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