Friday, December 4, 2009


mo·rale n.
1. The state of the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks.
2. The degree of mental or moral confidence of a person or group; spirit of optimism

Morale is something that can be critical to your success as you train for an event or race. In my years of road bike racing and later mountain bike racing I had good days and I’ve had miserable days where I couldn’t wait for the race to end. During my last serious year of racing in 2005 I remember losing a targeted race for the first time. I was racing at the North Star Ski Resort near Truckee and was beaten in the final miles by a local who I had a comfortable lead on throughout most of the race. That race fueled some of the strongest and most intense training I have ever done. You would think that losing a race I was leading until the end would destroy my morale, but it did just the opposite.

Today I’m 16 weeks out from Ironman California 70.3 and my morale is at a low point. Part of it has to do with the time of year. The days are shorter and the weather is colder and I’ve been eating desserts. I have not been in a pool or ocean in weeks although I have been running and riding. I’m finding training for triathlons is different than training for a bike race. In triathlons you’re racing against a clock more so than an individual. I’m also beginning to understand the mental toughness and discipline it takes to be a triathlete as you will your body to train and improve in three different disciplines.

In the military the slang for morale events is “mandatory fun”. Starting Monday, my goal is to start having “mandatory fun” as I shake this lethargy and begin another week of training.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

This holiday is my favorite as it hasn't become completely adulterated by commercialism. It's so beautiful in it's simplicity of gathering family and friends, eating a wonderful meal and celebrating the blessings of life that God has given us. This morning I was reading Psalm 147. The writer says we should "sing to the Lord with thanksgiving". God has blessed us all and we take so much for granted every day. For me I'm reminded that God has given me exceptional health and physical ability and that I spend very little time thanking him for these gifts. Before I start spending serious culinary time in the kitchen today, I will be doing a "brick" workout of an 18 mile bike and a 3 mile run. You can be certain I will have my Ipod listening to David Crowder and singing to the Lord with thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This race was not originally on my training schedule, however looking at the race distances and where it was being held, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some real race experience and put in to practice things I learned from my first triathlon. Specifically I wanted to improve on my transition times and gain more experience swimming. This was a smaller well organized event. If you must have accurate timing with transition splits, this is not the race for you. All timing is done manually by volunteers. No timing chips are used. Transition one time is rolled in to your swim time and transition two is rolled in to your bike time. The run stands alone.
This race is not a traditional Olympic distance and that is why I decided to do it. The swim is 1K in the Colorado River, a 55K bike course that takes you over the Parker Dam crossing the river twice and an 8K run mostly along the Arizona shore of the river. On paper I figured this distance versus a true Olympic distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run) suited my skills coming from a background of bike racing.
THE SWIM – Swimming in a river is a little different than the lake swim I did at the OC Tri. In a river you have current to contend with. Fortunately the majority of the swim would be down current, however you need to have a plan going in to the water when swimming cross current. At the start I was looking at the buoy and noticing people were lining up on the shore in a way that would take them directly to the buoy. I’ve only done one other Tri but this did not make sense to me so I started to walk up river so the current would carry me to the buoy as I swam across. I noticed others started following me but not everyone. The water temp. was 71 degrees so wetsuits were allowed. The horn sounded and I settled in to my slow but deliberate pace. I made it past the first buoy and started down river with the current without any problems alternating between free style and back stroke. The problem I had was swimming now back to the east shore. The sun was rising and now shining right in to my eyes. I could not site the finish line. I also did not wear my tinted goggles thinking I wouldn’t need them. I ended up going of course because of the current and the sun and had to swim farther than I needed to up current. My goal time was 28 minutes. I finished the swim in 28:22
TRANSITION 1 – After forgetting my timing chip in the last race I new I could improve on my transition time this race. One thing I planned for was getting my compression socks on easier. This time I put them on the night before the race and rolled them down to my toes to make it easier to put them on with wet legs. After taking off my wetsuit I just put my toes in and rolled them up my legs. In this transition I try not to rush and just focus on what I need to do step by step. Things like removing your ear plugs can be overlooked if you’re in a hurry. Transition one time was a respectable 5:46.
THE BIKE – This course I felt was perfect for me. Flat and rolling terrain with some steep but short hills. I know I’m still using too much of my legs in the swim because again my legs felt heavy for the first 6-10 miles. After that I settled in to my groove. I passed a lot of strong swimmers which always makes me feel good and four guys in my age group. The last eight miles I battled back and forth with a woman who was very strong at one point riding side by side (no drafting in tri’s) for a mile. We encouraged each other and I finally dropped her just before the finish. Bike time: 1:44:18. 19.7 MPH Avg.
TRANSITION 2 – Going from the bike to the run is pretty straight forward. I wanted to take my shoes off before the transition leaving my bike shoes in the in the pedals and soft pedaling with my feet on top of the shoes to save some time but got caught up in the moment of racing my bike downhill in to the transition area. Transition 2 time: 2:21
THE RUN – I actually look forward to the run after the bike. I’m not a great runner…far from it, but I’m learning to appreciate running and the simplicity of it. I’ve also been running well in training despite my two a week run program. I also find motivation in knowing this is the last task to accomplish and I can do this. I put my running shoes and hat on and jogged thru the transition area. I was not prepared for what I saw as I left transition…we had to run up a hill on a dirt road for what looked like over a mile. I was planning on a flat run course along the river. What I got was two miles of up hill to start the run followed by a downhill and two and a half miles of flat course. My legs felt like lead going uphill after the bike. Did I mention I did no brick (bike/run) workouts before this event? This was the first time in training or racing that I was almost overcome with the desire to walk. The race organizers said there is water every 1.5 miles. I kept telling my self run to the water station and walk while taking on water. I made it to the aid station which also was the point where the course flattened out. This was without a doubt the hardest run I’ve ever done. Not so much because of the course, I think it was because I gave so much on the bike and did not do a brick workout since my last race six weeks ago. One thing I’ve learned with two races under my belt know, is that on the run your legs start coming back after three to four miles. I’m not sure if this is experienced by everyone but what seems to happen for me is my legs start adjusting the muscles from cycling to running and it seems perceptibly easier. I even start running a faster pace. Three competitors who passed me early in the run I eventually passed within the last two miles. Run time: 47:39, 9:31 mile pace.
TOTAL TIME 3:08:26

Swim: 7:22
Bike: 926.9 Miles
Run: 93.2 Miles

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today, I'm headed to Parker Arizona to compete in the Bluewater Resort and Casino 10th Annual Triathlon.
This race will be on familiar roads for me as the bike portion of the course travels on roads I've raced before as a bike racer. I hope to have a race report up on Monday. My goal for this race is under 3 hours and if I can finish under 2:55 that would be great!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is an Ironman?

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races consisting of a 2.4 miles (3.86 km) swim, a 112 miles (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26 miles 385 yards, 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.
I’ve been surprised that whenever I mention an Ironman competition many people have no idea what it is and what it consists of. I guess because it’s been my dream to compete in an Ironman since the race first moved to Kona on the big island of Hawaii in 1982. That year (four years after the very first Ironman competition) the world saw images of Julie Moss collapsing just short of victory. While eventual winner Kathleen McCartney passed her to win, Julie valiantly stood, stumbled, fell and finally crawled the final yards to cross the finish line sending a powerful image of will and determination to finish this difficult event.
With this image etched on my mind I've been asking myself for years, can I finish an Ironman?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

RACE REPORT - OC Triathlon 2009 (Olympic Distance)

My first Olympic distance triathlon. It's also my first anniversary! Thank you God for an amazing wife who is a gifted athlete that I can share these experiences with! For those who don't know Olympic distance is 1.5K swim, 40K bike and a 10K run. My initial goal time for this race was 2:45:00. Once my wife Liz and I pre-ran the run course I dismissed that idea. The run course was extremely hilly (by my standards) and we had to run up Vista Del Lago. If your a cyclist in Orange County you know it as a short but very steep hill with a gradient topping out at 18%. My real goal for this race was to start my education of what triathlon racing is all about and this distance is perfect. This race would be ground breaking for what works what doesn't as far as eating, equipment, how I set up my transition etc. A goal time is nice but for my first race it's more about pacing myself and learning. I have to say my training (numbers below) coming in to this event was not that great as I was out of town for 10 days before the race.
Liz and I arrived at the transition area at 6AM and started our set up. How do I lay this stuff out? I looked around at what others were doing and sort of copied them if it made sense. As we headed down to the start area we found out that Lake Mission Viejo where we would be swimming was 79 degrees. Great! I hate cold water! Then the bad news, if you wear a wetsuit you will be timed but not get an official placing. What?? Now I was worried. I've been banking on the buoyancy of my wetsuit to get through the swim! I have to wear a wetsuit if I want to survive almost a mile swim without drowning! Was I going to be the only "dork" wearing a a wetsuit? I had this image of going to the start line in my wetsuit and all of the 45 year old men in my wave would start laughing and pointing at me like a bunch of Jr. High bullies. Oh well I'll have to take the humiliation, I'm not racing without a wetsuit! The horn sounded and my wave was off with 123 men taking to the water, 18 of us in wetsuits. I'm just learning to swim, yes I've been a certified SCUBA diver since the age of 14 but that's not swimming. My goal time for the swim was 40 minutes. Many of you are probably laughing at that goal but for me swimming is just tough and I have yet to build endurance or technique in the swim. After about 500 meters I was starting to flounder and lose my stroke as a result of going to hard at the start. Self doubt started creeping in as I looked at the distance I covered and the distance I still had to swim and it looked so daunting. I have to admit to you something said to me "you can never do an Ironman!" I pushed that thought out of my mind, gathered myself and settled in to an easy pace. The lake was now becoming littered with people trying to hang on. I learned a lesson on sighting after the turn around following a guy who took a bad line. I figured everyone here has more experience than me so follow any body...WRONG! I got out of the water in 36:52 I would have guessed it was an hour thirty six. As I got out of the water I couldn't wait to get on the bike, when I realized my legs felt like two cement pillars. I started to run to the transition but had to stop and walk for a moment. I had two problems in the first transition. First trying to get my wetsuit off with my timing chip on my ankle. I got it, I'll just take it off and put it back on...good idea! The next problem, I wanted to use compression socks on the bike and run. Try putting on knee high compression socks when your legs are still wet. It's nearly impossible and I was wasting so much time in the transition. I finally got them on, mounted my bike and was on my way timing chip. If you ever want to see course marshalls go crazy, ride your bike backwards on a tri course and in to the transition. I left my bike at the mounting point and ran back to my transition area to get my chip. Transition One time: 9:28. Now came the 40K bike through my familiar training grounds of Santiago Canyon. It took me 10K before my legs started feeling like they should. I was passing a lot of people, of course they all swim way faster than me! I kept a close eye on my heart rate and held back slightly for a 1:13:30. I arrived at transition two which was at a different location than T1 and could not find my running shoes among all of the bikes. Transition two 3:12. I started the run and was feeling good. All of the hills are between miles 3 and 5. I looked at my watch and I was running roughly an 8:30 pace for the first two miles. Then came the hills and I was just trying to get to the last mile which I knew was flat. The last three miles I was racing back and forth with a guy from my age group which helped motivate me. I drafted him the final mile. When he started his kick and I stayed with him and as we approached the line I sprinted past him to take...40th place! Sometimes you cant keep down the competitive spirit even if its for 40th place. Run time 1:00:32 Total time 3:03:34
Looking back I see the many mistakes I made and hopefully know how to prevent them next race. I also realize now how much work I have to do on my swimming. Over all the race was a success and the desire to become an Ironman still burns inside of me.
Here are my training numbers for twelve weeks before this race.
Swim: 7:10
Bike: 966 miles
Run: 103 miles

Monday: Swim 30 Minutes
Tuesday: Bike 1 Hour Hills
Wednesday: Run 30 Minutes
Thursday: Bike 1 Hour Hills
Friday: Swim 30 Minutes
Saturday: Bike 3 Hours (2 Hrs Race Pace)
Sunday: Run 50 Minutes

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Blog... Really??

As I post my first message on this blog it's important for me to express why I started this blog. I have concerns over the narcissism in our society and how the amazing worlds of Myspace, Facebook,Twitter are impacting God's design for us to be transparent, relational people. Although there is so much much to be gained I often wonder at what cost.

So back to my reason for starting this blog... I'm hoping that others who have a dream to push the limits and boundaries of their lives and bodies will find these postings helpful as I take a journey over the next 16 months to prepare for Ironman Arizona 2010.