Last November in 70.3 Arizona I set a PB in a time of 4:29:09. It was good enough for 2nd in my division and 9th overall out of 1,783 athletes. But 7 days ago I had a better swim, the greatest power output I’ve ever held of 286NP, and a run of 1:38. The tougher course netted me a time of 4:47:18 which was only good enough for 25th in my division and 116 overall out of 3,472 athletes. While I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been why was my placement so different? Quality of the field! All races are not held equal and when one looks at placement, one must respect the quality of the field!
Today I won the 4th annual Harrah’s Ak-Chin 5K in Maricopa, Arizona. With 429 athletes, I was #1. I won a race against the largest field I ever competed against for a race-win. It’s something I’m proud of and shows that I’m better than the average person but I do respect my primary competition; IRONMAN 30-34 athletes. At the “pointy end” of this Age-group, the talent is unbelievable. In fact, multiple athletes Fiona and I have competed against have turned Pro. For years I was competing in 70.3 and IRONMAN events in Australia against Blake Kappler… Today he finished 70.3 Liuzhou, Philippines in his first Pro Race; he raced against 2X Gold Olympic medalist Alistair Brownlee and 3X IRONMAN World Champion, Craig Alexander. Congratulations to you Blake.
4PeaksRacing.com puts on damn good events. Fiona and I enjoyed them at the MountainMan Half iron distance race in Flagstaff, AZ Aug’17. So when I saw the Poker Run 5K, I thought it would be a fun race to do. It would be the week after Oceanside 70.3 so thought it would be good timing.
The Week Lead up
Sunday was off driving from CA to AZ. Monday 20min recovery run and 45min swim. Tuesday 1hour easy bike and 10 mile run. Wednesday I did a 1hr50min bike with some solid work setting my 3rd best 5min power of 363watts. Thursday was another 10mile run with 5miles up the biggest hill around climbing 500’ and then descending with my 2nd best 5K time of 2018 in 22:29. Friday was a 4.2km swim and 5mile easy run. (run 1 mile at 9min pace, walk 30s-1min). I bought a pizza for dinner and ate half a pie. I also ate a full salad. We also split a bottle of Champagne in which I had 3 glasses as our newer tradition of Champagne the night before a race.
Up at 5:45AM for an 8:30AM start. Drove to Dunkin Doughnuts and ate a donut and a bagel with cream cheese. Then drank medium redbull. Total brekky ~ 700 calories. We drove 90min NorthWest of Tucson and hit the loo and went to packet pick up. Before the race I looked at results and saw last years winner won in 19:22 and 2nd place was a 56year old finishing in 20:12… So I thought, ok “Top 3 is realistic but you never know who shows up so respect the race and do what you can.” The legs were a little zapped from the week and my stomach was a bit full from the pizza so I told Fiona “I’m going to go out at 6:30/mile pace and then see what happens.”
The crowd was massive and as the fantastic announcer/DJ asked who was going to win, a guy a few rows back yelled out “The guy with the 4 IRONMAN tattoos!!!”. Fi later said the guy behind me was pointing his fingers to me. The Native American community Ak-Chin gave a beautiful traditional blessing through song and then a younger girl sang the National Anthem hitting some damn good octaves. The Ak-Chin community was established by the USG in 1859. Their reservation was established in 1912. Besides the Casino, Ak-Chin farms raise cotton, barley, wheat, and milo; we would be running around a square of one of these, plus out and back along hard packed dirt roads.
I didn’t know what to expect and when I saw there would be a bit of head wind on Mile 3, I dismissed my race plan and was just going to race how I always do; all out. Fiona was going to pace off of me. After the count-down in the Ak-Chin native language, we took off. I was leading within 10 feet and new if I worked hard, I could get this. 3, 90 degree turns, I looked back and saw Fiona in a small pack about 20 seconds back. Mile 1: 6:07 and grabbed water for dry throat. Down the backside and round the curve into the headwind. Mile 2: 6:19. I grabbed more water from the table and just kept pushing having looked back and saw the pack 40 seconds back. At the turn around with 800 meters to go I realized I was going to have this as long as I did’t have a catastrophe. I saw Fiona in 4th with no other females around. I continued to push saying “I got this. Keep working. Don’t give up. 70.3 St George Utah (3 weeks from now)”. Mile 3: 6:30. I continued to try and keep quick cadence which had fallen from 174, 173, 173 even though my legs felt like they could give out at any moment, and crossed the line pretty stoked. I cheered Fiona in and then we walked it off cheering some of the other runners in. As I looked out and saw athletes of all sizes, ages, and abilities and many walking over the 40min mark, I told Fiona that I hoped these athletes would be inspired by running the whole event and look to become faster, setting Personal Bests, and receiving the personal satisfaction that anyone can achieve from personal achievement. But I saw many smiles, many ladies and men working hard, and proud of a job well done.
For me, a PB in my TrainingPeaks.com account which is 18 months old. And while its not a Personal Best, it’s the fastest I’ve run in 6 years. It was 5 seconds faster than I ran in the Saints and Sinners 1:27 half marathon. But that was in the first 5km of the race which dropped nearly 700 feet! BUT, it is 30 seconds faster than the Nut Run 5K I ran a week before IRONMAN Arizona in hometown Sahuarita on a similar course.
I am NOT a Fast-Twitch/Anaeorbic athlete. According the Jack Daniels PhD, this coverts to a 3:07:17 marathon. BUT, I’ve run 3:02 and a 3:05; I’m an endurance athlete. That is my strength. My races aren’t typically sub 20minutes, they are typically 9hrs45min!!! https://runsmartproject.com/calculator/
HAHAHA. So price entry was $20 which is a steal for an American 5KM. We got: Teck-Wick Tshirt, Bottle Opener Medal, Fruit at finish, Timed event, DJ, Traditional Blessing, Pool Party at the Casino with full lunch, 2 free beer tickets, as the overall Male and Female finishers Fiona and I both got a swag bag from the United Way and wooden-oversized medals, AND we got a $20 Match play which I turned into a $62 profit on a slot machine thanks to a hit of 200 Free Games. AND, our entry contributed to local charities.
On the way home I slowed down to take photos and video of what Fiona and I had smelled driving to the race with windows up and miles away before arriving. It’s a reminder to the nose and heart that in our consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD), that “food” we eat does come from somewhere. No, in the heart of a city or in our favorite restaurant we do not think of where that animal-based food comes from. It is important to read books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and realize that tens of thousands of Cows, getting impregnated in perpetuity, to stand in their own feces, so that we can consume products that include dairy from Milk to Chocolate and Yogurt to Eggo Waffles did come from somewhere. Slavery and Holocaust are happening every day in this country and around the world. You don’t need to look much further then your dinner plate.
Fiona and I are not perfect in our diet. I had that pizza, I ate chocolate today, and bought waffles. But, I can count the times over the last year that we have bought any type of meat or dairy to be consumed at home; we primarily consume a “Mostly-vegan” diet. My Boston Qualifier, Kona Qualifer, and Personal Bests have all been fueled off of plants. And it’s our desire to get that commitment back again. My 60 year old mother has also proven the benefits in adopting a vegan lifestyle and gaining the best fitness and health of her life. Until you try for yourself, don’t criticize.
The Days Not Over
In the pool at 2pm. 4.2km consisting of 4x1k of 1k warm up, 1k fins, 1k pull, 1k pull/paddles, 200m kick. Then, a 1hr40min ride in which I held my 3rd best 60min power of 275 and 90min power of 257 for 2018 and was leading Professional Triathlon Nathan Killam on a Strava Pursuit until I blew up. But, I did take 10th overall on a 46min segment holding 275watts at 21.2MPH and climbing 1,000’. Get this, the KOM was just taken 15 days ago by H&R Block Professional Cycling Team on their 9th day of a training camp in which I had seen out riding twice in Sahuarita. The 6-man pack are all ahead of me. (We live in one of the meccas of the USA for endurance sport). Then, it was onto a plant-based recovery drink.
After that I went to the gym for a 3mile recovery run: (9min/mile for .5 mile walk 30s-1min, then run to next .5mile mark). Fiona also wasn’t done.I headed to the food store and made dinner for Fiona: Homemade Green Curry with fresh Broccoli, SnowPeas, and Green beans over Jasmine Rice paired with a Penfolds Shiraz we brought from Australia last year.
I AM NOT PERFECT and I’M NOT THE BEST ATHLETE AROUND. I think it’s important to be humbled in that aspect but to also celebrate what one has personally accomplished. It’s also important to realize how to improve and stride further. With consistency, discipline, and plants, it’s pretty easy.
On this day I offer thank you to the race organizers, the Ak-Chin Community, the race volunteers, my amazing wife, my original running/plant-based inspiration in Trevor, and my mother who at 59years old as found a vegan/running/duathlete lifestyle.
Life is just too damn short to sit on your ass and always eat food that comes from animals standing in their own feces.