Monday, February 20, 2017

100 Mile Ultramarathon Mental Tips

I'm going to be helping crew someone running their first 100 mile ultramarathon. As the race approaches, I've been thinking about my own 100 mile races and what might be helpful for someone to know particularly as it relates to the mental side of the 100 mile game. While I'm still a neophyte at these races, I think I've learned a few lessons along the way.

So, in no particularly order, and under the assumption a person has done the basic work to have the requisite fitness for a 100 miles, my tips for the mental side of 100 mile ultramarathoning:
  • Decide what's negotiable and what's non-negotiable before the race begins. In the dark moments, you'll want to negotiate everything with yourself. Anything you've left as an open question will become available to negotiate away. My most recent 100 miler, I had a stated goal of finishing in under 24 hours. However, I kept a private goal of trying to get under 20 hours. Even though I was way under 20 hour pace at the time, in the first real dark moment it became very easy to negotiate my way to giving up that private goal and settling for the sub-24 hour goal.
  • Know your motivations. There are the obvious answers, but I've discovered sometimes it's the less obvious that get you to the end. My first race, I wouldn't quit although I probably should have because the person who suddenly decided to pace me when I was fading made it so clear she really didn't want me to quit. No matter how painful it got, I did not want to let her down. I was also pushed forward (as slowly as it may have been) that I was at an invitation-only race and someone else might not have been there so I could have a space. In my second race, I wish I would have remembered that the faster I finished, the sooner my crew could get rest. Had that been at the forefront of my mind, I might have finished in under 20 hours. Frankly, I've also been motivated by how cool it would be when I get to post my finish to Facebook. Silly, of course. But a driving factor nonetheless. Motivation can come from all kinds of places and in a variety of shapes and forms. When running really long, it's critical to keep these motivations in mind and find new ones along the way.
  • Form. As fatigue sets in, form deteriorates, both in running and walking. As form deteriorates, things start to hurt. As things start to hurt, form deteriorates even more and things start to hurt even, even more. It's a vicious cycle with one solution. A relentless mental focus on maintaining form. This saved me at Daytona 100. I was 65 miles in, had felt absolutely great for the first 100 kilometers and then suddenly had terrible pain in a knee. I was reduced to a snail's pace. After a few minutes, my pacer convinced me to try a short run. At first, it was a no go. But after a couple tries, I really focused on forcing good running form and the pain receded. I was running again! However, had I had that relentless focus earlier, I would likely have prevented the worst of the pain from the beginning.
  • Have a plan. Follow the plan. And plan as many things as you can: when you plan to eat, when you plan to refill nutrition bottles, when you'll take salt and reapply lubrication and changes shoes and socks. Every little detail can be planned. If you have crew, let the crew keep you on plan. It becomes remarkably simple to forget even the most basic things deep into a race. In my first 100, the person pacing me asked me how much water I'd been drinking. As I thought about it, I realized I hadn't had a sip of liquid in a very long time, perhaps hours. And be completely ready to adjust the plan on the fly. Things aren't going to go according to plan. So make the adjustments that are needed. But refer back to the plan to make sure you're not forgetting anything.
Finally, if the goal is to finish the race, making the commitment to finish no matter what is the most important of all. (Disclaimer: risking potential injury falls outside the "no matter what" commitment.) I ran across the perfect description of commitment on the Science of Ultra podcast this week: "commitment is making the choice to give up choice." Choose to finish, leaving no other alternative available.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Phantom Ponies And Bare Bums

Not everything in an ultramarathon is inspiring or spiritual or life changing. In fact, much of a race is mundane and mechanical and even easy to forget about entirely. Occasionally, there is not much more than discomfort and pain. And sometimes, there are moments that are not inspiring nor mundane and not necessarily painful, but utterly and comically absurd. This was one of those moments.

So much of the 2016 Daytona 100 Ultramarathon had gone exceedingly well to this point. Sure, there were some dark points. Yeah, I was slowing down. But, by and large, a great day.

Of course, in a 100 mile race the unexpected or overlooked seems to always happen. And I knew this particular problem might happen, but forgot to discuss it with my crew and forgot to be prepared. I had overlooked this problem despite having dealt with it in training a couple times. That evil, nasty thing nobody likes to talk about...groin chafing.

76 miles into my race and I noticed the first hint of that chafing feeling. Nothing bad, but an instant "UH OH" moment. "UH OH" because some bad bloody chafing could end my race and I wasn't carrying anything deal with it. "UH OH" because I had just left my crew who drove on ahead to the 80 mile aid station. I had packed plenty of chafing solutions, but those were somewhere off in the dark distance, in the buildings of Daytona miles ahead. "UH OH" because I wasn't thinking clearly.

Solutions began to bubble forth in my brain. The first solution, stop trying to run and walk to my crew and minimize the damage. Of course, walking is one thing. But walking to prevent thighs from rubbing another thing altogether. So I began to walk with this bizarre "I'm riding a horse" kind of gait. This horse-riding and damage-reducing walk seemed to help for a while, but slowly the discomfort increased again.

A second idea struck! Readjust my shorts so that the liner was no longer sitting on the same location! Yeah, that definitely helped as I continued to walk along while riding my invisible horse. But it required constant adjustment as my shorts slid back into their natural place. And my wonderful pacer (oh yeah, I forgot to mention I had someone running with me during this pants adjusting, horse riding moment) began to give me kinda funny looks as I continually jammed my hand down my pants.

I really need a good long term solution to get me to my crew without ending up a bloody mess and ending my race. We'd made it less than half way to my crew vehicle while moving at about 20 minutes per mile and my race goals were slipping away. And then the absurdity struck. My half-witted brain put the puzzle together. The solution was so obvious and yet so preposterous, it took a while to connect.

It was night and very dark. We were running -- well, horsey-ride walking -- in the dark along the beach away from civilization. We were alone with only the occasional passing car to see us. I was wearing a rather long shirt and a coat. When I got the liner moved off the chaffed area, things improved dramatically.

The solution? Oh yes, the solution. Absolute genius! I pulled my shorts off my ass. Pulled them straight down and walked bare-assed! No more liner rubbing against the damaged skin! No more further damage occurring! Ultramarathoning genius of Einstein-ian proportions!

Of course, I still had a couple miles to go to get to my crew vehicle where a variety of lubricants waited. And now I was walking with pants pulled of my hinder, still riding that mysterious and difficult to see stead that kept my thighs from rubbing, and my joints beginning to stiffen from too much walking and too much cooling down. And my poor pacer along for the ride.

Adding to this foolishness, we began to enter the outer limits of Daytona. Some late-night drinking establishments at first...oh, the stories the patrons must have told one another! A restaurant. A grocery store. Street lights. Some condo buildings. We were entering civilization and street lights and people, but still no crew vehicle... no relief. My rear-end (and much more!) a gust of wind away from being exposed to an ever increasing number of drunken vacationers and revelers! What a sight it would have been. Bum out, legs stiff, bizarre and stiff walking manner, delirious look on my face, a race bib pinned to my clothes in the middle of the night. And my poor pacer at my side likely trying to hide his face.

Then, FINALLY, the traffic light I knew to be the location of the 80 mile aid station came into view. My crew would be waiting. Lubricants, compression pants, new shorts, solution upon solution upon solution. Just waiting, a half mile or so ahead.

10 minutes later and the ordeal had ended. The absurdity was over. The humorous figure I was casting across all of Daytona disappeared into the ether. My tuchus was covered. The phantom pony evaporated into thin air. Only the stiff joints and muscles after for miles of awkward walking lingered. And the worst of the damage seemed to have been avoided. (I would learn in my shower the next morning how wrong I was on that last point!)

Ahhhh, the joys of running ultramarathons. I think I recognized the humor of the moment as it was occurring, but I was in no mind to appreciate it. Oh, to have been on of those barflys watching me pass by!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

10 Perfect Miles, And We Weren't Even Supposed To Be There

They weren't even a part of the course. About 10 miles, from Mickler Road until we entered the beach somewhere around South Ponte Vedra. Yet these 10 miles made it clear that ultramarathons weren't just trail runs. That running on the roads could be just as beautiful and just as connected to nature as any trail.

10 miles of intense loneliness. 10 miles of straight roads crawling over rolling beach dunes. 10 miles of bird and wildlife noises to the right and the crash of waves to the left. 10 miles of the bluest endless sky overhead.

10 miles with the ocean ever present to the east. I couldn't see that vast expanse of water. A dune covered in sea grapes blocked the view. But I could smell it. I could feel its weight. The air carried the water. And the waves, crashing and crashing and crashing. The ocean was there, only feet away.

10 miles that stick in my brain, that I remember again and again. And we weren't even supposed to be there. We were only there because nature had dictated it. Nature had washed a beach away and forced the race director to reroute the race. Nature had demanded we experienced this bit of itself, despite human's best efforts for that not to happen.

10 miles of nature preserve continually to the west. Estuaries filled with endless wildlife. Birds noisily starting their morning. The distinct bang of a shotgun as humans entered to hunt. A lizard or two, or perhaps a hundred. I dreaded knowing later in the race I would lose this preserve, and run through city. But that was hours, maybe even another day, away.

10 miles of absolute, unequivocally perfect weather. Cool air, but not cold. Perfectly sunny, but no heat from the sun. No humidity, a constant light tailwind. Later in the day, it would get a touch warm. In the evening, a few drops of rain. At night, a bit of a chill. But for those 10 miles, utter perfection.

Yes, 10 miles on asphalt. 10 miles on that seemingly endless road. But 10 miles as connected to nature as any trail could ever offer.

And it was then I really understood what I'd seen some other ultramarathoners write about or heard them talk about. That ultramarathoning isn't synonymous with trail running. That there's something special about running the roads. No, not better than trails, but not inferior either. Different and wonderful and a worthwhile pursuit.

10 perfect miles, and we weren't even supposed to be there.

(This is my first of a few stories from the 2016 Daytona 100 Ultramarathon I plan to write. I thought this might be more fun and more interesting than a formal race report. And, boy, do I wish I had gotten a photo of the rolling roads on this 10 mile stretch.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekly Training Thoughts - Feelin' Great!

March 14th-20th - Due to some unexpected planning I must get done, this post will be a bit abbreviated. No in-depth thoughts on each sport, just some high level thoughts on my training week in general. The big take-away...I'm feeling great with my training!

Running has really been clicking for me. It seems the month away from running was just what the body called for. I just feel stronger, faster and more efficient than prior to the break. In fact, the running has gone so well since I resumed in March, that I completed my second fastest half-marathon ever on my long run Saturday. The only time I ran faster, I was 23 years old. And I felt very comfortable the entire time and, in a race situation, would have been quite a bit faster. Perhaps 10-15 minutes faster. (An important interjection here. My "faster" is still very, very slow relative to fast people.) After so much time running slow and preparing for ultra-marathons, I'm learning I sort of enjoy running a bit less slow.

I did have just a touch of IT band pain Sunday on my recovery run. It was a small relapse on what has been an otherwise smooth recovery from the pain that stopped me at Skydive Ultra. I'm hoping it's just a matter of a little too much, too quickly; and that a small pull back will put me back on the path to full recovery.

Swimming was also a success this week. I reached the longest single swim I plan to complete as I prepare for Swim Miami at 8,000 yards on Sunday. I'm not fast. I'm not super-efficient. But I can keep things moving along for an extended period of time now. I could have swam another 2,000 yards relatively comfortably. I was also able to test my nutrition plan: Tailwind to drink and a tablespoon of almond butter at ~2 miles and ~4 miles. That seemed to work well. I plan to swim two more 8,000 yard sets before race day.

On top of being able to swim the distance, I also felt really good swimming this week in general. So much so that at one point during the week, I actually posted the following on Facebook:

That comment is a huge deal for me. I have never, ever felt like I belonged in the water before. I still don't swim well, but something's changed just a bit. I can feel the catch (sometimes.) I can feel the pull (occasionally.) I can feel good body positions (from time to time.) Until the past week, these concepts were just words without any real understanding. But this week, I felt them on several occasions. I could play with them a little. I can pull a bit harder or let water flow past my arm instead. I can feel my feet sink or pull them up above the water. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. But sometimes.

As for the bike, I've decided to give up for now. At least until after Swim Miami. Six days of swimming and six days of running just aren't leaving me with time to get on the bike. Plus I wonder if the lack of bike training is at least partially involved in the improved running?

That's it for the week. Next week's training thoughts might be a bit light, also. I expect to have less time for either running or swimming this week. Perhaps I'll change things up and consider it a recovery week.

Whatever you training looks like, keep moving!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Weekly Training Thoughts - The Long Swim Gets LOOONG

March 7th-13th... Another week of completely unimportant and mostly irrelevant training is in the books, and I have more thoughts to put to paper...or whatever you want to call this medium. I ran across a thought this week about training and racing and why I do all this work and spend all this time training when I'm just some schlub who's never going to be fast and never going to gain anything material out of it all.

My profession, my work feeds my stomach. But training and racing feeds my soul. After family, nothing is more rewarding and more fulfilling than hitting the trail or going for a swim. It drains me and it fills me at the same time. Heck, I don't even need the racing. The training is enough to fill the soul. The racing just offers some delicious icing, and motivation for training to be a bit more focused.

Training feeds my soul.

On to the week. There are two big observations on training this week, one running and one swimming, and one bit of exciting least for me.

Running...Six Days A Week

My new running plan has me running six days per week. This is more regularly than I've ever run before, which generally included running four (sometimes five) days per week. Six days means lower volume, but more frequently. And I seem to be responding well to this. My three recovery runs per week really seem to help keep things loose and not too sore allowing me to push harder on the two high intensity days and one long day per week. So far, I'm a fan even while contemplating skipping today's recovery run due to a sore knee.

Speaking of that knee, it's not 100% yet. The long run seems to be the issue. I had no problems with the knee during my two speed workouts. And the knee was fine on my recovery runs. But after my long run Saturday morning, the knee became uncomfortable again. A couple minutes of pigeon stretch, and it felt good as new. But still, not 100%.

My workouts went great. The best example of this is my long run Saturday. I'm still keeping this long run relatively short (1 hour 35 minutes this time), but decided to really try running with more pace than I have before. While not fast, the run was fast for me. I never felt like I was working too hard, but completed 11.3 miles at an average pace of 8:23 minutes per mile and targeted two extra bridge crossings along the way. I could have held that pace for quite a bit longer and was overall very pleased. And that was indicative of pretty much the entire week.


What's there to report here other than it was a total failure on the bike. I got on the trainer for 1 hour on Monday, then never touched the bike again. I thought about riding Thursday, but didn't feel like it. I considered riding Sunday, but didn't want to battle the daylight savings switch. I just didn't ride. Not good...not good.


I felt off all week on my swimming...slow, lethargic, sinky. Just not a good week in the pool. That said, I met all my goals for the week. Right around 20,000 yards (18,575 officially on Garmin Connect, but that doesn't include kick sets nor about 500 yards I lost while trying to figure out my new watch...more on that below!) And, most importantly, I finished my 7,000 yard pull endurance set on Sunday and found a pair of googles comfortable enough to wear for the length of a 10K swim! I was slow on the 7,000 yard swim, but really focused on staying long and efficient, and didn't worry about pace much.

The googles, Aqua Sphere Vista's, are so damn comfortable relative to other goggles. They feel silly large on the face. Fortunately, I have no problem with looking silly. They did, however, slowly leak a little water in. I think this only occurs when pushing off the wall and not during swimming, and is so slow I only had to clear the goggles every 1,500 yards or so. But still a minor annoyance in what would otherwise be a perfect long-distance swimming goggle for me. I think they'll do the trick for Swim Miami 10K, especially if the leak does only occur when pushing off. There'll be none of that in Miami!

Overall, I'm satisfied with the week of swimming. Finishing the 7,000 yards comfortably means I'm right on track for the race. I still think the low energy and lethargy have to do with higher swim volume plus the reintroduction of fairly intense running. I'll just keep pushing through.

Something Fun!

I'm extremely judicious about spending money on fitness equipment...a tough task in the triathlon world. Almost everything I own is used or heavily discounted. But I decided to splurge for my birthday and bought myself a new fitness GPS watch, a Garmin epix. It was, of course, heavily discounted at REI. And I've been having lots of problems with my Garmin 910XT lately including bad elevation readings, odd yardage on open water swims and battery charging difficulties. Nothing dramatic,  but annoyances. The 910XT will become my permanent bike computer, and the Garmin epix my full-time watch as a daily wear watch, an activity tracker and fitness device.

So far, I'm loving it. I haven't had occasion to head out to the Everglades and run using the built-in navigation. But soon. In addition to real navigation, the watch has excellent battery life...hopefully enough to get me through my next 100 mile ultramarathon. It feels more rugged than the 910XT, and has a variety of other upgrades. Of course, it's a total splurge and I could have been totally fine without it. But what the heck!

That's another week of training. Overall, things look to be on track both for Swim Miami and Daytona 100. Swim Miami is going to be a huge challenge for me. The distance still sounds daunting. The amount of time spent laying face first in the water is overwhelming. Even finding someone to toss me a water bottle every lap is going to be a challenge. But I think it will all come together.

Whatever you're training looks like, keep moving!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Weekly Training Thoughts - A Ragged Return to Running

It's time to write my first weekly training thoughts post. I'm wondering how to approach this. Matter-of-factly, with statistics and hard numbers on my training? A stream-of-conscience bit just rambling on with musing about last week's training? Perhaps something humorous, having a good laugh at how seriously I take my training while being a mediocre performer. I think that works...self-deprecation and all. I may suck at humor, but at least it'll be fun to write!

March 1st-6th... The past week of training really had one focus, reintroducing running. Since my spectacularly failed attempt to run 100 miles at Skydive Ultra, I hadn't really run at all. Just a few short test walks and runs in February to see if my knee was going to laugh in my face or was feeling a bit better. February had been a month to rest the running spirit. March is to bring running back, and this was the first week of doing so.

A Ragged Return to Running

I ran five days during this first week of March. Two really, really super silly easy recovery runs of 30 minutes. There's really not much to say about those runs other than I ran 'em when scheduled. Two runs with intensity. One long (and I use that word with a chuckle) run.

The two intensity runs were kind of a new thing for me, speed work. The first run was a 45 minute fartlek run on Tuesday. No structure, just faster and slower as it felt right. I was even able to push myself on a final sprint to that territory where the day's lunch becomes a bit unsettled in the stomach...a highlight of any intense workout! I really had fun with this run! I might hate it this week when I do it at 4:30AM instead of in the afternoon. The second intensity run was 45 minutes of tempo build on Thursday morning. Now, I'm not fast. When I say tempo, this is a lot of people's long run or even recovery pace. But it's fast for me. And it was the third day of running after a month legs weren't super happy. Overall though, the intensity runs were a fun new addition. I may even enjoy them in a few months.

The long run...well, an hour and a half isn't really long, is it? But it's my long run at this point as I rebuild as if from scratch. I did, however, run faster than I was running long runs in the past. As I get closer to Daytona 100, and these runs become much longer, I'll become more specific and slow it down. For now, shorter and faster rules.

There were two additional items of note this week for my running. First, new shoes. My beloved Asics Gel Hyperspeed 6 have been discontinued (a runner's worst nightmare), so I'm on the hunt for new shoes. For now, I'm running in a pair of Nike Zoom Streak LT2's and will be adding a maximalist shoe soon for long stuff. I'm not sold on the Streaks. The biggest issue, the platform seems REALLY narrow and I often felt like I might just tip over to the side. They're light and well-cushioned, but that narrowness is a bit disconcerting. Evidently,  I really like a wide sole...this shoe is not that! I'll probably order a pair of Asics Gel Hyperspeed 7's soon to see how the update feels. The shoe hunt is on.

The second item is the status of my left knee, the killer of my Skydive Ultra 100, the occasional bane of my running existence. The knee wasn't perfect this week, but it wasn't bad. I'm quite sure the issue is IT band syndrome and nothing more (nor less) severe. It felt good for my first couple runs. The Thursday intensity run, I actually cut a few minutes short as I passed home due to a touch of discomfort in the knee. And the final half hour of my Saturday long run also included some discomfort. However, nothing that is concerning at this point. My final Sunday recovery run actually seemed to resolve a bunch of the discomfort in the knee. Fingers crossed that I'm on the road to knee nirvana. If I keep my knee happy, I should arrive at Daytona 100 ready to crush a solid middle of the pack finish!

I'm running again, and that's the big take away! Not much mileage (24 miles on the week), but almost exactly the amount of time I had planned. I'm running by time in 2016, not mileage.

And finally, on the running front, I'm officially registered for Daytona 100. This thing is real now!


As was the case in February, swimming remains a big focus in March as I prepare for the 10K swim at Swim Miami. But for this week, I was taking a bit of a swimming rest after more than doubling my biggest swimming month in February.

Swimming didn't go great this past week. Every workout felt flat and slow. Lots of leg cramps. Overall, just not a good week of swimming. I suspect the addition of running and some intense running is the culprit. I'll adjust, eventually.

Overall, about 11,000 yards of swimming. Still a good week for me, but not my new 20,000 per week target.

Oh, and I seem to have a raging and recurring case of swimmer's ear. Ear plugs may be in my future. I wonder how I'll hear the Master's swim coach call out the swim sets and paces?


I didn't touch the bike last week. Not once...well, once to move my bike out of the way in the apartment. I can't figure it out, but biking is just the sport I enjoy the least and by quite a margin. Maybe it's all the equipment. Maybe it's the time necessary. Maybe it's feeling vulnerable to cars out on the road. Probably it's lack of comfort in the saddle, which is a symptom of not enough riding. to resolve that. I'm not comfortable, so I don't ride. But I need to ride more to get comfortable.

I was fine not riding this week. With running back in the mix, I was prepared to let other stuff wane for a week. But, it's time to get back to biking, even if it's just short stints on the training.

So that's the week. Not really all that much to report other than the running bit. I'm so happy to be running again. Fast or not, it's really my zen place. Whether the run is at 4AM or late in the evening, it's so easy for me to just relax into the rhythm of the steps and figure out solutions to all the world's problems. Only trouble is, I never remember those solutions at the end of the run!

Whatever you're training looks like, keep moving!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Training Thoughts

I'm going to try something new on my little corner of the internet here. I'm going to use this space as my own personal training journal, and will try to keep up with an entry every Monday reviewing the past week's training as I prepare for the Swim Miami 10K, Daytona 100 Ultramarathon and the big goal, Ultraman Florida in 2018. This is sure to interest nobody, so I'll be writing in a way that is meant for me. Feel free to follow along, if you so desire.

For this first entry. I'm going to write down my thoughts for the entire month of February. It makes sense to look at the entire month because it comes off my failure at Skydive Ultra 100 at the end of January, and an entire month of heavy swimming focus with virtually no running and just a little time on the bike. So, let's look at February beginning with the swimming.

February Swimming

February was the biggest month of swimming in my life. I didn't have a real yardage target going into the month, but did want to try swimming every day of the month. I swam 27 of 29 days in February. My pool was closed on February 1st for chlorination treatment, so I'm comfortable missing that day. February 4th I also missed as I was stuck at the office for an unexpected late meeting. This miss hurts more. Overall, I'm quite happy with my February swim streak, however.

Total swim yardage measured by my Garmin for the month was 71,320 (or roughly 40.5 miles,) which does not include kick yardage and some drills amounting to perhaps another 10,000 yards over the month. That's about 40,000 more yards than my prior largest month in September 2015 as I finalized my Great Floridian Triathlon training. The finally three weeks of the month, I settled into about 20,000 yards per week which feels like a heavy, yet manageable, swim load for me.

I was able to sneak in one open water swim session on the final Friday of February with Boca Raton Triathletes. It's always a great time out there, and this one was particularly interesting as our swimming beach happened to also be the set for the filming of the new Baywatch movie. I even think I caught a glimpse of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson filming an action scene running down the Boca Inlet jetty.
On the set of Baywatch. These are not actual lifeguard stands, but movie props.

How did I feel about all the yardage? Well, not surprisingly, there were many moments of fatigue in my shoulders and arms by the second week. There was one Masters swimming session when this became most apparent. We were swimming 150 yard pull sets. I'd feel great for 100 yards, and then it would feel like someone pulled the keys out of the ignition and I could just barely coast the final 50 yards. Just no power left at all.

That said, I feel like this massive (for me) amount of swimming has been tremendously beneficial. I spent several days working on balance in the water and body position, and think that has improved a bit. My swim fitness is definitely better. And, perhaps most importantly, I've had several "ah ha" moments over the past couple weeks when I finally felt like I understood what the catch and pull was supposed to feel like. They were brief moments, generally no more than 100-200 yards. But I think it's a significant sign that something is starting to connect.

February's swim training culminated with a 5,000 yard pull endurance swim on February 28th. I felt comfortable and smooth throughout despite fatigue and finished in 1:21:19. It was a nice, steady swim with only 20 seconds difference between the fast and slowest 1,000 yard "laps." Now, to double that distance in the next 40 days.

For March, I intend on trying to maintain the 20,000 yards per week target, but doing so in 5 days of swimming  per week instead of 7 days. The first week of March, I'm resting a bit from the swim as I reintroduce running into my schedule. But by the second week, I hope to be back at 20,000 yards.

February Running

February was all about rest and recovery for running. I ran the Ancient Oaks 100 Mile Ultramarathon in mid-December. I tried to run the 100 miler at Skydive Ultra at the end of January...a big, fat fail. February was to include very little running, a bit of walking and mostly just letting sore joints and ligaments heal.

I succeeded in my goal. I didn't walk or run for the first two weeks. On February 14th, I completed my first measured walk at pace. Then I ran four times easily for 30 minutes between the 14th and the 29th. Nothing intense. Nothing of length. Just real easy recovery runs.

As I head into March, I plan to try an entirely new running plan. I'm going to run more frequently, six days per week, but for shorter distances. And I'm going to do something new for me, speed work. The plan is three bona fide recovery runs per week, two runs with intensity (Tuesday Fartleks, Thursday tempo), and one sorta long run. I'll do this for a few months until I want my training to become more specific and long in preparation for Daytona 100.

February Biking

I haven't been biking since the Great Floridian. Maybe 10 hours total in the saddle in the past four months. February's goal was to reestablish a habit of biking, nothing more. I kind of succeeded.

I have formed a good habit of jumping on the bike trainer every Tuesday and Thursday after my kids finish their swim team training and before they head to bed. These have been short and easy sessions, 30 minutes to an hour, with the sole purpose of getting back on the bike. I wasn't perfect about hitting these sessions in February, but did do them much more often than not. I plan to continue this into March.

I also compelled myself to join a Sunday longer group ride twice in February. Nothing super long (40 and 60 miles), but again getting back on the bike regularly. I also don't need a ton of length with no Ironman planned in 2016. I do need to keep building bike fitness and comfort as I look to Ultraman in 2018.

However, February wasn't a complete success with biking. I had hoped to start bike commuting to work once or twice per week, 20 miles each way. I haven't done it. I haven't even brought the bike I want to use for that to Tune Cycles to get it ready. I think I'd enjoy this commuting, but I'm also quite concerned about car traffic. I've just seen too many stories about people (including some I know) getting hit by cars behaving stupidly. I'm still struggling with how to proceed on this idea.
Beautiful sunrises help make the bike more bearable

But, overall, I'll take it. I'm back on the bike with some regularity. The joy for biking isn't there (perhaps a symptom of trainer riding) and it feels like a chore. Hopefully, with some more time in the saddle, that changes.

February In Review

Overall, I think February training went quite well. I'm feeling recovered from overdoing the running exploits, I'm back on the bike a little and I've made a ton of progress with swimming. Swimming the 10K at Swim Miami feels far more doable than it did a month ago. Another month of good yardage should really help out. I'll be slow, but I'll probably make it to the finish.

February was a success...on to March. More swimming, and the sweet return of running!