Ironman Training Week 1: Dec. 23-29

I always think it’s weird when people do their training logs as “week 3” or “week 17” – because like week 17 of what? Life? People used to ask me all the time what I was training for when I had a huge schedule of races and I’d never know what to say. “To get fast?” Training starts, it stops, it starts again.

But, with Ironman I have a very specific goal circled on the calendar. And, week one was last week. I have 26 more weeks until IM CDA. This whole counting down thing may end up stressing the shit out of me. Here it goes.

Monday

Mountain biked 1:40 on the 680 Trail. Fell down some rocks, which was problematic since I was half way through and far from home. I also almost hit a cow.

Feldenkrais class. It’s sort of like PT/Yoga/stretching. Not sure if I can explain it or if it was beneficial.

Tuesday

SICK, watched TV

Wednesday

Biked 42 miles with some friends to Pt. Reyes Station. I still felt stuffed up and sort of sick but, other than having to blow my nose a lot, I was fine. Fine-ish. It was still a longer ride than I’ve done in a bit.

Some light core and stretching and yoga stuff after.

Thursday

Crossfit after work. I just tried to take it light to get moving and get some strength. But, I am terrible at jumping rope and I probably should have rested more before trying to do anything hard.

On another note: Crossfitters don’t take jokes about Crossfit well. The coach was explaining that they have this one workout where they don’t do any of the Metabolic Conditioning, running, aerobic stuff — just lifting. And, I joked, “Cause if there’s one thing Crossfit has too much of, it’s running.” They didn’t think it was funny.

Friday/Saturday

Feeling sick again. Or, rather, didn’t ever stop feeling sick. It’s up and down. Stuffed up, no sore throat. Sore throat, not stuffed up. Cough, cough, cough.

Sunday

Ran 4 miles easy the slowest I have possibly ever run 4 miles + drills + core work and PT, etc. It was not fun.

TOTAL: 7:40

A less than stellar start. And the bummer is: I’m still hacking and stuffed up and taking so much Nyquil that it’s giving me the shakes and I had to Google ‘Nyquil overdose.’ But, it’s also getting better some times. It’s hard to tell what to do. I know you can train when it’s above your neck and I know you should rest, but I also have a history of developing a cough that hangs on for weeks, which isn’t something you can do anything about. The only obvious thing is that this two-week break has sucked.

An Inauspicious Beginning

Yesterday was the official start of Ironman training. Already, it is not going well.

Instead of riding my road bike, I decided it’d be more fun to mountain bike, because road biking is boring (which is not an encouraging attitude for the start of IM training). Mountain biking was more fun, right until I fell down some rocks.

The fall was actually really pathetic. It was somewhere between these two crashes:

I was on a fairly easy section of single-track and shifted gear as I started uphill, but the gears didn’t catch. Instead, my chain started jumping and I abruptly was spinning out. That meant I lost momentum all of a sudden and began to tip over. This really wouldn’t have been a problem, since mountain biking basically is a synonym for falling and I should have just gotten a little dirty. But, when this happened, I somehow managed to be biking right over a pile of rocks off the side of the hill. So, when I tipped over, I fell directly on top and then down these boulders. My bike went over my head, simply from the steepness of the drop-off. It landed at the bottom of the rocks and I landed upside down on top of them.

When I sat up and tried to gather myself, I also managed to sit directly on a thorn bush. That meant I also had little thorns stuck in my ass, which had to be picked out. Good times.

I was surprisingly fine. Just cut up on my back and my head hurt a little. But, for the first time in possibly ever, I crashed my bike hard and DID NOT pass out. That’s got to be some kind of improvement.

When I was sitting in this thorn bush and trying to gather myself to make sure I didn’t pass out — since I usually pass out after shit goes down — I decided I needed to tell someone I had crashed, since I was out in the middle of nowhere and there was no one around. So, I texted Steve, “I fell down some rocks.” Which was some of the key information, but it really wasn’t all of the key information.

Eventually, I made it home. And, I went to a weird Feldenkrais class and then to dinner at The Counter. The only problem with dinner was we sat at the bar next to this middle-aged guy who really was not picking up on the fact that I didn’t want to talk to him about his opinions on football, traffic, politics, current events, what I had ordered, what he does for a living, what I do for a living, the waiters, the food, the TV. It was basically my nightmare.

Then, I got sick. I had a sore throat by the time I went to bed last night and could barely swallow overnight, waking up every 30. And, now, my start to Ironman training is me sitting on the couch in sweats.

Apparently, today is also the year anniversary of Sunny Running. I started the blog on Dec. 24, 2012 with this story about trying to run in the Headlands in a goddamn hurricane. At least this year, I didn’t start Christmas Eve clinging to the side of a rock face. Take the victories where you can get them.

Training Week: Dec. 16-22

Last week was the end of my “off-season” and the beginning of starting to think about training. It was a mixed bag.

Monday

Biked about 12-13 miles easy to the ferry, to the office and back.

Tuesday

Biked 14 miles home from working in Mill Valley, which included stops at 1. the bookstore, 2. Best Buy (worst place in the world in the weeks before Christmas) and 3. Safeway. And, I may have gotten a little overambitious in all the stuff I bought at Safeway.

Wednesday

Whoa, slow down, let’s not got nuts on the working out. Rest day/lots of shit to do day.

Thursday

35′ or so of basic strength work at the gym and swam 1400y.

Friday

Yoga. Except it was very boring yoga and was basically a slow stretching class with a lot of “feeling the earth beneath our feet.”

Saturday

I intended to go for a bike ride, but instead I ended up at Best Buy again (ugh), Safeway and two separate shopping centers — all non-Christmas related and all a mistake.

Sunday

Yeah, no.

Today marks the official start of Ironman Training. I suspect I will get very boring now and do nothing but ride my bike and go to bed early. And probably cry. I suspect there will be more than a few times I start crying.

Things I Have Done to Prepare for Ironman/Triathlon Training

  • Re-start my pool/gym membership that lapsed a year ago
  • Get my road bike tuned up and cables replaced
  • Join a new team
  • Plan my base training
  • Sign up for races
  • Make arrangements (some of them) to go to training camp weekend with Hillary in Feb/March
  • Consider just staying in Arizona for a week to go to new team camp the following weekend and really put in a week of crazy work in between
  • Yoga
  • And, stay at yoga for the entire class without leaving
  • Talk to coaches, pick people’s brains
  • NOT apply up for a number of new jobs, fellowships and gigs that have come up, so that I can actually have enough time to train and recover without being crazy overbooked — this has to be some kind of first for me
  • Rest
  • ART appointment and massage to deal with my messed up leg/foot
Things I Still Have To Do:
  • Get my Garmin to download
  • Figure out why my PowerTap isn’t working
  • Find my heartrate monitor
  • Devise functional strength/preemptive recovery plan to help prevent injury
  • Train

Watch out people, this shit is getting real. I might actually be taking IM training seriously for the next seven months.

Can You Buy Event Participant Insurance for an Ironman?

In a word: No.

Who’s to blame for that? WTC or Active or Allianz — depending on who you ask.

Despite the fact that last fall Active unveiled a much ballyhooed race registration insurance program for all races on its platform, it does not appear to be possible to buy it for World Triathlon Corporation (commonly known as Ironman Co.) Ironman events. That is to say: I don’t know if you can buy it for Ironman-distance events put on by other race organizers and some people have reported success buying it for WTC’s 70.3 and 5150 races. But, when I tried to purchase the insurance for IM Coeur d’Alene, it was not possible.

In an interview with Slowtwitch, Active explained that the when athletes registered for races on Active’s system, they would have the option of purchasing a $7 insurance plan through Allianz insurance. This was something Allianz and Active were providing — NOT the race organizer. If the athlete then had to pull out before the race and never started, they could make a claim — and would have to go through a normal claim process like with any insurance — and get their registration money back. Obviously, for a $670 Ironman (once you pay the extra “convenience fees” from Active) that you have to register for nearly a year in advance, this is a deal. Active told Slowtwitch at the time that it would be available for all races and that, basically, they were counting on a lot of people paying the $7 for smaller, cheaper races and that it would balance out. They explicitly said, at the time, that it WAS available for Ironman races.

Now, not so much.

Checking around it seems that some people were able to purchase the insurance when they registered for Ironmans right after it was announced. But, then that stopped.

When I registered for IM CDA, the insurance wasn’t an option in the registration process. So, I called Allianz to purchase it directly. The Allianz rep told me it was only a product offered through Active, so I needed to call Active. He transferred me.

The woman at Active told me if it wasn’t an option in the registration process online, then that meant that the race organizer (in this case: WTC) wasn’t offering it. If the race organizer hadn’t decided to provide this option, then I couldn’t buy it directly through Active. (Which, on a side point, doesn’t even make any sense, because it’s an Active/Allianz insurance product that has nothing to do with the race organizer. The race organizer carries no risk for the product or cost, so why shouldn’t you be able to purchase it directly.)

The Active rep then said that no Ironman races offer the insurance option, because of a policy of USAT. I said you mean WTC, because USAT is USA Triathlon and why would a national governing body have a policy that doesn’t allow athletes to insure their most high-risk race registrations?

And, she said, nope, USAT has a policy.

Um, ok. Phone call ended.

Then, I emailed WTC/the race organizers and asked them. I got a perfectly nice email back that said:

We are not mandating that type of insurance for our events, but I am sure you are more than welcome to purchase it through Active if you want their coverage.

So, right. Obviously, I emailed them back saying that wasn’t exactly what Active had said. But, I haven’t gotten a response.

The more I think about it, the more it makes no sense. In theory, Allianz and Active are third-party providers. Their plan, all along, was to sell insurance, take on that risk, and make money. The race organizer gets the registrations either way; they don’t have to offer the refunds. It seems the options for what happened then are limited: Either Allianz and Active realized they weren’t going to make money on Ironman races, so they came up with a fake policy. But, why couldn’t they have just charged more for Ironmans and then the business model would make sense again and most people would pay $40 to insure that expensive a race? Or, USAT really banned them from selling it, which, I dunno, doesn’t seem logical. Or, WTC, which does a whole LOT of business with Active, basically came up with a policy and told them that was not going to be an option for their races. I don’t know why they’d do that, but I do know WTC signs a whole lot of contracts with vendors and cities and hotels and every part of the experience that they can sell you, so it seems like they must have some reason up their sleeve?

Have you been able to buy registration insurance for a race?

And, I’ll be doing Ironman…

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…Coeur d’Alene!

This is a picture of the race and those are people swimming. So, yeah, that looks like fun.

My official — and by official I mean I declared it out loud while shaking my fist at the sky: “I WILL do Ironman Coeur d’Alene!!” — plan is to do IM CDA in late June and then possibly another IM at the end of the year (Cozumel? Kona? — maybe, cross our fingers). Leading up to this I also plan to do Escape from Alcatraz and maybe a half (Oceanside, perhaps) and Boston Marathon, ideally.

Oh, and before that, I’m doing Pacific Grove Tri in five weeks, Santa Cruz Tri and CIM — which is a marathon for those of you not in the acronym know.

So, you know, suppose I should actually sign up for some of these.