Endurance Camps



I seem unable to get away from multi-sport! After trying to make a comeback from running, I found myself injured often and remembered why I got into multi-sport in the first place! So I'm back swimming, biking and running again and so far, doing it healthy. No plans of racing quite yet....However, I started a new business. Endurance Camps. I plan on changing the way camps are done throughout the US. Follow along at the blog over there!

Also, like us at:


If you're a coach and have experience running camps, we are looking for you (paid position)! Please submit your resume at endurancecamps@gmail.com

I will continue to update this site occasionally with training and MAYBE a little racing. 

Baby Steps

Throw back to the Dirt Dog Series
For the past five years, I've dedicated a big part of my life to triathlon. I never thought I would slip back into "out-of-shape James." Multi-sport just becomes who you are, your identity and your lifestyle. Looking back on it, I ask myself what made me completely stop and walk away? I think it was a multitude of things. Burnout, job promotion, accomplishing goals, boredom, time constraints - the list could keep going but I think those are the big ones. It all happened naturally too. After my Ironman, I felt like I did everything I wanted to do in the sport. Sure, I wanted to go to Kona, but after IMCDA I realized I didn't really...As soon as I finished, I felt complete, I felt closure and I all of the sudden didn't care about the result but how much stronger of a person it made me.

It wasn't by plan to stop completely though. I took a few weeks off, swam & ran a few times but it just didn't feel the same. Still tired I thought, wait a few weeks. Eventually I figured it out that I had no more interest in competing at triathlon at a high level (using that term loosely). Fast forward eight months and here we are! Time to see how fast I can get in running now. I'm definitely taking baby steps in getting back in shape. I've been greeted with a ton of scar tissue, calf aches/pains and soreness from years of running and then the past five years of triathlon abuse. I'm being patient though, trying to avoid injury and lose some weight so I can actually start running without an extra 10-15 pounds hitting the pavement. 

My coach has me doing a lot of sprints and fartleks to inject some speed back into my legs. Something I haven't seen since my collegiate / post collegiate days. I'm starting to find out that there is some life still in there. And as out of shape I am, I'm still seeing 4 mile tempo runs at 6:20 pace which is no where near I want to be, but right now - ahead of schedule. 

I imagine I'll be hitting the track this summer at USATF's all comer's track meets in San Diego. This should be a blast. Just a great chance to get on the track, have some fun and use them as little workouts for the big picture. Fall will be the Dirt Dog Series which is basically the local adult cross country season. I haven't raced these races since I first started getting back into shape, back in 2010, even blogged about them back then HERE. Fun to look back on those old blogs of getting back into shape. It's almost the same story right now as I read them. Calf issues, loosing weight, being upset with results...haha. Some things don't change! The cool thing about this go around is I'm so much more mature now and have such a better head on my shoulders. I was impatient and cared way to much about results and sponsors instead of just living in the moment and progressing mentally and physically as an athlete. 

I'm excited for things to come. Bo (baby #3) is due an day now. Track season begins next month. I live in the heart of San Diego. Life is good.

I'm back!

Wow, what a break this was. My last post was IMCDA in July of last year - can't believe it took me that long to blog again. To be honest, I can't believe I AM blogging again here. I convinced myself that I was done with endurance sports and Love the Hurt. A lot has happened since my last post. I needed a break from it ALL. I got way to wrapped up into triathlon and both my mind and body needed this break. So what have I done this whole time?

1. Sold my Slice, bought an EVO
2. Sold our home in Temecula and live back in San Diego now.
3. Baby #3 is due in 2 weeks!
4. I drank a lot of delicious craft beer.
5. I gained 15 pounds (see #4).
6. I've swam maybe 10 times since IMCDA with half of those within the past few months.
7. My riding habits are sporadic, but when I do ride, I sure love that EVO.
8. My running has been a roller coaster. 1 month off, 1 month on, 2 months off, 1 week on...etc
9. I raced the Ragnar Relay in April.
10. I hired a running coach three weeks ago and am going "all in" to see what I can do in running.

So here I am, back blogging. I shut down "Kona Journey" and transferred all those blogs over here so I apologize for all the pictures missing from basically all of last year. I did go back and insert IMCDA pics though, that one was special to me. I've told a lot of my friends that I am a stronger person from that race. Even though it didn't pan out like I expected, I overcame so much during those 11 hours and now I take that race with me in everyday life. When I feel like something is hard, I fall back on that race. It made me a better man and I am thankful I went through that experience.


Now what? Time to run! Who says you still can't run fast in your 30's?? I love to compete and I happen to be good at running, so why waste that? The long-term goal is to break 2:30 in the marathon. It may come quick, it may take some time but I want to break it as badly as I wanted to break 4 minutes in the mile 12 years ago. It's going to be a gradual build - first thing is to get some speed back on the track. Mile, 5k, 10k most of the rest of this year with maybe a half marathon at the end of the year.

Not going to lie. Getting back into shape sucks. Carrying around this extra weight and trying to get my running legs underneath me without being sore ALL THE TIME is brutal. But I know it's part of the process. It's one of the reasons why I hired my coach. He's big on the mental approach which I love and believe in. I already know how to coach myself and what workouts to do to get me fast but it's so important to introduce new training methodologies and have a coach to hold yourself accountable - which is exactly what he is doing, good stuff.

Well, thanks for reading - I plan on posting each week like I always have. This blog has been so cool to be able to look back on. I got a message months ago that told me my blog helped someone quit drugs and get into triathlon. It absolutely blew my mind. Words are powerful. Be bold and share your story, you never know who it might impact or inspire.


Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

3200 miles were driven and 140.6 miles were raced and it will go down as the two best weeks of my life. Granted, I did not qualify for Kona but as many of my friends and team mates have pointed out, the journey is what made the whole experience special, not necessarily the race and it is so true. Even my dream wedding and honeymooning in Australia for two weeks 10 years ago did not compare to the epic road trip I did with my wife and two kids topped off with a "dreamlike" vacation from the vacation in Las Vegas with some amazing people. Wow. Where to begin! Since this is a triathlon blog, I'll stick to the race...

We left Wednesday night to stay in Vegas for a night to avoid the dreaded SoCal traffic. We then headed to Park City, UT the next day to stay with some friends and get a quick glimpse of the beautiful mountain resort town. Thursday we drove to Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful and then drove to Missoula, MT for the night. Between Montana and Yellowstone, we saw some of the most beautiful parts of this country I've ever seen and I've been to every state except five. Breathtaking! Friday we finally arrived in Coeur d'Alene and although it was beautiful it didn't compare to what we just witnessed the day before! The city of Coeur d'Alene seemed like the whole good side of the street/bad side of the street. We were very unimpressed until we got around the resort and Ironman check-in area which was amazing.

Friday and Saturday was very low key. Check in, pre-workouts and getting around were very easy and simple. I was able to spend a lot of time napping, hydrating and staying off my feet. Come Saturday night I felt very rested and very hungry to leave it all out there the next day.

2.4 mile swim: 1:21:02 (2:05/100 yd pace) 141 out of 316 in AG

The day before the race I swam in the lake Coeur d'Alene choppy waters and wasn't so concerned. I've swam many times in Vail lake (local) which is always choppy and over the past month I've swam at La Jolla cove which can also be choppy. Well race day the wind was kicking pretty good. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the lake. We basically had to swim straight into it, make the turn home and then do it again. I told Flanny the day before that if he saw a 1:15 swim split to not be alarmed because I knew it was going to be a slow swim and I was not going to fight through it and potentially ruin my race. It was a "self-seeded" start so I ended up going in the second wave (1:00-1:15) group. There's no delay in between the waves, it's just a rolling start. It was definitely the most violent swim I've been in. Between getting a shiner on my forehead, swam over, and knocked around. I also had trouble siting -- whenever I tried a wave was blocking the buoys. I've learned over the past 4 years of doing triathlons that the best way to get through these kind of swims is to just relax, not force it and actually just smile. So that's what I did. Just took the punches and swam as strong as I could.

I hit the first lap in 36 minutes and was on pace to break 1:15. I was pretty disoriented when I got out of the water to make the turn to go back in. The waves and chop can really make you dizzy. I definitely felt the fatigue going into the current again on the second lap and could tell my pace dropped. I just did my best to get through it and not get overly concerned about it. I knew historically if you swam around 1:15 you still have a shot of a Kona slot. When I saw 1:20 on my Garmin when I came out, I just knew it was time to get to work and figured with my run - a 1:20 wouldn't take me out of the race.

T1: 4:46

First time experiencing the whole Ironman tent changing room. The volunteers were amazing. Got me out of my suit, my bike bag, sun screened me up, went pee #1 of the day and I was on my way.


112 mile bike/4500ft of climbing: 5:42 (AVG 19.6 mph) 46th in AG

The temperature was actually perfect. I went with no arm warmers and felt great. It was the wind that hurt me. It seemed like it continued to pick up momentum as the bike went on. Strong winds for my slender frame really took me out of the race. Based off of the last 8 months of using power, Flanny and I decided 190NP was going to be my magic number to ride a 5:00-5:15 bike split. With all of the intervals, hills, long days, short days etc...we had no doubt that the bike would be a huge advantage for me and I'd be able to run off the bike holding that power and crush this course. Well I held 189NP and rode 5:42 haha. You can check out data HERE. The only variable we couldn't factor in was the wind. I stayed very aero the whole race and did my best to fight through that wind but it just ended up being a day that favored the power riders. The ones that didn't get blown over by the wind on the bike and the ones that could power through the chop in the swim. HOWEVER. I still felt like I was in the race. My biggest maturity in triathlon over the past few years is that I learned times mean nothing in triathlon. There are so many variables in long course that your S,B,R times really don't mean anything nor do they tell the story of the race.

So I just kept eating and drinking, nailing my nutrition plan. I peed three times on the bike and never felt hungry or thirsty. I finally started feeling my efforts for the day right at mile 100. I fought to stay at 190 watts for the last 10 miles which tells me that Flanny's plan was spot on. Hard enough to question whether or not I could run off the bike but no cramping, GI issues or dreading the run. Even coming in at 5:42, I had a feeling that a lot of people's splits were slow so I still didn't throw in the towel, I knew I had work to do!

T2: 3:13

Again, the volunteers were awesome. Found my bag right away, slipped on my shoes, took another pee and off I went!





26.2 mile run/1500ft of climbing: 3:43 (AVG 8:31 pace) 36th in AG

Again, after months of training data - Flanny and I decided that 7:15 pace was going to be the magic number for me. Data found HERE. I got off the bike and that first mile felt a little bit weird. It just took some time to get my running legs off of me. I carried a flask of nutrition and just sipped on it while refueling it at each aid station with whatever sounded good. After the first mile, 7:15's became effortless and I knew I was going to have a good run. I just stayed on top of my nutrition, picked a stronger runner ahead of me in the distance and just worked my way up to them for the pass while staying on my own pace. It's a 2 loop course, basically go through a neighborhood, up the long hill and back x2.

The first lap (1/2 marathon) I was enjoying myself. Smiles, giving some fist bumps to the awesome house parties going on and just clicking off the miles. As I went through the first loop I saw my family, gave them a wave and saw that I clicked off a 1:34 half. Right on pace! Then like almost clock work the next mile I started getting some serious taste fatigue. Everything I tried to eat or drink I just spit it out. I tried drinking a lot of water and eating some pretzels to rinse my palate like I was drinking wine or something but with no such luck! I just gradually started bonking. Whenever I tried to force food down I felt like I wanted to puke. Not because of GI issues but because of the sweet food/taste fatigue I had going on. Everything was just gross. Sweet, salty - didn't matter. So my great pace eventually turned into a slow jog. I just did my best to keep form and stay positive. Those last 6 miles ended up being one of the toughest things I've ever been through. I was so stubborn and refused to walk and just forced myself through it.

Ironman isn't easy. These past several months haven't been easy. So when I arrived to that long finish chute it was almost like my mind just replayed pictures and videos of all of the good and bad in my life leading up to this race. I choked up big time. When you are in a lot of pain you become very vulnerable. With each step and high five I gave heading into the finish I was very proud of myself. Not just of the race but the entire "Kona Journey" that I've been on over the past year. It took every ounce of discipline mentally and physically to get there and even though it hurt that I did not qualify, when I crossed that finish line - that wasn't what was on my mind. My family was there and as I looked at their faces with watery eyes, I looked up into the sky and became an Ironman.


Final Result: 10:55:01, 36th in AG, 161st overall.

Thank you all for the amazing kind words and encouragement; this was truly an experience that I will never forget.

Thanks for reading-

video


Final Thoughts

You always hear people say how fast time flies. Ironman training has been in full effect since January and I can tell you first hand that the time DID NOT fly by. It wasn't easy by any means and these last six months took everything I had both physically and mentally. I'm running on fumes and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally toe the line and then cross that finish line next week at Ironman Coeur d' Alene. The time discipline I've had to exercise over the past few months has been beyond difficult but I managed to get through it.
Here's my workout totals since January (25 weeks):

Swim: 187,643 yards / Avg: 7,505 yards/week

Bike: 2,825 miles / Avg: 113 miles/week

Run:  563 / Avg: 22.5 miles/week

Average weekly hours training: 12.3 hrs/week

So for your typical Kona qualifier hopeful, this doesn't seem like a lot of volume. However, the quality is what has been important. Juggling family/work life with training hasn't been easy but I go into this race very confident in my abilities and still think I have a shot at qualifying as long as I execute perfectly. So how do I qualify? Well, historically at IMCDA a 9:30-9:45 in the 35-39 AG and/or top 5 will get you the beloved KQ not to mention a spot on the podium. How does that break down for me? I debated whether or not to post this, but I've let you all in on my journey, I may as well put myself out there and share what Flanny and I think I am capable of (as long as everything goes right - which I understand is the hardest thing about Ironman!).

2.4 mile swim goal time: 1:05-1:10 (1:32-1:39 pace). With the rolling start last year, IMCDA saw really fast times. I've done a lot of open water swims leading up and even a 4000 yd straight swim which showed me I'm more than capable of swimming in this timeframe.

112 mile bike: 5:00-5:10 (21-22mph). Course has 6k of climbing which really suits my strengths. Goal is to hold 190 watts (NP). Over the past several months I've held 190-200 watts (NP) for 5-6 hour rides and finished with a solid run with no problem. As long as I can stay true to my plan on the hills and not burn any matches, I should be capable of this kind of ride.

26.2 mile run: 3:10-3:15 (7:15-7:30 pace). So Flanny's magic number for me is 7:15's. As easy as it is on tired legs in training, I've never duplicated it for 26 miles after a long day. As long as I fuel properly and absolutely go beyond my comfort zone - 7:15's should absolutely be possible for me.

Total time ~9:30-9:45

It always comes down to the run in Ironman. Doesn't matter how fast you swim or how well you ride, can you execute a marathon on tired legs? A lot of that comes with your ability to suffer on the run. It can be learned but there is no doubt that the true runners have a huge advantage in Ironman. I'm hoping to utilize it.

Are these high expectations for my first Ironman? Not if you have prepared properly and I believe I have. We'll find out on Sunday! You can track me Bib #174 at Ironman.com

I want to really thank my beautiful wife Amy for really supporting me through this process. It hasn't been easy for her either. I get a lot of credit for being able to juggle all that I do but there's no doubt that she does SO MUCH. She really sacrificed a lot so I could train and fulfill this dream I have had and she never complained once. I am truly lucky to have her and couldn't do any of this or be the man I am without her.

I want to thank Flanny again for EVERYTHING. You can read about it HERE. Also thanks to James Walsh who also played a big part of me being competitive in triathlon.

I want to thank Wattie and all my Wattie Ink teammates for the crazy amount of support, fun and family environment you've given me. #OG

Thanks to Wattie Sponsors: Herbalife, Powerbar, Reynolds, Blueseventy, Spidertech, Rudy Project, ISM, Speedfil, 10 Barrel Brewing, TriBike Transport, 454 Tattoo, Hypoxic, Rev3 and Wildflower.

Thanks to my personal sponsors: The Bike Shop (thanks for everything Rick!), SRM, e21, SportMulti.

And lastly, thanks to all that have followed along on my journey. Whether it be on this site, Kona Journey, at Lava Magazine or years prior to this at Love the Hurt. I've had so many messages, emails and voices of support over the years and I can't thank you enough for it.

TIME TO RACE!

 

Guest Post II: Coach Robert "Flanny" Flanigan

Before I get to coach Flanny’s blog post, I think it’s important to try to explain in writing how physically and emotionally hard it was to finally arrive here. In reading Flanny’s post I had to fight back tears. He went WAY above and beyond what a typical coach does for you. He held my hand though the thick and thin. Took my calls and texts from different time zones to make sure I was alright. You see, I’ve never been much of an emotional person. I’ve always been really grounded and strong (so I thought). Ironman training has changed that in me. It’s broken me to pieces, it’s forced me to get back on my feet and it’s left me standing tall and proud whether I have a good race or not.

There’s always been this emotional wall I’ve put up my whole life. Every ridiculous hard workout Flanny threw at me when I was physically and emotionally drained from training, career and life – slowly broke down that wall. “Why an Ironman?” is the question I’ve been asked so often leading up to this race. This is why. It’s been life changing and turned me into a better man. A man that falls down and gets back on his feet holding a stronger ground day in and day out.

It truly has been a journey that I will never forget.

Guest Blog post: Coach Robert “Flanny” Flanigan, Owner - Central Virgina Endurance and Black Dragon Racing.
www.centralvirginiaendurance.com
www.facebook.com/blackdragonracing.com

With just a few days until the gun fires at the 2014 edition of Ironman Coeur d’Alene I wanted to step back to reflect and comment on the preparation James has put in since the decision to pursue Ironman was made late in 2013. 

From the very beginnings of the preparation for this season, one concept was reinforced to James almost every time we spoke. The concept of consistency. The season needed to be looked at as a very long book with each of the pages being individual workouts, each chapter being a cycle (block), and the entire book being the work done to prepare for race day. Success or failure would not be determined by the individual pages of the book, but would be determined by the overall volume of the book. Getting the workouts in day after day, making the right decisions, and being consistent would be the keys to unlocking the physiological adaptations needed to accomplish the goals James had set.

For those familiar with James and his personal situation, consistency would not prove to be as easy as it sounds. As a committed family man, businessperson, and lastly an athlete the life demands took a toll on James throughout the process. This is where the value of the coach-athlete relationship comes into play and makes a huge impact. Coaching is not about training plans. Any educated and intelligent person can eventually throw together workouts and call it a training plan. It’s everything else that makes up coaching. Helping an athlete navigate the insanity that can be life while staying on track to achieve peak performance and meet their goals. The preparation period for this race threw everything it had at James ranging from illness and unexpected lows to career advancement and unexpected highs. James and I stayed very closely connected throughout the entire process and were able to course correct when the currents of life tried to push us off course.  The result was the consistency I had hoped for and preached since the start. Did we get to fill the book with as many pages as I had hoped or expected? Not really but we did get in all the key parts of each chapter, all the chapters, and the book is now complete.  We have indeed seen the adaptations we had hoped we would see leading into his first Ironman.

James will be entering this race in the best form and fitness he has ever been in, injury free, strong, fast, and most importantly with the support of his loving family. I cannot tell you how refreshing it has been to work with someone so fully committed to his family. In this sport I see many people willing to sacrifice so much to succeed and many times those that suffer most are the athlete’s family. While the goals James had set for himself were of great importance to him there was no question as to what sacrifices we would make in his preparation. Family always came first and we were all in agreement with that expectation. The sweaty hugs at the finish line will truly be a team celebration as they all took this journey together.

When James gets into those chilly waters at the start, he can do so knowing he is fully prepared to race Ironman and his only job is to execute his race plan, stay dynamic and adjust to the demands of the day, and enjoy the end of a long and rewarding journey. 

Good Days, Bad Days

Right now the bad days are definitely out weighing the good days but I'm trying not to let it get to me. I've accepted the fact that there will be days that I can't train. At first it really brought me down in the dumps. Training has a snowball effect on my brain for some reason. If I miss one day of training I am completely UNmotivated to train the next day (which you think the opposite would happen) and I just get depressed about the sport and convince myself I am out of shape and slow. On the flip side, whenever I have a good session or even better - 2 or 3 workouts in a day (rare lately), I can't wait to get up and train and my confidence is through the roof! Anyone else have this issue? It's been a battle with me over the past month to look at the big picture and not sweat a forced day off and realize that I have a great base under me and it's all about getting sharp and fast for IMCDA.

Deep down inside I know that I'm in great shape and that I'm capable of having a great race. It's going to be all about executing and learning as I go since this is my first IM. I'm really looking forward to traveling with the family and racing. Lately I've been spending maybe 30 minutes a/day with them M-F and it is killing me. I know the end is near and I can't wait to race and then taking a break away from triathlon. That break may be one month to get the house sold/buy another and then build into IM Worlds 70.3 in Canada or that break may be for 15 years so I can focus all of my energy and attention towards my family. I know it'll be possible to balance triathlon and life once I eliminate my long commute but I'm not sure if I want to do that. I may just buy a road bike and be a roadie for awhile, do some cyclocross or maybe see if I can pop a sub 2:30 marathon - who knows.

Here's a summary of last week's training which was pretty light but it was all I could do with such a busy week. I'm just going to post totals - don't think anyone was interested in specific workouts!

Totals (2 swims, 2 rides, 3 runs)
Swim: 6,500 yds /2:17
Bike: 93 miles / 6:04
Run: 26 miles / 4:00
Total hours: 12:20


Questions / Comments always appreciated!