Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The true cost of an Ironman

I look forward to my Tuesday training because I’m coming off of a rest day and my motivation is high. This Tuesday my schedule called for a brick workout of 25 miles on the bike followed by a 5 mile run. Having a full time job and full time relationships compresses your schedule and every free minute you have is committed to training, eating, and sleeping. The schedule is always tight but doable. I leave work Tuesday a little later than I wanted but that’s OK, these June days are longer. I get home change in to my gear, set up my transition in the garage for my run and I’m off. Halfway in to my ride with my head down in the aero bars I hit a rock that goes thru my sidewall. It’s repairable, I swap tubes get my CO2 out and while filling the tire my CO2 valve fails on me. I have maybe 60PSI in my tire. Determined, I finish my ride (at a much slower speed) get home and change in to my running shoes. I’m now way behind schedule. The smart thing to do is to cut my workout short…but is that the smart thing to do? I’m doing an Ironman! I finish my run get home and by the time I sit down to eat it’s 9 PM. After eating, I shower, log my workouts, ice my achilles, eat again and by the time I’m ready for bed it’s now 11:30PM and I’ve spent no real time with my wife. I’m ready to go to sleep because I get up early on Wednesdays to do my swim workout before work but my wife wants to spend time with me, talking about our days and having some time of intimacy. I put on my best eyes half open attentive face to give my wife the time she desires. While she talks, all I can think about is how staying up late is going to impact my workouts tomorrow (swim/ repeats on the track) and my ability to finish an Ironman. She gets frustrated, I’m frustrated and then it hits me…I’ve already lost perspective.

Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. 1 John 2:16

If you are attempting your first Ironman or maybe you’ve finished multiple Ironman events. Remember to keep your perspective. Keep your focus on God, your wife, your children. When you’ve left this world the Ironman finishers medal will mean nothing. Keep the focus on things eternal and praise God everyday that he has blessed you with the support and ability to do an Ironman.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Morale is high. God is good! This past week of training looks very similar to my previous weeks training with the exception of my longer swim workouts. I wanted to build some base and work on my stroke mechanics before I started increasing distance in my workouts. I didn’t want to experience the shoulder pain I experienced after the Half Ironman in March that I think was mostly related to poor mechanics. I’ve found out that sore shoulders are very common in swimmers and the only solution is improved mechanics and exercises to increase shoulder strength… and rest. For the next four weeks I will be doing 1,300 yards then increase to 1,500 yards and eventually 2,000 yards. Swimming improvement comes in very tiny increments especially without coaching…and no coach has you swimming only twice a week which is what I’m doing. For Ironman I just need to beat the swim cutoff of 2:15:00. Based on my Half Ironman I feel I can do a 1:40:00 with my training plan. The first goal is to finish.
Although the past two weeks seemed relatively easy as far as training goes, all of that is changing the next two weeks as both my running and biking mileage will be increasing. I will be doing bricks after my long Saturday ride again and my Sunday runs will be increasing to 12 and 13 miles. There is plenty of work still to be done! Here are last week’s numbers.


TUESDAY- Brick. Bike 1:00. Run 4 miles.
WEDNESDAY - Swim 1,300 yds. Run. Track workout 6.25 miles.
THURSDAY - Bike 1:00 with hills.
FRIDAY - Swim 1,250 yds.
SATURDAY - Ride 2:09 (38 miles).
SUNDAY - Run 10 miles followed by a :45 minute bike.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I usually have a great workout on Tuesday after taking a day off but not so last Tuesday. I made the mistake of not eating enough before and during my workout. I felt terrible and my heartrate was all over the place. Be sure to eat right during the day (hard to do sometimes when you are at work) and eat your fuel of choice during your workout. (GU for me) On Wednesday I made sure I managed my nutrition properly and had a good swim and a great track workout running my last mile at 7:43 with an 80% effort. What is encourageing to me is I'm 10 weeks in to my training and the majority of the workouts I'm doing are done at 75% of my max heartrate which is an easy number to hit, especially during a 10 mile run. Despite these relativly easy workouts I'm seeing and feeling the improvement in fitness.

TUESDAY- Brick. Bike 1:01 Run 4.5 miles.
WEDNESDAY - Swim 1,000 yds. Track workout w/mile repeats total 5.5 miles.
THURSDAY - Bike 1:01 with hills.
FRIDAY - Swim 1,000 yds.
SATURDAY - Ride 2:48 (52 miles).
SUNDAY - Run 10 miles followed by a :45 minute bike.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day

Today my training plan called for a 10 mile run followed by a :45 minute bike. This day of training I dedicate to my father William Howard Clarke who I lost on September 4th 1981. I know that I owe so much of my endurance and ability to over come pain to my father. Two stories come to mind about my dad's strength in these areas...countless miles we spent hiking down cliffs to a secluded beach in Mexico to get a prime SCUBA diving spot. My father would carry his equipment and half of mine up and down these rugged paths that were carved in to the cliffs. We would do our dive, relax on the beach together and then we would hike back up the cliff with my dad again carrying most of the gear.
The other story is the 4th of July my father had a handful of sparklers ignite in his hand. They literally burned in to his hand as he tried to shake the off. He was so calm about it and at first was not going to see a doctor for his third degree burns. Amazing. I love you dad. Thank you for the many gifts you have given me.
Me and dad above in 1961. On the right is dad and I circa 1979. Yes that's my real hair!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rejoice in our sufferings.

Today I turned 50 years old. This day has deep significance to me as I reflect back on my life. I'm not one to want to celebrate my birthday or even tell people it's my birthday but today is different. Today I'm celebrating this day that God has given me because I used to live in fear that I would never see 50 years. It wasn't because I've suffered illness or disease, quite the opposite actually. God has blessed me with a healthy strong body all of my life. This day is special because I made it to a day of longevity that no one else in my immediate family has seen before me. My mother was the first, succumbing to breast cancer at the age of 39. My brother a few years later at the age of 13 in an accident. Then my father in an accident some 16 years later at the age of 49. I was 21 when my father was tragically killed and often haunted by nightmares of being from a cursed family destined to die before my time. Today is so different from the nightmares of my past. Today I have the knowledge of a Holy and Righteous God. I'm not cursed, on the contrary. I look back and see how God has used my life circumstances to draw me nearer to Him, His grace and His promise for me and my life. The same promise he offers to anyone who chooses to seek Him out. I love what Paul says in Romans.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I rejoice in my sufferings because God has never disappointed me.
As I train for Ironman Arizona I know there will be more suffering followed by a sense of joy when I reflect back on the experience and how it's shaped my life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


This week I adjusted my schedule to accommodate the race on Thursday. My swim on Friday morning was hard after a tough race Thursday evening. I wanted to quit early but still did my 1,000 yards. I'm glad that I didn't have a brick workout on Saturday so I could recover further for my long Sunday run. My running is improving and on Saturday I rode my new race bike instead of my triathlon bike on the usual Saturday group ride I do and my bike fitness is also improving nicely. It was nice to take a "break" this week and do a tough race.
Here are the numbers for this week.

TUESDAY- Brick. Bike 1:01 Run 4 miles.

WEDNESDAY - Bike 1:01 with hills.

THURSDAY - Swim 1,000
yds. Peters Canyon Trail Race 5 miles.
FRIDAY - Swim 1,000
SATURDAY - Ride 3:01 (55 miles).

SUNDAY - Run 8.5 miles followed by a :40 minute bike.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

RACE REPORT - Peters Canyon Trail Run #1

Competition... without it, the well of focused training begins to run dry. I hit my stopwatch to start another 10 mile run followed by a 15 mile bike all at 75% or less of my max heart rate and I wonder if I'm really improving on my fitness when one long run feels just like the last long run. Fortunately the first competition on my race schedule was coming up and though it was only a 5 mile run (no biking or swimming this day) it's a course that has nearly 1,000 feet of elevation gain in those 5 miles. A great opportunity to see where my run fitness is at. I was joined by my wife Liz and our neighbor Susanna. The weather was perfect for running, overcast and cool. This race is a great well organized small event (400 runners) that runs through a wilderness park near our house. A post race BBQ is served to deserving runners after a hard run. The course is mostly on fire roads with some single track and each race of the series they alternate the course to run clockwise or counter clockwise. Today they would run the race counter clockwise which I feel is the harder direction. The reason, it puts all of the hard climbing at the front of the race and I just don't feel warmed up after only one mile before the climbing starts.
The gun went off and I settled in to a hard but controlled tempo to warm up. My goal was to run hard but not all out and see if I could beat my PR for this course from last year. If my training is on track for Ironman I should...but you never know. Last year at this race I injured my hamstring so I didn't want to treat this as an all out race for fear of another hamstring injury. On the hilly part of the course I managed to catch some runners who were ahead of me. I looked at my watch with 1.5 miles to go and knew I was running well. My final official time was 42:42 beating my previous best on this course by over three minutes. What did I learn from this race? My training plan is working. All of the base mileage runs keeping my HR under control are paying off. Now I can refocus on my training knowing I'm going to reap the benefits at my next competition.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Since my last post I did have to fight off a sore throat and slight cold that limited my training to some degree. I also took some time off work to get extra rest that I needed. The training that was impacted the most were my swim workouts. When you can't breath and have a sore throat, getting in a pool and swimming laps just isn't fun. Thankfully my cold was short lived and I'm back in the pool and have had a solid week of training. At this point I'm not too concerned with my swim training, but I will start increasing the length of my swim workouts by the end of this month. I keep reminding myself that the swim is only 10 -15% of my overall Ironman time so its more important to focus on the bike (my strength?) and the run. Here are my numbers from last week. I plan on posting my workouts every Monday so you can get a glimpse of what it takes to be an Ironman. I'm realizing now that one of the most important aspects of training for an Ironman is proper sleep. For me that seems to be 8 hours. Challenging when you're married to a beautiful younger woman.

TUESDAY- Brick. Bike 1:15 Run 4 miles.
WEDNESDAY - Swim 1,000 yds. Run 6.5 miles
THURSDAY - Bike 1:00 with hills.
FRIDAY - Swim 1,000 yds.
SATURDAY - Brick. Ride 2:45 (52 miles) Run 4 miles.
SUNDAY - Run 9 miles followed by a :45 minute bike.