Thursday Dec 02, 2021
Thursday Dec 02, 2021
Thursday Dec 02, 2021
This episode has the interview with David Williams (aka "Down Under Dave") who wrote a book about his life and ultra running adventures. The book is really good! Dave graciously made himself available for an interview and he's really funny and has an outstanding outlook on life. More information about the book can be found at the following links:
And here is Karen's Iron Man distance race report, it's very detailed and pretty cool:
I’ve wanted to do an Ironman distance triathlon for a long time but was intimidated by the amount of time training would take. I already have a full-time job and training would be like adding a part-time job. However, sometimes friends get you to do crazy things. I have a group of friends who have been together since about 2012 when we joined forces to do Ragnar Chicago. We started the weekend as acquaintances and after 36 hours and 200ish miles, ended the weekend as dear friends. We’ve gone on to finish five more Ragnars as an ultra-team (six runners and one van as opposed to 12 runners and two vans). In 2017, someone saw (ok, it was me) there was a relay race across the state of Iowa (west to east). Within about two weeks, we had eight runners and found a driver to get us the 339 miles across the state. Half of us live in norther Indiana, the other have in Indianapolis. We keep coming up with events to participate in so that we have something to train for and participate in together.
In 2015, Julie and I met up for a run and she asked if I wanted to do Muncie 70.3 with her and her sister Pamela, one of the Indianapolis tribe. I was in. Julie and I trained together in Northern Indiana and met up with Pam when time allowed. Many of the Ragnar group showed up to cheer us on, just as we did with Pam and Tina completed Ironman Chattanooga in 2017 (this was for Pam’s 50th)
For Julie’s 50th birthday last year, she threw out hiking the Grand Canyon (rim to rim) in one day. Once again, it didn’t take us long to commit. We persevered against COVID scares and some other issues. We traveled to Flagstaff and on October 7 we completed the hike, starting around 4:30 a.m. and finishing around 5:30 p.m. We made it back to Indiana safe and sound, with the exception of a bit of trail rash on Pamela from a fall she took and a badly sprained ankle, Melinda, ironically, our driver suffered. She hiked down the trail about a mile and we as we were hiking back up, just past one of the tunnels, she stepped off the trail, canyon side, and went down. Unfortunately, what goes down, must go up and she persevered up.
2021 was my turn to hit 50. While planning for Grand Canyon, the goal of completing an ironman distance was swirling in my head. Pre-COVID, I found out a friend’s husband, Matt, was training to do Ironman Louisville, which would be on October 9. As Ironmen usually are on Sundays, I did the math and realized Louisville would be on my birthday in 2021. That would be pretty cool. Then COVID hit, Louisville was cancelled for that year, and then cancelled permanently. Since Matt had put in all the training and didn’t want to waste it, he organized his own event. Then Muncie 70.3 announced they would have a 140.3 event this summer. It piqued my interest, but I really didn’t want to spend the money.
The town I live in is located on the north shore of the second largest natural in Indiana. Perfect for swimming. Outside of that, we are surrounded by corn, soybean, and wheatfields. Perfect for biking and running.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought I could follow Matt’s example and stage my own Ironman distance triathlon. I could do it by my own rules (accept assistance from spectators, have friends/family participate with me) and if training went off the rails, the weather was bad, or doing the full wasn’t going to work, I could cover the distance over three days or move the distance back to the 70.3, or a half ironman.
Pamela, who completed Ironman Chattanooga in 2018, shared her training plan and at the end of April, I started “training”. This would be a don’t do as I did disclaimer. I trained but didn’t complete every workout. I skipped the second week because I was out of town for a conference. I didn’t start swimming until Lake Maxinckuckee (Max – in- kuk – kee or Lake Max as well all call it) warmed up in late July. I tried to hit the longer workouts but when we went on vacation in August, didn’t get in the long bike rides. I tried to balance family demands with work and training. There were many workouts that were shortened or skipped because I needed to work late or my husband and daughters were actually home. We have two girls, 20 and 17. My 20 year old has a 2 ½ year old daughter and has moved out of the house. I will drop just about anything if Kate and Mabel are coming over. My youngest, Emily, had a summer job and then attends a private boarding school in our town. Again, if she is home, I want to spend time with her.
The longest swim I did was 2.4 miles. It was on a Friday evening, after Labor Day, so activity on the lake has slowed. I ended up chasing daylight and enjoyed watching the sunset over the lake toward the end of the swim. There were a few early morning swims, too, getting in the lake while it was dark and watching the sunrise. What a way to start the day!
The longest bike was 89 miles in about 5 ½ hours. The training was based on time, not distance and by 5 ½ hours, I was ready to be done! The next day, I ran 12 miles and, surprisingly, it wasn’t bad. I ended up getting a cheap spin bike from a friend and started doing spin workouts during the week and hitting the road on my bike for the long rides. The spin workouts provided a good challenge that I might not have had if I road my bike.
The longest run was around 16 miles. I will add that three weeks before the event, another Ragnar teammate, Kim, and I ran the Sunburst Half Marathon that started in downtown South Bend and ended at the 50 yard like of Notre Dame stadium. We finished in two hours and Kim came in first in her age group. We were not expecting that! On the bus ride back to the car, Kim wondered how must faster we would have gone if we actually trained.
Probably the best week of training, was my taper week leading up to event day (I’m hesitant to call it race day as I really didn’t race). I had to attend a conference and stayed at a hotel with a lap pool and workout room. You know I took advantage of that!
My plan was to start my swim at a friend’s cottage on the south shore of Lake Max and swim to the town park on the north shore, which is 2.4 miles. If the weather was bad, I would either find a smooth spot in the lake to swim or go to a pool about 20 miles away and swim laps to complete the distance. My husband planned to kayak with me for safety, and to keep me on course. My younger daughter would drop us off at the cottage, grab my bike and meet me at the town park.
Next, I’d ride 112 miles. I didn’t have a particular route in mind. I just knew I wanted to end at Julie’s house in the northern end of our county. It happened to be about 26.2 miles from my house so once I ended the bike, I just needed to run home. I figured I would bike by solo and my Ragnar teammates would accompany me on the run.
The day before the event, my friend Melinda, who has been our driver for our Ragnar events, asked if I wanted company on the swim. Her husband Doug completed Ironman Maryland a few weeks ago and was willing to swim and would keep me company on the bike for a while.
The weather in October has been amazing in Indiana with high temperatures in the 70s and lows in the 60s. While it rained Friday and turned foggy Friday night, Saturday morning was absolutely perfect. The wind was calm. It was a little overcast. The lake was like glass and the temps in the low 60s. We got to the cottage on the south shore around 6:20 a.m. and walked the kayak down to the water. It started sprinkling but it was short lived. We went back up to the car to wait for Doug and Melinda and get the wetsuit on. By 6:45 or so, Steve was in the kayak and Doug and I were in the water. My daughter Emily sounded the airhorn on her phone and Doug and I were off.
It took a bit for me to get into a rhythm and to fully put my face the water. Initially, the water temperature took my breath away but once I acclimated, it was perfect for a long swim. Steve had a headlamp on the front of the kayak and a red light on the back and wore a headlamp. Doug had an inflatable buoy with a light in it strapped to his back. It kind of looked like a Chinese lantern floating on the water. At times, the lights on the kayaks blended into the lights on the shoreline and I’d have to stop and get my bearings. I think I swam pretty consistently for the first half of the swim. The second half, I started losing sight of Doug and Steve. At one point, I popped my head up and couldn’t see either one of them. There was a bit of panic as I felt very alone. Finally, I caught sight of Steve again in the dark, asked him to turn his headlamp around so there was a light to follow. That made a huge difference. The sun rose at 7:50 a.m. and by that time we were about halfway done. I don’t think that I was getting tired so much as getting bored toward the end. I was very happy when the Beach Lodge began getting clearer, then I started running into some of the tall plants growing in the lake and could see people on the beach. Finally, I could see the sand on the bottom of the lake. I swam in until the water was about knee deep and stood up. I completed the 2.4 mile swim in 1 hour 30 minutes, which was my A goal.
I was a little dizzy getting up and, while trying to get water out of my ear, lost my balance and went back down into the water. The dizziness subsided and I headed out of the water and was met by Ragnar teammates Kim and JW as well as Melinda and my daughter Emily. Em and Steve got the kayak loaded up and I got changed into my biking gear. The transition was about 20 minutes.
While I was changing, some of Doug’s Ironman training group rode past the park and stopped to ride with us. I’m not used to riding with anyone, so I was a little nervous riding in a group, let alone riding with super experienced cyclists. They were great, though and hung with me for about 20 minutes before they needed to head home. Doug and I rode around Lake Max three times for 30 miles and then headed north to the City of Plymouth. Doug stuck with me to the south end of Plymouth where Melinda picked him up and checked on me. I was then on my own to get through Plymouth and north to mile 56 at Julie’s house. This was the section of the ride I was most concerned about as there was more traffic, traffic lights, and stop signs than I’m used to riding with. I needed to ride through the city in order to safely cross US 30. Thankfully, there was very little traffic and I hit most of the lights green. Julie was getting off of work in Plymouth so she met up with me at a few spots in Plymouth followed me through a round-about to block traffic and get me through safely.
At 58 miles, I arrived at Julie’s to the cheers of the rest of my teammates. Pamela hopped on her bike and joined me for the second half of the ride. The area is rural, so traffic wasn’t much of an issue and our teammates were out in their cars meeting at various intersections to make sure we were going the right way and didn’t need anything. Julie had gone out and marked the turns on the road, but we misunderstood the second marking and took a wrong turn. It added a few miles, but we found our way back to the route after a phone call or two. After that, the team was out at most of the major turns making sure we went the right was and managing traffic for us. The route took us back to Julie’s with about 20 miles left. We took a quick break, restocked fluids, stretched and we were off again for a second loop. The original route was 26 miles but because of the extra on the front end and the wrong turns, Julie worked on shortening it. She was amazing at quickly rerouting and for the last 10 miles, she escorted us along the route. With about 5 miles to go, she pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted to be a little over or a little under on the ride. I said over, just so I knew that I went the full distance. She then led us back to her house and we finished the ride at 112.2 miles. The actual ride took seven hours and twelve minutes but, with the breaks and transition, it took seven hours and thirty-five minutes.
I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to manage my nutrition, but I knew it was important. On the ride, I drank water with electrolytes and downed three small Clif bars, with the last Clif bar consumed during the last 45 minutes of the ride. By the end, my stomach was sloshing around. Pamela suggested giving the Clif bar a little time to digest. In the last mile, she also suggested cycling at a high cadence without a lot of resistance to get my legs ready to run.
When I arrived back at Julie’s, the team had the cowbells out and had a little cheer tunnel for us to enter. I got to the driveway and stopped. I had to will my leg to swing over the bike so I could get off, get changed, and get running. Before I started the run, I drank half a can of Diet Coke to settle my stomach and ate a Ginger Chew. Both of those things helped tremendously. The second transition was about 15 minutes.
For the run, the plan was for my teammates to each run with me for about 5 to 6 miles. After being on the bike for so long and having such a quick turnover on the pedals, my legs were ready to go and I started out fast. Thankfully, JW reigned me in and she suggested running for four minutes and walking one. Had she not encouraged me to slow down, I probably would have blown up at the end. We chatted and caught up as we hadn’t seen each other for a few months. JW stayed with me for about 6 miles and then we traded out runners – Ragnar style (meet the van, one runner gets out and one gets in). Wendy joined me and caught me up on what has been going on with her and kept me going, sticking to the 4:1 ratio. My running partners kept entertained and engaged so I wasn’t even tracking the miles. I was keeping up with fluids (running with a water bottle) and trying get in some calories. I found iced down Gatorade and pringles were keeping me hydrated and fed, but a Diet Coke was the best. By about mile 10, though, I was feeling a hot spot on the inside of my big toe. It was the same spot I got a double blister last year while hiking the Grand Canyon. Throughout the run, my teammates were leapfrogging us, so we had quick access to aid. We yelled ahead for Band-Aids, and they responded like a NASCAR pitstop. They found a towel for me to sit down on, Pamela got out her tacklebox with anything and everything you would need at an aid/medical stop, and with everyone gathered around doing a job, got my toes bandaged up, got me off the ground, and running again.
Around mile 14 or so, I was joined by Julie and Kim. The three of us run every Sunday morning. We did our “normal” six or seven miles together, keeping with the 4:1 intervals and occasional stopping for aid. One stop was an impromptu visit to a family from our church. We got a picture of the whole team and enjoyed the music from the party across the street. It was about that time that I was doing the math in my head and realized I took the wrong route through Plymouth heading south and I tacked out an extra couple of miles. We decided I would run to 21.2 miles and then they would drive me to five miles out from my house. By that time, it was about 9 p.m. and very dark on country roads. My teammates went into traffic control mode with one car with hazards on, following close behind us and the other going ahead and waiting at stop signs.
We hit 21.2 miles and I knew I definitely was too far out so we hopped in the car for a quick ride to 5 miles out. My daughter Emily, who ended up hanging with my teammates all day, got out to run me in and my older daughter, Kate, was going to meet us at about a mile and a half out. Emily is a senior in high school and qualified for the State meet in swimming and track. Any other time, she would have dusted me but Saturday night she stuck with me and commented that the pace I was running felt like the pace she would run during a track workout. We had a great run and the time passed quickly as we chatted. We met up Kate at the edge of Culver Academies, a private boarding school, where Emily attends school. I didn’t realize it, but her friend had been following my progress all day. Em told them we were close to their dorm, and they met us with cheers and high fives.
We ran down the main streets in our small town to our house where my husband and teammates were waiting with a finishing tape. The run took approximately five hours and 19 minutes (my Strava stopped when I paused it for the car ride, so I had to restart another run). My husband started the timer on his phone when I started swimming and so we took his time of 15 hours, 9 minutes and 39 second as my official finish time. I finished around 10 p.m.
I honestly was surprised at how well I felt on the run. There were a few times that we walked through the run interval, but the time passed quickly. I think carrying a water bottle and sipping on the watered down Gatorade and Pringles game me just enough energy to keep going. That and, addition to the Diet Coke, a flat Coke around mile 16.
My teammates made an Ironman “medal” and Doug gave me one of his Ironman shirts. It was a great way to end the first half century.
Sunday morning, I really didn’t sit around. We got up, went to church, out for lunch and did our grocery shopping. I probably felt worse Monday. I went to work and sat most of the day. Overall, though, I felt worse after my first marathon and after Ragnar Napa when I trashed my quads on the hills near Mill Valley.
So, will I do one again? I’m not ruling it out. I asked myself the same question Kim asked after we finished Sunburst – how much better could I have done if I had really followed the training plan? At the same time, this was a bucket list item and a way to motivate me to work out. It is time to take a little bit of a break (my house needs some attention). The Ragnar group is planning another trip to the Grand Canyon next year, hopefully without the drama and hassles of COVID, so it looks like there is a lot of hiking in my future. Regardless, we will keep looking for new adventures, challenging each other, and looking for ways to keep us motivated to continue moving forward.