Saturday, December 8, 2012

End of Season Notes - A year end review

(This is so long only my Mom will read it - sorry it was a whole year :))
It is 5 weeks into my off season and I am totally enjoying it…I feel like I earned it this year so the reward is “accepted” but I am also really looking forward to a next year as well.

2012 Recap -

I started to write this as a simple race report…I did this and I got that etc., but after starting and stopping so many times, this is more of a year of my sporting life report.

It is also funny as I wanted to include pictures in this write-up.  When I looked back through the years photos, I quickly realized that I had forgotten a LOT of what we had done. 

Sure I have bunches of pictures of ice baths and gnarly toenails but I also had so many pictures of smiles that I had to include those as well.

So intermixed with the race report are family, friends and fun and if I were to say what is really the best part of the year, it is these moments.

Originally I had the goal of qualifying for Kona 2012 but due to family commitments and works commitments I needed to realign those goals and pass on Kona this year.  In the end I think this was the ONLY solution that would have worked as there is no way that I would have been able to balance the training needed with my time available and I definitely would have missed some very important time with the family.  So, in hindsight, it was a great decision for me.

Once Kona was off the list for this year, I also changed my race strategy for the year.  I started at the HIT in Ocala and then IM New Orleans 70.3 (the proverbial Duathlon) and then IM Texas. 

The HIT went well except for Jeff making me puke all over myself.  Drew took the win and it was fun representing the Wattie team.

At NOLA I bounced off my face going into T2.  I would like to say it was a rookie mistake but I am not a rookie and in the end it was just my fault and very stupid.  The result was a busted up face and a broken hand.  It made for a good photo and everyone on Bourbon street was told by my friends that I was a UFC fighter…John Bones Jones.  If you don’t follow UFC which I do, he is African American but most of NOLA didn’t know that so we got a good table and I think a few free drinks. J

My real concern with the bounce was it made it really stressful leading into IM Texas.  Drew and the team at JOI got me going in record time.

With the Kona goal off the list, I decided to just feel good all day at Texas and really enjoy it.  Amazingly, I did.  I enjoyed the entire day.  With the training I had put in, I was able to roll through to a very solid and well-paced 9:52 and that was good enough for 6th.  6th was one place off the podium and one spot away from Kona so I didn’t have to decline which also made that decision easier.

It was also time to settle into the “break” and do something other than SBR.

I am very sure that if I were younger again I would have pursued more bike racing as I absolutely love the tactics.  The summer break allowed me to compete in a few road races, TT’s and even a few crits.  It is completely opposite of the triathlon and the difference is probably what I enjoy the most.  With the Velobrew Crit series, Nocatee and NC stage races, I got my fill of the racing peloton.   

The summer was awesome as I really got to enjoy hanging with the family and actually vacation without having to be on a “schedule”.

After the usual, albeit slightly longer than usual and less tri specific summer break, I started the build to IM FL.  It started really with an “unplanned” opportunity training week as my Drew and Bone went out of town and work was very light so I ended up with a 20H+ (1200TSS) 1st week.  This seemed to set the stage nicely and I don’t think I really have EVER had as many weeks strung together without real recovery focus.  This really seemed to work and I definitely would be willing to try this again. 

Using only 4 day recovery weeks around busy work weeks seems to be the best for me and allowed me to string together multiple weeks in larger blocks.  In total I had 3-4 “down” weeks in the 16 leading up to Florida.  This consistency is really key in my opinion.

Coming into the fall build I kept up some cycle racing on the weekend and just moved the longer sessions to midweek.  This really seemed to help the high end engine and I would say I think this helped.  Besides, it is fun J

I don’t think there is anyway better to prepare for a fast 70.3 than to be in the middle of an Ironman Build.  The distance feels “short” and if you have any speed in your legs, it really feels good to race this distance as it is shorter than a typical weekend training session. 

Ironman Augusta 70.3 in September was very good day in terms of execution for me.  I was not tapered at all and I set out an aggressive plan and followed it.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a fast racing and the net result, 2nd place in AG and Vegas spot for 2013 so I was very happy with that.

This also gave me a lot of confidence going into the final block for Florida.

Ironman Florida was also different for me this year as I wanted to go very fast but I also knew that I could not take a Kona spot even if I got one due to a work conflict for 2013. 

I had a long conversation in June with a surgeon / client / friend of mine who asked me if I had truly gone “all out” in a race.  Being that I race pretty conservatively, I said ‘I race tactically and I don’t usually have to go “all out”’.  His response, “Then how do you know what you are really capable of unless you tested it?”   I tried to find some bullsh!t answer to hide behind but in the end, I had to own up to the fact that I don’t race “hard”. 

Basically, I train hard so I can race easy or within myself. 

At the end of the conversation and with my tail between my legs I said he was right.  He was also former Harvard debate team and I went to ClemPson so I might have been outgunned.   I promised that at Ironman Florida in November, I would race differently.  I would go all in from the gun and see what happens. I would not hold back and I would try to end up at the line completely empty.

Surprisingly, it was MUCH harder than I expected.

The swim was choppy and I could not find good feet or a good rhythm and the water temperature was too warm for me for a full suit.  I was overheating badly on the second lap.

The bike was the typical FL tactical race and also a great example of using bullets when needed.  I went “redline” a number of times to stay with the 4-5 big guys who I was legally pacing off of.  Anyone who thinks that riding in a pace line is NOT better / faster just has to look at the power file.  We had draft marshals with us for a LOT of the ride, literally sitting there for 10-15 miles and we all stayed legal but we were rolling.  There in no doubt that I saved 10-15 watts off of a solo effort.   There were a lot of surges and one effort in particular was over 300 watts for a few minutes to “get back on” after a BIG gap had opened when someone up front attacked.  I remember thinking, “This is the race, go now or you are out of it.”  It was and I was happy I went.

The run was actually pretty straight forward but that does NOT mean easy.  I broke the course up into 4 laps.  And I set out to run ONLY by pace and disregard PE or HR.  I only put 1 number on my Garmin watch, lap pace.  No total time, no HR, just pace.  I am very proud that I ran 26.2 miles with no mile over 8:00/mile.  I tried very hard to stay at 7:47 but miles 18-26 were one of the hardest efforts I have EVER done.  I was trying to “cut deals” and slow down but the promise to go “all out” was there and I just kept pressing the effort until the pace was there.  From miles 22-24, finishing was NOT guaranteed as I was in a really “bad place”.  After mile 24, I felt like I should be able to finish and I started to feel little “better”.

I finished in 9:21 overall and it was a PR.  I was second in my AG and top 50 overall.

More importantly, I am also 100% sure that there was NO MORE in the tank.  I went “all out” or “all in” on this one day and I now know what I am capable of.  By the way, I don’t need to do this again J.

Looking back across the season I would say the biggest differences to this year were a few changes to the “basic week”. 

We incorporated the following on a pretty regular basis:

Multiple Irondays (4 total) including midweek Ironday with a “typical” big weekend

Motor pacing on the bike

4 day big block camps
2 longer runs per week (Thursday was 12-16 miles and Sunday 16-20 miles)
Midweek run with more structure (3 mile intervals x 3 built into longer runs)
Crowie / Macca style T-run’s with fast miles (6:30) on race pace send-off’s (7:45)

In terms of Recovery:

VERY frequent use of ice baths – almost every big session.  60 pounds of ice for 15 minutes.
Compression pants after bigger days.
Naps were a big part of the plan for bigger sessions.

Body and Equipment:

Focused on buying “free speed” with Latex tubes and faster tires – these REALLY work.
Ceramic bearing in the BB and rear hanger bearings as well – again…less power used.
I got down to 162-165 pounds for most of the training and cut to 160 pounds for race day.
I cut out all “junk food” for the final 6 weeks and really only used good fuel.

Overall –

I am incredibly happy with the results this year and I think Alan continues to improve the formula to create VERY predictable results and I just have to execute.  He really has this dialed in.

Goals For 2013

#1 Goal for 2013 is to Qualify for Kona 2014 at Ironman FL and be able to go this time J
#2 Top 5 Podium at all races except IM 70.3 WC.
#3 Top 20 in AG at IM 70.3 WC.
#4 Under 1:30 in 70.3 off the bike.
#5 Under 9:30 at IM FL.

Plan for 2013

Start back to training December 15th with the cycling / base plan.
Add marathon run program in over Christmas break.
Continue that program until Camp late January to 1st week February in San Diego.
Complete Donna 26.2 on February 17th to get a Boston time for 2014 (need only a 3:15)
Ironman New Orleans 70.3 April (for fun – no taper)
Gulf Coast ½ May (Go hard but no taper)
Ironman CDA June (for fun but would still like to Podium if possible)
Recovery week post IM CDA with family
Vegas prep in July / August
Vegas 70.3 September (just a solid day – go hard but not an “A” race)
Recovery week post Vegas 70.3 in Jackson Hole for work
IMFL Camp (4 days)
Augusta 70.3 September (Vegas 2014 – no taper)
IM FL November (A race – Goal of Kona 2014)

“Slight” Changes to the recipe –

I want to try to do a steady build across the entire year without the bigger summer break that I usually have. I am not too concerned with this as I don’t have any real goals until November so I can train through most of the races until then.

Also, family vacations are planned for the spring and they will be in CDA so we will have lots of time to “do nothing” together and just chill.

Other changes…I really need to stop blowing off the pool so much.  I went :59 in FL this year that was OK but I didn’t feel great.  I was really working and I felt behind for most of the swim.  Next year I need to swim more consistently.  I have 2 new pools to swim in so that should help.

Find a way to stay in the gym for more of the year.  I tend to blow this off as the season gets more into full swing.  I have 2 new gym memberships which are much easier to use so this could help.   

Find a way to build in “hill training” prior to IM CDA and Vegas.

Keep the added “new” basic week sessions for next year.


Race weight less than 160 pounds
Training weight = 165 pounds
Swim pace less than 1:10 / 100yds on 20 x 100 on 1:30
Increase LT power to 315 watts and IM wattage to 225NP.
Run sub 39 10K, sub 1:30 off the bike ½ marathon, sub 3:15 open Marathon (training race)
Increase total swim yards to 20K per week standard.
Increase total run miles to 60 miles per week for big weeks.
Increase total bike miles to 300 miles for big weeks.

That’s it…that is my year.  I am incredibly happy that I made the decisions I made and choose to make family and vacations a priority over Kona.  It was a great decision.

Next year looks like it will be a LOT of fun and I have great friends and training partners for all of it.

Enjoy the Holidays…eat…drink and be merry…and take time to appreciate the people around you. 

All the best - Shawn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ironman Execution

Confessions of an Obsessive Compulsive Age Grouper :)

I don’t remember exactly where he said it or his exact words but I think Mark Allen’s message ( ) was something simple like… ‘Visualization is important and you can’t win Kona unless you can see yourself doing that.  But, in the end, if you have not done the work, it doesn’t matter how much you visualize your win, it is not going to happen.’

So with that…the first of 10 keys to ironman execution – DO WORK SON!!! (The best AC quote ever)

#1 Do work.  If you have not done the work then the rest really doesn’t matter.  I would guess that my personal number for work tolerance at 47 years old is much different than that of a 30-34 year old athlete, but my magic number is above 120 CTL to be in “the mix”.  If I want to be very confident then I need to be over 125 CTL and, for a PR attempt, I probably need to be north of 130 CTL.  Finding your own CTL magic number and establishing this as a baseline will allow you to set expectations.  Tracking this year to year will allow you to monitor performance with respect to this baseline.  The chart below is for my last 8 seasons and the corresponding results.  While wind, weather and nutrition can derail anyone, the concept is simple.  A pilot doesn’t take off if he doesn’t have enough “gas” already in the tank, (a high enough CTL done through training), to make it to his destination.  Takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory ☺

#2 Do specific work.  My coach is Alan Couzens and while most “work is good”, specific work as you get closer to race day is critical.  Multiple longer race simulations give me a lot of confidence and a great chance to practice my nutrition and pacing.  Two of his go to sessions are a 3 hour descending trainer ride done at 1 hour slightly below race pace, 1 hour at race pace and the final hour over race pace.  This is followed by various t-run distances and paces.  The second race simulation session is called Iron Day and it is more about mental fatigue and nutrition but when this session gets dialed in it is also a HUGE confidence booster.  It is a 6 mile pre-run at an easy pace then directly to a 5 hour or 100 mile ride whichever comes first.  This ride is done at a race pace effort while practicing nutrition and hydration.  After the session you go directly into t-run of 10 miles which is done as 6 miles at race pace then the final 4 at faster than race pace (race pace minus :20 per mile).  The final four miles should take you to a mental low place that is very similar to miles 16-24 of an Ironman marathon.  We will do 2-3 of these sessions during a specific build and the timing of these is usually just prior to recovery day as these are very hard efforts.  Once you get comfortable with the distance and the pacing on an Iron day and the 2nd t-run feels “easy” then you know you are race ready.

#3 Plan.  Create a plan for race day execution that includes goal times, transition times, power goals, and pacing for all 3 disciplines.  Breaking your race plan into key sections (1st lap of the swim, miles 20-60 of the bike, key hills for the run segments etc.) further helps define expectations.  Having this plan set in advance takes a lot of the emotion out of the day.  Putting this plan down on paper also commits you to it.  The back half of an Ironman Marathon is a full on Monte Hall “Let’s Make A Deal” discussion with myself.  Having the plan “out” in public makes Monte a little less persuasive ☺

#4 Have a plan to deviate to.  Race conditions do not often line up perfectly with expectations and, as a former military pilot, there is a saying, “Have a plan and then have a plan to deviate to.”  In Aviation we plan for “alternate airfields” if our destination is not reachable due to weather or fuel.  This is what you do and where you go when things go wrong or conditions just change.  Using the pro field to judge execution and adapt your race plan is an excellent way to see how you will be effected.  They will almost always start ahead of the age group field and I look to see how the pro field is riding coming back from a turn around to see what kind of energy they were using.  This is a good gauge for winds, how bad the heat is, and how I will feel in 20-30 minutes.  It is also a very good way to judge early run pacing.  At a brutally hot (90+) Ironman Louisville a few years ago, I began the run and observed multiple pro men walking with the “face of death” towards the end of their 1st lap of the run.  I immediately backed off my pace to allow for the heat as I knew if they were struggling this bad then it must be really hot, and I would be in the same spot or worse in another 8-10 miles – it worked.

#5 Control whatever is controllable. Ride and run the race pace that you have practiced in training and planned to do.  Using a power meter on the bike or a GPS pace watch on the run provides a non-emotional metric for execution.   Tapered racing can give you false highs and even false lows and having something non-emotional to reference is often very helpful.  If you are racing for places, podiums or Kona spots, build in some “band width” between your planned race pace and your maximum sustainable race pace in case the tactics of the day require you to adapt.  Say you “could” ride an IM bike at 77% of FT and have a good run, but instead you plan on riding only 74% and only going harder if the lead pack dictates that tactic. Keeping a few % in reserve for course conditions and tactics allows you to adapt to the dynamics of the race.  If you are already at 100%, there is no band width available to respond to conditions.

#6 Train for power but race for speed.  I have to constantly remind myself that a good power file is a training goal but THE race goal is to go faster and do less work.  There is NO DOUBT that at the front of the field lead packs or non-drafting pace lines are a huge advantage.  Just look at Kona and you can see how hard the guys who are behind in the swim work to catch the lead group. It is that important to ride with the pack.  I always look for the biggest guys in the field to ride with.  In Ironman they have your name on your bib and I always look for the Erik, Lars, Jens or Torsten or any European “buy a vowel” name as those guys typically bike really hard and are much bigger and give off a bigger “wake”.  There is no doubt that you can ride and run much faster at 7M (4 bike lengths) off the back of an 80KG guy than putting your nose in the wind for 112 miles at 10-15 more watts.  I also find it MUCH easier mentally to ride at someone else's pace versus having to press my own race pace for 5 hours.

#7 Buy speed and efficiency.  Optimize all your equipment for the fastest possible race day setup.  This is critical as it saves you from having to do more work. Better wetsuits, speedsuits, aerohelmets and racing flats are all “givens”, meaning that everyone is doing that.  The key to executing ahead of everyone else is to find an advantage.  Experiment with what works for you but I look for advantages that most people would not pay attention to.  For the bike, using ceramic bearings in the bottom bracket and rear rerailuer pulleys is “standard” in the Tour de France but this is not common for most age group triathletes.  These bearings help reduce the amount of power needed to turn over the gear at a given speed.  More speed – less power – better run off the bike.  The company Ceramic Speed ( offers this for most bike frames and wheel sets and this an excellent option to consider.  Choose a wheel set that is best for the course and the conditions.  Zipp wheels ( offers great choices for almost all courses and they also offer a course selection guide for their wheel sets.  Deeper is NOT always better so look at the course and the winds or look at what the pros are using and don’t just grab the disk and roll.  Tire selection and tubes are much more important than I ever thought.  If you need a reference check out this article from Slow Twitch  Using latex tubes inside of clincher tires really improves the ride quality and it feels almost like a tubular – I can’t explain why but the difference is noticeable and positive.

#8 Plan for problems. You don’t have to look very hard to find examples of poor planning even at the very top of the sport.  Look at Norman Stadler “How much glue did you put on this tire?”, Chrissy Wellington “CO2 anyone anyone?”, and this year Sebastian Keinle, all sidelined by flat tires.  If you have a flat on a tubular then you have to get the tire off first to fix it.  This is what cost Norman and Sebastian the most time.  If you carry a small razor knife in your flat kit this will allow you to cut the tubular across the bead.  The tire is trashed already so it doesn’t matter if you cut it more.  This will allow you to grab inside the tube and pull it off the rim versus trying to roll it off the rim.  Preventing flats to begin with is best and Café Latex makes a product that can help prevent punctures.  If you use this and then you still puncture you can use Café Latex Espresso which is basically “fix a flat”.  This is a good first option but carrying a spare tube or tubular and CO2 is still necessary.   Besides flat tires, the body can give you problems throughout the day.  Using the T1, T2 and special needs bags to pre-position any products you might need is helpful.  I make up 4 “baggies” and put one baggie in each spot I can access it on the course.  In the baggie there is Salt Stick, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Gas X strips, Vivarin caffeine (I am a BIG coffee drinker and I get headaches unless I have coffee)  and small 9ml packet of chamois cream for chaffing This works REALLY well even on the run as it is easy to apply and not nearly as gross as the 13 oz. community jar of Vaseline – that is just simply disgusting ☺

#9 Get ahead of problems.  I think it was Crowie who said ‘I keep asking myself – what can I do to make my job easier right now?’  Closing the feedback loop between brain and body and action is probably one of the hardest parts of racing long distances.  9+ hours of “How am I feeling?” and “What do I need?” can be mentally exhausting but, I would say, it is completely necessary if you want to prevent bigger problems down the road.  Asking yourself if you are at the right pace, if you are on track for nutrition, for hydration, for salt, for cooling on a regular basis can trigger an alarm that can be dealt with early and help prevent a major issue later.  Keith Brantley is an Olympic Marathoner who lives in our town and spoke about his “top down” check list which he did at every KM on the run.  Is my head ok? Mentally am I good? Can I focus on the positive or just try to be neutral?  Relax the neck, relax the shoulders, swing the arms.  Is my HR ok? Do I need to speed up or slow down? Is my stomach ok? Do I need more food, more water, less food, less water, salt?  Hips should be rotated forward and legs turning over at a high cadance. This systematic approach of “polling” the body helps to detect a problem and treat it at the earliest / easiest point.  Running form reminders late in the race can trigger better speed with less effort rather than just muscling through.

#10  Keep your focus.  A good friend and top AG Kona qualifier once screamed at me “Wake up…don’t go to sleep”.  I have to say that is the BEST advice for the back half of the marathon.  I use a lot of caffiene and sugar to help maintain mental focus during the last 2 hours.  Red Bull is always in my run special needs bag as it helps me “wake up” and it also tastes completely different than most of the sugary liguids and gels that are taken all day.  It also looks and feels pretty cool if you throw it up and the bubbles come out your nose – you’ll look like a running pink foaming volcano ☺  Coke is almost always on the course and it is there because it works.  I worked an aide station at Mile 18 of the run last year and EVERY pro who came through was yelling “Coke…Water”  I try to wait until mile 16 to start drinking it but once you make the switch to Coke, stick with it every mile.  As for the true mental game, there will undoubtedly be low points throughout the day.  They happen for everyone.  Trying to get through a race without having to deal with a single low point is futile and just sets you up for failure.  I really prefer to acknowledge that bad moments ARE going to happen and by acknowledging that they will occur it lessons the anxiety “when” they happen.  I also like to keep track of them.  If it is a really low point, I will look at my watch, note the time, and then try to go into a neutral state mentally.  Most people will say, “stay positive”, and if you can do that good for you.  For me, I am not that lucky so I try to stay neutral; if I just don’t “go negative” then I am really happy.  Also, by looking at your watch you can see how long that low point really is.  Most of these true low points last no more than 5 minutes in most cases.  I also find I typically have around 5 of them.  When I have one, I will say (out loud most times) “Ok, there is #1 – 4 more to go”.  If I end up with 6 or more, it is not such a great day but if I have only 4, that is pretty good ☺

That’s it…that’s a wrap.

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything except for baking Bread Pudding and mine is the 3rd best in the world.  In case you were wondering, the best in the world is Palm Valley Fish Camp in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, 2nd best is at Red Fish on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and I am third ☺.

So, with that disclaimer, I am 100% sure I missed some really key points as there are probably 90 more ideas which are equally if not more important, but I hope these 10 will give you a few thoughts and/or solutions that you might not have considered.

I am sharing this with hope that it helps a hard race become a little easier and you can hit your goals - whatever they may be.

And no, before you ask, I will not share my Bread Pudding Recipe – that is a secret ☺

(Thanks to VMS #1 for the proof reading and editorial corrections – my ClemPson education strikes again J)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Meaning of Life and other simple things :)

It has been a really long time since I have written anything of substance for this Blog and I have been really wanting to put fingers to keys for a few weeks now.

When I log out of my Training Peaks account the page automatically resets to the VMS Blog page.

For the last 8-9 months, I have been greeted by the smiling face of Don Packard finishing in Hawaii last year. It’s not that I don’t like that picture I do…but…9 months…sorry Don…you been replaced :) 

So, after a 9 month break…how do I want to reenter the digital noise?

I thought of writing a piece on training, racing, some eccentric metric which only 2 or 3 people would even understand but I am not going to do that. 

Instead I want to write about something simple…something very VERY simple…yup…the meaning of life. :)  

Seriously, I think this maybe a MUCH smaller and simpler concept than most people would think. 

What is the meaning of life??? 

To be happy…and maybe…more importantly…to make others happy…that’s it. 

Call it Joy, Love, Bliss, Hope, Faith, Charity, Caring, Compassion…call it whatever you want…almost all of these relate to the same to me…Happiness… 

I know many of you are probably thinking, “I wonder what is wrong with him”…no…I don’t have a terminal illness and there was no life changing event. 

I did summer school with a really great teacher who took this student to a new level. I just had a chance to spend some really quality time with people I love and I realized that I am very happy…and hopefully I made them happy too… 

That’s all…you now know the meaning of life…welcome back :) 

Next Blog will be on heat management as it relates to ideal hydration volume and I will still be happy writing that…I know…I am a geek…a happy Geek. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ride this weekend 10/20/11

This is from last week in Hawaii but I think this is a GREAT shot!!!

Don Packard at the line...empty but very fulfilled...

This has been a REALLY hectic 1 and ½ weeks and unfortunately it doesn’t look like I will be home doing the “usual” for another couple more weeks so I better just get used to it.

From Hawaii to Jax to Austin to Orlando to Kansas City to Jax to Miami to Las Vegas to Cleveland to Panama City to Jax…yes…that is all in 3 weeks – wow :)

With that…not doing any training in town so short email this week….

So…on to it…

The countdown continues:

1 week until IM Miami 70.3…I hope the speed shows up before then 

2 weeks until IM Florida…glad to be just cheering at this one…at least it’s cold now.


A win is a win and we had TWO!!!!

Big time congrats to Karel who took 1st in the 35+ race on Saturday…you have heard me say it before but it is a REAL trick to win a bike race…

You have to be in the right place, have the right skills and then execute…Karel did all that!!! Way to go mate!!!

Speaking of executing…how about being in the lead from the 1st turn buoy to the finish – now that is racing from the front!!!

Congrats to Drew Heideman on the OVERALL WIN at the Atlantic Coast Triathlon with a smoking 4:21:02!!!

Could not be happier for Drew as he executed EXACTLY to his plan…ok…he was off by 2 watts  Seriously – perfect race!!!

Lots of other great results are listed here - congrats to everyone who raced.

Last – congrats to Owen, Jo and the crew from JRC who put together a GREAT race / event for the kids last weekend at the Zombie run…that was AWESOME!!!

Sorry Matthew – I thought you had first place zombie locked up until I saw the melted face guy…it was close but I think he got you by a nose…a melted nose :)

Racing this weekend:

Good luck to Juan and the crew at Great Floridian…1st time Iron Distance for Juan…have fun and enjoy…it will be over before you know it :)

Good luck to Curtis and the shaved legged tough guys heading down south for a TT, Crit and RR…have fun and race hard!!!

On to Training – sorry – not in town…have fun and stay safe.

Music –

Usually I have to get a referral to find something REALLY good but this one I found on my own and I must say…he is EXCELLENT!!!

Check out Alexi Murdoch “Time without Consequence” – fantastic mellow music

Food –

For the traveler…in Austin…fantastic restaurant - this is really a great find and the Gnochi should NOT be missed!!!

Movies –

Bone and I went to see Real Steel and it is definitely worth it as a “guy movie” – robots doing UFC…whoooooo ahhhhh :)

Tri-gear for the Tri-geek –

Lot of cool stuff from Kona – here is a really good looking new helmet from Rudy Project

For Sale –

From David Mariotti ( – this is a great deal on a complete bike and really good power solution if you are looking – power makes the difference!!!


Speed Concept 7 series, SIZE M - $2,619 retail
UPGRADES – purchased for this bike:
2011 Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 Carbon Clincher Aero wheelset, never ridden, showroom condition Shimano/SRAM freehub, and new Bontrager Race tires (cassette not included) $1,400 retail
Bontrager RXL carbon bar - $220 retail
Bontrager Speed Concept carbon ski bend extensions - $180 retail
Bontrager Speed Concept Draft Box - $45 retail
Trek Red Shield insurance, 3 years - $169 retail
I have less than 150 training miles on this bike.
This Speed Concept was purchased locally only 45 days ago from TREK.

$1,000 (2010 wheelset) with Power Tap2.4SL (2008 model wired)

Contact, David at 904-612-2710

Links of interest –

Retul Fits work!!! Contact me at - they are expensive but really worth it!!!

Massage by Marjorie check it out at or call (904) 945-4540

Dr. Alvin Green If you are in need of Chiropractic care

110% Play Harder - check them out at !!!

That’s a wrap –

For the latest rants and raves – check out

If we miss, watch out for text messaging soccer moms, pickup trucks, grey Porsche 911’s, pellet shooting panel vans, Grannies racing for a Geritol sale and Bone and I hitting the all you can handle coasters on Saturday night…main event…8 year old versus old man and former aviator…1100+H in the air and I am betting that the young gun is gonna school me bad :)

Take care,

Shawn Burke
Velocity Multisport Coaching
(904) 537-5294

"A scientific approach to coaching and training"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kona 2011 - Longest Race Report EVER :)

It’s that time of year and this entry is written for only two people…my coach and my mom :)

My race reports have always been a very important process for me and nowadays a lot of athletes and coaches utilize this to detail / analyze the event or to say thanks to people who might have helped them.

Many of the reports that I read, and I read a lot of them, are totally analytical…I took 2 vanilla flavored GU at mile 12.5 of the bike and 23 and a chocolate at mile 35…not sure what the flavor has to do with anything :)

While others are totally emotional…I laughed…I cried…I pee’d…and…

To be perfectly honest…I think both are equally important.

On the analytical side…I try to race like a metronome…planned…practiced…paced and executed…

I use all kinds of metrics to control my effort or to motivate me for any up regulation of speed, power or effort or for containment of excitement which is equally valuable.

But on the emotional side, one pro once described Ironman as a 10 hour argument with yourself.

Race day can be a relatively “easy” day where you have “mostly” positive or motivating thoughts.

It can also be a deeply dark experience not unlike lying in bed as a child wishing your parents miraculously wake up and come into your room to kill the fanged tooth slimy green swamp monster that was surely in your closet or just about to crawl out from under the bed and if you dared to say anything aloud or touch a foot to the floor to run it would immediately trigger the creature to attack…

Yeah…most Ironman events are more like that swamp monster thing :)

More training and fitness can bring about more of the “happy days” but even on the best days, there are dark patches that every athlete goes through that are of an unexpected depth, duration and temperature…the hottest day can be a deeply dark and cold place.

Sometimes the day before event can be the darkest…and this year…that was my experience.

Dr. Phil was out…I called…he didn’t answer…

Laura Schlessinger won’t talk to me as I am friends with my ex-wife but she did suggest I call Jerry…

But seriously…if you EVER think calling Jerry is a good idea…your wrong.

Rules for life…

If Jerry wants you on his show…pass…

If a 60 minutes camera crew is at your door…don’t answer….

So far these have worked for me….wait…I am digressing.

So…Dr. Phil was out so I called VMS #1 and explained my problem.

Zero sleep two days before the race and a night spent on the toilet with nerve induced food poisoning had me convinced that competing was not an option.

I am not talking about “racing”…I am talking about “starting” at all.

I told Paul if I didn’t come correct then I was going to be on the “hot corner” cheering on my friends.

He replied, “You will be the fittest spectator on the course.

”I of course replied…”No actually Macca is here :)“

Seriously…Paul provided me with a mental reset…he simply said, as only a former boss and New Jersey born guy could say…

”Come on man…are you serious…this is silly…you know you are going to race…you know you are going to be fine…you always are…you get like this before every race…you just need to get in race mode…you need to get your head in the game…your gonna be fine…you always are”.

To say that is one thing and to hear it is another but to believe it…that was different….and in his message I was completely convinced that he believed it.

My deep dark and cold Ironman day finished when my head hit the pillow at 8:44pm on Friday evening...yeah…good thing the race was Saturday 

Saturday morning I woke at 4am after nearly 7 full hours of blissful sleep.

I felt so INCREDIBLY good compared to the day before that I immediately knew that I was going to be fine…just like Paul said.

I will close this emotional conversation with this…

Ironman pushes me to my limits and those are very rarely physical. It makes me look into the deep dark corners of my mind and what we find is often the same scary monsters of our youth.

Luckily for me…my race day was a 10:00:27 of happy chatter with myself (actually out loud at times) and a few 5 minute moments of ”oh s%^” but the night light was on and the monster stayed under the bed all day :)

All about my friends and family…

Like I said in the video…this year was special to have so many friend on the course.

I am SO impressed with their races and all of the training they did to get there…it was a pleasure to help along the way…

Here are a few pics from the day… 

Now for the numbers – boring stuff for trigeeks and my coach :)

If Alan and I ever get to go to Vegas…look out :)

I told him earlier this year (after TX) that I wanted to race Kona this year and go sub 10.

Here is his response:

Just adding notes here on Kona sub 10 for the database..
I looked at your Texas file (thx for posting). Elevation for the 98mi on the file was 1934ft (0.37%). Kona elevation gain is ~3700ft over full race dist (0.62%)
Average winds for the day in TX were (according to weather underground) 6mph. Kona winds are variable but the average seems to be 6-9mph.
If I plug the TX numbers into the power equation, 22.8mph on 224NP implies an effective CdA of ~0.39m^2. If I apply that 0.39m^2 to Kona using the above elevation and wind data, it suggests a power output of 220NP for 21.33mph/a 5:15 bike split. This lines up well with last year where you went sub 5:18 on 211NP but with light side of average winds (6mph average for the day). I'm pretty confident that with your current position if you ride tactically like you did at TX with 220NP, if winds are in the average range you'll break 5:15. If you have a decent swim and go 3:3x on the run, you should break 10.
I think the going 3:3x on the run will be more contingent on how much fluid you get in on the bike and run than on your fitness. I'm very confident you'll be fit enough to run that pace given the plan that we laid out. Most important item will be lots of practice with heat management in humid conditions which, given your locale, shouldn't be too much of an issue :-)

If you don’t think his math is impressive…this is “blind” from Colorado and here is how it played out.

Entire workout (207 watts):

Duration: 5:15:42 (official time was 5:15:11 off by 11 seconds :))
Work: 3816 kJ
TSS: 286.4 (intensity factor 0.751)
Norm Power: 218 (off by 2 watts)
VI: 1.05
Pw:HR: 2.34%
Pa:HR: 3.25%
Distance: 113.966 mi
Elevation Gain: 3520 ft
Elevation Loss: 3482 ft
Grade: 0.0 % (31 ft)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 620 207 watts
Heart Rate: 97 162 134 bpm
Cadence: 1 153 86 rpm
Speed: 0 43 21.4 mph
Pace 1:24 0:00 2:48 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 410 31 lb-in
Altitude: -98 509 89 ft
Crank Torque: 0 1577 208 lb-in
Temperature: 80.6 93.2 86.6 Fahrenheit

Oh yeah and for the run…

Entire workout (145 bpm):
Duration: 3:32:03 (official time 3:29:21)
Work: n/a
rTSS: 274.5 (0.829)
NGP: 8:01 (200.8 m/min)
VI: n/a
Pw:HR: n/a
Pa:HR: 4.59%
Distance: 25.992 mi
Elevation Gain: 1959 ft
Elevation Loss: 1937 ft
Grade: 0.0 % (26 ft)
Min Max Avg
Heart Rate: 110 180 145 bpm
Speed: 0 13.3 7.3 mph
Pace 4:31 0:00 8:11 min/mi
Altitude: 45 266 139 ft


The approach to training and racing over the years has been dialed in to a really great recipe but each year Alan refines it to make it just a little better.

This year the twist was moderately hard recovery weeks (700 TSS versus 500 TSS last year) and they worked…just like all the other little tweaks over the past few years.

Camps continue to be my best bang for the buck in concentrated training and I will continue to build those in for next year…it is my only chance to get in 25H+ and 1200+ TSS

Gear is MAXED out and there is no chance to buy any more speed…I looked :)

Taper was PERFECT and I didn’t feel tired or any of the other annoying tapering effects.

Plan was solid (designed by AC) and the change in metrics actually gave me a little more latitude to play with on race day and I really like that.

All season long has been wattage focused and HR secondary…here we switched to HR primary and power secondary…it allowed me to ride tactically which is HUGELY important in Kona.

The Swim

Lined up to the left of the Ford Car and went off 2-3 people back from the front as the scrum was in full swarm. The 1st 5 minutes were a$$holes and elbows and it was a washing machine…stayed even with everyone but protected my face with short strokes.

Got cleaner water in about 10 minutes and settled into a “very easy pace” with a BIG pack that was dragging me along. With the recent shoulder injury I was worried about pressing the pace too much so I figured I am moving well and using no energy…choose to stay where I was. Finished the swim in 1:05.


Uneventful but still need to focus on free speed.

The Bike

Rode smooth and easy but tactically for the 1st 15 miles and then started looking for faster trains going by. Picked up my training partner around mile 15 and then pressed on to get rolling. Got with a few good groups but it was early and very much the typical surge and recover but I stayed with them.

On the climb to Hawi I think I rode really smart and stayed with a guy named Twelsik and a guy named Jenz…they were BIG and I figured that riding with a “Jenz” couldn’t be all bad :)

About 5 miles from the turn around the pace went REALLY hard and I let them go. I am pretty sure I saw Jenz again at mile 80 and Twelsik on the run so I think it was the right decision.

After the turn and special needs to get Red Bull…I remembered AC’s advice and really pushed the pace. This was my peak 60 minutes (223 NP) and I caught on to a great legal train that was really working well together. It was hard to catch them and hard to stay with them but it was worth it as I REALLY did not want to ride back to town alone.

Made it back to scenic point and the group broke up in an aid station and I was fine to pace myself in from there.
The final 20 miles felt really easy and I probably went a little too soft here with an NP of 200.

Turning right from Queen K to T2 I had to remind myself (outload) that the run was still a marathon as I was REALLY feeling good and REALLY excited to test the legs.


Took my time to make sure I was not going to get torn up and in hindsight…this in hindsight cost me the sub 10.

Stopped to pee and then headed out to run.


Really held back to 8:00’s (per AC) for the 1st 4 miles…actually had to reset ever ¼ mile as I was feeling great.

At mile 4 I said “finally” and let the legs free and got to a running pace of 7:40 with slower splits to get water, ice and sponges.

Was through 10 in 80 minutes and started to realize it would be close.

Decided to run HR and hold 8’s through the energy lab and then try to press the pace from the turn around to home as things were getting tougher but not horrible.

Had a quick but mandatory porto pottie stop at the top of the energy lab and was back running in around 1 minute – pro tip from New Orleans…sponges…nuff said :)

At mile 20 I still had a REALLY good chance for sub 10 and dialed it up significantly and started to make a big press and was feeling pretty good considering.
20-22 were around 7:30’s slower with aid stations.
22-24 were around 7:20’s and then 24-26 was actually the hardest I have ever run in an Ironman race as I knew I would be VERY close and I think I hit 5:40 pace descending Palani in full stride.
Made the right on Ali’I and knew I was probably going to miss but I kept pressing harder.
Gave Coen (son) a high five and sprinted for the line but came in 28 seconds shy of goal.

The finish

First time ever to nearly fell out at the line…now I know what that feels like to race :)

Took a few minutes to get my composure and wobbled back to the greeting area.

Met up with the family and chilled before heading back to the hotel and for “real” food at Huggo’s.


Took 2 Ensure (1 at 2:30am – 1 at 4am) and then had 1 bagel with almond butter, oatmeal and coffee at 4:30.
Took 2 salt pills and sipped water until the start.
Took in 1 sip of EFS Quick shot (approx. 60-75 kcal) every 15 minutes from 1:30 on the bike until 6:00 on the bike and only missed 1 feeding.
Took in 2-3 bottle of water per hour sipping from aerobottle and pee’d 3 times on the bike and T2 so that was probably fine.
Took in 10-12 salt stick pills total (approx. 1-2 per hour) and 2 pepto bismol tablets (mile 8 of run) and 2 Advil mile 10 of run.
Took 1 Vivarim (100mg caffeine) at 2:30 and a Red Bull at 4:45.
On the run used 2 x 100mg Caffiene Mocha Macca shots, one at 7:00 and one at mile 14 (8:30?)
One additional gel (no caffeine) and a Red Bull at mile 17 and Coke from 18 to finish every mile.
ICE and water at EVERY aid station.
Crowies tips to IM racing…salt pills and caffeine :)

Post race

Really incredible how clean I came through with only a small amount of missing skin and no real ortho or muscle injuries.

Need to “fix” shoulder or stroke but overall still very healthy considering.


I said this before I will say it again…

Alan is the mad scientist of fitness and he is scary at predicting outcomes.

I am disappointed that I did not hit 9 something (28 seconds is so close) but that is completely my fault.
There will be other chances and I am VERY confident with some better decisions in execution (especially in transition)…I can go quicker…even as I get older.

Thanks AC for all the help…you rock!!!

Alan Couzens – my coach…you are the man!!!
Jeff and Karel of Trek JAX for taking such good care of me and my Trek Speed Concept Shaila…Karel…I don’t think she ever rode so smooth and that is due to you – thanks man 100% confidence in my ride.
Josh Myers of Kswiss – you kept pressing me to change and I am so happy I did – Kwicky Blade Lights ROCK!!!
Skin Fit – the suit is money…you guys got it there on time…best gear for racing long distance
Biestmilch – best new supplement I have tried – seriously great stuff
Biobuilde MAP – never leave home without it.
Extreme Endurance…that is good stuff…back..back…back… it up boyz.
Margorie – (Massage) – you like to hurt me but you are so good
Alvin Green – (Chiro) – you straightened out the kinks
Drew Heideman (PT) – Dude – the healing hands – muchas gracias
Gus of Planet swim – you did your job and I took it too easy…next time mate…thanks for the help.

To all my training partners and friends on the was a great day!!!

Andi and the Boyz – thanks for allowing me to nap, be grumpy, sleep during movies and the rest…Much Love :)