Friday, December 17, 2010

Year review and 2011 Goals

This has been a great year of finding my lost speed and a first Ironman finish.  While my performances were beyond expectations this year, my favorite part was watching my Dad finish Ironman Kona!

That was nearly the perfect motivation for my season in 2011 since there is no way I can let my Dad have one up on me.  My journey back to fitness started when he actually beat me in a race about 7 years ago, and now he is proportionately ahead of me, so that is how I'm setting my next years goals.

When you are looking to improve it is very hard to set achievable results.  Its easy to say you want to be "10 minutes faster" or "top whatever", but every race is different, conditions on race day can change, and you never know who is going to show up.  I had multiple races where I was bumped off the podium by one spot because three of the top AG'ers in NorCal showed up to almost all my races!  Frustrating, but I was happy with the improvements made.

My process of setting my 2011 goals was straight forward, but also required a bit of research.  First I gathered my last two years race results.  There are a few races that I do every year, which helps in the next step.  Using those races, I came up with an improvement percentage from 2009 to 2010.  I set it at 7%.  Unfortunately, time doesn't divide or multiply nicely, so I converted all my times into minutes.  This yielded some spectacular time improvements for my 2011 goals, so I'm thinking I'll have to find some sort of factor for the Law of Diminishing Returns.

To balance out the 7% with what I think is the easier to achieve goal times, I began factoring in the field placement for all the races.  I can see that in 2009 I finished around the top 10% of the total field, and in 2010 that improved to 4-5% of the field, cutting the field in half over a year.  That seemed like a better solution since taking a percentage off time is always moving towards ZERO, which is unattainable, cutting the field down is always moving towards the winning time which is not likely, but attainable.  This is what I came up with.

 Based on this I can come up with some exact goals for repeat races, along with some generalizations about where I think I can place.  Repeat races of course are easy to judge, you just need to follow what I spoke about above, but finding unknown races and where you think you should place takes some guesswork.  Luckily helps out with a lot of this by having a nice central spot for all race results. 

For races I haven't done yet, I don't know exactly what to expect so I go with a race I think is similar to it and I compare placement in the field that raced in the most recent event.  All field sizes are different, so you still have to take a proportionate finish placement.  For example, Oceanside is a complete unknown for me.  I can see some people I've raced against in the past, so for my 7% improvement goal, I'll estimate a time based on one of these people to get that goal.  For the field placement goal, I take my average field finish of 3% and find the time associated with that finisher from last year.  I hope to jump up 50% in the field, then I have my field goal.  Since Ironman Texas is a first year event, I used IM Arizona as my test field, hopefully that works out. 

Here you can see my race schedule and my goals range from perfect race to achievable.  Wish me luck and hopefully this gets me to Kona!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Never underestimate a race when you venture into Ultra's - North Face 50k

When I signed up for this race a few months back I figured, "I just did an Ironman, 50k of trails should be cake!"  48 hours after completing the North Face 50k Endurance Challenge I can say I'm a bit humbled and have a greater respect for Ultra-Runners, or possibly questioning why people would do that to themselves over and over again!  I couldn't even fathom the 50 mile race going on at the same time!

Training could have gone better over the past month, but Thanksgiving and work got in the way a bit.  Still had my long runs in, but really no vision of what I wanted to do in the race.  Going into race morning, was sort of fun for the laid back atmosphere as I decided this was to be my "fun" race to finish off the year.  I was taking it seriously and would race as far as my conditioning would take me, but I knew it wouldn't be my best showing.

Started the morning picking up Liz and Annie on our way to the shuttle at 5am.  Annie had been a great training partner and even went off on my birthday "Epic" run with me earlier in the year.  Caught the first bus leaving the city and arrived at the festival area with plenty of time to get ready and socialize with everyone.  Hot coffee, propane heaters, and a good vibe from all the athletes made hanging out pretty fun. 

Gearing up for the race was a little stressful as the weather called for chilly rain storms to pass through the area.  Gloves, thin arm warmers, compression socks in addition to normal shirt and shorts.  Wary of my decision, but it turned out perfect for the day.  The rain came in every once and a while, but no downpours, so nearly perfect race conditions.

After a short speech from Dean, the race began at a mellow warm up jog out of the festival area and down into Rodeo Beach.  After a mile, my legs wanted to go, so I was off dashing through traffic and nearly up to the leaders.  Up the first hill and trying to pace myself with the extra post Ironman weight.  (Mom wanted me to put on some pounds after seeing me in Europe)  Heading down to Pirate's Cove is a fairly technical descent and I took it pretty fast and distance myself from the guys who passed me on the uphill.  In retrospect, I should have taken it easier as fast feet through there probably took more energy than braking.  Up and over the hill to Muir Beach and still feeling good!

Running along Highway 1 to Heather Cutoff and the long grind to Pantoll was a good way to try to recover, but then, just at a mellow turnaround I manage to step in a hole and tweak my ankle.  Serious panic attack goes through my head as I try to evaluate the situation.  The last time this happened my ankle swelled up like a balloon, but it didn't feel as bad.  Crossing the field to the hill, my ankle recovered and I felt good enough to continue (my mind was still grappling with the fact I still had 20 mile!).

4 miles and 1500 feet later at Pantoll and the legs are so grateful to get a let up, but now into some technical trails, so not really.  Some hopping, dancing, and running later, I arrive at Bootjack which was definitely my favorite part of the race.  So many people got out there including a few SF Tri PEP's who cheered us on.  You could hear everyone from  the bottom of a short hill and just wondering what was going on.  After grabbing a PBnJ, a Gu Brew refill I was off down the hill into Muir Woods.

Running the Dipsea Trail into Muir woods is steep, quads not happy.  Bottomed out and happy to see an aid station and start dosing up with some Coke.  Crossing a creek and steep climb, time to hike.  First time today hiking, and I was content with that.  Back down to the hill and onto the very rare portion of flat on this course.  I was so happy to be on flat.  legs could actually stretch a bit, and fueling was easier.  Cruised all the way back to Muir Beach and onto the evil climb we all were dreading.

The climb out of Muir Beach is just nasty with mud caking to your shoes at every step.  Hard to find a good line so you don't slip.  I don't think I even thought about running it for a second.  A friend caught up to me at the bottom of the hill, and I was thankful for someone to share the hike up.  95% of this race was alone time.

A good 45 minutes later, we finally crest the climb and are on our way back to Tennessee Valley.  Downhills hurt more than uphills now.  Quads screaming and I'm way too tentative to let loose.  Things are pretty blurry at this point now and I finally know why there is a brand out there called "Zombie Runner".  My only thoughts are moving forward.  I was so happy (probably didn't show it) to see a training friend Ivy at Tennessee Valley.  She's always got a smile and good things to say, so she encouraged me along and said I looked great (lying).

Final climb up Monticello and I know its the last one.  I make a deal with myself to run 2 minutes, then walk 1.  All the way up, I was cursing my watch when it hit those run marks, but it got me to the top!

Final aid station and final fueling to make sure there was not last minute cramping.  "2.7 miles to go" a volunteer said.  A euro-pro 50 miler came along and lets out a desperate "We go down now?" in an awesome German accent.  This put a smile on my face and some other laughed as well. 

Pain all the way down into Rodeo Beach.  Both physical and mental as I'm getting passed.  Still having fun though once I hit the flats and I know there was only 10 minutes of pain left, but one last short uphill just for spite.

Garnering all that I had left I try to charge up and finish strong.  I'm sure it didn't look like much, but it felt horrible.  Finishing, I was elated.  So happy to stop.  Got the medal, got some hot food, and sat my tired butt down.

This was an incredible experience and it showed me a new level of respect for the Ultra level of competition.  I'm not sure when I'll be back to it, but next time I'll be much more prepared.

Below are the course maps.  A little long according the my GPS at 33 miles, but those things are always a little off.  6,700 feet of elevation is the big number of the day though!

Friday, December 3, 2010

What's your prediction for the North Face 50k?

A great group of friends and I are heading out to the Headlands for hours of "fun" in the hills.  I made the futile mistake of checking the weather this morning and this was the first thought that came to mind as a result.

While the weather people in the Bay Area either have one of the most difficult jobs in the US, or are just not that good at the coastal weather, I'm not too thrilled that the rain decided to hold off until right at the start of the race tomorrow.

As long as there isn't an absolute downpour I'll be happy.  Just think of the extra training I'll get when the extra few pounds of mud clings to my shoes! 

Oh boy, tomorrow's going to be interesting.  Here's the hourly report for anyone interested.  30 mile mud run here we come!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Changing Priorities

There have been a few things over the past year that I have finally let go of. With the increase of speed and passion for racing, some items I've been holding onto for too long need to be jettisoned, and hopefully pay for some of the things I need at the same time!

I've already sold my "Ironman Ivan Stewart - Offroad" arcade game. Little ironic wouldn't you think?  It was a party favorite since you go against three of your friends, flinging the wheel and pounding on the Turbo buttons for a crazy win.  That was a sad day, but its going to make a pot head in Grass Valley very happy. Upon opening his garage when I delivered it with my buddy, we were hit with a wall of some really good smelling stuff, and a "Dude, that thing is awesome!"
The next thing on the list is my Nintendo Wii. This actually helped me lose some weight in the early stages with the Wii Fit as my nightly 30-60 minute workout after dinner. And while it caused some uproar when it first came out, the Wii telling me "Brett is fat" over and over, kept me motivated. The first time it said "Brett is normal" was one of the greatest days as well! Hopefully it finds its way to a new home where it can bring some fun to kids.

You can find it on Ebay here

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Playlist round 2

OK, I broke out a new playlist for class last night and people seemed to like it. Check them out for yourselves. This is a 1:43 mix, so good for some extended workouts.

I can't believe my trainer friends that put together so many mixes. It must get exhausting trying to find new music for their classes. I'm just doing this for fun right now, I'm sure it gets not-fun really quick.

The Melee - Beastie Boys

Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John

LDN - Lily allen

Pink Vapor Stew - Fishbone

Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus

Alcohol - Barenaked Ladies

I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness

I Predict a Riot - Kaiser Chiefs

Finding Out True Love is Blind - Louis XIV

Triple Trouble - Beastie Boys

Peaches - The Presidents of the United States of America

An Honest Mistake - The Bravery

Walkie Talkie Man - Steriogram

Bright Future in Sales - Fountains of Wayne

Riot Radio - The Dead 60's

In One Ear - Cage the Elephant

C'mon C'mon - The Von Bondies

Cannonball - The Breeders

Dynamite - Taio Cruz

Warrior - Lloyd Banks

Natural One - Folk Implosion (Couldn't find the album online so here's an alternative)

The World is New 1 - Save Ferris

Flagpole Sitta - Harvey Danger

Was The Day - Steriogram

girldfriend - Matthew Sweet

Don't Trust Me - 3OH!3

I'm in the Bay B**** - LMFAO

The Boys Of Summer - Ataris

Sweet Disposition - Temper Trap

Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Friday, October 29, 2010

M2 Playlist

A lot of friends have been asking me for the playlist I created for a spin class at M2 Revolution for the past few weeks, so I figured I'd put it up here for everyone to buy if they want. The whole list is around 2 hours now, so great for a run or class.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crazy week in Kona!

Unfortunately I'm back mainland again after an amazing week in Kona with the whole family cheering my Dad at the IM World Championships. It was a great trip, thanks Mom and Dad, and it is just adding to my inspiration to race there someday.

Here are some highlights for everyone as writting in detail might take too long.

Volcano! The kids were really excited to get out to the volcano on the Big Island. It was a fun day trip out of Kona and we found the "Southernmost Bakery in the USA", Punalu'u, and it was GOOD! The volcano was fun too, but half the rim was closed because the wind was blowing the toxic gasses too close. Lava tubes, Pele Hair, and the gas vents all entertained the kids for hours so it was a great trip!

Swimming at Dig-Me Beach. This is one of the major highlights for everyone next to the Underpant Run. The Espresso Bar out on the water, pro's blazing through the water, being able to see in the water (Aquatic Park is mud in comparison), swimming with sea turtles, and so much more!

Underpants Run! Besides the excitement of meeting Michellie Jones, very cool in person, I'll just lets some pictures tell the story. Just so everyone knows, I work for the company that makes most of the Hello Kitty stuff you see.

Running some Pro's. I got to hang out with my buddy Lewis Elliot and another pro Matt Lieto for a swim and run. Was happy to hold pace with them while being able to hold a conversation too!

Race Day! Up with Dad really early and onto our bus with Endurance Sports Travel, thank Ken! I was Dad's sherpa all week and we got him safely to transition and all checked in and Lewis and I were really excited for the day as we sent him off to the swim start. This was a long day, but well worth it. Running around from "Hot Corner", fun at the pool with the nieces and nephews, seeing Dad come blazing back on the bike, chasing him around the island on the marathon riding my bike. I probably did an decent backwards duathlon! Riding my bike out on the Queen K after dark gave me new respect for all the people who have to grind out Ironman. Its pitch black out there and lonely. In a normal Ironman there would be more of a scene out there with varying ages and abilities, but for the most part people were on their own besided the kick-ass aid stations the locals set up. I cheered on who I could as I rode up and down the Queen K monitoring my Dad's progress and once he entered the Energy Lab it was time to head back.

These were probably the best Ironman shirts made:

Waiting for Dad's return was a very anxious time. He had to bail on the marathon as Switzerland, but hew was doing a better job this go around of managing effort. Abby, or Scottsdale friend, went out on course to run a little with him on his way in and gave us a well needed heads up on his return. We cheered him on going through "Hot Corner" one last time, and then ran off to the finish line. If anyone has a chance to see this spectable after dark they should take it. Marinda Carfrae made an appearance to cheer on the late finishers which is amazing. The announcers, music, swag flying, and spectators screaming, created an atmosphere that you could see pulled runners home. I saw Dad coming down the shoot and got my spot. Here's a video of the finish. Every time I see it I feel so proud of my Dad and continue to gain excitement for my next race.

Thanks to the whole family who made this a great trip. I don't get to see everyone that much and it was a great family reunion of sorts to cheer Dad on.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Injury timeout OVER!

The past two weeks have been the longest I've had to suffer in a while. Luckily there was some RnR in Vegas and work trips involved, but I think that probably extended my recover time a bit.

Two weeks ago I was still in racing mode and upping the ante a little for a 35k trail race in Woodside, CA. My body had a different opinion. It was still banged up from falling in transition at Santa Barbara, and my left leg probably wasn't firing on all cylinders. I knew my body wasn't all there, but wanted to attempt the distance as I have the North Face 50k in December as the next big event.

Race morning started normal, but fell apart from there. Driving to Woodside, a heavy fog descended on the road, and I ended up blowing by a cop. He was definitely going to come after me, but a nice exit was right up ahead! Dodging the ticket I figured was a good sign, but not my normal race morning. Next up, forgot my hydration belt at home. Had my bottles though, so I was running with them in my hands for three hours. Not too big of a deal. Race starts and stayed mellow, not pushing out the gate as I really didn't warm up much.

Not even a mile in, I'm trailing close behind someone because they slowed down and POP! Rolled an ankle on a rock. When it happened it didn't feel too bad, and after a few hundred yards I could put my stride back to normal so cool, I guess I dodged a bullet. Two miles later, bad feelings going to my feet and anything not flat felt bad. I git the three mile mark and stopped to talk to my boss who came to cheer me on (thank you:) and looked down at my ankle.

HOLY CRAP! She asked how I was doing and its the first time in a long time I've said "bad" during a race. First unplanned DNF. I was walking alright, but as I got home, and dragging myself to the store for ice, an eight of a mile, seemed like forever.

Two weeks of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are now over and I'm ready to get back to training, but taking that time off is good and bad. First off, your body isn't used to the forced break. Yes there are "off-seasons", but doing near nothing is excruciating! Didn't sleep very well for the first few days, and a lot of "pity" eating. In the log run, it was more than likely my body telling me to stop for a bit and recover after Ironman, and I think it was right. I am more than excited to get back to it now.

Lessons to remember
#1 Make sure you are alright before proceeding after a crash
#2 During trail runs, give enough room ahead of you to see the trail
#3 Don't half-ass things, if you are going to race, race. I should have asked the runner ahead to pass
#4 Take a realistic view of recovery
#5 Keep long term goals in mind when looking at short term

Monday, August 30, 2010

Santa Barbara Triathlon

This weekend was a great trip to Santa Barbara for my first time and it was all that everyone described. Beautiful beaches, incredible mountain and an amazing race set for Saturday.

This is a different distance than most races being a mile swim, 34 mile bike and 10 mile run, but I felt it suited me better than doing the Olympic race at Alcatraz this same weekend. The 10 mile run will give me a chance to test my legs after IM Suiss and I feel running has been my stronger leg out of anything so my chance of breaking my 4th place streak were good.

Up at 4:30, ate my usual bagel with peanut butter and honey, some coffee and a banana and I was out the door to the race. Just a quick ride down the street and of course I was one of the first to transition, which was good since this is a free for all transition area with no set spots. Mulled around for a bit finding friends and then getting ready for the swim start.

I really didn't think too much about the swim since I had just done an IM a month ago, so a mile swim didn't really throw me very much. It was a beach start with a sprint into surf which I thought was cool. Really hadn't done one in a while. My wave was off and I hit the water first! That didn't last very long as what I was not paying attention to was the wind wipping up surf right before we started. My swim training was a little lacking on the intensity over the past few weeks too, so the mad dash for the first buoy almost caused me to panic in the water and I had to slow for a bit until I calmed down. First turn and finally into a good rhythm. The whole way out on the course was good. Had some drafting partners and the surf had seemed to die down. Making the turn back to the swim finish was another story. Immediately after heading back, chop and wind was causing mass havoc on everyone. No one was swimming straight and you couldn't see people 10 yards ahead due to the waves. Took in a bit of water and was thankful to get out of it. My Ironman swim was easier than this, jeez!

Swim - 28:39

Through transition and hitting the road into a stiff headwind wasn't too bad. I really have to figure out why I can't stand up straight after swimming though. Very thankful the swim was behind and excited to put some effort in. About 20 minutes in, the finaly gift of the swim course came in the form of a mini-puke of peanut butter and salt water, nasty! Taking on the hills after thatwas going to be cake. This course turned out harder than anticipating, but very fun. I hadn't reconed it like I do most bike courses, and if I had it could have been faster as there is a ton of shifting and bling corners that you can carry speed if you knew what was behind it. The hills were hard including the after the turnaround that is a long grinder. After that it was some serious speed nearly all the way to the finish with some exciting 30-35 mph sections in aero!

Bike - 1:36:22

So ready for this run. 10 miles would let me track down about anyone, but first I had to overcome another problem of running with cycling shoes on. Not my best day in transitions as taking a corner my feet just flew out from under me, landing on my knee and hip, bloddied me pretty bad. Even worse is that it is in from on everyone cheering at transition! I laughed and cursed a bit and went tearing off on the run course wondering how the road rash and bruised hip will feel tomorrow.

This out and back course let you see nearly a half mile ahead in spots so you could figure out your chace pace really well and I could see my next Age Grouper WAY out there, but no panic as 10 miles is along way, and he was hammering the bike to get out there. 5 miles out with a gradual climb and 5 miles back rip roaring down! Clipping away at mile after mile around 6:45 pace, I was reeling in my competition, as well as the Masters division and a Pro or two. Just as we approached mile 5 and the turnaround, I got him! Cruising by I tried to get him to kick it up, but he was keeping to his pace. Just at that moment my next challenge appeared in a 49 year old woman who flew by me like I was standing still! Luckily she started 5 minutes before, but at the pace she was running, I didn't think I could keep that window over 5 miles. I had to put the hammer down to keep from getting chick'd.

Slight downhill grades are awesome form me. I get to stretch my stride and absolutely fly! Hitting mile markers with splits of 6:05-6:18 was amazing all the way home. My only thoughts were holding out for my 5 minutes and pressing my overall standing, but there was nobody around to run with. Digging deep I hit the last mile and know I had a little reserve to throw in a kick. The crowd along the beachfront was great. I got to see all my friends looking strong on the way out on the run too which made me happy. The volunteers, tourists, locals, all came out to cheer everyone on and it helped push me along faster. Crossing the line at 3:11:24 was a little off goal time, but there were some outside influences effecting everyone, so my podium quest was still in my head. Finding the results billboard I was almost in disbelief, 2nd!

Run - 1:03:35

I was really thrilled at the time when one of the ladies in the medical tent pulled out her iPhone and took a pic of me getting cleaned up, but it definitely a keeper for a real bonehead move. Have to learn to get out of my shoes before T2!

Finally hitting the podium in style in a bigger race this year and not just backing into 3rd. So happy with the performance.

Pre-Race - Bagel, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, honey, banana, bottle of Powerade
Bike - Bottle of cytomax and a bottle of water, 1 Hammer Gel
Run - Cups of Gatorade at each aid station, 1 Hammer Gel(Espresso) before turn-around

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When the voices come back

Those dang voices are back! No not the crazy ones, but the ones telling you "its alright to slow down", "you had a hard weekend, you don't have to push it today". BLAH! Listening to that little devil on your shoulder is completely different than listening to your body. My body wants to tear into some training right now, so I'll let it. That little devil on my shoulder has different ideas.

Cycling class was full of those voices trying to get me to lay off the effort. Ironman has come and gone with great success, and now its time to reach for the new goals and I'm not going to achieve them if I let the voices take control. Two weeks was enough taking it easy, and I think it was more mentally draining than my actual training was!

Santa Barbara is the next race, and training has been going well over the past two weeks. Big push this week as I want some good results and to finally crack the podium in a bigger race this year. Too many 4th places this year. Its been a huge step up from last year and I'm happy with my progress, but still frustrating.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ironman Lessons

After finishing my first Ironman and making it out unscathed I do not want to take anything for granted. Thinking my preparation was perfect would be a recipe for dissaster next go around, and if you are not improving, you are taking a step back. Two weeks have passed since the race and many points have come to mind, both good and bad that will help in the next race, and hopefully others venturing out on their first Ironman race, so take these as a grain of salt, because everyone is different and that leads me to my first point.

Everyone is different - Just leave it at that leading up to a race. People prepare and strategize for Ironman in their own way. Different coaches, different goals, different abilities. The only thing that comes out of trying to convince someone else, or defending your plan is doubt entering into your mind about your plan. Confidence is a huge part of making it to the finish line, so come up with YOUR plan and leave the race to unfold.

Fueling - M2 has it right in that people tend to over-fuel during a race. Some tweaks may come for my next race which will be HOT, but here is what I took in on the bike. 1 Bottle Perpetuum, Powerbar Chews, 2 Gu, 2 half bananas, 2 bottles Powerbar drink, 2 bottles water, half bottle cola. The run was alternating between Water and Cola to Powerbar drink, 1 Gu, 2 handfulls of pretzels.

Let people be - The day before a race people need to do what they need to do. If someone wants to leave dinner, let them, but make sure they pay first. If they want to sleep a little longer, fine. Just don't expect anyone to help you, or get pulled into other's problems (if you have the time or want to, that is entirely up to you). Personally, I'm extremely selfish race morning. I hope that doesn't come back as bad Karma for me, but anyone who races should understand (significant others will not).

Ab work - After countless hours swimming, thousands of miles biking, and hundreds running, don't neglect the core strength. This was missing from my workouts in the last month and that is probably where the ab spasms in the beginning of my run came from. It took a lot out of me in the first quarter of the the marathon so I need to remember this come next race.

Stay with your strategy - On the bike I got away from my original goal and tried for more. I was on track for my 5:00 bike, and got greedy too early and hammered out on the the way out of the second lap. Sticking to your plan is the best antidote if you can keep control of the devils in your head. Hammering a flat when hills are coming may feel great, but the end result is a slower hill climb, and legs that won't perform over the long haul.

Hopefully this helps me for next time, and maybe for someone else too, but like I said, everyone should race the race they prepared for. Its a shame to go out and feel you left something out there.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shoe options for Chuck

My big brother is getting into running so I'm here to help him pick some shoes. He's in about the same spot I was when I started back up, so cushioning and support are key.

All the above should have enough cusioning, but if you want some addtional support for your feet, go for the Pearl Izumi Cruises a few posts below.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ironman Switzerland

Ironman Switzerland was an incredible experience for my first of hopefully many to come. All week the city was buzzing with triathletes from around the world. I travelled with my parents and friends from Tri-Scottsdale for this event and I couldn't have asked for better company to get me through it. Add to that, an old high school friend who lives in Zurich now, and SF Tri's own Ken Jung, and there isn't much that could have made it better.
Race morning came early with a 3:30 alarm. I had a good night sleep which was not expected. Getting my final preparations together and off to breakfast at the hotel who opened their restaurant early for the large number of athletes staying there. Unfortunately at 4am they didn't staff too well for a packed house, so I was off fighting for some fresh coffee for my father and myself. Downing some bread with peanut butter and honey, muesli with yogurt and some fruit, we all got ready for the short bus trip to race start.

Arriving at transition, as always we were some of the first. Ironman Switzerland had provided us with bike covers to keep everything nice and dry for race day, but it wasn't necessary. We had perfect 55 degree weather and just a light overcast to keep it from getting too hot too early. Setting up transition and pumping the tires went without event. This Ironman has you come back to your transition spot between all aspects of the race, so no bike or run bags to deal with. Once I had everything set up it was off for some "business". All was setting up for a great race day!

Wetsuit on, final paranoid check for everything and a 10 minute walk to the start. Switzerland has a two loop swim course with a water start. Everyone was allowed in the water for a warm-up, then they kick everyone out of the lake for the Pro start. They give the Age Groupers a minute warning to swim to the start buoys then supposedly fire a gun for the mass start. I didn't hear a gun, but all the sudden people were swimming, and rather than get run over, I was off too!

The race for the first buoy was very calm in the water which actually freaked me out. I was waiting to get thrashed, but it never really happened. Clean water and some drafting found me at the turn in not time. A polite group at this point made the turn, but then all hell broke loose as this brought everyone together and fighting for a good line. Jumping on someone's feet I was moving up, following bubbles. Sighting wasn't a problem as with the clear water I could see people all around, so rather than fight for what I thought was the best line, I just went with it. All the sudden though, SMACK, elbow to the goggles. Had to slow down for a minute to regain my composure or risk freaking out in the water as I did in Wildflower. Saw stars for a minute too, but once it subsided my goal was to find my next draft. Getting some great swimmers to lead me was a godsend and I could feel some good speed with a long stoke heading to the net turn and into the finish of the first lap. The final turn and under a bridge to the end of the first lap was a choke point for the race. A pro man made it worse as it looked like he was clinging to it for dear life and I think I heard him crying! Getting up on the exit ramp and running over a small island to mark the first lap I came in at 29 minutes, hitting my goal time as it is slightly shorter than the second.

Lap 2 was uneventful, but due to the thinning field, and worse overall navigation by everyone, I was left to fend for myself for the correct route. Halfway around lap two and I swim up on a poor soul who lost hit cap and goggle. I felt bad for a second and then WHAP on the head from him. After a second, I realized, shit, he's trying to grab my goggles. Luckily I wear mine under my cap so he was not successful, but it gave me an adrenalin boost to help sprint away for a minute. Coming into the finish I had it in my head to avoid the same bottle-neck I hit on lap 1, but I misjudged my line and back in it. As everyone slowed someone grabbed my leg high around the thigh and pulled. This unfortunately for him, allowed me the throttle my leg back and it definitely did some damage. Another boost of adrenaline and I raced for the finish ramp and out to my bike. Swim time of 1:05:26 - Goal!

Ripping off my wetsuit (no creature comforts like wetsuit strippers here), tri shirt, helmet, socks, and cycling shoes on and I run to the bike course. Jumping on the bike I remember to take it easy for the first 20 minutes. This was hard as people went racing by, and a huge crowd was lining the course already. Letting my heart settle I could finally start to put the pedal down and hit a great cruising speed along Lake Zurich. The 20 mile stretch along the lake is flat and fast, hitting 25 mph easily. I read about this race from previous race reports and the blatant drafting the Euro's do here. Coming into the race I was really tempted to follow suit, but for the first lap there was no real opportunity anyways. Feeling great through the flats you come to the hills in the suburbs of Zurich. These mountain towns were awesome with local polka bands and massive cowbells the size of a small animal lining the streets. I would get passed by groups on the hills, then crest and track them down on the flats for most of this lap. Definitely tracking a lot of the strong swimmers, and holding with the good cyclists. Heading up "The Beast" and a slow climb afterwards was a little demoralizing as it was not as advertised, and much longer of climbs than described. Keeping my pace and my head, the course tears down a huge grade which got us over 50 mph and cruising back to the city for a short loop up "Heartbreak Hill". This is the coolest part of the ride as it is almost like a mountain Tour stage with people crowding the street and only a few feet gap in between. A dramatic descent back to the lake and off to lap 2.
Getting a bit amped up with a 2:28 lap, my head filled with visions of a negative split. In retrospect this was stupid, but I was having a blast blowing by people and after a while I had a pack drafting off me. Whenever I would let up, someone would cruise by and drop right in front of me, causing me to draft. Being good I would drop back, but another person would just drop in again! Fed up, after two more drop ins, I decided to hammer it out to make sure I wouldn't get a dreaded card. Heading into the hills though, a huge pack went blasting by me as my legs were a bit hammered. Some justice prevailed as one of the pack came up beside me, and just at that time, a motorcycle too, with a black card! My heart stopped for a second, but it was for him and he started a very loud "discussion" in some language I couldn't decipher. The rest of the lap was a bit the same as the first, just a little slower. Nutrition was very basic. Bottle of Perpetuum, Cliff Bar, 2 GU's, Coke, 2 bottles of Powerbar drink, and 2 bananas I picked up at aid stations (about 1100 calories). It may be a little low, but I think the fade on the bike came from hammering ealry on the second lap. They don't have special needs bags at this race, but an additional Perpetuum may have been good.

Bike finish 5:08:48.

Time for my run speed to shine! Nope, not 100 yards into it, my abs began freaking out. This made me freak out and the paranoia of walking a marathon and not breathing well caused for a slow first three miles. Finally it subsided, and I could breath deep again. Cruising the first lap I felt horrible from all that. Getting out on the second lap though, a pit stop was in order. Sitting down in the porta-john caused the next worse thing to happen, my groin spasmed and I don't know what anyone outside thought, but there were some crazy screams coming out. Finally I just relaxed and by muscle released so I could finish my business. Jumping out of the porta-john wasn't the best idea and the groin screamed at me again, but not as bad and I could run it off. After a mile everything was fine and I could feel my stride improving and getting the pace up. Alternating gatorade and fruit, water and coke for aid stations, my energy level felt great. The laps were ticking away and I was holding pace! They give you these colored arm bands to mark what lap you are on, from Green to Yellow, to Blue and finally Red. Passing many people now on my run, and not seeing many with the color ahead made me feel even better, even with my early troubles.

Heading out on the final lap there was enough left to open up my stride and keep pressing. The entire run course was picketed by people yelling and cheering in every language. "Go San Francisco", "Go Brett" kept pushing me along, and even with the pain raining in my feet and shoulders, I could see more an more of the cyclist who passed me, many trying to work out cramps or just trudging along. The only person to pass me on the final lap was a Pro guy, but I had 5 minutes on him from the start, and I picked off a few Pro women too! Two dudes from my AG appeared and pressed to pass me with two miles left after the final turnaround, this was it. These were some of the guys drafting me along the lake and I was having none of it on the run. All or nothing my legs responded and pressing through the crowed course you could hear my grunting pick up, and a massive stride develop giving it all. Hitting the home stretch and after a small turnaround point I had put some serious distance on them and could enjoy the finish shoot.

I've never celebrated a finish of a race before, but this was different. So much time and effort put in, losing the weight, the sacrifices, and all the support from friends, co-workers, coaches and family. An experience of many firsts, hardests, worsts, and best things all wrapped up in an amazing event. Words can't describe the feeling and my eyes started to tear and I raised my arms in triumph because I was finally an IRONMAN!

Run time - 3:31:59
Finish time - 9:51:33

Monday, July 12, 2010

TI and Packing

I just couldn't resist one last race before heading out to Switzerland and it was a great one. Many people hack on SF Treasure Island Triathlon because of the six looped bike course, but I love it as you get a great chance to put some serious intensity in.

The swim felt fast, but was slowed a little by currents. I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better, but a few guys I have raced against this year had approximately 2 minutes added to their normal time so its legit. I got out of the water 2nd in my Age Group, so great improvements there! T1, different story as I lost any advantage, taking 2 minutes to everyone else's 1. I never know what I'm doing and should actually practice doing a T1, or at least strategize.

The bike is just a hammerfest that seems like a Formula 1 course. Max effor with 90 degree turns and tons of lap traffic. Hopefully people weren't too pissed with the constant "ON YOUR LEFT" screams. Nearly 23 mph average with a slow lap to begin and end, but i'll take it. Was hoping for a little more.

T2, fast. Thought of ways to take a few seconds off, but I was on par with everyone else. Out on the three lap out and backs. Flat run and crusing. Three guys in front of me so I had to chase. 1st and second were keeping their distance on me, but 3rd was reeling in. Pressing halfway through the second lap though and it felt like someone punched me in the stomach! Never had a cramp in a race before and I nearly paniced. The only thing to do is slow down. It took a quarter mile, but it subsided and I was back to my chase, hoping I had enough real estate to get 3rd. On my way out the last lap I took the minute the 3rd place guy had and brought it to 30 seconds, time to charge home the last mile. Unfortunately he has some kick to and the final stretch saw us race in with the same margin.

Great race and I learned a lot. I was using my Ironman nutrition for this race and I think I had a bit too many calories in my stomach for the intensity of that run. I have my IM breaking point now at least. 4th AG and 13th overall for a very competitive race isn't bad either. Feeling good about Zurich and my goals.

Now its time to pack up the bike and everything else. Packing has been difficult and I keep looking back at what seems an enternity ago when my group started this whole experience. At the same time it also feels like yesterday it all started too. Soo many training sessions of fun and pain leaves the last six months a blur. I'm trying to make sure I don't get too excited yet. Three flights is going to be a long trip.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Final preparation - 4th of July Weekend

With just over two weeks until my big race in Switzerland I had the joy of hearing all about my training partners experiences at Ironman CDA and dive into my last training weekend. Its funny that it took me until now to integrate a fun weekend with my non-tri friends, but I guess that's how it goes. I've missed out on a few events like this because of training, so it was time break a few rules and figure it out.

A group of us were heading up to a friend's house in Sonoma along the Russian River about 85 miles north. I dropped of a bag for someone to take up for me, and I was getting my training this weekend by riding to and from Sonoma. Highway 1 North from San Francisco is always amazing, but this time I was heading into uncharted territory and it was great. Tamales and Bodega Bay are great spots that I have to get back to while I'm not hammering away in aero, trying to hide from a blasting head-wind. Total ride 105 after adding a few twists to the route.

Arriving at my friend's place I was excited because a few friends had not seen me in a few years. My buddy Paul was stunned at how much weight I had cut, while this has gotten a little old from other people, it meant a good deal from him as he is nearly a body builder and one of the more health conscience people I know. The others from the house were heading off wine tasting, but all I could think about was the BBQ at the Monte Rio Fire Station I rode by then soaking in the river. Fireworks to cap it off, great day!

Sunday was filled with a 15 mile fast run and kayaking up and down the river. Great run at 7:15 pace, and who knew kayaking was such a workout!? Arms were about to fall off after two and a half hours. I hope that substitutes for a swim? Back to the house to chill and cook up some pork tenderloin for dinner and watch Hot Tub Time Machine. Not at all a "good" movie, but freaking hillarious.

Finally realize that I get up earlier on the weekends than I do for work. Not sure how that happens, especially when you add a few drinks into the mix. Monday was my ride home on a slightly shorter route, but whouldn't you know it, the wind shifted and is coming from the south now. I get to ride into a nice 20 mph heading 80 miles home. Perfect!

It was worth it for the weekend I would have missed if I stayed to plan on my training. A little flexibility goes a long way to helping your mental state. Its been a long journey and these friends I don't get to see very often always put a smile on my face. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Shoes!

I loved my Pearl Izumi tri cycling shoes so much, I'm switching my running shoes from Asics as well. I'll let you know how I like them in a week or so after some long runs.

First Run-10 Miles: Felt great with really no break in either. The seam-less upper is much better than my last Asics Gel Nimbus. Asics had alway done my feet well, but my my last pair has some annoying seams over the big knuckle of my big toe, not with my new Cruise's. I run neutral and mid-foot strike, but I think heal strikers would like these as well as they have a little rise in the heel and the transition to launching into the next stride was effortless. 15 Miler coming up this weekend so we'll see how the cushioning holds up as well as a blister report.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


No, this post is not about dieting, but about diet. Dieting for an athlete is not an option, and event though I restrict how I eat, I still get to eat a lot which leaves me the strength to push hard in workouts, but keeps weight slipping off me.

Getting to that golden combination of food to make you perform your best is not easy, and I still haven't found it, but a great process I have inadvertently stumbled upon is to pick something to improve in your diet once a month to make sure it works for you.

I say one thing at a time because different people react to different things. If you scrap everything you eat all at once and start from scratch, your body may revolt against it, leaving you to trial and error to discover what did it. Changing one thing a month is not such a daunting endeavor either. Over the past two years my major changes have been.....

1. killing fast food and eating Subway
2. reducing the footlong to a six inch Subway
3. switching from the bag of chips to the fruit for lunch
4. Grapenuts and another cereal for breakfast
5. Adding blueberries to my cereal
6. Eating a Powerbar mid-afternoon to keep metabolism going
7. Switching from the Powerbar to a banana
8. Piece of fruit mid-morning to reduce the overeating urge at lunch
9. Stop gorging after long bike rides with Fried Chicken or Burrito
10. Keep fruit in the house instead of starchy snacks

A few other changes did not work very well. Some things did not agree with my stomach and some bad things resulted, other things just were not filling enough for me either.

The goal should be to add to your diet's nutrition, not take away calories. Eating better will fire up your metabolism and make you feel better before and after workouts to self perpetuate weight loss and well-being.

Some of the best ideas I incorporate into my eating habits come from articles on,, slowtwitch, so keep up with what the athlete experts are professing, and stay away from the fads that can seriously hurt your end goals.

Friday, June 18, 2010


As a month until my first Ironman draws near, I have been looking back at the past 6 months and few years and realize there is much to appreciate from my journey. Family, friends, training buddies, and my employer.

Many of us triathletes get quite self absorbed in our quest for improvement or weight loss. At times this can alienate the people who care about us as well as pay us. No one can go through their training alone, so make sure to let these people know how much they mean to you. Who know, you might even inspire someone to take the dip into triathlon, or just fitness in general. Your employer may even want to publicize your adventure to the rest of the company, or use you for advertising in a race.

While triathletes plug away a their schedule, everyone else is going about their lives. Keeping those friends and family attachments should still have a place in your life because in an instant life can take it all away.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shopping for Europe

I'm probably going to go a bit nuts gearing up for this trip. Too much to try to absorb and it might get a little expensive.

Promotion present to myself too!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Endurance training can take a toll on you physically and mentally. From the daunting hours put in running, swimming and biking, your body takes a beating, but also your mental state. It is important to always keep the reason you are doing this in perspective and what you must accomplish to meet your goal.

These goals can range from just completing a race or a specific time on that day. My goal is to qualify for Kona to race with my Dad. Many times I wonder if this is a realistic goal. This just adds to the mental fatigue of the long process of Ironman training. When I'm feeling exhausted and at a loss to get to my next training session I have two things that get me there, my teammates and my coach. These two groups are the reason I can pull through the tired, agonizing days because they are in it with me. We all don't have the same down days, so pulling each other through is an all too important aspect of our training.

Having a coach was one of the best decisions for my adventure into Ironman. Michael McCormack (M2 as he calls himself) has been instrumental in our groups progression through intermediate triathletes, to full blown Ironman athletes. Coaching is a very tricky thing to be good at. Its not just about laying out workouts, or strategies. To get to your best performance, many times you need someone to pull it out of you. You see this in regular life with parents and mentors and with a monumental event in Ironman, it is almost necessary if you want to be at your peak. M2 has a way to read people and figure out the best way to get them going. For me it is competition and some positive reinforcement. I'm sure he could sense my exhaustion this week and he was there to instill some faith that what I was improving from what he has seen over the past month. In his group spin classes he has a great "duel" workout to passively give a goal to everyone who wants it by giving the "easy" workout for beginners, and the hard workout for his Ironman/veteran athletes. Subconsciously people will want to get to the hard workout, and probably try it without the risk of opening themselves up to failure. These types of motivational pieces are insurmountable in the coaching world and to have someone in your corner who knows how and when to apply them is invaluable.

Thanks M2

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blatant grasp for money

So as I continue writing and getting more snipets of tips of the blogging trade, I get a little curious about what you can do on a blog. This post is going to be a blatant product placement for all the things I use during training because I want to see what Amazon comes up with when I post them.

I plan to have reviews of all the products, but usually when I don't like something, they are immediately discarded. If they make it to real useage, then I love them.

Run Race Shoes - K-Swiss K-Ona

Tri Race Cycling Shoes

Running Trainers



Compression Socks

Endurance Drink

Recovery Drink

Monday, May 31, 2010

Silencing the voices in your head

When gearing up for an Ironman, its hard enough to keep your friends and family's opinions out of your decision making; "You never come out any more", "You don't have time for us", "I like fat Brett better". To add to that, if you want to get faster, there is this evil little voice that has even more power over you, and its in your own head. Keeping that voice silent, or at least muffled, is a great feat, and not very easy.

The voice comes from not having confidence in your ability. First, let me say that everyone has their goal for racing, and it may not be to be fast, but to just finish, and that is a great accomplishment. My point today is for those trying to break boundaries in their training, pushing past exhaustion and into uncharted territory. The little voice/devil wispering is the biggest detriment to training and everyone has to deal with it no matter what level they train at. The voice is constantly telling you to "let up" or "slow down" because it doesn't think your body can handle it. This isn't some ghost following you, it is your own mind because you haven't pushed your body hard enough to know what it can do.

Unfortunately for me, I'm heading into an Ironman, and I've never gone that fast for that long in my life. I have a bunch of 70.3's under my belt, so that gives me some confidence in my abilities, but trying to mentally prepare myself for 10 hours of screaming back at this voice has created some self doubt as I'm sure many Ironman rookies have faced.

Running today I started to strategize how to beat the voice. Riding a brutal 100 miles yesterday, I figured my legs would be a little tired, so my running adventure would be to keep my marathon pace for 12 miles with no nutrition. Strapping on my Garmin with heart rate monitor I was out the door. Cruising through Golden Gate Park to the Great Highway (downhill) it was easy to keep pace. Clipping along I was feeling great, even with a headwind at the beach. At the turn and coming back, still felt good, but with 4 miles left, the voice hit hard and I could feel my body start to fight itself to keep pace. I felt fine, but with nutrition depleting, your head plays funny games with itself. My pace fell and I switched to heart rate mode and it was well below where I thought it would be for my pace. With this knowledge I fought back and brought my pace back up. The uphill back home was a constant struggle to tell myself I could keep the pace constant by keeping a keen eye on my heart rate. Even with the voice screaming to pull back, I knew my HR was well below exhaustion. Hitting my second half split back home, I pulled in negative 2 minutes.

The one thing I try to keep in mind is my threshold level on the run. Your HR threshold is the only limit to getting to your running PR. While there is a limit to how long and how close you can come to it, a good strategy for your running race is managing this level. I know mine is around 175 bpm. Anywhere near that and my body starts to collapse and my stride fails. For every distance you can find a recommended percentage of that number, but everyone should find their threshold number before arbitrarily deciding what it is. The 220 minus age is not legitimate. People's body's are different. The way I found mine is hill repeats. Find an extended hill of about a half mile and start to find yours!

A good way to go about this is with a Heart Rate monitor and a good warmup. Many peoples' HR's will go crazy for the first 10 minutes, so nice and fluid before starting your monitor. Start the set with a strong effort the first hill, but hold back so you can see how your body responds to the first one or two. After that, continuously push yourself faster up the hill. At threshold, you should have to breath in for a step and exhale a step. My hill 5 of six created my fastest split and highest HR the last test I performed. This repetition had me exceed threshold though, and nearly hyperventilate by the top of the hill as I couldn't keep up my breathing, but success! I found my limit!

Knowing your limits and pushing them higher is the only way to create a breakthough performance. If you are looking to get to that next level, as always, temporary pain and suffering is the easiest way to get there.

This is not a one time thing either. As you improve, your threshold increases. The body is great at adapting to increased stress, improving circulation, and growing stonger. Your limit a month ago, may not be the same as today so make sure to keep in touch with where your body is to get the most out of your performaces.