A season full of high expectations, long training session, my first marathon,
and the all-encompasing quest for the m-dot!
My first full season complete with three half-ironman distance events, a few age group
wins, and major progress being made.
Pictures and thoughts of my "rookie" season, with all of the ups and
downs that a triathlon newbie experiences.
Next Triathlon - Utah Half
- August 9, 2008, Oceanside, CA.
- Ironman Coeur d'Alene -
Oh my gosh! I'm an Ironman! OK - I got it out. Now let me tell you all about it.
First, the trip up to Northern Idaho was absolutely stunning. Most of it was over Montana
which was green and full of grazing cattle and snow capped rocky mountains. The twins did
pretty well on the trip since we got to see a lot of their favorite things: cows, horses,
trains, etc. We pulled into Coeur d'Alene on Friday afternoon and went straight to
Ironman Village to register for the race before the 4PM cut-off. Adam and I got our
race bracelets and headed over to the banquet hall where we at dinner and heard from
the organizers of Ironman, along with a brief presentation by the referee. It was
very entertaining, inspiring, and nerve racking! If I didn't feal nervous about the
event before, I surely did then!
Saturday Adam and I had to take all of our gear bags plus out bikes over to the main
transition areas for check-in. Unlike every other triathlon I've ever done before,
Ironman makes you have ALL of your gear there, on site, a whole day before the actual
race. In all, it was a master work in logistical choreagraphy. Everything planned out
down to the minute detail. After the gear check-in we (Kent, Sharyl, Spencer, Adam, Misha,
Debbie, DP, and Gracie) went on a drive of the bike course. HOLY COW! Those hills were
STEEP, and endless. My legs hurt just driving on the course. I knew that tomorrow was
going to be much harder than I had prepared for!
That night I slept in Adam and Misha's hotel room so that A) I could sleep without
and children waking me up in the middle of the night and B) so that I wouldn't wake them
up when I got up at 4:00 AM to start eating breakfast. That night the most amazing thing
happened ... I SPLEPT! Usually, the night before a race you toss and turn, visualizing
the race and thinking about all of the gear you might have forgotten. Oddly enough, that
night I slept like a baby. I basically figured, if I'm not ready now, I'll never be ready,
so just sleep and don't worry!
Sunday morning, everything went according to plan. Breakfast, check. Special needs bad,
check. Drinks, check. Adam, Misha, and I headed over to the race and began to get ready.
Even the bathroom line was relatively short when we arrived - wow, things were looking
good. The best sign was the relative lack of wind, which would mean a nice, smooth lake
for the swim.
Ironman Update - Training is coming along nicely for the big one, Ironman Coeur d'Alene!
The intesity of most of my workouts it low, but the duration is getting LONGER and LONGER.
The average run now is up to 12 miles, the long bike rides (on Saturdays) is 100 miles
(from Saratoga Springs to Nephi and back), and the "endurance swims" are 75 minutes of
straight swimming without any breaks. I'm getting up very early eary morning to get in the
runs I have to do, plus taking a really long lunch break to accomplish the swim workouts.
I feel better than ever - in fact, during track work last week I decided to just see what
my best mile would be and I ran a 5:35 mile! My previous best was 5:52, just 6 months ago (see below).
My goal for Ironman is 1) to finish and get my m-dot, 2) to come in under 12 hours. I
know that I can do the distances individually, but I have no idea how my body is going to
react to the massive brick of back-to-back-to-back events. I have to say, after every
century bike ride my legs have not felt like I could run 1 mile on them, much less 26.2!
Telos Timp Tri -
The night before this local race I decided that I'd like to trade in a long bike ride
for a fun little sprint triathlon. Since it was a pool swim, they reversed the order of
the events. Run first, then bike, then swim. That way, the athletes are more spread out
when they enter the pool - which we were sharing with all of the local community who called
the Orem Rec Center home.
At the start of the race, I took off like a bat out of you know where. I was the actual
race leader at mile 1! Sure enough, I couldn't hold the 6 minute/mile pace and started to
fade just a bit. I finished the 5K in 21 minutes, in 6th place overall.
I cruised into transition and had a lightning fast change into my bike gear and was off
in 4th place. I knew I only had 12 miles on the bike, so I let it all hang out! I attacked
every hill climb, downhill, and flat. I averaged around 24 mph and was able to pass another
leader to move into 3rd. My problem was the first two guys weren't cracking, and their
2-minute lead going into the bike was holding up.
Another fast transition and it was into the pool, where I managed a reasonable 1:30/100m pace
for the 350 meters. Some guy actually walked on the shallow end of the pool to get by me,
which I didn't particularly agree with. He beat me by 15 seconds, but I could have cut some
time off too if I had decided to walk on the pool bottom.
Anyhow - sorry for the sour grapes. I end up fourth place overall, and first in my age
division. Being such a local event I really thought I had a chance at a top 3 finish,
but that will have to wait for another day. Ironman is next up on the horizon and that
is what I've been preparing for all year.
4/18/2008 - Salt Lake Marathon -
After I finished recovering from Ironman California 70.3, I began focusing on the Salt
Lake City Marathon. Never having run a marathon, I didn't want Ironman Coeur d'Alene to
be my first experience with the 26.2 mile run. I prepared for it much like a triathlon,
got up to around 20 mile-runs the week before, and then a brief 5-day taper before the event.
On race day, I ate my traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwitch and wieght loss shake,
took my batch of pills that I take eash day, and I was on my way up to Salt Lake City.
We parked in the Gateway and then took TRAX up to the University of Utah campus, where
the race began. I was amazed to see how many people were there - thousands! Later on
I learned that the vast majority of them were there for the half-marathon, so after about 45 minutes
into the race they made the U-turn back to Salt Lake and we all continued down to Fort Union.
Race day was great - not too cold, with a little breeze out of the south. The first part
of the race was downhill, so I coasted with 8-minute miles all the way down to the half-way
point, where I crossed in 1:44 - right on time for my goal of 3:30. After the turn, we
headed back up through Murray and back into South Salt Lake. Between mile 15 and 20, it
seemed like the aid stations dissapeared! In triathlon I am a accustom to an aid station
every mile or so on the run, especially during the late phases when people start to get
tired and dehydrated. So I started to struggle due to a lack of water.
After mile 20, my quads started to cramp up pretty bad. I didn't stop, but I was forced
to slow down off of my 8-minute/mile pace. When I hit mile 23, the real battle was in my
head - just trying to convince my legs to go 3 measly little miles more. The last three
miles were brutal, but they eventually passed by. I came in at 3:40 - just 10 minutes
slower than my goal. From what I hear, that is a pretty good marathon time, especially
for a rookie like me. I felt really good about it - more so for what it does for my
Ironman training than for the marathon in and of itself. When I go to Coeur d'Alene
in a few months, I'll know that this is something I'm capable of doing and hopefully
it will help with the mental aspect of the race.
3/29/2008 - California Ironman 70.3 - I think I discovered the secret to Oceanside;
stay in the Confort Inn right on the marina, just yards away from the transition
area. Yes, after a GREAT nights sleep I was able to take my time getting ready,
have some good meals, and have plenty of time to just walk down and set up my
transition area. Best of all, I didn't have to wait in line for the nasty port-o-potties
for my pre-race (youknowwhat)! I just walked back the hotel, easy does it, and
back to the starting line in plenty of time for my wave to start.
I've also upgraded some equipment from last year - most notably my wetsuit, which
is now the brand new BlueSeventy Helix. It is SO comfortable and FAST! I was able
to cut my swim time from 38 to 36 minutes - and I felt GREAT after the swim.
Another upgrade from this year to last year is my bike - the Cervelo P2C.
I wasn't in that great of biking shape due to the cold weather and my limited
ability to go on training rides, but I did pretty well. I was a few minutes
slower than last year due primarily to a nasty headwind that kicked up for the
last 10 miles of the bike. But factor in my knowledge of the motorcycle referee
and the strict interpretation of drafting rules - and I was able to come into
T2 withouth having to first pay a visit to the penalty tent!
The weather was again PERFECT for the run and my legs felt great. I turned
in the exact same time as last year for the half marathon: 1:51. It was so great
to see my kids, my wife, my borther and brother-in-law, and my parents all
cheering my on at the finish line. My overall time was 5:19 - just 2 minutes better than
last year, but I was happy with the result considering how much more I trained
for this race last year. At the finish line my only thought was: could I do this
AGAIN to get to the Ironman distance? The answer, as of today, no way!
Did I mention I met Craig Alexander and Michellie Jones? They were really cool,
easy to talk to, and very supportive of all the age-groupers!
3/3/2007 - Still trying to ge ready for the California 70.3 in a few weeks.
The weather here in Utah has been really cold. Winter just does not want to give
us any breaks! Add to that the trade show in Las Vegas I'm in charge of for Telarus,
and you have a pretty bad recipe for working out. I've been doing what I can in
my new triathlon training room that I built in my basement. It has a computrainer
setup with a treadmill - and lots of mirrors so you can see how good (or bad) your
form is. I've been working out almost exclusively indoors - it will be good to
get outside and smell the farms where Adam and I train for the bike. (From Saratoga
Springs to Elberta - and back = 56.0 miles)
Also, it looks like I'll be doing this race by myself. Adam has to be here
for an infertility treatment and will have to miss the race. I guess some things
have higher priority! =)
12/3/2007 - Improving my run is my top priority for next season. My swim
is continuing to improve at a modest pace - making up for a lifetime of not being
on the swim team or doing any type of meaningful swimming exercise. My bike improved
dramatically in 2007 with the purchase of my new Cervelo P2C carbon tri bike, together with
the 1800 miles I rode this year. But my run ... boy, it's not much better than it
was last year. So after I returned home from Phoenix I began training really hard -
both on the track and on longer distances, to try to pick up my pace a bit. Since
then, I've started to post some new personal records (PRs)! I'll share a few of them
here with you:
1.0 mile - 5:52 (Juan Diego HS track)
3.1 mile - 20:05 (Utah Human Race 5K - Thanksgiving Day)
6.2 mile - 43:23 (Loan Peak HS and back run)
8.0 mile - 59:58 (Highland Drive and back run)
10.0 mile - 1:16:00 (Wendy's and back run)
I still need to improve on these times - but they are coming down 10-20 seconds per week.
The task now is to keep it going through the snowy winter months, when a lot of the
workouts have to be done indoors.
11/3/2007 - I participated in the
SOMA Half-Ironman in
Phoenix this weekend. It was an awesome event, with over 2,000
triathletes from all over the world participating. The swim course was in the Tempe lake,
right next to the parking lot of ASU stadium in downtown Tempe. The bike course was also all
over Tempe with a ton of turn-arounds, which gave everyone a chance to slow down and load up at the three
aide stations. The brutal piece of this triathlon was the
13.1 mile run, which was done for the most part in the heat of the noon-day sun. When we left Utah for the race
it was forecasted to be 90 degrees on Sunday, October 28. However, as the day went on
the mercury reached 97 degrees! I for one struggled to cope, even with all of the Gatorade
I could drink and water I could pour on my head. The past few weeks here in Utah the morning
runs were all done with cold temps (40-50 degrees), so my body was not prepared. My run time
was about 20-25 minutes off my usual, but I talked to a lot of locals who also complained about
their times being slower than usual as well.
All in all, it was a great race - tons of volunteers, a first class operation.
I look forward to giving it another shot next year, assuming the temps are a little cooler next year.
10/09/2007 - All systems "go" for the last triathlon of the season.
I participated in a mini-Sprint triathlon on September 29 in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
The weather was really cold and rainy, but my nephew's high school swim team was
sponsoring the event so I had to support the team! Being a local race, I thought
I could waltz right in an win, but I was wrong. The race was actually a "reverse"
triathlon; run, bike, swim. I was very glad to get the run over with first, but
by the end of the 3-mile course I was already about 3 minutes behind the leaders.
I did my best to pull them back on the hilly bike course, but could only get within
2 minutes of them going into the second transition. After having put the petal
to the metal on the bike, my arms were somewhat tired going into the swimming pool
for a 500 meter swim. I managed to just hold my place and ended up finishing in
sixth place. What an embarrassment! Even though I had been at a trade show in
New Jersey the entire week, I still expected to win. What a great humbling
experience that I can use to build for the future: never count your chickens,
8/11/2007 - Utah Half-Iron Triathlon
was a very fun race. Again, my goal was to beat the 5-hour
mark that I wasn't able to sustain in California 5 months ago.
My strategy was to improve each event and to have quick transition
times. Since the course was totally flat, and the transition area
was tiny (only 300 or so athletes competed), I knew my chances were
The day began with a good swim, getting out of the water in
36 minutes (compared to 38 minutes in Oceanside). Except for
almost falling down several times on the moss covered boat
ramp, the first transition went very smooth. The bike started
off pretty easy - I took a few miles to catch my breath and to
hydrate with some Accelerade. Then I kicked it into "race mode",
knowing that my average MPH needed to be around 22.4 mph. The
course was pretty well marked, but headwinds and traffic did
make for an interesting ride. I felt great coming in to the final
few miles and really dug into the field. I was passing people I
knew were "contenders" and trying to gain some time, since my
run was pretty unpredictable coming off my broken foot.
7/30/2007 - INJURY REPORT! I missed the Spudman Triathlon last weekend. My
foot didn't heal until late last week and I didn't want to risk re-injuring it
this soon after healing. I've been rebuilding up my run for the half-iron in
2 weeks. I started last week with 2 miles, then 4 miles, then 6 miles, then 8 miles,
and today I built up to 10 miles. The foot is still sore but it doesn't feel injured,
which is great news. Only 12 more days to get ready for only the second Half-Iron
on my life - and the last one was really hard. I think my swim will be around 38 minutes
again, with my new Cervélo P2C I should average 23+ mph (plus the course it flat as a
pancake), and (with some luck) I should average 8.0 min/mile pace on the run. That
should get me under my 5:00 hour goal. Wish me luck!
7/13/2007 - INJURY REPORT! In early June I fractured a bone in my foot
playing soccer. It was feeling better after a few days and so I decided to train
hard for the Provo Tri. After the race my foot really hurt for days, so I've
backed off on running since. This has forced me to opt out of the Echo Tri tomorrow
and hopefully I will be better by next week, so I can begin "re-training" for
the Spudman Tri in 2 weeks.
6/28/2007 - Adam and I are officially nuts. We both just finished registering
for the Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008 race. That gives us 364 more days to get
ready for 11-12 hours of pain and suffering. Training hard every day now has a
new sense of urgency and importance. Nothing like the fear of dying to motivate you
to get out and git'er done!
6/23/2007 - The Provo Tri 2007
is done - and ... wow! My first ever victory in my new favorite sport.
After a pretty dismal swim, I laid down the hammer on the bike, passing everyone
in my age group (23.7 mph average according to my cycle computer). I was pretty nervous about the run, since my foot has been
bothering me for the past few weeks - but I was able to dial in a pretty easy
8:15/mile pace that was good enough to hold off the pack while not causing my
foot any more injury. I'm pretty excited - but understand that my swim and
run have to improve if I'm going to place in a "real" race. No knock on the
Provo Tri, but there just wasn't a lot of people in the race (or volunteering).
I saw several people (myself included) get lost on the bike and miss turns, etc.
On a sad note, Debbie crashed on her bike and got some major road rash. But,
she's tough! She got back on and finished the tri in her best time: 1:40.
6/8/2007 - Just two more weeks until the Provo Triathlon, which I hope will be
my "coming out party"! It was exactly one year ago that I participated in my
first triathlon (the Provo Tri), so it almost feels like a birthday in some regards.
This will also be the first triathlon where I am actually familiar with the course,
having rode it last year and numerous times in practice since.
During training this week I've set some new personal records (in practice):
1-mile: 6:00, 6-mile: 42:48. I also continue to work on the swim and bike,
and believe that I am making progress there although it's hard to quantify in the
absence of a real race. I'm hoping for a top-10 age group finish in Provo, which
may be possible since many of the good triathletes in this area will be running in
the Dinoland Tri in Vernal, Utah for the tiny purse. We'll see!!!
5/14/2008 - The St. George Tri 2007 is in the books.
Out of all of the triathlons I've competed in, this was by far the hardest - but not for reasons you'd
think. First of all, my wife and I made the mistake of bringing our two kids along with us
down to St. George, Utah (about a 4 hour drive from home). Our kids are great kids, but being
just 19 months, they constantly require attention, maintenance, and care. I came down with a cold
a few days before the race and I tried everything possible to shake the bug before race day.
Combine that with the lack of sleep my children afforded me and I was completely beat during the
swim. Every stroke required an enormous amount of willpower.
Once I exited the lake in 30 minutes (wow, I still can't believe how slow I swam - Adam beat me
by 2 minutes out of the water!), I went into transition and suited up for the bike ride on my
BRAND NEW Cervelo P2C (carbon). The bike ride went great! The new machine just cruised and
the miles flew by. It may be because the bike is my favorite event, or because the wind
keeps you nice and cool - whatever it was, I pulled of a 1:12:59 25-mile course, with an average
speed of 20.8 mph, the EXACT same average speed as I did in California six weeks ago. The
big difference was how I felt afterward; in California my back and legs were trashed after
the bike. In St. George, my legs and back felt like they were barely used and ready to run!
My only complaint about the St. George Triathlon was the run course. Not only was 95% of it
on dirt, 50% of that was LOOSE dirt. Running through the fine sand was akin to taking a jog
on the beach. There were portions of the course that were steep (18% grade) with sand. It
was like a sick joke to be running on that stuff in a race. Nevertheless, neither my back
nor my legs gave me any trouble and I pulled off a sub-8 minute average pace. In California,
going sub-8 was not an option, but here I felt a world of difference thanks to my new bike.
To top it all off, my dad and my two kids fell extremely ill and we all had to pack up shop
and come home that same night. My mom drove my father right to the ER in Fontana, CA, and
my son and daughter set a new record for vomits in one day (15 combined). To say the least,
we're glad to be home and I'm so excited that my wife Debbie beat her 2-hour goal with a
stellar 1:51 effort!
4/1/2007 - California Ironman 70.3 Wow - what race! Actually, it was more than just a race - it was an
opening experience to be in Oceanside with so many professional Ironman racers, not to mention
a sea of people who had just raced Kona just six months ago. These athletes are INCREDIBLE;
lead, tan, nice equipment, the works. It didn't hit me that I was in the same race as these
superstars until the drive home - once the race horn went off, my race was the only one
on my mind.
I got into a hole early when I exited the swim leg of the race at 38 minutes. My sub-5 hour
goal only budgeted 35 minutes for the swim. During the swim, I felt like I was on pace
to meet my deadline, but I forgot to budget in the fact that I was swimming a zigzag
course, not a straight line - as it was difficult to see where I was going (plus there
was constant congestion the entire swim route).
Going into T1, I knew I had to dig down deep to make up those extra few minutes lost on the
swim. The ride was going along great until I was passed by a few riders who seemed to stall
right in front of me. I decided to wait a few seconds to see if they were going to pass
on through, or if I should retake them. My indecision to act quickly cost me, as a motorcycle
"referee" came up along side me and cited me for "drafting". Although I received -0- draft
from the guys ahead of me, I knew it was futile to argue with his decision. After a great
ride, I had to stand in a "Penalty Area" for 4 minutes before I could begin the run. (Hence
the 5+ minute T2 time).
Starting the run I immediately noticed pain in my lower back. Being hunched over in my aero bars
for almost 3 hours had caused my lumbar to tighten up, making it difficult to run upright.
Every stride was felt keenly in my back. The only thing I could do was just keep running and
hope the pain went away, or became tolerable. As you can imagine, the pain never did go away,
but my ability to cope with it did improve. By focusing on making it to another aide station
(each one was exactly 1 mile apart) and concentrating on hydration I was able to "forget" about
my back (and legs) for a time. As I increased in miles, I got stronger with the knowledge
that the end was in sight.
In typical PKO fashion, I sprinted the last few hundred yards to the finish line. Buoyed
by my family and friends who had come to see me, I at least wanted them to think I was running
that fast the whole time! I was so glad to just be "done", must more excited to see everyone
that came to support me (and Adam). I had a great time and learned a LOT about the sport
3/16/2007 - It's crunch time. Only 14 days until the big race, so I shaved my
head to celebrate. The cold temperatures just subsided here in Utah, allowing Adam and I the ability to run and bike outdoors once more.
The past few Saturdays we've been taking extended bike rides totaling 56+ miles and started
working on in-workout eating. We don't want to find out on race day that our stomachs don't
agree with Cliff bars and Gu's! Nutrition is really the name of the game now, as I can't even
finish a 40+ bike ride without eating something along the way. The good news is that Adam's
"broken" foot was actually a stress fracture caused by his biking shoes being too narrow!
He recently purchased a new pair of biking shoes (extra wides) and just a few weeks later
he's able to run again. What a relief!
My times are continuing to come down - I feel like I'm in better shape now than ever,
even though I eat over 3000 calories/day and have to go to the bathroom constantly!
CostCo Weight Loss Shakes are now my favorite food! I must drink around 6 of them every
As of today, I'm on track for a 33 minute swim, 21 mph average bike, and 7:10/mile run.
According to my math, and factoring in a minute or two for transitions, I should come
in at around 4:55. My goal all along was 5 hours, so hopefully everything goes well in
a few weeks!
1/15/2007 - Just one and a half months to go until the big race. Training outdoors here
in Utah has been problematic of late; the temperatures have been in the teens all week.
Also, Adam has injured his left foot. He'll be seeing a doctor soon - but hopefully
it will heal up in a few weeks without running on it. My times are still coming down, albeit
slowly. Sill on track for a sub-40 minute swim, 21 mph average bike, and 7:15/mile run.
Those numbers are now engraved into my brain!
12/19/2006 - Been training hard every day since October 1. Training is going well with my Tri Coach, David Pruetz. My swim split time is down to 45 sec per 50 meters,
my bike is up to 22 - 24 mph with an average of 275 - 300 Watts, and my run is up to 8.3 mph (7:14/mile pace). My only concern is
being able to hold my run pace for 13.1 miles! Up to now, I can still only push 8.3 mph for 6-7 miles. If I can continue
to improve for the next 90 days, I should be able to finish the half-Ironman well under 5 hours. I'm in way better
form now than I've even been.