Jeff has completed six Ironman races and did his first way back in 2000. He swam competitively as a kid and teenager and stayed active on the bike by commuting as a kid and at college, plus adding in a bit of running when he was in college.
He heard about an international distance triathlon way back in 1994 and knew he could swim 1500 meters, ride 24 miles, and, if trained, run a 10k. After six years of the shorter distances, Jeff did his first full Ironman in 2000 (his first full Ironman also included his very first marathon: IM Florida 2000)! Jeff completed his first few Ironmans uncoached, but then he decided he wanted help to get faster and feel better during an Ironman.
Smarter not harder
One of the challenges for Jeff has been his schedule as a pilot. Over the years, we’ve learned that the travel schedule takes more out of him and his training than expected. He’s exposed to more germs (how often do you get sick after a plane ride?), and his sleep is interrupted and not the same quality as at home. Jeff now provides his schedule to Coach with sleep times factored in, as it’s proven to be that important!
Make no mistake, Jeff puts in the work and each year comes to the edge of overtraining. We have learned how to catch this earlier and earlier so that his training is not disrupted with long periods of down time. Jeff maintains open communication and can tell me that his AM heart rate is up or his workouts are starting to feel flat, and we know to back down immediately.
“Backing down” can be one of the hardest things for any athlete to do, so kudos to Jeff for listening, trusting his body to let him know what is going on, and then acting on it.
With coaching, we can’t use a typical training plan or periodization, as his travel schedule is all over the map (literally!). He also does not have access to a bike or pool most of the time he’s on the road. So we’ve learned to maximize his time at home for bike/swim and then focus more on running and strength when he’s travelling.
Among the triathlon sports, we’ve learned that Jeff is stronger in swimming and running, so that means our focus has been on biking. It takes considerable mental strength to really put in the time and effort in the harder sport, but Jeff has committed to it and gets it done.
Training Challenges on the way to IMAZ
Jeff completed Ironman France earlier this year. Although a solid effort, it wasn’t the race he’d hoped for. He recovered and was ready to take on IMAZ. It does help that IMAZ is a local race for Jeff, and he knows the course, having completed it once before.
When asked what were the training challenges in the lead up to IMAZ, Jeff responds:
“Surviving. This year was tough. I think we went over the edge a couple of times, and I was close to getting sick. But, when we needed to ramp it up, we were able to get right up to the edge of what I had available to me.”
As can be typical, Jeff had both a bad long bike and long run on the build up to IMAZ. He kept his eyes on the prize and didn’t let the tough workouts affect the rest of his training. For me as a coach, I find one of Jeff’s strengths is never getting negative during training and even before a race.
Ironman Arizona Race Day
It’s a long race! Jeff did have some challenges during the race. Both his calves locked up during the swim when other competitors swam over him. Instead of panicking, Jeff stopped, relaxed, breathed and stretched the muscles out. It seemed like an eternity but was really not that long. He was able to ease back into swimming and kept up his mantra, “Just keep swimming.”
IMAZ is known for winds, and they didn’t disappoint this year. Jeff just kept telling himself that the winds weren’t as bad as his prior IMAZ. On the bike, he stayed focused on steady power output even during the tailwind sections.
On the run, Jeff has learned that it is better to slow down some than to completely blow up. He works to reel people in and stay focused and motivated. And he never forgets the power of the glow sticks!
Most importantly, Jeff knows the power of mental strength during training and especially during racing. He notes: “The only thing I can control on race day is my attitude. Which goes to my second, to race my race. If someone passes me, I just tell myself that they are on their race plan, and I hope to pass them later.”
Support to bring it all together
Jeff believes that having a coach helps when his schedule goes awry; he’s able to get back on track safely when he’s missed key workouts. For him, a coach is another set of eyes looking at his training. Coach Lesley closely monitors his progress and can see – quickly – if something needs to be changed.
There is a saying with lawyers, “A lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client.” Same goes with self-coached athletes, Jeff believes.
We may be biased, but we agree completely!
And of course, Jeff gives a huge shout out to his wife, Shannon!
“She puts up with me not always getting my honey-do list done. But, I get to keep doing Ironman as long as there is a fun destination involved. And to my kids, I hope I can inspire them to be able to do anything they put their mind to.”
Congrats, Jeff! We are so inspired by your journey to success!