Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Look

Here's a link to my new Blog.
After 4 years, nearly out of memory space here...tired of deleting something every time I write a new post! New look to the coaching service as well. Myself and a few other coaches have combined services. New and far improved coaching web site is in the works, soon to come.

Copy and paste the below link. The pic on my new banner? That's a pic I took from the summit of Mt Sahale in the North Cascades in 2003, looking north toward Glacier Peak. That was an Epic climb!

Good Training!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rice and Eggs

Congrats to Jason Lester, winner of the 2009 ESPY for male disabled athlete of the year! Thanks Jason for having Ann and I down for the ceremony (far better than the televised show) and esp the after party! I'll post the link to your podcast interview as soon as it comes up on the website.

Congrats to Ty Patton, Personal Best HIM last saturday in Racine, WI 4:40 (PR by about 30 minutes...just in time for IM Wisconsin)

Congrats to Jorge Villavincencio PR in the marathon by over 30 minutes last month.

Congrats to Tim Winestorfer, who dominated the M50 AG at Desert Half 2 weeks ago, first position on the podium and securing his ticket to IM Canada in a month.

Congrats to Josh Monda Personal Best at Vineman 70.3 with 4:28 (4:23 on stopwatch but delayed from a tree obstruction in road), and 5th on Podium. I dont take credit for Josh's PR. Josh was coached by a very good, reputable local coach who has helped me during races and is an important figure in the triathlon community here in Portland. However, I encourage athetes to try various methods after a couple of seasons with a coach, even my own athletes whom I've sent to other local coaches...because I want whats best for them. It may not be me...esp. after a couple of seasons. Variety can benefit an athlete over the long run. Knowledge and diversity is power.

Posted on July 15, 2009, "Rice and Eggs"
by lancearmstrong

This is a paste from Lance Armstrongs twitter recently. Lance twittered what he was eating for breakfast on July 15th, during the Tour de France.

For my athletes, that's right....I'm not making this shit up. I've ridden with a few of you and explained what I learned from the World class athlete's I trained with back in the late 80's and early 90's. The "rice and egg whites" explanation I have given my athletes for 3 years now is a recovery formula I learned 20 years ago training in marathon, and training with sub 2:12 athlete's who knew then what worked best. We had no gels, no maltodextrin, no recovery drinks. They used recovery food that they knew helped them recovery as fast as possible. We did consistent 110-125 miles per week back then, including 3 speed workouts and a long run each week. I was not born with the knowledge. I have been coached nearly my entire adult life and have strived to take in and absorb any and all information from everyone who is better than me. Not all of it is sound, but with my education, I have been able to discern what's valid and whats is likely not. I pride myself and my coaching, as teaching what I have learned. Some things I have created by self experimentation, but the vast majority is from combing through years of logs, dissecting out what I've learned, and what I believe works best.

When I get emails and texts on how "dead my legs are" and "I am totally fatigued" please take this into account....there are certain common denominator's amongst competitive athletes. Many athletes that ascend to great heights in sport know how to get there, know the proper intensity, read their bodies quantitatively and not emotionally, and probably most importantly....know how to recover quickly. Trust me, even at the age of 24, I would not be able to handle the volume and intensity without a continuous effort of recovery. So, this is why my first response to those of you who email me regarding the reiteration of recovery. "have you taken recovery drink after each and every workout with intensity?" "have you taken recovery after each and every long ride and long run within 20 minutes?" "are you taking in 75..or 100 grams of protein each day?" "are you focusing on high clean carbs the evening after intensity, and the following morning?" I have emailed or texed each and every one of these comments this year. It's amazing how many, "well..sort of" or "not all the time" or "well..I try but it's hard" and of course "I keep forgetting" responses I receive.

From day 1 as a triathlete in 2004, my first ironman, I utilized my knowledge in marathon racing and recovery to gain an advantage. This is how I put together a 5:15 bike and 3:08 run (1st division and 5th OA run split) in my first ironman at age 38, despite some of the ridicule along the way regarding my "liquid calories" for an entire ironman. Consider this...since 2004, I have not changed my techniques for race day, and have not changed my techniques in recovery. How many athletes are on a constant struggle to find a nutrition strategy, and a constant struggle battling the fatigue of over training without considering what their coach is suggesting...and I'm sorry if your coach is misguided but here's a hint. If your coach cant make the AG podium in an Olympic triathlon, or is over an hour slower than you an an Ironman, has never qualified for Kona and is trying to coach you to Kona...maybe you have the wrong coach. There are methods, common denominators that great athletes use. I am not suggesting I am one of those athletes, but I've become the best I can be given my physiology, and I have painstakingly tried to learn and retain any and all information from those who are far better than me. Those that continue to fall short, those that seem to never improve, dont realize this, and dont care to. Yeah, it's tough love but the truth is, no matter how hard you train, or over train...if you go your own way, and continue to fail, if you waste a coaches time by hiding things from him because even though they're know what's best. If you undermine your own training by "piece-mealing" parts of a program, and inserting your own old training methods than never worked for you in the first place... maybe you should look to in someone who's far faster on race day. Vanity and Mistrust. This describes most athlete's failure and their inability to follow a coach. Believe it or not, the reality is, many of the best athletes in the world, and top amateurs, have a gift. No its not lactate threashold, high Vo2 Max...its simply the ability to follow a coach, and be coached.

On a personal note, I have registered for IMAZ in November. I will run fast there barring some unforeseen incident. I plan on running sub 3:18 off the bike. This goal is not unrealistic for me as I've run sub 3:18 four times in the past 8 IM races. Why bring this up? So, given my race plan is to run under 7:30 pace, I ran my 14 miler today in 8 minute pace, 1:54, which included the only 2 hills at 10 min pace up so as to keep my HR under Z3. So, for those of you who are 10, 20, 30 minutes slower than me...Please stop telling me, "I can't run 8 min pace", or "I cant run 8:30 pace". I did today...yes it is possible. For those of you who didnt achieve your running goal, maybe you ran too fast than your coach suggested, time and time again. I reiterate, its strength at a given pace and distance...not the fastest pace possible and simulating your HIM race on every long run when you're training for an IM. Matt Berg, local short course triathlete, former pro, told me this weekend on our long run that there have been a couple of studies on African elite marathon runners and the benefits of running long. Groups running literally 10 min pace vs those running 6 min pace for 3 hours. Other workouts throughout the week equal. The two groups performed equally in racing, adjusted for previous performance. I told him, I've heard of this study and read it several years ago.
So, think about this next time you are running 90 seconds faster per mile than your IM marathon goal pace in a long run, and cant seem to even run within 2 minutes of your long run pace on race day.

So, those of you who have fanatically eaten my rice and egg formula, and those of you who have done it maybe once...and blown it off because it doesnt "taste great"...think about what Lance was eating the morning of July 25. This stuff I am trying to teach you is no joke. I only coach my best and strive for the best in all my athletes. I am a perfectionist admittedly, but am also a realist. We CAN be the best we can be for who we are. But, this requires tedious attention to detail, constant monitoring of effort, CONSISTENCY when it comes to recovery, workout after after day. Improving an insidious process, and doesnt happen over night..but eventually will happen. Oh yeah, and the ability to simply follow directions when the path is layed out in front of you...this is one of the most important attributes of a quality athlete, and sorry to say not everyone has this inherent ability.
Remember when you are told to something that may sound obscure to you, something that you never learned reading "going long" or should I say...."going too long". The person that taught me such "radical" methods may very well have been 4th overall male at the NYC marathon, or may be a 3 time olympic marathoner, may have had the world record in the marathon, may have been 5th overall at Kona, or have have just run an 8:06 IM last month at age 38. Consider where the source of knowledge may be actually coming from.

Someone suggested I change TriOdyssey Coaching to "PR racing" today. I've had 14 athlete personal bests in 2009. Very happy with that. Most of these athlete fall short of their goal, but have still set Personal Records along the way. So, kudos to all of you and your personal success this season.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lester Nominated for ESPY

Log onto and vote for Jason Lester! Jason has been one of 4 AWAD athletes world wide nominated for and ESPY. Once registered at, simply follow the link to vote.
Jason has been a part of my service for nearly 2 years now, and a 09 member of the ironheads multisport racing team here in Portand. Jason has taken his training and racing to new levels, qualifying for Ironman World Championships 2009 as an outright age grouper. His disability has only resulted in a speed bump in his life, and he has shown he has what it takes to become an accomplished athlete in the sport.

Vote here:


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Racing Paradox

This is a past Blog I wrote 14 months ago. I thought it pertinent again given that there have been several key races in the past few weeks, and not all athletes performed as they should have or could have. In fact, I'd conclude a couple of athletes I know, and dont coach, biked faster times in their long ride the week before their key event then they actually raced. Others I coached were hoping to make huge gains in the IMCdA race, and although PR's were made, not all were happy with their performance. Mistakes are made, inevitable. Try to learn from them and you will find you'll be a better athlete. Doesnt matter if you're a 15 hour IM or a 7 hour HIM athlete...or sub 9 and sub'll improve and that is what it's all about.

I'm tired.
7 weeks and 3 Half Ironman events for me.
Orlando 70.3 (6th M40, 4:28)
Boise 70.3 (1st M40, 4:27)
Pacific Crest Half Ironman (4:36, 2nd amateur, 6th overall, Course PR for me, 1st Master and TriNorthwest master champion 2nd consecutive year)
I wasnt quite recovered after Boise, about 90% but not 100% My only swim going into Pac. Crest was Boise, then 2 weeks out of the water. I thus signed up for the Duathlon figuring it would be an uncomplicated win overall. On my way to the race, I started receiving text's from Matt Lieto and let's just say between numerous text's I came to the conclusion that I needed to accept the challenge and defend my masters title here, and not be afraid of a poor result. Additionally, my close collegues Grant Folske (4:21 Boise) and Bill Thompson (4:42 Boise)also decided to race at Pac Crest. So, with Matt's encouraging words, I changed over at registration. Happy I did because the day was not bad, despite 3500 ft of climbing, 3000 of which is in the first 37 miles, I felt ok. The "90% ready" came into play at about mile 11 when I stopped running 7 min pace. The run here is tough in addition, 4200 ft elevation on a curvy paved bike path with rolling hills and several areas of tree-less exposure in the sun. Regardless, this was the hammer that knocked me out so I'll rest up for the entire week, rest next week, and sharpen up with a local Olympic Tri on the 11th (Tri Northwest Olympic distance championships, defending master champion)
Strong work Bill and Grant at Pac Crest. Grant..1st amateur and 5th overall in the prize money is great, and yeah, you would have been significantly faster without Boise on your back. Bill, good to hear your injury free now, as Pac Crest was the test after running on injury at Boise and you passed. Stay healthy now!

This is something that is difficult for an athlete. It's not necessarily the physical attributes that determine how an athlete will perform on race day. This is self evident in various athletes I have worked out with over the past few seasons. How is it that I can continually get my butt kicked in workouts or pre-season races, yet perform well beyond in my key race?

This is a difficult dilemma for many. This weekend for instance. My first time since December 2nd that I have biked in power zone 4. I have been biking intervals at a Power Zone 3 cap and mostly Zone 2 since I started my IMAZ build in the first week of January. Now its 7 weeks of training left before IMAZ and I am just now doing my first workout of subthreshold power.
My plan this past weekend to bike 3-5 hills on a 45-50 miler, each hill about 5-8 minutes climb, at 50 cadence and Zone 4 power. Hopefully, Zone 3-4 heart rate. I found I had to stand on my pedals every hill after the first because even though I was in Z4 watts, my HR was only in Z2. So, standing allowed me to get up into HR Z3 at 135-40 beats per minute on the subsequent hills.

Why do I bring this up? I heard a comment from another rider, "you must be on a big power day". This made me think. I was actually keeping my power under control on the hills. As well, I never entered into HR Zone 4 on any hill. For me, I was within my parameters, my designated Power Z4 and HR Z3. I could have pushed much harder, at least 50-80 watts and 10-15 heart beats higher, but I controlled myself well. Because I am accelerating, do others think I am pushing all out? Are the others biking with me and closely behind me in zone 3? Are they in Z4? Zone 5?

Running long runs I find the same scenario. When I am trotting along at 7 min pace in HR Zone 2 and running with others, are they in HR Z2? Z3? Z4?

My wife, who put together a 10:15 in 2007 on a hilly course, then a 9:52 on a flat course to follow, runs and bikes far slower than men who run much faster and bike with much more power each week. How can this be possible?

Its all about knowing yourself, and trust. Trust in your own honest feelings on where you are as an athlete, and what your goals are. Trust in your coach if you have one, especially if your coach is far faster than you at the distance he (or she) is coaching. I myself do have to fight with my own feelings each and every week on several workouts. I have to trust in my coach as much as I can, and yes, I know my coach has run 8:30 and 8:15 IM in 2007. Yet, still, at times I question if I am running hard enough, biking hard enough. Yet, I know deep inside what is right. This is why this summer I watched others spin away from me on the bike, and fought my own desires to keep up, and successfully stayed within my zones. I trusted my coach. I trusted that the radical change I made this summer would pay off. If it didnt, so what! I've tried other approaches, and nothing wrong with trying a new approach to training, esp when the person training you runs over an hour faster in an IM.

My point? The primary limiter in performance of amateur athletes is the lack of accepting who they are as athletes at that time, and allowing their insecurities to dominate their workouts (see Z3 syndrome blog, a couple of weeks ago). I mean, come on man...I have biked with women that end up only a few seconds behind me on hills when I am in Z4, yet they are over 2 hours behind me in an Ironman.

Try to abandon your insecurities as an athlete.

This is what it comes down to after you peel off all the layers of excuses on over-training, despite racing well below expectations season after season.

Cycling and running more than what is recommended on a regular basis, both mileage and intensity. Running a full minute faster than your realistic goal pace for you IM marathon on a long run. Cycling in Z5 power/HR three months out from your key event. Adding to your workouts and feeding your insecurities, then needing rest periods that result in missing upcoming key workouts will most likely result in failure on key race day. Over-racing prior to your key event in unnecessary events to feed your insecurites will most likely lead to failure in your key race.

The insecurities we face as athletes, the lack of trust in our own training and our coach's advice contributes to the mediocre performances and under-achieving in our key races. If you repeatedly train on the same methodology season after season, yet fail to improve, you can trust what you're doing is wrong. If you dont follow a coach's plan as close as you can, then underperform on race day, dont blame the coach. If you follow a plan, even your own plan, and you fail to perform near your expectations, try to find the flaw in the plan, then improve upon it.

This is the racing paradox.
Do you perform better at workouts than you do at your key race?

Most importantly, if you are training faster and far ahead of someone who out performs you at every race, look in the mirror. Take a deep look, and be honest with yourself.

Yeah, trust. Easier said than done.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Latest TriOdyssey Results

Turning out to be another great season for TriOdyssey athletes, with 4 Kona qualifiers thus far:
Recent races include
Honu 70.3, Boise 70.3, Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon-Alaska, Patriot Half Ironman, Ironman Coeur d Alene

Kona Qualifiers in the past month include: Stacey Stern, Jason Lester, Bob Morris, Laura Matsen

Honu 70.3, June 5, 09
Stacey Stern (5:03 3rd F35, Kona qualifier)
Thomas Wood (5:27)
Jason Lester (5:43, 3rd interisland finisher, Kona qualifier)
Wayne Warrington (5:41)

What can I say....Stacey Stern, who's come within 5 minutes or so in IM events from her elusive Ironman Hawaii slot, the latest being IMAZ April 08. Then came Honu 70.3 a couple of weeks ago. Stacey is coming off her 2nd place in the F35 division at Wildflower this season and on a difficult day in Honu, managed 3rd in the F35, securing her second podium position thus far this year, and her slot to Ironman World Championships. I have watched Stacey, at 39, become a force in the F35 AG over the past year and I believe any girl in the F40 tracking results will be worried about Stacey next year. I firmly believe qualifying for Ironman Hawaii as a female is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish for an amateur athlete. It certainly is more difficult than making the podium, as very typically only 1-2, sometimes 3 slots are allocated. Sure the AG's are smaller than men, thus less slots. But, consider that in my AG for instance, I have 400 and out that, probably 50or so are legitimately have the fitness to have a shot at Hawaii, and there are 10-12slots typically allocated. In the female 35-39, very typical to have only 100 finishers, and there are probably 25-30 that have the fitness to qualify. Yet with only 2 slots allocated, it becomes much more difficult. So, congrats Stacey on facing diversity, overcoming, and you have weathered the storm. Now you get to finish your season with the fastest amateur field in the world. You wont ever forget your first one, or the pain and struggle, of what got you there. Jason Lester, M30 residing in Kona training, decided to compete at Honu in the open division, because he realized they were giving 3 slots for Kona residents. Jason, with the use on only one arm, entered the open division, instead of the AWAD category to compete with the M30 group for a slot. Very difficult day for Jason with the headwinds and limited control on the bike, secured the 3rd slot! This will be Jason's second consecutive year at Ironman Hawaii, after winning his division as world champion at Kona in 08. Congrats Jason! Jason called me a week ago, and decided to fly in for Boise 70.3 yesterday, in which again he entered the M30 open division and despite high chop and wind on the swim, thunderstorms for about 40 miles of the bike with heavy winds, managed a 5:29, a solid performance coming off Honu a couple of weeks back. I think Jason felt a bit strange going into this race, as he had a week of recovery coming off Honu because of the damage to his body in the tough conditions, then went right into a week taper for Boise, so minimal work going into this race. He learned is better to be 10% under "the line" as opposed to 1% over the line when it comes to racing. Thomas Wood M35, a solid 5:27, not his best but Tom being a surgeon has the extreme lifestyle and his schedule is hectic and sporadic with long call nights and many workouts done on tired legs. Stacey is also Thomas' wife and I am sure he's a bit tired sometime keeping up with her in the runs...kidding Tom. Average race for you yes, you'll be under 5 hours again soon. Wayne Warrington M35, is new to the service and I think has that overwhelmed feeling with the radical changes he's made in equipment, training, and nutrition. A 5:41 is again, solid for Wayne. When I write schedule for Wayne, I think, "my God, how is he going to get any good training this week!" Wayne is an ER physician and his hours are extreme to say the least, nights, afternoons, days, 12 hour shifts, completely sporadic, sometimes every other day working 12 hour night shifts, then mid week changing to Day shifts, and so on. Wayne faces tough challenges balancing his devotion to medicine, as Thomas does, and trying to excel in the sport. He'll come around, it will just take some time to adjust to the barrage of information I've unleashed on him over the past few months.

Boise 70.3 June 14, 09
Dave Ciaverella (4:27, 1st M40)
Bonnie Jensen (5:05, 4th F35, 2nd Podium in 70.3 in 09)
Dave Lowe (5:19, 1st M60)
Mike Grier (5:11)
Jason Lester (5:29)

Considering the very rough swim with white caps, close thunderstorms and wind, then thunderstorms, hail and wind on the bike and a cool rainy run, I was happy with all performances of my athletes. Jason Lester decided to fly in from Hawaii about 2 weeks after securing his Kona slot at Honu 70.3 to compete at Boise as he wasnt happy with his effort at Honu given the conditions on that day. Jason went from hot humid hell like conditions to wet, cold and windy conditions...he was very happy with his performance at Boise and kudos for giving it another shot so close to his prior race.
Bonnie Jensen has been training hard and even though she was a bit tired going into the taper for Boise, decided to register a week before the race. Bonnie races well in difficult conditions and fared well with her second podium finish this season, first of which was Wildflower 70.3 in May. Bonnie will be strong and ready for IM Louisville in August.
Mike Grier I believe is just getting his feet wet in racing this season and this is his first long course triathlon. This is not a key event for Mike, but rather to gather data for his bike power parameters and to just go out and get back into it as he progresses toward IM Canada in August. Mike fared well in tough conditions with his 5:11.
David Lowe has discovered Duathlon this season due to his swim difficulties, in which he is progressively overcoming. The swim was very tough this year at Boise and Dave still managed to set a personal best, and although he got out somewhat behind in the Age group, that soon ended as he smashed the bike and run splits to win by 9 minutes. Great work Dave! I knew I'd see you at the top of the podium if you just hung in there on the swimming!

Patriot Half Ironman June 20, 09

Kathy Graves (6:37, 3rd in division)
Kathy Graves is a first year athlete of mine who is making modest improvements thus far with about 6 months of base, now going into the 8 week build for IM Canada. Kathy I suspect will post well over an hour PR at Canada independent of conditions on race day.

Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon, Alaska June 21, 09

Wayne Warrington, 4:09
Wayne Warrington, coming off Honu 70.3 2 weeks earlier hasnt been training specifically for the marathon, and has only been scheduled 1 long run over 14 miles this season, about a week before the race. Wayne had a breakthrough as he smashed is marathon Personal Best by nearly an hour. Wayne is registered for IM Florida in November and I suspect will smash is IM Personal best with a PR in both the bike and run this year.

Ironman Coeur d Alene, June 21, 09
Bob Morris (10:14 7th M45, Kona Qualified)
Laura Matsen (10:58, 3rd F25, Kona Qualified)
Aleck Alleckson (9:54, 11th M35, Personal Best)
Jake Barakat (10:24, 32nd M30, First IM)
Jason Kurian (10:26, 33rd M30)
AJ Kemp (10:59, 30th M25, First IM)
Sal Colletto (12:09, 122nd M30, 3+ hour PR, 90 min PR marathon)
Heather Reimann (12:56, 27th F25, 35 min PR, 33 min PR Marathon)

It was truly enjoyable to see so many athletes out there and to support them during the race. The hours of driving around and meeting each individual athlete to go over the race was a bit draining on me because I had just driven 7 hours to the race, but necessary. I think this was the strongest crew I have ever coached for an IM, as evident by the times, PR's and the Kona slots. Aleck Alleckson, one of the most responsive and talented athletes I've every coached, missed Kona by 90 seconds, but threw the marathon monkey off his back with his PR of 3:28 marathon...Aleck is the 5th Ironhead to break 3:30 in an IM (7th year of the team) and he should be proud of his own accomplishment. I remember barking at Aleck to "go deeper, you're not hurting enough" at mile 21, then 22, 24 and with 2 minutes to go. I know this annoyed him tremendously...But...when Aleck turned that corner for the final 400 meter stretch, he was freaking hurting in a big way. I mean, pain, full body pain I could see in his eyes. Yet, he picked it up and caught a couple in front of him. Aleck fell short by 90 seconds, which I think was simply related to a slower swim than he is capable of, but regardless, He now knows what it takes and what level of suffering you have to endure to get to Kona. Slightly short, we've all been there, including my wife Ann who fell short by under 5 minutes in her first IM. But, it makes you stronger in the long run, and you'll get there next time, I would bet heavily on it. AJ Kemp, what can I say. AJ 18 months ago was in the ICU with a brain hemorrhage, and had to go through rehab to walk and speak correctly. Now AJ is an ironman and this race was a giant weight lifted off his shoulders because he was registered for 2008 CdA when his trauma occurred. One of the first questions he asked me in the ICU when I visited him was, "can I still race ironman at CdA". I told him frankly, "no". I could see the blank look in his eyes, then disappointment, then acceptance. I knew there would be another day. Its like climbing a mountain. If you encounter harsh elements near the summit (which I have), you have to turn back and go for it another day. The mountain is always have to pick your battles wisely. So, AJ summitted his mountain another day, and that day was last Sunday. Strong work AJ, although I never had a doubt, and you knew that. Jake Barakat, his first Ironman also, ran a solid race. We all laughed after as almost everyone with a power meter had a slower second bike loop by several minutes. Jake, without a power meter, was the closest first and second half bike split with only a tenth or two mph difference. His conservative pacing, and his run strategy set him up for a sub 10:30 for his first IM, in very harsh swim conditions and cold windy bike. So, yes Jake, you will drop at least 30 minutes on your next one.
Jason Kurian, solid race despite a flat. Loss in momentum cost him not only 10 minutes on the bike, but trying to make up time I am certain cut into his marathon. Very harsh swim resulted in a few mouth-fulls of water with a couple going into his lungs. This resulted in some nausea that delayed his nutritional plan onset by 90 minutes. This set Jason up with a huge caloric deficit going into the marathon, in which he ran the final 16 miles bonked. Jason has qualified for Kona before and will again. It just wasnt in the cards for him on Sunday. Regardless, he was only 10 minutes from his personal best, and that is something to be proud of. You have to overcome adversity in these races and give it your best shot no matter what the race, or life, throws at you along the way.
Bob Morris contacted me last year to coach him, and I remember him telling me he thought he had the ability to get to Kona, just didnt know how. Looking at his past races, I realized he should be going and told him I could at least show him the way. Bob executed a great race and his work, patience, and perseverance has paid off. Bob, hard to imagine you could smash your IM PR and get an outright Kona slot with only a few 80 milers under your belt! Like I said, high mileage isnt as important as many amateurs think, and you've proven that again. Great race! Heather Reimann, set a 30 minute PR in CdA, and not the strongest swimmer like myself a few years back, the very difficult swim conditions affected her more than others. She overcame this and ran her own race, stuck to the plan and managed a 33 minute PR in the marathon and sub 13 IM which I believe was her next goal. More PR's to come Heather, its a progressive process. Nice race, I know you're proud, very happy with this one. Laura Matsen, who I took under my wing about 3 months back showed character and strength Sunday in her first IM. Laura is primarily a cyclist and duathlete, well...yeah, and a runner. Laura has showed up at most of the workouts throughout the spring, as an Orthopedic surgeon intern, after working 24 hour shifts in the hospital. I honestly couldnt stand seeing her show up week after week at workouts and the tremendous hours she puts in, well over 80 in a given week...then trying to train for an ironman. So, with just a bit of guidance on methods, execution, recovery and nutrition, she was able to prevent the over-training so common amongst amateurs, and it showed in her race. After a 30th AG placing out of the water, and left T1 in 1:22 nearly the identical time in which I left T2 at my first ironman at CdA. As in my case then, I knew she would be playing "catch up" on the bike. However, Laura is very strong and it showed. Not only did she come off first on the bike with a 5:42 on a tough 4k ascent course, she was in the lead by about 3 minutes off the bike. Sure, the huge bike split cost her some minutes on the run, but Laura took that gamble. She looked focused and extremely concentrated, not even taking her eyes off the pavement in front of her as she ran. When I yelled at her that she looked great, good form, stong...she never even looked up at me, she just gave me a thumbs up and kept moving. Sure, 2 girls passed her, but still...posting a 3:49 marathon off a 5:42 bike split on this course is fantastic for a first IM. Laura's focus during this race, especially the marathon, and her willingness to go deeper than her competitors was rewarded with a 3rd place podium and Kona slot in her first IM.
Very proud of all of you.

My Boise 70.3 Race
4:27...3rd fastest HIM since taking up the sport 5 yrs back

The Good: Secured the top M40 spot and 17th amateur, dropping 9 minutes off my run split from Orlando 70.3 a few weeks back.
The Bad: Sub optimal swim, again. Choppy waves and stormy weather. I just dont have my swim down as well as last year. Followed by a 1 min run uphill to the transition, where they decided to place the timing matts. I got out of the water by 32:20 on my watch but the run 150 meters uphill then across the "swim finish" matts added a minute onto my swim time. I assume this is to decrease the transition times. But, it leads to a falsly long swim. The swim should be 1900 meters or so, not 1900 meters plus 150 meter land run.
The Ugly: Thunderstorms on the bike course, raining for about 40 miles with wind. Just not good conditions at all. Lost most of run nutrition in T2 transition but didnt realize until time to take it. Thus, I ran the entire half marathon on a total of 50 grams of carbohydrate.

Pre Race Transport. Pay the 15 bucks to take the bus up to the start. Even though the pre-race instructions told us we could drive up and drop off at the start, but couldnt park, they failed to notify us that the drop off is 600 ft below the start with a half mile walk up a gravel road to the transition. They would not allow us to drop off even near the start, as they would not allow anyone to walk across the damn on race day (except the pro's I noticed).

Swim Start
This race June 13, has an unusual start of 2pm, which turned out to be a bad call this year. As we sat there at 10 am looking at the windless 70 degree near perfect conditions, then traveled to the swim start at noon and over 2 hours watched the weather turn from bad to worse. The pros went off in minimal chop and winds at 2, and by the time it got to M40 age group at 2:50, a storm had brewed up with high winds producing 2 foot chop and white caps. The second buoy tore from its base and floated across the lake right before my wave at 2:50 so while in the water, I had realized this and swam toward the orange marker bouy. I remember smiling as I swam down the back stretch though, looking off into the distance where I knew the pros were biking...and seeing a huge thunderstorm with the sky falling with torrential rain. I was thinking, "finally! the pro's get a taste of crappy conditions!"

OK, I was eating my words an hour later laughing at the pro's getting dumped God! Braking and looking straight down on the descents as pounding stinging rain smashed my face. Wind knocking my bike half way across the lane too many times to count due to my decision to ride a disc. Pedalling through 6 inch deep "streams" flowing across the road from the run off from the desert hills, ect ect. This was truly the most difficult conditions I have ever raced in on the bike. Not even a close second. At the 45 mile mark I decided to bag my run split and just hammer in, at which I was able to hold above my Sprint Tri wattage for the final 40 minutes. Mainly motivated by racing a band of black clouds and lightning I saw off to the east as I was traveling North toward the finish. I out raced the storm and just when I realized I was in front of the leading edge, we turned East. Yep, right into a wall of pouring rain a mile later. Regardless, I really just wanted to get the bike finished as I was shaking with chills and cold. Flying down a 2% grade for 3-4 miles at the end of the bike is truly exciting and was fun to have the right lane of a busy road open for us, wide open. It feels great to fly in at 30 mph toward the finish, mentally, got me hyped up for the run.

I remember putting my bike up on the rack in T2 while putting my shoes on, water pouring out the rear vent of my aero helmet down my back, I look over...and water is literally pouring out of my bike frame through every small hole and cable housing. Who knows, maybe the extra weight of my frame being filled with water helped me on the downhills. Had some problems with my race number as it ripped off on the bike so had to fasten a new number on my belt in T2, which I always keep my 2nd race number in my run bag in case it tears off on the bike. This slowed me just a bit, but out of T2 and got on my goal of 6:30-35 pace immediately. I ran the first 5 miles with another in my AG, guy with pink visor. I tried to pass at mile 1 but he stayed with me, so we chatted here and there to mile 5. First 5 miles run down river and as such is about a 1% grade down, which makes for a fast course because it establishes a good strong pace for nearly the first half of the run. Yes you have to then run back up river, but momentum is established early on, and that means alot in a race. Even though it was raining and in the 50's, we held pace. At mile 5 I turned the corner for the out and back and decided to run about 6:15 pace for 1 mile and this put him away. I rolled back into town with a ton of screaming spectators, very cool. Ann yelled that I was 4th off the bike, so I knew the guy I was running with earlier was 3rd, and now I was. Man, 2 more people to catch? I held back to my 6:30 pace which was becoming more and more difficult to hold with each passing mile. Mile 7, then 8, then 9, still no M40 to pass. At mile 8 my shoe became untied, which typically is not a big deal as I can run with some annoying loose shoe with no problem. However, with the soaking wet rain, I was actually almost coming out of my shoe and at mile 9 marker I decided to take 20 seconds and tie the shoe. I did this, resumed pace. Mile 10 at 7:20? What the?! Hard to believe you can lose 50 seconds by a shoe tie, but with the loss of momentum, that was the reality. I still saw no M40 and realized my short stop will likely cost me the AG win I wanted. I hit my split at 10 and told myself, "no more looking at watch, heart rate, or pace...just go now". I just ran, hard. Harder. As I approached a M40 running about 7 min pace I realized he was likely on his second loop given the quick pace..he was likely a strong athlete. As I passed an oncoming runner on his team yelled to him he was 2nd. That was excactly as I flew past him on the left. I still dont know if he saw my leg M44 marking because he looked to the right to acknowledge his teammate. I didnt give him the chance to see me, as I immediately stepped in front of the next runner in hopes to block him from seeing me sneak by him. Mile 12 I pushed to the point where every 45-60 seconds I had to let up the pace because my legs were aching and I was breathing anaerobic and just had to slow down. I would do this for about 15 seconds and right when I caught my breath, I would go hard again. I did this for what seemed like a long time but was only about 6 minutes or so. Every single person I saw in front of me I tried to catch, telling myself they are the AG leader. At the same time, I was desperately trying to catch my teammate Bill Thompson, who back at mile 10 yelled at me, "come on Dave, catch me". I was running hard, in pain, numb legs, you've been there before I'm sure. I could see Bill up a minute ahead of me on the final stretch, man, fighting every single breath. With a minute or so to go, I realized I flew past a M40 who wasnt moving very fast. I figured he was on his first loop, and in retrospect he was the leader. My pacing partner turns out took 2nd, and he also caught the leader on the final stretch. I still never caught Bill who was running on a calf injury and despite his adversity, ran a great race. He was just not catchable as I think we were running similar pace toward the end. Bill executed the right strategy in being a bit conservative on the calf as the race unfolded, until his confidence increased. Sure it cost him AG positions, probably a podium spot, but he finished fast and strong, faced his adversity and overcame. This is where the respect comes, at least from me. Grant Folske had a great race with a 4:21, smoking fast but the top AG racers were tough...Grant still made the podium. I did however make sure to show Grant how much bigger the first place trophy is compared to the other trophies in the division. Hang in there Grant, you'll get a big trophy some day! Yeah, he had about 7 minutes on me in this race...thats a huge lead and I know it. Strong work Grant..I love it when you kick my ass, even more so when you PR.
So, all in all happy with my sub 4:28 and a 9 minute improvement in my run compared to Orlando 70.3 a month earlier. I wont disclose my run workout strategy that I knew would work for me....if I didnt get injured in the process. I would be very reluctant to train an athlete with my regimine of 102 miles in 13 days (9 runs)leading up to Boise, every single run of which had speed work..because of the very high risk of injury. This is the chance I took, and accepted the risk that I may re-injure my calf/soleus for Boise. However, it was worth the risk for me. I signed up for Boise in Feb, while I was injured, with the hope and expectation of winning the AG in the second 70.3, and sometimes the gamble pays off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Face Your Fears

I called an athlete of mine a couple of weeks ago. I heard him eating while we were talking about his development and attention to detail I have noticed in him over the past couple of months. I asked "what are you eating?" He replied, "white rice and egg whites". I said, "'s 7 pm...for dinner?" He replied, "of course". He has a couple of kids and a wife there, and he's eating white rice and egg whites for dinner following an intense workout earlier that day. This guy is going to make the podium in an Ironman as a relative rookie. If he doesnt, he'll be damn close. I love athletes that listen and make such an effort to master those details that put them in an optimal position to get to Kona. Very few I've ever coached have this characteristic.

Face your fears. Yes I will admit. I was afraid going into this race. I realized my swim was average and bike was strong, but I really didnt have any idea how I would respond in the run. I did think about cancelling this race a couple of weeks ago, and just flying down to Florida for vacation. As I was in bed one night thinking about this I reminded myself that its not my unpreparedness that was deterring me. Its was the fear of failing in the task. I then realized that "failing" is relative and to me, just making an attempt can make you feel successful. The alternative is never making the attempt at all. Many athletes undermine their own race through training because of their fears. I dont think this is intentional. Athletes place their goal on such a high pedestal that it becomes a goal too difficult to obtain, and thus the journey becomes unmanageable. Kona qualifying for instance. Athetes will place such fear into their goal, they unintentionally over train, too many relentless miles on the bike, too much volume on the run, etc. By allowing their fears of failure obsure their goal, they over train in an attempt to reach it. I am not only talking about amateurs. I traveled to Boston marathon back in the early 1990's with my coach who was a 3 time Olympian in the marathon at the time. He was a dark horse to win, coming off a 4th overall at New York marathon earlier. He became fearful if his own ability, and it undermined his final preparation. He ran from the start of Boston in Hopkington to the 13.1 mile mark the Saturday prior to the 1:02, at the time, 2 minutes slower then the American record in the half marathon. He became so obsessed with blowing his race, he over trained 48 hours before his event. He "blew up" with a 2:15 on race day and stated to me he felt tired the entire race.

Dont over-think your goals and your preparation. You would be surprised how many amateur athletes train with more overall volume than pro's. Yes, most of it is useless volume and wont teach you to race well. The other aspect of course is competing in the workout and "racing" well before your actual race day. Finally, the timing of intensity, cycles, etc are what pro's do best, and there is a huge difference amongst training in that aspect, compared to amateur athletes.

My fears of racing this past weekend, and deciding to do so anyway, knowing I would get likely lose the podium on the run, was reiterated by a voicemail I received from Grant Folske, who competing with me in Orlando 2 years ago and was 9 minutes behind me. Yes, ONLY 9 minutes behind me with a 4:38 on a very windy day, and with 2 weeks of swimming, 1 month of cycling and only a bit more running under his belt. Yet, he came down, we trash talked a bit before the race, and he gave it his best shot. Grant loves to compete, no matter where he is at his fitness level. It doesnt bother him if he gets beat up in an event on occasion because he is a confident athlete. He's not afraid. I was in my top fitness back in 2007 that day and Grant was only beginning the first month of his season. He of course kicks the crap out of me in many races since, but still, I love competing when he is in the race because it drives me to strive harder. We may have our pre-race trash talk, but always, the immediate pre race genuine good wishes for us both to have PR days. Grant is one of the few athletes ever in my life that I simply enjoy to out-compete. Yet, I enjoy it even more when he out-competes me.

Enjoy your ability to compete. On race day, it is what it will be. Dont undermine your own training because of unnecessary insecurities created through fear. Dont forget why you competed in your very first race.

Why do I keep going back to Orlando, with sub optimal conditions and course? Why compete in conditions I know will be difficult year after year? Why would I take a shot at winning my AG in my final year of the M40 division? It's about confronting your fears, and irrelevant of what the outcome may be, you will build character and strength.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

There Are No Miracles


So, I am racing Orlando 70.3 next Sunday, May 17. I have just completed my 2nd full week of running after 3 months off, both weeks of which I've logged in 25 miles.
My "key run" this past Friday morning was an 8 miler in which I averaged 7:10 pace, which nearly killed me with HR in zone 4 the final 6 miles. I would have liked to have a good race in Florida because I would be defending my 07 M40 win there. I of course need a good race to prepare for Boise 70.3 next month, but my primary motive for racing in Orlando is to put myself up against those younger competitors in my age group, seeing as I'm racing as a 44 year old this season. Of course, I will have an average swim, and I hope to set a personal best on this course on the bike, as well as a personal best for sustained watts in a half ironman.

All this is irrelevant because I will be 10 minutes slower per mile most likely at my fastest compared to my 2007 race. This is just the way it is...I am happy to be running near 7 min pace for an hour pain free, believe me, after a 56 mile time trial, I dont expect to perform some miracle out there in the half marathon. I only hope I can hold onto 7:15 pace for 10 miles...then just hold on as long as I can for the final 5k. This would put me 10 minutes slower than my time in 2007. No....there is no miracle that will suddenly allow me to run 6:30 pace next Sunday. I will race as a product of my under-fitness in running for this one. Gladly, because I am still able to run. A month ago, running my 12 minute jogs at 9 minute pace at the tail end of my injury...I knew if I stayed pain free, I could manage to get to under 7:30 pace for an hour a few weeks later. So, here I am. I will very most definitely get killed on the run, and chased down by many in my age group next week. It is what it is. For every other athlete out there, and those that I coach. That's right....there are no miracles. If your PR in the marathon is 3:15 in the past year or likely will not break 3:30 in an Ironman, unless you've managed to train yourself to get into sub 3 hour fitness prior to your race. Not just sub 3 hour fitness...but with the real-time ability to execute a sub 3 hour open marathon. Then, sure, you're ready to run under 3:30 barring some unforeseen incident on the race course. If you get in the workouts with proper intensity, without skipping too many workouts, and not'll do just fine on race day. More so, you'll be happy with your day.

I upset a teammate a few years ago the week before IMCdA. I simply stated to her that "there is no God on the race course, and trust me...there is no God at mile 20 of the marathon in an Ironman." Sure this upset the person, which was not my intent. My only point was that if you havent properly prepared for the marathon, in part of which means running many long runs at or 15-30 seconds under your goal pace, then you wont by some miracle suddenly run 30 sec per mile faster than you've trained...and with 3-4 long runs completed prior to race day.

So, yeah, I stand by my sarcastic comments. I am not saying there is no God...dont misquote me. I'm simply stating....he (or she) wont be there to help you the final 10k of your Ironman marathon. Trust me...God may be watching...but there will be no intervention, and no miracles. You are on your own. You are isolated and alone. This is what you train for...not to be picked up and carried by something else. You are here because you want...need to do this on your own.

There is a misconception in athletes, even world elites, that the harder you train and the more prepared you are, the final stages of the race will somehow come easier. You feel that if you've put in 8+ 18 milers you'll somehow feel great running your goal pace the final 10k in your ironman. As well, hammering yourself into the ground at your PR open marathon pace each week, unable to recovery in time for the next intense workout 48 hours later will also allow you to just float to a PR on all that over-training in the final few weeks of your key race. These concepts couldnt be further from the truth, and further from reality.

Training and proper preparation, and execution, allows you to take your body deep into that lonely state of consciousness of which you are on an edge ready to fall off. It allows you to remain on that edge slightly fall over, then slowly pull yourself up.

To overcome. Yeah, that's why I do it. This is my true and singular goal for my ironman athletes on their race day. Take yourself to the brink of failure, then succeed. This is why I didnt pull out of Orlando.