Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

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.


A Month With Hearing Loss

Don’t get kicked in the head.  That is my free Internet medical advice of the day.

It has been one month since the episode at the Ironman Raleigh 70.3 and I have still not healed up properly.  However, I’m on the right track.  After ten days of medications and several visits to the ENT, I was diagnosed with pretty significant hearing loss, a broken eardrum and likely a hairline fracture to the jaw.  Yesterday I went back for a check up.  I have regained much of the hearing loss although it takes 23 decibels for me to hear something in my left ear and only five in my right ear.  The hole in the eardrum is not healed yet and the volume inside my ear is 5.5 something or other which means the test is also measuring some of the space behind the eardrum.  For comparison sake, it should be between 1.0 and 1.5 and my right ear volume measured at 1.1.

The prognosis is still good.  There is still a probability — because I’m healthy and there has been some progress in the past four weeks — that the eardrum will heal on its own and full hearing will return.  I’m next due back in six weeks for another checkup.  In the meantime, I have a custom fit, molded silicon earplug to use during any water activity including showers.  I have a constant annoyance with my ear and hearing — mainly because it is different or not balanced with my right ear.  Occasionally I have a ringing but it never lasts more than about 20 minutes.

It is frustrating and I’ve learned a lot of sympathy for others with genuine long-term physical problems.

What else?  I turned 40, did a sprint triathlon for only the second time ever, registered for an Ironman in 2015 and have recommitted to good, clean eating for the month of July.  Starting today — at 191 pounds — I’m forgoing added sugars and grains for the next many weeks.  Likely as not, I’ll get some posts put together on each of these topics.



Something Old, Something New

Last weekend we went to a friend’s wedding.  As a result, I missed out on the all-important long ride of the week.  I didn’t use Sunday to “make up for it” but I did mix things up a bit by doing a ride of 2:10 with some relatively short intervals sprinkled in followed immediately by the long run of the week.  Running close to 10 miles off the bike was a real confidence booster as to the healthy and overall worthiness of my legs.  Was it fast enough or full of hills?  No.  But it was a good, solid, long and hot effort and a step in the right direction.

For whatever reason, this morning while commuting I remembered a trick that I tried for the first time during the Raleigh race two weeks ago.  I picked it up watching Rinny Carfrae on Kona last autumn.  During the run I took a cup of ice every few aid stations and dumped it unceremoniously down the front of my shorts.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Pain, shock, relief — these reactions all crossed my mind before the first time.  The objective is to do what you can without slowing down to keep your body temperature under control.  My guess is that unlike dumping ice in my shirt which falls out the bottom very quickly, stuffing ice in my mouth which makes it hard to breath, this technique puts the ice near the femoral artery yet doesn’t affect the running stride in any way.

It worked.  To my surprise, there wasn’t much of a physical reaction.  There was neither shock nor awe.  It didn’t hurt, or feel awful like a cold shower.  It was simply okay and then as the ice melted and cold water dripped down my legs, there was a bit of relief.  Going south of the waistband with any sort of shock — thermal or otherwise — is a risky proposition.  There are a lot of nerves and sensitive bits in the region.  Nonetheless, this is a technique that I can endorse for scorching hot days.

Track Night

Last night the workout was 3×1200 with 400 meters between each followed by 3×400 with 200 meters in between.

I still need to learn a lot about pacing.  My fitness is also not back to where it was in the winter.  But, I think my form is improving and that is something.  Hopefully it is something that helps ward off injury.

The splits/pace were 4:34/6:13, 4:52/6:29 and 5:07/6:52 for the 1200s.  There was typically about three minutes in between each one.  The splits/pace for the 400s were grouped a little closer at 1:36/6:25, 1:30/6:00 and 1:29/6:00.  There was typically about two minutes and 15 minutes between each of the 400s.  However, after the last one I took an additional two minute rest and then jumped in with the third group (I was running far in the back of group two) for their final 400 and turned in a 1:26.

In all, it was a soggy 6.78 miles (due to nearly 60 percent humidity) but a step in the right direction.


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