#16: welcome to build phase, a game of (mental) blocks and struggle

First….I feel like given the destruction in Japan, the unrest in the middle east and the struggle all over the world, it’s important that I say this…..I realize I’m training for what ultimately amounts to a game…..something that in the grand scheme of things, takes no more than a speck of the endurance that has been and will continue to be exhibited by people all over the world……and so, my thoughts & prayers are with those around the world who are REALLY struggling. And for having the choice to put myself through this struggle, my thanks are with those that work hard to protect the freedoms that allow me to be (what I consider) one of the “lucky ones”…..


With less than 8 weeks until race day, things are starting to get serious…..I’m moving into “build phase I”, which is marked by higher intensity training; up to this point it’s basically been about volume and endurance only.  After a couple of weekend-session setbacks, I was about ready for a little kick in the butt to get things where they should be.  Apparently, this resonates to the regular Red-iculous Effort readers b/c “dust yourself off” made it into my top 5 posts (250-ish left to hit the 1000 mark)……not surprisingly the “wasting away diet” still reigns supreme, everyone wants to stop and see that train wreck unfolding, but there’s no doubt, success in sport, like most things is about figuring out the game and getting past those mental barriers that seem just out of touch…..and that’s a back and forth struggle.

Consider it a joy when you encounter various trials knowing that testing your faith produces endurance.”

This isn’t a new concept…..said another way:  

For me, 4 or 5 faith-testing, mental barriers have emerged.  Some I knew would be there just waiting for me, others have been more about finding out as I go.  

  • The first is pretty obvious to most….a 2.4 mile swim.  Unfortunately, because open water swimming is hard to come by in the Hunterdon area, this will be a block until it’s not……when I’m running up the ramp out of the lake, and realize I’ve done it, I’ll be over it completely.  Until then, the closest I can come is to know that I can handle the distance in a controlled environment, and having now proved this to myself x2 with plenty of time to continue to work at it, I feel like I’m on track.  
  • The second is one that has been built up in reading the reviews of the race course.  The “Veyo Wall” is a 8-10% grade climb for about 2 miles (the worst part of a 25 mile net climb) on the bike segment. I’m not a bad climber on the bike, but the word on the web is that to do well here you’d have to be part billy-goat, which I don’t believe has made it into my bloodline (unconfirmed).  The computrainer has been an immense help here.  Having been over the Veyo Wall once on a few separate occasions tells me I can do it….however on race day, it’s a double loop….YUCK!  Sometime in the near future, I have a date with a double-Veyo loop…..not looking forward to it, but a barrier I’ve got to overcome.  
  • The third is feeling “strong” on the run.  Having done a few marathons, I know I can do the distance, which is a plus.  However, neither left me feeling particularly strong (or accomplished).  The first marathon I just had no idea what I was doing and how much strategy actually goes into these endurance sports, and therefore how little the margin of error really is if you have a specific goal.  The second, well, I was the victim of the often talked about “going out too fast” and 15 miles in the wheels started coming off.  I completed in a respectable time, but it wasn’t pretty and certainly not the day I was hoping for……and so, I continue to work and learn.  On Friday I took a good step forward, I ran my first “long” run of the season (which in marathon parlance is usually over 18 miles)……and although it wasn’t fast by any stretch it was a hilly course with a lot of chances to turn around and implode mentally (2 roads that were underwater from the recent storms forcing 3 extra hills that I hadn’t planned for…see the middle of the graphic below)……and I got through it.  Knees were barking by the end, but not in pain…..again a good thing.  
  • The fourth big barrier for just about any cyclist is the “century” ride….100 miles of bliss.  Yesterday I got past this one having ridden the first 100 miles of IronMan Florida.  I was surprised how difficult this course was to get into a good rhythm….no real climbs or descents (this is Florida after all), but nearly constant grade changes making it very difficult to get into a smooth gearing.  I was happy to have it done, but happier that I got it done.  There were at least 3 or 4 times that I could have justified stopping (the L knee starting to act up was the most pressing given it’s history with overuse injuries) but I was able to play it smart and still get it done. 
  • The last barrier that’s definitely playing on me a little is the environment.  The desert of southwest UT has a host of unique barriers (cold water is a big possibility, hot dry air is also likely….a strange combo.  Crosswinds are fierce in some spots I’m told, roads that are choppy enough to gobble up tires, proper nutrition/hydration strategies, salt-losses, and on it goes).  This barrier is part of the adventure of this whole thing, since there’s no real way to control for every variable, but I’m trying to chip away at the likely potentials……
    • I installed the front-end hydration system on my bike, which will take some getting used to (many shots to the “schnoz” during my contact sports years has left my nose fair-at-best for breathing) so sucking fluid out of a straw while trying to keep enough O2 flow to support a heart that’s contracting 150-170+ beats per minute is tricky, but I definitely took in more fluid yesterday while on the bike than in previous long sessions b/c it was right under my face.  I’ve also determined that as of now, powerbars seem to be doable in small bites.  Have never been a big powerbar guy, but they are the Ironman Franchise sponsor, so getting used to what’s going to be available on the course has it’s benefits.  
    • Was NOT happy to hear that my strategy to use a DeSoto T1 Water Rover (the ridiculously well padded and therefore fast & warm wetsuit) was a dud.  World Triathlon Corp apparently put the kibosh on the Water Rover claiming unfair advantage (isn’t that the point of renting one?)….so I had to scale it back a step.  
    • I did get my race wheel order in.  Went with ZIPP 404 on front and 808 on rear, so that should give me some power savings on race day although, I’m hoping not to get blown all over the course….the deeper the tire, the more subject to crosswinds.


I made a concerted effort to up my protein intake this week, which seems to have been a good choice.  Don’t think I got up to the estimated (135g/day) need, but body seems no worse for the wear even with the back to back “long” sessions (18+ run, 100 bike), so this is a good sign that things are alright.  Weight also seems to have stabilized a little, still within striking distance of race day goal, but not falling like a stone.  Whew!

And on it goes……

May you live to be a hundred, and me a hundred minus a day, so I’ll never know good people like you have passed away. Peace, love, truth and soul.  (Frankie Crocker)

Mike E.