Week 6 – Recovery {Steven’s Ironman Experience}

Sunday was my first major step to see how my training has been coming along as I competed in the Tall Texan Triathlon in Boerne, TX. This was the longest Tri I have completed and it was definitely the hardest. The bike course took a lot out of me but thankfully I was just able to grind through it. Here is a recap of my day.

PRE-RACE – I woke up at 4:00am to eat a little bit of food and start getting fluids in. I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little bit of honey. I also drank about 8-10 oz of Gatorade. Then I went back to bed for another hour and a half. At 5:30am, I woke up, got dressed, went through all my bags to make sure I had everything I needed, and ate a bowl of plain oatmeal. With everything loaded into the car we headed for the race site. The transition area opened up at 7:00am so I could start getting all of my gear laid out how I wanted. These last few minutes fly by as you try to think of everything you needed to get done. At 7:45am, I went through my final gear check, put on my wetsuit, and was ready to go.


The water temp was 65 degrees which was cold when we first got in but felt great once we actually started swimming. About 70 men started at the same time so it was a bit chaotic at first as everyone is fighting for their own patch of open water. It didn't help that someone took a 45 degree turn in front of me and kicked a mouthful of water in my face when I was already having trouble getting my breathing right. I had to flip over to my back for about 20-30 seconds just to stop coughing. I cannot even imagine how it is going to be with 2600 people starting at the same time. After the first turn I finally got into a good rhythm and got right in behind someone’s feet so I could draft off of them. When we hit the long backstretch I lost him as he drifted about 30 yards off-course to the left. It is amazing how hard it is to swim straight when you don’t have that huge black line at the bottom of the pool. After I made the final turn then it became more of a mental game as it seemed like every time I looked up to sight the shore it got further away. My goal was 35-40 minutes for the 1.2 mile swim and came in just under 38 minutes and in 33rd place overall out of about 100 total participants. Once I got my breathing under control the rest of the swim was great. I felt really good heading into heading into the 56 miles bike course.


I knew this ride was going to be tough, but it was even worse than I imagined. This was by far one of the worst rides I have ever had. After about mile 15, I just could not get comfortable on the bike. I don't know if it was the hills (a pre-race email had the signature “rest up, the only flat part is the swim”) or the roads themselves but I kept getting a pinching feeling in my hamstring that sent a shooting pain down my leg on every pedal stroke. I have done several 40-50 mile rides the last few weeks and have not had any issues so I think (hoping) it was just something about this particular course that got to me. The pain was worse when I was down on the aerobars so I spent a lot of time up on my hands which caused my arms to really fatigue by the end of the ride from all the vibrations. Best way to explain it is 56 miles of riding on a shake weight. I ended up using every downhill to stand up off the seat and just coast. I know I lost a lot of speed but I had to get some kind of relief from the pain I was feeling. My goal for the bike was to finish between 3-3:30 hours and even with being completely miserable the last 2 hours of it I still came in at 3:11 which was good enough for 41st overall for that segment.


By the time I made it to the run course, I was just so happy that I was off the bike that the upcoming half-marathon seemed easy. The run was a 2 loop course that started with a rocky climb up on top of the dam. The first mile or so of the course was off-road around to the other side of the lake. I really felt it in my ankles and lower legs from running on an unstable surface after just finishing the bike. After the first aid station the rest of the course is on-road with some rolling hills. I think “rolling” has a different meaning in the Texas hill country because there were some pretty steep climbs on the run. By early afternoon, the sun that we had luckily avoided all day finally came out to greet us. I’m not sure what the temperature actually was but the lack of shade during the run made it feel even worse. I completed the first loop at right about the hour mark with minimal walking at each aid station while I finished my water and gatorade. I took an extra cup of water just to dump on my head at each station as well. By the second loop I was really starting to feel it in my legs and I ended up walking a couple minutes at each aid station to try to cool down and let my HR drop a little before I ran to the next one. Once I hit the final aid station I knew I was close and it gave me a little bit of extra energy to run all the way into the finish. My goal for the run was 2-2:30 and I came in at 2:18.

Total time was 6:12 which put me 3rd in my age group and 45th overall. While I feel great having checked off another step towards IMTX, this was a really tough course for me (mainly just the bike) and right now I am not planning on doing this race again. Not sure how I will feel about it next year but 2 days removed it is a 1 and done race for me. Talking to several people post-race it seemed to be a consensus that the roads were horrible. I was glad to know that it was not just me that had issues out there. After the race, I had a dreaded 6 hour drive back home. At some point in the car, I started having some tenderness and pain in my Achilles tendon. I decided I better get it checked out on Monday before I start my training back up this week. My physical therapists didn’t think it was anything serious so we just did a few exercises to loosen everything up and he used a cold laser to try to reduce the swelling. He also did some “dry needling” on my calf muscle which was definitely a new experience for me. I could barely put weight on it Monday night but it feels much better now after having another day of rest.

The plan for this week is just to get back to my normal training routine as much as I can. When I originally planned out my training I didn’t have a race after week 5 so this definitely threw a kink in it. Hopefully all the soreness will work itself out in the next couple of days and I will be right back where I should be by my long workouts planned for this coming weekend.



Week 5 – Race Week {Steven’s Ironman Experience}

This week started my 5th “real” week of training for Ironman Texas 2012. It is actually a very easy week for me as I prepare to race in the Tall Texan Triathlon in Boerne on Sunday. Although my workouts are shorter this week, with nothing longer than an hour, they are focused on maintaining proper form. These short, but focused workouts are designed to keep my legs moving but also help keep me fresh for the race.

I bought a new wetsuit a few weeks ago so an open water swim on Sunday finally allowed me a chance to try it out. I’m sure everyone who was out at Lake Lewisville that afternoon thought I was “mad” for swimming around in March (bad pun, I know, but my Dad will enjoy it). The water was pretty cold at first but the wetsuit kept me warm and felt comfortable other than a little issue with the fit in one shoulder that I need to fix in order to not fatigue as fast during the race.

The Tall Texan is a half-iron distance race. It starts with a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride filled with lots of hills, and a 13.1 mile run to finish out the day. From everything I have heard and read online, this is one of the toughest half-iron distance races in the state due to the hills. I have also read many stories about being jarred to complete fatigue on the bike due to most of the roads being chip seal. From riding in the MS 150 bike ride the last 5 years I know how uncomfortable that is as all the vibrations are transferred through the bike in into your arms and legs so I am definitely not looking forward to that part of it.

Overall, I have a few goals for this race. The first is just to see how my fitness is progressing along with a long day of “training”. This will be my longest race to date so it will also give me a chance to see how my body reacts to the longer distances. The main thing I am hoping to get out of this race is to dial in my nutrition plan for the Ironman. Most people consider nutrition to be the 4th stage of triathlons as you will typically burn anywhere from 500-1000 calories per hour. Take that over a 12-17 hour day and you have to find a way to replace all that energy. The problem is, as you exercise, your body transfers blood flow away from your digestive tract towards your working muscles, which slows down digestion. Therefore, you have to be very careful to make sure what you eat and drink agrees with your stomach or you could be in for a rough day. This race will have similar food and drinks to what will be offered at Ironman Texas so I will be able to find out if I can just count on eating and drinking what will be on the course or if I need to carry all of my own nutrition (besides water) along with me.

If everything goes right, I plan on finishing in around 6 hours. Still a ways from the top of the pack but based on the last few years’ results should land me on the podium for my age group. Stay tuned next week as I will have a full race report as well as details about my training for the week.

Recreation Programmer

City of Wylie


Senior Shenanigans April 2012 {Wylie Senior Activities}

The April edition of Senior Shenanigans and activity calendar for adults age 55+ is available on our City webpage.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Anthony Cook
Recreation Supervisor
City of Wylie


The Decision {Steven’s Ironman Experience}

I know this was a little long, but bear with me. After this “catch up,” I will post updates weekly on my training progress, workouts, and how I am feeling about the entire process through the actual race.

I have always been a multisport athlete, even all the way through college. It really taught me how to manage my time to make sure I was able to complete everything I needed to get done. However, a decision I made a little over 1 year ago has completely changed what I ever thought I knew about time management.

Back in June of 2010, World Triathlon Corporation announced a new Ironman Triathlon that would take place in The Woodlands, TX (just north of Houston) in May 2011. I had completed several shorter triathlons as well as a few adventure races and had wanted to take on the challenge of the toughest endurance race in the world. For those who are unfamiliar with Ironman races, it comprises a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and finishes with a full 26.2 mile marathon. Everything is completed back-to-back-to-back with a cut-off time of 17 hours. With Houston being so close (for someone who grew up in west Texas and became accustomed to 4-7 hour drives for sporting events), I knew this was the race I wanted to do. Being the inaugural race, it sold out relatively quickly and I was unable to get registered so I set my sights on 2012.

Fast forward to May 22, 2011, I sit on my computer waiting for registration to open at noon to make sure I get one of the 2000+ entries into the race. After an entirely way too long registration process, I was in. Now comes the hard part, I HAVE TO TRAIN FOR THIS THING!!! I have never considered myself a swimmer, cyclist, or runner. With this one decision, I am suddenly all three. I immediately began looking for training plans that would fit around my schedule. As it turned out what I needed was a schedule that would fit around my training plan. At the time I registered for the race, I was playing in several adult sports leagues (2 soccer, basketball, and volleyball) which kept me in decent shape throughout the year. I decided that I would not be able to train the way I needed to while playing so I was forced to take a break. I told all of my teammates that I would not be playing after the end of the season in August so I could focus on training and avoid any injuries. Then, in the final basketball game of the year, I roll my ankle and I immediately know it’s bad. I end up having to be in physical therapy until the end of December until I can finally run without any pain.

At this point I am 5 months out and about 3 months behind on my training. Not a good start! I find a different training plan that is more condensed that I think will still help me reach my ultimate goal, finish in under 13 hours. I spend January just trying to get a solid fitness base back after almost 4 months of very little activity. It is during this time that my wife really starts to get worried that I am not going to be able to finish, or that I will be so miserable the whole time that I will never really enjoy the accomplishment. To help ease her mind, I find and register for a half-Ironman distance race on March 25th. My “official” training started in the middle of February. A typical week consists of anywhere from 5-9 workouts and a total of 6-18 hours of training time. My long workouts so far have me at a 2 mile swim, 50 miles on the bike, and 12.5 miles running. So far, the training has not been too demanding but I can tell it’s getting to me as I am feeling a little tired this week. Next week will be much easier as I rest up for the race on the 25th. Then it will be right back into it as I continue to go longer and longer distances.

My family has been a great support system for me so far. They realize that I will have to make certain sacrifices with my time in order for me to reach my goal. I really think that no matter what your goal is, if you let those around you in on the process, they will be more than willing to help you along the way. My family has been very understanding when I had to miss a family breakfast to get a 2 hour run in or when I had to leave early from my sister’s birthday lunch to get to the pool before they closed. For this to work out how I want, there are just times I have to put myself first. I have to have that 1-2 hours a day during the week and 5-6 hours on the weekend to get my fitness level where it needs to be.

Steven is a Recreation Programmer for fitness activities at Wylie Recreation Center. He contracts fitness instructors and manages a fantastic fitness area staff. Steven has been with the City of Wylie since 2010.

Steven Harben
Recreation Programmer
City of Wylie


Day of WRECKoning at the Rec {Spring Break Wylie Recreation}

You are  so  d o i n g  this!

Recreation Passholders, stop by for a little Spring Break Wreckage Friday, March 16, 2012, 10 am - 9 pm at Wylie Recreation Center.

Grab the “Wrecking Ball” and hurl it at an opponent to knock them off of their inflated pedestal. As the “Wrecking Ball” swings back, try and grab it!

The last player standing is, of course the champion.

Annika Sacco
Recreation Manager
City of Wylie


Senior Shenanigans March 2012 {Wylie Senior Activities}

The March edition of Senior Shenanigans and activity calendar for adults age 55+ is available on our City webpage.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Anthony Cook
Recreation Supervisor
City of Wylie


Spring Break gets Campy {Wylie Spring Break Camps}

Looking for extra activities to fill WISD Spring Break? Wylie Recreation Center has extra fun happenings for kids age 5 - 18 during the week of March 12 - 16, 2012.
Browse activities and register your spring break camper NOW for fine arts, dance and more.

Katy Burton
Recreation Programmer
City of Wylie

March Gym and Wall Schedules {Wylie Recreation Center}

March Open Gym and Open Climb schedules are available!

Check out Basketball, Volleyball and Toddler Time in the Gym.

We also have Open Climb and Homeschool Climb.

Steven Harben
Recreation Programmer
City of Wylie

Take a Tumble {Wylie Rec Ware}

Get your 8, 8 ounces of H2O while showing your love. For a limited time you may pick up an "I Recess at Wylie Rec" tumbler in green, orange or blue - our favorite colors!

The opposite side reads, "the power of play, 60 minutes / day," and comes with a lid and straw. Tumblers are available at Wylie Recreation Center for only $6 per cup

Thank you, Ms. Katy for being our "hand model."

Annika Sacco
Recreation Supervisor

City of Wylie