We are Off

After over 12 months of training and anticipation, we are off to Kona! I am up at a ridiculous hour and can’t wait to get to the airport with the family, board the plane with my bike and head off to the Big Island.

I have all of my camera gear and look forward to posting some updates via video later today. I have already posted a few videos and you can find them and all of the future ones on the top of my home page at www.timothymonk.com. I will also keep the twitter feed full of updates and will do my best to share as much of the action about the race with all of those interested.

Our schedule for today is mostly travel:

9:00 Depart House
11:45 Continental Flight to Honolulu
4:36 Connecting flight to Kona
5:19 Arrive!
6:00 Hit our Condo at the Kona Reef complex
7:00 Have a Beer or glass of Wine with my wife on our Lanai (fancy word for balcony)

We have a long day ahead of travel, so I will just try and stay relaxed and enjoy some time with my wife and kids. Thanks to Shani, my kids are great travelers and spending time with them on the road is always a great time.

Tomorrow should be a swim at Dig Me Beach and race registration. The plan for the swim is to swim out to the Coffees of HI boat and get some free coffee and take pictures with the new underwater camera.

I also have a short business meeting tomorrow at Lava Java with our new client Base Performance.

On another note, the Lonestar Multi Sport club website is now published. You can view it at http://www.lonestarmultisport.com. The original URL, .org, should transfer over in coming days. I hope everyone enjoys the new site.

Stay tuned as there will be more to come later today.

Moving to Video / A Few Updates

We leave one week from today to head over to Kona. Hard to believe the race is right up on me. The training is basically done and it is now time for a few fast workouts and plenty of rest.

As promised, I will begin supplementing my blog post with video updates as we get closer to the race. My hope is to give everyone coverage of the days leading up to the race showing all the excitement surrounding the Ironman World Championships.

The videos will be uploaded to You Tube and I will have them embedded on my home page at www.timothymonk.com. If you are really bored, be sure to follow along.

Lastly, it is that time when you begin thanking those that have helped you on the journey. I cannot thank my wife, Shani, my kids, Parker and Hannah enough for helping me prepare for this thing. They have endured me being gone most Sundays and seen me come home from a business trip, only to be running from 5:00 – 7:30 the next morning. They have done their part and now it is my turn to do mine.

I have also had many training partners on Sundays and below are a few pictures showing some of our last rides. So much of the fun in training for an event like this are the friends you make as you do the training. Special thanks to Mike, Clint, Jim, Steve, Kevin, Raul, Kyle, Al, Dana and many others for spending their Sunday mornings with me riding out to Anderson.


Also, I have to recognize my favorite charity, Girls Run. At our annual Wine Tasting event, the awesome people that make Girls Run happen raised over $70,000! We look forward to sharing those proceeds with cancer charities, especially the Livestrong Foundation in coming days.

WMST / Swimming @ the NAT

I will start my blog with stating that we have the absolute best masters swimming program in the country. Woodlands Masters Swim Team, started by Carolyn and Tom Boak is over 200 swimmers and growing. The workout schedule is awesome with multiple coached workouts on each day to fit just about anyone’s schedule.

One of the things I enjoy is the camaraderie found at each workout. The coaching and my fellow swimmers make it a pleasure to drop down 3000 + yards every time I go. We have swimmers of all abilities and levels from people with Olympic Trial cuts to those just starting out.

I am constantly telling my friends in the triathlon community to come join us. If you want to get better at swimming, come swim with people that can kick your ass!

On an ongoing basis, I run into one individual whether she is coaching me or kicking my butt in a work out. That is Laura Davis. She is an incredible swimmer and even better coach. Typically she will give us set like 150’s with some kicking and drills as part of each 150. My favorite part is she will say, “do them on the the 2:15, but I did them on 2:00.” That is all it takes, for me to push it harder. I don’t like losing to girls (this is left over from a grade school dilemma). As you can see in the picture, if Laura is not happy with your effort in the pool, she shows her displeasure in subtle ways.

My swim has always been there for me in races and that happens becuase of all the swim training with WMST. I will be thinking of them as I head out for the 2.4 mile start of my day in Kona.

The Woodlane Loop

If you want to ride your bike before work, you have to be creative. With traffic, limited time and plenty of other obsticles, you need a safe place to get your ride done. Here in the Woodlands, we have a loop known as the Woodlane Loop. I have ridden this loop countless times getting ready for this race and have done everything from recovery rides to interval sessions. The loop is 5 miles and is about 4 miles from my house.

I can leave my house and do a 20 mile ride and be back by 8:00 to start work. Here is a copy of the map:

The ride has a few distractions as well including, deer, dogs, horses and the “duelly” pick up. However, to be able to ride out my door is such a plus, that these things are minor. I know a many of athlete that have to commute via car to get a ride done. To simply roll from the garage is such a privlige. This is probably why The Woodlands was one of the best places to live and train for Triathlon as ranked by Triathlete Magazine.

I rode there this morning and realized I don’t have many more of these rides until I head off to Kona. The weather was great, the legs felt good, so I snapped a few pictures:

The entrance to Woodlane

Nice Roads

Some of the wildlife I was talking about above.

Nice sunrise

Then you eat a healthy breakfast before you start work (Eggs, Rice, Green Foods Drink, and plenty of Douglas Labs vitamins)

Taper in Sight

I am traveling again for work, and had a chance to review the rest of my training plan up until the big day. The big difference is the presence of rest days, where I normally have workouts scheduled. Each week has an extra day or two of rest and my last long ride of the year is in sight!

At this point, I always do the same thing and that is second guess myself and my training by asking, have I done enough? I did this last year and everything worked out ok, so experience tells me, it is time to start the peak and rest phases of my training.

I am thankful that my coach Dana Lyons, has managed my training this entire year and looking at my results and progress, I could not be happier. When you have so many other commitments, like family and work, it is very beneficial to have someone assist with your schedule. Having your workouts planned out, gives you the ability to maximize the time you have by doing the right workouts on the right days of your training cycle.

For those that don’t follow endurance sports, let me explain the taper. The taper is simply a point where you stop doing such long volumes of work and start doing less frequent but intense workouts to get you ready to race. Through a combination of rest and intensity, you hope to sharpen up to a point of peak fitness.

It can be hard to force yourself to take days off, but at this point in the cycle, you have to be confident and know you have done the work.

I still have some a few more long workouts on the schedule, including another century ride this weekend followed by a 1 hour run.

Outside of training, I have a few things to report. First, in Triathlete magazine, The Woodlands was given Honorable Mention status for being one of the best places to live if you are a triathlete. I could not agree more. The artilce also ranked Austin as second on that list, which is why that city is so much fun to visit.

We also picked up a new camera over the weekend that will let us take some underwater pictures and underwater movies while we are in HI. It was raining almost all day on Saturday, so we all jumped in the pool and took some great pictures. We also made a short movie. We picked up the Canon Powershot D10. Great camera!

Lastly, the above picture was sent to me by Kevin Barr. Kevin is also going to Kona and happened to be there last year and snapped this photo close to the run finish. I look forward to following that yellow line on October 10, 2009.

Good Weekend on the Bike

My training really kicked up a notch with some fast and long tempo running on Friday morning, fast swimming on Friday night and a hard bike on Sunday.

Sunday’s effort consisted of a 1 hour warm up and then 3 x (40 minutes at IM pace and 20 minutes at Half Ironman pace). I knew the workout would be challenging, but did not know just how hard until I was done yesterday.

For the 3 hours the interval lasted, I averaged 22+mph on the bike and 234 watts. My average HR was only 147 bpm. I was real happy with this effort and it shows that my bike is really starting to come together. My total ride time was about 4.5 hours and 94 miles. Here is a screen shot of the interval for my cylcing geek friends:

I also feel I have nailed my nutrition for the longer bikes and my energy was high at the conclusion of this ride and my short run felt pretty good. My nutrition on the bike is pretty simple, 1 Power Bar an hour and 1.5 bottles of Gatorade an hour. I squeze in a gel or two if I feel it is needed.

The tough part about the ride came not during but about 3 hours afterwards. I was wiped out yesterday afternoon! I knew I would be tired, but I have not been that tired in a long time. Thankfully Shani did not mind me passing out at 9:00. I also took plenty of my Douglas Labs supplements, including Wobenzym and when I woke up this morning, I did not have too much soreness.

I was able to head out for an easy 2.5 hours this morning with Clint Bryant and Ed York and able to let the legs spin out.

The weeks are starting to get tougher as I am getting closer to race day. So far, I have been blessed with good health and plenty of support! I look forward to these last few weeks of hard training.

Website and Training Update

I updated the website this morning to bring more emphasis to the blog and twitter post. Just this past week, I had several people comment to me about things posted on the blog. Thus, someone other than my mom must be reading this thing!

When I get to Kona, I will do my best to get some daily post up. The post will contain comments, pictures and video’s of the days leading up to the race. I will do my best to get as many pro athletes and other triathlon “celebrities” on the site via photo and video.

With only five Saturdays remaining to race day, I could not feel better. I had a busy past two weeks of work with travel, but still got in my runs.

As an added bonus during my business trip, I spent time with my Sister and went on a bike ride with my nephew Ryan. Ryan is a preschooler and rides the bike like no other kid I know. He tore up hills like a future Tour star. It also happened that my Aunt and Uncle were passing through Pittsburgh at the same time, so I got to enjoy a nice dinner with them as well.

My riding is feeling good and I have a hard ride this weekend to test my legs. Tomorrow will be a 100 mile ride consisting of 4 x (40 minutes at Ironman Pace and 20 minutes at Half IM pace). I hope this equates to about 220 watts for the 40 minutes and 250 watts for the 20 minutes. No big run after the ride, so I will be focused on pushing the workout.

Yesterday morning before work was a great run workout. Again I did the 4 x 2 mile repeats after a 4 mile warm up accompained by a 3 mile cool down. I started off the first 2 mile interval at 6:36 pace, then dropped it to 6:30 with the last two at 6:20. Not as fast as last time, but I did them on the road with some rolling hills versus the track. My legs felt good and I could have done another one, but needed to be back early for work.

My swims are also picking up with my pace coming down to a comfortable 1:10 per 100 yards. My goal is to have this around 1:07 per 100 by race week.

No big kid events this weekend, so I will take advantage of the time to stack on one more big weekend of training.

Wheat Free for 8 Weeks

Back at the conclusion of the Buffalo Springs race, I just did not feel all that great. My training was there, my racing was going ok, but something was missing. I visited with a client while at work and he suggested that I try going Wheat Free to see what it did for me.

So, with nothing too lose, I gave up wheat. This meant, I had to give up a staple of the triathlete diet, pasta. Prior to this decision, I ate pasta averaging one meal a day. I also ate so much bread that Panera should send me a trophy.

At night I found myself hungary again and I would put down a few bowls of the kids cookie crisp. Everything felt good while I was eating it, but I just did not feel right afterwards.

So to give it up, I knew I still needed to eat carbohydrates. I have found great substitutes in rice, beans, fruit (mostly pineapple) and many other choices. I also found some rice noodles that were ok with some sauce when the kids were having pasta.

In 8 weeks, I have lost 10 lbs and my body fat has dropped to 7%. I also find that I am not having the huge hunger swings I once had prior to going wheat free. I come back from long rides on the weekends and can eat a sensible meal and not be starving a few hours later.

When I started this, I was worried about my ability to train and race. As it turns out, my training could not be any better and based on my results last weekend, I am obviously racing better.

In addition, I read an article in Cycle Sport America Magazine this week about the Garmin Slipstream team and how they follow a low inflammatory diet. The basis of this diet is to remove high inflammatory foods like wheat and substitute them with rice, vegetables, fruit and lean protein sources. In addition, they use a lot of monounsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil). Hello Guacamole!

I have told a few friends about going wheat free, but after reading the Cycle Sport article and reflecting back on the changes it has made for me, I thought I should share my success with others.

Clear Lake Triathlon

A few weeks ago, I decided to race one more time before Kona. The race of choice was the Clear Lake Triathlon in Clear Lake City, Texas. The race was Olympic Distance or a 1500m swim, 40k Bike and a 10k run.

I got up yesterday at 3:15 so I could leave by 4:00 am to be in transition by 5:30. I like to get up early, but 3:15 comes real early. My goal for the race was to see what I could do in the heat and just push the pace as hard as I could. Training for an Ironman can be long and tedious, so having a chance to go fast can be a lot of fun.

We were the 3rd wave to go after the Elite (pro) wave and the 40 and older group. For those of you that don’t know, wave starts are determined by the race director and they typically put the largest age group waves first. In most races, the 35-39 wave follows the Elites, but this race was a bit different.

The Elite men had about 4 minutes on us before we started and the 40+ men had about 3 minutes. From the gun, my swim felt strong. The water temp was 88 degrees so there were no wetsuits. I did have on my Blue Seventy speed suit, which makes a big difference. At about the 200 meter point of the swim, I found myself in the front of our wave and was also starting to swim up on the wave in front of us. At about 1000 meters, I caught nearly all of the 2nd wave and was even on the feet of one of the Elite men. I don’ know why the swim felt so great, but I just felt stronger as the swim progressed. As I exited the water, I looked back and realized that I had put minutes on anyone in my age group. I like to start the bike in front and today was no exception.

My bike has not been as strong as it should be in my past races this year. I knew I had the potential to ride fast, but I just have not done that yet this year. I have had good rides, but no fast rides. To try and change this, I went out hard on the bike, much harder than I normally do and was quite uncomfortable. I checked out the power meter and found that I was holding 300 watts and about 25.5 mph for the first few miles. At about mile 10, my power came back to a more realistic level of about 270, but my speed was still 25+ mph. I also felt that my legs were feeling better and my HR was 165 beats per minute which is what I wanted. I took advantage of this and just went with pace and focused on keeping my power as close to 270 as possible.

At about mile 22, I caught up with another guy in the Elite Wave and that got me thinking that I could have a sub 1 hour bike split. I put the head down and pushed the power up to 300 for the last 10 minutes and got home in under an hour. I was so excited to have this kind of bike split, and tried to use my excitement to get me out on the run course as quickly as possible.

The run started fine with my first 2 miles at 6:20 pace. However, at mile 3, I started cramping in my diaphragm to the point where I could not breathe. It was extremely uncomfortable and I started laughing to myself, because I was about to walk in an Olympic Distance race. I walked from the turn around and after about 2 minutes of walking, it went away. It was a good lesson for me, because I now know that if I get something like this in HI, I can get through it and still have a great race.

After my brief walk, my run picked back up and I finished the race in 2:05, my fastest ever Olympic Distance time by over 7 minutes.

When the results were posted at the race, I looked at the 35-39 age group and saw that my name was not there. I was quite stunned, because I knew I did enough to win the age group. Someone said, you need to “look up”, and there I was on a special sheet showing the Overall Male and Female winners. I had my first ever Overall Amateur win and my fastest Olympic distance race ever.

The day ended with a nice trophy and an wonderful welcome home from the family. My son even offered to put the plaque next to his trophy from his podium finish last week.

I have always wanted an overall victory and thanks to my family, my sponsors (Luke’s Locker, Bike Lane) and my Coach Dana Lyons, I achieved that goal. I hope to be back next year to try and defend the title.

A Family that Races Together, Stays Together!

Wow what a weekend! As always the Monk Family was busy, training and racing and it was not just me this time. We had the Kiwanis Kids Triathlon in Bear Creek where Hannah and Parker both had outstanding performances.
Parker raced so well that he finished with 3rd place in his age group. Parker took off on the bike in 6th place and reeled in 2 people to find himself in 3rd at the start of the run. He ran fast and kept everyone behind him from catching up. I was really proud of him, because this was only his 2nd race and when we left the house, he told me that he was going to get a trophy. That is exactly what he did, and he got to stand on the podium and show it to everyone around!
Hannah raced as well, and did her best. She was a bit sick going into the race, but insisted on doing it anyway. Hannah is into swimming now and demonstrated a perfect freestyle at the event. She now wants to start swimming again, so Dad will sign her up soon for the Gators program once Girls Run is done.

We have more photos of the race published on-line: http://gallery.me.com/tmonk47229#100584

Proud Dad also made a short movie of Parker’s race:

As far as my training, I had a hard week consisting of several breakthrough workouts that got me pretty excited:

  • Tuesday was a track work out doing 5x 1200’s. I averaged 4:27 pace in some serious heat.
  • Thursday night was a key swim work out, where I saw 1:04 in several 100 freestyle swims.
  • Friday morning was a big run day where I did my long run, but with 5 x 2 mile repeats in the middle of the workout. Al Richardson met me for the repeats and I averaged, 6:46, 6:36, 6:26, 6:31 and 6:11 pace. I felt terrible during the first part of this run, but thanks to Al, we picked it up. Total run distance was 15 miles and about 2 hours.
  • Sunday was my long ride day, but again with some work in the middle of it. I had to do 2 hours at faster than Half IM pace and I did that and managed 252 watts, 44 miles total and a HR of only 152 bpm. The weather was hot and it was a challenge. The total ride was over 100 miles and about 5 hours.

Lastly, I am planning to race the Clear Lake International Triathlon this weekend. I hope to get a boost in my bike and run speed. Should also be a good test of my ability to run in the heat!