Monday, November 28, 2011

When the Wheels Come Off

This past Sunday I had scheduled a 14-mile long run, part of my ramping up to a 20-mile long run before the L.A. Marathon in March. I might have gone out a teensy bit too fast the first several miles, but that didn't explain what happened around the halfway point.

I made it halfway and took an unplanned break. This run included both Gatorade (every two miles) and gels (every six miles). I haven't used gels on the run in several months so wanted to get my stomach used to them again. During the break I felt a bit tired but figured it was because of going out too fast. After walking for a few minutes I started heading back. I noticed my pace was slower than it had been but, hey, it's a 14-mile run, right? It didn't take long, though, to realize something was not right. By mile eight I started taking short walking breaks. By mile 11.5, I was walking. I thought I would start running again by mile 12, and I did, but I could tell it wasn't happening, saw my pace on the Garmin, and figured why even run if I felt bad going that slow.

What do I mean by "bad"? I don't mean bonking. I don't mean nauseous. I don't even mean tired. I mean heavy legs, sore feet, and just not feeling like running anymore. I just felt bad. On the bright side, walking the last 2.5 miles meant that I walked the fatigue and soreness out of my legs. I actually didn't feel tired when I finally made it home.

So, I could just plop down and chalk it up to not being my day or I could figure out what went wrong. The previous weekend I ran nine miles like it was nothing. I did the whole thing forefoot striking, too. What could have happened in the past week to make the wheels come off like that? Maybe having nachos as my sole meal the day before was a bad idea? Maybe only doing one morning run (a nice 4-miler on Friday) last week messed up my fitness? Maybe that Friday run was too close to Sunday's run? Maybe using gels for the first time in a while screwed up my body? However, a trip to the bathroom provided me the clue I needed to figure it all out: dehydration. Not during the run but before it. The day before I returned home from a trip to visit family. In an effort to keep from stopping the car every hour for bathroom breaks, I didn't drink as much as I usually do and when we arrived home, I didn't drink water to make up for it. Consequently, I started my run a little dehydrated. Add to that the day was warmer than usual for late November and my usual fluid intake during a run was not enough to make up for it. Dehydration.

So the point of this whole story is that when you have a really bad training session, don't just chalk it up to having a bad day or "one of those things". Try and figure it out to see if you made some mistake so you don't make it again in the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life Is What Happens While You're Busy Making Training Plans

John Lennon never raced a triathlon but if he had, he might have written the title to this entry. I had a lot of life happen this summer. Divorce (still not finalized--sigh). Moved myself into an apartment. Visitation time with my children rather than seeing them every day. A new girlfriend (and roommate). Figuring out what to do with all my stuff. All that "life" messes up my well-laid plans for racing and training. That and my new outlook on racing in hills. Oh, and my age. Maybe it's all just a matter of getting a fresh perspective on things.

First to affect my training plans was the lack of training. How long did I take off? One month? Two months? I forget. I only did two weeks--four sessions--of swim training before the Hansen Dam Triathlon. The result was that my times were slower in all legs (except T2, a small victory ;-). If I'm not even in shape to decently race a sprint triathlon, then I am not in shape enough to tackle my first marathon in November, as I had planned. And I, of course, can't do a half-iron-distance race in October, either. Or even a shorter triathlon, instead. And if I can't do a half-iron this year, I suppose I should put off a full-iron until the year after next. Stuff like that.

Then there is the issue of recovery. My approach to training has been a bit willy-nilly. Still is, I suppose. However, I have come to the realization that I need to pay more attention to recovery. I will turn 49 in a couple of months and these long runs and rides take a lot out of me. So not only do I need to make sure that I am planning recovery days better, I am going to be more focused in my training. For instance, I want to run the Los Angeles Marathon next March. That will likely be two weeks after my beloved IronBruin Triathlon. What to do? Simple: forget the tri and focus on the marathon. More runs, no swimming, and keep the very long bike rides to a minimum until after the race. After than is the Soma Triathlon in Arizona next October. I may be doing a few events before then (Hansen Dam in August for sure) but the focus is on Soma. If I am going to do my first marathon and half-ironman in the same year, I need to focus on those pretty big goals. My thinking is that life may continue to derail me here and there but focus should help get me back on track.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rethinking the Bike

I had a bit of a revelation during last weekend's inaugural Gran Fondo Los Angeles. Not that I suck at hills. I already knew that. Well, it had something to do with that. Anyway, I was finally out of the hills and heading east on San Vicente Blvd in the last few miles of the ride. I was waiting at a stoplight when some other guys from the ride pulled up with me and said we should ride back together. Cool! The light turned green and we were off. Even though my legs were trashed from the climbing, meaning I was no good up even the smallest hill, in the flats I was doing okay. I figured I'd stay in front and pull the guys along and I could rotate back when I got tired. I glanced at the Garmin and saw I was doing a respectable 21.something mph. I had to go around a parallel parking-car so I looked back to check the traffic and I saw that those guys were gone. They hadn't just fallen behind, they were nowhere to be seen. Okay, I'm not the fastest guy in the world so how could I drop four guys when my legs were as tired as they were?

That weekend really got me thinking. I'm never going to be good at hills. Let me repeat that: I am never going to be good at hills. The skinniest I could ever hope to get is 170 lbs., which is what I weighed when I was a skinny high school senior. I am not going to get down that far in weight but that's the lowest I figure I could get. If you're a professional cyclist, 170 lbs. is huge and those guys are either sprinters or time triallists and they're pretty terrible at hills (I know it sounds weird to compare myself to pros but consider that they are way stronger than I would be at that weight). No matter how much hill work I do, I am going to get faster and stronger but I will always suck compared to others. Heck, the Gran Fondo had a timed climb, 5 miles with 1650 feet of climbing, and I placed 550 out of 609 people. Suck. But I still had enough power to drop those guys without even trying. Hmm.

What to do? Well, the first thing I did was re-think my planned entry into October's Magic Mountain Man as my debut half-iron-distance triathlon. Lots and lots of tough hills. Why ruin my race time because of something that I know is my weakness (and always will be my weakness)? Off the schedule it went. I found a new, flatter triathlon in the Soma Triathlon. Doing that race, though, meant that I need to pick a new debut marathon since the Two Cities Marathon is only two weeks after Soma. Sorry, Fresno. Some other year. Next I took all the very hilly rides and races (except, maybe, the Solvang Century...someday) from my planned calendar (I plan these things years in advance). Goodbye Death Ride. Goodbye Ironman St. George. All that stuff, gone.

Where to go from here? Remember where I wrote that big cyclists are either sprinters or time triallists? They can also be track cyclists so I want to check out track cycling. There is a beginner clinic at the Encino Velodrome in a few weeks that I might be able to attend (things are pretty hectic right now so that might have to wait a month or two). I also need to find some flatter training routes. I will still hit the hills (you really can't avoid them in Southern California), which will continue to build my strength and improve my descending skills, but I am going to be looking to avoid the really gnarly climbs, like that Cat 1 Piuma Road Climb last weekend. No, I don't need to do those anymore. I can still feel it in my legs a week later!

Then maybe someday I can get a time trial bike.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The First Type of Cyclist

There are two types of cyclists: those who have crashed and those who are going to crash. -Old Saying

Yesterday I finally became the first type of cyclist. I was at the bottom of Little Tujunga during yesterday's ride and there is a part of the road that water sometimes flows over. I don't know why they don't route the water under the road but there you go. I approached it slowly, probably no more than 10 mph, no turning while I'm in the water, and bam! I went down. No time to get a foot out of the pedals. No rolling. Heck, I didn't even know what was going on until I was almost on the ground. Plus, if you've ever seen a part of the road that has had water flowing over it when it was dry, you know that the road is not smooth. Oh no, it has been worn down so it's nice and rough. Must have hit a patch of algae. I hopped up (don't know how my feet got unclipped) and walked around going "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow." I soon realized that I needed to get my bike and whatnot out of the road, so I did that. Noticed that my handlebars were now at a 45° angle to my front wheel. Then kept walking around going "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow." Nothing broken, clothes not ripped, leg a tiny bit scratched up, arm a bit ground up. Eww. Grabbed a water bottle and sprayed (sugar) water on my scraped up bits. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

After walking the ouchies off, I took grabbed my multi-tool (you do take a multi-tool with you on your rides, don't you?) and straightened out my handlebars (brake handles, too). As I was putting the tool away, I heard "beep, thunk". I turned around and a motorcycle had done the same thing as me in the same place. Made me feel less stupid. He was okay because he had a leather jacket on, so he picked himself up and went on his merry way. After a few more minutes, I went on my merry way, too (where "merry" meant thirteen miles and way too much climbing).

Lessons learned:
  • Glad I always ride with a multi-tool.
  • Glad I put my iPhone in a metal case on rides. It got a little scratched up.
  • Wearing gloves to protect your hands in a crash is a good idea. My left glove got scraped up good but not my left hand.
  • If I have time to think in the future, try to rotate a bit so I go down on my back and not my arm. I always wear a base layer under my jersey for just that reason.
  • Walk around going "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" after getting my bike out of the road. Good thing that isn't a heavily travelled spot.
  • Maybe I should take a gauze pad or two and some bandage with me. Good thing I wasn't dripping blood.

Life goes on. Today I did my planned nine mile run at my planned pace (under 10:00/mi). I am ready for Fresno in two weeks.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Report: Victory for Victims 10K River Run

Total Time: 54:26
Overall Rank: 145/467
Age Group: 45-49
Age Group Rank: 10/18

Pre-race routine

This is part of my series of long bike on Saturday/run on Sunday training weekends. I had planned to do a 9 mile run today but this race appeared on my radar and it was for a good cause so I decided to do it, instead. So, my pre-race routine started with a 67 mile bike ride on Saturday. While I didn't push it up the hills, I was going pretty good in the flats. Stayed well-hydrated on the ride. Ate well and took a good nap when I got home.

Woke up at 6am Sunday morning. All I had was a glass of Gatorade to get the digestive system moving. Eventually got dressed, got my stuff together, and drove to the race.

Event warmup

Jogged about 1/4 mile ten minutes before the 8:30 start time.


The goal was to come in under 55 minutes, which is an 8:52 pace. I learned from my last half-mary to negative split these races so the plan was to stay just above 8:52 for the first three or four miles. At mile three, if I was feeling good then pick up the pace slightly. At mile four, pick up the pace slightly. At mile five, let loose.

I set my Garmin's slow pace alert for a 9:10 pace and started the race. Dodged a lot of people at the start, of course, but that wasn't so bad. The pace alert worked out great as I could stay within myself but pick things up a bit if it went off. At mile 2.5 I felt a bit of a twinge in my right hamstring. I didn't think it was a cramp and if it was a muscle pull, it was a tiny one. I'd pay attention to it but wouldn't slow down unless it made me. Got to mile three and didn't feel like going faster so I didn't. Got to mile 4 and picked things up a bit and passed a bunch of people. At mile five I got down to business, passing even more people. Not fun but it was manageable. There was no sprint to the finish line this time, as I left it all out on the course.

What would you do differently?

VERY pleased with my race so I wouldn't have changed a thing. I paced myself just right, ran according to plan, and made my goal time. Good job!

Post race

Warm down

Walked around, grabbed some of the freebie food and water. The usual.

What limited your ability to perform faster

The four hour bike ride the day before. :-)

Event comments

I don't do many straight road races but I can see making this one an annual event. It benefits a good cause, it's a great time of the year weather-wise, and it's a nice course.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Humbling Weekend

One of the things I like about triathlon is that you get to learn a lot about your body. Another thing is trying to find the right balance between the swim, bike and run and not just in a race but in training, as well. For much of the past year my #1 priority, by far, has been the run and it has paid off. My run speed has moved from pathetic to merely slow, and that's a good thing. I knew that my bike was going to suffer but I didn't know how much...until this weekend.

The Santa Clarita Century is in three weeks so to get ready for it, yesterday I rode what I call The Tour of Three Roads. It's an 80-mile ride on much of the same roads as the century ride so it would be a good barometer of my fitness for that ride. Good thing I did the ride, too, because there is no way I'm ready for the Santa Clarita Century, which is not only longer than The Tour of Three Roads but has a couple thousand more feet of climbing. It's bad enough that my legs were really tired but my butt is out of shape for a ride of that length, too. So, the Santa Clarita Century is out for this year but I have moved it on my calendar to next year.

That was yesterday. Today I had a run scheduled. I was originally planning on doing a 12-mile run but scaled that back to nine nice and easy miles. Things went well until mile four when I started feeling not so good. The next five miles were lots of running and walking. That's okay, though. It was the first time I had done a long run the day after a very long bike ride and doing hard workouts for the first time is always not fun. I learned a lot, though. I learned that I have a lot of training to do to get through the California Classic Weekend in May. For that I had planned to do the full century ride on Saturday before the half-marathon on Sunday. Now I"m wondering whether I should do the metric century instead. I'll see how the next month of workouts go before I make that decision.

So if I'm not ready for a long ride on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday, I'm obviously not ready for a half-iron distance race, either. Fortunately, I already know that. That race is not happening until October so I have lots of hard training to look forward to before then. But not only do I have to train for those two multi-sport events but I have the Two Cities Marathon in November that I have to train for. That's the balancing act.

So, after learning what kind of shape I'm in this weekend, here's the plan: I need more rides on the bike and longer ones, too. On weekends where I'm not doing my longest long run, I do at least a three hour bike ride on Saturday, followed by at least a nine mile run on Sunday, working up to have that run be thirteen miles or two hours (whichever is shorter) by September. On the weekend of my longest long run, that is done on Saturday with an easy (?) 42 mile ride on Sunday. Oh, and I need to do a lunchtime ride on the hills of Griffith Park at least once a week.

I'll have to start doing long brick runs eventually, too, but I can't think of that until the summer. Oh, and I need to practice long runs in the heat of high noon because that's what I'll be doing in October's race. More on that later.

That should keep me busy for a few months.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Report: IronBruin Triathlon 2011

Total Time: 1:26:27
Age Group: M 40-49
Age Group Rank: 14/44

Pre-race routine

This is my third time at the IronBruin, my first triathlon. In the last year my focus has been on the run, and it has paid off. Since this is such a hilly course, the question is how much has that focus taken away from my bike? I would expect to be faster just because I'm in better shape and have lost weight but probably not lots faster. I should be lots faster on the run, though. I should be a lot faster on the swim, too, because I pretty much couldn't do any swim training before last year's race.

My pre-race routine was my usual: last meal was a sandwich from Subway at 5 o'clock the evening before and making sure I stayed hydrated (but not over-hyrdrated) during the day. Packed up that night (using a checklist--everybody should do that). Woke up at 4am and had Nutella with banana on toast and a glass of Gatorade. Took a shower, shaved, got dressed, loaded the bike on the car, and left right at 5am, as planned.

Event warmup

Nice weather for that early in the morning in March. I mis-remembered the time T1 opened and got to it later than I should have. I did manage to score a good spot for my bike, though. The swim is a time trial start so even though my wave started at 7am, I knew I wouldn't be in the water for a least ten minutes after that so I waited until 6:55 to get in the warmup pool. Did 3x50 for a warmup, then headed down to the race and got in line. Froze in line for about ten minutes.


Distance: 400 meters
Time: 7:56

Good swim. Usually on the swim I get excited and breathe every stroke during the race. However, I kept to my breathing plan and swam along at a pretty good pace. Passed three people and was only passed by one so I was seeded just right. Kicked it up a bit more the last 100 meters and especially the last 50. The last guy I passed was in the last 30 meters. I could have just sat behind him to the end but I decided to go for it and passed him with about 5 meters to spare before it was time to get out.

What would you do differently?

To get faster in the swim I'm going to have to train more than once a week. However, my focus is still on the run then the bike, since that's where my biggest time gains can come from. Until I'm more satisfied with those two, the swim is going to suffer. Oh well.


Time: 0:35

Really good T1 (6th fastest overall). This was my first race with my new Specialized TriVent Sport shoes and it is SO nice to finally have triathlon shoes. There is a big downhill first thing on the bike and I held off on getting in my shoes until I reached the bottom. Getting in these shoes was a breeze compared to my cycling shoes. Woo hoo! Oh, it was also my first race with my XLab Super Wing behind my seat and, even though I didn't have cages on it, I was wondering if it would catch my leg as I hopped on the bike (yes, I had practiced getting on and off the bike with it but I still wasn't sure). It didn't.

What would you do differently?



Distance: 13.5 miles
Time: 49:50

I adore this bike course. It helps that I like downhills, am getting stronger and losing weight, and that I'm getting better at cornering. This was my first race with compact cranks and it was very nice to have finer control of my gears on that big uphill. I was breathing heavy the whole race but not in the red so I thought my pace was just right. My cornering was much better this year. I was passing and catching college students in the corners and in one 90 degree turn I saw that the Garmin kept above 20mph the whole time. This was also the first race where I used race tires (Michelin Pro3) so maybe that had something to do with being so sticky in the corners.

What would you do differently?

I'm actually a bit disappointed that I was just a couple of minutes faster than last year. I think I paced myself up the hills as if this was a longer race. Good for an oly but bad for a sprint. I should have destroyed my legs on the hills. Lesson learned.


Time: 0:57

In the past I have had problems with my shoes occasionally popping out of the pedals in T2 (size 48 shoes and 175 cranks). Because of some suggestions here I decided that once I got off the bike I would carry it to the rack. It was surprisingly easy to do! However, I did forget to undo my helmet while running. Racked the bike, got in my shoes fairly quickly, grabbed my race belt and visor and was off. This pre-buckling the belt and just sliding it over my head is such a time saver!

What would you do differently?

Unbuckle my helmet while running in, even if I am carrying my bike.


Distance: 5 kms
Time: 27:07

Good run for me. Four minutes faster than last year so I guess I've moved up from pathetic to merely slow. ;-) I felt pretty good out of transition and quickly got up to speed. I wasn't dying on the hills and I even passed three people. I was passed by three people so I call that even. I was passed by someone in my age group with a mile left but I didn't think I could keep up with him so I didn't try. I was pretty darned spent by the time I hit the finish line.

Oh, that guy who passed me? I ended up beating him overall by 29 seconds. He was faster than me on the run and bike and we were almost even on the swim. However, I was 2:42 faster than him in transition. Free speed, gang. You're crazy if you don't grab it.

What would you do differently?

When that guy passed me, I should have kept up with him. I don't know if I could have but he would have been a great rabbit and I might have found that I could keep up with him. I'm not convinced I truly know how hard I can push myself.

Post race

Warm down

Walked around the festival area, eating and drinking whatever was available. I gotta say, I may not want to spend money on one but a chocolate Muscle Milk after a race really hits the spot.

No post-race vision weirdness or dizziness. I don't know if that is because this was a sprint or I'm in better shape. I'll find out that the oly I'm planning for June.

Event comments

The post-race stuff was much better than the past two years. Maybe it helped that I was in the first wave but I was able to stuff myself with all the freebies.

All five segments of this race were faster than last year, so I'm pleased with that. The bike should have been faster but I'm learning.

The company doing the timing was pretty lame. Slow with the unsorted results. They've been posted but they're sorted even worse than the past couple of years. They also need a timing mat near the top of the big hill to make sure people do the full four laps on the bike.

One of my favorite races. I'll do it every year I'm able to.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011 Schedule

Last night I decided against the L'Étape du California and chose which marathon will be my first, and with that my race/ride schedule for 2011 has been finalized:

No Merced Triathlon this year since the Magic Mountain Man (M3) will be right around the same time. I'm not doing the whole L.A. Tri Series this year but the third race is a Olympic distance and it will probably be hot so it will be a good chance to race a longer race and see how much I have improved since last year before M3, which is my big race for the year. Well, that and the marathon. This will be my third year for the IronBruin, Santa Clarita Century, and Hansen Dam. Should be a fun year!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Report: Inaugural Hanford Half-Marathon

Total Time = 2:02:34
Overall Rank = 73/175
Age Group Rank = 4/7

Pre-race routine

Last meal was lunch the day before. Just water and Gatorade after that. Woke up, eventually got dressed, and drove out to the race.

Event warmup

Did a short run about 20 minutes before start time.


I have really been improving my run the past couple of months so I did some calculations and figured that a good stretch goal was to come in under two hours. I set the pace alarms on my Garmin to 8:00/mile and 9:20/mile so I would stay in the 9:09 neighborhood for the whole race.. I was able to hold this pace somewhat comfortably for the first half of the race. Once I hit mile seven, though, things took a turn. My slow pace alert kept going off and I wasn't able to get back in my target zone without really pushing it. I knew I wouldn't be able to sustain that so I slowed down for the next two miles, hoping that would give me enough rest to pick the pace up again.

Once I did pick the pace up, though, I couldn't hold it in the zone for long. I watched as my average pace dropped to 9:12 and kept getting slower. It was obvious that I wasn't going to go under two hours so I came up with a new goal: to finish the race without dying. I was not feeling good the last miles of this race. Ugh.

Then a funny thing happened: in the last few hundred yards of the race I heard footsteps behind me. Whatever, because I was too tired to care (or so I thought). However, those footsteps finally caught and passed me with 50 yards to go. Really? Oh no you don't! I tracked the runner and with about 20 or 30 yards to go, I accelerated. She matched and we ended up in a full sprint for the finish line! Fun but exhausting. What was I thinking? I did finish ahead of her.

What would you do differently?

First, I should have tried negative splitting the race. Set my pace alarms to, say, 8:15 and 9:45. Then pick it up after seven or eight miles. I'm just not fast enough to hold that pace yet. Next year for sure!

Second, I left my FuelBelt at home. That turned out to be a mistake because the Gatorade on the course was watered down and served in cups that couldn't be folded over (styrofoam or clear plastic). I had to slow down a lot to drink and didn't really get enough. I probably could have used a gel, too.

Warm down

Much walking around. I didn't do this at my last half and I was punished for it with fluid buildup in my lower left leg. I am typing this the day after and, so far, no problems. They gave out an electrolyte drink mix (pour it in the water bottle they gave you) after finishing and it wasn't too bad. What was too bad was that there was no way to tell what it was in case I wanted to buy some later! Too bad for THAT company.

What limited your ability to perform faster?

I'm doubt that having Gatorade and a gel on a FuelBelt would have ended up helping out much. Then again, it may have.

Hey, I finished this race 29 minutes faster than last November's half so I performed plenty fast for me.

Event comments

All my training happens on hilly courses so having a flat one was a treat! Nice small-town race. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Oh, and I just missed out on the podium for my age group but since first place in that group was the overall first place, I have no complaints. :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Countdown to Hanford

I ran thirteen miles for the first time at my first half-marathon last November. It was a gently rolling course and my only goal was to finish without stopping, which I did in a time of 2:31 and change. A lot has happened with my running in the last three months and the Hanford Half Marathon's course is much different than Santa Clarita's:

These things really get the mind working: What pace do I think I can hold? Remember, it's flat. If I think I can hold that pace, do I think I can go faster?

First my goal was to finish with a time of 2:25. Then it was 2:15. Then it was 2:11.

Now, I'm afraid I won't be happy if I come in over 2:00. Which is nuts, I know. Hey, it's not much of a goal if you know for sure that you can achieve it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Today I Am A (Slow) Runner

Triathlon. Swim, bike, run. I swam in high school and before that so becoming a swimmer again was easy. I'm not sure when I became a cyclist but I suppose it was when I rode my first century. Becoming a runner, though, has been a bit more elusive.

Running has not been fun. In the swim you have the water to float on. On the bike you have gears to downshift into. On the run, though, it's nothing but you vs. gravity and, as a big guy (but getting smaller), I have a lot of gravity. Though things have been getting easier in the past month or two I still didn't consider myself a runner. Not even after my first bloody top on a long run. That changed today. Two weekends from now is the Hanford Half Marathon and this coming weekend I had planned a 6 mile run to wind down before the race. I just changed that plan to a 9 mile run because 9 miles has become so easy. It was after I did that that I realized I had finally become a runner. 9 miles? Easy? Really? Yep. Slow (even when I'm going fast) but easy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Next Year...Or Two

Haven't posted anything in a few months. Stuff has come up. Life, mostly. But I've been training all along and am seeing some good progress lately on the run. And even though we're barely into the new year, I find myself with just over a month to go before my next half-marathon and less than two months before my next triathlon.

So what's the plan for the coming year? To answer that, I have to tell you the plan for the coming two years. The plan is simple, really:

  1. Magic Mountain Man (M3)Half-Ironman-Distance Race this October.
  2. Marathon a month or two after that (I have three to choose from and haven't made up my mind yet).
  3. Ironman Arizona in November 2012.

Simple, right? Just train for a marathon later this year, which will get me ready for the run portion of the M3. Ride the M3 bike course during the year (it's really tough). That will get me through this year.

I can do that. I can get through a half-Ironman. I can even get through a marathon. Just keep training and it will come together. I won't be fast, of course, but my goal isn't to win or even place but to finish respectably. I can do that. An Ironman race, though, is another matter.

The goal for a first Ironman isn't necessarily to finish but to survive. Can I really run a marathon after 112 miles on the bike? All kinds of things can go wrong but the big worry is nutrition. Don't want to crash, either. I know I can reach this year's goals. However, an Ironman is a whole different beastie and a real question mark. That's the goal, though, and to get there I have the 2011 goals as intermediate goals to get me to 2012.