Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Ironman Arizona Race Report

It feels great to be writing a positive Ironman race report instead of the post mortem that usually follows, so I’m going to take a slightly different approach to this race report.  I’ll attempt to say less and post more pictures.  If you want all the details, just send me a message or ask a question and I’m glad to share.

Ironman is not an individual sport and without the support of many people I could never do this.  I owe a huge thank you to Theresa, Abigail, Zoot Sports, Spy Optics, Garmin, Gu, PR Bar, Zipp, Dr. Phil Skiba at Physfarm, Bartlett Gators Masters Swim Team, Tony, and so many more people I didn't mention..

This ironman was a bit different for me.  It was number 5 and I did not have a goal time in mind.  I also did not have a super complicated race plan with a ton of goals.  Instead my goal was simply to have a good run.  My race plan was also simple, swim and bike slow enough to have a good run.  I honestly did not care what my final time was as long as I finally ran well in an ironman.

I'm one of the ones to the far left away from the mess

Somehow Theresa managed to actually spot me on the swim.
I’m very proud to stay I stuck to my plan exactly.  I ignored everyone else and just did my thing.  When I didn’t feel good, I slowed down.  When I felt great, I made sure not to go over my target power/pace.  I never felt great, but I also never felt bad.  I literally went for 9 hours without a dark period.

Heading out on the bike

The numbers are:
Swim – 1:00:39
T1 – 3:39
Bike – 4:46:03
T2 – 1:05
Run – 3:17:24
Total – 9:08:50
1st M30-34 AG, 5th Amateur, 33rd Overall

But more importantly, I was never forced to slowdown or walk on the marathon and I never cramped.

Feeling great and holding back around mile 3

Working a bit harder now at mile 26

Instead of give the long boring play by play, here are the main things I did differently this time around:
·         I trained less and easier than ever before.  My longest rides were 4 hours and I only ran over 90 minutes a few times.
·         In training, if I didn’t feel good, I backed down instead of digging deep just to hit a target
·         I listened to Phil, who helped me listen to my body and when I didn’t feel great we backed down before it was an issue.  This ment I cut more workouts short and skipped more workouts than ever before.  But I got to the race feeling great and not on the end of being overtrained/under recovered like I have done many times before.
·         I took in about 100 calories more per hour during this race than previous ironman races
·         I trained with my race nutrition exactly for the 6 weeks up to the race to really dial it in
·         My race plan was simple…slow down if I didn’t feel like I could run the marathon of my life
·         I swam to the outside and didn’t worry about finding feet.  Instead I just did my thing and relaxed.  I swam hard for the first 5’ to get away from the crowd and then settled in and relaxed
·         I coasted a lot more than usual on the bike, but if I didn’t feel good, I just relaxed and let my body reset.
·         On the run, I ignored everyone and just did my thing the entire race.  I also brought my own bottle and ignored the aid stations completely for the first 6 miles or so.
·         Overall, it comes down to I didn’t force anything or push through anything.  I listened to my body and just went with it.  It sounds easy, but it took my 5 Ironman races to actually get it right.

Hmmm...I wonder what this says

"I want the trophy"

I definitely have some things I still need to work and some areas that I need to improve but it feels great to end the season on a good note, after a bumpy start.  I've replied the race many times in my head and there are things I could have done differently, but for once I'm just going to be content with the day I did have for a while.

Thank you for reading and feel free to ask questions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Vegas

For those that just want the quick version, I had an ok day. It could have been much worse as nothing went wrong. At the same time I was super flat feeling on the run and had my slowest 70.3 run in the last 5 years.

Overall, I'm ok with my race, but because it was a world championship, being flat on the run moved me way down the standings. That said I'm still proud that I was 141st overall and 34th in my age group at a world championship.

I was very impressed with this race. The course is outstanding for the most part and the weather makes it very challenging. It also seemed that many athletes from other countries made the trip which is awesome to see. I really hope that this race takes off and I can't wait to go back as I know I have a better race in me.

Sorry, I have no pictures as this was a solo trip, so just the boring details

This was my 3rd world championship race and this time I was much more relaxed. I felt like I was very well prepared, had nailed all my workouts in the last 8 weeks, and was confident I was ready for a good performance. Saturday I did my normal day before the race workouts. My swim was amazing, I went very easy but my stroke just felt great. The bike and run on the other hand were just fine but I wasn't feeling great like I usually do the day before the race. Instead of pushing it, I just backed down and went real easy for the bike and run. I was able to take an afternoon nap, stay off my feet and stay on top of my hydration for the rest of the day. That night I did the typical pre-race toss and turn and wake up every few hours.

Race morning, I was wide awake and felt good. I got my stuff setup quickly, had a good warm up jog and was ready to go.

Swim – 31:57
The swim felt great from the first stroke. I started to the outside and just swam for the first 5 minutes or so. I had very little contact and felt super relaxed. Then I worked my way over to the buoy line and got on some feet which lasted for a few more minutes until we started to overtake the wave in front of us. The rest of the swim was pretty much swimming around people which is pretty unusual for me. I had to sight significantly more than I'm used to and was worried that was going to slow my down a ton. I kept getting the urge to swim hard but I held back and just swam easy. I came out of the water feeling awesome and was shocked when I saw my time on my watch. It might not sound fast, but my PR is 31:20 for a wetsuit swim and I swam very hard in that race, this was 31:57 with no wetsuit and much less effort. My day was off to a great start but I had to focus on not getting too excited and take it easy through transition and the bike.

Bike – 2:32:04
Coming out of a very long T1 we had a moderate climb to get out of Lake Las Vegas and then a nice long descent into Lake Mead National Park. I took the climb as easy as I could and got some nutrition down and then relaxed on the downhill. This was perfect as it gave me a chance to let my heart rate settle before starting to work. The way out to the turnaround was rolling hills with more up than down. I watched my power carefully and really held back. As usual this meant I would get passed by a bunch of guys on every climb and then I would catch up on the downhill. Once we hit the turn-around I found myself with only a few other guys around and no one else in front of us. I went about 5 watts harder and stayed on the power nice and steady all the way to t2. Overall it was kind of boring, I saw less than 10 other riders total all the way back to T2. The last few miles seemed to take forever and I held back a little since I knew I was close to T2 and wanted to be ready to run. My power and heart rate were right where I wanted them and I felt great coming off the bike.


Run – 1:36:59
I left T2 and my body felt great but my legs were slow to turn over. They feel this way off the bike often and usually come to after a mile or two, so I just went with it. Right around the second aid station when I would have expected my legs to wake up, I instead I got a bad side stitch. I slowed down (even more), focusing on exhaling and walking the next aid station I was able to shake it pretty quickly. However I was now 3 miles in and my legs were still heavy and just didn't want to move any faster. I tried many times to pick it up but once the up hills came my legs just didn't have it. I actually felt totally fine finishing and my HR steadily climbed the entire run and never dropped off, my legs just didn't want to run. 

I really don't think I overcooked the bike as I hit my target watts, which were reduced from normal as I knew I would be on the bike longer and in the heat. My nutrition and hydration seemed right as I didn't have any issues (other than the short lived side stitch) and no cramping and even felt fine right after the race and for the rest of the day. It was hot but I never got the overheating feeling, just the normal cooking in the sun feeling.

I felt I should have been able to run 1:25 on a good day, and 1:30 on an off day, but man was I wrong. Last year I went almost 17 minutes faster at Oceanside and 11 minutes faster at both Muncie and Austin. Both of those races were also hot and hilly. Either I underestimated my run fitness, the heat took much more of a toll on me than expected, or I just had a flat day.

Overall – 4:46:10
Not the result I wanted, but I'm ok with it, especially as my first hot/dry race like this. When I passed the finish on lap 2 of 3 I briefly thought about calling it quits, but I'm very proud that I kept with it and did not give up. My legs never woke up but I never slowed down either. In fact, I actually slightly negative split the run and my HR increases steadily the entire time like it should.

I'm looking forward to doing this race again and continuing to chase the perfect race that I know I am capable of. This race showed how much my swim continues to improve and my nutrition worked well with zero crapping or dehydration issues on a very hot day. I've also learned to except that I will get some sort of a side stitch in most long races and instead of panicking, I know how to relax and deal with them.

As usual I never could have made it to this race with out the support of many people and there are a few I need to mention.  Theresa and Abigail who not only support my training and racing year round they encourage me.  Zoot Sports and the Zoot Ultra Team Sponsors (Spy, Gu, Garmin, PR Bar, Zipp) for all of the awesome products and support, particularly Jake and Molly.  All of my training partners that humor me and do my workouts.  Phil Skiba for stopping me from training myself into the ground.  As well as the many others like the Bartlett Masters team and Team EN.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 Lake Zurich Triathlon

After Leon's and Twin Lakes, I was a bit disappointed. Neither race went bad, but neither race went particularly well either. I really didn't want to wait until Vegas to race again so I made a last minute decision to race the Lake Zurich Triathlon. I decided to approach this race a little different. My typical Olympic distance or shorter race plan is swim hard, bike as close to LT as possible, and then hold on for the run. For Lake Zurich I decided to race an Olympic distance like a HIM and pace myself all day and pay attention to my nutrition.


Swim – It was two warm for a wetsuit which was good practice for me. I lined up slightly to the outside and decide I was not even going to think about drafting or packs or anything until at least 5 minutes or more into the swim. I did my thing and about 5 minutes in started to look around. I managed to lose the lead pack and was a good bit in front of the next group. So I ended up swimming 24 minutes on my own and came out with no one in sight in front or behind me. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with a 24 minute, solo, non-wetsuit swim. The best part was that I never pushed too hard and came out of the water feeling great.


Bike – Usually I leave T1 at full speed and see how long I can hold on in short races, this time I held myself back like in a HIM and let my heart rate settle. Then I took some calories in and slowly worked up to speed. Instead of trying to average my goal watts, I used the same target as an upper limit and never went above it. I slowly picked off the guys in front of me and worked my way up to second. 1st was far up the road but on the straight away I could see the lead vehicle. I really wanted to go after him but I stuck to my plan. On the second loop, I was passed on the bike. I felt my cadence pick up and I kept starting to close the gap but I stayed back and let him get a little in front of me. I really wanted a good run at this race so I just sat back the rest of the race and keep 1 and 2 in my slight up the road. I ended up riding just over 59 minutes and came into T2 in 3rd and down by about 15 seconds… but my legs felt great.


Run – Just like the bike, my instinct was I had to catch the guys now, but I forced myself to do my thing. The first mile was my slowest mile and I negative split every mile after that. I took the lead around mile 4 and then found out the guy I passed (#1) actually started in the second wave. When he passed me earlier in the race on the bike I figured he was in the same wave as me since he had number 1…that's what I get for assuming. I ran the last 2 miles pretty hard and got a good lead but not nearly enough to make up the 3 minute gap between waves.


All in all, it was a pretty good day for me. I felt awesome from start to finish. I crossed the line feeling great and easily could have kept going. I didn't win, and even if I knew the guy that passed me was in the wave behind I probably could not have made about two more minutes on him. I'm pleased knowing that I put in a very controlled but solid effort. My gear, pacing, nutrition, and body all felt great.
Now onto a solid block of training to get ready for Vegas.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TTT and a Sprint

Two weeks ago Zoot teammate Rick Lapinski and I decided to do a 40k Team Time Trial for fun. I did this race before and it was anything but fun. It was about 40 and raining and super windy… in June. Anyway, the weather was much better this year, however a thunderstorm did come out of no where but that was after we were back at the cars. The first 15 minutes went well and then I slide of the back of Rick's wheel on a turn and pushed hard to close the gap and then take my pull. After that I could tell my legs weren't into it and then to make matters worse the clamp that holds the saddle to the seat post broke and my saddle become loose. As long as I balanced perfectly in the middle of the saddle it was fine but the second I slid in any direction the saddle would move. The next 40 minutes were not fun at all, but Rick had a really strong ride and pulled me in. We ended up winning the open division and once again I remembered how bad an open TT hurts (especial when you can't really put any weight on the saddle).
Today I went back to race the Twin Lakes Triathlon in Palatine, a local race that I did for the first time 2 years ago. Last time I wasn't sure what to expect but I ended up having an outstanding race and winning.
I jumped in to do the warm up swim and my stroke felt great, probably the best it has ever felt. I was super relaxed, swimming easy and had a great feel for the water. So for my warm up swim I did the full 700M course in 10:40, which is really good for me considering I never once swam hard. I started right up front and immediately got swam over by about 4 guys, than swam around them to the outside in the first 200 meters, and then started making my way over to the buoy line and got mixed in with another pack. I tried to get in front, but I just couldn't get away and ended up with the group for the rest of the swim. I ended up only going 19 seconds faster in the race, while swimming much harder, then I when swimming super easy on my own just a half hour before the race.
T1 was my quickest ever and I managed to pass 2 or 3 people. On the bike I passed another 3 people in the first mile and was then on my own the rest for the ride. I never saw anyone in front of me, but assumed someone was up the road so I keep pushing. The course had probably 30 turns in 14.5 miles so it was really hard to get into a rhythm. I ended up riding a few watts higher than 2 years ago, but never caught up. I believe I came into T2 about 2 minutes down on the leader.
T2 was also perfect and I was out on the run course in 38 seconds. I felt good starting to run but I didn't have any speed in my legs and they were heavy. I keep pushing through and they did loosen up. Each mile got a little faster and I felt a little better. A little after the third mile marker I could see the lead truck up the road. I did everything I could, but just ran out of road and crossed the line just over 30 seconds behind the winner.
Sure I would have liked to have won this race again, but I'm pleased that I went about 30 seconds faster than last time I did it and it was another race with no issues. I've had this feeling all year that I've been flat as I haven't had any really great races, but other than the TTT, all my races have actually been very solid and I've executed without issues. Now it is time for a good solid block of training to peak for Vegas.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Leon’s Tri 2012

About two weeks ago, three people emailed one weekend to make sure I was ok after I hadn't posted on twitter/facebook/blog or anything for a while. This made me realize that I have so many great friends I have made doing endurance sports and it's been a long time since I've been online and posted anything.

To those that were concerned, thank you, I appreciate your messages. I'm 100% fine, actually I'm really good. There have just been other things in my life that required my attention and triathlon took a back seat for a little while. We sold our house which was a challenge having a two year old and me working at home the majority of the time. Then we found a new house but couldn't move for a few days and then had some projects we had to do. We are thrilled with the new house and very fortunate we could sell our old house and move, but it was very stressful and time consuming. At the same time I took on more responsibility at work and have been working long hours for a while now. Anyway, that all meant that I had to miss some workouts and I had zero time for being on facebook/slowtwitch/etc. I ended up missing two races in May due to moving which made Leon's Tri my first real race of the year.

Swim 20:27 – I started the swim wide and just wanted to have a solid swim to measure my fitness. The swim felt awesome. I was never once breathing hard and out in no time. I'm sure the course was a bit short as I went 20:27, but it felt and looked the same as last year and I went about a full minute faster. The biggest difference is last year I came out of the water exhausted and swam really hard, this year it felt like a warm up. I believe I was in about 15th overall after the swim and I had the 36th fastest swim of the day…. very unusual for me. All the swimming over the winter is paying off.

Bike 1:00:04 – Last year I crushed the bike and made up a ton of ground, but then fell apart on the run. So this year I held back and really focused on just relaxing and taking in some nutrition for the first half. Then in the second half I tried to ride a little harder but my legs weren't feeling it, so I backed down. I ended up holding 5 watts less than last year and came into T2 in 7th (compared to 3rd last year.

Run 36:50 – I felt pretty good leaving T2 but just like on the bike my legs just weren't there today. This has happened before and usually they just need a mile to get going, so I figured if I just held on and didn't force it I would be able to speed up. Well, my legs never felt better and I never picked up the pace. The good news is, I never felt worse and never slowed down either. It was kind of strange because I felt like I could have held the same pace for 13.1 miles, but I just couldn't speed up at all.

2:00:01 – 9th overall

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this race, but now that it is over, I guess it turned out exactly like I should have expected. My weakness has always been and is still the swim. Over the winter I focused on swimming and swam much more than ever before while riding/running a little less. That seems to have paid off because I swam faster and felt better than ever coming out of the water. Both my bike and run were just a little slower that I would have liked/expected, but it's the first race of the season and I still have a few months to get them back.

Overall, it was uneventful but great start to the season. I had absolutely zero issues with gear/nutrition/pacing/anything and was in full control of my race the entire time. To make the day even better I raced on a team with a few of my Zoot Ultra Tri Team teammates and we won the Co-Ed team challenge.

The highlight of the day had to be when my two year old daughter got body marked before the race, told me she was going to show me how to swim, and then was waiting for me at the finish line to run with me. As usual thank you to Theresa and Abigail for supporting all of my training and racing, and to Zoot and our Ultra team sponsors. On that note, I had the opportunity to race in the Zoot Kiawe. For about 3 years now, I've felt the Ultra Race 2.0 were the best Zoot shoes ever made, but the Kiawe is very quickly changing my mind. If you are look for a light weight race shoe for tri's, definitely take a look at the Kiawe.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Zoot Camp 2012

Since I'm on a flight with no wireless internet and I'm caught up on all my email that is synced on my computer I finally have time to write a blog post. I'm on the way home from another great weekend with the Zoot Ultra Team and our sponsors in Carlsbad and wanted to check in and share a few thoughts.

First of all, I have to say that year after year the team camp is one of my favorite times of the year. We don't really train, just hang out for two days but it is always a great time. Every year I make new friends and always learn something new at the camp. This year was no different.

Of course we had fun, got lots of great product from sponsors, learned about current and future products, but something else became obvious to me this year. The reason I like Zoot so much is how passionate and committed everyone is.

I had the opportunity to talk individually with about half of the Zoot employees throughout the weekend and it was apparent that every single one of them was passionate about what they did and committed to making the best products they can. They don't work for Zoot because it is their job; they work for Zoot because they want to make appearal, shoes, etc.

Three years ago Dave told me he does not want to hear that I like Zoot shoes, but he wants to know about every issue or complaint. I realized this weekend it's not just Dave, it's everyone at Zoot. They are a very close and small team (11 people) but every one of them I have worked with truly wants to make the best product they possibly can.

So, Jake, Molly, Dave, Steve, Shaun, Marirose, and Kevin, THANK YOU for making awesome gear and always listening to our feedback. I'm honored to be able to continue working with you for another year and am excited to see what you come up with next.

On that front, we got a sneak preview of a new shoe coming out in June that I'm really excited about. This is a totally different shoe then the current line and was built from scratch. It was cool to see how excited Dave was about this shoe. A few pictures are starting to show up on twitter and Zoot athletes.  Some of our other sponsors had some great products I'm excited about as well.  The SPY Optics Screws glasses fit great, stay in place and are very comfortable, I can't wait to get some more of their sunglasses.  Since I love having data on all my training and racing the Garmin 910XT is also going to be great.

Anyway, my realization about how passionate the Zoot team is really got me thinking about other situations in my life. I realized that my best days whether at home, work or in triathlon were when I was truly committed to and passionate about something. However recently I have been taking on more and more responsibility at work in an effort to grow and expand my career.  At the moment I'm stretched pretty thin and I'm not as committed to a few things as I want to be. Now that I realized this, I'm working hard to take care of all the extra noise in my life at the moment, so I can quickly get back to really being focused on the things I want to: My family, my racing, and certain parts of my job.

In other news, last month I did the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL. It was about 40 degrees warmer then usual and somehow I think the hills grow every year. I still had a pretty good run and was about 30 seconds slower than my PR on that course. I was able to place 7th overall (again). More importantly, my swim continues to improve every month.

I'm also excited to share that I was selected as Athlete of the Month in the April edition of Chicago Athlete Magazine.

Coming up next I have two races scheduled for May. Wildflower on the west coast, and American Zofingen on the east coast.  It may be a bit before I check in on the blog again, but I will as soon as I have a chance.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

That went by fast...

I just did the race I consider the start to my season every year and after I finished I realized I haven't posted a blog since my last race of last season.  Sorry about that.  I am alive and well.  Just super busy at work which is a good thing as  I'd much rather be busy than bored or unemployed.  Any free time I have is either training or spending time with my family, so things like this blog, twitter, facebook, etc have slipped off my radar for the last few months.

Anyway, today was the local Life Time Fitness Indoor Tri.  I've done this for the last 4 years to benchmark my fitness coming out of the out season and starting up my training for my first race.  In the grand scheme of things this race is like a C race for me but I'm always really nervous as I really want to see some improvement.

I'm very excited that I was able to show improvement and set PBs on the swim, bike and run today.  I was expected to swim better as I have been swimming considerable more than previous years and consistently with a local Masters team.  However, I wasn't sure about the bike and run.  Workouts have been going very well but for the most part I'm putting up the same numbers I was last season.

No that the season is underway, I'll make a better effort to check in here more often.  Coming up next is the Cary March Madness Half Marathon and then I'm off to San Diego for Zoot Camp.  I'm looking forward to another weekend with the Zoot team and working with them again this year.