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It is hard to believe that in a week I’ll be in Hawaii, and that I am less than two weeks away from the start of the Ironman World Championships. My wife Molly and I watched most of America’s Got Talent this year (the first season of this show we watched), and the judges often asked the contestants what their act meant to them. The answers were generally some cheesy plea to get the judges to accept them to the next level. I started thinking though, “what does Kona mean to me?”

Most people don’t realize that I was swimmer initially. Not that great of a swimmer, but I swam year round from age 7 until age 12. My first award wasn’t until I was 11 years old, a 6th place ribbon for 100 yard breast stroke. I actually bawled when I got that ribbon. I don’t think my coach, Dennis Good, realized that I had never won anything. Breast stroke became my favorite event, although I still rarely won anything. My sister and I became burned out from five years of year round meets and practices, so we were relieved when our parents asked us if we felt like leaving the swim team. A couple years later when I started high school I joined the high school swim team and appreciated the feeling of getting into shape and actually started enjoying swimming again.

At the end of my freshman year we moved from California to Saratoga Springs, New York. Since I wasn’t swimming I decided to start running to hold onto some of my fitness. I ran one mile a day. After a few weeks I was chasing down a slow old guy during the last half of my mile run. I realized later that he had slowed so we could run together. I told him how we had just moved out from California, and I was shocked to find out that he worked with my dad and had just moved out from California for the same job. Gary Ballard quickly adopted me as his running protégé. He told me I could run a 10K, which I never imagined doing, and I quickly fell in love with running. He also told me about triathlons, knowing that I was a swimmer. The idea sounded fascinating! My sophomore year in high school I ran on the cross country and track teams, and swam with the YMCA team where I still preferred breast stroke. I hadn’t really thought anymore about triathlons, but was swimming and running regularly. Again, I wasn’t really that good at either sport, but enjoyed them both a lot. My performances were good for smaller meets, but as soon as I raced in invitationals or even regional championships, I wouldn’t come close to placing.

Another year later I moved back to California, and saw a triathlon magazine in Waldenbooks. I remembered Gary telling me about triathlons, and the cover was intoxicating with a cyclist that looked more like an astronaut with the aero helmet and aero bars. I read every single word in that magazine, and I mean every single word. I studied the magazine information, advertiser’s small print, classifieds, etc. I was extremely motivated to do a triathlon. I was running cross country in the fall, and joined the city’s masters team. My masters coach, Dean Drury, was surprised that I was swimming two-a-days from the start, especially since I had run for cross country practice between the two swims. I didn’t care about breast stroke anymore. I just wanted to do distance freestyle, because I knew I wanted to compete in triathlons. I finally got a bike for Christmas, and it wasn’t really what I wanted, but realized I couldn’t do a triathlon without a bike. It was a 40+ pound ten speed from Sears, and I started riding with a couple friends, namely Eric Dickerson, who also rode 40+ pound bikes. We would ride up to Lake Berryessa with 2 liter bottles of Coke strapped to our bikes. I had no knowledge or experience on a bike, and started reading Sally Edwards’s book on triathlon training.

My first triathlon was the Icebreaker triathlon, a part of the Redwood Coast Triathlon Series. I believe it was in March of 1986. It was a sprint triathlon: ½ miles swim, 3 mile run, 15 mile bike. My parents and sister were there for that race, and so was my old swim coach Dennis Good. He had become an Ironman triathlete, and was competing. I remember a lot of the excitement leading up to that race. This race was my first step in approaching my dream of competing in the Ironman that I had since read a lot about. In my race packet there was a picture of the swim at Kona, and we were laughing about how crazy that looked. Well, I was soon about to experience a smaller version of how crazy that was. The race had about 300 people in it with no wave starts, and no wetsuits. We stood in the freezing water, and when the gun went off I had my worse swimming experience ever! Of course I was clueless, and was packed in the middle, and absolutely didn’t expect to have people swimming on top of me, punching and kicking me. I panicked and fought as hard as I could to get out of there. I probably never swam so hard, but managed to be one of the first swimmers out of the water. My hands were shaking from over exerting myself and I fumbled putting on socks, running shorts, a tee-shirt, and tying my shoes and was in 12th place when I left T-1. The run out of transition was a 10% grade boat ramp. My arms were so engorged with blood that they felt like pure lead, and that there was no blood left for my legs that were screaming as I tried to run. My lungs were on fire and I was shocked at how horrendous I felt. I finished the run in 50th place. I was sooo glad to be on the bike, but I was soooo slow. It took me 1 hour to complete the fairly flat 15 mile course, and 100 people passed me, for a 150th place finish. It was spectacular, and I was hooked. I was now a triathlete, and I knew what I needed to work on.

I love the excitement I see in new triathletes, or even in seasoned triathletes that act as if triathlon is THE ONLY sport. I have a lot of other interests now, but for a long time I felt the same way. I really wanted to do Ironman, the king of all triathlons. I didn’t know many triathletes. I swam with swimmers, ran with runners, and biked…well, not with cyclists. Cyclists were too exclusive, and I couldn’t figure them out. My friend Eric and I rode our bikes more and more, and harder and harder. We would find out about time trials in Davis or Fairfield, and showed up to them to kick almost everyone’s ass there on our crappy bikes. The bike shop owners and other cyclists that bragged about “hammering”, who we beat, would say “wow…you guys should really get better bikes.” We had no money, or jobs, and certainly no sponsorship or mentorship from these guys. This is one reason I am absolutely enamored by what I see Jim Vance doing with his young athletes. I look at that and think “wow, if only I had someone teaching me how to run or bike at that age….”

After that first race I started running 3 miles to swim practice, swim for an hour, then run 3 miles back home, prior to going to school to get used to transitions. I would then swim with my swim team in the afternoon. I was going to bed early and getting up very early, and I was only in 11th grade. The few times I told teachers or friends what I did in the morning, they refused to believe me. I worked in a few 15 mile runs, and then did the Davis marathon, just a couple months after my first triathlon. I ran 7 minute pace for the first 20, and then bonked. There were no gels back then, and I didn’t eat the entire marathon. I finished with a time of 3:30. I really wanted to run the marathon in pursuit of my Ironman dream, but gained some fear when I struggled for over an hour to run the last 6 miles.

It didn’t take long for me to start doing well in triathlons. I had never done well in any sport before, but I was just good enough in all three legs of the triathlon that I was doing awesome. I taught myself to bike as hard as I ran, and routinely had a 40K split of 1 hour if the course wasn’t too hilly. I had two bike accidents during my first year of triathlon that were both major setbacks, but I didn’t lose focus of my goals. My first year in college I improved my swimming to a 500 yard time of 5:05 and 1000 yard time of 10:14. Still not good enough for large meets, but since not too many people wanted to swim those distances I helped the team out a lot. I usually placed second on the swim during triathlons. I had bad eyesight, so I couldn’t see the buoys and had to follow the lead swimmer out of the water. There used to not be timing chips, and transition splits weren’t determined, so although I usually had a very fast transition I would let the first swimmer out of T-1 right ahead of me instead of stealing the fastest swim time.

In 1988 my goal was to qualify for the Bud Light US Triathlon Series National Championships in Hilton Head, SC. I ended up qualifying at three different events. I almost didn’t go because I had no money to get there, and subsequently felt criticized by some of the people that really encouraged me in my goal to qualify. My youth pastor announced “he never wanted to go, he just wanted to qualify”. That was not the case. I was just too young and stupid to think about how I would actually get there if I qualified. I was just focusing on qualifying. Well, I decided that I should go, so I ended up working 40-60 hours a week (I figured out ways to work overtime), at McDonald’s of all places. My training sucked. My school work sucked. But I went. I had a pathetic performance, but it was still an incredible experience going there.

It wasn’t much longer that I realized nothing was really going well in my life. I had moved out on my own, living with criminals (putting it nicely), working full time at night as a line cook at a truck stop, failing in college, and getting fat and out of shape. I still saw myself as a triathlete, and knew that I wanted to go to Kona. When I enlisted in the Navy it was important for me to get my bike out to Orlando, where I was stationed for a year while in Nuclear Power Training. I hardly rode it, and didn’t do a triathlon for several years. I was on submarines when I started racing intermittently. Even though I never had a good training program, I always seemed to do pretty well in the races. I held onto my dream of doing Kona, but never seemed to get into enough shape that I even pursued getting in. In 1994 I did a lot of races as I was getting in shape for Navy Dive School. My fitness was great, helping me rank first in my dive school class, and I had some good races. While in dive school at Pearl Harbor, I went and did the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, one of the events that inspired the Ironman. Then I went about 7 years without much racing, except the inaugural Rock n Roll Marathon in 1998. I had lost the dream, and recall having dinner with a friend (around 1997) and telling him how at one time my dream was to go to Kona, but that I really had no desire to do that anymore. Those words coming out of my mouth almost shocked me. How could I have given up on something that I was so determined and passionate about?

In 2001 I started racing triathlons again, and was loving it, until I had another bike accident in 2002. I was in great shape but my recovery took me a lot longer than I had expected. I lifted a lot of weights, and did a lot of running in 2004 and 2005. I started getting interested in events other than triathlon. I was in medical school at the time, and some classmates were getting interested in doing their first triathlon. I remember telling my friend, John Laird, that triathlons weren’t that big of a deal. I had lost that spark somehow. I did a couple triathlons mainly because my friends were doing them, and of course I beat them all. Not only that, but some of them that did a ¼ iron distance race, my time for the ½ iron distance race was less than double their time. I started to get the triathlon bug again, and really wanted to get a spot for Kona. I was also getting a little tired of meeting Ironman athletes that were either much slower than me, or the Ironman was their first or second triathlon ever. I was in great shape in June 2006 and tried to qualify for Kona at the Eagleman triathlon. I fell apart on the run (biked too hard, plus my seat post came loose and dropped all the way down). I stayed around for the roll down and picked up a spot for Ironman Florida in November. I decided I just needed to tackle that beast. Unfortunately I had surgery and ob/gyn rotations starting, and in four months before the Ironman gained 20 pounds, swam zero times, biked zero times, and ran a total of 100 miles (<5 miles most weeks), longest run 10 miles. That’s not completely true, because I had also signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon, so 6 days prior to IMFL went and ran a marathon on no training. I finished IMFL in 13:52, in the cold dark night. It was the most amazing experience and I was wearing my medal to bed for about a week.

Since then I’ve tried qualifying at Eagleman 2007, Oceanside 2008, 2009, IMAZ 2008, and finally did so at IMAZ 2009. IMAZ 2008 I finished in 10:31, and 2009 in 9:33. It was projected before the race that there would be 8 of the 72 qualifying spots going to my division (M40-44). I predicted that a race time of 9:45 should be good enough to qualify, but with 9:33 I was in 9th place. I had to sweat it out all night, excited about my race and finish, but sick to my stomach that I once again missed qualifying. The actual allocations are calculated based on people that start the race, so when I showed up the next morning I couldn’t believe it when I saw there were 9 spots for my division, and the cutoff line was drawn under my name. It was unreal. Molly and I were both so excited. She’d been through this triathlon journey with me, and knew all the ups and downs way too well. There were 456 starters in my age group, out of 2516 total starters, so although we got 12.5% of the qualifying spots, we had 18.1% of the competitors. The roll down ended up going to 12th place, but it was so awesome to show up and not have to sweat the roll down. I was talking to Kevin Koresky right after registering for Kona, and he said “was there ever a doubt?” I couldn’t believe it. Sure, I understood it was a compliment, but “was there ever a doubt”?! I approach people all the time when I see them wearing Ironman World Championship clothing, and a couple months prior to IMAZ approached a woman at the YMCA. She went on about how she’s done Kona many times, and that 2009 was the first year she hadn’t qualified. She never had a doubt, and was surprised when she didn’t qualify. I later met a triathlete in Irvine on the coffee crew ride ranting about how he couldn’t believe he didn’t qualify. He was in my division at IMAZ, and he never had a doubt, and still managed to tell me how his bike split was better than mine.

My first triathlon was 24.5 years ago, and I’ve been in the Navy for over 21 years now. When I joined the Navy, I wanted to get a college education. It was tough convincing the Navy to send me to school because I had transcripts with Ds and Fs, but had ranked at the top of my classes in the Nuclear Power Training pipeline. I dealt with 6 years of rejections, but then ended up with three associate degrees from San Diego Mesa College, a BSN from Point Loma Nazarene University, an MD from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, and now am about to get an MS from UC Irvine, all sponsored by the Navy. This year I am achieving some very big goals: racing at Kona for the first time, and graduating from residency. People are used to me racing in a Navy uniform. That is not because the Navy is supporting my triathlon activities (although I was able to race at the Armed Forces Championships in 2009 and 2010 which is an incredible experience, and funded by Navy Sports). I’ve never had a sponsor, and have decided that since the Navy has been such a big part of my life, I should wear something that says Navy on it instead of anything else.

I already have big goals for next year, namely Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200K randonneuring event that only happens every four years. But what does Kona mean to me? It is like going to the moon…something I’ve dreamed about for so long I’m afraid I might wake up before the landing.


Date: Sunday, September, 26. 2010

The TriClub races are some of my favorite races. There is always good competition there and there are plenty of beginners that want to try an unofficial race prior to doing a ‘real’ race. To me, these races are pretty real. Sure, I stay out later the night before, sleep in a little, do less of a warm up, but all that adds to it. I just like to get out there and have a hard effort with some of my old friends, make some new friends, and maybe even beat a competitor. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with one of these club races, but have surely been let down at many of the big races where you pay a lot of money and get lost in the crowd.

Today’s race follows a 17 mile run on Thursday, a 60 mile night ride up Kitchen Creek on Friday, and a 50 mile ride on Saturday. Phillipe Krebs told me after the race that he had biked Honey Springs yesterday and doesn’t ever feel well biking two days in a row hard. I have had many back to back hard rides, such as a 200K on Saturday and another on Sunday, and really like the feeling of starting on tired legs. It is amazing how tough it can feel initially, but then once I get warmed up my legs really feel ready to ride.

The theme of today’s race was ‘retro’. My first triathlon was back in 1986. I definitely had retro gear, but have parted ways with it over the years. It was almost like walking through a museum as I saw Scott bars, grip shifters, down tube shifters, the first Profile bars, etc. I was commenting to a newbie, Miles, that I had once drooled over the bike that he brought to the race, a Dave Scott signature Ironman – Centurion. The garb was also interesting, and I remember running many triathlon in a speedo and no shirt. I regret not bringing my camera with me today, because it was definitely a sight to see and remember. The sport of Triathlon is infamous for tri-geek gear, and many of these innovations were on display today.

The race started with a 30 second head start for those not wearing wetsuits, encouraging racers to go retro and not utilize expensive neoprenes as an advantage. I lucked out because I had already decided to not race in a wetsuit. Partially I was a little lazy in wanting to deal with the wetsuit, but also I knew the water was warm, the course was short, and in two weeks at Kona wetsuits aren’t allowed. I thought of what the swim at Kona will be like after we started and I couldn’t see more than a foot. Someone told me last week that the water at Kona had a 300 foot visibility. So, just a bit better than the Mission Bay water at Fiesta Island. Before I hit the first buoy I saw Phillipe Krebs in his wetsuit sailing past me. I tried to jump on his draft, and all that did is cause a collision with the person already drafting off of Phillipe. I didn’t worry about it. These fast guys are used to swimming past slower swimmers anyway, unless they start in the elite wave. There was no hanging onto Phillipe’s draft though. He was so smooth in the water that he just seemed to effortlessly slip through.

The bike has become my game, although I usually think of triathlon as my game. I started off at a fairly brisk pace, but was really relaxed and not too worried about the power or pace. I just wanted to go off of feel and not kill it too hard. I’m in tapering mode after all, and this was just to get some hard effort in, but less than all out. I flew by Phillipe as he was chatting with another rider on the course. I could tell he wasn’t focused on a best effort. I then passed by professional Xterra triathlete Trevor Glavin. I didn’t think much of it, but the look on his face made me appreciate the moment that much more. I did push the last lap of the bike course because I really started to feel warmed up, although my fourth lap ended up being the fastest (26.9 MPH average). Overall I averaged 26.1 MPH, and my NP was 314, only about 92% of my FTP, but not bad without warming up and for a triathlon.

When I got off the bike I saw that Trevor wasn’t far behind, and knew I was doomed. I held him off for about ½ mile. I was running about 6:20 pace at the time, but it sure didn’t feel like it when I saw how fast he was running. It would have been good for the old fat guy to win a race, but now I had to fight for second place, which I gave up about 2 miles later. I saw Molly about a ½ mile before the finish when I lapped her, and wish I had told her that if someone is coming to chase me down to yell out. Well, I guess I didn’t have to tell her because as I was starting up the small hill before the finish she yelled “run Jerrrrry! Run!” which was quickly followed by Brandon Mills yelling “slow down!” I was running at about 6:30 at the time, but dug deep and ran sub 6 for the remainder of the race, only to beat Brandon by a couple seconds. I wasn’t planning on running that hard, but it did feel good to give a last minute push. When I crossed a girl gave me a shell she found on the island and told me it was the 3rd place prize. I asked her what 4th got, and she said “nothing”. It was good razzing Brandon. I had a 30 second head start on him because he chose at the last minute to race with a wetsuit. I guess we’ll never know if he could have won if he gave up the wetsuit and took the head start.

Phillipe Krebs took it easy, and finished behind a lot of people that he normally destroys. Brandon deserved the razzing though because he likes to stir up the competition before the race.

It was definitely another beautiful day on the island. I was excited to see so many people bragging about how much fun they had. Triathlon is definitely a fun sport that should be enjoyed and the TriClub definitely reminds us of that.


Friday, September, 24, 2010

Today started off as a typical Friday. I went swimming at the Mission Valley YMCA with Masters, and then headed up to Irvine. I found out I didn’t really need to go up there, but it ended up being a good time for me to take care of some computer work and literature research I needed to do. Although I didn’t really enjoy spending 3 hours in the car commuting, there’s something rather satisfying in accomplishing work that needs to get done. So, what to do on a Friday evening after working all week? Today we did something a little different. Molly and I headed from home at around 5:30 PM and drove out to Pine Valley. There we met a few fellow randonneurs and embarked on a rather short but great adventure. We were heading out for a night ride. Instead of riding from daybreak until dark, we started at dark. Here we are prior to our 7 PM start.

Molly was really excited about this ride. We had started the same ride a couple months ago, but after about 25 miles Molly’s rear derailleur cable broke. Since the climb up Kitchen Creek was still ahead, we had to bail on the ride. There was some unfinished business left out here, and we also wanted to get some experience riding at night.

At 7 PM we took off, and kept the pace pretty mellow.

We rode with Kelly Deboer for quite a while, but he was going back and forth between us and Osvaldo Colavin and Kevin Foust behind us. Kelly is a very strong rider, keeping us on our toes. I noticed that he had a dyno hub and commented that it didn’t seem to be slowing him down much. He pointed out that he also had a heavy bike, wheels, 28 mm Gatorskin Hardshell tires, so he wasn’t too concerned about the dyno hub. It was definitely nice for the first 25 miles or so when Kelly was around because of the extra illumination he provided. Here is Kelly, leading the way out of Pine Valley.

The first 40 mile or so was basically our warm up before the infamous climb up Mount Laguna by Kitchen Creek Road. Molly and I stopped at mile 30 to get some more water and use the restroom. It was a pretty long stop for us, and our legs were definitely feeling it even though we hadn’t ridden very far yet. We had decided to put on our arm warmers though because the temperature was drifting down and we had hit a few areas where we hit some cold canyon air. It was a good move because as we descended down Old Highway 80 we hit some very cold air that bit right through the arm warmers. It wasn’t much longer and we were almost sweating again. I was amazed to see how well Molly has adapted to some of the cool riding now that she is becoming a rookie ultra distance cyclist (vice a ‘veteran’ or ‘seasoned’ ultra-cyclist…inside joke).

Kitchen Creek Road is awesome. After we turned onto it, we didn’t see a single car and eventually the buzz from I-8 faded. I was just reading in Running Times about running trails at night, and have some friends that like to mountain bike at night. Kitchen Creek, although a paved road, offered a lot of the same attractions. It was away from everything. The moon light provide great shadows. There were incredible sounds coming from the wilderness. Mike Berry said he rode up without lights on because of the clear night and full moon. I suppose after 20 minutes of letting your eyes adjust it would have been incredible to do that. We kept our lights on though. There were a couple holes that we avoided with our lights, and some large piles of crap. Molly thought it was bear poop out there, but I figured it was from a trail runner. I don’t think there are many bears out there.

Molly, the conservationist, managed to run over a tarantula on the climb, and threatened to run over a rodent. She also ate a few bugs that go in her way, so most of the animals just stayed clear. I guess Molly didn’t see this sign in the dark:

After we crossed the gate where cars are not allowed, we saw below us a couple lights of other riders. Otherwise we didn’t see anyone else out there. It was great riding along with Molly the entire way. I think it would have been a little freaky out there alone at night.

At the top we put on our jackets to block the wind as we descended down Sunrise Highway. The descent was amazing. I could see the road ahead very well with the moon light and our NiteRider lights. Sunrise Highway is a smooth road with easy turns. I know during the day I can handle all the turns going as fast as possible. Even though I can navigate the road well, I held onto a little caution since at 40+ (max speed was 41.7 MPH), there isn’t much time to act on seeing something in the road suddenly.

We finished the ride at 11:43 PM. The record we broke today was that this was the latest we’ve ridden our bikes. I got to bed at 1 AM, and had to deal with our dog that is used to getting up at 4 AM with us. She was STARVING! We were up for good at 6 AM, and out the door at 7 AM for another ride with Canari-Navy. It was tough getting going, but a good drill as we’ll need to do this several days in a row at PBP.


Date: September 18, 2010

Distances: Olympic distance (1.5K Swim, 40K Bike, 10K Run)

Today was the second San Diego Tri Classic, put on by Moment Cycle Sport. Last year I really enjoyed this race, and couldn’t wait to do it again this year. This year’s race was definitely much more polished with more accurate course measurements, timely start, better transition area design, and no sprint race. These were the things I thought were improved. Although there are likely to be a lot of triathletes that would have liked to see a sprint race too, I think it is much better when there is only one race on the course. The course was narrow in a couple sections, some road areas were bumpy, and there were a number of sharp turns and u-turns, but overall it was a fun and pretty safe course.

This race is located in Point Loma at Liberty Station. Liberty Station is where the Naval Training Center had been, which used to have a Navy basic training and other schools. I remember when I first was stationed here I’d see the recruits marching around the base, and we would go there sometimes to the pool or commissary. Liberty Station has retained a lot of the original architecture in their shopping center. They also have a large park there where the transitions and start/finish were located. There is also a lot of parking close by, which is actually a big plus in San Diego. I arrived at the venue shortly after 5 am. When I was setting up my transition area I met a gentleman doing his first triathlon. I gave him some suggestions and answered some questions. I kept it simple and didn’t get into many details, explaining that the first triathlon you do is the biggest learning experience you’ll have in the sport. This was definitely true for me, and I suspect it is so for most people.

The swim began right after sunrise, and was in a small part of the San Diego Bay. I used to have a boat that I would launch out of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) and drive through these waters to get out to the ocean. Back then I never considered swimming in this water. It doesn’t look very clean, and they issued us a warning of potential chemicals in the sediment (“…metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, and PCBs…”). It is interesting to see such a warning since I am learning about these and other environmental toxins right now. I decided the warning wasn’t anything different than I would have suspected being present anyway, so I just decided to not drink the water and hope for the best. I was in wave seven, starting 18 minutes after the elite wave. I didn’t hear any warning of the start, just the horn, so I wasn’t as ready as I like to be. My swimming has been feeling better since I’ve been swimming much more for almost two months now. I knew Bill Gleason was there, and that he is a fast swimmer, so when I saw someone about 10 yards ahead of me I decided to suffer a little and push it until I got on his feet. I never quite got right on him, but was close enough that I could feel the draft and see bubbles from his swimming. There were a lot of floating bodies to dodge out there, which never bother me except when they start to do a frog kick or scissor kick. I’ve been kicked hard several times before in this type of kicking and really wish people would understand that and avoid just stick to a flutter kick. There were several times I saw people kicking like that as I was passing them and I decided to push them away. I certainly wasn’t trying to annoy a swimmer that is uncomfortable in the water. It was purely self preservation.

After the turn around on the swim I was still in Bill’s draft when all of a sudden he slowed to almost a stop. I didn’t know what was going on, but later found out he was cramping. I thought he was tired of me drafting and he wanted his turn being pulled, but after I passed him I looked back and he wasn’t there. Near the last bouy I saw to my right someone in my wave passing me, so I jumped into his draft and relaxed the last bit as he pulled me in. I thought it was Bill again, but it was Chase Watts, who was wearing a LA Tri Club jersey.

The bike consisted of two loops. We rode onto Subase, where I used to be stationed for about five years. The best part of this course is that we got to ride up a steep hill on the base, McClelland Rd. It is a 0.6 mile road with average grade of 7.1%, but the main part of the hill is much steeper than that. My times for the two hill climbs were 4:00 and 4:02 (341 and 343 average watts, respectively). I stayed in the aero bars for the entire climb, and didn’t see anyone else doing that. Molly told me later that she used the aerobars for the entire climb. She also said that she’s learned to go much faster downhill after she’s seen how I descend. I mostly passed people on the climb, but I am not fast climbing hills like this. There were a couple people that passed me uphill, but I never saw them again once I passed them at the top. I didn’t see Molly on McClelland, but she was catching me on a shorter climb, and she was taunting me! It was hilarious! I loved it.

The run was completely flat. The course goes around the recruit training ship. I went to recruit training in Orlando and we had a ship just like this. I look at it now and realize how that in no way prepared me for what a real ship is like. I was pleased with my run, since I still feel my running is lagging behind the rest of my fitness. I managed to run a 6:28 average pace by Garmin, 6:40 average pace by official results.

Overall I finished first in M40-44, second age-grouper overall, and seventh overall including the pros. Macca showed up, beating Karl Bordine by six minutes, and beating me by 15 minutes. I really didn’t know what to expect since I hadn’t been on the bike all week after my 252 mile ride last Saturday, and my training wasn’t very good since I had extra driving up to UCLA this week.

I have to start thinking about race day nutrition again. Today I ate about 700 calories prior to the race over an hour and a half, finishing 30 minutes prior to race start. I don’t think I needed that many calories, but tend to eat a little extra with the pre-race anxiety. During the race I took in zero calories, and only had three small sips of water during the run. This was plenty. I saw people with multiple water bottles filled with sports drinks, and several bars and gels in their transition area. I know I eat too much, and obviously there are a lot of people out there that do too.

JT Lyons and Cory Osth, along with the rest of the Moment Cycle Sport crew, put on another great race. And of course it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the many volunteers!

I forgot my camera today, so no pictures, but Kevin Koresky took a lot. Click here to see his photo gallery.


Date: Saturday, September 11, 2010

This ride was another benchmark ride for Molly and I. Our previous longest ride was the 300K this year where we covered 188 miles and over 12,000 feet of climbing on the tandem. I have done five 300K brevets total, my first in Pennsylvania in May of 2008, but hadn’t yet braved a 400K. This ride was unique in that it was point to point. Any brevet covers a lot of territory, but being point to point we ended up travelling through many cities and counties. We started in Simi Valley at the Amtrak station, so Molly and I headed up the evening before on the Amtrak and stayed at a hotel about one mile away from the start. We planned our travel from downtown San Diego Amtrak, where the Pacific Surfliner begins, and rode business class to get early boarding privileges. One concern we had was having room to load our bikes because there are few bike racks and on there were people taking the train up to Irvine for the Amtrak Century on the same day. The train trek was about four hours long, and it was great. Driving would have taken longer, and been much more stressful. When we arrived we felt good! This was our first train adventure, and we will definitely consider it again if it looks like we can avoid driving somewhere. There were many plusses, but I have too much to write about already, so I’ll move on.

Here are some pictures of us with our bikes loaded in the truck before Kendall dropped us off at the Amtrak Station, and then waiting at the station.

When we got off the train at about 8:15 PM in Simi Valley we saw Kevin Foust and Osvaldo Colavin, so we rode together in the dark to the hotel. The next morning when we were leaving we saw Ed Sheppard checking out, so we rode with him in the dark back to the station where the start was. Ed showed me his setup for external power to his Garmin 705 (which has a battery life up to 13 hours). My set up for additional power is pretty simple, and worked out real well. There have been some concerns on the listserv chat about this, which is why I’ll mention it. I bought an energizer charger that takes 2 AA batteries for just a few bucks at Rite Aid. It is definitely not anything fancy, but works real well. Since the charger can’t plug into the Garmin when it is mounted to the bike, I just took the Garmin off the mount, plugged in this small charger, and stuffed it in my jersey pocket for a half hour during a time when I didn’t need to look at the computer. When it is dark and I don’t have to make a lot of turns where I’m tracking the distance between turns it isn’t necessary to refer to the computer. I kept it running the entire time to capture data, and I had no interruptions or data loss. Ed and I are friends on Strava, and he commented that he was surprised I’d want to be friends with him. Actually, any rando that rides in the San Diego area I would like to be friends with on Strava. I’m intrigued by some of the routes that Ed does. It is easy to keep doing familiar routes, but seeing his adventures has pointed out some roads to me that I’ve never been on. So, send me a friend request if you’d like.

The ride occurred nine years after 9/11. The news stories in the morning were about how that day has affected every day since for some of the survivors that lost family on 9/11. Duh! I don’t know for sure, but I think most of us have been affected significantly by those attacks on our country. Of course having lost a family member, or being an eyewitness would be very intense, but even being on the west coast and watching news reports was also very intense and I am reminded of those events very frequently. I’ve been in the Navy for over 21 years now, and the nine years since 9/11 has drastically changed my perspective of my military career. Today was also the day of the Gatorman 3 mile rough water swim. I did that race in 2001, when it was on 9/9. I did Superfrog Triathlon that year too, which used to be in September but was delayed until November for security concerns (the race was held at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado). Even though that race was 2 months after 9/11, it was a somber moment, and registration was very limited. On a side note, I didn’t realize until today that Kevin Childre, the team captain for Canari-Navy won that event that year. Anyway, this year 9/11 will also be remembered well with the completion of our first 400K. It was awesome to be able to get out of our home to do something so positive on the anniversary of such a horrific day. There were moments of silence being held many places in the country, and here is what we were doing at those times as we remembered and enjoyed the freedoms we do have.

8:46 EDT, 5:46 PDT, time American Airlines flight 11 crashed into World Trade Center, north tower

Randos were checking in for a 6 am start.

9:03 EDT, 6:03 PDT, time United Airlines flight 173 crashed into World Trade Center, south tower

Randos are off, actually at about 6:01. Here Molly is making some last minute notes on the route sheet.

9:39 EDT, 6:39 PDT, time American Airlines flight 77 crashed into Pentagon

The sun is starting to come out, but it is very foggy, damp, and cold. Molly and I were behind everyone. By this time we stopped three places to finally find a bathroom that was open, Molly put on her jacket, and just finished calling Kendall to make sure he was up to go take his ACT. A mother’s work is never finished, even on a brevet!

9:59 EDT, 6:59 PDT, time south tower collapsed

I was freezing by now, and had to stop and put on my arm warmers. Notice the goose bumps, and all the moisture on my arms and gloves. Even my waterproof watch was fogged up!

10:06 ED, 7:06 PDT, time United Airlines flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania

The skies cleared up, but this didn’t last long with heavy clouds and occasional heavy fog until about 3:30 PM. I could see Molly ahead of me (at the arrow), but it took me quite a while to catch back up to her because in my pursuit I managed to drop a light and my route sheet, and then we had a steeeeep hill climb that Molly flew up.

10:29 EDT, 7:29 PDT, time north tower collapsed

Back in the fog, but loving it!

The first 100K of our ride was inland. At 100K we arrived in Ventura, and from there pretty much hugged the coast line down to Solana Beach. Here is a map of the route from Strava:

Along the way I tried to capture signs showing where we were. I missed some good ones, and was not willing to stop and turn around to get them. Here is what I got:

There was only one tandem on the ride that I saw, and the stoker was the only female there other than Molly.

Right before this sign was one I missed, warning of constant earth movement! This ended up being one of the smoothest roads.

And a few words about my riding partner…. Molly did great! Here she is at 145 miles, feeling good after having about 1/3 of a foot-long sub:

She was not feeling so good at around 200 miles (go figure!), but hung in there did awesome.

It was very dark during our last 45 miles or so. We had great lights though and avoided getting hit and running into holes/debris/obstacles. We were pulled over (lights/sirens/two patrol cars) in Oceanside, which scared the crap out of us. We were riding perfectly, but the cops wanted to let us know how dangerous it is to ride through Oceanside at night and that they had already had three accidents that night. They warned Oceanside is full of drunk drivers and young drivers acting like fools that will just run you over even if you are riding carefully. The police activity was very active even into Carlsbad. We hope all the randos had a safe finish.

Our official time was 16:45, making this ride just 45 minutes longer than the 300K we did in June. This ride had about 2/3 of the climbing though of the 300K where we rode the tandem, which is very slow on climbs.

We really want to do Paris-Brest-Paris next year, which is the premier brevet, and is only held every 4 years. PBP is to randonneuring what Kona is to triathlon. 2011 is the first year that registration will be limited to PBP due to increased popularity. The number of registrations for each country will be pre-determined, and pre-registration dates will be based on the longest brevet completed in 2010. The qualification standard of completing the series (200-300-400-600) in 2011 will hold, but date of registration is based on 2010 brevets. Unfortunately this 400K will be our longest for this year, and it is starting to look like that may not be enough for registration for US randonneurs. Molly and I are really keeping our fingers crossed, and may have to change our 2011 goals if PBP does not become a reality. In the mean time, we will keep riding, and loving the adventures that randonneuring has provided us.

The distances in randonneuring are definitely daunting, and I don’t know if I conveyed some of the anxiety that Molly and I had going into this 400K. It is good to push yourself though, and to try something a little bit harder than you’ve ever done. Ironman has a 17 hour time limit. A 400K has a 27 hour time limit, and we finished near the front in just under 17 hours. Consider a 200K, especially if the longest you’ve ever ridden is a century.


This weekend was another good training weekend with some solid efforts and good distance. Friday, going into the weekend I was feeling rather tired again during my swim, so I opted to stop after 40 minutes of the 60 minute workout, and take it easy the rest of the day. I knew I had a lot in store for the next couple days.

Saturday I went riding with the Canari-Navy Cycling Team. This is becoming a favorite for me on the weekends, and is a priority training ride when I don’t have anything else going on. That ride started in El Cajon, and went to La Mesa, to Honey Springs, to Lyons Valley, and back to La Mesa and El Cajon. I had ridden 11 miles there from home, so I got in a total of 82.5 miles. There were some great hard efforts, especially up Honey Springs where I had my best time. The 7 mile climb, from the 94 to the peak of Honey Springs I did in 36:20. On Strava, Joel Price holds a time of 35:44. Our own teammate, Tommy Brown, was so far ahead of me that I lost sight of him before half way up, so I suspect he destroyed Joel’s time. The only other times I have recorded for Honey Springs was when Molly and I were on the tandem and they were 53 minutes and 73 minute efforts, just more proof that climbing on the tandem is a great way to suffer. Who wants to spend over an hour climbing for 7 miles! Maybe if that is all you are doing, but we rode an additional 181 miles that day. You can read about that ride here.

After climbing Honey Springs we regrouped at the store on Lyons Valley. I caught this picture of our team captain, Kevin Childre, shortly after finishing Honey Springs.

After the ride on Saturday I headed up to Anaheim to meet Molly. She missed our ride Saturday ride because she was spending the day at Disneyland and checking us both in for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Sunday we did the footrace, which I wrote about here.

On our drive home Sunday night, Molly and I decided that for Labor Day we should go for a nice easy ride along the coast on our tandem. The plan was to leave from home, and ride to the coast and grab some breakfast at our turn around. Well, when we checked our email Saturday night we found out that Canari-Navy was planning a similar ride from Mission Valley up to Cardiff and back. The plan was 55 miles, and we like to ride to the start and then home from the finish, so we were looking at 75 miles. When we got up we were really sore still from the run, and were slow getting out the door, so we drove to the start instead.

The ride started off great, but we noticed even the slightest incline and we were having to push to keep with the group. No one could keep up with us on our descent down Torrey Pines, where we maxed out at 49 MPH for over 10 seconds. In Encinitas we had mechanical problems though. We turned into a short steep hill, and there was some pausing because it was the wrong turn, and we slowed to almost stopping. I had shifted down, and we pushed up the hill from almost a dead stop in a high gear, resulting in several teeth from our middle chain ring to break, bending the middle and small chain rings, and jamming the chain between the two damaged rings. We got it all sorted out, with the big chain ring working fine, but couldn’t catch back up to the group. We had mistaken the meeting place, so we rode put in some extra miles before we figured it out, ending with 62.5 miles. It ended up not being the relaxing ride we were looking for at the end of the weekend, but still worked out the kinks from the half marathon. Molly said that cycling up Torrey Pines in the big chain ring was her nightmare coming true, but it actually wasn’t too bad. We were moving quickly past several riders. I told Molly that we should start riding all the hills in the big chain ring!

Here is the group early in the ride in Rose Canyon.

And a quick peek over my shoulder at my stoker!

Thanks for reading my blog. Pass it on to a friend. There are more adventures to come!


Date: Sunday, September 05, 2010

Last year Molly and her brother ran this race while I went and did a criterium in Dominguez Hills. This year I figured it would be a good pre-Kona warm tempo run. I’m not a big fan of Disney, but it was a pretty cool course that spent about 2 miles going through the amusement parks, and then a run through the Angels Stadium. These large races are difficult to get good warm ups at, and to pre-race bathroom stops. At about 5:10 I went for a 1 mile easy run where I didn’t really warm up much. I mostly just realized how tired my legs were from the ride yesterday. By 5:30 I found my corral and a decent starting position within it. The race started at 6, and my legs were screaming from the beginning, so instead of trying to find a good tempo and fighting the crowds I decided to just run with the flow. My official time was 1:39, but I timed myself at 1:37 because I had stopped shortly after the start to use a porta-potty. I had to go before the start, but wasn’t about to lose my spot in the coral! Here are some split times:

Mile 1

7:45

Mile 2

7:22

Mile 3

7:14

Mile 4

7:16

Mile 5

7:13

Mile 6

7:15

Mile 7

7:28

Mile 8

7:34

Mile 9

7:23

Mile 10

7:23

Mile 11

7:22

Mile 12

6:14

Mile 13

7:08

Mile 13.4

6:02 pace

Overall

7:14 pace

1st 5K time

23:08

2nd 5K time

24:22

Last 5K time

21:06

1st Half time

51:24

2nd Half time

48:10

 

Note: The Garmin supposedly calculates a distance about 1-2% longer than reality, so that is why I measured 13.4 miles instead of 13.1.

It wasn’t a PR race for me, but I ran on tired legs and had fairly even mile splits. I was able to pick it up towards the end, and had an overall negative split race. I wished I had brought my camera because there were some pretty cool sights. My favorite thought was the marquee at the lumber yard that said “YOU CAN GET A’S AND STILL FLUNK AT LIFE”. I’m not sure how that was supposed to bring more business into their store, except that it gets your attention.


Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

These time trials put on by Andy Concors have become rather popular. I remember doing them a couple years ago, and there would only be 10 or 15 people at them. Yesterday there were probably close to 40 people at the time trial, even with the high winds and earlier sunset.

Last month I had a great time trial, establishing a new FTP of 342, despite being rather tired. My legs felt a little more rested this time because instead of spin class for 60 minutes plus a 5 mile run in the morning I swam 4200 yards. My warm up was pretty good too. One thing I didn’t think through real well was where I wanted my power to be. I kept thinking about 340 watts, when I should have been thinking about 360 watts. There seems to always be wind at Fiesta Island, especially in the evening. I believe the consensus was that the winds were much stronger this time than they were during the TT last month. I wasn’t too concerned, thinking that even if it lowered my overall speed, it was the power that I was most interested in. The winds made it a bit more tactical though, and I found that I had to shift gears much more frequently. I had my 11-28 cassette on the bike instead of the 11-23, and for an event like this having tighter gearing probably would have been better. The 11-28 is really for hilly courses, which Fiesta Island is not. Anyway, here are some comparisons of the two time trials:

 

8/4/2010

9/1/2010

Overall Time

27:22

27:35

Overall NP

358

334

Lap 1 Time

9:12

9:03

Lap 1 NP

351

348

Lap 2 Time

9:10

9:16

Lap 2 NP

354

328

Lap 3 Time

9:00

9:16

Lap 3 NP

370

331

It looks like pacing was more of an issue. This is interesting because last month I didn’t expect to have such a high power initially, and on the last lap I gave it a little extra, and then everything I had left in the last mile. I tried to take a similar approach this time, but was thinking about 340 watts instead of 360 watts, so into the wind I’d hold 380-400 watts, and then with the wind and downhill I’d let the power drop. The fluctuations in power may have been too much, and I must have definitely let the power drop too much. I’m still pleased with the overall effort and results, but this is a fine example of some of the benefits of analyzing your races and training log. You have to learn about yourself as an athlete and develop better strategy and technique along the way.


On September 11, Molly and I are planning on doing our first 400K (about 250 miles). This one starts in Simi Valley and ends in Solana Beach. I’m doing this event 4 weeks out from Kona. Most coaches would probably not advise such a long ride this close to Kona, but I also have to keep in mind my goals for next year, namely Paris-Brest-Paris. I don’t want to attempt this ride at setting any record paces. Just finishing it will be stressful enough, and a new personal best since my longest ride to date is 188 miles. I have been reading on the wattage group forum some advice on intensity factor (percentage of FTP) for a fast 200 mile race, and most recommendations are around 70-73%. I am going a little further, and don’t need to go all out, so I am considering around 60%. This would be an average power of around 205 watts for me. I also need to be sure that Molly and I stay together, primarily keeping the pace so that Molly is in my draft. It is our goal to complete this together.

I looked back at two 200K events I did in July this year to see where my power was, and to evaluate my overall pacing. Here is the power distribution for each:


I smoothed the data so that it is clearer. Just by looking at the power curve compared to the average power it is obvious that my pacing was better for the 7/10 200K.

Here is some data summarized:

 

7/10/2010

7/24/2010

Distance

122

127

Elevation Gain

6035

7064

Total Time

7:07

6:44

Ride Time

6:37

6:36

Rest/pause Time

0:30

0:08

Avg Power

230

233

Avg Power 1st Half

229

256

Avg Power 2nd Half

230

211

Again, it is clear that my pacing was much better for the 7/10 200K. Determining the power I want to average over the 400K for the start will be important for a good second half.

One rule of thumb is that for doubling the distance of the event, the average power drops 5-7%. If I was to set a record pace for the 400K, I might strive for a 5% drop from 233 watts, which would be 221 watts. Trying to keep a reasonable pace I’d probably shoot for a 10% drop, which would be 210 watts. This is reasonably close to the 205 watt goal I mentioned above. Since the ride is a week away, we’ll see then how this plays out.

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