I havent planed any more races at moment. I have to see how I go over next few weeks. I hope to be back till october the latest. I wont try to get the points for this years Hawaii World Champs anymore. I made that mistake in the past, and it is just not worth it if you cant show up at 100% in Kona. waste of time and money. it hurted me a bit when I had to say no to Ironman Switzerland. as everybody knows I still have that win there on the top of my bucket list.
so I try to keep patient and not rush things like in the past. always a lesson to learn.
The start of my 2013 season has been a tough one. Still dealing with some hamstring issues from last year it was not easy to get all the hard work done in winter. it is frustrating when you cant do sessions the way you want them to do. you get to a point where you would prefer to just have a “normal” injury like an inflammation or a twisted ankle . as at least you know after a few weeks you are back to good. but dealing with something you dont really know where it is coming from, is a much harder case. as you have to try lots of different things out. try and error, try and error , try and error …
in times like that it is even more important to have the support of your sponsors. it is always easy when you are going good and you win races. but when you go bad, you find out quickly who really stands behind you. so I cant thank Brett,Alex and Team TBB enough. and a special thanks to Cervelo as well. they have been super good with me and try to help on all ends (thanks Lesley!!!). this are the people who know I will come back strong and they know sometimes it is not just about the results. I got hit a few times, and I just keep standing up again and again. Moving forward is the only way. You will see me back on the podium soon again.
I am happy with where I am standing at the moment. I am still not 100% , but comparing to where I was the last few months of 2012, I cant complain. Brett and I found a good plan for me with some new inputs and it seems to work out well so far.
I have been training a lot with Dan this winter. he has been a great raining buddy and I was happy to see him racing so well at Koh Samui Triathlon. I think he will have a great season.
Before I flew over here I spent two weeks in Tossa de Mar with Eizinger Sport. A good partnership I have there, having lectures and help out age group athletes training for their goals. I will be back working with Eitzinger Sport travel in Kona this year.
So lets get started into a successful 2013 season.
it really is a place with lots of history. But not only for our sport. I am sure there is lot’s of surfers, wind surfers, kite surfers who could tell you epic stories about this island. Or the story about the eruptions from 1730 to 1736 (for 2,053 days!!!). In that time the island was hit by a serie of volcanic eruptions. the outcome were 32 new volcanoes in a stretch of 18 km. Lava covered a quarter of the island’s surface. Every cyclist knows what Timanfaya means. An area called Montañas del Fuego, the “Mountains of Fire”.
Ok, time to get back out there again.
Keep training hard.
p.s. for the music fans out there listening to 80′s and 90′s music. The Stone Roses recorded their video clip “fools gold” on this island. have a look at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSD11dnphg0]]>
If you are an athlete or not, we all have to make decisions day in day out. Life is full of it. Some are more and some are less important.
in the last few years I found myself in a certain situation again and again. And every time I had to make a decision.
Something was hurting and I had to decide to race or not to race.
You might think that is an easy one. But injury doesnt always mean “unable” to compete or train. I had a lot of niggling injuries I just kept training and racing on and they were gone sooner or later. But sometimes it is hard to find out how bad it really is. Like last year, a week before IM Hawaii I felt my knee. Doctors said just an inflammation. so for sure I raced. with a bad ending. as the pain was just too much to handle. an MRI scan a few weeks later showed a little cut in my patella.
The decision to race was wrong. But I did not know what the real problem was. You think it is one of those niggling injuries who just go away after a while.
example. last year I had a DNF at the 70.3 US Championship in Galveston, Texas. I had a muscle problem and could not bend my leg anymore after the bike. I kept training after this race, got treated and won Ironman St.George in Utah 4 weeks later. So, instead of making the decision to go home and not race in Utah, I went there and had one of my best races ever (broke course record by 8mins).
Last few weeks I was in a very similar situation. I struggled with hamstring tendonitis since several weeks. I had a DNF at Ironman NYC because of it. I kept training and racing on it. Had a good race in Gerardmer and finished 2nd at Leadman in Bend. But the problem did not disappear. so, while training in Hawaii I thought maybe not to race in Arizona. As I was in a lot of pain in every bike or run session I did there. But I already booked all my flights, so I decided to still go to Phoenix. Linsey Corbin talked about this chiropractor guy in Chandler. John Ball . He looks after most of the top US track and marathon runners. So I went there and John treated me every single day. He is not the typical chiropractor, as most of his methods are not “normal” chiropractor moves. I can only say, he did an amazing job and def set me back on track. I knew my tendonitis wont heal in just 2 weeks. but the thing was, John solved like 50% of my muscle problem. So I started to think about the race again. And as I was there already, the decision was a bit easier to make. You think, ok, maybe this wont hurt that much. I can handle it and still get a decent result out of it. Maybe make some money too.
the decision was made. I found myself at the start line. and I failed.
On first 20k I had a problem with my bike, so I lost the front group. once that was solved, I made up 1min in 30k again. but after the first of 3 loops I could hardly sit on my saddle anymore. My muscles could not work normally like this. I made the decision to keep going and to race for myself. as another DNF would have been very bad for my head. I got off the bike and had to walk through transition as I could not bend my legs. the hamstrings were totally blocked. I went into the transition tent , put my run shoes on, stretched a bit and started running slowly. there was pain, but at least not as bad as on the bike. next decision was to try and run a good marathon. I felt good and I was running with Matthew Russel (he had one of the best run times in hawaii this year). I went past the 21km mark at 1:24:50. and I kept running at 4min/k pace till around 28km. but then my energy levels went down. dealing with pain all day took a lot out of me. I had to slow down and my goal to run at least a sub 2h55min marathon was gone.
still, it was good to get it done. I will remember this one for sure next time I am out there running for a podium again. as it will hurt, but next time it will hurt only because I am going fast. and that is a much better pain to handle then the one I had to deal with on the weekend.
and after all it was not a bad season. with TOP 3 at IRONMAN TEXAS and IRONMAN SWITZERLAND I added podiums nr.10 and 11 to my Ironman career. I take that for sure.
and this is the way I look at it anyway:
Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.
BRING ON 2013 !!!!!!!!]]>
I have been on the big island since 4 weeks now. I came here straight after my Leadman Tri race in Bend,Oregon. no, not for racing IM Hawaii for once. but I have my second family living here up in Holualoa and after a few years I have my own little “household” here. A great little set up with everything I need for a great training camp. if I want, I can train up here all day and not see any other triathletes. so, even in the “cracy 7-8days” when the Ironman is in town, I have my peace up here in the rainforest. it is an amazing place. even if I have to ride up a 7km steep mountain more or less every day to get back home from my rides. lots of people dont know how much serious climbing there is on this island. well, it makes sense, as there is some of the biggest mountains on the planet right in front of my doorstep. you can start your ride at sea level and go all the way up to Mauna Kea (around 4000meters ) for example. a cracy ride. epic really it is. Or going up Kaloko Rd. actually just 1k away from the house here. if you start at the pier you climb more then going up Mont Ventoux in France. but in much less kilometers. which means only one thing : STEEP. dont even think about riding it with an 11-25 cassette … even Lance went up there with a 27…and we know he has an extra motor in there.
I have been smashing myself day after day here. got some serious training done. I actually did not even watch the bike leg during this years IM race here. I was out training. I went down to town during race week 2-3 times for my personal sponsors and for the Team TBB sponsors. If you race you normally dont get the time to do all this things properly. you have to focus on the race and dont want to be out in the heat too much. so it was a great opportunity to give something back to those people who look after me all year . As I think a pro triathlete’s job is not just to race. it is much more then that. being close to the people who actually make it possible that we can be pro athletes. and that is the age group athletes. without them sponsorship would just not happen. it was amazing to see all this people out there on their Cervelo bikes. nr.1 at the Kona bike counting for so many years now. that really speaks for itself.
I have some amazing suppport on this island. there is my second family I cant thank enough, I feel so much at home here, but also a few other people I want to thank. like Dawn, my massage therapist here, Chris Morrison , a great friend, Bree and the whole Mauna Lani Bay crew. also my sister and Steve and my girlfriend Nicole. coming over here during this time, far from home. I really have a super professional environment around me here.
I hope my hamstrings (problems I had after/during IM New york) will be ok to race at Ironman Arizona on November 18. my last big goal of this season.]]>
But it is not just the distances that makes a race epic. I think in this case, it was as much the unusual weather conditions (3°C at start of race, 26°C at end of race) we faced, the riding at altitude (around 1500m) , the winds, the cold water (15°C), the tough bike course with some solid climbing and the super hilly run course. And lets not forget the amazing scenery at Cultus Lake during the swim, around Mt.Bachelor during the bike and around Bend during the run. I love all of it, even if there is a few points the organisation has to get better at. But the race was held for the first time in Bend, so we can expect they will sort this issues out till next year.
the race itself went well for me. I knew it will be a big challenge to beat Jordan Rapp (the current Ironman US Champion and Ironman Texas winner). He has a great year and I think he will go very well in his first attempt at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
I was out of the water in second, right behind Bryan Rhodes. The swim was way too short. A mistake that should not happen to the race organisation, but I am sure it wont happen again. I took my time in transition to put a lot of clothes on. As coming out of 15°C water and facing 3-4°C outside temperature is not what you normally deal with in a triathlon race. Once on the bike I put even more clothes on (armwarmers, gloves, extra jacket). For the first time I was using those hand/foot warmers you normally use for skiing. you shake them and they get warm.
The cold lasted for about 1 – 1.5hour. then it started to warm up. so it was time to peel off. All the pros were separated by several minutes by then. which made for a super lonely 223km bike ride. but that is the way I like it. everybody by himself. not a chance for drafters out there. so , if you dont like to ride solo, you better dont do this race. as you will feel lonely out there.
180km into the ride Jordan went past me. and he was looking strong. He always rides the second part of his races very strong. I knew I just have to keep going my pace. as at this time we have been out there for several hours already. He started the run 3.5 minutes in front of me. I was running hard for 10km (which was mostly uphill running). I knew Jordan is a better runner then me. but you never know what happens after 7hours into a race. once I saw Jordan is not gonna blow up, I settled in for second and took a bit of speed out. as I was still about 12mins in front of the guy running in 3rd.
I finished after 8h16mins on 2nd place. Congrats to Jordan for another win in his already great 2012 season.]]>
But the last 2 weeks showed it once more. Freezing cold and rainy conditions at Voralberg Triathlon. A great revival race in Austria. In the 90′s it was famous for being one of the toughest triathlon events out there. Then it disappeared and now, about 10 years later, it is back there. And I can say, it still is a real tough challenge. The distances changed a bit. it is now a 1.2km swim / 102km bike / 12km run. But the bike course starts in Bregenz and ends up in the mountains. in the ski resort of Lech. which means, the course is super hilly and towards the end you climb up a 15km mountain pass. Followed by a 12km trail run up at altitude. I got off the bike in second, but due to wet and cold conditions, my back was completely locked up. I nearly didnt get up those mountain trials. I finished 4th at end. which was ok after a big week of training.
Only 6 days later I was on the start line in one of the european classic half distances. The Gerardmer XL triathlon. A challenging half distance race in the Vosges mountains. I ended up racing in the coldest conditions I have ever raced in. the temperature dropped down to 6°Celsius. Conditions I think more of jumping on my snowboard then jumping in a mountain lake …. well, it was the same for everybody. so why complaining. and like my TBB team mates, I made sure I covered myself up in as much warm clothes as possible. which ended in the slowest transitions times ever. I was out of the water with the lead pack, but lost 1minute on them in the transition. so it took me a while to catch them again. After 90km I ran out of transition in 3rd place. I showed improved running form, but it was not good enough to hold of a flying Dave Dellow. At least DD and I didnt end up in a sprint finish this year.
Now this period of training races is over. it is not always easy to go to a race knowing you are absolutely flat from the training you have done in the days before. But when you finish still strong, then you know, it will be so much easier once the legs are a bit more recovered.
I am looking forward to race the epic Leadman Triathlon in Bend,Oregon on September 22 now. The distances look very interesting. A 5km swim / 223km bike / 22km run. It will be a different challenge in an amazing area. I cant wait to explore it and give my very best on race day.
Since Ironman Switzerland I had a few issues with my right hamstring. not strained or anything. just neural pain which I later (too late as after IM New York) found out had to do with my lower (more aerodynamic) position on my new bike. Lesson learned once more. More aerodynamic is not always better. as it also means more tear on your hamstrings, lower back etc. if this are your weak areas already, you better be careful with changing to a lower cockpit. in my case, I ended up with cramping on the bike after 90km already. one big fight to make it back to T2 … then walking , jogging, walking until 12km … to end up on the side of the road in full pain not ready to keep going like this.
So now I hope to get all back to normal. As I have a few more goals this year. Maybe there is no Kona, but I think this is a good thing as well. For me it is all about the training now. Throwing in a race here and there. But just to mix it up a bit. Focus must be my running now. as long term, this is where I have to make the next step. then we go back to Kona. when I am ready!]]>
Ironman Switzerland is 3 weeks back now. it has been a disappointing race for me. Reflections are good, but too much thinking is not gonna help much. It was not my first bad day at the office. And at the end I still finished on the podium. So it was “failing” at a high level. No point to try to find reasons for it. there could be hundreds of them.
So, best thing to do is keep moving forward. get back into training, get the routine back, work hard day in day out. I know what I have to work on. I can swim and bike with the best in the world. but my run is just not competitive enough (yet) to get into the top 5 in Kona. We have a long term plan and I have to be patient with myself. Sometimes you take a few steps back before you take a big one forward. But I am a big believer in hard work and I know anything is possible.
So tomorrow I fly to New York City to race in the Ironman US Championship a week later (August 11). It will only be 4 weeks after IM Switzerland. But this wont be about the result, this will be about getting a good long training day in and just see what happens. Expectations are not there for once. I just go , do it, and come back home. Not breaking my routine too much. It is not even about the points now. It is about the process to be able to run a fast marathon of a super strong bike one day.
after 11 X Ironman top3 it is time for the next step. maybe not this year or next year, but sooner or later … it will happen.]]>