Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bouncing Around

In all the hustle, bustle and focus of the racing season, I often realize that I don't have the time to really appreciate the beauty of some of the places my job takes me. Yes I snap a few pictures here and there, but often times some amazing scenery flies by before I can really comprehend the incredible beauty in wherein I often find my "offiice." Immersed in my powermeter, engaged in the work, I miss much of nature's splendor.

A few days ago I had a lunch with an athlete I coach and found myself, down in Manhattan Beach, with free Christmas Parking and some time to kill. It was a beautiful day in my old stomping grounds, so I decided to take it all in for a while. The luxuries and the "offseason" and the silver lining of an injury.

Manhattan Beach, CA. Where I lived for 3.5yrs during my final year of law school and first years of practice, and where I took up triathlon. The hill in the background is Palos Verdes, CA the land of my childhood.

For a while I was content to sit, walk a bit, and snap some photos. But soon, the taunting and peer pressure heard in the footfalls of passing runners rose to an unbearable level. I hadn't technically been cleared to run, but I just NEEDED to. A part of me needed to feel it again, to take in this powerful scenery with a pounding heart. So I ran. And it was liberating. Exactly what I needed.

The next day I boarded a plane bound for the opposite coast. On tap was a visit with my nearly life long best friend who I have spent countless hours on the beaches above with in my life. He and his lovely new fiance moved out here in July, came and watched me race Lake Placid, and I haven't seen them since. A visit was needed.

Friday morning I woke with antsy feet and a run route in my inbox from a caring friend who knew I needed it. It was windy and cold, but I was excited to take in what the landscape had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised.
Heading out onto Tod's Pointe in Old Greenwich, CT.

From the Southern tip of the Pointe you can see the New York City skyline

The contrast between the white-capped waters of the south side and the slate like calm to the east was striking.

The final portion of the trail along a nice long sandy beach

For a few reasons, this proved to be one of the best runs of my life. One I am sure I will look back on in the years to come with great reverence. It is great to be running again. Taking it all in.

I hope you all are fortunate enough to find the time this holiday season to "stop and smell the roses."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Gift

Yesterday I went to the doctor for a follow up appointment for my shoulder. After further inspection of the X-Rays and talking with his colleagues, the good Doctor told me his recommendation was not to operate and treat my separated shoulder with aggressive physical therapy instead. I was elated. I almost hugged him but refrained, thinking that might make for an awkward doctor/patient scenario.

To me, this was the best Christmas gift I could receive.

On an entirely different note, I have been asked a few times in the past few weeks what a good gift would be for a triathlete in the family.

Since most of us can't give someone a favorable medical diagnosis like I was fortunate enough to receive, or at least not one anyone should give any credence to, I figured I would try and spread a little triathlon goodwill and make a gift idea list for those of you who may be shopping for a triathlete this Holiday season. So without further ado, here are some products I use, think highly of and would recommend for any triathlete.

It is winter. It stays dark later and gets dark earlier. It is cold. But none of those are valid excuses not to get our runs in. And lets face it, running when uncomfortable... Sucks. So here are some ideas for some great winter run gear from Zoot. The Kalani is a groundbreaking (no pun intended) high mileage trainer perfect for logging the winter miles. This is the shoe I do almost all my longer training runs in. Along with shoes, the winter weather calls for some coverups and the XOTHERM run jacket and tight
will stand up to the cold.

After a year or two of logging countless miles on the road, especially after the summer heat has come and gone, helmets can begin to get a little funky. Not to mention that UV Rays are helmet foam's biggest enemy, next to violent road meetings that is. By far the lightest and most comfortable helmet I've ever worn, the Specialized Prevail will meet the standards of any cyclist or triathlete.
If you have a very special or deserving triathlete in mind, then he or she will be incredibly stoked on a set of these
The Reynolds 66 wheelset is a versatile high performance setup perfect for almost any race course.

Winter doesn't exactly mean no sun. Further, while riding eye protection is a top priority. SPY+ Optics has a great line of casual and performance shades. The Alpha is my favorite from the performance lineup. They combine great looks, fantastic lenses and are extremely lightweight which makes them great for riding and running. The commando kit comes with three lenses for all conditions. The perfect setup.

For those of you looking to fill some stocking gift vacancies, the following ideas are perfect.

Even though its cold, we still need to stay hydrated on the longer winter runs. FuelBelt released its Revenge Series this year and it is fantastic. The Revenge series of belts features plastic molded flask holders that allow for easy one-handed entry. I don't do a run over an hour without one.

Staying in the hydration department, putting in the base miles on the bike will require some serious fluid intake. While I used to think a water bottle was simply that, a water bottle, and all were the same, that changed when I used the Purist. The Purist Hydroflow is an ergonomically shaped, highly flexible, BPA free bottle that has an interior coating that protects from both color and taste stains. Possibly the coolest feature of the Purist is the spout that prevents all leaking or spilling. Just squeeze. 

Since there are gonna be some long rides in the saddle for most of us this winter, keeping the undercarriage happy is paramount. An ISM Saddle will do the job. I haven't found a more comfortable saddle.

No matter how comfortable a saddle is, hours on hours will take its toll unless proper care is taken. And lets face it, even the finest machines need lube. DZnuts, as the name hints, was developed by Dave Zarbriskie, the US Time Trial Champion, who has logged ALOT of time in the saddle. It is the best chamois lube I have found.
Finally, while the winter isn't an excuse to totally slack off. It is a time for a little more rest and relaxation than the in season months will permit. For those triathletes like myself who may not be blessed with the worlds most hyperactive of metabolisms, this means its a time to watch the intake. PowerBar provides a product that is perfect for these times. Keeping hunger at bay with its higher protein content, while keeping carbs and sugar low, PowerBar Protein Plus Bites are the perfect winter snack.
I hope the foregoing list helps some of you out.

If you buy at don't forget to use coupon code IMIKE-S to save yourself some dough.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cozumel: The Dust

As any of you who read my last post pre Ironman Cozumel could tell, I went into this race with high expectations of myself and looking to occupy one of the top steps on the podium when all was said and done. I was not expecting to record my first career DNF and certainly not in such grand fashion. Here is how it all shook out.

On Tuesday of race week I traveled to Cozumel with good friend and roommate for the past 7 weeks, Chris Mcdonald. All was going well including no bike fee on the way down and we settled into our accommodations, built bikes, shook out the legs and arms, and hit the grocery. The week was rather uneventful and probably the most restful week I have ever had leading into a race. If we were not training, or walking to the grocery, I was just sitting in bed surfing the temperamental internet. I was feeling fat, a bit sluggish in training, and a bit tired. So things appeared right on track ;-)

Race day came and we hit the warm waters with plenty of time for a descent warm up. I picked a spot dead in the middle of the lineup with a straight shot down the buoy line. My swimming had been going well, and I was determined not to get stuck behind a break or to get popped off the front group as I had in Hawaii. I hadn't worked as hard as I had in the pool to let that happen again. So I took my middle spot and hit it hard from the gun. A couple hundred yards into the swim two packs had formed side by side and separated by 20ft or so. Soon those packs came together and it got a bit rough for a minute. There were some strong swimmers in the field with Mathias Hecht, Brandon Marsh and some others. So I knew holding those guys was not going to happen. Eventually they broke away and I found myself on the feet of a solid swimmer, at the front of the first chase group. I made it around the first turn without issue and was feeling good heading into the second turn before the long back stretch. It was at this corner that I got what in hindsight would prove to be a little foreshadowing of how my day would unfold. A kayaker had chosen to park himself just on the other side of the 2nd buoy out of sight to approaching swimmers. I went around the buoy and was abruptly stopped dead in my tracks when my head met the bottom of the kayak. I was a little dazed but adrenaline and a seething desire to stay on those feet propelled me onward. Once back on, we put in a few surges and distanced ourselves from the remainder of the pack forming a three man chase pack. The remainder of the swim was uneventful, and the back stretch being so long, gave me the feeling that maybe we were not swimming all that well. Upon exit however, I was very happy to see a 47:25 on the clock and hear a split of only a little over a minute to the front group of 8 or so. Onto the bike and out of transition I saw a clock reading 49:XX and was fired up to be on the road in under 50mins. Yes, the Cozumel swim is fast!

Onto the road I was feeling good and immediately made a pass or two. Since Kona my coach, Paulo Sousa, had been drilling into my head the lessons that I learned in that race. In our pre race discussions he harped on those lessons and gave me strict instructions that I was to disobey at my peril. I rode steady, within the plan, and about 30mins in I was caught by a group of Chris Mcdonald and eventual winner on the day, Michael Lovato. I did my best to stay with the group and within my plan but doing both would soon prove impossible. The back side of the island is completely exposed and we had some fierce cross winds, the likes of which I've never encountered before. About halfway down the stretch, when Chris went to the front, I and a few others could no longer maintain contact. I rode the remainder of the 1st lap trying to close the gap to a few others up the road and started the second lap near Brandon Marsh and Zack Ruble.

Soon after hitting the windy section of the second lap I realized the wind had died a little bit and would allow me to focus in on my power meter and "ride numbers" all the way down the stretch. I did, and managed to get a break on the guys I had been trading passes with before. Shortly before the end of the long straight section back to town I bridged back up to Chris. We were heading back into town together and I was feeling great. We were just south of 3hrs and I felt a 3rd lap around 1:30 was well within reach. I knew that Michael couldn't have been that far up the road and that if we brought him back, and I could hold on for the third lap, that getting off the bike with the likes of Chris and Michael would put me in great position. In the first turn back in town however, that excitement and positive energy was instantly decimated and replaced by sorrow and disgust.  

Entering into the hard left turn there was a age grouper on our right so I took a tighter line into the corner. Entering the turn I hit a bump that Chris, who had a front row seat for the debacle, said just unweighted my front wheel enough that when the weight came back down, while in a turn, simply snapped the front wheel to the left and I went over the bars. I comleted a half somersault and landed ever so gracefully on my head and left shoulder. I remember sliding across the street, coming to rest near the exit of the turn, and immediately being concerned about getting hit by other riders. It is with great gratitude that the first face I saw was Chris, unbuckling my helmet and holding me still. The fact that he had stopped, in the middle of what was setting up to be a good race for him, shows exactly what type of competitor, friend, and person he is.

Once I cleared my head, I realized that in a matter of seconds the medical team was on site. I must send a HUGE thank you to the Cozumel med team who provided top notch care in such rapid fashion. I quickly took inventory and realized there was no blood, my legs were working, and my shorts were still intact. I stood up and walked over to my bike and saw it had escaped rather unscathed as well. For a brief moment I thought "I'm still in this thing!" Fortunately Chris saw exactly what I was thinking. He also saw my shoulder which I had neglected until that point. He put his hand on my bike, looked at me and said "Ian, you're done." while making a cut throat motion with his other hand. It was then I realized my left shoulder had a rather large protrusion coming out the top of it. At that moment it set in that the great race I was having, was done. To say I was upset is an understatement. I was also concerned about recovery and what it would mean for next season. 

Long story made slightly less long. I was whisked off to the hospital, an X-ray was taken and fortunately the broken collarbone I had resigned myself to, was not to be. Rather, it is a separation of the clavicle and I am not in nearly as bad of sorts as I would have been had it broken.

Only adding to the disappointment of the weekend, the bad luck was not visited upon only one resident of room 204. Only 15mins later, Chris struck a volunteer who had run out into the road to pick of a stray bottle and ended his day when his face had an abrupt meeting with the street at 26mph resulting in some nice battle woulds and a soundly concussed melon.

I am back in the States and within the confines of home sweet home California getting some excellent care for the shoulder which looks a little like this at the moment.

I returned from the hospital, to find Chris nursing his wounds and we had a little post race debrief. It was then that I finally discovered the nice battle mark on the top of my head courtesy of the kayak from the swim. Injury to insult. Clearly this was not the end to my 2011 season that I was hoping for. But with this line of work comes the inherent risk that such fates will be met. The positive is that it could not have happened at a better time.

I am still in the early stages of diagnosis and treatment but things are shaping up well and all signs point to a fairly speedy return to 100%. For that I am very thankful.

I owe an extreme debt of gratitude to Chris for stopping to help me out, for playing nurse, packing my bike and lugging my gear around from Mexico all the way home. All the while, dealing with injuries of his own.

I also owe a big Thank You to my sponsors:

Zoot: I'm pretty bummed I didn't get to bust out the TT 4.0s on the Cozumel course as I am positive the drainage and light weight would have given me a one up on the competition in the wet conditions.

Specialized: Thanks for building some amazing bikes for me to wreck ;-) On a serious note, I did a number on my TT helmet and it did its job. It is much worse for it, but my noggin is not!

Reyonlds Wheels: The wheels were working in awesome fashion as usual until I decided to try and ride them upside down. I promise to remember "Rubber Side DOWN" in the future ;-) Thanks for another year enjoying your awesome support and service.  Nobody stocks more or get it to you faster. Use coupon code IMIKE-S for a nice discount

Powerbar: As usual, race day nutrition was dialed and working to perfection. I had the power to push for the first 3:50, unfortunately not the ability after that point.

SPY+: Training and racing with your shades has been great. And even when busted up I still got comments on the casual shades. Awesome stuff. 

PVBC: Even from afar, it is great to know you have my back and racing with your support adds a great deal of confidence.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The End is Near

The cannon for Ironman Cozumel fires in less than 48hrs.

As anyone who has read my blog through the year knows, 2011 has been a up and down year for me from a racing perspective. There have been some highs, but some definite lows as well. Ironman Cozumel will close the books on 2011 and I am looking to do so on a high note.

I have been here since Tuesday and seen much of the course as the ride consists of 3 laps of only 60K and the run is right outside our hotel door. It is flat, but the heat, humidity and wind will CERTAINLY make it a challenge. Maybe an equally grand challenge will be to keep my focus on racing while passing scenery like this:
I mean... come on. Look at that!
But I will do my best to put on the blinders, batten down the hatches and go for it on Sunday.

I want to take a moment to say a big Thank YOU! to all of you who have followed along with my racing and offered such great support all year. It has been a humbling year in many ways, and having been the recipient of so much support from so many has been overwhelming at times.

So Sunday it is. Lets Roll.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poor Practice

The title of this post is in reference to the lack of new information on this blog. It is indeed, a poor practice.

To recap real quick, upon leaving the Big Island, I flew home to LA for a few quick days, then hit the friendly skies again, landing in Denver and making my way back to Boulder.  I retrieved my car and after a quick 36hrs or so, got out before the snow and spent the next two days driving to Tucson (by way of a night sleeping in my car in a New Mexico parking lot), to begin my training for Ironman Arizona and enjoy the generous hospitality of my friends Chris & Marilyn Mcdonald. That was somewhere around a month ago.

Since that time, some plans have changed. In fact, on my first long ride since Kona, I began to feel the weight of another Ironman looming just four weeks down the road. Chris was due to race on November 5th in South Africa, but the race had been abruptly cancelled, leaving him with a great deal of built up fitness and nowhere to express it. Fortunately, he still had time to register for Ironman Cozumel and his sights were once again set. The thought of an extra week to get ready, the opportunity to travel with a friend, and lets face it, cold blended adult beverages on a tropical beach to end my season all combined to sound pretty good at that point in time. I mean... come on...
Insert frosty beverage above
Since that decision was made I have been absorbed in getting ready for the day with the goal of my best Ironman performance to date in my crosshairs. Save a few minor hiccups in the bounce back from Kona, training has gone well. Having a friend immersed in the same pursuit has made the preparation for a late season Ironman a little easier, and much more fun, so I owe a big THANK YOU to Chris and Marilyn for their hospitality and support.

I must say however, that while I am happy to be heading to Cozumel (never been before), with IM AZ just days away, I find myself just a tad bummed not to be racing. I had a great time racing Arizona last year and was really looking forward to racing it again with so many friends and family racing and spectating.

That said, I will be heading up to Tempe to cheer on some great friends including Zoot and teammate Charisa "CBB" Wernick who will be capping off her great 2011 season with what I am sure will be an awesome day out in Tempe. I am also excited to see fellow Specialized rider and Zooter Jordan Rapp take on the course he dominated in 2009 and hopefully take his title back. Finally, there is a battle brewing between teammate Leanda Cave and the owner of our great sponsor, Seton Claggett. A bet has been made, the terms of which are yet to be revealed, and it should be great fun to watch this battle unfold.

So if you are out in Tempe this Sunday, cheer hard, have fun and say "hi" if you see me bumbling around.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I am pleased to announce that I recently gained the support of SPY+ Optics.

SPY+ has been producing high quality, fashionable eyewear for some time now and has recently begun producing performance focused sunglasses that are great for running and cycling. The knowledge and experience the designers at SPY have from their ski/snowboard and motocross goggle production is evident and has resulted in some great shades like the Alpha.

I am excited to have the support of an experienced eyewear company behind me and to have the opportunity to work firsthand with a company that is dedicated to developing a top of the line performance eyewear range.

And lets be honest, their casual shades are awesome.

Check out the SPY+ website and see for yourself.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The 2011 Ironman World Championships is in the books and I am happy to say my name appears in that book.

After every race this season I have come to post on this blog and express my discontent with my performance at each race. It is a rare day indeed in our sport when all three disciplines come off without a hitch, and everything just "falls into place." That kind of day is not something you can go looking for. It may happen a few times in a career, or never at all. I haven't been looking for one of those days, just a day where I am content with each aspect of my race. For every race this season, that is all I wanted. To have a race where I could sit back at the end of the day and say, "I can live with that." Kona finally provided that satisfaction. The following is my race report.

Race Morning came and I found myself feeling rather relaxed. All was going smooth until I started to set up my bike. I put my fuel for the bike in one bottle and as I was putting that bottle on my bike, I dropped it. The top popped off and out spilled my fuel. I told myself to just stay calm, find a volunteer, see if I could get a towel to clean it up as it was all under my bike and Matt Reed's and find some gels. I got a towel and got it cleaned up and Matt was very mellow about the mess I created. The replacement gels however, were a bit harder to come by. Thankfully, one of the awesome volunteers came up HUGE for me. He took my bottle and said "you've got a race to prepare for. Go swim, don't worry about this shit. It will be on your bike when you go out." I cannot thank this guy enough. He is a HUGE part of my day. Luis is the man!

I got in the water 15mins before the start, got in a nice solid warm up, and felt good. I lined up a little to the left, next to Rasmus knowing he would go out strong. At the gun I jumped right on his feet and was amazed at how calm and nice the start was. About 100m in that changed. We merged with another group and it got pretty rough. I was able to hang in the first group however and was pretty comfortable with the pace. Coming to the first turn buoy, I knew the pace would pick up, and I was ready for it. I felt the surge starting, put my head down and went for it. Unfortunately, while doing so, I swam off the feet in front of me and off to the left. I have seen first hand on previous occasions just how fast a gap can open if you let it, but this was a new level. I got just a few feet off to the left of the group and was popped off. The gap opened with astonishing speed despite my all out effort to close it back up. I was off the back and there was nothing I could do. Some others met a similar fate and we formed what became the second pack. From there on in I swam very comfortably, and saw 53:45 on the clock. I was actually surprised as it felt longer and was content.
Photo Courtesy: Shawn Henry

I managed to stay with the guys I exited the water with through transition and was out on the bike with Michael Lovato, Jan Raphel and Cam Brown. Immediately we all began to push hard to try and bridge up.
Courtesy Kerry Yndestad

I had no idea how far back I was, but knew I wanted to go with the group. Onto the Queen K for the little stint before Palani, and I got a split, 2:20 up to the main group. I knew the guys I was with were gunning to try and catch that group. The power was way too high though, and I knew closing a gap of 2:20, even if I could, would come at way too high a price, so I had to stick to my plan. Doing so meant that I rode probably 85% of the ride, totally on my own. 

One of the main goals for me in this race was to "learn about the pro race" and that meant riding with the group. I was bummed to realize ten minutes into the ride that I would miss that lesson. Back onto the Queen K I just tried to get into a zone and ride it. I hoped maybe the front group would split and I could catch the back half of it, but that was not to be. Then I narrowly avoided yet another nutrition disaster. I went to take a pull off my fuel bottle and the top popped off. Gel went all over me and my bike but I stayed upright and ust had to slow down and screw the cap back on. I was a sticky mess however, and at nearly every aid station from then on I was taking a literal shower.

For some portion of the climb to Hawi I had company, but after Special Needs I was back on my own. The final 15mi of the ride proved to be the toughest for me, with energy and power tumbling. I was again content to stop the clock at 4:45.

The last time I raced here in 2009 I went out way too fast. So my goal was to be conservative and just try and hold 6:50s for the run. Once I got rolling I checked my Garmin and it told me I was running 8:50s. I knew this was off and this is why I find it so hard to run according to the "current pace" function on the Garmin. So I held the same tempo until the first mile split came up a 6:25. I knew I needed to slow down.

All the way out to the turn my mile splits kept climbing but stayed under the 6:55 mark. I was on track. Shortly after the turn around on Alli'i I began to feel very bloated and got some "slosh-belly."  I decided to take in pretty much only water from mile 6 back to the base of Palani in the hopes of clearing it out. This was a very rough section of the course for me.

Once I hit the top of Palani and got the breeze in my face my stomach was feeling better, but the 5-6 miles of running without any calories began to take its toll. My energy was waning and I knew I had to start taking on fuel again. I chose not to make use of the pro fluids tables this year as it was totally foreign to me. I did run with a Fuel Belt however and was happy I did as it allowed me to slowly take in calories rather than trying to down as much as I could at each aid station. Right around Kona Mountain Coffee I caught my second wind and I began to feel better but the splits weren't falling all that much. Into the Energy Lab I saw that there were several guys within my reach and I knew if I held it together I could pick up a few spots. The heat on the course was getting to me, and staying as cool as possible became a big objective. Once out of the lab I tried to simply let my legs go and concentrated on keeping the cadence high. I slowed to a walk at several aid stations in order to get ice and fluids. I knew this would cost me the sub 3 hour run split I was shooting for, but thought not doing so might leave me in dire straights.

 I had been chasing Matt Reed since coming out of the Energy Lab but it was at the bottom of "Mark & Dave Hill" that I really began to push to catch him. I ran the hill hard, flirting with blowing up and rounded the corner onto Palani with Matt only a few meters up. Letting my legs roll down the hill hurt, but I didn't know if Matt would come with me or not and I didn't want to find myself in a duel. Once I made the turn I saw the gap had formed and was slightly relieved but that was short lived. Jan Rafel was in sight and a friend yelled to me that the gap to him was 8 seconds.

I didn't know what place I was in, I knew there was no money in it, but I just didn't want to get beat by 8 seconds. So again I pushed hard, with "pins n needles" I passed Jan at the turn just before Alli'i Drive and kept running hard, again fearing he would come with me. It wasn't until I hit the carpet that I allowed myself to look back and see where Jan was. To my great relief, there was a gap, and I allowed myself to relax a bit. I hadn't worn a watch with total time for the race and really had no idea what it was. I looked up as I approached the line and saw 8:48 n change on the clock. I was happy. Not so much with the time, but just to be done and to be crossing the most hallowed finish line in our sport. Not much compares to crossing the line here in Kona. The feeling is electric to say the least.

I stayed away from putting a time goal on this race. I wanted to simply put together 3 solid efforts, and learn from the day. I wanted to swim with the 1st group, I wanted to ride in the mix, and I wanted to run sub 3. I fell short of each of these goals, however, I wasn't far off and for the first time this season, I feel I finally put together 3 "decent" performances and thus, I am again content with the day on the whole. There is work to be done, and much progress to be made, but at least I am seeing the signs.

I need to send out a big "Mahalo" to all those who supported me leading up to, and on race day. The crowd support at this race is like no other, but to have so many people shouting my name was simply incredible. And to all those who offered words of encouragement or congratulations through text, e-mail, twitter and facebook, Thank You all very much. If I didn't get back to you individually, please know that I did get your message and it was appreciated greatly. Time and again I am humbled by the support that people have offered, and this race was no exception. It means a great deal to me and I thank you for it.

I also need to thank my incredible sponsors and supporters, some of whom went above and beyond for this race.

Zoot : Being a part of the Zoot family is truly incredible. The gear is incredible, but the family and support is second to none. Having you guys out on the course going nuts was awesome and I can't thank you enough.

Specialized: My Shiv TT was great. Darth Vader ran without flaw all day.  An incredible bike aside, I had a few issues when my poor tubular gluing skills came to light and I am confident my day would have gone much differently if it wasn't for the amazing help I got pre race from the Specialized mechanics. Thanks Jeff, I still owe you big time. This kind of support is priceless.

Reynolds: The 81s performed flawlessly and were a stellar choice. Having the freedom to pick a wheel and run with it is a great confidence builder going into the race and I thank you for making a great product and standing behind the performance capabilities of every wheel you produce.

PowerBar: Of the nearly roughly 3,500 calories that I consumed on race day, I would say 2500 of those came from PowerBar products. Gels, gel blasts, Perform, and bars, they all went down easy and fueled the fire allowing me to keep at it into the late stages of the day. Getting to Kona prepared and healthy is half the battle. The service and expediency thereof that you provide is a valuable asset in training for the day. I don't think it could get any easier, and that is a HUGE bonus.

Palos Verdes Bicycle Center: Knowing you guys have my equipment dialed in and ready to roll takes a heap of a headache off my plate and is a great help that I appreciate to no end. Its great to work with such great people.

I also need to thank Brian from PBN Nutrition for spending a good deal of time helping me dial in my nutrition plan. Knowing that I wasn't just "winging it" and that my calories and electrolyte plan had been expertly designed gave me confidence and let me not worry about it on race day.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Exciting Stuff

I am sure all of you are aware, but it has been a big week full of exciting news. The new iPhone 4S was debuted!!

On a side note, the triathlon world is "Full Throttle" right now with the Ironman World Championships taking place this Saturday on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was fortunate enough to secure a spot and will be sporting bib # 47 on Saturday, taking it for a 140.6 mile tour around the waters, roads and lava fields of Kona.

I arrived Saturday after a quick stint back home and have been blessed with some great friends who have allowed me to set up camp at their Hawaiian home.

The island has its usual spectacular sights, sounds, smells and tastes, but somehow, Ironman just seems to add a surge of electricity to the place that makes it that much more invigorating. I have been pleased with my training and preparation and minus a few small hiccups, my stay here so far has been perfect.

I really cannot put into words how excited I am to line up and race this course again on Saturday. The usual press and media explosion surrounding Kona has been elevated to a new level this year with the new points system and reduction in pro slots. Adding only further fuel to the fire was the unveiling of the "Shiv Tri" by my sponsor Specialized. The bike is INSANE and it was announced on Tuesday that it will be under one of the greatest in the game, heavy favorite, Craig Alexander, on race day. I will not be aboard the new Specialized triathlon flagship, but could not be happier with the way my ShivTT has come together and how the bike has performed in training. Darth Vader will be breaking in his racing wings on Saturday and I am confident they will fly strong.

On that note I would like to take a moment to thank all my sponsors who, quite simply, have made my being here possible. I have been getting a few questions re my race set up, equipment, nutrition, etc... and I thought it would be good to detail it out here, so that you all can see and if interested, ask any questions.

Swim: I will be swimming in the Zoot SpeedZoot and the Blue70 Hydra Vision goggles.

Bike: I will be riding a Specialized ShivTT (small), equipped with SRAM Red components, A Quarq powermeter running through a Garmin 500 Edge computer, ISM Breakaway saddle, Shimano Dura Ace pedals and Reynolds 81 wheels with Specialized S-Works tubular tires. I will run 2 bottle cages, one up front between the bars, one on the down tube.

Run: I will be running in Zoot Active compression socks and the TT 4.0 shoes.

Nutrition: My day will be fueled almost exclusively by PowerBar products. On the bike I will take in Strawberry/Banana gels, a peanut butter PowerBar and Red Bull at special needs, and PowerBar Perform at aid stations.  On the run I will carry PowerBar Berry Blast gels mixed with water and Red Bull in the new Fuel Belt Revenge 2 bottle belt.

Again, a HUGE "THANK YOU" to all my sponsors and supporters for all the help and support. I'll give it my all on Saturday, knowing I have no excuses.

Cheers & Aloha,


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Branson 70.3 Race Report

Sorry folks but my fan club President, VP, Treasurer, and Historian (aka "Mom") was not able to make it to Branson last weekend so I have no photos from the race. I know, slacking on the job right? But it was only the second race she has missed in my career so I will cut her some slack.

I hope the tedium of this un-illustrated version is bearable. Without further ado:

Swim: 25:33
It was a small field of male pros and with Guy Crawford present, he was the marked man. I tried to get on his feet after the beach start (I hate those btw) and was successful in doing so. Soon Ben appeared at my side and I thought we both had made it. Unfortunately, something went awry and I simply had to slow down. I couldn't get my breath and I had to let go. Matt Lieto passed me as did another guy but my lungs were still in panic mode and I couldn't respond. A few back strokes, and Matt had gapped me by about 15 meters. I decided at that point not to be concerned with catching anyone and to just get into a rhythm. I did, I was able to bridge back up to Matt, pass him, and ended up closing back up to Ben and Guy and only losing 30 seconds or so.

Bike: 2:36
The bane of my season has been the bike. This race was no different. No excuses, no whining, no BS. I rode terribly. There is really nothing to say. It was so lame that it lacked any eventful content to retell here. 12mins lost to Matt and Ben. Pathetic.

Run: 1:19:07
I came off the bike not knowing what the gap was, but knowing it was BIG.  So I put it in my mind to just run hard and see what happened. At least get in a good hard run as Kona training. Good news is, my legs showed up for the party and I was able to make up some ground. On the 3rd and final lap I saw I had brought the gap down to Karl. In fact I was told he was 2 minutes up on me with about 3 miles to go. I figured I might have a chance, and had no reason not to risk blowing a gasket trying. In the end I just ran out of Branson river front walkway. I brought it down to 20secs but Karl hit the finish chute about 75m ahead of me. Another 4th. Another missed podium. Nobody said it would be easy.

Thanks to all of you who have supported me, offered encouragement and words of congrats.

Huge Thank Yous to:
Zoot for making awesome products like the Prophet wetsuit that allowed me to make up ground after a brief fiasco, and the TT 4.0s, which I can't say enough about. An incredible shoe.

Specialized for making a great bike even if I haven't done it justice. And PVBC for keeping it running in top shape.

Reynolds for providing me with some of the best training and race wheels I could ever hope to ride.

PowerBar for providing training fuel to get through the long days, and race fuel to give me the power to push myself to a half marathon PR even after swimming and riding. for being the reliable, speedy people you are and providing all the gear I need at the click of a mouse.

A "Thank You" and big props also go to the Branson 70.3 race crew. Ryan Robinson, Tom Ziebart and the whole crew worked their asses off in some of the toughest conditions I have ever witnessed and the race came off without a hitch. The rain, lightening, wind and thunder was relentless, but so was your drive and commitment to an A+ event. A top notch event it was. From a top notch crew. Well done. Well. Done. 

I am back in Boulder now. Putting in the last little bit of work before I head off to Kona. I am excited, especially since I will hit the Queen K on this Bad Boy.
His name is Darth Vader
Ohh, and a big thanks to all of you who participated in the contest. Sadly one of the slowest time guesses won. Maybe I will have to do another one for Kona and fix that ;-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

High Country Update & a Contest

With time, came a little adaptation, and I am happy to say some improved performance in training. Physiological familiarity with the environment proved to be a big kick in the pants. I wouldn't say I am "crushing it" up here, not by any means, but I have found myself able to access that next gear that had been missing the first couple weeks.

The beauty of this land continues to amaze me and I find myself in awe of the Rockies' grandeur on nearly every ride.

The off-mountain routes do not lack aesthetic appeal either.

Aside from all the "sightseeing" the mountains do offer their challenges and I have found myself gasping for sweet, sweet oxygen on many a day when the altimeter begins to roll.
Taking up high. 
Being a California kid, Los Angeles at that, the closest thing I got to small mountain towns was Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Mammoth. Up here, the seclusion offered by the expansiveness of the Rockies, and the apparent allure thereof, has given birth to some funky little mountain towns. I have not seen many, but those I have, are quite unique.
Outside the "general store" in Ward, CO
I have been here now for four weeks, and six have passed since Ironman Lake Placid. A little break after Placid was good for the mind and the body. Getting back into some good, consistent and focused training was equally so. And I find myself excited to race again. Watching all the recent racing has only added further fuel to the fire. So this weekend I head off to Branson, Missouri, to race a challenging 70.3 and see where my fitness lies after this Boulder campaign.

With this race approaching, and as I have never raced this course before, I figured now would be a great opportunity to put out a little reward to those of you who have poured through some of the senseless drivel I put forth herein. So I have a little contest in mind: Respond via comment on this post with your guess (H:MM:SS) as to my finishing time at Branson 70.3 this Sunday. Closest, without going over, wins!  (Ex: if Carl Jr. guesses 4:08:27 and Jimmy John, 4:21:42 and my finish time is 4:18: 09, then although closer, Jimmy John would be left to his sandwiches as he went over, and Carl Jr. would have his burgers and his winnings.)

"Carl wins what?" you ask... Well, thanks to the generous support of my sponsor Zoot, there are a few prizes available.
Carl would have his choice of the following:
1. one of my race kits from this season (unworn of course) Med jersey, Med shorts
2. This awesome Zoot race/training backpack
3. A Zoot visor, number belt, and water bottle combo.

So guess away. And make em good.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Tuff Stuff

I realize my last blog was lacking any photos of this beautiful place called Boulder that I have been writing about. I have gotten a few requests for some photos and I tried to comply. Trust me. I did. I really did.

However, it appears that the elevation that is so hard on our lungs up here, is equally unforgiving on electronics. This week both my digital camera and my iPhone felt its wrath and came out the worse for it. So sadly, despite my best efforts, this post will again be noticeably lacking any photographic documentation of my Boulder exploits. (As of this posting the iphone has been resurrected, sort of, by the nice girl with the cute smile at AT&T).

My second full week here in Boulder came and went without any mishaps (other than the aforementioned electronic tragedies) or any particularly noteworthy events. I did my job, got the work done, relaxed and pulled off some major internet surfing sessions. You see, Ben, by his own admission, doesn't really watch TV, so he hasn't felt compelled, understandably so, to add another utility bill to his mailbox. Thus, between sessions, I am left with pretty much the MacBook Pro on which I write this post for entertainment. Luckily for me, this week the Island of Tahiti played host to the Billabong Pro surf contest at the infamous Teahupoo (pronounced: Cho-poo) at precisely the time when one of the biggest swells to ever hit the island rolled through. Some major edge-of-your-seat type stuff came across my monitor.  Some of the wipeouts were quite intense.

While watching these guys and a gal, risk their lives in some insane surf was certainly riveting. More spine tingling was watching Jordan Rapp resoundingly signal his return to the top step of the podium with a crushing win at Ironman Canada.  Jordan has been "back" after his horrific accident since LA Tri last year, but I think even he would admit that his "defense" of his title at IMC marks yet another step in his full "recovery."
Photo Credit Tim Carlson - Slowtwitch
 Sunday also gave me the privilege of watching good friend and fellow Boulder summer camper, Chris "Big Sexy" Mcdonald claim his 4th Ironman title at Louisville. Chris is a great friend and person and I have HUGE respect for him as an athlete not just because of his 4 Ironman titles, but more so (and I don't think he will mind me saying this) because of his ability to take a good hard look at his situation and the road that lay before him earlier this year, make the tough decisions, and proactively change his approach.  The results do not lie. It is not the easiest thing to stare down the gun barrel of reality, accept your current path may be "off", admit it to yourself, make the difficult choices and changes and have the work ethic and perseverance to power through the rough parts and come out better for it on the other side. It may sound a bit cliche, but I think it sort of encapsulates Ironman racing. It is that kind of character that is needed to push through and become a champion. Sincere Congratulations Chris.
Larry Rosa - Lava Magazine
So while my electronics collection may not be, these guys have certainly proven they are made of some "tuff stuff." 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boulder you got good stuff.

Well my first week in Boulder is in the books.

So far training is going well. I have been busy soaking it all in, the sights, the sounds, the grasshoppers.

I decided to cough up the dough for privileges at the Flatirons athletic club, mainly because pool hours basically become a non-issue. There are some solid swim groups at the Flatirons as well and getting to jump into one of those every once in a while is good. Good for a solid thrashing.

Running here has been "an experience" but one I have enjoyed, for the most part. Elevation can be a tricky nut to crack, and I have felt it's wrath this week. Tempo runs have been, well, less than tempo and I had to check a couple times to make sure my new heart rate strap was working properly. Numbers that high are something I am not entirely accustomed to.

While the above described activities have, on the whole, gone well, things on the cycling front have been stellar. Riding here, elevation notwithstanding, has been fantastic. Some incredible views, challenging climbs and great weather have combined to make for quite the cycling experience. I have actually found myself reminiscing on the scenes of Lake Placid. With towering mountains, lakes, and rushing rivers round nearly every corner, one can easily see the similarity between the two. The two are equally beautiful. Boulder however, in my humble opinion gets the nod due to the variety of routes, the climbs and the quality of the roads. The only detractor may be the aforementioned grasshoppers and the colonies of which we encounter out here. Its a brutal scene at times.

All in all, Boulder is proving to be a spectacular place. Even if its only been a week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Past, Present, and Future

In all the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks I haven't gotten around to updating this here Blog for a bit. So here is a little run down on the Past, Present and Future.

The Past: Following Lake Placid I took a trip down Connecticut way to visit my friends Tommy and Katie in their new digs. I had never been to Connecticut before, and was impressed with Stamford and the surrounding area. One day was too short of a trip, but I am hoping to get back this winter.

I had been in Lake Placid since July 3rd, and before that, had spent the previous 7.5 weeks between Hawaii and Utah. In reality, I had been home for about 36hrs since January 9th, so to finally be heading home felt a little strange and more than a little exciting. In all I got to spend 10 days at home, visiting with friends and family I had missed dearly. The highlights of my trip included getting to spend time with my 93yr old grandma, my parents, brother, friends, and attending the wedding of a long time dear friend. 2 days after said wedding I was back on the road. 

Which brings me to the present: 
I am writing this from a couch in Boulder, Colorado after having spent 3 days in Salida, Colorado with my good friend Maiki. I have been in Boulder for 4 days as of this posting, and have to admit, this place is pretty awesome. Boulder takes some heat in the triathlon world as it has become "Triathlon Mecca" or "Tri-Geek Central" but after just a few short days I can see why so many people like it, and why so many of the top professionals in our sport train here. Plain and simple, the place has a great deal to offer when it comes to training for triathlon, and very few mitigating factors.

I am knocking on wood as I write this, but I haven't found the adjustment to altitude to be all so terrible as of yet. While I'd like to think that is due to my outstanding physiological capacities, I am sure it has much more to do with the training plan my coach has built. So far, so good.

Finally, the Future:
I plan on staying in Boulder for the next several weeks and am fortunate that friend and fellow Specialized and Zoot athlete, Ben Hoffman is allowing me to crash at his place at the mere cost of $2,000.00 a month, and all laundry, cooking, dish, car and S-Works Ruckus washing duties. A steal if you ask me ;-)

On the racing front, I will be putting in a good block here before I head on down to Branson, Missouri on September 18th for a 70.3 that I hear is top notch. I wanted to race Rev3 Cedar Pt. and was fired up all season to do so, but with my race at, and recovery from Lake Placid not going as desired, it was just too much too soon.

However, occupying the biggest and most (only?) important news of this post, I am happy to say that I accepted a slot to race the Ironman World Championships and thus will be heading back to the Big Island and the town of Kona for a second time this season. I am stoked and humbled to have qualified, albeit due to roll downs under the new Kona Points Rankings system, and cannot wait to be floating in the harbor waiting for the cannon to fire and racing as a professional triathlete on the most hallowed of triathlon grounds. If you had asked me 5 years ago if there was even a glimmer of hope that such circumstances could arise, I would not have hesitated even a fraction of a second in saying "NO!" I have had heard some friends and my former coach describe the feeling of starting and racing in Kona as a pro, and I am thrilled and honored to get the opportunity to experience the same myself come October 8th.  GAME ON!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Riding Downhill - Race Report, IM Lake Placid

Last year some of you may recall that I raced Ironman Lake Placid and had a decent day until about mile 21 of the run when I lost 5th place and proceeded to get passed by 2 more guys in the 24th & 25th miles.

Soon after the race I mentally put IMLP on my schedule for this year, intent on doing much better.

Yesterday the cannon went off and it seemed that I was on the right track. But soon, things went down hill, rather abruptly. Despite some serious doubts and mental battles, I rode it out in the hopes of learning from the experience and coming out better for it. The following is my report on that downhill ride.

Swim: The water was 77f so we were without wetsuits. I haven't swam in a wetsuit yet this year, and after training in St. George and my swimming in a suit feeling strong, I was looking forward to rocking my new Zoot Prophet for the 1st time this year. That was not to be, but I wasn't really bothered by it as I was very concerned about overheating if somehow they had found a 76.0f spot. 

The cannon went off and I had a good start and was swimming after about 200m finally lost the feet of TJ Tollakson and Luke Bell. From there I was swimming next to Specialized and Zoot teammate Ben Hoffman. I swam next to Ben until the 2nd turn buoy when I hitched a ride on his feet back to the beach. Onto lap 2, I stayed on Ben's feet for the first few hundred meters then in a bit of spontaneous teamwork, I took the lead and pulled for the remainder of the swim. After fighting through some of the age groupers (sorry to those I swam over) I got out and was pleased to see 52:xx on the clock. Official time after crossing the mat was 53:06.  I was happy with this, felt great, and thought my day was looking good.

Getting on the bike I felt good and Ben was just a bit in front of me. On the first climb I got out of the saddle and my rear brake started rubbing, and rubbing bad.  I was pushing ~340w and barely moving. I stopped, tried to adjust it, got back on, rode with it rubbing for a while, stopped again to adjust... repeat that 3x. The final time I even managed to fall. My brake was rubbing so bad that as soon as I quit pedaling I stopped dead in my tracks and wasn't able to unclip fast enough. Fun times. I was passed by a few guys and was pissed to lose Ben, and give up spots when my legs felt good and I had swam so well. I finally managed to fix my brake and was able to ride on my watts for the rest of the 1st lap, regain the spots I dropped and only be passed by a charging Eduardo Sturla.
I began the 2nd lap feeling good but quite suddenly, that changed. I began feeling very flat. I pounded down some extra nutrition and tried to rally, but the body was not responding. In the past I have put a 12oz Red Bull in my special needs bag. But with my friend missing his bag here last year, and me missing mine at IM AZ I decided not to rely on special needs this race and skipped the Red Bull. Not sure if this was a good call in hindsight. From there on out, I went into damage control mode and just tried to ride as steady and strong as I could. I was hoping to ride 2:50 or below and after a 2:25 1st lap, I was on pace to do so. So I was obviously bummed with a 5:04 bike split. No excuses, I just fell apart and didn't cut the mustard.

With how terrible I felt the last 2hours of the ride, I was actually concerned that my legs were just not going to hold out for the run. Thoughts of my 1st DNF began to enter my mind. I just figured I would go until my legs just quit. I went out and tried to down as much fuel as I could before having to climb back into town. The 1st lap was pretty much a struggle every step of the way. Not Fun. But I put faith in the power of the Red Bull waiting for me at Special Needs and just endeavored to make it there as fast as possible. I was cramping a fair bit on the uphills and again, hindsight being 20/20 salts may have been a good idea.
After the Red Bull I got a bit of a second wind and just tried to focus on the next aid station, and staying up on nutrition. At the bottom turn around, I saw I had about a minute on 7th place. After getting caught in the final few miles, I was determined not to let it happen again. Given that I was in the money I didn't really want to give it up, but I made the decision to go for broke. If I fell on my face and DNFed I figured I would feel better bout that than I would if I played it safe, gave up a spot in the final miles and made a small amount of money. So I went for it. Coming in the last mile, I was in a bad way, but made I made it and held my spot. I had a goal of running sub 3, obviously 3:10 is a far cry and again, no excuse, I just failed to perform.

I have never felt as bad after a race as I did yesterday. A big thanks to the medical team for helping me out.

Also a Big thanks to my sponsors. As always, I had the best equipment and support I could ever ask for from Zoot, Specialized, Reynolds Wheels,, Palos Verdes Bicycle Center, and PowerBar. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in my lack luster performance can be blamed on my equipment or fuel. I had the best possible equipment to carry me to my goal, just lacked the motor.

Also a HUGE thanks for the humbling support from one of my long time best friends and his beautiful fiance, Tommy n Katie for making the long trek from Connecticut to watch me race.