Monday, May 16, 2011

Race Report: Florida 70.3

Well the my first race of 2011 is FINALLY in the books.  It was not the race I wanted, but it was the first race, and the "ring rust" has been knocked off.  Here's a short recap of how the day unfolded. 

Swim: We were greeted race morning with lightning, thunder and some pretty heavy rain. When I got to transition, everyone was huddled under any shelter they could find.  There definitely was some question in my mind as to whether we would be swimming.  It was pretty cold with the wind and rain, and since they had told us we wouldn't be allowed to warm up in the water, a warm up run seemed a little pointless as I would then be standing around after and get cold again.  But I did manage a short jog, some strides and skips before heading tot he water. The storm passed as we waited and we started 40 minutes late.  Which from the picture below, you can see was probably a good thing since it was taken right about the original time we were to start. 

I used to love beach starts after growing up surfing and doing Jr. Lifeguards, but in the pro ranks, they are not exactly my favorite.  This is particularly so when the water is roughly shin-knee deep for a good 50 meters before you can swim.  Not being the tallest bloke in the world, I wasn't able to get my feet out and over the water like the taller guys were and I fell back a bit from those who would form the front pack chasing Potts and Kahn. 

Unfortunately this left me about 20 meters behind this pack for the majority of the swim. On the home leg however, I did my usual head on run in with a buoy, pushed it to the side and swam on.  A few strokes later I realized some Disney lifeguards on a boat were yelling at me.  I realized they were telling me I had to go back.  Reluctantly, and with a few words to them that they were wrong, I swam back to the buoy and went around it with it on my left shoulder.  To be clear, this was not a turn buoy, it was like the 3rd to last buoy, and I was gaining no advantage by passing it on my right, certainly not after running dead into it.  Almost every race I have been to has said we could swim on either side of the buoys and only had to round the corner buoys on a certain shoulder.  Either way, my 20m gap to the pack was gone, and I swam the rest of the way solo... and pissed.

Bike:  Here is where things went from "not so great" to "pretty pathetic."  Once out on the course I tried to settle into my pace and develop a rhythm to move along, and gain some spots back from my poor swim.  For some reason however, I just couldn't get my legs going for the first 25 miles or so.  I was passed by a few guys and they simply rode away from me.  It pains me to do so, but I will readily admit, that I had a little bit of a mental breakdown and pity party for myself from miles 15-20.  This is probably the thing I am most upset with about my race.  Plain and simple that cannot happen. Mental toughness has always been "there" for me and frankly, I was not "in the race" for those miles.  A huge and unacceptable error on my part.  Finally, when fellow Specialized US Tri Team member Jimmy Archer caught me, I told myself to stick with him if it killed me. It didn't and a few miles later my legs began to come good.  I thought I may be able to salvage a descent ride on the day, but it was too little too late.  I averaged some disgustingly low watts for the ride, actually the lowest I have averaged for any half ironman distance since I began racing and training with power. Not a good day.

Run:  Going into this race only running for half of the last three months, I was unsure how I would be able to manage on the run.  After the Las Cruces camp, I knew I could get through it, I just didn't know how fast, or if it would devolve into an ugly slow jog/walk.  The heat, humidity and the reputation of this being a tough run course with 3 miles of uneven grass running,  I was even less confidant. Surprisingly, the run turned out to be the lone somewhat bright spot on the day.  I was passed early on by Andrew Hodges who I know can run, and I just did my best to keep him as close as possible.  I made my way through the run, feeling strong for most of it and picked up a few spots along the way.
End of Lap 1

Heading out for the 3rd and final lap
 Again however, it was too little too late, and while I picked up one more spot a little after the mile 12 marker, try as I might I couldn't catch the last guy for a top 10 finish.  I brought it home as hard as I could, but he was able to stay a few seconds ahead of me going into the shoots and when I knew it was a lost cause, I relaxed.


 I ended up running a mid 1:21, which might not sound that great, but was right there with the bulk of the guys times ahead of me. The fastest runs on the day were by Kriat

So It was not a great day, but on the first race of the season, I understand it is tough to put a blinder together. So I will lick my wounds, get back to work, and focus on the next one, Hawaii 70.3.

A huge THANK YOU to all my sponsors, Zoot, Specialized, Reynolds,, PVBC, PowerBar, and Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP. Without your support, fantastic products, getting my bike tuned and all my gear ready for race day, this would certainly not be possible for me.  A big thank you also goes out to all those who read this blog, follow along on my dream chasing, and offer support and encouragement along the way.  It is greatly humbling and appreciated.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Yesterday I arrived safely and without incident in Orlando, Florida, as did my support crew (a.k.a. Mom).  I got in a quick shake out run with a little thunder, lightning, and rain for company.  It was actually quite nice given the obscenely dry conditions I have been in for the past five months living in the deserts of the American Southwest.  The thick and steamy air instantly reminded me of Kona. Oh, how I miss Kona. But I digress.

Tomorrow morning I finally get to kick off my 2011 season.  Excited, nervous, anxious, uncertain, etc... all the emotions and feelings are pulsing through me right now.  I'll feel better when the canon fires.

Thanks to all of you who have followed along, read this blog, offered advice, suggestions, or just support and encouragement as I battled my achilies injury and the lack of fitness that resulted. It meant a great deal to me.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

3rd Times a charm

The third camp with The Triathlon Squad has come to and end and my main goals for the camp were accomplished successfully. Namely, to make it all the way through camp; a) without injury and b) without missing a workout.  I knew coming off injury that these goals were important to the progression of my season, and also knew that I could not cling to them too tightly and risk falling back into the denial that lead to the aggravation of my achilies injury in the first place.  As much as I wanted to accomplish both (a) & (b) above, I made a deal with myself that if something felt "off," at any point in time, I would immediately let Paulo know about it, and take a break if need be. A "better safe than sorry" approach if you will.

I am happy to report that any resurgence of my achilies injury or the emergence of any other injury never came to pass.  The four weeks in Las Cruces flew by and I got the work, all the work, done.  That is not to say there weren't some "failed" workouts, where the numbers, splits, or paces called for were not hit, but the workouts were "completed" to the best of my ability.

Going into the camp, I knew my most difficult, and also the most important task, was to get my "running legs" back under me.  After a six week break off my feet, this was a primary objective in my mind.  Fortunately, when I first arrived at camp, Paulo confirmed that we were like-minded in this goal.

As far as the running goes, I did get in some good mileage.  Some of the bigger weeks I have logged.  As in the first camp, there were no "crazy" workouts, no epic runs to recount the details of to you here.  Plain and simple it was just a solid four weeks of consistency.  At times I was drained to the point I thought I had nothing left to give.  Then the next workout would come off without a hitch.  The first time this happened I knew my body was responding. That I had reason to trust the method and the consistency thereof.  Just keep plugging along, getting the work done, and not looking towards the next workout, or the one after, but focusing on the now. Concentrating on the task immediately at hand, living in the moment.

If I had to point to only one element of training camp as being the singular aspect that makes them so effective, it would be just that.  A training camp, with a coach present, allows you to simply focus on what is immediately before you.  You need not worry about what is next, when, where or whatever else.  You simply show up, do the work prescribed, go home, eat, sleep and repeat the next day.  You simply trust the coach to handle the logistics of planning the time, location, duration, etc... of each workout.  It might not seem like much, but trust me, not having to concern yourself with, and not having to spend the mental energy thinking about the details and logistics of the next session makes things MUCH easier.

So the third camp is in the books and I am beyond happy to report that it was a complete success.

I am now in Tucson, and thanks to the hospitality of friends Chris and Marilyn Mcdonald, enjoying the first few days of my taper week here on training grounds I know fairly well.   I will fly out of Phoenix on Friday to Orlando Florida where I will finally kick off my 2011 season at Ironman 70.3 Florida on Sunday.  To say I am excited would be a drastic understatement.