Friday, October 29, 2010

Hawi Wind Triathlon Coaching is born

You may notice that I've changed the title of my blog page from "Steve's Stuff" to  "Hawi Wind Triathlon".  As some of you know, Hawi Wind is the name of my coaching outfit.  And since this blog is essentially a resource for race reports and coaching advice, I'm retiring "Steve's Stuff".  The stuff here is really about triathlon anyway.   

For those who have ridden the climb to Hawi on the Big Island and have experienced the bizarre, sometimes scary gusts of wind that make folks consider dismounting and walking their bikes to the town where the Ironman turn-around is located, you'll understand why I've named the company Hawi Wind.  If you haven't had the pleasure of sailing your bike into this gale, suffice it to say that riding into the Hawi Wind is the meteorological and athletic embodiment of confronting life's challenges.  And as a coach, my task is to provide my athletes with the tools to overcome whatever challenges stand between them and their goals.

So, welcome to Hawi Wind Triathlon.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A lot has happened since my last blog post.  Hang on we're going to cover a lot of ground quickly.

Since IM Canada, I had a "come to Jesus" meeting with my run coach, who I blame for my poor IM Canada Marathon.  Unfortunately, since he is me, we both needed to get our act together.

So to prepare for Kona qualifying in Cozumel in November, I tied myself to a weight belt tethered to an SUV tire and started doing intervals, dragging my tire up the street in front of my house.

The neighbors can't get enough of this.  I should sell tickets.

I also entered 3 running races in 5 weeks.  It's amazing what a little run fitness can do for your podium hopes.  Granted, these weren't the Boston Marathon, but we're on a roll with an age-group 1st, 1st and and 3rd.

In late September, I scored a 1st in my age group and 2nd overall at the Fall Showdown Half Marathon at the San Pablo Reservoir.  Not being familiar with running near the front of the pack, I made a couple wrong turns and ran into a perfectly obvious, stationary yellow pole, continuing my streak of making contact with all things fluorescent.

The next week brought a 3rd place overall and 1st in the 45-49 age group at the Napa Valley Stomp 10 mile trail run.   This was an important race for me, because for the first time ever in a running race, I was passed by a competitor who seemed stronger than me and who was threatening to pull away, but I refused to fade.  I hung close for a few miles and then surged to put him away in the last half mile.  And as luck would have it, the guy was in my age group.

Laura also ran well at the Stomp.  A mere 12 hours separated her from finishing 3rd in the 40-44 age group.  No, she wasn't 12 hours behind third place.  She finished with the 3rd best time in the 40-44 age group, but Laura was 39 years 364 days and 12 hours old at the time of the race.

The following day, strapped into some much needed compression gear, we boarded the plane to Kona for a vacation with Laura's mom and dad and to celebrate Laura's 40th birthday.  I ordered a custom surfboard-shaped birthday cake (design concept by Erik Wilde) that set back the IM Cozumel weight-loss program for a full week.  And to top off the evening, the kitchen staff at Bubba Gump's chanted a bizarre birthday rap to the embarrassment of everyone in attendance including themselves.

As heat training for IM Cozumel, I spent a couple days riding from Kona to Hawi, fueling with a few bagels and cream cheese at my favorite coffee shop and riding back to Hapuna Beach to meet the family for a little boogie boarding.  While Laura's dad and I surfed the shore break, Laura "the turtle spotter" Kukta stalked anything with a shell.

Laura and I also completed the Level I USA Triathlon coaching certification class and watched our buddies finish Ironman Hawaii like the champions they are.

Returning back home to San Francisco, summer lingered right up until the Nike Women's Half Marathon, Laura's annual "big race".  Since Nike exempts us from the lottery as "legacy" runners (we've done every Nike since it's inception in 2004), I decided to keep the family streak alive and run as well.  Of course it rained.

As usual, I spent the first mile running on the sidewalk, hurdling the homeless and weaving my way through the entire Team in Training.  The legs felt rough through the first 9 miles, but I managed to hold close to the same pace as last year.  Still, I had hoped for something more out of myself and was trying hard to stay positive in the face of what looked like a mediocre result, at best.

But that's when the tire-pulling paid off.  I ran well through 11 miles last year, but really faded the last two miles.  This year -- totally different ball game.  Running the last couple miles through Golden Gate park, I managed to put the hammer down (or at least not stagger embarrassingly into the finishing chute) and shave over 2 minutes off my Nike PR, running a 1:33:53.

Of course Laura had the run of the day, shaving 7 minutes off her Nike Women's PR and actually breaking her half marathon PR (a remarkable feat, considering her PR was set on a dead flat San Jose Rock 'n Roll course).  She finished in 2:02 and would have had a shot at her first sub 2 hour half if it weren't for a potty stop at mile 6.

Next up, Ironman Cozumel!