Back to where this whole mess started, Duluth and Grandma's marathon. Thanks to Drew, my old college ROOMMATE I got bamboozled into running while at UMD. I can spare you the details but obviously it involved a girl and we were signed up for a 5k or 5 mile run before we even knew what was going on. Can't remember the exact distance but I do remember how the training started. "Let's run to the next light pole and walk," was what our training plan consisted of. On the Lake Walk in Canal Park, that was probably like 1/10th of a mile only! That initial 5k or 5 mile whatever it was turned into 10k, 10 mile and half marathons. THen came marathons and a few years ago a sprint triathlon. Now I have 22 marathons, 19 half marathons, 5 70.3 IRONMANs and 2 140.6 IRONMANs under my belt, woof!
The night before tradition or maybe just due to SUPERSTITION had me enjoying a cheeseburger and beer at Tavern on the Hill up by UMD. Between the memories and the fact that it was cheap I was staying at the dorms at UMD for race weekend. Sure enough, got to stay in Griggs, the same building I stayed at freshman year! After enjoying the burger and beer it was time to get some sleep. It's amazing what a rested body can do! The real perk of staying at the dorm was they had a shuttle leave right from UMD and took us to the start in Two Harbors so I got to sleep in as long as possible. Think I boarded the bus around 6am and proceeded to take a nap on the ride up the old highway. Not because I was tired but I can't stand how people talk before the race. It's always the same crap. "My training didn't go well" or "I pulled/twisted my whatever last week" or the famous "I signed up when I was Drunk" those stories make me want to vomit! Like respect the distance, run with guts or just stay home people. Ok, little harsh. Just embrace the fact that running 26.2 miles sucks and is painful but crossing that finish line makes up for EVERYTHING!!!
Pre race jitters or nerves don't really exist after 20+ marathons so I get to spend my morning just chilling out and trusting my training and experience. While others are having panic attacks over the crazy long lines for the porta potty, I just hang out in the corner of the Sonju parking lot and line my ass up in the corral. As we wrapped up the National Anthem, for the first time in a few years we got a special treat. We had a few F-16 fighter jets fly over the race course as part of the 148th Fighter Wing AKA "Bulldogs" which was pretty flippin' cool!
The race started and after running about 3 miles I realized I made the mistake wearing too much clothes! Rather than creating a tripping hazard, I just pulled off the side and threw off one of my shirts and tried to spot the 3:30 pacer with no luck. I knew that pace was a 8 minute mile so I figured if I just ran about 7:50 miles I would eventually catch up, no need to chase them down right away. Even then, I really didn't look at my Garmin, rather just kept chipping away at runners knowing that If I kept gradually passing people, I would find the 3:30 pack.
Around mile 10 or so my legs were already on fire and tighter than tight. I tried to change up my form and focus more on my quads and just kept chugging away. I knew I would become tired or short of breath, that is never the issue with the amount of training and racing. It is always the soreness and over use that bites me in the ass. This put me in a spot to just find and maintain the 3:30 group through mile 20 and just see where things went. At this point we are basically at the outskirts of Duluth and it is the start of the frat and sorority housing. For those Grandma's newbies, that equals the part of the race course that you have the opportunity to drink a beer or take a shot if you want to. Back to the whole tradition and superstitious thing, of course I took a quick drink and proceeded to chase down that bridge and finish line.
I hadn't looked at my Garmin more than a few times the whole race and to be honest, never looked at the time, just my pace. At mile 25 as we went down a slight downhill by the depot I glanced at my time. Sure shit it was 3:21 and some change with just over a mile to go. I hard a forking chance at a PR! Legs were toast and we had a head wind off the harbor and every part of me wanted to coast in. I used every once of energy I had and pushed a sub 7:40 pace for the last mile to sneak in at 3:29:42! Not only a marathon PR but a sub 3:30 marathon! I had been chasing a sub 4 hour marathon for years and there it was, attempt number 22 that brought a sub 3:30!!! It may only be by a few seconds but who forking cares, I sure don't.
I hadn't gone on a long run since Fargo Marathon, maybe 16 or so miles was the longest. Some more speed runs and...IRONMAN Wisonsin 70.3 two weeks prior. Not your typical training plan at all. If you ever want training advice from someone, just don't do what I do. Like, I feel like I could write a book on what not to do in regards to training. In a 5 week span, I ran Fargo Marathon, IRONMAN Wisconsin 70.3 and Grandmas Marathon. Fargo I broke my PR my 13 minutes, at Madison I broke my 70.3 PR by 22 minutes and then got my sub 3:30 at Grandmas. Only explanation I have is my body performs well off of burgers and beer.
BLAKE'S RECIPE FOR SUCESS: CONSUME BURGERS & BEER AND RUN WITH GUTS AND YOUR HEART WHEN YOUR BODY BECOMES WEAK. EMBRACE THE SUCK AND RACE WITH A SMILE.
Kudos to: Tribe Racing, Wattie Ink Hit Squad, Garmin, Jake's Bikes, Asics and all those people who know I'm crazy and still support me anyways!
Not really sure what the big race is this year. IMWI70.3, Grandmas Marathon or heck, maybe an upcoming full IRONMAN?! Regardless, last weekend was IRONMAN Wisconsin 70.3, a race I really enjoy even with that brutal bike course. While the lenghy winter kept training to a minimum on the bike, I was still feeling pretty good about this idea due to past performances and my continued PR's.
I took a piece of advice from jerry on this book RECOMMENDATION, Mike Reilly's Finding my Voice. It made the 6 hour drive to Madison fly by and was a killer book. I got close to finishing it on the way to Mad town and parts of it darn near brought tears to my eyes. i got to my hotel and quickly unloaded my stuff and took off on a little run to shake off the car legs. For once, I was going to lay low and focus on getting rest. Saturday was check in day and bike drop off day. I did the whole athlete check in routine and hit up the athlete briefing as well. While it isn't exactly my first rodeo, I feel obligated to attend the meeting just incase some crazy piece of information is given out.
With all the crazy fit people roaming around IRONMAN village I got the itch to go on a run so I went to grab some running clothes at my hotel along with Stealth to check in later. A quick 3 mile jog along the run route and I was ready to rock on race day! After last years debacle of forgetting my nutrition on the bike, I made sure I packed some Cliff Bloks as i racked my bike. After giving Stealth a once over, I told her to get some sleep and I was off to get some food and hit the sack nice and early. Yes, I decided a cheeseburger and Spotted Cow was going to be the recipe for success.
Luckily for us, a few days of normal temps brought the water temps up to almost normal. They told us the water was near 70 degrees and to me, it felt pretty warm after the ice bath at Buffalo. I lined up and was off in the water...I hate the swimming portion! I used to say just survive the swim and make up for it on the bike and run. While, after the events that took place that morning, I'll have to find a new statement. During the swim portion, two athletes were pulled from the water. Sadly, one lost thier life at the race and the other athlete later passed at the hospital. It's a little wierd that now when you Google IRONMAN Wisconsin trying to find your results, the first thing to show up is tragic news headlines. With that, back to the race. I exited the water and took a quick glance at the Garmin and realized I was about 3 minutes faster than last year which was exciting! I quick stop with the wetsuit strippers and off to T1!
Bike helmet, bike shoes and a quick granola bar and off for a little bike ride. As I left transition, I got a short sighting of a friend and that always gives you a litle boost! You really couldn't ask for a better day so far. It was partly cloudy and calm for the swim and now that it was about 8am it was still calm but a few rain clouds hanging around. THe first few miles consist of a bike trail leaving the park and then off to farm country. You eventually stop counting red barns and cows and focus on those stupid annoying hills! The thing with hills is that when you climb one, you get to go down right? Well this course is cruel and basically every big climb is followed by a down hill that consist of a 90 degree turn shortly after so any speed you gain is quickly turned into heavy breaking. What this consist of is a 56 mile course with 3,300 feet of elevation according to my Garmin. My legs would agree with that data and I just love seeing T2 at madison! ANother peek at the Garmin and I had gained just over 1 MPH average gain from last years bike so I knew I was sitting good going into the run.
Running is obviously my strongest part of the triathlon and coming off a huge PR at Fargo, I was ready to lay down a good half marathon time. The run course is great at Madison, just a loop around the lake that offers some decent views to keep you motivated. While it is mostly flat, you have the occasional annoying hill to light the legs on fire. Throughout the run I slowly picked off runner after runner. About 3 miles into the run I came up on a guy who looked like a serious athlete and we ran the same pace for about 3 more miles. We spoke a few words and I could tell he was in the hurt locker and out of gas and he slowly drifted off pace and I pushed on doing my best to average 8 minute miles. After hitting the 10 mile mark it was easy sailing with just a little 5k left to the finish line and what I believed would be a PR. I rounded the last corner and of course, the biggest hill on the whole run course was just before the finish line. All I have to say is thank God for those spectators and that magical red carpet to help with the final push. Sadly, these 70.3 races don't get the PRIVILEGE of having Mike Reilly announcing but it is still just as rewarding finishing these races. It's something one could never possibly explain to someone else unless they have experienced it for themself. Months of training, numerous sacrifices and hours of racing all come to an end with that medal being placed around your neck.
So, with that little swim, bike and run action I crossed the finsih line 22 minutes quicker than the previous year and earned myself a new IRONMAN 70.3 PR of 5:36:53. It's been a roller coaster the past few months so having a successful race is so flippin' rewarding. To stay on the positive note, the Wattie Ink kit was killer! I am beyond thankful for being able to be part of such an amazing kick ass team. Heather and Sean are really amazing people. Stealth finished her 7th IRONMAN race and worked like a champ thanks to Jake at Jake's bikes. Lastly, continued support from Tribe. Also thanks to all who support this crazy adventure even if you don't understand why we do it. Us triathletes really are a bunch of crazy people. But with that, I will say the multisport community is second to none. Trulyy the nicest group of people I have ever interacted with.
CONCLUSION: BACK TO THOSE ATHLETES WHO LOST THIER LIVES DURING THE RACE. (NEWS STORY HERE) MAY YOUR FAMILIES SOMEHOW FIND PEACE AND REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES. FOR WHATEVER IT IS WORTH, YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT AND PRAYERS OF THE WHOLE MULTISPORT COMMUNITY TO HELP YOU THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME. SOMEDAY, WITH THE COLLECTION OF OUR GARMIN AND STRAVA DATA, THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO PINPOINT WHY THE SWIM PORTION IS SO DEADLY. IT IS CRAZY TO THINK THESE MOSTLY HEALTHY AND FIT PEOPLE ARE HAVING THESE MEDICAL EMERGENCIES. JUST MAKES YOU MORE THANKFUL EACH DAY YOU WAKE UP AND ARE ABLE TO CHASE YOUR DREAMS AND PASSION.
WHAT IS NEXT? IS IT IRONMAN WISCONSIN? HOW ABOUT IRONMAN COZUMEL? IRONMAN ARIZONA NEXT YEAR? TBD SHORTLY!
This post is more than overdue, I'm not sure I'll be able to afford the late fees! But here it is, my past two events rolled into a little blog post. Truth is, after my PR at Rock N Roll Arizona, I haven't had a real training plan or real goals. Life was a little messy to keep it simple and RIDICULOUS amounts of snow and shit weather kept my from riding my bike till a few weeks ago. WIth that, the human body is freaking amazing and CAPABLE of extraordinary things.
I kept the mileage pretty low going into the Fargo Marathon. Sure I ran pretty much all but 5 days the past few months but no crazy long runs. I had been focusing on pace over miles and it was either going to be a brilliant idea or an epic failure. I had cranked out a few half marathon to 15 mile runs with 7 minute miles as my pace. It wasn't until two weeks before Fargo that I had a run of over 20 miles and cranked out an 18 miler the Monday before. You know that word taper...ya, it simply is not in my vocabulary or training plan! So there I was, off to Fargo to enjoy the hospitality of Tiffany and Steve and got a great nights sleep and was off to the Fargo Dome bright and early. As I woke up at 4am all I could see was rain, rain and more rain. Only thing that could be worse is it being cold, well fudge, it was 46 degrees!
The race started in the Fargo Dome so at least we got to be dry and warm for a little bit. I found the 3:30 pacer and you can about image the plan...stick with him as long as possible! Similar to Grandma's, I'm terrible at running with a pacer. I don't like thier water station methods and sure shit I was over hydrated again and made two pit stops along the way. Luckily for me, there were like Formula 1 pit stops and I made up the time easily. What I did manage to do was loose the pacer and it was just my Garmin and I once again. This method is becoming a trend. It workd at Grandma's, would it work in Fargo?
THERE ISN'T A MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT WITH A MARATHON THAT WAS WET, WINDY AND COLD. YOU KIND OF JUST SHUT YOUR BRAIN DOWN AND FOCUS ON PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER TILL YOU SEE THE FARGO DOME COME BACK INTO VIEW. I FELT STRONG BUT ALSO KNEW I HAD PUSHED IT ALMOST TO THE MAX AS MY LEGS WERE ON FIRE, TIGHT AND I JUST WANTED TO BE DONE. WITH THAT, I ENTERED THE FARGO DOME AND ENJOYED THE LAST FEW HUNDRED FEET OF THE COURSE. IT WASN'T WINDY OR WET, WHY COULDN'T WE HAVE RAN THE WHOLE THING INSIDE!? AND ON THIS AWFUL DAY FOR RUNNING, I MANAGED ANOTHER PR, A HUGE PR! 3:30:47 WAS MY TIME.
23 MINUTES FASTER THAN LAST YEAR, 13 MINUTES FASTER THAN ARIZONA. NO PLAN, NO TRAINER, JUST A GUY AND HIS ASICS. THE BEST PART ABOUT THE RACE, THEY GAVE ME THIS REALLY COOL COASTER FOR FINISHING!
Today was the return of the Buffalo Triathlon after a year off. Our beloved sport is seeing a reduction in both participants and events. Luckily a new company has come to the aid and the triathlon scene in central Minnesota should be just fine this summer and for years to come. While financially I shouldn't recommend the sport to anyone, my sport does need help. Triathlon isn't a cheap sport and it takes a huge time COMMITMENT also. The Buffalo Triathlon is special as it was the first event that really started this crazy journey for me. Again, like normal, no plan or training leading up to the race. I had only managed maybe 2 or 3 solid bike rides this year with the weather and with IMWI 70.3 days away, just needed to complete a tri before heading off to Madison. The plan was simple. Get used to an open water swim with a bunch of crazies, test out the bike legs and hold a good 20 MPH pace and then crush the run off the bike. What it turned into was an ice bath for .9 miles followed by a great brick workout! Water temps were mid 60's but race morning and day was picture perfect for us athletes. Buffalo olympic 2:33:24/
It was a great day out there. Not only did I get the dust blown off and the kinks worked out, I got to give the new Wattie kit a fair test and it is forking great! Kudos to Sean and Heather for making world class kits for us and couldn't be more proud to be part of the team. I also got some love from my Tribe peeps and feel good going into madison. I've said it before and will say it again and again. You simply can not find a better group of people to hang out with than these triathletes. Not sure what it is about us but everyone is just overflowing with kindness and support. In times of some rough seas, I'm glad to be back racing.
How long can the PR streak stay alive !?!?
WORK HARD. STAY HUMBLE. A LIFE FILLED WITH SWIM, BIKE & RUN. 5Ks TO MARATHONS, SPRINT TO IRONMAN 140.6