Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Offseason Training Recap

A lot of Pro triathletes will talk about their training volume during big weeks. We're typically proud of the hours we've put in following these weeks and like to brag and make it seem as though we train such high volume year-round. I posted the details of my Ironman training block in my buildup to Rev 3 in my August post here.

However, what a given athlete does for one given week or even one month out of the year is far from a summation of how they train for the entire year. You have to look at the whole body of work and what they do during those down months which they typically won't write much about. In this post I will compliment my Ironman training summary by posting the opposite end of the spectrum, my offseason training summary.

First off, for a proper comparison let's recap the training totals that I logged for the month of August in preparation for my first 140.6

31 days of August training totals
Swim-91k (3k/day average)
Bike-1617 miles (52/day average)
Run-312 miles (10/day average)
Hours-165 (5.3/day average)

Now fast forward to the 55 day span of October 17-December 11, here are the training totals I logged.
October 17-December 11
Run-6 miles (.11 miles/day average)
Hours- <1 (<1 minute/day average)

That's right, in 55 days I wasn't in the pool once, didn't sit on a bike once, just did three runs totaling six miles. Now I will admit that my numbers are a little misleading, but just a little. I was doing about 5 hours/week of cross training (non swim-bike-run workouts) during this time. But still, it was very minimal and probably the longest break I've taken from training in a long time.

So the next time a pro triathlete tells you that they train 40+ hours/week, that doesn't necessarily mean that they train beyond normal human levels for the entire year, or even most of the year. It could be that you are not being told the full story.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bretscher Multisport 2010 Athlete Success

When I first started this blog, I intended to make it mostly about the athletes I coach as opposed to my own racing. For no particular reason, that didn't happen. Now that the 2010 multisport season is finished for all of my athletes I will take this opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of my full time athletes from this past year. I had a big mixture of athletes in 2010, ranging in age from 27 to 53, and ability from training for first ever triathlon to some of the top age groupers in the country. Below they are listed in alphabetical order.

Coming off his 10:28 performance as a Bretscher Multisport athlete at Ironman Wisconsin in 2009, Andrew used 2010 as a transition year, between Ironmans, to work on his speed. He put in a quality, consistent year of training with some solid race results along the way. Next year Andrew will return to the Ironman focus as a Bretscher Multisport athlete for the third straight year. Look out for this guy in Coeur D'Alene where he’ll attempt to smash 10 hours.

Coming off a breakthrough 2009 as a Bretscher Multisport athlete, Dana returned in 2010 set on improving upon results such as a top-3 overall finish in an Ironman 70.3. Dana's early season highlight was a 3 minute olympic distance PR with a 2:00:08 finish in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin. He added a couple local wins along the way to his peak race, the Muskoka 70.3 in Canada. At Muskoka in September, Dana had likely the best race of his life. A year after being the third place overall age grouper, Dana took the overall age group title by a full 6 minutes over second place. His time nearly placed him top-10 amongst the professional field. I could point out that Mirinda Carefree still chicked him by 20 seconds but that would just be cruel! Dana finished off his season two weeks ago at the 70.3 World Championships. Coming off his best training block of the year and more fit than he was in Muskoka, Dana was having a great race with a 90 second swim PR, moving up well on the bike, when a flat tire ruined what would have been a major PR for the distance. Still, a great year overall.

Julie had a fantastic season in her second year as a Bretscher Multisport athlete. Her early season highlights included a 14 minute olympic distance PR of 2:27 which netted her an age group victory. Add to that a new 70.3 PR of 5:19 turned in at the Racine 70.3. In that race Julie averaged 20mph for the 56 mile bike, just three weeks after riding 20mph for the first time ever in a 40k. She finished off her season with one of her most fulfilling race finishes conquering one of the most difficult 70.3 course in the world at the Muskoka 70.3 in her backyard of Canada. Julie set PRs in every distance she raced in 2010.

I still remember getting the email this past spring which read something to the effect of “I’ve never done a triathlon of any distance and I just entered Ironman Louisville, can you help me?” I can’t say I know too many people who enter an Ironman before completing even a sprint triathlon but this was the case with Luke. Luke completed his first sprint triathlon in April of 2010 and then as a Bretscher Multisport athlete made a successful Half Iron debut in July. Six weeks later and just four months after finishing his first ever triathlon Luke was standing on the start line in Louisville for his first Ironman. Despite 90+ degree weather Luke made it to the finish line and is an official Ironman finisher.

Mike #1
This was Mike's first year as a Bretscher Multisport athlete and a big step in his road towards being as healthy as possible. Mike took up the sport of triathlon in 2007 after seeing the Ironman on TV. At the time he weighed in at 220 pounds and was wearing size 38, unhappy about the road he was headed down. He made a pact to himself to become life fit and finish an Ironman triathlon before the age of 40. 2010 would be his last year before 40. Mike started his season by running the Boston Marathon in 3:42, a 32 minute PR. In July he raced a half Ironman to a 33 minute PR of 5:03. That left only his full-Iron debut which he would attempt at Rev-3 Cedar Point. He didn't just attempt it, he went under his ultimate goal of 12 hours with a 11:43, finishing before the sunset. That race marked the end of his three year journey from size 38, 220#, barely able to complete a 1-hour sprint triathlon to size 30, 183# and an Ironman finisher (not to mention sub-12 hours) before the age of 40. In all Mike set PRs in every distance he raced in 2010. Mike will return as a Bretscher Multisport athlete in 2011 with Ironman #2 already on the calendar!

Mike #2
Mike began as a Bretscher Multisport athlete this past summer not with a goal so much of going a certain time or speed, but wanting motivation to become life fit, guidance on how to live a healthy lifestyle, train effectively, become involved in the multisport community, and just wanting to feel good in general. Going fast is just the icing on the cake. Mike completed his first ever sprint triathlon in June and capped off his tri season by making a successful olympic distance debut in September. In just three months Mike dropped his threshold run pace by a full minute per mile, increased his threshold bike power by over 30 watts, and saw similar results in the pool. This past month he ran a 30 minute PR with a 2:07 half marathon. Mike will return as a Bretscher Multisport athlete in 2011 and I don't see any way he doesn't continue improving.

Coming off a mediocre, uninspired year of training and racing in 2009, Ron became a Bretscher Multisport coached athlete in 2010 with the hope of breaking out of his rut and realizing his potential. Did he ever. Ron started the year by winning the 50-54 age group by 15 minutes at Memphis in May. He went out west for the Boise 70.3, won his age group by 30 minutes and was the 9th overall fastest age grouper on the day. As impressive as that performance was he outdid it in July at the Door County Half in Wisconsin. At the age of 53, Ron raced to a LIFETIME half iron PR of 4:30, won his age group by 20 minutes, and his time was bettered by just one person over the age of 40. Ron's focus for the second half of the season was Age Group Nationals, the most competitive age group race in the country. Ron impressed once again, finishing runner-up in the 50-54 age group with a 2:10, it was his only age group finish other than first of the entire year. Coming off the tri season in possibly the best shape of his life, Ron decided to "jump in" the Des Moines marathon just to see what he could do. Just three weeks after the end of the tri season, and with no real marathon specific training, Ron ran a negative split, 2:58 marathon, a lifetime PR and his first marathon in over 20 years! Ron will return as a Bretscher Multisport athlete in 2011 and has his sights set on bigger things including a possible world championship appearance!

Suzanne turned to Bretscher Multisport coaching in 2010 to help her with her preparations for her Ironman debut in Wisconsin. But first she would need to complete her first half iron. She did so successfully in June and then raced to a very impressive 5:27 finish at the Steelhead 70.3 in July. Add to that an olympic distance PR and Suzanne set PRs in every distance she raced in 2010. In September it was Ironman Wisconsin and likely the most gutsy performance I can think of all year. With a great race in the making, Suzanne had a bike accident in the final miles of the ride and severely bruised her ribs. Looking for treatment in T2 she was told she could not be wrapped or she would have to withdrawal. Undeterred Suzanne left T2 without any pain treatment and ran the entire marathon clutching her side. Not only did she finish, but she still managed to do so a few minutes under her ultimate goal time with a 13:24. Her post race email to me describing her race was one line "It was fun, I can't wait to do it again". Wish I could have had the same reaction after my first 140.6! Suzanne will be running the Austin marathon this February and utilizing Bretscher Multisport coaching to get her to the finish line!

Overall it was a very good year. From a coaching standpoint I was pretty satisfied, I didn't feel as though I "missed" with anyone. There were certainly some off races and struggles, but that happens to everyone, even in our very best years it's all apart of the process. I know it’s unrealistic to expect a 100% success rate, but I think these past two years have been as close to that as I could possibly hope for. Looking forward to working with a new crew of athletes and returnees with plenty more success in 2011!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Calling it a season-Thinking long term-The economics of making a living as a pro triathlete

I made the decision to call my 2010 triathlon campaign complete a few weeks ago and not go forth with Ironman Florida. Basically I was tired, more so mentally than physically, and just didn't feel that I was ready to put forth the dedication to properly prepare for another Ironman. I thought about just "faking" my way through it and going through the motions with my preparations but one of the things I learned from my first experience with the 140.6 distance is the importance of being completely and totally dedicated to the task at hand when training and racing that distance. So out of respect for the distance and my body I decided not to force myself to prepare when the signs were clearly there I wasn't into it. I think that less than two months of separation between Ironmans was asking a lot, especially for the first two. The first one took so much out of me mentally and I had not quite bounced back all the way when it came time to prepare for the second. Furthermore I hadn't quite recovered physically as well as I had initially thought. After the standard week of downtime following the race I felt quite sharp actually, managed good workouts and a very solid 1:53 olympic distance performance in Iowa. Then three weeks after Rev 3 was the Powerman Muncie long course duathlon. It was during and after that race where I learned that I had some very deep rooted soreness and fatigue still in the body. I had planned to start training for Florida the day after Powerman but instead I was so sore I couldn't walk normal for two days. And with that I called it a season.

My 2010 season was rather mixed; some highs and many lows. Pretty inconsistent. It was a step forward from the disaster that was 2009 but not up to the level that I was at in 2007-08. The one big positive that I take away from this year is the way I finished the season from August onward. I took a big risk with the training I did for Rev 3, wasn't sure if I was physically capable of completing it, but surprisingly, it wasn't even the hardest training block I had ever completed despite it being by far the most volume.

I think the biggest challenge for me still remains trying to figure out where exactly triathlon fits into my life. Is triathlon something that I really want to do as a profession and try to make into a career? Or would I be happier if I lived the life of a 'normal' working person, trained 15 hours a week to keep fit, and raced triathlon as an age grouper purely for the fun of it? This is something I've been trying to figure out for multiple years now and still don't have an answer for. It's funny because I remember racing as an age-grouper back in 2007 which was probably the most motivated I've ever been towards anything in my entire life. And my motivation that year was how badly I wanted to make it as a professional triathlete. So what has happened since then to make me question what was my strongest motivation ever? Well, I became a professional triathlete. And along with becoming a professional triathlete I have lived the lifestyle of a pro triathlete for three years now and I've learned that the lifestyle isn't quite as glamorous as I envisioned as a motivated age grouper back in 2007. Don't get me wrong, being a pro triathlete is great and I love the lifestyle, but it is also hard, very hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. And while there are some highs which we all strive for and envision in training, there are also many lows, probably more lows than highs, and some of those lows are rock bottom low. It's those lows that you never consider when you set goals or choose to chase the dream, but they are always there and apart of the whole process. Now age group racing certainly has it's lows too, but not nearly to the extent of professional racing. The moment you decide to have this sport as your profession and way of making a living you introduce a whole new pressure into the equation, the pressure that this is where your income has to come from, this is how you will make a living. How well you race is how well you get paid. For the majority of pro triathletes there's no such thing as a stable income like a 'normal' job or even other pro sports. In most pro sports the way you perform on any given day does not impact how you are paid, you are paid based on your entire body of work. This is not the case in triathlon, you are paid almost entirely off of what you do on the day. This pressure and uncertainty is no way to make a living and can sap a lot of the fun and purity out of the sport.

I would equate making a living as a pro triathlete to the 'average' person who works 5 days/40 hours per week like this. Imagine that starting next week your current job is going to have all its employees come in to work just one day per week with the opportunity to make two weeks worth of pay. Sounds great, right? But here's the catch. At the end of the work day all the employees are going to be measured for their productivity on that day. Those whose productivity is in the top 20% of everyone will be paid an entire two week's salary, everyone else, nothing. So what will happen under this scenario? Well, those who are consistently in the top-20% of productivity every week will likely be very happy, they are getting paid quite well for one day a week of work. A select few, who can be in the top 20% more than half the time, will even be making more than one year's salary in a year. However, the number of workers who fall into this category will be very small. The vast majority of employees will be lucky to place in the top 20% once per month, many will go into the work day knowing that they have practically no chance of getting paid. As a result it won't take long for people to quit this job for something more stable or find a second job to make ends meet. This is my best analogy for what it is like trying to make a living as a pro triathlete. And I forgot to mention, also add into the above scenario the variables that there will no longer be employee insurance or health benefits, no paid time off, no sick days, no paid vacations, no retirement package, no excuses. And to make it even more in line with pro triathlon, every week your job location changes to a different city in the US, sometimes even a different country. All employees are responsible for funding their travel to the job location. What do think the chances are of any given worker making a stable, long term living at this job?

I'm not trying to complain about making a living as a pro triathlete, too many pros already do that. I feel fortunate for my time as a pro and for the opportunity of being able to experience this lifestyle. The reason I didn't pursure a career upon graduating college was because I knew I would always look back and wonder what could have been with triathlon. Well, I've now gone down that road and I know what it is to make a living in this sport. All I'm trying to say is that having lived the lifestyle as a pro for three years now I'm not sure how much longer I can see myself going like this, unless things suddenly improve drastically. I, like all pros, would love to see much more money suddenly appear in the sport but I don't see things changing anytime soon. Reality is pro triathletes are not sought after the same way as the pros in other sports. Imagine if I were to show up at an average, hometown, local triathlon with three athletes who are at the top of their games in their respective sports. Peyton Manning, Lebron James, Chris McCormack. At this local triathlon I would estimate that close to 100% of all participants are going to immediately recognize Peyton and Lebron. Yet I would also predict somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% of all participants are going to recognize Chris McCormack. And this is a triathlon we're talking about, the very sport in which Macca has reached the pinnacle. Professionals just do not carry much weight in this sport right now, and until this changes you won't see more people making a living as pro triathletes. Chrissie Wellington might be the only pro triathlete to make it as a mainstream athlete, and even that is debateable. But I still don't see even Chrissie having more than a 50% recognition rate at a given hometown triathlon. The star pros in other sports transcend the sport. Star pro triathletes are barely recognizable in their own sport.

With age group racing it's all about fun, enjoyment of the sport, healthy competition, and the lifestyle first and foremost. The moment the lows outweigh the highs you're going to stop or take a break and find a new hobby. When you commit to race as a professional it's a little different; you have to stick to the plan through all the ups and downs, even when the lows outweigh the highs. Sometimes you have to race even when you don't really want to for the purpose of making money and supporting your sponsors. The travel can be fun, visiting new places for the purpose of racing, but the travel can also become monotonous, expensive, and be more draining than the racing. Racing because you 'need' to as a professional can sap a lot of the fun away compared to an age grouper who will only race because they 'want' to. And finally, professionals live with the realization that they are working twice as hard and getting paid a fraction of what they would make if they used that college degree to get a 'real' job. All of this for the purpose of "living the dream". But what happens when 'the dream' turns out to be not nearly as appealing as you once thought? Well now I'm just getting philosophical. All I'm trying to say is I'm still questioning where triathlon fits into my life and what I hope to take away from it. I'm far from saying I'm throwing in the towel on professional racing. The good news is I do feel rejuvenated and excited again by the challenge of Ironman racing and I'm excited to head into 2011 with an Ironman focus.

A lot has happened since the season ended. My roomate, Jun, landed a great job as head coach of the Frostburg State University Men's and Women's swimming and diving teams. He has moved out to Maryland for that position. He left his previous job as Assistant coach to the women's swim team at DePauw University. With it being mid-season and nobody available to fill his position the DPU head coach offered me Jun's old position and I accepted it, as a volunteer. So it's a very interesting experience as this is my first time coaching at the collegiate level as well as my first time coaching just a women's team. And to make things even more interesting the head coach is my mom. I figure the worst that can happen out of all of this is I learn a whole lot. And with my own personal questions about my future in triathlon I've started thinking more and more about heading back to grad school and won't rule out the possibility of pursuing a coaching career. I really think that 2011 is going to be a deciding year for me. If I can put together a stellar, consistent triathlon season and have fun while doing it then I'll stick with my current profession. If I see more inconsistency, lackluster performances, and don't enjoy myself more then I think it'll be time to reconfigure my priorities and place triathlon racing on the back burner for a while. It won't be a failure if that happens, success or failure to me is based upon figuring out exactly what I want to do with my life long term and then doing it to the best of my ability! Here's to figuring things out in 2011!

Thanks for reading,

Having just read through all I wrote I declare this my favorite blog post yet. It's funny what happens when you get going, when I sat down I planned a short update about ending my season. Oops, guess I had a lot to say I didn't know about.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bretscher Multisport Free November Coaching

Have you ever thought about working with a coach but been deterred by the cost, long term commitment, and not knowing if you'd improve?

For the month of November all Bretscher Multisport coaching will be FREE and offered for anyone and everyone. I'm doing this to give all of the multisport athletes who are curious about what it is like to have a coach an avenue to do so without having to invest any money. So if you've ever thought about hiring a coach but were not sure if the gains would be worth the money, this is your chance to 'test out the waters' without any $$ investment. There will be no pressure placed on anyone to continue beyond November, and it is perfectly acceptable to sign up without any intentions of continuing past November. All new November athletes will be coached the same as the full time Bretscher Multisport athletes so you will get a true sense of what it is like to work one-on-one with a coach. I will have plenty of free time since November is my off season so am prepared to take on a lot of November athletes.

To sign up just send me a note via my contact link below and I will get in touch with you shortly.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Powerman Muncie-Pro Duathlon Debut

This past Saturday I took part in the inaugural Powerman Muncie Duathlon. Although I've officially been a pro duathlete for three years now this was my first pro duathlon and just my second duathlon ever. In all we had eight pro duathletes make it out to Muncie Indiana for the race including two of the top ranked duathletes in the world who made the trip over from Europe.

Run 10k: 34:49 7th fastest split
The run went out very hard. I went out hard but being in 7th position and watching everyone run away from me I was having some serious negative thoughts. Most of those thoughts went away when I saw a mile split of 5:10, nearly everyone in front of me was under 5. Now the first mile is a net downhill but that's still very fast when we have 20k of running on tap for the day. I got the pace under control after that and just tried to focus on my race and setting myself up for a good bike and run. Having not done much speedwork with my focus on Ironman training, the fast early pace caused me to get some severe soreness in my calves as well as blisters on my feet from being up on my toes for the first time in months. Those weren't a major issue in the first run but they caused a lot of trouble in the second.

Bike 61k: 1:30:33 25.4mph 2nd fastest split
Onto the bike in 7th with only one other person in sight. From the very first pedal stroke I felt very good. Took no time to get into a groove and I was moving. About 5 miles in a cold rain arrived and it wouldn't stop until well after the race was over and everyone had left. Caught 6th place after 5 miles and by 10 miles I was all the way into third and feeling good. Through 20k in under 29 minutes. Now all that remained in front were two European Du stars. After 25k I made the pass into second and then wanted to put as much time as possible into everyone for the second run. I couldn't shake third place off my rear wheel. I won't say he was riding illegal but he finished the first run 2 minutes in front of me. I made those two minutes up in the first 25k of the bike. In the final 36k of the bike I put zero seconds into him, you can surmise what that means. Good ride for me, ended up with a 25.4mph average for 38 miles on a somewhat hilly, somewhat windy, wet course. I'll take that.

Run 10k: 40:12 7th fastest split
On the second run my very sore calves and blisters immediately started causing me a lot of discomfort. The French athlete I came off the bike with ran away no problem. The same first mile which I ran 5:10 on the first run was 6:00 on the second. Was having to alter my stride due to the discomfort. Got passed by another and then another. Had gotten myself under control and was able to stay with the final athlete who passed me to the turnaround. We were holding 6:00 pace, racing for 4th place. At that final turnaround I saw that we were a good 7 minutes up on 6th place. Then the option was with fight it out for fourth place or jog to the finish 5th. With all the discomfort I was in from my blisters and sore calves and only $140 difference in payout between 4th and 5th position I decided pretty quickly to call it a day and was content to run 8 minute pace to the finish and 5th place on the day.

Overall: 2:47:03 5th place
Was a little disappointed that my body let me down since I think I had the fitness on the day to get on the podium, but that's part of racing. At the finish I thought maybe I was just being a wuss and could have just pushed through it but then I saw the red stain coming through my shoe. I've had enough blisters in my day to know that when you see the red stain all the way through the shoe it's going to be pretty bad and it was. I can't complain though because my friend Nick W. started passing a kidney stone on the bike and still finished the race. Really pleased with my bike, only a multiple time Du world champ out split me. But the highlight on the day was competing in a Pro race in the state of Indiana. I've been saying for years that we need a major race since every surrounding state has one and it felt great to have multiple athletes traveling over from Europe to compete in Indiana. Likewise it felt great to compete in a major race just two hours from home. So want to thank the crew at Muncie Multisport for making this race happen. And it's only going to get better because next summer we'll have an Ironman 70.3 coming to town. I've got July 9 2011 circled on the calendar! Now the entire season is down to just one more race, Ironman Florida on November 6. Time to train again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rev 3 Race Report

Completed my first Ironman and marathon this past Sunday, race report is below.

Transition setup, ready to go

Ready to go, trying to stay warm

Swim: 54:02 6th fastest split
Had a great swim. Didn't get off to the best start, Lake Erie has a very gradual slope and the first minute or so was spent navigating through less than waist deep water which I'm not real good at. Once the actual swimming started I had a lot of ground to make up but swam past a lot of people and got into one of the front groups. Once I was in my group I just relaxed and felt real good, had a lot of energy and positive spirits. The swim went by quick, pretty effortless, and I was out of the water in 6th position, a great start to a long day. Looked around coming out of the water and was right with all the strong cyclists, it was exactly where I needed to be. Then had some major bad luck going through T1. Went to grab my changing bag and it was missing. Spent about 30 seconds looking for it as it contained some of my nutrition for the bike but eventually lost patience and decided I had to try my luck with the nutrition they had on the course. After the race when I went back to retrieve my gear I figured out what had happened. My T1 bag was hanging right where it should have been but had someone else's wetsuit in it. Turns out one of the athletes who came out of the water in front of me grabbed my bag by mistake, didn't correct his mistake, and it cost me. I looked at the wetsuit to see whose it was and ironically, that morning there was a foreign pro who showed up to race with an illegal helmet. Officials wouldn't let him race with the helmet so I loaned him my road helmet so he could race. That same athlete was the one who took my bag. It only cost me about 30 seconds, but that 30 seconds was the difference between me starting the bike with a group who rode 4:36 and starting the bike all alone which is what happened.

Out of water in 6th position, great start to the day

Bike: 4:43:23 23.8mph 7th fastest split
On the bike and briefly entertained thoughts of time trialing my way up to the group I missed but decided not to and chill out. Having done my research on the course and weather I knew we were looking at a pretty significant headwind the entire last 30 miles of the ride and my entire strategy on the bike was to be strong those last 30 miles no matter what. So I just relaxed and tried to put the T1 snafu out of my mind, in fact I convinced myself that it was better that I missed the group so that I would ride my own pace and not be suckered into over-riding the first half. Checked the flags we passed by on the way out and confirmed that the winds were out of the west as predicted. The first 45 miles were quite enjoyable actually. I was pretty much alone the whole way, the pace was pretty easy and physically I felt great, could tell I was really clicking. Was getting anxious to pick the pace up but kept telling myself I had to hold back. Moved up one position and didn't know it at the time, but was riding in 5th for a good while. 45 miles is when the race really started for me, a big group of six guys rolled me up and, although my plan was to race my own race all day, when I dropped six positions within a minute I decided that I needed to go with this group because this is where the race was. The pace and effort definitely went up a notch but it didn't feel too hard. 65 miles in is when the pain of the day started and the first time I went through a bad phase. The pace felt too fast so I backed off and let my group go and relaxed until I felt better. The rest of the ride was pretty much spent alone for me although I would catch a few stragglers from the group in front. At 80 miles we made the turn to head back west towards Sandusky and pretty much the entire rest of the ride was into a steady 15mph headwind. I started pressing the pace a little at this point per my plan, wasn't quite as strong as I would have liked but was holding together pretty well. At 90 miles I was really feeling bad, lonely, and the wind was just crushing my spirit. I couldn't see any of my competitors and felt like I was losing so much time. I wasn't bonking, but could tell I definitely wasn't producing as much power as earlier. Rode the last 20 miles in sheer agony, not able to enjoy the experience at all, and couldn't stop questioning why so many people pay so much money to do this. I thought experiencing Ironman pain would be a fun, new experience and I was really looking forward to seeing what it was all about. But the pain wasn't fun at all, I was absolutely demoralized, never wanted to do this again. In all the types of endurance racing I've done this is the first time I've ever experienced pain that has gone beyond physical. Ironman pain is just as physically painful as anything else but what takes it to a different level is that it also reaches your spirit and soul. I felt like my soul had just been sucked out of me and I had no emotions or life left in me. There was no silver lining to this pain or light at the end of the tunnel, it was just sheer agony. As I got past 105 miles I couldn't even think of running a marathon, or even running at all. I remember passing through 110 miles and feeling so depressed that I still had a whole two miles left to ride. Hardly the mindset to take into a marathon. Finally reached T2 and didn't even do a flying dismount as I wasn't sure my legs would support me when I hit the pavement. Ran very slowly into the changing tent and saw a two pros who were in front of me sitting down, they quit after the bike. In fact turns out everyone was pretty much in the same boat those last 20 miles and a lot of people decided to call it a day. Getting my runners on in T2 the volunteers told me I was in sixth position which shocked me as I didn't think I was in the top 10. That was an instant boost to the confidence and really helped jump start me for my first marathon.

Starting my first marathon

Marathon: 3:11:54 12th fastest split
After the last 20 miles of the bike I had pretty much thrown away my goals for the marathon and just started running easy. I refused to look at my watch because I knew the pace was slow and just spent the first few miles recovering physically and mentally. Loosened up and was actually feeling pretty good, checked my watch at mile 4 and I had been holding 6:45 pace. Stopped for a 30s bathroom stop on the side of the road at mile 5 as the course was too crowded with people right in downtown Sandusky that I couldn't do my usual bathroom on the go trick. Then really felt good after that and got rolling, even clicking off miles 6-8 in 6:30 pace. Lost two positions in the first half but just focused on going my own pace and taking care of myself for the second half. At mile 11 I started having some slight GI discomfort and made a 90s port-a-john stop. Went through the half in 1:31 and within the first 3 miles of the second half my pace slowed by nearly a minute per mile despite no change in perceived effort. At first I thought the miles were off but they weren't. My mentality started slowly creeping south again and at mile 16 the thought of going 10 more miles was almost unbearable. Lost another position and then at mile 18 had to make another bathroom stop, for a full 2 minutes. In all I spent 4 minutes of my marathon in the port-a-john, normally not a big deal in an Ironman but in this case it would be. Started trying to project my finish time with 10k to go and knew I could be under 9 hours with 8min miles. Wasn't sure if I'd be able to manage that, 7:30 pace was becoming really difficult and in addition I was getting a really bad headache. Took some electrolyte pills and those seemed to help. Miles 20-23 seemed endless and the legs were so heavy, I couldn't believe I was only going 7:30 pace for how hard I was pushing. I thought about how bad I wanted to break 9, how long I had been going for and how little I had left but 4 miles still seemed so far. Through 23 miles, could see the Cedar Point roller coasters in the distance and knew that was the finish line, got a boost of confidence and clicked off 7min pace the last 5k. With one mile to go I could see another pro up the road and a while later I could see a second, but they were too far ahead. Crossed the line in 8:52, 9th place. 7th place was less than 2 minutes up so I can only wonder what could have been if it weren't for those bathroom stops. But that's racing.

Overall: 8:52:36 9th place
Had mixed feelings at the finish. Really happy to get under 9 hours in my first attempt and get through the whole thing with only small mistakes but dropping 3 places on the run really left a sour taste in my mouth about the whole day. Having had a few days to reflect on it I feel better about it now with each passing day. It feels great that when someone asks me my Ironman PR the first number out of my mouth will be "eight". On the whole I executed a pretty solid race, I slowed a bit at the end of the bike and the run but never had a complete bonk, never let my run slip below 7:30 pace. Nutrition wise I think I got it about right, held together the entire way and was in pretty good shape afterwards, avoided a visit to the med tent. If I could go back and reconstruct how I raced I think I would have gone 2-3 minutes slower the last 15 miles of the bike and hope that would make my marathon 8-10 minutes faster. I was really hurting at the end of the bike but kept pushing because I thought I needed to be strong riding into the wind but in hindsight I was not setting up to have a good marathon in doing so. I think I should have given in to the pain a little more and backed off the end of the bike. My run training probably went the best out of all my training and I'm sure I had a sub-3 marathon in me, but didn't quite execute correctly. As they say with Ironman racing, there's no such thing as a good bike followed by a bad run. If you run poorly then you did not execute the bike correctly. I also wonder if I may have been a little mentally weak the second half of the run because I went from 7:30 pace to 7:00 pace instantly with 5k to go and nothing changed other than realizing I had just 5k to the finish. It pains me to say that because I was already suffering so much, but maybe I need to learn to suffer more the second half. All in all a pretty good first outing, small adjustments can always be made but I avoided all the major pitfalls of the Ironman. Moving forward I think knowing exactly what to expect as far as the pain and suffering of Ironman racing will be the biggest asset that I take away from this into the next one. I've always thought that mental training was a bunch of garbage but I think you have to have a very sound mind to be a good Ironman racer because Ironman pain goes beyond physical and into your mind. I was pretty certain after the race that I was not doing another Ironman this year but now, four days later, I'm already entered in Ironman Florida on November 6. I find myself very intrigued by Ironman racing and the challenge of trying to put everything together/find the right balance. There's definitely a formula to success with 70.3 and olympic racing and once you figure out the formula it's pretty easy to replicate over and over. With Ironman racing, unless your name is Chrissy, I don't know if you can ever have it figured out.

I would also like to endorse the Rev 3 series and encourage everyone who reads this to consider including one or more of the races on your schedule for next year. I did two out of three Rev 3 races this year and can say that the organizers of this series have the best intentions of the sport at the forefront of their minds. I can't say that about the other major long course racing series. These races are organized and run as well as the other series, the venues are much more carefully chosen, and the series is centered around being family oriented. Did you know that on Saturday the entire Cedar Point Amusement Park was shut down and open to just the athletes and families? Every entered athlete was given two park passes and on Sunday the finish line was inside of the actual park just feet from some of the rides. If you're not trying to qualify Kona or Clearwater then why not save a lot of money and give yourself a better race experience at Rev 3? And don't tell me that the words "you are an Ironman" is worth the extra $200 in entry. Rev 3 is working with the intentions of bettering the sport of triathlon, that can't be said for certain other race series.

I would also like to give a shout out to the BretscherMultisport athletes who went 5 for 5 on the weekend with career races. Two conquered one of the most difficult 70.3courses on the series up in Muskoka Canada and one of those even managed to win his first overall age group 70.3 title claiming his first World Championship slot! He was 11th overall on the day including pros, a full 6 minutes ahead of the second place age grouper, and ahead of some of the pros! Another athlete raced his first olympic distance to cap off his first year as a triathlete. It's not too often that you put your best s-b-r performances together in the same race but he did just that. Another athlete made his full-Iron debut with me at Cedar Point as the culmination of a life altering decision to get in shape 3 years ago when he was 40 pounds heavier. The goal he made at the time was to finish an Ironman before the age of 40 and he didn't just finish, he finished under has top goal of 12 hours with an 11:44 and his sunglasses still on (before the sun set). Finally the gutsy performance on the day went to my athlete out at Ironman Wisconsin who was making her Ironman debut. Despite crashing her bike at mile 103 and a severely bruised rib she managed to negative split her ride. She brushed off getting medical attention in T2 in favor of her race, ran the entire marathon clutching her side with one arm and even negative split it as well. Finished in under her "A" goal of 13:30, in the top third of her age group, and claims she "can't wait to do it again". Great job to all!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

8:52 9th place

Made the full iron debut today with a 8:52 finish good enough for 9th place. Happy to break 9 hours and nice to get a paycheck. Right now I have so many different emotions about the race and I think it's going to take a few days to fully process what happened today, check back for the official race report. Thanks to Ryan Bates for shooting some video.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Go Time!

Just 10 hours from now I will be on my way in my first ever Ironman competition, also my first ever marathon. Throughout my training block for this race the goal I had in mind was a top-5 placing in this race. This past week as the training has diminished and the idea that I'm actually about to race an Ironman has hit me full force I've sort of had one thought I keep coming back to; you only get one first Ironman. Now I've sort of forgotten about trying to place well, race others, break 9 hours. I'm heading into tomorrow's race just wanting to take in the experience, enjoy myself, and savor every minute no matter how painful. This will be my only first Ironman and marathon, and most likely my last time to move up in distance. I'm absolutely still going to race hard, but I'm not putting any thought into other people or my placing, the focus is solely on myself and taking in this whole experience. I'm confident that I have the fitness to place top-5. But I also realize that Ironman racing has a very steep learning curve and I'm going to be experiencing something I've never experienced and making decisions I've never made before. While reading literature and talking with others can give you guidance towards what decisions you should make in certain situations, my experience is that things are best learnt through trial and error. I hope to execute a good race tomorrow, but almost certainly I'm going to make some mistakes along the way without the experience of a veteran Ironman racer. I just hope those mistakes don't result in me walking 14 minute miles. So while I hope to do well tomorrow and believe I can, really I'm in it for the experience of a first timer. Finishing fast and placing well would be an awesome experience. But you know what, even if I'm walking 5 miles into the run and finish in 11+ hours, finishing an Ironman and a marathon is still a pretty cool thing. Live race coverage tomorrow at, race starts at 6:50am EST. I hope to post a short update Sunday evening about my experience. Very excited for tomorrow, Thanks for reading!

Would also like to mention that tomorrow is also the biggest day of the year for the BretscherMultisport athletes. I have five athletes who are all racing their peak races tomorrow. Two are up north in Canada for the Muskoka 70.3, one is making his Ironman debut with me at Rev 3, another making her IM debut over at IM Wisconsin, and finally another racing his first olympic at the Nation's triathlon in Washington DC. Excited to see how everyone does!

Bike all set to tackle its first 112 mile race

Personalized transition stalls at all Rev 3 events, the crease through my face is a representation of what I'll likely look like at the finish

Began growing the beard on August 1, the day I started Ironman training

All shaved down and ready to take this on!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rev 3 Cedar Point 140.6-All in!

On September 12 I will be making my full-Iron debut at the Rev 3 Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio. After performing below my ability and expectation for most of the summer I decided it was a good time to try something new for a change, I had nothing to lose. I put together a very aggressive training plan which I did not know if I was physically capable of completing and launched full force into Iron distance training with the mentality that if the training didn't break me first then there's no way I wouldn't be ready to go 140.6. It was full commitment and focus, all the eggs into the Rev 3 basket. I did not race once during the month of August, everything was focused on completing the training necessary to get me into peak shape for Rev 3. Now, just 13 days out from race day and transitioning into taper mode I am happy to report that the training did not break me and I believe that I have put together the fitness necessary for a successful 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling, and running. Below is a recap of my August training, the most extensive training block I have ever put in.

Week 1 August 1-7: This was a cycling-focused week which started the day after my last race, the Steelhead 70.3. Highlight workouts for the week include a 22 mile long run and a 120 mile long ride. In total I logged 45 hours of training for the week-broken down that's 13k swimming, 500 miles on the bike, 75 miles running, and 90minutes of strength/lifting in 7 days. Four of my seven rides this week were in excess of 70 miles.

Week 2 August 8-14: Run focused week which was made difficult by the fact that we went 7 straight days this week where the heat index broke 100. Highlight workouts include a 24 mile long run and a track workout of 12 x 1600. 34 hours of training this week broken down as 20k swimming, 260 miles cycling, 90 miles running, 90 minutes lifting. These numbers would have likely been a little higher without the heat.

Week 3 August 15-21: Cycling focus. Highlights include a 7.5 hour 140 mile ride and a track workout of 40 x 400. 45 hours of training broken down as 17k swimming, 500 miles cycling, 75 miles running, 90 minutes lifting.

Week 4 August 22-28: Swimming focus. Highlights include a 10k straight open water swim, my first day off of the entire month, and a race day simulation where I rode 75miles in just over 3 hours and then proceeded to blowup hard running afterwards-that part wasn't really a highlight. 32 hours training this week broken down as 38k swimming, 280 miles cycling, 60 running, 90 minutes lifting.

That brings us to this week and I am now resting up, allowing my body to absorb all the training of this past month. Hence, I actually have some free time to update my blog. So after tomorrow, for the 31 days of August my training totals will be:
91k swimming: 3k/day average
1617 miles cycling: 52/day average
312 miles running: 10/day average
165 hours: 5.3/day average

A result of all of the training from this month is that I've lost about 5 pounds of body weight and have leaned out significantly. I've been pleasantly surprised by how well the training has gone and how I've handled the volume. I think the key to the success of this training block was a combination of the change in routine, focus on one race, and the pure fun of taking on a brand new challenge. I think my training and my mentality had gotten a little stale over the past year without a single, clear-cut focus, and the same sort of training routine week in and out, a lot of the fun was gone. This training block has been a very refreshing, welcomed change. Even though it is significantly more training than I have ever done I have actually felt less tired this month than in the past and have been a much more motivated, positive, and having more fun than I have in a long time. After all, it was Ironman that first got me excited about triathlon way back at the age of 12. Excited to see what September 12 brings.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Steelhead 70.3

Steelhead 70.3 Benton Harbor, Michigan

Swim: 25:47 10th fastest split

I arrived at the race in the dark as a steady, cold rain fell. Sat in the car for about 10 minutes watching everyone getting soaking wet. Thought about how much I didn't want to mess with it and almost convinced myself to just drive the four hours home instead of racing. 6 of my 11 races this year have involved rain or wet roads. Got everything set up and then nearly missed the race start, made the mile run down the beach and got to the start as the National Anthem was finishing with just about 90 seconds to spare. It was actually kind of nice because I didn't have a chance to think about what I was about to undertake and get nervous. Never thought I'd race in Lake Michigan without a wetsuit but this year the water is like a pool. Seemed to pick a good spot on the start line because I got right into a good group off the start. The pace seemed easy and I stayed on the same set of feet the entire way. Exited the water at the back of a group of six.

Bike: 2:11:40 25.6mph 10th fastest split

Was last onto the bike of our group of six and I rode the first 5k nearly all out to keep contact with the group as I know the importance be being in a group on a flat course. Positioned myself legal distance back and then just rode comfortably taking advantage of what draft there is. Our group caught a person or two in front and had another group catch us from behind. For a while I was sitting 8th in line holding 28mph at about a 22mph effort, at legal distance. The pack eventually broke up but I had company the entire way. Fastest average speed of the year although it wasn't entirely my own effort. That's racing.

Run: 1:20:03 8th fastest split

Took the run out pretty conservative coming off a terrible blowup in Racine. Conditions were very favorable for fast running, coolest temps I've felt in about two months. Just picked up the effort steadily the entire way, produced very consistent splits holding 6:10 every time I checked. Passed a few and got passed by a few. At the end we managed to have a showdown of Indiana pros, the three of us all finished within a minute. I held off Nick but couldn't run down Zach.

Overall: 4:00:38 8th place

Felt like I executed a very good race and fixed the nutrition and pacing errors I made in Racine. This was a BIG step forward from what I did two weeks ago. I think I got the most out of myself on this day, I'm just not as fit as I've been in the past or should be right now. Not sure what is up next for me, it could be my Iron distance debut at Rev 3 Cedar Point on the September 12. I should have a definite decision made in about a week, check back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Racine 70.3

Yesterday I raced the Racine 70.3 in Racine Wisconsin. It was my second attempted and first completed 70.3 of the season and possibly the most I've ever suffered in a 70.3.

Swim: 28:51 15th fastest split
Bike: 2:17:14 24.6mph 11th fastest split
Run: 1:32:01 11th fastest split
Overall: 4:21:16 10th place

My swim was pretty bad. Lost the big group early on and swam alone the entire way. Had some navigating issues along the way, a combination of swimming alone, the Lake Michigan waves, and very foggy goggles. Had to flip over three times along the way to clear my goggles. The bike was satisfactory. Rode alone most of the way which isn't usually good on a flat course. Held together pretty well until mile 50. Completely fell apart and crawled the last 6 miles into T2. Was out of fluids for the last 6 miles too which isn't a good thing heading into a hot run. As I got onto the run the overcast skies cleared and the temperature really shot up. I underestimated the heat and was too conservative with how much fluid I was taking at the aid stations. In addition I learned on the run that the gel in my flask which I carried along was too thick to squeeze out so I wasn't getting those calories down which I counted on. Started the second loop and things went downhill real quick. Had a complete bonk at mile 7, was walking, dizzy and thought I might have to drop out. Grabbed everything I could at the aid station and threw down as many calories as possible. That made it enough to carry on but I was still way behind on calories and running very slowly. Just soldiered through the second half as a steady flow of age-groupers went by me on their first lap. It was just suffering like I never have before. Could only manage to hold 7:30 pace the second half compared to 6:30 pace the first half. Finished, but that's about all I can say I accomplished on this day. Officially it goes down as a top-10 which I can't really complain about. And when you factor in that 18 pro men started 10th isn't so bad...except 6 dropped out along the way so really I was 10th out of 12, not so good. Been really struggling in training the last six weeks and I knew going in that a good race was a long shot. I can feel how fit I am and am pretty realistic with myself about where the fitness level is at. It's definitely not there right now, this result is not a surprise to me. I'm much more disappointed with the way I've been training than the result. At Rev3 Knoxville way back in May I got my butt handed to me in similar fashion to today. That really lit a fire under me and got me training great, I really hope that this result will do the same. There's still a lot of season left and it's not too late to brew up some great fitness. And I'm only going to make the 140.6 debut at Rev 3 Cedar Point if I'm ready for it, I'm not going to go there in anything less than top form. The day wasn't without its highlights, I got to chat up Craig Alexander briefly, I don't think triathlon could ask for a better champion to represent the sport. Had a few athletes race as well. The highlight was Julie with a 5:19 to finish 10th out of 82 in her age group. That's back to back PRs for Julie who is on a roll!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Decatur Triathlon

This past weekend I raced in the Decatur Triathlon. This is one of my favorite races of the year as the race sponsors me and the city of Decatur more or less adopts me as their 'hometown pro'. I really wanted to win this race after a disappointing fourth place finish last year. It wasn't to be as I was humbled for the second year in a row with a fifth place finish. I didn't race particularly poorly, the competition was just top notch. Five pros and one of the best AGers in the country toed the start line, pretty quality field for a hometown age group race. Funny what a little prize money will do. I was disappointed but after talking with roomate Jun, who raced in the Muncie Endurathon, I realized things could always be worse. Jun got very sick on the bike in his race and to add insult to injury he accidentally vomited into his aero drink, something only Jun would do. Things didn't improve much and eventually he had to DNF. I want to say thanks to the city of Decatur for all of the support and congratulations to all of the participants, especially the first timers and all of the finishers in the kids race Saturday. Sign me up for next year!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Indy Sprint Tri

This morning Jun and I traveled to a local classic, the Indy Sprint Triathlon. We both raced well, I got the win and Jun was pleased with his race as well, taking his age group title. Bringing the camera along always makes for a fun time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Tri Series-Muncie Multisport

This past weekend I had the chance to race for the first time in the brand new Muncie Multisport Series at Prairie Creek Reservoir in Muncie Indiana. This new and exciting multisport series utilizes one of the best race venues in the entire country, a venue which was previously only being used once per season. Ever since racing at this venue three years ago I've been vocal in expressing that Indiana is not living up to its potential to host a major triathlon with an international race field. All of our surrounding states host major races which attract national media and up to now Indiana has lagged behind.

Enter Steve and Tammy Tomboni. These two started up Muncie Multisport Inc. this year and have major aspirations for turning Muncie back into the multisport destination which it has been at times in the past. In just their first year they have already secured a stop on the Powerman Duathlon Series this October and with a significant purse they have already received commitments from the number one and two ranked duathletes in the world. I will be racing as well. This race will be a big step towards bringing athletes and media to Muncie and spreading the word about this race series. Hopefully it will be a big stepping stone to bringing a major triathlon back to Indiana. After traveling all over the country to race I get a little giddy thinking about the possibility of having world renowned triathletes travel to Indiana to race. Numbers have been a little on the low end for the first two races this year, but the atmosphere, and race quality have been very high. I know a lot of the Indiana multisport crew reads this and I'm encouraging everyone to head to Muncie to check out one of these races. I suspect that after one race you'll head back for more.

In yesterday's race I participated in the olympic triathlon, there was also the option of a sprint tri, duathlon, aqua bike, as well as 5 and 10k road races. I was coming off of a very busy week and far from top form but was still able to put a solid race together and get the win. My favorite part of this race in particular was the bike course. We had newly paved roads and the course was such that even in the wet I only had to hit the brakes a few times. I was pleasantly surprised to ride 58 minutes on the bike. I also really enjoy the fact that the awards were finished by noon and the race takes place on Saturday, hence it doesn't takeaway the entire weekend.

If you are looking for a break from the norm then head to Muncie for a race this year, the next one will be August 7, I hope to be there!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mooseman 70.3-DNF

Yesterday I raced the inaugural Mooseman 70.3 in Newfound Lake New Hampshire. I went in with hopes for a top-5 finish and left with a DNF, the first time I've ever willingly dropped out of a race.

Saturday was a busy day. Rather than do the usual travel on Friday routine I opted to try out a shorter trip by flying out early Saturday morning. Between the rental car and hotel I saved around $200 flying out Saturday rather than Friday. Flew into Boston and made the two hour drive north, my first ever trip to New Hampshire. Arrived at the race site, put the bike together, did a short workout, attended the pro meeting, and then drove the bike course. I knew this was going to be a pretty challenging bike course in terms of terrain. When I drove the course I was taken a little off guard by how technical the bike course was. Typically driving the bike course calms my nerves a bit but on this occasion it made me more nervous. In fact after driving the course once I opted to drive a 20 mile portion a second time. The terrain of the course was nearly identical to the Muskoka 70.3, my favorite race course. However Mooseman gets my nod as the harder bike course as it is significantly more technical than Muskoka. Mooseman has a much easier run course with just a few moderate climbs and great scenery along the lake, Muskoka's run is just as difficult as its bike.

Swim: 25:58 10th fastest split

About 10 minutes before the start of the race the rain arrived, it was constant throughout the entire day and just got heavier as the day wore on. My swim was pretty mediocre, I've had better, I've had worse. Ended up in my usual position in the chase pack, had a good group to pull me along. After the final turn with around 800 to go I lost my pair of feet and was unable to get back despite my attempts. Gave up about 30 second to the group I was with but wasn't too worried; given the nature of the bike course we were about to undertake I knew it wouldn't be necessary to start the bike with a group.


Onto the two loop bike course with the rain falling and plenty of puddles to dodge. My plan was to hold back some the first loop and to be strong the second. The legs were a bit slow to get going initially and I tried not to force anything, just let the legs come around on their own. After a 6 mile "warmup" the fun began with a 3.5 mile, 1000 ft climb. I played it pretty conservative up this climb, keeping my breathing and heart rate in check knowing that I would have to make the climb a second time. The grade got quite steep towards the top and I did not bring a wide enough cassette to be ideal for this climb. Once to the top we went into 7 miles of fast, very technical descending on very wet roads. This is where my trouble began. I just didn't have the bravery of some of my fellow male pros on those descents. It takes formidable technique to descend S-curves at 30-40mph in dry conditions, but to do so in the wet is a whole different ballgame. Even riding conservative I was still way out of my comfort zone, did not feel safe on the course and scared myself a few times. Nothing like squeezing your brakes at with all your strength and feeling them not grab while traveling 40mph and trying to prepare for a sharp turn. After around 16 miles the road opened up onto highway and I felt like I had the legs to hammer but I had given up so much time descending, there was no way to get back into the race in just 8 miles of open road before starting the whole process over again. I debated dropping out for quite a while which is not the mentality to have during a big race. It didn't even feel like a race to me, I was focused entirely on staying upright as opposed to racing. In the end I knew that I would lose even more time going through the whole process again on the second loop, was probably looking at finishing 8th-10th place, and furthermore there were going to be 1100 age groupers spread out over 20 miles on the second loop. The course was dicey enough to do alone, I didn't want to think what it would be like going through age groupers of all different abilities. It just felt to me like an unnecessary risk for very little reward and for the first time in my life I chose to drop out of a race. I'm still debating with myself if it was the right decision, I think there is something to be said for sticking it out in tough conditions and on an off day, but I really was uncomfortable out on the course in those conditions. If I could do it over again I don't think I would do it any different or be able to ride any faster, I'm just not a great technical rider or a risk taker on the bike. I went back to T2, gathered up my gear, realized how cold I was, threw everything up in the car and sat for 20 minutes with the heat on full blast. Then decided to make the most of my training day and headed out for an 18 mile long run on the course, watching the pro races play out and cheering everyone on. It was definitely a contest of who could survive the best as opposed to a race.

In the end it wasn't what I wanted or what I traveled across the country for. If there's anything positive to take from the experience I got to see a beautiful part of the country that I never knew existed. Newfound Lake is a fantastic venue for a race, the water is as clear as Lake Michigan and the Appalachians make for a fantastic backdrop. I want to say congrats to everyone who finished, especially all the 6+ hour finishers who were out when the skies opened up and the rain really started to come down, that race is no small feat. Mooseman is a great race, just a bit too sketchy in the rain for my liking. I hope to return to make things right. Unfortunately I will probably have to wait until July 18 to show my stuff at the Racine 70.3, my next pro race. Three pro races down in 2010 and the three races have each been my coldest, hottest, and wettest races of my life. What's next, windiest? Stay tuned, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memphis in May

Two weeks ago Rev 3 Knoxville was the coldest I have ever been during a race. This past Sunday was the complete opposite at Memphis in May, hottest race I have ever done, no other race I've done even comes close to the heat I raced in on Sunday. In the days leading up to the race I knew it would be hot as highs were forecast to be in the mid-90s with high humidity. However I was not prepared for the wave of heat and humidity that hit me as I walked out of the hotel at 8:30am, it was worse than I anticipated. Had our race start been near sunrise like most races it would have been hot, but this year at Memphis the pros didn't go off until 10:30am when normally we have already crossed the finish line. This made it almost unbearable at times. I cut my warmup way short as I was already sweating bad just setting up my gear. After just a 15min ride I was pouring sweat. Filled my bottles with ice and headed for the lake. Usually jumping in the lake to cool off is what you do after the race but on this day I was doing it before. This was my third time racing Memphis and my previous two times were both very solid results. Having not had a good race result in some time I thought it would be smart to pick a pro race with a less talented pro field. Memphis, with a smaller than normal prize purse, tends to mostly attract newer, lesser known pros. That, plus the fact that I know the course pretty well and have raced well in the past made this a good opportunity to bring home a good race result to build some confidence and momentum heading forward.

Swim: 17:54 4th fastest split

Started about midway through the 15 male pros with the time trial start, one person every 10 seconds. Immediately felt great, had a good turnover and strong kick, things were clicking. Passed one person pretty early on and then midway through had someone come by me. Latched onto his feet and he wasn't quite strong enough to pull away so I was able take advantage and stayed with him for the next several hundred meters. We caught two more up ahead towards the end of the swim and I think someone caught us from behind. Came out of the water in a group of about six or seven. Funny how you do a time trial start but still end up in a big pack by the end of the swim. This was a great swim for me, fourth fastest out of 15 is the highest my swim has ever ranked in a pro race. In my previous two races in Memphis I swam right around 17-flat, but this was my first time without a wetsuit. Have no idea what to say about my swim, two weeks ago it was atrocious, today it was great.

Bike: 55:06 25.6mph 5th fastest split

Got onto the bike in a large group. Made my way up to the front in the first few miles and soon our group was down to just three people. I lead nearly all of the first half into the wind with the other two taking turns at the lead the second half of the ride with a tail wind. Super clean riding by all of us. The heat wasn't an issue in the first half of the ride with the wind in our face but I really started to overheat towards the end when the breeze went away and we had a tailwind. The other two rode away from me in the final miles as I was really struggling with the heat and all I could do was limit the damage. Having nothing but 90 degree fluids to drink the whole way didn't help either, so much for the ice I added before the start. I'm pretty happy with the effort I gave on the bike although I could tell my legs weren't clicking the way they have at times in the past.

Run: 39:18 3rd fastest split

Started the run already overheated, I don't think I've ever overheated on a bike before. I knew I was running slow but didn't really care. Turns out everyone felt the same or even worse as I got a confidence boost when I saw the person up in front of me walking within the first 5 minutes. Went through the first mile in slower than expected 6:30 and decided I shouldn't look at my watch anymore. I've done some hot races in the past where I've slowed considerably at the end of the race but I've never done a race where I've been so slow right from the very first step. My plan was to take it easy the first half and then try to be tough the second half when I knew everyone else would crumble. The second aid station on the run was the only one that had cold drinks and ice I took full advantage drinking and covering myself with plenty of cold fluids and putting ice down the jersey. That must have dropped my body temperature considerably because within a minute I started feeling so much better and my stride started clicking. Was surprised to see just one competitor out in front of me at the turnaround and he looked to have a sizable lead. Behind me there were about five others all pretty close and I knew it was likely a tossup for second through sixth place. Really wanted to finish second as opposed to sixth. Pushed as hard as my body would allow the second half and I think starting so slow may have helped me finish relatively strong. With less than a mile to go a spectator told me the leader was just 30 seconds up the road and for a moment I thought I might be able to win but it was false information. Crossed the line in second and ended up second overall for the second time in this race. I think second through sixth place ended up being decided by who slowed the least the second half of the run. I ran a full five minutes faster here two years ago and was just two seconds off the fastest run split on this day. That says a lot about the heat.

Overall: 1:54:01 Second place Top American

Really happy with this race result. Was just talking at dinner Saturday night about how it's been over a year now since I've had a race result that I'm really happy with and the confidence has been pretty low. I've had great training this past month but without any race results the confidence has been absent. So this one feels extra good in that respect. Got out of this race exactly what I wanted. Felt very good about how I handled the heat as well which is encouraging, after pouring water on myself for five minutes at the finish line I was feeling pretty good. Heat index was 101 at the finish. Had four athletes race here, it was a big race for all of them. None raced as fast as they wanted but that was just a product of the day and I thought they all did well. Ron won his age group by 15 minutes! From here it is two weeks of rest and recovery as I peak for the Mooseman 70.3 in New Hampshire. Excited to take the momentum and confidence from this race and see what I can do rested in a 70.3. Also good to know that just four races in I likely already have my hottest and coldest races out of the way for the year. And finally it's good that I brought home a check that will easily cover the speeding ticket I got on the way to Memphis! Below is another video documentary masterpiece by the ever popular Jun. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rev 3 Knoxville Race Report

This past Sunday was the inaugural Rev 3 Knoxville Olympic distance triathlon. This was my first Pro outing in 2010. Although the results were not what I had hoped for this was a great race held at a great venue.

Swim 1500: 18:41

To sum up the swim in a sentence it was the worst triathlon swim I've ever had. Race morning was cool, air temp 50 degrees at race time and 69 degree water. A year ago we would have been wearing wetsuits, but due to the new pro wetsuit cutoff temperature the water was 1 degree above the wetsuit cutoff. So no wetsuits. I got to the swim start in time for about a 5 minute warmup swim. In hindsight I should have just kept the warmups on, done armswings and jumping jacks as warmup, and jumped in the water the last minute before the start. It wasn't long after I got in before my teeth started chattering and I was getting cold fast. I had done a short swim on Saturday and the water didn't feel too bad but then again I swam in a wetsuit on Saturday and the air was 85 degrees not 50. To make matters worse the race started about 10 minutes late. They lined us up for the start but then had an invocation. Then they lined us up for the start again but had the national anthem instead. A lot of people were yelling at the starter to get us going. Finally after about 10 minutes floating around without a wetsuit in 69 degree water the race started and I was off the back from the get-go. The body never came around and I exited the water a full 3 minutes down on the lead swimmers which is about 2 minutes slower than normal for me. The swim alone took me out of the race.

Bike 40k: 23.1mph

I got onto the bike as one of the last pro men and almost immediately regretted not putting on gloves and arm warmers. There was a steady northerly wind and I was cold. The air didn't feel all that cold to me warming up but then again I warmed up with four layers on and being in 69 degree water unprotected for 30min probably had me a little cold to begin with as well. The bike course was on narrow roads and very technical, it gave a huge advantage to two types of racers; those who knew the course and those who rode fearless. I was neither. My one attempt to preview the course in the car on Saturday resulted in me getting lost in downtown Knoxville and not having the patience to figure out the course. Big mistake. The course was far more challenging than I expected. With so many blind curves and not knowing the course I was braking when I didn't need to and riding very hesitant. Call me crazy but I'm just not willing to dive bomb a downhill blind curve at 35+ mph when I can't see all the way around the curve and have never previewed the course. It would have also been nice to have known about the two separate ~2 mile climbs that were on the course, I didn't expect those and was pretty much gassed half way up each. The cold was another big challenge, at one point I thought I might have to pull over because my hands had gotten so cold I was having trouble grabbing my brakes. Was also shivering pretty good on the descents which was causing my entire bike to wobble. I know of at least one other pro who DNF'd due to cold. Was just happy to get into T2 with the rubber side down.

Run 10k: 35:36

After struggling to get my shoes on in T2 due to lack of feeling in the hands I was off on the run. I think I had a decent run in me but by that point my fate had long since been been sealed and I ran pretty uninspired, enjoying watching the Pro men's and women's races play out and cheering all my friends and age groupers on the out-and-back run.

Overall: 2:03:50 21st place

Finished 21st out of 24 male pros and two of the people who I beat walked most of the run with injuries, although there were a decent number of DNFs as well. It was my lowest placing ever in a triathlon, even two spots lower than I placed at the 70.3 World Champs in 2008. Certainly not the race result I wanted or drove 400 miles for but I'm not going to beat myself up over it because I know I'm far better than the results show. From simply previewing the bike course, not freezing myself out of a good swim, and running hard I would have dropped several minutes. It wouldn't have been a top ten finish, but I know I'm much more fit right now than the results show.
This was my first experience in a Rev3 race and it was very positive. I encourage everyone to enter a race in this exciting new series which is gaining momentum fast. The venues are thoroughly researched and the courses are carefully and strategically planned out. Despite not knowing the bike course I thought it was a fantastic and challenging route. I kept thinking how much more fun it would be taking those curves at high speed if I actually knew the course. I was very impressed with the city of Knoxville as well, it seemed like a great place for a multisport athlete to live. I really liked how you literally cross the bridge out of town and are instantly on nice country roads. Race morning also had one of the prettiest sunrises I've ever seen over the Tennessee River (see pic below courtesy of slowtwitch). The rest of the race pics are courtesy of Ryan Bates. From here I'll head to Memphis in May in two weeks which should be a good opportunity to place high and build some confidence in a less talented pro field. I made the tough decision not to rest at all for Memphis (as I did for this race) and save the peak for June 6. It was very tempting to rest and try to match or better my runner-up finish in Memphis from 2008. Now I'll just try to do it without resting! On June 6 is the Kansas 70.3, Mooseman 70.3 in New Hampshire, and Rev 3 half in Connecticut. I'm entered in all three and will decide in the coming weeks which one to go after. Thanks for reading, Daniel

Monday, April 26, 2010

Boiler Sprint Video

Long time no post. The lack of blog posting is in direct relation to how busy I've been lately. Training, racing, and coaching are all in full swing and leave me with little-to-no time to do things like update my blog. There is so much to update including a 6 week training trip to California and Sport Beans Triathlon Team Camp, I have something like a dozen videos on the camera that I want to get up. I've also started racing and already have two wins on the season, I've done local sprint races the past two weekends. Yesterday it was the Boiler Sprint Triathlon on the campus of Purdue. My roomate Jun came along for support. I gave him my camera and told him to document the race. This is what I got back, Jun likes to talk! I think the ratio of time Jun spends talking versus filming the actual race is something like 6:1. Hopefully I can make time to update this more regularly in the future and get some videos from my California trip up including my favorite mountain climbs! Until then, see you at the races.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Headed Home, boo

Headed home from Florida, sadly. It was a good week. In the seven full days I was in Florida I logged 228 miles on the bike, 59 miles of running, 12k of swimming, and an hour of lifting. Not bad considering it was my first time on the bike and in the pool in two months and just my fourth week of running. If I can build off of those numbers I'll be in great shape for the spring. It was great to be able to ride and run outside even if the routes are limited and traffic heavy in a beach town. Swimming outdoors in a long course pool was a nice treat as well. The bad news is I'm headed home and as far as the forecast shows the temperature is not going to break 30 degrees. I'm seriously considering another extended training trip out to California. For some reason the idea of training all winter in Indiana isn't as appealing as in previous years.

I had a lot of fun with my new video camera. Shot a good 30 minutes worth of video, managed to edit and upload my own video. Amazing what you can do when you read an instruction manual. Below is the result, hopefully I'll have plenty of video blogs this year. My roomate Jun is the co-star. Enjoy and thanks for reading.