Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Let me be one of the first to wish you HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The coolest thing about New Year's is that it's the one time we feel like we get a fresh, new start. We feel like we've put things behind us that were negative, and focus on the positive possibilities of the new year. It's amazing how the calendar can affect us in this way, since any other time of the year we seem to have so much trouble with it. Come midnight, amongst all the cheering, you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief. People are so happy to get thru whatever it was holding them back in that year.

This year, I hope to keep focused on the positives, limiting my negative thoughts and stress. Kind of like New Year's everyday!

In a new twist, I did something I normally can't stand, but thought it was pretty cool. I did a 4 hour trainer ride! It was the longest trainer ride of my life!

The set-up for the 4 hour ride, with nice TV view!

I'm sure you asking why a guy who lives in San Diego would spend 4 hours on the trainer. Well, that's a good question. There were a lot of reasons, but the main one was the quality of the workout I wanted to do. The workout called for a flat course, and 50% of ride time in zone 2, which meant I would need to probably ride at Fiesta Island, which is just about as boring as a trainer can be. I also just had one of those gut feelings when I was putting on my clothes, that something bad was going to happen on my ride. I've never had that before, and was a little spooked by it.

Then I saw there was some cool football on TV, (Orlanda is a big 49ers fan), with the 49ers and Browns. I got a 42 inch HDTV from my wife for X-mas/Anniversary, so I decided to enjoy the game in HD, while riding the trainer.

It actually was quite fun! Utilizing a power meter, made it so easy to keep the quality right where I wanted, it was great! Plus I used a Gordo tip on the ride of every 15 mins and 45 mins past the hour, you do 6x1 min single leg drill, and every 30 mins of the hour, and on the hour, 1 min of VO2 max watts for 1 min. It helped the time go by well, and broke it up nicely.

So 11 water bottles later, and NO CALORIES, I was beat. But I had fun! Might have to do it again next weekend, if the weather is as bad as it looks like it might be here. (Yes, San Diego has some bad days!)

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 28, 2007


It's been a rough day, a lot of family stress. I struggle with it, because it makes for a tough situation for me. As a whole, my sport requires me to think and act selfishly, many times. Its demands require that of me, and honestly, my family struggles with it. Luckily my wife is wonderfully supportive, but not everyone else is.

It seems to become this battle between feeling like you're alienating everyone in your family, (even your friends to a degree), and following your goals, dreams and aspirations within this sport.

It's hard to expect them to understand, and it's even harder for them to accept situations where it seems my triathlon career takes precedence. I come across as selfish, and that only leads to other conflicts, which may not seem related, but clearly are.

It's not easy, and at the end of day I have to look in the mirror and be satisfied with the choices I've made, and who I am.

I recall when I first got into teaching, and was really down about some things which happened at school one day. One of my mentors, Coach Holman, who was my high school track and cross country coach, told me, "Sometimes, you get in your car at the end of the day and say to yourself, 'The kids won today.' It's going to happen."

Now it feels like one of those days. My training felt crappy today, (test-sets to boot), and even if they had gone well, my attitude was so poor, it didn't matter.

I am certainly faced with some challenges ahead, and realize I need to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish what I've devoted most of my life to. We shall see how that goes.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rest week

With it being Christmas time and all, I am in a recovery week. It's been busy the past few weeks, which is why I haven't posted much. I was especially slammed with getting my USAT Level 2 Certification test completed and turned in last week. Plus, training was getting busy, and I am still trying to find that groove of time management again.

So in the meantime, here are some things to catch-up on:

1. My new bike position. Here are two photos, one of my old position on the bike, one of the new. I don't really have any good photos of the full old position, only what we took when I did the metabolic test.
The old position:

In this position, I noticed I carried too much tension in my arms and shoulders, trying to get lower than I was capable.

The new position:

With the help of Chris Pulleyn, (in photo with me), from Bicycle Ranch in Phoenix, we made some big changes, and brought me up quite a bit more. It's not more aerodynamic, in a traditional sense, but I would have to test that to make sure. I can certainly tell though, I am MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE. I am not fighting with myself and the crouching, when going on the bike. I really think this will make a big difference in the later stages of a race, keeping me fresher for the run.

We also had to move me forward, to get me more over the pedals. (See #2).

2. If you look at my new position on the bike, you'll notice some other interesting tweaks for this year. The first change is the use of Q-Rings, which I'll be writing more about on my TriTechReview blog soon. The other change is the cleat position. Joe has switched me to a mid-sole cleat position, dead in the middle of my foot. More on that as well in the TriTech blog. Check out the photo for more.

This is the old position, with the new mid-sole cleat position. Now you understand why I needed a change!

So for now, that's all I have, I will be updating the power files on here soon. Remember, you can follow my online training log anytime with the link on the right.

Hope every had a great holiday, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2007

The cruel, cruel water

Agua, H20, water, whatever it is you want to call yourself, you are a cruel, cruel beast!

I know I left you for a little while, and you were probably a little bitter, but you knew I would be back. (Didn't you?) It was only 6 weeks or so, can't you show a little patience? After all, how many relationships came back anew and stronger after a brief reprise?

Now, I'm not blaming you entirely. After all, I know I need to get back to my committed ways, but even when I try to do the right thing, you send me different signals! How many times have I come to you, fresh, excited, and feeling ready for a breakthrough, only to have you hold me down, making me feel sluggish and terrible. Back when I would show up hungover, ready to apologize to you, you show pity, and clear the water ahead of me, as those I've been given a motor to do my intervals with.

I show up skinny and fit, and I'm slower. I sit around, get a little fat, and you make me faster. What's up with that?

Certainly, you have noticed me stand before you, reluctant to take the plunge, and I apologize for that. Certainly, I have made the plunge every time, but have some patience and let me jump in on my own terms. Sometimes it's a bit intimidating to do it. There is a bit of a shock to the system when you do that.

Still, you are cruel. When I try to accelerate our relationship, and go faster, you slow me down. When I try to take things slow, you make me fast. I wish you would just MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!

Look, I'm sorry. And to show you how sorry I am, and how committed I will be to you, I'd like to ask you on a date. How does your schedule look for April 13th? There's this event in Phoenix that'd I'd like you to accompany me to. It won't be too much of your time, hopefully around 50 mins. It's a big party, a few thousand people. I think you'll enjoy it, and you'll meet a lot of people who will want to spend some time with you as well.

Please, let's get our relationship back on track. What do you say? Can you help me out here? I promise to see you more regularly, and pay more attention to the little things in our relationship. I think we can make this work.

See you soon.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Training Update and LT test power file

Sorry I haven't been able to update the blog much this week, but it's been very busy around my house. I've created an office out of one of the bedrooms, in order to keep more organized and get my coaching work done, as well as analyze my training, all without the distractions of the rest of the house.

So here is the power file from the LT test on Tuesday in Phoenix, with Joe...


(Also, I have figured out why the last file probably did not work! You can go back and download that one).

I plan to post some more info from the testing session, and the bike fit, along with pics. There are a lot of cool changes happening with my biking and training, and you'll be intrigued if you check back in soon! For now though, my LT was measured at 168 bpm, and 270 watts. Not too far off the test the Friday before. (If you're doing a WKO file for me to follow along, I'll have more files on here soon. Also, my max HR you can enter as 186), and you saw my weight this week!

As you can see in the online training log, I've been busy and back at training as well. I've been entering times and paces, so you can get a sense of where I'm at, etc.

Things seem to be going well. Most importantly, the trip to Phoenix did wonders for my motivation! Working with Joe has me so excited, and I am anxious to get fit again! Honestly, I was seriously contemplating retiring over the course of the downtime. I wondered if I still had it, and if I was ready to mentally make the commitment. Those few days with Joe in Phoenix made a big difference! But I guess it's early, so we'll truly see if it made a difference in the coming months.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Phoenix update..

Things are going well here in Phoenix with Joe, but they have been very busy! Today was a crazy day of the following:

6:30 AM - Up and coffee, pack for the day.
7:30 AM - Off to the pool, Joe checks out my stroke.
8 AM - Joe films me running some.
8:30 AM - Breakfast, and discussion of this season, plans, etc.
10 AM - Lactate and FTP test on the bike, with metabolic cart.
11 AM - Assessment from physical therapist at Endurance Rehab.
12 PM - Lunch, discussion of results from test.
1 PM - Bike fit until 4 PM.
4 PM - Back to Endurance Rehab for exercises and follow-up.
5 PM - Back to Joe's house.
6 PM - Dinner.

It's been a long and a very useful day. Joe says 80% of the preparation is now complete! Hahaha, I wish that were entirely true!

Details from the trip are coming in a blog post soon, maybe tomorrow night. I have plenty to share, including photos and video of the process, and cool software stuff. My apologies if the public view link of my training log didn't work, I have fixed it.

The pic above is from today's metabolic test, and I will have more coming soon. Tomorrow morning I am up for a run, then a ride with Joe before I head back to San Diego.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Good weekend, now in Arizona

I am writing this blog post from Joe Friel's house. Made the 6 hour trek to Phoenix today, to do some testing tomorrow with Joe, and his local resources, as well as a bike fit by his guy here. We'll also do some video analysis of my run and swim. Should be good.

The day started off with good news, a lower RHR of 50, down 2 beats from last Monday, and 181.0 lbs, down over 2 lbs! Probably could have been better had I not drank so much beer and ate as much junk food on Friday night. Believe it or not, I didn't even do the ride on Saturday. Too much going on, weather sucked for riding, and I spent the good part of the day watching the Footlocker Cross Country Championships out at Balboa Park. It was great to see a kid from Indiana win it! I myself am a Hoosier, Lawrence Central High School, c/o 1994! Hard to believe the kid who won wasn't even in kindergarten then. Ouch! I am getting old!

Had a great run on Sunday afternoon though, and can see my body is starting to get back into the training mode. Good thing too!

This morning was a weights session at UCSD before heading out.

I will try to post some pictures tomorrow, and maybe even share some of my video footage, and other info we gather. Stay tuned!


Friday, December 7, 2007

Starting with Joe Friel, and wow my FTP sucks!

My apologies who think the following FTP is good, but believe me when I tell you this will get me annihilated in a pro men's race. Tested my FTP today with Allen and Coggan's method, and it was 253 watts. OUCH!

In other news, I promised to share all my training, and power files, etc. Well, here is my first step in doing that. Here is my public profile and viewing of all my workouts, for those who want to follow.

Bookmark it, so you can refer back easier. Or you can click it on the link to the right when you come back to the blog.

It seems easiest to do this, than put down every workout here. I will share the big power files here for people on occasion, as well, starting with today's test set. Wow, this is embarrassing though, and I honestly wanted to quit when it was starting to not go well. Glad I didn't, but I nearly vomited when I stopped. Ouch!

So here is the power file.

The workout is saved as a WKO+ file, (CyclingPeaks, so you will need to have that software to follow along.)

So Joe posted the first workouts for my training plan for Ironman Arizona, and you can see it in the TrainingPeaks profile. Here is what he wrote me in an email this morning, describing the general plan...

Here is the general, overall plan going forward. It may well change. I’ll need to set up your ATP to reflect this once I get things nailed down a little tighter…

Dec 10-23 Getting back into training again. Building endurance. Bumping up volume.
Dec 24-27 Back off to make sure we haven’t overextended.
Dec 28-Jan 20 Base 3 training. We’ll “front end load” the week of Dec 31-Jan 6 (don’t plan on too much NY Eve partying!). By this I mean the volume will be quite high. On the order of 5 hours per day. We may or may not do that for the entire week. We’ll see. The next 3-4 days following this high volume we’ll back way off and work on skills. Then the remainder of this period will be devoted to race-specific intensity.
Jan 21-25 Rest, active recovery.
Jan 26-Feb 17 Same as previous block only workouts will be a bit longer and the intensity portion will be more challenging.
Feb 18-22 Rest and recovery.
Feb 23-Mar 16 Front end loaded again. BIG DAY on March 16. This means we’ll do a mini-IM simulation (bfast, durations, intensity, equipment, nutrition) with 90 minute breaks between sessions.
Mar 17-21 R&R
Mar 22-Apr 6 Peaking/tapering
Apr 7-13 Race week.

So that's the plan. We shall see how it goes. I am already more excited than I started the week, and that is the best news of all. You definitely don't want to be struggling through all this without feeling


PS - Did anyone see Ironman Wisconsin on the Versus channel last weekend? Yeah, I looked like an overconfident ass. If ever I needed something to motivate me, there it was.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Week #1, day 1 & new steed!

Monday, so that means weight and RHR check:

RHR - 52 this morning, unchanged from last week.

Weight - 183.2 lbs, (-4.4 lbs from last week! 187.6) That's a biggest loser number!

Ok, before I go on, check out my new steed for road riding!

Look 555, with the new Ultegra SL

This past week was the first run with the new Garmin Forerunner 305, and able to start tracking my fitness gains, (or losses).

Saturday - My 10K bay loop, in 46:03, Avg HR 157, Max 176, Avg Pace 7:30
Sunday - easy bike ride, with Orlanda, working with some clients on bike skills
Monday - Back at it with the 10K bay loop, (truck issues kept me out of the masters session) 45:13, Avg HR 158, Max 170, Avg Pace 7:20 (nice improvement, at only 1 bpm more!)

That's all for now, very busy. Will keep you informed of more. Trying to figure out how to upload Garmin files on here for people to see how my training went. But trust me, so far I am FAR, FAR away from looking like an elite level athlete! Hahaha!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The first real day of training for 2008

Resting HR in the AM - 52

Weight in the AM - 187.6 lbs. (OUCH!)

30 min run around the bay, very slow, and very bad. Tomorrow I get the new Garmin 305 Forerunner in the mail, and should be using it over the weekend. Will be sharing the files soon, but please don't laugh when you see how slow, fat and out of shape I am when I begin posting it!

It's funny, but looking at my weight, this may be like following "The Biggest Triathlon Loser", online! If I get back to my Florida weight of 165 lbs, that will be losing over 12% of my body weight! Stay tuned!

Other news - spent a good part of the day at Zoot, looking at the 2009 shoe-line, with the improvements, giving my feedback and ideas, and helping choose the color schemes. Yes, 2009, because all that stuff has already been done and set for 2008!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Remember the Alamo!

Jim and Marcus, enjoying a few beers. (Ok, it was more than a few. Hey, it's still the off-season!)

Back from Texas, and I had a great time. Even though I went there as a coach, I learned many great things to help me as an athlete. I am excited to put many of these items into my own training. If you want a bit more detail about what I learned in Texas, check out my coaching blog.

One of the great things about the trip was the chance to catch-up and see my friend Marcus Luttrell. Marcus has been a bit busy ever since he wrote his book, Lone Survivor. I hadn't seen him or his brother in a number of months, so it was a great chance to catch-up. When I told some of the Seals out here that I was going there, they decided to come along too. They figured they just needed a good reason to go, and I gave it to them.

It was cool to meet Billy Shelton, the guy Marcus talks so much about in the book. He wanted one of my Heartrate Monitors shirts, and I felt honored to give him one. I was able to catch a photo too...

So now I am starting back at training, but light. Joe was in Texas as well, and we talked about the upcoming weeks and my training. I think I'll be back at it pretty good after the holiday weekend. Heading to Michigan with a red-eye flight tomorrow night, then back on Sunday. It's a lot of travel for me this month.

And don't worry, I plan on keeping my promise of sharing all the data I have on my training. I even plan on using a Garmin 305, in combination with the PowerTap, and tracking it all on WKO+ software, for everyone to follow with. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The first day back, sort of

Today was my first day back, well sort of. I was up this morning and headed over to Rehab United, to meet with Bryan Hill, for him to do an assessment on me.

Bryan went over everything with my body, from flexibility and range of motion, to strength in the upper body, core and legs. The whole process took about 90 mins, and we recognized some big areas for improvement, as well as tested my strength and range of motion, so we can compare in the coming months. (That I was really happy about!)

I was given some home exercise routines to do until we start the Monday after Thanksgiving. Should be good! I will keep you updated on it.

For now, I'm packing and getting ready to head to Texas. Hanging with Marcus tomorrow, and the rest of the Texas crew this weekend, after my camp.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Heading to Texas! Announcement...

I am back in San Diego, but have a lot to do before heading out to Texas A&M University, where I'll meet John Cobb, the aerodynamics guru, and Joe Friel will be speaking. For more info on that, check out my coaching blog.

I do have a new announcement, which probably shouldn't surprise many, but is cool. As you know, I am now coaching with Training Bible, and Joe Friel. For 2008, I will not only be a Training Bible Coach, I will also be a Training Bible athlete! Joe will be coaching me, and working with me to meet my goals. I'm excited! It will be a great opportunity to work with Joe, and learn from him. Not many people get an opportunity like this, and I feel truly blessed.

Another cool thing about the Texas trip is that I will be staying with my friend, and retired Navy Seal author, Marcus Luttrell. If you've been following my blog, you know that Marcus is the Seal who wrote, Lone Survivor, which is an awesome book! (I am actually a Democrat, and I loved the book, which is very Republican). I will be taking my camera, and hope to take some pics of the trip. I will stay with Marcus at the beginning and end of the trip, hanging with him and some of the other Texas boys.

This week I am supposed to start my prep phase, so I'll be doing some activity in Texas, but basic stuff.

Tomorrow morning I am up and headed to Rehab United, to do an assessment of my physical strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully that will go well, but we will see. I've been drinking a lot of beer, and doing very little activity...not good!

I may not write another blog post until I get back, but I will try. Until then, enjoy your off-season!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

USAT Level 2

Ok, so no posts means one thing, NO TRAINING! Still on my break from training, just doing some activity here or there. Most of my activity has been beer drinking though! Probably gained quite a bit of weight!

I'm currently in San Francisco for the USAT Level 2 clinic, and the days are SOOO LONG, I couldn't train if I wanted to.

Treasure Island Triathlon is here this weekend, but we will see if it's still on, after the big oil tanker hit the Bay Bridge this week.

Oh well...Back to the books. Prep phase starts next week!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Update from R&R

Well, I think I've probably put on a number of lbs, but that's ok with me. I've been drinking beer and sitting on my butt, getting a bunch of work done around the house, and with my coaching.

I don't plan on weighing myself until I am about to start back with my training, into the prep phase.

Actually, not working out has been probably a necessity and a great thing since we've had the fires here. Today, my wife and I went inland for breakfast a few miles, and the smell of smoke/burning was very strong!

In a few weeks I will post my annual training plan for the 2008 season. Stay tuned for that!

Otherwise, I hope everyone else is enjoying their downtime, or the final weeks or days of their season.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I've been alluding to some announcements for awhile, so now it's time to start with a few of them.

#1 - 2 new blogs started!

The problem with this blog has been I have had difficulty keeping it focused on my training and racing. There have been times I've wanted to use it for my coaching, and other times I've wanted to use it do discuss new products and technology, (my bikes, Zoot shoes, etc). It seemed to make the most sense to create blogs which deal with each individual goal I have.

So with that, the two new blogs are:

Tri Tech Review - ( This blog will be devoted to products and technology I get exposed to as an elite athlete. This blog will be updated about once every 2 weeks.

Coach Vance - ( This blog will be devoted to all my efforts and endeavors in coaching. This includes clinics, articles, links, thoughts, or anything else I find relevant. This blog will be updated about every week.

#2 - Riding Look for 2008

JP left a comment, asking about Kuota and what happened to me riding their bikes. The short end of it is that Kuota left B+L as their main retailer, and switched to Nytro and Hi-Tech Bikes. This had nothing to do with me, but was a business decision by their organization. This put me in a position which represented a conflict of interest, as I would be out promoting products which B+L's competitors sold, not B+L. Kuota gave me the green light to search out new sponsorship, and I did, landing a great opportunity with Look. I appreciated their willingness to be flexible given the situation.

Why do I remain so committed to B+L? Because they have been with me from the start of my triathlon career, and as an athlete seeking sponsorship, a great relationship with a retailer provides me a great tool for maximizing sponsorship for the companies, to be able to help translate their sponsorship into actual sales. It also provides me a great resource center of fitters, knowledgeable mechanics and bike techs, etc. Also, B+L provides me with a large amount of support, of which I could not compete at the level of do, helping to off-set a lot of costs for me, including helping me land the Look sponsorship.

I am EXTREMELY EXCITED about riding Look again! My first bike upon getting into the sport was a Look 486, and I loved that bike. The quality of their bikes is arguably second to none. I am now riding the 496, which you see in my Kona report, and I should be receiving another bike shortly. I will keep you updated.

#3 - Other sponsorships for next year

So what are the sponsorships I will have for next year? What's changing? Well, this year started with Mizuno, Zoot, Kuota, B+L, Suunto and Rudy Project. It would appear that next season will be:


Simple and basic. I have an offer on the table to extend my relationship with Rudy Project, but at this point I am not sure it will meet my needs, as it is a step backward in our relationship. At this point I am considering all options.

If you know of any company looking for an athlete like myself, please have them contact me!

#4 - Race Schedule for 2008

So what is the plan for 2008? I will be honest, as I was walking thru the lava fields on the Queen K, I contemplated retirement. I made the decision that I will never do another Ironman, unless I am at the top of my game and ready. Given this, and what I learned this year, my schedule will be:

April - Ironman Arizona
October - Ironman World Championships, Kona, Hawaii

There may be a few smaller races, local ones, but this is the focus for next year. I think it provides me enough time to adequately recover from my races and still have plenty of time to prepare for a great performance.

#5 - Improving the blog in 2008

Last announcement today, I promise. I think part of the cool aspects of an elite triathlete's blog, is that people want to see what times and speed I run and swim, and what wattages I put out on the bike. For the longest time, I've always worried about telling people that info, worried that my competitors would be reading it, thinking they could assess me as a competitor better. Now I've decided, I don't care.

This season, besides posting more often, I plan on putting a lot more info on this blog, such as power files, swim times and time trial results, run paces and possibly even gps files from my workouts, (we'll see if I get a gps sponsorship). I hope this will improve site traffic, give people plenty of cool information, and satisfy all your curiousities.

Those are all the announcements for now. I will be posting lessons learned from Kona soon.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

2007 Hawaii Race Report

Kona was tough. That about sums it up. I learned a lot of things, and will hopefully take those lessons into next year.

The morning started off fine, with being up early, and some light breakfast with coffee. We headed down to the race about 5 AM, and found some parking. I went thru the long lines of body markings, special needs bag drops, chip pinning, transition set-up and every other little thing that needs to be done before the race.

After finally getting everything set, I left transition to relax and do the final preps for the race start. Before heading to the start, ran into Laurent Jalabert, which was pretty cool.

Got into the water about 6:30 AM, and did some easy swimming with some accelerations. As they rounded us up for the start, they had a bunch of race referees on longboards going back and forth in front of us to keep us from creeping forward.

I ge0 a spot on the front line next to Linda Gallo and Joanna Zieger, who I knew would be swimming fast, so I was happy to sneak in behind them. Suddenly, the cannon goes off, and one of the referees is right in front of me, and I end up nearly crawling over him. Oh well, lost a second maybe, no big deal.

I swim quick from the start, and see all the cameramen underwater, as we push forward. Looking up, I can see Laird Hamilton is close, standing on his surf board, and there isn't much body checking in the water. The swim seems to be going just great! I realize I'm probably not going to make the first pack, but I expect to be in one the first two chase packs, and if there is a strong current on the way back, who knows what can happen?

I get out to near the turnaround boat, and the pack has started to string out a little bit, but I can still see Laird, and I'm impressed with how the race is going. As we begin to make the turnaround though, things get really crowded again, as everyone wants to be moving on the inside, near the boat. We shift positions and get where we need to be. We get around the boat and turn buoy, and I settle onto someone's feet again. I notice I am not able to see much of a crowd anymore, and I look up and see the pack has put about 5 body lengths between us. DAMN IT! I glance behind me, and realize there is just 3 of us in a pack, and no one behind us that I can see, a big gap. The guy on my feet sees this as well, and decides to make a big move for the pack. I get on his feet as he goes by, and the other guy on my feet. A minute later, we've dropped the guy on my feet, and a few minutes after that, I get dropped. Now I'm all alone! I decide I just need to stay relaxed and tempo in. If I can just stay steady and focus on relaxed, long strokes, things should go well. I was wearing a new Zoot, full length speed suit, that was a prototype, (had been approved a week before the race), and I don't think I did it the justice it deserved.

I end up coming out of the water alone, about 56 mins and change, (not what I had hoped, but oh well). I run into transition, and get my bag. I grab my sunglasses and they break as I pull them out. I wasn't surprised by this, as I had accidently run them over earlier in the week, with my bike. I had put an extra pair in the bag, just in case. I get so excited, I just reach into the bag and grab the glasses, and head out to the bike. I get almost to the bike when I realize I forgot my number. DAMN IT! I say outloud, "I forgot my number!" Only to hear the volunteers tell me, "You're #139! Your bike is over here!" Thanks, but that's not what I meant. I had to run back to the tent, and find the bag, as the tent is now getting a bit more crowded. I find it, grab the number, and realize I am now in the thick of the women's race, with Sam McGlone, Kate Major, etc, right there with me.

I get to the bike, get out on the road, and reach down to turn on the PowerTap. DAMN IT! Forgot to put it on in the morning. At this point, I'm just laughing outloud. My relaxed attitude has either become more relaxed, or it back fired to begin with. If I didn't feel like a rookie before, I do now. Sorry Tom, especially since I had you overnight the computer for me.

Out on the road, and I'm just trying to ride steady and keep under control. Things are going fairly well, but the women's race continues to be in front of me. I ride under control and the climb to Hawi is tough. It's getting warm, the sun is intense, and the wind is picking up.

Come the turnaround, I don't feel horrible, but I don't feel great at all. I start down the descent and it's definitely windy. I am holding onto the brake hoods, leaning down, and my arms are tired from the swim and holding on tight.

Come the turn back onto the Queen K, Mac comes by, and I tell him his in about 25th place for amateurs. He's having a great race!

I am ready to try and focus the rest of the way, but I'm hurting. The heat is taking it's toll on me, and I'm starting to feel bloated. The protein in my drink was not a good idea for this heat. I am vomiting around mile 85, and continue to go backwards. I see Jalabert go by me, riding the same bike as me!

I roll into T2 with a 5:30+ bike split. I see Orlanda and give her a smile, as I am trying to still enjoy the race, and I am determined to finish. I meet Selstad in the tent and he gives me the 411 on the race, and how everyone's doing. I get some sunscreen on and begin to head out.

I get out on the road and I am running very conservative. First few miles are all about 6:40's, and I'm starting to feel good again. I get to mile 10 and I see Orlanda, but now I'm starting to slow. I walk with her for a 1/4 mile and talk. From here, things only got worse. There were many bouts of walking, jogging, walking, walking, walking. It was bad. The lowest point came when I looked up and saw the mile marker, and was thinking, "Thank God, mile 17!" Only it was 16. DAMN IT! You know you're in some trouble when you can count.

I get into the energy lab and run up on Desiree Ficker. She and I get going together, and she has me stop and get some sunscreen, because my back is getting bad she says. I would later be very thankful.

I did have one shinny moment out there, seeing Mac move up to third amateur, and running down the other guys in front of him. I was really proud of him, because he always works as hard as I do, but for this race he worked much harder than I did. More importantly, he's probably one of the most passionate athletes I've ever seen. His dedication is 2nd to none. He doesn't suffer the lows I tend to have, and this despite getting hit by a car at the LA Triathlon last month. He and I are planning to do a lot of work on his swim this off season, and if I can get him down to coming out with the chase packs, LOOK OUT!

I make it back to town, and I am stumble down Palani. I get to Kuikini, and when I should be so excited to be done, I am back to a walk. I come down to Alii, and see the Zoot gang. I'm so happy to be done. I see Orlanda just before the chute, and she gives me a hug. She decides to go thru to the finish with me. I cross the line, and I am so thankful to be done.

Post race, I am sick as a dog. Vomiting, weak, chills, all sorts of issues. It was not good. I will spare the details of this part!

So that's it. I will make a separate post of all the different things I learned on this trip and for the race. I will also have a lot more to announce in the coming days, but I am happy that the season is over. It's been quite a year, and quite a learning experience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kona...I survived!

Well, I survived! Wow, that was a lot harder than I expected, and at times it was extremely ugly. 10:42, and my apologies to anyone who give an extremity or the like for a time like that. It's hard to imagine I was out there about 2 hours longer than normal!

I arrived back in San Diego last night, and will be posting a race report soon. In the meantime, here is an awesome photo of me from the event, on the Queen K, courtesy of Rich Cruse, one of the best photographers in the sport!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

4:30 AM in Kona

Well it's early. Up and having coffee, some breakfast, and doing the last things before heading out.

In a Murphy's Law kind of irony, we had an issue with the smoke alarm going nuts last night. I could not figure out why, but it kept going off, waking me up! I had to laugh, because of it course it happens last night. My condo is not very good, and this was the cherry on top. Orlanda told me I just became immune to it and slept thru it after a while. I unplugged the battery out of one of the alarms, but the other was wired into the ceiling, making it difficult. I was so groggy when it was happening initially, that I couldn't even tell which smoke alarm it was!

We'll be heading out shortly, but thanks for everyone who has called, emailed, posted here, etc. Should be a fun day!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Twas the night before Ironman Worlds...

So here we are, the evening before the race. Wow, it seems like it would never come. When I started this blog I wanted to give people a sense of the ride to get here. I think for the most part that has happened. I will admit though, I needed to be more consistent with the posts. I'll be working on that for next year. There are a lot of things for next year which will be better, I hope.

Let me tell you, over the past couple of days, things have really ramped up here. The underpants run started off my Thursday morning, followed by a bit of light working out and on the table with Dan again. Later it was off to the pro meeting, where I ironically ended up in a triangle of Michellie, Sam McGlone and Natasha. There was some conversation between many of the pro's, but it was still a bit tense of an atmosphere. They presented all the important info, and we dispersed. All in all, took about 45 mins.

The area of Dig Me Beach, the pier, Alii Drive, King Kam hotel, and even the water, is getting busier and becoming more of a staging area. There are scaffoldings going up, bleachers, lights, tents, carpets laid down, the finish line, etc. It's getting pretty crazy.

It really hit me when I went to check in the bike for the race today. I walk up, and there is a huge crowd assembled JUST TO WATCH PEOPLE AND THEIR BIKES CHECK-IN! We're talking a few hundred people or so. I'd never seen that before, so that was surprising. After getting past all the eyes scoping out the Look 496, I came to the first stop where they made me pull out my helmet and prove I have it.

After this was complete, I went to stop #2, where they did some checking of the bike, to make sure everything was secure and stable.

After this was stop #3, where Jay Prashun of Triathlete Magazine, (the gear guru), was there to get photos of the Look. As soon as I place it in front the back drop for the photo, a bunch of other media people come over and start taking a million photos.

The last stop was to actually get into the transition area, and there you were met with a personal guide. Their job was to take me to my spot, help me set everything up, then walk me thru the transition area, explain the routes, set-up for transition bags, etc. It was high security, but very attentive to details. You got the sense that this was more than just a race check-in, it was an event in itself!

Tomorrow morning, I will get into the water with 89 other pro men, and 42 pro women. It's the biggest pro field I've ever been in, which should make it interesting. I am feeling good in the water though, and think I will swim well. I predict coming out in the first, (or a close 2nd), chase pack.

The bike will be ridden rather conservatively, but how much so will depend on a lot of items, namely the weather, the swim, and how I'm feeling. The run will be a charge. No f-ing around. I guess we will see where that puts me in the overall. Honestly, I have no idea where I'll end up. Could be 20th, could be 120th.

So who is going to win tomorrow? My pick is Macca. Not because I like the guy, because I don't really. I don't really like Normann either, but I do like Faris. I think Macca has made the right maturation process, (as far as racing strategy here), and understands how to win this race now. Normann will not have 10 mins or more lead off the bike. I think Normann won't even be leading off the bike, as I believe it will be Sindballe.

I think there will be a surprise guy on the podium, possibly German Timo Bracht, if he can show the same form which won him Ironman Germany. My other surprise pick would be Eneko Llanos, and my heart is cheering for Tim DeBoom.

But be prepared for a Macca win. It won't be pretty, his attitude that is. 7 years ago he showed up here talking about being the best triathlete ever, winning this race 6 or 7 times. After a bunch of years struggling to even finish, he was quiet. Last year he broke thru and got 2nd, and it was back to the same old Macca, "I'm so awesome! I'll kick everyone's butt! I'm the greatest ever!" And this, after not even winning. I can't imagine how ugly it might get if he wins. But, I certainly don't wish him any ill will. He is extremely talented, and if he wins, I hope he does it with more class than Normann and he showed last year.

On the women's side, don't believe the Natasha hype. She's great, no doubt. But it's Michellie's race, the rest of the girls are just in it. Michellie comes out of the water about 3rd or 4th woman, but leads by mile 20 of the bike, and takes control. The other girls chase and close a little, but she wins by 5 mins plus. Sam McGlone will ride and run her way to a top 5 finish.

The most interesting aspect of the race won't be the race itself, but the weather. If the weather turns to cloudy, the intensity of the sun here is greatly diminished, helping the bigger athletes even more. Seriously, the sun makes a huge difference. This afternoon the sun was behind a huge cloud cover, and it was great race conditions, just in time for the run!

If it's windy on the Queen K, the bigger athletes will be advantaged as well.

Well, I may get up in the morning and give a last minute post. If any of you want to send me well-wishings here, or cheering for me during the race, feel free to leave a comment on the blog, as I will read them after the race.

I'm a little jealous of how many awesome parties I hear are going on with friends, plugging their computers into big screen tv's, stereo's, etc to watch the race live online. But I guess I probably get a better seat to the event than others. (For those of you who don't know, live coverage at starting at 12:30PM EDT/9:30 AM PDT. Pro's start at 45 mins past the hour.)

In case you want even more insight into the race, check out the race coverage of the guys on the bike, showing their power output, heartrate, etc.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Settling into race week

I am now starting to settle into race week. A bit less running around the island, more relaxing with Orlanda, getting in my "short but sweet" workouts, and getting on the ART table with the man, Dan Selstad. Dan has to be one of the most popular guys on the island, as his table rotates between myself and Orlanda with Michellie, Kate Major, Roch Frey, Greg Welch, and whoever else is big in the sport. (I have some funny pictures to post later about the shenanigans going on at Dan's table).

I actually tried to buy a new cord for the camera today, but Radio Shack was all out of the USB cord I needed. Sorry about that, but I promise to share all the cool photos when I get back!

So here's how it's been going so far...

Monday - After a morning swim, Orlanda and I had breakfast and then got things together for a trip up to the Energy Lab to see the run course. The run course does an out and back to the Energy Lab from Kailua, with about 3 miles of running in the Lab area. The good news about the lab is when you make the turnaround, you're headed for town to the finish! The bad news is, you're still about 8 or 9 miles away from it, and you have to run on the HOT AS HELL blacktop of the Queen K to get there!

It's pretty desolate in the lab, but it has a nice beach and it was surprisingly cool. That's been a common theme since getting here, the weather hasn't been that bad at all. I expected much worse. Of course, there is plenty of time for it to get hotter and it probably feels a lot different come hours 5, 6, 7 and 8.

From the lab, we headed north on the Queen K to Kawihae, (sp?). From there I got on the bike and rode up to Hawi and the turnaround. Unfortunately, I had some bike issues, as the front tire blew right away, and my CO2 valve exploded. Long story short, I made it to Hawi, but it was dicey, and the winds weren't horrible, but definitely gave me a little taste of how bad they could be.

Up near Hawi, the landscape really changes, almost to an African safari look, along the ocean. Everything is very dry and grassy, with some sporadic trees, unlike closer to the Kailua, where it's all lava rock in the landscape. And believe it or not, on the Queen K there are warning signs for "Donkey Crossings". I'm not making that up! Apparently there are wild donkeys roaming around the island, and come across the lava fields, onto the highway sometimes!

On the way back, Orlanda and I hit a beach at Hapuna, which was pretty cool. Probably the nicest beach I've seen on Kona.

It was chill night of Orlanda and I grilling steak and veggies on the grill at the condo.

Tuesday - Orlanda and I got up and enjoyed the morning, with me back on the table with Dan. She got in a jog in the sweltering morning heat, and then we went to breakfast at Pancho and Lefty's. This place has a sign up on the front that says, "Sorry, but we're OPEN".

After heading back home and hanging out, getting some things done, we headed out for a short afternoon snorkeling excursion with a company called Sea Quest. It was really awesome! There were only 4 of us, as another couple joined, and our guide Mary. Mary was very cool, and we got to chat quite a bit, learning about how she ended up here after graduating from Clemson.

She took us on the boat and went about 5 miles off shore to these fishing boats, telling us she had heard on the radios that there was a large pod of Spotted dolphins. We got to them and there were literally HUNDREDS OF DOLPHINS everywhere! Apparently these dolphins will starve themselves if put in captivity, so they are only seen in the wild. Amazingly smart animals. They were headed north, but just bobbing up and down, not doing anything crazy. Mary suddenly said, I hope they start jumping out of the water, because that's really cool!" Almost immediately, the dolphins changed directions to the south, and you just see HUNDREDS of these dolphins jumping out of the water and headed straight for us! Imagine a stampede of dolphins jumping over your head out of the water! It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. And of course, I was enamored with what was happening, I forgot to take any pictures of it! DAMN IT!

Later we checked out some cool areas for snorkeling, and saw a large Manta Ray. Mary showed us a bunch of cool stuff, and told Orlanda about the best bars she watches the race from and parties all day for the race. She used to drive the boats for the turnaround boat of the swim, and even drive a lot of the photographers and NBC film crews in boats for the swim. She says it was really cool, but more fun to watch than work the race.

The evening was nice with dinner with my boy Ryan and his family, at their condo. We then followed that up with a few beers at the K-Swiss party at the Hardrock Cafe, (yes, K-Swiss is entering triathlon), and then over to Huggo's with the Zoot crew.

Fun day!

Wednesday - TODAY!

This morning things definitely seem to be a lot busier at Dig Me beach! The pier is crowded with a bunch of crazed triathletes, (some of the Euro's even dropping their drawers to change in the open!), and a bunch of cruise ship tourists pulling in. It's a busy place for sure.

I found out this morning that the IronmanLive crew, Babbit, Huddle, Heather, etc, will be broadcasting from one of the upper decks at the King K hotel, right in front of the pier! The backdrop will be the actual swim venue and pier, so that should bring a cool element to the viewing. Check it out Saturday!

So today I went swimming and jogging with my boy Ryan again, then on the table with Dan. Afterwards, Orlanda and I went and got my front wheel from the bike shop, (Thanks Bike Works crew!), and ran some errands. Orlanda is pooped and sleeping on the couch as I write this, and I'm waiting on Mac to call me up to go ride for about 60-90 mins. It's definitely hotter today, so we'll see how things go on the ride.

I have to pick up my race packet, and find out the details of the Underpants Run. Orlanda had to go to Ross', so she could buy some underwear for it. She wasn't too keen about wearing a thong for the run....come to think of it, I wasn't too keen on her doing that either!



Sunday, October 7, 2007

Weekend in Kona

Here is how the weekend has gone so far...


Got up early in the morning and went swimming with my good friend Ryan Clive-Smith, who is here with his family on a vacation, which coincides well with the Ironman Worlds. His swim is actually pretty good, as with just a few pointers he was noticeable faster and really paid attention to what I told him. He also has a surfing background and things, but I was impressed.

Before we got into the water, we had a chat with Welchie, and Pete Coulson, (Michellie's husband and coach). Right when we got into the water, we chatted with Michellie, as she was finishing up. She looks thin folks. Thinner than I've ever seen her. She's ready for this race.

After that we went for a bite to eat, before I got on the bike for a 2.5 hour ride. Here's a bit of news for the regular readers of this blog, I have a new bike, a Look 496, and it is DAMN AWESOME! WOW! I love this bike, and on the Queen K, it shinned!

Sadly, I had some bike issues to attend to first at the local shop here, Bike Works, after some mishaps with putting the bike back together. I managed to strip one of the bolts on my stem, (and the threads in the stem), NOT GOOD! Luckily they helped me out, and fixed up some loose brake issues I had, since I didn't have the right tool to get the angle I needed to tighten them.

I headed out on the Queen K and saw a CRAP TON of triathletes! It was almost stupid. I saw a bunch of the big boys, so no point in name dropping. It's funny though, when riding down the K, everyone checks out everyone else, even if it's just a glance at the rider going the other way. I do it, but it's funny how some people take it to the extreme, and play the mind/ego games. One guy literally rode up to me, sat on my wheel as I am just riding along, pulled up next to me, as I nodded and said hello. He just stared at me. No nod, no gesture, no hello, nothing. JUST A STARE. And not a nice stare I might add. Then he put on his brakes and waited for the chick he was riding with. I had to laugh, what an idiot. I didn't recognize him, and even if I should have, I don't care. For this race, I'm the last guy he should be trying to play mind games with. Hell, I don't know if he was even a pro.

Orlanda even noticed how funny people are here, as she knows who the triathlete's are by what they are looking at when she walks by. She got a cool new pair of Zoot shoes, and everyone keeps staring at them!

Other than the foolishness around, the ride was great. The Queen K has an atrocious beauty to it, which is amazing. The road is very smooth where I went, and depending on the wind, the course can be FAST! I actually finished the ride back to the condo in the rain, which was pretty cool. I actually hope it rains and is aweful weather for a good portion of the race, make it more like an XTERRA! That would definitely add to the fun factor!

After the ride, I bagged the run, and just chilled out with Orlanda, waiting to watch the Huskers get killed on ESPN to Missouri. That was a crappy ending to a great day.


Orlanda and I got up early, while she went down and did the local 10K on Alii. Ryan met up with me for a 60 min run with some 1 min surges. All in all, a perfect start to the day.

Later Orlanda and I headed out back of the condo to the ocean, and found the biggest sea turtle I've EVER SEEN, in captivity or wild! It was just chilling between these two rocks, so Orlanda and I took our pictures with it. (Sorry I can't upload photos, my computer broke, so using Orlanda's, but it doesn't have a media card reader).

After grabbing a few things we needed, we headed south to K-Bay, and ate breakfast at the popular Aloha Angel Cafe. MAN THAT WAS GOOD FOOD! Great breakfast, and gecko's all over the place!

We continued on to Ho'Okena Beach, where the hippies love to hang out. I did a swim, where I had a near run-in with an eel. A little shocking at first, and creepy, but cool in retrospect.

We hung out at the beach for about an hour, then continued south to South Point, the southern most point in the entire US. When we got to the spot, I quickly saw how popular this place is for cliff jumping, and well diving. I got a photo of guy diving into this hole, and falling into the narrow pool of ocean water down below. SCARY TO WATCH, not even to think about doing!

From there we headed home, and enjoyed the beautiful drive back to town. What an amazing place.

Tomorrow morning I plan to swim, then head out to the Energy Lab for a jog. Later in the afternoon we will head north and drive the bike course to Hawi, where I'll hop out and do some riding on the course, check out the winds, etc. Orlanda and I also plan to stop and see some sights along the way.

Hopefully I can get my camera's plug mailed to me, but if not, I will definitely post all the pics after the trip.



Friday, October 5, 2007


I have arrived in Kona, and wow, it is quite a triathlete haven! Everything is Ironman, including the people.

I am coming here very relaxed, looking to enjoy the whole experience and learn everything I can for next year, so I am fully prepared to come and perform well. There won't be a more relaxed pro in the water next Saturday, as I have nothing to lose by being here, everything to gain, and just want to have fun.

I know I'm not going to finish in the top ten, and I know I'm not in great shape, so I'm going with the attitude of just coming to enjoy it, since I know I will only be disappointed if I try to rely on fitness which isn't really there. I've even been drinking beer, eating nachos, etc. Heck, I think I'm the only pro here who still has hairy legs! (Haven't decided if I'm going to shave them, but I think I probably will.)

This isn't to say I'm not going to try. In fact, since Wisconsin I've been swimming and running quite a bit, (not riding much, 3 times on the bike is all), and I'm actually swimming fairly well. My running is surprisingly better, as I set a new best for my 2 mile interval course at Ski Beach on Tuesday. I guess all the focus on turnover has started paying off. Also, did a 2 hour run last Sunday with Mac, my longest run since before Wisconsin, and I felt great the whole way. Who knows, maybe the rest is exactly what I needed? But I doubt the extra pounds are helping, hahaha.

So today I got here and ran 30 mins south down Alii Drive, and then went to the pier for a 20 min swim. It was great! I love the water and the setting, and feel I seem to have for the water. Maybe this will be a career best swim? Perhaps, because Zoot has a little surprise for me, which I can't give details of yet. (I also forgot the USB cord for my camera, so photos may be hard to upload before I get back.) But I will give more details on the Zoot swim surprise, and soon more on the Zoot shoes. (I know, I've been promising, but things have been crazy busy!)

Actually, the surprising thing for me today was that the heat wasn't that bad. I thought it would be much worse. Of course, it may get worse for race day, but currently the weather forecasts are consistent. I think it also different when you're out there hammering for hours, but honestly there were plenty of hotter days in San Diego over the summer, which I thought would be exactly like Kona. We will see if things get better or worse.

Looking forward to more of the going's on here, and will keep you all updated on the fun!


Monday, September 24, 2007


Well, I think it's time for an update.

Truth be told, I haven't really been training much. Especially when you consider Kona is now less than 3 weeks away, and I have not been on my bike since Wisconsin. I've been running and swimming, but even that has been limited. I needed the break. I also just got my bike back, as there were some issues with the shipping of it from Inside Out Sports, when I mailed it back from Madison.

I've been drinking beer, and went to the USC at Nebraska football game. It was fun until the middle of the 2nd quarter, when we started to get creamed. Otherwise, it was nice to show my wife where I went to college, and sit in my season ticket seats for the first time. I also got to see some college friends, and spend some quality time with them.

I have some plans for this blog, and some announcements to make soon, but will wait on them.

So what's up with Kona? Well, I am going, and I am going to complete the race. I need to see the course and learn it. I will be training this week and next week a bit seriously, with the idea of making sure I don't embarrass myself! I also want to just focus on my run, and race conservatively to have a decent run. I think if I race this way, I'll learn a lot and still have an enjoyable experience.

I need to be in the water to start this race, and really absorb the whole environment. I need to enjoy the race, the pre-race festivities, the scene, the course, etc, so that I know what it is I am working so hard for. I need to know what the prize is, and be comfortable for next year when I come back to Kona and aim for a great performance.

So that's the update for now. I know I promised a post on the Zoot shoes, and I will write about them soon, I promise!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DNF at Wisconsin

DNF. Not what I wanted, that’s for sure. (Although, I feel blessed to not have ended up like my boy Mac, getting hit by a car at LA Triathlon).

So what happened? Well, there is a simple answer, but there is a much deeper answer underneath it. This post is long, so I apologize in advance, but it is probably the most honest assessment I’ve ever given of myself.

The simple answer is I fought a lot of back tension issues. My low back was killing me come mile 80. I saw a steady, progressive decline in wattage, which was paralleled with the pain increasing in my low back. By mile 80, the race was over. I tried to just finish the bike without hurting myself further.

So the next obvious question is why did my back suddenly hurt? Well, that’s because I went and did some position tweaking, due to serious discomfort in my taint area on the saddle. I made a change to a more comfortable position, which actually improved my threshold wattage by nearly 10%! I was excited, but it became clear in the short weeks following that it changed the muscle groups I stressed on the bike, namely my hip flexors and psoas muscles.

So why make a change like that, coming up to a big race? Well, I began to really find the answers to my problems when I started digging deeper. Besides the comfort issue, which was significant, the real reasons were the following:

  1. Fitness
  2. Confidence
  3. Focus/Motivation/Desire/etc.

(Notice, 2 of the 3 are mental aspects.)


I was not as physically prepared and peaked for this race as I was for Florida or Coeur d’Alene. Not even close. I had 11 weeks from Coeur d’Alene to recover, return to training, peak and taper for Wisconsin. That may sound like plenty of time, but it does not allow for many errors or misfortunes, (like my infection and nagging injuries). Suddenly, I felt very rushed in my training, and was wishing I had a few more weeks to be ready.

My swim was not as strong, swimming about 1:25 pace on my longer intervals, for long course meters, instead of 1:18’s like I was for CDA. (It’s not surprising I was dropped from the chase pack early on the 2nd lap). My bike was fair, but it wasn’t any better than CDA or Florida. My run was not feeling up to the par due to the injuries. I felt the adjustment for the bike was a needed risk to take.


When you can see that you are not as fit as the past, and not up to the standards you have set for yourself, it is hard to be confident. One of the only real positive things besides my wattage improvement with the position change, was my weight. I was actually about the same weight as Florida, five pounds lighter than CDA. It was one of the few things keeping me positive and somewhat confident. A lack of confidence in my preparation, lead me to the bike adjustment and taking the risk.

So why did I toe the line? I committed to do it, so I was going to try. I also saw the start list, and truthfully, I was over-confident. I felt I could still contend with the fitness at a sub-standard level. I thought I could get a podium spot, and a 2008 Kona slot, despite all my shortcomings.

Amazing how I can be so under-confident in my fitness, yet over-confident toward my competition.


This part is where confidence and fitness meet. The morning of the race, my wife Orlanda asked me if I was excited to race. Honestly, I had to think about the answer. She told me tonight, when she talked with me before Florida, I told her, “I’m going to be in the hunt,” but when she talked with me on Sunday I told her, “Yeah, I’m just going to go out and be steady.”

She and I are going this weekend to see the USC at Nebraska football game, to watch my beloved Huskers and show her where I went to school, its traditions, facilities and community. I have been so excited about this trip, I realized after the race I was more excited about that than racing Wisconsin. Not a good sign.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed, I’m mentally tired. After everything I put into CDA, I needed more time off to really re-energize mentally, and prepare for the commitment which I see is truly required of me to perform at an elite level, and be competitive with the biggest names in the sport.

It’s hard to accept this fact for myself when I see athletes racing Ironmans, short-course, half’s, etc, all year long. Perhaps my physical talent isn’t at the same level of these guys, and I race more on emotion and mental toughness, which takes more out of me with each performance.

It’s been my first full year racing pro on the Ironman circuit, and the amount of training required really has taken a toll on me. This is one of the reasons I am amazed at some of the hours I see other Ironman athletes put in. I realized I was tired, and I think I wanted to do Wisconsin so my season could be over sooner than waiting for Kona.

This whole thing has not only taken a toll on me, but it honestly has been a stress on my wife too. She is amazingly supportive, but I know it’s hard for her, especially as the year goes on. It’s always about me, my training, my race schedule, my needs, etc. Ironman racing is a very selfish endeavor, and I know at times she has not been as happy as she could or should be. On Sunday, while riding on the course after sitting up and deciding the day was over, I realized I put her through all that for a race which I wasn’t even prepared for, mentally and physically. It wasn’t worth it. After dropping out of the race, I apologized to her for everything. I felt like I had taken her love for granted, and did not show a commitment which her support equated to. If I am going to put her through this, I need to make sure it something which is TRULY IMPORTANT to me. I must be entirely committed!

There came a point on the course when I was in a lot of pain with my low back, fighting and trying to stay in the hunt, and I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself. I was not having fun, despite the amazing race. That’s when I sat up.

So the simple answer is back issues affected my race, and I made the decision to stop. But the deeper answer is my result was decided well before the race started. I just didn’t see it.

I’m bummed, because Ironman Wisconsin was an amazing event. Madison is a great community, beautiful course and we had incredible weather on race day. The people who supported the event were amazing in number, and the volunteers so positive. Our homestay Denise was outstanding. I hope to someday return and do this race better.

So what now? I’m not fully sure. I’m taking a week off. I’ll be going to Kona, but it will not be to race, only to go thru the motions and experience the event. I earned the opportunity to start in the water, and I need to do it. I also need to learn about the event, so I can correct my mistakes and make sure I come back in a year ready to perform.

Funny though, I can't help but wonder if I made the right decision. I'm competitive, and wonder what might have happened. I'm sure I'll get some criticism for DNFing, but I accept it if it comes. I don't expect everyone to understand.

When Peter Reid was coaching me, he sent me this email in response to some questions I had for him...I find myself reviewing it a lot...

Most people think that Ironman is all about the physical training and race day nutrition. On a scale of importance this is what I think Ironman is about:
1. Mental focus
2. confidence
3. physical training
4. equipment
5. nutrition

I am going to keep bugging you on the above.


Some good things to think about...No wonder he kept bugging me, he knew.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday, Ironman Wisconsin weekend

Sorry for not checking in sooner, but things have been busy here, and I can't get a wireless connection.So far, the trip has not go according to plan, but things have settled down.

Tuesday morning I was up early, 4 AM, to catch my flight at 6:30. I land in Dallas for my 2 hour layover, and things are going well. Then my flight to Madison got cancelled, and my layover become just short of 10 hours. Ugh!

Finally got into Madison late, like midnight, only to have my bike not make it. OF COURSE! Luckily my clothes did, so I was able to run and swim on Wednesday. My bike arrived Wednesday afternoon, but I was pretty busy trying to catch-up and settle in, (groceries, training, massage, etc.), that I didn't have a chance to build it and get on it until today.

Things are going well now though, as I am feeling pretty good. I will be racing with a PowerTap on the bike, for the first time in a race. I will make the power file available on here as a download, for all you science geeks to enjoy!

Rich at sent me a Blackwell 100 for the rear, with a PowerTap SL. Should be fun!

If you're coming to the race, I look forward to seeing you out there with me. If you're coming to cheer, I hope you enjoy watching, as the weather is looking great.

I'm excited for my wife and support crewman, JT, to show up tomorrow evening. I'm a lot more at ease when they're around. They also help me with timechecks, and all the little things I never want to deal with!

Tomorrow morning I am at the press conference at 11, and the pro panel at 11:45. Come by and say hello!


Friday, August 31, 2007

The taper and the Zoot shoes

I love the taper! Once you convince yourself you're fit, and the taper is not only good, but a MANDATORY part of performing well, you can adjust things and cancel a workout, without worry, stress or guilt.

Last night I did the Aquathlon, 1K open water swim to a 3 mile beach run, at La Jolla Shores. A few few quicker guys showed up, including Fabio Carvahlo, who I beat at IMCDA, but is a great competitor. He had a fellow Brazilian named Paulo with him, who I recognized, but couldn't remember him. Even Normann Stadler showed up to watch and enjoy.

I ended up cruising on the feet of Juliano, the 3rd Brazilian, and letting Fabio and Paulo go off the front. I wanted to practice my Ironman skills and strategy, which is settle in on the swim, and be patient. I came out and nearly ran down the first two guys, running about 16:10 for the 3 miles on the beach.

Given how it was a good effort yesterday, and how hot it was today, I cut out my workouts after the swim this AM. I put in 2500 meters with about 800 of it pretty quick. I came home and took a nap, and decided to rest up and save the bike intervals for tomorrow morning. I don't want to get dehydrated and feeling like I'm digging myself in a hole. I learned that lesson from some of the past weekends of training in the heat. I think it will be the smartest maneuver, or at least the more conservative one, and when you're tapering, conservation is the key!

Speaking of heat, the weather in Madison is actually looking pretty good as of right now. Believe it or not, it will be nicer on race day, according to, than it is today in San Diego! is predicting 74 degrees for the high, with AM clouds and PM sun, and winds at about 8 mph from the S to SW. Humidity will max out at 73%. We'll see how much this forecast changes over the next 8 days.

Training otherwise has consisted of the following in my taper:

Saturday: Swami's ride, 4 hours total, with some surges and efforts, getting after it. (A bad crash in the group, luckily I avoided it!) 30 min run off the bike, with some accelerations and surges.

Sunday - 1:45, with a 4 mile local road race, for a tempo effort. I did 22:00 for the race, which was perfect, comfortable the whole way, and nearly perfectly paced! 5:31, 5:28, 5:32, 5:29.

Monday - A few tweaks on the bike position, testing it out, with some efforts on the bike at race intensity, sometimes a little over. 90 mins.

Tuesday - Swim in the AM, 3K total, with some quick efforts. 1 hour weight session, core focused with my trainer Swain, and then a 40 min run with 5x1 min accelerations.

Wednesday - NOTHING! Actually, I did have a massage, which was perfect!

Thursday - AM was an ART session with the guru, Dan Selstad. PM was the Aquathlon.

So that's the story on training and final preparations for the race. I'm sure there are plenty of you wanting to know about the shoes... I received 2 pairs to test out, which are below, and another pair for race day.

So here are some pictures of the shoes...I will have some write-ups on them shortly. I'll be covering everything about the shoes, with my thoughts and feelings on them. STAY TUNED!

This is the race pair.

These are the two test pairs.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Another sad event...

Just watched the news before heading to bed and saw a story about a teenager killed near my old condo in City Heights. Then I saw his photo...he was one of my students at Jackson elementary school in the 4th grade, back in 2003.

Sad...Amazing how some things never change, especially that neighborhood. He was a good kid though. Reminded me a lot of myself, as he was fiercely competitive, but had a heart of gold.

Will it ever change for the better in that area?

Just another reminder of the blessings I have in my life, and the great opportunities.


Friday, August 24, 2007

As fit as my last workout...?

The title seems to say it all. I'm tired from the last week of big training, my 3rd in a row, and I have to be careful not to let my training results be the main factor in determining how fit I think I am. If I do, then my race in Wisconsin will depend on the results of the last workout before the race. Of course, we all want positive results in our training, but sometimes the body is tired, and it must be respected.

Wednesday was my big 3x2 mile workout, and it went really well! Times have improved DRAMATICALLY over the last 3 weeks of doing it, and it definitely builds your confidence.

This morning was a swim workout which started off so badly, I about got out. But I was still making the intervals, so I stuck it out. Good thing too, because as the workout got harder, with less rest, I actually got faster! It's funny how my attitude went from doubting myself early in the workout to feeling pretty good about my fitness. Again, this is where I have to be careful. But this workout also shows one of the great things about Ironman training and especially racing. That is, the race is so long, you can come back strong in it!

Last weekend I got my body fat done by Kim, (, and I am almost a complete carbon copy of who I was right before Ironman Coeur d'Alene. That's good news. I am actually a couple pounds lighter, but I think it was mostly hydration.

This weekend is the final major training weekend, with the taper starting on Monday. Today is the swim, a big bike trainer workout, and a steady run, (in the new Zoot shoes! More on this in upcoming posts). Tomorrow will be a ride up to the Swami's ride, for the short loop and home, (about 4 hours total), with a 40 min steady paced transition run. Sunday will be a longer run, with the local 4 mile race here in the middle of it. I'll warm-up about 4 or 5 miles to the start line in La Jolla, then run the race back to Pacific Beach, adding on afterward to get the time I need in.

Later on Sunday will be a short trainer spin and another easy jog of about 30 mins. I'll also be watching Ironman Canada and Louisville online.

Looking forward to the taper, and then focusing on Ironman Wisconsin. Hope everyone's training is going well!

Vance - 2007 NFA

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ironman Wisconsin, Training Bible Coaching Announcement

It's official, I'm set for Ironman Wisconsin. I am now entered, have confirmed a homestay, and bought plane tickets for myself, Orlanda and my support crewman, JT. I'm in. Now I have 2 more weeks of good training, then shutting it down, with the hopes of competing well.

If you're doing Wisconsin, drop me an email, and be sure to say hello when I get out there! If you haven't seen the course, check out, as the guy has some AMAZING video footage of the ENTIRE COURSE! SWIM, BIKE AND RUN! I couldn't believe it, but it's for real.

All signs seem to show my fitness is coming around, hopefully timed perfectly! I did have a small Achilles issue this past weekend, and had to cut my long run yesterday. Started out, and hoped it would loosen up. It did, but not enough, soon enough. So I turned around after 15 mins, and cut it before 30 minutes. Later in the day it was a little tighter than I wanted, so cutting the run was the smart choice. Best to take off a day or two, and nurse it back to 100%, than miss a whole bunch of key workouts for a week. You can't fake the run in an Ironman!

I am pleased with how it's healing, and I see the ART guru Dan Selstad in the morning, so it should be good to go by Wednesday, when I do a big run workout.

Since I couldn't get in a long run, and Saturday was a long ride with 40 min t-run, I decided to do a LONG swim in the open water, sans wetsuit. I swam the Gatorman course with some folks here, and enjoyed it. I had a current which kind of acted as a tail current on the way out, but was a BITCH on the way back. I cruised out easy from La Jolla Cove to the Scripps Pier, in 38 mins. I picked it up on the way back, at times moving pretty well, only to struggle with the current and chop, finishing in 1:15, just 1 minute faster. Had some nice chaffing from my SpeedZoot, since I forgot to lube up...OUCH! One thing you learn quickly about swimming long in the open water, "Objects are farther than they appear!"

So now for some announcements...

As I said in my last blog entry, I'm speaking at the Tri Club of San Diego meeting this Thursday evening. Come check it out if you can. I'm looking forward to it...

The biggest announcement I have is one I've been working on for awhile, but haven't been sure when to announce it. I think the time has come...Starting September 1, I will be running Joe Friel's Training Bible Coaching for all of Southern California and Baja California! It is an exciting opportunity, and is something which will only make me a much better coach, with more knowledge, better resources and a bigger arena to showcase it. Already, Joe has taught me so much, and I look forward to learning more than I knew possible.

Joe came out to San Diego a few weeks ago in July, and we discussed a lot of things, working out the details, making sure we were both a good fit for each other. The Training Bible brand is one of the most recognized and respected in all of endurance sports. It is great to be associated with this company, and leading it's growth in Southern California!

You can find out more at More details to follow in the coming weeks/months.

Hope your training and racing is going well!

Vance - 2007 NFA

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Catching up, with some announcements

It's been hard to write a blog entry, because sometimes I just want to chronicle everything, and then I realize there would be so much to write about, I'd be wasting some training and recovery time!

So to catch-up, I got on the anti-biotics, and let me tell you, they can dehydrate you! I struggled on the Swami's ride last weekend, felt like I was battling cramps from the get-go. Not good when you're putting in about 120 miles! And to make matters worse, a few big-wigs showed up on the ride, and pushed it, (Ned Overend, Neil Shirley, etc). I actually realized I would have to either hammer, or get dropped. Since I was just coming back, I chose to get dropped. GOOD THING, because a few hours later, I was battling cramps and struggling.

Sunday wasn't much better, as I hoped for a 90 min to 2 hour long run. Got about 5 miles out and turned around with the boys I was with, clearly struggling.

Monday - rest day. THANK GOD!

Tuesday - AM swim, not bad actually. Noon weight session, which went well. PM run session, not so great. 90 mins with some 2 mile repeats on my course at Vacation Island. I was doing these much better before CDA, but I'm still just getting back into things. I am pretty sure things will get better.

Wednesday - Swam, and did pretty well in the morning. Couldn't believe how going slow felt crappy, and going fast didn't feel any different, just a mental shift of gears. After the swim, was on the bike for just short of 5 hours with Mac. Did a lot of climbing, and body is beat-up, especially my legs.

I think things are still right on schedule. I am definitely not where I need to be for Wisconsin, but with the next few weeks, I think I am going to see some quick, and LARGE gains. A good base from earlier this year should start paying the dividends soon. (I HOPE!)

Today is a down day. Meeting my trainer for a core-workout session, and had some ART this morning. Tomorrow is a bigger day, leading off a big weekend. Wish me luck on that!

In other news and announcements...

If you didn't see it at Inside Triathlon's website, I interviewed Mac, on his great season so far, and his plans, goals, etc, for the rest of the year and beyond. Check it out if you haven't...

A new announcement, I am speaking at the Tri Club of San Diego Club Meeting on Thursday, August 16th, at Road Runner Sports, at 6:00 PM. Should be a great gig, as the club always has a BIG turnout for these meetings, (1800+ members helps to get good attendance). I am a last minute switch, as they had planned to have me do it in November, but with a cancellation, they asked me if I could do it sooner, so I said sure.

It's a pretty cool opportunity to me personally, because I remember going to these meetings to hear some great speakers, pro's, etc, and hoping to be as successful as them in the sport one day. People like Michellie Jones, Greg Welch, Peter Reid, Chris McCormack, and a slew of others. A cool twist of fate, as I am a product of the Tri Club of San Diego. If you're thinking about coming, come on out, I'd love to share my story with you all, and help answer any questions about training, racing, etc.

Another big announcement will come soon. Hopefully 2 announcements!

Vance - 2007 NFA

Friday, August 3, 2007

Positive/Negatives, and more positives

Things have been a little hectic, with a roller coaster of positive and negatives. In the end though, there are more positives than negatives, and I am back to being excited about things.

Negative/Positive #1 - Got sick. I was a bit worried about it, as it kept getting worse. Yesterday morning I decided to go see the doctor though, and finally face the music, and see if I could actually get in the last block of training necessary to do Ironman Wisconsin.

Of course, being sick sucks. The good news, no strept throat, just a sinus infection, and the doc has me on a 5-day antibiotic, and gave me the go-ahead to train. He works with a lot of athletes, and knows his stuff. We also discussed my bee sting issues, and how my reactions seem to be getting worse each time. He said this was common and prescribed the Epi-pen, which a shot of adrenalin you give yourself if you get stung, to prevent a serious allergic reaction. We also discussed the issues of this being an illegal, performance-enhancing drug, and how I could fail a drug test if I have to give myself a shot in the race. He explained how he has worked with WADA already on this, and in the case of emergency, it is legal, without consequence. He'll also help me to get a TUE, (therapuetic use exemption). That was a relief. So you can expect to see an Epi-pen attached to my bike from now on.

Negative/Positive #2 - My grandmother died yesterday morning. I got a text message from my dad, letting me know. My dad isn't really a phone guy, and I knew it was a tough thing for him to write, as he had to come to grips with the loss of his mother. My brother and I are now his only family. Her death was a long time coming, and I have been amazed how long she lasted. Her condition really deteriorated over the past few years, and became something our family just didn't even talk about, because it made us all depressed. I didn't tell my wife until she got home from work, and it was really hard to tell her. The words actually struggled to come out of my mouth. I tried to act like it didn't bother me all day, and I honestly was believing it, until that moment.

The positive part is our family can now breathe a sigh of relief, and know she is finally at peace. It was so hard for awhile.

Negative/Positive #3 - This morning I got back to training, trying to find some sense of normalcy, and return to routine. I was a bit nervous this morning when I headed to the pool, wondering how my body would respond to 4 days with only a single 3K swim workout, and battling sickness. I figured I would be about 176 lbs, and I wasn't looking forward to stepping on the scale to see it. I've been drinking a ton water, to battle the sickness, and had a good breakfast, so I tried to prepare myself with, "Don't worry Jim, it'll be mostly water weight."

To my amazement, 171 lbs! I couldn't believe it! I was suddenly a bit excited, but wondered if I would be pretty weak in the water. 3600 meters later, I stepped out of the pool surprised, confident and eager to toe the line at Wisconsin! Couldn't believe how well I was swimming.

Peter told me back in the early part of the year, when I got a little sick, that Mark Allen was always excited when he got sick, because he knew his body would come back so much stronger. Maybe that wasn't entirely a load of sh*t he was handing me???

Another positive, with no negatives....

I received a great email from a client I coached this year, who made tremendous gains. I knew he improved, but when he sent me this in email, it really put it into perspective..

"Thanks for the kind words, I know I am MUCH better than when I first started with you, and raced safely all season thanks to your guidance…and that isn’t something that shows up in statistics. No injuries, no overtraining, and steady improvement all year. I’ve lost 16 pounds, 2 inches off my waist, and down to 19% body fat from 24%...

Last year I did the La Jolla Half Marathon in 2:16 (my first ever), this year was 1:57; last year’s Solana Beach tri was 1:11, this year was 1:00. Ran my fastest ever 5k at the Encinitas sprint tri at a pace of 7:24. Was 5th at the Baja 70.3 (actually was 3rd but they got it wrong), 4th at Encinitas, 10th at SDIT, 9th at Carlsbad sprint tri, 31st at Vineman. Since July last year, I’ve raced successfully 14 times including 4 – ½ marathons, 1 marathon, 3 – 70.3’s, and 6 sprint/intl’s.

You motivated me, guided me, showed me a ton of stuff and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Feel free to use me as a reference for potential coaching clients (as if you need one) anytime."

That's why I coach, for emails like that.

Vance - 2007 NFA

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Well, after a big weekend of training, my body has responded unfavorably. I took Monday off and Tuesday was 3K in the pool in the AM. I came home and got a bunch of work done, went to take a nap before doing my 90 min run workout, only to wake-up with a sore throat. No run.

Wanted to ride long with my boy Mac today, but had to cut that out too. Luckily this morning the throat wasn't any worse, actually a little bit better. Hoping I can recover enough to get back in the pool tomorrow morning, and a big run workout in the PM. The days are counting down now until Madison, so hopefully this get resolved soon.

Speaking of sick, there is something which has been bothering me and I have really debated putting on this blog, but I think the time has come for me to make a statement. It deals with cheating in local races, such as drafting on the bike, course cutting, racking in illegal places, etc.

I had not done any local races this year until this past weekend, and it's amazing how much cheating is going on, without any care or concern for fair play. In fact, the days before the race, some local athletes told me exactly what to expect to see, and who would certainly be involved in the cheating. It was amazing how what they said happened like a pre-written script. These athletes know there are no officials out on the course, and therefore feel the rules don't apply. It's rather funny how much of a reputation they now have as cheaters.

I am not going to name the individuals, as that isn't important. They know who they are, and know exactly what I'm talking about. I didn't make a big deal about it at the event, because it's a local race, with no prize money. However, if there was money on the line, I most certainly would have spoken up.

It's sad really, because as an elite, I believe I help to set the standards of behavior in the sport. All elites do, and have a responsibility to be leaders in the sport. I am also a coach, and if I cheat, what does that tell my clients? How much integrity do I have then? If I had a client who was cheating, I certainly would have a problem with that, and I would expect the same response from my clients if I was cheating.

Some people may say, "Jim, it's just a local race, what's the big deal?" They're right, it's a local race and no big deal, which is why I didn't protest it at the event. But I would also respond with, if it's just a local race and no big deal, why not just play by the rules? What happens when it's not just a local race, and there is money on the line? If the precedent of cheating has already been allowed passively, by not confronting it, why would anyone suddenly expect the rules to apply? Trust me, when there's money on the line, the same behaviors are happening, I see it first hand.

It's really amazing how some people will cheat right in front of your face, and think you're cool with it. I am often asked if I think there is doping in triathlon, and I simply reply with, "People cheat in front of my face all the time in this sport, so why is it crazy to think they'll cheat when I'm not looking?" I'm not accusing any local athletes of doping, but rather using their behavior to draw a tangent. These are local races with no money, so what would you expect on a more global scale when there is money on the line?

Sorry for sounding high and mighty, but if playing by the rules is being high and mighty, then maybe I shouldn't apologize.

Train safe, and race fairly.

Vance - 2007 NFA