Video: Ironman Coeur d’Alene

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2012 Ironman Coeur d’Alene

View from our hotel – thanks for finding it Chris!

There were 50 qualifying spots for the Ironman World Championships up for grabs this past weekend at Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I was on the hunt for one of them…here’s how the day unfolded.

Swim Start

The swim was bloody cold. I couldn’t feel my feet for the entire bike as a result. If I could go back and change one thing it would be to wear my neoprene cap for the swim (and toe covers for the ride). The start was rough with over 2000 swimmers trying to make their way to the first buoy, but I found it more civilized than I was prepared for.  There was a lot of contact with other swimmers, but no punches or calf grabs and I was only hit in the face twice (one from a whip kick and one from an errant elbow). My first loop felt pretty strong which is reflected in the result (33:xx – a really great time for me), the second loop I slowed down substantially (39:xx).  This is in part due to fatigue and in part due to the sudden wind which brought in larger waves during the second loop.

My 1:12 swim was well within the 1:15 target that I had set, but above my ideal time of 1:10. It was a few minutes faster than my time at last year’s Ironman Canada.  It’s crazy to realize that 8 months of hard work in the pool boiled down to 3 minutes of time savings:).

This is how well the bike went!

I had a quick transition with no errors and got out on the bike without incident. I decided to wear my vest which proved to be a smart idea with colder than expected conditions for the first third of the ride.

My plan for the ride was simple:

  1. Don’t eat or drink anything for 15 minutes
  2. Eat a Roctane GU every 15 minutes thereafter
  3. Drink 500ml of water every 30 minutes
  4. Take 2 electrolyte pills every 45 minutes
  5. Ride at a heart rate between 145-155

So what happened? I executed flawlessly on #1 through #4 and started off perfectly with #5 until my heart rate monitor died at 30km. For the rest of the ride I rode by feel and was VERY happy with the results.  I feel like I nailed the bike and left no time out there. I rode a 5:19 which was 16 minutes faster than IMC last year. I originally thought that the Coeur d’Alene bike course was substantially faster than Canada, but most of my friends agreed that this wasn’t the case with the strong winds on race day. Either way, I’m very happy with my improvements, especially with my execution of my nutrition and race plan.

Coming into transition I felt fully prepared to have a strong run. I couldn’t believe how fresh I felt and knew I was in the exact position I wanted to be in. Realistically, up until this point, I think I left nothing out there and felt prepared to have a great run.

My plan for the run was:

  1. Eat a Roctane GU every 20 minutes with water from my fuel belt
  2. Drink water at every aid station
  3. Take 2 electrolyte pills every 30 minutes
  4. Run at a heart rate of 150-160

Again, I executed the plan perfectly except that I was running by feel instead of heart rate. This is where the wheels started to come off. Even though I’d taken in all of my race day nutrition my right hamstring was on the verge of cramping up. I altered my stride to keep my heel down which was preventing a full lock up, but I found I couldn’t maintain the pace I needed to run. It’s a huge learning experience to have everything else ready to go (lots of energy, a topped up fuel tank, an attitude ready to push on) but having something so specific go wrong.

I learned that I need substantially more electrolyte. Thankfully Stephen has set me up for a sweat test with Precision Hydration to get some solid data on my electrolyte needs.

I ran a 3:27 marathon to finish the race in 10:04, 56th overall and 7th in my age group. My goal coming into the race was to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. To qualify, I would have had to finish in 3rd place which was 15 minutes faster (9:50). I feel really good about my result and know I’ve made some huge improvements in 8 months knocking over 40 minutes off my time and feeling a lot stronger and confident during the race. My goal still stands and I’m committed to getting to Kona…it’s just going to take at least one more Ironman to do it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the amazing people who helped me get to the start line:

  • Special thanks to TrainingPeaks for supplying the awesome race kit and for their awesome training software. If you’re struggling with setting out a training plan or tracking your progress on the way to a big goal I’d highly recommend you check out their product.
  • Coach Bjoern for supplying the plan and the regular feedback. I trained way harder for this Ironman than IMC last year (without a coach), but never felt burnt out which I attribute to Bjoern’s program which evolved and was unique to me. Thank you for understanding what I needed to hear and telling me what I needed to know.
  • Training Partners. Richele, Stephanie, Rich, Shane, Lane #4 and the whole Lifesport team. Good training partners are hard to find. Great training partners are worth their weight in gold. I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such gifted, generous and hard working athletes. The journey wouldn’t be the same without you.
  • Allison. I’m frankly not sure how you deal with not just my goals, but with me in general. You’re amazing and make training for Ironman not only possible, but enjoyable. Thank you for being my biggest fan and supporting me in my crazy dreams.

I put together a quick video of our trip, I hope you enjoy it (click the photo to view).

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Shawnigan Lake Race Report

I was sick leading up to the Shawnigan Lake Half Iron, but after discussing with Coach Bjoern we decided to keep it in the schedule as a training race. He kept the volume up the week leading into the race without any taper. My goals for the day were:

  1. Feel like I had a solid swim, no time goal
  2. Hold back on the bike. Keep the heart rate in z3 vs. the z4 that I often find myself in during a half iron, no time goal
  3. Have a good strong run, no time goal

The day before the race I did a loop of the bike course and I couldn’t get over the conditions of the roads. I kept thinking to myself: “these roads are worse than Saint Croix” (that is saying a lot!). It even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t race because of the conditions. In hindsight, I think I was being a little tough on the roads, during the race they didn’t seem all that bad.

The swim was a mass start from thigh deep water. Conditions were cold, but definitely warmer than they have been in the past, according to friends. My swim went really well and I felt efficient and smooth. I came out of the water with a smile.

My transition to the bike didn’t go so well. I had a tough time getting out of my wetsuit, I could definitely knock a minute off this with some practice.

Out on the bike I really enjoyed the course and quickly set into a rhythm and a consistent pace. I executed my nutrition strategy flawlessly, taking in the planned water, electrolyte and calories on set intervals. This was a monumental improvement over past races. The key difference for me was sticking with a simple strategy. Water (no sports drink), easily accessible electrolyte (taped to bars) and easily accessible gels (taped to top tube). I owe my nutrition approach to Richele…thanks for the advice!

Halfway through the first lap I came inches away from hitting a deer. She crossed right in front of me and we locked eyes until I came to a stop. It was pretty cool, but scary at the same time. In a collision she would have come away the winner!

I kept a consistent effort on the bike with my four laps being only seconds apart.

Onto the run my legs felt tight for the first 2km, but relaxed nicely for the rest of the run. I didn’t feel like I had my top end heart rate zone on the run, probably due to the sickness and lack of a taper.

It was amazing to have so many teammates and friends doing the race, the run has you doing 2 out and backs so it gives you plenty of opportunity to cheer each other on.

I ended up having the 5th fastest run split of the day and felt really strong crossing the finish line at 4:33, almost 30 minutes faster than my previous personal best at the Half Iron distance. The other cool thing was my complete lack of stiffness and tiredness after the race. I went right back to training on Monday.

My teammates had incredible performances with many winning their age group. Special mention to Lawrence who put together an incredible race to finish in 4:20…I’ve got to spend more time biking with this guy, he’s a machine!

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend with great food, great friends and a well coordinated race.

Congratulations to race winners Adam O’Meara and Rachel Kiers!

And thank you TrainingPeaks for the awesome race kit!

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Saint Croix 70.3 Race Report

Better late than never!

I signed up or the Saint Croix Half Ironman at the last minute 10 days before the race in early May…here’s what happened:

Getting there took 2 connections from Vancouver. First Chicago, then Miami to finally arriving in Saint Croix late Friday night (I was on the same flight as the eventual race winner Andy Potts…for you non-triathloners he’s kind of a big deal:)).

I was pretty exhausted from the full day of travel, but found myself putting my bike together to make sure there was no damage.  Thankfully there was none courtesy of Nathan Killam‘s awesome Aerus bike bag that he loaned me (thanks again Nathan!!!).

The reason I chose St. Croix was:

  1. I found myself with time off between jobs
  2. Teammates were already going, so it made logistics a snap
  3. It’s in the Caribbean…duh!!

Saturday we spent the day picking up our race packages, driving the course, and going for a short run and swim. I quickly learned that training in Vancouver is not the best way to acclimate to the humidity and heat of the Caribbean. No worries though, I was here to have fun!

One thing I should confess… I’d be lying if I didn’t reveal that I was dreaming of coming away with one of the 30 Ironman World Championship qualifying spots that they had up for grabs. I’d researched the past qualifying times for my age group and figured I had to complete the race in under 4:35 to have a shot at qualifying. I ran all the possible time combinations in my head and believed that it was possible…albeit extremely challenging!

We were staying at arguably the best place on the island, Pyramid Point, which is a vacation rental by owner (VRBO) that Richele found (thanks Richele!). We had our own private beach, an incredible view, and I could hear the ocean crashing into the shore all night…it was awesome!

Lance on the bike

The Race

I got into transition with lots of time to spare, got body marked, went to the washroom, setup my transition area, went to the washroom again, and hung out until it was 6am. I made the short 200m swim over to the start which is on a small island. I had my first Lance Armstrong sighting when I noticed him in line behind me…yep, he had to line up as well.

It was a wave start with the pro men off at 6:30, the pro women at 6:32, and my wave off at 6:35. My plan for the swim was to swim hard for the first 200 meters then find some feet and stay on them for the rest of the swim. This was a different approach then I’d tried in the past, but after discussing with Coach Bjoern it made sense to conserve energy behind someone that was basically swimming the same speed as me. I came out of the water feeling fresh and knowing that I could have worked a lot harder, but felt good about executing on the plan. I knew my swim wasn’t very speedy based on the many different colored swim caps that had passed me (each age group has a different colour). I didn’t know the full extent of it until the end of the race when I learned it wasn’t just rough, it was a disappointing 41:xx. I’ve been working hard on my swimming this year and so I don’t feel very good about what seems to be a complete lack of improvement.

Lesson: Coach Bjoern and I agree that I’ll need to be swimming 4-5 times per week until Coeur d’Alene.

I made two errors in transition which cost me a few seconds including dropping my goggles and initially forgetting my sunglasses. I’ll need to practice my transitions a bit to avoid this in the future.

Getting onto the bike, I was excited to ride the course which is known as one of the toughest half iron bike courses on the circuit. With the conditions being what they were I felt like I had an advantage. It was a torrential rain storm with often blinding pounding rain and foot deep flash floods across the course in places. I don’t have a problem with riding in the rain…in fact, this was warm rain so very unlike the cold rain I’ve been training in all year in Vancouver. I found myself steadily passing riders and felt very comfortable in the conditions.

I maintained a steady effort throughout the course and spent 95% in aero and came in with a 2:40 bike split. It was 10 minutes slower than my goal but there’s nothing I would have changed to go faster.

One thing that I would definitely change is my complete lack of adherence to my nutrition plan. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson from IMC!

What did I do?

I didn’t drink water on the bike and didn’t take my salt pills. During the race I found it so easy to keep my head down working that I didn’t think about the longer term impact of my decision not to take in what I would need to sustain myself on the run – water and electrolyte.

The run started off well enough, I was feeling tight and tired, but that is to be expected. I ramped up my pace to my planned 4:15 /km for the first few, but quickly realized that this was not sustainable and dialed it back to 4:30/km. This worked until the last 5 kilometers when the leg cramps brought me to painful halt. I took in water at every aid station and focused on getting to the finish line. I got it done, but it sure didn’t feel so good! My overall time was 5:03, definitely not speedy but as fast as I had on the day.

Photo evidence of incredibly painful cramping!

A few things:

  1. Andy Potts is a great ambassador for our sport. I saw him talking with some of the incredible volunteers and asked if we could get a photo with him, he was incredible gracious and friendly.
  2. Lance Armstrong, not so much. He didn’t show up for the awards ceremony (he placed third). Yes he attracts a lot of media attention and money to the sport, but my perception is that he demonstrated poor sportsmanship by failing to show up….just my opinion.
  3. Drafting. I spoke with the race director, Tom Guthrie about the blatant drafting that I witnessed during the race with the course officials doing absolutely nothing. He listened and responded that this was only the second time in 20 years that he’d received this feedback. I told him about the multiple race reports that I’d read before the race describing Saint Croix as a race where this is not enforced and he just smiled and nodded. Every athlete needs to decide how they choose to race, whether that is by the rules or at any cost. My two cents, either enforce the rules or make it a draft legal event.

Lessons learned

  1. Follow the race nutrition plan
  2. Follow the race nutrition plan
  3. FOLLOW THE RACE NUTRITION PLAN!
  4. IVs are incredible
  5. IVs are ridiculously incredible

I  would definitely go back to St. Croix. The volunteers were incredible and the entire community gets up to support the race…very cool!

One thing: West Jet – hook us up with a direct flight from Vancouver!!

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Guest Post: Blowing Up Boston

The following is a guest post by one of my run club buddies, Dan Scarrow. He apologizes for the long blog post, but he had 10+ hours of flying time to kill and he’s only ever going to write one, so he figured he’d get it all in.

For many people, the Boston Marathon represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedicated training.

I’m no different.

My Boston Qualifier (BQ) journey began 6 years ago when my friend Ben Maas (Marathon PR 2:44) dragged me to my first Alma Running Room clinic. He was concerned about me, because after a successful rowing career through university, I had let myself go. I went from a racing weight of 160lbs up to nearly 200lbs, through the dangerous combination of a sedentary lifestyle and an almost solely pizza diet.

My first few months of running were humbling experiences as I saw 60 year old grandmothers consistently roar by me along our traditional summer beach route. But they also inspired me to improve my fitness and start to treat my body with respect. I combined daily running with extreme dieting – my daily diet consisted of a protein shake for breakfast, a footlong Subway sandwich for lunch, and another protein shake for dinner – and began to shed the weight and increase the speed.

That said, for me, as I’m sure it is for most people, the dieting and regimented exercise took a psychological toll. Exercise is hard enough when you’re fit and motivated. I was overweight, out of shape, and in a mild state of consistent starvation. I was seeing small, incremental improvements, but dieting as a sole motivator is pretty depressing. I needed something else I could focus on to get me through the tough days. On a whim, I decided to sign up for the London Marathon.

Ben and his mom had already signed up, and I had never been to Europe before, so it seemed like a great opportunity. There was still 6 months to go before it started, so the goal seemed both ambitious and attainable: two key components to any successful goal. And it worked. My whole mindset changed from simply trying to shed weight and get fit to actually completing a marathon. My attitude improved, my weight started to drop more quickly, and my times got faster. In the 6 months leading up to London, my half marathon time dropped from 1:49 to 1:27.

With that 1:27 half marathon in my back pocket, I reconfigured my marathon goal from simply finishing to Qualifying for Boston (BQing). It was an ambitious goal in the best of conditions, and unfortunately, the Marathon Gods conspired against me, dropping a heat wave on England the day of the race and making it a miserable 3:31 slog through the streets of London.

It was a humbling experience and I became wretchedly sick for the next 2 weeks, or the remainder of my trip through Europe. I had done a marathon, something that was almost incomprehensible only 6 months prior, and I was proud, but it was also so painful that I couldn’t possibly think of doing another one.

But then again, I hadn’t qualified for Boston. So I kept training.

It’s said that you have to forget about the pain of your last marathon before you’ll do another one. That’s been completely true for me. I’ve now done 4 marathons in 6 years and the pattern is always the same:

  1. I finish my marathon
  2. Vow to never do one again
  3. Spend a year maintaining my fitness but not really pushing myself
  4. Forget about how much it hurts
  5. Impulsively sign up for another marathon
  6. Train like a banshee for 6 months
  7. Race and relearn why I vowed never to do one again

In the 6 years since I started running, I’d run 3 marathons and over 20 half marathons. I’d qualified for Boston twice, broken 3 hours (2:57 PR), and even won the prestigious Rubber Ducky Half Marathon. The one thing that I hadn’t done was run in Boston.

My goals, as usual, were ambitious but attainable. I had forgotten about how much marathons hurt so I wanted to run sub-2:55 to get the guaranteed entry for the New York City Marathon in the fall where I planned to just jog the race with a camera to record the sights and sounds of a big marathon. Also providing motivation for me was my new running partner, James Weber, who I had recruited to replace Ben after he had moved to NYC. I convinced James to run the Vancouver marathon, his first, and we put a wager on who would be faster. I have the experience, but James has the fitness. Just a month prior to Boston, James toyed with me during a half marathon, beating me by 14s (1:22:41 to 1:22:55), but doing so effortlessly.

I had two concerns going into Boston that I thought could make my goals unattainable: (1) weather and (2) GI issues. Unfortunately, I was right to be concerned.

When I got to Boston, the talk of the town was the potential for a record-breaking heat-wave to hit the city on Marathon Monday. On the Friday, it was still a 50/50 chance, but by Saturday, it was near 100% chance of what was forecast to be a high of 90 degrees (33C) with no cloud cover and a slight tailwind, just enough to ensure that runners would effectively feel no breeze. I made the decision that it wouldn’t be feasible to meet my A goal of running sub-2:55, so I instead focused just on my B goal of finishing. It was a very wise decision.

That decision allowed me to thoroughly enjoy the weekend. I spent a lot of guilt-free time on my feet, exploring the city, wandering around the expo, going to a Red Sox game, and watching my friend race Dartmouth at the Harvard-Dartmouth rowing duel regatta. After all, I just needed to finish.

Easy, right?

Wrong.

I clearly had forgotten about how much a marathon hurts. 42km is a really long run, even if you’re just jogging.

Marathon Monday was as hot as advertised. I got up at 6am after only 2.5 hours of sleep due to a combination of jet lag and Canucks disappointment. I heeded the advice of my friend Francie Rudolph who implored me to ‘use the bathroom before getting on that damn bus,’ and made my way to Copley Square to get shuttled to the start line in Hopkinton.

The event itself was extremely well organized. My first marathon was London, England, and my impression is that the systems they have in place in Boston are superior. I waited in line in Copley for only 20 minutes before boarding the bus for the hour+ ride to the start and had just enough time in the Athletes Village to use the facilities, take some pictures, apply some sunscreen and body glide, check my bag, and make my way to the start.

The race itself went according to plan, except in slow motion. I had already adjusted my goal down to simply finishing, but in my head, I still wanted to run a respectable time. I figured I’d go out at a 3:10 pace and see what would happen. The heat really was unbearable for me though, and even 1 mile in, I knew that 3:10 would be unattainable. I managed to go through the 10km at 44 minutes and the Half at 1:40, but by then, I knew that just finishing would be a challenge. I ended up stumbling my way through a 2 hour miserable second half to finish in 3:40, a full 45 minutes off my original goal.

But it didn’t matter. I was done. I’m pretty sure it was the most painful thing I’ve ever done, although, since I have forgotten about how painful my previous ones were, I suppose I can’t say for certain. I had seriously thought about stopping multiple times throughout the race. I had odd chills, light-headedness, and heart palpitations that scared me a little bit. It was not safe, but I had already bought the Boston Marathon jacket, so I had to finish if I wanted to wear it. I ended up only using one of the 4 gels that I brought and really didn’t need the energy from them. Beating the heat was all I cared about and the salt tablets that I brought certainly helped. I didn’t cramp at all through the race as I shuffled by other fast runners whose bodies had succumbed to the heat.

At the finish line, I vowed never to run another marathon ever again. The over/under is a year before I forget about the pain and sign up for my next race.

I took photos and video of a lot of the race, stopping here and there to set up good shots. You can see my race here:

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Patagonian Adventure Race

I have another goal! Complete the Patagonian Adventure Race at some point in my life. Who wants to do it with me?

Watch this video for a realistic preview of the adventure!

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April Fools Half Marathon

I ran a half marathon last weekend on the Sunshine Coast. I hadn’t ran the race before, but it will be on my race calendar next year.

Maybe it’s in my head, but I get the feeling every time I get off the ferry to the Sunshine Coast that everything slows down. The cars drive slower, the days last longer and most importantly, my mind stops racing. After less than 48 hours I felt like I’d had a week of R&R.

We stayed at an absolutely amazing place, and normally I would tell you about it, but I want to keep it all for myself…it’s that good. In fact, we already booked it for next year’s race!

Richele and I road over and met Allison for lunch at The Gumboot Restaurant in Roberts Creek. It was delicious and I highly recommend a visit. The restaurant staff moved slow but efficiently and had a permanent smile on their faces. You can’t beat the service you get from happy people. The food was fresh, plentiful and exactly what I needed after the hilly morning ride.

We had a relaxing hot tub once we got to our place…I was in heaven. I love hot tubs! My parents got a hot tub halfway through high school and I have some great memories…thanks Mom & Dad!

Some friends came over for a relaxing dinner filled with talk of running and triathlon (did you expect anything else?) and everyone was gone before 9pm to get a good night of rest in before the race. I didn’t even have to kick them out:).

My goals going into the race were ambitious, but based on a realistic assessment of what I thought possible after my recent 5k. My “A” goal was a sub 1:20, “B” goal sub 1:22 and “C” goal finish. My B goal would give me a personal best. My A goal seemed fast to me, but I committed to it and started telling people about it…this helps build commitment!

As the whistle went off and 400 competitors started the sun came out between the clouds and it started to turn into a beautiful day. Finally, the Sunshine Coast was living up to its name!

After a short uphill, it was was a quick downhill in the beginning and I clocked through the first 3km with a 3:35/avg. My goal pace for the race was a 3:45/avg, but I knew I needed some time in the bank because of the hills later on.

I came through 10km at 37:20 for a PB and well on pace. There were 4 runners ahead and I committed to passing them before the hills began at 14km.  I passed them at 13km and committed to not letting them pass me. This may sound competitive (and I am!) but I do it during races as a form of mental commitment to push to my max.

I saw one more guy in front of me that I thought I could pass before the finish. I worked hard up the hills from 14-17 kms and caught him at the crest of the hill. We ran together for 100m before I upped the cadence going down and again committed to not letting him pass me. His footsteps were close behind so I kept the intensity high all the way down the hill and trashed my legs. I was prepared to bring out some of the Andrew animality that I’ve seen him pull out at the end of races that impresses me, but thankfully didn’t need to.

As I made the final turn I saw the clock hit 1:20 and I knew I’d missed my A goal…but I was still very happy with my performance…a 2 min PB!

Stats: 1:20:09, 11th overall, 5th age group.

Thanks everyone for a memory filled weekend!

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Decisions & Consequences

I just found out that Steve Romeo died in an avalanche a couple of weeks ago.

I started reading his very popular TetonAT blog a few years ago after climbing Mount Baker and catching the bug of backcountry skiing.

I never met him, but I feel like I understand him after reading his almost daily posts for 3 years.

He was passionate about skiing, exploring and living life to the fullest.

Reading about his tragic death made me think about my backcountry ski trip last month to Trophy Hut in Wells Grey Provincial Park during terrible avalanche conditions. We had 80 cm of snow over 48 hours and we were told that it needed time to stabilize. We had an amazing time and had no issues; however, in retrospect, I think I made some poor decisions and skied terrain that should have been left for another day. It would be easy to blame other people around me making the decision to ski the terrain, but group think kills in the mountains.  Some people on the trip made safer decisions and still had an incredibly fun trip. Taking risks and having nothing go wrong doesn’t take away the fact that you still may have made the wrong decision – in fact, it makes it worse.  It causes you to continue to take similar risks while expecting the same result.  This will inevitably lead to a problem in the future.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have some rather challenging goals in mind for my future.  I know they are more risky than sitting on the couch and watching TV, or are they?

A few stats:

I’m not pointing this out to remove the very real risks of cycling, backcountry skiing or any number of my current or future pursuits. What I am doing is noting that far more people die each year of things other than “risky” sports. What’s the opportunity cost of not participating? Is it a premature death brought on by a sedentary lifestyle?

Everyone needs to make decisions as to what level of risk they are willing to take and everyone’s level is different.

I remember reading Ed Viesturs fantastic book a couple of years ago and he described times where he turned around when other people in his group pushed on.  He was comfortable making his own decision based on his assessment of the risk.

I am a beginner in the mountains.  I have a lot to learn and I don’t currently have the experience nor the ability to make proper decisions in the mountains. Stating this out loud feels good. I recognize that I need to put a plan in place to close this gap and improve my knowledge and my decision-making. Thoughts? Recommendations? I’m all ears!

Steve – thank you for sharing your adventures with the world.

Other links:

http://www.tetonat.com/2012/03/30/steves-obituary/

http://www.wildsnow.com/6903/rip-steve-romeo-chris-onufer/

http://www.wildsnow.com/6913/chris-onufer-steve-romeo-memorial/

http://espn.go.com/action/freeskiing/story/_/id/7662874/two-die-backcountry-avalanche-grand-teton-national-park

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Mental Momentum – St Patty 5K

I’m 97 days away from Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I’ve just wrapped up my two most intense weeks of training. Ever.

I really thought I worked hard for Ironman Canada last year but this is a whole new level of effort, focus and discipline.

Something I realized after IMC is that in addition to working harder, I also needed to work smarter.  Some things I’m doing differently this time around:

  • I’m using a coach
  • I have a formal training plan easily accessible anywhere I am through trainingpeaks
  • I’m surrounded by an experienced team always willing to give useful advice

Everything seems to be moving in the right direction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had my ups and downs but, I seem to have found my rhythm and have started to see some real improvements. The first of which occurred on Saturday when I ran my first ever 5k in Stanley Park – the Saint Patrick’s 5k.

I’d heard great things about the race (and the post party), but wasn’t sure if it fit in with my high volume of training.  My coach, Bjoern, said go for it: “racing makes you stronger!” He also had a simple race strategy for me, find Andrew and follow him.  This seemed like a plan I could work with.

When I asked others about how to race a 5k, they all agreed on the following:

  • Go as fast as you can, for as long as you can
  • It’s going to hurt
  • It’s going to hurt a lot

Interesting.  All of my other races had some sort of pacing strategy built-in. Not so with a 5k.

The race

A relatively new thing for me is warming up before a race. I spent a full 30 minutes running and doing drills to get ready for what I hoped would be an 18:XX run. Yes, my warmup was longer than the actually race would be. I found this odd before as well, but I’ve got to say that the warm up worked and I started out feeling fresh, light and ready to push the pace right away.

The start was a bit of a gong show and I immediately lost sight of my pace bunny (Andrew).  I came through the first kilometer at 3:16. “Okay” I thought, “that was fast, keep it up as long as you can.”

Second kilometer ticked by at 3:23. I’m on the right track.  I expect to slow down from here, but almost halfway there.

Third kilometer 3:32…and guess who I can see?

At the fourth kilometer (3:30) I’m 10 meters behind Andrew as we start a steady climb towards the finish.  I keep gaining on him until I’m 2 meters behind.

One thing you need to know about Andrew is that he has an incredible finishing kick.  If you’re within striking distance of him at the finish, my money’s on him.  At 200 meters to go he starts to kick.  I feel like I’m kicking, but he’s pulling away.

I finish the last kilometer (3:35) and the race in 17:25.  I’ve just run a full minute faster than I thought possible. It’s a good day!

Bjoern – great race strategy!

Andrew – thanks for setting an awesome pace!

Conclusion

It’s easy to get down on your training when you’re exhausted all the time and feel like you don’t have any speed. However, when you’re exhausted and you have a breakthrough race, that’s a recipe for success. What would have been possible with a taper?

A little bit of mental momentum goes a long way.  I’m glad to report that I’m rolling in the right direction.

Posted in Racing, Running | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Video: Trophy Hut

I’m still working on embedding video into my site, so you’re going to have to click on the link. I’m just going to let the video tell the story…it was blower!!!

http://vimeo.com/38344963

Image: Grant Baldwin

Posted in Ridiculously fun | Tagged , , | 4 Comments