Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Worlds then Home

This blog post is really late and overdue.  August leading into September was full of family, work, coaching Cross Country and training. This all lead up to my A race of the season, Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Las Vegas on September 9, 2012.

August training was difficult due to the heat and humidity.  There were some great group workouts like Friday morning swim/runs with my club, ONE Multisport at Bartlett Lake.  The warm murky water and hilly asphalt replicated the Henderon, NV course at Worlds.  Fellow Sole Sports Running Zone and ONE teammate, Nick Werski would join me in my bricks at Bartlett faithfully.  I followed local AZ Triathlete Icon, Bryan Dunn's advise to recover up hill and speed the downhills. August training felt more like peak training for a full Ironman.  Not so much for the distance but rather because of the effort.

A highlight was getting to race through the month for TriFamily Racing in Prescott Valley, AZ and for Mountainman Events in Flagstaff, AZ. Both race venues (Sprint and Half Ironman respectively) were in cooler higher altitude climates.  I placed 3rd overall at the Prescott Valley Tri that included a 22 mile bike leg on a cold rainy day.  Flagstaff looked like we might have rain as well on August 12th.  The day was sunny, clear and warm.  As always, I took the 1.2 mile swim cautiously due to the altitude.  As expected, the first 200+ meters were the most difficult trying to get air and acclimate to the lack of air.  My lungs soon got used to my stroke and I moved on to a 35 min. swim leg.  I was hoping for 32-34 but I was ok moving on to the bike.  I have had success on that bike course. Just enough moderate climbing and recovery speed to crank it!  My coach, Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems told me to hit the bike powerfully and work on hydration.  I felt I did both well and came into T2 with a 2:29 bike split for the 56 miler.  Coming into T2 is funny at this race because the Olympic racers are all done and packing up.  You have to run by them all knowing you still have 13.1 miles to run including the 2 mile hill at Marshall Lake.  I felt good and focused starting the run looking for Kona man Erik Svans my buddy and for today, my rival.  He is always going to be in front of me and my only chance today was to catch him on the run.  It did happen heading out on the out and back after Marshall Lake Hill.  He had a bad day and I may never have the opportunity to pass him ever again, so I took a mental picture and filed it away!  I really wanted to try to go sub 1:40 and go after the alabaster Master's Trophy. (40+ Overall Finisher). I won that award last year. My 1:43 run split was good enough for an age group win and 7th overall but no Eagle's head reward!  41 year old, Brandon Nichols from Sierra Vista got it with a minute better finish time.  I didn't know I was that I was that close to him.  Our swims were the same and I out ran him by 5-6 minutes but he blazed that bike course with a 2:22!  The best of the day! 

This all lead to finishing up the last days of training for my big show in Vegas.  The trip to Worlds was amazing and fun.  It was a couples trip along with Matt and Terra Duke. Matt qualified a day after my Boise race in Lawrence, Kansas back in June.  It was also Cristette and my 22 wedding anniversary Saturday, September 8th, the day before the race.  We arrived Friday and went straight to the expo and registration at the Henderson Pavillions. I have had some issues with one of my tubular tire holding air and a flat spot that didn't settle wellwith me.  At the expo, I called fellow Vegas Triathlete and friend, Randy Parr for a recommedation of a bike shop to help me.  He came through so well and within the hour, I was at The Bike Shop in Henderson 10 minutes away from the expo and was able to pick up my bike on the way to the welcome dinner at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Friday night.  CTS hooked me and Matt (and our wives) with VIP passes for the weekend.  Very cool!  Front row seating and open bar!  Vegas Baby! I also hooked up my boy, Elliot Kawaoka for VIP seating that night. 

Saturday we slept in and headed for a practice swim at Lake Las Vegas.  Worlds was a point to point race with T1 at the lake.  T2 and the finishline was back in Henderson at the Pavillions.  The water was confortable and obviously non wetsuit legal.  Matt and I met up with my fellow ONE Elite Teammates, Carlos Mendoza and Sue Meno for a quick ride.  Back to our timeshare on the strip to rest. Matt and I took the bikes back to Lake Las Vegas (T1) before heading out to an early anniversary dinner near the strip.  No wine though.  It was going to be hot and I was hydrating all day until my bathroom stops were frequent and on the hour!  I hindsight, I may go back to my one glass pre race night.  It usually is good luck!  Bed was around 10 pm after stamping race numbers and sponsor temo tattoos for my sponsors, Fitsok Isagenix and ValdoraCycles

Race morning breakfast was an Isagenix Bar with Oatmeal with Bananas and coffee. I took my daily 3 tabs of Extreme Endurance and Matt and I were on our way along with buddies, Mike and Chris to drop us off at Lake Las Vegas.We had to be out of transition by 6:15 am.  This was the classic case of hurry up and wait.  The race had the pros go off at 6:45am.  Then 19 more waves began all the way until 8:00 am!  I was second to the last wave at 7:55 am.  This means the half marathon would be at noon!

The swim was uneventful.  Lots of open water and not too much hammering around me.  I did notice a herd of yellow caps coming up on me at the turn to head back.  It was the fast 25-29 males.  Dang!  34:36 Swim 57th AG.

T1 4:17

The fastest part of the bike course was the beginning 10 miles after a big climb out of Lake Las Vegas.  Then it's off to Lake Mead for an out and back hilly and hot ride.  No opportunity to get into any kind of rhythm.  I felt the heat right away.  I drank every 10 mins and took in Salt Stick tabs every half hour. I use a combo mixture of EFS Light Grape and Carbo Pro along with just water.  My gel is EFS Mocha. My goal was 280 calories per hour and as much water as I could handle.  I took in 5 bottles and probably should have taken in more.  I got thirsty and that's not good.  I could have used another aid station.  Both Elliott and Carlos passed me on the bike.  Elliott first and Carlos at just before 30 miles.  It was my race and I focused on consistant pace.  I saw some riders stopped on the route back just head down and fatigued.  My feat were burning hot in my cycling cleats due to the ground temps. The end of the ride is a 6+ mile moderate climb to the Henderson Pavillions.  There were runners everywhere when I got close to the end of the bike leg.  Like a full Ironman, they take your bike for you and you head to grab your T2 bag and head to the tent to change etc.  I felt fine and had 3 guys watch me change my shoes and head out to the 3 loop run course.  2:48 Bike 20 MPH  51st in AG.

T2 2:03

The run was fun to start and the heat didn't really hit me at first.  There were a lot of spectators along the course. My first mile was fast with a sub min pace.  Then that was the end of that.  The couse is either straight up or down on ashpalt roads for ever.  My body was hot and I had some light cramping but not the "stop in your tracks" kind.  Just my pace deteriorated over time.  My HR stayed high.  I passed Tucson Tri Stud and fellow age grouper, Leo Carillo who was reduced to a walk.  I kept going only stopping for cola and ice at every aid station.  They were running out of ice at many of the stations.  Luke warm water doesn't cut it!  Every loop had us pass the finishline chute.  That's tough to have to go left when the finish was just strides away at the right!  My time finally did come and on my last (3rd) lap, I was amazed how many studly World Qualifiers were behind me still trekking on.  ( I found some happiness in this).  Terra and Cristette were in the VIP Zone waiting for me to finish and I loved coming in and being done!  After giving me my huge medal and T-Shirt, I headed to the cooling tents looking for a diet coke (the only thing I crave post race - don't ask)  I found a warm diet coke and Elliot sitting in a chair looking like a zombie!  It's kind of funny now, but all I did in sit on the floor under his legs and I stayed there for a while.  I;m not quite sure for how long we stayed there not saying a word.  Battle Zone graveyard!  1:57:11 Run 55th in AG.

5:25:28  Finish Time. 55th AG  674 Overall.

I really would like to get to that course again, now that I know it.  We'll see what happens next season!

This past weekend was like coming home with the Red Rock Co. Nathans Lifetime Tempe Triathlon.  Great day to race.  I was happy to see Xterra World Champ Jamie Witmore and her husband, Courtney Cardenas who emceed the weekend.  I sang the National Anthem and then it was off to the races.

I felt like I was racing hard but I was happy for the Olympic Distance length vs. all the Half Ironman 70.3 milers I have endured this season.  My swim felt faster then the time shows (story of my life!)  No issues and a lot of feet to draft off of.  Those stairs leading out of the water are something I never get used to!  29:02 Swim 13th in AG.

T1 1:56

The bike felt fast and flat!  I took off picking off swimmers for the first loop. My Valdora PHX2 was feeling powerful and my pace was 23-25 consistantly.  Just like old times, I had Carlos find me right before the end of lap 1 of 2.  Then came the 40-44 phenoms from the 4 minute behind wave, Russ Brandt and Jonathan Coffen (all Kona Qualifiers) for a star studded lap 2.  This helped push me to stay with them and I came into T2 ready to run.  Still no Leo Carillo or Erik Svans. Did they swim THAT Well? They did!  1:03:55 Bike 23.33 pace 4th best in AG.

T2 1:09

The run is very familiar. 2 loops around the Tempe Town Lake.  I actually felt slow on the first lap keeping Carlos in sight but not able to gain. in fact, he pulled away.  I figured I was running 7 something pace but was surprised to see 6:50 for the first mile.  I was running faster than I thought.  Just holding my postion.  I lost sight of Carlos and never saw Leo.  He has redemption from Worlds on his mind!  He is a work horse!  Strong and fast!  The second loop was much more crowded with 1st loopers starting their runs.  This is where I noticed my pace was better than I felt it was.  Heading over the Mill Ave. Bridge to the finish, I had idea where I placed.  I knew Carlos was in front and I assumes Leo was done, changed and went home.  Was there any out of town spoilers here today like at Marquee or Soma?  Not today!  42:11 Run 6:47 pace 2nd best run in AG.

2:17:30  3rd in AG 33rd Overall.

What a great season!  And it's not over yet!  Soma next month and other races and events along the way.  Worlds was a great experience! I can only imagine what Kona is like! I will find out someday!  But...there's no place like Home!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Training and Racing Into Fitness

The dog days of summer are here and I have no regrets.  Born and Raised in Phoenix, I have learned to appreciate and even embrace the heat.  Maybe it is just that I hate the cold that much more.  I love 5:00 a.m. workout starts without the need to load a light kit to the bike or layer clothing, gloves and a tuque (Canadian word for beanie) before heading out for a run.  I've always associated sweat with work.  Sometimes winter rides, runs and swims lack the human liquid oozing out of my pores that prove a quality workout effort has occured. One exception...I definitely run faster in colder weather.

Besides sweating through workouts early in the morning when the rest of the world is still asleep, I also take advantage to race as often as I can.  Shorter Sprint or Olympic Triathlons (My friend, Steve Rink calls them Diaper Dashs) and even a 5k or 10k run are a great way to fine tune my competitive edge, work on transitions, and just keep in touch with the endurance community.

This calendar year (or season) has no 140.6 Ironman planned so I have more flexibility to race more often.  Something that dedicated training for a full Ironman can't afford.

Working with my coach, Nick White as part of the Carmichael Training Systems Train Right Program, I have continued to train for my next A race - the Ironman 70.3 World Chamionships in Las Vegas on September 9th. The focus continues to be 2 solid weeks of 12-15 hours focused on endurance and interval training followed with a week of endurance only recovery work - still in the 12+ hour goal.  If there is a Sprint Traithlon or 5K thrown in, I have to work it into my workout plans.  For example, I competed in the TriFamily Racing JCC Firecraker Triathlon in Scottsdale on July 9th. I still had a hard bike the day before and a 40 minute run after crossing the finish line race day.  Results were still good with a 3rd overall finish but the real win is the work in tranistion, speed work and hyrdation management. This isn't for everyone but it seems to usually work for me.  The results aren't always stellar and the decision has to be made that this type of race is not the ultimate goal and racing without a normal taper (even for a short race) may be frustrating.  This was the case at the Red Rock Company Rio Salado Olympic Tri back in May.  (see previous blog posts for details)

I also really enjoy supporting smaller local races full of first timers and youth.  This is the backbone of our sport.  Without new entries into multisport, we will just be a bunch of veteran spandex wearing elites discussing power meters, drafting violations and whether pros should be competing with us as age groupers. (all conversations I have been a part of before)  Every athlete is different and has certain goals with separate training and race styles.  I just know this is one way I stay motivated and feel has been one of the main ways I have been excited to compete and train for over 25 years in the sport.

Big races and big goals is still a huge part of what keeps me going too!  After meeting with my buddy and exteremely successful local Traithlete, Bryan Dunn about the Vegas Worlds course, I have added more hill work on the bike and for selected runs.  One new addition has been the going the past couple of Fridays with my peeps at ONE Multisport for the Bartlett Lake open water swim.  Now that I have the Garmin Forerunner910XT, the accuracy and cold hard truth of open water distance, pace and stroke are now recorded. The other opportunity this gives me is a brick run out of Rattlesnake Cove just like it will be like at Lake las Vegas. I hope to do more of these early Friday bricks before September. Just another reason to love summer and the Arizona sun!  (no wetsuit needed right now!)

No issues or injuries to report (hallelujah!).  I continue to use Isagenix Nutrition for recovery meals and continue to take Extreme Endurance tabs for reducing lactic acid and speed up recovery.  I was asked recently what vitamins I take.  I take a multi tab, extra E and C, Magnesium, an Omega 3 and a Digestive Enzyme.

Next month (August) is Mountainman Half Iron Triathlon.  Then just a short 4 weeks to Vegas Baby!  I am thrilled to have fellow ONE Elite Teammates, Carlos Mendoza and Sue Meno join me at Worlds.  Their amazing qualifying performances at Vineman 70.3 this month sealed the deal!

Until next month, go out there and train and maybe throw in a race too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Boise 29.3 or There's More Than One Use For a Wetsuit!

Race goals are a funny thing.  Nothing is for certain in Triathlon or in life for that matter.  That's why, I guess, Triathlon mimics Life.  Ever since I competed in the Ironman Califonia 70.3 race on March 31st, I had the bug planted inside me to qualify for the World Championships in Las Vegas this year on Sept. 9th.  I even mentioned this goal in my profile in 3/GO Magazine  Nothing like throwing it out there in a worldwide publication!

What the heck!  I have seen moderate success this season in the 70.3/Half Ironman distance with a 16th AG place in the very competitive Oceanside race and a 3rd overall at the Red Rock Co. Marquee Half Iron in April.  But it's very tough to get a slot with so many 70.3 races only alloting 30 slots per event!  For a 45-49 year old male age grouper, that usually means a guy has to rank in the top 2! 

Enter, stage right, my One Multisport Elite teammate, Klas Kuntze.  He informed me that Ironman has allotted 100 slots at the Boise, Kansas and Syracuse 70.3 races this year!  "Boise is doable", I thought.  And after negotiations with my wife, I registered for the June 9th race in Idaho.

Between Klas and fellow, youngster Triathlete (and accountant) , Elliot Kawaoka (#fathervsson) the math seemed to work for a good shot at this coveted spot for Sin City! (Really, Lake Las Vegas)  According to Elliot's excel spreadsheet, there could be 8-10 spots in my age group in Boise.  (Elliot already qualified in Florida earlier this past month!)

I discussed the plan with my coach, Nick White, at Carmichael Training Systems and we hit it running!

Upon arriving Thursday, June 7th in Boise, after a two day road trip with my middle son, 17 year old Nathan, I was so pleased with the weather and accommodations we had in the quaint downtown area.  Klas has become the "Ken Glah" of triathlon travel and we were set up at the Grove Hotel which was set up right next to the expo, T2 and finish line! 

Weather was even better Friday, the day before the race. (Boise is a Saturday event with a noon start time)  A group of us local Phoenix tri geeks including Klas, me, Alex Russell, David Rizzi and Karl Schneider took a late morning ride/run brick following the beginning of the 13.1 run route.  I actually overdressed for the workout and shed some layers after our tune up bike before the quick brick run.

We all kept checking weather reports throughout the day that had seemed to forcast rain for Friday and showed a cloudy and cool race day Saturday.  There was no rain this day and maybe the weather predictions were off a bit.  Just maybe! : /

Having a Half Ironman start at noon is very interesting.  I have done the Boston Marathon at noon and  at 10 a.m. in years past but never a 4-5 hour Triathlon.  Friday night dinner was later than usual for a pre race meal; about 7:30 p.m. and we could literally sleep in race morning. 

Race Day:

My body automatically wakes up at 4-4:30 a.m. every morning, but I was able to stay in bed until 6:30 a.m. I immediately got up and peek out the hotel curtain to view the T2 set up outside my window.  It was raining and the flags were stiff on their poles due to the strong winds.  Just great!  "It'll be a lot like Oceanside." I thought, "drizzly and cool - fast run!"  I had a shower and shave and made my pre race in room breakfast of coffee, oatmeal with sliced bananas and Gatorade Perform.  All made inside my room, sinkside.  Weather can change so fast and the cannon doesn't go off until 12:35 p.m. for me.  A lot can change by then.  And it did.  I soon found out it would only get worse.

We took my Toyota Sequoia out Friday afternoon to the Lucky Peak Reservoir to drop off our bikes.  School bus shuttles met us race morning Saturday at 9:15 a.m. to take us to the swim start.  We arrived before 10:00 a.m. and as soon as we unloaded, the cold, wet, windy weather slapped us in the face with a fury.  So different than when we were there the afternoon before!  The race announcer greeted us on the PA system and I went straight to T1 to check on my bike lugging my T2 and Morning Clothes Bags.  My Valdora PHX2 looked wet but good and ready. I took it off the rack to get my tubular tires aired up by the local bike shop.  I attached my Bento Box that held my tubular spare and EFS Gel Flask. This Point to Point race called for a "Clean Transition Area" which means you leave nothing on the ground. The T1 Bag containing my new Louis Garneau Vorttice Black Knight Helmet with visor, shoes, and socks now hung from my handlebars.  After the swim, it's mandatory to insert your wetsuit, goggles and caps in the same bag completely and leave it all in the transition area.  All this prep took only minutes and I began to realize the weather was getting worse and worse with more rain, wind and dropping temperatures.  There were still 3 hours until race time!  I began to regret getting a 10:30 a.m. ticket for Nathan to come see the swim start.  There may be one thing worst than waiting to race in miserable conditions.  That's waiting to watch someone else race in miserable conditions!  The cold wind left us with no where to hide. Karl found me and said he was putting on his wetsuit early to stay warm.  That sounded like a good idea and I noticed many shivering, low body fat Triathletes doing the same.  I found a small bathroom and took my time putting on my Aqua Sphere Phantom wetsuit and then still put on my jacket.  Walking outside again, it didn't seem to help that much.  It was later reported that temperatures had dropped to 41 degrees or below. That was without the wind chill factor.  Still 2+ hours to go!  Klas or Karl noticed some wetsuit clad Triathletes now climbing into the back of a large UHaul Truck parked right next to T1.  We went to check it out.  Looking in we saw rubber skinned refugees with teeth chattering inside.  We climbed aboard and joined them inside.  Over the next hour 30+ Triathletes would come in and huddle/cuddle to stay warmer than the outside elements.  Klas announced to all inside that I would be putting this adventure in my Blog.  So be it!  We could still hear the announcer giving updates about transition closing and stupid jokes about the weather.  Then the big announcement came..."Due to severe weather and 40+ winds from the NW, the Race Directors have decided to eliminate a large portion of the bike course where athletes would be most exposed to the dangers.  You will complete the entire 1.2 mile swim but bike approximately 15 miles into downtown Boise to T2 and then complete the entire 13.1 half marathon."  Our home away from home (UHaul Truck Cabin) digested this information and we started to plan accordingly.  "It's going to come down to the run." I thought.  Transition closed close to noon so I filed out of the truck at about 11:45 a.m. to make last minute adjustments to my race set up.  I took my 24 oz. water bottle off the frame that held my EFS drink. and just kept the smaller 20 oz. version on my bike.  I still kept my spare and tools attached.  You never know. 

The Swim:

The race was delayed by 10 minutes due to road adjustments and run volunteer set up much earlier than expected.  I was so cold.  I now donned my neoprene cap and beenie still in my wetsuit and jacket waiting for the very last minute to turn in my Morning Clothes Bag.  The water tempswere annouced to be at 57 degrees.  Much warmer than the outside air.  I wanted to get in the balmy 57 degree water! 

As we filed onto the boat ramp by cap colors, I made my way along with my neon green headed brothers between the ages of 45-49.  Two waves to go before we would start and I had felt like so much energy was used just to keep my body warm to this point.  My legs felt tight and crampy.  The swim volunteers on jet skis were already bringing in swimmers in yellow caps who gave up on the day back to shore before I even got started.  Not a good sign!

The water felt just fine.  It should have been stinging my face, hands and feet but they were already frost bit.  The horn blew and we were off at 12:45 p.m.  No issues on the swim at all.  Good room to find open water. Sighting was ok and I felt like I got into a groove early on.  I caught white caps right away on the triangle course.  At the first major turn, I glanced at my Garmin 910xt and it read 14:36.  It was a triangle, not an out and back so I didn't know if that was good or not.  I felt more congested and got hit more the last 500 meters as we finished the 1.2 miler running uphill to the carpeted timing mat.  A great wetsuit stripper greeted me and my butt hit the ground as he pulled the neoprene from my ankles.

Swim time: 34:47 AG Rank: 13th. Gender: 163 Overall: 209.

The Bike:

I had been debating and discussing the use of gloves and arm warmers in the bike with other racers.  I was all for it but concerned about the time it would take to put it all on in T1.  I also knew once my adrenaline gets going and my competitive nature comes into play, I don't feel I need these items and just move on.  That was the case here.  I entered T1, strapped my helmet, put my Fitsok F4 socks and shoes on.  I was required to stuff my wetsuit, goggles etc into the bag as well and I was on my way.

T1: 2:56

It was the biggest post race discussion that some pros decided to keep their wetsuits on for this short 15 mile ride into town.  The pictures are amazing and funny.  Personally, I was cold but I feel I have been colder.  In 1994, I did the a sprint tri in Show Low, AZ on October 20th.  I rememeber the date because my now, almost 20 year old son, Andrew was celebrating his 2nd birthday on that race day.  The swim was 800m in a warm indoor pool and I remember seeing so many Triathletes "wasting time" putting on clothes for the 12 mile bike.  I was in a speedo and ran to transition to head out.  It began to snow and I got the weirdest looks from truck and car drivers as I shivered along the local roads.  If I can live through that cold and embarrasment, I can do this!

The first big downhill came right away as we left the reservoir.  With a combination of wet roads and wind, I was extemely nervous to take it too fast.  There were other no pass zones and faster straight aways that made this bike go by so fast.  I did take in 2 big gulps of EFS drink and gel as I saw downtown some into sight.

Bike Time: 38:15  AG Rank: 10th. Gender: 145 Overall: 169.

I entered T2 and overshot my bike spot and T2 bag. I backed it up to reletively empty rack.  I should have saw that as a good sign but didn't put it all together at that moment.  Taking off my helmet and shoes, my socks were all bunched up. I fixed them, put on Spira Stinger XLTs visor, sunglasses and took off.

T2: 2:34

The Run:

Leaving T2 it was ironic that the weather was clearing up a little.  The only thing that could have been stranger would have been a heat wave at this point.  That didn't happen.  It did take 2-3 miles to feel my feet though.  They were still numb from the swim and short bike.  I knew they were hitting the ground but I felt nothing.  That may have been a good thing.  At the very beginning of the run, I spotted my friend and rival, Jeff Bassett in his Team Faster kit just ahead of me.  (Rio Salado all over again? See my other blog entry for the details) I knew Jeff was there and would be competing for a Vegas Worlds slot.  I was encouraged that he was just right there in front of me so early on the run.  I usually have to fight the entire run to get near him by the very end.  I kept him in sight and put a 6:30 first mile on the course followed by a couple more sub 6:40 miles to begin the race to the finish.  Still, really  had no idea where Jeff or I stood in the AG ranks.  If it were a true 70.3, I could guesstimate finish times.  My goal was to run fast and hard and I wouldn't want to accept anything less than a solid sub 1:30 half marathon time considering the modified bike course.  Upon the 2nd loop of a very picturesque trail/park course, I came upon my ONE Elite Teammate, Tour Guide and good friend, Klas.  He has crashed on the steep hill right out of transition hard and was just holding on through the pain to finish.  I came along side of him and he said I was in this for sure.  BUT, there was no place to rest and it would have to hurt.  As I asked him if he was okay, he barked, "Forget about me and MAKE IT HURT!"  My next mile was 6:38.  Jeff never lost ground and I truly felt like I was running faster and should be gaining ground!  Dang it, He's good!  He knew I was there and he just kept bringing it.  He was NOT letting up.  With a 5k to go, I hit it and raised my heart rate to over Anaerobic Threshold.  "So what, it's almost over.  I thought. "I want no regrets today."  As the last turn into town approached, I knew Jeff was within a minute but not able to be caught.  I hoped he didn't have the last spot but I had run very hard.  As the Ironman logo carpet hit beneath my feet, I noticed the runner just yards ahead of me had the number 48 marked in black on his left calf.  What?  I put on the afterburners and sprinted to catch then pass him with less than 20 yards before hitting the timing mat.

Run time: 1:27:32

Total Time: 2:46:04

Overall AG Rank: 7th. Overall Gender: 93 Overall: 107.

It would be within the hour after checking posted results next to the food that Jeff was 6th, I was 7th place in our age group and the guy I out sprinted, Doug Ross from Knoxville, TN was 8th in our AG.   "How many slots would there be?" I wondered.  I soon found a conference room within the Boise Conference Center that would have results, Vegas slots and awards.  There was a sheet of paper taped to the door showing the slot allotment for the race.  "45-49 Males - 8 Slots"  I made it!  So did Jeff and Doug!  I left the room looking for Nathan to tell him.  In doing so, I bumped into Jeff and told him the news.  He already knew.  He congratulated me and held up a Ironman logo piece of paper.  He already got his slot!  Dang it again!  He even beat me even in getting his award!  ;-)

I learned so much this past weekend. 

1. We compete in an outdoor sport with no real guarantees. 
2. The ability to adapt and improvise can make all the difference.(Ask Matty Reed and his wetsuit ride into downtown Boise and eventually the win)
3. The journey is usually a bigger part than the actual race.
4. I can put together a fast twitch sprint at a finish line afterall!
5. Sometimes putting your goals out there can motivate you to acheived success.

More races, more successes, more failures, more fun and learning await this season for sure. 

Thank you for being a part of it all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Early Season Races are REAL Races to the Finish

I have usually considered myself as a late season peaking Triathlete.  I hate the cold so it's easier to run all winter and train for the Rock and Roll AZ Marathon in January. (10th consecutive run will be coming in 2013!) I still swim and bike (mostly on the trainer) but as February and March come into view, so does the local AZ Tri Season!  I am also characterized by racing A LOT, so my mantra is "Race into My Fitness".  This year, I got into the Oceanside 70.3 race on March 31st through my coaching company, Carmichael Training Systems and also commited to Red Rock Company's Marquee Half Iron distance Tri on April 15th.  Two Half Ironman races before mid April!  My normal "peak" that is in October seems so far away!

I tested the waters early with a sprint and olympic distance race in February and March for TriFamily Racing with decent success.  Age group wins but just out of the top 5 overall at both races.  These pool swim events are very popular for beginners but are now on the radar screen for some other local and out of town talent that show up on any given race day.  I like that.  Truth be known, it's always good to keep one's ego in check and realize there can ALWAYS be someone or two, or three etc. who can beat you.  They may not show up and you are the hero of the day.  You just never know.

Oceanside was my first WTC Ironman 70.3 event I have done.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.  It's feels and looks like a full Ironman (even Mike Riley calls your name at the finish) without the 10-11 hour hurt. It was a great trip to SD staying downtown living like a bachelor with my friend, Derek McClintock.  Race day was a little wet and stormy.  The water cold in the low 60s but protected in a bay with limited open water exposure.  There were 24 waves and I was in the 19th. This gave me time to go to the ocean side and play in the waves to get acclimated to the water and cold. I expected my wave to be more crowded and I was a prepared to take it slow and easy.  I have a confession to make.  It has been over 7 years since I've done an ocean swim. The last two I did ealier in the last decade (both in San Diego) has two drownings.  The last one in my wave and age group.  That has been something I've carried for a while.  This race was my chance to get that monkey off my back.  Due to the storm, the water was choppy but managable.  It was worst at the half point turn around where the bay exposes to open water. My swim time was 36:19 and put me in 59th place in the 45-49 age group.  I was concerned about being cold and wet on the bike and put arm warmers in my T1 bag.  Oceanside changed things this year and had two transition areas. As usual, my adenaline kept me warm and I didn't even consider any extra clothing or warmers.  It was drizzling on the entire one loop bike.  I remember smiling when I saw so many white race kits out of the course.  I had discussed an all white ONE Elite Team kit for 2012 instead of the main black ones chosen. After seeing so many brown "racing stripes" on the white bike shorts I passed, I'm glad we stuck with black.  The first 27 miles were wet and rolling and the scenes through Camp Pendleton were great!  It reminded me of many races in the area I did when I lived in Southern California before the boys were born as well as races I did during 9 straight years of vacations to Mission Bay when the boys were little. Then the hills came.  My work riding from home to Cave Creek and Carefree to the towers was great prep for this course.  I also likes the one loop format.  Never really repeating much.  ONE Elite Team mate, Carlos Mendoza caught me at about mile 35.  He was in my same age group, but with so many racers, we were split in two waves.  45-49 A-L, 45-49 M-Z.  He is such a strong athlete and my goal was to stay with him to the end of the bike. I did that and came into T2 in 2:38:16 moving me up to 25th in my age group.  Now it was time to run.  I looked forward to this flat fast strand run.  I just hoped I didn't push it too hard on the bike.  I consumed 270 calories per hour on the bike with water (even though I didn't feel thirsty).  Ihave been using 1st Endurance http://www.firstendurance,com/ EFS Drink in orange and Liquid Shots this season so far.  Pre race and recovery, I use Isagenix IsaLean and Whey Protein. I really like the liquid flask that hold 400 calories since I am challenged with opening other 100 calorie gel packs during a race. I felt great on the run. It was crowded with so many racers on the sometimes single lane course. My new Garmin  910XT showed my miles clicking away under 7 min. pace.  I never saw so many 40 something male triathletes in one place before!  I slowed down a little at mile 11 but found inspiration in coming up to fellow age grouper, John Czajkowski from Imperial Beach.  I wear CEP compression sleeves for any run or Triathlon at or over 3 hours so they hide my race age!  John looked at me as I came up to him and asked the million dollar question...How old are you?  I smiled and said, 48...49 actually by USAT standards.  He used a word I won't repeat here and smiled.  He followed it with, " I was a afriad of that!"  He did not respond to my surge and I came in to the finish line right behind fellow ONE Elite Team mate, Sue Meno who was 2nd in her AG!  My run split was 1:31:49 and my finish was 4:52:56. moving up to 16th in my age group and 183rd overall.

I won't detail Marquee or Rio Salado yet, but both those most recent races required my run finsih efforts to be tested.  At Marquee, fellow La Jolla, CA age grouper, Salvador Lancaster asked me the same question as I caught him at the end of the Rural Rd bridge in Tempe with a mile left to go.  Mile 12...His question was the same as John's at Oceanside and after my answer, (this time I just said 49) his one word response was exactly the same expletive.  This time though, he stayed with me and my Garmin shows a sub 6 min. 12th mile but Sal has a kick and I don't.  He out sprinted me to the finish and 2nd place in our age group.  My Marquee time was 4:39:01.  3rd in AG and 15th overall.

This past weekend at the Rio Salado Olympic distance race, I knew it would be very fast and at or above anaerobic threshold.  All the local stars would be there and I knew there would be zero time to relax.  After a 27:04 swim (always feels faster than that!) and a decent but not stellar 22.7 average bike split of 1:04:59, It was time to run.  Could I use my running speed to make up for my fellow teammates, Carlos Mendoza and Bill Jones as well as Jeff Bassett who can always put the hurt on any race day?  I was running sub 6:40 pace but was discouraged a little that I never saw Billy or Carlos ahead on the course.  Not a good sign.  What about Jeff?  This time it was the Mill Ave Bridge when I spotted Jeff ahead of me about 200 yards.  Here we go again.  My brain figured out that Carlos and Bill had run very well so their 1st and 2nd AG place was secured.  Jeff was in position for 3rd and I was gaining.  There wasn't a whole mile to go though, only about .25 miles and there was no need for Jeff to ask my age as I came shoulder to shoulder to him.  He and I know our ages.  We made the corner turning to the grass ad Jeff pushed foward to hit the tape 3 seconds ahead of me.  He earned it and I was left, this time, with a great run split of 40:43 averaging 6:34 pace but no hardware.  I couldn't help but wish I was already 50.  (only a Triathlete thinks like that!) Total time was 2:14:55. 4th in AG and 16th overall.

I have to admit that I really hate not performing in a manner that is expected of me.  I struggled so much for almost a year after a sub par performance at Ironman AZ 2007 even though it was a PR at the time.  My CTS coach had me set for an hour run post race Saturday so it allowed me to think, work out my dissapointment, regroup etc.  The best part was coming up to racers still on the course who I could encourage and lift up.  That's what it's all about.  The effort I had to make on Saturday took a lot out of me and I caught a cold this week.  My eye is on the next A race at Boise 70.3 on June 9th.  I want to focus on this and set a goal for a World's slot for Vegas in September.  More to come on that preparation.

I have no time to peak this fall, or maybe it can or will happen!  The fact is that I am encouraged by the successes and learning that has already taken place this early season.  I LOVE the Valdora PHX2 Black Pearl I am riding this season.  Pete and Kendra Olsen are the best and I am looking for more power and results on the bike (so I don't have to run so hard all the time! LOL)

This was long but long over due.  More to come from the guy with a cold and way too much on his plate!  Time for dinner!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Season starts BIG! A Blogger Is Born!

I have taken the advice of fellow bloggers and now plan to post my training and race reports for those who care.  I will do my best to share what you may want to see here.  Let's do this!