2013 Review | 2014 Preview

2013 Tri collage

Howdy and happy New Year to all! After three months of non-Iron things, I’m looking forward to get crackin’ on 2014. During the off-season, I’ve been dealing with a nagging running injury to my left leg. Looking at the positive, it’s allowed me to get stronger on the bike and spend quality time doing normal human things.

The 2013 season was a great one. I continued my upward trajectory as a triathlete that I started in 2009 and set myself up to keep it rolling in 2014. Here are some highlights, things learned (always plenty) and goals for 2014.

Quick Stats:

  • 6,000 miles swam/biked/ran/stumbled/poked
  • 500 hours staring at black, white or yellow lines on the ground
  • 80 hours of Netflx with Ali
  • 615 coffees/espressos
  • 27 pounds of peanut/almond/Nutella butter (conservative)

Top wins of 2013:

1. Another great year with old and new training buddies. Notable training events:

  • M2 Amgen Tour of California Stage Ride
  • M2/Ultra-U Tahoe Training Camp
  • Mt. Shasta Century (M2 training weekend edition)

2. Raced competitively within a schedule of world renown top-tier races:

  • USAT Ranking (25-29M): 3rd in California; 17th in US
  • Age group podiums in every race except IM Tahoe
  • Top 10 amateur at EFA, Wildflower, IM Boise 70.3

3. Became a more “complete athlete” instead of a runner-triathlete:

  • Won Boise AG on bike
  • Dropped swim time at SVIT by over 5 min
  • 2nd and 3rd amateur runs @ EFA and Oceanside respectively

4. The best training block of my life in the “second half” of my season:

  • Ironman Lake Tahoe build after 70.3s and Olympics.

5. Completed the hardest Ironman I could have chosen for my first:

  • IM Lake Tahoe – started off calculated, finished gutty.

Top learning moments of 2013:

1. Unforced errors in races. All scenarios that could have been avoided with better planning and patience during the race.

2. Stomach shutting down at Boise 70.3 and IMLT. A lot of variables at play, but closer attention to nutrition will be a good start.

3. More strength, stability and flexibility throughout season. M2 TBT (total body training) at the beginning of the year and I was healthy through mid year. As volume increased and time for training stayed the same, injury prevention took a back seat and I paid for it.

4. I can go faster: Must swim with faster swimmers; bike gets better every day, continue to challenge myself; I can still run faster, goal is to get 10K down to 31 min.

5. Balance: My training was at an all time high this year, but it’s tough as a full-time working person. I learned a lot this year about how I can do this better next year.

2013 Season in Review

And up we go

EFA Podium_crop

Escape From Alcatraz

A race I’ve always wanted to do and finally got in via lottery. The course is one of the most challenging short courses in the world and competition is premier.


  • Fumbled swim
  • Took “new watts” into the race, biked well
  • Ran into podium finish
  • Great way to start the season 
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Escape from Alcatraz 3-Mar Tri 2:29:17 3 36 2nd Amateur run, Sand Ladder
Oceanside Transition

Oceanside Podium

Ironman 70.3 California – Oceanside

Another race that I’d been chomping at the bit to do, Oceanside is another incredibly competitive race, attracting California’s best. A fun weekend with guys in a house by the ocean, this set up for a fast race and fun times.


  • Competitive swim
  • Solid bike, but could have been more aggressive
  • Ran into an “IM” AG podium (4th)
  • John and Vince bread eating challenge
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Iron Man 70.3 California (Oceanside) 30-Mar LC  4:24:10 4 63 PR @ Half, PR Swim, PR Run, 3rd amateur Run
Cruising step for step against the pace plan. Rocky and Apollo, in that order.

Full extension was so good, had to post again.

Silicon Valley International 

USA Productions puts on great races local to the Bay Area that attract a lot of local talent. For perspective, the overall winner was age grouper Yoni Doron-Peters (a stud by any classification).


  • Swim +5min faster than last year
  • Biked hard, but couldn’t respond as well to moves as would have liked
  • Same run as last year (34min), dropped by Vince when we’d planned to turn up the pace
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Silicon Valley Tri 21-Apr Oly 2:01:53  3  9  Woof
Just some dudes goin' to drink beer on a lake. Maybe a little racing.

Wildflower medals M2

Wildflower Long Course

One of the most storied and classic races in the world, the Woodstock of Triathlon was true to itself: hot, hilly, naked Cal Poly co-eds and campfire beers.


  • Swim to be improved
  • Solid bike that trailed off in the last few miles
  • Studying course elevation profile pays off en route to running down AG podium and top 10 amateur spots
  • Congratulating Jesse Thomas on his 3-peat & Virgilio on beating me, shortly before dry heaving by food and being ushered to med-tent
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Wildflower Lake San Antonio 4-May LC  4:41:48  3 34  10th Amateur
Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Ironman 70.3 Boise

Traveled alone to and survived a logistical pickle at this unpredictable western race. Despite a late start (1:00pm) and some killer headwinds, it would be my first AG win at an Ironman race.


  • Swim through the masses as the last wave of the day
  • Assert self on bike through headwinds, stomach queasy by end
  • Fought stomach and poor mojo on run, but strong bike allowed to hold off pursuers
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Iron Man 70.3 Boise 8-Jun LC  4:32:44  1 30  9th  Amateur
Enter the abyss

Overcome. Family and Vince, arms raised in the background.

Ironman Lake Tahoe

The Bay Area went into a frenzy when California got its first Ironman and it was in Tahoe. I’m sure many people were second guessing their decision on race morning at 30 degrees. A day on a challenging course at altitude had an extra wrinkle on race day.


  • Swim was warmer than air temperature; swam slower to set up a solid day at altitude
  • Transition one was a nightmare with a full change in a crowded tent
  • Biked according to plan, but altitude bells rang in Martis Camp; slowed final 10 miles
  • Transition two wasn’t much better
  • Run started off well, wheels fell off at mile 13 and it was all guts to the finish
2013 Races, Results Date Type Time Age Group Overall Notes
Iron Man Lake Tahoe 22-Sep IM  11:23:12  8  118 Ironman Plus. Wow.
Berkeley Hills RR

Fitbit JP Morgan race

Non-tri races

Berkeley Hills Road Race:


First cycling road race, Cat 5. Played domestique to Virgilio’s podium race and nabbed a 7th place for myself. Very fun change of pace from tri racing.

JP Morgan Corporate Challenge:


Fitbit represented itself well among 11K runners from companies all over the Bay Area.

Competition was stiff and the 3.6 mile race was a good ole-fashioned, elbow bumping road race. I traded surges with the chase group for an 8th place finish in 18:12.


2014 Goals:

  1. Get left leg better, sustain strength to run healthy.
  2. Sport specific goals: swim with faster people, get 100m down; up watts on bike by 10%; get run to 31 min 10K.
  3. Age group podiums are great, but trajectory means overall amateur podiums, higher USAT national ranking
  4. Ironman 70.3 World Championship Mont-Tremblont
  5. Strike balance across training, relationships, work

If all goes according to plan, this is the tentative schedule for this year:

3/29/2014 California 70.3 IRONMAN Oceanside CA Pending run status
4/20/2014 Silicon Valley International Triathlon USA Productions Morgan Hill CA
5/3/2014 Wildflower Long Course Tri California Lake San Antonio CA
5/18/2014 Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon (23rd Annual) USA Productions Morgan Hill CA
6/1/2014 Escape From Alcatraz IMC San Francisco CA
6/7/2014 Boise 70.3 IRONMAN Boise ID
6/8/2014 Folsom International Triathlon USA Productions Folsom CA If no Boise
6/8/2014 Folsom Long Course Triathlon USA Productions Folsom CA If no Boise
6/29/2014 California International Triathlon USA Productions Pleasanton CA
7/13/2014 Vineman 70.3 IRONMAN Santa Rosa CA
8/10/2014 USAT AG Nat’ls USAT Milwaukee WI Maybe
9/7/2014 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant Quebec Goal
10/5/2014 Rancho Cordova International Triathlon USA Productions Rancho Cordova CA Maybe
10/20/2014 Oceanside Olympic Lifetime Oceanside CA Maybe


Thank Yous

Friends and family – Thanks to the Ohio gang, Ali and all my friends and family for your ongoing interest in and support of my progress. It fuels me to keep rippin’!

M2 – I would not have seen the progress I have seen had I not started training with M2 and the crew. Studio sessions and weekend training are all hugely imperative to development and super fun with such a great group.

GU – Thanks to GU for the products to help me to fuel and refuel this successful year. Racing for you in Boise was a great and I was happy to bring home some hardware.

SFTri Club – It was great seeing all of you out at races this year. Being a part of the community is stellar always, but especially on race day!

Fitbit – The crew at Fitbit HQ was very supportive of my racing this year, either in the office, on the after work runs or on the bike (track cycling!). Using our products allowed me to keep on my activity beyond the workouts, monitor my rest and stick to my race weight.

So that’s all for 2013! It’s been a great year and looking forward to training with my buddies and getting better with the M2 group in 2014. Health, happiness and PRs to all!

– MV

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Boise (First IM AG win!)

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

If Wildflower was the triathlon Woodstock – 8 dudes in some RVs, racing, drinking and eating a lot of meat – Boise was a business trip:get in, get out. Knowing that I wanted to do one more solid, competitive long course triathlon before Ironman Tahoe in September, this was the closest, most schedule-friendly and financially feasible race there was.

So off I went, solo to Boise Idaho for less than 48 hours to race a half Ironman. The outcome: taking my first age group win at an Ironman 70.3 race and discovering haloumi cheese (ohmafreakingod).

Flying solo

Racing solo presented its unique set of wrinkles to race weekend. I checked into my no-frills motel, similar to the meth hotel from Breaking Bad, a mile from the finish line and took the same taxi from the airport to registration. I realized I was in trouble when I saw the tri-bike transport tent at the expo.Which meant my bike was brought not to the bike start, but to the finish line. Which meant I had to get my bike to the bike start. Which meant that, after making some calls and realizing there was no option for bringing it there, I was going to have to ride it 10 miles uphill to the bike start.

So after riding my bike back to the motel on bike paths to get my helmet, riding it said 10 miles uphill to the bike start, convincing the iron-willed organizer to let my bike in without my (forgotten) stickers, and hitching a ride home with a tattooed guy in a kilt and a neon green drop top Wrangler – I was set!

I stayed positive, viewed the 10 miler as my warm up for the day, got to meet a cool guy named Clint in a kilt who would become my buddy and drive me to the race the next morning. All was good – but it sure took some effort.  

Race morning

This edition of race morning is about 6 hours longer than usual. Boise is a unique race in that race start is at noon (my wave at 1:00) as opposed to the usual 7:00ish. Going in, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. Sure, it’s more civil, but there’s more time idling around, finding shade, wondering if you should be eating or not, sitting or warming up… I think ultimately the later race start was nice, but my wave was last and went off at 1:00pm, way too late, and that 10:00am would have been great.

Race day song

Boise, Brazil, close enough.

The Swim

Boise waterAs the last wave of the day on a single loop course, I knew we were going to have to mow through some traffic. Luckily, the lake was crystal clear so keeping on the right people in sight was easier. The goal was to come out of the water in a competitive position, but, I wanted to be careful not to overexert. The altitude of Boise is not Tahoe-eque, but at ~3K ft., it ain’t nothin’. I paced and managed through traffic to come out in 6th position.

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 6

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 1.2 mi 00:33:00 00:33:00 01:42/100m 6 71 88

The Bike

I headed out onto the bike in the company of plenty of guys from my age group. Similar to the swim, a late start meant a lot of traffic to work though. The course started with a long downhill and some flat before a climb and I noticed guys were chippy with this free speed in their wheels.

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

However the head and crosswinds were insane. I had to ride the first couple of miles with a hand on the brake to prevent from getting blown over (seen above).

A big goal for Boise was to establish myself as a presence on the bike, something I knew I was capable of but perhaps didn’t have the confidence to do in other races. But I had to be careful in the wind early. When we turned to make the first climb, I targeted the guys who were making noise early and made it clear that they were going to have to ride well to keep up.

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

It was pretty difficult to settle into a groove with such strong winds. Watts jumped all over the board and I didn’t know which numbers were “real,” so a lot of by-feel riding. An out and back at mile 21 provided the biggest test of the day as it was straight into the wind. However the turn around provided the first glimpse at my position against the guys in my age group and it looked pretty good.

About 75% into the bike I noticed a bit of the pep in my step fading. After checking all systems, I arrived at the decision that this was likely because of calories and that perhaps the late start. So I started to take in calories. But by the time I was a couple miles out from the bike, I was really feeling zapped and my stomach was a bit off.

I cruised into T2 trying to reset myself mentally for the run.

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 3

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 56 mi 02:28:53 03:04:10 22.57 mph 3 42 44

The Run

Within the first 100ft there was something wrong with my shoe insole and I knew I had to stop, take it off and fix it, which was a buzz kill to that “bat-out-of-hell” thing I had going on. About a half a mile into the run I knew that I had bigger problems than shoe insoles to deal with. It felt like there was a vice around my torso. My stomach was really feeling awful – tight and nauseous

stan barfWorse yet I looked down at my watch and it was like I was running backwards. Bad thoughts started to creep into my head and as the miles went on, I began writing my race’s obituary in my mind. As I plodded along at a substandard pace, barely holding back beverages I’d drink at aid stations, I just waited for the first guy of many from my age group to come by me and put me out of my misery.

Except that wasn’t happening.

Either this was a slow day for everyone or they just hadn’t reached me yet. Whatever the case, just before the 5 mile marker I had a major HTFU moment. “Did you fly out to Boise, ID by yourself to get to mile 5 of the run and roll over? Didn’t think so. So let’s get running and stop quitting, you pansy,” is about how it went.

Boise Run_So I started moving with more confidence, hoping this would trick my body into thinking it wasn’t so bad. It kind of worked. And then after awhile, it definitely worked. I saw a guy at the end of loop 1 coming the other way who looked like he was running well and I was able to respond. Another reality check came at mile 10 when I felt like the race should be over, knowing I still had 5K to go.

“Just 5K to go,” I thought. A mile later, “OMG…2 miles to go???” The roller coaster continued.

Until I saw a strong swim/biker from our group that was approaching a turn around. I knew he was doing well in the race and was encouraged to see him. I came up behind him and gathered myself before making a hard pass that would lead into an elongated kick to the finish.

Boise Run chute_As I was approaching the finish line, it was great to see the support in the city of Boise present in the downtown finish. Music was playing and the crowd was great. I looked behind me and saw I was in the clear and coasted down the chute.

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 1

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 13.1 mi 01:26:54 04:32:44 06:38/mi 1 29 31

First Ironman event AG Win

I didn’t know that I had won my age group until getting a massage, eating soup to warm up, grabbing my morning clothes bag and checking my phone. Seeing all of the congratulatory texts, tweets and emails was a really cool way to find out. I had a feeling maybe I did, but given the slower pace of the run, wasn’t sure.

This was definitely a milestone in my days as a triathlete. First of all because I hadn’t won my age group and an official Ironman event, where the competition is usually a bit steeper, but that I did it on the bike instead of dropping the fastest run split (I did not this time).

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!


Swim: I was happy to come out in a position that would set me up to capitalize on my strengths. I averaged 1:42/100m which was decent, but as always, I need to be better.

Bike: I proved that I could ride harder and sacrifice some run performance and still net out OK. I feel good about how I handled the wind, but the energy zap toward the end was concerning.

Nutrition: On that energy zap…I believe I was dehydrated. At 3K feet, wind blowing so false sense of not sweating, late in the day start – all of these likely played a role. My response, however, was to take in more calories. This was a double whammy as I was dehydrated and my blood was going to my stomach to digest calories, and not my legs. So my theory is that I under drank and over ate.

Run: I worked with what I had on the run and executed a total mind over matter game. It played out OK, but I need to be mentally tough the whole race, not during the Haily Mary pass.

Boise: is awesome! It was a great race and I think I can definitely say it was the nicest town of people I’ve ever come across. If it works in my schedule next year, I will be back.

Thank yous

Thank you to my family, friends and of course Ali for the support. Michael and the M2 Revolution gang for helping me race the best I can. Fitbit for being supportive of my racing. GU Energy for the race entry and the buffet of nutrition options – I may have over eaten, but ultimately repped the best I could!

Next up, Ironman Tahoe. At mile 10 of the run when I wanted the race to be over, I wondered how in the heck I was going to do a full Ironman. I’ll let you guys know when I figure it out.