Reflections on 2016 & Planning for 2017 – 26 November 2016

Overall, 2016 was a good learning year. I powerlifted in the beginning and jacked my strength up. However, I put on a decent amount of weight and lost speed and endurance, so pure powerlifting is not something I can sustain to reach triathlon potential (it was fun though). I’ll need to find something that can give me decent strength but that I can sustain year round in conjunction with triathlon training. However, the technical foundation of performing the lifts is the biggest takeaway I learned – I didn’t realize that squatting and deadlifting were so technical to perform correctly, so that will be very important in the future. I also enjoyed the coaching and people in the gym, so hopefully I can find an environment like that again.

I also raced a lot and did some cool California races, started ocean swimming habitually with a group, and made a lot of new friends.

Total 2016 Races – 17 (2x 5k, 1x 10k, 2x Half Marathon, 1x OWS race, 11x triathlons)

Total 2016 Triathlons – 11 (3x sprints, 6x Olympic, 1x 70.3, 1x IM)

In the future, I plan on focusing more on 70.3 races as I feel I respond better to the increased volume. I can keep intensity close to Olympic training, but the added volume seems to help me with fitness. I don’t plan on racing another full Ironman until 2018. I’ve found that long bike rides wipe me out mentally, and shorter rides keep me fresh and relatively hungry. However, this could all be in my mind so we’ll see how 2017 progresses.

Additionally, I’m going to race far less in 2017 to focus on quality training and the “process.” I think I got sucked into the Kona train too much and I’ve found that wiping out the rest of my life (social, friends, family, etc) and going after strict time goals isn’t something I can sustain. I think that’s a weakness on my part so I need to focus on the process and have fun with the sport, otherwise this entire endeavor becomes unsustainable and exhausting.

Things I did well in 2016:

1. Got strong – I’ve never lifted that heavy before and now I have a foundation on how to do the technical lifts, so that will be useful.

2. Raced a lot – I don’t think I’ve packed that many races into a season before – lots of race experience.

3. Open Water Swimming – I’m pretty comfortable in draft packs, sighting, and tough surf conditions.

4. New Bike Fit – this was probably one of the biggest limiters for me, the 2015 fit I got hosed me but now it’s fixed. Also being able to shift while upright is great after I replaced the front end and got new brakes.

5. Finally put together a decent Ironman – I’m quite happy about IMAZ – it was a textbook perfect race.

6. Nutrition – I think I finally figured this one out thanks to Coach Mike. On his advice, I tried the ebook “Fuel Right, Race Light” written by an endurance athlete and dietitian. There were a few key takeaways:

  • Training Fuel vs. Real Nutriton – Everyday nutrition is the healthy, slow burning foods that fill you up – healthy proteins, lots of veggies, fruits, etc. Training Fuel is the exact opposite that you need specifically during training sessions – lots of sugar and quick energy, like sports drinks, etc.
  • If you’re going to eat grains, do it at breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. This includes rice, quinoa, etc. This helped me cut a ton of weight and body fat relatively quickly. It took me a few days to adapt, but once I did, I had a ton of energy and I could sustain some smoke sessions. If I had some big workouts, I would make sure to eat hearty during the day or the night before, but these were more exceptions than the norm. If I need to get to race weight and race body fat, then this is key and I found that I can sustain this if I cook dinners and still eat out for breakfast and lunch.

Things I need to work on for 2017:

1. Mental – After much personal reflection, I’ve found that this is my biggest weakness. I think I have the physical potential to go far in this sport, but I burn out or get distracted. I’m working on meditation during the holidays to explore that and see if it helps me stay “fresh”. The biggest things I need to work on are consistency, discipline, and work ethic, but it all ties back into staying fresh for me – I just burn out after a few weeks of hard work, so I have to figure this out. This affects everything else for me, namely nutrition, training and work.

2. Back to basics – process. I just want to focus on the process and consistency for 2017 vice crazy race time goals. I’m stubborn as hell and I’ve learned the hard way that this is a process sport, so anything that goes against this is rule is going to give me trouble (again). Staying with the process and understanding that triathlon is a “blue collar” sport, ie – doing the work day in and day out, is key to sustained and improved performance and realizing your potential here. Kudos to Coach Mike for teaching me this lesson. It takes awhile for me to learn sometimes!

2. Swim Mechanics – my engine and OWS skills are there, but my mechanics still need work. I’ve had several private lessons and I’m swimming with a group, so I’ve improved quite nicely. However, this is a multi-year effort, so I’ll take whatever help I can get.

3. Bike Volume – I think I simply need more time on the bike. I’m able to hit some decent watts finally after the fit, but I just need to ride more. I plan on bike commuting to work more often to get more miles in just for base.

4. Using ERG on trainer – I plan on setting this up over the holidays, but I think I can make some good gains here.

5. Run Mechanics – I think I’m hitting a point where my run mechanics are starting to hinder me. I need to shift from running using my quads to using my glutes/calves. I did the run assessment back in June, so I think a combination of those drills and strength training may remedy this. It’s slowly improved over the last few months but it still needs work.

6. Strength / Mobility – Staying consistent with physio/stretching/mobility/strength is important and I let it slip during the second part of 2016. I need to stay on this year-round. I’ll find a good yoga class that meshes with my schedule and needs and stay with it.

Race Report – Ironman Arizona – 20 November 2016

Race Report – Ironman Arizona – 20 November 2016

Plan going in:


Pre-Race – I got up at 0300, cooked, ate, and prepared. I went to grab my watch from the charger and somehow it was at 0%, so that was a big buzzkill. I had a spare portable USB battery charger and a spare 910XT watch just in case this happened. I managed to charge up the watch and give it to my friends to bring to the race, and we were out the door by 0440. We parked a bit away and got to transition around 0500. I hit the restroom and went straight to my bike bag to drop off my sunglasses. I made it to my bike rack and filled up the front water bottle, set my bike computer up, and pumped the tires. Kristen came over and we chatted a bit. I didn’t bring my cell phone with me and that was a mistake as there were too many people to find my friends.  Luckily, I ran into a friend from San Antonio and she helped me track down some folks. I was able to finally get my watch and I seeded myself at the 1:10 marker on the swim start.


Warmup – heavy band work pre-swim, running around transition

Nutrition – 1 gu, 1 salt pill, water and powerade zero


Swim – We started pretty early (~0655L) and it wasn’t too much of a madhouse at the beginning. A lot of slower folks seeded themselves up front to give a buffer time before cutoff, so working through them took some effort. I hugged the buoy line as best as I could and didn’t drift that far, so I was quite pleased. I can’t pace an IM swim right so I felt good, but wasn’t sure if it was easy or hard, so I just stuck to it. My friend Kristen caught me at the halfway mark, but she escaped so fast that I couldn’t hang on. I got out and didn’t feel too gassed, just bummed because I knew it was a slower swim than I was capable.

Final Swim – 1:14:37 (no swim file, watch didn’t start)


2016 Ironman Arizona Beautiful day for a record racee
2016 Ironman Arizona
Beautiful day for a record racee

T1 – The wetsuit strippers grabbed me right away and we got the wetsuit off. I hustled to the bike bag, grabbed it, and sat down on the ground outside the tent. I put on socks, shoes, and helmet, then tossed my swim stuff in the bag and ran off. I had the sunscreen folks douse me in plenty of sunscreen then ran to grab my bike. The poor volunteer at the bike rack was overwhelmed so I ran to grab my own bike and got out of transition.

Final T1 – 4:38


Bike – The bike was flat with 3 loops and I had done this course in 2013, so I was prepared this time around. Coach Mike and I had talked the day before the race about bike pacing, so it was roughly this:

1st loop – 0.68 IF

2nd loop – 0.7-0.72 IF

3rd loop – 0.75IF

First Loop Out – I averaged around 189 NP on the way out to the turnaround. There was a strong headwind but I wanted to stay on power and take it easy, so I just stuck to watts and held on.

NP = 188, Avg Power = 185, HR = 157, Distance = 18.6 miles, Duration = 1:03:04

First Loop In – Once we hit the turnaround at ~18.5 miles, we had a huge tailwind so I took advantage and pressed.

NP = 176, Avg Power = 167, HR = 151, Distance = 18.4 miles, Duration = 43:28:98

Total 1st Lap: NP = 183, Avg Power = 177, HR = 155, Distance = 37.6 miles, Duration = 1:48:03


Second Loop Out – Once I realized that the splits were dependent on the wind and it would provide a huge advantage, I decided to hammer the first loops out to the turnaround then recover on the way back. I wanted to make sure the wind didn’t shift on me so I made sure to hammer what I could.

NP = 197, Avg Power = 186, HR = 151, Distance = 18.4 miles, Duration = 58:59:45

Second Loop In – same as 1st loop, pushed where I could but we had a big tailwind

NP = 175, Avg Power = 159, HR = 147, Distance = 18.4 miles, Duration = 44:19:53


Total 2nd Lap: NP = 188, Avg Power = 175, HR = 151, Distance = 38.6 miles, Duration = 1:47:48

Third Loop Out – This is where fatigue starts to creep in, so I knew I just had to push this last bit to the turnaround and cruise back to get ready for the run.

NP = 193, Avg Power = 180, HR = 152, Distance = 18.4 miles, Duration = 58:58:86

Third Loop In – The wind shifted on us like I had feared, so I actually had to do some work here. I made sure to finish fueling and to stretch to gear up for the run.

NP = 180, Avg Power = 167, HR = 149, Distance = 18.4 miles, Duration = 48:41:47

Total 3rd Lap: NP = 188, Avg Power = 175, HR = 151, Distance = 34.5 miles, Duration = 1:41:21

Bike Nutrition:

Hour 1-5 – 2x salt pills, 2x gatorades, per hour + 1x bottle of water at aid station

Hour 5 – finish – 1x gu, water, 2x salt pills, half a gatorade

Overall Bike – NP = 186, Avg Power = 175, HR = 152, Distance = 111 miles

I averaged 0.67IF for the whole thing, so I figured the descents gave me a bit of rest. Overall, I’m quite pleased with this time considering I didn’t put as much bike volume in as I should have and I missed some key rides during the year. There’s still considerable room for improvement so that will be a focus in 2017.

Final Bike – 5:18:13 (PR)


T2 – Jumped off the bike and the bike handlers caught me and took the bike away. I hobbled/ran over to the run bags and got inside the tent. I had a volunteer with me the whole time to make sure I was alright. I ripped off my bike shoes, socks, and helmet, then stuck them in the bag. I squeezed on my run socks, run shoes, grabbed my water bottle and belt, then headed out the tent and thanked the volunteer. I had the suncreen folks douse me again. My right foot always eats it on the bike and my lower back was pretty tight, so I knew this run would be fun.

Final T2 – 2:27

Run – I knew within the first mile that this run would be tough for me so I had to strategize on the fly. Our initial plan was to hold 8:15s for about 45 minutes, then get down to 8s and hold. I already knew this wasn’t going to happen based on how tired I was and seeing my low HR, so I decided to hit each aid station and power walk through it while taking 1-2x cokes during each stop. I would then run to each station and hold what pace I could.

Run Nutrition:

Hour 1-4: 5x salt pills, 8oz gatorade, 3x gatorade endurance chew each hour, 1-2x coke each hour

I had a first class ticket on the pain train, so this run was just a pure slugfest. I hit the first 13.1 around ~1:48 so I figured I may be able to go under 3:40 if I could keep pace. My legs were pretty much goo at this point so I just stuck to the nutrition plan and focused. My watch died at mile 22 so it was only about 4 miles to finish, so I just made sure to hang on for dear life. Once we hit mile 24, we were at the bridge, so it was pretty much a final sprint the last ~1.5 miles. My left hamstring felt like it was going to explode so I pushed what I could but it was ugly. I crossed the finish line and was glad the whole thing was over.

Final Run – 3:42:49 (PR)

imaz-2016-run-split-screenshot (watch died on me around mile 22, bleh)

Overall Time – 10:22:58



Overall, I’m quite pleased. My previous PB was 11:40, so I improved by 78 minutes. I feel I executed my nutrition plan quite well and it held me up to the finish. I felt tired on the run with a low heart rate, so I need to work on improving my endurance and fitness in general. I had missed a lot of training this year and it took me awhile to get back in decent shape, so there’s much work ahead for 2017.

Key takeaways:

  1. Improve swim mechanics and IM pacing
  2. Spend more time on the bike
  3. Improve run fitness and mechanics

Special thanks to Coach Mike Ricci of D3 Multisport for getting me to this point – it’s been a great experience and there’s still a lot of untapped speed left in me. Also, thanks to Bryan Mineo for all the swim instruction during this past year. Thanks to Kristen Hughes for training with me on the long bike rides – having someone to train with makes the long days less miserable! Lastly, thanks to Suzy, Julia, Alfonso, and Rosalinda for the fun times in Arizona.