Friday, September 30, 2011

My Path to Kona: Part 1

30 Sep 11-

As I sit here and get ready to fly out of S. Korea over to Hawaii, I wanted to take a minute and start the blogs that will lead up to the Kona Pre Race Blog.  A lot of people dream about getting to Kona and attempt year after year to get to the "Big Dance".  I wouldn't say I "dreamed" about getting to Kona, until I made it a goal of mine.  I walked into this sport a little over 3 years ago now not even knowing what an IRONMAN was or what the difference between a triathlon bike or road bike was.  I came into the sport with no knowledge of anything and looked for guidance from many people.   I couldn't tell you who Chrisse Wellington was or who Team TBB was.  I couldn't even tell you how far a marathon was, but somehow 4 months later I was running one.  I showed up to my first sprint tri and a guy showed up on a Felt DA (tri bike) with a disc wheel, deep front Zipp and an aero helmet.  Me and my buddy were laughing at this guy wondering who the heck he thought he was.  10 months later I was rooming with this said guy at China 70.3, picking his brain on everything and he has become a great mentor.  Step back and looking at myself I am a spitting image of that guy, and I am sure there whispers at the small on base tris when I show up with people saying the same thing.

The path that I took to get to Kona is unique in my opinion, as is everybody's.  Some people are realistic and know what it takes to get to Kona, they lay out a plan that will work for THEM.  Others don't have a clue what it takes and they think they "know" what they need to do.  I have seen and read about these people and they wonder why year after year they don't reach their goal of getting to Hawaii.  I by no means knew what it took to get to Kona, but I was surrounded by people that know what it takes.  I was surrounded by mentors that have led me down the path to success.   I used those resources to make sure that the goal I wanted to achieve was attainable and I laid out a plan to achieve that goal.

I am fortunate enough to be in Asia, which means IM China was not going to cost me a fortune to get to (IM China was my original plan of my first IM, until it was canceled).  I then switched it up to IM Korea.  When you have a goal that is thought to be the top of the sport, people will think you are crazy when you tell them on your first IM you are gunning for a Kona slot.  If you pick the right race, in the right location, that suits you, anything is possible.  To make things even better, the cancellation of IM China brought a total of 75 Kona slots to IM Korea,  that is a very very BIG number.  So that was step 1, choosing a race that suited me.  Why did China and/or Korea suit me?  The races are known to have small fields which mean a higher chance of qualifying.  Some may call this cherry picking but when you are aiming for a goal that has so many variables in it, you take control of the things you can control, the race selection being one of them.

The other thing that had to be done, was I needed to hire a coach.  There was no way I was going into my first IM with ambitions of qualifying for Kona and coaching myself.  I lack the knowledge and experience in the sport to coach myself, and even the best coaches still need to be coached.  I had been following Team TBB for quite sometime, well since China 70.3 in April of 2009.  There had been talk that they would be doing online coaching and it was something that I kept my eye on.  I frequented there forum regularly looking for all the "free" advice that I could and just taking it all in.  When I made the decision to do the IM and they launched there online coaching I knew that is who I was going to put my trust in.  There are a lot of people out there who go out and get a coach, just to have a coach.  They don't do their homework, they don't know the history of the people and they just assume because they are a pro they are a good coach.  Team TBB has a proven track record and I liked the coaching model that they laid out, where their online coaches had the capability to seek advice from their head coach if need be.  The only way a coach/athlete relationship works is if you fully trust your coach and don't second guess his thought process and training plan.  What is the point to pay for a coach and then not even believe in what he is providing you?

The last big thing that I did was get a powermeter.  I got a wired SRM and really started focusing on power on the bike.  It has been the second best investment I have made in triathlon other than my coach.  Training by power is a great way to measure your fitness and track your progress.  I use WKO+ and it is something that I have enjoyed studying and watching over the course of the season.

Lastly, the thing that is out of everyone's control is the athletes you are surrounded by.  I say athletes, because you can't control the caliber of people you are surrounded by in terms of athletics, but you can control the other people you surround yourself with.  Being on a military installation where a majority of the base is on a 1 year tour, it is completely out of my control.  However, I have been very fortunate to have some great people to train with.  They know who they are, they are the guys that road in the freezing cold weather or came over on Xmas and put in a 3 hour trainer ride or anyone who just put in time in the pool, on the bike or on the run with me.  If you weren't there to hold me accountable I could of just blown off the workout, or I may not of been pushed as hard.  It is because of the people in my life that have led me to where I am at today.  It is not necessarily because of all the positive people, although they have a huge effect on it, the negative people are important as well.  The people that question what you do or the goals you aim for, thinking you are just flat out crazy.  Those are the people that push you to do better and reach higher each time.

I can't thank everyone that I have been surrounded by for the past 3 years and especially those that have been around these past couple of months leading into Kona.  You have been a crucial part to my training environment and have pushed me to where I am today.  And then as always if it wasn't for the great family members that I am surrounded by that continue to support me, I would not be on this plane to the big dance.  The Love and support they have for me is incredible and I am not sure if they will ever know how appreciative I am of it, words can't describe what they have done and what they continue to do for me.

In Part 2 I plan on talking about the lifestyle I lived this past year and the financial obligation that an IM has on someone.

Not really sure what picture to put to this blog, but since it is about the Path to Kona, here is a look back from January 2010, probably around 170-175lbs........

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Camp Humphreys Sprint Tri- AF Still on Top

10 Sep 11-

Sorry this blog is so late, the Army news paper was suppose to do an article on the race but it never came about :(

Well since I have raced the Camp Humphreys race 3 times previously and was undefeated I wanted to make sure I showed up again to keep the winning streak for the Air Force.  I missed the race in June due to being home on leave, but luckily my good friend David Temple was here to keep the streak at least with the Air Force.  It is always fun to go to an Army base and take the title, so even with Kona on the horizon I asked coach to try and fit this in the schedule.  The conversation normally goes something like "Coach I want to race this weekend." Coach- "Ummmm we need a big weekend of training and that doesn't really fit" Me- "Come on coach I like racing, I will do the race and then do whatever else afterwards.".......Then I get the schedule and it has no taper into it, I don't think I have ever been able to taper for a sprint, and then on top of the race there is normally another workout in the afternoon.  So I always get a big training day in and get some good publicity for the Air Force.

We headed down to Humphreys with a big group from Osan, I think we had 15 people total.  I was glad to be going down with a big group as we always have a good time down there.  It is a well run race and they even have timing chips.  They close the roads off to traffic and the course is typically accurate to the distance advertised, which is getting hard to find these days.

Swim- It was nice to get a good feel for where my swim fitness is, and a 400 meter all out swim was a good indication.  I haven't been in the pool near as much as I should of been, but I was pleased with how the swim went.  I was first out of the water in the first wave, but we did not all start at the same time.  It was 16 people and they started down lane to lane one right after the other with about 5 seconds in between each lane.  They didn't want the timing system to get messed up. Time-5:50(1:27per/100m)

Bike- The transition was smooth from the pool to the bike and as I was headed out the second guy out of the water was just coming out of the pool.  I really just wanted to focus on my power and try and get into the 300's, since it was only 20K.  There was a weird wind and it seemed like we were always riding into it and never had a tail wind, even though it was an out and back. Lap 1 I split 15:04, with 283Watts.  Lap 2 I split 14:48, with 280Watts, ahh the numbers and how they are confusing.  And then the course was a half mile long so I had a "3rd Lap"(I had my garmin set to auto lap each 10K) of 1:24.  Time-31:18 (24.7mph/avg-281Watts,Norm Power-289)

Run- This is what I was really excited about.  I have had quite a few brick workouts this year and my legs are really starting to run well off the bike.  They come to me really quick and there isn't a lot of adjustment time like I use to have, it use to take a mile or two before the really started feeling like running legs.  The course has some small rolling hills on it but it is pretty fast in my opinion.  I hit the first mile in 5:48, then 5:57, then closed with a 5:48.  I was really happy with my run, but it was .08 short, so just under the 5K, but I guess that makes up for the "long" bike ;) Time-17:40 (5:51min/mile avg)

Overall Time-56:01/1st Place Age Group/1st Place Overall

I was really pleased with the race and how it went.  A good friend of mine Aaron tried to stack a relay team to beat me, as I was being a little cocky and told him I had never lost the overall race, even to a team.  So we made a bet of some beer and wine and he showed up with a team.  Come to find out after the race, I didn't know what there team name was till they showed me the results, it was "BEAT BRAD WILLIAMS", but somehow the results showed "BEAT READ WILLIAMS", my name gets butchered more and more, IM Korea Kona Qualifying list, IM 70.3 Germany Medical Form, who knows what it will be in Kona.  Anyways Aarons team is the closest that anyone has come to beating me and was withing 2 minutes, it was nice to drink some beers on him that Saturday night ;)

Thanks again for all the support, Kona is 13 days out and I fly out in 5, can't wait to get there and be surrounded by the worlds best triathletes!

Here are some pics from the race:
Coming out of the pool
The bike all setup in T1
The homestretch and yes I am a heel striker ;)
The Finish line, with wave starts you never know if you actually won or not.  However I was the first across the line.
The Osan Mulitsport Athletes cleaned house on awards!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

DMZ Half Marathon/1 Year in Korea

4 September 2011-

Well this weekend marked 3 days over 1 year in Korea. I actually raced this race last year, but it was on the 12th of September. With it being 6 weeks out from Kona I was looking for a half IM but there were none in Korea. So I talked it over with my coach and he thought a half marathon would be a good race. I was looking to PR for the half marathon, since I knew the course and it was flat and super fast.

I headed up to Seoul the day prior to hang out with some guys from the cycling team and attend a BBQ put on my our team owner. It was a great time to hang out and get out of Osan and away from all the military people. We hung out at the Hamilton hotel and enjoyed some pool side eye candy. It was nice to just relax talk cycling and enjoy a few beers prior to the race. After the pool we met up with Norah and Elmer and grabbed some dinner. They were kind enough to put me up for the night so that I could catch the bus up in Seoul instead of all the way down at Osan. Made the trip up to the race a bit shorter.

I had very little sleep as I stayed up late into the night BS'ing with Elmer and Norah as I hadn't seen them in awhile. Always good to catch up with fellow athletes and teammates. Luckily the 2 hour bus ride left for plenty of time to sleep. The weather was great, a little overcast and cool in the morning. The wind was blowing but was hoping it would die off.

The race started the wind stayed the clouds parted and off we went. There was a head wind/cross wind for probably the first 11K of the 21K. I made the mistake of starting the race an my Garmin was not synced up with the satelittes, so for the first 1/2 mile I had no GPS. It also threw off my mile splits for the whole race, but at least I was getting splits and was able to monitor my pace after the first half mile.

I was a little worried as a big group went out hard and I lost ground on them through the first half of the race. My pace was not where I wanted it to be, but the head wind was pretty strong so I knew that was the cause. I just focused on keeping a steady pace and once I caught the tailwind I was going to drop the pace down and hopefully make up some ground on the group that went out hard. My coach has been having me progressively run harder in some of my workouts and that is how he wanted me to race. It is hard to hold back but I am slowly learning how to let it rip the last portions of races and my legs are really learning how to go into the hurt locker.

With 12K to go Elmer came up from behind on a bike and asked how I was doing. I told him I felt good and asked if he could go up the road to find out where I was placing wise. They paid out top 10 so I was gunning to get into the money and top 10. He informed me I was in 15th at the time, so I just kept at it and slowly kept picking guys off. With a mile to go I had 2 guys in my sights and I kept pushing harder and harder trying to catch them. With 200 meters to go I had a guy with in striking distance, an older guy to say the least. I am normally pretty solid when it comes down to out kicking someone. I really let the legs go and just could not catch this guy, he literally ran away from me and I was giving it all I had. This is the hardest that I have ever ran at the end of a race and I felt like I was red lined and could of passed out at any moment. It was a crazy but amazing feeling to know that you can really push your body to the limits and I think I was on the verge of that limit.

All in all it was a great race. I missed PR'ing by 27 seconds, but the conditions were a little worse this year. I managed to take 12th place, which was 1 place better than last year. There is one thing that a lot of people don't understand, there are a lot of things in racing that you can't control. You can't control who shows up and you can't control the weather. Those 2 things can have a huge impact on every race and where you place. The one thing that YOU can control is the effort that you give prior to the race and at the race. If you give it 100% and you take dead last then you gave it your best, if you give it 100% and you win the race then you still gave it your best. Just go out there, give it 100% and whatever the outcome is that is what it is.

Time: 1:19:21
Place: 12th/1157

Thanks again for all of the support! I can't thank all of my family, friends and supporters. Also a big thanks to Elmer and Norah for giving me a place to stay the night before the race.

The Seoul Flyers Running Group! A fast group none the less!

The closing stretch!

A little post race recovery trying to get those white legs a little sun.