Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Make The Days Count

AM: 1 hr trainer ride (w/3x8' at 100-110% FTP)
PM: Easy 4.5 mile run

Running through the snow today, I thought back to that warm July evening in Lake Placid.  Sitting with my friends on the steep hill overlooking the Oval, listening to Mike Riley announce the finishers.  I've got to think that the Ironman finish line is one of the sweetest places on Earth (at least to the like minded individuals who swim, bike, and run countless hours).  It's the place where dreams come true.

Or is it?

Rather, perhaps it's the days along the way when the dreams come true.  You know, the "it's the journey, not the destination".  So instead of counting the days...we need to make the days count.  If what you're doing isn't making you, or the world better, don't do it.

I'm an Ironman rookie.  I don't know squat.  I'm going to do stupid things along the way.  Luckily, my training partners will help keep me on the right track, and I them.  I've boiled the 6 months ahead of me into the following categories for a successful July 28th race.


  1. Swim/Bike/Run
  2. Nutrition (race day)
  3. Nutrition (diet)
  4. Strength
  5. Mental Outlook
  6. Keeping My Family Happy
1. Swim/Bike/Run:  In many ways, this is the easiest of the bunch.  Consistency is the key.  The important workouts every week take priority.  Put the time in, and stay healthy.  It sounds so easy.  My philosophy took a while to develop, but it was molded greatly by the Endurance Nation approach and Joe Friel (notably his book Going Long written with Gordo).  Simply put: work works.

2. Race Day Nutrition: I don't want any surprises on July 28th.  I want my body to know exactly what's going in...and when it's going in.  So I've been training using exactly what I want to do on race.  Tweeking along the way as necessary.  

3. Diet: I've done a small overhaul on my daily nutrition.  You could say I'm partially plant powered now.  I've committed to the Super Foods after watching Food Matters and countless conversations with my training partners about guys like Rich Roll (my friend Pat Egan's hero).  One of my guiding principles has been:  If you have to open a package to eat it, don't eat it.  (I have exceptions to this rule, namely Clif Bars, and other things like PB, bread, cottage cheese, etc)  Bottom line, whatever is on me, I'll be dragging up and down the Adirondack mountains on July 28th, for 112 miles on the bike...and then 26.2 miles on the run.  It's simply physics...your watts/kg go up the lower your kgs go.

4.  Strength: Something had to give.  When trying to set up a plan, there was just no way to get everything in.  So I made an important decision to streamline my strength plan.  Simplify.  Three workouts a week built around improving my core strength and functional power.  More on this in a later post.

5. Mental:  Assuming I can get into Mirror Lake at 7am, July 28th healthy...it is absolutely critical that I enter the water with the right frame of mind.  This will no doubt take some work, but I think this will come from the confidence built over the next six months.  

6. My Family:  Finally, I've got to make sure I don't lose focus of what's important.  This is fun.  This is a selfish endeavor that my family has been willing to let me pursue.  I need to make sure they know how much I appreciate that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Pendulum Swings

6 months ago I was in Lake Placid.  6 months from now I'll be in Lake Placid.

I've been at this a while.  10 years in triathlon.  My first was in the summer of 2003.  I would have been the last one out of the water if I hadn't convinced my friend to race with me.  We bolted out of T1 on mountain bikes...but we had no idea was "T1" really was.

And so began my triathlon life.  I was a runner.  I couldn't swim well.  And my skinny little legs could turn the pedals...but there wasn't much power.  Through the years, I got better little by little.  Tackled a few HIM (half ironmans)...and then took a break after a sub 3-hr marathon in May and a sub 5-hr 70.3 in August of 2007.  Thought I was done.  But late in 2011, the "Ironman" bug started to gnaw at me.  The one things I had never really accomplished in my endurance life.  I knew I was in trouble then.  For whatever reason, I always knew Lake Placid would be the "one" if I ever saddled up to do an IM.  And so it was.

The past 12 months have put me in position for tomorrow.  I was lucky enough to realize that I needed to "train to train".  Just as "one does not simply walk into Mordor", one does not simply hop into IM training on Day #1 of Week #1 of their plan.  And that's what tomorrow is.  Day #1.  6 months to go.

Some of the questions I will be trying to answer for myself over the next 6 months.
Happy training, my friends.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Who Encourages You?

I had some things to write about today.  But they were all stupid.  This video sums everything up.  Happy day to you all.


What will be your Space Jam?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Think big thoughts...enjoy small pleasures.

It's tough to wrap your head around a 140.6 mile race.  Actually, I think it's impossible.  Too many variables.  Too many moving parts.  I guess it's a lot like life.

It was one of those days today, and I'll be glad to see Saturday come.  But while we worry about jobs, kids, our parents, etc...it's important to embrace the little things that get us from one big event to another.  Breakfast with my two girls, a physics rave party B2 while learning the greek alphabet, reading "The Gruffalo" with Elinor, falling asleep on the couch with my best friend (well, in about 37 mins).  Today wasn't our trip to Disney, or Lake Placid.  It wasn't Christmas or Shannon's birthday.  Today was an ordinary day in the life of the McHales...but it was just as special.

"So many people who go afield to search for happiness have left it behind them back home sitting on the front porch." -David Grayson

Happy training, my friends.  27 weeks and 2 days.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My last week...until my first week.

Knocked out a swift 6 miles this evening on the trails...mixing in a 6:50 mile 2 and a 6:36 mile 4.  I wanted to throw the body back into "race pace" as I have a 5 mile trail race on Saturday.  The run felt good.  The toe felt good.  I felt good. Game on LP.
I finished the Outseason Plan last Sunday.  The 14 week plan was my pre-training training.  And it was brutal.  I decided to pretty much rest this week.  No morning workouts.  One key training run (today), one good bike (Thursday) and two good swims (Monday and Friday).  Hoping for a solid race on Saturday.  Complete rest day on Sunday...and then Monday is the beginning of Week 1 IM training.

Happy trails, my friends.  "fortitudine vincimus"



Monday, January 21, 2013

The runner in front of me...

I managed to get out the door yesterday morning just before the temp cracked 10F.  My phone told me it felt like -7F.  Armed with proper gear and well placed facial hair...none of this was a problem.  The Forest Preserve was mine...and a random coyote's.

The first 10 miles were rough.  The last .4...were epic.  We'll call the day a win...with the exception of one, poorly executed bathroom stop around mile five.

I did see "the guy" again.  I'd seen him before.  Running ahead of me.  Every few weeks I see him.  Usually on the tough runs.  The runs that you look back on and are proud that you got out the door and put one foot in front of the other and got it done.  There he was...about a quarter mile ahead of me.  Pushing the pace.

And then I realized, it wasn't the same guy I had seen before.  It was a new guy.  This guy looked a little faster and a little stronger.  Left, right, left, right.  I thought I could catch him...but I never did.  As I finished my run, a glanced over my shoulder, behind me...and saw the guy I used to be chasing.    The "old guy".  I'd beaten him today.  Now I was on to the "new guy".  The guy who will finish just ahead of me at IMLP.  Maybe I'll catch him before then.  Maybe next time.  Maybe July, 28th.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From the depths of winter...

It's cold at 4:45am.  It's really cold at 4:45am in the winter.

It's going to be exciting in July.  It will be easy to train.  It will be easy to work hard and get after it.
June will be fun too.  More time to train.  The days getting longer.  Yep, that will be easy.
It's going to be awesome when the weather breaks in April.  It will be easy to hop on the bike and put endless miles on in the new warm sunshine.
Perhaps March won't be so bad either...with all the excitement just around the corner.
But in January?  Ha.
It'll be too late to make a difference in July.  June will be too late as well.  March and April?  Not enough time...the time is now.


Make it happen.  "On this day...we fight."