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!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back to the drawing board

This is a very hard blog to write but as they say -- I need to cowboy up! Things today did not go as planned in St.Croix. All week I was feeling positive and the body and mind were good. All my tune-ups went well and on Thursday I went up the Beast(the .7-mile hill of avg. grade of 15%)in 7 minutes, pretty much no problem at 140 HR. I felt rested, and nervous, but ready to roll and I was confident that I had done all the prep I could do to be ready for this test. Race morning was also good with all my gear and nutrition ready to race this very difficult course.

The swim started and I got out to a good start and settled into my pace and felt pretty good and relaxed. I got a good draft from Roger Wacker and another in my group on the way back in. I came out in 32 and change and thought -- "Damn, I thought I could go more like 30 here," but looking at the times and my place (7th) out of the water I was in pretty good shape going into the bike.

Then everything went bad. I started the bike and immediately thought, "Shit, my legs feel like crap!" but I didn't panic, I knew it was a long hard race and my legs surely would come around. The first short loop and into town, Sarah shouted that I was in 4th. OK, my legs feel like shit but I am OK if I get some legs sometime soon, I tried as I might, easier gears, harder gears, standing, etc.... but it was like I had a bad electrical current in my legs that wouldn't allow me to push any power to the pedals. At mile 20 I hit the "Beast," where just a few days ago I went up it pretty easy. Not this time. I was barely able to get up the thing. Over the top and down to the faster section of the course. I stayed in the game and continued to fight to find something. By mile 30 I was actually pushing my hand on my quads to push the pedal down. I was relegated to the small ring and barely able to push 200 w. I was done.

I spun easy to the short loop and cut through --- I really don't think I could of got around the hard side of the island for the last 20 miles. And certainly could not have run. It was like I was bonked after a century. I saw Sarah at the corner of the short loop and said to her, "I have never felt legs on the bike quite like that before." I was able to get to the room barely and now I am processing what exactly happened.

I can't tell you how disappointed and embarrassed I am about this. I knew this quest was going to be hard but I really thought that my training numbers were good and I was ready to perform today. I obviously wasn't. I have had so many people routing for me and supporting me in this quest. I have let you all down today and it really hurts. I even had a good cry as I watching the "Bucket List" on the tube. I have no idea why it went bad today --- which is the most frustrating. Everyone has bad days with bad legs and I --- like everyone has had my fair share of bad days on the race course. There were a couple of incidents in Training were something like this happened to me. A few weeks ago at a practice TT (17 miles) my legs where a bit bad like this and I was very average on the bike. And In Las Vegas I had a day with very little power as well. But everyone has bad training days within a training block. right? Last week, however, I felt great and my power was very strong. I tapered from 20 hrs to 10 hrs to 6 hrs the last 3 weeks and nothing seemed to indicate a problem. Although maybe tapering was the problem? But there was certainly something very wrong today. I don't know whether my heart had anything to do with this but I am scheduled for testing in the next couple of weeks to make sure it had nothing to do with the way I felt today. My gut feeling is that my heart is fine, my breathing and heart felt fine today it was my legs that were the problem.

In any case there is just a couple of choices for me going forward. One, give this whole thing up and forget about racing at this level or fight back and give it more time and another shot at Buffalo Springs. This is not the end..... Buffalo Springs 70.3, here I come. and tonight many drinks

thanks for all the well wishes and I am sorry for today