Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

 2012 Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Where to start with this race? I think I better start 2 years ago. 2 years ago I qualified for Kona and had a lackluster race. From there I set in motion a 2 year plan to race and get back to Kona via a qualification at Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2012. I raced 70.3's in the 2011 season and achieved pretty much everything I had wanted to. Unfortunately I started to feel that little seed of doubt in the back of my mind that had most likely been planted because of mental burnout on long course racing.
I had a great winter spending long hours in the basement of The Bike Hub and really improving my bike and swim. All the while I felt I was building my run in a way I had never done it before. With a consistent day in and day out easy running. 
This all lead me into a spring in which all things were pointing to some pretty good fitness gains. I started with the Rapid Rabbit run at East Valley High School. I finished second overall in the 5 miler and improved upon my 2010 time by 10 seconds. Not an amazing amount of improvement but still really solid nonetheless. 
After that came Bloomsday. I finished that with a 15 second PR and I really felt things were coming together. Up to that point I had been hitting a consistent 14 hours a week of training for about 8- 10 weeks. This is not quite the amount of volume I had hoped for, but I have a 17 month old daughter now and 8 hour training days on Saturdays aren't as appealing. In addition I can't take off and ride my bike on my day off unless my wife happens to be off as well.   That doesn’t happen very often.
At the end of May I decided to test my triathlon fitness at Onionman. It's an olympic distance race about 3 hours south of Spokane in Walla Walla. A town sooo fine they named it twice.
This is the race I've used every season to see where I'm at. It was a super windy morning on race day and the swim buoys must have gotten blown in a bit, as the swim was a bit short. Looking at my placing coming out of the water it was obvious that I was faster than I had ever been at this race and I felt great.
The bike was tough but I came into T2 with a bike split that was 1.5 minutes faster than last year at 1:02:30 and  more importantly I was 5 minutes faster than 2010 (the last year I did Ironman). The run came together just fine and I was able to run my way into 4th place overall with a 15 second PR on the run course. 
So, as I said everything was looking good for a stellar race in Coeur d'Alene. At this point I was 4 weeks out from Ironman and May had already seen some reduced training volumes for me. I was only averaging 13 hours a week and these should have been my biggest weeks. I got sick a couple of times and struggled to make it to the pool early in the morning as I had all year. From there I ended up coasting into Ironman with some okay workouts, but I just didn't have that fire deep in my belly. Last time I raced Ironman all I wanted in life was to qualify for Kona. This year all I wanted was to get through it. The original goal was to win my age group, but I wasn't sure I had a shot at that anymore. If I did it was based on 1. luck and 2. experience. 
Lets skip ahead to race morning.

Event warmup:

I had a pretty bad head cold for about 2 weeks leading into Ironman. By the time race day came around my body felt okay, but I was still super congested. I figured the cold water would help clean it out and I would move along with my day. 
Race morning started out at it always does at 3am. I hadn't been sleeping well in the week leading up to the race and had been depending on Nyquil to get me through the coughing fits I would have so I could get to sleep. The night before the race unfortunately I had to depend on the Nyquil again to quell the coughing fits. It did the trick but I was afraid it would leave me feeling sluggish. 
Thankfully when I woke up the excitement of race morning seemed to kick all that drowsiness out of my head no problem. I was still congested but it really didn't matter. I headed to Cda by myself for the first time ever and quickly moved through body marking and getting my bike set up. I met with my parents briefly and got the wetsuit on and headed down to the lake. 
I had about 25 minutes to mess around down by the water and I ended up swimming around for about 5-10 minutes just to get used to the cold water before heading up to take my place on the beach. 
While waiting and looking for a place to start I was happy to run into Martin Scates. He sort of indirectly taught me how to swim a few years ago by organizing a masters swim and I've always looked up to him and his experience as he is a 29 time Ironman and multiple time Kona qualifier. Shortly after Troy Nelson and Conrad Band ended up standing right next to us and we sat there and waited for the gun to go off. 



It was a weird feeling this year. I just did not have the nervous excitement. I had more of a feeling of dread than anything else. Not good when you have nearly 10 hours to go from there. The cannon fired and I dove into the water with the three local Spokane guys around me. I honestly thought I should swim 1:05 pretty easy and I took off relaxed, but still pushing hard to try and get out front of the majority of people. 
It didn't work. I was swimming in clean water for what I would guess was 300 yards and then I was trapped. I couldn't go forward and there were people climbing all over me. For the first time in a mass start I was panicking! All I wanted to do was stop, but that was not an option. I knew stopping would only cause the next 1000 people to swim over the top of me. So I continued to plug along but I never really go to swim the way I wanted. I started to let those negative thought creep in and I should have known that I was in trouble for the rest of the day.
The rest of the 1st loop was quite physical and I came out in 34 minutes.... Not a good start at all.
 Cda is always a few minutes slower the second loop. Especially if the wind kicks up. Of course it did and I really struggled that second loop. This was partially the weather, but also partially my lack of dedication to the swim in the last 8 weeks leading up to the event. My own fault... 
The last 100 yards of the swim my legs started to cramp pretty bad and I was feeling really cold. I remember thinking if I could stop here I think I would.  Obviously that wasn’t an option.  It’s funny how many times I thought about quitting during the day only to realize I had no other way to get where I wanted to go other than to continue on. 
Thankfully I made it out. I ended up at 1:12 and I was demoralized. You always tell yourself Ironman is a long day, but this was not how I wanted to start. The swim should feel easy and the last thing I wanted to do was feel like I had to start chasing on the bike to make up for a lackluster swim. That is exactly what happened though. 
If anyone if reading this and thinking about racing strategy.  It should be obvious that you shouldn’t care about the swim.   A couple of minutes lost here are really not a big deal.  If something goes wrong just move on and forget it.

What would you do differently?:

I needed to stay consistent with my swim. I had made huge strides in the winter, but I pissed them away at a critical time.



Wet suit strippers always make this easier. Running up to the strippers I saw my friend John Martinek and I really wanted him to strip me ;). Unfortunately he was occupied and stripping someone else. Just then I heard my name. I looked over and saw a friendly face in a crazy wig. Nate Duncan was there and he ripped the suit off of me no problem. 
I popped up and I was pretty dizzy. I also couldn't see out of my right eye as it had filled with water for both loops and was very irritated. The eye didn't really bother me though. Thankfully I have 2 of them and lefty never lets me down.
I got my bag no problem but the change tent was super full, dark and I couldn't see. I ran in 5 feet and turned around and ran back out. I changed in the grass outside and skipped the change tent all together. 
I also skipped the sunscreen on accident. I would pay for that even though it was overcast. 



Ahhh. The bike. Over the years this has become the place where I go to work and make up a lot of ground. I had a lot of work to do too!
I got clipped in and took off! I was riding a much faster setup than I had ever ridden in years past. As some of you may know I rode for Planet X last year and was planning on staying on my Exocet even though the team was no longer in existence. Last September my first frame cracked at the seat post and this year about January I had my replacement frame crack in the same place.
I rode it for a couple months with Duct tape holding it together. I was teased mercilessly every time I took it into The Bike Hub, but they always fixed it for me no problem, and they had to fix it a lot. I think they started to hate that thing as much as I did at the end.
 I waited for months and months to get a new one and finally gave up around May and asked for a refund. The search for a new bike ended with the Trek Speed Concept. The Bike Hub helped me make sure it would fit and I got a pretty good deal from a guy on Craigslist who had barely used it. It's funny I feel like the guy I bought it from (Tyler) became a friend and was one of the best cheerleaders on race day. 
In addition to the Speed Concept I had borrowed a disc and Zipp 808 front from my training partner Jon Moen. I only carried an aero water bottle and the profile design between the bars aero bottle. I don't think too many people had a more aero setup than I did out there. 
This set up lead to me catching and passing a huge amount of riders. I made up 32 spots in my age group and really felt great coming off the bike. Sure I went through a couple of rough patches but I took it easy going up the hills and felt that I rode the course the very well. 

On the first loop I caught Troy Nelson early on and eventually caught Conrad towards the turn around on 95. I thought that was odd, because he rode a 5:02 to my 5:09 in 2010 and I know he's a monster on the bike. I talked to him briefly and continued on. 
At about mile 45 someone came riding up next to me and paused to talk. I turned and sure enough it was Conrad. He explained to me that he realized once people started to pass him that he must be riding too easy. With that he took off up the other side of Micah grade and disappeared really quickly. I didn't see him again until they failed to get him his special needs bag and we started riding together for a little bit through town. 
After we got back on the highway he dropped me again no problem. The second loop the wind picked up a little, but honestly this was the least wind I've experienced out on the course. We really lucked out with a mild day. Everyone was telling me how much faster this course was going to be, but it turned out to be much slower for everyone. The top amateur times were around the 5:10 to 5:20 range. On the other course they were closer to 5:00. 
In the end I finished up with a 5:16 and made up 32 spots in my age group. I came off the bike in 8th in my age group and 61st overall. I was actually feeling pretty good too.



Straight forward T2. went through pretty quick.



The run started off not too bad actually. I had a plan to run 7:30 per mile for the first 20 and then if I could drop it from there. Right out of T2 I was running with Troy and one other guy. It was awesome to hear all the yells from family and friends and I wasn't feeling too bad. I quickly realized that Troy and the other guy were running much faster than I planned so I decided to stick to what I had planned. It stayed that way and I let Troy go and at about mile 1 I found out I was in 8th in my age group. I was disappointed and I let it effect me. To make matters worse I had quickly had 2 guys in my age group run by me like I was standing still at mile 3. 
For some reason this made me completely shut down mentally. I don't know why but I began doubting my plan and thinking there was no way a 3:15 marathon would be fast enough.  In reality it may not have won my age group but I would have been much happier with my race.  As it turns out the two guys that blew by me at mile 3 went 1 and 2 in my age group. 
 My pace slowed and people started passing me like crazy. I didn't feel great physically but it was 75% mental. By the time I made the turn around my pace was 7:55 and I just didn't care anymore. 
I was contemplating quitting but I knew I needed to get back into town. 
So I continued on slowly and made my way back only to find that coming into town I started to feel okay again. I picked up the pace again and I was passing people like crazy.   I was back BABY!!
Don't get too excited though. That only lasted about 4 miles then I shut it down for good. I was headed back out of town and at that point I decided I would finish but it would be a long sloooowww run.
 I walked a lot that second lap but was able to start running again for the last miles. On the way back to town I had a number like 12 hours floating around in my head, but I made the decision that I would enjoy the finishing chute. I would high five my friends, kiss wife and daughter and just soak it all in. I've always been in such a hurry at all my other races and never taken the time to high five people and enjoy it. As it turns out I went 10:30. 
It doesn't matter how bad your day went, when you run down Sherman Ave. it is the greatest feeling!  It really doesn’t matter how fast you finish.  When you’re at your hometown race everyone is cheering for you and they don’t care that you didn’t win your age group. 
 I found friends and family all the way down and couldn't wait to see Morgan and Amelia. When I finally came across them I gave Morgan a big kiss then went to kiss Amelia. She was so excited and she was squirming all over and hard to kiss. It was an awesome moment and one I'll never forget. 
While I didn't accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish it is still a tremendous achievement to finish an Ironman. I hope my disappointment does not come across as arrogance.
This race is a ridiculously long race. It doesn't start at 7:00 am.... It starts January first. You train and train and some days things don't go perfectly. Actually they never go perfectly. It's really how you deal with the adversity that makes a fantastic Ironman. I did not deal well this year and ultimately that did me in. 
After the race I never wanted to think about another Ironman. As I sit here a week later, my negative feelings toward the race have subsided. I will not be racing one again for a long time but that is not because it’s not an enjoyable experience.  I just plain don’t have the time to do it the way I want to do it.
I've found that I really enjoy 70.3 and olympic distance racing. I will continue to race but my love for my family and my desire to spend time with them outweighs my need to train at a really high level. 
I will race a few more times this year but I think I'll wait to do the next Ironman when I have a mid life crisis like a normal guy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 in the books!

Well, another year has come and gone. This was probably my best season to date racing and in life. It all started in January (I guess every year does) with my wife and I welcoming a little girl to the world. I then followed that up with a few hours less sleep than in 2010 and a lot more fun. I was injured at times, but was able to put together a pretty successful season. I picked my first overall triathlon win in the driving rain of Medical Lake then and snagged a slot to the 70.3 IM World Championship in Las Vegas.
There were a few age group wins along the way and all in all I had a great time!
I even met quite a few new training partners who I trained with quite a bit in 2011.
It was a lower volume year for me but here are my numbers
Swim- 391,960 yards
Bike- 3681 miles
Run- 698 miles
I'm not even going to put up my 2010 numbers because it's unfair to compare a year where I did 2 Ironman races to a year filled with 70.3's.
Next on the docket for me is Ironman Cda. After a little break I'm back at it as much as I can be right now. I'm excited for what 2012 will bring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Swim Focus: Did it work?

Well, my swim focus has come to an end. After two months of consistent dedicated work I made it.
My normal swim volume is probably somewhere around 30,000 yards a month. For October and November I had a goal of 50,000 yards per month. Unfortunately due to a sickness in October and a little bit of life outside of triathlon getting in the way I was unable to hit that mark either month. I did make it to about 45,000 each month though. Here is what I learned from past 2 months.
1. The black line in my pool is actually blue. The funny thing is I never noticed this. I had it pointed out to me by Kelly Jahns who informed me in late Novembr. I guess it's time for some new goggles. :)
2. A swim focus will really dry out your skin. I'm pretty good about putting lotion on post swim but I can't reach my back, and I'd feel weird asking my swim buddies to lotion me up. So I walk around with an itchy back all the time.
3. I started to actually enjoy swimming. (don't worry, the feeling went away). I no longer dreaded going to the pool in the morning. The biggest reason for this was the people I swim with. They were all very encouraging and helpful.
4. I did get faster. I felt like I got significantly faster, though I'm still not signifcantly fast but certainly "faster" than I was.
My benchmark tests showed some rather significant gains.
1000 TT. October time- 15:32 December time- 14:42
500 TT. October time- 7:20 December time- 6:54
100 TT. October time- 1:14 December time- 1:12

The only goal I didn't hit was my 100 time which I missed by 1 second. Hopefully I can maintain some of this speed I've gained in last year and it will benefit at Ironman Coeur d' Alene in June.

Friday, December 9, 2011

De Soto Polypro Thermal jersey review

Living in the northwest I am constantly on the look out for things to keep warm while training in frigid temperatures. After a couple of years of doubling up on Underarmour cold weather shirts and fleece beanies I think I've finally found the best solution.

This is it!  The De Soto Polypro thermal jersey is awesome.  
1.  Its thicker without being cumbersome.  There is a fleece liner to keep you warm, however it still seems to breath remarkably well.
2.  It has a hood.  I know what you're thinking "big deal" hoods just bounce around and get in the way.  This hood is different though.  Its tight around your head and cut slightly in on the side so it doesn't inhibit your line of sight at all.  It reminds me of the suits you see speed skaters wearing. 
3.  It has thumb holes.  You can cover nearly half of your hand with these thumb holes and it keeps the sleeve from sliding up.
4.  It had a pocket at the top of the neck that you can put a chemical warmer in.  I haven't actually put a warmer in there but I have put my ipod in there and it worked great.  
Bottom line the Polypro jersey is great for biking, running cross country skiing and I'm sure it would work for any outdoor activity where you want to be warm but don't want to worry about of a lot of bulkiness getting in your way.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just keep swimming

Well... It's now the offseason and that means it time to focus on your weakness. For me it's painfully obvious that it's swimming (and maybe transitions). That has meant more time than ever staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool.
After the 70.3 World Championship I took 2 weeks off. When I say off I mean OFF. It didn't take long for me to notice I no longer had abs and my pants either shrunk or I was getting a little "thicker". It's amazing how quickly I was packing on the pounds. After those 2 weeks I decided I was time to get to work. The pool was calling my name. Typically when the pool calls my name I have no problem ignoring it. This year it was unavoidable.
I started swimming with an unofficial masters group Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last January. I have seen a tremendous amount of improvement in the last year in the pool and a small amount in some of my races. If I was going to make the leap to tremendous improvement in my races I needed to swim more. So starting October 1st I set out to swim 5 days week. I'm happy to report that 1 month in I'm still swimming 5 days a week and things seem to be progressing nicely. I'm actually enjoying my swims. All the swims haven't been long been but most have had some technique work built in. After all, swimming is 20% strength and 95% technique.
The swim focus started with a 100, 500 and 1000 yard time trial. I'm embarrassed to share these times but I figure if I throw them out in the blogosphere I'll have no choice but to improve upon them. Besides when you swim a 37 minute Half Ironman there is no hiding the fact that my swimming is well behind my bike and run. So here are the results.
500- 7:20
1000- 15:32
I think a 1:11 100 is doable and 7:00 500 and hopefully 14:50 1000. I'll report back at the end of November.
In the meantime I encourage everyone to get out there and do what you enjoy the least. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Las Vegas 70.3 World Championship

Walking down to the lake... an 1:30 after the pro start

This race has been my goal "A" race since Kona last year. Kona didn't go quite as planned. I’d say the biggest problem for on the big island was letting everyone convince me that the race didn't matter because I wasn't going to win my age group anyway. This way of thinking poisoned me and made me believe that I didn't really belong there.

I set out this year to race a World Championship. Not simply show up and participate.

I qualified in Boise on a roll down. That didn't eaxactly help my confidence going into Vegas. If I couldn't even get it done at a smaller race in the Northwest, how was I supposed to compete with the best in the world?

As the season progressed I started to get more and more fit and it was showing in most of my races. I finished in the top five overall in all of my non WTC races with one overall win.

The successful season paired with some great training sessions leading into Vegas had me cautiously optimistic.

T1 full of bikes!

Race Day:

The pros started at 6:30 and I went off at 8. Transition closed at 6 so that meant I had to get down there at around 5 to make sure everything was ready to roll. Luckily I stayed at the Ravella on Lake Las Vegas, which is about 500 yards from the swim start. That meant I was able to walk back to my room, eat and hang out until my wave was getting closer to starting. On a side note if you're looking for a hotel I reccomend the Ravella over Loews. It's actually a lot closer to the swim and T1.

As far as a warm up goes. I just hopped in with about 5 minutes left before we started and swam around a little. I got tired of treading water so I stood on the rocks under the bridge for the final minute before the race started.

Here I come...37 minutes into the swim :(

Swim- 37:04

I decided to go with a swim skin this year. In Kona, I just wore my tri shorts and I had a hell of a time getting into my top after the swim. My Desoto Liftfoil performed beautifully! You can even wear it the whole race if you want. I raced in my Planet X team kit and pealed the swim skin but you can go either way.

As far as the swim went, I started to the far left and swam straight for the first turn buoy. The course curves to the left and I think you can effectively cut some of the swim by not following the buoy line. I got out for the first 100 yards with very little contact. I even managed to stay up near the bulk of the field up to right around the first turn buoy. The swim was pretty uneventful. I was hoping to swim a 34-35, but I came out in 37. Oh well. At least I have something to work on for next year.

T1 – 3:27

T1 is about a 200 yard run around the backside of the lake. I ended up passing about 5 people on the run, only to have them pass me back as I struggled to get my socks on. Somehow I put both on heel side up and had to take them off and start over. Coming out of the change tent my Planet X Exocet was looking pretty lonely. I assumed this would be the case and I didn't let it bother me. The nice thing is I felt zero pressure all day.

I grabbed my bike and started the long run out of T1 and up a windy hill. I left my shoes clipped in and was having problems with the heel loop hitting the ground and spinning my shoes around. I was just waiting for one to pop out of the pedals and go flying. This was a new problem for me. I guess I’d never had to run this far with my bike.

After mounting my bike I had a ridiculous time getting into my left shoe. I collapsed the part I needed to get my foot into and couldn’t get it to open back up. This happened to me one other time this year and it is extremely frustrating. Eventually I got it straightened out, but it took about ½ mile.

What would you do differently?:

I need different socks. I never have problems with the pair I wear for the run. Also, use bands on my shoes to hold them level.

I know my wife meant to show me getting onto my bike, but I can't help but notice how lonely T1 looks.... I was in the last wave though so cut me some slack.

Bike- 2:30:38

In talking to people throughout the week I had told some that I was planning on going pretty hard on the bike and some I was planning on taking it easy. To be honest I wasn't lying to either of them. I didn’t know what the plan was. I ride mostly based on feel and I just decided to see now I felt on the day.

Right out of transition you have a 2 mile climb. I was passed by about 5 people in this section, as I struggled with my shoes. Luckily I was able to pass them all back within the next 2 miles. I was passing people left and right (actually most on the left ;). I was feeling great.

There was one guy in my AG (Charlie) that I was going back and forth with until about mile 20. He was kind of a bigger guy so I assumed he must be a biker and I figured I may have a shot at catching on the run.

The race progressed and I kept waiting for the big hills everyone had warned me about, but they never came. For the most part this course is spent going back and forth between your big ring and small ring. I had an 11-25 on the back I never really needed the 25. There is one difficult part of the course. The climb out of Lake Mead all the way back to T2. It's not super steep but it is long.

By the time I was back near Henderson I was seeing fewer and fewer people in my AG. However, as I was passing by one of the last 2 penalty tents I did see two guys from my age group, and I couldn't help but smile (cheating bastards).

I rolled into T2 feeling good. It turns out I was more on the easy side of the bike. Which in my opinion is usually the better way to go.


I finally had a decent transition. Shoes and socks went on easy and I was ready to run.

Feeling pretty good on the run

Run- 1:30:11


I came into the run having no idea where I was in my AG and not really caring to tell you the truth. I wanted have a good run, and that was all that mattered. This was my last race of the year and I wanted to leave it all on the course. No saving it for a future race. No worrying about an injury flaring up. Just go hard and see where you end up.

The first mile or so is a steady downhill. This allowed me to get my legs under me and set a good pace from the beginning. I was running at about 6:30 per mile pace and it felt relatively easy going downhill. At around 1 mile into the race a guy from my AG in a PACwest kit went flying by me like I wasn't even moving. I looked down and at that time I was running a 6:10.

"Welcome to the world championships" I thought.

My mind started to drift back to my Kona race last year where I did nothing but get passed for the entire run. For a split second I started to struggle with my confidence. It’s times like this that you have to remind yourself that you’re just starting a half marathon. That’s a fairly long race by itself. When you pair with a swim and hard bike anything can happen. I decided to just to keep my pace and run my own race. I knew I wasn't getting on the podium so I may as see what I could do.

The first lap was a bit of a struggle, but then something awesome started to happen. I started noticing that I was passing people in my AG and no one else was passing me. With a renewed sense of confidence I was able to find another gear. It was crazy. Nothing hurt, I was staying cool, and was running really well. The uphill half of the race I was running about 7:20 and the downhill is would let myself go as fast as I wanted and I was running 6:10's.

The second loop flew by and before I knew it I was on the last loop.

It was gut check time.

I had been falling apart at about mile 11 of all my longer runs and races this year and I didn't want that to happen. So with three miles to go I started to push hard. I knew I only had one more trip up the hill then it would be a mile downhill to the finish.

Oh yea, and PACwest guy that blew by me was suddenly running right up the road from me. Holy shit! I had managed to bring this guy back that I had deemed untouchable. When I him passed I made sure it was a hard pass and checked him at the next 2 turns. I gapped him pretty quickly and he looked miserable. From there it was just pushing hard to the top of hill and gearing up to finish with the downhill.

Then, out of nowhere I noticed at the turn at the top of the hill that were 2 guys in my AG within striking distance so I gave it all I had left coming down the hill. I was running a 5:40 and gaining on those 2 in hurry. I made the pass about halfway down the hill and kept on the gas all the way though the shoot. I was spent! I ended up with a final finish time of 4:43:07. That was good enough for 21st in my age group and the 4th American finisher in my age group. Those Europeans are FAST!

What would you do differently?:

The key at a race like this is staying cool. If you overheat you're done. I made sure to take ice and water and dump it all over me at every aid station. I also hit the coke early. I know from experience Coke is magic for me on the run

My best cheerleaders!

Post race

Warm down:

I had done exactly what I wanted to do at the race. I ran hard... So hard that when I stopped I got really dizzy. Luckily Ironman races never have a shortage of volunteers at the finish. 3 people grabbed me and helped to the medical tent. The tent was full so I sat there for a minute talking to Nate Birdsall and cooling off. I could tell an IV was going to be a long wait so I eventually got up and walked to meet my family and friends.

I had an excellent cheering/ support system for the race. My brother his wife, my wife and daughter, and my friend drove up the night before from San Diego to come watch. It always helps to see familiar faces.

Finally I had a race I felt I could be proud of. I loved this race and really want to come back. Next year is an Ironman year and hopefully another Kona year so we'll see what happens.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Troika 74.6 2011

Troika has been on the top of my list to do for the last 2 seasons. My first year I think I just plain ran out of money to sign up. Last year I was still battling IT band problems and I had Kona to think about. This year things seemed to come together nicely. I've been smarter with my injuries, and not let them put a complete stop to my training and racing for any long periods of time this season.

Race morning was interesting.... Morgan had to work the night before the race from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. This left me to take care of Amelia over night and tend to any middle of the night awakenings. Luckily there was only one at about 3 am and I wanted to get up around 4 anyway. So I just started my day at 3. She went back to sleep and my sister in law arrived at 4:45 so I could make the drive out to Medical Lake.
When I got to the venue I saw all the familiar faces that make it out to every race. (I love being a part of such a strong local contingent of triathletes.)

Before the race I already had the podium all figured out. At least thats what I thought. Sam Piccici (not sure if I spelled that right, I know it starts with a P then you just throw "i"s and "c"s everywhere) was there and he was coming off of a crazy fast 9:30 at IMCDA. Ben Greenfield was a late entry and he's always a threat to win. Troy Nelson has been getting faster and faster every time he races, so I thought that would be the podium in that very order. This would leave Jon Moen and I to battle it out for 4th and 5th. You always figure someone from elsewhere will show up and beat everyone so I had that guy in the back of my mind as well.
The swim- (40:07)
There were rumors that this swim is always a bit long. This year it really lived up to the hype. During the swim I felt pretty good for the first half. I was pretty much in the thick of the middle of the pack. I decided to go ahead and draft for much of the swim and in retrospect I think that was a mistake.
The way back into the beach there didn't seem to be enough buoys and I couldn't tell if I should aim for the one closest to the beach or if I was missing one off to the left. I decided to swim with a group of 4 guys and we all swam very wide. In the end my navigation was very poor and I think that partially accounted for my slow swim time with respect to others. The good news is, everyone was slow. About 4-6 minutes slow in fact. No one swam under 33:00. Ben who swam a 27:xx last year only managed a 33:xx this year. So if you take 6 minutes off my time I think I would have been around 34:xx. Not exactly where I want to be, but I have not been staying in the pool long enough lately. I only have myself to blame. I put myself in a 6 minute hole to the top swimmers and about 4 minutes to Jon and Troy. Not a good start.
Bike- 2:30:21

I took off on the bike and made the decision to try and push at least to the turn around so I could make up some of the damage from the swim. I don't wear a watch to swim so I didn't yet know how slow I was in the water. When I got up by the turn I started counting spots and taking splits. Ben was in 1st, Sam pretty close behind in 2nd and they both had about 7 minutes on me. I ended up counting 16 in front of me. From there I just rode hard and tried to catch as many people as possible. My Planet X exocet and wheels again did me well. By the time we went back by Medical Lake things were getting spread out and I passed Greg Gallagher to move into 9th. Normally Greg would be a contender to get onto the podium but he told me before the race that he had won the entry the week before and he was just training through it.

I saw my parents out on Espanola and they gave me a split of 6:30 to the leader and told me I was in 5th. I knew that wasn't right, but hopefully the split was somewhat accurate. It was nice to see them out there though. It gets pretty lonely in these smaller races. I was hammering the bike and not really worrying about pace up until I hit the 40k mark and realized I had rode it in 1:00:24. This was a 4 minute PR for that distance. I realized I better back off a bit. So I did.

From there I didn't see any other racers for the next 45 minutes to an hour. It was a strange feeling. At about the 45 mile mark I caught and passed a guy and could see one more up about 30 seconds. I passed him when we turned past the river in 7 mile. This is where I started to get suspicious that the bike would be long too. At mile 52 I knew we weren't even going to be close to 56 miles. The 56 mile mark was behind the college which I knew to be 4 miles from the finish because it's basically the 4 mile mark for Bloomsday. I was really ready to be done. Mentally it sucked. Physically it probably wasn't a big deal. It gave me a chance to pee one more time and I let the guy pass me back so I could follow him into the finish, as I had no idea where to go. So we ended up going 60 miles. I came off the bike in 7th.

Run- 1:30:07
I passed the one guy in T1 and never saw him again until I was coming back. It was weird running through park with everyone in normal clothes and me all by myself clad in spandex. But I digress.

At the three mile mark I started to really wonder where everyone was. I had lost track of my placing in my head (my parents number started to creep into my mind). I knew Sam, Ben, and Jon Moen were ahead. Somehow I didn't see Troy on the bike. In my mind I thought best case I was 5th. I was steadily ticking off 6:47 miles on my garmin. Pre-race I wanted to run 6:30's, but this was all I had for that day. I was starting to get frustrated that no one was in site. I felt like there were points at miles 4 and 5 that I could see way up the road (I was thinking I could see 3 minutes up the road) but no one was in site. Thankfully, Roger and Jesse Thompson were out there cheering us on and Roger told me I was 6th, about 6 minutes back from Ben and 3 minutes from everyone else. You have no idea how much this helped. I tried to pick it up a little and by the time I made the turn around I was 2:30 back and gaining on many of them. Ben was too far ahead for me to catch at that point and when I saw Troy he was running FAST. I thought he had a legit shot at catching Ben. Everyone else was in striking distance. Unfortunately my stomach started to rebel. It was all I could do to hold everything in. The last thing I wanted to do was be immortalized on as poopman #2. Some poor schmuck from Ironman Florida had shat his pants last year and from that moment on he has been known as poopman by thousands of triathletes.

My pace took a little hit with that distraction but I will say I was able to keep it together for the remainder of the race and I will not be taking "poopmans" place anytime soon.
Back to the race... I was able to catch a younger guy who I was concerned was in my age group. He was the only one I thought might be, as he was the only one I didn't know and he looked about my age. As I caught an passed him I noticed his calf said 21 so I felt pretty confident I would win my AG. This put me in 5th and to my surprise I could see Sam not moving too well and not too far ahead. When I passed him I could tell he was not doing well. He was pretty much running the same pace he ran at Ironman. He's a much faster runner than he showed that day. Everyone has bad days though, and all I could do was move on. So now I had Jon ahead of me, and that was all that stood between me and a podium finish. I got a split from a friend on the course of 1:45 to Jon with about 2.5 miles left. At that point I knew I was done passing people and I really wasn't feeling that great anyway. I went into cruise mode and made sure no one was coming up behind and just finished out the race. I probably lost a minute over the last 2 miles but I really didn't care. The chance at a PR went out the window with the longer swim and bike.
It's easy to be mad and complain about them screwing up the distances but in the end everyone covered the same distance so it doesn't matter. I will do this race again, but maybe not next year. Another race where I was never passed after T1, which again be chalked up to poor swimming more so than strong biking and running.
Final finish time 4:42:15, 4th overall, 1st m25-29