"Real successes are made,
Not dropped aside your door.
They aren't a thought you made one night,
While wishing upon a star."
"Real successes are thought,
To be given to only the great.
They think that they work just as hard,
And they should have that fate."
"Real successes are because,
Of someone making it so.
They fight for it and work real hard,
To make their successes grow."
"Real successes are envied,
And rumored on how they were made.
People can be so jealous,
And even want to betray."
"But you know how real successes,
Are built with hard work and care.
You've made your way to the top,
I'm so proud to see you are there."
Julie Herbert 2012
We all define success differently. For some of us, its finishing your first 5k, completing your first triathlon, or receiving a job promotion. However you define it, there is a common element that each of us can attribute our success to. HARD WORK! In the poem above, entitled “The Real Successes” by Julie Herbert, the author makes it clear in her first paragraph that success is realized only by doing the work. Success is achieved because we fight for it and relentlessly pursue our goals. This approach closely parallels and defines my entire 2014 race season. I just did the work! With great depth of thought during last year’s off season, I set important goals for myself in 2014, and with the assistance of my Coach Adam Zucco, I achieved each and every one of them.
Preparation for Ironman Arizona actually began in November of 2013, just after registering. Training Bible Coaching the “Official Coach of Ironman Arizona” was offering entries to athletes using their coaching services. I recall jumping at the opportunity when I learned of it. Because I had signed up through Training Bible, I was able to register before the general public. This saved time and money. No need to travel to Phoenix to volunteer. Immediately after securing my spot, I reserved a hotel room at the new Residence Inn Marriott just blocks from the race start and Tempe Beach Park. As I knew the race would quickly sell out, securing the room well in advance eliminated the potential stress associated with trying to find a room nearby. Turns out this was a great move as the hotel sold out completely within 48 hours after the race. Logistics for Race Week…Check!
When Adam and I began working together last fall, I had just had a bad bicycle accident which had left my right clavicle badly broken, my right eyebrow lacerated, and my right eyelid peeled back. The 2013 season ended early and resultantly I used my extra time to plan for 2014. During my planning process, Adam asked that I write down each of the goals I wanted to achieve in 2014. Reflecting on this exercise, we focused on 3 major items. By focusing on these 3 items, I simultaneously improved other areas of opportunity.
· Finish a race without walking.
· Swimming Sub 1:10 (2.4 Mile Swim)
· Understand, Implement and adhere to pacing plans.
My goal of finishing a race without walking was first achieved at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse where I ran my first sub 2 hour half marathon as part of a triathlon. This goal was achieved because, we improved my bike strength. Yes, you did read that correctly. “In order to run faster, ride your bike more often”, is a popular Zucco quote.
Swimming has always been difficult for me. I first learned to swim as an adult in 2012. My swim coach Courtney Wall at “Galter Life Center” took me under her wing and began teaching me about proper form. She immersed me within the Galter Life Center “Swedish Fish” Masters Swimming group. I owe my improved swim strength to these athletes and coaches. This group of like-minded athletes are relentlessly positive and just a great group of athletes. I am grateful to them. Although much improvement is still to be made, I achieved my goal of sub 1:10 at Ironman Lake Placid by swimming a 1:08 earlier this season.
Proper pacing had eluded me until this year. Candidly, I just didn’t get it. I have always just been the guy that went hard. Pacing teaches you how to go hard, controllably. I first realized the benefits of pacing while running the Buffalo Half Marathon on Memorial Day this past May. On that morning, I rode my TT bike 25 miles to the race start. A few hard intervals warmed the legs and readied the body. My coach had written a detailed pacing plan for the run which looked like this. Warm up during the first 3, run the next 3 miles at 8:30-8:45, then run miles 7 through 9 at 8:15-8:30 pace. The remainder of the race, I was told to descend each mile. I finished the half marathon nailing the pacing plan and running the last 2 miles at 7:45 & 7:30 pace. I was becoming very in-tune with my body and able to very accurately predict my race times.
When the build for Ironman Arizona began in August, I knew that I was ready to take on whatever Adam threw at me. Both my training & diet plans were rapidly changing and reshaping my body. The photos above were taken on February 15, May 15, June 15 & November 10th. Between February 2014 & November 2014 in prep for Arizona, I lost a total of 24 pounds. I was committed to the plan, the diet and I was motivated by the results. I was getting stronger. I recall one day feeling like a complete animal after a 27 hour week. I had ridden nearly 300 miles that week and noticed that my legs were carrying me on my runs at a pace I had never seen before. It was then that I realized how riding my bike more often, allowed me to run faster.
When race week arrived, like many of us, I was all butterflies. I departed Chicago on Thursday morning and was happy to be skipping as it was cold and snowing. I couldn’t wait to get to the warm desert. After arriving in Arizona, I headed straight to the park to pick up my bike from TriBike Transport (TBT). For those of you that are unfamiliar, TBT provides a service that includes shipping your bike from your local bike shop, to the race site for a reasonable fee. As many of you know it can cost as much as $175 or more each way to take your bike on a plane. TBT eliminates this stress by providing you the ability to pick up and drop off your bike directly at the race site. When your race is over, simply walk it over from transition and drop it off stress free then pick it back up at your shop after you return home. Brilliant! Lastly, I checked in grabbed my race packet and headed off to the hotel.
On Friday, I took the opportunity to ride and shake out the legs. It was at this time that I realized, I was having a great deal of pain from my broken rib. Yes, unfortunately on the Tuesday before the race, I was getting a massage and my masseuse mistakenly fractured my rib. We were both shocked and to say I was pissed off about it does not really begin to articulate my feelings. As my masseuse and I have worked together for years, it was just bad luck. The following day my Dr. confirmed my suspicion. I would begin a pain management plan mapped out by my wife who was also a physician. Her plan included taking a combination of Motrin 600mg and Tylenol 500mg. I would take Motrin then follow with Tylenol 3 hours later and repeat this process every 3 hours. This proved successful and would also be considered “legal” use of medication on race day. Because of my injury, I opted to keep my rides and runs just before the race shorter than planned. This was done in order to let the body heal as much as possible. I also decided not to swim at all those last few days before the race as the movement proved painful. I would manage the pain on race day via the pain plan provided by my wife and count on that being enough to get through the day. Lucky for me, outside of some pain during the swim, my rib never bothered me.
On race morning we woke at 4 AM and began breakfast. I ate my typical race day breakfast which amounts to about 1000 calories and includes yogurt, granola and fresh berries. I also enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal and two 160 calorie protein shakes. We walked down to transition around 5:30 to setup. Upon arrival, I quickly setup the bike and headed off to the swim start.
The Ironman Arizona Swim start is done in old school fashion where all athletes start fully submerged in water to a mass start. I was able to seed myself near the front of the corral which allowed me to get into the water early and swim the 400 yards to the start line. I lined up to the far left near the buoy line with hopes of avoiding the beating that usually takes place off the line. Although I was hammered and pounded by fists and feet for the first 200 yards, this proved relatively successful. I had decided to just go hard as I could for the first 400-500 yards and then settle into a rhythm and my plan worked well after the first 200 yards. I was able to grab some feet and could tell that I was swimming well up to the first turn. As we closed in on the buoy, I realized that I was too far inside. This cost me time and I had to push hard into and out of the buoy. I made a quick turn around the buoy by flipping onto my back and then rolling back over into freestyle. There was a lot of congestion between turn 1 and turn 2 and I was determined to hold my line. Some guy wanted my line pretty bad and he ended up rolling up and over my back pushing my hips down and slowing my progress. This just pissed me off and then I jumped on his feet right into the turn. We both made quick turns around the buoy by rolling up on our backs then rolling back over to freestyle. I stayed on his feet for another 300-400 yards and then he began to fatigue. He was on my right now and I was getting pushed back away from the buoy line, which was not where I wanted to be. It was time for him to move out of the way, so I returned him the favor he had paid me prior to turn 2. I rolled up and over his back and found myself all alone along the buoy line headed into the final turn. I had been swimming hard and I could tell I was fatiguing. Couple that with the pain creeping up on my broken rib and I just decided to back off. I am sure I lost a little time as a result, however by doing so, I was more comfortable and I was able to settle into a smooth stroke. I rounded the final turn buoy and pushed hard again into the finish. I swam a 1:12 which was 2 minutes slower than my goal but was not concerning. I exited in 96th position in my age group (40-44) and 548th overall.
Into and out of T1 in just over 5 minutes. This was a little longer than I had planned and occurred as a result of having to physically go back and get my transition bag myself as a volunteer mistakenly handed me the wrong one. There was no need to change in T1 as I had decided to race in a one piece Wattie Ink Contender Speed Suit. I quickly grabbed my helmet, shoes and nutrition and headed out onto the bike course.
Upon arriving out on the bike course, the first thing I noticed was the wind. Later we learned that there were sustained winds of 17-20 MPH with gusts exceeding 25 MPH. My coach Adam, had just raced at the Ironman World Championships in Kona and he later described the winds as eerily similar. While out on the course, I kept telling myself to relax and just keep my head down. The bike course consisted of 3 loops each consisting of 37+ miles totaling 112. My goal for the bike was to average a normalized power of 205-210 Watts.
As we climbed the first loop up toward the turnaround at Shea Boulevard, I kept telling myself this was just a 45-50 minute interval. My bike speed fluctuated between 12-16 MPH going uphill into the wind. Upon turning around at Shea, I welcomed the push of the wind downhill. I averaged speeds in excess of 25 MPH throughout the decent and topped out around 36-38 MPH. At times, I was spinning completely out of gear. During this time, I focused on soft pedaling and turning over the legs gently, while resting, and taking in fuel and fluids. Lap one was completed with a normalized power of 212 Watts. A little high but I was not concerned as I realized that there would be more congestion on laps 2 and 3.
Ultimately the congestion, naturally slowed my pace on the bike, however the winds seemed more a factor in laps 2 & 3 as well. It was brutal. The wind gusts at one point actually blew me sideways at times. So much so, at one point a gust blew me way to close to the rider I was passing. The rest of the day I passed with greater distance between riders. After reviewing my power file, I averaged 205 Watts on Lap 2 and 194 Watts on Lap 3. In support of my premise that the wind was blowing harder in the latter part of the race, my average MPH through a 10 miles section of the course on Lap 1 was; 28.24 MPH, on lap 2 it was 26.79 MPH, on the final lap it was 30.09 MPH on fewer Watts. Perhaps I was just pedaling harder through that section, but I’m pretty sure the wind played a factor.
My total bike time ended up at 5:20 exceeding my goal by 5 minutes and averaging 21 MPH for 112 miles. My position within my age group improved from 96th to 36th and my overall position increased from 548th to 197th. As I entered T2, I quickly handed off the bike and grabbed my gear bag personally this time and made a quick transition of 2:55. I purposely sat down to gather myself for a moment, changed socks, tied up my Hoka’s and took in more fluids. As I exited the tent, I kept telling myself to just go out for a jog. After consulting Adam, I chose not to wear my heart rate monitor in this race. I was feeling very in tune with my body and had found it uncomfortable while racing Lake Placid earlier this season.
My goal for the run was simple, keep my stride short and quick with an 88 average cadence with plans to run a sub 4 hour marathon. My training had focused on this, and I was sure I had it in me. As I passed the first mile marker, I was feeling great. I was actually talking to myself out loud and thanking god for this body. I kept it positive by smiling and candidly I was glowing from head to toe. Other runners I passed took note and we exchanged simple conversations, mostly about the HELL WINDS out on the bike course. I couldn’t stop smiling and the miles were just floating past, I was feeling incredible. At one point I was growling out loud like a goofball. I felt possessed at this point. My feet were just falling to an 8:15-8:30 pace without struggle.
I was being very careful and watching my fluid and fuel intake now as in each of my successive attempts at Ironman, I would get sick about half way through the marathon. I was determined not to let this happen. When I took my final gel at mile 15, my stomach got angry and I could tell things were getting rocky. Opting at this point to run the remainder of the race on water and small sips of Coke only, proved a good move and my stomach fell back in line. Just as my stomach issues subsided, my left hamstring started cramping and I began to walk a bit. Just then a tap on my back by my coach’s fiancée Tanya Marvin coupled with a “I need you with me” put fire back under my feet and that move by her was exactly what I needed to get moving again.
Tanya and I, basically exchanged places throughout the back half of the marathon until the last mile when we decided to run together to the finish. The last 5-6 miles were all about mind over matter and she and I encouraged one another right until the finish line. As we rounded the last curve, the bright lights of the finish chute washed the pain away. My smile muscles were as sore as my legs. I was literally giddy! The last thing I saw before I crossed the line with Tanya, was my amazing wife Lisa, standing right there shooting video of our finish. I blew a kiss, gave her a high 5, and crossed the finish in 10:33:54. Ultimately, I moved up 3 positions in my Age Group to 33rd out of 502 and finished 178th Overall out of 3202 total athletes.
Remember that we all define success differently. For me, success is about setting and achieving goals. In this race, even exceeding them. From my first race this season to my last, I set and achieved each of my goals. Therefore, I close this SUCCESSFUL season on the highest of notes because, I did the work! Sometimes it can be that simple. Do the Work, Get the Results!
One cannot become an Ironman alone. It is an impossible endeavor. You must have a network of support if you expect to cross that line. For that support, I would like to thank my friends and family for encouraging me on this path every day. From my sister & brother-in law who watched the girls while I raced, to my Mom babysitting while I went for a long ride. To my wife… for putting up with me while I was gone on weekends for what seemed like all day. To my girls who missed me terribly while I was away. THANK YOU!
To my Wattie Ink FAMILY….YOU GUYS ROCK! I am inspired by each and every one of you! When I am tired and worn to a nub, your support motivates me to get up and get back out there. I am honored and humbled to race with you. Our team makes me a better athlete. To Sean Watkins & Heather Jackson, your passion for this sport, our team and your business is infectious and each and every one of us are lucky to be a part of this unique group. THANK YOU!
To my coach Adam Zucco of Training Bible Coaching, Wow!!! This was a breakthrough season for me. I could not have gotten here without you and I am very grateful. THANK YOU!
Lastly to our sponsors, Wattie Ink, ISM Saddles, Speedfil, Herbalife 24, Powerbar, Reynolds Wheels, Blueseventy, SpiderTech Tape, TriBike Transport, Rudy Project & 454 Tattoo. Thank you for letting me use and abuse your products. They are truly among the finest in the industry. THANK YOU!
It’s difficult, because if it were easy, it would be called Football…was the first sign I saw being held up among spectators supporting the bike course of Ironman Lake Placid. I started laughing. Another favorite; “Cheer if you peed on your bike today”. Both of these among many others were there to cheer us along our goal of completing a 140.6 mile race beginning with a 2.4 mile swim in Mirror Lake. This is followed by a ½ mile transition to a 112 mile bike through the Adirondack Mountain’s with almost 7000 feet of gain. This is completed by running a 26.2 mile Marathon.
Realizing most of you are saying, “Yeah” we know the distance. Understand that I am also writing this for my friends and family members. So, roll with it!
The morning began with a 4:00 AM wake up, followed by breakfast with my wife and a teammate. After breakfast, we left our cabin and Lisa and Bill dropped me about a ¼ mile from the transition area around 5:15. This was perfect, a stress free morning to setup the bike and transition bags. I opted to use only special needs on the bike and skip the run bag. In my special needs bag contained a spare tube and CO2 cylinder. I also kept a bottle of water, a bottle of Coca-Cola and a Herbalife 24 Hydration Packet. After dropping it off, I headed up the street one block to fellow Wattie, Jon Miles’ cabin on the lake; appropriately named “Camp Awesome”.
Camp Awesome is THE closest cabin to the swim start and has a large dock in the backyard sitting on Mirror Lake 400 yards off the swim start. Camp Awesome was the perfect location to relax before the race and provided my wife and others within our group a prime location for viewing the swim. Jon & I, began our walk to the swim start and found ourselves in a herd of people. Inevitably we had to jump a fence to seed ourselves into the rolling start. I was planning for a 1:10-1:15 swim time, and seeded near the 1:15 group to avoid too much contact.
As we began entering the water via the rolling start, I quickly felt as though it was easier than many Age Group Wave Starts I had competed in. I settled in comfortably almost right away and found that I only had contact around turn one and turn two. Upon exiting the first lap of the swim, I walked quickly and shook out my arms. Many guys ran but found themselves bobbing and weaving through the group. I chose to relax and shake out my arms. Oh and incidentally that's not me in the center of the picture. I am caught slowly walking from the water here on lap 1 over this guys left shoulder. Check the guy on the left in the Blueseventy Helix.
Swim Lap 1 33:48
During lap two, I began swimming up on several people and found myself having to sight more often as I navigated through the mass of swimmers. Again, there was contact through the turns and this time people were fatiguing. Many flailed on the surface, some on their back. In the turns it seemed the weaker swimmers struggled in the mass of people to find a line. This created a backup through the tight turns. More navigation and into the home stretch. I figured I would lay down a hard 500 plus to try and make up time. During this time, I noticed rain was coming down pretty hard. I just kept my head down and laid down the hard yards. This proved successful.
Swim Lap 2 34:19
Total Distance 2.4 Miles
Total Swim 1:08.19
Later I learned, that the second lap of the swim was scratched due to lightning. Many swimmers were forced to exit the water during their second lap. Although my 1:08.19 was first recorded, it was later reduced to the first lap of 33:48. The T1 times were also scratched in order to be “FAIR” to the swimmers that were forced from the lake and unable to complete their second lap.
While running the near ½ mile to and through T1 on a completely carpeted stretch of road, I couldn’t help but notice how hard it was raining. TORRENTIAL is not a good word. I knew it was going to be a very WET RIDE. As I arrived out on the course, poor visibility and water on the road made things very sketchy. Couple that with the UBER FAST descent into the town of Keene, (many guys go 55+ MPH) and you can see there is recipe for disaster. Three little girls at home and an amazing wife cheering me on, I chose to play it safe. I purposely sat up and feathered the breaks throughout the descent. As the rim surfaces were wet, it took a moment for the brakes to work. Feathering them frequently improved my braking resistance. I tried to convince myself that frequent braking was a good move. After reviewing my Garmin File, my top speed in this section of UBER WET road within an UBER GNARLY descent, reached 38 MPH. Reflecting on this section, even this speed was probably too fast for those conditions. After the descent into Keene there is about 27 miles of rolling to flat terrain along several little mountain streams. Only if you have ridden this course, can you begin to understand its beauty. It was my goal to Average 200 Watts during the bike and this was the perfect section to settle into a rhythm.
As the rain continued to soak us, I kept saying to myself that I just needed to put my head down and pedal. The rain came down so hard that I continually had to wipe my Garmin to see the data. It was awful. Riding conservatively through lap one, I found myself at special needs, refueled and began the second loop. While winding through the mass of spectators in town, I spotted my wife and teammates, gave a wave and smile then put my head back down for a second lap.
Lap 1 3:07.53. (17.88 MPH)
It was no longer raining and the sun began to come out. As I dried off, I recalled thinking how comfortable I was the entire ride despite the weather. Evidenced by the photos you can see how hard the rain fell. The thunder and lightning that halted the swim took its toll on racers throughout lap 1 of the bike. Although I was soaked head to toe, the design of my cycling kit provided me supreme comfort and warmth throughout the ride. I chose to wear my team Bibs, Cycling Jersey and Arm warmers. Many guys complained of shivering and severe cold during the descent. This had no effect on me.
This time on the descent into Keene the roads were dry and I rode them more aggressively my Garmin file says a little over 48 MPH. I felt the wind catching the front wheel on the way down and I backed off a bit. After this gnarly descent, I could easily see big guys flying down over 55 MPH++. Too fast for this guy but it was a ton of fun as the road had been resurfaced and provided a silky smooth descent over several miles of dry pavement.
On the back half of the course near Whiteface Mountain, the course winds its way over a slow climb though a gorge and majestic rivers. I spent a lot of time just looking at the beauty the Adirondack background provided. I did this mostly because we had a solid headwind over the entire section. Looking around provided respite from the suffering. As I completed the “3 Bears” climb back into Lake Placid, the energy of the spectators surrounding the course was infectious. I have raced in many an event and Lake Placid spectators are among the very best in Ironman. As I rode back into transition, I was energized by the literally thousands of people that came to support us.
Lap 2 3:07.29 (17.92 MPH)
Total Bike Time 6:15.22 (17.9 MPH) with 6900 feet of gain.
Normalized Power 196 Watts
Upon entering T2, I made a quick change into my Two Piece Team Kit. In and out in 6:35. It was a little long but I was not in a rush. My goal was to take the first 5 miles very easy. I walked out of transition and told myself that I couldn’t run the first 3 miles slow enough. Why? Most of it was downhill. I averaged the first 5K in at a 9:15 pace and through mile 8 at a 9:33 pace. My personal goal was to stick a 4 hour marathon. As I finished the first ½ marathon in 1:57.28, and tracking to goal, suddenly the wheels fell off. My stomach began to have a reckoning.
On the backside of Mirror Lake during the close of lap 1, I vomited along the roadside. A race official came to my aid and handed me a bottle of water and suggested I take some salt. From here through mile 17, I battled the nausea and opted to let it happen again around mile 18. Now I was mostly walking. As I walked through aid stations, I sipped on Chicken Broth and Coca Cola. The warm broth was divine and by mile 22, I had recovered. Over the close of the race, I was able to lay down an 8:14 average mile.
As I entered the oval where the finish line was, a 44 year old from my age group passed me. It took a minute to register, then I began the painful struggle of chasing him down with everything I had left. It was fun trying to catch him and ultimately I did. Spectators roared at us. All I could hear was, “GO WATTIE”!!! Here is a great picture that perfectly expresses the pain and determination written on my face.
Official Race Time 11:52.27 (Not Including Lap 2 of Swim)
134 of 433 Age Group
752 of 2764 Overall
Ironman is truly an incredible experience. Looking back at this race, I learned a great deal about racing, my body, and pain during the process. Although I melted down ½ way through the marathon, I achieved each and every goal I had set for myself up to that point. Therefore, I am very excited about the result of this race.
Only through racing can we truly test our training. Furthermore, you cannot duplicate in training what your body will feel like while racing. Therefore, always some tweaking to be done. I am already discussing with my coach Adam Zucco with Training Bible Coaching a strategy to overcome my stomach issues for my next Ironman in Arizona this November.
As I close this report, I would like to thank most importantly my wife Lisa. Without your love and support, I could not participate in this sport. You are my Lover, My Confidant and my Very Best Friend. Thank you to my coach Adam, who brought me back from a difficult injury last season. You always make yourself available and epitomize the definition of a great coach. Thank you to my team and the Wattie Ink Family. You are ALWAYS there to support and cheer us on. Finally, thank you to our sponsors, Wattie Ink, Herbalife24, Blueseventy, Powerbar, ISM, Spidertech Tape, TriBike Transport, Rudy Project, Reynolds Wheels, 454 Tattoo & 10 Barrel Brewing.
Just an early post to share a little info on this weekends race festivities. My wife and I brought the girls along this weekend to enjoy the fun.
Rev3 Quassy is a family friendly race that provides a unique experience set within the Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury Connecticut.
I will be racing on Sunday in the Long Course event. There is also an Olympic Distance event held on Saturday.
Tonight we will enjoy the Glow Run with the girls as we adorn glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets. The Rev3 folks also provide a cool glow in the dark tshirt which the girls will love.
I have decided to sport a Betty Design Speedo and Wattie Ink Compression Socks along with my super comfy KSwiss Blade Light Runs! Stay tuned for my race recap next week as I promise to share a few fun pics!
This should be a fantastic trip for the East Coast Wattie Ink Elite Team! Look what Wattie has in store for us!
Wish us luck and stay tuned for an interesting recap!
ROCK THE W!
Wow...what a long strange trip that was. Not a dream...but definitely a dream come true. As I reflect back on last weekends series of events, I find myself at a loss of words. For me, a Wine Salesman...to be speechless is unusual. That's just it. Words simply cannot describe the experience that is, THE ONE & ONLY WILDFLOWER! You simply have to experience the WHOLE spectacle for yourself.
In my previous post, I discuss why Wildflower was added to my "Bucket List" of must do events. I have heard a myriad of stories and descriptions about the race, the venue, the festivities, the nudity and the hangovers! Yes, all of this actually happens at Wildflower. In fact, after my first honorary "Prairie Fire" shot at the "Wattie Ink" post race party Saturday night, my night was never quite the same. More about the after party which was awesome....a bit later.
My trip began on Thursday. I departed Chicago O'Hare airport and flew to LAX to make my first connection. I caught a commuter flight into San Luis Obispo where I was to be picked up by my coach, professional triathlete and camp director at The Cycling House, Brendan Halpin. As I have stated before, this trip was on my bucket list. Therefore, I was out to really enjoy the experience. I chose to send my bike via TriBike Transport fully assembled. I would pick it up at the race venue on Friday. This allowed me to travel much lighter and stress free.
The Cycling House provides the Ultimate Training & Racing Experience. I have used their services many times in the past and have come to enjoy the high quality service they provide. Additionally, as a Chicagoan, the logistics of fully experiencing Wildflower are challenging to overcome. Enter The Cycling House. I arrived at the airport, was whisked away by Brendan and arrived at the race site an hour later. Our RV already hooked up, our camp already setup and our lunch already prepared by Chef Drew. All I had to do on this trip was eat, drink, race and sleep and I performed fabulously!
Each morning Drew & Brendan would prepare a simple breakfast and coffee, each afternoon we had a chef prepared lunch and each evening Drew pulled out all the stops and prepared divine meals. All of these meals, were tailored to our special dietary needs. As a Wine Pro, I brought a few bottles of my own and was blessed to find that a fellow racer/camper Judy Rose brought a couple of fantastic bottles from Walla Walla Washington as well. We were all High Rolling! We even had some fantastic IPA for recovery! If it were not for the Pro Services The Cycling House offered, this bucket list trip would not have happened.
On Friday, morning the day before the race, I awoke to find our camp area had grown from about a dozen trailers and tents to numbers to great to count. During the night hundreds of people had come in and setup. I was beginning to understand why they call this the "Woodstock" of Triathlons. Later that morning, I took some time to walk down to the camp area that all of the other Watties were held up in. It was great to meet my team mates and socialize with them for a bit. I spent the remainder of the day enjoying the venue, checking out the vendor booths, picking up my bike and preparing my gear for race day. Before I knew it, the temperature had climbed upwards of 95 degrees. I had not felt heat like this since last September in Chicago. In fact, as I became concerned about the heat, I realized that I had only ridden my bike outside on 7 occasions this season. It' been cold this year in Chicago. The next thing I knew the butterflies started to hit the gut and I had to remind myself that I had been training consistently since mid January. All of the sudden the clock struck 5:00 PM and then it was time to head up Lynch hill and back to camp to prepare for team pictures.
Dusty Nabor a fellow teammate worked with Tyler Olson Photographer to capture a few awesome images of our team like the one above. Although they are not all pictured, I estimated we had 38 Wattie Athletes racing in the 3 different events over the weekend. The remainder of the evening was spent enjoying a fantastic dinner with my friends at The Cycling House. As we enjoyed fresh grilled fish impeccably prepared by Chef Drew, Brendan, Judy & I discussed our race plans and strategy and then called it a night.
On race morning, I woke up around 5:30 and had my traditional breakfast which includes yogurt, dried fruit & granola. Today I decided to also eat a banana with peanut butter and muffin. I consumed plenty of water and began sipping on my electrolyte fizz drink. The Elite Men's Race started at 8:00 AM and Brendan was racing at that time. Therefore, we went down to transition to setup together. We went our separate ways inside transition and met up again before walking down to the start.
I maintain a very simple setup both on my bike and inside transition. As it was going to be hot, I knew it would be difficult to take in much solid food. For that reason my nutrition consisted of my pre race electrolyte everage, electrolyte fizz tables, 6 gel packs & two 280 calorie Power Bars. I taped two gel packs on each aero bar for quick release and then packed two more in my Fuel Belt with my Power Bars and strapped it to my top tube. This setup is both aero and efficient. I carried an estimated 1200 calories (600 in gel and 600 in bars). My hydration system is totally new to me this year, and I fell in love with the product almost immediately. For this reason I enjoy telling others about it.
The Speedfil A2 is a triathletes dream come true. I have a bottle strapped between my aero bars with a tube the allows me to drink while in the aero position. Furthermore, this product can be filled on the fly with valuable fluids, gels, fizz tablets or electrolyte pills by pouring them directly into an easy to open/close chamber. The best part about this game changing product is, while I am hydrating, I am also aero. More importantly, my competition is not. This is all I carried on the bike plus one backup bottle behind my ISM Saddle, a spare tube and CO2 cartridge.
One of our sponsors is a saddle manufacturer called ISM. First let me say, I was apprehensive about changing saddles. I have always been a devotee of a competitors product until recently. The reason is simple, my "STUFF" has never gone numb since I began using ISM Saddles. I cannot say the same about other saddles. The ISM product allows me to get into a very aggressive forward position while supporting my hips evenly across the saddle. Furthermore, as I said before....my junk doesn't go numb and I have found that I am comfortable even on long 5+ hour rides.
For the run, I decided to rely primarily on the aid stations. I knew the heat would be a factor and against etiquette, I opted to fill my Fuel Belt with two bottles consisting of 1 gel each with water added. I know from experience that heat can cause me to have nausea and I didn't want to deal with solids of any form including thick gels during the run. As I completed setting up, I packed away everything I DID NOT NEED packed it in my gear bag and moved it to the front of transition near the elite area. Why? I like a very clean, and organized transition area. If I don't need it, it doesn't need to be there. I have found that in large races like these space is limited and a clean efficient transition area can really make a difference.
The Elite wave of Men went off at 8:00 AM and I watched them fly off followed by the Elite women 5 minutes later. This group included Heather Jackson the eventual women's winner and Wattie Ink Pro. As my heat grew closer, I zipped up and, quickly jumped in. I had a very brief warm up with about 150 yards. It was nice to get in the water and I was really feeling the butterflies. I readied myself and prepared for the gun. BANG into the water...There were 3 heats of the 40-44 Age Group. That meant that my heat, which was the first was completely packed. We were bumping, kicking and slapping at each other for the first 300 yds. As I jockeyed for position, I found some water and my rhythm. I was out of the water in 35:59. This was a solid swim for me. What would I do differently in my next outing. GO HARDER! I came out of the water never feeling like I pushed it in the water. I felt so good during the swim that when it was over, I was surprised at how good I was feeling. As I came out of the water, I quickly grasped my wetsuit zipper, pulled down my suit and began briskly walking up the long hill into transition. I had been warned that you could blow up racing into T1. With the entire race still out in front of me, I was playing it cautious. Out of T1 in 4:04. That hill climbing out of the water proved to be a killer.
Out on the bike course, I began my first climb out of the park and was met with a touch of Wildflower Charm of the topless variety. As I said before, ONLY AT WILDFLOWER. This cheering helped me forget about the pain during the first difficult section. As I pushed out onto this beautiful course, I was quickly met with the realization that although it was a gorgeous ride, the roads were very rough and I knew I was going to feel every bit of it. I did everything I could to focus on eating and staying hydrated. I poured water on myself frequently and at each aid station. It was getting very hot out on the bike course and temperatures soared up around 98 degrees with steady dry winds. Knowing I needed to keep drinking, I tossed in another Electrolyte Fizz tablet into my Speedfil A2 and continued to focus on my hydration. In total, I consumed more fluid than I could keep track of, and consumed all but 1/2 of one bar. Therefore, I consumed approximately 1000-1100 calories during the bike plus the calories I consumed from the on course electrolyte drinks.
During my bike I focused on keeping my heart rate at an average of around 150-155 BPM. As it was very hot, during the big climbs my heart rate soared into the high 170's. I played the first 40 miles very conservative and then pushed home. Ultimately, I returned from the bike in 3:14.25. This was initially disappointing, however after reviewing my Garmin, the 56 mile section had an estimated 3850 feet of gain. That helped me put things into perspective. I have ridden 8 times including this race outside this season. I live in Chicago....there are no hills here that can prepare you for this kind of assault. It was humbling and it was a ton of fun. Just before I dashed down the hill into transition, I was able to cheer on Women's Race Winner Heather Jackson as she descended Lynch hill toward the finish line...no challengers in sight. Then it was into and out of T2 in 2:22. What would I do differently? Spend time training on more hilly terrain. Aside from that, nothing. I had a solid ride nailed my nutrition and had no mechanicals.
Out on the run course, I prepared myself for what would be the most difficult half marathon, inside or out of triathlon, that I have ever competed in. This gruelling 13.1 mile course was 60% on trails and had a Garmin estimated total gain of 1565 feet. What was called a run, was quickly becoming a death march. As I traversed along the back section, I came upon a monster climb that stopped me dead in my tracks. Although, I felt I nailed my nutrition on the bike, the legs and heart were not prepared for what this course still had in store. I reminded myself that as much pain as I was feeling, it had to be equally painful for the other athletes. I steadied my pace and sent the pain below.
As I approached the top of the biggest climbing section, I approached a welcomed aid station, refueled and grabbed a water bottle to run with for the duration. I needed the water on my person, it was hot and water helped cool the face and body from aid station to aid station. Just as the pain began to creep up on me again, I found myself back inside the park. Spectators had come out in droves. There were thousands of people along the run course cheering us on. A few of these spectators must have thought it was pretty hot out there as well, as many of them were completely naked...yup...only at Wildflower!
These spectacles made for an interesting run through the park. Just as I thought I had seen it all......along comes the Eurostar himself! My heart rate shot up to 183 as evidenced by my Garmin file. The Eurostar ran by my side for a spell threw me a High 5 and ran back to cheer on fellow Watties. Although he scared the stuffing out of me, he also lightened my step and I settled in for the final 5K. Two of these miles would be uphill and the last mile down into the finish. As I struggled coming up this last two mile section, I saw fellow Watties Peter Leavitt and Sherri Anne Nelson. She charged up through the men's field to an eventual 3rd place AG spot.
Seeing my teammates helped me forget about the pain for a moment and all of the sudden I was atop Lynch dashing down the hill toward the finish. Coming through the chute was absolutely painful and exhilarating
at the same time. Hearing the many spectators cheer you on.... GO WATTIE....GO WATTIE....what little strength I had left went into giving it all I had left to cross the finish in 6:11.24. This would be the most difficult
Half Distance event I have competed in. It was also the most fun, I have ever had, at a Triathlon event of any kind.
Following the race, I made sure to grab a recovery beverage and then quickly moved on to a recovery beverage of the IPA variety! As I refueled and took stock of the days events, I began preparing for what the night also had in store! Honorary Prairie Fire Shots at the Wattie Ink after party. For those of you that have not had a Prairie Fire....it amounts to a shot of Tequila and in this case a ton of tabasco sauce. One of these babies and your lips and mouth are sent ablaze....not to mention your stomach will hate you for at least an hour. As the team traded stories of our day, celebrated the podium finishes we earned, we sipped fine wine and IPA. We celebrated Heather Jackson's Top Overall Female finish and began to walk down to the nearby Triathlete Magazine after party.
What an experience this was. The Triathlete Magazine folks had invited the Elites including Jesse Thomas Mens Overall Winner, Joe Gambles fellow Wattie Pro, Matt Lieto and numerous others professionals to their annual bash. Upon arrival we found a GIANT PINATA that had been stuffed with tons of Quality Tri Gear, Wearables, Sunglasses and Nutrition. Just the kind of stuff every athlete needs more of! The only catch was to take a whack at this piñata you had to have TWO not just ONE but TWO shots of Tequila. Upon choking these down, you would be spun around blind folded and allowed to take a whack. It took a dozen or more athletes to get this thing to fall. When it finally opened there was a dash to the goods that was so fast that you would not have known these athletes had just completed a long course event.
The after party was a ton of fun, I met several teammates, Heather Jackson, Wattie, Chris Jackson and countless others. At Wildflower I also had the opportunity to get up close and personal with many of the stars of our sport. We exchanged stories, had a few beers and celebrated our personal successes. Soon the night came to a close and it was time to pack for the trip home.
In closure, the Wildflower experience has been like no other Triathlon experience I have had. The venue, its unique setting and the spectacles that abound truly set this race apart from any other event in the world. Couple this with the service provided by The Cycling House, the support of the Wattie Ink team, and this trip will forever be etched in my memory. Wildflower...That Was Fun! Next Up REV3 Quassy June 2nd.
We are all familiar with the term "Bucket List". Although the term has been around forever, it was recently popularized by the movie "The Bucket List" in 2007. It is an American comedy-drama, directed by Rob Reiner that starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. A great flick. If you remember it and you are like me, this movie likely moved you and made you cry like a baby. Yes it was a tear jerker. Following the movie, and after wiping my nose and eyes with a tissue, I decided to create my very own "Bucket List" focused largely on the sport of Triathlon. What I came up with on that day lead me down an incredible path. A path that ultimately lead me here, to Wildflower.
Tri-California Events, hosts the Wildflower Triathlon Festival, now in it's 31st year at Lake San Antonio near Bradley, California. The event is often described as the "Woodstock" of Triathlons is often a favorite of triathletes. This years event is sure to impress with a strong line up of professional athletes competing for podiums. This year, Wattie Ink's own Heather Jackson returns to compete for Top Female Spot and repeat what she accomplished here last year. In addition to Heather Jackson, the Wattie Ink Elite Team has almost 40 team members racing in various events. The Wildlfower Festival is held in a unique setting which almost forces racers to camp out on site. Couple this unique setting with a group this size camping and celebrating together, and you can easily understand how Wildflower can be such an appealing draw.
This year, I will be traveling with my coach Brendan Halpin. Brendan is a Professional Triathlete that works with The Cycling House based in Missoula, MT. The Cycling House hosts cyclists and triathletes at various training locations in the US and abroad. As this is a Bucket List trip, I wanted to pull out all the stops. The Cycling House is well known for creating life changing cycling vacations and they have done just that with Wildflower. We have rented a 30' RV and will have Chef Drew on hand to prepare our meals. As we are a small group, just Coach Brendan, Chef Drew, Myself and one other, I plan on being pampered pretty well each day. Chef Drew has been known to turn out some incredible meals and I am looking forward to pairing a few bottles of wine with each of them. Of course as a Wine Professional, I would be amiss if I weren't rolling with wine. I covered that base with fellow Wattie & Eurostar Chris Masilon. I also ensured we would have enough for the post race after party Saturday evening in order for our thirsty fellow Watties to enjoy. I did say it was a Bucket List trip.
As you can tell, I am pretty excited about this trip. This race marks my return to the sport after bi-lateral medial meniscus tears, sidelined me late last season. Two very successful surgeries, coupled with diligent and meticulous work with my Physical Therapist and my Coach, have allowed me to return pain free. I have learned so much about my body and although my speed is not quite back to what it once was, I have so much to be thankful for. As I am writing this post, I am reminded of just how many positive people I have met and how many positive experiences have occourred along the road to recovery. Much of the inspiration and commitment came from the support of my amazing teammates at Wattie Ink. Without their infectious passion and desire for triathlon I may not have faced my recovery as head on as I have.
To close this post.....wish me and all my Wattie Teammates racing Wildflower this Saturday a little bit of luck. I hope you will keep an eye out for my race recap to follow next week where I will comment on all the cool new products I am using this season. Until then #ROCKtheW!
In May of 2011, following the Buffalo Marathon, I injured my right knee. At the time, I had no idea what occurred. It was not until recently that I learned I have been running on a torn meniscus for 18 months.
For the most part, I was able to overcome major issues by being proactive in managing my recovery. As an example, ice, stretching, rolling and myo-facial release helped alleviate a great deal of pain. In fact, between May of 2011 & August 2012, I trained for the Las Vegas Marathon & Ironman Louisville, raced regularly all with a torn meniscus and little to no problem associated with it. Only during large volume weeks did I experience pain and swelling with my injured knee.
Two weeks ago while training for this year’s Las Vegas Marathon, I injured my left knee. My wife Lisa a Physician/Surgeon insisted this time that I see a Sports Physician about my injuries. Later, an MRI confirmed, bilateral medial meniscus tears. This was considered unusual as it generally would happen in one knee as opposed to both at the same time. Because the original injury took place in May of 2011, and my second injury a few weeks ago, it is easier to understand how these injuries occurred.
I felt compelled to share this story and my road to recovery with my friends and the Triathlon community.
This article will discuss and touch upon treatment options for such injuries and address how I opted to handle my own. As every athlete is different, what is best for me may not be best for you. I hope that this article will
help shed light on this type of injury and the options athletes have when dealing with such injuries.
My surgery was Friday December 14th, 2012. As I begin day 5 on new knees, I can feel my mobility coming back and the surgical pain subsiding much faster than I dreamed it would. I have not needed pain medication since day 2 and have decided to lower my dosage of Ibuprofen as well. I am still taking my daily aspirin to prevent DVT’s and clotting. Today will be my first day back on the bike. I plan to ride for 30-45 minutes in an easy spinning gear simply to start turning over the legs. This morning I added an abs wokout along with a few squats and lunges. The knees are starting to feel strong again and today I begin taking my first steps down the road to Wildflower.
The remainder of this article is resource material on torn meniscus and treatment options for them. Please take some time to read this article if it interests you. Over the next few weeks, I will keep my blog up to date on my recovery and share with you my coach’s training plan. We plan to monitor the load closely over the next few weeks only adding as my knees can strengthen. I hope you will find this material both informational and educational…Stay tuned for updates on “As the Knees Return” over the next few weeks.
Torn Meniscus Treatment
There are many things to consider when deciding how to treat your torn meniscus, including the extent and location of the tear, your pain level, your age and activity level, your doctor's preference, and when the
injury occurred. Your treatment choices are: Nonsurgical treatmentwith rest, ice, compression, elevation, and physical therapy. This may include wearing a temporary knee brace. Surgical repair to sew the tear together. Partial meniscectomy, which is surgery to remove the torn section. Total meniscectomy, which is surgery to remove the entire meniscus. This is generally avoided, because this option increases the risk for osteoarthritis in the knee.
Whenever possible, meniscus surgery is done using arthroscopy, rather than through a large cut in the knee. This is how both of my knees were done. The location (zone) of the tear is one of the most important factors
in determining treatment. See a picture of the meniscus zones. Tears at the outer edge of the meniscus (red zone) tend to heal well because there is good blood supply. Minor tears may heal on their own with a brace and a period of rest. If they do not heal or if repair is deemed necessary, the tear can be sewn together. This repair is usually successful in the red zone.·
The inner two-thirds (white zone) of the meniscus does not have a good blood supply, so it does not heal well either on its own or after repair. If torn pieces float into the joint space, which may result in a "locked" knee or
cause other symptoms, the torn portion is removed (partial meniscectomy) and the edges of the remaining meniscus are shaved to make the meniscus smooth.
When the tear extends from the red zone into the white zone, there may be enough blood supply for healing. The tear may be repaired or removed. This is something the orthopedic surgeon decides during the surgery. Also, the pattern of the tear may determine whether a tear can be repaired. Longitudinal tears are often repairable. Radial tears may be repairable depending on where they are located. Horizontal and flap (oblique)
tears are generally not repairable. See a picture of different types of tears.
Another factor when considering treatment is that repairs to the lateral meniscus (on the outer side of knee) typically heal better than repairs to the medial meniscus (on the inner side of the knee). See a picture of the lateral and medial menisci. It is preferable to preserve as much of the meniscus as possible. If the meniscus can be repaired successfully, saving the injured meniscus by doing a meniscal repair reduces the occurrence of knee joint degeneration compared with partial or total removal (meniscectomy). Meniscus repairis more successful in younger people (experts think people younger than about 40 years old do best), in knees that have good stability from the ligaments, if the tear is in the red zone, and if the repair is done within
the first few weeks after the injury (acute).1 Meniscal repair may prevent degenerative changes in the knee joint. But it has not been proved conclusively that repairing a tear prevents more long-term problems (such as osteoarthritis) than not repairing a tear. Many doctors believe that a successful meniscus repair lowers the risk of early-onset arthritis because it reduces the stress put on the knee joint.
Orthopedists most often perform meniscus surgery with arthroscopy, a procedure used both to examine and then to repair the inside of a joint by inserting a thin tube (arthroscope) containing a camera and a light through small incisions near the joint. Surgical instruments are inserted through other small incisions near the joint. Some tears require open knee surgery. Meniscus Tear: Should I Have Surgery?
Rehabilitation varies depending on the injury, the type of surgery, your orthopedic surgeon's preference, and your age, health status, and activities. Time periods vary, but in general meniscus surgery is usually followed by a period of rest, walking, and selected exercises. After you have full range of motion without pain and your knee strength is back to normal, you can return to your previous activity level. For some exercises you can do at home (with your doctor's approval), see: Meniscus Tear: Rehabilitation Exercises.
My road to recovery is coming along faster than I had imagined. The post surgical pain associated with this procedure is minimal. I can already tell that I am getting stronger and the acute pain I once experienced in my knees is gone. As I slowly return to fitness, I will keep you all informed as to how things progress.
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)--Report
Many of you are expecting to see this year’s Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon Race Report. The race begins later today and unfortunately this year Lisa and I were unable to attend. On Wednesday last week, we took Eva to see our pediatrician and he in turn sent us immediately to the ER at Children’s Memorial Hospital. Eva was under severe respiratory distress and her Oxygen saturation was reading in the middle to low 80’s. We learned later that Eva had gotten a virus called RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). This is a nasty little bug. Lisa and I thought we should write about RSV as a means to help educate parents on RSV, how to prevent it, and how to recognize the early signs in order to keep your loved ones from being hospitalized due to RSV.
Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Most otherwise healthy people recover from RSV infection in 1 to 2 weeks. however, infection can be severe in some people, such as certain infants, young children, and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States. In addition, RSV is more often being recognized as an important cause of respiratory illness in older adults.
RSV can cause upper respiratory infections (such as colds) and lower respiratory tract infections (such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia). In children under 1 year of age, RSV is the most important cause of bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung. Almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday according to the CDC. When infants and children are exposed to RSV for
the first time, 25% to 40% of them have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis or pneumonia, and 0.5% to 2% will require hospitalization. Most children hospitalized for RSV infection are under 6 months of age. Infants and children infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days of infection. Most will recover in
1 to 2 weeks. However, even after recovery, very young infants and children with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus for 1 to 3 weeks. People of any age can get another RSV infection, but later infections are generally less severe. The elderly and adults with chronic heart or lung disease or with immune systems weakened by medical conditions or treatments remain at high risk for developing severe RSV disease if reinfected. In temperate climates, RSV infections generally occur during fall, winter, and early spring. The timing and severity of RSV circulation in a given community can vary from year to year.
How is RSV spread?
RSV can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air. Coughing and sneezing send virus-containing droplets into the air, where they can infect a person if they inhale these droplets or these droplets come in contact with their mouth, nose, or eye. Infection can also result from direct and indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions from infected persons. Direct contact with the virus can occur, for example, by kissing the face of a child with RSV. Indirect contact can occur if the virus gets on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, that is then touched by other people.
How can RSV infection be prevented?
Researchers are working to develop RSV vaccines, but none is available yet. However, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of RSV. Specifically, people who have cold-like symptoms should cover their coughs and sneezes. Wash their hands frequently and correctly (with soap and water for 15–20 seconds) Avoid sharing their cups and eating utensils with others. Refrain from kissing others. In addition, cleaning contaminated surfaces (such as doorknobs) may help stop the spread of RSV.
Special attention should be paid to protecting children who are at high risk for developing severe disease if infected with RSV. Such children include premature infants, children under 2 with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children with weakened immune systems. Ideally, people with cold-like symptoms should not interact with children at high risk for severe disease. But, if this is not possible, they should carefully follow the
prevention steps mentioned above, and they should wash their hands before interacting with children at high risk. When possible, limiting the time that high-risk children spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings may also help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.
Helpful Hints to help Prevent RSV
A drug called palivizumab (say "pah-lih-VIH-zu-mahb") is available to prevent severe RSV illness in certain infants and children who are at high risk. The drug can help prevent development of serious RSV disease, but
it cannot help cure or treat children already suffering from serious RSV disease and it cannot prevent infection with RSV. If your child is at high risk for severe RSV disease, talk to your healthcare provider to see if palivizumab can be used as a preventive measure.
Lisa and I, pulled the majority of this information from the Center for Disease Controls website. If you have any questions about RSV please contact your medical provider. We hope this helps you and your family becomes familiar with the warning signs of RSV.
December 2nd, 2012 marks this years Las Vegas Marathon. This is the second year that the race has been run on “The Strip at Night”. Last year’s race was a huge success and over 48,000 runners flocked to the Las Vegas Strip to participate in the inaugural “Strip at Night” event. That is correct, people actually run an entire Marathon in Las Vegas under cover of darkness. In fact this is the worlds largest nightime running event. Couple this with running the entire length of the Las Vegas strip, both directions, with thousands and thousands of spectators at the roadside cheering you on! It is easy to see why this is a such a great race. Furtermore, what better place in the world than Las Vegas, to host a race such as this, at night!
The only down side is; it is the only race in the world that I have participated; in where you can actually smell the cigarette smoke in the air. It is difficult to tell whether it is pouring out of the casinos while you run past or pouring out of the lungs of the spectators cheering you on. Beyond that, this has been a well-organized race since Competitor group purchased it in 2009.
Many of you that know me are aware of the fact that I lived in Las Vegas for nearly a decade. During this time, I had the opportunity to participate in the Las Vegas Marathon on two other occasions. This year marks my 4th race. Las Vegas has an allure about it. This allure reaches far beyond the famous strip and has the ability to pull me back multiple times per year.
In 2011, Ironman moved the 70.3 World Championships to Las Vegas from Clearwater Florida. This movement caused the Triathlon world to take notice of the wealth of resources the Las Vegas valley has to provide athletes. With over 300 days of sunshine, mild winters and less the 4.5 inches of rain annually, Las Vegas has become a cycling mecca. Many professional athletes live in the community and many more flock there to train on the endless miles of pristine blacktop that graces the Lake Mead Recreation Area.
Last year, I had hoped to cross the finish line in 3:30 or better. Unfortunately I fell short of that mark at 3:41.06. I had a solid race but had too much left in the tank near the end and I realized that I should have pushed harder. Race officials also made a crucial error in setting up the course at the Marathon & Half Marathon Merge. 35+thousand half marathon participants merged with the 13,000 marathon participants and the bottle neck caused many runners to stop dead in their tracks with simply no road to run on. I actually found myself running on the sidewalk and dodging people left and right to find road to run on. This year the course has been modified to prevent this from happening again. As this race is a Boston Qualifier, many Marathoners were upset that their chances of qualifying were stripped from them simply due to poor planning.
Marathon specific training is very different from Triathlon training. As a triathlete, we swim, bike and run. these sports are uniquely intertwined and a weakness in one can dramatically impact your ability to perform another. Marathon specific training involves a significant amount of long runs, speed-work and recovery. Furthermore, many of the Elite Marathoners only run 1 or 2 Marathon’s per year. This is due to the breakdown and impact the Marathon has on the body.
This year because of a nagging knee injury, I have decided to run the ½ Marathon and have set no expectations except to enjoy the race with my wife and family. I often follow this mantra; it’s not about the pace it’s about the journey. My journey back to Las Vegas this weekend will be about enjoying the company of old friends, family and a bike ride down memory lane.
All I have left to do now is cross my fingers and toes! Here's to Rocking the W in 2013! T minus 10 days and counting!!!