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This is what it looked like at the end of a six-hour bike and 1:20 run.

Today, my coach, Jared Berg, set up a simple workout.

Here is what he told me to do:

  • Bike: 6:00 hrs. Find a relaxed pace that you could hold all day because you will be riding all day.
  • Run: 1:20 hrs. Run off the bike at a relaxed pace on a course with moderate hills. Let the terrain determine the pace.

Just look at the haircut and ask yourself, “Does this man assign easy workouts?”

This is not an ordinary workout for me. During the summer, I usually work out four hours on a Saturday and three hours on a Sunday until preparations ramp up for an Ironman. In this case, I am six weeks away from Kona and a bigger workout was in order.

Reading about other people’s workouts can be really boring and I don’t blame you if you switch on a “Will and Grace” rerun instead of reading on. For those who choose to proceed, I will try to be brief but beware: Murphy is at work in this world.

4:45 a.m. Alarm goes off. I hit snooze.

4:54 a.m. First snooze ends. Up.

5:40 a.m. Begin riding. I have to ride in my basement until it gets light. So, I read about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both of whom seem really smart, just not smart enough to recognize that being president probably is not all that much fun. Then I read about Chris Christie and his unrequited love for Bruce Springsteen, who gives Christie the cold shoulder despite Christie having attended 129 Springsteen concerts.

7:36 a.m. I completed 1:30 on the bike and it is now more than light enough. I plan to ride from my house in Eden Prairie through Chaska, Victoria, Waconia and Watertown to, maybe, Delano and back home.

8:45 a.m. ish. My Power Tap that tracks my heart rate, speed, pedaling cadence, power output, calories expended, etc. becomes intermittent. GRRRRRRRRRR. This will make it hard to track time and I am not crazy about missing by riding any longer than six hours. I have gotten to the western end of Victoria and turn around for home to try to fix the problem.

10:30 a.m. I decide just to grab a credit card and get the part at our local tri shop, Gear West, and fix it myself. The PowerTap continues to work OK. I head for Gear West.

11:00 a.m. A pack of bikers coming toward me goes by, including Steve Mayeron and Tom Hoffman and their friends. We see one another and turn around to check in with one another. Tommy and his friend are doing IM Wisconsin in a week. I wish them luck and we agree to get together soon. I hope to stage “Tommy’s Story Hour” soon after IMW. He is the most entertaining storyteller I know. I try to think of two people I know who are nicer than Tommy and Steve. No can do. I cloud up a little thinking of how nice it is to have them as friends and how our triathlon (mis)adventures have made us friends who resonate on a level that I can’t with others who have not shared these experiences. Shared suffering is a powerful bonding experience.

11:15 a.m. Gear West does not have the part but agrees to order it. I enjoy use of a clean bathroom instead of the ordinary convenience store bathroom experience that long bike rides feature.

12:00 noon. Turn toward home from Baker Park Reserve. I think about Greg Lemond who lives nearby (I am not sure which is his house, but I have a guess). His ride on the last day of the 1988 Tour de France is perhaps the greatest accomplishment I know in endurance athletics except for the Iron War between Dave Scott and Mark Allen at the Ironman World Championship, also in 1988. Lemond is now, arguably, the greatest American cyclist of all time. I plan to walk in the steps of giants on Kona and think some more about these guys.

12:45 p.m. Going over some railroad tracks near downtown Wayzata, I snap off the left end of my handlebars. Fortunately, I stay upright and the handlebar is held together by tape and brake cables. I have to ride cautiously toward home because the left brake handle controls the front brake, the primary source of braking power.

1:15 p.m. Home. Quick change. Out for an hour and 20-minute run. It’s sunny and warm, somewhere in the mid 80’s and kind of humid. Perfect training for Kona.

2:35 p.m. I am pleased that I could run reasonably well in the heat after a long bike but I feel pretty stressed and, despite having taken water with me on the run, I have not drunk enough. My head aches from dehydration. I feel a little sick but not that bad. Quick bath and out for lunch.

Here are the numbers:

  • Bike: 6:04:33, 3,851 calories, average heart rate: 118, 103.36 miles, average watts: 180, average speed: 17.2. These figures count time spent at stoplights and stop signs and some time when stopping at a C store, Gear West and puzzling over my broken handlebar. I gave myself three minutes’ credit for the flaky Power Tap, but it probably was off a lot more than that.
  • Run: 9.54 miles in 1:20:26. Average heart rate: 129, average pace: 8:26 per mile, 1,183 calories.

Soundtrack: In the early morning on the road, I kept hearing Steely Dan songs, especially “Green Earrings.” (Have I mentioned how reluctantly I have become part of the 21st century?) Later in the ride, I hear mostly kd lang from “Endless Summer.” Toward the end of the run, I hear the Rolling Stones, “I Know It’s Only Rock and Roll.” (Have I mentioned that I am a reluctant resident of the 21st century? Wait, didn’t I just say that? My 50s are already taking their toll.) Note that I never listen to an iPod or other device when I ride or run; I want to hear cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikes and other hazards that may be fixing to fix me permanently. The songs just seem to roll around naturally in my head.

What I Thought About: First, I thought about how much better my life is for knowing great people like Steve and Tommy and so many others that I have met through triathlon. Count me lucky on that.

Second, I thought about Ironman. To me, Ironman is like the Dharma in Buddhism. It’s the path of continuous self  improvement. We think most obviously about training our bodies but, in my estimation, that is secondary. At some stage, probably pretty early in the Ironman day, your body will say “stop” with increasing frequency and urgency. Stop. STOP. STOP, STOP, STOP. Ironman teaches you to monitor that signal and instead of obeying, you learn to ask what can be done in that very moment to keep going, to coax your body through, to go just a little faster without burning it up for the remainder of the race. I think that your body is really just a passenger and it is your spirit that carries you to the finish. Training for Ironman is primarily training your mind to hold each moment and examine it, to take the next swim stroke, pedal stroke, step. To keep going and to hold your equanimity and understand what you can do in that moment. That takes practice and discipline that comes from many miles. Sometimes it’s actually fun. Sometimes, that is, for the first couple of hours. Then you just have to focus on the path.


One Comment

  1. This sounds like a highly eventful ride! Glad the bar failure happened before October 13th rather than on!

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