Thursday, December 20, 2012

IM AZ Offseason Update

It's been a long time since I've posted.  After getting home from Arizona I let it slip and I focused my attention to my coaching position and didn't even want to think about training or triathlons so I haven't updated since the race.  I've had a lot of people asking me about what the future holds and since we have a snow day today I figured it was a great time to update. 
The race in Arizona was very tough.  I knew the training going in hadn't been ideal but tried to stay positive and hope for the best.  I had been dealing with some nagging injuries and overall fatigue that caused me to train much less for this race than for last year's.  Jen and I flew in on Thursday night and met good friends Adam and Flannery in Arizona.  We enjoyed spending time with them leading up to the race. 
SWIM: I was very pleased with how the swim went.  I had not put in the yardage that I had early in the year or the amount I did before last year's race.  From the sound of the cannon I was swimming with people which sometimes has been difficult for me in the pro race.  Nearly the entire swim I was either on someone's feet or had someone on my feet.  I felt very comfortable and felt I was having a great swim throughout.  I kept thinking I was going to be under 1 hour until I got out of the water and saw 1 hr. 3 minutes on the clock.  I was okay with this.  It was the same time I swam a year ago and I didn't feel nearly as prepared.  I had a nice fall right after climbing the stairs upon my exit of Tempe Town Lake.  Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman made sure to point out to spectators that I had just wiped out when I went to step down on dry land. 
BIKE:  This is where my lack of training caught up to me.  I was hoping for a good ride despite much less bike volume but it was clear early on I did not have the power I was hoping for.  I had perfect opportunities with 3 great riders out of the water behind me.  When each of them went by me I would up the effort to try to stay 10 meters back of them but with each one I was able to hang on for less and less time.  I was cooking myself way to early on the 3 lap course.  At one point I was riding back and forth with women's world champion Leanda Cave and I kept telling myself that she would break 9 hours so I was in a good spot.  As it turned out she was having a rough day and I was leave her on the 2nd lap and ride solo for much of the remaining bike course.  By the 3rd lap I was in a world of hurt and my speed had gone down considerably.  I knew it was going to be a very painful day. 
RUN: I had nothing early on in the run.  I was struggling to run 7 minute miles and knew this was going to be a suffer fest.  I doubted at times if I was going to finish the race.  I began walking through aid stations by mile 6 and by mile 10 I was walking even more than the aid stations.  My goal was to finish at this point but it seemed like forever away.  It's a daunting feeling to know you have to run a marathon when things are going poorly from the first mile.  I had a lot of trouble getting my knees up on my run and my stride was shorter than a 90 year old lady walking into Wal-Mart.  It felt like an eternity but finally I could see the finish line and I was thrilled to cross it.  I have finished 4 Ironman distance races now.  2 have gone really well and 2 really poorly.  I have learned the bad days are 100x more difficult than the good ones.  I was really glad I could finish this race.  It was an enjoyable trip minus the last 5 hours of the race.  Jen and I had a great time with Adam and Flannery.  Adam finished in just over 9 hours so we will continue our quest to break the 9 hour barrier next year. 

About 6 weeks before this race I was approached by our head varsity girls basketball coach about coaching our 9th grade girls team.  I was really excited about the chance to get back into coaching.  I knew the way my 2012 season went I would want to train less early in the year because I felt like I was in my best shape in April with no big races for a few more months.  The coaching position seemed to make sense to me if they could work through the first 2 weeks with me while I finished up my triathlon season.  They agreed and I've had a lot of fun coaching our freshman girls team.  It has been a struggle to get them to bring intensity and hard work every day to practice and games.  That has been my biggest challenge.  When I decide to do something I tend to do it with 100% effort whether it's teaching, coaching, triathlons, being a father, husband, or playing "Go Fish" with our kids.  I may be the only 9th grade girls coach around that goes and scouts other teams and watches film for hours.  I do it because I want to feel prepared to the best of my abilities.  Coaching this team has filled my competitive void while I've been on a break from training and racing.  I have rarely even thought about the upcoming year.  It's been a great break mentally and physically.  I'm not sure why but I have not gained nearly as much weight as I normally do in my offseason.  I'm still fitting into my "in season" jeans which has never happened within 2 weeks of my season being over.  I weighed myself for the first time since the season ended a couple days ago and I had only gained 6 pounds.  My plan is to start running and biking after January 1st.  I will wait to begin swimming until basketball is over in early February.  My excitement for 2013 is beginning to grow.  I don't have a 100% race schedule yet but I know for certain I will race Rev3 Cedar Point for my peak race of the year.  That company puts athletes first and I loved my first Rev3 experiece.  That race will be in early September.  I also know I don't want to begin training really hard until the end of February.  I want to peak at the right time this year and go into my biggest races feeling my best rather than feeling like I'm holding on by a thread.  I'd like to thank all the supporters and followers for keeping me motivated through the ups and downs of 2012 that had 4 race wins.  Healthy Habits has been amazing at keeping my bike needs met.  I really enjoyed my first year on the Specialized Shiv.  Kaminski Pain and Performance Care has been there for me since the beginning of this journey and has kept me healthy for the past 2 years.  I have not missed a workout or race due to an serious injury.  Mike Eskridge is a massage therapist who has really helped keep me feeling fresh going into races when I begin to feel overtrained.  GU Energy has been amazing at keeping me fueled for workouts and races.  Xterra Wetsuits has always been my choice of wetsuit companies because they keep wetsuits affordable for people who want to give this healthy sport a try.  My wife Jen has put up with my crazy training schedule while I attempt to balance all of life's demands with 100% effort.  I'm so grateful to have her as a life partner. 
 

Since my race nearly 5 weeks ago I've done sit-ups once, jumped rope twice, and done defensive slides with our team once.  The lane slides made me really sore the next day.  That has been the extent of my workouts over the past 5 weeks.  My body feels really good.  For the first time in nearly a year and a half I don't have any tightness in my left hamstring and nothing else hurts.  I told Jen I feel like I have more bounce in my step and spring in my legs than I have in a long time.  Soon I'll be back on the bike dreaming of big things in 2013.  If you've never done a triathlon before think about making one a goal in 2013.  The lifestyle approach to training is such a positive one.  This journey has been great and it's not finished yet.  I still have goals I want to accomplish in the sport before I relax back into age group racing.  Thanks for reading.  Have a GREAT holiday season and DREAM BIG in 2013. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

IMAZ Race Week...Goals for Sunday

It's finally race week for Ironman Arizona.  It seems like forever since I last raced 10 weeks ago at Rev3 in Ohio.  After a week off I began a very strong training plan that faded after about 4 weeks.  Life got busier than I expected and the training plan began to fall apart.  Last year I took great confidence with me to Arizona knowing the training had gone 100% the way I drew it up.  This year has been much different but I'm still going into the race with cautious optimism.  I feel strong and I feel rested.  My only worries are some nagging injuries that have slowed my training.  They have never caused me to stop a workout but they did cause me to be much more cautious with my running volume and intensity levels.  I have only run about 25 miles/week the past 3 weeks.  This is much less than the 60 miles/week I was running last year in my Arizona prep.  I know the course having raced it a year ago so I know what to expect.  The weather is still on track to be very nice with cool temps early in the day with very light winds.  The winds may be greater once we get out in the dessert than they are in Tempe where I checked the weather.  Last year the first two loops of 3 on the bike were very calm but the wind really kicked up on the last loop and I found out how tough that could make the ride.  I'm hoping the wind stays calm because I'm really racing against the clock at this year's event hoping to break 9 hours.  That is certainly my # 1 goal.  To do that I have set out some other goals for the race.  Last year I finished 32nd in the guys pro field of 54 that started the race and my finish time was 9 hrs. 5 minutes.  I REALLY crumbled the last 10k of the run which I entered under 9 hr. pace. 
SWIM: Last year I swam 1 hr. 2 minutes.  This year I have swam much less over the past 10 weeks compared to what I was swimming a year ago.  For my swim goal I would like to be 1 hr. 4 minutes or less.  My swim times in training have been surprisingly good for my standards as of late so I'm optimistic that I may be able to go under 1 hr. 4 minutes but I realize an Ironman swim is a long one and my lack of yardage may hurt me in the 2nd half of the swim.  However, based on times I would not be shocked to swim faster than a year ago.  Last year I swam too easy early on.  I was on my own from the beginning and it made for a long solo swim.  After the race I wished that I had gone harder early in the swim to take advantage of drafting anyone for a longer period of time.  This year I will swim harder early on and when I get dropped I will relax and try to recover a bit before getting into a nice rhythm.  The females now start 5 minutes after us and I'd like to be past the 1/2 way point before the first females go by me.  If I can stay in the draft longer I think that is possible. 
BIKE: Last year I surprised myself with a 4 hr. 46 minute bike split.  My goal for the race was 4 hrs. 55 minutes.  I split each loop of the 3 loop course and I knew I was way under pace through the first two loops and I gained a lot of confidence from that fact.  I have only ridden over 90 miles at a time once since Rev3 Ohio and I've only been outside on my bike about 6 times.  The rest of the miles have been logged on the trainer.  Knowing that I'm a bit worried that I may not be able to equal my bike split from a year ago.  My bike goal this year is 4 hrs. 50 minutes.  My interval workouts on the trainer as of late have indicated an increase in my power over a month ago so I'm optimistically hoping to be faster than my stated goal time.  I put down 4 hrs. 50 minutes hoping that I can be under that pace through each lap which will give me confidence once again this year.  It's a mental game really.  It's tougher to keep pushing when you realize the goal is not going to be met.  I do plan to ride really hard.  I've never had a race when I thought my running suffered due to my bike effort and I've had plenty where I've biked extremely hard. 
RUN:  Last year I entered the run needing to go 3 hrs. 4 minutes to break 9 hours.  It was something I thought was very reasonable.  I started out too fast.  I felt great and let my adrenaline take over and I went through 10 miles in 1 hr. 2 minutes which included a stop at the porta-potty.  I was running nearly 6 minute pace through the first 10 miles but I fell apart badly shortly after that and it made for an extremely painful last half marathon including a final 10k run at over 9 minute pace without any walking in it.  At mile 20 I was still under 9 hour pace but I had nothing left.  I ended up running 3 hrs. 10 minutes.  This year if I swim 1 hr. 4 minutes and bike 4 hrs. 50 minutes I will need to break 3 hours for the marathon when you factor in 6 minutes for transition.  I know I am a good enough runner to break 3 hours but the nutrition plan would have to go flawlessly.  I know if I get off the bike needing to run 3 hours I at least have a shot of breaking 9 hours.  With that said I would feel much better about my chances if I could build in a 5 minute cushion or more between the swim and bike.  I have learned that I need to treat the opening miles of the marathon as a training run.  I can recover and run 7 minute mile pace at the same time.  It happened in Ohio when I got off the bike compeltely fried after missing my special needs bike bag and losing out on 1200 calories.  My plan is to take a GU at every mile along with coke and water.  I have GU Roctane drink in my special needs bag for the 1/2 way point.  I really need to get to the 1/2 way point on pace without feeling like I'm hitting the wall at that point.  If all goes to plan I hope to finish under 9 hours. 
My other goal for the race is to place in the top 25 overall.  There are 45 guys on the pro start list and some of those won't show up.  Despite what the time is for the race this goal will hopefully keep me focused if I do slip off the pace.  I would feel good about finishing in the top 25 after being 39th last year.  I don't know if they are televising the race through the internet or not but they should have live results at various points in the race at www.ironman.com if you want to check in on my progress throughout the day.  I'm sure they will at a minimum have the finish line video going and I hope to finish around 3:45 Arizona time which would be 4:45 central time.  The race starts for pro guys at 6:45 am in Arizona which is 7:45 in the central time zone.  I am super excited about competing and chasing these goals.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life...plus Ironman Training

Last year in training for Ironman Arizona I had 7 straight weeks of solid training.  I hit every weekly goal I set out to hit.  The training plan went flawless and I had my Ironman PR of 9 hr. 5 minutes.  This year has been much different.  I have only hit all my weekly goals once in my lead up to Ironman Arizona.  My volume of training has been much less.  What has been different?  I'm extremely motivated to try to break 9 hours this year.  For some reason this year I have been much more tired.  I lay in bed with Owen to get him asleep and I fall asleep myself.  A year ago I would have woke up and gotten my butt on the bike.  This year I head to bed.  Last year I had so much energy I would get up before school and ride the bike some more.  This year I've only ridden twice before school.  I just can't seem to find the energy to get myself up.  Last year I avoided all junk food for 7 weeks before the race...this year has been much different.  Between getting sick myself, Owen's broken foot, parent/teacher conferences, kids activities, a busy teaching schedule...I just haven't trained as much as last year.  I have had 3 nagging injuries that aren't serious but have me cutting back the running mileage to half of what I was putting in a year ago.  I have swam less than last year.  Life is busy and I'd say I'm in the transition of finding out if I can still compete at a high level despite not training as much as I used to.  I believe I can.  I believe despite the lower amount of overall training I can still break 9 hours.  I used to correlate my fitness with how much training I was doing.  I can't do that now or I'd have no confidence.  Now I'm drawing on what I've learned about rest and recovery through my own experiences and those of others.  I have a student in my class who is a great young triathlete and a year-round club swimmer.  He has been on a training break recently and has only been swimming 3 days a week for the past 8 weeks.  In his first swim meet on much less training than he has done in the past he swam lifetime bests in 5 of his 6 events!  The power of rest...I watched Ironman Florida this past weekend and saw Andrew Starykowicz win the race and set a world best Ironman bike split of 4 hrs. 4 minutes after missing 5 months of training following his accident in Abu Dhabi.  The power of rest...I raced a full-Ironman distance at Rev 3 in Ohio 8 weeks ago on very little training and had a very solid race despite feeling like I shouldn't be racing Ironman...the power of rest.  Although I'm about 4 lbs. more than I was for Ironman Arizona last year I believe I'm stronger than ever.  The weights on my leg lifts have been moved to levels I've never lifted before.  My bike interval focus the past two weeks have me feeling stronger on the bike.  My swimming is where I'm getting my biggest surprise.  On almost 1/2 the yards of a year ago in this IMAZ lead in I'm swimming times at or better than I was.  I am confident I will not lose any time on the swim over a year ago.  My long runs have gotten better each time and now I'm being very careful not to overdo it and let these small injuries become big ones.  Mostly, I'm anxious to compete.  I love the feeling of being in a competition.  I know it's time to toe the line and find out what I can do.  I've missed the feeling of competition since my race in Ohio.  I realized that when I was accusing Payton of cheating in a game of "Go Fish" recently.  I'm anxious to board the plane in 9 days and see if I can push myself to a sub-9 hour finish.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 5 IMAZ Training Summary

Week 5 started out looking like another big week of volume but on Thursday I started to come down with a sickness and I was not feeling like I had much energy so I backed off Thursday through Saturday so I could be well rested for my last really long run leading up to Ironman Arizona.  I was able to get in 20 miles running on Sunday morning and it felt really great except for tightness lingering in my left hamstring.  I had a massage from Mike Eskridge and ART from Dr. Lake at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care to help relieve the tightness in my hamstring.  I averaged 6:51/mile for the 20 miles which was a good sign.  I rarely wear the GPS for my long runs but have done so on my last 3 of them.  I went from a 7:10 average for 17 miles a month ago to a 6:55 average for 18 miles two weeks ago to 6:51 for 20 miles this past weekend.  I was most happy that my average pace was still dropping in the last 1/2 of my run where a month ago I was gaining time on the ladder half of the long run.  With this hamstring lingering and my right arch still swollen and a bit sore I am making a decision to cut my running mileage down now so I can focus on being a bit fresher for my hard bike workouts.  I know my running is pretty good right now and I'll still keep my average run/day high in the coming weeks but I will probably start running 5 days a week instead of all 7.  This past week I hit 54 miles running on just 5 days.  I biked 175 miles on 5 days of riding and I swam 13,000 yards after planning to swim 16,000 yards.  I want to make sure I get to this race healthy and that means cutting back the running mileage.  I'm far ahead of where I was in terms of my running compared to Rev 3 when I was only running 30-35 miles/week and managed to run 3 hrs. 12 minutes for the marathon.  I'd like to run 3:05 or faster in Arizona with a big goal of running sub-3.  I have learned that I need to take in more nutrition on the run.  In my past Ironman races I've taken in coke and water at the aid stations on the run but mostly skipped other calories until I started to fall apart which is too late.  I plan to make sure I'm taking in a GU at every aid station on the run.  To make sure I can do this without having a stomach that is sick of GU by the run I will stick with GU chomps on the bike ride and save the GU gel until the run.  In addition to Chomps I also have my special GU Ironman brew that has about 850 calories in the bottle.  I start the bike ride with one of those bottles and if special needs is in order I will take on another bottle of this mix at that point.  I will also have 20 ounces of coke at special needs on the bike that I will take in.  For my long run this weekend I looped past my car a few times and took in more nutrition than I have in my past long runs and I think that is why I still felt as strong when I finished the run as when I began it.  I did have to stop and stretch my tight left hamstring twice during the run.  I'm hoping to not have to do that in the race but if I must it is a quick fix.  Just 1 minute of stretching and I could feel a big change in my stride rhythm.  My hope is that by backing off my running mileage now and working in some regular ART and ice baths I can have it good enough that it won't be an issue come 4 weeks when it's time to race.  My focus the next couple weeks is to get some good quality bike interval workouts so I know my power numbers are high like they were going into Rev 3.  Over half of the race is spent on the bike and I need that to be a strength of mine.  I saw the first start list published last week and there were about 50 pro guys listed which is considerably less than were on the list a year ago.  They could still add in some guys who raced in Kona but I'm guessing the field will be smaller.  Last year there were 90 guys on the start list and 54 actually started.  If the number hangs around 50 I would guess 30-35 will actually be there.  I was super excited to see my bib # is 1 different than my good friend Adam Bohach so we will be set up right next to each other in transition.  That will give me some additional comfort come race morning knowing I'm right next to the guy I've spent more time training with than anyone else over the past year and a half.  4 weeks to go...Thanks for reading!!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

IMAZ Week 4 Training Summary

My 4th week of training for IM AZ was my best week in months.  My total training time this week was 25.5 hrs. which was my highest since early July.  For the week I ran 60 miles, biked 200 miles, and swam 15,200 yards.  I also lifted weights, did lunges, jump rope, push-ups, pull-ups, speed drills, and strides all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work 13 times.  One of my big goals for this race was to get leaner.  At Rev3 in Ohio I was heavy carrying a lot of unwanted weight on my stomach.  Before I started week 1 I weighed in at 166 lbs.  By the weeks I have gone 164, 161, 159 and 158 where I am currently.  The weight has not come off as quickly as I thought it would but I can tell I'm gaining muscle so that will make it difficult to lose weight.  I'm definitely more lean than I was.  I'm fitting into shorts I couldn't fit into 4 weeks ago.  I'm wearing belts for shorts that I didn't need them for just a month ago.  I'm excited about the progress I'm making in this area.  I'm trying to make sure I don't lose muscle like I did in April when I got my weight down into the 140's.  Yesterday I bumped up my leg lifts to the highest weight I've ever done on them.  I'm getting more excited for Ironman Arizona every day.  I'm not ready to break 9 hours quite yet but I believe I'm on schedule to do so Nov. 18th if we get decent weather.  After running 76 miles over a 7 day stretch from last Sunday through this past Saturday I noticed I had some swelling and a little pain in the arch of my right foot so that is something I'll keep a close eye on.  If I have to cut back my running mileage a bit it won't frustrate me.  By having my legs more rested I'll be able to have better bike interval workouts.  Right now my legs are feeling the effects of the high running mileage and I'm not putting out the power I'd like to on my bike intervals.  I am feeling much faster in the pool than I was a month ago when I felt like a barge making little progress.  One of my favorite test sets is to do repeat 200's.  When I was swimming 20,000 yards a week in the summer I would do 10 of them on 3:00 and typically average 2:43 for each one.  My best ever average is 2:41 when doing them on 3:00.  Last week I did 8 of them on 3:10 and averaged 2:47.  This week I did 10 of them on 3:10 and averaged 2:43.  That was the morning after a 5.5 hour workout day so I was expecting to be a little tired.  I was very excited about the progress.  This week I'll do 10 of them again but on the 3:05 to see how that affects my average time.  I'm hoping to average the same on slightly less rest.  I'm sticking with my swim plan of adding 1,000 yards each week until the week before the race when I will cut back the yardage. 
Saturday was the Walk for Wishes 5k run and 1 mile walk to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation.  Last year the Walk for Wishes only had 40 people register.  This year was over 200!  Despite terrible weather with pouring rain they raised over $8,000 for this great cause.  My biggest area of concern right now is my lack of outdoor bike rides.  I was able to get 16 miles outdoors yesterday (my first outdoor ride in 16 days) before it got dark.  I typically do my running, swimming, and lifting after school and save my biking for after the kids are sleeping when I go on the trainer.  I don't ride that much in the aero position while riding on the trainer and that has me a little worried about how my back will feel riding almost the entire course in Arizona from the aero position.  I'm hoping the weather will finally cooperate this weekend so I can get out for a long ride.  This week should be another big one in terms of volume.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IMAZ Week 3 Training Summary

3 weeks into training for Ironman Arizona with 6 remaining.  Coming off a big weekend of training I felt really sluggish on Monday.  I continue to have some deep hamstring tightness but I also had some really deep quad soreness to add to the mix.  I headed out Tuesday to run after a pretty big day on Monday and I had to decide quickly what to do.  I felt like I had been trying to push myself through this dead leg feeling for a week or so.  I had experienced little rhythm at all in my running.  Running typically feels effortless at a base mileage pace when I'm in good shape and recovering well.  It normally takes me 10 days of consistent training to get to the feeling where running is easy.  I was on day 16 of training and felt terrible.  Even an easy run pace felt difficult.  I stopped my run about 1 minute in and decided I would take 3 days off of running.  I took Tuesday completely off, just biked for 90 minutes on Wednesday and then Thursday biked for 90 minutes easy to go along with a 90 minute swim workout.  When I resumed running on Friday I felt very good.  The deep soreness had disappeared.  Now I finally feel like I'm recovering well.  Sunday I ran 18 miles which was my longest training run in over a year.  I felt pretty good but the best sign of my fitness and that my legs were back was how I felt on Monday.  I ran 12 miles on Monday after the long run Sunday and my legs felt 100%.  It's a good sign that I'm finally able to put in high volume and recover quickly from it.  I feel like things are starting to click.  For week 3 my run mileage was down a lot at only 34 miles but I still biked 210 miles and swam 14,000 yards which was my highest swim yardage in 3 months.  I am starting to feel fit in the water again.  I had some good hard sets...not where I was when I was swimming 20,000 yards/week but not too far off that.  I plan to add about 1,000 yards each week to my swimming total until the week before the race when I will cut my yards in half.  I have stayed away from the high intensity workouts since my legs were not recovering but now that they feel good even after high volume I'm ready to start adding back the intensity.  I've been working hard in the weight room staying in there about 3 days every week.  I'm also back to doing plyometrics which I think have helped me develop power in my legs to put out high watts.  The biggest benefit to plyometrics I've noticed over the last few years is how they help me to run off the bike.  When I'm doing plyometrics regularly I can get off the bike and run well without any real period of distress.  When I'm not doing plyometrics in training my legs feel like most people would expect coming off the bike to run.  I rarely ever do brick runs.  I've found  the plyometrics get my legs ready to run off the bike.  I've done more brick running in races this year than I have in workouts.  My plan right now is for the next 4 weeks to be high volume.  I have been doing almost all of my riding indoors on the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer.  That trainer has been so valuable to me.  It allows me to program in the desired wattage which is just as important in my recovery riding as it is my hard workouts.  On the recovery days I set a limit to how high I will allow my watts to get regardless of how good I feel.  I know the goal is to recover so I make sure the wattage stays at a recovery effort.  On the hard days I am able to program in the high wattages to make sure I'm pushing my lactate threshold levels.  This upcoming weekend is the Make a Wish Foundation Walk for Wishes.  It is a 5k run or a 1 mile walk.  It is a big fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish foundation of Iowa.  It would be great to see you there.  The link for sign-up is here.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 2 IMAZ Training Summary

Week 2 of 9 training for Ironman Arizona was my highest week of volume in nearly 2.5 months.  For the week my total training time was 24.5 hours.  I ran 52 miles (highest in many weeks), biked 210 miles, and swam 12,100 yards (highest in many weeks).  I also lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and jump rope all three times, and core work seven times.  I plan to really increase the swim yardage (up to 18,000 yds/week) when I get 5 weeks out from the race.  I've found in the past I can get to about my best swim shape in just a few weeks of higher volume and increased swimming intensity in my main sets.  Right now in the water I'm really focusing on technique and lots of kicking.  I can tell my swim feels much smoother when my legs are kicking well.  The training was modest until the weekend.  On Saturday morning I swam 3,400 yards with a main set of 30x50's on 1 minute holding them in 37-38 seconds fairly comfortably.  After the swim Jen and I took the kids to Clinton to watch a high school cross country meet where I ran 5 miles easy before embarking on a tough 95 mile bike ride with Adam Bohach who was in town to watch his old team at the meet.  The ride featured some tough climbs and the wind was moderately blowing about 15 mph.  I didn't feel especially strong on the ride.  On Sunday morning I ran 15 miles for my weekly long run.  It was a tough run.  My hamstrings have been more tight than usual since I resumed training.  At the 1/2 way point I was averaging 7:03/mile and already felt tired.  I stretched my hamstrings and took a GU at that point.  I was planning to cut the run to 13 miles which would take me back to the house but on the way back I felt better and decided to stick with my original plan of 15.  I finished it with an average pace of 6:59 which meant I got a little faster in the latter part of the run.  I'm hoping to run nearly that exact pace at IM Arizona where I would like to break 3 hours for the run (although I'm hoping not to need a sub-3 hour run to break 9 hours).  I'd like to be off the bike with a little cushion so I can run about 3:08 and still break 9 hours.  I know I'm riding better now and I would like to think I can cut some time off my 4 hr. 46 minute bike split from a year ago.  I also realize my swimming is not where it was yet at this point.  As of now I'm guessing I'd swim 2-3 minutes slower than I did a year ago so I'm going to have to make that up on the bike or get my swimming up to par.  I was happy to hit all my weekly goals and this week should be a slight increase in run mileage and swim yards with perhaps a small drop in bike miles since the day I am planning my long ride is supposed to be terrible and I'll probably be indoors on the trainer instead.  If I'm on the trainer 3 hours at a time is about as much as I will go.  If my legs are recovering well I may be able to add some more time later in the evening but I won't ride 5 hours on the trainer in one day like I had outside this week.  Don't forget about the Walk for Wishes 5k run or 1 mile family walk coming up in Davenport on October 13th.  I signed our family up for the walk this week.  We are proud to support the make a wish foundation and help children with life threatening illnesses be granted a wish.  The website for the walk can be found by clicking here.  The walk has raised nearly $3,500.00 so far.  If you can't participate but want to donate to the Make A Wish foundation you can do that by clicking the link as well.  I'm looking forward to another good week of training as I build my body up for a sub-9 hour effort.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

IMAZ Training Week 1...Super Mom

After taking 1 week completely off of training to recover from Rev3 Cedar Point in Ohio I got back into the swing of things last week.  It was a decent first week back.  Last year I took 2 weeks off after Ironman Wisconsin before resuming.  This year I knew I didn't need 2 weeks off since the 8 weeks leading into Rev3 were not a lot of training.  I felt like I was getting in better shape each week leading into Ohio where last year I felt like I was just barely hanging on by the time I got to IM Wisconsin.  The 2 week break was needed last year but not so much this year.  I felt pretty decent.  Early in the week I could tell I still had some lingering tightness in my hamstrings.  For the week I ran 40 miles, biked 190 miles, and swam only 5,500 yards.  I also got back to the little things I think make a big difference in my training like weight lifting, lunges, plyometrics, core work, pull-ups (I added this one because Jen got a pull-up bar for the basement and has been doing these regularly and I don't want my wife to be able to do more pull-ups than I can do), speed drills, strides, and push-ups.  Where I was most disappointed was with my swimming and my eating.  I planned to begin eating clean because I know I need to get leaner than my current state if I want to break 9 hours in Arizona.  In my week off I gained 9 lbs. and weighed in at 171.  I lost 5 lbs. in the first few days probably mostly water weight but ended the week at 164 which was still higher than what I was for Rev3 by 2 lbs.  I need to get more focused with what I'm eating.  I also know I need to make myself get to the pool.  I've been angry about my swimming since Racine and I've avoided the pool too often.  I need to put that behind me and get back to swimming more.  I realize that the swim is the shortest portion but the field in Arizona will no doubt be huge for the pro race and it could make my race if I can exit the water with a good rider or 2.  This is a bike course I went 4 hrs. 45 minutes on last year and I believe I can go under 4:40...maybe faster if I have the right riders around me. 
My toughest workout of  the week was on Sunday when I ran the Quad Cities 1/2 Marathon with my wife Jen.  Jen had picked this race as her peak race of the year.  Last year she ran 1:21:58.  This year she was hoping to go under 1 hr. 20 minutes.  I knew she was capable of this after running a 10 mile race in 60:30 a few weeks back when she finished 1st overall ahead of all the guys in the race in Orion, IL.  I didn't know how my body would handle a LONG tempo run only 2 weeks post Ironman.  We began at a comfortable pace and went through the mile in 6:10.  We then started cutting the pace down and she went through the 10k mark at a 6:03 average.  We were running the miles after that in the 5:50 range.  My hamstrings were not feeling very good...they were extremely tight and I could tell I was still not at 100%.  On paper the field in the women's race for the 1/2 was loaded.  The QC Marathon does a tremendous job taking care of elites.  They even paid for flights of some of the 1/2 marathon runners despite that not being the marquee race of the event.  One gal from Kenya had a 1/2 marathon PR of 1 hr. 10 minutes.  Another listed was from Uganda as well as a few domestic elites.  Jen was just hoping to run fast and not worry about the place.  At the 10 mile mark she was in 2nd place with a chance to crush her PR.  She began to fade a little in the final 2 miles but held on a for a tremendous time of 1 hr. 19 minutes, 15 seconds.  She finished 2nd and earned 300.00 for that place and a bonus 100.00 for finishing as the top local.  I never expected it but I also was the top local guy which means Jen beat all the local guys so I also got 100.00.  We donated all 500.00 to her younger sister's wedding fund which is coming up in May.  She finished with an average pace of 6:03/mile so actually held solid the second half of the race. 
I know the importance of sleep in performance.  There are countless studies out about the value of sleep and I believe all of them.  Despite this getting adequate sleep is still my toughest challenge.  It's extremely difficult for me to average even 7.5 hours of sleep/night when I'm working full-time, fathering 2 children, and trying to train 20-25 hours a week.  Almost all of my bike miles this time of year come on the trainer after the kids are in bed.  That means I often don't get on the bike until 9:00 at night.  I may ride until 10:30 and by the time I'm done stretching, showering, doing core...etc. it's often 11:30 by the time I get to sleep.  I am up at 6:00 and if I ride 30 minutes in the AM before school I'm up at 5:25.  Doing the math this is not good.  I don't know why but last year in the lead in to Arizona I was training like crazy and sleeping about 6 hours a night.  It never seemed to phase me.  I should have been tired but my motivation trumped my lack of sleep and it never seemed to affect my training or performance like it should have.  This year has been more difficult.  I can tell when I'm tired that I make poor decisions in terms of nutrition and my motivation to train is much less.  My swimming is absolutely terrible when I'm tired...not sure why it seems to affect my swimming more than my running and biking.  On Monday night I went to bed when the kids did and skipped my evening ride.  I slept from 7:30 to 6:10 the next morning and I felt incredible on Tuesday in all my workouts.  The sacrifice however was only 1 hour of training on Monday compared to my usual 3.  I also ate healthy and didn't have the cravings for junk food that I have when I'm tired.  I need to get this problem nailed down so I can have more days like Tuesday without sacrificing training but this is the toughest challenge I face in terms of balancing all of this.  I'm excited to keep building for the next 6.5 weeks before I rest up for the last 10 days prior to IMAZ in hopes of breaking 9 hours.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Make A Wish Walk For Wishes

Following the Rev3 Full Iron distance race on September 9th I took 1 week off of training.  It was a great week of rest and recovery.  I felt decent after the race except for my left piriformus which was so tight I couldn't straighten my left leg out.  Walking was painful on Monday.  On Tuesday I made a visit to Kaminski Pain and Performance Care and Dr. Lake worked her magic and by Wednesday I was walking normally with more range of motion than I could have expected 3 days post IM.  By the weekend I felt 100% and I started workout out again on Monday.  I'm more motivated for training than I've been all year.  I realized in Ohio that a sub-9 hour Ironman is 100% possible in Arizona if we get a decent day of weather.  I need to put in the work to make this happen and I'm excited about putting that work in.  It is a goal I wake up every day thinking about and one I think about often throughout the day.  This is a far cry from a month ago when I wasn't sure I even wanted to train any more this year. 
The title of this post is about an event I am helping promote and volunteering at next month on October 13th in Davenport, Iowa.  It is the Make A Wish Walk/Run for Wishes which is actually a 5k run/walk or a 1 mile family walk to raise money for the local chapter of Make A Wish Foundation.  If you are unfamiliar with the Make A Wish Foundation it is an incredible organization that works to help grant wishes for children who have life-threatening illnesses.  Children who are faced with these extremely difficult illnesses/conditions are given the chance to make a wish that will brighten their lives and give them something to remember forever.  Some children wish to go to Disney World with their family.  The trip is organized and paid for through the Make A Wish foundation.  I have a student in my class whose brother had cancer at a young age and he wished for a trip to Disney World and the family was granted that wish.  I know a young man who was in my brother's graduating class that was born with a severe heart condition and not expected to live long.  His wish was to meet Michael Jordan and the wish was granted through Make A Wish.  He met Michael Jordan for dinner and it was something he talked about until he passed away much later than expected a few years back around the age of 24.  180 wishes were granted in Iowa in 2011.  All the proceeds from this event go to Make A Wish.  You can actually sign up and do the event for free but they are hoping people will choose to at least pay for a shirt which will cost $25.00 with the profits going to Make A Wish.  Last year my family attended the event and did the 1 mile walk together.  It was a great time.  They have lots of activities for kids to do at the finish and there is a park halfway through the walk that our kids stopped and played at.  The event starts and finishes at Modern Woodman Park in Davenport and it takes place on Saturday, October 13th.  The 5k begins at 10:00 am with the 1 mile following at 10:30.  You can sign up online by clicking HERE or you can sign up the morning of the event between 8:30 and the start of the race/walk.  There are lots of options for supporting this cause.  If you want to create a team or have a business that enters as a team you can select that option.  If you want to sign up as an individual or family you can do that as well.  If you would like to just donate towards a team that is already signed up you could do that as well.  Last year this event was attended by about only 50 people.  This year the goal was set at 200 by new race director and friend Kevin Wolfe.  They already have 100 signed up and are well on the way to achieving the goal.  If you'd like more information contact me and if I can't answer I will get you Kevin's contact information.  This is an event where our community has a chance to make a real difference to people.  It's much like the Run for Renewal that saw participation numbers triple last April.  I hope you will consider to mark this event on your calendar whether you are running to set a 5k PR or just running or walking as a family to support the great cause.  My family will be there and we'd love to have you with us.  Thanks for reading!! DREAM BIG!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rev 3 Cedar Point Race Report and Results

On Friday afternoon Adam Bohach and I drove to Sandusky, Ohio where we would be competing in the full iron distance Triathlon on Sunday.  We had a smooth drive and found our Super 8 easily and hit the sack to get some good rest.  On Saturday we drove to the race site and got our packet and attended the pro athlete meeting.  This was unique for me because it was the first pro race I've done under USAT rules rather than Ironman rules.  The biggest difference between the two in the pro races is that in Ironman racing the draft distance is 10 meters and you are free to ride right behind the athlete in front of you as long as you stay back 10 meters.  USAT elite rules prohibit this with a stagger rule which means you have to stay staggered behind or next to the riders around you.  You can actually ride next to a rider or within 10 meters as long as you more than 2 meters to the side of that rider.  The rule was a little confusing but I thought I had the jist of it.  Adam and I drove most of the 2 loop bike course which was very flat minus a couple rolling hills.  I was disappointed at the meeting to hear the water temperature was not going to be wetsuit legal for the pros.  The amateur temperature in a non-Ironman branded event is 78 degrees but the pro temperature for a race at that distance is 71.3 degrees.  The water was 74 which meant amateurs would be in wetsuits but pros would not.  I was glad to at least have my new Kiwami skinsuit which has .5 mm of neoprene to slighly help with bouyancy and is legal under USAT rules.  Due to my disappointment of no wetsuits given my disastrous history of 2 pro races without them and having never beaten anyone out of the water in those races and giving up HUGE chunks of time I wasn't even sure I wanted to attempt the race.  I thought for a bit my best move may be to just swim and bike and if I was out of the race I could always go to Branson in 2 weeks to race the 70.3.  After thinking about it while lying in bed I decided I needed to go through with Cedar Point.  My friends and family expected me to race and I had already made the drive and Jen is racing a 1/2 marathon the weekend of Branson that I want to attend so I decided I would just do the best I possibly could and try to forget about the deficit I would face out of the water. 
On race morning Adam and I were up at 4:45 for a quick breakfast.  We headed to the race at 5:15 and of course I happened to get pulled over not knowing what the highway speed limit was.  Thankfully the officer let me off with a warning knowing we were racing...I think he felt sorry for the pain we were about to face.  We got our transition area set up and went out for a short 10 minute warm up jog before heading to the swim start.  There were 25 guys racing in the pro field competing for their share of a $50,000 prize purse that paid 10 deep. 

SWIM: When the gun sounded I took off with some dolphin dives because we were starting in some pretty shallow water on the 2 lap swim.  It was pretty dark out still and I had some trouble seeing the boueys so just figured I would follow the guys in front of me.  I lost the main pack early but had someone on my feet and knew that was a good sign.  The guy on my feet went around me a couple hundred yards into the swim and I jumped on his feet and stayed there until just before we got to the 2nd turn bouey.  The shape of the swim was a triangle so there were 3 big turn boueys on each lap.  Just before the 2nd one some female swimmers came flying by us and the guy in front of me jumped on there feet for a bit and got away from me.  They unhitched him soon after but he had enough of a gap I couldn't get back on his feet.  At some point he got off course because I couldn't see him ahead of me and I was swimming solo the entire 2nd lap until he went back by me in the last 500 yards.  I knew my swim was slow because when I got to the 1/2 way point my time was at 35 minutes and change.  I was hoping to swim around 1 hr. 10 minutes but knew being solo the 2nd lap I would not be able to hit that time.  After the first loop I was back into shallow water and took advantage of that by doing some dolphin dives to give my arms a break and when I started swimming again I felt pretty good.  I tried to stay in a good rhythm the 2nd lap but it felt like it was taking forever.  I knew I would be down a huge amount of time getting out of the water.  When I got out I was at 1 hr. 14 minutes which is about 10-11 minutes slower than I typically swim for an Ironman distance race in a wetsuit.  I got through transition and felt pretty good getting on my bike.  I was really quite surprised to see 4 bikes still on the rack of the pro guys besides mine.  I don't know that I've ever beaten 4 guys out of the water in a pro race.  I even told the specatators there are never 4 bikes left besides mine.  I knew that meant I was starting the bike in 21st place with a lot of work to do. 

BIKE: Out on the bike I knew it would be a lonely ride for quite some time.  I knew with a 1 hr. 14 minute swim I was probably down at least 15 minutes to the main field.  One thing I've gotten used to in the pro races is riding alone.  It can be very frustrating mentally not knowing if you are gaining on anyone and feeling like you are the only one on course.  I've been pretty happy with how my cycling has been going lately so I wanted to just test myself and be confident that someone would eventually come back to me.  I passed a couple females early and at mile 13 I passed the first guy I saw which moved me into 20th place.  I wanted to get my splits every 28 miles as that was 1/4 of the ride.  I was breaking the course into 4 sections and hoping to average under 1 hr. 14 minutes for each one which would put me under 4 hrs. 55 minutes for the ride.  I went through my first 28 mile section well under pace at 1 hr. 9 minutes and some change.  I wanted to work hard to keep that pace.  At mile 40 I caught the next guy ahead of me.  I gave him some encouragement to stay with me and he did just that.  It helped a lot to have somone along for the ride.  The tougher part was that I couldn't sit back 10 meters right behind him like in an Ironman branded event since the stagger rule was in effect.  It was noticably harder being staggered behind him than when racing an Ironman branded event.  It did help just to have someone along and we traded the lead every few miles.  At mile 50 we approached the special needs point and I was excited to get my special 850 calorie bottle and my coke.  I had finished my first 850 calorie bottle in the first 25 miles so I was ready for those calories.  Unfortunately for me they couldn't find my bag and I was left without it.  I was not very happy with this but continued on with little choice.  At about mile 70 we caught another guy moving us into 18th and 19th.  I had gone through my 2nd 28 mile check at 1 hr. 8 minutes and change so I was on pace to ride just under 4 hrs. 40 mintues which would have been a huge bike PR.  At the 3rd 28 mile check I was 1 hr. 9 minutes and change so I was still under 4:40 pace with one 28 mile stretch to go.  With about 5 miles of this checkpoint I was really starting to feel the effects of missing my special needs bag.  I was getting a little naucious and was starting to feel like I was bonking.  The guy I had been riding back and forth with for the past 45 miles started to get away and I was not able to put as much power into the pedals.  We did pass another rider moving us up one more spot.  I was not back by myself and was wanting to get off the bike.  I had one more attempt at my special needs bag at about mile 95 and of course they still couldn't find it.  I stopped for a brief moment to give them time to locate it but they couldn't so I continued on knowing my speed was dropping as I was beginning to suffer.  I started to prepare myself mentally to run a marathon knowing I was hurting.  I finished the bike split with a time of 4 hrs. 45 minutes which was only 1 minute faster than my PR.  I lost about 5 minutes in the last 28 mile stretch with a little of it due to the wind we rode into the last stretch and a lot of it to do with suffering. 
RUN: In my 2nd transition I took my time.  I was hurting getting off the bike and was not very confident with how the run would go considering how tired I was and my lack of run training over the past 8 weeks.  I put on my Live Uncommon race jersey and grabbed my GPS watch and switched socks since mine were soaked from going to the bathroom 3 times on the bike.  I headed out for the run at what felt like a terribly slow pace but when my GPS located satellites it said I was running 6:40's.  I was pretty surprised by that because it felt easy.  I don't race with heart rate but I knew my heart rate was down so that was good.  My back felt good which I think was due to the massage I got from Mike Eskridge before I left on Thursday.  Mike worked on my back a lot because I had back problems at Steelhead.  I wanted to make sure I didn't get going too fast too soon like I did in Arizona last year.  I made sure to remind myself to be patient but the miles kept feeling easy in the 6:30-6:40 range.  A few miles into the race I started asking spectators for a Bears/Colts score update.  No one was helping me out with this but a lot of the people on the side of the road said they would get me the update when I ran by them later.  I got to see Adam at around mile 7 and he looked great.  I was still feeling great and was taking my GU's until I ran out of them.  At the aid stations I was taking water and coke.  At mile 10 I started thinking I might be able to break 9 hours even with the terribly slow swim.  I knew it would take a huge effort and I had no room to bonk on the run.  I had to run a 2 hr. 55 minute marathon which is right about what I was on pace for.  I started getting excited when people on the road gave me Bears updates and when I heard they were up 24-10 I ran a 6:00 mile which I would pay dearly for later.  Just before the 1/2 marathon point the run started to get hard.  It went from effortless to lots of effort in a hurry.  At the 1/2 way point I took my special needs bag and drank part of a Red Bull which didn't make my tummy feel too great.  I also too more GU's out on course with me since the run course served PowerBar gels and those are so runny my stomach wasn't liking them.  In the 2nd half of the run I had to start digging really deep.  My pace was slowing quickly and I knew it was going to be a sufferfest to the finish line which an Ironman should be.  I kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other.  My pace went to about 8:00/miles by mile 15 but then at mile 17 I began to feel better for about 5 miles.  My pace came back down to 7:15 and I passed a couple of the guys who had earlier passed me.  I saw some of the guys in the pro race were starting to drop out and knew I was in around 15th place.  One guy passed me with 2 miles left afte we had exchanged places 3 or 4 times on the run.  I couldn't go with him as I was totally running on empty and just wanted to get to the finish line.  I crossed the line with a 3 hr. 12 minute marathon after going through the 1/2 way point in 1 hr. 26 minutes.  I really need to put in some serious run training before Arizona and I know I can run under 3 hrs. if I don't go out too hard.  My total finish time was 9 hrs. 17 minutes for 15th place of the 25 guys that started the pro race.  I was really proud of the effort.  I went from not even being sure I wanted to race without a wetsuit and then gave up about 15 minutes to the main field to battle back and finish respectively.  It was definitely my best pro race without a wetsuit in the 3 I've done.  I also went into this race not feeling like I was very fit.  I have averaged about 30 miles running a week over the past 8 weeks.  Before Arizona last year I averaged 60 miles/week for 6 weeks.  I plan to take this week off to get recovered and then will have 9 weeks left until Arizona.  I'll put in some big training and also get leaner for this one.  I weighed about 164 lbs. for this race in Cedar Point which is a lot for me.  I'll be around 150 for Arizona but I need to make sure I get there without sacrificing the power I've gained on the bike.  I have plenty of bad weight on my stomach to get rid of. 
Adam finished 11th in his pro debut with a time of 9 hrs. 1 minute.  We will both be going to Arizona to break 9 hrs.  It was an awesome trip that I would not have made if Adam wasn't racing in Cedar Point.  This race definitely has me remotivated for my last race of the year.  It made me realize I can go under 9 hrs.  I realize I was 17 minutes off but I'll get almost 10 of that in the swim as Arizona is a guaranteed wetsuit swim.  After the race we went to dinner with about half of the pro field and ironically one of the guys there asked me what number I was and when I told him 42 he said they gave him my special needs bag.  He tried my drink but said it was disgusting and tossed my bag back to them.  Unfortunately they didn't get it back in the right spot for me and I never got it.  He was number 22 and when he rode through special needs they yelled out 42 instead of 22. 

 My overall experience with Rev3 was a great one.  They definitely have athletes in mind when they put the race together.  They do a lot of things to make the race a great experience for all involved.  Although Rev3 is a new series and they have some organizational things  that will get worked out like the special needs station they work extremely hard to put on a quality event for those who race there.  I'm glad to see this series grow and hopefully break up the Ironman monopoly on long distance racing.  Rev3 had free post race compression boots that served as a nice massage as well as free ART.  At my last Ironman 70.3 in Steelhead they were charging athletes for post race massage.  Rev 3 also had a very entertaining "worst wetsuit" competition on Saturday where they had people bring their worst wetsuits and they gave away 2 free new wetsuits to those who had the worst ones.  They also photograph every participant and put their picture on a huge video board when they finish.  The interviewed the overall amateur winners as the finish line which Ironman never does.  The post race meal was better than I've had at Ironman events.  The photo below is from Adam on the bike course.  We didn't have anyone to take pictures but the Rev3 crew got a few images of us.  Be sure to read Adam's report at www.strivingadam.com  I'll be doing more Rev3 races in future years.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cedar Point Race Preview

I can hardly believe I am just a few days from racing an Ironman distance at Rev3 Cedar Point.  About 7 weeks ago I thought I was done for the year.  I certainly thought there was no way of doing a full in September.  I have hardly backed off training because I don't have much to back off of.  I've run and swam less for this race than any other race I've done in the past few years except for Steelhead a few weeks ago.  Part of me wonders if I should really be doing an Ironman right now.  The other part is super excited to find out.  I have no pressure on myself.  I'm really looking forward to the race.  I've been feeling tremendous on the bike lately and know that is probably my strength going into the race.  The run is a big unknown for me.  The pro race begins at 6:50 am on Sunday, September 9th.  The water temperature is borderline wetsuit and I'm hoping it drops to allow them of course.  My goals for the race are first and foremost to enjoy it and feel like I'm racing much like I felt at Steelhead.  If all goes well I'd like to swim under 1 hr. 5 minutes if we are in wetsuits, 1 hr. 10 minutes if we are not.  I'd like to ride the bike course under 4 hrs. 55 minutes, and complete the run under 3 hrs. 15 minutes.  For a total time I'd be satisfied if I could go under 9 hrs. 20 minutes.  I do feel like if my body is feeling good I could go faster.  My yearly goal is to go under 9 hours and I'd like to do that at Ironman Arizona but if things are going well on Sunday I'm prepared to make myself suffer if that goal is in reach.  The pro field is now at 28 which is a huge increase over the past couple weeks so a top 10 may not be in the cards but it's still something I'm aiming at.  Mostly I want to be competitive and not ride 112 miles alone.  Adam and I are heading out there together.  He's going to have a tremendous race.  I'm excited to be on the line with him in his pro debut.  I hope we cross paths out on the course at some point.  I don't know if my excitement to race has ever been higher.  I'm really looking forward to pushing the bike portion hard as my bike workouts lately have been better than I can ever remember.  Say a prayer for me if you get a chance.  You can check the Rev3 site for race updates at www.rev3tri.com  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Steelhead 70.3 Race Report...Cedar Point Here I Come!

Last Sunday I raced the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  I was not planning to do this race because I had not been doing a whole lot of training.  I have been putting in some solid bike miles but I really spent about a month wondering if I should call it a season or continue racing.  I had not swam more than 10 times over the past month and had only run about 13 times.  This was the least prepared I ever felt for a pro race but I really had the itch to test my fitness so I made the trip. 
The race had 16 pros in it, mostly domestic guys with a few international pro sprinkled in.  The weather was perfect with very little wind, cool temperatures and mostly cloud cover. 
SWIM: I was very honest with myself and knew my swim time would not be very good.  I had been swimming very little compared to what I was doing all year before Racine.  I went from swimming 20,000 yards a week down to about 7,000 yards/week for the past 4 weeks after my week off training.  I lined up all the way to the left on the beach start and happend to be about 3 feet from the cannon that fired to start us.  My heart almost jumped out of my chest when the cannon exploded right next to me.  I ran into the water, did a couple dolphin dives and began swimming.  For the first few hundred yards I was able to hang in with the group but it wasn't long after that I found the gap was opening up and there was little I could do about it.  I knew it would be a big mistake to try to redline the swim early because my swim fitness is so poor right now so I just focused on trying to get into a good rhythm.  It seemed like forever before the boueys turned from yellow to red signifying the second half of the swim.  In my first two pro races this year, which were both pretty disastrous I was caught by the female pros way before the swim was over.  In Kansas without a wetsuit I got caught before the half way point.  In Racine where I had a decent swim I got caught with about 700 yards to go.  Once I got to the half way point I knew there were 8 red boueys remaining until the swim was over.  I got to 2 of them and still hadn't gotten caught so I set a personal goal to make it as far as possible before getting caught by the females.  They start 3 minutes after us.  I made it to bouey 4 and still hadn't gotten caught.  I began to think maybe I was having a better swim than I realized.  5...6...7...and then the catch.  There was only 1 female who went by me.  I knew more were coming so I pushed on knowing the swim was almost over.  Just before I got out of the water I could see two more of them coming.  I pushed hard and exited just before they caught me.  I was 31:10 which was slow but not as bad as the time indicated.  Only 1 female had made up the stagger on me and the gap from me to the leaders was less than it has been in any of my pro races this year.  I went through transition quickly and passed the only female who was ahead of me just as I got on my bike.  There was only 1 guys bike left on the rack besides mine so I was 15th of 16 out of the water.  Thanks to Ali Engin for the great photo.  Ali is always nice to see at the pro races.  He's normally the only human being I see on the bike course for the first 20 miles or so. 
BIKE: The bike is really the reason I wanted to do this race.  I liked the course last year but found out it was changed slightly.  I had thought the roads were super smooth last year but found out they were not this year either due to the course change or my bad memory.  The roads were quite rough early on but I pushed hard not knowing how far up the road the other guys were or if they were packed together or spread out.  I was hoping for spread out.  It can be tough riding without seeing anyone on the course but I've gotten used to it due to my poor swimming.  I had to believe with my renewed power on the bike that I would eventually catch someone.  I road the first 15 miles without seeing anyone but at about mile 15 I got a glimpse of a guy about a minute ahead.  It felt good to see someone out there to know I was making progress.  I worked hard and it took me about 5 miles to catch him.  When I made the pass I encouraged him to try to stay with me and we could work together.  Our draft zone is 10 meters and even at 10 meters on a flat course it feels considerably easier.  Thankfully for me he was able to hang in there and he passed me after I lead for a couple miles.  We alternated in this manner every couple miles and it was a huge help.  At about mile 30 we could see 2 guys ahead of us working together that we were pulling back.  We caught them at about mile 35 and it was Nick Wanninger and Tony White who I knew.  They both beat me last year at Racine.  I asked Nick how far up the next guy was and he said there was a big pack riding together up front that he and Tony were in before they both were given 4 minute draft penalties.  The four of us worked together but Tony fell off about 5 miles later and so it was just 3 of us.  We passed one of the foreign pros at about mile 45 and we were gaining on 2 more guys we could see ahead.  I was starting to get excited knowing I was going to get off the bike around 10th place.  I knew some of the guys still ahead were mid-1:20's kind of runners and I thought I had a 1:20 in me so I felt like I could move up a decent amount on the run.  My total bike time was 2 hrs. 15 minutes for about a 25.0 mph average speed. 
RUN: Right off the bike in transition I knew I was in trouble.  My lower back was super tight when I got off.  It hadn't hurt during the ride at all but right when I got to my feet it was not good.  Running the bike through transition was very uncomfortable and the transition area was about 300-400 meters long.  I got out on the course and the 3 guys I got off the bike with left me quickly.  I was struggling without any sort of rhythm.  My back was bad and I knew I wasn't going to make it very far if I didn't get it to loosen up so I stopped about a mile in and stretched for a bit.  I continued running but it wasn't any better.  Before the 2 mile mark I stopped and stretched again.  I was now just hoping to be able to finish the run.  It was very painful and I felt like I was leaning back because my back was so tight.  At the 2.5 mile mark it was still terrible so I knew I needed to stop and sit down and go through a bunch of back stretches.  This helped considerably although the stopping wasn't helping my time in any way.  When I got back up and started running the pain was subsiding and I was able to get into a bit of a rhythm.  By about mile 6 I had my pace hovering around 6:10/mile.  I wanted to hold this as long as possible.  I stayed good until about mile 10 when I was getting pretty tired.  My pace was up in the 6:40 range and I kept it there until the finish.  My overall run time was 1 hr. 26 minutes which was about 6 minutes slower than I had hoped given my current fitness.  I've run 1:17 on three different occasions so I felt 1:20 was possible with where my running is right now.  I finished 13th of the 16 pros that started the race but I was only about 6 minutes from 6th place so it made me realize had I been able to put a solid run together it could have been a great race.  That's much easier said that done.  I was excited to hear that Daniel Bretscher had won the race.  He's a class act.  He's always so positive and is one pro I really admire.  He told me, "I lived Uncommon today."  He does that every day but it was great hearing that from him.  He's put in a ton of work and is having his best year ever in the sport.  He lead the race start to finish.  Daniel has been sort of a mentor to me.  Last year he sent me some needed support after rough races and gave me great advice heading into my first pro races.  He's also moving to Iowa this winter so I'm hoping we can get together to train a little bit next year. 
This past week I've been unsure of where to go from here.  My original plan was to race a 70.3 in Branson on September 23rd and then race Ironman Arizona in November.  My good buddy Adam Bohach is going to race the Full Ironman distance in Cedar Point on September 9th and I was really thinking this was something I was not ready for.  After Steelhead I had a really bad taste for Ironman once again.  Ironman puts on really well organized races but they cut so many corners to make every lst penny they can.  Compare this...on the same day as Steelhead they had a 1/2 Ironman distance race in Cedar Rapids Iowa.  The early registration price was 85.00 compared to Steelhead's 200.00.  After Steelhead the food they had for athletes consisted of pretzels, bananas, cookies, and grapes.  At Pigman in Cedar Rapids they had a full meal, tons of candy, drinks of all sorts.  They have lots of raffle giveaways at Pigman.  The awards are probably better than age group awards that Ironman gives, and they had massage and chiropractic services complimentary.  At Steelhead they had massage they were charging athletes 1.00 per minute for.  I couldn't believe that...well yes I could since it was Ironman.  After this year I will be doing entirely non-Ironman branded events.  I love seeing those races grow and wish more people wold do them until Ironman begins to up the quality of what the athlete gets for the price they pay.  This weekend I wanted to test myself a bit to see if I was a fool for thinking about doing a full in 2 weeks at Cedar Point.  I biked 106 miles on Saturday.  This was my 3rd century ride in the past 4 weeks.  On Sunday I wanted to run 17 miles figuring if I could do that I would at least know I was capable of running a marathon.  My longest run over the past 10 weeks has only been 13 miles.  I made it and actually felt quite good at the end so that was my deciding factor.  I didn't realize it until my drive home but the 17 miles was my longest run since early last November when I was preparing for IM Arizona.  I prayed about it this weekend and asked God to point me in the right direction regarding which race to do.  I knew if He was going to lead me to Branson then He would make something hurt on this long run and nothing did so I'm going to race a full in Cedar Point on September 9th.  I'm thrilled to be racing alongside my good friend Adam Bohach in his pro debut that weekend.  Going out there with him was really the only reason I was considering that race.  I still don't know if I should be doing a full with the little I've been running but I only get to live once so why not go for it and see what happens.  It will be kind of like the excitement I had going into Steelhead feeling like I really shouldn't be racing but knowing the challenge of doing so was going to be fun.  They give awards 10 deep in the pro race at Cedar Point and Branson only gives awards 5 deep so even with the extra two weeks to get in better shape for Branson my chances of winning an award are probably no better there.  There will be around 15 guys racing in the pro field at Cedar Point.  I'm excited to race a Rev3 event.  I've heard countless good things about this series and they are putting up some great competition for Ironman.  I may be the fattest pro on the start line in Cedar Point but I'll just use that as more motivation to compete with them.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quick Race Update

13th today in the pro race at Steelhead with 16 pro guys starting.  18th overall of 1500.  After 2 absolute disasters in pro races this year I feel good about this one.  I knew going into it I am fat right now and I am not in very good shape.  I was satisfied about the swim and bike and had a good chance to run my way into a finish somewhere between 6th and 8th with a 1:20 1/2 Marathon which I thought I was capable of even in my current state.  My lower back was a terrible mess getting off the bike and I stopped 3 times in the 1st 2 miles to stretch it.  Finally after sitting down the 3rd time and going through every back stretch I know it was managable and I could continue running the rest of the way without the terrible pain.  I'll post a full review of the race later this week.  Time to recover quick and get back into shape for Branson in 5 weeks.  My finish time was 4 hrs. 16 minutes. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Training Update, Congrats to Adam Bohach!

Sorry for the delay with this week's post.  Getting back to school this week left me extra busy.  It's been good getting back to my school year training routine.  I'm getting more excited about racing every week.  I originally was planning not to race until Branson 70.3 on September 23rd but after some thinking I decided I want to race a 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan this weekend.  The race is on Sunday.  I loved the course last year and raced well in the race that had the swim eliminated due to bad weather.  This year the weather looks to be ideal for racing with cool cloudy conditions and not much wind on the radar.  I'm hoping the weather forecasters are correct with this one.  I've been feeling really strong on the bike lately.  My biggest frustration through the summer was in my biking.  For the first time in the past four years I was riding weaker than previous years.  Since my week off I've begun to feel extremely strong on the bike.  I've been doing a lot of interval work and I'm getting a long ride in each week.  This past Sunday I rode 115 miles.  That was my longest ride of the year and it felt great.  I was thankful to have Cassidy Moulton, Jessica Imm, Matt Davison, and Joe Mueller along for most of the ride.  It really helps the time go by quickly with other people along for it.  I have put in over 1,000 miles riding in the past 4 weeks.  Yesterday I did a hill interval workout I do quite often and I hit power numbers I haven't seen all year making me excited for the bike leg this weekend on the flat and fast course in Benton Harbor.  I'm not so sure about my swimming and running right now.  I've only swam about 10 times over the past month and run about 12 times.  I realized that although I'm not running as often every run I do is either a hard workout, tempo run, or long run.  I've really eliminated all the easy mileage I was doing before.  With school starting I'll probably increase my mileage and add back some easy runs that I can get in over my lunch/prep period.  My weight is not good right now but I'm trying not to think too much about that since I feel much stronger.  I've been much more consistent with my lifting, plyometrics, jump rope, and lunges.  All these things I feel have helped increase my strength on the bike.  For the race I'm hoping to swim around 30-31 minutes.  I don't feel the work I've been doing will allow me to swim much faster than that.  I'm hoping to ride like crazy and enjoy every minute of it coming in around 2 hrs. 10 minutes-2 hrs. 12 minutes.  For the run I'm not quite sure what to expect.  For my goal I want to run under 1 hr. 19 minutes.  That would put my total goal time at around 4 hrs. 5 minutes when you add in transition times.  I would be very satisifed if I could achieve these times given my current fitness. 
What I was most excited about last week was getting awesome race reports on the Rev3 Wisconsin Dells race.  There were 2 locals who did the 1/2 Ironman distance race in the Dells.  Brian Garrells and Jim Bernas both had awesome races.  I talked to Brian and he said Rev3 was as quality of a race as he's ever done.  He said he thought they put on a better race than the Ironman races he has done.  Two other locals I know of, Andrea Wood and Tim Janssen did the Olympic Distance race in the Dells and Tim also spoke extremely highly of the event that Rev3 put on.  He placed 2nd in his age division and took home some really sweet prizes...much better than the awards that Ironman gives to age groupers.  The highlight for me was seeing how my good friend and training buddy Adam Bohach did in the 1/2 Ironman distance race at Rev3.  Adam had hernia surgery in April that forced him to take a long break from training.  He has been back for a few months working like crazy with the Rev3 race on the schedule.  He was hoping to qualify for his pro license by placing as one of the top 3 age groupers.  He did so in a big way by winning the amateur race by 9 minutes.  His time beat 1/2 of the pro field and he finished 7th overall.  Adam got off the bike and flew through the run course with a time of 1 hr. 13 minutes that was bettered only by men's pro winner Australian Richie Cunningham.  Adam will get his pro license after he races as an amateur for the last time at the Hy-Vee Triathlon coming up in just a couple weeks.  I'm still hoping we can go to Arizona together to race in the pro division this November if my body and mind allow me to keep going that long.  I'm extremely proud of Adam for his committment and he has been such a huge help to me giving me the much needed advice on training that I often seek from him.  I certainly have missed having him around to train with since he moved.  You can read about Adam's race on his blog at www.strivingadam.com  I'll try to post an update about how Steelhead goes this weekend when I return home on Sunday night.  I'm really hoping to just get into the race and enjoy competing without any pressure to perform.  I don't really have any place goals.  I want to enjoy the race, have fun, and finish without having any major breakdowns like I had in Racine.  Good luck this weekend to all the locals who are racing Pigman Longcourse in Cedar Rapids.  I'm feeling fitter every week and beginning to think about the fall races.  I love training in the fall weather, especially running in the cooler temperatures.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crossroads Triathlon Race Report and Results

Going into the week I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do for the rest of the year.  Part of me wanted to train hard and get back into shape and part of me wanted to just take the rest of the year off and get going again in December for next year to compete as an amateur.  I was really at a Crossroads.  I put in so much time training and with my kids getting older I don't want to miss out on watching them grow up.  I've been able to balance it well up to this point but know it will only get more busy as they get into more actvities as they grow older.  From the day in 2008 when I decided to go all-in to find out my potential in the sport of triathlon I have always had 3 things I said would get me to cut back the training and resume normal life as an amateur triathlete, husband, father, and teacher.  I knew it would be time to scale things back if any of the following ever occurred...
1.  Training got in the way of my committments to being a great husband and father
2.  Training became something that I viewed as a chore and didn't look forward to...i.e...It wasn't fun to train
3.  I saw my progress as an athlete coming to a halt (I felt like I had reached the end of my rope improvement-wise)
Last week as I considered those three things I was finding that 2 of the 3 had occurred.  I felt like I hadn't really improved so far in 2012.  A season that started off with so much promise and had me thinking I was going to shatter my 2011 performances had really fizzled out.  The training that accompanied the races was also becoming something I did not look forward to.  Even after my week off a few weeks back I was still really struggling mentally.  My confidence I guess you could say had reached rock bottom and I am one that realizes the importance of confidence when it comes to big races. 
I was signed up to compete in the Crossroads Triathlon in DeWitt, Iowa on Saturday.  On Friday I wasn't sure I wanted to do this.  I had trained with my good buddy Adam Bohach who was in town Monday through Wednesday.  Adam just kicked my butt in everything we did.  I was worn out.  We ran intervals on Wednesday and he was running circles around me.  I went to the Wednesday night group ride that I had always felt so strong on early in the summer and I got dropped while about 12 people remained in the front group including a local female rider.  It wasn't even a very fast ride by the Wednesday night standards.  I really didn't think I should be racing and almost decided not to.  I had some super deep quad soreness stemming from plyometrics last week and then running the Bix on Saturday.  Every step of my running was sore.  I went to see Dr. Kaminski on Thursday to help relieve that and then coupled it with a massage from Mike Eskridge at the Life Fitness Center in Bettendorf on Friday morning.  Mike has great rates at $25.00 for 30 minutes or $45.00 for 1 hour appointments.  Give him a call if you are looking for a massage.  His contact info is located on the home page of my blog under sponsors.  On Friday night I opted not to get my bike ready or pack my bags incase I decided not to race on Saturday morning.  I set the alarm for 4:00 am.  When the alarm sounded I decided to give it one more go this year and perhaps call it a season after the race.  I got the Zipp 808 front wheel and Zipp sub-9 disc put on the bike and got my Xterra bag packed and loaded the car before driving to the race site.  I warmed up about 5 miles on the bike and did 10x30 sec. hard to get my legs going.  I then ran about 1.5 miles before putting on the Xterra Vendetta wetsuit. 
SWIM: I went in the 2nd wave behind the females 30 and under.  We started 3 minutes behind them.  I have only swam 4 times in Racine 70.3.  I was wearing my size Medium Vendetta because I am too big to fit into my size small right now.  I am about 15 lbs. over normal race weight and that was part of my lack of confidence.  I also couldn't fit any race jersey on so I went with just the Kiwami race bottoms.  Knowing that my swim fitness was not going to be good I knew it would be important to not start out too fast.  I wanted to concentrate on long smooth strokes that my swim coach Stacey Zapolski always preaches.  When the gun sounded I took off into a nice comfortable rhythm and found myself at the front of the wave.  I did my best to site well but the humidity caused my goggles to fog a lot and I don't think I took the best line to the turn bouey but it wasn't terrible.  I got to the first turn and started passing some of the females from the wave ahead.  I stayed in a comfortable rhythm to the end of the swim and exited 1st in my wave with a time of 7:26.  The overall ranking was 6th out of 140 athletes.  I was very happy with that given my recent committment to swimming.  I maybe cost myself 20 seconds from what I could have swam a month ago but that 20 seconds was worth the countless hours I saved not going to the pool. 
BIKE: I had a good transition onto the bike and I started shifting to harder gears.  I took in fluids which is very easy with the Specialized Shiv since the water is held inside the frame and it's easy to drink from the straw that comes out of the fluid reservoir.  I don't have to carry any bottles in a sprint which is nice to cut down on wind drag created by bottles and bottle holders.  I got to the turnaround and was averaging 24.5 mph which I didn't think too highly of but after getting dropped on Wednesday night's ride I wasn't expecting a whole lot.  At the turn is when things began to change.  Immediately after turning I could tell I had a wind at my back.  This was encouraging knowing I had just averaged 24.5 into a wind I didn't realize I was riding into.  I continued shifting to bigger gears and even stayed in my aero position up every hill.  I could tell I was putting more power into the pedals than I have had in months.  I was riding back at 28-30 mph and began to really feel good about things.  We made a right hand turn at mile 10 and headed into town.  I knew there was one big climb ahead.  Even this climb didn't seem tough and I stayed aero the entire time powering up it in a big gear.  I clicked through my computer settings to my bike time and saw I was having a ride that was faster than last year.  Last year I came into this race in tip-top shape probably at the peak of my fitness all season.  Now here I was overweight and out of shape putting up a better bike time.  I finished the ride with an average speed of 26.2 mph which was the fastest of the race.  I still had some questions to answer with the run to come. 
RUN: I have only run 5 times since Racine so I didn't know how this was going to go.  My last run had been on Wednesday when Adam just killed me on an interval session.  I was thinking during the week there was a chance I would run a 20 minute 5k.  I put on the GPS and headed out just trying to find some kind of rhythm.  I checked my time through the mile and I was at 5:40 which was better than I expected.  After that I found myself getting into an even faster rhythm.  At one point I was running just under 5:10 pace.  After the turnaround it was about 4 minutes before I saw anyone so I knew I was ahead of everyone who started in the waves behind me by over a minute so I relaxed just a bit but still tried to stay fast knowing I was racing far ahead of where I thought I would be.  Last year I ran this course in 16:38 when I was at my best.  This year I finished the 5k in 17:04 which was the 2nd fastest run of the day.  I was really thrilled by it.  Complete results with splits from the race can be found by clicking here.  The race was extremely well run by new director Kevin Benes.  It was awesome seeing so many people out there competing. 
I know I'm a LONG way from peak fitness and for me to race that well was a VERY good lesson learned.  I learned that a fat, out-of-shape Jeff Paul that is not overtrained may be nearly as good as a learn, super-fit Jeff Paul that is overtrained.  My finish time was 1 hr. 15 seconds which was 5 seconds faster than last year although the swim last year was long so I would have been about 20 seconds slower if that was evened out.  Either way, I'll take that.  I went from almost calling it a season to being super excited about getting back in shape for some fall races.  Part of my problem was not having a race plan for the fall.  I do now.  I am going to race Branson 70.2 on September 23rd in Branson, Missouri and then come back and do a full-Ironman at either Beach 2 Battleship in North Carolina in October or Ironman Arizona in November.  I know I can race extremely well at these two events if I get myself back into race shape but the biggest key factor of all is to get lean and in shape without getting myself overtrained.  I will have to be extremely careful to eat healthy but eat enough to replensih the fuel I'm burning through in workouts.  My longest bike ride all year had only been 80 miles until Sunday when I went out and rode 105 miles.  It helped so much to have Ryan Coon and Cassidy Moulton along for the ride.  Thanks guys!  I went to sleep last night excited about racing in Branson and I woke up this morning with the same excitedment.  I'm not sure why but life always seems more fun when you're chasing a big goal...a BIG DREAM...and I want to be on the podium in 7 weeks.  Lots of work until then.  I recieved a lot of support over the past few difficult weeks and I'm thankful to know there are a lot of people out there who have been inspired by the journey.  It means more than any medals, titles, or any ranking.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bix Week Summary

On Monday I got back to training although I did not train nearly as much this week as I had been before my week off.  I put an emphasis on quality bike miles.  I had a good interval workout on Monday and then did a tough hill interval workout on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I ran for the first time since Racine.  I did 4x1200 meters with a 400 meter jog between each.  They were tough running at 5:25/mile pace and combined with plyometrics and weight lifting it left me VERY sore on Thursday.  I opted not to race the Brady Sprint Challenge 400 meter hill competition.  I decided on sore legs this was a pulled muscle waiting to happen and with the possibility of more races this year I didn't want to risk that.  The highlight of the week for me was on Saturday with the Running of the Quad City Times Bix 7 road race.  My plan had always been to run with Super Mom who placed 14th overall in the female race a year ago.  Last year she ran a huge Bix pr of 41:52 and I knew she was in much better shape going into the race this year.  I was actually quite worried that following my week off and soreness that I wasn't going to be able to stay with her.  I am nearly 20 lbs. heavier than I was early in the season and I knew that additional weight may leave me struggling to hang onto Jen's pace.  I did my best to get a good stretch in Friday night to try to deal with the soreness of my quads.  On Saturday we began with the first mile in 6:15.  This was about 10 seconds faster than last year.  The first mile includes the big Brady Street hill and it is always the slowest mile of the course.  The next mile is a long gradual downhill and we ran it in 5:13 to come through 2 miles in 11:28.  We then ran about 5:50 on mile 3 and at the turnaround Jen was in 16th place.  The women's field had more elite runners this year than last.  She stayed in 16th the entire way back.  We hit the 1/2 way point in 20:00 flat and I started thinking she may be able to break 40:00 but I could tell we were slowing on the way back.  The first half of the race was about as fast as I would have gone on my own.  On the way back I was holding back and it began to feel pretty easy.  She finished in 40:43 which was a huge PR on the course and she finished as the top QC female finisher.  The top local male finisher was a guy named Charlie Paul (no relation) that I coached in high school and junior high.  Charlie is a pretty incredible and inspiring story for me.  In junior high he struggled to run under 7:00 for a mile.  In high school his work ethic was outstanding and his progress was remarkable.  His senior year he missed almost the entire track season with a stress fracture in his hip.  He came back with only about 4 track meets remaining and he ended up passing 6 runners in the final lap of the 2 mile at the state meet and finished 3rd place.  We told college coaches he had a huge upside.  There was really no end in site of his improvement.  He walked on at Iowa State and last year made their top 7 in cross country.  He has run in some huge track meets all over the country and ran the Bix in 36:11 on Saturday in what he said felt easier than any Bix he's ever run.  It's been amazing for me to watch his improvements and reminds me of what can happen when you DREAM BIG and work for those dreams like there's no tomorrow. 
The Bix left me more sore than I've been all year.  The relentless downhills absolutely trashed my quads and yesterday every step was painful.  I did manage to get in 211 bike miles last week.  Today my good friend Adam Bohach came back in town and we rode 72 miles together.  It was great being back training with Adam.  He is in incredible shape and I have no doubts he will earn his professional triathlon card at a 1/2 Ironman distance race in the Wisconsin Dells next weekend.  I'm at a bit of a crossroads right now trying to figure out if I want to put in the work and dedicate my eating habits to getting back into great shape.  Part of me wants to do it and race some big races in September and October and part of me wants to go tailgate at Iowa games, go socialize with friends, eat unhealthy and just live normal for awhile.  Being that I'm at a crossroads I thought it was a good time to race the event known as the Crossroads Triathlon in DeWitt, Iowa on Saturday to test my fitness and find out how much work I need to do in the upcoming weeks.  The race is on Saturday at 8:00 am and it's only 20 minutes from the QC so it would be great to see a lot of locals supporting this race.  I enjoy seeing races in the area do well.  You can sign up at www.crossroadstriathlon.com or at Healthy Habits on Thursday night.  I hope to see a good crowd there next Saturday.  The race is a 500 yard swim, 15 mile bike, and a 5k run through the town of DeWitt.  This week I'll attempt to stay focused and get in some good quality training although I'm not planning to swim a lot for quite some time.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!