Here’s the lap pool at The Wave, the fitness and aquatic center here in Whitefish.

ww-lap
The water in this pool is about 2-3 degrees cooler than the water was at the Ridge in Bozeman. Now, I can say this either way –

* I never cramp in this pool, but it’s harder to jump in at the start, OR
* It’s harder to jump into this pool at the start, but I never cramp in this water.

I like the second way better🙂

Today was a pull workout – I did a warmup, then I put paddles on my hand and a pull buoy between my legs, and did 500 yard repeats just pulling with the paddles; no kicking. I like this workout, because I have a strong upper body, and when I’m doing pulls, I’m much faster than when I’m just doing freestyle.

I was doing 500 yards on 10:00 – that means that, every ten minutes, I would start the next repeat; the rest time would be from when I finished a repeat until the watch hit 10 minutes. So the faster I swam, the longer the rests – but, of course, the faster I swam, the more rest I needed, and there’s an upper limit that is quickly reached in that equation🙂

But I noticed, yet again today, a common phenomenon – how much – how very much – I like the first length of each repeat. For the first 25 yards of each 500, I feel like a swimmer.

After that brief rest – and today, those rests were just over a minute – when I do that first push-off and take those first strokes, everything is smooth and easy. I feel the water rushing past me, my hands come into the water smoothly and exit smoothly, my head barely turns far enough to take in a breath, and the first turn is easy.

Then, reality returns for the next 475 yards🙂

I always try to keep that feeling of the first length going, and I always fail – sometimes, I can get CLOSE for the second or third length, but then I start getting sloppier and working harder but going slower. I don’t know why this happens – I’m really not working hard enough in the pool for fatigue to be an issue.

But something HAPPENS during the first length, and then something HAPPENS afterward – and, even though I’m the one doing it, I don’t seem to be able to define or control it.

But it does keep me swimming🙂

…Maybe I should do shorter repeats, so that I could have more first lengths?🙂

The Pucketts are moving to Whitefish, Montana.

(editor’s note – I don’t know why, but for some reason – even though the scansion doesn’t match – that phrase makes me think of “They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!”. We now return you to the FCD post, which is already in progress).

westernmt

Now, if you are thinking (as I am) “Didn’t they just move to Bozeman, Montana?” I have to respond that that depends on your definition of “just”. We moved here on 15 July, 2015. And, given as much as we invested into this move and location – buying a house, season passes, gym memberships, doctors and dentists, church obligations and service positions, planting trees – we could increase the list, but you get the idea – it does seem a bit quick to talk about leaving.

But we’re old, and running out of time.

When we moved here, we were very excited about living here, and we did two things wrong – we didn’t do our due diligence, and we forgot that we were supposed to downsize. But we were okay with both of those mistakes; we were working things out on the areas that we hadn’t fully investigated (such as how long it took to get to the ski hill) and we accepted the larger mortgage as just the cost of doing business.

But then two things happened, almost simultaneously:

  • A new-construction house (everything in this neighborhood is new) slightly smaller than mine – and with a 2-car garage rather than 3, no loft, no two-story ceiliings, and no deck with a view of the Bridgers – went up for sale 100 yards away, for 50K more than I paid a year earlier.
  • Two of my friends and co-workers were let go at the SLC office.

From these two facts, three of things could be inferred:

  • Bozeman is in a real estate bubble
  • It’s probably a good time to sell my house, and
  • My job is less safe than I had hoped.

The first one is scary – I lived through the 2005 bubble, but just barely. The house that I bought in 2005 has not yet regained its value – Zillow shows it at $124K less than what I paid. I do not want to get caught in THAT again.

But if it is a bubble, then it’s also an opportunity – I can probably sell at a profit. And that certainly seems to be the case.

The second one is scarier. One of these gentlemen that was let go I had worked with before – his diligence and work ethic are such that I could never match them. The other was a young man just a couple of years out of school.

Obviously, the tolerance levels have dropped with my current employer. And I’ve felt like the dumbest guy in the room since I got there.

So when Ethel and I sat down with these things and looked at them, it was sobering. How would we get this house paid off in time to retire if my job was insecure?….and, if we couldn’t, what would happen if we tried to sell after the (presumed) bubble burst?

And then, suddenly, a third fact announced itself. It had been growing in the corner for a good while, but it had never spoken up – but suddenly it jumped out into the middle of the room and demanded that we look at it:

We did not want to wait until we were 65+ years old to retire.

As soon as we said it out loud, it was apparent that we’d already, both, made that decision at some level below consciousness, but we’d never brought it up and looked at it. As soon as we did, we were sure.

So we looked around and tried to figure out what to do about it. And one thing that was apparent, immediately, was that Bozeman would not be the place that we would be able to retire, debt-free, in four years. That might have been possible if we had, indeed, downsized when we moved here, but the market has absolutely gone craziest in that 1600-2000 square foot condo sector that would be our choice.

So our gaze went outward.

Before we moved to Bozeman, we had a list of towns that we wanted to check, but we’d never gotten around to them, because we’d never made it past Bozeman. So now it was time.

Bend, OR came off the list for cultural reasons. And Steamboat went off the list because they’ve had some of the same real estate boom that Bozeman has had.

That left us with Driggs, ID and Whitefish, MT. We also added Kellogg, ID, just east of Coeur D’Alene, because I had become quite enamored of it during our many trips to CdA this year.

We visited these towns, and did a LOT of research before, during and after each trip – we were not going to be able to tell ourselves, after moving again, that we hadn’t done our due diligence.

We visited Kellogg first, and it had the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of real estate dollars, but there were many things that Ethel didn’t like about it. ‘Nuff said.

Whitefish seemed to check all of the boxes with respect to skiing, meetings, church, tri training, and services, and we found some nice places. We also drove to the ski hill *more than once* to make sure that it was a short, and easy, trip🙂 Whitefish was promising – but this time we decided to keep checking, to make sure that we’d picked the best town.

We visited Driggs, which is the base town for Grand Targhee and a short drive from Jackson. I loved Driggs – among other things, it had the best Mexican – but Ethel saw some things lacking due to the size of the town; it was quite small.

And, while doing this research, Ethel added the town of Granby, CO to the list, based on our criteria. I had to stay home and work at the time, but she flew there for a couple of days look-around. Promising from many perspectives, but the worst in terms of price per square foot. And hard to get a place with a garage, for some reason🙂

So, after all the traveling and weighing pros and cons and prayer and thought – and more than a few arguments – we decided on Whitefish.

Now we’re three days out from the move, living out of boxes and saying goodbye to everything and everybody. And it’s occurred to me that I might want to remember, later, just what happened to cause us to leave Bozeman – which is, absolutely and completely, a GREAT town – so I figured I’d write all this down in a place where I couldn’t lose it🙂

IMCDA_Medal

On Sunday, I completed the Ironman at Coeur D’Alene.

That’s enough, you know. It’s a dadgum Ironman. Isn’t it enough to say that I finished the dadgum thing?…but, apparently, that is not the case, as I’ve actually had folks asking for a race report. So here it is.

SETUP – This race was different from any other triathlon that I’ve competed in, in that *you did not set up a transition area*.

Instead, you put your bike on the rack, and then you packed two bags – Bike Gear and Run Gear – which were placed in long rows outside of a Changing Tent. The idea is that you came out of the water, and someone would hand you the Bike Gear bag, and you would go into the tent, sit down *on a chair* and change into your bike stuff. Then you’d run out and grab the bike and head out onto the course.

Similarly, when you dismount off the bike, a volunteer would take it from you and go rack it for you, another volunteer would hand you the Run Gear bag, and you’d do the same thing in the Changing Tent.

It took longer, but it was much more organized, and I found myself less likely to forget things.

In addition – one packed two other bags; Bike Special Needs and Run Special Needs. These were bags that contained items that you would want to have approximately 2/3 of the way through each course. This leads me to the topic of:

NUTRITION – I went fat-adapted in February, and have trained all year without carbohydrates. I’ve done many century rides on just Skippy Crunchy Peanut Butter and Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese, usually in small wraps that Ethel made using a low-carb tortilla. That’s what I had in my bags – Run and Bike gear, and both special needs, each had one peanut butter wrap, and one cheddar wrap. In addition, the Special Needs bags had sugar-free Monsters.

Anywhere in this race report, insert “I ate a roll-up” or “I drank a Monster” and you won’t be too far off.

RACE MORNING – I ate a fair breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and link sausage (see “fat-adapted”, above) and coffee. I took two Naproxen because – Ironman. It was gonna hurt. (I also had four Ibuprofen in my Run Special Needs bag, as Naproxen wasn’t going to get me through seventeen hours). Morning was calm enough; after Ethel dropped me off, we got separated and I never saw her again, and didn’t run into Corch either, so it was just me, by myself; I might have gotten more worked up if they had been around.

They called for the swimmers to come down for the start, so I headed for the beach.

THE SWIM –
IM CdA is a “self-seeded rolling start” – basically, they put folks out on the beach with signs (<50, 51-1:00, 1:01-1:15 etc) and you lined up in a position that corresponded to what you thought your swim time would be. I lined up behind the 1:31 sign; I was thinking 1:30, but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to break 1:30, and I’d rather be the pass-er than the pass-ee. There was no pro start; it was all age-groupers, so when the gun went off, the crowd started its slow movement towards the arch.

When I got there, the energy started to build up a little – yelling and high-fives – and then I went into the water with more adrenaline than I would have liked. This resulted in my not feeling comfortable; the water was choppy, the other swimmers seemed to be more aggressive than I was used to, there were swells from the cabin cruisers on the lake, and I was not a happy camper.

Doubts set in quickly – after all, at its root, adrenaline is fear. What was I doing, starting an Ironman race? Who did I think I was? Why was I swimming 2.4 miles in a deep lake? This isn’t fun. I want to go home!

In fact, I was so unhappy that by the time I got to the first yellow buoy, just a couple of hundred yards out into the lake, I went up into a breast stroke for a few seconds and sort of looked around for a support person on a kayak; I actually considered quitting the race. I still remember looking at that yellow buoy with the big “#1” on the side and thinking “This is as far as it goes”.

However, the moment passed as I kept swimming. The water was still choppy with swells, and I kept getting hit in the head and kicked, but I just kept swimming.

During that first lap, I reverted to a prayer that I had used many times during those 100+ mile rides, and the one 20 mile run-walk that I had done in the Cozumel heat –

“Lord, if you want me to do this, please give me the strength and the courage.
If you don’t want me to do this, then please grant me the acceptance.”

I finished the first lap in 47:29, and figured that I wasn’t going to make 1:30, but after I started the second loop, a simple – yet powerful – thought came – THE SWIM DOESN’T MATTER. Not that it didn’t have to be done, and I didn’t start taking it easy, but the comfortable assurance kept coming back – THE SWIM DOESN’T MATTER. (I had a funny feeling that Corch wouldn’t want to hear that, but I stuck with it).

It was quite simple, really – given my bad leg, and having to walk the marathon, I had no idea how fast the run would go, but based on experimentation and arithmetic, it seemed to me that I might wind up with a marathon time anywhere from 6:30 to 9:00 – which is a 2.5 hour margin of error. The swim *cut-off* was 2:10, so the margin of error for the marathon was bigger than any possible swim time I might end up with.

So I just kept swimming. The second loop was much more pleasant; the crowd had spread out some, and even though the chop and swells were still there, it was easier to handle when I wasn’t bumping up against folks. And heck – anytime you’ve been doing something for that long, you get used to it.

I came out of the water fat and happy at 1:36, which was not want I wanted, but if you had told me when I started this triathlon silliness that I would someday swim 2.4 miles of open water in waves and crowds in 1:36, I’d’a called you a lyin’ cheezewhacker.

T-1 – I got my Bike Gear bag and went into the tent. This sort of transition was much too…relaxed, and it shows up in my transition time of 12 minutes(!). But this was my first IM, and I didn’t want to make any mistakes, so I took my time. I came out of the tent and went to my bike and started moving towards the mount point; since I couldn’t run AT ALL, I had to walk slowly in my bike shoes. This enforces patience – especially since everybody else was going fast.

As I came out of the tent, I finally saw Ethel, and the universe righted itself.

THE BIKE – I climbed aboard my Noble Steed and tried to hit the Edges bike computer Start and the transition button on my Garmin 920XT at the same time – it didn’t work. But I didn’t care – I was on my bike, and that is for me these days like a second home. I just started passing people.

One side effect of being a slow swimmer is that one comes out of the water with slower athletes – but I’m fair-to-middlin’ on the bike, which means that I spend almost all of most of my bike time passing folks. And that was the case in this race, as well, for a long time.

The IM CdA bike course is two loops, of two legs – first one goes through town out to the lakeside road east of town, then double back on that, back through town, then out Highway 95 on the west side for the much longer – and much MUCH hillier – west loop, then repeat.

I just passed folks on the east loop, kept my place coming back through town (and saw Ethel again, which is always a goodness) and then hit the mountains on the west side.

There was a headwind – not bad, but definite – but, well, we all had the same headwind, so I just kept riding. I was supposed to keep my Normalized Power number at 150 watts, but – heck, I’m not running, right? – and it got as high as 180 during the first loop. There are about 2600 feet of climbing for each loop, and it’s more uphill on the way out – into the wind – than back towards the lack.

I eventually settled in with the same crowd of folks, playing leap-frog with several of them, and that took us back into town.

Hit downtown and saw Ethel again (yay!) and then went out and did the east loop, still staying with the same group of folks, still playing leap-frog with them.

When I came through town to head back to the west side, I decided that I was done playing patty-fingers – no more Mr Nice Guy! So I started dropping folks.

When I hit the mountains, the wind had picked WAY up – some folks said that the official wind speed was 25 MPH. It was blowing people off of their bikes – I heard that it blew over one of the aid station tents. But one nice thing about being a fat guy is that I have a high cross-sectional density, so the wind couldn’t blow me over; I kept passing people all the way out to the turnaround.

Then, with the tailwind, Church Was Out. I reeled folks in all the way back to town.

This was the most fun part of perhaps any tri I’ve done – the bike at CdA – even though other folks are still cussing the heat and the wind. I think that it reminded me of Marine Corp Marathon, back in Ought and Ninety-Three, when I ran negative splits and qualified for Boston; during the last few miles of that race, it was like I was running through statues; I kept getting faster and faster, and it felt like manna was coming in through my crown chakra and coming out my fingers and toes.

During the downhills, I learned a new prayer – “God, please remove my fear, and grant me prudence”. In a five-mile long downhill, you can get up some serious speed, and you can do some serious damage.

In this race, I was not getting faster – the conditions were seeing to that – but everybody else was getting slower and more tired. I had trained in heat and wind on Cozumel, and I had done a LOT of 100+ mile rides, so I was in my element.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have another ride like that – but one was enough.

I got back to town and dismounted. Came off the bike right at 9 hours – my “best possible” plan was 8 hours, but my “best possible” plan didn’t include 25 mph head winds, so I was cool with that.

T-2

They took my bike from me and sent me to the Changing Tent with my Run Gear bag; again, I took way too long, but I wanted to make sure that I did it right. I was about to do something I’d never done before – walk 26.2 miles – and I wanted to leave as little as possible to chance.

As I was heading out of transition, a tall fellow came up next to me, stuck out his hand, and said “Congratulations. You are the only person who passed me on the bike.”

THE “RUN”

And we’re off. I’m walking at 4 MPH while folks around me are running. I’d better get used to that – it’s gonna be a long day (and night).

I’d injured my calf, and every time that I had tried to run, it went into spasm – and when it did that, I was then unable to walk very well. So I had had to make up my mind to walk every step of the consarned thing, until the end – if I could, I would run to the finish line. But I wouldn’t get there unless I walked all the way.

Okay, if I’m going to do this, then I’m going to have to find a way to motivate it. And the best way that I know to get help is to give it. So I started right off playing the clown – mugging to the crowd, singing with the music, talking to my fellow competitors and joking and encouraging as much as possible. Heck, why not? Walking at 4 MPH was not about to tax my aerobic engine – My heart rate hung right around the 100 BPM mark after the first few minutes of settling down. So why not make a party out of it?…as long as I can do so at 4 MPH.

So that was the plan.

The “run” consisted of three loops – from town out along the east bike loop, then back to the park; the same loop again, from the park and back to the park, and the same loop again, except the third one ended up at the finish line, down near the beach. I walked at a steady pace, often with Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” in my head (but with the lyrics slightly confused) – and sometimes, I’d go ahead and sing ’em:

“He walked with a purpose, straight ahead, in his sneakers
And asked many questions like children often do

He said, “Tell me all your thoughts on God
And tell me, am I very far?”

Quite often, somebody would say to me “Hey, you are walking with a purpose!” and I would say “Straight ahead, in my sneakers” – and they’d look funny and head on past me.

With three out-and-back loops, I would see the other competitors face-on twice each loop, and I would see the spectators twice each loop, as well – doing something like this, after a while, you start to form relationships. They got to know who I was, and vice-versa.

I drank a small amount at every aid station – including tiny cups of Red Bull – and took a Succeed electrolyte pill about once an hour. The big winds on the west side were not affecting the east, and during the first loop, a forest fire started up in the west – which, while not a good thing, did blank out the sun, so there was no real heat issue during the hottest part of the day.

I walked, and smiled and laughed and sang and joked and encouraged, for the first two loops. It was fun. It wasn’t COMFORTABLE, but it didn’t hurt. At those times when it started feeling difficult, I reverted to the “strength and courage” prayer, and then I would be okay again.

When I made the turn at the park for the last loop, a volunteer handed me a Glow-Stick, because it was getting dark. I carried the Glow-Stick from that point on; when darkness hit, it helped the folks running towards me to not run into me; it was DARK. And that last loop was lonely and quiet. At the start, I realized that – unless my calf cramped up – I had the cutoffs soundly beaten, and that I could slow down.

But I couldn’t. My legs were locked into 4 MPH; my MIND was locked into 4 MPH. It didn’t matter what was necessary; the discipline had become its own purpose, like a living thing.

I walked, with a purpose, straight ahead, in my sneakers. I used the “strength and courage” prayer a lot. When I saw a Glow-Stick coming, I waved my Glow-Stick at ’em and said something snappy. And I kept going. 4 MPH.

When I came back through the park at the end, it was almost empty, until I got near the town-side – and then the streets were lined with people. Cheering people. Screaming, clapping people. I wondered, for the umpteenth time that day – how can people CLAP for that long? How can they cheer for that long? And for people whom they didn’t know, and would never see again?

I walked faster up the hill out of the park towards Sherman Street, and when I turned onto the street, I had to start running. That had been the plan all along – run to the finish. And the people SCREAMED! and jumped and applauded!

And then I heard the call – “James Puckett, of Bozeman, Montana – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

(I had had a comeback for that statement, planned long before in my mind, but in all of the emotion, I forgot it – and it wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody would have heard me anyway🙂

AFTER –
Ate food, hugged Ethel and Corch, got a massage – and felt higher than a kite. I had woke up at 2:40 that morning; I didn’t get into bed until 1:01 that night. I haven’t felt right since – my lower body is swollen to the point that I’ve been carrying an extra ten pounds all week. I haven’t worked out at all; I’ve been groggy and felt poorly the whole time.

And I’m very grateful that I was able to finish.

Don’t ask me if I’m doing another one. I simply won’t answer. I have no idea, right now, what I’m going to do next week – never mind next year.

But I did that one.

Here is Corch Ian, “admiring” his handiwork at the finish line of Ironman Coeur D’Alene:

finished

I was higher’n a kite and crazy as a runover dog.

I’d been training for an Ironman for almost a year – I picked CdA during the winter, deciding to do the half which took place in June, and reserving signing up for the full until I saw how the half went. Obviously, it went well enough that I signed up for the full (see photo, above).

I had some injuries along the way, that kept me from doing the running that I wanted – and that ultimately kept me from actually being able to run the marathon portion of the race. I had to walk the whole darn thing.

I’m going to give a race report later, with details about the various stages. Of course, by the time I get around to that, nobody will read it. So right now I’m gonna say something peculiar, and I hope that nobody takes offense – but, here it is.

My Ironman wasn’t that hard.

“Let me ‘splain. No – is too much. Let me sum up.” — Inigo Montoya, “Princess Bride”

The swim is the swim – I’d done thousands of yards. It started out to be uncomfortable – the water was choppy, the other swimmers seemed to be a bit more aggressive than I am used to, and there were cabin cruisers on the lake making large swells. I thought about quitting early, but kept swimming, and the second 1.2 mile lap was actually quite pleasant. The training was there, and the fact that I didn’t want to drown kept me from trying a full-out effort for an hour and a half – especially since I still had the bike and the run later. So the swim was the swim.

The bike was the bike. Coeur D’Alene is one of the hardest courses – listed in the hardest 25% of Ironman rides. And we had 25 MPH sustained headwinds on the mainly uphill part of the ride, the route out Highway 95. But I had done a lot of 100+ mile rides, and five of those were on Cozumel, with wind and serious heat. I actually passed a lot of younger, skinnier, fitter riders – and my Noble Steed passed a lot of very fancy, expensive bikes – because of all of those thousands of miles in training. Besides, I had my bike computer and my heart rate monitor, so I was able to monitor my effort and make sure that I didn’t wear myself out, because i still had the run. So the bike was the bike.

BUT THE RUN WAS NOT A RUN.

I had done all of this training based on swimming 2.4 miles,  biking 112, and then running 26.2 – but I did not get to run 26.2 miles.

I had to walk.

Now, I’m here to tell you that walking 26.2 miles at 4 MPH is not easy – especially if you’ve never done it. I don’t believe that I’ve hiked over 8 miles since I was a kid in Boy Scouts. I’ve always ran, so I’ve never been a distance hiker. So it was a strange motion, and not a comfortable one.

BUT IT IS NOT RUNNING. And it does not require anything like the effort, and does not give the beating. And doesn’t take as much transition from cycling. There is no doubt that the run is the hardest part of triathlon – not just because it comes after the bike and swim, either. Running is the most energy-demanding of the disciplines; there’s no way to get one’s heart rate up as high, or keep it as high for as long, as in running.

(In addition, there was the issue of the torn calf – if I started working too hard, it would make me aware of itself, and remind me not to overdo – it would sort of fire warning shots across my bow, so to speak).

So I went out and I “hammered” the walk, as much as I could, but there’s no way to work as hard walking as running. Even though it hurt, it wasn’t hard.

And I was able to distract myself by chatting up everybody around me, and talking with all of the spectators as well – I’d even sing along with their blaring music, at full voice, and nod and smile at everybody, which is something that you simply can not do while running.

Even after dark, when the party was over, and all there was left to do was a stiff-legged joint-hammering waddle for the last nine miles carrying a glow tube, I was still walking, not running.

But I had trained to do the run.

So, although I’m as tired as heck, and my legs and joints are swollen (I’m about ten pounds heavier than before the race, even though I burned about 11,000 calories – gee, my ankles are big…) and I can’t concentrate very well or bend too easily – I have to admit that my race was not as hard as I expected it to be – and was not as hard as I had trained for.

Which is probably why I was so animated in the above photo – because Coach had me trained up to swim, bike and run, but I swam, biked and walked instead🙂

So I wasn’t as tired as I should have been after the race.

I feel – strangely – cheated. My Ironman wasn’t hard enough🙂

Wow – it’s been almost two months since my last post.

That post was about doing IM 70.3 Coeur D’Alene, which went well enough that I turned around and signed up for the Full Monty – IM CdA, which is 21 August…which is why I haven’t done a blog post since then – because I’ve been way way too busy training for the SSoDKtM.

(editor’s note: The SDKtM {Stupidest Distance Known to Man} is the marathon, because it is 26 miles 385 yards – and it is that distance for a really silly reason having to do with British royalty and the rhinovirus. However, the SSoDKtM {Stupidest Set of Distances Known to Man} is the Ironman, because it is composed of THREE arbitrary distances – 2.4 miles, which came from the Swim Across the Bay, 112 miles, which came from a bike race around Oahu, and the marathon itself).

Since I last updated these pages, I have trained more than ever before in my long and boring life of training.

For instance – here’s the graph of last Saturday’s trainer ride, in which I stayed on the bike, clipped in for six hours, and listened to the same song on repeat the entire time, to gain “mental toughness” in addition to aerobic training:

aian
This race is unlike anything ever before. A marathon is nothing compared to it – when one finishes the swim and bike, the joke is “well, all that’s left is a marathon.” Contrariwise, since running the marathon in a Mumble-Mumble comes after the bike and swim, it’s the hardest marathon one can imagine.

We spent three weeks on Cozumel, which was “supposed” to be a diving trip – but, of course, diving took second fiddle to triathlon training. Beach time took third fiddle. We rode LONG rides in heat and humidity; did a lot of running in the “air-conditioned” gym (“air-conditioned” in Mexican advertising isn’t the same as “air-conditioned” in a Montana suburb) and swam in the local 25 meter pool. We trained a lot; it was the training peak of my life.

So I’m not concerned about the swim and bike; I’ve done overdistance on both of them many times in training. I’ve done so many century+ rides – both on the roads and on the trainer – “I ain’t skeered”. But the longest I’ve gone on my feet was a 20 miler on Cozumel the day after a century – and that *hurt*.

And then my calf seized up when I tried my last long run, a week and a half ago. So now – I can’t run at all.

Sure, I’m doing all I can – three massage and MAT (Muscular Activation Therapy) treatments last week, two this week, got two more scheduled for next week. Stretching everything, taking it easy on the calf, and Ethel is giving me ice massage nightly. I’m doing everything that I can to prepare my leg for 26.2 miles, but I won’t be able to run the whole thing – heck, I’m scared to try to run ANY of it, because if my calf seizes up again, I won’t be able to finish.

So now I’m in the silly situation of having trained well for a Mumble-Mumble, but can’t take the risk of running the marathon, which means that I am going to be out there for a long, long time.

Which will leave me in the situation where, if I finish, I’ll be wondering – couldn’t I have done better were I not injured?…and (horror of horrors) that will lead to the thought – shouldn’t I try another one?

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 painful😦

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🙂