Can you complete/compete at the 140.6 distance w/ only 10 hrs of training per week?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ironman Florida 2010 - Race Report

Last Saturday was a great day! All of my peeps 'broke tape' and I could not be prouder of each of them. For some, it was their first Ironman (IM) experience and for others it was their third M-Dot for 2010 (Meredith D):

Dan Bowker
Eric Cerwin (1st IM)
Meredith Dolhare
Carl Foulks (1st IM)
John Lennox
John Mihm (1st IM)
Joe Smith (1st IM)

Great work friends! It was an honor and privilege to play a part in your training/racing prep leading up to IMF 2010. I look forward to assisting you in the months and years to come.

From my perspective I could not have been happier with how things turned out. For my faithful followers of this blog you know the background. For those who are new to this blog I will give a very brief overview of the facts and elaborate slightly on the day itself.

The training for this IM consisted of a focused 8 week prep minus ~3 weeks that included knee surgery (R medial and lateral menisectomy). This injury was sustained back in high school, but I never had it fixed. It was just a matter of time for my years of playing catcher to catch up to me! So, this surgery was not due to my actual training, but rather as a result of my days spent behind the plate.

This 8 week training block produced on average 7:35 hrs of training per week. For more specifics on the actual training please refer to the 10/27 and 11/5 posts. As noted in 11/5 post, I was excited to see how this would compare to my IMF 2001. Back then I put in loads of training and was 9 yrs younger. Back then I worked (Ex Phys guy at ViQuest in Greenville, NC), trained, ate, and slept. I really had nothing much else to do, but focus on IMF.

So, back to IMF 2010. For clarity I will hit each mode individually. I'll try to keep this to the point and not bore you all with too many details.


I love contact and I find it amusing to get punched in the face while swimming 2.4 miles. In the first 5 minutes everyone seemed to be jockeying for the first bouy and claiming 'their spot' in the Gulf. At one point I was biffed in the eye so hard that I thought my goggle would extract my eye from its socket. That made me laugh and forced me to get vertical and adjust things. All in all, the swim was relaxing and enjoyable. I used a 5 to 7 count breathing frequency to gauge my intensity on the second lap. I have found this to be very helpful in keeping me from swimming at a pace that will negatively impact the bike and run later in the day.

Those who know my 'shark story' from 2009 will be happy to know that I only saw one jellyfish and one horseshoe crab. Both forced a 100 yd surge out of me with a heavy emphasis on the kick.

I was absolutely fired up to come out of the water in under an hour with the limited time spent in the water.

TAKE HOME POINTS with reference to "IM in 10":

(1) Technique must come before 'swim fitness'. I had no business swimming the time I swam on Saturday. If an athlete can adjust to the changing conditions of the ocean and maintain sound form in the front quadrant of their stroke they will trump the other athlete who has less efficiency and a higher level of swim fitness.

(2) Relaxation is essential. If an athlete can mesh point number one with a relaxed mind and body they are golden. Swimming can be very stressful. Learning to relax while swimming will play a HUGE part in lowering your overall energy expenditure and increase your likelihood of swimming more efficiently.


The game plan for the bike was to hold a power output range of 242 to 262 watts with a HR response below my LBP of 160 bpm. Right out of the blocks things did not look so promising from an equipment stand point. Both my PowerTap and my Garmin did not pick up an HR for the first 30 miles. This forced me to use other biofeedback measures to validate intensity in conjunction with my power numbers. I have often told athletes that one cannot use power alone or HR alone when training/racing. I am a big fan of looking at both and making logical decisions per the numbers you see. These decisions must be based on science and on observations made IN training and racing.

I opted to look at my respiration rate (RR) in conjuction with power to keep me on pace. In the lab (my garage) I knew a RR of 16 would put me in the 134 to 144 bmp range (10/13 post). This served me well until I got warm enough to sweat and create a good connection between the HR strap and skin.

All day long I was faced with the temptation to jump into a pack of 15 to 25 cyclists and spare my legs for the run. No joke, at one point I came up onto a pro and about 12 other guys. I pulled up to him and questioned his tactics. In his Aussie accent he said, "...hey mate, jump on the back...". Seriously. I opted to surge away from them, but then got swallowed up and spit out the back. This happened at least three other times. Here is the kicker. At mile 80 I get pegged for a drafting penalty. I could not believe it!

I saw this as a time to love on the people in the penalty tent and I also knew this was the Lord's will for me on this day. I certainly did not like this turn of events, but knew someone else was calling the shots!

Was tickled pink with how good my legs felt per the LBP/HR/Watts/RR approach used from the onset of this leg. I did not over extend and was pleased with the numbers; 243 average watts and 153 average HR (HR was high per the winds).

TAKE HOME POINTS with reference to "IM in 10":

(1) Study your body. There is so much technology out there at our disposal! Almost too much in fact. A watch and the ability to count to 8 was all I needed to keep from over committing on the bike. I think it is very important to train mindfully and not mindlessly. In the weeks leading up to IMF I assessed my RR at varying intensities in conjunction to HR response.

(2) Strength train. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that the strength training I did with Bill Scibetta (Precision Fitness) filled the gap for me last Saturday. I make this statement off of the fact that my longest ride for IMF was 2:30 hrs. The one constant I had going for me at IMF was the corrective/dynamic strength training I had done for 8 months leading up to race day.


Off the bike I felt like a rock star! Legs had plenty of zip and zap to em' and the first 6 miles reflected that. Despite having an audible timer reminding me to eat every 10 min on the bike I think I came off the battle wagon underfueled. As a result, I opted to walk briskly through each aid station from mile one. This decision allowed me to play some catch up.

The Lord was very sweet to me and allowed me to run well. The knees were a non-issue and I was able to run without incident. What I found to be most interesting about this IM experience was how the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me in the first 13 miles. No joke, I was brought to tears several times as I reflected on how blessed I was. At church I never lift my hands, but on this day I was lifting em' friends. I often say that I look forward to the day when I break down at the finish line. I have not done that yet and I do look forward to that day. Instead, my Savior touched me while I could still focus on Him and all that He allows me to do. There was one point on Saturday that a fellow athlete must have heard me crying. I was overwhelmed with joy as I realized He was letting me run a effortless 7:15 min pace. I was in awe of His blessing and presence.

I am ashamed to admit that it was post 13 miles that I focused more on the externals (splits, pace, overall time) then on Him and thus became disconnected. Tears no longer flowed.

This is getting way too long. So lets wrap things up.

TAKE HOME POINT with reference to "IM in 10":

(1) Quality over quantity. One 18 miler was the longest run I did for IMF (13 was the second longest). The key was making the run count and to reflect a higher overall physiological load. This was made possible by running at a pace that was closer to a 20K to 30K pace then a marathon pace.

In closing, I can't thank my dear wife enough for her support and patience with me. Thank you Annie for knowing me and still loving me. Your awesome and I look forward to toeing the line with you at IML 2011 using the "IM in 10" training methods!

Yes, that is the plan. Lord willing, Anne and I will be headed back to IML in 2011 to race. I am EAGER to get back at it and feel as if I just did Latta and not IMF. There is certainly something to be said about hitting the IM distance in less. Lets do this!

Train smart friends,
Coach Lance

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ironman Florida 2001 vs. 2010

Its funny how one can become quite reflective the week prior to an IM. I thought of the experiences that brought me to this race distance many years ago. Everyone has a story and I thought I’d share briefly my journey from a football, baseball, and basketball guy to triathlete.

The thought of taking on an IM began about 20+ yrs ago. A sticker, yes, a sticker was my FIRST exposure to IM. I can still remember the store and how I saw this sticker that came with a pair of Scott Tinley running shorts. On the back of the sticker were the distances of the three sports. It was at that moment that I was intrigued and personally challenged. I think we all have similar stories that drew us to this race distance and for me it was a sticker. I still have that sticker somewhere.

To keep this post short (I still need to get my bottles ready for IMF tomorrow) I will skip quickly to my first race that 'sealed the deal' for me. I think it was the summer of 1992 when I toed the line at the Rye Playland triathlon. Unbeknownst to me, this was a sprint championship of some kind. Mountain bike, worn out Nikes, cut off cotton T-shirt (with Somers High Football proudly represented on the chest), red spandex shorts, and an oversized helmet were my 'weapons' of choice. Take a look at the pictures to the right to see exactly what I am talking about!

I had NO clue what I was doing, but LOVED every minute of it! I represented with breastroke for the duration and probably finished dead last. Results were mailed to you back then and ChampionChip had not evolved yet.

Fastforward to 2000 and I am now ready to take on the IM distance. The Lord had other plans though. A motorcycle took me out 1 week prior to IMF. I should not be here today typing this post out. Brain trauma, pelvic and cocyx fractures, sliced and diced L leg, and hang time in the ICU took me out of the game. If you want to see a news clip on this take a look:

They did not get the story exactly right. I was not 'mad' I was actually grateful for this 'set back'. Say what!? Let me clarify please. This accident opened my eyes to how fragile and weak I was (and still am) and how strong and able Christ is! I could have taken my last breath that day, but He allowed me a BIG 'second' chance. He is a God of MANY second chances. It blows me away!

I found using a wheel chair and a walker to learn how to walk quite humbling.

So, IMF 2000 did not happen, but IM 2001 did. I can still remember my meticuluous note taking in my training log/journal. In those days I logged 20 to 25 hr weeks regularly. I put in the typical 100 plus mile rides and even some Raleigh to Wilmington rides. I loved the volume and the training. IMF 2001 went well and I was left wanting more. Missing the big island by minutes per two trips to the porta john did not settle well with me.

Lets bring this post to a close friends. Pressing fast forward again I find myself in 2010. This is my third go at IMF. What I look forward to most tomorrow is seeing the difference between my 2001 training default and my 2010 methods.

20 hrs of training per week vs. 7:30 hrs of training per week. How will it go friends? I certainly do not know the splits or the finishing time, but I know who does. The Lord will direct my steps and I look forward to seeing how the day will unravel.

It is important for me to note that I dig volume that is purposeful and relevant. I simply don't have the time like I did back in 2000 to train long. Thus the creation of "IM in 10" in 2009. I clearly believe one can 'break tape' at the IM distance in much less time and with much less training volume.

Have an outstanding weekend friends,

Coach L