Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 St. George 70.3 Race Report

Here's a short summary of how the race went down for me and a few other brave souls from the Life Time Fitness South Jordan Tri Team.  Joining me at the start line was my lovely wife, Theresa, and friends Elmer, Brook, Alison, Dymon, and Bruce from the Team.  Some others from the Club included Keshia Sawyer, Marshall Stanclift, John Harward, and Niki Wallace.  Giving us great support from the sidelines were Tri Club members Diane Taylor and Lori Denning!
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The author (background), just scant seconds from discovering that his swim googles are sitting in his bag at T1, sitting alone and feeling abandoned.  Pictured from L to R are Elmer, John, Diane, Lori, and Broo
We had spent a long weekend in early April doing some training on the course and it really paid off, both from a fitness point of view, and learning how to approach the course -- especially the tough uphill of Snow Canyon from mile 40 to 45 -- and the extremely hilly middle 7 miles of the run course.  Our accomodations in Coral Ridge were great, and everyone chipped in with cooking and cleaning duties to turn the trip into (almost) a mini-vacation.

After a fairly easy packet pickup, T and I spent some time making sure our bikes were ready.  We had decided (too late, as it turns out...) to have Millcreek Bikes put sealant in our tubular tires, and when I first inflated T's rear tire, the sealant blew out of the valve and made a nice little mess.  Unfortunately, that sealant evidently caused the valve to not fully seal, and T would find out at about mile 20 that the valve was stuck open and there was not a way to get it fully closed.  Fortunately, mile 20 was at the Coral Ridge condo, so it wasn't too inconvenient.  But a big bummer as she was primed for a great race after a 33 minute swim and her bike and run were in pretty good shape for an early season event... lesson learned -- get the "new things" done at least 2 weeks before the race!

Race morning dawned clear and sunny, with the forecast predicted a high of 96 deg F, which I welcomed as I do fairly well in hot races (being a scrawny little guy).  Logistically, we could have driven out to T1 a little bit earlier, although we all had plenty of time to get the bikes staged and porta- potty visits accomplished.    And, as mentioned above, I had somehow left my swim googles in my swim bag at T1, and had it not been for me running across Gina Maxwell, who had unfortunately dropped out of the swim, my race would have started a bit late!

To make a long and painful story short, I commiserated with, and thanked Gina, borrowed her googles, and made my way into my start wave, about 10 minutes before the gun.  The Sand Hollow reservoir had "heated up" to a tolerable 60 deg, but I still went with my DeSoto hoodie.   What I didn't have time (or really, inclination) to do, which I should have done, was a warmup swim in the lake -- although this definitely would have taken some time and effort to accomplish, as there was no "warm up" swim area designated.  This race only gives you 3 minutes between waves, which is just about the amount of time that a steady freestyle stroke will take getting from the shoreline to the start line -- no opportunity to settle in, do some warmup drills, etc.  And, of course, as I customarily do in my first triathlon of the season, I went into some weird anxiety attack when the gun went off and couldn't get my breathing to settle down.  So this lead to a series of "rests" doing breaststroke and a little backstroke until shortly after the first turn buoy, when I managed to settle down and begin a steady freestyle.  Definitely something I need to address with some mental focus and relaxation techniques as well as more open water swimming practice.

As I jogged out of the water, I decided to try out the wetsuit strippers.  They did help getting my top and bottoms off a bit quicker than I would have managed, and I also think that putting vaseline on the wetsuit itself on the outside cuffs also helped.  Just before leaving T1, I also stopped for a nice dosage of sun screen lotion on my back and shoulders.  After an uneventful hop on the bike, I started churning my way around the Eastside of Sand Hollow reservoir after hearing the shouts of encouragement from Diane and Lori.

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Looking very happy to be away from the water and back on solid ground (or at least rubber).

My bike plan basically revolved around starting slow and then tapering (joking, but I was wasn't at all sure how my bike fitness would hold up)... I was assuming an FTP of about 205 watts so was shooting for an average wattage of 160, with up to 185 or so on the climbs.  The bike felt a little uncomfortable for the first 10 miles or so, but I didn't get the normal ITB pain, and credit goes to all of the foam rolling and trigger point work I've been doing at night.  At mile 20, I rolled past Brook, and he mentioned that he saw T standing at the side of the road in front of the Coral Ridge development, and I immediately suspected a problem with her rear tire -- unfortunately it turned out that I was right.  Sorry, honey!

But I continued to focus on keeping my power effort as constant as possible and was managing to hold 160-170 watts on the flats fairly easily.   The weather was perfect for a bike ride and the aid stations were awesome.   Most athletes that I passed were doing a good job on staying to the right, but there were a few knuckleheads who merrily stayed well over to the left and I had to either go way to the left but a couple of times was forced to pass on the right -- each time accompanied by a hard stare as I went by.   Come on, newbies, read the rules and follow them please...

Before I knew it, I was entering the dreaded but scenic Snow Canyon and relegated myself to keep the power from spiking and put in a steady 180 watts on the 5 mile climb.  The legs still felt pretty strong and I continued to pass lots of athletes who had started in waves ahead of me.  Stomach was no problem and the EFS drink mix was going down well.  Was drinking about 8 oz. of water every hour and all systems were green as I steadily made my way up the canyon.
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Picture taken on our Training Camp weekend!
At the top of Snow Canyon, I silently rejoiced, because I knew that the bike ride was essentially over and all that remained was to keep on some wattage, stay aero, and cruise into T2, relatively refreshed for the nice, hilly and hot half-marathon.  I was fairly surprised at how many people I passed on the way back into town -- I was not putting out anything over 160 watts -- but my Trek Speed Concept 7.5 bike, along with my Hed wheels and tubular tires were purring along like a dream, and I managed to pass a few more peeps (total of 29 in my age group on the bike, and what turned out to be 9 more on the run).

Running into T2, I heard and then saw Elmer heading out on the run -- which gave me some motivation to keep on moving quickly through transition and out on the street.   I then saw T standing on the sidewalk; I slowed to a walk and got the quick race report from her.  And as I started running again, she added that Elmer was about 4 minutes ahead of me.   The first 3 miles up Diagonal street seemed to go fairly well; the legs were tired but felt good and I tried to get in a nice pace, slightly slower than what I wanted the average run to feel like. At the second aid station, I dug out some energy pills (First Endurance pre-race pills and a couple of Wicked Fast Energ Ease pills) and chugged those down with water.   Started taking ice and stuffing in the race cap and into the top/shorts -- that would be my pattern at each aid station (some just had ice water). 

As I started up that nasty climb on Red Bluff Parkway, I just concentrated on using a good run technique to "bounce" my way up the hill with a strong arm drive.  That served me well, as there were only a couple of other athletes who were managing to run uphill, with the rest walking.  At the top of the hill I tried to keep up a good pace as it flattened out, and kept searching for the sight of Elmer (I knew that he was a strong runner and it would be somewhat surprising to catch him).  I did run up to Alison, who was walking, and I gave her a few words of encouragement.
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Very happy to be running down the homestretch!

The rest of the run went by fairly quickly; I just focused on "staying in the box" and counting steps, keeping cooled down, and taking in coke/water/perform.  I walked nearly all of the aid stations while I doused myself and took in fluids; this seemed to keep my legs pretty fresh as I started off again.  Never did see Elmer... it turns out that he was in an ambulance at mile 3 as I passed him, and then somehow missed him on the way back.  On the final couple of miles, Diane and Lori were going crazy with the cowbells and shout outs -- much appreciated!  I also saw Gina Maxwell and former marathon client, Michelle Weaver on the final homestretch down Main Street.  Good crowd to welcome all the triathletes across the finish line, and I even managed to jump at least 6 inches off the ground in an attempt to touch the finish line clock.

Sorry, didn't buy this awesome photo!  Actual
finisher time was 5:52:36
And that is how 2014 St. George 70.3 went down in the record books for me.  Final time of 5:52, 22nd in my age group out of 75 that finished.  Swim split 47' (need to take off at least 8 min, easy speed there), Bike split 3:06 (need my FTP to get back to 240 watts for next year, and get that to at least a 2:55), and run split 1:51 (good, but could be around 1:45 with a little more running).   So I'm setting my goal at 5:27 next year, which should get me on the new 60-64 age group podium.  :-)

My nutrition plan worked pretty well for me; these are the basic numbers:
Breakfast:  Bagel with peanut butter, banana, 1.5 scoops of Ultragen and water (500 cal).
Pre-race:  one dose of UCAN with water 45 min prior to start (90 cal)
Bike:  700 cal of EFS grape drink in one water bottle.   Also took one gel, one bonk breaker bar from an aid station and half a banana (about 150 cal).  Drank about 2 1/2 bottles of water on course.
Run:  About 4 oz of water and 3 oz of either perform drink or coke at each of the 10 aid stations, so about 300 calories from fluid and one gel.

For my next Ironman, I'll probably go with about the same numbers, except I might also take some UCAN in one water bottle to augment the EFS sports drink.  I'll also be sure to take some Pre-race and Energ-Ease pills on the bike and run for a small boost in energy.

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Elmer Benites, Brook Sessions, and the author all very happy to have survived the race and looking forward very much to cold drinks in a hot tub!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkinman Las Vegas 2013 Race Report

This is going to be a short and concise race report for the Pumpkinman Half-IM distance race.  After some pre-race drama thanks to the Federal Government shutdown, the race organizers gave the green light on Thursday before the event.  So T and I packed up and left Friday morning for Vegas.  T was excited to do her first tri since rupturing her ACL last December while skiing.

This race (sprint/Oly/Half) starts at Lake Mead, about 3 miles from Boulder City on Boulder Beach.  The weather and water conditions were ideal -- low 60s air, low 70s water at 7 am.  I had a pretty laid back attitude towards this race (minimal bike training) and just wanted to have a good swim, even paced bike, and solid run.

The swim went ok, I overcame the usual hyperventilation in the first 300 meters or so, and then got into a good stroke with a mantra which helped "keep in the box" for me.  My swim yardage has been at an all time high and it showed in my swim time of 41 min, which (for the first time EVAH) was the fastest in my age group.  Tragically, in the Oly race, a 59 year-old man drowned (probably from a heart attack) and was discovered by another athlete (feet were already blue).  If you ever see someone in trouble during the swim, stop and make sure they are OK!

Put the Hed wheels on the Trek, so no power output on the bike.  This was probably a mistake, as the bike course is hilly (rolling hills for the most part) with 4500 feet of elevation -- and I could have used a power meter to even out my efforts.  Went through some low spots, lots of ITB and hamstring pain, and  it reminded me that nothing replaces good solid threshold interval workouts on the computrainer.  I did somehow manage to get a second wind on the last 4 miles of the ride, up a 4% grade, and passed 3 guys who had passed me earlier.  Not sure what that was about, but it may have been a mental sugar-related boost from taking my one and only gel during the ride (I did my usual 1.5 scoops, about 120 cal, of UCAN per hour).  Or those guys may have just started flaming out (they all had miserable runs as it turned out).  As usual, on UCAN, no stomach issues and no feelings of bonking during the entire race. Bike time was a very slow 3:23 or so.  I wasn't expecting a great time, but that was pretty disheartening when I looked down at my Garmin and saw that!

But onto the run... legs felt pretty good, temperature was perfect (mid-70s, although with a clear sky and no shade it definitely felt warmer).  Was glad I was wearing the Hoka Bondi-Bs as they felt pretty springy and smooth.  Wasn't wearing my Garmin on the run, so I just ran by feel and tried to do a slightly negative split (not sure, but I probably came close).  This run is not flat, but not too hilly -- although tons of peeps were walking the little grades.  Not any spectators, and it got very lonely on the run out there in the desert... two loops and the first 3 miles felt like 5...

Took in about 3 small cups of Gatorade during the run and half a Clif shot bloks package that I brought along.  No coke provided, but my energy felt fine and again no GI issues.  Left hamstring felt a little crampy for a while, but it fixed itself after about 2 miles.  Felt a little blister issue about halfway and it was indeed a big blister on my index toe but didn't really hurt during the run.  Finished the run pretty strong in 1:49; probably could have pushed it a little bit more but wasn't motivated to hurt more than I had too (and I indeed had two days of very very sore quads after the race).  Managed to finish in 23rd place out of about 100 and 1/6 age group.  Only got chicked by one woman!  :-)
Lessons Learned:
a.  Could probably have taken more UCAN or a couple of more evenly spaced gels during the bike
b.  The Hacienda Hotel on highway 93 south of Boulder City is  very close to the race -- nothing fancy, but location, location, location.
c.   Forgot to use sun screen.  Vaseline on the wrists and ankles doesn't make a difference in getting the wetsuit off (next time take it off in the water).
d.  Use slippers to run from the water to the bike -- it is a very long run up a very rough chip seal road.
e.  Take a power meter on the bike and ride the course smartly -- it is rolling and offers numerous opportunities for dumb mistakes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leadman Epic 125 2013 Race Report

As the Leadman is an event owned by Life Time Fitness, I felt that I owed it to the company (and myself) to check it out in order to better prepare triathletes to train for future Leadmans.  And the race entry $$$ discount as a Life Time Tri coach and the 19 micro-breweries in Bend certainly didn't hurt!  I did show a rare example of common sense when I changed my entry from the Epic 250 to the 125 race based on a sore shoulder and an extreme lack of any serious long distance bike training.  My training for the 6-day Trans Rockies run helped eliminate most  long bike/swims that I would need for a 5km swim followed by a 223km (138 mile) bike leg.  So that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!  :-)

So, after a long drive from SLC, T and I arrived late Thursday afternoon in Bend, just early enough to unpack, unwind, and locate a highly recommended brewery/pub/restaurant, 10 Barrel Brewery.  An absolutely delightful place to eat/drink/hang out with the locals; I highly endorse it as well.                    
10 Barrel Brewery: Overjoyed with my 10 sample appetizer!

The next day, we did the usual day before a triathlon stuff; race packet pickup, drive the 40 miles out to T1 and drop off the bike/bike bag, jump in Cultus lake and swim around for 10 minutes while T kept saying "I'm glad I'm not doing this race!", then drive back to Bend and drop off the run bag at T2.  The weather forecast was for low 40s in the morning, with 30% chance of rain showers, so I prepared for the bad weather and kept thinking nice positive thoughts like "well, it could be snowing" or "well, I could be in the Marines and stationed in Afghanistan" or "well, at least I'm lucky to be doing a triathlon"...  The highlights of the day were meeting nice people at the race briefing, including the Life Time Event director, Keith Hughes, and fellow Life Time tri coach Cathy Yndestad (who by the way is a world class age-grouper and would take 3rd overall female the next day despite being jet-lagged from returning from the ITU age group world championship in London).   We also met one of my favorite pro triathletes, Jesse Thomas, who lives in Bend and owns a company which makes a very good sports bar, "Picky Bars."  Jesse is well known for winning the iconic Wildflower triathlon multiple times and for rocking the fake Ray Bans on his runs... and T just thinks he's the cat's meow...
Pro Jesse Thomas and one of his fans
Race morning:   Woke up at 0400, stayed awake till the alarm went off at 0430, and it was game on.  Slapped on the race number decals (a nice touch, but they are damn near impossible to get off), took in a light breakfast (oatmeal/peanut butter bars and banana), coffee, grabbed my swim stuff.  T drove me 3 miles to T2, where shuttle buses drove the triathletes the 40 miles to the race start.  Spectators were discouraged from going out to T1 because of the closed roads (which meant that they would be stuck at T1 for a couple of hours after the start.)  Of course, T was more than happy to wish me luck with a kiss, and drive back to the warm hotel room for a nice reentry into Z's ville!

 Swim:  Got out to T1 with about an hour to my wave start; the 250 Epic triathletes in our bus and the ones behind us were, however, really pressed for time and they barely had time to get their wetsuits on, get their bikes ready, and jump in the lake.  There was a nice heated tent for everyone to stay in before their wave, and even though it was cloudy and had rained overnight, it was partly cloudy for the start, with temps in the low 40s.  About 30 min. prior to my start, I took in some Generation UCAN (one scoop with a little protein powder) to kick off my fat burning.  On the bike I had a bottle of UCAN (4 scoops of Cranberry-Raspberry) which would supply my calories on the bike.  I elected not to wear my hoodie, with the water temp around 61 deg F, and the fact that the hoodie was giving me an uneasy "choking" feeling (I need all the help I can get with being at ease in the water!).  Despite what I preach to my Tri Team, I just couldn't drag myself to getting a warmup swim in (neither did anyone else in my wave!), but I did do my favorite movement prep exercises in the warming tent (a pre-race ritual which helps calm me down).   The race started about on time, and the only glitch was an aborted attempt to play a recording of the national anthem (I was ready to go old school and help the crowd sing it acapella just like Dave Hornung's races, but Keith decided that discretion was the better part of valor...). 

Well, my wave finally started, and although the water really wasn't too cold, I still needed to take a few "breaks" from my freestyle and calm down with some breaststrokes.  I finally got comfortable with the water and got into a solid rhythm after about 500m or so.  The water in Cultus Lake is crystal clear, and the swim reminded me of swimming in Lake Taupo, at Ironman New Zealand.  Another nice thing about Leadman is that the small number of triathletes (about 360 total) meant very manageable swim waves (about 65 per wave), so there was no real shenanigans in the swim.  I did get passed by some 250k swimmers, but they were very nice and didn't swim over me.  At some point I did notice getting slowly passed by a very pale female swimmer (no wetsuit), who did have a nice layer of natural insulation going for her.  I kept waiting for my right shoulder to start complaining with a lot of pain, but I focused on stroking with a bit of external rotation, which seems to help minimize the impingement, and I finished the swim with a pretty good time for me -- 45:06, but of course way behind the good swimmers.  

Bike:  The only real "complaint" I had about this race is that the changing tent for the men (yeah, it could be coed as well -- see Ironman Austria!) was very cramped, with stuff/gear bags everywhere, with no benches or chairs to sit on.  So everyone either sat on the wet grass or a gear bag or tried to get their wetsuits off and bike clothing on while standing up.  A fairly comical madhouse ensued.  Suffice to say it was not my fastest T1 transition -- as a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it was my slowest ever -- about 11 minutes!  I will blame it on lack of body glide -- took me forever to get my wetsuit bottom off; and I should have worn my tri shorts (wanted to put them on dry); and I should have used a grocery plastic bag to help get my rain parka on (it took me FOREVER to get my cold, clammy hands through the tight sleeves).  Lastly, it took at least 2 minutes to get my light winter gloves on -- full finger biking gloves would have been easier to get on (although probably not nearly as warm -- trade off there).  My other mistakes were forgetting to bring bike shoe toe covers -- my feet were frozen the entire ride and half of the run -- and not putting on leg or at least knee warmers.  Oh well.  I finally got on the Trek Speed Concept 7.5 and madly started climbing up the short hill from the lake to the main highway (to get warm).

I had elected to leave the PowerTap wheel and disc cover at home for this race and use my Hed race wheels with tubular tires -- just to go as light as possible for the long climbs.  This turned out to be a pretty good decision, as I felt pretty comfortable on the uphills, and wickedly fast on the long 20 mile downhill from Mt. Bachelor into Bend.  I tried to keep the power on about 160 watts (by feel, of course) on the flats and about 200 watts on the uphills.  After going through some stretches of feeling pretty leg weary on the first 25 miles, as I started up the climb to Mt. Bachelor pass, my legs started to respond pretty well.   My mental imagery was "just lift the knees" and that seemed to keep my cadence relatively high and I passed quite a few athletes on the climbs and only was only passed by a handful of peeps (along with 3 very fast 250k athletes, who had to do an extra 20 miles out and back).  My stomach and energy level was good, except for a couple of periods of mild stomach distress after drinking some gatorade (should have just stuck with the water).  No real drama on the bike; the weather  stayed dry (the sun even peeked out occasionally); the scenery was of course stunning, and the aid stations were well stocked and every 10 miles or so.  Leg warmers would have probably helped a little, but I really wasn't that cold until the long 20 mile downhill leg into Bend... man, oh man, was I either pedaling hard or tucked into the best aerodynamic position I could muster, to get off that bike as fast as I could.  By that point, my neck was really getting tired of being aero (thank goodness the lack of traffic and other bikers let me look down for 10 seconds at a time before peeking back up) and my crotch was saying "you need a more comfortable saddle!!!" to my brain.  There is nothing like feeling like a frozen popsicle to motivate you to go as fast as possible down a screaming downhill at speeds which you would never attempt normally.  I finally saw Summit High School  (T2), with T's smiling face on the corner, after about 3:33 of biking.  I had gone from 105th place after the swim to 68th place, and was just very, very happy to get off that bike and start running to warm myself up!

"My goodness, where are my feet?"
Note the nice cross-country skiing gloves!

Run:  When I got off the bike and tried to run into the changing tent, I wasn't surprised to find that I could not feel my feet at all -- a rather unpleasant feeling, but one that I have experienced in some cooler triathlons before.  After shedding the gloves, beanie/helmet, and rain parka (the weather was still dry, yeahhh!), and putting on the 'ol Newtons, I stumbled out of the tent.  T was right there and had a quizzical look on her face as she said, "What's wrong?".  I mumbled "Can't feel my feet", tried to smile, and then hobbled onward...
Running on popsicles--not fun!
     Of course, right away, some Masters guy which I had blazed past on the last mile into T2 comes screaming up besides me and starts to take off at a pretty good pace (which was probably only 7:45s).  Usually, given that situation on most long triathlons, I let similar yahoos take off, (only to see them again in a few miles), but given my frozen popsicle feet, I was all about getting my body temperature up, so I took off in "hot" pursuit.  Which was very uncomfortable with my numb feet!  But it did start to  warm me up, and I started to get into a nice rhythm with a 2-2 breathing pattern.  At the second aid station, I took a little gatorade (I hadn't brought along any UCAN because the run was so short -- about 7.5 miles) which seemed to give me again a bit of stomach distress, but nothing too serious.  At about mile 2, my running rival seemed to turn it on a bit and got about 10 yards ahead, but then he stalled out.  We started to hit some uphills at mile 3 or so, and that's when I overtook him (thank you, uphill evolution running technique!), and I never saw him again until the finish line (about 3 minutes after I crossed).  Everyone on the 2 or 3 short steep uphills was walking -- but I  kept running, albeit pretty slowly -- and I made up a lot of ground, and kept up a steady pace on the flats and then really tried to run quickly on the downhills. 

     About mile 4, my body wanted to shift to a 1--2 breathing pattern, and my brain happily accommodated.  It was also around that point that I went to a tried and true mental "trick" of running to a point about 20 yards ahead, feeling a brief moment of victory, and then picking another landmark and repeating ad nauseum.  Sounds silly now but... it works!  I also had some good motivating thoughts,  thinking about the mexican food and Deschutes Brewery beer waiting for me in the athlete's garden!  And the other nice part about the run was picking people off one by one...  with about 500m left, I passed a guy who looked fairly "mature" and I made sure I passed him with some authority, just to make sure he dismissed any thoughts about racing me... it seemed to work as he didn't respond.  Turned out that he was the other guy in my 55-59 yr age group!  Not that it really mattered... in the Leadman, it's all about getting a belt buckle by beating the qualification cutoff -- there are no age group awards.  But of course, it's good to know that you are first in your age group -- and not D.F.L.!  :-)  In any case, I finally had the finish arch in sight, so I zipped up my nice Life Time Fitness bike jersery and tried to look good running across the line.  

     T was waiting with open arms in the finish chute (something you won't see at a 70.3 race!) and I happily surrendered my timing chip and accepted a nice, solid finisher's medal.  Run split was 56:29, the 26th fastest run time (out of 148 finishers), and I finished in 5:28:30, 44th overall.  Felt pretty good with that, although with a decent swim time and normal T1 time I should have been under 5:15 (which was the advertised small belt buckle cutoff time).  The finish line vibe was great, with a nice band for live music entertainment, great food/drink (including aforementioned Deschutes beer), great swag, and a farmer's market.  After re-loading on plenty of carbs/protein, we made our way back to our hotel for a much needed hot shower and change of clothing, before returning to the finish area to cheer on the 250 finishers and the awards ceremony.  By then, the race organizers had decided to relax the 125 small belt buckle times by 45 minutes, so I qualified to get a nice belt buckle momento, which was a perfect way to top off a memorable day.  As we saw the 250 Epic finishers straggle across the line, we cheered them for their tremendous accomplishment under some pretty tough conditions (all of the 250 racers got thoroughly drenched on the bike with rain and hail).  I have done 12 Ironman triathlons, but that Leadman 250 is one triathlon that I would approach very, very carefully and with a lot of respect!!!  

With Cathy Yndestad, who smoked the course in 4:44!

So, here are my "bottom line" recommendations and lessons learned from the 2013 Leadman 125:
  1. Prepare for poor weather conditions; know how to layer; and how to put the layers on quickly and how to take them off as you warm up.  Don't neglect toe covers, leg warmers, and good quality bike gloves.  Practice swimming in cold water.  
  2. UCAN again proved to work beautifully as my nutrition for this race.  For all future races, I will take a small gel flask with UCAN (mixed as a paste) to avoid any possibility of stomach issues.
  3. Racing without a power meter (and GPS on the run) is OK if you are experienced with racing with "feel" and can sometimes result in better race results (be careful with this one!).
  4. Leadman is a beautiful venue; a small, well-organized race with an old school triathlon feeling; very friendly atmosphere, great swag.  And it doesn't cost an arm and a leg like the WTC triathlons!  But don't let the friendly vibe fool you - it is a grueling race; it can be cold; it's at altitude, the bike and run are hilly, and you can be very lonely on the bike at times.  But Bend, Oregon is absolutely charming, and this race should be on your bucket list -- especially if you are a strong biker!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I have a man crush on Jack Reacher.

For all you Jack Reacher fans out there, a list of the novels by Lee Child in order!!!

1. Killing Floor
2. Die Trying
3. Tripwire
4. The Visitor
also known as Running Blind 
5. Echo Burning
6. Without Fail
7. Persuader
8. The Enemy
9. One Shot
10. The Hard Way
11. Bad Luck and Trouble
12. Nothing To Lose
13. Gone Tomorrow
14. 61 Hours (that’s my book review)
15. Worth Dying For
That should be enough to get you going for a while. If you are new to the series, every book can be read in isolation–you won’t miss out on anything huge. But long-time readers are rewarded by nods to previous novels in almost every book. I’d recommend picking up at Killing Floor and going in order.
As far as that link. The next time you’re looking for the order of a book series, check out Fantastic Fiction.
And I'll join the legion of fans who think that Tom Cruise was a rather unfortunate choice of actor to star in what should be a series of Jack Reacher movies.  Hopefully they will make a different choice in the future.  I don't really have a good nominee; someone like the "Rock" but will blonde hair and blue eyes.  Someone on the intertubes recommended some guy from a Gladiator TV show -- anyone know who that would be?  My wife's vote would be the tall Scandanavian actor from the tv show "True Blood"...  Whoever it is needs to be at LEAST 6'4" and 230 lb and the quiet, introspective type with a bad ass mean streak when greatly provoked.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Powerman Zofingen Race Report

It's been 3 years since I did Powerman Zofingen -- long enough for me to forget just how utterly grueling this race is...  My first experience was in 2009 when I did a 8:31, 7th in my age group (50-54). This year  I was shooting for around a 8:15 total time or so... Logistics went well, typical swiss race organization. Weather was nice; a bit on the cool side (mid-60s but DRY) and I went with my normal tri kit and was fine. Arm warmers would have been nice on the downhills, though.

 The first run (10K) was good; I took it fairly easy and chatted with a guy in my age group wearing the Team USA kit (Gary Smith). Stopped to take a pee and he must have gotten ahead of me -- didn't see him again until the start of the second lap on the bike. First run time was around 41 min (it's also closer to 9 km than 10 km).

Jumped on the Trek SC and was off for 3 laps of 50 km each. I had run out of EFS powder so was using some Heed and an EFS gel flask and then race support for nutrition. At the expo I had found out that the race-provided sports drink (Sponsor)bottles should be around 200-240 cal each, and the gel tubes should be another 200 cal. My target for bike calories was about 1800 cal, or 600 cal a lap. I train by power and for this race I wanted to put in a well paced bike and then try to hang on to a 8:15 pace on the run (I had bonked badly on the 2009 race and had a 2:40 second run split, a time I wanted to get closer to 2:30).

As I settled into my bike ride, it dawned on me that my garmin 500 power display was erratic. After fooling around with it for at least 5 min, I wrote it off and attributed the problem to it not synching with my powertap in T1 before the race but instead synching to another bike. (Troubleshooting after the race, I now think that the powertap may be out of juice). In any case, I did the rest of the ride by "perceived effort" and heartrate on the hills.
The main lesson learned from the bike was that this race really really calls for a compact crank. I had a 39-27 combo, which, on the 10-15% grades (three big hills on each lap), reduced me to climbing off the seat quite a bit. Not really what I'm used to doing, and I think that it affected my run -- maybe by 5-10 min. Of course, I might have had a slower bike time had I stayed with a lower gear -- it's hard to say because the run is so tough and steep that the bike effort may not be as big a factor as it is in a normal ironman.

Another complicating factor is the impact of the first run... I'm not an experienced duathlete. In any case, my bike split was 5:02, which was 3 min faster than my 2009 time, but I had been shooting for a 4:50 or so. The garmin showed a total distance of 148 km, 1919 m of vertical -- but nice, empty roads, enthusiastic fans, and beautiful views. Only saw one instance of blatant drafting -- the small race field, hills, and first hilly run all contribute to spreading out the bikers quite well.

Pulled into transition feeling pretty good, having managed to stay on the nutrition plan and pretty much an even pace (maybe about 2 min slower on the third and final lap). Slipped the running shoes back on and after some looking around for the run exit, I was on my way. The Powerman Zofingen run course, part deux is absolutely horrendous if you don't love steep hills. If you do this race, I highly recommend you scout out the run by jogging it to appreciate how much energy/legs you need to save. The run sufferfest immediately starts off with a long slog uphill, getting steeper near the top, for 2.5 km, climbing 110 meters. You won't be alone if you start walking this hill -- I just settled into an evolution running technique of "kicking" the hill and slowly jogging the entire length, although I knew that I wasn't going to be meeting my goal of a run split under 2:30. Here's the strava file:

I also had a pretty high heart rate and knew that I needed to keep taking in fluids and also keep up on the calories, albeit to a lesser degree than on the bike. At the first run turnaround, I felt pretty tired, so I reached into my little fanny belt (DeSoto, thank you) and starting gnawing on my Cliff caffeine blocks -- they seemed to help a little bit, along with alternating small cups of coke and Sponsor electrolyte at the aid stations every 2.5 km or so. The run course was every bit as hard as I remembered it, with a never ending series of tough, steep little hills, interspersed with maze-like running on spongy grass in the park area which seems to suck out the remaining bounce from every step.

As I neared the halfway point/transition area, my wife's cheers of support and my dog's mad barking helped my spirits as well, and I managed to get a bit of a second wind. I concentrated on running up every hill, focusing on good technique, and picking off runners or running to a point and then picking another goal. I did have to walk a few times for 30 seconds at a stretch on the steep little mother coming out of the park area, but then maintained a pretty good pace, not getting passed for the last 4 km or so, and picking off about 5 more guys on their second lap. On the last long downhill (the 2.5 km hill), I leaned downhill and ignored the screaming quads as I started to smell the beer in the finish tent... In the finish area, the announcer (speaking in English) said that I had second place in my age group, which immediately made me feel a whole lot better, and I finished with a big smile of relief. (my wife told me later that he was also saying "______... you are a POWERMAN!" -- ala Mike Reilly. I'm surprised that WTC hasn't filed legal action yet...

Anyways, I finished with about a 2:37 run split, for a total time of 8:27. Not quite my goal of 8:15, mainly due to the second run split; I definitely needed to put in some more running preparation (a calf injury back in mid-June threw a small kink in my running training). I did finish 4th out of 20 in the 55-59 age group, and since they split each age group into a ITU qualifer and an "open" division, I got some swag/podium for 2nd place in the "open" division. Sweet! The awards dinner and ceremony were nicely done as well -- although it took a dramatic turn as the male elite winner gave his awards speech!;#4145999

All in all, an iconic race, with some very good athletes in a beautiful (and painful) setting. If you like the idea of substituting a hilly 10k run in place of playing water polo for 2.4 miles, I highly recommend this race -- it is right up there with any Ironman (I've done 12) for degree of difficulty. I'll definitely return for another visit to my dark place after a couple of years in order to forget those hills on the last run... :-)   Thanks to my sponsors, First Endurance nutrition (Pre Race and Ultragen rocks!) and DeSoto Sports!