Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Planning 2013

This last season was supposed to be the year I finally moved up to the IM distance.  I was registered for IMTX but decided to pull out after a winter of dealing with nagging run injuries.  Probably a smart decision although that thinking did not carry over to the rest of my season as I continued to race, and try and fail to train, through the ankle problems.  Finally healthy again I'm looking forward to making the jump up in distance in 2013.  Since I had already registered for IMTX but couldn't pass up the chance to race on what is apparently an amazing course in Mont Tremblant I have 2 on the schedule for 2013. 

April 21 - New Orleans 70.3
May 18 - Ironman Texas
July 20 - Xterra Mountain Championships
July 28 - Calgary 70.3
August 18 - Ironman Mont Tremblant

Not as many races as I normally do in a season but this schedule will allow me to focus instead of racing too often.  I might throw in a few local events as the season gets closer and will wait to decide late season races depending on results at the the above events. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Harvest Moon Half Distance Triathlon

Like I tweeted after this race, this was one of the events where I woke up, knew I shouldn't race and went anyway.  I think after the the hell that was the start of the Boise race I've decided to always ignore the excuses my mind throws out to stop me from doing something and push through as I will rarely regret it.  That's fine in the face of shitty weather conditions but when it's an injury that has you doubting yourself its probably good to listen every now and  then.  It's not a full-blown injury, although I may have turned it into one, but more of a nagging problem with my ankle that has dragged on all summer.  It had flared up again the week going into Harvest Moon and although I was trying to ignore it I knew in the back of my head that the run was going to be a problem. 

Race morning was like any other.  Get the gear set up and wait for the start.  Swim was a direct out and back with the first half straight into the sun.  As usual I got off course going out and lost time.  As much as I complain about this issue every race I obviously need to do something about it.  Probably too late in the year with only one race left but there will be a concerted effort next year to work on the sighting issues.  Honestly the only good thing about this race was T1.  I finally nailed the whole standing and stripping the wetsuit off your legs with no hands while putting your helmet and race belt on.  Probably my fastest wetsuit swim transition ever. 

The bike was a boring, rolling square course with some punchy climbs and questionable pavement in places.  The wind was gusting all day so for the first half of the bike it was a tailwind and a crosswind with the second half headwind and crosswind.  The crosswind felt fine although I should have realized the headwind was going to be awful when I hit 28 miles in 1:02 on 195 watts.  Once the turn was made into the head wind it got pretty tough.  Speed dropped dramatically and I finished up with a low 2:20 something bike split.  Coming back in I was thinking about pulling out after the bike and not risking hurting my ankle more with Leadman coming up but judging from the bikes in T2 I was at least in the top 10 overall if not higher so I decided to keep going.

First 2 miles of the run felt fine but the ache started up shortly after and progressively got worse.  This was an out and back run so once you made it halfway out the only option to get home was to finish the race.  By time I had hit the turnaround the pain was bad and affecting my stride.  If this were Leadman I likely would have said fuck it and kept going but with the increasing pain I was worried about further damage with Leadman coming up in 2 weeks.  With the decision made to call it a day the only option left was to walk/light jog the remaining 6+ miles back.  Not a position I've ever been in before and it sucked being passed non-stop the entire way back but it was the right decision.  Final time on the half marathon was 2:23 something and 5:21 overall.  My slowest race ever for both counts.  Learned a lesson on knowing when to do the smart thing for your longterm race plans.  Fortunately as of today the pain seems to be subsiding although I still can't run without pain so Leadman looks like it will be fine.  Run will probably suck but since it's the last race of the year it won't be the ankle slowing me down, probably just the 140 miles on the bike that proceeded it. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Boulder 70.3

I meant to get a post up about Boulder 70.3 right after the race and never did.  Time passed and I decided it was too late but changed my mind again and decided to put something together anyways.

I had a couple of things going against me coming into the race and a couple for me.  On the negative's side I really hadn't been swimming much at all.  I was coming off a not so great swim at Boulder Sprint and an absolutely horrible swim at Boulder Peak and swimming motivation was at an all time low.  So I hadn't been doing it.  Secondly an ankle injury had kept me from running almost the entire month leading up to the race.  My ankle felt pretty solid the week leading up to the race after a session of graston and dry needling so I had managed to get in one 45 min run mid week and a couple 20 min runs.  One a positive note I had been riding a ton and spent a large percentage of that riding on the Boulder 70.3 course.  Knowing every aspect of a bike course is so nice going into race day.  Even being able to ride it once makes a huge difference. 

Given my complete lack of perceived swim fitness I decided that I was going to take the swim extremely easy.  Usually I start at the front and try to go out as hard as possible.  This time I started a few rows back and just eased my way into the swim.  Swam steady and felt good the entire time.  One benefit to the swim lazy strategy I noticed was that I felt way more fresh then normal coming out of the water.  The past two races I had done on much the same course with definite sub par swim results.  I had swam harder, had a terrible split and spent the first 4 or so miles on the bike feeling like complete shit.  This time around the bike felt great right off the start even with a 4+ mile gradual climb to start out.  Swim split ended up being 33:46.  Not great but I think it shows me that swimming smart within your abilities can lead to at least a decent time.  If I actually put some time in the pool in and get some swim fitness I believe that strategy can pay off with some solid swim splits. 

The bike was pretty much what I had expected.  Rode steady and made sure to not have any crazy wattage spikes. Based on training I felt I should be able to ride around a 2:12 and I got close with a 2:14:08.  I was about 10 watts below what I needed to be hitting the last 6-10 miles and that coupled with a bit of a headwind coming in cost me a some of time.  On the nutrition side of things I switched back to First Endurance Liquid Shot for this race.  800 calories worth of it mixed with water in a bottle on the downtube was plenty for the ride.  Didn't go through all of it but it was there if I felt like I ever needed it.  Also way easier to work with then gels taped to the top tube both in terms of staying down in aero and no mess.  Water between the bars in a Torhans 30 got me through 50+ miles before running out so didn't even need to hit an aid station which was nice since they were a complete cluster everytime I came through.

The run was going to be ugly I knew.  I debated not even having my watch running but decided to just so I could look back at splits.  Didn't look at the the whole time though.  I tried to concentrate on cadence and high turnover which served me well looking back at the splits.  Low to mid 7's through the first half was much better then I had expected.  It probably helped that I was shoveling caffeine in as fast as possible the entire time too.  I usually carry a Fuel Belt flask with 1 scoop of First Endurance Pre Race in it on the run for 180 mg of caffeine.  For this race I put 2 scoops plus a bit extra.  Probably the only thing that got me through the run.  I was out by miles 8 and and to switch to as much coke as I could grab at each aid station.  I think I was pretty much faking my body out at this point.  Each time I took some in I'd get a barely perceptable energy rush that would last for a few minutes before crashing again.  The last few miles there wasn't much turnover going on but I knew there was a Kompetitive Edge athlete in my AG coming hard behind me that I wanted to beat so that, along with not wanting to waste a solid bike split, kept me motivated.  In the end I got him by 10 sec so it was a very close thing.  Final run split ended up being 1:42:09.  A definite regression from some of my run splits earlier in the season but about what I expected.  My total time of 4:33:13 was a few seconds fast then my previous PR at Austin 70.3 so a result I'm pretty pleased with despite the issues.  Finally feel like altitude wasn't an issue at all and looking forward to what I can do at sea level.

Big thanks to Wattie for all his support, was great hanging out with him and Heather a bit pre race, and to Kompetitive Edge on the local front for letting me crash in their tent post race out of the sun.  Up next is Harvest Moon Half on Sept 9th and then the big one, Leadman 250, on Sept 22nd. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thoughts on Texas 70.3

Texas 70.3 was on of those events that requires a bit of time to think on.  Not because you have to analyze the mistakes and issues but because you know exactly what went wrong and you have to decide to face it. 

Texas was the opening race of the season.  The one that I have been looking forward to through all the long hours of offseason training.  With the level of competition at the race I didn't have any expectations going in as who I was going to beat but I did have a level of performance I expected of myself.  Not really a time expectation, there are far too many variables with conditions, but a performance where I knew that I had given my best effort and at this I failed miserably. 

Race morning was as relaxed as its been in a long time.  With my wave being 2nd to last there was 1:30 between the pro start and our start so no need to rush through anything.  In training it always seems like one of the three sports isn't going as well as the other two and for me lately its been the swim.  I wasn't overly stressed about it.  It was a wetsuit swim and coming down from altitude I anticiapated being at or around my swim times from previous years on the course.  Looking back I don't feel too upset about my swim time of 35 min.  Obviously its not good but I can acknowledge the fact the my swim fitness isn't exactly where it needs to be right now and I had some sighting issues that pulled me off the line I wanted.  Both are easily fixed with hours in the pool and more open water practice now that its starting to warm up.  T1 wasn't exactly up to par for me but that's mainly due to the fact that I had hell getting off my wetsuit.  Another issue that is easily fixable. 

The first issue of the day cropped up quickly on the bike when I went to get my Garmin started and found that the face was full of water and non-functioning.  So it looked like the ride was going to be old school style with no wattage, HR or pace.  The plan going in was to ride based on a fairly conservative wattage range for me so I tried to complete the ride at a comfortable effort level instead.  I definitely went with a too comfortable level though.  Looking back on how I felt there wasn't really ever a moment when I felt any significant fatigue or pushed out of the comfort zone.  I was getting a bit uncomfortable towards the end but that had more to do with holding aero for 2+ hours.  Finished up with a 2:26 ride.  Not great for me but wouldn't have been an issue if I had executed the rest of the race.

Out on the run it was blind pacing again with no splits or pace from the Garmin.  The first lap felt really slow but looking back at the paces online with was in line with what I would have wanted at around a 7 min pace.  The 2nd lap is where the wheels started to come off.  Not physically but mentally.  What's even worse is that physically I felt great.  Exactly like I should have after that relatively easy ride.  Instead I let myself begin to make excuses for what was going wrong with the day.  Mostly based on the fairly tough weather conditions and how I wasn't prepared for them.  Instead of concentrating on my performance I focused on what was wrong with the day and  mentally shut down.  The mental shut down allowed me to lapse on my nutrition and by the end of the run I was in pretty lousy shape.  Evidenced by the 1:46 run split.

Spending my plane ride back home mentally reviewing the race it would be easy to blame issues like the garmin not working or a lack of heat training.  That would just be more excuses though.  I've done enough of these races and put in enough hours of training to know what a race effort feels like and I shouldn't need numbers on a watch to tell me how I'm doing.  And even though the conditions were hot and humid they were the same for everyone.  Its not like the entire field had been training in a sauna in preparation for this event.  The real issue is that I allowed myself to fail.  I chose to dwell on the negatives instead of racing in the moment to the best of my abilities. 

In many ways my life revolves around this sport and for me to achieve the success that I aim for its time to face the fact that far too often when faced with a race that may not be unfolding as planned I allow myself to give in to the negativity.  Texas 70.3 is where this ends.  I have complete confidence in my coach's plan to get me to the starting line in shape to perform and now it is up to me to perform at the level we have prepared for.  Its not about performing to a certain time goal or wattage/pace number.  It's about giving the best effort that I have to give on that day.  Its doesn't mean "pushing myself to the max" or "going so hard I puke" but being able to walk away from a race knowing I have no regrets about my effort.  Every race won't be perfect and there will still be failures but it won't be because I am forced to acknowledge that I have failed in giving the most of myself.  That is my committment.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I (Sorta) Feel Like a Runner Again

I like to race.  A lot.  Its possible that I race to much but I really don't care.  With this in mind I started scoping out potentail races as soon as I got to Colorado in December.  Since I have to work Saturday mornings through March it somewhat limited my options to Sunday morning races.  I hate 5k's, see my last blog post, so I wanted anything 10k and up.  The only race that really seemed to fit in January was the Frost Giant 10k in Estes Park so I signed up, blindly unawares that this race took place at an elevation of 7500 ft. 

After my terrible 5k race from the week previous I was kinda dreading the 10k and doubting my run fitness.  The 10k started at noon which was both good and bad.  Good cause I got to sleep in but bad since I really can't sleep much past 7 and then spent the morning pacing around the house waiting to leave.  I really should have got an hour or so in on the bike. 

Driving to Estes Park from Denver I started to get a sense of what the elevation was going to be like as we started to drive up the mountains before dropping down into the city.  I started getting a headache and generally felt like crap.  Coming back down the mountain I started feeling better though and the view driving in made it all worth it.

The race had a very low key vibe which fit in great with the town and how I was feeling.  There was a 5k that had started at 11 so I watched the winners come in and realized based on their times that the course was likely pretty tough.  Not a large field of racers by any means but there were definitely some very talented ones in attendence.  Looking up some of the names later on they included top 5 finishers at Western States 100 and winners of some major trail races in Colorado.  They're fairly easy to spot as they all have big beards.

I had no clue what the course was going to be like so I figured I'd just take the start easy and see what the leaders were doing.  The pace started out really chill.  Surprisingly so until we made a quick turn and I saw what would be a mile+ climb out of town.  I ran 2nd pack for most of it until everything started to break up at the top of the climb before a steep downhill into the offroad section. 

Once we hit the offroad section things really started to unravel.  We were running cross country on what could only loosely be considered a trail.  Every little ascent seemed to take my last bit of evergy and I felt like I was shuffling up them.  What was once 5th place turned into 7th or 8th quickly on the climbs.  I'd run my way back into the group on each downhill but there were decidedly far fewer of those and I steadly faded out of the top 10.  Looking back at my garmin splits I was barely holding it below an 8:00 min pace throught here.

The main portion of the race was offroad with the last mile a straight shot to the finish and back on pavement.  Once I hit the pavement it seemed like a found a 2nd gear.  Or maybe 3rd based on the paces I had been running.  I didn't look back but I could sense that there was a little pack right behind me.  There wasn't anyone ahead of me that it looked like I could catch so for me the race was now about holding off anyone else.  The female leader pulled up next to me and that was all the motivation I needed to open it up.  Other than her and one other runner I managed to put almost a minute into the other couple runners that were with me at the end of the offroad section. I obviously need to work on my climbing and offroad skills as I lost a ton of time in the middle miles.  The end was a sprint to the finish with both me and the female leader crossing together.  Without chip timing its a tossup as to who crossed first. 

Looking back this is probably one of my favorite running race I've participated in.  The course was without a doubt the toughest I've done but that makes it all the better.  We apparently topped out at 7800 ft which probably didn't do me any favors but at least it seems like I'm getting a little more used to the altitude.  Definite improvement from my previous race. 

Coming into the finish.

I'm opening up a gap you'd think I'd be able to hold.  Apparently I need to work a bit on my finishing kick.

Yes my face and possibly hat is covered in saliva. Wait till there are post triathlon pics where I've been chugging First Endurance PreRace the whole run and my face is covered in yellow slime. Its hot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Painful Reminder

Its hard to actually believe but it has been over 4 years since I've run an open 5k until this last weekend.  You'd think in that time span with all the hours and training and pr's set at other distances that I'd be in for a big 5k pr.  Not so much.  I went into this race with the comfortable expectation of running just under a 6 min pace.  My last 10k in November I'd held 6:17's on a tough hilly course so I figured that was a resonable goal. 

This would also be my first race of any kind since moving to Denver about a month ago.  I definitely struggled with the altitude the first few weeks but I been a lot more comfortable lately and didn't anticipate that I'd have any issues during the race.  The course was at Washington Park and was basically a loop and a half around the park.  Except for the geese that refused to move and allow me to follow my tangents (I'm blaming them for at least 5 sec on my time) it was a great course.  Flat and fast.  Temps were cold, sub 40 with a pretty strong wind. 

I started out 2nd row so (theoretically) I wouldn't be tempted to sprint to hard off the front.  That didn't pan out. 

This picture is somewhat unfortunate.  Really not sure what sort of issues the guy in front of me is having but I'm only looking at my watch.  I promise.  I'm going to be more aware of my start placement next time I think.

Really, really terrible start placement.  What the hell is the guy in front of me doing now?

Of course I didn't pace myself at all off the start.  Straight to the front where myself and 2 others quickly put a gap into the rest of the field.  Through the half mile I made the mistake of checking my Garmin for my mile pace.  4:50.  Totally the wrong thing to do.  I immediately started thinking about the fact that I've never been remotely close to a 5 min mile that that I can't hold this pace.  I let the leaders go and started to try to hold a pace I thought was more reasonable.

 As it turned out it probably didn't matter either way.  I was still in 3rd at around the 1.5 mark but everything went completely to hell at this point.  My legs felt fine but I felt like my lungs were going to explode.  Definitely tasting pennies.  Pace pretty much went to hell and I was passed by 3 runners.  I lost one more spot with about a quarter mile left but managed to hold off one other runner to finish 7th overall.  Or 2nd female overall as they had somehow registered me in the female division as someone kindly pointed out to me later in the day.  Guess I should have stuck around for awards.  Took about 10 min before I felt like I could breathe at all again and my chest was hurting so bad I didn't even take the opportunity to partake in the whiskey spiked hot chocolate.  What a waste.  Looks like I've still got a bit more time before I'm completely used to the altitude.

Looking back at this race there are 2 obvious lessions to be learned. 

#1) I seriously need a tan.

#2) I look far better in a tri suit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Beginnings

Its been quite a long time since I've updated my blog.  Even longer since I've updated with any sort of regularity and a lot has changed in that time period.  Starting off with the obvious, at least for those that have read any blog entries in the past.  I'm using a new blog.  My old one was on the Weebly website and while I appreciated the fact that it (sorta) looked more like a website I was spending way too much time dealing with formating issues.  So I'm here and this should be the platform that I'll be using for the forseeable future.  Blogger is much simplier to manuever and hopefully this will lead to me actually using it more often.

Now the big stuff.  I left Texas and moved to Colorado.  Its only been a bit over a month up here and even though I've have yet to take advantage of any of the myrid of outdoor opportunities that exist up here due to my crazy work schedule just knowing that they are available to me without having to fly or drive for hours feels incredible.  This move has been a long time coming and is the first step in making sure that I get to live my life in such a way that I won't ever have to look back and regret that I didn't follow my dreams.  Its the first small step of many but in some ways its the hardest since it forced me out of my comfort zone.  Best decision I've made though and I can't wait for my crazy work hours to be over in a few months so I can really start enjoying all there is to offer up here.

Probably the most difficult part of moving is leaving behind friends.  This is especially tough when so much of my life revolves around triathlon and the day in day out training.  I have no problem logging the long hours by myself but it definitely helps to have a good group of friends in place to get in some of those hours with and motivate you through the inevitable tough spots.  Enter my new triathlon team.  While browsing the website in late December I had noticed a story about a new triathlon team being formed by Wattie Ink.  I had noticed Wattie (Sean Watkins) at several races as he sticks out a bit with his tats and style.  I immediately knew this was exactly the team that I wanted to be involved with.  Whatever team and product he put together was going to be at the front of the triathlon scene with an attitude and edge that other teams don't have. 

Finding out I had made the team was the highlight of January so far.  To be part of something great like this is incredibly motivating.  And I'll take all the motivation I can get when faced with my upcoming Ironman training schedule coupled with 60+ hour work weeks and a new baby.  Not only does the Wattie Ink Elite Team have the sickest kits and best sponsors of any team out there but the people on it make it absolutely incredible to be involved with.  Within 24 hours of the team roster breaking I had almost 50 new friends on facebook and twitter.  And those aren't just empty numbers.  Every day there is there is constant encouragement, information and in many cases smart ass comments from everyone that makes this team the best to be part of.  I can roll out of bed at 4:30 for a training session knowing that my teammates are doing the same.  And with 4 other team members in Colorado I look forward to hooking up to get my ass kicked in some training sessions as well.  I can't thank Sean and the team sponsors listed at the bottom of this page enough.  Without them none of this would be possible.  The first race and opportunity to represent the team and meet teammate in person can't come fast enough.  Until I realize how close April 1st is and how much training I need to get done that is.  Its head down for the next 10 weeks to get the work done and survive the crazy work schedule before #rockingtheW at Ironman Texas 70.3

I gotta mention Hibiscus IWear since they aren't listed in the official sponsors at the bottom of the page.  They just came on recently in support of the team and are going to ensure that we are wearing some of the sweetest shades on and off the race course for the upcoming season.  Check out their website,, for awesome sunglasses, goggle and helmets.