Sunday, March 30, 2008

Injuries and ticking clocks

I wish I could say the left leg is healed, but it continues to have issues. Everytime I think I'm healthy, I start back fine and a few days later something else happens with it. Since Saipan, I've had a pulled hamstring, strained quad, and now a strained calf, all on the left side.

It's not a critical time yet, but the clock is ticking, especially if I want to be sure to qualify at Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I am headed to Phoenix this week to get fit on the 986, so I can make sure I won't get injured at XTERRA West, since it's possible the change in position of suddenly jumping on the mtb, could have been a big cause for my hamstring injury in Saipan.

I can still wait a week or two, but by then I've got be 100% and back at it. In the meantime, I've got to keep working on the swim and the bike. We're long course now at UCSD, so that's great news! My bike is still fairly strong right now, and I think this will continue for me.

I am calling in favors, to get in to see people, and the injury is not cheap! I am seeing all my magicians though, and I am hopeful they can make the injury disappear. In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out what's causing it so I can prevent it in the future.

In other news, I was out watching and cheering clients and friends at Oceanside this weekend. Quite the finish, with Crowie showing a lot of guts to close that gap so quick and make a move for the win. Made me have a lot more respect for him. He's a competitor.

Potts looks great right now, and I expect him to secure his Olympic spot in a couple weeks, at the race in Alabama.


Friday, March 28, 2008

B+L, San Diego

Why do I love B+L and San Diego? Because on any given day, it's not uncommon for the biggest names in the sports of cycling and triathlon, and even other sports, to walk thru the door. Here's a list of some of the athletes I've seen in there:

Bill Walton
Kate Major
Michellie Jones
Ned Overend
Craig Alexander
Chris Legh
Paula Newby-Fraser
Normann Stadler
Faris Al-Sultan
Joe Friel
Scott Tinley
Conrad Stoltz
Greg Welch

And then today, Ivan Basso shows up while on a ride. He was chatting it up with Matt, a mechanic. I know there have been plenty of other big names in the shop, but I just haven't been there at the same time.

If you come to San Diego, you have to check out B+L. It's not just a shop, it's an institution.


PS - Just got done watching the Women's D1 NCAA Swimming/Diving Championships on ESPN. God, these women can kick my ass, and I don't just mean in the water.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More photos from Saipan

Alan, who helped me with my pulled hamstring. He was amazingly helpful! He lives in Noosa, so if you're in that part of Australia, check him out.

One of the Japanese tanks from WWII, which sit out in the lagoon. The locals use them as buoys in their open water swims. Pretty cool.

One of the other tanks in the lagoon, this one a bit closer to shore.

Local bike shop owner and mechanic, Rommey. He was esctatic about working on a Look, and wanted a photo of it! He wanted me to leave my 986 hanging in the shop, because it got all the locals fired up about getting one when they walked in and saw it. I told him he needs to be a Look dealer!

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon is the local group swim, called "The Tank Swim". You can see the tank in the background, the small spot.

From the north end of the island, on the Tagaman course, this is Bird Island.

This is actually a photo from Tokyo, a Japanese bike lane!

I might post more soon.


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Jet lag...I had to ask Orlanda what day it was. I slept till 11 AM today. Ouch.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Disappointments and silver linings

Unfortunately I was unable to finish the Tagaman Triathlon here in Saipan. I started the race, and it was going well, 3rd out of the water after the first lap of the swim. Upon running onto the shore and around the cones, I felt my left calf and hamstring grab. I knew right then, the race would be short for me. I walked back into the water for the second lap and finished the swim, but it would a lonely, frustrated lap for me, as I came to terms with the reality of my situation.

With Ironman Arizona only 4 weeks away, I know I am in for trouble, as it will be very difficult to heal, train and taper properly. I have discussed things with Joe, and we both agree there is too little time to heal and still be ready to go at IMAZ.

I am bummed about this, but I know this brings new opportunities, especially the chance to do well at Ironman Coeur d'Alene, which I did last year. I feel this race provides me the best chance now to qualify for Kona, and be ready in time to still do well on the Big Island.

I love the community of CDA, and will come prepared to do my best!

I am now going to take about 4-5 days off entirely from running and biking, and focus on therapy. The trip to Saipan has been nothing short of AMAZING, and I would highly encourage everyone to visit this island and do these races. WHAT A PLACE!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update from Saipan

Sorry for a lack of updates. I've been very busy with client work, light training, and especially therapy. Unfortunately, on Tuesday I was running and my whole left leg tightened up BAD! I had to stop and walk back to my homestay's. It was a real bummer, and the calf and hamstring were both affected pretty bad. I haven't done much running or biking since, and have only managed some open-water swim sessions. This week was supposed to be 2 really good sessions, plus the race, so I am bummed about that. Not much time until Arizona.

Luckily, Renata Bucher, (top female here), has a good friend here named Allan Collinson, who is a PT in Australia, and he's been working on me each day. He knows his stuff and without him I would be in a world of hurt right now.

Tomorrow is the Tagaman, and the leg has gotten better each day, so we will see how it goes. I am hopeful to finish, but the win will be tough, as Andy Noble is strong right now, and I certainly don't want to risk Ironman Arizona and a possible Kona slot for this race. Joe has already told me to drop out if it even begins to bother me.

Wish me luck though. Race is in about 15 hours.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More photos from XTERRA Saipan

Here's a really cool gallery, showing the race...

XTERRA Saipan Race Report

Well, it’s all over, and wow…2nd place, a bridesmaid in an off-road triathlon again! 3 in Panama, and now in Saipan. I’m very happy to get out of this race with a 2nd place though. Andy Noble was tough, and was willing to take more risk than I was. Honestly, to beat him out there today would have required a lot of risk on my part, definitely more than he took, and that would have been a very poor business decision on my part. With Ironman Arizona coming, the point was to come here, train hard, get in a couple of races, earn some money and enjoy a cool trip. So far, I have accomplished that, and things are still on track for Ironman Arizona.

On Friday, the rain was NON-STOP! From before I woke up in the morning, until I went to bed. It was clear the course would be extremely slippery, and dangerous at times.

Race Day

I was up at 4 AM for breakfast, coffee, stretching and TP Massage Kit work. Everything else was packed and ready to go, and I was at the event by 5:15, ready for the 6:30 AM start. (Yes, this is an early start race, because of the heat!)

My competition for the race would mostly come from Andy Noble of Australia, who is a regular on the US XTERRA circuit, and after the age of 40 a few seasons ago, doesn’t seem to be slowing at all. Other competition would come from a contingent of Japanese pro’s, including the 2007 National Japanese Champion, a pro mountain biker, and another who was coming off of Ironman Malaysia, where he qualified for Kona. I had no idea what to expect from anyone, including myself! I made no decisions as to strategy or plans on the course, other than trying to get a good swim in, thinking Andy and I would probably come out near the front. My hope was this would keep us out of sight and force those behind us to take risks to try and catch-up.

After setting up the transition area, I headed out to the water to warm-up. There was a SUPER STRONG current coming from the north west on the western-facing shore. Lifeguards had a lot of trouble with one of the buoys, and soon the course had to be modified. The race course would now be 3 loops, with a beach run, around 3 buoys, making a small triangle.

The race starts and immediately Andy, a local swimmer on a relay, and I head down the beach to the north and enter, letting the current take us. End of lap one, and the three of us are out front clearly, and trying to catch a wave in. Suddenly I realize we are body surfing and dolphin diving right into a bunch of coral! I nail some of it with hands. Stand up and try to run, grimacing in pain! Lap 2, same thing! Lap 3 and we hit a lot of traffic, and I lose them in it, and for some reason they were able to get a gap on me. I enter T2 as Andy is leaving, and I am off about 20 secs down. I hope on the bike and begin to put on gloves, shoes, and realize my hands and feet are bleeding. Oh well! By the top of the opening climb, I’ve cut it to 9 secs.

The Bike

We start the first trail section on the descent, which lasts about 400 meters, and because of so many dogs, was the only section I hadn’t seen. I see Andy, and suddenly he’s gone! I am frustrated, as I realize I missed a turn. I make a course modification and get back on track. I hop on the bike and hear my saddle torque. Uh-oh. Broken saddle? No. It’s ok, but it definitely moved when I hit a bump and landed hard on it.

At this point I can’t see Andy, and I couldn’t see third place from the top of the climb, so I focus on just keeping a good tempo. The mud wreaks havoc on some of the sections, but the good news is I can see where Andy has chosen his lines, and where he has had to bail!

I keep chasing and look down to notice my saddle-bag is about to fall off. I stop and take it off, stuffing it down from jersey front pocket, (thanks for the trick Craig Evans! I learned that one from you last year at Temecula!) I knew how much trouble the mud was, and with the torqued saddle, I may very well need the bag.

I continue pushing the climb, and begin the single-track descent, which is a MUD-HAVEN! I’m staying upright, until I come to the first drop-off. I make the drop-off, but slide right into the bushes trying to make the turn from it. I laugh as I realize the mud is soft and I could be in for a long day. “That’s 1!” I shout aloud.

Moving on, it’s just much of the same. I think I was up to 4 by the time I got back to the road and doing the next climbs. I get a time check of 3 minutes, and I’m not taking any risks on the wet, paved roads. (Later I would hear from Andy that he went into a skid on the road descent, and wasn’t sure how he didn’t manage to crash hard.) The next time check would be 2:20, meaning I was starting to bring him back a little, but not much. It would require a big meltdown or strong second half from me, with the worst of the muddy, technical portions to come.

I get thru some frustrating sections, some fun sections, some scary ones, and some absolute hilarious ones! All the while, I’m feeling strong, but not really able to go redline very long at all, typical Ironman training. Pushing on, I start to get into my groove and hit the last muddy, technical sections, clearing them, YEHAA! Pick up some speed, and I say to myself, “Wow, look at all those off-camber roots. Hmm, they look wet. This might not be good.” Rear tire washes out, moves in front of me, front tire is now behind me. Land on my right forearm, but it just scrapes the roots. That one hurt a little, but I get back up and realize the damage is just the scrapes on my forearm. COOL!

Back on the bike and hitting it hard to T2. I come in and get what I need. I hear the announcer say Andy’s lead is now 6 mins, and as I am out on the course, I see the Japanese pro-mountain biker come into T2. He split a strong bike, especially for the mud. Later, he would tell me he never went down. Amazing, unless he just walked a lot of sections.

The Run

After seeing the run course with my homestay, I knew I had to push the early, easy parts of the run, as the technical portions would not be a good place to leave the race to be decided.

I am running in a good tempo, a little afraid to push it too hard, for fear of blowing up with the heat and big climbs on the run. I check back, and the gap is definitely opening up. I push on, pushing the tempo up the mountain, head down, and miss a turn…DAMN IT! I end up in a guy’s yard, and am surrounded by these two dogs, and they are NOT HAPPY to see me. They start circling around me and I am now not worried about the race anymore. Luckily the owner comes out and calls them back, while he points to where the trail is for me. I go back the 50 meters I over-shot and am now back on course, but worried I lost my advantage I worked so hard to get, losing over a minute for sure.

Back to hammering the uphill, and all I want to do is push hard! Up the hill and then it’s on to the ridiculous ravine. You have to hop down into it, and then climb your way thru for a few miles, including a cave section, where it’s hard to see, and the ceiling is low. Seriously, I think I may ask Zoot for ice-skates for this race next year, since the rocks were so slippery! Maybe skis.

I make it out of the nearly 2 mile section of craziness, and celebrate with cheers and arms raised! I yell, “I made it! NO FALLS!” I hear, “Good job! Water or Powerade?” I look over and see it’s an aid station worker. Oh yeah, I still have like 2 miles to go!

I finish up the with the hard running downhill section and hit the last 2k on the sandy beach back to American Memorial Park and Micro Beach. I finish strong and come in about 10 mins behind Andy. Oh well, 2nd place, I’ll take it. I made it unscathed!

All in all, a fun race, with a lot of craziness. I will now turn my focus to training and recovery, in time for next Saturday’s Tagaman Triathlon, a 2K-60K-15K road tri.

Wish me luck!


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Photo gallery of XTERRA Saipan

Thought I would share some photos from the local paper on the race...

More to come...


Friday, March 7, 2008

Quick Results for Saipan

The podium

Quick results for those of you wondering...

1. Andy Noble
2. Jim Vance
3. Japanese Pro MTB guy...can't remember his name

1. Renata Bucher (4th Saipan win)
2. Mieko Carrey

More to come...Only have internet for a little bit. Gnarly course though! MUD, MUD, and MORE MUD! I made it through pretty unscathed though!

Check out the mud on the rear triangle. (Yes, the Polar power meter still worked great, despite being covered in mud!)


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday in Saipan

View looking down from Suicide Mountain

After Wednesday's big day, Thursday was a day which would be lighter and easier, but have a harder swim workout.

I started the morning by getting up and having Dawn take me up to the top of the mountain, Mt. Tapoucho, to do the descent I missed on Wednesday. This would only take about 40 minutes, and was perfect, as Wednesday ran long of what it was supposed to.

View of the start of the descent from the top of Mt. Tapoucho

Riding the descent, there were definitely some muddy sections, and then some very tight, finesse sections. It is definitely going to be a fun course! After pre-riding, I made a decision to change the rear tire, as the High Roller was just a little too squirelly on the descents, especially the road sections. I had brought a Larsen TT just in case, but it's not a tubeless. I took the 986 over to Bike Pro, and met Rommy, the local mechanic. He worked on the bike, while I went to check out more of the island with Dawn, and Renate Bucher, (3-time XTERRA Saipan winner), and her friend Allan.

Dawn showed us some of the cool memorial places, including Suicide Mountain, Bonzai cliff, and the Grotto. Here's some cool photos...
Bonzai Cliff

Suicide Mountain

The Grotto - a popular dive spot. It's like a cave you swim in, and the light spot you see in the back is open ocean.

After a little fun at the Grotto, we hit the pool for a workout. I had some sets of 5x100, in the 50-meter pool, and enjoyed the salt water. Yes, the pool is salt water. The water out of the tap here in Saipan is salt water, so that's how the pool is.

From the pool, it was off to Wild Bills Bar and Grill for some eats, (it's actually much healthier than it sounds!) I had some veggies and things, and then went for a massage. Massages have been interesting here, as they are not like in the mainland. This time I had a Thai massage, and wow...the little Thai woman beat the crap out of me! She contorted my body in all directions, was standing on my hamstrings, everything! It was crazy!

After that it was off to the street market, where I tasted some local cuisine and watched a dance-off between a trio of Phillipino kids and Japanese kids. It was pretty cool to see how the Phillipino kids were very much about power and displays of strength, with handstands, and crazy stuff. The Japanese were very technical and fast with their movements, and at times I was just shaking my head with what I saw.

After that it was home and to bed. Up early in the morning for a jog of the tough part of the run course with my homestay John. Stay tuned, I plan on bringing the camera.


Wednesday in Saipan

My plane landed in Saipan, at about 1 AM, and my homestay Dawn was gracious enough to pick me up at that crazy hour! Her husband John had to get up early in the morning to go on a day-long fishing trip, so she was solo. It was a good thing too, because I was traveling with a double bike case, new Zoot travel bag, (which is AWESOME!), Zoot backpack, and a wheel bag since the 4 wheels couldn't fit into the box!

I got up early on Wednesday morning, and headed out for a two hour run to start the day. Of course, it is HOT AS HECK here, so this run was going to be a challenge. I started off conservative and it was a good idea! My heartrate was elevated quite a bit, right from the start. I was struggling from the travel, lack of sleep and the heat.

I was able to complete the two hours, thanks to carrying a water bottle, (first time I've ever done that), and made a stop at half-way at a store for water. I finished my run down by an area called "The Tank", where some old World War II Japanese tanks are out in the water, and people swim around or to them. I hopped in the water for an easy 15 mins of floating, and easy swimming. I couldn't believe how warm the water was. Seriously, it was almost bath temperature!

I got in some recovery foods, and headed out for an easy ride, (well, it was supposed to be). I decided to pre-ride some of the XTERRA bike course, and wow...that's about all I have to say about that. I'll let some of these pictures do the talking...

This is a view from early in the course. The island you see is Managaha.

Another view...Same cliff...

Plenty more to come...Just settling in still. Check out my training log for more details. Looks like rain for the race.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Airport fun

I am sitting in the Tokyo airport, Narita, and just did something which I've never seen done before in an airport, and would explain the strange stares...In between emails, I dropped to the floor and started pounding out push-ups and sit-ups, 100 and 250.

Finally, I feel like I did something worthwhile today. Now stretching and TP massage kit until I get on the final flight, to Saipan, which is another 4 hours plus.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Always a last minute rush...

It seems no matter how hard I try, no matter how far in advance I plan and start packing, everything is chaos the night before I leave. DAMN IT!

Leaving for 2 weeks in the AM, and have to plan for every possible scenario, such as bags getting lost, late or whatever. I will still be training my butt off in this new place, along with the 2 races, so I have bring all sorts of nutrition for rides, races, clothes, spare tires, tools, sunscreen, everything. This doesn't even take into account the 2 bikes! Man, it's crazy.

I hope to be able to get internet access and take lots of pictures and even video. Stay tuned to this blog for plenty of updates on the cool things from this trip, (I hope).