Monday 9.21.09


Over the weekend, Stuart and I decided to enter a 4,000 meter open water swimming race in Saguaro Lake in Mesa, AZ. I had been to the area before back in 2006 to race the Usery Pass Road Race, but never to the lake. It is quite the drive from Tucson at about 150 miles and just around 2.5 hours of driving each way.


I swam on Friday night with the Tucson Ford Aquatics and had a nice workout of 5700 yards (Stuart had the evening off of swimming to rest for the race). Sean Bourne also did the workout with me and then made the rest of the journey with us for the weekend. After Friday evening practice we went to the airport to rent a car for the day. We had a little Kia but it was all we would need. About 9:30 PM Stuart started complaining about having to get up so early and drive and miss an early morning run before the swim race, so we decided at the last minute to hop in the car and drive to Mesa knowing we would arrive about midnight. Stuart slept in the back of the car while I did all the driving talking to Sean the entire way, thanks for keeping me awake Sean. We pulled into Mesa and slept at the Super 8 motel for the evening. I rented the car for the trip so Stuart paid for the motel. We got out of bed about 7 AM and went down for the continental breakfast. I don’t think the motel management was too happy as we pretty much cleaned out the supply of food at the dinky little breakfast. We were racing so fuel was a premium. We left for the Lake and had to buy a parking pass on the way out of town. Sean was racing both the 2k and 4k swims so he took our clothes to the start area and Stuart and I went for an hour run while Sean was swimming the 2k race. It wasn’t a hard run, but it was enough in the Arizona heat to dehydrate me a bit and make me just a little tired. I changed into my TYR Sayonara Swimskin and hit the lake for a warm-up. Stuart is a brilliant open water swimmer and would be difficult to beat. He is not only crafty, but has loads of experience. I knew he would be trying to drop me at some point so we wouldn’t be in a sprint for the win. As the gun went off, I found myself off to a nice little lead then Stuart came by me at the first turn buoy. The course was a counterclockwise loop of 1000 meters so we would be completing four laps along the shoreline in a rectangular pattern. I hopped on Stuart’s feet for the rest of the first lap and some guy was out in the middle of the lake swimming faster than us but off course and extremely wide around the turns. He would catch us on all the turns but be behind us during the swim. I cam around Stuart on the second lap to share the workload with him and immediately he tried to swim inside and drop me. I hopped right back on his feet and decided I would just stay there for the rest of the swim. He tried several pace changes and each time I covered his break. The last lap, he really slowed down for a bit then took off like a rocket to the inside of the course. I was dropped and trying desperately to get back on. I couldn’t close the gap and without his feet he kept a small gap the rest of the swim. Around the final buoy, the man swimming wide had a final sprint with Stuart for the win. He barely out-sprinted him and took the win in 52:53. I was third in 53:16 or something around there. I was glad I didn’t have to sprint at the end of the swim since my arms were pretty tired. It was a great tactical race from Stuart and I gained some more valuable experience in open water. The pace over the 4k swim was 1:19 per 100m or about a 51:25 Ironman swim time.


Sean won the 2k race in a very close sprint but was then too tired to even swim close to us in the 4k swim. It was too bad because I looking forward to a few more swimmers in the pack. Denton Taylor, who swam with Ford a year ago, and at the 2008 Olympic Trials, won the 4k wetsuit division (he was a bit slower than we were, but should have been in our race).


We celebrated Sean’s 2k win and Stuart’s second and my third place finish in the 4k with a great binge at the IHOP. I had a huge Colorado omelet with blueberry pancakes. Sean actually had a Big Steak omelet and TWO plates of strawberry banana pancakes. That boy can eat! We drove home to Tucson then Stu and I went for a short 1 hour cool down spin. It was a great day-trip to Valley of the Sun. Stuart took a nap on the drive home. Why is Stuart always getting the extra sleep?


Work Hard,





I thought today would be an excellent blog day since it is a once in a century triple nine day. It is also the 5 year anniversary of the day I was hit by an RV while riding my bicycle in Kansas. Further, today is the start of my father’s big Hubbell Extreme building project in Des Moines. He is building a nine-plex home for nine families in nine days. The project is in conjunction with Anawim housing. The housing is free and is being donated by a whole slew of companies and contractors. My dad’s company, Hubbell Realty, is overseeing the whole the project. Pretty cool, Go Dad!


So after my race in New Hampshire at Timberman I relocated with Ashley and the entire TYR crew of athletes to a remote lake in New Hampshire for a photo shoot with TYR. The shoot was focused on the launch of the 2010 product line which will be unveiled at Interbike in a few weeks. While I have done several photo shoots for TYR in the past. This shoot was by far the most intensive. TYR not only had 5 athletes at the shoot (Andy, Chrissie, Mags, Becky, and me) but also the designers, photographers, makeup artist (yes I did wear some makeup, but not in all the photos and just enough really show my inner beauty!), videographers, and TYR ownership. We were all staying in various cabins on this remote lake, with little to no cell phone service and one cabin with a wireless internet router. It was remote and isolated which was good for the shoot, just difficult to stay in touch with the rest of the world. Anybody who knows me well knows I don’t survive long without an internet connection, so at least I was provided the luxury of staying in the cabin with internet. I managed just fine.


We took off Sunday after the race and arrived in time for dinner, we went over the schedule for the next three days which looked like this; Monday: Sample new fabrics and garments with design team and provide feedback for the existing product line. Tuesday: Shoot, photos and video all day. Wednesday: Shoot in the morning then depart in the evening. Monday was actually a really cool day. The TYR design team came and presented us with all the latest in fabric technology and let us sample and actually workout in just about every piece of technical apparel you could imagine. This was a fantastic way to really see what types of fabrics work well for different applications. I have some definite favorites but I can’t spill the beans on what will come. Each athlete had an intensive one on one with the designers to go over the current line and what type of improvements we would like to see.


Tuesday was the shoot and the photographers were ready and amped early in the morning for us. I did manage to get out for a nice long open water swim before we started and photographer Eric Wynn was able to follow me in the kayak and get some awesome shots in the morning light. We did a series of group and individual shots with very little downtown but of course a lot of time between shots where we did some excellent team bonding. While Andy Potts was shooting solo and the rest of us were waiting for our turn to pose for the photographers, Chrissie Wellington devised the TYR Sayonara Olympics. The Olympics consisted of 4 athletes, Magali Tisseyre, Becky Lavelle, Chrissie Wellington, and me. We divided into teams of two, Mags and Becky vs. Chrissie and me. We were all dressed in the TYR Sayonara swimskin which made the Olympics an even better spectacle. The first competition was the wheel barrow race. Up first was me carrying Chrissie’s legs vs. Becky carrying Mag’s legs. Chrissie and I got smoked…bad! So to repeat the event we decided to switch places and then with Chrissie carrying my legs we were able to win. Next event was the three legged race. We tied a rope around our ankles and did a nice little jog on the beyach. While Mags and Becky were tied up first, Chrissie and I were worried they had too much practice time, but Chrissie and I totally dominated this event. So after 3 races the score was Chrissie and TJ 2: Becky and Mags 1. Next up was the Leap Frog. The Leap Frog entailed jumping over your partner’s back while he or she is crouched on all fours in the sand then crouching yourself once the jump is completed and having your partner jump over your back.  The first run of the race ended with both teams being disqualified for running after the jumps (Chrissie and Becky were both guilty). The second run ended in a tight race but with Becky and Mags coming out on top. Now the score was tied at 2-2 and we needed one more event to decide the gold medal. Piggy Back Race! After much arguing about the fairness of a piggy back race and having a guy on only one of the teams, we decided it would be fair if I carried Chrissie and Becky carried Mags. This was actually a much better match than originally predicted. In a very close race, Beck and Mags took a dive in the sand over the finish line to win and take the gold medal. I had to settle for silver (or last depending on how you look at it) with Chrissie. Andy missed all the action of the TYR Sayonara Olympics but since he actually competed in the real Olympics, he didn’t think he was missing much, shows how little he knows. The day ended very late and I was super tired and ready for bed.


Wednesday was also an early morning and I woke up with Ryan Dolan knocking on my door telling me I had 15 minutes to get ready for a shot. The last shot we did was a group and individual running shot on a gravel road through the woods. The light was awesome and the shot looked really cool. We had to take turns running first in a group then running individually in a loop right at the camera. My favorite quote of the weekend was Chrissie running into the camera “There are no brakes on this machine!” The last few shots of the day were Andy and me running together up the hill. The very last shot and wrap for the whole shoot was a race and $10 bet from the photographer to see who could sprint the 100m up the hill to the circle spot on the gravel first. It was just Andy and me and when the photographer said "GO!” we both took off at full speed, just a small chance for me to highlight my fast twitch ability and take a shot at Andy. While I have never beaten Andy Potts in a triathlon race, I did give him a thorough beating in the gravel road sprint. The last shot the photographer got was me with a stupid grin on my face, sticking my tongue out over my teeth in a small celebration. That was a perfect ending. Andy tells me, “Great, now if we ever have a sprint finish, that is all you are going to remember” I told him, “The worst part is…that is all you are going to remember!”


Ashley and I took off later in the evening and drove back to Boston to leave for home after being on the road for 10 days. From Des Moines, to Utah, to Boston, to two lakes in New Hampshire, back to Boston, then home. It was a whirlwind tour and exhausting. I’m not sure Ashley will ever accompany me to a photo shoot again unless maybe it is on a beach in Hawaii or something. There’s an idea, next year we can all fly to Hawaii for the shoot. Count me in. I want a rematch of the TYR Olympics, I’m never happy with second place.


Work Hard,




Gilford, New Hampshire


Timberman was on my schedule from the beginning of the year, but it also happened to coincide with a photo shoot for TYR. Last year, I flew out to New Hampshire from Boulder just to do the shoot and I didn’t race. This year I decided I could use a little fitness test and tune-up so I don’t go into Kona without a solid race since Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 21. After my Ironman this year, I took a nice long break to make sure I was fully recovered and ready to begin training again. Since I started training seriously again (only a few weeks ago), my training has been less than stellar. I haven’t been able to string together really solid training. My consistency just wasn’t the best. I put in some solid workouts and just started my build to Kona at the beginning of August. I knew I would be traveling to New Hampshire after Utah and that my race fitness would be tested at best. That being said, it was a race and every time I toe the line I want to get the most out of the race and the most out of myself.


Ashley and I flew from Salt Lake City to Boston on Thursday and rented a car.  From there we then drove to my cousin, Eric’s house. We stayed at Eric’s on Thursday and Friday night and had a really great dinner in Boston on Friday night. It was restaurant week in Boston so each of us had a three course meal at Tremont for $33; great deal and even better food. Eric just had his first child, Cael, so we wanted to spend some time with his new family. We left Boston on Saturday morning and drove to New Hampshire. We had a great homestay, extremely proximal to the race venue. Kevin and Amy Tripp were gracious enough to let us stay at their huge New Hampshire home on the backside of Gunstock Mountain Resort. They even cooked us a wonderful pre-race meal complete with natural apple pie and some of Jordan’s Blackberry Ice Cream. Delicious!


Race morning was a little congested as several thousand people tried to drive and park in a very small parking lot. I was driving my rental with Ash, Catriona Morrison, and some Canadian we picked up on the side of the road racing his first triathlon. We ended up having to walk and bike to the transition area because it was taking too much time to drive in the traffic. The walk/bike was actually fine because the race was delayed about 20 minutes due to a traffic accident on the bike course.


It was a non-wetsuit swim and about 75 degrees. I started the swim all the way to the left of the clockwise loop next to Andy Potts and Simon Thompson. I made the mistake of going out behind Andy when I should have just gone out on my own. Andy tends to start a little slow for me and then get into a groove. I like clear water from the start. I lost Simon Thompson around the first buoy and was in a small pack of three with Bjorn Anderson. It was not a good swim for me and that is usually the sign of a sub par race, but I was optimistic and just went with the day on the bike. I started out calm so I wouldn’t blow up too early. I knew my fitness was on the short end of good, so being conservative would be necessary today. I still ended up fading the last 45 minutes of the bike and came into transition in 6th place but pretty well blown for the day. I started running slow and sluggish. I didn’t have much turn over and just felt tired and hot. I needed water bad and couldn’t drink enough of it. I was also badly overheating. I couldn’t get enough water or ice at the aid stations, but at this point it didn’t really matter because I was just running on survival mode. I wasn’t going to pass anybody, just try to mitigate the damage and survive the run as a good day of training in the heat. I finished in 10th, not good enough. Andy Potts was amazing on the day, working everyone like a ditch digger.


This was a nice little preparation for me and 7 weeks before Kona it was a nice test of where the fitness is currently. I feel like I am back in May and writing about my race in St. Croix. I am in a little better position than I was in May, but still have a long way to go before Little Mac is ready for the title match with Mike Tyson. I can promise that I will be training like a champion these next 7 weeks and will bring the sting of Mohammed Ali to Kona. Let’s focus on the process right now and get ready for
THE BIG TIME ON THE BIG ISLAND, coming soon on 10.10.09 with a perfect 10 execution.


Work Hard,



Friday August 21, 2009


I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah this week with Ashley to do a presentation for TYR at the Salt Lake Running Company. The owners of the Salt Lake Running Co, Guy and Debbie Perry, host packet pick-up for the Rocky Mountain Regional Olympic Distance Championships at one of their three store locations. I was slated to speak at 7:30 PM and before my presentation I went out to dinner with Guy, Debbie, Ryan Dolan, Ashley, and Weston (an athlete who Debbie coaches). We ate dinner at a funky little restaurant, Citris. The talk at dinner surrounded athletics and triathlon performance; it was a nice preparation piece for the talk I would soon give at the shop.


My presentation was about moving up in distance, training for an Ironman after racing Olympic distance and half Ironman distance events. The talk was specifically about how the run training differs when training for Ironman. Here were the highlights of what I talked about:

  1. Train at least two (2) quality run workouts each week
  2. Train some speed work each week to help your running economy and form
  3. When you train hard, go hard, when you train easy, run easy
  4. Train your body to run while tired, this can mean doing a brick workout, running hard after an intense day of training the previous day, or simply running after you swim and bike (either in a race or a race simulation)


No matter how good of a presentation I think I give, I always find the best part of any presentation to be the question and answer session after the presentation. The interaction with other athletes and the ability to address specific areas of interests always seems to have more of an impact. While a good portion of the audience was relatively new to the sport of triathlon, a lot of questions surrounded how to mentally prepare for a first race, how to have smooth transitions, and even how to avoid bonking (if you read the September issue of Inside Tri, you would notice a feature article titled “Bonk Man”). I always enjoy providing insight and knowledge to athletes eager for improvement. After all, I am an athlete searching for insight and knowledge eager for improvement. Sometimes the best way to learn is by teaching others.


While in Salt Lake City, Ashley and I stayed at Jeremy Dolan’s house (brother of Ryan Dolan from TYR). Jeremy lives in a fabulous home atop a massive hill/mountain which proved to be quite the challenge when returning from a ride up Immigration Canyon with Ryan. Ashley, Ryan, and I all went for a trail run on Pipeline Trail near Mill Creek (which was a great creek for an ice bath after the run). We also went for a swim at Steiner swimming pool; a beautiful outdoor 50m pool part of the Salt Lake City Sports Commission. On Wednesday afternoon I did the master’s swim workout with my friend, Kelsey Kooreman, who now lives in Park City. I think I gave everyone in the pool a good fashion scare when I sported my new red, 4” nylon trainer with Ashley’s pink pirate swim cap. I looked like “Happy Valentine’s Day” ready to pop out of a cake and do a little dance. Oh well, that’s what happens when you forget your own swim cap.

After the swim we went to catch the finish of Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah cycling race and say hello to a few friends racing. For our last night in Utah, Ashley and I drove to Park City to have dinner with Kelsey and her husband, Mike at the Wasatch Brewery on the top of Old Main St. We enjoyed some good food and even better laughs. After driving to see the Kooreman house, and playing with their dogs, we both fell in love with Park City and vowed to return soon (hopefully during ski season, and maybe even during the Sundance Film Festival).


While this was my first visit to Utah in the summer and Ashley’s first visit ever, we both left noting how clean, modern and wonderfully accommodating Utah was for athletes. It is definitely worth a visit and even makes the short list of places I would consider living. For now it is on to Boston where I will visit my cousin, Eric, for a couple of days before I race this weekend at Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire, (time to add a few sprinkles to the donut!)


Work Hard,



Mooresville, North Carolina

August 6, 2009


I can remember riding on a train as a kid in Chattanooga, TN. The smoky mountains are a fabulous place to take a train ride on the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Train. My favorite (and most kids’ favorite) part of the ride was riding into the tunnel. I don’t know why as kids we are all so fascinated with taking a trip into the deep dark abyss of a tunnel. Perhaps it is the excitement of the dark, or the small fear that you might not make it out the other side, but I have always been amazed at the feat of the construction of a tunnel. A tunnel through a mountain is impressive; blasting a hole with dynamite into the side of a mountain in order to construct a pathway which leads to the other side is amazing. I can remember wanting to see exactly how the tunnel was made. As I grew older my fascinations with tunnels remained. I wrote a paper in high school about the construction of the most impressive tunnel ever built, The Chunnel, which runs from London to Paris underneath the English Channel. I was equally impressed with the Chunnel when I took a first class seat on the train ride Chunnel from London to Paris. This time I actually was in London taking a class and we had the opportunity to learn about the detailed construction and business of building the Chunnel. I’m still impressed with tunnels and love a good ride on a train.


After I raced Ironman Coeur d’Alene, my friend and former training partner, Doug Friman, came to visit me in Iowa. Doug shares my childhood enjoyment of a good train ride, and during his visit we took a trip on the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad. Now there aren’t any tunnels on the BSVRR, but there is a really cool high bridge over the Des Moines River valley. On this train ride, Doug and I met the conductor, Sawyer. Sawyer pulled out a century club card from his wallet dated August 1980 (the same month and year I was born). Now Sawyer’s century club card is probably not what most people think of when century club is mentioned. No, Sawyer’s century club card stated he once went 104 mph on a freight train; pretty impressive if you ask me. One of the most interesting parts of the train ride was viewing the passengers. Most of the passengers were either senior citizens, like Sawyer, or young children. While riding a train will probably always seem fun and exciting for me, Doug and I both thought it intriguing how life seems to come full circle on a train.


This week I took an airplane trip to Charlotte, North Carolina (more specifically Mooresville) which is home to several NASCAR teams and of course the famous wind tunnels where they test aerodynamics. While the NASCAR teams test in the A1 Tunnel which operates 24/7, 5 days a week and tests at wind speeds of 135 mph. I was testing at the A2 tunnel next door which tests at wind speeds up to 85 mph (we only test at 30 mph on the bike).  The A2 tunnel is available to manufacturers and consumers and allows just about anyone to have to access to the finest aero testing equipment (of course for a modest fee). This was my second trip to the A2 Wind Tunnel. My first was last December. I had two goals for this testing period: 1) test my new Ruster Sports TricaeroTop and 2) fine tune my position for Kona optimizing my aerodynamics in both a headwind and a crosswind. I know I have a good position for a straight headwind but Kona is all about riding fast in a crosswind, sometimes a dangerously strong crosswind. I already made my decision to run Zipp Zedtech 606 wheels for the race this year, so now it was all about what I would do for hydration and aerobars. I took a whole slew of Profile Design aerobars with me to the tunnel and came with my Specialized Transition bare of any cables to make the bar swaps easier. I was testing just about everything on the Profile Design Product line and in different configurations to help me get more aero. The testing is exciting and exhilarating for me, but really it is a lot of work. You have to prep as much as possible and be prepared for very quick changeovers since the clock on the tunnel time never stops running. There is a lot of geek that goes into testing and the tunnel in general but I suppose that is right up my alley. After two and a half hours of actual testing and over 20 gigs of data, pictures, and video, my tunnel testing was complete. Now it is back to the lab again to come up with some crazy idea to ride in Kona. I am nine weeks away from the race and plan to nail down this position optimized for Kona. Just like a kid, I was excited and giddy to enter the tunnel and left just as excited and giddy and can’t wait to get back and take another trip to the tunnel. Now if only I could ride a train to the tunnel or maybe even ride a train in the tunnel my childhood fascinations would be complete. I guess I will have to settle for riding my bike like a freight train in Kona. Maybe I can get Sawyer to induct me into the century club if I ride my bike 112 miles like a freight train.


Work Hard,



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