Tucson, AZ




While in Tucson, I always swim with the Tucson FORD Dealers Aquatics, also known as FORD. FORD is one is of the premier club swimming teams in the nation. Home to numerous national champions, national record holders, and Olympians, FORD is a demanding and expecting swim program. Roric Fink is the head coach and the assistant coaches are almost all former University of Arizona swimmers. Chris Trimble is the head assistant and also the distance coach so I spend a lot of time going through Chris’s toughest distance sets. While the most dedicated of the FORD swimmers meet for practice up to 10 times per week, I typically swim 4 days per week at the more intense afternoon practice. We swim at the beautiful Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Arizona. The facility has an outdoor (nothing beats swimming outside in January) 8-lane 50 meter pool that when set up short course is 18 lanes by 25 yards. There is a separate 25 meter pool attached to the diving well. There is always plenty of room for swimming and this pool is utilized for most of the day by either the University of Arizona, or the FORD Masters, Age Group, or Senior Teams.


I always enjoy my time swimming with the kids at FORD, and it has been a pleasure watching these kids grow-up swimming. I started swimming with FORD in the winter of 2006 and the kids that were freshmen in high school in 2006 are now seniors. These are some of the best high school swimmers in country and recently a foursome of 18 year-old boys just broke the national record in the 400 yard freestyle relay, 2:58.33.


Ford Aquatics-AZ 'A' 2:58.33

1) Price, Geordon G 17 2) Behm, Herbie M 18

3) Popov, Nick S 18 4) Chiaro, Anthony J 17

21.26 44.76 (44.76)

1:05.32 (20.56) 1:28.42 (43.66)

1:49.51 (21.09) 2:12.77 (44.35)

2:34.13 (21.36) 2:58.33 (45.56)


Geordan Price (44.76), Anthony Chiaro (45.56), Nick Popov (44.35), and Herbie Behm (43.66) were the first 18 year-old relay to break 3 minutes in the event. Geordan is undecided, Anthony has committed to the Air Force Academy, Popov will swim for the University of Arizona, and Herbie will swim at Tennessee. Check out the attached photo of these studs on the podium spraying a little water in celebration of the national record. Swimming with a team is important for motivation and competition and the kids at FORD give me plenty of both.

Tuesday night I did a distance swim-to-kick set with Sean Bourne who has committed to swim at UC Irvine next year. The main set was 10x400 short course on 5:15. We started with a straight 400 swim nice and easy then each succeeding 400 we had to do one more 25 kick. So the second one was a 375 swim and a 25 kick, still on the 5:15 interval. The 400’s looked like this:

1) 400 swim

2) 400 as 375 swim 25 kick

3) 400 as 350 swim 50 kick

4) 400 as 325 swim 75 kick

5) 400 as 300 swim 100 kick

6) 400 as 275 swim 125 kick

7) 400 as 250 swim 150 kick

8) 400 as 225 swim 175 kick

9) 400 as 200  swim 200 kick

10) 400 as 175 swim 225 kick


Total it was a 4000 yard main set with building intensity until I could no longer make the 5:15 interval send off. Without Sean there to push me this set would have been much more difficult but together the two of us really got the most out of it. The yardage total for the practice was 7200 yards in 2 hours of swimming. A typical day of training at FORD begins at 3:45 PM and starts with at least 30 minutes of dry land training including lots of pull-ups, med balls, core strength, and abs. We swim from 4:30 to 6:30 and usually put in somewhere between 5000 and 8000 yards or meters per session. These practices are fast and hard and really challenge me as a swimmer. I know after two months of training at FORD, I’m FORD tough, and it is all because of the coaches and other swimmers. Thanks!


For those interested in my latest trek up Mt. Lemmon, this week’s Wednesday ride up to Ski Valley saw another 2x15 minute threshold workout. I took the wattage to the higher range of my threshold this week and the SRM files are listed below. My total climb from mile marker 0 to the gates at Ski Valley was 2:02:46.







SRM #1:

Duration:                15:02

Work:                     330 kJ

TSS:                       n/a

Norm Power:          365

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   9.1%

Pa:HR:                   2.66%

Distance:               3.68 mi

Elevation Gain:      974 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    5.0 %  (974 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    295      600      366      watts

Heart Rate:            105      161      152      bpm

Cadence:               65        111      95        rpm

Speed:                    9.7       20        14.7     mph

Pace                       2:60     6:11     4:05     min/mi

Altitude:                  2986    3960    3456    ft

Temperature:         62.6     64.4     63.0     Fahrenheit

SRM #2:

Duration:                15:00

Work:                     327 kJ

TSS:                       n/a

Norm Power:          363

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   8.26%

Pa:HR:                   14.27%

Distance:               3.635 mi

Elevation Gain:      978 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    5.1 %  (978 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    240      573      363      watts

Heart Rate:            126      167      161      bpm

Cadence:               63        103      91        rpm

Speed:                    8.3       22.1     14.5     mph

Pace                       2:43     7:16     4:08     min/mi

Altitude:                  4131    5108    4609    ft

Temperature:         59        69.8     62.1     Fahrenheit



Tucson (Mt Lemmon), Arizona




Given the close proximity to Tucson, Mt Lemmon is a cycling necessity when in town. I try to ride Mt. Lemmon once a week, usually on Wednesday, but it varies depending on training partners. Starting at a city elevation of 2500 feet, Mt Lemmon rises into the sky at over 9000 feet. The road to the top of Mt. Lemmon (Ski Valley, yes there is a real ski resort there) stops about 8200 feet after roughly 27 miles of climbing at a gradual 5% grade. This type of grade combined with the nearly flawless asphalt make Mt. Lemmon prime for doing intervals. My favorite Mt. Lemmon set of intervals is 2x15 minutes of work at threshold with a 5 min recovery period in between reps. Wednesday, I headed out from Starr Pass and rode the 21 miles to the base of the mountain, where I stopped to calibrate my SRM and begin the work. I like starting my intervals at mile marker “0” so I can get in the best workout at the lowest elevation. Continuous climbing always makes the second interval a bit harder given you climb to about 5000 feet by the finish. I was super excited about my ride yesterday because my girlfriend, Ashley, was meeting me at the top for some Pizza and Cookies at the Cookie Cabin. The food at the top of the mountain in the small town of Summerhaven is always motivation to get to the top. There is the Cookie Cabin which is my favorite that specializes in very large cookies (Pumpkin Nut is my fav!) and homemade pizza, Mt Lemmon Café is famous for the slices of Pie and then the Mt Lemmon General Store has fresh made fudge (I have another story about a time I consumed a pound of fudge at the top of the mountain, a pound of fudge looks so small when you see it, but density matters). I always try to choose a food spot in advance of climbing to give me an extra incentive. This week it was back to the favorite because Ashley was in town. I told her to meet at the top at 11 AM. I knocked out a couple of solid intervals and for those interested in the data of the intervals check the bottom of the post. Nothing spectacular in the data; just a solid 15 minutes at threshold power

I rolled into the Cookie Cabin at exactly 10:58 AM and Ashley was about 3 minutes behind me. Nice timing. The climb from mile marker 0 to the closed gates at Ski Valley was 2:03, but the goal was not climbing fast, it was getting in the intervals then just having a nice aerobic climb to the top. I had my share of cookie and pizza at the top then started the descent. I didn’t know Ashley waited for me and was following me in the car, but it always help to have a car behind on the decent so cars don’t get too bold in attempting to pass. On the way home, Ashley and I met at FROST, the best Gelato shop outside of Rome. I scarfed a medium Peanut Butter/Banana gelato then finished the last 15 miles of the ride back to Starr Pass just in time to put my feet up before heading out to swim practice to knock out 5000 yards of swimming followed by an easy 3 mile shake out run with Ashley (after she returned from a 90 min Bikrahm Yoga Class at Yoga Vida). Wednesdays are typically a big day for me and I was glad to have Ashley in town with me to share in the spoils of a hard climb by indulging in some great food.  So, if life you gives you Lemmons, I suggest you make the climb to the top.




SRM #1:

Duration:                15:02

Work:                     323 kJ

TSS:                       24.7 (intensity factor 0.994)

Norm Power:          358

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   8.26%

Pa:HR:                   1.93%

Distance:               3.672 mi

Elevation Gain:      955 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    4.9 %  (955 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    142      457      358      watts

Heart Rate:            106      163      154      bpm

Cadence:               47        109      93        rpm

Speed:                    9.3       19.6     14.7     mph

Pace                       3:03     6:26     4:06     min/mi

Altitude:                  2913    3868    3374    ft

Crank Torque:       179      618      326      lb-in

Temperature:         68        69.8     69.0     Fahrenheit


SRM #2:

Duration:                15:00

Work:                     315 kJ

TSS:                       23.6 (intensity factor 0.972)

Norm Power:          350

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   8.89%

Pa:HR:                   12.84%

Distance:               3.54 mi

Elevation Gain:      938 ft

Elevation Loss:      0 ft

Grade:                    5.0 %  (938 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    220      496      350      watts

Heart Rate:            127      166      161      bpm

Cadence:               60        109      93        rpm

Speed:                    9.3       21.4     14.2     mph

Pace                       2:48     6:29     4:14     min/mi

Altitude:                  4058    4997    4519    ft

Crank Torque:       203      558      321      lb-in

Temperature:         68        75.2     70.5     Fahrenheit


The 2010 Cliff English Elite Squad Training Camp in Tucson, Arizona is off to a great start. Check out the stite for more on the training we are doing and the squad. I posted a new video of the camp introduction in my video section.

Work Hard,



2/15/09 I AM SPECIALIZED.com
9/21/08 Check out my new Hubbell Home in Des Moines at www.midtownheightsdm.com
9/6/08 Check out the October Issue of Inside Triathlon for a feature of TJ or check out the  PDF of the article here: Inside TRI feature Page 1...Page 2...Page 3...Page 4
7/20/08 TJ finishes 14th at Vineman 70.3
7/12/08 TJ places 13th at Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis, MN
6/15/08 TJ finishes 11th at Ironman Kansas 70.3
6/8/08 TJ DNF's at Eagleman 70.3 due to a tire puncture 20 miles into the bike. First time wearing number "1" at a major and first tire puncture in a race. Eagleman has lots of firsts
6/1/08 TJ misses Pigman Sprint due to stomach virus
5/22/08 TJ will conduct a gear and apparel seminar at Scheels Sports in West Des Moines on Thursday 5/22/08 at 7:00 PM. Join TJ for a free seminar, autograph session, and free swag! Check out the poster here Sponsored by TYR and Scheels
5/18/08 So, you had a bad day! TJ DNF's at Florida Ironman 70.3 still not recovered from Ironman Arizona.
4/13/08 TJ finishes 2nd at Ironman Arizona, losing the race in a sprint finish by 18 seconds. His effort qualified him for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii
1/1/08 TJ starts off season with a six week training camp in Kona, Hawaii
MO For the month of MOvember I am growing my MO (slang for mustache) to Help Support Prostate Cancer to donate Hit the Button Above or visit: www.movember.com/donate My donor id is: 182617
11/10/07 Tollakson finishes season with an 8th place finish at Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL
10/13/07 Tollakson places 30th at Ironman World Championship
9/15/07 Tollakson claims TriHawks Triathlon in record time
8/26/07 Tollakson takes 3rd place at Ironman Louisville after leading the race for over 7 hours. His Herculean effort off the front all day netted him a qualifying spot for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this October
8/12/07 Tollakson wins his third Big Creek Triathlon title
7/22/07 Tollakson takes 3rd at Vineman Ironman 70.3 behind World Champ Craig Alexander and Luke Bell
7/14/07 Tollakson finishes 9th at Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis, MN
7/8/07 Tollakson makes it 5 in a row by breaking his own course record at the Cornman Triathlon in Gladbrook, IA
6/23/07 Tollakson claims fourth straight victory at Dutchman Triathlon (duathlon) with a 1:45:22
6/16/07 Tollakson breaks his own course record at Quad Cities Triathlon with a 59:45
6/10/07 Tollakson claims first "Major" at Blackwater Eagleman Ironman 70.3 with a six minute margin of victory over Australia's Richie Cunningham. Check out race coverage at ironman.com and triathletemag.com
6/3/07 Tollakson breaks course record at Pigman Sprint Triathlon outside of Cedar Rapids, IA
5/20/07 Tollakson finishes 6th at Florida Ironman 70.3 with the fastest bike split, leading the race for 2 hours.
3/31/07 TJ DNF's in California, not quite ready to race
2/24/07 Tollakson DNF's his first race at Ironman Malaysia after losing 12kg of body weight due to dehydration
2/4/07 Tollakson takes second at season opener in Australia
12/6/06 TJ Reports to Winter Training Camp in Runaway Bay, Australia in preparation for his Ironman Malaysia on February 24, 2007
11/11/06 TJ finishes a disappointing 23rd at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL.
8/26/06 TJ re-injures his back at the Chicago Triathlon and limps to the finish line. This one will take some time to recover from.
8/13/06 TJ takes second to David Thompson of Minnesota at the Big Creek Triathlon.
7/30/06 TJ takes 5th at Vineman 70.3, and led the race on the run to the turn around before triathlon legend Simon Lessing and two-time Hawaii Ironman Champion, Tim DeBoom ran him down.
7/11/06 TJ Finishes 10th at NYC Triathlon amidst a large rule violation scandal
6/23/06 TJ wins Dutchman Triathlon in Pella, IA posting a 1:54:50
6/17/06 TJ breaks his own course record cruising to victory at the Quad Cities Triathlon
6/16/06 TJ swims a 9:28 800m Free at the DMSF Birdland Invitational
6/11/06 TJ places 6th at Blackwater Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, Maryland
5/21/06 TJ finishes 6th at Memphis in May
5/6/06 TJ places 17th at his first attempt at Wildflower Long Course
4/30/06 TJ finishes 10th in a tough pro field at St. Anthony's after losing 2 minutes to the leaders in the water
3/18/06 TJ finishes 5th with a stacked pro field at Season Opener, Ironman 70.3 California, in Oceanside, CA.
11/05/05 TJ Finishes 10th at Treasure Island draft legal races bumping into 8th place overall in the Tri California Points Series.
10/01/05 TJ Finishes 2nd at Scott Tinley's Adventure in San Luis Obispo, CA, once again posting the fastest bike split
9/11/05 TJ Finishes 9th at Ironman 70.3 UK and qualifies for the 2006 Ironman 70.3 World Championship
9/4/05 TJ breaks away from pack at Boston ITU race and finishes 11 setting up Arturo Garza for second
8/28/05 TJ Posts fastest bike split at Chicago but finishes a disappointing 14th
8/14/05 TJ Wins Big Creek Triathlon breaking his own course record
8/7/05 TJ Places 26th at US Pro National Championships in Bellingham, WA
7/24/05 TJ places 6th at Boulder Peak Triathlon
7/11/05 TJ finishes first ITU draft legal race in New York City
6/26/05 TJ finishes second to Marcel Vifian in is first attempt at a half ironman at Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon in Lubbock, TX
6/18/05 TJ sets new course record at Quad Cities Sprint Triathlon
6/12/05 Tollakson Completes Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
6/5/05 TJ places second at Pigman Sprint Triathlon to David Thompson of Minneapolis, MN
5/22/05 TJ places 4th in tough pro field at Memphis in May posting the fastest Pro bike split and entering T2 in the lead
05/01/05 Tollakson wins season opener at Race for Sight in Columbia, MO, posting a 3 minute victory over professional Ric Rosencranz.
03/03/05 Tollakson fractures clavicle during training accident on the crit course at the Olympic Training Center
1/29/05 Tollakson named Triathlete of the Year by the Endurance Sports Awards an annual black tie awards ceremony held at Sea World in San Diego
1/15/05 TJ was accepted into the Short Term Program for the US Olympic Resident Triathlon Team and will be attending the winter training for 8 weeks in Chula Vista, CA at the Olympic Training Center. TJ was granted a two month leave of absence to attend the camp for February and March.
1/3/05 Tollakson named Triathlete Magazine's Amateur Triathlete of the Year. For pictures of the magazine articles click here.magazine cover
1/1/05 Tollakson named Inside Triathlon's Amateur Man of the Year. For pictures of the magazine articles click here
9/18/2004 Tollakson wins overall amateur national championships in Shreveport, LA. TJ used a smashing 55:04 bike split (fastest by over two minutes) to take the win.  Check out the race write-up at InsideTri.

9/9/2004 TJ was hit from behind on his bicycle by an RV traveling approximately 60 mph on a county road in central Kansas. He was taken to the emergency room and treated for road rash and contusions. TJ's 2004 Ironman Cannondale 5000 was totaled and he split is helmet in half from contacting the pavement. TJ will not race at NEMO on 9/12/04 but will attempt to race in Shreveport, LA on 9/18/04 for the Age Group National Championships.

8/29/2004 TJ wins the amateur division at the Accenture Chicago Triathlon by 3:50 over Andy Starykowicz of Long Grove, IL. Posting the fastest bike split of the day (Pros included), Tollakson won the race in 1:56:48.

8/15/2004 Tollakson sets new course record at Big Creek by 3:10 with a blazing 1:53:49. He had the fastest individual swim, bike, and run splits. Thanks to all the friends and family that supported T.J.'s effort at Big Creek.

08/01/04 Tollakson swims a 4:37.71 400 meter Free at Kansas Division I meet missing his Olympic Resident Team "B" time by .71 seconds
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