March 31, 2010

Cali 70.3 Race Report

This last weekend I got to join over 2,200 people from over 30 countries for my second half ironman. By this time last year, I had raced over a handful of times a variety of races. However, this year I decided to sit them out and the hardest to let go was The Vision Quest race but in trying to just focus on my first Ironman (St George) and do something different I really don't feel like I am "giving up" anything. I am really enjoying just swimming, biking and running. Something makes me feel like going long is a good fit for me. Well, it makes me happy anyway.

Thats not my running technique...its the end of a double shaka

Last year, I jumped into the Oceanside 70.3 and I though for sure I would be racing a few more 70.3’s by the end of the year. . . I guess I am just a slacker because it took me a year to get into another one of them and I am at the same 70.3. I hope to race a few more of these this year if it all works out in the unplanned schedule.

I was not even sure if I would be able to race this weekend after my recent “issues” so I was really stoked just to make it out to the starting line and get to see some friends.
I thought that I would list out my goals for Oceanside. These tend to slide if they are not written down and when expectations creep in from outsiders or growing goals in the mind.

• Enjoy it - I almost didn’t make the race because of more than one reason – I was happy to make it to the starting line and I have not raced in a long time compared to last years schedule. Racing is fun!
• Learn from it - I have been training at such low intensities and working on race sim bricks but here was a real race and real race data I could learn about my efforts across all three sports, test my nutrition, mental approach, etc
• Beat my time from last year - This is where crushing my own dreams comes into play. I did not have the intensity of last year but I did have a consistent volume and a better balance than ever between all three sports. The proof they say is in the puddin’
• Don’t crap my pants – sounds like an obvious one but with the days I had leading up to this race this was definitely in the top 5!
• Finish strong - I had one more dream crushing stretch goal. After working on my biggest limiter of the three sports (running) over the winter I dropped 11 minutes off of my open half marathon PB last month. The plan was working! If my pacing and nutrition worked out I was going to try and beat that time at the end of this race. Not the same course and not easy but that is what dreaming is for right?

I started off the race in the back. My bike was racked in the very last row…of a very long transition. In fact, it was even outside of the gate where the swim entry was to the transition and I was in the very last wave for the age groupers. This ended up being a good motivation throughout the race.

As we made our way to the start I lined up on the right side (outside) of the pack. This let me get clean water to start things off because most of the fast guys started on the left side. I made my way over to the pack and quickly found some feet. I felt extremely comfortable in the water and I have never experienced the “awareness” during the swim like I did this time. I knew where I was, where the packs breaking away were at and how to navigate a smart swim. I hope this awareness sticks for the rest of my races.

A few groups broke away and I was able to follow them and get right back on some feet. This went on and on. . .I moved up to ride on one guys hip for a while until my goggles got knocked off and after fixing them I decided to just settle for feet. Water is 1,000 times thicker than air and drafting is legal in the water. Brilliant. It was working too and I felt like I was not working…at all. I realized as we reached the turn around that I was cruising along at an easy/steady pace and almost felt guilty about not taking a turn at the front. The last two thirds of the swim everyone started to slow down so I started swimming solo and searching for someone else to draft as we weaved in and out of the packs of waves that started before us.

I finished the swim with all 3 stroke breathing and as I ran into transition I really felt like I just finished the warm up and was ready for the main set. This started to bug me at first because I felt like I held back or could have gone much faster but then I started to realize that like I didn’t do anything “hard” yet was a HUGE mental boost that I could take for a deposit later in the race.

I really wanted to target about 210-220 watts for the bike. Gordo suggested that I ride closer to 240 watts and I was a bit scared of that number. This is only my second half ironman and I still have a (healthy) fear of going out too hard. The goal was just to keep it under control for the first part of the bike and then settle into a HIM pace. The only problem was I was not sure what HIM pace was….yet.

The first 20 minutes of the bike I was really fighting mentally to keep my power down. It felt REAL easy to be pushing well over what I should have been and if I didn’t see the numbers myself I would think my power meter was broken. Adrenaline and a high heart rate can do funny things to your RPE perception!

I only had a couple small issues on the bike but I still felt like I was not really working "hard". Probably a good sign that i was pacing properly and mentally was a boost. Many things can go wrong before or on race day but I was collecting grips of goodness all day. THAT was what I focused on.

I started to move up my target watts throughout the rest of the bike leg. I figured if there was a time to learn if I was pushing too hard it was now. Better to learn this and suck up a 13 miler run off the bike than it would 5 weeks from now at St G with 26 miles to run. The mental deposit I was getting from the swim was growing on the bike by leaps and bounds. I had already exceeded the watts I thought I could maintain and still felt like I was not even really working hard. I also started in the last wave and so I had a steady line of people I was passing the entire race. Seriously…I must have said “on your left” a few hundred times and by my finish place I likely passed over 2,000 people.

By this time I got to the back of the bike course the wind picked up and I was a bit nervous riding the disc with my only road crash just three days fresh in my mind. My legs felt great and my nutrition was dialed in.... Vitargo rocket fuel. From this point on I let the numbers go and just rode more by feeling all the way into T2 without having to worry about keeping a watts range. Even with my watts going up the conditions were a bit different this year with a lot of that power literally going into the wind. I did drop some time from last year however and still feel like I started way too slow. I guess I banked another mental deposit to bring on the run.
My normalized power for the ride ended up being 257 watts for the 2.5 hours. Last year it was 206 watts. . . kinda makes me wonder what I would have done if I did race Vision Quest this year!

I got out of transition and my legs felt like I never even rode the bike. Crap. I knew I was going to make myself suffer on the run now! I realized I would need all of those mental boosts for the run because I did not have one excuse for why I should not beat my 13 mile PB. I wanted to start slow but there was a tail wind heading out and I sure felt it on the way back on the two lap course. I knew it was going to be hard to hold pace on that final 3 miles heading to the finish. I must have known the pain cave was on its way because I stopped at the aid stations more than 5 times before the final 3 miles. Those sponges with ice cold water just felt so good!

The last three miles I had to start making bets with myself, lying to myself about when “I will stop at the next…” and I started withdrawing those positive mental gems I collected. This was a great learning lesson for St G! Mentally, I have never been more focused closing out a race. I was starting to feel the fatigue and I gave myself one spot to walk before a final push. Of course, when I got there my buddy Sean was waiting and started to run beside me. I knew I could not stop…I didnt understand what he was saying at this point but his timing and presence was spot on and proved to be just the fuel I needed. Teamwork. Thanks Sean!

I enjoyed myself immensely! I learned a ton of things from this race and about myself from this race while beating my time from last year. I also just barley beat my open half marathon PB… but I did beat it and I didn’t crap my pants. All my expectations/goals exceeded. I crushed my dreams in the best way possible.

the real St. G and me

The Endurance Corner crew did very well at the race and I am really stoked to be a part of the team. I cant wait for some future trips and maybe even a camp with Gordo one day ;-)

There are many things that can go wrong in a race or leading up to a race. My friend Luke recently said something like that to me about training months just to have one day or one thing and it is all wrecked. That is all part of putting together a race..perhaps what i love about it in some way. When it comes together and you can execute the plan it is ____... Words cannot describe but if you have been there you know the feeling. Minutes after I crossed the finish line I was in a tent getting a massage and listening to an acoustic guitar band play in the next tent and just reflecting on the race and just how lucky i got to be racing and have a good day. THAT was out of this world...priceless.

As good as my race was I could not imagine how Beth must have felt. I was so inspired by her because of the life balance and race she put together. She blew my mind and blew away her competition with her finish. She won her age group, qualified for Kona and did it all with a big smile on her face. She planted a seed in my head I never thought I would have...huge inspiration. Thanks Beth!

I was so glad I was able to race and now I am resting up for my last training block before St. G. My goals for St. G are even simpler. I made them up back in November and am going to stick with them.

#1 Finish! I am doing everything I can to ensure I complete the race...even if it takes crapping my pants along the way ;-)
#2 Take everything I can from it - Complex I know... I want to take the experiences from it (race day and training) to use in the future for all areas of life. It has proved to be a wonderful journey so far.

No surprise to me...Monique is killing it and ready to take on St George and it is just the course for her. This women has been married to me for over six years and so she has been working on her mental strength...she will crush dreams in Utah on May 1st. She raced this weekend on her cyclocross bike and she dropped 51 minutes off of her time from last year. Scary to think of her riding her new road bike for St G.

March 24, 2010

good news. . . bad news

I hope this ticket theme does not continue on my blog…After my last post about my traffic ticket collection I thought I would be done with that chapter. This week I was in LA for a lunch meeting at Houston’s and running late because I was stuck in traffic. LA go figure…

My buddy ordered me the salmon and I spent the next 30 minutes driving around looking for parking. Now I was really late! Apparently they had a mid-week farmers market and all the parking lots were full. I ended up finding a meter spot and because I was already so late I just took my chances my not filling it up because I didn’t have any quarters. Brave with my recent luck huh! Well, I got out of lunch about 1.5hours later to get to my truck with no ticket! Sweet! I was parked at the end of the street where the market started and a cop car was blocking traffic so maybe the ticket meter person didn’t drive that far up? I was so stoked I pulled out to beat traffic on the way home and pulled right into a Mercedes in front of me. Yikes! The cop who was parked blocking the market asked me for my driver’s license and reg before I even put it in park.

Unfortunately, that was not the bad part of that day. I ended up getting food poisoning from that salmon that I had and spent the night on the bathroom floor throwing up out of both ends. While I thought that I would be good to go after getting it all out of my system it has been five days and six pounds now that I have lost with my stomach just wrecked! I really did NOT want to loose 6lbs and I have been feeling pretty weak. It made me feel better about sitting out the Vision Quest race last weekend and with the training load I have been keeping I would probably benefit from the additional rest anyways. However, I was still questioning going forward with racing Oceanside this weekend.

sickboy on the trainer

Yesterday was the first day I made it without having any stomach issues and I got my appetite back. Stoked! I have still been able to knock out a few smaller workouts on the trainer (with the bathroom close!) and today it felt like it was all coming together. I felt good enough to nail my last swim/bike/run workout this morning with my bike in race mode setup. I was going to tweet a pic my bike this morning...I was really stoked on my ghetto black spray paint bike with race wheels..maybe even a little prideful.

the dream machine (where i do most of my daydreaming)

Monique and I got in a great swim with Nova this morning and it was wetsuit Wednesday. . . a perfect workout! All I was thinking about is how lucky I am to have great friends. I got a wetsuit yesterday from my friend Trevor that I got to use this morning and for the race this weekend. I got that disc rear wheel from my buddy Sean. I got a front 404 from my friend Keevin. Monique and I got a place to stay Friday night with James and Beth before the race. I even had Ryan offering to bring me over some ice-cream when I was sick. Now that is a good friend! I had the inspiration and encouragement from all my friends as I hit the road for a spin after our swim and that was all I needed. Last spin to test out the wheels and body. With the swim, bike and inspiration in check I was ready to go! My mind was set on racing this weekend.

JUST as I was thinking about that I caught my front wheel between a crack in the road. I know…I know. I have been down this road so many times and I seriously cannot even explain how simple it was but I did it. I caught my front wheel and before I knew it I was sideways sliding into the middle lane. Thank God there were no cars around because I stopped between the while lines in a daze. Did this really just happen? It could have been much worse

boom boom
crack kills

I basically slid to where I took this picture only into the middle lane. From my SRM it looks like I was going mid-20's but I was not hammering....Good or bad it just happened. The crack between the white line is what caught my front tire. I’m so lame!

only a scratch
hipper post-shower

My right side took the blunt of the crash and my hip and elbow got the bump and slide. This is my first crash on the road and quite different from crashing in the dirt. Good thing I was wearing gloves. Don’t worry dudes…The wheels and bike are OK!

I’m not set on racing this weekend or drilling myself silly. Emotion would have me go far in either direction... I realize that it is sometimes a fine line between passion and addiction but I also realize that IT just happens. Good or bad is how you take it in most cases. Sometimes that IT is a good thing…sometimes IT is a bad thing. Who are we to know when we cannot see the end yet. Not resorting to feelings and relying on what I know is best.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

Really, does anything else really matter? I will do what I can do and if I am up to race this weekend then I will give it everything I have on that day. If not I will be stoked to go watch my friends race and enjoy another sunny SoCal day.

My hip is a bit sore but that didn’t stop me from getting in a few laps around the track after my ride. With my swim/bike/run workout done I am heading into my scheduled massage today. Perfect ending to a solid day and all before lunch(and I can eat lunch without it blasting out my backside too)! Bagging all of this before work mid-week gives me nothing to complain about! I am truly blessed and grateful. Now, ALL my perspectives are in order and I learned something again from training. Training can teach you or build character for all areas outside training. That is what I love about it. Training is for racing just like this life is for the next. As they say in the hood…Its all good!

March 15, 2010

another boring weekend

I often feel like the luckiest boy alive (and i am!) but I have been collecting quite a few tickets recently. I got some speeding tickets, parking tickets, no reg sticker, driver license type of tickets. I even got one for ridding my bike that was over $450! Yikes!

I don’t know if it is just California trying to collect extra revenue but I guess it could be worse. No accidents except for Monique crashing her car. . . into my car. Its all good…Just hope that page has turned now before I loose any more money!

We really didn’t have too much planned for this weekend except for a photo shoot on Saturday in San Diego for Monique. It was for Ellsworth bikes and we got out there early for a possible group ride and tour of the ranch. Cool place! We learned a lot about Ellsworth from Tony , Dan and the crew and it was refreshing to see another company doing it right. We learned about the quality control process of raw materials to the finished product (kind of like good food). Tony is pretty passionate about what he does and lives. . .even a solar powered factory with avocado trees and some amazing views.

Monique found a couple of things she really liked. . . Ellsworth has probably the biggest range of bikes from any US manufacture. Everyone knows about their mountain bikes but they also have commuter (non-human powered) bikes, cross bikes, road bikes and now even some tri bikes.

It was a pretty low day for me training wise. I was designated Sherpa boy and ended up driving the Van at the last spot. Fun day and I was proud of Monique for sticking it out in the cold. Sure didn’t look as cold as it was that day!

From there we drove to Temecula to stay with Paul, Lisa and Little D. Good times. They have four German dudes who were staying with them for a month and they all just got back from a moto session. Food was on and I was beat from doing nothing all day. Funny how that works.

Then next morning we got up, drove to Oceanside to meet up with James and Beth. I was SO STOKED to find my drivers license in an old bag that morning. I have been missing it for over 3 months and I would need it to get onto the Camp Pendleton base for our ride. It would have been handy to have when I got pulled over those four times too. . .

The Winning Walshes bagged a 100 miles while Monique and I stuck it out in tough weather for a nice 70 miles or so. . . Seriously, one of the best days we have had recently and that is hard to beat around here. Being true tri nerds, three of us had to get our T-Run on and lucky for Monique and I we parked in O-Side so we got to run on the race course we will be at in a couple of weeks. THIS is where my mind has been for the last few months ;-) Unfortunately, when we got back to the car I had ANOTHER parking ticket waiting for me. HA! Funny even now.

We got home in time to get a good bison steak dinner with lots of greens and spend a few precious moments together before the laundry and bottle washing started to get ready for next week. Another boring weekend in the books

March 08, 2010

Gettin it done...letting it happen

I have been stoked to get through my little mini-camp injury free and totally ready for more. My TSB hole had taken a bigger dive than ever and I am starting to learn more about what it takes to get me "a bit tired"

I have been working on a post about WKO+ software (still not posted) and I am starting to get some use out of it after collecting data for about a year now. Here is a snap shot at my mini-camp and some of the sessions I got in. I was basically focused on bike volume after spending Dec-Jan trying to get my running up to par. Gordo helped me come up with a better outline so I would not completely crush myself or not leave room to push it a bit more before my St. George Ironman camp. That is going to be a long one...

In the 13 days ending 2010-03-04:

activity # timemileskm+ft

Road Bike10 29:02:59 509.53(3:25) 820.01(2:08) 26769

Swim9 10:00:00 17.68(33:56) 28.45(21:05)

Mt Bike4 8:55:00 65.87(8:07) 106.01(5:03) 10710

Trail Running5 5:49:23 41.47(8:38) 65.13(5:22) 4826

Road Running5 4:07:54 32.59(7:36) 52.45(4:44) 2152

Strength1 1:00:00

Yoga2 50:00

Total13 59:45:16 667.14

Time has been flying by (i wonder where my time has gone? :-) and I have been back and forth the last few weeks about racing Vision Quest or not. I have had such a better balance on swimming, biking and running and my mind has just been focused on long course triathlon. Mountain biking is still a deep passion for me and fun times with friends but I just dont have that "kick" to race VQ this year. I have been able to get out in the dirt with friends and the trails are the BEST I have ever seen them...Tacky, deep greens and browns and fast!

Last week I got a good balance of road and dirt. Palos Verdes ride and trail run mid-week after work with Sean. His "secret" training grounds have now been exposed and although we never made the Dream Crushers Century happen due to schedules and weather we all will be back in this area soon. Its pretty motivating that we have so many good places that are only about an hours drive away.

Later in the week I had some meetings in San Diego and was able to fit in a dreamcrush ride with James and Sean again...We hit the Walsh extension to the Swami loop. Good times. I know we have rough jobs! Riding with these guys is inspiring and being able to "share" our progress, setbacks and daily crap on AP is what i love! I have much respect for these guys and its always a pleasure to roll in the miles with them.

Then capped of the weekend with a ride up in the Santa Ana's with Monique, Beth, Ryan, James and Sean. This is what its all about!!

Yes, they are singing the happy song

Crack kills Ryan!

So for now I am just riding, eating a lot of the best food I can get my hands on and enjoying every mile of training. I feel like I have a totally different perspective this year with racing. Not in a hurry for anything really and just enjoying the journey. Probably a good thing for endurance racing.