About Me

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San Francisco, California and, Carrboro, North Carolina, United States

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

IRONMAN NORTH CAROLINA (1st Overall)

First, I should re-introduce myself, it's been four years since I've raced, and this was a great season to get back it.  

Second, I need to thank my partner, Elizabeth, who provided me with unwavering support and was amazing in prioritizing this race for me.  I could not have done it without her and she deserves a lot of the credit.  

Third, I need to give another thank you to Mark Carey and Z, because without those two guys I probably don't even get to the start line, let alone put down a memorable performance.  Mark was an exceptional training partner and our 100 mile rides and 20 mile runs got me in cardio shape to throw down.    

Z's is an amazing teammate.  His cycling knowledge is second to none, but he also hooked me up with a set of new tires and an awesome 3D printed aero bottle cage.  More importantly, Z's emails/rants provided me a ton of motivation.  For example, a few of weeks ago I found myself in Wilmington, DE, at the end of work day, but having 4 hours before my flight.  I had already run 7 or 8 miles on the hotel treadmill that morning, so it was tempting to be a wuss and head to the airport early to enjoy a nice meal.  However, I said, what would Z do?  And the answer was obvious, head to the Central Y pool and put in 5,000 yards.  Reading Z's emails/rants over this past year educated me on how to win, and most importantly, not being afraid to win.  Thanks Z, and congrats on the KONA entry, I can't wait to follow you next year and cheer you on as you crush the course.  

I'd also like to thank Parker McConville and Dave Williams.  Parker generously lets me workout at PARcycles for endless hours on my Kickr and Dave is my coach at Triangle-Multisport and put together a great  training program.  Lastly, I would like to thank all the volunteers who made the course fun, your cheering was well appreciated even if I did not smile until the very end.  

Here's the race report.  
6:08:58 -- 1st Overall 

Swim 45:20 (3rd Fastest Split)
At the start with friends Mark and Josh
Not much to report here other to say I had a great swim and maximized the use of the currents.  The first half of the swim was slightly against a current, and then the second half, with the current.  The goal is the same in cycling, keep you nose out of the wind, and avoid swimming into currents.  I took a path not followed by many others for the first mile or so of the swim, which was to swim far away from the buoys.  The buoys were in the the middle of the channel, which is the deepest part of the channel.  I chose to swim near the docks, which was near much shallower water.  I could see my competitors struggling against the current and chop while I was swimming in nice calm water.  I would need to make up the 100 meter or so difference in placement eventually, but I knew I could do it when the tide switched and the current came on my back.  That's exactly how it played out.  I led the swim for probably the first 2 miles of the swim, until the stronger swimmers caught me.  If they had taken my route, they would have put minutes on me, but lucky for me they did not know the water.  I swam with the leaders and we entered transition separated by a few seconds.   

Bike 2:17:16 (2nd Fastest Split)


I was the first athlete onto the bike and out of T1, and I soon realized that the light rain from the night before shorted out my Quark.  I would be racing this blind from power.  Since 90% of my riding this year has been on a Kickr at a specific power, I was a little afraid to lose my security blanket, but at the same time, this is a race and you play the cards you're dealt. The wind was blowing hard and I knew there would be guys going too hard and blowing up.  I also knew I was in good shape and if I rode within myself, I could win this on the run.  

My plan was to eat my 1,000 calories, and to keep the lead or come off with the first group.  I felt great the whole ride and basically stayed in my aero position for probably all but a minute of the two hour and 17 minute ride.  I'd put in some long rides on the trainer, and this was just another one of them.  Staying focused and turning the pedals.  After the the first turn around at mile 25 I was able to see where the competition was.  I took a time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, so I knew I had an approximate 4 to 5 minute lead on number 2.  The next 15 miles were basically into a terrible head wind, but in all reality, that head wind is about 100 times easier than trying to keep Z's wheel during a TTT or trying not to get dropped after pulling through off of Z's wheel and having Brian or Allen throwing down.  At one point during the ride, I commented to myself how easy this felt compared to those TTT workouts on the banana loop.  During the IronMan, I just had to keep pedaling and staying within myself and I knew I could do that.  When the wind hit my back at mile 40 or 41, it was smooth sailing, I was riding 28-30 mph and having a great time.  About mile 45, a spectator said, you have a 7:30 lead and it's growing.  At that point, I said this is my race to win, go out and do it.  About a minute later I saw Z on the other side of the road and gave him a big wave and smile.  I was having a blast and happy to Z catching the others.    

I enjoyed the tailwind and cruised into into T2 ready to run.    


Run 2:58:45 (3rd Fastest Split)

There is no way around it.  IronMan racing is about the marathon and the marathon is about being focused and willing to hurt for a much longer time than you would even like to imagine.  With that being said, I knew from the moment I started the run that this could be my day.  As I ran out of transition I was feeling great, and I looked down at my Garmin and saw 6:08 pace.  It felt easy and I knew I just needed to take care of business.  Taking care of business meant, running 6:15 to 6:40 pace for as many miles as I could and then suffering through whatever was left over.  I've never been so focused on a run before in my life.  It was an amazing experience to be in the "zone," and just clicking off miles one by one.  I had some techno playing in my head and my feet kept up the pace.  I nailed the first 18 miles, it was an awesome feeling.  After the first turn around, I was at about mile 9, when a spectator told me I had a 13 minute lead.  I knew I was running well and my lead off the bike was growing.  I also knew the mental damage I could do my competition as they saw me running well.  If you have to make up 13 minutes, and the guy ahead of you is knocking out 6:30's you know it's going to be tough.  I came through 13.1 in about 1:24:00.  I was feeling great and I knew I had to just keep it up and the W was mine.  Miles 14, 15 and 16, were all good, but at 17, I slowed to 6:50 pace and the the feet, quads and hamstrings were hurting.  I probably did not fuel enough first half (I think I was feeling so good I forgot), and I was now paying the price.  Mile 18 was a 6:59 split, and then it became a bit of damage control.  I knew I still had a big lead, and the only think that would take it away from me was a walking melt down.


This is when you just suffer and deal.  My quads were hurting but my feet/toes were the major culprits of my terrible cramps.  I felt as if each foot was wooden block just pounding the road.  Every time I would try to change position slightly, I would feel a cramp in my hamstring.  I knew what I had to do.  Pound my toes into the ground and just deal.  You can run with toe/foot cramps, they suck and are miserable, but you can at least go forward with each step.  When your hamstring goes, it's terrible, and you're likely walking or standing for minutes.  Miles 19-26 were a tough slow experience.  All I did was keep running, and all I thought about was getting to the next mile.  This was my one place in the race where I could have improved.  I lost a bit of focus and gave back probably 4 minutes, but I also kept running forward and kept getting the job done.  


As I approached the finish line I saw my partner Elizabeth and son Orion.  I was in a ton of pain but with a giant smile, and I knew in a few seconds I would be the IronMan NC champion.  I shuffled down the finish chute, put my arms in the air, and was elated to have a nailed a race with near perfection.  The 5 hour Zwift rides, the 17 mile treadmill runs, and the time away from family was part of the equation of learning not to be afraid to win and the actual race was just the proof.  


It was just awesome.     

Thanks again to Elizabeth, Z, Mark and the rest guys who have trained with me.  I appreciate all the encouragement.   































Thursday, November 1, 2012

AUSTIN 70.3 (15TH PROFESSIONAL)


Coming out of the water in 10th.  Jeff Symonds
right behind me.  Needed to be on his wheel to
work my way back.
Coming into the race I had high expectations, I thought a top 5 performance was within striking distance.  I needed to repeat the swimming performances I've had throughout the year, ride with the first group of athletes, and come off the bike and run a 1:20.  All well within my athletic abilities, but not necessarily easy.  Unfortunately, things did not go as planned, but I'm happy to have finished and completed the race even when things were tough.    

Race morning, the temperature was 43 degrees, and I was freezing.  Brandon Marsh (5th place) was super cool and lent me a set of arm warmers.  Thanks again Brandon, I appreciated them! Too bad I did not request swimming on your feet when I asked for the arm warmers.  That would have been nice!  Great race Brandon and good luck at Ironman Cozumel.    


Swim - 25:08
The gun sounded and I quickly realized I was a little off.  With the likes of some of the sports best swimmers, such as Andy Potts, Brandon Marsh, Barrett Brandon and Mauro Cavanha, the first few hundred meters were fast.  I settled onto the feet of TJ Tollakson and thought, this will work, TJ will be in the mix and I'll come out of the water with some strong cyclist.  However, after about a minute or two on TJ's feet, I swam crooked and swam off his feet.  I did not necessarily get dropped, but rather dropped myself from the group.  I simply swam poorly.  The next few hundred meters continued in the same manners, with me just not swimming well.  The second group of athletes slipped about 75-100 meters ahead of me.  The last half of the swim went better, I cut the losses to the group ahead of me to about 30 seconds, and came out of the water in 10th place.  Not a great swim, but the race was not over at the swim.  I needed to have a fast T1 and then hammer the bike to get back into contention.  

Bike - 2:19:04

After a rather slow transition (I struggled getting my arm warmers on) I hopped onto the bike hoping to claw back some of the time I gave away on the swim.  I made a crucial mistake in transition and early on the bike.  I did not get out of transition with Jeff Symonds and then I did not ride hard enough to ride up to him.  The difference out of T1 was no more than 10 seconds, but Jeff quickly made the gap swell, and he was out of sight.  Jeff rode great at the race and came off the bike in 3rd place.  Looking back at it, I should have tried to go with him.  I'm uncertain if I could have ridden the whole 56 miles with Jeff, but if I could have ridden half of it with him I could have been brought up to the main chase pack and jumped off the bike in 5th or 6th place.  Instead, I caught a few athletes, and settled into a pace that simply was too slow.  I was cold on the bike, but I'm not sure if it was that, or if I rode too conservatively, or if my body was just going to work at only 85%, but the whole ride I simply did not push the pace.  I came off the bike in 9th place, but 10 minutes behind the leaders.  The race was now to finish.    

 



I did like the new kit!

Run - 1:24:51

I started the run hoping to run my way into a 7th or 8th place, and if one of the athletes ahead faded, maybe a little higher.  Things started off well.  I ran into 8th place by about mile 1 and was joined by Tom Gerlach shortly thereafter.  Tom and I ran the first looped together and we were making decent time, running about 6:05 pace.  This is not a blazing pace, but would bring me in about 1:20, and that's what I really wanted.  Around mile 5 or so, I quickly realized my stomach was not excited to run.  Nick Thompson who was running his way into 7th place sprinted past Tom and me, and unfortunately for me I headed for bathroom break.  I exited in the mini break in 11th, but could not make up the ground on the guys ahead.  Again at mile 10, I had another break.  This was just the way the day was going.  I now found myself in 13th and really just wanted to finish and call it a day.  In the final mile, two more athletes passed me and that's where I would finish, 15th, in a time of 4:12:51.  

By no means was this a good race for me, but I was proud to have finished.  There were a few moments in which I thought I would have to walk it in.  Over the past few weeks I've been struggling with a Crohn's flare up, and my body performed at an 85% level, but I think that was the best I could have expected.  Even though I did not have the finish I wanted, I'm happy to have finished, and completed another year.      

I want to thank my homestay, Robyn and Kyle, it was awesome see you guys and thanks so much for all the hospitality!  I had a blast.  

I'd also like to thank my sponsors: Parcycles, thanks for all the support this year, you guys are awesome; Rudy Project, thanks for the great helmet and glasses, they help me go fast.  And Everyman Jack, thanks for the kit and I'm looking forward to racing with the team next year!  

The highlight of the weekend was watching my friends' five year old son learn how to ride it bike.  It was awesome, he went from never riding to riding up a hill in the matter of an hour.  With that said, he earned my Austin 70.3 medal, and in a few years I anticipate he'll be racing and passing me in a triathlon!  

Next up: REST AND RECOVERY  

Next Race: Oceanside 70.3 (March 30, 2013)




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AUGUSTA 70.3 -- 6th Professional -- 3:59:31




Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races.  The swim is fast, the bike is a challenging rolling one loop course (but fast), and the run takes you around downtown with the streets lined with cheering spectators.  Simply put, it's a fun race with a great atmosphere.  

Coming into the race I was a little nervous.  I've been sick for the last 10 days (a sinus infection) and had no idea what to expect from my body and what would happen in the race.  I drove down to Augusta Saturday morning, still not feeling great, but hoping the body would come around.  Unlike most pre-race nights, I had an awesome night's sleep and awoke ready to go.    

Swim exit, the bike group is all right there.
Swim: 20:01
I knew this would be a fast swim.  Last year I came out of the water in second and I thought that I had a shot of having the fastest swim time this year.  

The goal for the swim is the same in each race, swim well, come out with the lead group, and start the bike with or ahead of all the main contenders.  I lined up near the buoy along the shore and when the gun sounded I quickly took the lead.  For the entire swim, I kept a descent but not too strenuous pace.  Three athletes swam about 5-10 meters off my feet and another two swimmers were about 30 or so meters behind.  I led the swim for nearly the whole race.  The reason I did not win the swim, I swam past the swim finish and kept going down the river!  That mistake cost me about 20 seconds (unfortunately it also costs the 3 swimmers that were on my feet, and the two swimmers that were to the right of us passed our pack).  I exited the water in 3rd position, happy to swim well, but a little bummed to have made such a careless mistake and miss out on my first swim win.


Bike: 2:10:36
Six of us quickly formed the front pack out of the water.  The six of us consisted of Kiwi Guy Crawford, Americans Ian Mikelson and Nick Waninger (and me), Brazil’s Marcus Ornellas and Ukraine’s Max Kriat.  Among our UN coalition of athletes, I knew Max and Nick were great runners, and Crawford and Mikelson were strong cyclists.  I knew I stood in the middle of everyone, both on the bike and run, not the strongest in either but not the weakest.  My plan was to stay with the first group and hope to sneak away with one of the stronger cyclists over one of the hills.  However, without a pre-race bike plan between athletes, it would be hard to put together an attack.  The group worked well together, with Mikelson and I doing good deal of work for the first 30 miles.  I was riding within myself, trying to get my nutrition right and hoping we could break one or two of the strong runners from the group.  Around mile 40, Crawford put in a strong move and Waninger fell off the pace.  One runner down.  Our group was now 5 and we flew the final 16 miles.  We put in almost 4 minutes on Nick (of course he made them all back on the run).  I took a few pulls over the final miles and with 10 to go, Crawford made another strong move.  I was able to go with him, put a gap on the three behind us, but unfortunately I could not provide much help and a few miles later the three rejoined us.  Mikelson threw down the hammer the final two miles, nearly breaking off my legs, but the group stayed as one and we came into T2 together.  I was happy with the ride.  A 2:10:36 is a respectable time.  I also think I did my fair share of the work.  Lastly, I can write that we all rode honestly.  We had an official with us for the 56 miles and we impressed him with our ability to ride clean.      



























Run 1:25:22
After a sub-par T2, I lost about 30 seconds to the group, I came out onto the run with the goal of running a 1:20.  Being sick, I had no idea what to expect.  In the first few miles I felt ok, not great, but ok.  In between the first and second mile, I moved into 4th place catching and passing Crawford.  Just up the road I saw the Ornellas, and by mile 3 I had caught and passed him.  I was running in 3rd place and feeling ok.  I thought this is awesome, if my legs come around, I'll have a good shot to finish on the podium.  I was not feeling great, but I averaged a 6:07/mile pace through the first 4 miles.  Milkeson was up the road by about 30 seconds, but Max was already out of sight.  I wanted to try to move into second.  However, in between miles 4 and 5, a fast moving Pat Evo caught me.  He was running well and I tried to run with him, but fell off his pace after a few minutes.  A strong Jay McCurdy was the next athlete to catch me.  He too was running a little too quickly for me.  When a flying Wanniger came by, I did not even try to run with him, he was running 5:30/mile pace and there was no way I was going to stay with him.  By mile 7, I was running in 6th.  I had a descent size lead over 7th and 8th, but I was not feeling great.  Nonetheless, I tried to close the gap on the athlete ahead of me and move into 5th.  By mile 9, I had moved the gap down to just under one minute.  However, I  really struggled over the next four miles and lost another two minutes.  Over the final 4 miles I averaged a 6:57/mile pace, which cost me any chance at a top 5 finish.

Coming down the finish chute was quite fun, lots of fans to high five.  I was running trying to give as many kids a high five as possible, when I looked up and saw the race clock.  I assumed I had missed my goal of going under four hours, but to my surprise, I saw 3:59:20.  To play it safe I picked up the pace the last 50 meters, and crossed under 4 hours.


I did not have a great run, but I was pleased to come in 6th, pick up some valuable points towards 2013 70.3 World Championships, and finally have a sub 4:00 race.  

Looking back at the race, I've gained some confidence.  I finished in a good position, even with a sub-par run.  I know I'll figure out the run shortly and when I do, I think I'll find the podium. Thanks to my better half for cheering me on.  It's always wonderful to have her out there.  I'd also like to thank ParCycles for all their help and my coach Dave Williams.   

And thanks to everyone who read this.

Up next is Rev 3 Anderson, October 14



Another well earned 70.3 hat.
Time to get some breakfast!  




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Racine 70.3

Sitting back and writing this race report all I can think about is that I'm disappointed in myself for not finishing and not taking care of the easy things.  First, I should have finished, I was mentally beat, but that is not a legitimate reason.  Second, my fitness is where it needs to be but my race preparation is not great.  Unlike most triathletes, I'm a little too laid back.  I did not have a back up plan for my race fuel.  I took a chance with the amount of calories I was carrying on the bike and in the end I paid the price (I bonked badly).  Nonetheless, I should have kept going and finished the race.  

Swim: 24:12 
I did not have a great start to the swim but I as I came around the first buoy I was in 10th place.  I knew I could make a move and be higher up into the first group, so that's what I did, taking about 30 hard strokes.  I worked my way right onto Craig Alexander's feet and swimming right in front of Bryan Rhodes and Tim Reed.  This was perfect, I was sitting in 5th place getting a nice draft off one of the world's best triathletes.  Crowie set a good pace and we caught up to Paul Ambrose around 1500 meters into the swim.  Two athletes, Marko Albert and Joseph Lampe, were off the front of this group, but this group was a great group to be with, so I settled into the swim and swam relaxed the rest of the way.  Six or seven of us exited the water quickly made our way to T1.  


Coming out of the water with Time Reed, Bryan Rhodes and Craig Alexander.
                                           
Bike 2:13:05
Onto the bike with the first group.  I thought, perfect, ride with these guys, come off the bike in the top 7 or 8, and run your way into a top 5 position.  However, the rough roads of Racine had different plans.  At mile 4 or so, a stretch of rough road bounced out one of my bottles.  There went 400 calories.  This is where my lack preparation caught up to me.  I did not carry any extra calories, so now I was stuck with about 500 calories to complete the bike.  At the same time, Jordan Jones blew by the group and the group fractured into two sets of 3 athletes.  I was in the second group, riding with Paul Ambrose and Bryan Rhodes (two great athletes, so I was not worried).  Ambrose and I took turns pulling, rotating about every 2 minutes.  I tried to pull the uphills and let Ambrose power down the downhills.  We worked well together and over the next 20 or so miles we caught the athletes that were up the rode (with the exemption of Albert and Jones).  Around mile 27, we caught Craig Alexander and Joesph Lampe.  I thought this was awesome, I'm riding well, sitting in 4th place, and, more importantly, I'm competing with the world's best.  Right as we caught Alexander two unfortunate things happened.  First, I was stung by a bee right above my right cheek.  The sting hurt, but I had worse problems, the bolt holding my bars to the headset came loose.  I thought NO, NO, NO!  I'm not going to have a mechanical take me out of this race.  However, riding this way was extremely dangerous.  I could barely turn and with each bump on the road, which there were about a thousand, my bars would go up and down.  I also knew that each bump made the the bolt looser and looser.  As I almost rode into some Wisconsin farm land, Ambrose dropped me around the first corner.  I rode away from Alexander on a climb, but Lampe rode about 200 meters behind me for the remaining miles.  Those 29 miles were the scariest miles I've ever ridden.  A couple of thoughts went through my head.  First, I thought, "damn you bee, my cheek hurts."  Second I thought, "James, you're awfully stupid, you're riding downhill at over 30 mph and your bars are loose. You also borrowed $60K to go to Berkeley Law School, if you crash, your brain better still work, or there's no paycheck."  However, I kept being stupid and kept riding.  I continuously looked at my computer, happy to see the miles clicking away.  At mile 50, I was still in 4th place and I was thinking, wow, if I can survive this, I may end up with a great race, only 6 more miles to go.  I rode into T2 in 4th place, extremely happy to have survived and hoping to have a good run.

Working with Paul Ambrose.
    

Bars completely loose.  They only stayed upright if I held them up.  This was an unpleasant ride.

Run: DNF  
Entering into T2 I took a wrong turn and then ran past my transition spot.  This cost me a good 45 seconds or so, but to be honest, I was just so happy to be getting off the bike without crashing.  Onto the run, Lampe had passed me in T2 and my better half shouted that I was 30 seconds down.  I ran a conservative pace, wanting to put together a strong run but respecting the 90+ degree heat.  I did not want to blow up.  I also was trying to consume some calories, because I did not want to bonk.  I quickly ingested about 200 calories of gels, and hoped this would offset my lack of calories on the bike.  Two miles into the run, I caught Lampe and was running in 4th pace.  

At this point, I thought awesome, just keep going and you'll be a top 5 performer today.  This could be my break through performance.  I wish that was correct.  I had bad third mile, Lampe caught and passed, me, and I knew I was beginning to bonk.  I was passed by Tim Reed right about the first turn around, and was now running in 6th.  It was at this point I lost my concentration.  I started to think my slow running, my sore cheek, and the miserable weather conditions.  I told myself that if I did not make the half way point by 45 minutes, I would call it day.  Over the next few miles, Robert Wade, Patrick Evo, and Shannon Stallard, past me and dropped to 9th.  Running in 9th at the turn around, my watch displayed 45:20, and I decided to stop.  It was a decision I instantly regretted, but for a brief moment, I just lacked the fortitude to finish.

In retrospect, I should not have stopped.  I would have likely finished in 10th and scored 200 points toward World Championship qualifications.  I did learn a few things during the race, and in that sense, the race was not a failure.  I gained more confidence, I'm routinely swimming and riding with the world's best.  I'm a runner by athletic background, so I once i figure out how to fuel on the bike, I think I'll run with the world's best too.  

I'm off to California for 5 weeks for a great training block


I want to thank my homestay in Milwaukee, Michael and Judi, you guys are super great hosts, thanks for everything!




Some nice images of the race can also be found at the following links:






Monday, July 9, 2012

MUNCIE 70.3 7th Professional


Due to an Excessive Heat Warning issued by the National Weather Service, WTC shortened IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie to a modified Olympic distance race (1.0 Mile Swim/30 Mile Bike/6.2 Mile Run).  Pro and Age Group athletes gave mixed responses to the decision.  Some thought the race should go on as originally planned (a 70.3), others were happy for the shortened distance.  With the temperature forecasted to be 103 and the heat index between 110-115, I think WTC made the correct decision.  Once the NWS issued its warning, it would be irresponsible for WTC to ignore the warning and go on with the original plan.  WTC would be taking on too much liability for the heat induced injuries that were likely to happen.    

Swim -- 20:55
The water temperature was 90 degrees.  Water this hot is extremely uncomfortable to swim in and can simply be dangerous (USA Swimming limits open water races to a water temperature of no more than 85 degrees). My plan was to swim well the first 200 meters and then sit in with the first group and cruise in with them.  Once the gun fired the swim started off as usual, the first 200 meters were fast, but then we settled into a rather easy pace.  I was swimming in third position, right on the feet of Greg Bennett (the eventual winner) and was happy with my position.  About 1000 meters into the swim, Bennett took a wrong turn and I followed.  We swam only 25-30 meters before figuring out we went the wrong way, but when Greg corrected I lost his feet.  However, as we swam back onto course the chase group merged to form one group of 9 athletes.  I swam with this group the rest of the swim, exiting in 6th position, about 5 seconds behind Bennett.  The warm water made the swim miserable.  It was so hot all I was thinking for the final 200 meters was, "I need to get out of this swamp!"       

Bike -- 1:04:29
Even though the swim was not fast, the warm water took a lot of energy out of me.  The first few miles of the bike were tough, I struggled to calm my heart rate and my power output was lower than normal.  Fortunately, I rode with Rich Allen (the eventual 8th place finisher) back up to the group, and by mile 5 mile of the bike, I was with a group of 5 athletes (we were in 3rd to 8th place).  I would soon work my way to the front of the group.  Over the 30 mile course only Daniel Bretscher and I took turns pulling the group.  This was a tactical error on my part.  I knew I was not the strongest runner in this group, so I should have either tried to break from the group around 20 miles, or done less work and saved my legs for the run.  I'll be smarter next time.  Our group came into T2 together, we had a good gap over the next chase group, so these 5 athletes would determine places 3rd-8th.  
























Run -- 37:48
I had a sub par T2 losing about 10 seconds to the group of athletes I came off the bike with.  Over the first mile or so, the gap stayed at 10 seconds but then over the next mile, the gap grew to more than 30 seconds.  I was clicking off 5:50-6:00 miles, when I should have been running 5:30s, so I knew I was not running well, but I was still in 8th place and knew I could move up if my legs came around.  Around 3 miles into the run, I caught a time check of the runner in 7th: Rich Allen was about 30 seconds up the road.  However, I was closing the gap -- by mile 4 I had it down to 10 seconds.  About half a mile later, I moved into 7th place.  Now, my goal was to stay in 7th and if an athlete up the road overheated, I would jump at the opportunity to take 6th.  Mile 5 was a decent mile, but the next 1.2 miles were tough.  I was the one overheating, so I focused on my form and tried to ignore the heat and pain.  Once I saw the finish chute I was relieved and ran through the finish line in 7th place. 

The race was a success, I picked up some crucial points towards qualifying for 70.3 World Championships and was pleased with a top 10 performance.  I also learned a lot this race and gained some confidence.  I have lots of room for improvement including modifying my race tactics, having better transitions, and putting forth an overall better athletic performance.            


I want to thank my better half for cheering me on, I always love when she travels with me on my triathlon adventures.  I also want to thank  Adam and Natalie for all their wonderful hospitality and a great homestay.  Lastly, I want to thank my sponsors, Parcyles, Rudy Project, and First Endurance Nutrition-- their support has been key.

Next up is Racine 70.3 on Sunday, July 15th.

  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

EAGLEMAN 70.3 11th Professional

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

Eagleman 70.3 is a great race put on by Tri Columbia.  If you're looking for a 70.3 in the Central Atlantic area, this is it.  

SWIM -- 23:18
The past few races I have had sub par swim performances and in each case, the race did not start nor end well.  For this race I changed my game plan a bit; instead of going all out in the first 100 meters, I planned to hold back the first 100 meters.  I thought I could still swim with the first group, but did not want to be in the lead after 100 meters, but rather seating in 5th or 6th position. When the gun sounded, we were off, I followed my plan, took the first 100 meters at a more relaxed pace, and found myself swimming next to Craig Alexander and Richie Cunningham and in 6th place. I was really happy with this position: I was swimming with two of the greatest athletes in the sport and right in the middle of the first group.  I've been swimming well in the pool and it showed in the race, the pace felt easy and I felt great coming into T1.  Competing right next to the top guys is always a thrill.  When I'm finished racing, I'll remember coming out of the water within a couple of seconds of some of the best athletes in the world.  I came out of the water in 6th, right with the first group and looking ahead to a great race.     
Coming out of the water and happy to see Richie Cunningham,
Greg Bennett and Craig Alexander only a couple seconds ahead. I think that might even be Richie's foot in the picture. 

BIKE -- 2:10:41
I got onto the bike with Craig Alexander and Richie Cunningham.  Greg Bennett had a quicker T1 and was off hammering away.  Within the first mile Alexander put down the hammer (he is really the complete athlete, a great swimmer, great cyclist, and the best runner around) and gapped Richie and me; I did not even try to match the pace.  Richie and I soon caught David Kahn, who had about a 25 second lead out of T1, and the three of us road together for the next 10 miles or so.  As I came around Richie to take a pull, my rear shifter broke.  I was shocked, I could not shift anymore!  I yelled a few expletives and kept riding along.  Eventually I had to jump off the bike to reset my back wheel.  The broken shifter left me alone, I had lost the pace of Richie and David, and could not match the pace of TJ Tollakson as he rode by.  Fortunately when James Bowstead came along, I was riding well, my wheel no longer rubbing the brake, and I was in a position to change the my perspective on the race.  No longer was I thinking of not finishing, but now my plan was to ride with him as long as I could, and see if he could bring back into contention, even though I only had use of one gear.  When James passed me I let him know I would likely be unable to help with the pace, since I was stuck in my 53x16.  James Bowstead is a great cyclist and pulled me back to Richie and David.  This was great, a race that could have resulted in a DNF because of a mechanical, was looking up.  However, the single gear riding was taking its toll, even though the course is relatively flat.  When riding with the wind, I was spinning about 100-115 RPMs, and when riding into the wind, I was spinning about 70-80 RMPs (either too high or too low for me).  With about 10 miles to go, James and Richie dropped me, and I rode solo into T2 in coming into 6th.  Even though the bike was not great, I was in striking position to get a top 5 finish and hoping for a breakthrough performance.          



Coming in on the bike.  Check out the right shifter
it broke at mile 10.  Riding in the 53X16 was not too
bad, but not ideal either. 
Eagleman 70.3 is flat as a pancake, so if there's a time
to break a rear shifter, it was this race. 























RUN -- 1:36:45
My run plan was to put together a 1:20 or so half marathon.  Richie and James (4th and 5th respectively), had about 1:10 lead out of T2, and I (6th) had about a 3:00 lead over David Kahn.  The next athletes were all more than 6 or 7 minutes back, so I felt confident that I was going to have a top 7 performance. 

It was HOT, the temperature at the start of the run was 93 degrees and there is no shade on the run course.  I knew if ran well I may be able sneak up to 5th or 4th.  The first three miles went perfectly; I was holding back, running a 6:20 mile pace and feeling great. I thought, "This it, I've finally put together a good race."  I passed James Bowstead between miles 2 and 3 and was in 5th place.  Awesome!  However, my optimism fell as my body temperature rose: I slowly started over heating and running slower and slower.  Miles 4, 5 and 6 were not great; I held a 7:10 mile pace.  James Bowstead had passed me to move into 5th and right before the turn around, David Kahn passed me as well.  I was in 7th, and finished the first half of the 13.1 miles in 44 minutes. I told myself that I could run a 1:28 and still take 7th.  However, the rest of the run was a real struggle.  I eeked out a couple of 8:00 minute miles, followed by a run/walk horrible mile 12, which took over 11 minutes.  I was beginning to fear I'd not finish: my vision was blurry (the only way I could see was keeping one eye closed) and I began cramping in my hamstrings.  Lucky for me a spectator was out in front of her house spraying athletes with water.  I shuffled over to her hose, asked for the the hose, and drank water for about 30 seconds.  After filling up a bit and cooling off, I ran a 7:00 mile to finish the race in 11th position in the professional field.  A 1:36 is pretty much a horrible run time for me, but I'm very proud to have finished this race.  Without that friendly spectator with the hose, I'm not sure I would have.    


Running well here at mile 2 or so.  Mile 2 was a 6:15 mile. 
I thought I had a 5th place showing coming my way. 




"
Limping across the line in 11th as the hamstrings both don't want to run any more.




The legs just stopped working about mile 4 and the result looks like this. 
Proud to have struggled through and finished this one.

I want to thank my better half for cheering me on throughout the run course.  It was fun to have you out there.  I also would like to thank my excellent homestay (Deb and Greg).  Thanks so much for the wonderful hospitality, it was great to meet you guys. And also thanks for making my icebath possible, it made all the difference for my recovery!

Next up Muncie 70.3 and Racine 70.3!  I know I am good for a top 10 finished, now it's time to put a couple together!

Time for an ice bath.  My little friends thought I was crazy.  



Friday, May 25, 2012

5150 Columbia Triathlon (12th Professional)

Over the weekend I raced the 5150 Columbia Triathlon.  Before I write about the race, I'd like to thank Tri Columbia for putting on a great race.  I'd also like to thank Jeanine and Jim for hosting me in Maryland.  Having homestays are always great and I know professional athletes appreciate it, thanks guys!    

As for the race, unfortunately, I raced poorly again.  Coming into the race I felt I could hit a top 10 and maybe even a top 5 performance if I nailed every aspect of the race.  The key to such performance was having a swim that put me out with the main group of contenders.  I had been swimming and running great throughout the week, but come race day I just did not have it.  Throughout the race, I could never get my effort level higher than 75%, and basically had sub par performances in each of the three activities.  I felt as if I was racing at 10% deficiency.  

Two positive take aways: (i) I stayed focused and psoitive even as I did not race well and (ii) I scored 240 points with a 12th place finish in the 5150 Hyvee points race.  If I score a few top 5-10 races in the next 3 races I may be in the running for scoring a race entry.  However, I'll need to over come my recent race issues.  

After speaking with my coach, we think my warm up is partly to blame for my lack of success in the last two races.  I don't think I was sufficiently warmed up to go out at the break neck speed that Olympic distance racing is.  I'll be working on this for the next race.  I'll also mix up my pre race nutrition since I've had the same meal for each of the past two races, and they clearly have been two of my poorest performances.   
Next up is Mooseman 70.3 on June 3.  Looking forward to finally putting together a good race in 2012. 

A few pictures of the race are below:


















Monday, May 7, 2012

REV 3 KNOXVILLE

I headed west to Knoxville, TN to compete in a REV 3 Olympic Distance Race.  I really enjoy racing Rev 3 events, the Rev 3 staff is excellent, and they've done a wonderful job organizing and putting on races at every distance.

Leading up to the race I felt great.  I had been hitting all of my workouts and I was ready for a break through performance.  

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.  I simply had a sub par performance in each aspect of the race.  From the start of the swim, onto the bike and run, and even stumbling through T1, I just did not perform well.  One of the few positive aspects of the race, was that I finished and in finishing I learned a little more about racing.  

Back to training and to better races in the future.  Next up is the 5150 Columbia Tri on May 20th.  

Race Stats: 

Swim: 18:19

Bike: 59:26

Run: 35:42

Total: 1:56:50



I was running well here; it's only when I had to go uphill did I slow significantly.

 


Coming down the finishing chute.  


Sunday, April 8, 2012

CARY LONG COURSE DUATHLON

Heading out on Run 2. 
The Cary Duathlon is the last race in a 3 part series put on by FS Series.  The race consists of a 5 mile run 31 mile bike and another 5 mile run.  Each run is 2 loops of a 2.5 mile rolling hill course through Thomas Brooks Park and the surrounding communities.  The bike is full of rolling hills, views of Jordan Lake, and on Saturday, a stiff wind.        

First Run -- 5 Miles (27:11 5:26/mile pace)
The plan for the race was to run well, but not too fast, create a lead on the bike, and then run fairly easy for the second run to hold on for the win.  I took out the run at a pretty relaxed 5:20/mile pace and went through the first mile in 5:19.  I settled into around a 5:25-5:30 pace for miles 2-5 and came into T1 with roughly a 50 second lead on second place.  

Bike -- 31.5 Miles (1:17:05)
The bike was full of hills, wind and more hills and wind.  About 2.5 miles into the first run, I realized my legs were still feeling the effects of TX 70.3.  Since I wasn't feeling great, I had to ride smart.  I decided to attack the down hills and the flats, and ride within myself on all the uphills.  I was hurting and really didn't want to go too hard and then be caught by the other athletes with 5 or so miles to go.  I wanted to get off the bike with a lead, and feel good enough to run the second 5 miles.  The plan paid off, and even though I didn't have an excellent ride, I rode well enough to post the fastest bike split of the day and extend my lead.  A highlight of the ride was also having a lead vehicle show me the way around the course.  Sometimes a lead vehicle can be a smelly diesel pick up truck, but for this race, it was a Chevy Volt.  It was awesome to have an electric car ahead me!    

Second Run -- 5 Miles (30:19 -- 6:03/mile pace)
Jumping off the bike and back to another 5 miles run was rough.  Duathlons are much harder on my body than triathlons, and my legs were not so happy about the 5 miles I was about to do.  Like last week, my legs began to cramp, but unlike last week, the cramps were only in my calves.  I can run with cramping calves -- not fast, but I can make do.  Fortunately for me and my calves, with a good-sized lead I had some time to spare if my run was slow.  At the first turn around, a little over a 1.5 miles into the run, I saw the second place athlete. I calculated that I had slightly over a 3:00 lead.  I was running roughly 5:50-6:00/mile pace, not blazing fast, but knew that this would be good enough to get the job done.  I also had a a few more turn checkpoints to see if the second and third place runners were making up any time.  At the second checkpoint, my lead was still about 3:00, and I thought to myself, "perfect, sustain the same pace for the next 2.5 miles".  My lead was the same at the third checkpoint, so with only 1.5 to go, I eased up.  I was tired, and feeling the effort of last weekend; I did not want to put myself into a hole if I did not have to.  I ran about 6:30 pace for the final mile and cruised into the victory with a 2:40 win (results).

I'd like to thank FS Series for putting on a great race, I had a blast and hope to be back for a few more.  I'd also like to thank my better half for making it to the race, taking some great pictures (shown on the post) and cheering me on.  It's always fun to have her in the crowd.  She often trains with me, so having her at races just makes it another day of training.   

Starting the second loop of Run 2.  I was little tired by now. 

Coming down the finish chute.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

IRONMAN TEXAS 70.3

IM Texas 70.3 had a stacked field.  Two world champion athletes, the current world record holder at the IM distance, a seven time Tour de France winner, and many other athletes that have won 70.3 races.  My fitness is great right now and I anticipated surprising a few athletes.  If things went well, I thought I could have a top 10 showing.  The plan was to have a good swim and exit before the super cyclist, work with them for the ride, and then run as well as I could. 


SWIM -- 24:22
This was the roughest swim start I have ever participated in.  From the moment the gun went off, everyone was fighting for position.  I usually sprint out and settle into a nice position sitting in second or third position of the first group.  However, in this swim, I was simply beat up too much to make it out of the main pack and to the front.  The first 1000 meters of the swim consisted of three or four kicks to the face, a well place fist to my right eye, filling up my goggles, and lots of swimmers swimming into me and I swimming into them.  It was pretty miserable.  So much for my game plan.

After about 1000 meters, I decided to swim wide, find some open water and try to swim my way back to the first group.  The first group was about 75-100 meters ahead of me, and I went for it trying to catch back up.  I passed about 10 guys but exited the water in 16th place.  I led the second group of athletes and we found ourselves about 1:00 down on the first swimmer and 30 seconds off the tail end of the first group.  

BIKE -- 2:12:50

The bike is a tough one, you ride into a crosswind/headwind for 28 miles, turn around, and then ride with a crosswind/tailwind for 28 miles.  Getting onto the bike I felt great.  I've been riding really well of late and my confidence was high going into the race.  I'm also  sporting a new ride, an Argon 118.  The bike is super face and simply cuts through the wind.  I took the first 10 miles at a relatively easy pace, and then picked it up.  I caught a group of guys that had exited the water in the first group and kept riding pass a number of riders.  At the turn around, I found myself in 11th place, and right with the 10th place rider.  This was a great showing.  I was feeling great.  However, I had a mechanical problem at mile 35, my areo bar dislodge from the insert.  This changed my position on the bike and forced me to favor my left side.  I eventually slowed a bit over the last 15 miles of the ride, and jumped off the bike in 15th place. 

RUN --  DNF

Jumping off the bike, my left hamstring was completely cramped and I knew my day may be over.  I started the run and tried to get a smooth stride going, but my cramps would not subside.  Not wanting to injure myself, I decided to call it a day.



In all, I learned a bit more about racing today.  I had a blast competing against some of the greatest athletes in the world, and I am looking forward to getting back out there.

I'd like to thank my homestay in Houston, Matt and Megan, thanks so much, and my homestay in Galveston, John and Sherry.  Everyone in Texas seemed to be so friendly.  Thanks again!  

More Pictures --