Wednesday, December 29, 2010

William Lee Christofferson: 1934-2010

My father passed away last night, around 10:30, in his home in Naples, Florida. His courageous eight plus year battle with four different cancers is now over. He was in his bed and resting comfortably when his time came. My mother and Sandy were able to care for him over his last few days.

I have many positive things to say of him but this is not the place nor the time. I am at peace with his passing and my relationship with him as my father and as a grandfather to my children. May he rest in peace and I trust that he is smiling upon us from heaven.

Thanks for your wishes, prayers and comments during his struggle.

Peace be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas (Sigh)

Hey everyone--here's to you and your families--may God bless you and may you have a wonderful holiday!

The good news is that all of my lil family is back together. Judy made an incredible Christmas Eve dinner tonight. Our kids opened their traditional ornament gifts and we also gave them our whole family pajama grams tonight--including Roxy:

This is a bit tempered by our expectation that my father will move on to the next adventure very soon. He is peaceful and without any apparent pain. My sister and mom are with him--for this I am thankful. I've had a lot of time to come to grips with his death and my relationship with him--my visit kast week was awesome. i talked to him tonight--perhaps for the last time.

Life does go on and I went over 10,000 miles on the bike for this year today. I know my father would want me to post this--life is to be lived with all the fervor that one can muster.

Anyways, hug your loved ones and be happy my friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My top ten experiences in triathlon over the last decade

I started doing triathlon in 2001 so this marks my first 10 years/decade in the sport. I'll be posting a lot of year-end/year ahead stuff in the days ahead but thought I would start with my view of the best of my career so far:

Top Ten Experiences of My First Triathlon Decade

1. Kona: October 9th, 2010

Kona is my most recent triathlon so perhaps my judgment is influenced by the freshness of the experience—but I doubt it. Kona 2010 was everything I wanted it to be. I was able to do all of the pre-race activities and then I raced the race that I set out to do. It was very challenging and of-course, I would have liked to be faster, but I thought I did it the right way. Much more talented athletes than I DNF’ed—something that I was not prepared to entertain.

Having Judy, Anders and Jenny there along with our friends the Prices was very special. Having Jenny greet me at the finish line was over the top. It was also the 100th triathlon of my career.

Kona was a dream I first had in 1982. It was my top and toughest goal in triathlon. I tried 11 times prior to qualify and I finally made it at Oceanside. I went to the Big Island and realized my dream. I’d like to go back, but if I never do, at least I had the privilege of doing it on this magical October day.

2. Ironman Florida: November 6th, 2004

IMFL was my first Ironman. A realization of the dream that I first hatched watching Julie Moss in 1982. I was further inspired by the 2003 IMFL race of local triathlete Mike Clark and would be closely aligned with him “tri-wise” until his untimely death in 2008.

I signed up for IMFL before I was ready physically or mentally. However, once crossing the Rubicon, I was able to dedicate myself throughout 2004 and arrived down in Panama City with enough in the tank to have a legitimate shot at making it.

My swim was solid and my bike more than so. I had some tough moments on the run but persevered and crossed the finish line in 11:31:29. Kara ran the last 100 yards with me, and my parents, Judy, Jenny and Alex were also there to greet me. They say there is nothing like your first Ironman finish and they are right!

3. White Lake Half-Ironman: May 5th, 2007

In my training prior to my big events I often imagine/visualize myself having a “perfect” race. At White Lake in 2007 I had that race. I had been training with Peter Reid as my coach for about six months and we aimed for White Lake as our first real test of my fitness gains. At stake was a spot on the U. S. Long-Course Championship Team and a chance to gauge myself against two first rate athletes: Lou Almekinders (a perennial All-American and Team USA member and a man who was previously ranked 7th in the nation in our AG) and Bill Edwards (a multiple Kona qualifier who two years prior had done a 10:09 IM and was ranked 16th in the country).

I had a solid swim and followed it up with an AG leading 2:24 bike split. I left T2 with a 5-minute lead on these two very strong runners. Then the unthinkable happened as I cranked out a 1:38:01 half-marathon to win my AG by over 7 minutes and ahead of 43 others. I ended up recording my best half-marathon split (including road races) and dropping 15 minutes from my H-IM best. Further, my 4:43:14 was a new M50-54 AG record for White Lake by over 5 minutes. Anders and I both qualified for the Worlds in France and I scored an 89+ USAT rating—my best ever—even to this day.

As perfect a race as I can ever imagine having!

4. Stone Harbor Triathlon: July 15th, 2001

My very first triathlon. I had vowed to do an Ironman in 1982 and when my financial advisor, Scott, challenged me to a triathlon in Stone Harbor in 2001, I decided it was probably time to get on it. I didn’t know what I was doing and it showed (for example the 10+ minute backstroke swim for the quarter mile). Scott whooped me even though it seemed to me that I was both a better athlete and in better shape. I did catch the bug and vowed to come back in 2002 and avenge my defeat. Which I did. A lot of the great experiences I’ve had since are a result of this day and my desire to get better at this sport.

5. Lake Lenape Triathlon: July 12th, 2003

Lake Lenape—a typical NJ sprint race—was my 10th triathlon. In the prior nine races, despite devoting a lot of very serious effort in 2002 and 2003 to get good at triathlon, I had still never been able to finish in the top 3 (podium) in my AG. Lenape is a very competitive race with close to 400 triathletes and on this day, 34 in my AG. While I believed in my training, and myself I certainly had no reason to believe that I could find my way to the top.

However, I surprised myself with a solid swim and then posted the #3 overall bike split. I ran scared but well enough to think that maybe I had a chance. At that point in my career, my tactical awareness was pretty poor so I was quite surprised when I checked the results to find that I had not only podiumed but that I had won my first AG title. Since then I’ve gone on to win 28 times and been on the podium 60. But it was that first victory at Lenape that opened the door.

6. Spring Training

I’ve had the privilege to travel with Anders to four separate spring training sessions. Once in Provence, twice in the Costa Brava—north of Barcelona, and once in Tucson. These were extraordinary experiences for Anders and I. We made tremendous progress in our fitness. We experienced some incredible things and did it with a great cast of fellow triathletes and cyclists.

We raced up Mount Ventoux on a truly epic day. We lounged in St. Tropez. We saw Barca play Real Madrid in a fantastic football game. We climbed Angels and had Cappuccino in Gerona—just like Lance. We climbed Lemmon with Pete Reid and did an epic brick with Sam McGlone. I was able to get into a successful break with Sam and TJ and drop Pete at Gates—the stuff of dreams.

And all through it all was the most quality of times with my adventure partner, Anders.

7. Avalon Islandman: July 2nd, 2006

This is the first race where my tri-partner, Anders took me down. He had come close in a couple of prior races—where I perhaps had a bit of an off day. Not today however, I was on my game and raced an excellent race. But Anders, with is dedication to the craft and rapidly increasing fitness was just simply better and he beat me by 38 seconds.

My honest reaction was immense pride. When I did well, I didn’t want to brag about it (too much), but with Anders performance I let everyone know what a strong triathlete he had become.

Later we cheered Alex on in his first triathlon. He took a whack across the race and soldiered on with bloody lips. A great day for the C-Boys!

8. Ironman Western Australia: November 27th, 2005

After I finished my first IM (IMFL 2004), Judy threw a party for me back in Delaware. Anders was a freshman at George Washington and he came home for the festivities. He caught the bug that night. He told me he wanted to do an IM as well. I suggested that maybe he should first train for a while and then see if he could complete a Half-Ironman. We agreed that if he did so then we would sign up to do a full Ironman together.

Anders followed through and in June of 2005 he was fit enough to complete Eagleman—and he still wanted to do an Ironman. The only one available at that point happened to be on the other side of the globe, in Busselton, Western Australia. So we signed up.

In between we were both involved in car accidents, mine causing a full separation of the AC joint of my shoulder. I also torn my meniscus a few weeks before the race and could no longer run.

None-the-less, a plan is a plan, and we ventured forth and overcame very challenging conditions (wind, large waves, lightning, and finally oppressive heat) to both finish. Nothing like a first Ironman and we both reveled in Anders’ first IM experience.

The trek home was no less challenging as it involved a death on the plane and an emergency landing well short of our destination. The trip home ended up being a 40-hour ordeal but we survived and we were now both Ironmen.

9. Metroman: May 20th, 2007

We signed up for this race because there was a parent/child competition. We envisioned racing against the Holmes—an outstanding father/son pair of All-American triathletes. We were both in tremendous shape having both obliterated our Half-Ironman personal bests at White Lake two weeks before.

We both cranked it and ended up finishing 2nd (Anders) and 3rd (me) overall. We won the parent/child competition by over an hour. We were both into that magical groove that we both experienced in 2007. After the race we cruised the parking lot blasting our theme song (Heavy Rotation)—we were very much on top of our game.

10. Cadence Kona Challenge: October 20th-21st, 2007

The Cadence Kona Challenge was a promotional event sponsored by Cadence Cycling and Triathlete magazine. It was (in theory) to help a couple of people get to Kona. Thousands of people applied by completing an extensive questionnaire and they invited 100 to a weekend in NYC to pick the 6 winners. I was one of the 100.

There were four prime parts to the Challenge. On Saturday we had a test of our Functional Threshold Power on the bike and a max run performance over 12 minutes. The top 10 from these tests would advance to the finals on Sunday.

I was in the last wave of 10 for the bike test. These were all the old people of which I was the oldest male. The top Computrainer measured power for the 20-minute test prior to my wave was 307 watts. My good friend, Steve Delmonte (a better cyclist than me) was second at 303 watts. While I own a Computrainer, I really had no idea what I could do. I knew I was a very strong cyclist and that I was in tremendous shape (and in the early phases of my IM taper)—just before my “A” race—IMFL 2007. I also knew if I was to advance, it would be based on this bike test.

We were in a room with ten bikes with all of our performance data displayed on a number of big screens in front of us. In the room were the Cadence staff and the Challenge judges as well as many of the prior competitors—it had a real hop to it.

I thought it best to start conservatively and see how it felt—I rode the first 5 minutes at 280 watts and felt very comfortable and I was able to rapidly gap my fellow riders in wave 10. I decided to go for it—maybe I could get third behind Steve. I pushed my effort up to 300-320 watts and found the effort challenging but still doable. At the end of 10 minutes, my average power had climbed to 293 watts.

I had a decision to make. Nurse it and shoot for the top 5 or just go for it. I decided to pursue the latter. I took a towel and put it over my head and closed my eyes as I just lay out in the aero position. I didn’t want to watch my power and I just decided to just go for it—try to feel the most power I could. I checked my HR monitor/chrono a couple of times and saw I was pushing over 170 bpm—I was maxing out. I felt a hand rubbing my lower back and I heard many people urging me on by name.

At 15 minutes I looked up and saw that I was at 302 watts of average power. I looked around and saw and heard people screaming and urging me to push harder. I decided that I was going to beat that 307-watt standard. It was like a dream. I felt such strength but at the same time I was in extraordinary pain.

I tried to “hold back” a bit while edging my average watts upward. Steve Delmonte, the incredible sport and man that he is, was right there with me urging me on helping me climb this last wall of pain. I knew if I got close with a minute to go I could do it. At 19 minutes I was at 305 watts and I let it fly. I was pushing 400 watts and people were screaming at me. I hit 306 watts with 45 seconds to go and hit 307 watts with 25 left. As I hit 15 seconds I stood up and gave it everything and saw the number click over to 308 with 7 seconds left. I held it through to the end and I had achieved the top bike performance of the competition.

The rest is far less dramatic. I did well enough on the run to make the finals and on Sunday, I swam decent enough in the endless pool and was a strong enough interview that I was picked to win the $30,000 package that the six of us won.

But the best part, and so strange to think it would be better than so many other Tri experiences that I’ve had, was that magical 20 minutes on the bike. Thanks Steve!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Even us triathletes need a little T.S. Elliot/Andrew Lloyd Webber every now and then...

(Daylight, see the dew on a sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day.)

Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement.
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone.
In the lamplight the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan.

Memory. All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days,
I was beautiful then.
I remember the time I knew what happiness was,
Let the memory live again.

Every street lamp seems to beat a fatalistic warning.
Someone mutters and a street lamp gutters and soon it will be morning.

Daylight. I must wait for the sunrise,
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in.
When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin.

Burnt out ends of smokey days, the stale cold smell of morning.
The street lamp dies, another night is over, another day is dawning.

(Sunlight, through the trees in summer
Endless masquerading
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading.)

Touch me. It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun.
If you touch me you'll understand what happiness is.
Look, a new day has begun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Philly is the new New York!

What a great week for Philly fans! Cliff Lee--R2C2--could be the best of all time! Flyers are number one. U of D going to the Nat Championship. Sixers (!!!!!) are on a roll. And then, how about them Eagles tonight--blows your mind!

New York is so yesterday!!!!

Anyways, back on the home front:

4000 yards swimming
172 on the bike
34 running
and 16 hours total this week

Good effort, given everything that is going on work and fam wise.

As i mentioned earlier--my knee and run feel pretty darn good (for me)

All good

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good work today

Today was encouraging! Just being back home and getting somewhat normal sleep and making a nice chicken dinner really helps I think.

On the bike I spun easy for an hour and then did: 30min/10/10/10@250 watts with 5 minutes easy in between. This power is 91% of my current 275 watt FTP. It is also 85% of my 2007 FTP of 293 watts. 85% is roughly my targeted work rate for a Half-ironman effort. My plan is to try to drive my FTP up to 293 or so again and then try to train myself to be able to complete a computrainer workout that looks something like: 60 min/30/30@250 watts with 5 easy in between. If I can get there before Oceanside (and Steelhead for that matter) I should be able to deliver a very competitive bike split.

To put this in perspective. The last time I did Eagleman I did a 2:24 on an average power of 221 watts. This is 23.3 mph. At 250 watts, theoretically, I'd be able to go 4.2% faster (given the cubic relatiobship between power and speed) than this or 24.3 mph. this would translate into a 2:18. There just aren't many guys in my AG that can touch that. It's a long way from 30/10/10/10 to 60/30/30 but that's where I'm heading. Next week I'll do 40/20/10 and we'll see how it goes.

After the bike I went right out and ran 6 miles at a comfy 8:30 pace. I thought my knee might tweak out on me but I really focused on my left leg alignment and I was able to run pain free after the first 5 minutes. People now tell me that I look like I'm limping when i run which is probably a reflection of my management of my gait to minimize the pain. My recent streak of stronger running continues and I'm thinking about pushing into the 40s next week--before we head to Rome.

Then did an easy 2000 yards in the pool--just maintenance work. My real swim work won't begin untill January.

Almost 4 hours of work today and reasonable quality. I feel pretty good. It's only December 17th. I'm very motivated. 2011 could get good.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On a Cheerier Note....

I've been crossing my fingers on this but at this point it does appear to be a trend....

My runs have been almost pain-free over the last couple of weeks. I was over 30 miles last week and will do so again this week. I'm feeling improved strength on some of my runs--feels like my run fitness is beginning to improve....

Long way to go but this is quite positive news....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Grand Illusion

2001, when I started, I was your basic "athlete" who signed up for a triathlon

I did "well", in that context, but not really from a true human performance standard

I caught the bug

I've been getting better (albeit older) almost ever sinse

In reality, it's the Grand Illusion--and yes, I am a closet Styx fan--happiness is a low base!


So as you know I was down in Naples with my rents last week

As i told you, my dad was not doing well, and in my view was unlikely to walk amongst us much longer

This turns out to be true (MRI results are back, CNS Lymphoma back, needs Chemo, never solved the kidney thing, oops...3 or 4 months)

this blog is not about Cancer--although, I'd like to be on the record as against it as it really does suck

this blog is about vitality and age and how one creates an illusion about the other

everyting cool about youth and vitality

less things cool about age and the diminishment of vitality


watching my dad waste away, and the impact on my mother, and more importantly the impact on the human being that is my father, is devastating....the affront on human a universe that I designed this would not happen!

my dad never was cut out to be a hero, but in this cancer battle, the one he should have lost many years ago, he has, almost unwittingly, emerged as a hero

because of this, it is so sad to see that illusion of his strength shattered...not much longer now


so, this blog is not about that (or is it?) but really (?) about the nitty-gritty of the triathlon/adventure, here it is:

despite my father's situation and my many days of travel, I, upon arriving finally at home once again, undertook a FTP20 test today. 289 watts was my last high level mark and I set out to push it well into the 290s. By 6-7 minutes I began to feel my limitations. I did not have it. I ended up having to do 4 segments for 10/5/2.5/2.5 minutes@ 292 watts with 5 minutes rest in between--a very far cry from what I wanted (expected)

probably a bad day--I've been running my non-tri life raged recently

and don't get me wrong, I know almost everyone else in my age group that I race against, would kill for these peformacne numbers on the bike...

but still, with my father, I'm so very much more aware of my oldness

I am old and getting older

And while, the tri thing is a bit of a fountain of youth, and such a compelling force in my life, it is truly a Grand Illusion

I see the future and it is not good


All the more reason to enjoy the now


Wish I was better with people and relationships--will have to work on that--it would be embarrassing to have no one come to my funeral--but maybe I wouldn't notice


My kids (and wife, Judy) are fantastic

I could go on and on about them...especially Judy, but this next bit is about the kids:

Jenny is killing at Loyola Grad School

Kara's play the last two nights at Playwright's was fantastic

Alex, screwed up a very easy question on his math PSAT--if he hadn't, he would have scored 800

And Anders, due to his vision and commitment, was accepted into Harvard Business School yesterday


Life is for the young--and it should be

I'm old (and getting older)

Time to man up!


Thanks for reading

Sunday, December 12, 2010

busy times

Down in Florida visiting my parents for most of the week and then up in Boston reuniting with a lot of the old Boston/Bain gang. Lots of travel and lots of time away creates a few obstacles training wise.

Also very sad to see where my father is at. he is going downhill very quickly and I fear will not walk among us much longer. Very challenging situation for my mother as well. It was nice to pitch in a bit and i did enjoy my time with them for sure.

Training wise this week I did manage to squeeze in enough quality and quantity to feel like I'm making progress:

4000 yards swimming
163 miles on the bike
32 miles running
15.3 hours training

Decided to not race the Rehoboth half-marathon. the last minute addition of a trip yesterday up to Boston knocked it off the list. probably a good thing given how much I've been running around.

Up to New York tomorrow for three days and then will be back in Wilmington for a little stretch--I'll need to heavy up when i get back....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

jimmy V

Down in Naples, Fla with my parents. Watching the Jimmy V Classic BB tourney--MSU vs Syracuse.

Watched the famous Jimmy V ESPY speech shortly before he died of cancer. Hard not to feel it having spent some quality with my father with his bout with 4 types of cancer....

my knee hurts less

Monday, December 6, 2010

easy week

with the travel the last week worked out to be a bit of a rest week--probably needed it....more travel this week (and the next two)--December is crazy--I'll just try to do what I can.

Stats for the week:

4000 yards swim
128 miles bike
22 miles run
11:53 training time

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010--a month that was!

25,000 yards swimming
828 miles on the bike
108 miles running
75:15 training

A good "pivot" month from the highs and recovery period of Kona in October.

I made execellent progress in rebuilding my high-end bike speed with Project FTP.
A solid "reacquaintance" with the pool--time to start building fitness
Have not been able to build my run as I wanted with unexpected knee pain
Lots of distractions
Overall volume of training is at desired level (70-80 hours)
Need to add run speed, continue bike progress, start speed work in the swim, and maintain body composition in December

On my way to Minnesota and probably (due to schedule) a bit of a rest period over these next 3-4 guess is that it will be beneficial.

Monday, November 29, 2010

FTP20=289 watts!

very tired legs but project FTP is working! Up 14 watts in 6 weeks.

FCB (Barca) rules!!!! 5-0 against Real Madrid in the Clasico--brings back memories of when AC and I were there...

off to Minnesota tomorrow

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A little run down

Feeling a bit run down this week. Perhaps the focus on intensity on the bike is catching up to me. I have been fighting a bit of a cold so perhaps it is more that--of course they could all be related.

Also, lot's going on with Thanksgiving and the usual end of the year busy-ness....

I did participate in the Delaware State Cross Country Championship on Saturday--really enjoyed it and comfortably cruised to a MOP finish.

The "good" news is that next week I'm helping move my brother's stuff out to Minnesota so this will force a bit of a rest week--probably will be beneficial.

Stats for the week (yes I know my run total is disappointing):

Swim: 7000 yards
Bike: 192 miles
Run: 21.5 miles
Time: 17.1 hours

I do feel my 53 years this week. My knee has been much more problematic post Kona. I'm hoping my last injection-cycle was uncharateristicly ineffective. I'll probably get a new cycle in January. However, if this is the new normal, I won't be running nearly enough to get what I want out of this body. If so, I'll adapt but at this point I assume I'm struggling through a temporary phase.

These are the times that try the soul but steel the heart.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Competitiveness: An evaluation of the attribute and not the virtue

OK--most folks know me as a competitive dude. We could debate that, but this is not about that virtue. what this is about is how competitive I am when I race triathlons. This is an attribute that can be used to describe me.

To do this I went to the data and evaluated all of my short course/non-national events and compared myself to the person that won my AG in each race or, in those happy times, the guy that was second to me. This turned out to be 73 of the 100 races that I have done so far. I tracked on average how much I was ahead or behind the #1 or #2 guy (as the case may be) for each race I did between 2001-2010 (ten years). I also broke this down by individual discipline splits (swim, bike, run). Since each race varies in discipline and aggregate distance, I then created a synthethic race of 0.25 mile swim/11 mile bike/3.1 mile run as a standard sprint race to compare myself against my closest competitor over time and by discipline.

I believe this is a very powerful indicator of how competitive I am versus my top competitor in my AG in my most typical race--a local sprint. I think that looking at the trends in this data tells me a great deal about how competitive I am in these races and most importantly, what I need to work on.

Enough said. Let's look at the data (click on the charts to see them more clearly; 1=2001 and 10=2010):

This is a graph of my competiveness in the swim. As you can see, my swim has been a competitive liability for most of my triathlon career. In 2001 I lost over 4 minutes in a 0.25 mile swim. However, I have steadily improved my swim competitiveness and for the first time in 2010, my swim was an actual competiive asset. this gives me great confidence in what I'm doing with my swim and consequently my 2011 training plan is to do more of the same.

Here is the graph for my bike leg:

After my poor first year, I've always enjoyed a significant advantage on the bike. This peaked in 2007 when I worked with Pete Reid and was still pretty strong in 2008 and 2009--over 2 minutes against my main competitor. However, the graph clearly shows my fall off in 2010. This is the "minute" that I feel that I have lost against my competition and is the main reason I am pursuing "Project FTP"

The run looks like this:

As you can see, my run is not nearly a pretty a picture. It has always been a real liability for me. However, in 2007-2009 I was able to neutralize most of this disadvantage. However, in 2010 with my hip issues, I had a major set-back competitively. This is my most urgent competive issue for 2011. This will be a major focus on my training efforts on the run, and the bike.

Overall--this is what it looks like:

You can clearly see how I've been able to improve my competitiveness over the years--this frankly is a principal design objective of my training and racing plans. However, the trends over the last two years are not positive (of course these could be in-part related to me getting up there in the 50-54 YO AG). I intend to change this in 2011--I'll improve my bike by a minute or so and hopefully my run as well....

that's the plan

Kona 2010 Photos

Here is a large batch of photos that anders took of the pros at Kona this year:

2011 Race Plan

Getting a pretty good picture of what I'd like the 2011 racing season to look like.

First off, my "A" or "A-" races. My biggest race in 2011 will be IMAZ on 11/20. This is the race I'll try to requalify for Kona at--this would be Kona 2012. Unless I get lucky in the lottery, no Kona in 2011 (no surprise there). I also plan to race two IM70.3s: Oceanside on 4/2 and Steelhead on 8/14. If I get lucky and qualify for the IM70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas in September then I'd probably add that as well.

The nice thing about NOT having a mid-summer IM is that I can focus most of my racing season on short fast stuff. I plan to adjust my training up through August to be consistent with that--it'll be nice to spend less time training long and more time training fast! Project FTP is a major step in that regard.

I do think I'll end up doing a lot of races in 2011 as a result of being focused on short and fast. That should be fun. I could see doing 20 triathlons or so in 2011--the most I've ever done prior is 14. As I've mentioned before, I plan to try to do many more Olympic distance races this year. I've only done 7 to date and would like to get close to that in 2011.

My current plan is to start the 2011 racing season with a sprint down in North Carolina in mid March--this would be a tune-up for Oceanside in early April. Also in April would be a couple of Virginia races--a return to Angel's after a few year hiatus and my first Oly down in Rumpass.

My early plan for May is a heavy month of racing: Bassman, Devilman and Hammonton. Plus two Olys: Red Bank and Columbia. Columbia is a major, competitive Oly and one that's been on my list to do for years.

If my body holds up then June will be more of the same with the featured races being a return for my 8th consecutive season at St. Andrews and for the first time the Philly Olympic distance race.

July will be mostly New Jersey sprints and a return to Walker Minnesota for their lovely triathlon.

As August rolls in their will be a decided shift in direction to long distance training. I plan to do Steelhead in August and the Livestrong 100 mile ride. In September I'll do the Pine Barrens Oly and Skipjack, which is right up my alley with a 1.2 mile swim, 64 mile bike and 10 mile run. Then comes IMAZ and hopefully a great deal of luck to send me back to Kona in 2012.

I'm psyched!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week totals: 3rd week of Nov 2010

6000 yds in the pool
191 miles on the bike
32 miles running
19:48 total training time

I was able to get my run mileage up above 30 miles for the first time since Kona. I think it will be critical for me to consistently keep the weekly run volume in the 30-50 mile range. The challenge will be how my knee deals with it. It is quite sore tonight after my 11.5 mile run this afternoon....time will tell!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Project FTP Microcycle One complete

Project FTP consists of 4 four-week cycles of 10 computrainer workouts design to raise my FTP back up to the range it was in in 2007 (290-300 watts). I just completed the first of these four-week cycles. As a reminder, each cycle consists of 10 workouts: 4 20 min max output tests (FTP20); 3 interval sets at 85-90% of my FTP ("sweet spot" intervals); and 3 interval sets @ 115% of my FTP (max VO2). The last set of sweet spot intervals was 2X20 min @230 watts with a 5 minute spin in between. the last set of max VO2 intervals were 10X2 minutes @ 300 watts with 3 min spin in between.

My FTP tested out at 261 watts at the beginning of this cycle and ended at 270 watts at the end of the cycle.

The total work for these 10 sessions was 228 minutes @ an average power of 264 watts for 3612 kilojoules.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Project FTP update

OK--I have the first 4 tests in the book (as well as the associated speed work). As a reminder, the purpose of this project is to rebuild my Functional Threshold Power on my bike back to my late 2007 levels (my PB when I won the Cadence Kona Challenge) by March 2011. That boggie is 307 watts. Here is what has happened so far:

Test 1: 10/25.....275 watts
Test 2: 11/1.......280 watts.....1.8% improvement.....16% of the way to reaching goal
Test 3: 11/8.......278 watts.....1.1% improvement.........9% of the way to raching goal
Test 4: 11/17.....284 watts.....3.3% improvement.....28% of the way to reaching goal

I can definitely feel the improvements in my legs. Of-course, progress will come slower in the weeks and months ahead but I am pleased with this start and see no reason why I can't achieve this power improvement.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

week totals: 2nd week of Nov 2010

4000 yards swim
208 miles bike
24.8 miles run
17.6 hours training

skipped a swim w/o due to conflicts
did 278 watts in FTP20 test (after a 45 minute run)
run was hurt a bit by jammed toe joint and knee soreness

I'd like to get swim up to 6k+ and run over 30 this week....

2010: A first analytical look at my competitiveness

As you know, I am evaluating options and beginning to plan for the 2011 season. As part of that, I analyze my past year and see what I can learn from the results.

One of the analyses I've performed this year was to take a look at how I fared versus my top AG competitor in each of my 10 short-course races. I focus on short course due to the wide variation in performance in my LC races and because I do enough of them to get some meaningful data to compare--especially across years. In this analysis, I'm comparing against the person that won my AG in each race, or against the 2nd place person, if I was the winner. In 2011, I won 4 races, finished 2nd in another 4 and 3rd once. I had one 5th place finish at Stone Harbor, which was 2 weeks after IM Germany and generally a bad idea. I looked at how I did in each of the three disciplines against the top competitor:

Swim: I was faster than my top competitor in 8 of the 10 swims and across the 10 races i was cumulatively 6:00 faster or on average, I enjoyed a 36 second advantage leaving the swim.

Bike: I was also faster in 8 of the 10 bike splits and enjoyed an aggregate advantage of 23:16 or 2:20 on average.

Transitions: I was 88 seconds faster cumulatively in transitions or about 9 seconds per race.

Run: Here, I was never faster than my main competitor and gave up 31:20 cumulatively during 2010. This averages out to be 3:08 per race.

Putting it together:

Swim: + 6:00
Bike: +23:16
Tran: + 1:28
Run: (31:20)

Total: (0:36)

So my strength in the swim, and especially the bike essentially cancel out my weakness in the run.

Now my strength in the swim is a new thing as I had a breakthrough year in 2010. Alas, the weakness in the run is also becomming a bigger factor as of late. Below find my overall %-tile in each of the 3 disciplines by year (short course races):


2002:64 2003:54 2004:75 2005:57 2006:76 2007:75 2008:81 2009:76 2010:91


2002:94 2003:91 2004:98 2005:97 2006:97 2007:96 2008:97 2009:94 2010:96


2002:77 2003:59 2004:75 2005:83 2006:77 2007:80 2008:78 2009:70 2010:70


2002:86 2003:76 2004:90 2005:92 2006:91 2007:92 2008:93 2009:89 2010:91

Several conclusions can be drawn from the above:

-I was a stronger runner than swimmer up through 2007. By 2010, I was a much better swimmer than runner.
-I peaked as a runner in 2005 and held steady through 2008. The last two years my run has really suffered.
-I've steadily improved in swimming and really made a breakthrough in 2010.
-My bike has always been strong but seemed to peak in 2004. I had a nice rebound in 2010 from a bit of a fall-off in 2009.
-Overall, my best year was 2008, although I actually think it was 2007. 2010 was again a bit of a rebound year.

Putting it all together, my run is my vulnerability and what I must make progress on in 2011. I'm working on that now but as you'll see, I keep bumping up against the limitations of my bad left knee.

I've also concluded that if I'm able to improve my top-end on the bike and race more comfortably on the bike leg that my run will also improve, so I'm working hard on that as well--thus the origin of Project FTP. I think I can bring my bike back to the level I enjoyed in 2004-2008 and that this will help boost my run.

As you can see, the 2011 plan is still a work in progress....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life After Kona---Or where do we go from here?

I feel a little like the poor guy who always used to bad mouth the rich. Then one day I got to live the life of a rich man and loved it. Then I was banished back to being a poor guy again...and now I wish I could go back....

So it is with Kona!

The reality is I probably won't be able to and if that is so, what should my triathlon focus/objcectives be?

I'm working on 2011 and will get a plan together soon...

Elements will include:

Oceanside--but no Kona slot this year with the XC changes
IMAZ--my next real attempt at Kona--but for Kona 2012.
4-6 Olympic distance races--the first time I've gone after that distance (I've only done 7 so far)
Maybe another 70.3 and maybe take a shot at the 70.3 World Chapionship in Las Vegas
Lots of fun sprints

for sure--early season focus on speed/turn to IM training as late as August...

I wish I could go back--I'm happy I got to go!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

22 Blues

Ran a 5k yesterday in 22:22. I could lay out my excuses again (it was cold, windy and the course seemed long) but I just can't seem to go fast at 5k this year. I have to call a spade a spade--my run speed is horrible. I'm not giving up of-course but man, I need to get my 5k time down below 21 as soon as possible!

Continue to work on my plan for 2011--still a few unknowns so I have some more work to do.

Training wise I jumped back in the pool again this week--just a couple of easy swims--will do more this week. Hit 280 watts on my FTP20 test--up 5 watts from the first week. Stats for the week:

4000 yards swim
180 miles on bike
18 miles run
14:46 training time

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ready to look ahead to 2011

Although I'm still very much basking in the "glory" of my Kona experience I'm beginning to turn my attention to 2011. I have begun to map out a race plan for next year and will share that here in the next couple of weeks as I sort through all of my options.

I've taken it relatively easy the 3 weeks (since Kona) but now am motivated to begin pointing my training towards my 2011 campaign. Here is what last week and the month of October looked like training wise:

Last week:

154 miles on the bike
19 miles running
13 hours training


14.5k swimming (nothing since Kona)
560 miles on the bike
87 miles running
55 hours training

I'll share a more detailed overview of my 2011 training plan in the next couple of weeks but a key component will be to really focus on intensity in both the bike and run. In fact, increasing my FTP on the bike will be the principle focus of my winter months. My "off-year" in 2009, my IM focus over the last few years, and my increasing age have all led to what is (in my honest judement) a pretty significant fall-off in my FTP on the bike. This has impacted my racing at all distances, from sprint to IM. In sprint races I used to always have a top 5 bike and occassionally have the fastest overall. This past year it's been more frequently top 10 or 15 with an occassional top 5. I'm still a strong cyclist but I've lost that edge that I once enjoyed. This costs me 1-2 minutes in sprints and probably 5-10 minutes in my half-IMs and more in my IMs.

I've decided I need to work aggressively to get it back. To do so I have launched "Project FTP300". In 2007, when I had the top FTP in the Cadence Kona Challenge (out of 100 finalists) I averaged 308 watts in a 20 minute CP test. This translates into a FTP of 293 watts. Over the next 4 months I intend to follow a very specific training protocol to get back to those levels or higher. I intend to execute 40 workouts that I believe collectively have a good chance of returning me to this prior level of cycling capability. Basically, I'll execute 2 cycles each month of the following 5 workouts (this does not include warm-up/warm-down, just the high intensity parts):

1: 20 minutes--highest possible average watts (set FTP=.95 of this number)
2. 2-3 X 20 minutes @90-95% of FTP with 5 min rest inbtw
3. 8-10 reps of 3 min @ 115% of FTP with 2 min rest inbtw
4. same as number 1
5. either 2 or 3

In the second week where I just do 2 of the hard workouts I'll substitute a full rest day.

I started this week and here are the results for workouts 1-3:

1. 20 minutes @ 275 average watts (FTP=261 watts)
2. 20 minutes @ 250 (96%)/5 min rest/10 minutes @ 250
3. 6 X 2 minutes @ 300 watts (115%)

On average this is 62 minutes @ 268 watts

I obviously have a long way to go--by March I want to be able to do:

1. 20 minutes @ 308-315 watts
2. 3 x 20 min@ 290-300 watts
3. 10 x 3min @ 335-345 watts

Stay tuned for future reports

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 Ironman World Championship Race Report

2010 Ironman World Championship
October 9th, 2010


The Big Dance—I’m finally here! It’s race number 100 of my triathlon career and number 14 of the 2010 campaign. It’s also my 8th Ironman. But really, it’s the most important triathlon I’ve ever competed in.

I arrived in Kailua-Kona on the big island of Hawaii a week in advance. Judy joined me on Tuesday and Anders and Jenny on Thursday of race week. My early arrival was to facilitate some acclimatization to the heat and humidity of Kona and to provide an opportunity for me to “soak it all in”. I certainly did the later! I visited the Volcanoes National Park and climbed Mauna Kea (13,796 feet) to see the sun set far below me. I hit Lava Java’s and watched the triathlon world stream by on Ali’i Drive. I swam down at the Pier and ventured out to the swim-up espresso bar. I ran at the Natural Energy Lab and rode on the Queen K. I tested the crosswinds on the climb to and from Hawi. Judy and I did the Underpants Run and the Parade of Nations. I really felt like I did it all but still had plenty of time to relax and get ready for the Ironman.

This is a race I first vowed I would do back in 1982 when I saw Julie Moss do her thing on that famous ABC broadcast. I started my triathlon career 10 years ago and in the interim I have finished 7 Ironman triathlons and another 92 triathlons of different flavors. Through the years, I repeatedly tried to qualify for Kona but always seemed to fall short. I came close a couple of times, but never quite made it. Finally, in my 11th attempt, in March of this year I broke through by winning the 50+ Executive Challenge (XC) Age Group at Ironman California70.3—a half-Ironman in Oceanside, California. My 2010 year has been focused on Kona ever since.

My objectives for the race were simply to enjoy the experience and to finish the race—everything else, including my time was secondary. My guiding values were: Perspective, Patience and Persistence. I wanted to remember to really look around and enjoy the race. I knew I needed to stay in the moment and deal with each challenge as it came. And above all, I needed to keep moving forward until I was rewarded with that climatic run down Ali’i Drive sometime on Saturday evening. What follows is a race report of my experiences competing in the 33rd annual Ironman World Championship.

Race Morning

We were staying in a nice two-bedroom suite about 15 miles from the race start. We awoke to a clear and moonless sky at 2:45 a.m. I did my usual pre-race breakfast stuff and the four of us were rolling at 3:30. We parked a little ways up Palani Hill and Judy and I went off towards transition while the kids went up to a room we had secured at the King Kam hotel, right at the race start area.

Judy and I parted and I wended my way through the body-marking area. I’d seen the TV version of this many times so it was a bit surreal to be part of the show myself! I had a nice and supportive Hawaiian body marker who was doing it for the 10th time and he rubbed alcohol on my arms and then stamped “1941” on each. There was some joking about whether or not this was my birth year (no, I’m not 69 yet!).

I exited the tent and went to chip check and as I beeped I quipped to the gentlemen: “Craig Alexander right?” They didn’t miss a beat and said: “Good to go Crowie”. The woman behind me said: “Excuse me” and then: “Oh you’re not Craig Alexander, I was going to ask for your autograph”. We both chuckled at what passes for humor at times like this.

I briefly reunited with Judy and told her I’d be back in 10-15 minutes after I made sure my bike was good to go. She happily stayed at the entrance to transition checking out the world’s greatest triathletes as they entered the bike holding area. It was still quite dark out but the lights were blazing and sparkling off about $15 million dollars of bicycles. For what would be well over a hundred times throughout the day I smiled and looked around—yes, I was here on the Pier in Kailua-Kona and I was indeed going to do the Hawaii Ironman.

I walked over to my bike and saw Troy from XC. He greeted me and helped me with my bike set up. I did this pretty quickly and as I was about to put my bike back in the rack I (in my usual anal way) checked once again the inflation of my tires and found that my front tire was low. I thought maybe we had messed up the first time so I re-inflated it and decided to wait a few minutes.

After about five minutes I checked again and sure enough it seemed noticeably soft to the touch. Troy volunteered to take my wheel off to get it changed (they have tremendous bike support at Kona so this was an easy thing to do). I sat down to wait and to watch the now very busy transition scene. I must say I felt totally calm. In fact leading up to this race I felt much more calm than I ever had before an Ironman. I slept well and really didn’t spend too much time thinking about the specifics of the race in the days that preceded it. This calmness seemed to carry over and the flat really didn’t bother me. (Of course it helped that I had planned for this contingency and was sporting carbon clincher 404s—very easy to change).

Soon Troy returned and as we pumped up the tire he noticed that something seemed “not quite right” so he took the wheel away again. As I was waiting we heard a loud “bang” of a tube exploding and there was a lot of nervous laughter and silent thanks that we weren’t “that guy”. I called Judy and told her to go on and get the kids with out me, as I would be tied up for a while—I told her I’d try to meet up with them somehow before the swim.

Finally, after about 15 minutes, Troy came trotting back with my wheel in hand. He casually mentioned that there had been a problem—a pinch in the new tube and that bang was my tube exploding—I was “that guy”! We pumped it up and waited a few and finally it seemed good to go. I left my bike and silently prayed that these two flats would be all the bike problems that I would encounter on this day.

It was now quite light out and a bit after 6 a.m.—less than an hour to go. I found Judy, Jenny and Anders and said my goodbyes. I felt a need to go to the bathroom (yet again) and after a quick glance at the line; I headed to our room—thankful that we had it. I was back down to transition just as the pros went off at 6:30 (half-hour head start) and I waved to my family as they stood on the pier in prime viewing location. I checked my bike again and it looked like I was good to go.

I headed over to the swim start at about 6:45 with John O’Brien—one of my over 50 XC competitors (we had raced at NOLA where he easily beat me). The volunteers instructed me to pin the Velcro on my chip strap to avoid it getting ripped off my leg during the swim, apparently something that frequently happened—I didn’t like the sound of that!

I stood (a bit timidly) on the shore for a few minutes and watched the stream of AGers entering the water and swimming out to the swim start—some 50+ yards distant—to join the water-treading masses. Some one sang the national anthem and at 6:55 I entered the water. After determining that my goggles were indeed working I jettisoned my spare set and swam to the extreme left (away from the Pier and the buoy line) of the racecourse and positioned myself just a few feet from the start line. It was 6:59, my HR was up at 140 (where I wanted it) and I was locked and loaded. As I treaded water that last minute I gave thanks and asked the Big Guy for protection. I looked around and smiled and I said to myself: “OK, let’s do this!”

The Swim

At 7 a.m. the cannon fired and it was Game On. There was a surge of energy that was palpable. I went hard right from the bang and continued to push it for the first 200 yards or so. (I had originally planned to go slow for the first 400 yards but as I swam out to the start I changed my mind and decided to just go for it at the start). There was some modest contact but I was far enough left and doing a good job of keeping pace with those around me so it wasn’t that bad. My “new” plan was to go out hard and then settle into my pace and try to “latch on” to various groups as they passed--to benefit from their draft. By staying to the left I hoped to avoid a lot of the contact that this swim is notorious for and yet swim reasonably aggressively (for me). I had no illusions about where I stood relative to the group in a non-wetsuit swim (probably bottom 25%) but while I was focused on a “drama-free” swim I was also thinking it would be nice to swim somewhere around 80 minutes.

As we settled in I was struck by how competent this group of athletes was. I was constantly getting soft hits on my feet and legs up to my hips but no one seemed intent to just plow over me. Part of this may be due to how I dealt with the constant hits I felt. When I felt hands on my feet I kicked harder and when I felt hands on my sides I flared out and made more of a splash. Another thing that was probably working for me was something I noticed during the lead-up week practice swims. I am clearly a lot bigger than the typical IM-Hawaii participant…in fact I felt like I was the slug that ate Cleveland! In the early swim scrum this was to my advantage and I found (at least in the early going) that I was holding my own amidst the fray.

At nineteen minutes into my swim (although I did not know this at the time), Andy Potts was running into T1 leading the race. This was no surprise as Andy is a former National swim champion (800 meters) and a 6 time All-American swimmer from Michigan. It took Andy just 48:48 to complete the Kona swim. No other swimmer even broke 51 minutes on this morning. Macca and Andreas Raelert (who finished 1-2) were both in the mid 51s and about 4 minutes slower than they swam at IM Germany (which was also non-wetsuit and in a fresh-water lake). I knew Kona was a relatively slow swim. A female pro over in Germany had told me that the Kona swim was longer than 2.4 miles but I had never heard that before. The conditions on this morning seemed just fine to swim fast so maybe there is some truth to the swim being long. In any event, everyone’s times seemed slow compared to other IM races that they had completed.

After about 20-25 minutes of swimming it occurred to me that I was thriving in this swim. Yes, I was still overmatched talent wise but I was really swimming well for me. I reveled in the clear water. It was easy to follow the bubbles of the feet in front of me. I saw all the psychedelic fish and at one point I began to laugh and then sob (a little). I felt amazingly positive about where I was at and my prospects for the rest of the swim. I knew that I belonged here and that I was indeed getting it done.

Several times I was surrounded by a group of strong swimmers who overwhelmed me by swimming up on all sides of me. I tried to stay in the moment and deal with the arm hits to my legs, butt and back. Tactically I was occupied with fending off many (hundreds) of arm strikes so that they didn’t hit my head (at least too hard) and take my goggles off. I have to say it was fully absorbing but not overwhelming…I felt like I was holding my own.

Finally, I could clearly see the boat that marked the first turning point of the swim. I positioned myself to the left and swung wide as we made the right turn. I took the opportunity to glance at my watch and I was right on 37 minutes. I knew this time was short of the true halfway point and I estimate I hit the half right around 38:30. I was thrilled with this and figured with a bit of fatigue in the back half of the swim I was probably looking at right around 80 minutes. I felt very, very good at this point.

We made the 2nd right-hand turn and headed back towards the Pier. I couldn’t really see the Pier as there was a 3-4 foot swell but the Hawaii swim is very straightforward and I could easily see the radio tower that I had selected as a sighting guide during my practice swims.

While the crowds had thinned somewhat, I was surprised several times on the swim back when I was swallowed up by another group of swimmers and banged around a bit. I actually had a rougher time of it on the way back then the way out. I sensed a growing fatigue in my shoulders and that I was probably slowing just a bit. I was aware of my swim stroke beginning to shorten up as well. Still I continued to feel good and I was very optimistic throughout.

As we neared the Pier I began to cut across traffic to try to position myself close to the Pier. There was no tactical advantage in this but I wanted to see if I could see my family up there. I drew even with the Pier and began to lift my head up out of the water to see if I could see them. I spotted Anders with his backward turned hat and big lens on his camera. I yelled to him and I could see that he had heard me. I practically stopped and waved and then he saw me. Soon Judy and Jenny joined him and I continued to lift my head, wave and yell to them. Not really the best racing strategy and I clearly threw away a sub 80-minute swim leg but it didn’t matter—I wanted them to see me and share at least this little bit of my swim.

I put my head down and swam strong over the last 100 yards or so and soon folks were helping me stumble up the carpeted stairs on the side of the Pier. I looked at the clock and was mildly (and only briefly) disappointed to see a 80:21 and I passed over the timing mat a few seconds later with an official swim split of 80:27. This was the 5th fastest of my 8 IM swims. More importantly, it was almost 5 minutes faster than my only other non-wetsuit IM swim at IM Germany this year. Given what others did here and in Germany my swim was considerably stronger this morning at Kona. Further, I felt much, much better than I did in that race back in July. I averaged 155 bpm, which is high for a swim for me—especially for an IM swim—so despite how comfortable I felt during the swim, I definitely worked pretty hard out there.

I was 84th of the 129 in my AG (35.7 %-tile) as I finished some 21 minutes behind Larry Black—a perennial All American from Ft. Meyers and the leader after the swim in my AG. Overall, I was 1379th out of the 1849 that actually started (there were over 1950 entered)—this was at the 25.4 %-tile. I was in 2nd in XC 50+ group about 2 minutes off the lead (John O’Brien). As modest as these numbers sound, I am very pleased with this performance given that this is the Ironman World Championship.

Transition One

I’ve watched the videos of T1 at Kona so many times I pretty much knew the drill even though I was seeing it for the first time in person. I pulled my TYR Torque halfway off and ran in under the freshwater hoses and took a few seconds to wash much of the saltwater off me. I went to the far left and I ran almost to the end of the rack holding the hanging T1 bags and grabbed my 1941 bag—several volunteers were standing around—maybe a bit fatigued from what no doubt was a very crazy scene during the crush of a few minutes earlier.

I ran into the changing tent and was shocked to see it completely packed—I had expected it to be somewhat empty given the relative slowness of my swim. By experience I knew to run to the far end and sure enough I found an empty seat. A volunteer was there immediately to help me. I dumped my stuff out on the ground and did my T1 thing. I had my tri trunks underneath my swim skin so I just had to put the top on. One nifty innovation that Judy thought of was to preload my tri top with all my nutrition and salt tabs and duct tape the pockets shut. This worked great and my helper pulled the tape off. I lathered up the sunscreen but neglected to get my lats—a mistake I would regret later.

Out of the tent I saw my family and told them that I thought the swim was real fun. They told me I was doing great and I jogged as best as I could with my bike shoes on around to the backside of transition and then into the area where the bikes are kept. When I reached my bike the first thing I did was check my front tire and found it hard as a rock—sweet! (Anders later told me that while we were swimming volunteers go around and check everyone’s tires and even replaced a few tubes). I put my helmet on and found it too tight—they had cinched it up during the night to keep it on the bike—should have checked this morning!

I was good and go and I waved goodbye to my support group and jogged over to the bike mounting area. I was grinning like an idiot as I finally mounted my bike with a 7:17 (6:52 officially) T1—a little slow but well within expectations.

The Bike

I run up to the bike mount zone and hop on and begin my 112-mile journey. I ride through the chute that I hope to return to in the early afternoon and notice the huge crowds of people. The music is blaring and the sky is a crystal clear blue in that early morning way.

I ride up the bottom part of Palani and make a left turn onto Kuakini Highway and a short ways north towards the Old Airport. We make a quick right on Makala and head through the shopping area (where I had dinner one night) and up a small rise to the Queen Ku’ahumanu Highway where we turn right—back towards transition. The Queen K will be my “home” for much of the day but this first exposure is short as quickly I find myself at the top of Palani and make the steep descent back towards transition. This is a “no-pass” zone though it seems quite modest from a technical point of view. At the bottom of Palani I make the left onto Kuakini again, although now I am heading south.

This beginning two miles or so of the bike ride has a lot of maneuvering so I now finally settle in and ride up the slope on Kuakini towards the first turnaround. People are riding hard and aggressively and I’m very careful in this section as it seems most bike accidents occur in either this first 6-8 mile section or on the slopes leading to and leaving from Hawi. Just 3 miles in, a huge glop of suntan lotion drips off my forehead and completely obscures the right lens of my sunglasses. This is an issue I must deal with and I try spraying some Ironman Perform on it to remove the lotion. This helps a little but my view is quite blurred on the right side.

The climb up to the turnaround at Kuakini Estates is over 300 feet and I’m pleased when I hit the turnaround. I reach the 5.5-mile point of the ride in 17:39, which translates into 18.7 mph, which isn’t bad given the climb. My glasses are bothering me and I decide that since I’ll be heading mostly north and that the sun will mostly be behind me that I can take them off—at least until I reach Hawi.

I’m cruising at 25-35 mph back towards the start--pulling right around 200 watts (which is my power limit for the first portion of the bike) and everybody and their sister are blowing by me. I know people ride the first section too aggressively but I would have thought exiting the water where I did that it would be I that was doing the passing—one of many illusions to be smashed on this day.

I fly into the “Hot Corner” and climb up Palani—I see Bill Price who has come to cheer me on with Eva and his new daughter Alana—I high five him and make the turn onto the Queen K—this time in earnest. I settle in and attend to eating and drinking. On the latter I’m trying to be very aggressive with my front mounted water bottle. The sun is out and it’s about 80 degrees already (at 9 a.m.) but it feels very comfortable with the airflow on the bike.

In this early section heading out of town we are enjoying a bit of a tailwind and I note that I’m feeling awesome at this point. I also note that I’ll likely have a headwind over the last portion of the bike. This is all very familiar territory by now as I have driven back and forth on this section of the Queen K many times in the lead up to the race. Like pretty much the entirety of the ride, it’s seldom flat but is just a series of modest, rolling hills as we slice through the various lava flows that cover the flanks of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Kohala volcanoes.

I soon pass the Energy Lab, the airport and the turn-off to our hotel and the reality of pushing 112 miles through the lava fields of Hawaii takes center stage in my consciousness. I’m surprised, as I come parallel to the “saddle” between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, that I am hit with a substantial side/headwind. The winds here are confounding because as I look left out over the Pacific I can clearly see that the wind is blowing out of the southwest—this is the tailwind that I should have. However, the easterly trade winds are blasting through the gap between the two volcanoes and overwhelming the southwest flow. Despite the 20-25 mph winds I still seem to comfortably crank out 18 mph with my modest wattage limit.

I hit the 28-mile checkpoint out by Waikoloa having ridden another 73:51 since the last checkpoint (22.5 miles) and this averages 18.3 mph for the second section. It’s still early but I’m aware that I am averaging less than 19 mph and this will translate into a very long bike ride. I know there is still the chance that coming back will be faster but the “I’ve seen this movie before” part of me is beginning to adjust to the idea of a 6+ hour bike ride. Still, I think I’m making the right tactical choice by going easy. Less and less people are passing me but I’m still dropping places—this is very different than my other Ironman experiences. At IMFL for example I gained over 900 places on the bike. Today, I am falling back on the bike.

The next section out to Kawaihae has some bigger hills and the wind seems to be intensifying. I make the turn onto 270 off of the Queen K and begin the 20-mile run into Hawi. This initially is a screaming decent that I sit up on to keep things safe in the swirling wind. I look up the road trying to see the helicopters that I know will be shadowing the lead riders. Soon enough I see them rising above a hill in front of me and in short order Chris Lieto comes streaming by with another rider in close pursuit. The next 10-15 minutes are very entertaining as one famous triathlete after another goes by (“There’s Macca, Andreas, Faris, Crowie, Norman, Tim, TJ….). This was quite fun to the triathlon groupie inside me.

As I continued up the coast I could see big white caps out in the bay being obviously pushed by very strong easterly winds. We were moving out of the wind shadow of Kohala and the winds were picking up dramatically. Soon the very strong side/headwinds were absorbing all of my attention. Since I had been up here on one of my pre-race training rides I knew that the final 10-12 miles leading up to Hawi were going to be very demanding. My pace began to slow dramatically and the wind gusts began moving my bike several feet at a time to the side. I was sitting up on the “hoods” of my pursuit bar and just focusing very intently on saying upright.

After a while, I saw the road sign that said that Hawi was 7 miles and I knew the real crux of my ride was now on. I’ve learned a great deal about bike handling over the last 10 years in this sport and I pride myself on the skills that I’ve developed. I know that it’s better for me to be down in the aero position (less body for the side winds to push) and really relax my arms and shoulders to better absorb the gusts. Despite this knowledge, I stay upright because it’s just too frightening to ride aero. My hands, arms, shoulders and neck are all very tense and beginning to fatigue as I hang on for dear life.

The last seven miles up to Hawi involve a fair bit of climbing and as I curve around the NW flank of Kohala the exposure to the Easterlies increases and the buffeting of the wind intensifies. My speed drops down very close to 10 mph at points. Normally, when a ride demands my attention like this one, time seems to pass quickly as I become totally absorbed in the effort. This time however, time seems to expand as I am continually subjected to sudden gusts. The minutes drag on. Some gusts draw a verbal response from me: “What?”; “Come On!”; “Jeez”; or a few times an unintelligible guttural sound.

Parts of the way up the final climb an XC competitor rode smartly by me and he called out. I barely registered that he was in my AG (given his number). In fact it was Ray Brown, having a strong bike on his brand new $18,000 Pinarello, pushing it in a race he had trained especially hard for over the last eleven months. Ray unfortunately was rapidly approaching an unpleasant destiny not too far up the road. In fact the two 50+XCers in front of me (John and Ray) would not finish the race today.

The wind was very unpredictable. The road in many places slices through 200-400 feet long cutout sections of lava—the lava having been removed to smooth out the grade. The wind would blow down these chutes and bounce in different directions. As I would near the exit of the chute I would frequently get a strong (20 mph) gust going east as it deflected off the wall of the chute. Then as I exited the shoot I’d be hit by a 40+ mph gust out of the east heading west. I soon learned to lean east (right) into the wind to help counteract the gusts, but to then change and get more upright as I approached each cutout section. This required enormous concentration.

I kept stealing glances at the faces and bodies of people on the other side of the road in their descents. Almost of them looked very focused and quite concerned. Many were sitting up and I saw several get buffeted by the wind and go into mini-wobbles, as the riders would struggle to regain control.

Finally, the climb began of ameliorate and the wind was deflected a bit by rows of tall trees planted on the sides of the road. I was entering Hawi and I knew I had survived what I judged to be the toughest segment on the course. I see a “melee” in front of me towards the center of the road--lots of people crowding around something. Suddenly, a triathlete stands up and flings his helmet across the road and into a ditch. I ride by and notice a bike crumpled on the ground. It turns out to be Ray who a minute or less in front of me smashed into a motorcycle at 25mph as the motorcycle suddenly veered in front of him. His bike was broken in four places, he suffered contusions and scrapes, and his Kona dream was over. All of this barely hit my consciousness as I was in a bit of shock from the climb and winds.

For this 21-mile segment I was only able to average 16.3 mph. As slow as that is I can say that this 21-mile segment was hands-down the hardest riding I have ever experienced.

I made the turn in the tiny, somewhat run-down, village of Hawi. I pulled to the side and attended to my glasses. I chatted with a volunteer there. The topic was the wind and how strong it was today when yesterday it was virtually calm. Oh well—I latter reflected—I’d rather do Kona when conditions were more “Kona-like”.

After just a couple of minutes or so I was on my way and focusing intensely on the descent that I was facing. The first 7 miles are the main attraction but there are significant descending sections almost all the way back to the Queen K at Kawaihae. I soon was moving at 30-35 mph sitting-up. I feathered my breaks to keep things sane and then the wind gusts came again. For some reason (I discovered this on my earlier training ride) the gusts are more challenging on the climb than the descent—probably something to do with all the momentum I have created as I turn potential into kinetic energy.

I’m screaming down the hill and I have to admit part of me likes this experience. However, every 10-15 seconds another gust hits me and reminds me that I’m balancing on a razor thin like. I’m riding much more conservatively than most of the field. This 7-mile section goes by very quickly (probably less than 16-17 minutes) given my speed. As I begin to get some blocking benefit from the volcano the wind speeds die and I know the worst of the dangerous part is over. I get a few more gusts but the rest of the ride down is relatively uneventful. I’m even able to get some food and drink in me. I average 19 mph for this section (includes my wait at the top and the slower sections near Kawaihae).

I turn right on the Queen K and I have covered 88 miles in just under 5 hours. With another 24 miles to go I knew I was going to be significantly over 6 hours. I was also aware that I was way behind in my drinking and eating (due to the winds) and that it now was quite warm (later, Triathlete Magazine would report that the ambient air temperatures out on the Queen K hit a measured 127 degrees). I really focused on trying to play catch-up on hydration all the rest of the way in.

As Mauna Kea came into view I was hit by very strong (20-25 mph) head winds. I had expected a tailwind here but the strong SW wind has blown out the trade winds that had been sweeping across the saddle. Soon the reality of riding 20+ miles, at the end of an Ironman, into a huge headwind begins to sit in. I sigh and resign myself to it. I know I’m going to be slow and very tired at the end of the ride but I’m here at Kona and I feel more than prepared, both physically and mentally, to deal with it.

I catch up to Mark Moses, an XC guy from one of the younger age groups. We talk for a while (generally lamenting the wind) and then a woman rides up besides us and (upon seeing our identical tri tops) asks: “Which one of you is the guide?” This catches us off-guard for a moment but then Mark realizing that she thinks one of us is a blind athlete and barely missing a beat says: “No, this is a case of the blind leading the blind.” Best line of the day! I bid adieu to Mark knowing that he’ll catch me on the run and begin to drive harder towards T2.

I pass the airport and then the turnoff to the Energy Lab and I pass these last few miles on the Queen K by looking at the leading male runners. I wanted to see who was winning but as I made the turn onto Makala Street, Maaca and Raelert (with the benefit of their 30-minute head-start) were dueling in the final mile of the race.

I made the final sweeping right down the hill, under the pedestrian bridge and down the finishing corral. Finally I coasted up to the dismount line and a kindly volunteer took my bicycle from me. I had averaged 17.6 mph over the last 24 miles, most of it into a very tough headwind. I had my total bike spit at 6:20:20 (6:21:01 officially), which averages 17.7 mph. This was by over 12 minutes, my slowest IM bike split. My HR was a modest 138 (well below the 150-152 I expect in an IM bike leg). My average cadence was only 73, which reflects the grinding on the climbs and the coasting on the descents. I averaged 170 watts, which is not surprising given the significant coasting, and the overall conservative nature of my ride.

I had only the 102nd fastest bike in my AG as I dropped to 100th place. I’m not sure how my bike stacks up against the whole field but it clearly was weaker than my swim as I dropped to 1462nd place during the bike. I was satisfied with my effort and happy to be getting off the bike—even though I still had that marathon in front of me.

Transition Two

I moved to the side and took my bike shoes off. I decided to walk through most of transition to stretch out my legs. I was very stiff—especially in my left hip and lower back but I sensed this stiffness would likely abate as I moved through transition. I noticed it was very hot and I could feel that my shoulders were burned to a crisp.

I heard a “RC” and a “Randy” and I looked over, somewhat surprised, to see my family waiting besides transition out on the Pier. I had told them if I came in close to the male winners (which I did) that they should not watch me slug through transition but rather go and see the finish. They had ignored this and at this moment I was glad that they did. I waved and smiled—happy to see familiar faces. I walked all the way around and told them a thing or two about my ride. They were encouraging me and then told me I had better put sun block on my back. I grabbed my T2 bag and headed into the changing tent intent to do so (among other things).

Once inside I was greeted with a wide array of seats to choose from. Much less crowded now than in T1. Two volunteers immediately descended on me. I could tell by the way they were looking at me that part of the drill was an appraisal on their part of whether or not I was fit enough to go do a marathon. I smiled and asked them how they were doing and told them that I thought it was a fine day for a marathon. They turned their attention to getting all my T2 tasks done as quickly as possible (they were more motivated in this regard than I).

One of the helpers grabbed a huge jug of suntan lotion and began to slather it all over my body including my bright red shoulders and lats. I put new socks on and slipped into my bright Red K-Ona shoes. I ate some shot blocks and went into the restroom where I was thankful that I could pee—it was quite dark but at least I wasn’t so dehydrated that I couldn’t pee. I said thanks, and feeling much better than when I entered the tent, I jogged on outside.

My family cheered and called out. I smiled and waved and ran at what felt like a reasonable clip towards the start of the marathon. I had my T2 at 9:03 but it was officially recorded as 8:28. I think the official time is probably the accurate one as I hit the lap button a little past the true start of the run.

The Run

I run out of transition with my family’s good cheer ringing in my ears. I must say that I feel confident at this point that I will get done what I need to get done. Please don’t mistake this for arrogance or false confidence because nothing could be further from the truth. Truth is, I am very concerned about my run. My injuries leading up to this race left me less than ideally prepared. I know that the bike has crushed me. I know I have significant challenges in front of me. Still I am elated. I’m smiling and waving—this is my time and while I know I am going to be very slow today I am supremely confident in my ability to persevere.

I run up Palani to the first turn. I feel pretty good but I have an uneasy feeling in my gut. I could run faster but it’s already evident that I’ll have some significant challenges in my not so distant future. I try to drink some water at the first aid station but nothing says down. I don’t know it yet but my stomach has shut down, most likely due to over ingestion, relative to fluid, of salt tablets on the bike. I’m running well but I can only sip a little bit at the aid stations just past miles 2 and 3. Mike Esposito passes me in this phase of the run on the way to winning my XC age group. It’s very clear to me, even at this point that my run is going to prove problematic. Still, it makes sense for me to keep pushing on. My first six miles of the run look like this:

Mile 1:…..9:39/mile…..145 bpm
Mile 2:…..10:33……146
Mile 3:…..10:11…..148
Mile 4:…..11:02…..148
Mile 5:…..11:05…..149
Mile 6:…..11:38…..149

I’m increasingly feeling overwhelmed by what will be the most significant barrier to achieving my goal of finishing Kona. My legs feel great but I’m having trouble ingesting fluids and I’m beginning to feel light headed. In the 6th mile I have a couple of incidents where my HR spikes up to 160 bpm and I feel sick and light-headed.

This is strange because it really does not feel that hot and my legs are definitely ready to go but I decide that if I keep running I’m going to run into serious trouble, and pretty soon at that. So I decide to walk for a while. I checked my ego at the door when I started this race and there is no way, if I can help it, that I’m not going to finish. I try to run a few times in the next couple of miles but my HR soars and it’s real clear to me that I’m on the edge of having to take a seat. My next three mile splits are:

Mile 7…..14:14…..136
Mile 8…..14:30…..130
Mile 9…..14:45…..129

Despite walking I go from bad to worse. I’m very concerned about my ability to stay upright. Mentally, I feel extremely positive and “on it” from a race management perspective but my body is in a bit of a crisis now. I try jogging up to the hot corner and almost pass out—the heck with my ego—I need to walk for a while, especially with Palani hill in front of me. My 10th mile passes in 15:34 (124 bpm) and I start the climb up Palani.

Climbing Palani I am amazed to find that even walking is a challenge. Wow—I’m in trouble here. I see my family about half way up and I bust out my best smile. Jen and Anders walk with me and I tell them to grab some beers because this going to take a while. I don’t want them to worry about me but at the same time, they need to know that I’m getting hyper conservative in an attempt to salvage my race.

Anders walks on with me and I finally crest Palani—my 11th mile is 18:37 (125 bpm). Anders and I somehow just decide to walk together for a while. We talk about lots of things related to the race. He wants to know how I feel and what my plans are. “Really bad and I’ll walk as long as I have to until I can run again.” He walks with me through my next two miles, which look like this:

Mile 12:…..16:52…..(114 bpm)
Mile 13:…..18:12…..(108)

At mile 13 I tell him he should head back—he has a bad knee and if I can ever start running again he won’t be able to and he’ll be in for a long walk back. Also, I need to really focus and see if I can’t fix things—I certainly don’t want to walk all the way to the finish.

At the aid station just past 13 I drink a little chicken broth and it goes down easy. I stop and drink another two cups and I’m also able to get some coke and water down. This is encouraging. I try running a little bit in miles 14 and 15 as the sun sets to my left and it gets dramatically darker in a hurry. Miles 14 and 15:

Mile 14:…..17:44…..(109)
Mile 15:…..15:31…..(113)

I continue to put down chicken broth and other fluids and as I approach the turnoff from the Queen K into the Energy Lab it occurs to me that I feel pretty darn good (all things considered). As I enter the Energy Lab I begin to run in earnest again (the downhill to the turnaround helps). During miles 16 and 17 my pace quickens and my spirits begin to soar:

Mile 16:…..13:40…..(128)
Mile 17:…..13:09…..(130)
I hit the turnaround at the bottom of the Energy Lab and I decide that I’m good to go. I pump my fist and start passing runners for the first time in a long time. I decide that I feel good enough to run all the way back and I basically do this for most of the last 9 miles. (I do walk through the aid stations and up a couple of the steeper hills).

I officially move past John O’Brien, the original leader in my XC AG as he basically collapsed with dry heaves at 17. Another XC’er in my AG passes me and I drop to 3rd. Also in this last stretch I pass Larry Black (on his way to a 14+ hour finish), the fellow that led my 50-54 AG out of the water and who has been in the mid 10:20s/top 15 in my AG the last few years—this race is tough—even for those with true talent.

The last 9+ miles are magical. First off, I average 11:35/mile—even walking the aid stations and staying very conservative. When I’m running I’m probably averaging 9-10 minute miles. It’s pitch black and the sky is alive with stars. The Milky Way is like a white swath through the sky. The only noise is the soft patter of my feet and my rhythmic and controlled breathing. Occasionally I see other runners coming the other way, usually with heads bent—they’ll have a very difficult time getting home before the 17 hour cut-off. I say a few words of encouragement to them but they are mostly silent—a cloud of grimness seems to envelop them. However, it doesn’t bring me down.

Mentally, I am absolutely on cloud nine. I’m building in strength and I know I’m going to finish this thing. I feel good about everything that has happened and I know I did a good job in dealing with the issues that I’ve faced today. A couple of times I let a “yes” and a little sob—I’m doing this!!!!

About mile 23 I come through an aid station and the music is absolutely blasting. We runners are fewer and farther between now and they seem genuinely glad to see me. The DJ calls out for me to bust a move and since they are playing “Twist and Shout” I comply and I dance my way through the aid station to raging applause and many high fives and back slaps. I head off into the dark again with a big smile, an elevated heart rate and a determination to focus on driving to the finish line—I’ll save my dancing for later.

While it took a while, and I was aware of the passage of time, the last couple of miles up to the top of Palani were very easy for me. My body seemed to just float along (albeit, at a leisurely pace). I kept looking around and trying to absorb it all in. It was impossible to keep a smile off of my face.

Finally I hit the right turn at the top of Palani and I pumped my fist—I just knew that this next part was going to be great! I cruised down the hill slapping fives and hearing people tell me that I was an Ironman (yes I know, but thank-you!). Towards the bottom I looked over and saw Anders squinting up the hill (he had been following me on the GPS and was patiently waiting for my arrival). I called out to him and he came over and ran down the rest of the hill with me, carrying his big camera and lens. Near the bottom, Judy called out and cheered me on and told me Jenny was waiting at the finish line.

I waved and tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to control my excitement. I was running pretty “hard” at this point. Up Kuakini I just try to compose myself. I make the right turn at Hualalai and run down the hill to Ali’i and then I make that awesome right turn.

I’m not sure how far that last bit on Ali’i is but I can tell you it is amazing. The street is packed and the 2nd floors of the bars lining the street are crowded with folks cheering and calling out. I slap five with everyone and dodge some folks who are wandering (very happily) across the street (it’s late and IM traffic is not so dense now). I’ve seen all of this before and I recognize it at one level but tonight everything is fresh and new and so alive!

I hit the little bend pass the Palace and I look out over the harbor at the Pier. All of a sudden, my friend Bill jumps out and slaps me five and we run together for a few yards. I want to tell him so much but all I can manage is a smile. The chute opens up and I can see the finish line. Yes. It is brilliantly lit. I look around and say thanks to the strangers in attendance and the friends and family not. I touch my heart and look skyward and thank the Big Guy for watching over me.

I accelerate to the line and I hear Mile Reilly announce my name, call me an Ironman and proceed to tell every one that I am the only person in this race from the State of Delaware—that’s pretty cool I think to myself. And then I run up the little ramp and let the joy of the moment take control. I see Jenny and we embrace and kiss and she puts the lei around me. I hear Anders and Judy call and I turn and wave to them. Then I almost pass out as my blood pressure drops. My “catchers” grab me and start asking me all sorts of things to see if I’m going to be making a detour to the med tent. I assure them I’m OK and I’m pretty confident that I’m right.

I see Troy from XC and I thank him for this extraordinary opportunity and I go down a narrow chute where some crazed, tattooed guy screams at me: “That just effin’ happened dude!” Yes it did—I know, I was there; I was truly all here.

The catchers tell Jen to hold my arm and keep an eye on me. I grab some ice and am reunited with Judy and Anders. LIFE IS SO AMAZINGLY GOOD RIGHT NOW!!!! We laugh and Anders cracks some jokes. I get my finisher T-shirt (which is very cool) and my medal (which weighs about 20 pounds) and then we all get our pics taken together over by the finisher banner.

We are all so up and sharing with each other everything that has happened. We head up to our hotel room at the King Kam and I discover that Anders has already retrieved my bike and everything else (Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!). I shower and we head out of the King Kam for the trip back up to our resort. We trudge back up Palani as others head down to their joy on Ali’i. This is a slow trudge as I am whipped.

Anders drives and I am co-pilot and we work around the racecourse and find our way back to the hotel. Bill comes over and we break out the beer and order room service. I have two sips of my beer and one or two bites of my burger and that’s that. I’m content to just lay back and put my feet up. I’ve had all that I can have from life today!

Post Race

So, the stat man will tell you the obvious, this was my slowest Ironman. There were quite a few others slower (over 250 and 20+ in my AG) so not so bad given this is the Ironman World Championship. Officially I finish 1584th and 106th in my AG. My marathon is 5:52:24 and my finish time is 13:49:17--my slowest IM to date. Overall 79 athletes do not finish (about 4.3%). The triathlete in me wants to come back and do better—and I know I could. Maybe even get into the middle of the pack!

What the stat man can’t tell you is how incredibly fantastic this experience was. Hands down one of the best of my life. I am so thrilled with what happened and that my family and some friends were there to experience it with me.

I am filled with a positive energy and my body feels fantastic as I write this some 15 days after the race. I’m hungry and looking forward to the 2011 season. I’d sure like to get back to Kona but if I never do again I am so thankful for what happened here on October 9th and the days leading up to it. I feel, from a triathlon perspective, like I’ve been reborn, and I’m excited about what my triathlon experiences in the future will bring.

Of-course, I am so thankful for all the support that I have received from Judy, my family and my friends—I know I would not have made it to Kona without them and it certainly wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much if I had.

Let’s do it again!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kona Race Report almost done

sorry for the delay...a long report for a long race! the Phillies have occupied a fair bit of our time recently but that distraction has now passed!

I must say I feel very strong post Kona. I have been very unstructured over the last week just doing what I wanted to. I've felt stronger in this past week on the run than at any point this year. I had my best run of the year on Wednesday slicing almost 5 minutes off one of my standard 5.5 mile courses....

I still haven't completely ruled out IMFL although I would say the odds are less than 5%. I think that what I'd like to do is run a bunch of running races between now and IMCA70.3 in april and see if I can't gin up my run enough to qualify for kona again--a long shot I know but I'd really like to get back there.

Mentally, I am very energized about triathlon and beginning to think about 2011. Alreay I have these thoughts:

1. I'd like to train very seriously for short races--especially Oly distance--I've never done this before (2009 I just raced short but did not train hard) and I'd like to do a lot of short races and always be ready to go at a "B+" level or better.

2. I'll take a couple of shots at Kona--IMCA70.3 in april and IMAZ in November are on the initial list...we'll see. I'll just train short for CA and see what happens and in about September of 2011 I'll go through an IM training build to give IMAZ a helathy shot.

3. I'm going to set a goal of 10 AG wins in 2011. My best so far is 8 (2009) but I'm 54 and at the upper end of the AG so could be tough--I'll race a lot to try to make it happen.

4. I want to run a lot of half marathons in 2011--I think it's a great training distance for me....

Anyways, just by showing up I did the following this week:

170 miles on the bike

22 miles running

14 hours training.

I feel great and will get back into the pool either this coming week or the next. I'm going to do some Yoga/Pilates but mostly I'm going to try to get faster running over the next two months....

I'm pumped!