Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December M2 Playlist

The holidays are upon us and that means its time to blow some money on iTunes from the gift cards I've received for presents!  This playlist was sponsored by my girlfriend's sister Allyson, thanks!

Approximately 90 minutes, House mix but pretty accessible for all listeners. Great for a grinding trainer session.

Darth&Vader vs FTampa - LukeSkyTampa (Original Mix)

Tiesto - Ten Seconds Before Sunrise (First State Remix)

Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice

deadmau5 - Sofi Needs a Ladder (MosDam Remix)

Junior Senior - Move Your Feet

Paul Oakenfold - Faster Kill Pussycat (feat Brittany Murphy)

Hard Rock Sofa & St. Brothers - Blow Up (Hook N Sling Goodwill Remix)

Linnea Schossow - Someone Like You (Alex M.O.R.P.H.'s Darth Morph Radio Edit)

Nikjam & The Meena - Goodride Feat MC Freeflow

DJ Dan - Rock the the Rhythm (Starkillers Remix)

Paul Oakenfold - Sex 'n' Money (feat Parrell Williams)

Cicada - The Things You Say (Bpm Radio Edit)

Wolfgang Gartner - Space Junk (I hate it when the music I like gets picked up by the Shore)

Wolfgang Gartner - Front to Back (Album is 'Hot for Teacher' go figure)
Not available on Amazon, but iTunes has it

Paul Oakenfold - Sleep (Marcus Schossow Perfecto Mix) [feat. Tamra]

Duck Sauce - Barbara Streisand

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fat and Happy Time!

My days are definitely much different right now compared to two months ago.  Trying to get back into the swing of things training wise, but no deadlines, or target workouts which has been great.  Cooking has been a distraction as well, but this adds to the waistline.  All experts say to put on a few pounds in the "off season", but I may have overdone it.

Adding to that, Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner!  One thing I love about this time of year, is our annual Thanksgiving luncheon at work.  When we fist started it, nobody wanted to cook the turkey, because, well, its hard!  Adding to the fact that it would have to be cooked overnight for a lunch, it was nearly a no-go.  Then when I researched it a bit, we realized we could fry it in the morning before lunch.  I have to say that fried turkey is incredible.  The fact that it takes an hour to cook, erases pretty much any negative there is about frying since a normal turkey takes 5-6 hours when you add in everything involved.  All I do to fry it, is clean it, dump some seasoning, heat up the oil and drop it in.  When it comes to enjoying your Thanksgiving, taking away the stresses is an easy thing to do.  The big stress of day is cooking the bird, so with that out of the way, everyone is happier.  My Mom found out I could do this and she hasn't cooked a turkey since.

I do warn you though, the first time, all in, its over $100.
- $50-80 on the fryer
- $20 for the oil
- $10-30 for the turkey, given size and quality

I'll also share this as a public service announcement and some amusement for everyone who may try this:

Here is the burner I use:

Here's a price point for 4 gallons of oil, I only use 3 for a 14 pound bird:

Disappointingly, I can't try to pawn off a link to buy a turkey from Amazon, 
So, what all is involved.

#1 Buying the equipment

Most hardware stores have one or two models to choose from.  I've used three different types and none of them have any great benefit over the other, so just go with the least expensive.  One cool feature is the idiot cutoff switch they started building into the units.  This has a timer and a button attached to the fuel line.  Every 15 minutes it turns off the burner unless you are there to hit the button.  Good for distracted people, or those with kids that are urgently pulled away from the blowtorch.

When buying the fryer, it is the best time to buy the oil.  They should have 3 gallon jugs like the Crisco one in the pic right.  this is nearly the most expensive portion of the project.

#2 Buying your turkey.

Depending on how many people to cook for, I always end up getting a 13-15 pound turkey.  A lot of sources say going over 15 pounds is not safe because it may not cook properly.  At the same time, I don't think a turkey any bigger than 15 pounds fits in the standard pots that come with the fryers.  The first time we fried at the office, my co-worker was in charge of getting the turkey and she got a 25 pounder.  We had to run out the day before and try to find a smaller one, which luckily we did.  Some fun was hacking up the bigger bird in half and then frying it as well though.

It is up to your preference for "Free Range" or Organic turkeys, but the flavor and juiciness comes from the oil and seasonings when frying, so just buy the least expensive, quality brand.  I think it mirrors using really expensive liquor in a mixed drink, don't waste your money.

#3 Prepping

I had never cooked a turkey before frying one so for everyone in the same boat, get the pack with giblets and the neck out.  They will hide it in the body cavity or other places, but it is there.  Not much else to do, just make sure you have plenty of time to thaw.  This morning my turkey was still not thawed enough, so I had to pour hot water into the cavity to get some ice out.  Yes there was a block in there keeping it frozen.  Once I did that it thawed fairly quickly.  Also, the turkey must be dry.  Water or ice heated quickly to 350 degrees nearly explodes which causes most of the injuries when frying a turkey.  Once dry, sprinkle or rub in any assortment of seasonings.  I usually use garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, chili powder, and this year I added one of those Starbucks Via's to the mix as a recommendation from my local Barista. 

#4 Cooking

I usually need a refresher for cooking, directions here, but it can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes per pound to cook.  You need to try to keep the oil around 350 degrees, but once you drop the turkey in, it drops 50 degrees immediately and you are trying to catch back up.  All the kits come with a thermometer, so along with the time, you have to check the temperature of the breast and thigh to make sure its cooked (180 degrees). Once done, wrap it up in foil and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.  Its is a little hard to get the turkey off the basket, so make sure you handle with care.  Mine has screws to remove the bottom brace which is handy.

Here's a quick peak at what happens when you drop the turkey into the oil for the first time.  It roils the oil, but as long as you didn't over fill the bucket, everything should be cool.  Most buckets come with a "Fill Line", so if you overfill it with oil, you've got other problems.

#5 Safety

Make sure to read the directions in the fryer box.  As a reminder, cook at least 10 feet away from the house.  Do not cook under any type of ceiling.  Never leave the fryer unattended.  Very bad things happen when oil boils over on top of a flame thrower.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Once its cooled a bit, its ready to cut and serve like any other turkey and I don't care how bad it sounds, but the skin is amazing.

Enjoy your holidays and don't worry about the few pounds you may put on right now.  There is plenty of time to take them off later.  This is the time of year to enjoy life and have a bit of fun.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October Playlist

Now that I'm back to some normalcy, its back to putting together some new music for class and keep it interesting through a grinding off-season for all.  Around 75 minutes.

Young the Giant - My Body

The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger

Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent

Blink-182 - The Party Song

SnoopDogg & Wiz Khalifa - Young Wild & Free

The Vines - Outtathaway

Dan Black - Pump My Pumps

The Fratellis - Creepin' Up the Backstairs

Downsyde - Master MC

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

Daft Punk - Technologic

Fatboy Slim - Renegade Master

Fukkk Offf - Rock, Paper Scissors

The Vines - Ride

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give it Away

LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It

No Doubt - Excuse Me Mr.

Justice - Genesis

Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows

Hot Hot Heat - No, Not Now

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ironman World Championship 2011

 Kona has come and gone and I couldn't be happier.  Thanks to my family, friends and coaches, this experience was incredible for my first attempt at racing on the Big Island.  Just getting to Hawaii safe looked bleak just  a few weeks ago as a friend and I were hit by a car, then I broke a spoke in the middle of nowhere.  All in all, this year took a lot out of me racing Texas, Canada and now Kona, and while it was a fantastic ride, some down time is in order.  As I've said before, I appreciate how everyone has supported me over this year and I don't think I could ever repay enough for how great that felt before and during the race.

Before even getting on the plane things were off to a ridiculous start.  Mark Allen was sitting 20 feet away in the terminal!  Trying not to stare, of course I get caught a few times.  Boarding the plane, and I see him in his seat, I look at my ticket, HOLY $HIT, he's sitting next to me!  Holding back the urge to scream like a school girl, or like my brother when he saw Dudley Moore in Aspen, I calmly get to my seat and try to coolly let him know I won't bug him "too much".  It was a great flight and we actually didn't talk too much about tri's.  He loves to surf and has a son who is just going to college.  Mark Allen is definitely enjoying living a normal life down in Santa Cruz which is great to see.

Arriving in Kona last Sunday, I was the first of the family.  Thirteen of us were coming to town for Team Iron Kitty, and I was excited to see my brother and sister's families with all the nieces and nephews.  The week was full of fun experiences, and mellow workouts to keep my body tuned up.  Of course some trips to Dig-Me Beach, and the Underpants Run were in order.  Thanks god I don't get sea-sick either.  Some boat trips to pass the time were great, but there was a big swell in the waters that left quite a few queasy.  Wednesday a romantic sunset cruise with Whitney and then a snorkeling trip with the family.  Here's a quick run-down in pictures of the week.

Race Day!
3:00 am wake up, almost on my own.  Slept surprisingly well, about 6 hours!  Normal process, make coffee, bagel with peanut butter, honey, yogurt and granola.  Relax, try to check on how the pre-race IM Live feed and got WAY too excited and shut it off.  Dad got up to hang out with me and drive to the start.  Whitney got up a bit later as well and we were ready to head to Dig-Me beach.  The place is just buzzing with excitement and trying to keep my cool was hard.  Seeing some SF friends there volunteering, Abby and Doug,  was a welcome sight. and helped me calm down a bit.  Around the hotel and to body marking, still holding it together and chatting a bit with anyone that wasn't locked into their "Ironman Stare".  

Marked, stretched, suited up and all my "business" done I head for the water with about 15 minutes left before the cannon goes off.  nerves are still under control, but I'm anxious to get going.  Walking down the steps of Dig-Me beach and reality and immenseness of this event is finally coming to me.  I stand knee deep in the water, just looking around at something I'd worked for over the past 5 years.  It was an honor to race this course, and whatever result came of today I'd be happy, but I wished it would be a great day none the less.  So many other great athletes coming into the water, it was hard not to feel inferior at times.  Just remembering M2 and Tom telling me to race my race and not get caught up in moment, have faith in your training and stay patient and the race will come to you. I decided the best avenue for goals today would just be to break it into three races.  That way if one event goes to shit, I can still concentrate on the next and take home the experience.

Swim - 1:05 to 1:10
Bike - 5:05 to 5:15
Run - 3:15 to 3:25

Wading out in the water, rear the floating Ford, it was much calmer than I expected.  Not much energy to keep afloat, I mulled around and had to move back a few times as the currents pushed everyone forward quite a bit.  The swells were still coming in from the week and there was 3-4 foot waves out on the course.  Its going to be a "fun" swim, especially since I've already documented, swimming is not my strong suit.  I put a great effort in over the past month to improve my swim, so lets go see how this works out.

I hear "1 Minute" over the loudspeaker and get lined up about 10 deep on the start.  Last minute fiddling with watch, goggles, then BOOM!  Holy crap, I didn't hear a countdown!  The race was going with or without me.  Head down and into a good stroke, "this isn't so bad".  Not freaking out, not getting crushed, This is AWESOME!  I was amazed with the civility of everyone.  You'd run into someone, but the both parties would back away.  No wrestling, just cruising along.  Big problem developed at about 10 minutes.  My goggles were leaking.  I tried them out the day before, but yes, fiery salt water coming in.  Had to stop every 5 minutes to get it out.  The swim in itself is great.  The waves and currents were causing some issues for everyone.  Every few breaths would bring a wave and a gulp of saltwater if you weren't paying attention.  Passing the boat and turn buoy, I glance down and see cameras which was fairly amusing.  The water was really clear out there and on a nice day it would be great to float around.  Heading back to the pier because a bit arduous.  The TYR speed suit started tearing into me, and the salt water burned!  No draft I could find for long and my calf muscles were cramping, so not much kick.  Seeing the pier was all I could hope for, and when I finally got there, my first Kona swim was behind me!  Thank God!  From the race pic I figured out that my cap had slid under my goggles, causing the leak.  Damn-it, no more mask for me.

Swim 1:17:04 1259th place - HA! No goal here today as usual.

Off to my favorite part, passing people on the bike!  Not quite as anxious as in Texas since I didn't have to "make up time" for a Kona spot, but still pressing.  Quite dangerous over the first 20 miles anyways with the massive crowds around town and out and backs.  Such a sight though and my family and girlfriend had a fantastic spot at Hot Corner to cheer me on.  Holding a cautious effort, and just wanting to get out on the Queen K was my goal.  My Dad disappeared on us for a while at this point last year and had us worried.  He flatted, so surviving was my only thought.

The climb up Palani was great.  Crowds lining the street, almost like a Tour climb.  I could hear "Go Kitty" all the time which was amusing for me at least.  Cresting the climb and passing my Iron Kitty cheer squad for the last time, I was ready for the long grind out of town to Hawi.

The Queen K was a line of bikes for as long as you could see.  Normally this might be demoralizing, but I was competing against the best in the world, so all I could do is swallow my pride, put my head down, and chase them down.  Had to yell "On your left" a few times, but for the most part, everyone rode correctly.  Definitely some drafting going on in the field, but the ref's were out in force and plenty of red slashes were dished out.  I settled in with a few guys doing about the same as me, and we would pass, and re-pass, and cheer each other on.  No real winds yet, so the trip out was really uneventful except for the first bottle exchange.  Looked like a war zone with bottles everywhere across the road.  Had to be careful and pick the right line. 

This is just a beautiful ride, and I don't think I could even come close to doing is justice describing it.  Rolling through the lava fields, the volcano on one side, and the ocean on the other, I have to go back to take it all in on a relaxed ride.  Making the turn towards Hawi, off the Queen K, there was another big crowd cheering everyone on.  My Dad and I came this way earlier in the week, and the winds were crazy!  20-30 mph side winds the whole time, so it was the only part that worried me.  As we approached Hawi though, purely a headwind.  It was a great sign, but we had to climb a hill, into a stiff headwind which is not what I like to do.  That climb was a grind.  Tucked deep into aero, and pushing 300 watts, I passed quite a few lightweights!  A few wobbles when the wind changed direction a little, but no real surprises.  Making the turn at Hawi and cruising into special needs, my frozen brick water bottles worked great this time!  I had slushie Perpetuum and Gatorade!  Yelled to the girl there was a PayDay in the bag for her, and I was off, ready to crush the downhill with a tailwind!

Before the downhill, the one thing I feel bad about happened when a girl stopped in the road in front of me the the left of the white line.  I was putting a bottle back, and luckily looked up enough to see her and got my bike out of the way, but got a bit of shoulder into her in the process.  Sorry!

Once on the downhill I could see people bracing themselves for the crosswinds.  They never came and I was in full aero, spun out of gears and still accelerating up to 40 mph, WAHOOOOO!  This was my favorite part of the race, and I couldn't believe the winds settled in to the benefit of everyone. Cruising back to the Queen K, the heat was starting to build.  Popping salt like candy, dowsing my body with water and taking in my cool slushies was a treat.  Back on the Queen K it was desolate for a few minutes without many people around.  All the sudden I crest the hill at Hapuna Beach and the amazing line of bikes can be see again for as far as I could see, WOW.  Still had to keep it in my head to ride my own race, or I'd be walking a marathon.  Still an hour and a half left, feet and butt starting to hurt, legs still good though!  The Queen K's winds started to pick up now though and riding into the moderate headwind was going to make my head spin.  Keeping a keen eye on my watts, I pass the airport and it was time to gear down a little in preparation for the run.  Making the last few turns to Hot Corner was a joy as all I wanted to do was get off that bike and RUN!  Fantastic ride at the same time, thanks M2!

 Bike Time - 5:07:20 - 405th split - 609th place, passed over 600 people on the bike!
Watts - 251 Avg

Strava Ride Link

A few things usually go wrong in an Ironman and I nearly forgot my Garmin on my bike in T2.  Luckily, my bike catcher was a fast one, and was half way down the pier, on his was to racking it, so I didn't backtrack too much to go get it off my bike.  Grabbed my run bag, sat down, no cramping (extra salt works! 8 total), shirt and socks changed, visor on, and Iron Kitty is ready to take on a marathon!

Racing uphill and through Hot Corner again, it was hard to contain myself like my coach Tom said would happen.  Looking at my watch, and I had better try because running sub 7 minute pace would either be a ridiculous PR, or a certain flame out by mile 6.  Getting down to Ali'i Drive I settle into a comfortable pace, bouncing between 7-7:30 pace.  People are going nuts for the Hello Kitty shirt, and I am all smiles as a result giving some high fives especially at Lava Java where the crowd is immense.  Flowing down Ali'i, I'm picking off quite a few walkers and slow joggers who probably blew themselves up on the bike.  I knew my buddy Stefan had a good lead on me already, but that was who I was hunting for.

My real highlight was at mile 3 where my family's house is.  I was wondering what was in store for me there and they didn't disappoint:)

I was feeling great throughout Ali'i.  Saw Stefan and gave a good cheer for him.  He had a good 10-15 minutes on me, so catching him was going to be hard unless he died on the Queen K.  Coming back into town and the crowds were bigger as the pro men had come in and the women were soon to follow.  Climbing up Palani, I tried to conserve as much energy as possible for my next Queen K grind of the day.

This course is really two different races.  Once you pass Palani, its another world along the Queen K.  Desolate, lonely, and HOT.  Aside for the awesome aid stations, with music pumping, and crazy people staffing them, you are on your own to deal with everything in your head at this point.  On the way out on the Queen K, I kept it together.  Some fatigue was setting in, but still passing people and keeping a good pace.  Run by my buddy Ken Glah who gives me a "Looking Strong!"  Brought a good smile to my while I was pushing into my pain cave.  Making the turn into the infamous Energy Lab I see my buddy Ryan who is crushing it and I started to wonder how it was all going to unfold for me.  My pace was telling me I might be able to pull off a 3:15, but who knows how my body was going to react again when the heat turned up like in Texas.

Trying to talk to people at this point was amusing.  You figure I could at least get a smile wearing a Hello Kitty kit, but no luck.  A few word interchanged every once and a while was all I could pull.  I see Stefan again, give a big cheer for him as he is holding his gap and I am set to hold onto my race as it is.  The aid station and special needs area has one of the most boisterous people working it.  They know the pain we are in, and it seems if they could pick us up and carry us for a bit, they would.  Trying not to burn my legs out climbing out of the Energy Lab, a few running mates I actually got to talk came back to me and cheered me to the top of the hill.

From the top of the Energy Lab its 6 miles to the finish.  Knowing you have less than an hour left is such a relief, but at the same time, knowing you have nearly 9 hours into your legs is not.  Still two long grinding hills left to conquer, including Mark and Dave Hill.  The first hill puts a hurting on my legs, but I'm still moving enough to keep pace with everyone.  Trying to stretch my stride to take advantage of the downhill and not much is happening.  I'd either bonked or the heat was getting me, but I knew this was the dark place for my race and I'd have to get out of it or the final three miles would be ugly.  Shorten the stride, take time in the next aid station, ice, water and try to get my head straight.  Climbing the last hill was the worst feeling of the day.

Tired, feet, shoulders, everything hurting, then I see my Dad at the top screaming for me and it goes away.  "Time to go Brett!" and its on.  I start down Palani, but halfway down, my right hamstring seizes up!  Stopping and stretching it out, it releases, and I take it easy for a minute to make sure it doesn't come back.  All that's left now is a downhill, then a turn to the finish on Ali'i.  Concentrating on my breathing, stretching my stride and finishing strong.  Tried to enjoy the finish, but worried spending any more time on course would leave my legs cramping.  My family was waiting at the turn, and while I felt I was running fast, they asked if I was cruising it it, ha ha.

The finish is just a blur.  So many other races have great crowd and energy around the finish line, but this just lifted you up and I couldn't fee anything.  All I could think about is my Dad crossing the line last year and what a journey its been.  Crossing the finish, a weight was lifted, a few tears came down, and I was happy to have put in my best effort for my first Ironman World Championship.

Run Time - 3:21:14 - 276th split - 389th final place
Strava Run Site
Total Time - 9:53:40

Being whisked away into the athlete's area behind the King K, the legs were wobbly, and I was getting a bit chilly.  Dehydrated and body in a ravaged state, Ivy finds me, and she is just way too much of a bundle of energy at this point, lol.  The family and girlfriend find me and I can hardly put down a piece of pizza. 

My friends, family and coaches have been more than supportive over this journey and I can't thank you all enough for that.  Having met my long terms goals from years ago is really a credit to them as well.  Nobody can do this alone and having the support team to help me along was my greatest asset.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Motivation - Kona and beyond

Heading into any race it is important to know what you are racing for.  For Canada, I wasn't really racing for anything except to have fun, and it showed.  For Kona, its a bit of a different story and brings my life full circle to setting and achieving goals, while getting back to what makes me truly happy.

Lets go back over 15 years to my last year in Track and Field.  Having a very promising Junior year, my season was looking great and pushing for a trip to a regional or state qualifier.  In retrospect, I let some things distract me from that goal, be it drinking, or other things.  Typical for a High School kid, but a trend that started non the less. 

College basketball fell in line with this attitude.  Working hard, but not making the sacrifices to be great.  Lucky for me, I did well in school and didn't squander a great college experience in multiple ways.

Heading into the real world, athletics took a back seat.  There was always "tomorrow" to get back to my old self. Shedding the 5-10 pounds I thought was hanging off me.  All the sudden, the 5-10 pounds turned into 40!  What the hell did I do to myself?  Work and personal life can give you a great number of excuses to not take care of your body, but this was out of control.  My own intervention was in order.  Luckily I have the Dad I do to help right the ship.  Once I had even a slight interest of getting into shape he was on it and registering me for an Escape From Alcatraz clinic and race that coming year.  That was the major wake up call.  Even in my own head I thought I could shape up in a few months and breeze through the race, but real life doesn't let you do that.  After the longest three and a half hours of my life, hurting back and pride, it was time for change.

My journey back to fitness has been one of sacrifice over the past six years.  Quitting a few bad habits, some I'm still embarrassed to post publicly, and learning to live a healthy lifestyle were starts, but in the process of wanting to be great at something, extra effort was needed.   Some might see this as self aggrandizing, and I can't argue with them, but all too often people reeeeeeeeeeeeeally want to do something, but fall short and then turn around and blame someone or something else for a shortfall.  That was a pitfall of mine in a few instances.  Not now.  I hope to help people see what is necessary to accomplish what you set out for, be it work or personal gain.  Do I need to go to this "Happy Hour" on a Wednesday, is it necessary to close out a bar to have fun?  These are the questions I faced over recent years.  Many people didn't understand some of my choices, even some of my tri-friends, but how often do you get the chance to do something great in your life though.  For many, something as trivial as Ironman doesn't qualify as "Great".  That's fine, but there isn't anything about that opinion that should keep me from trying.

The driving force is now wanting to inspire others and give back to those who supported me.  I have family members, friends and co-workers I would love to see get out and get fit.  They all can see how I push myself for my training, and if that inspires them to get out for a run, then that makes me happy.  When people show interest in improving and ask for advice, that makes me happy and I'll try my best to help.  Watching others attempt the same transformation makes me lifts my heart too.  Its easy to say that triathlon makes me happy.

My life has come together to support this as well.  An incredible girlfriend who isn't a triathlete, but shares the value of fitness (she rescued me when my I broke a spoke this weekend in the middle of nowhere, now that's love).  My loving family and friends who understand me and have obsessions the same way I do.  A great job and employer that allows the flexibility to accomplish my work, and train as needed.  Coaches that take the time to understand me and know my motivations (M2 and runcoach).  It takes time and effort to find the people and place in the world that allows you to be your real self.  Finding a way to repay these relationships is a priority, but difficult for a time crunched young professional.

Kona for me is about finishing what I started 6 years ago.  It wasn't my goal then, but it became it as I realized the potential left from a reformed ability.  I was given a second chance at my athletic youth (some call it being a man-child) and it will not go wasted this time.  Paying back my work relationship is easy, I get to be Iron Kitty!  Giving some free advertising along the way.  My friends, family and girlfriend are a bit tricky.  Lost time can never come back, but making the sacrifices when you can, goes a long way to letting them know you care.  I'm in arrears on that front, but hopefully that is what the holidays are all about.

Stepping into the water at Dig-Me beach, I know what I'm racing for and what got me there.  Thankful isn't enough to say for the love and support given to me over the past few years, so lets just say I'm honored to be able to race on the greatest venue for everyone who has been there to help me out along the way.

Wish me luck and I'll be thinking of everyone over these last two weeks.  Can't wait for round 2 of the Miller family reunion in Kona!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Ironman Canada Race Report

Heading up to Canada was a trip of many uncertainties.  The last month of training was filled with some serious intensity, but no real "long" workouts that leave you crushed.  My race/personal schedule over July limited my uber-training days, but I felt the consistency and full year buildup had me where I needed to be to either go hard in this race, or just have "fun".

There were two sets of goals for this race.  #1 would be to get another podium.  If something goes wrong or if its just not the day #2 Not get hurt and have fun.

Heading up to Penticton, BC on Wednesday was a great idea.  A group of friends and I rented a house within a mile of the start and it was just a perfect setup.  Easy runs to the Peach to swim in Lake Okananagan.  Mellow rides south to Lake Skaha.  It just made for a great atmosphere around the entire race and very relaxed because we could come and go as we pleased to take care of all the race things like packet pickup, bike check, etc.

Of course there was an Underpants Run, unofficially sponsored by Sanrio and Hello Kitty again.

A highlight of the week came when an SF friend, Brianna, decided to have a "Tweetup" to gather all the people from online that use twitter to form a bit of a social training circle around Ironman Canada.  The amazing thing was that @ironmancanada himself, Ron Zalko, the founder of IM Canada, showed up.  He was a great guy and really appreciated Brianna, and every one's support of the race online.  Every time we'd run into Ron around town he took a few minutes to talk with us which was awesome!

My parents showed up Friday and we hung out most of Saturday, just making sure all the last second ends were tied up.  Turns out my Joule 2.0 is missing/stolen from my luggage on the way.  Luckily my Garmin 310XT was a suitable replacement, but had to go find the quick release setup for my bike.  Bike Barn to the rescue!  Their mini-expo was probably better than Ironman's.  Dinner with my parents and Scottsdale friends up for the race and then try to go to sleep.


Fellow Kona qualifier from Tri-Scottsdale, Erica
Up at 3:30 per my IM standard now.  Amusing to see M2 sleeping on the couch.  Our coach made a last minute decision to cheer us on where he's won two times.  Should have gotten a pic, damn.  Usual breakfast and off to the start by 5:30.  With just shy of 3,000 people showing up for this race, the crowds were spectacular.  Get into transition, check bike, load it up with last second nutrition and find my parents who are volunteering.  It was great to have them in there, behind the scenes.  Made for a calming and entertaining wait for the swim.

Wetsuit on, Steve King on the PA, and over to the swim start!

Lining up with Faith, well, a few rows back from Faith, she's WAY too fast, we take the inside line to the right of the buoys.  The countdown goes down and we're off!  Walking a few steps since its waist deep, and getting enough room to actually swim from the people in front of me.  Probably should have been a few more people deep because got hammered a few times.  Aside from some bunching and others stopping to freak out, wasn't too bad until I get hit in the goggles.  Took a minute to make sure everything was alright.  Breast stroked for about 30 seconds, then back at it.  About half way through the first straight and I make my way left to the buoy line and settle in with the crowd.  Not really pushing, but I keep losing feet in traffic.  Not good drafting on my part.  Someone kept smacking my feet though which was annoying, so a few times had to kick really big to get them to back off.  The one lap course was nice because only two turns and crowds, but got a bit boring.  Everyone behaved themselves at the turns too, then the long run back home.  Wasn't sighting very well, but had some feet to follow so I wasn't too worried.  Hopefully they were doing a good job, but my effort was much less as a result.  Coming into the finish you can see the bottom which was really fun because with all the bodies causing a current it looked like you were swimming fast as the lake floor went flying by.  Not a bad swim, but not a good one.  1:09 total, but some faster swimmers said it was slow overall which made me feel better after.

Swim: 1:09:43

On to the bike and the unveiling of Iron Kitty!  Was ready to go out and crush it on the bike after a lackluster swim.  Heading out of town was amazing with people lining the street for the first few miles.  A bit crowded as expected

Cruising through the first 40 miles was great.  Looking to find some partners to legally draft, but no luck as my slower swim left me chasing through traffic to make up time.  There were a lot of draft marshals out as well, so probably a good thing to stay completely clean riding.  Not pressing too hard and hitting a good 250 average watts, only spiking effort heading over the small speed bump hill at mile 10.  Getting to base of Richter and its a sight!  I didn't get a chance to recon this section, but everyone said its nothing to worry about, just keep your effort controlled and be ready for the 7 bitches (rollers) on the other side.  Watts were bouncing from 270 to 300 all the way up.  Getting passed by a few people, but then reeling them in when the hill flattened out.  So great having the power meter as it kept me honest and on a consistent effort even when the hill let up.

Cresting the climb and ready for some fun in a massive descent!  The race starts here is what everyone says and I'm ready for the rollers.  My approach (advice from M2) was to keep a steady effort, spinning up each roller, using all the gears I had to, and to resist mashing up and over.  This would keep enough energy to continue accelerating over the crest and keep my power consistent even during the short descents.  Worked out great!  I got passed by the same 4 people heading up each hill, then re-pass them either at the top, or through the next trough.  Finally when we got out of the rollers, all were left behind me as my legs were still intact, even while we finished the rollers in about the same amount of time.

Slight redesign necessary
On to the out and back and special needs.  Started passing the people I wanted to, and picking off Pro women at this point as well.  Getting to my Special Needs bag and they have it ready.  One problem though, my secret frozen weapon, was still frozen!  The towels around my frozen Perpetuum and Gatorade didn't thaw out in time, which left me slamming the bottles into the ground to break them apart.  Was a crazy sight!  Finally a volunteer came running up with their water that was nearly boiling from being out tin the sun and loosened up the towels so I could get the bottles out.  All in all, I lost 3 minutes.  Eh, not too big a deal since I wasn't racing for Kona, just personal goals, but that would come back to bite me.

Heading up Yellow Lake it was getting hot and the headwind was picking up too!  Much more sparse on the race course, and no more annoying draft marshals to worry about (was glad there were a lot out, but still puts you on edge that you inadvertently did something wrong).  The long slow climb was a great sight, lots of people made the trek out to watch and cheer you on.  Still controlling my effort, but losing time to my ideal bike split.  For the last push up the mountain I picked it up slightly, but not mashing.  I just wanted it to be over with.  Taking the top of the hill and looking down through the valley we would descend and you are in awe.  Such a beautiful sight.  Heading down the hill was not easy task though.  Headwind, downhill, and deep wheels makes high speeds interesting.  Over the next 12 miles there are some steeps and gradual descents.  The steeps get you up over 40 mph, and the rest, if you are brave, you can take in aero at around 35 mph.  Winds were playing tricks with my front wheel, so I played it a bit safe.  I got this far, no need for any heroics that could bring the rest of my season down for 30 seconds.  Coming down to Lake Skaha and the final 10 miles was a relief.  This wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but with over 5,000 feet of elevation, stiff headwinds, and rising temperatures, this course was a beast!  Letting up a bit once I got into town seemed like an eternity with a stiff headwind, but the crowd was alive cheering on the Pro's on their way out, and cyclist coming it.  Penticton rocks!

Bike: 5:13:11

Off the bike and legs are a bit jello-y.  Few steps and alright.  Mom is there in transition with my run bag, and Dad on the megaphone yelling at me!  For some reason I try to run to my bike rack like a normal triathlon and my Mom nearly tackles me and someone pushes me to the changing tent, lol.  Sitting down to change, I had memories of my legs seizing up come back from Texas, but nothing!  Sweet, run legs intact!

Out of the tent and onto the run course with my sweet singlet, er, halter top.  Michael McCormack, 2 time Canada Champion, gave me the honor of wearing his Espana/Bike Barn singlet from his 1995 race, and I loved it even while it really didn't cover much.

Heading around the mini-lap I look at my split and I've missed my personal cutoff of 6:20 swim/bike split to allow me to turn Canada into my "A" race by 3 minutes.  Crap!  Time to shut down the legs and not hurt myself.  Thinking this was just going to be a long 4 hours, I surprised myself at how fun run/spectating can be!

The crowds and aid stations gave off such great support like on the bike.  People cheering, encouraging and making everyone smile, or at least try to.  A lot of people were going to their pain cave as they passed me by.  Up front on the course people were fighting for the Kona spot available and I cheered on the AG guys I rode with as they went blowing by me!  I made sure they knew I had my spot while riding though;)  It was getting HOT along Lake Skaha and as everyone said, it was really tempting to just jump in.  To boot, there were people partying just 50 yards off the shore, blasting good music and having a few cold beverages that would be amazing at that point.  M2 rode past on my way out on the course.  He was following along with the leaders on his bike loving his own flashbacks from years ago.  It was great to see him, but he knew I was "mailing it in" at this point.  He tried to get under my skin a little to urge me on, yelling for me to "run with a purpose!", but the motivation to hurt myself was not there.  Just a fun jog through the countryside.

An amusing interaction came as I was running with one of the Pro Women, Maki Nishiuchi.  From my past blog post, I knew she was battling for a Kona spot, so I cheered for her any time I could to keep her going.  Trying to actually talk to her was another story as either she was ignoring me, or can't speak a lick of English.  I'm going with the later.  After the mid-way point she motioned for me to pick it up and go with her, but I couldn't/wouldn't and let her push on.

Cruising back I start getting people either slowing or actually running my speed and not passing me any more so I get to actually talk to some guys.  Great way to speed up time and we had some fun conversations about life and really kept off the subject of tri's except for mini histories.  Getting to see all my friends on the way back and cheer for them was a blast too.  Everyone looked so strong on the run and you can see how they improved throughout the year.  In the last few miles I was happy to see one training partner Peter get out on the run course.  He was so worried about the cut-offs and I was pumped he got off the bike.  Unfortunately he was one of the people caught out on the course when water ran out which seriously effected his run and he missed the finally cutoff by a few minutes.  In great form though, he finished, and Steve King stayed to cheer on the final few races out there.

The finish along the lake for me was fantastic.  Getting to soak it all in was a new thing for me and the finishing shoot was a lot of fun, giving high-fives and a big smile on my face.  Very happy to have finished and even more excited to have this new racing experience and really enjoying myself, cheering for everyone.  Penticton is a special place as everyone has said.  This is a must do race for all IM athletes with the beautiful location, and deep history. 

Run: 4:08:56
Total: 10:37:57

Now its time to prepare for Kona.  A lot of swimming in my future, along with a condensed block of training.  M2 and my run coach Tom from Focus-N-Fly are excited to help me recover and get real work in over the next month and I look to get my best effort in on the Big Island!  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Should I wear this?

There is so much to be excited about in the next two months and my coach, Michael McCormack just added to the pile.  He asked me if I wanted to wear his 1995 Champion kit from Canada.  I have some plans to wear my special Hello Kitty kit made to give a little back to the company I work for, but this is a great honor from my coach.  Let me know what you think!  Here's a taste of the Hello Kitty and M2 top.

I'll wear my Hello Kitty tri top version of the pic above for the bike, and leave it up for decision on the run with the Espana/Bike Barn top for the run.

Definitely having some fun for these last few races of the season!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

March, errr August Tri Madness!

Not only am I excited about racing Canada next weekend, but also very interested in how the weekend is going to play out in the Kona Points standings for the Pro's.  This is the last IM weekend for Pro's to get points for Kona, and the last ten spots for the men and women will get their invites to the big show.  Sort of like Selection Sunday for the NCAA, there are too many scenarios that may play out so its a bit hard to wrap your brain around. 

I haven't been able to locate who has declined their invitations from the first wave of July selections, but the women are vying to be in the top 37 at least (Wellington and Carfrae are automatically qualified) to get in.  The men's side has three additional spots to 43 (Alexander automatic bid, McCormack declined) since Patrick Evoe declined his invite so he can continue to improve this season and make a bigger impact next year. I really wanted to be able to scream "Pizza Pizza" when he screamed by.  Some other notables declined their invite to Kona reported from Hawaii 24/7's article. 

First off are the athletes on the bubble who would qualify before this weekend's races given a few roll-downs with athletes concentrating on Vegas and other late season races:

Simone Benz

 Marko Albert
 Hiroyuki Nichiuchi*
 Paul Ambrose*
 Joe McDaniel
 Torsten Le Abel
 Uwe Widmann
 Jason Shortis*
 Chris McDonald
 Simon Billeau
 Dirk Wijnalda
 Mike Neill*
 Markus Fachbach
 Christian Brader*
*Denotes athlete is registered for Canada or Louisville

While nearly half of the men and women on the bubble are racing, there will be a big shift in both KPR standings come August 29th.  Lets take a look at each race, who is racing next weekend in Canada and Louisville and what it all means.

All IM races are not created equal on the calendar.  Louisville is a P-1000 race for Ironman which means 1st Place gets 1000 points and has a total of $25,000 up for grabs.  Canada is a P-2000 which awards 1st place 2000 points and has $75,000 up for grabs for the Pro's.  That means Canada's winner has a better opportunity to move up in the KPR standings.  It also means more people will gravitate to the race for that reason.  There are some risky moves being played out as a few Pro's registered for both races and are probably weighing their options for their best points.  #1 option, go for top 10 in Canada and have some insurance for more points, or head to Louisville and go for an Ironman Champion title and max out at 1000 points.

It is amazing all the different scenarios that will unfold from these races and when you throw in the 750 points available in Brazil 70.3 this weekend.  Half the athletes on the bubble will be bounced out of Kona qualification, which is a tragedy as there are some fan favorites there.  There are 15 men and 12 women who sit on the outside looking in for the KPR race.  Trying to break it down as straightforward as possible, but who knows what will happen come race day.  Below are the athletes who are racing next weekend, current KPR rank, and their best outcome with a win.

Last First Rnk Pts Best Rnk Best Pts Race
ALLDRITT MIRANDA 31 4640 12 6640 Canada
GORDON JACQUI 32 4370 12 6370 Canada
NISHIUCHI MAKI 33 4355 12 6355 Canada
ELLIS MARY 34 4200 14 6200 Canada
GORDON JACQUI 32 4370 23 5370 Louisville
NISHIUCHI MAKI 33 4355 23 5355 Louisville
KELLER FERNANDA 44 3120 26 5120 Canada
HARRISON LAUREN 45 3030 27 5030 Canada
KESSLER MEREDITH 49 2805 29 4805 Canada
BEEBE KELZIE 65 2240 34 4240 Canada
WHITBY FIONA 68 2098 35 4098 Canada
MADISON MACKENZIE 76 1780 37 3780 Canada
COOPER-SCOTT HALEY 95 1430 41 3430 Canada
BEEBE KELZIE 65 2240 44 3240 Louisville


Last First Rank Points Best Rnk Best Pts Race
NISHIUCHI HIROYUKI 57 2785 25 4785 Canada
ABEL TORSTEN 60 2720 25 4720 Canada
SHORTIS JASON 63 2680 28 4680 Canada
NEILL MIKE 67 2520 29 4520 Canada
BRADER CHRISTIAN 69 2445 29 4445 Canada
JAMMAER BERT 72 2390 30 4390 Canada
DELSAUT TREVOR 74 2330 31 4330 Canada
RAPP JORDAN 75 2290 32 4290 Canada
NISHIUCHI HIROYUKI 57 2785 40 3785 Louisville
CURRY SCOTT 115 1320 45 3320 Canada
RHODES BRYAN 116 1300 48 3300 Canada
AMBROSE PAUL 58 2765 52 3765 Louisville
TOTH ANTHONY 138 1115 53 3115 Canada
WURTELE TREVOR 165 910 53 2910 Canada
BRETSCHER DANIEL 83 1980 53 2980 Louisville
SNOW TIM 86 1823 56 2823 Louisville

This is leading up to be a great finish for the KPR system.  While its benefits or shortfalls are yet to be seen, at least it will give us a great weekend of excitement as we watch what unfolds next Sunday.  I'm hoping for some great racing to watch as I'm on my out on the run course in Canada.  Should be a incredible battle to see.

Lets just hope Ironman Live can handle it.