Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Long Run...

I am a firm believer that one of the most important workouts for endurance athletes is the "long run". For me the weekly long run is typically on Sunday. The term "long" is very relative. I believe that all endurance athletes, whether triathletes, or strictly runners benefit from running long once a week. The reason the term "long" is relative is due to the wide range of levels individuals training for endurance are at. It is also relative to the event that people are training for. A long run for someone training for the 5k will probably look different than the long run of someone training for an Ironman. The long run for someone just getting started in running will look different than the long run for somone who has been training for months. For me, the long run is a staple in my workout plan. Unless I have a Sunday race that is the day I run long. When I began training this year on November 1 my long run was 60 minutes. I slowly began to increase that time with a goal of getting to 2 hrs. 15 minutes by Ironman St. George. I believe it is important to keep the long run at an easy pace...something you can sustain for well...a long time. Early on for me the long run also served as a recovery run. Although it was my longest run of the week it was at such an easy pace I was able to work out hard on Monday. That changed a bit when I began doing my long runs with my training buddy Adam Bohach this winter. He is such a strong runner and his easy pace would leave me tired by the end. 2 weeks before Ironman St. George we ran 17.5 miles and went through the 16 mile mark at just under 6:00/mile pace. This effort took me a few days to recover from. I am typically between 6:30/7:10 pace when I'm doing my long run. It varies based on the weather and the course I choose to run. I believe the benefits of the long run are many...mental toughness, fat burning, increased aerobic abilities, improved running efficiency...etc. When I run long my goal is to run for a long time. I don't really are about what the pace is. I think longer time just as good of a measurement as the mileage covered. My longest run prior to Ironman St. George was 23 miles or 2 hrs 30 minutes. I also had a 21 mile run and a couple 17-18. Over the past 6 weeks I've had one at 17.5, one at 19.5, one at 14.5 and then today I ran my longest ever...although it wasn't exactly planned that way.

We've had a really bad heat wave going through the midwest...actually I think it's gone through the entire country. Our heat index hit 121 degrees on Tuesday. I spent the first few days of the week getting recoverd from last Sunday's Ironman Racine 70.3. On Thursday I started getting back into regular training and I was actually feeling really good. I had the best swim workout of my life on Thursday. I had really high intensity bike workouts on Thursday and Saturday. Then on Sunday I planned my long run. It was storming out like crazy when I woke up to begin the run. I knew Monday was supposed to be an end to the extreme heat so I debated running 12 today and then doing about 20 tomorrow for the long run. I began watching the live streaming of Ironman Lake Placid in the morning and I decided I would do the run on the treadmill while watching the race on the computer. The tough part was figuring out how to hook the computer to the treadmill so I could see it. I used a really cool green theraband to tie it to the treadmill and I was off on the run. The computer covered my speed, time, and distance which was an added bonus because watching that on a treadmill is the worst part of treadmill running. I got settled into a nice rhythm not even knowing what my speed was. I had a bottle of fluid and 1 GU with me. After awhile the bottle was empty and my GU was gone and I began to feel like some salt tablets. I paused the treadmill and took a 3 minute break to refill my bottle and get the salt tablets. I decided to take a peek to see where I was at. I was at 12.48 miles and it had been 1 hr. 28 minutes. I got back on and continued running and soon Super Mom was home. My bottle was empty again and I wanted more salt tablets so I called her down to help supply my aid so I wouldn't have to stop again. It was really awesome being able to watch the Ironman and it kept my mind off the run. I was varying my pace without knowing what it was. I would increase it for 5 minutes by 5 "faster" clicks and then back it down after that. I varied the incline some to keep my legs from getting into that flat rhythm for too long. After 3 bottles of fluid and 2 more GU Roctane gels I looked again and saw I was at mile 22. I still was feeling great. Jen asked how long I was going to run for and I said, "until I get tired." I was secretly hoping that "wall" I've heard so much about would hit me so I could find out what it felt like. I kept running and it never hit me. I moved the computer slightly so I could see the mileage and at mile 25 I realized I was going to go through my marathon (26.2 miles) in just under 3 hours...NO!! I did not want to break 3 hours in my first marathon. I slowed the pace down knowing full well I wanted to save that day for Ironman Wisconsin on September 11th. I went through 26.2 in 3 hrs. 22 seconds. After I hit that mark I increased the speed to 6:20 pace and it felt great. I ran this pace until I hit 27.5 miles and called it a day with the new longest run of my life. 3 hrs. 8 minutes 38 seconds. It was a big confidence booster to know I could go that far without feeling any negative effects. I carried this confidence with me for a few hours until I was defeated by my 3 year old daughter Payton when she beat me in a game of Candy Land and then taunted me afterwards. I won't be running that far again before Ironman Wisconsin. Maybe 1 or 2 more at 20 miles. Watching Ironman Lake Placid was awesome. TJ Tollakson, the pride of Iowa, won the race with a super impressive performance. It was his first career Ironman win. I was really excited to see him represent so well. The television commentators kept saying it was only a matter of time before last year's winner Ben Hoffman would catch him on the bike or the run but TJ is in tremendous shape and is running better than he ever has. I had a feeling he would continue his great running today and he sure did by running the marathon in 2 hrs. 56 minutes...after averaging nearly 24.5 mph on the bike for 112 miles. I was also rooting for Indiana pro Daniel Bretscher who finished in 5th place! He was steady through the entire race and ran a very good marathon to solidify his paycheck. The race certainly got me excited to race this distance in 7 weeks.

The week was a good one considering how sore I was on Monday and Tuesday. After seeing Laurel Darren on Tuesday afternoon for a massage I was feeling pretty good by Wednesday and awesome by Thursday. I swam over 20,000 yards this week for just the 2nd time this summer and I'm still feeling like my swimming is getting better every week. I was originally planning to do a 5 day training camp starting tomorrow but after analyzing my race last weekend I decided against that. I feel what I need right now is a lot of high quality bike work. It is very tough for me to get any quality during a training camp due to the volume of work I'm putting in. Much of this quality will be back on the bike trainer. With my Cycleops Power Beam pro I am able to pre-set my wattage levels for workouts and I have found it difficult to simulate this intensity on outdoor rides. On Saturday night I did my favorite bread and butter workout...5x5 with Jen. She ran her 5 minute periods on the treadmill while I did mine on the bike. I was able to do 5 of them at 330 watts which was my highest ever for this workout. In my build for St. George I maxed out at 320 on the 5x5. I had not attempted that in a few months and the last time I did it I cracked. I could not pedal the entire period at 320 watts. This is why doing these workouts on the trainer has been so beneficial. When I pre-set the wattage I am either able to hit it by pedaling the entire time or it gets so difficult I can't pedal at that power any more. Saturday I was able to complete all five of the 5 minute periods at 330 watts and it didn't kill me. Jen ran her 5 minute periods next to me at a very impressive 5:40/mile average! I know I adapt very quickly to quality on the bike so I hope that by Ironman Steelhead in 3 weeks I'm able to ride a faster bike split and not be so far behind when I get off the bike.

The Live Uncommon movement has been growing tremendously. We've had shirt orders in many states throughout the US. Live Uncommon founder Michelle Russell reported that we even had an order come in from overseas. We love seeing people out there inspiring others to live healthy and active. You can get involved by visiting It only takes one to inspire others. Be the one. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ironman Racine 70.3 Race Report and Results

On Saturday morning Jen and I made the drive to Racine, Wisconsin for the Ironman Racine 70.3 triathlon. I had completed a 5 day taper so I would be relatively fresh for this race. I saw Laurel Darren for a pre-race massage on Thursday and Dr. Kaminski for some ART work on Friday. We arrived in Racine just before noon and picked up my packet for the race and then headed to the pro athlete meeting at 12:30. At packet pickup the girl behind the pro check-in counter was very impressed with my Live Uncommon shirt and I told her she could get one at I was expecting a modest pro field with this race being as low of a prize purse as any event Ironman puts on. I couldn't have been more wrong. At the meeting I found out there were guys from Australia, Englad, New Zealand, and some domestic pros as well. There were 18 guys entered in the pro race. I was hoping to be in the top 1/2 of the finishers. After the meeting Jen and I got a short run in and headed for our friends house in Round Lake, IL which was about an hour away from Racine. They were out of town but were kind enough to let us use Hotel Wahls. I tried to get to sleep around 10:00 knowing the 3:30 a.m. wakeup call would come early. I was not able to sleep well which is very typical for me the night before a big race. I get really excited about the race and I seem to wake up every 30-60 minutes to see if it's almost time to get up. The first time I woke I thought it must be getting close and I looked at my watch to see 11:15 which meant it had only been about 45 minutes since I had fallen asleep. I was probably awake 7 or 8 times more before I decided to get out of bed at 3:15. I had a nice breakfast of waffles and a banana before we got into the car to drive back to Racine to get my bike racked and take care of all the warm-up procedures.
Once in Racine I racked my bike and the did a short 1.5 mile warm-up run with some speed drills and strides on the end. I heard them announcing that 2x Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander was in town to defend his title. I had no idea he would be racing. Craig Alexander is an abosolute legend in the sport of triathlon. Just before I was about to head out to the swim start he passed by me and asked if I had any chain lube he could use for his bike. I said that I did and Craig Alexander said, "You are a legend mate!!" I couldn't believe this legend was calling me a legend. After he used it I headed to the swim start with my training buddy Adam Bohach who was also competing in the race. The swim started about a mile down the beach and we jogged part way before putting on our wetsuits and getting in the cold Lake Michigan waters to warm up. The water temperature was about 65 degrees which is perfect for a wetsuit swim. I enjoy swimming in cold water. After a few hundred yards they were calling for the pros to gather at the starting line. I took my place there and picked out the guy I wanted to swim with. Patrick Evoe is a pro triathlete from Austin, TX who is very good. His one weakness is the swim and I was really hoping I could stay with him in the swim because I knew he would be a great guy to bike and run with. He has multiple top 5 Ironman and 1/2 Ironman finishes in his career. He is sponsored by Little Caesar's Pizza and wears a really sweet Little Caesar's jersey. He is very easy to pick out in the crowd.
SWIM: The swim started very fast which I completely expected. I knew it would calm down once positions had been established. I stayed on Patrick Evoe's feet through the first turn bouy about 300 yards into the race. After we made the turn I lost his feet but I was still in a big group so I wasn't too worried. I figured he would be in this group for awhile. I hung onto that group until about the 700 yard mark and then it started to separate. I was between two guys and couldn't decide which one's feet to stay on. I picked the right and it was the wrong pick. The guy on the left slowly left us and we were on our own with a couple guys on our feet. I stayed with this guy for the remainder of the swim. The effort was not difficult. I was hoping we would get out of the water in good shape but we kept swimming and it felt like it was getting really long before we made the final turn to head in to transition. I was thinking the swim felt like 33 minutes and I would have been very disappointed with that. When I popped up to get out of the water I saw the clock at 28:50 which was a solid swim for me. I was very thankful it was not 33 minutes as it felt like. We had a long run through the sand which Adam and I both thought may have been the toughest part of the race. The swim time didn't stop until we got to transition so my official swim time was 29:50. In looking at the results I'm very happy with the swim improvements I've made. I was about 5 minutes behind the leaders. In San Juan last March I was 9 minutes behind the leaders. I was only 90 seconds behind a big pack of guys who got on the bike together. I was 55 seconds behind Patrick Evoe when I got on the bike. I know if I want to continue to improve it will be important for me to get out of the water with more riders. If I could stay with that big pack that was 90 seconds up that would make the bike portion much more enjoyable with more company. In the pro races guys tend to ride in packs separating themselves by 10 meters which is the legal draft distance. There is still a slight benefit from being 10 meters back, especially when there are multiple guys in a line. Overall I'm definitely on the right track with my swimming. Much of this credit has to go to my swim coach Stacey Zapolski. I started working with Stacey a week after my race in San Juan and it's helped tremendously. The other thing that has made a big difference is swimming in the Xterra Vendetta wetsuit. I started the race next to 2 other guys wearing the Vendetta. It's a ridiculously fast suit. Last week Adam and I swam 3x 1000 meters to the end of our lake and back. The first 2 were with the wetsuit on and in the Vendetta I swam 14:05 and 14:15. I took the Vendetta off for the last one and swam 16:15!! 2 minutes slower without my wetsuit over 1000 meters is a big difference.

BIKE: When I got on the bike Jen yelled that I was 55 seconds down to the Little Caesar's guy. I knew he was my ticket to a great race so I went really hard for the first 5 miles to see if I could catch him. When I still couldn't see him I decided I better settle into a more managable pace. I passed one guy in those first 5 miles but had no idea what place I was in. Just after the 5 mile mark the pro I had swam with Ryan Rau went by me. He wasn't going too much faster than I was so I knew this would be a good chance for me to ride with someone and hopefully we could pull back some of the guys who were falling off the pack in front of us. We were both careful to drop out of the draft zone as we traded positions over the next miles. For one, I don't want to be known as a guy who cheats so I want to ride legally. I probably stayed closer to 15 meters than 10 because I was paranoid of getting a penalty. The second reason is that there were a lot of motorcycles patrolling the course and I didn't want to give them any doubt about whether or not I was riding legally. We didn't pass anyone until about mile 35 when we went by a guy who had been dropped by the pack ahead of us. At about mile 40 Ryan asked me if I wanted to trade off and on every mile. He had probably been doing 60% of the work up to this point. I was hanging on. I said that I would do my best and we traded spots every mile the remainder of the race. I began to feel much better in the last 15 miles. I had finished my GU Ironman brew and was taking salt tablets regularly. I had 2 GU gels during the ride and 2 GU Chomps. This was the least amount I carried with me in a 1/2 Ironman yet. My training buddy Adam and I are very different with our nutritional habits in a race. He is a minimalist and I tend to carry the buffet. We had talked some about our nutritional setup and he decided to take a bit more and I would be carrying a lot less with me. I was also craving water the 2nd half of the ride so I took water at the bike aid stations. In the last 5 miles we passed 2 more guys who had fallen off the pack ahead of us. I entered transition with a bike time of 2 hrs. 15 minutes, 2 seconds. It was an average speed of 24.9 mph. I had originally hoped to ride faster than this but after talking with Indiana pro triathlete Daniel Bretscher last week I changed strategies. He had a great race the weekend before in Muncie, Indiana and he told me the key was riding conservatively and having a great run. It was hot out then and he said lots of guys suffer on the run when it's hot, especially if they have ridden too hard. I decided that would be a better plan for myself so I road a bit more conservatively. For my wheel selection I went with the Zipp sub-9 rear disc and the Zipp 1080 front wheel. With the course being very flat and the wind being minimal this was a perfect wheel selection. They even handled the extremely bumpy ride very well.

RUN: I had a very good transition to the run. I was 11th off the bike but passed one guy in transition. Within the first mile I moved into 9th. The most difficult thing about moving from the amateur division to the pro division for me has been finding the motivation to run hard when there is no prize on the line. They only had money to 5th place in Racine and I knew 5th was WAY ahead of me. I had to find something to get me motivated to dig deep on this run. As an amateur I always had a top overall finish or some trophy to run for. Now I would have to find something to keep me going on this hot day besides an award. I made my mind up that I would be really excited with a top 10 finish. I knew that I would have to run hard if I wanted to stay in the top 10. The temperatures were rising quickly in Racine. It was expected to get into the mid-90's and it was humid. The sun was out bright as ever so that made it feel even warmer. I was dumping water on myself at every aid station and was looking for cups of ice to dump down my jersey. Those would met within a minute but they gave me a minute of good relief. I had my GPS watch on but I was really frustrated that I couldn't get it to pick up the satellites while I was moving. I should have turned it on in the morning and just left it on but I didn't think it would be so difficult to pick up the satellites so for the first 5 miles I had no idea what pace I was running. I tried to stay in a good rhythm and the watch finally "located satellites" at about 5 miles in. My pace was 5:44 the first time I saw it. I was quite surprised by this as it didn't seem like I was running that fast and I knew it would be a run that turned into "survival of the fittest" in the heat. My pace hovered between 5:50 and 6:05 for the rest of the first loop before I made the turn to head back out for my 2nd and final loop. At the turnaround my good buddy Zeb Gilliam and my wife Jen were yelling to me that I was less than 30 seconds from the next guy and about 1 minute 10 seconds from 7th. I was beginning to suffer but thought how awesome it would feel to finish in the top 7. I dug deep and passed one guy at about mile 8 and then just before the turnaround nearing mile 10 I looked up and saw Craig Alexander. It was obvious to me that he was having a terrible day but I was excited when I passed him and it moved me into 7th. He gave me some words of encouragement as I continued on. I give him a lot of credit for staying in the race. Many of the top pros choose to drop out when they are not racing well. They don't want their names to be in the results that far down. Craig is a great ambassador for our sport and it says a lot that even on his worst day he refuses to drop out. I was really hurting in the last few miles and there were a lot of guys ahead of me that were on their first loop so I was losing track of what place I was in. My pace had slowed down to about 6:20/mile on the way back in. After the race Jen asked me if I saw her "artwork" out on the course. I said no and she was really disappointed. I guess when she went on her 9 mile run in the morning before the race she stopped and spent 30 minutes carving "Dream Big" and "Live Uncommon" into the middle of the road on the run course in hopes that I would see it for motivation. To be honest if I saw it, I probably would have thought, "Wow, that is a coincidence, those are two of my catch-phrases" not realizing she was the one who wrote them. Needless to say her support at the race was plenty for me and I appreciated the effort. Out on the course I kept reminding myself how good it would feel to get to the line in 7th. Without realizing it I had passed another guy in those final miles. As I approached the finish line people were yelling to me that I was in 6th. It was a great feeling finally getting a result in a pro race that proves I can be competitive at this level. A lot of hard work went into this result. I crossed the line 6th overall with a time of 4:07:45. Complete results from the race can be found by clicking here. It was not the time I thought I could go but that had to do with the hot conditions we had to race in. My run time was one of the better ones in the pro race with a time of 1 hr. 20 minutes. The place was higher than I imagined I would be and I was really excited about that. The 5 guys who beat me are all full-time triathletes and I later learned I was the 2nd American finisher. The top 2 were from Australia, 3rd was the Little Caesar's guy who is from Texas, 4th was from the UK, and 5th from New Zealand, and then the guy from Le Claire, IA. 7th was from New Zealand, 8th from Australia, and 9th was from Clinton, training buddy Adam Bohach!! Adam was the top amateur, beat 1/2 the pro field, and ran the fastest 1/2 marathon of anyone in the race at 1:17:00. I was super excited that we both had such great races. I don't think it's a coincidence that only 3 of the top 9 guys were from the US and 2 of us train together and live 20 miles apart. I don't think I could have had the result I did without finding Adam to train with this winter. It was a tough day on the course with the heat so intense. Congratulations to all the finishers who did this race. What an awesome way to celebrate physical fitness by being able to do a 1/2 Ironman on a very hot day. That is definitely what Live Uncommon aims to see more of...people being active and striving towards goals while maintaining balance in life.
I met Jen at the finish line and she was really excited for me. She knew I was pretty pumped up as I was finally able to put my arms up in celebration at the end of a race. Thanks to my good friends Zeb and Jazzie for making the trip up from Chicago to watch. It was awesome getting time checks from Zeb during the run. About a month ago I was getting lots of advice from people about how I should probably not be coaching myself. I never doubted my fitness and kept positive even when the past races were having crazy things like extra loops around tractors and bike crashes going on. I knew I was fit and it felt good to reaffirm to myself that I can do okay making my own training plan. With 2 kids, a wife, and a full-time job I enjoy making my own training schedule and being able to put my family first. I like being able to organize my own workouts around our crazy family schedule. I like testing myself with Training Camps like I had a month ago. I knew that would tear myself apart but I also trusted that I would come out of it a few weeks later stronger than ever. I think it worked out just like I was hoping. I'll spend this week recovering and then next week I'll do a 5 day training camp before a week of higher intensity. Following that week I'll get rested up and hope for an even better race at Steelhead 70.3. After earning my pro license I was set on proving that I belonged. Yesterday I certainly proved that I belong in the pro field. Now I'll be aiming to climb the ladder to higher places...and maybe even earn some money racing...I missed by 1 place yesterday. What started out as a "Big Dream" is beginning to take shape. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Live Uncommon at WQAD and FOX news!


WQAD and FOX news ran a story on Live Uncommon. Thanks to FOX anchor Kim Johnson for doing this. Spread the world. Live Uncommon. Check out to learn more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Time to reflect...

On Saturday I was out for a 106 mile bike ride and as I made a turn in the last 20 miles I crossed paths with local triathlete Tom Fitzpatrick. Tom and I rode together for about 15 miles and as we talked he shared a story with me that made me reflect on how far I've come in the past 3 years. Tom recalled a story from 2008. Going into the summer of 2008 I had always trained and raced in the summer but really let myself get out of shape during the school year. I was teaching full-time and coaching 3 sports which was basically the entire year. Jen gave birth to Payton on June 1 of 2008 and I was in pretty sad shape. I was weighing nearly 200 lbs. and I thought I was in such bad shape I should probably not race that summer. I got a phone call from a guy named Stephan Marsh who had recently graduated from the University of Iowa. Stephan had been doing triathlons for 1 year and wanted to get together for some training in 2008 while he was home for the summer. I told him I was in terrible shape and didn't think I would race that summer. He said, "You don't have to race, but at least come train with me so you can get back in shape." I reluctantly took him up on the offer. I vividly remember the first time we got together to ride. I asked him how far he wanted to go and he said, "50 miles." 50 miles!! That was about 20 miles longer than my previous long rides in the years past. I went with him on this early June ride and made it all 50 miles. I had a sense of accomplishment...doing something I didn't think I could do. After training with Stephan for a week I decided to sign up for the QC Triathlon. The next week I recall going to the track with Stephan for 8x 400 meters in 85 seconds. I was hurting so bad I had to abandon the workout mid-way through and just cheer him on. I went into the QC Triathlon weighing 196 lbs (as you can tell from the picture...and yes, I know I should not have worn the short jammer). My wetsuit was only supposed to fit someone up to 188 so it was a BIG stretch to fit in it. Tom recalled that during the race he got on the bike and could see me up the road. He reeled me in and passed me and went on to beat me by about 30 seconds in the race. I finished 17th. Results from that race can be found by clicking here. Over the next 4 weeks I trained like crazy with Stephan. I gained lots of confidence. I changed my eating habits. My good friend Chris Coon had placed 4th in the QC Triathlon and told me if I wanted to lose weight I needed to start running more. I took his advice and the weight started coming off. I was losing 3-4 lbs. each week. I went to an Olympic Distance race in Burlington, Iowa about 4 weeks after the QC Triathlon. I had lost about 15 lbs. I was feeling much better. I placed 4th in 2:07:44. Although this was a big improvement for me it was still 11 minutes behind rookie pro triathlete Daniel Bretscher from Indiana. Tom Fitzpatrick was also at the race. He was ahead of me after the swim but I passed him early on in the bike portion and went on to beat him by about 20 minutes. He recalled how he couldn't believe in a month's time he had gone from beating me to finishing 20 minutes behind me. Results from that race can be found by clicking here. After this race I recall some guy I didn't know coming up to me at the end. He said, "Wow, that was an incredible performance!" I said, "No, you must be mistaking, I didn't win. Those guys over there all beat me." He said, "I know, but look at you...I don't want this to sound bad but you are a big guy. You are carrying a lot of extra weight. Those guys are all 5% body fat. What are you?" I hadn't thought about it because here I was in a race where I had just lost 15 lbs. and yet I was still overweight...and it was noticable." I was probably still near 20% body fat. He asked me if I had ever tried losing weight...not realizing I had just cut 15 lbs. over the past month. That conversation stuck with me. I talked briefly with Daniel Bretscher about being a pro triathlete. He is still a pro triathlete and one I really look up to. All of a sudden the wheels in my mind were turning. I knew how much improvment I had made in just one month. I started to wonder how much improvment I could make if I trained every day through the year like I had over the past month. How fast could I be if I ate healthy and didn't get fat through the year. The more I thought about this over the next couple weeks the more obsessed I became with the idea of giving it a shot. I had a vision of how fit I would different I would look. I knew it would mean that I would have to resign all three of the coaching positions I had. I began to look up results of pro races and I thought..."This is something I can do if I devote myself to the sport." I had this BIG DREAM of becoming a professional triathlete..and it seemed so far away. In early August I went to meet Jen at lunch at the Arsenal. I was as giddy as a teenager who had just talked to a pretty girl. As we were eating lunch I shared with her what I had been thinking about the past couple weeks. I asked her what she thought and she was 100% supportive. I was in. Following the fall cross country season (my last in coaching) I began the journey on November 3 with a goal of becoming a professional triathlete. The next October I won the Longhorn 70.3 amateur race earning the right to turn professional. I knew there were many people who questioned whether or not I was really good enough to belong in the professional division. It was then that my goal turned to proving that I belong in the pro division. To date that goal has not been achieved. Next Sunday, I'll be competing in the Ironman Racine 70.3 event and I intend to prove I belong. I am currently as confident as I've ever been going into a race. My fitness is beyond anywhere I've ever been. I am where I envisioned myself being fitness wise 3 years ago when this crazy idea was going through my mind. Now it's time to execute. I just finished another great week. 60 miles running, 287 biking, 16,500 yards swimming. I did my tempo run with Super Mom during a 4 mile race in Eldridge on Saturday called the Moonlight Chase. She set the course record by about 25 seconds running 23:14. My tempo pace is about 5:45/mile right now which happens to be my goal 1/2 IM run pace. We were a bit fast through mile 1 (5:34) and then ran about 5:50's the rest of the way. It felt so relaxed and easy. I kept thinking if I can get off the bike with decent run legs I can sustain this pace for the rest of the race next weekend. My goal for the race is to swim 28:00, bike 2:12, and run 1:18. Adding in transition times that would put me in the 4 hr. 2 minute range. If everything goes perfect I may be able to be a little faster than that but expecting a perfect race is tough. The race can be tracked at Ironman Live at On Sunday you will see a link for Racine and if you click on the Live Results they typically update the splits as the race is happening. Some of the races have multiple timing mats during the bike and run portions so you can track the progress through the race. If you click on my name in the results it should give the splits. I'm doing a 5 day taper for this race which begins on Tuesday. It will be the most rested I've been in 8 weeks and I expect a good result.

On Wednesday this past week I opened the paper to see an article that highlighted the staggering number of obese persons in the U.S. That number has increased in dramatic proportions over the past 10 years. I began to wonder if I would have been included in that statistic had I not made that decision to go "all in" back in 2008. It is why Jen and I are adamently supporting the cause called "Live Uncommon". We hope to inspire people in our community and beyond to live active and healthy lifestyles while maintaining balance in a busy life. Visit to see what it's all about. You can make a difference. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 35 Summary...Self Confidence

It's pretty hard for me to believe I'm typing 35 in the title this week. My how quickly the weeks go by. It's even tougher for me to believe how short a 9 week high school season sounds to me now when I used to think it was a long time. It always amazes me how quickly some of those kids can get in shape. If I had 9 weeks to go from 0 to 60 I think I would be in BIG trouble. Week 35 was a great one. I biked 200 miles, swam 13,000 yards, and ran 59 miles. I am still lifting weights 3 times a week along with doing jump rope, lunges, push-ups, speed drills, and strides. My training buddy Adam Bohach and I like to bounce ideas off each other. We're both self coached and competing at a very high level...he is coming off a 2 hr. 26 minute marathon. We are both doing Racine 70.3 next weekend and we will both finish our year off with an Ironman in the fall...his in Hawaii and mine in Madison. We also both love to train like crazy. The best things we can remind each other are the importance of rest days to allow our bodies to adapt to the training we are doing. I knew it was very important to not go crazy in the weeks following my training camp. I wanted to allow my body to adapt to that crazy week of purposeful overtraining. I have cut my training time the last couple weeks to between 24 and 27 hours. Everything is really starting to click right now exactly how I wanted it to as I enter the last 10 weeks of my training/racing year. Really the first 35 weeks was all about getting my body ready to perform well over these last 10. I couldn't be more confident as my big races of Racine 70.3, Steelhead 70.3 and Ironman Madison loom on the horizon.

The importance of self-confidence is a topic I've addressed often with teams and athletes I've coached. In my opinion it may be the most important factor of racing well. Confidence is faked all the time and fake self-confidence rarely ever works. Kids I've coached often tell me they are ready to run well in big meets but you can tell they are just trying to stay positive and convince themselves they are ready. For self-confidence to be effective there must be a deep inner doubts about it kind of belief that a great race is going to happen. It cannot be gained from a single "fire them up" kind of speech. Real self-confidence takes time to establish. It can be gained from great races leading up to bigger ones. It can be gained from great workouts. A combination of both is often effective. It can be gained from believing in the plan and then sticking to it. As I approach my biggest races of the year my confidence is at an all-time high. My workouts over the last 2 weeks have gone better than I could have written them up. I am swimming better than I ever have thanks to help from Stacey Zapolski. My last two races have been great swims. I have also benefitted from doing open water swims once or twice a week with Adam. We work on leading and drafting each other as we navigate through courses we lay out on the lake. It's been very helpful. I believe I can keep the gap to the leaders under 4:30 compared to 9 minutes I was behind exiting the water in San Juan. I think I can be 3:00 to the main field instead of 7 minutes in San Juan. The Xterra Vendetta also helps me a lot compared to the non-wetsuit swim in San Juan. I am biking at a level I never have. My body has adapted to the volume of training camp and now with a lower volume I'm getting good quality intervals and my favorite ride which is our local Wednesday night group ride that always turns into a hammerfest. I am running workouts better than ever. Today was 10x 800 meters with 90 seconds rest under the warm sun at Augustana and I got faster on nearly every one starting at 2:37 and cutting down to 2:30. Last Friday was a progressive 6 mile tempo run in 34:22 that I began at 6:00 for the first mile and cut down to 5:18. I'm averaging 62 miles/week over the past month and my body has adapted to that volume very well. I was at a good friend's wedding in Cincinnati over the weekend and I ran 19.5 miles in hot, humid conditions on Sunday and it felt awesome. What I gained confidence from was not the run but how fast my legs recovered. On Monday I wasn't a bit sore from it. I rarely ever train with a heart rate monitor but last week I put it on twice just to check in. The first time was for a workout on the track where I also brought my bike trainer. I did 12x 3 minutes on the bike at 270 watts before jumping off to run 400 meters. I ran them in 76 seconds and the highest my heart rate got was 152. It mostly stayed in the mid-140's. During a very difficult bike interval workout Saturday morning before I took off for the wedding my heart rate maxed out at 142. I don't know a lot about heart rate but I know that's much lower than I was for hard workouts 5 months ago. I also know that on my minute easy periods it would drop from 140 to 115 which also showed me how fast I recover during workouts. I have had complete trust in my training plan. I know I'm ready to race faster than I ever have in the past. Now it's a matter of getting to the starting line without anything crazy happening which is why I got worried when I rolled my ankle pretty hard on my cool down today. It's going to take something like that or a flat tire to keep me from my best race ever next weekend in Racine. My inner-confidence is real. As deep down as it goes I know I'm more fit than I've ever been before.

It has been awesome seeing the number of "Live Uncommon" shirts increase each week at Bix at 6. If you haven't been to the website check out It is an awesome initiative created to encourage active and healthy lifestyles. It's been so much fun to see people get excited about working out. Jen said she saw a quite a few new people in Live Uncommon shirts while she was at the Firecracker Run in East Moline on Monday. She won the 5k in 17:45 missing the course record by only 1 second. Super Mom is back! Last week I mentioned the importance of investing in one's health. Over the winter I ran into a guy I went to high school with. I barely recognized him. From a young age he struggled with an extreme case of obesity. He was the kind of kid who was wheezing when he sat down in class just from the walk through the hallways from his previous class. His obesity only got worse as he got older. He probably weighed near 300 pounds entering high school and I bet weighed about 400 last year. When I saw him I could tell he has lost a bunch of weight. I asked him about it and he said he has lost 100 pounds. He said he realized his life was going to be cut short and he wouldn't live to watch his daugther grow up unless he did something about it. He invested in a personal trainer and got a membership to Snap Fitness in our hometown of Le Claire. He said it was the best investment he had ever made and he was going to continue losing weight. That is what Live Uncommon is all about. Make a committment to be active. Not only are you doing it for yourself but for those who love you. If you have children you are setting an example for them that physical fitness is important. They see it and they grow up knowing that it should be part of the daily lifestyle. The reason I love triathlon is because of the healthy lifestyle that is required to see improvments regardless of ability level. It is all about a personal journey to fitness. Check out Live Uncommon and be an ambassador in your community or workplace by encouraging those around you to live healthy by Living Uncommon.

Speaking of Live Uncommon, while I was on my 19.5 mile run in Cincinnati I ran across the Ohio River into Kentucky and I went a few blocks too far into the wrong part of town. I had on a Live Uncommon jersey and I didn't think I was going to escape with it on my back. While running through what I will call a ghetto I began hearing people shouting to me about my awesome Live Uncommon jersey. Long story short is that the jersey looked so awesome they wanted to keep it and I had to drop in a sub-6 mile in the middle of my run to escape with it on my back. You can get your own Live Uncommon shirt at

Thanks for reading. Keep working hard. And as always...DREAM BIG!!