Monday, March 29, 2010

CA 70.3 Race Report

The morning didn't exactly go as smooth as I would have liked and I was running a little late to get in the water. But I made it, and despite my prediction that I would feel quite nervous swimming out to the line, I was pretty calm.

I took a spot way out on the right side of the lineup and waited for the gun. It fired & off we went
swimstart.jpg picture by mikelsonian

Swim: 25:02
Due to my somewhat conservative start position I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the start went. Not much contact and soon I found myself in open water and began moving left toward the feet of the pack. Soon I also realized that my start position had left me back of where I wanted to be. So just before the turn, I worked my way through 2 packs of swimmers, and after the turn was able to pick up a few more spots. I came out of the water in just under 25 which was a 2min improvement from last year. Pretty happy with that. I felt super strong on the 2nd half and my new Zoot Zenith was INCREDIBLE! The shoulder flexibility in that thing is INSANE! In the last couple hundred meters I was able to shed some of the guys off my feet and came in with a little gap.
SwimEx.jpg picture by mikelsonian

Bike = 2:25:02
As I mentioned I had been a little hurried in setting up transition. Well I had just left both my gel flasks (1 bike - 4 PowerGels, 1 run - 3 PowerGels) on the ground next to my run shoes. I don't take anything off the ground in T1 so of course, about 2min into the ride I realized I had forgotten my flask, and thus, about 80% of my fuel for the ride. Out the window went my fueling plan. I was able to grab a PoweGel at the 1st aid station, and one at the 2nd, but the rest of the ride was gatorade, and that definitely had me running a bit low at times. I forced myself to ration the gels, taking one at mile 26 or so and one before the final big climb. The ride itself went pretty well, I was caught by some guys early on and didn't push to stay with them knowing my fuel situation and the hills that lay ahead. From about mile 25 through the final climbs, I found myself with fellow Blue rider Trevor Wurtelle and a couple other guys. Nicholas Thompson caught us after some of the hills and the dude was hammering. I have never seen someone ride a bike with such aggressive pedal stokes. Dude rides ANGRY. My plan was to ride a little conservative through the climbs, so on all the flats and downhills I would go off the front of our group, then get reeled in on the climbs. I am sure those guys were annoyed with me for that. But after the final climb I had planned to give it what I had left and that is what I did. I hammered pretty hard from the last climb home and the Triad was awesome. I am continually impressed with this bike every time I ride it. The power transfer is incredible. Fortunately my plan worked and I was able to pull away from those guys and give myself a little cushion into T2.
Run = 1:21:36
I had hoped to run under 1:20. That has been my goal since running 1:20:01 at Clearwater. However, I think the wind on the back side of Pendleton took more out of everyone this day and was the reason that the course was about 7-8min slower this year. So when I saw that Michael Realart ran a 1:17:xx I wasn't so upset with my 1:21. But still, the run needs work and you best believe the Dirkinator knows it. I felt relatively good going out and all the way through the first lap.
Run1.jpg picture by mikelsonian
I was caught by one guy and was able to gather myself, and retake him shortly thereafter. But when Nicholas Thompson came by it was all I could do to hold on for the 2nd half of the first lap then watch him run away. Onto the second lap I knew I had some work to do to stay ahead of some guys.
Just before the turn around Trevor Wurtelle caught me and I couldn't answer. On the boardwalk I traded wind breaking duties with Mike Neil but he was able to put a gap on me up the final little incline. It was almost a good thing though, because since I wasn't battling with him to the line, I was able to stop and give my mom a Birthday hug and kiss and thank her for her support.
I was also able to see the Dirkinator himself just before the line and get a high five and a hug. Greg Welch had to tell me it would be a good idea to get across the line.

Total = 4:15:28 and I was happy with that. It was an 8min improvement over last year, not as big as I wanted, but I will take top 15 in my first pro race against that high profile of a field.

I waited at the finish for Charisa and we celebrated our first pro finishes.
Cfinhug.jpg picture by mikelsonian

We even got a few "Congrats" from the Coach

All in all it was an incredible weekend. I owe a huge "Thank You" to many who made it possible including Zoot for putting me in the most high performance products on the market, Blue Competition Cycles for letting me ride a bike that will do battle with the best of em, for feeding us on Friday, for some incredible cheering and for being the one stop shop for all I need to get me to and through race day; and PV Bicycle Center for fitting me to my awesome bike and especially to Dave for keeping it running in top shape.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Time is Near

No turning back now!
Ford Ironman 70.3 California Preview
Saturday morning, I will enter the water with the likes of Matt Reed, Rasmus Henning, Michael Realart, Tim O'Donnell, etc... the list goes on. For a LONG TIME. At the wee bottom of that list is my name. With a # 36 next to it. My first race in the professional ranks will, despite the chili waters be a baptism by fire with some of the biggest names in the sport! But this is what I signed up for right? The chance to challenge myself against the best there is, to race from the sound of the 1st gun, at the front of the race, up with the big boys. I think of all my emotions, excitement reigns supreme.

A few years ago I was a 225lb fat law student, then I found this sport that has brought me the greatest challenges, moments of exhilaration, feelings of accomplishment and friends I could ever imagine. This is the next step, see what the pro game is about and test/push myself further. I am prepared to struggle, I am prepared to SUFFER, and through that I hope to learn more about myself and continue the awesome journey and experience that triathlon has proven to be. A big Thank You to all who have helped me along the way, big or small, it has all been appreciated.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Dinner was SERVED last night
In fact this has been my dinner several nights in the last 2 weeks. I happen to have a few incredible friends, Charisa and Kevin, who both happen to not only be equally incredible athletes, but also vegetarians. Both will eat eggs, and Kevin will eat fish (one of us owes the other sushi but I have lost track through all our race bets). When Charisa and I went out to the Biscay Desert Oasis and Day Spa for our training camp, I basically opted to eat what Charisa was eating as we were cooking our meals together and it was way easier that way. I did sneak in my mandatory smoked salmon, but that was it meat wise for 4 days. But we did have eggs. And a variation of the picture above.

I have been all over this meal lately for several reasons: 1) its healthy, 2) its filing and 3) its easy. Just a whole bunch of veggies, egg whites and some spices. BASIC!

Last night it was: cabbage, zucchini, spinach, onions, bell peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and carrots with 3 egg whites. Delish! It also satisfies my seemingly boundless appreciation for "breakfast for dinner."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Edit: Add to the list of tragic events, the hit & run involving Jordan Rapp on March, 23rd.

Jordan lost between 2 & 3 liters of blood while laying on the side of the road. The subhuman that hit him, left him there in that condition! Thoughts and wishes with Jordan and it reinforces the need for the utmost safety and awareness on our part.

Lately there has been alot of noise being made about that mouthpiece Tony Kornheiser and his comments re running cyclists down with his car, and the resulting pathetic excuse for an apology and appearance of Lance on his show. Combined with the tragic stories of Adam Little and Katerine Chezick, I began to think about my own personal safety and that of my friends while out training. Aside from being alert (leave your i-pods at home) riders and runners, and being cognizant of the fact that we are but mere specks compared to cars and thus must give them the benefit of the doubt at each instance, we can't do much else to help ourselves out.

However, we can help the first responders and medical professionals who we may need to come to our aid. Enter Yikes ID

Yikes ID is a company that has created a unique notification system geared particularly towards cyclists and triathletes. Yikes ID makes Identification tags similar to the popular Road ID tags. However, Yikes offers a much wider range of products that make it much easier to actually use the product. In addition to a metal/nylon wrist bracelet, Yikes ID makes a shoe tag, a bike tag, and a helmet tag. The picture above is a close up of the helmet tag pictured here along with the shoe tag and bike tag:
As you can see, Yikes ID has you covered on all bases! I have been using the products for months now and don't even realize they are there. That is the beauty of the system. You don't have to remember it every time you head out the door. I have enough to worry, think, pack and remember when I head out for a ride, run or brick session. Thankfully, Yikes ID has removed one item from that list. I have the seat tag on my bike, I have the helmet tag and the shoe tag, all in place, and I don't need to think about it.

Yikes makes their ID tags in many different sizes and colors with up to 5 lines of engraved information. These are also a great idea for those of you with kids. Put the tags on their shoes, helmets and bikes and know the medical professionals will have the information they need and will contact you ASAP! Check them out and stay safe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Training & Racing Tool

I own, or kind of own (it is on an extended loan right now), a Garmin 405. While it was a fine training tool, I found that it's value was limited. At least with regard to training for triathlon or for an Ironman in particular, that is.

First off, it wasn't waterproof and while some people did swim with theirs, the few times I accidentally jumped in the shower with it on, the water made the touch bezel freak out, which left me less than confident that a swim was safe territory. Secondly, when using it for long bike rides, I found the battery life would often come up short. If I had a long ride and a run on tap, it was a one or the other situation. Another issue was its size, don't get me wrong, I understand and appreciate Garmin's effort to make the unit small and as unobtrusive as possible. But the small screen, with 3 data fields, was pretty hard to read at times, particularly when going 20+ mph on a bike. Finally, given the water issues, battery life issues, screen size and the time it took to link to satellites, it was no good for racing triathlon.

Well the folks at Garmin have addressed those issues and done so in quite good fashion in my opinion, with this new unit.
I picked up a new Garmin 310XT at, and after time to give it a good test out in AZ, it has proved itself pretty awesome. It solves all the issues I had with the 405. Its H2Oproof, its got insane battery life, the screen is big enough to easily read up to 4 data fields and yet it still manages not to make you feel like your running with a microwave strapped to your wrist. The satellites link ultra quick allowing you to leave it in transition, turned off and then quickly turn it on and have it sync before you are out on the bike or run. The 310XT is also Ant+ compatible so if you have a powermeter that also is, you can have it display a power field on the watch. In the triathlon race mode it will switch from your custom race data fields for the bike to run in the push of one button. I haven't had the time to figure out all its functions, but I am thoroughly impressed thus far. So, if you're in the market, and if you don't have the 310XT already, I suggest you put yourself in the market, hit up and get yourself one. Use my coupon code IMIKE-S for 10% off. Every little bit helps.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wrapped Up

I had the intention of updating each day of the Tucson Training camp. As you can see, that didn't happen. The workouts left me pretty smashed every night and all the energy I had was spent cooking dinner and foam rolling my aching legs.

So here is a quick re-cap (ok not so quick, but lots of pictures so it should even fit in your limits D)

Day 2:
We started off on the bikes and headed out to Gates Pass. This was a ride I had heard much about from the crew and it lived up to the hype. A nice steady climb got us to this spot and view.
Once down the descent behind us, we got into some really cool rolling roads and cactus fields as far as the eye could see. As this was one of our few mellow rides, it was also one of the few times we had to really take in the scenery, instead of concentrating on hammering and trying not to puke.

Apparently Arizona is suffering from similar economic problems as California and has adopted the "furlough Fridays" plan. This lead to the closing of the city pools, and our driving around Tucson while trying to iPhone-discover a place to swim. A call to led us to the local YMCA and the swim got done, albeit later than desired. This meant our evening track workout came a little later too, but the sunset behind the mountains was worth it.

Day 3:
Our morning began with a German lesson from a coffee machine. In an extreme showing of generosity, Hillary Biscay had let us squat at her Desert Casa while she and Maik (aka the GCM) were off racing Abu Dhabi. Hillary and I grew up in the same town, and she swam with my brother and sister so its an old family connection. Anyway, earlier this year Maik persuaded/earned himself a rather spectacular coffee machine like those he is used to back in Germany. However, it speaks German. We almost called Dirk to translate, but we knew he was busy with work. So instead, Google Translator came to the rescue and we had a couple insanely good cups of coffee to amp us up for the bike intervals that lay ahead. Out over Gates Pass again, and we found this long piece that was perfect. Here is the before:
The intervals went well for both Charisa and I, or at least right up until the climb out of the valley in her case, I think my "extra reserves" helped me out as at the end I felt like this:
And Charisa... Not. So. Much. This is her trying to convince me that ate enough not to bonk:
There was a swim after this ride, and I did NOT feel strong/good/human. The pool was hot and the whole time I had images of a hot dog floating in boiling water running through my head. I was happy to be out.
Day 4: We finally had an easy run on the schedule so we were able to hit the trails.
It was a beautiful morning and I now have a newfound appreciation for the desert landscape.
Following that was a 4hr "spin-out the legs" ride and this was my view almost the entire time
Aside from not getting to hang with them, the other bummer about Hillary and Maik being gone was that we stuck to the known/well established training areas and definitely missed out on some gems that only local knowledge could show us. I can't wait to go back and try and hold onto the German Pain Train all across the desert and see what it really has to offer.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tucson Training Camp 2010

Day 1 is in the books.

The morning started with a shockingly cold drive to the pool. An interesting outdoor, but covered, and warm, situation going on there. Thats me.
A solid swim was followed up with a run in and around the park/golf course/dog obedience school/Zoo/Colorado Rockies practice facility. Yes. Truly a one stop shop.

Charisa and I took a little tour of the town to visit the local co-op health food store (think whole foods without departing with your "whole paycheck".

After some lunch and some rest it was onto the bikes. We rode to the top of this hill a few times, got some strange looks from people wondering just how many times these idiots would go up and down. But it was a good time. Once the hill repeats were done it was time to head home and cook some of the grub we picked up at the hippy-op.

I must admit. Not having to squeeze 4hrs of training in between 8hrs of office time, while not making the "training" any easier, sure makes the day much less stressful and manageable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Season Opener RR

Last weekend I kicked off my 2010 triathlon season out in Palm Desert at the Toyota Desert International Triathlon. As the week progressed it began to look like we might confront some rain on race day which I wasn't too excited about. I was hoping it would rain on Saturday and clear by Sunday, but as I made my way out on Saturday that wasn't the case.

T3 Performance Multisports was making its team debut at this race and Trish really stepped up to the plate putting on an awesome pre race dinner and breakfast for the whole crew (with fresh Kona Coffee of course). She also threw together a perfect post race DRY gathering and feasting spot with the help of another spectahlete/ T3er sister who may have gained honorary membership with her performance out in the desert.

Fortunately, the rain held off long enough that race morning and transition set up was dry.
Swim: 15:47
This was about a minute faster than I swam last year, and while you never can tell with swim courses from year to year, I'll take it as a sign the big swim weeks and masters is paying off.

Bike: 57:13
Despite only having about 1.5hrs on the new Blue Triad, I went against the old "nothing new on race day" advice and took her out for a test run. About 2mi in the rain started and it didn't let up the rest of the day. It was cold, and my feet immediately decided they had enough and went to sleep. Even with the rain I still managed to bike two minutes faster than last year. The new bike and fit were great. There is definitely some "getting used to" still to be done, but given the circumstances and race conditions, I think its a good sign. I ended up with the second fastest bike split on the day, with my buddy Thomas taking the top notch.

Run: 33:23
I came off the bike not knowing exactly what place I was in but given there were some Collegiate swimmers in the group, I thought I had a few to catch. Turned out Thomas' bike had gotten him to the pointy end, and there was one other between us. Sean told me I was a little over a minute down out of T2, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. I came out of T2 with another collegiate guy who was setting a pretty good pace. Maybe I was stuck in my long course racing mind set, but I thought I could let him go a little, wait till I had some feeling in my feet and then I could find my rhythm and reel him back in.
Well, my feet didn't come back around till after the first loop and given its only a 6mi run, that strategy came back to bite me. I caught Thomas a little after the first loop, and set my focus on reeling in 1st place. I was able to close the gap some, but the guy plain out ran me and all credit goes to him. The results called it a 5:22 pace, but I can't believe that so I think the course is a little short. I need the long stuff!
Total: 1:48:41
That is a little over 4mins faster than last year, and improvement was made in all 3 disciplines so I will take it. 1st "Elite" and 2nd Overall. I was happy with it.
Charisa came out and bettered her time as well, but, as usual, we had a little wager in play. We both were tasked with beating the overall winning time from last year. We are heading out to Tucson, AZ tomorrow for a 5 day training camp and I will be enjoying a nice, well deserved bowl of ice cream on the final night, which will be made all the tastier as it will be on Mrs. Wernick's dime.

Steven was an all star photographer/spectathlete again (what else is new?). And got some awesome pics while braving the rain crouched under an umbrella. Check out Charisa's blog to see a sampling.

T3 had a pretty damn good debut if I do say so myself. As a group, we took the men's and women's elite and the mens 30-34 (Jason May) titles. We also had a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th for the rest of the crew in various age groups. Our first race and our lowest finish a 6th. I'd say its a good start to 2010.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sponsor Update

Ok, so I know I have been slacking on the updating this week, but it hasn't been for the normal reason that nothing exciting is happening. In fact, its been just the opposite. So without further ado, I want to rave about two of my sponsors for the 2010 season.

Blue Competition Cycles has graciously brought me on board for the 2010 season and has given me the opportunity to ride their TT/triathlon speed machine, the Triad. I met the guys from Blue out at Coeur d' Alene last year. Some of you may have seen the issue of Triathlete Magazine last year when they had the series of photos with custom painted themed bikes, well the Triad was the Nascar bike and it caught my eye right away. I had been very interested in the bike ever since. Fortunately I got the opportunity to demo the Triad earlier this year and all the things I had heard about the bike were confirmed. It is an awesome ride. Much is made about weight and aerodynamics in the bike world and companies make claims and throw numbers at us all day long. But few stand behind their bikes like Blue does. Not only are they an American company with exceptional customer service, but if you purchase the Triad SL (the Bike Andreas Realart rode to 3rd place at Kona this year), you get a free hour of wind tunnel time on their dollar. Wind tunnel rates are NOT cheap, but the fact that Blue will put you in there and give you the numbers, shows they believe 100% in their bike. I do too.

Above is a picture of my new rig just hours after it was delivered to the boys at Palos Verdes Bicycle Center. Dave expertly built it up lickety split and it was ready to roll that evening.
The picture above is the bike assembled replicating my old position. After a test ride, I was back up at PVBC for a fitting with Steve to work on that position. I had never had a "real" fit. Just some adjustments made here and there based on how I thought I "should" be positioned and comfort. Steve opened my eyes to a whole new world with the Specialized Body Geometry fit system. I have never been one to be too impressed by gadgetry, but this system is AWESOME. I was blown away at the thoroughness employed. Numerous physical measurements were taken, flexibility and anatomical characteristics were noted, injury history reviewed, all this and I hadn't even gotten on the bike yet. Steve uses a computrainer, motion capture video, various computer screens, and numerous measuring tools to fine tune the fit. It was impressive and informative to see in real time, independent pedal efficiency, power output throughout the pedal stroke, power, etc... Once we started making changes, being able to see the effect of those changes, and judge them not only in light of the numbers reflected, but to analyze the position relative to my physical/anatomical numbers and limitations was incredibly valuable and inspired a great deal of confidence in the decisions we made. I really think this system (that Specialized has spent mucho $$ developing and uses with its top athletes) takes some of the uncertainty out of a bike fit. That is to say that I feel that in many instances, a bike fit depends greatly on the fitter. While this remains true, the Specialized system removes some margin for error with the data and feedback that it provides. Granted you still need to find a trained and skilled fitter, but one who uses the system is a great start. Steve at Palos Verdes Bicycle Center certainly fits that bill (pardon the pun). He even teaches the system to other Specialized dealers. So, if your in the LA/South Bay area, or even if your not, and your in need of a bike fitting, make an appointment at Palos Verdes Bicycle Center.

I took some very poor pictures to try and depict the fitting room, but it doesn't nearly capture the full effect. I mean, this fit produced a 4 page fit sheet with 18 "before and after" motion capture shots. Its high tech and detailed. And worth every penny in my humble opinion.

I feel extremely fortunate and I am beyond excited to be racing with the support of both these fantastic companies as sponsors in 2010. It is truly humbling and I hope to do them proud.