06 January 2022

We Made It

 It caught me by surprise last night but it shouldn’t have. Back in 2018 I met the Ironman Legacy requirement of finishing a dozen Ironman races. They had promised I would get a slot at the Kona World Championships by 2022 but I thought that promise went out the window, what with the pandemic, Kona being cancelled in 2020 AND 2021, and the chaos that created. 

There it was in my email: 

You are now ready to finalize your registration for the 2022 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i….” I could hardly believe it!

This has been my goal since 2009. I didn’t expect it to happen this way - my goal was always to qualify outright by placing high enough in my age group. I missed that by 1 spot in one race and 3 spots in 2 other races. So now I get in through their Frequent Buyer rewards program. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pumped to be going, it’s just that I fell a little short of my goal. I DID meet their requirements and played by the rules so it’s okay. And it doesn’t preclude me from continuing to try to qualify by winning a 140.6 Ironman triathlon.

When I sent in my qualification credentials to Ironman in 2018 they also asked for a background statement. Here’s an edited version of it: 

"In 1986 my ulcerative colitis was so severe that my only real option was surgical removal of my large intestine. I began triathlon in 2007, not sure I could possibly finish a sprint race. I did my first Ironman in 2009 and dreamed of going to Kona. On March 10, 2012 I had a vision of me crossing the finish line in Kona wearing my (Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's) Team Challenge orange race kit, carrying the flag, and hearing Mike Riley call out my name. I had this vision while listening to Chrissie Wellington speak at the Endurance Live awards in Los Angeles. It has been in my mind ever since. Triathlon and Ironman training have been a lifestyle for me for the past 10 years. It's my fountain of youth. I also have the honor of coaching athletes of many abilities. Some of them even come to IM Arizona to get a taste of the Ironman experience. I've helped inspire dozens to go beyond a sprint and take on a 70.3 or full. My passion as a coach is to help people overcome fears, change their beliefs about themselves, and help them be successful."

I know there are lots of people who have been on this journey with me. No one ever does these things by themselves. I’ll stick with my family for this post but there are SO MANY others who have had an impact and for that I am forever grateful! Thank you to my one-and-only Linda for going along on this CrazyTrain, to my Mom, Jayne, who has been so supportive and my head cheerleader, and my kids: Corey, Marc, and Courtney. THANK YOU!

Of course I intend to make a difference for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation while I’m on this journey of preparation for Kona. Would you consider a donation, large or small? (I haven’t even had a chance to make my own donation yet!) 


23 November 2021

Ironman Arizona 2021

 I enjoyed getting to coach and spectate at probably my favorite Ironman race this past Sunday. It’s my favorite because I have a long history of racing there, having done my first IM there in 2009 and, as of now, having done 9 there altogether. I also have a love for the desert and Arizona that started in my college days. While it felt a little weird to be there and NOT be racing, I also knew that I was in no shape to race well at this time. I enjoyed trying to support and spectate for the 2 athletes I coach, John Sheridan and Jason Dubovsky that were there. 

Here I sit playing the “what if” game despite not really achieving good racing form this year.  As many people know, my ultimate goal has been to qualify to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Before I earned a spot on the list for a “legacy slot” (finishing 12 IMs back in 2018) I came close to qualifying a couple of times, missing it by 1 place one year and by 3 places another year. So, even though the legacy slot will eventually allow me to go to Kona, I still look at finish results and think “what if?” What if I was in very good Ironman shape and capable of coming reasonably close to my best (or even my 1st) Ironman time? It’s hard not to look and wonder. And even though I know I’m not the same athlete I was in 2015 (11:29) or 2009 (12:32) I can’t help myself. 

I looked at the finishing times with the understanding that there’s only 1 Kona slot. I knew that my friend Kurt Madden would be very hard to beat. He finished first in 11:23 but may already have a slot - he has the right of first refusal. 2nd place was 11:57, 3rd was 12:50, and 4th was 13:23. Of course conditions are variable and are different each year but those times gave me hope for a solid place, even if Kona wasn’t available. 

And the point of all this? Motivation. I’ve struggled to find motivation since qualifying for a legacy slot. Among a few key ingredients to being your best in an Ironman is consistency. Being consistent with training can overcome other weaknesses. Being consistent and doing appropriate training for what’s need for a race like this is a big key. It is difficult to be consistent when motivation flags. When you have multiple goals, multiple reasons to train you are more likely to be successful in doing what you need to day after day. You don’t have to think about it as much because the reasons are there, making the decision to train and making that a priority makes consistency much easier to maintain for the long haul that Ironman training can be. It also helps other key components be easier to execute: things like eating like a disciplined athlete, working towards race weight, sleeping enough to maximize recovery, etc. are all easier to keep up with

While I had already been jolted awake by my slow Oceanside 70.3 race and had made some changes to my training, this reminder, this additional motivation, just added to the desire to continue working to achieve things. This watching of IMAZ 2021 from the sidelines gave me something I wasn’t expecting - what a bonus that is!

So what does that mean for you? This is just one example of what kind of thinking you might want to do during December, before the start of 2022. Figure out what motivates you to get off the couch, overcome your possible inertia, and gets you moving and physically active. Figure out multiple reason why you want to do something. Figure out what motivates, or will motivate, you. It doesn’t have to be competition-focused. It could be something to do with your health or weight or fitness, your mental wellbeing, your resilience, your ability to do things as you age, or even something like being an active part of a community or maintaining friendships. Find “it”; find your “why”. Then figure out how you’ll achieve them. It takes planning and awareness and building habits.

If you ask me, movement is something doctors should literally write a prescription for, just as they do medications and such. It’s important for your health and wellbeing. 

I encourage you to keep moving because age could be gaining on you!

16 November 2021

Ironman 70.3 Oceanside

 Ironman 70.3 Oceanside – 30 October 2021

A week after Ironman California, Oceanside 70.3 was on my calendar. I anticipated it to be a “participation” race as opposed to a “race”. When IM Calif. in Sacramento was cancelled, this was an opportunity to use my fitness I’d built over the year. It was mentally hard to shift focus but I thought I was fortunate to have the race just one week later. Linda and I didn’t figure out right away that we were also going to be in LA for Halloween weekend with our twin granddaughters. We agreed that she should go to LA and I would race without her. We jokingly said, “It’s only a half (Ironman)!”
My first 70.3 was in Oceanside 2009. I have nearly never not had a 70.3 or full Ironman on the calendar since then. Because of the pandemic, the past year and a half have been my worst long distance training in a long time. As it is with many people, I had to adapt to the options available: more trainer bike rides indoors, strength training with home equipment, and moving all my pool swims to “dryland swims” and year ‘round open water bay swims. Trainer rides are great but it’s not the same as riding outside. Running took a hit from a combination of wavering motivation, a hernia, and the subsequent surgery. My running and riding have not come close to returning to previous levels.
Mom/Jayne and I arrived before 5am and walked at least a ½ mile to transition. I got set up and then met Mom and Phil and waited on the beach to line up for the rolling start. I had my wetsuit on part way to stay warm and wore an old throwaway sweatshirt. I also decided to wear my neoprene booties when I saw there was no carpet down the middle of the rough asphalt of transition/parking lot. I did a warmup using my resistance tubing, made a last minute decision not to wear a neoprene hood (announced water temp of 65°), and then lined up with the athletes who’s predicted times were :30 to :32. Once the fasted people started, time went quickly and I was in the water within 2 or 3 minutes. I got past the waves, seeming to swim straight towards the big buoy while others seemed to be swimming a bit crooked. After a right turn I encountered a few large clumps of kelp but just swam straight through it. We swam pretty much straight towards the harbor entrance, me staying a little wide of most people, and then swam into the calm harbor to the boat ramp. I mostly walked to, and into transition, along the carpeted edge. Swim split 33m23s.
Transition 1 took longer than expected. I quickly got the wetsuit off and put my aero helmet on first. Phil and Mom watched from beyond the fence and yelled at me that the helmet was on backwards! I didn’t move very quickly getting things done. I took time to put on my cheap “arm warmer” sleeves (tube socks without toes). I put shoes on as usual without socks and then walked out of transition pushing the bike to the mount line while trying not to fall. T1 split 10m03s.
At the mount line I took my time getting on the bike to avoid a fall. Confidence in doing the usual “flying mount” has waned – so have most of my bike handling skills. I was thankfully in my small chain ring for the 1st small hill leaving the harbor. As it was, I still swerved, nearly hitting a traffic cone. Within a few minutes I had dropped my chain and had to stop to put it back on. It took a couple of minutes because it really got wedged in. The 2nd half of the ride has climbs, small hills, and plenty of undulation. I’d only remembered the climbs so the ride was no joke. I really needed an easier gear to shift into. I stayed in aero when appropriate, which was a small victory since all my training on the trainer did not include riding in that position. I was also not in shape for climbs since summer training was all about prepping for Sacramento, a very flat course. Bike split 3h21m18s.
I walked my bike awkwardly through transition to my spot, got rid of my bike gear, and put on my run gear. Why this took so long I don’t know. The portapotty only accounted for 2 minutes at most of the slow T2 split 10m00s.
On the run I ran and took walk breaks all along as I had planned. The course itself is pretty flat except for some short, steep uphills and downhills. Since I alternate running with short walk breaks I walked these sections. When I was younger I’d more or less run the downhills but not this time. All I could visualize was me doing a face first splat… so I walked down the steep hills. The course has 2 out and backs. My quads gradually hurt more and more. During the first half of the 13.1 miles I would look at my watch and see what my mile pace was. It reflected exactly how I’d trained – slow for me. I didn’t continue checking because I knew that wasn’t going to help motivate me to go faster. I was doing what I could. I saw Mom cheering me twice on the run. I was surprised to see Bev, Pia, Tristan, and Jen out there spectating. The last few miles were difficult in spite of knowing I was nearly done. I even decided that a portapotty stop with just 2 miles left was necessary for my old man bladder. As I ran down the finish chute, I saw Kat to my left cheering for me. Seeing her brought me to tears which I tried to quickly stuff so I could get to the finish line. I usually cry upon seeing Linda after a full Ironman but not at the end of a 70.3. This time the 70.3 just felt so hard despite my slow time (for me). Run split 2h40mi 18s.
6:55:00 Finish Time, 15th of 24 in my age group.
After thinking about this performance and this finish for a few days, I have made peace with it. It reflects my fitness level very well. The swim was pretty decent considering I have really only swum in open water for the past 18 months, not returning to the pool. Because of my long-time swimming background, I am gradually getting slower as I age. The most I can hope for is that I limit the slowing. This doesn’t apply to my bike and run because my athletic age in those sports is younger.
My training for the run has been less than great. I often ran 2+ minutes per mile slower than I did just a few short years ago. That may reflect my very inconsistent training in 2020 when I had 3 training interruptions due to an abdominal hernia and surgery. I have yet to find my old self. A lack of motivation due in part to the pandemic also was a factor. Also, when I consider how sore my quads ended up being the days after the race, tells me I probably did almost all I could on race day. Soreness ranked up there with how I feel after doing a full Ironman. Finally, I also began getting infusions for my “colonless colitis”. How that affected things, positively or negatively, I can’t say for sure. I think it made things better but my reduced level of energy - causes unknown - are also part of this confusing mix.
Finally, bike training has been less than stellar too. I spent more than a year only riding on the trainer and this affected my bike handling skills and comfort. In some ways I got very fit but when it came to endurance, that was certainly diminished. I put in an adequate number of 95 to 115 mile training rides but they were slow for me. They did help me gain some lost endurance but in the end it wasn’t enough for Oceanside. It also didn’t help that my bike, well ME actually, weighs nearly 20 lbs. more than my usual race weight.
All these thoughts on my performance give me perspective and food for thought. I find it difficult not to compare previous performances with this one even though it’s not always fair to do that. And besides, there are other goals besides time or pace. Processes, execution of a plan, experiences, etc. also are important. Performance is only one component but that tends to guide and drive my training. Since training is a process regardless of the race, I have reasons to train anyway but with this year’s 70.3 Oceanside being a full 1 hour 30+ minutes slower than my best time and with me signing up for the 2022 Oceanside race, I have plenty of reasons to refocus, work consistently, and do more to have a better race in 5 months. Even at 65 years old there are things to work on and things to improve on. They aren’t all race specific but for me, a race on the calendar helps me focus.
In the end I am grateful that I’m still able to physically do this. I’m grateful and thankful for the love and support I get from family as well as my great friends near and far.

20 May 2021

Bass Lake Triathlon Checklists

 Slade Coaching Bass Lake Tri Checklist 2021 Full List – You Decide What You Need!

Pre-race items – Note: create your OWN list of what YOU will need. Not everything in this list necessarily applies to you.  

o   Cheap flipflops for the run/walk up from the lake 

o   Warm up clothes 

o   A bag to put everything in  

o   Sunscreen 

o   Chap stick/lip balm 

o   Permanent marker (for DIY body marking)  

o   Race Nutrition (Gels / bars / etc. for pre, during, and post-race)

o   Fluid replacement drink (pre, during, & post-race)  

o   USAT card and picture ID (if you have an annual membership)

o   Money (just in case)  

o   Cell phone (Cannot be used during the race) 

o   Bike pump, bike repair kit on bike (spare tire/tube, CO2 pump or pump, tire levers, etc.) 

o   Watch, Garmin, and/or Heart rate monitor including strap o Race bottoms

o   Race top

o   Sport bra 

o   Goggles (spare pair?)  

o   Antifog/Baby Shampoo 

o   Swim cap (race provides) 

o   Wetsuit or speed suit (optional: neoprene cap, booties, ear plugs)  

o   Body glide or similar body lubricant 

o   Electrical Tape or Duct Tape  

o   Timing chip and strap (already on ankle BEFORE you leave for race)

o   Race number  

o   Race belt or safety pins  

o   Remove ring(s) or use bandaid to keep from falling off

o   Backpack 

o   Body glide/spray (or borrow from teammate) 

o   Emery board for fingernails 

o Pocket knife 

o   Small water bottle to sip pre-race or use after swim to rinse feet 

o   Ziplock bags for cell phone, etc. 

o   Wetwipes for portapotty or for hands, face

o   Extra toilet paper or tissues

o   Feminine products (if possibly needed) 


Check List By Segments – You Decide

Pre-race items - Also see full list 

timing chip and strap (supplied by event - already on ankle BEFORE you leave for race) 

race number (supplied by event) 

race belt or safety pins  

remove rings (finger) or use bandaid to keep from falling off 



body glide (or borrow from coach, teammate) 

emery board for fingernails 

pocket knife 

bike pump (or borrow from coach) 

sm. bottle water to sip pre-race 

Chapstick/lip balm/make-up(?) 

Ziplock bags for cell phone, etc 

wetwipes for portapotty or for dirty hands

identification, Road ID,  

heart rate monitor, Garmin, bike computer, etc.

temporary tattoos, inspirational note/picture, wristbands, etc.

Feminine products (if possibly needed) 



tri shorts 

tri top/shirt 

event swim cap 

wetsuit if wearing one 

BodyGlide or TriGlide spray

goggles (and back up pair?)

flip-flops or large socks


Transition 1 (swim-to-bike) 

 transition towel or mat  

 water bottle (to rinse feet) 

 extra towel (?) 


 socks (if using, put in shoes) 

 bike shoes (or running shoes) 


 bike gloves 

 arm warmers 


 gels or other calories 

 water bottle on bike, possibly with electrolyte and/or calories 


 bike in low gear  extra contact lenses or eyeglasses

 Feminine products (if possibly needed) 


Transition 2 (bike-to-run) 

 running shoes

 extra socks (?)


 running skirt, etc. (if wearing one)

 nutrition – gel, liquid, and/or solid calories


 Feminine products (if possibly needed) 

Post Race

 room key/car key 

 cell phone (to brag of your success!) 

 change of clothes! 

 post-race nutrition 

 money and ID (for adult beverages) 

28 November 2020

Open Water Swimming in Cold Water

As you may know, for the past 2 weeks a few of us have been swimming at Ventura Cove in water with a temperature between 57° and 59°f. Many people consider this very cold - too cold to swim in. Even those of us still swimming think we are crazy because it IS cold! The thing is, if your options for swimming are limited (COVID19, $$?), OWS might be an answer. If you were to ask me over the summer if I’d still be swimming out there right now, I would have said “No” with total conviction. I hate cold water and my definition of what cold water is has steadily gotten warmer as I’ve gotten older. I don’t know why but it’s different now.

The thing is, we’ve been swimming since long before the water temp got below 60°. Besides wearing lots of neoprene, we’ve kind of adapted to the conditions. And we aren’t doing it by ourselves - we experience positive peer pressure by resolving to get out there each time. We also refer to the conditions in certain ways. The swims are “invigorating”. The water temperature is “fifty-crazy” degrees. 

Another thing we are experiencing is that it is very tough getting in, swimming to buoy #1, and even swimming from buoy #1-5. After that, our faces are cold and fairly numb and our feet and hands are cold too, but honestly it’s not terrible at all! It’s harder to talk because your jaw doesn’t work quite as well but other than that, it’s actually fine. 

Here are the things we are doing to allow us to keep doing this. Just like with any swimming, it’s important to pay attention to the potential risks and minimize those risks.

  1. We all are wearing full wetsuits. Sleeveless wetsuits let too much water in and expose your armpits to the cold.

  2. We all have neoprene hoods (caps) that keep core warmth from escaping. These hoods also cover the ears, which is an important benefit. We also have a silicone or latex cap over that to make us more visible and to add an extra layer of insulation.

  3. Some of us have neoprene swim socks/booties that help keep the feet warm, at least at the beginning. A couple of us wear neoprene gloves for our hands.

  4. We don’t swim alone and we swim relatively close to shore. Regardless of what level swimmer you are, cold water hypothermia is a risk and having someone there to help you if you need it is important.

  5. We splash our faces and backs of our necks with water as we wade in. This helps eliminate cold water shock (and danger) and gasping for breath due to sudden immersion in cold water. (Never dive into cold water.) Being about waist deep, bending over, and blowing bubbles for 30 seconds or more would be even better! Also take your time getting in - don’t rush it!

  6. We give ourselves time to adjust. If you get in, start to swim, and then turn around and come back in, you aren’t giving yourself enough time to see if it actually, really is okay.

Additional tips:

  1. Use a tow float for visibility if you decide to go well beyond the buoys in Ventura Cove or Glorietta Bay.

  2. Bring a dry towel, absorbent changing robe, parka, and/or changing ‘tent’.

  3. Warm up after! Bring a warm beverage to consume afterward so you warm your core from the inside, if needed. A hot shower is NOT the way to warm yourself up. Remove any cold, wet things, dry off, and put dry clothes on and cover up if needed. Note that your core body temp continues to drop some after you’ve gotten out of the water so that’s a big reason why a warm drink can be very helpful.

  4. Ear plugs can be a help in keeping your head warm and as a way of keeping your equilibrium if you only breathe to one side.

  5. If you haven’t been swimming in colder water like this, make sure you start with short swims and then build up your time.

  6. Doing arm swings and similar warm up movements will help you be more ready to swim once you get in.

  7. Always swim close to shore. The buoy line is a fine distance but if you get in trouble AND have to deal with cold water, it’s much better to be reasonably close.

  8. Know the signs of hypothermia just in case! Being “tough” or being a good swimmer has nothing to do with hypothermia. You cannot just stick it out. Be smart: if you have any signs, get out of the water!

    1. Shivering: It’s your body’s natural response to certain conditions. If you begin to shiver, it’s time to get out.

    2. Gross motor control: If you start losing some control over your motor function, e.g. your fingers don’t do what you want, you’re done.

    3. Stroke rate: If your stroke rate slows significantly below what is normal, head for shore.

    4. Thinking: If you aren’t thinking clearly or your thinking has slowed, that’s a sign to go in.

    5. Euphoria: Usually a late stage of hypothermia, if you’re feeling euphoric out there then that’s a clear sign that you need to call it a day. This usually happens after 1 or more other signs appear.

There is little doubt that when we swim out there we feel good about ourselves, are invigorated, and feel more than a little accomplished!

09 June 2020

5K Time Trial

I ran a relatively hard 5 K for time today. It was on my own and not a race. It was meant to be a measure of current fitness and a sort of benchmark to measure where I am in future weeks. I had low exceptions but hoped that it would go pretty well.

It did not go well. While I knew my run fitness for a half or full marathon was lacking, I hadn't expected this 5K/3.14mile run to be such a struggle and be as slow (for me) as it was. As the athlete I wonder what's going on. I wonder what the reason is; why I couldn't perform. As a coach I can tell me that you've had good and "bad" days every week for months. I can tell me this is a starting point to build from. I can tell me this is just a point in time and not permanent. I can tell me but I can't make me listen!

I do not always have the answer, especially when it comes to bumps in my road. I will continue to train anyway, to aim for improvement, to uncover the reasons for this level of fitness, and to persevere. I do not have high hopes or expectations but I'll do it because I respect the process that is training. And I'll do it because I value my health and being a triathlete.