2011 Ironman World Championships

Thank You’s:
My wife Elee as always is number one! She sacrifices more than anyone in my triathlon endeavors and I cannot thank her enough, I love you Elee!
My Kids AJ & Brook, they inspire me to be the best that I can every day.
My family for making the trip to Hawaii again to cheer me on, it is very nice to see your faces on the course.
My Coach and friend Dave Ciaverella, the best triathlon coach on the planet, look what he has done with me! I cannot thank you enough for all you do for me.
Athlete’s Lounge for being the best triathlon store on the planet, these guys take very good care of me and I truly appreciate it. Scott, Gary & Chris thank you!
Bob, Casey, Ann, Bill, Jen, Scott, Garren, and Leanne! Thank you so much for being out there to support me! Having friendly faces out on the course is AWESOME, and gives you a kick in the ass to move on.

This year has been an exceptional year for me. I have raced only 5 times, but had some form of success in each of them.
1) California 70.3 went 4:32 on an early season base with only a month of running and 4 outdoor rides.
2) Ironman Texas- despite not being in the best shape went 9:30, good for 3rd in Male 35-39 and 6th amateur, Kona qualified.
3) Lake Stevens 70.3 this is when my fitness picked up and I knew I was making gains. Went 4:22, 15 minutes faster than the previous year, good for 3rd age group and 4th amateur, and finally ran well in a 70.3!
4) Athletes Lounge Portland Triathlon, overall win a week after Lake Stevens.
5) Well this is where I will start my race report:

2011 Ironman World Championships
Just as last year, I got to Kona 8 days before the race to help acclimate to the heat. When I got to Kona I was not nearly as excited as I was the previous year, the anxiety just was not there. Having done the race the year before, I fully knew what to expect, and I felt I was ready. I sat down with Dave the night we got in and discussed and came up with my training plan for the week, this was a pretty big confidence booster for me as a coach, as Dave listened to my input and incorporated some of my thoughts and his thoughts and came up with the race week training plan, which is something different than he or I had done before. I felt good with this knowing full well if it didn’t work, it was on me and if it worked it was all Dave.
My body during the week felt spot on, my heart rate was responding very well, and my heat acclimation training was very successful, the only thing that was bothering me was my shoulder, but I have become quite accustom to this. By Wednesday I knew that I had no reasons and no excuses not to have the best race I could have.
Race day came as always at 4 am. With relatively no nerves, I went through the normal morning race routine. We left the condo at 4:40 and drove down the road to the Pier. I dropped off my special needs bags and approached transition. Finally the nerves, the anxiety and excitement all came at once as I entered body marking. This stage is just phenomenal! It truly is the super bowl of our sport. It is THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! I went to my bike and T1 bag and dropped off my bike and run nutrition, met Dave and pumped up my tires, and made my way to the porta potty line. After seeing and chatting with some of the competitors I knew racing, I found a quiet spot and sat and thought about the race ahead. Soon the pros went off and it was time to line up. For some reason I thought the pre-swim bag drop off was on the way to the swim start so I had not dropped it yet, turns out it is completely on the other side, so I had to fight my way through the opposite side of transition to drop off my bag and then get back in the crowded line to race start, which was moving very very slowly. With 12 minutes to race start, I was still probably 25 feet from the steps down to the pier and I was seriously beginning to get irritated. When I finally made it to the steps the clock said I had 8 minutes to start time, I jumped in and swam out to the front left side of the course by the floating Ford Vehicle, just as I had last year.
I heard Mike Reily say 5 minutes guys, and like always people kept pushing forward. When the cannon went off, it was complete chaos. Last year I lined up in this same spot and had an easy swim nearly untouched. Not the case this year. Hands down the most physical swim I have ever ever been in. I was punched, kicked, scratched, pulled, pushed and maybe even bitten. I thought this would pass after a few hundred meters, but it didn’t. It was like a school of salmon swimming upstream fighting the entire way. It seemed to get worse at every buoy, I would try to go wide and surge ahead, but it seemed whenever I would, the entire group would come with me. It was frustrating but I remained calm. I did feel like we were moving pretty well, but I wonder what it would have been like to swim clean. I didn’t even start my watch for the swim, so I am not sure what my time was at the turn. The swim back started better than the swim out; there were some swells so I found a good rhythm breathing every third stroke to keep my equilibrium on track. For some reason when we approached the first red buoy it became crowded and chaotic again, and it was a fight all the way into the pier. As we made it into the pier I tried to go around and swim hard into the stairs, but I couldn’t move, I was trapped in the middle of the group and could not move right to left, it was very frustrating. When I finally touched sand I sprinted out of the water to try and break past the people with me. As I approached the bags I looked to the clock and it read 59: and change. I had hopes of going faster and truly believe I am in shape to swim faster than that, but I was cool with a sub hour swim.

In T1 I was disappointed with the volunteer help, I called for help and there was nobody there, I had to peel my own speed suit, open my own bag, dump it and sort out what was what. I threw my sunglasses and sweat band on and grabbed my bike shoes and left my stuff laying there for a volunteer to deal with, although no one ever came to me. I made my way out of T1 made the long run around the pier to my bike, and saw Ryan Barnett across the way, wished him well and took off with my bike.

As I left the transition area I heard the yells of go Aleck from my family and friends and was on my way. I was feeling really good and the first 5 minutes was a struggle to keep my power down where it was supposed to be. Ryan passed me quickly which I was expecting, then one by one 50 people must have passed me on the out and back along Kuakini Highway. It was really hard to let them go, but having gone through this last year and trusting my coach’s advice, I just stuck to my power. I knew I would get them back, and if not they are simply faster than me, which was likely the case here! Back into town I saw my family again just before I turned up Palani, at which point I saw my friends holding Pancakes on their faces! This made me laugh pretty hard, it made the climb up a bit easier as 10 people sprinted up by me, of which 8 of them I passed back within 200 yards on the Queen K.

The ride out to Kawaihae was pretty fast, with little wind taking us out, however this is when I made the first decision to take the easy way out on the bike. I convinced myself that since the pace was pretty fast, I should go ahead and back off about 5 watts from plan and pick up about 10-15 watts the last hour and a half. I locked in on my power and played cat and mouse games with all the people that don’t have power. They would fly past me up hills, and then I would pass going down or on flat sections. Things were going pretty well for me, nutrition and hydration was solid every 20 minutes and I had peed twice before making the left turn to the climb up to Hawi.
About 5 miles after the turn up to Hawi the headwinds came and I knew this was going to be a difficult time in the race to stick to the plan. This portion of the race is primarily uphill and with a head wind I knew it was important to stick to my watts and stay aero. I also knew that I would get passed here by a whole lot of people hammering to the turn. Sure enough Ben Greenfield came by, and then Mitch Gold and Michael Montgomery, then a drafting pack of at least 50 dudes. I stuck to my plan and did my grinding up the hill into the wind. I approached the turnaround and saw my friend Bob and his wife Casey cheering for me!

After the turnaround is special needs, I began shouting my number 100 yards from the start of special needs, many people repeated my number to let the others know I was coming but nobody held my bag out for me. I got to the end of special needs and no bag, the guy at the end yelled back “1240!??” and about 25 feet back finally someone poked out with my bag. I left my bike with the guy and ran back to get my bag grabbed my bottles and took off. From here it’s a good downhill with a head wind. I stuck in my aero bars and went for it, spinning out my 54-11 and hitting mid 40 mph. Good opportunity to give the legs some rest breaks. This part of the bike is the part that scared the crap out of me last year with heavy gusts of crosswind nearly knocking me off my bike several times. This year the crosswinds were few and far between, and I just kept an eye on the riders out in front of me and when the shifted to the right I dug in and waited for the blast. At about mile 85 I started to do some math. I was on pace to bike in the 4:50’s, easily under 5 hours, because I was going to be picking up the pace the last hour.

Mile 90, things changed. Not only is this part of the ride uphill, but we were riding into a direct head wind. I increased the power, but was averaging a mere 16 mph. I was gaining on many people that had passed me earlier on the bike and I probably passed 30 guys in this stretch which is the only thing that kept my attitude from going south. At the crest of every hill, I would look out in hopes to see the airport in the distance. It seemed like forever, but finally the airport was there and then it seemed like forever to get to it. Finally! 8 miles to go, and mostly downhill. I tried to keep the power up on the final 8 miles but my legs were feeling tired. The final mile I sat up and stretched out my back and my legs the best I could and came into transition in 5:04! Pretty happy with that, I knew it was a faster bike day, but I went 5:16 last year, so an 11 minute improvement I would take.
T2 was fine, my legs were a bit stiff running around the pier, but was sure that would shake out. This time a volunteer took my bag and dumped it out for me, I wiped my feet threw on my socks and shoes grabbed my visor and was out.

I felt great starting the run, but the adrenaline that this place produces causes a bit of misconception. I felt good as I passed my family and then my friends that were here. Dave yelled at me to be patient and strong. Once I got out passed the 1st mile on Alii I began to feel pretty crappy. I thought for sure this would be a long long run. For 2 miles I was feeling pretty low thinking there is no way I was running a sub 3:30 today. I started doing the math on what I would have to do to equal my time from last year. I nearly convinced myself to drop the pace to 8 minute miles and just hold on as long as I could. I compromised at 7:45 pace. This felt doable, but people were flying by me. At about mile 5 I heard a yell from up in a balcony above. “Go Aleck! Looking Strong!” It was a local Summit athlete and friend Josh Monda. He sparked something in me and I picked up the pace a bit without even realizing it. At the turn around point on Alii I was feeling pretty good again and looked at my pace, 7:20. Hmmm, Maybe I can do this. About 2 minutes later Chris Ramsey came at me the other direction. I knew he was coming for me. I was running pretty consistent 7:25-7:30 pace so I decided I was just going to try and hold this pace as long as I could. It was HOT so I used every aid station to poor ice down my shirt, and dump cold water on my head and drink water. I was still feeling really good as I came back into town and passed my wife and family again. Then the turn up Palani I shortened my stride and backed off to 10 minute mile pace up the steep hill. Dave yelled to me, “Watch the heart rate, hold your pace and go for it at mile 16” Up on the queen k I settled into a steady 7:15-20pace backing off to 8 pace up hills.

I started to pass many people and had found a good place in my head. At about mile 14 I passed female pro Tyler Stewart and she told me “great job, strong pace”, I said,” thanks, but I didn’t remember it being all uphill to the energy lab.” She laughed and said “yeah and after the turn around its all uphill back to the finish! “ Seriously I was getting very irritated at the fact that the up hills kept coming. (It’s really weird what things will piss you off in the marathon in an Ironman). Finally the turn to the energy lab, yes I was excited to get into the energy lab, it was downhill for about a mile and a head wind that while hot, cooled down my wet body. I passed a few more people on the way to the turn around and was feeling pretty good. Then the dreaded turn back up out of the energy lab. With the wind at your back it feels like you are running in an oven. Fortunately a cloud cover started rolling in on the way out, but I was still struggling. I looked at my pace and was running 8:45 pace and my heart rate for the first time in the run was jumping into the 160’s. To my surprise I passed 3 more guys at this pace, and started seeing a lot of the competitors I knew coming the other direction. As I went through the Motivational Mile I saw right under my name was Adam Zucco’s name. Adam is arguably the fastest American in my age group and has had a dominating year. Clearly he was not having a great race for his standards, but the fact that I was ahead of him at that point was uplifting. As I left the energy lab it was mile 18, 10k to go, which meant it is time to kick it in. I picked up the pace and ran2 miles at 6:45 pace, then came to a hill and made the mistake of trying to hold my pace. Uh oh I started to fade, tried to hold 8 pace and struggled. Two guys in my age group came passed me and I wanted to just let them go, but I knew I could go as hard as I could the last 5k, I just kept repeating to myself 4 miles, 30 minutes to go; 4 miles, 30 minutes to go. When we finally crested that hill I went for it again. I passed both those guys back and attempted to put the hammer down as I crossed the 23 mile mark,” I can do anything for 20 minutes” I told myself. I was certainly hurting at this point, then one more hill (Think Mark & Dave)! I eased up at the aid station to dump water and ice on me one last time and take one more drink of water. After you get to the top of this hill it is all downhill to finish line, I looked at my watch and did the math, if I run sub 7 in I will run a 3:15 marathon! I went for it down Palani, knowing at this point last year my body went numb with the excitement and anticipation of finishing this coveted race. Down Palani the tingling sensation came on my legs and goose bumps covered my body, I looked at my watch and was running 6 minute pace! I had no idea what the overall time was looking at but a 3:15 marathon was for certain! Then the long flat section before you drop down to Alii sucked all the glycogen I had left out of my muscles, I was pushing as hard as I could go and barely holding on to 8 minute pace. I really really wanted to stop, I had not hurt this bad in the last mile before. I made the turn onto Alii drive, and just held on to what I could give. I saw my family and pointed towards them maybe even given a smile? As I entered the finishing shoot there was a guy right in front of me, I turned and look behind me and there was no one close, so I backed off and let the guy in front of me have his own finish, and I would have my own finish. As I came to the ramp and could make out the time on the clock, I was elated to se 9:26!

I had some really nice volunteers catch me, and for the first time in an Ironman, I just collapsed into their arms, I was dizzy, nauseous and just couldn’t put many thoughts together. I went to the med tent for a while and got some fluids and nutrition in me and started feeling normal again. I found my wife and gave her a big hug!
I am very very happy with this race! Of course in hind sight I can find ways I could have raced better and faster, but in the end I truly left every single part of my soul on that course. I was faster in all 3 sports than I was last year; I ran a PR marathon of 3:16, and an overall Ironman PR of 9:26!



Thank you Elee, my wonderful wife for tolerating all my training hours and weekends alone with the kids to allow me to chase this ridiculous dream I have!  I love you!  Special thanks to my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law for taking care of me and my faimily on race week!  You like always were wonderful gracious hosts and your support is amazing.  Thank you also to Elee’s Uncle Sam for making the trip up from Austin to see us and watch me compete, it is really nice to have the support of family on an Ironman course especially so far from home!  Also to Elee’s cousins for being out there in support.

Ironman Texas was a huge success for me.   I achieved my best finish in an Ironman event and attained my goals of reaching the podium and qualifying for another Ironman World Championships.  I finished the race 6th overall amateur,  25th overall male and 3rd in my age group (35-39).

This was the inaugural running of this race, and let me say it is not “fast and easy”.  The course offers quite a bit of challenge (and we had favorable conditions opposed to what we could have had).  The swim is not wetsuit legal, the bike is one loop and has, according to my Garmin, over 2200 feet of climbing and constant 10-30 mph wind with plenty of technical turns, The run is flat out hot, it is a 3 loop course that has one mile of shade per lap, so yes three miles of shade and 23.1 miles of sun, with quite a few turns.  Oh and did I mention the high humidity?

This season started a little slower than planned for an early season race with work and an achilies injury that delayed running 6 weeks.  My shoulder had been quite tolerable with no new pain, and my swimming has been getting back on track. A solid effort at California 70.3 in April was a big confidence and fitness boost for me, and with my biggest training block ever 4 weeks out, I knew I could perform well in Texas if I could tolerate the high heat and humidity.   All my workouts up to the 7 day taper felt spot on and I knew I could perform well in Texas if I could tolerate the high heat and humidity, and with my coaches heat acclimation regiment I was quite sure it would not be an issue to be able to tolerate it.

The week of the race my legs felt a bit flat but my pacing, watts, and HR were all on target so this was quite normal and I was not too concerned.

Race morning came and I was sure that I would have a solid day.  Once again I had the privilege to race with my coach and training partner Dave Ciaverella.  We went through the typical morning race prep routine and made our way to the swim start, wished each other well and found I respective starting positions.

The swim course is a bit different, it is in a lake, but you go out (buoys to the left) a bit over a mile, come back a little less than a mile then turn right up a very narrow channel (seriously like 12 feet wide and 3.5 feet deep) As I mentioned early this was not a wetsuit swim. I decided to start a farther to the right of the buoys assuming that all the other fast swimmers would be on the left to the middle.  This proved to be the right move, maybe I swam a bit farther, but I had absolutely zero contact with anyone.  It was the cleanest Ironman swim start I had ever had.  I usually have to put out a good sprint effort in an Ironman to establish a position before settling into a rhythm.  On this day I was able to immediately just cruise and focus on long strong strokes, without the initial spike in heart rate and elbows and feet to the face.  I met up with a group of 4 dudes about 800 meters in and worked with them to the first turn buoy.  On the way back they stuck to the buoy line, but I swam closer to the shore line because we were going to be making a right turn so I figured it was the shortest route.  I did have one other guy come with me and I pulled him in the rest of the swim.  When we entered the canal and although there were only about 25 other age groupers in front of me it really made the water choppy, I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the middle of the swim pack.  My watch said 58 when I got out of the water, so I was pretty stoked.  My official swim time was 59.  I am pretty happy with that, it’s probably my best swim in an Ironman being as it was without a wetsuit.

Transition 1 was fine, no issues, not fast but not slow; 2:36.

Off on the bike I was feeling good.  After my first drink of nutrition though my stomach starting to turn a bit, but settled.  Next drink my stomach turned a bit again, so I extended my drink periods by a couple minutes for the rest of the ride and it seemed to clear that up.  My goal for the bike was to ride at 220 watts.  I was going to go out at 215 for the first 50 miles, then 35 miles  at 220 then 225-230 the remaining 27 miles.  I stuck with this plan to about mile 60-65.  At that point my right groin began to twitch.  “OH PLEASE DON’T LET THIS BE HAPPENING!”  Too late it happened, my groin cramped bad, so I stood up on the pedals and tried to stretch it out.  I started to feel good again so pushed the watts back up to 220 and passed the female pro that passed me while I was stretching,  about 3 minutes later my left groin began twitching… “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”   I stood up on the pedals to stretch right as the cramp came on.   “OK, why is this happening?”  I was drinking my nutrition with sodium every 23 minutes and drinking an additional 20 ounces of water every hour and I had peed 3 times already so I did not think hydration was the issue, but it must have been.  I increased my water intake to 20 ounces gone before every aid station.  This didn’t really seem to help , I just simply could not push more than 205 watts for more than a couple minutes without one of my groins seizing up.  I decided to do 2 minute intervals at 230 watts with 3 minutes at 205 watts.  This worked for about 15 minutes then my left calf started to cramp on an interval.  I changed it up again and did 220 for two and 205 for 5.  I may have gotten 2 of these in but my legs just constantly felt they were on the verge of cramping, so I rode at 205 watts or under until the final stretch into transition.  I just soooooo wanted to get off that bike, but was terrified of what might happen that first step off the bike.    I had passed a 3 or 4 guys in my age group and a few others out of my age group, but had also been passed by 4 guys, 3 of them in my age group so I really was not sure where I sat coming off the bike.  My goal time was in the 4:50’s and I came in at 4:57 so since I rode 15 watts under my goal power I was pretty happy with my bike split.

The 3rd guy that passed me in my age group had passed me right before transition, and I heard him complaining as we were running into transition that he had gotten a flat early on the bike. Right after that I heard Dave, my coach yell from behind that he was right there, I was pretty stoked to turn around and see him, knowing that I would have a running partner to keep me focused!  I left transition on the heels of the dude that had passed me in my age group, I still was unsure where I sat, but this guys was a big dude and dressed like Torbjørn Sindballe, in all white body cooling gear, so had a good hunch he may struggle in the heat especially if he tried to make up time after getting a flat.  Dave caught me within 200 yards of transition, and quickly put me in check, and we slowed down to 7:40 pace, the guy in front of me was running at 6:30 pace and I was certain he couldn’t hold it.  Shortly  after that a guy in Dave’s age group passed us running 7 minute pace, but we remained patient and held 7:40-7:45 pace.  Ann (Dave’s wife) rode up on us and informed us that I was running in 4th, and Dave was running in 2nd.  The first 8 miles we kept each other in check, each of us felt the urge I think to try and keep our competition close, but each of us also knew that we needed to stick to our plan and  those guys would come back to us.  It was AWESOME running with Dave, the crowd support was amazing, the crowd and the other athletes were very supportive of our team effort and it just made the time go by so much faster.  After the first loop (about 8.5 miles) I made the comment that maybe that dude could hold the pace he was running, Dave said,  “no way its only 8 miles in man, you have to be patient, there are not many people who can run sub 3:05 pace for an Ironman and I guarantee these guys are not one of them”,  literally within a mile we blew right by the m45 leader, and 2 miles later we blew by the  4th place guy in my age group.  Dave simply said “see dude.”

At this point I was also starting to struggle, this run course was hot!  There was maybe one mile of shade per loop and 7 miles of sun.  I was doing everything I could to keep cool.   I had to let Dave go, my stomach was churning and my legs felt like they were going to cramp with every step.  I had a feeling of failure run through my mind, but quickly snapped out of it as I reminded myself that Dave is a former sub 2:30 marathon runner, I am a former 250 pound couch potato, my spirits were then lifted again as Ann informed me that I was running faster than everyone behind me in my age group.  Hearing this news was good and bad as my natural reaction was too ease up, but I fought the urge and kept on at 8 minute pace.    At mile 18 I could see Dave again up in the distance, and at Mile 19 I passed him while he was stopped tying his shoes, I yelled to him I am right here, he said something I think but I could tell  he was hurting.  Its funny how in an Ironman you look for reasons to take it easy,  I so bad tried to convince myself to wait for Dave, but knew that he would be pissed at me if I did.  I kept pressing on but my pace had slowed to 8:10’s even on the downhill shaded portion of the run loop.  At mile 22 I heard Dave’s voice again “ I’m right here Aleck all we have to do is run under 8 minute pace and we will go sub 9:30”  I replied with, “ I don’t think I can man”.  He said It’s ok just keep going only 30 more minutes.  I watched him disappear again, as my hamstrings literally felt like they were going to seize at any second.  I felt like I was pushing hard, if I didn’t have a Garmin I would have said I was running 6:30- 7 minute pace, but in reality I was struggling to hold 8 minute pace.  At mile 24 I saw Ann again and I think she played a trick on me telling me I was 4th, and 3rd was right in front of and I would have to dig deep, but the next guys is 6 minutes back.  I was too hot, too tired and too depleted to logically think that there is no way that this is correct since I was off the bike in 4th and I passed a M35-39 and nobody else has passed me at all, so I dug deep, I put my heart rate into zone 5 the final mile and a half to muster up a 7 minute pace final stretch.  The crowd here was great, I really like the downtown finishes.  I gave a few high 5’s as I came in to hear Mike Riley talking about how my greatest athletic accomplishment was peeing my pants on 2nd base when I was 6 years old in little league.  It turns out they really do pay attention to the answers you put in on the active.com registration, and no I am not really an airline pilot!  Final time 9:30.

I am very excited about this race result.  I know that I am not at the top of my fitness, I know that I did 90% of my rides on the computrainer, I know I struggled in this race and I came from the Portland Oregon 50 degree weather and out performed 99 % of the people in a 2600 person field in the 90 degree heat of Texas.  I again stuck to my plan and prevailed.

2010 Ironman World Championships Race Report

WOW.  Just plain WOW.  What an unbelievable experience this has been.  Not just having the opportunity to race in this amazing event, but the entire journey that began in 2006 while surfing you tube videos about triathlon.    I had just completed my first sprint triathlon and had the bug.  I searched “triathlon” on youtube.com and found a promotional video for the 25th anniversary of the Ironman World Championships ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W_WTFASVCU ) , it was that point that I set my goal to one day race this race.

I did some research about the race and found out you either have to qualify, or get a lottery spot.  I was certain that the only shot I had would be the lottery so that would be the plan as I was sure that qualifying was not possible .  The following weekend I ran into a college buddy, Garren Watkins, at a Beaver football game and he had recently finished Ironman Canada.  I spent like two hours talking to him about triathlon soaking it all in.  I mentioned the lottery for Kona and he scoffed, he told me the only way he would ever race Kona was by qualification, so there it was, I was going to have to qualify.

Long story short, I worked my ass off over the next year with a great coach in Scott McMillan and put myself in a place that I truly believed that I could qualify.  I Raced Ironman Arizona in November 2008 and finished in a respectable first Ironman time in under ten hours, but was a long way off from a qualifying spot.   I put my nose to the grindstone again, and decided to get on board with Coach and Friend Dave Ciaverella.   I raced a great race at Ironman CDA in June of 2009 but came up 39 seconds short of a Kona qualifying spot.  This was a humbling experience for me, and I decided to jump in on a community fund spot to Ironman Arizona in November of the same year.  Dave gave it to me pretty bluntly that IMAZ would be an even tougher race to get a spot at, as it was a faster race and not only draws more competitors but faster competitors.   For me to get my spot at IMAZ, I would have to focus more than I had, make bigger sacrifices than I had, and dig deeper than I ever had.  I went all in, and claimed my spot with a 24 minute race PR.

Qualifying 11 months in advance was a refreshing feeling; going into the off season with the monkey off my back was awesome.  However only 3 weeks after the race I slipped in my kitchen playing with my son and tore my MCL in my right knee.  Luckily no surgery was required, I took 8 weeks completely off and eased back into training, the knee seemed to be fine. In March I started getting back into training and noticed my shoulder was really given me some trouble in the water and on the bike. I took a few weeks out of the water.  When I got back in I had an unfortunate setback jamming my arm into another swimmer in the pool.  I was unable to swim and took some more time off.  In mid April I was still unable to swim and went in for an MRI and found that I had a couple tears in the labrum and an abraded subscapularis. Surgery was not an option, as the recovery time would surely put me out of racing at Hawaii.  I went on a rehab plan and religiously did my exercises and stretching, and by mid July was able to get back in the water and swim somewhat pain free.  At that point my outlook for the race was to enjoy the experience and just get through the race.  As the year progressed my training came along well and my outlook on the race changed and I began to set some goals for the race.  By September I was running well, my bike was strong and my swim was not too far off from where it should be.  I was very very fortunate to do 90% of my training with my coach Dave and his wife Ann who were also racing Kona and are tremendous athletes.  Dave went over this race with me at least 100 times throughout the month of September and by the time I got there, I really felt like I knew the course and had a solid plan in place.

My family and I flew into Kona 8 days prior to the race to acclimate to the conditions and get in before much of the hub bub of the race began.  When we stepped off the air plane; my first thought was “I have to run a marathon in this heat”?  The week prior consisted of the usual pre race tune-ups, registering for the race and getting the last minute details completed.  It was so surreal to be on the big island preparing to race in the Ironman World Championships!  Everyone there had the body of a Greek God.  The amount of people out swimming, riding and running the week before the race was nothing like any race I had ever traveled to.  The energy was electric and the atmosphere was incredible.  It was just incredible.

My race plan was pretty simple, stay conservative for 130 miles and race the last 10.  I was very well prepared to race this race, I had done all the right things to prepare for the heat, and all I had to do was execute my plan.

Wake up came at 3:50 am, I ate my bowl of oatmeal and yogurt grabbed all my gear and headed out to meet Dave, Ann and Bill and drove into town.  As we walked into body marking I had goose bumps on my goose bumps.  This was it; this was exactly as was on TV.  “This is really happening; I am about to race against 1800 of the World’s best athletes on the sports center stage. “  After that, it was business as usual, and I was relaxed as I ever have been.  I checked in my bags, put my nutrition on my bike, calibrated my SRM, checked the tires, and took care of the rest of the business I needed to take care of.   I found my teammates and sat and relaxed until the cannon went off at 6:30 for the pros and put on my new TYR Torque Pro skin suit and got in the crowded line to the swim start.  I could really only shake my head in awe of what was unfolding in front of me just so surreal.

As we were heading down the ramp to the water I heard Ann say “only my husband…”  Dave had forgotten to take his Iphone out of his jersey pocket and had put on his skin suit over it.  He had to run back and get into his transition bag and ditch it there.  This kind of cleared my head a bit and reminded me of how important it is to be able to take things in stride and deal with adversity as it comes, because I was sure to face adversity at some point in this race.  I was amazed with how cool he remained and how calmly he went back to the transition area.

I swam out to the left side with Ann and lined up in the front just to the right of the floating Ford truck.  This was a mess; feet, knees, elbows hands kicking, clawing and pulling from every direction for about 10 minutes waiting for that cannon to go off.  I heard mike Riley say his usual stuff and then he mumbled have a great day, there is no count down for the cannon in an Ironman, but I knew when he said have a great day out there that it was time, I clicked my watch and took off and about the time I made my first stroke I heard the cannon, it gave me a jump I needed to separate from those around me.  I had a clean break and while it was a choppy mess for the first 400 meters or so, I swam pretty cleanly.  I stayed left and just kept in cruise mode, focusing on long clean strokes with strong pulls.  Before I knew it we were at the turn around.  The swim back was a bit tougher.  There were a couple points that I would be swimming completely alone and then hit a wall of people and swim in place over the same coral for what felt like 5 minutes.   I just kept thinking about my stroke and form and kept a steady relaxed pace.   I made a bit of a surge the last 800 meters to try and separate from the pack I was swimming with and did without a problem and felt good doing it.  I looked down at my watch when I got out, but it had somehow got turned off in the swim.  I felt like I had a decent swim and my shoulder felt pretty good so I was happy but probably could have pushed it a little harder.  I went through transition with no hiccups made my way around the pier, grabbed my bike and headed out.  The clock read 1:04 so I figured I had swum an hour which was my goal time so I was ultimately happy with my swim. My actual time was 1:01 so I am OK with this.

Out on the bike, Dave’s words kept going through my head, “you will have many people, even 50 year old women sprinting past you the first 10 miles of the bike, stick to your watts and you will see most of them again”.  He was right, people started flying by me.  I was being passed probably 20 times to every one person I passed the first 10 miles, this was discouraging, and it was very hard to keep in control, especially with all the people lining the streets cheering you on.  I knew though that I had to stay within my watt range or I would pay later.  My biggest fear in this race was to end up walking at the end of my marathon.  I was not willing to make a mistake that would leave me finishing this race disappointed.   We knew I could ride 220 watts and be able to run a 3:30 marathon, so I kept my power locked right at 220, for the first 15 miles.  Out on the Queen K the heat was picking up and the winds started to blow.  I was so set on the conservative plan that I decided to back off my watts to 215 because I was afraid my legs might have been feeling a bit of fatigue early.  As we turned left to Hawi, the winds really began to blow.  It was primarily a head wind with 40 mph crosswind gusts.  This was the most miserable part of the day.  I had been told about the winds and the heat, and had even spent a few days riding in it, but still was shocked at how hard this bike ride was becoming.  I was having a hard time staying in the aero position with the gusts and my shoulder was really beginning to ache. I began to curse this race.  This was not fun.  When I saw the pros coming down from Hawi and most of them were out of the aero position, it made me feel a little better.    After the turn around and special needs we had a nice tail wind down the hill for a few miles.  My attitude changed to the positive again, and I started having fun again.  Then the cross winds came again, but this time I just laughed, this was absolutely ridiculous, but I was actually glad that I was able to experience the “trade winds”.  I figured out that if I just watched the people about 25 meters in front of me, I would see them being blown around and know to hold on and lean into the gust.  At about the 80 mile mark the cross winds went away and the winds turned into a mild head wind.  I just kept my watts around 215, stuck to my nutrition and hydration plan, and continued to dump water on my body at every aid station.  At mile 100 I was ready to be off the bike, and the last 12 miles seemed like an eternity,  aside from my shoulder aching  I was feeling good and in good spirits.  Before I turned off the queen K I remembered to turn my watch back on and reset it to run mode, so I would be able to pace my run properly.  As I approached transition I heard my family yelling and cheering for me and I was excited to get on the run so I could see them.  I did not look down to see my bike time and forgot to look up at the race clock.  The last time I looked at my time was 100 miles into the bike, so  I estimated I rode about 5:20-5:25, and my goal was to ride 5:15, but I knew the winds could be a factor and the most important thing was to stick to my watts, and I did so I was happy.  My actual bike time was 5:16!

The first step after dismounting my bike was a shock to the system, but as I ran around the pier my legs loosened up and it felt good to run rather than pedal.  The inside of my arms felt like they were chafing so I grabbed a bunch of Vaseline in transition and lathered my arms and side.  I also changed socks in transition, and it felt sooo good to put a new pair of dry Newton socks on!  My T2 time was slower than I thought it should have been, but I figure it was these two things that made it so.

As I left transition, my legs were feeling great, I honesty could not believe how good they felt.  I saw my sister Stacie right out of transition and I think I gave her a high five… Right after I ran up the hill to turn right, my wife Elee and son AJ were there with my other sister Deanna.  I stopped and gave my wife and son a hug and kiss, and gave Deanna a high five and went on my way.  My plan for the run was to hold  7:49 pace for the first 16 miles see how I felt in the energy lab and let it rip.  Again, I knew people were going to be passing me and I had to stay controlled no matter how good I felt.  Dave told me that if I stayed to the plan and was able to run 7:30 pace or faster the final 8 miles I would literally pass 100 people in the final 8 miles.  I just kept telling myself as people passed that I would see them again in the final stretch.  I stuck to the plan exactly.  I would run 7:35 pace on downhill stretches,  7:45 pace on flats and 8:15-8:20 up hills, and averaged 7:46 for the first 16 miles.

The beginning of the run was HOT, but by the turn around on Alii a slight cloud cover started to come in as it had all week, this cooled it down a bit, but believe me it was still HOT.  I kept to my nutrition/hydration plan and dumped as much water and Ice on my head, down my shirt and down my pants as I could at every aid station to keep my core temp in check.  My Heart rate never left zone 2, and as I turned into the energy lab I started to pass people that I recognized had passed me at the beginning of the run.  There was a head wind as we ran in to the energy lab that made the heat seem tolerable, but when we turned around and the wind was at our backs, it was like I stepped into the sauna.  On my way out of the lab I saw Dave on the other side, he yelled that I was looking great, and on the final stretch and to let the hammer down.  OK I thought, this is it!  I was still feeling really good, HR still in zone 2 and running with my mouth closed.  I picked up the pace to what I thought was good final 10k pace.  I continued to feel good and hold the pace until mile 23 at which point I figured I could take it to another level.  I could certainly handle a faster pace for 5k, but forgot about “Mark and Dave Hill” at mile 24.  This was somewhat demoralizing; it is unreal how large this hill feels at mile 24 of an Ironman.  This is the first point of the race I felt pain.  Although my heart was telling me to dig and push through, I chose the easy route and backed off, telling myself that I would just push extra hard after this hill.  I don’t really recall too much of the details after I made the right hand turn onto Palini, that quad busting feeling of that downhill was painful, but it felt good.  I remember doing the math and realized that, while I had zero idea what the time on the race clock was, I had a shot to run under 3:20 if I could push the last mile.  The next thing I can remember is turning right on Alii, and the crowd!  I remember thinking I should be smiling ear to ear, but I am not sure if I could. Jason Lester met me in the middle of the road and told me “this is it bro”, and placed a Leigh over  my head.  Then I saw Marc (one of my best friends who made the trip to support me!) and his wife Casey I gave him a high five , then heard my dad yelling, saw my sisters and their families, gave a smile and pushed on the last few hundred meters.  I remember thinking to myself “why do they put a ramp at the finish line to climb up?”  and told myself not to fall as I was clapping and fist pumping into the finish.  Volunteers instantly tried to take me away, I pulled away to look for my wife and kids, Matt Lieto was in the finish shoot and I chatted with him for a bit, he told me great job and asked how I felt, I realized that I did not even know what my time was, I looked back at the race clock and it said 9:48 so I assumed that I had gone somewhere around 9:46.  I looked at my watch for my run time and it read 3:20!!  Wow!  I found Elee and my kids and cried a bit on her shoulder and gave them all big hugs, there is nothing like  seeing the people that you love the most in this world at the finish of an accomplishment like this!

My actual finish time was 9:45.46 putting me 55th in my AG, and 271st I think overall.  I am extremely happy with my race, and especially my run.  I ran my race exactly to the plan that my coach and I came up with.  Like I said earlier, I came into the race 100% prepared and executed a perfect race plan for that day and my first time there. I  would not change anything in my race.  Like always I learned a lot on the day, and feel that I can go faster on that course, but first I have to get back….

So, many people to thank, number one as always is my wife Elee!  She is the one who does the hard work of taking care of my family when I am out training; she is the one who truly sacrifices for me to chase my silly dreams.  Without her I could not be the person I am.

My two kids AJ and Brook, I just hope that I am being a good role model for you two; you two are the driving force in everything I do.  I am so proud to be your Daddy!

Dave Ciaverella man I cannot thank you enough, and you know that.  You are possibly one of the most selfless people I know.  You go way above and beyond for me, and am so so honored that you coach me.  You truly are one of the best in the business, and there is no doubt about that.

My mother and Step Dad, for whom I work for, thank you for allowing me to do what I do.  I cannot express enough how much your support means to me.

My dad, sisters, brother in law, nieces and nephew who made the trip to Kona to cheer me on, it was awesome having you out there supporting me!  I love you all and am lucky to have each of you in my family.

Bob and Casey, thank you so much for making the trek to support me!  It was awesome seeing you guys all around the course, and am glad we got to spend some time together on the island!

Ironheads it’s a privilege to be able to race and train with such a high level team.   8 of us there at Kona racing!!  Ann, Bill, Darren, Bonnie, Tim, Julie and of course Dave, great work out there!

Ironman Arizona 2009 Race Report

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. – Pablo Picasso

I started the sport of triathlon in 2007 with a lot of goals, but the ultimate of which was to qualify for and race the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2009.  I gave my self really only two attempts at achieving this goal, Ironman Arizona (IMAZ) in November of 2008, and Ironman Coeur de lane (IMCDA) in June of 2009.  I failed to achieve my goal.  After IMCDA I was pretty bummed and quickly set out to seek revenge. I signed up for IMAZ 2009 via community fund to try one more time to qualify for Kona 2010.  Luckily I have a World Class coach that new how to deal with my hastiness.  He would not agree to coach me through to IMAZ unless I agreed to take an entire month off and ease back into a build to IMAZ allowing me to recover properly and actually use the fitness that was gained racing CDA.  I agreed, and as I started my build I came across the above quote and I really thought about it.  Yes, I have always had a plan, and yes I have always believed in it, but did I really put everything into the plan?  Was there more that I could?  Was I making all the sacrifices that I could?  The answer was no.  So with 8 weeks out from IMAZ I decided to fully dedicate myself to my plan; making several changes to my diet, sleep and lifestyle and to put full focus on my biggest weakness, the run.

Race week was much different for me this go around.  I spent the week with my coach and his wife which was awesome, but did not have my family with me which SUCKED!!  Dave and Ann made my week very smooth and did everything they could to help me prepare for the race, and having Dave with me to make sure I was doing everything right was invaluable,  but not having Elee and my kids there was really tough.

The night before the race while we were preparing my race nutrition bottles I came to the sinking realization that I did not bring enough malto!  I was a full bottle and a half short for the bike.  Dave made a call to Scott Benjamin who saved my ass!  He had extra and would bring it to transition in the morning.

Race morning came with a wake up from Varney at 4:02, 13 minutes before my alarm was to go off.  I drank a bottle of carbs, Dave made me a cup of oatmeal which I downed in the car on the way.  We got  to the race site about 5:30 and I jumped in line at a port-a-john and took care of business. I found Scott, got the extra malto and made my way to find Dave. He mixed my nutrition for me as I lathered up with body glide.  It was now about 6:00 am and I realized I still had a lot to do.  I still had to put nutrition on my bike, put nutrition in my run bag, drop off my special needs bags and get body marked.  As I set out in a hurry I literally ran into Macca and he gave me a “ Good luck out there today Mate!”  By the time I finished all my chores, it was time to get the wetsuit on and head to the shoot.  I talked with Bill a bit, we wished each other well and went on our separate ways.

Since I really never was able to have a chance to be by myself and clear my head, I decided to just jump in the water about 15 minutes before the cannon to get away from the commotion.  I swam to a spot and just closed my eyes and treaded water for about 5 minutes, thinking about my wife and kids, where I had come from in this journey, and what the day ahead would bring.  I was totally relaxed, until BOOOM the cannon went off for the pros.  Then chaos set it.  It was an elbow fight with about 100 others to hold a position in the front line.  Someone sang the National Anthem, Mike Riley says “the only thing you can control is your attitude”, and before I knew it BOOOM, it was our turn.

The swim went well for me.  I lined up front and center with the best position at the buoys, it was a bit of a power struggle at the start but by the first 400 or so meters I was swimming cleanly.  I was going stroke for stroke with another guy and decided to try and pull ahead, I could not really pull ahead of him so I made the decision to let him pass me and  jumped on his feet.  I followed him to the turn, every so often trying to pass just to make sure he was not slowing down.  At the turn buoy it became a bit congested and I took a few elbows and kicks.  On the way back there was a chop coming at us, which made the swim back a bit slower.  I swam by myself for the majority of the swim back, but with about 800 meters to go a guy came passed me and I jumped on his feet and stayed on to the exit.  I was hoping to swim between 54-58 minutes, so I am happy with the swim. Total swim time was 57:20, 8th in my age group.

Transition was smooth, last year I skipped the strippers but decided to have them strip the wetsuit this year which went smoothly.  The volunteers were great and had my bag ready as I passed by the T1 bags.  I want to send a thank you to Glen from Ontri.  He told me he would be volunteering in the tent and told me he would be waiting for me and to just call his name.  He was not joking, he was standing in the door waiting for me, he pulled everything out of my bag, helped me get my shoes on, handed me my helmet and ran out the tent with me making sure I had everything I needed.  Smooth and fast I exited T2 in 3:04 and was on my bike right at the 1 hour mark.

I felt good as I headed out of town on the bike, which is usually the case. I really had to watch my power output.  My plan was to hold 225 watts for the ride which I was sure would give me a solid bike of around 5 hours.  It was tough to keep my watts held at 225 on the way out on the Beeline highway.  I was riding all by myself with really no one even in sight for the majority of the first lap and my watts were creeping up every time I looked down.  There was a slight head wind on the way out which turned to a slight tailwind on the way back,  this aloud me to take small pedal breaks every 2 minutes on the way back into town.

The wind picked up on the second loop, and we had a pretty significant headwind out on the Beeline, my legs were feeling a bit of fatigue so I decided to back off about 5 watts and hold 220 this seemed to be more manageable, but the wind was still discouraging and I really had to pee.  As many of you know, you really need to be able to coast to pee. (Yeah, its hard to coast when you are going uphill into the wind).  That turn around could not happen soon enough.  As soon as I was able to take a pedal break I let it go, and all was good for about 5 miles.  Then I started to feel every bump in the road, and thought this was weird since it was new pavement.  “OH CRAP”, I had a flat!  Here is the strange part, I did not panic. I new that special needs was about a mile up the road and decided to ride it in to that point since I new I  had to stop for more nutrition anyway.  I called out my number and told the volunteer that they have some time because I had a flat.  I grabbed my Vitoria Pit Stop and hit my tire with it.  It seemed to work but the tire was still too low to ride, so I grabbed a C02 and twisted on the head.  When I put it on the valve stem CO2 shot every where and drained all the air out of the tire again.  “Crap!”  I new I had put more CO2 in my needs bag and grabbed one more and tried again.  This time it worked, and looked like it was going to hold.  By this time the volunteer had put my new bottles on the bike, and handed me another C02 from my bag.  I stuck it in my pocket and was off.  The tire was holding, and I must have repeated the words “please hold” 20 million times the rest of the ride.

As we headed back into town on that 2nd lap, I could tell the wind was making a shift just like it had the year before.  This was kind of welcome since I knew that it would mean a bit of a tailwind up the Beeline.  As I made the last turn to the Beeline on the last loop, a group of 3 dudes passed me.  They were all riding a legal distance and I hopped on 10 meters behind.  After about 10 minutes I road up on them and said it seems we are all on the same pace, so lets work together.  They all nodded and I went to the front, I was not there longer than 10 seconds and they all passed me, I just shook my head and said to myself “cool,  you guys do all the work, fine with me”  So I did, I just sat 10 meters back and we road the entire rest of the ride in the same positions.  The best thing about it was none of them were in my age group.  At about mile 106 I started to feel the bumps in the road again and my tire was getting pretty low.  I reminded myself to stay calm and if I needed to I could just hit it with another CO2 to get me to the end.  I did not need to. I was able to ride it in.

The bike overall went well for me, I averaged 220 watts, my nutrition was great and my legs were feeling good.  My bike time was 5:01.46, and my SRM said my ride time was 4:56, so I figure I lost about four and half minutes with the flat. Nevertheless, I was off the bike in 10th.

T2 was fast.  I was out of my shoes, threw my bike to a volunteer and was off and running.  My legs were very springy and I was ready to run.  My bag was ready, I ran into the tent put on my socks and shoes, grabbed my Garmin, fuel belt and hat and headed out.  T2 time was 1:41.

As I left transition I heard Mike Reilly saying that the overall male leader was making his way to the 2nd loop.  About 30 seconds later a motorcycle was driving by with a camera man.  He stayed about 20 feet ahead of me for a while and then a guy on a bike came up next to me.  He said, nice pace man you are looking strong.  About a minute later he was still there and said, “Do you know your pace?  Jordan Rapp the male leader is behind you and he’s not gaining. “ “Hmm maybe I should slow down?” I smirked back.  He said, “Well definitely smile, because you are on camera and who knows when you will be holding him off again.”  I then decided I would let him pass.  I ran with him for a bit just because, and then he ran off in the distance.  Hind sight, hell I even knew it at the time, that this was not a very good thing to do, and it would have served my race better to go out as planned at 7:45-7:49 pace.  This is a total mental thing that I need to learn.  It is soo easy to go out too fast.

So the first loop I was feeling really good and strong, and when I passed the Ironhead crew that was there cheering I gave them a big thumbs up and they informed me I had worked my way to 7th or 8th.  But that quickly changed at mile 9.  For some reason I went down hill quickly and was feeling like crap and all I wanted to do was stop and walk.  I am not sure what was going on, but I hit a definite lull from mile 9-15.  I stuck to my plan, and I started to feel ok at mile 15 and picked up the pace a bit.  Mile 18 was to be my last walk break according to my plan, but I told myself I would go ahead and take one more at mile 21.  It was about this time that I saw Mitch Gold and he told me that I really needed to start digging in and picking up the pace, and that I was going to have to start working harder.  I did, but still planned for that walk at mile 21 because I was hurting again and starting to get dizzy and queasy. However, guess who was waiting for me at mile 21?  Yep, my coach.  Oh man, no walking I guess.  He told me I was doing great, but that if I wanted to go to Kona I would have to run the last 10 k pretty hard (he did not tell me that I had fallen to 11th, but he didn’t have to).  He told me to just think of my kids, and run for them.  That was really all I needed to hear.  Tears came to my eyes and I put my head down and  dug deep.  It was really hard to tell who was on which lap, and with compression socks, really hard to tell what age group people were in.  I just assumed that everyone I saw was in my age group and on there last lap. I just put my eyes on them and reeled them in one my one.  The hill after the park about ruined me, but at the top of the hill was the 23 mile marker.  “Aleck! 5k man, 5k! “ I said to myself.  At that point I just went for it, it really felt like I was running a 5k in a sprint race.  As I was going over the last bridge to make my way onto the final stretch I fought the urge to look at my watch, and just looked at the ground and gritted my teeth.  That really is the last thing I remember until I saw the sign to make the turn to the finish.  I honestly don’t remember running along side the lake on the last loop. When I made that turn toward the finisher shoot, I saw my coach’s wife running toward me, she yelled “You are going to do it ! You are going sub 9:30!” .  “Holy crap!   I am going to do it!”  I took a look behind me to make sure I was alone, turned into the finish shoot and saw 9:29.10 and my body went numb, LITTERALY.  I raised my fists in the air and slapped some high fives and I approached the line.  “Here he comes folks, from Clackamas Oregon, Aleck Alleckson,  YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  You are damn right I am.  Run time 3:25.32, last 10 k pace: 7:06/mile

Total time: 9:29.21.  7th Age group, 21st amateur, and 49th overall.

So I did it!  I achieved my goal and will be racing at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua Kona Hawaii on October 9th 2010.  I cannot express how fulfilling this is.  To know where I started, to know how much work and sacrifice my family and I have put in to this, is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and is truly my greatest accomplishment. (I have goose bumps as I type this, 4 days later)

Today is thanksgiving, and I am thankful for so many things!

Elee, I love you!  You are my rock and my world!  You have sacrificed so much for me to achieve this goal and I am so grateful for that.

My children AJ and Brook, I truly want to be the best role model that I can be for you, you two give me the drive to accomplish anything.

All my friends and family that have supported me along the way, there are way too many to name but you know who you are and I am so thankful to have you in my life.

Thanks to my Ironhead teammates who psuh me daily, and the boys at Athletes Lounge for taking care of me!

My coach and friend, Dave Ciaverella.  Dude, we did it!  I am so lucky to have your world class expertise in my corner.  You have gone way above and beyond for me to help me reach this goal.  Lets go rock Kona!


Wow, it has been a long time since I have updated my blog. I have been very busy and have had alot going on, the biggest of which is my two beautiful children!  AJ is going to be turning 3 in a couple weeks and is getting so big and so smart!  Brook is 6 months old now and already saying Da Da!   Elee is doing very well and has started a new job with Providence and is really liking it, other than it is 5 days a week.  She also did her first half marathon a little over a month ago, and we are all so proud of her!

On the triathlon front; as many of you know I decided after missing Kona by 86 seconds at IMCDA, that I was going to race IMAZ to give it one more shot this year.  I had a long recovery from CDA, taking pretty much the majority of July off  and easing back into training into August.  I raced the Hulaman half at the end of August and had a great swim and bike but had no legs to run on, finishing 4th.  After that training picked up up a bit and a group of Ironheads went to Spokane to race the Spokane Olympic Triathlon.  This was a pretty fun road trip, lots of funny strories there, and we came out as the Team Champions.   I ended up 6th overall in that race, and my run was starting to come around.  Two weeks later was the Black Diamond Half,  I had a solid race, and finally felt like I was on the mend back to race fitness.  I was a bit too greedy though and went out way too fast on the run thinking I could maintain 6:20 pace and fell off pretty hard at mile 8, my legs were coming aound but still not quite there.  I Finished 3rd overall in this race.

Since then I have been in 100% focus for Arizona, I decided that I had too much invested in both money and time away from my family to not give this race 100%.  This meant in training, diet,  as well as lifestyle.  It has been a huge challenge to maintain focus, it has been a long year and my 3rd straight year of training from January 1st to the end of November.  Training is going very well though, and my sacrifices are paying off.  I have put alot of attention on my run, and am running MUCH better than I ever have.  With 9 days to go, I am very condfidant in my body and my abilities to go get it done on November 22nd.

IMCDA 2009 Race Report

I have learned a lot since racing IMAZ last November both mentally and physically, the biggest of which is learning how to run!  To this I owe everything to my coach.  His training program, while not overly complex, in fact quite monotonous put me in a place that I had never been before.  It prepared me mentally and physically for what would be an extremely tough day at IMCDA.  With this confidence however came the “false assurance” that this would be the race that I would qualify for Hawaii.  I had zero doubt in my mind.  Even though I knew the biggest factor is what I cannot control, and that is who shows up.

 My taper for this race was only 7 days, which was perfect for me.  I did my last long run of 18 miles 10 days out and my last big ride 67 miles (yep that’s right, long ride of 67 miles) 7 days out.  Without divulging too much proprietary information, the key to my training was repetition of quality workouts that were not too long so that they allowed for quick recovery and huge fitness.

My family and I arrived in Coeur d’ Alene on Wednesday prior to the race.  The weather was not good, very cool, windy and spots of rain.  The race forecast was much of the same.  Thursday morning I went to swim with my crew of training partners and the water was brutal, which at first had me a bit discouraged.  We did a short 25 mile ride followed by a 2 mile easy run in the wind, and it was at this point I decided to welcome the foul weather.  I figured it could only play into my chances of getting to Kona after all, I live and train in Portland, and I am more than prepared for this crap.  I swam again on Friday, and did a very short ride and run with my coach, training crew and buddy Shane Calkins (who had a very solid race despite a flat and BS 4 minute penalty) on Saturday. 

Saturday afternoon we checked our bikes in and I went and chilled with my family until it was time to meet with my coach and go over my race plan and strategies one last time.  I ate my dinner around 5:30 pm, drank a recovery drink at 8:00 and crashed.  I woke up to my alarm at 4:00 am and took in my 750 calories of fluid in the shower.  Had a cup of coffee,  took care of the morning business and Jake* picked me up at 4:45.  I got to transition dropped special needs bags and nutrition and did one last walk through transition with Ryan*, and went and sat by myself in the park until 6:40.  My wife and kids met me then helped me put on my wetsuit and gave me a kiss and sent me on my way.

I walked down to the beach hopped in and swam out about 100 meters and came back in and took my position front and center.  I was very calm with no nervousness as I looked out at the 1-3 foot chop with the wind blaring directly into my face.  I knew I was prepared to have a solid day.

One minute to  the cannon, I adjusted my goggles (hind sight, big mistake).  Cannon went off and I charged into the chop and immediately my left goggle filled with water. “ Oh crap”, nothing I can do about for a bit.  About that time two dudes swam over the top of me on both sides and I was pinned under.  This is the first time in my life that I actually panicked in the water, I needed air, and I could not get it. I fought my way out and gasped for air and calmed my self down quickly.  I got on a couple of feet and swam with my eyes closed for a stoke count of 50.  I looked up hoping I was clear of the pack, which I was, only clear the wrong way.  Apparently I have developed quite the slice.  I was about 30 yards to the right of the buoys, so I stopped for a quick second and dumped the water out of goggles and tried to adjust them to seal properly, to no avail they filled right back up.  The rest of the swim went much the same, I would close my eyes and crank it and found my self zig zagging all over the course.  I got out of the water after the first loop in 30 minutes.  “Not the end of the world at this point I can surely negative split this swim if I just swim straight.”  I started out on the second loop and it seemed that conditions actually had gotten worse.  It was awful, it was not like normal swells that I was used to that you could kind of time and get into a rhythm, it was just random crashing, and it was beating me up both physically and mentally.  I began to get angry!  I even started throwing punches at the water.  I was sighting a whole lot more often to ensure that I was staying on the buoy line, and when I made the turn for the final stretch to the exit I decided that I had figured it out and I could go back to 50 strokes in between.  Bad move again, way off and frustration was more than concerning.  I managed to bring it back under control and get to the finish ready to put a race together.  I was pretty disappointed to see 1:02 on the timer, but it was not the end of the world, I just hoped everyone else had the same horrible experience that I did.  Swim time:  1:02.01 20th AG, 118th overall.  Not where I should be at all, I need to work on the mental aspects of the swim.

 Transition was fine no problems, although I think it is absolutely ridiculous that amateur’s cannot have their shoes on the bike, the safety argument makes no sense, as its more dangerous to make us run in bike shoes across pavement than it is mounting your bike with shoes on the pedals.  I did manage to run past my bike, but not much time lost, maybe 5 seconds.  T1 3:36.

 On to the bike I had a very specific plan, and I stuck to it.  This is a challenging course, but it’s only challenging from miles 25-50 and 75-100.  The rest is pretty flat and fast.  The winds presented a challenge, as it was sustained 20 mph throughout the race, and I don’t think it was ever to our advantage.  It seems that on the way out it was a cross wind, and on the way back it was a direct head wind.  My plan was to take the first 25 miles as a time trial and hold 230 watts, when I got to the hills cap my watts at 300, and take the down hills to rest for about 5 second increments, and then time trial back into town holding 230-235 watts.  My coach gave me great advice on this portion and it paid off.  He warned me that it is a false downhill flat and with the wind people would have the tendency to not want to push it coming back into town.  He was right, I didn’t either, but I did and I held my watts at 230, put my head down and passed a whole bunch of people.  I repeated the second loop just as the first.  The hills in the second lap hurt a bit more than the first, and I think the wind was a bit harder on the second loop, but when I came back into to town my legs were feeling fresh, I knew that I had had a great ride, and I was mentally and physically ready to run!  It was an added bonus that my family and many others were along the fence as I came into transition cheering loudly, which incased the adrenalin for the run.  Bike time: 5:17.23, 8th Age group, 63 overall.

 Transition 2 was a bit more rough that T1.  Although I came off my bike very smooth and ran well into the tent, I struggled immensely to get my compression socks on, even though I had practiced it 50 times just as Matt* had told me to.  I could tell I was having a slow transition because even the volunteer was trying to push me out faster than I was capable of going.  I held it together though got my socks on, grabbed my Garmin and fuel belt and headed out on the run in good spirits.  T2: 3:09, about 1:40 slower than what it should have been.

 The run felt unbelievably easy to start, so easy in fact I paced with the 2nd place pro for the first mile at about 6:20 pace, oops that’s a bit fast.  I dialed it back quickly and found a very fluid rhythm and felt so strong.  I was actually running with the runners!  I was not getting blown by by anyone.  This was fun!  I kept my composure well and focused, trying to keep my pace at 7:45.  It was so much fun having so many people I knew both on the course and cheering.  This really helped me mentally.  At about the mile 12 mark on the run I began to hurt a bit, and in hind sight I should have paid closer attention to my heart rate, as I slowed a bit to compensate for the pain.  This lasted until mile 18 and I knew that I was falling off pace a little too much and I needed to pick it up. At mile 21 my coach began to visit me much more frequently telling me that I had to dig, and that I was not suffering enough.  I was thinking; “how the hell do you know?”  But he did know, he knows exactly what I am capable of, and he knows my pain threshold.  “OK man I’ll dig.”  Mile 22  he yelled, “harder Aleck, harder”.  Mile 23, “Dude you only have 5k man push it, this has to hurt more than you have ever hurt before”, I am thinking seriously I am, but I wasn’t.  Mile 24, “Aleck you have got to go now bro, dig deep and get in that pain cave, 13 minutes to go, you have Mitch Gold 30 seconds up, he is all yours to get!”  Ok, can I dig deeper for 2 more miles?  I have too, I cannot puss out at this point, and I have to know what its like to leave nothing left in my body if I want to get to where I want to be. So I did, I let it all go, I could not even feel what my legs were doing, I looked down and just hoped that they were still going.  I did it,  I went deeper than I have ever been before and it was feeling great.  When I made the turn for the final 400 meters I just hung on and got overwhelmed with what is the Ironman.  It was not the sprint finish I had at Arizona, but it was awesome, I actually heard Mike Reily call me in this time, which was cool.  When I crossed the line, I was drained, everything I had was gone, and I hurt!  My wife and kids found me and I broke down.  This was the reward I was looking for, the best feeling in the world to hold my child and hug my wife after such an experience, knowing that they were with me every step of the way.

 I actually ran a very consistent run, although I did drift a bit in pace from mile 13-21 while my heart rate dropped as well, which tells me that I was giving in to pain, and it was not necessary to slow up.  These are the things you learn from though.  My pace for the run broke down like this: 

1st 6 miles: 7:35 pace

6-9:  7:40 pace

9-12: 7:36 pace

12-15: 7:53 pace

15-18: 8:12 pace

18-21; 8:15 pace

21-26.2: 7:29 pace

 Total run time: 3:28.10 

 Finish time: 9:54.19  11th AG 67th overall

 I raced a great race, no doubt.  I executed my plan as well as I could have.  Of course there are always things that I can go back and work on, but I am ultimately very happy with the outcome of the race.  I ran a 16:30 pr, and my overall time was a 2 minute and 30 second personal best over my time at Arizona which is a much faster course.  While I try to stay positive in this race report, I am bummed that I did not achieve my ultimate goal of qualifying for Hawaii.  There were only 8 slots awarded in my age group and all 8 were taken.  Ultimately I missed my goal by 90 seconds, and yes this is eating at me.  But this is ironman, and there are things that are going to happen that are completely out of your control, and this is the biggest of them.  I learned some things in this race, and am anxious to work on them, as well as continue to improve on what went right, in order to chase the dream again at Ironman Arizona in November.

 Shout outs:

 My absolutely amazing wife who gave birth to our beautiful daughter only 6 weeks before this race!  Elee you are truly amazing and I love you so so much.  Thank you for supporting me in this crazy sport, and allowing me to pursue these dreams.

 AJ (my son) and Brook I love you both so much, and I think about you in everything I do.  I want so bad to be the ultimate roll model for you!  Aj you are the best little buddy in the world!

 Mom, Ray, Stacie, Emma, Mardina, thank you all so much for making the trip and braving the crappy conditions to give me 10 hours of support!  I love you all, and enjoyed hanging out with you at the cabin after the race!

 ** Training partners, the Ironhead CDA crew!  You guys rock!  Jake, Jason, Ryan, AJ, Laura, and Bonnie too!  The countless hours of training we did together made this race great.   I know that each of you will have your own reports, but let me give some props…

 Jake, first Ironman 10:24!!! Fantastic.  Jake has run probably 90% of my training miles with me over the year, and is going to make an even bigger pr in his next race.

 Jason, had an unfortunate flat and penaltyand still put up a solid 10:26, I look forward to breaking into the next level with you at IMAZ! We will do it!

 Ryan, Big run pr  and 10:28 finish despite only 6 weeks of training for this race, Ryan was hit with a string of injuries at the start of the season and did not begin training until May!

 AJ, dude you made a lot of runs shorter and a lot of runs longer! Fantastic work in your first Ironman ( 10:59).  This after being on his death bed 18 months ago with a severe brain injury!  Way to overcome bro!  Look forward to seeing what you will do in Arizona.

 Laura, you are a freak!  You have more athletic potential than anyone I know!  1st Ironman  10:58 3rd in your Age group and going to Kona!  Stick with Dave and you will rock it!

 Bob, again thanks, I could not even try without your help.

 Matt, thanks for all your help, advice and time you definitely are a big part in my PR!

 Last but definitely not least, my coach Dave Ciaverella!  Dave is also a mentor and friend to me and has brought me to a level that I did not think I could achieve.  The ability to train with your coach is invaluable!  He has pushed me all season to be the best athlete that I can be, and was out on the course at the right times giving me encouragement and support and pushing me the entire way!  Thanks for everything bro!  I look forward to many more strong races!

 I am not so sure why I think I won the Oscars at the end of my Ironman race reports, but it is a big accomplishment and all of you played vital rolls in my finish and I don’t want anyone to go unnoticed!