Foto Finish Friday – Dr.Dan from First time Triahtlete to Ironman in a month

Welcome to (a special follow up)  Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.

This week’s Foto is from Dan Engström:

Dr Dan IM Finish

 Photo by Andy Kenyon


IronMan UK
Here are a few collected thoughts from a Hero Hour finisher in my first Ironman triathlon: IronMan UK 2015 in Bolton, England. Hero Hour? The hour for the sixteen hours plus finishers. The slower ones. Me. First of all, let’s get one thing straight. It was brutal. You prepare as well as you can, even to the point of being more than decently fit before I even entered, in August. In preparation, I ran a marathon, biked a 300 km race, swam a 3 km open water race and did  an Olympic triathlon. I had also prepared well mentally. The fact is, I needed every last bit of mental strength to bring out the power needed to keep moving. The swim was easy for me, which was a bit of a surprise. The rolling swim start was a great thing that probably helped. But the bike leg sapped energy by the minute from the legs, because of the hills (expected), a very mean wind (not expected to be THAT bad) and the appaling condition of the tarmac (certainly not expected). It felt as though I was biking uphill on a cattle grill for 112 miles. But somehow you had find the energy to keep moving.
Keep moving. That was the mantra of the amazing volunteers and people of Bolton. Keep moving Dan! Well done, Dan, you’re doing great! If IMUK was brutal it was equally spectacular. The commitment from everyone around the race was truly amazing and a memory for life. I found a familiarity about doing the IronMan in Bolton that I certainly did not expect. The IronMan community and the people of Bolton come together and really made the effort to get there worthwhile. A steady slow trot, uncomfortable but not painful, and some walking, up and down between historic Bolton and a crescent about 4.5 km away and suddenly, there was the finish line. I arrived with almost an hour to spare to the deadline and the energy to savour the moment.
If you decide to do the IronMan UK in Bolton, make sure you know how to fix a puncture. Expect a hilly bike leg that is challenging but with easier winds not too bad. You’ll climb Sheephouse Lane easily if you’ve trained. Prepare for plenty of logistics time with the two transition zones being 10 miles apart and bring a car. Embrace the hurt – it will get very uncomfortable but you WILL be able to make it to the finish line. Everybody else is just as tired as you are, and even at eleven at night, there will be people cheering for you at the finish. Find strength in all people shouting your name and just keep moving. Then enjoy those magic words at the red carpet declaring that you are an IronMan!
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Photo by Jim Pike
Dan you are a beast! Hold on to that feeling of accomplishment from an Ironman finish, its like nothing else. You progress is fantastic, and shows the rest of us that anything is possible with the right mindset.
Cheers to you, Dan!!!
Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to

Help me to help you become a better Triathlete (for free)

Are you a new or beginner triathlete looking to improve? Have you decided to use triathlon to improve your lifestyle and overall happiness? I want to be your coach. Even better than that, I want to be your coach for free.

First Time Triahlete Beach 2 Battleship

I started this, a couple of years ago to help new triathletes just getting into the sport. There were tons of sites dedicated to helping intermediate and elite triathletes, but a shortage info for brand new athletes. Even the sites originally designed to help new triathletes had become too advanced. Triathlon is already an intimidating sport with three separate disciplines, and the multitude of the gear required. My goal is to make triathlon simple and approachable, so more athletes will finish their first race, and hopefully continue their triathlon journey.

The elation of crossing the finish of a new challenge, which you were not sure your could complete, is awesome. In that moment all of the hard work, and struggle pay off in a crescendo of joy. The race doesn’t begin at the start line. It begins when you decide you are committed to the race and start training. I want to help coach you through your own journey and finish. Check out the Fantastic Finish Foto Friday Page for stories of others finishing their first race and what it meant to them.

About me:

I’ve been training for and racing triathlons for the past 6 years. Before triathlon, I was a Cat 3 road cyclist, and raced bikes for 10 years. I’ve raced  in 2 Ironmans (training for a third), marathons, and ultra marathons. I’m not the fastest guy out there, but endurance sports are my passion, and I am a student of the sport. Most importantly, I give a shit. The success of the people I coach is my very important to me. It gets me pumped to see people finish something they thought was impossible.

The deal: (Did someone say free?)

This winter I plan to get my USAT coaching license. In order to get in to the program I need more coaching experience on my resume. Crazy right? In order to become a coach you need to be already be a coach. So in the spirit of the win-win, I offer my highly valuable coaching services for the low, low price of free to gain the experience. Also, I really want to new athletes improve and give back to the sport I love.

Here’s what I am looking for in a potential new client. You don’t have to meet all of these requirements, but this is a good guideline.

  1. New to triathlon, or beginner triathlete looking to improve.
  2. Looking to improve overall lifestyle through triathlon.
  3. Not overly competitive. Racing against your own goals.
  4. Have a race coming up in the next 8-15 weeks.

I looking to take on 4-5 new athletes in the next couple of months. Here’s what you will receive from me:

  • Initial assessment of your current triathlon fitness
  • Custom training plan developed for your next race
  • Weekly email/phone progress consults
  • Workout tracking/accountability
  • Encouragement

If you are interested and looking to improve, please email me at Don’t be shy, if you read this far, you’re most likely interested, shoot me an email. If you know someone else, that may be interested, please pass it on.

Be Well,


Workout Wednesday – Bike Power Hills

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

A couple weeks ago,  I was racing on the hilly but fun bike course. The sun was out, and t was beautiful morning. My legs were feeling good and pumping out the watts. Two more miles to go to the turn around, I am  crushing it. The hills on the course aren’t so bad. Then right before the turn around, I came up on a pavement wall. Suddenly, I staring up a .25 mile climb at 15%. I switch the the small chain ring, and grind my way up the hill. By the top of the hill, my heart rate was around 1000bpm, and my legs were Jello. Luckily, we turned around and came right back down the hill, so I had time to recover and then crush the rest of the course. (Also, I hit 46 mph on the downhill, waahooo!)

That hill exposed  a weakness in my recent cycling training. I’m lacking in hill power. Power hills are short intense efforts that keep your speed up on a hilly course. Power hills differ from long sustained hills, as they require pure leg strength. Increasing that leg strength requires short intense efforts with adequate rest. Think of it as doing squats on your bike. Working on power hills is also a win-win, as it will make you stronger on the flats.

Now let’s get to work:

Power Hills:

Warm up

  • 5 Minutes easy spin
  • 5 X  @70 Effort 1 min/1 min rest

Main Set

  • 5 X standing 1 min/1 min rest – of each min rep 1st 30 secs @70%/ 2nd 30 secs @85% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 3 X standing 2 min/ 1 min rest – of each 2 min rep 1st min @60%/ 2nd min @80% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 6 X standing 30 secs/ 1 min rest @85%

Cool Down

  • 10 min easy spin

This workout is best done on a trainer or stationary bike. Set the resistance heavy enough to make it challenging, but still be able to maintain a cadence above 60 rpm. Build into each rep, and focus on finishing strong. This workout is great for flatlanders is best done every couple of weeks. Work it into your program and you will be powering up the hills like a freight train.

My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Final Cover- The Ultra Mindset

I heard an interview with Travis Macy on Ultra Runner Podcast (one of my favorite long run podcasts) about two months ago. He was speaking about the crazy endurance races he has competed in all over the world. He has competed on everything from snowshoe racing up mountains to multi-day adventure racing trough the desert.

The story that struck me most was about Travis’ Dad, an accomplished endurance athlete himself, first attempt at the Leadman 100. His dad went into the race under trained, without proper gear or nutrition, and willed himself to the finish. He may have finished a hobbled version of himself, but he finished what he started. As a father this had a tremendous affect on me as I’m sure it did to young Travis. We can tell our kids how to live, but showing them by leading by example speaks much louder.

Overall, I enjoyed the book tremendously. If you are an endurance athlete you will take something away from this book. The principles set forth in the book can be applied to racing or everyday life. When you apply the principles  contrast them against the stress and intensity of of Travis’ adventures it gives you a whole new perspective. The stories of the extreme races Travis has completed have given me a new perspective on what’s possible. This book will make you want to seek out new adventures and challenges

Continue reading My First Tri with Travis Macy, Author of The Ultra Mindset

Meeting the Iron Cowboy

Last night I had the honor of running with the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence on his #25 IM in as many days in Williamsburg, VA. If you haven’t heard for James’ crazy challenge, he is doing 50 Ironmans, in 50 states, and 50 days. Pull your jaw off the floor, that is some crazy shit. That’s 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run everyday, and then driving to the next state to start again. It’s like a painful version of Groundhog Day played out in a different place every day.

Here’s a quick video explaining James’ mission:

My threshold for crazy endurance feats is pretty high, but this is on the edge of what I think is possible. I first heard about James’ story on the Rich Roll podcast. My brain was swimming thinking about the difficulty of the challenge.  I immediately started following him on social media, and fired off an email. If James makes it to Virginia I’m coming to run with him. This is a once in a life time opportunity to see someone doing something unheard of.

After following James’ journey for the past few weeks, the day had finally come to go and run with the Iron Cowboy. At each of his events, they have a 5k portion of the day where people can meet up with James to run. We met at Jamestowne High School at 7pm to shove off for the 5k. There were about 50 people there to run. I brought my family so they could check it out. I’m not sure if my girls understand the significance of what was going on, but I want them to be around this type of positive and healthy energy.

The Iron Cowboy showed up about 10 mins before 7pm having already completed the swim, bike, and 4 miles of the run. He gave a quick speech about his challenge, and partnership with a charity fighting childhood obesity. He introduced his family of five kids, for whom this whole journey is dedicated. Not only is he taking on this massive challenge, but this is a huge family vacation. While dad is out pounding the pavement, the kids are hanging out and going to see the local sites. This is the most awesome and difficult family vacation, I have ever heard of.

Everyone gathered for a group photo, and we were off for the 5k run. It was a very leisurely run, so people could chat with James and get some selfies. When we first started, I mentioned to the guy next to me this feels like the scene in Forest Gump. The scene where he just keeps running, and people start following. Thankfully he didn’t just stop like in the movie.

After the 5k, I went and ran some more miles with James and a small group. I got to chat with him for a while, and I kept my questions short. His answers were short, as I am sure he is exhausted from the effort and sleep deprivation. I was taken by his focus. We weren’t moving quickly, but he was steady, and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. In all I ran about 10 miles, and my family was ready to go. I wish I could have stayed until the end. I was filled with so much positive energy, I could have run all night.

It was a great experience, and one I will remember for a long time. I met some wonderful people during the run. Everyone was super positive and supportive. The most interesting guy I met was a Russian Physicist from Richmond.  He was a competitive swimmer, and now he is getting into running and triathlons. Many people drove 2-3 hours just to come and run with James. That is the power of a really big goal.

I have to say I am truly inspired by James’ challenge. I hope he stays healthy and finishes. I have some ideas for challenges of my own, and its time to get them rolling. The bar has been set very high now for what is possible. Just like James’, I’m trying to stay active and make my kids proud.

If the Iron Cowboy is coming to your state, go and run with him. He will appreciate the support, and you will have a chance to witness greatness.