Monday, October 24, 2011

certified Natural trainer

Jon,Jesse and yours truly after passing my test at the Monkey Bar Gym Madison intensive certification training this past week

I have been in Madison WI for the past week taking a Certified Natural trainer certification at the Monkey Bar Gymnasium. The MBG is a functional training center developed by Jon Hinds. Jon is about my age and a complete stud. He was a Brazilian jujitsu gold medalist in the pan am games. In this class we are learning to teach the proper progressions of running, jumping, crawling, climbing and so on. Jon believes as I do in the physical culture. I can tell you that being a Triathlete primarily in my life has not prepared me for this type of training. I completely suck at it presently. But I am challenged to get better. And as a teacher of fitness, bring my clients to a new level of physicality. There are 25 of us in class and some of these guys and girls can do stuff I could not dream of doing. Here is a video of Rick who trains in a group called the Bar-Barians in NY. Unbelievable stuff!

The Monkey Bar Gym style of training combines not only the physical skill but bundles them in a way that will challenge all levels of fitness. It also uses cycles and variety to keep everyone motivated and focused on improving. At The MBG, Yoga, skill training and Nutrition are the 3 parts of the philosophy. Check out Jon's Blog to get a feel of the enthusiasm of his passion for fitness and health.

On the nutrition side. Jon believes in at at least a 90% plant based diet(My buddy Steve I am sure will give me hell). He references the Book The china study and brought in an expert to explain the benefits of what he calls nutrient rich eating. seeing how strong Jon and Jesse are eating only plant based, I am a bit more convinced in this way of eating. The point he makes is that once you eat this way for a while( 6mo or so) you will get off the crack habit of nutrient poor foods( ie meat, dairy, refined).

I feel like I learned a lot at this class/certification and can use many of the techniques with all my clients for years to come. I did have some fun away from the 10hrs a day of instruction. I met a cool kid named Erik, who is a cyclist/nordic skier( ex rugby player) that lives in Madison. we went on a nice bike ride around Madison and even went for a roller ski. But was better was after Friday's class we yondered to an after hours keger with the bike mechanics at his bike shop(cronometer?)(super fun and good thing there were no pictures. then I wound up a the hotel bar drinking some pints with a bunch of British/Irish breeders of Clydsdale horses! really funny---That explains why when I first got to town and rode my bike around the capital that the Budweiser clydsdale rig full on with the Dolmation was going down State street! again no picture( I should really get a smart phone----NOT

here is Erik practicing our Eichens Yoga poses

here are a few more photos of the class

Monkey Bar Gym

Jon down a wall press up

the other room at Monkey Bar WI

Jesse doing a reggie pullup(super hard)

I am glad to be back home really missed my girls

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Marathon in Vermont

From Sarah:

Just back from the Green Mountain Athletic Association Marathon in Lake Champlain, VT, where I took first female with a time of 3:20. It was a small race and a soft field, but a very beautiful setting with incredible fall foliage along the lakefront, with rolling mountains in the distance. Great schwag and great post-race vegie chili, too!

I was a bit nervous since I hadn't raced a marathon for nearly 7 years when I decided to jump into this one -- and another about one month ago, the inaugural Bozeman Marathon -- because my training partner, Liz Nemer, was training for Rock N Roll St. Louis. After doing so many of the long runs with Liz last summer I decided to find a race around the same time, so we could train together. Since I had a work trip to do in Burlington, this GMAA race worked out perfectly. Plus, I got to sample excellent beers from hosts Meghan & Seth's Taproom.

I'm not fast, and I'm not a super star. But it sure feels good to accomplish small goals and succeed at them. This summer and fall have been reminders of how good it feels to train, race and compete. This is true even if the training isn't perfect -- as long as you are fit and can dig in deep when the racing gets rough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting off my Ass!

Well, I let myself go a bit too much and hit my drop dead weight of 170. So the buzzer went off and I started my 5 day fast/cleanse. I am writing this on day 4 so if I sound/write a bit foggy that's because I am. Just fyi in the past 4 days I have ingested 2 cups of vegetable soup and 4 glasses juice. Of course I am drinking electrolytes and taking vitamins as well but so far-- less than 1000 calories in 4 days. I have done this before to jump start my discipline, and this time is no different. It is super hard and makes you feel like you are running at the end of the Ironman. 1 day to go and my first real food with be at kindergarten lunch with Chloe at Lunch Buddies tomorrow at noon. Give me 8 grilled cheeses please! (uh o! last night Chloe came down with a fever of 102-- up all night and sick as a dog, my weekend with the kids gets a bit more complicated) The hardest part of a fast is exercise, which I have been trying to be more consistent at---but with no food it makes movement very difficult for sure-- yesterday I ran 5 miles and I swear it felt like a marathon. It is very hard to hold up your arms and you can feel the fat and muscle burning for energy due to no sugar.

My Girls Chloe and Cale during our evening wrestling match

The past month or so have been very busy with lots of work and much more kid duties. I just love taking/picking up the kids from school and doing the everyday duties they require. Starting today I have the kids for 4 days as Sarah heads east for a conference and runs a marathon. We have plans for the corn-Maze, heading to Laurel to the pumpkin patch and lots of daddy day care fun.

stepping back a few weeks, Sarah and I had a great trip down to Denver to see Further at Red Rocks. We had a great time doing the parking lot scene, taking in the great shows and during the day sweating out the toxins with some epic exercise. Friday night old clone Kevin came with us for the experience. and an experience it was. The next day,the three of us went on a mountain bike ride in Golden at Apex park. The ride was hard and we all came away with some scars to prove it. Mine was a nice half chain ring carved into my calf.

Along with my fast/cleanse I have been getting a bit more consistent exercise. I have been riding my bike more than once every couple of weeks and have enjoyed my cross bike up in Bozeman the past couple of weekends. I have also been back in the gym getting my body back from the flab that it has become.

last weekend after a great cross ride at the Bozeman creek trail, I checked out the finish of the Kona Ironman on the computer. I thought the pro race was pretty exciting especially on the womens side. Miranda Caffree trying to run down Chrissy Wellington was pretty cool. I also want to congratulate my clients Jay Preston and Mike Fogassey for excellent races in Kona. Jay met his goal of going under 10hrs going 9:58 and Mike made his dream of running down Ali drive and finishing the Hawaii Ironman! His pictures were awesome and showed the great joy of his experience great job both of you!

I always blog on some thoughts about the race and here are mine from this year

1. I wish they would go back to placing the race date on the first full moon Saturday. Recently the race has not had the severe wind that it had when that was the case. I did the race in 1995 and 1998 and on those years we had head winds that started very early on( mile 30) and again coming back. In comparison, 1998 the winning time( peter Reid) was 8:24 compared to the 8:03 this year. most of that time was on the bike were the pros were going 4:30 or under whereas in 1998 the best pro times were 4:45 or higher. In 98 there were 19 athletes under 9hrs, this year there were almost 40. In 1998 I went 9:27 and placed 46th overall and this year my 9:27 would of placed me 127th. Much of the same comparisons can be made in 1995 as well.. Almost all the best bike times have been set since the change to the date but interestingly Mark Allen and Dave Scott still hold the best run times 2:41 and 2:40 in 1989.

2. I wish they would go back to starting the age groupers and pros together--allowing for the same race conditions by all. I don't mind the pros getting the pole position but this 30min delay can mean totally different conditions for the age groupers, and not allowing an age grouper to compete for the overall. You say an age grouper can't compete for the overall? well this year you had an age grouper getting 26th overall( 11 min from the podium) and another that had the 2nd fastest run of the day, running 2:43. This all under harder conditions most likely.

3. and again I call bullshit on aero helmets-- Chrissy again wins without one and Carolyn Steffen as well. Maybe these guys could run better if they did not bake their heads in the heat!

The family at Bridger bowl during raptor fest

raptor at Raptor fest

Sarah and Cale on our hike at Bohart ranch

Last Sunday the fam went for a family Hike near Bridger bowl and took in the Raptor fest and got ready for ski season by cleaning our locker and getting our pictures for our season passes. it was a glorious fall day with the first snow of the year laying down the white stuff at the 7k high mark.

Bridger bowl in October

It is always stunning to see the mountains covering in snow with the aspen tress turning a bright yellow. I headed from Bridger bowl on my cross bike after our family event and climbed up toward Ross peak, getting up to the snow line! amazing ride and views! can't wait for the first ride on my board-- probably a split board climb/run coming soon!

The climb to Ross peak

and on the way back down-- toward the Crazy Mountains


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No more free pass!

Me at the finish of the Dakota Five-0--- "That Hurt"

The conclusions of my own personal fitness experiment are now in. After 2 full months of almost no consistent exercise, I have come to the conclusion that you can get one free month of fitness but not two! Let me explain.

When I retired from competition after the Buffalo Springs 70.3 in late June, I pretty much stopped training completely. I figure I have done 10-12 workouts in 2+ months. Why? Well, many reasons, but, in a nut shell, I just did not feel like it. I was tired and completely worn out from the effort I put in to trying to come back to a competitive level. The effort both mentally and physically was so hard that once it was over, I was just done!

I often have read about what level of training it would take to maintain some level of fitness. When I say "some" I mean "not mean sucking ASS!" I would often talk to John Howard about this. John believes that a lifetime of base training full on -- can help in withstanding a level of fitness that is pretty good even with cutting his hours of work from 20 to 10 or more. So in the past 2 months as I have been getting fat and soft, I have been doing my own experiment.

Post Lubbock: After 2-3 weeks of doing nothing, I went out for an epic mountain bike ride at the Bangtail Trail. Conclusion: I felt good and it was fun and not painful!-- Another week or so and I did the Beartooth Burn (a 22 mile climb TT up the Beartooth Pass). Conclusion: I did pretty good going 1:51 and placing 3rd in the 40-49 age group. And again I felt ok even though I went out too hot! The next week I did another epic mtn bike ride at Curly Lake. Conclusion: Felt good and even put in a better time than pre-heart surgery! Keep in mind, that I am doing no exercise during the weekdays -- at all!

I thought OK -- This no training thing seems to work! This is great, I will have so much more time for other things if I only have to workout once a week! Next up the Dakota five- o mtn bike race in Spearfish, SD. A couple of weeks before the race, I thought to myself, "Damn, I need to do some training for this thing" -- since it is hard as hell (7 km of climbing and very competitve). But then I thought to myself --- let's experiment a bit further. So I didn't get on my bike even once for 2+ weeks before. Instead I went to Chicago with my kids and played golf with the old man. By the way, I played much better than my club championship debacle, scoring all 3 rounds in the 70s with a low of 73 at Shoreacres. And by the by, thanks to my mom and dad for a great time and to Kevin Cox, Mike Harrigan, and Mr. Burke for some fun games.

So, last weekend was the Dakota Five-0. This event is just awesome! The course, the town, the campground, the organization, the swag--everything. For the 2nd year in a row, we rented an RV and headed to Spearfish, SD, with other friends from Billings,(this year we had the Dueys, the Galls, Steve M, Don R, Chris J, Don cole, Tina and Ed, Chris J, the Sekora's. Brian J). The vibe is great and the race is very hard! The campground in Spearfish is really great and a total cool family experience. If you want to join us next year for the event sign up early for the race, it sells out, registration starts april 1 and reserve at the campground soon since RV hookups also sell out quick. Congrats to all that finished this very hard and fun event Spearfish city campground
Cale waiting for Dad at the finish

I don't think I should of rode some of the course the day before -- this may have skewed my experiment of no training. But I can tell you that on race day there was certainly a big jump with a lack of legs and fitness. I started in the first wave and found my HR pretty much through the roof in the first 4 miles of climbing to the single track. That was not a smart plan for sure. I managed to do ok through the first 10 miles but, now unlike the previous 8 weeks, my legs were already cooked! This is not good with 4 hrs to go. Needless to say - it was a survival the rest of the way. I began cramping in my VMO at about 3 hrs and that hurts when you have a bunch of serious climbs to go. Today it still feels like I am bruised in the inside of my quads. I ended up finishing with a 5:26 result which was 1hr 10min faster than last year( however, last year I was pretty much the walking dead).

At the finish I was totally worked but at least my experiment was over---conclusion: If you are in solid shape -- you get a one month free pass but not two!I will now find some level of consistency in exercise that I can live with, be happy with and find the balance with my family and work. So my goal for the coming year is to find that balance and work toward feeling better at next years Dakota Five-0. I would like to give breaking 5 hrs a shot. But this time without the experiment of no training.

Monday, August 8, 2011

new ways

Creek Crossing at Curly lake ride, that's me making it and Stan almost!

Habits die hard, but I think I am finally there! for nearly 25 yrs I have been swimming, biking and running in preparation for racing triathlons. Now 5-6 weeks after my race in Lubbock Tx and my retirement from the sport, I am finally not getting up and feeling that I have a planned swim, bike or run workout in the day.

From the beginning swimming was always a sport I least liked to do and has been my weakest discipline for most of the past 25yrs. Ironically, In this past year swimming has been my most competitive sport( most likely due to lower heart rates). But I still don't enjoy it and now that I am not doing triathlon races--- its done---

Next is running, which I really enjoyed the most in my early years. I once was the very fastest 11 yr old in the suburbs of Chicago. Then in College, I began to run longer and really got a buzz out of it. Then I tore my knee up playing basketball as a weekend warrior back in the early 80s. My knee repair was successful but I still had pain and after I started doing triathlons I managed that pain in my left knee and more recently my right one. I did become a pretty efficient runner regardless, logging a 33:25 10k pr and a 2:42:06 marathon pr as well as a 1/2 marathon off the bike of 1:18 in Gulf coast and a 3:11 marathon split in the Hawaii Ironman, this all with running mileage of 30-40 miles at its peak. but today running still hurts and with Heart rate numbers that are higher on the run(which causes a weird feeling with my repaired heart)This sport is also done.

Then there is the bike. I love to bike, and I love to ride all kinds of bikes, especially off road bikes( cross, mtn, single speed) I still get excited for a bike ride and for the past 4 weeks I have gone out and done some epic rides. I have no schedule or method for my riding these days I just go out and ride how I feel and plan rides with friends. I still challenge myself on the bike and do hard rides even though I don't have the engine I used to have. see below. so going forward I see myself riding my bike for fitness and getting back to my bodywork and yoga routine to shore up my body's ability to keep up with my kids and wife in the hopefully many years to come.

My girls

Originally, we decided that Sarah and the Kids would go to the east coast(Cape Cod)for the month of July to spend time with her parents and get bit of east coast(ocean) culture for the kids, while I trained for the Ironman. Then of course my quest came to an end. And with that, I really only wanted to spend time with my family and catch up on the time I missed with them while I was training. But I was forced to figure out this transition alone and begin new ways in my life. So the past month has been very hard. combine that with a bunch of unforeseen house projects and July was pretty difficult for us.

My little fish

Now that the Fam is back. I have really enjoyed spending more time with the kids and Sarah. We have been going to the pool both in Briarwood and in Bozeman, checking out festivals like the Sweat Pea in Bozeman and going to many a play ground. I almost didn't recognize Cale with her sun bleached hair and her new lingo. She is amazing as well as Chloe who is now 6 and is growing up to be a wonderful little girl. They totally make me want to be a stay at home dad.

My love child

Last weekend I entered the Beartooth Burn, a timed ride up the beartooth hwy from red lodge to the summit( 10,000 ft). 22 miles and 6000ft of vertical. I did the event in 1hr 51 min. It is strange to do hard rides with multiple days of no exercise. I start these rides very fresh and have good legs for some of the ride, but of course that catches up with you after a while and you start to show your true fitness. I have gone up and done the Bangtail trail a couple of times with Pat Duey and have felt pretty good for a 4hr hard mtn bike ride. check out this clip of the final descent at the Bangtail trail 5 miles from our cabin

I still go out and try to compete and on Sunday I went pretty hard in the first 1hr and of course started to blow up after that as the altitude reached 9k ft. I did manage to tie the first women! and get 8th overall. I am pretty damn sore today although. And its still a bit hard to let go of being competitive

Coming up there is a lot on the Marschall/Keller agenda. This coming weekend I am holding a mountain bike weekend in Bozeman, doing some epic mountain biking, including the Curly lake Highline ride.

The ride Sunday was epic and definitely a cherry ride! Dr Pat Duey, Stan the man and Dr. Dan Gall came on the Curly lake ride with me. This ride has it all and will make you wanting that Rootbeer then real beer at the finish. total time from start to finish( with a couple of flat,rest, and food stops) 6.5hrs for a mere 25 miles, thats 7k of climbing my friends! boy those fish tacos at La parilla did taste good after!

the crew finally making it to the trail head

and near the top of the last climb at Curly, The Alpdhez of mtn biking, 10k high, 20% grade and many switch backs-- need to be super good and super fit, to not walk. those are not mountain goats walking that is Pat and Stan.

Then I am going to play in the Briarwood club championship the next weekend, did I say I went to the long putter? I hope this will help my scoring. Then I am taking the Girls to Chicago the next weekend to visit my parents and play some golf with the old man. Its on to Spearfish SD on Labor Day for the Dakota five-o mtn bike race and at the end of September we are heading to Red Rocks to see Furthur for the 3 night run there. Its getting me exhausted just thinking about it. But its the end of the summer and its time to pack it in before winter sets in.

the floatin fam

The 4- wheelin fam

Monday, July 18, 2011


This past week I went 7 days without exercise! When you combine that with a lot of eating you will definitely gain those additional 10lbs. As I try to figure out my new routine or lack there off, I spent the past week not wanting to do a single workout. I think the past 6mo. just plan wore me out mentally and physically. I have been working on my golf game lately, trying desperately to get ready to play decently in the Briarwood member/quest event called the"Tangle". Going forward I am thinking that I may work on my yoga,bodywork, long boarding and cycling. My feeling right now is that swimming and running may be an occasional workout from now on.

The scene at the Targhee Music festival

This weekend my Friend Josh and I cruised down to Driggs ID for the annual Targhee music festival. Originally this would be a family event but this year it would be a guys trip to one of the most beautiful spots and coolest events on earth.

Friday night we arrived and took in Grace Potter and the Nocturnals which is always a great show. The next day, I got up early and took the short trip down the hill and walked 9 holes of golf at the local Muni course, for 9 bucks I was all by myself with the Tetons as the back drop for my ball. Back to Targhee, Josh and I went riding some of the great Targhee single track. We had planned on getting padded up and go downhill mtn biking from the top of the ski hill, but the snow pack is still blocking the downhill trails! probably a good thing in the end. After sweating out the micro beers the night before, we set up our camp in the lawn and chilled in the sun checking out the great Saturday lineup of James McMurtry, Jackie Green and Michal Franti.

the Great Jackie Green doing an amazing Sugeree!

Michael Franti out in the crowd jamming

A great night of people watching and music. The great thing about the Targhee music fest is how great the scene and the Vibe is. very kid friendly and tons of activity's to do in the area. The crowd is very fit- and no- assholes!

Hula sites at Targhee

Kid friendly Targheefest-- check out the dads with their noise canceling headphone kids!

The next day brought much of the same but this time after Golf in the morning I made the grind up to the top of the mountain( 2k up in a couple of miles), I could not get up this climb last year since I was still weak and recovering from surgery, but I did manage to get my fat Ass to the top this year.

The way up to the summit of Grand Targhee ski resort

and at the top

Later on Sunday we even got a visit from my friend Patrick and Wendy Sheehan who the day before had sumited the Grand Teton over in Jackson Wy. After Little feat closed the Sunday show, we busted a move and drove back to Bozeman MT. Now its back to Billings and some summer heat!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Practicing flexible

Well, its been 2 weeks since I decided that Buffalo Springs would be the end of my try at a comeback to competition. I have to say the transition has not been easy. First of all, my family is out on the east coast(we thought I would be training during this time) and not having them around is very hard.

I miss my girls, here is Cale out east looking at butterfly's

Second of all, when you have been in a routine of training for the past 6 months and pretty much that past 20 years, it is difficult to change that routine. Every day I wake up and think it is time to do masters swim practice or a long bike. Now that the goals have changed and my time is being taken up with other things I am practicing being more flexible with exercise. For example, instead of waking up at 4:30a and heading to Masters swim practice, I go to the endless pool later in the day and swim a 1k. I still love to exercise but I am doing a sport only if I feel like it, not because it is what I have to do or what is scheduled. I am sure it will take a while to be good with less training but I am sure that will come. I do know that it wasn't Hard to gain 5lbs! I am now 1/2 way to the 10lb gain that Mike said was a good thing.

Last weekend, I had some folks up for a weekend at the cabin. It was great to get out in the woods and mountain bike the bangtail divide trail for the first time this year. There was still some snow banks that we had to negotiate but the trail was awesome as usual and I still can't believe that some triathletes don't mountain bike! They don't know what they are missing. Nash and I even did a short ski run(on our feet) during the ride. The weekend brought a hike, rides, great eats and drinks and plenty of laughs. I even got some target practice in and planted some Raspberry bushes.( thanks to Steve for the help with the berries and Mark for some good pointers on shooting straight) Thanks to Steve, Mark, Nash, Carissa, Steve and Diana for coming up and keeping me company.

Nash and I contemplating our ski down a snow bank at the bangtail divide trail

Back to the cabin this past weekend brought more perfect weather( 80 high, 50 at night with clear skies. Dr. Pat Duey came up to ride the Bangtail trail. I had signed up to race in the Tour de Bozeman cycling stage(4) race. On Friday night there was a Crit at Big sky, and after thinking about how anaerobic this would be, I decided that an evening mtn bike ride at Bohart Ranch would be more fun, so I bagged the crit and road a couple of hours with Pat. The next day, I was signed up to do the TT down in Bozeman and later the main street sprints, but instead Pat and I had a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and special pancakes and rode an epic mtn bike ride from the cabin( skunk creek-bangtail-stone creek- back up Olsen- grassy mtn-cabin)47 miles in 5hrs 28 min with 6000ft of climbing. Early in on the ride, up skunk creek, we saw a herd(30-40 head) of elk(could not get a pic, those suckers move quick!) and after that we both heard a very deep bark that could of been a pissed off bear, combine that with some deer, horses, and 5 mountain ranges it was an afternoon of cool visuals. A perfect day on the trails and even the snow banks were gone! It was certainly an epic day! and after the ride we celebrated by firing some rounds of my AR-15.( way fun)

covered bridge/barn on Skunk creek road

Pat on some sweet single track

going down the grassy mtn switchbacks with the Bridgers in the background

Sunday, I was signed up to do the road race but instead I did some work around the cabin and took the day off exercise completely. So I blew $85.00 by entering the races but training the art of being flexible was probably more beneficial to my new transition.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The end and the Begining

On Sunday at the Buffalo springs 70.3 race in Lubbock Tx, my vision quest came to an end. I worked very hard for nearly 6 months, but in the end it was not nearly enough to get the job done. I want to first thank everyone-- my friends, sponsors and especially my family for all the support along this journey.

When I made my goal/quest to come back to competitive triathlon racing after my second Heart surgery, I had convinced myself that if I worked hard enough I could be competitive again. I would then prove to myself and others that having your chest broke open a couple of times does not mean things have to be different. In retrospect I should of never came out with that goal. I knew that becoming ultra competitive again in triathlon would be very difficult. I just did not know how difficult. I should of realized that just coming back to healthy training and finishing triathlons would be enough of a challenge. But my perfectionism and hard headed-ness kicked in and I wanted more than that. I know that the first rule of setting goals is to make them achievable. However, I did not follow this rule. It became clear in Lubbock that my body did not allow me to reach these lofty goals. My competitive triathlon days are now officially over. And with this realization there comes a tremendous sense of relief. It is now time for a new beginning.

Race report:

Going into the race and for the past 6mo, I have worked as hard as I ever have, in my 20+ yrs of training for this sport. But now my engine is different, retooled with a transplant aortic valve and root, the way it feels to train and race is much different than ever before and not in a good way.

Before the race, Mike Pigg and I decided to take the pressure off of trying to compete at a high level and just stick to conservative Heart rate numbers throughout the race and have a clean day and finish. The last time a did Buffalo springs after my first Heart surgery I didn't finish the run and of course there was St.Croix. The plan was to swim very smooth and not stressed, stay at 130-135 on the bike and 135-140 on the run and finish feeling good.
I spent much of the past few weeks getting my head around this idea. I knew it was the right thing to do given the last few races and how inconsistent I felt in training/racing. With the weather on race day predicted to be over 100 degrees with wind, it made even more sense to be very conservative.

Before the race I was very calm and even though they grouped the 50+ group in with the 30-34 males I found a way to get away from the madness and have a relatively stress free swim, going 28 and change and never really pushing any HR effort. Coming out of the water I took my sweet time and got on the bike with the sole focus to stay at the 130-135 number and concentrate on hydration and nutrition.

All my career I have always hammered the bike and for most of the past 20+years this was my strength in the sport and how I became competitive in races, so it was hard to let tons of folks pass me on the bike. But I did-- even though it was very hard to keep the HR down to the 130 number with the heat and wind and I found myself riding more at 135 instead. this probably cost me a bit in the last 5-10 miles as we hit a pretty stiff headwind and what was a relatively easy ride to that point became tougher. My split was 2;42 and that pretty much sucks. On to the run and with the heat rising up into the triple digits, it was really hard to keep the HR down, so I used the walk through the aid station technique, ice in the hat, etc.... typical death march stuff and actually felt pretty good the last 4miles and ran most of it without walking. My split on the run was 2hrs not exactly stellar either but I finished. My time would end up being 5:16 placing 7th in my age group. I ranked 7th in every discipline. At the finish I felt physically pretty good, no gut bomb, no medical tent, no blisters( i did wear socks) a clean race( albeit slow as ass) But one thing was for sure, I was done with racing Triathlon. I had once placed 2nd overall in this race back in 1995 in a time of 4:18 almost an hour faster than I did on Sunday. Just another stark realization of my deterioration and inability to race competitively on a national level again.

I am proud of fighting myself back to this point. The work has been brutal. I think that in the end I realize that for me to get more competitive in this sport I would have to spend even more time, maybe even years of many hours of aerobic training in order to acclimate my system to become more efficient at lower HR numbers. And even if I did so, I may still not get to that level again. This is something I am not willing to put me or my family through any more.

when I started racing triathlon in the late 80s it was fun, I had no expectations and it felt good to get in shape after being fat and out of shape by having a desk job. The next few years from 87-93 I had fun with the sport. I enjoyed going to races, talking smack and planing the training with the guys. There was camaraderie, we had a good group of guys to train with, there was no coaches or numbers to adhere to, just chase each other around as hard as possible. those were the days. It was hard but it was fun to compete on a day to day basis

then in 1993 I started to win races and with that came the expectations and pressure to be good in every race. This made the sport less and less fun. My relationships turned stressed and it was only about living up to the expectations of doing better or at least as good as before. There was Ironman Hawaii, Nationals, ect... I didn't like what I had become as a person, I was focused completely around the sport and I was so very selfish. Competition was the focus in my life and it became my identity. There was so many sacrifices and mistakes I made through those years. I can honestly say that the only real positives that came out of that period was meeting my wife Sarah and a few good friends as well as developing my fitness business.

Starting in 2003 I became more removed from the sport of triathlon when Sarah and I moved to Montana. I exercised the 3 sports just for health and fitness and without a whole lot of structure. Again i started to enjoyed the sports. You see in Montana triathletes are not super prevalent and folks enjoy activity in many modes and don't take themselves so seriously about any of them. I put very little pressure on myself to be very good in these years.

Then the heart surgeries changed everything in my life both mentally and physically. I did not want heart surgery to limit me in any way. So I fought hard to come back. Fast forward to this latest comeback. By trying to be competitive like before I found myself again getting selfish, absorbed in the training/racing and basically a pain in the ass to live with. Going to the big races and seeing the competitive athletes made me want to be good again. It was like in the godfather-- "I try to get out but they pull me back in" But at these races I also realized that I was not into the triathlon scene anymore. I found it more and more nauseating.

I also know that my training had become a stress on my family and friends. My wife Sarah has been super understanding during this period but it has not been easy on her. I am very sorry to have put her through this struggle. I love her so very much. And my kids( Chloe and Cale) are the lights of my life and during this whole thing it has weighed heavily on me that I have spent so much time away from them while training and racing. Now that it is over I am very excited to spend time playing with my kids in the dirt again!

After the Race, I was in the car and driving back to Montana within 45min of my finish. I do believe that I won the open heart surgery division + driving 16 hrs straight after a 70.3 race, all I can say is thank god for 5 hr energy! On the drive I had a great conversation with Mike Pigg for about an hour. He has been great in the past couple of months counseling me in my training and in Life. We talked about how finishing was a good thing and that I had done it right by racing aerobic and feeling good at the finish without incident. He also remarked that he didn't understand how anyone with a family trained for Ironman. He told me that if he had a family when he raced that he could not have done it. I think he has got that right.

We also discussed how to approach my post racing period. here are some of the suggestions that Mike made when I asked him how he approached his transition from racing. The following is some of the advice that Mike gave.

1. No more structure, Have fun when you exercise and mix it up with what you feel like doing on that day.

2. take days off when you feel like it

3. its ok to gain 10 pounds but not 20 lbs. if that happens just cut back on the beer and ice cream and eat more protein and vegetables.

4. plan exercise with your kids and your wife, make movement a family outing. Mike recently went out for 3hrs with his 14 yr old son on a tandem. He said that it was great to spend that time taking, moving and seeing the countryside. killing 2 birds with one stone

5. go out and train with friends and/or clients. Go as slow as you want, make exercise more social.

6. Its ok to enter a 5k or bike race and go as hard as you want, just make sure you don't have any expectations

7. look down the road to things like coaching your kids in sport or activity

8. stay fit enough to keep up with your kids when you get to be 60,70,80 yrs old

9. play more golf

10. spend more time at the cabin, hiking, biking and playing in the woods with the family.

so today I will start a new phase in my life without triathlon racing. Is this failure in my quest hard to swallow? sure it is. but with every end there is a new beginning and this quest fortunately has no clock.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ironheart classic/ willard bay tri/ cabin and lead up to lubbock

Since my last post, I have been trying hard to bounce back from the poor outcome at St. Croix. But I have to be honest, it has been much harder to be UP for workouts than before ST. Croix. Each bout of work has been more inconsistent than in the past and it has been very hard to predict how my body feels and reacts to training. It is unclear why exactly this is happening but it is clear that someone with a partial heart transplant trying to compete at a high level is an unknown entity. This could be just the way it is going to be with my new heart or I may be hitting the ceiling on just how I can compete given my circumstances. These thoughts weigh very heavy on my mind going into races these days. There was a time that working this hard gave me a lot of confidence going into races. Over the years I have had some bad days but for the most part I was very consistent when I toed the line. Now things are different and it is uncomfortable to deal with.

a few weeks ago I traveled to Seattle to visit with my friends Carol and Matt Des rosiers (dizzy)and run in the Ironheart classic 8miler. I had not been to Seattle in many years and it was great to spend some time with Diz and Carol since they moved out there. When I got in to Seattle Diz and I went down the Pike Market and saw the sights.

Dizzy at the original starbucks

flying fish at Pike market Seattle

We then headed up to Mt. Vernon where the Des Rosiers live and hit the links for some golf. A really nice golf course where Diz and Carol live. Golf was fun and then great seafood eats. Its really nice to get fresh seafood as a change of pace from what we get in Billings. Great day.

next up the Ironheart classic. I was really trying to see what I could hold for 8 miles running and also wanted to connect with other heart surgery patients that where also competing. As I lined up at the start, you look around and guess on who had a scar on there chest or not. My thought is " I hope I can beat the other heart patients". There were a few fast looking guys up in the front and at the start I went out like I was 30 and went through the first mile at 6:11! shit too fast. I settled back and got into a better pace and pretty much ran 6:30 miles from there on out until the finish, I finished in 51:57 and finished 5th overall and first in the heart patient category. I was somewhat pleased with this race and felt ok but not great through out this effort. I was pleased that I passed Diz and Carol with a 1/2 mile to go on their 4mile walk. something we had smack talked about the night before at dinner! Fun event and a fun day. Thanks to Dave Watkins for putting on the first annual Ironheart classic. We hope to make this a great annual event. Here are the results!

Jay at the Ironheart classic 8miler in Seattle

Dizzy comes down the trail at little mountain near his house In Mt Vernon Wa

Diz and I at the summit of Little mountain

This past weekend I traveled down to Ogden UT for the Willard bay Olympic Distance Triathlon. I chose this race because the timing was right and I could drive to the event. I also would be able to meet my client Jay Preston who lives is Salt Lake. I really needed to get a tri under my belt after St. Croix so as to build some confidence going into Lubbock. After arriving at Ogden I met Jay and we went for a prerace swim. The lake was supposed to be 63 degrees but it was really 51 degrees! buuuur. Jay and I then rode the course easy. The bike course was flat and fast although the roads were not great. Jay and I had a nice dinner and got to know each other.

The race the next day went almost good. In the swim I felt pretty strong and even though I was by myself I felt strong and got into a great rhythm. I would come out of the water in 6th overall in a time of 21:40. On the bike my strategy was to take a bit more time to get to pace and it seemed to work as I felt pretty strong from the go and built into a good pace ave around 278 watts for the first loop(12.5miles)I battled with a younger local guy on the second loop but stayed in control trying to make sure I would have a solid race throughout. My bike time would be 1:01 which would rank me the second fastest bike split of the day. I was very pleased on how I felt on the bike. I did have a bit of a mistake on the T2 as I followed the young guy into the transition and right to his rack instead of mine! damn! that was stupid. it took me a while to figure out that I was in the wrong rack. finally I got to my rack and got my run gear on. Then the run. the first couple of miles I felt descent running sub 7min pace. The run course was on a gravel levy( out and back) after a couple of miles my legs felt weak and my cardio system was also getting stressed. At the turnaround, I had to stop and get some rocks out of my shoes. then it just seemed that I was bogging down and at mile four I felt a bit wrong and had some dizziness which concerned me, so I walked through the aid station and gathered myself. I finished the last mile a bit better, but in the end my 45min run was a disappointment. I had hoped to run in the low 40s here. all in all it was much better than St. Croix and somewhat of a regaining of confidence. I do need to be much better on the run come June 26th. The finish results I would end up at 2:10 which would be good for 4th overall and first old guy. Thanks to Jay Preston for coming up early in the morning to support his coach!

we finally are getting some spring time temps here in Montana! must be the global cooling up here. So we got up to the cabin for the first time in 6 weeks! my favorite ride in the world is heading from the cabin to wilsal/clyde park and this weekend all the way around to livingston. Right now the snow pack is still huge and every thing else is green and finally the wildflowers are coming out.

heading to the back side of the battle ridge climb brutal with 18% grades

aaah the open roads of Montana-- from the cabin--sometimes over an hour without a passing car-- there is nothing like it---

On the Clone front-- congrats to Adam Weaver and Jay Preston for great races at the Boise 70.3 race. Jay was 3rd in his age group in a time of 4;21 posting the fastest amateur bike split of the day. And Adam placed 10th in the same 40-44 age group.

with just a week to go until I hoof it to Lubbock(106 degrees today, Yikes)I am sowing up my last key workouts before my taper/rest. I am feeling pretty good and especially with getting my head around just having a clean race at Lubbock, which is what Mike Pigg and I are calling my goal for this race. I am going to be very strict on my HR number and am going to concentrate on that first. what ever happens with my time and place happens after that. No matter what the result I know I have done everything I could do to prepare and am proud of working through how hard it has been given the way my body is and feels. It has been very hard to attempt this and apart from having the surgeries and pic line drip-- the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. I am hopeful that I will get to finish line with that clean race!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trials & Tribulations

(Post by Sarah:) Well! It has been quite an on-again off-again spring. The weather in MT has produced non-stop rains and cool weather...finally getting into full-on spring this week! Jay's races and training seem to have gone up and down with the weather. First we suffered a big disappointment at St. Croix. Then, with the go-ahead from Dr. Scott Sample, Jay came in 5th overall at the Ironheart 8-miler in Seattle. Now, this weekend, he's headed to an olympic distance at Willard Bay. I sure hope it goes well for him!

On the home front, we have also suffered some significant trials, including home damage due to the moisture, termites, and sliding shale behind our home. Chloe is out of school for the summer and starting camp next week. Cale is still going to "baby school" at MSU Billings. I am still teaching a bit and conducting research on the side.

With the end of my university semester, my training (for nothing in particular) has increased and I am beginning to look around for races. I am planning on doing a trail run in Red Lodge, a 10-mile trail run in Bozeman, the Falmouth Sprint Tri, a century ride in the Beartooths, and perhaps a 50 km in August.

I'll be on the East Coast for the month of July...and will be looking forward to catching up with some of the old crew. Jay will remain in Montana, training and racing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

rebuilding confidence/seeing clearly

Since the disappointment of St.Croix it has been hard to get my mojo back. Like most sports the mental side is very important to any success. With a bit less confidence and uncertainty I have wondered whether this quest is even possible after failing a couple of weeks ago. It has been a lot more difficult to get out the door for workouts. Bunches of you have sent nice notes on what happened and I really appreciate the kind words. But it is hard to put in such hard work and get a bad result. I loved endurance racing from the start because for the most part if you worked hard you were rewarded with good results. However, the circumstances are a bit different now and I will have to deal with the other variables involved with my body and somehow find the best way around them. My patterns of recovery with certain loads of training is a lot different than every before and it has been difficult to read how to plan for these ups and downs.

In the past few weeks there has been a change in my guidance. I am now working with Mike Pigg on my training. so far the main difference between Mike and Dave Scott has been the more organic(I will try to explain this) nature of the coaching. Dave's workouts and coaching were great and they were very challenging to say the least. I feel they definitely got me to a new level of fitness. Just getting through those workouts gave me a degree of confidence in my comeback.

The Intensity of Mike Pigg racing

For those of you who don't know of Mike Pigg. Mike is a triathlon Icon. One of the best of all Time. His resume is dense and the Story of Mike Pigg's career is an amazing one which is documented in this 2001 story when he retired from the sport. I got to know mike in 1993 at the multi-sport camp of champions camp in San Diego. The recently passed Dr Hilton Kort and I attended the camp and met Mike for the first time there. Mike is a regular guy with an incredible enthusiasm for sport. His heart is huge and his ability to suffer is legendary. Dave Scott told me recently that Mikes suffer quotient was off the charts. But beyond his desire to win, his attention to detail in his training and his vast knowledge and experience with the process is an incredible resource.

Later in Mikes career we collaborated on a couple of projects including a Triathlon camp in Atlanta/ North Georgia and even produced a cycling video together(which by the way I don't even have a copy of --long story) So it was the logical choice to have Mike work with me on my vision quest.

I have been coaching folks in Triathlon for 20 years now and over those years much has changed in my life. And of course with those changes come the way I look at coaching and my methods. I used to coach by the motto that always got me my results--- "out work the other guy" and that philosophy has served me and my clients well over the years. Now of course there is more technology, more gadgets, and a very different and increasing triathlon crowd. In my my older and hopefully wiser years I have found that there is more to coaching than just placing an incredible work load of swimming, biking and running on an individual. Don't get me wrong now--- if you want to be good at this sport you still have to do a bunch of hard well placed and well paced work in all three sports. However, what has become a bunch more evident to me now, more than ever is how this workload fits in someones healthy life.

Mike Pigg is very conscience of this fact as well. Mike raced for money and that was pretty much it. When he couldn't make a living doing it, he was done. Now Mike loves to be active and still does events for fun, he is planning on doing the Leadville 100 Mtn bike race this summer among other events and adventures. but he doesn't need to do it at his best level anymore--He has been the best-- There are other things more important for him to spend his hours on. Mike and his wife have a real estate business and he has 2 kids of 14yrs old. his daughter Chloe is one of the best distance runners in the state, you can view her racing at Hayward field in Oregon a couple of weeks ago. (on the important docs page of this blog.)

I and most of us are not pro's and don't make a living racing triathlon, so for us amateurs there is a difference in the picture surrounding training and our lives. I asked Mike once in an interview back in 2002, what he would miss from racing, his response was "being super fit". Super fit is what it takes to be competitive on the national stage in Triathlon. I too will miss being "super fit" after this is all over. It makes you feel like superman compared to others. However, I do know that post competitive racing that exercise in many forms will continue to be a big part of our lives and just "fit" will be just fine, and in most respects much healthier for me and my family.

While working with me, Mike asks me every week about how I feel, whats going on with my physical and mental state and what's going on with my life other than training/racing. This week I have Chloe with me for the next 3 days, while Sarah and Cale are in Bozeman for a work conference, and Mike takes this into consideration with my training. He makes it a positive by suggesting spending quality time with your daughter and take some easy days around the extra responsibilities. Today I see this lack of training as a positive, while in previous years I certainly would not.

You see I believe that training for Triathlon at the high level while having a family(not to mention a job) is nearly impossible to really have a healthy balance. I came to that conclusion a while back, based my 20yrs of experience and hundreds of examples of bad outcomes. I know there are exceptions but when I look through all the folks I have worked with over the years( and there is a wide cross section of people in that crowd) I see a huge majority of bad outcomes or troubling circumstances that have occurred as a result of obsessive triathlon training. And let me be clear I include myself in that crowd. What Mike is communicating to me and in a large part what I have been trying to communicate to my clients in the past number of years is that you need to look beyond the training to keep a healthy balanced life. A life that is not clouded by the pull or what I refer to as "the crack pipe"(triathlon addiction).

I have said to many folks in recent years that training 15-25 hrs a week for Triathlon doesn't make me a better father or husband. It flat out doesn't. It costs a ton of money, it makes you tired( with all this affects) and it is a serious time suck even outside the actual hours of training(travel,planning, etc..) With all that said, this is the path I have chosen. I don't fold folks who want to get fit and do a triathlon for a goal to get to better health, into this crowd. I encourage people to race for a way to motivate toward a healthy goal. We are talking about the group that wants to get competitive at the national level and what it takes to do so.

I still love to work with the beginner who sees triathlon as a mode to lose weight and get fit. I was that person back in 1986. I am also taking increasing pride in my work with other heart patients who are battling back from getting knocked down. Inspiring folks to see that anything is possible after being really sick or hurt. I am really looking forward to running in the ironheart classic 8mile race this weekend in Seattle and visiting with other folks that have had similar challenges to mine.

4 months into my personal quest I am trying my best to do what it takes to make the results I seek happen. The training is taking a sacrifice that I am not at all comfortable with. I am looking forward to after it is all said and done that I will be back to having a better balance in my life, spending more time with my family and being fit albeit not super fit. This much is clear

Monday, May 9, 2011

Remembering and Forgetting


Friday night our good friend of nearly 20 yrs, Doctor Hilton Kort passed from his battle from a rare form of Cancer. I worked with Hilton and his family, wife Phillipa, and sons Jonathon and Anton since 1993. They were like a second family to me. I spent many hours with the Kort family, and I will remember many good times spent with Hilton and the family. Hilton hosted a group of us from Atlanta to race with him at Ironman South Africa in 2001; I also had the opportunity to stay at their house in Vail for training camps; I was fortunate to travel with Anton to national junior races; and did countless workouts with all of the family in the Atlanta area. The times I spent with Hilton were always special because he was a special man. Recently we would talk about fighting back from health hardships. I believe we gained strength and resolve from each other.

Hilton and I at Rev 3 Knoxville last year

We raced together exactly a year ago at the Rev 3 Triathlon in Knoxville, TN where we both won our age groups. Hilton had a heart of gold and I always marveled at the closeness of their family. They were committed to fitness and the whole family would do races and events together. Anton and Hilton only a year or so ago raced together at sprint worlds. The Korts were what a family should be. There was a closeness you felt any time you were around the Kort family. Hilton was one of the premier IVF specialists in the entire world; in his work and in his private life he touched so many lives. The world will miss Hilton Kort. I will be wearing a ribbon and gather strength from his strength in every race I do this year.


After the days of depression post St. Croix, I have pushed forward and gotten back on the horse this past week. I have been working with Triathlon Icon Mike Pigg for the past few weeks as Dave Scott has had to cut back on his client load with new business opportunities. The timing was not great on this change but I am very fortunate to be working with Mike now on my quest/comeback. I have kept my HR in check (aerobic) per Mike's advice, until I was tested and met with my doctor (Dr. Scott Sample) this week.

The Echo today came back good and I have checked out fine with the doc. The reason for what happened to my legs in St. Croix is still unknown but there are a few things that we are going to try to do differently moving forward for the next race. I will no doubt have some fear of this happening again but it's time to forget and gain confidence and more fitness moving forward. With my history, it is just going to be very hard to race and deal with the feel of my body and decipher what is normal and what may be not.

Last weekend I ponied up and did a cycling Omnium in Belt, Montana. The Omnium started in the morning with an 11-mile TT and in the afternoon a 50-mile road race. It was a pleasant surprise to race pretty well. I finished 2nd in the TT with a time of 27 minutes and 309-watt ave, and in the road race I was in the mix for most of the cat 1,2,3 and masters A group and ave 260-watts for over 2 hrs. These are the kind of numbers that I was showing going into St. Croix! So I was again encouraged with what my body could still do and that my fitness level was much better than what it showed a week ago.

Next up with be the Ironheart classic 8mile run in Seattle and an olympic race the willard Bay Triathlon in Utah June 4th and on to the Buffalo Springs race on June 26th.

On the clone front, a big congrats to my 62nd Hawaii Ironman qualifier clone, Jay Preston, from Salt Lake City, UT. Jay placed 3rd in the 40-44 age group with a time of 9:57 a 15min PR from last year in the St. Georges Ironman. Jay had the fastest bike split in his age group. Jay will be doing the Boise 70.3 and then getting ready for a great race in Kona. I also want to announce a new clone in Kelly Carter Flynn. Kelly is training for her first triathlon as her family has set a goal to do a Tri together in remembrance of their father who died last year of heart disease and complications from valve repair. Also a shout out to my wife and my best supporter Sarah for a stellar 2nd place in the Montana Women's Run 5miler she was second to non other than Olympic gold medalist and masters record holder Joan Benoit Samuelson. also participating in the women's run (which by the way had an awesome participation of 8700 runners) Sue, Carla, Jennel and my 5yr old Chloe.

This weekend Clones, Dan Brewer, Dr. Paolo Gerbasi, and Mike Fogassey toe the line in the 70.3 Florida in Orlando FL. Good luck guys!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ironheart Racing

The stairway back up

Believe it or not, there are some 100 other heart patient triathletes who are really organized! Jay has just discovered their team - - and joined. Many of them had congenital problems like Jay and are determined to be competitive again. Jay is going out to join their first event in Seattle next week - The Ironheart Classic

When: May 21, 2011 09:00
Where: Marymoor Park- Redmond, WA
What: A 4 mile Fun Run/Walk representing the 4 chambers of the heart,
An 8 mile Run representing the 4 chambers + 4 valves of the heart

If you are in the vicinity, please consider joining Jay in this event!