Fall… a time to ponder.

 

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2011 Europe bike trip: 3000+ miles/4 months and a lot of time to ponder life!

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As we prepare to set our clocks back this weekend, fall is always a great reminder to slow down a bit and take inventory of the past year.  I find myself reading more and seeking out quite time to just think... or not.  A good friend of mine had forwarded along some quotes he liked and I thought, why keep those to myself.

Below are some that have been around and others you may find new to you along with an original from yours truly.  I hope 1 or 2 of these resonate with you and be just what you needed at this moment in time.

"We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create our dream" - Robert Coles

"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." - Ann Wigmore

"Your attitude determines your altitude.  The better the attitude, the higher you will soar in all things you choose to pursue with a passion" - Coach Eric Neilsen

"Simplicity and harmony are the ultimate conditions to be attained in all things". - Horace Fletcher

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"Draw a circle around yourself - invite people in or keep them out. We are the creators of our social geometry.  Calculate your volume". - Rachel Wolchin

"Don't limit your challenges, challenge your limits". - unknown

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others". - Ayn Rand

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence". - Confucius

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"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it". ~André Gide
"The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer". ~Edward R. Murrow
"Just as the old, looking back, idealize the past, so the young, looking forward, idealize the future. Illusion is the stuff of memory — and is at the heart of hope". ~Dr. Idel Dreimer

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it". - Charles R. Swindoll

Simple pre-swim preparation

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Mother nature is in control of the weather.

You are in control of your attitude and the choices you make.

Prone to being cold in the water, here are a couple tips that may help your next swimming experience be a little less chilly.

1. Exercise before getting in - A few lunges, squats, arm circles, rotator cuff exercises, bouncing on toes, etc... with clothes on.  Then quick entry to pool.

2. Warm beverages before, during and after swimming.  Coffee, Tea, water & lemon.

3. Wear 2 caps

4. Break out the neoprene - tops, bottoms, or both.  Added insulation a good thing.

5. KICK MORE - Bigger muscles, bigger energy use = more heat generated.  Added bonus, you may even go faster and who doesn't want to do that.

This should get you started and I am happy to expand more just drop me a note at eric@coachneilsen.com

Make it a great day!

Coach Eric

Cars and cyclists: Why can’t we just get along?

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I am writing this post to help keep our wonderful roads in Colorado safer for cyclists and motorists.  I would like to thank Bryan VanMeveren of VanMeveren Law Group for meeting with me to discuss this.  He recently completed a comprehensive book focusing on Colorado bike law this is now available for free download on his website: http://www.vanmeverenlaw.com

A little background on myself, I have been riding a bike as long as I can remember and hope to stay in the saddle as long as possible.  The past couple months I have had 3 incidents on the road that have put my life at risk more than I am comfortable with. The number 3 being the main focus point of this article.

3 feet = 1 yard, 36 inches, metric 91.44 centimeters, .91 meters.  Motorists by law are required to give cyclists a minimum of 3 feet from the widest part of their vehicle, trailer, etc. when passing a cyclists on the road.   This can be a challenge on roads without a designated bike lane, but with a little planning, one can minimize the stress for both motorist and cyclists.

Motorists, 3 simple things you can do when passing a cyclist:

  1. Slow down or speed up based on road, traffic conditions
  2. Move left and pass with at least 3 feet of clearance
  3. Return to lane after safe pass

If you like more technical reading that supports the above:

42-4-1003. Overtaking a vehicle on the left

  • (1)  The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to the limitations, exceptions, and special rules stated in this section and sections 42-4-1004 to 42-4-1008:
    • (a)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
    • (b)  The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.
    • (c)  Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of the driver's vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
  • (2)  Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

Cyclists, 3 simple things you can do to help stay safer on the road:

  1. Be visible both at day and night.  So many great bike lights and reflective, bright gear is now available.  It would be so great to see all cyclists riding with a flashing light on the back of their bikes all of the time.
  2. Use hand signals when turning or coming to stop.  Drivers are not psychic and a hand signal can go a long way to helping the motorist better understand your intended direction of travel.
  3. Obey the law!  Seems simple, but blowing through stop signs at intersections with cars present is NOT SMART!  While you are allowed to ride two abreast on the road you shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane. Use some common sense.  Two abreast on low traffic, back county road probably going to be okay.  Two abreast on high traffic or winding road, NOT A GOOD IDEA! and good idea to single up.

Cars and cyclists can continue to get along if both parties use some basic common sense and obey the rules of the road.  When I lived in Hawaii, we would say... "Ride with Aloha".

Ironman 70.3 Boulder 2016

Ironman 70.3 Boulder 2016

Pre-race: Got up about 4am and had some bullet proof coffee for my pre-race meal.  About 300 calories in all.  Then just sipped water the rest of the morning.  Filled up 2 water bottles with Infinit and did a few core exercises to help wake my body up.  After a couple visits to the bathroom, it was time for the beautiful sunrise drive down to Boulder Reservoir.

Sunrise over Boulder Rez

Sunrise over Boulder Rez

The Swim:  After taking on the FAST Masters coaching position last fall, I needed to make some adjustments to my own swim training. First, I increased my Vasa Ergometer training sessions to help save time and create a very specific training stimulus for the race. Second, I incorporated more 25's "crazy 8" style into longer pulling workouts. Crazy 8's are 8 strokes as fast as you can go, then easy to the wall on :40 or :45. This helped remind my body how to move fast. Lastly, I swam more with snorkel, buoy, paddles and ankle strap in pull sets along with sets  of 20 x 25 @:30 just snorkel and ankle strap. I really like the latter for training to sustain a higher stroke rate.

As we lined up for the swim start, my buddy Dean "The Diesel" Davis suggested we work together (me follow him out) then settle into our rhythm and that's what we did. The two of us and another swimmer spent our 29 minutes working our way forward on the course, navigating the swimmers ahead from earlier waves and just like that, we were headed for T1.

Swim Boulder

 

Transition Ready!

T1: Ouch!!!  Running a fair amount on concrete I managed to nail a couple of rocks right in the same spot on my forefoot.  I remember thinking, "this is going to hurt later," but race day adrenaline took care of the discomfort. Quick wetsuit strip, shoes on, helmet and off I went.

The Bike:  After 7 years it was time to upgrade. The training combined with some improvements in technology (P5 and race wheels) made for a fast ride. Patrick Ray at Rocky Mountain Multisport dialed my ride in -- I'm a pain in the butt when it comes to making sure my brakes are in good working order (not rubbing the rim). Patrick also made another suggestion regarding cleat placement on my shoes to help minimize the amount of stress/fatigue that the calf muscles experience during the ride.

Heading out of T1, I hear Patrick yelling "Go Get It Neilsen" and that was the plan once the body settled down out on Diagonal Hwy. Starting in the second to last wave of men, there was a lot of bike traffic on the road ahead. Fortunately, they had a wider section of road for us to ride on during some of the earlier miles to make passing a little bit easier, but you still had to watch out for the "orange road cones" as those can hurt at 30mph.

Bike Boulder

Trying to dial in power between 200-215 watts, I zoomed up towards Airport road, flipped a u-turn and back down Diagonal to Jay Road which is part of the old course. Then heading north on 36 out of Boulder and right onto Neva Road for a really fast section down to 63rd St. This was a bit sketchy as 2 cars had myself and others grabbing the brakes.

Car #1: Decided to turn off 36 onto Neva the same time as myself and a couple other riders. Cars are part of the course at times, I get that, but why turn off onto Neva then proceed to go SLOWER than the cyclists.  For those that know this part of Neva, the right, left, right turns before it straightens out were a bit nerve-racking. Once we got straight on the road again all was well until...

Car #2: My heart skipped a beat as two other riders were even closer to the potential accident.  Three of us were rolling along close to 30mph when Car #2 passed us and braked hard to SLOWLY turn right onto a dirt road. The two riders ahead of me braked even harder, swerved left into potential oncoming traffic (fortunately none), and resumed their route. I was lucky and only had to sit up and hit the brakes hard. The three of us arrived at the left turn onto 63rd just shaking our heads thankful that nobody had T-boned the car.

Heading up 63rd I knew that half of the bike course was done and made sure to stay on top of hydration as the day was quickly warming up. Left turn on Nelson and back up to 36. This was a key section of the ride as I knew from training on the course that if I could keep my power around 230 watts going back up to 36 I could ride a strong and steady pace to the finish. Mission accomplished! I picked up a water bottle before making the turn onto 36. Another 2-3 minutes before things leveled out a bit before the downhill rollers into Lyons, right onto 66 to 75th and into Hygiene, by far the fastest section of the course of the day.

After going through Lyons and over the train tracks (thank you race officials for laying protection down there) I was feeling good but backed off the power just a touch to start prepping the legs for the run. The last miles went by quickly and I was able to get out of the saddle a few times to stretch the legs and back. Rolling into Boulder Rez, I felt confident the ride went well and I caught up to the only guy that had passed me during the ride.

T2 After bike dismount, run in and proper bike racking, I sat down to get my socks and shoes on because I find trying to put them on standing up I wobble all over the place.  Once the feet were ready, I grabbed my hat, watch, race number and sunglasses and starting running towards the exit while getting all that stuff in order.

Transition Tip: Save time and do things in motion whenever you can.

Upon exiting T2, once again I see Patrick Ray (now wearing a chicken hat) cheering along with a whole bunch of NoCoTri Teammates. What a great way to start the run with a smile on my face.

Starting Lap 2 Photo JT Freyermuth

The Run: No surprises here, 2 laps, no cloud cover and the temp was going up. The Plan: Keep it simple, control the first mile or 2, ice in the hat immediately, settle into pace for the day with the mantra "I am a Runner." Hydration strategy every aid station was Gatorade/Water to start, then shift to Coke/water, Gatorade/Water. About 5 miles in, take a bit extra walk time to get more fluids in, more ice and adjust pace down with heat rising (after living, training and racing in Kona for 8 years, I've learned how to manage heat well and make adjustments early enough to avoid the "death march" of lap 2). I learned this the hard way a couple times for sure, but I knew that it would pay off today.

Just before the 5 mile aid station the two leading women were going by me on their 2nd lap and it was race on for sure. I still had Lap 2 on the run to go and after passing my cheering friends at "Tent City" again it was time to increase the mental focus and hold pace. Around 8-8 1/2 miles I once again took a bit longer at the aid station.  This ensured enough fluid in the body and ice in the hat. Past mile 11 I took one last hydration load as I knew after that, there would be no stopping until the finish. Those last 2 miles across the dams were tough and I needed to really dig to hold onto pace.

Run Boulder 2

Last miles on the Dam. Focus time!

With a new finish area this year the last 1/4 mile took us through the boat storage area, around transition and into the grassy finishing straight which was a welcome site for sure. Crossing the line I was spent and it took a couple of minutes to stop having tunnel vision. Finish line staff kept us moving along and hydrated. I got a couple bags of ice to put on my neck and tuck into my jersey top to start cooling off.

Finish Chute Photo JT Freyermuth

 

Podium L-R Eric Neilsen, 2nd, Terrance Ramirez, 4th and Tom Trauger, 1st

Podium L-R Eric Neilsen, 2nd, Terrance Ramirez, 4th and Tom Trauger, 1st

Summary: I'm always grateful to have the opportunity to do the things I love. Racing here in Northern Colorado with teammates and friends makes it that much better and helps bring the best out of me. A BIG THANK YOU to my crew that keeps me going. Sharon Cook, Dylan Schubert, Patrick Ray @Rocky Mountain Multisport, Scott Barrow Massage, Craig Depperschmidt @Rebound Physical Therapy, Infinit Nutrition, FAST Masters and... "The Diesel" 🙂

Working with kids!

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I've had the good fortune over the years to work with kids of all ages and my most recent experience was volunteering at Walk Clark Middle School in Loveland, Colorado with the cross country and track teams for the past 2 years.

Middle school in Colorado is 6th-8th grade. It is SO COOL to see these kids become empowered through sport and watch their self esteem soar to new heights. Some start off with natural talent and running is just an extension of other sports. Others come into the program with little or no running experience, so running 1/4 mile is a long way. I enjoy working with both types of athletes. Pushing those with more experience and nurturing the beginners, so by the end of cross country season they are all running 2.4 miles non-stop...and some are running it pretty fast 🙂

I think I gravitate to the latter group because when I was their age, I was short, a bit chubby and had low self-esteem. Middle school sports were limited, so I was on the JV team in football one year until I broke my arm and then JV basketball all three years. I loved sports, but at the time it seemed like the JV program was an afterthought.

As a result, working with beginner kids and incoming 6th graders my focus is on form, form, and more FORM. Help them better understand how their bodies move, how to balance, how moving more efficiently will minimize injuries and they will run FASTER! All kids want to run faster, so getting them to buy into the little details in these early years will not only help them with their sport, but in many life skills.

You may wonder, how do I get them to buy into the work, buy into the details? Keep the workouts FUN! Every workout should have a component of playfulness and often times I can get a tremendous amount of work out of them but they don't even realize it. I have tried to apply this to my adult athletes as much as possible.

Fast forward 2 years to this year's conference championship track meet. The distance kids from cross country naturally gravitate to the 1600 and 3200 meter events (1 & 2 Mile). They ALL had best times in the events they ran. Three things really stood out for me: 1. Sportsmanship, 2. Proper Pacing 3. Racing with Guts! For those returning next year to middle school, they have some great things to build on. For those moving on to high school, they have a good set of tools in the tool bag and the high school coaches will take them to the next level.

A big THANK YOU to Coach Robert Arrington for allowing me to help out with the kids. They are lucky to have his leadership and in the years to come they will look back on where it all started. Also, thanks to the parents for allowing me to work with their kids during off-season conditioning in the summer and winter months. We had lots of "Fun Runs" working on a variety of skills while healthy lifestyle habits are being formed. I am living the dream!

Keep Running,
Coach Eric

The Long Ride

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Recently I was chatting with one of my athletes about long bike rides in particular what we like about them.  Yes, longer rides are fun even when they have there challenging moments.   Here are my top 3 along with several responses I got from others that have taken a few long rides.

1. Solitude - Long rides by myself allow me to ride at my own pace.  Go hard when I want or just cruise and look at all the cool sites.  Time in my head with my thoughts or figuring out client schedules.   Of course at times, ok a lot of times no thoughts at all as the miles roll on by and I take in all the beauty surrounding us here in Colorado.

2. Friendship - The flip side is rolling out with a group for 4-5 hours.  You can get to know someone a lot better after spending hours in the saddle.  Long group rides usually involve a stop or two for beverages and other feeding opportunities.  A favorite ride in the 90's when I lived in San Diego was a bakery ride out to Dudley's.  When your tired you can just sit on a wheel and take a break while someone else leads the way.

3. Mental/Physical toughness - Whether by yourself or with a group, the first time you crack 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles it sure is a confidence booster.  The longer ride is essential for both cyclists and triathletes that are looking to improve.

Here are a few more long ride likes...

1) The freedom to know you have hours ahead with just you and your thoughts.

2) The anticipation and then the feeling of accomplishment when it's over.

3) Knowing that you've earned at least 2 pints of beer and your favorite meal.

 

1) If the weather is ideal, I can ride forever. And ideal isn't overly specific... depends on the current season.

2) If the terrain is what I'm wanting to do, I can ride a long time. Terrain can be tough where I have the energy to work on hill climbs and have fun with decents. Or, the route can be rollers where I can get satisfaction in a higher mph average by still working it but not killing myself either. Note: the fall weather and colors have been a wonderful energy last 3 weeks.

3) Lastly, there are times I am simply motivated to complete an assigned long ride no matter what the weather or route. Grrrrrr....just wanna do it! :o)

 

1. Challenge! I love the challenge of the longer rides, mentally and physically; specially when there are hills and wind to take on!! (It's all how you look at it, no?)

2. It's my happy spot! With dealing with depression and anxiety, the longer bike rides calms my whirlwind of a mind, changes my mind set to actually be in the moment, and I'm now focus on the ride ahead of me and whatever lies ahead.

3. Embracing what I can do! Hey! These miles have been earned, not given! To even be capable to go out and do such long bike rides is amazing! And if you are able to do so, you're the one who chooses whether or not to "go the extra mile".

 

1) The Challenge. Overcoming the mental barriers of getting half way through your long ride and realizing you are only half way. Pushing your physical limits near the end and realizing you can do it.

2) The Scenery. This may be due to the amazing place we live, but if you are riding 100+miles in the area, you are going to see some highlights from Mother Nature.

3) Post Ride. The hunger, thirst, and desire to sleep that is with you the rest of the day. Makes you feel like you accomplished something worthwhile and are better because of it.

 

1) First of all I have to say that being able to train and take some of these long rides is that I am truly blessed! I have the time, the physical ability and one of the most beautiful places in the world to do so. Not everyone is as lucky!  I love the speed and being able to cover a long distance. I often look at the Kohalas or Hualalai from a long way out and get some cool satisfaction that I'm going there, or was there!
2) The scenery!  I've had some epic rides out on the old Mamalahoa highway - incredibly beautiful rolling hills, open fields, the smell of white ginger and the grass - incredible!!
3) The camaraderie - I had bib #1000 on my 70.3 in Mallorca. Got lots of comments and had some great conversation snipets from athletes from all over the world climbing up the long hill. Pretty cool!

 

1) The end of the ride
2) The isolation
3) Happy to have no mechanical issues

 

1)The best thing I find about a long ride is once you get past all the niggles and stress, for me usually the first 2 hours. I hit a point where I can just zen out and there seems to be this perfect balance. I'm not worried about speed, power or life's other stress'. Instead it's just me cruising and living the dream.

2) Another thing I enjoy about long rides is the company of a good training partner. Unbeknownst to our wives we might actually get more individual quality time with our training mates. Often these partners are reaching for the same goals and it helps to have them along

 

1) The solitude. I don't ride with music, it's not safe. So you're alone with your thoughts. It's an ideal time to mediate on your breathing or the pressure on your foot during a down stroke etc. if meditation isn't your thing, it's a great time to focus on various parts of your cycling. Yes I just switched the word meditation with focus. Pedaling, while being aware of everything else; traffic, the road ahead, foot position, aero position, lean etc. switch focuses every so often. The kilometers fly by.

2) If it's not a race prep ride: the treat at the turn around point when that is a destination of its own. Iced Coffee at Starbucks in Waikoloa out here for example. Nothing heavy, nothing a complete nutritional disaster, just something simple and appropriate. If it's a race prep ride: seeing just how tasty your choices for the race really are. I've surprised myself more than once on my gastronomical choices.

3) The early starts. Riding the Queen K through the lava fields and seeing the sun finally crest over Mauna Loa and Hualalai makes that before dawn alarm all worthwhile. Getting things done before many people even have a chance to decide what they're going to have for breakfast.

4) Being done!

 

Ironman 70.3 World Championships Part 2

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Race Day!

One thing nice about this race was the later start.  The Pro's went off at 10:30 and my 50-54 age group wave went off at 11:31.  So, no early  wake up and restless night of sleep which led to a very relaxed morning before driving down to the train station and the short trip to the Transition area.  On race days, what works best for me is liquid calories only  for breakfast and the same during the race.  Start your day with what what works for you.

Arriving at transition, things were very calm and I made my way to my bike to pump up my tires.  Athletes in general seemed to be sharing my same calmness as we made final preparations.  When I was giving my cranks a spin to check brakes and calibrate power meter one of the guys capturing video clips for Ironman shot a few seconds of video.  Did not think much of it as they capture all kinds of moments during the day.  Fast forward to the awards dinner and my 3 second clip made the video for the night.  Cool!  After giving the bike the final check, loading bottles, securing shoes to pedals and walking through transition one more time to know my entrance/exits, I headed over to find some water and shade on the grass to relax.

About 45 minutes before my wave, I got up and gave the legs and easy 5-6 min jog on the grass mixing in a few drills to loosen up.  Off to bag drop and now all that remained was wet suit cap and goggles.  We had plenty of room to warm up in the lake next to the swim start and I took full advantage of this. 15 minutes in the water mixing strokes and doing some buildups as one by one the waves went off.  I cued up with my group about 5 minutes before they put us in the water to wait for start.  Made my way to the front right and made peace with those around me as we waited for the cannon to go off.

 

Swim

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BOOM.. and away we go.  I was fortunate to find clean water pretty quickly after going through a couple swimmers who should not have started near the front.  Plus starting front right I was opposite the buoy line and had a clean shot to the first turn buoy 900M out.  I would have to say it was the easiest feeling swim I have had in a while at a 1/2 IM.  Maybe more air than back home, maybe the tapered feeling, but those 29 minutes just flew on by and that was that.  Quick exit, peeling wet suit down to my waist after grabbing T1 bag and into changing tent.  Helmet on, swim items stuffed into bag and out we go.  Grabbed a quick sip of water to rinse the mouth out, (old habits from Hawaii and getting the salty taste out) and off and running to the bike.  Sharon was counting gold caps coming out of the water and had me right around 30th in age so very pleased with that.  Tons of cheering people as we exited T1 to mount are bikes.  Some guy almost took me out from the start coming by me on the right side leaving T1 as I was getting into my shoes.

Bike

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What a spectacular course we had to ride.  The first 5-6K featured several turns, a small, narrow bridge to cross so this actually was a good thing in my opinion as it helped keep all the excitement in check and just settle into my pace once the roads opened up.  This section gently rolled along down the valley and was more down than up so speed was good. and the first 30 minutes went fast at just under 26mph.  Monitoring my power I knew the 8 mile climb was up next and needed to get on track with the liquid nutrition (INFINIT).  The climb I feel I nailed it!  Starting conservatively to settle in climbing rhythm paid off.  After the initial kick it settled back down into the 3-5% range so I was able to keep effort steady and started passing people.  Training with power is so helpful, particularly when climbing and I just kept motoring along past people that had started too fast.  The climb continued through a ski station another 3/4 of a mile, then a slight left turn onto the final mile which was between 10-14%.  Now here is where the pacing really paid off as I felt strong this last bit.  Don't get me wrong, I was working, power avg for those 9 minutes was 10 Watts above FTP, but that %grade, no way to avoid that.  Cresting the climb I felt really good and grabbed a big drink as there was no way I was letting go of the handlebars those last 9 minutes.  The fans were great on this section of the ride, kind of like a little Tour de France feeling.  After a quick stretch break for the lower back and another couple gulps of fluid it was time to pay attention.  The initial descent was steep 15% and  had some hairpin turns included.  A few guys flew past me and that was just fine with me.  They even padded a couple of corners in case riders came in to hot as going over the guard rail would have had some serious consequences. image

Once down the initial descent, we flew past a couple more ski stations and back into the valley above Zell am See, then back through Zell am See to more cheering fans, a quick wave to Sharon and on to the last 40 minutes of the course.

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More rolling, more hydration and continued monitoring of power output.  For the power people Total ride: IF .82 and VI 1.09  very pleased given the profile and sustained climb/descent. Climb numbers 40 minutes avg power 223 IF .96, VI 1.01

Run 

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Coming out of T2 I had my legs right away, which told me I paced the bike properly.  The first mile went right along the lake before turning into the "Altstadt" old town part of Zell am See for the first of our 2 loops. Old cobbled roads, 1000's of cheering spectators along this section before heading back to the lake for the out and back run.  A gradual up/down/up at the turn around and already headed back on lap 1.  After the first 2 miles I had settled into 7:30-7:40 miles and they just kept ticking over, but I knew the effort would go up on the second lap to hold the same pace and it did.  Ice in the cap at aid stations and started hitting the Coke towards the end of the first lap alternating that with water on lap #2. Pacing once again paid off as lots of runners were coming back to me on the way back out.  I knew once we reached the turn that is was a good 5K to the finish and now was the time to dig in and just leave it all out there.  I continued to pass people on the return and heading into the last 400 meters or so the crowd was just fantastic. Crossing finishing line was a mixture of happiness and sadness oddly enough. Happiness in executing my race plan and knowing I left it all on the race course.  Sadness that I had to stop.  That may sound odd, but I was honestly having a great time racing to my limit and reflecting back a bit more, probably the most relaxed and present I have ever been on a race day.

Race finish link:

https://www.facebook.com/sharonraecook/videos/10205372206926934/

Final thoughts - 2015 marks 30 years in the sport of triathlon, but when I think about it I have been doing this my whole life.  As a kid, I was fortunate to grow up with swimming pools around and I was always playing in the water.  No swim teams, just sharks and minnows, marco polo and match stick a cool game my sister and friends came up with.  I was always riding around on my bike. To school, to a friends house and to town to catch the bus to the movie theater.  Running as a kid you just ran places and when you got tired you walked.  Playing tag or ghosts in the graveyard sure kept us fit not to mention those cool wooden outdoor playgrounds that we played all sorts of games on.  As I age in the sport, I continue to learn and one thing I learned early on is having fun at the sports I do is essential. 

Never forget how to play like a kid in sport and in life. I hope to be at this another 30 years and blogging about my first race as an 80 year old.  Keep living your dream!

 

Ironman 70.3 World Champs Part 1

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What an amazing 2 weeks in Europe!  Triathlon and sport in general has given me the opportunity to see some amazing places and Zell am See, Austria did not disappoint.  

 

Departure, August 24th

Arrived at airport with plenty of time to spare.  Note: Very good idea when traveling with bike as things can take longer than expected.  Well, the bike actually got us into the over sized check in area at DIA so we breezed right through.  TSA security moved pretty well given all the Monday end of summer travelers and we were on our way (late departure) to Dulles for our connecting flight to Munich.  Arriving at Dulles, we had to hustle through the terminal for connecting flight and they were already boarding the plane when we got to the gate.  I had a little surprise for Sharon in store as we went right to the priority boarding area, bypassing the lines and onto the plane to our first class seats.  I was stoked that I was able to pull this off and she was indeed surprised. Note: if you are going to splurge on a leg of the trip, do it on the overnight part/longer leg.  It really helps to have a little more leg room and I believe helped with the jet lag.  

 

Arrival and Race week Aug 25th - Aug 30th

We landed in Munich shortly before 8am and the bags came off the plane pretty fast.  There were several others in the terminal heading to Zell am See as evident by all the bike boxes in oversize luggage.  Rolling through the airport to Hertz rental car for our diesel 6 speed Peugeot Wagon that we would call home for the next 11 days.  When traveling with bike box always good to have a wagon as it makes loading much easier.  We hit the road for the drive to Zell am See and my co-pilot did a great job getting us on the Autobahn.  About 90 minutes into our travels we pulled into a village near Kitzbuel for a quick bite to eat before finishing the drive.  The weather today was rainy for the most part, but this would be our only day of this as the rest of our time in Zell we were treated to sunny, warm days.  We picked the keys up to our apartment a little after 3pm in Zell and then a short 15 minute drive to Kaprun to get settled.  We had a great little flat that opened up to a small patio overlooking the Austrian Alps which quickly got us into vacation mode.  I started working on getting the bike assembled for a ride the following day and after a quick visit to the local "Billa" market for supplies and lite dinner it was time for bed.

 

The plan for Wednesday was to ride about 2/3's of the bike course at Noon with other athletes to see the climb and descent that awaited.  Well, I woke up after 9 good hours of sleep around 6:30 am and should have gotten up, but decided to doze a bit.  Next thing I know it is 11:30!!!  No panic, plan B.  Sharon would drive me ahead of the ride and drop me off then meet me at IM Village after the ride.  Quick change, bike loaded and off we went to catch the group. Timing was great as we caught them just before the big climb.  Course recon is essential and seeing the climb and descent helped me dial in my power for the climb and see the caution I needed to use on the initial descent.  Rolling back through the valley to Zell am See, my legs felt good and the jet lag was leaving the body more.  

 

I met Sharon at IM Village while getting some final adjustments made to my bike.  She had a little mishap while looking for parking and ended up with flat front tire.  One of the security guards at the village was kind enough to assist me in changing it.  After some discussion, we realized we would need to get a new full size tire installed given all the miles left to drive to Italy.  We found a tire shop that ordered us a tire and got it installed the following day.  

 

Thursday was our day at the famous Kaprun Spa and it did not disappoint.  After short morning swim and run we headed off the the spa for a full day of relaxation and food.  Starting with brunch, some warm pools to relax in, then Sharon headed off for her massage and I took a little nap before mine.  Then more relaxing on comfy lounge chairs, more food, drinking lots of water and just like that 10 hours passed as we were winding down on the panoramic pool on the upper level looking over the valley at sunset.

 

Friday and Saturday -

Both days were very peaceful.  Morning workouts to keep the body sharp and catching up on some work details before going offline a couple days.  Friday afternoon we took care of race registration before the welcome banquet that evening.  Saturday we took the tram up to the top of Kitzsteinhorn for a cappuccino and apple strudel and took in the views of the Austrian Alps from 3000m.

View from top of Kitzsteinhorn looking back at Lake Zell

View from top of Kitzsteinhorn looking back at Lake Zell

 All that remained for the to do list was bike check in and that went very quick.  A lite meal back at the apartment and some reading before lights out at 10pm

Ironman 70.3 Boulder report

Eric NoCo Boulder 2015_2

June was a busy month for so many Train Smart Race Fast athletes and the coach even got a chance to lace up the shoes and race a couple of events.  First up was Ironman 70.3 Boulder.  The day started off well carpooling to the race with Troy Tafoya and Martin Paetzold as the dark night skies gradually turned to a beautiful sunrise.  Not a cloud in the sky as we made final race day preparations.  I checked in with a few other athletes that were racing before heading down for a warm up swim.  After that we staged in our swim waves and before you knew it, time to go.  The men's 50-54 wave went off smoothly and people did a good job of seeding themselves properly as I did not have to swim over anyone, or  swam over by anyone as we got under way.  A few of us had some good, clear open water until catching up the wave ahead of us and then it was just navigating around some of the slower swimmers all the way to the swim finish.  Quick exit out of the swim, start peeling off the wetsuit and into T1.  Continuing to move quickly and efficiently, I got the rest of the wetsuit off, helmet and shoes on and headed out for the ride.

The bike could not have went better!  The plan was to monitor the early pace and limit power to 85% of FTP during that first 15 minutes up to Highway 36 then just settle in as the course rolled along up towards Lyons.  Time to start getting the hydration and nutrition going with my INFINIT and with the day projecting to warm up, essential to keep draining the bottles.  Moving through the riders ahead on the course, I neared the 1/2 way point.  I asked Sharon to let me know what place I had come out of the swim.  She was so awesome and made up a big #5 sign.   That was motivating as I had passed a few guys in my age group earlier on the bike, but one rider was always near me as we rolled along the next 30 or so miles, Andre Bekker from South Africa.  We actually chatted a couple times on the bike as we motored along and back into T2 coming off the bike together.  A quick change into running socks, shoes, then grabbed the hat and race belt to head out for the run.  Andre was fast in T2 and put 25-30 seconds into me.  I did not see him on the run for the first mile, but then caught a glimpse of him as we rounded a small corner.  I continued to close ground on him and caught him a the first turn around 3.3 miles into the run.  The next 8 1/2 miles we ran together never more than 10 feet apart until just about the 12 mile mark.  Then he put in a strong surge to open up a gap that I could just not close down.  After the finish we chatted a bit and thanked each other for a great race and pushing each other to our best.   I am very pleased with my 2nd place finish and qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Austria on August 30th.  I am really looking forward to the challenge of racing against the top athletes in the world again in my age group.  Last time I got to do that was Kona 2010.

Race stats

Swim 29

Bike 2:20

Run 1:39

What I learned from the race is that, while I may not have had the ideal race lead up in a physical sense due to a rib injury from a fall in March, I was dialed in on the mental side and drew on my 30 years of triathlon experience to manage the days events.  Lots of athletes line up on race day very fit, but lack the mental side to execute.  Find a mantra that works for you.  Visualize your race day in the days, weeks leading up to it.  I know where I can improve, more leg speed as I am sure Andre along with the other top racers will be running quite fast off the bike in Zell am See, Austria in 8 weeks.

That's the condensed version of the day.  If you want more details like pacing, strategy, nutrition, mental, please shoot me an e-mail and I would be happy to share.

Coach Eric

 

The importance of proper breathing.

IMGP9705

A while back, one of my blog articles http://coachericneilsen.com/news/just-breathe/ talked about breathing and how important it is for swimmers to master this concept.   Now is seems simple to just breathe when exercising and to moderate the amount of inhale vs exhale depending on how hard you are working.   I was talking with my physical therapist the other day about this and was reminded of a good article he had written to help myself and others better understand breathing.  Here is the link http://www.reboundsportspt.com/blog/rebound/the-importance-of-proper-breathing which I hope you will find helpful in your understanding of how important breathing is and give you a better idea on how your respiratory mechanics SHOULD work.

Train Smart Race Fast!

Coach Eric