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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bike Fits

I feel lucky to have come across some of the resources I have in the past couple of years.

Bike fit is such an important part of performance; you want to make sure you get that right. Even if performance isn’t your ultimate goal, comfort would be I would guess. With Systems like the GURU DFU, and great fitters out there, there is really no excuse to not have one done.

Last year I was fit by Mat Steinmetz of 51 Speed Shop. It was one of the best fits I have ever had. To that point Rich Ducar of the Bike Shop Glen Ellyn has always been my guy and still to this day is the guy I go to for final check off about things as he knows me longer than anyone else I deal with. Mat was the first guy to radically change my already successful position to a more aerodynamic, triathlon fit from a fit that can best be described as an old school “Slam” fit.
It took a while to get used to the fit, but I did and was able to go just as fast with less watts. I owe Mat for that.

I think the body always is changing and I usually like to get tweaked 1 time per year as I recommend all my athletes to do.  This year I met Nestor Rodriguez of Studeo DNA. I was so impressed with what he was saying I asked him if he would be willing to look at my fit, let me know his thoughts and also review the DFU GURU had just introduced. Nes is a huge RETUL guy and I wanted to get his thoughts on the two systems and how they differ and could work together.
Nes flew to Chicago and did just that. Mat was a rock star and was able to provide me with original and updated ZIN files which RETUL generates this was especially helpful as my actual TT bike is still in route home from St Croix on TriBike transport. With these fit numbers I was able to ZIN a loaner bike as well as input the data into the DFU to make changes to my actual fit again, without even having my bike there. To be honest, we tweaked some little things which may have some to do with my body changes over the year, flexibility, strength etc, as well as slightly different thoughts on achieving the best fit. When I say slight I am saying we tweaked various directions in millimeter increments, not significant, which only reassured me good fitters operate within a very tight range of each other and the rest comes down to your opinion. It was nice to have the DFU to go back and forth instantly while pedaling to decide which I liked.

Of course every fit is done on a trainer which feels different then the road so when I took it out; I wanted to make some final tweaks which I will go do today. In some respects it was good to play on a loaner bike so I had no idea what my actual bike was different with when I started, it will be fun to see what the physical changes are actually when it returns.

If you need a fit I HIGHLY RECOMMEND contacting these guys. Any of them are going to give you a great experience. If none of these guys are local to you, contact us directly at we can let you know who has tools such as a DFU in your area.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Preseason has begun.

It’s been a whirlwind for the last part of my winter build season. I cannot believe how much I have picked up. It has been so exciting to rub shoulders with such great sources such as Julie Dibens, Christian Vande Velde, Jeff Kitchen, Nes Rodriguez (of Studeo DNA) and others.
If you haven’t gotten a metabolic test in a while I strongly recommend it. An LT test is good, but a met test will help show fuel efficiency. Thanks to Jeff from Endurance Rehab we have decided I can do my endurance runs at almost 10-12 beats higher then I have even allowed myself to do. I'm still not in shape enough to do I all the time, but I feel liberated to reach a new level I was never allowing myself to do before because I was using more traditional calculations for HR zones.

Research is always changing and having inside information from people who are keeping up with the times can really help you get better, and keep getting better.
Today I got to race the Fearless double sprint race that Lars Finanger puts on. What a classy organization who clearly loves what they do. The race was super fun, but also really tough format. The change though was a welcome thing after having been locked into the same old distances and formats for a few years. I hope it was a good tune up for me to do Oceanside next weekend where the competition is always tough.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My opportunity to ride with Vande Velde

I have been doing triathlons now for over 15 years, I really can’t believe it. I have to say even though I have been doing them this long, this is the first time I have ever done such a cycling specific block, and it was only for 4 days.

Through my connections at The Bike Shop Glen Ellyn, they introduced me to Christian Vande Velde and a long story short, he invited me to train a few days with him in California. First I have to say I almost didn’t go, but am so glad I did. I was afraid I would just get in his way or he was offering me the gentlemen “yea you should come” offer hoping the entire time I didn’t. I decided though, screw it, major storm was coming, Chicago was freezing and he did seem genuine so why not. I am so glad I did.
First, Christian is one of the classiest, nice, respectful, gracious, and all around awesome pro athlete I have had the pleasure of being around. Not only was he an amazing host to me, he was nice to every single rider out there who tried to jump on our wheels, or came up to say hi. At one point we were doing a solid climb, as we passed a guy, he turned himself inside out to reconnect with us, and ask if he could snap a pic while we were riding! Christian instantly said, “hell yes” and without slowing put his arm around the guy so he could take his pic- Wow.

I was really excited to get out there as well to talk to him about some of the cycling workouts he had recommended I do. Again, I have a lot of experience and some of the workouts he advised me on were incredible. Definitely things I will be using this year and I believe are difference makers. It’s tough because the way he does them as a bike racer is different than how I need to do them as a triathlete, but awesome none the less. So I was excited to see what else I could learn.
When we do camps, we do a long ride or two, some hard, some aerobic, etc. Again, we are always interjecting runs and swims, so it’s different but I just completed 4 days of some of the most solid riding I have done. For the first time in a long time, my legs are “Buzzing” still and it’s an awesome feeling.
I definitely did the best I could to hold on to his wheel, it was the first time in a long time I can remember I did absolutely ZERO pulling for a week. At one point I said, “Hey if you want a break from the wind, I’m happy to work”, knowing full well I could do anything but give him a break. He just smiled, and said, “I'm cool.” The guy is strong like I have never seen. – Awesome.

On a few climbs I imagined myself being under the watchful eye of Phil and Paul describing how hard I was working to just maintain contact, and to not panic. For as long as I could I would hold on, until I couldn’t. I asked him if at the pace we were going would we be able to finish with ANYONE from the field on a MT stage in the Tour, he laughed and said, “Not even close.” So to all my friends who have sat around with me and watched stages and wondered if we could sit in… NO.
Back to Chicago where it looks to be a good week, mid 30’s most of the week. ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Getting back into the swing of the things this year and trying to dust off some old tricks along the way. It’s always amazing to me the stuff we swear makes us faster, but then stop doing.

For me one of the key ingredients to my success is easily run cadence and turnover. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to focus on cadence, but some runners do it more naturally than others. I am one of the “others” in this case.

The last couple weeks I have made sure to watch my foot pod numbers on my Garmin much closer. You can see in the screen shot below how the average pace per week is directly inversely related to my cadence. When cadence goes up, speed goes down, and vice versa.

I have all my athletes self-monitor run cadence. There isn’t an athlete I have worked with that hasn’t experienced quick gains by doing so yet it is one of the easiest things for me to start to ignore.

If you look at the 2 charts below you will see that one is a weekly look. It takes into account all the runs for the week as well as times I wore my foot pod. If you think about how hard it would be to drop 15 sec a mile on average in just three weeks based on pure fitness, it would take a lot of work. This was just my focusing on technique and skills.
 The other chart is showing my daily runs, which at times I forget to wear my foot pod but it shows you in more detail how important cadence is.