Ironman Champion...Inventor...Business Owner

TJ Tollakson is the Swiss Army Knife of People...A true Renaissance Man. He is an Ironman Champion, Mad Scientist Inventor, and Owner of Rüster Sports and Dimond Bikes.
Tollakson.com
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Making a Comeback!


Incision Scar 3 weeks post-op
Knee Comparison 3 weeks post-op
After a successful fabella removal surgery on June 28, 2016, I began the long process of rehab. I spent a couple of weeks on crutches, then gradually had to teach myself to walk again then eventually run. The goal was to be aggressive with rehab but make sure I didn't have any setbacks. I decided my first race back would be the Des Moines Triathlon (Olympic Distance) on September 4. My total run volume before the race was less than 30 miles but I had a goal to race at 6:20 per mile pace for the 10k run and I did just that. It was not an impressive race, but I did have the fastest swim and bike. The aerobic engine was strong but the peripheral system was not quite ready to support fast running. I finished 6th, just one spot out of the prize money, but damn it felt good to be back racing.
Swim File:http://tpks.ws/tlQ5Z
Bike File: http://tpks.ws/faIoT
Run File: http://tpks.ws/yZ2fZ



I did a photo shoot with TYR in Long Island on Friday September 16 then stayed on the island to race the Mightly Hamptons Triathlon (Olympic Distance) on Sunday the 18th. This was only two weeks after Des Moines, but my run was progressing well and I had the goal of running sub 6 min miles. I was very close to my goal, but fell just bit short with a 6:02 average. I won the race and it always feels good to win, but this was just another step in the right direction. I came home from the race and Ashley and I welcomed the birth of our third child and second baby girl, Frankie Mae Tollakson on September 20. Ashley has been a total saint and allowed me to keep training and sleeping through the whole process.
Swim File:http://tpks.ws/UIXYk 
Bike File: http://tpks.ws/dsms1
Run File:  http://tpks.ws/SmshF

The training kept progressing and the next race on the schedule was Austin 70.3 on October 30. I never built up my run volume to my preferred race volume, but I did have 160 miles over a 4 week block. I would normally prefer to be over 200 miles in a 4 week block before a 70.3 and a little more before an Ironman. All things considered. I was healthy and ready to race.

Austin, Texas was unusually warm and humid for October and there was a dense fog on race morning. The worst of the fog was on the lake and the buoys were not even visible. The swim was delayed then eventually cancelled. The race moved to a time trial start with one pro starting every 30 seconds. I was number 10 and started 4:00 back of the first athlete. Matt Hanson was :60 in front of me and Chris Lieferman was :30 in front of me. I caught Matt Hanson about 11 miles into the ride then caught Chris Lieferman about 30 miles into the ride. Chris was able to stay with me for the remainder of the ride and we eventually picked up Joe Gambles as well. I was impressed with Chris's riding. I was misdirected by a volunteer right before T2, and so I came in just behind Chris and Joe, but we were all close. I made a small error in not wearing socks on the bike (for the duathlon) so my T2 was a bit slow. I was pacing the run with my HR just like coach Jesse prescribed. I was in the virtual lead of the race for a few miles but Chris Lieferman was gradually pulling away from me, and Michael Raelert was starting to catch me. I kept to the plan and kept my HR low until the last lap of the run and then let it loose. I had a negative split run and ended up posting a run 1 sec faster than Michael Raelert. Chris proved to be too fast for me and easily won the race. Matt Hanson was fast on my heels and posted the only sub 1:15 run with a smokin' 1;11. I was happy to place 2nd on the day, and finally win some prize money. The cancelled swim actually hurt me on the day. as the swim is typically a strength. This was yet again, just another step in the right direction for the season goal of Ironman Arizona.
Bike File: http://tpks.ws/KhNLB
Run File: http://tpks.ws/wINel

There were only 3 weeks between Austin and Arizona and I did this exact same double in 2012. This time however, I was totally smashed after Austin 70.3. It took me way longer to recover then I caught a cold from kids 10 days before the race. I thought I was going to be totally unaffected but it turned into a nasty chest cough the day before the race. My only major concerns going into the race revolved around my lack of run volume. I've raced plenty of Ironmans in my life so this was nothing new, but this was definitely my lowest run volume going into an Ironman. My longest run was 16 miles and I had one day were I did a 9 mile run in the morning and an 8 mile run in the afternoon for a total of 17 miles. Despite not having the run volume my race specific intensities were going well so I was happy with the quality of my running.

The swim was probably the warmest in Ironman Arizona (November) history. It was still wetsuit legal but upper 60's felt great. I started all the way on the left side of the swim and took it out hard and had clear water. After about 5 min solo, I noticed a large group to my left and merged with them. I sat in the group for a while until I noticed there was at least 1 swimmer off the front. I went to the front of the group and tried to close the gap but it was too much. I actually felt pretty terrible at this point in the swim, and slowed my pace considerably trying to let someone else do the work. Nobody came around (until Philip Graeves just before the finish). I led most of the front pack out of the water only because I wanted to minimize time to the swimmers in front. My chest cough was rough getting out of the water as it hurt to take a deep breath, but I was more focused on quick shallow breathing.

Once on my bike, I quickly went to the front of the race. Cameron Wurf passed me quickly but then I spent most of the ride in second place. I had two guys riding behind me for most of the ride until they fell off the pace at the start of the third lap when Lionel Sanders passed me for second place. My power on the bike was low, I was struggling to hold power that is normally quite easy for me. I focused instead on being efficient, using my watts to my advantage and staying as aerodynamic as possible. I had my lowest power ever at Ironman Arizona with an AP of 257 watts and an NP of 262 watts. I also had my fastest time with a 4:11 bike split. Link to my Training Peaks File here: http://tpks.ws/snJ1t This should tell you something about the conditions on the day. I was very happy to get off the bike and start running. I kept my run HR and pace very controlled. I quickly passed Cameron Wurf to put myself in 2nd place behind Lionel Sanders. It was only a few miles later that Brent McMahon passed me and I was back in third. My nutrition was totally dialed. I took one Glukos gummy every mile along with on course electrolyte drink. I did have to make a porta-potty stop about mile 10, at the TriSports aid station under the bridge. It was great to have Seton Claggett (CEO of TriSports) timing my potty break and shouting words of encouragement as I emptied my bowels. After the relief, I didn't have any cramping and felt well fueled for the marathon. . I was however starting to struggle to hold my pace and HR right about 13-14 miles into the run. My pace gradually slowed as I struggled to keep my HR reasonably high. I was soon in survival mode to get to the finish line...one mile at a time. I was close to breaking the 8 hour mark, but my pace at the end of the marathon was just a little too slow.

Bike File: http://tpks.ws/snJ1t
Run File:http://tpks.ws/7bdqy 

I was nowhere near Lionel Sanders who went on to break an Ironman World Record and Brent McMahon who finished in 7:50. I crossed the line in third with an 8:02:30 for my fastest time of my career. I was a couple of minutes up on 4th, but very happy to cross the finish line on the podium at an Ironman. This is my 5th time racing Ironman Arizona and I have 5 podium finishes, 3x3rd place finishes and 2x 2nd place finishes. Each year I have posted a faster time and I am still yet to win the race. I am at least making strides in the right direction. This was a great finish to 2016 and a great way to commence 2017. I am sitting in a solid spot with Ironman Kona Qualifying Rankings and look forward to taking a journey back to the Big Island in 2017 (after some more solid racing in 2017). I am super thankful to be healthy and back racing. Cheers to family, health, and passionately pursuing what you love.

Work hard,

TJ

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