Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Post IM Canada

Okay, I know it's been a little bit, and most of you know the story, but I will post a full race report from my day soon. I really appreciate all of your kind words on my last post. Thanks for those, they really brighten my spirit.

School started up the day after we got back from Canada and we have been unpacking and getting our rooms ready at Brentwood. Know that I am not 'hiding' and not wanting to tell you all the details. I just want to make sure I have enough time to do a quality job.

I am looking forward to Kona now, and I hope to have a better performance than I did last year. And I was pretty happy with last year's race.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Getting Better In Canada

Saturday, August 25th.

The Day Before Ironman Canada

This morning I found a little more relief from the stomach tension I have been experiencing the last few days. It's definitely still there, but not quite as frequent or intense. I know I can tolerate the pain in the race, but my concern is the absorbtion of fluids and nutrition when racing under tough conditions. But there is really nothing I can do but take care of myself and rest. If I cannot get fluids and nutrition in, I'm pretty much dead in the water. A boat without gas is simply driftwood.

According to theweatherchannel.com it is supposed to be a high of 71 degrees and about 10mph winds. Morning is supposed to be about 55. So conditions look pretty good from my perspective. I wish they were a bit cooler with a little rain, but it should be good conditions for a long day of racing.

The support up here has been great in terms of friends coming up and supporting the 8 Tri Fusion people racing. I'm excited to see them all out there tomorrow whether it's from the top of Richter, or from a car, or from a road side bitro. A familiar face that knows you name is always welcomed.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow no matter what happens. There is a lot of work, time, and sacrafice that goes into one of these days made by so many people. I think I am 'blessed' and it is a true 'gift to my life' that I have such amazing friends that would take time out of their vacation time to come up and join us in this day of celebration. And to think that Kona could be even bigger? Yikes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Feeling So Well In Canada

Thursday, August 23rd

So I woke up this morning with a bit of an upset stomach... nothing crazy, but not perfect. When I woke up I went for a swim at about 9:00am and it went fine. Nice to get in the water here and stretch it out a bit. But when I got back I was a bit dizzy and my stomach was not feeling all that much better, actually worse.

I walked across the street to our condo to get some breakfast. The whole time not feeling great with a headache and feeling like I spent a little too long at the bar the night before. I eventually decided to retire to the bedroom where I would be for about 6 hours. Nothing ever felt good, and I just could not get any food or fluids in. So I stayed in bed and tried to get some sleep, but I was just way to uncomfortable. I finally broke a sweat, and started to feel a little better.

I still have a bit of an upset stomach, but I hope that it's on the mend. Better today rather than Saturday I guess. But I hope to be back at 100% Sunday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Okay, I'm Back!

So, what has been going on you might be thinking? Well, I'm not going to rehash what has happened because it would take way too long. But in brief, this is where I am at in regards to my triathlon racing, here we go:

March:Oceanside 70.3
I have done this race a few times and it’s always humbling for a Pacific Northwesterner to go down to the warm climate of Oceanside and pull off a good result. But I always come away with a new found knowledge of where I am, and where I need to go. The swim down at Oceanside is a bit confusing with so many age group waves and the general course layout. So I am pretty happy to come out in the top 5% of my wave there every year to get on the bike. This would be my first year that I would be racing my new Felt DA. It performed very well. It felt effortless and I came away with my fastest ever bike split down there taking off about 12 minutes off my prior bike splits with less effort. My run went okay, but not comparable to my bike. I was disappointed with my 19th place finish, but it was early and it definitely let me know what I needed to work on.

Whitworth Sprint Triathlon
This was an early season sprint race that was a lot of fun. I was able to test out my new bike on a short technical course and see how it would perform in race conditions… it worked very well. This was a very technical course since it was 13 laps of a 1 mile course. Very mentally challenging not only remembering which lap you were on, but staying mentally sharp for the corners and other participants on the course. I ended up coming away with the overall win at this local race. Great training for future short course events.

Spring Thaw Duathlon
This was a great duathlon that kind of starts off the multisport season for the surrounding communities of Spokane. A great turnout with some great competition. It’s definitely a runners course, so you get some great runners there as well. I seemed to have a good race there setting a new course record and winning overall. Another test to see that my speed was still there… even though it was pretty painful.

Napa Valley Half Ironman
This race was a great test for me. I wanted to work on my Ironman pacing and try out some new nutrition and intervals for it. I had a great swim, a super bike, and a solid run. I ended up severely cramping on the run at about mile 9 in my right calf, but I was able to maintain an ‘altered’ running gait to finish the race winning my age group and coming in 2nd overall to professional Gordo Byrn.

Blue Lake
Blue Lake was a USAT Olympic distance race that was a Tri Northwest Club Championship as well. There was a large turn out with a couple professionals in attendance as well. The race went pretty well for me. It was the first Olympic race that I had done since ITU World Championships in 2005. I love that distance, and my body seems to adjust well to it too. I ended up having a phenomenal bike split (fastest of the day) followed by a strong run. I ended up winning my age group and placing 2nd overall to Matt Lieto. A very competitive field so I was very pleased with my fitness for that distance since I have been focusing on Ironman and half Ironman races.

Trailblazers Sprint Triathlon
Another great local sprint race that brings out a lot of great competition. A very fast course. I jumped into this one at the last minute. I was not sure I would do it with it being only a week out from Ironman Cda. But what the heck. It’s a race that would be less than an hour and it was a great opportunity to see a lot of the local athletes and find out about how their season has been going. Everything in this race was strong and felt solid. Again, my bike was perfect. I ended up winning overall.

Ironman Cda
The day started off like all the other days this week… windy. The fortunate part is that the temperature was a bit cooler. Almost unseasonably cool. It felt more like a fall morning than a summer one. The past 4 Ironman Cdas have been so incredibly hot, that this was a welcomed change. But the wind was not welcomed by most. I loved to see the wind on the swim. I was actually excited to get started. It was going to be a tough swim.

Everything was set in transition and ready to go. I had mentally gone over the race over and over. But no matter how many times you check and re check, you seem to think that you will forget something.

Before the swim start, they announced that athletes could opt out of the swim. People choosing this would not get age group awards or qualify for a Kona slot, but in case anyone was afraid that they would not be able to swim in the conditions did have an alternative. I like this announcement because it was letting all the athletes know that the water conditions were as bad as they looked. It instilled a little more fear in the participants, and the overall feel of the day. Me… I was excited! I love chaos. I love tough conditions. I love it when the course may be considered ‘dangerous.’ Bottom line it’s water, there are waves, and you swim. If you have been swimming in a pool for the past year, this may be a little more than you would want to see right now. But I was actually really excited for this race to start.I started on the front line in a spot that looked like to me was a straight shot to the first turn. But when you are looking at about 750 yards out, everything looks like a straight shot. The wind was moving the markers a bit, so I just wanted to be sure that I knew where I was going because when your head is in the water with those waves pounding against it, sometimes it’s tough to spot.The cannon went off and the race began. I took off pretty hard with a shorter stroke count to battle the consistently larger waves. Kind of like riding in a smaller gear and spinning up a hill. I went about 200 yards and then started to look around to see who was around me. It did not seem like anyone so I started to wonder if I was going in the wrong direction. Soon I started to merge with the rest of the masses on the buoy line and things got a little tight. But it soon settled in and the typical bumping was going on. Nothing to unusual, a couple flagrant grabs here and there, but nothing that really screwed me up. As I rounded the 1st lap of the swim, it felt good. I did not know my split, but I was definitely in a front group. The second lap was a pretty easy swim to settle in to. My only problem in the swim was when we came up on some slower swimmers that we were ‘lapping.’ I ended up getting more upright and pointing my toes more erectly downward which cramped up my calves. This happened 2 times, once to each calf. It hurt so bad that I had to start kicking with my foot at a 90 degree angle to my leg for a bit… kind of like wearing a hiking boot. Not the best form, but with my Blue 70 suit on, it did not seem to impact me too much with the leg flotation. But it was pretty painful and a bit nerve wracking. I was a little concerned about the impact this would have on the rest of the day. But for the time being I needed to get done with the swim and get on my bike.

I ended up coming out of the water in an hour and a few seconds. My slowest wetsuit legal swim to this point. But considering the conditions, I thought it might be good. I later found out I was 60th overall which was good. So the course must have been slow, or the conditions made the course slow.

I had a pretty good T1 and was on my bike quickly. The air was cool, but the sun was out and I knew the day would get warm. I had my race plan and nutrition pretty dialed in. I was going to stick with the same, or similar, plan as the one I used in the half IM in early May. My intensity zones (HR) were adjusted for longer distance. I had a lactate threshold test done a few days prior at Champions Sports Medicine by Ben Greenfield to determine exactly what my body could do. For the first 45 miles, things felt good. The bike felt effortless. I wanted to make sure that I was not going too hard early on (common problem) and then pay for it later. I kept monitoring my effort and HR. I was breathing through my nose, felt like I could hold a conversation with someone… all the signs that things were good. I was all by myself on the bike. I almost felt like I was on the wrong course. I was in 14th place overall by the 34 mile with one of the fastest bike splits, and I felt pretty good. But I was noticing that my stomach was feeling a bit ‘gassy.’ I could not figure out what was going on, but I decided to stick with my nutritional plan. After about 30 minutes more, my stomach was feeling worse and I started to notice a decrease in my hydration interval. My heart rate started to drop a bit and my intensity was still feeling the same. This all tells me one of two things: More food or more water. But nothing was going in really well. I knew I was getting behind on nutrition and my race was starting to suffer. From about miles 45-65 things were rough. I felt like this great ride I had established was going to start falling apart. I rolled through Special Needs on the bike and grabbed my bottle that I had planned to and made a bathroom stop. After leaving the Special Needs section I was not feeling like things were doing any better and I started to try and figure out what was going on. At about the 80 mile mark I decided to abort my nutritional plan and go with the one that I have used in the past that was more gel based and water. But that this point in the race, I was way behind. I did not know how far behind, but I was definitely going downhill. I started feeling a little better with about 15 miles to go on the bike, but things definitely were impacted from my lack of nutrition. But the bike was over and all I had left was a marathon.

I came off the bike in 18th overall and had a fast T2. As I started out on the run, I wanted to make sure that I did not go out too hard. I figured if I stayed at 8:00 miles, I would be in good shape. I started off slow for the first 2 miles but still found myself at 7:30 miles. So I eased it up a bit more. My stomach was feeling sour and I just wanted to throw up or something. I thought that if I had to run 26.2 miles with my stomach like this, it was going to be tough. My mile times started to drop and so did my HR. I knew what I was experiencing was again a result of improper nutrition on the bike and now it was impacting me on the run. I made it through the 1st lap okay, but I was getting slower and slower. At about mile 18, things just went from bad to worse. My calf that had flared up in Napa that I had been going to PT for since was getting tight. I walked through the aid station and went to run again and my calf said no. I knew that I could potentially do some serious long term damage if I were to keep pushing it, so I was limited to a walk. Not the best situation to be in at mile 18. To walk 8 more miles was going to be long. Fortunately at the aid station I grabbed a couple fists full of cookies and a couple cups of water and Gatorade. I wolfed those down like the true Cookie Monster. I ran into some friends on the side of the road and chatted with them or a bit. I could have stayed there all day, but I figured I should get going if I was going to finish by dark. After about 3-5 minutes I started walking again. I walked about 2 miles, through a couple aid stations before I attempted to run again. The run actually felt better than the walk, but I was not going fast. I think I was at about a 10:30 or so. I finally reached the turnaround at Bennett Bay and was happy to know that I was heading home. I continued to run and was going to try and run the rest of the way back hoping and elevate my pace. My stomach was feeling better and felt like I finally had something in my stomach to work off of. I think that the cookies (though not the best for quality calories) had calories, and sugar, in them that my body needed. I think that by consuming so many calories and walking for a bit allowed my body to absorb the calories and get caught up. I got the mile 23 and started drinking cola and running harder. It was feeling pretty good… well, as good as you every feel at the end of a marathon. With about 1 mile to go I elevated my pace a bit more. I really was not noticing anyone cheering. I was pretty much in a zone, and not necessarily a good one. As I approached the turn to the finish, I was happy to watch all the people continue to the second lap. I made the turn to see about 400 meters to the finish. A beautiful sight with a slight downhill grade. The bad part of this sight was that there was a guy about 75 meters ahead of me that looked like he was in my age group. Now I have always said that by running faster, or sprinting, in the last 200 will not make up time, but it will make up places. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to close this gap but I elevated my pace a bit more and started striding out a bit. I could tell I was closing on him, but the finish was approaching fast. The crowd was cheering louder and louder sensing me, the guy from behind, might just pass this guy. Since this happened, he turned to look back and see what people were cheering about. When he saw that I was closing in, he increased his pace as well. Crap! The finish line was getting closer and closer. I was in the better position to close, but did I have the kick to do it. As I was running down the stretch, I was a lot of familiar faces cheering their hearts out. It really helped me out. As I got close to him, with about 125meters to go, I saw that he was 27… not in my age group. But I had worked so hard to get to where I was. It would be silly not to attempt the pass. I got up next to him and he elevated his pace one last time. We were now approaching the stands and the finishing arch. I took a deep breath and let it fly. I got by him pretty quickly and he pretty much gave up and settled back in to his original pace. I looked back to see that I had a pretty good gap on him so now it was time to celebrate in the finishing stretch. I have always said that of all the areas to ‘run fast’ this was not the area. The final 40 meters is all about you. The crowd, he announcer, the banners,… it’s all there and I think it’s so important to absorb this. But I could not go from a 6:30 pace to walking. So I spun around and acknowledged the crowd and ‘high fived’ both sides as I came to the finish. It always feels like you won the race here no matter what place, or time you come in. It’s just the energy.

So though my run did not go very well to put it mildly, I still came in at 10:15. Not too bad for that course, but bad since my swim was a 1 hr and bike was 5:09. That leaves over 4 hours for the marathon. Yikes! Slowest marathon ever for me. But it also goes to show you that perseverance does pay off. I was able to get a Kona slot because my age group got 10 and 3 did not take them. I was 12th in my age group so I ended up getting one. Whew! I was really thankful of this because in the race I figured I was at about 30th in my age group. The difference between 12 and 9th was about 4 minutes. The same amount of time that I stood talking with some people on the run after I started to walk at mile 18. You can always look back and find places where you ‘could have’ made up time. But it does not change the outcome. So it was nice to get this taken care of here. I will still race IM Canada and hopefully put together a good race up there. I had a great race there last year, so that might be tough to top.

After Ironman Cda I did a couple more races to prepare me for the Regional International Championships in Federal Way. The importance of this race was pretty big. It was a qualifier for 2008 ITU World Championships in Vancouver Canada. I really wanted to get there, but you needed to win your division. More on that later. But before that I did a race in Helena Montana 2 weeks after IM Cda. Here is my report on that race:

I raced this race back in 2005 and it went well after swimming off course and having a sprint finish with Adam Jensen in the last 200 meters. I wanted to test my fitness after IM Cda this year to see where I was and was not. The race went well. I swam on course, biked fast and had a solid run. I was disappointed in my run time, but knew that I was still recovering from IM. I ended up winning overall there with a similar time as 2005 when I was specializing in that distance. So I was happy about that, but not ecstatic.

After Spring Meadow I race Tiger Tri in Colville, WA. Nice race, and we had a ton of peoplr from Tri Fusion up there. We ended up getting the top 4 overall in that race. Pretty cool. Here's my brief report on that event:

This quarter Ironman race that is always tough and brings out some of the faster athletes in the area. I won this race in 2005 and was looking forward to another good race here again. It did go well, but not perfect. I had some ‘volunteer’ difficulties in both transitions that cost me about 40 seconds. But the race goes on. I had a great swim coming out 10 seconds behind the lead swimmer, my bike split once again went very well, and the run was steady. I ended up getting passed by the eventual race winner with about 1 mile to go. He beat me by 17 seconds so that lost time in transition haunted me a bit. But that is just the way it goes sometimes. Better here than at Worlds.

Two weeks later I would head off to my next 'A' race, Federal Escape. A bit longer of a race report, but here goes:

Federal Escape Triathlon- 2008 World’s Team QualifierThis was a race that I have had my eyes on for about a month. I really wanted to race ’08 Worlds which will be in Vancouver Canada. It’s so close and such a HUGE race. I really wanted to attend this one again. Since USAT Nationals were the week after IM Cda, I knew that I would not be in good form to race an Olympic race, and do well, that soon. USAT offered 8 regional qualifiers for ’08 Worlds to fill the remainder of the team. Our regional qualifier was Federal Escape. Only challenge, you needed to WIN your division. I have had some great results throughout the years, but I don’t think I have ever gone into a race saying that I was going to ‘win.’ I normally know it’s a possibility, but I just want to race my best. And if I do that, normally things fair well.

There were a few guys that I saw on the race confirmation that were fast. One guy who can run 10ks in about 33 minutes. So I knew I would need to have a solid day with everything going right. My goal was to get an ITU slot… that’s it. I knew that would mean going hard from start and to finish without any mishaps. The swim went very well. A lot of bumping, positioning, but nothing out of the ordinary. I came into T1 with some familiar faces from our Tri Fusion club, Ben Greenfield and Joe Byers. That was good to see since they are very strong swimmers. But already out of T1 and on the road was professional Chris Tremonte over 2 minutes ahead.

The bike course was a very technical course. It was a 4 lap course with about 9 turns per lap. Congestion could be a factor as well as maintaining speed. I took off on the bike and started to reel anyone I could in. I maintained a steady effort and power output. Ironically, as the race went on, my heart rate dropped and my power output and speed increased… that’s good. I had not clue where I was overall in this race by lap 3 since there were so many people on the course and you did not know which lap anyone was on. Jessi told me I was in first, but I did not know by how much… but it really did not matter. All I knew was that I needed to keep going and push the bike to gain as much time as I could over these phenomenal runners.

I came into T2 alone. Always a good sight to not see any bikes in T2. I took off running a solid pace letting my body settle in and get comfortable. I ran the first 5k in about 18+ minutes. For me, a solid 5k in an Olympic race. Jessi could not tell me how far 2nd was back since she had not seen him. She knew it was more than 50 seconds. I picked up the pace on the second lap a bit to give it what I could. I was now seeing more runners on the course that were on their 1st lap. I wanted to get past them so that anyone that was chasing me would have a tough time finding me in the mix. At mile 4 I elevated even more, and then again at mile 5. I knew the last half mile would be a tough one, so I was prepared. I knew that I WOULD NOT get passed with a half mile to go. I was pushing it harder and harder and saw the finish line in sight. Jessi said that she could see him now, and to not let up. I knew he would have to run about a 3 minute mile to close the gap, but Jessi just did not want me to slow for anything.

I ended crossing the line and winning overall. I secured my slot for the 2008 ITU World Championships. I was so excited. In the process I beat one of the fastest short course pros in the Pacific Northwest. It was a great result for me. Possibly the best race of the season so far. I have not seen the official splits yet, but I know that solid splits in every leg played a role. My swim, bike, and run all went to plan. I have to give a little extra credit to my bike split since I know that is where I gained the most time. This course definitely favored a technical rider… thanks for that.

So after Federal Way it was back to increasing volume again to prepare for IM Canada. It would be a tall order, but thinking 'I Can't' is not an option. I was in this same position last year going into IM Canada. That is, having a Kona slot and punishing your body again in another IM. Well, I don't think you can ever 'just do' and Ironman. I would like to be the best prepared to have a solid day. My goal again, as it is in every IM, is to race a smart race and have things come together. I never expect to do anything unexpected, just do what I can and not have things out of my control influence the end result.

I have been using an SRM Powermeter since Tiger Tri and I had some testing done again with Ben Greenfield at Champion Sports Medacine and Pacific Elite Fitness. We were able to corelate my power thresholds with my power outputs. Hopefully this will help out in my pacing in IM Canada and eventually Kona. I hope to be able to ride a little easier, and smarter, and then have another good run as I did last year in Canada. I like to look at what I did on the bike in the races I have a good run in. If I have a crappy run, I really don't care what I did on the bike because I probably went too hard and my un suffered because of it. But I do think that IM Canada has a pretty fast bike course, so I hope to have a faster bike than I did last year because I really think my overall bike splits have been faster. But I will be watchin my effort and watts and really give any interest in my speed or time.

I have to give to shout outs to those people and businesses that have been behind me thus far.

Julie and Shawn Talbott at Wicked fast Sport for proving Recover Ease that has allowed me to train hard day after day. As well as Energ Ease that gives me that little pick up to train and race with (http://www.recover-ease.com/).

PowerBar for all their amazing products that make racing and training meld together and keep me well fed (http://www.powerbar.com/).

Ben at Blue Seventy for getting me into the fastest wetsuit on the earth. Sure makes the swim not only easier, but faster (http://www.blueseventy.com/).

Ben Greenfield at Pacific Elite Fitness for helping me with my training as well as LT testing and nutritional support. He really takes the ‘guesswork’ out of it all and allows me to focus on going fast (http://www.pacificfit.net/).

Alex and Natalie at Ironman Activewear for keeping me comfortable and looking good in their clothing during the race and training (http://www.ironmanactivewear.com/).

Molly at Rudy Project for keeping my head safe (and fast) as well as providing protection for my eyes that looks amazing too (http://www.rudyprojectusa.com/).

Robin at Fitness Fanatics for supporting me with my bike and many other triathlon needs at her shop (http://www.fitfanatics.com/)

PZ Pearce at Champions Sports Medicine. Dr. Pearce has provided the facility for my testing and also aided in getting my calf injury identified to get the proper PT for it. Nice to have the best sport med doctor in the world here in Spokane (http://www.champsportsmed.com/).

Craig Hemmenway at Apex Physical Therapy for giving me the PT all the way up to race day. Without that, I know I would have been in trouble (http://www.apexpt.com/).

Cheryl and Gordon Fagras from Cee-Gees for getting me the best hydration system available. All my fluids stayed in my aero bottle, not on me. Also for the most comfortable aero bar pads. I felt like I could go forever (http://www.cee-gees.com/).

Tri Fusion, the most amazing triathlon club in the world, for all their support in training and then again on race day with the cheering and support on that tough day (http://www.tri-fusion.com/).

Also all my friends and family have made it out there to cheer me on. Some have been there at every IM, some that get to the races they can, and some that will be there for the rest. I appreciate all of you encouragement throughout the year as well as race day. It sure makes the race feel like you are in your won backyard.

Emma, who cheers as loud as she possibly can and shakes her cow bell for everyone. He cheer, ‘Go Daddy,’ is what I reflect on whenever times get tough.

And finally Jessi, who was not able to be on the sidelines again this year because she was racing as well. I love the fact that I can see her out there, but I missed her all over the course as well at IM Cda. But I think I love it this way too. She is the one that really makes it possible for me to do any of this. From meals, shopping, mental sanity, sacrificing her sleep to train at 4:00am, to making sure Emma has a sitter when we have a conflict in training times. It’s amazing to me that the two of us can have jobs, a family and social life, and still both be training for an Ironman. We make a pretty good team. I love and thank you for all that you do for not only me, but everyone.

So, that's it. I'm currently sitting in bet at the Golden Sands Hotel after a great day here in Penticton.

The first person that comments on my blog I will give $1. That tells me that you have not given up on me :)