Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 15 Summary

It seems like long ago I was getting on the treadmill for my first run of the 2013 season.  I remember suffering through 3 miles with my heart and legs screaming at me.  I remember thinking how tall this mountain I had to climb was.  I'm excited about how far I've come without wearing my body down mentally or physically.  In 5 days I will begin my summer training when things will really pick up.  The race schedule gets busy in June with 4 races over a 15 day span.  I'm looking forward to it!  For week 15 I ran 50 miles, biked 125 and swam 6,600 yards.  I need to begin swimming more now that I'm getting closer to races.  I've always felt like 3 weeks or so of high swimming volume puts me pretty close to my best as far as the swim goes.  I was able to get my first open water swim in this morning with a nice group.  I expected freezing cold waters but to my surprise the water was around 66 degrees which feels awesome in my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit.  I had planned to get a lot of miles on the bike through this three day weekend but Mother Nature had other plans.  I was able to get out yesterday with Corey Towle and Charlie Paul and we got stranded in McCausland at the Lucky Frog when lightning began to strike nearby so Super Mom kindly came to our rescue and picked us up in the Super-Mom mini van.  Today after our swim we got a nice 24 mile ride in with some good rolling hills.  Friday I ran 2 sets of 4x400's and 4x200's with 200 jog recovery after everything.  I didn't feel fast at all...actually quite slow but was glad to get some quality.  I ran the 400's in 77 and the 200's in 35.  I've always been a believer in training intervals faster than race pace.  When my body is used to running 5:00-5:10 mile pace the 1/2 Ironman pace of 5:50 feels like a jog.  Right now the 5:00-5:10 pace feels like I'm working harder than I should be.  I'm optimistic that it will come around quickly.  I have yet to put in a 60 mile running week but plan to soon.  When I string 3-4 of those together in a row I can tell a big difference in my running.  I had my 3rd run at 90 minutes or more this week and it was my best one yet.  I felt great throughout and should be ready to go to 95 or 100 minutes soon.  I love Wednesday night group rides here.  It's always my toughest bike workout of the week.  This week was no different.  I found myself getting dropped from a 2 man break up one of the final climbs but I was able to get into my aero bars and 3 minutes later of heart wrenching work I clawed my way back to the break and pulled a few guys with me.  The Wednesday ride is a lot of fun and hard work.  If you live near the QC I'd recommend giving it a try.  They leave from the bike path parking lot right where Moline and East Moline meet and they have 2 groups so there is something for everyone. 

I had an outstanding time hosting a transition clinic at Healthy Habits bike shop on Saturday.  We had a great turnout of just over 30 people despite Mother Nature bringing us rain.  Xterra Wetsuits was kind enough to send race belts for everyone and GU Energy sent lots of product to give away.  We also had a bunch of items that we gave away.  I'm hoping everyone took left feeling like they learned something that will help them speed through T1 and T2 faster than ever.  It was great meeting a lot of new people there.  The biggest thing to remember about transitions is that they are part of the race.  Just as you want to swim, bike, and run as fast as possible you also want to make T1 and T2 as quick as possible.  I think often people see transitions as a mini break between the other 3 triathlon disciplines when transitions are really the 4th discipline.  There were lots of people at the clinic getting ready for their first triathlon ever on June 15th and I'm sure they will all have lots of fun and will do great!  If you are looking for a wetsuit to help you swim faster this year you can use Xterra discount code SA-JEFFP to save 60% off the Vector Pro or Vortex suits.  Let me know if you have any questions about the suits or if you want to know why I prefer Xterra Wetsuits over the rest. 

To close I was very humbled to accept a tremendous iHope gift from Dan and Kelly White this week.  Dan was a high school teammate of mine and is the guru among local physical therapists especially when the injury is anything related to running.  Dan is one of the smartest people I know and he is always continuing to study his profession so he can treat his clients at Rock Valley with the best care possible.  Dan was instrumental in helping get me back to running after my achilles tendon surgery in 2010.  He recently spent time in Oregon studying alongside some of the best coaches in the world at Nike and learned a great deal about injury preventative strength training while he was there.  When he met with me awhile back and said he wanted to get involved with helping iHope change the lives of children in our community I was thrilled.  If you want to help with the iHope Foundation that serves to provide low-income students who possess outstanding character and work habits with iPads you can click here to make a tax deductable donation.  I would be grateful and it will make a positive impact on a child in our community.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Season Opener...Week 14 Lake McBride Duathlon

Week 14 brought my season opener.  I hit training really hard Monday through Wednesday.  I had run 27 miles, biked 86 including intervals on Tuesday and the toughest 50 mile group ride I can remember.  We started the group ride with 45 in the "A" group and I was in the lead group of 5 at the finish but it took a HUGE effort and left my legs quivering on Thursday.  I had my biggest swim in a long time Tuesday at 4,600 yards with a main set I call "Goal 50's" where I swim 30x50 on 1:00 and have to hold under a goal time or take an extra minute rest before continuing.  I was alone which normally leads to slightly slower times for myself.  I wanted to hit all under 38 and was sure I'd have to take the extra minute a couple times through the set.  I started fast in 35...too fast.  I was still holding 36's through #15 but then slipped to 37.  With 10 to go I dug deep to avoid anything showing 38 and I was able to complete the set without having to take the extra minute.  I had my lowest weigh in since last July after the group ride when I saw 156 on the scale.  Thursday-Saturday was terrible.  I barely trained and did not fuel well...understatement.  Saturday night my legs were logs and I knew I needed to get a run in with some fast efforts to try to shake out the stiffness.  I set the alarm for 5:05 AM and hoped to be out the door heading for Lake McBride (near Solon, IA) by 5:30 on Sunday morning for a duathlon.  The duathlon is put on by Just go Faster race productions and has a nice incentive thrown in by Scheels.  They have 3 races as part of a series with points accumulated at each one.  The series winner gets $1,000.00. 

Sunday morning I awoke to a dream that someone made a big iHope donation...I won't say who...but obviously my mind was on trying to place well enough to make some money for this foundation I am passionately racing for this year.  Awarding 2 gifts to children this year and seeing how it can make a TREMENDOUS impact on their lives has me inspired to race well enough to make more money for the foundation so we can continue to change lives.  I shut the alarm off and had a quick breakfast and loaded the car.  I then had to grab my "mapquest" directions.  Yes, you saw that right.  A few weeks back I was thinking with my iPhone 5 I would never need mapquest again.  I even checked earlier in the week and Siri was able to find me directions to Lake McBride upon my request.  Unfortunately Friday was AIM (Adolescents in Motion) day at our school and my group went disc golfing in the morning.  I borrowed a disc from a student in our group and proceeded to throw the disc into Duck Creek on hole # 3 which parallels the creek.  I suck at this game.  I felt terrible for losing this kids disc so I said I would go into the creek and get it.  The problem was that I forgot my iPhone was in my pocket and Siri got "mad pissed" when I entered the water and decided never to work again.  I tried the rice trick and when I attempted to turn it on my poor phone gave one last breath and has been gone without a heartbeat ever since.  I am back to the LG Rumor Touch that I used from 2002-2007.  It's a pretty sweet phone...but I lost all my contacts.  Anyways...back to the race. 

Mapquest got me to the race site.  Due to lightning in the area the race got delayed about 25 minutes.  The duathlon consisted of a 2.5 mile run on trails, 18 mile bike ride, and 5k run again on trails. 
RUN 1- I always try to stay near the front on the first run but never want to go too fast on the first run in a duathlon.  I won't try to build a big lead on run 1, however I also don't want to get far behind either.  When the race started Jonathon Estabrook from Ankeny, IA took off.  I knew he was a great runner.  He was a former state champion in the 3200 in Iowa and still runs really well.  The lead grew to about 30 meters and it hovered there until about the mile mark when I was able catch him.  We ran together through the turnaround and then I gradually built up about a 20 second lead going into transition.  On my GPS watch my run pace was 5:45 and I had the course measured at just over 2.5 miles.  I was really happy with both transition time after seeing the results.  They better be good because next week I'm hosting a free transition clinic at 8:30 AM at Healthy Habits in Bettendorf, IA.  We have lots of sweet giveaways for the clinic so it would be great to get a good turnout. 

BIKE- I was really excited for the 18 mile bike ride.  I haven't done anything more than about 10 minutes of sustained hard riding at a time.  Although I have just started doing intervals on the bike after doing them all winter a year ago I feel like the weight lifting I've done has me strong for the bike.  It was not quite as strong as I hoped for.  Although the conditions were windy we had the wind at our back for half of the race and I was only able to average 24.1 mph.  I did not ride fast in the first mile through the park as I was pretty careful with wet roads.  Just after going through the town of Solon we turned west and a couple minutes later some guy turned onto the road and was ahead of me.  I was positive I had not gone the wrong way.  As I passed him I said, "I think you took a wrong turn somewhere" since he had come out of nowhere to grab  the lead.  He confirmed he had gone the wrong way.  At the turnaround of the bike I was hoping to have a couple minutes but I was only ahead of Jonathan by about 50 seconds.  I learned he is also very fast on his bike!  I pushed hard on the way back because I really was hoping to take the 2nd run easy so I can get a big week of training in.  I've learned the hard run after the bike is what puts the hurt on the legs and makes for a longer recovery.  My bike split was the fastest of the race. 

RUN 2- When I got off the bike I was a little worried because my lower back was tight the last 5 miles of the ride and that has ruined some runs for me in the past.  It was not an issue on the run.  Early in the run we went down a big hill and then up a different long hill.  I was getting really small cramps in my hamstrings and I knew if one of those small cramps turned into a big one I could be in trouble.  I decided to get into a good rhythm of about 6:00 pace and see where things were at the turnaround.  After the mile my legs felt good and I was running 5:45 pace.  After the turnaround I realized I was in the lead by about 2 minutes so I eased up and cruised in without doing any further damage to my legs.  My overall time was 1:18:26.  I ended up with the fastest 2nd run split as well by just a small amount over race runner-up Jonathan Estabrook.  I cooled down with he and Steven Davis from Iowa City and that was great to get a good chat in with those guys.  These multi-sport races are filled with awesome people.  The complete race results with splits can be found by clicking here

I was thrilled to find out that in addition to the race series payout the race also paid $150.00 to the winner so I would have something to bring home for iHope.  My parents are matching race winnings to the iHope Foundation so today's race funds over half of a gift.  I was thrilled by this.  It also leaves me in a tough position.  The next race in the series is on June 15th which happens to be the same day as my hometown triathlon, the QC Triathlon.  I won this race last year and love this race because so many locals are here and it's a close one for my family and friends to come watch.  I also know if I race at QC I'm giving up a chance to make a HUGE difference for iHope by going after the series win in the Scheels Duathlon series.  I'll have to do some thinking and praying for guidance on this decision.  It's been a couple slow weeks for iHope so I'm hoping my race winnings from the Lake McBride Duathlon can start a good week as we come close to the end of the first school year that iHope has been around.  If you would like to make a tax deductable contribution to iHope click here.  I would be honored by the support but more importantly some GREAT kid will feel the difference of your contribution. 

Although I was excited about winning the race I'm a long ways from where I hope to be in a couple months.  Neither my running or biking were close to where they were at this point a year ago.  I have a lot of work to do but I'm excited about how healthy I feel and know I will race my best when the bigger races roll around.  I've got a few weeks until my next race so I'll be putting in some good work over the next 2.5 weeks.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wrapping up the pre-season...Week 13

Week 13 was my final week of preparation for my first race this year.  Next weekend I'll be racing a duathlon that has a 2 mile run, 15 mile bike, and 5k run.  I'm excited to dust off my Zipp race wheels, test my fitness, and let loose on the bike for the first time this year.  This has been my shortest pre-season yet at only 13 weeks.  While last year I was entering my first races in tip-top shape this year I realize I am not but that is the way I wanted things to go this year.  My fitness is good but I'm not at a weight I want to be for peak races.  Week 13 was a really great one for me.  I ran 50 miles on 6 days of running, biked 180 miles on only 4 days of riding, and swam over 10,000 yards for the first time in 4 weeks with just 3 swims.  My swimming is by far the furthest behind but I knew with family life growing more busy as the kids are getting involved in activities of their own I wanted to wait until summer to start swimming a lot.  I have found in the past I can put in 3-4 weeks of heavy swim yardage (by my swim yardage standards 15,000-20,000 yards a week) and get very close to my best swim shape.  That will come when school is out.  I have begun to add more quality especially on the bike where 95% of my bike volume the first 12 weeks was just easy riding.  In my 4 rides this week I had hill intervals, a group ride that was very high effort and a lot of fun, and 10 minute repeat interval periods at sprint race effort where I ran 1.5 miles tempo after each, and a 73 mile long ride on Saturday battling 25+mph winds.  Saturday's ride was challenging just because of the winds and I was pleased to have Cassidy Moulton on it with me or I doubt I would have gone 73.  There were times I thought the wind gusts were going to blow me into the ditch.  Of my 6 days running I had one hard interval workout, 1 run where I ran 3x 1.5 miles tempo each after a 10 minute hard bike effort.  I averaged 5:55/5:46, and 5:31 mile pace for each 1.5 mile period and it never felt difficult.  Sunday I ran 13.5 miles which was my long for the year.  I still lifted weights twice and did all my other things like lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope, wall balls, and core work.  I even ate much more nutritiously.  I need to make that and sleep my biggest priorities from a training aspect now that I am entering race season. 

If you are looking for a chance to learn about triathlon transition mark your calendar for 8:30 AM on Saturday, May 25th at Healthy Habits bike shop in Bettendorf, IA.  I will be hosting a free clinic at the shop that morning.  I've done this 3 times in the past and have really enjoyed it.  Whether you are new to the sport or a veteran my hope is that you will leave with some new ideas for how to speed your way through T1 and T2 quicker than before.  The format is always pretty informal.  I have a list of topics I go over on how I approach transitions and a few other things about racing but I always welcome others to share their own ideas as well.  We will have samples of GU Energy products on hand for all clinic attendees as well as some givaways of triathlon gear.  The giveaways will be drawn from names of people who attend the clinic.  You will also be able to ask questions on anything you want to know triathlon related. 

This week was had our 8th local business sponsor my racing by making an iHope contribution.  Online Freight Services and local owner Kevin Wolfe along with his wife Monica made a VERY generous contribution.  Online Freight Services is a leading freight logistics provider specializing in moving freight across the country and around the world. Kevin is also extremely involved in giving back to the Make-a-Wish Foundation by organizing a local Walk for Wishes in Davenport with all proceeds benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  I feel very blessed by the support this foundation has received in the early stages.  We have been able to award 2 iHope gifts this year to AMAZING low-income students who display tremendous character and work ethic traits.  Our "Dream Big" goal is to endow this foundation so kids for eternity will be able to benefit from the foundation.  To make a tax deductible contribution click here.  Next week I'll post a race report from the season opener.  I can't wait!  DREAM BIG!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ols'...2nd iHope Gift Awarded...Week 12

On Wednesday night I'm planning to scramble from the weekly Wednesday night group ride over to Davenport North High School for the Quad Cities Athlete of the Year and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  My college coach, Paul Olsen is being inducted into the QC Sports Hall of Fame (long overdue) and I don't want to miss it.  Ols', as he is affectionately known by the thousands of athletes that have competed under his guidance, is certainly one of the top 5 most influential figures in my life.  Ols' began coaching at Augustana in the mid-1960's and is still leading the Vikings Cross Country and Track and Field teams nearly 50 years later.  Ols' earned his Ph.D from the University of Oregon in English.  He teaches English classes at Augustana even though he wouldn't need to if he didn't want to.  He loves teaching and his classes always are the first to fill up because he teaches like he coaches.  There are so many things in my daily life that would be very different if I had not had the complete and utter pleasure of running for him from the fall of 1999 when I tranferred to Augustana through the fall of 2002 when I ran my last collegiate race. I then had the privilage of serving as the assistant coach under Ols' during the 2004 and 2005 cross country seasons where he continued to teach me many valuable life lessons.  The following, in order only of what comes to my mind are things I learned from the greatest coach in the world. 

1.  The Journey is the Goal- When I first arrived on campus I assumed that journey must be to the national meet.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  This journey is life.  The goal is a successful journey through life and the teachings of Ols' allow that journey to be an awesome one. 

2.  Reckless, Aggressive, Enthusiastic, Intense- It was a motto of how we approached competition.  It had to be over 1,000 times I heard these phrases from Ols' in my time at Augustana.  Being fearless in racing and never being afraid to take a chance.  Ols' has so much history he has hundreds of inspiring stories of Augustana athletes and one that I remember was a 1500 meter runner Ols' said who was always afraid of dying at the end of a race so he never raced reckless enough in the middle of the metric mile.  Ols' told him one meet he didn't care if he stepped off the track at the bell lap...he wanted this guy to run gutsy in the middle of the race.  Ols' said the guy ran the first 1100 meters of the race on pace for a HUGE lifetime best and right at the bell lap the guy dove off the track.  Ols' was so proud of him for pushing the middle and the guy later said, "I could have kept going."  The next race he did keep going and he ran the huge lifetime best.  Lesson learned. 

3.  Enthusiasm- I've NEVER met someone with the enthusiam of Ols'.  Non-stop enthusiasm...if you know him you would swear he has never had a bad day.  He would get excited about anything...even if a race did not go well he would find something to be enthusiastic about.  His enthusiam is contageous and I'd like to think it rubbed off on me as a coach and as a teacher.  He once told me his enthusiasm is his greatest gift and I hope the same for myself. 

4.  Positive Thinking- Ols' found positives from every situation.  I ran on some of the worst teams Augustana has had in the past 30 years (which was still great by nearly any other team's standards) but he had us believing we were one of the best in the nation because of how positive he was.  He once told me about a study done by coaches of 3 different youth running teams.  One coach was very negative.  One was mostly positive but offered lots of constructive feedback.  The last was always positive no matter what.  He said the last coach would have kids fall while running and would say, "You got up faster than anyone I've ever seen" to put a positive spin on it.  After tracking the progress of the 3 different groups the negative coach's kids got worse, the positive coach who offered constructive feedback saw slight improvements, and the coach who was non-stop positive saw HUGE improvements." 

5.  "I Believe"- Another one of Ols' favorite phrases.  This one was on the back of my team shirt the first year I was at Augustana.  It goes along with the above in that Ols' always believe in what we could do.  He created this mindset in us that made us believe anything was possible.  It still impacts me today.  I can still hear his voice yelling "I believe" while running in races. 

6.  "Say Yes"...another favorite phrase.  This one applies to any positive thought that enters the mind..."Should I pass this guy?", "Can I go faster?", "Should I try to go out with the leaders even though I've never beaten them before?", "Can I do this...or that?"...the answer is always "Yes".

7.  The power of the mind- Ols' always taught us how impactful the mindset is in shaping the outcome of any situation.  I remember this story well.  Before a big meet Ols' came into the team meeting and said, "Raise your hand if you've had a wet dream."  We all laughed but then soon realized there was something serious behind this.  The reality is that wet dreams do happen and he was making the point that in that situation it is the mind which causes a physical reaction.  How powerful is that?  Knowing that one's mind can impact a physical response made us realize the power that the mind can have in determining how well we perform, how well we handle any given situation in life. 

8.  Behind every action there is a reaction- When we didn't get all of our trash picked up at a meet Ols' asked us what we thought would happen to the trash...when we left towels in the training room he asked us what would happen to made us realize that what we do leaves an impact.  When we leave something behind someone has to deal with that.  It taught us to be more responsible and respectful to the earth and our surroundings.  If often ask kids in my class that when I see gum in the urinal.  That gum doesn't just disappear.  Someone out there has to take care of it.  Behind every action there is a reaction. 

9.  "Pat's got a story"- We had a bus driver who we thought was a little strange.  She would say things that we made fun of in the back seats of the bus or when we stopped and got off.  Ols' knew this and when we were in the hotel room he said, "I don't know what Pat's story is but I know she has one.  You don't know her story.  You don't know what she has been through and dealt with in life so be careful making judgements without knowing the story."  Just because her story is far different than ours doesn't give us a right to treat her with any less compassion.  This has impacted me and helped me understand people with differences.  Great life lesson. 

10.  The Road Less Traveled- I've never had much of an appreciation for poetry.  I hated poetry in high school and college mostly because I never understood it.  My appreciation for one poem in particular could not be greater because Ols' taught us the mean.  The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost was the poem.  Ols' would often recite this poem and tell us how eating nutritous foods in college was the road less traveled...getting up early for morning runs was the road less traveled, staying in on the weekends when most college students were out partying was the road less traveled...and that is what makes all the difference.  Frost writes about coming to a spot in the woods where the road diverged.  One was well worn...the path most people take.  One was overgrown.  In the poem he takes the one less traveled and knowing "How way leads on to way..." meaning how one things leads to another he doubts that he would ever come back.  That path less traveled makes all the difference.  I often think about this in my own life.  When deciding to resign from 3 sports while weighing 195 lbs. to go "all in" with a belief that I could become a professional triathlete while being married, having a full-time job, and having just had our first child...the road less traveled.  Now here I am 4 years later..."way leads on to way" and I'm so glad I have taken that path less traveled.  It has made all the difference. 

Thanks Ols' for everything you taught me.  Your impact has been felt by so many of the kids I teach and people I have met.  The same I'm sure can be said for thousands of other athletes you coached.  I learned more from you than I ever did in any classroom.  I'd say in college the impact you made on my life was greater than the impact of all my classes combined.  You taught me to believe that anything is possible and the journey is a great one.  What I learned from you is why I don't get afraid or nervous when I'm on the line at professional races with the best triathletes in the world.  Instead I embrace knowing that I've earned my place on the line with them. 

On Tuesday we were able to give our 2nd iHope gift of the year.  It was super inspring.  This gift was made possible by an anonymous donation to fund an entire iHope gift.  The student received an iPad and protective case.  The student's mom, grandma, and aunt all came to watch us give the gift.  The student had no idea and was more than a little surprised to see their family in our school conference room.  This student is a model of character for our school.  The student treats others with compassion and respect.  The student works tremendously hard.  When we gave the gift along with the letter the student was in tears and so were many of us in the room.  It was completely inspring and is exactly what we hope to be able to do more often as the iHope foundation grows.  The student gave us a thank-you card later in the week and described what the iHope gift meant and how it has been difficult being raised without a father-figure in their life.  The student mentioned the high goals they have for their own future and how they realize nothing will be handed to them...everything must be earned.  The student also said some day they are looking forward to being able to give back to iHope.  You can help us continue to grow the foundation by making a tax-deductible contribtion or just learn more about the iHope foundation by clicking here

The week was a good one.  The highlight was placing 2nd in a 5k over the weekend and earning $200.00 that will go to the iHope Foundation.  Because my parents have generously agreed to match all my race winnings that nearly funds and entire iHope gift.  Jen placed 1st in the women's 5k amazingly about 6 hours after her sister's bachelorette party ended.   Sunday was my biggest day of training yet this year at just over 6 hours with a 90 mile ride followed by a 13 mile run.  Only 5 weeks until my first triathlon of the year.  As I seem to say every week I need to make it a point to get to race weight now.  I'm strong and surprised by how well I'm running at my current weight but it's time to reduce my body fat % down to something respectable.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!