20 minutes was 264 watts and I did an average 259 watts over the 31 minute ride.  I had been hoping to break 270 which is the number I did in a test last month and produced my current FTP of 257.  Alas, I think the downhills did me in.  Even though I kept pressure on the pedals and used every gear on the cassette, at several points you can see the power drop down around 200 watts.
  • My strongest one minute average power came right at the beginning.  There is a 5 percent grade up to the main road and the second minute of the bike shows a 325 watt average.
  • There isn’t much to say about the swim.  I wore the Roka Viper speedsuit and I love it as much as the day I got it.  I took off to the front of wave three at the start, was caught by the eventual swim “winner” just after the first 100 meter buoy, tried to draft but only stayed with him for another 75 meters or so, and then chugged along until I was finished.
  • I took a Gu Roctane about 20 minutes before the swim and two sips of Perform during the bike but otherwise didn’t worry about food and energy until it was all over.
  • I really like racing with the data on the bike but the course was crowded enough and we were going fast enough that I didn’t spend much time looking down at the Garmin.
  • Both transition times were about one minute and change (1:38 and 1:28).  That is good and can always be better.
  • At this URL, you can find short video clips of me running across the beach after the swim and coming into the finish chute after crossing the dam.  Funny thing, the 15 year old mentioned above is in both clips.  In the first one he is a few steps behind me and in the final shot you can see him make the pass about 10 meters from the finish line.



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