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Revenge on the 5K

December 1, 2012

5Ks are my least favorite race.

Two and half years ago I ran my first road race ever: the Mad Dash 5K in Warren Vermont. I was content then with my 25:04 (8:04 mi/mi) finish, but more proud that I had just done my first race ever. My viewpoint on 5Ks was “ok, fun little cute race,” but I want to go farther. My happy little view on 5Ks was totally spat in my face and left me in the dust this past October when a friend talked Dan and I into doing one of the Team Red Lizard Stumptown Cross races. My friend (17:13 time) and Dan had no problem (21:19 time, but majority of the time he ran with me…so this is not truly accurate) with this race, but I almost declared defeat.

I am pretty sure I yelled at Dan (because Dan, once again was trying to be nice to me while running)
F*ck that
F*ck you
Dumb Sh*t
I hate this F*cking Race.

5K’s can be great. They can be a great goal and gateway for anyone looking to start into the world of running or triathlons. There are races all over and throughout the year. Plus there are a lot of fun events around 5Ks from Turkey Trots to Spartan Races. (/7:10 min/mi)

However, if you aren’t careful, a nice, but super-fast, friend might convince you that doing a little cross-country meet with a local running club would be fun. Well its not. Not if you aren’t lightening fast. Not if you haven’t been training for full out red-line sprinting. It is a pretty darn humbling experience. What I would have given to see a team of fundraising joggers with Santa hats and striped high socks at the starting line. Well, they would have blown by me too. By the time I finished the race (a PR of 22:16/7:10 min/mi, finished in the bottom 20%) I am pretty sure everyone was starting to pack up the event and everyone was already getting in their cars.

Dan and I discussed today our trips back home to MA for the Christmas holiday and decided that we should do a race, duh. Of course, the only races going on the week after the holiday in MA are 5Ks. I got irritated right away, then declared revenge.

After our recovery break from Miami Man (its been 3 weeks now) it is starting to be time to focus on getting back on track for IM NOLA. What better way than to build a little base by doing some speed work before we start to add on the mileage.


Danvers Fun Run (Ha, we will see how fun it is)
Dans Goal: 19:01 (6:10 min/mi)
Julie’s Goal: 20:59 (6:45 min/mi) Yea I want to break 21)

What races will you take revenge on?



Ironman AZ Registration: The Race Before the Race

November 22, 2012

Registration is now the first event in Ironman races. I previously mentioned our failed attempt to register for the 2013 IM AZ due to issues on the website. We ran into some glitches through the process, but IM won’t admit it. Dan wrote this great letter to IM following the closing of registration:

Daniel Kowal, Nov 19 03:00 pm (CST):

To Whom It May Concern-

I don’t usually write letters, but at 2:00 pm I tried signing up for IMAZ and what ensued was a shear debacle. I sat on since 1:00 pm andas it got close to the 2:00 EST sign up time, I kept refreshing mybrowser. 1:56, I refreshed and it said registration open, I quickly texted my sister as we were both waiting to sign up so we could tackle an Ironman together. When I tried to click on the AG button, it said registration was
not open. At 1:58 the same thing happened. 2:01 I was able to click on AGand move forward in the process. I filled out all the information needed(even all the lengthy info about wheels and bikes and wetsuits etc) – Whichshould be done after you register. I went to click continue and at the topof the page it says that the “category” is sold out. I kept trying to hitcontinue but to no avail.

Meanwhile, my sister who lives across the country was sitting online at thecheckout not wanting to click pay because this was something we wanted todo together. I told her to hold on while I refreshed my browser in doingso, made the web page unavailable. So I went back into active.comm tobegin again. By this time it is 2:08 and all the slots were “on hold”. Ikept clicking refresh for the next 40 minutes hoping that something would
open up (I thought you only had 15 minutes to complete your order so ifthey all purchased it should have technically sold out within the next 15minutes). The website kept saying open just that the slots were on”hold”. I kept Instant Messaging my sister telling her not to pay yet andto have her tell me when it was about to time out (which it never did).3:00 came- give or take a few and the website finally read sold out, mysister’s entry obviously released although the website never told her it

We live on opposite coasts and this past year we did two 70.3’s togetherand next year was supposed to be our full. We decided carefully and agreedon Arizona. We are very disheartened that we will not get to race a fulldistance in 2013, but I write because I am very disappointed in theregistration process.Ironman is a journey and usually a year long endeavor,we wanted to enjoy this journey, the training and ultimately the words,

Things I think should be considered:

1. I know athletes and volunteers can sign up the day after the event. Sowhen you go to it should have a tally of the total number ofslots available for everyone (whether it be 150 or 500) so they know theirchances up front.
2. On it should have a timer so you know when your registrationis about to time out.
3. Individuals should be able to sign up one additional person. Ironman is a journey and an accomplishment and most like to do it with anotherperson. If my sister went ahead and purchased her entry she would be doingher first IM alone – which she did not want to do. Then if she decided toforfeit that slot would only receive $150 of her entry back?
4. Create a waiting list for people in that position if they want to
forfeit within a day then another can sign up. In addition there should bea waiting list for an event that is kept for people who have to pull outdue to injury. If there was a chance for me to get into an event I wantedto do I would keep training and would sign up for the event up to 2-3 weeksbefore if someone had to withdraw (I am sure I am not the only one). I am a 2x IM finisher and I was really hoping to share this experience with

my sister this year. I ask that you take these points into consideration.

Frustrated at the process-

Here is the response from IM. I will give them some kudos for actually writing back, but obviously they got their slots filled and their money, so they customer service isn’t their top priority.

Response from Ironman, Nov 21 10:20 am (CST):

Thank you for reaching out. We apologize for any confusion during the online registration process. Please note that we are working with Active to make several improvements moving forward. However, we did not experience any glitches with the registration launch and the correct number of slots were filled for both General Entry and IRONMAN Foundation. The 2013 IRONMAN Arizona sold out in record time. We have reached maximum capacity and do not offer a waiting list or resell withdrawn slots.

However, 2013 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas and 2013 IRONMAN Louisville General Entry slots are still available.

Thanks for your understanding on this matter.

Best regards,

So and so
Manager, Athlete Services

Rest Confidence

November 21, 2012

The off season has finally arrived for us!
Depending on when your last race of the season was and when you are looking to ramp up again in 2013, this off-season could mean a few weeks or several months off. WIth IM NOLA 70.3 for us in April, makes our off season approx 2 weeks long. Ha. It has been 8 days since Miami Man and I am both so relieved that the season is over and so anxious to start again. There are times in my training when I felt guilty for missing or workout, or not doing a full session like planned. This guilt was terrible and often made me think that I wasn’t ready to race. I am not missing that feeling now. On the other hand, I am so pumped for next year. After seeing the major improvement I made this year, I am excited to see what I can do with more training. We have big goals for 2013. I am looking forward to training again, but I need to be patient.

Yesterday, Dan and I attempted to sign up for IM AZ and it had me irritated the whole day. We did not get in. We were there at our computers, poised and ready to lock in our credit card numbers when Dan was kicked off his page losing his position in the registration. What a debacle, Ironman! I was able to make it to the check-out page but there was no way I was signing up without knowing that Dan was making it too. If you were able to sign up, congratulations, that is a victory. That was a shit show. Out of the 10 people we know wanted to get it, 3 did. We are now considering IM Louisville. Anyone?

Image from, Illustration by Matt Collins.

Anyway, back to our short lived off-season. I have quickly filled in my time with a lot of beer drinking, cleaning, and checking off other random things that have been on my list for months. In the recent edition of Triathlete Magazine, pro triathlete Jesse Thomas writes about the important of taking breaks, and the test of patience it can be. This article was very fitting for me this week. I know this is crazy to say, but I feel out of shape, I feel like I am losing endurance, and I feel like I am 10 lbs heavier. Yea, that must have been a lot of beer in the last 8 days! Just kidding, sort of. Jesse recognizes that he has the same doubts and summarizes that it can be a “depression cycle feeding on itself.” What I really like about what Jesse says is that it is all about the “confidence to rest.” It is our own insecurities that put us out of ease during our rest periods. He says “For some messed up reason, our athletic egos still feel that we only get faster as we pedal harder, run quicker and swim stronger. It’s athlete psychology- all of our confidence is built around the times that we actually destroy our bodies. But it’s only the rest afterward that makes our bodies stronger.” This article made me feel so much better about doing absolutely zero, well I did play shuffleboard the other day.

For the past week I have swam 0 miles, biked 0 miles, and ran 0 miles. (Eaten 6 cheeseburgers, 3 donuts, and drank a dozen or so beers.) This offseason isn’t going to be long, but I am sure going to enjoy it.

Race Review: Miami Man Half Iron 2012

November 19, 2012

Last weekend Dan and I participated in our last race of the 2012 season at the Miami Man Half Iron taking place at the Larry and Penny Thompson Park and Zoo Miami, a race voted “Best in Florida” from Competitor magazine.This was a sold out event with 595 athletes doing the half IM and 611 doing the international Olympic.

We had a great group down in Miami. Dan and I were joined by my sister-in-law Victoria (doing her first Oly, woot!), friends Marc Munago and Drew Cown (also doing the half) and his girlfriend Kaitlyn Smith (also first Oly…wahoo!).

Miami was really great to see. We were extremely fortunate enough to stay in a prime location down in South Beach for the long weekend, and it felt like we were living like the pros do. We arrived a couple of days ahead of the race and spent one night in Key Largo eating Key Lime pie and snorkeling. Snorkeling was our workout for the day, just the way that swimming the lazy river was our workout prior to IM Haines City 70.3 was. This is tradition and a way to remind ourselves that this is all suppose to be fun.

This was my first race on a TT bike. Holy smooooooooooooooookes! What a difference! I was super fortunate enough to ride a Trek Speed Concept 9 for the race that was for sale from Dan’s friend who owns Open Road Bicycles in Jacksonville, FL. I had no excuse for being slow this time. My awesome bro totally hooked me up (oh, by the way, I bought it…because you ride a bike like this there is no going back.) Here is a pic of me snuggling with the bike prior to…inside joke, but still appropriate. About two weeks before the race my Garmin 205 stopped charging and I hadn’t taken the time to get a new battery or get it checked out. Also, with the bike I was borrowing there wasn’t a cateye to monitor my speed. Therefore, I was almost completely relying on my internal computer for the whole race, except for my overall time on my dinky Timex.

Snuggling with the Speed Concept.

Preparing for these races are tough. We have logged many hours training and kept to a pretty tough schedule making sure that we were ready for this race and ready set a new PR! I definitely had my days where I wanted to quit, had my nightmares, felt out of shape, and sometimes just cried about it all.  Sometimes I felt my weeks were just eat, work, train, eat, sleep and that is all. I even sort of gave up on blogging about it all because I felt a little overloaded by it all.

I can’t not encourage the mental preparation enough for race day. For about a month prior to the race I have been adding visualization time sporadically throughout my weeks. This time around, I printed out my goal split time and overall time and taped it up right about my computer at work. I would stare at those numbers during the day and help imagine myself actually pulling it off (5:19:00 s39:00 b2:50:00 r1:48:00). Somedays I thought this number was really a reach and somedays I knew I could do it, but either way I started to just see myself do it.


This was a beach start swim with the announcer doing his own rendition of a countdown then yelling “go.” This year was a wetsuit legal swim- I was fine with long sleeves, but most had sleeveless. This was the first swim I have done with good visibility and where I could actually see if there was a swimmer right in front of me helping me avoid some kicks to the face. It was a two loop swim for the half iron. Swimmers had to do a full water exit and run up a small slippery path of grass and around the timing mat before entering back in the water. Miami Man provided the best swim caps I have ever seen by a race. Continuing with the zoo and animal theme, each cap was adorned with a  different style fish face.

Sweet swim caps!


This course was flat. Flat. Flat. Flat. The biggest elevation I think came from a small itsy bridge over a stream, 4 feet in elevation maybe? Ha. Oly athletes did an out and course while half iron athletes did that same course with a two loop lollipop added on.  The course was mostly through farmland. Traffic was fairly minimal but I heard that some areas were a little tricky with cars piling up. I think the volunteers for the traffic did a great job making sure that all the athletes were safe and had the right of way. A week out from the race Dan and I have been watching the weather and keeping our eye on the forecasted 20mph. We both kept saying/hoping that come race day that number would start to drop, and it did. Down to about 16mph. I hate wind. Dan at one point prior to the race told me, “you like hills, well consider the wind your hills.” Somehow that mental approach helped. Each time I hit the wall of wind, in my mind I was just climbing another hill.


Miami Man does a really good job at enticing athletes with the great zoo run. I think this is more hype than anything. You are in the zoo less than half the race which was a bummer to us all.  I saw a bird of some sort and a turtle. Someone said there was monkeys, but I didn’t see any. A rhino would have been nice to see, or a giraffe, but I didn’t see them either. There were a couple tough stretches being open and exposed to the hot sun or running directly into the wind. The path was not all paved with some sections of sand or small rocks, which left my feet extra blistery. I thought the aid stations were adequate and full of energy. Can I just say I love when a volunteer runs with you to give you water!! Best!

The race swag was ok. Miami Man really runs (pun not intended) with the zoo theme. In our bags we received a tech t-shirt with our names on the back (oops! someone sorted the race names by first, not last name, which made me bummed to see myself listed next to other Julie’s and not Dan and Victoria), a mousepad, racebelt, pint glass (by far the best item), and some nutrition. To me, the zoo theme was a little childlike. Cute, but maybe overdone (I wasn’t a big fan of receiving a stuffed animal as a prize…made me feel like I was 6 years old). Dan was too much of a poop to go pick up his 3rd place finish in the Clydesdale. Drew never even showed up for his 3rd place AG finish either! These guys are too awesome for stuffed animals.

This was a long real first season for me. I am very relieved to end on a high note or else I might have doubts about next season.  Dan and I are already in talks about what will be on our schedule next year. We are already signed up for IM NOLA 70.3 in April and tomorrow we will know whether or not we are in IM AZ. It could be a long season. Nonetheless it will be fun! Big goals for 2013!

Here are the RESULTS

Timberline Mountain Run 2012- Race Review

August 6, 2012

Mount Hood

The Timberline Mountain Run, organized by the Timberline Trail Running Club, holds the title of the highest run in the state of Oregon. So naturally I had to sign up. The run, starts at approx 5600 ft and climbs to 7000 at midpoint for a approximate total of 6-8 miles. The approximation is due to fact that GPS loses satellite reception. According to my Garmin, the course was only 4 miles which definitely  isn’taccurate either.


The Lodge in The Shining.

It was such a gorgeous day on Mount Hood– blue sky and warm temps! The vibe with this race was super casual and was just a bunch of sun soaking happy runners out for a good time. We arrived at the race about an hour before start and signed in. The 10 am start time was nice, especially with about a 1:15 hr drive from Portland- meaning I still didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. Sign in was really easy and took no time at all leaving some time to just walk around the lodge and take some photos of Mount Hood. It was so casual, that at one point I realized I didn’t even know where the race started. It wasn’t until about 5 minutes before start time did it look like a race was going to happen.

To call this race a run, may be optimistic. It should reconsider being called the Timberline Mountain Walk Up and Scramble Down. Oooh weee. I don’t really remember doing much trail running. Immediately at the start was a downhill quick run before turning around and winding up and up to 7000 ft. The trail ranged from paved roads, to bushwhacking, to dirt paths, to sandy dirt to snow. I think for the most part the trail was fairly easy to follow except for about 1/2 mile in, when a bunch of us runners lost track of where we were going in the woods and all just stopped and didn’t know which direction to head.

This was not an easy run. It was over 1,100 feet in elevation climb and the terrain was tough: mostly narrow soft sandy dirt with loose rocks. The majority of the course was higher than the tree line and therefore we were just exposed to the hot sun beating on us. Right about the end of the tree cover, approx 1.5 in, it was just a walk. And EVERYONE was walking. There was not much of advantage if you ran. I kept pace, by walking, with a girl who was “running” a head of me. She didn’t get to the top much faster than I did.

Once at the top, it was a short jog over to the aid station where they were handing out water. There wasn’t any electrolytes which I was surprised by and really wish they had. After the quick refueling it was a downhill scramble on loose sandy gravel with rocks taunting a sprained ankle. Once we made it down to start elevation, there was a really nice picturesque section of the course. The last 3/4 or so was on a rolling trail, tree covered and, for the first time felt like a trail run.

Here is what my Garmin captured of the race:



Post race was really nice. We hung out on the lodge porch soaking in the sun, eating hot dogs and drinking beer before they handed out prizes for top times. Somehow my time of 56:49 earned me first in my division. I am assuming there wasn’t many or anyone else in my category. I will post results when they are up tomorrow. It was really nice running a small race. I felt that the runners and accompanying support crew were all really friendly and fun. There was more socializing post race than I have experienced before with larger races.

Would I do this race again? I don’t know. I didn’t enjoy that I was hiking up most of this course then sprinting downhill. I thought it was fun that it was at high elevation (no acclimation needed!) but it would have been more fun if it was flatter and faster. Regardless, it was a great reason to get up to Mount Hood, get some exercise in and meet some new people. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and do not forget your socks.


I wear this grey shirt for every thing. Except of course when I am wearing my Newton.

Back to Training!

August 5, 2012

Okay.  I know it has been a while since I have posted.  Thanks Julie for keeping the blog updated for the past month (maybe longer).  I took a hiatus from writing and apparently training since Ironman Coeur d’alene.  I know haven’t posted a race report on it yet, but it will get high marks for being an incredible venue, city and crowd support.

Yes, since June 24, I have taking weeks off.  I have swam twice since June 24, one was in a sprint triathlon and the other was yesterday in an Olympic distance triathlon.  Haven’t ran much more, have spent some time cycling, but much of my endurance has left me.  Julie has been kicking my butt for a new training schedule and now that we are signed, sealed and delivered to the Miami Man in November I need to honor her request.  We put together an aggressive training schedule because as she mentioned last week we should be able to post a PR half.

I do however, have one race before Miami.  In a few weeks I am heading out to Des Moines once again for the Hy Vee Triathlon (a must do bucket list triathlon- or every year for me) and a  Labor Day favorite for me.

The race is rapidly approaching and I feel out of shape for it.  So the next three weeks will be intense so that I can have a respectable showing out there and hopefully retain my Clydesdale title in the 5150 series.  Yesterday, I decided to race a local olympic triathlon to see where my fitness level was (swam 26:30, biked 60:30- just missed an hour, one day I will break it, but ran 49:30).  Whoa baby, I have definitely fallen off the wagon in that category.  I should be running sub 7’s and instead posted close  to 8:10 miles yesterday (waiting on official results).  Mile 4 I think I even threw in a 9 minute mile.  I was 10th off the bike and got run down by 9 people finishing what was a horrible showing.  Labor Day weekend I vow to be better, I love the race course and am excited to visit Des Moines again.  Yeah, that is what I said- no misprint there.
Having two races on the books will help the focus and Julie kicking my butt  for schedules will keep me motivated (not to mention not wanting her to run her half marathon faster than me like she did at the Florida half).  So Julie, let’s go, Miami Man is waiting for us, just let me take care of business in Des Moines first!

Its On! Miami Man Half Iron in November!

August 1, 2012

A calendar with no races has left Dan and I a little lackluster. For me, since IM Haines City (yikes!), my workouts have been more for fitness, not moving me toward a particular goal and somedays I wonder what kind of shape I still am in. Dan and I still curse at how hard it is to get in peak shape, and how easy it is to lose it all. So as of today, we have a new race on the calendar:

November 11th: Miami Man Half Iron

I am super excited to race again with Dan and it will be really fun to be in Miami. Have I ever mentioned that Dan and I live way too far apart? Doesn’t get much further than this.

This course sounds awesome. Well, I am mostly excited about the run through the Metro Zoo. Yes, the cheering squad will be led by a bunch of monkeys. This is organized by Multi Race and is not an Ironman branded event. The reviews I have read have been great: Half TRIing and just check out these awesome caps: via Bike Diva.

Photo via:, but not sure where she got it.

So Dan is claiming us dibs on the podium in our age groups and that we are both going to run a sub 1:30 half (ha, good one). Glad we are setting the bar high. Now let’s get training.


Really Dan, a sub 1:30?