Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 into the wild

Excited for this year coming up. 

That morning before Christmas kind of excited. I’ve been injured for the last 7-8 weeks and after looking at my MRI this past week my doc said there’s evidence from scaring, tears and pulls from at least a year back. No surgery needed and PT should get me back to about 90%.

I’m excited because although 2012 was an amazing year and ALL my goals were reached, I never felt 100%. I didn’t tell anyone that my left hip felt like it was going to explode after 4 hours on the bike, or that my hip would go through intense pain after 8 miles of running then go a bit numb.

I felt if I could make it to the taper that I’d get to race day feeling better than any training day. Luckily, and I mean that, everything turned out great for race day. By far IMC was one of the greatest days I’ve ever had. And really when I think about it, it had little to do with the actual race, it was the support from loved ones following and cheering both along the road and on-line. The race went by in about 3 minutes : )

Anyways, before I start crying thinking about all that.

Next year, my focus will be on trail running, specifically the Evergreen Trail Run Series (all half marathons). I love running trails and couldn’t wait to start this series. I may only do 1-2 tri’s this year: Lake Stevens and Austin 70.3, so the trail running will take center stage.

Why trail running?

I’ve done 2 trail races and both had intense uphill sections. 12%-24% grades lasting anywhere from .25 mile to 2 miles. I held my own on the uphills, not great, but never got passed. On the flats I could reach and pass a few more people, hold a good 7:30 pace. But on the down hills. I passed more people on the down hills than on the up and flats combined. Sub 7 minute miles on a narrow, steep trail with boulders, mud and sharp turns. Oh, it’s like an addiction.

I figure if I train really hard on going straight up I can hold my own through the trail series. Santa brought us “Unbreakable: Western States 100” on dvd and I haven’t been this excited about running again in a few years. I just can’t get Kilian Jornets’ style of running out of my head.

I blame my high school buddy Scott for this new direction into the wild. He contacted me a few short years ago for tips on running his first half marathon. Now a few Ultra’s under his belt later, he’s got me wanting to do the same. Maybe not Ultra’s just yet, but trails for sure. Our friends Matt and Tiff aren’t any help either, pulling 50K’s and 50 milers out of their legs time after time. And Matt's not even a runner ; )

Amazing stuff, fun stuff.

I guess that’s what it always comes down to, fun stuff. If training is going to take you away from the ones you love for so long, you sure as hell better be doing it because it’s fun as hell and you love to do it.

Well, hope everyone has great goals in mind for 2013 and maybe I’ll get a chance to train w/ a few of you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

IMC 2012 What the hell...

“What in the hell am I doing here?” I said that once at mile 20 on the run…

Bar none having the love and support of Alley was the main reason I even got to the starting line. The crew each athlete must have is just overwhelming to think about. For myself I had: My brother Lynn looking out for our pups and kitty. Miia, Ryan, Nina, and John also taking the pups out while we were gone. JRA, the bike shop down the street, rushing to getting Jerry Lee in top road shape. The TN Support Crew (25+). Coach Mark and all the people online and at work.

The day sets up as one long ass training day in my mind. The whole thing is just too much to swallow beforehand as a race. I keep referring to “as before” and this was nothing like 2010.

Josh and I got dropped off just after 5AM and headed to bag drop and body marking. Alley was doing body marking so that was great to see her, calm the nerves a bit and get marked. Settled up the bike then got in the line for the bathrooms. Right on plan.

Met up with a few TN folks and sort of just hung out shooting the shit for 20-25 minutes. The usual random nervous conversation and watching the two bathroom lines grow to about 100yards each from different directions. Oh, and there’s Rebecca , just whizzing in front of us all, understandable. Ah, the comfort of being around teammates!

Goal Swim Time: 1:15

The swim is the warm up, extra training this year so as not to be faster , but to feel fresher coming out. I jumped in and started out right away instead of waiting like before. I found a good group and just stayed steady. I told myself “easy, steady, sight”. I stayed on feet for the majority and only had to bridge a gap once at about the 2 mile mark. Not bad at all. I told Mark if I swim faster than 1:15 I’ve spent too much. If I take longer than 1:18 I’ve used too much.

Swim Time: 1:16 – Sweet

T1 – Coming out of the water Alley was a stripper and I got to have her take my wet suit off then get in a giant smooch before I headed off. When I reached my bike (Jerry Lee) I grabbed the seat and felt a little give so I had to fish out my multi-tool and tighten up the seat. Added a bit to T1, but better safe than sorry.

Goal Bike Time: 6:30

2 minutes on the bike and I hear from behind me “Another training ride today huh?” It was Eric L., we’d done maybe 5 long weekend rides together and we were starting another! I was happy as hell to see him. I’d been telling myself seconds before “just another weekend training ride, nothing to be afraid of”. Eric’s a strong rider and I knew he’s be up the road soon enough, but it was great to start with him.

My goal was to make Richter Pass in 2 hours’ time, it’s too easy to overcook the first 40 miles, so it’s about being slow and steady. There’s a little kicker at about mile 35 and everyone around was huffing up and I was just talking out loud to myself to check my breathing. Steady, clear, controlled, no worries. Ed Wong found me on the approach to Richter and said I looked strong. I laughed a bit and told him. “Patience, it’s all about patience.”

Hit Richter at 1:57.  After that it was just looking at the Garmin for: Top of the hour,:15, :30, :45, top of the hour, for nutrition. After Richter I knew the work of the day would start. My thought has always been, ‘You have to work a bit to work less’, that was the case through the rollers. Small bursts in the right spots makes you do a lot less work.

 I hit Becks road,  which is the turn off to the out and back, I’ve suffered here plenty and this is where the wheels have come off the bike 2 of the last 3 times I’ve hit this part of the course. However, this time before entering I told myself ‘easy out, hurry back’, it’s a false flat on the way out. I didn’t stop at Special Needs, just grabbed my bag and kept rolling. Instead of getting beat down by the Out and Back I took and used the energy I got from seeing a bunch of teammates in this area. I saw Eric, Josh, Travis, Aimee, Derek, Joey, and Rebecca. When any doubt came to mind I quickly reminded myself that this was the 4th time this year of going over a 100 and that this was JUST an 85 mile bike ride up to this point.

 I felt energized and ready to take on Yellow Lake.

Hitting Yellow Lake with the light of the day fully changed to afternoon sun was really the first time I looked at my watch to see how long I’d been on the bike. Roughly 5 hours ~interesting.

I saw Paul and Vicki at the base of Yellow Lake and that was a great boost. I felt odd, plenty of energy, but a bit afraid to use it, so I ignored the urge to race up the last bit and held steady. Just before the last downhill I heard the person next to me blow a snot rocket and turned to see that it was Rebecca again. I yelled to her, ‘that sounds like a great idea’ and unloaded myself, side to side.

Just after this two things happened. The first was my stomach started to let me know that it was about to start revolting. That was expected I suppose. The 2nd was I got hit in the right eye by whatever blowing by. Seriously…on the last set of down hills…. with the wind and everything going on I totally lost my right contact. Crap! *Thinks a while while hitting 40 mph on the bike……. Oh well. Don’t panic, stay in this.

Hitting the team tent on the last miles of the bike was a huge relief, just seeing the familiar faces again and hearing the cheers. Seeing Alley again! As I hopped off the bike my first thought was, one full season without a mishap.

No accidents, falls or flats! ~ Amazing

That was quickly followed up by the realization that I forgot to take my feet out of the shoes before I stopped so I’d have to run through T2 with my bike shoes on.

I never looked or noticed my bike time until after the race when Mark told me what it was.

Bike Time: 6:09 – Unbelievable! Never limit your expectations of yourself!

T2 – Had to wash out my eye, took a bit longer than I wanted.

Run Goal Time: 4:30-just finish

My mantra for the run was ‘slow, slow, slow’ I HAD to keep 9:30-10 minute pace to make it to mile 8. Then I felt like I could go to 9:30-9:15 until mile 16 where I’d see what needed to happen. I had a handheld water bottle that I ran with. I was afraid of overheating on the run so my plan was to fill it with water and pour over myself to keep cool. It took 2 aid stations to get it down, but it was like clockwork after that: run to the last table at a station with the lid off and dump 3 water cups and one ice down and off I’d go. I’d pour over my head every 20 seconds and along neck and arms, roughly every 4 minutes I’d throw a shot down the shorts. Then the next aid station would pop up. Repeat.

 It was interesting, the body ticked right along at 9:35 pace. Kept looking at the Garmin and seeing 9:35, kept thinking, right where I want to be. The plan was coming together. I hit mile 4 and my stomach started to ache. Don’t think about it, just keep moving. Went through Gu’s as planned, miles 4, 8, 12, then I realized they only had Power Bar gels on course and not Gu’s like they said. Hmmm. Not a big deal…

I hit the turn around and mentally didn’t want to think that it was the halfway point. I just wanted to get in and get back out. I grabbed my special needs bag, which only had a pain relief patch and a little zip lock bag w/ 4 ibuprofen in it. Also, Alley had put a note in there for me so I grabbed that and figured I’d read it on the steeper part of the run that I knew I’d have to walk around mile 15 or so.

First up was getting out of the turn around, I headed up the hill and suddenly my head fell forward and my legs stopped. I grabbed for my knees, but it was too late and I ended up on my knees feeling like I was back in the swim. I couldn’t concentrate to answer the woman’s questions that had grabbed me and was talking from what sounded like 40 feet away. All I could think was how far away from the finish I was now. Her last question was ‘Do I know what day it was?’ and that made me laugh and I pushed away from her and started walking and told her, ‘ I’ve know what day it’s been for 2 years’, and walked off.

It was like sleep walking up and out of the turn around and at the top I started to run and all the clarity came back. Think it was a blood pressure thing. Pace – 9:35 back on track

I grabbed Alley’s note and read it at the base of the steep hill that I picked out at about mile 15-16. I made it through most of it and started to cry as I read the last sentence “bring it all together and come on back to town. YOU’VE GOT THIS THING!” I had the overwhelming urge to run and told myself “Let’s get the hell out of here and back to her” I picked back up and was running back at 9:15 pace and it felt comfortable.

At mile 18 my stomach started to really kick in revolt, the second I took in anything other than water it would explode with sharp pain. At 18 I looked for the Gu that was supposed to be on course and didn’t find any, all they had was Power Bar so I grabbed one and took half and it all came back up, yuck. I waited about a minute and tried again and the same thing, back up on to the road. Crap! OK, new plan, Perform, Grapes, Banana’s, water. Had to hold out for coke until mile 20.

I was running scared because I’ve hit the wall in marathons with little or no warning and at 20 I hadn’t had a GU since mile 12 and very little Perform because it just wouldn’t stay down. I had long conversation with friends, pictured the dogs running at the park, thought about hard training runs, and really thought about the work I was doing. Repeating to myself, ‘this is easy, this is all the work you’re doing, this isn’t hard.’ I was running at 9:30’s, but would force myself to walk for about 30-45 seconds each mile just to conserve energy.

Then at mile 20 I spit up the last Perform and water and knew the cracks were starting in the mental game. My hip started bugging me and I thought “What the hell am I doing here?” Saying that out loud was like flipping a switch. I told myself “You are fucking rocking it, that’s WHAT you’re doing!, You have the love and support of everyone that knows you! Get. Your. Ass. Moving!” From that point on I just knew if I could split the difference and made it to mile 23 I’d make it.

Pace 9:15

I saw the aid station at 22 and laughed out loud as I told myself “You’re a runner that’s been holding 9:30 ave. GO!” I looked at 7:35 on my Garmin, hit the next aid station and saw 8:15. I ran through Main St. where I totally broke down and cried last time because of totally different reasons. I could see the turn off to the left and I knew that Alley and the team would be right around the corner. The sheer joy of seeing them, I ran faster, 7:50 pace. I saw Mark 1st, then Teresa and Alley was a few steps pass them. HOME  - I felt nothing crossing the line, completely carried by the crowd.

Run Time: 4:46

Goal Finish Time: 12:45

Finish Time: 12:25:58

I’ve told people that the whole day goes by so fast. As long as it is you can’t hold on to any part of it long enough to really get that since of time passing. 2012 was an amazing experience, so many things came together. I wanted to be one of those teammates that said afterwards “Thanks Coach, I trusted my training and trusted our plan and it totally worked.” And I was so very lucky to be one of them.

Again I have to thank Alley for really making all of this possible. Without her love and support this would have always been a ‘Some day’ item on a list that would never see the light of day. Also, thanks to Lynn for making sure the Muttlys and Leia were taken care so both Alley and I could rest easy knowing that they were safe. And to my training Peeps at TN Multisports. Teresa, you and Mark have put together an amazing family of support that guides, pushes, and reveals everyone’s dreams and possibilities.

Thanks Coach, I trusted my training and trusted our plan and it totally worked.






Monday, July 16, 2012

When I think of Lake Stevens 70.3 I always think of 88+ temps and melting on the run course. Not so much this year. This was my 1st full triathlon in almost 2 years, not counting IMC in 2010. I was looking forward to seeing where my levels were at and really learning from this race. I was a bit injured from a half marathon trail run 2 weeks before and talked it over with my coach Mark that if anything felt off on the run I’d DNF and save the leg for the real goal of the year, Canada.

I knew my swim was stronger in the last month than it had been before and wanted to take it out at a steady pace from the start so I started at the far right and then worked my way over. Only 2X did I ever put in a hard effort, above 85% perceived effort, and felt calm and steady the whole time. About 4 minutes from the swim exit I started my run down of what was next.

1.       Pull Zipper

2.       Right sleeve OVER Garmin

3.       Left hand grabs goggles and cap

4.       Pull arms out of wetsuit leaving goggles/cap in arm sleeve

Hit shore and all went to plan.

Sweet! Looked at my watch and seen 35 minutes - Crazy! I felt like little or no real work had been done.

T1: I was held up by rethinking arm warmers at the last second and having to go back 3-4ft to grab and slip on before heading out.

I noticed after the excitement of T1 that the weather was getting worse not better. I had a plan for the bike course and it started w/ the 1st crappy climb at about mile 3. Take it EASY on the climbs! My mantra on the climbs was ‘My ave. is their max’ Over and over, I would use the saved energy for the flats and for the last 2 climbs of the day. By mile 10 the heavy mist turned to a steady rain and the temp felt like it dropped a bit. Keeping warm was going to screw w/ my bike plan in a major way.


From the training I remembered key spots to keep the speed up and more importantly where to slow down as to not overcook a turn. Around mile 18 was a S turn that I was ready for, got in position to take a clear line around to the right that lead into the next hard turn to the left. Easy. I touched the breaks and nothing. Once more with a bit more pressure. Nothing. By now I was into the turn and moving WAY too fast. I ended up on the shoulder across the street. WHAT! I had too much speed and should have ate it next to the 2 other cyclist laid out in the ditch, but somehow made it out upright. I kept thinking, ‘Pick a spot and hope it’s soft, you’re totally going down!’

After that I honestly lost my nerve on the bike. I didn’t push the down hills and I was hesitant on all sweeping turns from down hills. The rain stopped around mile 30 and I quickly realized that I didn’t have brakes in the rain, but quickly had them, as soon as it stopped raining. This just made for a stressful stressful day on the bike. I kept telling myself ride safe and just stick to your plan. Nutrition was spot on for the bike, never felt lacking of energy the whole time.

Approaching the last 13-16 miles of the bike, where all the hard hills start was where I started on the last part of my plan for the bike. On Ingraham Rd. I’d put in a hard near 90% effort, 190ft climb in just over a mile. Felt great, passed 16 people (cuz I was counting) and settled back in at a sustainable pace once at the top. Next was Trombley Rd. Same thing, passed a group and settled back in for what I knew was going to be the biggest time grab, 260ft over just a mile on 171st. A group of us, about 15, made the turn and the plan was to sit in after the turn, get a rhythm make a few people work hard long side of me then just take off with what feels good. I took off from the group and 3 seconds later saw Randy with his cowbell cheering out on course. He yelled something like ‘at least make it look tough’ and in my excitement of seeing him I upped my speed and was off. I love see peeps out on course, nothing like it!

I looked over my shoulder and the group was way off the back.

I started laughing out loud, not out of disrespect but because I stuck to my plan and, even though it had to be modified, it was working great and I felt great. From that point on I was bridging up to groups and working my way through my and off to the next group. My goal was a sub-3 hour bike, which I did 3:03, the time lost was from the brakes and riding cautious. That over hitting the deck I’ll take any day!

T2: Uneventful = Sweet

The run, I love Jerry Lee (my bike), but I just needed the bike to be over with. I could not wait to get on the run, time to hunt! Leaving T2 I was hit with the wave of screaming TN family and supporters! Love it! And got to see Alley finally, I was totally overjoyed!

I wanted to run to feel and not look at my Garmin. When I did finally I was trucking along at 7:15 pace just after mile 1. Slow down! Where’s the fire? So I stayed at 7:30 until about mile 3 and 7:11 was where I kept landing so I just stayed there.

Going by the team tent at mile 3.5 was what I waited all day for. The screams. The high fives. Family, friends, teammates there wanting to see you do your best, and caring for you when you can’t. Best thing ever! I hit the first climb and all felt great, saw some other TN peeps out there running strong and looking great. Saw T running and felt a great sense of pride seeing her running strong knowing a little about her road to recovery.

After the team tent around mile 8 the wheels started to grind to a halt, the knee was find it was my quads that started to cramp. New plan, new mantra: Hold 9:00 pace, ‘this is a recovery pace you can handle this’. Back through the team tent I couldn’t look over, I felt like if I lost concentration I’d fall over or just stop altogether. The last downhill was mentally tough, but I didn’t want to stop or break pace because that was exactly the training I needed for Ironman Canada. The pain is right here, talk with it as long as you keep pace, this will be over soon.

**Note that the pain was the common pain felt during any race. Any pain from the knee and I would of stopped and pulled out immediately.

I finished the run steady and was happy to be finishing at all, given the weeks of injury beforehand.



The bike was the biggest issue on the day -

1.       Loading the bike on the car the day before a noticed a bend spoke.
      2.       No brakes when it rained.
      3.       The seat lowered about .25” from the start(Race sticker was that far down the seat post)

The Run -

1.       Slow it down and stay at more sustainable pace from the start.

Over all -
       1.       Stick to your plan, even if sh*t goes south, adjust, regroup and get back on plan.

It was a great day and I had fun with all my teammates both the ones cheering and the ones out on course. Alley was amazing, as always, at keeping me focused before and safe after. I successful day like yesterday proves that all the hard work and hours spent apart from her and the pups make it worth it.

So as one of my TN peeps said yesterday: OK, in 6 weeks we do that twice!