Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

Category: Humor

Melanie McQuaid says…

Update: McQuaid’s original blog post is at her site here. Check it out. She has a great photo at the top of the post where she is riding hard with water splashing all over.

Dana found the following quotes from the third place pro woman at Ironman Raleigh 70.3. It made me chuckle. It doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow, new or experienced, the challenge of covering 70 miles under your own power is hard. Damn hard.

My race on Sunday was pretty darn good. First off, lets discuss how hard Ironman is for a second. It was horribly humid and you need to keep moving for hours and hours. I recognize it could have been hotter and the bike portion of the race was somewhat cool due to cloud cover but by the time we got to that bear of a run it was stinkin hot.

Out onto the run I was expecting something resembling the course profile. Notsomuch. Here are some of my thoughts: Where the heck did all these mountains over by the art gallery come from? Who turned up the heat? Why is the whole way on the way out totally uphill when the profile says it is flat? The run was really really hard. When most of the pro men are in the 1:20s range you know it is hard. I was spending the entire run trying not to do my classic southeastern chicken dance instead of finishing. I walked aid stations, took 4 cups of ice cubes and generally went into meltdown protection mode.

I saw none of the beauty on the run course since I was blind with suffering but the bike was incredibly awesome. So green, best roads in the world, most fans on the side of the road ever, best aid stations ever, most interesting point to point journey, you name it this race is awesome. I loved it. Want to come back.


Markus Rogan, I Want to Party With You

No explanation needed on why this is one of the best interviews/compilations of a world class swimmer, ever.

He covers sex, a little swimming humor at the expense of sprinters, does imitations, talks about his love of his body in an inoffensive way and ribs his friend László Cseh.  He also compares Phelps and Lochte calling the latter the Paris Hilton of swimming.

He is obviously not too self-serious and quite funny.


My favorite sign from the IMLP racecourse: Shut Up Legs.  Around mile 22-23 of the run.

The funniest sign that I saw, just before the three bears (named climbs in the last 12-15 miles of the bike course): Goldilocks Is A Pussy.

Signs that all of the various triathlon and Ironman stuff is wearing thin: Last night Dana commented that the stubble on my legs was irritating in bed; my cycling shoes have been banished from the house for good.  One too many pee breaks just could not be rinsed out.

Signs that all of this triathlon and Ironman stuff might be able to sustain for another year are also found around here.

Cupcakes to Celebrate

My family threw a surprise party with two dozen friends, co-workers, neighbors and fellow bike geeks. I was speechless.

A Window (Into Training or Simply Life)

Last night I forgot to start the dishwasher.  Not that big a deal but it does make it difficult to prepare breakfast for the kids in the morning without bowls.

This morning it was dark.  I was clumsy.

As I stood at the kitchen sink trying to figure out what to do, there was a single room lit in the house and I was focused on the bowls.  I stared out the window annoyed about the dishes and noticed that the townhouse across the way wasn’t quite right.  It looked odd.  I couldn’t figure out why.

I must have stared for ten or twenty seconds before I focused on the upstairs window that is sometimes lit, sometimes dark, but always empty.  There was a person in it and she was staring back at me from the shower.

Uh, hello neighbor.  Thank goodness you are short.  Sorry.

Ninety minutes later, the kids were fed, clothed and off to school.  Dana and I had discussed some news from yesterday, a babysitter for two weeks from now and the logistics of the family van for this weekend’s activities.  So I left for work on my trusty Marin commuter bike.  But, something wasn’t quite right.  Something felt odd.  There was a seam in the wrong place.

I must have rode for ten or twenty minutes before it came into focus.  My shorts were on inside out.

Another half an hour passed and I’ve showered and partially dressed.  Yep, you guessed it.  Something wasn’t quite right.  I looked around the locker room and oddly, couldn’t find my pants.  I had left them upstairs in my office.  I had shoes, tie, belt, socks and a pile of wet commuting clothes but no pants.

All of this to say, heaven help me once the actual Ironman training begins and I have good reason to be tired.  The 30 week program starts in 20 days.  In the meantime, I’ll try to get myself figured out and to my next appointment.


Recently a wise woman told me that I’m overthinking this whole Ironman thing.  I could go cover the 140 miles tomorrow if need be.  It would be grueling and the recovery would take a longer than otherwise necessary, but it could be done.

What to eat, how fast to train, how much to train, when to worry and when to just go with it all can become consuming.  There is no wonder that there are jokes in the triathlon community about OCD.

Unfair, of course, to people who truly suffer from anxiety disorders.  But, there is some kernel of truth.  As she said, it is just one foot in front of the other.  It is not complicated.  I love to swim.  Once you’ve learned, riding a bike is as easy as, well, riding a bike.  People have been running since there have been people and large predators.  It is one foot in front of the other.

That is what I did today.  I ran without thinking about pace.  I ran without concern about distance.  I ran without thinking about what I had most recently eaten or how long it had been.  I found the biggest hills I could and put one foot in front of the other.

I did run for an hour with an eye on my heart rate.  One of the key time management tools from Fink’s Iron Fit is to train by time, not by miles or pace.  Run for an hour, run for 75 minutes don’t run a string of 8-minute miles.  He, like so many others, is also an advocate of training by heart rate zones.

Training with my heart rate is not new or uncomfortable.  I’ve been doing it for more than two decades.  However, after having learned a bit more about zone training for endurance events, I realize that I’ve never trained this way before.  My typical experience has been to do a lot of workouts with half of the work in zone three and another 40 percent of the work in zones four or five.  It stands to reason, training for 100-200 yards of swimming should be different than a race that will take hours.  The big lesson for endurance events, when in doubt train in zone two.

As a result, as I ran all I could think about was slowing down, breathing more deeply and any other trick that came to mind that might lower my heart rate.  It felt so slow.  It was mentally taxing.  It was awkward; it was like eating right after an extended appointment with the dentist.  Weird.  By the time I finished and checked the numbers, my heart averaged 143 beats per minute or a full 12 beats per minute lower than a typical run.

It’s time to trust the expert coaches, the people who have done this before and trust my heart a little more than my head.

Meditations on What a Bear Does in the Woods

Last night we selected Blueberries for Sal as one of the books before bedtime.  It is a lovely story by Robert McCloskey and it features Little Sal picking blueberries with her mother while Little Bear munches the same with Mama Bear.

As these things go around our house, I tried to explain hyperphagia and its role to help bears prepare for hibernation.  As these things go, it didn’t take long for the difficult question to come.  It always does; I just never know from which quarter it will be lodged.

Q. “How do bears poop.”

A. “Just like all the other animals.  How do you think bears poop?”

Q.  “No, no.  How do they poop when they hibernate?  Where does all the food go.”

A.  Helpfully offered by a sibling.  “Easy.  They poop when they sleep.  They wear pullups.”

It is not poetry, but to paraphrase Mario Cuomo, parenting is done in prose.  I was still thinking about Sal’s tin of berries and a warm, cozy cave for hibernation once everyone went to bed.  I had eaten dinner and knew that after I went downstairs to ride, some sort of post-workout snack would be necessary before I could retire comfortably to my own warm, cozy bed.

I’m in the second week of a 16 week winter training program to improve cycling fitness.  My legs are heavy and even a bit sore.  I ran Sunday and again yesterday morning on top of last week’s riding.  As a result, I couldn’t get out of my mind a phrase that I read earlier this week, Eat That Pain.  There was the soreness, I’ve been hungry all day and, of course, our conversation about Little Bear.

Eat That Pain.  I get the idea.  Chew it up.  Make it your own.  It’s a latter day triathlon version of the old movie trope about warriors who cannibalize their opponents.  But it doesn’t sit quite right.  The race isn’t the opponent and neither are the byproducts of the race — including the pain.  Neither is pain the fuel for the race.  I certainly don’t want something so negative to be fuel for my body.

I don’t want to consume the burn so much as combine it with other elements of the journey — the planning, the endorphins, the joy.  I want to draw out all the sustenance that the pain has to offer and then unceremoniously expel the bits — the negative, waste bits — that remain.

Others can eat the pain, like Little Bear, I’ll stick with the blueberries.

Just a little humor goes a long way…

What we all need to hear, via Triathlete Magazine.  I especially appreciate 2, 4, 7 and 10.