Monday, December 26, 2011

Commitment...Beginning 2012

Midnight on Monday marked the kickoff to the 2012 triathlon season. My younger brother Josh joined me for "Midnight Madness" this year to help me get the season kicked off. After 5 weeks of eating like crap and exercising at a minimum it is time to turn this sorry state of a body back into a race ready machine. My goal in the 5 weeks off was to get into terrible shape. It sounds kind of funny huh? For 57 weeks I punished myself on a regular basis to get into the best shape of my life and then I flipped the switch to off-season with a goal of getting into terrible shape. I've always believed that improvement from one year to the next lies deeply in what you do in the off-season and the most important thing to do in the off-season is to get into bad shape so you can build the body back up systematically through the tearing down and repairing process of training. In order for the tear down and repair adaptations to take place at a greater level I think it is important to start with nothing. I am there right now. The numbers don't lie. The day before Ironman Arizona I did one of those blood pressure machines and my heart rate was 50. My blood pressure was 98/58 which was the lowest I can ever remember it being. The highest I ever got my heart rate during the most intense bike intervals all summer was 158 beats/minute. Last week my resting heart rate was 81, my blood pressure was 131/66, and I did some bike intervals last Tuesday night and my heart rate hit 179. My weight for the race was 155 lbs. and today I tipped the scales at 172 lbs. I am out of shape. Mission accomplished. Now the fun of getting back in shape begins. I always love this challenge and I'm confident the race results in the summer will be better because I allowed myself the time to repair itself of all the training and racing trauma suffered last year. Today as a nice wake-up call with a 5 mile run (my first run since Ironman), a 45 minute bike ride, core work, weight lifting (1st since Ironman), a 5,000 yard swim practice with our high school team, and push-ups and more core work this evening. I am sure to be sore this week but sorness is a sign of muscles being torn down which is what I want. When you begin to get over the sorness it's a sign of the body adapting to the workload that caused it to tear down.
I decided to read a book to help get me started in 2012. It is called The New Dynamics of Winning. The author is renown sports psychologist Denis Waitley. Last year I started my year by reading one of his many other books called The Psychology of Winning. I'm about 100 pages in and one of the topics that has stuck out to me revolved around "commitment". Commitment is not just about putting in training hours. It is about how my entire life revolves around my goals. I could train like crazy but continue to eat like I have the past 5 weeks and I'm certainly going to have a terrible year. I have always felt like I'm very committed to my triathlon goals. This year I'm hoping to reach a new level of commitment. My family will always come first and my job will follow. Outside of those two things I plan to be 100% commited to being the best triathlete I can be. It's a tough road to follow. My time is mostly taken by my family, job, and training. Beyond that it is difficult for me to have much of a social life when I am training hard for my goals. I've often debated this it worth it? Is it worth not being able to go out with friends on a Friday night because I don't want to face the pressures of drinking and eating like crap? I would say most people should not give up their social life for the sport of triathlon. It would be quite normal to do a workout with your buddies and then meet up with them afterwards for food and drinks. I can't do this however. Because I'm already spending so much time away from the family training I can't justify to myself spending more time away socializing. So there is the big it more important for me to be focused on triathlon in the way that I am or should I say enough is enough and go back to enjoying life outside of family, work, and training? I'm commited to at least 1 more year of finding out how good I can be in the sport. I guess that means I'll miss out on social events for one more year. I wish I had the talent to have it both ways but I simply don't. I knew guys in college that could go out 3 nights a week, eat like crap at every meal, and still perform well on Saturdays. I was not blessed with that set of genetics. If I want to be successful it means I have to be commited to the sport in other ways beyond training. When this journey is all finished maybe I'll look back and decide it wasn't worth the commitment...maybe not. I'm one of five male professional triathletes from the state of Iowa (6 after Adam Bohach gets his pro card). 3 of the 5 are married. I'm the only one with children. I'm also the only one who has a full-time job outside of triathlon (although Adam will be joining me in that feat). Being able to balance family, career, and triathon with success in all three is what Live Uncommon is about. We hope that busy moms, dads, students...etc. can all find the time to stay healthy and active. Between my family and career I don't have too much other time outside of training. I plan to be more commited than ever this year because I don't want to finish this journey with any regrets. In the book Waitley mentioned how legendary PGA golfer Lee Trevino said "commitment" to him meant not calling a day of practice until his hands were callused and blistered from taking so many swings. Commitment was staying out until dark hitting golf balls while his fellow PGA friends were in the clubhouse drinking beer. I know there aren't many things in life you get to be fully commited to...due to my situation the only way I can be fully commited to triathlon is to give up some other things I would enjoy. I made sure not to miss any of those opportunities over the last 5 weeks because I knew once the season started my commitment would be back to becoming the best triathlete I can be. I'm looking foward to climbing the ladder in 2012. Thanks for following. Make this year your healthiest ever! Challenge yourself to do something you never thought was possible. Be commited to your goals...DREAM BIG!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Offseason Update...Power of Positive Thinking

The offseason is slowly coming to a close. I have one more week before I begin training for the 2012 season. I'm pretty excited to begin. I have gotten myself in the worst shape I've been in for quite some time which is exactly what I planned. I had a long year in 2011. Adding Ironman Arizona meant my season lasted 57 weeks. I knew I was due for a long rest to let my body recover and adapt to a year of training. I'm a little afraid to face the scale next week but I'm also really excited to begin chipping away at the number I see as I prep for my best year yet. I've always been a believer in the importance of getting out of shape at the end of a year before trying to get in better shape the following year. I've done the out of shape part. I have only run 10 minutes over the past 4 weeks...1o minutes total. I have biked 4 times...just easy rides. I have swam about the same number of times with our high school kids. Following my race in Arizona I gave some thought about going back to amateur racing but I knew my heart was telling me to race professionally for one more year. I feel my best racing is yet to be reached and I really want to see if I can continue to move up in the pro race standings. Outside of my first pro race in San Juan I finished in the middle third of every pro race I entered except for Racine 70.3 when I finished just inside the top third with a 6th place finish amongst 18 pros. My schedule for 2012 will include 3 professional 1/2 Ironman races and one full Ironman. I've had more success at the 1/2 distance so that is where my focus will be. However, after missing the 9 hour mark by only 5 minutes I want to go back to Arizona with a single goal of breaking 9 hours. I loved the venue, the spectators, and the level of competition in Arizona. I do not have any big spring races so I'm not worried about beginning my training nearly 2 months later than I did a year ago. I want to be in great shape by early June and know that I have plenty of time to get there.
3 weeks ago Jen and I volunteered at the Turkey Trot 5 mile run in Davenport. The race fell with both of us on training breaks so we thought it would be a great chance for us to give back at a race. We brought both of our kids with us andour 3 year old daughter Payton asked us if there was a kids run she could do. The only option was a mile and I explained to her that a mile was twice as far as she had ever run so she could not do it. She emphatically insisted to me that she could run a mile but I thought it was a bad idea. Jen said we should let her try but I was convinced she would hate running by the time she was half way in and she would never want to run again. Jen won the argument of course and we signed Payton up for the 1 mile run. She was excited to know she would get some GU Chomps to help power her through the run...those are her favorite training snack! Payton shocked Jen and I by running the entire mile without stopping. I was reminded of the power that positive thinking has on athletic achievements. While she was running she kept saying, "I'm sure I can do this." It was quite comical listening to her say this while she was running...but the positive thoughts worked out well for her. She finished in 13:31 and mom and dad were both extremely proud that she convinced herself she could do the mile and then did it without walking. Afterwards she said, "That was easy." She keeps asking us to share her video with anyone who will watch. Unfortunately I didn't realize my ipod camera was sideways...I guess because the screen you look through adjusts automatically so I never knew I was filming her sideways. Thinking positive during a race can make a huge difference in the outcome. Next time I'm hurting at mile 20 of an Ironman I hope I can recall Payton's line..."I'm sure I can do this." I can't wait for midnight madness next Sunday night at 12:00 when the journey will resume. Have an awesome holiday season. DREAM BIG!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Swim Clinic for Triathletes

I just got word that my swim coach Stacey Zapolski is hosting a swim clinic for any interested triathletes this Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 at the Augustana College pool. I think this will be the 2nd or 3rd clinic they have had and I heard the clinic is growing rapidly more popular as these swimmers have spread the word about how much they are improving. I really like the format of the clinic. It is nearly the identical format that helped me improve a lot over the summer under Stacey's guidance. Stacey will watch the swimmers during the 1 hour and give technique feedback. She will let you know what areas of the stroke need work and what drills you can do to work on them. She will show drills for all the swimmers to work on. The clinic is held once a month. After the clinic it is up to you to go swimming and work on the drills and technique. The next month when you return Stacey will be able to judge improvement and give you something new to work on. This helped me tremendously this summer because she gave me one or two things to work on and helped me focus on those things for a few weeks before she would watch me again. For example, one of the first things she noticed about my stroke was that my left arm was entering the water too wide. Without having her watch me and point this out I never would have known. She gave me some drills to work on and I made that left arm my emphasis for the next 3 weeks until I saw her. When I saw her again she said it was much improved and then she let me know that my left hand was turning outward when it entered the water. This is a habit that has been tough for me to break. It really helps to have someone watching who knows what they are doing. I have never been a great swimmer and I have a LONG way to go but I made good progress this summer under her guidance. All the races I did this summer that I had previously raced I had my best swim rankings in this year. I had 2 races this summer when I had the fastest swim split. One of them had 130 people. That was a huge breakthrough and accomplishment for me and one I don't believe would have happened had I not had Stacey coaching me. What's great about this format is that it isn't terribly time consuming because I'm able to get stroke feedback and then go work on things on my own schedule. The cost is $30.00 for each monthly session. If you are brand new to swimming and have no idea what kind of workouts to do I'm sure Stacey would be able to give you some great ideas as well. I'll be there on Sunday...I hope to see you there as well! Let me know if you have any questions and I can send you Stacey's e-mail or possibly answer them myself. DREAM BIG!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Xterra Wetsuits Discount Code SA-JEFFP

So after last week's post I decided to do some of my own research to see how Xterra's return policy compares to other wetsuit companies. Xterra claims the best return policy in the industry. Why is this important? Wetsuit sizing is extremely important to getting the most out of the wetsuit. You want to get a suit that fits well. If it is too big it will fill with water and that will slow you down. If you get one that is too small it will be much more restrictive and will make you feel tired. It is difficult to know without swimming in the suit. It's tough to tell if the suit will fill with lots of water or if you will be quickly tired due to a restrictive suit. Here is what I found out. All this information was taken from the websites of the manufacturer website or in the case of the retailers listed from their websites.
Xterra Wetsuit return policy- Xterra will allow returns for full refunds or size exchanges within 30 days of the purchase. They encourage buyers to swim in the suit. They will accept it back for a full refund or exchange after it has been used in open water. They even suggest that buyers in cold weather states use it once for a short period of time in a pool if the weather is too cold to try in open water.
2XU- Will accept returns only on new, unopened merchandise within 30 days. You open keep it.
TYR- Wetsuits may be returned only for exchange. They do not give refunds. Suits that have been used or gently worn will not be accepted as returns. No exceptions.
Zoot Sports- All items have a 30 day money back guarantee. All items returned must be new and unused with tags still attached.
Blueseventy- Will accept returns as long as the item is new and has only been tried on for sizing purposes. The tags must be attached to return. All wetsuits returned are subject to a 20% restocking fee which will mean you are out $60.00-$150.00 depending which suit is purchased.
Orca- Will accept returns within 14 days of purchase. The wetsuits must be new with tags still attached.
DeSoto- Allows returns on wetsuits that have been used. Returns must be made within 14 days of the day purchased.
Aquasphere- Will accept returns for 30 days on new, unopened items. You open it, you keep it.
Retailers Accepts returns on new, unused merchandise with orginal tags attached within 60 days of purchase. Accepts returns after "one free swim". Allows returns for 30 days after purchase on all new items with tags still attached. Allows returns on new merchandise for 30 days. Tags must still be attached. Accepts returns on all new items with tags still attached for 30 days. If you send back without tags they will return to you and charge you the return shipping. Accepts returns on all new items with tags attached within 30 days. A 15% restocking fee applies on returns.

As you can see from this list Xterra has the best wetsuit return policy in the market. 2nd best vote goes to DeSoto. The only downside to DeSoto is that the returns have to be received by them within 14 days of when the suit was purchased. That reduces the window of how long you have to try the suit because the 14 days does not include the time it takes to get the wetsuit to you and for you to send it back. The best retailer is because they at least allow 1 swim in the wetsuit. It was a little unclear to me on their website whether or not the return is only accepted for an exchange or if you are allowed to get a refund. The worst vote goes to Blueseventy because not only do they not allow you to return a suit you have swam in...they will charge a 20% restocking fee! The worst retailer is who is similar to Blueseventy except their restocking fee is slightly less at 15%. This information makes me even more proud to represent a company like Xterra Wetsuits. If you want to get the best price available...even better than their sale prices use discount code SA-JEFFP.  You may use this discount code if you are a follower of this blog, friend, or family member. Right now they are running a special and I thought it was going to end Sunday. They lower our discount code price to beat their existing specials. I tried the code today and the special was still in effect. The Vortex Full Suit (400.00 retail) can be purchased for 149.00. The Vector Pro Full Suit ($600.00 retail) can be purchased for $223.50 with the code. I've had some questions about which suit people should go with. If you are training for a sprint or Olympic distance race I would say the Vortex Full Suit is sufficient. If you are training for something longer than Olympic distance I would recommend the Vector Pro. The biggest advantage of the Vector Pro is that the arms are made of 6 different pieces of material. What that means is that the arms are going to be much more flexible than a lower priced wetsuit that is typically made using 3-4 pieces of material. This will make a difference in a longer swim because your arms will not tire as quickly if the wetsuit is more flexible. The other difference I noticed is that the Vortex 3 is made with a material that is a little slippier through the water. There is also a spot on the arm that the Vortex 3 has to help with the catch of the water. It is a rigid spot that is supposed to catch more water than the lower priced suits that do not have that catch spot. You can see that spot if you check out the photos on the Xterra website at If you find one you like and you are a friend, family member, or follower of this blog use discount code SA-JEFFP.

As for my own training I'm finished with my 2 week vacation. I did zero training, ate whatever I wanted, and gained some weight. I'm still not ready to resume regular training but for the next 3 weeks I enter a phase I call "exercise phase". I will begin eating better than during "vacation phase", and I will also be working out but not hard-core. I'm not tracking my workouts. I'm swimming with our high school kids, running with friends, getting on the trainer to ride during Iowa games...etc. I'm working out without specific weekly goals. Hopefully my weight gain will come to a halt during "exercise phase." I'm getting a schedule and goals laid out. I'll write more about my training and what my plans are next week. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Xterra Wetsuits...Christmas is coming!

I'm thrilled to continue my partnership with Xterra Wetsuits in 2012! I had the opportunity a couple years ago to partner with a different company but I opted not to because the lowest price wetsuit the company carried was nearly $300.00. It wasn't that I was looking for something less expensive but it had more to do with my own beliefs about helping the sport of triathlon grow. Triathlon is a sport that helps people who get into it to live a healthy lifestyle. While training for a triathlon people exercise regularly, set goals, lose weight, and feel like they can accomplish anything. I hate hearing from people that they don't want to give the sport a try because of the costs associated with it. This is why I love Xterra Wetsuits! They provide top-notch wetsuits at the world's best prices. Many of you are probably wondering how they can beat competitors price by so much without sacrificing quality. It is a pretty simple concept that I teach to my 8th grade social studies class in a lesson on economics. Xterra Wetsuits sells directly to the customers. You won't find their westuits in stores. By sending suits to retailers, known as the "middle man" the other companies in the wetsuit industry have a huge markup fee. If you are looking at other companies compare the material with Xterra and also the thickness of the suit. In the spirit of cyber week Xterra is currently offering 60% off retail on the Vortex Full wetsuit (regularly price at $400.00) and on the Vector Pro westuit (regularly price at $600.00). I contacted them today and was informed that if you use my discount code SA-JEFFP you save even a little bit more than their current super sale price.  That code is for fiends, family members, and followers of this blog. If you are debating a wetsuit for 2012 I encourage you to go to their website at and compare their suits to the other ones you are looking at. Both of those suits are full. Some people believe that full-suits are more restrictive and cause their shoulders to feel tired faster. There is no debate that full-suits are faster than sleeveless. It is true that your first couple times in a full-suit your shoulders will get more of a workout than you are used to without a suit on. What I have found is that by swimming in my wetsuit a few times in open water before races breaks in the shoulders and I don't notice any difference in how my shoulders are worked come race day. One more thing that separates Xterra from the rest...the return policy. Xterra has the best in the business. Most tell you once you have tried on the westuit you can no longer return it. If you have swam in it then it's a guarantee they won't return it. Not Xterra. They encourage you to swim in it to make sure the size is comfortable. If you decide you want your money back or a different size you just ship to them and they will either refund your money or send you a new size at no additional shipping charge. That's incredible. On top of that, they have a 2 year warranty on their wetsuits covering anything except damage caused by the owner. If you have any questions regarding wetsuits don't hesitate to ask me. If you find another company offering a better price on a similar quality wetsuit let me know and I'll contact Xterra to make them aware...I'm confident you won't find one. The customer service you will get from Xterra is incredible. Check them out on facebook for more information. I know swimming is not my strength but swimming in the Xterra Vendetta in 2011 was my best yet. I had 2 races where I had the fastest overall swim. In every race I did this year that I had done in the past my swim ranking was higher this year. I believe in Xterra because they allow people who are on the fence about triathlons to buy a wetsuit without breaking the bank. If you are thinking about a wetsuit for Christmas...think Xterra. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ironman Arizona Race Report and Results

It's tough to put an Ironman into words on a blog. I think for this very reason I may only do 1 of them next year. I'll start from the beginning of the trip...

Thursday- Jen and I got to the Moline Airport where my awesome parents were waiting to take the kids from us so we could be on our way. I rolled up to the checkin counter of Allegiant Air and the 15 year old looking kid said, "I think you will have to pay extra for the bike." I explained to him that last time I few Allegiant they only charged me for checked bag since I had so carefully packed this bike into a small case. He asked his boss who told him it only should be charged as a checked bag. I thought that would be the end of the debate but then he told me he was going to look it up. I couldn't believe it...why was this kid questioning his boss?? He was trying to find it but couldn't and one of the other workers told him to let it go. SCORE!!!! $25.00 to ship a bike! Flight landed in Mesa, AZ at 10:30 and we got our rental car. The guy behind the counter laughed when I told him I was going to get my bike case into the economy sized car I had reserved. He told me for $10.00 more a day he could get me a bigger car. We took our chances and it fit no problem.
Friday- Friday we left the hotel at 9:30 and made our way to the race site. I picked up my packet and then went to the pro meeting at 12:30. As expected the meeting was packed. They told us this was the biggest pro field in any race outside the world championship this year. I was pretty excited about that since I wasn't really going into this race with a goal of placing high as much as I was with a goal of racing fast. I thought the bigger field would help me get out of the water with other riders and lead to a faster ride. At the meeting they go over the course and the rules. They are all pretty similar. One of the female pros, Lindsey Corbin, asked all of us to wear a pink bracelet in honor of Sally Meyerhoff, an elite runner turned triathlete who was killed last March while riding her bike. I had heard about Sally because she was a GU athlete and seemed like a tremendous person as well as athlete. Friday night Jen and I attended the Ironman pre-race banquet. We were fortunate enough that one of the Ironman officials gave us a wristband for Jen to get in when we approached him about why athletes have to pay $30.00 for a spouse to attend the dinner. This is one of my biggest complaints about Ironman. They are a profitable company...a HUGE one at that. They do some incredible things but charging family members $30.00 to attend a pre-race dinner or post-race awards banquet is certainly not one of them. I feel it would be fair to give athletes and 1 guest complimentary passes to these things. The races cost well over $600.00 now. Family members make great sacrifices so their loved ones can train for and make an Ironman only seems right to me those same family members should get into the banquets without paying an absurd amount. The dinner was nice and the show that Mike Reilly (voice of Ironman) put on was a good one. He kept us entertained but I still stand by the fact they should not charge an outrageous amount for a family member to attend. At the banquet we found out the oldest athlete who would be competing was a 74 year old gentleman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa so that was pretty cool (Jen and I would later watch him finish on Sunday night). They also had the youngest competitor on stage who was an 18 year old girl that was racing to honor her high school basketball coach who was recently diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Saturday- Saturday was pretty uneventful. I checked in my bike and then dropped off my bike and run gear bags in transition. I also spent some time packing my special needs bags. I opted to go light on them. For my bike special needs bag I put one bottle of GU Ironman brew in the bag. That bottle has about 850 calories in it. For my run special needs bag I went only with a bottle of Red Bull. I was asleep by 8:30 anxiously awaiting the 4:00 wakeup call.

Sunday-Sunday was race day. I slept well. I was not nearly as nervous for this race as some of the other races I did this year. I was very confident in my fitness and knew I was going to shatter my IM Wisonsin time which was my big goal for the race. I got a good warm up in before the race and put on the Xterra Vendetta wetsuit for the last time this year. All the pros entered the water at 6:40 a.m. so we had 10 minutes to warm up. The water was cool at 61 degrees but that is the kind of temperature I love swimming in. It did not feel cold at all. I lined myself up in the middle of a pack of female athletes thinking my chances of finding someone to draft off would be better in the female pack than the male pack. At 6:50 the cannon fired and we were off! I wanted to swim conservatively and in hindsight I wish I had not done this. It was still pretty dark when we began the swim and it was not long before I lost contact with the main group. In fact, it wasn't long before I felt like I was swimming on my own behind nearly everyone else...males and females. The swim course was one big loop. We started at one bridg and swam down to a different bridge. I got to the bridge thinking we were turning around but the swim actually went a few hundred yards past the bridge. There was only one guy around me and when we hit the turn I was on the inside and I didn't see him again until late in the swim although I could feel him on my feet most of the way. I could see one other female pro ahead of me by about 25 yards but I could never close the gap on her. I felt like my form was getting sloppy on the way back in and with about 500 yards left the first amateurs passed me. They started 10 minutes after me and I was hoping to get in before they caught me but due to my error in starting out too slow I never swam fast enough. I wish now I would have just swam really hard and tried to stay with more of the group for longer. I feel like my swimming is pretty good right now but this swim didn't show it. I was out of the water in 1 hr. 3 minutes and we one of the last guys out. I got out in the exact same time as the guy who swam on my feet on the way back in.

I felt great as I made my way through transition. My legs and breathing were both good. I had a solid transition and passed the guy I got out of the water with and the female pro who got out ahead of me.

BIKE: The first 1/4 mile of the bike getting out of the park was a no pass zone but once we got out on the main roads I started pushing the pace hard. I had saved my Peanut Butter GU for this race and I took my first one early in the bike. Peanut Butter is my new favorite flavor of GU. It was awesome. The bike course is 3 loops with the way out going slightly uphill and the way back slightly downhill. The climb out to the turnaround is so gradual it is hardly noticable. We had a headwind going out. The toughest part of the entire bike ride was in the first 18 miles. My legs were not used to going at this effort for very long since I haven't raced in a couple months. After the first 18 miles when we made the turn to come back my legs felt great for the rest of the ride. Immediately after turning my speed went way up because now we were going down the gradual decline plus we had the wind at our backs. I was up over 30 mph for the first 5 miles or so on the way back. I saw my time at the first loop and it was about 2.5 minutes faster than I hoped to average...this was a great start. I felt really strong on the 2nd loop again going into the wind on the way out and having the wind at my back returning. I grabbed my special needs bag which had my 2nd bottle of Ironman GU brew and also a bottle of coke. Those were awesome! The problem with the coke is that it was still semi-frozen from sitting in our freezer all night. When I opened it I got a coke shower! The bottle was about to explode and when I took the cap off it did just that. I dumped as much as I could into my aero drink and the coke really helped keep me strong the next 20 miles or so. I went through lap 2 about 6 minutes under my goal pace for the bike and I was feeling better than when I started the ride. I began pushing harder on lap 3 and was going faster on the way out than I had on either of my first 2 laps. I was pretty exited about this but realized why when I hit the turn. The wind has shifted and instead of blowing out of the west it was now blowing straight out of the south. We would have a headwind on the way home. This was a huge disappointment because I had been looking forward to the "free ride" back home the final 18 miles. I had to work hard as the wind was definitely picking up as the day went on. I saw a lot of amateurs a lap behind me riding wheel to wheel as I went by them. I had passed only a few guys during the ride and a bunch of the female pros. I knew it would be a tough ride for me because I was all alone the entire that I mean I never had the benefit of riding with a pack like most of the pros. I'm the only one to blame for this because I can't swim. When they would go by me riding the other way they were in groups of 4-6 riders. They were all at legal distances which is smart riding. Staggering 10 meters behind the rider in front of you is a big help mentally and physically especially if the size of the group grows. I would not have this option beause all the guys faster than me on the bike already started it ahead of me due to my slow swim. I finished the bike in a time of 4 hrs. 46 minutes. I was really excited about being able to ride that time solo. It was 4 minutes faster than my goal time and 31 minutes faster than my time at Ironman Wisconsin. It also proved to me that I can get in great training indoors. I had not done an outdoor ride in the 4 weeks leading up to the race. I had great confidence that by using my Powerbeam Pro trainer I could be in great bike shape. I did a lot of interval work at high wattage levels to prepare for this Ironman. My back was never tight during the race which was my only fear of riding indoors so much.

RUN: I had a great transition to the run. I put on my racing flats after changing socks since my bike pair got wet a couple times while going to the bathroom on the bike. I grabbed my GPS watch and headed out feeling great. The GPS took a bit of time to locate the satellites while I was running. At about 3/4 mile into the run it came on and I was running sub-6 minute mile pace! I couldn't believe it. It felt too easy. My big problem was that my stomach was about to explode and I needed to find a bathroom quickly. At the 2 mile aid station I pulled my jersey down and rushed into the portapotty to relieve my stomach. When I got out I looked at the watch and saw my average pace was 6:45 and that included the stop. I was stoked. I knew if I could average 7:00/mile I would break 9 hours which was my ultimate goal. I was running about 6:00 pace and it felt easy. I had to decide if I would back off to 7:00 pace and hope to maintain that throughout or if I should continue on at my pace hoping to build a cushion incase I exploded later. I chose to go big. I was beginning to pass some of the guys in front of me and I felt like I was gliding. When I saw Jen she was excited about how much ground I was making on guys in front of me and I said, "I can run this pace all day." That became my mental phrase for the next 10 miles. When I would pass by spectators I would say, "all day"...mentally firing myself up...forcing myself to believe I could actually hold this pace. By mile 12 reality was setting in and my pace was slowing considerably. By the 13.1 halfway point my average pace had increased to 6:25/mile. I knew that meant I could average 7:35/mile on the back half of the marathon. I was hoping to stay around 7:00 pace for awhile to continue building that cushion but things started going downhill fast. By mile 18 I was to 6:45 pace average. By mile 20 I was at 6:50 average. I remember thinking I could run 8:00 pace the last 6 miles and still break 9 hours. The last 6 miles were pure mysery. Some of the guys (and even girls) I had passed began to pass me back. I kept telling myself to dig be willing to suffer more than I ever have. The will to break 9 hours was there but physically my body was not allowing it. The last 6 miles are a bit of a blur. I thought the 2nd place female didn't pass me until 2 miles to go but Jen said it was closer to 5 miles to go. I remember going up the only hill on the course and it took everything I had not to walk. My pace up the hill was over 10:00/mile. I would have to finish this marathon in some extreme pain. I realized with 2 miles to go there was no way I was going to break 9 hours. I gutted it out to the finish line and crossed in 9 hrs. 5 minutes. Despite not breaking 9 hours I was still thrilled. It was 1 hr. 1 minute faster than my time in Madison and it is a time I can be satisfied with if it's the last Ironman I ever do. I ended up 32 of the 55 guys who started the pro race. I think I was 39th overall counting the 3 female pros and 4 amateurs who beat me. I lost about 9 spots in the last 5 miles of suffering. The feeling of crossing the line knowing I had achieved what I set out to was awesome. I have to give thanks to Jen for allowing me the chance to get in one more race this year. I knew there were some people who thought my decision to start my 3rd Ironman of the year was a bad one. I never doubted it would be my best. I'm so glad I decided to race one more. At the finish line 2010 Ironman World champion Mirinda Carfrae was kind enough to take a picture with me. Jen and I returned Sunday night to watch finishers cross the line for the final 90 minutes of the race before the midnight cutoff. It was in this 90 minutes when I saw who the real warriors of this race distance are. These people were out on the course for 16 and 17 hours. As tough as the day gets mentally for 9 hours I can't even imagine what it is like for 16 and 17 hours. We witnessed people finishing with prosthetic legs and arms, we saw the 74 year old from Cedar Rapids finish. We saw 3 guys finish carrying a fellow competitor they befriended out on the course. We saw a woman finish with her head bandaged probably from falling on the concrete in the darkness of the run course. It was incredible seeing how many spectators hung around until it was all over. I'm glad I went back to watch the finish. It's something I won't forget. Jen and I hung out in Arizona on Monday before heading back. The bike fee was still only $25.00 on the return trip as well. Now it's time for a month break from training. It's time to get out of shape. I'm a firm believer that to get in better shape one has to first get out of shape to allow for the big adaptation from a year of training to set in. I started this past year 57 weeks ago and I was so blessed to be healthy through it all. I'm so thankful to have sponsors like Healthy Habits who always have my bike ready to race. I'm thanful to have Kaminski Pain and Performance Care and Laurel Darren to keep my body ready to race and recover. I'm blessed to have companies like Kiwami Triathlon Wear, Xterra Wetsuits, Zipp, and GU Energy who provide me with the tools I need to race successfully. I'm also so thankful to Russell Constrution for helping me make these races financially possible. Jim and Michelle Russell have also put a lot of money into the non-profit campaign called "Live Uncommon" which aims to get people healthy and active. It's been awesome watching Live Uncommon grow and inspire people to live healthy. I'm thrilled to be part of it. Check out the website to see how you can inspire people in your community to be healthy. In the next few weeks I'll decide whether I want to continue racing professionally or go back to amateur racing. I'll also set a race schedule for next year. I'm so thankful for all the nice comments on the blog and all the well-wishes I received through phone calls, texts, facebook messages, and e-mails. I was not out on the course alone. I knew people were following and I thought of that often as I was struggling. You got me through to the end with a HUGE PR. For that I cannot thank you enough. I only hope I can inspire you to DREAM BIG as much as you have inspired me to do the same. Lastly I must give thanks to my tremendously supportive wife Jen who allows me to do this. Without her love and support I don't even want to imagine how out of shape I would still be...and how much I would weigh. THANKS!! DREAM BIG!

Monday, November 21, 2011

IM Arizona

Quick post from the hotel in Arizona as we get ready to depart back to Iowa tomorrow. I was thrilled with the race. Despite being one of the last few guys out of the water and riding the entire 112 mile bike course on my own without being passed and not having the benefit of being in a group like I hoped I still had a solid ride of 4:46. I knew getting off the bike I needed to average 7:00/mile to break 9 hrs. which was kind of an ultimate goal. I went out after it averaging 6:15/mile through mile 10 including a stop at the portapotty to relieve my upset stomach. I suffered badly the last 5 miles and fell off the pace finishing in 9 hrs. 5 minutes. It was 32nd of the 55 pros that started. I'll put up a detailed report later this week when it all sinks in. I'm thrilled I made the decision to put in the work over the past 8 weeks and come to Arizona to do this race. I was overwhelmed with support through the blog, facebook messages, e-mails, and phone calls. Those got me through when the race got really tough on the 2nd half of the run. Thanks so much! DREAM BIG!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ironman Arizona Tracking Info

If you are bored on Sunday and want to know how my race is going this looks to be the best tracking coverage Ironman has had for a pro race yet. For the first time outside of the world championship the pro race will have athletes wearing a GPS device for real-time tracking. You can find the tracking at From that site you will click my name and then it shows you a map. From the map you will have to select the "pro" category and then check my name and any other athletes you want to see. There are a bunch of different options for what kind of map you get to see and how much you can zoom in. You can see quite a bit of information regarding speed, pace, elevation...etc. Only about 60 of the 100 pro men and women decieded to use the tracking devices so the place won't be accurate using this tracking. If you see the tracker stop moving for me hopefully it is because I went out of network coverage...the tracking network works the same as a cell phone network. From what I understand this shouldn't happen during the event. I will turn the unit on in the morning but then start wearing it after the swim. If you want to see places and such you'll have to go to They have their own tracking but it only updates when you cross over a timing mat which they place in various locations around the course. If you click on my name it will tell the most updated mat I've gone through. To watch the finish you can go to and they televise the entire race on the internet. I would guess I'll be finishing between 4:50 and 5:20 pm central time but if I have the best or worst race of my life that may not be accurate so the best way to know would be to see from the GPS site where I'm at and how far I have to go if you want to have a better idea. Thanks for will keep me going. Both Jen and I are excited for what the day will bring. DREAM BIG!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Challenge Looms...Ironman Arizona

It is rare for a training plan to go perfectly. The past 7 weeks have gone exactly that way for me. I thought my last race of the year was going to be at Ironman Wisconsin on September 11th. Within a couple days of finishing that race I had the urge to race again. What I didn't know if my body would allow me to be able to continue the 2011 season. I took 2 weeks off completely and then began a "trial" week of training where I would determine how my body felt after a week of regular training. I extended my "trial" a 2nd week and it was during that week I realized I was really starting to feel fit again and had the urge to race one more time before closing the chapter on 2011. I couldn't be more thrilled with my decision. I set up a 7 week training plan with a goal of getting leaner for this race than I've ever been for a triathlon. I have done exactly that. Through the 7 weeks I hit every single training goal I set for myself. I use a weekly checklist of goals to guide my training. I check them off as I go through each week. There wasn't a single goal through 7 weeks that was left unchecked. I lifted weights twice every week. I did speed drills, strides, lunges, jumped rope, and did push-ups all three times each week. I did plyometrics twice every week. I met my mileage goals running and biking every week. I surpassed my swim yardage goal every week. I surpassed my core work goal every week. This work has left me feeling more fit and confident than I've ever been going into a race.

About a month ago I read a column from a triathlon coach who said his number one predictor of peak performance in his athletes is to look at their training volume in the 6 weeks leading into a race. His theory was that the best races almost always come at the end of the highest six week averages. This is one reason the coach encourages his athletes to race less and train more. A race typically requires athletes to back down in training before and after the event thus reducing the training volume for a decent period of time. With this theory in mind I compared my 6 week training totals leading up to Ironman Wisconsin with this build up to Ironman Arizona. I used the periods from 7 weeks before the race up to 1 week before the race. Before IM Wisconsin I was having some problems with my hamstrings which caused me to back off sooner than I would have liked and more than I would have liked. I didn't realize how low my volume was until comparing it with my Arizona prep. In the 6 weeks leading up to Madison I averaged 144 miles/week on the bike. Over the past 6 weeks I averaged 200 miles/week. For the swim I averaged 11,000 yards/week leading up to Madison. For this race I made swimming a much higher priority and averaged 17,700 yards/week. This was my highest 6 week average of the entire year far and away. For running I really cut back before Madison and averaged only 29 miles/week in the 6 week block. For this race I have averaged 57 miles/week. Adding this all up and knowing I'm 9 lbs. lighter than when I toed the line in Madison makes me really excited to race. I'm going into this race not worrying about who else is in the race. My goal for signing up was to cut a big chunk of time off my 10 hr. 6 minute PR from Ironman Wisconsin. I'll be racing the "Madison Jeff" when I'm in Arizona. I believe I can shatter my PR. I swam 1 hr. 2 minutes. I think I will be faster than that in Arizona but it certainly isn't the game breaker. I'll save much more time on the bike and run. I biked 5 hrs. 17 minutes in Madison. In Arizona I expect to be under 5 hrs. The run is where I will save the most time. I ran 3 hrs. 40 minutes. I would guess I spent nearly 20 minutes stopped at aid stations trying to find the right ingredients to get rid of my cramping. I hope to run under 3 hrs. 10 minutes. What will it take for this race to be a success? If I dropped 30 minutes off my PR the trip would be worth it. I think I'm capable of much more than that but I found out in Wisconsin just how tough the day can get. I hydrating every day this week with GU Electrolyte tablets in an effort to minimize the cramping that plagued me early in the race in Wisconsin. I'm also going to try to swim with less effort. I was already cramping out of the water in Wisconsin. I don't care near as much about my place out of the water as I do about how I feel getting out. The same goes for the bike ride. I'm really not concerned about my time as much as how I feel getting off the bike. I want to make sure I can actually run the marathon this time around. Regardless of how the race goes I'm glad I signed up for this one. It has allowed me to get into the best shape of my life which is really what all the training for this sport is all about. I didn't know if it would be possible to get into this kind of shape while working a full-time job and being a father to two awesome kids and a husband to Super Mom but I found a way to get the work done. Whether it was through riding my bike in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep or getting up early in the morning to sneak in some extra all worked out better than I could have imagined. Now it's time to execute the race. Jen and I fly out on Thursday this week. We will spend an extra day in AZ after the race. One thing I'm really excited about is going back to the finish line in the last couple hours of the race to cheer on the final finishers. It's something I've missed in my first couple attempts at Ironman. I won't miss it this time. I saw Dr. Kaminski today to make sure my body is tuned up and ready to go. I'll get my pre-race massage from Laurel Darren on Wednesday. If you are bored on Sunday and want to check in on my progress you can go to and there should be a link to athlete tracking. For this race all the pros are going to be wearing GPS tracking devices. I think the Ironman page will have a link to this info but if not go to From what I understand we will put the GPS unit on when we get out of the water and it will tell viewers our current speed, average speed, where we are on the map...and a bunch of other cool data. Knowing that people can see my speed will give me some incentive to keep going when things get tough. I already had my first "Ironman Nightmare" last night. In my dream I was trying to get through the first few turns in town to get to the main road on the bike that begins the 3 loop course and I could barely move. I was getting passed by everyone. I'm not sure why I always have these crazy dreams but I'm not letting that affect my self-confidence. I'm ready for my best one ever. I can't wait for the cannon to fire. Thanks for reading and thanks for all the prayers on Sunday. The forecast looks incredible right now and being on a fast course it should be a perfect day to race fast which is pretty much my only goal. There is a huge pro field of over 60 guys and 40 gals on the start list so that should ensure that I have people around me. I've learned in my first year of pro racing the toughest part is that the race can get aweful lonely. It was easier to be motivated to race for the overall amateur title than it has been to race for 20th in the pro race. I'm past that now and will only be looking to beat "Madison Jeff". DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to run 18 miles at sub-4 mile pace...

I was excited all week for my Sunday long run. It happens that Sunday is one of my favorite holidays of the year...Daylight Savings Time in the fall. The one in the spring sucks! I thought if I didn't have an Ironman in 2 weeks I would try to break the world record for the marathon. Since the plan called for an 18 mile long run I knew it was my chance to have the fastest pace for a run I've ever had. I left my car at 9:38 a.m. I went out 9 miles with and turned around. At the turnaround I set my clock back for daylight savings time. When I returned to my car after 18 miles it was 10:40 which means I covered 18 miles in 1 hr. 2 minutes...good enough for a 3 min. 26 second pace for the run. Although I wasn't able to set the world record for the marathon I was able to average under the world record for the mile over the course of 18 miles. I did the middle third of the run at tempo pace so that probably helped. Now I'm sure some of you are thinking that there is supposed to be some technical time when the clocks get set back but I've always operated by the theory that if you get the clock set back by noon you are okay since that's when the football games kick off here in the Central time zone.
Although the record pace run was the highlight of the week I had many other great workouts this week. It was designed to be my highest volume week in the build-up to Ironman Arizona. So far through 6 weeks I've stuck to this plan 100%. For the week my total training time was 29 hours. I ran 66 miles, biked 220 miles, and swam 21,300 yards. I knew the swim total was up there with my highest week of the year and after flipping through my training log I realized it was my highest week of the year. I'm really excited about this race because of how consistent the training has been. I've been 100% healthy, I have my weight down lower than I've ever raced a triathlon, and I'm recovering from workouts extremely fast which is a sign of how fit I am right now. Over the past 5 weeks I'm averaging 17,800 yds/week swimming which is almost double what I was doing last school year. My run average has been 59 miles and my bike average has been 209 miles. I've gotten a tempo run and interval running workout as well as 2-3 hard bike workouts every week. I've gotten a long ride and long run every week. My only worry is that most of my bike mileage has been done on the trainer and I wonder if that will affect my lower back during the race because I don't ride in the aero position throughout all the indoor riding. I have played with my position and have what I feel is a very comfortable, powerful, and aerodynamic position. Through 6 weeks I have been able to check off every box in my weekly goal checklist that includes all the small things like core work, weight lifting, running drills, strides, push-ups, jump rope, plyometrics, and mileage/yardage goals. I had a huge weekend of training. Saturday morning I began with a 4 hour trainer ride with 5 minutes at Ironman goal wattage beginning every 15 minutes. In the first hour I was at 230 watts, 240 in the 2nd hour, 250 in the 3rd hour, and 260 in the 4th hour. During the ride I watched the live streaming of Ironman Florida. It was awesome later in the evening to watch local triathletes Johnathan Schmidt and John Pfautz finish with PR's! Immediately after the 4 hour ride I ran 7 miles at a very comfortable pace that ended up being 6:40. I then did a 4,000 yard swim workout and later in the evening got back on the bike for 90 minutes and then did another 2 mile brick run. Sunday morning with slightly tired legs I did the 18 mile run and then swam 3,000 yards and rode the bike 90 minutes. I definitely will not lose weight this week because I was so hungry after the last workout I ate about 5x more than I normally do on Sunday night before "weigh day". This week Halloween came and went and for the first time since 1980 I did not have any candy at all. I'm guessing every year since 1981 when I was a 1 year old I have had candy every year around Halloween. This year I stayed away and it wasn't even that difficult because I'm commited to going into this race with 8 straight weeks of no junk in my diet. Instead of candy I substitute a Zone Perfection bar which is low in fat but high in protein. This coming week I will drop the volume down but focus on getting some really high quality workouts in. I will begin to cut back a bit next weekend to prepare my body to be rested in 2 weeks when the cannon fires. I'm so glad I signed up for this race. I think about it every day and it drives me to eat healthy and work hard. I really believe every day I've gotten better through the training I've done. Some days getting better means training less, and some days getting better means stripping myself to the core like Saturday when the training time was about 8 hours. Next week I'll post the details of the race tracking and coverage. I'll be wearing a GPS chip for athlete tracking so you can see where I'm at and what my pace is at all times after getting out of the water. My plan right now is to swim relaxed and try to catch a good group to hang with, ride conservatively around 4 hrs. 50 minutes, and be really fresh for the run. My running is better than it's ever been before and I need to make that my weapon of choice for this race. I was 3 hrs. 40 minutes in Wisconsin and if I'm smart I should be able to knock a ton of time off that split alone. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 5 Training Summary IMAZ

Post Edit (Monday): I stepped on the scale today for my weekly weigh-in and saw a number I haven't seen in 9 years...151. My senior year of cross country at Augustana I weighed 148 the week of the regional meet. Within about 5 hours of that last race I'm sure I was over 151 and I have not been down to that weight since. I gradually put on weight until I reached 202 lbs. in January of 2008. It was November of 2008 that I decided I wanted to devote myself fully to the sport of triathlon and I've been as low as 153 on two different occasions until today when I saw 151. It was a loss of 3 lbs. for the week and it brings the 5 week total of IMAZ training to 17 lbs. lost. When I decided I wanted to race one more time this year I knew one thing I wanted to do was get lean for this one. I have always believed over the past couple years I could compete in the low 150's but I never had the mental strength to do it. In a typical week I would have 5 "+" marks in my workout log meaning a day of junk free eating and I would have 2 "-" signs in my workout book meaning I ate some kind of junk. I wanted this race to be different. 8 weeks to train for a big race is not a lot of time. I hoped it would be short enough I could stay focused throughout and so far through 5 weeks I have managed to eat healthier than I ever have over a 5 week period. I have 35 straight days of "+" marks in my workout book. I plan to continue that for 21 more days. What surprised me most about losing 3 lbs. this week was that I lowered my volume and focused more on quality workouts. I made sure to fuel myself a bit more than I have been so that the workouts would be quality. I actually thought I might gain weight this week but I've added some muscle over these past 5 weeks and it has definitely boosted my metabolism. End Post edit
I'm now 5 weeks down and 2 to go before a week taper leading me to Ironman Arizona. I'm feeling more fit than I've ever been which has really been a surprise to me. After 2 weeks off following Ironman Wisconsin where I managed to gain 8 lbs. I've really gotten into great shape quickly. My weight on Monday was 154...down 14 lbs. through the first 4 weeks of training. I expect to lose a bit more this week but I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out exactly where I stand. I'll do a post edit once again to report where I come in this week. This week my goal was to reduce the volume a bit but increase the quality. I had gone up each week through my first 4 weeks. Combining the increased volume with a reduction in calories to get to a low weight for this race had made it tough to get high quality work in. This week I ate more and really saw the benefits of how strong I was on the hard workouts. Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday I did high quality bike intervals. Wednesday I did a 10 mile tempo run in 58:42. It felt great and I got faster as I went. Friday I had a great track workout of 4x1200 meters starting at 5:15/mile pace and cutting down to 5:00 pace. I finished the 1200's and ran 4x 200 meters in 32 seconds. I haven't done much speed training while training for the Ironman so it felt good to get the legs moving a bit faster. I had some great swims. My best one was probably when I got to the pool late and only had 50 minutes to swim. I swam a straight 3,000 yards comfortably hard and came in at 45:08. I felt really good about this. With a wetsuit on in cold water I should be able to finally break 1 hour in Arizona. I have averaged nearly 17,000 yards/week through my first 5 weeks of training. That is a higher 5 week average than I had all year. My total training time this week was 23 hrs. 15 minutes. I ran 57 miles, biked 170, and swam 15,300 yards. I lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, did lunges, speed drills, strides, jumped rope, and did push-ups all three times, and did core work 11 times. I received some samples this week of a new flavor of GU. I was super excited to taste the newest addition to the GU line. The flavor is Peanut Butter which is perfect for anyone who loves peanut butter. The GU tastes exactly like peanut butter. It was amazing!! Look for it to be available to the public this week. It is my new favorite flavor. I have cut out peanut butter from my diet over the past 5 weeks. I have only had peanut butter once so it was nice to get it in GU flavor. Speaking of GU Energy they are running an awesome special right now. It is called the Gu Performance Energy Sampler. The sampler pack includes 9 GU gels, 5 Roctane gels, 2 packs of GU Chomps (they are like the best fruit snacks ever:), 2 electrolyte brew packs, 1 recovery brew pack, and 3 electrolyte brew tablets all for $23.99. The value of all that is over $35.00. The link to the special is at

Jen and I have finished booking our trip to Arizona. We have our flights taken care of and this week booked our hotel and rental car. I am super excited to race again. I ready to put this hard work into action. My goal is pretty simple...I want to take as much time off my 10 hr. 6 minute PR from Wisconsin as possible. I know that time does not do my fitness justice. I'm much better than that and I hope to show it in Arizona. I'm nearly 10 lbs. lighter than I was in Madison and I believe that will help me. I have been using GU Energy electrolyte tablets in my water and will continue doing this especially the week of the race to make sure I don't have the cramping problems like I had in Wisconsin. The pro field is huge and that will make for a fun race with more people around me the entire time. I know I have more work to do these next 2 weeks. My goal remains to the same in training...get better every day. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 4 Training Summary IMAZ

In my 4th week of training for Ironman Arizona I am really beginning to feel like I am back into great shape. This was my highest volume of training for a week in quite a long time. For the week my training time was 29 hours. I have had people ask me before what I do in times when I don't feel like training. My answer is pretty simple...I don't train. Most days I look forward to training. I don't plan enough rest days and when my body gets run down I know it's time to take it easy. Typically when I'm deprived of sleep my motivation to train is low. That was the case on Wednesday. I had some aweful swim times in my workout on Tuesday and I got out of the pool early knowing I was tired. I had put in over 15 hours of training in the previous 3 days. All I did Wednesday was run 1.5 miles. This was enough to get me really motivated for a big weekend of training in which I was able to get 17 hours of training in from Friday to Sunday. For the week I biked 240 miles, ran 60 miles, and swam 18,200 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, lunges, push-ups, jump rope, speed drills, and strides all three times, and core work 13 times. I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out if all this workout time helped bring my weight down any. I know from the workouts I'm back into great shape. On Friday I ran 2x 3 miles at tempo pace with 1/2 mile easy between them. I ran the 1st in 17:21 and the 2nd in 16:51. I did a bike interval workout on Tuesday that was 5 minutes at 300 watts, 4 minutes at 320, 3 minutes at 340, 2 minutes at 360 and 1 minute at 380 before climbing back up the ladder with the same wattages. I took equal rest after each hard period. 16 days prior to this workout I did the same thing but cracked on the 2nd 2 minute period. By cracking I mean I was not able to pedal at the wattage. The awesome thing about my trainer is that I can program in the wattage and if it is too much I just won't be able to pedal. That's what happened 2 weeks ago. This week I was able to make it through the entire workout and although it was tough I was never in jeopardy of making the wattage levels. It's a good confidence builder to know I've gotten that much stronger in just 2 weeks. Combine that with losing 10 lbs. over that time period and my power to weight ratio has increased dramatically. I rode 105 miles on Saturday and then ran 2 hrs. (17 miles) on Sunday morning. I'm really looking forward to this race in Arizona. The start list for the pro race is HUGE! There are 55 guys on the start list and 35 ladies. That will make for a really fun swim with lots of feet for drafting options. It will also make the ride much more enjoyable because there will be people around. All the pro athletes will be wearing a GPS tracking device so fans not in attendance can get instant updates beginning when we exit the swim. That will keep me going when I'm tired knowing that people can see what my current pace is at all times. After 3 weeks in a row over 25 hours of training time I'm planning to cut back the total volume this week but really focus on getting more quality work in. I need to get 3 quality interval bike rides this week and 2 hard running workouts. I'll do a post edit tomorrow to report the weight.
Post Edit: I almost forgot to report...I was 154 lbs. on Monday. That is -1 lb. for the week and -14 in my 4 weeks of training. It will be tough to lose much now that I've gotten rid of most of my extra baggage and I'm trying to get more quality workouts in which requires a bit more fueling.
153 is the lowest I've been in 9 years and I've been there on 2 separate occasions. I don't think I'll be that low but the scale will tell tomorrow. Only 21 more days of hard work. I'm at 28 straight days of junk-free eating. I can't wait for Nov. 20th!! Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 3 Summary...Dodging a Bullet!

I'm really starting to feel like I'm getting back into great shape. I am recovering quickly from workouts and I'm feeling stronger every day. I have 28 days of hard training remaining before I will back off to get rested up for Ironman Arizona on November 20th. My total training time this week was right at 26 hours. I ran 61 miles, biked 201 miles, and swam 17,100 yards. I am feeling stronger in all 3 areas right now but especially noticed a difference this week in my swimming. I decided I would swim more in my prep for Arizona than I ever have during the school year. One thing I learned as a pro triathlete this summer is the importance of being in a decent spot out of the water. A bad swim makes it extremely tough to have a good bike ride. If there are no other riders around it can be extremely difficult mentally to ride an Ironman course alone. My better pro races were when I had other riders around. Arizona will be a huge pro field and I know I'll be able to get out of the water ahead of some of the other guys. By swimming more I'm hoping I have more riders with me when I exit the water. In addition to the running, swimming, and riding I also lifted weights twice, did lunges, push-ups, speed drills, strides, and jumped rope all three times, did plyometrics twice, and core work 10 times. My weight is continuing to drop. I thought after losing 7 lbs. last week it would be tough to lose anything this week but I know I'm down once again. Tomorrow morning I'll get the official weekly weigh in and I'll do another post edit to report what that is. Post Edit- Monday morning weight was 155.0...-4 lbs. for the week and -13 in my first 3 weeks of training. I'd be thrilled to average 1 lb./week loss for the next 4 weeks.
For my toughest workouts this week I did 5x 1 mile repeats on Wednesday. I tried to keep them fairly relaxed. I took 2 minutes rest after each one. I started at 5:37 and cut down each one by about 5 seconds ending with a 5:14. I did a 5 mile progressive tempo run on Friday in which I began my first mile in 6:06 and cut down each one running the 5 miles in 29:02. Saturday after my 76 mile long ride I did 3.5 miles of brick running. I wanted to keep it really comfortable to simulate Ironman pace. I couldn't believe when I got to the turnaround I was averaging 6:14/mile and that was into the brutal wind we had on Saturday. On the way back I averaged 5:50 to finish the run at 6:02 pace. I couldn't believe how easy it felt. Speaking of the ride...I totally dodged a bullet. In my first 3 miles I was going into the 25 mph wind out of the west. I was riding in the aero position and looked up to see a HUGE log just in front of me. There was no way I could avoid hitting it. I hit the log hard and headed for the side of the road knowing I was going to crash. I didn't want to crash in the road or on the gravel shoulder so I headed straight for the ditch. The bottom of the ditch along this rural road is about 10 feet below the road. Right when I hit the grass going down into the ditch I was launched over my handle bars and my bike flew over top of me. I was fortunate they never mow the grass in this ditch and it was about 5 feet long. That helped to cushion my crash. I knew right away I had no serious injuries. I was able to get up right away and realized how lucky I was. The next thing was to find out how bad the bike was. I was expecting a blown tire and broken spokes but found nothing! My seat had dropped over 1 centimeter and the wheel needed to be adjusted but I was very lucky to not have anything wrong with me or the bike. It is weird how a crash goes in slow motion. In the split second I realized I was going to crash my mind went into survival mode and I had flash backs of other crashes I've been in. Thankfully this one ended much better than any of my previous crashes. I was able to get back on the bike for 74 more miles battling the wind. To put the wind in perspective when I was riding into it I was going between 15 and 17 miles per hour working like crazy in my small chain ring. When I turned to have the wind at my back I was in my biggest gear going 31-33 mph with 1/2 the effort. On Sunday I got my longest run in over 2 months when I went 15 miles. I felt very strong the entire time. I can tell a huge difference running with the weight I've lost. I feel like I'm floating when I'm running now. After last week I was hoping to average losing about 1.5 lbs. each week for the last 5 which would put me in the 151-152 range going into IM Arizona. That weight would be the lowest I've ever raced a triathlon at and 10 lbs. under my weight at Ironman Wisconsin. My confidence is growing by the day which may be the most important factor of all this training. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Every Day...

Counts. When you are starting a training plan with an Ironman 8 weeks away every day counts. I have chosen to break it down into 7 weeks of hard training and then 1 week of easy training and lots of rest. Every day will still be very important during that 1 easy week...especially things like sleep, outside stressors, nutrition...etc. Right now every day in training my goal is to finish the day knowing what I did made me better than I was the day before. So far, so good. For week 2 of IMAZ prep my workout time increased to 25 hours. I ran the same mileage as last week...50, but went up quite a bit in the swim and bike. My bike total was 212 miles, and my swim total was 17,100 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, did speed drills, strides, lunges, push-ups, and jump rope all three times, and core work 10 times. I had 3 high intensity bike interval workouts and a 14 mile long run. I can't believe I was able to get 2 open water swims in this weekend!! 2 years ago I was training for Longhorn 70.3 during the month of October and I distinctly remember being out for a long ride on October 3rd only to have it start SNOWING on me. I never used to have all the high-tech bike clothing that I've now invested in through Healthy Habits and I remember my hands were so cold in standard running gloves that I couldn't move my fingers to shift. I was having to shift with my forearms. Eventually on the brink of what I thought was frost bite I pulled into a gas station and called Jen to pick me up. Now here it is 1 week later and I'm doing open water swims in 62 degree water which is my favorite wetsuit temperature. It's cold enough that I can swim for a long time without getting warm in the wetsuit yet not so cold that my feet go numb.
With only 35 days left to train hard I've been more disciplined with my nutrition than ever before over a 2 week stretch. I'm pretty much in a routine with what I'm eating on a daily basis so I hope I've got all the major necessities covered. I do supplement a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and Vitamin D each day. I'm restricting calories a bit right now which I won't do as the race gets closer. I know if I took in more calories I could probably feel a bit better in the workouts but at this point I'm trying to get lean for this race so it's a trade-off. I'm trying not to eat any wasted calories and I'm up to 14 straight days with a "+" in my workout book signifying a "junk free" day. I know tomorrow's official Monday morning Weigh Day will be a good number. I'll do a post edit tomorrow letting you know what it is. I'm actually quite amazed how fast the weight has come off with this disciplined nutritional approach.
Post Edit: On Monday morning for my weekly "Weigh Day" I was 159 -7 for the week which may be my most lost in a week ever. -9 in my 2 weeks training for IMAZ.
Every morning I have 2 bowls of cereal...this week it was Wheaties Fuel. I also have a protein shake and 2 pieces of wheat toast with honey, and coffee. During the school day I don't eat a standard lunch. Instead I pack a bag of food and try to eat consistently throughout the day to keep my metabolism high. Metabolism is shown to slow down when the body goes long periods of time without food (like between meals for most people). To keep mine high I begin eating something during about every class period I teach starting with 3rd period at 9:30. I typically pack 1 apple, 2 bananas, 1.5 servings of Wheat Thins, 1.5 servings of carrots, and 1 granola bar. Jen has been amazing at making dinners. Lately we have bought a HUGE variety of fresh vegetables that she cuts up and puts in a pan with a few pieces of chicken breast. She throws it all in the oven for about 1 hour and it is amazing. A typical dinner will be chicken breast, zuchini, tomatoes, onions, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and "B" size potatoes. Before every breakfast and dinner I drink a 20 ounce glass of water to help fill my stomach before I begin eating. I also drink a minimum of 48 ounces of water throughout the day at school. I have begun to prepare my mind for the suffering I will go through on November 20th. I watched the live coverage of the Ironman World Championships and all the top finishers they interviewed talked about how much physical suffering they went through. I know an Ironman involves tearing the body down to the core. I have to be willing to get to that point of suffering.
I spent much of Saturday afternoon and evening following my good friend and training partner Adam Bohach online as he made his way through the Kona heat. Adam was awesome. He finished in 9 hrs. 17 minutes and was 101st overall including all the pro finishers. He was somewhere around the 60th amateur finisher and was one of the top American amateurs. He ran a 3 hr. 6 minute marathon on the end on pavement that was 135 degrees! I was really proud of Adam. He called me afterwards and told me how bad he suffered during the race. He was vomiting macadamia nuts on the bike ride, and his feet were hot the entire run. He missed the sunscreen before he bike portion and told me he got roasted. His performance was very inspiring to me. The other inspiring performance of the weekend for me was from a college teammate and friend named Randy Bill. Randy has been training like crazy for the Chicago Marathon and was hoping to hit an Olympic Trials qualifying time of under 2 hrs. 20 minutes. He placed 37th overall in a time of 2 hrs. 24 minutes. I am sure Randy was disappointed with the finish time but what inspired me the most was that he went after his lofty goal. Randy went through the 1/2 Marathon in 1 hr. 9 minutes...on pace to qualify for the trials. He is certainly Dreaming Big and the work he has put in has him in the best shape of his life. He has taken a risk to be great with his incredible training schedule all while holding a full-time job and being married to a wonderfully supportive wife. He is a great example of what Live Uncommon is all about. Time to get some rest...tomorrow means only 35 days left to get back into incredible shape. I'll be ready for Nov. 20th. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Week 1 Training Summary

It's official! I'm planning to race Ironman Arizona on November 20th! The more I thought about doing 1 more race in 2011 the more excited I got about going to Arizona. I took 2 weeks off after Ironman Wisconsin and then began training last Monday. I wanted to see how my body would respond to training before I made my mind up about another race for this year. I began the week with very tight upper hamstrings...the same thing that plagued me in the month leading up to Ironman Wisconsin. I backed off my training a lot that month with a fear that if it got worse I would not be able to race. With nothing to lose last week I decided to push the training a bit to see how they responded. Early in the week I had my doubts but I continued to train knowing I needed to give myself at least 10-14 days to make the decision. The big turning point came when I visted Kaminski Pain and Performance Care last Thursday. Waking up Thursday after 4 miles of tempo running on Wednesday I felt like an 80 year old climbing out of bed. My hamstrings had not bothered me while working out but every morning I had some serious tightness. Following my visit with Dr. Lake at Kaminski P&P Care I felt awesome. On Friday my hamstrings felt less tight than they have in over 6 weeks. I completed the week with 21.5 hours of training time. I ran 50 miles, biked 140 miles, swam 13,000 yards, lifted weights twice, did speed drills, strides, lunges, and jump rope all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work 14 times. After seeing Dr. Kaminski yesterday I felt no tightness at all today. We ran the staff mile this afternoon after our inservice. I ran it in 4:47 which isn't a great time but I had a ball-busting interval workout on the bike last night and my training over the past 3 days was over 11 hours so I wasn't disappointed knowing I am still getting back into shape and I am broken down. The exciting part was that nothing hurt and I recovered really well within a couple hours of cooling down. I chose Ironman Arizona over Ironman Florida for a couple reasons. The flights to Arizona are much cheeper. I just booked my flight for 65.00 direct from Moline to Phoenix via Allegiant Air. They really rape you with the extra fees but the total still came out to 212.00 for both Jen and I so almost 100.00 each. That is tough to beat. The bigger reason I chose Arizona is because it is 2 weeks later than Florida. With a month of low volume before Madison and then a 2 week break I knew it would take me some time to get back into really good shape. From when I started training the race is 8 weeks away. That gives me 7 weeks to work hard and then 1 week to rest up. I really like having 1 race to focus on over this amount of time. It makes every day important. In my first 10 days I've been able to put a "+" in my workout journal which signifies a day of junk free eating. No candy, peanut butter (which is my downfall), ice cream, desserts, chips, pop...etc. I weighed in last Monday at 168 which is 10 lbs. over fighting weight. I lost 2 lbs. in my first week bringing me to 166 which had me excited because based on my previous weight loss patterns it typically takes me 2-3 weeks before my metabolism really speeds up. I'm going to continue posting my weight each week to help hold myself accountable. I hope to be between 156 and 158 at the highest for this race. I was 155 when I went to San Juan last March but sometime after that I lost focus on my eating and the rest of the summer I basically hovered around 160. My training schedule is pretty much set. I'll be on 19 workouts/week. I am running 6 days, biking 6 days, swimming 5 days, and lifting 2 days each week. Most of the bike workouts will be indoors on the trainer because they will be done at night after the kids go to bed. I despise spending long hours on the trainer so I will focus on quality over quantity. I found out in my month between Racine 70.3 and Steelhead 70.3 that I can get a lot stronger on the bike by doing quality interval workouts on my Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer without spending endless hours on it. I am able to program the wattage levels which force me to work really hard. I'll do outdoor rides on Saturdays (long ride) and Sundays (medium ride with some intervals). For running I will do 1 interval session each week on Wednesday, a tempo run on Friday, and a long run on Sunday. The rest of the miles will be base miles. For swimming I will do longer and more difficult workouts on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with Monday being a short swim focusing on drills and technique and Sunday being a lower yardage day with longer paddle swims and some technique work but not a lot of hard swimming. Mondays and Fridays are my lifting days. M,W,F are also days when I jump rope, do lunges, speed drills, and strides. Plyometrics are Mondays and Fridays. Push-ups are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Core work is every day. It's been going well so far. I've always felt it takes about 10 days to start feeling the benefits of the workouts. Last week I was sore and tight. This week I'm feeling fresher every day. My goal for this race is pretty simple...take as much time off my 10 hr. 6 min. PR from Wisconsin as possible. The field in Arizona will be completely loaded with a lot of guys racing this one coming off the world championships in Hawaii. I am not focusing at all on the other guys or my placing. I am focusing on having a better race so I can get a PR I am satisfied with. Next year may be my last year with this kind of devoted training and I really want to focus more on the 1/2 Ironman distance so I want to get 1 good full in so I have the option of not doing one next year. I don't want to end this journey with a 10 hr. PR. I am much more fit than that and I would like to show it. Arizona is a very fast course which can be slowed a bit if it gets windy but even last year it was windy and about 20 guys went under 9 hours.

This week I'll be thinking a lot about my training buddy Adam Bohach who is in Hawaii for the World Championship. I rode, ran, and swam with Adam last weekend for the final time in 2011. He is in awesome shape. I can't wait to see how he does. He is going to be great!! Thanks for reading. As go the famous words in Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."I'm not dead yet!"...although I wonder sometimes if I need to visit the psychiatrist when I think back to last month in Madison when I was swearing I would never do an Ironman again! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

QC Marathon...Back to Work

On Sunday I had a ton of fun as a spectator at the QC Marathon. I enjoyed watching so many people chase a goal they had been working towards for quite some time. The QC Marathon is a spectacularly run event through the Quad Cities. There is a marathon, 1/2 Marathon, marathon relay, and 5k. My wife Jen ran the 1/2 marathon against a really tough field assembled this year thanks to an offering of prize money in the 1/2 for the first time. She had not run a 1/2 marathon in about 5 years. Today she beat her best time by nearly 5 minutes running 1 hr. 21 minutes and 58 seconds. She finished 2nd to a gal from California who is an Olympic Trials qualifier at the marathon distance. Jen looked great as she made her run through the QC. It was also awesome for me to see so many people running in Live Uncommon shirts. The movement to get people active and healthy is growing tremendously! I am so proud to be affiliated with Live Uncommon. If you want to know what it is all about visit I watched 2 fellow Live Uncommoners Aaron Maurer and Josiah Campbell hit their goal times of breaking 4 hours in the marathon. They were both in the 3 hr. 54 minute range. For Aaron, it was his first marathon and I knew how hard he had worked because I followed his blog through the journey. Josiah's story is pretty incredible. He has lost over 100 lbs. since he began taking up fitness a couple years ago. I followed those guys on my bike the last 6 miles and it was awesome watching them and cheering for them. Their stories are very inspiring and they are awesome representatives of Live Uncommon. I saw fellow teacher and Live Uncommoner Nick Sacco break his PR by 11 minutes on his way to a time of 3 hrs. 34 minutes. It was just great being out there supporting people as they made their way through the course. So many of them were smiling as they ran. It reminded me of how much physical fitness is a celebration of life. It was the perfect thing for me to witness as I get set to resume my own training tomorrow following a 2 week break. Within a few days of finishing Ironman Wisconsin I had recovered pretty well. I was feeling great walking around. I have run a couple times and know my body has recovered well. I was super excited to finish IM Wisconsin but I was not excited about how I raced. I did not think the race was a good indicator of the fitness level I had. The more I thought about things the more I realized I did not want to be done for the year just yet. As the weather cools down now and we enter the fall season it is my favorite time of the year to run. I looked at the bigger pro races remaining on the calendar and there is one that I really want to get to. I decided the best thing to do is begin training tomorrow and put myself through a regular week of training without going too crazy. If my body handles it well I will continue training and will sign up for one more race. My hamstrings were not good in my 4 weeks leading up to IM Wisconsin. They forced me to back off way earlier and way more than I would have liked. My highest running mileage in the 5 weeks before Madison was only 28 miles. This was after running 5 weeks in a row at 60 miles through June and early July. I feel I have some unfinished business left in 2011. I also realize that I don't want to go into another race undertrained so I will be honest with myself in my assessment of this week of training. If the week goes well I'll announce next week on the blog where I will be going for one more race. I know just the possibility has me thinking about the race every day. I am overweight right now so I will focus on getting my weight back down to race weight while I begin to prepare for this one if it is to happen. I was inspired today by what I saw...from everyone out on the course. Congratulations to all who raced today in the Quad Cities. It was a great sight! DREAM BIG!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Post-Ironman Training Summary

I had over 900 hours of training in the 45 weeks leading up to Ironman Wisconsin. Last week I totalled 35 minutes of training. My weekly total was 3 miles of running and 1,000 yards of open water swimming with Adam. I did the 3 miles on Friday and it was more than enough to let me know I'm not ready to run yet. My left hamstring got really tight after I finished the run. It was the hamstring that cramped terribly during the race last week. I feel great walking and doing normal activity but definitely have a lot of deep tissue damage. I've been enjoying my time off. I have allowed myself to eat whatever I want during this time off. I try to be very strict when I begin training so it's kind of nice to not think twice when I want to eat something now that I don't normally eat once I begin training. My good friend Beau Perkins who was in Madison to watch me race last week sent me this video of the finish. I'm really torn about what I want to accomplish next year. Part of me wants to abandon all the Ironman races and go for races like Rev 3 and other 1/2 distance races not part of the Ironman circuit. Another part of me thinks that next year will be my last year racing professionally and I'd like to do the Ironman circuit one more time to see how high I can get myself in the 70.3 world rankings. The difficult part of this is knowing that my travel expenses would probably outweigh the money I bring in from races unless I make significant improvements. To make things more difficult Ironman increased the amount they are paying the winner at all the races next year but offset that by lowering the amounts they pay 5th-8th places. I have a long list of reasons not to race Ironman that have nothing to do with the professional aspect...I am amazed at the Ironman craze that people have when there are far better values and races that put the athletes first like Rev 3 does. I've done quite a few Ironman trademarked events over the years now. Without a doubt from an athlete standpoint none of them compare to races like the Chicago Triathlon and the Door County 1/2 Ironman from a race experience standpoint. I have all offseason to sort this out so I won't bother trying to do it right now. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report and Results

I sit here not quite knowing what to type in a race report for an Ironman. The experience and the day last so long it's quite difficult to put it into words. I left for Madison on Friday morning and made the pro meeting at 12:30. There were 19 pro guys at the meeting. I was really excited to race feeling like I was in a field I could be very competitive with. I had bib #4 and I later realized why this would be an added benefit for this race. I was thankful that my good friend Jon McGee who lives in Madison allowed me to freeze my nutrition bottles at his house since my hotel did not have a fridge in the room. Jon's wife was being induced with their 3rd child on Friday night and he was kind enough to open his house up for me to use. On race morning my alarm went off at 3:30 and I jumped out of bed like a 7 year old on Christmas morning. I was super excited to get this race going. I got all my things together and headed to Jon's house to get my bottles and then get to the race site. I was able to get my special needs bags dropped off in no time and get to my bike. Universal Sports was filming the race and immediately when I arrived at my bike they put the cameras on me and filmed as I got the bike ready. This was a little weird because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to say anything or just ignore them. I was not overly nervous. I was confident and excited for the race. I opted not to go with a run warm up due to the long day of the race. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get a swim warm up in so I went down to the lake and got the wetsuit on and was able to swim about 20 minutes before taking my place on the starting line. The pro race would begin at 6:50 a.m. I had not seen Jen all weekend because she was in a good friend's wedding on Saturday night and drove up early with my brother, his wife, and our friend Maddie. I was so thankful to have them in Madison to help cheer me on as well as numerous other friends who were kind enough to give up their Sunday to come up for the day.

SWIM: When the cannon fired I took off with the pack. There was a little more contact than what I typically have for the swim start but I can't complain because I'm sure it pales nothing in comparison to the contact the 2,800 amateurs go through when they all begin together 10 minutes later. I was able to stay in the big group until about 700 yards in when things began to spread out. I knew it would be very important for me to find some feet to draft on. There was a pretty big guy swimming in front of me so I got on his feet and tried to go with. Pretty soon we were joined by a female pro and I could feel someone on my feet so I knew our group was at least 4 people. There were times where I began to fall off but I kept reminding myself of the importance of hanging on to the group so I wouldn't be left alone and I always found a way to claw myself back up to the feet ahead of me. The first loop felt like it lasted quite awhile but I gained a lot of confidence when we began the 2nd loop and I was still with these 3 other swimmers. I knew I could stay with them for one more loop and the 2nd loop passed pretty quickly. I was able to hang with them for the most part. I think when we began passing amateurs on our 2nd loop our group split up a bit but not much. With about 600 yards to go I began getting some cramps in the arches of my feet. I've gotten these before in swim workouts when I'm dehydrated. I was a little nervous to be cramping this early in the race. I began drinking lake water. It actually tasted as good as that stuff they put in the bottles and sell for a dollar at grocery stores. My training buddy Adam Bohach is a science teacher and he told me in St. George that you could drink lake water and even if there was bacteria in it you wouldn't get sick for about a week so I took his advice and began drinking quite a bit of Lake Monona. I got out of the water feeling really good about my swim. I was thinking it was going to be about 58 minutes but I was a little disappointed when I saw 1:02 on my watch. Right when I went to stand up to get out of the water I got a huge cramp in my hamstring...crap! I made the run out of the lake but it was not at my typical transition speed. My legs were very crampy. I have had this before and sometimes they go away once I get on the bike and get some salt pills in so I was hoping it would not be a big issue. I ran up the helix which was packed with fans and got into the change room and grabbed my helmet. I did have one mishap in transition. The room with our gear bags was carpeted and we had to take a 90 degree turn. My foot slipped out from under me when I went to turn on the carpet and I fell flat on my right hip. I was up in no time not worried about it. I got to my bike and was off for 112 miles of fun.

BIKE: Heading out on the bike I was only in front of about 3 or 4 of the other pros. I could see one just ahead of me as we began our ride. I stayed relatively close to him until we came to a spot where you have to slow down and get on a bike path for a short stretch. It was a pretty technical spot where you had to go slow but I must have gone much slower than him because when I got off the bike path his lead had grown by about 15 seconds. I pushed hard early on the course but my legs were continually cramping...especially on the hills...and I knew there were going to be lots of them. Not only were my legs biceps were cramping in the aero position and I even had some cramps in my chest muscles. This was not a good sign. I was riding pretty hard through mile 40 and I was taking way more salt pills than is typical for me. The salt pills were helping to reduce the cramping but only for a very short period of time. After about 45 miles we went down the technical descent and I had two pro guys close in front of me. When we got to the next hills my quads were cramping badly when I stood up to put power into the pedals. What scared me the most however was at about this time I was having a little discomfort in my chest when I was breathing. I began to wonder if I had taken too much salt in a short period of time and I was pretty nervous about why my chest hurt. Fresh in my mind was that an athlete I coached 5 years ago had just suffered an apparent heart attack while working out on Friday night. My thoughts and prayers are with Brett Greenwood as he recovers at the University of Iowa Hospitals. Brett was an all-Big 10 safety at Iowa and recently was in the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. I realized that this was just not going to be the great day I hoped it would. I made the decision at mile 45 to pull the plug and really ease up the effort I was putting out. I went from "race" mode to "finish" mode. After crashing in St. George last May finishing this thing was my number 1 goal. You never know what life will bring tomorrow and I wanted to make sure I was able to finish this Ironman while I have the chance. After easing up on the pace I began to just enjoy the race. The rest of the ride was a blast. While I was on my 2nd lap I was passing amateurs who were on their first loop. The first ones I was passing were some of the final amateurs out on the course and I knew they would need all the encouragement they could get to get through the bike course before the cutoff. With each one I passed I looked for their name on their bib and shouted out encouragement. It was a lot of fun seeing their reactions as I passed by calling out their names. I think many of them forgot their names were on their backs and they looked startled...but always smiled and returned the compliments. The crowd support in Madison is better than advertised. There are people all over the 112 mile bike course going crazy. The hills were completely awesome. I exchanged high 5's with the guys dressed in costumes as they ran up the hills alongside me. I had so many people getting excited to see bib #4 come by...I hadn't even thought of this but #4 must be the favorite number of half the people in Wisconsin. I was wearing the same bib # as legendary QB Brett Favre and they let me know that!! I was in the heart of Packer country and I couldn't disappoint them by telling them I was a Bears fan. I saw so many people out on the bike course who made the trip to Madison to share the day with me and it kept me going. I knew it was going to be difficult with a marathon still to run and no hopes of a high finish. I was reminded by my training buddy Adam Bohach why I was still racing when I passed him around mile 98. Adam yelled out, "You are going to be an Ironman." It reminded me of some hilarious youtube Ironman video we watched at his apartment after a long bike ride and run last February when there was still snow on the ground. It was just what I needed to hear as I began to prepare my mind for running the marathon.

RUN: I went into the transition area and got my running shoes. I knew this was going to be a tough run on legs that had cramped so bad early in the race. I had felt much better and the cramping had not been nearly as bad since I pulled the plug on the race at mile 45 but I still had to run 26.2 miles. I was set on finishing no matter how bad it got. I headed out on the run with my GPS and the watch was reading about 6:45 pace. It was not difficult but just before the 3rd mile when we ran down into Camp Randall Stadium for a tour of the Wisconsin football field I had a huge cramp in my left hamstring. It almost brought me to the ground. I knew I was going to need to stop for a lot of nutrition at the next aid station. My lower back and hamstrings were very tight and my hamstrings were on the verge of cramping nearly every step. It helped so much to see my friends Jake, Kevin, and Beau out on the course. I figured those guys would have gone home after I got off the bike so far back in the race. Beau yelled out to me that he was going to run all "over this town following me until I was done." That was great hearing. It kept me going. I knew that so many people had given up their day to come watch and I didn't want to keep them waiting until late in the night when they needed to drive back. I knew that meant I would need to keep running even if it was painful. I did not want to be relegated to walking the marathon knowing people were waiting for me to finish. I stopped at about 3 miles in and stretched my back and hamstrings. I also drank a lot of fluid, took more salt pills, and ate about 6 orange quarters. I was trying anything to get rid of the cramps. I felt better each time I stopped at an aid station and loaded up on nutrition. I had not gone to the bathroom once the entire day even though I had probably consumed over 2 gallons of fluid. I made my mind up that I would try to run 3-4 miles at a time and then stop to reload at the aid stations. I got a great lift from friends and family again around mile 6 of the run. They were on a crowded street and when I saw them my brother yelled to me that I was winning my fantasy football game. It was a good update to get. I asked how the bears were doing and my brother yelled they were up big over Atlanta which was more great news. It helped so much to see all these people out enjoying the day and encouraging me even though I was not having the day I expected and dreamed of. It really was what kept me going. Just after mile 7 my training buddy Adam Bohach snuck in about a 1/2 mile with me and it was the best I felt through the entire race. Running with Adam made it feel like we were back out training together again. It made me think about how much he has helped me to get in great shape and how excited I am to continue this next year knowing I have a friend to continue this great journey with. You develop a pretty amazing bond with someone who you learn to suffer through 100+ mile rides and 20 mile runs with. I can't wait to watch his day in Kona unfold next month. He is amazingly tough and has been a great source of wisdom for me as well. At the mile 9.5 aid station I was helped by two QC residents who were volunteering so they could sign up for next year's race. Jessica Imm and Matt Davison took great care of me at that aid station and gave me the much needed encouragement to keep going. I hope I didn't scare them away from signing up. At the half way point I was greeted with my special needs bag. I devoured my two Boston Creme Pies that I'd been waiting for along with a 20 oz. redbull. I also got in a pack of Peach Tea Gu Chomps. The Boston Creme pies had been a favorite snack of mine on a 100 mile ride Adam and I do. We stop at a small-town convenience shop in Dixon, IA for fuel and those had worked in the past. They got me about a mile before the cramping got really bad again. After stopping at mile 16 and loading up I was able to run the next 7 miles although the pace was slower than I've ever run in a race...or mileage run for that matter. I was slogging along at about 8:30 mile pace. I know what the Ironman shuffle feels like. I made my last stop at mile 23 to grab my last big round of nutrition before running the rest of the way to the finish line. Adam yelled to me that I better be smiling when I finished. Part of me was crushed by how the day unfolded but most of me was thrilled to be able to make it through to cross the line to become and Ironman finisher. I had waited for that moment from the time I crashed on May 7th in St. George, Utah. I was all smiles and very thrilled just to be healthy enough to finish this difficult challenge. I crossed the line 29th overall and 11th of the 19 pros who started the race. As bad as the day went for me it could have gotten much worse. 2 of the top 3 guys in the pro race off the bike were forced to walk the last 10 miles. It's easy for me to understand why that happens to guys who are so great. Those guys are pushing the line incredibly hard all day with a goal of winning. They have to push to that edge if they want to win. If they cross over the line too soon it can be a long day but without taking the risk they would have no chance to win. The course volunteers in Madison and the spectators were nothing short of amazing. A HUGE congratulations to all who finished this race. There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for one of these. I was thrilled to see Moon Villalobos go by on his first loop of the run en route to his finish. This was Moon's 1st ever triathlon. He has spent so many selfless hours helping me with my bike. He is a top-notch mechanic at Healthy Habits and now a 5th grade teacher in Rock Island. I also saw local Josh Lederman finish and he lookedd awesome. The other people who deserve the huge congrats are the family members and friends who put up with the long training hours required to prepare for this day. Complete results from the race with splits can be found at My wife Jen has been incredible through this entire journey. I love her so much and can't thank her enough for being so overwhelmingly supportive through all the long days and hours of preparation. I can't thank my friends and family enough who made the trip. Knowing you were there...and not even sensing that I disappointed you in any way with my what got me through the run when I was in difficulty. Seeing about 15 of you guys at the finish line waiting for me made it worth it. A HUGE thanks goes out to Phil Pancrazio who captured a lot of awesome images from the races, not only of me, but of others. His images really captured the "Ironman Experience". I also got a couple great photos from Ironman photographer Ali Engin. While I certainly wish the race had gone better I'm so proud to have stuck it out and finished. When I put it in context it makes me even more proud. 3.5 years ago I weighed 45 lbs. more than I do now. My time of 10 hrs. 6 minutes was still the 29th fastest out of nearly 2,800 athletes. If I were still racing as an age group athlete my day would have been good enough to punch my ticket to Kona for the world championship. A few years back local Kona finisher Jen Foley once asked me when I was going to move up to 1/2 and full Ironman events. I told her those events were for people who regularly needed to visit a psychiatrist. I told her I didn't think I would ever move up distances. I was wrong and I'm glad I was wrong. I have a quote from Craig Alexander that I keep on the outside cover of my workout book..."But as far as the race goes, I'll just try and do what I always do, which is control what I can training...and I think a lot of the fun is just getting in great shape."