Saturday, December 17, 2011

This year in review

Hey all,

So I have been reflecting on this year as a whole. Obviously it was the best year ever as I got married, went to Scotland, Hawaii, got a real job, and won a Ironman. All of which meant a lot to me. But there is much more to a year than several highlights... You are made of all the days no one sees, sweat, and looking into the mirror often. So here is a look into the mirror.

What went right?

- Every race went reasonably well with no overall disasters other than a sunburn at kona that derailed hopes of a fast marathon. Some were better than others but the consistency was really solid.
- I went into the grave during several races including salvaging what could have been a shameful performance at Kona. I went deeper than I thought was possible and that made me really proud.
- I won an Ironman. That was an incredibly gratifying way to end a good season.
- My running improved significantly and, with the help of Jill, I figured out how to properly put intensity back into the training without putting myself into a big hole.
- It was fun the entire year and I didn't burn out at the end.
- I was consistent all year, didn't get injured, and rarely went 72 hours between training sessions of each sport. Consistency is king in triathlon and I put together a great year in that regard.

What went wrong?
-I lost the ability to maturely exercise and became one of those meat-head idiots who goes out and tries to compete whenever people are around. This really impacted my pacing in races. I was less in tune with what I should be doing in races and more interested in competition. Good and bad but mostly bad, especially in longer stuff.
-Overall, I was a little bit sloppy in my preparation for races and careless with nutrition. If you aren't disciplined about nutrition in training, you can expect issues when you are racing and that's what happened. Twice.
- I strayed from steady long TT efforts on the bike which detached me from understanding my pace on the bike.
- Again, I was fairly unfocused in the water and probably should have done more group swimming... but I just hate it so much

Overall the best year of my life in triathlon (and outside) with loads of room to get better.

In other cool news: I listen to this triathlon podcast called IM talk. I am a huge follower of it and listen almost every week. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that they had given me a shout out for the HITS win. Check it out below... It's pretty funny and made me really happy.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lookin for fun and feelin' groovy

Hey all,

I'm a week removed from my last race. I have been content in not talking or thinking about triathlon, which is a huge rarity for me. This last race allowed for a level of closure that I haven't experienced before. I am not over analyzing every detail and don't feel that overwhelming annoyance at small mistakes made during the race.... although I am aware of all of them.... EVERY one. I am not obsessing over them, which is definitely abnormal.

It was truly a race with no pressure.

Despite not thinking about triathlon, I have been thinking about the finish line a lot because it was a huge relief. HITS put out a video of my finish line "experience". They edited out a lot of stuff, for which I am grateful. In the future, I'll have to act like I've been there before. Clearly I havn't. Embarrassing.

Enjoy.







Monday, December 5, 2011

Duh, Winning.

My first Ironman win!!!

Wow… the headline sounds cooler than it is, but it’s still pretty cool. Wonders of shock journalism.


First off, the disclaimer: it was a tiny race so it's really not that big of a deal, except to me. I was pretty jazzed because I don't win very often and this was a full Ironman!


Caitlin and I talked about winning the race the day before and I was having visions of snapping the tape before I had even started. How ‘bout I Tarantino it and start at the end?


The sun was slowly going down as I hit the turn into the final 200 meters. The race staff, volunteers, and crowd were all lining the finishing chute and screaming. I was jumping out of my skin. Arms spread wide, I airplaned down the final meters, high fiving everyone, and laughing my ass off. Holding the finish line tape above my head was incredible. They had multiple cameras trained on me and I went nuts grabbing the camera and shoving my face in it, spitting everywhere. After the celebration they gave me a slick trophy and the race director interviewed me. It felt pretty nice. I love winning.


FADE OUT!


7 am the whistle sounded and we were off. The water was colder than an abandoned piece of salmon at the bottom of your freezer. I was swimming well and came around the first loop in third feeling relaxed. The second half of the swim was tough as my arms were going a bit numb and felt sort of floppy. Michigan blood served me well and I sucked it up. I managed to stick with the group and I exited the water to see my buddies Christina and Larry. Larry won the Olympic distance race the day before, so we were hoping I could handle business and complete the double for us. Caitlin yelled that I was out in 51:50! 51:50???! Come on. Talk about short. I swam well, but I’m not Michael Phelps.


Off onto the bike and feeling good.


Ballin


The wind was calm and I was focused on getting the first loop done as fast as possible to avoid as much of the wind as I could. As a result, I overbiked a bit and set off on the second loop feeling a little drained. The roads were shit shakers to say the least and each pothole was very leg draining. The wind had picked up and my speed had dropped considerably. Very annoying, however at mile 80 I got to survey the damage and found out I had laid waste to the field. I was clear of second by at least 35 minutes.


It doesn't even look like I'm at a race does it?

I rolled into transition feeling rotten and annoyed that I had to run. I waddled out of transition and up the first and only hill on the course. I settled into my rhythm. I needed to get food on board as soon as possible. Being an inaugural ironman, the aid stations lacked some of the luxuries and volunteer support that the larger races enjoy. Weird gels and incredibly high fiber bars are not a good recipe for long distance racing but not having coke felt like sticking a needle in my eye. That stuff may not be for everyone, but it's my lifeblood. Hollatcha boy, Coke. I took what I could and was ticking off miles at a pretty low heart rate.


Mile 8-14 were a debacle. My gut had completely revolted and the chicken broth and syrupy goop were acting as Che Guevara. I will spare you the details outside of the fact that I got very acquainted with the various port-a-potties along the way. At mile 14, I lectured a volunteer about getting coke the next time they do a race... within a half mile, a race staffer poured me three cups out of the back of his SUV. He then proceeded to stock multiple aid stations that I would lean on like a delicious highly caffeinated crutch. I came around after the coke kicked in and started feeling lucid again.


I finally saw second place. I was at mile 17 and he was at mile 11 and seemed like he was in a tough spot. The next guy was another 2 miles back, but running quite well. I had them covered as long as I kept moving. I kept thinking, “Don’t waste Caitlin’s time. She’s been out here running around for you for hours. Just win and then you can go home and sleep. Don't lose after you've been leading for 8 hours.”


I knew the course was a touch long as I was doing the mental math. Dammit. When you're racing an ironman, the last thing you want to do is run extra. Time doesn’t matter anymore, just win and run fast. I covered the last 12 miles at slightly above 7:30 pace and rolled into the last half mile as the sun was setting. The finish line was better than I could have imagined. After snapping the tape, I looked over at Cait who was grinning like a goblin. It could not have played out better if I had written it.


Caitlin was a COMPLETE LEGEND and saw me at least 50 times on the course. No joke. She got me through some really dark spots. Cliche, but seriously I could not have done it without her.


Great end to a great year. Thanks to everyone who supported me through the year, thanks to evotri, the great sponsors who keep us moving, my friends and family, and Caitlin who is the absolute best.


I love you guys.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In the beginning

One of my friends asked me how I got into triathlon and it got me thinking. So here it is...

I was a late bloomer of the latest degree. In fact, at 26 I am just now figuring out exactly how to shave and I get carded like I'm Justin Bieber begging for margaritas at an Applebees. My golden years of athletics were elementary school. But damn, they were good. I was dominant at soccer, the mile run, and just about everything you could imagine... I was like the Michael Jordan of North Creek Elementary. But it couldn't last. The testosterone of an 8 year old can't compete in modern high schools and I was left in the dust. But I simply couldn't let sports go. I bounced around from tennis, to golf, to soccer, searching for dominance but the well had run dry. I was pissed and turned to candy as my escape from my sporting woes. I ate more candy than you could possibly imagine. I regularly scarred my taste buds with the strongest candies. Altoids and warheads were consumed by the gross. 20 dollars worth of candy in one sitting was a Saturday morning routine. Turns out I have an addictive personality. Chubbiness soon followed. Meanwhile, my little sister was completely ruining the state at cross country. She was a scrawny little baby and was making everyone look stupid at these races. She was also getting faster than me...
As any prideful big brother would do, I took up running. I ran in the dark because I was completely ashamed of both my blubber and my waddling speed. Seriously. I kept running at night and soon I was enjoying it. I ran for two years and still sucked at soccer, but I was starting to do ok at the practices where we ran.
I decided to forget about soccer and see if my sister's mojo would rub off on me. I joined to cross team. I got so excited and I was running pretty well in the summer. I put in a huge running summer for me and totaled 500 miles in something like 2.5 months which was astronomical compared with my usual running.
I ran well in one meet and then overtrained myself and was completely mediocre. But I had gotten just slightly faster than my sister and I had found something that I liked.
Then came the fateful day. My friend Jessie and I were sitting at her computer talking about Michigan State and surfing around on the internet. She found this thing called triathlon and taunted me saying, "I bet you can't do this". Bullshit. I would at least try.
I figured it would at least be a good way of meeting people and so I went to the first practice of the MSU triathlon club. It was then that I discovered I could ride a bike pretty well and I hit puberty. The perfect storm. I had found my sport.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Day

Caitlin ran her first half marathon and here's the tale!

She has been training for around 4 months for this and pushing her mileage up slowly to the point where the next logical long run would be 13.1 miles. On Friday, we headed up to Santa Barbara to register and crash at a hotel. We got her checked in and ready to go. I saw a bucket of sample lara bars and took roughly 50 of them for later indulgence. Then we headed to get a massive meal of barbecue turkey and brisket. Food coma ensued which made our musty motel 6 room much more appealing.
Race day came and it was clear, comfortable, but windy as hell. No worries. We headed to the start and Cait prepped her Ipod with Dave Ramsey podcasts of all things...

Who the hell listens to financial podcasts as motivation in a race?
THIS GIRL!
The race blasted off and Cait got rolling. She was super nervous so the plan was to cruise through mile four imagining it was a training run. I was biking on my Quintana Roo which would help me play sag wagon/ race support for the day. I saw her at the mile and she was comfortable and smiley. Good sign. I took off to catch her at another point and promptly got lost. My race issued fisher price map was of absolutely no help as it just showed toilet icons and water icons instead of useful things like street intersections. Dumb.
I found an overpass around mile three and waited but she didn't pass by. I missed her so hopped on the bike path and missed her again at another point. The marathon and half marathon had merged so it was impossible to gauge the pace of the runners. 6-8 thousand people or whatever made it like a horrible game of where's waldo. I took off again and rode on the course ignoring chastising comments from race officials and police officers alike. Just as I saw the lead men for the marathon hauling ass up a hill, I found Caitlin. She was at mile 6 and blasting financial podcasts. It was hard to get her attention but she looked good, relaxed, and still smiling which was a good sign.

I biked with her for a bit and then she got annoyed with my hovering and sent me up the road. I proceeded to become a human mile marker and cheer for about a mile's worth of runners while waiting for Cait. The course was tough with wind and some massive uphills, but there was live music on the side of the road at around 5 different spots which was distracting and pretty cool.

Cait was clipping off the miles and I saw her at mile 10 which was the toughest part of the course. It was a half mile long climb at about 8-10% gradient. If that doesn't mean anything to you, just imagine something you don't want to run up. Cait and I had talked about this point in the course as basically the end as it was all downhill from that point. She tore into the hill just chewing it up and staying relaxed. She really made it look easy while all around her, people were crumbling.
Good illustration of pink lady running with marshmallow form and Cait looking like Craig Alexander. Mercenary.

She crested it and rolled down the huge slope to the finish line and even had enough to out kick a college age guy with 200m to go. It was hilarious. Cait actually has ridiculous footspeed to the point where when she is kicking it pushes me to stay with her. I have seen her finish a run at 5:20 pace up hill! She unleashed her patented kick and this guy foolishly tried to counter. He was shown a clean pair of pink nike heels as Caitlin finished her first half marathon in a time 6 minutes faster than expected! Awesome.

She also earned one of the largest blood blisters in history for her efforts. Look away if you are a cry baby and the human body makes you tremble with fear like a coward.
BOOM goes the dynamite

Friday, November 4, 2011

American verification

So my last update included a 400's workout in which I, in theory, ran much faster than ever before. Suspiciously faster. Usually my absolute fastest 400's are around 69 seconds. In that workout, I hit 63 seconds for a 400. I felt great but 6 seconds doesn't just come off like that so naturally my first thought was to blame the track for being inaccurate. It was a dirt track with no lanes so I thought maybe it wasn't quite up to snuff.
Naturally, I couldn't leave it alone so I promptly set off to confirm the accuracy at a trustworthy American track. I had some 1 minute fartleks scheduled so I changed the route to end at a track and had some of the intervals changed to 400's just to check. I hit 66, 66, 65, 63! I was wrong to doubt the Finnish track. It was bigoted of me to think that 400m is somehow less in Finland and for that I am deeply sorry... but I had to be sure.
I am so pumped with that speed. Cutting 6 seconds in a 400 over one season really is getting me geeked.
And with that, I am definitely in for the Ironman in December!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Misc.

Hey all,

I am currently in Finland. The trip over was a brutal 20+ hours of travel. I despise flying mainly for the desert-like lack of humidity. I hate drinking constantly and staying thirsty. Obviously the problem is exacerbated if the trip is interminably long. But, I did get a chance to read which I never seem to make time for when I am staying in one spot and have endless amounts of free time.


I am nearly finished with Iron War, the new book chronicling the 1989 Ironman World Championships. It is one of the best races of all time, with Dave Scott and Mark Allen slugging it out with the decisive move happening at mile 24. It is literally insane to watch/ hear about. The book is definitely not a disappointment as the subject is too good to ruin. It’s sort of like baking…generally if the food has enough fat and sugar in it, it will taste good. It’s hard to mess it up.


The writing is not exactly spot on but the angles the author takes on mental toughness, perception of fatigue, and the background of Mark and Dave are pretty interesting. I love Dave Scott. He has the biggest balls in history and, in defeat, you see truly how deep he can take it. He ties up completely like a 400m runner down the stretch in the last 2 miles and his form breaks down. Any other athlete would slow down, but he forces his body to accelerate despite a complete systems failure. He is so tough he literally can will his body to do things he shouldn’t be able to do. In the end he loses but in the most bad ass way in history. I like to watch people who race like animals and don’t cave mentally no matter what.


The race in my opinion is bittersweet as I don’t think it is indisputable that Mark Allen was the strongest on the day. I think he raced a tactically perfect race and did what he needed to do to win as he shadowed Dave Scott. But the bottom line is Dave Scott dictated and did the all the work until mile 24 in the marathon. Mark Allen drafted his way to the win but Dave Scott raced arrogantly and that’s what happens. Either way, both of those guys are hard as hell.


Back to real life, I am looking forward to exercise in Finland as it is just like Michigan. Fall is my sweet spot for training. I ran last night at 8pm and again today at 4:30 am and I am starting to feel excellent. There is a pool 5 minutes away from my hotel so I swam after work. I got done, took a nap (damned jetlag) and went for another run. I found a track midway through and decided to cruise an aerobic mile. To my shock, I finished it in 6:12 and felt SO easy. I decided to open it up and run some 400's. I came around feeling super easy and looked down to see a 71 on my watch. Whoa. That was stupid easy so I shifted gears. The next one was 65, then another, then another. I couldn't believe it. I was ticking off 65 second 400's like it was nothing and then I finished with a 63. I felt like I was on fire. I am actually a bit suspicious that the track was off... I don't know why but I am just going to have to verify that workout on a good old-fashioned American track. I don't know what the meter to meter exchange rate is in Europe. Eh, just means another speed day.


After today, things are looking good for the December Ironman. Still up in the air, but I should be able to decide by the weekend which is hyping me up so much.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kona: Aftermath

‎"In truth, the pleasure comes less from the suffering but from the knowledge that we overcame the impulse to relent."

No idea where that quote came from. I snaked it from my buddy Ken. It is excellent and I think it sums up how I feel about Kona. However, I take no pleasure in my performance athletically. The bottom line is that it was a death march that was about damage control and not speed.

In the weeks that followed, I chewed over this and, honestly, I am bitter about it. I feel like I wasted some good run fitness on an Oprah speed marathon.

So...

I am thinking I may go after another Ironman before I take a year long hiatus. The HITS triathlon series is putting one on in December basically in my backyard. The roads are licorice and I like the area. I may just get one more bang out of my fitness buck before the year is out and take a crack at running a fast marathon.

I know I am a stubborn mule. I don't care.

The decision is still to be made. I am off to Finland on Saturday and I will probably make the call when I am traveling depending on how I feel. It's also my birthday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kona part III: conclusion

To be honest, at the point we left off, finishing was a huge question mark. I started running and the wind and cloud cover allowed me to move again. I couldn’t believe it! I was running again and feeling ok. Not much to say about mile 13-22 except that I kept the recipe the same. Minimize time losses and keep temp down. I was running much faster though. I kept looking up, preparing mentally for the energy lab. This is theoretically a soul sucking stretch of the course that takes you through a solar energy field in the middle of the lava fields. What a heinous place to run. However, I found that the energy lab is way over hyped compared to Ali’i. I will take 4 miles of heat vs. 10 miles any day. I blasted through it. I saw Matt after the energy lab, hugged him and said, “I love you buddy, get through this and we don’t have to do this shit anymore for a long time.” He was in full-on stagger/death mode but he had come too far and the fastest way back to town was to run. People who know Matt know he can take it deeper than just about anyone. He nearly killed himself doing three lengths of a pool underwater… he chose to black out rather than to come up short and not get to the wall and he nearly died. Ridiculous, I know, but it is a story for another day.

I looked at my watch at mile 22 and it seemed possible to get under 10 but I would have to book it. I was still stopping at each aid station but running 7:15- 7:30 pace between them which was way closer to my projected pace. I was officially off death’s doors. However, the renewed quest for sub 10 put me back on the doorstep very quickly. I hit mile 24 completely smashed as I headed up the final hill. On my limit, I tumbled down Palani and nearly fell over. I was completely ragged as I headed towards the pier. Words can’t describe how out of control I was during the last 2 miles. I threw up bile 6 or 7 times and ran into a side railing as I staggered into the finish. My buddy from MSU, Greg Boyd shouted that I had two minutes to go sub 10 and I found a small pathetic burst but it was something. My vision kind of blurred and I lost focus on everything aside from the clock, blinking in the distance. I hit the finish chute and saw 9:59:55 ticking and was too far out. Damn it. I eased up the final 10 yards and crossed at 10:00:09. I swayed and collapsed into the volunteers. They tried to put one of those stupid flower necklaces on me and cover me in thick towel. I refused both. I was completely fried. I did not need a thick towel and flowers are just pretty trash in my opinion. The volunteers dumped ice water over my head as my vision flickered in and out. I was carried into the med tent and hooked up to an IV. My family (Caitlin, Rachel, Dad, and Mom) wasn't allowed into the med tent to see me but sent a note saying they were proud of me and loved me. I teared up as I spilled hot chicken broth on my chest. I sat up and hobbled out of the tent to see my family. They are the best.

I felt much better for the next hour and saw Lauren, Kiplinger, Boyd, and the Inch clan. They all came in for the race and were ridiculously awesome super fans. Boyd, Kiplinger, and Lauren even made tricenter at the Hawi turnaround!

Things started to go south after that. I wandered into the transition to collect my things and headed back out...it must have been 5 minutes total. In that 5 minutes, I went from chipper back to black out mode. I was using my bike as a walker when my Mom saw me. She and Eric carried me back to the car. I was having trouble keeping my eyes open again as I was ushered into a bed. I was third-spacing electrolytes and swelling like a pufferfish. This made it tough to poke a vein but we finally got an IV started. One liter later and I was still in and out. We popped in another and I drank a couple sips of tea and broth. Finally after another liter, I was back in business... It was a long day.

After a couple days of thinking about the race, my overall thought is that I made good decisions the whole day and I don’t think I made any glaring mistakes. The pacing was dead on, the nutrition was too, and when I went into system failure mode, I did what it took to minimize my losses. Like I said, the one thing I would change is wearing a long sleeve shirt like Thunderbear. I think this may have saved some problems on Ali’i but hindsight is annoyingly accurate or however the saying goes. I wore sunscreen and was ready for the heat but the sun was something I hadn’t fully comprehended. Overall a 10 hr Kona on the first go around is pretty satisfying, especially considering it easily could have been an 11 if I had allowed it. I am not buying into the ‘oh woe is me’ perception that this is an impossibly difficult course with a mind of its own. It is a problem and all problems have solutions. I was very close to nailing it and I will next time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kona part II: the gates of mordor

After getting a bad split down to Matt at the halfway point of the ride (see part one), it was a good time to get aggressive as the downhill back from Hawi was a bit sketchy due to the crosswinds. I figured this would make him slightly cautious. That part of the course rewards risk and I decided it was the time to take it as it wouldn’t really require much effort just some nerve. I bombed down and as we turned back to the Queen K, I was only a minute down! I had pulled back 2 minutes in around 15 miles and I was happy again as we started the tough section back into town. The headwind was constant on the way back and I put the pressure on as the 1st half heroes dropped like flies. Matt came back to me around mile 85 and was looking ragged. I figured he was in trouble and was a victim of the 1st half pace. I took off hoping to drop not just him, but his pack. If one person stays in contact, chances are the whole group will, which means he would get a free ride back into town. No chance. I hit the gas and looked back 10 minutes later to see a big gap.

I rolled into transition clocking in at 5:03, which was dead on my projected split.

The bike course was ready to get smashed as was proven by the pros. It was mild and the roads are like licorice. It actually is a relatively easy course outside of two factors that everyone knows: the wind and the sun. The wind wasn’t too bad on our day, which was unbelievably fortunate. The heat isn’t noticeable but the sun is an absolute killer and the exposure derailed my race. Literally the only thing in the entire race I would change if I could go back is to wear a long sleeve shirt on the ride. I nailed nutrition, nailed pacing, nailed power spikes, but did not realize sunscreen wouldn’t be enough for me.

I moved off the bike feeling fresh in the legs but rotten in general. I couldn’t figure it out. The pace out onto the run was slower than normal but I still ticked off a 7:30 first mile. The second mile was completely torpedoed and I staggered to a stop. I was like a beater car, dying on the side of the road. I saw my Dad and said, “I am completely fried. I'm overcooked.” He said it would come around, but I was convinced it was over. It was the first time in a race where I nearly pulled the plug. I had concrete thoughts of the dreaded letters DNF. For those of you not of the triathlete persuasion, this is the abbreviation for “did not finish” and is a source of incredible shame for us. I prayed again for anything.

My core temp was through the roof and Ali’i drive was well into the 90’s, with no moving air, and completely exposed to the sun. I had visions of Norman Stadler, a former world champion, pathetically hiding under a telephone pole for shade and kept thinking, “you are Norman now, you idiot.” I walked a half-mile to an aid station and drenched myself in ice water, put ice down the shorts, ice on the palms, took water, took coke, and had a gu. Anything. Desperation move. I started running again thinking, “What the hell. I’ll be in the med tent anyway, can’t hurt to give it another go.” I was moving, albeit slowly and getting to the next aid station was the only focus so I could lower my core temp again. The ice on the palms was starting to kick in and my pace was starting to slowly come back to me. I was still moving gingerly as coming back from the grave is not something you can rush. Every aid station was the same. Four cups of ice, 3 to the groin, and 1 for the palms. I was moving again! The heat had really poisoned the system and my gut had shut down. I was in the john for the first time in a race. Still moving though. That’s all that mattered.

After the pit stop, I saw Matt and yelled for him to bridge up to me so we could get through the day together but he was a mile or so back and looking as bad as I was. No dice.

I hit mile 8 and was nearly off Ali’I drive. I looked to the sky hoping the clouds would roll in. I prayed again and turned up Palani drive at mile 10 to see dark skies. My family and friends were on the side of the road, screaming, as I was unconscious on my feet but still moving. I started walking up the massive hill on Palani and talking to my sister. I had this in my head from the moment I saw Palani. Walking is the only thing that would make sense. Spiking your heart rate in a race like this is a death sentence and anything faster than walking would spike mine. In my damage control mode, I was particularly keen on this plan. Walking sounded excellent. I told Rachel that the walking was an investment in the back half of my race. I wasn't sure if that was true. It sounded smart but it hinged on whether I could get my head on straight and run.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ironman World Championships

The day started out great. I woke up super easily as 4 am felt like 7 am to me. In that respect racing in Hawaii is great… not so much in a variety of other respects. Matt and I made our way to the pier and ticked all the routine transition items. I racked the QROO and headed over to the swim start.

We also made it into the slowtwitch gallery which was pretty cool…

For the first time in about 3-4 years, I was actually nervous for a race. It wasn’t uncontrolled nerves, but I was itching to get the race going. The wind looked super calm when we walked into the water. As we waited for the cannon, I took it all in while doing some floaty backstroke. It was unreal. The crowds were enormous. Cameras everywhere. Mike Reily blathering about God knows what. Needless to say, the energy of the racers was off the charts.

I lined up on the inside as I was trying to read the surf a bit. Turns out everyone else read it the same way and I quickly realized I had made the first positioning mistake of my Ironman career. The gun went off and I was completely molested throughout the first kilometer of the swim. Shockingly, I was intentionally dunked by a highly aggressive and unstable woman! Some guy took a swing at me for hitting him in the legs… I finally realized what people were whining about in Ironman swims. I usually get clean water but when you are around people, they lose their ever-loving minds. No matter, as it strings out eventually. I just tried to stay calm and patient.

The swim was a long out and back and I rounded the boat that marked the halfway point feeling comfortable. I was swimming well and feeling pretty relaxed. I started to get a bit weak and tight in the lower back towards the end of the swim as my core started giving out a bit but no worries and I hit the pier clocking in at 59 minutes. Just a tick under an hour. I was in and out of transition super quick and excited to start the meat of the day.

Overall the swim was sort of choppy. You can generally tell if you are swimming well or not and I was, so I was satisfied. Triathlon isn’t done on a track or in a pool so time is a tough gauge, even year to year, which makes things frustrating to track and measure performance but also makes the sport not stupid and boring. I digress.

The first part of the bike felt very poor. The power was not coming very easily and my heart rate was quite high. It happens sometimes to me in Ironman so it didn’t freak me out and I just rode without thinking. I saw Matt only 2 minutes up the road and got a bit of a boost as I thought I would roll him up pretty quick. Wrong.

I got out onto the Queen K highway and the wind was completely dead! I was praying it would stay that way as I started hitting my stride. I tried to stay in my zone as people just blasted through me. I couldn’t believe it… through 40 miles I was averaging 24.2mph and I was getting dropped by pack after pack. Welcome to the world championships. I was figuring not everyone passing me was going to ride a 4:40 bike split so I just kept things under control and waited until the nastiness would start as it inevitably does in every Ironman.

The climb up to Hawi was really rough for me. The trademark head and cross winds were there but definitely milder than usual, but I just was struggling with the power at that moment in the race. I hit the halfway point and had lost time to Matt for the first time since I started riding a bike back in first grade. I was now 3 minutes down and furious. What to do?

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to our hero's incredible journey to the gates of Mordor and back.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

KONA

Hey all,

So this is my third day in Kona. It is crazy. The energy here is something unlike any triathlon I have ever seen. It is the superbowl. Quite frankly, it feels like being on a movie set for me. I have watched nearly every year’s race so seeing the Lava Java, the Queen K, Waikaloa rd., Kawuahae, and the climb up to Hawi is surreal.

I have also seen basically all my idols in the sport. Jan Frodeno, Javier Gomez, Macca, Rinny, Julie Dibes, Crowie, Marino, Norman Staddler, Tim Don, Jordan Rapp, Chris Lieto, The Raelerts, Conrad Stoltz, Dan Hugo, Paula Findlay and I am sure I am forgetting some. I am probably more of a fan of this sport than I am a racer quite honestly so I have been basically star struck since I got here. Ironically, it doesn’t happen in Calabasas where Britney Spears, the Kardashians, Ozzie, and Will Smith live. I guess it’s cuz none of them could run a 30 minute 10k. Well…maybe Ozzie in his prime.

Anyway, we swam at Dig me beach yesterday. Great swim out to the floating coffee bar. My stroke is feeling really smooth and I don’t think the non-wetsuit swim will bother me so much. The water is clear and super salty so buoyancy isn’t too much of an issue. After that we went to the Rudy Project booth and got free Aero Helmets!!! Just for racing on Saturday! I couldn’t believe it… the Rudy Wingspan helmet was my choice for the cross winds/ ironman distance due to the ventilation and short tail that is ideal for the side gusts. I couldn’t swing the cost prior to the race but I can definitely swing FREE!

We then headed out to ride up to Hawi. The wind…. Wow. I have never felt anything like it. Truly out of control. I have never felt so unsafe on a bike. Riding into it is scary as it is so unpredictable and comes at different speeds and from different angles. Riding with it is terrifying as you pick up speed and experience the same thing. I nearly lost control of my bike at 45 mph… it freaked me out. Pray for a calm day out there, bloggers. Our hero isn’t prepared to pin it in the aero bars and hang it out in 30+ mph gusts… I don’t mind a hard ride but I mind dangerous. Guess I’ll figure it out on Saturday.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New me...it's bananas.

Hey bloggers,

I missed all your smiling virtual faces. I guess you deserve an apology for my lack of blogging consistency. You aren't going to get one. I dropped off the blogging grid due to large training and better things to do. I know that is hard to fathom.

What I can do is give you a quick update before I head to Hawaii for the Ironman World Championship. I have obviously been training a good deal to get ready for a full day of frolicking around in the lava fields. The training has been going immaculately. No sickness, no injury (more or less), just consistent work.

I am flying in my test workouts and I think I could absolutely annihilate the Ironman Florida course. I am demolishing the times I put up last year in my test sets. Bigger watts, faster running, same heart rate. Sadly this is not the same course and I have no real understanding of how the conditions will impact my race. I only know that they will. Another thing I know is that I am the fittest I have been in my life and that is the best I can do. I am putting out watts so easily it's stupid. I would list the stats but you would think I was lying. I am actually running well too which makes no sense to my small brain. I am literally trying to slow myself down and I can't...It would have been suicide pace last year. My swimming is coming around to the point where I am not terrified of a non-wetsuit swim which I didn't expect. Perfect storm... now I just have to rest and not get sick. I can't believe the race is almost here.

Just to put this on the record, Jill Savege is the best coach in the world. I have been her worker bee and I am suddenly tearing my own legs off without even thinking about it. It's insane how well she has this dialed in. If this race goes poorly, it will be on me.

I fly out on Monday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quintana Roo and Lake Stevens Half Ironman

HUGE NEWS: Team Evotri has just partnered with Quintana Roo!

The team will be riding slick new QR bikes and I will be taking mine to the big island for the Ironman World Championships. I am getting fitted on it on Thursday so stay tuned for pictures and maybe videos of the fitting and the new rig. I will be racing it this weekend. No better way to break it in than a race.
I am stoked because they make the slickest tri bikes and aren't confined by the ludicrous UCI so the innovations flow. Thanks QR.

It's been a while, lovely blog trolls. I have been a lazy piglet and I apologize. You are doubtless wondering what I have been doing with my time as you probably assume it has been a magnificent and efficient use of it...Wrong again, bloggers. But I have been doing some things.
For example, I recently traveled up to Seattle to help my MSU buddy, Aaron Scheidies race at Lake Stevens 70.3. He is blind and needs a guide to race. He is also incredibly fast, a world champion, espy nominated, world record holder, and general beast.

He called me up three weeks prior to the race. Prior to that, I had been mainlining bacon and chocolate for a month. I was woefully out of shape when he told me he needed a guide for this race. I reluctantly agreed against my better judgement. The next 3 weeks were a whirlwind of getting into shape which included frequent bonks on the bike and many horrible pseudo-drownings masquerading as swim workouts.

I got to a point where I felt ok about going into the race but still didn't know what to expect. We haphazardly made our way into the water. The para triathletes go off with the female pros so we got clean water and a good pack to swim with. It didn't matter for me. I got worked over in the swim and my poor swim fitness shown ever so brightly. Scheidies sand bagged for me, dropped me, and swam all over the place. Finally, we were both out in 29:46. Damn. Bad start for me.

We jumped on the bike and unleashed the green MSU freight train from hell. We brought death and pain to half of the pro men field. They were pushing tiny teacup gears as we were bringing rolling thunder down on the pacific northwest. For me, the fitness on the bike was WAY better than the swim. 2:23 later, we were onto the run.

The run started out super conservative and we chatted until mile 6. Scheidies got a bunch of goodies from a friend to launch into the crowd. We had several firework poppers that we blasted off. Shirts and sweatbands were unleashed upon his fans. People went nuts like it was like the halftime at a Detroit Shock game. BALLIN. We started on the second loop and kept it super comfortably, slightly edging the intensity up for the last 3 miles. We finished in 1:30 for a total time of 4:27. Overall, probably the most comfortable half iron I have done.

We finished 11th amateur and 25th overall.
Now starting on the next stage of Kona training.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Honeymoon retroactive photo dump

In my haste to communicate the baller-ness of our honeymoon, I neglected to include photos. This was counter productive and led to boring, sub-par blogging. You guys hate reading and I hate myself for subjecting you to my text-only garbage that I pass for writing . Here is my apology...
Raiding trash cans to tie down our bike bags.

Caitlin in nerd pose before unleashing her fury on the battlefield
Caitlin double fisting
This is our paintball instructor. We could barely understand a word he said. All we heard was, "blah blah blah man-kini blah blah." We looked at each other.... Did he just say man-kini? Sure enough he did. Then Caitlin shot him in the head 3x and in the neck once.
Trying to find buildings that look like Hogwarts in Edinburgh is like shooting fish in a Barrell
Scotch World Tour! Where dreams are born...
Epic Loch Lomond.
I told Caitlin to do a superman pose... THIS is what she came up with?? Timidly poking her head out of the phone booth?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

THE TRUTH WITH PICTURES

Finally I can resume honeymoon related tales as I now have photodocumentation to prove that I am not lying about everything as I usually do. Without further ado: THE TRUTH as I see it, with pictures.



We both woke up in Callander in slightly cranky moods and feeling the miles in our legs. We had too much breakfast and started the ride out bloated and irritable. To make matters more annoying, our saddlebags kept flying off. It happened at least 6 times with no end in sight.

We got a bit lost but started to find our rhythm as we arrived at Loch Katrine. Loch Katrine has one ferry to the other side leaving at 10:30… we missed it by 30 minutes but I was pleased as it meant more biking. We stopped at the ferry point and luckily a bike rental place was stationed right there so we filled the tires and got a garbage bag and stole a spare bit of rope to tie around the bags to keep them from flying loose. Also, they had one of those strange old timey bikes with a giant front wheel and a tiny back wheel. I have never tried one and thought it couldn’t hurt to ask. He gave me the thumbs up so I hopped on… Caitlin said I was an idiot but some small child told everyone who would listen that I should be in the circus… to which Caitlin said, “You have no idea, kid”. Check out some pics of me in action.

Superman shot...such a cliche
This one's for the kids
Grabbin life by the horns

Ballin

The sun was now out in full force, we had each had a Snickers bar, and the bags weren’t budging so we were much happier as we skirted Loch Katrine.

It was amazing and we stopped for a bit at a gravesite of the Gregor Clan, which was on a man made peninsula. We rounded the Loch and got hit full force with a head wind and storm clouds moving in. 5 minutes later we stopped to change into rain gear. On cue, we got hammered with some seriously cold rain.

Scots really know how to be dead in style

I promptly steered us in the wrong direction and hammered down a path to nowhere. Caitlin gave the halt command and consulted the map…proving yet again that I am a bit of a meat head when it comes to the bike. I don’t really care where I’m going as long as I am going fast… it resulted in us getting lost very fast multiple times. Props to Caitlin for righting the ship every time. This time was no exception and we were back on track.

We came into the town of Aberfoyle and had some more snacks before we started the tough climbing portion of the route into Drymen. The first pitch was about 12-15% and one of the tougher climbs we have done but it was over pretty quickly. We spent the next 5 miles of rolling terrain discussing whether or not we had done the 2nd and final climb as it was rolling a bit and trending a bit towards climbing. We rounded a bend and the verdict was in: we most certainly were NOT finished climbing. The road pitched up with no end in sight. Usually that isn’t an issue as it wasn’t insanely steep but a long 10% climb on a loaded down tandem was basically a recipe for blowing our legs to shreds. We breathed very hard and I snotted all over my nice bike jersey for the next couple miles and finally hit the top, which marked the start of a nice long descent into Drymen, our stop for the day. We rolled into town very pleased with ourselves and happy to be done with our final big day on the bike.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heat and Bexrunner

Hey all,

I am finally back in California and proper training. I am slowly shedding the added flub from eating a diet of 60% meat, 40% chocolate and feeling pretty sharp on the bike.

As it were, the training is all geared towards the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Obviously, outside of getting fit as hell, heat is the major focus. A lot of people write off hot races by saying "oh, I'm just not good in heat." I was one of them for a very long time, until I came to the realization that that is a cop out. It's a defeatist mentality. Heat is a problem. Generally problems have solutions. So my goal before Kona is to find a solution/ coping mechanism so my brains don't turn into scrambled eggs in the heat.

I became interested in the external cooling method after seeing Torbjorn Sindballe stuff a glove full of ice at each aid station on his way to a 3rd place finish at Kona. He was a huge guy with a history of huge blow ups at Kona but he'd done his homework and maximized his potential in the heat. There was obviously something to that glove.


My first exploration into this conundrum was the Bexrunner. It is basically an ice pack that you strap to your palm. The bexrunner claims to keep your core cooler by increasing the efficiency of your body's cooling mechanism.

It's an interesting little product that I first noticed through Conrad Stoltz, 4x Xterra world champion. He's a large dude and obviously trying to solve the heat issue, so I figured I would see what it was about. Let me start by saying, I am in no way sponsored by bexrunner. I just reached out to them to see if I could test/review their product. The following is my first experience with the gadget.

I took the bexrunner out of the freezer and set out on a long run of an hour and ten minutes with over 2000 vertical feet of climbing. It was a hot day in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains. The air is stagnant and there is no cover from the sun. It really heats up and I ran at noon so it was a bit uncomfortable back in there. Running was like someone aiming a blow drier directly in your face.

My immediate reaction to the Bexrunner was very postive. It was a delayed onset of the usual downpour of sweating. I was much more comfortable in the heat, despite being aware of just how hot it was (95 degrees F). My heart rate stayed lower and I was more lucid than I would normally be in those conditions. The added alertness kept me on the lookout for rattlesnakes as they tend to pop out more often on the scorching days. It did not magically make me faster, but I suspect it prevents the slowing down that occurs in heat, especially for us meatier athletes.

The question was: how long would it last? It is billed to last anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour. It lasted 42 minutes for me before it melted and warmed up. After it had melted, I felt like I started from square one and that my body hadn't taken on any heat. 42 minutes was long enough to have an effect. That still leaves a lot of time to get hot in Kona, but I can see it being a valuable tool in training and racing.

Any suggestions on heat training or other tools aside from the Bexrunner would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flapjacks etc

We woke to a full Scottish breakfast which is really a special thing.

· Porridge with heavy cream and golden syrup

· Thick Bacon (like a combo of our bacon mixed with Canadian bacon)

· Mushrooms (Sautéed in garlic)

· Two stewed tomatoes

· Scrambled Eggs with loads of cream

· Toast

· Strong Coffee

Mushrooms for breakfast sounds a bit odd but it is amazing. I am converted and I think I will be bringing that back with me..

We thought we had an easy day of riding on tap as we were riding 24 miles from Killin to Callander. No rain to start off with but 1 mile in we were in the biggest downpour of the trip on single track with mud splattering everywhere. It was awesome. A mile of dryness was enough to warm us up before the onslaught of cold rain so we were fine. We made our way up a very steep 4-mile climb. It felt like we were going backwards but we finally hit the top.

We were then treated to the most phenomenal road I have ever ridden. This is super dorky but it was like riding through the scene in Harry Potter where they are riding on the Hogwarts Express across a massive arched stone bridge. It was halfway up a mountain overlooking an enormous valley with a river running down the center. A Loch was in the distance with mountains on either side. We were blasting down a dirt road surrounded by mossy stones and lush greenery. It was so green it would have made Hulk jealous. Parts were completely exposed and we could see everything. All I have to say is God is good.

After the best road in the world we hit some hairpin switchbacks…these are tough on roadbikes and hellishly dangerous on a tandem. It was a super technical day, mostly off-road and quite rainy in points. The rain kicked up tons of mud and by the time we rolled into Callander, we looked like two hogs covered in slop. Caitlin was in a good mood and sang ‘tryin to catch me ridin dirty’ for miles which, as you can imagine, was a delight. Also when we would hit bumps or come upon little ramps in the road, she would insist on hitting them at top speed and scream “air, air, air!” Getting a tandem to lift off or catch air is completely reckless so I disregarded her jabbering, which she made quite difficult to do.

Once we arrived in Callander we feasted on steak pies and headed off for ice cream and flapjacks. Flapjacks are basically granola bars with 15 times the butter. They are the most delicious little snacks in the world and I am becoming quite picky about my flapjacks. I hunt for them wherever I go and through experimentation I have found that my flapjacks must meet the following criteria:

· Use margarine over normal butter- margarine provides a chewier and moister consistency and butter’s flavor clashes with the sweetness of the golden syrup

· Golden syrup instead of brown sugar- you American swine wouldn’t understand. You’re probably thinking, “Golden syrup? Is that some special seasonal variant of Aunt Jemimah?? LOL!!!!!” No you idiot and stop laughing out loud. Nothing is funny. Golden syrup is the nectar of Gods and has nothing to do with that brown syrupy bilge water you are trying to pass off as a breakfast staple.

· Rolled oats must be pressed together to achieve super dense status. It better not crumble. My flapjacks MUST be neither dry nor crumbly. If I wanted a bullshit granola bar, I would have got one. Nothing is worse than being duped into thinking you are about to indulge in the world’s tastiest snack only to find yourself with a mouthful of dehydrated bat guano and oats that Quaker calls a snack.