Friday, December 9, 2011

Pacing Tips for Marathon

This past weekend I raced in the Cal International Marathon in Sacramento. Despite zipping through the 13.1 mile mark at 1:18:29, I found it would have been much better to run closer to a 1:22 in the long run. My pace after mile 20 drastically slowed. Additionally, I really needed to take in more than 4 gels and micro-sips of water during the race. Clearly I was in a state of imbalance nutritionally and became quite "bonkish" around 21 miles. The difference would have meant a 3rd place in my AG vs whatever place I actually ended in. The winner of the 60-64 AG was only 1 second behind--amazing! At age 62 this older fart was a lightening bolt.

In hindsight, after spending Sept. 24-Nov. 2 with an injury that kept me from running, followed by 2 weeks of the flu, my total of 20 runs from Sept. 24th through Dec. 4th left me quite "out of shape and it is difficult to do a marathon on such little training. At least I can say I ran 2:49 (with a #2 pitstop at mile 14), on less than three months of training. Whatever the case, I feel pacing the first half considerably slower would have allowed me to comfortably finish under 2:45 without any issues. Remember that next time you run a marathon, race the first half as if it were more of a warm up!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

2011 Boulder 70.3 Half Ironman Race Report

Wow what a difference a few weeks can make. Looking at the start list (2010 Ironman Hawaii & half ironman world champion) in the 40-44 AG decided to show up. Then last year's winner of the 70.3 Boulder race showed up, and my lungs & legs decided NOT to show up. I've had nothing but 1st & 2nd place finishes all year pretty much, except when I was sick for Oceanside 70.3 in April. Weeeell it struck again. I got my kid & wife's cold, conveniently yesterday, the day before the race. Shheeesh. What is it about half ironman races & getting sick? Bad enough it is my worst distance, but toss congestion & a runny nose in it & you can spell "subpar race" out easily. Which is too bad really, because I felt even on the 4-5 hours average training per week this year I've been getting (all three sports), I could still "bluff my way" to the line in at least 2nd place. Not today. No way no how, it just wasn't there.

There was a host of top area athletes showing up and somehow I managed to ward them all off but two. Last year's champion and the reigning world champion. Not bad place wise but really was disappointed with the lackluster horsepower from the legs. I suppose it is for the best, makes me realize that you can't always have a good day or have things go your own way.

Here's a recap...yesterday was about an hour of standing in the garage deciding to use the disk wheel or Corima 4-spoke. The 4-spoke has been the A choice all season and for some reason the disk came out the winner of the two. Don't think it really mattered actually--except mentally. Then in transition before the race, I must have moved my bike three time, trying to find the best place to park in order to have the fastest transition spot possible according to my strengths. Lots of indecisiveness for some reason. Then the swim went awful...zig-zagging all over the course, to the point where an old training buddy of mine that has been finishing behind me in swims the last few years by quite a bit, said to me, "You were zig-zagging all over out there!" I knew...and it certainly adds time onto the swim, but it is what it is. What do you say when you are only swimming 1-2 x a week? You get out of practice, so I'm fortunate to not have just swum in a big circle non-stop all day long. The bike...considering when I hit mile 30 and it was quickly approaching my weekly average long ride distance, the legs just cut out. Stopped pumping power to the pedals. Not much you can do but learn to train more I guess. On the's where I had hoped to make up some time because the run had been spot on all season. Well...that didn't happen either. I ended up running with a pro named Brad Seng (who was on his final lap starting :30 min ahead in the pro wave). It was like the run was just a big joke...not only lacking the horsepower to push the pace, but lacking the desire. Methinks the only thing that could drain me like that were the following: 1) Lack of calories the last few days--been too busy around the house so neglected to eat properly or enough...maybe 1800 calories yesterday. 2) Ran out of calories on the bike because I ran out of Infinit & only had Gatorade to use for this race, with a NUUN tablet in it. 3) Lack of sleep averaged in around 6 hours the last 2 days 4) The almighty head cold which seems to be a little better than it was this morning. If if follows suit like the wife & kid, it should be gone a 2 day cold.

Much could have gone better but so what? It happens, there were faster people showing up while it would have been best to stay home & nurse the cold. The result of 3rd place isn't horrible, especially with the competition involved, but it certainly was a slow time that I'm not really thrilled about Just one short 5K next weekend, a trail race in September, and marathon in December and it's a season!  Then a break and build up to "real" fitness levels for another shot at an Ironman race in 2012. Time to get off the but & start some "real" training. But sheesh, it sure is nice NOT doing all that training, amazing how much you really get done in a week without a 20 mile long run and 120 mile bike rides thrown in. Word of advice for any future half ironman racers out LEAST train more miles & hours per week than the ACTUAL race. It was weird racing more in one day than I train all week long!  Except that 118 mile ride when my friend Sean was in town last month...but that was a one-off. Until the next update...sleep well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August update!

It has been quite a while since my last entry so to start it off, let us look to the early race season. Ironman California 70.3. Once again, the week before I got sick (again). Same race, same week, one year apart. I do not race with a watch, and oddly enough—my run split was EXACTLY the same (to the second). It was not a spectacular start to the season, but it was a fun get away to spend a weekend with my friend (and athlete I coach) from Florida. I also ran into another athlete I used to coach in a bar/pub-grill the first day there in Encinitas. He is also from Colorado and was there with his son who is a lacrosse player competing in a tournament. It was good to see him again.

With no Ironman in the schedule for 2012, it is a year to continue with my 4-6 hours of training (per week combined) for all three sports. It is so much fun not training much and getting projects completed that have been put on the back burner for a few years. With a full roster of athletes again this year, I would not have the time to train for Ironman anyhow, so it is a relief in more than one way to be racing short course. The plan this year was to just race myself into shape and continue with “maintenance” training only. There are no expectations other than to have fun and spend more time with family and really enjoy this summer. I even hopped in my second ever Bolder-Boulder and finished in an acceptable 35:40 (altitude) on about 15 miles per week of running. To qualify for the A wave I had to run the Boulder Distance Classic 15K which was 55 minutes with absolutely no warm up (because the line for bib pickup ran too late & some missed the start).

So far the BDC 15K has netted a 2nd, Bolder-Boulder 2nd in the Age Group and 75th overall (out of 55,000 runners), a first Master’s AG AND Overall Age Grouper 1st place in Loveland Lake 2 Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon, a 1st place in my Age Group/Master’s in the Boulder Peak Triathlon. Quite a few 1st’s and 2nd’s this season with 4-6 hours of training. Certainly there is something to be said about being undertrained vs. over-trained like most years I do an I.M. (Ironman). I’m having fun, racing locally (and often) for the price of one I.M. race, spending way less time away from family so it’s all good!

One of my all-time triathlon heroes returned from the “retired list”—Dr. Chris Peeters. I had the honor of him hosting a dinner alongside his family at his house in 2009 when I visited the Olympic Training Center for the Elite Mentor Coaching Program. I was chosen as the lead US Junior National Triathlon Camp’s running coach and worked with hundreds of children teaching them proper warm up, drills & running form with the help of a great supporting staff. It was an honor to be chosen as an invited coach (and the only one from Colorado at that!) Anyhow, back to the story, Chris Peeters came down with M.S. and had to stop racing because his body just was failing him. I asked him about this at Boulder Peak and all he said was, “It’s a long story.” It’s my hope it turned out to be a misdiagnosis. He is truly another of the great people I have met in my lifetime & I only wish him the best. I’ve been racing Chris since living in the Midwest and racing him back when I started the sport in my late teens.

The athletes I have worked with this season have been doing fabulous. Last year I had an 80% Personal Record rate for all athletes combined. This year, I have an athlete who has had a 100% PR rate. Anything this New Yorker races in he comes out faster than he ever has. Way to go Ethan! Again, most of the athletes I work with seem to be repeat customers which tells me I am doing something very right with coaching them. One athlete comes back for his 6th season working with me. This group are a testament to what I tell them upon working with them from day one: If you follow the program, do exactly what I tell you, you will succeed. No excuses, just lots of feedback in your training log. Those that do this, and do not modify the program, ALL succeed. I have had failure in the past with athletes not following the program. The result? They don’t do well, or meet their goals—and think the answer lies somewhere “out there” elsewhere. It isn’t hard to pick them out. Motivated at the start, it only takes a couple months to see what they are really made of (or not). The best successes I’ve had include Ironman Hawaii qualifier athletes, ITU World Championship qualifiers, 5150 Championship qualifiers, personal bests all season long for all those athletes that actually do what I instruct them to. To those athletes, I commend all of you for staying the course and proving to yourself that you CAN do what it takes to be your best. I’m proud to be part of that success and being your “program manager” for athletics.

This summer I had a lot of fun with some friends visiting from Claremont, Florida. We rode up Mt. Evans which is something I’ve always wanted to do (holy moley was it COLD UP THERE!!!) I took some pictures of a Marmot which was cool (looked like a beaver). Then the following weekend an athlete of mine and one of my Florida friends rode my favorite 118 mile route up in the mountains through National Forest climbing nearly 10,000 vertical feet—and met up with Raynard Tissink (5th overall pro in Ironman Hawaii one year). These two outings alone pretty much doubled my normal weekly training volume but it was a lot of fun. There were a little too many going out to eat trips during those two weeks but it was nice to not have to cook much during that time (or grocery shop). Most of the time was spent remodeling the front entry of the house so it was booku-back-breaking-work for much of those two weeks. So much to do & so little time!

I’ve been glad to be off the Facebook thing on my iPhone for a few months and wow—what time it saves!~ Never realized what a waste FB really is unless you really need or want to connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I took the “app” off the phone because life is too short to waste on FB. I “Tweet” as @toontriathlete but not very often. Besides, FB is dangerous because there are so many folks “offended” by something you may say, and there are always nosey people peering in on what you say there. One of the guys that came from Florida this summer was a director at some company in I.T. and said that he goes on there regularly to “spy” on workers or potential workers. Then he said they fire them if they say something they feel they shouldn’t have said. While I didn’t really know the guy (he just came along with the others for the trip to Colorado), he was “proud” of what he does. I told him those accounts are personal networking/friends type of things and companies really have no business taking action when it is “personal” such as things they do on their time that is their own opinions or statements (it is a free country right?) He said it was “public knowledge” which I call B.S. on—it is a personal account and the account owner’s freedom of speech so companies should BUTT OUT on it. Anyhow, I didn’t care much for the guy after that. Guess he couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong so it isn’t my problem.

As for reconnecting, the 25th H.S. reunion is next year, oh boy…I went to the 20th and it seemed like some either had plastic surgery to “try” to improve looks while others I totally didn’t recognize. Meaning, wow, how “old” they looked. Full heads of hair were gone, bellies appeared, gray instead of other colors were covering their heads (or not!) and wrinkles were the norm. I didn’t think we were that old! Some actually looked better in their late 30’s than as teens. The clicks were still there—gravitating towards each other, like they were in high school. Some didn’t even bother to say hi (just like in the halls in high school)…although it was nice to reconnect with some of the nicer people out there. It was awesome hanging out with my cousin Dave & Robin, and my old next-door-neighbor Jennifer. I had my “fill” for a few more reunions (maybe I’ll go back for the 35th or something). Besides, I’m booked during reunion time anyhow so already commitments are made for 2012.

Winter…had not skied ONCE last winter. Did I miss it? Not the time it takes to drive up there, wax skis and spend an entire day just for a few hours of skiing. But yes, missed the tranquil trails zipping up & down mountains on 2” wide skinny skis. Next up for racing…5430 half (which will be longer to compete in one day than my entire week of training this year so far). It is actually called the Boulder 70.3 Half now, but it will be hot & no, I am not looking forward to it despite racing at the top of the pointy end of the races this season. There may be a few other races this fall I’ll hop into at the last minute, and a winter marathon just for funzzies. One thing I’ve come to realize is that training should include lots of racing just to break things up. Race often, race yourself into shape, get experience and use it as a plain old “C” race effort type of training or interval work. If anything, you may end up racing as fast or faster than you have with quadruple the training volume. It goes back to quality. If there is little time to train, usually you’ll end up hitting the most important key workouts and toss aside all the “junk”.

On to 2012…who knows what lies ahead for next year. There are some “goals” set in place (yes, another Ironman) as well as non-racing goals set in place. We’ll see how much more efficient I can become working towards those by cutting out the “fluff” from daily routines. Maybe clean up the amount of email I get, spend less time looking at email—and hone the daily routines and create a more organized approach to daily “to do” lists. Luckily I don’t have a video game habit, nor am I glued to the television for anything. In fact, I don’t really watch much of any TV—no time for it! Live each day to the fullest, try to smell the roses each day, as long as you can. Don’t waste the days you have, spend them eeking out every single minute to the maximum you can squeeze out of it. You never know how many minutes you have left. Period. Until next time—be the best you can be. Be everything you know you can be. Forge your own path, don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do—you make it all happen. Or you don’t. As a wise puppet once said in a fantasy film…”You DO…or DO NOT…there is no try.”—Yoda.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Flight of Time

Criminees & Jimney Crickets!  It has been since April 13th since my last post & not sure where the time has flown. So much going on with Memorial Day weekend/Boulder Creek Festival & oh, my 42nd birthday on Friday! Yeah, made it this far in life & am still breathing, that's an accomplishment in itself when you look at all the folks that pass on too early in their lives. Some go by the wayside & take themselves out from accidents, or stupidity, or it "just happens". I'll call myself one of the lucky ones & be thankful for it.

Some home projects have been put on hold so that others could be started. The yard project will have to wait so that I can start inside projects. Not sure where all the time will come from to do it all, but it will be a learning experience doing a remodel of a bathroom. Plus, it just sounds fun. Playing with thinset is like playing in the mud in the rain. Combine that with a contractor grade wet-saw power tool "Ohhr Arrr Arrr" like Tim the Tool Man would say, it makes for a daunting yet exciting challenge!

Bolder Boulder is only a few days away & I often wonder why the heck I have only run it ONE time in the 15 years I have been here. I guess it is too short. 10KM just doesn't seem "right" to bother getting a pair of shorts dirty for, or shirt or the socks. Nor does it warrant waking up so dang early. It is fun to watch--but even that seems far too early to do. The races I seem to do well at include an 80 mile warm up before I "get going" and rolling. Anything shorter just isn't my bag of tea. I seem to look at all the runners & say, "Thank gosh I'm sitting here on the curb not in pain!" More power to them but it sure is a fun time watching everyone.

It FINALLY stopped raining a few days ago before it started again. Yes, I mananged TWO bike rides in the last two weeks because my bike isn't equipped to be a dual-purpose raft. The tires do not float. Hopefully this weekend will lend some dry days to sort of allow a ride of adequate distance (whatever that may be on that day). I'll try to remember to take some before/after pictures of the bathroom remodel (which is still over a month away from starting). Until next time (at the rate I've been posting that will be 2012!) safe!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Wings of Angels...

Ever have one of those days where some odd thought drops into your head like it was delivered there on the wings of some angel? The thoughts are all happy & smiley like the only thing you could think about is nothing but good thoughts? Here's the I had just finished a 4,000 yard swim (okay, a rare day of solid training--so maybe the endorphines contributed to the warm cozy thoughts...) I then followed it up with nearly an hour aqua jog. There was an elderly water aerobics exercise class in the other half of the pool where some lane lines were taken down. I was watching these now smiling elderly get out of the pool, some barely could make it up the ladder. Some were carrying a good 100+ lbs extra and having a heckuva time walking. There were still smiling, seemingly happy at getting some exercise.

Suddenly, I couldn't help but wonder what walks of life these folks came from, or what amazing things they had done in there many years of living. How many great things good deeds throughout the years that had added up and affected so many people in positive ways. Here they were in the twilight of their time here on earth, seeking out that "feeling" of being alive through exercise. Some could have been teachers or postal workers, health care industry employees, electricians or even maids. It didn't matter what their past was in this moment, only that they were--and ARE. They are here, enjoying whatever it was they had done, enough to make it through all those years. Life must have been somewhat happy for them if they were walking on the pool deck smiling with such grins. Yes, they were really cute, "older" people. How interesting the stories must be just sitting down and listening to them. The history and monumental achievements they have passed on to this world and those interacting with them.

At a time I should have been concentrating on technique, form, breathing patterns during a workout, these wonderful people came into my view and I wondered about them. I wondered about how great these people are to someone out there. I will never know them, or their stories, but there is one story I will say I was told today by each and every one of them. The look on their faces smiling, laughing, joking...delivered a smile to my face and made me feel lucky just to be alive. Somehow I became happy the rest of the afternoon because there were so many angels delivering smiles on their wings today.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Where do the athletes go...?

As a kid getting into running at about age 14, there was a guy that lived 2 doors down. From what I recall, the single most successful men's post-collegiate runner from my home town. Steve Wagner--from Alpena. He would wake me up in the summer by running past our house on the first of his daily two runs. One around 7 or 7:30 AM, the other around 1:30 or 2 PM. It has been many years but those are the time I recall hearing him run by--I would pop up in bed to try to see if I could catch a glimpse of this speedster before he disappeared. He ran in America's 10K...not sure if they have it still, but supposedly one person from each state was chosen to represent a state to vie for top honors. Some of the times I seem to recall (but can't find anything on the Internet)...was a near 30 minute 10K, as well as a near Olympic Qualifier time for the marathon. That would place him around 2:20-2:25. Again, I do not recall the specifics just only that he went on to do some amazing things. Steve was not the fastest runner from the high school days but certainly was up there during a time of top dogs who now have their pictures hanging in the Walk of Fame just outside the gym doors at Alpena High. Guys like Chad Zielinski, Todd Zielinski and Ed Matash. These are the true all time champs I recall from high school days--to make state championships and have your picture in the Walk of Fame...WOW! On a side note, I debated on Facebook who the top runner in high school was and it came down to Todd Zielinski and Ed Matash. Both ran in slightly different eras. Ed ran when most races were 3.0 miles, Todd ran 5km (3.1 miles). I believe Todd's fastest 5km time in high school was 15:55 where Ed's was 15:32. Different distances and most likely different courses--so I will call it a tie. Just simply because it is too close to call--although Todd went on to college and posted a top 15 in college national championships (NJCAA I think it was called--for junior colleges).

Back to folks contacted me this past weekend to ask if I knew Steve, as they didn't recall much about him. Asking me if I knew of a runner from Alpena or not is like asking the Pope if he is Catholic! They told me of the story and here is the link and ultimately what happened to Steve:  HERE
Sad as it seems I barely recognized the once runner-like person in the photo, although I saw it in his eyes. I used to walk a few doors down to talk to Steve (or Laura or Brian his siblings), mostly Steve though--because he was a runner and I wanted to pick his mind on training. I saw how hard this guy worked to become the runner he once was, now wonder what became of all those that worked so hard to get where they got to. What made them stop? What kept them going--and do they miss it?

Undoubtedly the fastest female runner from the home area is currently Michele Suszek who oddly enough only lives about 20 minutes away from me in Colorado. She is the 12th ranked female marathoner in the USA...and has qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials. While I have not met her personally, except talking on FB or email, I wish her all the best in her efforts.

Of course, there would not be a point of mentioning all this without the name of one person...Jeff Blumenthal. The schmuck (not really--I've always been very thankful for him dragging me into whatever he has any time while growing up)...sat next to me in band class who couldn't quit talking about ski racing (I never heard of Nordic skiing & thought how boring to ride up to the top & jet down the hill at warp speed). Jeff was also one of the top runners in high school in the state during his years of running cross country and indeed went on to race in the state finals--although not quite the caliber of Ed Matash and Todd Zielinski--he was certainly faster than I ever was in high school. Jeff is the knucklehead who dragged me into cross country skiing just before he went on to win NCAA Division II National XC ski Championships. He also went to the Olympic Trials and finished 16th in the 10km skate event and respectable finishes in the other disciplines. I went on to race in college as well as compete in the USA Junior Olympics representing the Midwest region of the USA. Additionally, Jeff dragged me into triathlon as well. Triathlon led me to Colorado seeking better competition in my age group which led me to racing "pro" for one year. Of course, I had a full time job and we all know how pro sports are plagued with doping and performance enhancing drugs so I was already at a double-disadvantage to some of the athletes I started next to. But what kid wouldn't want to say they wouldn't want to play for the Tigers or Yankees if they were in Little League? Racing pro was the equal in triathlon and I met the qualifications so I did. Then I called it "good" and went back to racing amateur, which I still do. But this leads me back to my point and title of where do the athletes go?

I haven't gone anywhere, although my best competitive days may be over--missing three of what should have been my best years to injury starting around 2007. I still strive to be the best I can with the time I have. My friend Jeff (who I credit for dragging me into skiing & triathlon--THANKS JEFF) doesn't really do much in solo sports these days with all the kids he has and following blowing his knee out, thus, ending his ski career many years ago in a ski race. Steve Wagner, if you read the above link--we know what happened to him. Ed, Chad, and Todd...not sure what happened to them either. Although I did get with Todd in Marquette, Michigan when I lived there...he and his family invited me over for Thanksgiving one time and he ran just to stay fit. It was an honor to run with my captain from high school--and certainly one of my personal childhood heroes. Where did they all go, why do they stop and do they miss it?

I know the answer for myself--I have not stopped, never really felt the want or need to. Training/racing certainly is not a priority anymore. The others mentioned in this blog entry have their reasons which are fine...they had talent beyond anything I could ever have been born with. These were national level athletes at one time. It seems that after competing in 10 World Championships (9 Hawaii Ironmans & 1 ITU World Olympic Distance Championships), there was something that just took a little longer to develop. Something that is still there to this day, the answer to "How far do you want to take it?"  The answer has always been the same:  AS FAR AS I POSSIBLY CAN. Longevity in sport, the will to know that just because the other guy may be bigger, faster, or stronger...does not mean that they can't get their asses kicked. I have and am not going anywhere...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Motivation In Athletics

2010 was a fantastic season for the athletes I coached who were with Gemini 85% of the athletes I worked with achieved personal bests in one or more triathlon distances. Starting off this year is an experienced new athlete from New York who has set three personal bests in three races--a pretty fantastic start for one with experience to any degree.

I think there are fewer people in life willing to give you a chance in life, than chances you yourself take in life. Because once you decide to take a chance, there are those not willing to meet your motivation to help you succeed. I personally have run into this and enjoy proving the nay-sayers wrong. This is something I have offered to those who have approached me for my experience in the sport--a chance. The common situation goes something like this...

An athlete approaches me for coaching...if I have room in my roster and if they have some sort of direction they are interested in I will work with them. Usually it is something to the effect of: "I want to qualify for the Ironman in Hawaii." Few understand where they are and where they need to get to in order to achieve such a lofty goal. The years of training it will take is often not realized until after year one of working with them. So many athletes think in just one year they will be racing in Hawaii --but so few are willing to make the sacrifices needed over the long term to get there. The main thing to do as a coach is be positive and reinforce their goals any way possible.

If you are not willing to go the full 100% of the way and dedicate yourself to your goal then there is no point to go any further & that person needs to adjust their goals to something lesser than Hawaii . Maybe to finish an Ironman first should be that goal. The most dedicated athlete I worked with to date took 5 years from an absolute "newbie" in the sport to Hawaii Qualification. During that time, he was loyal and dedicated in a manner that not even I had attained in my race career. Of course the kid had talent upon working with him initially, but he surprised me (and eventually surpassed me) in many races. You never know what sort of sheep is under all that wool until you sheer it off over time.

The most motivated individuals (initially) are usually the ones that fizzle-out early on and eventually drop out of site and out of mind. Often, we never see them finish a single race after they have left My Pride. It is the quiet ones who just do the work and keep the faith and ego at bay--holding onto hope and developing that base, knowledge and earned experience. Never giving way to those who say "Nay" even once. We can all achieve our dreams, we have that ability. But a dream is just that until action is taken. Paying the dues to make it happen is where 99.9% fall short. There are those willing to give the chance, but there are usually those who are not willing to even take that first step towards making it all a reality in the first place. These folks keeping those swirling desires at bay for some reason & hold onto it forever as a dream--and that is how many got started in the sport. My question to them is why is that dream still just a dream?