Monday, July 22, 2013

Ironman Racine 70.3- Race Report

I approached this race a little different than I have other races in the past. I just got back from a 6 week work trip 2 weeks ago, and I haven't been too happy with the workouts I'd been getting in since. I have been running well, but I haven't been really able to figure it out in the pool the last few weeks. I also switch bikes from a Cervelo P3 to a QR Illicito. I am thrilled to start working with QR. I had my first ride on the Illicito on Tuesday! I was able to get fit onto the bike really quickly, and I absolutely love the bike, but I was a little nervous about racing on a bike after only 3 rides. I wasn't able to get my Quark put on the Illicito being it had a different size bearing than what came on it and all of the bike shops in Iowa are booked solid with RAGBRAI. At the beginning of the week, I had decided that I was going to just train through the day and use the race as a training day for Kona. I had a few longer workouts Tuesday through Thursday, and finally had a good swim on Friday.

My wife and I didn't leave for the race until Saturday. I actually started getting really nervous during athlete check-in. My wife could tell something wasn't right and asked me what was going on. I told her I was trying to decide if I made the right choice. I had a really good race at Racine last year, and wanted to see how I could do with a better fitness level this year. On the other hand, I didn't taper into the race at all. After I got checked in, got some dinner, hit up the outlet mall (my wife's favorite place!), and returned to the hotel, I still hadn't figured out my plan for the next morning. I was still trying to decide how to approach the race.

Swim: 28:38
T1: 2:51
Bike: 2:15:45
T2: 1:10
Run: 1:13:27
Overall: 4:01:51- 1st AG, 1st Amateur, 9th OA

Race Morning

I woke up at 4:15, had my typical pre-race breakfast and left the hotel. We stayed about 25 miles away from Racine, so I didn't arrive to Transition until about 5:15, much earlier than I needed to but my wife was volunteering at the race. I had plenty of time to get my gear set up, make a trip back to the car to drop off my bag, and make a trip (or two) to the bathroom before making my way to race start. I was wave 21 so I didn't start until over an hour after the pro wave. The Racine course has about a mile walk from transition to the swim start. I took my time and got my head right for the day. As I walked along the beach, I could see how choppy the water was. The waves were looking pretty nasty. I had struggled previously in races whenever there was choppy water so I started to get a little nervous. I stopped and found a quiet spot on the beach 1/4 mile from the start right as the Pros were running out to start. I don't really know how long I sat there, but I was able to get focused. I decided that I wasn't going to think during the race at all, I was just going to push: Swim hard, bike hard, and run hard and just see what happened. I said a quick prayer, got in the water for a warm up, re-adjusted my goggles about 10 times, then got in line for the race start.  


Like I said before, the water was extremely choppy. I had watched a few waves start and remembered from last year how far the sand bar went out. I got off to a decent start, but as soon as I actually dove into the water to start swimming I started to struggle a bit. Swimming against the waves was tough. It was really difficult to sight, but I could see that I was in the middle of the pack of the green caps, which wasn't where I wanted to be. I just couldn't find a rhythm. I started to get a little frustrated, then remembered what my motto for the day was going to be. I tried to focus on just swimming hard. I finally got to the first turn so the waves were hitting me from the side. They seemed to calm down a bit in the deeper water, but I got quite a few mouthfuls of water as I tried to breath. It was hard to see the buoys but thankfully there was a big crane straight off in the horizon that made swimming straight a little easier. I was able to find some feet and actually draft off of another swimmer for a bit, something I have struggled to do in the past. I swam through quite a few of the waves of swimmers that started ahead of me. There were a lot of people holding onto the boats and treading water due to the choppy water.  I got to the second turn headed back to shore thinking that it would be a quick swim to the finish.The waves would throw you quickly forward, then it felt as if they were sucking you back. It was tough to know when to stop swimming because you would be in 6 feet of water at the top of the wave and 2 feet at the bottom. I butterflied a few times, then ran into transition.


This race had a long beach run into transition. I quickly found my legs and ran to the volunteers helping out with the wetsuits. I lucked out and I got into my wife's line so she got to play another role in my race day! I quickly found my bike area, threw on my helmet and started running toward the bike out. 


The start of the bike course is probably the hardest part of the whole bike leg. There is a short but decent incline just after the mount line. I ran through bike out with a pretty large group of people so it was a bit of a cluster at the mount line. I ran past the line a few feet and moved to the far left to mount. I got up the little hill and rode almost a half mile before I actually put my feet into my shoes. I finally got settled in and started to ride. I didn't use my power meter for this race, so I was going somewhat blind. I just stuck with the theme for the thinking, just racing. I pushed pretty hard for the first five miles, then settled in trying to keep as much pressure on the pedals as I could. I spent the entire race dodging in and out of the other AG competitors. It was frustrating at times, because they were often riding 4 wide. Definitely a drawback of starting at the end of the race. I was able to sling shot around a few of them, but the turns were congested and I had to break quite a few times to avoid crashing or running into oncoming traffic. The road surfaces were pretty bad...I think I have a case of shaken future baby syndrome after that ride. There was a sign that said "Bump" about 30 miles into the was about 30 miles late! That being said, the course was flat and the wind was low. You could maintain speed well and really push on the course without beating up your quads too much. 

I rode my new Illicito for the ride with Hed 90 wheels. I was felt really comfortable on the new ride. The DI2 was awesome! I actually shifted a lot more than I normally would have because I didn't have to worry about throwing the chain or waiting for the gear to switch. I carried all of my nutrition for the course with me so I didn't have to worry about the aid stations. I filled up a Profile Design aero bottle and another bottle with my Custom Infinit blend, a third bottle with Gu Roctane, and had a flask with Infinit Highly Caffeinated Napalm. I went through everything that I brought with me, finishing the final drinks of the Roctane right before I turned to go down hill to T2. I ended up riding about 3 minutes faster than my previous PR for a 70.3 course and was the fastest in my AG. The weather was perfect for a ride!


Not much interesting here, I had a pretty seamless T2. I dropped off my bike, threw on my Zoots and grabbed my glasses and visor and ran to the run out. 


The run was pretty flat overall with a few short hills that you can just punch up. I ran really consistent splits. My fastest mile was mile three with a 5:28, my slowest mile was mile 10 with a 5:50. I hadn't looked at my watch really at all, so I had no idea what overall time I was shooting for, I just wanted to put up a good run split. My legs felt really good, I really didn't have to fight to maintain my pace until about mile 8. It was a little frustrating to have to dodge people to get nutrition at the stations, especially on the second lap. The volunteers were great and were working hard which really helped. It was also nice that a lot of the people who lived on the course brought out their hoses and would spray you down as you ran by. The weather stayed pretty decent and I never really struggled to control my temperature. I took water at the first aid station, Perform at the second, then just stuck with water for the rest of the course. I carried a flask of Infinit Highly Caffeinated Napalm with me for the run and took a swig every 3 miles so didn't really want any more sugar. I felt great and didn't cramp at all. I ended up running the fastest run split on the day (barely!).

Great day on for!

Overall, I was really happy with the race. The day went with as little friction as possible. I am really getting my nutrition dialed in and am learning a lot about when and how hard to push. I have a few races before Kona, but everything from here on is meant to help me prepare for the big day. It is going to be a tough 12 weeks!

**Still waiting for a few pics, but wanted to get this up while I was thinking about it! I'll update soon.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lifetime Tri Minneapolis- Race Report

Wow, what a day. Woke up at 5:15 to a thunderstorm. I checked the race announcements and they had no firm update yet so my wife and I got ready to go and left the hotel around 5:30. The Elite Wave was supposed to start at 7:14, so I was a little behind where I wanted to be but with the weather the way it was, I wasn't worried. Parking for the event was atrocious. There was no parking lot of any kind, only street side parking. We parked about a mile away from transition. I think my parents parked over two miles away. By the time I got my bike to the transition, it was 6:00 and they were just opening transition.

I got my station set up then played the waiting game. I left the house on Tuesday and spent some time with the in-laws before heading up to Minneapolis. I looked at the weather and tried to pack light...needless to say I didn't bring any rain gear. I was freezing as I was waiting for an announcement about what was going to happen. I used my wetsuit as a umbrella/jacket for a while. Finally they let us know they were going to shorten the race to the sprint distance due to flooding on the course and the race would start at 9:00. I decided that I needed a little harder warm up being it was a shorter course. I ran the mile back to the truck to let my wife know what was going on with the race, then ran pretty hard back. Around 8:50, I jumped into the water and swam for a few minutes before the National Anthem.

The water was warm, so it was a no wetsuit race. I was freezing when I got out of the water to wait for my start. Being it was only a 400 meter swim, I didn't even bother with the speed suit either. At the starting corral, they told us that the Elite wave would also be starting in a time trial format which was a change from the original plan. The start crept up on my really quickly and I wasn't mentally ready for the short 400 meter sprint swim. I ran in the water quickly, dove in and quickly swam up on the group of two that started 2 seconds before me. The water was murky and I didn't really see them at all. I ran into them and tried to scoot around them but ended up getting out of the draft line. I really never got back into it. I got beat up a little at the 200 meter turn and struggled through the last 200 meters. I wasn't happy about the swim at all.

I ran through T1 pretty well. Everything went smoothly and I jumped on my bike right at the mount line. Despite everything going well, I was still one of the slower transitions out of people in the top 20. For shorter races, I need to start leaving my shoes on the bike and just grabbing my helmet and going. I'll start practicing that soon.

Because of the rain, my Power Meter was not working. I didn't really need it for pacing at all, but I have not rode all out for a 45 minute ride in a long time. I would have liked to have the data to see what kind of power I pushed. Anyway, the bike course was terribly bumpy. I think they found every pot hole in the city. I felt bad for my bike the entire time. There was a ton of drafting going on throughout the course. With the course being so short, there was not a lot of time for everyone to spread out. With about two miles left, I felt like I was fighting my bike. I was working harder than I should have been to move. I figured out I had a flat right at the end of the course. As I jumped off the bike, there were two guys in front of me who didn't have a clean dismount. They got in my way and slowed my down a bit heading into T2. I had a really clean T2 and out I went to the Run.

I felt pretty strong on the run. I hadn't ran a 5k in a long time. All of the training I have been doing has been geared towards Half and Full Ironman races. I was going to do a few Olympic races this year to use as speed training days. I didn't know how this run was going to go, especially with me have a very interrupted training schedule for the last seven weeks. I started picking off a few guys early on and it helped keep everything positive. I ended up running a 16:11 which was second fastest elite and 3rd fastest overall on the day.

Overall, I finished 7th. I was happy with the performance being it was so much different than I was expecting. This was my first experience with a Lifetime Tri event. They did a few things really well, but there was a lot about the race I wasn't impressed with. It is tough to judge overall whether the frustrations were because of the weather or other factors. It is always frustrating to pay for an Olympic race and have many people drop out because they shortened it up to the sprint. I did really like that they had the kids heat at the end. Every attempt to grow the sport is important.
This guy may have beat me, but I made him work for it! He finished a few seconds ahead of me.

My wife and I stayed overnight and ran the Color Run 5K which was at the State Fair Grounds. I had never done the event, but it was fun. I like events that get so many people out and moving. There were tons of people running/walking the event! We got to see some family on the way home as well! All-in-all an awesome, but tiring weekend!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wild Wolf Triathlon, Madrid Spain - Race Report

Well I am finally home from that marathon trip. It has taken a while to get back into the swing of things training wise as well as get caught up with everything else. I'm finally taking a minute to write a quick report of the Wild Wolf Olympic Triathlon that I jumped into on a whim while I was in Spain. It was a great experience and I am glad that I did it, but I definitely did not set myself up to try to perform well. I had no idea the race was being held until the night before. I did a long hill run the morning before the race being I didn't know I was going to race.

We left Cordoba and traveled to Madrid in the afternoon on Saturday where I had a bike waiting for me. I rented an aluminum Specialized roadie from Bike Spain. (It was the first time I ever rode a roadie!) When I was picking up the bike I saw a flyer for the race and asked about it. The guy at the Bike Shop told me to just go over and see if they would let me in being the race registration was closed. I rode over to the Village and tried to find someone who spoke English well enough to help me. The lady I found was actually the race director. She was absolutely awesome! She bent over backwards to make sure I got registered and got my packet. Great service! By the time I got registered and back to the hotel, it was 9:00 and I hadn't had any dinner yet!

The next problem was gear. I didn't have anything with me besides my TriSports bike jersey, a pair of bike shorts, a water bottle, and some junkie road shoes that I traveled with. I rented a helmet with the bike and tried to buy some nutrition for the race. I couldn't find the Gu Roctane that I wanted to use on the bike course, but with no luck. I couldn't even pronounce the stuff I went with. I know they say nothing new on race day, but pretty much everything was new! I had never rode the bike that I was racing on before, never raced in a bike jersey or had to put on a jersey after the swim, and of course the new nutrition. I also had to put socks on being I didn't have my racing shoes, just my trainers. To top it off the race was a dive in start, something I had never done or practiced! Needless to say, I was racing this for a fun experience!

Pre Race Advice from Steve, one of the Faculty members I was traveling with!
Race morning I showed up WAY too early. I was nervous about all of the logistics of making everything work out, especially with the language barrier. It was a good thing too because it turned out that someone else had my same race number assigned to them. Trying to get that switched race morning was a bit of a hassle, but thankfully the lady I spoke with the night before was there to help. I also got some help for a guy who was working at the American Embassy. Everything worked out well. I even found a bench in the shade and took a nap before the race start.

Dive In Swim Start
I was in the third swim wave which was a bit unfortunate. They arranged the waves by age, so I was in the swim wave with the oldest third of the men's field. Since I registered late, that was the best they could do. I was fine with it. When it was my turn to start, I stood on the dock feeling a bit out of place (the older AGers staring at me didn't help either). I wasn't able to understand the announcer so I didn't really know when to get ready to dive in. The starting buzzer went off and I was a bit surprised. My dive into the water was half dive, half belly flop. I got off to a pretty good start despite not having access to a pool very often for the last few weeks. I was able to catch all of the wave two swimmers and many of the wave one swimmers. It was a little frustrating to have to swim around so many people, but like I said before it was all about the experience.

Dismount Line...Or at least I think that is what they guy was saying!
I had a slow T1 being I had to put socks and a bike jersey on. I grabbed my rental bike and was on the course. It was a little hilly but no huge climbs. I didn't know what to expect on the course being I hadn't seen any of it. It was a two loop course so I was able to ride a little harder the second half. I was definitely not comfortable on the roadie. My seat was too low and I really struggled to put anything on the pedals while climbing. I spent most of the up hills out of the saddle. I finished the bike pretty slow, at least 10 minutes slower than I would have on my bike on that course. Again, didn't bother me. I jumped off of the bike with a big smile on my face.

The run was pretty much as expected. I ran a 34 flat 10k, which was the fastest run of the field. It was different not being able to chit chat a bit as I was running with people, but I heard "muy rapido" a lot. I'll take it as a compliment. The run was completely flat and pretty well shaded from the sun. The bike and run took place in a beautiful park that is closed for traffic (it is where I did all of my training for the week after the race). I finished the race in 2:07, was 7th overall. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I am glad I was able to talk my way into my first International race and hope there are more in the near future!

Finished! Big thanks to Bethany (another Faculty member) for taking all of these pics!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Update

It has been a while since my last post so I figured I should throw out an update. I have been traveling for work for the last 5 1/2 weeks and will be returning home this coming Friday! A colleague and I led a student trip starting in Madrid, Spain and slowly worked our way down to Casablanca, Morocco. We sent the students home, then two more faculty members joined us and we are making essentially the same trip in reverse. It has been a great experience so far, but has definitely took me out of my training routine. 

Training wise, I started out the trip pretty low key. I was still recovering from IMTX, so I was just doing some light runs through the streets of Madrid. I found an Olympic sized pool in Madrid and was able to get a few swims in there as well. It was packed and I got in trouble for swimming "muy Rapido." Evidently I showed up at a time meant for slower swimmers, but didn't speak Spanish well enough to find that out until after the fact.

While still in Madrid, I was able to volunteer at the ITU triathlon. It just happened to be right down the street from my hotel. I was really bummed not to be able to compete in it, but it was great to see a different style of a race. 

As we made our way into southern Spain, I pretty much had to stick to running. We had a pretty tight schedule, and we were only in each city for one night. Pools and most gyms do not open in Spain until 9 or 10 so we were touring by the time most were open. I was able to find a good gym in Sevilla which had some spin bikes and opened at 7. Thankfully, we were there for a few days so I was able to get some good ride/run bricks in before we crossed into Morocco. 

I was able to swim in the Mediterranean once, but the water was extremely choppy. It was nearly impossible to find pools or gyms in Morocco. 

There are two mountain ranges which pass through Morocco, so the terrain was really hilly. This was especially the case in Chefchauen. What a beautiful city. The entire Medina (old part of the city) is painted blue. The hills are amazing there. We were there quite a few nights which made for some great training runs! It was always a reward to come up the final hill to see the city nestled in the side of the mountain. This was quite a change from running in Iowa. After this trip, I shouldn't have any excuses as to why I struggled up the hills in a race!

As we arrived back in Spain, it was more of the same. I found the same gym in Seville, and primarily ran the rest of the time until we got back to Madrid. I found a company called Bike Spain who rents out road bikes to tourists. I was able to rent a bike for the last week in Madrid. When I went to pick it up, I found out about a triathlon called the Wild Wolf Tri which again was right down the road from my hotel. I ran to the race site quickly and was able to talk myself into the sold out race! I had none of my gear with me, and a bike I'd never rode before, but I was going to be able to experience a Tri in Spain, so I figured what the heck! I'll do a separate post on the race once I get some pics that my fellow faculty members took of the event. 

We only have 3 nights left. I have access to a bike and a pool (for 7 Euros a day...) so it is closer to training as usual. I certainly miss my normal routine and excited to get back and get to work. I have two lower priority races coming up here in July that I will just train through. Still, I have some work to do to get back on track. Hopefully, it will come back quickly.