Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rev 3 Wisconsin Dells- Race Report

I was really excited for my first Rev 3 race. I had heard how well the races were run and I have been thinking about doing the Rev 3 series as a Pro next year. I wanted to see if all of the hype was true. I was also really excited about this race because my family was going to be there AND my sister, Liz, was going to do her first triathlon ever! About a year ago, I promised her I would do a race with her and this is the one we chose. She did great despite the tough course and monsoon during the bike. I think she is officially a Tri Addict!

Swim- 28:59 - 1st in AG, 4th Overall
T1- :55 seconds
Bike- 2:33:02 - 2nd in AG, 4th Overall
T2- ???
Run- 1:16:08 - 1st AG, 1st Overall

Ovearll- 4:19:04- 1st AG, 1st Overall

Race Morning
I got in late on Saturday night from AG nationals so I hadn't been able to register for the race yet. I am very thankful that the people at Rev 3 were willing to work with me so I could go to awards at AG Nats and still race. As soon as I found out I made the podium on Saturday, it took one phone call to and about 3 minutes to get everything set up. Awesome customer service! Anyway, I didn't get into town until around 9:00 and all of my gear was dirty and in mass array. I was a bit stressed to say the least and I am luck my family didn't kill me! I definitely let the sress get the best of me. Silly when I look back at it.

I needed to be at the expo at 5:15 to register. I didn't get much sleep the night before, so I wasn't looking forward to this at all. However, I thought this was going to be a race I could do well in so I wasn't going to let a lack of sleep for a few nights get in the way. The lady who helped me register was awesome and got me ready to go quickly. I got my transition area set up, then helped my sister with a few last minute things in her area then we just hung out for a bit. My wife was volunteering for the race in Transition so we got to chat a little before the race.

I got in the water a little earlier than I did the day before. I got nearly 15 minutes of swimming in before the national anthem. I wanted a little more time to warm up for this race being I raced hard on Saturday. I was feeling pretty good, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to go. After the warm up, I got in line for the time trial start. I wasn't really sure where to put myself but I ended up 4th in my AG to enter the water. I wanted to be in the front being I was thinking I wanted to go for the overall win.

I thought the swim went great. I swam up to one of the two who started right before me and just sat on his hip for the entire swim. I used him to sight off of and just focused on keeping my strokes long. I timed the turns well was able to steer around all of the people in the 40 plus AG wave who started before me. I really don't understand why so many races put the slower swim waves first. I would really like to see this changed at some point, but I guess it won't matter much to me for the next few years. I got out of the water and looked at my watch thinking I just killed the swim. I was a bit slower than I expected being I was able to swim with literally no interruptions the entire time. It may have been a bit long, many of the other athletes thought they should have been a bit faster as well.

My guess is I am thinking about food...

The run into transition was long and uphill. The path was smooth so it was really no big deal. I didn't realize how hard it was raining until after I got my wetsuit off. It went much better than Saturday and I grabbed my helmet and bike and ran out onto the course.

I definitely should have paid a little more attention to the race profile. I don't think the 11-23 cassette was the right choice for this course! Wow, I wasn't prepared for those hills. To add on, as soon as I started riding, the rain started coming down harder. I was in third overall leaving T1 and had moved into first after about 8 miles. It was pretty cool to have a police motorcycle as an escort for a few miles. There were quite a few technical spots on the course. The was a sharp turn about half way down the descent after the first big climb. I squeezed my breaks and felt my rear break cable go slack. I didn't really think about it until I got to the next climb and I could hear a squeal. I tried to ride through it but it felt like I was pulling a plow up the hills. I got to the top of the hill and jumped off the bike to see if I could adjust it so it wouldn't rub. No luck. It rubbed the for the remainder of the ride. Not only did I have to over power the break on the wheels, but I also had to listen to the squealing tire for 2 hours. Annoying!

I got passed by two guys that I had already passed. I really tried to push to hold the first guy in sight, but it was a no go. I could hang with them on the descents and flats, but I could not get any momentum going up the hills. The rain was pouring down, which may have helped reduce the friction on the rear wheel a bit. I downed my first bottle of Custom Infinit a little quicker than I expected. I re-filled my Aero bottle which lasted me through the rest of the course. I brought two bottles of Infinit, one bottle of water with a Gu Electrolyte tab in it, and a flask of Infinit Napalm and that was good for the course. I am really starting to get my nutrition plan dialed in and like that I can do a 70.3 without having to rely on aid stations.

This was my second ride on my Challenge Triathlon tires. I was really impressed with how well they handled in the water. There was even a one mile section of the course that was gravel. I was a bit worried when I came up on it being it was so soggy out. I didn't feel like I lost traction once and I really didn't have to slow down more than I normally would have to take the corners.  

I rolled into T2 having no clue how far back I was. I wasn't thrilled about the ride but I was happy to finally pull into T2. I really pushed up the hills to fight my brake and I knew I had a race the day before. I was a bit concerned that my legs weren't going to hold up for the run.

I have no idea how long this took, but I think it went really quickly. The timing mat didn't pick up my chip as I left the transition. My fingers were completely numb and I struggled to get my helmet un-clipped. I threw on my soaked shoes and grabbed my flask of Infinit Napalm and salt tabs and threw on my race belt. It had stopped raining by now pretty much, but I decided to leave my Timex visor and sun glasses in transition. The visor on my helmet kept fogging up and I didn't want to deal with that on the run. As I was running out of transition, I heard my dad tell me I was about 4 minutes behind the leader.

I absolutely loved this run course. It was a hillier course than I had run all year. Being a somewhat strong runner, I thought this would work to my advantage. I got into my groove quickly and felt pretty good. We were running with the OLY runners, so there were quite a few people on the first three miles of the course. The early aid stations were still fully stocked and the volunteers were working hard. I popped two salt tabs at mile one and took a shot of Napalm at mile 3. I was still a bit concerned about how much of a toll Saturday's race would have. As soon as I got past the OLY turn around I could see a runner about a quarter mile ahead of me. I thought he was the second place athlete. It took me about a mile to run him down. I couldn't see anyone else in front of me so I actually put in a 2 mile surge to try to bridge the gap. I asked one of the kids in the mile 5 aid station how far in front of me the other guy was. He said "um...pretty close..." so I tried to pick it up a little more. As I came up to the mile 6 aid station, the only volunteer was sprinting to the station to try to beat me there so she could hand me a Gatoraide. She said she wasn't expecting anyone for a few minutes yet. I started to figure out that there was no one in front of me. I wasn't positive until I got to the turn around a half mile later. I took another quick swig of Napalm and decided that I could probably be a bit more conservative. I had about a 4 minute lead at that point and couldn't see the second place guy at the turn. I dropped my pace from 5:25's to about 5:40. I still wanted to run hard and use the rest of the run as training for October, but I wanted to make sure I didn't bonk. I felt really good at mile 7 so I didn't think I needed to back off any more than that.

The last mile of the run was pretty tough. You moved to the sidewalk down the strip at the Dells. There was a lot of stepping on and off of the curb. There were also quite a few cars turning into and out of parking lots. I had to dodge a few and run around a few cars. Really, that is the only complaint about the course. Unfortunately, there were not a ton of people out on the course due to the rain. The finish line was a bit anti-climatic because of this but you can't do anything about the weather. One of the benefits was how easy it was to spot my family who braved the elements!

I got what I was going after for this race, the WIN! When I was setting my race schedule, I chose this race as one I thought I could win. I didn't know how my body would respond the day after the Olympic race, but for some reason I wanted this race. I usually focus only on the process and let the results settle where they do. As I think about moving to Pro status next year, I am going to have to find a few races where I enter them to win.

I am really happy my sister and I were able to do a race together. She had fun and wants to do another! It was awesome to have my family there to support both of us during the race. God has certainly blessed me in so many ways, and my awesome family is one of those ways.

Age Group Nationals- Race Report

This past weekend was very tough on me...more mentally than physically. I entered this double race weekend with the approach that these were "B" priority races that would help me prep for Kona. I didn't really taper into the weekend at all. I did a long bike and a 22 mile run the weekend before and did a high intensity S/B/R on Tuesday and Wednesday. I took it a little easier on Thursday and Friday but it was in no way a full taper. I wanted to race hard both races, but leading into the week I was feeling October was more important. I had not done a Olympic distance race in over three years. Every time I have signed up for one it has been shortened due to weather or cold water. I didn't know how I could do, and I didn't have the confidence in my bike strength to be successful at this short distance. After the fact, I am a bit torn.

AG Nats was a great experience overall. I learned a lot. I learned a lot about myself and of course I gained another race full of experience. I am happy to have an Olympic under my belt and to have a baseline time now for the race.

Swim- 20:56 - 29 AG, 163rd Overall
T1-1:56 - 45th AG- 217 Overall
Bike- 58:16 - 17th AG, 53rd Overall
T2- 1:00 - 14th AG, 49th Overall
Run- 33:38 - 1st AG, 3rd Overall

Overall- 1:55:44 - 3rd in AG; 12th overall

Race Morning
I woke up around 4:30 and packed up my stuff, ate (drank) a quick breakfast, and left my the friend's house I was staying at. My wife and I didn't know how traffic would be or how hard it would be to park. We actually had no trouble getting to the race or getting parked. I took about a 30 minute nap in the car before heading to transition. I jogged over and got my gear set up then decided to head back to the car and took another 30 minute nap. The 25-29 wave wasn't scheduled to push off until 9:08, so I had nothing but time. I walked down to the race start with my wife around 8 and hung out until it was time to get in the water. The weather was about perfect. Very light breeze and about 75 degrees.

I got in the water as soon as I could so I could get a warm up in. I got about 10 minutes of swimming in so I was feeling pretty good when it came time to line up. The wave wasn't terribly large so I hung out in the middle with the straightest shot to the first turn I could find. I got off to a pretty good start without much contact. The front pack quickly separated and I was hanging on to the train well. We ran into the wave before us right where the course bottle necks to go under a bridge. It took a bit of maneuvering to get around the pack, but I was able to hang on to the front pack through the bridge. I lost focus for about 15 seconds shortly after when I ran into another AG wave and I got kicked out of the train. I put in a few quick spurts to try to catch back up but I just couldn't find them. I finished really in no man's land. Drafting in the water is definitely something I need to work on.

I slipped trying to run up the ramp to get out of the water but got into transition pretty quickly overall. For some reason, I couldn't get out of my wetsuit. It had been a while since i did a race that didn't have wetsuit strippers to help you out. Another thing I need to practice in the future. Having 245 people go through T1 just isn't going to cut it.

I had been working on mounting on the bike on the move. I was able to get on the bike and get moving without a problem. There were two quick turns, so I waited until after the second turn to put my feet in the shoes. I passed a lot of people who were trying to put their feet in before the turns. I think I made the right choice overall. I just didn't feel like I could get my legs going at the start of the ride. My PM was showing around 250 Watts and I wanted to be well over 300 average. I tried not to worry and just rode. About 20 minutes into the ride, the PM stopped working all together. I am not sure if I didn't feel like I was able to get rolling because the PM was showing false numbers or what was going on. As soon as the PM stopped working, I felt like I was able to just flush everything and just ride hard. The road surface was really bumpy. I launched my only water bottle early on and luckily caught it right as it was falling down the side of my bike! Another place I was completely airborne. I was a bit disappointed that a National Championship was being held on such cruddy roads. I know it is hard to find better roads in the Midwest but they were just not good. Overall, I was happy to be under an hour on the bike and felt strong heading into T2.

T2 went much better than the first but I still need to figure out how to be faster here. I struggled to get my shoes on a bit, but nothing major. I was out the gates without losing too much time and knew I had some work to do.

The run went really well. The course was pancake flat and really helped me keep my speed. I was really consistent in my mile splits. I didn't take any food or drink in at all during the run. I felt great and knew I got enough calories on the bike with the bottle of Gu Roctane that I downed. The bike course was also lined with spectators pretty well so there was a lot of energy on the course. I was happy with my overall run split even though two people put up a faster time.

My wife would have killed me if she missed this pic!

This was a great learning experience. I am left wondering a bit what I could have done if I would have had a full taper. I needed to remind myself that I was using this as a training weekend. When I keep that in perspective, that makes it even more rewarding to find the podium at my first crack at AG Nats.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Update- Adding a Coach!

So far it has been a pretty great summer. I took a work trip to Spain/Morocco for the first 6 weeks which worked out pretty well being it was right after Ironman Texas. I didn't take any time off from training, but I scaled the volume way back. Being I didn't have my bike or regular access to a pool, I got quite a few long runs in some beautiful scenery in the mountains in both countries. I came back not knowing exactly where my fitness was, but Ironman 70.3 Racine showed me I was right on track.

Shortly after Ironman Racine, I started to think a lot about gearing up for Kona and moving forward into competing as a pro in the 2014 season. I started thinking about the possibility of adding a coach. This was a big step for me being I have always been "self coached." Although I've used a few plans other people have written for a framework or starting point, I have always set my own intensities for each workout. I also was traveling a lot so I would change the plans around to fit that schedule.

I've had some pretty good results so far this year, but I have come to realize that there is only so far that you can take yourself without some help. As volumes get high, it is always good to have another set (or two!) of eyes looking at your workouts. It is also important to have someone in your corner who has worked with professional triathletes before and helped them develop a high level of success to help structure and manage your workouts, race season, mental aspects, and even the nutrition plan. Also, one thing I really need help on is swim technique. That was something that was extremely important to me as I began the process of looking for a coach.

I spent quite a bit of time on the phone talking with perspective coaches. I was looking for a coach who understood the human body, understood the sport, and obviously was going to be a good fit for me. I also needed a coach who understands my work schedule and was willing to work with that while allowing me to maintain my personal life (i.e. stay married!). I wanted a coach who has worked with other professional triathletes and had a solid record of helping them reach their potential. I also needed a coach who could help me improve in the water so I wasn't trying to bridge a gap from the moment I hopped onto the bike when I make the next step. After numerous hours on the phone with different people, I think I have found exactly what I am looking for. I am thrilled to be working with Michelle LeBlanc of OutRival Racing and Tim Floyd from Magnolia Masters.

I first heard of OutRival Racing from watching the Ironman Texas course preview videos on youtube. I also had a chance to stop by their booth at the pre-race expo and chat with them and meet a few of their athletes.I chatted with one of their athletes after Racine about his experiences with the team as well. I had a great impression of their group from my first interaction and Michelle was my first call when it came to looking for a coach. After numerous phone calls and e-mails, I knew that working with Michelle and OutRival Racing was going to be a great fit. I appreciated Michelle's experience as a triathlete herself. I also liked her bluntness and to-the-point mentality when it came to coaching. She is research and data driven which should fit very well with how I like to train. I also got the impression that she cared about my progression as an athlete and truly wanted to help me reach my goals.

Michelle guided me to Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters who works with swimmers who specifically focus on open water swimming. Obviously, that means he works with quite a few triathletes. He has a partnership with OutRival Racing and works with a few of their athlete's for the swim portion. Again, I really appreciated Tim's coaching philosophy and high level of communication. He is extremely knowledgeable about swimming, especially swimming in triathlons. He will work with me on technique (something I desperately need) and helping structure each swim workout to maximize my time in the water.

I am really excited to get to work with both OutRival Racing and Magnolia Masters. I am positive Michelle and Tim will help get me to where I want to be during the 2014 season and beyond!