Well graduation season is among us and I will be attending some graduation parties this spring. Most importantly, my girlfriend, Ashley, is graduating from Drake University Law School this weekend. As a side note, Ashley also just won the Lincoln, Nebraska marathon with a 2:50:06 (Awesome!). Since we are in the midst of graduation season I thought about the word degree and decided to look up the definition. Well here is the first definition and it seems appropriate: Degree noun
  1. any of a series of steps or stages, as in a process or course of action; a point in any scale.

The sixth definition is more common for graduation:  Degree noun

6. Education. an academic title conferred by universities and colleges as an indication of the completion of a course of study, or as an honorary recognition of achievement.


While Ashley is graduating and getting her Juris Doctor (JD) degree, I reflect on some sage advice my dad gave me when I was graduating from engineering school and interviewing for jobs; get a PhD degree. Now this is the not the type of PhD that my best friend, Scott Sibbel, is a candidate for at the University of Colorado (and hopefully graduating in December). This PhD is an acronym my dad uses while interviewing for new hires. PhD stands for Poor, Hungry, Driven. The PhD degree is really only a degree according to the first definition; it is really more of an attitude than an actual degree. A PhD degree is a series of steps in a course of action towards success. It is an attitude about work and success that is reflected in everything the candidate says and does. It is the attitude that success is the only possible solution and that no amount of work is going to prohibit this candidate from getting the job done. Doing whatever it takes…that is the PhD degree summarized. If your job requires you to work all weekend to get a project done, then so be it. If I promised a proposal to my boss at 4 PM on Thursday and I have to spend the night at work on Wednesday to make sure it gets done, then I’ll be drinking Red Bull and eating PowerBars while I crank through a proposal in the middle of the night.


When I left my job to become a triathlete I was right back at the bottom of the totem pole. I had to scrape and claw just to finish in the prize money. I was poor, hungry, and driven. I was living off a money market account I accrued while working. I knew I would be successful as a triathlete, but I had to pay my dues. I had to earn that PhD degree the hard way, by taking the necessary steps in a course of action towards my goal. Today I am still trying to pay my dues on the way to the top and I carry that PhD degree with me. I have several important steps along the way: I need to win an Ironman, I need to race more consistently, I need to learn all that my body is capable of performing, and I need to devise and implement a plan to win Kona. This is no small task but the attitude is the most important part of the process. If the attitude is there, the work will be more enjoyable, and results will be better appreciated.


I just started my final preparations for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I am in the midst of doing some tough workouts and long days. I have a very resolute focus right now on the process and I am counting down the days to the race. Enjoying the process is as much a part of job as performing on race day. Setting a goal, working as hard as you can to accomplish that goal, and then at the end of the night resting your head on your pillow knowing you put everything you had into achieving that goal, is the essence of the PhD degree. So while you attend some graduation parties this spring and maybe the parties of some people who spent enough time, money, and effort to get a PhD like Scott (or a JD like Ashley), remember the real PhD degree comes in the attitude. Take your PhD degree with you every day in everything you do, and know the result of what you are doing, SUCCESS!


Work Hard,




May 5, 2009


I had lot of travel in the past week, making the drive from Tucson back to Des Moines and then flying from Des Moines to St. Croix (via Dallas and San Juan, Puerto Rico). All the while I have been nursing some illiopsoas tendonitis (the psoas is a muscle that runs from the transverse processes of the lumbar spine and wraps around to the front of your groin and attaches at the head of the femur). Sitting is actually one of the worst things I can do for the tendonitis because the psoas is a bicep muscle (much like your upper arm) and when you are seated the muscle is flexed. I have been battling this tendonitis for a while and treating it with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and non-steroidal anti-inflamitories (NSAIDs). A great method for treating all sorts of aches and pains, but it also requires I treat the cause of the tendonitis not just the symptoms. I have been undergoing a rigorous stretching and strengthening routine along with regular chiropractic care to ease my over worked and apparently angry psoas muscle.

I am almost over the pain but Sunday in St. Croix, I didn’t do myself any favors. I came out of the swim in the second pack, which is already a bad day for me. I jumped on the bike and rode fine until I got to the BEAST which is a hill that is .7 mile long with 600 feet of climbing and a grade that ranges from 14% to 27%, not a small hill. Climbing the hill really put a strain on my low back (the origin of the psoas) making my tendonitis flare. I was mostly fine riding, but climbing was a problem and this was not the course to be having problems climbing. I had to back off my pace quite a bit and my wattage was pretty pathetic for race standards. I got off the bike well out of contention for the race and was already massively disappointed. I decided to start the run but took the extra time to put on some socks and get some nutrition in me. I knew I was running for a workout and not a race and just thought I would see how my psoas felt and work on my heat and humidity nutrition plan. I was fine running on the flats and even on the uphill but the downhill put a little too much strain on the tendon and caused a pretty intense amount of pain, so I walked. I walked a lot. I walked so much I decided I was going to pull the plug on the race and call it a day. I was actually walking back to transition to drop out after the first lap of the run when Bree Wee passed me. Bree is a friend from Kona, Hawaii, who I swam with while training in Kona last year. Bree convinced me to run the last lap of the run with her and she was not having a great day either but she was still in 4th place in the women’s race and trying to hold off some hard charging runners. Bree and I ran the last lap together (or mostly together) with minimal walking (until the very last downhill into town where I had enough) and lots of encouragement. I didn’t figure I was doing any more damage to my already inflamed tendon at the time and kept the pain management in check by walking when necessary. I was grossly disappointed with my race in St. Croix and Bree was disappointed with her 7th place finish as well but finishing felt good. Finishing always feels good. I can remember Peter Reid telling me a story about dropping out of races and some advice he received from a German superstar; if you finish the race your legs will hurt for a week, if you drop out of the race your head will hurt for a month. Crossing a finish line always feels good.


If I was a video game character from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, the beloved Little Mac, my energy level for most of the race would have been at 60%. For those that remember Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, you can relate 60% to being mostly “alive” in the game, but far from feeling perfect. At the end of the race, I was down to 20% or so and I had a few moments where I was flashing between full color and pink (which means you are about to get knocked down), and I even had a few moments walking where I was definitely hitting the B button as fast as possible so I could pick myself up off the mat before I was KO’d. While I was definitely knocked down by the Beast in St. Croix, I was down, but not out. I pushed on and finished the fight and I will live again to fight another day. It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life, and I’m feeling good.  The beast was like the boxing round with Soda Popinski, a tough and worthy adversary but still just one step in the process of boxing Mike Tyson himself. Well Kona is my Mike Tyson and my next stop in the game is qualifying for Kona and everyone knows if you want to fight Mike Tyson, you have to beat Super Macho Man. Ironman Coeur d’Alene is in 7 weeks and that is my fight against Super Macho Man where I will prove I am a competitor worthy enough to fight the great Mike Tyson and race in Kona at the World Champs. Super Macho Man beware: I am bringing all the fight, gusto, and strategy of a Mohammed Ali bout. I’ll call it the “Big Show in Idaho.” Maybe Don King can do some promotions. Before the bell rings, it’s time to get back to training (enter background music of ROCKY soundtrack…Gonna Fly Now by Maynard Ferguson).


Work Hard,




April 30, 2009


I made the cross country journey from my winter training camp base in Tucson, AZ back to my home in Des Moines, IA this week. It was a long drive but with some stops in Santa Fe and Boulder for training it was manageable. I arrived back home in Des Moines and my first day back, Ashley had purchased some donut holes. Now I enjoy a good donut as much as the next guy, but I am also quietly reminded of an unusual encounter while training with Doug Friman in Runaway Bay, Australia. We used to frequent the Coles Supermarket at night in search of closeout and discounted items. One of the items frequently discounted was the value packs of donuts. Doug was checking out the deal on the donuts when some old guy approached him and said, “Feed those to your enemy!” It seemed ironic at the time since we were there training for triathlon and this old guy approaches us out of the blue to give us advice on battle like he was a sage from Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Doug and I didn’t quite know how to take that advice but we decided not to buy the donuts and managed to make it the whole trip in Australia without once purchasing the discounted donut value pack. While I did have two donut holes when I arrived home in Des Moines it made me think about the big picture, how far I have come since that training camp in Australia, and how far I have left to go. It reminded me of this saying we had at work, “Keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.” While I consumed a couple of donut holes and was reminded of the sage advice to feed the whole donuts to my enemies, I thought it appropriate to keep the big picture in mind.


I left an engineering job at a Fortune 100 company, Alcoa Aluminum, in 2005 to pursue a career as a triathlete. While the economy has since tanked and most recently Alcoa was named number 90 on the Fortune 500 List (down for 80 last year) and posted a loss of 74 million dollars, one year in a company with a rich history like Alcoa is relatively insignificant. Alcoa is still the major player in the world aluminum market and the top US metal company. They are also one of the thirty components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is the stock market index you most commonly see on the news. One poor year and a 74 million dollar loss may seem like a lot but over the next 50 years, that should seem like a few crumbs from a donut hole. The goal for Alcoa, and most businesses right, should be to focus on the donut, the big picture of what is to come, how they can provide sustained growth and profitably. The same is true for my triathlon career. I had a rough start to 2009 in New Orleans but my focus is on the whole donut, not the donut hole. I am on a plane right now to St Croix where I will have my second race of 2009 as I look to improve my racing and performance. The goal is to hone my skills, practice what I need to do in order to be the best triathlete in the world. Experience is crucial, and racing the best competition and toughest conditions is what makes World Champions. The donut is Hawaii and if I want to succeed in Hawaii I have to keep the focus on Hawaii and doing what is necessary to perform well and win at Hawaii. This means racing tough courses in heat and humidity, working on my nutrition to fuel my body in those conditions, and teaching myself how to push beyond my limits. St. Croix is another step, a sprinkle if you will, off the whole donut of my triathlon career and I will make every calorie dense piece of that sprinkle count this weekend.  After all, sometimes the sprinkles are the best part of the donut and I intend on making this stop one of my favorites.


So as I avoid donut holes (replacing them with PowerBar Recovery bars and Muscle Armor) and feed whole donuts to my enemies, I keep the big picture in mind, because if you keep your eye on the hole, you miss the real opportunities right in front of your mouth.


Work Hard,






Mammoth, Arizona is a small quaint town north of Tucson. It was once a bustling mining town but with the closing of the mines, Mammoth has a ghost town feel. From the old man who sells ammunition on the side of the road to the small Mexican cantinas and tortilla factory, Mammoth has a lot of culture. Highway 77 North, also known as Oracle Road, passes through the town of Oracle then Mammoth. The ride to Mammoth begins at an elevation of 2500 feet in Tucson and climbs gradually over 40 miles to the elevation of 4500 feet in Oracle then drops down to 2200 feet over the last 12 miles to Mammoth. This pyramid elevation ride is nice since it has both a gradual false flat climb and nice 12 mile 5% grade climb out of Mammoth on the way back to Tucson.


Wednesday I had a friend from Seattle, Jeff Crosby, in town to train with me. Jeff and I headed out to Mammoth early in the morning and made great time on the way out. We stopped at the Circle K in Mammoth and refueled then started on the 12 mile 5% grade climb back towards Oracle. We had just crested the top of the hill when we rode through a huge swarm of bees. I found myself swatting and flinching like a scared little girl. Truth is, I was scared. The bees were thick and there must have been a thousand of them. I even took my helmet off to make sure I got all of them off of me. I guess there is a first time for everything. It was a warm day, about 92 degrees farenheit, and we had to make an additional stop on the ride home to keep the fuel level topped off.  We made it back home after 103 miles of riding in 5:15 of riding and 5:48 of total accumulated time including stoplights and pit stops for fuel. My average power was 203 watts and my normalized power was 226 watts. While one of the best things about Mammoth is the food at Cassandras or Las Michocanas, I was short on time this week to get to swim practice by 3:45 PM after taking Jeff to the airport. If you get the chance, stop and enjoy a breakfast burrito or some enchiladas while making the trek to Mammoth.


I dropped Jeff off at the airport at 3 then went to Hillenbrand Aquatic Center for FORD practice. I went through the regular dry land routine which included 3 sets of 10 pull-ups, med ball tosses, abs, bridges, and stretch cords. I was in the water at 4:30 and we had a monster main set of 6x500 yards on 6:00 descending 1-3 then 4-6 followed by a 300 easy then 6x200 yards odds easy even hard on 3:00 followed by a 300 easy, then finished the main set with 6x100 yards on 1:30 best average with fins and paddles and 300 cool down. This was a monster set of 5700 yards and the total yardage for the practice was 7800. That makes one Mammoth day.


For those interested in my wattage on the intervals up Mt. Lemmon this week:

SRM #1:

Duration:                15:01

Work:                     331 kJ

TSS:                       26 (intensity factor 1.019)

Norm Power:          367

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   8.85%

Pa:HR:                   7.27%

Distance:               3.588 mi

Elevation Gain:      909 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    4.8 %  (909 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    271       523       367       watts

Heart Rate:            109       161       151       bpm

Cadence:               68         106       88         rpm

Speed:                    9.8        19.9      14.3      mph

Pace                       3:01      6:09      4:11      min/mi

Altitude:                  2949     3858     3396     ft

Crank Torque:       246       552       355       lb-in

Temperature:         84.2      89.6      86.8      Fahrenheit

SRM #2:

Duration:                15:01

Work:                     331 kJ

TSS:                       26 (intensity factor 1.019)

Norm Power:          367

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   6.21%

Pa:HR:                   5.37%

Distance:               3.633 mi

Elevation Gain:      925 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    4.9 %  (932 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    301       546       367       watts

Heart Rate:            129       172       163       bpm

Cadence:               75         106       86         rpm

Speed:                    9.8        22.9      14.5      mph

Pace                       2:37      6:07      4:08      min/mi

Altitude:                  4003     4928     4443     ft

Crank Torque:       275       486       362       lb-in

Temperature:         80.6      87.8      85.3      Fahrenheit


Work Hard,



GO BIG or GO HOME! And sometimes go big then go home…





I arrived in New Orleans late on Friday night after my flight from Denver was delayed. It was a long travel day for me and even longer when I had to wait for luggage and a rental car for an inordinate amount of time. I checked into my hotel for the weekend, the InterContinental in downtown New Orleans. It was a lavish 4 Star Hotel with great amenities and I was upgraded to a suite for the weekend. Nice perk. Saturday morning I met Robert Murphy, Stephanie Pearson, and Jay Prasuhn for a short photo shoot outside my hotel. I had lunch with Jay then went to pick up Ashley at the airport before the pro meeting. I went back to the hotel and prepared my bike and kit for the race then took out the bike for a short spin to test everything and make sure it was in perfect condition, sometimes I get a little too paranoid about the mechanics of my bike, but I like to keep the Red Rocket riding perfectly. I had dinner with Jay and Ashley at a New Orleans restaurant and had some pasta with grilled alligator (don’t see that on the menu everyday). It was a great meal and fuelled me well. Race morning, I awoke at 4:30 to my alarm clock playing Hells Bells from AC/DC. I had my protein bar and bagel with peanut butter and honey along with my prerace liquid fuel mixture. I was running a bit late because the valet took super long to get my car for me. I arrived at the race early enough to set up my bike in transition and then jog with Tim O’Donnell to the swim start. We were both a little rushed in the morning and didn’t have a ton of time and I didn’t get in my full and proper warm-up but sometimes that happens and you just roll with it. It was extremely humid in the morning and I was sweating bullets anyway. It was an in-water start with the water about waist deep. I started on the far left of the swim, which is where I always like to start. The inside track was a bit shorter and those swimmers were off to a faster start. It didn’t take long for a small gap to open up and soon I was in the second pack but still amongst the players in the race and not too far back from the leaders. I exited the water next to Macca and knew I was fine for positioning. I hopped on my trusty Red Rocket and was off to the races. It didn’t take me long to bike into the lead and I was feeling awesome. I haven’t felt this good on the bike in a race in a very long time. The feeling was incredible. I was pushing big watts and felt smooth and comfortable. I was sweating quite a bit because of the high humidity and would need to make sure I compensated for the extra sweat. I rolled through the first aid station in first place and didn’t receive a replacement Gatorade bottle from the very short and ill-equipped aid station. This was a big mistake on my part not to stop and actually grab another bottle. I can’t afford to continue a race like this without constant fuel intake. I would use the gel I had on my bike to make it to the next aid station where again I was first through the station and this time I actually did have to stop my bike to get a bottle. It is totally unnecessary to stop your bike in most races but this being a first year race, the aid stations were not prepared for what was coming. I needed fuel and had I continued without stopping for fuel the results would have been much more disastrous. Once I had another bottle of Gatorade and some more water I quickly drank the whole 20 oz of Gatorade and then started to work on the water. I was already digging deep in the reserve well and knew I was going to have a tough time coming back from this one. I cooled the pace just a little to conserve some energy, but by the time I rolled through the third and last aid station, I was out of gel, water, and Gatorade and was only given a replacement Gatorade bottle. I quickly consumed that bottle as well and had to suffer the last parts of the bike with no fuel. Macca passed with me about 6 miles to go and asked for a gel and unfortunately I was out of everything at that time. I slowly made my way to T2 and right before the end of the bike, Brent McMahon caught me. I still had a very fast bike split, just not what it should have been. I was also in a good position to finish high in the race overall. I was not however, in a place to finish the race well in regards to fuel. I was already very low in the tank dipping into reserves and there was no aid station in T2. I grabbed my spare Red Bull in T2 and chugged it as fast as I could but that would not be nearly enough. I needed water and lots of it. My first three miles were slow but I held my 4th place position. Mile 4 was rough and I started getting passed and I had to stop and walk a little. The first aid station on the run was at mile 1.5 and this was too far into the run for me. I had a severely messed up GI tract at this point and I had to stop and walk while I took in as much water as I could. After a few short walks, I kept on jogging and I hate to say I was ever jogging in a race but that is all that I could muster. I was reduced to the jog. I really wanted to drop out of the race because I felt so bad, but I didn’t think that was a good enough excuse and this needed to be a reminder of the pain you can experience if you fail to fuel properly. I won’t forget this feeling anytime soon. At the finish line I chugged 9, 16oz bottles of water and it still took me 5 hours to urinate after the race. That type of dehydration is dangerous. All in all, there were 3 aid stations on the bike (there should be one every 10 miles, or 5), and seven aid stations on the run (there should be one every mile on the run, or 13). This is inadequate for a hot and humid half ironman. There was also little food and no Coke at the stations. When you are bonking, you need some Coke and some salty food. I will make some changes to the amount of nutrition I carry on the bike and have prepared in T2 in the future. I can’t afford to feel this way again in a race anytime soon. I wanted to win this race and I was prepared to go for it on the bike. I wasn’t interested in holding back and trying to race for second or third or even fifth. The win was my objective and I went for it. I needed to pay more attention to my fuel intake and while I was not helped by the lack of aid stations and preparation from the race director, I cannot blame anyone but myself for failing to consume the proper food and water during the race. I went big and then I had to live with the failure of taking the risk and going for the win and coming home with nothing except my pride. It is nice knowing that I put myself in a position to win the race, but it is better to actually win the race. WIN or GO HOME, and that is exactly how it played out, next time I want to win before I come home. I enjoyed the course and despite being a logistical nightmare with point to point racing and downtown congestion, I think I will return to New Orleans for this race in the future. My splits for the race were as follows:


SWIM: 25:50

BIKE: 2:06:20

RUN: 1:37:19

Finish: 4:12:40


Complete results are available here: http://onlineraceresults.com/race/view_race.php?relist_record_type=result&lower_bound=0&upper_bound=25&new_group_size=25&use_previous_sql=1&group_by=default#racetop



Work Hard,




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