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This is the last post of the year as we've been busy working on the 2010 Boulder Altitude Camp details. So many details to attend to and schedules to coordinate, it really is an exciting thing to put this iron distance camp together. It will be tons of fun and learning for everyone here in Boulder. If you are interested in this camp and want to "train your brains out" and learn a lot about yourself and iron distance racing, with a group of overly obsessed athletes, this is the camp for you~ ! The "schwag bag" is going to rock, our sponsors have put their foot forward and will send you home a happy camper.
What a whirlwind past "quarter" it has been, can't believe how the time has flown. This season started out great thus far, with everyone PR'ing in early races--Mark, a local guy from Golden, set 2 PR's in half marathons he competed in this year, a day after a 100 mile ride, then again a day after a 80 mile ride. While I told him not to ride so long beforehand--he still PR'd.. I'm really wondering how fast this guy could go on a day where he just rested. They were both training days for IM CDA this summer anyhow and he had the opp for a really long ride in nice warm weather rather than the trainer or freezing cold of Colorado, can't say as I blame him! Two others that raced & set PRs, John & Bob, in the Walt Disney Marathon. John qualified for his first Boston Marathon which he'll race in 2011, he's really doing great & seems quite a bit more serious than past years.
The BAC (Boulder Altitude Camp) has really taken shape & we currently have athletes from coast to coast (Florida to California) who will be attending. While we have spots available, we are hoping more come to Boulder for a week long fun in the sun & learning about Iron Distance training & racing.
After 10 long years, I finally have my new ride! Still getting adjusted to it and dialing it in a little closer. While I'm coming up on my first race of the season shortly, I'll have a nice bike that will hopefully compensate a little bit for the lack of fitness so far. I had Wolfgang Dittrich film me in the pool & give his top-notch swimming expertise to me about a week and a half ago. My stroke feels like I've changed it drastically but to my surprise he thought my stroke was not that bad. For a later starting swimmer (I think I was 18 at the time), it seems I've made up for lost time--never having been a swimmer in high school nor on the local swim team...I fell into it late, but trained seriously with a small Master's group up at University. The swim coach was the head US Deaf Swim Team Coach and was very good--with both his daughters setting school (collegiate) records in their time. So far the run seems to be coming along, hopefully I can rely on my strength to get me through this upcoming half ironman and produce a decent result. I know "decent" is arbitrary but considering the near 3 year injury that comes & goes, I'd say any "podium" finish would be very satisfying at this point.
Spring has sprung in Boulder & we have had rain, snow, sleet, warm & cold temperatures. It is only a few weeks from the buds starting to transform into leaves. A few rains & warm days things will start greening up around here. I'm looking forward to some races this year even though I'm only signed up for one so far. I'll develop my race plan as the season progresses, hopping into races randomly. The important thing now is to just get in as good of shape as I can so that when I do enter a race, I'll be able to contend for a high placing. Time to ride...
The Story of a real triathlon hero...
A long time ago in a land far, far away I began my career in triathlon, which developed through a lot of hard work and seemingly endless hours of post-midnight bike trainer rides in the basement of my parent’s house. It was in the wee hours of the morning after a , or or whatever screwy hours they gave me…in a labor job during the summers between college years, when already tired—I pounded out the miles in the summer night heat of a small room with no air conditioning. After those rides I would usually take to the plastic covered concrete weights I inherited from my brother who decided exercise would not be part of his daily lifestyle. The only real reason I wasn’t heading straight to bed upon my shift’s end was because I didn’t like second place. Not in the overall standings or my age group…second was the first place loser. Fast forward to the race seasons during college and post-college years, when first place overall in my area was nearly an every race occurrence. There was a weekend where I won a triathlon on Saturday, then raced again the next day—winning both of them overall. It was not just by a small margin, but quite a bit—well over 5 minutes in both sprint races.
Was it a case of poor competition and small fields? Possibly, but not to those attending the races. I had heard of another fast guy from Green Bay that was lighting up the circuit around the US, in pretty much any town/any race whether it was on the national or world level. One day this guy showed up at a race I fully expected to win. I actually thought I was in the lead at one point until I got about a mile from the 10 K turn around of the run. This guy would have been at the 4 mile marker while I was only at the 2 mile marker…”What the…? *)@” Did this guy take a short cut and do the entire course? “No bleeping way…” I thought to myself. Later I found out it was the guy from Green Bay and it all made sense. I had a chance to talk to him…his name: Chris Peeters. A few years later he showed up again and I was able to close the gap on the bike…this time, my foe was only about a quarter mile into the run when I was arriving at T2. Finally, I was able to show myself Chris was in fact human by denting his large lead out of the swim. Little did I know I had blown my running legs in order to chase him down (but I had still biked faster so that was a small victory in itself). Over the years this guy was the carrot I chased in my training sessions, since he was the best.
Chris disappeared for a few years while going to medical school, getting his doctorate in Radiology. It took me a few years to improve and leap up to levels that included Team USA and multiple Ironman World Championships. When he returned to racing after med school, he came back to the sport stronger. Once again, he was faster, stronger and was able to take down the likes of even some of the strongest athletes in the world. Athletes who have become of legendary age group lore—many of whom I had already beaten multiple times such as Tim Hola from the semi-pro group Team Timex. Even when guys like Hola were at their very best at the Ironman World Championships, Chris’s best was better, faster. An unassuming guy who I got to know over the last two decades, Chris is a class act. Always humble and willing to share whatever knowledge about racing and training, Chris was far from protecting his routine. I admired the accomplishments both on the race scene and off the race scene. He is a whole 3-4 years older than I am, so not too much older…yet we raced each other for nearly two decades and I have never finished ahead of him.
Likely, Chris never knew it was he that would help drive me to become better in this sport. He was one of my biggest rivals yet I was nothing of the sort to him as he was so much faster—nor likely was I ever a threat in races to him no matter what the distance. Still, this is a guy that I placed a target on for nearly two decades and who over those years, became one of the few heroes I had in the sport. Not Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Molina, or Scott Tinley, but a guy from Green Bay. He is a “real” person with a “real” job, not a media-driven full time sponsored athlete who pretends they have lived in the real world most of us live in while trying to climb the rankings of this sport. No salaries to buoy his training over the years by some sponsor, or months of just training in exotic places like so many pros at the top level have done. That is why I saw some of myself in him, and aspired to remotely reach even a sliver of what he has done in the sport. If he could do it so could I type of thing.
I was riding one day this summer with Barry Siff, founder of 5430 Sports, when he told me Chris Peeters was retiring from racing at a young age of 43. Turned out that he recently discovered he has M.S. If you don’t know what this is, it is a cruel sentence on the human body that debilitates those afflicted with it. There are many forms of it and degrees of severity, but let’s just say it isn’t something an athlete can really ever see themselves having because we are usually so used to being able to achieve the impossible with our body. I was at the US Junior National Championships coaching in the Mentor Program for USAT just a few weeks ago, running a clinic for over 100 kids, with about 6 assistant coaches. I contacted Chris since I was to be in the area, after not seeing him for some years (of course I fell out of touch and wondered where the heck he had been…)
He invited me over to his house for dinner, to meet his wife and 8-month old daughter. I was flattered to be invited to sit down for supper at one of my biggest hero’s home. I must admit, it was a great time. I passed on the beer and went for what was actually one of the tastiest spinach salads I’ve had (but picked the almonds out due to allergies). He had ordered pizza, so Chris, Laurie (Chris’s wife), and I sat around reminiscing about the athletes we raced against back in the Midwest throughout the years. Then…the awkward part of the visit came that choked me up (I tried to hide it best I could). I feel you should tell people of their importance in your life, especially, if they help you to become a better person or whatever. Just because they helped you in some way, shape or form—even if you don’t normally hang out together. I think Chris picked up on the fact I was bothered by his diagnosis and mentioned something about how people can have pity parties or just move on in life. I wasn’t there for a pity party certainly, but to tell him how much of a POSITIVE effect he has had on my life without him directly knowing it. The getting “choked up” part came about just because I care about people I think it is a raw deal he is getting…that’s just me. Regardless, I set out to do something I should have told him a long time ago, tell him. It may have seemed odd for him and his wife to hear, but what the hell, I’ve never claimed I wasn’t odd in some way, shape or form. In hindsight, I felt like a dork, but whatever.
I wondered why I never mentioned this to him before. All I could come up with is that I needed to keep my race face on whenever I saw him and not give up any power. I really honestly felt I could take him one day, now I’ll never know. One thing that is for sure, it doesn’t matter. In fact, what matters most is that he as served a great purpose in my life whether he knew it or not, causing me to aspire to become better than what I could have been without him as a carrot. I suppose it is a case of “if he could do it so can I” type of thing as I said earlier. I left his house feeling like I made contact with an old friend, sitting around having an informal dinner chatting about old times. It was pretty cool and I HOPE it wasn’t too weird for him to hear how he inspired me. Last thoughts here…I sure wish a cure for MS would become a reality with all the Labor Day millions in research gathered over the years. Last year, I also lost the manager that hired me last year due to MS, it is time a cure came about to battle it down to the levels of a head cold. What a great thing this would be with Labor Day just passing about a week ago. Besides, it sure would be nice to kick Chris’s butt in a triathlon at least one time!
PRE KONA POST
Hawaii Ironman is only around 5 weeks away as of this posting, I'll be heading there for the 8th time to compete. June was a long ways away--years it seems. I've added a few pounds from slacking, in order to tend to other aspects of life. I was up to 155 lbs a few weeks ago but have gotten down to 147 with eating smarter and more training. Ideally, I'd like to be back to 143 like I was at Ironman CDA this June. I did a major training ride yesterday with one of my athletes and Max (below in the picture) cleaned my clock. I tried to cycle within myself be he just took me out of my comfort zone. Could it have been the 4 hours of sleep the night before the ride after spending half the night in Denver with a buddy I see often? Could be. Was it the "spagetti noodle" spoke that was on my wheel? (My wheel had some very, very loose spokes and I was concerned it would collapse upon discovering it on the ride.) That really shook my confidence in that I wasn't able to climb in the mountains or descend like I normally could. Was it the 8.1 mile run at zone 3 around dinner time just before I went out that night? Maybe it was the 3,000 swim with intervals just before that run. Possible too was it the 700 calories I had only eaten that day up until dinner at Marco's around 8 PM. A lot of bone-headed things just before a key ride gearing up for Hawaii. Either way, Max toasted me on the ride, but I couldn't be happier. Here is a guy that is totally 100% focused on qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman. He is ON THE LINE and all he needs to do is to cross that line on race day. Being only a few guys from Hawaii the last 2 Ironman races, I think this year is it. Vast improvement in all areas. His power numbers on his Power Tap are way up, his power files look perfectly executed, and for the first time in his life, he is dropping me on training rides while just going through the motions. Here is a guy that has won his AG in the Mile High Duathlon Series, and a top contender in all multisport races in his AG he has been in this year--even with guys who should be racing pro ranks. IM AZ is only a few months away, keep it going Max! Keep it going...you'll be a Jedi one day!
Onto Kona discussion. My public picks are last year's winners. I don't see anyone catching Chrissy anytime soon, she's just a class by herself. Craig is doing some crazy training and is a neighbor of mine, so I've had the opportunity to talk with him some lately--even riding with him on one occasion. He sounds geared up & confident. I look too, for a resurgent Tim DeBoom if his injury history doesn't plague him. With Tbjorn Sindeballe out this year, that leaves the door open for a top 3 finish by just about any of 20 athletes. Tbjorn is out of racing/retired due to a heart problem. I wonder what is going on with all the heart issues...Tbjorn, Amanda Lovato, Greg Welch, even Jo Zeiger had some issues this year. Something rather odd about that. Could triathlon or more specifically Ironman be responsible for this? There are many more but not enough time to list everyone. Anyhow, I pick Craig for the men. Expect to see a push by recent Spaniards coming up through the ranks. Eneko was 2nd last year in Kona, so he should be up there too.
For myself, I have already had a successful season. My #1 goal was to get back to Kona. My #2 goal (not met) was to win my AG in IM CDA which means I had to push myself to my utmost limits--which I didn't as I had a lot left on the run, and could have pushed harder on the bike. My #3 goal is to PR for the Hawaii course. This is going to be tough to do as I do not do well in hot weather no matter what heat training I do. I am feeling a little "off" and tired right now from all the training and the mind seems to be satisfied with just "doing Kona" again...but I would hate to just go through the motions one more time. If I can muster the fortitude it will require on race day, it may turn out different, but I'm not holding my breath. Personally, I think I was more ready for IM CDA than I will be for Hawaii. I was able to pull off a 16:04 only 12 days after IM CDA in a 5K running race--a lot of that speed and fitness seems to have gone by the wayside this summer as I've had many family projects/house projects to work on. Whatever happens on October 10th, I know at least I will have earned the right to be there. As long as I finish in the daylight and go to the best of my ability, it doesn't matter what place I am in overall or age group. My #1 goal was just to get back there. That said, this season has been a success despite only a couple races all season. It has been fun--especially the coaching part.
Onto US JUNIOR NATIONALS in Colorado Springs. About a month ago I was invited by USA Triathlon as one of only five coaches from around the US to participate in the Elite Mentorship Program. In conjunction with JR NATIONALS, I got to teach a running clinic to about 100 kids one afternoon. Each coach was assigned to a part of the clinic. Todd Wiley from PA was the swim coach--a guy I used to race a lot before he turned pro. I ran with Todd on a training run and swam in the outdoor Olympic Training Center pool one afternoon with the other coaches. By the way, this was the CLEANEST outdoor pool I've ever seen. The facilities in the Springs really are world class and filled with luxury for the athletes--it's not a bad deal if you're one of the nation's best! There was a chance to work with the athlete's resident coach, Justin...attend track sessions with the resident athletes...and even talk with recent US National 5K record holder Lukas Verzbicas. Lukas was on the track a few days before as the "rabbit" for Mark Fretta and another US team resident named Greg. Lukas is 16 years old and ran a 14:18 5K...something that PRE, Shorter, not even Ritz or Kennedy had done at that age. The talent these juniors have and seriousness puts one in awe and makes you realize how good you can become if there is the support and desire to push yourself to your utmost limits day in and day out. I was happy to sit in on a swim practice with nearly all the Training Center athletes like Sara Groff, Hunter Kemper, Mark F, Sarah Haskins and about 15-20 others. Andy Potts was not there that day, but his personal coach runs the swim portion of the program. Being one of only five coaches in the USA to be invited to work at the Olympic Training Center was an honor, learning experience, and a helluva lot of fun! Happy training, see you out on the race course!
My room mates for the race (L to R) Laurie, Bill & Sister Madonna Buder
Bill & Laurie chilling pre-race night
We got all access & VIP tables!
Fastest AG run 40-44: Coach KK
Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2009 Race Report
The long road back from a two year long injury to prepare for this journey began back in November 2008. A PRP injection started the ball rolling; it is a new treatment for chronic injury that doesn’t heal much on its own. At 162 lbs, all my pants were tight and belts were no longer needed. My past racing diet held me to around 153 lbs. on average for Ironman fitness, but 162 lbs to start with was something beyond that which I had ever reached starting a training cycle. I knew that the days of poor eating had to stop right then with relentless focus and execution, consistency and mental preparation. Family support became essential for the upcoming half a year, knowing I would be around less on the weekends training substantial amounts (for me) for many weeks. Ironman and succeeding at it takes such vast resources physically, emotionally, financially, mentally…it isn’t for the faint of heart. I made the commitment after my worst Ironman time ever in Arizona back in April 2008; it was time to get that old feeling back in the legs. I narrowed the waistline down to a svelte 143-145 lbs, while maintaining my power numbers with my power meter—actually increased the numbers to a degree compared to last year. Never before have I raced at such a light weight. This was the lightest I had been since high school as a senior. I’ve fought off a 2 month+ stress fracture in the same place/foot as when I ran in college and then used just under 2 months prior to this race, to attempt to get some sort of run fitness back. The layoff concerned me, but I focused on cycling/swimming instead.
I left on Thursday the week of the race, scheduled to depart at 5:55 PM. Checking if the flight times changed online, my wife told me the flight was cancelled and I was put on a later 9:35 PM flight instead. Then it was delayed until 9:55, and then delayed again until 9:57 and again until 10 PM. This concerned me as I needed to pick up my car rental and drive to CDA, 45 minutes away and I would be getting in late. The other issue was the airport car rentals closed at midnight. We sat on the runway for 35 minutes after taxiing, or 10:45 PM. It was around a 1:45 flight time with an hour roll back due to time zone change. We landed at 11:56 PM but didn’t get off the plane until around 12:05. Luckily, the car rental folks stayed open knowing there was a plane just landing. I ate one of those egg salad sandwiches in a sealed plastic Saran-Wrap-like container and drank a Gatorade from an all night open gas station on Barker Rd. Nothing else was open off of highway 90 through Spokane aside from a Carl Jrs. The egg salad sandwich actually wasn’t that bad—the nutrition report on the side of the package showed it was well within my new “healthy” diet. La Quinta Inn in CDA was a $139/night noise machine; I slept 4 hours and heard the neighbor peeing a dozen times in the next room throughout the night. I promptly checked out that morning and went to the Best Western a block away, as they had a block of rooms cancelled. This was a really nice place, but it was $179/night. It was worth it though, as I rested very, very well and was totally relaxed. With the room all to me and no noise bothering me at all, it was a good night of sleep. A friend from Boulder, oddly enough, was staying just THREE doors down from where I was on the same floor. Maybe the folks at the front desk knew we planned on getting together anyhow as we attended the race “solo”?So we chummed around for the next day, ate breakfast together, hit the expo. Good stuff. Then I ran into Bill, a fast guy I am coaching and another gal from Boulder (who unfortunately DNF’d due to serious back issues)—Laurie (who was there signing up for 2010). Bill had an extra room so invited me to stay there with him, Laurie, and sister Madonna Buder. I stayed with them the next two nights so they were my room mates for the key days up to the race. Really I hadn’t expected to stay in three different places the first three nights. But if you do sign up for CDA, rent a house—it is economical compared to the hotels, and above all don’t get a room at the La Quinta Inn off of Hwy 90 on Apple Way…it’s a noisy, expensive dump and you will regret it!
I never did get a swim in before the race due to time constraints. The weather was quite cold (I heard it was 60 F as a high on race day—a bit cool by 2 to 4 degrees I think), but I still only used toe warmers and regular warm weather race outfit on the bike. No gloves or anything, or arm warmers…I took a chance in that I left my Craft long sleeve thermal base layer in my T1 bag banking on luck the weather would hold. Cold weather races suit me better for some reason—I guess because I come from a colder climate originally. It stayed dry did but was very, very windy with 4 foot waves. The swim was extremely slow and the roughest water they’ve had there with 15 mph winds. I laughed during much of the swim and had a good old time having waves go under me, disappear then dropping me straight down with a body slam back into the water. Many swimmers were being pulled from the water from what the post-race video of rescue boats showed. People were getting motion sick to their stomach swimming. The key was to smile, laugh, stay relaxed and just deal with it. Get worked up and it is wastes energy you need for later in the race. Conserve during the swim, steady on the bike while monitoring calorie/liquid consumption, and power numbers as well as mph, then try to hold it together on the run. The plan was anything left with 10Km on the run was going to be dished out in full. I exited the swim feeling like I really didn’t just swim 2.4 miles; it was almost TOO easy despite the conditions. Someone said I had around the 14th fastest swim in my age group but I don’t know, didn’t look it up yet. Out of nearly 362 in my AG, that is pretty good for screwing around having a “tour” out there.
The bike was a bit different as this was the bane of my training/racing the last two years and caused me the most misery training from the pain level. My time wasn’t that impressive with a 5:22 compared to the 5:05-5:15 most the other guys were doing in the top 10 of my AG. But it was all I could muster without destroying my chances for a good run. I was counting bikers at the first turn around, where I was in 74th place overall. I was with the eventual AG winner Brett Sublett for the first 56 miles, and then dropped off on the second lap quite a bit. Brett was so far in front after the bike my top AG run time couldn’t dent his lead too much aside from 5 minutes…however, take away those mentioned pee breaks during the race and I would have been staring right at his back coming down the finish chute. It didn’t matter though, my mission was accomplished, and I finished the run while running the entire thing. Plus, I captured my 13th Hawaii Ironman qualification. After this race, I would say I pretty much have qualifying for Hawaii Ironman figured out, while holding a full time job and with a kid. This is something I think most coaches can’t say they can do (despite some claiming to be specializing in training Ironmen)…so it is something I can pass onto my athletes on how to do this. Qualifying for Kona while holding together a real life and with responsibilities isn’t easy. Finding a balance in life while not having to forfeit everything to get to Kona is often a tough medicine to swallow. But you do have to do your work and stay focused, unwavering in your determination. In my situation, the extra support of my wife made a huge difference too (thanks honey!)
I ended up with over 3,000 miles cycling since November, so these were numbers beyond what I was used to training. However, since I wasn’t running, I had a little time to bike more. The cycling still was not at a point where I was 100% satisfied for this race, but it was enough to come off the bike and finish with the fastest AG run of the day. While my time was 9:43 and change for a hilly and windy course, I was a little over-hydrated on race day. The first stop was T1, had to pee. Same went for T2, peed before running. On the bike, I pulled off around mile 60-something and used the porta-potty at an aid station. On the run I pulled over FIVE times and counted 1-one thousand, 2-one-thousand, etc. until I hit 40. Yep, 40 before I stopped. Total time lost there was 45 seconds (getting in and out of the potty actually takes a couple seconds, not to mention losing your momentum). Each stop was 40-45 seconds each time…sometimes you just have to count so you know what you’re actually losing. Long and short of it is I ended up losing 2nd place in the AG due to peeing and quite a few overall spots as there were many athletes just a couple minutes in front of me. I know it sounds uncouth, but the reality is, if you’ve ever raced with a full bladder you know how distracting it can be, if not just from discomfort. My marathon run time was actually 3:07-3:08 taking out the bathroom breaks…and I was far from tapped out on pace. I can run faster—maybe next year? Around 9 miles left in the run I felt a little “woozy” so started immediately on pretzels for the salt, which did not help much. Next plan was to take in anything that had high calories, so in thinking what they had at aid stations, I determined chocolate chip cookies and de-fizzed cola were my best options for my caloric deficit. The caffeine would most undoubtedly have an effect. It brought me back a bit so I calculated with one final turn around point, that I was sitting in about 4th to 5th place with only 4.75 miles to go according to the race numbers I saw at the turn around points. I knew one guy was “Sean” something so I looked at the numbers on the back of the legs of the athletes to identify anyone in my AG. My mission was to hunt this cat down and pass him—which I did with around 2 miles left in the race. This is the only time I went top speed on the run, knowing I had to catch a few people in order to podium but still needing to be able to conserve enough to complete the run while actually running the entire thing.
There was an old “pay back” settled on this day, in that a rather excellent athlete and head coach of another coaching business from California…finished behind me (we’re now 1-1). I’ll call him Military Guy or MG for short. This is the same cat that took first at Ironman Brazil in my AG a few years ago. I raced Brazil with a slight sprained ankle that year finishing only 20 seconds behind him for third place, with a guy from Italy sandwiched 16 seconds ahead of me and only 4 seconds behind MG. MG had passed me near the end on a steep downhill which I had to pull up on pace due to the sprain. To which I never caught him but was closing fast.
MG was behind me the entire bike at IM CDA until I pulled over on the bike to use the porta-potty. So when I saw him at one turn around on the bike and he was behind me, then saw him again on the run and he was ahead—I knew my breaks allowed him to pass without knowing it. When I caught him at around three miles into the run, I knew he was going to have to “pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down” if he was going to keep pace. I was watching his cadence and it looked a little labored but wisely conservative. I was so relaxed and just cruising without hardly any effort…even looking at a few nice houses along the lakeshore in admiration before regaining focus on the task at hand. Seriously though, my concentration was above normal for a race in my opinion—doing everything I “preach” to those athletes I coach on race day. I kept tabs on MG but he eventually finished about 7 minutes down on me…not including what “could” have been without the breaks. That would have made the run difference between us a full 11 minutes. But still, I respect the guy as he may have just had an off day. Just a little friendly competition but heck, it makes for a dramatic race!
When I rode with Dave Scott before his accident a little over a month ago, he asked what my expectation or goals were for the race. It was merely to finish the race without walking—which I did. Sure, I wanted to finally get back to Kona for my 13th qualification/8th time racing it. Ultimately, I would like to PR before I get too old to break it. While I do not do well at all in the heat, especially in Kona, I feel I can do it if I work hard enough. I will be racing myself only—not even attempting to compete specifically with even any local athletes who did well at IM CDA or others. The goal is clear: go faster than my current Kona PR. If it happens, great, if not, I tried to the best of my ability. There is always another race next year, never give up on your dreams or goals. It’s up to you…How_Far_Do_You_Want_To_Take_It?
Former AG Ironman Champ Tim Luschinske
Max (in white) a day after 120+ mile bike ride 2 days before
Got the chance to see World Ironman Champion Chrissy Wellington in action at the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day. Pictures are attached. I have a few others I'm posting too...you may have heard of a guy named Matt Reed (went to the Olympics in triathlon this last time around)...he's actually a Kiwi transplanted to the USA. Some other guy who is named Tim Luschinske (for World Amateur Ironman Champion) is posted in the red top (sorry I cut your head off in the photo Timmy! It was hard to see others in the crowd, especially when they are running so fast. Congrats to one of my athletes that I coach, Max. He beat World Champion Chrissy by 15 seconds...just 2 days after he hammered out 124 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing on the bike with me. He's in the white jersey surrounded by runners smiling & making it look easy.
Now onto a big KUDOS to one of my athletes Laurie, who qualified at 70.3 Orlando half Ironman, for Ironman Florida this coming November. She ran a solid race, but hasn't touched her potential. She has just taken the first step up the towering climb to her goal. If she keeps patient, and stays focused and unwaivering in her quest, there's no telling what this gal is capable of. It all starts with belief in yourself...I know & have seen first hand her talent. I'm excited to be working with her this season.
Also, one of my athletes went to the pool to do a swim TT. He really wanted to stay home because he wasn't even feeling good at all. Tired and like he really just wanted to sleep. We all have those days. He went anyways. Something odd happened--he swam this TT faster than he ever had in his life, by nearly an average of 5 seconds each 300 yard repeat he did. This goes to show you that while you may feel like "pooh" on race day, it could just be the golden moment you were waiting for. How you feel before the gun goes off is NOT indicative of how your day will play out. Keep that in mind next time you work out or race.
World Ironman Champ Chrissy Wellington
Olympian Matt Reed in some long socks...
Gemini Footnotes: posted 5/7/2009
It has been sometime since my last post with all the “craziness” going on as the summer winds up. Between projects around the house, coaching, travel, the “day” job, planning out 2010 from all aspects of these…seems like a blog has just had to take a back seat for a bit. On one front, I am pleased to announce that Colorado Multisport is now the preferred bike shop of my coaching company Gemini Multisport. The experts at “anything triathlon” has chosen me as their pilot “ambassador” for many reasons which seem to parallel their company’s growth goals with Gemini’s. It will be great to work with them on multiple levels in the future, as both of our companies continue to grow at a healthy and sustainable pace. If you need anything related to multisport—from building or rebuilding bikes, an overhaul, top notch bike fits, nutrition or equipment in general—these folks have it or can get it for you. This shop is run by pro triathletes and serve the greater Boulder area. World Champions shop & stop in on a regular basis…in fact, I saw Greg & Laura Bennett there just last summer. Stop in, say hi, and tell them I sent you.
In other news…the big 4.0. is coming up quick in just a few short weeks. Looking rearward to when I was younger (say 20’s or early 30’s), 40 just seemed soo…soooo…old. Not that it really is now that I’m nearly there, but dang, it sure did seem that way. I feel the years each morning, stronger and stronger each time I get out of bed. Could be keeping up with the toddler or just battle damage from the years gone by. One thing I am thrilled about is the chance to get into a new age group. The Master’s age group. It should be an advantage for me for a few years anyhow, so I welcome it with open arms. Finally ditched those young punks in my 35-39 age group for a few years—ha! But there are the fast 40-somethings to contend with now…doh!I’m up for the change, the new competition and the unknown of how or when things will transpire the next few years with Father Time starting to take his stranglehold on the mortal self.
On the world scene, it sounds as if things are slowly shifting in the employment arena for those who are out of work. If this is you, hang on as long as you can, help will be on its way. It takes money to create money, and the economy was in such a wreck the last decade that it will take a lot of infrastructure to bring back jobs to the US. It will take some tough decisions by the government to weed out the crooked CEOs & CFOs of so many financial institutions—but things will get better. We’ll see more businesses disappear, more foreclosures, higher unemployment rates, but what is lost will be gained back on the other end with increases in other sectors. I just saw a report that said the last quarter showed a 3% increase in construction spending. Housing construction is even continuing right in my own neighborhood. They are building a new subdivision just a mile away in Boulder (didn’t think there was any room in town to build—but they plowed under a horse grazing field).Denver Metro area was named one of the top FIVE places for job growth recently in an article I read, with growth centering around the hi-tech and telecommunications sector. Sounds like a plan to me!
Onto my athletes…one athlete of mine just finished Wildflower, and felt he met or exceeded his expectations he set considering the course & a back locking up on him. Another local athlete, is about to toe the line in a duathlon, which will be his first race of the year. Another, is about to tackle the 70.3 in Clearwater. Yet another—is doing a century ride/race this coming weekend. The others…training for races down the road a bit later in the summer. Yessiree-bob…things are coming along swimmingly this season, and hopefully this year will be as fruitful in results for my athletes as last year was.Last season ended with a bang with three athletes PR’ing in the Ironman distance…not by a little—but by a LOT. It is nice to have athletes like these so dedicated and wanting to do ALL the work. I’ve worked with some in the past who were big talkers in the beginning, but then didn’t end up doing the work needed to succeed. Right now, I have the kind of athletes I like to work with—Bulldogs. They take whatever comes their way head on, no whining, and executing my plan to perfection. That is what makes this roster I have right now a group of winners. To future Gemini Multisport athletes…if you want over-the-top coaching & attention and are willing to do the work necessary, let’s talk. For the excuse makers and whiners…you need not apply. In triathlon the “big talk” gets you nowhere, action will get you everywhere.
From the Mail Bag...Posted 4/20/2009
From the Mail Bag (or email bag!)
From the mailbag…Q: Should I race a bunch of races before my “A” race that is in mid-summer or just train straight through for my Ironman “A” race?
Answer: Depends on your situation. This leads to many other questions. Do you need the race experience, the speedwork or a real life race situation test at this point? Are additional races in your budget? Are you coming back from injuries? This is a rather complicated answer that is highly individualized and changes from year to year. A “newbie” to triathlon (given a healthy base period of training), can benefit from early season races by getting the competitive juices flowing, testing out race wheels, pre-race nutrition & post race recovery. Learning to pace in a race, and understanding of real race dynamics and experimenting with different strategies for your own game plan, or against others in a shorter local low-key race can put you up a step or two come your “A” race day.
However, if you are on a budget, a time trial by yourself or with fellow athletes/friends will be a good substitute, just not as exacting with the lead up to the TT (sleep, nutrition, dealing with nerves, etc), merely because TTs are not for the most part considered as effort oriented as a race. Often I find athletes go harder in a TT because there is less risk mentally if you have a bad TT, then if you dump a bunch of money into an expensive race. You would think someone would go harder in a race than a TT, but the truth is very few can find “the zone” and meet their potential on race day. For some reason, the average race for athletes end up being a conservative effort compared to what they really can do—which is buried deep inside, and shows up only once in a great while on race day.
Speedwork is another reason to compete before one of your main goals of the season. Part of the explanation here to the athlete sending in this question, is that often while Ironman training, there is very little intensity, and we all need intensity to push up that ceiling of pain and effort even for Ironman racing. The rut of slow distance training with huge miles week after week eventually have us stuck into exactly that, slow with a lot of endurance. What we’re really after is the ability to go long with some relative speed compared to competition, unless the goal is to get from A to Z by the cut off time. I know of elites that never reach their potential because they grind out the miles, with crazy hours that rival even some of the legendary “Big 4” in their best years. Nearly all the Big 4 raced short course on a regular basis compared to today’s Ironman specialist. It is no surprise they were as if not more dominant than today’s Ironman athletes. Not because of the number of athletes competing, but because they kept their speed up where few today do.
If you are coming back from either a short term or long term injury, I have some personal insight into this area. I have been restricted to swimming and cycling for the last two months due to a stress fracture in the 5th metatarsal in my right foot. I recently started running—just last week in fact. Before that, I have been dealing (and still am) with a two year hamstring tear (originally misdiagnosed), which kept cycling to zero for many, many months. I competed in a 5 km race to test the recovery of the hammy, on a limited effort basis so as not to re-injure myself. It was a test merely to see where I was time vs. HR vs. perceived effort with no specific training. Same situation for a winter road duathlon, which had me cycling around a half dozen times in the months prior. No aero helmet, or race wheels, and six months of no Multisport racing behind me. It was a good check. Then came the metatarsal injury. At this point, with six weeks of available focused Ironman training and virtually no running in months (aside from the three I’ve done this past week), it would be unwise to push the limits of what is mending and will be needed for an Ironman race. The recovery of intensity would impede upon what is needed at this point: consistency and duration. If I am to even CROSS the finish line and expect to get there without walking, I will need all of the six weeks of focused training to get there. As it was, my run today left me with what felt like a “sore” ankle on the right foot. This is from the weakness and “babying” of the foot, during its recovery. Even cycling, I have kept full pressure off of it (no doubt my left leg is substantially stronger at this point). Getting in some long runs in the upcoming training phase should be the priority here, not racing and risking potential re-injury when I should be focused on strengthening the weak points. Thanks to this athlete for dropping me an email with this question. I hope this helps readers consider the different situations they may encounter and answers whether or not they ought to be looking into pre-“A” race racing.
Rebuilding from the ground up...
I was running through some stats and coming up with some new ones yesterday. I’ll sum it up in a nutshell, because it seems like a pretty interesting subject to me and may be interesting or laughable to readers. I have completed 16 IM races. 2 DNFs (Moo & Kona), 18 starts total. 2 races with marathons just over 4 hrs.
Taking all 16 Ironman races into account my average IM marathon time was 3:28. Take out the two races that were over 4 hrs, and my average
Ironman marathon run time drops to 3:20. So in 14 Ironman races, I would have to say that a 3:20 AVERAGE marathon time is not too shabby!
Looking at my top FIVE Ironman marathon times, and averaging them out, the time becomes a rather brisk 3:09 average. I wish I could say the same for my biking, as I am usually playing catch up. Not that my cycling is always far behind, because sometimes it ranks very, very high in the overall standings. It just is not as consistent as my running. the swim has improved steadily over the years, and has reached the point of minimal returns on the time spent in the water. Battling a nasty tendon tear the last few years with declining training time and results, my time is better spent rehabbing and trying to find some ground of consistency cycling and running rather than hitting the pool for a mere improvement of what likely would be seconds. The benefit of swimming more would be entering the bike portion fresher, which could play out in the end of a race. However, given that the bike/run has not had much attention the past few years, my gains will be made in those areas.
The battles I am faced with entering this season are in not being 100% recovered from the injury, an outdated cycling position which is limited by my equipment, and an aging body that isn’t as flexible or able to recover like it used to. These aren’t necessarily obstacles as much as they are motivators for me to prove that through dedication and smart training they can be negated. Certainly having a loss of 15 pounds of body mass in the last 6 months has contributed to recovery as it has confidence. The last time I weighed this little was back in high school. The downside is that while my VO2 may have improved, my overall raw power may have declined. It’s difficult to tell where I really stand at this point because I am unable to push myself 100% on the bike because I am not fully healed, and won’t be for some time. The PRP injection takes 6 months to supposedly fully take effect. Even then, after IM CDA, I may need another one if something gets re-injured. It is all a giant risk, but due to timing, this is one of those “just go with it” and hope for the best races. My main concern I think is coming off the bike with a sore back. This really seems to hamper my running, but then again it can be tied into several things which are really more structural than anything else.
One key thing will be fueling. I have been using Infinit the last two years, and I used to use Revenge with Carbo Pro. I have yet to dial in things with the Infinit as far as using it along with bananas, gels, and pretzels—my main food sources in an Ironman. Infinit is superior in that you can adjust about anything in the formula which I really, really like. The problem is, since the formula is 200-something calories per 20 oz. serving, I tend to eat a few too many calories and end up getting bloated and throwing up. One change I have made this time around is lowering the calories of my own drink, so that I can share the amount of calories I need with other things like bananas—which I love during races. I never was much of a “bar” person, and gels just seem too sweet. Give me pretzels and water in the middle of a race and that is just “cracka-lackin!”
2 months and 1 week from race day as of this writing. The questions will try to be answered before then for nutrition, pacing, and clearing weaknesses as much as possible, but digging out one more bit of magic from that Houdini’s Magic Bag will be the challenge. In my stronger years of racing in both cross country skiing and triathlon, there were fewer daily distractions and the path I needed to take on the challenge was more clear cut or defined. I am now in uncharted territory now, approaching 40 in a matter of 7 short weeks. Recovery isn’t what it used to be, so finding a way to surge past Mother Nature one more time is the real trick. Heaven knows that this being my 19th Ironman start around the world, I should be able to pull something together to get across that line in around two months. If I do have a good day, I will most certainly have to find a special reward.
Posted April 1, 2008 Athletic Turning of the Tides
There is a refreshing turn in an old story of doping in sports, with the recent admission from last year’s Tour podium finisher Bernhard Kohl, Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson and Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler. Both have pointed out Stefan Matschiner as a supplier for EPO and other doping products, as has Dr. Andreas Zoubek named in the scandal. I often wonder how even at the age group levels, how many athletes have pushed me down the ranks of results because of possible easy access to pharmaceuticals, not to mention the highly known fact it is very widespread at the professional levels.
What I applaud is Lisa’s coming forward to tell all at her own personal risk, to expose the ring and provide authorities details on how it all works. It certainly seems to be an underground market and black secret you catch a rare glimpse of. I have always been pretty good at forecasting likely “suspects” based off of overnight improvements to levels that seem unlikely. Or, at least, those who appear seemingly from nowhere not just at a amateur level, but a professional level to become top contenders from little more than a background as hikers or lumberjacks. One need to look at the odd physique transformation some become known for in the blink of an eye, to identify that something just isn’t right about that…
As a legitimate sport without the full blown reputation that cycling currently has as one of cheaters, triathlon can only hope there are more Lisa Huetthalers out there who come clean with their conscience and help clean up the sport, even after they themselves have helped to dirty it up. I am in no way condoning doping in triathlon, but it is sport, and there are always those who will try to win no matter what. It happens, in part, because there is a lot at stake for some athletes as far as national or world notoriety, money, as well as helping pull themselves and their family from poverty.
It is not to say all cyclists at the top levels, or triathletes for that matter are cheaters, they’re NOT. But there are a lot of them, just watch the media. Every week someone is getting busted, and it is almost humorous now to see who will get caught this week. Humorous because they caved into something they likely said they would never do when they started the sport, and for what? Glory and money. There is much more to sport than glory and money…things such as spirit of competition, health, social aspects, and adventure. Lisa should pay her dues for what she has done, and while tarnishing the sport, we should maybe look at it in a positive light that she is at least trying to help un-tarnish it some (of course AFTER she got caught…). But at least, we can certainly say she did NOT have to spill the beans, but she did. For that, you have to give her credit where due, even if it is a little bit after the fact. Eventually, maybe that word describing athletics can be used again with pure unadultered meaning…SPORT.
Test Ride: Cervelo P4
Cervelo’s New Toy (that will make your friends SUPER JEALOUS!)
I was amped up to head to the pool today, but wanted to see what sort of aero bars were on the website at Colorado Multisport in Boulder. Alas, I saw it was “Cervelo Demo Days” so on the way to the pool I wanted to stop by and test ride a P3C. Upon walking through the door—in all its glory…was a Cervelo P4 C in a stand, complete with SRAM RED, a Zipp disk and 1080 front. I honestly thought there would only be a “slim” chance of a P4 being there, but was prepared to try a P3 for kicks. When I was told I could test drive it, my eyes lit up and I heard angels singing somewhere above the ceiling tiles of the shop. I think there was also glitter appearing in the air throughout the shop. It just so happened that it was a wicked windy day in Boulder—and the swirling wind made my test drive very scary when crosswinds hit the front 1080 wheel. After dialing in the seat and for/aft position, I felt right at home.
Sure I only test rode it for about a half an hour total, but it was everything they said it would be. They being Cervelo and the critics. I am unsure of how the wicked trick water bottle would work in an Ironman, as the refill hole seems rather small—but it sure looked cool. The bike was stiff from a dead stop to full speed, with no noticeable flex at all. The P4 climbed like a champ up the short hill on Folsom Street (part of the famous Bolder-Boulder 10K race in May), and the SRAM RED shifting was just dead on with each click—but I would also like to try the new shift levers from SRAM that returns to the original position. The click throw is shorter than Shimano indexing, but the SRAM RED carbon cranks were about the most perfectly smooth pedaling I’ve ever had on a bike bar none.
This bike was nearly too much bike for my ability, but heck, it can only help in a race right? What better way to close the gap than with superior equipment. Geoff and Blake at Colorado Multisport were kind enough to discuss options, sizing, set up the bike so it would fit me better with some minor adjustments to make my test ride a truly wonderful experience. Now if this bike only had a pair of those Bontrager prototype time trial bars that Lance has…we’d have something that every triathlete would be jealous of having.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the P4 with the shop, as it was theirs and not mine. Who would pass up an opportunity to ride the legendary P4C though…certainly not me!The one thing I would want to change on the P4, is the cost. $4800 for the frameset (OUCH!)
Lastly, I didn’t get to swim…just weights and the bike ride. Something made me digress from my workout…something wonderful…called the Cervelo P4.
Ironman is a concept that takes years to figure out if you’re training for it on your own, without help from books or experienced racers. A few common flaws I’ve seen in the methodology of thinking for preparing is to lean on one’s strength and make it so powerful that they can slack in the other sports. That will only get you so far, before it
catches up to you (or your competitors do!) Some athletes want to continue saying that Ironman is won on the run, not true. Ironman has been traditionally won on the bike. How so you ask?
Those with superior cycling fitness can start out on the run fresher than most. Surely the overall winner will be one of the faster runners in the field, but they do have an advantage to maximize that talent because of their superior cycling fitness. Triathlon, more specifically, Ironman racing, builds upon each sport. Excellent swim fitness & technique will of course leave you less tired for the bike portion. Likewise, superior cycling fitness will allow a strong runner to be the strongest runner on race day. Not all the fastest runners on race day who win an Ironman are the best runners on paper. In fact, that is usually NOT the case—and it is just the ability to enter the final leg fresher than the “best runners on paper” that get them the win. In short, If you work on the swim, bike and run to balance them out, you’ll stand less of a chance of “blowing up” from over-exerting during your strength leg of the triathlon. I personally have benefited some years by working extra hard on my cycling so that I can utilize my running strengths. I also have slacked some years in sustaining or building by cycling fitness, trying to rely on my run strength. The problem was, while my running did get stronger the more focus I spent on it, the lack of cycling fitness left me tired heading into the final leg of an Ironman. What was I left with? A sub-par marathon for myself—and a average to slightly below average marathon compared with my peers who I normally would have finished near in overall standings. Don’t spend too much time becoming a biking monster and ignoring your run if you want overall results to improve. Additionally, don’t neglect the swim if you will arrive in T1 tired, and spending the next 50 miles recovering from the swim because you are too spent to use all that cycling training you put in. Even it out…keep it smooth across the sports. See you at the races!
The memorial for Matt Sawyer was held today at the Foothills Park just off Violet St. in North Boulder, there were about 100 or so people attending. Many of them patrons of the Rec Centers, and co-workers of Matt. Amongst the people paying their last respects were his many acquaintances (such as myself), Jane Scott, Tim & Nicole DeBoom, and fellow workers at the front desk of the NBRC who spent many hours with Matt. It was at times a sad affair, with a lot of tears followed by a few laughs. I had the opportunity to speak with Matt's brother and mother, find out a little more about him that I didn't know. I only got to know him the three to five minutes chatting with him for the four years he worked there...about three times a week. It was enough to know this guy was indeed a GOOD person. We aren't remembered by how many Volvos, BMWs, big houses, or dollars in the bank we have, or how many medals and first places in races we've won. We aren't remembered for anything material we have or where we have been in this world. We are remembered ultimately, for how fairly we treat others, how generous and kind we are to those around us, and how much love we are able to spread in the world while we are here. If we die physically, if we are loved by many for the good we do--we are immortal. Immortal because as long as there are people to remember us, we live on. Even if it is legend and lore, like stories of Princess Dianna or Mother Theresa, they are are timeless saints where all they will be remembered for is their work to help others. Someone said at the ceremony today, it is always the angels that die first. But I think the other side of that is, it is always the angels that are in a hurry to move from this world, so they can protect us and show us the way to really live. They spread the goodness that filled them, and inspire us to do something of value with our lives--to outshine the bad in the world to show us truly how much good in the world there is. Matt was and is one of those "angels" and his time on earth will always be remembered as inspiration of how to grasp life for what it is--a gift. Hold on to your life, embrace it, fill it with all your dreams & hopes then go out and do it. Along the way, show others too how to "live"--then, and only then, will you know what it is to be ALIVE.
First I must say with great sadness that Matt Sawyer who worked at the front desk at the North Boulder Rec Center died yesterday. He was 36. Every time I went to the NBRC, Matt and I would chat for a few minutes about whatever--the weather, what we did on the weekend, etc. He was always kind, and his smiling face and kindness will be missed. I just talked with Matt the other day, and it was business as usual. Often I would come in with a different gym bag than I had the previous visit, and had not put my membership card in the new one. Matt knew me fairly well, as he did my wife & son, so he did not bother to check my card half of the time. I saw him probably three or four times a week while he worked at the front desk, it will seem like the NBRC will be missing something now, and a shroud of sadness will hover over it for a while. I know Matt loved people, and the regulars at the center and we all liked him too. He would want us to continue doing what we all enjoyed & whatever made us happy coming into the center. We owe it to Matt to continue supporting the lifestyle that drew us to NBRC where we all got to know him. Rest in peace Matt, you'll be missed greatly! !
Balance the Triathlon Lifestyle with those around you~!
Sometimes technology is good and sometimes it just takes away from the fun, especially in biking. Power meters while fun to see the data some days, and the watts steady over long intervals, can also spoil the fun of a good old fashioned ride. Take off the Heart Rate Monitor, ignore the power meter, and just pack some nice cold drinks and head out sight-seeing on a sunny afternoon. It could be a weekend afternoon, as most would naturally be at work...but what ever happened to sport just for the sport of it? Taking a year off of racing or two, to tend to other things in life (such as starting family or dedicating a year to building a business, or just spending more time with friends), can be the best thing for your racing. Recharge, take a year off, heal some injuries, and think about the future all while working towards it. This doesn't mean eat Bon-Bons on the couch for a full season, but rather, getting one's rear out of the perpetual doldrum of training that seems to wear on you, your family and friends because you are not available because you're out doing another 2 or 3 hour run, or a 6 hour bike ride.
Now take the flip side, those long bike rides and long runs just make me feel good. While tiring, and time consuming, sometimes that alone time allows me to put "life" in perspective and some of my best ME TIME is on these excursions. Sometimes these solo outings can help not just your energy levels, but your family life, your business, and certainly your personal health. There is an overboard point or saturation point where triathlon and what is required to become good at it is just unhealthy. However, if you balance the training, home life, spend time with friends, or require some form of religious worship (for some), and do not consume every waking moment with the end result of crossing a finish line, then the lifestyle triathlon offers can be the most rewarding thing you have ever done. It offers balance in more than one way, but it can also be destructive to one's life if not monitored. Part of my philosphy in setting up an athlete's training plan is to make sure they have time to just go out and ignore the numbers now and then just to look around and absorb nature, or spend time with family, friends, or get that tiling project completed, maybe get out for a weekend away from pretty much everything (save for the occasional run or swim if possible). This is a healthy outlook, and this sporting lifestyle is not just about the end result, but the JOURNEY that took you to the line, and at the end of it all, becoming a better person because of it. See you on the trails!
In watching routines of some swimmers at my health club, from novice to pro triathletes such as Tim & Nicole DeBoom, Chris Leigh, or the legendary Wolfgang Dietrich, common practices are obvious. Among the less experienced swimmers, many of them start swimming at speeds beyond their ability. Personally, I have been passed quickly by Joe 6-pack in the first 100 yards of a swimmer entering the pool, only to see them fizzle out to barely a speed faster than a float—bobbing side to side of the lane and taking extensive breaks every two or three laps.
These flash in the pan swimmers show no signs of adequate warm up or pacing. The primary stroke is usually one of freestyle (although I have seen some swim exclusively backstroke!) with little or no drills, kicking or change of pace. Without knowing how often these people have been swimming, how many times per week they swim, or how much yardage and time available they have to dedicate to swimming, a definitive conclusion could be challenging to come up with. However, one thing for certain that is missing is structure.
Take for instance, the case of expert swimmers mentioned at the start of this post. It is not uncommon to see a straight 600 to 1,000 yard warm up of either mixed stroke or freestyle with some change of pace and/or turnover, as well as a few drills thrown in. Rests are minimal during the entire workout, obviously to promote enough endurance building, and with enough rest so that the stroke does not fall apart mid-way through the workout. Personally, my typical warm up includes a straight 1,000 freestyle swim before heading into repeats of varying distances, change of strokes, drills, or additional use of pool toys (aka pull buoy, paddles, etc.) If anything, I know that the 1,000 freestyle will be a key building block to promote swim endurance through frequency during my 10 day training block. Starting a swim with thorough warm up is key to reach levels of arousal in sport to ensure a high quality session.
Just as in running and biking, we need our endurance days, speedwork, strength work…technique days, etc. All this combines together to create a well-rounded plan for triathlon preparation. Focusing on these various methods of training will help reduce plateaus as well, and keep your sessions mentally interesting. The last thing we want an athlete to do is get bored while doing “ho-hum” monotonous training. In looking at some of our sample athletes, we see them really mix it up even during one swim session. The idea for this post actually came yesterday when I was finishing up my 4,000 yard swim, and Justin Daerr jumped into my lane. After finishing, I was sitting in the hot tub relaxing, watching the other swimmers. I did notice Justin had a nice long, steady freestyle warm up with a bit of backstroke thrown in. From my vantage point, he progressed to various distance intervals and strokes, along with shorter and longer breaks.
On one particular set, he was using doing 50’s (freestyle), at sprint pace for the first 25 yards, followed by 25 easy. The rest between seemed fairly long, likely to offer adequate recovery from the hard efforts, and to keep technique together during progressive intervals. Then he did some butterfly—not something you see many triathletes do. After that, steady and continuous freestyle with hand paddles—average strokes per 25 were 14. While not the 11 strokes or so I see from Tim DeBoom without paddles, the stroke count was pretty low—and it certainly did not look like he was really trying to achieve a low stroke count—but more of a CONSISTENT stroke count over a long, and steady swim set. Justin’s swim (while I only saw a portion of the workout), illustrates that the better swimmers have some commonality to them.
1)Long warm up.
2)Mix up the strokes.
3)Use various pool toys (buoy, paddles, rubber bands, fist gloves/tennis ball) if time allows (don’t sacrifice the “key” mission of the workout—such as nixing a long set if you’re doing an endurance swim).
4)Mix up the rest intervals depending on the point of the workout. Muscular endurance swims you’ll likely want shorter intervals. If you are doing sprints one day, you may want to add a little rest between intervals to keep the form/technique together. There is no sense in reinforcing bad technique on sprints if you’re too tired.
5)Don’t be afraid to swim slow and focus on fine details of your stroke (often we are too concerned with how fast we are going rather than how precise we are swimming with each stroke).
Lastly, look for common symptoms of a good swimmer. One thing I noticed is how steady of a head position each of the swimmers have mentioned in this post. They do not “bob” their heads up and down, and their hand entry is deliberate and forceful. There is no “petting of the water” like they would be petting a frail doggie on the street. Probably the most important factor in all good swimmers I see is hip rotation. Head to toe, a single and powerful roll from one side to the other as the stroke progresses. Much like Tiger Woods with his incredible drive—the drive starts from the hips, much like a coiled spring unloading releasing its potential energy. These swimmers too, such as Tim DeBoom or Wolfgang, make this motion smoothly, seemingly effortlessly, and it shows as a common and obvious link as they speed up and down the lane. Next time you’re in the pool, follow the five above steps and start down the path of becoming a better swimmer, all while having more fun!
Would Lance Armstrong Say Never?
KK on his original tri bike in 1995: Litespeed Tachyon
One thing I have told myself over and over through the years is to never say never. How easy we forget. The choice of doing or saying something that we denied we would ever do is washed away so easily if there is a way it can obviously and logically improve a situation. It really is a no-brainer. Once again I find myself caught up in having to admit I will be making some changes in routines that was once out of the question or in the realm of entertaining thoughts of actually doing.
Starting by example: bicycles. After buying piece by piece of my first tri-bike back in college, a titanium Litespeed Tachyon—with Dura Ace components, curved seat tube and a highly polished finish, I said I’d never need another bike because it won’t rust, bend or break. A guy down the hall in my dorm room used to work in a bicycle shop and built many bikes. I recruited him and we spent the afternoon just weeks before summer break with all the parts and bike tools I bought through the (at the time) leading mail order catalog company called Bike Nashbar. Today it is about the lowest end bike order company you can come up with. At the time, they had the best prices so between them and Performance, or Colorado Cyclist I had amassed nearly every Park tool one needed to start a small bike shop. Alas, my steed was ready. It brought me many years of enjoyable riding, and carried me to my first few Ironman Hawaii finishes. It wasn’t until the years of Jurgen Zack’s dominating bike leg performance on his Softride Power V carbon bike that spurred my interest in another bike.
Naturally, the Power V was a wild looking bike like that would help my performance right? It turned out to be a rather heavy bike with a bouncy carbon top tube. One of the biggest gimmicks I fell for was that the Power V was to smooth out the pedal stroke because of the flex in the top beam. In short, your legs learned to pedal more efficiently (WRONG!) The funny thing there was it never did, and yes, there was a lot of flex despite it being carbon, with a HUGE bottom bracket area to make the bike stiff enough. In fact, I had some knee issues/tendon issues because of the bounce caused what amounted to constant changes in seat height while riding. Combine a somewhat wiggly frame and the super light Top Line aluminum cranks, titanium Speedplay pedals-- and there was a good setup for snaking down the course like a gyrating belly dancer. The frame was so heavy in fact, that even with all the after-market titanium parts and gizmos I could afford—it was fully loaded sans water bottles around 23.5 lbs. This could have been easily 25 lbs by adding a spare tire and a CO2 onto the bike. This bike turned out as the trade off of aerodynamics vs. weight setups. Along with this, was the loss of watts from some not so stiff components.
Fast forward to 2000 when I bought my Quintana Roo TiPhoon. I was hell-bent between a Kestrel KM40 and a Calfee Tri bike.I had done the research and did not even know the Tiphoon existed…as it had just been released two weeks prior to going into Pro Peloton in Boulder. The owner, a skiing buddy of mine, Ian, introduced me to the Tiphoon via a catalog. It was something he had seen at Interbike, and swore it would be a hot bike for me. I mulled it over—geometry, components, my budget, etc. Being titanium it pretty much blew the budget I had. I bit, and ended up getting what was classified as a car loan from my bank, only because they didn’t have a loan specifically they could categorize a pedal bicycle to. The bank hadn’t heard of a bike that cost that much…but I took the loan and got the bike. I am still riding the same bike 9 years later, and the components (Dura Ace 9-speed), are getting tired. I have already worn through a few chainrings, many chains, and cogsets and a pair of shifter levers. The bike has been all around the world to various Ironman races, and seen many generations of the latest aerodynamic fads come and go. Still, I ride the same bike, with original hardware for the most part that was on the bike when I took it home for the first time. The frame is great…stiff, and bullet-proof. I didn’t worry about the frame whenever it was shipped like I did with the Power V carbon bike. I said I would never need another bike again upon buying the QR.
The body ages and it does not move like it used to. The geometry of my QR has placed me in a compromising situation. Battling a still yet unresolved injury suffered while on an easy training run for a half marathon just over two years ago (but slowly getting better)…my position places my rear too far back on the bike. It is not steep enough, and my entire position needs to be altered big time. I can feel the position (aggravating the injury) after each ride, a frustrating thing considering I am certain my biking power output has been grossly reduced.In fact, my power files indicate that is true. I can feel the loss of power in the right leg, and a new steed with an entirely alien set up is in store. It is time to shake things up a bit. Bikes have become ridiculous in price, as have components. I actually think the industry will top out shortly, as frames have reached a price point where few will be able to afford the very top end models. The wave of future sales will shift to mid range bikes that have trickle-down features of the top models, with athletes holding onto frames a few years before they get a new bike. So many athletes really do get a new bike each year, but many of those folks are either inherently rich or have some form of sponsorship. The common everyday man is not going to be able to do that on a yearly basis.
With Lance Armstrong back in the pro ranks of cycling, we are sure to see him push for new and wonderful things from SRAM. As part owner of SRAM, Lance will undoubtedly be asking the engineers for neat gizmos like a SRAM RED TT crankset, or 11 speed shifters and cogset to offer that one extra gear. It is hard to conceive that SRAM and Shimano will not up the ante to 11-speed shortly to keep pace with Campy. Personally, I would like to see SRAM come up with its own pedal. The internet is full of reviews for Look, SPD, Speedplay, Time pedal reviews.With each, you can find issues with durability for cleats, or easily clogged cleats (like Speedplay), or axles that have snapped (one I read today was about the Look Keo Ti pedal breaking on a 190 lb rider!)
I digress…I will need a new bike for the comfort level and injury prevention. Once I complete the setup, and finish all the research on what it is exactly that I am after, maybe then some of those lost watts can be recovered. I have done many gear reviews and worked with prototypes of many components, as well as skis in the Nordic racing industry. I have had input on design for wetsuits as a former pro triathlete…I know what is good (it just takes me a while to fully research something).More importantly, I will have done something I said I would never do…get another bike. What is next? Maybe uniforms for Gemini Multisport, start a blog (aside from KKs Post which seems like a blog in a way), who knows. One thing though that is certain, I really need to stop saying NEVER. Especially if something can improve a certain situation, then I just may retract that “never” statement. Why not experiment? Let go of the safe and familiar and get crazy! Try to shake up things and get out of the rut of routine, the only thing you will lose is boredom and you will gain a lot of experience and knowledge along the way.
Attitude check: You shouldn't see this as an obstacle, but as a stepping stone!
With the holidays it has been a while since the last post, but things are getting back to normal so it is time to crank up the posting machine again and hopefully be as regular with them as pre-holiday posts. It was a great holiday with the in-laws, and having family around certainly allowed for some projects around the house to get completed as well as some diminished but consistent training. The PRP injection back in November has helped somewhat, although I think I will need one more. Two weekends ago I decided to test the leg out for the first time since August with a 5km run at the Oatmeal Festival. An expensive way to get in a workout which I likely could have done on my own, but it was more of a matter of doing a proper pre-race night, and race morning routine to get the mind/body used to dealing with approaching races again. To make a long story short here, I ended up capping my HR at zone 3 for the first half, and brought it home in upper zone 3 to low zone 4.If you’re doing a 5km you’ll want to race it seriously at zone 4. I will admit I was very conservative heading out to the turn around and stuck with the second place woman (an Olympic Trials gal). Last thing I wanted was a re-injury on a cold morning, and the first thing I wanted was to ease into it, wait to the half way point before re-assessing how to tackle the last half of the 5km. Everything seemed to be fine at that point, but the uphills I was definitely weak on. The power from the hamstring area of the injury just wasn’t there. For a capped effort I’ll take the 17:59 time with a 19th out of 1,173 race participant placing.
This past weekend I decided to hop into the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon, only a couple days after my 11 mile “long run” for the week. Having only biked about a half dozen times this winter, I put my bike in the back of the car (mud clogged gears & frame to boot).I even used my clincher wheels—leaving the race wheels for race season.I arrived at Cherry Creek Res to see some fancy bikes with some serious disk wheels, Zipp rims and bikes easily worth double what mine was.Oh well, it was to be another test and speed workout day with a 1.5 mile run, 3 mile bike, 2.5 mile run, 7 mile bike followed by a 50 yard sprint to the finish. This was a fun format, and certainly showed my lack of transition practice. Little did I know there were A, B, C, and at least a D wave…maybe a couple more all starting 3 minutes apart. I was in the C wave.The top two finishers were in the A wave, so I never got to see them except the turn around on the second run.
Let me start with my C wave. One guy took off and got a 20 yard gap while myself and another athlete lagged behind at around a half mile to .75 miles. I was hoping the guy I was running with would follow, but it was up to me to run down the dude that took off. He nearly broke me a few times trying to keep up our 5:30 pace (I haven’t run that fast of a pace since at least early last year). I guess being in base training phase doesn’t help my speed too much in short races like this…my lack of speedwork showed. I ended up leading him into transition by a step or two…first in my C wave. I later found out this guy was a pro XTERRA athlete.He was first out of T1, I caught him & we traded spots on the bike like a yo-yo. I couldn’t drop him & he couldn’t drop me. T2…he headed out at the same time I did, so I tailed him but lost ground on the uphills. He didn’t really try too hard on trying to surge away and break me this time around, I think I taxed him well on the first run, so he may have known he wasn’t going to drop me this time either. T3, he got the jump on me again, but I caught him by the top of the first hill and passed him.
We traded places again, and finally I decided this was going to be a tactical finish.
The last half mile on the bike curved to the right, and there was a guy from the A wave riding on the inside of the curve who traded back and forth with us. I knew I had my transition spot second from the furthest end of the finish line, and that I could rack my bike before him IF I got to transition before him. I surged around him, and led him into transition by a few feet, literally threw my bike at the rack, and sprinted in my socks with my helmet on to the finish line. I knew that since his transition spot was further down, he’d have to look for his spot to rack his bike, which gave me a slight advantage. I crossed the finish line in 3rd overall and first in my wave. It turns out the second place athlete John Phillips, is a pro duathlete. The winner, Andy Palmer, I’m not sure what his story is, whether this series is his focus or not, but he is always at or near the top. I’ve never finished a race using my training tires/wheels, or finished running in my socks or with my helmet still on top of my head. The uphills were very slow for me and my base training seems to be coming along good at this point. Of course now my rear is sore where I had the injury, but I’m hoping it isn’t much more than scar tissue that was worked hard.It’s been a good couple of weekends of events to test the leg out, and the fact that using training equipment coupled with a mere 7 weeks of base training, and capping my efforts in the 5km race and still doing as well as I did is a good sign for sure. I’m looking forward to getting in better shape so that hopefully there will be no implosions this season like the last couple of years. It sure feels good to at least be in the top 50 of any race again.I have a LONG, LONG way to go before I’m in race ready shape of any kind, but it is a start of good things to come for sure.