Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #1

Several years have passed since the first attempt at one of the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon races where I finished 2nd overall. A different course, different day and much different fitness level, I had signed up only last week for the first in the 2011 series. 12 lbs heavier than when racing Ironman Hawaii in October, about a half dozen runs and eight or so bike rides since then, with a smattering of the one-off swim and visits to the weight room, I put the uncertainty aside and plopped down $30. A small series with several hundred athletes in the winter time to stave off the competitive hunger, the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon series is nothing short of a painful yet fun time, as races should be--all for a decent price. There are no race shirts or awards, only competition. It isn't unusual to find a pro athlete or two showing up at these races.

Held at Cherry Creek Rez, I parked at the high school a few blocks away and saved $9 in parking. Coasted downhill to the start and did my warm up in Levi blue jeans and a hooded cotton sweatshirt. Pretty sure I was the only one who looked like a spectator during warm up without all the fancy lycra-clad folks out there. It was indeed a "chilly cheeks" morning so since the laziness of not wanting to dress like a racer during warm ups was so overwhelming, I used this as a way to keep my goals in check which was not to get my butt kicked too much while being grossly out-of-shape. While 155 lbs isn't "fat" it IS heavy compared to my 143 just a few months prior. The reasoning for racing this last minute was that if I did get my rear kicked (you always like to put on a decent showing at races), it would be motivation to quit the procrastination and start training again. Although I'm not sure what it is I'm actually training for as 2011 has lined up to be a few select fun races that are close/nearby except for Oceanside 70.3 in April.

The race started (yes, the Levi's were now off as was the hooded sweatshirt), soon I found myself running in 2nd place with a few yards on the lead pack. Concerned the pace was too quick for my fitness--I backed off to about 4th place and held it for the first run. While a tough pace it wasn't my "maximum" output as there was still a 10  mile bike ride after the 4 mile run. The leader was several minutes up on me at the start of the bike but luckily I had the fastest transition in the entire race and was soon on my way. Bike fitness is quick to lose and it sure showed up race day. In short it was quite the Snot-Fest by the time I finished. Not much power and kept looking down to see if my tire was flat. Nope. It was just me being slow! By the end of the bike I was still in 4th place but had nearly caught the run leader...missing by about 16 seconds. The guys who did place ahead were an elite duathlete, pro triathlete, and former world championship AG runner-up in duathlon. Not bad for a chubby out-of-shape athlete. Time to get out the door and do that exercise stuff again--what do they call it? Oh yeah, Butt-Kicked Prevention!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010 Ironman Hawaii Race Report

A brief race report from the Hawaii Ironman this past Saturday on the Big Island of Hawaii:

Looking at swim times my swim was definitely slower than it should have been vs. those I'm used to coming out with who actually had speed suits but wasn’t about to spend $275 for one—budget man! (Besides the swim was only an hour long.) But it is what it is.

Summary here...the swim was "okay" but slow for me. Bike—at mile 40 got bloated, tossed cookies around mile 70, then 80 & so on. No nutrition absorbing to the body (salt level imbalance). Run...tossed cookies several times until mile 6 THEN felt great, bloating went away (a few gallons in your gut can do that). Sorry for the “graphic images” here but that is what the sport involves—not for the faint of heart. Started picking off dozens of athletes then got to Max Lawler at mile 12 (a guy I coach), who was walking. It was a simple decision to shut down my race & encourage/walk with him and finally get him going again from mile to mile, to the finish. He was just walking and told me to go on ahead-- but he needed some help & since I'm his coach, I wasn’t about to leave him to walk 15-16 miles home alone (miserable). It seemed my coaching duties were not quite done that day. This was my ninth Kona, his first. The first goal was to get him to the line AND in before dark which we did. It was setting up to be a decent run with my run cooking along starting from mile 6, but in reality, Max needed help more than I needed another "finish" or "time" or "place" so my good running lasted for about five or six miles. To top it off, my plan was for him to hit the line a few inches ahead of me so that he could get to the line first. That's my story & I'm glad to have made the decision. Sometimes sport is a little more than just competition.

Sure there have been a lot of sacrifices with training time, money & family time to get to the World Championships, and likely my placing would be much higher had I run by my “student” with just a “good-job-keep-going” encouragement (even though he clearly out-swam & out-biked me). After all I just beat him 3 weeks ago in a half ironman here in Colorado after running an additional mile from being sent off course by a lone volunteer (I was leading the Age Group race there). This year Hawaii just didn’t go well from the get-go for me. In hindsight, I'd do the same thing all over again even though competition mentality says NO. Max’s goal five plus years ago was the hardest thing to do in triathlon—qualify for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. We started this journey together, it was only fitting to see him through to the very finish line along side of him.

I was so proud and happy for him, he finished what he started. All in all, because of what transpired, it was my second most satisfying memory of Hawaii Ironman, with the first being my original finish way back in 1995.

2011 plans involve only short course at this point, with more family time. I’ll take next year off & be right back at it in 2012!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pre-Kona 2010

Countdown 23 days until Kona, Hawaii. The Ironman World Championship, the top of the iceberg in triathlon. This will be my 9th time competing though I have qualified 14x.

I have been lucky enough to qualify all years I have attempted to get to this race except for 2007 when I suffered a mechanical on the bike at Ironman Arizona. I qualified at IM Couer D’Alene this year, taking 2nd in the largest age group, 40-44 (up one spot from my 3rd last year). All the training and past four years of injury are behind me for the most part, which is new to me. Some of the best years of my racing have had to give way to a hamstring/gluteus tear which left me virtually decimated on the bike and run—taking nearly all four years to recover. Although not 100%, I’m getting close.

Part of the proof was a recent race called Harvest Moon in Colorado. Starting third wave in the biggest wave, I was first out of the water, and only one person caught me on the bike from my wave, although I headed out first onto the run—and then a quick bathroom break just a few feet outside of transition. I had caught the lead woman who started 10 minutes ahead of me. Near the one mile mark, we were steered off course by a volunteer onto a dirt path. The lead woman turned first onto the trail and I said, “You sure?” to the volunteer, who insisted to go down the trail. Long story short, we ran back to the start and amid the confusion had to run back to where we hopped off course, adding another mile to our race. It was setting up to be a personal best half ironman distance (although I don’t recall if it was actually advertised as a half iron officially). Regardless, the volunteer made a mistake and there were some other logistical problems with the race which I brought up in person and via email to the race director. After all, it is hard to improve on things if you don’t know about them right? I was more verbal than the other two who were sent off course with me. Being at the front of a race has its downside as well sometimes. I had “cut the jets” on the run after getting back where we were steered off course & jogged the rest of the run. I still ended up winning the age group by 9 minutes, but add 7 minutes to that & the 20 seconds we stood back at the start of the run asking how we got back there, that is nearly 17 minutes. Then figure in my run time had I raced it would likely be another 4 minutes faster, you have 21 minutes faster than second place. Why was there a problem? Because I went into the race expecting to give it my all but there were issues which shut down the race for me when after paying nearly $200 for the race you would expect to get what you paid for. As I said the race director now knows about all the issues I’ve encountered and for 2011 will try to incorporate my suggestions. I have no doubt this can be one of the finest races in Colorado. The race wasn’t all that bad overall, but the issues certainly should have been prevented with a little more attention to detail. In the end, it was great to slide across a 40-foot water slide (Slip & Slide) at the end then land up in a pool of cold water. That is unique and something I’ve never experienced before, so kudos to Lance of Without Limits Productions for having that in the race. That is something I’ll always remember. He did offer to let me into any of his races for free that I wanted in the future, to which I told him no because I had already “been there & done that”. I was steamed after the race being basically penalized through no fault of my own by at least 7 minutes. In hindsight I should have taken him up on his offer to enter in 2011. If he offers it again I think I’ll take it to try to vindicate this year’s race. Maybe a good alternative would be to take the distance from leaving the course & back, and my per mile pace then calculate the amount of time to deduct from my run time and use that as the official time. This would be pretty much one mile extra (I’d have to GPS the exact distance but the other guy behind us said he went .8 of a mile but turned around well before we did). All in all it was an experience and I wish Harvest Moon much growth, I think the race has many, many positives to offer in the future. They nearly have it nailed. Although if I were them they ought to use me as a consultant to “tweak” the race—I certainly know the weak links that would make this a killer of a race.

Some of my suggestions: Sweep the corners on the bike. Keep local farmers from buzzing racers somehow. Accurate run course with full signage & make it idiot proof. More volunteers. Better security in the bike corral (nobody saw/checked my number on my arms upon leaving the race sight so I could have been walking out with anyone’s bike). Aside from those points I would say this is would be a fantastic course and race to be in. I’ve always felt that if you speak up (whether someone likes it or not), you should be thanked and go on your way. If there are words which are “pointed” because of bringing up issues, then so be it & good luck with that view—because it certainly sounds defensive more than anything rather than constructive. If you were one of the three onto the run course with the pros far out of sight, I’d say you may want to wait to race here until this race has its bugs worked out to the point of flawlessness. If you were one of the 399 other racers in the race, you will likely be just fine and have a fun, challenging time that will bring you back for more year after year. Will I go back? Well…Lance, make that offer to me one more time about letting me race a race of yours one more time—I think I’ll take it. Chances are these issues will NOT happen again, with this edition being a quirk/one-off by chance stroke of multiple bad luck and oversights. So decide for yourself, take in my review here and mull it over. You may just have the time of your life.

Onto pre-Kona prep. The Harvest Moon went great for 2/3 of the race and some indicators are that things are fine with the minimal training I’ve been getting. Only an average of 11 hours per week with 19 & 17 hours being the peak weeks. The mission this week is to recover and take it easy, as I have new clients coming on board in the next few weeks so there is lots of preparation time to get them up and running (literally). The season is almost over but it is my hope to not let my fitness slide too much, there is a lot of work to be done to improve by next April which isn’t too far off. I’ve got both “plans” and back up plans for racing next season in case things don’t go as planned. ALWAYS have a back up plan for your season. I’m looking forward to the vacation in Hawaii with the wife and racing Ironman Hawaii again. Swimming with the fish/dolphins, drinking some genuine Kona Coffee when I swim out to the Coffees of Hawaii catamaran, and just relaxing on our own private beach. Of course, there will be some parties during the trip as well. I’m looking forward to the entire trip before returning to the daily grind, which is really not that bad for the most part. Letting loose and taking a short break from training will be fun however, it will only be a matter of a few weeks before chomping at the bit for some 120 mile bike ride or something. Seems to be a crazy addiction though a healthy one, but nothing like getting out there and pounding your body into the ground hour after hour coming home totally spent. Follow that up with a shower, food, then a couch---zzzz time in the most peaceful slumber! THAT is my idea of a relaxing day. It sounds crazy I know, but it is the lifestyle I’ve chosen and the one I intend on keeping as long as the body holds up. I’ll keep trying to push myself in races against myself to do battle within rather than others. It is fun going faster against your past efforts and not get too caught up in racing others. This is part of why I suppose I tend to finish closer to the pointy end of results than others—because the race is against myself for the most part. The others are a byproduct of that race and they are a reminder to not let myself down by pushing myself harder (if they are in front of me). Although on that note, it is nice to win, but if you finish second place, you are technically the first place loser. I’ve been there many times on the podium but not at the top as often as I’d like. I suppose that is part of why I head out the door each day in rain or shine, snow or dark, to search out my best so nothing is left at the end of the day to say I should have, could have, would have if only I trained a little better. Prepare the best you can consistently with the time you have, give it your best shot and if you fall short, someone beat you fair and square. At least you hope they did.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Boulder Altitude Camp Round Up

Finally we have closed the 2010 Boulder Altitude Camp as a successful fund raising effort between Gemini Multisport of Boulder and Team Hendryx of Florida. All of our campers completed the camp and went on to finish their first EVER full Ironman distance race in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho nearly a month after camp. They learned many things including nutrition, bike fit, strategy, proper training and swim technique as well as having the chance to compete against the clock on the final day in a very short time trial taking place in the mountains surrounding Boulder. In the end, it was PERFECT weather (we were in someone's good graces!) The campers got to know each other and help benefit a local family who is under the medical cost burden of dealing with numerous health issues with their 7 year old son Klaus. Coach Sean and Coach KK were able to present a rather large "helping hand" from 100% of the proceeds after cost of the camp to Klaus and his family. We hope to build a larger and more honed camp in the near future (although it was a stellar camp and provided athletes with the best bang for the buck in the state of Colorado). Boulder Altitude Camp (BAC) will also now be known as Boulder and Cleremont Training Camps. Using these two great cities to base triathlon training camps for athletes of all abilities in the future, we hope to help other athletes, and other families along the way to spread the word and lifestyle of the sport of triathlon.

In the included photos of this post, you will see pictures of the bike time trial used in the Boulder Altitude Camp which I snapped this last week on one of my rides, as well as the family the camp was able to benefit. From Left to Right (back row), Coach Sean Hendryx, Tracy, Tim and our primary beneficiary of the camp (front row), Klaus Dragon and Calvin. To the left in the background of the family, for those of you wondering what Old Stage Rd (part of the Boulder Peak Triathlon) looks like, that is IT...the legendary hill (you can only see about half of it in this picture as it gets steeper out of view.  If you would like to help or donate more to the Klaus Dragon cause, please visit Caring Bridge website.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2010 Ironman Coeur D'Alene Race Report

Training for June 27th started back last November when I had a bug in my ear to try racing my way into Ironman Coeur D’Alene in Idaho (IM CDA). First up was Ironman California 70.3 where I figured I could nab a slot to IM CDA since I wasn’t signed up for it. Luckily, despite my first ever drafting call in 22 years of racing at IM CALI 70.3 (Oceanside, California), and having the flu, I still managed to qualify for the race in Idaho.

Barring any mechanicals or calls from the course marshals (which was unlikely since there were not really any “traffic jam” areas that were similar to the Oceanside race), I hoped to improve upon my 3rd place age group place from 2009. I had started out with an improvement in running speed this season, topped with a new bike to help bolster my speed this season—things were headed in the right direction. The down side would be less time to train this year and every minute of it had to count, no junk training. Looking at Training Peaks totals for OVERALL average hours I ended up with a mere 11’ish hours per week. Pretty “sorry” totals if I was to ever hope to get a slot to Ironman Hawaii, but if anyone could maximize a sparse amount of training time most effectively, I figured I’d be near the top of the list having qualified 13x for Ironman Hawaii. I’ve turned down quite a few trips to Hawaii but I was going to take this one if things panned out.

I arrived on Thursday to make sure I had everything set up. This was a solo trip as a friend I coach ended up having to bail because he broke his collarbone a few months earlier. Bummer. Luckily, everyone that attended the Ironman Distance Camp I put on a month earlier were also going to be at IM CDA racing, so I’d know plenty of folks. Plus, there were many Boulder local athletes showing up as well. The plan was simple, make sure I had the tools & general fitness to get a slot on June 27th, minimize any potential mechanical or nutritional issues by not falling asleep out on the course. Keep the eyes open for potholes so I don’t get a flat tire. Now onto the meat of the story.

I set up all my gear for the race & had it sorted out by dinner time on day 1 of arriving. I stayed at the Spring Lake Motel just outside of Hayden, Idaho. I found a sweet deal on the room at $99 a night which was about half of what rooms were going for during IM CDA. It was quiet, and not in the hub-bud busy area near the race & allowed me to rest well & just get away from everything. Although, it was unfortunately quite the drive to the race site with all the lights and construction on some roads in the area. I talked with a few people before the race and as usual, many were strutting their stuff making predictions. Fancy equipment and self-qualified Ironman slots seemed to already be handed out according to some. My prediction for race day: PAIN. No matter how well or poorly you prepare, an Ironman is going to really, really hurt. The kicker on this race was trying to attempt it on the second LEAST hours per week average since my first ever Ironman back in 1995.

Mindset…never give away anything. Even if you feel great and rested, don’t pat yourself on the back until all is said and done because there are tons of guys out there wanting what you are after. My age group of 40-44 was the largest age group which had about 400 in it. I had to finish top 10 on only 11 hour of training when the average per census stats provided by Ironman Corp. was over 20 hours. Anything can happen in an Ironman so it serves no purpose to talk your talk to others in attempt to shine in front of them before the race begins. The time to shine will be at the finish if you make it that far & in good position. I’ll leave the pre-race self-appointed Kona qualifiers to eat their words when and if they “pop” out on the battle field. I know that my preparation was as good as I could have made it given the time limits this season, there were no major issues but the lingering 90% healed 4-year old hammy tear I’ve dealt with and slight shoulder re-injury cropping up. But things were feeling fairly smooth but as usual there could always be a better dose of distance work/foundation I’d liked to have before an ultra distance race. During race morning, there never were any butterflies, just an urgency to get it going and start racing. Here is a lesson to anyone racing a big event: Do not use the fact that race day is upon you lead to have negative anxiety attacks. Use the importance of the race instead, to motivate you to perform your best. Often racers will get all worked up and bent out of shape over a race. The bigger or more important the race the more they are worked up. Have faith and comfort in knowing you did all you could and let the dice roll where they may. Just don’t cave when the going gets tough—after all, it IS an Ironman! So no I wasn’t nervous nor did I doubt my chances. The way I looked at it, this was my 21st or so Ironman, and having finished 3rd in the age group last year slightly more injured back then—with older equipment on top of that—well, it was my slot to lose or win. Why give away my energy to others by psyching myself out? I looked at the start list and picked a few who were commonly up the ranks that I recognized, but in the end I race myself. Race MY race and not let others make my result for me. When racing to the best of my ability, usually things fall into place and it doesn’t matter too much who shows up, because even those with a “big name” can falter during an Ironman and finish near the back. Been there & done that in Arizona a few years ago with a mechanical—so never count the chickens before they are hatched.

Pre-race Transition set up: I arrived around 5:30 AM to transition and the biggest issues were finding an empty porta-potty and a “Smart Head” pump for my Corima valve extender. I finally found one after 30 minutes—doesn’t anyone use a COOL modern pump anymore? Geezus. My total set up of my bike took maybe 5 minutes. Pop in my Salt Stick tablets into the bars, place my bottles, clear the bike computer, put it in a low gear, pump the tires and I was ready. Simple enough. That left plenty of time for a slow jog along the first mile of the run, then hydrate and get to the swim start. For breakfast I had a mini-bagel and a cup of coffee with my own custom blend Infinit drink so things were off to a good start in topping off the calorie levels. While I’m thinking of it, pre-race night dinner consisted of a trip to the Olive Garden where I had pasta with tomato sauce and grilled chicken on top and three or four breadsticks.

Swim: Not a problem, started far right again, at the edge of the 2,200 racers. Steered clear and just went steady without pushing it beyond what a typical 4,000 yard short course pool training swim pace felt like. Word was it was to be a hot day so save early and get paid back later when it is hot! Given the 5-6,000 yards I’ve only been swimming due to a slight re-tear of my labrum and limited training time, I swam okay. It was pretty darned wavy out there so times were a bit slow. Transition went pretty well except for grabbing bag 1026 instead of 1126. Upon discovering my mistake I ran back and placed 1026 where it should be then retrieved my bag. T1 bathroom stop #1. Luckily, I didn’t have to stop for bathroom breaks again except for T2. Not on the bike or run—so Dave Scott’s suggestion of adding more salt during my race worked well. I even used Clif Shot Blocks for some extra calories with my Salt Stick, Clif Shot and Infinit drink. That is about it for nutrition on the bike. In reality I had only one Clif Shot but three sticks of Clif Margarita flavor blocks.

Bike: One thing of interest was how easy I rode. Usually I feel like I’m burning up the legs but the new bike was comfy and felt fast. I rode 4 min. faster despite more wind this year and hotter temps. It was difficult to tell where I was because while most bib numbers were in a specified number range for the age group, there were a few that were not for some reason or another. One guy had a #86 that was a different color—the color of the pros but he wasn’t a pro. Anyhow, this made it tough to know where exactly I was. My bike computer for some reason did not register anything except for RPMs. No mph, no distance, no time. Nothing. Looking down, the setup was just fine and in theory should have worked. The magnet alignment was just fine too, not sure what the heck was wrong with it. The tricky part was in not knowing when to eat. Usually I use the clock or distance to gauge feeding, but had to resort to my RPE, cadence and signs on the side of the road placed by the race organization for mile markers. Signs were every 10 miles so I knew that a little past the 20 mile marker at my “known cadence” of 92 average that I should have one 600 ml biden consumed. That would give me just around 350-400 calories per. It was a gamble but it worked out okay. My only regret is in not biking harder, but there is always that marathon and I sort of wanted to retain the fastest Age Group (AG) marathon title I had from 2009. I knew I was in the top 50-55 overall at the first turn around (around 10 miles) on the bike and had maintained my position fairly well throughout the bike, but wasn’t sure where I was in the Age Group. I know folks will often falter during the marathon as people seem to be big on the putting in a huge bike effort which accomplishes nothing other than wasting your legs for the run. With the heat the problems of huge bike efforts would just compound itself. I kept telling myself, wait…wait…hold back, at least until mile 13 of the run. Then let it loose. I could always make my way to the finish on Coca-Cola and pretzels, water and Gatorade if things got too tough after 13.1 miles.

Run: This was a surprise seeing Michael Hagen (superstar AG athlete) only a couple minutes up the road, as well as Albert Boyce (another superstar AG athlete & holder of the top 3 times at IM CDA in my AG). I felt just fine although not as springy in the legs as last year. Eventually I caught Michael Hagen and was counting bib numbers in my AG who were ahead of me at the several turn around points. By the end of the first lap I figured I was around 7th or 8th or so and more would fall. Eventually I passed Albert Boyce (now in an older AG with Michael Hagen in the 45-49). I had to stop at an aid station to take my sock and shoe off to put Vaseline on my toes because a nasty blister was forming which could ruin my day quickly. By the time 5 miles were left in the run, I passed that #86 who from what I could gather, was in the lead of the AG. I never “pushed” during the run because athletes were falling apart on their own so I held a steady pace. Never had I given chase like last year on the run (which showed because my run was 8 minutes slower this year). The kicker here was that I ASSUMED I was in the lead of the men 40-44. Around mile 25 a friend of mine yelled there were a couple of guys in my AG just ahead of me around the corner. My first thought was “How the hell did they get past because I didn’t see a bib up there at the last turn around in the 40-44 bib range!” So finally I picked it up and caught a guy from Colorado Springs I vaguely remembered from a portion of the bike race. He looked like he was muscling the gears and hills so figured he’d come back to me anyhow. We ran together for the first half of the last mile. Turning onto the final 4 block straight away stretch downhill towards the finish line…there was a slight headwind and I waited patiently for his move. He gained about one meter maybe two and that was it. It appeared as though he was cooked and would not answer to a sprint. I closed the gap in about five strides, shifted quickly to his left and slingshot sprinted past him gaining just over 30 seconds in only four blocks. I found out that I was second in the age group and some guy from Calgary was about 10 minutes up the road in first. Bummer, I thought there was a chance at winning the age group while out there on the run. Had I known where everyone was at, in hindsight I would have biked a little harder and sure would have made sure I ran a 3:10-3:15 instead of a 3:20. So the moral of the story is don’t screw around thinking you have it wrapped up when you could be quite a ways behind. My run took me from 15th of around 400 in my AG starting the marathon, to 2nd out of 400’ish. This moved me up one spot from last year in the results and I was able to claim my Kona slot. Some of the early favorites crumbled during the race while no-names did quite well. All I know is that the conditions were harder this year due to the heat and wind, but it wasn’t terribly windy, just enough to annoy the racers.

Wrap up: While not my best performance effort wise, it was enough to get my best placing in an Ironman for my age group. Overall I’ve been in the top 40 many times (including pros). I need to step it up if I would like to be sub top 30 some day before father time eliminates that possibility. Some young guys have leap frogged me but I still can hold my own on a good day. Time to crack the whip for Kona and try to RACE this time, not just finish it like usual. Kona is never a key race for me despite being the world championship, it is more of a reward for racing well enough to get there. Some issues needing attention are ankle strengthening and flexibility. For some reason my ankles were very wobbly and weak during the run—possibly due to a lack of mileage both on the bike and run in preparation. Flexibility is another huge problem for the ankles, I think a new pair of shoes will help support these two issues. Strength on the run…definitely need to work on some hills to get some POP back in the stride. Nothing adds pop to your game like some good old fashioned hill work. The mental approach seems to be fine, nobody in my age group really scares me so I don’t mind trying to challenge someone no matter how fast they are. The reason is that if someone is faster they will beat you anyhow, so it doesn’t matter if you challenge them so you may as well go ahead and challenge them and to heck with fearing their legacy or race history and backing away from it. The conservative approach to races for me needs to be something I need to get over quickly before Kona, but the conditions are rougher than most in Kona, so I don’t want to implode on the race course. I’ll need to let my race hang out there in the danger zone a little more though and stop having that final kick like it was a mere 800 meter dash. Given you’ve raced close to your fitness potential, you should be spent at the finish line or even the last mile. Putting 30 seconds on someone in 4 blocks is what I call under-racing. Too much left in the tank. I did the same in Kona last year when my final mile time was only a few seconds slower than the overall Pro World Champion Craig Alexander. Here’s hoping that number 9 is the charm. 9 should be a good number, it was my high school captain’s number on cross country. I chose 19 because he had 9 and it was a close as I could come to the number of my first athletic hero. It will be an intense and interesting next three months but a challenge I look forward to. I’ll be using my past mediocre performances in Kona not as something that will cause anxiety for me, but rather, something that will motivate me to be better there than I have before. Who knows, maybe and maybe not—we’ll know on October 9th. Either way, never say never—but it will take more than 11 hours average to accomplish this.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ironman CDA pre-race report

It was a long solo trip to Idaho but it was something that surely was a step in the right direction as far as getting a better handle on pre-race routine. Missing family was the hardest part, but sometimes a job has to be done and the sacrifices need to be verified by some manner. In this case, a result. There were some pluses and some minuses to the entire trip but it certainly was an enjoyable trip in the end all things considered. I am off to Kona again after qualifying 2nd in the M40-44 (the single largest age group in the race with 470 racers). 2,200 racers total and I finished 40th overall (23rd amateur)...all this includes the professionals that do this for a living. Not too bad for all the things on my plate this past year.

The updates/official race report with all the yummy details will be something I'll be working on shortly here, lots of good stories.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chest cold & drafting...

Oceanside 70.3 half ironman is in the books & over with. After a time in 2007 that would win my age group 2 of the last 4 years, I hoped for a better race yet than 2007 to at least finish 2nd. I say 2nd because a pro athlete that finished 2nd overall in the pros at Ironman Canada apparently realized he would not be able to compete with the other big boys anymore and now decided to race age group. So there was little chance I'd be able to take down someone that travels all over the world to train at will and has the capacity to nap/recover in the afternoons while the rest of us manange to squeeze in a workout & work well into the afternoon or night surviving on anywhere from 5-6 hrs sleep a night.

I came down with a chest cold last week which dashed my hopes of the podium finish--and the hope was now to just complete the race and nab a spot to Ironman Coeur d' Alene in Idaho in June. The long and short of the race report is the swim was easy but knowing my lungs wouldn't hold up long once on the bike due to illness, I held back--but surprisingly finished only about 35 seconds slower than last time I raced here. The transition went smooth although I didn't quite run T1 as fast as last time (understandable without the lungs). Hackingly, I started the bike with a large group of athletes and it was chaos with 2,500 athletes out on the course that day. There were wave starts but I caught people who started 3 waves ahead of me by the end of the swim so here I was coming out with them. There were some from the wave behind me that caught me too (the faster swimmers from the 40-44 AG), so those guys were also starting the bike together. At mile 8 or so, there was a turn around & we had to slow up to do a 180 turn around an orange cone. Wheel to wheel then once around the cone everyone accelerated. When you have so many of the same cycling ability, it takes some time to spread out. About 1.5 miles later, a marshal pulled up & yelled to the guy behind me to pull over at the next Penalty Box to serve a 4 minute time penalty for drafting. I knew he was close because I could see his shadow on the ground as we were riding. Then the marshal yelled at me to do the same--but there was nobody in front of me. I nearly yelled back, "W.T.F? There's nobody in front of me!" But I restrained because that would likely get me disqualified from the race. Clearly there wasn't anyone for around 100-150 yards in front of me. That took the steam out of my engine and I was paranoid to get anywhere near another cyclist. Soon pack after pack were passing me (really drafting that is). The only thing I could ascertain is that the drafting occurred at the 180 turn around point. In 22 YEARS of racing, I have not so much as gotten a warning for drafting, and do not agree with the call. But I am glad they were marshalling the course & have to take my lumps along the way even if I don't think I was drafting.

At the penalty tent I was asked by everyone in the tent if I was okay due to the non-stop coughing from my chest cold. They asked if I need medical assist. "Nope, I've been sick for a week & am still sick--probably shouldn't be racing." I said. It was a really windy day and the time out at the Penalty Tent only made me lethargic & unable to get back to speed. No top end at all on this day, although my climbing was surprisingly good on my new P3C Cervelo--few people the entire race passed me on an uphill. All I could think of was getting off the bike & onto the run. When T2 came around I knew I had not only lost contact but lost my energy reserves from decreased stamina due to the illness. The fight to fight was just a mere fight to finish from that point. After taking a "number 2" (to be politically correct) in T2 (Transition #2 where you change from a biker to a runner's equipment), I went through the first 6.5 miles rather easily but had no gumption to push at all. Lap #2 of the half marathon portion was worse as the Muscinex I was taking clearly contributed to dehydration and I began to feel light headed. In the end I was only 22nd in my age group instead of what should have been a challenge to the #1 or #2 spot and top 50 overall. It was a dismal day indeed but I live to fight another day when I get healthy. Racing is a weird thing  in that you never know what the day will hold for you. Things can go great right up until the start, then in can all tumble, or it can be horrible & then turn out great. On this day, it was back to basics and the hope of getting to the Ironman Coeur d' Alene in June where I will have some athletes racing. I intend on being there for their support (although I'll be racing too). It is always nice to be at the same races as those you coach. As I hack away slightly worse for the wear writing this post race report, I will take a week or week and a half off to recover and then it will be build back up time for a domestic Ironman in June--where I was 3rd in the AG & top 36 overall including pros out of 2,200 last year. Hopefully sickness and/or injury can be avoided next time around. All of us triathletes pretty much have the same mentality & that is when we get knocked down, we get back up again and fight harder next time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 Oceanside 70.3

T-minus 14 hours until lift off for the first race of the year in California. All was well until a week ago I came down with a chest cold which leaves me in coughing fits all day & night—lungs feel “burned” from all the coughing. Slept with a humidifier 2 feet from my pillow yesterday just to ease the breathing. Funny how things can “tumble” on you all at the last minute. I’m not sure how this will affect my race aside from the fact any illness affects you—and being a half iron distance this is going to HURT! I’ve already scaled back my expectations from what they were a great deal. If only there was one more week to “heal” instead of only 3 days.

I’ve made some improvement today hitting the green tea all day long, hoping to loosen things up. On a bright side, my first race on the new bike should be a blast. Hopefully it doesn’t ride away from me because yes—it is that fast of a bike. Nothing like having its rider left behind! I should have some fun meeting up with my first cousin…he is now the head US National Surf Team head coach. He’s also owner of his own line of surf boards---and SURF Magazine has dubbed him “Lord of the Boards”. Just go down to the beach and talk to any competitive surfer and they’ll know who he is. Former US National Champion…ESA Champion & was also on the cover of SURF Magazine when he was younger.

It’ll be a nice meet up with a party Saturday night post-race as one of the original “Page Peeps” from Ironman California. This is the 10-year anniversary of it all but it has been downgraded to a half iron distance due to military/security issues on Camp Pendleton property post 9-1-1. Either way, the weather should be nice. Looking at some of the posts on Slowtwitch, there are a lot of “nervous” racers all ramping up for the first big race of the year. I had a fleeting moment of that a few weeks ago looking at the start list—that usually doesn’t happen. Part of that was I think because I knew who the contenders were after viewing the start list and I was excited in knowing the names & where I “could” place. Not so much an “Oh my gosh so & so is here—this is going to be rough” but more of an “Oh my gosh I could actually podium high if all goes according to plan.” Of course, now I’ve been clobbered over the head with a chest cold & it isn’t fun. This is one time I’ll have to depend on my “luck & karma” to not feel like death warmed over at some point during Saturday’s race. But remain optimistic & hope for the best—even though I already know it won’t be my best. Let the Guardian Angel guard me Saturday!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cervelo P3C: 2010

Here's my new 'baby' which I think I've posted on FB...but just got the XLAB Torpedo drinking system on yesterday. So far I've dropped the seatpost about 5mm--not much, but enough to keep the hips from rocking side to side while pedaling, and take pressure off the achilles & hip flexors. So far not a lot of issues from the bicep femoris or ITB at all. The armrest width is still a little narrow but it goes to show how "un-aero" my last setup was. Control will be the big thing on fast downhills nearing 50 miles per hour...which we have plenty of those around here! The Riser Kit to take 3 cm of spacers from the steerer tube below the stem should be here in about a week.

I'll get a chance to visit my first cousin in Oceanside which will be neat, he recently took over as Head Coach for the US National Team in Surfing. Yes, surfing has a Team USA too. He's the head honcho. Looks like coaching runs in the family! He wasn't sure if he was going to be in town until recently--he travels a lot to other competitions, so I'm hanging out with my buddy Chaz next week. Should be a hoot, he's a crazy man but certainly fun.

Time to post the pictures & then pack for the trip.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boulder Altitude Camp, Wolfgang Dittrich & Spring

 What a whirlwind past "quarter" it has been, can't believe how the time has flown. This season started out great thus far, with of those I coach--who raced thus far, all PR'ing (Personal Record) in early races--Mark, a local guy from Golden, set 2 PR's in half marathons he competed in this year, a day after a 100 mile ride, then again a day after a 80 mile ride. While I told him not to ride so long beforehand--he still PR'd.. I'm really wondering how fast this guy could go on a day where he just rested. They were both training days for IM CDA this summer anyhow and he had the opp for a really long ride in nice warm weather rather than the trainer or freezing cold of Colorado, can't say as I blame him! Two others that raced & set PRs, John & Bob, in the Walt Disney Marathon. John qualified for his first Boston Marathon which he'll race in 2011, he's really doing great & seems quite a bit more serious than past years.

The BAC (Boulder Altitude Camp) has really taken shape & we currently have athletes from coast to coast (Florida to California) who will be attending. While we have spots available, we are hoping more come to Boulder for a week long fun in the sun & learning about Iron Distance training & racing.

After 10 long years, I finally have my new ride! Still getting adjusted to it and dialing it in a little closer. While I'm coming up on my first race of the season shortly, I'll have a nice bike that will hopefully compensate a little bit for the lack of fitness so far. I had Wolfgang Dittrich film me in the pool & give his top-notch swimming expertise to me about a week and a half ago. My stroke feels like I've changed it drastically but to my surprise he thought my stroke was not that bad. For a later starting swimmer (I think I was 18 at the time), it seems I've made up for lost time--never having been a swimmer in high school nor on the local swim team...I fell into it late, but trained seriously with a small Master's group up at University. The swim coach was the head US Deaf Swim Team Coach and was very good--with both his daughters setting school (collegiate) records in their time. So far the run seems to be coming along, hopefully I can rely on my strength to get me through this upcoming half ironman and produce a decent result. I know "decent" is arbitrary but considering the near 3 year injury that comes & goes, I'd say any "podium" finish would be very satisfying at this point.

Spring has sprung in Boulder & we have had rain, snow, sleet, warm & cold temperatures. It is only a few weeks from the buds starting to transform into leaves. A few rains & warm days things will start greening up around here. I'm looking forward to some races this year even though I'm only signed up for one so far. I'll develop my race plan as the season progresses, hopping into races randomly. The important thing now is to just get in as good of shape as I can so that when I do enter a race, I'll be able to contend for a high placing. Time to ride...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great Call!

I had a pleasant surprise today with a call from one of the co-coaches on my “final exam” team from USAT Level 2 Certification Clinic in San Francisco a few years ago. He called to tell me he was in Colorado Springs and has been named to the USA Regional Junior Develop Team to coordinate/direct it. He wanted to thank me for my input several years ago, when over dinner (after a very, very long day in the classroom), the two of us along with Laurie (former pro triathlete & who was also on our final exam team), chatted about his interest in an Ironman. Being the most experienced one of the group in the world of Ironman on the team, I advised him to take up short course & XTERRA instead.

Ironman is an expensive sport, at the time his wife was the Daddy Warbucks of the family, so it would be tough to pull off Ironman racing if you aren’t up for spending a lot of money. Also, as a new dad, he wouldn’t have the time to coordinate the training that would suffice to please his palate for the level he hoped to achieve. His body type just seemed more like a club rugby player than an Ironman type. In addition to living in East Coast area where winters can be harsh—for Ironman you really need to train all year to reach a high level. He wasn’t able to do many long rides outside in the “off season”. Apparently, my advice was go for XTERRA/short course racing knowing all the above—when I diagnosed for him his best path of action (in my opinion it was the best path), in addition to trying to work with juniors more. For him, it led to meeting someone at a race who asked him to take part in the Regional Development Program—which led him to Colorado Springs and the chance to work with and directly coach a group of juniors. He was quite happy and just wanted to thank me for having a direct influence on his direction of travel within the sport. This in turn, affects those he gets to work with, influencing them in a positive manner in their development of the sport. He really wanted to know if I somehow saw the future like a “palm reader or in a crystal ball.” Funny how over a burger and shooting the breeze with off-the-cuff observations can impact the course of one’s life for the better. In the end if it helps someone positively, that is really all I need to justify what I do.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Quaker Oatmeal Festival 5K

Dust off the shoes & get out the door! 2010 has started & the Quaker Oatmeal Festival 5K kicked off the "training" for the second year in a row. For $16 you get a race, oatmeal & pancake breakfast afterwards, a goodie bag, can of oatmeal to take home & some vitamin water from Eldorado Springs. I woke up at 7 AM for the 9:30 am start time...putzed around with a shower & coffee/toast before leaving--it was 6 F when I woke up so pretty dang chilly! Last year I ended up 17:59 & getting "chicked" by the top female. This year, after setting a new PR only 2 weeks on a pancake flat run back home at sea level in 16:04, I was at least hoping I'd be close to 17 this time around. Add in altitude, cold weather & ice on the roads & it took me down to a rather disappointing 17:41 (12th overall out of 1,086 & 1st Master runner)--still faster than last year (which at 40 is a bonus). However, I really was hoping to be close to breaking 17 but that's the way the cookie crumbles when you let yourself slide out of race shape!  I've been running but it has all been base miles & the last speedwork I had done was a short race before Kona on trails where I took 2nd overall there. This year I did get "chicked" again by a gal that just finished Chicago Marathon this year in 2:32.  She passed me shortly after the turn around & she was flying!

I could tell my core was weak as my run form was not holding together after the first half mile. I was up with the top 6 at the top of the first hill (about a half  mile from the start), then the wheels came off. Opposite of last year I went out faster this time 'round instead of starting slower & keeping even paced. Obviously I slowed near the end, but figured if I got to the front & up to the turn around, I could "cruise" back home. One guy finished about half a step behind me so I was definitely having the hurt put on. I did not warm up that well I feel, and cold certainly isn't good for me & high intensity running. Cool weather is fine--but when it is below freezing, that is a little out of my comfort zone. Maybe next year I can be a little closer to 17--I'll just have to start some speed work late in the year to be ready for a January 5K..this year, it was too little too late but it WAS IMPROVEMENT over last year. Always have to take away the positives from your experiences.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Childhood Memories...

Things I remember from the past that keep popping into my mind…Sour Cream & Onion Doritos, Tostitos Nacho Cheese Rounds, Days of Our Lives soap opera at lunch with mom, poached eggs on toast several times in the morning with mom before leaving for grade school. Earl Nightingale on the alarm clock radio to help me wake up before grade school each morning…a show suggested to me by Delores Torsch. Using Hot Wheels track as a pretend fire hose to imitate my uncle, while playing at my cousin’s who was a captain in the local fire department. Sliding down the support pole from the top of my aunt’s steps to the basement—pretending I was sliding down a fire pole at the firehouse with my cousin, pretending we were my uncle’s firefighter crew. Playing T-Ball for a week on another cousin’s T-Ball team (while I was much older), as a guest player (only because my uncle was the coach of the team). Getting a can of Pepsi and bag of chips from the “concession car” after a game of Little League. Squashing ants/ant hills out in right field while I should have been paying attention to the Little League game…Going with mom & bro to sign up for a season of hockey—getting up to the desk and BAILING at the last second because I was too embarrassed I couldn’t skate that well. Staying up late in junior high school listening to my mini-speaker/Toshiba cassette player with the entire collection of Billy Joel music. Reading and re-reading and memorizing issues of Triathlon Today issues. Beating TWO of the “BIG FOUR” during their pro triathlon careers shortly before they retired…Scaring the bejezzus out of my parents every time I could when they either came home from grocery shopping or from somewhere else. Working summers in a factory until late evening and then cycling on the mag trainer & lifting weights until 1 or 2 AM with music blaring—then passing out after a bath (we didn’t have a shower). The day I ate 7 hot dogs & buns at my Grandma’s (cooked on this little yellowish gold indoor electric grill). Playing checkers with my grandpa every time I went to his house. Beating the tar out of my neighbor with a whiffle ball bat after I walked into the path of his swing set (I thought it was his fault). The street marker made of brick on Lincoln Street where we used to live—where I thought Frankenstein was housed (it always scared the bejezzus out of me walking by it). My dad occasionally bringing home a bag of Made-Right Cheese Popcorn from the vending machine at the factory (how I looked forward to it when he could afford it!) Catching a 27 lb. salmon with my dad when I was 13 years old—it took me half an hour to land it & my arms were soooo dead after! The trips to Cedar Point. The punishing and seemingly endless hours of cross country ski training with my buddy Jeff (who later went on to finish 16th in the US Olympic Trials & was NCAA national champion). My beloved doggy “Max”—a beagle—dying in my arms carrying him to dad’s truck when I was 14. Finding a giant bag of “speeders” in my sister’s high leather boots when I was nosing around in her room one day. Playing each weekend at “Busha’s” farm, or at my grandma’s house, usually playing games like Twister or hide & seek. Grinding up Ginger Snaps in my Great-Grandma’s hand-crank coffee grinder with my cousin. Pounding rocks looking for gold at Bloom Road Camp with my cousin, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes at the Haas Hunting Club each summer. Winter horse drawn sleigh rides pushing each other off into snow banks then going back to Bob & Mayford’s house for hot apple cider or hot cocoa. Becoming city-champion record holder beating my “mentor’s record” at Ms. Pac Man. Competing in the city-wide grade school championships track & field high jump event in a dress shirt and corduroy pants (I was too embarrassed about my milky white skin). Lastly, my first day of cross country in high school, running in an old pair of “Kangagroo” running shoes…it was about six miles and practically killed me (think I was sore for two weeks!)