Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The 2012 season is behind me. It has been a little over three weeks since I raced Ironman Arizona, and I now find myself in this somewhat strange place of feeling like that was an eternity ago, yet at the same time, yesterday.

I will be totally honest and say that I haven't come close to solidifying my race schedule for next year. My mind and life has been occupied with many other things. Spending time with friends and family that I haven't seen in quite a while has been great. A truly refreshing relief and pleasure.

My "offseason training" has been pretty unfocused. And I have enjoyed that. I have been spending time back up in my hometown and getting back to my where I planted my "roots" in endurance sports. I have really enjoyed getting back to some runs with my old running group, Club Ed, and having great conversations with the friends I've met there over the years.

Swimming has been pretty much non-existent.  I think I've been in the water four or five times since Arizona. This is both because I wanted to give my shoulder a bit of a break to rest and recuperate, and because I simply haven't wanted to swim. And my overarching rule this off season is "If I don't want to do it. DON'T!" So I haven't.

I have however, been riding quite a bit. No time goals, no watts to hit, no planned routes; just ride with friends and enjoy the scenery. I am actually surprised at how much time I've spent in the saddle. But it's time I have wanted to spend, so I have.

With that, I will leave you with some photos from my first ride on my TT bike and first over three hours since IMAZ. A fantastic day in LA with a good friend and incredible scenery.

Just a bit up one of the more famous climbs in LA

Snaking Road

Same climb, with a little Instagram touch

Malibu is not all ocean front

Looking out over the Valley
Coming back down to sea level

Back on the Coast

Santa Monica Pier and nearly the end of the ride

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ironman AZ Race Report

Ironman Arizona, as I said in my previous post, is a race that I just like. After this weekend, I like it even a bit more.

Arizona feels like a bit of a second home to me. I had the great fortune last year to spend well over a month enjoying the incredible generosity and hospitality of some extraordinary people and friends in Bryan and Jamie Dunn. This year they again opened their door to me prior to the race and I was able to spend a very enjoyable three days at their lovely home.

TRIBE Multisport, for the third year in a row, put on a fantastic pre race party. It is a true pleasure to work with a shop and crew that really gets behind the athletes and pulls out all the stops to really enjoy the experience of an Ironman.

With IM AZ being the closest Ironman to my family in LA, it was great to have my parents and older brother come out for the race. It also meant a night in a hotel only minutes from the race site to ease the race morning prep. In addition to my parents and brother my pseudo brother and life long family friend, Josh, made it out as well as my Aunt Kay and Uncle Dan. So it was up to me to make it worth their while. Here's how it went:

Swim: 48: 41
I had a terrible swim at Austin 70.3 and my separated shoulder had been causing me all sorts of problems since that race. My last masters workout went terribly and my back and shoulder were so tight I couldn't even finish the set. I know that when my shoulder is happy, I can swim well, but if its not, I swim like a brick. So in the final week I made sure to get some massage and serious ART work done and limited my swimming thereafter. I knew going into this race that I HAD to make the front swim group. Without a dominating bike or run, I just wouldn't be able to get myself into the mix if I didn't make the front in the swim.

Thankfully, the gun sounded and I found myself in a strong group rolling up the right side of the lake. I took one solid kick to the goggle which immediately filled with water, but aside from that and a few other small knocks it wasn't a terribly rough swim despite the size of the field. There were definitely some key moments where I had to really push to stick with the group or close a gap that a falling swimmer let open, but for the most part I was within my "comfortably hard" zone and just tried to focus on form and turnover. When I exited the water and saw 48:xx I was happy to know I was already on pace for a new PR.
The Zoot Prophet was awesome again. Warm, buoyant & flexible
Photo: Kerry Yndestad

T1 went by in a flash and I was onto the bike just behind TJ Tollakson (read his report here).

BIKE: 4:24:07
Heading out of town I knew I was with a strong crew of cyclists. TJ being the dominant force on the bike that he is, I knew I was going to have to work to stay with that group. In the beginning we numbered many. But soon guys began to fall off. I was working pretty hard on the outbound section of the first loop and my Joule was telling me I was exceeding my goal wattage, so I made a decision to stick with the group to the turn. If the effort was still too high on the way back to town, I would have to let up. Fortunately, by the time we got off the B Line on the way back to town the pace had settled down some.

Onto the 2nd lap again the effort picked up on the outboud (into the wind) section. I think this is a point where the group lost a few more. At the turn around, the referee moto crashed in front of me and forced a little detour through the turn. I was out of water at that point and had to grab a bottle. By the time I looked up the group had a solid gap on me and I knew it was another "make or break" moment. Coming downhill from the turn with the wind at my back, I knew it was going to be very tough to catch back up but I knew I had to. I hit the gas. This was my first opportunity to ride the new Reynolds Aero 90 front wheel. It was at this moment that wheel came into its own in my mind. I've never felt it before, but the only way I can describe it is that it felt like the front wheel simply disappeared. Not like it was cutting through the wind or just rolling super smooth, but like it completely vanished. Like I was riding a bike without a wheel under me at all. It was an incredible experience. Sooner than I expected I had made it back to the group but missed special needs.

I knew heading into the 3rd lap, that guys were beginning to tire and this would be the key lap. The course had become clogged and you had to have your wits about you. We dropped a few more from the group early in the lap as we made our way out. Unfortunately, as we went through an aid station I found myself at the back and needing water. Once we had cleared the malay, TJ and Nils had gotten a gap. This is the one "hindsight" regret I have of my race. I am not saying I could have hung with TJ and Nils on the final lap, but this is where they got their break. Riding with Paul Matthews and Paul Amey, I knew with their running ability, they were not going to be too concerned with a little gap, thus the onus fell to me to set the pace for much of the 3rd lap. I focused on riding steady and staying within my goal watt range, no reason to blow myself up just to pull some excellent runners all the way home.

RUN: 3:02:31
I REALLY wanted to run under 3hrs on the day. Since getting my cycling back on track I have been putting more focus and energy into my running and I felt it had been showing promise. My plan was to come out of T2 and run no faster than 6:40s for the first lap. By doing so I hoped to avoid the mid run hole I found myself in at Rev3 and Augusta. Immediately I knew I had a shot at my goal. While my legs didn't feel great, I knew I hadn't shredded myself on the bike and my Zoot TTs were ticking over well. Cadence and Fuel. That was my mantra. With Ironman switching from PowerBar gel to Gu, I wore a FuelBelt with a flask of red bull and a flask with 4 Power Gels and water. Special needs had a 2nd flask of each. Starting the second lap running past family, friends and the TRIBE tent had me fired up. 
My brother nearly knocked me over with that High 5

I must admit some wind came out of my sails however when Tyler Butterfield passed me running a blinder. I had to remind myself, "Dude is an Olympian! It's ok. Just settle down." To my chagrin my planned 6:45-50s just didn't hold for the second lap and I managed just under 7. 

Fortunately, I came around both mentally and physically at the start of the 3rd lap. I was passed again, but was sure the guy was on his 2nd lap (not so lucky), and I kept my focus. After the park on the back side I made up two spots in short order. With the multiple laps, it is always hard to know where you are. One minute someone would tell me I was in 5th, the next 8th. I had no reason not to keep running hard. Around mile 24 my good friend Justin Daerr alerted me to the fact that Starkowitz was only a bit up the road and told me to get my ass in gear. Going over the bridge I spotted him and knew I could get him. At the final aid station I made the pass and put in all I had to open a gap. It worked but I wasn't aware it had until I made the turn for the finish. 
Pretty stoked to see the new PR

Annnndd Done. 
Total: 8:19:38
A new PR by 20+ minutes and a great way to end a season. 

Now its time for some much needed R & R. 

I need to send a special THANK YOU to my wonderful sponsors who have been so supportive this year: 

ZOOT: Like I said, the Prophet was great. Cold water was no problem and I never felt even the slightest resistance from the suit. The TT 5.0 is a fantastic shoe. The perfect choice for the day. 

Reynolds: I have never felt anything like I did with the new 90 Aero. I was amazed at that sensation and performance. 

SPY+: I opted to race without a visor to try and beat some of the heat in this race. The striking Arizona sun was no match for the Screw with the Green Spectra lenses. 

PowerBar: 20 Power Gels, 1.5 PowerBars, 2 bottles of perform... Powered 8 hours and 19 minutes of pushing. 

TRIBE MULTISPORT: Everything from pre race party, pre race maintenance, last minute needs and on course cheers. You guys did it all. Thanks so much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thats a wrap... (almost)

2012 has been a season of change.

Change from an injured athlete possibly out of the sport, to an athlete coming back.

Change from a group training environment, to solo hours for the largest part.

Change is coaching, approach, and focus.

All of those changes, I am happy to say, have been for the better both so far as my performance and state of mind are concerned. As the saying goes however, change is not easy. While I don't necessarily subscribe to the notion that we human beings, on the whole, are resistent to change, I know it does not come easy for most. Myself included. Creatures of habit we may be. Change upsets a certain rhythm of life that most endurance athletes seem to adhere to with greater resolve than others. Our routine, in some sense, becomes the life.

Following my crash at Ironman Cozumel last year, a very well respected doctor, knowing the typical athlete's adherence to routine, told me I needed to mentally accept and prepare for a change to that routine, a change in my way of life. To contemplate a life without triathlon, at least at the profesional level, and thereby begin to prepare myself for such a life should it eventuate.

To my relief, my shoulder proved resilient and unaffected by the rather unaesthetic protrusion it now sports. I worked at rebuilding its functionality and strength and went back into routine. Life.

With my final race of the season looming this Sunday, I have come to realize that this race means more to me than I thought it would. It represents an opportunity to finish on high, a season that started so low. I raced Ironman Arizona in 2010. I have been at the race as a spectator or participant every year since 2008. It is a race that holds a certain significance with me. I am unable to exactly pin it down or explain it, but I just like the race. A great deal.

So all the training is done. Hay is in the barn, all the other saying we use to describe our readiness to compete. I am excited to head out to Tempe tomorrow to see familiar faces and feel the race week buzz. I am excited to face the truly unique challenges that this great sport of Triathlon presents us with over 140.6 miles of racing. Excited to try and eclipse my previous best on this course and to do so amongst a great field of professionals, and in front of many family and friends.

If you are racing this weekend enjoy yourself, your sport, your family and friends, and the opportunity to do what you love.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Austin 70.3 Race Report

I raced Austin 70.3 in 2010 and had pretty good memories of the race. It was warm, the course was fun, and I had to dodge a HUGE bull that had gotten loose on the race course.

This year things were much different. Yet much the same.

1. It was Frigid! 43f (6c) at the start and didn't get much warmer all to fast.
2. The run course. Out went the cross country section and in came another loop.

1. We started in near dark.
2. I had to dodge an animal on course. Granted a dog this go round, but same difference.

All in all, Austin was not a very good race for me. I knew going in that with Ironman having been the focus in training, that I shouldn't expect to be all too sharp for this race. But my dullness surpassed my expectations. Only some of that was due to the conditions on the day. The rest was simply a lacking in the physical and mental department.

Swim: 25:49
I lined up for the swim with some guys I thought I could hang onto. From the gun I knew things were going to be tough. For reasons I am still unaware, I swam hard left while the rest of the field swam right. For the remainder of the "out leg" my internal navigator was steering the ship left. I fought it for what seemed like an eternity and while swimming like a drunken sailor, the lead groups swam away. Unfortunately we were swimming directly into the sunrise which, while beautiful for the spectators, made the task of sighting the course buoys that much more difficult.

 Once I had charted and locked onto proper course, I was alone for the rest of the swim.

I ran in to T2, stopped to pick some very pleasant thorns out of my feet, ran past my bike, ran past my bike in the other direction, looked around frantically, located said bike, donned a long sleeve jersey and FINALLY was on my way.

Bike: 2:18:51
Getting onto the bike I got a split of 1:10 to a group up the road. Not Good. But possible. On I went. Given the early (relative to sunrise) start, it was still mighty brisk when I began my BH piloting duties and my legs were having none of it. My upper body was reasonably warm thanks to a long sleeve jersey and a pair of gloves that TJ Tollakson had kindly lent me that morning. My legs were a different story. No socks, not toe warmers, no "go." For the first 20 or so miles I rode totally alone. I never saw anyone up ahead, and getting power out of my legs was not happening. When I got company, it came from behind and was not the kind I wanted. Somewhere before the mile 40 mark I began to feel a bit better (warmer) and finally felt I could start putting down some decent power. Too little. Too late. I entered T2 without being passed, but not having caught anyone either. Not a very good ride.

Run: 1:20:07
Heading out on the run I was determined not to make the same mistake I made in Augusta and put myself into the mid miles bad patch I ran through in that race. So I took the first lap very conservative, trying to get my legs under me and focusing on getting in some nutrition and fluids. Due to the low temps I didn't drink much at all on the course. I started the race with a single bottle with 10 Green Apple PowerGels in a bottle, and one bottle of water. I took one bottle of PowerBar Perform at an aid station but only took one long pull off it before tossing it within the same aid station. After the race, I still had about an 1/8 of the original bottle of water I started with, and about half the gel bottle. I was thirsty when I started the run and knew getting on top of that was priority #1.

I managed to make up a couple spots in the first lap, and starting my second, I concentrated on picking up the turnover in my feet I could now actually feel. I moved up a few more spots on the second lap and kept my focus on turnover going into the third and final loop. I managed to up the pace slightly more in the 3rd loop and distanced myself from some unwanted company in the final three miles or so. I didn't however shake loose fellow Zooter Beth Walsh, who went on to record the day's fastest run split in the pro women's race. To be honest I actually felt a little bad peeling off to the finish when Beth had another lap to go.

Finish: 8th, 4:08:44

While I did not head into this race with grand expectations, particularly with a field containing the likes of Andy Potts, TJ Tollakson and Chris McCormack, this performance was still a bit of a slap in the face.

There are a few takeaways however:
1. Once I had warmed a bit, I rode halfway decent;
2. I managed to pull some motivation from beneath my frozen exterior and finish the day strong; and
3. I negative split the run and executed my pacing plan thereby avoiding the mid mile hole I found in Augusta.

A hefty congrats to all those who raced with integrity and class, most notably Andy Potts and TJ Tollakson who both put on stellar performances on the day.

Thanks as always to my incredible sponsors:

Zoot: Once pointed in the right direction the Prophet wetsuit was fast and warm. And the Kiawe... I just can't say enough. That shoe is Radical!

BH Bikes:  When my legs came to life the machine responded. Reliable, easy and fast.

Reynolds: Much like the bike, when the power came, my wheels were ready to roll.

TRIBE: I wouldn't get to and through race day without the gear and support I need and you provide.

SPY+: if only you guys made goggles!! Great sunglasses for training, racing, or just casually cruising around. They dress up pretty nice too.

PowerBar: From alarm clock to finish line, my day was fueled almost exclusively by PowerBar products. Bars, Gel blasts, Perform, and Gels. All delicious.

Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP: Great support, from wonderful people. On the race course for me, in the court room for you.

ONWARD!  To Ironman Arizona and the TRIBE Slowtwitch Party

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Augusta 70.3 Race Report

The last time I raced a half ironman this close to an full ironman was in 2009, when a month after my first Ironman at Couer 'd Alene, I raced Vineman 70.3. I felt alright at Vineman, but remember that my legs just seemed to lack any real life on the bike.

Going into Augusta 70.3 only 3 weeks after Rev3 Cedar Pt., this uncharted territory left me a little uncertain. A blog post by good friend and former squad mate Trevor Wurtele, in which he noted the dangers/pains of racing a half 3 weeks after a full rab through my head, and I had my concerns. While I didn't have the best race, I can say it certainly was better than I feared it could have been.

The weeks between Cedar Pt. and Augusta were predominantly focused on recovery, with only a few hard efforts. As a result I came to Augusta feeling a little sluggish, but fully recovered, which is much better than feeling peppy but less than fully recovered.

I got to South Carolina, a state I had never been and didn't even realize I was flying to, in the wee hours of Friday morning and to my incredible homestays' beautiful home in North Augusta, South Carolina (say it 5 times fast) later that afternoon. Due in no small part to my homestays' generosity and hospitality, all went smoothly and it was race morning before I knew it. So onto the race.

Swim: 19:56 but I cheated.

I say I cheated for several reasons: 1. the swim was down river. 2. Although the water was "magically" one tenth of a degree shy of the ridiculous WTC wetsuit cutoff, I was warmly ensconced within my Zoot Prophet wetsuit. and 3. Good friend and fast swimmer Guy Crawford was kind enough to tow me the for what was probably a mile of the 1.2 mile swim.

All that said, the swim was rather uneventful. A few minutes in Guy came around me and I got on his feet. We swam in the middle of the river with a group of guys ten meters or so to our right. In the end I came out a few seconds behind Guy in 2nd. The would set the theme for the day. Aside from that the only notable parts of the swim were "losing" my cap, and getting to swim under this:

Bike: 4:10: 22
Coming out of the water I was boiling and ended up losing some time in T1, getting out onto the bike in 5th or so. Going into the race, I was determined to show that my 2nd fastest bike split at Cedar Pt. was no fluke, and thought I may be able to go one spot better than that in this race. In the first few miles however, the power just wasn't really coming. After trying to settle in and cool off a bit, I took the lead around mile ten but it would only last a few miles. We were a group of 6 or 7 and it took a while for us to thin that number. Most of the group took solid turns on the front setting the pace. I made an attempt at mile 30 to get away, but six miles later I saw it hadn't worked. 

I went again with roughly five miles to go, but Guy was having none of it. He passed me in the final mile and comedy ensued. Doing our peers no favors with regard to our bike handling reputation, we arrived at the dismount line in rather surprised fashion.  I hadn't taken my feet out of my shoes and Guy only had one out. Queu the "America's Funniest Home Videos" scene of drunk women in high heels chasing a wedding bouquet. That was Guy and I scrambling on our plasticized soles, fumbling for the line. It was awesome. 

Despite my efforts and determination to take the fastest bike split, the Pizza Pizza man beat me to it and I ended up 2nd off the bike, with the 2nd fastest bike split, for the 2nd race in a row. (see the theme?)

Run: 1:22
Out of T2 I was running in 2nd behind Maxim who blazed through transition. I knew Maxim would run well. I was determined to do so in kind. Sadly however, just shy of the four mile mark, it became clear this would not happen. As many people have experienced, and due solely to my own stupidity, I "Suddenly" found myself in a rather dark cave. I would run this way for four miles or so, dropping to 5th place, before I was able to take in some calories and clamber my way out. In the end it was too little, too late and I would remain 5th. 
Dancing with the Dancing Girls

Glad to be done

Whoooo! Not an easy day
  As always I owe a huge thanks to my sponsors: 

BH Bikes: Thanks for providing great support and an awesome MACHINE! Its great to have a bike under me that I know is capable and can be relied upon to deliver me to T2 up front. 

ZOOT: While warm in the steamy waters of the Savannah River, the Prophet worked like a charm and the Kiawe were game for some fast miles when the body was able. Best Half IM shoe ever! Maybe even IM too. 

Reynolds: A bike doesn't get you too far if it doesn't have some good hoops to roll on. Reynolds makes some of the fastest, strongest and lightest wheels on the market. Stoked to finally be putting them to good use!

SPY+: We all need to shield our scopes. Spy makes some of the best looking and performing shades out there. The Screw is flat out Tops! 

PowerBar: Fuel... Ahh I just needed a little more. My fault. 

TRIBE: Keeping oneself stocked up on all the gear we need for training and racing can seem like a full time job in and of itself. Thankfully the competent and knowledgable staff at TRIBE has my back. Much less to worry about. 

Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP: Great lawyers. Great support. Great fans of the sport. Couldn't do it without you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Pt. Race Report

This is the race report I have been wanting to write for a year and a half now. As any of you that have followed my racing or this blog for that time period will have noted, I have not been happy with my riding during this stretch. In fact, since joining the Squad and my former coach, I struggled mightily on the bike all of last season and the beginning of this season. In fact, save for Kona, I will be the first to say that my riding flat out sucked in every race since I started my 2011 season.

I am now happy to say that while there remains much work to be done and improvement to be found, the changes I have made in my coaching, training, and bike position, have "righted the ship" and put me on the path to competitiveness.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of racing another Rev3 race out in Cedar Pt., Ohio. The Rev3 Wisconsin Dells race was my sole Rev3 experience prior to this, and despite the mechanical mishaps on the bike, I rather enjoyed the event. With that experience fresh in mind, and the fact that Rev3 saw fit to put up double the prize purse WTC had on offer at Ironman Wisconsin, I opted to race in Cedar Pt. and could not be happier that I did.

Going into the race I knew I would have my work cut out for me as toeing the line was a competitive field. I mean anytime you have two guys with 13 Iron distance wins between them, you know you are in for a battle. But I was excited to display my much improved riding ability and was confident I could ride at least near the top guys in the field. 

Fortunately for us Mother Nature had unleashed her fury the day before the race and we were greeted with a beauty of a morning on Lake Erie. Unfortunately for me and my midget legs, Lake Erie is rather shallow for a rather extended distance from shore. Thus, the "in water" start was more of a "In (wading depth) water start." This meant that some of my taller competitors ran and dolphin dove away as I swam and attempted to get on some feet. 

The gap that opened made it a solo swim for the majority of the first loop, and only after coming through the shallow section to start the second loop was I able to bridge up to a group ahead of me. After doing so I realized it was my good friend and summer training partner, Chris Mcdonald leading and I decided to try and share the work with him. Sadly, I swam like a drunken sailor and Chris soon opted for a much straighter route. We ended up coming out of the water only a few seconds apart, but both having spent the energy that a solo swimmer would have. 

That's Big Sexy behind me. 

Since Couer d'Alene my training has been much different than it was for the past year and a half. Finally I was coming into a race looking forward to the bike rather than fearing it. I knew from my training that I had a strong ride to uncork and was excited to do so. 

I had a little bit of a slow transition and came out behind Chris and Zack Ruble. Having raced with both these guys before, I thought we would have a good crew to trade some time at the front and work our way back up to the lead swimmers. Much to my chagrin however, Zack nor I were able to match Chris' pace and he rode away. After that I settled in and focused on executing my plan. With Zack and Jim LaMastra in tow, I reeled in a few of those who had gotten away in the water. It was essentially a solo effort to stay on my watts and try to move forward. To some extent my past year and a half of poor riding prepared me well for this as I am used to riding alone. I was content to do so and was happy with my numbers for the remainder of the ride. 
Photo rights: Eric Wynn

Around the 80mi mark I saw a figure up the road that looked to be Victor. Right around 85 miles I passed him. The LAST thing I wanted to do was drag one of the best runners in the game back to T2. I knew I was sitting in 3rd now, and thats pretty much when I decided it was time to step up to the plate. For the past 18 months I have been telling myself that I need to be "in the race" and not just "out there." Knowing Victor's run palmares, I knew I needed to get as much separation as I could. 

About 10mi later I caught Chris. I now knew that I had two of the best runners in the sport behind me. I hit T2 about ten miles later and knew that my gap to Chris was insignificant. No disrespect to Eric Limkemann, but I hadn't heard much about him prior to the race, and knew he had been off the front all day. That can take a toll on anyone, and with that in mind I thought there was a good chance he would come back rather quick on the run. It was at that moment, exiting T2, that I thought I had a chance to win this thing, but only if I went "ALL IN".  I knew if I ran a paced run I was just going to be a carrot for Chris, Victor and Daniel Bretcher. I thought there was a chance, albeit slim, that if I got away in the beginning of the run, I could hold on long enough to stay away. You only live once. So with my new Zoot Race 4.0's firmly wound down. I set off on a pace that I thought would reel in Eric and keep me out front.  

Unfortunately, about 8 or 9 miles later my cards were called and I didn't have the hand. Much to his credit Eric had only increased the gap, and Victor had reeled me in. I focused on holding a steady cadence back to the turn around and just tried to fight for the podium. 
Photo courtesy Eric Wynn

The second lap is when things got REAL. Chris caught me about mile 14ish and I had nothing left. I actually stopped, not walked, but stopped and drank three cups of coke and two waters at the mile 17 aid station. I was running on empty. My stomach was not too happy but I knew I needed sugars. So I kept up the intake and around mile 21 things started to turn around. I could see that Eric had finally slowed and was coming back. I thought if I could run well for the final 10K, I might be able to catch him. I focused on nothing other than reeling him in. All the way to the chute, I was digging and keeping hope alive. 

In the finish chute but still on the gas.

I came up short. About 50 meters short. 5th it was. 

I went into this race really thinking I could crack the 3hr mark on the run. My gamble in the early miles backfired and a 3:06 was all I could muster. I paid up. 

5th place is nothing to be all that excited about. In fact, while I say I am "happy" with my race, the only real detractors are a poor swim, and the 5th place finish. I am "happy" however, because my training and new bike position courtesy of Jim at FinalFit have me riding well again. I proved to myself that I can ride "in the race" at this level and compete. And while I clearly didn't come out the winner on my gamble, at least I anted up and put in my chips. I lost but I learned. As such, I am happy with the end result. 

As always, I need to say a BIG "Thank You" to my great Sponsors. 
ZOOT: Zoot has stuck by me and continued to provide me with great equipment and support and I can't thank them enough. They continue to innovate and strive to be at the forefront of Triathlon. Evidence the Race 4.0 with BOA technology that I raced in. A great company with athletes at the helm, and in their heart. 

BH Bikes: I was finally able to do justice to my BH GC Aero. A fantastic bike that is simple, strong, stiff and fast. People underestimate just how important reliability and simplicity are until they get to race day. I know my GC will be ready to go, day in, day out, wherever I am. 

Reynolds: Knowing a company is dedicated to developing fast, strong and safe wheels gives me as an athlete great confidence come race day. I can't ask for anything more than that and Reynolds provides it! 

PowerBar: My day was fueled 99% by PowerBar products. Cola gel blasts and a Cookies n Cream Powerbar for breakfast. Peanut Butter Powerbar and Strawberry Banana PowerGels on the bike and run. Had I known I would be running the engine so hot in the first part of the run, I would have calculated a little more fuel and then... who knows!?!

SPY+ Optics: Spy keeps me in not only stylish casual shades, but more importantly, functional high performance shades that look great. Protect your eyes in style!

TRIBE Multisport: You don't get to race day without training. And having a knowledgable shop to rely on through the months leading up to race day is KEY. TRIBE is just that shop and does it with top notch service. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The long route

I have clearly taken the long route as to blog updates recently. Frankly, not much has been going on since Ironman Couer d'Alene until the last couple weeks. With that lame excuse for my literary laziness, here is a bit of an update including 2 race reports!

After Couer d'Alene I took it pretty easy for nearly 2 weeks and just focused on some much needed recovery. The second weekend after the race I was pretty much back to the grind and happy to be so. I added in some group riding with the (famous? infamous?) Swami's ride down here in North County San Diego and have made that a pretty regular event since. I think it has been good for my top end and added a little competitiveness into my weekly routine. As I write this, its been a couple weeks since I have been out to the ride due to racing, so this week's ride could be a tough day in the saddle. 

Training has gone fairly well with no set backs and nothing major to report. I keep waiting to make these "massive, insane, unbelievable" gains and PRs that I hear/see some of my competitors talk/write about, but alas, I haven't seen them. I guess I will have to be content with consistent, focused work, and the slow progress that comes as a result. 

Two weeks ago I raced the Camp Pendleton Sprint Tri in Oceanside. It had been YEARS since I raced a sprint, but I knew it would be a fun day. A quick ocean swim, a ride on familiar training grounds and a run finishing on a Marine LCAC (Hovercraft). Awesome. It was indeed a quick swim as I think the low tide cut out a fair portion. Either way, there was no Elite wave and I exited the Pacific pretty confident I was in the lead of my wave. 

I came out of T1 and was promptly passed by a dude who looked like he knew how to ride a bike. We traded passes again, and then I accepted his cycling superiority and focused on simply staying with him. I did that to some degree and I think I ended up with the second fastest bike split to my tall leader. 

Onto the run, I felt pretty good and just focused on trying to keep the effort and turnover equally high. I wore the Zoot Kiawe and I simply cannot say enough about this shoe. I've now worn it in sprint races, fast workouts, and Half Ironmans and it has been a joy in all. The wave start, and my 3rd wave position made for a few carrots on the run, but for the most part a somewhat solitary 5K. In the end I know I didn't have the fastest of any of the disciplines, but was able to come away victorious. A fun race for sure. 

Fast forward to last Sunday and I was out in Wisconsin to race the inaugural Rev3 Wisconsin Dells. Race morning arrived and the weather looked ideal. A non-rubberized swim brought a smile to my face as well. Richie Cunningham was on the line and he has been riding an unbelievable wave this season. I knew I couldn't run with him, but I thought if I could find his feet in the swim it could set me up well. While I haven't been too pleased with my swimming this year, I had been feeling good in the water of late. This combined with the fact that I had done some swimming with Richie in Boulder last year gave me the confidence that I could do it. After the "GO!" I was waiting for Richie to pull ahead but he never did. I found myself on feet I knew I shouldn't be on and begrudgingly decided to shoulder the burden and set the pace for the second pack. Richie and a few others in tow, I just tried to set a consistent, comfortably hard pace all the way in. Clearly it wasn't Richie's day in the water (as he later admitted), but I was happy to be out with he and a few other strong cyclists. 
Photo by Nils Nilson Twitter @TriathletePhoto

Photo by Nils Nilsen Twitter: @TriathletePhoto

After ten miles or so I simply lost touch with the group and tried to settle into my own rhythm. I will readily admit I struggled a bit to keep the tempo/wattage where I wanted it and the power wasn't coming without a fight. I sometimes go through these patches while trying to get "warmed up" and I chalked it up to just another of those episodes. Unfortunately, things were about to get worse. The Rev3 course is legit and has a series of climbs in the middle miles. At the bottom of the middle and biggest of these climbs, I managed to drop my chain and get it stuck under my K-Edge and wedged between the chainrings and frame. I had to unclip, dismount and fight a mighty battle to get it back out. Re-mounting on a steep climb however was no easy task, particularly on a open road. I tried not to think about the lost time and just keep at it, but at the top of the climb, in a tight left turn, I hit a rock and flatted my front tire. After a cursory inspection, the tire appeared to have survived intact and I went about replacing the tube. I tell ya, there are few things that provide such a "gut check" as repairing a flat in a race, then promptly beginning a steep and technical 50mph descent. I made it through the descents and was later relieved to see the better part of luck was on my side after all. The aforementioned "cursory inspection" had failed to discover a cut in the sidewall of my tire. It was only in the final 10 or so miles that I noticed the front tire seemed to be a bit soft. I figured it was simply a "light fill" thanks to a Co2, but upon returning to transition, I indeed had second flat.  Had it blown on the descent, I might still be out in the woods. 

Knowing I had lost HUGE chunks of time to the boys up-front, I figured on making it just a training day and set out to run a solid 13.1 to get the "race benefit" I came for. The Rev3 course designers didn't deal us an "easy" hand and the run course had many ups and downs as well. I wouldn't say I was "happy" with my 1:20 run split, particularly when compared to the 1:13 of Richie (L-E-G-I-T! on that course), but it wasn't far off from some of the other top finishers, so I will take the progress and say I was content. 

Finishing dead last sucks. Straight up. But all in all I can't really say I was too upset with the way I raced on Sunday. Even prior to crashing out of Cozumel last year, I have always had a rule to finish so long as it is medically sound to do so. Cozumel was a terrible experience and not being able to finish was far more painful than the separated shoulder. Knowing I was well out of the race on Sunday after my mechanical issues, I momentarily thought of pulling the plug. I thought of my rule, and of the feeling I had in Cozumel and opted to keep on pushing. My dead least finish notwithstanding, I can confidently say I made the right decision and am content with my race. 

The remainder of the week was spent doing some course recon for Ironman Wisconsin. I will post some photos and thoughts garnered from that experience next week.