Yesterday I had the worst swim I’ve had since the day that I squealed like a girl in May 2014.


(editor’s note – I’ve never done a straight post about IM/2 St George 2014, the day that I didn’t do the Half IM, and I don’t know why. Maybe I will soon). When I squealed like a girl, it was my first open-water swim (OWS) and it was water cold enough to cause the hyperventilation reflex (also known as Cold Shock Response ) and it resulted in me being, well, terrified, and I went home instead of doing the race.

That might even be a reasonable reaction to swimming out into the middle of a lake, and suddenly finding oneself unable to breathe. Prayer didn’t help, as it seems to be a reaction of the trigenimal nerve that requires adaptation for some folks (well, of course, prayer ALWAYS helps; in this case, it helped me to keep trying over and over again, and satisfy myself that it wasn’t going to work).

Well, for the last few months, I’ve been swimming with the Coach On Deck group at the Whitefish Wave, and Ive actually been getting faster; consistent, reasonable progress. It’s reached the point where I was doing three triathlon-distance single sets a week (two Olympics and one Half) all well below 2:00 pace (that’s 2 minutes per 100 yards).

I finished my last hard week of training on Sunday; yesterday morning I was supposed to go to the pool, but I couldn’t get my rear up and moving. So late yesterday, I decided to head to Whitefish City Beach to put on my wet suit and get some OWS time done.

It was awful.

I couldn’t seem to swim more than 50-60 yards at a stretch, then I would stop, hit my Garmin, and lay back and float on my swim buoy. Then, after I rested, I’d try again.

And again.

By the time I got out of there, I was pretty darn discouraged – rather than swimming 2000+ yards at 1:53, I was doing 50 yard segments at what my Garmin reported as 2:24 average pace.

As a result, I don’t even WANT to go to Couer d’Alene for the race.

Now, swimming slowly in open water while training for a triathlon is almost certainly classifiable as a “First World Problem” – it just ain’t important in any scheme of things. We’re healthy, sober, living happily and usefully whole while gainfully employed in a mountain paradise – who cares if I suddenly can’t swim fast? Trivial issue.

But therein lies the rub with ALL human endevours – in order to attempt something, you first have to make that something matter – and once it matters, it is hard to minimize it.

I heard a fellow in an NA meeting, back in the late 80s, say that whenever his truck got dirty, he started driving slower past car lots, looking at other trucks – and the dirtier the truck got, the most he was looking. He soon realized that, eventually, he was going to wash his truck, or trade it.

Now, I took that home with me and meditated on it, and realized that, for me, this expresses a general truth; I used to think that something got important to me, and so I put my effort into it. I have since realized that it’s the “putting in of effort” that MAKES it important. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart lie also” — Matthew 6:21.

So I put all of this effort into training – so how, now, do I minimize the importance? How do I just shrug it off and say “Oh, well, it’s a First World Problem?”

I suppose the Twelve Steps might get me there – they are, as I understand it, “a means of reducing our demands” (among many other things).  And, right now, I’ve got some demands.

If this is Sunday, then I must have done a two hour treadmill run.

But today, I did it slightly differently. But not, I fear, differently enough.


For a good while now, on normal weeks, I’ve done two hour treadmill runs and always did them the same – just a hair under 10:00 pace for the first hour, and then sped it up by 0.1 mph for the second hour. Since my Sunday run always follows a hard Saturday swim and bike, these runs give me all the fun I can stand.

Splitting the pace like that – about 10 seconds/mile faster for the second hour – gives me a slight “negative split” – i.e the second “split” (time/distance) is slightly less than the first. That’s always been the way that I’ve run my best races, speeding up slightly as I go. (There are sound physiological reasons why this is so).

But today I got this silly notion – why don’t I check out Zeno’s Paradox? (For the uninitiated, Zeno’s Paradox has a lot of descriptions, but the one that I first heard was this – if you’re going to walk a mile, then first you have to walk half of that distance – then you have to walk half of the second half, then you have to walk half of the last quarter, then half of the last eighth – thus, there will always be another half of whatever you have left, so you will never get there).

I decided to try, instead, Zeno’s Negative Splits – so I ran the first hour at the normal speed, and then I sped up 0.1 mph for the next half hour, then increasing 0.1 mph for the next fifteen minutes, then 0.1 mph for the next 7:30, then 0.1 mph for the next 3:45, then 0.1 mph for the next 1:52, then 0.1 mph for the next 56 seconds, then 0.1 mph for the next 28 seconds, then 0.1 for the next 14 seconds, then 0.1 mph for the next 7 seconds, then 0.1 mph for the next 3.5 seconds, and so on….

100:00.0 6
30:00.0 6.1
15:00.0 6.2
07:30.0 6.3
03:45.0 6.4
01:52.5 6.5
00:56.3 6.6
00:28.1 6.7
00:14.1 6.8
00:07.0 6.9
00:03.5 7
00:01.8 7.1
00:00.9 7.2
00:00.4 7.3
00:00.2 7.4
00:00.1 7.5
00:00.05 7.6

Now, if I could have done this correctly, I would have eventually been running at infinite speed, since I would always be increasing by a tenth of a mile an hour, always for the next 1/2 of the remaining period, all the way down to the picoseconds.

Unfortunately, there’s a quantum problem – that is that it takes a certain amount of time to press the up arrow on the speed control, so I can’t keep increasing the speed forever, because the time it takes to change the speed is longer than the period left in the run.

Oh, well. That’s why you don’t see the graph, above, going all the way to a vertical line at the end – it’s because the treadmill just doesn’t have the fine granularity of control it would take to keep speeding up. It’s not my fault – I tried!

(There’s another practical problem, that being that, once I hit the speed of light, I would have attained infinite mass, and the entire universe would have collapsed around me because I would have infinite gravitational attraction, and you’d all be dead, and not reading this anyway.)

This morning was a swim, ride, run, but by far the ride was the lion’s share of the workout. The ride was 4 hours long, and a doozey. But I’m glad that I got it done.


I was very happy with the swim – my fastest ever time for 2100 yards (a Half Ironman swim is 2100 yards, but you run into the water, and out, so I’m calling it good). I then went straight home from the pool and jumped on the bike, on the trainer.

A four hour trainer ride is (some say) effectively the same, as far as training benefit goes, as a six hour or so ride on the roads, because on the trainer, you never stop pedaling – there’s no coasting. So it can be tough, and uncomfortable.

But I’m always working on my mental toughness, so for today’s ride, I set up my music – Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby, by Counting Crows, on repeat. I use music to keep my cadence consistent; I use the Maple music player on my Android, and that allows me to change the tempo on the fly. So I started Mrs. Potter, and slowed it down just enough to keep my cadence right close to 90 RPM.

The music keeps the cadence consistent – listening to the *same song*, eliminating variety, helps one to work on mental toughness. (A lot of folks listen to music for distraction, which does NOT help with mental toughness). I did this last year as well, a six hour version of the same workout (that was before a full Ironman; right now, I’m training for the half next month in Coeur D’Alene).

I’m a wimp, I’m wishy-washy, and I have no determination or character, so I have to work on mental toughness.

Now, I did STOP two times during the workout; while I learned how to pee on the bike during last year’s IMCdA Half Ironman, Ethel takes a dim view of me doing that in the training room, so I use a pee bottle; I stay on the bike and clipped in, but I do have to stop pedaling (I don’t know anyone who can pee on the bike while pedaling). One more way to build mental toughness – stay on the bike. And, as part of the “mental toughness” regimen, I set the pee times at the start of the ride – 1:20 and 2:40, or 1/3 and 2/3 of the, respectively. I don’t get to go when I want to – I have to go when it’s scheduled.

Now, while listening to the same song for four hours, there’s a lack of distraction, but I don’t get tired of things I like easily, and I’ve loved this song for many, many years. Mrs Potter lasts 7 minutes, 46 seconds, but with the tempo slowed down to a 90 RPM cadence, it last 8:10. So that’s 29 & 1/4 Mrs Potters for a four hour ride – however, eight minutes from the end of the ride, I restarted the song, so that I could sing along all the way to the end – out loud, vigorously, and joyfully.

I hope the neighbors didn’t mind.

After the ride, I had a twenty minute run – just a way of telling the body that when the ride is over, the workout is still going. (My long run is actually tomorrow).

I’m not sure whether I’m any more mentally tough right now. We’ll find out in Coeur D’Alene in five weeks.


Yesterday was Easter – “Hallelujah! The Lord is risen!” – which is a nice day in itself, and also means the end of Lent.

This year, I made several minor changes over Lent, not the least of which was staying off of Facebook.


Now, here’s the thing – nobody noticed.

I’m a fairly high-volume guy, but (almost) nobody ever noticed that I was gone (my friend Billy Bob sent me a message a few days ago, who noticed that he hadn’t heard from me). There are a lot of folks out there that I was communicating with all the time, and they didn’t notice I was gone.

Put your finger in a bucket of water. Now, pull it out. See how much effect you have on the bucket.

A strange part of this was that my eldest son, and my triathlon coach – two folks that I always communicated with – had no idea. I spoke to them both on Palm Sunday weekend, and each of them mentioned some item of interest in their lives; when I mentioned that I hadn’t known about these things, they said “Didn’t you see it on Facebook?”

No. Didn’t you see that I wasn’t there? 🙂

“You would never spend any time worrying about what people thought of you if you realized just how rarely they did so”.

After months of swimming by myself (since leaving the COD crew at The Ridge in Bozeman) I started back with the Coach On Deck folks at the Whitefish Wave this week.

The workouts are much the same – well, probably longer – but the main difference is that I’m in the far left lanes now; in Bozeman, there was a large Masters Swim group, and all of the competitive folks swam there, so the rest of us swam with COD. But there’s no Masters group in Whitefish, so the fast folks swim COD.

The main difference, then, works out that the posted workouts here are longer than the posted workouts were in Bozeman, because most of the folks can do more in an hour.

Here was this morning’s workout, written up on the board, since Coach Carrie had the flu:


It only took me an hour and twenty minutes to do an hour workout! Woo woo!

I did some of these wrong – again, we were coachless – but I figured them out later. And the first 200 w/fins, I didn’t have my fins, so I just kicked hard instead (I have a ‘non propulsive kick’, as Scott Kelley told me, so kicking hard actually means that I’m swimming slower than when I’m not kicking at all 🙂

I have to admit, though, it was interesting to do something this complex, rather than just a long swim, or 5×500 pulls, or 10×200 on 5:00 – I’m not sure if it did me more good or not, but I reckon anything that keeps me in the pool will pay off in the long run.

I’m 74 days out from the Coeur D’Alene half. Dang. I’d better get to work.

Sunday was closing day at Whitefish Mountain Resort, and I didn’t ski. Didn’t ski closing day – didn’t even ski closing weekend.

Last time I skied was eight days before; that wasn’t a bad day. Here I am at the top of Bighorn, off of Chair 7 –


Bighorn is about the steepest thing off of that chair, and it was very nice when I skied it – chalky, with a couple of inches of fresh on top. But the front side was not in good shape, and so I didn’t ski the next day – or the next (and last) weekend.

But it wasn’t snow conditions that kept me off of the mountain – it was my own conditioning.

I did something, again, that I said I wasn’t going to do – again. I signed up for a spring (well, early summer) Half Ironman. I keep telling myself that I’m not going to do this, and I keep doing it.

The issue is that in order to do a spring Half, I have to train through the winter, and I really have to ramp up my training starting in March for a late-June race. So I wind up losing what I moved to Montana (and Colorado, and Utah) for – skiing – in order to do a spring long-course triathlon.

Of course, I tell myself every year (when I do sign up for that spring race) that this year I’m going to do it smarter – I’m going to train with less volume and more intensity, and thus avoid losing my ski season.

But it never works.

I’m already talking about doing Honu next year, and – guess what? – it’s in early June. So I’ll say it now, and I’ll say it here – I’m NOT going to do Honu next year. Next year, I’m going to keep skiing, and keep skiing hard, until closing day.

There. I’ve said my piece and I’ve counted to three.

Ain’t doing what I did this year next year, so that next year I will be able to do what this year I didn’t.

Yesterday morning, I was on the treadmill for a hour, before doing my core and lifting and stretching. (I have a hard ride this evening; eventually, I want to be able to do all of that in the morning, without sacrificing my ability to work effectively – I’m not there yet).

While I was chugging away at my current pedestrian pace, this fellow came in and got on the exerbike in front of me –


It occurred to me that this gentleman is about my age – or near enough not to matter. And obviously we share some pastimes – that’s an Ironman Wisconsin bag on the floor next to him. He was not riding easy, either.

But he is considerably leaner than I am. Dangit.

Now, I’ve been in recovery from compulsive overeating for some 26 years, and that simply hasn’t been a problem – binging is not my issue. No, my issue is simply that I have slowly gained some weight a few years ago, and I don’t like being hungry (or even mildly uncomfortable from hunger) at all.

So my weight generally stays the same; it doesn’t vary much, even though my training varies greatly between winter and summer. Last year, while ramping up for Ironman Coeur D’Alene, I had quite a few 20-25 hour training weeks, sometimes with more than one 100+ mile ride in the same week – and I ate to accommodate that. My weight didn’t vary much. I increased my output, and thus increased my input.

That would seem to imply that my hunger mechanism is right on track – it knows how much I’m burning, and it adjusts to keep me at the same weight.

But I can’t seem to LOSE the weight I would need to lose to get to Scott’s size, above – because I don’t like feeling hungry.

When I’m even mildly peckish, it seems to interfere with my work and my mood, and my sleep. I can go for a while hungry, but then I become irritable. (I’m not as bad as the characters in the Snickers commercials, though. Or maybe I’m just not as hungry).

There’s an interesting issue at work here – I am currently training for 11 hours/week. That’s running, biking and swimming – not counting lifting, core work or stretching. Those hours are decidedly not comfortablebut I have no trouble enduring those.

But for some reason, an hour being slightly hungry bothers me more than an hour running at threshold.

Perhaps it’s because I’m engaged in running, whereas time sitting still being slightly hungry is just time spent being slightly hungry. If I’m actively doing something, I don’t notice this as much, if at all – however, I can’t, by definition, always be “doing something”. I’m supposed to rest.

(Watching a movie or reading a book does not, for me, fall into the category of “actively doing something. In fact, all of the things that I do to rest – with one huge exception – tend to leave me in a state where I notice hunger more. The one exception is SAILING – but, alas, we don’t do that any more).

Also, I’m aware that the hour will pass, and then the running discomfort will be gone, whereas an hour of being slightly hungry will only result in the next hour of being slightly more hungry.

So the question becomes twofold – how can I
a) find restful things to do that disengage me from mild hunger, or

b) change my mindset to where I don’t care anyway?

I’ve got two IRONMAN branded races this year – a half in June, and a full in November. I’d much rather do them at Scott’s weight, than at mine.