Extra Life Triathlon Fitness

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Next Steps - A Christmas and New Years Message

Christmas in Salt Lake City. A winter wonderland

As I mentioned in a previous post, I always love this time of year. The lights, the crisp air, the generally more pleasant attitude coming from everyone (while there may be some exceptions of course). The culmination of the holiday season, Christmas Day, is not necessarily my favorite day of the season. More so is the lead up to Christmas, when goodwill is at the forefront of our minds, and we are more frequently aware of the grace we are offered by God. At least this is true for me, especially in more recent years. Giving gifts is great, but it's the empowerment of the soul and the rejuvenation of the spirit which make this holiday special. As the Grinch himself expressed:

"'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!'"

We've all heard pontifications on "the True Meaning of Christmas", so I won't wax on. However, I will say that it is fitting that Christmas falls at the very end of the calendar year. If we choose it to be, we can make it a celebration for the blessings we have received over the course of the year. A chance to reflect on what we have achieved, and prepare our positive attitudes for blessings to come in the next year, beginning a week later.

I, myself have been profoundly blessed. Blessed to have a wonderful family, blessed to have another year of sobriety, blessed to be healthy, blessed to be motivated to perform at my absolute best, and blessed to have been given the opportunity to set an example for others, including my family.

Early in 2013 I was struck with an insane, uncharacteristic, and seemingly impossible idea. With my arm in a sling, and a gut hanging over my sweat pants, I somehow had the motivation to do an Ironman triathlon. Somewhat of a "New Year's Resolution". I had never swam any significant distance, didn't own a bike, let alone know how to ride a road bike, and the chronic abuse of my lungs and liver made the idea of participating in any endurance sport a laughable proposition. However, the idea struck me with such force that I had no doubt that I would achieve it, and I went about planning for success.

A few months ago I wrote an article in for MindBodyGreen called Stop Abandoning Your Goals! In it I advised people to set smaller, more easily achievable goals as milestones to the greater goal. That would make the greater goal more easily achievable. This was part of my "success plan", to create incremental goals leading to the bigger one. I signed up for Ironman Los Cabos set to take place on March 30, 2014, and then signed up for a number of shorter triathlons leading up to that date. Sure enough, eating a healthy diet and following a strict training plan, I was able to complete two sprint triathlons during the summer, where I was able to gain confidence in open water swimming, and get a feel for the race. Then I finished an Olympic distance triathlon, to get used to racing for multiple hours. Finally, a couple weeks ago, I completed a half Ironman. A far cry from the injured and unhealthy person dreaming at the beginning of the year.

So now after completing those distances, while still a significant challenge, the actual Ironman triathlon does not seem as formidable. It is just the next step. And with three months to go before the race, it's the final stretch of training, so it's getting real.

I know that was a long way from the original message of this post, but it brings us around from reflecting on the past year to how we can look forward to the next. I will no longer look forward to unfulfilled dreams and empty promises. I will continue to dream big and create a road map for achievement.

So this year, as you consider your New Year's resolutions, consider this. Dream big this year. Despite what you tell yourself, you can achieve it. To get there, just take the next step. Set smaller goals to propel you forward. Finally, have a very Merry Christmas, reminiscing on the blessings of the previous year. And may God grace you with a prosperous and dream-fulfilling New Year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 HITS Triathlon Race Report - Half Ironman

Lake Cahuilla, where the swim would take place
My first impression upon signing up for the HITS Half Ironman Triathlon was that, as a first exposure to real distance, this was going to be about as easy as it could get. The desert is pancake flat (which means no extra energy required to power over hills), the bike course was straight with only a few turns, and in previous years the field had been small. Needless to say, as other challenging factors came into play, my initial impressions became more and more inaccurate.

Overall I was not disappointed with this race at all. For the price of admission (which is significantly less than other similar distance triathlons), we enjoyed a fantastic race, and a great first experience with this distance which left me wanting to do this distance again... maybe after a bit of rest. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. Many of the reports I read from previous years described it as limited in support, with few aid stations, little direction, and sparse porta-potties, but for the most part they received a positive reaction. Besides, I'm relatively low maintenance when it comes to these events, so I didn't need much in the way of frills.

The week leading up to the race I had a couple of priorities. The first was to avoid getting sick at all costs. 'Tis the season to be fluey, and I did my best to quarantine myself from kids and coworkers had any symptoms of nasty things, and thoroughly bathe myself in sanitizer. Second, I checked the weather report every day, and every day the outlook looked more ominous. Apparently, Canada was attacking the United States with arctic air, and the desert was not safe. At the beginning of December, Palm Springs could be either 80 degrees during the day or 50 degrees during the day. I had planned for the former but it became apparent that it would be the latter. This was the first indication that it may not be as easy as I expected.

We arrived the day before the race to attend the expo and packet pickup, and I caught the pre-race meeting. Apparently, the half was sold out (550 participants), and the full was nearly 200 athletes. This was bigger than previous years from what I had heard. Further more, they would be tightening up the swim course to be very close to shore and two laps (four for the full). This would make the swim very crowded. The second indication that this may be more challenging than I expected. We checked into our room at the Embassy Suites, and were immediately upgraded to a condo, which was great because we now had a kitchen, and didn't have to go to a restaurant to eat. We would be able to go to the store and have control over our pre-race meal. That's exactly what we did, and I had my typical eggs, rice, and black beans, plus an apple and almond butter for dessert. Then it was off to bed to stare at the ceiling fan for a few hours before heading off to the race.

Transition Area
I arrived at the race venue around 5 am and set up my gear and get a good warm up before the race. The transition area is truly fantastic, with our own large area and stool. No chance for interference by other people's equipment, knocking bikes over, etc. It was cold during setup, below 40 degrees, and a lot of spaces remained empty which meant there may be a sizable DNS (did not start) rate.

After I set everything up, I got my wetsuit on and ventured down to the water. after taking my socks off, my feet went numb. Walking down, I could feel sharp pebbles on my feet only by the inconsistency in my balance. I was just hoping that I didn't rip my feet open before the race start. Even though the water was in the 50s, it helped my feet warm up a bit, but submerging my head gave me an imediate ice cream headache which lasted the entire warm up. I had trouble keeping my face submerged for any significant amount of time, and I worried that I wouldn't be able to swim effectively. However, after about 10-15 minutes, I became used to the water (only to have to get out for about 10 prior to race start). 


The swim start was a bit unorganized, as I didn't hear any signal to start, but people just started swimming. I was caught sort of in the back of the start pack, which was a bit unfortunate because the first leg of the swim was very narrow, and everyone bottlenecked into about a 15-20 yard lane between the shore and the buoy markers (about 5-10 yards of which were 3 feet or less of water). I was not able to make much headway or pass anyone during the first 500 yards of the race, and had to settle for floating down what could only be described as a chaotic "lazy river" of thrashing arms and legs. A good portion of the field was literally walking the first 1/4 of the race, which was entertaining to watch. Finally around the far buoy it opened up a little bit, but it was still quite congested. Due to restrictions with water craft in this lake, they were forced to squeeze 500 athletes through the narrow lanes for two laps (4 laps for the full). I had no open water or ability to pass until the last 3/4 of the swim. Even though my swim was slow, the bright side is I was very fresh for the bike and run (although very cold).

Running out of the water, I was able to see my family (parents, wife, sister, & brother in law). While I tried to look heroic, I was trying to run on cold legs, and ended up instead nearly falling over a woman who was picking up her goggles. I proceeded to run up the grass to the transition area once again feeling the sensation of rocks poking through my feet.

Swim Time: 38:27, 181st out of water

Transition 1:

I had planned on fully changing clothes during the first transition so that I could be warm and dry, thus I knew I would take a bit more time than usual. I figured everyone else would be doing the same, and I wasn't wrong. I also knew that this would cost me more time, perhaps a few more seconds while I threw on an extra couple layers and gloves. What I failed to anticipate was the effect of the cold on my body at that point. Getting out of the water I was mostly numb, and if anybody has ever tried practicing dexterity in the cold, you know how difficult it can be. I felt like I was trying to guide someone else's hands, and they weren't being very cooperative. When I arrived, I saw another person already sitting in transition next to me. My feeling was that as long as I could get out before him I would be okay. Nearly 7 minutes, and three layers of clothing later, and I had achieved my small goal of getting out before him.

T1 Time: 6:39


One thing that I was worried about, especially since my experience in Oceanside, was that I would become too cold on the bike. I have been doing whatever I can to acclimate to heat given my Ironman attempt in March, so I am not very well prepared for cold. The only other thing I was concerned for was the wind. It was expected that at some point during the day (likely the afternoon) the winds would pick up to 20 mph+. Fortunately, my wardrobe plan was successful and I was only numb in my feet. Gradually, however, my feeling came back even there and I don't recall ever being uncomfortable on the bike. Now it was up to my fitness and my nutrition to take over so that I could win the race against the weather turning bad.

For my nutrition I was going to keep it very simple: a blend of sugars and salts mixed into my aero drink to the tune of about 1400 calories. That was calculated for a three hour bike, and was more than the typical 400 calories I usually take in (but I figured I would be exerting more energy over the course of the ride). In retrospect, I think it was a bit too much, but at least it wasn't too little.

I felt great on the bike. Early on there was no significant wind, and the weather was nice. I was so far back on the swim that I didn't get passed at all on the bike. In fact, I must have passed 100 to 120 people. The course was flat and straight, so it was fairly easy to gauge my output. My heart rate stayed just around the mid 140's, unless I had passed someone, but never ventured past 150 or so. At only one point did I have to slow down significantly because a big-rig was on the road and was unwilling to pass the other racers. I don't blame him, of course, as it could be a very dangerous situation. Fortunately this only lasted a couple minutes and I was back to race pace. The only other time I slowed briefly was to pee. This was the first time I have peed on the bike in a race, and I'm abnormally proud that I could pull it off without shame. I will say that it will be much easier when hills play a role, as I had to keep pedaling a bit to keep momentum up.

As I approached the last turn back toward transition, it was at that point I could feel the wind starting to pick up. It slowed me down a bit, but I was able to climb into transition successfully and at a personal best for that distance.

Bike Time: 2:36:25; 21.54 mph avg.; 26th/394

Transition 2

T2 was relatively uneventful. I got in there and changed my shirt, put on my fuel belt, hat, and shoes and was on my way. I took a quick pit stop at the porta potty (since peeing while running is something I have not yet mastered, nor will I ever), which proved unfortunate for the person coming up behind me. Since there was only one at the exit, he had to wait for me.

T2 Time: 3:07


Immediately when I got on my feet I began to feel the effects of taking in too many calories on the bike. Nutrition is a balance in any race: Take in too little and you risk falling apart. Take in too much and you risk significant gastro-intestinal problems. I was subject to the latter. I could already feel the cramping coming on, and I didn't feel much like drinking any more. Unfortunately, water would still be required on the run. I heavily considered puking during the first part of the run to open up some room, but decided against it as long as I could hold up sub 8 minute miles.

That I did for most of the run. My ultimate goal was to run 7:30 for the full half marathon, and I was successful for the first few miles. At that point I started feeling a bit fatigued and had a couple miles over 8. At the turnaround, I began feeling better and started resuming my earlier pace. I had a quick realization during the run that my bike fitness was much better than my run fitness, as I was immediately passed by a few very fast runners. However, toward the second half of the run I began passing quite a few people (I think I picked up 10-15 spots on the run).

Down the road I could see the stoplight where we would make the turn toward the finish and I began to push my pace a bit. I was about to finish 70.3 miles of triathlon for the very first time, and cross one more milestone toward 140.6. My goal was to go sub 5 hours, and I didn't know where I was at at this point and I didn't much care. I just wanted to finish, and was happy that I was about to.

Arriving at the stoplight I had a horrible realization. The final turn toward the finish was not at a stoplight, it was at a stop sign. I had an extra half mile to go before I made that turn (and then about a mile after that). Already a bit demoralized, I saw a big wall of dust in front of me which seemed to be travelling very quickly to the East. The wind had arrived just in time for my race finish. As I rounded the corner toward the last mile and a half of race I headed directly into the wind, which was gusting at over 20 mph. Looking to my left I realized how good my situation was. Some people were just finishing the bike. Others who were doing the full triathlon, had hours of biking left to go, and then a marathon. Remembering that it's all about perspective and keeping things positive, I put my head down and pushed on. It was time to finish strong.

Just after noon, I crossed the finish line. Official time was 5:04:36. While I didn't beat 5 hours, I came pretty dang close, and I had a fantastic race. Taking into consideration that it was exceptionally cold and a bit windy, I'm happy with the result. It was good enough for 7th in my age group (out of 43), and 32nd overall (out of 394). Additionally, I beat my personal best half marathon by over 10 minutes, even with the cramping, wind, and cold.

Run Time: 1:39:56; 7:38/mile; 35th/394 for the run

Overall I'm ecstatic about finishing this race. Regardless of the time it took to do it (and about 5 hours is pretty good), I was able to successfully complete the distance; 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, and 13.1 miles of running. A more miraculous feat came from the 73 athletes who completed the full Iron distance triathlon that day. The DNF rate was likely greater than 50%, as heavy winds hit right at the halfway point. They would also race into the night where temperatures would drop into the 40s. Putting this into perspective, I started at the same time as them (7 am), finished at about noon, hung around for about an hour, drove 140 miles to get home (stopping for lunch), had a long bath, got dressed, drove to Anaheim for a company Christmas party, drove back home, and went to bed. As I lay in bed, having no trouble falling asleep, people were still on the course finishing the full.

Right after I finished the race, my Mom asked me if I was ready to do a full. At that moment thinking about doing a full made the contents of my stomach want to take a trip upward and outward. However, it really is about mental preparation. I was thoroughly prepared for a 70.3 this day, and mentally I was conditioned for it. In a little over 3 months time, I will be thoroughly prepared for 140.6, and I will spend the majority of that time mentally conditioning myself for that. Ask me again in three months. I'll be ready.

It's been a little over a week now and it's settling in exactly what was accomplished. Less than a year ago I couldn't bike, could barely swim a few laps, and hadn't run much in the previous year. A few months of training later and I've completed a half Ironman. Next stop, Los Cabos. But first, a couple weeks of rest until Christmas, and then the buildup begins.

On the drive home we saw a full rainbow... in the desert. It was raining hard and the wind was blowing hard. In about a half hour this weather would reach La Qunita where it would hit athletes doing the full.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Taper to First "A" Race - HITS Palm Springs Half Iron Triathlon

We're a little less than a week out from my last race of the season, which I have considered my "A" race - the race I have trained for this season. It is strange to think of this as a primary race, when I still consider it a warm up to the full Ironman in Cabo San Lucas. It is also strange to think of this as the last race of the season when it is only three and a half months until my next "A" race. However, it helps me to think that there is a break between the two so I can catch my breath and get ready for some more intense training volume.

While these things are strange to me, it is also fitting that The HITS Palm Springs Half Iron Triathlon be an "A" race, as it is my first attempt at this distance (half a full Ironman, at 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a half marathon). It also happens at the beginning of December, right before Christmas, at which time I fully intend to briefly break away from my strict diet and indulge in the culinary delights of the holidays, including Christmas cookies, chocolate, and figgy pudding (whatever the heck that is, but I'm sure not leaving until I get some!). Moderation is key, of course, and as soon as Santa tucks himself in for his long Winter nap, I'll be back on course for my plan leading up to Cabo.

But back to this race. With less than one week to go, I am in full taper mode, and have been for about a week and a half now. I did a bit of a warm up at about the same distance on Thanksgiving day and felt really good. I can say at this point, barring any sickness or injury between now and then, that I am completely ready for this event.

The swim will take place in a reservoir, which will be a new experience for me since I've never swam in anyone's drinking water before. It's also quite possible that the water can be very cold. Last year it was in the high 50's. The bike and run will be very flat and at or below sea level, so it should be relatively easy to pace. The only challenges are that the weather and wind can be unpredictable. In the desert it could be very cold or very hot. I've planned for very hot, because I can always add layers if it gets cold. When the weather changes, so to does the wind, and it could be pretty brutal. We'll see how it shakes out.

It's amazing to think that after I finish this race, I am only a few short months away for the main event of this journey that I began almost a year ago. To think of where I came from and where I am now is amazing. I look forward to posting a race report next week, and beginning the next leg of this journey. Until then.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Leading up to Thanksgiving, many people begin to talk about what they are thankful for. While it may seem cliche, I wanted to talk about what I am grateful for in my life. It seems that during the holidays many people force themselves to express what they are thankful for. But should we really have to force gratitude? Furthermore, why should we confine our expression of gratitude to just one holiday? Gratitude should be something we focus on year round. In fact, I try not save this gratitude for one day out of the year, I try to focus on it every day. It's how I start and end my day.

One of the reasons I love the holiday season is because, starting in mid-November, people begin to prime themselves with the mindset of thankfulness. That collectively changes the mentality and compounds the effects of positive thinking. If you're willing, it's easy to cultivate a positive attitude during the holidays through gratitude (again, if you're willing). The challenge is making this attitude of gratitude last throughout the year.
One of the hardest things for me to do during the day is wake up (or be woken up) and leave the peaceful comfort of the bed with a positive attitude. I don't care how hard I try, I will never wake up with an immediate spring in my step and cartoon bluebirds singing on my shoulder. Instead my first desire becomes to through my alarm clock through the first solid object I see and get back to bed. However, with that attitude present first thing in the morning, it begins an upward battle to change my perspective on what the rest of the day will bring. One of the ways I thwart this and reinforce a positive attitude for the day is to immediately begin listing ways in which I am grateful, either in prayer or meditation. I try to visualize clearly this gratitude as it enters my mind, thus drowning out any negativity or clutter that may exist. It's always beneficial to revisit this list once more before bed time. 
Unfortunately, while a lot of gratitude exists around the holidays, so too does negativity and stress. But don't be absorbed by negativity, instead be the tip of the spear for gratitude! If you actively practice gratitude daily and cultivate a positive attitude, you will find yourself attracting the positive and blocking the negative. Furthermore, you can bring a little holiday joy to the rest of the world all year long. 
There is no doubt that a positive attitude is contagious, and there is no better way to spread good will than to lift up other people in your life. So with that in mind, I'll share my "top 10" gratitude list with hopes that some of it may rub off!.

I am grateful for...

1. My family and friends, who have supported me immensely despite my insanity. The number of people in my life who say "go for it!" far outweigh, and therefore drown out, the people who say "you can't".
2. My wife who, in addition to practicing what's listed in #1, will additionally kick my butt into gear and find new ways to encourage me and others.
3. My kids who inspire me much more than I would hope to inspire them.
4. The fact that unhealthy obsessions and compulsions - such as drinking, smoking, or eating copious amounts of refined sugar - are no longer with me, and that today I can enjoy life without these things much more than I did with them. 
5. God's grace. There is no doubt that today I live in unmerited favor. On a daily basis I want to do my best to glorify Him rather than myself.
6. My willingness to seek out the positive and inspiring rather than be consumed by the negative. 
7. Freedom.
8. The ability to provide a warm, safe environment for my family.
9. That I have the opportunity to practice a healthy lifestyle on a body which I had previously squandered. I am fortunate to be able to find absolute joy and peace in discovering fitness and health.
10. That today I am relieved of anxiety, depression, and discouragement.

Additionally, I am grateful to all of you who have taken the time to follow me here and read this little blog. I enjoy doing it, and hearing the feedback. Have a very happy and grateful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Image by Larry Maurer
This is Chrissie Wellington. Yes, she's smiling. She hasn't won (yet). Heck, she hasn't even finished. She's still on the bike, which tells us she's somewhere between a 2.4 mile swim and a full marathon. Not a lot of people would be smiling at that point! It seems to me that she is aware of something very important that a lot of people ignore; it is just as important to enjoy the journey, not just the finish. This understanding is clearly reflected in her attitude, and she wears it proudly on her face in the form of a smile.

Wellington ended up winning the Ironman World Championships 4 times, and held world records for her finish times (and likely world records for smiling in some capacity).

At some point during the process of taking a dramatic leap into a personal challenge, the enthusiasm begins to wane just as our perception of the difficulty of the challenge becomes more apparent. The exercise of working toward a goal becomes mundane, and we struggle to find motivation, to wake up early, to put in the required work, or even remember why it is we are pursuing this goal in the first place. We forget to smile through the journey, and our results and motivation suffer.

I have found myself in this very spot recently. Training has become more difficult, as I begin to get into more speed work, longer swims, and earlier mornings. I found I was just going through the motions, but not becoming very motivated. I needed to step back and remember why I am working so hard. I want to set an example. To show that great joy can be found by honestly sharing your story and being in service to others. That joy can also be found in challenging yourself and following through. Yes, the training is hard work, but it is necessary work to experience the joy of the accomplishment. And joy is worth smiling about.

I decided to do just that this past weekend during my long run. I would try to maintain a smile for the entire 2 hour run, and see how I felt during and after. First thoughts? I felt absolutely ridiculous. I knew that everyone would be looking at me and wondering why this creepo had a wild ear to ear smile on his face. Further, it felt forced. It's not easy to smile while you're working out. That is serious business, of course!

However, as I drove on and kept forcing that smile, something magical began to happen. I began feeling a new level of joy with what I was doing. I naturally began thinking positive thoughts, rather than the typical thoughts I have, such as "I wish my pace were better," or "man, am I tired!". Gratitude began to naturally sink in, and I just felt thankful that I could be out on safe road on a sunny day with two working legs. The people I thought would be looking at me as creepy instead smiled back and often waved hello. The smile became part of my attitude, and was clearly affecting others as well. It was truly therapeutic. Ms. Wellington is definitely on to something!

That long run became my longest to date, at a little over 16 miles, and my pace was much better than expected. I ran this experiment on my next two runs as well, and one of them became my fastest hill workout. Likely this was a coincidence, as I don't think smiling actually made me faster, but I do think it affects performance to some extent, as well as ongoing attitude. Exercise could be a form of meditation, and if you are happy and at peace during meditation, that peace continues throughout the day. At the very least I find myself feeling more joyful and positive throughout the day. I am also confident that over time I will be able to perform better because the attitude is already shaped toward success.

I have talked about how listening to your body is important to physical and mental fitness. If you monitor your heart rate you can have more success at burning fat, becoming more fit, and becoming healthier. I now believe that a smile can be the return feedback you are giving your body. When you smile, you may just be telling your body "I am enjoying this activity and the results it offers. Let's keep it up!" You're body will abide.

Upon seeing Chrissie Wellington smiling during an Ironman race for the first time, I thought she must be crazy. Now I think I get it, and I'm buying what she's selling. I would highly recommend to anyone, in an effort to reinvigorate your activities and bring life back into your passion, to force a smile. I am confident that eventually it will become natural, when you once again begin to experience the joy of your accomplishments.

Until next time, have a nice day!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oceanside Triathlon Race Report

It's taken me a good part of this week to defrost my body and brain after the Oceanside Triathlon, so I haven't had a chance until now to actually write a race report. I do have to say though that the recovery period at the beginning of this week was very welcome, especially after a very competitive and frigid race. Yes, the extended warm summer ended just in time for this race, and the result was an eerie, cold, and somewhat sketchy (by no fault of the race directors, but I'll get into that).

There are some pros and cons to doing an inaugural race, the pros being that they may typically be less crowded. That was the case this day, as only about 250 age groupers were racing. This would give us a lot of room to run our own race. The cons include poor preparedness, lack of knowledge of the course, and general first year glitches. This was not the case with Lifetime Tri, as they put on a great show with great support, and it seemed like they had been running this race for years.

The one thing I noticed immediately while getting ready in transition was the incredible amount of fitness everyone had. There were some very serious athletes in this group of 250, and it was sure to be a very competitive race. I was becoming worried that I may finish last in this race, but then I reminded myself that it didn't really matter. I was here to race for myself and beat my own expectations, which at this point was break 2:30 and feel happy with the effort.

I was well aware that the morning would be cold, and it didn't disappoint. As we readied ourselves in T2, the temperature read 48 degrees. However, once the sun rises it is anyone's guess as to how the temperature will swing. It could heat up dramatically, it could stay cool, or we could be buried in a cold, soggy layer of fog. As the sun rose and the pros started their race, it appeared we were in the clear and we would have a sunny race.

Swim Start Oceanside Triathlon. Courtesy of Lifetime Tri


After the pros and the elites were on their way and racing for $50,000, it was our turn to get in the water. The swim followed the same route as the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside  Triathlon, which takes place in the Oceanside harbor, going down the channel and back toward the boat launch. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed a warm up in the water because of the general "corral" type of swim entrance, which was concerning to me. It always takes me a few minutes to get comfortable swimming in the open water, and a warm up would have helped me to start my race in a good place. Fortunately, the water was a comfortable 65 degrees and I decided to take it slow at the beginning and warm up that way. I figured everyone else was doing the same thing. 

No sooner than we got in the water did a blanket of thick fog begin to sit on us. We had no sights on the buoys, and thus no point of reference with which direction to swim. Once the horn went off, we all just started swimming in the general direction we thought we needed to go. The race got an eerie start, and I was going on faith that the swimmers in front of me were going in the right direction. Occasionally we would pass a lifeguard who was pointing in the direction we were going, but how could we be sure that they knew where they were directing us? Perhaps they were just pointing in that direction because we happened to be going that way. If this swim was in the open ocean I would be worried, but we were in a harbor, so we were bound to bounce off of something eventually if we got lost. 

I was able to draft off of the lead group for about 2/3 of the race, which served two purposes. First, it conserved my energy and helped me to go faster, and second, it helped me to use them as my eyes. Occasionally I would hear one of them say "which way are we going?", but I'd let them figure it out and continue drafting. The strange thing about swimming in heavy fog without any sighting is that you have no clue how far you have swam and how far you have yet to go. You just keep swimming until someone points you around a turn buoy. I had never known until this point how beneficial it is mentally to actually have points of reference, otherwise you feel like you're going nowhere!

During the final stretch I lost the feet of the group ahead of me and they pulled away rather quickly at that point. I then discovered that I was leading my own pack of swimmers who was drafting off of me. That was a first!

As I exited the water, I felt happy to be done with the swim, but still felt very disoriented, and thus forgot to take my wetsuit down to my waist (which lost me a lot of time in transition). At this point I had no idea where I stood in placement, so I was rushing quite a bit. I would learn later that I was 7th out of the water in my age group (out of 25).

Official Swim Time - 28:36 (1:45/100 yds)*
* My Garmin measured the distance at exactly one mile, which is longer than 1500 meters

Transition 1

Out of the water and up a boat launch ramp. I was able to take my goggles and cap off, but completely forgot to take down my wetsuit. As I reached my bike, I realized my error and started frantically peeling it away. It's always tough to get it over my wrist watch, which cost my precious extra seconds. By the time I got my wetsuit off I was disoriented and trying to remember what needed to be done next. I finally got my nutrition in my pockets, helmet on, and then I remembered to put everything in my wet bag (to be brought back to transition 2 after the race). I looked at my arm warmers and thought to myself that I better save the time and keep them off. Big mistake! I threw them into my wet bag and went on my way.

Time - 3:14... Ouch!


Photo courtesy of Lifetime Tri
This is about what it looked like exiting T1, into a thick layer of fog which became worse as we got onto the highway. We were warned that the beginning part of this race was bumpy with some precarious turns leading out to Highway 76, so we were advised not to start racing until we reached the highway. I followed that advice, and as a result was passed by a few people on the way out. But we had 25 miles to go, so I was fine with that. 

A few turns to get out of the harbor, and then onto PCH for about a quarter mile, then a left turn onto the highway were I would spend the next hour or so battling cold and fog. The initial part of the bike I was comfortable, and not terribly cold, but as I started to pick up speed it was clear the cold air was going to be painful. The air itself was not necessarily cold, but the condensation in the air would stick to my skin and form little droplets all over my exposed arms, legs, and face which, when hit by 20 mph steady winds, would freeze the skin. "Oh well," I thought. Everyone else was dressed the same way as me, but the faster we would go, the more we would be punished. Now it became a battle of who could withstand the most pain.

As far as my pace, it felt effortless, and I wasn't nearly exceeding my race heart rate. In fact, the strain I was feeling was directly related to the cold, and not my effort, which was a strange sensation - the feeling that I could easily go harder but my muscles weren't cooperating as well as they otherwise would have. Once on the highway I was averaging about 22-23 miles per hour, and I was passing a number of racers. Also, I was being passed by a number of pros going into their second lap. This was a clear demonstration of the fitness gap between pro and amateur in this sport.

The second lap became a lot more crowded, and I was a lot more cold, so I decided to settle in behind a group of racers that were going about my speed. Rather than pass them and use up excess energy, I decided to conserve it for the run and defrost a little. Besides, getting out in front in the fog is not a preferred position. If a rider went down ahead of us, we wouldn't be able to see it in time to stop. Back onto PCH and into the pier area, I was happy to be off the bike and ready for a run.

Time - 1:08:55, 4th place in age group
Avg Speed - 21.6 mph
Garmin profile - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/393348542
Nutrition - 250 calories of Carbo Pro plus 2 homemade oat/honey/almond butter clusters.

Transition 2

I had more trouble in T2 because my fingers were numb, and I couldn't easily grab things or put my shoes on. Finally did, and was out on the run course.

Time - 1:47


My goal on the run was to do my sprint pace at the Olympic distance. This would come out to about a 7 minute mile, a pace that has proven just out of reach in recent races. Unfortunately, nature called at the beginning of the run, and I had to hit the porta potty. I still haven't been able to bring myself to pee on the bike, which will become necessary as I get into the longer distances. This is more of a psychological issue than anything, as we spend our whole lives doing everything we can not to pee on ourselves. This is one of those rare exceptions which is made worse by the fact that you are working at an increased intensity.

Quick 20 seconds in the bathroom and I was off again. I was still having strange sensations while running, due to being numb all over, but not necessarily being tired. I kept trying to push through and warm myself up. Soon I was having a few GI issues. Again, I just powered through and kept going.

The course was mostly flat, but mixed in were a few short, killer hills. The strand connects to Pacific Avenue via a very steep climb, which was really challenging. Once I ran up the hill for the last time, I hit the gas and started running sub 7 miles. I felt great going into the finish and was able to finish in a full sprint. While my pace wasn't what I wanted it to be, I felt that I did my best given the conditions.

Time - 45:18
Pace - 7:18/mile


Total Time - 2:27:51
Place - 7th Age Group (30-34 out of 25), 58th overall (out of 232)

I am absolutely happy with my finish at this first Olympic distance effort. My goal was to finish in under 2.5 hours, and I did so in 2:27. After less than a year of putting in smart exercise and healthy diet, I have been able to maintain a front of pack performance on a 2.5 hour triathlon. When I think back to when I started training back in February, and how weak, slow, and unfit I was, I am amazed with the improvements I have made. My pace back then was just under 12 minute miles, yet I was patient and gradually it improved. I am now more motivated than ever to keep training for the longer distances.

Speaking of longer distances, I now head into the more "ultra" range of triathlon. My next race is a half Ironman distance in Palm Springs in December, the HITS Triathlon. After that race, I will be preparing for the full Ironman in March. Things are getting real now. We are only a few short months away, and we are getting into some long distance now. I am actually looking forward to that, as I want to be at the more steady paces, not the fast paces I have been at. I'm ready to show that I can pace myself and do the distance.

As I mentioned, Lifetime put on a great show, and I would love to do another one of their events in the future. Within a few minutes of the race finishing, the sun finally came out and it became a beautiful day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oceanside Triathlon Pre-Race

Ah... the wonder of the pre-race taper. There is no greater joy than building up to high volume workouts of 20+ hour weeks only to taper off leading up to a race. To look at your workout schedule and see a single easy workout followed by a day of rest is a thing of beauty. Many people ignore the taper and go hard through to the day of the race. Others feel uncomfortable significantly backing off their workouts for fear that they won't be race ready.

Oh, but not I. I fully embrace the taper. It may be the subdued lazy ass in me, but after weeks of heavy volume, I am fully willing to take a few rest days. I am running on faith that allowing the body and mind to rest will give me fresher legs for the race. I firmly believe that rest is just as important as work when it comes to proper training. It is truly about finding that balance.

With the Oceanside Triathlon coming up this weekend, I am in the middle of my first taper since I began training. This one is somewhat of a "mini" taper, as it only lasts a week (I will do a full 3 week taper leading up to my half iron distance in December). Once again, I am keeping my expectations low for this race, as it is my first olympic distance triathlon (1500 meter swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run). I have no doubt I can do the distance, but it's about how I pace it, and that's what I want to practice. For me this will be a trial run toward the longer distances in how I manage my pacing, my nutrition, and my patience. I plan to employ my plan from Long beach, which is to go out hard on the swim, conservative on the bike, and then as hard as I can on the run. If I can still be fresh after the swim and bike to run a good 10K I will know my fitness is good enough to handle a half Ironman.

This should be a fun race, and I'm glad I found out about it. Being that it is an inaugural event, there may be some organization issues, but it's being put on by Lifetime Sports, which is hosting this as the championship event for their triple crown. Since it's the first year they are hosting it, it's hard to know what to expect. Will it be challenging? How many competitors will there be? How is the support? I will have to be open minded about this one.

If you'd like to come down and check it out, we will be starting out at Oceanside Harbor at around 7 am, and we'll be finishing at the Oceanside Pier by around 9-10 am.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Big Show on the Big Island

All too often we use the "Superbowl" to describe an event  which marks the apex of that particular pursuit. A culmination of hard work paying off in the form of a championship event. "It was the Superbowl of Texas Hold 'em tournaments", or "this chili cookoff is like the Superbowl of all semi-outdoor culinary events". Some people describe the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in much the same way. However, I would argue that while it is a "championship" (and pros and top age-groupers treat it that way), for many I have read about it is a celebration of an achievement. The act of getting to Kona was the achievement in and of itself. For the vast majority of the people racing, they had to qualify at a previous Ironman event and place at the top of their age group. The championship race is the capstone to that achievement.

Courtesy of Ironman.com

The Ironman World Championships are taking place Saturday, October 12, and I would recommend tuning in. I have not had the privilege to have qualified or raced in this event, although I hope to one day, but it seems clear that "celebration" is what this week is all about. And rightfully so! The people that are there have accomplished an extraordinary feat. Not only did these athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a marathon, they did so faster than the vast majority of the other people racing in that event. Their reward? To do it all over again on a more challenging course against some of the best athletes in the world. In addition, many have overcome significant obstacles to get there. I have yet to find as many inspiring stories in other sports as I do with this one.

When it comes to the pros, there's a couple examples which demonstrate this. First, was Julie Moss' crawl to the finish in 1982, when her body gave out. Despite having nothing left in the tank and losing her lead, she literally crawled to the finish to complete the race.

There was also the "Iron War" between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. Allen had been chasing Scott for many years, but had come up short. In this race their splits were nearly identical, but Allen was able to pull it off with only a few miles left in the race. He then went on to win 5 more World Championships. Allen had adjusted his training style due to his previous performances, and was focusing on developing a strong aerobic base (through heart rate work). This is what allowed his fitness to improve dramatically, and it is one of the main reasons I am using his coaching services through Mark Allen Online.

This is not to overshadow the countless stories of inspiration which come from the age group fields. The amount these individuals have to overcome in many cases is extreme - training while having full time jobs, physical challenges and disabilities, and even terminal disease. My descriptions can not do them justice, and there are too many to count, but below are a couple videos. This embodies the spirit of the celebration of the Ironman World Championship.

This championship offers amateurs the opportunity to race on the same field as pros. It allows those with the desire to achieve a challenging goal to celebrate their accomplishment with other like-minded people. While in its simplest form it is simply a long distance triathlon, on a grander scale it serves as a platform to inspire people, to challenge people to give the best of themselves and to achieve greatness. It is the fact that this race tends to leave the world a little better than it was before that makes it so great. It is my goal to one day qualify, celebrate, and be a part of the positive energy that exists in Kona at that time.

To conclude, I wanted to share a few race reports from age groupers that qualified for the World Championships. They may be a bit long, but they are well worth the read. These are, for all intents and purposes, "normal" people, with jobs, responsibilities, etc. They were able to work really hard and achieve this seemingly insurmountable goal. As a snapshot in time, these individuals are fit, fast, and worthy of the top spot, but leading up to this they had to conquer their own obstacles.

The first is Christopher Borden who qualified in Ironman Canada (I'll be racing there next year!) Here is the link to his race report

Next is David Rowe who has an entertaining race report about Ironman UK and his surprise Kona qualification (spoiler alert!). Here is the link to his race report

Finally, another race report from Ironman Canada by Elliot Kawaoka. Here is the link to his race report

If you would like to enjoy any of the coverage of this celebration, tune into www.ironman.com on Saturday, or wait a couple of weeks to see the coverage on NBC. You can also find previous years' coverage by searching Ironman Hawaii on youtube.

Monday, October 7, 2013


My training is starting to get longer, I'm in the middle of my first racing season which is going much better than expected, and I'm beginning to "feel" like I can actually compete in, not just finish, this Ironman event. However, despite the obvious upswing in the positives, it's far to easy to get caught up in all of it and let my ego and pride take hold. There is an event horizon at which point I cross my competitive spirit becomes greater than the purpose for which I am doing all of this.

My goal is to become healthy, fit, joyous, and free. To hopefully benefit others, and show that hope can overcome hopelessness through moving beyond fear and significant obstacles. I can not achieve this if my primary goal becomes to win simply for the sake of winning. "Winning" can be defined in many ways, and I want to continue to define it not by crossing the finish line first (although that is always a nice outcome), but by getting and giving the most out of the whole experience. Bragging rights are one thing, but inspiring others to give the best of themselves to experience true joy is another level of winning altogether.

Earlier this week I received an interesting email, which at first I believed to be a hoax. The email said "Congratulations Adam Hill. You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2014 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship." Turns out it is not a hoax. Since the Long Beach Triathlon was a sanctioned USAT event, and I finished in the top 10% of my age group, I qualified for the Nationals, to be held in August 2014 in Milwaukee, WI. My immediate reaction was to think of how cool this was, and how far I had come in such a short time. Last February I was scarfing down donuts and playing Call of Duty, and less than a year later I have been invited to compete with Olympic-level triathletes. That's pretty cool!

My second thought began to focus on the "what ifs". This was a trajectory that was not even on my radar until I had opened the email. But now I was considering that I had a shot at making Team USA and competing in the world championships. Perhaps even becoming an Olympian myself! A goal far removed from Ironman training.

See how quickly my mind veers off course from where my heart and spirit are guiding me? My ego takes hold and I am already winning races I never even knew existed until moments earlier. I want to do well in these races, but I want it to be a reflection of my training as well as success in practicing humility, acceptance, and patience. A balance, but one which is becoming more and more apparent in many aspects of life. It is good practice within the arena of triathlon.

This race is still something I am deeply considering, but not because I desire to win (to be in contention for a team slot, I would not only have to swim like a dolphin, but bike consistently at a 25 mph pace and run at nearly 6 minutes per mile for the course of the race), but simply because I would love the experience. How often can one say they had the opportunity to race in such an event? I'll keep you posted, but if you want to weigh in on what you think I should do, I would much appreciate it (just bear in mind that I will be racing in an Ironman two weeks prior to this event).

Speaking of championship events, be sure to check out the Ironman website this week, as they are ramping up to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this Saturday. If you have some time, check out the live coverage. Some of the most inspirational moments will be seen at the finish line. Ali'i Drive has been crossed by many people overcoming their own hardships, demons, or limitations. It is truly the greatest finish line in all of sports. If you miss it on Saturday, make sure to check it out when NBC airs their coverage. You can also see last year's powerful coverage here

As far as my training is concerned, I passed a couple other milestones recently. I actually biked to work, which was quite a jaunt of about 45 miles (San Clemente to Anaheim). This was my first ride through Santiago Canyon, and it's amazing what you miss despite living somewhere most of your life. I had never been back there, and it is absolutely beautiful. So beautiful in fact that I decided to ride through there again to get to visit my sister (San Clemente to Norco). This trip was tough. The Santa Ana winds were blowing, which were in my face the whole way, and there is a very steady uphill over the last half of the ride which I underestimated. Total climbing was over 4,000 ft, and it took me an hour longer than I expected. You can see my workout summary here with the elevation profile. I did snap some photos along the way, and once I arrived. I met my wife and kids there so we could ride some horses... Well, my wife and kids anyway. I had enough saddle time.

Capistrano Beach

Santa Ana River Trail - Acts as a wind tunnel during Santa Ana winds

Horses near Corona

Santiago Canyon

San Juan River trail with perfect view of Saddleback

Santiago Canyon reminds me of the central California coast
Horseback in Norco

Monday, September 23, 2013

... An Opportunity to Serve

This post I am breaking away from the updates on triathlon training and my progress. Not too much to report in that area, as it really comes down to the fact that I am doing a lot of swimming, biking, and running, amounting to about 20 hours a week in total. Besides, it is good to highlight the charities which work to do good in the world. Recently we ran a fundraiser for Alex's Lemonade, and the response was fantastic. We made nearly half our goal of $1,000 to help in the fight against childhood cancer. Today I want to put the spotlight on another unfortunate reality in our world - poverty. Organizations such as Compassion International, or Feeding America, do their own part in trying to bring comfort and stability to those affected by poverty.

We've heard the statistics before, that around 15% of Americans, and nearly half of the world's children, live in poverty. Unemployment in the U.S. is between 7-8% (not including underemployment). There are no shortage of opinions on how to solve this problem. However, these opinions spewed forth in debate do little to spark action, and instead tend to promote political bickering and finger pointing. Sadly poverty has become a political football. So true that many complex macroeconomic issues have a dramatic affect on global poverty. Unfortunately, many people focus on finding solutions at the complex "macro" level, while many tend to neglect what can be done on the "micro" level. Which brings me to a quote provided by the Compassion blog:

"Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve." - Johnny Carr

Up until a couple years ago, I would make myself so angry by the fact that "we" did little to end the suffering of those people living below the poverty line in the world. That for a fraction of the money we spent on wars, we could provide much needed aid to all the world's children. Yet in my self-righteous indignation, what was I doing to be of service to those very people for which I was trying to be an advocate? Nothing but complaining and whining about how "we" as a community, nation, and world weren't doing more.

Once again I was wasting all my energy on things I could not control and had no influence over, while neglecting the service which would provide help to those in need, and serenity to me.

The statement above doesn't necessarily imply that the poverty issue can't be solved. Maybe it can. But individually, our responsibility is to serve each other. If we fulfill on that responsibility and treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated, then more people in need would be given a helping hand. And many small acts of service on a global scale will make a world of difference. Perhaps that is the "solution" we are looking for.

If you would like to be of service today, you can donate to one of our fundraisers for Feeding America or Compassion International. Also, you can visit the Compassion website and sponsor a child in a developing country. It is a very rewarding experience.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Long Beach Triathlon Race Report - Redemption

After my previous race experience, needless to say I was a bit cautious coming into the Long Beach Triathlon. My expectations were lower, I had already made this a non priority race, and I was two hex-bolts away from putting training wheels on my bike. Overboard? Maybe. But I didn't want to risk eating asphalt salad again (by the way, "Asphalt Salad" would make a great band name!). You can read all about my expectations in my previous post here.

All that being said, as I went to pick up my race packet on Saturday morning, I got a view of things to come. The weather was absolutely beautiful with no wind. The water was calm and inviting. Much of the bike course was a grand prix race course (designed for fast racing). The run was flat. While this was a short "secondary" race, the conditions were about as perfect as they could be, which made me second guess my conservative approach. What better course to give it all I have and see how well I do?

That thought lingered a long time, but I had to remember what got me to this start line; humility, patience, and acceptance. I also had to remember that being too aggressive forced me off the road last time around. I decided to stick to my original plan: Book it on the swim and run, and take it relatively easy on the bike. 
This post is "media rich", with plenty of photos and video to help you kill some time. Many thanks to my wife, Marie, who took full advantage of our new Nikon D7000 and got some great shots! So without further ado, here is the race report.

Race day sunrise
Pre Race:
I arrived at the transition area about an hour early, set up my stuff, and started eating some oatmeal (this has been my pre-race meal of choice, as it has not caused me any GI problems in the past, and gives me plenty of carb energy). I made my way to the swim start by jogging the path in my wetsuit. I was the only one doing this, and I heard a lot of comments along the lines of "the race hasn't begun yet," and the like. However, I find it is essential to get a good warm up in before a race. Why would you ever want to start out stiff and cold?

Once I reached the starting area, I took a few swim laps around the buoys. The water felt great, and I thought about the last time I was in the water in Long Beach. I was about 3 or 4, and our family was in the marina among the slips of boats. I thought it would be a testament to my strength to show that I could push one of these 28 foot boats and make it move in the water. I validated my physical prowess, but misjudged how gravity would play into my little experiment. I ended up in the water between the dock and the marina, and fortunately was rescued by an understandably alarmed set of parents. I think it was at that time that they decided to put me in swim lessons. Today I was venturing into the water on a voluntary basis.

I was having some issues with my goggles filling up. Turns out there was a small crease in the rubber seal, that probably came about because they were left in the hot car (only thing I could think of). I had trouble fixing this, but my backup pair was back at transition, and the race was about to begin. At this point I took my own advice and just "let go" of the situation and do the best I could.

We were the second wave to go, and the wave breaks were only 3 minutes apart this time around. The 30-39 age groups followed the 20-29 age groups. After the first group took off, I lined up at the front middle of the wave. This is usually the spot where the fastest racers position themselves, and I wanted to see how I fared. When the gun went off we ran to the water and the front of the pack, as expected, began to converge a bit. Once I was about knee deep in the water, I dove in and began swimming, recognizing that I was faster if I swam than continued running. This helped me to pass a few more people. There was lots of contact between the shore and around the first buoy, but I was able to find my way around a lot of people and continue moving forward. Finally, after about 300 yards, I began to find some open water and found a great rhythm. At a couple of points I noticed that I made contact with the feet of other racers, only to recognize that they were from the wave in front of me. I was seeing fewer and fewer orange caps (30-39), and more and more green caps (20-29). I took that as a good sign. 

Swimmers begin rounding the buoy's and heading for shore.

We rounded the last buoy and headed for shore, and I began to back off a little bit so that I could catch my breath for the run up the beach. Once I hit the shore and I looked at my watch, I saw that I was at about 11 minutes, which was much faster than my goal of 15 minutes. However, I still had to make it up the beach to the timing mat, a few hundred yards away.

Exiting the water and heading toward transition
As I crossed the timing mat I saw that I was around 13 minutes. A great swim! 

Swim Time: 13:02, 1:29/100 YDS

Transition 1:
Further good news was about to hit me, as I recognized that most of the bikes in my age group were still present in the transition area (which meant that many people were still in the water). Transition went smooth, as I was able to get my wetsuit off, and socks and shoes on, quickly without a problem. My only mistake came when I didn't turn on my GoPro before the race. This took me about 15 to 20 seconds to address, but I couldn't afford not to film the bike portion! That would be doing all of you fine people a disservice! The rest was easy. I ran to the mounting area, got on my bike, and there I went!

T1 Time: 1:50

Again, my goal was to take the bike conservatively, but in sections where it was safe (straightaways, wide areas, etc.) I would put the hammer down as hard as I could. It was really the turns that had me nervous, as I didn't want another rider to clip me or try to cut by me on a sharp turn. I found that I would get passed by a few people on each of the sharp turns, but then I would reclaim my position on the straightaways. Thus I think the reward for aggression is minimal and short lived. 

The first lap was fantastic, as it felt like I had the road to myself, with the occasional rider. The course took us down Shorline Drive from Ocean Blvd. down the grand prix raceway. A quick U turn brought us back down the raceway toward the Queensway bridge in Long Beach. Over the bridge and toward the Queen Mary, there were a few more sharp turns, at which time I was passed, and straightaways, at which time I did the passing. We went back over the Queensway bridge and took a sharp right back on to Shoreline. I anticipated this turn and took it slow, but was passed very quickly on the left by someone in aero position (no brakes!). 

As we approached the turnaround, the honeymoon was over. Now into the second lap, the field was becoming more congested with people coming in from later waves. Unfortunately, this meant there were faster bikers mixed with much slower bikers. While it was relatively easy to pass on the wide Shoreline Drive, as we went over the bridge, there was no way to pass. This made my already conservative bike time even slower. But, the good news is that I made it back into transition with both wheels on the ground and my head above the handlebars. 

Biking into T2
(A little more shameless self promotion. Music by Radblaster)

Bike Time: 33:07, 19.9 mph (The bike was a little longer than 11 miles - my Garmin had it at 11.5, with a split of 20.9 mph)

Transition 2
Everything went absolutely perfect in T2, I don't think I could have done anything any differently. This time I saw only two or three bikes, which told me I was still in good shape. Got my running shoes on and my race number, and sprinted outa there!

T2 Time: 1:03

My goal was to run 7:00 miles, and I was just about there. I remember from my previous race in Carlsbad that I hit the gas too early and burned out in the last couple hundred yards (at which time another racer passed me). So I held back a bit longer, while trying to keep my pace around 7 min.

The run was much like the bike in that the first lap was empty, aside from faster 20 somthing's passing in the opposite direction toward the turnaround. The second lap was more congested, but I found it more easily navigable, and was able to continue passing people while maintaining my pace. It was a great feeling as I approached the turnaround the second time and the volunteer pointed to the turnaround but I was able to point to the finish and go through the chute. I didn't really hit the gas at all at the end of the race, but I should have finished strong. But at least I finished feeling like I didn't need to puke.

The best part is I looked at the time as I crossed the finish and saw "1:13:00". This meant that I actually beat my goal by 2 minutes! I then realized that, being in the second wave, we started 3 minutes after the first wave. That means I beat my goal by 5 minutes!

Happy finisher with energy to spare!
Run Time: 21:25, 7:09 min/mile
Total Time: 1:10:25, 5th place age group (out of 46), 40th overall (out of 611)

Overall, I enjoyed this race. The course was great, the climate was awesome. Organization had a lot to be desired, but I can't complain about a fifth place finish in my age group. I wasn't aware of my placing when they first began posting results, as they were just posting overall. I could see that I did pretty well. As I pushed through the crowds to see the posted results (in the smallest font possible), I tried to determine how many 30-34 age groupers were ahead of me. I thought I saw two or three, but I couldn't tell. While we had other plans for the day, I had to convince my tired wife and kids to stick around for the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony wasn't very organized as they were giving awards out to the relay groups and youth groups before getting to the age groups. They announced the names and I found out that I didn't get a podium spot (which was okay, because it wasn't very organized - they didn't have a podium). I was just happy with my performance. Given this was a "B" race and I didn't want to be aggressive, I think my time was awesome.

When I got home I learned that I got 5th place in my age group, and missed third by a little over 2 minutes. For my second finished race, this is not too shabby. Putting this into perspective, at an Ironman race, there are 50 spots allocated for the Kona World Championships. At times, 30-34 will get at least 5. Being 40th overall, and 5th in age group would secure a Kona spot! Granted, the Ironman is a lot more competitive, a lot longer, and a lot more challenging, but I have time, patience, and determination. It may not happen next year, or even the following year. But the point is that for the first time that goal actually appears on the horizon and looks achievable. I think I've come a long way in the last year. Great things are yet to come!