Monday, December 06, 2010

Going Off-Road with Beauty & the Beast

After a successful 50k last December I had the 2010 North Face Endurance Challenge Championship on my radar.  Reading the race previews it was obvious this was going to one heck of an affair through the Marin Headlands just outside San Francisco.  As the weeks drew closer it was evolving into a defacto world championship featuring some of the world's best ultra runners.  I was excited to put myself in the mix with these guys & gals in their venue.  A little about the course - over 10,000 feet of elevation gain, over 21,000 feet of total elevation change, killer views of the Pacific Ocean, scenic trails winding up, down, around & through both a state and national park and some of the most narly terrain upon which I've ever laid feet, let alone try and run.

Upon arriving in SanFran late Friday morning I was able to connect with one of my athletes from Oregon who was also running the 50 miler.  We successfully found our hotel on Lombard before shooting over to the North Face store in Union Square to pick up our race packets.  While I have traveled throug SFO, this was my first visit to the city and I am definitely going back for an extended stay.  The waterfront, restaurants and city scene have a lot to offer and perhaps I'll have to put Escape from Alcatraz on my race schedule for 2011.

The 5am start didn't seem too unreasonable. However, having to catch a shuttle from one of two places in SanFran leaving by 3:45am made for an early start to the day with my alarm going off at 2:30am.  Walking to the shuttle bus at Marina Middle School I got a chuckle of the folks in Mel's Diner finishing up their late night revelery.  Took me back to the days of hitting Lafayette Coney Island after a long night in Detroit.  The atmosphere on the bus was fairly calm and seemed absent of the nervous energy you find at Ironman events.

Arriving at the race site by 4:15am I had plenty of time to turn in my drop bags, get in a little warm-up and position myself towards the front.  Donning headlamps off we went into the darkness and the vast network of trails that awaited us.  The pace was brisk, but not over the top as our lead pack of about 20 guys twisted & turned through the first water station at mile 5.  By the Tennesse Valley aid station the group was splintered.  I was running comfortably alongside last year's champion Uli Steidl.  He was one of the race favorites with a lot of experience.  We introduced ourselves and I was a bit relieved to hear Uli state what I was thinking, "These guys are going out a lot faster than we did last year."  Uli and I were running about 30-45'' down from the leaders when we approached the first significant & technical downhill.  Just like that Uli and the others were gone as I tip-toed and picked my way down the steep trail.  It wasn't too long after losing contact with the group that I went off course for the first time.  Missing a quick turn I found myself floudering through some deep brush on a very steep grade.  No, this is definitely not a trail.  Retracing my steps I found my way back to the missed turn and continued my journey.  Beofore daylight I would go off trail one more time.

Shortly after the Bootjack aid station at mile 19, I was crusing along when all of a sudden, WHACK, and I found myself sitting on my kiester.  I had somehow not seen a rather large treel limb and busted open the bride of my nose on it.  With my eggs now a bit scrambled, I sat there a few moments to make sure everything was in working order.  A guy with a video camera covering the women leaders was kind enough to stop and take me to his car up the trail so I could get a bandaid to stop the bleeding.  Onward I pressed & well removed from the leaders.  As the day unfolded I soon realized this course was no joke!  It makes the run course at Wildflower seem like an amusement park kiddie ride.  I would proceed to go off trail two more times in the daylight and hit my head on one more tree limb.  The downhill segments absolutely smashed my legs and over the final 15-20 miles I pretty much walked all of them.

Along the way I simply focused on getting from one aid station to the next.  This event was well-supported with aid stations every 3.5-5 miles.  The volunteers were absolutely top notch in helping us get our bottles filled and providing hacks like me with words of encouragement.

Crossing the line in 8:55 and 37th overall I was simply glad to be done in one piece!  While my training leading into this event was hampered by lingering tendonitis in my knee and achilles, I am quite certain the biggest limiter was lack of course-specific training.  My legs simply were not prepared for the constant abuse being dished out over this terrain.  It was a tremendous learning experience for me and I have even more respect for the men & women who race these events.  Congrats to all those who were out there getting it done!!

The next few weeks for me are all about rest, recovery and taking in the holiday spirits with family & friends!

Keep it smooth...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IMFL "Participation" Report

 early on the run
 always want to be across that mount line
 it is a lot colder than it looks
sunset view from hotel balcony

After two solid races heading into IMFL I was hoping to put forth yet another good performance while securing some Kona qualifying points.  The final two weeks of training I was unable to run with a knee injury post Austin 70.3.  Certainly not the ideal way to prepare for an Ironman, but I figured I am racing for charity and it's the last race of the season; worse case scenario I simply walk portions of the marathon.  The temps leading up to race day continued to drop into the low 40s and winds increasing.  Race morning brought air temp of 42 and windy.  This is Florida, right!?!

Swim (53:48) - Despite the north west winds the surf was relatively calm for our beach start.  Without too much fanfare we were off.  I was able to position myself with a small group including Blake Becker (USA), Petr Vabrousek (Czech Republic) and a few others.  The pace seemed a bit sluggish at times as the current pushed us inside the buoy line.  Exiting the water after the first loop I took advantage of the aid station for a quick drink of fresh water before plunging back into the Gulf of Mexico.  Having a better feel for the currents on the second loop I swam well and was able to shed some from my group.  The water was the warmest part of my race day experience, but I was glad to exit with a new swim PR.

Bike (4:53) - Riding into a head wind for the first 20-25 miles my hands and feet were pretty damn cold.  Becker rode by me pretty fast and soon after came Vabrousek.  For a while I was riding solo until Alex McDonald (USA), Olly Piggin (Canada) and another guy I didn't know rode past.  I worked hard to stay with this group, at times really pushing the pace.  1:20 into the ride my power meter stopped working.  I would ride the remainder of the bike on "feel" and approximating my effort and timing of my fueling.  Approaching the 50 mile mark I had to back off the pace as perceptually I felt like it was out of my range.  I tried to keep my mind focused on fueling and my effort, but for some reason I was starting to feel kind of detached mentally from the race.  I rode completely alone for the next 55 miles and rode into T2 with a small group of four that caught me heading back towards transition.

Run (3:22) - Once on the run course my legs were heavy and I struggled to maintain 6:30s.  This is well below my IM marathon pace and I knew immediately it was going to be tough 26.2 miles.  Sure I tried the positive self-talk thing: "You are light."  "Float"  "Extend", but the reality of my limited running and perhaps being underfueld during the bike was taking its toll.  I came through the first loop in about 1:30, but things were heading south quickly.  Around the 15 mile mark the wheels began to really come off as my knee was bothering and the quads were pretty jacked.  My relatively slow run turned into a shuffle, which eventually turned into a walk.  While it was frustrating to not be able to attack this marathon course, I found myself making the best of the situation.  I was able to encourage many age group athletes who were running well and some that were kind of shuffling along like myself.  Shortly after the 23 mile mark my teammate, Jessica Jacobs, came up on me with a commanding lead of the women's race.  She tried to get me to run with her, but I kind of laughed and shared some congratulatory words.  It was great seeing her out front for most of the race.  Approaching the long finishers' chute I decided to walk it in while taking in the support of the crowd.  Erica Csomor was about to claim second place behind Jess, so I stepped aside to give her a clean shot towards the finish line.  With a smile I crossed the line in 9:15 and 42nd overall.  A huge congrats to my teammate, Jess, for her win as well as James Cunnama for taking the men's title.

Overall this has been a good season of racing for me with two more top 10 IM finishes and several respectable results at the 70.3 distance.  Throughout the season I was able to make gains in all three disciplines.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the gift of good health for which I thank God.  In addition my sponsors, family & friends have been incredible with their continued support.  My coach, Zane Castro, has been a pillar in keeping me motivated, focused and challenged.  I am currently registered for the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship (50 mile ultra trail run) in early December, but with the knee injury that seems highly unlikely.  At any rate, I will certainly enjoy some down time from triathlon.  Hellooo off-season!

Thanks for reading & as always, keep it smooth...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Racing Down South

It’s been several years since I have raced a triathlon in Austin and I was looking forward to getting in the mix with a solid international field. Leaving Terra & Zane’s by 5am we successfully avoided the traffic jam other athletes experienced. I was able to get things sorted in T1 with no issues and hit my pre-race warm-up of movement prep exercises followed by a short run before walking down to the swim start. During the closing moments of the National Anthem someone must have inadvertently pulled the power plug as the singer’s microphone died and the swim start arch began to deflate. With a slight chuckle I briefly pondered if this was a sign of how my race would unfold…

Swim (26:37) – With a decent number of athletes toeing the line I figured it would be pretty easy to secure a draft. The only question being, would I be able to get myself in the proper group. I made an aggressive start and was able to position myself in the first main chase pack which included Trevor Wurtele (CAN) and several others. The pace felt peppy, but not out of my range. I exited T1 with a group of about six other athletes.

Bike (2:15) – The first 15 miles of the bike proved to be somewhat messy at times as athletes were jockeying for position. I saw three penalties being dished out with the head referee keeping a close eye on our group. After watching one of the Europeans receive a drafting penalty and then proceed to ride on the yellow line (perhaps some confusion of whether or not we were racing under the stagger rule) I found myself getting impatient and wanting to get around him. Looking back a couple of times I could see the race official was busy noting the play of the guys behind me and not seeing this athlete riding to the left. I finally had enough and passed him on the right. Sure enough a few moments later I was flashed my first penalty card, a yellow, for an illegal pass. I politely pleaded my case and even asked the official to confer with his driver how long the guy had been riding the yellow line. I successfully negotiated my way out of the penalty. Riding up on Ian Mikelson (USA), I exchanged a few words of the sketchy nature of things at the moment. Ian’s response of, “This is a freaking comedy show” summed it up pretty well. The remainder of the bike was a bit of a cat & mouse game as our group picked up a couple of other athletes and shed a few as the bike progressed. My legs felt steady & strong through the midway mark and I was hoping to pick up the pace over the final third of the course. With proper fueling and a focused work rate I was able to maintain my pace and finish the bike well improving my overall position from 17th to 13th.

Run (1:18) – Exiting T2 outside the rodeo hall, I was intent on running hard and finding my form. Within the first mile I passed Peter Clode (New Zealand) and a couple of others. The backside of the run course featured a three mile stretch over uneven grass with some hills. It was pretty quiet with no spectators and tough to exactly know my position as the course twisted & turned through some wooded areas. It was the type of course that can create an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and I dug deep mentally to press my pace. Reaching the turn-around back near the rodeo hall I noted I was running in about 10th position. While it appeared I was too far back from the last money spot (5th position) I continued to work hard. I caught Mikelson around the eight or nine mile mark and tried to encourage him to keep digging. He was hanging tough on a difficult day. Lapping a few age group athletes I made a final push towards the finish, passing Lewis Eliott (USA) and Wurtle in the closing segments of the run finishing 8th overall in 4:04.

It was a decent day for me as I finish off my build for IMFL in November. This is a great event with a challenging bike & run course. Throughout the weekend athletes were treated to Texan hospitality. You gotta like a race that serves up barbeque and ice cream at the finish line! I had the privilege of speaking at the IronPrayer service Saturday afternoon before the race and it allowed me to really appreciate the opportunities God has given me. It was great to have the support of friends on the course and coach Zane. I would also like to thank my sponsors for their continued support: Team Sport Beans/NTTC, Valdora Bicycles, Rudy Project, Spira Footwear, blueseventy and TriSwim.

Keep it smooth,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perfect Weather for Racing

Near perfect weather made for a fast day of racing in Madison earlier this month. Numerous course records were set including the overall men's & women's set by champions Joe Gambles (Australia) in 8:38 and Gina Crawford (New Zealand) in 9:27. I recorded a course PR by almost 45 minutes crossing the line in 8:58.

Swim (55:30) - This two loop swim in murky Lake Monona has an in-water start along the water ski course. Two weeks leading up to the race there was quite a bit of chatter among professional athletes concerning the water temp as this would be the first race under new WTC rules prohibiting swimskins such as blueseventy's pointzero3. It was a non-issue though as the water temp registered at 68 degrees making it a wetsuit-legal affair. I had a relatively clean start, but found myself swimming with a couple other athletes who seemed to be slower. With some sighting I could see another small group just ahead and was able to bridge up to that faster group about 800m into things. I would stay with this group for the duration of the swim. The pace felt comfortable, yet not too cushy. Towards the end of the second loop we began to swim into some of the age groupers which can always be a bit tricky. Rounding the final turn buoy our group got splintered as we swam into a massive jam of athletes. In an effort to keep clear of the masses I swam fairly wide. It was a bit messy and I swam hard to get out of the jam. I exited the water with a few others as we re-grouped towards the swim finish.

T1 (4:15) - I don't think I have ever made it through this lengthy transition up the helix and through Monona Terrace in under 4:30. My focus was running up the helix on the most inside line I could take then get through the ball rooms and long stretch of bike racks as swiftly as possible.

Bike (5:05) - Having raced IMWI a few times I am fully aware of the importance to be patient over the first portion of the bike. I liken this course to going the distance in a heavy weight boxing match. While no single hill is a game breaker, the culmination of them is like taking body blows for 12 rounds. Within the first five miles I caught several of the faster swimmers and settled into my target ranges. I was pretty much riding solo until getting caught by Stefan Riesen (Switzerland) around the 20 mile mark. He is a strong cyclist and even though the competitive side of me wanted to try and go with him, I stayed within range as he slowly rode away from me. My legs felt better as things unfolded and just before riding into the crowds at Verona I caught and passed Wil Smith (New Zealand) who was obviously having some mechanical or physical issues as he was sitting up and riding off to the side of the shoulder. Just after the special needs area and early into the start of the second loop I caught Markus Ressler (Austria). Throughout the second loop my legs were feeling pretty decent as I continued to ride through many of the age groupers while fueling myself for the run. Just past the final longer climbs lined with spectators I was passed by Matjaz Kovac (Slovenia) and Dirk Wijnalda (Netherland). They were riding strong on the final part of this course and would remain within my sights over the final rollers heading back towards Madison. With about four miles to go Max Longree (Germany) rode past and I knew I needed to stay with him as he is a very fast runner.

Run (2:51) - Heading onto the run course my legs felt pretty decent as I settled into my pace. Having the necessary fuel on board I was intent on running smooth, relaxed and strong. I was 15th off the bike just behind Max. Heading into Camp Randall Stadium I could see Max along with Matjaz & Dirk. Maintaining a comfortable pace and fluid form I passed Dirk & Matjaz with Max in my sights. It took a while, but I caught Max around the 8 mile mark. We exchanged a few words as he stated he wasn't feeling too good while encouraging me to continue to run strong. Making our way back towards the Capitol building I opened up a gap on Max and caught Ian Mikelson just before making the turn for my second loop. I later learned Ian was having some stomach issues which would continue to plague his run with numerous port-a-potty stops. My legs & mind were flowing as I ran through the field and was running in 6th position at the Henry Street turn-around. Max was continuing to run well and caught me at the 20 mile mark. He was very encouraging in trying to get me to run with him in an effort to close on Blake Becker who was running in a solid 5th. In his heavy German accent Max said, "C'mon on man it's only 6 miles. A mile for me, a mile for you." Oh man how I would have liked to stay with him, but my body & mind started to fade through this rough spot. Max was able to open up a gap and ended up in a sprint finish with Blake finsihing just 30 seconds back. I was another 1:30 down crossing in 7th with the day's second fastest run split.

I would like to thank my sponsors, family, friends & coach for their continued support. The crowds in Madison, Verona & other locations throughout the bike were stellar, creating an electric race atmosphere. Big congrats to my buddy Joe Gambles on his win.

Recovery has been great as I look forward to closing out the year at Austin 70.3 mid October and IMFL in early November.
Keep it smooth,

Thursday, September 02, 2010


In my final push for IMWI on September 12th things are coming together nicely. Over the past few weeks the longer rides & runs have yet again provided moments of opportunity for reflection. Nah, this isn't going to be a post filled with deep meaning meant to turn your head inside-out, or maybe it is...

While reading Mitch Albom's book Have a Little Faith I have recently noted the various "communities" in my life - friends & family, triathlon peeps, church folks, neighbors, speaking network, folks like Tami at my regular grocery stops, running groups, gym rats and of course the worlds of FB and bloggers. Many of these groups naturally overlap and co-mingle with one another. After living in Boulder for six years it is a place I truly call home. I am blessed to have these communities and to have witnessed the unconditional friendships which have formed. From babies, injuries, illnesses, birthdays, holiday gatherings, podium finishes, Olympics, world championships, magazine covers & features, disappointments and just about everything in between I have seen my community rally in support of one another.

Sport has given me numerous opportunities and I find a sense of freedom & joy when paying it forward to my community through volunteering with a kids' run program, giving some food to the homeless or simply sharing a smile with a stranger. No, I don't stroll around Boulder with a sack full of groceries and endless smiles...that would be kind of creepy.

Keep it smooth...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Random Pics from NC

Lake Lure sunset
Jack, Ryan & Graham clowning around

little Chloe enjoying her swim

me and my mom with our family friend Sr. Anne Teres

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ford IMLP Race Report

the view from my hotel room on Lake Placid
After spending a relaxing recovery week in western North Carolina I figured it was time for me to share some thoughts on my recent race at Ford Ironman Lake Placid. Overall, I was pleased with my performance. It is always nice to improve your placing throughout a long day of racing, but I was a little disappointed in how my run faded over the final 10 miles. My travel to scenic Lake Placid was seamless with a brief stop in Detroit. This allowed me to get in a few quality training sessions in the humidity before making the 10.5 hour drive over to Lake Placid.
Swim (58:17) - It was a non-wetsuit affair for the professionals as the water temps hovered around 74 degrees F in Mirror Lake. In the past, this may have thrown me for a loop, but my swim has been progressing well over the last several weeks and it didn't create any anxiety or distress on race morning. I had a fairly clean start and positioned myself in a good sized group which included Petr Vabrousek (Czech Republic), Mike Neill (Canada), Caitlin & Tim Snow (USA) and fellow Coloradan Craig Howie. We went through the first loop in 28 minutes and change which is about what I expected. On the backside of the rectangular course things started to get tricky as we caught the slower age groupers. I was able to navigate the crowded course well and avoid any errant kicks to the face from a breaststroke swimming athlete. I exited the water just behind Vabrousek, Neill and Snow.
Bike (5:13) - My goals for the bike included being patient, riding smart, fueling effectively and maintaining contact with the field. The previous two years I really faded over the second loop of the bike I was determined to ride better this year. Making my way down the long descent from Lake Placid to Keene and then onto the flats heading towards the turnaround in Jay I was feeling great. My fueling was spot-on and the effort felt comfortably controlled. I continued my steady pace and was able to determine I was riding in sixteenth place while maintaining contact with Howie and Snow. On the long climb from Willimington to Lake Placid, including the famed hills affectionately called Big Cherry, Little Cherry, Mama Bear, Baby Bear & Pappa Bear, Snow and I worked together. We were both thinking of the potential for carnage in the later stages of the bike and seemed content on maintaining our controlled effort. The second loop proved to be fairly solid for me as I continued my fueling. I entered T2 on the heels of Snow in 12th place.
Run (2:58) - Exiting T2 I was focused on running smooth, fluid and relaxed. I could hear Dave Scott chirping at me, "Relax your right shoulder Brad!" as he often does during our weekly run group. My legs felt great with controlled breathing. I was 18 minutes down from 5th place which was the final money slot. By mile four I was running side-by-side with Snow. He and I had the two fastest run splits from last year and upon reaching the turnaround on Rive Road we were able to take note of how the guys up the road were doing. I made a slight surge around the eight mile mark to see if I could get some distance between me and the fleet-footed Snow, but to no avail. As we approached town the gap between us and 5th place was now down to 9 minutes. As we ran through the special needs area, Snow found a gear which I did not have and he quickly opened up a gap. The snap I felt early in the run was now gone as I struggled over the next six miles back out to the far turn-around on River Road. I was trying to take in what I could to stay in the mix and fend off Matthew Sheeks who was running well behind me. Making one final pass of the Olympic Ski Jumping facility, I dug deep to run down Ian Mickelson in the late stages of the run. The crowds back in town were tremendous and carried me to my 6th place finish in 9:15.
I am very grateful for the encouragement of my family & friends leading up to and during the race. In addition, a heartfelt thanks to my sponsors for their continued support. A big congrats to my teammate, Ben Hoffman, for his win. The guy is tearing it up this season.
Thanks for reading & keep it smooth...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Kick-the-Can to Triathlon

I was recently interviewed for a fitness blog and asked several good questions. Upon answering one of the questions about my interest in triathlon, it caused me to think about my roots with sport. As a kid, I benefitted from growing up in a safe neighborhood with loads of other kids. We would spend our summer evenings playing games like kick-the-can, capture the flag and ghost in the graveyard well beyond dusk. In retrospect, this was the foundation for my running which eventually led to a lengthy soccer career through college and a few years post college in the highly competitive men's beer league. My nieces and nephews probably have no clue about these childhood games filled with running, tactics and lots of laughter. With advances in technology and the birth of the mighty Wii too many young people spend time glued to the idiot box. The only physcial activity they experience is through some type of organized sport program. We can all use a little dose of free-spirited play.

Keep it smooth...

Monday, June 28, 2010

BSLT 70.3

Met up Friday morning in the FAC parkinglot with my buddy Curt, Dennis, Barry & Laura for the trek down to Lubbock. Plan was to leave shortly after the 7am masters swim practice - Curt & I driving down in his comfy, Texas-sized Chevy pick-up and the other three in their swank Timex hybrid which can parallel park itself. Curt & I, despite shaved legs, were definitely going to blend in better once across the Texas border. Then again, perhaps not, with two time trial bikes secured in the bed of his truck. The travels went seamlessly aside from one of my aero bar pads being lost despite having it taped down (even funnier was losing the other one the day before the race on my pre-ride while sitting up at one point and not even noticing it being stripped from my bike in the wind. Had to roll old-school on raceday with layers of terricloth towel). With the largest & most competitve field I've seen assembled in Lubbock on both the men's & women's sides along with a forecast for some classic wind & heat the stage was set for an exciting day of racing...

Swim (26:29) - Just prior to our start there seemed to be a bit of confusion between the race directors and athletes on the direction we were to go - left or right of the first buoy. Always some entertainment at the start of this race. In talking with other athletes swim was short. I lined up in a good spot on the right and managed a clean, aggressive start. Felt decent as things unfolded then goggles fogged up so bad I had to stop and clear them. Never a good thing when trying to stay with a group. Fell back from original group and finished swimming alongside Alex McDonald and Craig Howie.

Bike (2:24) - Felt the best during this portion of my race and rode about four minutes faster than last year. Kept things relatively controlled through the first 20 minutes and then set about building my effort. Fueling was effective, but noticeably low on electrolytes as the legs had that familiar twinginess of cramping around the 45 mile mark. I was able to maintain a good mental focus and catch one other guy while keeping pace with Alex & Craig.

Run (1:20) - Onto the run it was difficult to get things rolling as I was trying to fight off the cramps. I passed Alex & Craig within the first two miles and worked to maintain my pace without cramping. The aid station volunteers are top-notch at this race and I was able to take in what I needed through each mile. Heck, one volunteer even ran up to me with a cup of Gatorade as I missed it while going through his station, allowing me to maintain my pace without slowing. Approaching the first long hill and steepest of the three on the run course, I was really concerned about my legs cramping. I kept the stride very short and it was slow-going up the hill and the others that followed, but at least I was moving forward without having to stop. Running along the two mile out & back stretch it was apparent Chris Lieto was in control of the race. I was glad to see my teammate, Ben Hoffman running strong in fourth not too far behind TJ Tollakson. This portion of the course gave me the opportunity to size up the competition and check the time gaps. At this point I was running in 15th and knew I would really have to dig deep to run into the top 10. After making the turn-around the legs finally came around and I was able to run strong to the finish passing Stephen Hackett, Joe McDaniel and Andrew Hodges within the final four miles crossing the line in 4:14 and in 12th place.

It was great to see so many friends from Boulder and Austin racing. Congrats to my teammates, Ben and Jessica Jacobs, for their podium finishes - way to represent the team! It was another fun race weekend in Lubbock and I especially enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the IronPrayer service hosted by FCA-Endurance.

Thanks again to my sponsors, family & friends for their continued support!

Keep it smooth...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Call to Greatness

In celebration of Father's Day this Sunday, I'd like to share a few thoughts on the importance of fathers.

Both men and women are called to greatness by God, each having a unique role to play. With respect to men, I believe our natural instinct is to be protectors and not predators. Okay ladies, please don't roll your eyes thinking, "Oh gosh what a load of male chauvinistic-ideological-mumbo-jumbo." Be patient as I think you will find my humble thoughts worthy of consideration.

Fathers, like mothers, have a significant impact on the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health of their children. Recent research suggests the presence and voice of a caring, loving father plays a huge role in shaping the mind and values of his children. Fatherless children are statistically more likely to commit violent crimes, drop out of school and commit suicide.

It is quite likely the picture painted by pop culture is creating a lot of confusion as to what manhood is really supposed to look like. Our current hyper-sexed society would have us fall for the selfishness of thinking it's the norm to use people and love things, when in reality we are called to love people, unconditionally, and use things. Many men struggle with this as their idea of what manhood is all about gets twisted and distorted by the unhealthy lure of pornography. At it's core the porn industry robs us of our manhood (and womanhood). It creates a "users" mentality. Certainly fatherhood, as it is written on our hearts, is much stronger than what we see on television or the big screen.

I am blessed to have three men in my life who have truly set the standard for me on the signficance of fatherhood and all things "man":

William J. Seng, my dad, who continues to be a source of encouragement and perseverance. He always found time for our soccer games and swim meets while working fifty+ hours a week. Growing up in a small southern Indiana town, he has instilled in me and my siblings the joy of pursuing our dreams.

Frank H. Seng, Jr, my grandfather (father's side), who worked tirelessly as a cabinet maker and general factory laborer. His trademark teasing in calling us little monkies while proclaiming he could out-swim, out-run, out-kick or out-throw us even into his 90s always brings a smile to my face on race day.

Albert E. Ingraham, my grandfather (mother's side), who was commited to providing for his wife and family as a dairy farmer and jack of all trades. His Maine humor and work ethic is a daily reminder for me to get my bum out the door and do the job right.

Wishing all dads a very happy Father's Day and encourage you to lead your families to greatness...William Wallace style (think Mel Gibson in Braveheart)!

Keep it smooth...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

new saddle

My younger brother thought I'd be more comfortable with this bad boy...
Keep it smooth...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beautiful Day for a Bike Race

scenic backdrop for the Morgul Bismarck road race
12% climb to the finish
It was a stellar morning for bike racing with cool temps and bit of wind on the course. Today's road race featured the return of the classic Coors Morgul Bismarck course with it's famed "Wall" to the finish. We actually had to climb up this bad boy four times during our three-loop affair. My goal was to hang towards the front and cover any major attacks while staying clean of any unfortunate encounters with the pavement. I consider the day a success with a hard 40 mile race which required some awareness and tactics as we began to mix with other categories on the second and third loops. The guys were quite chill for the most part as we hit the tight spots and corners with good communication within our front group. I went to the front on the second and third loop without an attempt to make a break, but simply spice things up a bit. Hitting the final climb up The Wall and the 12% grade to the finish I quickly realized a 39x21 was not going to be a winning combo. The legs were flooded with lactic acid over this final push and I can only imagine what kind of sufferring and pain is endured within the pro peloton. Fun way to spend my Sunday morning!
Keep it smooth...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Little Slice of Heaven

Beautiful view at the top of climb heading into Estes Park. This particular day was the windiest I've experienced up there, but it is always worth the effort!
Keep it smooth...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bag Balm is the Bomb

Having grandparents and extended family on my mom's side who are a group of hearty New England dairy farmers from coastal Maine, I was introduced to this magnificent salve at a young age. My grandmother used it on those tiny, but painful cracks in the skin around the fingertips during the cold Maine winters. My grandfather swore by it as a cure-all for just about anything and I surmise he would even put some on one of his classic sardine sandwiches if he had a toothache. Of course as a little kid visiting in the summer months I always got a good chuckle out of the mysterious green tin conveniently placed in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Over the years I have tried numerous chamois butters and creams to soothe the sore bum and fight off those dreaded saddle sores. Several weeks ago I started using Bag Balm instead of my high-end chamois butter. To my surprise and delight it worked even better. Not only does it prevent chaffing, but it also prevents inflammation in areas you'd best not be inflamed. I have found it best used during rides and while sleeping.
Finding myself out of this super salve, I ventured to some of Boulder's finest stores in seek of a new tin. After stops at two Whole Foods, Sprouts & Vitamin Cottage I finally found it at Target. Thanks to the Whole Foods employee who steered me in the right direction on this. Even though you rolled your eyes and stated, "No we don't carry that product. We have a lot of people asking about it, but it is mass-produced and you won't find it at a health store like ours." Whatever dude, but thanks for telling me I might find it at a place like Walmart or Target.
Keep it smooth (espcially on the bum)...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Widlflower - classic race weekend

view from the deck of our house
view of Lake San Antonio

Widlflower is one of my favorite race weekends - festival atmosphere, great competition, tough, honest course, beautiful scenery and good times all-around. I made the trek out west with my buddy Billy. Our travel into San Jose and the two and a half hour drive to Lake San Antonio State Park went down without any hiccups.
Overall, I had a solid day of racing improving my time by about three minutes over last year. My swim was a bit slower, bike was faster and run a tad bit faster. I am looking forward to the next phase of training as I begin some IM-specific work in preparation for IMUSA in July.
Swim (27:50) - With a fairly large field of 35 guys toeing the line I suspected I could secure a draft reasonably well. I was right...for about 25 meters. For some reason I fell short on this and swam on my own just behind a small group including my teammate Nicholas Thompson, Rutger Beke and a couple of other cats. Last year I exited the water in that group with Rutger. My new Helix from blueseventy felt extremely comfortable throughout the 1.2 mile affair. Approaching the swim exit I was looking forward to getting on land hitting the bike.
Bike (2:33) - One of my main goals for this race was to have a solid bike. This meant riding smart and aggressive. I had a significant fade at Superfrog over the final portion of the bike and I was committed to having a good go at things over the fun & challenging WF course. Rutger and Nicholas rode away from me pretty easily and I was content to stay within my range while keeping the workrate sound. I pretty much rode solo aside from a few guys who passed me midway through the bike. Upon reaching the bottom of Nasty Grade I caught a couple of guys and was feeling primed to finish the bike strong. Shortly into the climb I heard a holler from my buddy Billy as he made quick work to drop me on the climb. Next was women's champion Julie Dibens. Man can that lady ride! (and swim and bike of course). Towards the top of Nasty Grade I caught two others, one of whom was weaving like a drunk sailor. I watched Julie and Billy play a little game of cat and mouse on the fast descent and over the rollers leading back to the park entrance. Heading back to T2 I passed two others and was prepping the mind for a hard run.
Run (1:18) - If you've raced WF then I don't need to describe the run course. It is the most challening run course I have encountered, but makes for a lot of fun. Julie exited T2 just ahead of me and was looking strong as I passed her with some encouraging words. Twisitng my way through the campground and woods I could see flashes of others up the trail. Despite some minor cramping I was able to sustain a pretty good clip. Coming off the trails and back onto pavement I found a good rhythm. Miles 9-11 cover the only out & back section of the entire course and provides a good opportunity to take in the competition. As I made my way towards the turn-around marker I opened things up to take advantage of the downhill. I believe I caught three or four more guys with Billy and my teammate Nick in my sights. Halfway back up the hill from the turn-around I caught Billy, who apparently had a burr under his saddle with this passing as he let out a GD. Nick was having an off-day and as I passed him I shared some encouraging words. The final 600 meters of the run course is a screaming downhill called Lynch Hill and I could see my buddy James Hadley taking some looks over his shoulder. I worked hard to catch him, but came up short as I crossed the line in 4:23 with twenty seconds on both sides between James & Billy.
It was a fun day of racing. Michael Raelert & Julie turned in stellar performances! I also enjoyed the FCA-E IronPrayer service as it always presents a great opportunity for praise and fellowship with other athletes. With the return of many Aussies to Boulder I can sense the build-up to another full season of racing. Gotta love it!
Keep it smooth...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Overtraining & Fatigue

Mark VanAkkeren has perhpas the most lethal swim-bike combination I have seen in the sport of triathlon. In 2010 he will be allowing his body to rest, recover & heal from a series of events which has left him with an empty tank. I am confident you will see Mark make a strong return to triathlon. Check out his blog for a VERY transparent read into the world of chronic fatigue & adrenal stress syndrome.

Keep it smooth...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Pics - Superfrog Race Weekend

receiving my award from Moki (Race Director) & commander - aka Maverick
trying to find some good lines on the run

heading out on the bike - loving my new PHX from Valdora

and we're off through the surf - this breaker was mini

Q&A pre-race

enjoying post-race with Mike, one of my athletes (PRd over 15' on his race)
Me and my buddies/athletes post-race - am I really that short??

National cemetery overlooking the bay

Bob Hope tribute to sailors - includes audio of his shows

iconic statue of sailor kissing lady in NYC after war

Dad & I standing in front of USS Midway
Mom & Dad in front of USS Midway memorial

Keep it smooth...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coach Jimmy V - link is now working

Coach Jim Valvano was a great man of character, integrity & humor. Check out his speech from the 1993 ESPYs - classis stuff -

Keep it smooth,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Superfrog Half IM

This race presented some interesting dynamics with lots of rough surf on the swim, wind on the bike and sand for the run. What more would you expect from an event hosted by the U.S. Navy Seals! It was a stellar race weekend sharing the experience with my parents, two athletes I am coaching and several friends who were also racing. The weather throughout the weekend was pretty decent with warmer temps and sunshine compared to previous races I've done held north up in Oceanside. The weekend presented several "firsts" for me:

a. Friday morning I was throttled awake at 2am by an earthquake. At first I thought I was dreaming, but as my bed shook I realized it was no dream. Bed surfing is kind of fun.

b. My accommodations for the weekend included a very comfortable stay at the stylish Paradise Village, a senior retirement community owned & operated by one of my athletes who was also racing the Superfrog. Needless to say it was QUIET and conducive to race prep.

c. During the second loop of the swim I got pummeled by a wave which had me doing cartwheels underwater as I made my way to shore. By far the most effective nasal saline flush I have experienced.

d. I had the pleasure of receiving my award and shaking hands with one of the U.S. Naval Commanders. Think Maverick from Top Gun in his Navy whites and dark sunglasses.

The race itself was a treat with the challenging conditions over the spectator-friendly course (2 loops on the swim, 4 loops on the bike & 2 loops on the run). Upon finding my bearings after the encounter with The Wave, I exited T1 in fourth position and about two minutes down from the race leaders. The bike was pretty straight forward with four loops along the Strand running paralell to the beach. The winds picked up with each loop as did the gap between me and the guys up front with Lars Finanger & Jonas Colting building a huge lead. I was able to maintain a steady effort and rode the second lap with a guy who eventually rode from 6th into 3rd. Towards the end of the bike I was caught by Ryan Cain (Canada) and stayed with him into transition. Coming off the bike I found myself in 6th position and was focused on pushing my pace on the run. It took a good two miles to get a feel for how best to negotiate the sand. By the end of the first loop I had worked my way into 3rd position. My legs were feeling pretty decent and I continued to try and push myself through the tricky sand portions and the final loop.

Crossing the line third overall in 4:15 I was pleased with my effort on the day and grateful for the gift of good health! It was a hoot to see my friends and athletes racing throughout the day. Congrats to Jonas & Lars for putting on a clinic as well as women's champion Angela Naeth.

I would like to thank my sponsors for their continued support as I look ahead to Wildflower.

Keep it smooth,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Powerman Alabama

It's been nine years since I traveled south of the Dixie to compete at Powerman Alabama. This year's race served as the US Elite Duathlon National Championship and went back to its roots with the 10k-60k-10k format featuring an international field. The course was stellar being held at Oak Mountain State Park which provided plenty of rolling hills, twists & turns on both the bike & run. I particularly enjoyed the 12pm race start!

10k run (33:55) - Holy makerel did these guys go out fast, as in 5:08 average, for the first 10k. My goal was to maintain contact with the leaders and even that proved a challenge as the rubberband was stretched to the max. After a a short 200 meters the run shot up a tough hill to set the tone for the day. I stayed controlled through the first run, perhaps a bit too soft, coming into T1 in 10th position and about two minutes down from the leaders.

60k bike (1:39:17) - Exiting T1 I had my mind set on working hard and trying to bridge back up to the first chase pack, including Matt Russell, David Thompson and Ryan Guiliano. Through the first loop I was losing some time and really didn't feel too great. My legs came around though early in the second loop and I was able to start riding back to the some of the guys. By the end of the second loop I caught Derek Yorek who led the race early in the bike with a blistering 31:30 first run. Throughout the final loop I was feeling stronger passing Guiliano and Josh Merrick.

10k run (36:32) - Finishing the bike strong I was looking forward to the final run. Although I was unable to see the competition because of the wooded, hilly course I focused on staying relaxed while trying to push the pace. Unfortunately, I think I had a bit of a mental disconnect and seemed content with running within my comfort zone. The temp started to heat up and I was feeling very smooth. While I closed the gap on a few of the guys, I maintained my position off the bike finishing 7th overall.

Big props to the crew of Team Magic for putting on an outstanding race over a tough, honest course. Kudos to Joerie Vansteelant (Belgium) and Marisa Asplund (USA) for their overall wins as well as my teammates Jessica Jacobs (2nd) & Uli Bromme (4th).

This was a super fun race to kick things off for 2010 and looking forward to getting in the mix in two weeks at the Superfrog Half Ironman.

Keep it smooth...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No More Itch

Tired of that dry, itchy skin from logging countless laps in the pool or smelling your swim workout later in the day when you are sweating out chlorine residue during your bike workout? If so, I highly recommend you give the TRISWIM products a whirl. Since using their products regularly post my swim workouts my skin & hair have been itch-free. It's also been refreshing to not have the reminder of my swim later in the day with chlorine seeping through my pores. Their comprehensive line of hair shampoo & conditioner, body wash and skin lotion are top-notch without the harmful sulfates found in other products. In addition they have a product called FOGGLE to help prevent your goggles and sunglasses from fogging as well as TRISLIDE to help prevent wetsuit chaffing and blisters on your feet. Do your body a favor and check 'em out!

Keep it smooth...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2010 Team Sport Beans/NTTC team pic

l to r back row: Nicholas Thompson, Uli Bromme, Mark Wendley, Jessica Meyers, Ben Hoffman
l to r front row: Daniel Bretscher, Lauren Jensen, Jessica Jacobs, yours truly
Keep it smooth...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Team Camp Random Pics

riding in style with the Jelly Belly Ford Excursion

love those vanilla beans

dinner center pieces

view of the vineyard

photographers prepping the set

Vezer family vineyard - location of team photos

few of the old barrels

Lauren ready to roll in bocce ball

Uli talking her ball to the bocce

Team Sport Beans/NTTC Annual Camp

This past weekend I rolled out to Fairfield, CA for our annual Team Sport Beans/NTTC camp at Jelly Belly's world headquarters. As usual it was a fun-filled three days of team orientation, photo & video shoots, training, great meals and of course some time in the vineyards. Stephanie & Tammie from Jelly Belly definitely know how to work hard while having fun! Our team director, Mark, had everything dialed in and organized to keep the weekend running smoothly.

I am excited for my fourth season with the team and look forward to racing alonside my teammates Uli Bromme (Boulder, CO), Jessica Jacobs (Maylene, AL), Lauren Jensen (Muskego, WI), Jessica Meyers (Tulsa, OK), Daniel Bretscher (Greencastle, IN), Ben Hoffman (Durango, CO) and Nicholas Thompson (Danville, CA).

In addition to a few new teammates, I have secured a couple of new sponsors for 2010. Of course, Jelly Belly is the title sponsor for our team keeping us fueled with the portable power of the Sport Bean. Our new apparel sponsor is Pactimo and our official bike sponsor is Valdora. You will see me riding their slick PHX time trial bike with SRAM Red and ISM saddle. My other sponsors include: blueseventy, Rudy Project, Spira, SBR Sports, Mix1 and Flex-Power Performance Sports Cream. I am grateful for the continued support of my sponsors and look forward to representing them in 2010!

Keep it smooth...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Enjoy the Journey - there is no return ticket

George Carlin on aging! (Absolutely Brilliant)

"Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions. 'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. 'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed? You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40.

Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50, and your dreams are gone...

But! wait!! ! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50, and make it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70!

After that, it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80's, and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there.

Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.' Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

1.Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever, even ham radio. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's family name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting ', what a ride!' "

Keep it smooth,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Double Run

Within my current block of training Coach Z has incorporated a double run day into the mix. This is a common practice for pure runners who are single sport athletes. I believe many triathletes also utilize the double run at various places during the season. It can be a very effective way to boost run volume while limiting the muscular fatigue & damage if done wisely. I have found the most benefit in my own training and coaching of athletes to apply it as a primary longer run done early in the day or morning with specific focus on tempo, race pace or hill work then later in the afternoon or evening a VERY easy shake-out/recovery short run on soft surface & flat terrain. A three to four hour minimum window between runs will allow for recovery. The second run can be very therapuetic if done on grass soccer fields or a trail while not monitoring heart rate, speed, etc. Throwing in some barefoot running if on grass or the infield of a track as part of this embarassingly-slow second run can be fun and good for strengthening the support/stabilizing muscles, ligaments & tendons of the feet. If doing some barefoot running I highly recommend starting in brief increments and slowly growing the amount of time from week to week (start at 2-5 minutes and each week add a minute or two over a block of training).

The double run can be a great way to maximize your time while boosting your run volume in preparation for a key race.

Keep it smooth...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Prize $$$ for Professional Triathletes

There is a current poll within the US professional triathlon ranks regarding prize money with the formation of a new committe to address voiced concerns. Before you start slinging tomatoes thinking this is simply a cry for more money, take's not really about more money. As several of my colleagues have indicated the currrent prize money break down at most races lacks a systematic fractional breakdown as seen in other professional sports such as cycling, golf & tennis. For example, at the NYC Triathlon first place was awareded $10,000 and fifth place $500. At IMUSA last year I finished in the final spot of 8th place, good for $500, which is the same amount I earned recently at the 3M Half Marathon.

While I am grateful for the gift of good health and to be racing against the world's top triathletes, five hundered bucks doesn't even cover the entry fee or travel expenses for most races. As triathlon continues to grow in big numbers, it is my hope we, as professional triathletes, are able to position ourselves more favorably in promoting the sport and its sponsors. Of course, this demands a high level of professionalism on all levels.

Keep it smooth...


Monday, February 01, 2010


Life has been kind of crazy since the holidays, but all in a good way with travel the last two weeks to Austin & Tuscon. Ran the 3M Half Marathon in Austin posting a 1:09 in some rather windy conditions with gusts up to 40mph. The start of the race was delayed an hour as police barricades were blowing onto the course. Never seen that before.

This past weekend I had the privilege to help coach at the annual ICTN/FCA-Endurance training camp in Tuscon. It was a fantastic weekend filled with faith, fellowship, fun and of course fitness! While I certainly enjoyed the opportunities for training alongside the other athletes from across the states and Canada, I benefitted most by the spiritual shot in my arm. Each night of the camp we gathered as a group for a message from one of the pastors. These guys have an incredible gift of motivating & inspiring through faith and are true examples for me of what manhood is all about. One of the themes that seemed to be on my mind & heart as I took in their words was grace.
I recognize this word might be unfamiliar to some and has different meanings for each of us. For me it simply refers to the sense of warmth/peace I feel when God is present in my life, or at least when I recognize His presence. Triathlon is not about me, but rather using the gift of good health God has privided me to share His love with others. This can come in various forms like racing for a cause, encouraging & pushing my training partners, motivating others to embrace a healthy lifestyle through exercise and coaching/challenging my athletes to be their best.
Grace is God's gift to us which allows us to good by other people. Whether you are a believer or not, I'm pretty certain you have experienced this at certain times in your life. Perhaps it was a time when you reached out to a friend in need or put your spouse & family before your training. Grace flows through the simple, everyday things in our lives. It is not really about lightning bolts falling from the sky. It is my prayer you may feel/see God's grace working in your life today.

Above are a few pics from the climb up Mt. Lemmon. It was a bit surreal along the way as a snow storm had dumped several feet of snow towards the top and Tusconians were taking full advantage of it with sledding, picnics and bar-b-ques. The atmosphere was close to circus-like. One unlucky person was involved in a sledding accident and air-lifted off the mountain as seen.
Keep it smooth...