Posts Tagged ‘Ironman Texas’

Plugging back in …

Posted: November 25, 2013 in Training
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Ever since we started training to “Run for Dom” in the winter of 2009 we have been training, posting and chronicling all of the highs, lows, struggles and victories along the way.

Back then I was concerned with how in the world I was going to be able to run two marathons just 13 days apart.  I trained hard, tried to take care of myself the best that I could and strapped myself in for at the time was the most difficult race of my life.  Pittsburgh in May 2010 was a long day at the office for sure, but in the end it was still over with in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes.

I wondered at the time what was going to be the next adventure, never really thinking we were going to top that effort.  One of the by products of training to run those races for Dom was cross training on the bike. I planned on some day trying a triathlon. Just for fun of course.  But never anything crazy.  Certainly not an Ironman.

Maybe I’m one of the few people who honestly believed that, but I honestly didn’t think we would ever “go there”.  I have told numerous runners that unless you feel like you “need” to run a marathon, you shouldn’t do it.

Wanting to just isn’t enough, to do it in a serious way, you have to need it. The requirements are just too stringent for us amateur athletes. The penalties too severe if you are undertrained or injured.

For Ironman, the same disclaimer applies.

2.4 mile swim.  112-mile bike.  Marathon.

Not something to enter into lightly.  That said, here we are as in just 23 weeks we will slide off the dock into the water with 2,700 other athletes for the most grueling, challenging endurance athletic event in the world.

Dom would have loved this.

So where have I been the last few weeks?

I took a break quite honestly.

I knew what these 6 months were going to be like.  Swims, rides, runs, weights, nutrition, posting workouts.  Many professional athletes do exactly what I did, which is take it easy, let all the bumps and bruises heal and then attack their training with renewed vigor.

Let me tell you something, it works.

I ran ran a bit, biked a bit, swam a bit.

I refined my swim form.  I dialed in my new bike set-up. I trained for and absolutely crushed the 5-mile in 30:25.

I also hit the reset button mentally and I am completely stoked for this training cycle.  Much like Run for Dom, I really don’t know how this is going to all work out.  So much can go wrong in an Ironman, there are too many variables to count.

But there is one variable that I have no concern over whatsoever and that is being prepared for race day. I am attacking this event emotionally detached and very businesslike. The emotions of it all are going to be suppressed until the cannon fires on May 18.  Then it will be time to let it all hang out.

140.6 miles in what I hope will be somewhere around 11 hours.

There is a little more than 7 billion people on the planet right now with approximately 500,000 ironman finishers walking among us. Pretty elite company.  I have no illusions of sneaking onto the podium at Ironman Texas or of securing a qualifying spot for Kona and the Ironman World Championship.

What I do plan on doing however is honoring a close friend who was taken from us far, far too early.   With his name on my flats and my daughter’s on my race kit I am going to race and finish every damn one of those 140.6 miles.

A long time ago I promised Dom that no matter how hairy things got out there I would always try.  Never quit, never give up no matter what.  Seemed like the least I could do.  So after taking a little mental health break here we are once again making the same promise.

Dom, this one is for both of us. As little guys who were told all our lives we were too small, not big enough, not strong enough … I say now to those people they underestimated one thing about us egregiously.

The size of our heart.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic around the Marruchella house.  A couple of Birthdays the last week of August, Landry – turned 3 on Aug. 29th.  Dawn turned …. older …. on the 31st and the following weekend we made our way up to Dallas to pick-up the newest member of the family Abby.

Abby at 8 weeks

Abby at 8 weeks

Abby is now a 10-week old Schipperke pup.  The same breed our last two Dogs have been.  In fact, Abby was born on July 7th in Oklahoma City, just two days after Kayla was put to rest at 17 1/2 years old.  We thought that Santa was going to bring Landry a new best friend at Christmas this year, but we were fortunate to find a litter just north of Texas that had a little girl remaining.  So on Labor Day weekend we drove up to our friend’s house in Frisco and met up with the breeder to bring Abby back to Austin.

Landry and Abby are quickly becoming buddies – and with the exception of Abby still needing to learn what she is allowed to chew on (Toys) and what she is not (Toes, Fingers, Computer Cords, Rugs, Running Shoes, Dirty Clothes, Remote Controls, Carpet, Mulch, Grass etc.) and where to go to the bathroom (Outside) – she is fitting right in at home.

Landry and Abby

Landry and Abby

The final addition to the house was a new Triathlon Bike.  My trusty Cervelo P1 that got us through training for Run for Dom and a couple of podium finishes including at our first Half-Ironman was ready to be replaced.  Training for Ironman and competing/completing the 112 mile bike leg was going to demand a little more than the P1 was able to give us with its aluminum frame – especially on the comfort side of things.  So I spent a great deal of time looking at the TREK speed concept, Cervelo P3 and offerings from Felt and Specialized.

I thought I had my mind made up to go with the Cervelo once again, but the price tag was a little more than I was willing to stomach.  The bike is beautiful, comfortable and fast – but I’m not a professional triathlete.  I don’t even play one on TV.  I do not need a $8,000 race day set-up including my wheels.  That is just silliness.

I stopped into Austin Multi-Sport in Round Rock, TX – which was the last shop on my list to visit and talk bikes – when I hopped on the full-carbon Quintana Roo CD.01.  Without even being fitted properly, I settled onto the saddle and down in to the aero bars and knew I had found our bike for Ironman TX.QR CD.01

Tom Ruthven – who is coincidentally the brother of Don Ruthven at Austin Tri Cyclist who sold me the Cervelo P1 – did a great job working with me on trading in my old bike, getting the price down to the level I could stomach and gave me a professional fit.

The full carbon CD.01 is very light, very smooth and with a few rides under my belt – a fast, great climbing bike.  It’s also worthy of a few looks when we roll into transition in May down in The Woodlands for Ironman.

By then Abby might weigh 1/2 what the Quintana Roo does.  Hopefully those puppy teeth will all be grown in by then.


It’s race-week at the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Salt Lake City.  A weekend that I had been looking forward to since May when I started to ramp up marathon preparations.  But on July 24th when we were forced to cut our track workout abruptly short during the middle of our final 400 – our race went bye-bye in the blink of an eye.

I thought I would be a little bit down this week, knowing that our opportunity to re-qualify for Boston would be right in front of us this Saturday – but instead I’m pretty even-keeled about the whole thing.  Nobody who trains hard and races seriously likes to pull out of an event.  It is something that happens to everyone if you race long enough, but for us this makes the second straight marathon that has passed us by.  Houston in January, Cottonwood in September.  That makes for a tough year.

That said, I’m more excited about the future than I am disappointed about the past.

I’m back training pain-free, which is a blessing.  In fact, even with the layoff, my fitness level is not too far away from where it normally is when we start a training cycle.  I’m not totally dialed in and ready to crush a race right now, but I don’t really need to be.  I don’t have an event that I really care about until December 7th on the calendar, so in the meantime we are going to build our base back on the bike, in the pool and on the trail so that when we kick off Ironman Training on November 18th, we will have a solid 10-weeks of base building in the three disciplines.  An enviable position heading into Ironman Training.

By the time Iron Man Texas rolls around we will have spent more than 448 hours training.

99:25:00 in the pool.

126:56:00 running.

222:20:00 in the saddle.

If things go our way on race day and we can dial in our nutrition properly hopefully we will be able to spend just 90 minutes in the water, 345 minutes on the bike and 230 minutes on the run course.

The bike will be the major focus in our training spending about 9 1/2 DAYS riding.  That fitness will supplement our run training, where we will be cutting our runs down to just 3-4 workouts per week stressing quality over quantity.  Our swims will build fitness of course, but will also serve as recovery workouts from all of the miles on land.

Come race day, we’ll be as ready as we can be for what some people call the toughest endurance event on the planet.  Finishing it is really the only goal I am going to have on race day.  The same philosophy I had going into my first marathon in 2006 in Philly (3:58:08) – A time ironically that if I can lay that down at the end of a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride, would make me very proud at Ironman Texas.  I very well might run the slowest marathon I ever have on May 17th – but in a lot of ways it is sure to be my greatest.

Just finish.  At the end of the day, nothing else is going to matter.



I have been kicking around an idea for about a month now.  It started out innocently enough.  In a “what if” kind of way.  But much like the idea of running my first marathon back in 2006, the more I thought about it, the less ridiculous it seemed.  The less ridiculous it seemed, the scarier it became.  Because once something doesn’t seem ridiculous, it starts becoming possible.  And once it becomes possible, there is not a long way to travel before it becomes likely.

Likely is the final stop before real.  And after thinking about it long and hard by myself, I set-up a lunch appointment to talk it through with my best friend who always knows what to say.  When to encourage me and when to tell me that perhaps I should reevaluate things.  Luckily for me, I was smart enough to marry her, which makes these conversations all the more important.

We laid out the pros and cons, the compromise solutions and decided that I should indeed give it a go.


A race that one does not enter into lightly.

2.4 mile swim.  112 mile bike.  Full Marathon (26.2 mi.)

I have told more than 100 people over the years that you should never train to run a marathon unless you feel like you NEED to.  It’s not enough to want to.  Wants are fleeting and over the course of 18-20 weeks of training for a marathon, you have to need it to keep you going.

I told myself a couple of years ago when I learned to swim and competed in my first Triathlon on my 44th birthday that I would never do an Ironman unless I felt like it was something that I NEEDED to do.

Well right now, for a variety of reasons – I need this.  And over the next 36 weeks I am going to prepare to execute a race plan that I will spend months preparing.  Training, Nutrition, weight training, swimming, cycling and of course running.  Endurance over speed.  Technique over strength.  Efficiency over all else.

When the cannon goes off on May 17th in the Woodlands outside of Houston TX, 2,700 athletes are going to start the swim all at once.  It will be a mass start like none other that I have ever experienced.Ironman Texas Swim Start

There will be 5,400 arms flailing and 5,400 legs kicking all at the same time looking for clean water.  My day will start at 7:00 a.m. and will not end for 11 1/2 hours +/- if everything goes right.

If things go wrong – there is no telling how long our day will be.  But I always remind myself how far we’ve come with our swim from that first day on April 11, 2011.  Below is the simply entry into my training log.

First Swim

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 12:31 PM Central Time (US & Canada) By marruchella
Activity Type: Lap Swimming | Event Type: Training | Course: —

I sucked at this.

That’s o.k., we all have to start somewhere.  But it is important to remember where you come from.  Who you are.  What you are about.

I’m a working class kid from a working class family.  I’m a Dad and a husband.  A son and a brother.  I’m a boss to a few, and a friend to many.  I was blessed with a little athletic ability, but nothing remarkable.  I have a tolerance for pain that is greater than some.  Perhaps many.  But it can be somewhat of a curse at times.  It can be to my own detriment on just about any day except race day.

On race day, that is when it becomes an advantage.  There has never been a race course that we have walked off of.  Not our first marathon with an IT Band injury, not the 2012 Boston Marathon in 88 degree heat or any race in between.  And come hell or high-water, it is not going to happen on May 17, 2014 either.

With Dom’s name on my shoes and Landry’s on my TRI Kit we’ll keep pushing until we have our moment.  When Mike Reilly pauses for a moment and says:

“Joe Marruchella …. YOU …. ARE …. AN …. IRONMAN.”

Damn skippy.