Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Run Your PR Ironman Marathon

Suffering on the run. Photo Credit: Scorpio
Hi All. For those of you who race the Ironman and want to improve your running, I wrote an article with some tips based on revelations from my recent Ironman Arizona experience.

Here's the link,

I hope you can apply the concepts mentioned here to your training and racing.

Train smart,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My 2010 IMAZ Race Report

Hi All.
Race morning at IMAZ 2010
Just a quick race report about my Ironman Arizona experience. 

First, i'd like to thank everyone who shot me texts and emails of encouragement, well wishes and congratulations.  It really means a lot to me. :)

As many of you who read my blog know, this was sort of a 'throw away race' where I didn't have high expectations due to my crash and then surgery in August.  Training has been minimal as I rehabilitated my broken body... and just 8 or so weeks ago my form of exercise was a daily 60 minute brisk walk and it was just 3.5 weeks ago that I could start swimming again.  My expectation of the race was to simply participate, renew my enthusiasm for Ironman and to gain experience at the distance again.  Just being able to toe the line was a blessing and one I didn't take for granted.  Finishing was the goal, with being 'competitive' a distant aspiration.

Truth be told, I knew I had a good fitness base , despite my set-back, due to my training and race results in the first half of the season.  My 4:11 and 7th OA at Racine 70.3 showed me that I had the 'props' to be competitive at a high level again... but as many of you know, when it comes to Ironman racing, all bets are off.

The race started with abnormal weather conditions for Phoenix, cold and windy. The water temps were in the low 60's, making for a very uncomfortable entry into the water. I looked up as I was treading water and freezing my booty off...thinking, "hmm... did I do the right thing by racing today?".  I was concerned about my swim conditioning, but confident that I could soldier through it slow and steady.  The gun went off, and the cold water and realization that the day was finally here made me panic for a moment. What a horrible feeling...panicking in the middle of a mass Ironman start! I treaded water for a moment, collected my wits and then started along... not a great start.

I finally got into a rhythm and felt ok, gliding along at a steady and comfortable pace.  I just wanted to get out of that water! After the turnaround of the 2.4 mile swim, I felt that this was doable and picked it up a little. The arms were getting fatigued, but I was under control.  I exited the water stiff, cold and totally disoriented from the cold water and my feet felt numb, like stumps. I couldn't believe it when I saw my watch and a 1:01.  Nice.

I took my time in T1. No reason to hurry. I headed out on the bike and noticed well wishers and my people there to support me. That was nice.  As I started out, I immediately started taking in some electrolytes and calories. My biggest fear was now cramping... forget the cold and looming storms. 

Out on the first loop of the 3 loop bike course, I took it very easy.  Guys were passing me left and right, but that was ok... I was racing strategically and within myself. With age comes wisdom. :)  The 'outbound' on beeline hwy was fast with a tailwind but the way back was into the headwind. I maintained a comfortable rhythm with my cadence around 85-90 rpms and speeds hovering around 22 mph.  I never let my ego dictate my pace, which is something I used to do in my 20's. 

Lap 2 was faster for me as I was better warmed up.  My speed ticked up a little too, as I continued to hydrate well and eat well. Guys who had passed me within the first 40 miles of the bike were not coming back to me.  You can't fool mother nature... they were burning through their matches early... I was focused on conserving mine for the run.

Lap 3 was more difficult to maintain speed as fatigue was looming in my legs... but I was still very much in control. My 3 laps were pretty even split... a near perfect race so far. I got off the bike with 4:56 split and was very surprised and pleased.

T2 was difficult however. I was very stiff and hobbled into the changing tent. I felt my age, ugh!:)  I again took my time changing, hit the porto-potty for a pee (which seemed like it lasted forever!) and then hobbled onto the run.  My support crew was cheering me on, so that picked me up, along with so many spectators yelling, "Go Coach Troy!".

It took me a solid mile or two to get loose and into my stride, but once I did, it felt great! I started thinking that I could have a very competitive day.  My legs were turning over at a 6:45 min/mile pace and I was holding back so as not to blow up. I was downing huge amounts of electrolytes too... to avoid my nemisis, leg cramps. 

After the first of 3 loops, I had taken the first place in the Masters division and knew I was having a good day and perhaps contending for an overall podium slot for the age groupers.  I was steady and controlled, but knew that the wheels could fall off at any moment.  At the half marathon point, I was just under 1hr 30 minutes and the idea of breaking 3 hrs for the marathon started to become more of a reality... something I'd never done in my 15 previous Ironman races as a younger athlete.

At mile 16, I started feeling that all-to familiar feeling of Ironman running fatigue and pain in the quads, like a knife being stabbed in them with every step.  I focused so hard to maintain a bounce in my stride, a key to Ironman marathon running success.  My thought was just to maintain my pace and hold things together to the finish line... where was that darn finish line!

At mile 24, I knew I could hold things together and that I'd be just over 9 hours. I remained focused and suffered at my threshold of pain to maintain pace. As I ran down the finish chute area, I saw my little girls, Hope and Chloe, in the grandstand and stopped to give them each a kiss. What a great feeling to have them there to see daddy accomplish an important goal. They are only 7 and 3 yrs of age, but I hope they remember that moment as much as I will.

I crossed the line in just over 9hrs 6 minutes, good for first masters and 2nd Overall in the Amateur race.  Mike Reilly said, "You are an Ironman", it it felt good to hear again.  I was wisked over to do a quick post race interview with Ironmanlive and Greg Welch, and then reunited with my support crew and then my kids for awhile.  I was so happy and surprised with my result, I can't tell you. In particular, I ran a 2:59:55, finally breaking that magical 3 hr barrier at the age of 41...go figure!

 Overall, the race result was totally unexpected! My take home lesson, one that I've preached for a long time with my athletes, is to build your base and go into key events with very fresh legs.  Training is a year round process.

I accepted my slot to Ironman Kona in 2011 and will have that race in the back of my mind all year now. It'll be good, regardless of my end result, to compete against the best in the world again now in 'chapter two' of my life long tri career as a masters athlete. :)

Again, I want to thank everyone who supported me, cheered for me and wished me the best.  I look forward to hearing about your future race successes too. :)

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

IMAZ in a Few Days! Update

Less than a week now until Ironman AZ!  I must admit to being a bit nervous about this Ironman because my preparation for it certainly was not 'ideal'. (is it ever?!)

The thing about Ironman is that you cannot 'fake it' like you can shorter distance endurance events. For example, if you've raced for many years like I have and take an extended time off from racing but continue to 'exercise', you can come back and with a few weeks of higher intensity training and race well at events under 2.5 hrs.  When it comes to the Half and full IM distances however, or events over that 2.5 hr window, the miles in the legs that you've accumulated in the prior 6-12 months (if not more) weigh heavily in your end result.  In particular, the 4-12 weeks before your 'big day' are crucial in terms of building that long distance aerobic endurance fitness... and due to my accident at Leadville 12-wks ago and the recovery afterwards... this is where I'm lacking.

My strategy for IMAZ is clear... I need to take the idea of being very competitive off the table and aim to finish strong by burning my 'matches' slowly and selectively throughout the course of the day.  Knowing myself and the way I race (and did back in the 1990's), it was 'all out' or nothing.  Of course, back then, I had the fitness base to back up my aggression and I could go out hard, suffer, recover and finish fast (but with lots of suffering) due in part to my high training volumes.  Nowadays, whereas my mind 'thinks' I'm still 28 and in sub-9 hr IM shape, my 41 yr old body doesn't agree. 

Besides lacking that aerobic endurance fitness base so important to successful IM racing, I also need to watch out for my leg cramping issues.  My plan is to 'hyper dose' electrolytes on the bike and run, as I did at Racine 70.3.  It worked well at Racine, enabling me to almost even split the 1/2 marathon with only a slight twinge of cramping coming on once in awhile.  I hope the same strategy works for IMAZ...because hard cramping is painful and emotionally difficult to handle as you go from 'race mode' to just survival mode.  Ugh, it's tough when you're walking along, dejected and about to seize up with every step and spectators are saying, "you look great... only 13 more miles to go!".  Whatever!! :)

So, I'm a little bit anxious but excited to 'get it on' at the same time.  My kids have been sick and I'm starting to feel a head cold, so hopefully that doesn't get any worse.  Overall, I feel good and without any unusual aches and pains. And as I've said before in my blog, I'm just so fortunate to be able to toe the line and participate after the Leadville crash. 

Good luck to any of you doing the race with me! See you out there on the course.

- Coach Troy

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ironman AZ Preparation Update

A quick update on the life of this endurance sports coach. :)

North Tucson road to nowhere.
Well, Ironman Arizona is creeping up ... just over 2 weeks away. YIKES! I have been swimming for a couple of weeks now with about 8 workouts under my belt since getting the go-ahead from the doc after my collarbone repair surgery (and about 10 wks out of the water).  My workouts consist of 1000-1500 yds of mostly 'steady' swimming. I started doing some 100 tempo efforts in the past few workouts... man, I am sssllloooowwww.

I took about 5 years off from swimming and got back into it in March of this year.  I got myself back into decent shape, hitting about 24 minutes for the mile and 30 minutes for the 1.2 mile in my events earlier this year.  I've never been a super swimmer, probably because I've never made the sincere commitment to become one.  Why? Because I've never really enjoyed swimming all that much. I like the feeling of finishing the workout :), but I get bored easily and most of my career training the swim, even as a pro, consisted of 1000-1500 yd workouts with a few masters workouts now and then sprinkled in for some speed/tempo.  Even with minimal swimming,  back 'in the day', I was able to go 26-28 min. at the half IM,  58-60 min. in Kona and even posted a 56 min. swim at IMLP one year! I still don't know how I managed that!

So, I'm an underachiever when it comes to the swim leg of the triathlon and always have been.  It's ashame really, and one of my only regrets that , as a younger athlete... I didn't focus more on the swim and turn myself into a sub 55 min. IM swimmer. Had I done that, I probably would have been 'in the hunt' in major events because I could pretty much bike and run with most of the contenders, with the exception of the top tier guys.  But once you're off the back and 'miss the train', you're working alone and it's tough to make up any ground at that level.

Now as a masters athlete, I found this year that I'll give up 2-4 minutes to the top masters swimmers in the Olympic and Half IM distances.  That's close enough to be a contender if my run is strong, which it seemed to be this year.  IM AZ might be a different story however!

My biggest concern for IMAZ is the toll the swim will take on me in terms of fatigue.  I need to be patient, and remember that my fitness and endurance on the swim is insufficient to take it out hard from the gun.  I need to line up with the 1:10-15 hr swimmers, and try to get into a pack and swim comfortably.  If the day goes well, a 1:10 might be in the cards.

Going into the bike, I need to be mindful of the matches I burned in the swim, and go out easy and start hydrating and eating immediately.  I know I'll be tempted to drop the hammer (I remember the good ole days of being able to split sub 4:45's!) , but know in my gut that's suicide.  A conservative bike will hopefully get me to the run with a few matches left over... where the carnage will begin.

My running fitness is good, despite my 3 weeks of power walking after my injury and surgery. :)  I did some long runs of 2 hrs recently, but my body felt like it was falling apart, so I decided to back it down and toe the line in good health but not in perhaps the best marathon shape.  I have lots of aches and pains, probably from the years of abuse I placed on myself as a high school football player/wrestler (and some college) and then 12 solid years of serious tri racing, including 15 Ironmans, several marathons, dozens of half IM's and lots of training miles.  It all catches up to you and everyone has to pay the piper some day.  Geez, if I feel this way at almost 42, how am I going to feel when I'm in my fifties?

In general, my 'engine' is strong, and if my chassis can hold it together, I could have a solid race performance. My 4:11 at IM 70.3 Racine earlier this season showed me that I may still have the mojo to race a competitive Ironman and perhaps finish in the 9:30 - 10 hr range. The question will be how much my recovery from the injury has impacted my endurance and lactate threshold after so many weeks off from training... and how my reoccurring leg cramp issues get resolved on race day.

In any event, I cannot tell you how happy and grateful I am to even be considering racing in 2 weeks! When I crashed at Leadville, broke the collarbone badly and fractured the 2 ribs (they still hurt, btw!), I was pretty bummed...thinking my season was OVER.  Even if IMAZ turns out to be 'one of those days', it'll still be a blessing to participate.

Thanks for your support.  Train safe and train smart.
- Troy

Monday, October 25, 2010

Got the OK to Swim Again!

It's been awhile since I made a blog entry!

Me at the bike start in Kona.
The trip to Kona to watch Ironman and be involved with the event as a coach was great! It's so inspirational and motivating to witness the event in person.  We also videotaped footage for the next On the Road Virtual training dvd, Kona Training Ride.  You can see some of the footage here,
If all goes well, it'll be ready by February or March 2011.

Last week, I had my 8 week post surgery x-ray to assess the healing progress of my pinned and plated collarbone. The doc said it's doing well and gave me the go-ahead to start swimming. I started on Friday of last week with a set of slllloooowww 4x250. It was NOT pretty, let me tell ya!  (actually , even when I'm in shape it's not pretty:).  My collarbone felt fine but the arms were like uncoordinated limbs of cement. The 2 fractured ribs were tender, but not horrible. I followed that workout with a straight 1250 yd swim on Saturday, and started getting a feel for the water, averaging about a 1:33/100 yd pace, just swimming steady.  It's amazing how fast you can lose sport specific conditioning.  With only about 3 weeks or so of swim training left before IMAZ, I'm a little nervous about the 2.4 miles, but think with a wetsuit might be able to fake it enough to make it! My cycling and run fitness is good, but certainly not where I would have wanted it or where it was pre-bike crash. Oh well, that's life I guess... I'm just thankful to even be able to toe the line after thinking my season was over just about 9 weeks ago when I slammed at high speed into the Leadville Trail 100 dirt!

We recently released our latest additions to the Spinervals cycling competition series. 36, 37 and 38 have been selling briskly.  A portion of the income from these titles go to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project too... so that's very cool.  Go here to learn more and see video clips of these new titles,
We've also released our new Bodyworks MD Video, The Hip.

If you read this, I hope that you are doing well and training well, transitioning to your Fall/Winter training schedule.

Best wishes,
Coach Troy

Friday, October 1, 2010

Casting Call for Kona Virtual Ride

Getting ready to leave for Kona next week to participate in the Ironman Hawaii World Championship festivities (as a coaching partner) and to shoot a new 'on the road' video of the bike course!

We're casting for two female riders to ride with me in this video.  Candidates must be very fit and able to ride 112 miles in windy/hot conditions at speeds averaging around 18 - 20 mph.  They must have their own triathlon bike (new, no more than 2 years old) and may wear their own kit as long as sponsor logos do not compete in anyway with Spinervals or Triathlon Academy coaching businesses or associated sponsors.

Exposure for the athletes selected will likely be enormous.  Athletes will be compensated for their time and will be required to sign a model release and liability waiver. 

If you or someone you know are interested in this unique opportunity and will be on the big island for the race and available all day on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, please email your bio and two pictures (an action shot of you on the bike and a casual pic) to
Selected athletes will be notified by Tues, Oct. 5th, if not sooner.

Thanks and train smart!
Coach Troy

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vegas, Interbike and Red Rocks

I'm just getting back from a few days at interbike, the bicycle and endurance sports industry trade show in Vegas. 

Interbike is a great time to catch up with industry friends, show new products, write orders and make new industry contacts.  Almost everyone in the U.S. and abroad who makes their living in the cycling world attends, flocking to "adult disneyland" to work and have fun.

Red Rock National Park, NV
I can take about two nights of Vegas and I need to escape.  On the strip, everything is so over the top, it makes my head spin.  The lights, the people, the music, the food... over stimulation to the basic senses.  While it's nice to indulge yourself a little , too much time can leave one feeling 'blah' and overloaded. 

I've discovered that the best way to cope with the strip for more than 2 days is to get away from it for a ride.  Now that i live in Tucson, I can easily drive the approximately 7-8 hr route with my bike.  My favorite interbike activity for the past couple of years has been to drive out to the Red Rocks National Park and do a 27 mile loop that has some of the most incredible desert mountain scenery!  It's amazing how the strip and everything overindulgent about it fades away when you're on the bike.  Below is a map of the ride if you'd like to give it a shot.

It's so nice to be home and away from the glitz and glam. I'm sure I'll look forward to my next 'vegas' excursion, but you can bet it'll only be for a maximum of two nights!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reflecting back on Ironman Weekend

Me near the finish line chute at IMWI.
I spent this past weekend watching Ironman Wisconsin and cheering for the over 2500 athletes racing, including around 1200 'iron virgins'.  It was a great weekend for the athletes and the fans as the spectacular weather allowed for course records to be broken and the town of Madison hosted another inspiring Ironman experience. 

It was awesome to see our 2010 IMWI campers gather prior to the pre-race banquet and course talk and then sit together once inside.  I saw everyone out on the course too, giving it their all and becoming Ironmen and Ironwomen.  Great job and congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!

As the official coaching partner for Ironman, I couldn't be more pleased as I had uninhibited access to the athletes before , during and after the race... and got to meet a ton of them one on one.  I am always humbled by how many people come up to me and thank me for making the Spinervals DVDs and tell me how much they help them with obtaining their race and fitness goals.  That is so cool!

The great thing about attending an Ironman event is the sense of extended family one gets.  Whether it's before or after the race, people are quick to say hello, ask how you're doing and what your goals are, or see how the race went for you.  Even in the airport to and from the race, you can tell who the triathletes are and quickly engage in friendly conversation.  If you've not yet attended an Ironman race as a racer or as a spectator, you should... you'd thoroughly enjoy and be inspired by the whole experience.

Next up for me is Ironman Kona in October.  My staff is going there too and we'll have an expo booth, promoting our services and products. In addition, we'll be shooting a new 'On the Road' virtual training DVD of the Kona bike course, so athletes can train on the course at home in their living room and get to know the Queen K Highway!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Headed to Madison to watch Ironman

Kestrel Tri and Road bikes
Sitting here in the Denver airport waiting on my flight to Madison to watch Ironman this weekend. I'm a little bummed to be banged up and unable to race, but I'm glad at least be training again, even if at low levels. It's amazing how blah you feel when you're forced to take time off from exercise.

I'm flying out with my 'breakaway bike'. This foldable bike comes apart at the frame and fits into a case the size of a regular suitcase. You get to bypass the unbelievably high fees airlines charge these days... nice. The bike is built with an ultegra kit and the frame is made of steel , so it rides well and serves it's purpose. I look forward to riding parts of the course this weekend and cheering the racers!

My favorite bikes at the moment are in good shape at home, resting quietly at home in my garage on my wall. I love my Kestrel road and tri bikes. The road bike is built with a Dura Ace group and has compact cranks, which I enjoy spinning on long days in the saddle and recovery days. The frame is rock solid and stiff, while being light weight and forgiving... a great combination of attributes. I'm riding this bike exclusively now so as not to put undue pressure on the healing collarbone.

My tri-bike is the Airfoil Pro. Again, it's carbon, stiff for maximum energy transfer and lightweight. I posted some good times on it this summer at both Olympic distance and Half IM distance, so I'm very happy with it. If you're looking for a new steed in 2011... consider the Kestrel. Full disclosure... I am sponsored by Kestrel... but I make it a rule never to endorse a product unless I truly believe in it's quality and value.

If you're doing IMWI this weekend, be sure to stop by our Spinervals section in the Ironman store and say hello. I look forward to cheering for you as well on race day. And for everyone else fortunate enough to be racing and challenging themselves this weekend, good luck!

- Coach Troy

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recovery Report & Setting Goals

The road to recovery from my bike crash and surgery is coming along! Yesterday was a breakthrough day as I did a 50 mile road bike ride then ran 5 miles in the 100 deg. southern Arizona sunshine and heat. It felt great! I can tell my fitness took a few steps back, but it felt so good to get on the bike outdoors. And my run, even though the broken ribs still made things difficult, felt stronger and faster since I started running again last Wednesday.

I almost started to entertain the idea of starting IM Wisconsin this coming weekend, but then reality set in... I can't swim yet! Then I thought, "maybe I can swim with one arm and kick?". I then probably have enough base fitness to get through the bike/run in a respectable time. Hmmm.

Nah, I need to step back and let the body heal for a few more weeks before placing it under high stress levels/ workloads. I am planning to be as ready as possible for Ironman AZ, which is in less than 11 weeks now. If I can get back into the water in 2-3 weeks, I should be ready to go. I know my form won't be at peak, but I'm ok with that...just being able to participate will be a blessing!

I don't know about you, but for me ... having a goal is essential. When I crashed out at Leadville, I immediately knew that IMWI was out of the picture. Initially, I thought the entire season was over with, but decided to entertain the thought of getting ready to participate in IMAZ in late Nov. That goal gave me the 'push' do what I could to maintain fitness and get 'back on the horse' as soon as possible. Now, it's starting to feel like that racing IMAZ, and even regaining enough form to do well, is a strong reality. Ah, the power of setting goals. :)

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clavicle Rehab Report

Today I went to the surgeon who operated on my clavicle at the Tucson Orthopedic Institute for my first follow up visit post-surgery. He took X-rays and went over my progress with me. Good news! Things are healing quickly and I was given the green light to start running gently! Wooohoooo!!

It's been almost 3 weeks since the crash and 2 weeks since the surgery, so I'm pleased overall. The real drag right now are my ribs. New Xrays revealed two fractured ribs, not just one as originally thought. This is likely why it hurts so much to move my torso or engage my core in doing things like sitting up and breathing! :)

So, to celebrate my progress, today I went out on a very slow and very painful 5 mile run. Every step hurt the ribs and I had to wince due to the pain. It felt like those last few miles in the marathon when you're digging as deep as you can into your 'suitcase of courage' (credit Phil Liggett), but it also felt great to finally get back out and run as opposed to walking, as I've been doing now for a few weeks.

I can also ride the trainer as much as I can tolerate (umm, that would be about 45 minutes!:), so I'm starting to bust a gut and do some tempo work with power ranges in the low 300 watts to start getting my bike mojo back. I might sneak out on the road soon...but don't tell my doctor. :)

Swimming won't be for another 5 weeks as it takes 6 wks for the bones to 'knit'. I have a 6-inch plate and 6 screws on top of the clavicle , and then one screw holding a couple broken pieces together. The doc said it was one of the most challenging surgeries on a collarbone he's ever done! He did a good job and says I should have full range of motion too... so if anyone needs a good doc, let me know.

So, that's my progress report. IMAZ is still in the realm of possibilities for late November, although it'll be sllllooowwww.

I'll be in Madison for IMWI next weekend so stop by our booth in the Ironman store to say hi if you're in town. And good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hi All. Day 5 - Post Op and things are going fine. The bandages came off to show a 6 inch nasty looking frankenstein scar (pic). Pain is minimal as the area is still numb from the surgery. I've hardly taken any pain meds, with the exception of ibuprofen and an infrequent dose of a prescription pain med before bed. This darn fractured rib hurts though! I had a minor sneezing fit and thought I broke more ribs! That, and my 2.5 yr old giving me little bear hugs around my neck and ribs probably set me back a little. :)

I'm pushing my limits with regard to activity, trying to do 1.5 hrs. of 'exercise' each day. I've been going for walks (sounds funny for me to say when I usually run!) of 40-60 minutes, in addition to starting to do 30-45 min spins on the trainer. I guess I'll need to pop in one of those darn Spinervals DVDs soon too. :) My hope is to regain enough form to participate in IMAZ in late Nov. for 'fun'. Really , it's to keep me focused and motivated to continue regaining form for the 2011 season. My expectations would be pretty low, with the main goal to experiment some with nutrition and get an Ironman under my belt. If I can get a solid 5-6 weeks of 'real' training in, it might be a possibility!

Thursday morning I leave for the Life Time Fitness Chicago Triathlon. This race has over 8000 participants and some of the top pros in the world! If you've never done the Chicago Tri, it's one to put on your bucket list. Stop by the Life Time Fitness or Spinervals booth to say hello!

Thanks again to everyone who has offered their support and well wishes during my recovery from the mtb. accident at Leadville!

Train smart,
- Coach Troy

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 3 Post OP Report

Morning! Just a quick update. Today is day 3 after collarbone repair surgery and things seem to be going well. I have minimal pain, managed with just ibuprofen during the day and a prescription pain med. before bed.

Yesterday (day 2 post-op) I got out in the hot Tucson sun and walked for an hour and then spun easy on the lifecycle at the club for 20 minutes. It felt good to break a sweat and to get the motor running again. The crappy thing is that I can feel my hard earned fitness from training in 100+ deg. heat, tempo runs, hill repeats, hard interval swim workouts, etc., slipping away. Ugh. I know it'll eventually all come back however... with the right amount of hard work once I'm 100%.

The worse part for me right now, in terms of discomfort, is my rib! My left side was so traumatized by the impact, it still hurts to breath deeply, sit up and do anything else that engages my core.

I feel so badly for my friend and colleague from Life Time Fitness, Gary Werning. Gary crashed hard descending Power Line at Leadville and was Life-flighted to a shock trauma unit. He's recovering due to his personal strength and support from his family and friends, but it won't be easy as his head injury could have long term implications. My prayers go out to Gary and his family.

Injuries are part of sports participation. When we challenge ourselves and push our bodies to our limits, we sometimes go a little too far. Everyday that we are healthy and can use our bodies the way we want to without restrictions or limitations, is a good day... and a blessing! Go take advantage of your health and have a good swim, bike or run.

Train smart,
- Coach Troy

Friday, August 20, 2010

Just getting back from clavicle surgery and loopy on anesthesia and pain meds. According to the doc, it went well, although it was a little more severe than anticipated with chunks of bone in there in addition to the dislocation. I am waiting for the pain meds to wear off so that can feel the full brunt of the operation, NOT!

I'm out of commission for a few days (docs orders), but can hopefully start light running again in 3 wks and sit on the trainer for light work in a day or two. Too much vibration won't allow the bones to set with the plates/screws. I might be pushing it to think I can do IMAZ in 12 wks, but we'll see!

My ex-wife, Brook, and kids will be helping me recover over the next few days and my parents come in over the weekend for even more support. I'm extremely fortunate to have such a great support network during my time of need. Thanks family!

Also, again - thank you everyone for your well wishes. My friends, colleagues, customers and athletes are my 'extended' cyber family, and I really appreciate your positive notes and goodwill. The endurance sports community is full of classy, caring and wonderful people!

Train smart and don't go over your handlebars :)

Coach Troy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Injury Status Update

A quick update on my injury status. First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who emailed me their well wishes and hopes for a quick recovery. Your positive energy and encouragement is awesome!

This is pre-Leadville 100 race day pic of me and my friend/colleague and teammate from Life Time Fitness, Jeff Rosga. If you're ever in the Minneapolis area, be sure to attend one of Jeff's group fitness classes at the Chanhassen club...if you can get in! His classes fill up like none other.

The swelling on my left side from the impact of the crash is slowly starting to go away. I still have a huge hematoma on my left oblique/hip, and the whole shoulder region is still swollen, stiff and sore... but there's progress. Getting out of bed and taking a deep breath is still a chore due to the fractured rib on the left side. The collarbone area swelling is down too... so now you can see the edge of the bone pressing against the skin wanting to pop through. NICE visual, eh! :) If you think it sounds gnarly, you should feel it! :)

Surgery to fix it is scheduled for Friday at noon. Apparently it's a pretty simple procedure where they take a plate and pins to set the bones together. It's outpatient and takes 45-60 minutes. I'll be in la la land on pain meds Friday afternoon, so don't expect to get any quick email responses from me. :)

I've been trying to do some light activity the past few days to maintain my sanity, and my fitness. The past two days I've walked briskly on the treadmill at a 10% grade for 30-45 min. Today, I actually got on the road bike and spun around a little bit. I know... you're going to tell me not to do that and ride the trainer instead, right? My mother already gave me an ear full when I mentioned it to her...sheesh.:) I will stay on the trainer, once the break is mended. I figured falling off the bike pre-surgery can't break it any worse, right? It actually felt great... and my shoulder felt better on the bike than when in that damn sling.

Thanks again for your support and for sharing your own bike crash and recovery stories. I'm still bummed this happened before my 'A' race when the season was going so well... but I'll get over it and am already looking forward to racing again next year.

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leadville 100: Crash and Burn!

Well, trying to type with a displaced clavicle fracture, a cracked rib, mild abrasions and a large hematoma on my side is not easy task, let me tell you! Since I have a few minutes before boarding my flight from Denver back to Tucson after my Leadville Trail 100 Mtb. experience, I thought I'd share some of it with you.

In a nutshell, it was a great experience for me but with a less than great outcome. I crashed hard at mile 33 down a steep hill (see pic... Bryan, a guy on the course who was supporting riders, came to my aid and sent this pic to me late yesterday of the top of the descent where I crashed near the bottom, thanks again are a life saver!). My injuries sustained include a broken collarbone, cracked rib and other minor discomforts. The net result is that I had to dnf and my season is over, including my bid for a 2011 Ironman Kona spot at IMWI in Sept., my 'A' race. Bummer.

I have one word for the Leadville Trail 100 Race... WOW!! What a cool event. This year Life Time Fitness bought the Leadville event series, including the Mtn. bike race and the 100 Ultra distance Marathon, among others. If you're an endurance sports junkie, I think Leadville is quickly becoming (or has been) the 'mecca' of ultra event racing.

I have always respected mountain bikers and their skills on the bike, but my level of respect has now gone to the next level. I was awed by the fearlessness of guys and girls on tough downhill sections (like Powerline) as they flew by me on rutted, rocky trail as if it was paved. Incredible! It takes lots of miles in the trails to build those skill levels.

The race started with a cool chill in the air at 6:30 am. I felt good heading out on the ‘controlled’ start to the trail, not going hard with the goal only to finish in one piece (whoops, failed that goal!). Once we hit the first climb on the trail, the altitude (10,000 plus ft.) started kicking my butt as my HR climbed to AT almost immediately with almost no effort! Breathing was a chore… even at night when sleeping. I can see why so many athletes who do well in Leadville either live in the general area at altitude or go there 2-3 weeks in advance to acclimate.

Not a great descender I tried to take it easy on the downhills but still maintain my composure. I felt OK, but the legs and lungs were getting taxed due to the altitude and the effort. I was definitely racing within myself and trying not to burn too many matches.

After the infamous power line descent, which I made it through only falling off the bike once, I was pretty excited that things were going well. Then, as we hit a single track across a ridge, there was an incredibly steep and fast downhill that caught me by surprise. I was with a couple other guys and followed their line, going around 25-30 mph. It seems like a 30% grade! Near the bottom, my front wheel hit a rut and I went over the bars, slamming into the dirt. I struggled to breath as I laid there for a minute. I knew I was in some trouble before even sitting up and ‘taking inventory’ of the body parts. The first thing I noticed was the difficulty in breathing and expanding my ribcage. Then, I suspected the next injury so common in this type of crash, a broken collarbone. Ugh, I could feel the bones grinding against each other then as I still do right now. My whole left side was tweaked from the blunt force trauma of slamming into the dirt at high speed.

After about 45 minutes, a volunteer drove me out of the woods to an ambulance waiting to take me to the emergency room in town. It was a small two room emergency room with a great staff of nurses and docs. My ‘room mate’ was another guy who went over the bars and was suspected to have a broken collarbone too. We shared war stories.

My pain level was starting to rise as the shock wore off - I felt like I ran into a truck... and they got me some painkiller. X-rays confirmed my collarbone break in which the doc said was fairly severe and will require surgery, as well as the cracked rib on the left side.

I was released about 2 hours later and walked back to my rental house near the finish line in my dirty cycling kit with the arm in a sling and with a bag full of my belongings. Spectators asked me what happened and wished me luck, asking if I needed help. What great people! A few showed me their scars from their collarbone surgeries… it would seem that a collar bone break is a ‘badge of honor’ for the hardcore mountain biker. ☺

Now, I’m hoping to schedule surgery this week asap so I can begin the healing process. I’m very uncomfortable with the rib (sitting up is hard as is taking a deep breath) and the collarbone (can’t move left arm and the bones are rubbing... nice). Sleeping last night, my first night with the injury, was next to impossible. I’m guessing I’m up for several sleepless nights coming up…ugh.

I’m very disappointed about not being able to complete my triathlon season now. I had good form and was excited about racing IMWI for a good result. Oh well, sh_t happens and you deal with it….that’s what endurance sports teach you. I’m already looking forward to resuming training again in October for 2011 racing.

Overall, it was a great experience. Sure, the crash sucked and so do the consequences, but I learned a boat load, met some great people and ‘stretched my limits’ a little more…. testing myself. I enjoyed hanging out too with my friends/fellow athletes and colleagues at Life Time Fitness… a real team atmosphere. I want to congratulate everyone who finished, or had the guts to start the race, including the athletes from Team Life Time Fitness and the chief rider/CEO, Bahram Akradi. If you want the ultimate endurance sports related challenge in cycling or running... go to Leadville!

Keep the rubber on the road and train smart.
-Coach Troy

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ironman training is hard work...DUH!

Training for Ironman is a lot of work!... As if you guys didn't know that already, right?! :) I have to say now that I'm in the 'high volume' weeks of my training for IMWI in September, I have an even greater appreciation for everyone of you who has the guts and determination to toe the Ironman line. Don't get me wrong, I've done 15 IM's in the past and have coached hundreds of athletes to the finish line, but until you're "in the trenches" again and banging out the miles day after day, it's hard to truly realize and understand the dedication, patience and focus it requires. Kudos to all of you fellow IM athletes! (Pic of riders from our Louisville IM Camp last weekend.)

So, this past week was a big one for me with lots of time focused on running at an aerobic endurance pace. Those run miles are hard on the body, and the more I rack them up, the closer I feel like I am to getting hurt. For example, this past week I logged close to 50 miles of running with a good deal of riding too... and my two hour scheduled run on Sunday had to be cut a little short due to some hip and knee pain as the wheels started to fall off. Fortunately, with age comes wisdom and I didn't 'push through' the pain as I may have done 12 years today all is well again. There's a big lesson there... that is, listen to your body and save your "all or nothing" attitude for the race course!

This weekend we have our first annual Ironman Wisconsin Tri camp. Last weekend was our 4th annual Louisville Tri Camp. It's always fun to meet the campers from different parts throughout the country (And Canada) and train on these challenging IM bike and run courses.

Next week, I travel to Leadville CO for the Life Time Fitness Leadville 100 Mtn. bike race. As a coach, you ask? Well, yes... but also as a participant in my first ever Mountain bike race! I'll be looking to survive the tough conditions at 9000-12000 ft above sea level where temps can range from 30-90 deg. over the 100 mile off-road course. Other participants rumored to be there include Lance Armstrong, David Weins, Levi Leipheimer and former 2-time IM triathlon winner, Tim Deboom. I'd like to break 12 hours and get the bronze belt buckle! Should I run after the ride for IM training.... nah!!!! :)

After Leadville, which I hope to finish in one piece (fingers crossed), I'll do the Life Time Fitness Chicago Tri as a final tune up for Ironman.

I have really enjoyed getting back into race mode this year. I like having those race goals to help stay focused and competitive... it raises the bar in other areas of life too. Not to mention, it's personally rewarding and 'fun' to participate and also gives one a sense of gratitude for being able to swim , bike and run each day. Gotta love the multisport lifestyle!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Saturday, June 26, 2010

As a triathlon coach, I get the opportunity to meet interesting people and train in incredible places. The month of June has been a busy one with lots of travel, racing, camps and other events.

I've spent the last 10 days mostly in New York, starting with the Lake Placid camp. I still have great memories of riding my bike with the campers over the Adirondack mountains. Then, I was invited to do a special fitness blogger event on behalf of Iron Girl (as the Official Coach) with an editor from Fitness Magazine in Manhattan. It was pretty interesting and a great way to communicate via online social networks. You might be able to see parts of the video blog soon on

Then, it was out to Long Island for a 2-day private training camp with a few triathletes from that area.... a great experience.

The only problem with traveling in and around NYC by car is the traffic! Take my word for it, you don't want to be heading over the Verrazano Bridge on a Friday afternoon at rush hour! :)

Next up for me is Minneapolis on July 11th and working the expo, then racing the Life Time Fitness Triathlon. If you're in the area, drop by my booth to say hello!

I want to wish all of you doing Ironman CDA GOOD LUCK this weekend. Be patient, be tough and execute your plan.

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reflecting back on 2010 Lake Placid Camp

I'm just now getting a chance to reflect back on the recent camp in Lake Placid. The weather this year (our 11th) was incredible. LP is such a great venue for Ironman, and for the active multisport lifestyle in general. I always look forward to heading up there for a few days of suffering in the hills.

Our next camp is in Louisville in preparation for the Ironman to be held there. This is also a challenging course, but not quite as hilly as in LP. The humidity can be stifling, adding to the challenge. There's still time to sign up for both our Louisville and Madison camps by going to

The workloads at the LP camp are very high (it's a 3-day program)... and I feel it in my legs even today. Friday started with a 30 min. swim in Mirror Lake followed by a 2-loop ride (less the out and back) for about 100 miles on the roads. Most campers then transitioned to do a 20-30 min run around the lake.
Saturday included another 30 min. lake swim then the dreaded 'opposite direction' 56 mile loop (including the new out and back) and then 45 min run. The hardest part of the 56 mile loop is the stretch from Keene to LP, including the 10K climb. This 30-45 minutes of tempo shatters the legs, especially after a day of riding 100+ miles. Great training with a touch of suffering!

Sunday included yet another morning swim and then one loop of the marathon course, or 13.1 miles. Some diehard athletes stretch the run out to equal 18-20 miles, depending on their training schedules (and motivation). Overall... a great weekend of volume.

After such a large block of training, I advise the athletes to take a day or two off or to just do some easy 'active recovery' training in order to bounce back. Multiple days of higher volume training can really be tough on the body... and special attention needs to be paid to recovery and preventing overuse injury. I know that i feel a deep down fatigue after a large block of training... and my joints are sore. Ah, the joys of aging. :) The good news is that after recovery, one usually comes back to feel stronger.

While the training that takes place at our camps is great, the social aspect of getting to know the athletes is even better. Lots of friendships materialize at camps as you get to meet other like-minded people who share a passion for the sport. Good stuff.

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 Lake Placid Camp Report

Awesome camp here in Lake Placid! The weather has been unbelievably cooperative (sunny in the low 80's with light winds) as we enter day two. In the 11 or so years we've held this camp, we've had incredible weather like this only a few times.

Day one (Friday) included a 7 am 30 minute swim in Mirror Lake. The water temp is around 62 deg. F, so everyone wore wetsuits. Our swim coaches included Brian Benda (2-time Chesapeake Bay Swim Winner) and age group elite triathlete, OJ Keller. They helped everyone with sighting drills and got us going. Even I enjoyed the swim!

After grabbing some breakfast, we gathered to head out on our long bike ride. Due to course changes, (the bridge on the out and back on Haselton Road is under construction), we opted to cut that portion out. Most athletes did a full 100 miles, with a few opting for one loop. The temps were up there, so it was a tough day in the saddle. Geezzz... LP is a tough bike course! The incredible scenery makes up for the suffering one encounters...especially on the stretch of road from Wilmington back to LP with a head wind blowing you back.

Our support this year is again provided by TriSpeed Multisport. For our 18 campers, we have a SAG Vehicle complete with full mechanical gear as well as two motorbikes on the course. I want to thank Mike and his crew for their continued support of our annual LP camp.

At 5pm we gathered for a lecture, going over the course route and talking about training for Ironman. Our campers this year come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, so everyone learned something and contributed their personal insights/experiences.

Today starts soon with another 30 minute swim in Mirror Lake. Then, we saddle up to do the bike course in the opposite direction... a crowd favorite! (NOT!). The hardest part is of course the climb back into LP, which includes about 6 miles of 'tempo'. Our legs are tired from the 100 miler yesterday, so it'll be interesting! After the ride, the plan is to transition to a 30-45 minute run around the lake. After training today, we'll have another lecture followed by a group dinner.

Lake Placid is an unbelievably beautiful place and one of my favorite places to train and visit. I hope you can check it out someday if you've not done so already!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tough day at Eagleman 70.3!

Here at Ocean City, MD (downy ocean, hon!..with my Baltimore accent :) for a little R&R with the family after Eagleman Ironman 70.3 triathlon and enjoying the beach prior to heading up to Lake Placid for camp this coming weekend. I thought I'd post a quick race report.

The last time I did Eagleman was in 1998 before it became an Ironman 70.3. I was just turning 29, racing pro and at the peak of my athletic career. I won and posted a sub-4 hour finish. Flash forward 12 years later at the age of 41 (in a couple days) and I was back to give it another shot! I love this sport in how it allows you to keep competing and pushing your limits, no matter what your age might be. Granted, we don't have the same physical strengths as we had when we were younger, but the determination and desire remains the same. Awesome!

The day promised to be typical Eman... hot, humid and windy. It started with a twist as the announcer said wetsuits were NOT allowed, a first in the long history of the event. I'm a big fan of wetsuits as a non-swimmer... but it is what it is... let's roll!

The 40-44 AG was the largest wave with over 300 athletes (WOW!). The gun goes off and we attack the river, which has a strong current. Yes... big time current! The Choptank river is very unpredictable and swim times can be fast or slow. This year, they were slow across the board and many didn't meet the cut off time. There are even some rumors that the buoys marking the course shifted overnight and that the course was 200-300 Meters long...but it doesn't matter... we all swim the same distances (if navigation is good). I exit at around 36 min. and think, "hmmm... shoulda done more than 1000 yd workouts in training." :)

T1 was slow as my lower back was stiff from the swim and I had to put a tight lycra tri singlet over my wet torso, which took awhile. I headed out on the bike and had the plan to be patient and not to hammer so as to avoid my constant nemesis as of late...quad cramps! I started out at a nice controlled and relaxed tempo/cadence on the bike.

I also adhered to my nutrition plan of consuming 4 (yes four) 20 fl oz water bottles per hour on the bike due my freakishly high sweat rate (and I sodium loaded all week). I also took 3 enduralyte caps each hour and ingested three powergels and 4 shot blocs during the ride. My riding rhythm was fine but my left glute was extremely tight... likly due to inadequate time in the aero position on my awesome Kestrel airfoil. EMan's 56 mile bike course is flat and fast... so one needs to shift position once in awhile, which I did, but perhaps not enough.

Entering T2, i had already consumed 80 Fl oz and had ingested around 600-800 calories, a ton of nutrition. I hobbled off the bike due to my left glute pain, but had no quad cramps (yet!). As I sat down in transition to put on my socks and shoes, I couldn't help think that I was going to have a hard time running. ugh. I was right as my running gait was off immediately and I couldn't stride out or run 'fast'. bummer

I started hitting the aid stations for fluids immediately and the glute started to loosen up and was not as painful at around mile one. I was actually feeling like my 'old self' and started to hit a 6 min. mile pace but then just after mile 2, things took a turn for the worse and the all-too-familiar quad cramps kicked in. Aggghhh!! So frustrating! I thought the race was over for me and even contemplated walking back with a dnf. Nope... gotta finish. Several people passed me from different age groups and waves as I stood and massaged the quad, trying to get the spasms to subside. They did, and I slowly started running again after what seemed to be an eternity.

I reeled back the folks who had passed me, but couldn't run at 'tempo' because that would have brought the twinges back. Then, at around mile 6, someone told me I had two guys ahead in the 40-44 AG. Cool.

Just after the turnaround of the out and back, I caught the first place masters athlete. All the while, I'm running with the knowledge (and fear) that each step could be the last before I cramp again. Then, it happened as predicted and I had to stop with a cramp in the left inner quad that made my hair stand on end! 30 sec. later, I was passed by my competitor and he was running strong. I had a feeling I could reel him back...but only if I could resume running asap. Finally, after another eternity of over 90 sec., I could start jogging and gradually pick up my pace. With about 4 miles to go, I took the lead again. As I approached the final turn towards the finishing stretch to the line, I could feel the cramps coming on again and thought how funny it would be to skip or crawl to the finish line in front of a 'home' crowd... even my kids and parents were there. I didn't want my 6 yr old to see daddy seize up in pain... not a good race memory for her! I slowed to an easy jog to prevent that from happening and held off the hard charging second place athlete to win the division and as 10th OA amateur. I declined the IM Kona slot as there's no way I'd be ready for it until I figure out these darn cramping issues... and i'd rather someone else get the slot whose dream it is to compete there but has not yet had the chance.

I really enjoyed racing the 'half IM' again...what a great distance as it combines speed with the unknowns (like cramping!) associated with long course racing. Also, it was great to be involved as a sponsor and as an athlete with my hometown race after so many years of not racing. I saw a ton of familiar faces and really appreciated all of the encouragement and support I received out there on the course too. Awesome!

My next 70.3 is Racine in July. I'm hoping to make progress in figuring out my cramping woes and to test them at Racine. I know that many of you also struggle with cramping and would welcome any advice or personal experiences you may have to offer.

Thanks for reading and congrats to everyone who finished EMan 70.3 on a really tough day! My next race is the Life Time Fitness Tri in MN and then Racine 70.3 ... so hopefully I'll see you there!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Training in 105 Deg. Heat!!

It's getting hot here in Tucson!! This is how we load our bikes up for rides... my Kestrel here has four water bottle holders.

The high temp hit 105 deg. yesterday with zero cloud cover. It's a dry heat, but dry like opening the oven door after preheating and feeling that surge of hot air on your face. For those of us who are endurance athletes and heavy sweaters, training in these conditions can pose a challenge!

The first step when training in the desert is to smear a tub load of sunblock all over. I like the zinc based sun block, so I have sort of a pale white tint I'm sure draws some interesting comments from motorists passing by me as I ride. I'm not really too concerned about fashion though as I'd rather protect my skin from the desert heat and sun.

Hydrating is where the challenge lies. Routes need to be coordinated so that you can stop frequently and refill water bottles. A poorly planned route without refill stations can leave you dizzy, disoriented and cramping due to dehydration. The interesting thing about 'dry heat' is that you sweat like crazy without really even realizing it until it's too late!

So, yesterday I did a 2 hr aerobic bike followed by a 45 min aerobic run as my last 'long workout' before Eagleman 70.3 this coming weekend. My schedule, between work stuff, kid stuff, etc. ... dictated that I hit the roads at 1 pm... not ideal! I weighed myself before heading out and weighed in at 164.5 lbs. I consumed fluids prior to heading out, including 2 cans of V8 juice to top off the electrolyte / sodium stores (1200 mg sodium in two cans). I took with me 2 bottles full of the new Powerbar product, Ironman Perform, and one bottle of water... or 60 fl oz total. I felt good on the bike at the finish, although I underestimated my fluid needs and was extremely thirsty at the end.

After a 5 minute transition in which I drank another 20 fl oz bottle of Perform plus 12 oz of a water/V8 (sodium) mix, I headed out on my run. I carried with me a 20 fl oz bottle of Perform to hit as I ran along.

I felt good, never cramping (a huge problem for me lately) and ran strong. At the end of the run, I was happy to be done as my insides felt like they were ready to boil! I quickly drank another 20 fl oz of cold water + gatorade.

I then checked my post workout weight (after almost 3 hrs of steady aerobic work in 105 deg. heat) after drinking almost 140 fl oz of fluids during that time period (about 8 lbs of fluid) and tipped the scale at 156.6 lbs! Over 15 lbs of net fluid loss in 3 hours!!!!!! See... I'm a heavy sweater, eh?! Before bed and after downing tons of fluid (including a tall glass of Arrogant Bastard Ale...good stuff!), a vege pizza and lots of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Chunk, I was back up to 165. :)

In calculating my fluid needs, I'm going to have to aim for 60-80 fl oz per hour on the bike at Eagleman should it be a hot and humid day, and then do what I can to consume as much as I can tolerate on the run. My fear is cramping... something that I never used to do when I was in my 20's and racing hard, but seems to happen with frequency now in my early 40's. Finding that right balance of fluids and electrolytes for hot weather long course racing will be interesting and a learning experience for me this year... and I'm guessing I'll need to err on the side of being extremely focused on pushing tons of fluids and sodium.

I'll keep you posted regarding my findings at Eman. I have good fitness now and should race well... but leg cramps can quickly derail well intended race goals. In the meantime, remember to focus on YOUR training nutrition needs too!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sponge Bob & Sports Nutrition??

Sports nutrition products are very effective. Since I started using powerbars for training and racing back in the late 1980's, I've always tried the latest and greatest to see how they work.

Now there are chews, gels, fizzy tablets, powders... you name it, creative and entrepreneurial minds have invented a way to package it, make it taste 'good' and get into your cycling jersey pocket for a mid-ride snack.

My favorite product lately has been 'chews', or 'chomps' or 'bites', depending on which manufacturer you prefer. Unlike a gel, they aren't messy and deliver a similar wallop of carbohydrate and electrolytes. I also like the sensation of chewing something more than I do 'drinking/eating' a gel.

So yesterday I was headed out on a ride and discovered I was out of my favorite 'chew' product. It was time to get creative, like MacGyver.

My daughters love fruit snacks and we have a couple boxes of them in the house for snack attacks. Dora and Sponge Bob rule our family entertainment time, so of course, we have Dora and Sponge Bob fruit snacks. I like them too actually... pretty tasty, and according to the box, not horribly bad for you. I mean, beeswax and 'red 40' color are listed in the ingredients along with some other chemical compounds I can't pronounce, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed these are safe and won't make my kids turn into the shape of their fruit snacks.

Upon further investigation, I find that each pouch has 90 calories, 21 gr of carbohydrate and 40 mg of sodium, not to mention 20% USRDA of Vitamin C and is gluten free. Bingo! A convenient substitute for my normal sports performance chews and probably better for me than twizzlers or tootsie rolls. I took a few packages and had one per hour during my 3-hour ride (along with water), and felt fine. As a bonus, they tasted good too.

I'm not recommending that you give up your favorite training nutrition and replacing it with Sponge Bob (oohhh... who lives in a pineapple under the sea....) fruit snacks... but if needed, they'll do in a pinch!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Race Reports - Tempe International and Memphis in May

The 2010 tri season is now underway! I have to admit, I am really enjoying the feeling of racing again. Although I've spectated (as a coach) at dozens of races over the past decade, I have not been a participant on the race scene since 2005 (when I did a couple Ironmans 'for the fun of it'). My last serious year of focused training and competition was 2003, when I did several short course races in the Mid Atlantic. Before that, I hung up the ole racing flats in 2000, my last year with a pro card when I decided I had a enough of the sport as a competitor due to burnout and 'life' stuff.

Now I'm almost 41 and life has me back in tri-geek mode and starting to remember what I missed when not racing. I decided awhile ago that 2010 would be the year to get back into race mode and 2011 to near my potential as a Masters athlete. 'Race mode' is that almost unexplainable physical, emotional and mental state where you feel strong, fast and can tolerate high levels of discomfort. In this state, you also engineer your life to accommodate your fitness gains by eating better, trying to rest more and train with a greater sense of focus. It's awesome to be in that zone again.

I've raced two triathlons so far this year, over the past two weekends, in my attempt to shake the rust off. The first was the Tempe International Triathlon (Arizona) and the second was the storied Memphis in May Triathlon (TN)... both 'C' races on the scale of priority.

Tempe was a great intro back to the sport. A well run race at a great venue (Tempe Towne Lake), this race attracts a top Arizona field of athletes. My lead up to the race was less than ideal as we shot a new virtual reality video of the Irondistance bike course the day before which had me on the bike for half the day baking in the AZ sun, but the race went well nonetheless. I had some minor hiccups on race day due to my 'rust', including difficulty in transition, tweaking my bike position on my new Kestrel and simply learning how to pace myself again... but that's what first races of the year are all about... debugging the system. I finished a solid 3rd OA in under 2:02 and was pleased... feeling stronger already.

This past weekend , I did the Memphis in May Triathlon, a long standing popular Olympic distance race. It always attracts a strong National caliber field of age groupers and pros, so it's a really good test. The time trial start was interesting, as 1500 or so athletes went off in 3 sec. increments. The conditions of the day were horrific with temps in the 90's and humidity to match.... people were dropping like flies at the finish line. Again, I had some early season rustiness, including difficulty getting into my shoes on the bike and almost falling over followed by cramps in my hamstrings on the hot, hilly run... but did ok with a 1:55:30 finish and winning the Masters division against a tough bunch of competitors.

This week is a recovery week after two weekends of hard racing. My aging body needs it... as it feels sore and tired as it absorbs the new intensity only experienced on the race course. My next race is Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in mid-June... a race I won 3-times back "in the day" (mid-late 1990's). I don't have any illusions of winning or even placing in the top tier for that matter, but I am hoping that I can continue to shake the rust off and have a respectable finishing time compared to when I was 28. We'll see!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my little 'comeback' and I'm really jazzed about the sport. I find that many age group athletes who focus on long course typically neglect doing short course races... and I think that's a mistake. Remember to race yourself in to your best form and to build some speed. Not to mention the fact you'll enjoy your training and the sport even more, having fun with short term race goals throughout the year.

That's all for now... thanks for reading. See you at the races!!

- Coach Troy

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bike Riding in rural Maryland & training by 'Feel'

After more then a week of traveling, it's good to be home again. This past trip to Maryland included visiting family, attending and speaking at the Multisport World Expo in NYC, shooting three new Spinervals videos in Annapolis and doing a series of other video clips. It was a busy trip. I flew solo too with my 6 yr old and 2 yr old... which always makes for interesting long plane rides!

I grew up riding my bike in the rural countryside of Maryland, up near Pennsylvania. I love the twisting, narrow rural roads and almost endless choices to get from A to B during rides. I was reminded too how challenging it is to ride on 'rolling' terrain as the hills are short yet very steep. Power outputs spike up as you climb for 20-30 seconds then drop as you descend, over and over and over. You end up burning a lot of 'matches' during those short anaerobic efforts. On the other hand, here in Tucson most of our rides are less severe and allow for more 'steady state' riding. I can see where both areas have their advantages and disadvantages for cycling fitness development. If you ever want to get your butt kicked on the bike, go to Tri-Speed in north Baltimore and join them on a Saturday group ride in the hills of Baltimore County!

I left my Cannondale Cyclocross bike at my parent's house for riding during my East coast visits. Here's a picture. I don't have any power meter or HR monitor... just the bike. I must say I got in some great workouts (it has road tires) in the hills, while enjoying the countryside. It was especially nice to ride my old routes and not to worry about measuring my intensity... just to go out and ride. I believe it's important to sometimes leave the power and heart rate measuring devices at home and go simply by feel and perceived effort. It helps to develop your sense of self awareness and helps to keep training 'fresh' so that you don't get stale.

So, in your next long workout, consider turning the power meter off and leaving the HR monitor at home and go by feel. Just ride, not worrying about the metrics. I bet you'll enjoy it!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Spinervals taped in Annapolis, Maryland

We have new Spinervals DVDs 'in the can'! These new titles, volumes 36 - 38.0 in the competition series, are scheduled to be released in October 2010.

We shot these new titles at the Annapolis Maritime Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. We were able to videotape outside, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The set was great, with a sunny day and boats off in the background.

The first workout featured Team 4Mil. This is a group of active military personnel who are doing RAAM (Race Across America) to support the Wounded Warrior Project. 10% of the revenues generated from this DVD goes to the cause. The focus of the workout was on threshold and building your TT pace.

The next video was one combining threshold and V02max training. It featured 34 athletes from the Annapolis Tri Club and the Annapolis Bike Racing Team, all wearing their team kits.

The last video was a combination technique and power development workout, again featuring athletes from the local cycling and tri communities.

Overall it was a great day and the athletes showed a lot of passion for cycling!

Our next videotaping takes place in mid-May in Las Vegas at Lake Las Vegas resort! We're partnering with Iron Girl to produce two new workout featuring Iron Girl racers. If you're interested in being selected to participate, send your bio to asap!

That's all for now.
Train smart!
Coach Troy

Friday, April 9, 2010

Consider trying a "Crash" Training Block

Now that our winter training camps here in Tucson are completed, it's nice to sit back and reflect back on the camps, the benefit of them to the athlete and what we can do to make them better in the future.

One thing is for camps WORK! They are effective training tools for boosting fitness, building momentum, paring down to race weight and creating a sense of focus for the new season and upcoming races.

High volume (and sometimes, high intensity) training over several days in a row (3-5) can serve to bring about substantial gains in fitness. This is a 'breakthrough' block of training that will wear the athlete down... but then after a few days (or even weeks) of recovery, they usually feel stronger and faster. (WARNING: Do not try this UNLESS you are physically prepared - otherwise, you open yourself to getting hurt!).

For 2010, we had two camps that were separated by a week 'off'. I find that this training scenario is ideal as the athlete gets a nice dose of training and can then take at least a few days (or even the full week) to recover... followed by another intense dose of training over 3-5 days. Try this type of training pattern once on your own to see what I mean.

Here's what we did for camp #2 this year.
Day one: Brick - 70 mile aerobic endurance ride, then run 4-5 miles aerobic
Day two: Hilly half marathon at race pace, followed by a 90 min. recovery spin and then an easy swim
Day three: Mt. Lemmon Climb of 2 hours, steady tempo (3.5 - 4 hrs of total riding)
Day four: Swim workout, then 10-12 mile (or 90 min.) aerobic run
Day five: Hard bike hill repeat workout then short 4-5 mile aerobic run

As you can see, we combined a fair amount of intensity with volume, including the Mt Lemmon tempo ride and the hill repeat workout for the bike as well as the half marathon (tempo) and 10 miler for the run. We had good overall multisport training balance too. When this type of high volume/high intensity block of training is over... several days to a week (or more) of 'easy training' is in order to bounce back. Of course, you should only embark on this type of crash training block if your fitness allows for it... don't get in over your head!

Be sure to check out our 2011 Tucson Training camp program, which will be open for registration very soon. We're including two cycling-only camps for intermediate and advanced riders, as well as our typical tri-training camp. Click HERE for more 2010 camp info and registration.

In the meantime, train smart!

- Coach Troy

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reflecting back: 2010 Tucson Training Camps

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend. We sure did... with incredible sunny and warm weather here in Tucson, my two girls enjoyed hunting for Easter eggs and finding their basket from the Easter Bunny. The rest of the weekend was relaxing, including some solid training with a 70 mile ride, a swim (yep, starting to get in the pool more often) and a run. I was hoping ole' EB would leave some goodies for yours truly... but no such luck this year. :)

Last week we finished up with our 2nd Tucson Camp of 2010. It was a great week with some awesome people. While camps are very busy and 'stressful' at times for me as the camp organizer (regarding the safety of the campers), they are also so much fun and rewarding... personally and professionally. For me, it's a point of contact as people I might coach via phone/internet are able to come out and train with me one on one. As a coach, I get a better sense of who the athlete is and what makes them tick, as well as what's needed to make them better as competitors. I also get a chance to meet Spinervals fans and spend time with them... getting feedback regarding the Spinervals series and how to improve it, as well as hear how the DVD's have helped them improve as athletes. It's especially cool when some people can quote certain, as they call them, 'troyisms' from the videos. Often quoted are "You'll pass out before you die." and "anyone can suffer for 10 seconds!". :)

Every year we try to do something different with camp and this year was no different. For example, we incorporated the option of running the half marathon or 5K into the program. We also increased our ride time up Mt. Lemmon to 2 hours, and in camp #2, did a brutal set of hill repeats one day. For next year... we have some new changes in the works, including a cycling-only camp for advanced riders (no TT bikes allowed!). Look for early bird registration to open soon for March 2011 Tucson training camps at and

Have a great week!
- Coach Troy

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We're in day 2 of Tucson camp #2 and having a great training experience so far. This camp includes 17 athletes from throughout the country and Canada... and as always, everyone is as nice as can be. We have some very accomplished athletes at this camp too... including a couple Ironman Hawaii finishers and some top age group athletes. The balance of experience levels is great with several folks new to endurance sports competition as well.

Yesterday, we rode our now infamous San Manuel ride, which is a challenging 70 miler, followed by a 30-40 minute run. The weather was great, with temps in the 60's and sunshine, but with some steady winds. After a lecture on nutrition, we went over to a former camper's home for dinner and drinks. Situated high in the Tortilita Mountains, this new resort-like home offered incredible views of the valley and the mountains.

This morning, over half of the group ran (some pictured here) the Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon or 5K Road Race. It was a beautiful morning with temps in the low 40's warming to the 60's. The course is touted as 'rolling hilly' ... but most would agree it's a very tough race. Everyone had a great time and we'll be planning on this event again for future camps. Go here for results,

Those who chose not to run rode 50 miles instead. The runners then went out on a 1.5 hr 'easy spin' at noon to loosen the legs, which felt great! Then we had a 3 pm swim, totaling around 2500 yds, followed by a lecture on bike fit at 5pm.

Overall it was a great day of training in Tucson with cloudless skies, warm conditions and a nice mix of high intensity racing with some lower intensity recovery. Tomorrow (Monday) is our ride up Mt. Lemmon... always a memorable experience!

Train Smart,
- Coach Troy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CPR saves the Day

I just had one of those life defining moments I wanted to share with you. Still a little shaken, so it'll be brief.

This morning I was having a bagel and coffee at a local bagel stop in town when a group of cyclists rolled up for morning coffee. It's a local cycling club of retirees who take a little breakfast break each morning.

As I sat there, I noticed that one of them was on their hands and knees... a gentleman in his late 60's or early 70's. One of his fellow riders ran into the bagel shop yelling to call 911. All of a sudden, the gentleman slumped over onto his side.

I ran out of the shop as people stood around. Fortunately, a physician had pulled in to the parking lot to grab a bagel and quickly ran over the the cyclist. She assessed his condition and he was not breathing and had no pulse.

I quickly got down on my knees beside him and began giving chest compressions as she gave mouth to mouth. His eyes were slightly open and rolled back in his head and still showed no signs of life. I was counting my compressions, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.... As she give 2 breaths every 15 or so, then reassessed his condition. After about 50 compressions, he gasped and started very labored breathing. He was alive. We rolled him to his side as paramedics arrived on the scene within 5 minutes to take over (pictured above).

Fortunately, the man had medical information with him. He had recently had a heart attack and several other life threatening conditions apparently. The EMT's whisked him away in the ambulance in minutes.

I had never been part of something like that... but was very glad to have gone through CPR training in the past and to be able to keep my wits during the situation. It was a bit of a blur while it was happening, but I remember his riding buddies standing around cheering him on , urging him to breath and 'come back' when he was non-responsive.

Afterwards, I was shaking -- and still am a little bit. I started to get choked up too , thinking about that poor guy and how close he was to not coming 'back'. It also reminded me how important it is to know CPR and to carry medical information with you as a cyclist. You never know what's going to happen out there.

Ugh, what a morning! It puts a new perspective on what it means to be healthy. I need to go for an easy ride now. Live every day to it's fullest.

Train safe,
Coach Troy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cycling in the Cold Rain

For 39 years I lived in Maryland and for about 20 of those years was a year-round outdoor cyclist, except in the very worst weather conditions. I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I've spent riding (and running) in crappy weather, from high winds to driving snows to cold rainy days...suffering for my 'art'. Of all the crappy weather I mentioned, the worst to me is cold rain.

I love Tucson for its's one of the reasons I relocated here from Maryland. 300+ sunny days a year with short winters where temps rarely dip under freezing (at night) and precipitation is low. It's truly a great cycling destination as each winter, pro teams and cycling enthusiasts from around the country come here to enjoy the high desert scenery and outdoor lifestyle.

So, today it was 64 degrees, winds in the low teens from the north and overcast with a 20% chance of rain in the afternoon. Not bad... so I got ready for my 30 mile aerobic training ride, wearing knickers, a thermal long sleeve cycling jersey and toe warmers...perfect clothing for a mild day. In looking at the sky, something told me to bring my rain jacket too.. just in case. The drizzle started to pick up as I rolled out of my neighborhood. As I got out to the main road (Oracle Road) and started to head north, the rain started coming down hard and the temperature started to drop precipitously. The winds also started to pick up too, driving the rain and me back as I headed uphill and north into stiffening headwind with occasional gusts. I was wet and cold to the core and started to shiver. Thankfully, I had that rain jacket and a base layer on underneath my jersey. My legs were soaked, but the knickers covered my knees, providing a little bit of needed warmth.

After 1.5 hrs on the road freezing my bootie (my 2 year old's favorite word) off, I made it back home. My fingers were so cold and numb, I had to get my 6 year old to help unzip my jacket and take my gloves off. After defrosting in a hot shower, I found out that the temperature had dropped from the mid-60's to 53 degrees and the winds were gusting to over 20 mph. Being cold and wet on the bike is no fun, don't you agree?! It's amazing how quickly and dramatically weather conditions can change here in the desert at this time of year... wow! It seems to be par for the course here lately as last week at camp climbing Mt. Lemmon, we went from comfortable 60 deg. temps at the base of the mountain to cold winds and temps in the upper 30's (with snow on the ground) at mile marker 17 and above!

My 'coaching moment' here is to remind you to always be prepared for changing weather conditions when there's even a slight chance of it. You're better off overdressing with multiple layers that can be peeled off (and carrying a rain jacket) then under dressing and risking hypothermia, or worse! Also, always have a contingency plan... or choose a route that enables you to get back home quickly if needed. For example, today I should have ridden for 45 min. - one hour and then hopped on the trainer (doing a spinervals of course!) for the balance of the time.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be sunny and 70 degrees here... I'll be carrying a wind vest and arm warmers 'just in case'!

- Train Smart,
Coach Troy

Sunday, March 21, 2010

That 'A HA!' Moment & Bike Fit

I was out for a short recovery ride after my long run today and thought about bike comfort and riding efficiency. That's kind of a geeky thing to think about I realize - but hey, I do this stuff for a living!

Any way, I was riding my 2006 Litespeed Vortex with DA, Zipp 404 rear (w/powertap) and Mavic Carbone front with my Profile clip-ons thinking, "Man, this bike set up fits me like a glove!". It's a nice feeling when you feel 'dialed in'.

The truth is that it takes a ton of trial and error to find that 'right' fit. I know there are lots of formulas out there, as well as experts in the bike fitting industry, but I feel that the best fit comes from trial and error and seeing what works best for you. Certainly having a good baseline fit is important, but after that it's important to tweak your position incrementally until you have that 'a ha!' moment. Some people just go by the advice of their fitter... taking it for gospel and think, "hey, if he (or she) says this is how it should feel, I guess this is the perfect fit for me!". Well, that couldn't be further from the truth because no matter how experienced, smart and well-educated that fitter is, he/she still doesn't walk around in your skin. Make sense?

So, the moral of this story is to establish a good baseline fit with the help of an expert but be prepared to then ride with your wrenches for subtle tweaks here and there until you feel the bike fits like a glove... just like my Vortex does right now. :)

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tucson Camp #1

Just finished up a couple days ago with Tucson Camp #1. What a great 4-days and a nice group of people! Coming to Tucson from as far away as the east coast and Canada, we had a truly focused group of campers.

This was our 9th year for the March Tucson camp and each year it seems to offer something unique and different. This year, we decided to ride 2 hours up Mt. Lemmon before turning around. As the weather here has been very cold lately, we ran in to 35 deg. temps and arctic gusts of wind above mile marker 10 and there was a ton of snow on the ground past mile marker 15. The winds made for an interesting (scary) descent as you had to white knuckle the bars to avoid getting blown off the cliff. Mt. Lemmon is always an epic riding experience for everyone.

Here's what our training looked like for the camp:

Day One
70 mile ride, out and back, to San Manuel from Oro Valley followed by a 40 minute run. In the afternoon, we swam a light 2000 yd workout. Evening included a lecture and then we all went to dinner.

Day Two
65 mile ride. We warmed up with a nice spin to Saddle Brook (20 miles) and then reorganized and blasted out a timed, 7 mile TT / Tempo ride around Rancho Vistoso Blvd.! We finished up with a ride to Dove Mountain and back to the hotel, followed by a 30 min aerobic run. After a lecture in the evening, campers were t i r e d.

Day Three
6 am Masters Swim at the Oro Valley Community Pool. It was a 1 hr workout with over 1000 yds of kick sets!! (ouch!). Then we loaded everyone up and headed over to Mt. Lemmon. The idea was to ride 2 hrs up the mountain at a steady, comfortable pace and then turn around. It was about 3.5 hrs of total riding that day, including warm up and cooldown. Lunch after, followed by rest, a lecture and then a group dinner at Cayton's at the Ritz Carlton Resort in Dove Mountain. Great food and great views!

Day Four
6 am Swim. Longer sets of 300's. Then campers have the option of riding 40 miles or running 1.5 hours prior to departing at noon.

We have Camp #2 coming up next week with about 15 athletes in attendance. Some will do the 4-day program and some the 7-day program. Weather is expected to be in the upper 70's and sunny! I'm sure we'll have another great training camp.

I hope you can join us someday if you have not already! Early season training camps like this are a great way to build some fitness and some momentum for the new season.

Train smart,
- Coach Troy