Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ITU Worlds - Auckland

On October 22, I raced in the ITU World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, having qualified last season. This was to be my primary A race for the season, but I contracted a weird virus called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome that caused me to miss a big chunk of training in July and August. At that point, the goal was to put together a late season rally so I could toe the line in Auckland. I had one training race (Portage Lakes) and some okay training leading up the trip. I went into the race happy to be healthy and somewhat fit. I raced in the 2011 World Championships, so it was helpful to have experience going into this race. But I knew the competition would be tougher due to the shear number of Australians and New Zealanders who were in the race. Since New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, they were just entering Spring. This meant 55 degree water and lots of clouds/rain. One person got hypothermia during the course familiarization swim. It POURED the day before the race during bike check in. Fortunately, the rain subsided in the morning and the course dried up; unfortunately, the wind was howling and the entire bike course was exposed and along a shoreway. This was only the second saltwater swim and the first that had significant waves. The beginning 1/4 and ending 1/4 of the swim were in a protected bay but the middle half was in some serious chop with a current. I apparently found the worst of the current because my swim time was significantly slower than ever. I felt that I was swimming hard. Maybe it was my fitness…maybe my technique sucks for rough conditions…or maybe I was in the worst part of the current. All I know is that I lost a lot of time during that middle half of the swim but caught some folks on my way in.
The bike course was a 2-looper with lots of hills in the first half and a flat windy section for the last half. I was happy to have the hills, but heading up to the biggest one (17% grade and approximately 150 m), I hit something, causing my rear wheel to cock against my chain stay. I knew I couldn\’t stop on the hill or I\’d never get going, so I forced myself to the top and hopped off. I fixed the wheel, hopped back on, and realized that the my brake caliper had also twisted and was rubbing. I got off, fixed that (at one point the brake pad slipped off because the screw had fallen off, so I had to fix that, too). At that point, I was pretty pissed, but then my brake cable became loose from the shifter and it my rear derailleur wasn\’t shifting correctly. One thing after another! I had to push the cable back into the shifter anytime I shifted, and sometimes it didn\’t catch. I can honestly say that I\’ve never had a mechanical issue during a race, and that day I had 3. The wind was a big challenge and the majority of second half of each loop was into the wind. Needless to say, my time sucked.
Heading into the run I knew I was out of contention but I wanted to give a good effort in order to have something to hang my hat on. I went out hard and noticed that a lot of people were struggling. The run was flat with lots of twists and turns. I was able to pick people off constantly. It was good to see several other Team USA folks out there, including the coaches who knew us by name. I finished with a respectable but not great run split. My overall finish was middle of the pack for my age group.
Typically I would have been more pissed about the mechanical issues and daunting wind, but I was happy to be racing at all given the health issues and I was psyched to be racing in New Zealand.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Just started using Strava as a training tool. Pretty intrigued after the first ride. I can be lazy about uploading data from my Garmin, and Strava offers an iPhone app where you hit a "start" button and "stop" button for a ride and it automatically pushes it out to their website. Pretty awesome! I always take my phone with my on rides anyway, just in case.

The software looks great so far. At first I was nervous because the mileage was off when I finished my ride on the Strava app (not sure if it lost a satellite connection or what) but it autocorrected itself and matched almost exactly with my Garmin. It allows you to create "segments" for certain portions of a training ride. I love doing repeats on Berkshire Hill so I'm imaging setting up a "segment" for that to track my results over time. I think I'll be using this a lot!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clay's Park

I was happy to get my first every OA win despite two big mistakes - 1) I followed a group of swimmers to the wrong buoy during the swim and 2) I lost my left shoe off of my bike coming out of T1. The swim had one of the fastest starts I've ever been a part of. I thought I got out good but found myself in a pack of flailing arms. Fighting for position I somehow got caught up in a small group that went for the wrong green buoy. I realized this about 20 yards from the buoy and had to turn 90-degrees and head back for the right one. I figure that added about 100 yards to the swim. I was pissed at myself for being a lemming and kicked it into high gear. I think managed to come out of the water 2nd just behind one of the relay teams. T1 was going well until I tried to mount the bike. I've never had a shoe come off during training, but somehow I managed to lose a shoe as I mounted the bike and had to turn around, put it on, and clip back in. Talk about a sloppy first 10 minutes of a race. I knew people were catching me at this point so I tried to hammer at the start of the bike but my legs felt heavy and tired. I put in a lot of miles on the bike this week and I raced last weekend so I think the training caught up with me. My legs were burning the whole ride but I held off a few charging riders and came into T2 in the lead, with another guy about 10 seconds behind and a few more just behind him. I came out of T2 hard trying to put some distance on the guy behind me. The course was a 2-loop out-and-back with an uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. At the turnaround, the guy behind me was holding strong and I thought he might catch me. I decided to push the downhill a bit and by the time we hit the 2nd loop I had put some distance on him. I tend to run hills well so I surged on the next uphill. By the turnaround I had put more distance on the guy and cruised in for the win. First overall win for me and it felt good despite tired legs. Overall time was 1:01-ish. I was glad this one was a sprint because I don't know if my legs would have taken 2 hours of beatings! It was awesome seeing all of the BAFF folks on the run. It seemed like every other runner was wearing the BAFF kit. A special thanks to Steve for organizing the team cookout after the race! Fun times.

Edinboro Tri Race Report

Edinboro was my first of the season and my first race on my new P3 so I was anxious to race. Going into the race I hadn't done any open water swimming (thanks to the awesome Spring weather we had) and most of my riding has been steady, distance rides. Seeing Duecker and LaMastra at the start I knew I was going to get smoked in the water. I started off okay but felt like I was zig-zagging the entire swim. I probably added some extra yards but I was happy with how I felt. I came out of the water 5th (pretty much tied with 4th). Swim Time: 15:12 (NOTE: 1200 yards, not 1500).

I came out of T2 with another guy and he passed me a few miles into the bike course. The course was reported at 23.7 miles so I knew going into the race I wanted to be in at around an hour. I was really tight in my glutes in the first half of the ride, which I can't quite figure out. Weird. The bike course had a nice mix of hills, roller, false false, etc. I was hurting on the long, steady climbs by the end. Overall, I'd say my bike was average. I never felt like I had a lot of power but that's how it should feel in the beginning of the season when you're building mileage. Bike Time: 1:00:08.

I came out of T2 feeling a bit disappointed in my ride but my legs felt light. I was told by spectators that there were 2 guys within 2 minutes ahead of me, so that got me moving. I caught both by the two mile mark and was still feeling strong. I knew Jim LaMastra had 6 minutes on me coming out of T2, so that was out of reach. I hit 5:45 - 5:50 pace comfortably for the first 4 miles and was feeling smooth until a side-stitch attacked at mile 4. Not sure what that was about but it was a good one. My form started to suffer as a result and Mile 5 was 6:10. The last mile was downhill and I cruised in for a solid but not ideal run. Run Time: 36:24. Final Time: 1:53:55.

When I took my shoe off after the race my foot was covered in blood. I went to the medical tent and apparently I had stepped on glass at some point before T1. So that's been a bummer this week as I've only run once since the race and have been nursing it. I think Jeanne's disaster magnetism is contagious.

I thought I finished 2nd overall, but Kevin Park, who started 3 minutes after me with the older age group, got me by 26 seconds...and unfortunately his T1 was 31 seconds faster. Whoops. Oh well. I was pleased with this race overall and I took away a few things to work on: T1, cycling (still) and swimming straight lines. I was also pleased that I seemed to recover better from this race than I did for races last season, so hopefully that says something about my fitness.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Well, for once in my life I had luck in my favor. I looked into purchasing a CompuTrainer this winter but ultimately decided to just get a PowerTap come Spring for cost reasons. I was randomly searching for an "around town" bike on Craiglist and happened upon a used CompuTrainer for a really good price. I called the guy and he offered to hold it for me while I verified through CompuTrainer that the device was functional and not an obsolete model. When I got confirmation, I snatched it up. The guy was even nice enough to hold it for me even though several others called him about it and asked to buy it.

I've ridden it a few times and already see that it's going to help me train smarter. I'm even considering doing one training session on it during the summer. I have a lot to work on when it comes to cycling so anything to help deliver improvement is up for consideration at this point. Given the circumstances, I feel like my procurement of the CompuTrainer was meant to be. Hopefully I'll be sharing some workouts and progress as the winter progresses.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Just a quick update on the Winter progress so far. I took a few weeks of active rest after Tuscaloosa and spent most of October/November doing singles. My big focus of the winter is cycling. I cleaned up my dirty, unfinished basement and set up a TV with surround sound and have been jamming away down there more than any winter prior. I've almost exhausted all of the good movies from the Cleveland Heights library so I'm digging into Adriane's collection.

I spent a lot of time in the pool last winter and while my yardage is nowhere near last year's, I still feel pretty strong in the pool. Right now I'm doing 3 swims, 3-4 rides, and 3-4 runs per week. Last week was 7 hours on the trainer, 35 miles running, and 3 hours in the pool (shortened pool schedules due to holidays screwed up my schedule a bit). I also picked up Sheila Taormina's "Call the Suit" and have been focusing on my swimming technique. It's an easy read and I'm definitely noticing that I'm getting stronger and have a better feel for the water. I highly recommend it. On the running front, I've not done anything too hard. My long runs have been consistently between 12 and 14 miles for the last 2 months and I have a great group for long runs on Saturday mornings. So I guess the last 4th quarter of 2010 was consistent but not strenuous. Now that we're entering the first quarter of 2011, it's ready to ramp things up and really hit the training hard.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tuscaloosa Olympic AG Nationals

Leading up to this race my compulsion switched from training (thank you, taper) to watching the weather. Early forecasts were calling for temps in the mid 90's and my only other race in extreme heat (Racine 70.3) had been a huge failure. Not that one can do anything about the weather, but there are measures a person can take to better prepare himself or herself for certain conditions. With the projected temps I started adding more salt to my diet in the 5 days leading up to the race and made sure I stayed hydrated

The race was on Saturday and I flew into Birmingham on Thursday night. The day before a race always flies by. I drove the course in the morning, did a little swim in the river, checked in, prepped the bike, did a little spin/run, and somehow managed to waste several hours in between. Temps were in the mid 90's so I was indoors all day.

Race morning was the typical routine. Two slices of bread with peanut butter and jelly, a banana, and a cup of coffee. I've only ever used an aero bottle for an Olympic Distance but I decided to take an additional bottle of water given the heat. This turned out to be one of my best decisions of the season!

Before the race I ran into Kim Shaheen and we sat and talked after transition closed and before I warmed up. It was great to have a teammate there to chat and calm the nerves. The pre race warmup went smoothly and I found Adam Kuncel in the bullpen before the start. I got in a short warmup swim between waves and squeezed my way into the dock for the water start. I got out nicely at the start and had a good line to the first buoy. I decided not to let my heart rate get too high during the swim due to the temps, especially with a water temp at 84 degrees (i.e. not wetsuit legal, but I was able to pick up a swim skin from Fleet Feet the day before i left). The swim was a J-shape with a long backstretch. I got into some violent episodes along the backstretch, particularly with one guy who was grabbing my ankles and apparently trying to pull himself over me. I managed a few good kicks into him and he eventually backed off. Came out of the water a little further back than expected but I felt stronger going into T1 than usual, so I was fine with that.

I got on the bike feeling good and immediately passed one guy. Note that this is extremely rare for me. The bike course was a 2 loop course with a long climb on the way out and downhill on the way back. I tend to climb well so I was relieved that the course wasn't flat. As typical, I caught a lot of people on the climbs and got passed back on the way down. Anyone with any tips on descending faster should email me ASAP. I drank my aero bottle dry by about the 15 mile mark so I was happy to have that extra bottle of water on the bike. I pushed the uphill on the 2nd lap and cruised the last part of the downhill before T2 to let my legs rest. By now the sun was beating down and it was getting hot. I knew I needed to save some energy for the run and I thought someone would pass me as I popped a few endurolytes for the run but no one did. I ended up averaging 23.5 mph for the ride, which I was happy with given the topography of the course.

I always know in the first mile whether I have my run that day, and today I had it. I got out of T2 feeling light and quick but knowing it would be a death march in the heat. The run was mostly exposed with a few climbs in the first half of the run and a steady descent over the last 2 miles. The aid stations had half-filled dixie cups and I was a little pissed that I was only getting 2 ounces per cup. I usually grabbed 2 or 3 cups, one to drink and more to splash on my face. My dad was at mile 1 and yelled that there were 10 guys in my age group within 90 seconds. I passed a lot of people who looked to be in survival mode from the heat but I was still feeling strong, which gave me more confidence. Over the next several miles I passed about 12 guys in my age group. With 1 mile to go I spotted a guy (Luke Holman) who I became friends with 3 weeks prior at Duathlon Worlds in Scotland and he was moving pretty good. I managed to get around him and passed him assertively so he couldn't respond. With 400 meters to go I saw another guy within catching distance and started really moving. At 50 yards to go I was in full sprint mode and managed to catch him with about 10 yards to go. I always wanted to get someone at the line and finally managed it. Total time: 2:05:21.

After the race I quickly downed 4 bottle of water and a gatorade. After a long cool down with Luke I came back to find out that I finished 14th in my AG and 9th in the 30-34 AG for 2011, which secured a sport for Worlds in Beijing next year (the age up rule means that I had to qualify in the 30-34 AG for 2011 since I'll be 30 at the end of 2011). I haven't decided if I'll go yet, but I'm considering it.

All told I was very happy with this race. While the time wasn't anything spectacular, I raced smart and it came down to a tactical race due to the heat. I needed something positive after Racine and I got it.