Saturday, December 26, 2015

10 YEARS!



The picture above is from 10 YEARS AGO! It was my first season training full time at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida. Both of the guys to my right, Marc and Justin, are two of the most stand-up guys I have met through sport. So is Graham Partain, the guy who let us/me live with him for several years. Photo bombing is Tim Johnson (Ironman Swim Director), he is also OK!


The new year is almost here. That means that I should have my s#*t together and plans in place, especially if I want to do well. More on that below...

First, this is a big year for me in terms of dates. My good friend Justin Daerr pointed out that our first season (we starting training full time pretty close together) training full-time, was 10 years ago a week from Monday. A DECADE. Really?!?! A DECADE!

Over the last 10 years I have come a long way. I have accomplished a lot of great things, failed at accomplishing a lot of great things, won a few races, not won many more races, met some amazing people and have been privileged enough to race and train across 5 continents and in 3 oceans. It still feels like yesterday, but it also serves as a reminder that time flies and to be present whenever possible.

Though I don't believe I will be racing for another 10 years, I am hoping for at least 3 or 4 more seasons of continued and improved success across all areas of my life.


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So that brings me to 2016!

Here is the plan in sport.

The first half of the season is going to be "Ironman Free" (schedule to the right). Coaching is my primary focus right now and though I am committed to racing closer to my potential, my ambitions don't lay with any of the Ironman options available.

So, 3 Half Ironman races are going to be my focus to start the year (Oceanside just out of convenience). The main goal in 2016 is to get closer to that magical 3hr 50min barrier across the Half Ironman distance. So I will be keyed in on doing what's required for that.

For the second half of June and July I will take a mid season break and focus on coaching athletes through the meat of their training. I may race a few events here or there and will stay fit, but there won't be any serious builds happening.

As I get into August, I'll gear up for the second half of the season. I have a few ideas as to what I will do, but am going to wait to hear what WTC is planning for IM Wisconsin in 2017 (hoping for a Men's Pro race so I can compete again), as well as see how things go during the first half of the year.

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Happy Holiday's everyone, let's make 2016 the best year yet by staying thankful, present and getting fired up for everything that is going to come our way!


BOOYAH!!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Turning To 2016

After a late season injury in September and the first part of October, I have decided to turn my focus to preparing for 2016.

I had a glute and low back issue for a number of weeks, including during my race out at Silverman 70.3. It completely hampered my ability to swim and ride hard, though didn't seem to cause issue with my run.

While I am now past the problem that was caused by worn cleats on my bike shoes, I don't feel that I have enough to time to properly prepare to be competitive at Ironman Arizona.

This season was a bit of a roller coaster, but as I always say, "no training is ever wasted."

Next year is going to see some changes in my approach, number of races, as well as a few things throughout the season that I am hoping will help me take my results up to that next level.

Stay tuned for my plans soon...


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ironman Wisconsin from a different perspective...


The infamous 2010 sprint finish with Ironman Champion and friend, Max Longree. 


The pic from above was from 2010, when Max Longree and I sprinted it out for 5th place at Ironman Wisconsin. For the record, the only reason I beat max on this day was because he started the swim late due to a wetsuit malfunction.

Outside of my first, the moment above was probably my most memorable from Ironman Wisconsin. It was my first "successful" race across the Ironman distance. I finally broke the 9hr barrier on this course and finished 5th in 8:55. It was my 9th attempt here in Madison and somewhere around my 20th Ironman.

A lot of folks ask me how I feel now that there isn't a Professional Men's race here in Madison for the time being. The race was taken away by the owners of Ironman (World Triathlon Corporation - WTC) in an attempt to consolidate the fields and bring up the level of competition at fewer races. Whether or not it is/has been successful is/has yet to be seen. Either way, I hope I get to race some day again soon.

My personal feelings are a mixed bag and it's definitely bitter sweet as I see the expo starting up. I started triathlon in 2001 and when the Inaugural Ironman Wisconsin was announced in 2002, it was the reason that I got serious about my training. I felt a sense of pride and almost ownership that a race like this was going to take place in my home town. I told myself that I would not only finish the race, but that some day I would win it. 

I have spent the better part of the last 15 years trying to do that. This race has been the unwavering motivation that has gotten me through some pretty low spots, ones where I nearly quit the sport several times. I have finished as high as 5th, twice, 6th once and have run one of the fastest marathon's on the course. Last year I felt I was ready to contend, but came down with bronchitis on race week. Needless to say, I have unfinished business that I need to come back to some day if given the chance. 

Now, on the other hand, this weekend is filled with just as much excitement and anticipation for the 27 BBMC athletes who will be racing this coming Sunday. I will be able to support all of them, all day, without a race of my own to share my focus.

In addition, seeing the race from a different perspective that I have yet to experience will improve my ability to coach effectively for this race/course and give me a front row seat for the epic races that are going to unfold. We have several first timers, some looking to win and other's just looking for a day filled with fun and their best effort. So though I would love to be out there racing, that's for another day and this weekend is about those who are!

#BOOYAH

Eric, Chris, Caroline, Tom, Jackie, Jennifer, Laurie, Jason, Chad, Ben, Ami, Colin, Dustin, Nick, Cassie, Suzanne, Wynn, Zach, Julia, Brandon, Becky, Steven, Mike, Juliet, Jenny, Chris and Craig.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Why Do Athlete's Psych Themselves Out During Taper?

An observation from the last 12 years of coaching is that many athletes fall off a cliff when it comes to taper. Here is my take on it and some advice to help.



TRAINING:

Usually, during training, the athlete's mind focuses working hard, being tough and getting it done. The athlete is not being afraid of things feeling a little hard from time to time and views training as fitness in the bank and suffering is sometimes a part of process.

TAPER

When the athlete gets to taper, sometimes it's like a switch flips inside the athlete's head and the focus then revolves around "am I feeling tired" or "is this feeling too hard" or "I'm not going to have a good race because..."

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What you will notice is that mentality described in paragraph one during training is process oriented. You will then notice that the second paragraph during taper is largely driven by fear, anxiety and is not at all process oriented. This is where the unraveling and loss of confidence begins....

You can clearly see how the mind leads and how it can be easy to psych yourself out even before you get to the starting line.

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MY ADVICE

Just because you are tapering, it doesn't mean all of a sudden things are going to feel or be easy. Sometimes things feel effortless, yes, but that's not the rule or what most athletes experience the majority of the time.

Taper means you are training less and resting more. Period. As long as you are doing those two things, you have done the training and you are healthy, you WILL get stronger for race day. Period.

During your taper, keep the same focus and intensity you have in training, don't let fear or the "what if's" be what you are focusing on and remember to hold back a touch during every interval and every training session. Visualize the race you want to have and know that on race day, your process oriented way of thinking and your "mental tool box" will get you where you want to be. Period.

Lastly, have fun. A deep rooted sense of enjoyment and acknowledge that there will be more chances to race should things not go your way. This can take a lot of weight off your shoulders.

Race hard, race smart, have fun. - Keep it simple!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Challenged Racing At Challenge Roth

Since I am sharing my full experience here at Challenge Roth, I thought I would give a more detailed race report than I normally would after a bad race. One thing I can say is that Felix and the Challenge Family do things right; from the treatment of the athletes and volunteers, to the food, to the fireworks and all of the smallest details. I can't say thank you enough to them for going beyond what they "have" to do. It really is all about the athletes.



I can assure you that there are as many people as it looks like there are in this picture. The Solar Berg climb was easily one of the most memorable moments in my triathlon racing career.

The race itself for me was Challenging to say the least.

This was my first experience with major jet lag before a big race and next time I think that I would likely do things a little differently in terms of my arrival. 7 days would be a minimum for me, I was definitely not an exception to the rule of 1 day per hour of time change when going from west to east. FWIW - East to west usually takes about half that time.

I elected to start the swim close to shore, instead of closer to the buoy line. The start is narrow (25m) and the faster swimmers seemed to be somewhat split. The swim was a little rough for the first 500-800m, but we were moving along well and I had my own space. At about the 800m mark or so, I started to get really hot and nauseated. The water was borderline wetsuit legal and though I HAD my sleeveless with me, I felt it was important to have some extra speed that full suit brought. In hindsight this was mistake #1. Once over heated, I felt more and more sick as the swim went on and slide further and further back. I simply told myself that things would get better once I got out of the water. I just focused on getting through the rest of the swim and using the 20,000 screaming spectators as motivation!

Out of the water I had both cramps and nausea. I told myself to be smart and just keep focused ahead. I spent an extra 60-90sec in transition to gather myself and stretch things out.

Once onto the bike I knew the worst thing I could do was force things and try to catch the guys in the first 50km, so I eased into the pace. A strong field and 5300' of elevation gain meant that the course would lend itself to over-pacing. By about 40km I could tell this was a good choice and I found a nice little groove as I caught riders ahead.

There was no special needs and I didn't have a person to hand me drink bottles on the course (yes it's allowed here), so I had to rely on the sports drink that was available on course. It was OK in terms of taste, but the stomach didn't feel the same. Despite a bit of the gut rot, the legs continued to feel better as the ride went on. The crowds were amazing; every town had a party with tables, food and plenty of beer. There were an estimated 260,000 spectators on course with a lot of them lining the climb at Solar Berg (which is where the picture above was taken). I held relatively steady, caught about 40 guys on the ride and came off feeling like I could find my groove after a much needed stop in the port-a-loo. I also didn't plan to use the on course sports drink once I was onto the run, which hopefully meant less of an upset stomach.

In T2, I asked the volunteer to hand me all of my nutrition, which was a huge help! I was off but should have done a better job of making sure I had everything. Almost exactly 3minutes down the road I realized I had a major problem---- I had all of my nutrition BUT my salt. $#*!!!! I thought about going back, but it would likely mean 10 extra minutes by the time they found my bag again. So I rolled with the on course sports drink (lower sodium content) and decided to take my chances. I had done bricks without salt and thought that as long as I listened to my body, I could figure it out as I went.

After a quick stop at the first aid station, I felt relatively good and was running down most of the guys between myself and the top 10. At about 14km I started to get forearm cramps, ironically the next aid station down the road had SALT! However this wasn't what I was expecting...it was a tin of sea salt. I decided it was a chance I had to take... at first it seemed like it was working great, the cramps went away and the pace/HR/PE was right where I wanted it. A few more km went by, I passed a few more ahead of me and found myself in 13th place and gaining time. The stomach was OK and I came by the aid station with salt for a second time. I choose to take some more because I didn't know if I would have it again. MISTAKE! I could tell within a few minutes that it was too much....I started to get stomach cramps by about 21km and needed to stop again...from there it got better for a km and then things went the other direction and I found myself unable to run.

While there was frustration that came with not being able to run when the legs felt good, I reminded myself that it was a privilege in many ways to be out there racing in a place that most will never get to experience. It helped. I walked and finished what I started. I also have a desire to come back here and race again for redemption.

For now it's time to relax for a week or two and then plan out the rest of 2015 and 2016.

Thank you to everyone, including Challenge Roth, BBMC, PowerBar, Trek Store Madison, Sport and Spine Clinic of Madison, Xterra Wetsuits, Catalyst Cycling and Peak Performance Madison. Your support is incredible and I know that I probably wouldn't be able to do what I am doing without you.

Prost!





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Update...Challenge Roth!!!



Time is flying this season, maybe more than any other year. I think that probably should be expected when a person trains full time (24-25hrs) and runs a full-time business at the same time. I love every minute of it, but most days I do wish that I could either slow down time, or create that 30hr day.

So let me update you on the racing side of life...

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RACING

I ended up racing a little less than I planned. This wasn't because of fitness or desire, but it was more because it made sense based on my goals ... and sometimes just wanting to sleep in on a Sunday :)

That being said I did get out for 2 tune-up races this spring:

First up was Chattanooga 70.3 in May (my last post). I finished in a solid 8th place on a challenging course in 4:04. While I did NOT run well at all, it was mostly due to getting a little carried away on the bike. My new shorter 167.5 cranks were great and I just couldn't help myself.

Next up I raced Elkhart Lake, which is a competitive local event that usually has a few other pro's showing up. I entered the race pretty rooted from training and it showed in the first 20minutes... however once onto the bike I warmed into things. I managed a PR power output over the 45km distance at just under 340w. Though it didn't get me up to the front of the race, it did snag me my bike course record back. The run was average at best and though I didn't win, I did leave feeling confident that I was in a good spot 4 weeks out from Roth.

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Now I have just under 2 weeks until I leave for Germany. I have traveled and raced in Asia, Australia/New Zealand and South/Central America, but never Europe and I am stoked! This has been a race that I have wanted to do since I got into the sport!

I have 2 goals for this race; improve upon my PR and finish up in the money. This race is one of the most competitive on the planet outside of the World Champs, so a solid PR is likely what it will take to earn a check. If fall short, the one thing I know well after 15 years and over 30 Ironman races of experience, it's that there is always another race!

Thanks to my great support team who has me ready to go: Trek Bike Stores of Madison, Xterra Wetsuits, Catalyst Disk Covers, PowerBar, Peak Performance Massage, as well as Sport & Spine Physical Therapy. I wouldn't have a chance at doing this well without you.

Thank you also to all of Team BBMC. It's fantastic when those who hire you as their coach, return the support at your biggest events!

I am not sure if I will check in again before race day, but if not you can follow all of the action starting at 11:30pm CST on Saturday, July 11th over at www.challenge-roth.com

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After I get back from Germany, I'll be heading straight up to Door County Wisconsin to support 40 BBMC athletes toeing the line. From there it's back to Madison get ready for the 7th Annual Ironman Wisconsin Camp and then perhaps I'll start to look into a few more races later on in August.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Catching Up, Ironman 70.3 Choo-Choo, 2015 Team BBMC & Pacing

It's been a while since I have posted, so it's time to come back and hopefully post a bit more going forward. So keep an eye out...

First, let me catch you up to speed on all that's been going on.

CATCHING UP

The plan this year was to start early and race Ironman 70.3 San Juan. The training went great and I got very fit, especially on the bike. I can attribute that to 10-12/week on the trainer from December through February. These were hours that included 2-3 key sessions per week.

While I was preparing for SJ703, I was also looking to buy a house. As some of you home owners know, this can be a very time consuming task...especially in this anemic market. 3 weeks before San Juan, I found a great place and with all that was going on, I decided to pass on racing. I just didn't have the focus required.

Well, things didn't work out with the house and I was back to square one...and without a race. The next two months went about the same way, 3 more offers, I even had 1 accepted, but all 3 fell through. That brings my lifetime average to 0 for 5 right now. At least I have a lot of experience....

After this frustrating stretch I decided to ease off the search and focus on the season ahead. I needed a race to see where things are at, so I decided that Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga this coming weekend will be just that.


IRONMAN 70.3 CHOO-CHOO 


I don't really have any expectations, other than to race hard and be competitive. Dec-Feb were bike focused, Mar and April were run focused and the swim has been about where it has been in the last year. So I am looking forward to having things come together for a solid day at what is looking to be a very hot and humid race on a tough course with a competitive field of athletes! You can follow along this coming Sunday over on www.ironman.com.


2015 TEAM BBMC






With all that has been going on above, BBMC has been absolutely rocking and has turned into a full-time job and then some! We have grown in the off season and I happy to say that I am completely content where things are at. I am proud of what we have become and take pride in coaching each and every athlete, whether they live across the street or across the pond.

In addition to coaching, we have also added a 3rd Camp this year. You can check out all of the camps over at http://www.teambbmc.com/camps.php First up is our early season camp on May 30-31. If you are interested, we have 2 slots left to fill. I will personally gift a $20 Gift Card to the Trek Stores of Madison for the last 2 who register! Email me for more details.


PACING

Lastly, as we get into the season I think that one of the most important things that athletes can do to get the most out of themselves on race day is pace correctly. While it sounds simple, it's harder than it looks to let someone go early while having faith you can bring them back in the end. Short term sacrifice for long term reward if you will.

The result below is from the Monona 20k run race, which Race Day Events LLC puts on every year. It's a tough 20k route and also happens to be one of my favorite races in the area.

This year I decided that this year I was going to run a nice tempo, which would give me a nice fitness boost without needing a whole lot of recovery that a hard effort would need.

In the end, I almost ended up running my up into 2nd place, something you wouldn't have expected if you were watching the race at the 5km mark.

This is the type of pacing that gives you confidence the next time you decide to let an athlete who starts out too fast, go ahead in the early stages of a race.




That's all for this blog... as always, please excuse the typo's and thanks for reading!

More to come soon...