Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I was just tipped off this morning by triathlete (and future client) Evan Barry that Rhode Island will play host to a new 70.3 race next year! I am beyond excited about this development! I hopped over to, and sure enough, there it was: IronMan 70.3 Rhode Island, July 13th, 2008. $25,000 Pro Purse.

Under optimal circumstances, I prefer to hit a half iron/70.3 race every 5 weeks. My body doesn't seem to recover from races as fast as most, a fact that I attribute to the effort I must lay down during races in order to make up for my lack of natural ability. I'm beat to hell for about 7+ days after a half I.M.

I also prefer to utilize 5 week blocks as they allow me some time for R&R the week after a big race. Yes, I'm racing Pro in 2008, but I still have a full time job and need to make time for the simple pleasures in life like going to the beach, going for walks, staying up late and having fun, etc. All work and no play makes Janda a dull boy and it's not fair for Michelle either as she already has to deal with my training, racing and work related mood swings.

Lastly, the fact that the race goes down on July 13th means that I can focus 100% of my attention on the members of my crew that'll be racing up in Lake Placid on July 20th! Michelle and I will pack the car up mid week, head north, do a little sightseeing up in Montreal, and then swing back down to IronMan Lake Placid and support 4 of my athletes who'll be toeing the line and digging deep. It'll be a real thrill to watch them, and a bunch of my friends, from the sidelines. I hope to learn a little something from the Pro race as well and apply my observations to my own approach/tactics should I decide to cap my '08 season with IronMan Florida instead of 70.3 Worlds. I figure that I'll make the call on IMFL sometime mid season once I get a sense for how I'm doing on the professional 70.3 circuit.

So... without further ado, my updated '08 race calendar*:
  • PowerMan Alabama (April 13th)
  • Wildflower Long Course Triathlon (May 3rd)
  • Eagleman 70.3 (June 8th)
  • Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon - Olympic Distance (June 22nd)
  • Rhode Island 70.3 (July 13th)
  • Timberman 70.3 (August 17th)
  • Muskoka 70.3 (September 14th)
  • **Escape to Bermuda Triathlon - Olympic Distance (October 26th)
  • IronMan Florida (November 1st) OR IronMan 70.3 World Championship (November 8th)

*Training/tune up events not listed

**If heading to Clearwater for IronMan 70.3 Worlds instead of IMFL.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lowell Monster Dash Duathlon

Well, the engine is tuned up and ready to go. I was very happy with my performance yesterday, as it was a clear indication that my fitness is high and that I'm ready to roll in 12 days time when I toe the line in Clearwater, Florida for the 2007 IronMan World 70.3 Championship.

I will be honest in stating that I was starting to feel a bit run down thanks to my workload (school and coaching) and intensive training schedule. Last Tuesday, I had one of the weakest rides of my life, and it was a clear indication that my body had had enough! Although I was tempted to continue pushing on with the original training plan, I came to my senses, realized that I have over 11 months of hard-core training behind me, and decided to enter my taper phase a few days earlier than planned.

It was the right call, as the body felt absolutely fantastic yesterday. I've never clipped along at low 5 min. mile pace so effortlessly. The first 5k of the Duathlon seemed more like a tempo run than a VO2 max effort. The bike course, although a bit rolling and pretty windy, didn't present much of a challenge, as I ripped through it feeling strong and in control the entire way. I must note that the bike loop utilized most of the same roads that the Lowell Olympic distance Triathlon did, where I had my worst outing of the year thanks to a 2 month health related layoff (see "Rusty" in my August blog section for more info.) so yesterday was very much a form of personal vindication for me. Simply put, it was nice to "stick it" to the same roads that beat me down back in early August.

I wrapped things up by clipping off the final 5k (minus T2 time) in sub 17, feeling pretty strong once the legs loosened up by the first half mile or so. Factor in the 3 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down run, and it was a great time trial/training day. Just what I needed.

What made the day even better was seeing one of my newest athletes, rising triathlon star Amanda Russell (pictured), in action. Amanda signed on right after the Nutmeg State Half IronMan (where she finished 2nd!), and we're both heading to Clearwater to compete at 70.3 Worlds. This is only Amanda's FIRST multisport season, and yesterday was her first career victory! I expect that it will be the first of many...

Triathlon fans should keep their eye on this talented 31 year old, as I expect great things. Amanda is focusing upon long course racing, with her primary objective being a successful assault on the 2008 IronMan Lake Placid Course! She'll be joining 3 of my other athletes at next year's event, and I look forward to cheering them all on from the sidelines!

In the mean time, we'll see what kind of 1 - 2 punch Amanda and I can deal out down in Clearwater. We spiced yesterday's tune up race up a bit by placing a friendly wager on our performances. We agreed upon a 13 minute handicap, with the loser having to buy the "winner" their choice of beverage after the dust settles and the end of season celebrations begin on Clearwater Beach. I'm glad that I won the bet this time, but it might be harder to do so in the future, especially the way that Amanda is rolling.

So that's that. My only issue at this point in time is the sciatica that makes running all the more "interesting." Fortunately, it's not slowing me down, but it'll be a relief to get through Clearwater unscathed and then spend a few weeks fattening myself up and being lazy before I'm right back at it and begin prepping for 2008 and my assault on the North American Pro long course triathlon circuit.

*Lowell Monster Dash Race Results
*(Note that the bike course was actually 15 miles vs. the 13.5 listed on the results page, and that T1 was factored into the splits as well, hence the slow bike times/paces. I will also note that T2 was factored into the second run time, so take that for what's it's worth)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Three weeks of intensive long course training DONE. It's time to start sharpening up and tapering down.

This past block has been a good one, but I'd be lying if I said that I'm not looking forward to the Clearwater finish line and the 3 week break that lies on the other side of it.

The fitness is there. I capped things off with a 40k pace segment + intensive interval set yesterday splitting 1 hour even for the pace ride under somewhat windy conditions, and then laying down some VO2/Lactate tolerance intervals feeling very in control and powerful throughout.

Today's session was a 16 miler on my favorite course: the "Around the Cape" loop run in reverse so that I get to "enjoy" the hills for miles 9 - 15. I was clicking off 6:30 - 6:10 pace for the entire run and eclipsed my best training time this year by about 45 seconds. Considering that I ran 1:15:18 at Eagleman, that's a good sign. I think that a 1:14 is possible at Clearwater if EVERYTHING goes right...

However... the body is starting to come unglued. I've been dealing with sciatica and a screwed up SI joint since 9/24 (Nutmeg State Half fall out). My knees are starting to ache, the calcium deposit on my right hip is back and hurts from time to time and yes, I'm a bit tired.

No matter, as I'm fully aware that aches and pains, fatigue etc. are all just part of the game. I savor it all and know how lucky I am to be able to do what I do day in, day out.

Yesterday I got word that one of my old High School teachers, who is now the Principal at Marblehead (MA) High School (where Michelle works as a French Teacher), lost his 22 year old daughter to a car crash that happened Friday night on the Mass Pike. Although I'm not really close with the family, I've known them for as long as I can remember, have shared a good conversation or 2 and have run by their house just about every Sunday for years while out on my weekly long run.

As I ran by today, 15 miles into the session, they were all outside standing in a close knit circle, embracing, grieving and trying to make sense of it all. I had been thinking about them during my run today and was torn as to whether or not I should stop and share my condolences. I kept on running however as I didn't want to disrupt what might have been a very important moment for the family. As I choked back the tears and ran on, I could only imagine the pain these people are facing now and will be facing for years to come. I can't think of anything worse than losing one's child or sibling, especially when it's someone so young and full of life.

Athletics, for me at least, are a means of celebrating the gift that we are all given: Life. Good race, bad race, tough workout or new PR; it's really irrelevant in the end. Enjoy it while you can and savor the experience. If you're able to do what you love to do on a daily basis, have your health, family and friends, you're one lucky individual.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Time to Pull the Trigger

Hawaii '07... What a race!

I had a hard time pulling myself away from the computer to train yesterday as streamed live coverage of the IronMan World Championships from 11 a.m. EST until late last night.

Love him or hate him, Chris McCormack finally pulled it off and laid down the an incredibly strong performance, posting splits of 51 min. in the swim, 4:37 on the bike and then an amazing 2:42 marathon. The competition was fierce, but he played it smart, kept grinding it out, and eight hours and 15 minutes later was crowned the new IronMan World Champion. Fellow Australian and Hawaii rookie, Craig Alexander, gave McCormack a real run for his money but ultimately, strength trumped speed late in the game. I believe that the gap between these 2 men was somewhere around 30 sec. to 1 minute right up until mile 18 or so on the run. As Alexander's fluid stride rate began to slow late in the late stages of the marathon, McCormack powered on, and proved to the world that he truly is the best long course triathlete in the world.

On the woman's side, it was a one woman show: Christine Wellington, who won this year's IronMan Korea (despite temperatures that reached 120 degree!), took control on the bike and never looked back. She was AMAZINGLY strong throughout the entire day, waving and smiling to fans throughout the run while posting a 2:59 marathon split. IronMan rookie Samantha McGlone had a great day as well, finishing 5 or 6 min. back from Wellington and proving that she'll be a force to be reckoned with at the I.M. distance from here on in.

What an inspiration to watch these athletes duke it out.

Next year, I'll be 32 years old and racing on the Pro circuit. I had toyed with the idea of hitting IronMan Lake Placid in July, but since I've committed to teaching through the end of the school year, I know that I won't have enough time to train the way I need to in order to pull off the performance that I feel I'm capable of at the IronMan distance. However... come June 20th, I'm 100% self employed and will have all the time in the world to simply run my coaching business and train.

This being said, it's looking like I'll be focusing upon the half I.M./70.3 distance throughout the spring and summer and then capping my '08 campaign off with an I.M. debut at IronMan Florida. The goal: Qualify for the '09 IronMan World Championship.

As it stands, my '08 race calendar is looking something like this:

  • PowerMan Alabama (April 13th)
  • Wildflower Triathlon (May 3rd)
  • Rye-by-the-Sea Duathlon (May 31st)
  • Eagleman 70.3 (June 8th)
  • MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon (June 29th)
  • Spirit of Racine Triathlon (July 20th) OR Newfoundland 70.3 (July 27th)
  • Timberman 70.3 (August 17th)
  • Escape to Bermuda Triathlon - Olympic Distance (October 19th)
  • IronMan Florida (November 1st)

More to come (but not until next year!) on the theory behind this race progression, but when coupled with the right training, I feel that it'll leave me ready to roll come November 1st, 2008.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Can I get a Hell Yeah?!?!

I was feeling pretty beat up and sorry for myself after this weekend's workload: A pretty hard 82 mile ride on Saturday followed by a less than stellar 18 mile long run on hilly terrain today. The season, and my intensive workload (training, coaching and teaching) is starting to wear on me a bit. I'm looking forward to taper time, Clearwater and a 3 week end of season break!

Thankfully, I received some GREAT news today! Up and coming long course stud Liam O'Connell (pictured) LAID IT DOWN at today's Long Horn Half Iron Triathlon in Austin, TX, taking second place overall and the overall amateur champion title! Simply put, Liam "SMOKE CHECKED" the entire Pro field save one, under BRUTAL conditions. Last time that I checked, running a half marathon after swimming 1.2+ miles (the swim was long) and biking 57 + (the bike was long too - I guess that everything really is bigger down in Texas!) isn't a very easy task, but to do so under 95 degree temperatures and a scorching sun?!?! Damn...

Long course newbie and fellow Texan, Natalie Miller, also had a GREAT day, destroying her old half I.M. PR by over 40 minutes, this despite the heat, long course, rugged course profile and the fact that we've only been working together for about 2 months. Way to go Natalie! And just think... this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Keep an eye out for Liam as he'll be racing again in 3 weeks at the Iron Star Half Iron Triathlon in Conroe, TX. The goal: Take the overall win.

I'm 8 short months away from living my dream: Full time coaching while racing on the Pro circuit. I get emotional just thinking about it. I am so thankful that I'm able to coach full time for a living as working with athletes is my true passion and calling in life. It's hard to even call it "work."

What I'm most excited about is the fact that I've recently picked up a bunch of new athletes, many of whom are young (22 - early 30s), hungry and full of talent. A few in particular are going to absolutely set the U.S. long course scene on fire next year and I can't wait to be a part of the action! Stay tuned, as I'll be unveiling their names and primary racing objectives come the beginning of 2008.

In the mean time, check out the Long Horn results. Note the ridiculously slow run times. This was a suffer fest of a race if there ever was one.

Great job once again Liam and Natalie! You made my day!

Liam's Blog:

Monday, October 1, 2007

6 Week Countdown

This is it: The final 6 week "Comp" cycle of 2007. I can't wait to get back down to Clearwater and will be in heavy 70.3 prep mode for the next 3.5 weeks. I've got a couple of tune up events on the board for the month of October: A 10k on 10/13 and a sprint duathlon on 10/28, but outside of that, life will revolve around a high quality mix of volume, pace, threshold and VO2 max training for most of this month. Bring it! I'm ready to get back to work.