Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 ITU World Long Course Championships, OKC, USA

I've got plenty of long course race experience with something like 28 Ironman races under my belt all over the world. Just not a lot of experience racing 3/4 of an Ironman only 5-6 weeks after a full Ironman. One at altitude (which takes a lot out of you from the altitude), then the other 3/4 of a full distance, in what amounted to a wind tunnel with heat all day long.

Let me start by some admission of my own fails. First, I ignored every cardinal rule I ever set for myself in a race, so results are quite deserving of where I landed up. This time around I will not point to the fact I've had one race and pretty much been fighting off multiple injuries this last season. This has more to do with jumping in a race too soon and spacing everything you should NOT do before a race. I will be clear and exact here, to not mislead the post.

It started last year when I chose ITU Long Course World's in OKC, due to being the 2015 45-49 AG National Champ. You must defend/show up to World's if it is on home soil in the USA. Honor the title! Though several young bucks were moving to the AG (Dave Slavinski & Tom Woods), There was little chance to really defend anything, but hell, let's roll the dice, anything can happen right?
I raced Ironman Boulder in early August, with recovery right after that. Not sure I ran more than 8 miles since then, or biked over 45 miles at any single time since. My swimming was quite decent as that seemed to not bother any of the injuries I've had recently. When I made hotel reservations for this race, for some reason, had it slotted for Sunday, 9/25/2016. I was under the impression it was not 9/24 despite all the communications I may have received and scanned over. I typed the leave/return and race dates from/to Boulder incorrectly, as well as took off more days from work than I needed.

It wasn't until a final email (sent on Friday morning) of things to do from USAT, for last minute details, that said "Bike Check In until 7 PM on Friday." Why on earth so we take bikes two days prior to the race site? Dumb I thought (Note: this was Friday AM as mentioned, after waking up.) As I read the email, turns out the race was SATURDAY (tomorrow!), not Sunday like I've been thinking since last year! I don't know what, where, or when I missed exactly, or how, but that started the downhill roll with added stress of completing everything in one day. Packet pick up, bike drop off, pack race bags, plan the early morning commute and wake up times, when to eat, what to eat, everything was turned completely upside down in a flurry and rush. Stress for sure!

Another "rule" I broke was eating junk. I ate a not so good burger from a place called "Tucker's" which looked like a 5-Guys inside, but the burgers were burned tasting and not a place I'd remember to return to. I also had salad that day, which fiber was not needed for those of you who know what the body does race morning. I did steer clear of milk/dairy Friday. Although I did have milk and pizza at dinner on Thursday evening with Tom Woods at Hideaway Pizza in Edmond, OK (ITU Silver medalist in this race). So yeah, I screwed that up royally, something I rarely do.

Another rule, heading into race day dehydrated. Peeing a bit on the gold side race morning (okay, a lot) must've been all the running around getting things done Friday. I went for a bike ride with Tom Woods and some of his buddies. Little did I expect the ride was to be more than half an I did not bring a water bottle as I had a water bottle full of ice water before we left. That short ride turned in to a hot, getting lost type ride all over the Hefner Lake neighborhoods. It was close to 75 minutes long or more-- double what I expected. Never could catch up liquids after that. Drink too much water, you can't sleep because you're getting up every hour and then feel sloshy in the gut at night. Tom did share one of his water bottles during the ride with me but I went through that rather quickly.

Another rule broken...(how many can there be?) Not planning out my nutrition. I know to the calorie what I needed for Ironman Boulder. For LD World's I didn't even measure consistently what I put in the bottles. One was about 210 calories, the other was 300 calories, identical bottles. I had a Gatorade gummy block packet and three of the FREE gels I got from USAT in our packets. Not even sure what brand it was, so I figured, it's all calories right? (*NEVER* try something NEW race day.) The rest of the bike was a mostly water and a couple swigs of Gatorade. Clearly I had way too few calories. I could honestly count 1,000 calories for the entire bike of 120 km. Gels, Infinit mix, the rest was just water poured over my head, and some in my mouth whenever I got cottonmouth. I was having trouble keeping anything down really, and even threw up on the bike. As for salt, I had one salt tab on the bike, which I had only last minute put into my Salt Stick, before the swim. If only because Tom asked if I needed any Salt Tabs. My first thought was, "Oh shit, I forgot that too!" Then ran off as they were closing transition to fill the Salt Stick up.

The went okay, crazy super windy and waves. The amplitude of waves were that of Kona, but the chop the waves was beyond that and as such, the current was worse, requiring you to fight just to stay on course in a legal sense. At times, we swam into the outgoing swimmers as we returned. Luckily, it was in 2 feet of water where we all walked for a hundred or so yards. I did get a cut on the bottom of one toe from the sharp rocks, but it otherwise did not affect my race. Transition went smooth, getting in and out in a decent time but not super fast--but was one of the faster guys for sure. Dan Chapman (my AG) left shortly before I did. Upon exiting transition I heard them announce Tom Woods and knew it wouldn't be long before I saw him passing by. It was quite a surprise not seeing multiple time World Champion Dave Slavinski for a very long time later into the bike. I really thought he would have been ahead of both Tom and I at that point.

The bike was brutal. Not many calories and not much hydration, way too little of everything. Although I felt quite fine until mile 50 when I just lost power to the quads. First thought...I'm racing too soon after Ironman Boulder, with too little training behind me. Nope, that wasn't it. Next thought...not fueling during the bike enough...yep, that was really the source I think, combined with my nemesis the HEAT for the slow down on the bike. I was cooking, it was not comfortable out there and there was a vast difference in my sweat rate vs liquid intake the entire bike.

T2...not too bad, not the best, but had to change into some dry socks. It went okay, but not what I called one of my better transitions.

Run...getting out of transition it was quite hard to get the legs moving. They were dead from the wind and exhaustion spent on the bike, or part of the lack of recovery from Ironman, or lack of training since Ironman, or the injuries--but likely it was a full combination of all of the above elements.
The tempo wasn't there. The cadence wasn't there. Immediately I felt the heat, though it was windy in your face starting out, the mile 1 aid station couldn't come soon enough. Vision blurred about 5 km into the run, arms were flopping around, everything went to hell in a hand basket and there isn't much you can do when that happens, it just happens no matter what technical advice you try to self talk yourself in to. "Arms swing forward, relax the neck and shoulders. Fast cadence!" None of it worked. I was fighting just to finish, after being on the podium position or near it at the start of the bike. Some title defense right? Do EVERYTHING wrong you possibly can and sabotage your day--complete opposite of what you're used to doing. Why? I don't know for sure, it happened.

After lap #1, the Team Manager, Tim Yount tried to pull me from the race yelling at me, "Come here, it's not worth the damage to your body! It's okay to drop!" I heard him, but he said I was weaving around and eyes were rolling around (my sun glasses were down on the tip of my nose or my head was bobbling). Anyhow, I ran into a fence post while running, not realizing I flopped all over and ran crooked. My thought was, "You're on USA soil, the USA champ, even if you have to walk this race, you have to give the others a chance to knock you off the top spot, it's unfair and would dishonor the title to drop."   So I didn't. The hardest part was trying to get my senses back. I started Coca Cola, Red Bull, all the water and ice and sponges I could get at each aid station. I gave up time standing and going through a dozen glasses of ice and water each mile to keep my core temp down. As long as I could get enough to go just one more mile. After lap two, I was going to drop when I got done with it. One more lap to go. I didn't want to continue, didn't want to fight, just wanted it to end. I had absolutely nothing left--put a fork in me, I'm well done! Quit and that memory is forever. Keep going and finish--you've won over yourself and all the inside demons forever.

Any more screw ups? Sure. Oh let me count the ways...After much walking between and aid station stopping, Dan Chapman (a local I've had the pleasure of meeting along with his wife), passed me by and was kind enough to encourage me to continue (I was going to, just in walk mode). Upon getting to the finish line, there was a right sidewalk (lap route to turn around), the finish (straight ahead) and the left sidewalk (the run exit to start out of T2). Nobody was posted there so I was in full tilt with whatever I had left in me towards the finish line, cut left (wrong direction!) before Tim Yount yelled I took the wrong direction and to come back. I turned around only to see the Aussie (McCann) who I saw drafting multiple times on the bike with a Russian and by the intersection and took my 6th place AG finish place, dropping me to 7th. So there you have it, I was 6th until the last 50 or 75 yards of the race--but lost it going off course, making me now a 7th place 45-49 AG finisher. That sucks. I was delirious so was confused despite there being a sign right there pointing to the finish. But another competitor did the same thing so I don't feel as bad. A trip to the medical tent for lots of ice and cold towels, a half hour later, and I was able to leave. After the finish, Dan Chapman said his wife walked me to the Med Tent. I didn't even know it was her I was so out of it. I saw a female and some things spinning around--like a kaleidoscope. That's all I remember until I cooled down. The only thing really I was aware of was multiple doctors around me talking about temperature and how an oral thermometer isn't they may have to take a rectal temperature. Luckily, they didn't see the cut in the back of my suit (repaired from 2013 Du World's accident when a Brit ran into me at the bike mount line with his SRAM R2C shifter levers). Otherwise, that would have been the ideal place to put it!

In short, I screwed up about everything you could possibly screw up. Right down to dropping a shampoo bottle on my foot in the shower race morning, leaving a bruise before I left the hotel for the race. Yeah, it was as if bad luck was on my side the entire trip.

What's next? Go see a doctor and get some imaging on all these injuries, get into a physical rehab plan, build strength, and get healthy. Only two races under the belt all season. From Long Course Triathlon and Duathlon AG National champ last year, to UNRANKED in both sports. Wow, what a turn of events.

I'm happy to have gotten to know Tom Woods better this trip, he was like a travel buddy we spent so much time hanging out. As for my athletes I coach, I will only say, take this as a positive message. Your coach on this day, leads by example. What I mean by that is, I lead by example of what NOT to do before, or during a race. That was not the usual ME out there, so it is good to get grounded by having this poor of an experience, which in turn, is a good thing. Because it reinforces what I always have said. Plan, double, triple, quadruple check plans. Don't be lazy about the details. A few missed details can be disastrous for race day. All that work goes in the garbage without plans and precise execution.

The happiest thing I did this trip, was not giving up. Not quitting or letting someone pull me, no matter the cost. I beat those demons inside, fought them back. I'll be back, next time--healthier, more fit, ready to rumble again. After all, it was inspiring despite my slow time and placing, to defeat my toughest competitor...ME.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Season & Ironman Boulder 2016


2016 has been a long list of personal challenges for myself and my family. It actually started last fall with the passing of my brother in law, with a quick discovery and even quicker loss to cancer. Then there are the ups and downs of the oil industry which got the best of my wife with a lay off after that (thank goodness she's back on the horse again though). In sport, the recurring soleus injury from 2015 Duathlon Nationals (the ONLY race I lost in my age group), where I tore it part way through the first run--continued to haunt me all of 2016.

I did one local duathlon, preparing with about six rides on the trainer and some on again/off again runs and no speed work. It turned out okay and had I raced in the Elite wave, I'd have actually made money from prize purse offered. There was Bolder Boulder, an even bigger mess with one of my worst times in that race, but still managed a first place by two minutes over the second place guy. Pretty disappointing time for me, but rolled with it. Boulder Peak was cancelled, so there was what was to be my first race of the year, didn't happen. All this time the 2015 injury cropped up each 3-4 weeks even while doing about 12 miles a week. Another thing I had not done this year was lift weights, due to the injury, so felt weak all season. Running never really gained traction (pun intended).

I literally ran in pain all season long and finally decided after a long search, to go with a less light weight shoe for Ironman Boulder, in exchange for cushion. HOKA Clifton 3. After some work getting elastic laces adjusted, these worked fantastic until the squish from being wet cropped up.
Leading into the race meant pretty much a couple of what I deem "medium length" runs and one long 20 mile run in the HOKA shoes. In order to get over the soleus issue, after about 11 months, I decided I had to stop running all together. So on my work lunch break, I would just use the elliptical trainer rather than walking on the treadmill. After 2 months, the soleus issue was clear! 

But...not so fast, a new hip issue (opposite side from the soleus tear) from the elliptical (because the pedals were too wide compared to my narrow hips), cropped up and stayed with me right until this writing post Ironman. However, I could run again only with a nagging strain feeling from the overused, odd position the elliptical placed me in. Eventually the elliptical thing just had to stop. At least it hurt mostly only during cycling. What a mess! The hard part was keeping confidence up that finishing an Ironman on a total of 7-8 hours a week, dealing with injuries that obviously would not be gone by race day. There were really no 4,000 long swims (lucky to have gotten in a 2,000 yard swim at all!) Running required at least two days to feel ready to run again, while cycling--just took more time than I had this summer. The goals for Ironman Boulder were simple:

1) Finish and not throw up a lot like 2014, or walk.
2) Pace all day long, much easier than normal, while keeping cool and fueling best I could.

Now the race details...
Flipped 5x on my back to keep putting my cap back kept sliding off the top of my head during the swim. Breathed 2x on the right, 2 on the left--then SIGHT THE BUOY. Nice and easy, barely felt like I was swimming, the effort was likely way too minimal and felt like a warm up. A sub 1 hour swim should I choose, definitely is possible even off the fitness I have now.

Blazed through super fast until I exited the change tent...pee break #1.

BIKE: Held back more than I wanted to, but patience in Ironman is KEY. Pacing and nutrition should be the main things for age groupers to focus on. From 2014, I knew too many tend to over-cook the bike and die out on the run. The plan was to nail 21-22 mph even if going faster was possible. Never felt the 112 miles have such little impact as I did in this race. Feeling that fresh was sort of scary, usually it hurts at that point. At the special needs aid station, I had to get off the bike and pee again (a good sign), so a guy held my bike while I did the duty.

T2: Blazed through again, only to have to stop just as I exited the change tent, to take what I'll just refer to as a lengthy porta-john break. Details left out for those less inquiring minds-- never eat a 3/4 large pizza the night before an Ironman race. It'll come back to haunt you--guaranteed!

RUN: Literally had figured I'd blow up due to the lack of running and injuries. The first 13-15 miles were focused on fueling, super short steps, and just poke along sloth-like. This was the greatest question mark of the race for me...can you do any Ironman on 7-8 hours a week? You should be training more than 15-20 miles a week for Ironman (total). The long runs were really so few and far between, I couldn't tell you if I actually did ONE per month or not. It may have been longer, and would require looking into my online training log...but knowing my weekly totals...yeah, they were 15-20 unless it was a long run week.  One far off goal I had to was run slowly towards the front, to see if even on a 7-8 hour training week, with injury, how close I could come to a Kona Qualification slot. Not that I ever planned on taking the slot (I have ITU World Long Course Triathlon Championships in September so Kona was out due to that).

One guy from Colorado who is always in the mix, Kevin Dessart, was someone who is typically a faster swimmer/bike than I am, who also holds the % of wins in head to head competition over me, by quite a bit. How close could I get? The cards were stacked against me in more than one way for this race, but whatever, give a go right? He would start a wave ahead of me so that was a 2 minute head start. If I saw him on the run, I'd gauge the effort. It was surprising to see him shortly after the first turn around on the run. I would continue to slowly--really slowly, close that gap all day long. Unfortunately, I lost a solid 5 minutes with 4x porta john breaks throughout the run (damn pizza!) I would just see the back of him, nearly catching him 4 times prior to the actual "catch" but lost a good 75 seconds per stop each time. Finally, around mile 23 we were even (although I knew I was actually 2 minutes up due to the chip time). He floored it and we were battling back and forth in an epic Mark Allen/Dave Scott Iron War of our own. As long as I could keep him about a city block in my sight, it would be a rare win over him. In the end, it was a blast, just so much fun! As we went around the final bike path cones a few blocks before the finish, Kevin took off like a Usain Bolt and put about 20-25 seconds on me (the same thing I had done to his friend Neal years ago at IM CDA in the last half mile). I had already used up all my energy just to make up the 2 min. swim deficit, plus the multiple overly long bathroom breaks. That was a good 7 minutes total I had to dig for, that last sprint effort was more than was in the tank at that point. Kevin Dessart, it was a pleasure being pushed to the limit by such an athlete of your stature, thanks for the monumental memory!

The race was over and at the awards, I had finished 3rd in the 45-49 and 12th overall (no pro field), all while spending the season injured, racing injured and training the distance of a sprint of Olympic distance triathlete. I'm calling it a massive success as I met my original goals of not getting sick during the race, finishing the race and qualifying my 19th time for Ironman Hawaii. As I said, I did not take the slot due to ITU Worlds. Never had I finished an Ironman and felt so fresh the following day. My recovery is going much better than anticipated, although that is just because I'm actually motivated to continue training and WANT to work out. That is a sign that I'm not burnt out from my non-existent season. In fact, I won't have enough triathlons to be ranked at all in 2016, as the 2015 Long Distance US Champion for Triathlon M45-49. I won't have any duathlons to be ranked in 2016, as the 2015 Long Distance US Champion for Duathlon M45-49. Wow, from high ranked to non-existent.

The take away here? It doesn't matter where your place is until the finish line. This was clearly the EASIEST all day long effort of any Ironman completed. This was clearly the LEAST amount of training ever done for an Ironman completed. This was clearly the HIGHEST overall placing of any Ironman completed. This is clearly the QUICKEST RECOVERY from any Ironman completed. Maybe there is a message here--just stop training all together and do the races?  I'll have to think that one through...

(*Special thanks to Jen Schaffner for the lead photo from Twitter at the top of this post.)

Next for Team USA at the World Championships!

Monday, November 23, 2015

2015: It's a wrap!

End of season. Abbreviated but successful and no WTC events for the first time in a while. Previous posts show an injury received in St. Paul in June, followed by having to not start Boulder 70.3. Age group wise, it was more than I expected, having not lost the Age Group M45-49 in any race all season long except where the injury occurred, for multisport racing. In total, 2015 garnered THREE National Championship titles in three DIFFERENT sports.

National Titles:
1st USTAF Men's Master's Team (BRC/Team Adidas)
1st USAT Long Course Triathlon M45-49
1st USAT Long Course Duathlon M45-49

Additional 2015 races:
1st Bolder Boulder 10km AG win
1st Boulder Sunset Triathlon AG win
1st Boulder Peak Triathlon AG win (and King of the Mtns. jersey-Master Men)
3rd USAT Standard Duathlon M45-49

Not a lot of racing, but a darn near perfect record despite sitting out the core of the summer race season. There may be some more racing this year, but with only weeks away until 2016 and a whole new scary world out there with some major life changes (to be revealed at a future date), the upcoming season includes some super duper long races such as Ironman Boulder, ITU World Long Course Triathlon Championships going as the US Champ to defend our soil & whatever else I can drum up. The random running race, or duathlon, but no Kona next year (nope, not taking a slot if I get it at Boulder), no Du Nationals long or short. It'll be home-bound more regional or local races. UNLESS something major changes, that is the plan. Do plans ever go exactly according to how they are laid out? Rarely!

Below is a picture from US Long Course Duathlon Championships. On the left, Tom Woods, then 2008 US Olympic & pro triathlete Matty "Boom Boom" Reed, KK (that's me!) and Dan Chapman ('15 Du Standard distance champ M45-49). I've gotten the opportunity to know Tom & Dan a bit better this season. Actually, I didn't really know them at all! But I've raced Tom a few times I guess looking back at results, but don't focus too much on the others, just going my own rate & seeing who is left standing at the end of the day. Good people, good to see some familiar faces at races, and chat online with a few of them. Fast boys, I'm going to have to continue to find a way to stave off Father Time as long as I can and reverse the aging process with consistency and better focus for 2016 and beyond. Gotta love this racing stuff--just a thrill, win lose, whatever. It's all good.

L to R
Tom Woods IV, Matt Reed, KK, Dan Chapman

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Crisis Management

Long story short on US Standard Distance Nationals. I did finish but not without serious injury, did not defend my #1 ranking or national champion title in the M45-49. I also did not compete in yesterday's Ironman Boulder 70.3 to defend my title there either.

If you want the long winded version here it is...Running really was coming around quickly leading up to Nats, must have been the fact that all my running was pretty much a tempo run every time I stepped out just for time constrained reasons, no "junk" mileage allowed. Combining distance and some intensity into one run is all this busy life could afford in 2015, which was spent primarily on completely and intentionally turning my life upside down in many ways. Time to mix things up, enough of the old routine (while there is comfort in routine)...has become exceedingly and spiritually unrewarding. I had a blog post about BIG CHANGES about two blog posts back. While I'm not completely ready to release what those changes are (no, not the Caitlyn Jenner kind of changes! !) has more to do with future, freedom of the mind and ability to do things I've always wanted to do rather than what LIFE has decided for me along the way. I'm taking control of aspects of life coming up really soon so I'll be way happier in the long run. I think the take away here is finding that spiritualistic "key" that makes Kevin the happy go-lucky guy that has been dragged down by routine over the years past.

At Du Nats, once again my race room mate Andy Ames aka "The Legend" & I predicted a pretty decent race. My running was on from the start. On lap one, at the turn around a younger chap named Dave Slavinski (Master's Duathlete of the Year & multi-world/national champion in du & tri), asked where the rest of the pack was. We were at least 100 yards ahead at this point with the gap growing between the two of us & the pack. First mile he said was 5:23. Second mile was 5:16. Very comfortable and I was thinking at the time we should pick it up because it really felt too easy. I decided to take the lead from Dave so I did...pressed on the uphills a little bit more and soon found myself on the cobblestones of Raspberry Island. Just coming onto the second section of the cobbles my right foot toes landed on the cobblestone while most of the foot/heel dropped very quickly. I let out a loud "OUCH" and that was it. Pulled soleus according to the doctor.

Immediately I was spat out the back and Dave pulled away in the last half mile putting 20 seconds on me as I limped in to T1. Drop out? Continue? Let's see if I can shake it off on the bike. Fast transition and made up the time to Dave while mounting the bike. I told him to GO...since he said on the run we should work together during the bike to separate us further from the pack (unlikely as he is a way faster biker!) The bike ended up being a seated 1-legged pedalfest as I dropped back further and further, but we had such a large lead after that first run, the day did actually still end with a 3rd place in the M45-49.  The bike downhills were awesome and the course was superior to last year's. Hills, curves, etc, all made to my strengths living in the Rocky Mountains. Too bad I couldn't get a chance to use those skills!

Just pressing down on the right pedal was too much to bear, the second run was not looking promising. If I had to walk to finish I would. Why did I not drop out and risk further injury? Honor.
I was the one with the target on the back by the others having been the top seed guy in the race for the age group and holding the rank of #1. I think you defend the title and rank, as best you can and at least give the guys behind you a shot at taking you down. So what if I raced it practically 1-legged...we toe the line together and finish the race, whoever crosses that line first deserves it. Barring crashes, injury, bad nutrition or whatever else you can come up with, it's all part of the game. To deny my competition that opportunity is unjustified wimpiness. I congratulated the guys who finished in front of me on the way to the medical tent. Got some ice, hobble out of there after the doc said what I had done was a soleus tear (taking 2+ to 2 months depending...) to recover from. To top it off, Andy had an awful day at the office, my kid came down with a fever and an athlete I coach crashed a week before his A-race separating his shoulder. What a HORRIBLE week it was.

As of this update, I had to not start in the Boulder 70.3 as mentioned. Can't quite run or clip out of bike pedals yet, but I'm hoping for that in about a week. I'm babying the injury and doing everything to recover as best I can. Light swimming with a pull buoy and aqua jogging has been my only recourse at this well as some upper body weights and core work. I'm not taking this laying down, I've worked too hard and was "in the zone" with high expectations for the season, which was down to just one more race (Boulder Peak). As of last week, I've entered USAT LC Du Nats in Ft. Worth for November. Dave Slavinski told me after the race that USAT Tri LC Nats was this fall with World's in Oklahoma next year. I did not know that as I primarily race WTC races + USAT Nats. Typically, I don't go to many World Championship races aside from Kona and the two ITU Worlds I've done (only because they were close in Canada).  I'm more of a long course guy anyhow. So yeah, I may enter USAT Tri LC Nats in September too.

A good start ended poorly for the season, but you have to have crisis management. Come up with a new plan and goals. So I have. I'll get by this and come back stronger, not because I want to, but because it simply is required. The only time you lose is when you quit. It's hard to lose if you never quit. 

With Otillo out of the picture for this year (it was promised to my team mate that we had a Race Director men's team spot from merit, so I built my entire 2015 schedule around Otillo as the main goal)...I change gears to fill the void. Seems the RD went back on his word to Stefan and that just isn't cool. Especially since my season hinged on competing there. We are assured up and down the bible we were in, but yet, we aren't. So on to new things, Sweden is a trip that just isn't happening now. Oh well, for all the hype it is, Otillo is just as much a speck on the endurance world of racing than any other self-proclaimed world championship. would be cool to race it!

What's up next? Family, life changes and hopefully getting back into the swing of things to use this fall as a launch pad for 2016 season. I'll be starting much earlier for 2016 as it will be another Ironman year. Not sure which Ironman I'll be racing, but I have an idea or two. Either way, I'll be ready this time around. See you at the races!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Busy is better! (Sometimes)

What a CRAZY last couple of months it has been. I took April off from work, except for Sundays...more on that in an upcoming blog post hopefully in the near future. Hopped in the Barking Dog...1st in AG, 4th overall, 1st "non-elite wave" finisher. What a weird race though (although it was cold so I was a fish in water & loving it!) It's no secret that aside from myself the arch-nemesis has always been the heat factor. With a training deficit due to April as mentioned...there wasn't a lot of pressure so I stayed out of the elite wave which took off in wave 1. Then there was a second wave, I was third & my buddy Andy Ames was in the 4th wave. With the elites & pros up the road & Andy not next to me, it was one of those go through the motions type runs. Nobody to run with so used it as a warm up, just enough to warm up for the bike.

2015 Barking Dog Duathlon
The bike--okay, I gunned it as best I could so no complaints there, but it was still off from normal especially with all the rain we've had this year & as mentioned, the entire month of April's non-activity. Finally, the last run...whatever I could dig into/press to the finish is what was going to be my result. The finish came up quickly & even afterwards, didn't seem like I was really that taxed. No gaggy-pukey feeling like I normally have from over-exerting myself, although I didn't have coffee that morning. I think that is a trend I'll be following.

Memorial Day was Bolder Boulder. Another odd non-coffee day that started with wife's home baked wheat bread, strawberry jam and water. Used some old cotton sweats to ditch near the start, but brought $1 for a "mobile locker" just in case. Finally, I tried to use the  mobile locker & theysaid it was actually now $2. So...I ditched said gear behind a bush and picked them up after the race. Before the race I did some sprint pick ups in front of Excel Sports with Chris Grauch, my team mate from our defending US National Master's Cross County gold medal crew. We run for Boulder Running Company/Team Adidas out of Colorado Springs. That really got the legs moving.

Long story short, I started about 7 yards or meters behind the start on the far left to avoid the nut jobs who just HAVE to get out front right away for that "A wave" photo that usually appears on the next year's calendar. Anyhow, it was a quite laid back start and just took it out what felt slow (5:32 pace)...but was not really any slower than last year--it just felt that way. About mile 1.5 Andy Ames (who holds silly fast BB records of 31 minutes + for many, many years)...pulled up and tapped me on the shoulder as he did last year when he trounced me horribly. I settled in right behind him comfortably until mile 5, then as I did in Barking Dog Du...decided there was just way too much left in the tank so I floored it until the finish with my second best time on that course. While it was my 2nd best time, it was also my easiest effort RPE-wise...with my lowest HR ever. Checking my 920XT, per LT zone calculations using the Coggan Method...I spent 68% of the Bolder Boulder in heart rate zone 3, with only 22% in zone 4. In 2014 I was almost all zone 4 after mile 1.  Which totally makes sense because as I told a gal I used to coach through a Tweet on really did feel like just a Tempo run. I've had harder training runs than that effort. The data proves to too.

To top it off, I won my age group FINALLY in Bolder Boulder after something like four 2nd places in a row. Something has happened with the last couple races with the running. It seems easy to go faster, yet less training, but no coffee before races so there isn't that stomach acid issue.

The folks were here for 10 days so I didn't get to see them much with things starting to pick up following my "post-April" sabbatical from training with the upcoming races on the horizon. I'm heading to US Duathlon Nationals next week with 2013 World and National/2014 National 50-54 Champ Andy Ames, as my room mate again. This guy is a freaking LEGEND--if you Google him you'll see how impressive this guy is. It's always a challenge just to hold his shoulder in a race.  I'm heading back to defend my 45-49 AG National Championship/#1 ranked for all of 2014. Andy is the one that talked me into this duathlon stuff a couple years ago when I finished 4th at World Championships in Ottawa's ITU Standard Distance Championships.

If I don't show up, it would be disrespectful to not only the National Champ title, the ranking, but to those who want to try to knock me off that top stair. Which is fine for me because I have no expectations especially after taking April off from pretty much "life of any sort" to speak of...although April was STILL fun...just not letting the cat outta the bag yet on that so stay tuned in the weeks ahead!

I've managed to spend some time with some of my athletes I coach, to really snucker-down on specific individual help, as well as holding a transition clinic for them. It included video footage, form analysis & set up for race day.  Summer is just about here, tomorrow is the kid's last day of school, it looks like training time Monday-Wednesday will be more limited if any at times, but I'll have PLENTY of daddy time which is better than just about anything I can think of!  You can ride a bike until you're older, or run when old--but you only have your kids around for so long. I'm going to take advantage of that while I can. Until next time, steer clear of the bad people in life & don't let anyone tell you "no" because--they know NOTHING about the power you  hold within you!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year New Things--New Year's Resolution

January 3, is already three days into 2015, wow, how time flies. I see my kid growing so big each day and life picking up speed more like a snowball on a hill like the Grinch in the cartoon just before they went off the edge of the mountain. Then the Who People from Whoville or whatever, changed the Grinch into someone different than what he had been. Lives changes, situations change, but never should we leave that change up to others to control. If you don't like something in your life, change it. Period. There is no "right time" or ideal time to change things. Each day you don't work towards changes that make life more sweet, then that is one wasted day on earth. It takes motivation, lots of it.

Like Tony Robbins the motivational speaker...use people, songs, sights or whatever gadgets you can to motivate yourself in 2015 to make a change. Personally, I like the words from a Michael Jackson song called "Man in the Mirror" simply because of the message.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
One thing I've learned this past year, seeing Robin Williams pass on, looking at so many Hollywood actors take their own time is short. To be so miserable that you feel the only way out when seemingly they have the world at their feet, to find a quick way out like that. I'm a survivor. It's what I do. If something stands in the way of that--don't need it. Period. Taking a back seat to multiple situations I'm personally not happy with, may have led me to waste a few years doing things I'm just not happy with. Finally, I woke up in 2014. Time to not be a sheep and be a shepherd. Taking a step back can mean two steps forward sometimes. Life is too short to not move forward at least one step per day. 2015 is going to be new territory for me, exploring those fears of uncertainty in many aspects of my life. I'm lucky to have a great support system especially with my wife.
I gather all the quotes, messages on Twitter, stories from others and inspirational/motivators to keep up the fight to take those things I'm not thrilled about that cloud my pursuit of excellence, then use them as strength to finally make those decisions to just do it. This is going to be an AMAZING 2015, I can't wait to tackle new horizons, adventures and experience the way I want to live life. I'm taking control of those things that have "controlled" me because I'm finally saying HELL NO! NO MORE. It's tiring and huge drain on energy, but the energy I'll gain at the end of it, will be more than anything I've spent getting there. Vague I know, but let's just say while routine can be comforting, it is also a prison. Where is the adventure and growth in routine?

I'm going to make a change & it is going to start with the man in the mirror!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona Report 2014

Less than an hour after finished--barely managing to hide the pain!
We stayed again at the Royal Kona Resort, just a mile into the run and little less than that from the start/finish line. It is just outside Chaos Central with beautiful grounds to spend time at, complete with its own private lagoon to swim in on the ocean. There is food right next door at Bongo Ben’s or Hugo’s on the Rocks where many parties take place after the Ironman. This was the first time there with our son, he really enjoyed it so much and can’t wait to go back. The experiences he had such as going over 100 feet under the surface in the Atlantis Submarine, snorkeling at Turtle Bay, hiking the rim of a volcano at Volcano National Park and spending a lot of time in the pool were just invaluable. So much to see and do while we were there, it was a summer vacation in the fall!
My trusty but getting outdated steed!
  Below is basically a summary of the answer I gave a friend when he said he was worried when he saw I only had two water bottles on the bike. I felt it was a decent enough answer that also pretty much summed up the trip from a race perspective, with a few edits.

Volcano National Park

I've come to the conclusion that with aid stations every 10-15 miles (depending on the Ironman host site), that 2 is enough. By the time I finish 1 bottle I'm usually 45 minutes into the bike & still have one in reserve & just exchange at aid stations accordingly. The mix at the stations is less calories but I'm still getting my "special needs bag" half way through the race (56 miles). The other thing is: Who wants to drink hot liquids? In Hawaii, drinks get hot really quick so it doesn’t taste good or go down easy if you carry more than two bottles, they’ll just heat up and not cool you off.
#1--Fredrik Van Lierde's bike race morning (he's in the water swimming at this moment).
 Getting enough liquids on course isn't usually an issue. It also saves weight (1 bottle---large, is about 1.8 lbs full). My issues are strictly heat management. Just not good racing in anything above 71-73 F usually, I start falling apart from overheating as my sweat rate is 4 lbs per hour at an outside temperature of 85 F. That is an unusually high sweat rate.

Our Hotel Lobby: Royal Kona Resort
 In summary, the swim was I think my slowest ever & I have been swimming well I think this year. My biking was coming around at Ironman Boulder but had issues with vomiting on the bike causing me to not take in or absorb enough calories to run well off the bike. I have read that some people who have issues with too many liquid calories, should look into some solid foods along the way. Not much, just some. Liquids/gels absorb better and are broken down already to a point, but some people actually needs just a “tease of solid food” along the way. It’s just the way certain people are built. This is one thing I will look into for longer races and experiment with.

At Kona Brewery
This time I was just not moving from the start. The swim likely was the slowest in Hawaii (big waves but just had a slow swim all together). I’m not sure if it was because I had absolutely no coffee on race morning, or while I was there in Kona. I wanted to see if some of the issues I was having lately in races was due to too high of acidity in my stomach. Apparently, I can go back to drinking coffee race morning because I still had the issues.

Volcano National Park
 The bike…the legs never could produce the power & I'll have to investigate that further as I had what I think may have been my 2nd slowest bike ever there. Part of it was I’m sure, due to racing a second Ironman in one year on a little more than 12-13 hours on only a couple weeks as my larger volume weeks this year. You can race an Ironman off of that little volume if you’ve been consistent, but racing two in a year with only about two months between is a bit of a stretch. There are professional “age groupers” who do nothing more than train and call their “job” coaching a few athletes, but with a real full time job myself, as well as coaching, maintaining a house, HOA Board work, family and other projects mid-production, it is a huge undertaking and performance will eventually suffer. Things need to be streamlined and/or outsourced a little (okay, a lot more). In short, I’m out of balance and that drastically cuts into the focus of everything else. I’m too scattered, which is something I help identify with my athletes I coach. You need balance to perform well.

View from our Hotel balcony
Each Kona has been more of a reward just in getting there and I really do not think, I’ve gone there to actually RACE it before. It is the frosting on the cake. For some it is the main thing. For me, I automatically know the heat will destroy me so it becomes one of those “also-ran races” where you just do it but don’t focus on it much. Odd, I know. One would think it should be the opposite. Knowing yourself goes a long way to deciding which are key races for you though, what you would be best at. I’m thinking now that is the reason it really isn’t an issue for me to qualify traditionally. I know the races I go to qualify at, due to the demographics of the course and conditions, pretty well. I know what I race will be conditions typically in my favor. The reward is always something that traditionally does not suit me well…a race hotter than hell and humid like no other, often with winds equal to both of those. I’ve read up on every heat management preparation and training protocol I’ve found. I’ve trained in a sauna, in the middle of the day, in extra clothes, in super windy conditions, in 100 F heat in the dead of summer. That is just the start. Still, I suffer from overheating and shut down.

KK, the "Real Starky" & Kevin Collington at breakfast


The run…couldn't absorb the liquids & started throwing up again. The worst of which left me keeling over 2 miles from the finish in standstill--losing about a quart of Coke right on the Queen K pavement for several minutes. I seem to be having a lot of these issues lately. Definitely need to change my approach and in race nutrition. Another possibility is the training. If you do not push a certain pace for certain amounts of time, in extreme similar conditions, minimal training hours may cause the body to not acclimate to digesting highly sugary substances. You will consume while racing, little more than some course drink that is nasty, gels, Coke—possibly very ripe bananas. Usually there is little else to eat along the way except maybe oranges and pretzels. I find the oranges too acidic to handle during a race. Pretzels, while great for the salt, are cake-like dry and not easy to eat.The body just rejects it because you are pushing too hard and the muscles need the blood flow while it is competing with the stomach for digestion. The combination seems to result in the old fashioned “up-chuck” (my observation).

At the King Kam Hotel two days after the race

About the only thing remotely "okay" was T2.  T1 was a disaster as my "helper-volunteer" was an elderly man who was moving very slow (God Bless him for trying though!) He had moved my bike jersey from the floor in front of me to the back of my chair I was in while I wasn't looking & it slid down under my butt & I couldn't find it. I honestly thought someone accidentally tossed it in a bag & shipped it out of the tent with all the other transition bags as they do, to keep things “tidy” once an athlete is finished. In the chaos he didn't remember where he put it. Ultimately, his job as I asked him--was to remove the small 2 inch piece of electrical tape on each rolled up arm cooler & he just couldn't do it. I didn't want to rip it from his hands as I just continued putting everything else—just because he was trying and I didn’t have the heart to even hint he wasn’t really helping—volunteers are the life blood of races so you MUST be thankful just for being there. Between looking for my jersey & him having issues with the tape, T1 was just over 8 minutes long (I think a new T1 record for slowness on my part). I am actually known to be very fast in transitions except for Ironman races--but this was ridiculous.

KK having a bad day (photo Jen Schaffner)
Building the transition at the pier days before

Long & short of it was a slow body. I never got going, physically or mentally. Heat & wind were issues sure, so was nutrition. Lots of stopping on the run to gather food/drinks/ice at aid stations--but stopped 2 x on the bike (once for a pee break) and once at Special Needs bag pickup. The run...lots of walking through the aid stations & to clear the gut. It seems like every time I drank that nasty Power Bar Perform drink, it came up minutes later. Thanks God Ironman will be going back to Gatorade starting next year.

Rachel Joyce at gear/bike check in

So it was a bust…the worst race all year long. Not that Boulder was a great race...Boulder was not up to what I expected. But Kona was worse yet. After having what I consider a highly successful season—not losing my age group in any multisport race all season until Ironman Boulder, it ended on not so good last couple races. I have a few ideas to fix the issues in 2016, so I'll be mulling that over & experimenting with new approaches in 2015 as I prepare for ÖTILLÖ in September 2015 & take a year off from Ironman.


10:41 is actually what I believe my 3rd worst Ironman ever. But it is what it is & some days just finishing is the goal. I'm not beating myself up about it, as I look forward to newer challenges & continue to try to solve the riddle of Ironman Hawaii. I can get there & race other Ironman races quite well, but in Kona...the heat, humidity & wind just chew me up & spit me out. Some are built for those conditions but I seem to be more geared for colder weather racing than the heat. I think my high sweat rate has a lot to do with it.

Looking towards Kona from the pier
You never get sick of seeing this in the morning--beauty!

My awesome escort on bag drop off day: Tim

Lastly, yes, the great American speed skater Apolo Ohno who was a “guest celebrity” competitor; kicked many folks’ arses. He was about 9:52, smashed my finish and many other top age group athletes. Even if being one of the best in the world is his job, it is impressive for his first Ironman. Final words, yes, I got “chicked” by age group women as well. I’m secure in myself in that, they went faster on a day that was clearly not so great for me. I don’t have a problem with that. They have two legs/arms and so do I, if a woman beats me then congratulations! Same thing goes for any other guy that finishes ahead of me. There is no difference, man or woman, we all toe the line and the fastest ones finish ahead of the slower ones, so put the egos away and get back at it, try to improve the next time around. If we find ourselves headed down the wrong road, we can always turn back to take the correct one!