I completed the half Ironman 70.3 Ohio!

On July 25, 2021, I completed the half Ironman 70.3 in Ohio, USA. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life! But I had so much support from family, friends, and volunteers on the race course. Thank you!!

My times:

SWIM (1.2 Miles, 1.9 Kilometers) = 00:44:59

T1 SWIM-TO-BIKE = 00:08:11

BIKE (56 Mi, 90 K) = 3:00:22

T2 BIKE-TO-RUN = 00:08:31

RUN (13.1 Mi, 21.1 K) = 2:37:59

TOTAL TIME = 6:40:02

I am planning on doing a more in-depth analysis of the race.

I’m looking forward to the full Ironman Wisconsin in September, which will double all the distances.

This is a simple notification that I did the half Ironman.

So for now, time to celebrate!

Grant at the finish line of IM OH 70.3, July 25, 2021

Ironman 70.3 Packing List and Day-by-Day plan

It’s two days before race day, which is Sunday, July 25th. It’s the half Ironman 70.3. I’ve done all my tapering and relaxing these past two weeks. I’ve already put in the miles and hours of training. Now is when I need to finalize the packing list and plan out each item for each step. I use Trello to organize checklists so they’re easy to understand.

Take a look at my packing list and day by day plan.

I’ll talk to you after the race!

Ironman Training: 2021 vs. 2020

In 2021, I did things better than in 2020.

In 2021, I started doing longer swim sessions and once per day. In 2020, I was doing two-a-days and shortening the swim. But I’m not a strong swimmer, so I need to spend more time in the water.

In 2021, I started doing more brick workouts. A brick is a combination of bike then run, in that order. A brick trains your body to get used to running right after biking. I was only doing one brick workout per week in 2020. But in 2021, I was doing at least 2-3 bricks per week.

In 2021, I took swim lessons from a coach. I learned so much about efficiency and power that I would not have picked up on my own. In 2020, it was me, myself, and I.

In 2021, I got fitted onto my bike in a road position and aero position. I also got aero bars. In 2021, I will race in the aero position, which is much faster and more comfortable. In 2020, I only had the road, upright position to ride in.

In 2021, I got another pair of goggles. These goggles are anti-fog. In 2020, I only had one pair of cheap goggles. Also in 2021, I bought a wetsuit that I didn’t have in 2020.

In 2021, I got calf compression sleeves for my legs. These reduce muscle fatigue for races or intense workouts. In 2020, I was relying on my bare legs.

In 2021, I started practicing with nutrition. I tested out 3-4 different endurance mix powders and took them on long workouts. For what it’s worth, I landed on Infinit Performance Nutrition. I also bought the Maurten gels and Quantum bars that will on course at the race. I bought Salt Sticks and took them everywhere. I trained with a mix of Gatorade and water. In 2020, I was trying out a things without much discipline.

In 2021, I started running with a water bottle. I can’t understate how important this is. I will race with a water bottle containing my Infinit endurance mix. And, I can refill the bottle with water and Gatorade and cola. This way, I can sip on fluids in between aid stations.

There were other smaller things I did differently from 2020 to 2021, but these are the big ones.

One thing that remains the same is the commitment and motivation from 2020. That has only grown in resolve in 2021.

Ironman Training Blocks: from August 2019 to July 2021

I started training to do an Ironman triathlon since August, 2019. But from then until now, I’ve gone through ups and downs in my training. Below are some summaries of the distances / durations per week of each discipline: swim, bike, and run. My training has been split up into distinct blocks.

  1. First, in August 2019, I decided to go all-in. I had been experienced in biking. I had run occasionally but not seriously over the last few years. But I hadn’t swum in many years. So, I found a training program online (thanks, Josh Muskin!). I adapted the training program to my schedule. I began to train 5-6 days per week. At first, I eased into swimming. But I started with short distances while I learned the form. I filled out the rest of my time with biking and running.
  2. In the winter, I continued to swim in the pool, run outside, and bike inside. I joined a Zwift indoor bike training program in early 2020 (Dec-Feb, 2020) which got me into great biking shape. I took a couple weeks off from swimming due to some vacation around the end of 2019.
  3. In mid-March, 2020, I went on another vacation to Miami. That was the exact week when the US closed down due to COVID-19. Our flight actually arrived back to Minneapolis on March 16th, the very day that closures were mandated.
  4. After that, I went into a slump. I stopped swimming (my planned swim durations remain in grey, but my actual durations sank to 0). I began biking and running more, while paying attention to the events. Eventually, one by one all my Ironman and triathlon events were canceled in 2020.
  5. For the summer of 2020, I kept in running shape. I focused mostly on biking far and fast. I went on century rides and fast sprints. I just wanted to stay in shape. By the end of August, 2020, my running culminated in my first marathon, unassisted.
  6. From September until the end of December, I went into slump number two. I stopped biking, running, and didn’t start swimming. My Ironman events were being rescheduled until 12 months from September, and I knew I couldn’t keep up my momentum from then until September, 2021. Instead, I did indoor yoga, stretching, and gained a bunch of weight.
  7. In late December, 2020, I started up indoor biking again. Soon after that, in January, 2021 I started running outside consistently as well. I ratcheted back my yoga. I was competing in online Zwift bike races, which raised my fitness level again.
  8. Then in May, 2021 I restarted swimming. I took swimming lessons. And I got smarter and more focused on my biking and running.
  9. Now that we’re in July, I have two more months until the full Ironman distance, in September. I’ve trained smarter in 2021, not necessarily harder. With two years of training under my belt, I am ready!
Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

This post is not about stairs.

This post is not about stairs.

It is about me trying to understand what’s happening in my city, country, and culture. I do it the best way I know how, through metaphors.

If you were walking up the stairs and saw this, what would you do?

Minneapolis, Apr 2, 2021

A New Step #1 was recently installed with new wood. The Old Step #2 matches the original build.

Where would you put your weight to climb the stairs: On #1 or #2? In other words, the question is whether you trust the old or trust the new.

There’s no right answer in every case. Each case depends on the context and personality.

Put my weight on the new: The old step broke away due to time and disintegration. So it’s more likely that the other old step will break, too. The new was installed with newer, better parts.

Put my weight on the old: The old has still more experience than the new, which hasn’t been tested yet. Maybe it was installed wrong and I’m about to find out. The new could be incompatible withe the original build.

This post is about Daunte Wright and Kim Potter. It’s about split second decisions. About desperation and stress. About equality and justice.

Daunte Wright was killed by Kim Potter. This loss is a tragedy for our city, country, and culture. The protests, counter-protests, and surrounding conversation are as much about the moments that ended one life and changed another as it is about competing ideologies; about where we should put our weight.

Old Step #1 broke, and the New Step #1 inserted itself in. There is a new movement calling for justice, demanding outrage, and condemning silence.

We as a people are now looking at Old Step #2.

Is Old Step #2 sturdy or most likely to break?

Was the breaking of Old Step #1 an outlier occurrence, or was it an indicator that the old wood is disintegrating?

Do we trust the original foundations or do we think it’s likely to break and hurt someone else?

Is the New Step #1 incompatible with the original build, or is it more advanced with updated parts?

This very week, during the Chauvin trials of the killing of George Floyd, ideologies are arguing louder than ever again. We have to choose whether to protect Step #2 and trust the sturdiness that lasts. Or we have to choose to replace the outdated old wood and replace it with a newer and updated build.

Paranoia vs. Planning: Ode to my car troubles

What’s the difference between paranoia and planning? When is it reasonable to live in fear?

My car has started to turn off randomly while I’m driving. I’m going about 25 miles an hour with a small amount of pressure on the accelerator. Each time it has happened, I’ve been able to react quickly by pulling over to the side of the road to restart the car. Nevertheless, it got me worried.

I took the car to a mechanic. But the mechanic wasn’t able to reproduce the issue and couldn’t fix it. But he said to try different gasoline and pay attention to see if it happened again.

Listen to this blog post here or continue reading below!

Well, it did continue happening. It’s happened about five times now. It’s hard to predict. But luckily, it’s only happened on small roads, not at high speed on the highway.

While I’m going 20-25 miles an hour, I should be able to coast to a stop if I’ve been paying attention. Given this new risk, I’ve actually become more aware of my surroundings at all times. Imagine if I were texting and the car turned off suddenly. I would lose valuable seconds. At the least, it would be embarrassing to stall in the middle of the road. At worst, it could cause a crash.

In addition to driving un-distracted, I now drive with a game-plan. I’m always thinking, “what if it turned off here? Or there? What’s my exit strategy?”

I’m not a mechanic or a financial advisor or really anyone that should be giving advice. But I think I might keep my car like this and ride it out for a while.

As a result, I will drive less distracted and with an exit strategy plan in mind. I know that this will improve my driving.

If you watch car crash videos, you’ll notice two things: 1. These videos are super addicting. 2. And many of the crashes were caused by distracted drivers.

The easier we make it to drive, the more distracted we allow ourselves to be. Massive innovations in autonomous and self-driving vehicles are coming soon to new car buyers. Even any “regular” car produced in the last few years has so much comfort that it lowers me into a state of relaxation, allowing my mind to wander away from the road.

Paranoia is different than planning. Someone that lives in a constant state of tension and preparation for a zombie apocalypse is paranoid. But a “global pandemic” should move from paranoia to planning to prevent it from happening again.

If I drive with constant fear and attention that my car will turn off, this is planning because it’s happened before and could definitely happen again.

When my car resolves its issues, or when I get a new car, I’ll no longer need to live in paranoia. But I can keep my planning. Maybe I won’t need to spend each moment thinking of an exit strategy, should my car turn off. But why not keep the un-distracted driving instead of going back into the comfort of distraction?

In search of the Lofi aesthetic

This past Sunday morning, we lay in bed listening to Lofi Lofts music and dozing. I felt like I was living out something more than the music itself: some aesthetic of Lofi-ness. We were seeking to embody a life of coziness and stillness.

Something like wanting to be the Lofi Girl.

Instead of listening to the rest of this blog post, instead listen to the Lofi Girl:

Link

The Lofi Girl has been sitting and writing in for over a year now. She was around before then. But she’s been live ever since February, 2020, around quarantine in the USA.

The soundtrack beats onward with different tunes. But the feeling is the same. Here eyes are relaxed, on the verge of drifting into dreaming. Her head slumps into her hand. A bit of writing and turning the page. It’s dark inside, but not gloomy. It’s calming, but focused.

The pieces settle together like they weren’t organized there deliberately. The books are scattered on the desk and shelf. But everything rests exactly where they are without tension.

There’s no activity outside. The sun rises and sets, the seasons change, but the girl and her cat still persist. There’s nothing else she’s missing. There’s nothing else worth doing than what she’s doing right now.

The girl looks up at her cat, and we expect something to happen. But no: its tail swings lazily. The cat is perfectly content where it is.

That’s really it: being content where we are.

We live in a disorganized world. But when we sit still in the early morning, we can gaze outside at nothing in particular. We realize there’s nothing under the bed or in the closet out to get us. There’s nobody waiting to knock on our door and send our life into a tailspin.

In that moment, stillness hangs in the air.

That’s what we felt when we slept in. Like we could wake up, yes. But we’re not missing anything. Why not appreciate the stillness as such. The world will still be there from one moment to the next. Right now is the perfect time to settle into something or nothing. Simple, straightforward, and slowly.

Dropping the unnecessary stuff.

As a culture, sometimes we drop words at the start of sentences.

For example: instead of saying “I have a friendly announcement that…,” we say “Friendly announcement that…”

And, instead of saying “I’d be happy to do that,” we say “Happy to do that.”

Wonder why we do that? Interested to find out. Quicker to get to the point. Confused or make sense?

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

How far to follow your passion

Many people say to follow your passion. But how far?

I don’t think everyone is meant to follow their passion to its conclusion. Instead, we often need to do things that we don’t enjoy or that wouldn’t be our first choice. I don’t think anyone sets out to try to clean toilets as their primary job.

But that’s ok! Because you can use your passions creatively in many types of work. And these skills can be invaluable in that other line of work.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

For example, I love coaching. But my job title does not say
“coach.” Instead, I use coaching methods in my work. I market myself as a software consultant and account manager with coaching skills. As a result, this coaching makes our team more effective.

I also enjoy music. But I don’t make my primary occupation about creating or listening to music. Instead, I do employ artistic methods in my work.

For example, in a proposal, I include musical elements in the structure to make it flow. Similar to a song, the presentation builds with verses as supporting evidence into a repeating chorus as the main argument. These ideas work in harmony, just like in music.

So, if you like coaching or music, you can pursue those as primary passions. But remember that these skills are invaluable in other areas of work that you wouldn’t think of!

I’m addicted to hummus.

Photo by abillionveg on Unsplash

I can eat hummus with chips or dip or straight from the tub. I love it. I feel like I’m willingly taking on a master whenever we buy hummus.

Hummus is my weakness. I can’t resist it. I could eat it all in one sitting.

While I’m thankful that my addiction isn’t to sugary sweets or tobacco or something more destructive, any addiction is a risky thing.

I’ve been experimenting with putting barriers in front of things that are too easy to enjoy. As a result, I have to work harder to get that entertainment. For example, I recently deleted Instagram from my phone. So, if I want to browse Instagram, I have to spend 60 extra seconds downloading the app, logging in, and loading it up again. I really need to want it to spend those precious seconds waiting.

This simple action has reduced my time on Instagram time by more than 99% last month. That’s a lot of time I get back to spend on other things.

However, the other things filling the space aren’t all great. For example, my YouTube usage rose last month. However, it’s hard to get rid of it since I still spend some valuable time learning in addition to mindless enjoyment.

Maybe YouTube will be next to go. Hummus can stay another day…