Ironman South Africa, Ironman 70.3 California, NCAA Men’s Swim Meet

Two big long course races this weekend and other stuff.

-Ironman 70.3 California was viciously fast this year. Lots of very, very fast bros going at it in the men’s race. Strava celebrity and Canadian Lionel Sanders rode an almost ridiculous split of 2:04 and supposedly averaged 376 watts. That’s five minutes faster than the front group of guys. Sanders is 160 pounds. I am more than a little skeptical of a 160 pound triathlete who can run a 1:13 after 90k at 376 watts. Years of having my heart broken by dopers makes me a sour skeptic like this. Heathers Jackson and Wurtele took first and second and I had to reprimand Minnesota’s professional Heather, Lendway, for not making it an all Heather podium. Get it together Lendway. Make it happen. Heathers for the win! Side note, one of my athletes did his first half at this race and nailed the splits we were looking for and my pal Karin got second in her age group!

-Ironman South Africa: Frederik Van Lierde is very strong. He always has been. Probably always will be. That guy always swims near the front. He’s a very good swimmer for being a long course guy. He’s not a ‘destroy everyone at Kona’ rider but against a smaller field he can absolutely destroy everyone. He’s done that several times at Ironman France and did it again at South Africa, rode 10-15 minutes into the rest of the guys. Backs that up with a 2:49. He seems so calm and quiet and doesn’t have much of hype but he is SO STRONG. In my mind he never gets much attention in the media relative to his level of performance. Then again, maybe he’s a superstar in Belgium and doesn’t care about being famous in Minnesota. Goodness, what a stud. After winning Kona in 2013 and not winning in 2014 I feel like most people already forgot him. He’s still good.

I don’t fully understand why Ironman South Africa was designated a regional championship race when there don’t seem to be too many other African Ironman races. Maybe it’s a proactive move to help boost the event and the profile of triathlon in the area. Maybe it’s simply because they’ve made a championship in all the other regions so they didn’t want to exclude this one. Cynically, I think it is to please European customers who want an early season Ironman option with lots of Kona slots. Is there anything wrong with any of that? Not really.

-The NCAA men’s swim meet was this weekend. A guy went under 1:40 in the 200 IM. Breaking 1:40 is hard doing freestyle, obviously. Sub 1:40 IM is nuts. The winner of the 500 went under 4:10 so he averaged quicker than 50 second 100s. The winner of the mile averaged 4:23 500s. The final event the 400 free relay looked exciting, two teams fought it out till the end both going 2:47. Swim times always boggle my mind.

-In cycling Bjarne Riis just got fired from Tinkoff-Saxo, a team he used to own. I’m ambivalent at best about Riis since he doped his way to winning the tour in 96 but he did seem quite competent as a team manager. We will see if he gets hired somewhere else or starts up a new program.

-Justin Gatlin just got sponsored by Nike. He won the 100m on the track in Athens in 2004 while being all doped up then got busted and served a long ban. Since then he’s come back and returned to the top of the sprint game and is Usain Bolt’s main threat in Rio next year. A 33 year old doper returns from lengthy ban and is racing faster than ever…. yeah. Admittedly, if he’s at the top he can bring value to Nike as a sponsored athlete but it seems inevitable he’ll get busted again. Maybe no one cares.

-Ending on a bright note, I’m building up my Litespeed T3 frame this coming week! I got it on my birthday earlier this month and will soon have a full blown press release and such once it is actually ready to ride. So look forward to that!

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Canada is Lousy…

…with long course triathlon talent these days. Women: Angela Duncan (70.3 monster and won Ironman Chattanooga) Magali Tisseyre (another 70.3 monster) and most notably Heather Wurtele (70.3 monster and multi time IM Champion). Men: Brent McMahon (won debut IM last year at AZ under 8 hours) Lionel Sanders (won debut IM last year at Florida without any difficulty, 70.3 monster, of recent fame for riding up Mt Lemmon in Tuscon and getting Strava KOMs which caused quite a hubbub on the internet) Trevor Wurtele (IM champ and 70.3 champ and Heather’s starter husband) and now Mr Jeffrey Symonds just won the first championship Ironman of 2015 by taking the title in Melbourne. That is a good amount of talent and I probably forgot someone.

Canadians are probably too calm and modest to get fired up about this lineup of top performing athletes. They should be hyped though. These are exciting days, these athletes could contend for the title at Kona. As you know I am generally quite derisive of Canada because of the people who live there BUT I will give them credit for producing this crop of top tier talent. Also most of these athletes seem pretty cool which is neat. It seems like most Canadians I meet are actually very neat individuals yet I maintain that the overall populace is reprehensible. This is a bizarre phenomenon that I do not fully understand but I will not be swayed from my anti-Canada belief system.

Unrelated, if you didn’t know it was Doug MacLean’s birthday the other day. Doug is my little brother and I wish him a very happy birthday and for 2015 to be another fabulous year for him. We may have different parents and he may be seven years my senior but as of now I am claiming him as a little brother.

Unrelated, my modeling peer and fellow QR PRsix rider Callum Millward made his Ironman debut at Melbourne. He put together a very smart day swimming and riding sensibly with the chase group and running mid 2:50s. It ain’t easy to go 8:14 your first time. Callum works in hand modeling while I obviously work in spokesmodeling so we are never vying for the same jobs. He rode his PRsix very well and his hands looked great the whole race.

Missy Franklin swam her 200 free at the NCAA meet in 1:39. If you’ve never swum a 200 under 1:40, just rest assured that is wicked fast. I believe she is leaving the NCAA to go pro as she preps for the 2016 Olympic Games. Good call Missy. Very few athletes are in a position to make more money as a pro than they make via scholarship but Missy is definitely of a caliber that the money would be way better as a pro. Get paid!

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New Weekend Notes

Birthday Bike: QR, perhaps the most caring company in triathlon, sent me a bike for my birthday this week! Wednesday I stopped by Gear West Bike to pick up the greatest birthday present of all time. I’m going to be riding a Litespeed T3 titanium road bike all around town very soon (as soon as I get it built up). What is Litespeed? It’s QR. Same company, American Bicycle Group. I plastered lovely photos of the frame all my social media, especially instagram, so go look at them there. If you want a titanium bike for your birthday I strongly advise you to start working with QR.

Intersport Bullying: On my long run this weekend I was the victim of vicious intersport bullying. The leader of a gang of slender runners ruthlessly called out to me “WHERE’S YOUR SPANDEX, NERD!!!!”. I was flustered, furious and deeply hurt. Triathletes have been persecuted for too long. Unrelated, the miscreant who said that hurtful thing to me is hosting a Triathlon 101 evening at his run shop Mill City Running. Myself and two other guests will present all the basic info you need to get started in triathlon. If you know someone who is eager to get into the sport in 2015 please let them know about this event. Tuesday March 24th at 7:30 at Mill City Running. Please remember I am NOT a nerd.

Tri Expo: If you miss me at the Tuesday Talk about Triathlon at Mill City March 24, you can catch me at Gear West Bike’s Tri Expo April 18th and 19th. Gear West Bike is hosting tons of industry reps and race directors and several group workouts. It will be a fun chance to try some new gear, get a deal or two, and mix and mingle with local celebrity spokesmodels.

Holy Moly: There was a shooting in San Juan and it happened close to the 70.3 event. Apparently two athletes on the bike course were hit and hurt. I’ve heard of several unfortunate accidents during races but a shooting is insane to even think about. I’m sure more information will come out soon. Will this incident be the end of that event?

Riding Season: In Minnesota we have had a very pleasant hot flash for the last week. I got to ride outside in the sun every day! Just magnificent. A nice kick start to our riding season. It’s barely mid March so we may get snow again but for now I’m focusing on the positive and pretending it is going to be nice non stop for the rest of the year. Spring break staycation!

Steven Stenzel: As you know Steven Stenzel is my Best Friend Forever For Now and you also know he won a challenge at the YWCA Indoor Tri last weekend against Lisa Lendaway. It was a fierce battle. They swam 600, biked 12 miles, and ran a 5k on the indoor track. Seeing Steve in action reminded me of a Panther hunting it’s prey. He is a smooth and ferocious and very gifted natural athlete, like the Panther. Information is emerging about their race, however. It would seem Steven, and I stand beside him through thick and thin regardless of the scandals he immerses himself in, ALLEGEDLY may have swum 550 yards instead of 600. Yes, he ALLEGEDLY cut off a 50. This is shocking. An investigative committee is already looking into the controversial case. I’m withholding judgement until I have all the information and once I do my judgement will still be in favor of Steven, for friendship reasons. I think that is how our justice system works here in the US. Anyways please stay tuned for more information about #skippeda50gate.

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Weekend Notes

It’s feeling like spring here in Minnesota, so the trails around the city are hustling and bustling with people who just remembered about the outdoors. The ‘hibernators’ are awaking from their indoor slumbers! Welcome back. Some of us who run outside year round have a touch of attitude about hibernators. I wish we didn’t have this attitude, but we do. That said, I’ve been grinding it out on my QR PRsix in the basement nonstop without riding outside since November. Hoping to venture out for an actual bike ride in the next few days.

Here are a couple quick things to know:

-I’m announcing at the YWCA Indoor Triathlon Sunday! Should be a good time. My Best Friend Forever For Now Steven Stenzel is having himself a duel with Lisa Lendway and I look forward to Steven’s superb performance.  Steven is an inspiration.

-Cam Brown won Ironman New Zealand for the 11th time. Eleven wins at his home race! That’s over a decade of Ironman titles! He’s forty two and he beat superstar Terenzo Bozzone who is right in his prime years! I love that salty old dogs can get it done in Ironman. Speaking of salty old dogs, Ken Glah won his age group at IMNZ to get his slot for his 32nd consecutive Kona. 32 two years in a row racing Kona! That’s four years longer then I’ve been alive! I gotta learn some of this hardiness from Ken and toughen up in my own Ironman racing.

-The World Triathlon Series just kicked off in Abu Dhabi and US women were superb. They took 1st, 2nd, 6th, 9th, 10th. That’s five athletes racing at the top level of the most competitive triathlon series. Wow. I think we Americans can be pretty confident going into the Olympics next year. Meanwhile, our men outdid themselves to place 26th and 57th. Our women win whilst our men participate. Just don’t call 26th place a ‘sorry performance’, that athlete happens to be supremely sensitive.

-My schedule on this site is mostly up to date. I’ve included all events, racing, participating, announcing, working social media, and the weeks I’ll be working with Endurance Sports Travel. A few things are pending and will be up soon, most notably the race where Steve and Jeremy and I will reunite for the Best Friends Relay. Will we be the first ever relay at the Hawaiian Ironman?! STAY TUNED.

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Top Seven Reasons to Do Your Training Today: Motivation Monday

1. Training is good for you.

2. Not training is bad for you.

3. Training will make you faster.

4. People who skip training on Mondays are 74% more likely to get a speeding ticket in the next month.

5. People who do their training as assigned are 48% more likely to become champions.

6. Training is the only way to reach your dreams.

7. Training is super fun and stuff.

As far as I know all of these reasons are based on solid facts and research though this is a blog so they might just be made up. Go train.

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Off Course

There was drama at Challenge Dubai yesterday as a bunch of the lead males got mixed up on the bike and missed about fourish minutes of riding time. It’s an bad situation as this affects the whole podium. These athletes cut the course, though not intentionally, and it definitely affected the dynamics of the race. This is a lousy scenario for both the athletes and the race organizers. Do they DQ their champion? It seems they’ve opted to penalize the guys four minutes which changes the finish order but allows the winner to still have won. I have actually been on both sides of that situation as an athlete.

My third race ever was the St Paul Sprint in 2006. It was a small race and I led out of the water and was leading through the bike. That course is an out and back, but instead of going straight back into the park when you arrive you go a little further for another small out and back. I didn’t know about the added out and back and was too hyped about leading to notice anything. I turned straight into the park and missed it. Like the boys in Dubai I missed a few minutes of riding. I, however, opted to unwittingly penalize myself. The run is a simple lap around lake Phalen. I got confused because there are a number of paths criss-crossing and before long I found myself out on the Gateway trail. Once there I realized something was amiss. That is to say, I was missing from the race course. I ran back through a neighborhood and onto the lake again. There was some confusion and hand-wringing after the event as I and Josh Blankenheim chatted with Randy Fulton the race director. I think Josh may also have gotten lost though I believe he added on to the bike course. Anyways, some old dudes from a different wave won so it wasn’t make or break. Also, nothing was on the line. Given my detour on the run I reckon I easily balanced out missing part of the bike but it would have been more than fair to DQ me.

Two years later I benefited from other athletes being directed off-course. At the Liberty half in 2008 I went in my age group wave as I signed up very late. It was a two loop bike course. The lead guys, the Dans (Arlandson and Cohen), and John Shelp were all still together. Someone directed them from the road to go back down into the park to transition before they started lap two. This was a mistake by the volunteer. It must have cost those guys several minutes. By the time we were all on the run, I found myself in third place. I passed Shelp and he said just Cohen was ahead. At the turnaround I checked my split to Cohen and it looked like were would be very close. Over the second half of the run I blew up pretty bad but he must have as well since I narrowly won (though came across the line second). Their detour more than accounts for my margin of victory. Dan Arlandson would also have been in contention but apparently got lost a second time on the bike and was nowhere to be seen on the run. I would have been super ticked had I lost under those conditions but I also accept the win as is. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. You gotta take a win when you can get one! Again, nothing was on the line for us at a local half. If we were racing for a major prize purse and a shot at a triple crown type victory the tension would have been much higher.

On my first QR at Liberty Half in 2008.

On my first QR at Liberty Half in 2008.

Another two years later I benefited from a competitor getting lost. At the inaugural Maple Grove race in 2010 I led all day. Or so I thought. My competition that day was Pat Parish who actually came off the bike first and through the finish first. Unfortunately for Pat he got turned around somewhere on the bike and never passed me to move into the lead. I was actually relieved when I saw his bike in T2 as I figured he’d had an issue and come back early so the pressure was off. After the race I was talking with the USAT officials and they were trying to figure out what to do. Given the amount of time missed it seemed clear in my mind Pat should just be a DQ. This time there was money on the line for the win so I was fairly adamant in my view. I was shocked to hear the officials considering just adding a time penalty. I would have thought there was a more clear cut course of action. It sounds like the officials in Dubai had the same conversation but instead of a DQ they decided on the penalty option.

When this kind of thing happens at the front of a race it’s awkward for everyone. It’s embarrassing for the event. I can relate to both the athletes who missed part of the course and the athletes who didn’t. In this case it is more uncomfortable because the race is part of a triple crown style series so there are implications for the rest of the year, not to mention the hefty prize purse on the day. All the athletes have invested major time and money just to be there. All the top athletes raced very hard and performed well, irregardless of the missed chunk of time. What is most fair? If the rules are crystal clear on this scenario I would feel better with any decision. Knowing that officials might be discussing and deliberating on the scene doesn’t give me the same confidence in the outcome. No one likes races being decided by officials after the fact. I have a hard time really holding a strong opinion without being in the race. If I had cut the course but gotten top ten? Give me a penalty and a check. If I were Tim Reed, the first non-course cutting finisher? Give me the title, thank you. I’d vote self-interest every time. No apologies.

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Motivation Monday: Running with the Legends

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If you’re looking for a little motivation today then Running with the Legends is the book for you. The book tells the stories of 21 great runners. You get the story of their career in the sport and how they became legendary athletes. If you can read about their training and not want make yourself better you should quit endurance sports. These athletes raced different events, lived different lives and had different approaches to training but you will definitely see themes. They all had desire, a vision for their path, and the will to train very hard for decades. The author gets the athletes to share their training ideas and you will be impressed with the amount of information. I’ve been reading and rereading this book for a couple years now. My favorite athlete is Robert de Castella for his mustache, attitude and calm approach to preparation.

A few quotes from the book:

From Robert de Castella: “It’s the foolish idea that if you do a little more, faster, then you’ll get better than the rest and it ignores the fact that you must train at your optimal level, not your maximum level.” (Fun fact: he averaged 105 miles a week from 1979 to 1992)

From Juma Ikangaa: “If you want to run 2:08 marathons, you must train fast.” Wise words.

From Grete Waitz: “Hurry slowly” Be dedicated and disciplined and work hard, but take your time. Move ahead, but be patient.

From Frank Shorter: “I’ve always had a simple view of training for distance running: two hard interval sessions a week and one long run… every other run is aerobic, and you do as much of that for volume as you can handle. Do this for two or three years, and you’ll get good.”

From the chapter on Toshihiko Seko you’ll read the expression “unlimited effort”. I keep that phrase in my back pocket and bring it out for certain workouts.

Now go train!

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