Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oceanside 70.3 Race Recap - Part 2

Don't you just love the suspense of the "carry-over" blog. I know so many of you were hanging on to the edge of your seats waiting for this post...race we go.

So after what seemed to be an eternity of waiting, it was finally my wave's start (second to last). Upon take-off I sucked in a huge mouthful of salt water, which quickly reminded me that I was in the ocean (only my second tri in the ocean). I got into a pretty good groove with minimal fighting and just cranked it.

The swim goes out through the marina past the break for a small portion of real ocean swim (unprotected by the break) and then back in. Only two things of significance happened on the swim: 1. I got elbowed so hard in the eye I thought it would be black, and 2. I couldn't see past the break to the finish so I couldn't really judge my output based on seeing the distance left. All-in-all though, good swim.

Out of the swim I had a pretty solid four minute and change transition and took off on the bike. The bike course was very cool as it wound through Camp Pendelton military base. It was fun to see troops marching, all the barracks and sign's that read: Tank Crossing. The bike was mostly flat for the first thirty or so miles, but it was really windy and I thought it hid a lot of false flats.

The last twenty or so miles proved to be more challenging. There were two massive hills followed by a handful of those rollers that you wished didn't have to be at the end of the bike course. I would say this course was very bizarre for a couple reasons. First, there were a ton of cyclists out there that seemed to have never been on a tri course before. People were weaving all over the road and riding to the left the whole way. Second, this was the first 70.3 I have ever done where I saw a number of people off their bikes walking them up the hill.

I screamed in off the bike feeling like I had a great ride, but knowing that I didn't have much for the run. I probably doomed myself thinking ahead of the race that I would die early in the run due to only training for five weeks...but what are ya gonna do? This was my toughest 70.3 run in five races. I just could never kick it into gear, flush out the legs and get into a groove.

With that said, I just kinda grinded along chugging water and Gatorade and eventually moving into the coke. It was sunny and about 75 degrees but felt like 85 on the pavement, and my big body doesn't like racing/training in the heat.

I finally saw my Dad (whose wave started thirty minutes in front of mine) around mile three or so. After a wave and a holler I picked up the pace in hopes to catch him...but I was sucking already and he looked pretty solid. I kept grinding and saw him again around mile seven thinking there was no way, because I was pretty much spent; the lack of training now very apparent as I was closing in on the finish.

But then...I spotted him on the turnaround and he was only about a half-mile up so I grinded and grinded until mile 10 when I finally caught the old man! He was hurting a little too dealing with some knee issues. I thought about saying hi and continuing on, but when will I ever get the chance to coincidentally catch up to my old man on a racecourse and finish with him? So I slowed down (from my already slow pace) and we jogged out the last three miles of the race together and had the opportunity in all our glory to cross that finish line arm in arm and arms in the air! It was a truly euphoric finish and one I will never forget (especially because I can't let the old man slow me down again:)).

It was a great race, a very cool course with great support from all the Marines and great support from a full crowd. I would definitely go back to race this one again, especially because it's early in the season so it keeps you busy in the winter, and who can argue with a 70.3 in southern California?

So out of five 70.3's this was my third fastest. I had my second fastest swim, my fastest overall bike, my slowest run and my most fun finish.

Next up is the Pacific Crest Marathon in June (Sunriver, OR) and then the Lake Stevens 70.3 in August (Lake Stevens, WA). I would like to get in one more 70.3 this fall but don't have one on the books yet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oceanside 70.3 Race Recap - Part 1

I was excited for this race for a few reasons. One, it was the first of the season, which is always exciting. Second, it was in sunny California on a course that I haven’t done before. Finally, and most importantly, it was with my Dad; our first race together at this distance. He was training for the full IM in St. George and this was his training race, which I was happy to join in.

I flew into San Diego on Thursday night, which was a little later than I had hoped to be there, but I couldn’t pass up being the mystery reader at my daughter’s kindergarten class that morning.

It’s about a 40-minute drive up from San Diego and I got checked in to my hotel in time to visit for a bit with my family and hit the sack around 11p.

Friday morning I headed with dad to registration and expo down on the waterfront. It’s a cool scene down there along the boardwalk on the beach. Registration was easy and went fairly quickly and then we walked the expo picking up swag and souvenirs. I was the best expo compared to some of the other 70.3’s I’ve been to.

I have a pretty strict pre-race day schedule. I like to get registration, expo, transition and warm-ups done by one or two o’clock. After expo we went to swim, but they were not allowing athletes in the marina (where the swim starts), nor were they allowing them in the ocean (some current issues). This was my first 70.3 without a swim the day before. After the swim disappointment we headed out for five miles or so on the bike and then for a mile or two run.

Happy with the events so far it was time to move on to the next part of my strict pre-race schedule…feedsack….relax….sleep-nap.

Although we were staying at the (or so it seemed), I did have a friend who lives in Carlsbad that happened to be out of town and offered up his place for us to cook up our pre-race meal. Part of the schedule is to eat spaghetti with marinara sauce and lean ground turkey, garden salad with ranch and fresh French bread with tons of butter.

This however, all has to be in the works by 4p. That allows an hour four cooking and relaxing, and hour four stuffing your face and your are done by 6p. After dinner I like to sip on Gatorade, watch some motivational movie like 300 and the hit the sack by 9p. I have to go to bed this time because it allows my body enough time to calm down and rest so I can actually, hopefully get sleeping by 10p or 11p.

Everything worked according to plan. We didn’t have to wait in busy restaurant lines or eat crappy restaurant food. We drove 11 miles to Carlsbad, shopped at Ralph’s and hit up my buddy’s apartment. We cooked, stuffed our faces and relaxed. It was quiet, we had a great meal and never worried about a thing.

We headed back (11mi) to Oceanside and visited a bit before making my 9p deadline. After checking and double-checking the gear and bike and breakfast preparations I finally hit the sack around 9:30p After about an hour of tossing a bit and “cooling off my mind” I finally checked out….on and off…..inconsistently….until the alarm went off a 4a or something like that. We had prepared Quaker oatmeal to cook in my “in room microwave” (a perk at along with bananas smothered in a jar of peanut butter, coffee (for me to get the invaluable pre-race poo motivated), and Gatorade to sip on.

After a super filling breakky, bottle fill (with water Gatorade endurance and thermolytes) we drove to the race.

We had to park about a mile or so from the finish and ride our bikes and transition bags to the finish. This wasn’t a big deal and gave a small warm-up for a long wait to the start. I was in the second to last start wave so basically I could have come to transition about and hour or two later.

I setup transition, helped my Dad setup his, we gave that last minute pee and I saw him off to his wave start. Then I realized…I had 45 more minutes until my start….BORING! I walked around transition, peed again, watched the pro’s come in and then finally made it out to the swim start.

You get into the water at the marina boat launch, swim out about 50 yards or so and then tread for a couple minutes before the gun goes off.

And then…the usual swim start chaos full-contact swimming that goes with the territory….so FUN!

To be continued…..

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ready Or Not...

March 25, 2010 -

Today I leave for Oceanside, CA to compete this Saturday in the Rhoto Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. This will be my fifth 70.3 distance race. To date, I have gotten faster with each race and we will see if I can do it again. I have trained for only six weeks for this race do to some injury, but am as ready as I can be. What I'm lacking physically, I can more than make up for with mental dominance.

After last Thursday's 12 mile run, I took off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This wasn't my intention, but just how things worked out. I wouldn't say it was totally off however. I mowed the yard, did more remodel working the kitchen, had a garage sale and a general house overhaul. All this includes lots of pushing, pulling and hauling. I broke a few sweats.

Monday I hit the pool for a 2500 yard swim. I did a 500 warm-up with mixed swim, kick, pull followed by a 1 x 2000. This swim went really well and I hit 2000 yards somewhere in between 31 and 32 minutes.

Tuesday I went out for one last long bike, which ended up being a great confidence booster for several reasons. I got a flat 30 minutes into the ride (rear tire), which I changed no problem. There were wicked winds, which I managed, and I dominated the hills that gave me problems the last time I did this ride. For the icing on the cake, it was sunny and 60! I finished with 52 miles at 18.2 mph avg in a time of 2:51.

Wednesday I did a short 30 minute run at tempo and then headed to the pool to kick out and easy 1000 yard...but I forgot my jammers...bah.

Finished up race prep with a nice buzz cut, silky smooth leg shave and a thorough bike and chain clean. All packed up and ready to go.

What's done is done now...and ready or I race!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Soon...A Baker's Dozen

March 17, 2010 -

Hard to believe in just over a week I will be running a cool baker's dozen to polish off another 70.3 and the start to my 2010 tri season. But for today, I ran out a clean dozen. 12 miles in the wind and rain to top out my running before next week's race. I plan for one more big bike tomorrow and then slowly taper down and hope that what I did over the last five-and-a-half weeks was enough to tough it out and have a respectable finish.

Usually training plans are 20 weeks...but five to six works too...right?

It's a little sad though, I have gotten progressively faster in every race to this point and had high expectations for a dramatic new PR in this race. I guess setbacks are all just a part of training and racing. I imagine it must be similar to last year when I was peaking and running like a fine tuned, well-oiled machine and my dad was out with a meniscus tear. I guess everyone takes their turn with injury.

Regardless, I'm happy with where I was able to get in this short time and am definitely getting that excitement that comes with race time! I'm ready to go out there and shred it until I either finish or fall over.

Yesterday was one of those Nike days where you have to "just do it". The weather was pretty blah and I was pretty indifferent on my workout, but I did know I had to crank out one more long run before the race.

I set out in about 45 degrees and wind and rain. After about four miles however, the rain let up and it was kind of calm and balmy until the last two miles when the rain came back....pretty decent over all. With my big frame I'll take cooler weather any day over the heat.

The run was solid. In trying to get my pace back to about 7:45 for a long run I was setting out too fast and then dying half way though so I decided today for the interest of a good run and for my knee to set out at a nice easy jog and see how it goes.....and it worked. After my usual three mile warm-up/barrier I was able to get in the zone and just run it out.

I ran with one powergel and one water bottle of Gatorade Endurance. I stopped at mile six to pee, drink and pound the gel. From there, I just kept cranking and enjoying the run with no problems. The last mile was a little tough, but I guess not so tough I couldn't get my fastest mile of the entire 12.

I ended up with 12 miles at 1:40:55 for an average pace of 8:24. Here are my mile splits: 8:35, 8:29, 8:31, 8:18, 8:17, 8:16, 8:35, 8:31, 8:25, 8:14, 8:24, 8:13.

I felt solid after the run and wasn't really sore, so that lets me know I'm on point.

With that in the bag, I'm going to take advantage of beautiful sunny weather and hit my last long bike tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


March 16, 2010 -

Well training continues to come along as I rapidly approach race week. Last week in Vegas I managed to get up early the first day for a 60 minute interval bike. The second day I made it down too, but only ended up with 10 minutes on the bike before getting called to a meeting so I added in a couple rounds of push-up and sit-ups and called it good. But that's what you get for waking up in Vegas:)

I took off Thursday to get caught back up at work and then hit a nice 1550 swim/45 min bike brick on Friday. The swim was a speed swim with every other 50 yards all was major tiring. The bike was also at the gym on med and hard intervals. Good workout.

Saturday I headed out for an eight mile run, which outside of a sore knee, went really well. It was the first time I have ran recently where I was finally able to get into the zone. I hit eight miles in 1:04:50 for an average pace of 8:06 per mile. Here are my mile times: 7:50, 8:05, 8:04, 8:38, 8:03, 7:54, 7:42, 8:28. (Can you tell, which two miles were all uphill?)

I would like to say I took Sunday off, but after helping a friend move (probably the heaviest stuff I have ever lifted) followed by an all day kitchen remodel/painting project...I was pooped.

Started fresh on Monday with a beautiful day in Kirkland...68 degrees and sunny! I hit a bike/run brick. The bike was a 26 mile ride around Lake Sammamish at a 19.8 mph average followed by a five mile run, where I slowed down a little as the knee was feeling a little bothered. Probably averaged 8:30 pace? All in all....great brick.

Today I decided to really ramp up in the pool for a two-mile swim. The last time I went that distance was Ironman CDA last June! That's right, I'm back to two miles in the pool. That's 3500 yards, 70 laps, 140 lengths. I cranked out a 500 warm-up followed by 3 x 1000. The warm-up was a no brainer, but the first 1,000 was a struggle and a bit of a mental battle thinking about how much was left to swim. After that though, the last 2000 yards went great. I found my groove and cranked it out.

I have to say that as soon as I was done....I was starving!!! I've been finally getting back into that mode where food intake is a critical part of training. After that swim, I ate everything in sight and I'm sure I will sleep well tonight.

As for the rest of the week I would like to get in one more long run (12 miles) and one more long bike (50 miles). From there I will taper next week maintaining swimming and short bike's and runs. I'll take Thursday off and then probably do 10 minutes in each sport on Friday....then....race Saturday!!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Still On My Grind

March 9, 2010 -

Since last week, I piled on a few more great days of training further launching me toward my half-Ironman race, which is rapidly approaching on March 27. On Friday, prior to making the trek with the family over to northern Idaho, I cranked out a 60 minute bike / 30 minute run brick.

I did medium and medium-hard intervals for an hour on the stationary bike before moving to the dreadmill for a 30 minute run. This was more like a nice easy jog after killing that six miles last Wednesday at a 7:36 pace.

On Saturday I had the chance to get out on the Bill Chipman Palouse trail in Moscow Idaho. This trail connects Moscow (University of Idaho Vandals…alma matter) to Washington State University (Cougars). I love getting out on this trail when we go back to visit because it is where I trained for my first ever marathon….the Chicago marathon…about 11 years ago.

It was a gorgeous day at 44 degrees and sunny clear blue skies. I went for 90 minutes and ended up hitting 11 miles at an 8:27 pace. This was the longest run I have tackled probably since August and it proved to test my limits. I finished fine but definitely struggled with the mental battle as I fumbled the entire time to get into a zone, which eluded me.

I found myself making the run dreadful by constantly checking my time and miles, which if you run, you know makes it miserable. The good thing is that I did finish at a reasonable time and didn’t experience any soreness the next day. Also, the knee, although sore and achy is holding up strong….good to go….woop woop.

Yesterday I was to fly to Vegas for work and knew that I needed to get in a good workout or all might be lost. These training days being so important as I’m coming from behind on a race that is rapidly approaching made me opt to make the smart decision….I pushed my flight back a few hours and hit the gym.

This was a great call. I got up, had a great breakfast, kissed the fam goodbye and went to Golds. I cranked out a 1400 swim and a 90 minute bike brick. The swim was a 250 warm-up, a 10 x 100 EBEH (easy, build, easy, hard), and a 150 cool down. It was a great swim and felt good to get back to those 10 all-out lengths.

Immediately following, I moved to the stationary bike for 90 minutes of interval training at a medium and medium-hard interval. I imagine that the resistance I choose is harder than the actual output than on my bike so I consider it as good as if I was able to get out on my bike.

I’m in Vegas now and hope to get two short days of training in so I can stay on par with my goals….we’ll see….stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If You Could Know

March 8, 2010 -

If you could know you can do an Ironman…would you? If you decided you could and tried…would you keep going? When the training sucks and gets hard and you doubt if you can do it…can you push through? When you finish your half-Ironman training race and think there is no way you can double that in time for the big day…will you still keep going? When the biggest training day you have ever had is seven or eight hours and you plan your Ironman to take 12 to 14 hours…do you have the confidence to tackle it anyway?

The answer is yes! Ironman is not given away. The misconception is that this race is one of physical challenge when the real battle is that of mental dominance. I think how you really earn an Ironman is not by completing the physical challenge of that day…but by controlling your mind and learning to dominate the mental challenge of the entire six months of training leading up to your day.

I was inspired to write this blog by a conversation with my dad who is training for the St. George IM on May 1. This should prove to be one of the more challenging Ironman races as the mountain/hilly bike course is already gaining notoriety around the Ironman community for being one of the most challenging…and no one have even raced it yet.

He is going through the natural progression of first time Ironman self-doubt based on the daily challenges you face in training for an event like this. Stuff that I went through when I was training for my first Ironman. What I realize now is that the training gets you to where you need to be to finish this race. That is what it’s designed for…and if you can stick with your daily gauntlet of training, nutrition and dedication…you will finish Ironman.

But the mental battle…that’s all you. That part isn’t written into the training plan or taught or coached. Beating the mental battles that challenge you each day is the part of the accomplishment that you control and you have to own. Defeating these challenges on a daily basis all the way up until you finish your Ironman is what makes you an Ironman….and this will forever change the way you view and tackle obstacles and challenges for the rest of your life after you cross that finish line.

Go Dad.