I'm racing pro again in 2018. I am also going to be more active in blogging this stuff. We had a baby, Beth and I decided to sell our house and build a new one, assumed more daddy duty, stopped coaching a swim team to do more dad stuff, and will - in turn - write more. I'm a dad/mom right now who races with PRO triathletes and I will write about my experiences here.
Thank you for support! Look for a new post in the next five days. Cheers and happy Thursday.
I leave this post with a bunch of pictures from the past half year.
Another top ten Ironman finish and in the money again. I'm a happy guy. I am making progress, and I can comfortably say that I am becoming a pro in the sport of triathlon. Over the past few years, I have felt like the age group guy who shows up to the pro meetings and then lines up and gets dropped in every race. This year, things are different and I'm starting to feel like this is where I belong.
So lets back up a little bit:
I did Ironman Boulder six weeks before this race while my wife was very, very pregnant. Then, on July 4th, she gave birth to an absolutely beautiful and amazing little baby girl. Makena Hope Laughery was born a little after 10am on the Fourth.
Beth or I will do a post about what the birth of our daughter meant to us, and about the struggles and losses we have gone through over the past five years
So in the weeks between Ironman Boulder and Ironman Lake Placid, I was living in a kind of blur. I raced an olympic two weeks after Boulder, then Makena was born, then did the Boulder Peak a few days after that, then was off to Lake Placid to race.
There was no real consistency or flow in my training. I was spotty at best and my hours were super low. I was hopeful that I didn't lose too much fitness, but I sure as heck knew that I didn't gain anything either.
The days leading into the race went like this:
I flew out with my Mother on Thursday before the race and got into Placid pretty late. My family has a lake house that we go to as a sort of family reunion/summer vacation spot every year around this time (two hours away), so it was natural that I chose to do Ironman Lake Placid in 2017 when they had a mens pro race. Beth and I have been wanting to have a second child for years and it just so happens that Makena was born a few days before leaving for this race. I committed to racing, thus I came out to do it.
I had an AWESOME few days with my mom in Lake Placid and had a bunch of great meals, some good walking time, and an all around good time connecting with my mom like I had not in quite a few years. Given the recent events in the birth of my second child, it was kind of a full circle experience. The importance of a mother in a childs life is incredible... Spending this time with her was incredible.
My son and father, along with my sisters family - who was going to stay a few weeks after at the lake house - joined us on Friday evening.
The morning of the 23rd came and I was up with my 3:01 alarm as usual. I had my own room for the night, and was able to get some good sleep. I spent the first hour of my day getting things ready and doing final prep for the race. I was in the car early and headed towards transition early with my dad.
My mom and son came to join before the swim start and was pretty bummed because my little boy seemed exhausted as heck. He apparently spent the night getting up with my niece and causing a little trouble. Aiden (my son) had a long day ahead and was already ready to go back to bed. I felt bad for the little guy.
Men pros went off at something like 6:25am. It was a non wetsuit swim and the lake was a comfortable 74 degrees. I have been struggling with wetsuits this year and was SO HAPPY that I did't have to deal with one during this race.
I got in a quick warmup as it was pretty cold being in the water and standing around. We listened to the national anthem, then we were off. I felt in control and settled into a group of three within the first ten minutes. At the first turn, I saw that I was swimming with Justin Daerr and Paul Ambrose. These were two guys that I was happy to be with and planned to stick with them until then end of that first lap. Going into the second lap, the swim was a mess. The age group race had started and we were in contact with tons of people of all ability that whole second loop. I did manage to stay with the group of two pro's for the remainder and exited the swim with them in 55+ minutes. I would put this as my second best Ironman swim this year behind my leading second pack 54 minute swim at Texas.
Onto the bike, my goal was to try to stay with Justin and Paul for as long as I could. It did not last very long. I had them in sight for maybe 15 or 20 minutes.
I had no real understanding of the difficulty of this course as I had not driven it before. I did know that there was a LOOOONNNGGG descent, then some flats, then a LOOOONNNNGGG gradual climb. We were to do that twice. As a guy who does not like to descend, this was not a great course for me to be on. I did my best to remain aero and keep speed as much as possible, but just lost time as I went. During the long climb back into Lake Placid, I kept my power high and did my thing to maintain place. after the first loop, I thought I could hit a bike split in the low 4:50's. This was discouraging as that is a slow bike split for me and I didn't know how fast other pro men were going.
The wind picked up on the second loop and during the out and backs, I was able to see that I was not losing as much time to many of the guys. I was not moving back spots as quickly as I thought. It was a long 112 miles on July 23rd as I came back into town in 4:59. I had not ridden that slow in an Ironman in many years, but looking at results it wasn't as bad comparatively as I thought.
I came into T2 with Daniel Clarke and was off onto the run.
The run in Placid starts going downhill, then hits a flat, then goes downhill again. I started the run in 11th or 12th place. The whole first lap was enjoyable for me and I moved up a spot or two coming back into town. I felt good, and the pace was consistent. I had not trained much outside since the race at IM Boulder, but this did not seem to affect my ability to feel good on the steeper uphill portions of the marathon. My biggest change in my treadmill training this year was that I was using incline for the first time ever. This may have been the difference.
The second loop came and went and I was only starting to fade in the last 3 - 5 miles. I was very suprised by my consistency on the run and very happy to have moved up to 8th overall by the end of the River Road portion. I crossed the line in 9:09:34 and ended my streak of sub-9 IM's. I was fine with that given the toughness of the bike course. I was off the next day towards the town of Inlet, NY for a few days of fun.
Though the timing of this race was not good, and I could have easily skipped it, I would not change doing it at all. Ironman Lake Placid was a great experience and a beautiful race. I look forward to doing it again someday.
Ironman Boulder went out the window two weeks before the June 11th race after I crashed my bike on a training ride coming down from Jamestown. To say that I was sad would be a huge understatement. The crash was pretty bad. After a car ride down to Boulder by a witness to the crash, then six hours at the hospital ER, I left in a sling, some stitches, and a diagnosis of a broken elbow.
I was unable to move that arm for a good 12 hours without pain. Not being able to crack your own pistachios is a tough thing.
It felt as busted as a broken bone should feel. BUT... over the next day, the swelling must have subsided and I was regaining mobility. I was back on my bike (trainer) the next day, then pushing back on the run right after that. I had it X-rayed again, and it showed no sign of fracture. So yeah - it was a miracle. Seriously... I was going to be able to do the race after all.
In between all of this, was the BolderBoulder 10k (my favorite day of the year) and my wife Beth's 40th birthday. We also were able to go down to Colorado Springs the weekend before Ironman Boulder to stay with my sisters family for two nights at the Great Wolf Lodge - an awesome hotel and indoor waterpark. These were some truly great early summer times that I will not forget.
Ironman Boulder Race week
I kept healing and was able to swim for the first time after doing the Bolder Boulder twice, and just before Beths awesome surprise party on Memorial Day. I was stiff, but knew I was good to go.
The week went by and I was sleeping in my own bed, not traveling, and therefore not really feeling the nerves of a traditional Ironman prep week. It was good and bad. The good is that I am sure it was lower stress on my system/body/mind, the bad is that my head was not really "in the game" like it probably should have been.
I was able to get myself a bit more together by the pro race meeting that happened on Friday. It always helps when you are in a room with the guys you have looked up to forever, and are talking about racing against all of them.
I need to note that I still feel a "how the f**k did I get here?" moment every time I step into one of those meetings, see my name on the pro start lists, etc... To be called a "pro" and to be racing in the pro field is still shocking to me. I never thought it would be possible.
I have my prep day video below. Take a watch if you haven't seen.
Ironman Boulder - Race
We had dinner at my parents house on Saturday night. I had my traditional beer and glass of wine, along with asparagus and a huge ahi tuna steak. I dozed off as early as possible - Im guessing it was about 8pm.
I'm always up with a 3:01am alarm on race morning. No different on June 11th. I went downstairs and had some cereal, and some rice leftover from the night before. I have been eating almost all solid foods before IM races and it's been working. My goal is always to get in 1500kcals total before the event starts. So... from 3 to about 6am, I try to eat a lot.
One of the perks of racing pro at the Boulder Ironman is that I got to drive directly to the Res with my wife instead of taking the shuttle all the way from Boulder High School. We can also bring our bikes the morning of, so that we don't have the stress of prepping it the day before, then leaving it there over night.
Getting to the Res in the morning, we had the discouraging news that the water temp was 69.5 (or close to that) degrees and that it would be a wetsuit legal swim. Even though I am in the best wetsuit on the planet - the Roka Maverick X - I still hate wetsuit swims. I panic, feel claustrophobic, and overheat WAY too easily.
The water felt pleasant during the warmup, but quickly faded after the canon went off. I was swimming well and with the second pack for what I would guess was a quarter of the swim, but I started to overheat right about then. I was putting myself into debt, and was cooking inside of that suit. I was absolutely miserable for well over half of the time in the water.
I lost feet for the whole second half of the race after losing contact with fellow pro Robbie Wade. It was a lonely swim back to transition and made worse by having to grab and pull open the neck of my suit every 20-30 strokes to let in some cooler water. I am at a loss of what to do with wetsuit legal swims. Do I wear a speed suit with some neoprene shorts over it? TBD... I just hope that Mirror Lake is over 71.5F in three weeks.
I exited in a very, very disappointing 58 minutes hot as can be, with a very high heart rate.
The bike was uneventful and I'm thankful for that. After taking a good hour to recover from the swim, I settled into a rhythm. It took at least that long to recover due to high heart rate, disappointment, and being overheated.
Ironman bike segments have become a "put my head down and go until I get to run a marathon" thing for me. I had no rides longer than two hours in between Ironman Texas and Boulder. My trust in my bike training is in its consistency - RIDE EVERY SINGLE DAY - Period. I believe that it's more about being on a bike 1 to 1.5 hours every day that can make a rider strong. It's the overall body of work that is put in over the week that counts. Oh, and I also hate doing long rides in training. I know that I'm leaving some on the table by doing this, but I'm still evolving as an athlete and will be incorporating more long sessions over the next years in this sport.
Anyways, I biked hard and just tried to keep consistent power. After 4:40:07 I was done with the 114 mile ride around Boulder County. It was two miles long with the new course this year.
The run of IM Boulder is the hardest (of all I have done) in North America - This is counting the run in Kona. The constant elevation changes and NON STOP twists and turns add up to burn an already fatigued athlete who has swum for an hour and biked for four and a half. It's also 99 percent on concrete. These issues create a run that does not allow you to find ANY sense of rhythm during the marathon, and for someone like me, it sucks. I depend on rhythm and predictability.
As an athlete, I am best on flat courses because I can turn my mind off and just go. This does not exist in Boulder.
For the first 6 - 8 miles, I was holding 6:45's to 6:55's (per mile) easily, then at the turnaround on east Pearl St, I slowed to 7 - 7:10's per mile. It was damage control and about minimizing my losses from there on out. The last 15 miles were tough, but I relied on my 15 previous Ironman finishes to bring me to the line. There were times going through underpasses and making turns where I felt I might fall down or trip during the last part of the race. My coordination was completely shot. I simply focused on one foot in front of the other and on taking in nutrition - Red Bull at every aid station.
After a 3:13 marathon on the Boulder Creek Path, I was done with this race. Total time was 8:58:45. My fifth time under nine hours at this distance on a long course at altitude. I finished top ten and made a little money. It was a fine day.
It meant the world to me that I was actually able to start this race. To finish with a semi-respectable result was just an added bonus.
On to the next one!
Two weeks ago, I went down to Texas to do my first event of 2017. This was my first race since leaving my full time job in December, and my first chance to see where I was at both physically and mentally - What might be working? What might I need to adjust?
In the end, It went well and I am happy with my result. I have made some adjustments and I'm ready to build volume and push my overall training load. My season is off to a good start.
On Training the Last Few Months:
Change #1: Throughout the last few months, I have made some changes in my training and day to day life. The biggest change has been in my swimming. I am back training (kind of) like a swimmer again. My swim training is night and day compared to what it was over the past few years. Take a look below at a sample week swim training before and after December.
The first sample week is from September - this was leading up to Ironman Chattanooga. My swim TOTALED 5,500yds for the week. The second sample week is from February where I totaled 21,850yds for the week. Big difference in overall volume and a big difference in overall speed.
I also believe that swimming more has let me build an overall bigger aerobic base. I will keep building on the swim and continue to push harder and harder in the pool.
Change #2 -The other big change since leaving my job has been the amount of rest I can get throughout the day - I do have daily naps (most days), and I am able to use tools like recovery boots more often than I did in the past. I feel as though I get higher quality workouts this way. When I was working full time, my workouts would happen between 4:45am and 6:50am. This was far from ideal - and did not let me push when I needed to push. My training was to similar day to day, thus I lacked the varied stimuli needed to make gains.
Some quick training facts about work done from January up until the race in Texas
- Longest bike ride - 2 hours 10 minutes (Intense, on the trainer)
- Average bikes per week - 6
- Run milage - 30.2 miles per week average - Still mostly on treadmill
- Swim average was over 20,000 yards per week
- I had only 4 long runs since IM Arizona - 2 x 16 mile treadmill runs, and 2 x 14 mile hilly runs in Maui over spring break.
- Weekly training hours averaged between 16 and 18 hours per week. This is starting and stopping my watch at every moment of rest, so moving time only.
I went down to the Woodlands Wednesday morning before the (Saturday) race. Over the past few years, my family has joined me over my birthday weekend at different races throughout the US (2013 Boston Marathon, 2015 NOLA 70.3, etc) - This was no different, and it was a fun family trip.
The lead up to the race was typical. I had no expectations of placing and was planning to use IMTX as a long hard training day and warmup race for a few Ironman races that I am targeting throughout 2017. I was not feeling great, but not bad either. Texas was an opportunity to get a progress report on where I was. Below is the week leading into, and including Raceday.
I was up at 3 on Saturday to get ready for the day - I use solid foods such as bagels, cereal, and some fruit to take in roughly 1,000 to 1,500 calories before the start. I will usually eat this throughout my prep in the morning. I graze on whatever I feel like eating, and it works well.
We got down to transition around 4:45am and was able to set up bike, nutrition, and drop off bags. Beth and I then walked to the swim start and were there about 40 minutes before we went off at 6:25. I got in as soon as they let us in around 6:15 and got in a good swim warmup.
We were lined up at 6:23 or so and the canon went off at 6:25. It was dark still.
My NUMBER ONE goal for this race was to swim fast, swim strong, and be able to race in the water. I was absolutely able to do that. I led the second pack the whole way into the canal, then shared the lead of the group swimming from the canal to the swim finish. I raced the swim, stuck with a group, and accomplished my number one goal of coming out of the water with a pack. I am proud of this, and it set me up to race the rest of the day. I swam a 54:35 (no wetsuit).
Transition was fast - and I had a lot of company out of the water for the first time in my pro tri career.
The bike was good throughout. I had no specific goal power, and did not have a goal pace. My intentions were to race with the people that I was out of the water with and that's what I did. It was a flat and FAST course. Perfect for a first race where you do most of your training indoors. I put my head down and went.
I would estimate that I consumed around 400 calories per hour for the first 3 hours, then 300/hour for the last 1.5. It was a mix of Gatorade, gels, gummies, and bananas. I get most of my nutrition from on course.
Over the last 15 miles, a strong headwind picked up and slowed me down a ton getting back to transition. I rode a 4:28 off of 240w Normalized Power.
When I was in transition, I knew I was probably in the top 20 overall, and would be very happy finishing with a result within there. I also knew that I was at 5 hours and 30 minutes overall race time leaving transition. That gave me a 3:09 marathon to break 8:40. I chose to run very conservatively to try and break that time barrier.
The weather for the three loop marathon was PERFECT. I was comfortable the whole way. I even splitted the entire 26 miles. My nutrition was red bull at (almost every) aid stations, coke sometimes, gatorade sometimes, and a few bananas here and there. My final marathon time was a 3:07.
I made a wrong turn about 400m from the finish, turned around, and ran through the chute in a total time of 8:37:52. This was a new PR for the distance by over 15 minutes, and a great start to my year. I placed as the 15th professional and will mark this race as a success.
I was very sore for two days up until Wednesday, then started to push training back to normal that day. I took one day off in total, was in the pool on Monday, then on the bike and running Wednesday. This was by far my best/fastest recovery to date - I felt completely normal six days after the race. I would guess that it was because of the conservative run and the cool temperatures during the marathon.
Next up is IRONMAN BOULDER! June 11th. I have included a gallery of our fun times in Texas below. I also did some videos when I was down there as well - those should be below as well.
Thanks for reading!
In Training: Overall time is down for these two weeks as Im going into IMTX on April 22. The redeye from Maui killed me as usual and took a few days to start to feel normal again. I wanted to get in two big swim weeks in, but only got one during the week of the 10th.
Overall, here is where I'm at - Swim feels good, Bike is hit or miss and I don't really know where I'm at in overall fitness, and the run feels pretty strong. I'll do a pre Texas post with more in depth feelings and expectations.
In Life: I'm being brief with this post, take a look below at captions to see what was happening over the past two weeks.
Weekly Totals: Week #14 - By the Numbers - Week of April 3 - Returned from Maui
Swim: 14,150 yds - 8.04 miles
Bike: 166 miles - Trainer/Outside
Run: 32.8 miles
Total TSS: 1011.1
Hours: 14:06 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 1 - Redeye from Maui
Weekly Totals: Week #15 - Week of April 10 - Tapering down volume - based off feel
Swim: 21,700 yds - 12.3 miles
Bike: 155 miles - Trainer/outside
Run: 20.5 miles
Total TSS: 1037.6
Hours: 13:47 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
In Training: The two weeks that I have for this entry were split between Boulder and a trip to visit my parents/spring break in Maui. My time early in the week of March 20th was typical for time in Boulder - I had some good masters swims at CAC, a hard treadmill run, and some good interval bikes. Then I flew to Maui with my family for the whole second week.
It seems as though my time in Hawaii is always a shock to the system as I go from training almost exclusively indoors (we go in the winter/spring), to training almost all outdoors with the exception of a few short treadmill sessions. This change from indoor to outdoor brings with it some severe soreness. I attribute that to the constant rolling terrain and camber of the road.
I was able to get in two "long runs" of 14.5 miles with some serious climbing/descending in those runs, lots of riding on the road and getting used to my new bike and slightly new position, and some good open water swimming. Time in Maui is always productive, though it's still a balance of doing some training while getting in good family time as well. I was only up close to 18 hours for the week that I was there. That's enough I feel like for this point in the season.
In Life: We headed to Maui on the 24th of March for the week of my wife and sons spring break. My parents were nearing the end of their time on the island and we joined them for some relaxing time with them before they headed back.
What can I say about being there other than it was great. It was a bit more relaxing than our last trip in December/January and a bit quieter too. Take a look below at the pictures for a few moments throughout the trip.
Weekly Totals: Week #12 - By the Numbers - Week of March 20
Swim: 18,300 yds - 10.4 miles
Bike: 131 miles - Trainer/Outside
Run: 36.6 miles
Total TSS: 1039.5
Hours: 14:02 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
Weekly Totals: Week #13 - By the Numbers - Week of March 27 - All in Maui
Swim: 12,000 yds - 6.8 miles
Bike: 229 miles - all outside
Run: 40.6 miles
Total TSS: 1167.9
Hours: 17:41 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
In Training: I upped total amount of volume this week, and felt completely fine while doing so. I also got on my bike three times outside for three 40+ mile rides (in addition to 3 trainer sessions), and am still working out small adjustments to my fit. This season, I'll be riding a Felt IA thanks to Colorado Multisport. It is quite an awesome looking bike and a faster frame than the P3 that I have been riding for the past three seasons. I can't wait to race on it in Texas. The month that I will have on it will be a good amount of time to get my fit comfortable and ready to race an Ironman on it.
I haven't been doing any long runs over the past few months. I woke up Sunday with one that I was planning to do, but Boulder was filled with smoke from a fire. I did a 16.5 mile run on a treadmill. Good hard first 10k, with some faster tempo stuff after it. It was probably the best run I've ever had on a treadmill.
In Life: It was a beautiful week in Boulder. Our great weather and temps have continued and I was able to enjoy some time outside. Aiden continued to swim, then had his first soccer game of spring on Saturday.
We went down to Pearl St. on Saturday afternoon to enjoy an awesome (pre) spring day.
Weekly Totals: Week #11 - By the Numbers - Week of March 13
Swim: 21,200 yds - 12.05 miles
Bike: 203 miles - 3:46 Trainer work, Rest outside
Run: 39.9 miles
Total TSS: 1313.8
Hours: 18:03 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
In Training: My swim had a good progress test on Thursday morning with a 2,000 meter time trial. I had done a 2k for time 5 weeks prior and came out with a 28:03. The 28:03 was done with some drafting in the lane and teamwork. On Thursday, I swam the same distance without drafting in 26:38. That's a pretty huge improvement in just a few weeks.
I have not had a consistent period of time where I have trained heavily as a swimmer since probably 2003, so the fact that I have been swimming consistently for the past six weeks has been paying off. I am able to swim VERY easily for a 1:25/100m, and could make a set of 10 x 100's on the 1:25 send off with ease. This would have been difficult a few weeks ago.
Total hours were WAY down this week in preparation for a few bigger volume weeks leading into Ironman Texas.
In Life: It was my first full week of coaching with the Riptide Swim Team. I was brought on as a coach a few weeks back, and I am having a great time with the kids. I am also having Aiden swim on the team and have him swimming three days per week after school. We had our swim-a-thon on Saturday and had many of the swimmers total their lengths at 200. That's 5,000 meters.
Aiden (who is 6) did 2,800 meters in total and blew me away. Words can NOT describe how proud I am of him. I honestly just wanted to hug that kid for hours after he finished.
Being a parent is tough sometimes, but it is becoming more rewarding by the minute. I have said this before, but before we had Aiden, my dad told me one thing. He told me that "I will never have known that I could love something/someone that much." He was right, and it's pretty amazing.
Weekly Totals: Week #10 - By the Numbers - Week of March 6
Swim: 20,125 yds - 12.28 miles
Bike: 152 miles - 6:27 Trainer work
Run: 14.3 miles
Total TSS: 931.7
Hours: 12:25 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
In Training: New bike week. This meant lots of micro-adjustments and stops while on the trainer. It took five full days to start to put out the same power as I could on the P3. It' s amazing how much tiny adjustments in a fit can take to adapt to.
Swim continues to build as this is my 5th straight week @ or over 20,000yds. My plan will be to decrease hours for the next week before a final four week build up to Ironman Texas in late April.
In Life: Pretty quiet and low key week. We moved Aiden to a different room in the house in hopes that it would form some new sleep habits and leave his room open for the new baby. There is a big bed in there and Beth was awesome to get some fun sheets for him. The Boulder weather has been great, and all seems pretty good in the world at this moment.
Weekly Totals: Week #9 - By the Numbers - Week of Feb. 27
Swim: 20,375 yds - 12.41 miles
Bike: 216 miles - 9:31 Trainer work
Run: 30.4 miles
Total TSS: 1267.2
Hours: 17:24 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0
In Training: I finished up with symptoms of a cold on Tuesday. Training took a little bit of a hit from that, but I pushed through it. I had two two plus hour trainer sessions this week, and a good successful hard run on Tuesday. I am ready to get out and give fitness/speed any test that I can get. I don't care if it's a 5k or 70.3, I just want to race.
In Life: We got back from Estes Park on Monday afternoon, then had our 20 week baby appointment on Tuesday. The 20 week appt is a thorough check of the baby via ultrasound and everything looked good. After four straight losses and a lot of sadness, this pregnancy is looking good.
On Saturday, we went on up towards Ft. Collins to go have some fun with my Sisters family. I played laser tag for the first time in probably 25 years, and bowled.
Weekly Totals: Week #8 - By the Numbers - Week of Feb. 20
Swim: 21,850 yds - 12.41 miles
Bike: 186.4 miles - 8:03 Trainer work
Run: 33.6 miles
Total TSS: 1311.1
Hours: 17:14 (moving/working time only)
Days Off: 0