Saturday, December 26, 2009

NEW! 2010 Boulder Altitude Camp presented by Gemini Multisport & Team Hendryx

Press Release

2010 Boulder Altitude Camp (Presented by Gemini Multisport & Team Hendryx)

When: The week of May 23rd to May 29th, 2010.

What: Join our expert coaches at altitude in the Rocky Mountains for a week of fun filled long distance triathlon training and education geared towards the 9 to 12 hour athlete who is looking to take their knowledge and training to another level. LT Testing, guest speakers, swim & run video analysis, welcome and camp-end group dinners, supported endurance ride, trail runs, group swims and rides, the best camp goodie bag around, and much, much more--all taking place in the beautiful triathlon Mecca of Boulder, Colorado. If you are looking for a peak mileage training week in preparation for Ironman CDA or Ironman USA, or if you just want to accelerate your season and knowledge about being your best, this camp is for YOU!

Camp Information/Registration: There are 15 slots available for the camp, for more information on registration:

Camp Directors: Kevin Konczak (USAT Level II Coach/20x Ironman) of Gemini Multisport and Sean Hendryx (USAT Level I Coach/M.S. Kinesiology) of Team Hendryx.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009

December 21st is the start of the new year for me (Winter Solstice). Not just a new race season, but each day the sun is out a little longer and the spring will rush up on us before we know it.

Time to start thinking about the when and where for vacations, house projects, getting the yard ready for the spring foliage growth, etc. So much to do and so little time. Each week my list of things to do grows by a few items, while time allows me to strike only a couple from that list. It isn’t a time management issue at all, but more of an overwhelming (at times) list of things that seem to fall in my lap. The many hats I wear day to day really need to be sewn together to make one big sombrero! It sure keeps me hopping though, and allows for an exciting year.

Last summer’s fence project was a doozy. The wind storms had snapped off the old fence at the bottom of the 4 x 4s, so my neighbor & I rebuilt it. I had only built one 20 foot section of fence about 5 years earlier with a friend, so I was going off of memory to do this right. It turned out great & looks pretty darned good. It did use up a lot of time resources and quickly became labeled as a “pain in the behind” project. But heck, I have a nice looking fence now! Too bad I have to build another entire section of fence yet—that will be more of a pain, but it too will look great when all is done.

One project that will be using up some time this spring will be the 2010 B.A.C. A charity event taking place late spring, which I will run along with another coach from Florida. The details are nearly complete, so stay tuned if you’re a triathlete and participate in Ironman events—because this will be designed specifically for those type of athletes. What does B.A.C. stand for? You’ll just have to wait a little while longer. Possibly the next blog entry. Since I write about two of them a month on average, it will be the next or the one just after that.

On another subject, when I raced on the cross country running team in university, we had a wacky team captain. Outstanding runner, so much talent, but a year after I left the town where I went to school, I totally forgot the guy’s name. I ran across that name on the internet yesterday, it sounded familiar—but I wasn’t sure who it was. I Googled his name and clicked on “Images” and found an interview with him. While I didn’t recognize him at first (Tracey Lokken), the name sounded as if I should know him. Later in the interview he became more “animated” and the 20 years that have passed since I knew/ran with him peeled away. There he was…Tracey, the same old Tracey, just looking a little older. Little did I know he kept running and worked hard; enough to become the 2009 US National Master’s Marathon Champion. Pretty impressive! His first ever marathon was more impressive—at 2:23! “That thar is a speedy old guy!” Good on ya Tracey!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Summing it all up 2009

Summing up a year is at best, a generalization of what is at the forefront of the mind. Let me rewind and speak specifically about family growth, with the little rascal growing I don’t know how many inches taller—but it sure seems like he went from a toddler to a post-toddler size overnight. It is amazing the memory capacity of the little ones, and how sponge-like they are in their observations of the world around them, as well as how helpful they really can be when they’re not being helpful (read as: making more messes than they clean up). The best thing about it is that it never really gets old and these really are some of the best of times to capture in my memory for the upcoming later years. Of course, my better half has been actively involved in teaching the majority learned things by the “mini-me”…while taking a backseat in competition to do so in 2009 with all the different projects I've been in this year. Then again, she actually raced more than I did this year! Looking back, I have reduced my racing this year (again), to limit it to a 5K running race in January, then a winter duathlon a couple weeks later, all for “funzzies” to test out the injury and assess what I would need to do in order to get ready for my real “A” race which was Ironman CDA in June. I had a lot of sharing/support from the better half this year to get back into things and chose to train rather than race a lot. After qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman (with what I consider a rather good race for me in CDA, given the physical issues the last several years), the rest of the season was set to be as much family time and preparation as I could for Hawaii.

There was the last-minute 5K I hopped in while visiting my parents on the 4th of July. This was a surprise to me as 12 days before I had finished a very difficult course at Ironman CDA. My dad told me about a 5K to be held on the 4th of July. Race morning I still wasn’t sure I’d do it, feeling a slight calf strain leftover from IM CDA. Finally, about 1.5 hrs from race start, I hopped out of bed, had a cup of coffee & jogged down to the start and entered. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a tad nervous showing up to the start in my hometown with some of the top local runners there, including a guy from downstate who was an NCAA All-American runner in college & head coach of a track team. The long and short of it was the nerves were mainly from knowing I did a full Ironman only 12 days prior, now toeing the line in a race I never have even trained for since high school, against some decent competition (but far from decent compared to Boulder). I ended up starting in the second row behind some girls after a nice long warm up, then after about 100 yards I took the lead. I figured I may as well have some fun with it and “go-for-it” to see how many would fall off pace. It wasn’t until about a half mile before it was myself and some high school runner were alone—with him tailing me trying to draft off of me. I knew the imaginary rubber-band effect can be broken with mind games, especially at an inexperienced age of a high school runner. They are usually (not always) more prone to tactical games than someone my age. I decided to cut quickly to the left on the path then accelerate. When I heard him starting to follow my left direction, I moved quickly to the right. Then a few more times…before long, the zigzagging may have tired him out and busted that imaginary rubber band. From there I just tried to keep up with the lead biker, when he picked it up, I picked it up to try to catch him. At that point I didn’t really care who was behind me as I only tried to go as fast as I could. About 2 miles into the race, I started to tire and slowed the next ¾ mile. When I knew the finish was near, I picked it up. My Garmin 305 GPS told me I was 16:04 for 3.1 miles, a new PR at age 40. Not too shabby—to top it off, it was a course record. Had I known I was that close to breaking 16 minutes, I most certainly would & could have picked it up to chop 5 seconds off in that 2 mile-2.75 mile portion where I slowed down to try to recover. There were 223 racers which is a pretty good turnout for this small city.

I think my legs were sorer the day after the 5K than they were after IM CDA.

One highlight of the season was a pre-Kona long ride with one of my athletes I coach, Max. He’s been barreling through the ranks from an 11+ Ironman athlete to now a 9:12 finish at Ironman Arizona last week. I’ve worked with him for the past 4-5 years, and he has done everything I’ve told him to a tee—and fills out his log in such detail that it is like being right there training with him—watching (which I only did a couple times). I get regular power meter downloads, HRM downloads and tons of comments/feelings & feedback. I told him it would take 4-5 years if he did everything I said to get to Hawaii. This was the fourth year. We road 125 miles on a long ride up in the mountains, where I usually could pounce and drop him at will. Actually, that would be true for the flats as well. However, this was more for me to size up how his training had been going (a in person spot check I guess you could say). I needed to see how strong he was to finalize his training before IM AZ. After red-lining the entire day, for the first time ever he was able to drop me at will, and then…I knew he was ready to claim his spot for Hawaii. I lost count how many times he turned around or stopped to wait for me after disappearing up the highway at 9,000 feet altitude. All he needed to do was race and put it together—he was ready for sure. He is a swimmer by nature, and the run has become his strength. He raced just like I race…get a good placing on the swim, be competitive on the bike, and try to blow away the remaining folks on the run. Typical KK race style. In doing so, he surpassed my PR of 9:14 with his 9:12. While the swim course seems to be a little faster than the ocean (AZ is in a canal), the run seems to be a little hillier than IM FL where I set my PR, and so his time was even more impressive. I digress…the fact is, Max was ready and lean & mean. The power he had on the bike made me realize I was either aging & losing it, or I was really just being dusted by a now superior cyclist. After seeing his time at IM AZ, the latter was the apparent truth. Max finished 3rd in the 30-34 and 27th overall, stamping his first ever ticket to Kona. All the work I had him do on the bike this year took his weakness to his strength. Even more than his run (how could this be if his placing on the run was 2 spots better than his bike?) Simple, he had the 4th fastest bike in his AG but was still able to run with the 2nd fastest run. That shows his fitness on the bike was so strong it was only for that reason that he could possibly run so fast like the bike didn’t even happen.

Before Kona, I competed in my third Sombrero Ranch Trail Race. This is the hardest 3-something miles you’ll ever do. It gains 1,000 feet in about 1.25 miles. It was only 3 weeks out from Kona, so with rocks, tree roots, and the chance for twisting an ankle, it was a big risk. However, I love the race and wasn’t feeling too confident for Hawaii anyhow as training was not going that well on the bike anyhow (injury was acting up). If something happened I figured it would be minor anyhow, as my background initially is in cross country running. I ended up running more of the race in 5-7th place but with about ¾ mile left overtook Master’s running legend Andy Ames and started to slowly build a gap. I would have moved into second a little sooner but got caught behind some quickly tiring runners on some very rocky sections where I just could not pass for what seems like a half mile. Essentially, I was being held up by a few runners who weren’t really adept at downhill rocky trails. At the top of the last hill, I turned off course about 20 yards and Andy yelled over to me, “This way!” I turned around for a quick look and was back on course. At this point I felt he slowed up so I could get back into the same position I was in, since he wasn’t quite to the crest of the hill. Once heading downhill, I let my legs fly as fast as they could give the rocks and ruts on the trail. Andy was not able to overtake me downhill so I ended up second overall. It was good sportsmanship for Andy to call me back on course and not attack when he saw I went off course, but I’m pretty sure had I stayed on course I would have placed ahead of him by a slightly larger margin than what I did. Either way, he is a legend in the Boulder area and this was my first win over him.

The season pretty much ended like this:

Quaker 5K: 1st AG/18th overall

Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2: 3rd overall

Ironman CDA: 3rd AG (Kona Qualified-fastest AG run split)

Firecracker 5K: 1st overall (course record at 16:04 & P.R.)

Sombrero Ranch Trail Run: 2nd overall

Hawaii Ironman: 66th AG/448th overall (UGH!)

From a coaching standpoint, I’ve had success across the board. Obviously the first to mention is Max, enough can’t be said about what he’s done in the past 4 years to become an elite amateur in any distance race. Next, Bob…was on pace to break his P.R. at Ironman Florida by over an hour until he had knee issues and stomach virus (next year Bob!) There was Bill, who went out to become Idaho state champ this summer in his Age Group, then there was Laurie who after much coaxing to do Ironman Florida, overcame her doubts and ended up missing her Kona slot by just a small margin, finishing in P.R. time and 8th in her Age Group—a testament to the talent she has. Those were just a few success stories from a few athletes. It was certainly a success year all around. There were a few athletes who fought some injuries through accident or because of the way they are naturally built resulting in biomechanical issues. There were those who stopped far too short of giving their aspirations an honest “go” from the start, but still ended up doing okay. Once those issues are tended to, then they should get back in the saddle and pick up where they left off, for working only a few months is hardly a fully-dedicated effort to succeed in Ironman racing. Athletes need to be honest with their initial goals and how realistic they are related to their motivation and dedication levels. Some did not keep good training logs; some made excuses and did not follow the program, then after a few months seemed to lose faith in them, and finally, others just didn’t even get off the ground after a couple weeks for some reason or another. I certainly hope they overcome this outlook, as that is what truly holds them back from their dreams. So many people go 99% of the way to their goals and stop when they are literally one step away…1% away. Ever wonder what the top 1% most successful people in any field have in common? They push through and give the 1% effort that the other 99% did not. If you want it bad enough and are willing to work for it, anything can happen. Anything.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Launching 2010

There are so many things for 2010 that will be going on it is not easy to figure out where to start. First, an announcement from Gemini Multisport about (here's the teaser)...2010 B.A.C.  It will take place here in Boulder--an event that is truly world class in every aspect. Triathletes from all over the country will be wanting to hear when the 2011 B.A.C. will take place. Nuff said, stay tuned to for announcements by the end of the year.

The winter has stricken Boulder with almost 8 inches of snow the last 48 hours, with cold temps. The serpantine belt came off one of the vehicles so that put a damper on a planned cold run through the city. This weather makes you want to just rewind back to the summer time or at least forward to next summer. The good news about the sun going down so soon this time of year is in knowing that Dec. 21st isn't that far away--then the daylight slowly extends. Minute by minute every few days, but it is a sign that the warmth of spring is on its way. Now is a great time to spend getting those "rainy day" items completed around the house, as they will surely be replaced with another long list of to do things.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

2009 Hawaii Ironman Race Report

2009 Ironman Hawaii Race Report/KK

The week leading up to race day went well, no blips in the radar to think anything would have affected me one way or another. I arrived in Kona lean and feeling quite prepared (but not quite as much as IM CDA). The run was “on” as I just finished 2nd overall in a mountain trail race three weeks before IM Hawaii. The swim has been quite “on” compared to the past as well, yet my confidence on the bike wasn’t there despite spending a lot of time in the saddle this year. My recovery from a two-year long injury just wasn’t 100%, so no matter what I did this year my biking hasn’t been too powerful (may next year eh?)

The issues that brought down the roof on this edition of Hawaii were largely self-imposed. #1, NEVER start next to the pier. I’ve started there only once and it worked out as I could swim “inside” the buoys, but this year there were nearly 100 surfboards linked together forming a barrier so swimmers couldn’t swim inside the buoys. When the gun went off, I was smashed up against the boards—starting in the third row. Immediately I was kicked, submerged, punched and forced to go into breast-stroke mode for several minutes. Briefly I contemplating grabbing a surf board just to get some air as this was the most cruel/rude group I’ve been with in Hawaii in eight attempts. It was as if safety and courtesy didn’t matter to anyone. Eventually, before the turn around I was kicked or punched in the nose which led to a slight nosebleed. Note to self next time around…start FAR left by the Body Glove boat and avoid the congestion. Better to lose a big of swim draft and have the freedom to swim AROUND the congestion in open water. I think this has been a common strategy for me in most Ironman races and it worked well. I can swim faster on my own in open water than with a group that is always fighting for someone’s feet—there seems to be a yo-yo effect in a line of swimmers. Plus, there seems to be a lot of dangerous elbowing and kicking by someone in a group because they don’t like their toes touched when someone swims behind them too closely. This ended up being a rather slow swim for me despite my new Blue Seventy speed suit (I’m sure it would have been much slower without it in fact.) The large amount of breast-stroke done this time around pretty much put the kabash on everything in the first leg due to congestion—there just wasn’t any open water to go to left or right. Right—surfboards. Left—about a few hundred swimmers…thus, trapped. Exiting the water there were carpeted steps (different from the ramp on the other side of the pier last time I raced here.) There were steps underwater and before anyone said anything such as, “Watch the steps underwater!” BOOM! I had tripped, ripping a 2-inch portion of skin off my right shin—falling to the ground. What a great way to start the day…slow swim, bloody nose and now a gash in my leg with an instant bruise. It has been a week now and has been healing quickly.

T1: Uneventful, as entertainment was provided by my decision to use DeSoto Cool Wings. Basically they are sleeves connected by material over the upper back, which you pour water over during the race in order to keep cool and keep the sun stay off your back. Try putting those on with wet skin—it doesn’t work so well. It must have taken a clear 45 seconds alone to put those on. Next time, I’ll use a full Craft Sun Shirt or something. At least I didn’t get burned during the bike all over my shoulders as I usually do.

Bike: There must have been around 600 bikers passing me—most all in packs. The groups of approximately 5-20 were common all the way to Hawi. Not much to say here other than if those passing me in the packs feel like they actually beat me this day, more power to them. There were marshals that would ride up to a pack of 20, nobody broke it up, and then the marshals just drove off on their motorbikes without taking a number or flashing a penalty card. Clearly, WTC did an extra, extra poor job of marshalling the AG athletes. I have plenty of video footage to prove my point as well. In addition, I saw the shadow of one guy for around a mile, practically so close to me that he was nearly on the same bike. I turned around and told him that if I wanted to ride so close with someone, I would have packed a tandem bicycle for the race. He muttered some expletives and peeled off my wheel. This is where I think the other part of my bike leg went in the drain: I missed my Infinit Nutrition “Special Needs Bag” bottle at Hawi. There was nearly 400 calories in that bottle, compared to nearly 150 I could take in/stomach through Gatorade Endurance and other aid station hand-offs. I simply ran out of steam from caloric deficit. In hindsight I should have stopped for the Infinit until they could run it to me…especially since I stopped for a bathroom break right at the turn around (there was a minute right there). I used Salt Stick tabs in addition to Infinit, this all worked well until I ran out of both of them on the bike. From Hawi back there was a constant headwind but the gusts weren’t bad this year. It was simply steady with 13 mph on some sections of flat in aero position. Tough, tough bike when you bike it fairly.

T2: Stopped for a bathroom break again but not much exciting here aside from a tough time standing up to run just after dismounting the bike. The old back was a bit stiff. At least heading out onto the run course…I saw two athletes just walking right out of T2. Methinks they went too hard on the bike.

Run: This went well at a 7:08 pace for the first six or so miles. Then my issues with heat management set in. I began to walk the aid stations after 10K, just to grab what I could to keep myself going. Figure about 20 aid stations (that’s a LOT of lost time). However, it went much better than the bike leg went. I was able to pass hundreds of athletes with few passing me. There were a few in my AG from IM CDA that I saw in the energy lab who I managed to gain a lot of time on here. The AG winner from CDA ended up being only 3 minutes ahead of me at the end of the day while gaining around 20 on the bike alone. To think—if I just hopped on the group of cyclists like everyone else seemed to be doing all day long, I may have gone sub-10 hrs. But I couldn’t enjoy my placing knowing I didn’t do it on my own. During the run, I was able to pass Andreas Neidrig (a pro) who has won Ironman races outside of the USA. There were some other notables I finished ahead of, but there were some not-so-notables who finished high today as well. Depends on how you choose to race a championship race I guess (draft or not). I finished in a 3:26 marathon with a final mile of 6:22. Pulled off an “okay” run considering how the day started. As the run went on, I felt better and better, wondering where all my power went on the bike and in the middle of the run. My lighter weight this season helped my running no doubt, However I may have lost a bit on my cycling leg due to that. I did not lift many weights this season due to recovery of the leg injury, so that will be something to look at for ’10. It was really a victory in itself getting back to Kona after so many years of turning down slots, and it was enjoyable this time around without the pressure. Sure some of the other competitors ticked me off in how they chose to curb the rules for their own gain, but it was fun getting back to Kona nonetheless. My main goal was reached this year, getting to Kona. My second goal of winning my AG in CDA didn’t happen (but I was 3rd so that was close!). My third goal of setting a Kona PR didn’t happen either (but those were tactical, nutritional, and strategic errors on my part). At least the #1 goal was reached, so with lofty goals it was a very successful but short season.

Notes for 2010 & lessons learned: Start AWAY from the pier to find clear water in Kona. Stop to get your race nutrition at Hawi, it is VITAL. Move down a tooth from 54 to 53 (too large of a gear given the terrain). Do NOT use DeSoto cool wings, instead use a moisture wicking light colored shirt like the CRAFT shirt Tbjorn Sindeballe used—it’ll be easier to put on & pull down rather than slip an arm through and get it around the backside. Ride close to the LEGAL limit of the draft zone and don’t get carried away with too much distance as that will cause you to drop back much faster. Be careful coming up the steps at the end of the swim. Finally, wear LIGHT colored clothes on the run, it could keep you from overheating early on along the coast where the humidity is high on Alii Drive. Besides that, keep reaching high and never give up. We all learn each and every Ironman, even the top pros—it is a continual process and is never completed until the last time we race. I’ve set some new goals for 2010, different from this year, and hopefully these will start taking shape in a matter of months. The season is over, it’s family time, they’ve made a lot of sacrifices for this trip so it is payback time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Story of a real hero...

A long time ago in a land far, far away I began my career in triathlon, which developed through a lot of hard work and seemingly endless hours of post-midnight bike trainer rides in the basement of my parent’s house. It was in the wee hours of the morning after a 12 PM-12 AM, or 6 AM to 6 PM or whatever screwy hours they gave me…in a labor job during the summers between college years, when already tired—I pounded out the miles in the summer night heat of a small room with no air conditioning. After those rides I would usually take to the plastic covered concrete weights I inherited from my brother who decided exercise would not be part of his daily lifestyle. The only real reason I wasn’t heading straight to bed upon my shift’s end was because I didn’t like second place. Not in the overall standings or my age group…second was the first place loser. Fast forward to the race seasons during college and post-college years, when first place overall in my area was nearly an every race occurrence. There was a weekend where I won a triathlon on Saturday, then raced again the next day—winning both of them overall. It was not just by a small margin, but quite a bit—well over 5 minutes in both sprint races.

Was it a case of poor competition and small fields? Possibly, but not to those attending the races. I had heard of another fast guy from Green Bay that was lighting up the circuit around the US, in pretty much any town/any race whether it was on the national or world level. One day this guy showed up at a race I fully expected to win. I actually thought I was in the lead at one point until I got about a mile from the 10 K turn around of the run. This guy would have been at the 4 mile marker while I was only at the 2 mile marker…”What the…? *)@” Did this guy take a short cut and do the entire course? “No bleeping way…” I thought to myself. Later I found out it was the guy from Green Bay and it all made sense. I had a chance to talk to him…his name: Chris Peeters. A few years later he showed up again and I was able to close the gap on the bike…this time, my foe was only about a quarter mile into the run when I was arriving at T2. Finally, I was able to show myself Chris was in fact human by denting his large lead out of the swim. Little did I know I had blown my running legs in order to chase him down (but I had still biked faster so that was a small victory in itself). Over the years this guy was the carrot I chased in my training sessions, since he was the best.

Chris disappeared for a few years while going to medical school, getting his doctorate in Radiology. It took me a few years to improve and leap up to levels that included Team USA and multiple Ironman World Championships. When he returned to racing after med school, he came back to the sport stronger. Once again, he was faster, stronger and was able to take down the likes of even some of the strongest athletes in the world. Athletes who have become of legendary age group lore—many of whom I had already beaten multiple times such as Tim Hola from the semi-pro group Team Timex. Even when guys like Hola were at their very best at the Ironman World Championships, Chris’s best was better, faster. An unassuming guy who I got to know over the last two decades, Chris is a class act. Always humble and willing to share whatever knowledge about racing and training, Chris was far from protecting his routine. I admired the accomplishments both on the race scene and off the race scene. He is a whole 3-4 years older than I am, so not too much older…yet we raced each other for nearly two decades and I have never finished ahead of him.

Likely, Chris never knew it was he that would help drive me to become better in this sport. He was one of my biggest rivals yet I was nothing of the sort to him as he was so much faster—nor likely was I ever a threat in races to him no matter what the distance. Still, this is a guy that I placed a target on for nearly two decades and who over those years, became one of the few heroes I had in the sport. Not Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Molina, or Scott Tinley, but a guy from Green Bay. He is a “real” person with a “real” job, not a media-driven full time sponsored athlete who pretends they have lived in the real world most of us live in while trying to climb the rankings of this sport. No salaries to buoy his training over the years by some sponsor, or months of just training in exotic places like so many pros at the top level have done. That is why I saw some of myself in him, and aspired to remotely reach even a sliver of what he has done in the sport. If he could do it so could I type of thing.

I was riding one day this summer with Barry Siff, founder of 5430 Sports, when he told me Chris Peeters was retiring from racing at a young age of 43. Turned out that he recently discovered he has M.S. If you don’t know what this is, it is a cruel sentence on the human body that debilitates those afflicted with it. There are many forms of it and degrees of severity, but let’s just say it isn’t something an athlete can really ever see themselves having because we are usually so used to being able to achieve the impossible with our body. I was at the US Junior National Championships coaching in the Mentor Program for USAT just a few weeks ago, running a clinic for over 100 kids, with about 6 assistant coaches. I contacted Chris since I was to be in the area, after not seeing him for some years (of course I fell out of touch and wondered where the heck he had been…)

He invited me over to his house for dinner, to meet his wife and 8-month old daughter. I was flattered to be invited to sit down for supper at one of my biggest hero’s home. I must admit, it was a great time. I passed on the beer and went for what was actually one of the tastiest spinach salads I’ve had (but picked the almonds out due to allergies). He had ordered pizza, so Chris, Laurie (Chris’s wife), and I sat around reminiscing about the athletes we raced against back in the Midwest throughout the years. Then…the awkward part of the visit came that choked me up (I tried to hide it best I could). I feel you should tell people of their importance in your life, especially, if they help you to become a better person or whatever. Just because they helped you in some way, shape or form—even if you don’t normally hang out together. I think Chris picked up on the fact I was bothered by his diagnosis and mentioned something about how people can have pity parties or just move on in life. I wasn’t there for a pity party certainly, but to tell him how much of a POSITIVE effect he has had on my life without him directly knowing it. The getting “choked up” part came about just because I care about people I think it is a raw deal he is getting…that’s just me. Regardless, I set out to do something I should have told him a long time ago, tell him. It may have seemed odd for him and his wife to hear, but what the hell, I’ve never claimed I wasn’t odd in some way, shape or form. In hindsight, I felt like a dork, but whatever.
I wondered why I never mentioned this to him before. All I could come up with is that I needed to keep my race face on whenever I saw him and not give up any power. I really honestly felt I could take him one day, now I’ll never know. One thing that is for sure, it doesn’t matter. In fact, what matters most is that he as served a great purpose in my life whether he knew it or not, causing me to aspire to become better than what I could have been without him as a carrot. I suppose it is a case of “if he could do it so can I” type of thing as I said earlier. I left his house feeling like I made contact with an old friend, sitting around having an informal dinner chatting about old times. It was pretty cool and I HOPE it wasn’t too weird for him to hear how he inspired me. Last thoughts here…I sure wish a cure for MS would become a reality with all the Labor Day millions in research gathered over the years. Last year, I also lost the manager that hired me last year due to MS, it is time a cure came about to battle it down to the levels of a head cold. What a great thing this would be with Labor Day just passing about a week ago. Besides, it sure would be nice to kick Chris’s butt in a triathlon at least one time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blue Seventy Rocks!

Just got back from a 50K ride with aero position intervals, upon returning there was a box on the doorstep. It was my Blue Seventy Kit for Hawaii Ironman Championships in less than 5 weeks! Talk about a sweet suit! The Point Zero 3.0+ fit like a glove & the mirrored goggles should be awesome for the hot Kona sun. Maybe I'll have to test drive it out to the Coffees of Hawaii raft floating in Kailua Bay, I'll be able to get there quicker now at least, and in style. If you haven't checked it out, go to KK'S POST tab on my website: for the latest post.

Also, congratulations to Dr. Molly Craven of Michigan, on her new baby. Molly is an ex-girlfriend that has always been an awesome person to stay in touch with, and all around good human being. An athlete herself and former kick-butt cross country skier, Molly offed to Med School and met up with an army doctor, got hitched and is now practicing in lower Michigan. She went for her dream and is now living it. Way to go Molly!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What are you WAITING for?

If you don't stand around to wait for things to happen, you will surely always know what "could be". For those that stand around, waiting for others, you'll always wonder what "could have been". Initiative. It's what transforms dreams and desire into progress and ultimately, success. Whether you wonder if beginning an adventure towards some human performance that is seemingly insurmountable or even starting a business, or breaking away from your current job to see if you float or flop in one of these endeavors, it only happens with initiative. Recently, a name popped up on a forum I hadn't heard in a while. An old arch-rival from Michigan who was heads & tails above anyone in the state in triathlon back around 1990. I'll call him thing I remember was his side-kick Gene (his coach), and this guy's 1 large chain ring (no small ring) at Leon's QEM Triathlon National Championships in Hammond, Indiana. A few things I recall about his bike was that he used Gommatalia tires, his chosen "best" tire out there. Not sure why these odd details of his bike stood out, but one other thing I recall is a top female triathlete named Mellisa Patterson who was on the cover of Triathlete Magazine once. That's about all I recall other than it being the race I first heard of "Tim & Tony Deboom" in the tri world. This was my first really big adventure into top level competition, which led to bigger races. Amongst them, Hawaii Ironman.

I flew out to Hawaii with my brother to see what this Ironman thing was all about. Never would I have even thought about going there if it weren't for "Kenny" my arch rival. He tried to win this little local race, and just couldn't do it. He tried year after year, and became frustrated. On a cool down run with him at this local race in 1993 or 1994, he talked about how he one day wanted to do the Hawaii Ironman. He explained a little bit more about it as I was just a short course guy in the start. It sparked an interest & then I wanted to check it out--soon. I was hooked when I was there with energy crackling in the air at every turn of the corner. Mark Allen won that year I went to watch...his last win. I set out to qualify for this Ironman thing for the following year. Seeing the race in person really prepares you mentally for not only the conditions, but the level you realize you need to get to in order to compete with the best in the world. It took a lot of time, daily consistency in training, and laser beam focus for another year. I'm convinced that once you figure the formula out--even can do it again. The problem is so many do it once and don't have the drive, energy & focus needed to not only get to that original level, but beyond their original level. Each year competition becomes more difficult in our sport of triathlon. Each year you must not settle for a past fitness level, because it won't take you very far. If you see yourself sliding, further and further, wondering why the field has passed you by, it is because the others around you have actually found or re-kindled that passion and desire you once had in search of that goal. They would have never been able to leapfrog you in the results standing if it weren't for that one seed which takes our dreams to reality...that seed that takes reality to levels of legend...that seed called...INITIATIVE. So why are you sitting here reading this...? Get out there and train...get off the couch or out of that chair and START whatever it is that you have packed away in the back of your mind and bring your dreams into the real world.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sport of Solitude

Triathlon in general is a social sport. Master’s swimming, group rides & runs, track sessions…they all can be a place to meet others and create a solid foundation for friendship or otherwise. Cross over into the side of the sport called Ironman and the tables can take you for a ride quite opposite of that which makes up the social side of the sport. Breaking the wall between the two is tough, with the extensive doses of training required, suffering through long and lonely hours can keep one from seeing the light—or it can become the light.
So involved can our sport become, and more specifically, Ironman—it can be something of a comforting “friend” for those looking for escape from other realities of life. It is no surprise that the physical attractiveness of the average triathlete is a draw for some. There is also no surprise that Ironman athletes have the highest divorce rate of any sport (note that ALL of the “Big 4” have been divorced). Athletes need to turn inward and become self-absorbed to an extent in order to achieve the seemingly (at times) insurmountable task of preparing to race 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and then run a full marathon. A spouse must be able to willingly fully support and understand this or else it can become something that erodes a relationship. It can be a sport that provides the very chemicals one needs to battle bouts of depression, or recourse from unhealthy relationships for an athlete. I have worked with athletes that feel comfort from the loneliness that takes you for a ride while getting ready for an Ironman competition. Part of that is because people in the sport know that the long hours provide the endorphins that make them feel good, even when other things in life aren’t. For the athlete not involved in a relationship and hoping to get involved, they may be striking out in

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Art of REAL Coaching

With the Tour done, finally the TV isn’t a distraction—so that means now it is time to rise up and get out the door with only 10 weeks to Kona. I qualified at Ironman Coeur d’ Alene for the 13th time in my life…only this time I actually took the slot to Hawaii. Normally I would pass on it (but marked on the application I was competing for a slot), as it has been about seven or eight years since I had been there. After the last two disastrous seasons with declining training, declining results and increasing pain, 2009 became a mission of redemption or acceptance. For starters, I did not accept my 2008 April race at Ironman Arizona as being my fate from there on. It was a PW (Personal Worst) race, though I thought I had prepared fairly well given the fact I was in constant pain—especially on the bike. The only thing actually making it feel better was to do nothing, which I did a lot of up until about January of 2008. A crash course in high volume training normally would bring things around but this time it was to no avail.

I contemplated not racing for a few years after Ironman Arizona, so at that time, it was a matter of healing before getting back at it. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a new procedure that allowed me to heal to a certain degree—come back fairly strong and prepare to tackle another Ironman only seven months post-surgery. It was one of those competitor things that just happens, we never want to give in to the obvious. It is always train, train, train, when we should be seeking out the real issues of injury. I have had the opportunity to work with two interesting athletes this year, both who are very talented yet will not be able to realize their true potential unless they a) stop b) heal. There isn’t a valid reason to keep pushing until the problems get fixed, simple as that. Healing takes longer if you are trying to heal and train at the same time. Sometimes light exercise helps healing along, depends on the hand you are dealt with. One of these athletes has so many problems that he would be best doing nothing else but swimming and aqua jogging. Yet, he has a fall and winter schedule he wants to compete in even while he doesn’t know what is causing the pain for sure. This is an example of complete disconnect with reality and could cause permanent damage. Luckily, I was able to find a fix to my hip issues and bounce back, but should have taken my own advice here and just stepped away for a time. This athlete has been told to step away by me on more than one occasion. Finally, (thank God!) he did…but will resume shortly with a fairly full schedule and forge on. He needs to just step away at this time all together and focus his training on his recovery instead.

Another athlete of mine, crashed on her bike up in the mountains and when asked what I thought she should do from this point (recently)…I told her to step away. It does not one ounce of good to push through injury, while still trying to prepare for an A-race. Heal, then go at it again. That is all there is to it in all three of our cases. Experience teaches you a lot about being a coach. Coaching gives you a lot of experience. This works both ways and the result is always the same, a dependable and wise source of information. Sharing information and teaching is largely what coaches do in their profession. Sharing is the key here…when you do this for a living, then the motivation becomes less about sharing and more about the dollars they can rake in. Not that coaching is that good a profession to get rich in…but if you don’t share the information, the credit for helping one another and just look out for your own pocket book, it isn’t a profession you should be in. Share because you CARE. About the athletes, about the sport, and use that experience to help others become their best. Be honest with them and strengthen the sport rather than trying to monopolize it with marketing and cheap gimmicky words of wisdom. Believe in the athletes and the profession. I say to all coaches out there…remember the real reason you got into coaching and the sport. It was because you love the sport and your experience to improve not only yourself but the wealth of knowledge in hopes of sharing it someday for the sake of helping others. At least that is what the REAL coaches and athletes I know got into the sport for. Keep it real, keep it honest.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A month beyond IM CDA

Well busy isn't the word I'd use to describe the last month since Ironman CDA. Since qualifying for my 13th Hawaii Ironman (*competed in 7 of them--passed the qualifying spot on the others down the ladder)...I've been busy doing things I'd normally save for a rainy day. To keep from going nuts from training very little, I've redirected my energy into painting, yardwork, family time, and projects that just weren't getting done in big training blocks. I hope to add photos by the next blog entry, but downloading the camera seems to even take time I don't have right now. Heading back into training slowly will be painful, but luckily if anything, the healing from last month should be complete. Mentally I'm ready to roll, physically, being a slug with sparse training has caused a bit of a sluggishness in the system as my watts during riding have been very low. There is this residual fatigue I've been sensing on the bike since CDA, but the wattage has been slowly returning this past week to near normal levels. I got in a good interval session with the Cervelo boys who were in Longmont from the Cervelo HQ in Canada. They were all here for a gathering with store owners showing off goods in a pre-Interbike like presentation. I guess the Cervelo P4 will actually come in some pretty cool colors this next year besides plain black & white. Not sure on that yet, but I seem to be sort of over the P4 & looking at a few other models for a new bike. Some companies have caught up & surpassed Cervelo I think in technology as they've incorporated all that Cervelo learned in wind tunnel testing & then have improved on it to create some of the coolest bikes out there. One of which, the new Specialized, Giant, and Trek TT machines. The Speed Concept looks to be far superior in nearly every aspect I've seen. To top it off, none of these bikes have a "dork bottle" that the P4 has. Never did like the bottle to begin with.

On another front, Kudos goes out to Max, an athlete of mine who just won his AG at the Cabbage Head Du, and won the Mile High Duathlon Series in his AG. He race 4 weekends in a row, with IM training during the week, no taper, and is still kicking butt. These are just speed sessions for him, in his quest for IM AZ results. He's been rocking it all summer long as is a hungry pit hopefully the stars will align for him this time around in AZ. He's doing better than any year previous. It takes some time for a coach/athlete to get wired into each other so that everything is clicking. More than that, it takes a dedicated athlete that does ALL the work put to them by the coach, believes in the program, has un-ending drive, and communicates in detail their training logs so the coach isn't guessing what the heck the athlete is doing or performing like week to week. This cat exemplifies every aspect of a serious triathlete looking to get to Hawaii for Ironman. No excuses from this guy, he will get the plan & JUST DO IT. Like Nike says in their ads.

As for what I've been doing since IM CDA, I went to my parent's for the 4th of July & hopped in a 5km race only 12 days after IM CDA. I was surprised to win the race (over 200 racers), in 16:04 on a GPS'd accurate course--and set the course record. It must have been the sea level altitude or still being on a "peak" from IM CDA because that sure was a pretty good go at it so soon after IM averaging 5:17 per mile. Of course now back home & sitting for a spell, I went on a 8 miler today and about blew a gasket with high HR and slow pace (must be either the sitting around, altitude, or the fact it was about 90 F). Either way, I have to get back in the saddle again. Oh I certainly am looking forward to the many miles of sweating & consuming sugar gels & sugar water and my Salt Stick tabs along the way. I think my reward post-Hawaii will be something like this...two pc. white toast, mayo, 6-8 slices of bacon, cheddar...drop the L & the T. Wash it down with a giant glass of O.J. or milk. Sounds nasty, but hey, you have to reward yourself for all the discipline with a good old fashioned heart-attack-snack right? Then a short rest & get ready for 2010 season a.s.a.p. Happy Training!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ironman CDA Race Report

The long road back from a two year long injury to prepare for this journey began back in November 2008. A PRP injection started the ball rolling; it is a new treatment for chronic injury that doesn’t heal much on its own. At 162 lbs, all my pants were tight and belts were no longer needed. My past racing diet held me to around 153 lbs. on average for Ironman fitness, but 162 lbs to start with was something beyond that which I had ever reached starting a training cycle. I knew that the days of poor eating had to stop right then with relentless focus and execution, consistency and mental preparation. Family support became essential for the upcoming half a year, knowing I would be around less on the weekends training substantial amounts (for me) for many weeks. Ironman and succeeding at it takes such vast resources physically, emotionally, financially, mentally…it isn’t for the faint of heart. I made the commitment after my worst Ironman time ever in Arizona back in April 2008; it was time to get that old feeling back in the legs. I narrowed the waistline down to a svelte 143-145 lbs, while maintaining my power numbers with my power meter—actually increased the numbers to a degree compared to last year. Never before have I raced at such a light weight. This was the lightest I had been since high school as a senior. I’ve fought off a 2 month+ stress fracture in the same place/foot as when I ran in college and then used just under 2 months prior to this race, to attempt to get some sort of run fitness back. The layoff concerned me, but I focused on cycling/swimming instead.

I left on Thursday the week of the race, scheduled to depart at 5:55 PM. Checking if the flight times changed online, my wife told me the flight was cancelled and I was put on a later 9:35 PM flight instead. Then it was delayed until 9:55, and then delayed again until 9:57 and again until 10 PM. This concerned me as I needed to pick up my car rental and drive to CDA, 45 minutes away and I would be getting in late. The other issue was the airport car rentals closed at midnight. We sat on the runway for 35 minutes after taxiing, or 10:45 PM. It was around a 1:45 flight time with an hour roll back due to time zone change. We landed at 11:56 PM but didn’t get off the plane until around 12:05. Luckily, the car rental folks stayed open knowing there was a plane just landing. I ate one of those egg salad sandwiches in a sealed plastic Saran-Wrap-like container and drank a Gatorade from an all night open gas station on Barker Rd. Nothing else was open off of highway 90 through Spokane aside from a Carl Jrs. The egg salad sandwich actually wasn’t that bad—the nutrition report on the side of the package showed it was well within my new “healthy” diet. La Quinta Inn in CDA was a $139/night noise machine; I slept 4 hours and heard the neighbor peeing a dozen times in the next room throughout the night. I promptly checked out that morning and went to the Best Western a block away, as they had a block of rooms cancelled. This was a really nice place, but it was $179/night. It was worth it though, as I rested very, very well and was totally relaxed. With the room all to me and no noise bothering me at all, it was a good night of sleep. A friend from Boulder, oddly enough, was staying just THREE doors down from where I was on the same floor. Maybe the folks at the front desk knew we planned on getting together anyhow as we attended the race “solo”? So we chummed around for the next day, ate breakfast together, hit the expo. Good stuff. Then I ran into Bill, a fast guy I am coaching and another gal from Boulder (who unfortunately DNF’d due to serious back issues)—Laurie (who was there signing up for 2010). Bill had an extra room so invited me to stay there with him, Laurie, and sister Madonna Buder. I stayed with them the next two nights so they were my room mates for the key days up to the race. Really I hadn’t expected to stay in three different places the first three nights. But if you do sign up for CDA, rent a house—it is economical compared to the hotels, and above all don’t get a room at the La Quinta Inn off of Hwy 90 on Apple Way…it’s a noisy, expensive dump and you will regret it!

I never did get a swim in before the race due to time constraints. The weather was quite cold (I heard it was 60 F as a high on race day—a bit cool by 2 to 4 degrees I think), but I still only used toe warmers and regular warm weather race outfit on the bike. No gloves or anything, or arm warmers…I took a chance in that I left my Craft long sleeve thermal base layer in my T1 bag banking on luck the weather would hold. Cold weather races suit me better for some reason—I guess because I come from a colder climate originally. It stayed dry did but was very, very windy with 4 foot waves. The swim was extremely slow and the roughest water they’ve had there with 15 mph winds. I laughed during much of the swim and had a good old time having waves go under me, disappear then dropping me straight down with a body slam back into the water. Many swimmers were being pulled from the water from what the post-race video of rescue boats showed. People were getting motion sick to their stomach swimming. The key was to smile, laugh, stay relaxed and just deal with it. Get worked up and it is wastes energy you need for later in the race. Conserve during the swim, steady on the bike while monitoring calorie/liquid consumption, and power numbers as well as mph, then try to hold it together on the run. The plan was anything left with 10Km on the run was going to be dished out in full. I exited the swim feeling like I really didn’t just swim 2.4 miles; it was almost TOO easy despite the conditions. Someone said I had around the 14th fastest swim in my age group but I don’t know, didn’t look it up yet. Out of nearly 362 in my AG, that is pretty good for screwing around having a “tour” out there.

The bike was a bit different as this was the bane of my training/racing the last two years and caused me the most misery training from the pain level. My time wasn’t that impressive with a 5:22 compared to the 5:05-5:15 most the other guys were doing in the top 10 of my AG. But it was all I could muster without destroying my chances for a good run. I was counting bikers at the first turn around, where I was in 74th place overall. I was with the eventual AG winner Brett Sublett for the first 56 miles, and then dropped off on the second lap quite a bit. Brett was so far in front after the bike my top AG run time couldn’t dent his lead too much aside from 5 minutes…however, take away those mentioned pee breaks during the race and I would have been staring right at his back coming down the finish chute. It didn’t matter though, my mission was accomplished, and I finished the run while running the entire thing. Plus, I captured my 13th Hawaii Ironman qualification. After this race, I would say I pretty much have qualifying for Hawaii Ironman figured out, while holding a full time job and with a kid. This is something I think most coaches can’t say they can do (despite some claiming to be specializing in training Ironmen)…so it is something I can pass onto my athletes on how to do this. Qualifying for Kona while holding together a real life and with responsibilities isn’t easy. Finding a balance in life while not having to forfeit everything to get to Kona is often a tough medicine to swallow. But you do have to do your work and stay focused, unwavering in your determination. In my situation, the extra support of my wife made a huge difference too (thanks honey!)

I ended up with over 3,000 miles cycling since November, so these were numbers beyond what I was used to training. However, since I wasn’t running, I had a little time to bike more. The cycling still was not at a point where I was 100% satisfied for this race, but it was enough to come off the bike and finish with the fastest AG run of the day. While my time was 9:43 and change for a hilly and windy course, I was a little over-hydrated on race day. The first stop was T1, had to pee. Same went for T2, peed before running. On the bike, I pulled off around mile 60-something and used the porta-potty at an aid station. On the run I pulled over FIVE times and counted 1-one thousand, 2-one-thousand, etc. until I hit 40. Yep, 40 before I stopped. Total time lost there was 45 seconds (getting in and out of the potty actually takes a couple seconds, not to mention losing your momentum). Each stop was 40-45 seconds each time…sometimes you just have to count so you know what you’re actually losing. Long and short of it is I ended up losing 2nd place in the AG due to peeing and quite a few overall spots as there were many athletes just a couple minutes in front of me. I know it sounds uncouth, but the reality is, if you’ve ever raced with a full bladder you know how distracting it can be, if not just from discomfort. My marathon run time was actually 3:07-3:08 taking out the bathroom breaks…and I was far from tapped out on pace. I can run faster—maybe next year? Around 9 miles left in the run I felt a little “woozy” so started immediately on pretzels for the salt, which did not help much. Next plan was to take in anything that had high calories, so in thinking what they had at aid stations, I determined chocolate chip cookies and de-fizzed cola were my best options for my caloric deficit. The caffeine would most undoubtedly have an effect. It brought me back a bit so I calculated with one final turn around point, that I was sitting in about 4th to 5th place with only 4.75 miles to go according to the race numbers I saw at the turn around points. I knew one guy was “Sean” something so I looked at the numbers on the back of the legs of the athletes to identify anyone in my AG. My mission was to hunt this cat down and pass him—which I did with around 2 miles left in the race. This is the only time I went top speed on the run, knowing I had to catch a few people in order to podium but still needing to be able to conserve enough to complete the run while actually running the entire thing.

There was an old “pay back” settled on this day, in that a rather excellent athlete and head coach of another coaching business from California…finished behind me (we’re now 1-1). I’ll call him Military Guy or MG for short. This is the same cat that took first at Ironman Brazil in my AG a few years ago. I raced Brazil with a slight sprained ankle that year finishing only 20 seconds behind him for third place, with a guy from Italy sandwiched 16 seconds ahead of me and only 4 seconds behind MG. MG had passed me near the end on a steep downhill which I had to pull up on pace due to the sprain. To which I never caught him but was closing fast.

MG was behind me the entire bike at IM CDA until I pulled over on the bike to use the porta-potty. So when I saw him at one turn around on the bike and he was behind me, then saw him again on the run and he was ahead—I knew my breaks allowed him to pass without knowing it. When I caught him at around three miles into the run, I knew he was going to have to “pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down” if he was going to keep pace. I was watching his cadence and it looked a little labored but wisely conservative. I was so relaxed and just cruising without hardly any effort…even looking at a few nice houses along the lakeshore in admiration before regaining focus on the task at hand. Seriously though, my concentration was above normal for a race in my opinion—doing everything I “preach” to those athletes I coach on race day. I kept tabs on MG but he eventually finished about 7 minutes down on me…not including what “could” have been without the breaks. That would have made the run difference between us a full 11 minutes. But still, I respect the guy as he may have just had an off day. Just a little friendly competition but heck, it makes for a dramatic race!

When I rode with Dave Scott before his accident a little over a month ago, he asked what my expectation or goals were for the race. It was merely to finish the race without walking—which I did. Sure, I wanted to finally get back to Kona for my 13th qualification/8th time racing it. Ultimately, I would like to PR before I get too old to break it. While I do not do well at all in the heat, especially in Kona, I feel I can do it if I work hard enough. I will be racing myself only—not even attempting to compete specifically with even any local athletes who did well at IM CDA or others. The goal is clear: go faster than my current Kona PR. If it happens, great, if not, I tried to the best of my ability. There is always another race next year, never give up on your dreams or goals. It’s up to you…How_Far_Do_You_Want_To_Take_It?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pre-Ironman CDA 2009

It's not every day that I get to sit around & just read the internet(s) ala "W". However, I find that there is a lot out there that just zipps in & zipps out on the news pages. One thing I find time consuming is reading the online tri rags and cycling rags. It just seems too non-productive to deal with in a day that is full of job & family responsibilities, as well as trying to stave off the extra calories we all seem to accumulate if we treat ourselves a bit too much. Luckily, I've been the opposite this season and have done an excellent job with nutrition on a daily basis. I have been on top of the information super highway a bit more as well. Call it a willingness to make a concerted effort to avoid the "sin box" even though it is 1080i HD.

I just finished watching IM NZ 2009 on DVR, the only full show I've watched in a while. NZ was my first out of country experience and the Kiwis put on a race like no other save for the US military. This is one race I'd like to go back & compete in again--simply wonderful people down on that island, with a passsion for sport. That same passion wanes in athletes from time to time as we encounter this--that--and various other things life tosses our way. One thing I am finding for sure though is that passion never leaves us for good. It is always there, sometimes hidden, or put away to slumber for a few years, then it returns. I've seen old rivals come back after 10 years of layoff from the sport, driven and reborn, picking up where they left off or faster than they were when they took their leave. This is one thing I am trying to come to grips with--it just feels like I want to get back into the swing of things again because I miss being in good shape. I am now a full 9 lbs lighter than when I was racing at my best. Not to say I will race well or even finish for that matter, but Ironman CDA is only 5 days away and surely the better nutrition will have left me capable of at least not being slowed by extra weight. Heck, it's been since high school that I weighed this little--lighter than at any point in college even. Will it be good for racing or will it be TOO light? Either way, I am enjoying the consistency in training again, nearly 3 years after our little boy was born. It is nice to get out and just give it a go one more time at an Ironman. Happy father's day to all those fathers out there!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pro Triathletes in the Bolder Boulder

Got the chance to see World Ironman Champion Chrissy Wellington in action at the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day. Pictures are attached. I have a few others I'm posting may have heard of a guy named Matt Reed (went to the Olympics in triathlon this last time around)...he's actually a Kiwi transplanted to the USA. Some other guy who is named Tim Luschinske (for World Amateur Ironman Champion) is posted in the red top (sorry I cut your head off in the photo Timmy! It was hard to see others in the crowd, especially when they are running so fast. Congrats to one of my athletes that I coach, Max. He beat World Champion Chrissy by 15 seconds...just 2 days after he hammered out 124 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing on the bike with me. He's in the white jersey surrounded by runners smiling & making it look easy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Choosing the right shoes...

For weeks now I have been toiling over which new pair of racing shoes to buy. It is a personal decision and nothing to take lightly as the chosen pair will be used in an upcoming Ironman. For quite a few years I had been using the Brooks ST Racer—a lightweight and stable racing flat. It has a low arch and low toe box, plenty of room up in the toe area. Maybe it was being tired of the same shoe, sometimes they were great and other times I thought there should be a change in my footwear in an attempt to find something that was just better—period. Before the Brooks ST Racer I was sold on the Adidas Competition shoe. Lightweight but not a stability shoe, it served its purpose for several Ironman races and shorter races as well…including a 5km this spring.

I’m a bit particular about my racing shoes, so the search began many weeks ago with reading upon the models, features, reviews, materials used…anything to help narrow down the final few. Long story shorter it came down to the Adidas Mana, Adidas Tempo and New Balance 904. At this time I can’t really recall how many times I was about to sit down at the computer and order a pair of one of these online. Bolder-Boulder weekend I went to the most popular store in town where they had a huge tent sale. I tried on the Mana model, it just didn’t work. Too floppy and not supportive enough though claimed as a support racer model…then the Tempo (suggested to me by a co-owner of the store), it felt good. The week before I was at another store in town where I tried on the NB 904, which also felt good. Thank goodness for all the reviews on the web to research this daunting task, they helped put me in a place of indecision for a few more days until I could regain some sort of rational thought pattern on how to break this “tie” between the 904 & Tempo models. The thing I could come up with is that since these shoes were to be for my upcoming Ironman, how could I best feel how they would feel near the end of the race without actually having to buy a pair of these shoes?

Today was my last day as a “30-something” so the best thing to do with a little over three weeks left was to complete my last longish-like run (not super long but long enough). The plan was to get cleaned up and head straight to the two stores and try on the Tempo and 904 then run on the treadmill a bit in each pair. Right away the Adidas Tempo felt good on foot standing still, but on a treadmill after a quarter mile, the effects of my long run left my feet hyper sensitive and well aware of any potential hot spots. The seam on the inside of the big toe of each shoe (especially the one with the newly formed blister), stuck out like a sore thumb. The fatigue of the long run also left me a bit wobbly legged, and really put any stability or support the shoe was built with, to the test. Stack 112 miles on top of what I ran and we’re talking jell-O legs. The final analysis for the Tempo: No good for me to use in an Ironman.

Onto the next store. Upon slipping into the New Balance 904, then jogging another quarter mile on yet another treadmill, it was apparent that these were the winners. With a seamless liner, fancy non-slip laces, light weight (9.7 oz), not to mention a secure heel support and stability equal to the best racing flat I have used to date. Time will tell if it actually surpasses the “best” racer I’ve used, but regardless, the long daunting task has been completed. That’s one more item off the list of things to do!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Sitting on a saddle for five or six hours will make a man wince in areas unbeknownst to our counterpart gender. It will also force you to reflect and wince on some rather poor decisions you have made, decisions you need to make, or decisions you’d just rather not deal with. Some of my best thinking is done while on a long solo bike ride, as is rediscovering what it is that makes people and/or events so important to me. Health. This is certainly a reason I got into triathlons. I was an elite cross country skier at one time (now just a shadow of that skier—rarely racing even at a local level…as in once every three years or so). Before that I was a runner but only mediocre until I discovered triathlons where my running took a huge leap. Swimming…nope…biking…just a bit. It took triathlon to spur the curiosity in me to unravel the mystery of a three discipline sport, with many, many (sometimes seemingly way to many) miles and hours absorbing the chlorine filled water. Often times, my bottom was so sore from sitting on a narrow uncomfortable saddle that I didn’t even want to sit on a couch. Other times, my quads were so hammered from long runs that were absolutely needed to establish the level required to be competitive, that it seemed like a mindless and unnecessary act of foolishness. Through it all, a certain standard had been established by which I could return at any time to a state of mental retreat.

Not only was this a way of turning myself inside out and hiding from those decisions I was faced with, it was also a quiet confession time for and with myself to admit my true inner feelings on subjects with one person only. Feeling I was the only one that really was 100% trustworthy not to laugh, mock, or try to argue towards side or the other, my confessions were 100% safe and reliable. You know how someone can toss their opinion out there or present questions that are slanted one way or another? Not this way. Sport allows me to say what I want, even out loud (without anyone around), about any subject, person, or view from either side of the pro (or con) aspect of any situation without offending anyone (primarily because nobody else is around!) That said, it allows things to “soak” and find the best possible answers without any influence from any outside source or interference. 100% my decision. This way, I can take 100% responsibility of success (or failure) for whatever it was. What is it that these decisions are in reality? Speaking in tongues about something that I don’t want to say on a blog? Actually…nope. It is in reference to the fact that we have a lot of junk in our lives that we deal with each day. Things that we have to or don’t want to think or act upon, even if an outcome can be positive or negative. The discomfort of what we deal with in training for sport can fade away the mental pain barrier of those life decisions to a point where we can think more clear. The physical pain becomes the focus and the junk that normally clouds our thought process allows ideas to float freely and in the end, a logical resolution develops and we are left with the happy notion that this resolution is correct. Correct and all our own. In summary, I have concluded that I will go with the Adidas Mana rather than the New Balance 904 running shoe—it took a long time and research to get here, but that is it. Not exactly the earth shattering tug-of-war decision you thought I was toiling with is it? Happy trails~!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The latest from Boulder...

It has been sometime since my last post with all the “craziness” going on as the summer winds up. Between projects around the house, coaching, travel, the “day” job, planning out 2010 from all aspects of these…seems like a blog has just had to take a back seat for a bit. On one front, I am pleased to announce that Colorado Multisport is now the preferred bike shop of my coaching company Gemini Multisport. The experts at “anything triathlon” has chosen me as their pilot “ambassador” for many reasons which seem to parallel their company’s growth goals with Gemini’s. It will be great to work with them on multiple levels in the future, as both of our companies continue to grow at a healthy and sustainable pace. If you need anything related to multisport—from building or rebuilding bikes, an overhaul, top notch bike fits, nutrition or equipment in general—these folks have it or can get it for you. This shop is run by pro triathletes and serve the greater Boulder area. World Champions shop & stop in on a regular basis…in fact, I saw Greg & Laura Bennett there just last summer. Stop in, say hi, and tell them I sent you.

In other news…the big 4.0. is coming up quick in just a few short weeks. Looking rearward to when I was younger (say 20’s or early 30’s), 40 just seemed soo…soooo…old. Not that it really is now that I’m nearly there, but dang, it sure did seem that way. I feel the years each morning, stronger and stronger each time I get out of bed. Could be keeping up with the toddler or just battle damage from the years gone by. One thing I am thrilled about is the chance to get into a new age group. The Master’s age group. It should be an advantage for me for a few years anyhow, so I welcome it with open arms. Finally ditched those young punks in my 35-39 age group for a few years—ha! But there are the fast 40-somethings to contend with now…doh! I’m up for the change, the new competition and the unknown of how or when things will transpire the next few years with Father Time starting to take his stranglehold on the mortal self.

On the world scene, it sounds as if things are slowly shifting in the employment arena for those who are out of work. If this is you, hang on as long as you can, help will be on its way. It takes money to create money, and the economy was in such a wreck the last decade that it will take a lot of infrastructure to bring back jobs to the US. It will take some tough decisions by the government to weed out the crooked CEOs & CFOs of so many financial institutions—but things will get better. We’ll see more businesses disappear, more foreclosures, higher unemployment rates, but what is lost will be gained back on the other end with increases in other sectors. I just saw a report that said the last quarter showed a 3% increase in construction spending. Housing construction is even continuing right in my own neighborhood. They are building a new subdivision just a mile away in Boulder (didn’t think there was any room in town to build—but they plowed under a horse grazing field). Denver Metro area was named one of the top FIVE places for job growth recently in an article I read, with growth centering around the hi-tech and telecommunications sector. Sounds like a plan to me!

Onto my athletes…one athlete of mine just finished Wildflower, and felt he met or exceeded his expectations he set considering the course & a back locking up on him. Another local athlete, is about to toe the line in a duathlon, which will be his first race of the year. Another, is about to tackle the 70.3 in Clearwater. Yet another—is doing a century ride/race this coming weekend. The others…training for races down the road a bit later in the summer. Yessiree-bob…things are coming along swimmingly this season, and hopefully this year will be as fruitful in results for my athletes as last year was. Last season ended with a bang with three athletes PR’ing in the Ironman distance…not by a little—but by a LOT. It is nice to have athletes like these so dedicated and wanting to do ALL the work. I’ve worked with some in the past who were big talkers in the beginning, but then didn’t end up doing the work needed to succeed. Right now, I have the kind of athletes I like to work with—Bulldogs. They take whatever comes their way head on, no whining, and executing my plan to perfection. That is what makes this roster I have right now a group of winners. To future Gemini Multisport athletes…if you want over-the-top coaching & attention and are willing to do the work necessary, let’s talk. For the excuse makers and whiners…you need not apply. In triathlon the “big talk” gets you nowhere, action will get you everywhere.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some People Can't Ride Rant

There are a few things that I just don’t understand about some bikers. Take a wide bike lane along the highway for example, place two cyclists side by side with a faster biker coming up behind them. The overtaking cyclist yells, “On your left!” Remember, the two other bikers are obviously riding together and chatting, completely closing off the bike lane. The attempt to overtake is foiled briefly, as he has to slam on the brakes because nobody is moving over, and he would be forced into the lane of auto traffic. “On your LEFT!” bellows the faster biker again. “Thank you!” said one of the cyclists, who is nearest the auto traffic (without moving over).

What is wrong with this picture? Do the socializing cyclists honestly think someone just wanted to tell them they were coming up behind them? No! The lack of cycling education out there on the roads is sometimes dangerous, as the rules of the road and the sport seem totally oblivious to some. The cyclist should have heard the warning and followed into formation single file with the other cyclist and let the overtaking cyclist go by.

Take another example, yet two more cyclists riding side by side. The same warning by the overtaking cyclist was given. The rider closest to the auto traffic is wavering all over the road, given multiple warnings of an attempted pass directly behind both cyclists. Neither acknowledged the encounter, or attempt to move over despite no wind being present. The faster cyclist attempts to pass but has to move out and around them after checking traffic from behind. The wavering cyclist on the left makes a huge zig-zag forcing the overtaking cyclist out into the middle of the auto traffic lane. Again, these people need a basic riding on the road rules class before they seriously push someone out into traffic that could end in a death. BOTH of these situations happened to me this past weekend on the very same ride, and shows that even in the cycling town of Boulder, some folks just shouldn’t be out on the road until they learn a few basics. Let’s review a few of those…

1) Stay to the RIGHT.
2) When someone yells, “On your left!” Move over to the farthest right possible, because they are trying to pass you on your LEFT.
3) When riding side by side, especially on commonly used cycling roads, be aware of your position so as to not block the entire lane, which could endanger other cyclist.
4) If you are not able to ride your bike in a straight line, don’t ride on heavily trafficked areas until you do, you may just be endangering others as well as your life.
5) Learn proper hand signals for left and right turns, stopping, and pointing out debris on the road for other riding behind you.
6) Do NOT ride looking down at your pedals. If you can’t hold your head up long enough to ride a relatively straight line, work on strengthening your neck muscles before taking to the road—cyclists don’t want someone riding their bikes like they are drunk—it could prove fatal.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2009 Hawaii Ironman preview

New Faces and Old Champions of Hawaii Ironman

Where to start…wow, Chrissie Wellington’s near half an hour win over second place at Ironman Australia leaves me void of words to describe exactly what is the driving key to
such super human performances since she has arrived on Ironman circuit. I suppose the only thing I can muster up to describe it is…way to go, the rest of the gals need to step it up a whole lot. What is the answer to Chrissie and how to topple her at Ironman distance? She has gone undefeated in her first six Ironman races, and now finishing 13th overall even amongst a deep field of pro men in Australia…she is now poised to take over Heather Fuhr’s long list of Ironman overall wins in a just a few short years. Should she keep up this tempo for the next few years, given she would maintain her dominance much like the aging Natascha Badman in Hawaii, she stands to break the all time Queen of Kona’s record not just in time, but overall wins. That honor belongs to the immeasurable Paula Newby Fraser.

PNF as she is known around the world is by far Ironman’s most dominating and legendary figure, with whom I have emailed on occasion and chatted with in person many times. In fact, she stayed at my wife’s house when wifey was growing up, while racing up in Canada through a Home-stay program for visiting professional triathletes. Whether or not PNF’s times will fall is not a question of if, but when. With the onslaught of newer more aerodynamic bikes and materials, helmets, nutrition, etc, someone is bound to go faster in Kona. It is the Holy Grail not just to win Hawaii, but to take down PNF’s record. Can Chrissie be the one to take the mantle from PNF and Natasha? Michele Jones and Natasha are bound to have something to say about it this October for sure.

Michele Jones, undoubtedly the most decorated all around female triathlete in the history of the sport. Sure she won Kona, but there was no Chrissie in the pro ranks, and Natasha had a not-so-good day. Don’t discount her, Michele knows how to win, but she doesn’t seem (as does anyone) to be in the same time zone as Chrissie. Natasha is the aging current active Queen of Kona, having bad luck the last few years. Natasha’s downfall is her running and swimming. While she may be able to bike faster than Chrissie on most days, getting left behind in the swim to play catch up will tax her for the run, which is Chrissie’s strength. The scale tips to Chrissie, who has an all-around solid swim/bike/run game. October is quite a ways off and much can happen during the race or leading up to it.

It remains to be seen what excitement comes down the line for the lineup of superstars of our sport in October, the early season races usually have no bearing on the Big Dance as far as predictions. Chrissie has moved to this very city I live in…Boulder, Colorado, under the guidance of 5-time World Champ Simon Lessing. Simon no doubt has a master plan to answer the call of whether or not he can match up with Sutto’s (Brett Sutton) magic of preparing elite athletes. One thing is for sure, someone will have to perform on an alien-like level to find an answer to Chrissie Wellington…she appears unstoppable right now with no answers on the horizon.

Props to Tim DeBoom for his 8:39 performance in Ironman Australia! Nice to see you back in the saddle again. Let’s hope he continues his comeback to the ranks of the podium in time for Kona. He’s still hungry, and he’s still wicked fast—on a good day he is as good as the best…Macca…Norman…he’s proven it twice. Last I checked as of this writing, that is one more time than Macca—the sometimes proclaimed best triathlete in the world.

Launching into the men’s discussion, Macca is very accomplished, but he is neither the best Ironman or short course athlete in the world or history. He may have won some championships—but Craig Alexander has too. Any way you chop it up, Craig is every bit the champion Macca is or was—he’s proven it at all distances. The media hops on the Macca band wagon partly because of his outspoken demeanor, whic is his choice and the media’s. But let’s keep things in perspective. Simon Lessing alone has won 5 ITU World Championships, and is the only man to beat Mark Allen in Mark’s last race of his career. Mark Allen has won Hawaii six times in a row himself, as has Dave Scott. Norman Stadler won it twice, so has Luc Van Lierde (with the course record on a more difficult coruse). The answer to Macca has already been found—that answer is any number of athletes toeing the line on Dig Me Beach could take the crown in the end, including 2-time champ Tim DeBoom.

Once known as the best Ironman runner in the sport, Tim DeBoom worked on his run in 2008 while training for the Leadville 100, and stated his run was as good as it ever has been. He can swim 48 minutes or faster in Kailua Bay, then ride in the pack not far off of the uber bikers…and then catch them all on the run if the stars are aligned. Then again, so can Macca and a host of others. My point is, don’t discount the “old guard” because media blitz on colorful athletes. Keep an eye on the quiet ones. Faris was quiet, as was Thomas “Hell on Wheels”—and Norman Stadler. Their voices were not heard, but their actions were seen on race day. The finish line is what these athletes are measured on for the next year for sponsorship and media attention. An athlete can be loud to nab a little media time leading up to the race, or quiet and nab a LOT of media time when you finish first at the Hawaii Ironman in October.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Doping in Sports--is there hope?

Athletic Turning of the Tides

There is a refreshing turn in an old story of doping in sports, with the recent admission from last year’s Tour podium finisher Bernhard Kohl, Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson and Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler. Both have pointed out Stefan Matschiner as a supplier for EPO and other doping products, as has Dr. Andreas Zoubek been named in scandals. I often wonder how even at the age group levels, how many athletes have pushed me down the ranks of results because of possible easy access to pharmaceuticals, not to mention the highly known fact it is very widespread at the professional levels.

What I applaud is Lisa’s coming forward to tell all at her own personal risk, to expose the ring and provide authorities details on how it all works. It certainly seems to be an underground market and black secret you catch a rare glimpse of. I have always been pretty good at forecasting likely “suspects” based off of overnight improvements to levels that seem unlikely. Or, at least, those who appear seemingly from nowhere not just at a amateur level, but a professional level to become top contenders from little more than a background as hikers or lumberjacks. One need to look at the odd physique transformation some become known for in the blink of an eye, to identify that something just isn’t right about that…

As a legitimate sport without the full blown reputation that cycling currently has as one of cheaters, triathlon can only hope there are more Lisa Huetthalers out there who come clean with their conscience and help clean up the sport, even after they themselves have helped to dirty it up. I am in no way condoning doping in triathlon, but it is sport, and there are always those who will try to win no matter what. It happens, in part, because there is a lot at stake for some athletes as far as national or world notoriety, money, as well as helping pull themselves and their family from poverty.
It is not to say all cyclists at the top levels, or triathletes for that matter are cheaters, they’re NOT. But there are a lot of them, just watch the media. Every week someone is getting busted, and it is almost humorous now to see who will get caught this week. Humorous because they caved into something they likely said they would never do when they started the sport, and for what? Glory and money. There is much more to sport than glory and money…things such as spirit of competition, health, social aspects, and adventure. Lisa should pay her dues for what she has done, and while tarnishing the sport, we should maybe look at it in a positive light that she is at least trying to help un-tarnish it some (of course AFTER she got caught…). But at least, we can certainly say she did NOT have to spill the beans, but she did. For that, you have to give her credit where due, even if it is a little bit after the fact. Eventually, maybe that word describing athletics can be used again with pure unadultered meaning…SPORT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cervelo’s New Toy (that will make your friends SUPER JEALOUS!)

Cervelo P4 Test Ride, March 25, 2009

I was amped up to head to the pool today, but wanted to see what sort of aero bars were on the website at Colorado Multisport in Boulder. Alas, I saw it was “Cervelo Demo Days” so on the way to the pool I wanted to stop by and test ride a P3C. Upon walking through the door—in all its glory…was a Cervelo P4 C in a stand, complete with SRAM RED, a Zipp disk and 1080 front. I honestly thought there would only be a “slim” chance of a P4 being there, but was prepared to try a P3 for kicks. When I was told I could test drive it, my eyes lit up and I heard angels singing somewhere above the ceiling tiles of the shop. I think there was also glitter appearing in the air throughout the shop. It just so happened that it was a wicked windy day in Boulder—and the swirling wind made my test drive very scary when crosswinds hit the front 1080 wheel. After dialing in the seat and for/aft position, I felt right at home.

Sure I only test rode it for about a half an hour total, but it was everything they said it would be. They being Cervelo and the critics. I am unsure of how the wicked trick water bottle would work in an Ironman, as the refill hole seems rather small—but it sure looked cool. The bike was stiff from a dead stop to full speed, with no noticeable flex at all. The P4 climbed like a champ up the short hill on Folsom Street (part of the famous Bolder-Boulder 10K race in May), and the SRAM RED shifting was just dead on with each click—but I would also like to try the new shift levers from SRAM that returns to the original position. The click throw is shorter than Shimano indexing, but the SRAM RED carbon cranks were about the most perfectly smooth pedaling I’ve ever had on a bike bar none.

This bike was nearly too much bike for my ability, but heck, it can only help in a race right? What better way to close the gap than with superior equipment. Geoff and Blake at Colorado Multisport were kind enough to discuss options, sizing, set up the bike so it would fit me better with some minor adjustments to make my test ride a truly wonderful experience. Now if this bike only had a pair of those Bontrager prototype time trial bars that Lance has…we’d have something that every triathlete would be jealous of having.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the P4 with the shop, as it was theirs and not mine. Who would pass up an opportunity to ride the legendary P4C though…certainly not me! The one thing I would want to change on the P4, is the cost. $4800 for the frameset (OUCH!)
Lastly, I didn’t get to swim…just weights and the bike ride. Something made me digress from my workout…something wonderful…called the Cervelo P4.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Potato Training

With Cour de Alene on the horizon I figured it was something I should write about today, and reflect on how the common goals of others can bring them all together whether they plan it or not at the oddest times. Saturday I was heading out for a ride and within a mile I came upon a couple cyclists--one of which had a tri bike & 3 bottles, so I asked her a bit about her training day ahead and plans for the season. The other was a former professional cyclist. Here are a few pictures of "Alicia" and myself take by Michelle on our way to Carter Lake. We spent nearly all of 35 miles chit-chatting away about tri geeky stuff, and comparing notes on the CDA course. Alicia had done CDA several times, and enjoyed the race. I peeled off once at Carter to finish my ride while she continued to Masonville.

The following day, for kicks, I decided I wanted to ride out & around Carter again (both up the North side for Larry in case he wants to know...). When I got to the Broadway/36 intersection, another triathlete on a Cervelo just happened to be heading out at the same time...nearly the same place I met up with Alicia & Michelle the day before. I got talking to Michael, a kid (26) who was of all things, on his long ride training for Ironman CDA! Bizzzzzaro! Two days, two people, at the same place both training for CDA. He was riding out around Carter as we ended up riding the entire time together, chit chatting away, and of course I milked him for information about the course. While I didn't get a picture that day, I did have some fun riding with fellow athletes who were all going out for the same training rides for the same race and had some good laughs and conversation. The wind waned after a few hours just from being lost in conversation, but one thing for sure is that no matter when you are doing activity that may seem like it will be a solo effort--it can turn into a team effort with laughs and learning involved. Not just about training, but about people themselves.