Final Day!

Tomorrow it starts!  I can't believe it!

Well I thought I would be out here resting, but in fact I have been running around like a lunatic taking care of all the last minute details -- bike check, registration, extra parts, race wheel configuration, laundry, blah blah.  I need to rest today for sure, but we have a big pre-race meeting this morning, then a crew team meeting, then I pick up my final crew member LW Walman at 1:40 at the airport, then we need to pack the van.  Somewhere in there I have a race strategy call with my coach and we will head down to cook some race food and have some down time with my crew captain Chris Uettwiller and his girlfriend Erin and her parents, who have rented a groovy bungalow just down the beach.

On Tuesday I drove the course; and so glad I did, even though it took me almost 7 hours by car! Really helps to visualize the whole thing and there are quite a few tricky turns I don't want to miss.  The most striking thing was how wet it was on the other side of the Island, which makes me very nervous.  I can deal with the heat, but I really don't want to crash on some technical descent on wet pavement.  That said, its definitely a beast of a course, but the climbs don't seem as bad as I feared.  Not nearly as challenging as the climbs I have trained on, which is an awesome confidence boost.  But if its windy, all bets are off.  The steepest climb is the first 5 miles of the first day ride -- straight up a relentless grade right out of the water.  After this its mostly rollers with a couple very gradual low grade but very long ascent (which is likely to be very windy) to finish Day I at almost 5000 feet at Volcanoes Nat'l Park.

The beginning of Day II is a long and very fast descent from Volcanoes -- the pavement will likely be wet and so this has me a bit spooked.  Then a lot of flats and rollers until the ascent from Waimea to Hawi, which could prove beasty.  Its 170 miles, so its going to be very hard no matter what.

And if Day III is hot, its going to be like running through a humid Sahara.

Can't wait.

Yesterday I went for my last very easy run, then just took care of details.  Down at the pier I finally met Josef Ajram from Barcelona, who I have been chatting with alot on Facebook.  He did the race last year and is super cool guy -- quite a character (and has quite a fan base back in Spain!).  Fully tattted and topping it off with a hoop piercing on the INSIDE of his mouth under his upper lip.  And he is sporting a new custom titanium bike with his name etched into the frame.  Pretty damn cool.  He should move to LA.  Anyway, that's him in the picture with me at BikeWorks.

Then went to registration, which was quite intense.  Alot of forms and so many little details to attend to.  I walked away with a huge orange Gatorade cooler filled with stickers (for the van), race numbers, water bottles, wrist bands, etc.  Looking around, I noticed no shortage of very intimidating looking athletes -- these guys look like gazelles.  Like they were genetically bred for this stuff.  Lean fighting machines, with legs bursting with striated slow twitch fibers.  Including Peter Kotland, who owns the course record for the run -- 5:33 for the double marathon!  That is truly incredible, bearing in mind its after 2 days of brutality.  Not to mention bikes that look like they came out of some sort of Manhattan Project.  I was humbled.

Last night I picked up my dad at the airport.  So cool that he would fly all the way from DC to be in my crew.  Will be interesting to see what he makes of all this.  Its certainly a world apart.  And its his first time to Hawaii, so as much as I don't want it to be hot for the race, I also want nice weather for him.

What else? (1) People here love Spam.  The even serve it at McDonald's; and (2) the ATM machine ate my card last night (as if I don't have enough financial adversity at the moment) -- did I say surrender to the Island?  Well this takes it to a new level.

Otherwise, getting very excited.  Woke up at 5 am today and couldn't sleep.  What am I thinking about?  What am I doing here?...How am I going to pack everything into the van?...I don't want to crash.....I don't want to make a wrong turn.  I hope my butt doesn't hurt too much on the bike....I'm getting out of shape...I haven't trained enough.....I'm not eating right...I forgot to buy potatoes and the stores are closed.....I can't believe the ATM ate my card....You name it.

Time to go downstairs to meet my dad for breakfast...Check in later.

Latest from Kona

First off, check out this groovy commercial.  It features Miro Kregar, a Slovenian professional endurance athlete who is here getting ready for his fourth Ultraman.  This guy is a super stud -- 18 Ironmans (PB 8:52) and a slew of insane races, including the Slovenian 24 hour bike record - 676 km.

Anyway, I'm told this spot ran in Europe like crazy and won a bunch of awards -- its pretty funny.

This morning, I met up with Miro, as well as UM athletes Gary Wang (CA, USA) and Peter Mueller (SWITZERLAND) for a swim in Kailua Bay.  It was great to be out there and my stroke feels great in the buoyant salt water.  And my new Rocket Science sleeveless wetsuit is working well -- very buoyant, not hot, no leaks, and no rash.  I think I will be wearing this rather than my Sailfish speedsuit on race day.  Was great to just be out in the warm water, spotting all the exotic fishes and just enjoying the morning -- felt like freedom.

After the swim, had breakfast with Gary Wang at the famous Lava Java on Ali'i Drive.  Gary is a studly cyclist and runner getting ready for his 8th Ultraman!  If that's not impressive enough, Gary has also competed in alot of ultra running events, including 10 finishes of the famous Western States 100 mile run -- probably the most prestigious ultra-marathon event.  Could he be any more experienced?  Gary was a faunt of knowledge and patiently answered all my knuckeheaded newcomer questions with aplomb.  Learned alot and feeling more relaxed about everything.  Check out Gary's site for all things endurance & ultra.

This afternoon I stopped by BikeWorks Kona and chatted up the staff.  This place is dialed -- I should have left all my race nutrition at home, as I could have picked it all up here!  Tomorrow they are going to look at my bike fit (particularly my ongoing saddle issues) and help me get my ride race ready.  While browsing, I ran into Jason Lester -- attempting to be the first challenged athlete to complete Ultraman (see my post dated October 23, 2008).  I had spoken to Jason a few times on the phone over the last couple weeks, mostly about the documentary that is being shot about his journey.  Such a cool cat -- it was great to meet him in person finally.

Was on my feet way too much today, so now back in my hotel room resting and catching up on some lawyer work.  Plan on driving the entire course tomorrow.

The Doping Suit

Check out Tony Austin's SCAQ Masters Swimming Blog.  Great stuff.  I love this post on the advent of speedsuits.  This picture pretty much says it all.

The photo above comes from Ben Vankat's photostream

Arrived in Kona!

Finally here in Kona.  Its been a long road.  Can't believe I actually made it.  Now all I have to do is get ready and race.

Ran into the Stanford Tennis Team in the Oahu airport during my layover (pouring rain and dark skies).  Chatted up one dude.  I seem to think I'm sort of still in their age range -- I forget I'm 20 years older than these kids.  He was cool, but probably wondering why this old man was talking to him.  He asked me if I swam for Skip Kenney.  Sure enough.  Can't believe Skip has been coaching the Stanford Men's Swimming Team 20 years after I graduated.  Feels like yesterday.

Arrived in a very overcast and raining Kona too; in fact, supposed to rain next couple days.  Can you believe that?  Not exactly what I had in mind, but then again, you can't control this island, that's for sure.  Just gotta surrender to it completely.

My bags arrived (good news) but my big TYR backpack had a big rip on it.  I opened it at baggage claim to discover my Fluid powder recovery drink was open, and the sugary crystals had poured out over everything in the bag.  Sort of a mini-disaster.  Luckily no clothes in this bag, but it was a huge mess.  And the thing is, I KNOW I screwed that lid on tight.  I have no doubt that TSA opened the bag (ripped it) and opened up all my jars of various nutrition, then failed to screw the Fluid jar properly.  I was furious, all ready to make a stink, then just took a breath and decided to forget it -- not worth it.  I'm here, aren't it.  Leave it alone and just enjoy the fact that you are finally in Kona, 7 months and countless miles after I first dreamed up embarking on this crazy journey.  The only real bummer is that Fluid is hard to find and I need it!  Doubt they sell it anywhere on the Island, so I am going to have to dispatch my crew member Chris Uettwiller (still in LA) to go pick more up for me -- only place I've seen it sold retail is at TriathlonLab in Redondo (awesome store by the way) -- not exactly convenient for Los Feliz Chris.  But the important thing is that bike arrived intact -- no damage.  Just put it back together and looking forward to a spin in the morning.

When I checked into the Outrigger Resort (OK, nothing fancy) -- get the feeling the island is pretty dead.  Tourism is at a close to all time low given the economic landscape and it would appear this hotel is pretty empty.  Anyway, wasn't going to train today, but was so ansty after sitting all day (despite only 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night), went out for a 60 minute run in the dusky drizzle.  Warm and very humid, I recon-ed the area, looking for the local grocery, etc.  Felt pretty good.  Now just getting settled and hitting the hay early, hoping to see the sun for at least a bit tomorrow.

Unpacking, couldn't resist a couple shots of my nutrition.  Sort of insane.  And even with all this astronaut food, I'm looking at it thinking I didn't bring enough -- I need more.

On My Way....

At LAX right now with an hour to kill before I board my flight, thinking about how I will be going for a swim here by the Kailua Pier.

Ran around all day yesterday picking up supplies -- fresh pair of Brooks running shoes, socks, tire tubes, a running singlet, a sweet Castelli cycling bib, new cycling gloves, some Fluid recovery drink, and a sweet new Rocket Science sleeveless wetsuit -- this is the company that just came out with a new FINA approved super fast swimming bodysuit -- apparently faster / more boutyant that the Speedo LZR -- causing quite a controversial stir in the competitive swimming world.  Check out this article in for the beef.  Anyway, I now have the essentials to compete.  Will still need to pick some stuff up on the Island -- backup bike parts, tools, coolers, etc.  But I was able to get what I need, so very psyched to be dialed!

Packing was a bear.  Thank god I was able to rent an TRI-ALL-3 bike case on a tip from my buddy Brian Lasky.  This is the premium box, making the bike packing process far simpler than those crazy clamshell cases that require basically taking the entire bike apart.  Up till midnight packing, then up at 4:30 to get to the airport.  We loaded the 2 little sleepy girls in car, fit the bike box in (remarkably -- thank god for the Volvo SUV with 3 rows of seats) and my wife Julie dropped me off.  Hawaiin Airlines charged me $140 for my luggage!  $100 for the bike box and $20 for each of my 2 other bags.  What!?!?!  They told me that since I booke my flight after August they had to charge me for ALL checked bags.  Never heard of that one before.  But whatever -- I'm going to Hawaii, right?

I have a 2 hour layover in Oahu, then a connector to Kona.  It will likely be dark by the time I get all checked in, so no training today.  Plan to wake up and get out on the bike in the morning, head down to the pier and go for a swim.  Can't wait.

Props from Lance Armstrong's Agent!

Just got an e-mail on Facebook from Bill Stapelton -- Lance Armstrong's long-time uber-agent -- wishing me good luck at Ultraman.  Could there possibly be anything cooler than that?!?!

Alot of people know of Bill as Lance's long-time agent -- he has been with him from the very beginning (since 1995) -- but what most people don't know is that Bill was a member of the 1988 Olympic Team in swimming (200 Individual Medley), a US Champion, an NCAA All-American at the University of Texas, and a double Gold Medalist at the 1987 Pan American Games.  If that isn't enough, he is a former VP of the US Olympic Committee and CMO of LIVESTRONG.

I can't say I really know Bill all that well -- I swam against him a few times back in the day (he repeatedly kicked my butt) and we have some mutual friends in common from swimming.

But I just think it is super cool that he would take the time to send me a good luck e-mail.  That definitely made my day.....Coolest thing ever.

Almost There!

Only one more day before I leave for Hawaii and so many damn things I have to take care of before I take off.  Just trying not to get too overwhelmed, but I feel like my head is going to explode.

What is amazing is that I am so obsessed with the logisitics of pulling this crazy thing off that I haven't even had time to think about the actual race (maybe that's a good thing my wife says).  In truth, I will be relieved to just be standing in the water, lining up for the race.  Right now I'm running all over town getting things I need and taking care of countless details -- medical waivers, bike box, race wheel rental, confirming hotel and minivan rental reservations, making sure my crew has all the information they need, and on and on.  And the equipment never ends -- tools, bubble wrap for the bike case, extra tubes, CO2 cannisters, cleats, headlamp, reflective tape, blah blah blah.  Its seriously like moving a MASH unit.  It reminds me of when I produced and directed my short film -- sort of like producing a 3 day movie...And on top of that, tending to my growing law practice.  Its been a high-wire act, no doubt.

Not to mention that this race is proving a seriously expensive endeavor.  My current budget to cover upcoming costs is about $3,800 -- and that is barebones, cutting out alot of the frills I would like to have but realize its just not going to happen and I am going to have to just make due with what I have; that said, there is no end to the amount of cash you can sink into high end bicycle equipment.

Why can't I just find a good corporate sponsor or two to help me out with all of this? Believe me, I've tried.  As far as the nutrition companies, they are great for getting free or reduced rate product.  But purse-strings are tight.  And I'm not exactly a pro with the resume.  I guess they just can't justify the ROI.  I'm not asking to make a living, just to cover some of the costs so that getting to the event isn't harder than training for it....Is that too much to ask?  Maybe.  I dunno.  Its just all part of the challenge I suppose.

On that note, my very talented photographer and commercial director friend Stacie Turk approached me yesterday about coming out to Hawaii to produce one or more "spec" commercials revolving around my participation in the race.  She has the funding committed by a production house to do it if she can get a product sponsor to commit to use the piece if they like it -- sort of a zero risk scenario marketing opportunity for the right company.  And even though its ridiculously last minute, you would think that someone would be interested, so we'll see.  She has approached a number of the companies who produce the products I use -- Trek Bikes, Vega / Sequel Naturals, Newton Running, Hammer Nutrition, etc.  So far she has come up against some resistance (Newton passed, thank you very much), but she is a firecracker, so if anyone can pull it off, its Stacie.  And she is a genius with the camera -- I have no doubt that she could create an amazing and beautiful spot for the willing client.  So stay tuned for an update on that one.

Just sent out another e-mail trying to rally the troops to donate to Maximum Hope Foundation.  I hope it spurs another round of donations.  I had lunch with Jill & Kimberley from the foundation the other day and it was great to connect with them in person -- they have been a huge support to me, so I hope I can be worthy of their support and raise some more funds for them.  They gave me a big bag full of MHF T-shirts for my crew and to hand out at Ultraman, which is pretty cool.  If you haven't donated already, there is still time!  Click HERE to visit the foundation website and follow the links to donate online -- its easy, and remember, every dollar counts -- even a $5 donation will help a family in need buy milk.

Got out on my newly detailed bike today for a 2 hour spin and a couple Z3 hill repeats up Latigo.  Felt great.  My body is finally healing and the taper is coming together -- felt like I was flying up the hills no problem -- cool sensation and the beauty of taper.  None of that deep burn and fatigue I was feeling on Saturday.

Back to the logistics......Until tomorrow.


Finally, a time to heal.

Well I'm now less than 2 weeks out from Ultraman. Still training, but the load has lifted and now its mostly shorter stuff with some Zone 3 interval work. Its taken my body a full week to even begin to feel slightly normal after that last Race Simulation, and I can still feel the deep fatigue of all the training, especially when I try any speed / top end work. But come race day, I know I will be fresh and ready.

This weekend was very light -- a 3 hour spin on the bike and that was it; quite a change from countless dawn to dusk Saturdays and Sundays. Headed south from the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica through Hermosa and back to avoid all the terrible air quality up north from the Sylmar fires. All flat with some speed work, riding with a group of guys, most of whom are prepping for Ironman Arizona and are also coached by Chris Hauth -- good time and fun to ride with a cool group of guys for a change. Did a bit of Z3 work and was able to hold in the high 300's for watts, getting up above 400 watts a few times, which was pretty cool.  But I could feel the deep burn and know I am still very tired from all the heavy weeks prior.  At least I didn't have to dumpster dive.  Some of the guys I rode with had read my blog, so I caught some grief for that -- well deserved.

After that, I took my bike into Helen's Cycles for a pre-race tuneup.  And took the opportunity to stock up on my race nutrition -- I bought $300 worth of stuff -- 2 giant bags of a lifetime supply of EFS gels, eGels, Perpetum, Cliff Blocks, Cytomax, Bonk Breakers (I love these), Endurolytes, Enervit, you name it.  I cleaned them out.  This plus the 10 bottles of CarboPro1200, and I think I have what I need for the race.  I was hoping to land some demo race wheels, but couldn't convince them to loan out their Zipp 303's.  So I resorted to renting some Zipp 404 clinchers from Race Day Wheels, which should be delivered to Kona by next Wednesday.  I have yet to ride on proper race wheels, so I am excited to check them out.

Tomorrow I have a 90 minute swim followed by a 2 hr 30 bike; Wed a 5 hr ride; Thurs a 90 min run in the am and 60 min run in the pm; Friday is scheduled as a rest day, but this will likely shift, as I travel on Saturday. I dunno about you, but this seems like quite a bit within 2 weeks of the race! I'm going to play it day by day. I'm 42, need the rest and do not want to go into this thing tired.  I've done everything my coach has asked of me (maybe missed 3-4 workouts in 6 months), but when it comes to resting, I may have to take it into my own hands a bit.  I feel like at this point, I need to err on resting versus overdoing anything.  I still have a tender right calf / upper achilles, and the last thing I need is a problem on that 52 mile run/

On other fronts, fundraising for Maximum Hope is going well -- thanks to all those who have already contributed!  I believe I have already raised somewhere around $3,000 with more people pledging daily.  Jill Gillett of MHF hooked me up with a publicist, who I spoke with today -- he is endeavoring to get some press on me and the foundation revolving around the race -- so stay tuned on that front.

Meanwhile, I'm working late, trying to shore up all my legal work before I head out on Saturday.  And trying to make sure I have enough money in the bank to cover all the impending costs of the trip -- hotels for me and my crew, minivan rental, equipment costs, backup bike rental, food for me and the crew, kayak & paddler rentals -- it all adds up pretty fast.  Like a 3 day movie shoot.  Or moving a MASH unit.  My current budget going forward is $3700.  Might need to cut some non-essentials....

Training Recap

2 weeks out -- time to taper.  Finally.

Last weekend I completed my final "Race Simulation" (the third consecutive torture session in three weeks), designed to approximate race conditions.  It was beyond brutal, essentially training dawn to dusk three days straight on the heels of three exhausting weeks of punishment, completing 95% of the Ultraman distance.  I almost didn't make it, but somehow I survived.  Whatever doesn't kill you makes you they say.  And this time I took it to the brink.

Here's the breakdown:

THURSDAY -- Warmup: 55 mile climbing ride -- hit some of the major Santa Monica Mountains climbs in my area -- Topanga and 2x Stunt, a steep 4 mile ascent.  Felt pretty magic on those hills -- it was nice.  But this was just my warmup for the 3 days to come...

FRIDAY -- Approximating DAY 1 of the race, which will be a 10K ocean swim followed by a 90 mile ride from Kona to Volcanoes Nat'l Park: started the morning with 10,000 yards of swimming as follows -- 3000 swim; 1500 pull; 2500 swim; 1000 pull; 2000 swim -- 60 secs rest in between.  My shoulders were screaming that last 1000 yards, but made it through in decent shape, holding a pretty even pace throughout.  Then jumped on my bike for a 75 mile ride.  Hit the climbs early -- Topanga (again), Piuma (8 mile ascent) and Rock Store (very steep unrelenting 4 mile climb), then down into Westlake Village for a flat loop home in the dark.  Felt pretty good, flying up the hills and powering the flats home.  Solid 9 hour training day with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain.

SATURDAY: Approximating DAY 2 of the race, which will be a 170 mile ride from Volcanoes to Hawi: 130 mile ride from Calabasas to Ojai and back.  This was a learning experience -- the very hard (and humiliating) way.  I was meant to go 145 miles, but fell short.  Here's why: I FORGOT to bring any $$ with me to buy food along the way.  Idiot!  I loaded my bike with about 1800 calories of CarboPro, plus one banana and one Cliff Bar.  I generally stop and buy some food about 1/2 into my long rides, as I can't carry any more (french fries are my preferred on the road food -- high in fat / carbs).  But at 60 miles in, I realized I had forgotten to bring any money.  Arrggghhh!  At this moment I should have turned around and headed back to my starting point to get some cash, but I stupidly pushed on.  And at about 70 miles I began to bonk.  HARD.  65 miles from home without any money or energy.  I was lightheaded, a bit delerious, my butt ached and I didn't know what to do.  My solution?  I dumpster dived.  I literally ate some leftover fries and onion rings sitting on a table at a remote burger stand in the middle of nowhere on Route 150 outside Ojai.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?  In retrospect, I should have just asked for some free food, but I was too embarrassed.  I then turned back and headed home.  I was also developing saddle sores and could barely sit.  That last 2 hours was grueling -- my power output had plummeted and I just wanted to get home as darkness set in.  I crawled to my car after 130 miles, ate everything in site and figured I would bust out the last 15 miles.  But it was too late.  I tried to go, but I was spent.  I couldn't make up for the severe calorie deficit I had created and had to call it a day.  Ultra-Bonked.  So I learned the hard way what I already knew intellectually.  You have to eat!  I went home that night completely exhausted, ate everything I could stomach and tried not to think about how I was going to handle a 45 mile run the next morning.

Sunday -- Approximating DAY 3 of the race, a 52 mile run from Hawi to Kona: 45 mile run.  Another long hard day at the office.  I awoke terribly exhausted and legs throbbing.  My wife looked at me like she was ready to take me to the ER I was so fatigued.  I did my best to combat the calorie deficit by eating a large breakfast (something I rarely do before a run), knowing that I will nonetheless still be running not only on exhausted legs, but also on inadequate nutrition (and all day at that!).  As if running 45 miles on rested legs isn't enough, I seriously doubted how I was going to get through this day so absolutely fatigued.  But I checked my thinking brain at the door and headed out, fuel belt loaded up with CarboPro 1200, a super high calorie / electrolyte syrupy drink (which worked great by the way), plus water and Enduroytes -- salt / potassium / magnesium tablets which keep my electrolyes in balance and prevent cramping.  I ran the first 21 miles from the Commons in Calabasas to "Dirt Mulholland" -- the dirt road portion of Mulholland Drive which begins in Woodland Hills and climbs East basically to the 405 Fwy.  I took it to the Nike Missle Tower (the back), which is a very hilly ascent with over 1000'+ of elevation gain.  I wanted to run on the softer surface, but I also wanted to train my legs not only for the climbing, but the punishing descents.  But I really paid for this on the second half of my run -- a long flat out and back from Calabasas down Valley Circle Blvd, around Lake Chatsworth to Santa Susana Pass in Simi Valley and back.  At about 28 miles I started to cramp in my right calf, despite all the Enduroytes I was gobbling down.  I slowed but continued to run to mile 33 when it seized up on me pretty good.  I stopped for 5 minutes, stretched, took in fluids / electrolytes but to no avail.  I thought I was done and got ready to call my wife to come and pick me up.  Then I thought -- this is what Ultraman is all about!  I need to push through this, because this is precisely where the rubber meets the road.  What separates the men from the boys.  This is the purpose of a run like this -- to push through the pain at those moments when you want to give up; when you feel like you just can't make it.  Its easy to run long when you feel good.  Its when its hard that you have to elevate your game beyond what you think you are capable of.  I recalled the words of my favorite ultra-runner David Goggins, who said that when you think you are at your limit, you are really only at 40% of what you can actually do .  So with these thoughts in mind, I started running again, refusing to cave.  Slowly, but at least I was running.  And as long as I don't stop, I might have a chance at getting home.  The sun set and I began my 15 miles death march, but I made it; and I made it without walking -- but when I was done I couldn't have run one foot further; and I looked like hell doing it.  I was cooked.  Absolute toast, thinking "maybe starting the run with 1000'+ elevation gain and drop wasn't such a good idea after all...."

Sunday night I could barely walk.  But then I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good, thinking I haven't trained enough.  And therein lie the insanity....

Now I start my taper.  Which in Ultraman terms still means 16 hours of training this week, albeit much lighter.  The hard work is over and I know in my heart of hearts that I have given it my all.  So when I line up at Ultraman I have the confidence to endure.  And when it gets tough (and it will), I know I have it deep inside to see it through.

Maximum Hope.......And Final Push

Just a load of gratitude for all the amazing e-mails I have received over the last day since I sent out my request for donations to the the Maximum Hope Foundation in support of my Ultraman quest.  I am overwhelmed by all the support and growing groundswell of immediate contributions to this worthy cause.

Its amazing to me that when I am in service to something greater and bigger and more important than myself, it all becomes worth it.  Yes, I love the training.  I'd do it anyway.  But when its not about me, it makes all the difference.

I have received such incredible words of support from so many people -- high school classmates I have not seen in over 20 years, college classmates, work colleagues, friends and extended family.  I am overwhelmed with emotion at the support.  So what started out as a fun personal challenge has morphed into a quest with much greater meaning.  A quest where the stakes are raised, and we can make a real and immediate positive difference for people in need.

So PLEASE PLEASE contribute anything you can -- no matter how small -- to this most worthy charity.  Remember, every penny counts, as 100% of the funds I raise will go DIRECTLY and IMMEDIATELY to a family in need.  So even $5 will allow a struggling family with a chronically ill child to buy milk...or juice...or help pay their gas bill.  Literally, the smallest contributions make a difference.

Again, click HERE for the link to the Maximum Hope Foundation.

And click HERE for the online contribution page -- you can contribute via PayPal or a credit card.

I've had some great e-mails with Jill Garrett, the founder of Maximum Hope.  She is thrilled at the response already, so let's keep the $$ flowing in!  She's even working on getting me a publicist so we can get the word out on a wider mass level.  SHe is also going to put up a page on the MHF site with some info about me and the race.  That is so cool -- I am simply beyond words.  

On the training front, I am into my last super hard "race simulation weekend".  Today I banged out a 10,000 yard swimming workout -- first time I've done that in over 20 years and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have EVER swam 10K in one workout.  Then I jumped right on my bike and rode 75 miles -- alot of climbing on what was a gorgeous perfectly clear 80 degree sunny and windy day here in LA.  I just finished -- a 9 hour training day.

Tomorrow I ride 140 miles.  Then I will wake up on Sunday morning and attempt my longest run yet -- 45 miles!  Should be interesting.

Maximum Hope!

The Real Ultraman

My buddy Drew sent me this rockin' pic.  It doesn't get any better.  

Maximum Hope Foundation

Well I'm less than a month away.  One more excruciating weekend of training ahead, then a big taper as I approach the final weeks of preparation for Ultraman.

Which brings me to a vital and essential component of my participation in this years event -- raising funds on behalf of the Maximum Hope Foundation.

For anyone who knows me personally or who has followed this blog, you know that I have taken my commitment to preparing for this event very seriously, sacrificing an unbelievable amount of  energy, finances and most importantly, time away from my work, family and four children to properly prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

But even a successful personal result at the event would be a loss without service to a cause greater than myself. Therefore, racing on behalf of a charitable organization I believe in is a vital and essential component of my participation. I considered many worthy organizations before becoming involved in the Maximum Hope Foundation, a small non-profit organization founded by Jill Garrett dedicated to providing financial assistance to families who have been financially devastated due to the excessive costs and problems associated with caring for a terminally ill child or adult battling a life threatening disease. Maximum Hope’s goal is to alleviate some of the anguish of these daily financial challenges and burdens by supplying a ‘boost’ to families in need who can no longer handle the every day expenses of rent, car payments, food, counseling, utilities, etc, which can be insurmountable when faced with the costs of extensive, ongoing medical care.

Unfortunately, too many people die waiting for medical treatment because they can’t afford it or that they survive, but then literally can’t afford to live. What impressed me about Maximum Hope is that (unlike almost every other charitable organization) virtually 100% of the money raised goes directly to people in need here in L.A. and California. Even with insurance, cancer is a very expensive illness and we all know that not everyone is insured and not everyone has someone to turn to. Although my family has not been directly affected by catastrophic illness, I have many close friends over the last year alone that have been devastated by cancer. Raising funds on behalf of Maximum Hope is not only my way of giving back but is an opportunity for all of us to do something to positively impact our community and all of the people who so desperately need the kind of help Maximum Hope offers.

I sincerely hope you will join me to help provide Maximum Hope with a donation so the maximum number of people who need it can benefit.

If you are interested in supporting my effort for Maximum Hope, here is how you can help. You can donate by pledging a flat donation of any amount you wish. I realize these are challenging economic times, and that finances are difficult for everyone right now. But even a small donation can go a long way towards making a significant difference for families in need. Therefore, both myself and Maximum Hope greatly appreciate any contribution you can afford to make.

For more information on Maximum Hope, click HERE.

Donations can be made very easily online via credit card or PayPal by clicking HERE.

And again, for more information on the 2008 Ultraman World Championships, click HERE.

In addition, I am happy to answer any questions you may have about Maximum Hope. Feel free to e-mail me anytime at or call me at 310.804.8857.

I sincerely hope you can take the time to donate to this most worthy cause!

Final Countdown.....

Sorry I've been off radar for a bit, but I honestly just haven't had a single free moment to update the blog.  Its pretty much been training, working, training, kids, training, sleeping, training, eating, training, wife, training, training.....Almost there -- just trying to keep the unbalanced parts of my life from completely falling apart in the meantime......Just need to hang tough for one last final hard week push...

I keep thinking my work is done.  That I should be tapering full on.  But not quite yet.  In the last 2 weeks I have laid down 2 race simulations....One more to go and that's it.  And believe me, as much as I love it, I'm ready for the training to be over.  I have blasted my body so far beyond anything I ever thought I would be capable of and only have to get through what will be my toughest weekend yet, then I can breathe a sigh of relief and KNOW that I am ready for Ultraman.  That I have done everything I can over the last 7 months to be ready..

Here's what's been going on:

2 WEEKS AGO: RACE SIMULATION #1:  After a relatively light week, I put in a solid race simulation weekend, which included a 100 mile ride on Saturday followed by a marathon run on Sunday.  I have to say this is the best I have felt yet.  The 100 mile ride felt like a light walk in the park, clocking in at 5 hours 20 minutes at a very manageable / conversational Z2 pace.  When I was done, didn't feel like I had done anything, which was quite remarkable!  Sunday morning I could feel some heaviness in my legs, so eased into the marathon, holding a steady yet very manageable Z2 pace, building to a negative split to finish in 3:30 -- my fastest marathon ever -- done on tired legs on a whim.  This was a huge confidence building weekend.  I just felt great, fast and easy.  And Monday morning, my legs felt fine -- would never have guessed I ran  brisk marathon the day before, let alone a marathon on the heels of a 100 mile ride!

LAST WEEK: RACE SIMULATION #2:  This was my hardest week yet.  An absolute bone crusher, made all the more challenging by uncooperative cold and rainy weather.  The focus here is light on the weekdays, with all the focus on Fri - Sun.  Here's how it went down, day by day:

TUESDAY: 5500 yd swim workout in my new Sailfish "Furious" Skin Suit -- (pictured above) a gift from my coach who is sponsored by the company and also the fastest skin suit on the market -- over 1/2 of the top 20 pro male finishers at Kona wore this suit.  Like a Speedo LZR type suit with a bit more neoprene for a semi-wetsuit effect and feel.  Felt great.  Can't wait to use the suit in the warm Hawaiian Pacific...

WEDNESDAY: Light 3 hour spin ride -- nothing focused or too challenging -- just to work out the kinks in the legs.

THURSDAY: 90 minute Z2 run -- 10.9 miles easy.  Felt like nothing.  Easy and light, like brushing my teeth.

FRIDAY: Here's where I upped the intensity ten-fold.  7 kilometers of swimming (pool), including some long sets (15 min / 10 min / 5 min swims; 10x400 @ 60 secs rest, etc.).  Right out of the pool and onto the bike for 60 miles of focused Z3 climbing and Z2 flats.  Hit Topanga and Stunt Road (twice) climbs.  Felt really good, fit and strong -- could feel some good power in my legs.

SATURDAY: 125 mile ride.  Long hard day in the saddle.  Rainshowers and cold.  Wet and miserable.  First 65 miles all climbing -- Topanga, Piuma, Stunt, Rock Store, interspersed with very careful wet descents and 3 flat tires, which was really tough mentally -- wet and cold changing tires, the loss of momentum and cooling off, etc.  This was not fun.  Then hit flats around to Las Posas / PCH to Neptune's Net, where the sun set as I turned to climb Mulholland Hwy from PCH to the 23 -- a 10+ mile climb in total deserted darkeness, which was cool but a bit creepy, especially since I had no more tubes and risked getting stranded if I flat again.  But got a good second wind on this climb and finished strong, dumping back down into Westlake and finishing in Agoura.  But what should have been about a 7 hour ride took me over 10 hours with the rain and mechanical issues, so didn't get home until about 8:30 pm completely spent, wet, fried and starving, wondering how in the heck I was going to wake up the next morning and run 35 miles.

SUNDAY: Awoke early to pouring rain and throbbing thighs.  Drove to my office in Venice and embarked on my 35 mile run from here, thinking I'll give it a shot, but my legs are so tired, I may just end up bagging it after 8-10 miles.  I loaded up with a new fuel option -- CarboPro 1200 -- a thick orange syrupy type liquid that contains 1200 calories per 16 oz bottle.  Its been highly recommended (as well as used by David Goggins), so giving it a try.  The first hour was a slugfest struggle, my legs aching.  But after about an hour I gradually loosened up and felt OK.  Certainly not great -- just OK in a surviving kind of way.  I just put my head down, discarded any thought of looking at my pace, focused on holding my HR at 134 and getting it done.  Which I did.  The last 4-5 miles were quite tough, but the sun did come out which helped and just put one foot in front of the other, completing the run at around 8:00 - 8:30 pace over the last 5-6 miles.  And importantly, no walking.  I negative split the loop and finished in 5 hours 17 minutes -- certainly nothing great, but not bad at all considering I was so tired going into this run I really didn't think I would be able to do it at all.  And the CarboPro 1200 worked great.  No stomach issues.  No bonking.  No need to eat anything else.  Took Endurolytes & Thermolytes for electrolytes, plus water.  That was it -- no gels, no Cytomax, no bars.  So I think I've found the right nutrition for my Ultraman run....In any event, last night I was the most tired I have been yet and almost unable to move my legs at all.

THIS WEEK: Again, a few relatively light workouts leading up to the weekend, where I will do my LAST but LONGEST and HARDEST race simulation yet -- 9K swim / 75 mile ride on Friday; 155 mile ride on Saturday; 45 mile run on Sunday.

I'll let you know how it goes...But I can honestly say that if I can make it through this next week in one piece, I will be so ready for Ultraman -- mentally, physically and spiritually.  I will be as fit as I ever could have imagined becoming 7 months ago when I embarked on this journey...