Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My first Ironman breakthrough

I was thinking about this on the trip I was just on while I was running on the treadmill on a cruise ship. I was thinking about this because I was thinking about all the times I had sacrificed and done work in hotels, or on vacations, cruise ships, etc. this time I was running staring at a treadmill. No music, no TV and when you are staring out the ocean it’s pretty boring. I didn’t have an I pod so I was just left with my thoughts.

I had so many years when I had experienced such subpar performances for my long course racing and despite trying so many things I could never get the results I felt I had always sacrificed for. It was so frustrating. I knew in my heart though that I had another level in me I could achieve. I would have been totally content if my potential was where I was, but I always was left with a feeling of being robbed on race day.

I really don’t really keep trophies or medals. I have very few. I had a chance to go to Hawaii Ironman though on a sponsorship entry someone had gifted me and I was ready and excited as always. I remember sitting at the pre-race ceremony and they were doing all the typical build up, etc. They went into a long explanation of the first Ironman trophy that was ever given and it was literally a few pieces of metal that someone had constructed and was to signify an “Ironman”. I of course had known about this being the big tri “Geek” but it was cool to hear about it again on the island. What I wasn’t prepared for was that if you finished the race that year – YOU GOT ONE! I remember sitting there thinking to myself no matter what, I was going to go home with the trophy.

I bring this up because I wanted to explain to people that this in large part was the changing of A LOT of my race results. Here is why:

All my bad races seemed to come down to bad G.I. Issues. I was never really able to simulate this in training because it would seem to really happen much after the 7 hour mark in racing. Once I would start to throw up it was a massive downward spiral. I have since figure out that problem with the help of a lot of people and combining a lot of different nutritionists and techniques which I can discuss my experiences with this later.

I didn’t have time to figure that out 1-2 days out from Kona but what I did have the ability to do was make the choice that no matter what I was going to do that day I would remain in control of my race. This meant I would plan to do it easier then I had ever done before. I told myself if I always felt good, there should never be any issues.

I hadn’t qualified to be there so I didn’t feel any pressure to perform and I wasn’t sure, just like I am never sure even now on my 9th trip that I would ever get the chance to be there again, so I wanted to enjoy the day. I told myself (I had no power meter or even HR that day) that if I even had to ask myself if I was going too hard, I would back off. My friend who had got me into the race was there volunteering and said he would be at the finish line until 11:00 (on the race clock) and he hoped to see me then. I told him that would be nice but I had never been baster then 11:50 and I wasn’t going to put the pressure on myself to break the 11 hour mark because that would obviously be counterproductive to the plan.

We started the swim. I stayed back from the front line and slowly got into my own tempo. I made it a point to stay relaxed and smooth. It was pretty uneventful and actually looking back I think I swam right at 1:00 which really isn’t that darn bad. I even came out of the water with triathlon legend Julie Moss, so that was pretty cool.

We got to the bike and I looked forward to one thing, I wanted to see all the professionals coming back from Hawi that I would always have to wait until magazines or NBC coverage would show me something months later. Today, I was going to get to see the race (at least in part) live and I was as much a fan that day as a participant.

I got off my bike 3 times to stretch and rub my feet. I often had foot issues so I decided since I was going to go as easy as Ai felt I needed to, I would take an extra few min throughout the bike and get off take my feet out o the shoes and give them a quick stretch. I rode a road bike with bar extensions, and while it may seem like blasphemy now, no aero helmet. J

I ended up riding 5:45 give or take which again, really isn’t a bad split at all. I felt like I was in a college crash course on how to effectively pace an ironman and I was acing the class. It became fun to see how easy I could go and still hit times I had previously worked so hard to hit. I remember riding back into town the last few miles, I saw people I knew and the only thing I wanted to let them know is I DID’NT FEEL BAD! To me that was more important than feeling good because in previous racing the wheels had already shown signs of falling off, not today. Today I was about to be 26.2 miles away from the first trophy I ever REALLY wanted.

I started the run and was grinning ear to ear. I had just tried to do IM Wisconsin a short 5-6 weeks prior and once again despite trying new stuff, was forced to drop out again from stomach issues. Today seemed like if all went well, I could avoid said issues. I remember I had made a choice to run with a fuel belt so I could carry my version of salt tabs in my drink solution. I had done testing at the Gatorade labs and they had given me “gatorlytes” which at the time were not available to the public and I was trying to use them to add about 1000mg of sodium every 60-90 min to my nutrition. To this point they had made me feel pretty bloated, but all in all I felt pretty good so made the decision to take the belt with me on the run.

Learning from the swim and the bike I quickly made a bet with myself. I wanted to see if I could instead of survive the run, would I actually be able to pull off a negative split??? It didn’t have to be an impressive one, just a negative split. I of course bet on myself and hedged the bet with telling myself to go out as easy as I could to help ensure the goal. I think I went through the half way point in about 2 hours. While it wasn’t the running I had always hoped I would be doing, I was in fact still running and feeling good. The bloat feeling had become quite annoying so I had decided to stop drinking so much sodium which I think actually helped me a lot. At half way I started to pick it up and actually found a good rhythm. I ran all the way to mile 15-16 where you turn into the energy lab and I thought to myself, that as I was going so well at this point I should take in a bunch of the sodium that I had been carrying. So I did and about 30 second later puked it up all over myself!

I remember feeling like I had done it to myself and that if I hadn’t just drank that I would probably had been fine. Considering it was now all over my shoes, I decide, let’s not do that again and I just started to run. I ran, I walked aid stations, always doing the math in my head if I was going to be able to negative split. I remember vividly telling myself that if I could only just keep running miles I had so often used as warm up and cool downs I would actually be able to pull it off.

Once I was within a mile of the finish I knew I had it! The finish line was awesome and I ran a sub 4 hour marathon, yes negative split, for the first time in my life and Was able to see my friend as I had finished in like 10:56! It was almost an hour PR! To make it better, I got that damn trophy and to this day it remains one of my only triathlon or any sport recognitions I keep. Ironically, It is one that everyone got that day. I have won awards that I guess seem harder to achieve but to me, that was the hardest. Nobody would understand the years of hard work and problem solving I had to do in order to get that damn piece of metal on a block of wood, but I did, and I still do.

The reason I bring this up is because I think everyone needs to find the thing that is going to motivate them to take a leap of faith and try something new. While it seems simplistic to look back on and read now it was a lot of pressure to decide I wasn’t going to keep up with my friends, or try to do something crazy that I had never done before time wise, or take any outside pressure in from external influences and trust my own internal voice which told me to: relax, stay controlled, slow down and you’ll actually go faster.

I have since struggled to break 10 hours since then, then finally broke through to low 9:00’s several times and have had other obstacles and struggles come up that I have had to work to overcome. I wouldn’t have been able to do those however if I had never gotten this particular trophy and earned it with reasoning behind it I rarely express to anyone.

I love trying to help athletes now figure out what leaps they can take to get the most out of their next evolution of training. If you had to think of something you could try, what types of things could we help you with?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Racine 70.3 Swim thoughts

When I have raced Racine 70.3 I have found a few things to look for that may help you. In general it is a pretty straight forward course. It’s labeled a “flat” race, but that’s not entirely accurate it relatively is, however the wind can play a big role as can the water temp and the weather. I have raced there in 60’s and rain as well at 105 degrees and brutally hot, which for me that day resulted in a DNF. I learned a lot that day though.

I thought I would put down some of my race tips in our Athlete Membership Program for athletes to use.

Pre swim- you have to be prepared to walk a mile down to the start of the race in the sand. There is a sidewalk up on the road or even the beach walk path I would recommend using as it’s a more stable surface, and a lot less crowded for a while. So you can get their quicker and save yourself some time. Its also a good thing to wear some disposable shoes for the walk you can throw out in a trash bin when you get there.

If the water temp is very cold wait till the last few min to get warmed up. Otherwise you’ll be standing around cold waiting for your wave to start. If the water is very cold, I have raced there with the water temps in the very low 50’s I would notice that it was very hard to hold my face and head in the water for the first fee min of the event. This process is going to really slow you down if you haven’t figured out a way to deal with this. Here are my suggestions on how to deal with very cold water.

-        You can wear the neopreame head cap if you want. That isn’t a big deal. If the water is a bit warmer it’s not like you’ll hate having it on. Just make sure you are OK with the strap under your neck. If not, you’ll be in cold water and have the new sensation of the neck strap.

-        I would really encourage you to NOT wear the booties. I really think it will slow you down. Take some old running shoes to the pool and try to swim with em on. It’s a terrible feeling.

-        I try to warm up on dryland. Gt blood going to the muscles without getting cold.

-        You’re face, hands and feet WILL ADJUST after about 5 min. then they will just go numb. Try to get that feeling over with 2-3 waves in front of yours. So I usually go knee deep and bend down and just put my hands face and feet in and try to keep the rest of my wetsuit dry. That keeps me feeling warm but also allows me to feet my bare skin used to the cold water.

-        Once the race starts line up wide if you are unsure of where you stack up. If you line up deeper into the wave you may find people reluctant to start swimming who haven’t done a proper warm up as you have.

-        Once you get in the water keep our head down, control your breathing and stay under control.

Swim – the swim course is pretty strait forward but you want to watch the previous waves to see how far they can run out. That can vary greatly. You may not be able to feel your feet great so watch your step.

The first turn buoy comes about 150-200 meters out so it can still be quite thick through the turn so start to set up your turn before you get to the buoy. Once around I usually like to head back to shore slightly and swim just inside the buoys as it tends to be a lot less congested. Just be aware the swimmers you do run into there will usually be a lot less experienced.

I site off four things on this course. Most of them are the same as every course but I look first for the people in front of me, then for the buoys. If I cannot see them very quick, there has traditionally been a tower that lines up nicely with the last turn buoy. The last things I can use on some years are the sand patterns. The waves leave ripples in the sand and I try to maintain the same angle on those ripples once I know I going straight. That will at least let me skip a few breath cycles which can help your overall swim time.

When swimming in I look for the archway. You can usually catch a few waves coming in which is nice but in preparation for the long run with some of my last strokes Ill reach towards my neck and pull down on it allowing water to come into my suit which lets the suit slip off much easier. The run is so long in the last foot of water I will usually take my suit off there and run with it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Swim Tips

As we get closer to race season most of us will have to venture from the pool to the open water. For a lot of people this can be scary, intimidating, confusing, and a source of worrying about underperformance based on pool times, as well as other things. In racing now for over 20 year I feel I have found a few things that have helped me, as well as the athletes I work with, transition to the open water.

Getting ready in the pool for the open water:

Sets- This is the first place I like to address the open water, often times before my athletes even know we are working on this skill. Before we even get into the specifics of sets however let’s take an honest inventory of how many people themselves, or see others setting PR’s during the warm up session? I see this so often. We swim in a pool that has lane designations based on ability. While I warm up with athletes I have swam with for years I often notice in lanes next to mine or in my lane with swimmers trying to make the leap to our lane they warm up faster than my race pace! They of course deny it but if you notice that half way through a set you start the move towards the back of the lane order, maybe consider how well you warm up. Learning to keep those emotions in check is critical practice for higher stress environments such as race day.

I find a lot of athletes like to do sets that are primarily focused on the classic 10 x 100 (n 10 sec rest). While this has value and surely can be used for a marker set, it is not in my opinion a good race prep set (depending on interval speed). I would suggest on most sets that are working on sustained speed and race effort keeping your rest interval to 5% or less of the total work is a good practice. So for a 1:45 T pace interval, you should be leaving on the 1:50, no slower. While the math isn’t perfect I would say up to 2:00 5 seconds is a good sustained interval send off.

I also like to lean more towards longer sets. So I think 4 x 300 is a better muscular endurance (ME) set then 12 x 100 on 5 sec. using close to the math above I would use the 10 sec interval here. I think for Olympic up to Half Iron this an example of a good base set. Feel free to modify these 300s too. I like to do variations especially when in a pool that doesn’t have a clock, or I am not motivated where I do 75 hard, 75 aerobic, 50,50, 25, 25. I don’t worry so much about pace and time, just the feel of changing the pace which is also critical for open water. You will need to change pace often to catch a draft, or lose someone, or just have a higher HR while getting bumped around turn buoys.

Another great thing to do is use tools. Things like paddles only for some of these so long as you don’t have shoulder issues will help build strength for rougher open water. You can progress to bands around feet, fly sets, and all types of fun stuff. We have several swim workouts in our AMP (Athlete Membership Program listed here)

Drills – Drills can be very helpful in the pool for getting ready to race open water.

Head up swimming will help build shoulder strength. It will also help you learn to refine and hold good body position. This has been called head up swimming, or Tarzan swimming. I like to also have athletes see what happens to their times when they take an average of 4 sights per length. Remember this for later in the article.

Strokes – While most triathletes fight the need to do anything other than freestyle I think it is a good idea to learn at least 1, if not 2 other strokes. Back stroke is valuable because it offers you a chance to work muscles that are different then freestyle, but also forces you to work on body position as well and remain balanced in the water. Fly is awesome for building strength and while it is short axis swimming (bend at the waist) the arm movement is very similar to freestyle. The only difference is that both arms are involved in each stroke so they get half the rest. This is one of the reasons it can be so effective for building open water fitness and has the added benefit of getting your run in and outs a bit smoother.

Once in the open water there are several things you can do help you capitalize on the work you have done in the pool

Landmarks- this is the first and easiest thing to do. Note landmarks if and when possible from all the directions you can while swimming. Make sure they are as tall as possible. A spot on a tree line, or a hotel, even a flagpole works well. You would think the buoys and the finish line arch would serve as good markers but they don’t until you are only a few hundred meters out. On course that I swim along the shoreline I have often paid attention to the distance I seem to be from shore and use that as a reference point. Just make sure it isn’t the sun, a boat, or any other type of moving object. Also if you are going to be swimming on sunny days, consider this during goggle selection.

Sighting – while sighting the landmarks you must trust your swimming, even if it is in the wrong direction. Remember the sets we swam in the pool with the heads up drill? Well if you sight all the time that is what your open water times will look like! I like to count between 10 (when I am the least sure, and 30 strokes, when I am the most sure or have feet to follow). If I look and I notice I have gone off course let’s say to the right, then I just try to adjust on race day and make myself swim off to the left (or at least feel like I am). If you really are confused as to which direction you are going then do a few breast strokes (good thing you used other strokes in the pool). As well, you don’t have to always see the landmarks, just the swimmers in front of you. Just like Days of Thunder “steer right at em Cole”

Breathing while navigating can be a bit of a tricky thing to get the hang of but my main suggestion would be to practice incorporating the breath and sight forward in unison. You’ll have to learn to trust that you do not have to lift your head as high which will only take energy and compromise optimal body position. Personally I lift my eyes forward just high enough to see where I am going. I don’t need to read the city in which the swim buoy was made printed on it, just a general sense of the direction everyone is going then immediately turn my head to the side to finish the normal breath cycle. I think it is better to do 2-3 sights in a row if you missed a sight then to sight longer one time. Try to maintain body position.

Positioning can be the last tricky situation to deal with. A lot of people will tell you to seat yourself in an aggressive position and hang on for dear life. If you think about the starting line as an X’Y axis 0,0 would be the fasted spot. As you move further out, away from the origin on the “X” you get theoretically to slower ranks as well as if you move back deeper down the “Y” axis. I think it is good to be as aggressive as you can be that you can still maintain calm and order. If you are freaking out and over extending yourself from the beginning, you will miss the draft and you will swim slower than if you had just stayed smooth and in your rhythm.

So much of open water swimming and execution is between the ears. This is a great topic to talk to one of our coaches about which is why we have included this service in the AMP membership. Contact us today to set up your consultation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Head Games

We did St. Anthony’s triathlon last weekend and it was fun to go do as it was one for the first major triathlons I ever did back in the 90’s. In fact, it was the first triathlon I ever took a plan e to lane to go do. So to get the chance to get that race in was a lot of fun.

The only trouble with the racing part of the trip were my achillies. I have haglunds deformity on both heels and some calcium in both tendons. I have been told that they will require surgery, and the might. I have also been told to try to put off the surgery as long as possible. All I know is when I have been running lately I have been in a lot of pain. I am not sure if it is in my head more than before because I have been researching or if they are legitimately worse.

One of the things that I believe you need to do with the any situation with this is to get a clear path in your head of what you want to do. I know that when I have things like this, or injuries, or whatever, I need to get resolution through a plan.

For the race my plan was to run in trainer shoes. After doing a lot of research I need to find a shoe with a high heel toe drop and something without too much cushion because instability will add to the stress of the tendon. That’s going to be a little bit of an issue because I have a separate issue with my fore foot which will require a bit more cushion. Of course this couldn’t be easy. J

So armed with my training shoes, which I even took time to tie in transition I came off the bike in what I thought was first in my age group. When I started to run my legs were feeling worse then I feel in a 70.3! I’m sure it was a combination of things such as I didn’t really focus on the race and was trying to vacation while there. It was very hot and humid. Lower 90’s which is a lot different than Chicago. I knew my shoes were 2x heavier than the shoes I race in normally. To make matters worse I looked down at my Garmin hoping to see between 6-6:15 and saw a lot of 7 min miles and slower! OMG, I was dying and the feedback I was getting from everything was making it worse.

Trying not to panic I told myself that to think about the basics: quick feet, form, positive thoughts, not over thinking, not concentrating on the negatives. I hit the first mile in 6:05, WHEW! That helped but the garmin was still off the entire race. I had to mentally fight all the feedback I was getting the entire race. I held it together to run a 40 min 10k which isn’t lighting the world on fire but good enough to won the AG by 9 min, and 5th overall.

My point in telling you this is not to say that I did well, but that I did well DESPITE dealing with all the negative opportunities. We are all going to have days ahead us that will present opportunities to take negative mental paths which I promise you will lead to worse results. It’s HARD to not fall into that trap.  Try to find mental practices to fall back on.

In my experience, I need to focus more on process then results. It doesn’t do me any good in those times to visualize having won the race. That’s clearly not what is happening then. What I do try to practice is paying attention to physical cues in training when everything is feeling good and then telling myself I can do these things even when things are going badly. For example, if your cadence is up while having a good run, I try to tell myself that even if my legs are too tired to push hard, I can still turn them over quickly. Or relax shoulders, or forward lean. All these things are metal tools you can use to help you in tough situations.

More than likely you’re not going to have the day you had hoped, but if you hold it together, you can avoid have a bad day, and actually do a lot better then you think.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I think one of the aspects I do well is self-evaluation. I may have had different perspectives on this as I have moved through life, but the willingness to look inside yourself with honesty and integrity I think is an important characteristic to success. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers, but you need to at least know when you don’t, and possess the willingness to seek out and listen to criticism.

It infiltrates so many aspects of what we do. Such as:

-        The person who is just “big boned” but unwilling to look seriously at their snacking habits

-        The unwillingness to recognize you don’t like one sport, so just don’t train it

-        The ability to recognize when you’re hurt and when it is time to maybe chill for a bit

-        When you have done all the right things in training, and then not executing correctly on race day

-        The ability to select races that truly reflect your goals for the season (I’m just going to do an IM for fun)

-        Your ability to really train at intensity zones you should on the days you need to

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I have used this tool in so many ways. I used to be told long course racing was just not my thing. I knew inside me though this was not the case. I knew at a minimum I had not reached my potential yet. I figured out pacing, nutrition, training zones, race strategies, recovery, etc. All things I had to be willing to take a long look at in order to go from several DNFs to several sub 9:30 IM finishes to include 9:16 at Kona.

I find myself in the same position every year and my goal from this post is to tell you some of the things I run through every year on my own to see what I believe I need to change. These are things that even when I am coached, I need to figure out internally and then use a coach at times for objective feedback to maybe help me game plan a strategy to fix the issue.    

Here is my latest example of having to do this. This year I know I am dealing with a heel issue. I know the time is upon me that I need to figure out at least what is going on, and how to address it. I set up an appointment to see a respected ortho and he helped me diagnose what the issue is. It may require surgery on both heels, but at least now I know and I can come up with ways to try to get past this.

I know that I need to stay on top of my training zones. I went to see Gina Pongetti and her crew this year and had a complete metabolic profile done. What I learned was very informative. I need to be training harder than I have been training. The years of training at my old zones have made me very efficient at those zones so in order to take another step forward I need to drastically change some slower intensities.

Structurally I need to address why my heels are in the shape they are in. Could I have avoided it, or should I address a root cause. I believe through the help of Dr. Turner I was able to identify a huge deficiency in glute activation. My hip flexors are actually currently stronger by a significant amount from my glutes and hamstrings which is completely backwards from how it should be. If I am not using my glutes then my calves are having to carry the burden of my running which is going to keep them very tight. Even if I had surgery I would have the problem come back unless I address this cause.

Nutritionally this year while I am not fat, I have a lot of trouble shaving the last 5-10 lbs. that I like to drop for actual race weight. I am hiring Bob Seebohar but actually now that Tanya is certified through him, she will be changing my nutritional profile based on the read outs of my metabolic tests. This will be another article all onto itself. Again though if I am honest I know I could clean up several aspects of what I eat to get the low hanging fruit cleaned up. I speak to friends about this though and the key is finding the life balance you want to achieve though. There is no right or wrong, it just requires honestly and awareness to say this is what I want, and this is what I can expect from what I am putting into it.    

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Arizona Race Report 2014

IMAZ 2014 Race Report

This was a tough race for me even before it started. I in no way mean to make any excuses, just telling you how it is. I had just done Hawaii, I did well there considering, but my body got pretty dehydrated and wasn’t quite right for a bit of time after. Combine that with coming home to finalize getting financing for my new house and then actually having the closing and the move 2 days prior to leaving for Arizona Logistically it was a super hard thing to pull off.

To be honest too, I was so mentally consumed with all of this going on, the motivation to keep training was at a year low. I was excited for next year, so I still loved the idea of training, just not in the present if that makes any sense. As the weather turned and the trainer became the weapon of choice I just hadn’t transformed into indoor riding mode and basically my attitude was terrible. LOL, poor Tanya had to deal with the brunt of this frustration, no doubt introducing her to new aspects of our relationship which she weathered like a pro.

I did know this – If I could just make it to race week, even though I did have the added stress of working the expo tent all week, I would be amongst friends and excited to race! This did not disappoint. Working the booth, standing all day wasn’t ideal, and new for me, but I enjoy seeing all the athletes there and it was a lot of fun.

Race day:

Pre swim was pretty normal. I had the usual bathroom nerves going on, but knowing the weather was supposed to be cool I elected to try to not over drink leading into the race and thought I had that covered. (More on this to come). Of course at the last min I felt I had to go the bathroom again so got in a line that seemed longer than the registration line… getting the job done I then headed off to the swim start. The line was so long to get IN to the water I couldn’t believe it. I had to be “That guy” and somewhat force myself to the front, of course getting all the looks like I was being a dick, but I wanted to say, “I swear I am going to swim 55 or better, I’m going to the place I really SHOULD be, I swear”. I have always thought swim caps should be colored based on swim times.


Once in the water I went to where my friends and I had discussed starting and like magic, we all found each other. The gun went off and Trevor and I decided to start to execute our plan to swim in close proximity. He and I seemed to be leading our area but I believe we missed the front group as they just chose a way different line. It was very hard to tell with the sun, etc. We all traded leads a bit, I found myself leading most of the way out then not for a bit, and then most of the way back. At about 500 meters to go I just fell off the pace slightly but told myself to stay calm and smooth and all would be fine. I got out of the water less than 30 sec behind Trevor and was quite glad to be done.

T1 –

Tried to run and put helmet on the same time and make quick work of the transition. Good thing too because it still took me a ton of time to catch up to Trevor and the front. The course is flat or uphill into the wind for about 17 miles then flip it and come hone 3 x. I had a plan to go out hard to try to separate myself from the field and maybe even deliver a mental blow to some of the stronger runners in the group. I knew some of the guys who I would be racing and on my best days they are simply still better runners. I had decided to play the cards I had in my hand and that was to bike solid. I think looking back I did start out a little hot as I averaged 296 watts for the first 50 min before the descent. In that time I moved to the front of the race, and to Trevor’s credit he was about 20 meters behind me still at the turn around. We FLEW coming down the hill and I could see some of the top guys were still right there. This told me people like Scott had an awesome swim, but were also riding strong and I needed to keep the pressure on.

That is when I had my first feeling like I really had to pee. So I went and it was pretty yellow while a lot of it so I thought I had hit my hydration quite well. Not diluted, but enough that I wasn’t dehydrated like Kona. What became strange was after the first loop I already had to pee again. So I did – A LOT. Wow. Ok, I must be more hydrated then I thought so I really tried to not drink too much till that stopped. My nutrition was pretty spot on. I let Trevor lead us up the second loop for over 30 min telling myself that I need to keep my effort in check and I wanted to see at someone else’s pace if we would still maintain the position on the other guys. The gap didn’t grow as much at all, but it definitely was still getting larger. So that was a good sign. The second climb with Trevor leading we ended up dropping to 254 watts for that climb, which was spot on the race watts I wanted to average.

On the way back down I went to the bathroom 2 more times and was getting HUNGRY so I made sure to stop and get special needs which meant putting a foot down, but it was worth it. When we flipped for the third and final loop I had to pee again, and after this one it took me a long time to re catch up to Trevor. I knew then I was getting tired. So I decided to be a touch conservative and rode at about 235 watts on the way up this time.

I had a pre-determined plan to not push hard the last 30 min back to town and speeds were high regardless. I put about a 200 watt limit on myself as that still kept us over 30 mph. Trevor got a flat with about 8 miles to go and now I was riding solo. I took it as a sign to relax even more and… pee… again... holy crap this was going to be one of these days…


I was first age grouper. I had to change clothes, thought I moved pretty quickly but surprise, surprise had to pee. I started to run about 7 min pace but in the first 2 miles had to stop two more times. This was getting ridiculous. At mile 4 I ducked into the bathroom and went again, this is when Trevor took the lead from me. I actually was feeling quite well despite being a human sprinkler. I was trying to run him down and catch up but a few times I would get close and have to stop for another bathroom break. UGH!!

I was telling myself a lot now that I simply couldn’t afford to give these guys this amount of time on a run where they are already better runners then I am. It was what it was though. I was trying to run a bit quicker then I should have but at this point I figured “F-it” and if I blew up, then so be it. I told myself lets just make it to mile 10-13 then we can reassess. I made it about 10 miles in then just got pretty darn tired. At that point my only goal was to break 3:30 which meant if I could just hold 8 min miles or better I should. I would speed up to sub 8, then try to back off, then have to back off, then got some nutrition and would speed up again. Hey, at least I stopped peeing! J

I have to be honest, I was making all sorts of deals with myself like run 2 solid, 1 easy, but they never actually pan out. I just kept trying to keep running. It frustrates me if I am honest I don’t run marathons off the bike as well as I am capable. Perhaps it’s over biking, but I don’t think I would drop 30 min if I biked 10 min slower. I would then be eliminating all the cushion I have over the better runners. I think it just needs to all come together and it also very hard to tell just 4 weeks after Kona. Besides that, I like the way I race. I like pushing it and while it took some time for me to figure out the 70.3 races, I know it will click for Ironman too. I have done so many sub 9:30 I only want to try to PR now at IM races if I am going to do them and to do so I need to take risks. Taking risks means exactly that, putting yourself in the best position and try to execute. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t.

At the end of the day I went 3:30 marathon, and 9:19 for 6th overall AG’r, but still 5th in my division which is insane. LOL. It’s all good though and I am looking forward to aging up without these dudes for at least a year. J It was nice to see Trevor who I coach kill another Ironman. It was also awesome to see Scott Johnson have a HUGE PR day a well going 10:33.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kona 2014 race report

My 2014 Kona race was a somewhat of a last min decision. I was pretty content to skip this one as I knew I was in for a lot of life changes this year, but was convinced to get into St. Croix and try to get a spot. I was able to get one there and then knew all year what was waiting for me as this would be my 8th Kona visit.
I was more excited to come this year than ever because my girlfriend at the time and now fiancĂ©e, Tanya, is a new triathlete and was excited to see the venue and race for the first time.  I am not going to lie, it also came with the added pressure of trying to not embarrass myself either, which was hard to balance because this summer life was so good, it was often hard to get out and motivate myself to do the training.

Lucky for me, I knew what was waiting for me when I got to the island, and also knew as always the competition is top notch and humbling, but it seemed we has also been blessed with very favorable conditions as of late and that luck was sure to run out at some point. It did.

We got to the swim start together. I decided to start amongst friends and try to at least not beat the crap out of each other on purpose. Trevor, Cesar, and I all started middle left with high hopes of being able to swim together and start the bike together. The plan worked actually quite well until our line we took naturally merged with the people who had started on the fast line and then the swim became quite chaotic. Half way back on the return trip I recognized Trevor and decided to hop on his feet for a bit. He seemed to be swimming quite well and it looked as if we were catching the group in front of us. Thanks for that Trev, I think I was on a path backwards until you snapped us out of it.
Swim was a 57, which I guess is about what I would expect, but knew it wouldn’t matter as there was so much racing left. Trevor had a great T1 and was out on the course in front of me. I got to my bike, and this is when the day started to… not go the best let’s say.

No sunglasses!!! Shit. So now I know Trevor is already rolling, I had hoped to be able to bike around him for the day as it would be good mental motivation to be amongst friends. So I could either – 1. GO back and look for them or 2. Screw it lets roll without em. I decided to roll. I told myself if this was the worst of what happens today, all good.
Got on the bike and literally 30 second in one of my bottles was ejected, about a min later another one… the details of WHY aren’t too important except they were in fact gone. I know what everyone is thinking, go get em. That’s a great choice in a vacuum, but what happens often is they fly off and skid into the crowd, or a ditch, etc. So now I had 1 gel in my pocket in reserve, and one bottle of nutrition. I told myself I just had to make it to special needs where I had three more waiting for me, and in 2.5 hours, I could work with what I had.

I caught Trevor pretty quick and saw on the first out and back that the leaders were actually pretty close! I put in a solid but controlled effort, and closed a lot of the gap as we got back tot eh bottom of Palani. I decided to soft pedal there, and Trevor re caught me. We were rolling another 5 min or so an when the first person passed me I decided to go with. Trevor didn’t want to ride that hard, and that was the last I would see of him for a long while. I rode with this guy out to Hawi. I didn’t really race on power although I as always aware of it, and looking at my files was within a few watts of what I wanted to ride to the bottom of the Hawi climb. I knew I was further up the road then I usually was at this point and when I would look behind would see nobody coming. With all these factors in mind I decided to ride solid but less aggressive up the climb then I had ever before.
At the Hawi turnaround I was very excited to see I was in 2nd overall position! (sidebar – you have to realize how cool this was for me. For YEARS I have watched in awe at the better athletes coming down the road at me and for the first time ever I was one of the guys up the road! For a guy who used to weigh 236 lbs, could not run a mile, and when I did Ironman for the first 6 years faced many dnfs’ and terrible results, I was in the middle of a dream!)
At special needs I got my bag without having to stop. I had frozen my bottles and put them in a freezer bag which was proving to be quite defiant! I couldn’t get the damn thing open. The guy I was riding with was GONE but I knew I needed the nutrition. I finally got ‘em out, and as soon as I got them in my cages, 2 of them bounced out…. AGAIN! Ugh…. I had one refill.
By this point the wind and heat were proving to be some of the worst ever and I think having friends and Tanya on the course was the only thing I was looking forward to seeing again so just tried to re-focus.
I rode down most of the way solo catching some of the pro women, they only had water on the descent and by te time I was all the way down was caught by my friend Dan Stubleski and another guy. It was definitely better mentally to ride with these guys heading back but whoever would roll into the aid station first would get the coke and I only was able to get two of those on the return trip.

The last 5 miles it started to really catch up to me. In the last turn I felt so dizzy I almost hit the curb. This was so frustrating cause my legs felt better than ever but I knew I needed to collect myself in T2 and let these guys go, or I was looking and a long marathon, or DNF.

T2 I literally just sat in the chair for about and drank a lot of water and coke trying to get some fluid and calories in, and then I was off.
I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to run to my potential straight away but wanted to try to run solid. I was locked in pretty consistently for the first 8 miles for about 7:20 pace which would have been a PR run for me, but I knew if I was starting there I would more than likely face slower miles.
Oddly enough at mile 8 I felt I needed to pee, so I jumped into a porta john and tried. What came out was scary. It was dark brown/red liquid and not a lot…. I was like OH F@#K.... I’m really dealing with something here, and I think I need more water. At that point I knew I had about 12 min on my friends and if I ran conservative they would catch me in the later miles and I was OK with that. I had no intention of doing real damage to myself so I started to walk aid stations and really drink, and pace smart.

After the energy lab Trevor caught me and what was cool was getting to run with Badmann for about 6 miles and really getting to know here better. To this day she remains a champion as a person and an athlete.
Trevor and I got to finish the race together, which was one of my cooler experiences, and given the things I had to deal with I was very happy with a 9:30. Sure I wanted to go faster, I had worked hard for it, but if I had not worked hard I wouldn’t have been able to do 9:30.