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Monday, July 14, 2014

Boulder Peak Triathlon Race Report

About 12 days ago my body said enough and I hit a wall training-wise.  Fatigue, lack of power, and general disinterest took its toll and without taking too drastic measures my coach scaled back my training and by the end of last week I was tired, but felt recovered to have a good race.  I wasn't.

I was chatting with a pro triathlete at Master's swimming last Wednesday and he remarked that he didn't know how we age groupers did it.  Working full-time with kids and training 10 hours a week.  That was good to hear.

My pre-race went by-the-book and my swim warmup was good and I felt good.  I realized that I'd forgotten to take my GU chomps but got them in first thing on the bike.  I lined up at the front of the swim next to Steve Johnson and Eric Kenney, two VERY fast guys.  Eric asked me if I was going out hard.  I said yes.  He asked "20 minutes?"  "Probably 23," I said, "I'm finding Steve's feet and hanging on."  Eric followed with he needed 10 minutes to stay with Steve.  I said I needed 20.  Eric beat me out of the water by a little over a minute and I over Steve by around the same amount.  Of course, both then proceeded to crush me on the bike and run.

T1 was fast.  This was the first race where I left my bike shoes clipped in and while it was weird getting my feet in my shoes and closing the velcro, everything was fine.  Even with the shoes being a little lose and my feet having sand still on them, after a few minutes I didn't even notice.  Climbing out of the res on 51st and then on Jay was fine, but I should have realized something was up during the long, false flat up to the 36/Broadway merge.  My power was only slightly low, but I couldn't generate it in my aero bars - which was not normal.  By the time I hit the flats on 36 before and after Neva I was riding in my aero bars, but my power was off.  By the end of the bike, my average power was in the low 190s and it should have been between 210 and 220.  As a result, my projected bike time was way off.  I easily lost 5 minutes.

T2 was fast.  I remembered to roll my socks beforehand so I could just unroll them onto my feet (next season, I'm going to start training again without socks.  It's free speed and they're completely unnecessary).  Heading out onto the run, I realized I forgot my Garmin on my bike and had to race by feel.  I held back going out and felt ok until around mile 1 when I noticed the fatigue started setting in.  I didn't have to gut through anything just yet, I just kept running.  No stopping at the aid stations, but grabbing water to hydrate and douse to cool off.  By the time I hit mile 4, I was wiped and was struggling to just stay running.  At one point I had to stop and walk for a minute but forced myself to start jogging again.  At some point past mile 3 after the turnaround, my teammate Jeremy passed me still on his way out.  My first thought was that he was going to catch me and my second was that I really didn't care.  He caught me between miles 5 and 6 and later said that I wasn't looking great by then.  I'm sure.  I was able to pick it up a little the last half to 3/4 of a mile, but it was all I could do to get to the finish.  One positive was that while the run was hot, it didn't really bother me much.  I need to be better about dumping water on my front and and not just the top of my head and down my back.

Thanks to my coach Billy Edwards, my team Foxtrot Wheel & Edgemy teammates, my sponsor GU EnergyColorado Multisport, and my wife for the support.

Race Results:

165th overall (149th out of 557 men, 948 total athletes, including relays)
32nd out of 98 in age group
Swim (1500m):  21:59 (3rd fastest in AG, and 21st fastest overall)
T1: 1:37
Bike (26 mi): 1:13:23 (37th in AG)
T2: 1:09
Run (10km):  53:16

Total:  2:31:25

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon Race Report

Two things were clear after the Boulder Sprint Triathlon:  first, my running needed work, and second, so did my taper.  To be clear, the latter was more a result of a week of poor sleep leading up to the race than training too much.  To mitigate the first, I had my coach, Billy start giving me structured running workouts.  Read more about that here.  In reality, it's too far into the season to expect awesome results from the running but I had to try.  My run workouts had been going well (arguably at the expense of my bike).

We adjusted my taper accordingly and I made damn sure I was in bed as early as is possible every night with two young kids.  As a result, I went in feeling fairly fresh.

The race was an hour from my house and a wave start time of 6:30am meant getting up at 3:30.  I don't remember what time I got there but I was definitely one of the first few competitors and got a really good rack spot right by the bike-in/out.  Set up was uneventful and with the several bathroom breaks I didn't have to worry about what to do with my time.  With about 50 minutes until go time, I got the bottom half of my wetsuit on and walked the 1/4-mile to the swim start.  (Yes, 1/4-mile.  Which meant after coming out of the water, there was going to be a nice run to get to T1.)

I got the rest of my wetsuit on and started warming up.  I felt awesome and fast.  I knew I was going to have a good day.  This was also the first time I was going to wear a watch in the race so I could get power data on the bike.  But rather than just keep it on the bike, I wore it the whole race.  This can be a mixed blessing because it's easy to get in one's head if you're not hitting your numbers.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone over the course maps because I realized about a minute before the start that I had the wrong swim course plotted.  Thankfully the elites were paying attention and I got behind them at the start with about a minute to spare.  We got a 10-second countdown (which was nice as usually there's a 30-second warning and then a horn).  Right away I found some fast feet and for the first time since I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2008 I had feet the whole way.  One take away from the swim is that I need to be a lot better at sighting when I'm following in case the person I'm following leads me astray.  I had this thought at some point during the swim and tried to be good about looking for the buoys but I wasn't as good as I should have been.  The second turn on the swim had us swimming directly into the sun and I couldn't see shit.  I just trusted the guy in front of me could and wasn't going to lead me astray.  He didn't, but it was still really unnerving.

I don't recall knowing where I was position wise until I got out on the bike with the two lead elite women and looked at my watch.  I knew then that'd I'd really rocked the swim.  The bike course is hard and it bites right away with uphill rollers heading west out of T1.  With some short downhill recovery, it's basically a climb all the way to Horsetooth Reservoir.  Eventually the lead female started pulling away but I passed and dropped the second place female in the first five miles.  I'd never been this close to the front of a race before and it was really weird only seeing one or two other riders.  At some point I realized that to this point, only three other riders had passed me to this point and I was feeling really good.  I crested the first major climb about half way through the bike and ripped down the descent knowing the next climb was a lot shorter before the long, screaming descent into Ft. Collins.  About 200m from the top, I felt my back tire get a little squishy and realized that the worst thing that could have happened (short of an accident) had happened and I got a flat.  I had put tire sealant in the tubular but my guess is that it didn't kick in until too much air had escaped rendering it essentially useless.  I probably should have tried to refill it to see if it would hold air but wasn't thinking straight and all I could think about was getting the tire off and switching it out.  Instead of using glue, I used Tufo tape to adhere the tire to the rim.  And it's tacky.  REALLY tacky.  I couldn't get the tire off even though I'd left a several inch gap with no tape opposite the valve stem.  It felt like it took forever to change but in reality it was like 6 minutes.  But during that time, all the riders I'd been ahead of were passing me.  I was pissed and any semblance of a race plan went out the window (as indicated by my wattage from that point on as it was all over the map) and I stupidly tried to make up for lost time.  I even yelled at a guy to stop drafting (he wasn't).  The last stretch from Ft. Collins back to Loveland is on S. Taft a very straight stretch of road but it's very exposed and has massive rollers (which doesn't help with trying to maintain a consistent wattage).

The rest of the bike was fine but I was a mental wreck.  I flew into and out of T2 and ran the first mile faster than I should have and finally my body was like "enough" and I struggled through the rest of the run even having to resort to walking a few aid stations on the way back - something I NEVER do.  I was just holding on when I crossed the finish line.

My biggest takeaways were that my taper and recovery were spot on and I need to be able to deal with shit that happens during a race.  Pro triathlete Ben Hoffman raced Ironman Coeur d'Alene on Sunday and flatted twice on the bike.  He could have said "fuck it" and quit or coasted the rest of the way.  But, despite losing 15 minutes on the bike, he ripped off a 2:43 marathon and ran his way to 3rd.  That's how you deal with mental issues.  I got lucky, as I only lost one place due to the flat and the bike course was really hard - which is a great equalizer.  Also, I wonder if my run would have been better.

Thanks to my coach Billy Edwards, my team Foxtrot Wheel & Edgemy teammates, my sponsor GU EnergyColorado Multisport, and my wife for the support.

Race Results:

79th overall, 58th male (185 men total, 338 total athletes)
7th out of 28 in age group w/ flat (6th w/o)
Swim (1500m):  23:57, 2nd fastest in AG and 14th fastest overall
T1: 1:06
Bike (30 mi): 1:35:49 w/ flat (1:29:06 w/o, 7th fastest in AG)
T2: 1:08
Run (10km):  53:38, 18th in AG

Total:  2:55:40 w/flat (2:48:57 w/o)