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

Dopers


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!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Season wrap up and motivation


My season this year was crazy. It all seems to have gone so fast. It was a lot of fun and a definite step in the right direction for me. With ups and downs from flat tires in St. Croix, being lead off course at TTT and having to get a roll down from a fellow competitor at Eagleman, I experienced hiccups for sure. I also had the most consistent runs in 70.3 races I have ever had which was a definite season goal. Improved tremendously at 70.3 Worlds, had some of my best swims and bikes at Kona, and IMFLA and I think had I not suffered a foot injury my better running would have shown up there too. All in all I would say it was a Solid A- year for me, one I can go into the offseason still excited to improve on and feel gratified with the fact work in training showed up.

I’m off to figure out the root of my foot pain which becomes unbearable at mile 10 of most Iornman races. I am confident I will figure it out just as I have many other things. I am going to pass most likely on Kona this year though. First I hate going there to compete knowing my foot will limit me. It’s like setting out to race and knowing you will get a flat before you start. That becomes pretty disheartening. If I figure it out by spring I could change my mind but I think I will enjoy focusing on other things for a year such as IMWI and potentially Wildflower, etc. Jury is still out

I think as an athlete this year I matured greatly. I was ready to race all my races, but was not overly anxious. I respected my competition but didn’t fear them. I knew where I stood, I knew their strengths and weaknesses, my own, and with different variations in the races how things could play out.

It’s getting really fun to race with the guys in my AG. We all respect each other, get along and while we would love to kill each other out there, we all get along quite well off the course. That’s pretty cool to me to know that these guys al have a genuine interest in seeing you do well, as well as giving you the best fight they can to beat you. It definitely goes far in my enjoyment of the sport.

My daughter is starting to swim more competitively now and I take great pleasure in watching, supporting and answering the easy layup questions such as watch for the light off the blocks, not wait for the sound to get a faster start. I also like letting the great coaches she has be the coach. It isn’t my place to tell her how to change things or what to do. I do though help director her on her focus, work ethics and how to set goals to chip away at short and long term goals.

It makes me remember when I used to swim with my friends and I was way more concerned with who brought what snacks then training. However every time I got on the blocks I felt in my soul that I wanted to be a competitor. When I would get beat bad it was a wakeup call and would shatter my own internal barometer of work ethics which was quite low at that point.

I see this in both my daughter and stepson. They want to be good, but aren’t too interested yet in the WORK TO BE GOOD. It’s much easier to watch pros, or other great players do it and identify with them then to actually do what nobody sees them do – the really hard focused training.

Its Ok, Im not coming down on either of them. I know from experience something needs to click inside all of us that makes us feel “I want that, and am willing to do the really hard stuff to get it” Nobody can force that on anyone else. In fact as a coach I try to motivate, support and inspire however I hate PURSADING, or CONVINCING someone it’s time to work. No doubt, everyone goes through low times. That is completely normal. But the desire to get up early or go to your basement, or run in the cold, or clean up your diet needs to be an internal choice. That can’t be imposed if you want maximum effect.

Monday, October 14, 2013

KONA 2013 Recap

I was looking forward to this one because it was not only the first time I was going to race with my friend Trevor but also was excited to see my dad do the race as a legacy member. I had trained very hard as well as smart trying to learn as I do from each previous year on how to prepare as well as execute.
I had one issue going into the race that I couldn’t come to grips with – right foot pain. I had gone to the podiatrist last winter and felt I really had the situation licked with some great orthotics he had made me. Everything went well until Oceanside where I got a bad blister and I didn’t use them since.
I tried probably 1000.00 worth of shoes in the last month trying to find a neutral racing shoe (most seem to be posted for over pronation when cushion is added) and I finally went with some that had worked in the past. They hurt me this time though and it definitely cost me some time.
The swim went well. Best swim I had ever had here. I started in the middle left with Trevor. He said he would take us out controlled but I was flat out in his draft getting dropped so I immediately let him go. I saw a pack about 10 -15 meters up ahead and buried myself to catch up.  I kept telling myself for the few min that once I caught I could rest. I seemed to not be able to finish the catch until I finally did. WOW! In the past I get dropped in the last ¼ of the swim here. Not really sure why but I paid close attention this time and had to swim pretty hard a few times to stay with them. I did though and was able to swim 55 which is my best swim probably ever for an IM swim. While I have gone fast this was the first non-wetsuit swim that fast.

I thought Trevor was up the road but I guess I had passed him in the water. I chased for a few miles to the first turnaround as we wanted to try to ride around each other to help mentally break up the day. I saw however that he was behind me so held up a little bit. He wanted to use me as a pace guide as he knew I had been here many times and wanted to see how I paced the bike.
We rode to 40 miles being pretty conservative but still averaging over 24mph. On the climb to Hawi I pushed a bit and rode up the field pretty well.  Trevor thought the pace was getting to hot and wanted to stay a bit conservative so he held back. I got about 4 min up the road on him but being conservative and coasting through some “natural breaks” coming down he eventually re caught me. I didn’t see him the rest of the day as he said I started to leave him again, plus he was getting swallowed up by a pack and needed to let them through. It was hard to stay out in front of all the packs out there, again, it’s too bad people chose to ride that way but I have learned long ago I can’t control that. The last 20 miles was pretty darn windy but it was set up to be a good bike split regardless so I was cool with that. I rode about 4:46 combined with the 55 swim I was sitting in a good spot.
I felt fine starting the run, never OUTSTANDING, but fine. I was running about 7:10 pace for the first 10 miles but was still getting passed by a lot of guys. It was crazy how fast some of these athletes can run now. Very impressive. At about 9 miles my foot was killing me. It was so painful and I knew I had some heavier shoes in special needs, but I also knew I had another 10 miles to get there. I tried to ignore the foot pain, but it seemed to only call to my attention the fact that my legs were getting tired too.  I went through the halfway in 1:38 so I thought I could still PR but I knew my foot was going to be even more of an issue. I got it changed, Trevor ran by me about mile 16 or so I said just go, my foot was in a bad way and he had an awesome race 9:14 on first Kona. I got some different shoes on and was able to still run 3:30 on a day everyone seemed to run slower (except the girls ironically). I finished in 9:23 and am pretty proud of the fact I was under 9:30 on a day I had to struggle a bit on the run. Super pumped Trevor who I had coached got a 9:14, and I am so impressed with my Dad, Kelly Hansen, and Ashley.

At the end of the day I did everything I could have done. Some days are going to fall your way, some wont, and most days will be some combination. Its part of the reason I love doing this. There are no guarantees.

Scott had another flat tire so his day was done (although he finished impressively 10:01) Now he and I will go have a crack at IMFLA. Or maybe not. LOL

Friday, June 14, 2013

WTF??? Early season mishaps and Qualification


Early Season recap… ugh...
My father has done 17 Ironman races and therefore has been invited to race Kona this year. I was considering taking a break from Kona and try some different things. When he was accepted to Kona I really wanted to race there with him however as he is the guy who got me into this crazy sport way back in the early 90’s.

I went and raced at California which went well but there were no Kona spots this year there. So that eliminated my normal qualification procedure. I was able to get my Vegas spot there and while I was beaten by two guys who were just better than me that day, I dealt with bad blisters on my run for over 10 miles which definitely hurt my performance. It was great fun though and I hope to go back next year.

Onto St. Croix which was my first of three opportunities this season to qualify. I HATE the feeling of chasing spots and usually do not see great things come from that situation but as this was my first official attempt I didn’t feel I was in chase mode yet, just I have to get this done mode. St. Croix is a daunting task and while I didn’t need the Kona spot there last year, I was able to race fast enough to pass one on so I had some confidence going in. I had to deal with the likes of Pedro and Sami but usually there are three spots so was feeling good about my chances.

I had a great swim, was feeling awesome on the bike, and then heard that awful sound of air rushing out of my tire at mile 8… I was out. I tried to fix it but it just didn’t happen. Somehow I had taken a front clincher from our garage and a rear tubular. I didn’t even think to check as we never have had clincher race wheels but the new set Trek had sent were in fact clinchers. So even if I had a spare it wouldn’t have helped.
Enter Chase mode…

I frantically called all my contacts to try to get in Honu. My next chance was Eagleman but with Sami also flatting at St. Croix I knew he would be there, and I also knew Mike Gadzinski would be a formidable competitor too and wanted as many 70.3 chances as possible trying to avoid doing Lake Placid if at all possible. No luck getting into Honu so I was off to race Eagleman where even on a good day, you can be beaten by guys who are really fast.
Eagleman was an interesting trip because it was the first time I had brought my daughter with me to a race. She is 9 years old and wanted to do a trip with me. I was excited but also knew it would add another level of stress to the weekend of trying to qualify. I did what anyone would do and recruited my mom for help.

We met in Washington DC so we could tour the city a bit before the race. Thanks to the help of Joe Lotus that was amazing. We tried to take in a lot of sites but I was also stressed about saving my legs, but then decided the experience with my mom and daughter was worth the exchange.
We left for the race site Friday afternoon and in another day of constant rain sat in the car for almost 6 hours to drive 70 miles!!!! It was the worst traffic jam I have ever experienced. I remained calm though and just went with the flow.

Sat I finally unpacked the bike and took it out for a test ride warm up brick. I was caught in a down pour and within the ride my bike complete stopped shifting!!! I have been asked to test the new Campy EPS electronic and I knew this was bad as not too many people have spare parts for it or even know how to work on it yet. I spent the better part of 5 hours on the phone with people trying to decipher what the issue was. It literally came down to my holding all the wires in my hand and a tech from Campy saying “cut that wire, but make sure you do not cut the other one or you are screwed”… It was like a movie trying to disarm a bomb except all the wires were the same color.
I cut the right one and restored shifting to the rear derailleur but only from the brake lever. So I did the race with basically two gears because while the bike did shift for me when asked I was never sure if it would shift again.

I felt good on the bike, but not great. No doubt the travel, stress and tourism had some effect but I just was happy to be racing again. I backed off the last few miles tied to take care of any bathroom issues on the bike so I could hit t2 quick
T2 was quick except for we were all COVERED in mud. After 5 days of rain the transition area was a swamp. I decided to take an extra in to wipe off all the mud and put on socks. I think it was a smart move but I did spend an extra 2 min in transition which cost me at least one spot.

My run felt like the bike, strong the entire time, but not snappy. I was very happy with it though because Scott and I had just done a podcast talking about pain tolerance and how we all have a sport where that may need to be reset. I kept telling myself I am capable of more than I think I am, and keep pushing. Even through cramps, and twitchy legs I managed to put together a very solid run.
I rounded the last corner of the race feeling very “satisfied”. I told myself no matter how this shakes out, I'm proud of myself for overcoming all the BS and pushing through issues that could have derailed me.

I ended up 14th overall, 5th amateur and 3rd in my age group... how about that for a competitive age group!? There were of course only 2 spots…. My luck had finally changed when Mike said he wasn’t going and I would be in! Thank you Mike for that again!
After a good meal and a drive back to DC we saw the White House only to realize my mom had forgotten her wallet back at the race and I had another 3 hours of driving ahead of me that night. The hits just kept coming that weekend. J