Maybe they’ll name a street after me….

New Orleans Duathlon 67.1 Race Report

April 22, 2012

Steve Prefontaine was the most prolific American distance runner. Growing up in Coos Bay, Oregon, and later running for Bill Bowerman (founder of Nike) at the University of Oregon, Pre (as he was affectionately known) raced with a passion and zeal that continues to inspire athletes today. In the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, Pre raced in the 5k. The champion was Lasse Viren from Finland who was doubling in the games racing the 5k and 10k. When there was a terrorist attack at the Olympic Village, the games were suspended for a day and it gave the guys doubling in the 10k and 5k an extra day of rest. Pre was outraged at the idea of giving his competitors an advantage, but came to terms and decided to race his heart out and “go for the gold”. Pre took the race by the horns at the 9:20 mark and led until the last few laps before fading in the final 100m to finish 4th. Fourth place; the first one off the podium, no medal, no media, no respect. Pre was famous for quoting, “great when I return home they’ll probably name a street after me, call it Fourth Street.” This quote shows just how much 4th place sucks.

I relived my own Prefontaine story this weekend at New Orleans where I was scheduled to compete in an Ironman 70.3 which consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The day before the race, the race was changed to a duathlon with a 2 mile run, 52 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. This is a far cry from a triathlon, and far cry from a 70.3.

I have a few complaints about the decision to make the race a duathlon. First, a duathlon is a different sport than a triathlon. The race director needs to make every attempt to hold a triathlon and in this case, I’ve swum in much worse conditions than those on race morning. They were calling for a wind advisory, but the weather man was wrong and the wind advisory was gone on race morning. Bad call to change the race the day before. It also affected the participation. The inaugural New Orleans 70.3 had over 3,000 participants. This weekend there were 1600 participants registered and only 1200 started. The race management is killing this race. It is not supposed to be easy; people expect a fair amount of adversity when they sign up for an Ironman event, if it were easy they would call it a charity walk. Second, having a mass start 2 mile run before the bike creates a totally different race dynamic. Note, there was only a mass start for the Pros; the Age Group athletes did a time trial start leaving individually every few seconds to prevent drafting. Now why they think Age Groupers need separation so they don’t draft, but pros should be allowed to mass start blows my mind. There would be more separation in the Age Group two mile run than the Pro. Starting the entire men’s Pro field on the bike at the same time is a mistake and makes for an unfair race. Even a Time Trial start duathlon would be more just. Lastly, you cannot change the distances of the event. Shortening the bike and lengthening the run just doesn’t make sense. Now my strength is cycling so naturally I would want a full bike leg, but I don’t want a longer anything, I want to race all 70.3 miles that I signed up, all 70.3 miles that I trained for, and I don’t want to do it in a different order or a different manner. Imagine a decathlon competition cancelling the javelin throw and replacing it with the 3000m steeple chase. What happens to the athletes who are the best at the javelin? They lose to those athletes who are better at a 3000m steeple chase, even though neither athlete trained for such event. What if they even just modified the last event the 1500m run and shortened the event 10% to a 1350? The runners excelling at the 1500 would lose out. The outcome of the competition would be entirely changed, and that only involves one event out of ten. Changing 2 events out of 3, is ridiculous, and has an even greater impact on the outcome of the competition. So my best event, cycling was shortened by almost 10%. I have a GPS measurement of the bike being 51.2 miles so it was roughly 8.5% short of the advertised 56 miles. Now that doesn’t translate into a huge time savings, but still it is a lot of change. Now on the flip side of the coin, adding a 2 mile run to the equation makes the total run distance 15.1 miles, but the first run was actually 2.1 miles to the total run volume of the race was 15.2 miles or 16% longer than the advertised distance. I knew going into the race that I trained for a 13.1 mile run, and a 16% increase in running for the race with 8.5% less cycling, and 0% swimming (my second best of the three sports), was not exactly playing to my strengths. If they were going to increase the run by 16%, why not the bike? That is the equivalent of a 65 mile bike. Instead the bike was cut short 8.5% while the run was lengthened 16%.

So, knowing this going into the race, I was still going to play my cards and maybe with a bit of luck it would be enough to walk away a winner. In the end, I came up exactly 60s short of the win, but the win was not the important part to me. The effort I put out on the race course was important. I didn’t want to try to race a tactical race. I didn’t want to conserve on the bike and try to run my fastest half marathon. I went in with the game plan of keeping the first 2 mile slow and steady about 10k race effort. I didn’t want to run any faster than 5:20 pace because I do my 10K pace work on the track in 5:20. This strategy was important in being able to ride as fast as possible. Smashing the first 2 mile and building large amounts of lactic acid would only cause me pain and a higher heart rate on the bike and final run. I paced the first run near perfect (just a little slow since the headwind was on the second half) in 5:24 pace. Since 5:20 was my max I was willing to run, 5:24 was probably perfect. I was able to get on the bike and start hammering right away. I took the lead at mile 10 and didn’t look back. I came into transition with a little over a 2 minute lead, which I thought would be enough to win the race. I was pretty confident in my ability to run 1:15 off a hard bike. I held very close to a 1:16 pace until the last 3 miles of the run. My legs started cramping pretty severely and I was on the verge of needing to stop because of the cramps. I was overtaken by Trevor Wurtele around mile 11 and tried to hang as close as I could but ultimately I didn’t have enough left in the tank. Mile 12 I was passed by Tom Lowe, and mile 13 I was passed by Richie Cunningham. There was some confusion about the finish line entrance by the top finishers and Richie and I started a mad finish line sprint 600m before the line and I totally blew up nearly having to walk into the finish line. Once I sprint, it is all done, enough lactic acid build up to kill a small child and then I am completely wasted for a few minutes while I try to recover. I was pretty upset with 4th place on a day when I felt I should have been able to win, but when it was all said and done, I didn’t have enough on the day to win. I want to thank Trevor, Tom, and Richie for pushing to the limit on the day. I was 60 seconds short of the win; miles 10, 11, and 12 of the race were 6:11, 6:07, and 6:12, which averages to 6:10 pace. I averaged 5:49 for the other 10 miles of the run; those 3 miles of pain are where I need to find improvement.  As Coach Cliff English bumps my run volume up over the next 6 week block before Eagleman on June 10, I should be ready to throw down a fast run in Maryland.

My bike power was solid with 323 average watts and 328 normalized watts. My power tailed off a bit at the end of the ride for a couple of reasons, one being there was a nice tailwind and the extra power is not necessary to maintain speed, and the other being, I start to prepare for the run by backing off, and getting in extra nutrition. My power graph is available at the bottom of the page.

I wasn’t happy about the change to a duathlon in New Orleans, but it was a race and I was going to do everything in my ability to try and win the race. I was off the front and racing hard, I was playing my cards the only way I could on the day. I came up a bit short on the final scoreboard, but if I measure success by the effort of the day, the race was a success.

Work Hard,


1 Wurtele, Trevor 10:50 1:57:49 1:13:36 3:23:51
2 Cunningham, Richie 10:50 1:58:40 1:13:02 3:24:04
3 Lowe, Tom 10:53 1:57:05 1:14:30 3:24:05
4 Tollakson, Tj 11:25 1:54:14 1:17:32 3:24:51
5 Evoe, Patrick 11:06 1:57:44 1:15:24 3:25:43
6 Kemp, Christian 10:48 1:59:31 1:14:13 3:25:57
7 Amorelli, Igor 10:43 1:59:29 1:15:18 3:27:02
8 Lovato, Michael 10:49 1:59:02 1:16:01 3:27:36
9 McDonald, Chris 10:47 1:57:56 1:17:50 3:28:11
10 Ruble, Zach 10:51 1:59:21 1:20:41 3:32:26

Check out the Pre Video Here:




In like a Lamb…

Race Report Ironman Texas 70.3, Galveston, TX

April 1, 2012


March is supposed to be the month of polar conditions: either in like a lamb, and out like a lion, or the reverse, in like a lion, out like a lamb. My first race of the season in Galveston, TX was definitely in like a lamb. What can I say, it was a pretty terrible effort, I stumbled out of the starting blocks, I stalled on the runway, and I just plain didn’t make it off the ground. My training and preparation was solid, probably not quite as solid as I would have liked, but for the most part, the training parameters were all in line with being ready to race. Coach Cliff had me doing the right amount of intensity and volume to crack out a great 70.3 at the beginning of the year. Well things don’t always happen like I want and today was one of those days.

Race morning was very usual, nothing out of the ordinary. It was warm and humid but it was also windy. I didn’t feel stellar on my warm-up, but mostly because it was already so warm outside. I did feel great swimming this morning and my new TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit was simply amazing. I was annoyed at the start of the swim, because there was a mass false start. I really can’t stand the lack of respect for rules in triathlon, so many people find cheating acceptable. We need to do something about the rules, or the cheating. I would prefer the pro wave simply take a cue from the ITU and dive in from a pontoon at the start. A pontoon start seems to be the only fair solution, and those who false start are easily seen and penalized. Anyway, I was off and swimming at the front of the pack. I was comfortable and the pace was casual. About 15 minutes into the swim, I started to overheat. The water was a bit warm for a full sleeve wetsuit, and with the ridiculous rule of 76 degree wetsuit racing from the WTC, I was torn between wearing my super fast Freak of Nature, or using a sleeveless or speed suit and risk losing some valuable time in the swim. I didn’t think the water was that warm on race day, but apparently it was a lot warmer than I thought. I quickly dropped back in the pace line and tried to lengthen my stroke and glide as much as possible using minimal energy. I exited near the back of the front pack out of the water, but it was already too much. My HR was sky high and my super slow jog to transition, being passed by everyone behind me except Lance Armstrong, didn’t seem to help with the matter. Since the bike is kind of my thing, I was ready to lay down the hammer and with Lance behind me I was ready to hit it hard.

I tried to pull the throttle back on the bike, but for some reason I was stuck in second gear. My HR was still super high but worse yet, I was only putting out 250 watts, a very easy effort for me. I couldn’t get it going. I thought I just needed to keep going and hopefully the legs would come around in a couple of miles and I would be fine. I watched as athlete after athlete passed by seemingly at Mach V speeds. There was nothing I could d o to ride any faster, my throttle was simply broke. The last 40 minutes of the bike actually started to turn around for me and I was able to hold my Ironman (not 70.3) pace watts, but at this point it was too little too late. I was already totally out of the race. My 2:14 bike split put me 10 min out of the race. I got off the bike and decided I was going to have a solid run and make the most of the day. After all, I felt decent the last 40 minutes on the bikes, maybe things were turning around. I ran my first mile in 5:54, not great, but not awful, next mile 6:03, next mile 6:30, next mile 8:30, I stopped and walked a bit, my stomach was not right. I was dehydrated but couldn’t stomach the fluid at the aid stations. My legs were dead, my get up and go, got up and left. I ran a couple of 7:30 miles and ran to the part of the run course where Cliff and Ashley were standing. They both told me to shut it down and call it a day. Tough call to make, but it was time to look forward to the next race and finishing today would have just contributed to fatigue without any gains in fitness. I was not running fast enough to benefit from the session and being dehydrated would contribute to the damage. It was a rough day, and a DNF doesn’t ever feel good, but sometimes it is the right call, and it takes some maturity to know when it is the right call.

I was totally amazed and inspired by the championship performance of fellow Cliff English Coaching athlete, Tim O’Donnell. He showed some true grit winning the race in the last mile of the run.

Up next for me is New Orleans Ironman 70.3. Last year, I blew out my tire and had a nasty crash but still finished the race with a great run after riding the last two miles of the bike without a front tire (just rim). I have a bit of a personal grudge with this course, and this year, I’ll make it right. I want to make sure I can go out like a lion.




Do You Believe in Miracles?

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

July 24, 2011

My primary goal for 2011 was to win an Ironman. To accomplish this goal I decided to schedule two Ironman races for the season outside of Kona. My first Ironman of the season at St. George went well, as it was another podium finish, but I struggled on the bike and early run with an upset stomach.  I managed to come back on the run and put together a solid finish, but I knew I left a lot on the table that day. After St. George I put my focus on Ironman Lake Placid. I raced a pretty light schedule in between with only one 70.3 at Eagleman which I won, but also knew I was focusing on the Ironman. While a little tempted to race another 70.3 before Lake Placid, I had to remind myself to keep my eye on the donut and not the hole. I was going into Lake Placid with a great and very specific training block thanks to my coach, Cliff English. My workouts were going extremely well and I felt perfectly prepared for my best Ironman yet.


Lake Placid will forever be remember for the “Miracle on Ice” during the 1980 Winter Olympics when USA beat the heavily favored Russians and took home the gold medal. I was hoping to capture some of that “miracle” in Lake Placid and capture my first Ironman win. I traveled to Lake Placid on Wednesday and had a great homestay with Charlie Cowan (local endurance stud) thanks to Scott Lukan. I had a long day of travel, flying into Burlington then driving over to Lake Placid (which included a ferry ride). I made it in late, grabbed some dinner with Charlie and his son, Sam, and then went for a short run at dusk to shake out the legs. I lounged around most of Thursday - then Friday was a very busy day as I did a signing with Zipp at Placid Planet Bike Shop, interviews for IronmanLive and Universal sports, the press conference, pro meeting, and a signing with TYR at the Ironman expo. I was ready for the day to be over and thankfully my mom and sister came into town and picked up Ashley from Burlington. Saturday was a more relaxing day and it was nice to have Ashley around to help with the final race prep.


Race day started with a 4:20 wake-up call and breakfast immediately following. I started the day with two Ensure Plus chocolate shakes and a whole-wheat bagel with PB and J. One can of Red Bull was enough to spike my energy for the morning. I went down to the transition area and prepped my bike. I had a sweet SRM telemetry responder on my rig which would provide live HR and Power Data during the race. There was a morning announcement that the swim would be non-wetsuit legal, which was only more exciting for me. I dropped off my special needs bags with Ashley then had one pack of PowerBar Gel Blasts and another can of Red Bull. I hopped in the water for a short warm-up and felt great in the water. I started on my usual spot, just on the outside of the main pack. About 200m into the swim, I converged onto the buoy line shoulder to shoulder with Holden Comeau, the swim leader. Half way through the first lap, Holden put in a surge away from the buoy line. I had no interest in wasting the energy to chase him off the line, and knew he wasn’t a serious contender because wasting that energy would not be the race plan of a contender. I was left behind; swimming with Luke Bell and on the second lap, came around Luke to do the work and came out of the water second about a minute behind Holden. After a quick transition I was on the bike and settling into my Ironman pace. I went a bit harder at the start of the race but it only took about 5 miles to take over the lead of the race and then it was no looking back. About 20 miles into the bike, Luke Bell was no longer right behind me and I was comfortably cruising at my own pace. Ben Hoffman was making up some time on me during the first lap of the bike, but he was never closer than a minute behind. It’s always hard to get accurate splits when I’m in the lead. I came through lap one on the bike in 2:15 and knew I was on track for a great bike split. I just had to hold my pace and keep it steady. I stuck to a strict nutrition plan of one gel every 20 min on the bike. I had three bottle flasks (from mounted on my bike each with 5 PowerBar Energy Gels.  I had one flask with Raspberry Cream, one with Berry Blast (for the caffeine in the middle of the bike), and one with Kona Punch. At mile 60 I took one packet of PowerBar Gel Blasts, Cola flavor. I finished all 15 gels at the end of the bike and was ready for a run. I felt as good at the end of the bike as I did at the beginning (well, almost). I knew I was ready to really rock a solid marathon. I started out with the first downhill out of transition in 5:50, but knew I was fine because it was downhill. I settled into a solid 6:20 pace for the first half, and then slowed to 6:30 avg by the 20 mile mark, but still on a 2:50 pace. I ran the first half of the marathon continuing with my plan of one gel every 3 miles and water. I had two cans of Red Bull at special needs, and finished the run using cola and water. I made a few mistakes as it was a bit warmer than I anticipated (and the forecast called for), so I was a little hyponatremic on the run, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Salt Stick caps will be important in Kona. I knew I had a really big lead at that point, and the advice from the coach was to shut it down and run a bit easier to the finish to aid in the recovery. We always talk about the recovery process starting during the training and racing and this was an important call for recovery. Since this was my first Ironman where I wasn’t racing to the wire, this was my first time slowing significantly (on purpose) at the end. I loved the last 4 miles of the race as the crowd was going crazy. I loved every bit of it and I was still setting a marathon PR in an Ironman.  I just soaked it in and basked in the glory of winning my first Ironman. It was a near perfect race for me. I lead from 5 miles on the bike to the finish. I couldn’t stop smiling. I worked so hard and waited so long for this first Ironman victory. I was nearly on the verge of tears. I was very emotional about this race. After struggling with injury the past couple of years and finally having surgery on my hips this winter, I am healthy, training well, and WINNING! I cannot possibly explain the feeling of winning my first Ironman after such a long and arduous struggle. This is only the beginning but it was a huge step forward in my career. My splits were:


50:41 Swim

4:33:30 Bike

2:56:45 Run

8:25:15 Finish


For analysis of my bike power data check out my trainingpeaks file here:


Post race, I spent an hour chugging water for drug testing then Ashley and I went to the Breakfast Club, etc for a big burger and some cheese fries!  I returned to the finish line at night to watch the last finishers beat the 17-hour time mark. The crowd at midnight was huge and super energetic. It was the perfect nightcap for my first Ironman win. I went to Wise Guys with Elizabeth Whitmaack, her fiancé Chris Kaplanis, Chris’s mom, Alice, and their friend Travis. We had a great recap of the day and some more grease and salt (everything my body craves after an Ironman). I want to thank all my sponsors for their support, I couldn’t race without them.


Here is a run-down of all the equipment I used on race day:


Swim: TYR Racetech metalized goggles, TYR Carbon Collection, TYR Torque swimskin


Bike: Vintage 1996, Zipp 2001 bike modified and branded Dimond (by Ruster Sports), SRAM Red Groupo 54 TT chain ring, Casco Carbon Warp Helmet, Profile Design Cobra base bar, Cobra T2 extensions, Aris 130mm stem, Profile Design RMC rear mounted hydration and Karbon Kage in the front,  Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Front Wheel, Zipp 900 clincher disc rear wheel, Maxxis Xenith Equipe L’egere tires, Fizik Arione Tri saddle.


Run: K-Swiss K-Ona shoes, Ruster Sports Quick Laces, CEP Progressive Compression Socks, TYR Carbon Collection, TYR Visor, Oakley Jaw Bones eyewear.


Work Hard,



Fly Like An Eagle…

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

Cambridge, MD June 12, 2011

Cambridge, Maryland will always be special to me. It is the site of my first major professional win, but it is also one of the best triathlon towns in the country. Cambridge is a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. With the Choptank River running through town (and access to the Ocean), boating is a major recreational activity, but it is also right next to the Blackwater Preserve, home to several magnificent Bald Eagles. All in all, Cambridge is a gem of a town.

I have raced Eagleman four times, I was 6th in 2006, I won it in 2007, and I had a flat tire DNF in 2008. Scheduling conflicts prevented me from racing in 2009 and 2010, but I jumped at the chance to return in 2011. Coming back to Cambridge this year, I thought about Chris McCormack’s quote in Kona after he had a mechanical DNF the year after he won, “I’m not the champion any more, but I haven’t been beaten” I felt the exact same way this year in Cambridge. My 2007 time of 3:46 hasn’t been bettered on the modern course, so I knew I had a special connection with the course and an ability to soar like an eagle. My race plan for 2011 would be identical to 2007, have a front pack swim, get on the bike and take control of the race. The weather proved to be quite a formidable opponent on race day as temps soared in the 90s with super high humidity. The wind was gentle but present, just enough to feel it on the bike.

My homestay for the weekend was Rich and Ann Strauss. I met them in 2006 when I first raced Eagleman. They are part of a social group known around Cambridge as the “Wharf Rats”, a group of boaters always hanging around the wharf in town. Dave Thatcher (another Wharf Rat) was my original homestay in 2006. This year, Ashley and I would hold up in Rich and Ann’s camping trailer RV. It was actually quite a pleasant experience as we lived in close quarters, but I think after 2 nights, Ashley had her fill of living super close to me. The night before the race, Dave Thatcher called me to tell me he looked online at the results from the past 5 years and noticed that my time was still the fastest, so I was there to win because nobody has been able to race as fast as I did. Thanks for the confidence Dave! We had a great pasta dinner at Rich and Ann’s house followed by some lovely fruit pie for dessert. I was ready to rock.

I had plenty of time on race morning to get in all the warm-up I wanted. I rode my bike to the race start (1.6 miles), and then went for a short run with some drills, strides, and stretches. It was super humid in the morning and I worked up a solid lather before donning my TYR Torque Swimskin and heading into the Choptank River. The water was calm and they modified the swim course to go clockwise instead of the typical counter clockwise course they used for most of the races thus reversing the swim entry and swim exit points. I did a nice swim warm up in the 82 degree water (record high water temps) and felt smooth and relaxed in the water. It was time to race.

The gun went off and I had positioned myself on the far left of the swim course (outside lane). Matt Reed and John Kenny were both near me, so I jumped on John Kenny’s feet for as long as I could then when he got away, Matt Reed came by me and I stayed on his feet for the remainder of the swim. I was in a small group of 4 swimmers including Matt, Terenzo (two time defending champion), and a Russian I had never heard. I came out of the water 4th in the pack but was comfortable and in a solid place to take control on the bike. It didn’t take me more than 5 miles to assume the lead on the bike and I never looked back from there. I put my head down and hammered. The flat, smooth, blacktop roads made for an ideal time trial for me. I didn’t get any time splits on the course and I didn’t have anyone around me. I knew there was nobody close behind me, but I didn’t know how big (or small) my lead was. I came into transition and the first split I heard was from Maxim Kriat saying I had at least 3 minutes on the chasers. I ran the first 3 miles of the run and Ashley and Sean Bourne (my swim training partner in AZ), gave me a split I had 4 minutes on Matt Reed and Terenzo. I had my work cut out for me because my first 3 miles were not blazing fast. Apparently nobody was going to be blazing fast on the day as the heat and humidity took its toll on all the athletes. At the turn-around of the run I had about 4:30 on the chasers, so I knew I was actually putting time on them. I could relax a little bit, but still had to make sure I was holding pace. With 3 miles to go I still had a 4:30 lead so I shut it down a bit and just cruised to the finish. I was starting to cramp a bit from the heat, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t dig too deep those last few miles. I ended up crossing the finish line with a 3 minute margin of victory over Richie Cunningham (he was also second in 2007 when I won). The victory was sweet! Like bookends on a period of trials and tribulations for a period of 3 years involving injury and my recent hip surgery and recovery, I was back on top. There were only 2 runners who managed to break 1:20 on the run so my 1:22 run wasn’t too shabby. It was enough to win and that is really what matters, but there is always room for improvement. I took a moment at the finish line to pose and soak it all in, you never know when your next win is coming so I wanted to enjoy it for everything it is; awesome.

Having my wife, Ashley, and training partner, Sean, there to witness my win was even better. I can’t wait to return to Cambridge in 2012 to once again fly with the eagles.

Work Hard,



A Dam Good Training Day…

Dam to Dam Race Report

June 4, 2011

I was supposed to run Dam to Dam on June 4, with my wife, Ashley, as a training day for me and help pace her to a PR and a sub 1:14 20k to collect a cash time bonus in the race. I ended up running solo since Ashley just found out days before the race she has a stress fracture in her medial tibia. She was majorly bummed and so was I. I did the run anyway as my last workout before Eagleman. I was directed my Coach Cliff to wear my heavy training shoes and treat it like a workout, not a race. I was going to do a 5 mile warm-up (one mile was with my Shar Pei, Whinnie), then do a 3 mile cool down after the race and run straight home and hop in the ice bath then sit in the Normatec. It was a perfect setup for a tough 20 mile day of running. I went out with the lead women for the first mile and it was 5:37. I knew that was faster than I wanted to run, and faster than they would run so I promptly slowed down to the correct pace to run sub 1:14. I ended up running a few miles with a former high school cross country teammate, Marcus Murphy (he was second at Dam to Dam in 2005). I kept my pace steady and even. I went through the 10k in 36:30 and finished my final 10k in 37:00 for a total time of 1:13:30. It was a very smart day of training and pacing and just what I needed for one last hard workout before Eagleman. I ended up running into the finish with Michelle Lilienthal from Iowa City (now Michelle Frey) who took 4th place for the women. Ashley was pretty bummed watching me finish know that she could have been right there duking it out with Michelle for 4th. Oh well, there will be many more days of racing for Ashley. Ice bath and Normatec then some breakfast at Gateway Market and a nap, sounds like a perfect Saturday to me!

Work Hard,


Snake in the alley…

Snake Alley Memorial Day Bike Races Report


Last year, I drove to Burlington, IA with my good friend Brad Bach to compete in the Burlington Memorial Day bike races including the Burlington Road Race and the Snake Alley Criterium. I was still a CAT 3 rider in 2010, and raced in the CAT 3/4 Road Race then the master’s 30+ Crit and CAT 3 Crit. I had a great time racing despite note taking it super serious. I was really just there for a tough workout. I was planning on returning with Brad this year to race in the Pro 1/2 Road Race and the Master’s 30+ Crit, but Brad broke his bike frame the week prior and had to sit out. This year I made the trip with my American Equity Velosport Iowa Teammate, JJ Bailey, and his girlfriend, Erin. We drove up on Friday morning for the Road Race, and somehow managed to make a wrong turn. We were heading East and a little South to Burlington, IA, but JJ was driving and looked up at the big sign asking “Why are we in Missouri?” We took a nice 90 min detour, but made it in plenty time for the race. It was actually quite comical. We thought we should have at least stopped at the border exit to purchase some fireworks to show for our adventure. It really only limited my warm-up, but that was fine too. It was a 102 mile Road Race, so there was plenty of riding to do. The race started very chaotic as rider after rider attempted an early break. I had a solid team with me, Jeff Bradley (our team leader and former tour de France pro), Lou Waugaman, Carson Christen, Chad Bishop, and JJ. There were a total of 6 of us, and we were all strong riders, but the plan was to try to lead Jeff out for the downhill sprint finish into town. There were a couple of early breaks that the peloton reeled in, and then it started raining. I didn’t want anything to do with a bike race in the rain so I went to the back and actually rode off the back for a short while, but when the road was straight and flat, I found myself in the peloton. Coach Cliff English told me goal number one of the bike racing weekend was to make sure I didn’t crash. I didn’t want to ride like a pussy, but I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks either. The rain eventually stopped and there was a solid break up the road and nobody was working to bring it back. Jeff got the team organized with another team (ISCORP) and we took turns pulling at the front to try and reel in the break. We worked hard and functioned well as a team, but in the end we fell about 30 seconds short of bringing back the break. It was still a great race, and I loved working as a team in a “through and off” echelon. Jeff cracked the top 20 in the sprint so it wasn’t a miserable attempt, but we certainly were a rookie team. I finished the day with an hour run off the bike while my teammates and scoffed at my ridiculous antics, but hey, I’m a triathlete not a cyclist. It was a late night and early morning but I was ready to go again in the Master’s 30+ race at Snake Alley. Snake Alley is the “crookedest road in America”; it is a short brick road that switchbacks up a steep hill on the river bank. I did a long warm-up as per coaches instructions then just before the start of the race, it started to rain. I wanted to just drop out of the start line, but I paid my money for 12 laps up snake alley, and gosh darn it, I was going to get all 12 of those laps, rain or no rain. I changed my tactic from racing to just riding and made sure to hit the climb nice and hard each lap, but played it safe on the descent to make sure I avoided crashing. I didn’t really have any fun in the crit and left Burlington a little sour on the experience, but I will probably return next year at least to do the road race with my team. I finished the crit on Saturday with a 45 min run off and called it a day of training.

Work Hard,




IM ST George Bike

Fight for every second…

Ironman St George Race Report


Ironman St George would be my debut Ironman of 2011, and my debut Ironman after my FAI surgery (see previous post). I had a bit of bad luck in New Orleans with a flat tire blowout crash, but still finished the day with a solid effort and my run split was right where I wanted it. The proof of my fitness was there, but the result was not what I wanted. With some aggressive rehab with road rash, I was able to make a nearly complete recovery before St. George, only one deep wound remaining on my right ankle. I was ready to race, and excited to test my new weapon, the run.

I drove to St George on Wednesday morning with my swim training partner, Sean Bourne. I did all the driving since I was counting on Sean to drive home. We did a short swim in the morning before leaving then packed up the mini-van and left. We made it to St. George in time for s short 30 min spin before dark. I was tired from a long day of travel but still feeling good.  Thursday evening, my wife, Ashley, and coach, Cliff English, arrived and Sean made the trip to the airport to pick them up. Thursday’s workouts included just a short open water swim and a short 3 mile run. Friday, my only workout was a 30 min bike, and a good deal of that was spent checking out this ridiculous area on the course where we had to ride on a bike trail with a hairpin turn. I checked my bike and gear into transition on Friday (no easy task since transitions were 24 miles apart), then went home to cook my pre-race meal.

Race morning started with a 4:15 wake-up call followed by the usual Ironman Breakfast of Ensure and a bagel. I had Cliff drop me off at T2 to take the bus to the swim start; it was nice to not worry about the driving.

The swim start was calm for me since I started out wide for clear water. I quickly and easily made it to the front of the swim and was comfortably swimming with the leaders. I was nervous that Mathias Hecht was going to let a gap open up, so I jockeyed with him for position a bit, but he was comfortably in control so I was fine, but I just wanted to make sure. I exited the water 4th, in the lead pack of 4. It was just where I wanted to be, maximizing my speed while minimizing my effort. Swim split was 49:18. I was first out of transition and onto the bike. I felt awesome and was in the perfect position. I started the bike focused on my power, committing not to ride too hard too early. Patience would be the key today. I was passed by Mathias and Paul Ambrose early on the bike and just let them go since they were riding faster than I wanted to push for the entire 112 mile bike leg. I stayed about 2 min behind them for the first lap of the bike, and was caught by Maik Twelsiek and Ben Hoffman (about 3 min behind out of the water). I completed the first lap of the bike close to Ben. I was struggling with my stomach at this point, and I passed on the opportunity to get my special needs bag since I wasn’t consuming calories well. Ben kept a steady distance in front me through about mile 85 when I started vomiting my water and food. I just couldn’t push hard on the bike, and not being able to keep down the calories was killing me. Some age grouper got a first-hand look at my projectile vomiting and just looked over at me and said, “keep fighting, man!” words to live by for the rest of the race. In some aspects I was glad to vomit because it gave my stomach some temporary relief but I also knew I was losing valuable calories and water on a hot day. My body was telling me it wanted to rid itself of something inside my stomach, and I would just have to listen to my body. Shortly after the projectile vomiting I was caught by Michael Weiss, last year’s champion. I stayed close to him for the next 20 miles until he eventually pulled over and dropped out of the race. We were not riding very hard and I was losing time to the leaders every mile. I just couldn’t push the watts on the bike like I wanted. I was still confident in my run, but knew I would have my work cut out for me with such a big deficit from the bike. My bike split was 4:49:25 (5th fastest on the day but 13 minutes slower than Maiki). I had some work to do on the run. I took out of transition (after taking the time to put on my CEP compression socks) and hit two 6:30 miles on the uphill section. My stomach was hurting but I was convincing myself to run through the pain. Since my calories on the bike were limited to only 700 (and who knows how many of those came back up), I was already in a major calorie deficit for the day. I was going to run this entire marathon on coke and water (and Red Bull in my special needs bag). I was in 5th place on the run, but once I started running the steep 8% hill for 1200m, I was passed by Mike Aigroz. My stomach was killing me; I could hardly stand up straight. I stopped and walked a few times, I stopped and keeled over a few times. I was thinking of dropping out of the race. I needed points for Kona, and clearly I was not on track to earn any points. I was thinking of Ironman Texas in a couple weeks with double the points as St George. Matt Lieto passed me in the Ironmanlive race vehicle and told me to keep going, to get moving. I started running again and while my next mile was 8:20, I was still moving. After mile 5 I was feeling slightly better and after mile 6, I was on a mission, to run down as many people as possible. I had some serious work to do, because since coming out on the run course I had managed to lose even more time to everyone in front of me. I started clipping off 6:15 miles and was feeling great and very focused and determined. I know a huge part of Ironman racing is managing highs and lows, so I felt I came through some serious low points, and now just needed to manage feeling good. In other words, I needed to stay patient and not try to make up all the time as quickly as possible. The marathon is a long run, and I had a ton of time and distance yet to cover. Patience would be key. By mile 23 I had moved from 6th place to third. First and second were out of reach, but I did my best to get back into the race. This was the hardest fought podium finish in any of my Ironman races (now I have 5 consecutive North American Ironman Podium finishes, 2x3rd place, 3x2nd place). Anyone can race hard when they feel good, I forced myself to race hard today when my body was shutting down. The race was fought one step at a time, and most importantly I never gave up (even though I felt like it several times). I kept thinking about Mark Allen saying, “An Ironman is never over until you cross the finish line.” That was case in St. George and that is always the case. I crossed the finish line in 3rd today, but I learned some great things about myself. I struggled to race like I wanted to, I kept believing things would get better, even when I knew I was out of reach to win the race, I dug as deep as I could to finish on the podium. Some days it is the small victories that count. Oh yeah, I had a run PR on the most difficult Ironman run course in the world with a 2:58:02. Better days are coming, I am sure of that!


Crash, Burn, when will I learn…?

New Orleans 70.3


New Orleans was the official start of my 2011 racing season and the day started off quite irregularly. The swim was cancelled to dangerously high winds and swells on the water. The athletes and organizers determined to change the format to a bike then run race with a time trial start on the bike with the pros starting 30 seconds apart. This type of race would really suit me well since I am one of the best time trialists in the sport. I started 9th (but wearing number 10, because Andy Potts, #1 was not there) and was 4:30 behind Terenzo Bozzone who started first. I was riding very well and felt awesome. The new Zipp bike was so smooth and fast. I managed to catch everyone in front of me except for Terenzo who at 53 miles was only :45 seconds in front of me. I was putting myself in perfect position. With only a couple of miles to go, I ran over a hardened concrete dropping from a nearby construction site and blew out the front tire on my bike. I had a tailwind and was riding at 32mph in my aerobars. I started to wobble then, BAM, I went down hard in a slide. I got up all bloody and frantic. I tried to repair the tire and change the tube but my attempt was futile. I got back on the bike and rode the carbon rim into transition, very slowly, but on edge the whole time because the bike is very unstable without a tire. I made it into T2, parked my bloody bike, and then headed out on the run. My wife, Ashley, saw me exit T2 onto the run and realized I cashed, she was a bit relieved to see me and know that I was fine and going to finish. I told her I was going to have a good run despite the crash. I wasn’t expecting to have such a great run. I ended up splitting 1:14:38 for the half marathon, easily my fastest 70.3 run split in the past 3 years. It felt awesome to know that I have my run back, and that my surgery was a success and I would be able to train and race without pain for the first time in years. The bad part was I crashed on my bike. I would need to tend to some serious road rash, make some repairs to my bike, and get ready to race IM St. George in 20 days. No time to waste, every day counts.


Back in the saddle again…

March 18-20, 2011

Tucson Bicycle Classic

March 18 marked an official return to competition milestone for me. I did a couple of cyclocross races after Kona last fall, but on November 10, I had the first of two surgeries during my offseason. I have been plagued with Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) for some time, but it has only presented a problem to my training and racing for the past two years as I have been dealing with torn labrums in both my hip joints. Basically, any amount of hard running was crippling me and causing me agony on a regular basis, worse yet, it was altering my running mechanics. I tried to manage the pain and symptoms the past two years with cortisone injections, NSAIDs, and physical therapy, while trying to work on the root cause through a core exercise program to strengthen my hip flexors and help pull the femur away from the acetabulum (hip socket). I was racing a lighter Ironman schedule in 2010 so I could work on the rehab, but once I started the Ironman training for Kona, the pain was too much to take. I recall one particular day last September when I was completing a double run; I was at the trails by the Pima Community College Track in Tucson. I was grimacing through the pain; the pain became so much, tears started falling. I knew I had to take care of the problem and schedule a surgery.  I was hoping I could schedule both hips at the same time, but that was not advised so I was going to have to schedule 2 surgeries 4 weeks apart. November 10 was the first date, and December 6 was the second date. I was going to use two surgeons because of the scheduling difficulties. I was attempting to get in to see Dr. Marc Philippon at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, CO . He is the world renowned expert on FAI, and has worked on superstar athletes such as Alex Rodriguez, Arnold Palmer, Kurt Warner, George St. Pierre, and many others. Dr. Phillipon is also very difficult to schedule with since he is in such demand. I ended up scheduling my first surgery with Dr. Steve Avilles in Des Moines. Dr. Avilles is also very familiar with FAI surgery, but performs about 25% of the FAI surgeries that Dr. Philippon performs.  There were many advantages however, I would be having surgery less than 2 miles from my house, my sister, Jessica, is a nurse at the hospital where I would have surgery, and my Mom was around to help take care of me. The first surgery went very well and I was on crutches for 2 weeks, I was doing no rehab, just taking it easy. I needed a full rest period in the 4 weeks between surgeries. For my second surgery, I flew out to Vail with my mom and I rented a condo for us to stay in for the week. I had to stay in Vail for the week for the rehab program. The surgery took about twice as long in Vail and I was in traction for nearly 2 hours (I still can’t feel the top of my left foot from the nerve being stretched).  The left hip was also worse than the right and needed more repair. I was in 10x more pain after this surgery than the first. I ended up spending the night in the hospital, but I was also on an exercise bike an hour after surgery in the recovery room, vomiting as I pedaled ever so lightly. Fun times! The next morning I was released from the hospital only to move straight to PT where I had two daily appointments with Lindsay Winninger and Mark Ryan. I started and finished each session with 10-15 min on the exercise bike. I had a very intense physical therapy routine of at least 3 hours daily. I left Vail on crutches but with a wealth of knowledge about how the best athletes in the world have rehabbed from the same surgery. I went back home and trusted my daily physical therapy to a good friend and triathlete, Dave Freeseman of Rock Valley Physical Therapy. I got married 6 weeks after surgery so I wanted to be able to walk without crutches and dance at my wedding. I got my wish and had a beautiful wedding, and great honeymoon in Maui. I did have one minor setback with the rehab while on the honeymoon, but hey you can’t expect a guy to completely abstain from using his hips on his honeymoon.  I came home and rested a week then headed to Tucson for the start of my season. I had to take baby steps, and while I wanted to be more aggressive it was nice to have Coach Cliff English pulling the reins on me. I went through the gradual return to run and competition format and about 12 weeks post surgery I was nearly 100%, and feeling awesome. Still Cliff wanted me to wait another week (coach knows best), and start the season in New Orleans so we could have some extra recovery after some really big training. In the meantime, I was able to squeeze in a bike race at the Tucson Bicycle Classic. I was racing with a CAT 3 license I was given back in 2005 while at the Olympic Training Center. I have only done a handful of bike races and never enough to upgrade from CAT 3. My goal for the TBC was to win the CAT 3 GC category and upgrade to CAT 2 so I could race with my new cycling team, Velosport Iowa, American Equity.

Day 1 of the TBC was Friday evening and it was a short 3 mile TT on the McCain Loop (something I ride weekly). I was confident I could win the TT and put myself in position to win the GC. I was a bit overconfident in my time trialing ability on the day. I didn’t get any rest from my regular training and I went into the race very tired. It showed on my results, I was only able to hold 387 watts for the 8 min effort (something I regularly better in training rides). It was all I had on the day, and it put me in second place only fractions of a second off the lead. This put me in a hole and meant if I wanted to win I was going to have to break away in either the road race of the circuit race. It looked like the circuit race would be my best chance.

Day 2 of the TBC was a 60 mile road race on part of the “shootout” group ride course. I knew the roads well, but the course provided very little room for a breakaway since there was a huge downhill on each of the three 20 mile loops. I still went in to the race with something to prove and vowed to make sure if someone was going to win, they would have to suffer for a while to win. I did just that, and pulled for a solid 20 miles of the 60 mile race and then again the last 10 miles to make sure the finish pace was hot and I wouldn’t have a chance of being gapped at the finish for a time spread. I lead out a guy, Thomas Jones, from New Mexico and he finished 3rd in the sprint, I was 12th but no time gap. Just what I needed. I would enter the final day of racing still in second place less than a second behind the leader.

Day 3 was the circuit race and it was literally in my backyard, only a short 2 mile ride to the start line. Doesn’t get much more convenient than that! The course was a 6 mile loop over rolling hills. I had a plan to attack for a breakaway immediately after the lap 3 sprint prime for a small time bonus. The day consisted of 7 laps on the circuit and a total of 39 miles. If I was going to break away at lap 3, I would need to say away for 24 miles. I was committed and it happened just as I dreamed. Thomas Jones was right there with me on the break and helped give me recovery periods so I could continue to push the pace. We were almost ruined on the breakaway when the Pro /1 field caught us and sat up to ride easy, luckily it didn’t last long and we were able to keep pushing. I made a deal with Thomas that if he went with me on the breakaway, I would give him the stage win. It was a good deal for both of us, I needed someone to share the workload, and he could use a stage win. I would take the GC for the weekend if we stayed away. We did just that, and I stayed true to my word, giving Thomas the stage win while I took second right behind him giving me the GC win for the stage race. I would now have enough points to upgrade to CAT 2 and race with my fellow American Equity/ Velosport teammates over Memorial Day in Iowa. It was a great training weekend for me, and I had no rest from the usual triathlon training and kept up my swim and run training over the weekend. This weekend should prove to be a huge fitness boost. I won $30 in prize money for the weekend, better than a kick in the teeth.


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