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.

I hit the trainer for a two hour ride on Saturday, before going to the gym for a 90 minute run/ellip. For my viewing enjoyment during the ride, I picked ‘Cool Hand Luke’:


That bit of dialogue has caused me more trouble than two ex-wives. Dragline (George Kennedy) has just asked Luke why he (Luke) had set the bar so high, saying that he could eat 50 boiled eggs – which got Dragline and his “syndicate” obligated to cover bets totalling every bit of cash in the dormitory. Luke says,

“Yeah, well, it’ll be something to do.”

I’ve done more dumb stuff in my life with that simple rationalization than you can imagine. The most recent, of course, is the whole triathlon thing – on that fateful day when Ian asked me “why don’t you do a Half Ironman”, I was thinking of Luke when I responded in the affirmative.

I reckon it’s the difference between “why?” and “why not?” If you ask “why would you decide to start triathlon, and set a Half Ironman? as your first goal?” I would be unable to answer the “why” question.

But the “why not” question doesn’t have to be answered, as it is rhetorical. (Even if you come up with plenty of good reasons “why not”, Luke would still say “Oh, it’ll be something to do”.)

When it came to “deciding” to start triathlon, rationality insists that taking on a radical lifestyle change with great costs to pocketbook, health and pastimes should be challenged with the question “why?”

Unfortunately, all too often, my response is “why not?”

That’s not a good response.

So many of my life’s endeavors wind up being based on what Luke told Dragline – from skiing 100 days to jumping out of an airplane (8 times).

But, let’s tell the truth and shame the Devil – if I lived my life by asking “why?” I’d probably still be in Alabama. In fact, I might have kept working at the copper tubing mill in Decatur until it closed down.

Asking “why not?” has certainly caused me a bucketload of grief – but it has also produced so many adventures, and given me so many dreams. Why not? It’ll be something to do.

(Full disclosure – now that I’m 58 years old, I think I’ll start asking ‘why’, since I’m way too tired for all of the stuff that ‘why not’ gets me involved in. Watch this space. Film at 11.)

(editor’s note – perhaps this should be “eine Dufus” instead. I’m not sure about the gender of “doofus”. And sometimes I spell is “dufus”, so there’s that).

Here’s the view from our condo club dreadmill, which is where I’m pretty much doing all of my running these days –


My runs these days are all progressive – I start out slow, and slowly increase the pace based on a complicated set of rules and procedures.* This is best done on a treadmill, and actually most-bestest done on the same treadmill rather than switching, to keep things consistent. So I use this one, even though it requires a 2% grade just to be level (as I found out, using a level) and tends to actually run 40 seconds slower** (or faster, depending on how you say it) than the mills at the local gym.

But currently, my twice-weekly longer runs are 70 minutes, for which the first hour is progressive, but then the last ten minutes is on-offs and plyometrics. This works, anyway, since club mills generally are set up to only allow one-hour runs before being reset.***

Yesterday morning I finished up my hour progressive run, grabbed a drink and went to the bathroom, and did some minor lifting and started stretching – and happened to look at my watch and thought “gee, I finished up about ten minutes earlier than I expected”.

tick….tick…tick…oh, yeah.

I had forgotten to do the additional ten minutes of sprints and drills.


Yes, it involved some discipline to take the shirt off, to get the treadmill set up and running again, and to get back on the dang thing – but the most unpleasant part was having to put the cold, wet, sweaty HRM strap back on my chest. That takes the cake for “Things Jim did today that he didn’t want to do”.

So, I may be a doofus, but at least I’m a disciplined doofus!

*I set a starting speed and a max heart rate, expressed as a range of 3 BPM – i.e. “135” BPM means “135 to 137 BPM”. Each five minutes, at 20 seconds before the five minute interval (i.3. 4:40, 9:40, etc) I raise the speed of the mill 0.1 MPH if I am below the range any time during the 20 second period; if I am inside the range but not below at all, then I keep the same speed; if I am always above the range, then, after the 20 seconds is up, if I’m still above the range, I have to slow down 0.1 MPH.

**i.e Using my Garmin footpod, I will wind up with a distance about the same or slightly less than what the treadmills at the Whitefish Wave report; on the condo club mill, though,  the footpod reports about 40 seconds per mile faster than the mill says that it is going. So the 5.8 MPH showing, above, is more like 6.1 MPH on the footpod.

***I did manage to convince Wayne, the tech at the Wave, to change one line of treadmills to have a 2 hour timeout rather than 1. We’ll see if they keep it that way.