Monday, December 31, 2007

The End Of The Year

We have been pretty busy since the last time I posted. We finally got power back to the house one and a half weeks after it went out. It was nice to get back into the warm house and into our routine again. It was hard to get any type of workout in while we were living at the hotel room and a steady diet of fast food didn’t help our well being much either. Tulsa is still in shambles. We still have tree limbs stacked up along the streets and the sound of wood chippers and chainsaws have become a constant reminder of the carnage that the ice storm caused.

Christmas was good to us. Santa brought us a Wii game system and the kids are on it constantly. It’s funny before the game starts there is a disclaimer which states something to the effect you need to be in good health prior to playing the game. You’ve got to be kidding me? What is the world coming to? Braden has become quite a bowler and I like the golf game. Below is a picture of Braden really immersed into fighting evil as Spiderman?

Dana and I got iPhones from her parents and Santa brought the girls their first cellular phones. The iPhones are great. It’s a shame they don’t work in the operating room.

The weather is still crappy and icy around here so the other day I had to take my run indoors to the treadmill at the health club. One hour of boredom…uggh. There was this attractive woman running pretty well around the indoor track when I got up there. She was moving pretty fast and it got my attention. She looked familiar but I just couldn’t place her. She was doing supersets of weights followed by walking lunges and track work. She looked really fit like a track star. Have I seen her at a race? TV? School chum? Then it finally hit me…That’s Amber Valetta the supermodel and movie actress. She must have been home for the holidays and working out at our health club. Anyway, it made the indoor treadmill workout much less monotonous watching her go through her routine.

At the opposite extreme was yesterday’s workout. I am trying to get some longer rides in for the Epic Camp preparation coming up later in January in New Zealand. This is pretty difficult considering the sub freezing temperatures outside. I was forced to take my 60 mile ride indoors to my Computrainer. To make the ride even more dreadful, I subjected myself to watching the documentary “Sicko” by Michael Moore. Next time maybe I will rent an Amber Valetta movie. Listening to the drone of Moore’s voice go on and on about the catastrophe of the US health care system made my ride much more painful.

I just reviewed my year end training numbers. I worked out 710 hours last year which included 6800 miles (365hrs) of cycling, 1200 miles (148 hrs) of running, and 130 hours of swimming. I was surprised to find out that I only averaged 13.3 hours/ week. The total numbers were similar to last year only this year I cycled 400 miles (20 hours) more and ran 200 miles (32 hours) less.

The latter part of this year I have been injured which brought this year’s total numbers down a bit. To me it just seemed I did much more than that. I guess with all the other things going on in my life with my family and job it made it seem like I was working out all the time. I guess in every free moment I had… I was.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Electricity...But We Still Have Power

The power is still out at the house, and we are still living out of a hotel room but life must go on. This weekend we traveled to watch Payton, my 11 year old daughter, compete in The Christmas Invitational in Fayetteville, AR. There were gymnasts from 4 states represented and some USAG national level judges there to officiate the event. It was Payton’s first big meet as a level 7 gymnast, with more soon to come. This was the real thing. It was held in Barnhill Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas, not just in some gym. She had been training years for this. I got excited just walking in there. I can’t imagine what Payton felt.

The parents and spectators seemed a bit different at this event too. Many had laptops set up with spreadsheets on them. They would greedily type up scores on all the gymnasts as they came up. I don’t know if it was just for something to do to keep them busy like score cards at a baseball game, or if they were keeping tabs on the competition.

The girls there were all so good. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to make an Olympic team. The pool of talent must be huge. Just eight girls get the chance to make the Olympic team, every four years.

When Payton took the floor for her first event, the floor routine, my heart was pounding. She was first to go out of her little group so I’m sure that the anxiety was a little bit higher. I was so excited for her that I could barely hold the camera still. Level 7 is the considered the first “optional” level, meaning Payton had her own routine with her own personal music. Everything went flawlessly. She came through like a seasoned champ - a 9.25. I was so proud it almost brought me to tears.

On the beam during warm-up, she fell three times on a component. But when it came to do the routine for all the marbles she nailed it. I could see some of the other girls on her team had worried looks on their faces before they got started. Payton told me later that some of the girls on other teams were so nervous they were vomiting. Payton, on the other hand, looked calm and collected out there. I was so proud of her ability to focus and channel positive energy into her routine. She was able to finish ahead of a few of the girls who do better than her in practice.

I don’t get to see her practice that much, but she is very dedicated to what she does and loves every minute of it. Directly following school, she heads straight to the gym where she spends 4 hours working out per day. After that, she quickly eats, does homework, and then goes to bed to start the cycle over again. She literally eats, sleeps, and breathes gymnastics. Often when I pick her up she seems exhausted but she never complains that much. I never had this type of dedication as a youngster but she wants to do it and often gets on my case to make sure that I drive her to practice early so she is ready to go when it starts.

I don’t know a lot about gymnastics. I have watched it on TV during the Olympics and other televised events but what I do know is that these little girls are tough. I often see them with casts on their arms and legs and still get out there maintaining some element of their routine. They may not all be Olympians or Collegiate gymnasts but they are learning a great skill in this sport. They are learning to focus and set goals, and most important of all they learn to overcome failure. I can already tell Payton is mature beyond her years. I’m sure a lot of it is due to her involvement in her sport.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Hate Cold Weather

Tulsa Oklahoma lacks the crowded streets, has reasonable property values, and lacks the hustle and bustle of a large city. It has all the amenities of a large city but on a smaller scale. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. However, one thing it does have that I don’t particularly like is the extremes in weather. In the summer we can get heat indexes in the range of 110 degrees F or greater with oppressive humidity, then in the winter we get snow, ice and temperatures below zero F. The humidity is still present so the cold feels wet. Dave, a reader from Australia, emailed me and wondered how we train in such cold. Good question Dave. Personally having 5-7% body fat, I can deal with the heat, but it’s the cold which I can’t stand. I suppose training in these weather extremes makes us tough.

I grew up in Kansas City, MO. The weather was worse there. When I was young I vowed that when I chose to settle somewhere permanently I would do it south of the Kansas City area. Tulsa was it.

This past weekend has been particularly trying. An ICE STORM came through and dumped inches of ice on the streets, trees, and power lines. I took Paige up to Bartlesville for a swim meet on Sunday and when we came out the car was covered in ice. After we got home some power lines broke under the weight of the ice causing a fire in one of the trees in our backyard. This morning more ice accumulation resulted in trees losing branches and power outages throughout the city. This included our household.

I was up at 5am for work with a flashlight. When I arrived I heard that we were on backup generators and the main oxygen pipeline was broken. Patients in the hospital that were on ventilators were now requiring oxygen delivery with backup tanks. We only had a 48 hour supply. There would be no elective surgeries today. I had the forethought at that time to call and reserve a hotel room before the rest of the town awakened. By the afternoon, the temperature of our home had dropped to the upper 50’s already and it was just going to get colder. The power company is estimating return to power in no less than a week and a half. What!!!!

Tulsa currently now looks like a bomb went off. There are broken trees all over the road and live power lines lying across the roads. Currently the Chance family is held up in a Super 8 motel eating a steady diet of fast food. Unfortunately these are the only places open. Hotel rooms are in high demand. The check in desk at our hotel was a mad house. I feel sorry for those poor folks who were working there because it was getting pretty ugly.

To put a positive spin on our misfortunes, I told the kids to pretend that we were on vacation in “Ice City”. Instead of palm trees we had ice trees. “Isn’t this cool guys?” They didn’t buy it. The complaining and bickering in the back seat of the car still persisted. I just feel fortunate that we have a hotel room, heat, internet, and the “Disney Channel”.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Few Things That Helped Me This Season

Above is a photo of me following my finish in Kona. I was hurtin…big time.It sure felt good though. 2007 was a breakthrough season for me. It was my 3rd year back in the sport and I really felt I was racing and not just surviving through these events. Every year I try to change up the training and add new things and new stimulus. Last year I added a few things which I think helped me perform well. Here are a few of them…..

1. Newton Shoes: The first time I saw Newton shoes was in St. Croix in May. Tulsa, OK isn’t exactly the center of the triathlon universe, so I was a little behind the curve. I heard some good things about them from other athletes so I bought a pair just to find out if the claims were true. At first they felt weird but as I got used to them they began to feel really good, better than any running shoe I have ever worn. I have a high arched rigid foot so a soft flexible shoe works best for me. Newton’s fit the bill perfectly. I felt that I was pushing off more efficiently and my feet were tracking better. I feel that they improve running economy, in other words they lower the energy demand of running. (See my blog entry Buffalo Springs 70.3) For me, they are doing what they are designed to do. Of course with self study n =1, it’s hard to justify it. But there are hundreds of other athletes claiming the same thing. They improved my average run mile splits by 10 to 15 seconds. This is huge! I consistently ran the fastest run splits in my age group at races this year.

2. Power Cranks: I got started using power cranks last winter. It was a bit painful at first and I rode a lot slower on them but once I adapted I felt that they improved my pedal stroke and my pedaling efficiency. I used less energy since I had developed a group of muscles, the hip flexors and adductors, which are often neglected. Like Newton’s, I feel they improved my economy. I used them exclusively from November to February. I used my TT bike with an SRM after that. I noticed when I used the power crank pedaling method for cycling that I could get my wattages to tick up another 20 to 30 with just that little extra push across the top of the pedal stroke. I also think that they helped me develop the hip flexors which contributed to better runs this year too.

3. Vasa Trainer: When the health club where I usually swim closed to remodel the pool for the entire summer, I had to return to my old haunts at the downtown Tulsa YMCA. In the mid 90’s I used to swim here with my buddy Dave Sexton. He and I used to tear each other up in the pool and then we would move over to the Vasa trainer and verbally abuse each other as we took turns on the Vasa after the pool workout. I really felt that it helped me back then. Not the abuse,.... the Vasa. When I returned to the pool some 10 years later the Vasa was still there on the deck albeit rusty but it was still functional. After my workouts of 4000 yards or so of swimming, I would move it over to the Vasa where I was able to work myself up to 20 minutes 3 x/ week just 3 weeks before Kona. When I got off this device my arms were throbbing. I don’t lift weights but I feel this device really provided me with some good functional strength to swim top times in my age group this season. I also used a drag suit in the pool all summer.

4. Yoga: I read some good things about Yoga so I got started doing it religiously last November. I didn’t have time to go to a class so I would just pop in a DVD and work along with Rodney Yee for an half and hour or an hour or so 2 or 3 times per week after the kids got to bed. I feel this really helped me with recovery and injury prevention. I now have the flexibility I had as a teenager.

5. Simulation workouts: Having been to Hawaii in 2006, I got a good feel for what the terrain and conditions were like. I constructed bike and run simulation courses. The summer weather here in Oklahoma is often more harsh than it is in Kona so that parameter was covered. On the bike, I had a course that would take me out highway 48 to Rt 66 toward Bristow, OK were I had some long grades and headwinds. My run course had a flat hot and humid Alii drive and a hill which was more severe than Palani at 10 miles. I also added some hills at around 16 miles into the run which were also run at hot and humid conditions. I did the run the day after a long ride (sometimes up to 150 miles) so the fatigue was in my legs. I ran it at a pace which was much faster than my Ironman. I wore the same clothing and used the same nutrition I planned to use in Kona and really got it down to perfection. When I started Kona in 2006 I was intimidated by the course, this year I wasn’t. The Kona course was much easier than what I had done in training.

6. Training Camps: I did two training camps with my wife, Dana, in Tucson, AZ last winter at the cycling house. It wasn’t exactly a romantic getaway. Dana referred to it as a cycling commune. The weather in Tulsa was icy and cold. Normally, in January and February we are unable to get out on our bikes but this year we were able to put in some of our biggest training weeks of the season and take on Mount Lemmon several times. The base fitness we gained from these camps was very helpful as we both had very good early season races in St. Croix in May and throughout the rest of the year.

7. Hammer Nutrition Products: I have used Hammer nutrition meal replacement drinks on long training rides and Ironman races since I got back into triathlon a few years ago. The Cycling house had a full complement of all the supplements to try for free and I got started using those this year too. With my erratic eating habits due to my work schedule along with heavy training I felt they really helped me keep on top of my nutritional needs and I didn’t get sick all season. I also took Hammer Whey before bedtime and I felt the additional protein load and glutamine helped with recovery after really hard workouts.

A few things that I am going to do next year in addition to those above in 2008 are Epic Camp New Zealand in January. This is the camp of all camps. I have always wanted to do this and see this part of the world. When I first saw this I thought these guys were crazy. The camp is shorter this year so I was able to swing it. I hope I can survive. Stay tuned. Another reason for posting the photo above; )

This year I am getting away from Ironman and do shorter races and move to faster and more intense training. I was getting into a rut with all the long distance stuff. I feel this will help me down the road if I ever decide to race Ironman in the future. It also gives me more time to be with the family and take care of what is important while still being able to do what I love.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clearwater: The 70.3 World Championship

The last race of the season for the Chance family was the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. We brought the kids this time and made a little mini vacation out of it. Clearwater has beautiful sugary like beaches which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. We stayed at the Hilton which was very close to the race site and made it very easy. Other Tulsa area triathletes who qualified for the race and made the trip were Toby Smith, Steve Groden, and Sean Stevens. Sean brought his wife Whitney and her family. We hung out with the Tulsa crew at the beach and pool and had a few meals out. Sean and Whitney had a room adjoining ours which was nice.

The folks at WTC put on a very well organized race. Everything was top notch right down to the finest detail. I didn’t feel like doing this race but did it anyway just to experience it. Dana, on the other hand, was ready to rock it.

We arrived on Wednesday to enjoy the sun and the sand. Unfortunately, a cool front arrived with us and the weather was cold and very windy. The kids complained about the fine sand blowing into their eyes. We had to wear sweat shirts. The water was rough with some pretty stiff current. We tried to make the best of it and enjoyed the venue despite the unseasonable inclement weather.

I came to watch Dana race here last year and there appeared to be a lot more foreigners here competing this year than last. I also noticed that last year they couldn’t give the slots away and this year folks were grabbing them up at the 70.3 races I attended. I feel this race is going to be more competitive as the years pass.

We checked in at a large expo center with ample parking and a large triathlon expo there. It was actually a better set up than Hawaii. The check in procedure was similar. It was very personal and well organized.

Bike and bag check in the day prior to the event was the same as Kona but didn’t have the photographers and all the hype that Kona has. You still got your own personal volunteer that walked you through the transition area and answered all your questions though. The transition area was carpeted and very well marked.

Race morning had the helicopters with the hype and the excitement. Each wave was put into its own separate corral with a volunteer holding a sign indicating the wave. As one wave went off we were moved eventually to the next corral. Again, very well organized and well done. With the helicopters flying overhead and the announcer’s voice calling up the waves, even I was starting to get pretty hyped.

All hype aside, I chose this race to be “C” training race and just came here to have a good time and enjoy the day and preview the course. I might key on this race in the sometime in the future, but today I wanted to experiment and do a few things that I normally wouldn’t do. One was to blast the swim from the start and drop anyone who tried to hang on. I wanted to see how it would effect me on down the line. I usually keep pretty conservative and try to hold something back.

The start is a running one from the beach. You have to be pretty quick off the gun to get to the water first. I found a spot in the front row and dug my rear foot into the sand for a track like start. The starter counted down the minutes and seconds. I looked at my heart rate and it was 90. I was ready. The cannon sounded and I sprung out into the lead. Someone shoved me forward and I lost my balance and cart wheeled my arms and stumbled forward to keep myself upright just barely missing a face plant and becoming trampled by 200 other athletes in my age group.

Miraculously, I was able to stay upright and hit the water first and dolphined out as far as I could then sprinted away. I looked back under my arm and I had already gapped the next guy and put my head down and nailed it. I never felt a foot tap or drafter. They let me go. Alright!!! I was wearing my new Xterra Vector pro wetsuit. I usually hate full wetsuits because I feel restricted in the shoulders, but with the Xterra, I forgot I was even wearing a full suit. I noticed most of the others were wearing the Blue Seventy. I think I had an advantage. I didn’t have clean water for long before I started running into the 45 + age group women.

This slowed me down a bit as I had to navigate thru the red capped mine field. I couldn’t see a thing after I made the turn and headed back to shore. The sun was coming up and my prescription smoke goggles didn’t help at all with the sun’s glare that was blinding me when I tried to sight. I just looked to my right and saw the buoys and to my left and saw kayaks and just maintained the midline. Before long the pier came into view and then I was at the beach. I ran out as fast as I could. The wetsuit strippers did a great job and I was through the transition pretty fast.

I made it to my bike and was off in the lead. I hadn’t been on my bike since Kona. I was pretty busy with work and moving and never got around to unpacking it. So it just stayed in the box until I got here to Clearwater. I knew it would be just a matter of time before someone would catch me. It wasn’t long before number 719 came flying by as I started to crest the bridge off the island. A few other folks in my age group came by now and then but I was riding pretty much on my own until mile 40. At that point I was gobbled up by the packs and just rode along. There was one lane blocked off and there was no avoiding the draft. I was stuck.

At about 50 miles into the ride a marshal rode up to me and flashed me and the Italian guy beside me the red card for drafting. I couldn’t argue, I was indeed drafting. I talked to a race official about this same scenario on my plane ride home from Canada this summer. Big pack, unavoidable, what do you do? He said “sometimes we just pick a sacrificial lamb“. I guess we were both lambs. He didn’t show it to anyone else in the pack just us. If he did the penalty tents would have been overwhelmed.

Anyway, I was kind of glad that I got the card. At that point in the race, I was in the top 10 in the age group and I was thinking seriously about making a run for it when I got in just to see where it would take me. Instead I just took it easy. The race was over for me, I wouldn’t have to put myself into any discomfort. I wanted to recover fast from this race. I was completely shelled after the Kona run, and there was no need to do it again here.

I saw a lot of carnage on the road. One guy in a bloody heap at the side of the road and another was run over by a drafting marshal. I think it was the same guy that showed me the card. I heard police and ambulance sirens.

I read in the paper the next day that 9 people were taken to the hospital for “non-life treating injuries”. This course is pretty dangerous. There just needs to be some hills to break up the packs. 56 miles of flat terrain is pretty unfair to the superb cyclist.

When I got to T2, I went straight to the penalty tent and started my 4 min stopwatch. This was the first time this had happened to me so it was an experience. I should have brought a water bottle, because there were no refreshments for us. I laughed and joked with all the other unfortunate sacrificial lambs. Four minutes is a long time when you are waiting in T2 while the race passes you by.

The run was pretty fun. I usually don’t use Gatorade and Power Gels on the course, this time I tried it just to see if I had any ill effects. It went well with no stomach issues. I did the run at training run pace and cheered on other folks I knew and those that were around me. It was nice and low key with no pain. I pushed the last mile to a 6 minute pace and helped a guy from Switzerland finish strong.

I waited at the finish for all of the TAT members and congratulated them. Everybody broke 5 hrs! Toby Smith went 4:29, Dana went 4:47 and was 17th in her age group, and got a PR for the distance. Sean Stevens went 4:40 and got his PR by 27 minutes! Steve Groden went 4:36. It was a PR for him too. I was really proud of the whole Tulsa crew, they all did great.

The only option I see to make this race safer and more draft free is to close down the roads entirely and give the whole road (two lanes)to the athletes. One lane with all these cyclists is bound to get congested and clogged up. There was nowhere to go, and it’s dangerous to juke around in a pack of triathletes. It would be also ideal to take this World Championship to harder and more challenging course for all three disciplines. The non wetsuit swim, hilly and windy bike, and challenging run of St Croix 70.3 would be a great course, but the difficulty getting there, diminished number of hotels, and nasty rough roads rule it out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Matt Carnal: "Anything is Possible"

Not long ago I began working with an athlete, Matt Carnal. Matt came to me about a year ago with aspirations to do Ironman. No not just any Ironman. The Ironman…You know the one in Hawaii… The World Championships. Matt had yet to even do a triathlon, but this was something he really wanted to do. His background is college baseball and he ran a little in high school. I kindly let him know that it was very competitive to get to the event and that some people work their tails off for many years and still never get to the big show. I wasn’t really coaching people then but my wife was. He wanted some advice from us because 50% of the 2006 Oklahoma Hawaii Ironman qualifiers were living under our roof. We must have been doing something right. He ended up working with another coach but we saw one another now and then and when I saw him at a few races I offered encouragement.

Matt learned pretty quickly that there are some pretty fast dudes out there, especially in his age group, the M25-29. His first triathlon was Oceanside 70.3, and then he went to Honu 70.3 and had a better race. He had some mechanical problems on the bike at Buffalo Springs and didn’t finish, but in 2007 he got his feet wet in the sport and he got a good feel for “what it takes” to succeed and reach his ultimate goal. He contacted me again this summer and I agreed to help him. Since then we have been working toward his big goal…one step at a time.

The first step in Matt’s progression is to run a sub 3:00 marathon at Route 66 in Tulsa on November 18th. This wasn’t my idea, it was Matt’s. He has never run a marathon before but this is what he wanted to do. Sub 3 his first time out. He’s right though. To make the Kona cut in his age group he will have to have sub 3 hr open marathon speed. I gave him workouts that a sub 3 hr marathoner should be able to do and he did them. I gave him tune up races with goal times as benchmarks to see if it was a realistic goal and he even surprised me.

He got faster with each race and as the distance went up Matt was able to sustain the pace. On Oct 6th he did the Zoo Run 10K in 39:47. On Oct 27th he the did the Tulsa Run, his first 15K, in 56:51, On Nov 4th he did the Jenks half in 1:23:53. Based on his last long run pace he did on Oct 14th, and his progression in times in these last few races, he should be able to crack the 3 hour barrier if he paces himself smartly and I’m sure he will ;) These great results will steamroll into better ones and build greater confidence for further achievement down the line.

What I’ve noticed most about Matt recently is that he is focused. He has the right mental attitude and tunnel vision required to meet his goal. He is eating a proper diet, no junk. He is getting the rest he needs. He knows what he needs to do and goes out and does it. This mental attitude is often overlooked but is the most important component of achieving an Ironman goal. There are so many opportunities for letdown in a race this long. Having the right mental attitude is more than 50% in achieving success.

I will be updating Matt’s progress in his quest for Kona but for now, Ironman Kentucky this summer will have to suffice. In Ironman the slogan says "Anything is Possible". Maybe he will be in the waters of Kialua bay this October. At this pace, he very well might.

So if you are on out on the course at the Rt. 66 Marathon in Tulsa on November the 18th, give Matt a cheer.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

This Is What I Call A Big Sports Story

On page 20 B (back page) of the Tulsa World on November 4th was a small article in the corner entitled “Distance Runner Dies at 28” on the front page was a huge spread taking up half the paper “NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup” On the Channel 2 news on Saturday night it was all football and no mention about this tragic event.

On November 3rd 5.5 miles into the US Olympic Marathon Trials, Ryan Shay, one of Americas top distance runners collapsed. Bystanders and Emergency personnel quickly came to his aid and instituted CPR. He was taken to Lennox Hill Hospital in NY where he was pronounced dead. He had trained and was a personal friend of the eventual winner Ryan Hall.

To me, this is big news. I suppose with Internet, I can direct my own news interests but come on, NASCAR trumping tragedy at the Olympic Trials? What a story…. and it gets a little blurb on the last page of our local paper.

Well, I guess my taste in big news is different from the typical Oklahoman. Thank goodness for the internet. My prayers go out to the family and friends of Ryan Shay. What a way to go though, doing something you love and immersed in the race of your life.
New York Post Article

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hawaii Ironman 2007 “Shooting for the Pie in the Sky” A Race Report (Long)

As I sat in the audience at the awards dinner at the Hawaii Ironman last year, I started thinking about my goals for 2007. I just had to get back here to Hawaii. I would be racing in a new age group, the Male 45-49, and I knew that I could go faster.

I like to set my goals in a tiered manner. I set some I know I can achieve, then I put some way up there. I call those my “pie in the sky goals”. My first goal was to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman, and I did that at St. Croix in May. My “pie in the sky” goal was to make the top 5 in my age group and the podium at the Hawaii Ironman; the elite’s elite. I almost did it and I ended up 8th. I didn’t let anyone know about my “pie in the sky” but I think some got the idea when they saw how hard I was training.

Last year I came into the Ironman with a goal of not to melting down and to finish strong. It was my second Ironman and I wasn’t sure if the first one was a fluke. It wasn’t, and I just missed going under 10 hours. This time I was ready to take some risks and push the envelope a little. Historically, 9:54 was the average finishing time for the last podium finisher in my age group over the past 7 years. It was doable.

After it was all said and done, I finished 240th overall and 8th in the M45-49 age group(3rd American) with a time of 9:53:06. I met the average time, but the last podium slot went down to 9:45.

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (55:41) 1:27/100m 93rd Overall, 2nd in the age group
FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 5 mi. (1:14:43) 18.91 mph
SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 28 mi. (2:20:21) 21.03 mph
THIRD BIKE SEGMENT 59 mi. (3:54:57) 19.66 mph
FOURTH BIKE SEGMENT 88 mi. (5:16:51) 21.25 mph
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 112 mi. (6:28:49) 20.01 mph
TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (5:29:58) 20.37 mph 411th /15th age group

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 5.2 mi. (7:10:05) 7:18/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 17.6 mi. (8:46:11) 7:45/mile
RUN FINISH 26.2 mi. (9:53:06) 7:46/mile TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (3:20:59) 7:40/mile 250th /8th fastest run split in the age group


My average heart rate for the bike was 140 b/min and for the whole race the average was 144.

On Saturday morning I was up at 3:30 am for my prerace meal which included 3 scoops of Hammer perpetueum, 2 scoops of Heed, 2 gels, and a banana and peanut butter. Dana drove me down to the start area at 4:45. We kissed and said our good byes. I was walking toward the King K hotel when I discovered that I had forgotten my nutrition bottles in the refrigerator. Luckily I had my cell phone with me and I called Dana to bring them back to me. What an idiot. It was like forgetting to bring my bike.

I got numbered, set my gear up and my bike, then sat along the railing watching the orange sunlight begin to brighten behind Mount Hualalai. I called my mother at home and talked to my kids. Then I stuffed all my clothes in the prerace bag turned it in. I pulled on my Xterra Velocity speed suit, got the cap and goggles, and headed to the swim start.

I got down in the water pretty early and watched the Navy seals parachute into Kailua bay. That was quite a spectacle.

The pros got off at 6:45 then I eased my way out to the swim start line. The water felt good. My stroke felt good. I picked a spot right in the middle between the Ford sign and the pier. I held my ground in the front and watched the divers with cameras swim beneath me. I made a few “hang loose” hand gestures for the cameras to ease the tension. Guys on surf boards patrolled the starting line and paddling back and forth. “Come on guys stay back…Stay back” Mike Reilly was counting down the minutes. I looked out and saw the multitudes gathering behind me and the figures lining the sea wall. The helicopter was buzzing overhead. This was the Ironman World Championships and my moment was about begin. Then with out warning..”BOOM” we were off. I sprinted off pretty hard for the first 500 yards or so, I’m sure it was faster than 6:00, just to clear the crowds and get into a good group and catch some fast feet.

When we got to the turnaround boat, I could still see the leaders and they were pretty close. On the way in I just sat back and enjoyed a good draft. It felt so easy that at times I was one arm stroking just so I wouldn’t run into the guy in front. On the way in, I saw that our group was gapped. It would take too much effort for too little reward to bridge, so I just sat back and enjoyed the wonderful view of the ocean floor and stroked it in. I still had a long day ahead of me.

When I hit the pier I looked at my watch. 54 minutes…“Wow, it didn’t feel that fast“. My goal was to get my transitions done in 3 minutes or less and I was pretty close with a 3:10.

I got started on the bike and immediately I heard a clicking noise. It sounded like the kind you get when you put a playing card in your spokes. I looked all around to see where it was coming from and couldn’t locate it. Damn, that’s all I needed, a mechanical problem on the bike before I started. I also noticed that my wattage meter and speedometer wasn’t functioning either. All I had was my heart rate. Why does this always happen to me in a race?

I took it easy to the turnaround up Kuakini then picked it up a bit once I came to the downhill section into town and out to the Queen K. I was being passed like I was standing still. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of resistance to my wheels but the way people were passing me I’m sure there was. Madame Pale had thrown a curve ball at me. I just dealt with it. I found it to be annoying and maddening that I couldn’t find the source of the clicking and the noise became a constant reminder that burdened me through the entire ride.

The wind started to pick up out on the Queen K and reached a crescendo on the climb to Hawi. Laurent Jalabert, former Tour de France star, passed me here. I marveled at how easily he motored past me into this horrendous wind.

The turnaround and back down the Queen K was kind of scary. First we had a tailwind then it quickly changed to crosswind gusts. I could see cyclists being blown sideways up the road. I was unable to grab a water bottle at the aid station there for fear that a gust might blow me over while I had only one hand on the bar.

On the return trip on the Queen K, I felt the winds and the heat. Last year we had a tailwind and rain. This year the true Hawaii Ironman course reared its ugly head. I could see salt deposits forming on my shorts as well as those around me.

Dave Scott once said “Most people lose their concentration after about five hours. They give up. It’s not physical, it’s mental. When you come to Kona, it’s like racing on the moon.” I could feel this happening. I was frustrated with the bike, the wind, the heat and I just wanted it to be over. This is a section which I wanted to work but I totally lost concentration and, instead I fixated on my misfortunes. I finished the bike in 5:29. I was hoping for a 5:15-5:20.

T2 was a welcome site. I hit it fast and got through in 3:18 which included a Porto potty break. Once out on the run I felt at ease. This was a portion of the race which was totally under my control and I was still pretty mad about the bike issue. I was originally going to take it easy on the out and back section of Alii Drive but I decided to just go for it. If I ran well, I could still break 10 hours. I was willing to take the risk of blowing up somewhere down the road. I watched my heart rate hit L3 to L4 levels but I felt good and aerobic and just ignored it.

I began passing people off the bat. I came upon Michael Kruger, an athlete from Germany, whom I met on the awards stand at Ironman Florida in 2005. He had run a 3:00 marathon at IM Germany. He remembered me and said that he was shooting to run 3:15 here. I was cool with that so I mentioned that we should work together. Another German was running with us and some other German guy that wasn’t in the race was running along the other side of the road pacing them. They were all speaking to each other in German. This race has such an international flare to it. Oh yeah, it's the World Championship.

I saw Dana outside our condo. She had recruited an Aussie cheering section and it was pretty loud. I got a good rush from that. Glynn Turquand from Xterra wetsuits ran along beside me and told me that I looked great and that I was second out of the water in the age group. Geoff Cleveland was first and he had a Xterra Velocity on too. Mark VanAkkeren who also had an Xterra speed suit had the fastest overall swim and was leading the amateur division overall. Needless to say, Glenn was pretty happy with us.

I ran with the Germans until the 9 mile mark and then they were gone. They were off the back and I continued to motor at 7:10 to 7:15 pace up to Palani hill. At home I had made a Ironman simulation course which included a hill 10 miles into it. My course hill had a steep 20% grade and was just about as long as Palani. Running up the real Palani was a lot easier. Dave LaTourette, my coach, was on the hill and told me that I was in 8th. He also gave me the condition of the athletes ahead of me. “Two look like they are cracking, Go!!!”.

I met up with Macca, the race leader, on the Queen K just as he was getting to the 25 mile mark. I yelled at him. I really wanted him to win this year.

Last year my pace seemed to fall off on the section going up to the energy lab. This year, I trained my body with my simulation runs to pick the pace up here. I began picking off blown up pros and age groupers on this section. I was feeling good and things were going well. One guy from my age group passed me, Dave Boyes, and he ended up running 3:05 for the fastest run split in the age group. I couldn’t touch his pace. He was really moving.

Every day at this time the cloud cover usually rolls in from the mountains and sometimes it rains. Today that didn’t happen. It was sunny and hot…. just how I like it.

Once I got to the energy lab, I could see the competitors coming out and I looked for those with my age group numbers. I needed to pick off more because this is the part of the race when most meltdowns occur. I made it up to the Queen K and continued up the road to Palani. The energy lab didn't seem so bad. I passed Rutger Beke there.

I came upon a familiar figure at 23 miles who appeared to be struggling. It was Ken Glah. This guy was pro last year who historically has finished top 10 overall in this race and I was about to pass him. Wow. I suppose I was salvaging my race or Kenny, uncharacteristically, was having a bad one. Dave had ridden down there to provide me some encouragement for my final push. He gave Kenny some as well. Kenny asked for the race time and Dave said 9:36. We were going to break ten hours.

I could feel my calves starting to tense up and I could tell I was on the verge of cramping. I continued to push pretty hard to get to the 25 mile mark at the top of Palani. After I got there I would be golden.

Once I hit the down hill I just let gravity do the rest. Dana, Dave, Amy were all there yelling for me. Dave yelled “pick off as many people as you can” and then I just started running as hard as I could. It must have looked like I was being chased by a bear. I was suffering pretty badly here.
Before I knew it the finish line was coming up on me. Instead of jogging in and savoring the moment, I pushed it like it was a 5K. I saw 9:52 on the finishing clock and I ran up the ramp crossed the line and as I walked down the ramp my legs buckled to the point that I almost fell. Lynne Smith was there to catch me and help me to the medical tent. It was good to see her. I looked at my watch and I couldn’t believe that I finished in that time. My run must have been 3:20. I guess Madame Pele had rewarded me for my perseverance on the bike.

Dana, Dave, and my friends Michael and Claudia Yatsko were there to hang out with me at the finish line as I drank chicken broth and ate potato chips to kick my sodium levels up. My right leg went into tetany and I had to have a volunteer hold it in stretch. Ouch. My legs were incredibly sore. I had really left it all out there.

It was a good day. I had almost reached the “pie in the sky”. I can’t complain with being 8th in my age group in the world, especially when I work a full time job, have three small kids at home, and a wife that does Ironmans too.

Now it’s time to go eat some real pie…and I’ll take some ice cream with that too ; )

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ironman Hawaii:Day 7 and 8 pre race

Yesterday was a day of rest for me. We had breakfast with Dave LaTourette and some representatives from Alcis and Fuel Belt at the Royal Kona Hotel. We got some schwag from those guys. There is so much give away stuff here. Next time I don’t think I am going to pack any T-Shirts. I have picked up five cool free ones here.

Later in the day, I packed up my transition bags and got my bike ready then kicked back and watched a movie. Scott Ostrem and an old buddy Tim Streb gave me a call. It was good to hear from them.

Glenn Turquand from Xterra wetsuits had a party at his house on Alii and we spent 3 hours there enjoying the company. I will be racing in the Xterra Velocity .02 this year. It is the fastest legal speed suit on the planet. It has a Yamamoto rubber coating and the drag coefficient is less than the Blue Seventy.

When I first swam in the suit two weeks ago, I swam a 5:45 500 at a 6:20 effort. I called Glenn right away and told him” You are going to sell a lot of these suits”. Everybody has speed suits this year. After Normann had his breakthrough swim last year speed suit technology has taken off. It used to be illegal to have anything below the knee. This year I believe they are allowing the pros to have their suits extend below the knee.

After the Party we had dinner at Jameson’s with Mark Van Akkeren and his parents and Brandon Del Campo and his mother. Both those guys are going to have good races. Look for Mark to be in the amateur lead after the swim and possibly the bike.

This morning Dana went out on a ride to Waikoloa with Kevin Purcell and Dave LaTourette, while I went to the Kona Aquatic center for a short 20 min workout with Mitch Gold, Denny Meeker, Brandon, and Mark. Following the swim we took a short 20 min ride out on the Queen K. Boy, I felt really good with the race wheels on. I was hitting monster wattage very easily. I had to hold myself back. After the ride, it was a quick 15 min easy run followed by some strides on the grass.

That was it…. my last workout before the Ironman. I checked in my bike and bags at 1:30 and then went back to relax and prepare my body for what it is about to go through. At about 4:30 I realized that I had forgotten to put my run gels in my bag. I had to drive back to the transition and they let me put them in. Whew…

I am ready. I feel so good and rested right now. It’s hard to believe two days from now I will be so sore I’ll hardly be able to walk.

Thanks for tuning in. If you would like to follow my progress online you can go to and click on track an athlete. I am number 658. If you would like to program the cell phone to give you splits and text alerts on an athlete you can go to

I will post a race report later with all the details of the race no matter how it turns out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hawaii Ironman Blog Day 5: “The University of Triathlon at Kona”

I went for a run early this morning, and I was looking at the various sponsor’s houses along Alii drive, and I thought back to my old college days. In my analogy, Kona is like a little university campus. Alii Drive during Ironman week reminds me a lot of “fraternity row” in my college town. So I took some pictures to share with you.

Each “fraternity house” -- or house rented by various sponsors who didn’t snag a booth at the expo -- decorates their abode with banners, tables of free samples of their product, or other give-aways. The Zoot fraternity house, for example, even has some “celebrities”, well known on the college campus, but maybe not to the outside world, stop by at certain times. Andy Baldwin was there as I walked by today, but I’ve already met him.

And then, of course, is the central gathering place, or student union, known as Lava Java here at the University of Triathlon. Students at the University enjoy wearing their favorite fraternity’s gear at the student union, letting everyone know where they belong.

Lisa Wei-Haas, our triathlete master friend, told me when she dropped her youngest son off at college this fall; she felt he finally found his “tribe”. I smile when I think about triathletes, who sometimes stick out like sore thumbs in the world of unfit, unhealthy, and overweight “normal” Americans. Here in Kona this week, they can definitely fit in with their tribe.

Hawaii Ironman Week: Day 4 "It Blows"

Tuesday morning we drove out past the Kona airport to start our bike ride there, so we wouldn’t have to meander through town. Rob rode for an hour, easy with a few pick ups. Dave and I decided we wanted to go longer, so we headed out to Waikoloa. This is a resort area on the Queen K heading towards Hawi. The Mauna Lani Resort and the Fairmont Orchid Resort are there, with golf courses, restaurant, great shopping, and a gorgeous beach. I stayed there in June when I did the Honu half.

Well, let me tell you, this will probably not be a lovely site for the racers on Saturday. Some call Waikoloa “Waik -o-blow-a” because the wind is so strong there. I witnessed it first hand today. It was crazy windy out there. I couldn’t let go of my bars with one hand or I would lose control of the bike. The wind was so strong sometimes I felt like I was going backwards. Then coming back the other way, I could go about 30 miles an hour, without pedaling. But on race day, coming back won’t be so easy because the winds shift later in the day. I’m sure Rob will watch his power meter and ride a smart race, no matter what the island gods throw at the racers on race day.

On to the second thing that blows.… Rob picked up his race packet today, with a list of all the race participants. I was looking through my age group, and discovered that the girl who won 2nd place at St. Croix, just in front of my 3rd place, who took the last Kona slot in my age group, is not here. She took the slot, and then didn’t sign up for the race. I don’t know the story, but I think if she wasn’t intending on racing that she should have passed on the slot. I know of situations where the next person in line for the slot was notified later that the slot was passed down to them -- I sure wish someone didn’t drop the ball in my case because I would have jumped at the chance to race here again. All I can say is that it blows!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Kona Circus: Hawaii Ironman Day 3

This year for this little blog I would like to highlight some of the attractions in Kona during race week. I plan on mostly resting and relaxing in the condo conserving energy for the big day. So writing these gives me something to do while my wife Dana is out training.

I would like to start with my favorite place in Kona; The Kailua pier, other wise known as “Dig Me Beach” This is ground zero and there is a lot of athletic energy here. From the pier you see all the familiar sites you catch on the TV broadcast, the church steeple, Alii Drive and finish line, the banyan trees, The Royal Kona Hotel as it juts out in the distance and the waves as they crash into the sea wall. The atmosphere here is electric and it builds as race day gets closer.
So why do they call it “Dig Me Beach”? You quickly find out why when you show up for the morning swims. There is a multitude of athletes with physiques like Greek gods mingling in the swim area. There are photographers with cameras with telephoto lenses more expensive than my bike snapping photos everywhere. Speedos, foreign languages…. it is pretty intimidating, but this is the Ironman World Championships and these are the fittest and most talented triathletes in the world. You get the idea.

I have tried to capture the circus in a slide show which will be posted above. There are some shots of Dana and Lynne with Andy Baldwin, Normann Stadler, Natasha Badman, Fernanada Keller, Some Australian dude with a Speedo and a beam bike everyone was going gaga over.

I really enjoy swimming at the pier. The ocean is so clear. You are able to see 70 feet or so to the bottom and catch glimpses of all kinds of sea life. Every time I swim here I feel I am so lucky to be here and be racing in this great race. However, today, I was stung on the neck by a Portuguese Man O’War. Let me tell ya …it burns! Anyway, despite that, I have done a lot of triathlons and been to quite a few venues but nothing compares to Kona. It’s not surprising that it is so competitive to get here.

Another one of my favorite places is “Lava Java”. This is a coffee shop on Alii drive just up the road from the pier and a block or so down from the Royal Kona hotel. This is another favorite hang out spot for many athletes. You might be sitting next to Peter Reid or Sister Madonna while you sip on a cup of Kona Coffee at an outdoor table watching athletes ride by in their perfect aero positions. The sea wall and ocean view is the perfect backdrop. It is truly a nice environment. I captured a shot of my breakfast in the slide show. Mitch Thrower, from Triathlete Magazine, was there with his laptop as were many other athletes taking in the Kona experience.

So there are a few of my favorite places. Later in the day I went for a run in the humidity on Alii Drive. Last year I stashed a few of my CO2 cartridges in a stone wall just in case I might need them again; ) During my run went to the wall that I hid them and they were still there.

I got a massage by a guy from Boulder whose name is Jeff Jewel. He really worked out the kinks. Eddie Garrott gave me his contact number. It was a great massage. When I walked out I saw that pro Chris Lieto was up next.

Hawaii Ironman Week: Day 2

Rob and I got up early this morning, because our body clocks are still on Tulsa time, not Kona time, which is 5 hours later. We put our bikes together and went out for a ride on the Queen K highway with Dave Latourette, our coach. He lives in Santa Rosa, California, so it was fun to hang out with him a bit.

We rode for about two hours. It was a nice ride, and the weather seemed a bit cooler than it was last year. Rob did a few pick ups on the bike to keep his legs fresh, then tucked in behind me and drafted a bit to make sure the rest of the ride was easy.

The rest of the day was spent poolside -- I was working on my tan and Rob was surfing the web. For dinner, we ate at a great restaurant called Jameson’s By the Sea. It is right on the Disappearing Sands Beach, and we had a great table where we could watch the sunset over the water. Very nice and relaxing.

In Kona the week before Ironman, you have to make an effort to try to relax. It would be very easy to get caught up in the crazy vibe that is here right now. For example, this morning when we woke up, we walked outside to the lanai, which has a great view of the swim course, to see dozens of people swimming. The entire 2.4 mile course. On the bike course, dozens of small packs of very aero, lean, and tri-suit clad triathletes were hammering up and down the Queen K. There is also a constant stream of runners up and down Alii drive, where our condo is. I kid you not, even in the dark as we were coming home from dinner, we continued to see people up and down Alii Drive, running or riding with headlamps on.

It really makes me wonder -- why are they running or riding in the dark? Did they not have enough time today -- maybe they spent the day traveling. But if that is the case, would it not be OK to just take a rest day? We can be pretty intense at times, but I believe we are definitely amateurs in the intensity department compared to the people I see in Kona right now.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Second Annual Ironman World Championship Kona Blog Day One

That is quite an auspicious title, who knows how many annual Kona blogs there will be. Maybe this will be the last one, and they will fall away into the archives of wherever old blog entries go. Or maybe this will continue on, a tradition carried on for the entertainment of all the triathletes in Tulsa -- if not by us, then by someone else. But for 2007, the Chance blog continues on -- but by Dana this time.

Last year our first day started out uneventfully, but when we arrived in Hawaii we soon learned that while we were flying over the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii had experienced an earthquake. This year, the shake up started before we left for the airport. About a month ago, Rob and I had a little too much time on our hands (tapering for a race can sometimes have long reaching effects into other aspects of our lives). We found a house that we fell in love with, bought it, and put our house up on the market.

Thankfully we sold our house quickly, but with unfortunate timing. We have to be out of our house on the 15th of October. Yes, that is the Tuesday after the Ironman in Kona. So we have furiously been packing up as much as we could, and we will have a moving company pack everything else up Ironman weekend, while we are miles and miles away in Hawaii. Rob’s mother, who is always up for an adventure, has generously agreed to take care of the kids, animals, and oversee the move in Tulsa. I don’t know if she has any idea what she is getting into -- and we are thankful for that or she might have reconsidered!

Our flight to Kona was uneventful except we were delayed leaving Denver because the plane was too heavy. Instead of unloading all the cases of bicycles they unloaded some extra fuel and began asking for volunteers to get off and be placed on another flight. After an hour and a half just sitting there on the plane going nowhere we finally got away. The pilot, being a triathlete, made his predictions for the weather at Ironman this year. He apparently has been riding his bike on the Queen K and he was calling for a windy ride.

United airlines have a game called “Halfway to Hawaii”. The pilot gives the passenger’s information which includes, time we left, total distance, airspeed, and wind resistance in mph. The object of the game is to calculate the exact time (Kona or Denver time) to the second when we are at the midway point in the flight. Well, Rob put down the Su doku tablet and started the calculations. On our approach to Kona they announced the winner. Rob was the first place winner and was just 4 seconds off the actual time. What a geek!

On our arrival to Kona, we noticed the weather to be pretty nice. It never has really cooled down in Oklahoma yet so there really isn’t much difference in the climate. Diving from the airport to the condo the familiar packs of triathletes on the Queen K with aero gear was ever present. Welcome to Kona, home of the Ironman World Championship.

So here it is Day One, and hopefully we are leaving the chaos behind so Rob can have a nice week of rest and recovery before the Big Day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Hay Is In The Barn

The Hay is in the Barn” This is the expression used when the big training build is complete and all that remains is to taper and rest up for the big race.

This years Ironman build went very well. I decided not to race after Buffalo Springs 70.3 at the end of June and concentrated on my build to Ironman Hawaii. Racing frequently requires too much of an effort to travel to and recover from so I just chose to stay home and put in some big training weekends and solid 20 hour training weeks. I had 12 weeks of consistent training with some breakthrough sessions that really added a fitness boost. I am in the aerobic best shape of my life.

Each workout represented a bail of hay. Some workouts were like 10 bails of hay. Once they were complete I neatly stacked them away in the barn for safekeeping. I plan on slowly burning the stored energy in each bail out on the Queen K on October 13th. I know I have enough hay reserve to get through the race in a PR time. It all just depends on what kind of weather conditions or potential cycling catastrophes are thrown in my direction that will determine how fast I do it.

I did my last long simulation ride this weekend. I have been doing these on my own, but this time I wanted a little company. My fatigue level going into this one was pretty high and I needed a little external motivation. I called on my good friend Larry Krutka. Larry and I go way back. We raced against each other in the early days of triathlon, before USAT, and when you raced on 10 speed bikes with running shoes and toe clips. Larry went on to become a legend in the sport in this area, finishing top 100 in the Hawaiian Ironman, and has been on the age group podium twice in Kona.

Larry later went on to open his own fitness center, and I left the sport and went to medical school. Years later, I ended up moving to Tulsa after residency training and reunited with my old nemesis. We became training partners and good friends. Some of our training sessions became testosterone fests. One would push the other until someone mentioned “Lets slow down a little” That was rare….most of the time we silently shelled each other. Last year we rode 160 miles in 8 hrs and Larry did it on power cranks in the aero position. Oh, and did I fail to mention that this guy is now 58 years old. Larry has been sort of a mentor for me since I started doing Ironman. He knows what it takes to succeed.

So, getting back to my last long ride. Larry agreed to join me. He has only done one hundred mile ride this year and was only planning on going half way with me. We started the familiar hammering on the flats. My quads were screaming. Larry did his job and helped me make this ride do what it was designed to do. I wanted to simulate the fast start in Kona. We had good grade and headwind up to Bartlesville, which simulated the climb to Hawi.

Larry didn’t have the type of ride he usually does but he stayed glued to my rear wheel. Other folks would have cracked. That’s not Larry, he’s tough and tenacious. It was nice to have him along and I was glad he was able to make the entire 103 miles with me. I hope some of his mojo rubs off on me.

I am really looking forward to racing Kona this year. From the moment I crossed the finish line last year, I thought “I have to do this again, I know I can go faster” So this year, Kona has been my focus. Next year I think I will take a break from Ironman and concentrate on some shorter races, such as Olympic distance and 70.3.

The time it takes to train for Ironman is just too much for me. It takes time away from my kids and wife and it has become too consuming. I have started to coach other athletes which I think I will find rewarding. Hopefully, I will help them stack some hay in their own barns and become a mentor for them like Larry has been for me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ironman Canada

This past week Dana and I took the long trip to Ironman Canada. Dana was there to compete for the second time and I went to provide support and get a big training week leading up to Ironman Hawaii. We left on Tuesday the 21st and after three connecting flights, we arrived in Pentiction, Canada that evening 13 hrs after our departure. It was a long day.

If you have never been to Ironman Canada, it is unlike any other race you will experience. The Canadian Ironman has been in the same place, the same route, for 25 years. The race isn’t an inconvience, to the Canadians, as you may find at many other venues. The town really embraces the race and the athletes who come here. They go out of their way to make you feel welcome and the locals are very friendly. After noticing the spectacular scenery as you descend into the Penticton valley, when you first step off the plane the first thing you see are signs which say “Welcome to Ironman Country”. Everyone I came in contact with, from coffee shop worker to grocery store clerk, was volunteering or involved with Ironman in someway. It is really a big deal here. I can see why there is such a high demand to participate. Michael Yasko, a friend from California, whom I met in St. Croix, flew in just to sign up for next year’s race. We had an extra room in our condo so we let him stay with us. Hotel and camping options are completely full for miles in all directions.

Throughout the week I was able to do the entire course, including some portions several times, and I put in 21hrs of total training. The weather was much cooler and more comfortable than it has been back home, which allowed me to inject quite a bit more intensity in there too. While I was running out on Eastside road (the run course) the pace was sub 7 minutes per mile and some folks on easy spins on their bikes were giving me some strange looks “What is this idiot doing? He’s going to blow his race”. I rode and ran the entire course last year when we were here, so I feel I really know the terrain and one day I will be ready when I come here to race it.

While I was out having fun in the Canadian countryside, Dana was in the condo resting her legs and read several books. She got out daily to freshen her legs with the typical pre race taper workouts, but most of the time she was in an energy conservation mode.

Race morning came quickly and was pretty exciting. Dana was feeling good and ready to go. I spoke with Monica Byrn before the swim start. She reported that Gordo was fit and ready. I was pulling for him to win it this year. Dana found me and I gave her a quick “good bye and good luck” though the fence. It was entertaining to watch the competitors armed in neoprene and with latex helmets wave and smile to their family members as if they were headed off to war.
I managed to get down into the water once the swim had begun and had a front row seat of all the athletes exiting the swim. I got some great video shots too. Dana came out in 1:00 flat. She saw me, smiled and waved, and said “an hour! “. She looked so good. Now I know why my parents couldn’t hold the video camera still when I was swimming competitively as a kid. I was pretty excited and proud of her. The result was some pretty lousy shaky video footage. I tried to run to the bike corral and get some shots there but she was out of transition too fast.

After she got started on the 112 mile bike I went back to the condo and got some training in myself then checked out the results and video on Ironman live. This made the time fly by.
I made the quarter mile walk from our condo to the run turnaround to watch the pros come through. The wind was pretty strong. It was blowing boxes and the special needs bags all over the road. I worried about Dana, who chose to use a rear disc wheel.

When Dana came through at the half I gave her age group position. She looked good. She was in 8th at that point and said she really wanted to break 11 hrs. I saw the wind and her present time and thought “she is going to have to do something special to do that“. The conditions and headwind on the return would make that pretty tough. I thought if she did do it the Ironman Hawaii slot would take care of itself.

Michael and I drove back to the finish line to await her return. There was a traffic jam because of the cyclists coming in on the bike course, but we made it there in time. She had made up a good amount on her competitors and looked terrific. She did do something special. She ran a brilliant back half and breaking 11 hours was a good possibility. She managed to pass one competitor at the 25.5 mile mark and cruised to the finish in 11:01:02. She ended up 7th in the 35-39 age groups and 380 overall and 27th amateur women.

Unfortunately, there were only 4 Kona slots given in her age group and no one rolled them down. It is just so difficult for a woman to get into that race. Anyway, I am very proud of her. She ran a great race and it was executed perfectly. Overall, she was 8 minutes faster than last year, but her bike time was 15 minutes slower due to the windy conditions. She is satisfied with her race, and she signed up for Ironman Canada 2008 with no second thoughts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You Think Ironman is Tough? Look at This!

In October 2004 I was overweight and out of shape. I was past my prime as and athlete. A friend of Dana and mine, Lynne Smith, had qualified and was doing the Hawaii Ironman and we logged on and followed her progress on Ironman Live. It was inspiring watching her lead the swim and bike in her age group and it was pretty darn emotional watching her cross the finish line on the live video feed. We knew how hard she had worked to get there.

I had never done an Ironman and she inspired Dana and me to sign up for Ironman Florida 2005. Then we experienced the same thrill ourselves in Kona she did in 2006.

Well, Monday she did something else inspiring. She swam across the English Channel. She just didn’t swim across it; she posted the fastest time man or woman this year, 9:50. Only 243 other women have made this journey. The fastest time ever for a woman is 8:48 by Alison Streeter who has the most crossings; 43. Alison was part of Lynne’s support crew and was there to greet her when she reached French soil.

The water temperature was 63 degrees and no wetsuits are allowed. Lynne has been prepping herself for this event for two years. She swam in lakes in the dead of winter, cooled her house to freezing, and laid in 40 degree ice baths to prep her for the cold. She swam over 60k a week, mostly in open water. I wasn’t surprised that she did as well as she did because her preparation was so meticulous.

I am very proud of Lynne. Swimming the English Channel is be quite an accomplishment, and is inspiring, but I don’t think I will be signing up for this one. I don’t think I could last an hour in that water. Brrrrrr
The photos above are of Lynne reaching France and finishing her journey.

See the link below to read more about Lynne.
Austin Statesman Blog: Lynne Smith

Here is Lynne’s report after event.

“When I spoke to my pilot last night, the weather prediction sounded marginal. He told me it would not be a fast swim, but I could take the day if I wanted it. I don't really care about my time, so I accepted the day. Lesson learned: Things don't always go as planned, so let go of the outcome in your mind, and just ride the tide Baby!
I felt like Ashton Kucher in The Guardian when we started. Raining, dark, and very rough. But I didn't have on a wetsuit. I ended up with a sweet tailwind when it was all said and done. The English Channel is the most beautiful, majestic, and sacred place I've ever been.
Apparently I have the fastest swim of the season so far. 9:50. There is still some time in the season, and there is a big difference between having the fastest swim and being the fastest swimmer. A big difference. The English Channel and time pick you. I just got lucky.
A big thanks to the folks who were out there with me today and those of you sending me good vibes from home. I can not tell you how marvelous those guys were on the boat: Mike, Ali, Del, David, Seth, Chris, Davis, Michelle, and Brad.
Thanks for all of your emails- I look forward to reading them all, and will reply when I've a minute. I have over 200, so please be patient with me, Right now I am heading to take a hot shower, drink a large Guinness, and sign my name of the wall next to David's at the White Horse pub.
I left everything I had out there. I gave it what I'm made of, and that feels good! Thanks for all of the support, well wishes and good energy. What a day!
PLEASE keep the positive vibes headed over here as we aren't done yet. My friend Anne is in the tide and it isn't over until everyone is back in the barn. Saving the best for last. Go Anne!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

All That For Just a Yellow Jersey?

Well, it’s that time of year again. The voices of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen resonate throughout our household as coverage of the Tour de France plays on numerous televisions simultaneously. I have watched the tour religiously since the early 80’s when it was just a weekend blurb on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” I got Dana hooked on it in the 90’s when we had 30 minute daily updates on ESPN. Having it on all day everyday of the week on Versus is like being in Europe watching Eurosport.

Somehow I just can’t get the kids interested, especially my son Braden. The other day he said “All that for just a yellow jersey?……. That’s stupid!” He has a good point. He knows how hard cycling is. He has experienced the mask of pain….well, somewhat. He occasionally rides his bike along with me while I take in a 3 mile recovery run. He finishes his ride like Laurent Fingon did when he lost the final time trial to Greg Lemond in 1989. He slumps to the ground in what appears to be complete exhaustion. I think he might be destined to be a thespian rather than an athlete.

I suppose he doesn’t appreciate the scenic helicopter views of the French countryside and architecture, or the excitement and drama on the roads surrounding this event. He just doesn’t see it. One day it’s going to click. He will sit down and watch it with me and suddenly get into it. My girls have found sports and enjoy watching them on TV. Braden has yet to find his sport niche yet. Heck, he’s only 7.

One day when he does appreciate what amazing athletes these guys are, and he achieves the fitness to climb these mountains on his own bike, we might make a family vacation to go there in person and experience the event first hand. Until then, he will have to just to endure my wife and I as we watch these amazing athletes compete and suffer in the most difficult endurance event in the world.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eat when you can, sleep when you can, and train when you can

Paige in the white cap

Dana and Paige

Folks often ask us “How do you guys do it?” (Referring to how both my wife and I compete and train for Ironman triathlons while maintaining jobs, raising three children, and having a family life) Well, it isn’t easy. There is a saying that I remember from my residency days” Eat when you can…sleep when you can.” We just added “train when you can“.

I will give an example: On the July 4th, my wife Dana, who is training for Ironman Canada, got up early and ran 18 miles. Our daughter, Payton, went to a gymnastics workout and I was with the other kids. When she returned, I got in a short 30 min run then suited up for a 5 hr 100 mile ride up to Bartlesville, OK where we planned on celebrating the holiday that evening at Dana‘s parents place. Dana picked up Payton from gymnastics and drove the crew up there.

Unfortunately, with all the rain we have been having lately, some of the rivers were overflowing which made some roads impassable. This resulted in making my 5 hr ride into a 6 hr 120 mile ride as I ended up riding all over the country side looking for a detour. I ran out of food and water. The temperature was in the upper 90’s and extremely humid and I began to bonk. It wasn’t a pretty site. My father in law came out to pick me up and said it was the worst condition he has ever seen me in. Ugg!

On the following weekend, Paige our daughter was participating in an invitational swim meet in Bartlesville. Payton our other daughter was in a gymnastics camp and we had arranged that she spend the weekend with one of her gymnastics buddies. Dana left early in the morning on her bike and rode up while I took Braden and Paige to the swim meet.

After the meet, I had a chance to get in a pretty good run in Bartlesville. We stayed the night with Dana’s parents because the meet warm-ups started at 7 am the next morning. Dana took the day off her exercise routine, I did a nice little run in the morning and after the meet I rode my bike back home to Tulsa.

When I got home Dana had picked up Payton from gymnastics camp and we had a nice little evening together.

During the week the situation is the same. Dana tries to get her workouts in while the kids are in their activities and I am at work. I try getting all my workouts in when I get off work. That leaves little time for watching any TV or much of anything else. I almost always train alone because my work schedule is so hit and miss. If I do get out with some pals, I can’t just take my time because Dana usually needs to do her workout too. Sometimes we have to get a sitter.

Oklahoma is a great place to live and train. The roads are well paved with minimal traffic and you can go for miles sometimes seeing nothing but cattle and wild horses. My coach, Dave LaTourette, says it’s a great place to train for Kona because the heat and humidity in the summer is so oppressive. I often meet other athletes from other cities like Houston, and ask them where they ride. I’ve been to Houston and I can’t imagine what riding would be like there. It can’t be as relaxing it is here.

Oh BTW, Paige ended up dropping time in all her events and won two of her heats. That entitled her to a Hawaiian lei. She was 4th in her age group in the 200 IM and 200 free. As the distance comes down, Paige doesn’t fare as well. As much as she resists, she is destined to be an endurance athlete just like her parents.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Treasure at the end of the Rainbow;Buffalo Springs 70.3, a race report

I took this photo driving home through west Texas from Buffalo Springs 70.3. Nothing is as beautiful as a rainbow and the lore that it signifies. Some triathletes came to the west Texas town of Lubbock and found their pot of gold in the form of Kona slots, top age group finishes, and great results on this epic course.

This was my third year in a row coming to Lubbock and each year the course gets easier and my times get faster. I have consistently dropped 6 minutes each year off my time since I first attempted this course and this distance in 2005. This year I actually felt like I was racing it and not just surviving it. I have to admit, the weather was ideal with lighter winds on the bike, and on the run the heat didn’t seem so oppressive.

On the morning of the race I awoke at 3:50 am and had my usual pre race meal consisting of 360 calories of Hammer perpetuem, 300 calories of Heed, and a banana with peanut butter. I mixed up my bike race bottle of 900 calories of Perpetuem, Heed, endurolytes, and anti-fatigue caps and then had a small cup of coffee.

I left for the race site at 4:45. Every year I leave for the race site at this time and never run into traffic problems and park the car without waiting. Well, this year there was traffic back up several hills back to get into the parking area. Apparently, the word got out you need to get here early to have enough time to park and get your stuff ready.

When I got to the transition area, I ended up having ample time to get things ready and make a stop at the porta potty. I took my 2 Race caps and 2 anti-fatigue caps about one hour prior to the start. At 6:30 the pro wave went off and I slipped my wetsuit on and headed down to warm up. It is really nice because the management allows you to get in the water and swim adjacent to the swim start area. I was able to swim around 500 yards and get in a few strong pick ups at race pace before I headed over to the beach start.

One thing that I noticed when watching the 30-34 men’s wave go off was that there was a sand bar that extended out 50-60 feet out into the lake. Some of those guys were getting a big head start by high stepping it out there on the sandbar while the others just lay down and started stroking. Hum.. I’m all over that.

My age group 45-49, was starting with the 25-29 year old guys. Nice.. I would have some fast feet to latch on to and conserve some precious energy while still distancing myself from the rest of my fellow competitors.

When the horn sounded I was all over that sandbar and hit the water in third place in the wave. The swim started harder than I usually take it out, but by the first turn I had settled in behind some big shouldered swimmer who gave me a monster draft. Navigation through the other heats of competitors is like swimming through a minefield of driftwood, occasionally you hit a few. I had to sight more frequently and I feel that makes the swim more difficult than just cruising on a clean lake surface with your head down. I let the big shouldered guy guide me through all that mess. It wasn’t long before we made the turn at the last buoy. There was a glare as we swam directly into the sun and all I could see was splashing ahead of me despite using smoke goggles. The pace quickened and before I knew it there was a helping hand reaching down to guide me up the boat ramp. Swim time; 26:10. Average HR 149. The HR was higher than I usually have on a swim like this. It might be due to the heat of the water accompanied by the use of the wetsuit.

I got my wetsuit off quickly and followed some of the guides left by some resourceful competitors to my bike. I am blind without my glasses so, I looked for the yellow bandana someone tied to the end of my bike rack line and the stack of tennis balls on a wire a few bikes away. My transition towel was bright orange so it was easy to spot. Wetsuit came off quickly and I was on my way up the steep hill out of T1 quickly.

I had several goals for the bike ride. One, was to ride conservatively enough to have a great run. Two, I wanted to make sure my nutrition went well and not experience any fade in my heart rate or power at the end of the ride. I had recently listened to an Ironman Talk pod cast featuring Gordo Byrn on estimating power guidelines for an Ironman bike ride. Gordo used watts and heart rate from a half iron man race which he had a good run to estimate his wattage caps for the ironman. I wanted to get some valuable data to use for Kona this year.

My ride was going well, very few people passed me. Lars Finanger went by pretty strong but he is an uber cyclist. He was easy to spot. His shorts had LARS printed on the rear. I was keeping my wattage in the 200 to 260 range on the flats and allowed spikes into the 300’s on the hills. I tried to keep the heart rate below 150.

On the way back from Yellow canyon I saw Tim Terwey coming. He had won my age group for the past two years so I knew he would be my main competition. When he passed me I looked at his effort level and felt that he was on a suicide mission. He appeared to be going too hard for my tastes so I just let him go. A lot of things could happen in the next 3hrs, and I had confidence in my running ability. I chose to be patient.

For some reason this course didn’t feel as difficult for me as it has been in the past. I can remember finishing my first half here in 2005 and feeling absolutely trashed. I cramped severely on the run. I suppose my fitness level has come up since then, and experience has helped a lot too. This was my sixth half iron man.

Once I finished the spiral staircase, I saw that Tim had a 4 minute lead. I could deal with that. After that section, there is a gradual grade to take you back to the flats and a 10 mile stretch back on the chip seal roads and into the park. I suppose I lost concentration here because I felt like I wasn’t riding as aggressively as I should have at that point. Watts and heart rate faded a bit and I wasn’t passing very many people. When I got back to T2 I had, unknowingly, let Tim’s lead grow to over 8 minutes. His bike split was 2:25 and I went 2:36. My average HR was 147 and NP 220 for the ride.

T2 was slow. I had to put my socks on twice and that cost me 15 seconds or so. Dave Crow, an ASI photographer from the Tulsa area was there to capture the moment. I hit the run feeling pretty fresh. This was a good sign. I was running in a relatively new set of Newton running shoes.

The day before I left for Lubbock I ran 1.5 miles in the Newton’s and compared them to my usual New Balance racing flats. The Newton’s felt more comfortable and my time was 30 seconds faster over the distance with the same heart rate. The decision was made to use them in the race, but it wasn’t without some hesitation. I had yet to run longer than 4 miles in them.

The first three miles were 6:50’s and I was aerobic. Heart rate was 150. The Newton’s felt good. The first steep hill comes at 3 miles and I made it up at a 7:30 pace. At this point the fleet footed runners from the 40-44 age group came flying by. I’m glad I’m out of that age group now. The depth this year was just incredible.

The plan I had set for the run was to take it conservatively to the half way point then begin to build to 10 miles and let it rip on the last 3.1 miles to the finish. I wanted to negative split the run. At the turnaround, I saw that Tim had a 4 minute lead and he looked pretty uncomfortable. He would have to have a complete melt down for me to catch him but it still was possible.

Last year a friend of mine, Jennifer Johnson, won the overall amateur female in the last quarter mile of the run. I saw a photo of the pass and I pictured it in my mind as I pushed those final 3 miles. Those last miles go through a residential area with quite a few blind turns and trees. You are unable to see any runners ahead of you until you are right up on them. I looked at my watch and began to calculate that I could break 4:40. I would be real happy with that even if I didn’t catch Tim. So I went for it.

My last miles were low 6:50’s to 6:40’s and I was able to lift heart rate up into the 160’s. I crossed the finish line in 4:38:55. I later learned that I just missed catching Tim by 45 seconds. Oh well, I had a solid race and it was well paced. I had met all my goals with the exception of one. I was pretty pleased that I was able to significantly negative split the run. I ran the first half of the run at a 7:13 pace and the second half at a 6:56 pace for a final 1:32:53 split.

Looking back at the results, I had the fastest swim split by around 2 minutes, and run split by 7 minutes in the age group. Unfortunately, the second place run split was performed by Tim. At the awards dinner, Tim passed on his Kona slot to me and I was given the opportunity to pass it on to the next guy. It felt pretty good. I have always wanted to do that. I enjoyed seeing the expression on his face when he accepted the slot. It was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Aah….Just wait until he steps off the plane in Kona. That will be a real treat ;)