The voice of experience…

When I signed up for IMAZ I had visions of hitting a PR and continuing on my long term plans to get to Kona.  During the early part of the season I was hitting my workouts, staying healthy and having fun, all good signs to having a great race.

In April, I was presented with an opportunity to join a fast-growing start-up company. Somehow, I rationalized that taking the job shouldn’t impact my training too much, and I could make some adjustments as needed.  Then the 60-70hr work weeks and heavy travel schedule started, and my workout log began to get filled with zeros.

After a couple of months of craziness, I sat down and thought through all the reasons that I wanted to race IMAZ, and tried to prioritize them.  I knew that the PR unlikely and that my work schedule would continue to get in the way of training.  I wasn’t even sure I could train enough to finish.  But I never wanted to bail out on the race.  What I hadn’t told many people was that I had originally signed up for the race to honor my stepbrother Hollis, who committed suicide in March 2013.  Hollis was always excited to hear about my racing, and I had promised him I’d race IMAZ and he could come see the event.  However, he was never able to see me race.  But I still wanted to keep my promise.

Family H-Man

So I spoke with Coach Debi and explained my work situation and she adjusted the plan and kept me on task as well as she could.

As many of you know, 4 weeks from race weekend, I had a bike accident where I injured my right leg, and kept me off the bike and off running for about two weeks.  So come race week, I knew I was going into Tempe woefully under-trained (less than 200 hrs since Jan 1), but ‘over rested’.  My one last hope was that I could draw on my experience racing the distance six times prior to IMAZ.

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Thursday of race week, Ultimate IronSherpa Fran and I flew out to Tempe, having shipped the bike via TriBike Transport.  Our travels were uneventful and we arrived in Tempe ready and determined to have fun.  My stepmother (Hollis’ mom) and her husband were going to join us for the circus that is Ironman, and Jason & Powerbar came through with VIP passes for the four of us.  Friday I picked up the bike, and reassembled it only to find that I could not get the Garmin Vector power meters to register on either my Garmin 810 or 910xt.  So I wouldn’t be able to race using power readings, just my HR and experience.

Friday night we attended the VIP viewing of the Ironman World Championship DVD at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts.   It was a small affair with drinks and nibbles, then the video viewing.  As usual, the video was awesome and inspirational.  Watching Rinny Carfrae come back from a 14min deficit was just the sort of visualization I needed for my race.  If she could WIN by running on guts and experience, then I could finish using the same formula. And have fun doing it.

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Saturday meant early bike check in, transition bag drop off, then back to the room for calm, quiet reflection, reading, TV watching and mental preparation.  Fran knows that I’m not a lot of fun the day before a big race, since I’m not much for conversation during this time.  So she went out to dinner with my family and I hung out.  I actually enjoy the quiet time before race day, and Saturday was no different.  I get to visualize my race day, make my final strategy plans, go over the course on paper and in my head, think about where I’m going to see my family and friends, and make last minute adjustments to special needs bags.  But mostly I reflect on the reasons I want to put myself through the ordeal.  I think the most important point for me this year, was that I had external motivation to race.  I wanted to honor Hollis, and I wanted to make my family proud by doing so.

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Race morning started early, getting my nutrition down, personal needs dealt with and then off to transition.  Our hotel was only 1/2 mile from the transition area, and because of the layout, there weren’t a lot of crowds to deal with.  IMAZ is run really well, and has the best spectator layout and athlete flow that I’ve experienced.  I quickly dropped off special needs bags, got my bike set up then Fran & I camped out in the VIP tent near the swim finish unti it was time to race.  Having the VIP passes meant that I could sit in a relatively quiet and uncrowded place, have a cup of coffee and (most important) a clean bathroom without a line!

The pro men went off at 6:45 and the pro women 5 min later.  The swim is in Tempe Town ‘Lake’ which is really a dammed up stretch of the Salt River.  If you picture a cement drainage ditch, about 75 yards wide, you have a good image of the venue.  The swim is one lap, upstream on the way out, and downstream coming back, with no current to speak of.  Because the lake level was down, they could not use the normal starting point, so we all climbed down the swim exit steps, jumped in the water and swam 300 yds or so up to the start line just upstream of the Mill St. bridge.  IMAZ is a deep-water mass start, with athletes spread about 1/2 way across the width of the river.  I wanted to stay out of the scrum as much as possible early in the swim, so I put myself right against the wall of the riverbank.  When the gun went off I started swimming and just kept my effort hard for 400 yards, then backed off a bit into steady effort.  I found that if only took breath on my right, I could easily see spectators sitting on the wall, and a lot of them were waving at me.  That was pretty cool, and I waved back at a couple of small kids, making them laugh.  What I failed to remember was that the river curves to the right on the upstream leg, but the course goes straight up the river.  When I finally looked over to my left, I was WAY off the main line of the swim, and had to swim pretty hard to get back nearer to the buoy line.  If you look at my GPS plot, you can see where I started to go back, got into the scrum, swam away from the scrum for a bit, then eased back into the main line.  At the turn around, I was right back into the thick of the swimmers and got kicked in the face for my troubles, I managed to round both corners then again stayed to the far right, out of most of the traffic.  I was continually passing swimmers the whole route, but I wasn’t expending a lot more effort, which felt really good.  As we approached the Mill St. bridge, I checked my watch and saw I was at 1:01.  My race plan had me getting out of the water no later than 1:10, so when I popped up the ladder in 1:07, I was right on schedule.

Transition was a bit of a long run and a bit chaotic since transition bags are placed on the ground in long rows.  The volunteers were scrambling to get bags and it took a little time for me to locate mine, as they were MOVED since we checked them in the night before.  I got my bag, got into the  tent, took some time to clean all the dead grass and mud off my feet, get slathered in sun screen, then off to get my bike.

Once out on the course, it was immediately clear that we would be in for a challenging day.  I watched at least three barricades or signs blow over from the strong, gusty winds.  As we made our zig-zag way out of town onto the Beeline highway, I knew that we would have a strong headwind on the outbound leg and thus have a strong tailwind on the way home.  The bike course is three out-and-back loops, with a long, gradual 5+ mile climb to the turn around on Beeline.  To give you a sense of the winds, my first 1/2 of the first loop was completed in 1:07 (about 18 miles).  I finished the return trip in 43 minutes.  The most challenging part of the ride back was the gusty winds grabbing my deep section front wheel.  A couple of times the wind almost tore the bars out of my hands.  Scary stuff at close to 40mph.

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On the return leg of loop one I told myself to remain patient, that the straight and relatively flat course was the type of terrain I like, and I that my bike really excelled in the wind.  Loops two and three were windier, with stronger steady winds, but less gusty.  The tough conditions were mentally taxing more than physically exhausting.  I had to keep focused on my HR, and less on the speedometer reading 9 mph.  At the turn around on loop three, I got off the bike to use the bathroom and eat one of the bars I brought with me.  The wind had completely dried the bar out so that it was hard as a rock and un-chewable.  That got a laugh out of the volunteer holding my bike.  I pressed a bit harder on the last return trip, and tried to get out of the saddle to stretch, but hamstrings and quads were starting to cramp a bit, so I knew from experience that I was at my limit.  I just kept steady effort to get home safely.  My plans were to finish the bike 6:15-6:30 and I came in at 6:12.  Perfect!

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T2 was pretty quick and I was off on the run.  IMAZ run is a two-loop route with long out-and-back stretches, almost all of it on hard concrete.  There is a stretch of about 2 miles on a crushed stone path.  I had run most of the course when I was in Tempe on a buisness trip in Sept, but I didn’t have the whole route and I managed to miss the one “hill” that is on the backside of the return leg around mile 9-10 and 20-21.  I clicked off the miles, walking all the aid stations end-to-end and just kept moving.

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I was getting passed by a lot of people, but I wasn’t concerned as I knew that steady effort would get me to the finish, and any speed spent now would come back to haunt me later.  At the special needs I pulled out my jacket as the temps were dropping as it got dark. About mile 14 or 15 I met up with a gentleman in my age group going at about my pace, and we got to talking about the race.  This was his 2nd IM and 2nd at Arizona.  He was from Phoenix, and his team mates were running one of the aid stations.  We decided to keep running together and to keep pushing each other along.  That made a HUGE difference in both our races. When one person needed a walk break, the other wouldn’t let it go on too long before saying “OK, lets get back to work” or “let’s get this $%@&? thing done”…  The hard miles between 18 and 23 came and went, and once we made the turn on the Priest St. bridge, we could hear Mike Riley calling out finishers, and we could see the top of the US Air building which marked the finish line. Frank & I picked up the pace just a bit and ran it in to the end.  12:54.

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Of all my Ironman races, this one is my most memorable.  Not for the overall performance, nor for any specific segment.  I was happy to have done the race well, smiling all the way, having a great time, honoring Hollis and my family.  I was able to draw from my prior race experience to manage my effort, deal with race-moment situations and still come out as a finisher.

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Iroman Recovery and packing the schedule…

A friend who raced Mont Tremblant with me is going through the “post-IM blues”.  It’s a pretty common problem for athletes completing an Ironman race.  I went through it on my first couple of IM races.  Since then I’ve learned how to deal with the inevitable emotional let down:

  1. Smile – enjoy the fact that you got through the training and racing, and can look back on your successes
  2. Reconnect – your friends and family have paid a price for your training.  Long days out on rides/runs, skipping gathering of friends and family to fit in training all take their toll on your relationships.  Schedule time with those you love to just be with them, doing their favorite things.
  3. Do something different – I keep a list of all the things I wanted to do, but skipped because I was training.  My list includes “occasional big bowls of ice cream” and “power wash front of house” and “repair gutters” and “finish the David Baldacci novel”.
  4. Make some new athletic plans – these don’t have to be as big as an Ironman, but you don’t want to lose all that hard earned fitness.  Sign up for some smaller local races.  I’m signed up for an Olympic triathlon in September, and NY Marathon in November.
  5. Try something completely new – A friend talked me into joining him and some other friends on a Presidential Traverse in October.  While I know I have the fitness to cover the distance, the technical nature of the hike, combined with a very late season start puts this way outside my comfort zone.  But then again, that’s where life begins…

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2013 Race Report

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

Summary:

Swim:  1:03:42  12 AG, 222 OA

Bike:    6:49:41, 107 AG/1261 OA

Run:    5:14:14, 108 AG/1308 OA

T1:  7:45

T2:  4:10

Overall:  13:19:32

I felt good going into this race.  Training went ok, taper went ok and I felt ready to toe the line.  I was excited to race with my Team NRGY teammates and to also meet up with other tri-friends at the venue.

Mont Tremblant is a great venue for Ironman racing.  There is a wonderful clear lake, roads as smooth as glass, a great rail-trail for the run, and amazing volunteer and crowd support, all wrapped up in a convenient and fun ski village.  I’ll definitely go back to do this race again.

We drove up on Thursday, and went through registration on Friday morning.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the village, and taking a gondola ride up to the top of Mont Tremblant. That’s a highly recommended trip as the views from the top are just stunning.

Saturday I got my bags and bike ready, and checked everything into transition.  As with most WTC events there are volunteers to help every step of the way and check in couldn’t have been smoother.

Race morning started at 3:30am, with the usual food, dressing and other necessities.  I’ve done this enough times that I don’t get too wound up about the whole morning-routine.  I try to keep smiling and think back to all the work that I put in to get ready for race day.  About a month ago I decided that I wanted to dedicate this race to all the family, friends, co-workers that support me in this event.  I never, ever want to take that for granted because without that enormous support, I wouldn’t be able to get to the start line, much less finish.  So all morning I reflected back on some special moments with friends and family during other races, training or just talking about the sport.  It never failed to bring a smile to my face, and calmed my nerves

We only had a short walk to transition, so we decided to head down at 5:30am.  That made for a crowded transition area, but since we had already dropped off bags & bike the night before.  I got to my bike to load it up and discovered that my rear disc tire was flat.  Not good.  It was fine the day before.  I pumped it up but it immediately started leaking air.  Seems that the valve was broken.

So I go into problem solving mode.  I can either (1) change the tire out with my spare, and try to ride on a less-than-solid glued tire for 112 miles (2) have one of the local mechanics make the switch and rely on someone else’s tubular changing skills, or (3) swap out with my training wheel.  I opted for number #3.  I was just not comfortable riding on a sub-standard glue job on my disc, racing in my “A” race on an unknown course.  Fran & I ran back to the hotel, got the training wheel and tools to swap cassettes.  Took the cassette off the training wheel in the garage, grabbed the spare wheel from the room and ran back down to transition.  I managed to swap the cassette., mount the tire and get out of transition with about 3 minutes before transition closed.  Needless to say, this made for a pretty good workout and I was a bit sweaty at the end of it all.

As a result of the fiasco, I got a bit out of my race plan.  I forgot to put my Garmin 800 on my bike, and I forgot to grab a gel out my morning clothes bag for the swim.

I handed the disc wheel & tire pump to Fran who got stuck with them both for a good part of the morning.  I headed off to get in my wetsuit and try to get wet before my wave went off.  I missed the Canadian national anthem, and the 1st flyover from the air force jets.  But I was able to get suited up and over to the beach area where I could get wet with a VERY short warm up swim.

I was in wave 5 of 7, so I slowly made my way up to the front of my wave and when we lined up for the swim, I seeded myself far to the left of the buoys.  I was still a bit nervous about the start after my big fail at IMLP last year, so I figured I’d have a better chance at getting clear water early.

As each wave went off, they fired a cannon and a couple of big fireworks.  That was pretty cool!  Each wave started “ankle deep” in the water and proceeded to run into the water.  I got clear water within 25 yard (score!) and spent the next hour cruising along in my favorite part of the race.  (Don’t hate the player, hate the game)  I never felt panicked, was able to sight really well and the Huub wetsuit was da bomb for swimming.

I thought I had scoped out the swim exit to T1 route, but I got it wrong.  It was a full ½ mile run to the changing tents.  It just went on and on and on (like this report)  At least the run was carpeted.

I had pre-ridden a bit of the course on Friday, so I knew the first few miles out of transition and past special needs.  The roads were very well marked, smooth as glass and closed to traffic.  Once out of the ski village area, the course is on the local highway.  I knew that my HR was running a bit high, but I just couldn’t keep pushing the pace.  Since this was a highway, the elevation changes were long, but gradual.  It is also completely exposed to the weather, (which was GREAT).  The course goes a long way out, turns around and comes back toward the ski village.  It give you a chance to see all the other races.  The course goes just past the road to the ski area, and goes into the village of Mont Tremblant.  This is a narrow two lane road lined with shops, businesses and restaurants and was packed with cheering spectators.  Even the local heavy equipment company had a couple of cherry pickers making a bit arch across the road for the cyclists.  Once back in the ski area, the route takes you into some more challenging terrain.  This is when I knew I had overcooked the 1st loop of the bike course and would have to adjust.  This part of the course is much more technical, with several short, sharp climbs.  I had NOT seen this part of the course before, and it caught me by surprise.

Because I went out a bit too hard on the 1st loop, I was battling GI distress, so I had to go back into problem solving mode.  When I got to special needs I took some time in the blue box to get my HR back under control, then made a serious effort to keep it squarely in Z1 for the 2nd loop.  The second loop was made more interesting by some serious winds that whipped down the course, seemingly in both directions.  It was also starting to get pretty warm, so sustained climbing into the wind meant really heavy sweating.  I kept up with the nutrition, hydration and endurolytes as best as possible, but time was slipping away since I was riding a whole lot slower now.  By the time I got off my bike, I knew that my time goals had gone out the window.

T2 was a good bit faster, but included a stop to get slathered with sunscreen.  I was really worried that I had way too much sun on the bike, and would be suffering soon.

Out on the run the course climbs a couple of short, sharp hills right out of transition, then after about 5k, heads onto a narrow rail-trail with crushed rocks.  This section is a about a 5k out and back.  At this point in the race I’m seeing a lot of walkers and I’m ducking around them as I’m doing my slow run along the trail.  There isn’t any cheering along this part of the course, until you get to an aid station, and then they are going crazy for you.   When you get back into the village after the 1st loop you run within YARDS of the finish, and head back out for loop 2.  I think that’s just cruel.

My GI problem continued, and there were a couple of low spots where I was doubled over gagging, up gas to relieve the bloating.  I kept up with the fueling as well as I could but again any effort above low Z1 shut down any digestion.

The final dash into the finish is right through the pedestrian village, lined with thousands of screaming spectators and then across the finish line.  This time I got to high-five Mike Reilly at the end of the venue.

My only real complaint was that the finisher’s area was extremely crowded.  Any athlete needing medical attention had to get triaged at a table where everyone else was eating.  If further medical attention was needed an EMS tech had to get a wheelchair into the area to cart the athlete out.  It seemed like a recipe for disaster.  Also, trying to exit the area was really tough as there were hundreds of spectators trying to meet up with their athlete in a very congested space.

There was a LOT of food at the end including local poutinne, sausage wraps with French fries and (surprising to me) beer was handed out.

While I went into this race with higher expectations than what I delivered, I got the race results for the race I ran.  Making the mistake of overdoing the 1st loop of the bike cost me a bunch of time, but that’s experience well earned.  As with any IM race there are times when you are really wondering why you are doing this to yourself, and doubting your ability to finish.  But during those times, I would reach out with my heart and could feel the love pouring in from all the people that were supporting me, near and far.  I would smile, and then get right back to work.

The time results puts it squarely in the middle of my 6 IMs.  Not my best, not my worst but I still had fun and finished strong.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

XTERRA Jersey Devil Race Report

Summary:

1/2 mile swim, 12.8 mile MTB, 3.5 mile trail run
2:02:21, 63/102 Men, 4/6 AG
Swim: 13:39 (1/6 AG)
T1 4:29
Bike: 1:12:03
T2 0:52
Run 31:16

9 min PR from 2011 race.

I can’t say anything bad about my performance. I wanted to go under 2hrs, but I’ll take a 2:02, given that I was going hard the whole race, just below redline and didn’t make any really glaring mistakes.

The bike course is mostly non-technical, mix of soft and hard packed sand. A couple of long sections are in a “trench” where everyone has to go single file, no room to pass. On the 1st loop I was alone and was able to make some good time on the descents and techy bits. On the 2nd loop I got behind a couple of guys who were just a bit faster on the ascents, and a bit slower than me on the technical sections. Instead of getting frustrated I just used the opportunity to recover a bit, then hammer and pass when I could.

I felt super on the run. Hurt like a mofo at the beginning, but legs opened up and I was able to move along pretty well. Kept the hammer down as much as possible and tried to flow over the technical sections.

About the only tactical mistake I made was misjudging the finish. The course ran along side the finish, and I forgot that there was about a 1/2 mile loop through the woods before it doubled back and finished. I saw the finish and started my sprint only to run past where I THOUGHT the course would turn around. Once I figured out that I was a bit short, I got my HR and head back under control, and pushed on through the last technical loop. When I popped back up on the trail, I opened up the throttle and sprinted to the finish. Not a drop left in the tank.

Rev3 Full Ironman Race Report

Summary
Swim:  1:06:25  1/25 AG, 17/359 OA
T1:  3:01
Bike:  6:27:08  12/25 AG. 127/359 OA
T2:  4:09
Run:  5:16:12  14/25 AG, 168/359 OA
Swim:
With only 359 people in the full IM distance race, I wasn’t too worried about another meltdown on the swim.  I DID get into the water for a warm-up prior to the race this time.  I did NOT do that prior to IMLP and I think that the warm up made a really big difference.  I had leaky goggles during the swim so I ended up breathing on my right side more than on my left, which required a lot of course corrections.
T1:  Really happy with T1 time.  I’m not sure where the timing mats were for the start/end of T1 but I didn’t feel flustered or rushed at all, and every movement was efficient and had purpose.
Bike:
The plan was to sit on a Z1 HR and 90rpm cadence until the bike ride was done, and nail my nutrition plan.  I felt pretty good about how I executed on the plan.   Because the air temps were so mild I was off the bike to pee about 5 different times, which adds up, but I’ll take the time I got.
T2:  A bit slower due to some fumbling with my gear and time to apply sunscreen.  T2 should have been a minute faster.
Run: 

Again, just slow and steady.  Z1 for the first 4 miles, then pick up if able.  Dry heaves again at 2.4 miles into the run, but once those were through, I felt a lot better afterwards.   I wasn’t able to pick up, so shuffled on.  Walked 30 sec at the aid stations and took other short walk breaks toward the end.  Had to stop and pee 4-5 times on the run.  I have GOT to figure out why I’m having the GI upset on long bike rides.
Race venue/logistics/weather
Rev3 puts on a well organized race, but it is much “smaller” event than a WTC triathlon in all aspects.  This is good in that you get much more individualized attention from the volunteers, and a bit worse in that it doesn’t have that “big league” feel.  You really couldn’t ask for a better venue for the race, especially if you plan on bringing a family.  Lots of hotel options, lots of food options in the park and surrounding area.  Discounted park admission tickets and exclusive access for a couple of hours on Friday.
I could not have asked for better weather!  There were strong storms that passed through the area on Saturday, canceling the sprint race, it cleared up before the athletes meeting and bike check in.  Sunday was mostly sunny for the swim, with increasing clouds during the bike but low winds, and breaking into mostly sunny for the run.  Temps never hit 70 with very low humidity and light breezes.  This was the BEST weather I’ve ever had in my 5 IM races.

Endurafit Ironman 70.3 Eagleman 2012

Endurafit Ironman 70.3 Eagleman 2012

Summary:

5:43:48  52/140 AG, 744/1849 OA.  12 min PR (2005)

Swim:  29:53, 11 AG/ 194/OA
Bike:  2:45:44, 53 AG/755 OA
Run:  2:21:39, 68 AG/978 OA

T1  3:08
T2:  3:26

Power details:  AvgW = 161, NP = 168, HR 145 avg, TSS 166, IF .78, VI 1.01

Pre-Race

When I signed up for this race, Fran & I decided to make a bit of a vacation out of the event.  We arrived on Friday, stayed at the very nice (buy pricey) Hyatt Chesapeake Bay resort.  We planned on spending an extra day seeing the sights in St. Michaels on Monday and heading back on Tuesday.  If you have the chance to do this, I would highly recommend it.  We had a great time all around.

One of my key race strategies is to always get the adminis-trivia taken care of as early and painlessly as possible.  So before we checked into the hotel, we went straight to the Sailwinds park and took care of race registration.  After a brief tour of the so-so-expo, we checked into the hotel.

Saturday was spent sleeping in late and getting a big breakfast at a diner just down the street at the Cambridge Diner (another thumbs up recommendation), I went out for a quick shake-down ride on the race bike and make sure that my new Lazer Tardis race helmet was fitted well.  Afterwards, we hung out by the pool and relaxed.

Race morning I got up a bit earlier than planned as I was wide awake, and I started my normal pre-race routine.  Breakfast consisted of my standard pre-race meal of two Lara Bars, one banana, pint of Orange Juice, and two cups of black coffee (approx. 750-800 cals).  Afterwards I loaded up the car, and drove over to the race venue.  Fran was wisely opting to sleep in then hangout by the beautiful Hyatt pool, and be served drinks by the hotel staff.  She’s always been a lot smarter than me.

Because parking is so limited at the race venue, and the remote shuttle-serviced parking was so far from transition, I wanted to get to the site very early and score one of the limited parking spot within easy walking distance.  Over the years of racing, I’ve found that there is no reason NOT to show up as early as possible on race morning.   It’s a strategy that allows  me to get my transition area set up quickly, with minimal hassle, and limited dancing around the other athletes.  I tend to absorb stress from other athletes in transition, so having some quiet time to setup and get out of transition quickly is key to maintaining my ‘mellow’ before the race.   I’m also able to take care of necessary biological business without waiting in very long lines.   After a bit of waiting, we were getting called up to the start, so I wandered over to a grassy spot near the swim start, got into my wetsuit and waited for my wave to be called.

Swim.

My AG was wave 4, after the pros, 50+ women and 55+ men.  For some reason that I could not understand, we had to wait 18 minutes between the 3rd wave and our start.  10 minutes of that time was in the water lined up on the start line.

The start line was pretty wide, however most of the athletes choose to stage themselves near the boat ramp.  That seemed to add a bit of distance to the 1st buoy, so I staged myself much further out from the rampt  This turned out to be the smart move, because within a hundred yards, I was in clear water and moving along.

My swim strategy was to stay smooth, with long and strong strokes, 10 breaths on the right, head up to sight, 10 breaths on the left, head up to sight, wash, rinse repeat for 30 minutes.  I didn’t have any serious problems sighting until I lost the 3rd turn buoy and went a bit wide.  That probably cost me a minute.  I started catching some of the prior wave swimmers on the final stretch to the finish, so I knew I had a good swim.

In T1 I started fat-fingering my gear so I forced myself to stand down for a moment, the follow my T1 plan smoothly, but a bit slowly.  I really need to practice my transitions, and learn to race w/out socks.

My plan on the bike was to measure out consistent power through the entire bike course.  Since the course is pancake flat, and the forecast called for light winds, I knew that sticking to my plan would be completely within my control.  I just had to focus.

I knew that I was well ahead of my AG competition after the swim, but knew that would not last long.  I got passed by my 1st AG competitor within the 1st mile, and the second passed me by mile 3.   No Kona slot for me.

My fueling strategy on the bike was to take sips from my 2X strength HEED bottle every 20-30 minutes, alternating with hits of my Hammer Gel flask every 15-30 minutes, and take water bottles off the course.  Since the temperatures were going to reach the low-mid 90s I also took 2-3 endurolytes every 15 minutes.  This gave me about 900 calories on the bike.  I was running low on HEED toward the end of the bike course, so I need to re-think this strategy a bit for IMLP.

I completed the bike without serious incident and felt 100% in control of my power output the entire time.  I only noticed a bit of headwind in the usual location between 40 and 48 miles, so I just altered my gearing to keep power output consistent.  The only issue was some serious chafing from my new Cobb saddle.  I learned the hard way that I really can’t wear thinly padded tri suits with this seat.

In T2 I took some extra time to re-apply spray on sunscreen, knowing that the run course has NO shade.  My run strategy was just like my bike strategy.  Go out easy for the 1st 3 miles, settle into a steady pace through mile 10, then suck it up and push through the finish.   Because of the heat, I had planned on walking through the aid stations to get hydration and throw ice into my race suit.

I managed to do ok through mile 9ish, but the wheels started to fall off from the heat, and lack of long run preparation.  I was trying to maintain a 9:20 pace at this point but had to keep backing down to walk breaks when the heat would start to overwhelm me.  I limited the walk breaks to 30-50 steps, then start running again.   I was managing to pass some folks along the run, which is something that almost never happens in my races, so I felt that my overall race strategy was working.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the results.  I did a lot of things right, and that resulted in an unexpected PR.  I know what strategy elements worked well, and what I need to tweak for IMLP in July.

One additional point.  Fran bought some new Coppertone Sport Pro spray  on sunscreen for me to use in my workouts.  This stuff totally rocks.  I used it before the swim, and reapplied in T2.  Using an SPF30 formula I did not get ANY sunburn, despite the swim, sweating profusely and dumping gallons of water and ice on myself during the bike and run.   If you have ever raced Eagleman, you know how easy it is to get badly sunburned.  This stuff is da bomb!

 

Race Report: TriRock NY Sprint – Harriman State Park, NY 13 August 2011

TriRock NY Sprint – Harriman State Park, NY
800m swim, 15m bike, 5k run
http://www.compuscore.com/cs2011/aug/nytri.htm

Swim: 14:01
T1: 2:47
Bike: 50:57
T2: 1:18
Run: 25:58

1:35:01

8/26 A/G, 48/289 O/A

Signed up at the last minute simply to “do a race” and shake of the last of the grad school rust. Goals were to go hard, stay on the gas the entire race and see what happened. And thats what I did. I feel pretty darn good about the results, given minimal run speed work, no planned speed work on the bike, and limited swimming. I was confident that I could have a good race, as this past week I had some nice snap in my bike & run, with a breakthrough brick on Wed.

The race: Well run event. Competitor Group has taken over the SBR series and this was the inaugural year. Well organized setup, plenty of parking, nice venue, plenty of helpful volunteers. They lose points for not having the bathrooms open right away, but that may have been the state park employees. Live band, huge breakfast burritos, and free Red Hook beer after the race (but none for me).

Swim – I was in the third, and smallest wave (nice!). I opted for no wetsuit as the water was warm, and it was only an 800m swim. Course was out and back, but the challenge was all the lake grass. The first two waves chopped up the stuff so it was like swimming in Miso Soup. I had to slow up a couple of times to pull the crap out of my goggles, and untangle my hands and arms.

T1 was faffing about with my Garmin and socks. Next time I race a sprint, I leave both at home.

Bike – the course was a long out-&-back, then a short out-&-back. Up a hill, then down a hill. Lather, rinse, repeat. My race plan said “if you are not in pain, you aren’t moving fast enough” so I pushed and pushed. I flew by a ton of people, and only got passed by two or three. I’ve been trying to improve my descending as well, and that really helped on this course.

T2 faffing with the Garmin cost me here too… WTF is wrong with me?

Run – out on a “trail” that used to be a paved path, but was pretty degraded. Started climbing almost right out of the gate, and kept going mostly up until the turnaround. Splits reflect the course: 9:04, 8:29, 7:52.

I got chicked around 2 miles by a 45-49 AG woman (she blistered the uphills), but held off all others in my A/G until less than 400m from the finish where I got passed by two guys flying past me. At that point I was calling down to Scotty for more power, but the silly engineer was out on a break or something ’cause he never returned my call.

Lessons learned: Poor transitions cost me at least two A/G spots. That’s a lesson that stings a bit, but it’s easily fixable. My run needs improvement but it’s come a long way in just a couple of months of effort.

One more thing. It really feels great to write a race report again.

Thoughts on Endurance Nation Lake Placid Rally

It was really interesting to attend the Endurance Nation camp before drinking the Kool-Aid to see whether people were really getting results, and it sure seems like the training works.  I met up with a bunch of IM virgins who were using the EN program and appeared to be fit, fast and almost ready to race.  Everyone was very enthusiastic about the program, the coaches and the entire EN community.  Coach Patrick was a great master of ceremonies for the event.  He kept the program light and fun, gave great talks about the course, and the keys to success at IMLP.

It will be interesting to compare/contrast the EN camp with the Fireman Ironman camp this coming weekend.  While not exactly the same type of event (Fireman camp doesn’t have scheduled/coached workouts) I will get the opportunity to talk to a lot of other athletes with a lot of other coaching plans, including some pro and top-ranked amateurs.

 

One or both?

I’ve already signed up for the Fireman Ironman Camp 17-19 June, but am now considering the Endurance Nation camp the prior weekend as well. I ‘ve got friends going to both camps so I’ll have people to hang out with. I won’t be training for an Ironman, or any long course tri in 2011 but the camps are a lot of fun. I figure that the back-to-back big weeks will make a big deposit in the bank of HTFU, but will take a big chunk out of vacation time and cash flow. I still think it will be worth the time and travel!

Dusting off the cobwebs

The MAFW picnic rides were cancelled today due to rain.  I was really looking forward to my first brick workout in a long, long time and was pretty disappointed when the rides were cancelled.  On the way home I suddenly realized that Ironman Wisconsin was going on today, so I decided to do an “indoor brick” on the CompuTrainer and the treadmill.  When I pulled the tri bike off the hooks in the basement I noticed that it still has the IMWI and Tri-Bike Transport stickers on the frame, both tires were completely flat and the bike was covered in a thick layer of dust.  I don’t think I’ve been on that bike since the race.  So I pumped up the tires, and loaded up the IMWI course on the CompuTrainer.  I also noticed that the workout room had cobwebs hanging from the corners and most of the light fixtures.  I supposed that was fitting as my workout room and my body appear to be in the same shape.

I rode for an hour at a nice aerobic pace, then hopped on the treadmill for a planned 20 min run.  After about 13 minutes the achilles started to ached so I cut the run short (15 min).  It’s a long way from being Iron Fit, but I’ve dusted off the cobwebs, literally and figuratively.