Monday, July 18, 2011

One Ironman's Story

I swear I'm working on the race report from last Sunday's triathlon but those things take lots of time and reflection (and photo/video editing by The Pilot) so in the meantime, I bring you a Ironman story. A bloggerific blogger who I follow, interviewed a Ironman on her blog and I have totally stolen her idea. :) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

A fellow TNT coach recently competed in the Coeur d'Alene Ironman and he completely humored me by answering some meet Andy! (My commentary is in purple. I don't think I can do anything without commentary so I hope Andy doesn't mind. hehe.)

Athlete Profile
# of Triathlons Completed:
Half Ironman 20
Holy smokes, this dude has been busy!

Race Location and Stats
Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene - Idaho - June 26, 2011

Distance: 2.2 Mile Swim; 112 Mile Bike; 26.2 Mile Run (full marathon)
Entrants: 2,500
Finishing Time: 10:17 (I like to refer to this time as BLAZING.)
Breakdown: Swim 1:06 - ; T1 6:00- ; Bike - 5:26 ; T2 2:00- ; Run - 3:33
(Umm....his marathon time is faster than my average 1/2 marathon time.)
Finishing Stats: overall 107; Age Group 21 (Andy is an ANIMAL!)


Did you swim or run in college or play other sports; how did you get so good?

No college sports. I did more team sports growing up and did club swimming.
I guess I've gotten "good" by focusing a lot of my efforts on training. I'm pretty religious about training daily. It's part of my daily life.

How did you get into triathlons?

I first did a couple marathons after college and was looking for a new challenge.

What made you decide to do an Ironman?

I was attracted to the challenge and aura of finishing an Ironman and I am now trying to qualify for the world-championships in Kona, HI.
Andy is going to qualify for Kona, I can feel it in my bones. I just know that he has it in him!

Training and Nutrition
About how many hours per week do you train?
Oh gosh, in season anywhere from 14 to 20 hours. Off season probably 7 to 10 hours. I always at least try to work out an hour a day. I don't think my dogs are too crazy about my peak training time ;-)
I'd like to point out that during my "in-season," I'm probably not at 10 hours in a week (except maybe my peak week). Hmmm...there must be some correlation between pace and hours per week....let me ponder that...

How do you find enough time to train? Do you have to do two a days?

Well, I swim very early (5:30 AM). I do 2-a-days, two days during the week. The weekends are usually pretty long (anywhere from 3 to 8 hours). Other than my job, dogs, and house, I don't have too many other commitments! I try to start really early on the weekends too.
I had a hard time balancing SPRINT triathlon training with the rest of my life (OK, planning a wedding is a little more stress than my usual life). I think I'd have to quit my job and family and friends if I ever wanted to attempt something like this! IM takes some MAJOR dedication from the athlete and everyone else in their life!!

How many days a week do you train?

Actually during my heavy training I take 1 to 2 days off per week. In the off-season, I usually work out every day, just not as intense or long. I'll go run 8 miles with my dog at the park, it's more of a fun thing.
Running 8 miles is supposed to be fun?? Yup, I definitely have some work to do. :)

How long did you train to prepare for the Ironman race?

I probably did triathlons for 7 years before deciding on an Ironman. Usually my training schedules for IM are about 20 weeks.

Are you really strict about nutrition?
For the most part, I don't eat any meat (for both health and moral issues). The only dairy I eat are ice cream, cheese, and greek yogurt with my fruit. But I'm trying to wean myself off. I occasionally like French Fries ;-). Lots of fruit and vegetables.
I love this! I'm on a mostly vegetarian diet and I love ice cream and cheese. That means I can do an Ironman, riiiiiight?

What did you do for nutrition during the race?

Most of my calories are taken liquid during the race. I use a custom drink blend called Infinit. I will take that along with a couple gels on the bike. I may also eat a Powerbar over the course of the bike portion. The run is usually just coke, water and maybe some Gatorade on the run course. Race morning is usually Oatmeal, with raisins brown sugar and honey, and a large bottle of Infinit. During the race, I try to take in between 400 and 500 calories per hour on the bike and 150 per hour on the run.
That's a lot of liquid. I'm not sure that would work for me. I rarely use sports drinks. I love my Shot Blocs...and PB & J. I had half a sandwich on my bike at the Olympic tri last year. This year I only had a bite or 2 of my sandwich. The 1/2 mile swim doesn't leave me nearly as ravenous as a mile....and I was working my tail off on that bike this year and didn't have a chance to chow down!

Do you have a coach or are you self-coached?

I use Fitness-Concepts (out of Washington DC).

Which of the 3 sports do you find the most difficult or challenging.

I think a tough bike course is the most challenging.

Would you change anything about your training?

Ha, yes, I mean as triathletes we are always tinkering with our training. I wish I did more hard efforts. I always going into a race thinking I could have trained harder. But it's a balance, because you don't want to over-train.

Race Experience
Overall, how was your experience?

Great - Finishing an Ironman is an incredible experience. The energy from the crowds is amazing!

I've heard the course was pretty challenging, was it harder or easier than you expected?

Harder - the bike was really hilly in sections. Much bigger hills than I'm used to living in Central Ohio. The run was hilly as well.
Hills? Scratch the
Coeur d'Alene IM off my list! I hate hills.

What was the hardest part?

The hill on the bike course called "The Wall" a short steep section, and the downhills on the run (late in the race), my quads were screaming in pain.
Again, scratch this race off my list. I try to avoid anything called "The Wall" unless we are talking about Pink Floyd...and even though I frequently bonk at mile 19 of a marathon (my own personal wall), I still try my bestest to avoid it.

Anything you wish would have gone better?

I wish I would have ridden a little faster, I should have been able to ride at 21 mph, but ended up at 20.5.
So it sounds like he wasn't rocking out at an average 12 mph like me....what's the rush, Andy??

That's a long time to be racing. What did you think about while you were out there?

I'm always thinking about my competition and where they may be on the course, and where I may be in the race. And....Am I going to finish?
Hmmm....maybe there is a correlation between pace and thinking about your competition. I tend to daydream about fluffy clouds, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and shiny objects I notice on the side of the road....let me ponder that as well...

Did you cry when you finished? I tend to cry. :)

I tend to cry too, but no not here!
And because Andy didn't cry at the finish, I think I'll go cry right now, just because I'm proud of him! What an amazing accomplishment.

What advice would you give to a newbie or someone just trying to improve?
1. Train consistently. Don't take long blocks of time off. 2. Take it slow. Complete several sprints and Olympics before trying 1/2 and full Ironmans. 3. Buy a heart rate monitor and learn to control the intensity of workouts.

Now Andy, go eat lots of ice cream and cheese and then get back in the pool, you slacker. :)


  1. Fun! Love this - especially cause I did IMCDA this year and I know The Wall and I know the downhills and I know the feeling of crossing the finish line, although I don't know the feeling of crossing in just over 10 hours! That is blazing!

  2. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing it.