June 2016 Training Update

Back with another monthly training update. This time it's for May and heading into June 2016.

For those of you who have been supporting me over the last couple months I super appreciate it. There's nothing like knowing no matter which way I go I've got a group of great people at my back. 

Of course, some of you are comforting while others of you are more demanding in what I do. Honestly, I believe I need both! 

The Diagnosis Continues

In May I went back to the orthopedist and had an MRI arthrogram done. This is where they inject a contrast dye into my hip socket and then complete an MRI. This allows them to see the hip socket in full relief. In other words, if there is a tear or some other issue that is rendering the socket "un whole" the fluid will leak and it will show up on the scan.

The outcome of this test was the same as before: I have a clinically insignificant superior labral tear. 

So, what to do next? 

That's a really good question.

This is something I debated for some time as I wasn't really 100% sure what I should do. Thanks to the counsel of many of you, here is what I've decided.

(1) Three different tests have shown that I do not have a significant hip issue. 

(2) Significant physical therapy has shown that I have well documented imbalances that are affecting my ability to compete and train at a high level. 

(3) Without a specific diagnosis of a major issue, I have decided that doing the rehab is the best course of attack for me now. 

So I am all in with the rehab, with the understanding that the better I get with my flexibility in core the more my condition will approve. And it that doesn't work, or if it gets worse, then I have simply earned my way into a definite surgery.


All of this aside, I do because important but I'm 100% clear with everyone that I'm not out to set any world records. I have had an incredible run in our sport for the last 15 years. I have achieve things that I never thought I could possibly do. 

If you had told me 15 years ago that I will go to Kona seven times, or that I will Boston qualify, or break three hours for a marathon, or that I would win my Age Group, I would have laughed in your face. 

A tiny part of me still wants to. It just seems so ridiculous.

2016 coach Patrick just wants to be healthy. 

I'm looking to be more well-rounded (haha no pun intended). I want to be fit but I also want to have no pain. 

If I can create the conditions where I can be as active as I want and enjoy a dynamic lifestyle with my kids, then we will see about being competitive again. 

I have no higher-level incentive driving the me forward at this point in time.

As of this update I have completed six bike rides since February 14th 2016. I'm finally outside which is wonderful. 

I am still on the indoor treadmill and will be until early July when I begin a slow transition to "normal" running. I swim about three times a week and use it to keep myself same and as a complements to the core work that I'm doing. 

For now my top goal is to get fit enough to hang out with everyone coming to our race camps. 

I hope to have more information for you in the coming weeks with a full report on what it means to transition back to real running. 

Thanks again for all your support and I'll be in touch soon!

~ Patrick

May (Still Not Really Training) Update

Special thanks to everyone who's been so supportive for me as I continue on this journey of rehabilitation. 

I'll spare you the details but the latest version of the story is that I've had multiple people review my MRI. The outcome basically is that the labrum looks fine. There's no issues there, and structurally everything looks okay. The x-ray that I had also came back fine so I feel 95% confident that there's no issue there with the actual joint. 

That said, of course I still have discomfort and pain. 

The MRI did reveal that there is some mild tendonosis in the upper hamstrings while working on stretching that out. 

I am also on a pretty aggressive physical therapy program that has me currently on a slight return to exercise. You have seen the pictures of me on that special Alter G treadmill that allows me to run with reduced weight. (That's a good thing, because my weight trending upwards right now!) 

I'm creating a pretty hard-core core strength program to help get me back on track. I have also set a tentative date of July 1 as the time I get back to some form of normal exercise. 

For now I am swimming consistently, working on my technique, and also enjoying long walks pretending that it's running. For all of you reading out there, who are struggling with your health and wellness, keep it up! 

It’s the good fight. Whatever you do, make sure you have a good solid core and functional strength program that you can do to keep you healthy around…unlike your coach!

More info next month,

~ Coach P

April Training (Not Really) Update

Here we are in April and as I look out my window and stare at 5 inches of fresh snow on the ground, I have to admit that the part of me which was originally sad about not training is not THAT sad. 

As an update for everything that has happened over the past couple weeks I can sum it up with one simple word – frustration.

As I have navigated the process of learning more about what's going on with my hip I have simultaneously been trying to figure out our healthcare system. 

It's one thing to have a very simple injury that is specific and easy to identify. Creating an action plan around that is a no-brainer; many of you have probably even solved those kind of problems online. 

In my case, the hip pain is so non-specific that it's actually hard to pinpoint the true cause of the pain.

So here's where I'm at…

At the end of March I got a cortisone shot directly into the hip joint. The goal behind this strategy was to effectively numb him the joint, allowing us to determine whether or not the discomfort I was feeling was either internal or external to the joint. 

It is now been over a week since that shot and I still have pain. This is both a blessing and a curse. I now know that the joint is not the cause of my pain, but I'm still not any closer to figuring out what the actual source of the pain is.

The Ortho recommended I do physical therapy, but they can’t schedule me in for almost a month! Instead I have started physical therapy with my local team here at Foundation Performance (www.foundationperformance.com). Mike and his staff are world-class and will definitely help me get on the mend. 

In the meantime I still need to work with the Ortho to figure out what the issue is. I may well need a referral to get an MRA — that’s an MRI done with the dye injected into the hip which should hopefully show more detail as to what's happening.

In the meantime, I am just starting to get into a consistent swimming schedule. It's hard to tell if the swimming bothers my hips or not. But I can tell that it's clearly a critical part of keeping me sane!

Thanks to all of you for your continued support and advice as I navigate this complicated phase of my training life. I'm confident that there will be a good resolution at some point in time..however I'm not confident that it's going to happen any time soon!

Camp Update: I had a blast in Texas with the folks getting ready for the race. You can read the recaps here and here...and here

Race Update: For those of you who are asking, I did the defer my race entry from Ironman Texas to Ironman Mont Tremblant in August. It's wishful thinking that I'll be ready by then, but I do know that it's important for me to have a carrot out there as something to aim towards.

Life Update: For those of you who are asking about the status of our house things are on the mend. We are already building and hope to be halfway done with the project by the middle of April. It has been a trying time here at the McCrann household living in a rental house, but the support of our friends and the greater community has shown that what were dealing with is nothing to be truly concerned about. With friends, family, and our health we are truly blessed. 

I hope to come back to you next month with a better update as to where things are at.

Until then, happy training!

~ Patrick

February 2016 Training Update

Endurance Nation and Rev3

Hard to believe it’s already March 1st and time for another returning update. I know that February is a short month but really, this is ridiculous. So when I last left you in February I was transitioning to the OutSeason® with some intensity. The goals was to bring my higher-end fitness up from the aerobic run durability work I had completed...and get me ready before a bigger training block with more endurance work as I headed into Ironman® Texas.

As some of you know I've been struggling with my run and I've even been in run jail for a short while. Run Jail, for the uninitiated, is a period of time when you focus on other sports that don't involve impact. Typically this is cycling and swimming as you recover.

I was experiencing discomfort and pain in my left thigh and figured it was something like my quad (which is always tight), or perhaps my adductor. I did more physical therapy and reduced my running load, but when I returned to running the pain came back right away. Back to the therapist for a second for another diagnosis and we are fairly confident that I have some type of stress fracture in my femur.

Typically people get a stress fracture much lower in the kinetic chain, such as the tibia or fibula, before the femur. However in my case, I did have a bicycle accident in 2010 and where I cracked my acetabulum (aka pelvis). This means that most likely something is not quite right with the alignment which has predisposed me to injure my femur.

I have an MRI on March to fill picture of exactly was going on inside the hip area. Until then, I won't be able to make better judgment about the situation. Per my PT, I'm currently in two weeks of no exercise. Super challenging, from a mental perspective but it actually always works out okay.

Funny how, as a business owner, I always have more than enough work to fill my time. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I will make the most of this period of time to get healthier and stronger. I'll seek balance in other areas of my life that I've been pushing off for my triathlon pursuits.

I want to thank all of you for your continued support I certainly hope I have a much better update for you come the end of March!

January 2016 Training Update

Believe it or not, but it's time for another training update! 

January was a solid one for me. I don't really have trouble getting motivated so there were no specific resolutions or occasions that made me dive any deeper into my training. I was coming off of a solid December and was looking forward to integrating cycling on top of the running baseline that I had established. 

By all accounts the month was a success. I was able to continue running – and even run a similar pace as I had during my Run Durability block – for most of the month. The biggest thing that took a hit was my swim training. I was getting into the pool almost every day while I wasn't on the bike, but returning to all three disciplines meant reducing my overall training load in the water. 

One of my focus points for February will be to get that number back up again above 10,000 yards a week. 

January also included our annual pilgrimage to Clermont Florida. This is our January Volume Camp; a chance for our members to kick off their new year in style and boost their endurance with a quality training block in warmer climates. This was our second camp and there was another great group and the fantastic four days. We did lots of training and even were able to fit in some fun as well. You can view the whole recap online here. We will be back in 2017 for our third camp which promises to be even bigger and better. Click here to use our early bird discount to lock in your spot — your 2017 self will thank you!

If anything was wrong in January it was my hips. The return to cycling, specifically cycling with intensity, in retrospect looks to have been a little too aggressive. I have had mild pain when running and even some hip flexor pain now and then on the bike. 

I am hoping got some rest massage/physical therapy will help get me back on track. I am well ahead of where was this time last year so I am certainly not complaining. Heading into February will see me maintain the bike as I work to reintegrate the run. I will most likely fill most of the missing one hours of additional swimming just to make myself stronger.

Thankfully I don't have any camps this month, but the Texas race specific camp this coming up quickly in mid-March. You can learn more about this National Champs Camp online here.

Thanks for reading!

~ Coach P

December 2015 Training Recap and Update

Another month, another chance to recap my training. Those of you new to this series of posts, this is my attempt at keeping myself on track across the season. I'm doing this for myself as well as for others to show the importance of holding yourself accountable on a frequent basis. When I last updated you my focus was on kicking off the 2016 season. I set some lofty goals for myself that will require some significant work, you can read all about it here

So far, so good. Thanks to an incredibly mild winter through the end of December, I was able to stay consistent with my training despite transitioning down from Hawaii and dealing with the increased workload that comes was coaching in the OutSeason®.

My Swim Focus

One of my biggest lessons learned from the 2015 season was the impact of consistent, quality swimming on my race performance. I used to think of swimming as a discipline unto itself. I was looking for success within swim workouts and particularly within specific sets. That proved to be challenging for me simply because – as a not so great swimmer – progress is not linear for me in the pool. Some sessions are good, some sessions are bad. I honestly can't tell you why some are good and some are bad… They just are. But stepping back and looking at my season from a macro level, I was able to see where consistent swimming made me faster overall on race day regardless of the actual swim time that I had. My commitment was very simple, I was going to focus on swimming as much as possible in December and get some video work done. 

I'm pleased to say that I was able to get some video work done thanks to my good friend Peter Russo (www.r2tri.com) gave me some great feedback. Peter is not only a fast triathlete, he is an incredibly fast swimmer. Taking that feedback, I focused exclusively on technique and was able to swim almost 5 times a week during December. I'm fortunate in that I have multiple pools near me with options to swim during the day and my biggest obstacle was simply scheduling. I feel like I made some good progress in the pool in terms of defining my form as well as finding key areas where I was able to see improvement without a corresponding increase in effort/work. 

Of course it remains to be seen how much of that sticks because the holiday season is such a buzz kill for swimming. With pools closed, travel opportunities, and lots of yummy food, I have had a full two weeks off from the pool. January will be interesting to see how much, if anything, I have been able to retain.

Run Focus Block

My real early-season focus was on a run frequency block that would allow me to raise my chronic training load on the run up to levels that I normally only saw during my previous Ironman® race buildups. Much like the swim, I have found that consistent running is what allows me to be successful on race day. As I reviewed my 2015 season I had some solid performances, but I wasn't as fast as I had been in the past. When I went back to take a look at what those workouts were from previous years, the trend that I noticed was how consistently I ran from week to week. 

In 2015 I certainly ran well, but my runs were typically fewer in number and longer distance/time. Think four ten-mile runs to get 40 miles. There is a cost associated with that across the board, and I believe that that was reflected in my run times on race day. So my focus in December was to build a consistent running program that I could then ramp up to some solid numbers just before Christmas vacation week. I'm pleased to say that I was able to put in a great six week block that culminated in two big weeks: 55 miles in the first week, 60 miles in the second week. 

That may not sound like much, as many of you probably know runners who do those kind of weeks for "rest." But for a triathlete who last year averaged just over 30 miles a week, a 60 mile week is a massive increase. In terms of the actual data I was able to raise my running chronic training load to just below the peak values I saw in April 2015 for Ironman Texas. To give you perspective, it took me five months to raise my run to those levels last year and I did it this year in six weeks. Now the hard work begins in terms of consistently running to keep that training load high for the next two months as my focus in training begins to shift. With the cold weather officially here, it will be interesting to see how successful I can be in this endeavor!

Preparing for the January Volume Camp

I enjoyed a great holiday trip with my family and friends. It was a relaxing week where I stayed active but really had no serious exercise goals aside chasing a few Strava KOMs. Now as I return to proper training in January, I have the January Volume Camp in Clermont, Florida (online here). This is our second annual trip to the warmer weather down south where we can put in some critical swim bike and run volume as a boost for the remainder of our year. 

This type of training is an integral part to how I manage my trick my fitness across a year. I don't have the bandwidth or ability to sustain high levels of training volume across a year. I have no idea how elite age groupers and pro-triathletes alike can put in 25 to 40 hours a week of training consistently. Anything north of 18 hours for me given my life and work demands is completely unsustainable. So I use these shorter camps as an opportunity to raise my fitness levels. 

Of course I'm coming off of a period of time when I really didn't ride my bike at all after Hawaii! I literally did three bike rides between October in January 1st, so now I am on the bike on a daily basis just putting in some time trying to get my legs ready for the long rides at camp. I'm excited to see my teammates and myself in short sleeves and shorts outside on a bike. :-) More importantly I look forward to using this as an opportunity to really get back into my training groove. 

When I return home I will have a six-week block which covers the second half of January and the first part of February. I will be doing higher intensity workouts very similar to our out season training plans. This'll be my final high-intensity push before I transitioned into a more traditional race preparation phase as I build towards Ironman Texas 2016. Thanks so much for reading my update, I'd love to hear from you as well in the comments or online via twitter: www.twitter.com/pmccrann. 

Thanks, and good luck this month!

Coach Patrick’s October Recap / November Planning

I spent the better part of October not training. I have to be honest and say that this is my favorite time of the year. :-) I am adamant about taking two weeks off from total exercise at the end of every season. It's all too easy to get back into training when my body is not ready; I consider this the price I pay for being active the other 50 weeks of the year.

Not all was lost however, as I continue to remain focused on my food and I was very active in my regular scheduled life. The sheer amount of house projects I have postponed have made for a fantastic transition training plan!!!

I also used this time to lay out a tentative plan for the 2016 season. This is a large part of why I enjoy this time of year: nothing motivates me like setting big goals in trying to figure out how to achieve them.

In 2016 I will be racing both Texas and Chattanooga. I chose Texas because I'm looking for a fast race, Chattanooga because it's a Team event. you're nicely into two parts that will give me plenty of opportunity to both train up but also recover between events.

The goal is a pretty audacious one – I am targeting the nine-hour barrier.

I have to be honest and say that it's hard for me even to look at that sentence on my screen. It's an incredible leap from where I am now, but certainly within reach. I have to be honest with myself – I have one or two more years of peak endurance performance before the tide begins to shift!

I feel like the past two years has seen a solid progression in both my fitness and my ability to execute. I have had two sub 9:30 minute races in Texas and a low 9:30 at Tremblant; my bike splits are consistently under five hours regardless of the course.

The biggest confidence booster however, is my most recent performance in Hawaii. I really feel like that race represents the pinnacle of my ability to plan – and execute! – a solid race.

All of that said, aiming for nine hours means making some significant changes to my program.

Most of all I need to get back on the swim train. I really need to have this close to one hour swim as possible. This will be challenging in Texas because it is a non-wetsuit legal swim; definitely attainable in Chattanooga given the currents of the river. Regardless, you will definitely see me swimming a lot more if you follow me on Strava!!!

The bike will be what it is. I will continue to work towards being able to hold closer to .74 versus .7 on race day. At Texas this “should” net me a 4:36 bike; in Chattanooga my time is predicted to be closer to 4:50 (this is where a faster swim time will help!).

Either way, the magic has to happen on the run. I am very pleased with my body composition work for the season. I'm going to do my best to maintain that heading into 2016. My run execution has been good, but not great. I have run a 3:15 in Texas before so there's hope for a faster run if I can speed up my transitions and stay cool while keeping the effort up. Chattanooga will be another story altogether, the run course there is LEGIT. I have run a 3:18 at Lake Placid, so I know I have the ability to run fast in the hills. Now we just have to see if it's possible on race day.

But enough of playing the time game. What am I actually doing?

My early-season focus has been exclusively on the run. I will be building up for approximately 10 weeks, my goal is to have two big run weeks north of 60 miles. I am also spending some good time in the pool. It's hard not to be on my bike right now, especially given the beautiful fall weather. But I have a much greater incentive to improve my runs and swim times… So I need to invest my time wisely.

I will transition from this one focus to a six-week high intensity block very similar to the else is to get rejuvenated. Then it's on to a more traditional Ironman training program into Texas. Along the way I will be doing my usual training events: the January volume camp in Clermont, Florida (slots still open, join me here) as well as some form of training weekend in Texas (mid-March). Of course, there will be the annual pilgrimage to North Carolina for our Blue Ridge Cycling Camp (waitlist open, info and sign up here).

Thanks for reading, and as always thanks for your continued support and daily motivation. I am going to need your expertise and advice more than ever as I embark on this journey.

Let's Crush 2016 Together!!!

~ Coach P

June Training Update (Hawaii Block 1)

A Transitional Month

What started off as a return to training plan, with lots of really good intent, quickly devolved into a month of just fun. As you can see from the photos above, I had a lot of catching up to do with the family, and with summer here there are no more excuses! Outside of the Lake Placid Training Camp in mid-June (an annual tradition!), it was a month focused on a few key areas. Training totals from Strava weren't very exciting:

  1. Swim - 11 total times.
  2. Bike - 15 total rides.
  3. Run - 19 total runs.

The Swim 

My focus for June was on technique. I know I need to swim better overall, and usually my swim training is just time in the water. More of an aerobic building exercise than a "How can I get faster?" exercise. I did some reading, and thinking and video seeking. I am a very visual learner, so I really enjoy cruising YouTube to find some quality stuff to watch.

  1. Super relaxed swimming with fixed head position: Jono Van Hazel
  2. Swimming with higher legs: Funny, but good instruction.
  3. Cross Over Kick: Reading, not watching.

I have been working on a relaxed stroke with better kick timing. A full stroke with my finish coming through my hip. Interestingly, my 100 times are easily sub 1:25 with this approach, where just working on faster turnover / cadence had me practically exhausted without the speed. I plan on continuing this focus as I build endurance. 

The Bike

I have been on my road bike all month and have really been loving it. Not a great machine for the longer rides, but in general I have kept things as short as I could. Many 30 mile / 1 hour 20 minute efforts. I also kicked off a concerted effort to ride as much Always Be Pushing / Zone 3 effort as possible. 

The result has been a consistent stretch of rides all over 300 watts Normalized Power, usually over 22 mph on my road bike.  Super excited about this, as it's been great to watch even though I spend most rides wanting to throw up. 

There was a volume pop at the Placid camp where I actually set some PBs on my road bike (not tri!), but it was tough riding the road bike for that long!

I am looking forward to returning to my P5 and getting some good aero time. 

The Run

Similar to the bike, I have been pushing the runs. Most of them have been sub-6:40 pace, with two 10 mile efforts at 6:32 and 6:34 pace as well. The running has been awesome; like the bike there's a sweet pace that's easy to fall into...even though it hurts like I am in a human vice. It's been fun to push, but the overall mileage has been pretty low, so I will need to begin to work on building that back up. 

The Cost of Intensity

My left knee has been feeling it...I guess if you never stop putting torque on the pedals your body is going to push back. It's nothing too serious, but I need to back off to allow it to heal and give myself time to recover between the super quality sessions. I believe it's Patellafemoral Syndrome, so lots of work on my hips and dorsiflexion as I hammer on that quad with self care. 

Next Steps

As I head into July, I plan to get back to a more basic schedule. Similar to my typical training build but not all in with the work. I am still getting back to the volume but I have to exit the short/intense training period that I just finished up. My goals are straightforward:

  • Continue working the swim, getting in 4 sessions a week. 
  • Get back on the TT bike and continue to push the rides fairly hard...no serious volume this time outside of the week I will be in Lake Placid to support the Team and give our free Four Keys Race Execution talk.
  • I will get back to 4 solid runs a week and build up to sitting on 30 miles a week...the intensity will have to drop a bit b/c of the volume (and summer heat) but I will see what I can do to keep some quality in there. 

 Thanks for reading and for all of your support!

Mapping Out the Rest of 2015 to Ironman Hawaii (A Rough Outline)

Kona 2015 Planning

Time to start practicing what I preach; I hope you find these notes useful for your training!  You can only have the race you prepare for, and preparation starts with a plan and some critical targets -- it's how we work inside Endurance Nation and it's how I plan each phase of my training. I simply don't do well without goals! 

The Rough Outline

Goal is to have a truly complete race. This is the first time I will be on the island to acclimate to the conditions (usually arrive just 2-3 days prior), so excited to see what that brings. Plus the family gets to go, and that’s what it’s all about. 

Experience has shown me that the run really matters in Kona…a good bike is nice but the run is where it’s at. I have done all kinds of bikes there, but my runs have always been sub-par. Much of this comes down to better execution, but that’s not something I need to focus on right now (although I am pumped to try the new aid station methodology you all helped me with and worked for me in TX). 

For my training I will start with run durability and return to the split long runs that have helped me in the past. I will continue to push the steady work as it’s good for me, but I will be incorporating some more run strides as I feel my overall form has fallen off a bit. The broader goal will be to prepare for a bigger run block in September heading in to the final weeks pre Kona. I was about 40 miles per week before TX and I’d like to be at 45 per week for HI including a peak week of 50 miles. 

To set up the run I will need excellent bike execution and swim fitness.  

First and foremost is the swim so I am in a better group. I typically swim a 1:10 which isn’t terrible there but it does put me in a big bike group (non-swimmers who seek revenge on the bike).  Without a doubt the biggest improvement I could possibly have is on the swim. Kona is a one-loop, non-wetsuit ocean swim with a mass start. Not only do I not swim well with others, but the ocean and non-wetsuit set up hurt me as well. I basically have 18 weeks to develop a solid open water swim stroke. I plan on revisiting Mike Robert’s swim thread to plan something out…in fact I might put him to work helping me out. :)

I have learned tons on the bike, and I think I can have a really good split out there (bike wise) with a couple of key changes as I continue to improve riding steady and managing my nutrition.  I think a critical aspect this year will be developing the ability to ride at 85% for key sections of a longer ride, and still recover. On the Kona course there is the climb to Hawi, the climb back to the Queen K, and then the Scenic Overlook…all three of these climbs are sustained and required a good effort (not too hard) but one that I can sustain. 

My real focus is on Hawi, and in particular being able to stay on the watts both up and down (this seems to separate most of the race). All in this is 14 miles…7 up and 7 down; call it about 45 minutes of solid work to be safe. I will be working this into my “HI Block 2” bike rides from the 1:45 to 2:30 marks. I also need to decide what to do with my gearing. I currently have a 54/42 on the front with an 11-28 in the rear….I can fly on the downs / flats and in the tailwind…but with the few critical climbs it might be nice to have an easier gear to spin with…not sure If I should go to a smaller front ring in general or just mess with the rear cluster. I kind of am used to the rear…but not sure I can mess with the QXL rings either…any input here welcome. 

HI Block 1 (June, 5 wks) = Run durability, Bike FTP, and Swim Re-Entry. Total volume per week will be approximately 12.25 hours outside of one bigger week at Placid Camp.

HI Block 2 (July, 4 wks) = Swim Volume / Focus (5x a week), Run 4x week @ 10miles per usual, Return to TriBike. Add Hawi Bike Focus to my longer rides, but long ride is still just 3 hours so I can keep intensity up (other than the volume of Placid week). Weekly volume will be about 16 hours a week.

HI Block 3 = (August, 4 wks) = Good time to train in the heat here in RI, so make the most of it. Swim sets will move to being slightly longer (hopefully I’ll be in a place to sustain it). My split runs will be consolidated into a few long runs and my long weekly bike ride of 5 hours returns. Weekly volume will remain about 16 hours a week as the time spent swimming will shift to the bike.

HI Block 4 (September to Race, 6 wks) = Total Tri Focus. Brick run it out. Longer swim sets. Consider a heat camp in Florida if stars align with family schedule. These will include some of my peak weeks. I estimate a few 20 hour weeks assuming I can recover enough. I rarely have this window for Kona training as I am usually coming off a July / August race and it’s more about getting my legs back vs building fitness. I am both excited and scared about these weeks. 

2015 Ironman Texas Race Report

9:29:46 on a Wicked Windy and Hot Day...and headed back to Kona, baby!

For the speed readers, the full report is below. For the rest of you this was my 21st Ironman and I went 9:29:xx, good enough for 36th overall...26th male...5th age grouper...and 2nd in the M40-44 age group. My swim was baaaad. The bike was almost perfect and the run was a sufferfest...but my ticket is punched -- Kona #7, here I come!

The Build Up

Winter 2015 simply sucked. I wasn't able to ride outside in my town until mid-April...about. 5 weeks pre-race.  I did have a full winter of quality running and a modified OutSeason (see below), plus camps in Florida in January (January Volume Camp), a shortened Texas Camp and the Blue Ridge Cycling Camp (here) which all afforded me some good bike volume.

 Winter Long Running in Rhode Island

The Winter Training

I decided to keep my run pace pretty high at the outset of my training -- think just slower than Z3 / Half Marathon Pace and then add the bike/run workouts of the OutSeason in to the point where I could still run that quality tempo pace. I wanted to do this as the bike is my current strength and I wanted to target the run with more quality.

Well after one week of training and real winter weather I realized that things had to change. First, I couldn't run intervals in the snow (no treadmill for me thanks!) and second, increasing the bike interval duration each week really hurt my run.

So I settled on a "fixed" week of bike intervals -- Tuesday was 2x12' @ Z4, Thursday was 4x4' @ 110% FTP / Z5 and Saturday was 2x12' @ Z4 again. This allowed me to push the effort of the intervals up each week since the duration was fixed. I could also easily tell when I was tired as the numbers would drop.

I ran 60' to 70' at the sub-Z3 pace on both Wednesday and Sunday and then a few shorter runs during the week when possible. Monday and Friday were 2500y swim sessions.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the results. My run quality was pretty high -- not my fastest running but a lot of quality. My bike was super strong and my swim had been fairly consistent.

The Race Prep Training

Race Prep started right around mid-February. With about 10 weeks to go, I decided to use a modified version of the EN*Full Minimalist Plan as I knew I couldn't do 2 long rides a week with the weather (as we usually do) and I wanted to maintain my run.

Race Prep Phase One

This meant more Tempo (no real run intervals), more swimming and a three solid bikes. A HUGE shout out to the TriFit Lab (run by Todd and Lisbeth Kenyon of TTBikeFit fame -- www.ttbikefit.com) as I used their indoor CompuTrainer facility for a few loooooooooooong rides.

Race Prep Phase Two

After 4 weeks I transitioned to better weather and a "consolidated" long run, which you can see reflected in the schedule above.

Swim Training

This was about the time that Mike Roberts had posted on his year-long swim hack for IMNZ and how he dialed in his swim.  I read, learned, and did my best over the final 10-ish weeks to implement the knowledge. I was pleased with my swim progress in the pool but am bummed it didn't play out on the race. Regardless, I have a few more months to continue making progress!

Bike Training

Aside from some technical issues getting my TT bike back into workout shape , the transition from my road bike to the Tri bike at the end of the OutSeason was pretty uneventful. The indoor sessions made me mentally tough and the other sessions were short enough I could still get in some good intervals.

Given the long rides were indoors they were more at IM Race Pace / Z2 as I couldn't really ride sustained Z3 inside. I was happy when the weather turned so I could go back outside! Overall the numbers were good, combined with the Blue Ridge Camp work I did (back on the road bike) I had a high degree of confidence.

Run Training

While my "Tempo" pace fell from 6:30s to 6:45s as the training load increased, I was still pleased with my run. Durability was high and all my sessions were solid. I felt like another 3:15 here in TX was possible for sure. An unintended benefit of the running, I believe, was really good body composition. And I have to say I am a real fan of the Split Long Run to ramp up run volume safely.

Race Week

This is always fun! We had a smaller crew as this wasn't a "Key Race" for 2015, but what to we lacked in size we made up in AWESOME! Our Team Dinner was delish and filled with some great laughs. Mariah made the Four Keys Talk a success -- thanks to all who attended! -- and was my pre-race Sherpa. My amazing wife Maura arrived on Thursday just in time to keep me sane and help me get mentally ready.

Race Morning

Super simple using my checklists. The bike is all set, fueled and powered up. Shoes on the bike with a little rubber band trick for the left one so I can mount quickly. T2 and T1 bags are untied and prepped for the race. A quick drive to the swim start has me on the ground an hour before with plenty of time to do everything and make sure I am ready. A quick kiss to Maura and it's time the swim start!!

The Swim

The Swim -- 1:10:xx, 50th AG.

The swim was a rolling wave start -- like your local half marathon. Folks self seeded and when the gun went off we waded in and started swimming. No warm ups allowed. It was wetsuit optional, so those folks were in the back.

It was crowded at the start, and while I planned to to inside the buoys I saw the course curved right and so I headed for the final buoy. This meant solo swimming vs in the pack -- breaking my swim plan instantly.

And honestly it was really hard to tell if I was swimming well without the feedback of a clock. I feel like my swim has improved, but that my open water swim game sucks. I really need to solidify my stroke and get better at swimming with others for sure.

That said, aside from the top swimmers, times seemed slow. The water felt surprisingly choppy / angry for a lake; I think we all just sloshed it up. The canal, for the last 1300 just sucks. No two ways about it. It was really hard to maintain any good swim stroke in here.

 Leaving T1


I executed this perfectly. Removed the swim skin just out of the water; got my bag put on my helmet and walked top right thru the tent. Gave a volunteer my bag and cap, etc, and then used the GoBag to fill my pockets while I got sunscreened and sloshed to my bike.

Sloshed you say? Oh yes. Daily downpours had tuned the transition area into a Woodstock worthy experience...complete with the smell of raw sewage. Not awesome. Since my shoes were on the bike, however, I just rolled out and got on the bike.

The Bike -- 4:44:xx, 2nd AG

After 2012's sub-5 ride I knew I could really fly here. I had the bike dialed in, complete with race tires and latex tubes, and I was ready to rock. My goals were to ride about 245 Watts and to be strongest when it mattered in miles 60 to 80 -- the usual headwind area (plus some chip seal).

The start was crowded, given my swim time. I was in that place where every guy is riding like they might win....surging, swerving, cursing, etc. I tried to just stay in my mental box and get my fluids in while trying to get my HR down below 130.

I could tell by Mile 20 that things were going to be funky. That's a flat slightly downhill section where I was going to skip an aid station as I'd be going 28mph there. Except I was in a group fighting wind!!! Aargh!

Skipping the aid station and the surprise wind turned out to be a good thing, however, as it gave me the momentum to create a gap and leave those other guys behind. As a result of this group stuff, my power was all over -- I resolved to keep my HR in check around 130 to 132.

With the wind picking up I knew the return trip would be much harder, so I played it safe on the rollers, sitting up and spinning. Sure enough, at the highest point on the course, the winds were screaming. But I just put my head down and kept the pressure on the pedals. There was really no one for me to work with legally on the bike; from mile 65 onwards it was really a solo TT effort.

The wind wasn't terrible on the chip seal as it was a cross-head, but that only meant there would be wind all the way into the woodlands...which is why everyone's last split on the bike just stinks.  I focused on getting wet to stay cool and drinking up. It was overcast for almost the entire bike, but the heat was evident when the sun poked though and the humidity was in full effect.

By the time the bike wrapped I was feeling pretty solid about my placing on the day and physically as well.

Here is the data from Strava:

Ironman Texas Bike Data


Reverse slopfest here, and I struggled with my T2 bag as I left it tied b/c of the afternoon showers that were forecast (but never showed up). I tried to maximize my time in transition by peeing as I sat down putting on my shoes — it kept my feet try but I was a hot stinking mess for sure. Out the door with my GoBag, I finished my admin items as volunteers put sunscreen on my back and it was time to run.

The Run — 3:26:xx, 2nd AG

I made a few changes here to my usual set up. First I didn’t take my FuelBelt with me as I was trying to reduce all weight. Instead, I used a FuelBelt SuperStretch Race with a pouch, gel loops and race number toggles. All in one baby!  I also upgraded my trucker hat to a Zoot Ultra Icefil Cap, with the flaps secured around my neck with an arm cooler. I blatantly copied Ben Hoffman’s race set up for Ironman Hawaii last year, and it turned out to be total money.

Without a doubt, however, the biggest upgrade was once again due to the Team….Dave Tallo’s suggestion to take a ziplock bag for carrying ice was killer. This was part of my “run the aid stations” strategy — which I think was a massive success for 2/3 of the race!! — and it really help offset the heat and manage random aid station placements where things really got hot. I simply dumped ice in it as I ran. Then I sealed it and stuck in my top….or I could hold in my hand(s)…if my head got hot, I turned it upside down as I held the ice in a ball and the cold water fell on my head…and I could chomp ice or put in my arm coolers whenever I wanted. It. Was. Awesome!

I set out knowing my bike Average HR was 131…so my run target of 140 seemed right on. However I could tell within the first 1/2 mile that it was going to be a friggin tough run. The sun was out in full force and the heat was on. Legit, Kona-style heat. My HR popped right up over 140 and I had to really slow myself down as I found my legs.

I focused on nailing the aid stations per my plan and getting in the food and salt I needed. I took in 2 caffeinated gels in the first 1/2 marathon, as wells 3 tiny Clif Bloks (Margherita with 3x sodium, of course!) as well as plenty of Gatorade Endurance.

I was passed round Mile 3 by the eventual winner of my age group, and he looked super strong and smooth. No way I was moving my HR anywhere, so I continued trucking. Even though I didn’t feel like I was running well (no peeking at the mile splits, thank you!), I was passing 90% of folks. I think maybe 15 people passed me all day and I caught all but 4 of them by Mile 25.

The fan support was incredible; from the Moxie music-fest to the Crotch Catapult station to the bearded-garbage can bangers…and the normal people were great too. I really never said anything to anyone…I was just trying to stay in my zone. My stomach felt pretty good after some colorful bike burps, but I could tell my calves were borderline in terms of wanted to cramp. At about Mile 8 (of that 8.55-mile loop) there were two sets of stairs DOWN…which I nearly killed myself on as my quads were so tight. I oped to walk these on Lap Two (Lap Three you headed to the finish instead).

Lap Two was purgatory. You can see from my HRM file that I backed off a bit here. Reflecting with race friend and fellow coach Tim Snow of QT2 Multisport Systems, I think that this was really due to a lack of mental toughness. I visualized the final 4 miles, but neglected the middle…not next time.

I was basically biding my time to the third lap. On lap three I started to pull things back together and run the tangents. By this time the course was wicked crowded and it was hard to get what I needed at the aid stations without actually stopping as there were just too many other athletes in the way. Note to self, I need to yell at volunteers more for what I want.

By Mile 22 it was game on and I was running down the last two guys I could see who had passed me. Some solid work here, even if it’s not reflected in the pace. Then at Mile 24 turnaround I could see that there was at least one person close to me in bib numbers…I was about to get a banana for tingly fingers, but instead I had to suck it up. I really picked up the pace and I was surprised to see how good it felt to stretch out my stride and really run. The HR went up, for sure, but there is something here for me to learn from really running vs getting buried in a shuffle. I really pushed, running a 7:24 and 7:04 final two miles, making sure I was in the finishing chute by myself and safe from getting pipped at the line. Always good to finish strong.

Here is the data from Strava:

Ironman Texas Run File

Number One Fan

The Finish

I had enough time for a massive smile and the EN-gang sign.

It was great to be caught by teammate and good friend Vic Kaiser, who shepherded me to my wife and the finish area for much needed cold water, cooling towel and a massage. Interesting enough there were no chairs or table for athletes to sit at…that really stung as folks were left to sit on the concrete or go off in the bushes. Can’t imagine that’s a big line item that can’t be added back in.

I was able to see many of my teammates in the finishing area, and we also were able to meet up at The Goose’s Acre for some post race food and drink. A burger never tasted so good. After getting home and trying to sleep, Sunday brought the awards banquet and Kona slot allocation. It was a nice wrap to the weekend and a good chance to say hi to the folks I met on the run course. A lot of really tough and fit men and women out there. I took my slot to Hawaii, making this my seventh trip in my last seven tries. I am excited to rest, and plan our Hawaii Race Week Camp (for racers and just folks who want to train and experience the biggest week in our sport!).

2nd Place Age Group and Kona Bound

Massive Thanks

As always, to my understanding and amazing wife Maura for lifting me up more than she’ll ever know. To my daughters who inspire me and love me no matter how sweaty and tired I am. To my training partners Lisbeth (who also raced, won her Age Group and is headed to Hawaii!, Peter and Todd who push me when we connect. To my mentor, Vinu Malik whose wisdom on all things endurance could fill several encyclopedias..thank you for all your advice.  To my teammates on Endurance Nation who continue to push me athletically to be my best, you never cease to amaze me with you new perspectives, tips and strategies…that run was dedicated to you! If I forgot anyone else, please know I am sooooo thankful….and thanks for reading!

Random Lessons Learned

* Shoes on the bike is a gajillion times better than in a T1 bag; I hope IM continues this trend at other races.

* The best thing for your chafed parts post race is chamois cream. Who needs bike shorts for permission?

* Be ready for a scary post race pee if you have been beet juice loading.

* Chocolate milk is NOT a sponsor / at the finish line this year. BUMMER.

* Someone needs to make an “aid station volunteer” video manual that folks can watch. Simple things like how to hold bike bottles or two cups in one hand would make a massive difference.

* Yelling what you need at run aid stations really does help.