Friday, October 12, 2012

Season Reflections

Another season has come to a close. The results on paper show 13 races, 8 overall wins, 3 top 8 finishes at the 70.3 distance and 51st at Worlds 70.3. I won my first 5150, Kansas City, and repeated as the elite winner at TriZou in Columbia. Glancing back at my season goals I see that I did not have a top 3 finish at either Worlds 70.3 or Long Course Nationals. However, I pretty much gave away a second place at Long Course thanks to bad bike tactics and completely blowing up my legs.

Not to dwell on races that are now barely visible in my rear view mirror but I’ll provide a few thoughts on a couple experiences from the past three months; which is coincidently the age of our new baby boy Stephan.

- Training with a newborn –

Being “caged” in a hospital for a couple days straight is not my idea of a good time. Experiencing the birth of a child is truly amazing, something I've been fortunate enough to experience twice now, and I’d spend 100 days there if it were necessary to take home a healthy child. However, once I know everyone is good I’m jingling the car keys. So after only a couple days in the hospital, and another at home, I was feeling the urge to get outside. I figured I better make the most of my leave and dug in with a 75 mile ride with race pace intervals followed by a track workout with some race pace 800s ending in 100 degree heat. I had done the workout on a cumulative few hours of sleep from the past several nights and earned myself a little cold from the taxing workout. After that I did ease into it a little better and tried to find more of a balance.

- Worlds 70.3, Las Vegas –

Worlds in Las Vegas was a great experience that I was fortunate enough to have my friend and coach Joe Company along to run some support making it pretty low stress. It was a good learning experience with a sub-par result which makes me anxious to return.

- Long Course Nationals, OKC –

With Nationals so close to home I was able to pack up the family again and have my support crew in greater numbers. An unusually low water level had us running 200 yards just to get to the boat ramp. I was 7th out of the water and chased fairly aggressively and caught the leaders at about mile 20. I paid for my aggression and rode the back half in survival mode trying to regroup for the run. I ended up 5th but missed an opportunity coming home just 40s out of 2nd place. In hindsight I needed to take that risk on the bike after feeling I had been a little conservative with some others this year. But it ended up being a lesson in what not to do.

I look forward to the rest of my time off as I play with the kids more, get projects done around the house, and try to heal up some injuries and work on some deficiencies that will make me stronger when I resume training.

Thank you to my family and friends for your amazing support once again this year.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Branson Triathlon Training Camp

Endurance coach Joe Company ( has held a training camp in conjunction with the open water Swimming in Moonshine race at Table Rock Lake the last several years. This year the race was cancelled but he decided to hold the camp anyway and so I headed down to Branson with my good friend and fellow triathlete, Bob Sanderson, for the two day event.
It is about a 5 hr drive for us from Newton but the drive isn't bad and the 7 workouts in two days that we did in such a gorgeous location made it well worth it. We based ourselves out of a friendly little hotel called the Branson Motor Court, which is just a few blocks from The Landing.
Saturday Day 1
The first Swim workout was scheduled for 9am for those still driving in on Saturday so Bob and I took the opportunity to get a short morning on the Branson 70.3 run course down by the lake. We then drove out to Table Rock Lake to the Dewey Short Visitors Center where we planned to swim. Although the water was down a little it didn't make a difference for our swim location which was the No Boating bouy line on top of the Dam. 10-12 others joined us and Joe hopped on his stand up paddle board to provide support. The water was warm and quite comfortable. I use a Garmin 910 and it measured right around 600yds across. We had about an hour so I used it all and got in 3 1/2 laps, about 4200yds.
We drove up to the High Road, the signature road of the 70.3 bike course, which is a four lane with full shoulder and pretty much a perfect biking road. It provides multiple challenging hills and we added the off-shoot to the 70.3 race turn around at the high school for our 18 mile training loop. We coupled it with a Brick run from the far South end of the dead end High Road. By basing our brick workout on the high road people were able to do as much or as little as they wanted on both and customize their total workout. I did three laps on the bike with some intervals and added a 6 mile run brick. We headed back to the hotel to relax in the pool and get some good food down at The Landing.
Sunday Day 2
We didn't have a open water swim scheduled for our 7am start so Bob and I took it upon ourselves to arrive out at the Dewey Short Visitors Center to get in a quick 30min swim prior to the bike ride. Our bike loop for the day started out on the 7 mile climb up hwy 265 from the Chateau on the Lake Hotel which is the 70.3 bike start. We then did another loop on the High Road exiting on Hwy 248 and descending to Shepherd of the Hills Parkway where we finally got off the 70.3 route. Then it was a whole lot more descending to the final great climb of the day which is a 19%, 1/2 mile climb back up to Hwy 265. Joe led the way up in just under 2min I believe. This is a climb you must test yourself on if you're in the area.
On our final descent back to the lake we had to make one final turn and ascend the entrance to the Chateau which is a short, really steep climb to the host hotel for the Branson 70.3 race. With Quads now completely shot we finished up our ride back to the Dewey center for our brick run down the lakeshore trail path. This is a beautiful out and back path and everyone was able to do however much they wanted. I tacked on 8 miles to finish off our amazing training weekend and we headed down to cool off in the lake before heading home.
Hope to see you there next year!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kansas City 5150 Amateur Champ

I collected my first Ironman 5150 amateur win on May 20 at The Kansas City Triathlon 5150. This was the first year with the 5150 name attached which did add a little draw because I had otherwise planned to attend Memphis in May again. Although I have not yet decided whether or not to attend the 5150 Championship at HyVee in Des Moines, I wanted to collect my free entry (top 5) and have it in my back pocket.
At less than three hours a way the KC Tri does provide a bit of a home court feel which was reinforced by the big group of family members wearing their "Nickel Racing Support Crew" shirts all over the course.
The amateur elite mens' field consisted of about 20 or so and we went off after the pro waves. I was eighth out of the water in 22.10 and about 2.40 down to the leader. The KC bike course is a two lap fairly hilly course with 3 out and back sections where I could easily check on where the leaders were at. I probably have a tendency to chase too hard so around mile 8 or 9 I moved into the lead and settled into a more controlled pace. I got off the bike with a 58.08 which was the best amateur bike split and a top 5 split overall including pros. The run was uneventful and I cruised around 2 laps for a 35.18 10k with the only hiccup a side stitch for the second lap. My finish time was 1.57.35 and 14th overall with pros. Next weekend I will be at Ironman Kansas 70.3.

Monday, May 7, 2012

TriZou Title Defense

We made our way to Columbia, MO for the 6th year in a row to attend the ever growing TriZou triathlon. This year was extra special as I was the returning champion after my first elite wave victory last year and I had no intentions of giving up my hard earned title. This trip is always a special trip for the whole family because we stay with our good friends Joe and Amy Company and our daughters are now both old enough to interact and play together. So we made a weekend of it and went up Friday already to spend a little more time with them. Joe, who owns Endurance Company (pictured above) and is the home town favorite thanks to his numerous amateur and pro accomplishments, would not be in the elite wave this year due to the number of athletes he now coaches who were racing. This, along with the absence of other recent past champions Andrew Starykowiz and Ben Kanute, meant the field had some new names and was wide open.
The pool swim is a 400m in the University of Missouri's 50m pool which is a great swim venue. The elites each get a lane to swim but then the real action starts once we are out of the way as the remaining 800+ athletes enter one at a time and snake swim from lane to lane in time trial format. It is quite a site to see that many athletes lined up.
As usual there were some very talented young swimmers who bested me out of the pool but I was out in a personal best 5.44 in 4th place. A long transition run at this course took us out to the intramural field during which I picked up one place and moved into third. The bike course at TriZou is a hilly two loop course and is the most technical I have raced. By mile 3 or 4 I had pushed my way to the front and kept hammering. The weather was warm and humid but calm which made for some good cycling conditions. My time was 32.31 which was the fastest of the day by several minutes and a new bike course record beating Starykowicz time from the famous TriZou dual between him and Simon Lessing in 2009.
After negotiating the multiple tight turns back into transition I took off onto the 3 mile run. I hadn't received a time split since I took the lead so early so I kept pushing with the assumption that second was not too far behind. I finished the run with a 15.23 on the newly revamped run course but a few seconds shy of my best effort at this race. My finish time was 56.41 just 21 seconds shy of Starykowicz course record from the 2009 race. It turns out the anxiety of my pursuers was unfounded as second place came in just over 5 minutes later.
I will be making a stop in Kansas City on May 20 for the KC 5150 race before making my way to KS Ironman 70.3 (half ironman) on June 10.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Texas 70.3 Report

I boarded the plane at KC International knowing that the stars were aligning for a smooth trip. For whatever reason I was chosen for an upgrade and moved up to the front row where I now had extra leg room. Perfect! It was only a 2hr flight but it sure was comfortable. My bike arrived unscathed, I found my home-stay with only a minor detour, and built my bike without trouble Friday evening. The calm continued through Saturday with my pre-race the bike course, 30min bike, 20min run on the run course, and check in. I was back to the house with plenty of time to relax and watch the first half of KU vs. Ohio St.
Race day was as expected with temps in the mid 70s, humidity in the 80s, and a slight breeze. I had already been looking forward to my unusually early wave time of 7:20 (20min after pros) since most 70.3 races put my age group towards the end it seems like.
The swim was wetsuit legal and I actually had some unexpected troubles with my goggles filling up with water. This was a little perplexing since I had used them all week to make sure they were still good. Despite it I managed an ok 29:24.
Out of the water and onto the bike we weaved through Moody Gardens and made our way onto the Seawall, which is a giant concrete wall to hold back the gulf waters during storms. Then it was a simple 26 miles out, 26 miles back. On the way out we were into a slight breeze but it wasn't much of anything and the roads were butter for the majority so I just settled in the bars and stayed low. Around mile 22 or so Lance Armstrong and the leaders came flying by the other way which ended up being my only Lance sighting of the day. I hit the turn around and sure enough a little tailwind was going to push me home. I finished out the bike with a solid 2.27 (~23mph) which was a little slower than I usually bike but I had made my bike focus about hydration and being ready to run since it had been quite a few races since I had given myself a good chance to run well off the bike. I put an extra amount of thought into my acclimation for this race as well and will detail some of that in a later post.
It worked and I got off the bike feeling great and started knocking off the miles and cruising past other runners. I held even splits around 6:15-20 pace and kept trying to stick to my plan to negative split the 3 lap course and finish strong. When the third lap finally came around I quit looking at my watch and let my stride open up a little more. I finished the last few miles at a sub 6 pace and had nothing left in the legs. My run time was 1.21.20 or an overall 6.12 pace. Although it was a little bit of a "safe" race it was what I needed for the first 70.3 of the year. My finish put me at 6th in my age group, 8th amateur overall, and 36th overall including pros out of about 2600 finishers. Awards were 5 deep and so I left empty handed.
I finished my day by getting a tour of Galveston, being introduced to the excellent food at "The Spot", and watching "Real Steel" with my host family.
I want to say a huge thank you to my sponsors. They are once again behind me 100% because although it didn't look like this race was going to work they stepped up and helped make it happen. I am humbled to represent such amazing people.
My next race will be Emporia Spring Migration on April 15th.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It Begins

I have updated my tentative race schedule for 2012 which can be accessed on the right toolbar.
I'm taking a giant leap out of my normal routine and starting the year out with a Half Ironman (70.3). Typically, I like to set up my season by building to longer triathlons through sprint and Olympic distance events. However, this year I want to get more Half Irons under my belt and thus am heading for Galveston, Texas to start my year off at Ironman Texas 70.3 on Sunday, April 1st.
Although it has been unseasonably warm in Kansas, Galveston will no doubt have the added challenge of high humidity. I have attempted to acclimate for this but will wait to provide details until the success of the acclimation has been determined.
This will also mark the first time I have flown to a race with my bike and am hoping for a very uneventful trip as far as that is concerned. If you wish to follow along race morning you should be able to find a race tracker on the race website... Bib # 425.
Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Sponsors for 2012

I am so proud to have such extremely loyal companies that I have developed long term relationships with over the past 4-5 years. These include Pinnacle Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics, Bicycle X-Change, and Brooks Running Shoes...all of whom are back with me for the new season. All of my sponsors are companies who I believe in (and in the case of Pinnacle am fortunate to work for), whose products I use and love, and who I encourage you to use as well.
This year I've partnered with two more businesses who's products and services I've been very happy with and encourage you to explore yourself. I have been using Eddie Ulloa, CMT of Eddie U. Massage in Wichita, KS for my massage therapist needs. Eddie was especially helpful this past year with some hamstring injuries I dealt with most of the year, as well as effectively preparing me for my end of year races at HyVee and Austin 70.3. This off-season I've been getting worked on about every two weeks to fend off the over training bug that develops from the long training hours.
Joe Company, founder of Endurance Company, is an amazing coach who has experience as a professional triathlete and a wealth of education and knowledge in the exercise sciences. Joe has built a large base of endurance athletes and has been a tremendous adviser to me. If you have been looking for a tri coach to help reach your potential it would be time well spent to talk with Joe and see how his plans can benefit your needs.
I'm looking forward to getting back to racing. First up will be Texas 70.3 on April 1st. I will post the rest of my schedule shortly.