May 13

PR Hunting

Two weeks ago, Jennie and I did the Rivertown Races Half Marathon & 5k. Half Marathon for me. 5k for Jennie and Nate. This was a fantastic race! Especially considering the fact that most of GR was underwater and the race had to be relocated at the last minute. Despite the relocation, they put on a near flawless race for their inaugural year. My goal for the race was to improve my PR from a couple weeks earlier (1:31:06) and officially best my unofficial PR (1:29:XX) that I ran during the first half of last year’s Woodland Marathon.

I met up with a couple guys from the RunGR group before the race. They are both much faster than I but figured that I could try and pace off of them a least early on. As soon as the gun went off, I took off and quickly found my groove. I knew that I would have to shoot for a 6:50 pace to hit my goal. After getting comfortable in my pace, I hit the first mile in 6:27. Yikes. A little too fast. I tried to hold up a bit for mile 2 and pulled back to a 6:36. Better, but still fast. However, I was comfortable, so I decided to just go with it. I kept my teammates in sight in front of me and used them to judge my speed. Around mile 4, I had a guy catch me and I chatted with him for about a mile before I dropped back. It is nice how much having someone to run with makes the time fly by.

In no time, we hit the turnaround point of the out and back course. It was a small race so I knew I was only 12 or 13 guys back from leaders at the turn. I was still feeling great and at that point and I knew that I pretty much had my goal in the bag unless something catastrophic happened.

The back half of the course had quite a bit of uphills which explains why my early miles were so fast – they were downhill and I didn’t realize it. The worst of the hills were from miles 9 & 10 where my pace dropped to just over 7:00 min/mile pace. I got passed by a couple people during this stretch but as soon as the course flattened back out, I picked the pace back up. I was super impressed with how much cheering the fellow runners did. I felt like I had a constant stream of cheering and I passed runners still headed out to the turn around. I did my best to smile, clap, and return the cheers.

In no time, I was on the last mile. Up until this point, the miles seemed to just be clicking by with relative ease. The final mile, however, seemed to take forever. At each corner, I could see two people (one of whom I knew) behind me and I was determined to hold them off. As I passed by the one runner’s husband and daughter, I could hear them cheer her name so I knew she was right on my heals. It gave me the motivation I needed to keep the pace up.


In the end, I managed to hold them both off and finished in 1:27:57 – good enough for 15/145 OA and 6th in my age group. A whopping 3+ minute PR! I can’t wait until I turn 30 this summer though. This makes for the 3rd race of the year where I would have podiumed in the 30-34 age group. haha. Oh well!


We followed up the Rivertown Races with the River Bank Run this past weekend. This is 9th year in a row that I have done the 25k – gotta keep the streak alive. Out of all those years, there is only one year where I haven’t gotten a PR, and I was hunting another one. I have had the goal of going sub-1:50 in my head since late last year so that is what I was shooting for. Actually, after doing the math, I was modified my goal to 1:48:30 which would be a 7:00 min/mile pace.

We got to the race super early because the 5k started at 7:20 and Jennie was running it. I had hoped to watch her race before I started at 8:20, but because of a new staggered start, it took Jennie over 15 minutes to even cross the start line. I was able to see her get started, but by that time, I had to start to get ready myself.


I lined up with the 7:00 pace group at the start. My intention was to stick with them until the halfway point and then work on picking up the pace if I felt good. That isn’t quite how it turned out though. Right out of the gate, I set my own pace and clicked off the first two miles at 6:50-ish. A few miles later and I had already built up a full minute buffer between myself and the 7:00 pace group.

In the past, I have sort of struggled with my pace a bit at this race because there are so many people. I do better in smaller groups and often having all the other runners around makes it harder for me to focus on my own race. Not this year though. I completely zoned out, found a groove, and ran my own race.

The hills of Butterworth slowed me down a bit as usual but I was taking them in stride and not discouraged. However, at mile 13 the wheels really started to fall off and I had to hold on for dear life. This is totally my fault as my training for this race was a bit sub-par. My 2 long runs leading up to the race were two half marathons; I never ran the full 15.5 miles ahead of time. Nor did I do the recommended hill workouts. I paid for it during the final 2.5 miles.


Thankfully I held the final miles at a 7:00 min/mile pace so that I could hit my goal. I crossed the finish line in 1:47:58 shattering my previous PR by 6+ minutes! I couldn’t be more happy with the results.


After the race we cleaned up and met up with the RunGR group for some Mexican recovery food before promptly passing out on the couch for a long nap.

Thanks for reading!

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Apr 16

Two Race Weekend


Update: I had this post scheduled to go out this morning, but had to come back and make an update after the tragedy in Boston yesterday. I am deeply sadden by everything I am hearing out of Boston and my prayers go out to all those injured or killed. My hearted is buoyed by the sights and reports of runners running back into the chaos to help the victims, donate blood, and simply pull together as a community. It gives me chills to think that if not for 12 seconds last March, we’d probably have been there today. If you have a race shirt, wear it today in support of the victims.

Race 1: Martian Half Marathon

About two weeks ago, I won a free entry to the Martian Invasion of Races from the Refuel With Chocolate Milk group. With a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon available, I ended up deciding on the half marathon. Part of me wanted to do the full, but I knew that there is no way that I would be 100% ready so I decided to play it smart. In the end, it was a really good decision.

My goal for this race was to simply use it as a training run. In the back of my head, I had a plan of shooting for a 7:30min pace for the first 7 miles and then picking it up to 7:00min for the final 6. However, once I got started, that quickly changed. I logged a 7:04 for the first mile and felt great. I tried to reign it in for the 2nd mile, but my split was even faster. So, I decided to just go with it.

I was cruising along and feeling great. I ran with the same couple of guys pretty much the whole race. We traded spots back and forth every so often. It wasn’t until mile 11 that my legs started to feel tired. At that point there was no way I was going to let myself slow down though.

I ended up finishing in 1:31:06 (6:59 average). 57th out of 1953 overall and 8th out of 83 in my age group. This actually goes down as my “official” half marathon PR. My unofficial half marathon PR is the first half of the Woodlands Marathon last year where Jeff and I did 1:29:XX. But this is my fastest stand alone half marathon time thus far.


As for the race itself, I really enjoyed the course this year. They had to make a last minute change to the course due to flooding. Typically, the course is a long out and back. With the change, we instead weaved through some neighborhoods and loop around different areas. It was a much more manageable course and much more spectator friendly in my opinion. The only problem with the changed course is that the full marathon racers started an hour and half or so before the half marathon and did two loops of the course. This meant that as we were starting, the full marathoners were starting their second loop. I felt so bad for them because all of a sudden they had hundreds of people with fresh legs zipping by them. In their shoes, I would have been very demoralized. Overall, it seems like this race has grown a bit too big over the past couple years since I last raced it. With all the events, it just seemed super chaotic at time. Granted, they did their best to keep it organized, but it still seemed like a lot was going on.

Race 2: Fisk Knob Time Trial

The 2nd race of the weekend was the Fisk Knob Time Trial. I raced this last year and was anxious to get back out there and better my results. Unfortunately, the course changed this year and it was only 15 miles instead of 17.5 so no direct comparison. Plus, the weather this year was much less conducive to fast racing than last year – barely above freezing with blowing wind.

After layering up in as many layers I could stand and still be able to move, I started to do a warmup. That is if you can really call it a warmup. I was FREEZING. I spent about 20 minutes riding around to get comfortable. It also gave me a chance to test out my new wheel cover. I was a bit hesitant to break it out for the first time on such a windy day but after 20 minutes, I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem.


Right out of the gate, I started to hammer it. I knew the wind was going to be at my back for the first half of the course so I decided to just go with it. I caught my first rider about 2 miles in and then set my sights on the next person.

Before I knew it, I hit the halfway turn around. I knew that the 2nd half of the course was going to be tougher with the headwind and that it had a lot more uphills to make up for the downhills on the first half. I dug deep and just focused. A few miles later and I was making the final climb to the finish line.

I ended up finishing in 39:10 which earned me a podium spot in the Cat 5 division – 3rd out of 40. 

Yes, that is snow. It freaking snowed after I was done.

And on top of that, I won a 6-pack of New Holland Monkey King beer in the raffle! Double win!


Stay tuned for a review of our new bike rack. Short review… I LOVE IT!

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Apr 10

Testing Time

With another year of training underway, I decided to create some baselines to work with. This involved figuring out my specific zones for each discipline. I have sort of done this in the past, but never really knew what I was doing or really used the results beyond the test. However, now that I have a power meter, I figure that I better actually make the most of it.

There are numerous different ways to calculate your power & heart rate zones and I decided on using Joe Friel’s method which you can read about here in detail if you want.


I did the bike test first. This involved 30 minutes of pure pain on the trainer last week – 20 minute warm up, 30 minute time trial, and then a 10 minute cool down. Using the Friel method, your FTP is your average power over the 30 minute time trial. A lot of methods use a 20 minute time trial effort and then taking 95% of your average power as your FTP. In the end, both test appear to have given similar results.

You can see where the pain occurred.

I definitely started out too hard and then began to fade off a bit towards the end. Also, I couldn’t seem to find a single gear to hold. In one I would struggle to keep 90RPM and the other I was spinning out at 105RPM. So, I started to switch back and forth between gears each minute as you can see by the peaks and valleys.

In the end, I finished with an FTP of 275W and a power to weight ratio of 3.7 which puts me in the range of a “good” Cat 3 rider. I’ll take it!

Broken down, my new power zones are as follows:

Zone 1: 151 or less
Zone 2: 151 – 203
Zone 3: 204 – 244
Zone 4: 145 – 289
Zone 5: 290 – 330
Zone 6: 330 +

I have an outdoor time trial this weekend and it will be interesting to see how my numbers compare in an outdoor, race setting.

There was a minor fail I the test though. I forgot to wear my HRM. Doh! With the power data, I shouldn’t have to worry about HR zones too much on the bike, but it would have still been good to have.


As for the running test, I did that tonight on the treadmill. The Friel method also uses a 30 minute test for the run. However, with the run test, the first 10 minutes of the test are thrown out and only the final 20 minutes are used.

I started off with a 15 minute warmup at 8min/mile pace before ramping it up to a 7min/mile pace. Then, for next 30 minutes, I bumped up the pace gradually every 5 minutes until finishing at a 6min/mile pace.


In the end, I finished with an average heart rate of 157bpm for the final 20 minutes.

Using Friel’s calculations, my new heart rate zones are as follows:

Zone 1: 0 – 133
Zone 2: 133 -  140
Zone 3: 141 – 147
Zone 4: 148 – 155
Zone 5a: 157 – 160
Zone 5b: 161 – 166
Zone 5c: 167 +


I hadn’t planned on doing a swim test, but I actually realized that I did one without knowing it. The Friel method recommends doing a 1,000yd time trial and dividing your time by 10 to calculate your T-time. As luck would have it, I just recently did an indoor triathlon with a 15 minute all out swim. I was timing my own laps using my stopwatch and hit the 1000 mark in 14:15. That puts me at a T-Pace of 1:26/100 yards.

So, testing is complete. Time to start continue to build!

Do you do FTP or HR testing? If so, what method do you use? How often do you repeat the tests?

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Mar 18

Week 1 Done

I am not really intending on doing weekly summaries (been there, done that), but I at least wanted to do one for the first week of training as a way of officially getting back in the groove.

I mixed around some of my workouts to fit my work schedule, but I managed to get all my workouts in. Overall, I felt great doing the workouts. My hardest day was a bike and swim back to back which is actually something I have never done before. Let’s just say, I am very glad the swim is the first leg of the race.

For my weekly speed work, I did the Irish Jig 5k – an annual tradition. The start is only a mile away and they have nice swag (tech shirt and pint glass) so it is hard to pass up. It is crazy how much of a difference a year makes though. Last year it was 70* at the start and I wore shorts and a t-shirt. This year it was a feels like temp of 18*. Brrrrr!

Last year vs. this year. Hello Nate (and nipples).

As 5k’s go, this is a bit of a tough course only because the first mile is all down hill and then the 2nd mile is all up hill. That means you get flying out of the gate faster than you should and then have to hold on for dear life. To add to the pain, this year we had a headwind for the entire 2nd mile.

I picked a bad starting position and spent the first half mile weaving and trying to get in a good position. Never the less, I ended up finishing in 19:45 (43 seconds slower than last year) good enough for 11th out of 211 in my age group. Considering I recently recovered from the plague flu, I really happy with the outcome. It is right where I had hoped to be at the start.

After finishing, I walked back to the start line with Jennie for her race. Men’s and women’s races are separate because it is such a big race – 4700 racers this year. I jumped in and ran with her for part of the race too. It was great to run with Jennie and Nate. We also got to see a friend who did IMMT out there (24 weeks pregnant) kicking butt too.

Later that afternoon I wrapped up the day’s workouts with a 2:40 trainer ride. We had Skyfall from Netflix so I hooked up a projector I have from work and watched that while I rode. Jennie and Bailey got the comfy spot on the futon. My legs were toast after an hour and the rest was a struggle.



Finally, you may have seen on FB that my Grandpa passed away this past week. Thank you very much for everyone who left a comment, texted, email, etc.. It really means a lot. While he was in an assisted living center, he went quicker than anyone foresaw. However, he did go peacefully and on his own terms. He was a great man and will remain in our hearts forever.


159 Days. The countdown is back on the sidebar.

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Mar 11

The Plan For 2013

Today kicks off the official start of my 2013 season. I’ve had a few fun races earlier this year, but all of my training has been completely unstructured. It was a lot of fun and gave me some time off mentally. However, now it is time to kick things into gear. Today is 24 weeks out from Michigan Titanium so I’ll be starting a 24-week training plan (basically the same plan I used to train for IMMT and IMWI).

Week 1 starts off nice and easy – only 11 hours of workouts. Today is a 1 hour bike and 1 hour swim. It should be interesting as they will be my first workouts in a week since getting sick. I tried to work out a couple times but was reduced to a fit of coughing. Fingers crossed!

As for a race schedule, here is what I have so far for this year. If there are any races you are going to be at, let me know so I can look for you!

Irish Jig 5k – 3/16 – This is a hard one to go fast at for me because it is fairly crowded. So much so that the men’s and women’s races are separate which is nice because Jennie and I get to cheer for each other. A couple weeks ago I had hope to flirt with a PR here but this flu has shot that idea down the crapper.

Barry Roubaix – 3/23 – I did this race for the first time last year. 35 miles of dirt and gravel roads. I have a nicer bike for this years race, but it really all comes down to road conditions. It is taking longer to warm up than last year which could make things interesting. Plus, the course is slightly different and they opened up registration to an extra 1000 riders.

Fisk Knob TT – 4/14 – Again, another repeat from last year. I’m hoping to crush the hell out of this time trial. 17-ish miles of all out speed with a killer climb to the finish line.

Rivertown Races Half Marathon – 4/27 – A new addition this year. Actually a brand new race altogether. I’m running the half and Jennie & Nate are doing the 5k. It was cheap and should be a good warm up for the River Bank Run.

River Bank Run 25k – 5/11 – A annual tradition. This will be 9 in a row. Depending on how training goes over the next couple months, I will determine if I am going to shoot for a PR (1:54-ish) or just try and maintain my 2 Hour Club status.

Trifecta – 5/19 – Not sure if this is happening this yet or not. I missed doing this one last year and want to check it out. 42 miles of dirt roads and single track visiting 3 different trail systems.

Grand Rapids Tri 70.3 – 6/9 – I’m looking forward for a comeback after a frustrating race last year. The bike course is slightly different than last year; a bit hillier but smoother roads so it should even out. However, it is 6 days before Nate’s due date so it could be a potential DNS.

MSU Gran Fondo or Reeds Lake 5k & 10k – 6/29 – I still have to pick one of these two events. I’m leaning towards the Gran Fondo because it is brand new and will be the first Gran Fondo in the area. The Reeds Lake 5k & 10k (you can race both because of staggered start times) is close to home though.

Tri Del Sol – 7/20 – Taking things back to where it all started. Tri Del Sol 2008 was my first tri ever. I did it again the following year but haven’t been back. It should be fun to see how fast I can go while doing endurance training.

Millennium Triathlon – 8/3 – Bringing back another race from my early days. I’ve done this one twice (signed up 3 times but the 3rd was cancelled because of weather).

Michigan Titanium 140.6 – 8/25 – The big races of the season. After volunteering last year, I am excited to participated this year. While not a Kona Qualifier, the smaller field should allow me to hopefully place fairly well. Plus, it isn’t every day that you can sleep in your own bed before an ironman race.

Reeds Lake Tri – 9/7 – This has become perenial season ender for me.

Bridge Run – 9/15 – This one has never fit into my schedule before and I have never raced a 10 miler before. I get a free entry this year though as part of the RunGR group.

Grand Rapids Marathon – 10/19 – Now that I have Lifetime Registration, why not? No idea what the plan will be but I would definitely consider doing MyTeamTriumph again like this past year.

There are a few other races and events that I would like to do, but they are secondary and it all depends on what my schedule looks like when it gets closer.

Ride Around Kent County – 5/18 – I did this 2 years ago and it is an awesome training ride. 150 miles around the county.

Greenville Tri – 6/2 – A buddy of mine is organizing this one and it would be great to support it. It all depends on Nate’s schedule for it though.

Jenison Tri – 5/18 – A new event this year – probably the earliest outdoor tri in the area. At this rate though, they better hope the water is warm enough for a swim.

Lowell 50 Spring/Fall – I did spring 28 mile course and fall 50 mile course last year. I’m going to be a fair weather racer this year though. If the weather is looking good, I may sign up at the last minute.

Honeycreek Duathlon – September – This was a fun event last year and I might go for it again if the weekend is open. I actually think duathlons might be harder than triathlons (at least for me). The run at the beginning really cooks the legs for the bike.

Iceman – 11/2 – This is a huge bike race up north. It is already sold out (filled up in 32 minutes) but they allow transfers.

Le Tour de Donut – September – Just depends on what else is going on but definitely a possibility if not simply for the donuts and cider.

Augusta Ironman 70.3 – 9/29 – This one has the potential to be a blast. Huge blogger meetup and a great race. It would, however, involve a 16 hour car ride with a 3 month old.

How is your training going? What are you big events for 2013?

Thanks for reading!

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