Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kona Baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kona Baby!

Believe it or not, I am quite the realist. When you do the math on paper, knowing how popular Ironman Arizona is among all the Ironman races worldwide (selling out in seconds - having a Kona slot 11 months ahead of race day) and the the diminishing slots available per race, I have to admit that my goal of making it to Kona in 2015 seemed to be a pipe dream at best. Possibly only 3 or 4  spots available in my 50-54 age group.

But yet, I trained on and press towards the goal to have this race be my opportunity to get to the big island! 

Many asked why I didn't race an Ironman last year when I was in my first year of eligibility in this master age group. Honestly, I didn't have any desire last year to race 140.6. I had 70.3 Ironman Worlds in Vegas as a goal last year and my last full Ironman was back in 2011 at IMCDA.  

I know better than anyone that you have to want to do this race! If your heart isn't in it, the training and commitment is way too hard to just go through the motions.

However, even with the Half Ironman distance is definitely my sweet spot, I did receive the ok from Cristette to sign up for 2014 IMAZ. So I brought my folding chair and blanket the Monday after IMAZ 2013 to sign up for this year. My heart was in it.

Working with Nick White at Carmichael Training Systems ( for the past 3 years has been great. We set a plan for the year that included an A race in the Spring, St. George 70.3 in May and of course, IMAZ in November. Goals included a return to the podium at St. George again like in 2013 and a podium and Kona Slot at IMAZ. 

First goal met with a turn down of the 70.3 Ironman Worlds slot at Mt. Tremblant since there was no way I could make that trip this year.

Now on to IMAZ.

With a successful Soma 70.3 race where I had an ok swim and decent bike, I charged ahead on the run in 4th place in my AG to pick off 3 competitors for the age group win.  I was a little concerned how much work it took and how spent I was post race. After dinner and hydration, I felt great and realized this could possibly be the way Ironman Arizona would play out.  It's how I race.

My race day strategy was to swim smart and consistent and exit the water sometime between 1:05 and 1:10. The swim race morning was uneventful and I came in at 1:08:59. (1:47/100m average pace) Slower than I thought it would be but this distance is not won in the swim. 

They set out chairs in the T1 tent which was great to get my bike helmet and shoes on. T1 took me 4:12.

It's no secret that it was windy Sunday. Northeast gusts got worst as the morning went on.  The 3 loop bike course is fine and the first loop was great, and I felt like a million bucks coming back to Tempe for the Rio Solado/Mill Ave turnaround. Then, the wind. Laps two and three were worst, so much worst! Lap two, I had a couple of spots on the Beeline before Shea that registered 15 mph but the good news was that the winds stayed consistent and he return back to Tempe was fast with easy 33-35 mph speed. I remember Carlos Mendoza calling it "free speed"! The last loop saw a lot of my gains diminish and I admit that speeds were as low as 9-11 mph. I returned to town not too frustrated or worried since I have learned to realize that everyone is dealing with the same elements. My bike split was 5:31:36 (20.27 mph average pace) 

I entered T2 again with outside chairs and much fewer racers to get ready for the marathon. I wasn't dreading it. Everyone knows the run is my strength. At this point, I have no idea where I stood in age group rank. Mentally, I was prepared to hear anything for 10th to 12th position.  I wanted to see Erik Svans as the run began to hear the news. I spotted him and he let me know I was in 9th position but the guys ahead of me were bigger and already struggling. I had in my brain that I would need at least 4th place to have a chance for Kona. That's 5-6 guys I need to run down! Here it goes!

T2 time 2:18

I never ran the run course before race day. I was open to it but it never worked out. (Unless you count the Underpants Run this past Thursday) I was very glad the course changed last year from three loops to a two loops. In past IMAZ races for me in 2097 and 2009, the second "Big Suck" loop is so difficult to work through. I get I could mentally get through a double loop course strong.

Nick told me to be conservative on the beginning of the run. Now upright, and in my element, I tend to run fast and hard off the bike. I looked down at my Garmin 910xt a couple of times in miles 2-4 and saw 6:45 pace. I quickly slowed down and enjoyed the run, staying at 7:28-7:40 pace very comfortably. I did see a couple of 50somethings as I ran on but didn't keep count. I should've but forgot. The rule of this type of day is not to do anything new that hasn't been tested before. I did venture a little out of that mode after attending a breakfast Friday am with Chris Lieto for Base Performance ( and started to hear about salt absorption through the tongue rather than in capsule form. I am a big sweater and tend to overheat as the day gets longer. I put the product in my areo water bottle for the entire bike and licked my thumb and applied the product on my tongue every 15 minutes on the run. I actually loved the salt taste and never walked or cramped on the entire course. As I finished lap one (13.1 miles) I saw Erik again waiting for the report on where I stood in age group rank. "You are now 3rd or 4th but you can't slow down!" He said. "Really?" I thought. This could happen but there was still a whole lot of course to cover. Another half marathon to go. But now I now what's ahead; the out and backs, Curry Rd. hill etc. I continued with my PowerBar gel (double espresso) every half hour and my Base Performance salt  lick every 15 mins. I started cola in the second loop and more water in my mouth and over my head to stay cool. My pace did diminish but not far from 8min miles or faster. 

I have had in my mind all year that my race would come down to the last 10k. 6.2 miles to see how all these months of training would pay off when I needed them.

Last year I committed to Crossfit Endurance training at our One Multisport ( Eilte Team sponsor , Power in Motion. ( Now that I am in my 50s, I truly feel strength and muscle maintenance will set me apart from the competition. All of the burpees, squats, etc will strengthen me to the finish line. 

This all crossed my mind as I past the One Multisport Aid Station at mile 20. Erik was there again and said, "You are in 3rd but you can't slow down." Last 10k - how ironic! 

I felt strong and good going over the Curry Rd. Hill and knew I could hold off anyone new. I would be ok. 

Those miles clicked away rather quickly somehow and before I knew it, I was on Priest heading south towards Rio Solado. Then it's a straight shot home.

As I came to the last aid station with a Sally Meyerhoff theme, all in pink, I saw a poster that read, "Be Relentlessly Positive!" I saw my good friend and Sole Sports Running Zone ( buddy Sean McManus and I said to him, "This is it!" He understood perfectly.

I spotted Erik again on Rio Solado and I asked if I was still in 3rd place. He said, "Yes!" I looked at him and said, "I'm going to do this!?!" 

And I ran into the finish chute.

Run 3:34:15 (8:10/mi pace)

Total 10:21:20
Gender Rank: 112
Division Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 138

Monday's Awards were awesome as expected. I had three goals for the race:
1. Kona 
2. Podium
3. Sun 10 hours

Two out of three ain't bad!

 I was pretty sure things looked good for my slot but nothing was posted at the Village that confirmed the age group slot allocation. 

Then I got nervous. "What if there are only 2 slots?" I thought. 

Mike Riley, the voice of Ironman, put on an plastic lei and began to announce the rules and process for Kona. "I will state the slots, state the name up to three times then move on to the roll down. It sucks being older sometimes more than other times! They start with the 18-24 women and slowly work their way to the geriatric groups. 

Finally, Mike turns the page and adjusts his reading glasses and says, "Men, 50-54 - 3 slots and one added slot for a total of four!" I am in! I waited for my name and my fake flower lei and took my golden ticket to the payment table. 

I am so excited and thankful to my wife and boys for their support. Cristette- I love you and look forward to celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary on the Big Island!

To my club, One Mutlisport and my team ONE Elite -thank you for letting me wear such treasured colors!

Of course to my coach, Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems for his insight and push!

To Valdora bikes ( for being my bike sponsor and for all your support! Can't wait to take the PHX2 to Hawaii!

Now it's marathon training time and my 12 consecutive Rock and Roll AZ full marathon! Never stop! Right?

Until next time!

Aloha and Mahalo!


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Monday, May 19, 2014

May Is For Racing! St. George 70.3 and Other Stuff

I'm basically breaking up my 2014 race season into 2 halves. First half A race was a return to St. George Utah for the Ironman 70.3 funfest on May 3rd. I really had a great experience last year including my second 70.3 World's Championship qualifier and my first Ironman podium. I went into this race with a goal to improve on my overall time (comparing it to the same course in 2013) and get on that podium again. If I was fortunate to qualify for Worlds again, I would pass it up. Due to my second half of the year A race goal; IM Arizona, there is no way I'm getting to Mont Tremblant in September. 

We had quite the Tri-Geek road trip. The entourage included my partner in crime and CTS teammate, Russ Brandt (we share the same coach - Nick White) another Kona boy and local phenom, Jonathan Coffen, and the buff and young,  Nic Wirski. We all were returning for different reasons, for Nic, it was redemption after struggling last year on the run after a blistering bike. For Russ and Jon, it was check on their 40 plus year old bodies (babies!) and see where they are and where they need to be when all three of us go for it at IMAZ in November. For my goals, re-read paragraph one above!

With four bikes, a Yakima roof shell and a decent amount of testosterone we loaded into my Toyota Sequoia and left for Utah Thursday, May Day.

All four of us shared one hotel room. We became even closer...anyway, Thursday night we found our local pad, George's Pub and Grill and overtook the basement pool room and made it our own. Friday was the normal pick up race wheels, get to the reservoir for a swim and ride. Early dinner (so early, we are again!) and early to bed.

Race Day:
There were 24 waves and I was in the 22nd. The pros went off at 7am. I went at 7:57am. The weather in the morning was warmer than last year do the wait wasn't that bad. The water was perfect at approx 64 degrees. I found my rhythm and felt pretty conservative but ok on the 1.2 Mike counter clockwise course (with LOTS of buoys). There is always a false sense of accomplishment when you find yourself passing previous wave swim caps (Male 50-54 was eraser pink) but te reality is the swimming studs of your AG are actually ahead in another zip code. 

0:33:58. 1:45/100m. 20th in AG.

St. George is a point to point race so you have to keep a clean transition stuffing your wetsuit goggles and cap into the bag where you find you bike helmet, glasses and shoes. Everything went good and I found my spot and got to work. 

T1  Swim to Bike 3:07

Everything about the IMSG bike is patience, speed, hills, scenery and, did I say patience? Russ told me last year that the race really starts at mile 40 as we enter into the hilly and beautiful Snow Canyon. 5 miles of steady climbing but if you take it too hard and play the hero, then you WILL pay for it on the run. Again, no surprises on the up and down course. I always laugh inside at the car and mouse game that happens during an Ironman bike leg. My MO is I beat the big boys up the hills and then the buzz by me on the down hills. Back and forth. This played out over and over again. I work to take in 250-300 calories on the bike per hour. I can do that with one water bottle with a concentrated mix of Fix Performance and Hammer Heed along with one gel flask of EFS Liquid Shot (400 calories) of course, I have water as well. Water is the only thing I take aid stations. I took it nice and steady entering Snow Canyon enjoying (relatively speaking) the volunteer signs along the five mile climb. Signs that said things like "Shut Up Legs!"  He last sign you see at the top said, "Your Face Make a Bad Brake Pad!" That is the cue you are heading home to downtown St. George and if you dare, you can get to speeds over 45 mph. I didn't...

2:45:25. 20.31mph 14th in AG.

At a point to point race you have to be thinking where your T2 bag is racked. Fortunately, I had a great spot near the run out blow up that was easy to find. Again, you pack your bike equipment in the bag you will find your visor, shoes and nutrition. 

T2  Bike to Run 2:29

I LOVE this course. It is mostly asphalt and concrete, an out an back. Exactly like my training routes near home on Happy Valley Rd. You climb right away and I relied on my short stride and high cadence to start a game of "Find my AG and Pass Em!" It kept my mind focused and it was working like a dream. I carry PowerGel Double Latte (2x Caffeine) gels to take one out of T2 then one every half hour. I drink water, and cola alternating at each aid station. I started another new game of "Pass But Don't Get Passed" which was fun since my wave was so late at the start. It's also encouraging not only passing guys in my own AG but also guys with 20, 30 or 40 something scribbled on their calf. There is really no way of knowing what place you are in until you find a friend or your phone after the finish but I was hopeful I was on a good position to podium. I was running 2 minutes faster than last year. With a mile left and a turn onto the last main stretch home, I was smiling and thinking I had done all the road killing I could do for the day. Then...
I look ahead at a fit 5'7" muscular triathlete with a close shaved head that had some very short GREY hair and also a faster cadence than me. I tried to get closer and it took work to try to make out the marking on his calf. I thought, "no way there's still another guy to catch!" " "I'm done!" I told myself in a self pity kind of consolation. I could make out a "0" and I realized the scribble above that wasn't a "4" or "3". Yes, it said "50". I am not known for my finish line sprints! (See my Leadman finishing chute pics!) Then another thought entered my mind. "What I he's in 5th Place?" I will be very upset if I didnt go for it and try to get him. There is an aid station with less than a 1/4 mile to the finish (mainly for those starting the run coming on the other side). The guy did slow down just slightly and that was my chance. I came up right behind him, confirmed his age and as we came to a traffic circle roundabout with 500 yards to go and the finish line in sight. I kept it going and at the Iromman carpet I looked back and he was not going to get me. He WAS in 5th place.

1:31:54. 7:00/mi. 5th in AG.

It took a while to verify the final standing because I passed him so close to the finish. My individual results had me in 6th but the 50-54 AG list showed me in 5th. In fact, there ws only 10 seconds between 4th/5th/6th place. I guess I should've worked one more guy!

That afternoon's award ceremony also gave the Divison 2 Club Award to One Multisport!

We went to the Club Reception then eventually found even more friends like John and Brooke Schohl, Dee Frash, back at our basement at George's to celebrate! 

I credit (of course) my coach Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems for helping me get my goal. I also attribute my strength at the race end to my Endurance work with Coach Will Burkhart and Josh Otero at Power In Motion Crossfit. I can't thank my bike sponsor, Valdora Cycles with Pete and Kendra Olson for the beautiful new PHX2 I broke in at this race. Of course my club, One Multisport and my teammates on the ONE Elite Team for all their support.

Just this past Sunday, it was so great to race locally at the Tempe International Tri.  The level of talent in the AZ 50-54 AG is just amazing. The overall top 30 in the race had the superstars John Poisson, Geoff Cleveland, Steve Rink and Todd Witten. There is no rest for the old and competitive! It rivals anything you find at an Ironman event. Anywhere!

Onward to second half of the season goals that will get me to the starting line at IMAZ and my desire to get that Kona slot. There I said it!

Until next time!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

And the 2014 Season Begins...

Every season brings on basically the same thoughts and emotions. You'd think I'd get used to the performance anxiety I feel (careful, I'm talking about racing here) every time I look at my new year race schedule. As a retuning member and lead of the One Multisport Elite Team, there is pressure to perform.  Will I be good enough? Will I be able to compete and have fun? It happens every year. 

The year kicked off positively with my 11th consecutive Rock and Roll AZ full marathon on January 19th. After returning to the ranks last year on the sub 3 hour club, my plan was to do it again on this familiar course. I've said it before and I'll say it again...sub 3 hour marathons hurt for 3 hours! Especially the last hour. 

I went out a little faster than planned but felt very good clipping away at 6:38-6:41 min miles.  At the 13.1 point I was right where I wanted to be at 1:27.  I know the man maker really starts at mile 22 when the left hand turn takes you onto Van Buren to become Mill Ave. There is the only substantial hill at that point that leaves the most fit walking. With my reserves in he bank, I felt confident I was going to make my goal. However, at mile 20 my left hamstring cramped. It worked out without much time lost and the right hamstring seized up at mile 22 right before the turn home to Tempe. I was concerned but doing the math in my head, I felt safe. The final result was a PR of 2:58:44 a 7 second improvement from my record of 7 years ago in 2007! Welcome to my 50s! A big thank you to my coach, Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems getting my marathon plan dialed in as well as my triathlon season the rest of the year!

There was a long gap before the first significant triathlon race this year. With IMAZ coming in November, I am making a conscience effort to race less and train more. 

The Leadman Tri on April 13th was that first local race of distance and I wanted to I well. The distances mirror the 70.3 ironman but with a longer swim (2.5k a longer bike (109.5k) and a shorter trail run (13k). I have to admit I'm always am looking at my competition. This, my second season in 50-54, every year brings new competitors and old (no pun intended) favorites. Besides phenom Geoff Cleveland, new guys who aged up like Salvador Lancaster from SoCal and Paul Hert from Washington State have the big 5-0 bdays this year! Another great triathlete and top USAT All-American who came to town was Rusty Robertson. 

Dang! No cake walk! The swim was forgettable but not a catastrophe. 42:33 for which my Garmin says was 1.8 miles. No extra credit for extra distance in triathlon. Sighting drills for Town Lake are a must! The bike was a 4 loop urban course. My goal to keep same was to see how close to 45 min I could stay for each loop. No problem for loops 1 and 2. Loop 3 saw the most traffic with the Marquee International and Sprint races well on their way. The wind began to pick as well. I came into transition for a 3:08:37. The 3rd best bike split in AG. I just upgraded my Valdora Phx2 frame the week of the race. I am so pleased with it and so honored to represent Valdora Tri Bikes again for my 3rd year! Once on the run, I knew I could hopefully get a feel for where I stood in the race. I knew Geoff was WAY ahead with 31:56 (not a typo) swim split! Last year he had 9 minutes on my and beat me to the tape by 30 seconds! This year, he was able to run and no 8 mile run of mine was going to catch him! On the pedestrian bridge at the beginning of mile 2, I saw a Mark Allen Elite Race Team kit that I thought belongs to Jonathan Coffen. It wasn't him, it was Rusty Robertson. Age 52 on his calf. I clipped ahead and passed him before we crossed that bridge. That was the motivation I needed to push forward and run scared to try to podium. I didn't know where Salvador or Paul were at at all.  I saw Geoff on the other side of the canal and he had a good 7-9 minutes on me. I came into the final stretch of the run  and was pleased with my AG best run split of the day 1:02:27.  Final time and belt buckle award time was 4:56:14.  

Second in AG for the day.  

Thee are many goals for this my first full year at 50. One is to build strength and power to sustain me during these long endurance races. I am having a lot of fun adding Crossfit to my weekly core schedule. I go 2-3 times a week at noon to Power in Motion Crossfit for an endurance based workout that includes strength training and an endurance WOD. I am looking forward to see great results from this and am so pleased to have Josh Otero and PIM as a ONE Elite sponsor this year!  

Next stop is a week from today at Ironman 70.3 St. George ! Race report to follow. 

Special thanks to my 2014 sponsors, One Multisport and ONE Elite which include Destination Kona, Foosia Asia Fresh Power in Motion Crossfit, Complete Skincare and Body Restoration Fix Performance as well as my sponsors: Valdora Tri Bikes, Spira Footwear and Fitsok  

Train safe everyone and happy racing