Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Top 10 things to remember during IM Boulder

#10. Since January, you've swam over 60 miles, biked more than 2600 miles, and ran over 300 miles.  What's another 140.6?

#9.  Why did cartoon Aquaman shoot parentheses out of his head when he took control of the sea creatures? (Okay not related to Ironman at all but something to think about during the swim). What kind of wetsuit does he wear?

#8.  Keep moving forward.  Sure it's a long day, but that's really all it is.  Keep moving forward and eventually you'll reach the end.

#7.  It's not a 2.4 mile swim (Okay it is), but don't think of it that way.  Take it one buoy at a time.  Enjoy the cool water.  It's bound to get hot as the day goes on.

6.  Colorado is God's Country!   Don't forget to look at the scenery. Especially the  Flatirons,   a beautiful and iconic vista in the Boulder Valley.

5. This is way more fun that sitting on the trainer doing intervals!

4. Running shoes feel surprisingly good after wearing bike shoes for 112 miles.

3.  There are three lovely ladies waiting to see you halfway through the Marathon!

2. Boulder is a Beer Mecca.  There will be Beer at the end of the race!

1. HTFU.  You signed up for this.  It's fun!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The IM Boulder Plan

There are approximately 9 days remaining until IM Boulder.  Hard to believe after the last several months of training that it's finally here.  I've started to taper now there are just a few workouts left to do.  For the most part, these are designed to keep me active and make sure I don't feel too rusty going into the race.  "The Hay is in the Barn" so to speak, so I will present my IM Boulder Plan for the race. Generally, I create a fairly extensive and detailed race plan.  Although IM Boulder is the longest race to date, it's going to be my shortest write up in terms of a plan.  IM Boulder plans to be a long day and so the strategy is fairly simple: Keep moving forward and don't overdo anything.  I want to keep it simple, so that it's easier to remember come race day:

1) Finish.  This is really the only thing that matters. If I am faster, great.  If not, that's okay too.  I just want to cross the finish line and call myself an Ironman.
2) Have Fun.  This seems strange, but I'm really going to seek to take it all in.  I know that there will be some "darker moments" along the way, but the race is my reward for all of the hard work that I've put in during the last year. If you can't enjoy it, why even do it?

A note on Epic, Great, Good, Average performance ratings: I'm leaving these out for Ironman for a few reasons:
1) It's too difficult to predict the impact that an "epic" performance in one area will have on another aspect of the race.  For example, if I swim the course in 1hr, 10 min that would be an "epic" performance on the swim to be sure.  However, if that causes me to have a 7 hour bike ride and a 6 hour marathon, then I haven't really gained anything.  Is it really "epic" then?
2) I've simply never done anything like this.
3) Just finishing will be an epic performance for me.

What I can do is estimate a range of time in which I expect to finish.  Allowing for  20 minutes of transition, aid station/ special needs stops, and based on the training I've done this year, with all other things being equal, I would anticipate that my finish will be somewhere between 12.5 to 14.5 hours.

1) Finish the swim somewhere between 1:15 & 1:35.
2) Concentrate on getting into a steady and easy rhythm.  This is a long swim and I will save energy by staying relaxed and concentrating on a solid technique. The sooner I get the "routine" going, the less energy I'll expend.
2) Complete the swim feeling "good" (meaning that I haven't expended all of my energy).

1) Finish the bike somewhere between 5:50 & 6:30.  This should be well within my comfort range based on the previous rides I've done this year.
2) Remember to take it easy at the beginning of the race.  The desire will be to "hurry" in the early part of the ride.  I have to fight this urge and focus more on getting a steady rhythm and pace going.  It will be deceptively easy to feel like I can go faster early on in the race, but that will be wasted energy.  Better to be a touch slower on the bike and have a stronger run, than to have a speedy bike split and blow up on the run.
3) Remember to hydrate and take nutrition throughout the ride.  Stopping to refuel (or even a pit stop) won't make a big difference in the final outcome.

1) Finish the run sometime between 4:30 & 6:00.  There's a wide variety of time there, but based on the running I've done, I think this is where I will shake out.
2) Don't push too hard at the beginning of the race.  It will be tempting to run stronger at the beginning, especially if I feel good off of the bike.  But it will be better to save that energy for later in the run.  If I feel great after 20 miles then by all means, I'll give myself permission to go for it.  More likely however, is that I'll be exhausted and I will be thankful for any additional energy I've managed to conserve earlier on.
3) Stay hydrated and stay cool.  No telling what the weather will be like.   Keeping temps down will be a major factor in my overall performance.

That's it. The plan (as it is) for Ironman Boulder!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

21 Days to Boulder and the L.B.B. (Last Big Brick)

21 Days to Go!  Yesterday I completed my last big brick workout leading up to Ironman.  It was definitely my "longest" workout of the year taking a little under 8 hours to complete.  Part one was a full 112 miles on the bike.  I broke this into two sections, the first was a 56 mile ride out to the end of the test track and back.  On the return trip, I ran into some construction traffic, and while it was only in the last 5 miles, it was enough to send me out the other direction after stopping back at the house for a bit of water and more Gatorade.
The second half of the ride was definitely tougher.  I was battling a fairly strong headwind through most of the first 30 miles which impacted both my time and my attitude.  I also began to worry about whether or not I'd thought through enough nutrition/ hydration.  This concern only increased when I found myself at 76 miles with no water and a half bottle of Gatorade.  I realized that the temperature had jumped considerably since earlier in the morning and so now I was drinking more fluids than previously.  For a few minutes, I considered bagging the rest of the ride and heading back to the house, but then the silver lining appeared to me.  Even though my ride wasn't ideal, I was getting the perfect opportunity to see how I could adapt and push through uncomfortable and unexpected situations.  Using the day as an opportunity, I figured that the worst case scenario would be to discover what not to do.   I stuck with it and rode 25 more miles, pushing steadily into the wind until I got to a gas station where I could stop and purchase more hydration.  My choice was a bottled water and an ice cold can of Coca Cola.  I must say that both of those tasted absolutely fantastic after 102 miles of riding! (Note: I would highly recommend keeping five dollars handy in your repair kit.  There have been countless times where I've appreciated being able to buy a couple of items while out on a ride. Credit cards are good too, but not accepted everywhere as compared to cash).  After about 6 hours and 30 minutes of riding (including about 10 minutes where I stopped), I made it back home and got ready for part two of the workout.
Details from the Bike!
After five minutes at home, I headed back out the door for a six mile run.  It was the heat of the day (temps in the upper 80's/ low 90's and little shade) and the perfect opportunity to assess how I would feel running after such a long bike ride.  It's kind of funny  but it actually felt really good to slip out of my cycling shoes and into a pair of running shoes.  The run felt really good despite the heat.  I tried to pay attention to my heart rate and while I couldn't keep it super low, I was able to run at a comfortable pace and averaged right around 10 minute miles.  This included a walk break of 1 minute which I took at every half mile and one mile point along the run (simulating my strategy for the race).  I did two loops for the run which allowed me to have an "aid station" at the 3 mile mark.  I took plenty of time on this break (probably 4 minutes) to drink plenty of fluids and to hydrate (Tip: Wet a hand towel, place it in a zip lock, and place it in the freezer the night before a long run in hot weather. Very nice to have available during or after the run).
Run Details
After six miles of running (about an hour), I finished my workout very satisfied.  I felt like I could go further, but don't get me wrong, I was plenty happy to be finished!  Here are a few takeaways from the workout:
  1. Fuel early and often: I was tempted to skip some nutrition during the early part of the bike.  I had to remind myself I was fueling for later in the day and not just in the moment.
  2. Push through the dark places: Initially, I got frustrated when the ride wasn't going as well as I wanted.  But in the end, there was maybe a twenty minute difference in the outcome.  I certainly hope to have a better ride during Ironman, but if I don't, I now know that it won't be the end of the world.
  3. Look forward to the run: I think the conventional attitude with the IM run is to dread it.  A survival state of mind takes hold.  To me it felt really good to start running after that long ride.  I'm going to approach it with the thought of how awesome it's going to feel to start running after riding for so long.
  4. Hydration, hydration, hydration:  Before I began the workout yesterday, my scale read 168.9 lbs.  During the ride I consumed several water bottles and I probably drank an additional 50 oz. of fluid during the run and when I was finished (not to mention the Gatorade Endurance and the Coke).  Other than the 25 miles with minimal fluid, I was literally sipping something almost all day long.   After working out, but before I jumped in the shower, I weighed myself again.  160.8 lbs.  That means I lost a total of about 8 lbs. minimum during the workout and probably a bit more considering that I did take in a fair amount of fluid all day long.  
With 21 days to go, I'll start to dial it back a little.  Next week my wife and I will be in sunny Mexico to celebrate 20 years of marriage.  I will use this as an opportunity to do some OWS and while the ocean isn't quite the same as the Boulder reservoir, I will get to practice some longer distances as well as swimming without lane lines and markers.  I've purchased a safe swim buoy which will be fun to try.  I also plan to fit in one more long run while we're there and spend a little bit of time on spin bike in the fitness center.   The timing isn't the best, but it will also prevent me from going crazy and doing a ton of volume.

When we return, I still have a couple of "run off the bike" workouts, but at that point there will only be a couple of weeks to go so I'll be more into taper mode. I will do some of these at a higher intensity than Ironman pace.  But what I'll really be working on is being well rested and mentally prepared.  Psychological preparation hasn't been a topic I've discussed much to this point, but I will have a post or two in the upcoming weeks dedicated to that.  As usual, I will also post my race plan as I prepare for the big event.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Steamboat Tri Camp

With just over a month to go until Ironman Boulder, I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a training camp in Steamboat Springs.  The camp provided an opportunity to do some focused and intense workouts and definitely allowed me to push thresholds a bit.  There was also a great deal of information provided that will help with race execution on August 2nd.
I met my older brother at his home on Thursday and we made the 3 hour drive up to Steamboat.  I've been to Steamboat a number of times, but my last visit was probably about 7 or 8 years ago.  If you've never been to Steamboat Springs, I highly recommend it.  It's a very active mountain town, but lacks the pretentiousness of many Colorado Resorts.  There are numerous activities ranging from hiking to tubing, to cycling of course.  And there is also a great variety of dining and craft beer options.  In short, everything an athletic family would want.
We arrived at our condominium that first evening and met up with a couple of the event organizers.  Justin, is my brother's coach and he was joined by Larry, another athlete and coach from the Denver area.  This was the first year that they'd done the camp so it really wound up being just my brother and I.  It was a great opportunity to pilot some things, which was great for us.  A lot of personalized attention and support throughout the camp.
On Friday morning, we awoke early and headed down to the Old Town Hot Springs.  I had actually been to this pool before but it had been over thirty years earlier (a lot more water sliding back then!).  On this morning, we were meeting up with one of the local triathlon clubs to do a swim workout.  The purpose of the workout was to get some practice in around open water swimming.  The lane lines were removed and three buoys were placed in the water in a triangular pattern.  Over the next hour we worked on a variety of drills including sighting, short sprints, buoy turns, etc.  I was having quite a bit of trouble with my goggles unfortunately and they kept leaking.  Nevertheless, I got a lot out of the workout in terms of practicing some open water swimming skills.  We wrapped up after an hour and headed for a quick breakfast.  I'm always amazed how the absence of lane lines can so easily derail one's rhythm and comfort in the water.
A few hours after our swim, we were standing at the base of the mountain at Steamboat, preparing for our run up to the gondola station on Steamboat's main ski mountain.  This run would include a mix of interval work that would really push our VO2 max.  After a short 15 minute warm-up, we did our first set of intervals which consisted of two minutes of running followed by a minute of recovery walking.  We repeated this again a few times.   After a short break, the second set of intervals was a bit more challenging.  The interval time grew to four minutes followed by two minutes of recovery.
Although we only did a couple of sets here, I was definitely feeling it by the end of the second interval.  My HR hit 171 at one point during the run which hasn't happened in a long, long time.  The rest of the run was done at a moderate pace and I took it fairly easy considering that we still had another full day on Saturday.  All told, we ran up and down the mountain and covered a bit under eight miles.  With that, our first day of training camp was done.  The rest of the day was dedicated to lunch, napping, dinner, and a quick visit to the Twisted Trails Running Store downtown.  While there, I picked up a couple of Picky Bars (delicious) and some GU gels.  At the store, I had a chance to say hello to Heather Gollnick.  She is a recently retired professional triathlete that lives in Steamboat and she was working on packet distribution for a series of Triathlons that were taking place over the weekend in Steamboat.
What goes up . . . must come down (Elevation Map of the Gondola Run)
On Saturday morning, we got ready for the day's workouts.  The session for the day was really a brick workout that would consist of a 50ish mile bike ride with plenty of climbing opportunities followed by a short 30 minute run with some fairly intense intervals.  We set out from the "Taco Bell" parking lot near the condo, and headed along a back road and trail to the other side of the town.  Once there, we turned west and headed out of town.  The countryside in the Yampa Valley and surrounding area is pristine to say the least.  We cruised along a stretch of gently rolling hills for several miles.  These eventually gave way to a gradual climb that was maybe a mile or so in length.  I worked to maintain a steady pace and felt pretty good about how I was feeling at that point in the ride.  As I started down the other side,  I immediately picked up speed.  Not knowing the road at all,  I chose not to bomb down the hill in aero at full speed.  Part way down the hill, I noticed what appeared to be a turkey (it was actually a grouse) bumbling across the road.
Don't want to hit one of these while riding!
It was very apparent that our paths were going to cross.  Fortunately, it turned and went back in the original direction it had come from.  We continued riding for several miles (my brother dealt with a couple of flat tires) until we reached the "focal point" of our ride, the Three Sisters.  This consisted of three extended climbs over the next 10 miles or so.  Each of the climbs was somewhere between one to two miles in length.  I started up the first hill and immediately moved out of aero position.  I wasn't rocketing up the hills, but I felt a lot stronger climbing than I have in a long time.  I managed to keep a pace of around 8.5 to 9 mph up each of them.  By the time I reached the third climb, I was still feeling very good so I worked to push the effort a bit more up that hill.  I continued feeling strong on the ride and arrived back at our starting point a bit ahead of the others (due to the previously mentioned mechanicals).  I decided to double back and get in a few extra miles rejoining my brother after a handful of miles.
Immediately after the ride, we did a quick transition and started our interval run.  With the midday heat, and the previous workouts, this was very challenging.  The first portion had us run off the bike at 105% effort for the first five minutes.  It took everything I had to run hard and I was very thankful when those five minutes were up.  After another five of recovery, we did a set of 3 minute efforts with 2 minute recoveries.  Each one of these became increasingly more difficult to maintain, and my heart rate soared.  Still, I managed to hang in there, and the thirty minute run felt mercifully short.  Once done, we wandered gingerly down to the river, and spent a few minutes soaking our tired legs in the water.

Essentially, that was the last workout of the camp.  After lunch, my brother and I found our way to the Butcher Knife Brewing Company where we enjoyed a sampling of their beers.  While I generally tend toward the IPA styles, their Buzzcock Mild Ale was a pleasant surprise. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the neighborhood.
That evening, we had a briefing on  Ironman Boulder. It was an extensive presentation that included everything from what to do during race week, all the way up to strategies to apply during the ride.  I appreciated the detail and it made me feel well prepared for the upcoming race next month.
This camp was a great experience.  I learned a lot about the race as well as some new things about training and nutrition.  It was really good to be able to speak with some experts about what to expect and to get their insight into the experience.  The camp also wrapped up the month of training.  With a month to go, I feel like the training is really starting to come together.  I put in over 500 miles on the bike this past month and I'm feeling really comfortable with the longer rides.  In fact, I've put so many miles on in the last 3 months (around 1200 or so) that I decided it was time to get some new tires on the bike.  Here's how the rig is looking these days:

Thanks or Reading!