Saturday, January 26, 2008

Halfway around the World with Simon

I have clients located throughout the USA, but the World as well. Today I am sitting in the Sydney airport waiting for a connecting flight to Melbourne, Aus.

Simon my athlete here and I get together for the last 2 years to train and get him ready for some of his races upcoming. It sis a pretty cool thing because not only were we able to track a significant gain in fitness last year for him, I get a healthy boost as well as it is summer here when it is sub zero back home.

This is Simon’s second full year doing triathlons and has been not only a quick study, but also a true joy to work with. As is often the case with my athletes I become pretty close friends with them. I think that helps me get to know all the little motivational traits to squeeze as much potential out of them as possible.

Last year Simon, against my recommendations did 3 Ironman events. His first was IM New Zealand. We decided to do this race as at the time it offered us the highest probability of qualify for Kona (Simon’s goal). He had never done an Ironman and had only been doing triathlons for about 6 months. But seeing as he was in his summer months, his fitness was coming along quickly, and we agreed that with most people not coming back to do NZ after the previous year’s weather, we would try it. He finished in just over 11 hours, but ran a sub 3:30 off the bike!

Arizona was next. The day before Simon and I were discussing his pre race plans and race strategy when all his power devices simply stopped working. We had to come up with a new plan at the last second. Simon handled like a pro and set a new PR finishing under 11 hours!

Simon was at Kona for his final race. He wanted to enjoy the day and realized this would be an experience different from all the others indeed. Simon handled the day like a pro and went just about 11 hours again.
So here I am, sitting at the Sydney airport ready to help him launch his 2008 season. This time though we have a group of athletes all going to IM AZ in April to have go at each other. We have about 16 people going so we decided to split up the teams equally and add up or times. Winning team wins bragging rights, and some other cool stuff. Simon however is not on my team for this, so maybe Ill want to tell him to take it easy with me for the next few weeks. (kidding)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I went to Florida Ironman with one of my athletes. I become very close to all the athletes I coach as we really spend quite a bit of time talking and working on goals.

Yuri, one of my athletes is one of the single best stories. Yuri came to me in May of 2006. He had acquired a Hawaii Lottery spot and was in need of a coach. This all sounds normal to this point, but here is what Yuri was about to tell me. Yuri weight over 310 pounds, did not own a bike, and had never ran more then 5 min in his LIFE!

I will not take a client I do nto feel I can help. If we do nto agree on expectations and goal settings, I believe it is best they do nto use me as at the end of the day they will not be satisfied with the outcome unless they hit their goal. I explained to Yuri my position on this, and told him I did not feel this is a very good idea. He and I decided to take a “one step at a time” approach and see what happens. YURI FINISHED HAWAII in 16:46! I couldn’t believe it. I explained to him this was the pinnacle of my coaching career. Then I teased him. I said, if you are going to be third to last, couldn’t you have just been last, then you would have gotten on TV. J

Fast forward to 2007. Yuri weights almost 100 pounds lighter and has become one of my most dedicated athletes. He went down to Florida with me. We roomed together, went to the race together, and had talked about strategy, etc.
As proud of myself, and happy as I was when I went 10:02, with an hour PR, Yuri went 12:30!! He took over 4 hours off his Ironman in 1 year! I am so proud of him, and all the work he has done. We came up with a pacing strategy using his power tap. We had a nutrition plan, which Infinit helped us create, and a run strategy. He nailed it! He really deserves the Kudos on this one.

What happened in Florida?!

I have to say this right off the bat, I am not sure how people talk about themselves on these forms so often. One of the reasons I write less frequently is that I feel pompous when writing about myself, and even more so when describing something I do right.

So, as a follow up to Florida I will explain what happened. I am VERY happy with my race. Here is how it went:

The swim- Very non eventful, the water was perfect, and you could wear a wetsuit which made the swim quick. I wanted to go as easy as I could in the swim as I knew might fight would be later in the day. I came out of the water in about 56 min that was right about where I thought I would be. I was comfortable, relaxed and smooth the entire swim.

The bike- I had to stop 3 times in the first mile because I thought my SRM was broke. I felt as if I was barely touching the pedals and I was well over 300 watts. My plan was o average about 230 so this was somewhat alarming. After checking calibration several times, I realized what was actually happening was I was tapered! I felt fantastic. There were very large groups out there. Packs were passing me quite frequently. I have my mind made up that this was simply not going to bother me. I would let each one pass me, and just let them live with themselves if they were cheating or not. A couple times I would be my 7 bike lengths off the back of a large group, and I have to tell you honestly there is still a major advantage to that. I never stayed with one very long as they usually would start surging, or I got off the bike a couple times to deal with special needs, or go to the bathroom. Towards the end a group passed me and one of my best friends was in it. He explained that it was impossible to get around them and he was just going to hang off the back (legally) and wait for the run. I decided with less then 20 miles to go to hang around Mark and see what happened. He had sub 9:15 experience and it was just nice to see a friend. We came in to T2 together, my split was 4:56 I think, and I felt as if I had paced myself perfectly! I felt almost fresh. Other then going to the bathroom A LOT, my nutrition and SRM had done their job. I was very excited to finally get a chance to run an Ironman marathon.

The run- I started the run at 6:00 into the race. My wife Lindsay and my mom were at various places on the course to cheer. It was great to see them. I told Lindsay that I was putting forth what felt like no effort, but was still running 6:30 pace. I knew that wasn’t going to last, so I tried to slow it down and run 7:30 which was my “best case scenario” for the day. He next mile was 6:45. Trouble hit in the form of my fuel belt rubbing my race number to shreds. I knew that if I lost my number I could be disqualified. So after several attempts to salvage the number I decided the fuel belt (with all my special nutrition) had to go, bad choice. At this point I was 4 miles in, still running sub 7 pace, feeling great and thought if I can carry a couple bottles I have more nutrition in Special Needs, I would be OK. I drank the 2 bottles quickly as I hated carrying them. My pace had lowed down to about 7:05 pace. I still felt good and had a choice to make. I could slow down now to 8 min miles, and most likely run a 3:30 is and go around 9:30 and that would be so great. OR, I could roll the dice, and shoot for a 9:15 effort. I figure I can probably run a sub 2:50 marathon fresh, and if I feel this good could maybe pull off a 3:15 on the day. I felt that I would have to get this far into an Ironman again before I could do this and feel this good, so might as well go for it, and see what happens. Well, needless to say my legs felt great but the lack of sodium from mile 4-13 really played a number on my stomach. At the half way I was 1:40 with 2 bathroom breaks, at special needs, feeling queasy I didn’t want to drink much so I slammed one bottle and left the rest. I started to feel great again, but it was short lived. I just wasn’t getting in enough sodium and calories. Now I was running like 9:30 pace. I was now hoping to break 9:45. J I threw up at mile 20 which felt great and my first instinct was to run hard in for the last 6 miles, and not drink or eat anything. I thought I feel good physically, let’s just run the last 6 fast as I don’t feel sick now, and get this over with. After a half mile I was out of gas, and needed to walk for the first time, just to get some food and drink in. that blew my time up. So I jogged it in for a 10:02, which is still almost an hour PR for me.

In conclusion, I was happy I went for it. I had fun out there for the first time, but realize I probably have the most fun with the half Ironman races. I learned a lot, it will only make me a better coach for the athletes I coach. In my next insert Ill add a story about one of my athletes.