Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

3200 miles were driven and 140.6 miles were raced and it will go down as the two best weeks of my life. Granted, I did not qualify for Kona but as many of my friends and team mates have pointed out, the journey is what made the whole experience special, not necessarily the race and it is so true. Even my dream wedding and honeymooning in Australia for two weeks 10 years ago did not compare to the epic road trip I did with my wife and two kids topped off with a "dreamlike" vacation from the vacation in Las Vegas with some amazing people. Wow. Where to begin! Since this is a triathlon blog, I'll stick to the race...

We left Wednesday night to stay in Vegas for a night to avoid the dreaded SoCal traffic. We then headed to Park City, UT the next day to stay with some friends and get a quick glimpse of the beautiful mountain resort town. Thursday we drove to Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful and then drove to Missoula, MT for the night. Between Montana and Yellowstone, we saw some of the most beautiful parts of this country I've ever seen and I've been to every state except five. Breathtaking! Friday we finally arrived in Coeur d'Alene and although it was beautiful it didn't compare to what we just witnessed the day before! The city of Coeur d'Alene seemed like the whole good side of the street/bad side of the street. We were very unimpressed until we got around the resort and Ironman check-in area which was amazing.

Friday and Saturday was very low key. Check in, pre-workouts and getting around were very easy and simple. I was able to spend a lot of time napping, hydrating and staying off my feet. Come Saturday night I felt very rested and very hungry to leave it all out there the next day.

2.4 mile swim: 1:21:02 (2:05/100 yd pace) 141 out of 316 in AG

The day before the race I swam in the lake Coeur d'Alene choppy waters and wasn't so concerned. I've swam many times in Vail lake (local) which is always choppy and over the past month I've swam at La Jolla cove which can also be choppy. Well race day the wind was kicking pretty good. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the lake. We basically had to swim straight into it, make the turn home and then do it again. I told Flanny the day before that if he saw a 1:15 swim split to not be alarmed because I knew it was going to be a slow swim and I was not going to fight through it and potentially ruin my race. It was a "self-seeded" start so I ended up going in the second wave (1:00-1:15) group. There's no delay in between the waves, it's just a rolling start. It was definitely the most violent swim I've been in. Between getting a shiner on my forehead, swam over, and knocked around. I also had trouble siting -- whenever I tried a wave was blocking the buoys. I've learned over the past 4 years of doing triathlons that the best way to get through these kind of swims is to just relax, not force it and actually just smile. So that's what I did. Just took the punches and swam as strong as I could.

I hit the first lap in 36 minutes and was on pace to break 1:15. I was pretty disoriented when I got out of the water to make the turn to go back in. The waves and chop can really make you dizzy. I definitely felt the fatigue going into the current again on the second lap and could tell my pace dropped. I just did my best to get through it and not get overly concerned about it. I knew historically if you swam around 1:15 you still have a shot of a Kona slot. When I saw 1:20 on my Garmin when I came out, I just knew it was time to get to work and figured with my run - a 1:20 wouldn't take me out of the race.

T1: 4:46

First time experiencing the whole Ironman tent changing room. The volunteers were amazing. Got me out of my suit, my bike bag, sun screened me up, went pee #1 of the day and I was on my way.

112 mile bike/4500ft of climbing: 5:42 (AVG 19.6 mph) 46th in AG

The temperature was actually perfect. I went with no arm warmers and felt great. It was the wind that hurt me. It seemed like it continued to pick up momentum as the bike went on. Strong winds for my slender frame really took me out of the race. Based off of the last 8 months of using power, Flanny and I decided 190NP was going to be my magic number to ride a 5:00-5:15 bike split. With all of the intervals, hills, long days, short days etc...we had no doubt that the bike would be a huge advantage for me and I'd be able to run off the bike holding that power and crush this course. Well I held 189NP and rode 5:42 haha. You can check out data HERE. The only variable we couldn't factor in was the wind. I stayed very aero the whole race and did my best to fight through that wind but it just ended up being a day that favored the power riders. The ones that didn't get blown over by the wind on the bike and the ones that could power through the chop in the swim. HOWEVER. I still felt like I was in the race. My biggest maturity in triathlon over the past few years is that I learned times mean nothing in triathlon. There are so many variables in long course that your S,B,R times really don't mean anything nor do they tell the story of the race.

So I just kept eating and drinking, nailing my nutrition plan. I peed three times on the bike and never felt hungry or thirsty. I finally started feeling my efforts for the day right at mile 100. I fought to stay at 190 watts for the last 10 miles which tells me that Flanny's plan was spot on. Hard enough to question whether or not I could run off the bike but no cramping, GI issues or dreading the run. Even coming in at 5:42, I had a feeling that a lot of people's splits were slow so I still didn't throw in the towel, I knew I had work to do!

T2: 3:13

Again, the volunteers were awesome. Found my bag right away, slipped on my shoes, took another pee and off I went!

26.2 mile run/1500ft of climbing: 3:43 (AVG 8:31 pace) 36th in AG

Again, after months of training data - Flanny and I decided that 7:15 pace was going to be the magic number for me. Data found HERE. I got off the bike and that first mile felt a little bit weird. It just took some time to get my running legs off of me. I carried a flask of nutrition and just sipped on it while refueling it at each aid station with whatever sounded good. After the first mile, 7:15's became effortless and I knew I was going to have a good run. I just stayed on top of my nutrition, picked a stronger runner ahead of me in the distance and just worked my way up to them for the pass while staying on my own pace. It's a 2 loop course, basically go through a neighborhood, up the long hill and back x2.

The first lap (1/2 marathon) I was enjoying myself. Smiles, giving some fist bumps to the awesome house parties going on and just clicking off the miles. As I went through the first loop I saw my family, gave them a wave and saw that I clicked off a 1:34 half. Right on pace! Then like almost clock work the next mile I started getting some serious taste fatigue. Everything I tried to eat or drink I just spit it out. I tried drinking a lot of water and eating some pretzels to rinse my palate like I was drinking wine or something but with no such luck! I just gradually started bonking. Whenever I tried to force food down I felt like I wanted to puke. Not because of GI issues but because of the sweet food/taste fatigue I had going on. Everything was just gross. Sweet, salty - didn't matter. So my great pace eventually turned into a slow jog. I just did my best to keep form and stay positive. Those last 6 miles ended up being one of the toughest things I've ever been through. I was so stubborn and refused to walk and just forced myself through it.

Ironman isn't easy. These past several months haven't been easy. So when I arrived to that long finish chute it was almost like my mind just replayed pictures and videos of all of the good and bad in my life leading up to this race. I choked up big time. When you are in a lot of pain you become very vulnerable. With each step and high five I gave heading into the finish I was very proud of myself. Not just of the race but the entire "Kona Journey" that I've been on over the past year. It took every ounce of discipline mentally and physically to get there and even though it hurt that I did not qualify, when I crossed that finish line - that wasn't what was on my mind. My family was there and as I looked at their faces with watery eyes, I looked up into the sky and became an Ironman.

Final Result: 10:55:01, 36th in AG, 161st overall.

Thank you all for the amazing kind words and encouragement; this was truly an experience that I will never forget.

Thanks for reading-

Final Thoughts

You always hear people say how fast time flies. Ironman training has been in full effect since January and I can tell you first hand that the time DID NOT fly by. It wasn't easy by any means and these last six months took everything I had both physically and mentally. I'm running on fumes and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally toe the line and then cross that finish line next week at Ironman Coeur d' Alene. The time discipline I've had to exercise over the past few months has been beyond difficult but I managed to get through it.
Here's my workout totals since January (25 weeks):

Swim: 187,643 yards / Avg: 7,505 yards/week

Bike: 2,825 miles / Avg: 113 miles/week

Run:  563 / Avg: 22.5 miles/week

Average weekly hours training: 12.3 hrs/week

So for your typical Kona qualifier hopeful, this doesn't seem like a lot of volume. However, the quality is what has been important. Juggling family/work life with training hasn't been easy but I go into this race very confident in my abilities and still think I have a shot at qualifying as long as I execute perfectly. So how do I qualify? Well, historically at IMCDA a 9:30-9:45 in the 35-39 AG and/or top 5 will get you the beloved KQ not to mention a spot on the podium. How does that break down for me? I debated whether or not to post this, but I've let you all in on my journey, I may as well put myself out there and share what Flanny and I think I am capable of (as long as everything goes right - which I understand is the hardest thing about Ironman!).

2.4 mile swim goal time: 1:05-1:10 (1:32-1:39 pace). With the rolling start last year, IMCDA saw really fast times. I've done a lot of open water swims leading up and even a 4000 yd straight swim which showed me I'm more than capable of swimming in this timeframe.

112 mile bike: 5:00-5:10 (21-22mph). Course has 6k of climbing which really suits my strengths. Goal is to hold 190 watts (NP). Over the past several months I've held 190-200 watts (NP) for 5-6 hour rides and finished with a solid run with no problem. As long as I can stay true to my plan on the hills and not burn any matches, I should be capable of this kind of ride.

26.2 mile run: 3:10-3:15 (7:15-7:30 pace). So Flanny's magic number for me is 7:15's. As easy as it is on tired legs in training, I've never duplicated it for 26 miles after a long day. As long as I fuel properly and absolutely go beyond my comfort zone - 7:15's should absolutely be possible for me.

Total time ~9:30-9:45

It always comes down to the run in Ironman. Doesn't matter how fast you swim or how well you ride, can you execute a marathon on tired legs? A lot of that comes with your ability to suffer on the run. It can be learned but there is no doubt that the true runners have a huge advantage in Ironman. I'm hoping to utilize it.

Are these high expectations for my first Ironman? Not if you have prepared properly and I believe I have. We'll find out on Sunday! You can track me Bib #174 at

I want to really thank my beautiful wife Amy for really supporting me through this process. It hasn't been easy for her either. I get a lot of credit for being able to juggle all that I do but there's no doubt that she does SO MUCH. She really sacrificed a lot so I could train and fulfill this dream I have had and she never complained once. I am truly lucky to have her and couldn't do any of this or be the man I am without her.

I want to thank Flanny again for EVERYTHING. You can read about it HERE. Also thanks to James Walsh who also played a big part of me being competitive in triathlon.

I want to thank Wattie and all my Wattie Ink teammates for the crazy amount of support, fun and family environment you've given me. #OG

Thanks to Wattie Sponsors: Herbalife, Powerbar, Reynolds, Blueseventy, Spidertech, Rudy Project, ISM, Speedfil, 10 Barrel Brewing, TriBike Transport, 454 Tattoo, Hypoxic, Rev3 and Wildflower.

Thanks to my personal sponsors: The Bike Shop (thanks for everything Rick!), SRM, e21, SportMulti.

And lastly, thanks to all that have followed along on my journey. Whether it be on this site, Kona Journey, at Lava Magazine or years prior to this at Love the Hurt. I've had so many messages, emails and voices of support over the years and I can't thank you enough for it.



Guest Post II: Coach Robert "Flanny" Flanigan

Before I get to coach Flanny’s blog post, I think it’s important to try to explain in writing how physically and emotionally hard it was to finally arrive here. In reading Flanny’s post I had to fight back tears. He went WAY above and beyond what a typical coach does for you. He held my hand though the thick and thin. Took my calls and texts from different time zones to make sure I was alright. You see, I’ve never been much of an emotional person. I’ve always been really grounded and strong (so I thought). Ironman training has changed that in me. It’s broken me to pieces, it’s forced me to get back on my feet and it’s left me standing tall and proud whether I have a good race or not.

There’s always been this emotional wall I’ve put up my whole life. Every ridiculous hard workout Flanny threw at me when I was physically and emotionally drained from training, career and life – slowly broke down that wall. “Why an Ironman?” is the question I’ve been asked so often leading up to this race. This is why. It’s been life changing and turned me into a better man. A man that falls down and gets back on his feet holding a stronger ground day in and day out.

It truly has been a journey that I will never forget.

Guest Blog post: Coach Robert “Flanny” Flanigan, Owner - Central Virgina Endurance and Black Dragon Racing.

With just a few days until the gun fires at the 2014 edition of Ironman Coeur d’Alene I wanted to step back to reflect and comment on the preparation James has put in since the decision to pursue Ironman was made late in 2013. 

From the very beginnings of the preparation for this season, one concept was reinforced to James almost every time we spoke. The concept of consistency. The season needed to be looked at as a very long book with each of the pages being individual workouts, each chapter being a cycle (block), and the entire book being the work done to prepare for race day. Success or failure would not be determined by the individual pages of the book, but would be determined by the overall volume of the book. Getting the workouts in day after day, making the right decisions, and being consistent would be the keys to unlocking the physiological adaptations needed to accomplish the goals James had set.

For those familiar with James and his personal situation, consistency would not prove to be as easy as it sounds. As a committed family man, businessperson, and lastly an athlete the life demands took a toll on James throughout the process. This is where the value of the coach-athlete relationship comes into play and makes a huge impact. Coaching is not about training plans. Any educated and intelligent person can eventually throw together workouts and call it a training plan. It’s everything else that makes up coaching. Helping an athlete navigate the insanity that can be life while staying on track to achieve peak performance and meet their goals. The preparation period for this race threw everything it had at James ranging from illness and unexpected lows to career advancement and unexpected highs. James and I stayed very closely connected throughout the entire process and were able to course correct when the currents of life tried to push us off course.  The result was the consistency I had hoped for and preached since the start. Did we get to fill the book with as many pages as I had hoped or expected? Not really but we did get in all the key parts of each chapter, all the chapters, and the book is now complete.  We have indeed seen the adaptations we had hoped we would see leading into his first Ironman.

James will be entering this race in the best form and fitness he has ever been in, injury free, strong, fast, and most importantly with the support of his loving family. I cannot tell you how refreshing it has been to work with someone so fully committed to his family. In this sport I see many people willing to sacrifice so much to succeed and many times those that suffer most are the athlete’s family. While the goals James had set for himself were of great importance to him there was no question as to what sacrifices we would make in his preparation. Family always came first and we were all in agreement with that expectation. The sweaty hugs at the finish line will truly be a team celebration as they all took this journey together.

When James gets into those chilly waters at the start, he can do so knowing he is fully prepared to race Ironman and his only job is to execute his race plan, stay dynamic and adjust to the demands of the day, and enjoy the end of a long and rewarding journey. 

Good Days, Bad Days

Right now the bad days are definitely out weighing the good days but I'm trying not to let it get to me. I've accepted the fact that there will be days that I can't train. At first it really brought me down in the dumps. Training has a snowball effect on my brain for some reason. If I miss one day of training I am completely UNmotivated to train the next day (which you think the opposite would happen) and I just get depressed about the sport and convince myself I am out of shape and slow. On the flip side, whenever I have a good session or even better - 2 or 3 workouts in a day (rare lately), I can't wait to get up and train and my confidence is through the roof! Anyone else have this issue? It's been a battle with me over the past month to look at the big picture and not sweat a forced day off and realize that I have a great base under me and it's all about getting sharp and fast for IMCDA.

Deep down inside I know that I'm in great shape and that I'm capable of having a great race. It's going to be all about executing and learning as I go since this is my first IM. I'm really looking forward to traveling with the family and racing. Lately I've been spending maybe 30 minutes a/day with them M-F and it is killing me. I know the end is near and I can't wait to race and then taking a break away from triathlon. That break may be one month to get the house sold/buy another and then build into IM Worlds 70.3 in Canada or that break may be for 15 years so I can focus all of my energy and attention towards my family. I know it'll be possible to balance triathlon and life once I eliminate my long commute but I'm not sure if I want to do that. I may just buy a road bike and be a roadie for awhile, do some cyclocross or maybe see if I can pop a sub 2:30 marathon - who knows.

Here's a summary of last week's training which was pretty light but it was all I could do with such a busy week. I'm just going to post totals - don't think anyone was interested in specific workouts!

Totals (2 swims, 2 rides, 3 runs)
Swim: 6,500 yds /2:17
Bike: 93 miles / 6:04
Run: 26 miles / 4:00
Total hours: 12:20

Questions / Comments always appreciated! 

Life Changes

You never know when things in life are going to change. So often you have your whole year planned out to the week (especially as triathletes) and then something happens and you have to make adjustments. In my case, it's going to be major adjustments as I just received a big job promotion. I purposely don't discuss work much on this blog but with my position before I was able to work from home 2-3 days a week and get the job done. Well now my responsibilities have doubled and I manage a team now which requires me to be in the office every day and make the 100 mile commute each day. Needless to say, this has put a damper on my Ironman build and even more so on my family time.

My situation before allowed me the time, sleep and energy I needed to train properly for my best race at IMCDA and ultimately fulfill my dream of qualifying and racing at Kona. I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago that I am devastated about not fulfilling my dreams in triathlon (which are qualifying for Kona and winning a major AG race) but beyond excited about my "real life" dreams which comes along with this promotion that is going to allow me to support my family, travel and live more comfortably. It's also going to mean that we will most likely be moving back to San Diego this summer which is also something we are really excited about. My Facebook post was misinterpreted and a lot of my friends thought I was giving up on the sport completely. That may or may not be the case, I don't know yet and the good news is I don't have to decide it right now. After IMCDA, I will definitely take a break to get my house sold, buy a new one, get settled in aT work and actually spend some time with my family!

Right now I am spending about 1.5 hrs a day M-F with my wife and kids and I HATE it. However, I know it's just a short term run so I am giving it my best in my build towards IMCDA and my family is on board. I've worked way to hard to this point to just put up the white flag and race half-assed. It's taken awhile to make the adjustments to the new work schedule while still getting in some quality hours of training. My targeted 20 hrs/week with adequate sleep and rest has been replaced with 12-16 hr/weeks with little sleep and 100+ miles of commuting each day. Not ideal, but I have to make it work for just another month.

As far as training goes, I feel a little bit like I did in my Ironman 70.3 Worlds build from last year. Just really tired legs, digging deep constantly and mentally challenging. The biggest thing that has suffered is my swim. I'm only able to get in the water two MAYBE three times a week and usually it's swimming alone which is not ideal for me but I'm just trying to limit my loses there. I've been getting in my long rides consistently each week and mileage seems to stay consistent around the 150 mile range. Ideally, that would be 200, but again - making it work. As far as running goes, this is the only sport I feel really good about right now. We've been incorporating a lot of long runs, tempo sessions and brick runs. I actually ran 40 miles last week which is the most I've done in about five years.

So my outlook on my chances at qualifying are now pretty slim. I already knew I had to execute perfectly in order to put myself in position to qualify and everything was on track until my time available to train/sleep changed. The good news now though is there is no pressure to perform. I'll just go to battle and give it everything I have and be content with the result either way. I may surprise myself and pull it off, who knows. I'm starting to learn over my 35 years of being alive to finally take each day by day and minute to minute. I've always been so future focused and failing to live in the moment - to train in the moment and I believe that's helped me.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate all of the support!

2014 Wildflower 70.3 Race Report

Each sore step I took this week was a welcome reminder of a great race I had at Tri Cal Event's - Wildflower last weekend. It was my first podium at a major 70.3 race and I did it on what many consider the hardest 70.3 on the circuit. Even better, we trained right through this race (other than the last few days leading up) and I still put out more power on the bike and in my opinion a better race than Ironman Oceanside 70.3 which was only a short month before Wildflower. As I mentioned in my last blog, I was going to take some risks in this one - mainly swimming harder and riding aggressively.

After racing Wildflower two years ago, Amy and I brought the kids who; were at the time 2 & 3. Needless to say it was a little stressful, especially when you're tent camping. So this year we decided for me to just go up solo which can get lonely, but as soon as I arrived I was greeted with a beer and my great Wattie Ink team mates. The team has really become a second family to me and it reminds me a lot of when I raced in college. You get to experience the work hard, play hard dynamic together and you become closer because of it.

Friday ended up being in the 100's so we tried to check in and rest as much as possible in hopes that it would cool down the next day. Part of that was going to the new swim start. For those of you that don't know, Lake San Antonio (where the usual swim start is) dried up so they had to move it 2 miles down and add another run/transition. So even though it was still a 70.3 it went like this: 1.2M swim, T1a, 2.2 mile run, T1b, 56 mile bike, T2, 10.9 mile run. I personally thought it favored the strong runners and those quick in transition. The new swim venue was still beautiful but the boat ramp was not. It was a VERY steep grade coming out of the water which for me is when my heart rate is at its highest! Even though it wasn't your typical triathlon, I love what the race director from Tri Cal Events said in the race packet about how the point of a triathlon is the challenge and adventure that comes with it! I feel like the course change totally fit in with the whole novelty of what Wildflower has to offer. You never know what you are going to get in this race with the winds, heat and rambunctious volunteers - I thought it added a lot of character to the race and will go down as one of my favorite race experiences ever! Now, to the race.

0695_18099Swim: 1.2 miles, 31:52 (AVG 1:30/100yd) - 41st out of the water

It was a standing start so after each wave we had a few minutes to warm up in the now very silty/churned up water. I lined up in the second row, right side which was a direct shot to the first buoy about 200 yards out. The goal was to just go out fairly hard (not sprint) and then RACE the swim. I've always been so concerned about swimming too hard or kicking too much and having it affect my bike and/or race. This time I went in with the confidence that I'm fit enough to recover from a hard swim and still race well. When I raced the mile (1500) in college, the hardest lap was always the 3rd lap. Often times you'd fall asleep until you hear that bell (last) lap. It's easy to lose focus on the race and I've felt the same way with long course swimming. I'd settle in, get too comfortable and then pick it up towards the end sacrificing critical time for a triathlete where swimming is the weakness. So for Wildflower I forced myself to stay "on it" and swim hard the entire way. It worked and I managed to get out of the water in a decent time.

T1a: As soon as you got out of the water you had to go fetch your transition bag from a self made area on a large uphill boat ramp. I found an easy to find spot next to a sign and had no issues. I dried my feet off and put on my first pair of running shoes and headed up the boat ramp and onto the first run course.

photoRun #1: 2.2 miles, 14:30 (AVG 6:35)

Even though the results show an overall run time, I got all my splits on my Garmin. Flanny and I planned to just cruise through this section. Just get some blood in the legs for the bike and not burn any matches. 6:35's on fresh legs for me is definitely cruise mode and the planned work because I passed a lot of those fish and by the time I made it to T1b I put myself in good position and actually came to a rack filled with bikes!

0695_03180Bike 56 miles (3k elevation): 2:40 (AVG 20.9mph) 6th fastest bike split in AG
Power file HERE

I can always tell if I'm going to have good legs on the bike within the first few miles. In this case those first few miles are straight uphill at Wildflower. I just stayed patient and under the prescribed 250 watts that Flanny prescribed me for the uphill's and then I went to work. The bike course is exactly like riding in my backyard. Lots of cross winds, beat up roads and some hills. I just did my best to eat a lot, hydrate as much as possible and again "stay on it." About 45 minutes into the course I saw my friend/team mate Dusty Nabor. As soon as I passed him I told him to come with me. Little did I know, he did! After navigating through some traffic and some wind it was time to climb "Nasty Grade." Those nice cross winds go away and you just bake going up this hill. It isn't necessarily a tough hill and for me it was welcoming so I could get out of aero position and stretch out a bit. A few minutes went by and Dusty came up on me and said "what's up man?" Nobody had passed me the whole ride so it startled me a bit. I grinned and was stoked he was right there with me. I asked him what place he thought he was out of the water and he said like 6 or 7. I knew we were in position to podium so we agreed to work together and legally we did so for the last 10 miles which in my opinion are the hardest and there's no doubt we rode harder with each other pushing it.

T2: 1:32

I had a very weird experience of getting to T2 with hardly any bikes! I headed out on the run in 8th place.

0695_06914Run 10.9 miles: 1:18 (AVG 7:09) 3rd fastest run split
Total 13.1 run (1,500 total elevation) 1:32 (AVG 7:04)
Run file HERE

Those first few miles I was a little worried that I biked too hard. I had a few cramp scares and was putting down as much fluids as I could (I took a bottle with me). Thankfully, about two miles in they went away and I went to work. The whole race my mantra to myself was "Charge" as in charge the course, race the course. On the steep up hills I just did my best to keep my form and keep charging. I passed another guy from my age group on the steepest part of the course and he had enough energy to yell out "Noooo, damn you!" I kept rolling and with about two miles to go I started bonking a bit. I usually rely on cola and Powerbar on the course for calories but they didn't have cola so I started hurting a bit. That last little hill before you hit the downhill was brutal and then once I hit the downhill my whole diaphragm started cramping up. I was ready to be done!

4:50, 5th in AG and 26th overall

10307208_10152405850404171_1738791336889580324_nMy age group had the 1st, 3rd and 5th fastest amateurs in the field so there's no doubt I was up against a tough group. Times are always hard to judge performance (especially on this course- this year) so I tack the day up as a success with getting on the podium. The rest of the day meant drinking 10 Barrel beer with my team mates, going to the Picky Bar party, meeting and hanging out with the man himself Andrew Starykowicz and a lot of other cool pros. It was such a fun weekend and experience. As much as I joke with Dusty about why the heck we do this - every time you race and reflect, you know exactly why.

I'd like to thank my wife and kids who are my biggest fans and support - I seriously couldn't do this sport without her! Thanks to Wattie and HJ for creating such a cool brand and atmosphere around the races.

Thanks to my sponsors: Wattie Ink, SRM, The Bike Shop, Reynolds Cycling, Blueseventy, Herbalife, Powerbar, Rudy Project, ISM, Speedfil, 10 Barrel Brewing, Spidertech, Tribike Transport, Hypoxic and "The one and only" Wildflower!

Shout out to my other team mates on the podium - Heather for a three peat - beyond excited for you, Karin Langer for getting on the podium on her first long course race since Kona 2012! Chris Lou on the podium and of course our superstar age grouper (soon to be pro) Sarah Barkley for a 2nd place finish! Also father son duo John and Dillon Hollinger both on the podium the next day for the Olympic race. Awesome and talented team mates.


0695_06913 0695_27761

Race Week: Training Log (April 21-27)

It's RACE WEEK! With the job of qualifying for 70.3 World Championships out of the way and IMCDA still two months away, I jumped at the opportunity of racing Wildflower. There's zero pressure to perform well, so what are we going to do? We're going to take risks! Every single 70.3 I've raced has been on a conservative approach - which is smart since I was so new to the sport. With this being my fourth year in triathlon, I think it's time to put on my big boy pants and actually take some risks and race aggressively. There's no doubt that this course can really hurt you if you're too aggressive but I really don't have anything to lose. I'm not tapering or taking this race too seriously. It's all about having fun with team mates and racing harder than I ever have before.

Why risk a blow up when this is my last race heading into the most important race of the season? Well, my confidence is sky high right now. There's no doubt that I'm in the best shape of my life. I've also matured as a triathlete a lot this year and I know what I am capable of. My once hesitant confidence at my chances of qualifying for Kona are now a distant memory. I now believe that as long as I execute come race day at IMCDA, I'll be standing on the podium and collecting my Kona slot. Flanny mentioned that I'm ahead of his expectations with my fitness and I still have two months of solid training to build into the race.

So really, the goal at Wildflower this weekend is to put myself in such a deep/dark place that once I start to suffer at IMCDA, I'll remember the battles that I won at Wildflower.

Here's how last week's training looked like. Work was super busy so I really had to manage my time well and be disciplined on the hour.

Monday: 1 workout

Bike Tempo Session Data HERE 1:40/ 30 miles / 18.4mph

Flanny’s workout: 1.5-2 hours depending on available time. 2 x 20 minutes @ 70.3 Race Watts on 5 minutes easy. Stay aero as much as possible.

Post workout notes: (in notes) [hr]

Tuesday: 1 workout

Run Track Workout, Data HERE: 1:10 / 8.5 miles

Flanny's Workout:
15 min WU
2 x 2 mile on 2 min rest
(first one I want at 6:30 pace, second one I want at 6:15 pace)
2 x 800 on 1 min rest
(I want both at 6:00 pace.....NO FASTER)
This workout should not be too hard for you.
Easy CD for the remainder of the run.

Post workout notes: (listed in data file). [hr]

Wednesday: 2 workouts

Masters Swim: 90 mins / 4000 yds
500 wup, 4x100 on 1:40, 4x50 on 50
Main set:
5x200 on 3mins
500 pull (buoy/paddles)
5x200 on 3 mins
500 with fins

Post workout notes: I hit all of the 200's between 2:50-55. For not swimming since Friday, this was a really good workout for me - basically 2k at race pace.

Bike Tempo Session DATA HERE: 2hrs / 35 miles / 17.7 mph

Flanny’s workout: 2 hours today with 3 x 20 minutes at your 70.3 race watts on 5 minutes easy riding between efforts.

Post workout notes: (listed in data notes).[hr]

Thursday: 2 workouts

Morning run: 41mins / 4.5 miles / AVG 9:07 pace.

Flanny’s Workout: Easy morning run.

Post workout notes: 5am run's are always hard for me to warm up. Just an easy slow run.

Afternoon run: 1:22 / 10 miles / AVG 8:12 pace.

Flanny’s Workout: Evening Run 1:20 Z2+

Post workout notes: Hit the trails, felt pretty tired after a long day at work but started coming around towards the end. Good double run day, it's been awhile since I've done that.[hr]

Friday: 1 workout

Masters Swim: 90 mins / 4000 yards

700 wup, 10x50 on 50
4x500 @1:35 pace (odds swim, evens paddles)
500 drill (changing every 100)

Post workout notes: Another early wakeup call as I played golf with some clients for the rest of the day. Starting to love the longer intervals.[hr]

Saturday: 2 workouts

Wetsuit Swim: 31:36 / 2000 yds / AVG 1:34/100 
Post workout notes:
Was scheduled for a long ride/brick run but woke up to nasty rain and wind so I made a quick call to Flanny and we just swapped Sat/Sun's workouts. I have access to a non-heated pool so I knocked this out and was 3 seconds faster per 100 then I was the week before Oceanside. Good to see some progress.

Tempo Long run, DATA HERE: 1:27 / 11.3 miles / AVG 7:44 pace 

Flanny’s Workout:
30 minutes Z2
30 minutes Z3+
30 Minutes Z2

Post workout notes: (posted in workout notes).6:30's never felt so easy (ok, except in college :)[hr]

Sunday: 2 workouts

Bike ride, DATA HERE. 3:30 / 61 miles / 17.5 mph

Flanny’s workout: Within today's session I want 3 x 30 minutes at Z3 watts with lots of rest between efforts. Stay down and aero for as much of this as possible. We don't need a huge climbing day today so keep it reasonable.

Post workout notes: Notes attached to the power file above.

Brick Run- 20 mins / 2.75 miles/ 7:16 AVG pace. 

Flanny's workout: Easy 20 min run off bike.

Post workout notes: Running is feeling effortless right now.[hr]

Totals (3 swims, 3 rides, 5 runs)
Swim: 10,000 yds /3:32
Bike: 127 miles / 7:09
Run: 37 miles / 5:00
Total hours: 15:41

Hours had to go down a bit this week with it being such a busy week commuting to San Diego 4 out of the 5 days, running a trade show at the convention center for two days and golfing all day Friday. Overall very pleased with the progress and my fitness going into Wildflower.

Wish me luck!!

Here's some more pictures from the weekend, cheers!

[gallery columns="2" ids="2808,2807,2806,2805,2803,2802,2801,2800,2809"]

Training Log (April 14-20)

Consistency has been the name of the game and last week was no different. I'm executing every single workout that Flanny is throwing at me right now and I'm starting to see noticeable differences in my fitness for all three sports. Hours have slowly increased and the good news is I'm not feeling any more fatigued that I was before. I feel like as a coach and athlete we are in sync which is sometimes hard to do - and from it comes an overwhelming confidence that what I do each day is the right thing.

The world famous Wildflower triathlon festival is next weekend and I'm really excited to race. Sometimes when you get signs of great fitness you start looking around for a race and I feel like this is the perfect race at the perfect time in my build up to IMCDA. What's even better is Wattie Ink and Wildflower triathlon partners up each year - so we are treated like kings there. Can't wait to hang out with team mates and race hard!

Here's last weeks workouts:

Monday: 3 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 75 mins / 3500 yds
500 wup, 4x100 on 1:40, 4x50 on 50
Main set:
6x200 on 3 mins
10x100 pull on 1:30 (5 w/paddles, 5 w/buoy)
200 c/d

Post workout notes: Tough day today in the water, barely made the 200's on 3 mins.

Bike Trainer ride: 1hr / 14 miles / 14 mph

Flanny’s workout: Recovery ride

Post workout notes: Easy recovery ride on the trainer, felt good to chill.

Rudy Project / Powerbar / Herbalife Steady State run: 55mins / 7 miles / AVG 8:01 pace.

Flanny’s Workout: Lets get in 60 minutes of steady running on soft surfaces focused on quick turnover.

Post workout notes: 3 sport day. Felt good to run and drop the pace down a bit in the middle and then cruise in. [hr]

Tuesday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Track Workout, Data HERE: 1:03 / 8.42 miles

Workout details:
3 x 400m uphill @ 5k effort / easy jog back to the bottom
1 mile @ 15k pace
3 x 400m uphill @ 5k effort / easy jog back down
1 mile @ 10k pace

Post workout notes: (listed in data file). [hr]

Wednesday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Flanny Swim: 90mins / 4000 yds
500 wup, 4x100 on 1:40, 4x50
Big Main set - 150's on 2:20
50 FAST on 1 min
2x50 FAST on 1 min
3x50 FAST on 1 min
4x50 FAST on 1 mi
5x50 FAST on 1 min
Post workout notes: 
I made all the sets and was even finishing the last 50's on 35. Big confidence builder today

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Tempo Session Data HERE: 2hrs / 36 miles / 18.3mph

Flanny’s workout: 2 hours today with 3 x 20 minutes at your 70.3 race watts on 5 minutes easy riding between efforts.

Post workout notes: (in notes)[hr]

Thursday: 1 workout

Rudy Project / Powerbar / Herbalife Long run: 1:40 / 11.5 miles / AVG 8:42 pace 

Flanny’s Workout: z2 long run

Post workout notes: Super fun single track trail run today with 900ft of climbing and some hike sections. Really enjoyed it[hr]

Friday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 85 mins / 3800 yards

No idea what our set was, just have the time/distance haha. I know we just did a lot more 150's

Post workout notes: Just remember it was a really tough workout.

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride: 1:35 / 23 miles / AVG 14.5 mph

Flanny’s workout: Depending on the time available today I want you to get in 1.5-2 hours of Z2 riding.

Post workout notes: Swim smashed me so I did more of a recovery ride, legs felt better towards the end[hr]

Saturday: 1 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride, Power file HERE. 4:04 / 74 miles / 18.1 mph

Flanny’s workout: Within todys session I want 2 x 20 minutes at Z3 watts. Focus on IM Nutrition as discussed and report back intake and how it went.

Post workout notes: Notes attached to the power file above. [hr]

Sunday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Run- 50 mins / 6 miles/ 8:14 AVG pace. 

Flanny's workout: 50 min easier run James. Dont worry about pace.....chill run.

Post workout notes: Easter/family day. Nice and easy. [hr]

Totals (3 swims, 4 rides, 4 runs)
Swim: 11,400 yds /4:10
Bike: 147 miles / 8:38
Run: 33 miles / 4:29
Total hours: 17:17


Questions / Comments always appreciated!
For more info/pictures and James’ website visit:

Training Log (April 7-13)

Last week kicked off my "official" Ironman training for IMCDA. After a week of recovery from Oceanside I'm back into a great consistent routine and most of all, my attitude about the sport and training are at an all-time high right now. I feel like my maturity for each discipline has grown exponentially over the past few weeks. What was once a hesitancy about my chances of qualifying for Kona on my first go are now becoming a confident, "I will have a great race and qualify if can continue to stay focused, stay consistent and BELIEVE."

You always hear people say they are excited to do an Ironman. I'm excited to RACE an Ironman. The distance and idea has always intimidated me until now. Here's why I say that. I'll break down each discipline individually to give you an idea of what our plan for is in our build towards IMCDA and where I am at physically and mentally.

Swim: Flanny and I decided to actually bring my swim volume down a notch. Although this may gain some criticism - I truly believe it is the right call. I noticed I was swimming the same whether I swam 10k/week or 15k/week. Some call this "maintenance mileage" - basically I'm not getting any faster or slower. I believe with the level I am at and the experience I have, I won't really see any improvements unless I get up to the 18-20k/week range. So we brought it down to 10k/week (3 swims a week vs. 4-5 swims a week). This gives me two additional workouts a week where I can do a bike or run. HOWEVER, my workouts in the pool are a lot more focused, intense and include more paddle work to gain strength which is key in long course.

Takeaways: I've noticed more energy in my bike and run workouts leading to more quality sessions. I've also noticed that I sustain pacing deep into the latter parts of 3500/4000 yard days when normally I would fade. I contribute that to paddle work and really focusing on keeping form when fatigue sets in.

Bike: Time for volume to go up! We'll start incorporating back to back long rides on the weekends with some tempo work and recovery rides during the weekdays. My SRM Power meter has really helped take my cycling to the next level. I'm really starting to learn how to use it. Not just chasing watts but studying output when out of aero, out of the saddle, speed, wind....etc etc. There is a lot to it and it's been fun seeing speed improvements with just simple adjustments in my riding style. This really is what IMCDA all comes down to - How well I ride, and a big part of that is how smart I am and the SRM plays a huge part of that.

Takeaways: I'm closing long rides better and running off the bike even better. I'm seeing power numbers; speed, energy and recovery time all go up. I had no idea how big of a tool a Power meter could be until now.

Run: Run volume will also increase. I'm already starting to see some gains because of it. For the past 3 years in triathlon I've always kept my mileage between 15-25 miles a week which is very low but with my running background I've been able to get away with it in most cases. Well, I have no doubt that my true running ability will start to show with the higher mileage.

Takeaways: With the extra consistency and volume, I'm seeing quicker/effortless recovery runs and it's also given me the ability to work on perfecting my form and efficiency. We'll be smart about the ramp up in volume and I'm excited about the prospects of crushing that marathon at IMCDA.

Here's last week's workouts: [hr]

Monday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 75 mins / 3500 yds
700 wup
8x50 on :50
10x100 on 1:40(50ez/50 fast)
500 kick with fins
800 pull (1:30 pace)

Post workout notes: Mondays always feel like a time to shake out the cobwebs since I hadn't swam since Friday. Good workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Tempo Session: Power File HERE 1:56 / 33 miles / 17.3 mph

Flanny’s workout: We now turn our focus to Ironman. Your current speed and strength will serve you well at Wildfllower but we need to start focusing you on the full distance. This will consist of LOTS of tempo work as our quality. VO2max work is now a thing of the past and Threshold will be an ocassional treat but not used as we have been to date.

2 hours today with 3 x 20 minutes at your 70.3 race watts on 5 minutes easy riding between efforts.

Post workout notes: (listed in power file)[hr]

Tuesday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Track Workout, Data HERE: 57 mins / 7 miles / 7:47 pace

Workout details & notes: (listed in data file). Still felt a little tired from the race and being sick. Just stayed smart and cruised through the intervals.[hr]

Wednesday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Flanny Swim: 1hr / 3000 yds
400 Swim
400 Pull w/ Paddles
15 x 100 best avg you can hold on 15 sec rest
200 Kick
6 x 50 as 1 fast 1 easy on 10 sec rest
200 CD

Post workout notes: 
Held 1:30's for the 100's, felt good.

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Trainer: 1:34 / 25 miles / 16.4mph

Flanny’s workout: Simple Zone 2 ride as recovery.

Post workout notes: Just threw on some Netflix and enjoyed the recovery ride.[hr]

Thursday: 1 workout

Rudy Project / Powerbar / Herbalife Long run/ Tempo Session Data HERE
90 mins, 11.6 miles, AVG 7:44 pace 

Flanny’s Workout: 30 min of Warm Up, 45 minutes building from low Z3 to mid Z3, 15min Easy to finish it out.

Post workout notes: (listed in Data file)[hr]

Friday: 1 workout

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 75 mins / 3500 yards

500 wup, 4x100 on 1:40, 4x50 on 50
Main set (x2):
8x25 on 30
4X50 on 50
2x100 on 1:30
200 on 3:00
500 fins and paddles
300 c/d

Post workout notes: Loving the burn from the paddle work.[hr]

photo 3Saturday: 2 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride, Power file HERE. 4:37 / 71 miles / 15.4 mph / 6k+ of climbing

Flanny’s workout: Lets knock out a good Long Session today with a short run off the bike. Get in some solid climbing and make sure nutrition is a focus and reported.

Post workout notes: Notes attached to the power file above. This was a point to point ride with the infamous Palomar mountain climb right smack in the middle. The climb is 12 miles long with 4k of climbing. Fun workout!

[caption id="attachment_2782" align="alignleft" width="300"]Quick stop at the Julian Pie Company! Quick stop at the Julian Pie Company![/caption]

Rudy Project Brick Run- 25 mins / 3.4 miles/ 7:27 AVG pace. Data File HERE.

Flanny's workout: Controlled 30 min Z2

Post workout notes: (Notes listed in data file)


Sunday: 1 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride:  2:05 / 33 miles / 16 mph

Flanny’s workout: No concern for watts or speed today.

Post workout notes: Just a nice cruise through wine country. Legs felt surprisingly good and really enjoyed the ride. Threw in some sprints to open the legs up a bit too.[hr]

Totals (3 swims, 4 rides, 3 runs)
Swim: 10,000 yds /3:30
Bike: 164 miles / 10:14
Run: 22.5 miles / 2:53
Total hours: 16:37

Few more pics from the weekend!

[caption id="attachment_2787" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Grillin and Chillin! Grillin and Chillin![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2785" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rewarding beers after a great week! Rewarding beers after a great week![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2788" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Beer from my sis in law from Germany. Delicious! Beer from my sis in law from Germany. Delicious![/caption]



Training Log (Mar 31-April 6)

Post Ironman Oceanside 70.3 race week was all about celebrating with
some beers, soaking in a good result and getting ready for “official” IMCDA
training to begin. However, the beers had to wait until later that week. Last
week ended up being very Deja vu from last year's race. After swimming in the harbor last year I woke up the next day with a sinus infection. Sure enough, this year - I woke up with a nasty sinus headache. I think it's important to mark sick days in your training log so you can reference patterns that may occur over the years. Obviously there's something in that water that does not agree with me and my sinuses. The difference this year was I have a coach! Last year I took a few days off, took some meds and jumped right back into training, only to relapse three days later and ended up being out a whole week with a full blown sinus infection. After I looked at my training log and conversing with Flanny, we really ramped up slowly getting back into the swing of things last week which paid off as I only took two days off.

Either way, this is the second time in a month that I've been sick which points to a pretty weak immune system. I started taking some electrolyte tablets that have extra minerals I may be lacking (esp. Iron) in hopes that it will boost my immune system a bit. I'd be interested in any feedback any of you have besides eating healthy, getting enough sleep and washing hands often (which I do all three really well and often) on how to boost the immune system. It may just be that I'm around a lot of different environments (kids, work, friends...etc) and I train a lot so it's just part of the process. If you have any suggestions, please comment!

So last week was low key. Just recovering from the race, being sick and then slowly ramping up training the smart way:

Monday & Tuesday: Sick [hr]

Wednesday: 1 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Trainer: 1:35 / 20 miles / 12.9 mph

Flanny’s workout: Super easy z1 ride

Post workout notes: Just watched Breaking Bad on Netflix and got the legs moving.[hr]

Thursday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Recovery Run- 40 mins / 4.5 miles / 8:53 pace

Flanny’s Workout: 30-40 mins Z1 super easy

Post workout notes: Some aches and pains from not running for five days but felt fine otherwise.[hr]

Friday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 1hr/ 3k

Post workout notes: I went to Masters but just did a long warm up a few slow sets and then shut it down.

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Trainer Ride:  1:35 / 22 miles / 13.9 mph

Flanny’s workout: Another easy z1 ride

Post workout notes: Same as Wed. Just slow easy, watched some shows to get the legs moving.[hr]

Saturday: 1 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride: 2:38 / 43 miles / 16.2 mph

Flanny’s workout: Longish Ride Z2

Post workout notes: Still easing back into it. Stayed on the flats and just enjoyed the ride.[hr]

Sunday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Run- 90 mins / 11 miles / 8:40 pace

Flanny's workout: ez z2 long run

Post workout notes: First time in a long time that I enjoyed a long run. I actually posted that on Facebook and had a lot of comments that it was too short or too slow and they were right haha! It was nice to have a long run with no purpose or no goal but to just put time on your feet. The weather was perfect and the run refreshing. Just what I needed to start a new week.[hr]

Totals (1 swims, 3 rides, 2 runs)
Swim: 3,000 yds /1:00
Bike: 85 miles / 5:50
Run: 15 miles / 2:15
Total hours: 9:05

I always like to have a takeaway from the week of work. Did I get better physically and mentally? This week was all about recovering from the race so getting sick actually happened at a good time (if there's such thing). The plan was a low key week to get me ready for the "official" start of Ironman training. The plan worked and I'm really motivated right now to get knee deep into training for IMCDA. This week allowed my race accomplishment to sink in and in a way grow a love for the sport again.


Questions / Comments always appreciated!
For more info/pictures and James’ website visit:





2014 Ironman Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

It's been a crazy week on so many levels. Some personal stuff, getting sick the week before the race (see post on that HERE), and the actual race itself. Everything just happened at once but my coach gave me probably the best advice I've ever received before the race. Flanny said I'm prepared physically to have a great race but my performance will have everything to do with how I perform mentally. It actually took a lot of pressure off because I trust his judgment on my fitness and it was up to me to prove that mentally I can stay strong for 4 1/2 hours and 70.3 miles despite all the challenges against me.

[caption id="attachment_2752" align="alignright" width="300"]Armed w/the best sponsors! Armed w/the best sponsors![/caption]

Two-three days before the race is when I finally started feeling like myself again and just tried to wrap my head around giving everything I had on race day. Race check-in went smooth, The Bike Shop once again had my Slice ready to go and during my last few workouts I finally felt some pop in my legs, something I hadn't felt in a long, long time. With us living 30-40 minutes away from the race I was able to sleep in my own bed and get to the race in plenty of time to get my new 2014 Wattie Ink kit - thanks DustyKarin and Chris for all the support! Race morning I didn't have the usual pre-race anxious bathroom pit stop which told me mentally I was already heading in the right direction. I was relaxed and really ready to embrace the day. It was all about hanging out in transition with friends and then chillin with my fellow team mate Mo until my wave went off, which happened to be one of the last wave starts...

AG 35-39: 333 Athletes

IMG_79771.2 Mile Swim: 35:57 (AVG 1:51/100 pace) 84th out of the water

So a couple of things going against me here which didn't help since the swim is my weakest discipline. A lot of people make the big mistake in triathlon of judging performances by time when place is the only thing that matters. Especially since triathlon courses are rarely measured accurately or held accountable for the correct distance. For this particular race the swim course was long. To give you perspective last year 52 athletes in my AG broke 30 minutes for the swim. This year it was 11. Yes, I looked it up. This race was an important gauge of fitness for me leading into IMCDA so I needed to do my homework. I know I'm not a 36 minute swimmer and the fact that only 11 broke 30 minutes tells me this swim was 3-5 minutes slow. Distance wasn't the only thing that slowed our wave down. We had a lot of traffic to navigate, the chop picked up and we had horrible sighting issues when we made the turn back home with the sun directly in our eyes. Excuses? Nope. Again, gauging fitness accurately is important and you have to include all of the variables to make an educated guess of fitness. Just like science class! I did my best to draft, navigate traffic, kick as little as possible and keep my level of exertion as even as possible. All this said, when I exited out of the water and saw my time, my heart sunk. I couldn't believe my eyes and I really thought my chances of cracking the top 10 in a very tough and talented age group would be impossible. By the time I got through transition and onto my bike - my mind shifted to "I'm going to do whatever it takes to crack the top 10..."

[caption id="attachment_2740" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Pissed off about the swim... Pissed off about the swim...[/caption]

T1: 3:24

Long run to T1 from the boat dock, stuff my wetsuit into the bag and got outta there.

IMG_798756 mile Bike: 2:31:00 (AVG 22.3 mph) 1800ft elev. 9th fastest bike split in AG (passed 69 to move up to 15th place going into T2)
SRM Power file HERE.

For the first time ever in a triathlon I got on the bike and had some pop in my legs. I can't believe how much the SRM power meter helped me too. Our target watts was 230 (I ended up averaging 218). Since it's pretty much impossible to stay right on target watts the entire ride I tried to stick as close to 220-230 the whole time because I knew I would go over that quite a bit with the climbs. I was actually surprised my normalized power was 218 as I was afraid I was going to be more like 238! I really didn't want to ride too hard as I knew I could make up a ton of time on the run with some good legs as opposed to hitting more watts and making up just a little bit of time. My only struggle during the ride (which you can see in my power file notes) was trying to pee on the downhill's. There's about four of them on the ride and it took me until the fourth long downhill to finally go. Sorry if this grosses you out but if you want to podium in Ironman, you have to pee your pants haha. Last year I had no issues going twice but I guess I was a little shy this year and it cost me a lot of time and speed (possibly a podium) because I didn't pedal at all on all of the downhill's.

[caption id="attachment_2743" align="alignleft" width="300"]Coming into T2 Coming into T2[/caption]

Another goal on the bike this year was to close strong. In the past two years I've always struggled after making that final turn to head back to transition. It's a false flat and usually you have quite a bit of headwind and you're tired. This year I made up a lot of ground on this stretch and power numbers were strong. All of Flanny's ridiculous trainer work helped big time here and I ended up passing a lot of people along that stretch. My time goal was to break 2:30 which I may have done if I had my urine issues handled...

T2: 1:24

In and out of there. Only thing that slows me down is putting on socks for long course, which I have to until I find a shoe that doesn't tear me up for weeks after.

[caption id="attachment_2744" align="alignleft" width="300"]Love the new kits! Love the new kits![/caption]

13.1 mile Run: 1:25 (AVG 6:33 pace) 3rd fastest run split in AG (passed 7)
Run file HERE.

So they changed the run course this year. One of the cool things about the run course in the past is that it's always been 12.5 and it makes you look fast (again, times don't mean sh*t in triathlons) but this year to decrease run traffic and make it truly a half marathon they switched up the beginning of the run course. Past two years I ran 1:23, 24 and now this year 1:25. So technically this was my best half marathon off the bike ever because it was the full distance. The first mile I kind of felt like garbage but then miles 2-6 felt amazing and effortless. I just locked into a pace and it felt fairly easy. I was only taking in cola and water and I think that's where I screwed up. I hate taking in nutrition on a run, my heart rate is sky high and I hate breaking up momentum. Miles 7-10 started to hurt and then that last three miles the wheels fell off and all of my 6:2x's became 6:4x's and I just did my best to stay focused, keep my form intact and finish strong.

[caption id="attachment_2745" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Running up a wall Running up a wall[/caption]

This was a very emotional run for me. There's a lot going on in life right now and I broke down about four miles in and then again at the finish. Its weird how competing hard and giving it everything you have can make you very venerable to life's challenges. My buddy Dusty said it best. "Sometimes we race for more than just the clock."

4:37, 8th in AG, Qualified for Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mount Tremblant Canada. [hr]

Here's coach Robert "Flanny" Flanigan's coaches evaluation of my race:

Oceanside was going to be a make or break day for James. In the weeks leading up to the race he started to show uncharacteristic signs that he was cracking. After a successful training camp with him in San Diego he ran into an emotional wall that started with a unexpected result at Desert Tri and strung into a few weeks of training that was not what I have come to expect from James. We circled back and managed to get him in a better mindset after some good sessions and a fresh perspective on training. We had some great momentum rolling when he was hit with some personal challenges that would have broken most athletes. We worked together daily to make sure that his focus was in the right place (and that wasn’t necessarily training and racing). The day before the race we reviewed our race plan one last time and I stressed the importance of racing his race….no matter what.

James was in a good place mentally the night before the race and if he could pull off a good result in light of all that was happening around him, I knew he would have what it takes to see his seasonal goals become a reality.

James came out of the water slower than we expected but was able to shake off that result and get to work on the bike. He executed the ride just as planned and set himself up for a solid run performance on the now honest 13.1 Oceanside course.

The result of this race, the time, placing, and Worlds Qualification were not the standout result of this day. James showed the ability to be mentally tougher than most any athlete I have worked with and that will be the take away from this race that we build on.

I can't thank Flanny enough. He's been instrumental in keeping my head screwed on straight, getting me to perform at my best and being a great friend.

I thank my warrior of a wife for all of the support with all we've been through along with our two amazing kids. I truly couldn't do any of this without you or them!

Thanks to my amazing sponsors: Wattie InkHerbalifePowerbarBlueseventyRudy ProjectSpidertechReynoldsISMSpeedfil, and my personal sponsors SRM, OG's and The Bike Shop!


So now I have the 70.3 qualifier in my hip pocket if for some reason I don't qualify for Kona at IMCDA. I have to admit, I wasn't too optimistic about my chances at Kona until I raced Oceanside. I did my research and a lot of the competitors in front of me and behind me are really really fast. I'm unhappy with my time ONLY because it doesn't justify how good of a race I really had.

The confidence is there now, now it's just time to do the work.




Training Log (Mar 17-23)

Last week was really quite weird. After coming off my best week of training of the year I was excited to keep the momentum going as we lead into Ironman Oceanside 70.3. First half of the week went great then Wednesday I got horribly ill. I didn't mention it to anyone but my coach and of course my wife that tried to take care of me in bed. I hate it when people come up with excuses prior to a race, it's as if they have already defeated themselves. It's a sign of self-doubt. I had no intentions of bringing this up until I remembered that I have this blog to write... It really was a weird illness. I woke up with a big stomach ache which turned into sweats, chills, nausea, and was just left feeling really achy and weak. No fever, no vomiting - just HORRIBLE. I thought maybe I had food poisoning but with no fever or vomiting I am left confused and am just tacking it up as a bug that I got.

So the week was a bit of a wash when it came to training. I had to take two days off and even up till Monday I am left feeling very weak and tired. Flu season is going on in full effect out here and as much as I eat healthy, sleep 8-9 hours, wash my hands, sanitize and avoid others that are sick - it can be impossible to avoid, especially when you have two little ones running around! The good news is I have until Saturday to get well. I have a positive spin on the whole thing and look at it as forced rest and recovery which will make me even stronger once I toe the line... er buoy on Saturday.

Here's what last week looked like. I'm also going to post this week's workouts leading up to the race so you can see how we approach race week. Next week will be my Oceanside race report. [hr]

Monday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 90 mins/ 4k
500 wup, 4x100 on 1:40, 4x50 on 50
Long Main set all on 1:40b:
12x25 Sprint

Post workout notes: As always, on Mondays I'm always a little bit tired from the weekend of training and having fun with family/friends. Workout went as planned but had zero sprint in me at the end.

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds / ISM Bike Ride: 75 mins / 20 miles / 16 mph

Flanny’s workout: No concern for watts or speed today. Settle into a good groove and stay down in the aerobars.

Post workout notes: Usually on recovery days I'm around 85-90 watts, today I was pushing over 100 and felt easy. Just a good shake out ride.[hr]

Tuesday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Track workout: 1hr / 7.86 miles Workout file HERE.

Group workout:10 min wup, plyos, 800 of jogging curves, striding straights.

Main set: 3x400 @ mile pace, 2x800 @5k pace, 1 mile @10k pace, 2x800 @5k pace, 3x400 @mile pace c/d

Post Workout notes: It's been awhile since I've done any speed work or running in a group setting so this was welcomed. My legs were pretty beat up and tired to start the workout but the back half I felt a lot better and faster. Always fun to be on the track![hr]

Wednesday-Thursday - Sick.[hr]

Friday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy 3k wetsuit swim: 50 mins / 3k

Post workout notes: This time of the year is great because I have access to three pools. One community pool (where I do masters) and two HOA pools - one heated and one not heated (but still maintained). So I'm able to get in some wetsuit swims and not burn up and also get used to that freeze shock we all get when we jump into Oceanside harbor each year. One thing I'm trying to work on is proper wetsuit fit. I do my best to try and get as much slack in the shoulders but I still get that wetsuit shoulder fatigue. I also have a bad habit of kicking too much with a wetsuit on. I have no idea why, but it's something I'm trying to work on and limit myself to a 2-beat kick, just like I do in the pool so I can conserve more energy for the bike and run.

Rudy Project Recovery Run- 37 mins / 4.3 miles / 8:36 pace

Flanny’s Workout: EZ run back

Post workout notes: Back from the dead. Still feeling effects, bloated, tired...etc[hr]

Saturday: 2 workout

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds Bike Ride, Power file HERE:  2hrs / 31 miles / 15 mph

Flanny’s workout: Zone 2 w/ 30 minutes of climbing (that doesnt mean kill the climbs

Post workout notes: Felt like garbage most of the ride and got a flat for the first time in a year but things started getting better the last 30 minutes and started feeling a little bit better.

Rudy Project Brick Run: 20 mins / 2.85 miles / 7:43 pace

Flanny's workout: I want you to set up a practice transiton and quick change to the run after your ride. First mile at race pace and then shut it down.

Post workout notes: Treated this as transition practice and also experimented with eating solid food 15-20 minutes before to see how my gut would react to race pace. Hit that first mile in 6:17 and didn't feel so great. Both in my gut and in general. Still recovering from sickness.[hr]

Sunday: 1 workout

Rudy Project Long Run: 90 mins / 11 miles / 8:11 pace

Flanny’s workout:
30 minutes Warm Up
45 minutes low Z3 building to high Z3
15 minutes Cool Down

Post workout notes: This was a tough workout both mentally and physically. When you're not feeling well and you know you're fit it can be quite frustrating, especially after some time off. I'm just not quite recovered yet.[hr]

Totals (2 swims, 2 rides, 3 runs)
Swim: 7,000 yds /2:20
Bike: 51 miles / 3:20
Run: 26 miles / 3:30
Total hours: 9:10

Very light week overall. We would have approached this week a lot differently if I didn't get sick. The goal was to just get well and play each day by ear.[hr]

Race week (Mar 24-30)

Monday: 2 workouts

BlueSeventy Masters Swim: 1hr / 3200 yds.
500 wup, 4x100 @1:40, 4x50 @50
Mainset (all on 1:30b)

Post workout notes: Felt like crap the entire swim. Just worn out with a deep fatigue. Had to skip a 50 here and there, something I rarely do.

SRM / Speedfil / Reynolds / ISM Bike Ride: 80 mins / 21 miles / 15.8 mph

Flanny’s workout: Taper Ride ......Z2+ Ride for 75 min w/ 8 x 1 min Z4 on 3 min easy

Post workout notes: I went into this ride not knowing what to expect. After the first 30 seconds or so in z4, I knew it wasn't in the cards so I toned it down to z3. By the end of the ride I felt a lot better.[hr]

Tuesday: Tempo run

Flanny's workout: 10 minutes at race pace and no faster. Settle in and relax. Get 15 min of WU and then get the tempo in.....relax and run easy afterwards.[hr]

Wednesday, 2 workouts:

1hr swim:
400 choice
3X100m kick
9X100m descending 1 to 3 (3 times) on 15 sec rest
500 pull
200 cool down

1hr recovery ride:
w/ 4 x 90 sec at race pace.[hr]

30 min easy run. Super Easy Day
30 minute run w/ strides at completion.
Remember to get as much sleep as possible[hr]

30 min pre race ride and 15 min venue swim if possible.[hr]

Race Day![hr]

1 hr active recovery spin or swim.[hr]

I have high expectations for Saturday. There have been a few setbacks over the winter but for the most part I've put in some solid training and there's no doubt that Flanny has me ready to race well. My bib number is #2365, feel free to track online. If you’re out on the course look out for the best looking kits on the course – all the Wattie Ink’ers! We are rocking black and orange this year and I’m excited to race in the custom made kit made by the W factory by Wattie himself. Made in the USA!

Thanks LAVA readers for all of the email encouragement and comments I have received, it means a lot! Wish me luck. Step 1, a test, for a KQ starts Saturday!