This Sunday, I completed the 70.3 “Ironman” race in Coeur D’Alene.

(“Ironman” is in quotes because it’s not an actual Ironman – it’s a half ironman. But the WTC folks can sell more stuff if it says “Ironman 70.3” than if it says “Half Ironman”.)

This is a picture of me before the race, still full of confidence and vigor:

MeWetsuit
The swim went well, so to that extent the confidence was justified – I came out of the water at 43:09 by my watch, which means an open-water swim with four thousand of my best friends trying to crawl over me and push me underwater at very close to 2:00/100y pace.

I was estatic.

Here’s a picture of me coming out of the water and yelling at Ethel “43 minutes! 43 minutes!”

AlmostMe

If you can’t see me in that picture, don’t worry. Trust me. If you magnify and enhance, you’ll see me. Or something like me….Ethel wasn’t having her best taking-pictures-of-Jim day. More on this later.

I really messed things up in transition – my helmet strap was tangled, I had several false starts, and…I forgot my bike computer. I had taken my Garmin Edge to transition with me, but just plain forgot to put it on the bike, and gave it back to Ethel in my tri backpack. So I didn’t have it.

Now, we (Coach* and I) had gone to great lengths to determine what wattage I should be pushing – both on the uphills, and as an average (“Normalized Power”) and I had set up my bike computer to give me this information in formatted screens paired with cadence and heart rate, so that I would know exactly how hard I was pushing so that I wouldn’t burn out while on the bike.

But I didn’t have my bike computer.

But wait – I had planned ahead!…I had also set up my Garmin 920xt to give me the same information, in different formats, in bike mode!…but when I realized I had not installed the bike computer, I ran back and forth, and…messed up my 920 to the point that it thought that I was already on the RUN part of the race.

So I had to do the entire 56 mile bike without any feedback except heart rate. So the bad news is that I had no idea if I was pushing too hard or not.

The good news is that, operating in ignorance, I KILLED the bike – I came in 21 minutes ahead of my estimate!!

This is Ethel, being excited about how great I did on the bike!

EthelBike
(Ethel seemed to have a problem with her phone – I *think* that she was trying to record a video of me coming in on the bike, but that she pushed the wrong icon on her phone – pushed the turn-around instead of the movie cam. That’s my operating theory. The possibility that she simply wanted to take a selfie at this moment has to be considered, but I’m not going to be the one to consider it)

The bad news is that, operating in ignorance, I KILLED the bike – came in 21 minutes ahead of my estimate!…which means that I had used up my legs, and that the run was going to be painfulšŸ˜¦

And it was. About four miles into the run, I started slowing down. Ten miles in, I really started slowing down. The cramping started at mile 12.5, but by that time I knew that I was going to be something over 6:20, and just let the pain fly while I gave it all I had.

This is Ethel, being excited about my finish time!

EthelRun

(I’m not sure, again, whether this was intentional or not. But at least she was excited for me).

My time – by their clock, 6:22:22; by my Garmin, 6:22:10. This is interesting because I was 50th out of 100 finishers in my age group for this race, and the average time for Half Ironman finishers in my age group is – 6:22.

So I am absolutely, flat, sho’ nuff average:) — or “mediocre”, if you like more syllables.

Being average isn’t bad. Being average is, well, average. And for somebody like me, who really hit some rough patches early on, it’s nice to be able to say that I’ve clawed my way up to average.

But a different perspective is this – I’m average among people who have completed a half Ironman.

And that’s a pretty good average.

 

*He’s actually called “Corch”, but only college football fans who have seen Corrine Brown’s Congressional speech congratulating the Florida Gators will understand the reference.

 

So here’s my Training Peaks calendar for last week:

20hour

That’s a 20 hour training week. That doesn’t include lifting or stretching or core.

It doesn’t include the time between sets in the pool – only the time actually swimming.

It doesn’t include the time sitting by the side of the road taking a break during a ride – only the time actually riding. And, of course, it doesn’t include any breaks in runs – only the time that my feet are moving. Actual running, biking and swimming time.

Last night, while getting ready for my third workout of the day, I ran into a doc who is helping me with some sleep issues. He commented on my workouts and physical shape – said that I was to be “commended”.

That sort of confuses me – I think of commendation as something that happens to acknowledge a contribution, but my training helps nobody at all, and contributes nothing to the world. So it’s not actually, to my mind, commendable.

But I often hear the word “impressed”, as well. And I don’t think that I really believe it. I think it’s just something that people say when they think that they are supposed to say something.

I don’t think that anyone can be impressed by a 57 year old man spending 20 hours of a week doing stuff like this. And that ain’t humility – it’s much more my understanding of human perception.

If you’ve never done a 20 hour training week, then you don’t really know what it involves – and, therefore, you can’t really be impressed. For all you actually know, it might be a breeze. I tend to think that people do stuff that they want to do – and if they want to do it, how hard can it be?

And, if you HAVE done a 20 hour training week, then you can’t be impressed, because you’ve done it yourself, and there’s nothing to be impressed about. Heck, you’ve done it. What’s the big deal?

The idea that I’m going to do a 20 hour week – for the first time – might have an impression on me, but once I’ve done it, it now goes into the box of “things that Jim can do”. Ho-hum. Now what?

So it’s not commendable, and it’s not impressive.

But it is tiring:)

I’m putting these here, so that we can look at them NEXT Memorial Day.

(Yes, I know, it’s not Memorial Day. Ethel took these pics with me shirtless, and I realized that that means that I’d think I’d look good, which would cause my ego to have a problem, whilst others would laugh at the old man, which would cause my ego to have a problem. So I asked her to take more pictures, but she won’t do it).

The idea is that this way, by taking pictures with me standing beside the trees, we’d be able to see the trees grow. This is my third new-construction house, and I always wanted to be able to see how the trees were growing, but never actually did this.

(Now that I am doing it, it’s a shoo-in bet that we’ll be elsewhere by next Memorial Day:)

So – the Tour de Trees – first, Spruce Willis beside the big boys (I’m not going to attempt to take a picture of the big aspen. They’re about 30 feet tall already):

Spruce Willis

We named him Spruce Willis because he’s, well, a spruce, and we have an Austrian Pine out front named Arnold Treezeneggar, so, there you have it.

Spruce has since sprouted a lot of three-inch buds on his tips, but that’s NOW, not THEN – we’ll see the effect of those next Memorial Day.

The Little Aspen – these guys were much smaller than the behemoths flanking Spruce.

Small Aspen

BTW – we’ve since mulched these berms and added perennials – but, again, that’s to be seen next year.

The middle triple-trunk aspen on this berm doesn’t seem to be stable – he keeps tilting with the wind. If this keeps up, I reckon I’ll have to stake him.

Now, the side tree (we don’t know what type this is – we lost the tag from the nursery).

Side Tree

This is one of the three trees that the builder put in, so I’m not quite as attached to these. But I’m still deep-watering them; can’t play favorites.

Close to the side tree, we put in a Lilac:

Lilac

Ethel has high hopes for this guy.

Next up – the Snow Crab in the corner (another builder’s tree):

Corner Snow Crab

Here’s Arnold Treezenegger, who seems to be growing at a rapid pace:Arnold Treezeneggar

And, lastly, the front tree – another builder’s tree:

Front Tree

Well, there we have them. Now we’ll see what they look like next Memorial Day – assuming that we by then live in Cabo, or on Cozumel, or in Bend, or in Revelstoke….

 

For the past year and a half, I’ve been watching Angel during many of my trainer rides.

Last night was the last one in the series. Grrr. Aaarrgh.

mutantenemy.jpg

Angel-watching is generally reserved, it seems, for two types of rides – mild rides, when I am not attempting any particular fitness workouts, or near the end ofĀ very long rides, when I just want to focus on something else to make the pain go away, but I’m not mentally sharp enough to follow a long complicated movie. Last night was the mild variety.

There’s this thing that happens, though, at the start and end of each episode – my cadence on the bike goes down to 60 RPM.

last angel ride

See the white line? I was running around 100 RPM except about three minutes in, and then about 44 minutes in. That’s when the Angel theme music kicks in, and it’s very compelling – I have to slow down to 60 rpm and pedal along with it, and then when the music fades, I crank it back up.

I might be doing a high-cadence interval, or perhaps I’m slogging through a long climb – it doesn’t matter. When the music starts, I go to 60 RPM and stay there.

(There are 110 episodes of Angel. When you do something 110 times – or, in this case, 220, since the theme plays at the start and the end – it becomes a part of you. That’s a law. I’m sure that there are studies that prove it.)

As I said, last night was the last episode. (I should point out here that I’ve seen the series before, but it had been long enough that I had forgotten most of it). I’m going to miss it. I’m in no hurry to pick up another series, though.

Hmm….We were watching Bones, because I mistakenly thought that it was over, two years ago

(editor’s note – the Pucketts only watch series after they have finished their run. This is the result of having watched the revamped Battlestar Galactica, in which they had so many amazing and impossible story lines unfolding, and then ended the series by waving their hands and saying “So long, folks! Show’s over!” – we never want to go through that again)

…..and I just checked, and they are saying that 2017 will be the final season, so we can’t watch it until then. It would be nice going from Angel to Bones – an interesting change of pace for David Boreanaz. So, no, that won’t be it.

Maybe I’ll go back and watch Lost again?…it’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten most of what happened.

I’m just a little sad that I won’t be hearing that music anymore. Even if it did slow me down to 60 RPM.

 

 

I got the new Counting Crows CD, “Somewhere Under Wonderland”, a week and a half ago.

counting_crows_somewhere_under_wonderland_0914

(editor’s note: yes, I know that this CD came out in 2014. But, to me, it’s the “new” one. Don’t bother me. Up until this, I still considered “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings”, released in March of 2008, to be “the new one”).

I put this in my car player the day I got it, and I haven’t taken it out yet – I listen to it during most of my driving. I’m really enj0ying it. N.B. – “most of my driving” isn’t much; there’s not a trip that I normally take that is longer than 10 minutes, and most are under four – a benefit of small-town living.

I knew after the first time through that these songs and I would wind up being long-term friends.

The problem that I have in these situations is that when I find new music that I really like, it seeps into my brain, and I find my ThinkManĀ® starts playing it without my permission. (Everybody has a ThinkManĀ®; it’s that MP3 player in your head. I generally have control over my ThinkManĀ® and use it while running, as it allows me to change volume and tempo on the fly; I sometimes listen to {almost} the entire Gin Blossoms CD “Congratulations I’m Sorry” at about 180 bpm during tempo runs, and sometimes have it repeat favorite verses or guitar solos. You can’t do that with your iPod.)

Getting an “earworm”, as they call it, isn’t too bad under most circumstances – the problem that I have is that sometimes the song that my ThinkManĀ® has on repeat plays even while I am asleep. Then I wake up over and over with the song in my head, all night log.

This time, I’m being careful. I’m not allowing myself to repeat a song in the car – it has to play all the way through the CD before I hear it again. I’m hoping to avoid the dreaded waking up with music that nobody else can hear by not allowing any one tune to take up residence. But it’s tricky. Right now, “Dislocation” is playing – as I type this, the chorus is running through my brain.

(Time for a pre-emptive strike – I just started listening to Classic Trance on Pandora, and that seems to have squelched Adam Duritz for the time being.)

So there’s a fine line that I find myself walking – listening to the new music enough to gain a relationship with it, while avoiding the all-night replays.

Wish me luck.

UPDATE: It didn’t work. “Earthquake Driver” woke me up from my noon nap.

 

Here’s what Coach Erin posted for this morning’s coached swim:

Today Swim

(editor’s note: this is not the workout that I did, for several reasons:
1 – I did 600 yards before I started
2 – I did the main set (the 3x[box] twice, and
3 – This is a 20 yard pool, not a 25 yard – but Coach Erin is an old-school swimmer, and just can’t seem to express herself in anything but 25 yard lengths/50 yard laps. So her 25s are actually 20s, her 50s are actually 40s, etc)

I’m doing a lot of swimming these days – last week was almost 13,000 yards. I’m doing a lot of biking these days – last week was about 180 miles.

The astute reader will notice that I did not completing the previuos paragraph with a summation of a third activity. There was one that was conspicuously absent. The fact that I’m not running (much at all) is why I’m swimming and biking so much.

I’m injured.

My calf is owie – when I try to run, it says “owie. Owie.” It says owie until I stop, and then it says owie for several days, to punish me for not listening to it immediately. I’m in physical therapy and I’m treating it, but nothing seems to be working – yet.

If you’re a runner and you can’t run, that’s not a good thing, generally speaking. But if you are training for The Big Race, a 140.6 mile mumble-mumble*, and you can’t run, it seems a lot bigger.

I’m currently signed up for three triathlons this summer – an Olympic in Frenchtown in early June, a half Ironman in Coeur D’Alene in late June, and then the full-distance mumble-mumble in late August. And I’m having to address the question – what if I can’t run?

Right now, I’m entertaining the notion of doing the Olympic and the Half as “aqua-velo” events; that means, just the swim and the bike – use them as training opportunities, and as chances to practice my transitions.

And that leaves me with the question – what about the full mumble-mumble?

I may just have to walk it.

That means that I’d have to do the swim and bike fast enough to leave me enough time to walk a marathon, and still get it all done in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

It sounds crazy – but, then, what sounds SANE about a mumble-mumble?

So once this calf calms down, I’m going to hit the elliptical for about four hours a week; this will (I hope) serve the dual purpose of allowing me to keep some of my running conditioning, while also prepare me for the possible eventually of walking 26 miles 385 yards (after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112).

Is this a path to glory? No, it is not. Is “Swim, Bike, Walk” what I wanted on my tombstone? No, sir, you betcha.

But will it get the mumble-mumble monkey off my back?

Oh, yes, sir:)

 

*we donā€™t actually use the term Ironman in this house, unless weā€™re referring to a Half Ironmanā€“ if weā€™re talking about a Full, we just mumble incoherently (“mumble-mumble”) rather than let the phrase ā€œIronman 140.6ā€ pass our lips

Things have gone fairly crazy here at Chez Dogpoop.

Last thing first – last night, Abby got loose in the closet. I don’t know how she did that – I had it pulled to – and I don’t know how to stop her from doing it, as this is a pocket door that doesn’t clasp shut; just pushes against the door jamb. But she got into the closet, and pooped in my shoes.

dogpoop

This is the closet after Ethel spent a half hour on it. Looks like there’ll be more work to do after the carpet dries.

(Editor’s note: if you’re wondering why Ethel was cleaning the carpet, it’s because…I don’t do well with poop. But I’m fixing the meals today – breakfast was a spinach, mushroom, onion, bacon and cheese fritata with a fruit cup (strawberries, blueberries and heavy cream). I’ll trade cooking for poop cleanup any day.)

But this is just the latest punctuationĀ  mark in the long, run-on sentence of our lives over the last six weeks or so. Our triathlon training is now in full swing; I’m doing 12/16/18 hour week cycles, and Ethel had her biggest training week ever two weeks ago. In addition, we’ve had a lot of service commitments, and business travel – me to Pleasanton two weeks ago, Ethel next week to SLC.

Then there’s spring – which means yardwork and garage cleaning, and changing out snow tires, and – oh, yeah, your old summer tires are too bald to put back on. You need to buy new ones, Mr. Puckett. You too, Mrs. Puckett.

And then there’s this business of a new puppy in the house.

How did we get so busy? How is it that, as we get older, we wind up doing more? We have tighter schedules as empty nesters than we did when we had a toddler.

(At times like these, I look forward to retirement. But I have a strong suspicion that retirement will just be a different kind of busy. But I must admit to this fantasy of laying in the hammock in the breeze, and then waking up to go inside for an afternoon nap.)

In two months, we will be on Cozumel for three weeks. Now, that sounds restful and relaxing – until I remember that our A-races are in August – I’ve got the Coeur D’Alene full mumble-mumble on the 21st, and Ethel has the Vikingman half-Ironman in Burley, ID on the 27th.Ā  So those three July weeks in the Caribbean really translate into heavy-volume training – in the heat and humidity. (We really need smarter hobbies).

When does it stop?

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