Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Trans Iowa Experience


I have waited a week to write my report for Trans Iowa as I felt I really needed some time for it to soak in and to also let my feelings about finishing die down a bit. I will admit, after finishing Trans Iowa (after three failed attempts and one near miss where I pulled the plug at mile 200!) I got a bit of a big head. I am typically a pretty modest guy, but finishing this beast made me feel like I had really accomplished something. I certainly didn't want to write something that sounded pompous as that just isn't me.

Finishing Trans Iowa, even dead last, has really challenged my thinking about some things. You see, in 2001 I wrote my masters thesis on a topic called Locus of Control. Essentially, one's Locus of Control is the place that a person puts responsibility. Do people take personal responsibility for what happens in their life, or is it other people or luck that determine what happens in their life. Is it because of what I do that determines my success, or is it what others do to me that determines my success or failure? I have preached to my students during my whole career that they need to take 100% responsibility for what happens to them and they will ultimately succeed. I took this approach to TI doing everything I could to finish.

There are many life lessons to be learned about finishing something like Trans Iowa and I may be taking this little weekend a bit too serious, but this is how I feel. In life, there are people that dream big. There are people that tend to really believe they can do things and they reach for the stars. People may think they are strange, different, or odd, but something about them makes them want to achieve things that are out there. I make a living instilling this attitude in my students. I want them to feel that what is down the road for them is beyond their wildest dreams. That if they focus their work and goals they can achieve the impossible. We should not put limits on what we can do! We need to be around people that we can travel the journey together. I have had people such as Skip Cronin, Mark Stevenson, Jeff Kerkove, Jon Billman, Jim McGuire, Matt Maxwell and Patrick Humenny befriend me and show me what it is all about to go after huge goals, and through several failures, finally finish the task at hand.

Completing Trans Iowa Version 5, no matter cheesy it may seem, is something that ensured that I am the person I am longing to be. It was a gut check and I passed.

What has challenged my thinking so much was the fact that being successful at Trans Iowa depends so much on factors that we have little or no control over. Number one is the weather! Without perfect conditions I had no chance at finishing Trans Iowa. None! Also, when it comes down to it, I had something that I do not believe in happen to me, LUCK. I was incredibly lucky during Trans Iowa and now I have to admit that I have changed my tune just a bit on the concept of LUCK. You see, during Trans Iowa my body worked like it has never before. God must have been tired of my many prays for strength and just granted it. For whatever reason, my body felt like a machine for once. I never got tired (sleepy yes!), for whatever reason I was able to just go. It was probably a once in a lifetime feeling.

For the months leading up to TI I ran and ran and got into great running shape. I was only biking maybe 3-6 hours a week and some weeks none at all! Then, in February I started getting pretty serious and put in a couple of centuries, a handful of metrics and was commuting into Ames quite a bit. I have always believed that the key to finishing TI was to be a commuter. My good friend Jon Billman rode about 2 miles to work and back for six months, rode a handful of 20-30 milers and then went on to finish the Great Divide Race! Yes, that is right! I have watched in amazement just how fast Matt Maxwell is and the guy really just commutes everywhere (including to his parents house 120 miles way!) and he is a very strong rider! So, I decided to commute into Ames a lot more. I donate plasma on the south side of Ames and I think it was in December that I had decided to ride the 9 miles to and from Biolife Plasma Services twice a week until TI. I rode every time, but once. Also, I tend to believe that riding after donating 800 ml of essentially electrolytes was probably teaching my body on how to ride at with low levels of electrolytes. Call it blood doping if you want. I think it may have helped.

Then, in March I made a goal to ride 25 25 milers in about 34 days or so. This was the kicker! I swear this is what helped me finish. I will admit, I only got to 18 out of the 25, but I also had about 6 or so 15-18 milers. When Trans Iowa came I just focused on twenty five miles at a time! I know that helped a ton!

On to the report:
Jim, Gary and I were up at 2:39 on Saturday morning (I could hear that the guys one floor above us were up so I had to get up as well!). I ate two PB sandwiches, a Boost (swear by it!), one cup of coffee and a Clif Bar (love them!). Once we got to the start I ate two more PB sandwiches and someone was passing around Clif Bars so I ate another one.

We got to the 40 mile check point easily and which was my goal. Get to the first check point like you had just started. Goal met. I will admit, I did take longer at this checkpoint than I wanted (20 minutes?), but we had gotten there around 7 so I wasn't concerned. The plan was to go just the right speed to make the checkpoints as we had 12 hours to complete the last 100 miles of the race which should be pretty doable. I hit the bathroom and decided to take 100 ounces with me just in case. I took off with Andy Stockman (7th place finisher!), Steve Fuller, and Ron Saul. It wasn't long and Steve started pulling away and Andy went with him. Ron and I stuck together and we both admitted that we were seriously missing our morning coffee! We were making decent enough time, but we were in a funk. Suddenly I came upon Andy standing alongside the rode and he wanted to ride with me. He admitted that he had taken off too fast and needed to slow down a bit. I asked him were Steve was and he told me that Steve was in front of him and he decided not to go with him. Andy and I rolled into North English and stopped at the Casey's General Store. This was great as I grabbed some chicken strips, my Dirty Kanza favorite, potato wedges, and RED BULL! Honestly, I have never had Red Bull other than with a Jagger Bomb or two so I had no idea what to expect. All I can say is my lack of coffee funk was gone!

Andy and I were now motoring for the checkpoint knowing we were going to be kinda close. We kept on riding and riding. I was now getting a flat so we pumped it up. Then just 10-20 miles down the road I tried pumping again and broke the stem connection of the tube. New tube and some pumping (15-20 minutes!) and we were off. We now were getting a little too close for comfort to the cut off time so we pushed it a bit. Andy had almost run out of water so we stopped at the truck stop on the interstate for all of 1 minute and then were off again. We took off and were determined to get to the checkpoint in time.

When it came down to it I think we made the checkpoint by 20 minutes or so. I waited patiently for my friends Jim and Gary and talked with some other riders. Jim and Gary made the checkpoint with about 5 minutes to spare. We ate and rested. Around 7:40 or so I was very ready to get the ball rolling again (Andy took off about 20-30 minutes earlier with another group thus his 7th place finish!). I waited until 8 when Gary and Jim were ready and we took off together. I knew I had 6 hours to ride 67 miles and since I was averaging about 10 miles per hour with stops then I was off the pace I needed so at this point I needed to push just a bit. Not really push, but I had to stay on the bike. I am not fast so I had to make sure that any stop was going to be very short. Within just seconds of leaving the gas station Jim and Gary were off my wheel so I decided I needed to just keep going or I was not going to make my goal.

Jim and I have known each other since about 1977 when I was a little tike and he was often my doctor. In 1994 we became climbing buddies and in 2005 watching TI V.1 I was absolutely blown away and had to buy a bike! The rest is history! We had a talk the night before TI and I told him this, "Jim, there are two things that make TI very difficult, one is the distance, and the second is leaving a good friend behind." He promised me that he would not have any bad feelings if I continued on without him if he was safe. You know me.... worried about how people feel. I decided to keep pushing.

Between checkpoint 2 and 3 I ended up having to go to the bathroom twice and so those were my only stops (a few minutes at most)! It was maybe 11:30 or so and I got a call from my new friend Warran Wiebe from Kansas. He asked if I was still going and I asked him where he was. He was only about four or so miles away. He said he would soft pedal so I could catch him. This gave me even more motivation to keep going strong. I caught Warran after about 6-7 miles and he was freezing. We were right by the town of Garwin (I believe) and he decided to bail and to get picked up. I was once again alone. I continued on my way. I saw 1:50 AM on my computer when I got to a T intersection right outside of Traer. I was confused. I suddenly saw the gray tape sign that GT and DP made that pointed down a B road of sorts. I took it as it was going into town and I thought it had to be it. I rode into town and found Ken Yokanovich and Skip Cronin waving their arms in the air! I had made it at 1:53! I had just made the cut off by 7 minutes!

I said something to the effect, "What town is this? Toledo?" Ken says with a bit of shock and concern, " No, this is Traer!". "TRAER?" I say. This town had some memories from TI V.3. Actually, it was about 30-35 miles from after going through Traer in V.3 that I pulled the plug. I got a bit of fire in my belly thinking, "NOT THIS TIME!". I will admit though, with those guys about to take off from the checkpoint, as it closed at 2:00 AM, I was thinking about quitting for a couple of seconds, but I was sitting next to two past finishers and I really respect these guys. I had to get moving. I was pretty bummed that the gas station was closed as I was really looking forward to some kick ass coffee, and a bunch of other junk. A roller dog would have really hit the spot! But, no!
"So, Ken, how far is the next town?" I honestly was thinking it had to be just down the road. It had to be. "It is 57 miles Paul." "Fifty seven miles?" That didn't make me too happy as I had just ridden 67 miles without a stop. Well, back on the bike with cheers behind me! Damn I felt good!

This portion of the course I was in damage control. The second I had gotten back on the bike it was as if the finish (97 miles away) was right around the corner. I can not explain that feeling. I have bonked on 30 mile rides, trust me, but at this point, at mile 217 looking at another 100 just didn't seem like that big of a deal. This is how I wanted to feel when I quit at mile 200 of V.3, but I gave in. This time was different. I continued on my way. The gravel wasn't always the best, but I kept going. I had always believed that the night would be horribly long, but it was crazy fast for me. The sun was coming up and I felt like I had just left the checkpoint. Craziness. I made it to the town of Belle Plaine around 8:30 or so. I honestly do not know when exactly. I ate two donuts (mistake!) and a chocolate milk. Some guys talked to me in the gas station and they wanted to hear all about the race as a group had just left an hour ahead of me or so and they had watched them hangout and then leave. This actually helped me get a grasp of what I was doing. I was exactly where I had dreamt about many, many times. I had about 40 miles to go.

I took off and called my wife. Tammy was at home and I had learned at checkpoint two that I was going to need a ride back to Gilbert from Williamsburg. I didn't hear the part that my ride was going onto Davenport after the finish. I called Tammy and she was coming to get me. She usually takes an hour to get ready (she had just gotten out of the shower) and it is a two hour drive to Williamsburg. I sat up and enjoyed the ride. I took it easy as I knew I had it licked. I was feeling really good (ok, my brain was fuzzy!) and I felt incredible knowing I was going to do it. BUT!!!! It was around mile 290 or so that Dave Pals put the hurt on me! To me, we went through some of the steepest hills of the ride and some hairy terrain. I didn't feel so good at this point and those donuts were killing my gut. I actually had a few thoughts that if I cramp up I could be finished. I took in some nutrition and 3 Endurolytes (swear by them!) and hoped for the best. We then had some miles of pavement along the Iowa River and this flat section really helped a ton. I was rejuvenated at this point. I was on the phone with several friends and family telling them that I was finally finishing Trans Iowa! Did I mention my mother called me every two hours from 10 pm until when I finished! The poor thing. %^)

I rolled into the finish and felt like Superman. It was incredible. I had riders I had looked up to shaking my hand and giving me hugs. You see, if you google Paul Jacobson and cycling you will not see many results. I am not much of a cyclist. I am just a guy that had Trans Iowa on the brain and had to train for four years to finish it. I think my final time was around 32 hours and 30 minutes or so which was good for 11th place. I will take it!

I was very fortunate to win the Vassago Fisticuff frame for coming into checkpoint three in last place and still finish. I am one lucky guy! That is right..... LUCKY!

Next up.... Dirty Kanza 200! This will be by third time down there and hopefully I will become one of the few three time finishers! And.... 200 miles is so much smarter! :)

Happy training.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trans Iowa V.5

I have been trying to put into words how I feel about Trans Iowa V.5, but it is hard to do. It is very hard to explain to people unless you (like many of the people that will be reading this!) have set a goal and had that be one of the top goals you have for a year. And fail at meeting that goal for three years in a row until you finally succeed. I will start at the beginning and will be as modest as one can be after finally feeling like Trans Iowa. :^)

In 2005 I was a support person for Jim McGuire and Gary Cale. Jim actually was my doctor at times during my childhood and stitched up my leg in the ER after a bike accident during my freshman or sophomore year in high school! I guess I owned him! The first person I met at TI V.1 was Mike Curiak. Jim went up to him to talk and Jim was obviously star struck. Jim later told me something to the effect, "That is the Michael Jordan of endurance mountain biking." At the time I didn't get it!

I watched the start that year (HECK! I think the start was at 8 AM that year! How is that fair?) and drove the van around the course and watched in total amazement. I thought I was watching what was the edge of human possibility. I had rode RAGBRAI in high school and thought that was an accomplishment. To almost ride across the state in a day on gravel and B roads was just out of this world. It was only a few months later and I bought my first mountain bike.

That winter I signed up for Trans Iowa V.2 and was completely addicted. I was riding like crazy in all kinds of conditions. I had the support of several good riders telling me I was doing well. The race came and we all know how horrible those conditions where! I literally went into a mild depression I swear. I was so bummed that I had put hundreds of hours into training and actually got off course at mile 35 and quit in a town at mile 50. I was devastated.

The training for TI V.3 was not quite as intense, but was still pretty solid. I was still riding my 500 dollar 26 in mountain bike. We had IDEAL conditions for TI V.3 and I really had a shot at finishing. I was feeling strong and got to the first and only checkpoint at mile 135 or so with plenty of time. We got to the next town of La Porte City and we sat around a little Dairy Sweet for a good hour and a half sharing stories and eating a ton. We took off and I quit with a friend named Dwight Beavers at mile 200. At the time Dwight was out of fluids as he crashed and his bottles came open and spilled! We went into a town to see if there was a bar open at 1:45 in the morning and there was nothing. We called in supports and that was it. Ever since that day I have fought with my morals on whether I should have stayed with my friend Dwight or if I should have gone on. I have battled this demon for a bit actually. I am a bit selfish with this and I am normally not this way, but I have invested so much into wanting to finish TI it has been a bit of a mental struggle. I know I did the right thing in staying with Dwight that night. I was the better man for it.

Then came TI V.4. My training was a bit less than the previous year, but I had a better bike. I had a Redline Monocog Flight, had some lightweight rims built up and put some Kenda Small Block 8 cross tires (35's) on. This made bike noticeably lighter, faster and I was able to coast quite a bit more. I was feeling pretty good about TI. Well, let's say it actually snowed the day of TI V.4 and the winds were in the 30 mph range with larger gusts. I actually saw a very strong young lady get blown right off her bike the wind was so strong. Well, barely anyone made the checkpoint (I quit at mile 96 as I was going too slow to make the cut off) and only a handful left the checkpoint. I can honestly say this didn't bother me much as this particular time I was a bit more sane about it all.

Then came Trans Iowa Version 5. TI V.5 totally over took my thinking much like it did in during my training for V.2. I was a running machine during the winter months and was riding single speed all winter. I wasn't riding a ton in the winter, maybe 5-8 hours a week tops. I had some weeks where I didn't ride at all. Over the winter I started commuting into Ames at least twice a week which is usually a 15-20 mile round trip ride. I threw in some rides with friends Paul Varnum, Matt Maxwell, Stephen Carney, and Nick Wethington. All of these guys really pushed me. I had down two centuries and 4 or so metric centuries before TI. One key workout was a metric starting at 6 on a Friday night and then waking up around 5:30 on Saturday morning to ride a full century. This was a very good indicator as I rode the metric very hard and still finish the century with quite a bit of gas in the tank. I really felt I had pretty fitness going into TI V.5. But, what I think made the most difference was my plan to ride 25 25 milers in just over 30 days. After work I would ride nearly every night and this REALLY made the difference. Riding the gravel at night by myself always trying to get to 25 really helped at TI. I broke Trans Iowa into 25 mile chunks and it actually made TI feel shorter if that makes sense.

Ok. Time for bed. I will write about the specifics of the ride tomorrow or Thursday!

Happy training.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What an incredible experience

I will write more in the next couple of days, but I wanted to let you know that I, after 3 other attempts, have complete the Trans Iowa bicycle race! Plus, I won this for being the last person to make the last check point at mile 217 and to still finish (in other words, I got last place!):

Mobile post sent by paulclimb510 using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Mobile post sent by paulclimb510 using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trans Iowa thoughts

Once again I am in the Trans Iowa funk. This time of year work gets CRAZY busy and I have to stay focused as TI is on the brain! This is the time where I am doing my last minute brainstorming and trying to decide what to bring, etc. Obviously weather has a lot to do with it. Being my four TI I have learned that having nice weather is kind of like winning the lottery. VERY unlikely to say the least!

Here the plan of action of what I am bringing along:

1. Two 24 ounce bottles on the bike. One water, one GuO2.
2. 25-50 ounces in the CamelBack Mule depending on heat of the day and distance between towns.
3. About 8-10 Carbboom Gels (One about every 3 hours)
4. About 8 or so Sport Beans with Caffiene (One about every 3 hours)
5. About 5-6 Clif Block packages. (One about every 3 hours)
6. About 4 to 5 Cliff Bars. (One about every 4 hours)
7. Four to five 8 ounce Boost drinks. (One every 50 miles)
8. At gas stations I will eat pork tenderlions, brats, pizza, I would love to eat a 1/3 lb burger at a Hardees! Small bags of peanuts and maybe a Snickers or two. Definitely a Snickers ice cream bar!
8.5 All food will go in Mule and this frame bag.
9. Elete Water put in my GuO2.
10. Two spare tubes and a patch kit
11. About 20 Hammer Endurolytes.
12. Arm and Leg warmers
13. Cannondale water/windproof socks
14. Two chemical warmers
15. Grey Tape
16. Tire lever
17. Pump
18. Chain splitter
19. Map of Iowa or maybe the copies of these maps for the route that I think TI will take.
20. Rain coat and pants.
21. Cell phone and camera
22. Cue sheet holder.
23. Helmet light and bar mount light.

As you can see, I love to eat!

Plans of action for the day:
1. Be realistic and not over confident. This means ride at a reasonable pace that will get me as far as possible.
2. I plan on riding with a group of at least 4-5 people. This includes Steve Fuller, Jim McGuire, Gary Cale, Dwight Beavers and hopefully Ron Saul. It would be would be great to have a few others.
3. Depending on the conditions of the day I want to get to the first check point at mile 40 feeling as if I have barely even started. I am doing to do my best to start reasonably. One thing I have learned is not to go out hard unless you don't have a choice (Version 2!!!!!)
4. I am not going to care where the other riders are. My number one goal is to last as long as possible!
5.Eat and have fun.
6. Make sure that I am not pulling all the time. I need to do a better job of drafting.
7. Have fun.
8. Don't charge the hills.
9. Coast.
10. Ride in 25 miles chunks. Do NOT focus on the distance. Ride 25 miles and then do it again. If I am riding 25 miles in 2.5 hours during the toughest sections I am doing great! Keep at it.
11. Don't get selfish.
12. Get to the 2nd check point and leave ASAP. Never stay in one place for long. Stay on the bike (thus the food!).
13. Listen to music at night.
14. Never, ever give up. Rest for a few minutes if I want to quit and force myself to get back on the bike.
15. Have fun. If I am suffering at times it will be better down the road.
16. Encourage my friends.
17. Call people on the phone. Free minutes baby!
18. The goal is to finish so I never have to do it again!

Okay, so there are some thoughts. If you have any advice let me know.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

My guess to Trans Iowa V.5

What's been going on?

Sorry for anyone that reads this. I haven't been posting again, but here are some updates:

Since my last post Matt Maxwell, Nick Wethington and I completed a century ride in some windy conditions. Over all I was bonking a bit at the end, but that is mainly because I rode this pretty darn hard trying to keep up with these freaks of nature! This was a few weeks ago. Then, last weekend I completed a metric century on a Friday night finishing around 11 at night and then got up and rode at 6:30 and completed a full century. For the past month I have been riding about 25 miles four to five days week. I am really feeling good about Trans Iowa and the Dirty Kanza. I feel more prepared than the last couple of years so we shall see. We now have less than two weeks to go until TI so it should be interesting. I can't wait!

Happy training.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's coming!

This past week I was in southern Missouri for four days so I didn't get any riding in, but I did get a nice 6 mile run in. It was incredible as it was on a series of one tenth of a mile to one mile rollers and some of them were at an estimated 15-20 percent grade. I am sure a 85 VW Rabbit wouldn't have made it up some of these hills. I was happy to have averaged 8 minute pace on this run. I will admit though, my calves were not prepared for such steep hills so I felt it for a few days!

On Monday I got my 2nd of 25 25 milers in on the bike. It was windy with gusts up to 40 mph so it was a bit exciting. I will admit, half the ride was in Ames so I really can't say I battled the wind for the whole 25. Tonight, Tuesday, I got out for a nice 10 mile run. This felt great. I took it nice and easy running 9:30-10:00 pace and closed with a 6:50 last mile. I just wanted to get the distance in and took it easy.

I have gotten into that "manic" state again for my training so I am very anxious to see where I am at come Trans Iowa time on May 2!

Happy training.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The past couple of weeks!

Sorry, I have been training! I just haven't spent the time to post. Sorry.

On the last update I wrote that I was having some troubles with my shin. I am feeling 100 percent again and am back in marathon training. I won't be running the best marathon ever, but that is ok.

Also, in the last post I talked about a gravel race near Winterset. Let's just say it was 35 degrees and raining and sleeting. I bailed at the halfway point with about 10 other guys. It wasn't worth it for me! I was sick for a good week after that!

This past weekend I did a metric century with Stephen Carney. I converted the Monocog Flight over to a 1 X 8 for Trans Iowa and it rocked! I feel I have about the ideal bike for me for Trans Iowa. We averaged over 14 mph which is good for me! I took Sunday off the bike, but did do a run of 6 miles. On Monday, Tuesday and now today on Wednesday I rode for 25-35 miles each day and ran another 5 today.

I have set a new goal for training for Trans Iowa. Starting today I set a goal of riding 25 miles on 25 different days until the day of the race (May 2). Of course, I will be getting some longer rides in for sure, but one thing I have learned about Trans Iowa is that the guys that commute seem to do really well at Trans Iowa. So, I essentially have 25 of 43 days that I need to ride 25 miles or more. That is a pretty big goal for myself. I will have my work cut out for me! But.... the dividends may be priceless!

March running calendar
March 20 = 7 miles
March 22 = 10 miles
March 24 = 7 miles
March 26 = 7 miles
March 29 = 14 miles
March 31 = 5 miles

If I can keep this up I should be in the best shape of my life come June.

Now... if I could only lose about 7 lbs or so!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What I have been up to!


Since my last post I have been working a ton! In a week and a half I put in 6 14-15 hour days. In between those days I went snowmobiling in the UP of Michigan for three days. This does not lend itself to training! Doh! So, here is the run down.

Since the last post I went for a 5 mile run and had a good one along with a 25 mile ride afterwords. Two days later I ran another 5 and did another 25 mile ride. After the run I was feeling the effects of a stress reaction in my left shin. I have had two stress fractures in my shins before and knew I had to take a break from the running. I then took a week off from the running and then came the week from hell for work hours so I have only run once in two weeks. My plan of running the marathon may be going out the window. I need to get running if I am going to do it. I think I may be healed though so that is good. We will see.

On the riding front, I have been doing ok, but need to be riding more now that my work hours have calmed down. Two weekends ago now I went for a metric century ride with Nick and Matt. We had about 20 mph winds from the north and we rode HARD for 25 miles straight into it. This is when riding a single speed really works you over! I felt pretty strong considering and felt good. The ride back with the wind was nice, but it was still some work spinning out trying to keep up. I finished the ride being right on the edge of bonkville as I wasn't taking in many calories which was the goal. I am trying to do more rides with just water and less calories for now trying to teach my body to just run on my bodies own energy stores so that when I do eat it will be as efficient as possible. I don't know if that will work, but I am trying it.

After that ride I did another 25 miler two days later, but then took off 10 days! Last night I went for a ride for an hour. I was happy to have averaged 14.5 mph on the gravel. With gears I think I would have been in the mid 15's as I was spinning out for half the ride. Today I will be getting some miles in and tomorrow I have a metric century gravel race in the hills around Winterset. Since it will likely be raining I will get worked over for sure, but that is ok. I certainly won't be racing, but will just be riding hard to have some fun.

I should be riding quite a bit now that work has calmed down.... but I have said that before!

Happy training.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunday ride!

I am looking at going out for a nice long ride on Sunday around noon! If you would like to join me leave a comment or give me a call!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This week.

Well, the training has really begun now for my cycling events coming up in the coming months. This week I ran 5 miles on Tuesday followed by a 20 mile ride, same for Thursday. On Saturday I ran 10 miles and then today, Sunday rode just under 50 miles of wonderful gravel. Here is how it went today.

Paul Varnum, Matt Maxwell, Stephen Carney, and Nick Wethington met at my place for what was to be 30-40 miles. It was about 18 degrees with a 5 mph wind from the north, sunny skies and PERFECT gravel. Why is it that frozen gravel is so nice to ride on? We headed north and after about 10 miles Paul took off for home as the pace was just a bit fast. I know I was working to keep up. I ride a single speed with 32 X 16 gearing so 14-15 mph is about my max unless I am getting pushed by the wind. So I was pushing hard to keep up with Matt and Nick on their skinny tired cross bikes and Stephen had his SUPER sweet Cannondale Scalpel that he bought from professional racer, Sonya Looney. I think it is 22-23 lbs for a full suspension.

What I loved about this ride so far was that I was feeling pretty good even though I was having to push somewhat hard to keep up. Nick was leading the way most of the time and I am sure he was just cruising at a casual pace. He just finished the Arrowhead Ultra 135 so he is in top form right now and it showed. We felt good so we just kept on going up to Stanhope, Iowa. We took a break and I had fried potatoes and chicken strips for lunch! Yummee salt!

We took off for home as I was a little late. As in, I was already suppose to be home to eat the awesome lunch my wife was making. Opps. It was REALLY good once I got home though! We were trucking it home, but being tired I lost ground occasionally with Matt, Nick, and Stephen, but these guys are studs so I didn't feel so bad only losing a 1/4 to a half a mile to them.

I got home and Tammy wasn't upset as it was such as awesome day. I have a great wife! And.... her soup really hit the spot!

I loved today as I got worked over real well. Exactly what I needed!

I guess we will see what this week brings on the training front! I will likely only be updating this blog on Sundays. I am a member of facebook and that takes up some of my computer time, but I am trying to be training instead of being on the computer!

Happy training!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am sorry for the lack of posting. I haven't had much time. Here is a quick note on what has been up!

Went to CO to go skiing for a week! I had the time of my life! Got back and had 220 emails at work and was VERY busy catching up! I didn't run or ride for two weeks. I went and ran a 5k. I wanted 21:30, but the lack of two weeks off led to 22:30. Pretty depressing as it wasn't that long ago I ran a half marathon at that pace! That isn't bragging that is ripping on my 5K!!! BUT, it was very good for me as it showed me that I can't take time off and expect much and that I have to be consistent. After the race I went on a 15 mile gravel grinder. This past Sunday I did another 15 miler. Gravel is awesome, but wet.

Today, Tuesday, I ran 4 miles and then followed through on my promise. I donate plasma for extra cash once or twice a week so I promised myself that if I wanted the money from donating plasma then I had to commute. So, after my run I rode the 9 miles to the plasma center and back. It is a great commute of 3 miles of gravel, side walks, trails, and lonely city streets.

I hope to get out for a ride on Saturday or Sunday morning. Likely Sunday morning. If you want to join in on the fun I am looking at 35-45 miles of gravel.

Happy training!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I will be on vacation for a week in Colorado so I will not be posting for a bit.

Happy training!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Keeping at it.

This past week has been crazy! We didn't have school this past Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday due to the very cold temps. My computer was reading -28 on Thursday and that is without the windchill! Crazy!

On Friday, Tammy and I hit up the gym together. It is wonderful having a wife that works out more than me! Today was a great work out. I still have a long ways to go to get to where I want to be, but I am slowly getting in better shape. I have even lost a couple of pounds of fat!

I always start off with a .1 mile walk on the treadmill and them run 10 minute pace and gain speed up to 8:30 pace until I get to half a mile and then I stretch just a bit. Then I start the treadmill on random again on setting 3 and start around 9 minute pace or so. I finished the next two miles slowly increasing my speed to 8 min pace. Pathetic for a lot of runners, but since I am a very average Joe I am ok with it. I then did three miles at 7:40 pace. After the 45 minutes I finished at about 5.5 miles. Then my typical .4-.5 cool down.

Today, Tammy and I went in again. This was to be just a nice comfortable run for an hour. I again did the .5 warm up and stretch then set the treadmill for 60 minutes and ran about 7.2 miles or so. I think it is around 8:15 pace. I felt really good today and the pace was comfortable.

Happy training!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A good run, but wimpy.

Today warmed up with 2.5 miles and then the plan was 3 X 1 mile at 6:30 pace with the setting of the treadmill on level ground. The first mile repeat was good, but I could feel the last .1-.2. I then walked for 5 minutes at a very easy pace to completely rest. Then came repeat number two just a bit tougher and was wanting it be done around the .75 mark. Complete rest again and then went for number three. I was starting to feel it a bit at .4-.5 and was starting to work. I quit at .85. What a loser. I could have made it to 1.00, but I just didn't. Mentally weak and that is all there is to it! I attribute it to not running at that pace for that long in nearly 4 years when I ran that pace for a 5k! I have a ways to go, but it is coming.

I finished with 30 minutes at an easy pace on the bike.

Happy training.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today's run.

Well, today was a great run. I went to the gym with Tammy after getting out of school early. Was planning on a long run and ran 7 miles in 58 minutes or around 8:20 pace. On a treadmill I get bored pretty easily so I mix things up. As I have stated earlier I run with the treadmill set on Random so it is always climbing up hill. I had been running at the number 1 setting out of 20 (which is something crazy like a 15 percent grade!) the last week I have set it at three so it goes up to about a 3.5 percent grade I believe on the highest hills during the run. So, they are huge, but they can last 1-3 minutes before dropping down to 2.5 or 1 percent. I can definitely feel that I am getting stronger as the hills really aren't bad anymore unless I am at a fast pace.

Today I started at 8:56 pace and slowly got faster. Each .25 of a mile I would up the pace about 8 seconds a mile or so until I got to 2 miles and then I would up it about 8 seconds a mile each tenth. I worked my way up to about 7:20 pace and then worked my way back down until I got to 8:30 pace. Once I hit 6 miles then I went from 8:30 up to 6:45 increasing each .10 of a mile until I hit seven miles in 58 miles. I did my cool down to finish the last couple of minutes so that I had an hour. So with the warm up and cool down I was just under 8 miles.

The plan for the rest of this week is to run two 45 minute runs along with a hour and ten minute run. I will do that for the following week as well. Again I will have one session as a repeat session running .25 at 5:30-6:00 pace and then .25 with rest with a couple mile warm up and cool down. Then another run as a fartlek running from 7:15-30 for .5-1 miles with a little rest in between the repeats. I am going to Colorado the week of Jan 24-31 to go skiing so I doubt I will run much. If I can get in a 2 mile run a couple of times that would be awesome, but I will be skiing so my legs will be getting a workout and a good rest from running! Once I get back I will continue with the running, but I will have a 5k the following Saturday so that is exiting. It will be my first 5k in nearly 4 years so I am excited!

Now, for the biking! I have a goal in mind. I hope to start riding to work! Unfortunately, work is only about 4-5 blocks away! So, I plan on bringing some riding clothes and if I have the time I will ride a 8 to 12 mile loop of gravel to get home. One thing I have found with Trans Iowa and other major distance events is the people that commute really have a huge advantage! I would say even a bigger advantage than people that actually really train hard for those events. So, we will see how that goes!

Good news on the riding front! I registered for the Dirty Kanza 200 for May 30th! This gravel grinder in Kansas is a race I have had the privilege of riding twice. I have also finished twice. I love this race and was really bummed to miss it last year and can't wait to make it back this year!

Also, my great friend Jim McGuire has told me he is wanting to sign up for the Breck 68 that will be in July! I really want to do that race and who knows.... I just might have a new bike???? %^)

Happy training!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A great week!

Update: I just got registered for the Dirty Kanza 200! This is one of the best gravel grinders ever! Consider it!

Sorry for the lack of posts to you few readers out there! This has been a very productive week really! I have been back to work this week and have been incredibly busy. That is good though.

As for my running things are coming together. My right knee is a bit sore, but not from running. You see, I have this horrible habit of having my legs in weird positions while I sit. This has led to many problems for me and my running over the years. Here are a couple of examples. Since you are probably reading this while seated look down at your heals. Now put your heals on the legs or the base of the chair. You will see that your achilles tendon shortens as your heal rises. This is very bad! After having all kinds of calf and achilles problems I walked into my favorite physical therapist's office in the world and he saw me sitting in the waiting room. He said, "So you are having achilles and calf pain?" I said, "Yes I am! It sucks!" He said, "Well, it is the way you are sitting." I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. He showed me what I was doing and then asked me to put my feet flat on the floor in front of me while sitting and then slide my heals back until the heal wants to lift up off the floor. So, while seated at my desk I would change how I put my feet on the floor and within a week I was back to 100 percent. Of course, this advice cost me a $100, but it was worth every cent!

Now I am dealing with my patellar tendon hurting. It isn't runners knee, it is how I have my lower legs positioned while working. You see, last Sunday I put in a 14 hour day barely taking a break while sitting at my desk. I kept putting my right foot angled off to the side putting stress on the inside of the patella tendon. Fortunately, my physical therapist (which I haven't had to go to now for four years!) has taught me to be aware of the little things that I do that lead to injuries. So, I have been very careful to notice how I am sitting this week and I am definitely getting better.

So, this week I have put in about 19 miles or so. Obviously not a lot, but all of it has been quality. This is what I have been doing.

Day 1. Run 7-7.5 miles within 60 minutes all with the treadmill set at random. What this does is randomly select the angle of the hill your climbing, which means I am running up hill the whole run. I run these as fartlek's so I am going from 9:30 pace at the beginning to warm up to 8 minute to 7:30 pace and back to 8:30 pace and so forth.

Day 2. I run around 6 miles with 2 miles as a warm up and then run a quarter of a mile repeat at 6 minute pace with a slow run cool down (10 min. pace)for another .25 miles. This week I did two .25 X 6 min. pace, then 2 X 5:45 and then 1 X 5:30 pace. Then another 2 mile cool down. Six minute pace is feeling reasonable for a mile now so that is exiting. Gone are the days of high school were I could run a 5 minute mile!

Day 3. Run around 6 miles with a 2 mile warm up at around 9:30 pace. Then I would run .50 miles at 7:00-7:20 pace with a .50 miles at 8:30 pace. This tempo run works great and I will continue to lengthen the 7:00-7:20 distance.

All of these are run on the random setting. By running up hill consistently it helps to make the pace on level ground that much easier!

I feel I am on my way to my goal of running a 5:45 mile for the Presidential Fitness Award that my high school students are trying to achieve. I have to prove to the PE teacher that even I can do this!

I will be biking more and more now that we are in January. Be on the look out for updates on this.

Happy training.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Still running

Went to the gym today. I was hoping to get over to Cedar Falls to ride with GT, but with this weather it just didn't happen. At the gym I ran 5.5 miles. I did .5 miles at ten minute pace to warm up, 4.75 in 40 minutes then a half a mile cool down. Finished with 20 minutes on the bike. Nothing major, just trying to get a workout in.

It appears that the weather should be good during this next week. Hopefully I can get some riding in. Four months until Trans Iowa!

Happy training.