The staredown before the beatdown. Claire's job was intimidation and mine was annihilation.
Claire decided to throw a killer party to celebrate our KOM victory in the mountains. She invited all of her best friends including Teddy and Dolly.
The party went on till the break of dawn and the bubbly was flowing like a fountain.
At 6am they all finally passed out and we were able to get some solid sleep. A good time was had by all!!
Claire took Dave to the cleaners in a game of quarters at her party and the result was him in his "sick jammies" the next morning.
My pal Watty hosts a tough training camp in the North Carolina mountains every year and the past couple of years Jen and I have been helping him as coaches. This year the camp consisted of 17 athletes and 4 coaches/staff. The camp began on Thursday evening and ended on Sunday afternoon with lots of miles and instruction mixed in between. Amanda & Jen took the lead roles with providing SAG support as well as preparing meals. Steve & I were team leaders for each of the training sessions which included swim video analysis, keeping the ride groups together, on the course instruction, and after dinner seminars and Q&A sessions. To ensure that the campers were well fueled and properly recovered our friends at First Endurance sent us a package full of EFS Drink, EFS Liquid Shots, Ultragen recovery drink, First Endurance water bottles and visors. At the end of the weekend it looked like the campers got exactly what they came for and had a great time in the process. Below is the camp itinerary to paint a better picture of what the campers accomplished:
* Check In Begins
* Mandatory Dinner followed by discussion of expectations and Q&A
* Swim session including video analysis
* 100/80/60 mile bike ride on "The Real BSG" course
* Transition Run
* Dinner followed by a self myofascial release & recovery clinic, discussion, and practice
* 100/80/60 mile bike ride on The Loop of Truth course
* Transition Run
* Dinner followed by a race day nutrition clinic and discussion
* 100/80/60 mile bike ride on Blood, Sweat & Gears course
* Transition Run
* Campers make their way back home
KOM Competition.....the winner is......ME!!
Watty and I have been having a great time running our mouths at each other about this camp since the beginning of March. Over the winter I spent most of my time playing racquetball, basketball, and hanging out with Jen and Claire and when March rolled around I was in no kind of aerobic shape to attack this mountain camp. On March 1st I decided to get myself back into shape. My plan was to use a very low volume and very high intensity approach and hope that my endurance and fat utilization capabilities would still be in tact from all of my previous years of training. I planned out my workouts with specific purposes and did half of my hard efforts seated and half standing because that's how I climb in the mountains. My plan included two weekly bike workouts on the trainer plus a hard mountain bike session on Saturdays ranging from 1:15 hrs to 3:15 hrs at 160 bpm (LT minus 10 bpms or half Ironman effort).
Watty took a completely different approach focusing on high volume and averaging 303 miles on the bike for the 8 weeks with two weeks over 30 hours of triathlon training. He picked up his intensity over the last few weeks before the camp and trained in the mountains twice before camp.
At the end of the 8 week period we both ended up being in great cycling shape coming from two completely different strategies and we were both eager to see who would be King of the Mountain. Our plan was to take the cumulative time over 3 climbs. Since I didn't have much endurance in my legs I decided it would be wise for me to shadow Watty throughout the days until it was time to make one strong attack and have two solid time trials. Friday was the first test. On the back side of Snake Mountain we looked at each other and knew it was going to be the first test. I got the effort level up from a ways out and when we hit the beef of the climb I stood up and got a little gap. I was breathing fire and looked down at 178 bpm so eased up a bit and noticed that I had a small gap so I decided to attack to get more separation. Typically it's hard to come back from a big gap on steep climbs unless the other dude completely falls apart. At the end of the climb I ended up with a 50 second lead. This didn't really excite me because I knew that I completely emptied my tank and had no idea if I could ride another climb like that.
The next climb was Big Hill. Watty attacked HARD at the base of the climb and I could barely hold on. When he let up to sit down I counter attacked and he was stuck in the wrong gear to go with. I got some separation and held it to the top adding another 15 seconds to the lead. We both felt good about that effort and were happy to be dueling again. It's been too long.
The final test came towards the end of the Loop of Truth on Saturday. At the base of Beech Mountain we gave each other a knuck bump and went about our business. I got an early lead and felt like I was going to fall apart. At the 1/2 way mark Watty closed the gap and a few seconds later I opened it up again. At the 3/4 mark he closed the gap again and we were really duking it out. I got some more separation and ended up with another 25 seconds in the bank to take the KOM. The surprising part of all of this is that WE BOTH set personal best times up Beech Mountain.
Even though I was crowned with the coveted KOM TapouT jersey we both came away from the camp as winners. My main goals were to lose a little weight and get in good enough shape to ride strong within our group again. His main goal was to get in shape for his upcoming Ironman in June. We both succeeded and had a lot of fun talking trash in the process.
The big event for this past week was our trip to the mountains to coach the Ironstrong Training Camp in Blowing Rock, NC. I've designated another post for the details behind the camp but the significance is that it was Claire's first road trip. The ride there went well but once she got there she was a bit off of her game. She seemed like something was wrong and actually ended up projectile vomiting twice on Saturday and was very hard to feed. As I write this we now know that she had a virus but at the time we thought it was due to the travel and being out of her environment. The good side of all of this is that Claire puked all over Watty's brand new TapouT shirt & shorts that he was wearing to intimidate me. Claire & I got the last laugh and Watty was stuck with vomit on his clothes!!
Jen and I have resolved my lack of sleep issue that has been causing a bit of tension in our household. I try to be pleasant but I need my sleep. Claire usually wakes up to eat between 5am and 7am and since Jen has personal training clients at 6am every morning this means I'm waking up early as well. Jen doesn't seem to be as affected by the sleep disturbance so we've come up with a system where she takes the feed in the middle of the night (~2am or 3am) and I take the feeds ~10pm and ~6am. This way I get a solid block of sleep and so far I haven't been quite as cranky. She has the opportunity to nap during the day (even though she never uses it) so it seems to be a fair tradeoff. At least I think so!!
Here's a quick recap of what she's been up to:
* First road trip
* Weighs 10 lbs 0 oz
* Cooing and smiling quite a bit
* Is able to sleep in her crib and slept in the pack & play in the mountains
Planning to take a 6 1/2 day glacier skills course with a summit attempt in the summer of 2011 with 8 of my best buds.
One of my goals is to climb Denali in Alaska at some point in the fairly near future so I figured I better take some baby steps towards that goal. I asked one of my Ironman training partners, Tom, where I should begin and he pointed me to Mt. Rainier. Tom has gone on various climbing expeditions and Rainier was where he got started. He pointed me to the International Mountain Guides website to take a look at the different guided climb options and while I was checking out the website I noticed a familiar name on their list of highly accomplished mountain guides. It was my best friend from grade school Mike Haugen. Mike's family moved away from my hometown after 5th grade and we never heard from each other again until recently. A couple years ago my parents read an article about Mike climbing Mt. Everest and helping to save someone's life on the mountain in the process so I knew that he was an accomplished climber but didn't know he was a guide. After looking through their climb options I decided on their 6 1/2 day Glacier Skills Seminar. This course is an expedition style climb where we'll learn climbing skills on the mountain each day such as crevasse rescue, ice climbing, rope tieing, etc. We'll also make a summit attempt during the course of the 6 days on the mountain. I thought it would be the perfect introduction to mountain climbing.
The next step was to invite some of my best friends from throughout my life to join me. The course only has room for 8 climbers so I thought it was be an awesome experience to get a bunch of my favorite people together to hang out on the mountain with no TV, email, cell phones, etc. If we fill the group then it will be our own private climb and will be more likely to tailer the course to our fitness level and needs. I asked a handful of my buds from high school, college, and beyond and nearly all of them said they were in on the spot. Now that the group was assembled I wanted to see if we could get Mike as our guide so I contacted him via Facebook and we got the ball rolling. I called up the IMG team and they said we'll just need to all sign up for the same seminar date once the dates come out in their newsletter in the middle of this summer. So at this point we are just waiting for the dates to come out to get signed up for Jul/Aug of 2011. I'm excited to catch up with a lot of my best friends that I haven't seen in a while as well as get challenged and learn some mountaineering skills in the process.
Here's the roster for the Rainier trip:
Adam Lindell (Buffalo, NY) - Ran xc & track together @ Marquette
Clarke Rodgers (Charlotte, NC) - Train for triathlons together
Dave Hornak (Charlotte, NC) - Train for triathlons together and is my neighbor
Eric Zack (Burlington, NC) - Ran xc & track together @ Marquette
Matt Dunlavy (Somewhere in Kansas) - Ran xc & track together @ Marquette
Nick Frank (Charlotte, NC)
Pete Hoskow (San Francisco, CA) - Roommates in college and ran xc & track together @ Marquette
Tyler Wichmann (Charlotte, NC) - Train for triathlons together
On the left photo we've got our nephew Ben checking out a hottie 9 month old girl in a stroller. On the right he is eating his favorite green leafy food (dried leaves).
You see a theme on the left photo....eating leaves again. On the right we have a rare photo without a leaf in Ben's mouth.
My sister Melissa trying to steal our baby girl. Although she would be easy to fit into the suitcase undetected we would quickly notice she was missing and hunt Melissa down.
The teams for chicken fights were Tony & Ben vs. me and Claire. They won because Ben plays dirty.
Ben took a liking to his uncle Nick. Can't blame him I guess.
There was a bit of chaos in the house with Ben, Claire, and our two cats running around.
Claire and Tony meeting for the first time.
Ben looks a little apprehensive to take a ride on the Uncle Nick Rollercoaster.
It's was great to have Melissa and Tony in town for the week and get a chance to see Ben again. There's nothing like family. You know so much about each other which always makes for a good time. Ben is now crawling around and can move from furniture to furniture by standing. He's able to push his walker and will be walking very soon. He's high energy and very curious. It seems like he wants to get into everything, especially the stuff he shouldn't be getting into. I think he's a lot like I was when I was his age. His personality is what some would call spirited and will be a lot of fun to watch grow up.
©2009 Clarke Rodgers/SPORTZFOTO.com
On the bike during my final race, Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
An Ironman is a triathlon competition consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run combined into one long day. The competition can last anywhere from 8 hours for the fastest guys to 17 hours for the cutoff. There are Ironmans popping up all over the world during any month of the year. Once you begin training for an Ironman and subsequently finish an Ironman you are now part of the club. Many people get Ironman "M-DOT" tattoos, wear Ironman branded clothing, and rock other Ironman accessories such as backpacks, mugs, umbrellas, bumper stickers (140.6), etc. The training it takes to compete in an Ironman varies based on what your goals are but all in all it is a lifestyle change revolved around swimming, biking, running, strength training, eating, drinking, and sleeping. This is the Ironman lifestyle.
Once you are hooked into the Ironman lifestyle it is terribly difficult to get out. There is always something that you can improve upon from one race to the next and you rarely ever get it right. Even if you are in monster shape you can end up having a terrible race if you get your hydration, nutrition, or sodium intake wrong. It's a very addicting sport that I recently decided to walk away from. During my last goal setting session I compiled the costs and benefits of the Ironman lifestyle and realized that the benefits no longer outweighed the total cost. And there are many, many hidden costs. Below I am going to walk through some of the costs associated with the Ironman lifestyle that I tended to overlook when I was "in the mix".
The time commitment to train for an Ironman is enormous. I trained year round with weekly training hours between 10 hrs during the off-season and 30 hours during my heaviest weeks. A typical mid-season week would be between 18-20 hours. These hours only include actual swim, bike, run, and strength training time. They do not include time to get dressed, get the bike pumped and tuned, drive to the pool or gym, stretching, massage, creating training plans for myself, reading books, articles, and websites about triathlon, etc.
FINANCIAL (EQUIPMENT & MAINTENANCE):
The money spent on the sport is also gigantic when added up at the end of the year. Here's a quick list of equipment that I have bought over the years: tri bike, road bike, Zipp 404s, Zipp 808s, Zipp disk, long sleeve wetsuit, short sleeve wetsuit, skinsuit, Ergomo power meter, aero helmet, road helmet, cycling shoes, cycling sunglasses, running shoes (new pair every 300 miles), training clothes, nutritional products, self maintenance products, Computrainer, Tacx Flow power trainer, Ironman DVD collection, Triathlete magazine subscription, and on and on and on. Bike and body maintenance are other expenses associated with Ironman training and racing. You need to maintain your bikes with new tires, chains, brakes, cassettes, etc. or they will break down on you at the worst of times. You also need to maintain your body with massage, chiropractic, or self maintenance tools such as Trigger Point products, foam rollers, The Stick, etc or it will break down too!!
FINANCIAL (EVENTS, TRAVEL, AND LODGING):
Each Ironman competition costs $550 for registration and you have to register a year in advance. I typically competed in one to two Ironmans per year along with two 70.3s ($275) and a handful of sprints and olympic distance races which are typically around $60-$100. That's just for registration!! For lodging, I'll give Lake Placid as an example, the minimum night stay at the hotels is 5 nights and the typical price was around $250 per night so do the math and that comes out to $1250 for the 5 nights. On top of that you most likely eat meals at restaurants vs. cooking your own food while at the venue so you've got to add in the price of meals too. On top of that you need to get to the event. We typically drove so the cost for us was just gas and wear & tear on the car but for a lot of races you have to fly which can get costly when you add in shipping for your bike.
It is very difficult to spend as much time as you would like with your spouse, children, family, and (non-triathlete) friends unless they train for Ironmans. Triathlon can be a very selfish sport. In order to do it right you really have to have a near singular focus on it. Since you don't have much free time you want to ensure to spend it all with your spouse (and kids if you have them). Non-triathlete friends and family get the shaft because you no longer have that extra time. Hanging out and drinking a few brews is no longer appealing because you have to wake up early the next morning to train. Even when you do hang out with your spouse, kids, friends, and family you have to be very focused to ensure that you are giving them the attention that they deserve. This is very tough to do because you are so tired from training, work, and other responsibilities.
It is possible that your profession could also be impacted by this lifestyle. While trying to fit it all in you may compromise your work to get in an extra workout at times. Even if that doesn't happen you will most likely be more tired than you would if you didn't wake up ultra early to get your morning session in before work. There will also be times when you are thinking about your next training session or race when you should be focused on your work.
I get 23 days of PTO for work and while I was a triathlete I used nearly all of it on traveling to and from races and training camps. The only other regular trip that we would make would be to go home to Wisconsin & Illinois for Christmas. I consider that more of a VISIT than a VACATION. Even if the race venue was in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands or Kona, Hawaii you spent most of the time trapped inside getting prepared for your race and only got to spend a couple of days after the race to hang out and enjoy the destination. The only problem with that is the two days after competing an Ironman you are so sore that you don't feel like doing anything!
OTHER HOBBIES & SKILLS:
There are so many other things to learn and enjoy in life. While training for Ironmans there isn't time to tackle some of the other things that you've always wanted to do in life. I used to avoid doing things that had even a mild risk for making me tired or sore for my triathlon training. Now I am now capable of doing those things.
At the end of last year I asked myself if I would be happier if I were taking top three or even winning some of the major races. The answer was no. There is always another level to conquer and I wouldn't be any happier even if I reached that level. I think that our achievements can bring us short term happiness but lasting happiness comes from the close relationships that we build. If some of our most valued relationships start to slowly slip away because we have a singular focus on a goal that may not even bring us more happiness then we may need to re-evaluate the situation. I've often seen a few guys on an early Saturday afternoon drinking brews and playing bean bag toss while I was finishing up my 100+ mile ride. I often questioned if I would be happier just hanging out on the weekends enjoying my spouse and friends. There are definitely a lot more laughs when sipping down some margaritas and tossing some corn bags around than there are out on a 100+ mile ride followed by a 4-8 mile run. Smiling & Laughter == Happiness so you do the math.
Since I've listed out a bunch of costs to living the triathlon lifestyle I figure I better list some of the benefits. So here are a few:
* Friendships built with training partners
* Very fit and healthy
* Sense of accomplishment
* Part of a community
* Travel to areas you likely wouldn't have gone
* Find out what you are made of
This blog post wasn't meant to deter anyone from doing an Ironman. I really enjoyed the triathlon lifestyle for the first 3-4 years when it was all new and the learning curve was so high. I think it's a major feat to train for and compete in an Ironman. This was mainly my way of writing down some ideas that I was hashing out in my head last November when I made the decision to discontinue the triathlon lifestyle. Now that I've stepped away from it for a few months and our baby girl was born it's even more clear to me what a great decision it was.