One of the most gratifying things I do in my life is coach other cyclists. Helping them realize their dreams fills me up with pride, a sense of accomplishment for them and for me and completes me as part of the human race.
What follows is a testimonial from an athlete I coached in preparation for the Vineman half-ironman. Her email gave me chills…
I’ve known George for years but this last year I engaged him to coach me for the Vineman ½ Ironman distance triathlon. We started working together in January when I flew out to California to pick up my new bike, wheels with a power tap and to do some field tests to establish baseline power data and benchmarks for workouts. George was patient in the beginning as I asked tons of questions about understanding the power data, what it meant and why I should care. This was the first time I had ever worked with power data. Actually, I rarely even rode with a computer or a heart rate monitor in the past. I was all about “having fun!” We had a rough start to the training. Training in Colorado outside in the winter just doesn’t happen, so the beginning of my training rides were inside, on the trainer: mentally challenging but effective. And frankly, I can’t say that once I started riding outside in the spring it got any less mentally challenging. This was one of the worst springs in Colorado. I had so many freezing cold rides where I pretty much crawled down the road that I thought it was never going to get better. Those early rides were just a creating a foundation for the “real thing”. In April, I had a 17 mile Time Trial. I’ll never forget the call with George saying not so gently that I spent 85% of my ride at a cadence between 60 and 80. Not good at all! After he chewed me out about that…the good news, I had strong power data: a 10% improvement over my last test. Keep up the good work!! I was a horrible spinner and I knew that already , I just wasn’t expecting George to be so relentless. “How are you going to ride fast if you can’t pedal fast?” is what he would say to me and over and over again. So, I had tons of drills both on and off the trainer to improve my spinning skills. It was not easy for me and a topic of many conversations but I did get better. Besides my cadence, George was all over me about my weight. Once I got over my emotional baggage about it and understood that it wasn’t personal the weight came off – slowly for sure. George was always presenting the weight issue from a technical perspective – watts per kilo and how good it would be to lose weight and improve power! In the end, I dropped just over 10 pounds. People were noticing how good I looked. All my friends knew I was working with “George” a nd they got used to me going on about what I called the George Factor. The daily emails about my food,weight, HR, my uploaded power data, my workouts, how the ride went, our discussions over cadence, my monthly tests, the weekly conference in calls, etc. Slowly, there were small victories…the weight loss, the solid rides, and the monthly improvements in my field tests. The real proof came one day riding with some friends up Carter Lake. I would have normally been last up the hill…and by minutes…but this time I was third and feeling strong. A call to George at the top was the highlight of the ride!! The training was working! It wasn’t always easy juggling the cycling workouts alongside a crazy work schedule and the other activities I was participating in, especially the Crossfit workouts that I was doing. With Crossfit, there is a lot of aerobic strength training with “heavy” weights and George was worried that I was going to bulk up…or rather that I wasn’t going to slim down. It’s all about the watts per kilo he would tell me over and over again. Watts per kilo! Watts per kilo! And just in case I forgot. Watts per kilo! Less weight on the bike will make you faster. Again, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t personal…it was all about the bike! Additionally, George isn’t a fan of “junk” miles and believes that rest is more important than trying to make up missed workouts. He learned that I like to quilt and when he sensed anxiousness over missing workouts in my voice or emails he would say, “Do I need to schedule in time for you to quilt?” In other words, just chill girl! Everything will be just fine. That’s when I understood that he always wanted the best for me. A few weeks before my race, I had a practice day of an hour swim, a 33 mile bike and an hour run! I sent my report to George and we both agreed, “I was ready”. Before the race (Vineman) we talked about my power and time goals. My power goal was 200 watts with a time of 3 hrs30min. George said I should target 3hrs15min so 3hrs15min it was! I didn’t have the pre-race jitters like I normally do. I hadn’t really trained on the swim or the run so I was just going to go for it on the bike. I had one of my best swims ever and onto the bike I went! I previewed the course before hand and knew it to be very rolly with a couple of hills, lots of twists and turns and very bumpy roads. All I could hear in my head was George saying to me, “If I felt the bumps in the road, I wasn’t racing hard enough!” Okay, George, I never felt the bumps so I guess I was racing fast enough! When I was about 14 miles from finishing, I looked at the watch, did some calculations and thought…geez if I push a little harder I just might make that 3hrs15min goal. In the end, I completed the bike in 3hrs 21min! I felt strong throughout the entire ride and I even passed other riders on the hills! That’s never happened before. I had a kick ass GREAT bike ride for me. I was super excited and smiling in transition. Now onto the run. Certainly not my strength. Actually, I pretty much suck at running so I simply headed out with smile on my face saying it will be what it will be. I negative split the run which is unheard for me. I had one of my best runs ever which I attribute to being so solid on the bike. Overall, I had a super solid, awesome race. One of my best races in years! I uploaded my data to George later that day. My average power: 197 (great job) and my cadence was over 85 (great job). He was proud of my effort…and so was I! For me this year, it was all about the bike and it paid off with a great race! George was a good mix of compassion and hard ass for which I am truly thankful. He is extremely technical/knowledgeable about reading and understanding power data. He took a personal interest in my success unlike previous triathlon specific coaches I have had and I felt accountable and wanted to get better. I would certainly recommend George as a bike coach for anybody that wants to improve. I am doing an Ironman next year. I think I’m going ] to start mentally preparing myself for the “George Factor”. Thanks for everything George. Lida
Wow, what an awesome write up and kudo’s to you Coach George! Major feather in your cap. Shows what good training and good coaching can do.
Damn, didn’t know you coached in addition to your long list of accomplishments. Impressive George! Great testimonial, good stuff!