Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ironman Hawaii - in hind site

This is a pic of a list I made in the mid 90's of stuff I wanted to do before I die. A life list. part 2 is of IM Hawaii is now checked off.

"just have fun, its your first time in Hawaii, don't expect much..."
you hear this a lot. and still, after having an inadequate race in my mind I call a huge bull shit!
IM Hawaii is 140.6 miles. the same as all the other full distance triathlons. Evey race has its own unique aspects that make the race challenging in different ways. That race is very hilly, it's always windy there. The salt water help you float better, but the water is rougher but no wet suit also... hmmm....

here's the deal. Hawaii is hot, humid and windy. done.
The bike course, despite the wind, is faster than most other races. IMC, lake placid, st. George, IMLO. and teh run a very flat. the hill going up palani is tough but thats it. As some one that doesn't do well in the heat this was a concern. I took care of this in 3 ways.
1. Arm coolers on the bike
2. Extra water bottle on my bike down tube. (2 bottles for straight water and 1 fuel bottle w/ Infinit. 3 total)
3. Simply being mentally prepared. Ever get stuck in traffic that wasn't expected. infuriating! but when your ready for it, plan for it, expect it. not so bad... same thing. get ready to be F'n hot. all in all, the heat wasn't bad. Ice down the shirt at ever aid station and I was fine.

Ok so why does it seem like so many people crack there? 2 main reasons.
1. They train to hard/ don't rest enough for the race. It's the world championships and athletes get supper amped! Rightfully so, but recovering from an IM takes time. lots of time, longer than most realize and many rush back into training from there qualifying race. "I got to train for KONA!" yeah you do but you have to recover first. Not recovering enough first is like getting new tires for your car before you take it to get junk yard. It's just dumb. everyone knows this yet very few actually do it.

2. They get over excited and execute the race poorly. This is easy to do. Its the world championships and as you hopefully read in my race report things don't play out like they do in your qualifying race. There are people all around you the ENTIRE time! my 10:10 race time was good for the to 500 something... yeah top 25%. i am normally in the top 5%. This issue can be exacerbated by the fact that almost everyone here is a qualifier. They are used to going fast. If people feel just a bit off and there going slow, lots of folks passing them, they get what I call the IM death gaze. you lave T2 feeling worse than ever before and you think 26 miles!?? no way thats impossible! and they implode.
Here's a little fact. You can't run 26.2 miles after riding 112 and swimming 2.4. its impossible. but you can run 1 mile. and then another, then maybe 2 and so on. I can't tell you how many people I saw on a sun 10hr pace (ahead of me) just stop and quit. 99% of these people's minds quit. not their body... when i left T2 i could see this place in my mind. I felt like death. one at a time, one mile at a time, one moment, one steep, one feeling one thought at a time. my first tip of race execution. focus on what yoru doing right "now". mistakes get made in the now. If your not in the now on race day where the F*** are you?!!?? can I run "right now" for just 1 minute? "yes", then do it.

So which one happened to you then? neither. of course, right...

Here is the other thing. Hawaii is a long way away. really long. Even from CO. A 2 hr. flight to AZ. then 6.5 hr's to kona makes for a long day. add 4 hr time change and 7 for you east coasters and you have a potentially serious jet lag issue headed your way.
What did happen to me was this.
Our planned 14 hour travel day turned out to be around 24 hours. A very simple delay in Denver had us in LAA instead of AZ. 5 hr lay over, before the over seas flight and kona arrival time was 7 pm local time instead of 2. not a big deal right? Thats what I thought, I wasn't feeling bad. That was wed. thur. I was fine again. Didn't do anything dumb, stayed out of the sun, hydrated and fueled well, etc. But Friday things caught up with me. I was just exhausted. And that the was I felt on race day. Just tired. muscles fine, but even a slow pace just had me pinned.
pretty lame excuse I know. but that's all I got.
my training was good. I felt great coming into the race. expectations were right on. My bike felt like it was right on with pre IMLP. Swimming felt great in training and if anything I had improved tech. The run, not as much but I adjusted and was prepared. I was going to "see how I felt" running no faster than 8'/miles and aim for a 8-8:30/mile pace. if I slowed a bit, fine. a 3:45 run would be fine.
As you read in the race report I handled it as best I could. I kept moving and avoided a huge disaster.
I have said before that people don't realize the best moments of their lives because they are so caught up in the moment. Which I think is pretty cool. But what happens when your somewhere that is supposed to be sooo great and its... not so great. Its important during these times you keep some perspective. I had two rules going into this race. don't stop, take it in.
I did both, success.

So what now? I seem to very content with my day, and fulfilling a life long dream...
I have gotta get back there and race at 100%. I can be "satisfied" but never "content".

IM Hawaii must Do's:
for racers and non-racers.

1. swim. its awesome! hit the coffee float the day or 2 before the race.
2. racers you have to have a iron Sherpa. for this race more than most.
3. take it in!! volcano nation park, snorkeling, local food, watch or participate in teh underwear run, do it all.
4. as long as possible after the race!
5. Get out there at least 4 days before the race. and sleep!
6. DO NOT stress about the heat. there isn't much you can do. if you want to move there, go ahead. 5 or 6 days is not gona help you acclimate.
7. Lu Lu's Sunday morning for football.
8. get as many friends and family as you can to go out. Watching this event and doing it are both very inspiring.
9. take it all in. don't forget where you are and what your doing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ironman World Championships, Kona, Hi. race report

Kona Race Report. the nitty gritty.
here is the down and dirty race report. some power files, etc. more thoughts and details on the race will follow.

Race morning: was pretty standard. food, drink, get to the race, bathroom, etc...
the difference here was this is the world championship. The spectator volume simply crushes that of any other race out there. Media, helicopters, the whole 9. It was just fookin crazy.

I felt good 2 days earlier on my opener ride. and while I had this nagging tiredness and fatigue I told my self it would pass. I was confident it wouldn't bother me on race day.
The swim was pretty wild. The Ford car float, the sound of the helicopters, I took it all in. I lined up front and center. moment number one of "Oh my god I can't believe I am here!" Contact was pretty standard. but I found some clear water and got a rhythm. the water was rolly at times but I plowed through. at the turn I saw a guy under water 10 feet or so in full scuba gear filming. Moment number 2. "holy Sh** I can't believe I am HERE!"

The second half of the swim I pushed a bit more. The pack thinned out and went single file. A large group looked to be a bit ahead of me but I was still on some feet and connected to the group. I didn't have to sight any more, I felt strong and the separation was starting to happen... like normal... right? nope. This is the world championships. Everyone here qualified, you can't simply hold your pace and wait for the other to "fade away". About 10' from the finish of the swim it felt like the entire world came up behind me and it was the start all over again. "you gotta be kidding me!" I thought. but I made it. up to T1, in and out. Most crowded T1 I've ever been in. I had no idea what my swim time was at that point, didn't care. time to ride.

The bike was crowded. again its the W.C.! and I was getting passed, a lot. its rare for me to get passed. but I wasn't worried. Its kona there are just as many people here who will get over pumped up and blow there race as people who will crush it.
However, about 10 miles into the bike I could tell. I had the feeling... That feeling of struggle. There are different kinds of pain. good pain,bad pain, etc. at 25 miles I had been riding for 52 minutes or so. and I felt like i had done 250-260 watts. I had done 220. uhh. not a good sign. this feeling of strugeling would stay with me the rest of the race.
The fatigue of our 20 hour travel day (more on all this later) crawled into me and wasn't gona go away. I have felt this before and it has simply faded away. I had a great race, other times its been the worst day of my life.
I could tell the tail wind was raging as well. I knew it would only get harder. Onto the climb to hawi and I was still strugeling. I adjusted a bit. almost 100% going by feel and using my watts to stay real. Also my HR was jacked. This confirmed to me that this just wasn't gona be my best day. ohh well, I made it hear I wasn't that disappointed.
On the climb to Hawi I started to get pretty annoyed with guys passing me then just stopping 1 bike length in front of me. I tried to stay cool but I am sure there is a pic of me somewhere waving my arms and yelling at someone. Big head wind on the climb which was nice because unlike the common head wind we got a tail wind on the way down.
mile 80 to the finish was a big steady head wind. what I expected. I pushed. I tried to tell my self that I was riding well, just ride EK, come on push! This ain't supposed to be easy. I seemed to drop some of the people I was with for most of the ride but this is where I lost lots of time on the guys that were just in front of me. My watts dropped here a bit even if I was steady. I have seen a few power files of guys the bested me in the bike and this was the biggest area of lost time for me.
In T2 I was quick but scared. As I finished up a volunteer asked "sunscreen?" "yeah, please." he lathered up my shoulders and neck, I stood up and paused. "whole crap... I feel wrecked, I can't believe I have to run a marathon." not the feeling we are looking for coming off the bike in an IM.
Bike file:
if this jams up on you sorry, I am going to download it again when i get my stuff back with my bike.

in the Run I was at first holding back to stay around 8' miles but it was taking some much energy. Normally, "energy" is not my limiting factor. I've got energy to spare. Its more about how much can my muscles take. oh far and how hard can I push them until they fail. This time it was different. I was in a place I had not been before. i hadn't prepared for this. I don't prepare to do poorly.

OK reality check and adjustment time. Chris and I did a damage assment and made a new plan.
I was in rough shape all ready. If one more thing goes wrong, one tiny thing gets messed or stops working at 100% I am screwed. I'll be walking the rest of the way, at best.
~OK. run on 100% feel.
~walk at every aid station. get everything i need.
If I fall behind on fueling, get hot or .5% dehydrated things would crumble fast!
~I decided I would walk every aid station, get everything I need, stay cool.
~ My stomach was good so I started hitting coke on top of my other nutrition, Infinit.

This worked well. I walked most of palini but my rhythm, while slow, was steady. I never thought I would have to walk the rest of the way or not finish. I just kept on keeping on...
I had 3 or 4 more "oh my god i'm can't beleieve this" moments. when people say "just enjoy your day", this is what they are talking about. Often at the best times of our lives we don't realize it because we are so caught up in it. And... that's the way it should be. But every now and then it's worth taking a moment and just being aware of whats going on. of what your doing. Alii Dr., the Queen K, going down into the energy lab, The finish line. The finishing straight is INSANE. it's long, real long. the crowd is huge, and if you miss this opportunity to "take it all in" you are missing out.
Run file:

Lindsay meet me at the finish I drank several cups of chicken broth and saw lots of racers and friends I knew. The stories begin. "did you hear about so and so? 3 flats!" did you see Drew Scott? his running shoes were red with blood."
Even during the bike I saw guys just pull off the rd and stop. guys on the run 3 miles in, that were ahead of me! (I finished in 10:10) just stop and called it game over. while seeing this stuff during the race doesn't make me happy at all, it did, make me realize, "hey, that's NOT happening to me..." things could be way worse.

so Chris and I learned a few things at this race. It is possible for me to keep moving and finish what I think is fairly respectable time, with out feeling 100%. not even 90%. pretty cool.

Next post will be Soon! more on what Ironman Hawaii is like, do's and don'ts and what happened to me? training, prep, heat?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Ruben Sandwich and blending of ingredients

The Ruben is my favorite sandwich. I get it every where I go. Yes its good. I like the grilled bread, hot sandwiches and the gooyness of the meal but I also love it because the Ruben should NOT be so great. every ingredient I dislike. every one.
~Rye bread, Pass
~Swiss cheese, its ok but not my first choice.
~Russian dressing, no way.
~Corned beef, ok that's pretty good... but still not a first choice.
~Sauerkraut. barf

Yet for some reason when you put these together, the right way, in the right proportions it F**** rocks!
This is a delicate balance. To much beef, no good. it's to dry. To much kraut, awfully, if you toast the bread (the number one mistake) major fail. But when the ingredients are good quality, in the right portions and grilled perfectly you have the makings of the best meal ever!

2 days ago, 6 days before the Ironman world championships, I went for a run. Since IM LP I have not felt... my best. slowing getting my strength and feel back. The swim came first, bike next, almost now to the point where I was preLake Placid but the run has been an up and down battle. Struggling to balance the right ingredients in the time I have to simply get to the best place possible. No need t0 better or even at the same level, but I still gotta finish! I need to have that "feel" back. This has been further hampered but another nagging issue which I'll discuss post race regardless of the result, how I get it, or if this issue becomes an issue or not.

Yet on Sunday days before I am to leave, my run felt... like my running legs just woke up from a 2 month nap! I felt at ease with my 45' run at race pace. "ahh thank god!" I said aloud to my self when I got home.

Training will sometimes feel odd "why am I doing 30 sec. sprints on the bike for a 5-6 hr ride?"
"why am I doing 100 yd efforts in the pool? the swim is 2.4 MILES?"

some times the ingredients don't look right when viewed alone. The road to your goals is never a straight line.

But when you take the nasty sauerkraut and Russian dressing (does anyone even put that on salad anymore?) the cheese and corned beef, slap it on the grill between the right bread you get something totally different.

Some times you have to be patient, trust your self, trust your training and resting, put your head down on race day and never stop.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Road to Kona part 2

“So Eric, how’s training for Kona going?” ahh training? Well not much “training” to be had really. But I feel ready...

Sounds weird but it's true. I have got this question a lot lately. And others like it. At the awards ceremony for IM lake placid a guy from my AG asked us others in the top 5 as we waited to head up to the stage “you guys raced kona before? And then , “what do you do to train between now and then?”
It’s a very valid question. So, what am I doing? What should you do if you find yourself in this or another similar situation?

~Find your Perceived exertion chi.
~Leave the ego at home.
~Take a reality check. Every day!
~find your form, don’t work for the sake of working hard.

You will not find anything in here on “heat training” nothing on changing your body clock to Hawaiian time or riding a course that mimics the kona one. You won’t find one anyhow so Don’t bother looking.

Steep one.

This is the most important thing. From the finish line at lake Placid to the start line of the IM World Championships one has 11 weeks to prepare. And your preparation can not begin until you are FULLY recovered, plain and simple. Depending on the person this recovery can vary more than my wife’s work travel sch. !
This year my friend Steve Johnson finished 2nd overall amateur at IM CDL. 2 weeks after this race is the Boulder peak. Oly dis triathlon. Last year it took Steve until the last mile to catch and pass me on the run at the peak. My running had improved… a lot. And while he had made improvements as well I thought I had it in the bag! “2 weeks after IM CDl. I’ll put over 5 minutes on him by T2, he doesn’t have a chance” I said to a friend. yet at mile 3.5 he did catch and pass me without even looking tired. He said he felt great. WOW! he is a freak of nature. We train together freaquently so while on one hand I was suprised by this performance, on the other I wasn't really.

After IM Canada last year it was over 6 weeks until I felt somewhat normal. 2 months after the race I was 15 lbs heavier than on race day and while I was feeling “better” and could train, my ability was gone. My threshold power on the bike was some 60+ watts lower at threshold than pre Canada. Recovering from an IM is complex. The race breaks you down badly. On top of that recovering may take so long that you also de-train slightly as well. What this comes down to for your recovery is you have to listen to your body and leave the ego at home!
On the flip side, if you wait until you can do a field test of some sort and match your previous bests you’ll be waiting a long time. You will also be constantly testing yourself and getting worn out as well as frustrated and discouraged.
You will need to find a balance of complete rest and recovery and then after and appropriate time have to put you nose to the grind stone and do some hard work, slow and pathetic as it may seem. Then slowly start working with what you have not with what you want to have.

Recovery that worked for me, so far:
With Kona all ready in my mind I hit some good nutrition and recovery as soon as I got back to the hotel a few hours after IM lake placid.. Some vitamins, ibuprofen and dinner that included 2 beers and some johny walker red label!

Week 1: totally off!
A massage this week, LOTS of sleep, 10 hr’s a night, one 15’ spin around the block to move some blood around and a trip to the local recovery lab for 30’ in those pants that squeeze your legs.
Compression socks worn for at least 1 hr. every day and a good diet. Go ahead induldge but lets not go Supper Size Me, on yourself.

Week 2: 2 EASY swims
1 easy ride 1 hr. long
another massage. Lots of stretching, GREAT nutrition and some ab work.
This is a great time to analyze your race. What worked, what went well, what was bad, what was bad luck and what did you get lucky with? For me this big thing that stuck out was my tight hip flexors for the entire bike. My PT helped me address this with some activation movements and core strength work. 2 times a week. Easy, straight forward, 5’ done.
After this 2 weeks of very focused recovery I was feeling good but still far from normal.

Week 3: involved 2 easy swims again and 2 rides which I incoperated some strength work. High intensity,30” (second) efforts in a big gear/low rpm.
This was to get my neurological system working again and build back as much strength as possible. 6 weeks after IM LP I was going to a stage race (bike race) in steamboat springs. My goal was to recovery 100% and then get myself to a point where I could “handle the race”, 4 days of hard racing. If I could get myself to a point where I could get some good training out of this race without digging myself a huge fatigue hole I would be in a great position.

The strength efforts got better. I felt better, pushed more watts and added more reps.
Swimming felt good pretty quickly and running I slowly added to this. Week 3 I did 2, 30-40’ runs. One felt great the other horrible. Many folks experience this when coming back from an IM or any BIG endurance event. One day they feel like they’re old self. The next like it was the day after the big race.

When this happens you stop, head home and take the next day off. Remember we are still “training to train”. Just getting to point where we can train again. And sometimes it takes awhile. It always takes longer than you think it will. As we start to add in more training here we must think about training and its core. Training is a give and take, a scale if you will. How much adaptation can I get (the training/ the workout) and how much fatigue will it cost me (having to rest later). The later also has a risk element to it. What if you get injured from overuse, or sick? So this HARD training that we all want to do has sand traps everywhere! Injury, extreme fatigue, decreased performance, sickness and for what? What are you getting from your training? This is where I recommend a few protocols.
1. more off days than normal. (I did 2-3 instead of 1)
2. NO excessively “long” workouts. I do a seminar that talks a lot about what is “long”. The deal is, Mr. or Mrs. IRONMAN are you really worried about your endurance? Really? You just did an IM?
Long endurance workouts (4+ hour bike rides, 2 hr runs) have lots of fatigued associated with them. And, alone, they don’t offer a big adaptation. So you either have to do a lot of them or you might as well find a new approach. And you don’t have the time to do a lot of them. 3 weeks recovery, 1 week restarting the engine, 3 week peaking phase(tapper) , that’s 4 weeks, 3 if one is a recovery week.
3. when intensity returns to your training use shorter intervals and/or longer rest than normal.
4. listen to your body. No time to be a tough guy. If you’re not feeling it today, even though you think you should be, go home, tomorrow will come.

My strength workouts on the bike turned into a 2.5 hr hilly ride and one threshold workout. this was my "nose to teh grind stone day" the first one (hilly ride) was horrible. i could barley pedal that day. i went home rest 2 days and tock another shot.

For the threshold workout I did 4x10’ and went more on feel. The zone 4 workout gave me some clues that my threshold was around 285-290. Down from the 320-330 it was before IMLP. Reality check time! Time to lower the training zones and train with what I had, not what I wanted to have.

The bike race came, I did 320 watts for 20’ in the TT on day one and almost dropped a lung. OK maybe the threshold is up towards 300 watts all ready. Progress! The next 3 days I worked hard for the team, we had the leader’s jersey for a few days, and while there was no impressive power files to talk about I “felt good” I was able to push my body each day. there it s again, “Felt” back to PE. Perceived exertion. The most important aspect of intensity and the one that ruins most athletes because they don’t use it correctly.
More rest and back at it the next weekend. Another short threshold set. 10’ intervals again only 3 this time. Power was up. all 3 intervals in the 310-320 range. confirming my 20’ TT effort at the race. Always get more than one data point. Even in ice skating they take out the highest and lowest score! You should too.

was going well. This is a relative strength for me so I did not push myself here. I was consistent, 2 times a week. I was never worried about how many yards I did and I error’d on the easier side. Again bang for your buck. Hard long swim workout can crush me. I’ll do some in time, but first I had to find my riding and running legs.

Running is coming back the slowest. This is common for many people. Running is also my weakest area so it further exacerbates the issue. I focused on short runs, making them more frequent as the weeks went on and I felt stronger. The 2 weeks before the Labor Day weekend race I ran 1:50 total each week. Then 0 the week of the race and about 1hr total the week after.
In the recent weeks I have felt stronger and stronger. My focus on the bike has stayed with shorter threshold intervals and more rest than normal. Working my muscles to push the higher watts without added fatigue and muscle damage of longer intervals and shorter (more normal) rest time. I was am taking 3-8 minutes rest instead of 2-4 minutes. Sometimes longer if the terrain called for it. (long down hills etc)

With running the focus has stayed with frequency over the long run and I have added short intervals. 30” (seconds) intervals at Z4-Z5 pace. “well what are your pace zones now EK you haven’t tested have you? No. I haven’t. Based on a relative PE on my steady runs I put my threshold at 6:45. Back from 6:15 I had going into IMLP. This is a bit of an educated guess and far from ideal. In the next week or so I will likely do a tough run workout or maybe a 5k test. Something maximal to give me another data point to figure out what is reasonable on race day in Hawaii. I have an idea, again from my PE in training on my “easy” runs but you need more than that. Again People’s sense of what is what when they ONLY there PE is wrong 99% of the time. this gets folks into trouble all the time! that said ideal threshold test data or not I am going to get more info for my race day pacing goals!

Next post will be looking at a few of the big training sessions I did. What they’re worth on race day and performing instead of just getting it done…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sacrific, and the road to IM world championchips.

This word gets used a llot in sports. “It takes sacrifice to get to the top, to obtain your goals”, etc.
Often in endurance sports it has a definition I disagree with. You need to sacrifice a lot for that goal. Sacrifice sleeping in, eating the foods you like, having a social life, fun in general, the list goes on. If you have read more than one or two of the training entries on this blog you know that I do things a bit differently.
However, there is truth between those lines. The higher your goal, the more you MAY have to sacrifice to achieve it.
There is a saying in the mountaineering world when traveling on a glacier, “You don’t worry about the crevasses you can see, you worry about the ones you can’t.”
In sport the toughest times you will often face are the ones you never saw coming. I often wonder if that is because there’re so difficult you never imagined having to deal with it? Or is it simply because you were not prepared as you should have been?

As I prepare for the Ironman world championships in Kailua- Kona, Hawaii things have gone well. Recovery far better than last year after IMC, I slowly started training, getting myself to a point where I could “handle” the Steamboat Springs stage race and get some good training out of it, without digging myself back into a hole. I did that pretty well. A few days of recovery and I was feeling great, ready to go for my 1 week of focused training in all 3 sports. The only full week of real training I would have between IM lake Placid and IM Hawaii. Then, bamb a cold struck. Time is NOT on my side here. One HAS to be healthy and rested for an IM, or any big endurance event. yet I am still a shadow of my former self from June and July when I did IM lake placid. The classic catch 22 “I want to be more fit/prepared but I must be rested, healthy, motivated and fresh for race day.”

I say this in every training seminar I do:
“The biggest limiter every athlete faces is TIME”

Now as I finish up this post with completely backwards writing we need to take another steep back. Before I was even at the starting line in Lake Placid in which was able to use my body that cast the shadow I which I speak of, I avioded a potentially catastrophic disaster. Getting sick 3 weeks out from my biggest race of the year. I did this with a very large amount of sacrifice. The twist here is that the sacrifice was not on my part but my wife’s.
Lindsay had been very busy with work, traveling a lot. In the middle of a 2 week work trip on the phone one night I could hear it in her voice. “are you sick?” I asked. A long pause. “… I’m sorry baby, I tried, I've done everything…” she felt horrible. She knew the place I was at. Just finishing up a huge 2 week training block, ready to rest, perform well at one last Oly distance race and then drain a tank I had been filling for the last 2 years in less than 10 hours.
It’s likely she could have come home and all would have been fine. But when you prepare all year for one day the risk was kinda high. Lindsay decided, and yes this was her idea, she would return from her long work trip and spend two additional days at a friend’s house in town not comeing home to get more clothes and not seeing me. This was to ensure she was not contagious anymore. I thought this was a bit ridiculous but she tock words that I have used before “if we are gona do this, let’s do it 100% or not as all”. Motivation to come up with the goods on race day at Ironman Lake Placid? You could say that.
The biggest sacrifice that was made to achieve a lifelong goal of making it to the ironman world championships was not made by me… crazy. Life still amazes me, every day. my wife amazes me, everyday.

Next post I’ll talk a bit about IM recovery, starting training up again and what it was like for me. I will also be posting, daily in the last few days leading up to the IM Hawaii. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Anatomy of a PR

This past weekend we had 4 athletes race at the Boulder 70.3 half ironman. All the pr’d is some way.
new best performances can come in many ways. Here is a quick recap of what they did and more importantly, how.
The biggest part of every story here is RACE EXECUTION everyone of these athletes used to train hard and then on race day, just go… some had a touchy, feely plan, go hard here, not so hard there. It should feel like this or that. But no hard data. “First 5 miles of the bike you do X watts no more”. “First lap of the run you run this pace. no faster, no slower”. This hard data was determined through field testing and backed, tweaked or changed completely with training analysis. When you combine this accurate, hard data to the experience of one’s PE (perceived exertion) you have 99% of the tools to perform at your best ever.

Results page here:

Megan Flanagan:
A relatively new athlete to us, but not new to triathlon. Megan is a great swimmer. A swimming back ground is always nice to have coming into triathlon but we all know you can’t win in the water. Megan’s focus has been improving her riding. Her bike is the weakest leg of her race. There has been a focus on threshold intervals. Not simply doing them but doing them right. We have employed some techniques that enable her to pace herself very well even without a power meter. The result. Faster AND more efficient riding. Which, as is the case most of the time, a better run as well!! Megan paced her bike better as well as rode faster. Back that up with a solid run right at her Zone 3 pace and you’ve a got a PR.

Gavin Anderson. First year Pro. Gavin is in his first year as a pro. A wife, 2 kids, full time job and then gets up early on Sunday to face off against the best pro’s in the country on a monthly basis. Yes, I feel lazy just writing this. Gavin also has a swimming back ground. His run and bike both need improvements to race at the pro level. Gavin has a huge capacity for workload, the amount of work he can absorb is astounding. Even after a few months of working together I still become amazed every now and then. Through some training and testing I discovered that Gavin has a great Endurance. For example his fatigue rate is very low. He runs very close to what he would stand alone for 13.1 miles after coming off the bike. So, despite his focus on the 70.3 series his training has revolved around getting “faster”. Threshold intervals, VO2 int. and more run volume. His run volume was simply to low before. When we first started we eliminated high cost, low return training, like lifting weights. Put in more recovery time, so that the hard workouts could be done HARD, at the correct wattages and pace prescribed. The results. Gavin has made steady progress, improving in every race, beating athletes that had better him earlier in the year. Felling stronger and getting closer to the money!

Joel Byersdorfer:
An Athlete at heart but new to triathlon. Joel’s best asset is his common sense. A runner and ultimate Frisbee player in the past, he knows when to really push and when the set training sch. just won’t work. Joel’s communication with me has made for a strong coach athlete team and the results show it. Joel is another case of when we improve the bike the run improves as well. Go figure! We identified Joel’s weak area and got to work. Joel, like everyone we had race, negative split the bike and pushed through the wind in the second half of the run not slowing down to much and earning a great result.

Brent Schoeb:
The definition of toughness.
To do well in any sport, to “PR”, to go beyond what you have done before you must, at some point, push your body beyond what it is capable of. At that moment the “what you are capable of” turns into “ what you were capable of”. However, sometimes, this happens is a different manner than we imagine. Brent was cruising through the bike leg when a rapid series of events caused a fall. Small bump in the road, throwing an empty water bottle, hitting his own arm, a gust of wind and he was inspecting the chip seal on the bike course roads. After Brent got back under way he knew something was wrong with his hand. As he started the run he had a decision to make. Med tent now or in 1:54 minutes when I finish. He chose the latter and ran through 90+ degree heat with one operational hand to a PR. A great story of adaptation and not giving up. Sometimes you don’t have to be at your best to achieve your best.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid race report

Eric Kenney's IM Lake placid race report

“You're not gona make it.”
3 miles of the 140.6 to go and I could barely hear Chris any more. At only 6 miles into the run there were about 10 guys in my age group within 2 miles. Say 14’ max. For a guy with his 2 strongest sports behind him and a spot to the world championships in Kona, Hi falling away with every one that pasted me I knew the next 2:30+ hours would be the hardest of my life. Physically and mentally. And I was slowing down.
“DO NOT WALK! RUN ERIC RUUUUUN!!”, Chris said. And then there was that hand with the lightest push at my lower back.

That last miles of an ironman can be… well, a mind game. Just keep moving. It’s so easy to stop, so easy to start walking. And when you do the response is immediate. Relief.
Leading up to lake placid was your standard peaking affair. Nerves. Am I feeling horrible or just peaked and ready? But it was all there. The training, the mental readiness, experience, knowledge, tools. It was all in place. I just had to wait 2 more weeks for the gun to go off! Ahhhhh!

Race morning. “you guys know the drill right? No wetsuits.” the water was 77 degrees. Right at the, to warm for wetsuits rule. So it was wear one if you want. You’re not counted in prizes or Kona spots. If you want to go to The Big Dance on Oct. 8th, no wet suits. No worries I didn’t care. No use in caring at that point. I had about 3 minutes of “should wear my race top or not? What about the guys with speed suits, how will I know who wore one and who didn’t? oh my god, OH MY. OHH MY GOD!!! ITS ALL GOING TO CRAP! WHAT THE F- “YO! Eric!” Chris chimed in. Most of you know him, if not see the Canada race report from 2010
Dude I can’t believe you got me up this early, You’re pathetic.”
"2 people said wearing your race top would be fine. But your gona freak. Everything loosens up when it gets wet. Get help with it in transition. Put it in your T1 bag, stop whining call me when you’re at mile 30 on the bike

Ok done. Telling myself I’m not cold. Trying to tread water with people packed in like a Metallica concert, 5 minutes to go. Wow that’s a long time… “30 seconds everyone” blared over the loudspeaker.
wow that went fast. Gun goes off and the next 400 meters of the swim were the roughest I have ever experienced. Lake placid is tight at the start. Add in no wet suits and your sinking. I was a bit surprised but head down, nothing fazes you, just go. It thinned out and more so on the second lap. I had some feet for a while but not right on them. I swam right next to a guy for ¾ths of the entire swim. I mean stroke for stroke. For 45 minutes, there he is, not there now. There he is, not there now… get me to my bike! PLEASE! I swam hard. I didn’t feel great but I got a grove that I was maintaining and just pushed.
My swim was all right. 58:50ish… slow, but 12th in my AG no wet suits so… remember my article on how to analyze race results? “Never use time! Ever!” I had no idea during the race about my time and I’m glad.

I was surprised at how long T1 is at IM LP. You have to run like 2 blocks around to get your bag , into the tent, out the other side around the far end of a football field, get your bike and out the other side again. I got help with my race top (impossible to get one when you’re wet) my bike was handed to me, no need to go to the end of my row, and I was off. 4:30 ish, not bad.
Off on my bike.
I settled in nicely. Still riding a bit to hard on the hills but grabbing every chance to coast or noodle as possible. Which wasn’t much. It was all ready windy. And we had a head cross wind for the first section of the loop. Then the hills started, so… no recovery spots on the bike today.

My execution plan:
with a threshold of 320, (weight 156ish) goal was to do 230 norm power give or take for the bike leg. 70% of thresh. I would love to do 72% but I don’t have that crushingly huge endurance engine that some have. I know from training that 70, maybe 71% is tops. Especially with a hilly run course.
~nothing over 250 for an extended period of time.
~get over the first set of rollers as easy as possible. Relax.
~200-210 on the flats until Jay Rd where the hills start.
~again, easy up this the first set of hills on Jay Rd. Grab coasting time every where I can.
~from rt 86 (mi. 45 or so) it was 240 watts all the way to mi 65 or so. (to the big decent past transition) 75’- 90’ effort I figured
~2nd time through same thing except start the steady effort on the hills at Jay rd and start to back off a bit as I get closer to T2 on what few down hills and flats there where.

Nutrition, water, pedaling, don’t draft. The standard. The thing I noticed was I wasn’t picking up any big packs, even down on rt. 9 when you can see far ahead there weren’t big lines of riders down the rd. Was I farther off the back than last year in Canada? Did the first 25 minutes of hills break it up more? Was I farther up in the field? What the hell is going on? I wanted to know. I’m racing. My goal a spot to the ironman world championships. Yes I have to race MY race. But I can still work some tactics into the race plan.
time went. First turn around is mile 25ish I started to count riders coming the other way. 1-2, pro’s, some pro women, he looks like an amateur, bamb turn around. Nice! I’m up. Close to top ten over all amateur now.
Chris is in my head. “OK chill. This is perfect. Better than we planed take it easy over the Jay rd hills, then steady, NOT HARD, up the long climb to mile 65. And we need to stretch out the legs. Your hip flexors and hams are really tight
I was gona just ignore the tightness in my legs but it had to be addressed. It was far less than ideal. I mean the race just started.
Chris treated our body like it was detached, something else. Like a car or a machine that one could just fix or tune a different way. If it didn’t work well one day or the way we wanted it to we just tried to fix it and went for it again another time. I talk about this to all our clients. Depersonalize your ego, your brain, your goals, and your physical being. If your legs suck one day, you’re not a bad person, it’s ok, life goes on. Be mad, sure, but only for so long. Then, it’s over let it go. Fix the weakness and move on. Be grateful you’re here doing this to begin with.

Up the long climb I pushed, much to the dismay of my hip flexors and hamstrings. Steady, “250 tops! Ek.”, 220 felt good. The flatter sections with the now tail wind had me moving well. Easy for a few minutes on the down hills through the finish area, and back up the starting hills. Windy now, keep on the gas. Push, push. A little recovery and food at 50 miles per hour on the big decent to Keene and back to the not so easy flat rd. with a head wind.
Ok , system check: one of the keys of race execution is staying on track. “think where are you now in the race, what are you doing and why? Then think about what is coming up and what you will do when you get there. As this may affect what you do now”
If you do this you are in control. I see people grabbing for food and water on hills, being surprised and un sure what to do at feed zones, etc. if you eat when your hungry, drink when your thirsty, ride hard when you feel good easy when you don’t you’re a victim of the course. The course is dictating your race not you.
~How’s fuel? good, on track.
~Water? Seems ok I missed a few stations early but was keeping bottles I got in my jersey that were not empty from filling my aero bottle.
~Legs? well they are not getting worse. That’s good. My heart rate was (this is the only time you will hear me talk about HR) very responsive. Which is good. Despite the tight legs, as soon as I would let up or coast, it would drop.
~Race strategy check. Over all I’m good, not fatiguing too much, and no one has really caught back up to me that I dropped on the long climb up 86. Another count of riders on the out and back. OK I have to be like at the Front of the race. I mean like THE front, I thought.
Chris. “eric”, he doesn’t capitalize my name as he feels I have not earned it, “lets ease up earlier than we planned, your legs are still really tight. We need to fix this now or we are totally fuc***.” he was right. My position was great. And while I didn’t feel bad, It felt harder than a good peaked effort should feel.
I went eaiser on the Jay rd. hills than planned, stretching at every oportunity I could find. I pulled ahead of the last rider to stay with me at 8 miles to go or so. “hey lookin good, number 2 amateur!” I had heard this 3 times now, it was just registering. Whole crap! I was 10th of the bike in Canada last year.
Every flat section and short downhill (yes there are a few on the climb up 86) I would ease up. Finished off nutrition, stretched, stood up a lot, easy, but out of the saddle a lot in the last 2 miles.
Coming into town was just epic. Huge crowds. I mean F’n HUGE! Up and around into the outdoor oval athletic center that is transition and the finish of the bike leg. I was the 2nd amateur off the bike overall there was 2700+ racers behind me. This felt amazing. I love being at the front. Racing, not just going. Thousands of eyes on me, cheering, yells, screaming. Just amazing in every way.
In the 1:30 I spent in T2 I handed my bike off, shoes, got rid of the bike gear, trash, arm warmers, running shoes on, switched HR straps, got my watch, asked what the temp was “79” ehh hot for me, and was out. I ran out with a focused but calm look on my face, fixed my hair, checked my run form an…
“YO!” ,chris, “pat yourself on the back later pretty boy, last year you were ranked 260-somthing on the run”

Power File:

225 norm power. 156 lb's you can see i did not negitive split the ride. but as I said above i was in a beter possition than i thought, and the tight legs... i ease up eariler than planned.
This is a great example of adapting your race plan. Adapting to the conditions and the way I felt and getting an end result very, VERY close to the original plan. Gotta be dynamic on race day! ohh I did just over 300calories an hour on the bike. the bike was windy. winder than i thought it would be and more so than the last few years I heard. the bitch about the wind was it was a head wind on every downhill and fast section of the course. you could never relax. if you look at the run time this year you'll see some slower times than normal. why? I feel its because folks rode to hard/ the ride just tock to much out of them and the cracked. Hello? racing dynamically! if you even think about MPH and doing xyz MPH for this section and that section, your F'd. it just doesn't work.

Ok time ro run.
System check.
~ legs tight
~running fast 7:30’s,
~feeling good energy wise.
~stomach was tight. Not cramping but a bit tight.
all right, so where am I now, what am I gona do in 3-6 16 miles…”
Stomach is tight, hum, I am gona push nutrition. Normally for me I need more electrolytes with a bad tummy which is rare so if it doesn’t get better I’ll get some pretzels so something. Within 3 miles the stomach was back to 100% and legs loosened up a bit. Back on track.
Run Plan:
~8’ miles, anything better was gravy. Hills, go by PE 100% don’t worry about pace. Imagine Steve Johnson in front of me running with his 400 cadence shuffle that I can barley match.
that’s it.
Most of you know my run training philosophy. Frequency, Quality, Varied/ different types of intensity, and long runs aren’t really “long”. 90’ is a long run. Longest runs I did were 1:50 at 14 miles. This 2:30-3 hour running this is BS. Recovery is to long and you’re just teaching your body to run slow. Now, there is this “train to get tough” and “train to get fast/ for quality” seesaw, ying-yang thing. My feeling is that one should focus on quality most of the time, but like everything in life, you can’t over do it. If you train when everything is ideal ALL the time, I’m not betting on you on race day. One HAS to be dynamic. so go ahead and mix in those crazy long brick workouts… once in a while! Not every freaking weekend! Mix it up! What happens when you try and do some threshold intervals after 2+ hours of riding? It’s a bit different huh… it’s so hard in the sport of triathlon to be complete and dynamic in every sport. Impossible really, but there are a few places that you can be. Biking, start here. It’s the most dynamic sport of them all. Last think you want to be is a one trick pony on the bike. Especially on a course like LP.

The run is an out and back you do twice. More down hill on the way out, more uphill on the way back. I was running fast. too fast. 7:09 first mile. Then settled into a 7:30-7:40ish pace. I went through waves of emotions here. From you’re going to catch the guy in front and win the amateur race, to my legs are tight and I’m gona loose everything, to maybe I can do it, no I can’t, on and on. Just noise. You have to focus on… what? “Where you are now, what you’re doing and what you’re going to do next.”
Turnaround 1, 6 miles. The leader was like 2 miles ahead of me. This guy had 11’ on me coming off the bike. You’re my hero! No one has pasted me yet. This is good. I started looking at race numbers to see what kind of buffer I had. Not much after a mile I had seen 10 or so guys in my field. So, here I am, 7 miles into the 26.2 mile run or 800 mile run as it feels in and Ironman, running to fast with the whole field right on my heals. Back to the, this just isn’t going to happen today, feeling
who ever thought of sponges in ice water for running is a genius. I grabbed them every aid station (every mile) over the head and arms. Water every time. And Infinit Nutrition. My custom mix is 200mg sodium/ 100 calories. (they have a great blend of all 5 electrolytes) I did about 200 cals/ hour on the run.
Up the hills to mile 13 doing good. Pace still strong. On the way back I thought let the legs go a bit, issue here was on this “fast” easy section of rd I was having trouble staying under 8’/ miles. Crap. Still I was 3rd in my AG at this point. It was getting harder to see who was behind me at turn arounds. It seemed like the pack of chasers was… thinning out? I didn’t believe it. 8 miles to go, 7. I thought it doesn’t matter if I don’t qualify, my friends and family will still love me, my grandfather would still be proud. (he died last year 3 days before I did IM Canada) it’s ok just keep moving. 6 miles to go. Aid station I walked. What the F… why am I walking? It was totally involuntary. Water, ice down the pants, shorts, sponges. And I was passed, again by a guy in my AG. I started to run right away and re-passed him immediately. I can’t do this I thought. I’m not a good, dynamic enough runner to get into a shoulder to shoulder battle in the last miles on an IM.
Chris, “OK ek here we are, this is an IM, this whole day is just to get to here. We hold 8’/miles here. On the 2 short steep hills, keep running, if you hit 12’ miles walk and pick up the run as SOON as it flattens out, 2 miles flat from mile 22-24 crush it, as hard as you can. Last steep hill same thing, last mile 1.5 miles run, just run!”
Sounded good to me? I didn’t want anyone to see me and gain hope. First hill I shuffled. Like an old man barely moving. Never went slower than 10’ miles for the short steep climb. Ok crush EK, run, RUN! I saw a few folks I knew, they were screaming my name. I don’t’ respond. Couldn’t, at all. My face felt like those Lemmon headed aliens in the movie critters. Just blank. Nothing there, last hill into town, still in 4th in my AG I figured. (I was really 3rd) Half way up my legs just stopped. “I’m not gona make it”, I thought. “ I can’t do it. I just can’t run anymore.” The crowd erupted, as if they felt like it was their fault for not being loud enough or encouraging enough. It was so load I couldn’t hear my own thoughts. Now I would love to tell you that I could hear my grandfather talk to me and push me along but I’m not. What I did do is imagine that he was next to me with his hand on my lower back, and I did feel lighter.
I started to run. The steep climb turns and false flats. I stopped again, run eric, I said to myself, Run… RUN! I started to run again. 1.5 miles, last aid station. I stopped again, COME ON RUN!!! Water, sponges (yes I was still drinking) nutrition, yes still taking calories, turn around, my legs stopped. FU** eric RUUUUNNN I saw Patrick McCrann, he was a little ways back, he won’t’ catch me? If I can beat him I have to be in a kona spot. Patrick is what comes up when you search for “rock solid” his nick name should be ice man. I was 3rd in my AG and the 8th over all amateur. Coming into the finish is amazing. Huge crowds.
finish line, I couldn’t believe I pulled it off. The last 6 miles were harder than I imagined.

A few mistakes here, first 6 miles were way to fast. But everyone did the same. It looks like everyone slowed down, I just slowed down a small fraction less. Not the best run execution but it got the job done. Down hill or not. You HAVE to be carful with the run. NEVE back time. It never pays you back. The lake Placid run will crush the best runners if you go out to fast. I ended with a 7:51/ mile pace.
Run file:
Kona here we come.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Results, Goals and the Real World.

With racing season under way many folks are now starting to look at results and assessing their performance. This can be a tricky process. Whether it's simply a training race or a more important event, there are many things to take into account. And some things that should simply be left out on the course.
With times, rank in each event, your over all placing, wattage, run pace, and more, how does one analyze their results and performance correctly?

The hard data:
One of the best ways is to measure you and just you. Forget about everyone else what did you do? In the end you can only do what you can do. Sounds silly but many forget this simple fact. Measuring your wattage and running pace are very definitive ways of measuring your performance. "last yr. i did 250 watts at the Boulder sprint, this year 275!" that is progress. Your running pace is also something to look at. I would recommend going by your GPS watch however. Running courses can be off more than you think. Even at the most recent WTC, 5430 sprint tri the run course was short. This can skew times quite a bit. Swim times, be careful here as well. I have never heard of an open water swim course that was perfect. wind, choppy water, etc. can all led to very different swim times. This is why we never, NEVER, ever use time to measure our performance on the bike. MPH mean nothing. A breath of wind, new pavement, and 100 other things will affect your average speed. you must use wattage!
Even with all the correct data it is some times used wrong. I have heard athletes be angry with there run time because "it was slow." Yet they have no idea what they should be running (what they can run) coming off the bike. "well in 2001 I ran a 5k with some friends and I did 19 minutes flat! Today i'm better shape and I raced 19:50. i sucked!"
Heard this before? where do we start! First of all its not 2001. You just did a sprint triathlon not a stand alone 5k, if you PR on the run of a triathlon your not swimming or riding hard enough, or, you are much faster than you were before.
The courses could have been short, long. wind, surface, motivation, or maybe you just had a good/bad day.
find out what is a reasonable goal for YOU. not some obligatory time.

Because of issues like the ones above comparing results can be a great way to measure your performance. "but Ek I don't' race the people that win my AG, I race for my own goals, to be as fast as I can be i'm not on that level." That's great! This method is still very usable for someone in that mind set, stay with me for a bit.
This year an athlete I am working with has been working a lot on his run. However, his bike and swim have been improving as well. In the first few races this year his bike wattage has been exactly the same as last year. Effort level also the same yet his bike rank (and his over all placings) are higher. If this happened once I would think nothing of it but so far (4 races) all with the same scenario. he is going faster. A new bike and better position is proving to be gaining him more time than we thought. we'll take it!
Another client of ours just this last weekend said, "my run was awful, a horrible placing for me." really? are you sure? they placed inside the top 8 in their AG and last yr. they were 18th. also their run pace was faster and at the fast end of where I like to see athletes run in a sprint tri... so.... what was bad? it hurt? it's a race it's not supposed to be easy!

Also if your goals are competitive ones than this is realy what your aiming for right? Top 50%, Top 5% etc. At the end of the day a race is just who was best on that day, at that moment. You can work towards having a faster run, better power on the bike but,
"on race day you must race with what you have, not what you want to have"

Again I would urge caution here as well. things don't always match up 100%.
At the last race I did my swim placing was worse than last yr. but when you compare my time with the fastest swim time I lost less time than last year. ie. I was closer to the leader. My "time" (last thing we care about) was faster and the water rougher. Which is strange because a rough, slower swim would suggest bigger time gaps?? hummm...

This is why we prefer to use well executed races and more than one when ever possible. the more reference points you have the better.

In the end you need to ask your self, what are your goals? what are they specifically for this race? And what are your bigger goals for the season or year?
Your goals for this training race should be:
1. a stair steeper to build on towards the bigger goal
2. everyone should have the goal to execute the race to the best of there ability on that day! maybe you have a goal to focus on the bike portion or the run portion, maybe its simply to finish your first triathlon strong. what ever it is race execution is KEY!
~see: your first triathlon. even if it's your 101 race!!
~and the race execution seminar HERE

Most importantly realize that this event you have just done is one thing. One day, one race. you might have just had a bad day, or for that matter a good one. Maybe you got lucky? But when you have your threshold set for all 3 sports, they are better than last year, your data says you executed the race well and within the proper parameters and you're doing better against the competition at more than one event,
you are looking at the products of progress.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Going pro

"How do you go from being ranked number 1, to number 101 over night?
Turn Pro."

One of my favorite television ads. However, Going Pro is not about me. As with most of the blog posts here this is about someone else.

We have recently started working with Gavin Anderson, first year pro. This is very exciting for me. Being asked to work with a professional is something that has been a dream for a while. Am I ready? We'll let Gavin's competition decide as the year goes on.
"I really wanted someone I could work with, as a team. I've been an athlete for a while but at this level you just can 't do it alone." Gavin.

On the June 11, 2011 Gavin cracked the top 14 at IM 70.3 in KS. A very competitive race. He raced while leading the entire pro field out of the water and running a very aggressive first 1/2 of the 13.1 mile run until living on a edge became to much. We are excited about this result and are looking to build!
"I just couldn't hold on to my run pace. I knew it was aggressive but I'd rather go down with a fight!"

The challenges we face are a many.
1. We did not get to work over the winter together. trying to train weak areas in the middle of race season can be tough!
2. being a pro triathlete doesn't mean he gets a pay check! you gotta earn it with BIG wins. Gavin has a full time job, a wife and 2 great kids! All of which are priority number one. and you thought you sch. was busy...
3. Gavin's race schedule is jammed! later in Aug. he will have back to back 70.3 race weekends. recover much!

Whats in our favor? lots really.
1. Gavin and I are both here for the long haul. We know this takes time and are willing to do what it takes!
2. Teamwork. we are both open minded and work as a team. This is not crab fishing boat. This is two smart, experienced people working to make 2 minds far better than one.
3. Gavin has an enormous ability to handle and absorb workload. Gavin's normal training week would have many injured or sleeping through more than one meet at work.
4. Work ethic. when a workout say's ride 4 hrs in Zone 2 that's what happens. not 3:30 or a 3:45 hr ride.

Gavin plans and executes a training block in a smart, planned, thought out way. Now some of you are thinking "I have heard this before." you have, HERE and its not surprising. I did not make Gavin who he is. HE DID. He turned pro all by himself. Can we make him even better? yes, we can.

"All my sponsors I use, I love them all, I don't have any sponsors attached to me because they pay well. I really use their product or service."
Follow Gavin's blog to find out more about his sponsors and the Erin Baker's Elite Triathlon team. As well as stories from the front end of the race are all ways amazing!

Monday, June 06, 2011

First True Test

This past Sat. was the first true test of my training for the 2011 season. seems late I know!
and yes, I have done threshold testing for this and that and yes my "feelings" and pace at a given PE is different than last year and I do feel I am running faster swimming faster and even riding a bit better too. But,
until you lay it on the line, put it all together, in a race, with everyone else doing the same, you don't truly know how or where you have improved.

now, for some this is a bit much. One of our athletes did her first duathlon this weekend. was she concerned about the others racers? no. her placing in here A/G or over all? no. but showing up on race day is different than going hard in training and PR'ing when ever you happen to feel good one day. even for the newbies performing "their" best on race day is still important.

Michelle, did great by the way. running a bit faster than planned in the first run. her bike felt strong and steady, and even on the 2nd run dealing with a hot day and some calf cramping due to her lack of riding (big run focus for the Boulder Boulder) she finished strong not slowing down to much on the sec. 5k run.
For me this "training race" became much more important that originally planned. the summer open sprint had to cancel the swim last min. and we raced a duathlon. while I did better there than I thought I might, I was a bit disappointed with my running pace. The distance was a format I have never done but still I felt I should have run faster.

This past Sat. was an Oly. distance race. having a strong swim/bike combination its a good distance for me. The Boulder Sunrise tri is a smaller race and doesn't draw a huge fast guy field but I wanted to see what my body could do when I put all 3 sports together and realy emptied the tank.

The swim was lack luster. After having to back stroke a bit to get my breathing under control I started sighting off the wrong buoy. In the end not to much time was lost and I was able to get on the feet of the first group coming out on the water. I think I was 4-5th out of the water. so, not bad. makes me wonder what a GOOD swim would have produced.

lessons learned: if everyone else going left, then EVERYONE is likely correct.
I am never wearing a long sleeve wet suit, ever. regardless of how cold the water is.

The bike felt good. I waited a bit long to get up to my wattage range, but, then again maybe that's why I felt so good? Norm power was only 281 but for many of the steady riding sections I was sitting on 300 pretty well.
This felt much beter than last year and the summer open sprint a few weeks ago. Not forced at all. tiring in the last 5-10 miles? yes, for sure, but in control.

Things Learned: same one as always, being patient and not rushing to your goal power always pays off. Always.

Now the run. At this point I was told one guy was still in front of me with about 3 minutes. "OK so racing for second it is." who ever Drew Scott is he only 20 and crushed me by 5 minutes!! national team coaches, someone call this kid! I had a chance to chat with him a bit. very nice humble guy.
I found a rhythm faster than normal and was running sub 6:30's. perfect. what I wanted. The first 3 miles went well. my gap on 3rd looked good. I posted 1 or 2 6:40+ miles but got back to a 6:20 pace or so for the last of the 6.2 mile course and ended up with a 2nd place over all, running a 6:31 avg. pace per mile.

Lessons learned: be nice to your wife/significant other in the few days leading up to race! (see last comment of this post)
no mater how good the first few miles feel be carful. it always gets harder.

I was pretty pleased with this. having botched my last threshold running test I didn't have any hard data as to what I could really run. In my race execution planning I thought "if i can run 6:30/mile that will be great." so task achieved I guess! the run training has worked pretty well so far. with a 6:31 pace off the bike in an Oly dis. race that is going to put my threshold around 6:20 or better. training objectives for the run are all very close to being achieved.
"But Ek what about the longer running distances?"
good Q. can you correlate my run threshold pace to IM pace 100%.
No. but the race does tell us 2 things for certain about my running

1. My Threshold is faster than 6:30/mile.
2. I am running well off the bike. as I am pretty sure running a 6:10 pace would be unattainable. which means I am losing less than 4% or so off the bike. This is great.

Congrats to all the first timers who got out there and the race organizers for doing a great job. The race was much bigger than last year and I feel it has a great place in the CO race calendar.
Also, a big thanks to my wife who after getting up at 5am to come watch turned around half way there per my phone call on me forgetting my garmin running watch. despite getting there after the race started she found my stuff in transition, and got the watch placed in my running shoes. no clue how she did this as transition is closed to non racers.... humm....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your First triathlon

As mid summer approaches there are many of you about to take on your first triathlon. You might be apprehensive or simply downright nervous and there is no shame in that, it can be overwhelming at times. Swimming is fairly intimidating for many folks, especially when you add a few hundred other people getting in your way! Here we’ll discuss a few ways to keep your day in perspective and ways to avoid the mistakes that are so common and could ruin your day.

Over all strategy and pacing for your race day.

Even for the Elite athletes you will find that in triathlon there are far more things to do wrong then right. What I mean is whether you’re finishing your first triathlon or winning Kona its more about not messing up, not making a mistake rather than being supper tough or “pushing through the pain” or mustering up some magical effort on that day. So, let’s talk about the big picture.

Don’t do something you haven’t done before. You’ve probably seen a few people come off the bike into T-2 leave their shoes on the pedals, swing one leg back over the seat and hit the ground running right as they arrive at the dismount line all in, what looks like, a very easy, fluid motion. Stay away from this! Unless you’ve done this 100 times in your every day rides stay away! Some other things to avoid include:

1) don’t ride up a hill harder than you have in training
2) don’t take a turn faster than you have before or are comfortable with.
3) don’t grab your water bottle with a different hand.
4) don’t eat or drink something you haven’t previously consumed during or before training.
Race day is about executing the skills you have on that day as well as possible, not thinking of something else at the spur of the moment. You will also notice that all of the things listed will not gain you much time. And if its your first time, don’t try to set any records.

Lets Break the race down.

Transitions/pre race: “You can’t win the race here but can certainly lose.”
You’re not racing to win today but the same ideas apply here. Take your time, relax, catch your breath, try to recover a bit from the swim or the bike, and focus on not making mistakes. And most important of all, breath… before you leave do a double check. Is your helmet on and buckled? Got all your water, anything else you need? OK… you sure? Ok, now go.
Keep things simple. Organize your gear by your bike in a small area. Less is more here. The less “stuff” you have to deal with, put on, take off, buckle, strap, flip over, the better.

I put the transitions section first because I see more errors and mistakes here than anywhere else. At every single race I hear about or see someone bolting out of transition to the run at mach 3 with their cycling helmet still on. Don’t be that person! And if you are its OK just laugh because it’s pretty funny.

Visualize: When you’re done with set up, walk down to the beach or wherever the swim start is, walk over to the swim exit, then walk up to the transition area (like you will in the race) take note of everything. How far is it? Look around, do some visualization. I am going to come out of the water, WALK up the beach, take the top of my wet suit off, into transition here and my bike is… ummm where’s my bike? See why we do this! Finding your bike is easy when there is no one else there and you’re right next to it. Finding it when you come into this huge transition area from another direction with hundreds of bikes around and water in your ears is a completely different animal.

Our 4 key tips for each section of the race:


1) If you’re a bit worried about everyone crawling over you start at the back.

2) Go easy! The swim is designed to blow your race. Swiming is a hard full body sport. Relax, find a rhythm and go. You’re pumped up, you’re excited it’s the beginning of the race, you will likely go to hard. Try and relax. Swimming too hard will have you hyperventilating in 3 minutes or less. Focus on form and breathing.

3) Keep moving. You’re going to contact other racers, they are going to contact you, and it’s ok, this is what happens when 100’s of people all need to get around the same buoy in the same few square feet. Just keep swimming.

4) Look where you’re going every 3-5 strokes. If you get a good feel for going straight go longer (5-10 strokes) before looking.

1) Make sure it works and is safe. Are the tires in good shape and pumped up? Do the brakes work and is everything is tight and in order?

2) Pay attention!! If another rider does something dumb and you crash down its still your fault and it’s your road rash. Take responsibility! Watch for Dirt on turns, other riders, glass in the road, cars, pot holes, rocks, and more. Just like you do every other ride. Take responsibility for yourself!

3) Stay steady! YOU dictate your pace, not the road. Don’t ride too hard on hills and in head winds. These elements will be harder than the flats but stay steady. Conversely go easier on fast sections; down hills, tail winds, etc. and recover a bit. Keep your cadence up, use all the gear on that bike. Don’t sprint out of turns and up short hills.
4) Fuel up! Remember, you still have to run. It’s easier to eat and drink on the bike and fluids are most important here. Just keep a steady, consistent flow in regards to fueling.

1) Relax! The first few minutes will be the hardest. Your legs will take a few minutes to adjust. Go slow and stay positive. Find a sustainable rhythm. Find a pace you know you can finish. If the fastest 5k you have ever run is an 8 min/mile pace don’t start at 7:30’s. In fact don’t start at 8 min/ miles. You will likely lose 7%, maybe more on your run from a standalone running race.

2) Focus on form. Keep your head up, smile, keep a short stride and quick cadence. Stay light on your feet. If you start plodding along and hammering the road you’ll just make it harder on yourself. Run forward, not up and down.

3) Keep cool with water over your head, on the legs and in the system! You may be only a few miles from the finish but it’s going to take much longer than the last few miles on the bike, way longer! Stay hydrated and cool. Water in the system and over your head will help keep your core temperature down.

4) Walk for 30 sec. -1 min. before you blow up completely. Don’t push yourself to the brink before you compromise your pace. Walking through feed zones is a common practice. Relax, get your water and/or calories with ease and less stress, catch your breath and then get back to work. You’re almost there!

So remember this is YOUR race, your day. Don’t get sucked into trying to catch the dude with the disk wheel on his/her bike. Don’t let a few people bumping into you on the swim ruin your whole day. Be ready for it. Stay relaxed but ready. Be in the Now. Look and think about where you are and where you’re heading in the next 30 seconds to a minute or so. If you’re on the bike, don’t worry about the run… yet.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Training in Training races

It’s that time of year when we all start to race or think about it. For many of us some of these first races are non- priority races or “training races”. There are a few different ideas as to what a training race is and how it should be done. Some people think that it just means you don’t taper and “train through it” giving us a nice excuse for not doing well. In fact a training race is a prime opportunity to get great training, important experience and test our self’s in the exact environment that we are trying to excel in the first place. Here are a few key points to consider and plan out when doing your early season race’s and race simulation workouts.

1. Its still a Race: A training race is NOT a time to waist 100$ (or what ever) to swim, ride and run around in a circle with a bunch of other spandex clad freaks for the heck of it! It is an opportunity to really test your self, in the field and against your pears instead of your self. With this, aim for a specific, measurable goal. While this training race will not require a 3 week peeking phase you should take the few days before to make sure you are well rested and ready for a good effort, physically, mentally and with all your equipment working 100%! You have committed the money, time, energy, the sacrifice of getting up at, still dark out- thirty to meet at some random state park. Make it worth while!

2. Make a goal: If you have been working hard on your cycling all winter and spring, your first non-priority Tri of the year might be a good event to focus on the bike leg 100%. See how fast you can really go. How hard you can push your self, and how does that compare to your competition? If you know the course and/or the condition are very similar to last years race. See if you can beat that bike split of yours. Stay within 2’ of crazy Phil, the ex-Belgian pro road racer. Yes, the Bike leg is only 1 part of the whole triathlon conundrum but one step at a time, it’s a “training race” remember… On the other hand you and your coach, might be working on your cycling but aren’t to the point where you want to throw down yet. So focusing on a solid effort in the swim and/or run will be better suited, while your bike leg will be time to focus on being efficient and not extending your self too far as opposed to trying to break the sound barrier on the fast decent coming into T2. instead how fast/well can you run after riding steady smart and keeping your HR and/or wattage under a certain level?

3. Gain experience. Learn. A training race is a prim opportunity to learn. About your self, about your competition, your preparation, your fueling plan, your equipment, your warm up (or there lack of) if you run well in the wind, on the hills or down hills? How did you feel afterwards? Like you just parted the seas? Or do you feel recovered after 15’ of hanging out by the kiddy pool of Powerade and table of bananas, thinking “man I could have gone way harder?” The list goes on. Come the big race day you can’t afford to be caught off guard by something silly. A cross wind hitting your fancy new disc wheel, your cool new tri team tank top and tri shorts fitting right in your aero position, and how big are those pockets? Do they fit 1 or 2 cliff bars? Gaining as much experience about your self, and how your body works in a race situation will have you better prepared come the big day. This may not have you breaking any records but when the going gets tough the prepared shine trough. Anyone can post a personal best in there ideal conditions on there ideal terrain. You want a personal best in any conditions, on any terrain, on any decided day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

new Tech T's coming!

Medals not included

These run BIG. order one size SMALLER than you normally wear!

Order one size SMALL!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

train your lactate threshold without doing threshold...

Break that FTP plateau! Some athletes thrive on these workouts and can perform them better than steady efforts at 100% of threshold. Other suffer like never before. There is a reason weight lifters do many different types of chest exercises, all chest workouts are not created equal. Your threshold power or pace is the same way. I will frequently prescribe a 2-3 week block of threshold training for an athlete and not one of the threshold (Zone 4) workouts are the same. Why? Lots of reasons. To keep things fresh, to keep the body working and adapting as much as possible, to be specific, to “force the issue” as I sometimes say. 3x20 minutes at 90% of threshold and doing 3 min. on, 1’ off times 6 at 110% of your threshold are both “threshold” workouts, yet they can fell worlds apart.

The Over under or Crisscross interval is one you may have heard of or even done before. If you’re a cyclist you have defiantly done this maybe without even realizing it. There are many differ ways and variations to this workout. They are an interval with a given amount of time under your threshold, power or pace, and a given amount of time over it..

Here are a few of my favorite types of over under intervals

1. Bike: for time trialest or triathlete. 2x25 min. (4 min rest) done as, 4 min. zone 3/ 1min. in zone 5. Repeat for the length of the interval.

2. Bike: For the roadie, 2x25’ (4’rest) maybe done on a climb. Ride in zone 3-upper zone 3, every 3’ do a 20” kick spiking power to 10 watts per kilo of body weight then push Zone 5. Repeat for the 25’

3. Running. 30”on, 30” 0ff. on time is 5k pace or faster, off time is zone 2/ endurance pace. Repeat 20-30 times.

How they work:

What this does is it forces the body to recover from the harder effort while still working at a non recovery pace. By doing a short effort above your lactate threshold you start to build up lactate on your muscles. If it’s not too much you can recover from this by working very easy for some time. But with these intervals you keep the effort going at a hard but sub threshold, aerobic, pace (zone 3/ tempo). Now your body is trying to filter the waist, while keeping energy production fairly high! Also the repeated nature of these hard efforts will soon have you thinking efficiency. How can you hit that wattage or pace with as little wasted energy as possible? Believe me you will figure it out or pay dearly!

All of our training zones are related. Some more than others yes. “If your foundation is to small you can’t build a big, tall house.” Right. Well, if your roof is too small you can’t build a big main floor without it filling up with water, same thing. I have seen many athletes come to me and others pounding away at their threshold getting little results because their abilities above threshold are inadequate. Yes , you ironman triathletes still need to have some kind of minimum ability above threshold. These intervals are a great way to work that upper end a little bit while having an overall endurance flavor to your training session.

There place in the real world.

Train your weakness! This is The foundation of the ETG. If you’re looking at this thinking I don’t have to do that in a race why should I train that way? If you have been thinking this way for a few years chances are this type of thing is a weak area for you. We all have our strong points and weak ones, however, If a weakness is weak enough it will hold EVERYTHING back.

At bike race or a mtb race much of the time it feels like the winner still blows up just not as badly as everyone else. Or they are the ones that simply blow up last. When attacks are going in a road race it’s not the base pace that gets people dropped it’s the accelerations. The same can often can be said on climbs for the leaders. Mt bikers. This is your playground! Long hard steady efforts are what mt. bike racing is all about but you are constantly forced to deal with the terrain. That hill is steep! Any slower and you will have to put a foot down. Those little efforts to get over a rock or a log. So you Find yourself keeping up with every one for the first lap but then every one of those little tiny efforts you seem to lose more and more ground? These intervals can be your secret weapon to preparing for the final finishing climb. Or to simply get ready for the first races of the season.

For the TT guru or triathlete these can be a great threshold workout to add to your arsenal. Accelerating out of corners and not paying for it can mean an extra few seconds at the state TT championships and the difference between 1st and 4th place. In triathlons we try our best to be steady eddie on the bike. But its tough some times. This can provide not only some great training at your VO2 power but give you a little insurance for the mistakes we all make when were in the heat of battle.

Replace your next few boring threshold workouts with some of these interval sessions. See what happens.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Live webinar

Coach Ek talks Endurance training, periodization and the ETG.
this is a recording of teh 3/2/11 webinar. some of the slides are cut off yes but you wont miss anything.
this will be up until 3/9/11. after that date you can see the full version of the webinar and much more by joining the ETG
check it out here:

special start up rates until March 31st. get the best training and support for less than 150$ this year!