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8 Weeks Left!

We’re now down to the home stretch of our Becoming an Ironman 2008 training program.  The progress that the team has made over the last 40 weeks is incredible!  It’s been truly inspiring to watch, and a real honor to be a part of. 

At this point, nearly everyone is already in Ironman shape and will have no problem finishing the distance on September 7th.  However, the next 4 weeks or so are a great opportunity to work out any kinks in your race plan — and especially your race-day nutrition — and to sharpen the edges a bit by adding some shorter, more intense mid-week workouts to get you in peak racing shape.

As far as race-day nutrition and pacing goes, here are a few things to keep in mind and to practice at next weekends half-ironman and on your long training days over the course of the next month:

General Health

  • As we near race day, and as our workouts increase in intensity, it also becomes more important to pay attention to what you’re putting into your body.  You need to be eating a lot of calories, but you also need to be eating good calories.  Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein — that’s critical to your post-workout recovery as well as repairing and building damaged muscles.
  • No matter how well you’re eating, you’re probably not getting enough critical vitamins and nutrients for the level of training we’re doing.  For that reason, it’s strongly suggested that you take a daily supplement, such as Hammer’s Premium Insurance Caps.  They only cost about $1/day, and if you look at it as an insurance policy to help increase the odds that you stay healthy and injury-free for the next two months, the price is well worth it.
  • It’s also a good idea to consider getting a sports massage once every two to three weeks between now and the race.  This can help both to allieve and/or prevent the onset of training-related muscle injuries, and also to boost your health and increase your performance by flushing many of the toxins and lactic acid from your tissues.  Note: schedule this for the day before an easy day, as you’re likely to be pretty sore for a day or so afterwards (but it’s worth it)!

Race Day Nutrition

  • Although there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all nutrition plan, you should plan on consuming approximately 300 calories per hour during the bike portion of Ironman.  That equates to approximately 1 bottle of Gatorade Endurance (which they’ll have on the course) and 1.5 packets of Gu (or any other gel or shot-block type product).  Unless you can’t handle the Gatorade, it’s probably easiest to plan on grabbing a Gatorade and/or water at each aid station — they’re spaced out approximately every 12-15 miles on the course.  It’s also a good idea to tape the bars or gels that you’ll use to your top tube.  It’s not only easier to get them that way than trying to reach into a pocket or get them at water stops, but you’ll also be reminded to eat them as they’ll be right there in front of you.
  • In terms of timing, keep in mind that you shouldn’t consume any solids/gels for at least the first 30 minutes on the bike.  After 2.4 miles in the water, where your arms and core is doing most of the work, you need to give your body every opportunity to adapt to cycling, and that means not diverting your blood flow to your digestive system.  However, you’re going to need calories as soon as possible, so it’s important to start eating right around the 30 minute mark (this will be approximately at the bottom of the hill at the intersection of Whalen Road and Fish Hatchery — a great time to get out of your aerobars and eat that first gel).
  • It’s also very important that you stick to a regimented nutrition routine.  The tendency is to listen to your body, and since you’ll probably be feeling great one you get on the bike, and since even on a warm day, it will still be very comfortable, you probably won’t feel like you need to eat.  BUT YOUR BODY STILL NEEDS THOSE CALORIES AND ELECTROLYTES!  No matter how great you might be feeling, you’re going to be burning a lot more calories out there than you can consume, and once you fall too far behind, it’s impossible to make it up.  Find an eating schedule that works well for you in training, and duplicate that on race day.
  • Having said, that you still have to be flexible and have a back-up plan.  Your sweat rate, and electrolyte and caloric needs, will vary significantly with the temperature.  On a very warm day, you’re going to need more water and electrolytes than normal.  On a very cold day, you’re going to need more calories than normal (because you’re having to burn extra to keep your core warm).  So be ready to make the necessary adjustments once we know what the conditions will be like on September 7th. 
  • Along those lines, one thing many of you should consider — and nearly everyone should consider on a warm day — is some sort of electrolyte supplement (often referred to as “salt tabs”).  Maintaining a high electrolyte balance is critical to avoiding cramping, especially late in the day.  The more you tend to sweat, the more important it becomes to replace not only the water you’re losing but also the sodium, potassium, and other nutrients you’re losing as well.  Endurance House has several good options to choose from, so take a look next time you’re in the store.

Race Day Pacing

  • When you’re doing an Ironman, the most important thing to keep in mind is that YOU’RE DOING AN IRONMAN!  Whether you’re planning on finishing in 10 hours or 17 hours, it’s a long day out there.  As great as you’re going to be feeling in the first half of the bike, you have to consciously remember to hold back and be patient.  By the half-way point of the bike, your still only about one-third of the way done in terms of total time.
  • The goal should be to do the second half of the bike as fast as the first half.  Not only is this the most efficient and fastest way to race from a physiological standpoint, but it’s also the most beneficial from a psychological standpoint.  As fast as some people might fly by you during the first 56 miles, you’re going to be doing exactly the same thing to them during the second half of the bike, and that’s going to give you a huge mental boost as you start the run.
  • As far as the run goes, there’s no question that starting the marathon after 112 miles on the bike is going to feel very daunting.  The key is to just take it one step at a time.  Tell yourself that you’re not running a marathon, you’re just running ot the next mile marker, or the next aid station, or the next point you’ll see your family.  Before you know it, you’ll be making the second turn onto Martin Luther King to hear those famous four words:  YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

As always, please contact any of the Team Captains if you have any specific questions or concerns with anything discussed above, or any other Ironman-related topics!

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Well, Old Man Winter has finally given way to the balmy days of spring.  Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and . . . . ahhh, who are we kidding.  This is March in Wisconsin, and any hopes of doing the bike portion of our Block II triathlon outdoors were pretty much snuffed out back in mid-January.  Even if it was warm enough to ride outdoors, the roads just aren’t in good enough shape for a group ride, let alone one at a high effort level, so for safety reasons we’ll stick to our trainers for what hopefully will be one of our last Saturday indoor sessions.

The plan for the triathlon is updated on the Team Events page.  It will work much like Block I, with a swim in Middleton Pool beginning at 8:00 am — this time for 1500 yards, followed by a 75 minute ride on our trainers at Endurance House and a 10K run through Middleton (see the map link on the Team Events page so you know the route!).

If anyone is interested in an earlier start “reverse” triathlon beginning with a 75 minute ride at Endurance House at 6:30 am and finishing with the swim at Middleton at approximately 9:00 am, please e-mail me.

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Congratulations to Pat Gallagher who successfully completed the Mardi Gras Marathon in 4:28:13 this morning! Awesome job for his first attempt at running 26.2 miles — and especially for a guy who, prior to joining the Becoming an Ironman Team, had never run more than 5 miles!  I’m sure Pat will give up the full details soon — check his blog for a forthcoming race report.

Unfortunately, Pat’s trip to New Orleans caused him to miss our Saturday team workout, meaning that Stephanie is our new leader for consecutive workout attendance. Don’t worry, Pat — you can start a new streak next weekend . . .

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For those interested in a great training opportunity for Ironman – and a great capstone event to Block III – registration for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds opens tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9:00 am. Click here for a link to the registration site. [Note: if you want to do this ride, you have to register within minutes of registration opening. It is almost certain to be full by 10:00 am.]

For those unfamiliar with this event, it is a 124 mile ride over just about every big hill in southwestern Wisconsin — a total of over 14,000 feet of climbing (the website says 10,700, but this is using slightly less accurate technology) and 40 “major” hills. The course elevation profile looks like an EKG of a hamster on crack.

The Horribly Hilly is a great way to cap off our Block III endurance training and a huge confidence builder. If you can finish this ride and still be able to walk afterwards, you can finish the Ironman. However, in the event you don’t or can’t register, we’ll plan on having an equally-epic ride scheduled for that weekend, so no one will have to miss out on all the fun!

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The Endurance House staff has just publicly-released information regarding the General Casualty Capitol View Triathlon on June 7, 2008!  Click here to visit the website.

This is going to be a great event, and whether you do the Sprint or Olympic distance, it’s a perfect race and venue to kick off the summer racing season.  Best of all, it’s free for all team members!

Also, as a reminder for those interested in doing the High Cliff Triathlon (half-ironman distance) on June 22, be sure to stop by the store to fill out an entry form sometime during the next couple of weeks.

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Spring Teaser

With the weather starting to get colder, the Team Captains thought you might like a little teaser of the training and racing opportunities we have in store once spring finally arrives. So mark your calendars now!

First, we have an epic training weekend set up over Memorial Day – the capstone of which will be the Madison Marathon, to which all Team Members will be given free entry. For those not interested in running a personal best, the weekend will allow us to do the full Ironman distances of each discipline over the three days, with a 4000m open water swim scheduled for either Friday or Monday, a 112 or 71 mile supported ride on Saturday, and the Madison Marathon or Half-Marathon on Sunday. If you think you need a confidence builder for September, this is it!

Two weeks later, on June 7, is the inaugural version of what is sure to be a staple in the Wisconsin triathlon scene: The 1st Annual Capitol View Triathlon. Jamie has set up a great course in and around the incredible venue of Governor Nelson State Park on the north shore of Lake Mendota. I had the chance to preview the course several weeks ago and was blown away: an open water swim in a protected cove of Lake Mendota, a fast bike course in the rolling hills north of Madison, and unique cross-country style run through wide, groomed, grass trails in the park. And the best part: all Team Members race for free!

Finally, on June 22, we’ll have the chance to test our long-course racing fitness at the High Cliff Triathlon, a half-ironman about two hours northeast of Madison. High Cliff has a great reputation as a competitive but beginner-friendly race. One of the great things is that the swim is in relatively calm water and starts in waves of less than 100 athletes at a time, so it’s not as intimidating of a start as many other longer-distance triathlons. This race will be a great way to kick off Block IV as we enter the final 12-week push to Ironman Wisconsin!  Endurance House has also arranged for all Team members to receive half-price entry: that means racing for just $45 if you sign up before November 16, and $55 thereafter — that’s the cheapest half-ironman entry fee you’ll find anywhere!

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