Change happens… At some point change will happen and you can simply change with it or let everything pass you by, but there are exceptions.
This week a major change happened in the Ironman world and yes no matter what I say no one will change it back. To me this change strikes at the very essence of being an Ironman. Good or bad this decision simply came down to lawyers and lawsuits. But in the long run we Triathletes/Ironman perhaps hold some of the blame too.
See we are the biggest ambassadors to this sport and to the Ironman distance. We sit here with big smiles on our faces, telling everyone and anyone about this glorious thing called Ironman. This in turn brings more people into the sport. Yes, this can be a good thing, but it is a double edge sword in some cases. We are bringing in people that may never really realize what it simply means to being an Ironman. I call these people bucket listers. They want to do all these great things, check it off their list and move onto the next big thing. I am sure their are checkmarks bigger than saying your are an Ironman, but there are not that many.
Well it happened. The folks that run the Ironman branded races changed one of the most exciting things about Ironman, the swim start. You may have seen this on TV when they broadcast the Ironman World Championship from Hawaii. Thousands of swimmers taking off as the cannon goes off. Just watching it on TV gives most goose pimples, but to experience it live takes it to a whole new level, then to be in the middle of one is simple life changing.
Life changing… funny how I used that term, because this is the reason they stated why they are changing it… life.
The claim is this… Anxiety. I get it, 2000+ people taking off at one time you tend to get pushed, shoved, elbowed, kneed and so on. It is a washing machine. Yes and there are times when the ultimate bad thing happens and someone dies. It is sad…
What I am about to say will sound very cold and unfeeling, but please let me explain. It happens. Whether it is signing up for a 5k or an Ironman we all sign a waiver. What this waiver is should be a statement going in that there is some risk to what we are doing. Something could happen not only in the swim, but the bike and run, too.
They have made a few changes on the swim and for the most part I agree with the changes, but the one I don’t agree with is the time trial start. They are simply wrong on so many levels.
1. People have dead in time trial starts. I know I have been in a race that this has happened. Plus 2011 it happened in Louisville which has always been a time trial start.
2. It has been proven that not one of these people died because anxiety, but sadly they had died because of some unknown heart condition. Believe it or not, we may look fit on the outside but you never really know how we look on the inside unless we recently got a full physical.
3. I have been a part of many time trial starts and I get kicked, punched and washing machined just as must as the mass starts. 50 people or 2,000 people. When you are in the middle you are in the middle.
As far as my upcoming race in Lake Placid here is what I imagine is going to happen. The swim cutoff time of 2 hours and 20 minutes will start when the last swimmer enters the water.
1. A slow swimmer will see this as an opportunity to add to the 2:20 time limit by getting in the water earlier than 7am. We are suppose to stage ourselves in the line according to when we think we are going to finish the swim. It is the honor system. in a field of 2000+ people I think the honor system will have some problems.
2. Maybe the anxiety level will be a bit lower during the start, but have they thought about lap two? Chances are it will be more crowded and at that time we all are getting tired. Hmm…
The real problem is two fold.
1.Too many people entering these events without a true understanding of the event. The Ironman deserves more respect than entering it like you are signing up for your local 5k or even marathon. It is a different beast. I understand the desire, the draw and even the obsession towards this race, but it will find you and chew you up if you don’t give it the respect it deserves. IT IS SUPPOSE TO BE HARD! That is what makes it so worth it. I understand we will never change or prevent these people from doing what they want, but their decision good or bad should not reflect on those who take this event seriously and give it the respect it deserves. An Ironman shouldn’t be like signing up for a local marathon, that is a 4+ hour event for most, this is a 12+ event for most. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!
2. The people that run the WTC simply allow too many people to race. Ouch… I know. Most of these races are hard enough to get into to begin with and here I am suggesting to make the crowd smaller? Well if they are truly worried about safety, the only logical course is to make the field smaller. Increase the number of safety personal per racer. Simple. Yes the cost of the race would go up, but those of us in the sport already fork out the dough, we will continue to fork out the dough.
What it comes down too is the Ironman is more of a business than it is an idea. Taking away the mass swim start might not seem like that big of a deal to many, but it directly attacks the soul of the race itself. It was a bunch of lawyers and insurance people that made this change. I doubt most of these people actually are triathletes, let alone Ironman. To make a long story short, what will happen when someone dies at one of these time trial Ironman events? What then… issuing water wings for everyone? All they did was to put a band aid on the problem with the hopes it will go away and sacrificed a little bit of the Ironman soul in the process.
Simple if the swim start scares you… you are not ready. Doesn’t mean you will never be ready, give it some time. You and you alone are truly the one in charge of your own safety. Why would you put yourself and in turn others in danger coming into one of these? Take your time, learn how to swim, learn how different open water swimming is, learn how open water swimming is different with a mass of people around. Being an Ironman isn’t that important to risk your life. When you are ready it will be here.
Until next time… Your Fitness Buddy
It has been a while since I updated my masses on my progress. When I mean the masses, I mean me and the few people on this planet that are having trouble sleeping who read this.
With just under 12 weeks to go. I can tell it is race season from reading all the posts on FB. There are countless friends either reporting on their training or the their up coming races. I am glad I am not the only one, even though I tend to take it to the extreme.
One of the benefits of doing a new Ironman I get to join new social media groups and make new friends all over again. This Lake Placid group is similar in many ways as my previous Louisville, Florida and Wisconsin groups with and good bunch of characters and very warm hearted people. I look forward to the banter and information that comes from this group in the next 84 days. Some will drop off to the side after the race, but just like in my other groups I hope a good number stick on and become friends and at the very least good FB friends. Social Media helps build this family of Ironman that hold so close to my heart.
OK now to the meat and potatoes of this blog.
It was a busy month not only for IM training, but in life. Work had me traveling around a bit so juggling what needs to be done for training gets a little interesting and a little burdensome. When I travel, I load up the Timex Mobile not only with what I need for work but the IM caravan comes along. It is amazing how much stuff I take and how many times I load, unload and reload the Timex Mobile. In some sense it is it’s own mini little workout. Let’s just say no one knows how to use a luggage cart better than Jim Ristow. I am not burnt out on the traveling, but do realize come May, June and July I will need to cut back on the traveling. It is just easier finding a place to swim, ride and run. Yes the job will still be a focus of course and the Chicago market will be that focus.
Swim – 9 hours and 20 minutes = 27,000 yards. Actually a bit down from March totals. In a moment you will see why and out of the three sports, I am ready for the swim. Improvement will still come but it will be small in comparison to the other two sports.
Bike - 25 hours and 40 minutes = 383.41 miles. I put in almost 15 more hours on the bike this month compared to March. Over all the bike is still the biggest area of improvement. I felt in the last week of April I was finally making some improvements with two longer rides and I was able to keep the pace at or above the speed I am hoping for. I have a feeling come the end of May the 383.41 miles will be a pipe dream. That number should increase once again.
Run – 13 hours and 15 minutes = 90.5 miles. This was about the same as March, but March was a big run month with vacation and two 1/2 Marathons. Plus looking back I caught a stomach bug one weekend which meant I missed one big weekend of running and riding. Both the bike and run could be increased (bike by 60 miles and run by 12 miles)
Strength – 2 hours. This one puzzles me a bit. I thought my coach would have me do a little more of this. I am averaging a 1/2 of strength training a week. Well I am trusting her experience.
Weight – Started at 192.0 ended at 192.2. NOT SO GOOD. Still overall I have been hitting a 189 number from time to time. To honest though I can focus more on this again. Travel makes it hard but that is only an excuse. In fact I seem to loose a bit more on the road compared to home. The reason is there is plenty of yummy food in that fridge. So the battle continues. On the road it is the quality of food. At home it is the portion sizes. I can’t take my eye off this one for a moment. I don’t want to sound like I am overly concerned about my weight. I understand it is more of a fitness thing than a weight thing, but over a 140.6 mile race every pound I am lighter it has to make it a bit easier in some small part. So, if I had to race today I would be happy, because I would be 5 pounds lighter versus Louisville last year. I would like to say good bye to the 190’s and stay more in the 180’s. It will be a refocus for May, June and July.
Overall numbers starting January 1 to April 30
- Swim - 38 hours and 34 minutes = 121,500 yards or just over 69 miles.
- Bike – 63 hours and 45 minutes = 1,051.02 miles
- Run – 53 hours and 19 minutes = 335.6 miles
- Strength - 10 hours and 25 minutes
- Weight - Started at 197.6 end of April 192.2
My run to Lake Placid - Lake Placid is roughly 905 miles away from my house. The total stand at 679.07 which means I only have 225.93 miles to go. I started this total back on September 1, 2012 just to see if I could make it there by running. This puts me just outside Syracuse, NY.
I do have to say I have entered the phase where this is always first and foremost on my mind. I know with my constant FB posts people get this idea I am some how whining all the time about this and perhaps they think if he is so miserable why does he do this?First, I am nowhere miserable doing this. I have wrote about this before and I will say it again. I am Ironman and Ironman is me. Obsessive? Maybe. Passionate? Oh yes.
My job allows me to think a lot. When you drive from city to city, sometimes 6 or 7 hour stretches you have plenty of time to think. A person can only listen to the radio for so long before the brain has to drift away. Recently I drove to Columbus/Cincinnati and back and there was plenty of thinking and yes even a bit of talking to myself. I tried the best I could to put my arms around this whole passion called Ironman.
- I thought back through the years, the moments and the reasons why I do this thing called Ironman.
- I worked through the downs, celebrated the ups and understand why I do this.
- I thought about the people I have met.
- The friends I made.
- The job I got.
- Wondered what the future could be with Ironman.
- I compared this year and last year and wondered if I am really doing enough so last year does not repeat itself.
- I thought about my times IMWI 15:35, IMFL 13:54 and IMKY DNF’d and wondered what IMLP is going to be.
- I thought about my swim technique. Has it improved enough that I can shave off a few minutes?
- I wondered what it will feel like when I am riding my new bike and will it make that much of a difference.
- Now that my foot is better I wondered will all this extra time focused on running actually allow me to run the marathon portion of the race.
When doing these Marathon expos I listen to these people speak of the 26.2, 13.1, 10k, or 5k distance as if they are about to complete their first Ironman. I smile, because I do take for granted my humble and mostly disastrous results in these distances.
I have a lot left to prove. Not to you, but to myself. I am a 2x Ironman finisher, but as of right now I don’t feel like an Ironman. Not finishing one of these races that means so much to my heart and soul has allowed me to look at this race in a different light. I am not spending all this time, effort and money just to finish anymore. I want all this time, effort and money to mean something. I know I have 17 hours to finish and yes finish still is the #1 goal especially after last year. The way I see it this time around #4 there should be an improvement. Not an improvement just on time, but how I feel. No it will never be easy and no I probably will never be great at this but it is time to be better at it. People have asked me about my times. I really don’t have answer to that. All I know is this I did everything I could this time around and I just want to feel like I got better at it. 17 hours? 12 hours? I really don’t know. All I know is I have 84 more days to keep this moving forward.
See what happens when you have too much time to think?
Until next time… Your Fitness Buddy
It is official I am in the meat of this Ironman training. These past couple of weeks had been my limit to all my other Ironman trainings.
My peak hours would be somewhere between 12 to 14 hours a week in training… Well I have hit that number in hours and that hour number will simply continue to grow, grow grow…
Truthfully I am a bit apprehensive about what I face… I am moving into a new unknown. This is where the self doubt starts to creep in… Can I do it? I bet there are going to be some long painful moments ahead on this journey.
The easy part is now over…
The mornings will become earlier, the feeling of always being tired will be constant and for me the biggest challenge of this whole experience now begins… The Battle…
What is the battle?
Well the battle now moves internal. The battle will take place in three areas -
This is where what type of Ironman I will become will take place…
No longer the idea of having 17 hours to finish is good enough for me. I have had a few people ask me when do I expect to finish. I do have a working time, but it is way too early to state this out loud.
Will I stop as I did in my last Ironman or will I be fitter physically and mentally?
No matter what anyone says not finishing the last IM still hangs over my head.
How does 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 even 20 hours of training feel? I will soon find out. There will be many posts either here on my blogs or on Facebook stating how I feel. So you will have to be tormented right along with me. I am one that holds little back. I don’t bundle things up. Expressing my feelings is more for me, than for you. I just drag you along. I am sure there are way too many of you that have stood by me these past 4 years of doing this thing called Ironman that are saying … here we go again…
So now the fun begins… FUN… Even though I might bitch, moan, complain and whine during this I do still think this is FUN. It beats the alternative of sitting on my butt watching life goes by.
14 weeks to go. 14 weeks of me looking forward. 14 weeks of me improving. 14 weeks in challenging new undiscovered boundaries. 14 weeks until I heard those magical words that I did not get to hear the last time I did this. 14 weeks of new adventures and surprises around each corner.
Here we go…
Until next time, Your Fitness Buddy…
In Ironman terms I am at the 70.3 point of the race. Ladies and Gentlemen I started this journey on January 1 which was 208 days away from Ironman Lake Placid on July 28, 2013 and I have reached the 104 day mark.
Now there are plenty of ways to look at this monumental moment in time. But the two common ways to look at it are either the glass is half empty or it is half full.
The half empty crowd will say the first 104 days was the easy part, the foundation or the base. Now comes the hard part, the next 104 days. This is where the poop hits the fan.
The half full crowd will say you are 1/2 way there! You started out 208 days ago not knowing what was going to happen to you and look you are still standing, fitter, stronger and for the most part it was a piece of cake.
The real question is where do I stand?
First let me say maybe just maybe you are getting a better sense of the big picture of being an Ironman. The 140.6 mile race one trains for is the easy part. The journey is the day to day experiences leading up to that day. That is the true test of what being an Ironman is all about. The commitment, the dedication, the sacrifices one has to make to reach such a hard goal is what ultimately defines the type of Ironman you really are. No wonder so few of us reach for such things. In the end, IF and that is a big IF everything works just right, one gets to enjoy the accomplishment of stepping past that finish line and I have yet to experience anything better in life than crossing the finish line.
The say Ironman is a like a drug is ALMOST true… I would change one thing. Ironman is a DRUG.
So have way through this round of Ironman training where do I stand? Well that will have to be broken down step by step…
Swimming - Without a doubt I am ready for the swim portion of the Ironman. Doing 3,000, 3,200 even 3,500 yards under an hour is nothing anymore. Rarely do I have a swim that feels like swimming in pudding. Why? Simple, the swim session is written out for me and I simply do it. My brain shuts off and I swim. Before I know it the hour is up and I am generally a few 100 yards further than what was planned. I am not sure what is in store for me the next 104 days, but I find it hard to believe I will go much past an hour and five or ten minutes on any swim. Then again, the exciting thing about this go around is I simply don’t know what she (my coach) has in mind. I just shut up and I do it.
Bike – I am no where near ready. If I had to place a number I am 40 % ready for what lies ahead for me on that July day. This doesn’t mean I won’t be ready, but right now if you put me on that Lake Placid course, it would hurt and I am not sure if I could finish. I do believe I am being set up for this to change and change rather quickly. My longest ride of 3:40:00 is going to look like a joy ride soon. In the coming weeks I know of a 4 hour and a 4 1/2 hour ride to tackle. Both of these rides will be on the trainer, in the basement, it will be torture. My days of riding outside are about a month away as of today. Besides getting more bike fit, I can tell these are the sessions that will make my weakest part of the Ironman stronger and I am not talking about the bike. I am talking about the gray matter between the ears. So these long rides will serve a dual purpose. Still I can’t wait to get outside.
Run – This really is the unknown. If I go by my past races the run has been the thorn in my side. How bad have I been? Well to show some improvement I think I will reach the SUCK level. So if I had to “run” the marathon portion right now I would say I am 60% where I should be. Saying that, recent 1/2 marathon’s I have ran have given me some hope of improvement, 13.1 miles is not running 26.2 miles, especially after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. Still, I am way ahead of last year and biggest reason for hope is I am injury free as of right now. This is something I could not say last year or even at Ironman Florida 2011. My hope at the very least this will continue.
Nutrition – 75%, which is to say it is about 1000% better from anything I have done in the past. I still have to figure some things out, especially as I go outside more and more but over all I have made improvements by leaps and bounds from my past.
A couple of days ago a good Ironman friend sent me a personal message on Facebook that I like to share on my blog. I hope she understands, I won’t state exactly what she said, but her question has stuck in my brain matter for a few days. I am hoping I can answer her question as well on this blog as how I picture it in my head.
Her question was simple, WHY? Why do we do this? Why do we do this when it hurts so bad at times? Why do we do this when it seems like we never get any better? WHY?
Her question really made me pause. I am sure if you walked up to 100 Ironman or Ironman in training you would get 100 different answers, BUT there would be commonality too.
So why? Why does Jim Ristow do Ironman?
How can a 3 lettered word stir such emotion in me? WHY?
Well, I have been doing this blogging thing close to 4 years. In that time I have written well over 300 blogs and somewhere in those 300+ blogs I am sure I could piece the answer together on why I do this thing called Ironman. I will try my best to answer that question in this blog and keep it under 4000 words…
In some ways I can answer it in one word… CAN. I kind of took this from a You Tube video with Rick and Dick Hoyt a father and son team where the father gives his body to his son so he can enjoy the thrill of racing, feeling alive, and so to be called “normal”, if there is such a thing. So if you like to stop reading here, there is my one word answer… CAN.
If you want more, there is a lot more to read…
1. Memories. For those training for your first IM let me pass this tidbit of information along to you. YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANOTHER 1ST IRONMAN!!! Remember everything… I can think back to 2010 training for my 1st IM and it feels like yesterday. Not only the race itself, but the training process leading up to the big day. I can think back to a run I had where I actually heard Mike Reilly say “Jim Ristow you are an Ironman!” and from that moment I knew I was to become an Ironman. I can remember the coolness of the water, the breeze on my face, the cramps on the bike, the shear JOY of running the final few hundred yards all to myself and how bright the lights were at that exact moment. Sure, IM #2 had its moments and #3 even though I DNF’d, has it share of good memories too, but NOTHING and I MEAN NOTHING takes place of your first.
So memories are the reason I continue to do these things? Partly but not the sole reason.
2. Friends. The people I have met through IM have truly been a blessing. To this day I can call these people FRIENDS. In fact, I have never been closer to people in my 46 years of life than I have been to this group of people. They put up with my uniqueness and I put up with theirs because we are all in this together. I am sure there are other things in the world that make a special bond that draw people together, but I like to think there are very few better than this Ironman family. We know what it takes to become part of this special family. Better yet there are those dream, aspire, try and yes fail to accomplish the final 140.6 miles but that matters little to us. You are still part of this very special family. It even gets taken one step further because we drag family, non Ironman friends, sons, daughters, neighbors and other people we meet into this sport. I can not lie, when it is found out we have done an Ironman we tend to become the focal point of the conversation and YES FOLKS WE KIND OF LIKE IT!
So it is friends and that is the reason why I do these things called Ironman? Partly but again not the sole reason.
3. Being a better person. Let’s face it we live in a country that faces a serious problem of people being overweight and even obese. Sadly the problem is even bigger than that, we live in a country where more and more people are simply lost and worse they accept the idea that their life will never be better than it is today. Being an Ironman does not mean we are better than anyone else, but it does mean we give our life on this blue marble more value than most. Life is all about choices. Good and bad and what we do with them determines who we are in this world. There is the EASY WAY or the choice to simply watch life pass us by until there is a dirt nap waiting sometime down the road. There is the HARD WAY and you break out of this mold and pursue life as it was meant to be A JOURNEY, A SERIES OF CHAPTERS OF A NEVER ENDING BOOK. Where a world puts so much importance on being the latest 15 minute celebrity I choose a different path along with most of my Ironman family. Tell me this who is the really hero?
- The latest reality TV star.
- The person who against all odds of being a full time parent, full time job, paying the mortgage, loving and giving not only to their significant other, their kids but to friends that help influence lives for the better and still trains for an Ironman.
I know which I pick day in and day out.
So it is being a better person is the reason why I do these things called Ironman? Partly but again not the sole reason.
4. Focus. Now don’t get me wrong I am not always focused, but being an Ironman has helped me. There are very few things in life that help keep ones focus as placing what most people consider an impossible goal in front of yourself. Nothing motivates me more when someone doubts me. Worse nothing motivates me more when I doubt myself. What more can create doubts than a 140.6 mile race? How about a 20+ week training program that leads up to that 140.6 mile race! Folks this hurts! Physically and mentally, but when that foot passes over that finish line you quickly understand why you do an Ironman. In turn, you also understand when you find yourself sitting on a curb at mile 14 on the marathon not really knowing who you are at that moment. FOCUS! I can no longer count the blessings I have experienced in my life due to the Ironman. It has helped me in so many ways. It has built me up, it has chewed me up and spit me out. There have been countless good times and a few bad times leaving me to wonder if I will ever be an Ironman again. Just like in life where nothing comes easy, the Ironman is the same. You have to earn every swim stroke, every pedal stroke and every foot fall to reach that ultimate dream. If you don’t take it serious it will find you and it will kick you to the curb (literally). Focus, discipline, passion and need are 4 words I tend to use a lot when pursuing this dream called Ironman.
So that is the final reason why I do these things called Ironman? Well yes and no. There are so many more and this blog is getting a bit long as usual.
Let’s just say this… Jim Ristow is Ironman and Ironman is Jim Ristow. I haven’t done this alone but I have done it for me first. Having a loving and understanding spouse and job makes my journey a bit easier than most and I fully appreciate that everyday. Some might say I have the Ironman running through my veins and this would be true. I am not sure how long I will have this passion but I am sure glad I found it. There are so many lost, letting life pass them by and yes even a bit jealous of what I have found in my life. It sometimes angers and frustrates people that I talk about this so much. My answer to them is I AM NOT SORRY!
My name is Jim Ristow and I am an Ironman. I hope that you too find a passion in your life, because I certainly have in my life.
Until next time Your Fitness Buddy.
March turned out to be an interesting month to say the least. There were PR’s (Personal Records) broken, wonderful swims and runs in a tropical paradise, a new bike and at the end of the month had me passed out on the bathroom floor. I bet the last part peaked some interest to keep on reading. I will get to it in due time…
I am closing out March which means my first 90 days of Ironman training is over. This means I have 118 more to go and this is where it is really going to get interesting. I am exiting the building phase is over and eager to get to the real meat and potatoes of the training. You figure there will be at least a 2 week if not 3 week tapering period at the end of this which means I have some where around 100 days of the hard stuff coming. This is where the fun starts!!!
March numbers –
- Swim – 10:24:00 = 33,800 yards or just over 19 miles. Up slightly from February.
- Bike – 9:55:00 = 178.72 miles. Way down from last month but a two week vacation with no riding was the main reason why. I fully expect April to be different and yes it will actually hurt a little.
- Run - 14:10:00 = 88.8 miles. Up from February.
- Strength - 1:00:00. This surprises me a little but I am following the program.
- Weight - Started at 193.0 ended at 192.0. Only a pound but after a 2 week vacation I will take. I also dipped below 190 for the first time in a long time, so I will take this as a win. Now that I have a better handle on my pie hole, I have set myself up to be below 190 come the end of April.
90 day totals -
- Swim - 29:14:00 = 94,250 yards or 53 1/2 miles
- Bike – 3:05:00 = 667.61 miles
- Run – 40:04:00 = 245.1 miles
- Strength – 8:25:00 = starting to see some interesting lean shapes happening with this body.
- Weight - I started at 198, down to 192 and had it below 190 for a few brief moments I would say things are progressing really well in the poundage area. I did drop all rules of eating good on the vacation and I came back only gaining a 1 1/2 which I have already lost. So things are looking up as far as getting down to a more reasonable Ironman weight this time around.
Road to Lake Placid -
It is 908 miles from my house to Lake Placid and so far I have have ran off 588.47 (Since Sept. 1) which means I have 319.53 to go. I ran right past Buffalo, NY and I now have Rochester, NY in my sights. I don’t see a problem reaching Lake Placid before July 28 so I might just see where I end up over all when this is done.
March Recap -
During this Road to the Ironman I knew there would be moments where I needed a break from it all. Unless you have done one of these in the past I am not sure you can fully grasp how big the 800lb gorilla can grow. “Stepping away” means not only taking a physical break but a mental break to recharge. This could mean the difference in finishing strong or stopping at mile 14 not knowing who you are. So, Kim and I took off to Hawaii for two weeks. This didn’t mean I was going to take off from my workouts but there is a huge difference in doing workouts in beautiful Hawaii versus the gray, brown, cold of Chicago.
I did sign up for two 1/2 marathons while I was there. I know who signs up for endurance races while on vacation? Well, me that is who. Plus, my long runs in my Ironman training were getting close to the 13.1 miles and I “promised” the coach I would follow her plan to the T when running these races. The other thing I was going to enjoy running in the tropics seems to brighten up everything after months and months of running on the treadmill or indoor track. Most mornings Kim and I would lace up our shoes and go out and run together. Hawaii has always provided us with some good running bonding time. What can I say about running in Hawaii?The mornings were cool, the sunrises are awesome and there were days I just found myself going farther than I was suppose too, but I just couldn’t stop.
About a 10 minute walk from where we were staying, Kim slept in, because I told her just to go out for her run and not too worry about me. As I walked to the starting line rain threatened, as I got to the line it started to drizzle, then rain and as the starting gun went off BOOM a monsoon. Waikiki recorded 4 1/2″ of rain in the first hour of the race. In a way this made the race much more enjoyable. Dashing through puddles makes one think back to when you were a kid. The first 9 miles was an out and back and mostly flat. As mile 9 approached the hills started. This was when I noticed something different about me… This is when I usually would start to feel it, walk and frustrations would soon pop into my head. NONE OF THAT WAS HAPPENING, in fact I was passing people! I felt strong, focused and for the most part… HAPPY! I was targeted to do a 2:15:00 race and I finished at 2:08:00. Not my fastest 1/2 marathon ever but I didn’t feel like death, so one major improvement. Needless say the best Sherpa of all time was waiting for me at the finish line, soaked to the bone and smiling for me. She didn’t get her run in because to the monsoon but I could tell she was really proud of me.
After that we moved onto the other islands, finding some really good running spots, eating a lot of good food and simply taking in the beauty of Hawaii.
I felt good, strong and ready to go. I did mentioned I would follow my coaches instructions to the T, but in the back of my mind I was brewing up another plan. Oh come on you can’t be that surprised? What attracted me to this race was how beautiful the 1/2 marathon course was suppose to be and that did not disappoint. It also didn’t hurt that the first 10 miles were touted as mostly DOWN HILL!!!! On my bucket list of endurance things to do was to run a 1/2 marathon under 2:00:00. For some that might not sound like a big deal, for others they might say WOW that is fast. 2:00:00 is really medium in the scale of things, but each person is different. I have done the 13.1 under 2:00:00 a handful of times, but never in a race. So with the forgiveness of my coach I wanted to see how the day played out. If I felt like it after a certain point I would go for it. I MEAN 10 MILES OF DOWN HILL? I might not have a better chance. After a 10 mile bus ride, the bus driver stopped and said everyone get out. About a half hour later I heard someone yell GO and we were off. What can I say about the vistas? They really were awesome. Now the roads might have not been in the best condition, but given that we mostly rain through a rain forest I will cut them some slack. The waterfalls, the Pacific Ocean vistas, even the sounds of the frogs made this one race I will never forget. Now to say the first 10 miles was down hill might have been a little bit of a stretch, there were some very big but short up hills coming out of those waterfall areas. During this time I kept a close watch on my time and as the miles ticked away the possibility of breaking the 2:00:00 mark grew and grew. Instead of racing off to a record I stayed with the plan and kept my heart rate and nutirition plan going.
Around mile 6, I noticed this thing happening once again. I was passing people. Better yet, I would look ahead for a body, target it and soon I would pass it. Once in a while I would have some one come up to me and challenge me and I would stay with them and eventually drop them. PEOPLE THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE! Between mile 9 and 10 the downhills ended as we entered the town of Hilo. I looked at the watch and I knew it was going to be close. I looked ahead and found two other runners I decided to run with them. As the minutes and seconds ticked off I went for it. Finally pushing my heart rate up, quickening my pace and off I went. Me and this group of two kept pegging off runners. My rabbit pack of two became one and stuck with her. As I came around the last turn with about 500 yards to go I looked down at my watch and it said 1:57:00. Three minutes! It felt like my heart was going to explode, but I had one last kick. I dropped my last rabbit and sprinted it in…
I am not ashamed to say I teared up. Thinking back to all the races I quit in, suffered through or was generally miserable I finally had one race… ONE RACE… that I finally felt like a runner!
Coming home I was a bit worried about the amount of things that went in this pie hole. Overall I gained a pound and a half! Another victory because I have been known to put on much more than that during a one week vacation, let alone a two week vacation. I have already lost it and I am ready to see what April has in store for my weight.
March did not end there, two other highlights.
- I finally purchased the new bike! I am really excited for this new chapter in my riding. One major issue I had in my riding was the the Giant I have been using for the last 5+ years was never very comfortable. It served me well and it will continue to be my trainer bike, but I am looking forward to closing that chapter and opening a new chapter with this bike. Folks, this is one serious bike! Not to the level of the pro’s but it is pretty close. It is a Quintana Roo CD0.1 Di2. I have said for a long time it is not the equipment that makes the Ironman, but it the equipment or technology helps by even 10% in a 140.6 mile race, plus all the miles leading up to the race I am going for it. Now to make the engine better!!!
- Earlier I mention something about me passing out on a bathroom floor. Well, the last highlight or in this case a lowlight is I caught the stomach flu in the last three days of the month. You want to talk about death warmed over? I was the poster boy. As far as the passing out thing. I remember getting up to drink some water and having the urge to toss my cookies (sorry) and making it into the bathroom. The next thing I knew I was laying on the floor. I know I am lucky I did hit my head on something and so on… but needless to say I was toast. I am sad because it was going to be a big weekend of riding and running but in the over all picture it won’t mean much in the end. I got this on a Friday, it is now Sunday feel weak but more human. I will get back on board Monday with a swim and some strength training.
Well, folks that was March. Yes another month in the soap opera called Jim Ristow. Each Ironman has been different. #1 I was simply exicted because it was #1. #2 I knew I could do better. #3 Well wasn’t my brightest moment. #4 Is shaping up to be a really good one.
Around 100 days of really hard training is ahead of me. I got the swimming thing down already. The idea of 2-2 1/2 runs doesn’t bother me. The 4+ hour rides, hopefully with the new bike those will be a bit more enjoyable. I will do my best to keep those LBS. ticking slowly down and be 100% healthy and ready to go come Lake Placid time!
Until next time… Your Fitness Buddy
There are only a few words that come to my mind that bring me such happiness. Hawaii is one of them. For me, I have been blessed that I have visited paradise more times that I can remember, but if I had to guess this is trip 13 or maybe 14. Before your jaw hits the ground I have had two advantages that make this trip less costly than most.
1. I have a brother that lives here. I sponge off of him, condo in Waikiki, the use of his car and so on.
2. There was a time I was at the top of the premier traveling clubs like American Airlines, Hilton and Marriott and points were used very often.
So Hawaii has become a second home to me of sorts. Great things have happened to me there and I can usually ride this wave for some time when I get back.
This trip was no different.
This trip covered three of the major Hawaiian islands, Oahu, Kauai and The Big Island of Hawaii. So in a way it was like three mini vacations in one.
Leading up to this trip I have been such a good boy. 60+ days of focusing that little race coming up in July I was ready for a break. This was going to be a vacation and I was going to do what I wanted when I wanted, because once I got back I faced a very structured 19+ weeks of Ironman training.
Oahu. This is the island where my brother lives so we are without the cost of hotels and car rentals. I was looking forward to three things.
1. Running in the wonderful climate.
3. Hapalua 1/2 Marathon
I think I have made it clear I am not much of a cold weather running person. Which means living in Chicago from November to the beginning of March most of my running is done on a treadmill. I was really looking forward to getting off that thing. The choices one has for running in paradise are many, plus having have a looser training schedule to follow made me smile. Add in the bonus of swimming in the Pacific, not a pool made that smile bigger. The runs were done at sunrise with one being on Waikiki Beach and the second being a scheduled for :35:00 minutes and turned out to be a 1:10:00 minute run. I simply just lost myself in my run. Simple the sights, the smells, the sunshine I just lost track of everything.
Malasda’s! This was my last chance to eat anything and everything I wanted. 19 weeks of structure, gels, and Gatorade ahead of me I needed these two weeks of indulgence. So what is a malasda? Well I don’t think I could ever do I justice by writing about them but I will try. Ooy, gooy, goodness! There that is the best I can do. If you are ever in Hawaii I highly recommend Leonard’s and the Hapia (coconut) is good enough for a brain coma!!!! This is vacation so it is important to enjoy the local tasty food items. I also had loco moco, fish n chips, plate lunches, shrimp from a shrimp truck, puka dogs and so on. Food is an important part of enjoyment on vacation. Most of the items listed I did not have the whole portion and spilt with Kim, so that is a little saving grace.
Hapalua 1/2 Marathon. This was the first of two schedule endurance activities on this trip. I wanted to make this trip a bit different plus a 1/2 Marathon or two would fit I to my training schedule. This race is a bit different than most. It is a time trial for the best runners. The fastest Hawaiian women, men and a small group of the fastest in the world are invited to duke it out. Base off their best times they are sent out. Hawaiian women first, then Hawaiian men and finally the group of three Kenyans. Who ever finished first wins the prize money. For the rest of us, including me it is a chance to run 13 one mile jogs in paradise. Now sadly the Hawaii weather during this trip was not the best, but I was ok with this. It did rain more than usual and it was cooler but again I was ok with that. As I walked to the start line a light mist started to fall, which became a drizzle, which became rain, which became a monsoon. 4 1/2″ of the wet stuff fell during the race. In truth, it never bothered me and in fact it brought out the little kid in all of us. I had a scheduled 2:15:00 race, but really had no idea what I could especially in this monsoon. So off we went. Already soaked to the bone my goal was to hold a steady pace and not to walk. The run was very flat the first 9 miles. I couldn’t look around and see much because the rain was coming down that hard. At mile 9 the first big challenge faced us, we had to run around Diamond Head Crater. This meant the hills started! Not minor hills a nice steady climb up! This was my first indication I might be getting better at this running thing. While others walked up, I ran up, not fast but the legs kept turning. Around mile 11 it was downhill time and I flew, well I flew as well as this body knows how to fly. Finished the race at 2:08:and some change. Kim was waiting, soaked to the bone and we both told each about our experiences in the monsoon as we walked backed to the condo.
3. Bubba Burgers
Kauai is much more laid back. It is also my favorite with my most favorite place on earth. The weather was off and on again but we made the most of it. We did manage to find this great running path that just went on for miles. Not even tired legs from a 1/2 marathon would prevent me from running on that path. It was along the coast, running at sunrise and the humpback whales played just a few hundred yards off the coast. Again the run was suppose to be short, but turned out to be long. I got yelled at by my coach, but I didn’t care. I was running in paradise and the moments were magical. For those of us who run we know those moments are few and far in between. One extra bonus was swimming in the Lihue YMCA swimming pool. 4,000 yards n 1:05:00, longest swim of this Ironman round and was very happy to swim outside looking at the mountains and feeling the sun on my face.
As I mentioned, Kauai is laid back and I slowly found myself slipping into Jimmy Buffet mode I slowed life way down. You can’t drive around the island but each end of the road there are some spectacular views that will burn into your mind. Kauai is home to my favorite place on earth, Waimea Canyon. There are so few places on this blue marble where man made sound don’t invade and happily this place is still one. You actually drive up the rim of the canyon to about 5,000 feet. This time bad luck followed us and the scenic vistas were all socked in with clouds. Oh well, I have been up there plenty of times to know how beautiful this spot really is. Until next time.
Bubba Burgers. Simple, yummy. Three locations – Kapaa, Hanalei and Poipo. We went twice and the Hanalei location is the best simply because it is in Hanalei. Drive there and you will understand.
The Big Island of Hawaii.
2. Hilo 1/2 Marathon
As a triathlete no other single word means so much. Kona = Super Bowl, World Series and World Cup all wrapped into one. This isn’t my first visit here, but it was my first as an Ironman. As soon as my feet hit the Tarmac at the airport this feeling rushed over me. Perhaps one day these feet will hit this Tarmac once again, but this time as a participant. As we drove out on the Queen K the sight of triathletes riding came into view. The Queen K is where you spend most of the 112 miles on the bike. I felt intimated, even though this was the exact opposite of most typical days on the Queen K. It was cool, overcast and no wind. I only imagined what it would be like on race day, hotter than hot, sunnier than sunny and wind that could blow you off your bike. Those training today I am sure they were counting their blessings. My highlights would be two. First my swim took place in the pool where so many Ironman pros and champions swim. Truthfully I didn’t have a good swim because I was in such awe of just being there. Second was my run on Ahli’i Drive. This is the road where you finish your 140.6 mile journey. Of course it rained but that didn’t bother me one bit. I just imagined the day when that could possibly be me…. I came back to the hotel soaked to the bone, walked into my room and said that was awesome! The Big Island had more meaning to me this time around.
Hilo, HI. Is on the quieter and rainy side of the island. I know, I had enough rain, but I have look at this 1/2 for sometime and this time the timing was right. For 10 of the 13 miles you run through a rain forest, see waterfalls, ocean vista which is mostly down hill and the last three miles are flat. It was a win, win, win situation all around. My coach had me doing a 2:30:00 half which is a lot slower than I normally run, but I figured it would give me plenty of time to sight see. I went into the run with a see what happens thinking. The race started out beautiful and just got better. The first 3 miles I just settled in. Next three I was consistent. Next thing I stayed strong. At mile 9 in noticed I had a chance to do something I have never done before… Finish under 2 hours!!!! It was going to be close but I decided to go for it. Mile 9 to 10 was still down hill and I jumped into another gear. I think that mile was somewhere in the 7:40 range. Then I just needed to hang on the final 3.1. It play to my strength being flat and simply focused on the person ahead of me. Picked that person and went to the next. Mile 12 to the end hurt, but I needed to keep a 9 minute pace. The seconds kept on ticking away, I wasn’t sure, but at the end I did it 1:58:25!!! It was one of those moments I will never forget! I finally broke through another barrier! I was a little worried about what my coach might think, but how could she be mad when she has helped someone reach such an important goal?
So it looks like I am putting more of my past in the past. Once I get back and step on that scale I am pretty sure it will go up. That is OK because I planned it that way. Hawaii once again was a success! Vacation wise, running wise and it threw in a few surprises here and there. Now I am closing this trip and that is some what sad, but I hold my head high for what was accomplished. I now turn back to the bigger focus of this year, my redemption race. Everything I have done to this point has been part of a bigger plan and yes that did include eating like pig in Hawaii. 19 weeks is a long time to be disciplined, but it will go by very quickly and my feet soon will be soaking in Mirror Lake, Lake Placid, NY.
I will have a new bike, a new fitter body, a refreshed sense on why I do the Ironman and with all those factors it should be one successful journey.
Until next time… Your Fitness Buddy!
Yep, I am still around, not dead, still breathing! Which means I have made it through month #2 of 7 and my Ironman Coach has yet to kill me! AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!
February has turned out to be an interesting month in this journey to Ironman Lake Placid only a short 150 days away. The intensity of the workouts alone would make any normal month more interesting, but doing them while juggling the travel schedule I had in February just ramped up the interest factor by 10 at least.
- Working out with some REALLY fit people
- Wearing some 80’s clothes for a fun run
- Some really interesting places in which I ran
- Juggling workouts just so I can still say I have done every workout my coach had me do
- A plaque that was sent to me from a friend saying I was Ironman of the Month in January
- A simple message sent to me from a friend on FaceBook.
The message that was sent to me. “Just thought you should know that I think it’s pretty stinking awesome that you get all your training in with all the traveling you do. Very impressive!!”
This person knows who she is. It was one of those out of the blue things someone does that simply put a smile to this face. For those who want more of a hint who this was, well she lives in a big state, wears clown shoes and burns water. That is all the hints I am going to give because I don’t want to make it too easy.
To respond to her I have to say this… THANK YOU! I hope people are getting the sense of how important this Ironman is to me. Dare I say it is just as important as my first. Not finishing my last one I have to know if I can still do these things call Ironman. I live, breathe and think about this sport on a minute to minute basis.
The word Ironman perhaps has more meaning to me than most. Not finishing Louisville and how I reacted to such failure might just turn out to be a pivotal moment in this moment of time I call Ironman.
Am I obsessed?
Maybe… but I like to think of it as a passion. Too few of us follow a passion… Why? I am not sure, but that makes me sad. The days we have to do things we are passionate for are short. I for one, plan to ride this wagon as far as it will take me. The Ironman has only brought me good. The people I now associate with are some of the best on this planet. The more I find out, the Ironman was key to getting me hired at my current job. It allows me to look past all the worlds negativity and see what is really good about the world. It has allowed me to inspire others to look towards a more healthy and positive life, not only for themselves but for their family and friends. In the long run it isn’t the Ironman who shaped this person named Jim Ristow, but I can honestly say if I wasn’t an Ironman I am not sure I would like the person named Jim Ristow. Yes, I have written about this person before and many have told me to move on from the past, but I say no. Why? Because when I am feeling down, the times where I can’t take one more stroke in the pool, pedal for another 10 minutes on the hamster wheel or feel like sleeping in instead of lacing up the shoes and heading out for another hour run, I simply think of that person I was before being an Ironman. That my friends is why I keep on going.
OK, enough of that mushy stuff and onto the business at hand…
These first two months being with a coach have been wonderful. It is everything that I could hoped for and every reason why I needed a coach. I am enjoying the fact I wake up in the morning the workout is there right in front of me and I simply do it. No more guessing! Now with my travel schedule I have had to juggle things up a bit but I have yet to miss a workout. If I know I won’t have a pool at the end of the week I simply do them all in the beginning of the week. Flying trips are more challenging than driving trips, but still I have managed by finding wonderful places to run, find a gym that has a pool or simply like I said before get all of my rides in or after the trip. Now that most of my flying is behind me for now I can bring all my training goodies along with me as I tour the Midwest. I have a feeling most of my long runs will be done outside of Chicago which is fine, because I am looking forward to seeing the different cities.
Now what scares me… a couple of things…
I am going on a vacation very soon. Yes it is to a wonderful tropical local, but what about my training? I have to remember it is a vacation, my coach has cut back on the number of workouts. It isn’t the actual missing of the workouts that scares me the most, it is the food. See I have a habit of increasing my waistline during these trips. The longer the trip the more expansion happens. To add on top of that I have enjoyed a recent downsizing of this body and I really don’t want to add those pounds back on. Vacations are for rest. Vacations are for enjoying the local cuisine. So I guess I have to trust myself that if the waistline expands I just jump back on the wagon once I get back from vacation.
Second thing that worries me… and I quote… “THE FUN WILL START ONCE YOU GET BACK FROM VACATION!” These are the direct words of said coach I hired… YIKES!!! Fun, what have we been doing the last 60 days? She already has me doing 12 hour workout weeks? Oh I think I just poo’ed a little.
Well I know these things will take care of themselves, there might not be a March recap (just kidding). I do know this I am more focused on this goal of being an Ironman once again. I am liking the structure and there is not a day where I don’t imagine myself crossing the finish line in Lake Placid, NY.
OK now it is time for the numbers….
January through February
Swim – 60,450 yards
Bike – 488.89 miles
Run – 156.30 miles
Strength – 7 hours and 25 minutes
Weight – starting 196 down to 193
My run to Lake Placid 499.67 or 408.33 miles to go…
Until next time… your Fitness Buddy