Big Creek State Park, Polk City, IA


More of the same…The Big Creek Triathlon is one of my favorite events. I first did Big Creek around my fifteenth birthday (just before I started high school), as a runner on a relay team with my cousin, Eric Lambi, as the cyclist, and my older sister, Alissa, as the swimmer. I ran on a relay at Big Creek four consecutive years and won each year (’95-98). It wasn’t until 2001 that I finally did the whole thing by myself. I have won Big Creek 3 times, and took second once to David Thompson as he set a blistering course record of 1:49:55 or something close to that. Last year the date was moved to July and the course was changed, and it didn’t work out. This year, I decided not to race and joined a relay team as a substitute for a friend who had a last minute schedule change and couldn’t race. Collier Schofield was scheduled to cycle on a team with my girlfriend, Ashley, and a friend, Brian Hill, who swims at the University of Iowa. When Collier couldn’t make the race, I stepped in for another 40k TT. I was expecting Brian Hill to crush everyone in the swim but the day before the race the water temp dropped to 75 degrees and wetsuits were allowed. Brian didn’t have a wetsuit so he was at a distinct disadvantage but still managed the 3rd fastest swim of the day and put me close enough to take over the lead in a few miles on the bike. My transition was horrible because I was not prepared to run in my cycling shoes. The old Big Creek relay rules had the swimmers and runners do all the transition running (sans cycling shoes). This time around, I had to do all the transition running in my cleats. Had I known the change of rules in advance, I would have done it barefoot like I do in a tri. Oh well. To make matters worse as soon as I started on the bike I hit a large bump in the park road and lost my aerobar pad. Luckily, neutral course support was right behind me and all I had to do was slow down and wait for them to return it to me. Ok, now I was all set to rock and roll. I did a worse job pacing this TT than I did on Wednesday and that turned out to be a bigger mistake because there was a tailwind going out and a headwind coming home. You should always ride slightly harder with the head wind for a faster result. Overall it was still a solid effort and good second 40k TT in one week. Nothing gets you in shape faster on the bike than doing a straight 40k TT. A 40k time trial is also the best measure of your functional threshold. Whatever you can average for power (watts) during a 40k effort is the best indicator of your actual threshold power. I could tell my ride on Sunday was slightly better at just over 350 watts versus my just under 350 watts on Wednesday. That is good news; the bad news is I am still about 20 watts off from where I would like to be (370 watts). Really it won’t take much for me to get back there, just a few specific workouts, but it is always nice to have a test of your current level of fitness. So I came into transition with a total clock time of 1:11:xx and after another slow run through transition and waiting for Ashley to put on the timing chip just outside of T2 we were a long way in front, which was a good thing because Ashley set out at a blazing speed but rolled her ankle about 6k into the 10k run and had to stop and walk for a bit. She continued to run and made it to the finish line just fine but slightly slower than David Thompson’s course record. It was fun to be out at Big Creek and taking part in the event, even if I wasn’t racing individually and going for the overall win. I made it a good day of training by warming up with a swim of the course (which took me 21:20), then finished by running 3 laps of the run at a meager 7:30 pace, just to get used to running after a hard bike. I went home after the race, took a nap then went for another 7 mile run later in the day. All in all it was another fine day of training. Maybe next year I will get back and race individually.


Work Hard,




Decatur, IL (Spin City Cycles)


Wednesday August 5, 2009


One week ago I made the long and seemingly arduous journey from Des Moines to Decatur, IL for the Wednesday night Decatur Time Trial Series. Zipp put together a small presentation with Spin City Cycles (the local Specialized dealer) and asked me to attend the event and give a small speech about time trialing the same evening while the participants enjoyed a catered pasta buffet at the restaurant across from the shop. I have only been to Decatur once and it was in 1995 for the Crossroads Swim Meet. At the time I didn’t pay attention to the distance from Des Moines or the length of the trip. So after driving in my car for 370 miles and nearly six hours, I arrived in Decatur (directly at the race sight) about 5 PM, so I had a solid hour before I was scheduled to race. I met the guys from the shop and Greg Kopecky from Zipp was there to help me out. I put the Red Rocket together complete with a disc and front 808, changed into the skin suit, donned the aero booties, and for a short course recon with Greg and Kyle May from Spin City Cycles. My legs were a little tight and I didn’t really feel like I was ready to race a TT, but sometimes that is the best preparation. I decided I would take out the TT relatively easy so I wouldn’t run the risk of blowing up. My legs were tight and not quite ready for the intense effort. I didn’t have the necessary spark in my legs to really jump start the time trial. Nonetheless it was still a good effort on the flat and cornfield protected course. The Decatur Time Trial Series is held every Wednesday during the summer and has both a 20k and 40k distance. The 40k is just two loops of the 20k course. Surprisingly most people opt for the 20k distance, but I wasn’t about to drive 12 hours roundtrip and just do a 20k TT if I had the option of a 40k. I checked out the course record in advance of my journey and found out it was set back in 2005 by a local Cat 1 cyclist at 52:30. This was my new goal for the ride. I wanted my money’s worth on this trip and course record would be just what I needed to make it worth my time. I finished the time trial 59 seconds ahead of the next finisher but a full six seconds shy of the course record. I was a little crushed but still happy to know I recorded the second fastest time ever on the course and that I won a Decatur Time Trial Series Visor for the 60/40 club (breaking 60 minutes for the 40k). I finished the evening with a small talk at the restaurant while people enjoyed cold beer and a pasta buffet compliments of Spin City. The purpose of the talk was to help sell some Zipp wheels for the shop and do a Q &A session with the athletes. I left Decatur at 10:30 PM and headed for home not knowing how far I would make it driving through the night. I was prepared to stop in the Quad Cities but the construction diversion took me around the cities on I-280 so I just decided to keep on truckin’. I made it home about 4:00 AM and crawled into bed feeling like Rip Van Winkle about to sleep for 100 years (or maybe a day).


Sleeping so I can get up and Work Hard,





Tucson may have the Shootout, but in Des Moines every Tuesday evening we have the Tuesday Night World Championship Ride. I’m not sure about the history of the Tuesday Night World Champs, but I do know that since I have been living and riding in Des Moines, this ride has been going off every Tuesday night. The ride used to leave from my local bike shop’s (Bike World) centrally located shop on Merle Hay Road, but since the shop recently moved to Douglas Ave, the ride now meets at a local coffee shop every Tuesday at 5:30 PM. The route is a casual stroll North out of town until the last stop light…then the action begins. For the next 28.5 miles there is a virtual race with just a few neutral zones for traffic signs and speed limits passing through a couple of small towns on the route. The World Champs typically runs from April/May until September/October and since I swim in the evenings until June, I miss the first few weeks. I try to add this ride into my schedule as much as I can as it gives me a solid unstructured workout and lets me practice some anaerobic intervals and short sprints (some for stop ahead signs, and some for the pure glory of trying to break away).  All of the local hammer heads typically show up for the ride and the pace is usually somewhere around a 27 mph average including the stop signs and neutral zones (this week my average was 27.1 mph). There are no hills on the course to speak of so it is really just a matter of drafting and playing in the wind. The lead pack can be anywhere from 10-50 riders, and there is always a chance of a breakaway heading up the road in small numbers.


I have had Stuart Hayes and his girlfriend, Michelle Dillon, staying with my parents for the past month and Michelle and Stu have joined me on this ride for the past three weeks. Stuart and I have both been riding our TT bikes which is typically frowned upon on this ride, but since we are both accomplished professionals, and comfortable riding in packs, nothing much is ever said. Michelle gets so jazzed for this ride and she typically treats it as her race for the week. She can’t wait to come back to Des Moines next summer and do this ride again. Stuart’s best memories from this ride are from last summer when part of the road on the usual route was closed so everyone took their road bikes off road, cycle cross style, down the ditch and back up onto the road, all the while racing and trying to drop people. Stuart thinks these cyclists in Des Moines are crazy.  I’m just glad that road is repaired this year so I don’t have to worry about crashing in the ditch on my TT bike.


Yesterday, Stuart, Michelle, and I all finished the ride comfortably in the main pack. Michelle was pretty excited about not being dropped and the only girl left in the front pack at the end of the ride for the second week in a row. While I am always happy to finish in the front pack, I am never quite satisfied with a group ride unless I am in a breakaway. It just takes all the fun out of it for me. Tuesday night there wasn’t much action in the breakaway department but I did my best to try and create one. I had several breakaway attempts with short sprints over 1000 watts, with my max wattage at 1125 and my best 5 second average being 1034 watts. Nothing succeeded, but if I am not out there trying it just doesn’t make the ride fun for me. My average power for the ride was only 293 watts but my normalized power was 336.


Since Stu and Michelle are headed to New York City where Stu will race the NYC Tri on Sunday, this was their last Tuesday night ride until next summer. We celebrated a solid ride from everyone with a salad dinner at Palmer’s on Ingersoll. Michelle said if she lived down the street from Palmer’s she would be there everyday. Well, Michelle, Palmer’s will be waiting for you next summer with plenty of salad to refuel from the Tuesday Night World Champs.


Work Hard,




Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report



My 2009 season was off to a slow start, somewhat intentionally, somewhat haphazardly. My first “A” race of the season was slotted for the first day of summer (and Father’s Day), June 21, 2009, Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I did my homework on the event and spent a few days in early June at the race site familiarizing myself with the course and area. This would prove to be highly beneficial. I felt physically prepared for the race, and mentally ready to win.


I arrived in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday and my home stay, Rich Dunning, picked me up from the Spokane, Washington airport. I relaxed on Wednesday, did a TV interview on Thursday afternoon then Friday I had a great time at the Press Conference with Max Longree and Bryan Rhodes. I was feeling ready to race and couldn’t wait for Sunday.


Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4 AM then I had my breakfast of a Myoplex Lite bar, whole wheat bagel with Skippy peanut butter and Smuckers Simply Fruit jam, and some Catapult with a Gatorade Endurance mix. We left for the race at 4:45, parked the car, and then went to setup my bike. I was rocking the all red TYR track suit over my race kit, raising my mojo for the day. It was cold, cloudy, and windy. The lake had a lot of chop on it and I decided to stay out of the lake before the race so I wouldn’t get too cold before the start. I consumed a PowerBar Smoothie Bar, Rasberry PowerGel, and a Red Bull about 30 minutes prior to the swim start and changed into my Blue Seventy Helix Short Sleeve wetsuit. I was making a couple of rookie mistakes that I would later come to realize. In a choppy water race, always use the long sleeve wetsuit. In a choppy water race, minimize your food intake 30 minutes prior to the race. It was a tough call, I knew I would need the calories, but risked having too much in my belly during a rough swim. My swim start was great. It was fast and relaxed and I was right on Bryan Rhodes feet, exactly where I wanted to be. It didn’t take long before I started to get sick. I was nauseas and literally getting seasick during the swim. I was about to toss my cookies, and decided I had to back off my pace and let my stomach calm down. With 140 miles left of racing, I couldn’t afford to start losing all my nutrients in the swim. I backed off the pace and paid dearly for it. I was all alone in a choppy lake, no draft, no company, just me swimming and getting knocked about as I had a tough time sighting. I was finally out of the water but a solid 6 minutes behind the front pack out of the water and in 7th place. This was not the start I was hoping for, but there was nothing I could do about it except try to bike myself back into the race. I was riding the Red Rocket (my Specialized Transition) with a new Zipp Zedtech Clincher Disc and front Zedtech 808. My tire choice for the race was the Maxxis Cormet 700x23. I had my custom setup aerobars with the Profile Design Lightning Stryke looking super stealth. That is one nasty fast ride! To make me feel even faster and look a bit more intimidating I was wearing a new custom painted Specialized TT2 Aero Helmet. Jimmy Navarro painted my helmet to resemble the helmet of Marvel Comic’s Superhero, Thor. Since my great grandfather emigrated from Norway (land of the Vikings), I have always had a childhood love of Thor. Thanks to Jimmy, I was no able to ride with the power of Thor! I was tempted to ride really hard for a short while and see what ground I could make up, but thought the better of it and just decided to have a smart race and use my SRM powermeter to ride steady state watts so I could have my best ride while waiting for the others to come back to me. It was cold and cloudy so I was wearing arm warmers on the bike, and wearing yellow tinted L/Vatican Rooly sunglasses (put these babies on and it is like stepping into a tanning bed, instant light). I was still down quite a bit at the end of the first lap of the bike, but then I really started to gain time on the rest of the field, perhaps it was the Payday Bar I had at the start of the second lap. The bike course in Coeur d’Alene has 6200 feet of climbing over the 112 miles so there is no place to hide and those who went out too hard on the first lap paid for it on the second lap. By mile 70, I was in 2nd place behind Francisco Pontano. I wasn’t able to put any time on Pontano (a former pro cyclist in Spain) during the bike, and my slow swim was now keeping me out of striking distance on the run. I finished the bike with one of the fastest bike splits ever on the course. Now it was time for the marathon. I took the run out conservatively and used my Garmin 405 to help me pace my run. It is often hard to control the first few miles of the marathon since you have so much adrenaline and the pace feels so effortless. I kept the pace under control and settled into a solid 3 hour marathon pace. I used water only for the first 3 miles then started a PowerGel every 3 miles along with the Gatorade Endurance and water at each aid station. At mile 12 I had to switch to Coke and Water and keep my gels up. Mile 14 was special needs and I had a couple of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies and two cans of Red Bull stashed in my bag. Special needs is almost more of a little party for me during the marathon, a chance to eat some good food and get my wiings from the Red Bull. The Red Bull is really a life saver; it really does make you feel like you have wings and gives you the extra boost and focus needed to finish the back half of that marathon to the best of your ability. The crème pies are perfect to smash in your hand and shove the whole thing in your mouth while running letting it slowly dissolve before swallowing bit by bit so you don’t bombard your stomach. MMMM…Tasty! I was fluctuating between a five minute and ten minute gap behind Pontano but had a sizeable lead to the guys fighting for third. With 4 miles to go, I slowed the pace a bit so I wouldn’t blow up and cruised to the finish line. It was a solid second place finish at another Ironman.


I was disappointed with my swim on the day but proud of my effort to refocus and get back into the race on the bike and still run a three hour marathon. Since I am usually a front pack swimmer, a six minute deficit is unacceptable, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. Despite my slow start to the race, I came on hard and finished strong. I punched my ticket to Kona and now I will focus on a proper recovery so I can make the most of my race at the World Champs in October on the Big Island.


Work Hard,





Race Report

As a final tune-up race for Ironman Coeur d’Alene I raced the Copper Creek Sprint Tri. Since the race is pretty much in Des Moines, it was quick and easy. The race is a half Olympic distance sprint so 750m swim, 20k bike, and 5k run. I haven’t done any specific speed work on the bike or run so it is always fun to see what I have for speed during my Ironman training phase. It was ridiculously foggy in the morning so the race was delayed a little to let some of the fog lift off the lake. Copper Creek Golf Course and Lake are just east of Des Moines and the lake was once a gravel quarry, so it is one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the state. I was wearing my sleeveless Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit for the swim in the 69 degree lake. I was out in the swim quick and had Nathan White on my feet. I took a couple of buoys wide to see if Nathan would come around and pull for a while, but he didn’t want any of it. Around the last turn with just a short distance to the swim finish he pulled around me and swam right next to me then jumped out of the water in front of me. I quickly passed him in T1 and was on the Red Rocket (my Specialized Transition) and hammering on the hilly 20k bike. The fog was so thick that I had to take off my Rooly L/Vatican sunglasses. I couldn’t see very far in front of me but it didn’t matter because I just put my head down and went.  I knew these roads well since I used to ride on them frequently. I saw I had a two minute lead on JJ Bailey, the next rider, at the turn around, so I could back off my pace just a little bit. I still rode hard but settled into a little slower pace. I came off the bike with a lead of over four minutes and started the run with Kelly Mente from Punk Rock Cycling leading the way. The run was tough, especially since I haven’t done any run work faster than 10mph while preparing for my Ironman. It didn’t really matter at this point because I didn’t have to run very fast. I thought about Mike Pigg telling Mark Allen he wouldn’t have to run so fast if he rode his bike faster. The run was still challenging with a lot of uphill on the way out towards the golf course before returning and finishing with a lap around the lake. I was comfortable finishing this race and gave it a solid effort. It was the perfect tune-up one week out from Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Nathan White finished second, Jason Maurice was third, and JJ Bailey was fourth.


Copper Creek was scheduled to go off last year for the first time but a nasty thunderstorm prevented the race from taking place, so this was the innagural event. It was really a top notch race for a local sprint and I would encourage as many people as possible to put this race on your schedule for next year. Thanks to everyone who put countless hours into making this race come true. I have been dreaming of a race at Copper Creek for years and it finally happened.


Now it is time to focus on my mental preparation for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. The hay is in the barn, now it is time to execute.


Work Hard,




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