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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Recently there has been a lot of talk about age group drug use. We currently have a guy in our age group who has been banned from professional cycling at its highest level because of EPO and other banned substance use. Lucky for all the guys in my age group he has decided he would spend his time now racing us... Awesome...
I was told some people were curious as to how I would weigh in on what as “at stake” and what I think I about doping. Ironically Scott Iott and I just talked about this situation on our podcast.
I have respect for just about everyone who cares enough on this forum to participate on it so feel like I want to respond for them, not because I think people want to hear me babble.

First what is at stake for me? That’s easy. My integrity. My ability to look at anyone else on the start line who has made all kinds of sacrifices to try to earn a spot, or whatever. My word to anyone and everyone who has ever believed in me, or supported me and continues to do so.
I was a terrible age grouper back in the mid 90’s. I had to work really hard to accomplish whatever gains I have and wouldn’t trade the journey for anything. Any unfair shortcuts would have severely diminished my enjoyment of the sport or satisfaction gained. I have spent a lot of time, money and effort hiring the best coaches I can find, reading books, building relationships with some of the best people I had access to and continue to learn as an athlete and also learn what I can do to help other athletes. If I was holding a big secret that I cheated that would in affect be stealing from anyone I have ever charged to coach with the expectation I had real knowledge to help them with the current situation they are in.

My professional relationships with people like my main mentor Joe Friel, and every other coach I work with would be risked in every possible way. All for what? The ability to do Kona again? I don't think so. If I am not deserving of the spot, the guy who is should go - period.

Lastly, my health and wellbeing simply aren’t worth it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Almost through winter

It has been one of the worst winters I can remember in a long time. I have actually experienced -52 below (with wind chill). I knew it got bad when they said they were brining in the Polar bears at the zoo as the cold was worse then they usually experience.

With all that being said, I am ready for spring!!! I am ready for warmer temperatures, brighter skies, and race season!

I am still unsure if I will do Kona this year (assuming I have a chance and qualify). I have stated previously here, and on the Training Bible Coaching Podcast that I will not if my foot is guaranteed to be a problem still.

This off-season I tried to enlist all the help I could find regarding the matter. Dr. Kane of Kane Podiatry in Geneva Il. Has created what seems to be some great “orthotics”. I put it in quotes, because why they are orthotics, they are not traditional ones. He feels I have very stiff heels because of how my bones are, so not something I can stretch or strengthen to change. For this reason, traditional orthotics would not work. Instead we created a foot bed of sorts that helps to alleviate the pressure spots and bring some great relief. I still have to pair them with the right shoes I am finding but the results to this point are encouraging.

I have also enlisted the help of Garrett Krugg at Turner Pain and Wellness. He has a strength program that is so individualized to include daily videos practically of movements and trying to re create movement patters I am doing wrong. This seems to also be helping.

For all these reasons I have signed up for St. Croix. This will give me St. Croix and Eagleman to try to qualify. I think I will still do Wisconsin and focus on that and do Kona the best I can, but with a little less pressure. I have a goal of trying to get to 10 Kona finishes, so 3 more to go hopefully.

I continue to see a lot of success with the athletes I coach. I want to give that some of the attention it deserves so will try (I always say that, but life gets in the way and actual coachingJ) to do a separate blog entry on some of them.

Off to our sold out Tucson Camp next week (Feb 6th) and will be getting there early so I can enjoy some more warm weather while there.  After that we will be doing some private camps with athletes the end of Feb but am really looking forward to about 10 days in California before and after Oceanside. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back at it for 2014

I have been doing the sport for almost 20 years which I cannot believe. I have been to Kona 7 times, the 70.3 Worlds several times, and even stuck my toe in the ITU Olympic distance Worlds. Still after this many years though I still get excited to train and see what I can get out of myself for the next year.

For the past several years as I have continued to grow as a coach I started to notice I get even more excited to watch my athletes get up for their next goal. I love this time of year because everything for the upcoming year is still on the table. If you have signed up for an Ironman race, as most of us have to now a year in advance, you have that locked in but can still come up with so many other events. Part of the fun to me has always been in the wondering where the sport will take me the next season.

For the past 6 years I have had to plan around qualifiers. I am not making that my focus this year. I have been getting over some foot issues and until I resolve that I am reluctant to plan out a season to get to Kona. I have stated on our podcast that I will not go back there while my foot hurts and that I am sticking with. If I resolve it soon and qualify I guess I could consider it if I want to but honestly I think this year I am even more excited to do other stuff. I want to plan my season out knowing I can go anywhere that sounds fun, and take on challenges that may or may not lead to a Worlds appearance of any distance.

I plan on racing at IMWI and even if I were to go to Kona, Wisconsin would be my focus. I'm looking forward to focusing on an Ironman with the same intensity I have always done for Kona. Its been years since I have.
We are the official coaching organization for IMAZ and while it will be incredibly difficult to have a top end day there after doing several days of an expo, I think Scott and I will have a crack at it. We are thinking of putting a twist on things though by each teaming up with a second athlete and combing our times.

Take your time right now. Try to decide what it is you really want to do over the next three years. How do the choices you make right now affect that? Work backwards from your ultimate goal which could be several years off. Can you put in more total swim time right now if that’s your limiter? Might slow you down for spring 2014 but how will you fair over the rest of the season and next? Keep an open mind, get some objective feedback and think it through, but HAVE FUN!