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!

2016: Goals and Outlook

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2016 is off to an awesome start! I'm back to structured training which is exciting after a few months of staying fit without following a schedule. It seems like half of Bend has got some sort of sickness to start the new year as well, and unfortunately April and I both picked that up. I haven't missed a workout because of it, but I have been very mindful of reducing the intensity when necessary to allow my body to rest. This time last year I started 2015 off with the swine flu, needless to say, I'm excited to have kicked the sickness and to be starting the year off in a much better place! Before I dive into some goals for the year and the outlook I'm approaching the year and season with, I've got to share some fun personal news. I grew up in Alaska with Golden Retrievers, and I've always wanted a big dog that I could take running, hiking, and exploring. April and I have talked about it for years (literally) and without getting into the details, we decided to make it happen in December. We didn't want a dog that sheds, so we locked in on the Goldendoodle breed - they have the athleticism and intellect of a poodle, the great looks of a golden retriever, and they don't shed. They are amazing dogs. We found a family not to far away that had a few puppies and we fell in love with one of the males in the litter - I'm excited to introduce you to Riggins :)

Riggins

New season, new approach

This season I'm taking a different approach than I've taken in the past. I have 3 years of Triathlon specific training under my belt, with an additional 2 years of running volume. That's not a LOT when you compare me to other competitive age-groupers, however, I know that I have a big base and a solid amount of experience at this point. I'm entering this year a much more confident athlete, I know my strengths and my weaknesses, I know what gets me excited along with what keeps me motivated, and I know how to balance my triathlon lifestyle with real life. I'm choosing to focus on the process this season vs. obsessing on the outcome of my races and I'm so stoked to see the big improvements this year.

Last year, I started off the year very strict and rigid - putting too much emphasis on volume without truly attacking my weaknesses while working to maintain my strengths. This left me feeling burnt out before my racing season began which made for a lackluster second half of the year, something I am determined to avoid this year.

Being 7 months away from my A-race of the year, Ironman Canada. I'm not focused on volume at this point, as I believe that it's the 12 weeks leading into your race where specificity is key - for an Ironman this means volume mixed with race pace and effort work. I'm attacking my weakness (opportunity!) on the Bike with focus on increasing my threshold power, ultimately trying to increase my strength and ability to push out a lot of power. Simultaneously, I am maintaining my strength as a runner with 30 miles or so of running per week including 1 tempo run, a shorter interval workout, and a general endurance run. Most triathletes dread the swim, but after a 1 hour Ironman debut swim last year, I've realized that the swim could be one of my big advantages. I'm swimming 4 times per week right now focusing on strength and speed.

January Trainer Workout

Process goals vs. Outcome goals

My goals for this season are going to be different than they have been in the past. I'm leading with process goals and not focusing on the outcome. Trusting that when I execute the plan and follow the process I've set in place, that I will achieve the best outcome possible, for me. Here are a few examples of process goals that I have incorporated into my training:

  • Swim 4 times per week. Incorporate WORK into each workout and learn how to suffer in the water. Each week swim 10 x 100 on a send-off that gives me :10 rest. Each week have an endurance focused set where I swim at least 5 x 400 to develop shoulder endurance. Develop my top end speed while doing 20 x 50 each week with at least :20 rest between each interval.
  • Bike 4 times per week and train specifically, don't waste rides just spinning easy - that is what riding outdoors is for in the spring. Increase my upper end power by executing workouts that are hard and make sure to increase power output as my fitness builds.
  • Run 30 miles each week. Spend 20 minutes working under my 10k effort each week along with a short, hard workout that I would tend to avoid (example: 12 x 400 @ 5k w/ 200 slow recovery).

I believe that if I structure my training this way, that my race goals can be that much more specific. I will know my abilities and rather than saying I'd like to ride a 5:35 at Ironman, I can plan to ride at 75% of my FTP for the Ironman Bike (which I do believe will put me under 5:30!!!). If I train to the best of my ability, rather than shooting for arbitrary numbers, I will be able to race to the best of my ability. I can't be disappointed if I give my best.

2015 - Year in Review

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I go back and forth between wanting to do weekly summaries on this site about my training, racing, and progress. Part of me really likes the idea as I see several benefits: accountability, more frequent content on my site, a way to go back and review thoughts/feelings throughout the year, and the list goes on. I also see a few negatives: repetitive content, writing out of obligation, and taking myself too seriously :) However, I do take triathlon seriously and find a lot of value in doing reviews of training, tracking progress, and sharing what works and what doesn't (for me) with those of you that follow me. With that said, I'm going to separate my review of 2015 into 2 parts: quantitative (the numbers) and qualitative (my thoughts, emotions, etc.)

   Quantitative: The 2015 Numbers

There are a few expected numbers to be seen here: total run miles, bike miles, and swim yardage. I use Training Peaks religiously and there are a few numbers (TSS, CTL) I will share that are specific to this tool. Click this link to see the definitions of these terms and to also learn how they can radically transform your training, preparation, and racing.

Swim: 334,886 yards (190.28 miles), 80 hours and 1 minute (80:01:04). Bike: 3,767 miles, 207 hours and 52 minutes  (207:52:07). Run: 1,431 miles, 184 hours and 26 minutes (184:26:01). Strength: 14 hours and 19 minutes (14:19:05). CrossTrain: 10 hours and 37 minutes. (10:37:00). Total TSS: 33,248.8 Peak CTL: 122.5 Total Time: 486 hours = 20 days and 6 hours! (486:38:17) Total Distance: 5,388.28 miles

Qualitative: How I felt about the year

Across the board this was my biggest year of training. I am thrilled with how my body handled the training load (12-18 hours/week leading up to Ironman). I will also note that I took several significant breaks from training as well including 2 months of no cycling and hardly any swimming.

Mentally, I grew a lot. Learning and experiencing the benefits of a truly polarized approach to training. By this I really mean that I did a much better job of making my 'hard days hard' and my 'easy days easy.' I also finally took some time off. Not off as in zero activity, but I took 2 months off from focusing on multi-sport and just stayed fit while enjoying life. This meant a fair amount of running, a little biking, and enough swimming to not forget how :)

Finally, I failed forwards a few times in my training by the way that I structured my schedule as a self-coached athlete, leaving myself tired and feeling semi burnt out before my first race. I started a structured training block too far out from my A-race (Ironman Coeur d'Alene) while not having any races to sharpen myself up and keep myself motivated. I'll have a much different approach this year as I train for Ironman Canada with 3 big and very different races between spring and my July Ironman.

2015 was a great year personally and professional, I'm so thankful for everything experience and learned and am ready to make 2016 one for the books. Thanks for reading!

 

Christmas as a Triathlete

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It seems like every time I pop on to twitter or any other social media site, that I'm seeing an article about how to 'survive the holidays.' I especially enjoyed reading Susan Lacke's piece: 'The War on Christmas Cookies.' Not because it told me how many miles I needed to run in order to enjoy my Christmas cookies, but because it told me to ENJOY my Christmas cookies! I do think that this time of the year can be tough, especially for multi sport athletes who love training plans, two-a-days, and energy gels. However, I believe that there are a few things that we can do to set ourselves up for success - both mentally and physically.

  1. Manage YOUR expectations. Don't plan a 16 hour training week when you have 4 holiday parties to attend. Don't schedule a 4 hour long ride on Saturday when you have a house to decorate with your wife. It's simple, set yourself up for success by setting reasonable expectations.
  2. Pick A goal. Here, I would emphasize the 'A.' I find that it isn't realistic to shoot for 10k of swimming, 30 miles of running, and 6 hours of riding this time of year. Why not pick one of those - and make sure to absolutely nail it.
  3. Remember that you aren't racing for awhile. This ties into #1, this time of the year we should be focused on building up general fitness but also giving ourselves a mental and physical break, emphasis on 'we should.' This helps me be OK with shortening my rides/runs to prioritize family/fun.
  4. Quality > Quantity. With race season being months away, this is a great time to work on your upper-end fitness. Make the most of the time that you have, even if that means a 30 minute hard workout on the trainer rather than the hopeful 90 minute tempo ride.
  5. Eat some cookies! Susan said it best: "Exercise is fun. So is eating. Find a healthy balance of both over the course of the year, and we'll all be fine."

I hope this article finds you well and can give you the willpower to enjoy the holiday season while finding a healthy balance with your training. If you end up putting on a pound or two, we all know they will fly off when January kicks in and we kick ourselves into gear.

Happy Holidays!

 

The Traveling Triathlete

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I have been spending a fair amount of time on the road since moving to Bend in April. Work has me traveling an average of 2x per month but I’m in the middle of a 5 week stretch of one trip per week. I used to fear traveling due to its potential to get in the way of my training, health, and fitness. However, I’ve really learned to embrace it and I’ve come up with a pretty great routine (that naturally has to be flexible!) and small set of rules that are working really well. Without any further rambling, here are some of my tips of balancing workouts, training, and health with traveling! Be Flexible – “Something is ALWAYS better than nothing.” This one is at the top of the list because it requires the most adjustment if you are like me: a planner who is energized and driven by following and nailing my scheduled workouts. When I’m on the road I pack an abundance of workout gear: meetings get moved, dinners might not start until 8pm or later, and I can always choose to wake up early. Following the simple mantra of ‘something is always better than nothing’ almost always allows for me to carve out a run, even if it’s just 20 minutes. But, if I have a few openings throughout the day, I can actually accrue a decent amount of training.

 

Strength – “Do the things that I don’t do at home.” The number 1 thing that I hear triathletes say they want to do more of is strength training. I try to be as regimented as I can and I prescribe appropriate and relevant strength and core workouts to my athletes, but the small things are always the easiest to miss or skip. A hotel room is a great place to get in a quick circuit and you can always make time for 10+ minutes! Simple circuits of lunges, planks, squats and pushups will help you be a more durable athlete, plus it’s a great way to work up a quick sweat.

Michael run in SD

Single Sport Focus. Triathletes balance a workload of swimming, biking, and running each week which can be tough to manage on the road. I always change my plans to allow for me to do a single sport focus while traveling. Running is by far the most efficient exercise we can do – it requires the least amount of gear and doesn’t require special facilities. If you don’t want to run outside, I promise you’ll be able to find a treadmill. When I’m pinched for time, I follow this rule “Quality beats quantity” and will opt for tempo effort or intervals to make the most of my time.

Hit the stairs and walk when you can. At the airport, the hotel, navigating the trade shows – there are always stairs. As long as there are stairs available, I’m choosing to take the stairs in lieu of elevators. This week we took a few clients out to dinner about a mile away from our hotel. The team all Uber’d and took cabs but I opted to walk both ways. Great way to clear the mind and the steps add up!

Control your intake. At the end of the week on the road, I’m continually surprised by how many times I hear people say “I need to detox” or “I miss vegetables.” The easiest thing to control on the road is your food intake. I absolutely understand that there isn’t always access to a salad bar and that we might have to eat from the buffet of grilled cheese, sliders, and French fries. Portion control and choosing the best quality food no matter where you are is such a great way to control your health while traveling. And don’t forget to drink a LOT of water – it’s very easy to forget this one when you are going nonstop. My water bottle is always with me and it’s a great way to make sure I’m drinking enough fluids.

I hope this is helpful and can encourage you to find a way to incorporate health and exercise into your traveling routine. Making time for YOU is a really important aspect of traveling and it’s not fair to let your happiness, health, and sanity slide to the back when on the road.

Would love to hear in the comments below or on Twitter what types of tricks/rules you have for balancing your lifestyle with travel!  

Cyclocross is FUN

This past weekend I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with my Team 10 Barrel teammates at the cross races here in Bend, OR. It’s a big weekend of racing as part of the cross crusade series and wow is there a lot of energy at these races! It’s so different than the triathlon scene that I’ve become so accustomed too. Triathletes are very serious, focused, quite often OCD about their gear and nutrition, trying to stay off their feet during the days leading up to the race…the list goes on and on. Cyclocross is very different. There is a lot of drinking, tons of running around to watch the races and cheer on your team, and of course there is the insane racing – and there are some serious athletes at the races. I cheered my team on while hanging out at our team tent on Halloween which was a blast. There were back-to-back races going on, tons of teammates to connect with, and of course 10 Barrel brewing supplied us with more than our fair share of beer, snacks, and Halloween candy. Needless to say, the atmosphere was electric and it was energizing!

After watching a full days’ worth of races, our Portland team captain told me that I should come down the next morning to race in the beginner’s race since I’d never raced Cyclocross before. The Sunday races were costume themed, so he told me that the vibe would be fun and it would be a fun way to connect with the team as I’d be experiencing what they were all doing.

The Race

I woke up to a text message from a friend asking if I was going to be at the race. I pulled out some sort of excuse, probably something along the line of: “I’m pretty tired and ate too much candy last night, I’ll probably just head down later to watch.” After he told me that he was heading down to race, I jumped out of bed, texted him “ok, I’ll rally!” and I was down there in my camo onesie within 20 minutes.

Climbing a big set of stairs with my bike in hand. Super tough part of the race!

I quickly registered for the event, and OBRA has a very organized process which was great as a first time participant. I pre-rode the course, getting a chance to test out the sharp corners, obstacles, and getting a feel for what was in store. Our race was set to go off at 8:40am and since it was the first race, I was told that it would definitely be starting on time. I got in my designated coral, which was based on my bib number and energy started to creep up. I love racing!!!

The gun went off and it was an absolute sprint. I was racing on my full-suspension mountain bike, as I don’t have a cross bike. The benefits of a cross bike seem to be that they are fairly light, solid frames with no suspension so you don’t lose power when pedaling (just like a road bike), and they have disc brakes so you can brake in the mud. On a mountain bike, you have suspension which is awesome for rolling off-road, but for this type of event I definitely had a few disadvantages. Every time I pedaled the suspension would absorb a lot of my power output – additionally, my bike is roughly 29 pounds so it’s not light by any means when you are jumping off and carrying it over obstacles.

I gave it my all and did my best to use my aerobic engine to make up for the lack of equipment, and it worked! The first lap was tough as I was climbing through the field fighting for position since I’d started near the back of the race due to my corral placement. By half-way through the 2nd lap I’d found myself in the top 5 and just tried to manage all of the different things going on: sprinting past competitors on straights, not dying on the technical corners, and trying to get on my bike after dismounting for obstacles without destroying my downstairs.

My average heart rate for the race was 173 and it peaked at 186 BPM!

I entered the bell lap (they literally rang a bell for me which was awesome) and had only a few guys left in front of me, the only one in sight was a fellow teammate. I pushed out as much power as I could and on the final descent before the last sprint I made the pass for 4th and held on to finish my first 40 minute Cyclocross race.

All in all, the experience was awesome. It’s very different than my normal training and racing experience as a triathlete which was refreshing, especially this time of the year. The comradery within our team, and all of the energy with the thousands of attendees was definitely electric. I’d highly recommend checking out the Cross Crusade series, or a local Cyclocross event in your area to get a brutal threshold workout in, enjoy some drinks, and experience this awesome sport.

Newton's Third Law

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Isaac Newton is known as a prestigious physicist, philosopher, and mathematician. To me, I will always think of Newton based on his laws of motion. To extract part of his 3rd law: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." This can be interpreted many ways, but for me it's always been that we always have a choice in how we choose to react, every single day. The last few weeks have been hard! As we've entered into the fall season, it seems as if we've entered a difficult season of life as well. Figuring out what the holiday's are going to look like as we balance our lives between two families while still making time for ourselves. Continual growing pains (and awesome opportunities) of working in technology for a company that is continuing to grow, evolve, and mature. And sickness, being down and out for a few weeks with a cold or flu that seemed to attack half of the office.

I find myself really struggling to balance all of the competing priorities in my life when life isn't effortless, but at the same time it's a chance to really assess ALL of it. Without a doubt, my biggest priority in life is and should be my wife - supporting her, putting her happiness above mine, and going all in to keep her love tank full. Showing up to work with my game face on every day is really important to me, and I need to remember to bring my natural, fun energy that makes me who I am. And training is something that is huge priority, something that is fulfilling and rewarding as I chase my giant goals.

This post is a simple reminder to myself and I hope it finds you well, too. I have found myself reacting negatively to many different parts of life these last few weeks. Almost always, these negative reactions impact the important parts of my life that really matter...you guessed it, in a negative way. No matter what 'action' life throws at you, take pride in how you 'react.' For me, I'm going to choose to wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow.

Super Dave’s Down & Dirty Half – Race Report

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I’ve struggled with motivation since Ironman Coeur d’Alene and decided to shut things down for the fall after the Deschutes Dash Olympic and Hood to Coast. I think this was due to the long training cycle I put myself through and the lack of racing throughout my Ironman build. Anyways, my running started to feel really good after Hood to Coast where I ran 3 legs and ~ 20 miles within a 24 hour period at faster than a 6:25/mi average pace. With the running starting to click, I decided to put in a bit of a running block. This was a chance to recharge my batteries while still building fitness. A few of my coworkers signed up for a very tough local Half Marathon here in Bend, OR and I decided to sign up last minute, about 10 days before the race. Super Dave’s Down & Dirty Half Marathon is a popular race that features a very tough climb over the first 6.8 miles of just over 1,200 feet. Once you reach the top, you get to fly down some very technical single track trail on the famous Tiddlywinks mountain bike trail. Probably the only chance I’ll get to run on this trail without getting yelled at by mountain bikers. J

Two weeks before the race I got a pretty nasty sinus cold that has been going around. I got a lot of rest and did some very easy paced 30 minute runs but that was about the extent of my training. This is something that would probably stress some athletes out. However I am a big believer in rest leading up to races and definitely knew that the ‘hay was in the barn’ after several weeks of 40+ miles per week and a fair amount of quality.

Race morning came around, and for the most part the sickness was out. Nothing beats racing in your hometown! Waking up in your own bed, drinking your normal coffee, eating your usual breakfast – it’s amazing. We headed up to the race around 8am, and were there by 8:15 – perfect, considering that it was a casual 9am start. I hooked up with my coworkers, got a bathroom break in, warmed up and was feeling great. Despite the cool temperatures, the sun was keeping us nice and warm so I stripped down to my Pearl Izumi racing singlet and Nike arm-warmers. I got my pre-race kiss from my wife and it was time to roll!

Right before the start of Super Dave's Down & Dirty Half Marathon.

As soon as the gun went off we started flying! The race starts at the Inn at the Seventh Mountain with a flat/downhill 1/4 mile through the parking lot until taking a sharp right onto the single track trail which is where the race began. We were running 6:00/mile pace for the first few minutes which felt comfortable to me, but I knew that many of the racers were running outside of their means.

The beginning of Super Dave's Down and Dirty Half Marathon.

As soon as we hit the climbs, people started falling back and I found myself running in a small pack for the first few miles. My dad taught me to run with short strides when climbing which has always stuck with me. I elected to run without my heart rate monitor so I was really just running off of effort. The first 6.8 miles were a grind with a mostly steady climb of about 1,200 feet with several spikey sections that were over 10% grade based on Strava. About 1 mile from the peak of the run, I passed the group I was in and found myself in 10th place as we began the fun descent down Tiddlywinks.

Elevation profile of Super Dave's Down and Dirty Half Marathon.

My average pace during the climb was right at 7:25/mile and my goal for this race was to hold a 7:15 pace. I felt that I was in 1:23-1:25 open half marathon shape, and running a 1:35 on such a challenging course felt like it would be a great goal. As I began the descent I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, but I did my best to control my stride coming down hill and was able to click off 6:25-6:40 pace the entire descent. Not quite as fast as I wanted, but with the trail was very technical with a lot of turns, rocks, roots and obstacles so I knew I was putting time into my competition. Taking in Hammer Gel throughout the race (miles 5 and 10) definitely helped keep the engine going as I felt strong from start to finish.

Super Dave told us before the gun went off that we would know we were close to the finish when we hit a steep climb at the bottom of the downhill. Sure enough, around mile 12.25 I found myself grinding up a short but very steep climb and I could see the field where we finished in the distance. I knew I wasn’t going to catch 9th place so I strided out and ran it in strong for a 1:31:54 finish. This result was good for 10th overall including 3 professionals, an average pace of 7:01/mile and much faster than my initial goal of 1:35.

Overall, I am stoked on the result! The time is somewhat meaningless due to the difficulty and individuality of the race, however to place so well in relation to professionals and to feel as strong as I did is a great sign. I would definitely recommend Super Dave’s Down and Dirty Half Marathon and am looking forward to continuing to check out the trail race scene here in Bend.

Next up for me will be a subtle build in training volume, adding in some intensity to the cycling and continuing to swim at least 3x a week while I keep building my run volume and intensity. I’m enjoying the break from rigid training but excited to see my fitness to continue to build. The 2016 season is going to be a great one!

Hood to Coast 2015: The Year of the Storm

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This years running of Hood to Coast was my third, and without a doubt the best one yet! What a thrilling 30 hours and 31 minutes of team support, camaraderie, good food, family time, and hard work. The last two times I've run H2C was with a semi-competitive team from Nike, this year was with my wife's awesome family and I could have never imagined it would be as fun as it was. For those of you who aren't familiar with Hood to Coast - let me do a quick rewind so you can follow along. Hood to Coast, also known as 'The Mother of all Relay's is a 12 person relay that covers 198 miles, starting at Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, west of Portland and finishing on the beach (the 'coast') in Seaside, OR. The relay race consists of two vans: Van 1 and Van 2 who each have 6 runners. Each runner completes 3 legs of running distances of 4-8 miles, making it 36 total legs of running to get from 'Hood to Coast.'

Personally, I was in Van 2 and ran Leg 9 - a tough leg with 2 fairly flat 5-5.5 milers and a final 7.75 leg with rolling hills as you near the beach. I haven't inserted very much speed work into my training, and wasn't sure what I would be capable of. However, after putting together our teams time estimates into a rather complicated excel document (a.k.a. 'the spreadsheet') I was predicted to run 6:19 pace for my first 2 legs and 6:49 for the final long leg. This didn't quite feel within reach, so I crammed in a few last minute track workouts and showed up on race day feeling as fit and fresh as possible when taking into account how sporadic training has been for me since Ironman.

Final track workout for Hood to Coast at Cascade Middle School in Bend.

Our Van got to Sandy High School nice and early on Friday, about 2 ours before our first van was predicted to come in and make the exchange. (There are 3 major exchanges where the van's pass off wrist 'baton' to the other van, which is where having a spreadsheet with predicted times is critical and clutch!) We were able to get our van decorated, hit the Honey Buckets and our first runner, my wife April was able to get her mind & body right and ready to run her first leg.

Once the final runner of Van 1 showed up, it was go time! This is where the race really begins, and we spent the next 25 hours coordinating directions so we could make it to each exchange, stopping on the side of the road to cheer on our runners, and getting some rest when time allowed. One of the advantages to running with a team who was a little slower than the fast teams I'd run with before meant that we had some additional time to support our runners, as well as some additional time to rest between legs which was awesome.

My wife looking beautiful and super strong as she started her first leg, leg 7.

Since I was running Leg 9, this meant that the legs I ran were Legs 9, 21, and 33. My first leg began around 5:30 PM and was 5.5 miles and I was predicted to run 6:19 based on the 10k time I'd entered to estimate my paces. My goal was to start steadily hard and just maintain that effort. I clicked off 6:11'ish miles for the first few and ended up averaging 6:13's for the leg which I was super stoked on! It was a really hard effort, but short enough that I didn't feel too much fatigue after it was done.

Link to data on Strava for Leg 9!

My 2nd Leg, Leg 21, was a tough one - not necessarily because of the terrain or distance but because it began around 3 in the morning. The title of this post suggests that weather wasn't great, and during our vans second legs is when the storm really began. We had rain that was coming down at the intensity of my shower and lightening, but thankfully it was stayed warm and was in the low 60's. I was predicted to run 6:22 pace for this 5 mile leg and ended up clocking 6:15 pace - it was so wet I think I just wanted to be done!

Quick picture during our 2nd legs which took place between 3-7am - running on energy and teamwork!

Link to data on Strava for Leg 21!

Between the 2nd and 3rd legs is when things got interesting, and where we learned that the storm was affecting the outcome of the race for teams. Race Officials notified us that the wind was blowing at 75mph at the coast, and that they were having to close the finish line. Further, we were told that if we wanted to finish…it would be at our own risk! Crazy! What do you do with that information?! We were 2 legs into our relay, exhausted, and had no way to know what our Van 1 runners were thinking as we didn't have cell reception. We decided to pull into the final major exchange, rest, and wait to see what they thought when they came in to make the final pass-off. Thankfully, after a few hours the rain/wind lifted and in true Oregon fashion there was a weather shift which gave us some clear weather. By the time our runners came in, we committed to going for it and told Van 1 that we would get the job done and see them at the coast.

My final Leg, Leg 33, was the tough one. 7.75 miles of rolling hills to finish off my contribution to the relay race. I was predicted to run 6:49 pace and was hoping to be closer to 6:45's. I started off feeling strong and consistent right around a 6:45 pace, and for the first time (for me) the van pulled over mid-way through the run to cheer for me and play my power song! It was such an awesome boost of confidence and motivation, with my brother-in-law challenging me to catch a guy who I had been chasing the whole leg. Just the boost I needed and I fought hard to reel him in right at the finish, averaging around 6:41 pace to finish off the day.

Link to data on Strava for Leg 33!

Our team rallied and made it to the coast almost 2 hours ahead of our predicted time. We met up with our 12th runner and all crossed the new, make-shift finish line together, quickly followed by more than our fair share of pizza which was well deserved. Hood to Coast '15 was unforgettable for many reasons, the weather being the most obvious, but for me it was the awesome time spent with a family that I'm so lucky to be a part of.

Selfie with the Van 2 runners once we had made it to the coast!

Time to recover, and enjoy some un-structured training for the next few months. I don't have any races planned, but do anticipating jumping into some local races: a 10k, half marathon, and maybe even a road-mile to capitalize on the new energy I have for running after such a great weekend. Thanks for reading!