Monday, December 29, 2008

The best sports story of 2008!

First off, thank you to all of you who emailed me with well-wishes and things, after my decision to step away from racing this next year. I appreciate the thoughts and kind words, and hope to see the fire return sometime soon.

On to the topic of this post...In my opinion, this is the greatest story of 2008 in sports. I am biased because of my teaching background, and coaching kids, but I still think it's clear. Enjoy, and be sure to watch both parts. It always brings a tear to my eye. Why? Because it always reminds me of how much I love my wife, Orlanda. It makes me think of the impression and lasting affect I have on the world, when my time comes. Hopefully, if I go she'll know how much she meant to me, like this video shows he meant to her...

Part 2...


Monday, December 22, 2008


So I've been talking about it on here briefly, and writing some about the dilemmas I am facing with regard to my athletic career. So what's going on?

I watched the Ironman World Championships on NBC a few weeks ago, and I thought I might get a sense of where I'm at when I watched that. I enjoyed the broadcast, but honestly, it didn't make me feel all excited to get out on my bike, to go run, or even enjoy a swim. I really just didn't feel like I wanted to go out and train. I wanted to race, that's for sure! But to be truly wanting to race well, you have to want to train, and train well, on a daily basis.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how I felt I was tired of getting 7th-8th. I feel like I have reaped the rewards of that in the past, and to continue to work at the same level and have the same results would be disappointing, and unfulfilling. I knew that it was either time to step-up my commitment, or step back. Stepping back is much easier to figure out, but stepping up is more challenging. To step up you must figure out where you are weak, and look to challenge those weaknesses. One weakness was that training mostly alone was allowing me to be soft, and I needed to find a group where opportunities would be better. I looked for opportunities to find a group to work with on a semi-frequent basis, and tried to determine if this was really possible given my commitments and other responsibilities.

In the end, it's just been very hard. I don't feel I have the mental desire and willingness to sacrifice like I have in the past. It is because of this I am stepping away from racing. This is not to say I am "retiring", because that's not the case. I am simply saying that at this point I don't feel the desire to train day in, day out, and go for the goals I have normally had regularly. How long will this last? Who knows? It could be a few weeks, few months, or even a few years. I'm not worried about that part right now.

I do not feel a lack of desire in my life in general, quite the contrary. In fact, I feel strong and have more desire in many other aspects of my life. Honestly, since stopping training, I've seen my relationship with my wife elevate to an even higher level, and I feel much happier about that. It's been something which has probably affected my motivation level for another season, given that our relationship has improved so much. (For those of you wondering, it will be our 2 year anniversary soon, and I got her an AWESOME gift for the ocassion. I will reveal that in another post, but trust me, it's good!)

I have also seen my opportunities for writing and coaching increase which I am really excited about. If you've followed my coaching blog, you've noticed how much I've been writing and the things I've been doing. You've probably also seen the new training plans I've launched, which incorporate iPod videos. I came to realize recently that if I spent much of my training time doing my coaching and writing, I probably would have made a lot more money. In this economy, prize money is staying the same, so it is basically going down. Meanwhile, travel expenses continue to go up. Sponsorships are more cut-throat and dwindling. In terms of economics, racing professionally is a poor business decision for my family and me at this time.

I don't know when the desire to train and get back to racing will return, but I'm not worried about it. At this point, I'm hoping to focus on being more of a coach and author, and taking advantage of the current home prices and securing my family's future.

I will still keep this blog updated, but my main focus will be my coaching blog. Check it out, and let me know your thoughts as the year goes on.

Once I get the desire again to put in the daily grind to be the best athlete I can be, I'll be sure to post it here. In the meantime, I'll be focusing that energy in areas with a better return on my time and investment.

I'm excited in my life, just not about training and racing anymore. Stay tuned for more...


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coming soon...

A lot of thoughts....My season, XTERRA, and much more. Tomorrow, (Tuesday), expect a post.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Ironman Worlds

Yes, I watched it. What did I think? I will share those thoughts soon.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


While researching a topic for my coaching blog, I came across a training guide for a company, which uses a quote of mine, citing me. It's the first time I've found myself quoted, and when I read it I was actually asking myself, "Wow, when did I say that?" I was pretty impressed with the quote, and it took me awhile to find out where it came from.

The quote was placed in a marathon row training guide for an indoor rower company in the UK, called Concept2 Rowing Machines. They place it at the top of the section in the guide called, "Mental Preparation for a Marathon Row." The quote was taken from three years ago, in USAT's magazine, Triathlon Life, when I was asked, "What motivates you?"

“I’m motivated by the internal desire to test my limitations in the world. To truly find out what I’m capable of I must know my limitations. It never ceases to surprise me that my limitations are well beyond what I thought.”
Elite triathlete - Jim Vance

I'm impressed how the quote transcends our sport, and can be a motivational line for life. Sometimes, I still surprise myself.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Training? What's that? Not something I've been doing lately. I've gotten out the door a few times, but not enough to call it training. Just not feeling the desire to get out the door and put in the miles.

I think I've had more beers than miles lately, but I'm enjoying focusing on coaching and other opportunities. What is in store for me? Not sure yet. I could see me doing a number of different things, from a few races, many races, not racing, training and not training in 2009.

Why? I think the main reason is that I looked at the past year, and put so much effort into training and racing, and I really don't have much to show for it. I also looked at the results of Arizona, and figured if I had been healthy enough to race at my fitness, I think I would have been about 7th, give or take a few places. Probably just as easily could have been 20th though.

I am well aware many people would die for the opportunity to be anywhere near the top 10 in a pro field, especially one the caliber of this past Ironman Arizona. But I've reached a point where I feel I'm plateauing. I've been 7th-8th in a few Ironmans, and I just feel like I've "been there, done that." At this point, continuing to put forth the same effort and commitment for the same result does not sound appealing. It especially does not sound appealing if I can put my energy toward other things which are much more profitable for my family, such as my coaching and writting endeavors.

So I am at a point where it is time to step up, or step back. What will I decide? I don't have an answer for that yet, but it's clear I need to do something different, which is a definitive step in one of those directions.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the downtime and see how I feel about things, what opportunities present themselves, and what I decide.

Thanks for checking in...


Monday, December 8, 2008

Car for Sale - Honda Accord

I'm selling an extra car we have, as Orlanda and I are downsizing, looking to buy a home soon.

This Honda Accord EX is in great condition and gets excellent gas mileage.

Power Windows
Moon Roof
Power Door Locks
Alloy Wheels
V-6 engine
Front Side Air Bags
ABS (4-Wheel)
Air Conditioning
Tilt Wheel
AM/FM Stereo
Multi Compact Disc
Power Steering
Cruise Control
Dual Front Air Bags
89000 miles

Car has been kept in garage to keep in good condition, and is priced to sell! Blue Book has it at $9400, but $9000 gets it, Please email Jim at jim at jimvanceracing dot com for more info.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great Marcus Video...

If you've followed this blog, you know about my good friendships with many of the Navy Seals. Marcus Luttrell has been an especially generous and good guy to me, and I love him as a brother.

Here's a video of typical Marcus....It's why I love him, (even if he is a staunch Republican! hahaha).


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


2 things to remember.......

I forget.


Monday, December 1, 2008

New Training Plans with Video

Last post I spoke about the new training plans for Oceanside 70.3 and SuperFrog Half Ironman. The other big project I've been working on is a new style of plan, which focuses on improving skills, more so than fitness. The skill I've chosen to focus on is swimming, in which I give 20 different drills and skills for building coordination and feel in the water. The plan includes underwater video with each skill and drill, to help demonstrate the drills effectively and eliminate confusion. (If you've ever tried to explain sculling to someone, then you understand what I'm talking about.) Here's the kicker though...

That's right, the videos are iPod compatible! This allows you to take the videos with you to the pool and review the skills and drills on site. Trying to memorize drills can be difficult, and just reading how to do them can be difficult to visualize.

If you're a coach who stands on deck at a pool, this is a great tool to demonstrate drills without getting in the water yourself. I am selling these plans to both athletes to help them, and to coaches, who could use the videos with clients they have.

If you're a person who swims solo, this plan is for you!

You can get the plans at:

Look for more soon, and in the meantime, check out my coaching blog.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Training Plans

With my recovery downtime, I've been able to finish up a few projects I've been working on, which includes two half-ironman training plans for triathletes in the San Diego area. The plans are specific to the Oceanside 70.3 and the SuperFrog half-ironman. I have created these plans from scratch, and included much of the Tri Club of San Diego events in the plan, for those who like to participate in those events. For those not in San Diego, or those who don't want to do the club events, the plans also have alternative workouts on those dates. The plan are price very affordably, and will work great for any athlete who is consistent with the plan.

Check it out for more info on my coaching blog:

I've run once since the race, and riding easy with some friends tomorrow. Not too sure about what is next and when I be back to training yet. Just enjoying watching a bunch of college football and getting a bunch of things done which have been hanging over my head for awhile.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another long day...

Yes, today was another long day dealing with the illness. This time though, it was at the hospital. I am feeling better, finally able to eat a meal today, but Orlanda had another long night of vomiting. When we got up this morning we headed to urgent care at the hospital. They gave her a couple of IV's and some drugs to help ease her stomach. The doctors ran a few tests and we found out it was a virus which we caught. This was good to finally know, as I just couldn't believe how bad things went, and trying to figure out how it happened was really bothering me.

Thanks again to many of you for your emails, calls, texts, etc. Some of you have encouraged me to find a marathon to race, or go to Ironman Western Australia, etc. As much as that sounds like a good idea, there are a few problems...

1. Flying to Western Australia is NOT cheap. I can't afford that. Sponsors aren't helping me like that. In fact, no sponsor gives me a single penny, unless I do well.

2. I am still reeling physically from this illness, and can't just show up to race a marathon and expect it to go well in the next week or so. The same can be said for switching to Ironman Western Australia.

3. As much I understand the illness was not my fault and just bad luck, it doesn't extinguish the disappointment of months of hard work to perform at this race that are wasted. To do another race like a marathon, however intriguing, is rather anti-climatic. I think you have to be clearly focused on the start-line to perform near your potential. My focus has not been there, and it's tough to turn your focus that quickly. I've seen it a lot in the past, where guys drop out of Kona and try to salvage months of hard work with a different Ironman a few weeks later. Most times it doesn't work out well for them.

I think the best use of my efforts would be to do an early season Ironman, but that means Australia or New Zeland, and again, those are not cheap trips. Honestly, I can't afford those trips. The other choice is Ironman Coeur d'Alene again, but that's nearly 8 months away, and I don't know if I want to do that. There is a lot to still decide, and I need to think it thru, not just making decisions entirely on emotion.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Still feeling it...

Last night was a long night of being up about every hour, on the toilet. I lost over 7 lbs since I went to bed, to when I woke up. On the drive home today, my appetite didn't exist.

Crazy...But at least it's somewhat reassuring that it wasn't me just being a headcase, I really am sick.

Hopefully after a few days off, I'll feel better.



Not exactly what I spent many months working so hard for. It's clear the virus or food-born illness which I and Orlanda both got on Friday night, had more of an effect on me than I realized. My stomach was so upset and sensitive on Saturday, I couldn't hardly eat anything all day. The day before an Ironman is not a time to be fasting.

It literally got so bad, I decided to try and force myself to throw up, with no luck. I did the best I could to hydrate and sleep and on Saturday, as I felt so weak. I should feel lucky I wasn't as sick as Orlanda was, who was clearly not doing well after a night of little to no sleep and violent vomiting.

On Sunday morning, I felt a lot better, and figured I would give the race a go, and see what happened. I was hoping maybe I ate enough on Friday to make up for a major lack of calories on Saturday.

The swim went fine, as I just hung in the chase pack and cruised, really trying to make an effort to conserve energy, not even trying to go with a faster pack. Came out of the water in 52:29, a new PR. Pretty pleased when I saw that, and figured the race would maybe go better than I expected.

First lap of the bike and I'm riding fairly well, averaging 280+ watts and things are looking good. Second lap, about 1/4 of the way thru it, I suddenly really struggled to hold 250 watts. By the time I got to the turnaround, holding 200 watts was a struggle. It was clear then, my day was over. If I was too weak to hold 200 watts half-way, I clearly was going to put myself in danger if I tried to continue. After the second lap of the bike, I stopped at the penalty tent and dropped out. (No, I did not receive a penalty.)

What's next? Not sure. It's hard to think about the future when all your hard work for months ends up like this.

Thank you to everyone who sent me good-luck emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. I really appreciated it, and wish it could have gone better.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Long night...

Well, this wasn't how I had planned things to go, that's for sure. Last night after dinner with Joe Friel and some others, Orlanda and I headed home and went to bed. About 11 in the evening, Orlanda was running to the bathroom, vomiting pretty violently. It actually woke me up.

Then the rest of the night I spent tossing and turning, stomach issues myself. I woke up about every 20 mins, then every hour. By the time the morning came, I felt hung-over.

How much this will affect me, who knows? I still have about 24 hours to get back on track, so taking it very easy today.

We will see how it goes.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo Collection Sharing #3 - Video

Sometimes, I watch this video just to remind me of the joy of hard work paying off. (After the first minute, at 2:54 into the video is the interview with Welchie.) I think it's obvious why I like this one...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Race week movitation...

I think I found some great motivational tools for this weekend's race. It's been a long year, and these last few weeks it can be tough, when the body starts struggling with the taper, and you start questioning yourself. These are great for reminding me the fun of raceday! I thought others might enjoy these as well. For those of you in the winter months of cold climates, these could make great trainer entertainment!

2005 Ironman coverage:

2006 Ironman coverage:

2007 Ironman coverage:

2008 Ironman coverage:



Thursday, November 13, 2008


"When they kick down your front door, how you gonna come? With your hands on your head, or on the trigger of your gun?"
-- The Clash, "Guns of Brixton"

That verse and song represent the attitude I must have at IMAZ. The field is so tough, you're either going to surrender to them, or show them what you've got.

Numbers are up, and I'm #19. Middle of the pack number, for a guy who has middle of the pack expectations placed on him.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IMAZ Start List

Ironman Arizona is becoming the deepest field I've ever faced. (Kona was probably deeper, but I didn't really train for it or try to race.)

The funny thing is, the money isn't all that great at all. The reason so many guys are doing this is so they don't have to worry about trying to qualify for Kona again next year, (I'm assuming.)

Here is a sample of guys on the start list who have won an Ironman race in the past, with their name and the Ironman event I know they've won:

Jasper Blake - Canada
Chris Lieto - Japan, Placid
Bryan Rhodes - Canada, UK
Kieran Doe - Canada
Joszef Major - Arizona
Chris McDonald - Wisconsin
Jan Raphael - Florida
Francisco Pontano - Placid

There are bunch of other guys on the list who I respect a lot, who haven't won one yet, but are poised to do well. They include guys who have podiumed at Ironman events before, and guys who haven't done an Ironman, but have had a lot of success at the 70.3 distance.

At this point, the field is so tough, no one can predict what will happen, and who will win. I am actually more relieved that the field is this tough, as it forces me to just focus on myself.

12 days to go, and things are going well. My swimming is coming back, as I've been focusing more on it. I had a small arch strain in my right foot, brought on from a bad blister on my heel I got at Tahoe, which still hasn't healed. (Trust me it's nasty!) It's limited me for my last few runs, but it seems to be back to 100% now. One thing I am hoping is that the rest is exactly what I needed, and will force me to hold back during the taper. I think many of the guys are looking at the start list and thinking they need to get in those last hard workouts to make it happen.

One thing I know for sure, race-day never goes as people think it will. It will be interesting...


Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a new day


Photo Collection Sharing #2

Here's another photo I wanted to share. This one was taken by my good friend, professional photographer, Rich Cruse. Rich captured a pretty awesome moment in this photo, at the XTERRA World Championships in 2005. (Click on the photo for the larger version).

It is late in the bike leg, and I've swam fairly well, and riding fairly well. I'm in the top 25 at this point, and riding with Peter Reid, (behind me). I loved the fact that Peter and I were working together, it was a dream-made moment. I had idolized him and his accomplishments, and to be able to battle back and forth with him on the course was a great moment for me. It helped to show me that I had the ability to compete against the best.

What you can't see in this photo, is Ned Overend. Ned had caught Peter and I, and proceeded to drop both us, (on none other than "Ned's Climb", no less). One of the media folks on the course asked Peter and I during the race, on the climb, how it was going. Peter responded with, "We're getting beat by a 50-year old! How do you think we're doing???" Classic!

Peter and I did catch Ned and a few others on the run. Peter had too much legs for me on the run, and I faded to 17th, with cramps. I remember coming into the home stretch, and I was in 17th, but 11th was less than a minute in front of me. Close race.

It was this duel, which began a friendship with Peter, and later lead to him coaching me and helping me get 3rd at Ironman Florida, as well as 8th at Coeur d'Alene.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's rare that I ever post about politics, but this is a significant day. I'm proud to be an American. My wife cried when the news projected he would win. She was worried. I wasn't. I believe in dreams, and I believe that if you do the right things, and work hard enough, you will be rewarded. Much like Ironman.

Barack, congrats on your Ironman victory.


Friday, October 31, 2008

A new low....or is it a new high?

Wow...what's gotten into me? 5 days in a row of posting? Even I'm impressed.

So I've reached a new low weight. Weighed in today at 162 lbs. Good sign.

A little tired, but it's good. Tomorrow is my last BIG ride of the season. Sunday will be the last BIG run of the season. Excited to get them done!

Has anyone seen the start list for IMAZ yet? 61 pro men last time I checked. That might be a record for NA Sports. It's not a creme-puff line-up either. Should be exciting!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Motivational Video #2

Sorry the last motivational video didn't last long on here...Here's a new one. It was sent to me by a friend, and it makes me want to do Kona again. (You may notice the video is mostly german and german athlete-biased. Not that there's anything wrong with that!)


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photo Collection Sharing #1

I don't know why, but I'm feeling a sense of appreciation for my training and racing. Actually, I do know why. I am getting fit. I'm almost as fit as I've ever been, and in a little less than 4 weeks I may well find I'm fitter than ever. Today's swim was good, (a definite improvement), and my run this afternoon was amazing. I am hitting times and speeds on my run routes which I haven't seen since Ironman Florida.

I also am well aware of the amazing opportunities and accomplishments of my life, and racing career. So I figured I would share with you all some cool photos, which I think really symbolize my life, career and pursuits. I will share them over the course of many blog posts. To start, I am sharing the above photo. It was taken by a Tri-Club member, at one of the club's monthly Aquathlon races, a few years ago.

These races are a lot of fun, simple and great workouts. I try to get to every one that I can, because of the open water swimming opportunity and the hard run which follows. I've come a long way with these events. When I start tri's in 2003, I was getting my ass handed to me at these, because I was a terrible swimmer. This year I won the event each time I entered, sometimes not even wearing a wetsuit.

But what I really love about this photo is the fact it captures me. I came to San Diego from the midwest for moments just like you see in the photo. Sunset, ocean and a self-ass-kicking.

Life is good...


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Order restored to the universe?

It seems order may be restored to the universe. I just got back from a swim, and it was my best swim in weeks. Don't ask me how, but suddenly it was just flowing better, 2 days after a half-ironman. I was surprised at the times I was hitting, and not trying too hard.

Body feels pretty good, especially considering 48 hours ago I put out a good effort. Was on the massage table with my boy Kevin, and he said I was looking pretty good, amazingly. I'm healthy, with just a couple of blisters being my biggest nuisance.

Looking back on the race, I was pretty happy with the bike and run. If I had been in a "race" where I had some people near me, who knows what I might have run off the bike.

I was recalling my Ironman Florida prep, as that was the last time I was running this well. I distinctly remember how I said, "For me to do well at Florida, I've just got to be smart for the swim and the bike. If I do well, it won't be because I swam and rode awesome, it will be because I was smart and able to run well." I think that's something I've gotten away from, racing to my strength.

Getting things dialed in for the next and last tough block of training before IMAZ. Should be fun...


Monday, October 27, 2008

Soma - A tale of 2 triathlons

It was the best of tri's, it was the worst of tri's.

I've never read the book, (or maybe I did in high school, and just can't remember it), but I think the story would probably resemble yesterday's race for me...

This race was almost a perfect test run for IMAZ, as I was staying at the same house I'll stay at, and so much of the course is the same as IMAZ, with the lone exception being the bike, which had a total of 72 turns or u-turns! (Made for crowded course and lots of slow-and-go.)

Arrival to the race was simple and easy, and I chatted with some of the guys before warming up with a short jog and getting in the water. I was quite relaxed. I knew the field was tough, and I was focused more on getting a good effort in, but I wanted to race. The plan was to stay with the best pack I could, and then get on the bike and go, but not look at the power meter. I wanted to see what I could do and not let the numbers scare me. I wasn't going to look at the Garmin on the run either, as I was just going to see who I came off the bike with and where, and see what I could do.


Right about here is when the worst of times started. I expected Marky V to be off the front, with maybe a second pack of solid swimmers behind him, thinking maybe I could hang onto that group, or in a closer 3rd pack. It seemed that the 3rd pack was where I would be about 200 meters in, and then by about 500 meters, I was in trouble. My swimming has sucked lately, and this was no different. I thought I just needed rest, but it's clear it's not that anymore. I need to get back to the water, because I couldn't hold onto anyone's feet, and felt like I was swimming all arms, and the arms were tired. I get out of the water and tell Orlanda, "That was the worst swim of my life." She tells me there's a big group about 2 mins in front of me.

This just sucked. Struggled with my helmet, and some other items. I can tell it's been awhile. Tahoe was better, but different equipment.

I was on the bike and getting going, anxious to get started and see what I could do. I go around an early turn and hear, "PHSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST!" I look down at the time on the powertap, and it's not even 5 mins in. I can't believe it. I pull over to fix the flat, and this point I just want to quit. Not only has the swim gone crappy, but now I've flatted to start the bike. As I'm starting to change the tire, I'm having a discussion with myself as to why I need to keep in the race. I say outloud, "Well, can it get any worse than this?" Next, the tire iron snaps as I'm trying to pry the tire off the rim. "DOH!" Luckily I had another, but it was crappy, and it took me nearly forever just to get the tire off. Later, my right hand was aching from the force I had to apply with the crappy tire iron.

I get the other tube in, and transfer the valve extender, (need to be prepared better for IMAZ with that), and use the CO2. Pull it off, and I can hear air leaking. DAMN IT! I realize the valve is leaking air thru the extension. I unscrew the extender and pull up on the presta tip. At this point, I feel the pressure in the tire, and it's not very good, about 100 psi. I realize at this rate I may be messing with this thing for a long time if this presta valve is this touchy. I just decided, screw it, it's good enough. If it needed more air, I would stop and fill it again, and try to get it to work. At this point, I just didn't want to be on the side of the road anymore. I packed up the crap and got going. Total time was about 8 mins of standing there.

Since I was all alone, and no one to really feed off of, I changed the plan, and decided to look at my watts. I was going to ride how I felt, but I wasn't going to let it hold me back. I wanted to see what I could do. I was facing a very crowded course now, and needed to just do what I could. I was out of the "race", and was going to get in a good workout. The tire pressure never really bothered me, but after seeing my speed, I think it slowed me more than I realized.

After reviewing the power file, the ride was great! I felt strong the whole ride, never really fading or struggling at all. It was a great ride outside of the flat. Could I have gone faster by being near other athletes? I'm sure I could have. I also would have had much clearer roads from the beginning. It was a great sign in my preps for IMAZ.

T2 and RUN
Orlanda told me I was 10-15 mins behind, so nothing much had changed since getting the flat.I took my time in T2. I just wanted to get in a good tempo run and run as I felt, with a good rhythm. I ended up feeling comfortably fast on the course, and was surprised to learn I had the fastest run split by over 2 mins, with a 1:15:35. I started off with miles in the 5:30's and 5:40's, comfortably. Finished with 2 miles right at 6 mins, with my feet aching from some blisters, need to address that before IMAZ too.

Honestly, I was amazed to see how many guys I was catching. I didn't feel like I was running anything crazy, but I was gaining on a lot of the guys. Josef Major is known for his running, and won IMAZ in April with a 2:50 run split, that was 10 mins faster than anyone else, and I outsplit him on the run by nearly 4 mins. If he's anywhere near what he did at IMAZ in April, this is a great sign for me!

Overall - 4:08:07, 12th pro, 13th overall, (age-grouper had a great race to get me by about 30 secs)

Results can be found here:

It was a great test workout, just as I was hoping to get. I expect IMAZ to come down to the run, so the next few weeks will be a concentration on the run, with a sub-focus on the swim, and maintaining my bike fitness.

I'll keep you posted...


Edit - After a double check of the tire pressure, and referencing the pressures, I rode closer to 85-90 psi! No wonder it was slow still!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SOMA Half this weekend

This weekend I'm heading to Phoenix to get in a test race, the SOMA Half Ironman. This race fits in nicely and works as a great test and prep race, for IMAZ. It shares much of the same course as IMAZ, so attending this is like a dry-run for IMAZ.

It looks like a good number of quality pro's are showing up too, for the small prize purse, but many with the same plan as me, as they are on the IMAZ start list. A few exceptions though, as apparently Macca, Mike Simpson, and Paul Tichelar are racing too. Throw in some of the guys for IMAZ, like Chris McDonald, Justin Daerr, and Mark Van Akkeran, and it's going to be a good test!

These weeks are always a little tough training wise, because you're not really tapering, but you're not giving the green light to go hard and keep at the self-beat down. You really have to watch yourself and find that balance. I'm also coming off a big 10-day block, so I'm a bit tired and need to be sure I'm recovered for the race.

That's all to report for now, but will have more soon...


Friday, October 17, 2008

Motivational Video - (especially for the underdog!)

What gives? Suddenly I'm posting nearly everyday??? Well, got some momentum, so I'm rolling with it...

Check out this video. Pretty inspiring and motivating.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jackass Politicians....

I do not believe what I am hearing...Apparently riding your bike is not cool. God forbid people have to walk...Sorry Republicans, but you're looking worse every day...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tahoe Report

It's time to get caught up again, with a brief race report of Tahoe. As I mentioned in the posts before the race, I was battling some sinus issues, (luckily it never spread to my chest to become a bronchitis or anything), but I wasn't looking to this race as a peak performance anyway. I hadn't done this race since 2005, and even then I double flatted and was unable to finish, so it had actually been since 2004, when I won the 25-29 men's division, that I had completed this race.

I took the opportunity to go as a fun race/workout, and enjoy getting back to my roots within the sport.

The morning was cold, but better than the day before, and much better than any of us expected. I set up my transition spot, and got on my wetsuit to get in the water. The water temp was 59 degrees, which was the same as IMCDA, so it was good. I think I needed to do a bit more warm-up though, with a jog, as in my training, I realize it takes me a long time to really get into a groove. This race was a hard effort from the beginning, so a good warm-up would really help!

The swim started fairly easy enough for me, as I started to the right of most of the pro's, near a bunch of age-groupers. I stumbled my first steps, but was quickly in clear water with no one near me. I could see the big pack to my left, and I started to check for the best intersection point with the pack and still swimming straight to the buoy, which was 300 meters out, and would be a sharp right turn. About 150-200 meters into the swim though, I really began to struggle with my breathing. The altitude clearly was getting to me. For a brief moment, I almost panicked! I had trouble keeping my face in the water, and felt like I just couldn't breathe. I had to remind myself that I was not going to suffocate, I was fine, but I needed to slow down my stroke rate and take longer, easier breaths, in order to regain my composure and breathing. I even told myself, "Don't worry about the front pack now, just find your rhythm and get your breathing under control. I can try to get back to them."

By the time I got around the buoy, I was fine again, and noticed I was in no-mans land with only 1 other swimmer, Chris Legh. Chris and I finished the first lap together, and I let him lead the second. I saw we had no chance of really catching the leaders, so I just got long and enjoyed the ride. One age-grouper caught us, who was an incredible swimmer, and I couldn't believe he was just staying with us. He was surging, then breast-stroking, then surging past me, then fighting for Chris' feet. I was actually thinking, "When this guy gets his head out of ass and decides to go, I'm getting off Chris' feet and getting on his." Then I saw his face, and it was the guy I was staying with in Tahoe! Billy! He's a good friend of Craig's. I had to laugh in the water.

The transition could have gone better, as I struggled to get my shoes on at the shore. I remembered in the past I would bruise my heels on the run to transition, as my feet were always numb, and the shoes would help that. Once I got them on, I was moving well. I couldn't believe it though, when I saw and heard Josiah Middaugh exit the water about 10 secs back of me. He had the swim of his life!

As I entered T1, I saw the lead group hitting the road on their bikes. Once I got on the bike, I tried to settle into a rhythm with my friend Andy Noble. He and I would be back and forth much of the bike. We'd catch some faster swimmers, get caught by some great bikers, like Brian Smith and Sam Gardner. Andy kept telling me how cold he was, while I felt fine for temperature, just struggling breathing. I was looking at the power meter, and when the pitch of Tunnel Creek Road was steady and not too steep, I felt good and was able to hold good watts. When the road got steep, I struggled. It seemed like I just couldn't put any real force into the pedals.

Once I got to the top, it was the flume trail. I was able to hold the best watts here, because it's nice and flat, just twisty. I'm starting to think I'm just warming up and things are looking good. By the time I hit the second tough climb, I'm back to struggling to put force into the pedals. Now I'm thinking the sickness might be affecting me, as well as maybe I didn't rest enough for such a serious effort.

I get to the descent on the trail, and as I remembered it, it seemed straight-forward, nothing too technical. Then I realize, I use to ride my mountain bike a lot more, and so it's a bit harder than I remember! I have a washout on a sharp turn, and decide that I will not be taking any risks on the descent. I needed to get thru this race healthy and not waste my Ironman Arizona prep.

I let one rider by, with another right behind him that surprises me, and I scrap my left shin/calf on a BIG BOULDER. (That's the blood on my leg in the photo. THANKS RICH! Click on the photo to see the bigger, more detailed version!) I get to the road into T2, and just as I suspected from my Ironman training, I'm still feeling fine. I was actually a little excited for the run. I was down in about 24th place, with even a few amateurs in front of me. I wanted to get back to running well.

Off the bike, I tried to focus on my cadence and get my rhythm. Whenever the trail went slightly down, I really opened it up. Whenever it went uphill, I tried to focus on the cadence and work hard! I passed about 8 people, and finished 16th. I had the 8th fastest run split overall, and not far from the 4th. I was really pleased with this, as these guys all train for faster run splits than I do, my focus is entirely strength.

I even managed to beat my time from 2004! Whew, what a relief! All in all, I had a lot of fun, and was happy with the performance. It's tempting to get back to doing XTERRA full-time again. But, that's still doutful.

More posts to come, but that's it for now...Will update on training and my Kona thoughts...


Saturday, October 4, 2008


Got to Tahoe this afternoon. Flight was delayed about an hour, but made it unscathed. Yesterday morning I woke up and it was clear I had finally gotten sick. My sinus headaches all week started to get worse. My hope has been to keep it out of my chest, and that seems to have worked.

I did some light workouts today, and man, it's cold as hell here! I'm coming from 2 of the hottest days of the year in San Diego, to this cold! Oh well...

Tomorrow will probably be the coldest triathlon I've ever done, so we will see how it goes. I heard that they canceled the swim today for the sport race, because of the 2-3 foot swells and wind. It will be interesting to see how the cold temps affect some athletes. Some might thrive in it, while others might just lock up.

I'm just hoping my sinus issues don't hinder me much. It's been an odd week of training, with some rest, some great workouts, some BAD workouts, some surprisingly better than expected workouts, and some sickness. Not sure what to expect.

Staying with my athlete Craig Evans, and his wife and 2 kids, as well as another nice guy from Nashville, Billy. They're swimmers, so I'll be chasing tomorrow for sure....

Stay tuned for more.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's been awhile...

Wow, long time, no post. Sorry about that. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy and critic, as I don't like worthless posts, so I try to put substance into each one. After a while, that becomes a burden. So with that said, let's catch-up...

- Was in Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend, watching my beloved Huskers lose to Virginia Tech. It was an exciting game, and they showed a lot of heart and fight to the end, making it the best game I've been at and seen from them since 2001, when they won at Notre Dame in overtime, with Heisman winning QB Eric Crouch. I love Bo Pelini as coach! I never liked Callahan at all, as my wife can attest to. The Huskers have a great future.

- I brought my buddy Jim Walsh to Lincoln with me for the game, and we ran with the Nebraska XC team on Saturday morning before the game. We ran this trail, and had a great 16 miler, holding 6 min pace and faster, with relative ease. My running is really coming back! I'm excited about it, and it was great to get back to Lincoln and run with the team. It's hard to believe it's been 9 years since I ran on that team. Wow, time flies. (But good to see I still hold my own!!!)

- A few weeks ago I bonked in training, HARD. The Gatorman was the tipping point. Tried to do too much in my training, trying to hit every weakness. I crashed hard. Had to take a few days off to recover, and it wasn't pretty. Then I rebounded well from my recovery week and had the biggest and best week of the year!

- This week was a different set-up, as I had to recover from the trip, still get in my IMAZ specific prep, and recover enough again to race this Sunday in Tahoe at the XTERRA National Championships. I took Monday off, then Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty big and hard. I was pretty beat, and now I have 3 lighter days to recover and be ready for Tahoe. We will see how it goes. Mostly going for fun and a great workout. The course is a lot of strength on the bike, and turnover on the run. I should have the strength, and hopefully the turnover will be there too.

As always, you can track my training log with the link on the right. So even if I'm not updating the blog very well, you can still see how things are going.

I'll post again soon, (I promise).


Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank God it's College Football Season!

It's been awhile since the last post, and there are a number of reasons...

1. Training! Lots of it, makes for little time.
2. Coaching! Lots of it, makes for little time.
3. Olympics - Watched a bunch of it, including and the triathlons, live, screaming and jumping up and down on my couch when Simon came back!
4. Traveled to Boulder for a week for some TrainingBible business, and training. Hot and dry in Boulder...nice place to visit, but San Diego still gets the nod as the best place to train, (no comparison if the question is asked in the winter!)

It doesn't look like I'll be getting much time back, at least for the weekends, since college football season kicks off this weekend!!! Nebraska, (my alma mater), opens with Western Michigan! Will be watching that game, you can bet! I love college football!

Training is actually going well, as I just completed a big week with a 4-mile race here yesterday in 21:02. Not terribly fast, but believe it or not that's 35 seconds faster than I ran in this same race in 2006, in my Florida prep. So that's a good sign.

Also had one of my better rides last week, and I'm clearly strong as a whole. Weight is good, but not great, should get better in the coming weeks. Excited about things moving forward.

We shall see!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Time for a post

So I haven't been good about blogging here, sorry.

Been busy with training, of course, but the volume and time commitment has really increased. The weekend was especially big and busy...

Friday - Big swim workout in the AM, with lots of fast 200's, 100's and 50's. It was my best swim of the year, which is great considering how much work I've been doing in the weight room and with core conditioning. I know I was tired, but was still going fast.

Later it was a 9 mile run easy, with a 2 hour ride to finish the day. On the bike was when the bees struck again. Right to the right temple, a bee stung me as it got stuck between my glasses, helmet and head. OUCH! Hurt like hell. For the entire weekend I looked like a cabbage-patch kid, but just on one half of my face. It was so bad, I refused to get a photo of it.

Saturday - Kevin McCarey's workout, where I got WORKED! His son, Eamon, put a hurting on me. The intervals were tough, and thru the trails around UCSD. After the 10 miles of running total, with nearly 6 miles of it HARD, it was onto the bike with a fellow Nebraska boy, Nolan. We rode the Swami's loop with attacking on the hills. Come the last hour of this 3.5 hour ride, I was struggling.

Sunday - Got up in the AM and it was off to Cardiff, to meet the local running group for a 2 hour plus run. It was a good group, and my fitness has clearly improved through the 3 runs with this group I've done. On this run, I was dropped with about 2 miles to go, and had to do what I could to hold on. Afterwards, it was an easy ride to the Cove for a clinic with some swimmers for the Gatorman, and a swim.

This week's focus is recovery for the first three days, then tests on Thursday and Friday. The weekend will be back to some high volume work, with a trip to Boulder planned next week.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Inside Triathlon Magazine

In case you haven't seen the cool photo spread, here it is in the July Issue...

Never had a picture this big and cool in magazine. I really like this one, especially since it's clear I didn't have to get off the bike like the guys behind me! Hahaha...

Training is going well, motivation continues to be high. Been kicking my ass with core conditioning like never before, and in the weight room. Even added Yoga and Pilates classes. My commitment level has jumped. Believe it or not, I've already lost 4 lbs in a week, and believe me when I tell you it wasn't water weight!!!

Trying to balance all my other responsibilities is the challenge now, but I may be cutting some of the fat from my life soon, in order to keep my focus.

Just became an uncle for the 2nd time yesterday. Heading up to Nor Cal to see the little gal, and attend a wedding. Not taking my bike, so heading up to hopefully do plenty of running and maybe a swim, while staying in Marin at Orlanda's parents' house.

Thursday night is the big "biathlon" here in Mission Beach. What is a biathlon? Well, I thought biathlons had guns and skiing, but apparently this one is just a run and swim, with a beer stop in the middle of the run. I did the race last year, and set the course record. This year I expect bigger challenges, so we will see how it goes.

More info can be found at:

Hope to see many of you out there!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to Basics

With apologies to the late Biggie Smalls...

"I'm going-going, back-back to"...BASICS!

Last Sunday I did the Tri Club race, and it was the first club race I'd done in about 3 years. It felt good to get back to it. I've done tons of Aquathlons, (I'll be back out there tonight), but not any triathlons. It's funny to reflect back on that little Glorietta Bay park, and remember that was where I got my start in the sport. I couldn't swim worth a damn, couldn't even put my face in the water. I borrowed a wetsuit, a bike, and somehow after coming out nearly last from the water, ended up 5th. Wow..I've come a long ways since that May 2003 race.

Since IMCDA, I've done a lot of reflection and trying to make some decisions. Some of the things I've realized is that I've gotten away from some things which I enjoyed, and sometimes looked at the big picture too much. It's time for me to go back to the things which made me successful. I've got enough base training, and I'm strong. Now it's time to step it up. It's all about balance, and I think in some ways I was too far to one extreme.

My motivation and attitude are at a new high, and I'm excited to get fit and love training. I'm actually at the exact opposite point I was last year at this time after IMCDA. I was tired, burned out, ready for a break. Now I'm motivated, excited and looking forward to kicking some ass in November! (Or even sooner!)

I'm racing XTERRA Nationals in Tahoe, October 5th. That's a warning shot for some of you out there...I'm going to toe the line, and I hope you're ready for me! Ironman training be damned, I'm going to be strong and ready for a great race there. I love XTERRA, and I'm excited to get back to the line. I've got an amazing mountain bike, Look 986, and my butt is yearning to rub in that saddle! It should be a good time. (BTW, check out the new Inside Tri issue, big photo spread of me on the 986 at XTERRA West!)

I'm getting back into the weight room, attacking! I'm eating up the core strengthening like a desperate whore! My new weight goal is sub 160! I'll be riding the razor, but I'll be dangerous come race day.

My volume is a little high this week, but I'm enjoying it. I'm anxious to get the running back to what it was in 2006. When I came off the bike at Florida and ran 1:20 for the first half-marathon, I was so confident I could race with anyone in the world. My goal is to get back to that point. I'll be introducing more intensity into my running, (Kevin McCarey workouts on Saturday mornings, Sunday Cardiff long runs with the boys), and even hitting the track again.

My swimming right now is as good as it's ever been, and I think will soon be at a new level. Cycling still needs work, but I'm not afraid of putting in the time and work.

There's a large contingent of San Diego Tri Club members going to IMAZ in November, (literally in the hundreds), and I'd love nothing better than to be in the hunt for the win there with their support.

I turned 32 a few days before CDA. I don't know how many years I have left in the sport at this level, but I do know I'm not taking it for granted. So if I seem to be in a selfish state, please understand.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Before I retire, I really want to race in Germany. If not Roth, then IM Germany. And this is why...


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Coeur d'Alene Photos

Well, as much as I thought I was being smart about not doing San Diego International, it became clear on Sunday that the decision would have been made for me. My hamstring was pretty messed up and I couldn't jog more than a mile. No way I would have been able to race. Now just focusing on getting back into things and working toward IMAZ.

Here are some photos from IMCDA, for you to enjoy. If you happen to have any which you could email me, I'd appreciate it. jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Pro start at 6:25 AM

End of lap one, (Victor 1st, green cap, me checking for gap to Rhodes and Evans, then Lovato)

Me, Lovato and Curry, with Victor just out of the picture, turning the wrong way.

After Victor's wrong turn, I found myself in the lead, Lovato just behind me.

A very ungraceful re-entry!

Continuing with the lack of gracefulness.

End of lap one in the swim.

Lovato is such a pimp, he can't escape the paparazzi!

Out on the bike course.

The finishing straight.

Thanks for checking in.


Monday, June 30, 2008

The Case of Floyd

Today, Floyd Landis lost his final appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sport, (CAS), the highest court in all the land, when it comes to sport and doping offenses. He now goes down as a convicted cheater, forever linked with the likes of Ben Johnson, Bjarne Riis, Nina Kraft, and many others.

I am often asked what I thought of Floyd, and if he cheated. My answer has been, and always will be, "It doesn't matter." Why? Because Floyd's rights were violated, and as long as the system has to cheat to catch the cheaters, the system will never work, and will always leave us questioning who is really guilty, allowing more scandal and corruption than already exists.

Today's article by the Associated Press, quotes the CAS panel's 58-page decision, which admits the lab used, "less than ideal lab practices". No where did it even mention that his name was released to the press before he was even notified of his A sample being positive. Never mind his right to protection until the B sample has been tested. Never mind the fact the sample showed degradation levels which, by lab policies and procedures, were deemed too high to get acceptable results.

Talk with someone who works in a lab, and ask them what would happen if they used the practices and acted as these labs did. Guess what the response would be. You can bet it would be, "I'd be fired." The lone exception apparently being if you work in anti-doping lab. Ask a criminal attorney how viable this evidence would be in criminal court.

When I look at USADA, (US Anti-Doping Agency), and WADA, (World Anti-Doping Agency), and their handling of Floyd's case, I see a governing body who gets to choose who is guilty and who is not. They violate rights of athletes without repercussions, and before Floyd, no one had the resources to fight it. The costs involved for the attorneys and court fees, have always been far too great to give a professional athlete in Olympic sports a fair opportunity to fight the charges they face.

"That's always been part of the system, that they've always had more resources than the athlete. This is the first time it's even been close," Landis' attorney, Maurice Suh, said in an interview last year.

Bankrolled through several private sources, including a fundraising campaign he launched on his own, Landis forced a case that cost more than $2 million -- a burden on him, but also a strain on the bottom lines of both USADA and WADA, which shared the cost of prosecuting the case.

After his unprecedented public hearing at his first arbitration case last May, the arbitrators upheld his doping ban but scolded USADA and the labs it uses for practices that were less than airtight. (source - AP, June 30th, 2008)

The biggest fear I have is testing positive, especially since I don't cheat. If I were to test positive, I could never afford to fight it, even though my innocence would be obvious, (at least to my family and me.) If you think it's unlikely, look at how many athletes claim to be innocent, it's hard to believe they are all lying. And then I see Floyd's case, where clearly there is enough reasonable doubt, and he makes the financial investment to fight it, and still loses.

What consequences would I face? What would happen to my reputation? I couldn't fight it. I would just have to accept the label of cheater, no matter the truth. My family forever shamed, my dreams shattered, and future career aspirations related to the sport most likely over. And this would be an innocent person.

Why did the CAS uphold the ban? I haven't read the entire 58 pages, but I can guess as to why, which wouldn't be written. There is no contingency plan if something were to happen to USADA or WADA. If they are overly critical or overrule these agencies, what would happen? You can bet chaos, until the agencies were restructured and reinstated with these issues resolved. I'm guessing they didn't have the courage to make the right decision, and open the flood gates.

Is Floyd innocent? I don't know. But I do know that USADA and WADA are running the show. Athlete rights, testing policies and protocols, and repercussions be damned. All athletes lost today, not just Floyd.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

A funny read from Lovato

When I wrote my race report, I was going back thru the events of the race, and of course I started with the swim. I tried to describe the events of the swim as well as I could, discussing the surges, but it's always interesting to hear other perspectives of the same race as well. This is an excerpt from Michael Lovato's blog, on the swim and what happened. (I am yellow 1, Scott Curry is yellow 2).

"I opted not to take a long warm up, which is a departure from my pre-race norm. I figured I'd only start to cool of if I was in the lake too long before the start. Positioning myself at the start line, I chose not to pay attention to where anyone else was standing. I have finally learned that my best swim will come when I do what's best for me, rather than key off any of the others' actions.

Two or three strokes into the race, I found myself on Viktor's feet. He had green, I had purple (caps). He was easy to spot amongst the others in yellow. I stayed put for a couple hundred meters, enjoying a very, very comfortable start. We were barely above a float, as far as I was concerned.

As we neared the first turn buoy, I took Amanda's advice by making a surge. My normal swim strategy is to hold on for dear life, while making no sudden movements. Amanda knew I had worked hard to get my swimming back to where it was years ago, and she felt I could play some games in the water. This surge to the first turn was only the first of many little games I would play during the 2.4 miles.

Out of the turn and into the sun, I kept my surge going for several meters. I noticed that Viktor was still in tow, and the two yellows were hanging tough. Through the second buoy, I eased up, stayed the course, and returned to a comfortable pace. Nearing the beach, Viktor came back through to take the lead. In spite of my games, we were actually working well to pull one another through the course.

Exiting the water and re-entering is one my least favorite parts of a swim. Lucky for me, we were in a group of four, and Viktor make a right turn, instead of the left we were supposed to take. I gracelessly flopped back into the water, checked yellow 1 and yellow 2, noticed Viktor's slight gap, and I dropped the hammer. How much fun it is to be able to race the swim!

I tried as hard as I could to drop the trio. I went through the first buoy, and kept the pedal down. My effort was for naught, as they were all still in contact. It doesn't hurt to try, and the efforts to drop my competitors did not seem to hurt me in the least. I settled back in and saved energy for my next effort.

Rounding the turn, I made another go at dropping the yellows. I zigged left, I zagged right, I surged and I veered. Nothing worked, so I settled back into a normal pace. Again, I reveled in the fact that I was in control of my swim (and of others') for the first time in a while.

Before I end up with a novel about the first 54 minutes of my race, I had better touch on the bike race for a spell."

I thought that was pretty accurate, and I was wondering why the hell he was surging so much, but now I understand.

No race for me tomorrow. Swam last night in the open water, sans wetsuit, and the leg was just too sore. I would be risking too much to race. Need to get back to basics and preparing for IMAZ.


Friday, June 27, 2008

This is a new one...

I am not kidding with the following statement...Today, I sneezed so hard, I strained my hamstring. I think that's a new one. It's a new one for me anyway.

I tried to go for an easy 10K jog, and couldn't do it. Right hamstring was just too tight and sore. Heading to the Cove to swim easy and let the leg soak a bit.

Diet has been crappy this week to say the least. Lots of beer and junkfood, so I guess that's what I get. I was on the massage table the other day and the body seemed to be pretty good for coming off an Ironman.

If I do end up racing, it will be a strong field. Here's the start list...


I'll know more tomorrow I guess.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some post-race thoughts...

If you've read my race report, then you can see there is a lot to think about and review with the race. I write race reports to help go over everything in my mind again, and review my decisions and actions during the race, in order to identify weaknesses or issues.

One of the biggest things I thought about in the race was whether I was getting soft or not. I hadn't been able to catch the many of the leaders like I had hoped during the second lap of the bike, and was frustrated. I figured I was having a bad ride, and not racing well.

In my previous post, I mentioned my goals for the bike were 261 watts NP, (which would be a .76 IF). I thought I was having a fine ride early, but late I felt like I was watching it slip away. It wasn't until after the race, when I looked at the power file, when I realized I actually rode pretty well. I just got beat by guys who were better that day.

I actually ended up with a NP of 273 watts, and IF of .793. That is one of the great things about a power meter. I thought I rode poorly, and yet the power data tells a different story. In fact, after talking about it with Joe, he was really pleased with how I rode. He said, "If you would have told me you'll have a .793 IF, I would have said, 'We'll take it!'" Without the power data, I would have been wondering how I could have ridden so poorly, and what went wrong, when really I was fine.

If you're interested in viewing the power file in WKO+ software, you can download it here:
Power File for the bike - WKO+

As for the run, clearly it needed more work. The injuries I dealt with did not allow me to gain the fitness required to run well off the bike. But, that's not an excuse, it's a part of the game. You have to be ready on race day, injuries or not.

If you're interesting in viewing the run file in WKO+ software, you can download it here:
Run file for the marathon - WKO+

After the race Joe and I had a phone conversation, where he asked me if there was anything I would have done differently in the race. I initially told him no, but after doing the race report and really going thru things, I found a few things.

1. I would not have used the Camelback. It was a good idea to try, but my nutrition plan still needs some tweaking. Mostly, I need to carry less calories and even rely on the on-course nutrition at aid stations more. This will keep my nutrition plan simple and basic, hard to mess up.

2. I should have started the race with Evans and Rhodes, and tried to stay with them through the swim. Though some may argue that would have been a bad idea, it may not have. Rhodes lead Tom the whole way, swimming steady, while our pack had surges and changes going on. If I would have gotten dropped, I could have just waited for the second pack. And even sometimes, knowing you have had an AMAZING swim, can lead to other amazing performances.

Knowing now how good I felt, I will not let that happen ever again. I will always get with the fastest swimmer(s) and make my goal to be on their feet. If I want to make the next jump, I've got to be up there and be in the mix from the beginning. I'm a little disappointed I gave-up the idea of staying with them from the beginning, as that should never happen.

So what is next for me? Good question. I was offered a slot to Kona, but I turned it down. It was entirely a business decision. Looking at the costs, it was going to be a minimum of $1500 to toe the line in Kona, before counting car rental, accommodations, and food. Seeing where my fitness is right now, there is just too much work to be done to be ready for the type of performance in Kona which would allow me to pay so much for doing a race. If the season had gone really well, and I was very strong right now, I could do it. But it's clear I'm not strong enough at this juncture, so no Kona for me.

Instead, I will be racing Ironman Arizona in November. I'm actually looking forward to it! It's in Joe's backyard, Orlanda can come, JT will return, Marcus wants to do it again, and maybe even his brother Morgan will come too! Of course, that's a long ways off, but I'm already looking forward to it. There's a lot more time until this race than Kona, meaning I have a better chance to reach peak fitness.

Between now and then, I'm still working on the race schedule, but I'm considering a return to Tahoe for XTERRA Nationals! We will see what happens. I'm also in discussions with Joe about some changes to the training regimen, such as a return to the Sunday MILFside runs. Stay tuned.

That's all for now.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

(Warning: This post is long...sorry. But if you like details, you've got them here.)

I wasn't in this mess, as we had a 35 min head start, but it's always a cool photo!

Race Day!

My multiple alarms went off at 3:30, 3:35, 3:40 and 3:45. Yeah, it was overkill, but you don’t want to oversleep on race day. I’m up for some breakfast, my first sips of coffee in almost 2 weeks, and hydrating. We headed over to the race venue at 4:45, and pull up on schedule, 5 AM. My race would start at 6:25, so this gave me plenty of time to get my things done pre-race, and not feel rushed.

After getting everything set for the bike and transitions, I went to the wall along the beach near the start. Orlanda had set-up a spot to watch the swim there, and was all smiles. She and Marcus were definitely helping to keep me at ease, (just like JT normally does at these!) For such a selfish endeavor, and the feeling of being alone out there for so long, having a support crew like her and Marcus really helps to give me things to look forward to, and not feel alone out there. It really adds a team element to the race, and that means so much to me.

6 AM, I’m putting the wetsuit on and going thru my stretching, loosening up exercises for the swim. Marcus is making me laugh, while Orlanda is still all smiles, total positive vibes. People are gathering around and watching me stretch, using the bench to simulate the swim stroke and holding water.

Pre-race stretching and loosening up.

Head down to the water, and another guy and I are the first two people in the water. I do a short warm-up swim, and the water feels great. No neoprene cap, as the temperature was 59.5 degrees, and the threads had been scratching the back of my head/neck, causing a bad rash, scab. Instead I went with a silicone cap under the latex yellow cap. I did a few hard starts, for about 50 meters out in the water, then easy back to shore. I see we have about 10 mins until start, so I go drop my wrist watch off with Orlanda, so she can give me time checks throughout the day. Then it was off to the start line to keep loose and ready.

My plan was to mark Michael Lovato and/or Victor Zymetsev, as much as possible, for as long as possible, without feeling like I was in over my head. I noticed Victor had a green swim cap, and Lovato a purple cap, since the cameras wanted to be able to easily spot them in the water, which meant it would be all that much easier for me to identify them as well! These two boys know if they want to beat Tom Evans, they have to keep him close in the swim, and pace themselves right, and seeing that Victor had reeled in Tom late in the race the past 2 years, he’s almost the perfect pacer for the race.

Standing on the shore, there is almost no wind, and the currents look negligible, so we’re lined up straight with the buoys for the start. The last 2 minutes were killing me. I just wanted to get started, I was excited. It was a great feeling, because I hadn’t felt that way about a race in awhile. I had a good feeling about stepping into that water. I took a look to my left and right at my fellow competitors, and said in my mind, “I hope you boys are ready for me!”

Swim – 54:04

When the cannon goes off, I swear you feel it in your chest before you hear it. It’s almost like someone punches you in the chest, then you hear it. Two steps into the water and it’s a total dive forward, with clear water in front of me. About 100 meters into the race, I notice Lovato is on my left, Victor on my right, and Tom Evans and Bryan Rhodes off to the far right. By 300 meters, our packs have established, as Evans and Rhodes are given their space, and the chase pack of myself, Victor, Lovato, and a few others is set. Victor leads our pack, while Lovato gets on his feet. I settle in on Lovato’s feet, and can’t believe how easy the pace is. I realize we are not going slow, because the Evans duo is not pulling away from us much at all, and I even begin to wonder if I should make a move for their pack, but I decided to play it conservative.

We reach the first left turn, and Victor does not want to lead anymore, so he pulls off to the side doing some backstroke, and Lovato takes the pace, throwing in a surge. I was ready and matched it, as did Victor, and we turn toward home on the lap. The lead trades back and forth between Victor and Lovato, with unspoken communications, and neither asking me to do any of the work, and Victor doing most of it. A few more surges, and we finish the first lap, and I’m feeling great! Our pack is just 4 people, as Scott Curry is the only one with us, and a big gap to the next person. Then I witnessed Victor do one of slyest moves I’ve ever seen in a race by a wily veteran. As we cross the mat to finish the first lap, it’s clear we have to go left, to start the next lap, and instead he goes right acting as though he thinks we’re done with the swim, and still looks back at me. Everyone is yelling at him that he’s going the wrong way, and I’m pointing the other direction. I get to the water and realize I just got “PUNKED”, as now I’m in the lead. DOH! Not what I wanted. At this point, I’m not wanting to do any favors for those guys, and it’s too late to get with Rhodes and Evans. I take the angle to the first buoy really wide and see Lovato coming on the inside wanting to set a harder tempo, so I tuck in behind. Lovato proceeds to put in a big surge lasting about 200-300 meters, and I match it. My confidence is sky high, and I’m willing to match anything he can throw at me, and am getting pumped up with each move I match. This game continues until the end of the swim, with Victor back in the mix, and me drafting nearly the entire swim. I was thinking, “Man, this couldn’t be scripted any better for me!” I hear a time check, and we’re 2 minutes down is all, more than a minute better than last year.

This is the 2nd lap of the pro swim, with Evans and Rhodes out front, our small 4 man pack chasing.

T1 – 2:14

Quick to the wetsuit pullers, and I’m off to the tent, putting on my camelback and helmet, running out to the bike. Scott Curry and I are toe-to-toe, Lovato back in T1, and Victor just a little ways up ahead of us. I’m out so quick, Marcus runs over to the T1 exit, waiting for me, worried where I’m at because he can’t see me, but not realizing I’m already gone.

Scott Curry and I on our way out of T1 together.

Bike – 5:04:50

Before I know it, Victor has issues with a spare tubular tire, fumbling with it, Curry is fumbling with his shoes, and I’m in third 5 miles into the bike, with Tom gaining only 10 seconds on me. I had planned to ride a bit higher watts early in the race, around 330, and then level off to be steady the rest of the way, but with the way things were going, I decided to just chill and ride 300 watts, letting the race develop and see what everyone else would do. By mile 10, Lovato has made a big move to get to Tom, as have Curry and Victor, and now I’m needing to ride at FTP to stay with them. I back off and decide to let them go, as I wanted to race smart. My Look 496 felt great, and I knew it would help me to the best split I could do, if I rode it to my strengths, which would be the flats and downhills.

By mile 25, we hit the rollers and Lewis Elliott and Mike Neill have caught me, and they are pushing the climbs hard. Lovato is in second and I still see him up the road, so I feel like I’m doing the smart thing. I catch Rhodes just past the 32 mile turnaround, and notice Courtney Ogden is closing on me, after erasing a big gap early, riding hard.

Meanwhile, the time gap to Evans grows every check, up to about 6 mins by mile 40. I talk with Slowtwitch’s infamous Johnnyo at the time checks, and I’m upbeat, knowing I’m doing things smart, wanting to push the second lap.

My Functional Threshold Power, (FTP) coming into this race was 344 watts, and the goal was a Normalized Power, (NP), of 261 watts, which would be a .76 Intensity Factor, (IF). This means to ride at 76 percent of FTP for the race. If you’re a good Ironman racer, you can ride anywhere from .76 to .80, but .80 is hard, and going over this percentage can be a big risk.

Meanwhile, Steve Larsen was beginning to make his presence known, closing the gap on me. My hope was to hold him off for the entire first lap, and try to run him down. I accomplished holding him off until 10 miles into lap 2, as I’ve caught back and passed Elliott. Great! Tom has 9 minutes on me, while everyone else is about 6 minutes to 2 mins ahead, staggered ahead of me in almost perfect 1 minute intervals, and I’m liking what I’m seeing. Now I would have a chance to reel them in, and get into position for a run at the podium.

Well, that didn’t quite happen. I had been pushing pretty well, and could see that my power was fading slightly, but that was expected. I get to the far turnaround, and see that it’s a mix of some of them still putting time into me, others holding about the same, and others coming back, but not enough to satisfy me.

During the first lap, it was actually quite easy to tell when I was going too hard, as I was becoming a little nauseous, and wondering if I was pushing too many calories at one time. I never threw up, but was borderline a few times. Unfortunately, the switch from bottles to a Camelback did not allow me the opportunity to check visually, if I was pacing my nutrition correctly. I could only reach back and try to feel how much was left and this was not very good for determining. This was one flaw which never revealed itself in training.

I was getting frustrated as I hit the flat sections for the final 25 miles. I tried to remind myself of what I learned in Hawaii last year, when I told myself, “At 80 miles on the bike, you’ve got to want to be in that saddle!” This is where I began to have some doubts creep in, so I tried to keep that thought in my mind. I nearly get hit by a car at an intersection, and now I’m starting to get cranky and upset. I begin to wonder if I haven’t caught anyone because maybe I’m getting soft. Am I really as tough as I need to be? Do I want it bad enough? Is this is a sign that my best days are behind me?

I roll into T2 and I’m still wondering if I’m becoming soft, or racing smart. “Well, I’m about to find out,” I told myself.

T2 – 1:44

Uneventful, in and out with everything I needed and wanted. (I had made a clothing strategy change, as every Ironman I have ended up sunburned from the exposure of the shoulders, shoulder blades, face, head and arms. In Kona, it was clearly a trauma to my body, and being fair skinned, I knew I had to get more coverage. So the entire race was completed with Zoot’s Ultra Cycle Jersey, which is AWESOME! So light and breathable, with great skin coverage and SPF 50! Smartest decision I made pre-race! I also added their hat for the run, and it’s amazing how little sunburn I got, only a little on my neck and forearms.) Grabbed the hat and off on the run, starting in 8th place, same as last year.

Entering T2.

Run – 3:14:58

Early on, I see I’m about 9 mins down on Victor in 4th, and 5 mins down on Curry in 7th. Honestly, I’m feeling like crap! By mile 2, I’m wondering how I’m going to hold off Elliott behind me, about 2 mins.

Due to running injuries in my left leg which hampered me for about 6 weeks in March and April, my running had to start over in May, with Joe and I just hoping it would be good enough for the race. Given how well my riding had been going, we decided to plateau bike fitness and focus more on the run for the last build into the race, but we trained for the aggressive start of the bike, and just hoped I would have enough to be able to hold on at the end of the race.

With this, our goal was 6:30 pace thru the first 10 miles, or slower, as long as I was conservative, then starting the race from there. Our hope was 3 hours, as my running had been up and down in the short time window we had. It was really unclear as to what might happen.

I struggled thru the first few miles, with Marcus on the Pugsley, at checkpoints to keep me tuned in to how the race was going up ahead of me. Finally at mile 6, I begin to feel my rhythm, and I’m ready to get going! I keep it at 6:30’s thru mile 10, and as I’m about to catch Scott Curry, I see Marcus and yell, “I’m back brother!” I pass Curry, and hit the half-way point in right near 1:31. At the start of the second lap I see Courtney Ogden and Steve Larsen are about 10 and 8 mins ahead of me, and I’m thinking I can get them if I can keep up the great feeling I’ve got.

The Pugsley Marcus was riding around ride!

I hit mile 14 and the now I’m struggling a little. I’m trying to get in calories and keep it up, but I’m beginning to struggle. I hit mile 15, and suddenly I’m thinking about walking, when I see Ogden about 10 meters in front of me, walking. Realizing I made up 8 mins on him in less than 2 miles, I decide I can’t walk and try to push on, establishing a gap to hold 6th place.

I’m working hard on the run out to the final turnaround, and I realize I’m having a fairly strong second lap, as the only people who have gained any distance on me are Tom, Victor, and Larsen slightly. I’m thinking I might be able to still get Larsen, but with the big hill at the turnaround, my legs are beginning to get pounded. I have 5 minutes on Curry in 7th, another minute on Elliott in 8th, and it appears a long way to Becker in 9th. A few miles later and I’m doing everything I can to hold on. Legs are aching, and the quads feel like someone has tied a rope right across them, as taunt as can be. I’m slowing badly. My nearly 6 weeks of little to no running, has finally shown itself. I was in some trouble.

Just past mile 25, I’m assessing how the race has gone, and thinking I’m happy to get 6th, only to see someone fly by me. The person was going so fast, I thought they were an age-grouper on their first lap, but I see a “P” on their calf, indicating professional. A woman screams at me, “You’re in 7th now, you gotta go!” I go from a deer in headlights to a man on a mission, trying to make a move to catch him back as we hit the last uphill, half-mile stretch before the finish. I’m gaining back on him, and I see him looking back at the aid station, I push again. About 300 meters later, I was nearly to a walk. Olly Piggin had come from no where on me, and used a strong finish to catch me and put me away. I came around the final bend for the downhill 400 meters, and feel like I’m limping.

7th place, 9:17, about 2 mins out of 6th, but only 1 min ahead of 8th. As unlucky as I was to get passed, I was lucky that Curry didn’t catch me. I had a real sense of satisfaction as I crossed the line. It wasn’t clear to me before the race where my run fitness was, and how my injuries had affected me. If I can keep myself injury free for a good stretch of time, I think I will have some great fitness.

I gave the race everything I had, and I walk away satisfied. I got beat by some great performances, and tough competitors. I was in the mix in the race, and believe it or not, this is the 2nd best result I’ve ever had in an Ironman.

Marcus and I enjoying a few beers post-race at the finish.

A few days of rest and travel, then light activity before toeing the line this Sunday for my hometown race, San Diego International. Should be interesting to see how my body responds.

Orlanda enjoying herself with us as well post-race.

I’ll be posting some post-race thoughts, and figuring out the rest of my season schedule soon, to post here.