American Past Time - $15.00

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American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Marathon Plan

Mile 2 - Practicing our Synchronized Running Form

Over the last ten years I have competed in fifty triathlons and a variety of 5k, 10K and half-marathons, but never a marathon. This year I decided to give it a shot and signed up for the  PNC Milwaukee Running Festival, which was held Sunday, November 1, 2015. 

My coach, Heather Collins  set up my training program and ran some training runs with me.

The Challenge:

·         Design a program that would have me marathon-ready in November, while continuing to train for the USAT Nationals Olympic distance triathlon in early August.


·         From years of triathlon training I have developed a good cardio-base so I didn’t need to build a lot of cardio endurance, but the minor hamstring and calf strains I had experienced over the last few years could become more serious problems at the longer distance.

The Program:

The program Heather set up was designed to help me:

1.      Improve running biomechanics  (proper foot placement, stride, cadence)

2.      Increase strength and firing of the muscles used for long-distance running

3.      Improve flexibility

4.      Address hotspots before they become problems


·         Precision Multisport Facility

I had two one hour sessions a week (usually Tuesday and Thursday mornings) at Precision Multisport under Heather’s guidance.

·         Chiropractic care, massage and stretching

Instead of seeking help after an injury we implemented a plan of preventive maintenance with routine visits to The Wellness Revolution for chiropractic care and massage therapy. Dr. Tony Breitbach and his colleague Dr. Nick Scanio  took care of the chiropractic care while Laura Price and Sheila Tan provided massage torture every two to three weeks. Both women told me the massages would be less painful if I stretched more.  And for the first time in my life, I did become serious about stretching and foam rolling. It helped but the massages were still torture.

·         Weight & Nutrition

When I trained and completed the Ironman at Coeur d’Alene in 2012 I weighed about 188.  Over the next two years I brought my weight down to 178 and for the marathon my plan was to run at 173.  I developed a weight loss plan that works every time.  You can eat anything you want, including beer and pizza and wine and cheese, but you have to eat less of everything. Also it helps to record everything you eat (at least for a few weeks). I used MyFitnessPal to log my meals – as it has the calorie and nutrition information for most all foods I wanted to eat.  The benefit of logging your meals and snacks is that it educates you.  Do I want this 100 calorie Double-stuffed Oreo or would I prefer to use those calories for something more nutritious – like a beer?   

My basic diet was a 300 - 400 calorie breakfast (cereal, banana, orange juice) a 400 - 500 calorie lunch (half sandwich, apple and yogurt), an 800 calorie wine and cheese course, and an 800 - 900 calorie dinner.   I averaged about 2500 calories a day and on race day I weighed 173. 

·         Run Workouts 

Heather set up three runs a week:  a speed workout at the track on Sunday afternoon, a tempo workout along the lakefront on Wednesday mornings, and a long run along Lake Michigan on Friday afternoon.

Here is a recap of the running workouts:

Training period:  June 1 to October 30

#of Workouts:  49    (16 speed, 17, tempo, 16 long)

Total Miles Run:  337  

Longest run:  20

·         Psychological Preparation

Almost nothing in life goes according to plan. The plan is a critical roadmap for getting you to your destination but you have to be prepared for the unexpected. On June 25th I managed to fall off my bike and crack the 5th rib in my back.  While it was a painful, annoying injury, I healed quickly. I couldn’t run for about ten days, but we substituted computraining and I was able to resume regular training runs by mid-July.

Then one week before the race I managed to twinge my pack unloading the washing machine. I got immediate chiropractic and massage help from The Wellness Revolution and by race day I was feeling great.

There are a lot more opportunities for things to go wrong during a triathlon. And over the years I have made all the classic mistakes (making a wrong turn on the run, swimming off course, mechanical problems with the bike).

Those screw-ups helped prepare me for problems that can arise before and during a competition.   

The Race

We had perfect weather for the race: sunny and 50 degrees. The course was hillier than I had expected, but not severe hills. Just a lot of rolling ups and downs.

 Heather’s race strategy was for me to start the race at a 9 minute pace (or slower) and gradually increase to 8:45.  Try to hold that pace through mile 20. If I felt strong, I could increase the pace to 8:35 or faster.

She knew that the most common mistake newbie marathoners make is to go out too fast. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement at the start. I did go out faster than 9 minutes but not so fast that I burned out.

I ran the first 13.1 miles at a pace of 8:54, slowed slightly over the next six miles, but finished the last six miles at 8:54. My time for the race was 3 hours 55 minutes and 7 seconds. I had hoped to be under 3:55, but this was close enough. I felt strong throughout the race.

I think the marathon more than any race I’ve run, is all about the training. I came into that race rested and well-prepared. Issues that I’ve had in the past on longer distances, like foot pain or hamstring tightness didn’t develop. Since I’m not getting any younger, I have to attribute that to good coaching. And maybe my wine and cheese focused diet. 

My time qualified me to race in the Boston Marathon in 2017.  I am considering it.
Mile 14 - The bridges are starting to annoy me

Mile 22 - Thinking about that chocolate milk


At the Finish Line - I just passed the guy behind me because I thought he might be in my age group. But he was wasn't.








Monday, August 24, 2015

Racing Weekend: Great Lakes Plunge & North Shore Triathlon

It was a great weekend for racing.  On Saturday at Clark Street Beach in Evanston, we had the first annual Great Lake Plunge.  While the water was a little cold it was a great event.  Those swimmers are crazy.  Most of the folks who signed up were planning to swim without wetsuits (not me).  But because the water temp was only 53 degrees the race officials decreed that wetsuits were mandatory.

I signed up for the 1.2 mile distance. There were also 5 mile and 2.4 mile options, but because of the cold temps, the distance options were reduced to 1500 and 750 meters and I jumped on that 750 meter option.  About 25 meters into the swim I was wishing my wetsuit had sleeves, but by 100 meters my brain was too cold to wish anymore and the rest of the swim was okay. 

On Sunday we had the 3rd annual North Shore Triathlon at Gillson Beach in Wilmette. The North Shore Triathlon is the creation of Craig Strong and J. P. Bordeleau of Precision Multisport where I train.  Craig and J.P. and a host of PM volunteers did a great job organizing the event. 

Two years ago at the first North Shore Tri I entered the race as a relay team with my daughters. I swam, Christie biked and Nicole ran. It rained for the entire race and whenever I have asked them if they wanted to try it again, they just give me a look. Not a good look. 

Last year the race was a month after my surgery and I couldn't bike so I had my friend Zeev Saffir do the bike segment and I swam and biked.  Unfortunately last year the temp on race morning was 42 degrees. 

This year the weather was perfect. I did all three segments.  And despite swimming slightly off-course (which is hard to do on a straight line course) I had a great race.  Averaged 20 mph on the bike and ran the 5K at a 7:33 pace. Took 1st in my age group. 

This was my last triathlon of the year. Next race is the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee which I will be running with my coach Heather Collins.  Our to make it to the starting line.

Check In for The Great Lake Plunge

Waiting for the water to warm up (it didn't)
Beat the crowd to Transition

A half hour later
Cold water

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Time is it Anyway?

I started this blog in July 2009 with the stated purpose of chronicling:
  •  My writing endeavors; I was working on a novel which I was confident would be published to huge acclaim in no more than a year.
  •  And my triathlon training; my goal was to finish in the top 10 of my age group at the USAT National Championships in 2011 when I would be the youngest in the 60 to 64 age group.

It is hard to say which goal was more unrealistic. I think it might be a tie. Which shows that at least I am consistent.

The novel took six years and I’m still waiting for it to be discovered by Oprah or maybe HBO.

And I have now competed in five national championships without finishing in the top 50% to say nothing about the top 10.

But I have improved my tri performance each year. One of the problems is that the old guys I’m competing against keep improving too. 

I wouldn’t have been able to improve at all if I hadn’t had great coaching – first with Craig Strong from Precision Multisport and these last three years with Heather Collins who works out of Precision also.

The 2015 USAT Nationals were held in Milwaukee last Saturday. It’s a great venue. I wish the USAT would keep the race there permanently – even though there are way too many guys walking around there with Packer jerseys.

I finished 52nd out of 85 in the 60 to 64 age group. 
BUT... year I compete with the REALLY old guys (65 to 69)  and my new more realistic goal is to finish in the top 25 (but my secret goal is top 20).

I also plan to publish another novel next year.  Please let Oprah know.  
And here are more photos of me.  They look very similar to the race photos from the last twenty races, except I keep looking a little older.