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.