Monday, August 26, 2013

9 Weeks...Goals for B2B

As of Saturday only 9 weeks remain until my final race of the year which also has been the race I've looked forward to peaking at during the 2013 race season.  That race is the Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance race in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 26th.  I spent this past week getting recovered from my first and only 1/2 Ironman distance race of the year.  I wanted to make sure I took the week easy and let myself enjoy some of the foods I will now put on the shelf until October 27th.  I was pretty sore on Monday and Tuesday.  Those two days I swam and biked easy.  Mostly my calves and groin muscles were really tight.  I started feeling better on Tuesday evening and had a nice tempo run with our high school team on Wednesday.  Saturday I rode 53 miles.  I attended class at Barre563 on Thursday and Sunday.  I will continue to attend classes twice weekly until my race in 9 weeks.  I'm so excited about the strength and flexibility I've gained from these classes and know it will put me in a good spot when race day arrives.  Now that the easy rest week is complete I will begin a good 7 week stretch with the biggest emphasis being on my running.  My goal is to build my run mileage to 60-65 miles a week over the next 5 weeks.  I will stay in that 60 mile range through week 7 when I will begin to cut back.  On the bike my emphasis will be on interval training with a weekly long ride thrown in the mix.  I plan to only ride 4-5 times a week during this training schedule.  For swimming I will only swim three times a week until about 3 weeks before the race when I will begin to increase the number of days I'm getting in the water.  I will continue getting an open water long swim for as long as the water stays bearable.  Right now due to our warm temperatures the water is too warm so I'll stay in the pool until we get some cooler weather which hopefully will be by next week.  This race is known for a notoriously fast swim because they swim it with the current in a bay of the ocean.  I have heard rumors that the tide won't be near as much to our advantage this year and swim times may be even slower than they were in 2011 when they only cut about 5 minutes off the average swimmer's Ironman distance swim time.  Last year they were about 15 minutes faster.  I was banking on a strong current so that I could get by with less time in the pool.  Whether we have the big current or a small one I will still not put in the pool time I was a year ago.  Things are much busier than they used to be for me with the kids getting older and involved in more things.  It's hard for me to believe my daughter is in Kindergarten! 

I've never done this race so I can't get real specific on my goals.  I know the bike is flat but I heard there are sections where speeds are pretty low when crossing over a bridge with a rough road surface.  I've heard there are other spots on the roads where the surface is not real fast.  Bike times from last year were not very fast so there must be something because the course is almost entirely at sea level.  I would guess it can get windy near the ocean.  I have a goal of breaking 9 hours for the race.  I'd also like to run a new Ironman PR for the marathon which would mean sub 3 hours 10 minutes.  If I can do those things I should be somewhere near the front of the race.  I've learned that anything can happen so I'm not putting a big goal out there for overall place.  It would be a bonus if I could bring some money home for iHope.  Speaking of iHope, I owe a HUGE thanks to Erik and Monica Belby, Phil Pancrazio, and Barre563 for generous contributions to the foundation this week.  Barre563 has become the 9th local business to support the iHope Foundation.  If you would like to give Barre563 a try they offer new clients a chance to check it out with a 15 day unlimited trial for only $20.00.  Find that deal and get to know more about Barre563 at  If you'd like to help with the iHope mission of providing low-income students who display outstanding character and work traits with technology click here and you can make a tax deductible contribution.  A contribution of ANY amount is greatly appreciated.  We are looking forward to providing more iHope gifts to students this year.  We believe that the gift of an iPad for these students can potentially be life-changing by giving them a resource to help with school and help bring them hope to see an educational future beyond high school.  All of the students presented with an iHope gift are given a letter encouraging them to one day pay it forward by making a positive difference for others in their community.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pigman Longcourse Race Report and Results

I spent some time this week watching a youtube video of local Leadville 100 finisher John Byrne present to a group of St. Ambrose University athletes.  The video was from 2011 and Dr. Byrne described his Leadville journey and what it has meant for his life.  He is one of the most motivational people I have met and he is also someone who sets extremely high goals for himself and then goes and does the work required.  I have been emphasizing goal setting to my students in the first week back to school and knew I could draw on the experiences of John Byrne to help with this.  One of the most important things I got from watching his presentation was that oftentimes the most rewarding experiences we go through are the toughest ones.  As I think back on my races this year I knew Pigman would be the most challenging so far and even though the pay day was not as much as some of the other races I've done it will be a race I remember for a long time because I was forced to dig very deep and prove some things to myself.  Now to the race...

I put together a 10 day taper for this race.  It was the first race this year I have tapered for and it went incredibly well.  I felt a little bit stronger with each day as I got more rested.  I swam more often than I typically do but I cut the yards back during each session and it left me swimming my fastest workout times of the year in the days approaching the race.  On the bike I cut the miles WAY back from what I had been doing.  I only rode 3 of the last 9 days leading up to the race but they all involved some quality intervals and my power numbers went up and the effort went down with each session.  Running was my big question mark.  After missing 6 weeks of running I began my taper on only 10 days of running.  I knew I didn't have much to taper from in this discipline but I did run 6x400's on Wednesday averaging 72 seconds each with 1 minute rest.  This was 6 days after I did 8 of them averaging 78 seconds so it was a big confidence booster.  My longest run in the past 2 months was last Sunday when I logged 10 miles.  It felt fine and I was sure I could make the 13.1 mile run but not sure how hard I would be able to push my body.  I wrote my goal times on the board at school before I left on Friday.  They were...Swim- 29:00 or better, T1- under 1:30, Bike- 2:16:00 or better, T2- under 1:30, Run- Under 1:20.  Total time- Under 4 hrs. 8 minutes.  Goal place- top 5. 

This was the first half ironman distance race for my wife Jen.  We stayed with my parents in Davenport on Saturday night because it would be 20 minutes closer to the race site and we could be with the kids all evening.  We left my parents house at 4:30 AM and arrived at the race site in Palo, IA at about 6:15.  It took longer to get our packets than expected because my USAT membership card is on my key ring and we had Jen's keys.  I had to find it online and prove I was a USAT member...note to self...put card in wallet!  By the time we got our numbers on our bike and got checked in we did not have much time to spare.  Jen and I ran a mile and returned to transition finding it closed.  We had to sneak in to grab our wetsuits.  I swam about a 400 yard warm up and took my place on the start line.  Jen and I would be starting the race together in the Elite wave of men and women.  Relay teams would also be going out with us.  The field was loaded but I was confident.  David Thompson, who hails from Minneapolis was racing.  He is one of the top triathletes in the US.  My good buddy Adam Bohach who I enjoyed training with when he lived in Clinton was also racing.  He had already gone under 4 hours for a 1/2 Ironman twice this year.  Weslie Anderson is a pro triathlete from Iowa who has lived in Texas the past few years.  He was on the line.  Kevin O'Conner who owns Gear West in Minnesota and is a great triathlete was on the line.  Scott Bowe, who went 9 hrs. flat at Ironman Arizona 2 years ago was on the line.  I knew there was a strong chance I would finish out of the top 5 if I didn't have a great race.  I was VERY confident and SUPER excited to race by the way my 10 day taper had gone. 

SWIM- I have been swimming in a new Xterra Vendetta sleeveless suit this year.  I have loved it.  Over the past month I've been going to a lake about once a week and doing a long straight swim with no stopping.  I have gone between 45 minutes and 1 hr. 5 minutes.  I could tell each time that I was stronger than the time before.  I life the sleeveless Vendetta because it has tremendous buoyancy in the legs lifting them high but with the absence of sleeves my upper body is actually positioned a little deeper in the water giving me a "downhill swimming" position.  I have learned from my open water swims that if I swim relaxed with long strokes like my swim coach Stacey Zapolski has taught me that I have no problem breathing every 3 strokes even for 1 hour straight.  By breathing less I am swimming more efficiently.  My plan was to go out conservative and swim the entire thing breathing every 3.  I did this to the first turn buoy that was probably 700-800 yards into the swim.  It felt very relaxed.  Turning around that buoy I found myself in the middle of a large pack of swimmers.  I looked ahead and couldn't see anyone.  I knew David Thompson was probably off the front with a couple other swimmers but I felt like the group around me was probably large enough and good enough that I would be wasting energy forging ahead alone so I just swam in the group.  I was completely relaxed and took breaths every 2 strokes to conserve oxygen and site more often to make sure I stayed in the draft.  This was the largest pack of swimmers I've ever been in that far into a race.  We stayed together as one big pack for the remainder of the swim and it was easily the best swim of my life.  There were times I worried it was so easy that we were going to be slow but I was thrilled to see 28:40 when I crossed the swim timing mat exiting the water.  Looking at results it was indeed 8 of us who exited within seconds of each other.  My swim rank was 12 out of the 300 long course athletes.  I had my best swim ever in a year when I have swam less than any of the past 4 seasons.  How?  I believe the strength and flexibility I've gained from attending Barre563 over the past 5 weeks was a contributing factor.  I believe the Xterra Vendetta sleeveless was a factor.  The group was obviously a factor but I think I would have swam the same time just would have taken more energy.  I was with them at the first turn without swimming in the draft to that first buoy. 

BIKE- The bike is what I was really excited about.  I put in big chunks of volume while my back was hurt and now my legs were very rested from the taper.  I took my bike to Healthy Habits on Thursday and had them clean the entire drive train.  Dan Adams took great care of making sure my bike was ready to roll.  My entire drive train looked brand new and I could tell in my pre-race ride that the clean drive train was allowing me to ride extremely smooth and with less effort.  I think I will continue having this done a couple times a year before my biggest races.  I was also excited because I knew the strength I've gained in my hips, glutes, and quads from work at Barre563 would get to show for the first time in a race.  2 weeks ago probably wasn't enough time for my body to have adapted to that work but at 5 weeks I knew I would see some increase in power.  My first transition was 1:29 so I was about 20 seconds under goal as I began the bike.  I planned to split each 14 mile segment and hoped to keep them at 34 minutes or under.  Four segments at 34 minutes would give me the 2 hr. 16 minute split I was looking for.  The Olympic distance athletes were out on course so I couldn't tell early on whether I was passing Olympic distance athletes or 1/2 IM guys.  When we got past the point where they turned it was a lonely road.  I couldn't see anyone in front of me for another 5 miles.  I went through the first 14 miles at 33:05 so I was already nearly 1 minute under my bike goal.  It also meant I would go through 15 miles of a 56 mile bike ride faster than I road 15 miles 2 weeks ago at the Crossroads Triathlon in DeWitt.  About 18 miles in one of the race officials pulled up next to me on his motorcycle and complimented me on the "machine" I was riding.  I asked if he knew what place I was in.  I was guessing 3rd or 4th.  He said he would ride up the road and find out.  About 5 miles later he returned and said I was 7th!  Crap.  I told him I had a lot of work to do.  I could see one rider in front of me that I was slowly gaining on but he was still quite a bit up the road.  I went through the 2nd 14 mile split in 32:45.  I was now over 2 minutes under my bike goal!  What I didn't realize was that we would be riding into a small headwind on the way back.  I also didn't realize I was about to go through a really rough first of the race.  At the turnaround I got to see everyone in front.  David Thompson and another rider were 5 minutes in front, then Adam Bohach was about 3:30 up and the next 3 guys were within a couple minutes with Scott Bowe in 6th up about 20 seconds.  I hoped to bridge the gap up to Scott after the turnaround but I started losing power as my quads began to cramp.  I drank down my Ironman brew but had a hard time keeping it down.  I threw up once on the bike as it came back up.  I had been getting out of the saddle in big gears at the tops of the climbs as a way to stretch my legs and power over the tops but it was really beating up my quads.  They began cramping bad about mile 30.  I was starting to lose ground on Scott Bowe and was getting worried that I was already falling apart.  I hit my 3rd 14 mile checkpoint and was 34:55.  I had lost almost a minute and was now only 1:25 under goal time for the bike.  It was at this point when I began feeling better.  My good buddy Robert White was all over the course cheering for me and giving updates.  His encouragement was a big help.  I passed by Jen as she was on her way to the turnaround just after I'd had some big quad cramps.  I started increasing the amount of salt pills I was taking hoping to fight away the cramping.  Things got much better after mile 42.  I began to gain time back on 6th and when I got it back to 20 seconds I put in a big effort to bridge up to the 10 meter gap and recovered there for a few minutes.  When I passed him I encouraged him to work with me and we traded off and on over the last 15 miles staying back 10 meters when we weren't leading.  Even at 10 meters it seemed to save about 20 watts if I had to guess.  I entered T2 with a bike time of 2 hrs. 14 minutes, 1 second.  It was the 4th fastest bike split of the race at just over 25 mph average.  The top 3 splits were all ahead of me after the swim and still ahead of me heading to the run. 

RUN- In the 2nd transition I meant to put on socks.  I had set them out and was going to decide before I came in.  I was already getting blisters on the bike without socks and knew I would want to put them on for the run.  It was my first race in the Asics Pirhanas and those shoes are very minimal.  I knew they would chew my feet up.  However, before I could think about it I had already put my shoes on and I decided not to take them off.  I left my socks there and grabbed 3 GU's and 4 salt pills for the run.  I put them in the pockets of my Kiwami Konami suit and headed out not sure what to expect.  In the first mile I was running in 7th and Scott Bowe was pulling away from me.  I had thought the run was the one area I would be stronger than him and when he began to pull away it left me having a pity party.  I started thinking my legs must not be ready to handle running how I normally do off the lack of mileage.  I entered this race with less than 90 miles of running total over the past 2 months.  I had on my GPS watch and I was only running 6:20 pace and it did not feel easy.  I hate running in the sun and this course had sun everywhere.  My body felt like it was roasting even though the temperatures were only around 80 because the sun was so bright.  Thankfully things began to change around mile 3.  I saw pro triathlete Daniel Bretscher who was out cooling down after winning the Olympic distance race.  He told me that 3rd place had blown up and would come back quick.  He told me in these conditions you just have to hang in there and people will start to fade.  I was only 2 places out of the money and winning anything for iHope in this race would be an accomplishment.  Almost immediately I began to hit the rhythm close to what I was looking for and I started gaining ground on Scott Bowe who was in 6th.  I passed him just before the 1/2 way point and then passed the guy who had blown up.  I was running in 5th but still didn't know if anyone out of the Elite wave would be racing faster than me.  The worst would be to get 5th in the elite wave an then find out someone from an amateur wave bumped me off the podium.  I could tell I was gaining on 3rd and 4th but the work was getting really tough.  Robert continued to give me time splits.  At mile 10 I passed Kevin O'Conner and moved into 4th.  I could see 3rd was getting closer.  That was Wesley Anderson.  He is really good and I was thinking about how much John Byrne described suffering during Leadville and how bad he wanted to quit at mile 41 when he still had 59 miles to go.  I remembered how he focused his mind on the crucifix he was carrying and that eased his pain.  I mentally did that and I got to within 25 seconds of 3rd and then about mile 11.5 is when things started to really go downhill.  I was beginning to run on fumes and by mile 12 Kevin O'Conner had passed me back and Wes had pulled well ahead.  I was worried about getting passed again and kept telling myself to suffer through the last 7 minutes without giving up.  Finally I made it to the finish line in 4 hrs. 8 minutes, 28 seconds.  I had just missed my overall goal time but had met my goal placing of 5th.  My run time was 1:23:13 which was the 5th fastest of the day and 3rd fastest of the elite field.  I know that with 10 weeks to go until Beach 2 Battleship I have time to fix my run.  I think the suffering I pushed through today will pay off during that race. 

I was thrilled to watch Jen finish in 4 hrs. 56 minutes.  She was disappointed initially because she places very high expectations on herself.  I thought it was a tremendous debut at the 1/2 IM distance.  I am sure she learned a lot about herself.  She said she wanted to quit on numerous occasions.  She was the 5th elite finisher but got beat by 1 female from the age-group waves.  I still believe races that have prize money and elite fields should require athletes to register elite to have a chance at the money.  Some races do this and some do not.  I think it's only fair to be racing the athletes you are competing against for the prize money.  I was also really excited about Adam Bohach placing 2nd and going under 4 hours for the 3rd time this year.  Adam has improved so much with dedicated training.  I used to be able to ride faster than him but even with a great ride today I was no match for his 2:12 bike split.  Adam had the race best run in 1:15:53.  My good buddy and college teammate Randy Bill completed his 1st 1/2 Ironman today and he was the 4th place overall finisher of non-elites.  He was 15th overall.  He has really improved a lot in his first year training for the sport.  It was great seeing a lot of QC athletes finish well today.  Congrats to all who raced in the Olympic and Longcourse race today.  Be proud of that accomplishment!  Complete results from today's race with splits can be found by clicking here.  Today's race was the hardest earned $125.00 for the iHope Foundation I have made at a race so far.  My parents will match today's race meaning the race will pay for 1/2 of an iPad gift.  If you would like to add to that amount by making a tax deductible contribution click here.  It's been amazing how this foundation has grown and we are going to be able to give many life-changing gifts of technology to low-income students that have great character and work traits. 

Barre563 was featured this week in the QC Times.  You can read that feature here.  I am really excited to see what new levels this workout will take me to over the next 10 weeks as I prepare for Beach 2 Battleship on October 26th.  For the next few days I will focus on getting recovered.  Then I will begin to get good training with a focus on bike quality and run mileage as I get prepared to go sub-9 hours on October 26th.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Science of Tapering...

I chose to write about tapering this week.  By definition according to Siri taper means "diminish gradually".  Nearly every endurance athlete looks forward to hearing the word taper because they know that means they will gradually diminish the workouts they have done in hopes of arriving at race day ready for a peak performance.  There is a plethora of information in books and on the web regarding how to taper effectively.  The following is what I think about tapering which you may or may not agree with.  Feel free to add your own taper advice. 

I have always believed that tapering effectively is very individual.  What I mean by that is that the most effective taper is not a "one size fits all" approach.  There are so many factors that determine how to taper effectively leaving the gas tank full and the engine ready to roll on race day.  One question I get asked often is how long an athlete should taper for.  This is also very individualized.  Some athletes prefer a long taper of 2 weeks to even a month for Ironman events.  Some athletes prefer to taper for a much shorter period of time such as 5-7 days.  I have learned through the years of racing my body responds better to a shorter but much more aggressive taper.  By this I mean about the longest period of time I taper is 10 days but in that 10 days I may cut my volume by 70-80% over a typical 10 day training block. 

Another factor that is important to tapering is how much work the athlete has put in leading up to the taper.  Athletes that work out 2-3 days a week will not have much to taper off.  Do you cut from 2 days a week down to 1?  I wouldn't think so.  The bigger the base of training leading into the taper the more benefit the taper will have because the body will feel much more rested than it typically does.  I have always been a believer that it is important when tapering to leave the quality workouts in the taper.  I feel if the high intensity workouts are removed from the plan then it leads the athletes to feeling "flat" on race day.  All of a sudden the tapered athlete is trying to race faster than the body has gone since the taper began.  For me, I have always found too little working out to be much better than too much working out when it comes to how much the workouts should be cut back. 

Another important thing to remember is that within a season it is not very practical to taper for every race. If you are constantly resting and then racing there is not a lot of work to draw on come race day.  I back off 1 day for events I don't care to be rested at, 2-3 days for events I want to do well in without sacrificing future races, 6 days for events that I would call "B" races where I want to get a good result but not at a big price in the big picture of the season, and then there are "A" races where you will sacrifice poor performance in the week or 2 following because you have backed off so much for that 1 big day.  I typically have 2 "A" races in a year but my race schedule goes from April to October or November most years.  Next week I will be racing in the Pigman Longcourse event which is a 1/2 Ironman distance race.  On Wednesday night after feeling extremely tired I decided I wanted to go after this race with an "A" race 10 day taper.  I decided this because I've put in a huge block of cycling over the past 6 weeks and my swimming is as good as it's been this year right now.  I also don't have another important race for 10 weeks following this one so I have plenty of time to rebuild the engine back up.  The last reason is because this race is my only 1/2 Ironman distance race of the year and that is my favorite distance to race. 

I decided to use all the data I've collected since I began this triathlon journey in November of 2008.  I made a spreadsheet listing about 7-8 races I've tapered for since that time and I listed what I did each day from 10 days out up to race day.  I then totaled my 10 day volume for each race and also my last 5 days of volume.  I went through each race where I ran or biked particularly well and noted that.  What I found was that every race I listed on the spreadsheet with the exception of Racine 70.3 last year went well.  I did not include Madison from 2012 or Arizona from 2013 because my entire training leading up to them was poor.  I will add those later just to see where the last 10 days lays in comparison with the others but the bottom line for those was I just did not do enough work in the 6 weeks leading to them. 

What I found from my experiment was that every time I had great bike splits my 10 day volume was between 75 and 100 miles for the bike and 25-35 miles for the run.  I couldn't believe how low that total was because a good 10 day stretch of training for me would normally be 350 bike miles and 70 run miles.  My good races had SUPER low 5 day totals some times including only 1 bike ride of 20 miles.  In the Chicago Triathlon (2009) I only ran 12.5 miles and biked 15 miles in the last 5 days leading up to the race.  I averaged 26.1 mph on the bike for 25 miles in the race and ran 35:20 for the 10k on a HOT day which was a great race for me.  My good bike split at Cedar Point last year came on similar 5 day bike volume (20 miles).  Of the sample of races I looked at the one with the highest 10 day AND 5 day volumes was Racine last year when things went terrible.  It was good to see how cutting back less possibly played a role in not being ready to race well.  I took the information I had and put laid out 10 days of workouts leading up to Pigman Longcourse next weekend.  It has me excited about racing my best of the year.  Through this 10 day stretch I will bike 105 miles, run 31 miles, and swim 16,800 yards.  I actually don't know what how to most effectively taper for the swim because I've never swam well.  I suspect that I swim better when I actually increase my yards close to a race because I don't swim nearly as much as I bike or run.  I have found I get a better feel for the water when I get in the water more often and that leads to faster swims for me.  I cut back the yards of each swim and reduce the volume of the hard sets but I swim more frequently than I do pre-taper.  My 5 day volume heading into Pigman next weekend will be 5,500 yards swimming, 20 miles biking, and 14 miles running.  I will take Friday completely off from working out.  I don't take many days completely off.  My last one was mid-June.  I find if I take the day off before a race it takes awhile for my legs to wake up because they aren't used to taking that day of complete rest and blood hasn't been moving through them as it normally does.  If I take a day off in race week it has always been 2 days before the race.  I will no doubt be rested next week.  The big variable in this taper is that I don't have much to taper from in the run aspect.  It's mainly a huge bike taper.  I've only been running for 2 weeks and I'll enter race day with less than 90 miles of running since my 6 week layoff with my sore back.  I have seen good progress with my running this week.  I ran 8x400 with 1 minute rest after each on Wednesday and it went well.  Friday I ran a 4 mile tempo run in 23:10 and negative split each mile with the last one at 5:31.  I ran 10 miles today and it was the longest run I've done in almost 2 months.  My body handled it without any difficulty.  I'm relying on having enough residual run fitness from the years of high volume and hoping the number of 5+ hour bike rides I've done this year will be enough to get me from T2 to the finish line.  I'm very confident in the workload I put in on the bike while my back was hurt so I need to ride well.  I'm also confident that I've gained strength from attending classes at Barre563 over the past 5 weeks.  I think that work will begin to pay off next weekend. 

The race on Saturday will be the most competitive one I've done this year.  My goal is to finish top-5 which is in the paychecks and would be a bonus for iHope.  There are 15 elite men signed up right now and that number could increase this week.  Top 3 would be the ultimate goal.  If the weather is good and the winds aren't crazy I'd like to swim 29:00, bike 2 hrs. 15 minutes, and run 1 hr. 20 minutes.  Adding in transition times that would put me somewhere around 4 hours 7 minutes.  Last year the weather was bad and it slowed everyone down.  I'm looking forward to it.  I have noticed the effects of the taper beginning when I rode bike intervals last night and hit power numbers I haven't hit in quite some time.  It should really begin to take effect when I get inside the last 5 days.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crossroads Triathlon and Scheels Duathlon Series

This week was certainly a HUGE step in the right direction for me.  After 6 weeks of back pain I'm still not sure how to put into words how it went away in moments of lying down last Saturday but I haven't had a bit of discomfort since.  As a result I was a finally able to run consistently through the entire week.  For the week I ran 33 miles, biked 179 miles, and swam 11,600 yards.  I also attended Barre563 twice for strength training.  I knew the combination of running consistently for the first time in 6 weeks along with ending a 10 day bike block on Wednesday that included 560 miles was not going to put my body in ideal condition to race well this weekend.  Despite that I chose to race locally on Saturday in the Crossroads Sprint triathlon held in DeWitt, Iowa and then in Iowa City on Sunday for the last race of the Scheels Duathlon series. 

Crossroads Triathlon
This event grew in numbers this year with 200 athletes competing.  It was great to see the local race increase after many years of declining numbers.  2nd year race director Kevin Benes has done a fantastic job of marketing the race and putting on a nice event.  The weather was perfect this year with temperatures in the low-60's.  Kevin organized a small elite wave of guys to go in the first wave along with one of the female age groups.  It was nice to race head to head with other guys who had a chance to place high.  I arrived early to T2 and dropped off my run gear.  I warmed up with a 2 mile run and went through my strides and drills.  After that I packed the rest of my things and rode 4 miles to T1 where I finished my warm up with 6x30 second accelerations on the bike during another 4 mile ride.  I wasn't left with much more time so my swim warm up was cut to only 200 yards. 

SWIM: The swim is 500 yards although this year it was a bit long.  I knew I was in much better swim shape than last year for this race when I had gone through a triathlon depression and hadn't been training with any purpose leading into the race.  I knew local triathletes Chris Scott and Corey Towle were better swimmers than I was so I was hoping to stay on their feet for as long as possible.  Corey didn't have a wetsuit and that slowed him down.  When the race started I let Chris Scott get away to my outside and I couldn't catch him once he came down for the first turn. I swam solo in 2nd position for about the first 350 yards until Corey came up next to me after we turned around the last buoy.   I was able to get on his hip and draft the rest of the swim in.  My swim time was 7:49 and it ranked 7th.  I had the fastest transition of the race (not counting relays) in T1 and got on my bike about 15 seconds behind Chris Scott and Corey's relay. 

BIKE: By the mile mark I was in the lead and pushing hard on the rolling hills.  I've always loved the bike course in DeWitt.  It has a lot of hills but they play to my strengths because they are long and gradual enough that I'm able to pick up a lot of speed going downhill and then use big bursts of power to climb over the tops without losing too much speed.  At mile 5.5 we hit a turnaround and it gave me a chance to see where people were at.  I had about 1:20 lead on Chris Scott and Charlie Paul was riding great in his first triathlon ever about 30 seconds behind him.  Charlie was an athlete I coached in high school and he just wrapped up his collegiate career at Iowa State where he ran 14:20 for 5k.  I knew he was going to run a ridiculous 5k split in DeWitt.  To the turn we had been riding into a northern headwind.  I was only averaging about 23 mph to the turn abut once we hit the turnaround the speeds increased dramatically.  After riding back to mile 11 we took a right hand turn to head into town where T2 awaited us.  I was able to stay in my aero position on all the hills after the first turnaround because the tailwind was enough that I was still going fast up the hills.  The bike course this year was more challenging than last year when we had winds out of the east pushing us for the final 4 miles.  I was happy to have an average speed pretty close to last year despite the more difficult conditions.  I averaged 25.7 mph and it was the fastest bike split of the race. 

RUN: I headed out of T2 knowing I had a pretty decent lead and this would be the first time I ran hard in 6 weeks.  I pushed a little harder than tempo effort to the 1/2 way point of the run and saw my lead about nearly 4 minutes to 2nd.  I was able to ease things back the rest of the way in knowing I needed to save something for Saturday's race.  I was pretty sure the first race in 6 weeks combined with the running and big bike mileage I had put in would already leave me with enough soreness.  I ended the run with a 5k split of 17:30 which tied for the 3rd fastest of the day.  My overall time was 1:01:34.  Brian Cewe had an outstanding race out of a later wave to get 2nd place in 1:03:19.  He has improved a ton over the past two years.  Charlie Paul did run the ridiculous 5k split I thought he would to get 3rd.  Charlie's 5k time AFTER swimming and biking was 15:17!!  I'm really excited about his potential in the sport.  He swam pretty well for not swimming until about a month ago and his biking is already improving a lot.  I coached Charlie in junior high and he ran the mile in about 6:20...which shows what can happen when you DREAM BIG and work hard for things.  Complete results from the race with splits can be found by clicking here.  I was also really proud of Robert White, a local triathlete I've been coaching for the past 9 weeks.  Robert dropped a staggering 20 minutes off his time from last year!!  Keep in mind this is a sprint race.  He placed 3rd in his age group and had the fastest 5k run of his life averaging under 7:00/mile.  I was also really proud of my younger brother Josh who raced the best triathlon of his life finishing in 1 hr. 28 minutes!  He's been working really hard at getting into great shape this year. 

With "15:17" Charlie Paul
Very Proud of Robert White!


Dam Duathlon
Sunday was the final duathlon of the Scheels Duathlon series and I was hoping to finish things off by winning for the 3rd time in the 3 race series.  I knew this could be a HUGE day for iHope.  Also exciting was that Jen would be racing in the duathlon with me.  We woke up early at 4:45.  It wasn't much sleep because we had been at a wedding carb loading with cake until about 11:00 pm the night before.  As we drove to the course we realized this was going to be a HUGE challenge.  The hills were endless and not the rolling type that I prefer.  They were long and steep.  The race consisted of a 2 mile run, 15 mile bike, and 2 mile run.  Both runs were uphill for the first half and downhill the 2nd half.  The hill running I knew would make me even more sore than I already was.  As expected with the return to running and the race on Saturday I was quite sore on Sunday morning. 

RUN: I knew the first run would be faster than my body was ready for.  The course was a bit long.  I think I averaged right around 5:35/mile on the first 2 mile run.  I was content to come into T1 along side 2 other guys in a 3 man lead group.  I was hoping to gain at least a 1 minute advantage on the bike so I wouldn't have to dig into suffer mode on the 2nd run. 

BIKE: I had trouble getting away on the bike course.  The hills were steep enough that I was not comfortable.  I rode the first couple big hills in my small ring but at the first 180 degree turn around mile 3.5 I was only up by 10 seconds.  This course was challenging enough with the hills but it also featured five 180 degree speed sucking turns.  All of that combined to make for constant effort changes and short extreme power spikes which the legs would pay for.  At the 2nd turnaround near mile 5 I had opened the gap to 20 seconds.  I had made the decision to stay in my big gear up the climbs and grind out a lower cadence to the top.  I was going faster that way than spinning faster in the small gears.  The 3rd 180 turn was in a tough spot.  It was in the middle of a big downhill and I wasn't expecting it so I came off the turn in a really bad gear.  I was up about 25 seconds.  By the next 180 turn the gap was up to 40 seconds.  On the final 180 turn it was 1 minute.  Heading back to T2 things got a bit scary.  I had to pass 2 cars that were stopped at one intersection and that always leads to a bit of a nervous moment.  Then the worst was as I approached the downhill turnaround where I would be going straight since I had already done my 2nd lap.  As I got close there was a biker I was about to lap.  I knew she would beat me to the spot by about 5 seconds so I thought I would be clear to charge down the hill.  Just before she turned around at the spot she glanced over her shoulder and panicked a bit causing a "freeze" reaction.  I was scared we were going to crash.  I was able to escape just to her right and get going again.  I cruised into T2 with the fastest bike split of the race. 

RUN2: I knew I had about a minute lead which should be enough over 2 miles if I didn't experience any major disasters.  To win the series I only needed to be 4th but I wanted to win the last race as well.  I ran pretty relaxed and at the turn saw I still had over a minute lead so I ran comfortably to the finish line although the downhill mile beat the crap out of my quad muscles that are aching as I type this report.  I won the race in a time of 1:03:09.  Jen won the women's race as well.  That was the first time we have both won a multisport race together.  Hopefully we'll experience that more down the road.  I was thrilled to be done when I hit the finish line.  I knew I had really asked a lot out of my body this week by wearing myself out on the bike, running for the first time in 6 weeks, and then racing twice.  It is something I am paying for now but with some easy recovery workouts the next couple days I think my body will adapt to that workload and come out stronger.  It was great spending time with our friend Phil Pancrazio after the duathlon.  Phil raced awesome.  He is in the best shape of his life at age 56!  It's awesome to see how health and fitness can continue at any age.  Complete results with splits can be found by clicking here

The Dam Duathlon and Scheels series win were very meaningful to the iHope Foundation.  I earned $150.00 for winning the race yesterday and then was awarded my biggest racing check to date of $1,000.00 for winning the series.  The money I win is being matched by my parents who have been so generous to the foundation.  That means yesterday's checks will buy pay for over 4 iPads for low-income students who have great character and work traits.  My goal when starting the foundation was to purchase 1 iPad in the spring and accumulate $2,000.00 in the foundation by the end of the summer.  We were able to award 2 iPads in the spring and have now accumulated about $9,000.00 for the foundation.  I've been overwhelmed by the support and generosity others have shown to this cause.  If you would like to contribute with a tax deductible donation to iHope you can click the link here.  What was once just a dream of endowing this foundation is now rapidly approaching reality. 

I am also pleased to announce that Barre563 has extended the iHope promotion for another week.  For every new client special purchased using promotional code "iHope" they are donating 1/2 of the $20.00 fee back to the foundation.  I have been amazed by how much I have gained from attending class twice weekly over the past 3 weeks.  I am going to continue attending because I know this is going to help me race better than ever.  I can already see and feel the differences.  I believe with how tired and sore I was I would not have raced as well this past weekend without the strength gains I've made from Barre563.  To sign up or get more information about Barre563 visit 

I have 2 weeks remaining until Pigman Longcourse.  My immediate focus is on getting recovered.  Next week will be an easy week.  I realize I'll be racing without the running mileage I would recommend anyone have going into a 1/2 Ironman distance race.  I'll be going in on 3 weeks of running and if all goes well my longest run will be 10 miles next weekend.  Not ideal for coming off the bike and racing a 13.1 miles but I'll give it my best shot and hope the long bike rides give me enough endurance to survive.  The race will also be a VERY talented field.  I've earned about $3,000.00 racing for iHope this summer (not counting Mr. and Mrs. Paul's generous match) so anything else the rest of the season would be a bonus.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!