Friday, November 30, 2012

Here we are 2013!

Tomorrow is December 1st so I'll sneak in a quick blog here. Boulder right now is set for a high of 61-63 F today. The large storms looming to the west we may in fact be under a white blanket this time next week--one can only hope, the moisture is needed. With the shortest daylight hours of the year only three weeks away, it is time to give thanks for all the blessings we've had in 2012.

1) Yeah, the world didn't end, it likely won't in December either...I predict that is a myth.
2) For our families & friends who support us throughout our crazy sporting year, making those sacrifices so we can play in our own way.
3) Our health...without it, we wouldn't be able to enjoy those we love, or those things we love to do.

On the sporting side of things, once again, everyone I have worked with this season has done something special. From a first time Ironman Robert (who qualified for Kona on his first try), Ethan--a cyclist who will be "cat-ing" up in 2013 & never finished worse than 5th overall...winning his last race, Max--who set a half marathon PR, Jennifer...who ended the season with a 38 minute PR & 6th in her AG at Ironman Arizona. Those are a few highlights so if I've missed anything else please check my "Latest Updates" at www.geminimultisport.com for additional accomplishments throughout the season. It's been a super ride. I'd also like to thank all of our sponsors on the home page of the Gemini website just listed. Especially to Blue Seventy's Mike Orton--who always seems to come through for us when we need a rush or last minute order, you guys are the best!

It didn't take long to pick up things after a rest from Kona, gradually ramping up time and purposefully setting up many races from now until spring, just to force the fitness consistency. God knows I hate getting my butt kicked in a race but it happens so often the least I can do it put up a decent fight by keeping the fat off when most are putting it on. The course will change for 2013 in that as previous blogs mentioned I'll be doing strictly short course (meant anything shorter than a full Ironman distance). There will be non-WTC races, USAT races & of course WTC races like the ones here in Boulder. It'll be fun & won't require the long training hours of full distance racing. At my age, I've decided to do the "every-other-year Ironman" thing. Recovering some speed is needed between those years, as well as the family time is so valuable, that doing fulls each year just don't appeal to me at this time.

On the coaching side, I've actually already had to turn down several athletes for a 2013 roster already...a couple from Europe (due to keeping a few spots open for later returning athletes I've coached before.) Not sure how they heard about me, but it is always surprising when someone comes along who I never knew before or even without reference. You don't have to have an army of athletes or army of coaches or be spread all over the internet with advertising in every online mag out there, to be a successful coach. What you do need though, is to care about the athlete & their goals in a friendly, approachable relationship. To you athletes out there, there are always "spots" available throughout the year as some end their season early or some decide last minute to step back from the sport for one reason or another. Inquire about availability by dropping me an email at kk@geminimultisport.com   See you at the races! Happy Holidays..
KK


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Off Season?

Nope, not really off season, in fact, I'm already healed from 98% of my wounds from Kona & have actually run twice already--though quite sore from it! The best thing to do now is knock out some "to-do-list" items and be consistent with at least a little exercise so the flab doesn't start to jostle around too much. It is quite early to start any training per sa of seriousness, especially since there isn't a real solid goal for 2013 other than to do some local races and have fun. Along the way there will be tweaks & changes to the schedule, but surely it is looking like a lot more family time is in order for 2013, which is great for all of us!

It has been a pleasure working with the athletes this year and seeing them come along so far performing to many successes. First, I'd like to say thanks to all the athletes this year that I've had the opportunity to guide to their most excellent seasons. Thanks for believing in my program and even more, yourself.  Thanks to my family for their support when I have had to keep away from certain family functions to either train or work with the athletes, they understand I also have a job to do also.

As we close the chapter on 2012, I welcome back past athletes and new ones. The smart ones are those who are starting early working towards their goals. I look forward to seeing more P.R.'s for you next year.
To cap off this blog entry...I'll have more time to post this fall/winter hopefully--in case anyone is up for expanded versions of the crazy details of "my world" and this sort of lifestyle. Hopefully it will all be as educational as it is entertaining!  'Til next time...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 Ironman Hawaii Race Report


This season has been a series of ups & downs, starting out the season well in some short running races and a decent Boulder Sprint Triathlon. Ironman CDA went quite well for me by being able to qualify for my 10th start in the Hawaii Ironman. The Boulder Peak was only less than two weeks from finishing the Ironman in Idaho so despite being totally flat and sub-standard swim/bike AND run, I managed a podium finish in 3rd place. The big issue throughout the 5430 half (now called the Boulder 70.3) was I had a foot injury from CDA--which kept me from running throughout a large portion of the summer from Ironman CDA to Boulder 70.3 except for aqua jogging. Luckily, there was enough time to recover by Ironman Hawaii to get in a few longer runs.


Bad luck started with couple months prior to Kona, but this may have been a blessing in disguise. The lack of training either helped or hurt me. I’m not sure as there has always been a large volume training build, with a month and a half left before Hawaii. This time training looked like this:

The below are dates with hours/minutes of total training time taken directly from my Training Peaks account log.

Aug 6-12: 6:27 (still injured)

Aug 13-19: 2:10 (still injured)

Aug 20-26: 1:41 (still injured)

Aug 20-Sept 2: 8:47

Sept 3-9: 11:54

Sept 10-16: 13:09

Sept 17-23: 7:11 (sick)

Sept 24-30: 7:19 (sick)

Oct 1-7: 6:34

Oct 8-12: 3:10

Ideally this low of volume is not an ideal build up for Ironman. I also may have ramped up a little too soon but there was an illness “floating around” which many people have gotten or have now.

The race (October 13, 2012):

I placed myself far left as I could, swimming the entire 2.4 miles casually as I would a warm up training pace. It was uneventful & quite tame as there was not a lot of punching/kicking this time around. The entire plan for today was to a) spend 2/3 the race screwing around going slow, then nail the run b) make hydration & pacing the priority. The entire swim was purposefully spent going slow. Yet, my time/placing was actually pretty good without even trying. It’s hard to criticize a decent swim placing with little effort.

The bike: Lots of drafting here, but Jimmy Riccitello and his draft marshals did an exceptional job catching the cheaters this year. I raced clear of penalty & rode as I would a long training ride. Hydration, calorie ingestion were all priorities. Special needs didn’t have my bag ready in Hawi so I pulled over for about a minute until they were able to find it & get it to me. Winds were the second worse I’ve experienced on the Big Island. Those hammering the bike were pretty much going to pay the price on the run. Therefore, I rode extra slow & conservative while trying to keep the body core temp down.

T2: This was only my SECOND of two bathroom stops for the race. Vast improvement! Usually it is 4+ times that I stop during an Ironman to relieve the body. However, I took my time in T1 & T2 to sit down and calmly put on my gear, grab extra drinks and make sure I was comfortable before heading into the next leg of the race. Usually I am tops on transitions but took a more relaxed approach this time.

The run: The plan was to hammer the run knowing I could pull off a 3:10. Five miles into the run on the left foot, a large blister formed to the left of the ball of the foot & between the second toe. Damage control had me altering the landing which then caused a right foot little toe blister. That in turn, altered my landing again, which caused a left foot little toe blister. The blister on the bottom of the left foot popped and feet were so swollen, that the friction caused skin to peel away to raw meat. The plan for a 3:10 run fell apart although I had plenty of energy to run that fast—the pain in the feet were nearly unbearable. The shoes (Adidas Adios 2’s) were great in training, but I hadn’t accounted for the amount of swelling in the feet (plus they are not “seamless shoes”) so yes there were issues. I walked all the aid stations after that, finishing in 3:23 for a 10:00:26…only 26 seconds from breaking 10 hours. My record here is not great with the heat being my #1 enemy. Never before had I finished the bike without being at least partially “blown up” so when the finish line came along, I had the energy to go another 10 miles, but the feet were done. Raw meat, it wasn’t pretty. Still dehydrated I was a little dizzy afterwards & just wanted to sit down to rest the feet. Either way, I was disgusted with the fact there was so much energy left at the end of this race, but not being able to complete the task due to the blistering. Oh well, it’ll be a return in 2014 when I age up hopefully. Take a year off in 2013 for short course & local races, complete a few home projects…then whatever comes after that.

My hats off to my Kona roommate Robert Brink who in his fourth triathlon (first Hawaii & 2nd ever Ironman), kept me at bay until just after the Energy Lab heading back to town. You kept it steady all day and it has been a pleasure to coach you this year and making your dream a reality. At 27 years, you have a long and strong future ahead of you in the sport.

In hindsight 2012 had ups and downs, Kona was while a disappointment in many ways, was a success in other ways. I’m always my biggest critic (I think!) Whatever I do is usually not good enough for me, although this time around keeping the heat at bay/under control as well as not blowing up on the course with such minimal training, makes me think of the larger picture in how much improvement can be made over the next couple years despite aging and supposedly should be slowing. Just because the general consensus is that we “should be” slowing doesn’t mean I have to. Hard work, planning and smarter racing can go a long way to exceeding what is nothing more than an unproven age barrier.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2012 Hawaii Ironman (PRE RACE)

Now that I am all packed for Kona, Hawaii & ready to leave next week, I was finally able to get out for a bike ride today with a swim preceding that. During today's ride I knew one of the things really needing to get done for a mental relief prior to leaving, was update my blog. Undoubtedly, there will be some viewing this blog because friends said they would keep an eye out for a "Kona update" from me here. What to write about though? This should not be a problem as I have plenty to say about a lot of things--no matter what subject it is.


Why so many athletes feel the need to create blog entries prior to races or after races (as in race reports), or Twit on Twitter more frequently, I think I have the answer. It may be a way to calm the nerves/inner self, or sandbag to the public/fellow competitors, brag/psych-out their competitors, or even because they have more time on their hands and do not know what to do with themselves during the taper (too much time on their hands). There could be a lot of reasons. I think one of those reasons at least, may in fact be one for this update, although writing period does seem to be an outlet for me regardless.

The summary of how the last five weeks of preparation have gone...last week was a little over seven hours total training, the week before the same at 7:11. The three weeks prior to that I was sick for the entire three weeks. There were a few short 1 hour or less workouts despite being sick, so we're looking at around only 16-18 hours total for the last month. Certainly not enough to say I'm overtrained. Post Kona-Qualifying visions for this same time period were a large volume build with some decent speedwork. It turns out I'm riding the wave early season fitness because that vision I had is 180 degrees in the opposity direction of the reality. If anything it'll be a "super taper" sort to speak. Not sure what I'd be tapering from, but it doesn't matter as there is nothing I can do at this point but put all the internal negative thoughts in the bottom of the sea. The best approach at this time is to not panic train and utilize the experience I've built over 23 other Ironman races. Pacing & nutrition are the best allies come race day, it is the one thing we as races come to realize after all is said and done--boiling Ironman strategy down to the most basic principles to follow.

Expectations? Certainly. I expect it to be hot, windy and not to my liking. However, I welcome the challenge because I will continue to keep going back (now every OTHER YEAR to Kona--should I qualify those years), to attempt to conquer the demons that meet me at this race each time. Heat has always been my biggest enemy, nope, I do NOT like the heat in any way, shape or form. This is why I have chosen IM CDA as a qualifier race for me the last three times. It is pretty much considered a "cool" to "cold" race where I excel. As the last race of the year it is my expectation to also continue my quest to become a better athlete with this race lending inspiration to the coming years of racing as well as to the athletes I coach.

Looking back on a somewhat successful amateur career and being (in the Twilight of my best race years), the age of where "decline begins" for the male endurance athlete, it has been a fun ride thus far. The goal is to continue the lifestyle & stave off age and diminishing results best I can. Taking NO for a stance to Father Time, I'll continue to strive to prove him wrong that I'll slow from this day forward. Some days I feel like this has already happened while other days it feels as if I'm still improving with all the same intensity and excitement of my younger years. Whether the little dude with horns says, "I can't" on one shoulder--or the one with wings on the other shoulder says, "I CAN", no matter what happens race day as an end result is not going to stop the future process or lifestyle. The FINISH line is not the finish/end result, ever. It is always simply a new BEGINNING that I look forward to each day my eyes open to when the alarm clock goes off before getting out of bed. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Ironman Boulder 70.3 Race Report


Let it be known starting out how grateful I am in exceeding (place wise) my expectations in the age group finish. Dealing with what one medical expert calls extensor tendinitis since Ironman Coeur D’Alene limiting my run to a handful since well over a month ago, there wasn’t much to expect aside from something short of disaster. Training has not gone well until a week ago. However, I only had two runs the last two weeks due to this acute issue keeping me from my #1 strength.

Wake up time was 5 AM. Quick coffee, Clif Bar, toast, fill the tires (disc wheel for this race), ride the bike the entire 3 miles to the start. Simple plan I follow living so close to all the local races—holds true for the sprint, oly & half races we have here in Boulder. Since Ironman CDA on June 24th, I’ve been 100% inactive for 2 weeks while fishing in Canada…then sporadic training and low energy levels leading right up to the day before the Boulder 70.3. My “pop” in the legs only showed hints of re-surfacing about a week ago although most of the time the legs were admittedly flat. It showed at the Boulder Peak too…flat. No zip, no pop, nadda. The outlook for 70.3 wasn’t that good given I’ve run more in a week preparing for IM CDA than I did SINCE Ironman CDA (I’ll just call it IM CDA from here out).

As a coach, I wouldn’t have suggested an athlete to race with an injury like this. However, it had not been really tested in a long, long time (the foot)…additionally, this race, like the sprint & oly (The Boulder Peak Tri), were all C races. Nothing more than a training day. No expectations really, not even finishing for sure was an expectation. I knew the run was going to be tough, after all, no running right? The next item up for bid…the HALF iron distance is my single worst distance—ever, always has been. After that, HEAT is my Nemesis, after all, look at my historical Kona finishes. Never have done well there, but once—which still isn’t that impressive (to me anyhow). Hell, I didn’t even do a warm up for this race aside from a few hundred yards of freestyle & backstroke because of wanting to save “the foot” for later.

Long and short of pre-race was during the Anthem, I realized how lucky I am to be American and out here doing this sport, enjoying it while others in some countries are dodging bullets and lucky to ever see a clear blue sky like I was under, once the smoke from the bomb shells disappear. I digress…there were about 255 registered in the 40-44 AG. There were 15 waves total in the race, I was wave 8. The one thing with these Boulder races is the sun…no way could we see the far turn buoy. Starting far right actually nearest the buoy, when the horn blew I sprinted for a couple hundred yards. Then settled into what I felt was a warm up pace. Oddly enough, I found myself alone. No cap colors the same as mine. Was I in front? I had no idea…never been in that position on the swim before. I kept imagining the underwater Olympic footage of the freestyle races. For some reason it relaxed me and things felt more efficient than usual. By the end of the swim exit, I looked around…nobody in front…my first “FIRST out of the water” swim in a big-time high caliber race. There was ONE guy faster from wave two of our AG, but I still claimed the SECOND fastest swim in the 40-44 Age Group. Awesome…makes me want to work more on my swim now to keep it going!

T1—looking at T1 & T2 times, combined, there is nobody close in transition, it’s been that way all season long. Some years I’m slower but this year, great transitions, nailed all of them so far. I headed out onto the bike and saw Jen, wife of Mark (who I saw just before my wave went off). Mark is a guy I coached a couple years ago—well, I had given a shout out to Jen to GO! She kindly emailed me today actually, informing me that myself & some other guy glued to my rear wheel from my AG, were way out in front of everyone else. Quickly making way through the previous waves, the crowds thinned north of town. About mile 5 “the pass” came from Joe Fogerty (who has won all three of the Series races this year). He was taking it easy on the first lap of the bike so I passed him back, may as well, let’s have some fun right? We went back & forth a few times up to mile 25 when he dropped me & the guy that I *think* Jen said was glued to my wheel (I didn’t ever look back so don’t know who it was). Anyhow, that is about the time I also dropped Mr. Drafter guy who had passed me a few times looking back at Joe & I as if to say, “C’mon guys, let’s pace line this thing!” This “guy” hooked up on Joe’s back wheel for a while as I watched from about 75 yards back. One thing I did not want to happen is let Joe out of my sight too far—ha ha, like that was going to happen. Needless to say, he put 10 minutes into me on lap 2 of the bike.

Realizing the pace he then set would take too much to hold close, I continued on with the same way the swim went…easy. I’ll admit, my effort was wimpy and not difficult at all on the bike. Legs never really felt strained as the goal was nutrition to stave off the inevitable heat/dehydration from the 90+ F. The energy sapper would be the run as it would be about the time the heat really was supposed to hit.


T2—lickity-split in and out in 50 seconds. Excellent! Immediately upon the first few steps using a lacing system in my “Kona shoes” which would alleviate pressure on the top injured portion of my foot, the lead in the legs were apparent. Each step was running in mud-like effort. Clearly my “A” sport was gone. Zippo—not there. Known more as a runner than swimmer or biker, there was nothing to fall back on to hoist me up the ladder of results. I did get some inspiration when Dave Scott, yelled at me, “Good job Kevin! Keep it steady going up this grade!” First it was surprising that Dave picked me out remembering my name. Sure we live in the same town but he’s big time & I’m small apples and a dime a dozen of an athlete, not even what I would call “elite” anything. He’s surrounded by those types day in & day out. So yeah, it was cool to hear that from him. The run was more of a soggy shuffle than anything. Again, taking in calories and liquids to practice nutrition for Kona was the main effort here. That—and finishing the run. Each step uphill was way more painful than the flats or downhills as more pressure is required to bound off the front/midfoot on an uphill. Not having my lace system “X” over the top of my foot and having the laces parallel for half of the shoe helped a lot. However, the shoes were LOOSE on the foot/feet and did cause more blisters than normal.

A note on my competition…Joe had been so far ahead at this point that after the turn around at mile 6.5 I did not see him again until the finish line. No idea how wave 2 of my AG was doing, something that wasn’t an issue because it was only getting to that finish line that I hoped for. There were two guys faster in the area that did not show up race day so that helped a lot in the final standings…but at this point a guy from a previous launched wave I know (while passing him on the run), said, “To the best of my knowledge, you’re in 4th place." NO IDEA if that was in the AG or overall, it didn’t matter…just looking for the finish line! It’s difficult in knowing that, normally, I can hit the turbo thrusters & make up tons of ground on a run on any given day. Now I was in a position where the lack of running and pain from just slapping the ground sends screams of STOP! throughout the nervous system. As long the body still felt there would be no long term damage done—the mind allowed it to continue. The pace was soooo slow in fact; I likely could have kept that pace up indefinitely. It was an easy pace, yet so painful. I’ll call it a “highly uncomfortable cruise mode” and leave it at that.

The final half mile was hilarious. A runner from 35-39 AG in front of me was daring me to pass him towards the finish. He was completing his first loop on the run, he knew somehow I was on the second lap. It went something like this…”C’mon, put 10-15 seconds on me by the finish line, c’mon, pass me!” I was laughing inside because there was no more speed…that was it. The Governor had been met! However, running downhill I did end up passing him. One thing I’m really happy about is that I did not have to stop to use the bathroom the ENTIRE race. That just doesn’t happen to me in a half or longer race. No time lost there!

The ending…final AG place was 3rd. Great swim for me despite easy effort, easy bike ride, worst run in likely 10 years of racing halfs. Surprise! A slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships! However, I passed on the slot and did let it roll down to the next person in the age group. Got the slice of a tree for an award (varnished log with the race logo burned into it), plus a good sunburn to show for it! Now about two more weeks of rehab, no running aside from aqua jogging, then hoping things will be better for Kona training. At least I can bike/swim…if the foot stops its distractions early, you may find me out on the trails. I’ll be the one looking like he is re-learning to run again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Slow Ironman Recovery

It has been nearly four weeks since Ironman CDA, recovery still looms ahead many weeks. There are not many weeks to count between now and Ironman Hawaii. Taking two complete weeks off swim/bike/run while fishing in Canada only a day after returning to Colorado, I participated in Boulder Peak Triathlon. It was a difficult time racing without any of the horsepower I was used to, knowing there was no spark from being drained from a recent Ironman. After winning last year, as well as the Boulder Tri Series win for my Age Group, all on an average of 3.5 to 4 hours total training a week--the focus has shifted from short to long course once again. The results and training are very different.

The "A" races in 2011 were not all that serious due to the limited training time, which was nothing more than a down year from Ironman. However, the results were somewhat surprising to me given such little training. Yes, results were quite excellent while the motivation and goals were not that important aside from going through the motions and hoping to not get too embarrassed with dismal performance.

With the goal to race long in 2012, the hours, nutrition and rest all increased greatly. The same 2011 "A" races are now considered "C" and "B" races in 2012. Who in their right mind would race a sprint, then an Ironman a week later, train once (a 9 min/mile 4 mile run)during a TWO weeks period, then hop in one of the most competitive Olympic Distance races in the USA? Not to mention having extensor tendinitis in both feet. That is what happened, that is how it went down.

Currently, training is a chore at best just trying to turn the pedals over. Nearly pulling over on a climb to Ward yesterday, the question of how long will it take to get my "pizaz" back came to mind. Having run once since the Boulder Peak due to the tendinitis and only having swam once, the Boulder 70.3 is not looking too prospective to even start. Yes, doubts if whether that weekend could be used for recovery rather than another "also ran race" are certainly key to think about for Hawaii preparation.

We are getting close to Hawaii, closer than I care to think about. Each time, Hawaii is just a "go through the motions" race with little emphasis on actually competing. It is more just participating. The course does not suit my strengths being as hot as it is there. For some reason getting to Hawaii is something I normally can get myself UP for to compete and qualify, even above what my fitness should let me. Mentally, the qualifier races are something that I'm able to raise up to meet the challenge, putting the pedal to the metal and pushing through pain that normally could not be pushed through.

With the upcoming Boulder 70.3, knowing half iron races are my absolute WORST distance to race, I'm concerned recovery from CDA is not going as it should. Sure eating well is helping, as is the extra weekend rest and reduced training volume. Seriously, something has to change in the next couple weeks. If the tendinitis can subside, there may be a profound change in my current approach to Kona. It sure would be nice to run and swim again pain free!

Taking a look ahead to the near future, obviously it would be nice to ramp up swim and run training. It would also be enjoyable to not race a 70.3 and get my butt kicked. As I've said, my worst distance between sprint, oly, half & full is definitely the half. Finally, it sure would be nice to actually not have nutrition or bonk issues in Kona, thereby completing something I consider respectable of a time there. What is that? Anything under 10 would be nice. Preferably something faster than my best there which is really not that fast considering what some times on other courses have been. Out of what will be 10 starts this year (from 15 KQ's), only ONE has NOT been between 10 and 10.5. Talk about consistency! While not a blazing fast athlete by any means, the one thing that I do have on my side is consistency. Since I'm in this sport for longevity, it seems there are still many, many years to keep attempting some form of improvement or milestones before old age decreases the ability too much.

Okay Hawaii...here we go again, give me just ONE good race for once, something that is not on par with all the other Kona starts. After all, those lava rocks I brought back to the mainland from my first trip there and then sent back to your Chamber of Commerce has to count for something doesn’t it? I thought the bad luck ended when the rocks were returned…



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

Preface:

The journey and thus "A" race goal for this year (Ironman CDA) actually began back in June 2011 the minute I signed up for the 2012 race. Rumor had it Lance Armstrong was going to come back to triathlon to race Kona so the wheels began turning when I heard the rumor. Not everyone can say they were able to race in the same World Championships as the man who is debatably cycling's biggest superstar of all time. The perfect launch pad was a race that had been good to me twice before, Ironman CDA. It is the perfect time of the year as it allows plenty of prep time even after a long Colorado winter and is traditionally on the cool side for many.

My first attempt at CDA was in 2009 where I was 3rd in the 40-44 age group. The second attempt in 2010 I was 2nd in the 40-44...with only one spot left on the podium to nail down I broke ground in January 2012 with an initial goal of dropping the 20 pounds of body mass accumulated through two months of zero training. It was an experiment (I'm always experimenting with new training methods), to fully rest and see how much weight could be gained by doing nothing for two months straight. Nothing but eating and living a non-athletic life. There was the occasional swim and a several weight room sessions a week for about three weeks...quite short lived. The benefit was in not having to fill out my training log before I forgot what it is the training was. The psychological boost of seeing the weight drop from improved diet and consistency in training would provide much needed motivation once training for the long journey to CDA 2012. Some basic marker races to check fitness along the way, time trials in the pool and up a mountain all went towards springboarding things into a hopeful Kona slot for 2012.

The trip was a solo trip as wifey needed to save vacation time for her Ironman in Mont Tremblet in August, plus it would save money too. When it comes to "A" races such as this I would actually prefer to travel alone without any entourage or distractions. No motivation is needed or outside help to cheer me on during these type of races because all of that comes from within. I do this knowing everything will be directed towards the task at hand on race day as well as the time at the venue leading up to the event. The ability to come and go as needed without having to compromise on places to eat or when/where to spend time doing this or that is invaluable to a relaxed and ideal situation for what needs to be done. For this, I prefer to travel and stay alone in my own Fortress of Solitude. Come Hawaii time things are different as just getting there is key, Hawaii is icing on the cake and something I'd rather just "do" and enjoy in a less serious manner. This approach could be part of the reason I have never performed well in Hawaii, I don't seem to take it as serious as the qualifier race itself. The other part is the heat--heat is my #1 enemy in racing. For that reason I suppose, back in my early race days in Michigan, I used to show up to races downstate from Marquette (in the U.P.) If it was cold--I have heard "Oh, the Iceman is here." Meaning: The cold temps would certainly not favor them but certainly gave me a huge boost on race day. The cold would often affect others completely opposite of how it would affect me. They would shut down while it seems to lend me an entirely additional gear to jump to. For this CDA was a good choice, as it is known to have mild temperatures with a cold swim in the 50's or low 60's.


The trip there...

I stayed at the Sleep Inn in Post Falls after finding a killer deal for about $70 a night (nearly $80 less than the average in CDA). It was a 10 minute drive to the race site from my hotel so it was a blessing really while saving a lot of cash. There was a bike path right in front of the hotel's parking lot which went all the way to CDA where I would bike/run and test equipment out. They put me in a handicap first floor room which was totally awesome. It had extra room in the bathroom, benches and extra rails in the shower which I'd need once disabled from doing the Ironman. I should ask for those kind of rooms at any Ironman race I go to!

I ran into Max and his wife, a guy from Seattle I've been coaching for years now who has progressed beyond normal levels of anyone I've coached. Once an 11-something Ironman he has gone 9:12 and been to Hawaii as well as kicked my butt on more than one occasion. We had dinner at "Fire" which is a pizza place on Sherman Street in CDA. Since I arrived on Thursday (the race was Sunday), there was plenty of time to discover I would need neoprene socks (legal under a certain temp) to keep the feet from cramping. Water was a balmy 56 F which was just perfect but super cold for others. I love swimming in that cold of water, it reminds me of my summer swims in Lake Superior in a full wetsuit (Wednesday night swims at Judd's house!)

The gears were jacked up a little on the bike so that was taken care of at Vertical Earth bike shop. The rest of the time was just spent mentally self-boosting my confidence and trying to believe in myself. Doubts always creep in no matter what unless you're a pure egomaniac and think you're indestructible (I know of several types in the Colorado amateur race scene that are like that...) The only thing you can do is be consistent in all your preparation knowing you did everything possible to the best of your ability then let the dice roll. Sometimes you fail even after all is said and done, sometimes you soar like an American Bald Eagle out there.

The race...SWIM!

I woke up at 4:30 AM with a goal of leaving by 5:15 AM. The Inn had coffee early that morning so a Clif Bar and coffee was my breakfast. Rarely do I eat anything race morning as all your digestion needs to be done by race time. You'll want to keep blood flowing to the muscles and not to the stomach for digestion. Parking at the college is a great place to park, nearby transition and close enough that when you're sore & done that walking to the car isn't a big deal. After putting the air in my tires and placing special needs bags in their respective place I finished my warm up with about a half dozen trips to the bathroom.

Once suited up in the wetsuit and down on shore I started FAR RIGHT. On the edge and away from the crazies that sprint the first 1K in Ironman races. I knew that they would fizzle after that but you want to steer clear of the wanna be great swimmers (sometimes I swim like a wanna-be swimmer myself!) Steady as she goes you'll pass them the last half of the swim. Standing on shore I was talking with Max and after waiting for what seemed like an unusual delay, I turned to the guy behind me and said "So when are they planning on starting th--" BOOM! The gun went off and caught me off guard as I turned around quickly, dove and sprinted the first 100 yards to bring myself further to the right as everyone went left. The idea was to find clear, open water with nobody around. Normally you'd want to collect the draft off of others but in over-crowded Ironman races such as this (or any Ironman brand race), you want to avoid getting caught in a shark tank with nowhere to go left, right back or forward. You'll lose more time in those accordion-like crunch moments than if you find open water and let the crazies fight trying to scrap for air. Since I'm not a bad swimmer but not the best (I'm usually top 10% at races which are NOT Hawaii)...this is the best option. After 23 of these Ironman races I know the best path to take when that gun goes off.

The swim was quite rough as the wind kicked up after the pros had made their first swim lap complete. I was out there laughing and having fun going up the waves then being dropped straight down after the wave passed under me. Others were being pulled from the swim here and there from the cold, one guy sadly, died after being pulled from the water--several days later while in the hospital. This is a dangerous sport but if you keep your wits about you and don't panic, it isn't as big a deal as some make it out to be. Although Hawaii can be different because there are no wetsuits so that safety latch isn't there.

Once I was done with the swim I had to stop to ask a lady (at the large air-blown arch I'll call the lap/finish balloon) which way to go, because I was disoriented from the up/down swim (even though I had done the race twice). Maybe it was lack of blood flow to the brain from the cold water? I stood up then ran to the lap/finish balloon and said, "I'm done with the swim which way?!" She replied, "You're done GREAT! Congratulations!" I then yelled, "NO! I mean I am DONE which way do I go!? Then she said, "Oh! Great job! Good luck!" Then it must have finally dawned on her and she said, "Oh! Go that way!" She pointed to the right then off I went up the beach to transition.

T1

Transition went excellent until I was heading towards my bike when I spotted the porta-johns. Suddenly, on cue as in most every Ironman I do, I have stop at some point for at least a "sit down moment" in one of those porta-johns. Enough on that but needless to say it certainly slows up transition by a solid (no pun intended) minute . If there is anything I normally excel at in triathlon it is usually topping most in any age group in transition unless I lose my shoes (ala Boulder Sprint race 2011). Once at my bike, as I was trying to find the back pocket in my jersey to stuff extra gels (as insurance for calories), my hand got caught up in the wet, folded back end of the jersey. Then there were about four gels on the ground because of this wardrobe issue. My guess is I wasted a full 45 seconds screwing around with my jersey and gels. Finally, I was off and on the bike!

THE BIKE!~

It rained part of the bike portion while the winds were strong while heading UP most of the hills. This was a much hillier course than the old one, as well as slower due to the headwind. No doubt on a windless day this could be faster than the old course though.

I must admit I hammered the first 25 miles pretty aggressively especially since my weight was down to 143 and hill climbing was going great leading to the race. The other incentive is I wanted to reach the front of the race as soon as possible to start counting athletes ahead of me. It is nearly impossible to count who is ahead of you on the second bike loop as you have first looping athletes in the mix. I'm usually around 50th place by the first turn around at this race. I was about 57th this time around so it was average I suppose. By the time I hit the second turn around on the new course I counted 18th including pros (very good for me actually) and this is where I caught up with an athlete I coach, Max Lawler (aka Mr. Awesome Swimmer). Knowing if Max could be reached early on the day would be going well as he is a strong cyclist. This was part of my strategy, to work with him to pace each other legally to make in-roads on the guys in front bringing us BOTH into Kona Q contention. Several guys went by far to hard too try to keep up with them so in Ironman, picking your battles on who to keep pace with is wise. Besides, it is all about nutrition and centering in on your own pacing. Knowing Max and I are fairly close in race results typically, he would be an ideal race-mate throughout the day. In the end I would race against myself but yet, it is still involving those in your age group. I can separate the two while not concerning myself should there be any other non-40-44 athletes in front of me. The task at hand was only with the 40-44 athletes. The "working together" plan was great for a while then as Max was starting to suffer from what I can surmise--"nutritional deficit" shall we say, I went into attack on those who had passed us earlier as our placing was dropping significantly about mile 80-100. Knowing the age groupers were putting Kona Qualification into danger I had no choice but to go it solo. I really felt badly for Max as he put in so much work for this and had set his own "bests" higher than even leading into CDA. He apparently has the Eye of the Tiger again and will reset himself for Ironman Cozumel this fall--the sign of an athlete that believes in himself and has what it takes to be amongst the best--BELIEF.

There was a "no passing zone" where we got stuck behind a first lap lady rider who was actually going 11 mph. OUCH! All that work I had just done was vaporizing quickly at 11 mph. There were two athletes behind her so she had three of us in tow. Finally I said it was just ridiculous and I was telling the other two I really needed pee and they would not pass--flat out refused. Good thing too because yes, that is illegal. (Although a totally stupid thing about IM CDA in the first place...is to have a no pass zone for over a mile which is only ONE bike width wide--SWEET JESUS give me a break with 2,300 athletes on a two loop course!) Anyhow, here we were dropping to 8 mph on the bridge/overpass near the end of the no pass zone. No telling how long it took us to get through that zone at 8-11 mph exactly because there was a downhill too where we must have hit at least a wicked 13 mph!

Once we were off the no pass zone portion, we accelerated to about 28 mph in the last mile of the bike. Finally, relief in sight! The only other real hold up which may have been the reason I was stuck behind this lady was the fact that at mile 60 on the bike I pulled over to a porta-toilet to pee...so when a bike is involved you lose more time than if you stopped on a run.

T2

Non-event. More importantly they had a huge urinal in the men's tent in T2. It seems to have given me new life in the legs and stopped the stomach cramps. Part of my issue in distance racing is my inability to gauge the proper liquid vs salt and calorie intake. This I'm pretty sure, is why I have to pee a lot in Ironman races. Usually it is inadequate salt but that balance depends to a large part the conditions you are racing in. It is just more pronounced in Hawaii than any other race for me, so yes, I should consult a nutritionist as I know no matter what I've tried heat is my self-destruct button! Fortunately, CDA wasn't hot!

The race...THE RUN

Normally my bread and butter of racing, I started out at a fine pace, catching Mike Orton of Blue Seventy Wetsuits and my main contact for their sponsorship. He used to race pro but at short course, this was his first Ironman. He is quite an amazing swimmer and accomplished cyclist. I came up from behind him noticing we were wearing the same race outfit. Before knowing who it was, I said, "Nice race kit!" He turned and we both laughed realizing we knew each other. The first 10K split was my fastest of course, then the next split was still going along just fine. I had no idea what place I was in, nor did I know my average pace or time because I do not wear a watch or look at a clock when racing. I RACE FROM THE HEART. Although any given day it is a question as to which Kevin will show up. The Kevin that wants to DIG DEEP or the one that just goes through the motions and doesn't give too much of a rip. On the third split trouble started brewing. My mind couldn't focus, the form fell apart and everything was becoming quiet. People would be shouting but it was a slow motion silence. Breathing became shallow then the wheels started falling off. Time for damage control!

START and RECOVERY of THE BONK!

By the time I realized what was going on, knowing my blood pressure was getting lower with shallow breathing, I recalled previous Ironman races and what they did to restore it at the medical tent. Basically I needed a bit of everything. Liquid, calories, salt. The first thing I reached for was potato chips. Handfuls crammed into dust followed by a water chaser would provide me with all the basics I needed. Next aid station it was Coke and ice. Repeat each aid station. After the dismal third section split, things started to come back but was it too late? I had only been passed by one 35 year old on the run that ended up second in his age group, so all was not lost. When passing another athlete he said, "Wow, your age group is just KILLING IT today!" That was not good to hear because that meant there were a ton of other guys still ahead of me in my age group. If ever run legs were needed they were needed NOW!

THE FINAL 10K

Energy levels were restored from the chips, water and salt. While I did stop two other times on the run to use the porta-johns, I counted to about 20 both times...there was a 40 second+ loss right there on my run. All these bathroom stops are nothing more than a lack of salt so the body acts like a sieve and does not hold onto the water well. That and the fact my bladder is the size of a walnut. Back to the race, I'll spare the details with the bathroom issues. Something clicked and it was damage control. Figuring I won't die out there if I push harder, rest can come when the line is crossed. Just put the pedal to the metal and let it fly. It was nice passing some folks those last 10K but there weren't many 40-44's so it was nerve racking not knowing where my position was.

The ONLY indication of where I stood was from a guy in my age group I had passed who said, "Are you 40-44?" Barely enough breathe to answer with a "Yes." He generously responded "Congratulations you are now passing 5th place." Given this was near the last four miles of the race, I was unsure as to how reliable the information could be due to either a miscount on his part or just fatigue and being delirious after a long day. There was no way I was leaving anything to chance so continued to keep the pace high until the finish. With four blocks left I had closed in on two guys about 25 yards ahead but they got into a sprint at that moment much like the one I was involved in 2010. It was like watching my 2010 race from behind. One guy vanished while the other guy stayed about 25 yards ahead. I had no gas in the tank to pull either of them in. In the end neither were in my age group whew!

THE AFTER...Med Tent

Feeling much better than 2010 at the finish line, I only needed to catch my breath but knowing the Med Tent had blankets and lounge chair, the Med folk convinced me to visit them. "How do you feel?" they asked. "Like I just did an Ironman and I'm really, really tired and getting cold now." Off I was to the Med Tent. Well, it was actually outside the Med Tent but in a nice lounge chair. In hindsight, nutrition was the main issue in this race, pacing was fine. Everything else went according to plan, but not getting enough food/drink is something to work on for Hawaii and all future races.

THE CELEBRATION!

Today, July 9th I finalized registration online for the 2012 Ironman Hawaii World Championships. The past week I had spent in Canada walleye fishing with my family, not working out for two entire weeks. Yesterday I competed in the Boulder Peak Triathlon, one of the most competitive Olympic distance races in the USA. Placing 4th in the 40-44 (which I won in 2011), coming off of a two week layoff from training and a full Ironman still in my legs, four hours sleep the night before the race, and dealing with a foot injury from Ironman CDA, I suppose it went "okay" but I didn't really care as it was a C race. The celebration has begun, time to refocus and gear everything towards recovery and building distance towards October. There is only one trick question which has been consistent in all but one Hawaii appearance (this will be my 10th time racing out of 15 qualifications). That question is, WHICH Kevin will show up on race day. Hopefully, not the one that usually shows up there! Don't be surprised if someone decides to flip the script...and take a pass on yelling UNCLE. As my favorite Nike commercial says, "The theory of evolution says that only the strong shall survive. But the theory of competition says, just because they're the strong doesn't mean they can't get their asses kicked...no matter what the stats may say and the experts may think and the commentators may have predicted, when the race is on, ALL BETS ARE OFF."

Best wishes to everyone in their remaining 2012 season. See you on the race course!







Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Almost Ironman CDA Time!


video

It has been quite the long struggle with getting down from my 20+ pounds heavy weight from normal race weight since January. The most difficult thing has been paying attention to diet and sticking to it. Doing it the natural way instead (unless coffee doesn't count?) of unhealthy methods. There are a lot of eating disorders out there so I am not one to fall into that mode, but rather, through consistency in diet & exercise. After stepping on the scales yesterday I am happy to report I am near my high school weight (within only a couple pounds), but without all the baby-chubb! I'm sure there are a few pounds I could melt away yet but those reserves will be used for Ironman CDA in only one month.  Either way, I am likely entering 2012 race season at my lowest race weight to date, so it will certainly be interesting to see how that works out.

Race day is a completely different kind of story, one where the stats you may find on places such as Athlinks.com really don't matter. The numbers can't tell the story of the day in an Ironman, only passion after 140.6 and all you did leading up to that day from the previous 6-months will be able to tell (provided there are no mechanical or illnesses taking place!) It remains to be seen whether the obsession of getting rid of the extra chubb I'll need to carry will pay off or not. It may in fact hurt my chances of a good day due to loss of power--too light and there is less power on the bike. However, less weight means I have less to carry around so do I really need to worry about it--because the pay off in the long run is less junk to use my power for all day long right? It should help the run provided the calories get in the body and I stay on top of nutrition. Can't wait until the race is over because it isn't easy eating like a Monk from Tibet!
video
This is a clip from one of my long rides...so beautiful here in Colorado...I just love it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

With the spring in full swing the grass is still yellow and no matter how much water I pour on it--it's still yellow. Sprinkler system doesn't seem to be working right so moving a sprinkler around every couple days is the only way to sustain it for now. Last week alone I've managed to skip three days of training for Ironman CDA at the end of June in order to start moving on a major around-the-house project. Landscaping the front yard. After two days of cutting, digging, spraying, laying weed barrier and moving a few tons of delivered dirt--I'm half way there. Only three more cubic yards of dirt & three cubic yards of mulch, plant some rose bushes and dwarf pine trees, then pull or dig out some more metal posts out of the ground and I'll be home free on that project. It has been a good excuse to do a lot less training that is for sure!




After last season's 4.5 hour average total for swim, bike and run (which is a little more than an hour per week of each discipline), I managed a 38th place in USAT 40-44 AG rankings garnering an All-American status again. Funny how some years I just do a few workouts per week to keep the weight off and seem to race faster than when I'm serious with a serious goal. Given the less time available to train for Ironman races these days, my theory is that with all the base & experience from years of racing, there is no rush to rush. I'll do what I need to do--enough so I can attain a decent level of fitness by the end of June. Although likely to the degree I had hoped when I signed up for Ironman CDA...there have been some brief shining moments on some training days but definitely more non-shining moments that I hoped for.



About two more months left so maybe this next month I can fit in key sessions AND fit in some project completions. The fly in the ointment really is wrapping up the odds & ends of the "open projects" to free up some time so the stresses of an approaching deadline for being fit enough to handle an Ironman race while moving from start to finish. Here's hoping for the best in the coming two months...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Melting away the fat

Along with melting snow with the warmer days knocking down our door (as is the gale force wind), the fat finally is melting away from consistent training & nutrition. Not that I had a lot of fat to "melt" away in the first place, but it was not helping me carrying an extra 20 on New Year's Day. Those hills sure seem longer and steeper with the equivalent of a dumbbell adding to the already troublesome gravity issue. Either way it is nice to finally be single digits away from what I will call "race weight" or normal after today's ride in the mountains. So what if I was anaerobic barely holding the wheel of a weekend warrior with hairy legs on the way to Jamestown. So what if when I pulled for a couple miles hammering out some higher than within my fitness level wattage and still didn't drop him. The point is I didn't get dropped myself!

Early season riding can be frightening for an out of shape member of the pedigree of athletes who are more anal than any other sport around...triathlon. Especially when after half an hour of riding you feel like turning around and just bagging the ride like today. The legs, lungs & mind were not in it. However with Ironman CDA looming less than 4 months away, the excuses have to stop & it is time to march on. The tough part is certainly mentally staying in the game to do what is needed to perform on race day. The miles go by and all I see in front of me are wasted minutes with my family. Why not just stop all together? I have before. Cold turkey too. But it creeps back like an addiction--bad one. When you drive down the road and see a tri bike on another car's roof and get all excited checking out the components, frame, pedals, etc...there is more to it than simply not enjoying it. It is an addiction that when in the heat of battle (when racing or having a good training day), just feels so right and there are few places or things I would rather be doing at that moment. Including sleep or a big ol' NY Strip steak! 

So the hours tick away and fat slips away, the race days near (closer than I care to think about), then there is that one snapshot in my mind that looks similar to me having my most ideal perfect dream race from start to finish. I have had those days. I seek those days still and despite being a Master's athlete (that sounds so OLD!)...reach for a goal of another perfect day. Surely those perfect race days are gone long ago, but I'm having difficulty convincing myself of that, mainly because the last person I really want to listen to is myself--because if I'm right, the snapshot will not ever really become a reality. I can dream though right? As long as you have a dream and keep on reaching for it, you will always tell yourself that you are melting those pounds away, clocking in more time out on the roads, trails & pools and ultimately, it is all worth it. Sounds like a pretty intense inner-battle with myself and I will not lie, it is. However, the best thing about it is no matter which scenario plays out in the end, I will be right. If anything the beauty of arguing with yourself is that you ALWAYS will be right in the end. One way or another.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Record snow!

Record snowstorm totals for Boulder from one storm for the month of February. Sure puts the ka-bosh on cycling when the main roads have 20 inches of snow on them. Either way it allows one to focus on getting in the pool if you're a triathlete & warm weather bug. Bike trainers can be miserably boring but a great boost to cycling with no downhills to coast on & having to continuously pedal.

If you're just getting into the sport of triathlon, now is the time to get all those equipment "things" taken care of. Now is the time for a new bike, shoes & taking care of what you have to eventually take care of anyhow. Bad weather outside can mean good times for taking up a new winter sport such as nordic skiing if you are in snow pelted areas of the world. There are also indoor strength improvement opportunities as well during this time. Just because precipitation is coming down does not mean you have to be inactive & "couch it" as we like to say. Get those rainy day activities done so when the sun comes out, you too can be out there without a huge laundry list of items. Time crunched athletes can open up some time by tasking out 1 or 2 things you MUST get done a day. We all procrastinate--so committing to getting 1 or 2 things done can really make you feel productive.

One of those things I have saved for a snowy/rainy day is a blog entry. So here it is with suggestions on what to do during stormy weather. Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking some time to watch the 2012 Super Bowl! However, you still can get those 1-2 things to do items off your list & possibly burn off some of those buffalo wings with some exercise.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Taking off the weight

Taking off 17 lbs since the (disaster-dly) marathon on December 4th is not insurmountable, but 17 lbs added on has made it one of the heaviest points in my life. Making better food choices & reducing calories by 500 per day will take a pound off in a week itself. Combine that with regular training/consistency, that should equal 3-4 lbs a week. Quite an easy task if you stick with it.

I do not believe in diets, in addition, you should have fun eating & making smart choices of common sense "good foods" daily. I certainly do not want to starve myself to lose weight, so I eat more frequently but use smaller and more regular meals. I find this helps my blood sugar levels and sustains my energy better throughout the day. If you are looking to lose weight, start looking at the labels and seeing what it is you are putting in your own body--it may scare you!

After the first week of exercise and smarter food choices, I have already taken off 3.5 lbs. My projected "ramp up time" is around 5 weeks before I am back at fighting weight. All things equal, this will be a great time to establish base miles for the upcoming season, allow the bad weather season move through the calendar, as well as allow me to work on flexibility and strength. By the end of February, it should be GAME ON!

The specifics of the build phase periodization will depend on progress of the transition phase from what many would call "off season" (to which there never really is an off season--just what I call a step back point in the season). It is important to let all systems, mentally, physically and for some spiritually, to step back each year to assess your life and race goals, while moving to a non-regimented schedule. This reduces stress that the focused part of the year brings on and allows for adaptation universally throughout all aspects of that which makes you a "whole person". What are those aspects? They vary from person to person so that is one you'll have to figure out yourself. Either way, this stepping back will bring you a new level at the start of each season and you'll be on meeting the challenges of the year knowing you are on board with whatever it takes to make those goals happen. Good luck & see you on the fitter side of life shortly!