Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Train-cation #2

Earlier this year Charisa and I took a trip out to Tucson to put in some solid training before the season officially got under way. Today, I am off on another trip to put the finishing touches on my Ironman Lake Placid training. Tucson was awesome. But I have a sneaking suspicion that KONA is going to be just a tad better. I leave you with what I will likely be seeing tonight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buffalo Springs RR

I didn't really have any big expectations for the city of Lubbock, Texas and lets just say that it managed to just barely live up to them.

I did however, have some expectations or at least strong hopes for my race. Below is how it went. But first I want to get something off my chest.

We went down and swam at the lake on Friday. It was HOT. I don't mean like the water was warm, I mean it was HOT. I knew going in that it was likely to be a non-wetsuit swim. After taking a dip, I knew that there was NO WAY I would have swam in a wetsuit even if they allowed it. In the meeting they told us the average of 3 tests taken that day was 81 with the highest reading at 83. It was HOT the rest of the day. We walked out of the hotel room at 4am on race day and it was WARM. But somehow, "miraculously," the water had managed to drop 5 degrees overnight and it was wetsuit legal for the AGers. Excuse my going off on a tangent here, but I find it really lame that RD's do this. There is NO WAY the water was 76 on Sunday. I understand they do it for safety, I understand that when they have non-wetsuit swims they have a higher incidence of swimmer distress. But here's an idea; when the water is warm and there is literally NO REALISTIC chance of it dropping below the legal limit, announce it the day before that the swim will be non-wetsuit. This will give those who are uncertain about their unaided swim ability, a chance to back out, or a chance to "fall ill" on race morning and save face. Or better yet, announce it will be non-wetsuit, and give the option to do just the bike & run segments.

Now again, I ask for some leeway and forgiveness here. And I DO NOT intend for this to sound conceded, elitist, snobish, etc... But the real problem here lies with the athletes. If you are not able to EASILY swim 1.2mi in open water, without a wetsuit, and are not confident enough in your swim ability that you would not hesitate to do so alone any day of the week, you SHOULD NOT be on the starting line of a half ironman. Again, I'm not trying to put anybody down here, I don't care if you can swim the 1.2mi in 22min or 1hr, but if you are not 100% certain that you can swim it without issue, you should NOT be out there. Tragically, on Saturday a swimmer died at the Philadelphia triathlon. The swim for the Philly race on Sunday was cancelled. I am sure this factored into the RD's decision to make the swim wetsuit legal at Buffalo Springs. This is not to cast judgment on the swimmer who was lost, his swimming ability or to say he shouldn't have been out there. I don't know anything about him, and would not do so. Accident's happen, people get hit, kicked, take in water, have medical emergencies, etc... I have been in situations where I thought I was going to need help. But these would be much fewer if we, as athletes, were more realistic with ourselves, and came in to events fully prepared and confident that we can and will, absent some accident or medical problem, finish the swim whether in a wetsuit or not.

Sorry for my rant. Onto the race report:

Swim: 24:31
I put my goggles on under my cap because I was pretty sure I was going to get so hot that I would need to rip my cap off. I nearly did, but was halfway through the swim and I didn't want to lose the draft I had just found. I got gapped at the beginning of the swim (need to work on my sprinting), and had to swim through one group before the 1st buoy. I found some feet, thought we were going to slow, swam through them, and promptly swam off course. I re-corrected and caught back up to that same group of 4 and just held their feet to the finish. I swam hard the whole swim, and while the course was definitely short, I was happy with my effort. Given the short course, the time is meaningless.

Bike: 2:19
I got out on the bike and my goal was to try and hold higher watts than I did at Wildflower and to do so with the heart rate in check. For the first half of the ride things went well. I passed a few guys, was holding my watts and my heart rate was up. I am not sure if it was nutrition or fatigue, but in the second half of the ride (where I normally start feeling strongest), I began to crumble. My watts and heart rate fell and I struggled. I probably should have eaten a bigger breakfast or taken on more during the ride, and I had to really battle the rest of the way home to keep my power reasonably high. The headwind didn't help matters.

Run: 1:24
My 1/2 marathon PR continues to elude me. I WILL break 1:20 this year! In transition I had picked up a spot, but gave it back immediately out of T2 as I had promised myself that I would take the first mile easy. Well, that extended for about the first 3mi as I was having some issues in the first part of the run. Thankfully I didn't give up any other spots. Out at the turnaround I started feeling good. I had picked up one spot on an uphill, and gotten a gel at an aid station and things were beginning to feel good. On the way home in the "Energy Lab" we had a tailwind and this made for the hottest part of the run. I mad a deal with myself to just hold pace and once off that stretch (about mile 8), I would try and pick it up. I lived up to my end of the bargain, made it hurt, picked up another spot, negative split the run, and brought it home with the tank on empty.

Total: 4:11:08

I cracked into the Top 10 in the Pro field for the 1st time and I set a new (non-Clearwater) Half Ironman PR. I am happy with my race.

Maybe even more so than with the actual results, I am happy with how much, and what I learned in this race. I kept the throttles down even when I was hurting and wanting to pull back, and I had the Dirkinator's "You MUST make it HURT!!" running through my head all day.

However, I probably learned the most from the fortitude, perserverence and toughness
exhibited not by myself, but by Charisa. She came off a rough swim and a medium bike, to run herself into and through an IMMENSE amount of pain, and more than half the women's field! 16th to 6th with the 2nd fastest female run split (that makes 2 races in a row!). She could have easily chalked it up to a bad day in TOUGH conditions and compromised, and nobody would have known she didn't give it her all. But she didn't. She knew she had more to give, and she knew that SHE would know she didn't leave it all out there. Her performance was gritty and inspiring. Coming into the finish I could see her determination. Hugging her after, I could literally feel that she had pushed herself right up to the brink. Her body was shaking and wavering, but she was grinning from ear to ear. Inspiring and AWESOME!
I owe some big "Thank You" shout outs to those who make this racing thing possible. Zoot for making some incredible apparel and shoes and for standing behind their products and athletes. Blue Competition Cycles for building great bikes and putting performance and reliability foremost in their minds, ahead of the "bottom line." for making all the essentials literally a point a click away. PowerBar for making top of the line fuel for the human machine (next time I'll use more) and Steve, Miguel and the crew at Palos Verdes Bicycle Center for keeping my rig running in top form with little or no down time. Having confidence that one's equipment will perform as it is supposed to, day in and day out, is indescribably HUGE. I am beyond fortunate to enjoy the support of companies and individuals who pride themselves on ensuring just that. THANK YOU!

Next up the first BIG one... Ironman Lake Placid!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big Country

In a few hours I am off to the land of everything BIG, Texas, for Buffalo Springs 70.3. Another stacked mens field (Crowie, Terrenzo, Lieto, etc...) with what could be some interesting weather (read: HOT & Sticky).

I made a purchase this week of a new digital camera, so hopefully I will have some good pics to post on here from now on, thus saving you from my usual verbosity.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things the Interweb doesn't tell you

For several months now I have followed a little man by the name of Kiet Tran's blog. We became FB friends (which really means we are like brothers right?), and discussed triathlon and other issues via e-mail. In short, when he decided to come down this weekend to SD to train with Charisa (our meeting followed nearly identical lines) it felt like I already "knew" him.

So it was pretty funny when after about an hour of hanging out, I realized that I had been pronouncing his name wrong since I first read it. In my head (as well as Charisa's and Bree's), his name was Kiet (Keet). In reality, its Kiet (Key-ette) or something like that. But the guy is cool enough that he doesn't care. Charisa and I had to ask him how to say it properly. His response: "However you want to say it is fine. I know you're talking to me." Pretty classic. Apparently Bree refuses to pronounce it properly and just refers to him as Keet or Pinoy. Things that the Internet can't teach you.

Pronunciation lessons wasn't all that went on this weekend. There was some baking, some riding, some caffinating, some running and lots of laughing.

For a pictorial recap click here and for an AWESOME video that Kiet put together, click here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New training

I am off to SD again this weekend, but with Boise just a week ago and Buffalo Springs just a week away, we are doing a new sort of training.

Some new peeps will be along for the ride as well. Keit is down from up north and though his sabatical is over, he isn't quite ready to let it go just yet. And Charisa's homestay friends from Boise, Brian and Teidji (T-G), are paying back the visit and joining us. I am probably most happy to report that Kevin is back on the train as well. His back is all healed up and he is ready to roll.

Should be fun.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boise 70.3

Its taken me a while to get around to writing this race report. I was anything but pleased with my performance last Saturday, and I didn't want to pen a report that sounded like a whining little school girl. I still don't. So excuse (or welcome) the brevity hereof, I figured I would save you the dramatics.

Swim: 26:54
I started off pretty good and was actually happy with my ability to hold with the lead of the pack for the longest time I have yet. I was thinking this could be the start of an good day. I was wrong. About 500m in I blew up. Ended up swimming the 2nd half alone. My swim sucked. I got caught and passed by Julie Dibbens.

Bike: 2:23
In my head I had set a goal of riding 2:15. I got on my bike, and my friend and guy who continues to dominate me in these races (I'm 0-3 against him), Nicholas Thompson, immediately passed me. Others soon followed suit. I struggled along for the whole ride. The wind, the heat, the course, none of it was an issue or an excuse. I just couldn't put down any power. I was barely able to catch Julie before the end.
Thanks to Sue Hutter for the photos of me piddling along.

Run: 1:25
I went out on the run right with Nick from above. He promptly dropped me at about mile 2. Just like in the bike, others followed suit. I actually felt halfway decent for much of the run, I just couldn't find that "next gear."
End of 1st lap
Start of 2nd lap
Coach Dirkenator emphasizing exactly how slow I was
At least its over

This week and next are a somewhat strange combo of recovery, training & tapering for Buffalo Springs 70.3 on June 27th. Here's hoping for a much better day in Texas.

Thanks to all those who make it possible: Zoot,, Blue, Powerbar & PV Bike Center. I hope to redeem myself and do you proud soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boise Bound

I am off today to Potato Country for Ironman Boise 70.3.

My last trip to Idaho went pretty well, so I am hoping the great state will treat me kindly again.

Really, given my training of late, I am not exactly sure what to expect from this race. Coach Dirkinator has a "Grand Plan" in his head that I know doesn't include having me at my best for this race, but I think that is in fact, part of the plan. Judging by the directions he has given me as far as race strategy for Saturday, that thought is seeming right on.

It shall be interesting. Another chance to mix it up with the big boys (at least as long as I can hold on).


Tuesday, June 8, 2010


That is how I felt much of last weekend, also where I spent a fair amount of my time.

Due to my race schedule, the 5 weeks between Wildflower and Boise was some of the only time I would have to really put in the volume for the Ironmans I plan to do this year. Typically, I do 4 week blocks (3 hard training, 1 recovery), but the aforementioned 5 week gap, plus the 2 weeks between Boise and Buffalo Springs, meant that I would be doing my first ever 5 week block (4 hard training, 1 recovery/taper) leading into Boise. This way I avoided too much recovery time before and between Boise and BS.

At first I didn't think it would be that bad. I made it through the first 3 weeks and felt like I normally did after a 3 week build. The second day of the 4th week it hit me. HARD. As usual, the weeks built one upon the other, so the 4th week was the biggest and I felt it. In particular, the final 3 days had a bright red circle around them in my mind. The weekend would provide the finishing touch on the entire block and I therefore viewed them as being very important to execute.

I won't bore you with details, but provide a few highlights of the weekend:
1. Friday I set a new swim PR. It was my birthday, my 30th, and I had a 2hr swim on the schedule. So I figured something special was in order. Super swimmer Hillary Biscay, who recently earned her Kona slot the HARD way at IM Brazil a week after IM Lanzarote, agreed to provide a little "guest coaching" and designed a birthday swim set for me. My first ever 100 x 100. So Friday afternoon, after a morning run and climbing party on the bike, I hit the pool. 10,000yds later, I had myself a new swim volume PR. It was amazing how fast it actually went by, and I give all credit and "Thanks" to Hillary for designing an awesome set.

2. Saturday morning, I found myself back in the pool for back-to-back masters workouts. I thought I was going to drown. I made it, and hit the road for a long ride. On the way home, I ran into a cyclist who politely asked if I wanted to trade pulls back down PCH. I said I was just trying to stay steady and he asked if I wouldn't mind if he just hung on the back. *Side Note* It is very refreshing when someone actually asks if they can take your wheel. Sometimes its a pretty rude surprise when I am riding along, sit up and realize a guy is 3" off my wheel. I've had some close calls, so it was nice to have him ask. I digress. About 25min later, I grabbed a bar from my jersey and my company asked if I wanted him to take a pull. Sure. Thats when my ride went from steady & moderate, to "choking on my pancreas". This guy did NOT need a pull. I was doing all I could to hold his wheel on the flat. We hit a climb and he started pulling away, I got out of the saddle and was giving it all to keep in touch, when I saw my watts closing in on 500, I knew it was time to let go. Off he went. He ended up sitting up and waiting for me and we had an awesome talk. Turns out he is a pro cyclist from the Isle of Man, and grew up riding, and is "good mates" with Mark Cavendish. No FREAKING wonder he nearly ripped my legs off! He is over here training for a series of races in Europe and the dude hammered me each time he took a pull on the way home. Just under 110mi and I made it back about 20mins faster than I expected.

3. Saturday night: Another first, I had a surprise party. A bunch of my friends surprised me by showing up for an awesome dinner in Hermosa Beach. I was legitimately surprised too. I had no idea. I think the training had taken its toll on my brain. Seriously, maybe the best birthday celebration I have ever had.

4. Sunday: Another PR. My longest brick ever clocked in at just a bit under 9hrs complete with 130mi and over 10,000ft of climbing on the bike. When all was said and done I was totally SHELLED! I had some definite rough moments out there and I chalk it up to working on my mental toughness. Alot goes through your head during a 9hr day when you are on your own, and at the end of a big block. I struggled through the rough patches, refrained from just throwing myself in the Pacific, and was stoked I did when I realized the weekend was complete.

Now it is time to recover, rest and taper for Boise. I am not sure 5 days will really give me a chance to rebound, but it will be another good toughening up experience if nothing else.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It happened.

A couple weeks ago I was staring a big training weekend in the face and it was looking as though I would be doing it alone. But a local marathon, an unexpected masters workout and some met-while-riding company on the bike saved me from the lonely fate.

This weekend I was not so lucky. Solo, for the most part, happened. I started the weekend off with a quick morning run before heading to masters. Much to my good fortune, the second workout, which was IM last I swam it (I don't do IM), was free on Saturday, so the 2hr swim went by much faster getting to swim with friends the whole time.

After the swim it was time for some breakfast/pre run #2 fueling. When I hit the road back home from Santa Monica, I planned on running pretty much right when I got back. But things came up, and I didn't end up starting my run until about 1:45. Hottest part of the day. I chalked it up to good training as I will be running at that time come Ironman Lake Placid. At the turn around 1:30 into the run, I was regretting it big time. The plan called for 45min of tempo to end the run. I had a steadfast fear of that section. For about 42min, I thought it might kill me. I ended my run at my grandma's house because my cousin was in town & I was hoping I could see him, but I missed him. What I didn't miss was quite possibly the most refreshing shower I have ever taken. And when I say "shower" (Maggs you will love this), I mean me sitting in a lawn chair and my uncle spraying me down with a garden hose. It was glorious.

That run, brought me to a new mileage PR. I have never run farther in a single day than the 26.2mi of a marathon, but with both runs, I ticked off just a bit over 28mi on Saturday. My fatigue and fear of Sunday's ride prevented me from being too happy about it. After an incredible dinner, I slept like a rock until the alarm sounded for the Sunday ride.

Charisa and Kevin are pretty much my only friends training for an Ironman right now, and as I wasn't down in SD this weekend, I knew I wasn't going to find anyone to tackle this ride with me. Surprisingly, my legs didn't feel as bad as I feared they would and the first climb went by quickly. This was the view I got at the start of the second climb:
From the famous Latigo Canyon Road

About 10mins after I took this shot a motorcyclist passed me going up the windy road. About 30mins later an ambulance and a paramedic truck passed me and stopped just around the next bend. Turns out the motorcyclist tried to pass some cars and lost it, sending him over the guardrail and down the cliff/hill. I stopped and saw he was hung up in some bushes was still alive. That makes it 2 motorcycle crashes I have come upon in as many weeks. At least this guy lived and I didn't have to see another dead body like last week.

After the descent, and a fluid refill there was another climb bookended by some coastal riding. This was from the start of the last real climb of the day.

From the summit of the last climb, which is actually the back side of the second climb:

7hrs & 45mins, 131mi and ~11,000ft of climbing, BANKED! And all I had to show for it was some dirty legs.

This week is the last big week in this 4 week block. Then its recover/taper time for Boise 70.3. The plan scared me when I first saw it, and I have been looking at this week with dread for a while now. It seems even more daunting as I get into it today. I just hope I come out the other side in one piece.