Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona Report 2014


Less than an hour after finished--barely managing to hide the pain!
  
We stayed again at the Royal Kona Resort, just a mile into the run and little less than that from the start/finish line. It is just outside Chaos Central with beautiful grounds to spend time at, complete with its own private lagoon to swim in on the ocean. There is food right next door at Bongo Ben’s or Hugo’s on the Rocks where many parties take place after the Ironman. This was the first time there with our son, he really enjoyed it so much and can’t wait to go back. The experiences he had such as going over 100 feet under the surface in the Atlantis Submarine, snorkeling at Turtle Bay, hiking the rim of a volcano at Volcano National Park and spending a lot of time in the pool were just invaluable. So much to see and do while we were there, it was a summer vacation in the fall!
My trusty but getting outdated steed!
  Below is basically a summary of the answer I gave a friend when he said he was worried when he saw I only had two water bottles on the bike. I felt it was a decent enough answer that also pretty much summed up the trip from a race perspective, with a few edits.

Volcano National Park

I've come to the conclusion that with aid stations every 10-15 miles (depending on the Ironman host site), that 2 is enough. By the time I finish 1 bottle I'm usually 45 minutes into the bike & still have one in reserve & just exchange at aid stations accordingly. The mix at the stations is less calories but I'm still getting my "special needs bag" half way through the race (56 miles). The other thing is: Who wants to drink hot liquids? In Hawaii, drinks get hot really quick so it doesn’t taste good or go down easy if you carry more than two bottles, they’ll just heat up and not cool you off.
#1--Fredrik Van Lierde's bike race morning (he's in the water swimming at this moment).
 Getting enough liquids on course isn't usually an issue. It also saves weight (1 bottle---large, is about 1.8 lbs full). My issues are strictly heat management. Just not good racing in anything above 71-73 F usually, I start falling apart from overheating as my sweat rate is 4 lbs per hour at an outside temperature of 85 F. That is an unusually high sweat rate.

Our Hotel Lobby: Royal Kona Resort
 In summary, the swim was I think my slowest ever & I have been swimming well I think this year. My biking was coming around at Ironman Boulder but had issues with vomiting on the bike causing me to not take in or absorb enough calories to run well off the bike. I have read that some people who have issues with too many liquid calories, should look into some solid foods along the way. Not much, just some. Liquids/gels absorb better and are broken down already to a point, but some people actually needs just a “tease of solid food” along the way. It’s just the way certain people are built. This is one thing I will look into for longer races and experiment with.

At Kona Brewery
This time I was just not moving from the start. The swim likely was the slowest in Hawaii (big waves but just had a slow swim all together). I’m not sure if it was because I had absolutely no coffee on race morning, or while I was there in Kona. I wanted to see if some of the issues I was having lately in races was due to too high of acidity in my stomach. Apparently, I can go back to drinking coffee race morning because I still had the issues.

Volcano National Park
 The bike…the legs never could produce the power & I'll have to investigate that further as I had what I think may have been my 2nd slowest bike ever there. Part of it was I’m sure, due to racing a second Ironman in one year on a little more than 12-13 hours on only a couple weeks as my larger volume weeks this year. You can race an Ironman off of that little volume if you’ve been consistent, but racing two in a year with only about two months between is a bit of a stretch. There are professional “age groupers” who do nothing more than train and call their “job” coaching a few athletes, but with a real full time job myself, as well as coaching, maintaining a house, HOA Board work, family and other projects mid-production, it is a huge undertaking and performance will eventually suffer. Things need to be streamlined and/or outsourced a little (okay, a lot more). In short, I’m out of balance and that drastically cuts into the focus of everything else. I’m too scattered, which is something I help identify with my athletes I coach. You need balance to perform well.

View from our Hotel balcony
 
Each Kona has been more of a reward just in getting there and I really do not think, I’ve gone there to actually RACE it before. It is the frosting on the cake. For some it is the main thing. For me, I automatically know the heat will destroy me so it becomes one of those “also-ran races” where you just do it but don’t focus on it much. Odd, I know. One would think it should be the opposite. Knowing yourself goes a long way to deciding which are key races for you though, what you would be best at. I’m thinking now that is the reason it really isn’t an issue for me to qualify traditionally. I know the races I go to qualify at, due to the demographics of the course and conditions, pretty well. I know what I race will be conditions typically in my favor. The reward is always something that traditionally does not suit me well…a race hotter than hell and humid like no other, often with winds equal to both of those. I’ve read up on every heat management preparation and training protocol I’ve found. I’ve trained in a sauna, in the middle of the day, in extra clothes, in super windy conditions, in 100 F heat in the dead of summer. That is just the start. Still, I suffer from overheating and shut down.

 
KK, the "Real Starky" & Kevin Collington at breakfast

 

The run…couldn't absorb the liquids & started throwing up again. The worst of which left me keeling over 2 miles from the finish in standstill--losing about a quart of Coke right on the Queen K pavement for several minutes. I seem to be having a lot of these issues lately. Definitely need to change my approach and in race nutrition. Another possibility is the training. If you do not push a certain pace for certain amounts of time, in extreme similar conditions, minimal training hours may cause the body to not acclimate to digesting highly sugary substances. You will consume while racing, little more than some course drink that is nasty, gels, Coke—possibly very ripe bananas. Usually there is little else to eat along the way except maybe oranges and pretzels. I find the oranges too acidic to handle during a race. Pretzels, while great for the salt, are cake-like dry and not easy to eat.The body just rejects it because you are pushing too hard and the muscles need the blood flow while it is competing with the stomach for digestion. The combination seems to result in the old fashioned “up-chuck” (my observation).

At the King Kam Hotel two days after the race

About the only thing remotely "okay" was T2.  T1 was a disaster as my "helper-volunteer" was an elderly man who was moving very slow (God Bless him for trying though!) He had moved my bike jersey from the floor in front of me to the back of my chair I was in while I wasn't looking & it slid down under my butt & I couldn't find it. I honestly thought someone accidentally tossed it in a bag & shipped it out of the tent with all the other transition bags as they do, to keep things “tidy” once an athlete is finished. In the chaos he didn't remember where he put it. Ultimately, his job as I asked him--was to remove the small 2 inch piece of electrical tape on each rolled up arm cooler & he just couldn't do it. I didn't want to rip it from his hands as I just continued putting everything else—just because he was trying and I didn’t have the heart to even hint he wasn’t really helping—volunteers are the life blood of races so you MUST be thankful just for being there. Between looking for my jersey & him having issues with the tape, T1 was just over 8 minutes long (I think a new T1 record for slowness on my part). I am actually known to be very fast in transitions except for Ironman races--but this was ridiculous.

 
KK having a bad day (photo Jen Schaffner)
Building the transition at the pier days before

Long & short of it was a slow body. I never got going, physically or mentally. Heat & wind were issues sure, so was nutrition. Lots of stopping on the run to gather food/drinks/ice at aid stations--but stopped 2 x on the bike (once for a pee break) and once at Special Needs bag pickup. The run...lots of walking through the aid stations & to clear the gut. It seems like every time I drank that nasty Power Bar Perform drink, it came up minutes later. Thanks God Ironman will be going back to Gatorade starting next year.

 
Rachel Joyce at gear/bike check in

So it was a bust…the worst race all year long. Not that Boulder was a great race...Boulder was not up to what I expected. But Kona was worse yet. After having what I consider a highly successful season—not losing my age group in any multisport race all season until Ironman Boulder, it ended on not so good last couple races. I have a few ideas to fix the issues in 2016, so I'll be mulling that over & experimenting with new approaches in 2015 as I prepare for ÖTILLÖ in September 2015 & take a year off from Ironman.
video

 

10:41 is actually what I believe my 3rd worst Ironman ever. But it is what it is & some days just finishing is the goal. I'm not beating myself up about it, as I look forward to newer challenges & continue to try to solve the riddle of Ironman Hawaii. I can get there & race other Ironman races quite well, but in Kona...the heat, humidity & wind just chew me up & spit me out. Some are built for those conditions but I seem to be more geared for colder weather racing than the heat. I think my high sweat rate has a lot to do with it.

Looking towards Kona from the pier
You never get sick of seeing this in the morning--beauty!

 
My awesome escort on bag drop off day: Tim
 

Lastly, yes, the great American speed skater Apolo Ohno who was a “guest celebrity” competitor; kicked many folks’ arses. He was about 9:52, smashed my finish and many other top age group athletes. Even if being one of the best in the world is his job, it is impressive for his first Ironman. Final words, yes, I got “chicked” by age group women as well. I’m secure in myself in that, they went faster on a day that was clearly not so great for me. I don’t have a problem with that. They have two legs/arms and so do I, if a woman beats me then congratulations! Same thing goes for any other guy that finishes ahead of me. There is no difference, man or woman, we all toe the line and the fastest ones finish ahead of the slower ones, so put the egos away and get back at it, try to improve the next time around. If we find ourselves headed down the wrong road, we can always turn back to take the correct one!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ironman Boulder 2014

Following my first US National title a couple weeks earlier at Duathlon Nationals, I was poised to go out onto my home turf and rip it up if only the leg injuries during the near-entire-season would just bug off for one day. The long story short without reading this entire blog is this...swim was uneventful, some stomach or bacteria thing from the Rez going on started 30 miles into the bike causing me to throw up a dozen times during the bike/run, not allowing enough calories & hydration to keep going or stave off cramping during the run. Walked a lot during the marathon (about 19 aid stations in total as well as between them for a bit, then stopped to take off a shoe/sock due to a stick or rock--something that was bugging me). Survived in a disappointing run which was very uncharacteristic and unlike what I was ready to unleash.

Now the details. First, the bike course was not that difficult and the altitude and hills should not be concerned for those wanting to do this race. The water quality is an issue though it is tested each Monday. It rained like a Banshee Tuesday, Wednesday & part of Thursday. Enough time for some e- coli to fester in the water or something nasty. It could have been oil/gas in the water from all the boats the previous days leading into the race--high numbers in the water for sure vs. normal. There were hundreds dropping race day due to vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration. The Med Tent docs said something unusual was going on because the same symptoms were showing up--90+% who came into the Med Tent had the same things going on. I've never cramped in an Ironman before, this was a first and brought me to a halt multiple times on the run.

For those looking to come to the Ironman Boulder race, logistics are illogical. I live 3 miles from the Rez, yet had to drive south to Boulder High, get on a bus, only to get driven all the way back to north Boulder past my house, and into the Rez. There were other cars sneaking into the Rez yet they told us the roads would be closed. Weird. Two different transition areas was not cool either, but whatever, I didn't have to pay for a plane ticket, hotel, bike transportation, food or car rental. It is what it was. Race morning wasn't anything spectacular, it was nice to start in the "AWA or All World Athlete" wave. This keeps the pretenders out of the way who usually sprint to the front then screech to a halt after the half way buoys causing a barrier to navigate through, or those who bunch up during the bike and never let you pass without locking onto your wheel endangering you to potential penalties by pack rotating anytime you pass them, which happens way too often since Ironman typically oversells their races to a point of danger or degrading fairness on course.

After the swim which felt long while I was out there, having only swum 4K + about 2x all summer long, I took my time in T1. Stopped at the bathroom as usual in an Ironman and took a long time getting my bike stuff on. In shorter triathlons, there are few who transition faster than I do, including pros--my times are right there with the pros. The longer the race such as Ironman, the longer I take on purpose. It's a long ride and run & it is best to make my bathroom stops in transition than while on the move, plus, it clears my system so I can bike/run discomfort free from GI issues.

The bike was different for me this time as I raced with my HRM. Typically going off of RPE after spending YEARS using and analyzing with a power meter, my bike sessions. I had sold my Power Meter a few years prior after the company went belly-up and haven't bought a new one as new technology and dropping prices continue. I know myself well enough that I know what to do now & where I stand fitness wise & what the issues are I need to work on--it's what I do as a professional coach. But training with the HRM then racing with it just for the bike portion was a two-day prior decision to ensure I didn't get too excited & kill off my run. Racing 135-137 most of the ride, I hit some issues at mile 85 when dehydration from vomiting set it. HR shot up to low to mid-140's, not too bad but I knew there would be further issues down the line as no calories, liquid or salt/electrolytes would stick.  The final bike time was 5:03...my second best time ever while being one of the easiest effort levels of any Ironman I've done.

T2...was VERY long. Not only did I take ANOTHER 2 minute porta-potty stop, resting, almost napping...I put all my stuff on in transition carefully and slowly. Cisco Quintaro, a local triathlete, was a volunteer in the tent and rushed to my aid getting anything I needed. The tent was very empty and I knew I was near the front of the race. So far minus the tossing of cookies all day--it was a pretty easy effort day & I was ready to cook it on the run.

The run...I had a ball the first 6 miles, flying and starting to mow down people while in a "jog/cruise" mode. Then shortly after I saw Sonja Wieck (who took one of the awesome Twitter Pics--thanks Sonja!)...I started walking. That was the last pic anyone took of me relaxed, because the dehydration set in. Then I had to take my shoe/sock off because something in it was bugging me. Sitting in the grass on the side of the course, watching a few guys I just passed go by...it was setting up to be a very, very long day. In the below picture, easy sailing--nobody behind me and near the front of the race.
 


The rest of the day was just crazy hard trying to make it to the line. Cramping--something new. Overheating (not unusual but not fun either!) Doubts as to if this was going to be a day I wouldn't finish (unlikely but always a possibility). It went from thoughts of possibly winning the AG (I hadn't lost a multisport race all year in my AG)...to can I finish? Upon seeing former World Champ & former ex-pro European pro cyclist/pro triathlete Curt Chesney was again racing (now in my AG), that it was always going to be a race for 2nd. That was turning to 3rd, 4th...how far down the list could I slide? At the end of the day, it was a 4th place salvaged 45-49 finish. Enough for my 13th Ironman Hawaii qualification. Top 5 in the AG got a slot.

Some of the highlights of the day were certainly seeing my friend Andy Ames and his wife Rachel, who just had surgery, on the run course cheering me on. Rachel took a few photos below. Andy tried to take a few by running up ahead (while I was walking)...as if I was going to keep pace with a speed walk...? Also, seeing one of my athletes Grant out on the course and near the finish and Peyman (Sasha) Razifard. All in all it was an "okay" race.

I would possibly do it again someday but the concrete 6 foot narrow bike path needs to be moved to a wide road run, it was ridiculous on lap 2 having to dodge so many people, creek path tubers, dogs...and even a pro triathlete who was following his American wife on his bike during the run (knucklehead thing to do!) I witnessed TWO pro female triathletes during the run receiving outside assistance--thus, breaking the rules. The bike overall was very clean and was about the cleanest bike leg of any Ironman I had seen, so BRAVO to the participants up front for keeping it clean. One thing that impressed me most was the depth of people cheering on the BCP near the high school--four to five deep at times, as well as the finish line near Pearl Street. Amazing crowd. If not for the concrete path being so narrow, two transition areas, and silly long T2 run into the track at the high school, I really wouldn't have complaints (aside from the bad water!)

Next up for me is Ironman Hawaii in about a month. Thanks to all my friends and family who supported me this season, coming out to races to watch, take photos, etc. Certainly, winning a US National Champion title goes down as a big landmark for me, as well as winning everything I've entered multisport-wise in my 45-49 (I just turned 45 in May)...all season, until Ironman Boulder's bacteria/stomach issues that is. Ironman Hawaii is just the frosting on the cake and family trip so not a lot else to say besides it has been a good race season despite injuries keeping me from biking well.
I'm still trying to figure out why I'm racing so well despite biking so much worse...just quirky stuff y'know?

2015 will center around ÖTILLÖ in Sweden. It is starting to look like I'll be heading to the Mother Land (I'm Swedish/Polish/German). My friend & I have apparently secured a team start for the World Swim/Run championships so no Ironman next year. There will be other smaller races involved along the way but nothing concrete yet, just fun races. 2016 I'll be back at Ironman, hoping to hold my own against the incoming younger guns into the age group. Thanks for stopping by my blog & also thanks to my sponsors Rudy Project, Infinit Nutrition, Boulder Running Company/Team Adidas and Blue Seventy! They've all been a big help with not only GeminiMultisport.com but to my own racing.










Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 USA National Duathlon Championships: RACE REPORT


Duathlons are something I had rarely dabbled in during multisport competition in my younger days. It was a speed session or something I did when the weather was too cold to have a swim involved. Using it merely for pre & post race practice of race routine (figuring out how long prior to wake up, what warm up to do, how much/long, etc).  Certainly using it to hone transition skills is one of the greatest values I find as it is real world stuff you just can’t seem to get in a practice out of your garage, because there are people around you trying to kick your ass and every second counts.

Last year, a friend I had gotten to know through trail racing and some sporadic winter duathlons, Andy Ames (2013 ITU World Duathlon Champ 50-54, 2013 & 2014 US Duathlon National Champ 50-54), planted the idea/seed in my head that he thought I should race duathlons more. He thought I could be one of the top in the nation if not world. I like to say he badgered me until I said uncle, but it was a new direction so what the heck. I found a 2013 qualifier, Orange County Duathlon in early spring. Finishing 2nd overall with a hip strain to the guy who would later become the overall US National champ—I stamped my ticket on Team USA & went to worlds. Andy & I roomed together and had a hoot of a time going around Canada’s version of Washington D.C. In the end, I was 4th in the 40-44 (in the world!!)…as well as the top American master. 

The keynote here was it was just on a bucket list of many for 2013. Only FIVE days prior I had raced Boulder 70.3 half.  Still tired from that effort, it was a tricky balance. Go all out at Boulder & flop at worlds?  A goal was to go only hard enough at Boulder to nab a slot to 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, which I did perfectly. However, it still left me dry for worlds to a degree, but I was satisfied even though my bike effort was quite horrible. I took an extended and early break last fall after Las Vegas, knowing 2014 had Ironman Boulder involved.

2014, Andy once again talked me into going to race USAT Nationals for duathlon in St. Paul. Once again, we roomed together and had fun trying different restaurants each meal. Race day was 6/19. Once again, I raced Boulder Peak Triathlon on 6/13. The entire season was a battle with a chronic hamstring tear after a duathlon I won called Big Sky in Denver. From there, I over-compensated with the left non-injured side and ended up with a quad strain that lasted pretty much through August. Luckily, the duties of Boulder Peak efforts were not enough to deter me from my first ever US National Championship. I’ve always wanted to be a National Champ in *something* (anything)…finally that was off the bucket list. I’d love a World Championship one day too in something, maybe someday.

2014 US Duathlon National Championships went something like this…race effort from Boulder Tri was 6 days prior, a little tired—cycling all season has been horrible as far as power output from the injury. Biking was so far OFF from my normal, it was very common for me to have one of the slowest bike legs in the top 10. For some reason, my running has been very much ON all season except Bolder Boulder when I was in the beginning of the injury stage. Nationals was no different. Knowing I wouldn’t be up with Dave Slavinski/Tom Woods AFTER the bike, I kept out of their way on the first run and throttled it just enough to come in 7 seconds after them. It was quite an easy run and running with them really was quite realistic. All I wanted anyhow was to shoot for the 45-49 title & they were both 40-44. I’d get through the bike leg just waiting for a 45-49 to pass me. A few did, one had bad luck by crashing on a corner, fate stuff you know? 

Once I got passed by the reigning US Duathlon Long Course Champion (I didn’t know it was him as I never met him)…I kept tabs so him and another guy who passed me on the final lap of the bike. Honestly, the power wasn’t there on the cycle leg—it was difficult knowing how much time was being taken out of me from a simple chronic leg issue that crops up every couple years.  Upon hitting the run, I quickly passed the first of the two guys in front of me in my age group. It was about 200 meters into the run when I moved past him. Slowly I closed in on the leader…inch by inch, not really punching it, just steady to see what he was doing, if he tried to make a move—whatever. Observe. The plan was to slowly close, then gas it. The run course was shortened due to flooding, so with about a quarter mile to go I had caught up to the US Long Course Champ, Marc Warner. Again, I didn’t know it was him. In the last half mile I thought, “I believe the finish line is just around that last pylon then it is like a quarter to half mile then the finish, I better catch up to this guy NOW. It’s now or never!” 

Doubts crept into my mind whether I could actually close the gap of about 12 seconds if he punched the accelerator. It is easy to cave when doubting yourself. Then I told myself, “Dig, don’t throw away this trip, a tick off the bucket list and national title because you don’t want to hurt!”  Dig I did to catch him within about a 100 meters. I kept right on going. He kindly encouraged me to keep on going, with a “Good job.”  The rest was well…history. My first ever US National Championships.  USAT gives the US Champs a special jersey to wear with the year on the back of it, to wear if they like to show their accomplishment at future races. I don’t think I’ll be wearing it though—it’s a keepsake! 

 
KK on top as 45-49 US National Duathlon Standard Distance Champion!
 
Shane Thread (left) & Andy Ames (right) at our celebration dinner in St. Paul.
 
2014 US Duathlon 45-49 Sprint Champ Glen Thompson (left)
2014 US Duathlon 45-49 Standard Distance Champ Kevin Konczak (right)
*Sprint Nationals & Standard Nationals were held on the same day in St. Paul.
 

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Bolder Boulder

No matter how many times you try the same thing such as the same race, there are a ton of things you can choose or not to choose to do, which make the outcome different. This year, it was no different. Most of the running the past couple months has pretty much been in the water aqua jogging with no speedwork, strength, or stretching, due to the double-injuries. As stated in previous posts, the right hamstring (7-year old recurring injury), then the left pulled quad from compensation during the Barking Dog Duathlon during the bike leg for the original injury to the hamstring.

Typically I'll have some toast before a race, then coffee. The toast is to settle the stomach acid from the coffee. The rest of the morning was pretty typical for a Bolder Boulder race, with the temps a little on the cool side. For obvious reasons, with a DNF at West Side Duathlon, a sub-par performance at Barking Dog developing the second injury, the mindset was on the low end of things. I jogged through the cemetery for a warm up, down 30th to the start just as normal--except I was feeling some aches & pains & without speedwork since the last duathlon, the day wasn't feeling too promising. Not to mentally get off on the wrong foot, but you know when you're not 100% or "on" for a race. Certainly, this was one of those days.

After who knows how many trips to the bathroom today, the near 2-mile warm up jog to the start & a few accelerations, I toed the line but somehow got right up to the front line of the A-wave (usually I'm about 10 feet back). What a great chance to get out of the mess of runners! Frank Shorter was only a few feet away from me when the starting pistol went off on this beautiful sunny Memorial Day. I wasn't as concerned about tagging onto the guy who beat me in my age group the last three years, because I had the rare situation of racing for the 2nd year in a row as a 44-year old. Last year the race was on my birthday, this year it was a day before my birthday. 1-year age categories in this monster of a race.

Mile 1-it was turning our great & my split was a little fast at 5:26 I think it was. By mile 2 marker it slid to 5:36 or so--still under the 5:37 pace I needed to match last year's time. Around mile 1.5 or 1.25, Andy Ames, another frequent local race pal of mine, tapped me on the shoulder (I didn't know he was racing).  At this time, the wheels were already starting to fall off and people starting passing me like crazy (which kept up all the way to the end of the race).

Mile 3-suddenly the lack of toast to absorb the coffee came back to haunt me (I won't do that again!)
The issue with the coffee was is started to come back up...since there wasn't much in my stomach, it was just dry-heaving (which is difficult to do while running if you haven't tried it...) Quickly I told myself to slow things down, it doesn't matter how you do, you're injured and it is stupid to push it anyhow. Just use it as your first speed towards the summer racing. I kept pro triathlete Paul Ambrose in my sights, as I typically finish ahead of him in the Bolder Boulder. This year, he got me by 2 seconds though! 

Mile 4-the best & noisiest aid station out there, just awesome!  It is on 13th Street, near Moe's Bagels.
By this time there were kids and older guys passing me. There wasn't anything left in the legs, finishing was the only goal. There comes a point where finishing is just enough on those painful days--the competing can await a healthy body to return.

Mile 5-there was a guy who was in front of me who I *thought* was Joe Fogerty, a triathlete buddy of mine from the Springs. I sat behind him & slowed on the hill up to the stadium, hoping to out-sprint him. Turned out it wasn't him, but he sure ran & looked like him with his backwards hat on. Coming into the stadium I saw Paul Ambrose up ahead & tried to catch him, passing Tim Van Berkel (another pro triathlete training in Boulder). I'm sure Tim was just "jogging" but still...you know what I mean...it's cool to have a big name triathlete place behind you even if it was a jog for him.

The finish-a nice lady volunteer at the finish saw me cross the line, bend over & start dry heaving. She moved a giant trash can in front of me & said, "Here, do it in here..."  After 2-3 minutes, I had recovered enough to stop the imaginary vomiting. Sorry to get graphical here, but it was really a crappy day out there for me. Once again, I was second in my age group, to a guy who had run in the Olympics when he was younger, in the marathon. He beat me by 14 seconds on a really bad day. Lots of folks beat me today. It's okay though.  I can either dust off the shoes & come back at it in better shape next year, or throw in the towel. Certainly, towel throwing is a bit of a stranger in my world, so there is your answer. Just have to turn this ship around and give it time. This was my second worst Bolder Boulder time, but there will be others.

Congratulations to the Boulder Running Company athletes (we had the 1st overall amateur from our team).  Thanks to Cody Hill of the Boulder Running Company and Adidas--the most awesome line of shoes out there, for sponsoring the BRC-Adidas team. I'm proud to run for them, now I need to recover and get back to my 2013 racing shape following these injuries. Until next report--which should be in about 2-3 weeks hopefully...keep the rubber side down!
KK

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Barking Dog Duathlon: Racing with Injury


Overall this was a step up vs West Side Du's DNF. The first run was aerobically sort of a non-event & didn't have that muscular extra gear, but aerobically it wasn't that hard--needed to take the run to Andy a bit harder. I did a short sprint at the end of the run just to try anything--get a mental edge even...on Andy before a traditional adding of a few seconds to him during T1 (but he's narrowing that gap). At the start of the bike, there was literally a fraction of the power on the pedals I normally ride. Andy put time into me on the bike & there wasn't anything I could do about it no matter how hard I tried.

By the time I hit the last run, my legs were so tired from basically pedaling with one leg (to protect the hamstring injury), that the run legs were gone. I was hoping to catch Andy on the second run but managed to lose about another 5 seconds. At the one "dog leg" I stopped briefly to tighten my right shoe as it was flopping around & annoying me from being too loose. This time there wasn't anything left in the legs to click into another gear. Again, aerobically, it was just fine, but no reaction from the legs. The issues do not seem to be one of cardio, but more of the chassis being underpowered. That's what happens when you get old I guess!

The end result was about a minute behind Andy & about 4-5 places from where I would be when healthy. Obviously some fast guys showed up, but no way my placing is indicitive of where I will end the season. Since West Side Du a few weeks ago, there is no place to go but up. With a new sense of focus on nutrition and recovery from this past weekend, it is time to buckle down & buck up...the season is upon us & I'm behind the 8-ball. It's time to pump up the volume so bring it! Errr....as long as the body holds up that is.

After the race I was talking with a young chap and his wife who had just moved here from Arizona. Pretty funny story...I was explaining how after the timing mat was crossed at T1 on the bike exit--that I jumped on the bike (I saw signs but no "line" on the ground).  The refs yelled to get off the bike & re-mount at the line (which again, there was no line on the ground that I saw, just signs). After hopping on the bike a THIRD time in total...with rubber bands on the shoes already broken...I "stop-mounted" the bike and then my right heal came down on the teeth of the chainring, completely tearing the entire heel off my right foot compression socks (those aren't cheap either!)  No injury was incurred.  In explaining to the young couple, I said now I guess I'll throw out the compression socks. He quickly requested them to take...used, dirty/sweaty, with holes in them. So I took them off right there & handed the socks to him. That was actually just about the best thing of the day because *inside* I was laughing my arse off. Love a good laugh!

Notice the above pictures during the run where the socks are on, then the podium shot where there are no socks. By this time--the third overall place guy (Brian) had already left with his "award" lol!

Which reminds me, racing on what is now a four year old bike with nearly 15 year old race wheels, and 6+ year old tubulars. My gear is getting out of date. It seems to still be working & I still seem to be competitive when not injured, so no point in getting anything but new tires at this point so flats don't happen. Although I need a new race kit...half of my stuff is so old it is in a *dry rot* state. Elastic on the leg grippers are starting to go. The big A race of the year isn't for another 3.5 months so time to heal up & lay the foundation. Sure hope I'm healed better for Bolder Boulder...much further behind than last year, that is for sure! Until next time...you  can either toss in the towel or use it to just wipe the sweat off of you & keep going.
One thing I did different due to injury, was to use the KSwiss shoes as they were super light & needed to take as much strain off the injury as I could. At least until I get a new pair of ultra-light ones from Adidas. In hindsight the Adidas would have had a lot better traction and may have helped on the dirt trail quite a bit more.

As it is a day after the race, I'm barely sore. which tells me racing with injury has left me sensible enough to race UP to the point or threshold of just under making injury worse.  At least it was enough to win the 45-45 USAT Rocky Mountain Regional Duathlon Champion title. Nothing feels worse, as in re-injuring the hamstring--which tells me there is a good sense of awareness on what line not to cross. Hats off to all the competitors for racing fast this past weekend...until the next race...Kevin

(Just call me ===> KK)

Special thanks to Rachel Ames (Andy's wife) for the spectacular pictures.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Big Sky Duathlon Results


Pictures: (top)  Kevin Konczak leads current reigning ITU World & US National 50-54 Champion Andy Ames into T1 at the 2014 Big Sky Duathlon in Denver at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. (Middle) KK rolls into the final segment of the bike portion. (Bottom) Kevin Konczak aka "KK" runs towards the finish line with a significant lead on the final 4K trail segment for the overall win against a tough field on a snowy & rainy/sleet filled day.

Race report:  Above you can see that a morning where I finally decided to show up for a 9 AM race at only 6:15 AM that morning, can turn out to be a good thing. It had been snowing hard in Boulder, but an athlete I coach, Grant, lives near the race site. I called in him in the morning & found it was raining there--something I could deal with if there were enough of the right clothes packed. I got to the site of the race okay after having Grant guide me over the phone on how to get there (my bad I should have MapQuested it but do not have a Garmin in my car either). 
*NOTE: know where you're going by race morning.  Since I had never done this race before I've never scouted the course either. There would be some fast guys there, namely my Team USA room mate Andy Ames who is always a bugger to race--he's the 2013 ITU Duathlon World Champion and US National Champion for 50-54. He happens to be the 2014 US Cross Country National 50-54 running champion as well (crowned just a few months ago). Andy always puts the hurt on me when running! Hey, give me a break, he's a freaking freak of nature and World Champion so I try best I can to hold pace with him. There would also be Mr. Timex (Tim Hola) racing as well as a guy I've never beaten before, Jim Halberg.

I woke up at 6 AM, had some toast, jam on it, then stopped by Amante for a 20 oz. of my fav. I'd been on coffee detox for a week because it wasn't having the useful effect it normally does. This really got me alert. It snowed, sleeted & rained the entire way there. I took 3 pair of running shoes, 5 pair of gloves & 3 pair of hats, 2 pairs of leg warmers.
*NOTE: Use run shorts that have elastic in the legs to hold up leg warmers rather than just a hem.
To shorten the story, I had a ton of clothes to prepare for about anything.
*NOTE: Bring a balaclava when whether is bad, or one of those scarf/headband/balaclava thingys.

Fast forward: Really I had three trips to the bathroom before the race, with about a total of maybe 4 minutes of warm up. At my age, I need to be more diligent about that, especially in a sprint race. The elite wave/young guns went off at 9 AM. My wave and older (45-49+) went off at 9:05. It turns out I had the fastest FIRST and SECOND runs of the day out of the entire field, including the elites. That really surprised me because at US National Cross Country Championships I was so out of the mix from a) not having raced since I think the fall/ITU World Du Champs  b) having done ZERO speed work all winter long.  I'm used to being fast in transitions & ended up with the top T1 & T2 times as well, with the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. Here's how it went down after the gun went off...Andy took off like a bat outta hell as usual, I parked on his shoulder. I decided to have a little fun and speed up to shed the group, but then just after taking the lead my right leg warmer fell down to my knee and trying to catch a moving leg at 5-something per mile pace and pull it up at the same time just wasn't easy to do. Andy took the lead again & then I recalled coming into the park before the race, the wind was going to be in our face after a mile. I stayed parked on Andy's shoulder to use him as a shield and conserve for the bike and second run. Andy likes to be in front and since I've been averaging 5-6 hours of total training a week for who knows how many months now, I was happy to have him do the work.

Knowing I couldn't let Andy be near me after the bike, I kept laps 1 & 2 as an easy-then medium effort. However, I missed the turn around on Quebec Street and reached the cop cars about 5 yards beyond the actual turn around--so lost some time there. To top it off, my leg warmers kept falling down and had to stop pedaling to grab them & pull them up like 3 times! Each lap gaining about a hundred fifty yards on Ames. Jim Halberg was putting big time in on the bike way up in Wave 1 and figured I'm just trying to hold off Andy in my wave...never saw Tim Hola the entire race up there probably because I was too busy keeping my eyes on the road and not wipe out on the wet pavement and avoiding other Wave 1 folks. Lap 3 I pushed it a little harder on the bike but not enough so there wasn't anything left after the bike to counter a move from Andy. As it turned out, my second run was just sort of an effort of comfort. The bugger was I lost a serious number of seconds while running just to slow down in order to pull up my leg warmers. I counted 6 times for sure in the first mile--possibly as many as 3 times. Wardrobe malfunctions stink! I could always have picked it up more and the pain threshold never really got in the way much. One of those days where you can keep pushing but not really feel it, possibly because it was so damn cold I was numb?  I don't know...either way, after the long downhill and turning back towards the stadium/finish, I got a glance at the trail behind me to see where Andy was--couldn't see anything but trail so I just geared it down to the finish line and went over right away to see Andy so I could cheer him on.

I went to the announcer to tell him to say, "Here comes Andy Ames, the reigning World and National Duathlon 50-54 champion!"  I felt Andy deserved all the glory there because he has accomplished amazing things the past year and should be recognized for it. To top it off, he is the Master's Duathlete of the Year for 2013.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure what happened and why I raced to be the only athlete under an hour all the fastest everything but the bike split...in the entire field. Maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the lack of training so I've been rested, maybe it was the crappy weather. My dad always said when the weather is cold and bad, advantage goes to me. He was right in this case. Maybe it's the Swedish blood in me, or being a former Nordic ski racer for years while in college. Who knows, either way, it sure surprised me how it turned out...it was a good day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

On to 2014...

It seems Blogger has made it less user friendly to post a new post so actually accessing Blogger took a little research--Google has infiltrated the process and made it a PITA giving me grief whenever trying to log in to post.

On to 2014...I've ended the year of 2013 on a decent note with a 4th at ITU World Duathlon Championships as the top American Master in the Olympic Distance race in Ottawa, Canada. I've actually been lucky enough to place 16th overall out of all age groups, just missing a bronze medal by one place. Any other age group but ONE other--I'd have podium placed with a World Championship medal...wow, on the first try. Good stuff for a 44.5 year old.

Due to some rather ridiculous/illogical schedule changes in my work hours at my "day job" I've found myself short training time in the afternoon, so 2014 will greatly limit my training. Having to adjust to an early schedule isn't my cup of tea and will prove to be a personal challenge.
That said, I've been swimming & biking mostly, working on that which doesn't take much time, resorting to more quality training than ever--which is all I've ever really trained like.

2014 starts off with racing at the US National Cross Country Championships in Boulder, CO. My first ever...and first race of its kind since racing Division II XC back in college days. Luckily I was recruited by the Boulder Running Company/adidas Master's team. This should be exciting, painful and exhilarating all at the same time. As my first race of the year, I think back to XC days...how the "studs" would race in our nation's championship race...how far above it was from high school & college racing. The guys who race in the Olympics in Track & Field will be here...the big names of tomorrow and years past. I'll be in the 8k Master's race, so not quite toeing the line with the 12k current day pros...but there will be the "old farts" pros from yester-year on the same line.

Swimming has been a lot of fun & I've been posting some pretty good times for me. Finding my stroke flaws & paying attention so so many details that make such a huge difference. Since this is an Ironman year for me again, the focus will be on that big race at Ironman Boulder in August. New age group, local race--only 3 miles from home...can't beat the price for an Ironman! I'm super stoked & just hope the body holds up and is ready for race day. All races until then are merely training days. While I'd like to race at Du Nationals in July, it seems that is the same day as Boulder Peak...so I'm already signed up for the Boulder Peak & tri series...looks like it's all eyes on August!

There will be some equipment changes...minor ones like a new saddle & possibly a Garmin. Aside from that, the plan for a new Zipp 808 rear doesn't seem likely. I do not see a huge $ per watt improvement in the wings...and think it'd be better just banking that away for retirement at this point. Or getting the house painted...logical stuff that we triathletes usually pass over for equipment. 

This past winter I've decided to pass on the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon series & may hop in the last one last minute but I'm not sure as I've not been riding the bike. The motivation to bike hasn't been there & swimming/running has been a little more convenient and fun for me lately. I'm like that...a "mood training athlete" who when I have time, train in whatever it is I have time for. Oh memories of the days of few other commitments!  Looking forward to an exciting 2014!