The Comeback: The Plan

It’s been 2 weeks and one day since I pulled out of Santa Cruz 70.3 at mile 5 of the run. After the last race of the season, most athletes enter ‘off-season’ – a time to take a step back from the regimented training schedule, to enjoy an extra beer (or two), to be active but not always swimming/biking/running, and to focus on weaknesses. I thought it would be fun and beneficial to chronicle the process of rehabbing from this injury and finding my running strength and speed again, so here are a few things that I’m choosing to focus on for the next few months.

Redeveloping Healthy Habits

As triathletes, we spend a huge chunk of our weeks and years training to be strong swimmers, bikers, and runners. In order to sustain this level of training focusing on mobility, range of motion, sport-specific strength work, and quality nutrition are all things that are easy to lose sight of in order to get in the extra mileage. Unfortunately for me, the decision to get in the extra mileage or workouts while neglecting these ‘little things’ kept me from finishing my last race of the season. I’ll be spending the next few months back in the weight room, on the foam roller, and eating well in order to fuel a healthy 2017.

Setting myself up for a FUN winter of training

I recently acquired a Computrainer, a cycling trainer that is going to allow me to get much more specific with how I control my power outputs and to get a lot more out of my indoor riding this winter. April and I are also going to get fit for cross country skis so we can take advantage of the close proximity we have to all of the trails near Mt. Bachelor. Fun!!

Mobility and range of motion

Even though I mentioned it in my first section, I’m saying it again because I know this is a key to healthy training. I have an abundance of tools I’ve picked up for keeping my muscles happy, pain free, and to develop a better range of motion. This will mean a lot of time on the foam roller, trigger point therapy tools, and stretching.

More to come as I chronicle my return to being a healthy, fast, and strong athlete!

Santa Cruz 70.3 - My First DNF

I have been racing Triathlon for 4 seasons, and at this point I would consider myself to be accomplished and I’m getting closer to feeling experienced in the sport. One of the things that I have never experienced in the sport is having to pull out of race, until Santa Cruz 70.3 on Sunday, September 11th.

The leader of my Sales Team at G5 and a great friend of mine, CJ invited me to do this race with a few of his good friends who live in Southern California. After figuring out the logistics with April, I was in and very excited to have an end of the season race weekend to look forward to. Coming off of Ironman Canada, my training for Santa Cruz wasn’t very specific or intense, but I was excited to head down to do one of the things that I love most…race!

CJ picked me up at 6am on Friday morning, and we loaded up along with Collin, a fellow teammate on the 10 Barrel Brewing racing team. Off we went for a 9-hour drive to Santa Cruz, just south of San Francisco. The drive flew by and was filled with conversation and energy about the weekend that we were beginning.

All loaded up and ready to hit the road with CJ!

All loaded up and ready to hit the road with CJ!

We made great time and arrived in Santa Cruz by 4pm. After pulling into the hotel the weekend was off to an amazing start, we could see transition and the athlete check-in area for the half-ironman from our hotel – how convenient! It was so nice to have access to the event, our bikes, and all the happenings for the days leading into the race.

My Cervelo P2 all dressed up for the big race! Zipp wheels, Power2Max power meter, new bike fit, almost as aero as I think I'll be able to get it!

My Cervelo P2 all dressed up for the big race! Zipp wheels, Power2Max power meter, new bike fit, almost as aero as I think I'll be able to get it!

We quickly unpacked, got checked into the race, and headed down to the pier to get in a short swim to test out the cold ocean water. The swim takes place in Monterrey Bay and you swim around the Santa Cruz Wharf for the 1.2 mile swim. The water wasn’t as cold as we expected, but it was very murky and hard to see. That was the only part that got to me, especially since I’m used to swimming in clear lakes and am incredibly scared of sharks.  After leaving the beach feeling good about our swim, I quickly transitioned into running gear to go out for a short transition run to test out my leg…

They say that you should never do anything new on race day, but I also believe that you shouldn’t make any radical changes to your training leading into a race. I went against this advice and got a professional bike fit 3.5 weeks before this race, which was an incredible birthday gift from my wife. The purpose of a bike fit for Triathlon is to get more comfortable on your bike, while hopefully getting as aerodynamic and powerful as possible so that you can race to the absolute best of your ability.

When I went in for my fit, the awesome team that was working with me informed me that my old position was almost 100% quad dominant. My saddle (seat) was far back, like a road bike, and I was only using my quads…this isn’t efficient and it’s not smart to ignore your hamstrings and glutes. When they finished up my bike fit, 3 hours later, I was much more aerodynamic, comfortable, and powerful than I was before. However, to accomplish this they warned me that I was going to be experiencing new soreness in my hamstrings and glutes as these muscles had been neglected in the last THREE YEARS of riding my Cervelo P2 triathlon bike. “Awesome” was my response, and I safely assumed that I’d adjust no problem.

5 days later, now within 3 weeks of the race, I felt pain in my left leg during a short run with our pup, Riggins, that I’d never experienced before.  I chalked it up to being tired, but when it came back my next run – I knew something was wrong.  I then set out on a 3 weeks, very intense round of chiropractic and massage work to try and get my leg back to working order. Thankfully, I felt strong while swimming and biking so I made those my priority, and did my best to manage the pain while running. Needless to say, I had some nervousness about how the run was going to go at Santa Cruz, which is why I was so excited and nervous to go test it out 2 days before the race.

 I felt strong during my short run and enjoy a low-key night with the guys in Santa Cruz eating good Mexican food and getting to bed early. Saturday was an absolute blast, we had a big breakfast, attended the athlete pre-race meeting to make sure we knew all of the race day logistics, drove the bike course, and got in a few low key workouts to make sure our bodies and equipment were ready to rock and roll.  CJ’s buddies drove in from Southern California that morning, so we spent the afternoon relaxing, eating some incredible food, and getting our minds right for the big day ahead.

Checking out the race course the day before the race. Beautiful course! The weather was cloudy every morning with the sun always showing up by early afternoon.

Checking out the race course the day before the race. Beautiful course! The weather was cloudy every morning with the sun always showing up by early afternoon.

Race Day

We woke up at 5am on Sunday, had a quick breakfast, and headed over to transition to make sure our bike tires were inflated to the right pressure, threw on our bike nutrition, and made sure our gear was (neatly) setup in the transition area. It was so convenient to be across the street from transition, as we were able to walk back to the hotel after getting setup to relax, get our wetsuits on, and take our time getting to the swim start.

My bike all setup in Transition. You can hardly see it, which means that the wind can't either - that is fast!!!

My bike all setup in Transition. You can hardly see it, which means that the wind can't either - that is fast!!!

Most 70.3 (half-ironman) races still do wave starts. What this means is that the Pro’s start first, then age groups go every 4 minutes or so. If you ask me, it’s a broken system, as my age group was the very last to go – which set me up for a tough day of passing, weaving, and yelling ‘on your left!’ and I’d love to see Ironman adjust this to a self-seeded rolling start like we see in 140.6 (full Ironman) races.

Because of the fact that I had over an hour to wait until I swam, I enjoyed watching all of my friends start, got to see the pros finish (which was awesome!!!!) and even got to cheer in Collin since he was fortunate to start in the 2nd wave of the day.

The Swim1.2 Miles, 30:44, 1:25/100y (1:35/100m)

I seeded myself at the very front of my wave. There were two waves for my age group, and I was in the second wave because it was ordered by last name and mine starts with a W (story of my life). As soon as the cannon went off, I bolted into the ocean and aggressively got myself out in front of the pack. I am confident in my swim and I’m fast, so I got in a group of 4-5 and within 3 minutes we were passing the swimmers in the waves that had started ahead of us. This really set the tone for the whole 30-minute swim. Quite a bit of weaving, and working hard to site with the current in the ocean to make sure I swam as straight as possible. But, the swim felt easy and I was happy to exit the water 14th in my age group of 180 people.

Santa Cruz 70.3 has an incredibly long transition, 1/3rd of a mile, to run from the beach to the transition area for the rest of the day. I went as quick as possible, but the pavement really hurt my feet, so I just made sure to be moving faster than everyone else that I came out of the water with.

The Bike – 56 miles, 2:40:35, 20.92mph

After a smooth, but slow and long transition it was time to fly! I knew that the bike was going to be tough with all of the people that were ahead of me, considering that I started in the last wave of a 2,500-person race. I probably passed +/- 500 people in the water, but there was a lot of work to do.  I was feeling confident going into the bike leg of the race, and my goal was to average 238-242 watts for the race while riding under 2:40, which would be tough considering all of the traffic.

The first few miles flew by as we rolled through town following the coast before entering onto highway 1, which is where the race really began. They (obviously) couldn’t close the 101, so I spent the next big chunk of the race tactfully trying to pass racers without getting hit by cars flying by at ~60mph. I did a good job of staying aero, however, my power was quite spikey in the early miles with all of the sprints to pass people – no biggie.

I stuck to my plan, ate every 20 minutes, dominated the big climb that diverts off of the highway, and had so much fun on the 26 mile, rolling hill return. My new bike fit definitely paid off during this section, as I was able to stay very aerodynamic while pushing out a lot of power. For the first time in all of my Ironman races, I gained position on the bike. Side note: typically, I come out of the water strong, lose a few places on the bike, and earn my ranking on the run which is where I typically shine.

I exited the bike in 2:40, which was a few minutes slower than I’d hoped – but considering the conditions and the number of people I was sharing the course with, I was incredibly happy with the effort. Even happier to come off the bike feeling very light on my feet and ready to give the half-marathon a go.

The Run – Just couldn’t make it happen

I started off the run after a speedy transition feeling good. However, I was cautious. I’d done a lot of rehab the past few weeks with all of my runs being short (less than 4 miles, with one double run day of 8 miles total), and only running every other day. My first 3 miles were 7:01, 6:51, and 6:50 – easy, for me, and I was feeling good.

Mile 4 began, and the all-to-familiar feeling of pain in my left leg started to flare up. I slowed to a walk, stretched both legs quickly, and presumed an easier pace. Still there. Stopped again, and the pain came back even sharper. I did my best to stay mentally and physically strong, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to finish the race without putting the next few months at risk. My 4th mile took me 12 minutes, and my 5th mile took me just over 15 minutes. My race was over. I crept my way into the next aid station where I called for the aid station caption to let him know I was pulling the plug, and wouldn’t be finishing the race.

It took a few minutes for someone to be able to drive me back into town, and I had a lot of time to process what had happened. As soon as I got back to the hotel, I grabbed my phone and immediately called April via FaceTime. As soon as I saw her, I let a few tears out, but she helped remind me that I’d made the hard, but right decision. I love you, April.

Onwards and Upwards

The day before the race, Jesse Thomas, my favorite professional and arguably, one of my biggest role models in sport, had a lot of awesome things to say at the pro athlete panel that I had the opportunity to attend. The thing that stuck out to me the most was his response to the question that someone from the audience asked: “Jesse, how do you manage training and staying healthy knowing that you have been injury prone on the run?” Jesse said that he keeps a close eye on his running, and if the pain ever gets to a 7/10, he pulls it. Following that up by saying that when you push it to an 8/10, that’s when you end up in a cast and are out for 8-10 weeks, which happened to him a few years ago at Wildflower. Long story short, I knew that I was at a 7, and didn’t want to risk the next few months of wanting to be healthy as April and I prepare our home for our new son who we are expecting in January.

A very awesome group of guys. Enjoying nachos and good times after the race.

A very awesome group of guys. Enjoying nachos and good times after the race.

Sport is a huge part of my life. From the outside looking into my life, many would say that I’m addicted to endurance, triathlon, and competition. Triathlon is a sport that has radically changed my life, my personality has evolved because of it, I’m a better man because of it, and I hope that I’m a better husband and soon-to-be father because of it. It’s taught me that anything is impossible, and I see that everyday as I work with other people who are just getting started in the sport. (HUGE shoutout to CJ who went sub 6 with a ~20 minute PR, I'm so proud of all that you accomplished this year!) I know that I’ll be back stronger than ever, and I’m excited to have an off-season focused on family, work-life-training balance, while still focusing on my macro goals as an athlete and working towards being better tomorrow than I was today.

Thanks for reading!

Race Report: 2016 Ironman Canada

It's been 5 days since I crossed the finish line of my second Ironman at Ironman Canada in Whistler, British Columbia. It always takes time to process my thoughts after a race, especially a big, 'A' race like Ironman. I came into this race with bigger goals than my first Ironman last year, but I also laid out a much different training schedule this year compared to last year. With that said, in these few days that I've had to think about the result, what I could have done differently in my preparation, and how I performed compared to what I think I was capable of - I have been nothing but overjoyed and excited. 

April and I packed up our trusty Subaru and hit the road at a good time Thursday morning, 4 days before the race. Google Maps, Waze, and the iPhone map all made us feel like it was going to be between 9-10 hours of driving, so we knew it would be a full day. We made pretty good time getting through Portland, and I can't say enough good things about our meal at Burgerville - the fries and milkshake really hit the spot! Once we neared Seattle, traffic set in and our pace and time really slowed which ultimately set the tone for the final 6 or so hours of our day. We ultimately made it to Whistler by 9:30pm which was later than we thought, but if there is one thing we've learned, it's always worth a long day of travel to wake up in your destination the following morning! 

Enjoying the sites in Whistler. This is at the Olympic Plaza in Whistler where the 2010 Winter Olympics award ceremony was held.

Enjoying the sites in Whistler. This is at the Olympic Plaza in Whistler where the 2010 Winter Olympics award ceremony was held.

The next couple of days were awesome. Whistler is really beautiful and we had a great time exploring the village, relaxing in our incredible lodge we rented and eating some of the awesome local cuisine. I knocked out my final pre race workouts including a swim in Alta Lake, and a few short runs and rides (you can check all of my workouts out on Strava). One of my favorite parts of the days before the race is getting checked into the race and spending some time at the official Ironman village. There is something so electric about being around all of the athletes and support crews, surrounded by incredible brands that support the race, and of course stocking up on new race day swag and other products. (pro tip: time flies at these events and remember that in the days leading up to your A-race you need to be off your feet, so enjoy the atmosphere, but don't spend all day doing that or you'll accrue an unnecessary amount of fatigue!)

Attending the athlete meeting at the Ironman Village.

Attending the athlete meeting at the Ironman Village.

Ok, I'm getting close to the race. The night before the race was very laid back, just how I like it. April asked me "what is your perfect meal today?" and we ended up making homemade chipotle style bowls. I went light on the seasoning and no corn/beans but besides that had an awesome rice bowl with chicken and veggies, tortilla chips, and an amazing homemade mango salsa. Dinner was down by 6pm and after prepping my nutrition and gear bags, we were in bed by 10. 

Race Morning

Race morning was awesome. I woke up at 4:00am, jumped out of bed, and quietly sneaked out of the bedroom in the kitchen. I've got quite the routine when it comes to breakfast, and I ate the same thing I do everyday: greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, and a big cup of black coffee. April was up by 4:30 and we headed to the Whistler Village at 5:15, right on schedule. 

We parked the car, kissed, and said our good-byes. Transition 1 takes place at Alta Lake which is about 1.5 miles from the Village. Athletes are taken in shuttles and spectators have to either walk or ride their bikes. Logistically, it's a very smooth day, especially since bikes had to be dropped off the day before. I can't say enough positive things about how smooth the morning went! I hopped on my shuttle by 5:30 and was at the lake by 5:45. Dropped off my nutrition, special needs bags, and double checked my T-1 bag (even though I had triple checked it the day before!!!) and ended up finding April and her parents (my in-laws are amazing and made the trip up to Whistler to support) about 20 minutes before the race. I quickly got my wetsuit on, got one more kiss, and headed to the very front of the rolling swim start - it was almost GO TIME.

Quick pre race picture before heading to the swim start!

Quick pre race picture before heading to the swim start!

Swim - 3800 meters (2.4 miles), 1:00:27 (1:33/100m, 1:25/100y)

I love the rolling starts that Ironman has introduced, and the start of this race felt very similar to last years Ironman start at Coeur d'Alene. I started in the <60 minutes group and was in the water within about 15 seconds of the gun going off. Right away I settled into my stroke and effort and found a rhythm. I did a good job of staying within my means and swimming easy. Can't forget that it's not a swim race, it's a 10+ hour long training day, so you always have to manage your effort. I swam through the first loop in 29 minutes with a strong group and was feeling very controlled.

A great picture that my wife captured of the line of athletes before entering the swim. The line got much longer, with all 1,500 athletes rolling into the water over a 10 minute period.

A great picture that my wife captured of the line of athletes before entering the swim. The line got much longer, with all 1,500 athletes rolling into the water over a 10 minute period.

As the second loop began, it wasn't long before I started passing people who were still on their first laps. One lesson that I learned last year, is that if you want a good swim time you need to swim aggressively when passing. Rather than swimming around people I chose to swim through them this year, without clobbering them, I did a good job of swimming a straight line and not losing as much time. I made it through the second lap feeling very controlled and knew I would be close to breaking 1 hour. I ended up swimming about 15 seconds faster than last year, so it was a small PR, but an incredible start to the day.

Bike - 112 miles, 5:45:25 (19.45mph)

I took my time in Transition 1 to make sure that I had what I needed before the bike start. I put on my short sleeve aero cycling jersey, stashed my pockets with nutrition, and threw on my brand new Rudy Project Wing57 (LOVE!) and was through transition in a little under 5 minutes. After waving to April and the family, it was time to ride.

The bike started with a rolling climb out to the Olympic Park, then athletes enjoyed a technical descent back through Whistler before a long ride out past Pemberton before climbing, seemingly forever back to Whistler Village. I had a plan based on training that was based on power and my FTP of 285. I've learned to love the bike, and really wanted to set myself up to have a great run, so I gave myself power target and limits to ensure that I rode within my means.

Riding through and passed Whistler around mile 38 on the bike at Ironman Canada. An incredible course and race venue!

I made it through the first series of climbs feeling great and very in control. I first saw April and the family at mile 38 when we rolled through Whistler, and although I was flying, I made sure to let them know I was loving it and feeling great. That is when the bike felt like it really started.

After a series of technical descents, athletes embark on a 30 mile flat out and back section. This was time to focus on power, cadence, nutrition, all of the little things to set myself up for a strong climb back up to Whistler. I rode this well, stayed aero and in position, and was back through Pemberton quickly. As mile 90 got closer and closer, I knew that the looming 2,000+ foot climb was waiting for me, but I was prepared and knew that I had plenty left in my legs. 

I can't say that I enjoyed the climb, because I was mentally tired at this point. But, my body held it together and I was able to stay within my power while still feeling strong and as the climb progressed I felt like I really had a chance at nailing my A-goal of riding a 5:45. I passed quite a few athletes during the climb, and made the most of each aid station to refuel and graciously thank the volunteers. As I got closer to the village, I knew I was going to hit my goal time. Even more exciting, was how 'together' I was feeling, and I was excited to get on the run and rock the marathon.

A quick side-note on the bike: my normalized power was 206 watts, which was 5 under my goal power. I do feel like I left a few minutes out on the course, but considering the time, I'm very happy with the effort. The clarity and excitement that I had coming into Transition 2 is hard to explain, but I knew that I had the X-factor that I was missing last year (due to crazy heat and conditions) at CDA and that I'd be running the entire marathon on this day.

The Run - 26.2 miles, 3:41:31 (8:27/mile)

I flew through Transition 2, mostly because all I did was change my socks, put on my shoes, and grabbed everything else to put on while I was running. Once my Zoot cooling sleeves, race belt, and visor were on, it was time to do my thing. My goal for the entire run was to jog, and to jog within my means. Ironman is a long training day, and ultimately the goal is to get as fast as possible, so your 'easy' can be faster than others. My A-goal for the marathon was a 3:30 marathon which would average 8:00/miles. For me, that is a very easy run on a training day and it felt very within reason.

The first few miles of the run flew by, and I did a great job of slowing down the effort because everything about me wanted to fly with all of the excitement. There is just something so exhilarating about coming off of the bike without any mechanical or nutritional issues and being ABLE to run a marathon! 

The first turn around was at mile 8, and at this point I was averaging 7:55/mile and feeling in control. From the beginning I was walking through aid stations for about 10-15 seconds just to get down water and to grab calories before taking off for 1.5 miles until the next aid station. It's a sound strategy and one that I'll definitely stick with.

I saw April and her parents right before the 13.1 mile marker (half way) and was feeling great. I stopped really quick to give her a sweaty kiss, but more importantly to let her know that I was feeling good and that the day was going really well. I also knew that my race was about to start, because at this point I had close to 9 hours of racing in my legs. I made it through the half exactly at 1:45 so I was right on pace.

Closing in on the half way point on the run and seeing my wife, April for the first time!

Closing in on the half way point on the run and seeing my wife, April for the first time!

The next 12 miles honestly flew by. I slowed down a bit, averaging closer to an 8:40 mile for this section of the run, but I enjoyed it. I continually combatted any self doubt or negative inner voice with the reminder that I love this sport, and that I do truly believe that it's a gift to be able to do it. I started drinking Pepsi along with water during this portion of the race, and the flat soda sat really well in my stomach giving me a great pick-me-up with the combination of sugar and caffeine.

As I got closer to the village, I knew that there weren't many athletes running around me that were finishing their second lap. I was excited to know that I was one of the few athletes that was close to finishing their day. I made a series of turns while taking the most exciting turn which said "finish line, this way" and knew I was on the home stretch. At this point, I simply soaked it in.

Running down the finishers chute at Ironman Canada in beautiful Whistler, BC! An amazing day.

I enjoyed the run through the village and made sure to thank spectators and wave to people who were waving at me, it was such an electric last mile of the race. I did have one athlete who was about 200 meters behind me, and as we made the final turn towards the finish, I decided to push it. I pushed the pace enough to get some room, and once I hit the red carpet it was nothing but fist pumps and smiles - I was an Ironman for the 2nd time, crossing the finish line in 10:33:45!

Post race thoughts and takeaways

I'm completely satisfied and quite frankly, overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment after this race. I knew that I didn't have my best day last year at Coeur d'Alene and really wanted to have a day this year that I could be even more proud of. I learned a lot last year: the importance of salt and electrolytes, tweaks I knew to make in my bike training, and newfound confidence in my ability to swim fast. The feeling of accomplishment comes from the fact that I used what I learned, applied it, and had a great race. Finishing in the top 5% of the race at 74th overall and 13th in an incredibly competitive and impressive age group, M25-29.

I learned more this year, once again, and am excited to apply it towards my training going forward. I've made some big improvements on the bike, and am confident that the bike will continue to grow as a strength so that I can be at the top of my division in Ironman races. I know it takes time, and I'm excited to put in the work.

Most importantly, to April, thank you. Chasing my dreams means that I'm away a lot, and you have been incredibly understanding, encouraging, supportive, and energetic. You supported me 100% of the way through this race and were also a huge encourager for me on the days where I was lacking in motivation, and you helped me to stay on course. This is a WE accomplishment, and if I hadn't had that guy 200 meters behind me at the finish, I would have stopped to tell you that. I just couldn't let myself get passed in front of my wife :) 

Thanks for reading, everyone, and happy racing!

 

Ironman Canada: Pre-Race Thoughts

I'm sitting in an incredible 1,400 square foot lodge at the base of Whistler Mountain wearing an Ironman bracelet which means that I'm all checked in for my second go at the Ironman distance, Ironman Canada. Last years Ironman debut was a tough first crack at Ironman with the insanely hot temperatures in Coeur d'Alene, and although I didn't pick an easy (is there such thing as an easy Ironman?) course for my 2nd race, I'm feeling more prepared both physically and mentally than I was last year.

I'm going into this race a different athlete than I was last year, for quite a few reasons: I have 13 more months of training, racing, and experience under me. I have no raced an Ironman and to an extent, know what to expect which makes me much less intimated by the distance. Additionally, I have a new half-ironman PR, my first overall race win, and some incredible training accomplishments as well. I've done the work, I'm the fittest I've ever been, and I am ready to tackle the day.

I used training peaks to log every single activity between last years Ironman and now. The reason I bring this up, is that I have the data to show that I am fitter going into Ironman Canada this year than I was going into Ironman Coeur d'Alene last year. With a higher CTL (training peaks lingo for fitness, basically) being reached 2 weeks out and a well executed taper, I am excited to race my race on Sunday.

I have done a good job of focusing on the process for this race versus focusing on goals that revolve around times, however, I would by lying if I didn't state that I plan on beating last years time by at least an hour, putting me under 10:34 this year. When I swim, bike, and run within my means and don't let myself get caught up in the race day antics that always occur at Ironman, I know I'll see that goal met.

Race Report: Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon

Last Saturday, June 25th, I raced the Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon. The distances are close to the standard Half Ironman distance with the bike being a little longer – 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. This was a big fitness test for me as it fell 4 weeks and 1 day out from Ironman Canada which will take place on July 24th in Whistler, BC.

My debut Ironman last year in Coeur d’Alene was awesome. Although I didn’t hit the time I had hoped and trained for – it was an incredible experience on one of the hottest days in Ironman history with temperatures exceeding 106 degrees. One of the things I regretted from last season was not doing any sort of tune up race leading into Ironman. I was very excited to be able to participate in the big “hometown” race this year in beautiful Sunriver, only a short 15 minute drive from our home here in Bend, OR. Nothing beats waking up in your own bed on race morning!

Going into Pacific Crest I tried to set realistic expectations that were based more on the process versus the outcome, which is something I’ve really been focusing on this season. By focusing on things like effort, power, nutrition (process) I then find myself able to be much more pleased at the end of a race if I execute well, regardless of my time (outcome). With that said, I always give April time goals so that she can have an idea of when to expect me in transition and on the course and they were: sub 30 for the swim, 2:40 for the bike, and sub 1:30 for the run. I knew these were going to be tough, because I didn’t taper for this race – I trained right through it since the A race was only a month away.

Swim – 1900m, 31:18 (1:27/100y)

The swim for Pacific Crest is two beautiful loops in Wickiup Reservoir. This is about a 30 minute drive from Sunriver, so getting to the race early to get prepped was no problem which was amazing. After getting my bike tires pumped up to 105 PSI and getting the wetsuit on, April covered my neck in glide stick which is critical for me when swimming in a wetsuit. I gave her a big hug and kiss and headed to the boat ramp to line up with the athletes. The elite wave went off at 8:00 and the first age group wave, which I was racing in, started at 8:03. I had a few minutes to get a couple of warm up strokes in which is all that I needed – I felt ready to GO.

Pre Race Selfie with my bride!

My goal was to swim sub 30, but more importantly, I wanted to race hard but stay within my means. It’s easy to burn a few too many matches in the swim which can really hurt the rest of your race, and it is never worth it. I started out in the very front of my age group and found myself racing off the front in a pack of 3. My swim felt smooth and controlled and I made it through the first 900m loop in 14:20, ahead of pace but feeling good. This is when I started catching slower swimmers, and the second loop of the swim was much slower. I stayed with the front pack and we wiggled our way through the crowded loop exiting in just over 31 minutes. I finished 3rd in my wave and 16th overall including elites on the swim, so regardless of the time, I’m very happy with how the swim went.

Exiting the swim at the Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon

Bike – 58 miles, 2:41:18 (21.57mph)

The bike course was something I was really looking forward to this race. It was going to be a great fitness test for Ironman, but it’s also a beautiful point-to-point course. The first ~38 miles is tough, with the course gradually climbing out of the cascade lakes, ultimately peaking at Mount Bachelor before athletes take a 20 mile, very fast and technical descent into Sunriver.  My goal for the bike was based on process – I wanted to keep my power between 235-250 watts, take in 110 calories every 20 minutes, and ride the hills aggressively while staying within my means.

Pacific Crest Triathlon Long Course Bike

The bike went GREAT. Coming out of the swim in the front is always nice because you don’t have to fight crowds in transition or on the bike. Right out of transition I started executing the plan. It was very cold for the first 45 minutes as were riding, so I just focused on taking in nutrition and keeping my power under control. Once the bike hits the cascade lakes highway, we were in the sun and although the temperature was still in the 40’s, I warmed up and was able to focus on the task at hand.

The first 38 miles of the bike were tough, but outside of a few long climb it was very manageable. I’m fortunate that I live and train in Bend, because the bike did reach a peak elevation of just over 6,500 feet – which is definitely a lot for racers coming from sea level. Once the bike course reached the Sunriver cutoff, it was a matter of focusing on maintaining as aero of a position as possible and hammering the flats to keep my speed up. My goal for this course was to ride 2:40 and I was very happy with my time and effort on this course.

Right before entering Transition 2 after the 58 mile bike

Run – 13.1 miles, 1:27:28 (6:40/mile)

The goal for the run was simple: run smart, but run hard. Since I came into this race carrying a lot of fatigue, there were a lot of question marks about how the run would look for me. I came out running strong, and as always it felt easy. My first 2 splits were 6:34 and 6:26 and I knew that pace was a bit hot to maintain. I settled into a 6:45 effort and found myself chasing a 10 Barrel teammate from Boise – it was awesome to have a rabbit to chase for the run.

Always feels good to make it to the run without any issues on the bike!

I knew that I was racing off the front, so I didn’t have many runners to chase and hopefully pass. However, I kept the effort relatively steady in the high 6:30 to low 6:50 range and did find myself picking off the 4 people that passed me on the bike. Around mile 8, the run really opened up and we had very little cover from tree’s which made for a toasty back half of the run. If there is one thing that I learned at Ironman Coeur d’Alene last year it’s that staying cool is key. Thanks to base salts and putting ice in my triathlon jersey every aid station, I did a great job of keeping myself cool and relatively comfortable which allowed me to finish this race feeling strong and ready for Ironman Canada in 4 weeks.

Ultimately I finished the race in 4:45:30 which was good for 1st in my age group and 13th overall in a very competitive and strong field. I finished the race feeling confident and very ready to tackle the last couple of big weeks’ worth of Ironman training before tackling my 2nd Ironman on July 24th.

Thanks a ton for reading – happy training!

The Importance of Consistency

Often times I find myself fixating on the small details of training throughout each passing week, putting the majority of that focus on what I could have done better. - Why didn’t I go the full 40 minutes for today’s easy run? I should have got in an extra 500 meters during yesterday’s swim. I can’t believe I let myself skip that bike ride on Thursday. - These are all just examples, but you get the point.

When I flip the fixation from negative to the positives that are accomplished each week, the sound bites look much different. - Wow, I ran 45 miles last week. I can’t believe I broke 1:10 for the 100 in the pool. I rode my bike 5 times hitting a weekly total of over 130 miles. - The crazy thing about this second series of examples is that they came from the same week as the negative examples I shared earlier. 

Long run with my Dad on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. This is from the week of training that I referenced above.

Long run with my Dad on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. This is from the week of training that I referenced above.

As each week passes, we have a chance to improve. We learn from our mistakes, we gain fitness while increasing our training load, and we hopefully continue to perfect our ability to swim/bike/run for incredible amounts of times and at varying levels of intensities. The thing I’d like to focus on for today is that this only happens if we do one thing…we need to be consistent. 

When I’m writing out training schedules for my athletes and for myself each week - I make sure to communicate which workouts are “no-questions-asked-you-have-to-get-this-in” versus the workouts that fall into the “would-be-nice-but-if-you-want-to-sleep-that-is-okay” category. The reason for this is that I know that if we hit 80% of the workouts and truly execute them (remember, make your easy days easy and your hard days hard), our fitness will continue to build as the season (and years) progress.

The final sentence I just wrote is important, especially if you are committed to living your life as an endurance athlete and enjoying a long career in your respective sport(s). Endurance is all about the long term plan. Today’s workouts and decisions certainly impact tomorrow, but this months workouts and workload will impact next year. 

I have definitely had to remember this over the course of 2016 thus far. I have traveled during 10 weeks of the 20 weeks which has meant that there have been plenty of workouts that have been missed or adjusted at the last minute. However, I’ve made sure to maximize my time and hit the big ones (huge thanks to April for supporting this as I am definitely a weekend warrior) and my fitness is higher this year than this time last year. 

Despite all the travel this year, I have been able to accomplish a lot in my training so far in 2016.

The intent of this short piece is simply to encourage you to focus on being consistent and keeping your eyes on the long term plan. If you are consistent, and overall do your best to keep progressing (emphasis on this word!!!) you will absolutely make strides towards being the best athlete that you can be. Of course, I hope that you make a point to enjoy the journey as well - as it's important to remember for us amateur athletes, that this is a hobby (although a very time-consuming and life-changing one) after all.

My long term goal is to be as good as I can at the Ironman distance while being an even better husband and friend.

My long term goal is to be as good as I can at the Ironman distance while being an even better husband and friend.

Be consistent, enjoy the awesome journey, and always remember to look at the big picture versus letting yourself get stuck and negatively fixated on the details of each passing day. 

Aspects of a successful (and fun!) season: Micro Goals

Last season (2015), was a tough one for me. I had a career change, moved from Portland to Bend, and trained for my first Ironman. The thing that made it so tough wasn’t the personal or career stuff, it was the fact that I was burnt out before I even got to Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I spent a lot of time talking about this with April over the weeks leading into the race and absolutely the months after the race before we committed (a.k.a. April supporting me) to doing Ironman Canada this year, 2016. The thing that I realized in talking this through over and over, was the fact that my season lacked goals throughout – I was 100% laser focused on rocking my first Ironman, that I didn’t have other things that I was chasing or excited about. The biggest take-away that I had from last season was that I had to continually remember what I loved about Triathlon, and make sure to incorporate that throughout the year. I definitely love the training and am someone who chooses to have long training days on my days off or vacations. But, what I love even more is the competition – both against myself and others, as well as the insanely exciting environment of racing. In my previous post, I talked about how fit I’m feeling and didn’t mention a single thing about mental fatigue or burnout. And I want to talk about the why behind this, as it’s definitely a product of being very intentional with how I’ve structured this season's prep and training.

Enjoying Ironman training in beautiful Bend, OR.

Enjoying Ironman training in beautiful Bend, OR.

Set Training Goals

I have written down all sorts of goals that I’d like to accomplish within my swimming, biking, and running this year. I’d like to break 1:15/100m during a workout. I want to hit an FTP of 310w by June. I want to break 4:30 in the half ironman this year. I want to run a sub 6-minute pace 10k. I want to run South Sister in Bend. The list goes on! These goals are so fun because they give my training purpose and I’m motivated by all of them. Just don’t forget to maintain focus, as these all require very specific workouts and attention to detail in order to accomplish.

Do What you Love

If there was thing I missed last season it was racing. I did 3 races in all of 2015 which left me feeling mentally tired, as I didn’t have those exciting race environments to look forward to. This year, I want to race as much as I can. I know that I won’t be able to show up to every race in top form, but racing is FUN and so is triathlon. The key here is to remember what you love – if that’s riding with groups, open water swimming, or trail running – just make sure that you are incorporating those things into your months.

Don’t Force It

The final thing that I’m finally coming to terms with is that there are times where a 5-hour workout is on the schedule and either my mind or body just doesn’t want to make that happen. Sometimes it’s good to push it and make it happen, but sometimes it’s good to cut it short or skip it and go on a date with your wife (or do yard work). Regardless, remembering that triathletes are made over the course of many seasons not based on individual workouts is an important thing that has helped me stay mentally sharp this season.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this and if there are any things that help make your seasons feel more successful and fun. Thanks for reading!

Updates on Training, Racing, and Life so far in 2016

The past few months have been absolutely non-stop on all levels – personal, professional, and triathlon related. I’ve been given some big opportunities at work which has meant a lot of travel, I am on my way back to Bend from my 7th trip in the past 11 weeks. Additionally, April and I have had a lot of weekend events with both sides of our families which has mean that between crazy work schedules, our weekends have been seemingly non-stop as well. I don’t have a single thing to complain about though, life is good and I wake up thankful every single day for my wife, career, family, and the amazing place we get to call home – Bend, Oregon. On the triathlon front, I’ve had some new challenges enter into this year’s Ironman build with the amount of travel I’ve taken on. When I’m gone every other week, that means that my time at home is that much more precious so I’m trying to really prioritize time with April, friends, and being a home-owner (although, April carries a VERY large load of that) – with the additional element of two dogs who require a lot of love and attention. I have done a good job of making workouts a priority while traveling and have definitely put an additional emphasis on intensity because I haven’t had nearly as much ‘free time’ for training.

To elaborate a little bit on the training and fitness component, especially considering the nature of this blog, I’m stoked at how fit I’ve been able to get despite everything that I’ve mentioned above. I use Training Peaks to meticulously track every workout and utilize their Performance Manager Chart to monitor how my fitness is progressing. I am spot on with where I was this time last year, which is AWESOME. The reason it is so exciting is that my Ironman this year is 1 full month later this year – as Ironman Canada is in late July. This means that I’ll have an extra month to gain fitness and will definitely be showing up to Ironman in my best shape yet.

I won’t go crazy with race reports because the two races I’ve done recently have definitely been treated as ‘C’ races. For me, the difference between an A, B, and C race is the following. An ‘A Race’ gets a full taper, I rest up and really make the race a priority to show up in my best form – sharp, and rested. A ‘B Race’ won’t get a full taper, but I will definitely shorten workouts up leading into it to make sure that I show up in good form. However, I’m not affording myself days off as I’m still focused on the important races in the season. A ‘C Race’ would be a race that I’m going to train right through – still hitting big volumes and high intensities, and simply showing up to see what I’ve got in my legs on the day.

Salmon Run 10k

I raced a local 10k in Bend a few weeks back called the Salmon Run 10k. The goal going into the race was to run hard, to get in a solid workout and to not race smart. Basically, I wanted to race from the front no matter how fast or slow the race started to see if I could get my first overall win in a race. To cut it short, mission accomplished. I ran a 39 minute 10k on a very tough course and came away with an overall win which was an incredibly cool feeling. The time wasn’t anything special, but considering the course and my tired legs going into the race – I was very excited to have such a great race.

Salmon Run 10k

Bend Half Marathon

The goal for the half was to race hard and, again, to see what I could do on tired legs. I really wanted to run 1:25-1:26, a few minutes off from a PR, but considering how hard the course was I knew this effort would be close to a low 1:20 race on a flat course. The race course was challenging with two very big climbs, but I snuck away with a 1:26:40 and finished 3rd overall in a race with over 900 finishers. The race support was awesome – both with volunteers and spectators. Despite the very very cold and spring-like conditions (rain, wind, hail, cold), I was happy to have a strong race and to be able to cheer in my wife, some family, and coworkers as well.

Bend Half Marathon in Bend, OR on April 24, 2016

I’m working on a few posts that will be specific to my training philosophy that I use with coaching, along with some things that are working for me personally with my schedule. Thanks for reading!