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It’s Been a Week of Hills!

GiroMaybe it’s been 2 weeks of hills, I’m not really sure at this point as everything is running together.  There have been both physical and mental hills that have brought me up and down, but it’s all part of becoming an Ironman right?  You learn to juggle the demands of your work, social, and training lifestyles as volume pick up and move you to what you once thought those limits are.  Slowly as you approach them you start to feel that you get that anxious feeling in your gut and you press on.  You slowly move past your previous limits and the confidence builds as you start to explorer the space you didn’t know existed.

So last Saturday I swim buddied at the San Diego Triathlon Classic.  I was supposed to race in this race but after careful thought with my Ironman training it just wasn’t a good fit.  Especially since I had a 105 mile ride from Solana Beach up Mt. Palomar the following day.  So putting the pride aside I went and rode with this great girl who is also training for IMAZ at a slow pace for a few hours (probably not the brightest thing cause of the 105 mile ride the next day).  Either way we had fun and it was great time…… I guess you might call it an Irondate!  Then later that night I got my run in… again this was not a good idea.  The upside was I ate a TON of carbs!

WP_20140906_003My athlete Rhonda who just did her first ever triathlon back in May finally reached the podium Saturday as well.  She took 3rd in the Athena division which she earned.  The Tri Classic was her A race and she even surprised herself.  You can follow her journey on her Facebook page “Living Instead of Existing”.  She didn’t know it at the time but I decided to stay and watch her finish and cheer her on going across that finish line.  I’m proud of her her finding this new found love of not just triathlon but being competitive.  As I’ve been a mentor for her the goal for this season was for her to just have fun and enjoy the sport, clearly it is.   Next season will be pushing a bit more (like I haven’t done enough of that) for some possible podium spots in the Athena Masters and also increasing 1 or 2 races to Olympic distances in her preparation for a 70.3 early 2016 with possible IMAZ 2016.

palomarSo now to Sunday’s fun…it really wasn’t much fun.  It sucked and it sucked a lot.  Started at 6Am 1 whole hour early and I knew there would be hills and a damn mountain so I used my road bike (I think I should have kept to my tri bike).  My road bike is an aluminum frame which I refer to as a tank.  I’ve had that thing for almost 5 years and never once had to change a tire or tube.  I put thousands of miles on it and it truly is a tank.  I knew I was going to be slow and I knew it was going to be a 9+ hour ride.  Yes you see that big mountain in the middle of the elevation chart that was a 7-8% grade for 11+ miles?  I had to ride up it and the gearing on my road bike in it’s easiest gear was a lovely 4 MPH avg going up it.  I’m not going to lie I wanted to quit going up and just go downhill.  My brain was telling me to quit and just turn around but my legs just kept peddling up even as I saw friends of mine going down.  I stopped and let my HR go back down since the sun was beating down on me and climbing up hill keeps me in my Z4 and Z5 for long periods of time.  On these stops I made the mistake of looking at my map on my phone and talk about the longest mile.. I thought to myself man I’m going 4 MPH this is going to take me 15 damn minutes to get to the top this is just dumb and why did I do this.   It was about this time that my legs wouldn’t let me turn around that I finally caught up to my buddy Marcus and I thought to myself that if he can do this than so can I.  Finally made it to the top with him and another guy named Steve.   10702229_715504185206710_5231643471898073495_nWe caught the girls just before they went down it was a fun quick reunion (I hated all of them at this point because they beat me and weigh half of what I do.)  It was at this time where mother nature decided to shower on us.. A LOT!  Yeah that wall of rain was what I went through on the way down.  My friend Carrie happened to snap this picture as she was going up and I was going down.  At the end of the day we all got across the finish line we got our medals we endured mother nature’s 100+ heat and flash flooding.  Congratulations to everyone we made it out alive and our legs truly do hate us now.

I heard someone say that after 6 hours of straight exercising something happens to you.  They are right and it’s different for everyone and for me it was interesting that it was my legs that kept me going forward and not quitting when everything that I read and listed to told me it would be my body that was telling me to quick and it would be my mind telling me to stop.  I felt that urge to want to keep going, that confidence that you can do this.  You can finish it.  People still call me crazy and say that this is not normal behavior.  I would have said the same thing 3 years ago as well.  But for me this is becoming the new normal and I like it.  One of the best choices I made in my life was losing weight and getting outside of my comfort zone of inside the bar.

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Life Time Tri: Minneapolis–Race Report

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Well I’m halfway through my season of travelling for races and man it got here fast.  Strangely enough this felt like my hometown race.  My family from my mom’s side live in Minneapolis and while only a few of them made it out to the race.   Everyone made it to the BBQ we had later that day, and that’s really what made this trip for me.  I rarely get to race with my family watching so it was extra important that I had a smile on my face and that I got over that finish line not looking like death.

This race was unique for me and I had a lot of small challenges to overcome.  First was the weather.  It was rainy every day I was there except for the day after the race and then it was awesome.  During the race it was muggy and humid, and the course had a lot of mud.  The Twin Cities have been getting rained on so there were lots of flooded area’s around town and the ground was completely soaked.  Second was that I rented a road bike.  I didn’t have time to really get some saddle time before the race thanks to the rain.  So during the race I couldn’t really feel my butt past mile 13 or 14.  I also couldn’t really get into any aero position which means I was catching wind like a sail!   The other stuff wasn’t as important because I was mainly there to just have fun.

The Swim:
No wetsuit this time  While the water was warm I didn’t feel the need for a wetsuit and went about swimming without one.  The water was warm so I took advantage of it.   The start was a time trial start so they had us in pairs going into the water every 3-5 seconds rather than 1 big wave.  The entry was a beach start which was cool because I didn’t have to wait behind everyone else wadding through the water.   I got plenty of good leaps in and off I went.  During the leaps I passed 4 people just inching out.  I didn’t even get a swim buddy that I could draft off of in this race and there was a lot of jostling of elbows and kicks that where way off.  I will say this swimming in fresh water for a change is nice.  I don’t have salt crust on the face during the bike.

The Bike:
It’s been over a year since I had to ride a road bike during a triathlon so I knew it was going to be an experience.  The course was very scenic and it went through parts of Minneapolis I didn’t know even existed.  Seems the road crew didn’t either cause there were potholes, creases, and horrible divots through the entire ride.  I couldn’t seem to pickup much speed either cause after mile 13 or so I could no longer feel but butt.  The only reason it was still there was that every single bump I hit I could feel it.  I couldn’t even get into the aero position for the ride which felt really weird to me.  Of course spectators love to cross the street as bikes are going through and I almost hit a few of them but ended up in the oncoming lane of traffic to avoid them.  I’m lucky I didn’t get in a serious accident with other athletes.

The Run:
Well this was a 2 loop course around the lake I just swam in.  It was filled with water from the rains and mud from the soaked grass.  It was pretty humid and muggy out so it felt like I was running through a lake.  Not to mention it was hot without the sun even being out.  Thankfully I had a lot of fun and looking back it wasn’t all that bad.  There was another guy going across the finish with me and we both looked at each other and said lets smile and sprint it through.  So we did complete with smiles and a hi five afterwards.

The End:
Well I might do this race again next year or the Maple Grove Triathlon.  It was nice to see family and had fun exploring the trails that Minneapolis has to offer.   Till next year.

Where Did the Time Go?–3 weeks into IMAZ Training already!

It really got here before I knew it, and I would by full of it if I didn’t say that I’m a bit terrified.  Let’s be honest though, when you embark on the stuff you truly want to accomplish it is supposed to be terrifying.  That’s what makes the accomplishment that much sweeter.  I’m 2 weeks late in starting this blog post due to things coming up and trying to stick to training as much as possible.

The last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of training, traveling, racing, and helping others reach their goals.  I’m writing this as I get ready to head to Minnesota this week for a race out there.  I have family out there so I’ll be able to stay with them and I’ll have a car as well to travel around.  The upside to Minneapolis is that it’s super bike friendly so I plan to do a LOT of cycling.  I’m excited for my family to be able to get out there and watch me race and I’m excited to see them. I grew up on the west coast for the most part and missed a lot of my family growing up and now as we’ve all gotten older we just don’t get time to spend together much.

My training for the most part has been on track however I don’t feel like I’m where I should be.   Part of that is because of my break for the month of June.   I think my run for the most part suffered the biggest set back and I need to get it back.  However when I look at the numbers though it’s my aerobic endurance that is gone.  Training for short course racing is all about speed and power over the short course instead of a steady pace.  So what does that mean for me?  More longer runs and bikes at a steady Z2 pace to get that endurance built up again.   What does it mean for my short course races coming up?   Well it means that I’m going to look at them as training and keep myself at a solid pace.

Also got to see my friend Rhonda complete her 2nd triathlon the weekend of my ITU Race.  She has come a long way and it’s pretty cool to see the effect that I have had on her.  From believing that she could do her first triathlon before October to now looking at training for her 3rd triathlon in September.   I’ve found it’s very rewarding personally to watch people accomplish what they once thought they couldn’t.

Break Week 2–Foreign Territory

I’m going into week 2 of my break and it’s like the twilight zone.  It was a bit of a let down for me to have to scratch 2 weeks of training going into my ITU Chicago race at the end of the month, but it’s better to take it now and maybe a 3rd week if needed so that I don’t lose those weeks during my IMAZ training.  It’s a bit odd waking up in the morning and having to tell myself that I can’t go do a training run or ride.  So instead I tried pouring that bowl of cereal and reading the news… it’s boring!  After almost 2 years of some type of training I’ve come to realize that normal is pretty boring and you feel like you’re stuck in the same rat race every day.

Sunday I did the Beastmode Swim Series #1 with TCSD and Energy Lab Training… There was approximately 70 swimmers going from La Jolla Cove to Wind and Sea Beach.  It was a 2.5 mile open water swim.  It was funny going into this swim because the non-athletes immediately thought I was crazy and it’s considered a workout.  I didn’t put out any effort at all, and I could have swam another 2-3 miles at that pace no problem.  In fact I just might start doing it Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.

Today I rode my old road bike into work today and let me tell you that after riding on a light tri-bike for so long it felt almost foreign to me.  I didn’t try for any speed records and it took me 1 whole hour to ride 15 miles… yikes!   Going to be an interesting time once IMAZ training kicks up but by then I’ll have my tri-bike back and won’t be riding the tank as I call it.  So most likely I’ll throw in a short run once I get home.  At this point I almost can’t wait to get back to training.

It’s no wonder American’s are becoming more obese.  What they consider normal is the same daily rat race routine.  I got home and again told myself not to go out and do some type of training routine since that’s what I was used to.   So I made some dinner and watched some TV… again.. boring!   I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things.

Ironman 70.3 California 2014–Race Report

WP_20140329_14_03_27_ProWell I finished!  That’s what is important when the day is done.  They say that the training is the hard part of the journey and the race is the reward.  I guess I didn’t fully understand it till I hit the run.  When I signed up for this race a year ago I was 275lbs give or take and I had just done my first triathlon in 3 years the ITU San Diego at a little over 280lbs.  I didn’t think I could even do a Half Ironman.  It was a goal that I set that at that time seemed impossible but I had to try.  My goal signing up was to aim high and just finish the race.  I didn’t care how long it took me to do it, I just wanted to finish.  I wanted to achieve my goal of completing a Half Ironman before the cut off time.  In fact, I didn’t even know there was a cut off time.  With the help of the Triathlon Club of San Diego (TCSD) and their members I was able to get the training I needed and join in on their many free workouts.  It’s a privilege to live in such a great city and have such great support from the TCSD.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support me and the other triathletes and thank you to all the volunteers who help make this race awesome.  So without further delay here is the report.

Race Report: Lead up
Weather this time of year is crazy and the week before the race was dark and rainy and cold.  So I was a bit worried about having to race in cold and rainy.  Thankfully it died that Friday and it was sunny skies.  Friday my family came down from Thousand Oaks to come watch me race.  This is a huge thing for me having them there for the support.  I’m glad to see that they get to see me out there being active and accomplishing my goals.  Friday evening we kept dinner simple at Luna Grill and I got everything finalized for my race and set to go   The excitement, anxiousness, nervousness, and confidence was all a melting pot for me head.

Race Morning:
I was up early ate my whole grain, almond butter, and banana sandwich at 4 with some water and then proceeded to get everything packed in the car and on the way up to the venue.  I didn’t worry about my nutrition at all which was a huge thing for me coming into a longer endurance race than a sprint or Olympic Distances.  Thankfully my coach Julie Dunkle really got us well prepared with what works for us and how plan for our race.  Had my Swedish Oat Starch Protein shake around 6:00 which was supposed to be 1.5 hours before my race start.  Either way I got down to the venue and marked up my T2 with my chalk and off to T1.  I had my sister along helping me out and I unfortunately had to ditch her to make sure I got my stuff setup in time.

The Swim: 00:31:42
This swim is without a doubt my strongest leg but unfortunately you can’t win in the swim but you can lose.  My wave for some reason was at 7 instead of 7:36 so I was off to the water 30 minutes before I was expecting but it was fine.  I warmed up on my swim out to the start buoy which is about a good 50 yards to the start.  I should have seeded myself closer to the start line but this was a 70.3 I expected to have some faster swimmers up here (BIG MISTAKE).  Finally got relaxed a bit and then the horn goes off and we start swimming.  I must have been behind the slow people because I spent a lot of energy getting through a lot of the other guys.  Finally after the first red buoy I found a good rhythm and then shortly after is when I started swimming up into the waves that went ahead of me.  Had to swim around and over a few other swimmers (I’m sorry).  The water temp felt great even at 60 degrees.  During the 30 minutes I’d love to tell you that I was thinking about something but to be honest I wasn’t thinking of a damn thing I was just swimming enjoying the moment.  As I sighted and saw the boat docks I picked up the pace and got out of the water strong.

T1:
Unlike the Life Time Tri they had carpet through the entire transition run so I didn’t kill my feet.  I jogged through T1 to bring my HR down.  I took my time in T1 since I knew I had a bit more things to do for a 56 mile bike, like put on socks!  It was nice to not have to hurry.

The Bike: 03:02:13
The bike as most know is an easy first half that’s fast and mostly flat with the back half being filled with 3 hills.  I’ve been through the first half several times and I’ll be going through many more times.  The back half though I didn’t get a chance to drive through with a car at any point so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I thought about that as I was going through the first half all the time.  I faced the challenge and I didn’t stop on the first unforgiving hill.  I spun up with like a kid on a bike at times going from side to side.  I kept telling myself I just have to make it up this hill and then that’s one less hill I have to worry about.  The second hill was more of a false flat for me as it was a gradual climb with a nice little peak at the end.  At this time I was getting passed by Coach Julie, which I’ll admit was a little disheartening but she’s a much better athlete than I am with the hills.  I secretly think that she has a love affair with hills.  Anyways after the last of the hills I was just happy to be past the hard part of the ride and looked to let my legs recover and prepare for the run.  As I got closer to the harbor I knew the bike was over and I was excited that I was 2/3rds the way done with my first Half Ironman.  I had no clue what my times were at this point but I thought I had a solid bike.  I did have to stop on the last hill to massage out a hip flexor spasm but it probably cost me all of about 4 minutes.

T2:
The volunteers where there directing me where to go but I had drawn big blue arrows to my transition area so that I could quickly identify them (thank you Steve Tally).  It made it easy and I was able to get out of T2 after a quick potty break and having to turn around to throw the bike gloves down.

The Run: 02:40:35
My weakest part of the triathlon was finally here.  I trained hard for this and wanted a 2 hour finish.  I had a solid plan which was to stay in zone 2 for the majority of the run and then crank out the last 3 miles in Z3/4.  My first mile I was dead on pace and hr zone I was moving at a 9:25 at 149BPM and I was feeling great and my legs were feeling good as well.  I had no issues going up the steep climbs of the pier, my training had paid off!  Then suddenly going down the steep hill down to the strand I felt a sharp pull in my right groin and couldn’t get my stride back going so I decided to walk for a bit and see if I could shrug it out.  Tried to run again and just couldn’t keep that pace without severe pain.  It upset me a bit that I wasn’t going to make my 2 hour run and I had a little talk with myself.  I told myself that I had nothing left to prove, I was going to finish, is it worth further injury?  So I decided that I was going to walk/jog as much as I could and just enjoy everyone that came out to support me and all the other triathletes.  I didn’t even have the question of quitting at any point, it was not an option.  The one thing I had learned about myself and listening to the motivational speeches during training is that whatever I do, make sure no one can ever call me a quitter.  I might not be the fastest and I might just be the slowest, but make sure that no one can call me a quitter.  I didn’t quit and I mustered all the strength to block out the pain and I ran down the finish shoot.  I had finished my first Ironman 70.3

Final Time: 06:24:03

Looking Back:
As fast as it got here, it’s already over.  Looking back I can’t tell you exactly how it was to run down the finish shoot.  It really was a blur of emotions along with disbelief.  I know I immediately said that I don’t think I’d do another one, but that was quickly retracted and yeah I’ll do another one probably not this one though.  It was a journey that I didn’t expect and I found out a lot of things about myself and that’s why reaching for these seemingly monumental tasks are so important.  When I first signed up for it, this race seemed monumental and that it would be a miracle for me to even walk across the finish line by the cut off.  As it approached I found confidence in myself that I can do it and that it’s possible in under 6 hours.   Even though I was 24 minutes shy of 6 hours and almost a full hour past my predicted finish I did it.

My training groups celebration party was last night and while we didn’t train as a group we all had a common bond of setting a goal and achieving it.  We all had to overcome our own struggles and we each had them.  We all crossed that finish line and we were not going to be denied that finishers medal.

1 Week Away: Excited, Nervous, Confident

V__352EThis was me several years ago.  I was in my late 20’s and I was overweight, drank a lot, and did no exercise at all.  If I was to go back in time in a magic phone booth and tell that man that in 2014 he would be doing his first 70.3 triathlon and he would have completed 9 13.1’s and a full 140.6 by the end of the year I would expect to be laughed at and then thrown out of the Open Bar for being stupid.  Truth be told back then I loved my lazy life with no cares in the world.  I really didn’t care about my health, and I certainly didn’t think about my future.  As the years passed nothing change really.  I had thoughts to myself if this was the best life was going to get for me.  I was running my own small business I was always out partying lots of friends.

762765-1070-0028sWell 10 or so years later here I am 1 week away from my toughest race yet that I signed up for in the summer of last year.  1 year ago to this day I had only done 1 triathlon with the ITU Triathlon in April.  As I sit here 1 week away from it, I can’t help but look back at the last year and look at how much I have achieved.  Dropped 60+ lbs improved my run times and kept the weight off for over a year.  I will say the last 2 weeks have been rough though keeping my head in the game again as I’ve strayed a bit from my diet and training has kicked down a bit intensity wise.  This is where we trust our training.  In my last 30 minute easy run I was maintaining a 8:13 per/mile average!!!  I remember when I was training for Tri-Rock San Diego I was looking at the results saying that I need to get to at least a 9 minute mile.  Well I’m proud to say that I’ve done it!  I had never in my life cycled more than 50 miles in under 3 hours and last weekend I did it, after a 1.4 mile swim no doubt.  Now we didn’t get the back of the course that has the hills but I kept the ride easy so it’s possible I’m looking at a 3:30 bike time.  I’m no longer worried that I’ll be able to finish the race and I’m no longer worried that I’d even survive or even be worried that I can walk the day after the race.  My self confidence and self belief has grown and I’ve now got to carry that over to race day.

Probably the smartest thing I’ve done was hire a real coach this time around.  I new the longer distance would require something more than an online coach and I went with Julie Dunkle who’s an established Ironman athlete who has been to Kona.  I saw a thing she sent out through TCSD and figured why not?  What do I have to lose, but I had all to gain.  It’s more than just getting out there and putting feet to pavement.  I didn’t have a clue about nutrition or pacing outside of what I’ve read.  Even then I had a hard time putting it all together.  I will most likely use her again for my Ironman Arizona training but not in a group setting, ok maybe if the chance is there.  The support around the group was amazing and I’m actually not looking forward to the end of this journey but the memories will remain.  As the excitement and nerves keep building up until that gun goes off all I can really do is to keep trusting the training and telling myself that “I’m the one, I’m the one who was supposed to do this for me.”  My next blog post will most likely be after the race so here is a quick look at my goal times.

Goal times for Oceanside 70.3
Swim – 31:00
T1 – 3-4 mins
Bike – 3:15:00
T2 – 2-3 mins
Run – 2:00:00

Total Time: 5:45:00-6:00:00

SEAL Sprint Race Report

I signed up for this race as a warm up race for Oceanside.  Something to get my feet wet into the excitement of a well known race in San Diego before heading into Oceanside.  The day before the race my coach had our final race simulation for Oceanside which I was not expecting.  Saturday started with a 1.3 mile ocean swim, 56 mile bike on the front side of the Oceanside course and then I just did a 4 mile run.  I reached my goals for the simulation and I can tell already if the sun is going to be out like it was on Saturday (83 degree’s and no clouds) then the run will be challenging just trying to keep cool.  I’ll have to adjust my salt tab intake accordingly.  Racing on tired legs, this should be fun.

Race Day:
I woke up at 5AM and I had everything from the day before still in my car so I didn’t have to spend much time loading things up.  Got down to the venue and had a pretty good feeling going into the race.  My legs felt good and not really totally wasted (I wonder now if I pushed it hard enough during training).  This was a small field of racers judging by the transition area but I’m ok with that.  I prefer smaller fields, just means less crowded on the course.  Got everything setup into what I think is a great transition setup.  Warmed up said hi to some of my fellow TCSD racers and started down towards the water.  This is a LONG run from the bay to T1 and I hate long runs like that.  I was in wave 2 which was Males 39+ with Clydesdale, Clydesdale Masters, and the relay people, this wave was HUGE!  Now this was my first beach entry start to a triathlon and I stuck to the right side.

Swim:
The horn goes off and it’s a mad dash to the water, at first I was a bit irritated with all the people it was crowded and everyone was swimming everywhere.  It was a good thing too so that I can use it as experience come Oceanside and IMAZ.  The swim was a bit rough as the sun was right in our faces where the buoy was to turn right so sighting was a bit hard.  Once out of the water there was a long run up to T1 where the timing mat was (this explains my 12 minute 500M swim).   Had a quick T1 considering I need to work on getting out of my wetsuit faster.

Bike:
Been working on my bike mount so that I don’t have to completely stop and I nailed it this time and was able to maintain a 21.6 MPH average on the whole course.  It was flat and fast the way I like.  I could have pushed a bit harder but I didn’t want to kill my legs (I should have pushed it and gone all out).  I need to really get my head out of the whole go slower part of sprint triathlons.  My overall time was 34 minutes on the bike when it should have been closer to 30.  T2 went really well and I was out in no time.

Run:
The first almost 2 miles of this run is in the sand so I already hated it.  I ran 3.4 miles in about 28 minutes and averaged an 8:29 average which is by far one of my best performances.  Again though I kept looking at my Garmin and kept telling myself that I needed to go slower so that I could finish and not blow up.  I crossed the finish line not gassed and I felt that I didn’t go all out at all.  Looking back I was not happy with the race at all and it was all myself to blame.

Takeaways:
I need to really get my head out of going slow for sprint triathlons.  It’s a sprint, it’s all out or go home for me these days.  I need to realize that I’ve got potential and I need to stop viewing myself as the fat guy on the race course.