Rogers Racing

American Triathlete in London

Author: xcrogers (page 1 of 4)

Weymouth 70.3 Race Report

Last race of the season, I had a number of goals coming into his race of varying ‘importance’ but the main goal was to put myself in a position to get a spot for the 2018 70.3 WC’s in South Africa. Outside of that primary goal my focus was to build on my effort in managing my bike power/effort to push the pace on the run knowing that it was a super flat (run) course.

Per my usual weekend race strategy picked up the rental car Friday evening and packed up the car Saturday morning. I didn’t have much in terms of a pre-race workout so planned on doing the short bike/run Saturday between race check-in and getting into our Airbnb. The drive down to Weymouth was uneventful and we made good time I had found a good parking spot and set up my bike for a bit of recon. One aspect of doing race weekends in this manner is that usually my food intake on Saturday is really bad, between the drive and running around checking in/dropping off bike and such I never eat/drink enough (or at nearly the ‘usual’ time). So I had vowed to do a better job of that this time and factored a lot more time and planning into activities around eating.

Once we arrived in Weymouth I went and checked in, which was an incredibly quick process, in and out in a few minutes. Back to the car to do a quick bike and run to shake out the legs. I basically rode down the boardwalk down what I thought was the race course (turns out I was going out the way back in), but oh well…. I knew the course had some good elevation gain but the hill I encountered on my way out made me pause… if it was all like this Sunday is going to be a LOOONNNNGGGG day.

After a quick ride, put the trainers on and did a couple quick minutes around Weymouth for my run, course looked flat and fast. Back to the car and Carly who had been hanging out went and did her run for the day while I took Bruno for a walk. I went over to attend the race briefing and was able to gain entry but after sitting there for 5-10 minutes someone asked me to leave (since I had Bruno). This was pretty frustrating seeing as we were both sitting quietly in the back not disturbing anyone but if they wanted me out I left. Oh well… I tried. We went back to the car and I used the time to get my race bags and bike ready to drop off.

Once Carly was back we walked down to the transition area and I dropped my bike and bags off and checked out the swim start/transition lines. Water seemed cold, but flat and while the runs to/from transition looked long it didn’t seem anything terrible (and at the end of the day everyone does the same course).

Even Bruno likes a good pub lunch.

We walked back into town and had lunch at a dog friendly pub. Was a good meal and I felt pretty relaxed about how the day had good. I was really pleased that I had (somewhat last minute) checked on Airbnb and found a place much closer than the hotel I had booked. So we headed a few minutes out of town and checked into our place. It was a great little cabin in a camper van lot run but some fabulous people. Had everything we needed and accommodated us with the dog. We spend the rest of the afternoon just lounging about the place relaxing. I used the time to finalize my gear for the next day and a last minute chat with Brad on bike strategy.

We grabbed an early dinner at the pub across the street (again dog friendly, I freakin love this country). Had a good dinner and was home and ‘in bed’ around 8. Its hard to fall asleep so early but after a day of running around it was nice to know I was sorted and ready for the race.

 

The sea was angry that day my friends….

Sunday morning came quick and we were out the door at around 5 (which was a solid 30-45 min later than it would have been had we stayed at the other place). We got down to the parking lot, and found a spot. I left Carly and Bruno in the car to relax in the warmth for a bit while I did my last minute checks. Bike was all set, powermeter paired and hydration/fuel aboard.

 

It was cold.

Carly joined me around 30 minutes before the race was to start and I suited up. It was quite cold and windy on the beach break and the chop seemed to be picking up. The nice flat bay i saw yesterday had disappeared completely. I wasn’t particularly worried about the swim but I knew the chop wouldn’t help my already poor swim. Thankfully, after standing on the beach freezing for what seemed like hours the pro’s went off. I found a good position in the 30ish area of the starting line and waited my turn. This was the first race I’ve been in where they let groups of six go at a time. As we watched the pro’s head off we saw the women’s field head sharply off course due to the waves and wind, it was a bit scary and good to have seen. It made me nervous for my sighting but helped me know where to aim to keep on a straight track.

And we’re off!!!!

When my wave was finally called the six of us ran down the rocky beach and dove in, finally…. warmth!!!! I’d say that the first 20-30 seconds of the swim was the best I felt for the next few hours. As a little backstory here…. over the last year of racing I’ve noticed that about 300-400 meters into a race I’ll need to burp. Usually its nothing major but it usually makes me feel a bit better and I continue on racing. Its never a show stopper, and not something I’ve ever really given any thought to. So…. about 200 meters into the swim I’m starting to feel it come on. The chop is rough and you have to find a good rhythm with your stoke to not get bogged down. As time moves on my chest gets tighter and tighter, well passed the time I’d normally burp. That, coupled with a few poorly timed waves and competitors I’ve gotten to a state of near panic. I feel as though I cant breath, I want to tear my wetsuit off. I actually pull up for a second and scan my head around looking for a kayak. I’m considering pulling out of the race. This lasts about 1-2 seconds before I snap out of it… or basically tell myself to suck it up. (likely not the best solution). I push forward, not feeling any better. Basically it feels like I’m swimming with a huge guy sitting on my chest, I’m getting slower and more panicked.  Then… at about 600 meters in I burp… well vomit is a better term for what seems like minutes. Instantly….. Instantly felt better, chest was free and I could breath.

Around I rounded the first turn buoy and was no longer swimming into the chop but along side it. Pace quickened immensely and I started to reconsider my race. I knew I wasn’t going to have a great swim time but knew that others were in the same conditions as me. I was likely down some time due to the breathing but not out of the race. The goal was to be in position to get a roll down spot which I could still do. The remainder of the swim I tried to reengage the race and keep myself pushing to maintain my position.

Well that sucked….

Once back at the beach I knew I was back in the drivers seat with the swim done. I was proud of myself for staying in it and pushing myself to get through an incredibly mentally tough race experience. Running up a stone beach with froze feet is NOT fun. I tried to focus on getting my suit off and getting my legs and feet to turn over as much as possible to get some blood back in them. Every step felt like I was running on stumps, once in a while you’d get a sharp pain as you landed on a piece of gravel. It was not fun. Into the tent helmet and number out and on, wetsuit in. It always feels like I end up spending more time checking my bag to make sure I didn’t miss anything than actually taking out or putting things into it…. always second guessing myself. Long, cold run to the bike and I’m off.

 

I can still hear my teeth chattering….

The day before I had picked up toe covers and arm warmers for the bike. While I opted not to put the arm warmers on in T1 but already had the toe covers on my bike (thank god) I skipped the arm warmers. Instantly my feet started to warm up and felt better though it took me a while for my arms and upper body to really feel 100%. I took a couple of quick hits of water and tried to establish a good cadence out of town. Brad had given me some cues for the bike section so I tried to keep those in mind as I managed the race. A bit of where the hills were, how much to push over the goal power or when to hold back.

Werk it.

The first 8 miles was a bit of uphill and then rolling as we headed away from the beach. Some nice roads through sleepy towns in and out of hedges. However, at mile 10 at the bottom of a hill went to pedal and nothing. Chain had come off! Fuck! If this was going to happen all day it was going to be a long race…. I was furious. A quick stop and was sorted. However, in that 15-25 seconds I was stopped it seemed like hundreds of people passed me. Not what you want when you going for place not time in a race….. Luckily my luck held the rest of the race and no more drops. With every race I love my Dimond a bit more, I’m still getting used to the bike and being comfortable at speed but I’m smiling the entire time.

 

With about 30 minutes to go in the bike I’ve caught up/or caught (I cant recall which) Andy Greenleaf. I raced against him (which is to say he won) Exmoor last year. So I figured one of two things, either he was having a total shit day and I’m fucked or I’m having a good day and still very much in this. I don’t recall passing many people over the course of the bike but by the time I’m with him I realize theres not many other people around us (good). The sun is now out and its starting to warm up. I’m glad that I was prudent with my energy and hydration early on in the bike and have been taking a chew every 10-15 minutes and over the bike worked through just over two water bottles with my personal chemistry mixture of Nuun and Precision Hydration.

 

Pulling back into town I feel good. While my bike time isn’t going to set records I held good power and given the elevation gain turned in a good time. I felt ready to go for the run. Back into T2, bike on the rack and running to the bags feet were again pummeled by the gravel on the pavement…. brutal. Helmet off, shoes on and I’m off. The run course was a three or so lap course so I knew I had about one lap to gauge where I sat in the lineup.

Likely thought: ‘Why do I do this to myself?’

I quickly saw the pro’s and a few AG’s that I recognized but couldn’t put an exact  number on where I was. I knew to be a lock for the championships I needed to be 4th, 3rd would really seal the deal. After that I was betting on a roll down space which was a risk. I pushed hard the first lap, setting a good pace and trying to pick off some people while the course was still a bit open. By the time lap two started I had no idea who was in front or behind me and the course was getting busy. I kept the pace up, looking down at my watch trying to stay right around the 6:05-6:15/mile.

 

Kill me, just kill me now. (Also, the dude behind me looks fantastic.)

 

Turd dog.

By lap three the course was chock full, and having seen the turn off to the finish chute 3 times before I was desperate to get there. About halfway through my final lap I caught the lead female pro which I took as a hopeful sign of my own time. I kicked it up a final gear for the last half mile and put in a good surge to break free of anyone that might have been running just behind me. I’m not one to want to leave something to the last minute so always try and drop someone before we get to the finish as I know people always find some extra gas to sprint in. Its nice to end the argument before it begins.

Always look like a pro finishing. Pro photography credit to Carly.

Yeah, its that good.

A couple quick corners and I’m on the finish chute, line ahead, I over the line and check my time 4:31, a few minutes faster than my abysmal  Staffordshire time. I’m not feeling good about my chances at this point. However, a quick scan around and I catch that Harry Palmer in the finish area with me. We chat as we walk back to the post race area… he’s won his AG… so maybe I have a chance yet! We walk back to the food area and relax for a few minutes. We chat about the race and our season as we try and give our bodies a chance to catch up and our minds to come down from the race. Its nice to sit a talk to someone for a few minutes after the race, when racing its just your thoughts… planning, strategizing, reminding yourself to push. Its nice to just shut that part of the brain off (or let it rest) for a short bit and just shoot the shit without prerogative.

After a bit of time there I head out to find Carly, she and Bruno were excellent cheerleaders (as always) and bore great news, I had finished 3rd in my AG! This was awesome, though I knew the results weren’t final. Someone could still finish faster than I or even worse I could be DQ’ed for some reason. I got changed and we went to get some lunch as we waited for final results. We knew that to make the roll down we’d have to stick around so we relaxed and had a great lunch while we killed time. It appeared that my 3rd place held so I knew I accomplished my goal!!

I’m not ashamed at all.

nor of this…..

 

Awesome bike, awesome day.

A long…. long… award session later I finally claimed my WC token and we made our way back to London. It had been a long day but it was great to walk away from the race (and the season) with a solid final result. It was a tough race, made tougher by the panic during the swim and the dropped chain. While neither of these issues would have cost me the race (or them together) the mental impact of having to deal with those in a situation where one wants a positive outcome is tough. You have to remain checked in and focus on your goal. I knew that despite a few moments of less than ideal conditions would not offset the months of training and preparation I had put into the race. I moved beyond those quickly, focused on what I could control and continued to push. I’m glad I did and the reward I received.

A huge thanks goes out to Carly (and the turd dog) for being the best cheerleaders, sherpas, photographers and race day enthusiast a guy could ask for.  Bring on 2018!

 

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Strava Legs:

Swim: 32:41

Bike: 2:32:03

Run: 1:21:03

 

Cotswolds Classic Race Report

As per my usual schedule of posting these it takes right about till my next race to get around to putting this together. This race was basically a repeat of the earlier June Cotswolds 113 and I was looking forward to racing someplace for a second time. So much of racing is about controlling nerves and being able to be (or feel as though you are) in control. Knowing where the race site is, where you’re staying, the route from the hotel to the course on race morning. All those little things play into being able to focus on your race and not the ‘extra’ stuff. Also, after a less then stellar showing at Staffordshire I was looking for a bit of a mental boost and training confirmation. I had just recently started working with Brad Williams of KIS coaching so not much had really changed just yet from a training perspective but he did give me some direction for how to manage the bike which ultimately helped my race a lot. I’ll do a bit more of a picture based recap for this one as we’ve got some good material thanks to the on site crew and sherpa/cheerleader/photographer extraordinaire Carly.

 

Great day for racing.

 

 

And we’re off!!

 

Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while…

The swim here actually was a bit slower than my swim earlier in the year though I came out of the water in the top 10 (for the first wave) so I knew that while I hadn’t swam a PR I was well positioned in terms of the the overall race. My swim needs major work and its definitely my weakest area in terms of training. I’m also still struggling with my wetsuit and frustrated that generally all my ‘fast’ swim times are in a ‘slower’ sleeveless suit.

 

Fastest transitions in the west.

This wasn’t a race to try things out so quick transitions today helped me move up a couple places out of the water.

 

Bruno was less than impressed.

 

 

 

Heading out on the Bike.

Brad told me to take it easy for the first 20 minutes or so of the bike, get settled, get focused on the task at hand and work into the ride, don’t go balls to the wall out of the gate and that discipline really helped down the road.

 

 

I managed the bike really well and after 20 minutes of around 220 watts I started to bring it up to my race effort and then try and hold/better that for the second lap. The first lap was largely open and really able to push without too much concern for drivers or other racers. But by the time the second lap, and the last part of the lap for sure the course was jammed. I came in with a number of riders that were stuck behind some slow moving traffic for the last mile or two, was a nice little spin down on the legs but definitely bunched us up a bit coming into T2.

 

 

After coming into T2 with a few other guys I had another good transition  and was third out on to the run course. Second was just a short bit a head of me and first somewhere off in the distance. The second place guy immediately took off and I knew that either i’d never see him again or he’d blow up soon. I caught him in about 3 miles and caught first place shortly after that.

 

Once I had the lead I really tried to hold my pace as the course was getting pretty full by lap 2 and 3. I knew I had pretty easily passed those two guys but didn’t have a great idea of who might be breathing down my neck. My legs were feeling good and kept telling myself to push and hold the pace. For the first lap or so I did a bit of self pacing as well as playing some mental games of picking people off to try and keep my pace up. Its hard when your in a race but there is no one around to inspire you, so you’ll get a glimpse of someone around a bend or a few seconds ahead. Its nice to work for a bit, pick them off, push past and then play the game again with the next racer.

Funny enough while I was out on the race course I got a shout out from someone who follows my blog (I’m honored as I honestly thought it was mainly my mom who read this). It was a nice moral booster on the run!!!

 

 

When I got to around 400m left on the 3rd lap I knew I could at least be the first across the line and maybe an overall win so I dug deep and pushed across the line.

 

 

 

About 2 minutes after I crossed the line another competitor crossed, who as it turned out had started in the wave behind me (so 10 minutes). He finished well in front of me with a 4:00 dead. Well done… and I get to race him again at Weymouth. Yay….

 

The dog was very happy the race was over….

I finished with a 4:08, which is a huge PR for me. I believe the course is a bit short so its hard to count as a true PR but as comparison to my earlier race in 4:21 this is a vast improvement. Playing it smart on the bike allowed me to be both faster then as well as give my legs and body the ability to churn on the run and I ran a personal best (in a triathlon) of 1:20 for the half, which is quite close to my overall half PR. All in all this was a really great race and I’m pleased with my effort and results. I’m looking forward to Weymouth next week and closing out my season with (hopefully) a solid performance there!

And the finish line video: http://dbmaxresults.co.uk/MyResults.aspx?CId=16421&RId=2187&EId=1&AId=220976&YT=1

 

 

 

 

Staffordshire 70.3 Race Report

This report has been a looooonnnnggggg time in the works and I apologize for not getting it out sooner. I realized that with my upcoming race  that it would just start to stack up.  I know there is a limited audience for this page but its helpful for me to get my thoughts about a race out for me to see. Writing it all down lets me dissect a bit and helps me plan for future races.
Overall I felt much more ‘prepared’ for this race logistically than I did with Cotswolds so I was a bit more level headed on Friday evening / Sat morning. I had done a lot more planning in terms of hotel, picking up passes, general race location, etc etc. Its always nice to have a solid plan set up for a new race, even if the plan is changed or altered you have an overall concept of what you should be doing and when and it just makes the whole weekend seem much more casual.
Staffordshire was a split transition race, so T1 and T2 are in totally different locations, this was the first time I’ve ever done a race like this, which caused some concern.  But generally my transition setup is minimal and with Ironman races moving towards a ‘clean’ transition the setup becomes much more just shoving some shoes in a bag.  The larger concern was just going to be getting around to set everything up and fit in the race briefing, swim and dropping off bikes and bags.
Carly and I had an early start to get to the race site and pick up packet. while there I was able to check in and drop my T2 bag quickly and easily. . We tried to hustle down to the water start (T1) in time for the Saturday swim session but between a long walk with the bike and stopping to help a cyclist that ate shit right near the transition I just missed the cutoff time to get into the water so I did a very short run instead. It was slightly frustrating but in the scheme of things really wasn’t a big deal.  After making sure my T1 bag and bike were all set for the next morning we drove the bike course and had some lunch along the way.
The countryside the race went through was, typical to English countryside, gorgeous, with lots of rolling hills and long vistas. The roads seemed to be fine quality and we made it back over to the race site for for the final briefing. I never feel like I get anything out of them (and they seem to get more and more commercialised each race). I’m such a Boyscout that I’d never dare miss one on the chance its the one briefing where they say something new or specific about the race. 99% of the briefing are rules anyone should know (first time or not) and general common sense stuff. I always just feel like its a complete waste of time which makes me less inclined to want to go to the next one…. but I always do… such a sucker.
We stayed at a Holiday Inn a short distance away which wasn’t amazing but got the job done. After a totally forgettable dinner and making sure I was all set for the next day with water, fuel and gear I was in bed by 9:30 for a 5:00 wake-up.
Up at 4:30… just cause… we got down to the start and set up the bike, everything good and ready to rock and roll. We took advantage of a secret parking spot (thanks to B.W.) and we were able to avoid a lot of the hassle of the bussing from main parking fields to transition. I felt much more rested and generally better than for the race the previous week and was excited to put down a good time. However, I knew the day was going to be hot and I knew it would be tough out there towards the end of the run. I felt I had been hydrating and fueling pretty well up to the race with those sorts of days you just never know.

I guess this is fun…..

After a ‘shake off the nerves run’ I dawned my wet suit and my wave was off off about 15 min after the pro’s. I self seeded about halfway between the 30:00 and 25:00, which based on last weeks race and feeling better I was confident I could do. I was a little nervous about using my sleeved wetsuit versus sleeveless given I’ve not always swam well with it but knew it ‘should’ be faster so wanted to give myself every advantage possible.
As soon as I entered the water I knew I was in trouble. I simply couldn’t get anything going, arms were slow and felt heavy. I seemed to be short of breath and could never get into a rhythm of any kind. Generally I’ve found that after a short bit I’ll find some cadence and drop into a good clip and hang with a group. I’ll never profess to be the fastest swimmer in a race but I feel (or at least felt) like I could hold my own and put down a respectable effort. This race was different, I just felt completely overwhelmed and outgunned and no matter how hard I tried (mentally or physically) to shake that the pace remained stagnant.  I resigned myself to ‘just get through the swim’ very early.
Mercifully, the swim eventually did end and as soon as I was out of the water I tried to mentally reset and convince myself that this was now my race. I own the bike and the run and could easily reclaim the time and spots I had lost.

Fuck….

Maybe if I close my eyes and wish really really hard Ill be fast.

Into T1 I was 27th in my AG and 156 Overall.
As soon as I was on dry land I began moving fast, into the tent, wetsuit off, helmet on,  grab the bike and gone, probably passed 10-15 guys. A good start…

Time to get to work. Photo credit to Carly.

Having driven the course the day before I had a fair idea of what to expect and the first part of the course was technical but I kept it together (and out of the hedges), bike handling on the race bike is still a learning curve given how much I ride indoors. After the first 8-9 miles course opened up and was much more open slow rollers. I kept my eye on my computer and tried to push the pace and get the watts up. While incredibly efficient with time while training the drawback of only riding indoors is that on race day my relationship with power is completely new. I don’t have a great concept of where I should be for power outdoors when 100% of my training is indoors. Out in the real world on a real course the demands of riding and racing changes the game. But regardless I kept pushing and was delivering a pretty solid effort.

Watts up.

I seemed to be passing people and my time , despite the rising temperature was holding strong. While could tell about halfway through the ride that my goal time for the day likely wouldn’t happen I knew I could turn in a good effort if I kept my head in the game. Being able to reevaluate the race and adjust expectations (and be ok with that) is something I’m working on. I go into a race with a very specific goal, often a reach and I need to be able to adjust that, and be happy with my performance rather than shut down. Days like Staffordshire, when riding a new course on a hot day PR’s are very hard to come by. I hydrated decently though probably didn’t fuel as well as I should (way to much stuff left in my  bento box post race) which I started to pay for on the run.
About 5 miles to go on the bike during a downhill I dropped my chain, and probably lost 30 seconds and 3-5 places putting it back on. I hammered the those last few miles, getting a couple cheers from the guys I passed (who had just passed me). While the result of something bad it was nice to push it in those last few miles.

Coming in hot! Photo credit to Carly.

Into T2 I was 11th in my AG and 46th Overall
Off the bike in T2, not overly thrilled with my bike time but knew I passed more guys than passed me and my time was pretty solid. I figured I was out of the top 3 spots which was confirmed when I saw the number of bikes in transition, but I knew I still had a good chance of making up time and places with a solid run.
Once I was off the bike and running I immediately knew it was going to be rough, the air was still and i could tell the temperature was rising fast. There were some shaded spots on the course but generally it was exposed and with the temperature approaching 90 (while not hot as such, for the UK this is a solid 15-20 degrees above what I’m now ‘used’ to) I took a page from Boston and immediately started with dumping water on me at every station. I would also have a water/Gatorade and once in a while a gel to try and keep my energy up. I could feel the energy surge a bit after those stops but between the heat, and decreasing energy and legs just didn’t want to get going. I was only passed twice (but only after I started the 2nd lap so I honestly don’t know if they were really passes or someone coming off a bike fresher than I felt on lap 2/3). Otherwise I worked past people (despite feeling like ass) throughout the run. The last lap I tried to put a good face on but I knew I was 15-20 min outside where I wanted to finish so was very much just a get it done type mentality.

You always push through the line.

 

That moment when you are finally done.

Ultimately finished alone (thank god, no one to make a sprint to the finish with…) at 4:37. Not a bad time and certainly not one for the day or course, but unfortunately not close to where I had wanted to be when I signed up for this race.
Finished 10th in AG and 36th Overall. Time of 4:37

Obligatory finish shot. Not sure about that name though….

After the race I found some shade and hung out with a US pro, Brad Williams (who is now my coach) and we shot the breeze about the race and living in the UK. The day, in retrospect was amazing, a true hot summers day and the race was exceptionally well done. I was glad to have gotten the race in as I’ve heard they may have changed the venue/course moving forward. I’ve so far discovered that there are no ‘easy’ days or courses here in the UK, the times must truly be earned. I’m happy with the effort I put forth, the lessons I learned from the on the course and the time spent exploring the countryside with Carly.
Oh… speaking of which… Carly drove a stick, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. It was a bit terrifying but she was a pro!!!

Cotswold Classic Bike Prep Video

Decided to take advantage of the lazy Sunday and make a little video of me putting my bike back together for next weekends race.

Enjoy!!!

 

Boston Marathon Race ‘Report’

In the late 70’s and early 80’s my Dad worked as a photographer for Runner magazine and covered the Boston Marathon, even grabbing a cover one year as Bill Rodgers broke the tape (same era as Roise Ruiz). When I started running in high school my dad would joke that I should run the marathon on the 25th anniversary of the occasion and he could get another cover (had the magazine still been in business). I was a fast enough runner in high school but never gave much thought to running a marathon, the distances I was running in high school all seemed far enough. I couldn’t imagine quadrupling (or more) that effort. However, that thought always lingered in the back of my mind.

 

A much faster Ro-d-gers

 

Fast-forward many, many, years. My wife and I live in Boston and in the aftermath of the 2013 bombing my wife wanted to give back to the community and assist those that had been directly impacted by the event. She joined the One Fund team and raising thousands of dollars and completing her first marathon. I spent a lot of that day riding the course and cheering her on as she made her way into Boston and down Boylston Street. While the bug to run had not bit me it had certainly grabbed her and shortly after the race began talking about which marathon would be her next.

 

As she got more involved in running I slowly became more involved in triathlons. The hobby grew from a couple races a season to six or seven over the summer of 2015. That summer was by far the busiest summer with me also undertaking my first 70.3 race at Timberman. My wife had decided to run Marine Corps and we had some friends who lived in DC so on a whim I decided to round out my season with the marathon. I hadn’t included the marathon while training that summer at all, so once my last triathlon was over I increased the mileage as much as reasonably possible and it was a ‘hope for the best’ type situation. I knew I wasn’t in ‘marathon’ shape but I also assumed that I most likely never would just train specifically for that type of race.

 

Ultimately, despite my wife and I starting the race drastically late and working our way through the entire crowd she PR’ed by nearly fifteen minutes and I ran a 2:54 to qualify for Boston. I had honestly never thought I’d run a marathon, much less qualify for the Boston…

 

Fast forward another year, we’ve now living in London. I had qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Australia at Timberman and so we’re in Sydney on vacation after my race. The signup for Boston happens to be during the vacation so one night I have to stay up till midnight to make the East cost time slot to signup. It seemed a bit crazy person to be committing myself to the race but, I figured, it is logistically and easy trip with family there, will be good to get home and I might never have that chance again. After a couple days I received my confirmation, I was in!

 

So, ran the qualifying race in 2015, entered in 2016 and now running in 2017… that’s a long lead time for a race…

 

So lets get to the important bits…

 

Before the race I had a good chat with Tommy, my coach at Ignition Fitness. We talked at length about my race prep and my state of mind. I think I mainly terrified him that I was in total mental free fall regarding the race and probably had money on me dropping by mile 13. While I know I had done the work and can prepare technically for a race, my mental preparation for racing is really weak… Its weak in that I also don’t race for any typical sense of enjoyment. I race for the competition, that is what I find enjoyable and so a race like Boston, where I know I’m not going to be gunning for first is hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s a race that is just for me, the hardest kind. Regardless, I cannot thank Tommy enough for getting me ready to run, his plan, and willingness to modify around my crazy work and life schedule made this race a possibility.

 

The race:

 

Waking up at 5:15 was easy given the time change in my favor from London and race day anticipation. I had an English muffin with peanut butter and stashed another in my start area bag along with a few other snacks. The walk over to the Common was quiet with only few cars on the streets. The closer I got to downtown crossing the more other runners I saw on their way in as well. I made my way to the busses and quickly loaded. I ended up sitting next to a gentleman from Switzerland who currently lives in St. Louis. He had a lot more marathon experience than me and we chatted a bit about living abroad, and what brought us to Boston, which made the forty-five minute trip out to Hopkinton a bit easier. Once at the high school we went our separate ways and I carved out a little space under one of the tents. A fellow runner (who had obviously run Boston before) offered me a spot on his tarp, which I gladly accepted. It made the hour and a half that much better. I passed the time by staying hydrated, frequent bathroom visits and people watching under the tent. A mix of first time marathoners, seasoned veterans and everyone in between, each had their own routine, which, as someone who really doesn’t have a routine, is fun and educational to see how others psyche themselves up for a race like this.

 

Soon enough they started calling out for people to move to corrals. I made my way out, dropping off my second hand jacket and remainder of my uneaten food. I hung on to the water and made a last minute bathroom break just before getting to the corrals. Once there the reality of the whole thing started to settle in, I was on the course, could see people lining up, stretching, and warming up. It wasn’t just a bunch of people hanging out in a field any more. I jogged around for a few minutes, mainly to try and shed some nerves and then stretched in the common. For me, I stretch more because its what people do than I feel my body getting any real benefit… but it helps to fill the time.

 

Entered the corral and made my way to about the middle of the zone. I knew my number seeded me towards the front of the corral but not having a great idea of how it all started I didn’t want to get caught up in any fast start or sprint down the hill. I heard the cheer of the crowd as the elites were brought out to the starting line. The anthem was sung and flyover perfectly timed, this was happening.

 

Some words were said and then the gun went of…. Everyone took the step forward.. then two… then a bit of walking… then jogging…. And within thirty seconds I was over the line and heading to Boston. I knew Carly’s dad worked the starting area and had video of Carly starting from just past start. As the crowd dove down from Hopkington I picked him out of the crowd and yelled as the pack flooded by.

 

I had broken the race into three sections, mainly based off of geography but ultimately also aligned quite nicely with the race

 

Once started my main goal was to keep my cool and not wreck the race in the first few miles. While a couple of friends that had run before noted that the first few miles were an easy place to bank some time for tougher sections towards the end I knew that with the weather and my general lack of marathon experience I could easily go out to fast and pay a big price later. Keeping a reasonable pace wasn’t as easy as I otherwise imagined. On one hand I was stuck in a crowd of people, that, for the most part had qualified with times I hoped to better by about 5-10 minutes, on the other however all these people had just started Boston, so it was general chaos. So I found myself alternating from easily passing a group of runners to backing off and using the same groups to slow my pace down at times. It took nearly three to four miles before the pack really ‘thinned’ and I was able to concentrate more on running a race than trying to pick my way through a crowd.

 

Other than managing my pace my main goal was hydration. I really wanted to not have dehydration be a reason I didn’t feel I was successful and having managed my water intake pretty well over the previous two to three days didn’t want to just let it all go during the race. I started by taking Gatorade at every stop for the first four miles, I’d also, if manageable, grab a glass of water and dump over me to keep me cool. Even though it was only 10am I could feel myself getting warm quickly.

 

So when I had dinner with my dad and stepmother the day before we had outlined a rough idea of where they might go and see me on the course. The loose plan had been to watching me run through Framingham and then they’d jump on the train and head into the city to see me finish/after the race. Though this plan was made without any concept of what the actual race day conditions along the course but formed the first major marker for me in the race. From Hopkington in the entire course is lined with people and once you get into a town the crowds are four people deep. The experience is undeniably cool, kids sticking their hands out for high-fives the entire time, its impossible not quicken your pace as you high five a crowd of strangers. That said, as I cruised through Framingham and hadn’t seen/heard my family and I was a little bummed. While I rationalized there was no way could have ever picked them out of the crowd, I hoped they saw me and got a few pictures… I’d see them once I got to Boston. By the time had I fully put seeing them out of my mind I was seven to eight miles from the start and I was able to run my own race.

 

All of the sudden I pick ‘Taylor!!! Taylor!!!” out of the crowd noise to my right. I’d been running along the left side of the road and glance over to my right and see my step mom halfway out in the road and my dad furiously shooting away. I smile and do my best ‘‘I’m feeling good, but fuck this is hard and I have a long way to go’’ smile and cheer back.

 

 

I don’t really know whats yet to come… Photo credit to Dad.

It had been good to see them, it was a nice boost to the mental state of things when it had started to quiet down. Its easy to loose your spark in the middle of a race, where it’s a personal competition and you wont get that big check at the end of the day. You’re racing for something inside and it can be hard to keep your head in that ‘Lets do this’ mindset. So as silly as it was the cheer really did help. Shortly after I saw my parents I overheard two runners chatting about their goal time for the day, a both around 2:45. So I started chatting with them and we all ran together for a number of miles. One was an architect in Cambridge and knew of the Colby college project I was working on so we had something to pass the time for a couple miles. Being able to clock off a couple of solid miles at pace loosing myself a bit in conversation was good and again, saved me mentally. Keeping me from running alone with my thoughts.

 

However, over the course of a couple of water stops (so a couple of miles) I started to creep away from them. I cruised through the half marathon in about 1:22. Pretty much dead on for my 2:45 and still very much in the realm of a 2:40. I was pleased with how I was managing the race both with pacing and hydration. I may have actually even been over doing it a bit. As we rolled into the Newton hills my stomach started to give me a bit of a ‘hey hey’. I could tell that the Gatorade at every mile was starting to be a bit overkill digestively. I switched to water only for the remainder of the race and my stomach slowly got better.

 

Everyone always talks about heartbreak hill when they talk about Boston, but again, a couple of friends that had run before warned me that the earlier hills are actually the ones to watch out for. You’ve game planned for heartbreak, it’s the others you run through without consideration that will eventually come back to haunt you they warned. So when the hills started around 16/17 I was careful to pull back, ever so slightly, and keep the heart rate down. I still found myself passing people who had overcooked the first part of the race and had started to pay which was mentally encouraging. However, I had to be careful to not let myself go on the downhills. I didn’t want to destroy my knees slamming down hill after hill for a few cheap seconds. But I also knew that holding myself back would have the same effect on my muscles. So a delicate balance of easing up the hill, cresting strong, and then easing into a bit of a downhill push played out from mile 17 through to Boston College.

Cresting Heartbreak Hill.

BC was my last milestone. I felt confident that once I had made it to the college I’d finish the race. Yes, even though, knock on wood, I’ve never DNF’ed a race I still approach every race with that possibility from both a training and from a logistics standpoint (so far so good). So once I passed BC I knew I could finish, I might still blow up, but I knew I could get myself there. That said though this is where the race really became tough for me.

 

While the crowd only grew in size as you get closer and closer to Boylston you’re still 4-5 miles out and you’ve got a long way to run. There aren’t many ‘oh cool’, landmarks and I knew I wouldn’t see any family along this part. So if anything, this, three miles from the finish, is the doldrums of the Boston Marathon (for me).

 

I also became aware that my stretch goal of 2:40 wasn’t going to happen and my goal of 2:45 was also slipping from my grasp. Slowly the heat, inexperience and exhaustion were taking their toll. I could feel my form slipping, my head tilting to the side, my foot striking in the wrong place, stride becoming more and more condensed. I kept mentally plugging myself back in and trying to regroup, but it just becomes difficult time and time again. However, the upshot was that I was getting closer and closer. I eventually saw the Kenmore sign and I was instantly elated. I now felt I was in Boston proper and running on roads I’d run hundreds of times before. I slowly felt the energy reserves release into my legs and I started to pick up the pace. At this point I was still easily passing people who were wilting under the warmer temperatures, I while I was feeling it too I dug deep and pushed on. Through Kenmore with the crowd getting me going and turned down Comm Ave and through the underpass. The last hill I thought to myself and quickened my pace up the short hill and up onto the street.

Cruising through Kenmore. Photo credit to Molly.

By now I could taste it, I knew, somewhere, just in front of me the finish loomed. I spotted people taking the right onto Hereford street. I started to surge, I knew I was no further than two or three minutes from the finish line. I started to drive harder and took the hard right on to Herford and saw Boylston just ahead, pushing hard I tried to keep my turnover up and ignore my tired legs. Little did I know that right then I cruised by Carly and the rest of my family who had found a primo spot on Hereford. Huge cut-out heads and all they screamed (I found this all out later) as I pushed towards the finish… At this point all I was aware of was the general noise of the crowd and my desire to get across that finish line as quickly as possible.

Trying to maintain form, slight head tilt.

 

Taking the hard left onto Boylston I saw it, just a few hundred meters away, the finish loomed large. Boylston seemed strangely wide with only a few runners down its length. The crowds on either side shouted encouragement and felt strong I pushed hard with a solid effort in the final meters to cross the line.

It’s getting hot out there.

And then, just like that, it’s over, you suddenly become acutely aware of the throbbing knee, the right foot that must be one big blister and the general exhaustion. I walked on, towards the aid tents and volunteers who handed out the medals, water and copious ‘Congratulations’. I slowly made my way away from the start to the location Carly and I had picked out to meet near the Hancock Tower. I had my picture taken a few times and not till a few minutes later did I even realize I still had the tape over my nipples, it had worked like a charm! I found a small spot on the curb and laid down to wait for my family. I had no idea how long they’d be (or where they were) so I just zoned out and blankly stared at other runners meeting their families after the race. I had done it, the race that decades ago was nothing more than a joke finally materialized. In the end I ran a 2:48, a solid time that, for both my first Boston and second marathon I’m incredibly happy with. Could I run faster? Perhaps, but today, that was the time my body could muster and that was enough for me.

 

 

Pushing down Hereford. Photo credit to Carly.

 

I was happy and ready for some BBQ. A huge thanks to my entire family who showed up and supported me on Race day and of course a very special thanks to Carly who gets me through every race.

 

The Fam. Photo credit to Laura.

 

And the best cheerleader!

Short Video of me going down Hereford:

IMG_8047

2016 Year in Review

This year was chock full! After years of talking about how great it would be to live abroad Carly and I finally bit the bullet and took advantage of an opportunity and moved to London. This, coupled with a new job, new bike, and a focus on the 70.3 WC’s in Australia made 2016 a very complicated year! I’d like to keep this space a bit more focused on the triathlon side of things so I’m going to gloss over the aspects of the move that don’t specifically relate to triathlon (or training).

Oh God!

 

Writing a year review in January is a bit odd when you sit down and start to think about it. The ‘end’ of season really seems to be moment you cross the line on that last race and the start of a couple weeks (or months) off.  Waiting till January is really is an odd time to reflect as one has most likely already moved on (at least mentally) to the upcoming season and the training which has already started for some of those events. I know that I’ve been already planning for and getting into training for races months away so with that said, let’s get into it…

One of the things I’ve prided myself on as I’ve gotten further and further into the sport is keeping my financial investment limited and making smart purchases where (and when) it mattered. Everything, wetsuit, tri suit, bike, helmets and even shoes was analyzed (however briefly) for cost to time gained. I was riding a second hand Felt B16 with a rear wheel cover which I was getting some great times on in anything from sprints to 70.3 races. But at nearly four years old and two years of solid training and racing under my belt I felt like I needed (ok, wanted) an upgrade. I began considering my options towards the end of the fall/early winter of 2015 and had narrowed my search down to a BMC TM02 or Dimond. Both of these bikes are incredibly fast and would provide me with a great tool with which to train and race. I began pricing out each bike and while the BMC had a distinct price advantage which appealed to my sensibilities the Dimond had an ‘it’ factor which no other bike can touch. After a successful Timberman and qualifying for the 70.3 WC’s I had already formed the idea that I may not being doing any more ITU races (similar to the race in Chicago) and wanting something that was just different I elected to go with the Dimond. Brad (and the entire team at Ruster Sports) guided me throughout the process and I pulled the trigger on a race build with custom Virginia Tech inspired paint. Ashlee at AMI graphics printed me up some vinyl graphics for my wheels which were expertly installed by Chris. It was in the middle of this process that the move to London became a reality so knowing I was making one of the biggest purchases of my life on a bike with my racing future a bit unknown was slightly terrifying. The whole process ended up taking around ten weeks and I received the bike just before we moved. As soon as I received the bike I dropped it off at Fast Splits and had Brian finish the assembly and do a final fitting. The bike was promptly repacked (along with my other bikes) for its trip across the pond….

Our move date of March ended up being pretty well orchestrated from a training perspective. For the months/weeks leading up to the move Tommy pushed the training volume up more than he would have otherwise at this point in the season knowing that I’d basically have 2-3 weeks of off/down time once I left Boston and got situated in London. This plan worked really well and the last few weeks before the move I pushed some major volume with a nice couple weeks of ‘rest’ once we arrived in London.

Bruno didn’t like the plane…

When we moved we came over with three bags each (basically all clothes) and no place to live. So our our first priority was to find a place to live and organize shipping the rest of our day to day over. We quickly found and moved into a place in Islington, which has been a great base for exploring the city. Once we had the address I arranged for our bikes, exercise gear, shoes and some other items that we just couldn’t fly with. I had originally been prepared to be without my bike for several weeks so when it turned out that I could get all the stuff delivered by air freight in a few days I immediately elected to use that service. Within four days of leaving Boston all the stuff arrived at our door (and was very quickly unpacked). While we were looking for a place and before my bike arrived I had been going for short runs here and there, hitting up the odd spin class (barf) and looking for a pool. Ultimately, I took about two and a half weeks off of structured training.

Once settled in Islington and had my trainer set up I was able to settle back into my normal weekly routine. The one remaining piece was a pool… this was a bit tricky. In Boston I had a pretty good deal with my local pool and I found that gym memberships in London are expensive (not a huge surprise). I looked into Virgin Active and a few other clubs but ultimately settled on a Better Gym membership. They have a pool only option which lets me use any pool within their network in London for £30 a month. I don’t get access to any weights but the pool is clean, generally open and convenient. I’d like (and may eventually get) a membership that offers use of the weights and other equipment but right now, just need a pool to swim some laps and this is more than sufficient.

 

Speaking of laps… my pool in Boston was 20 yards (not long) and my pool in Islington is 25 meters. While I love having a standard distance pool (no more crazy math aerobatics during workouts to move yards to meters based on a short pool) it did take some getting used to. I’ve found that the increased length gives me far more time to focus on my stroke and makes for a far more ‘normal’ exercise routine. The one drawback is that the pool is quite full in the mornings. People in London seem far more inclined to swim than in South Boston. With the added ‘crowd’ I’ve also found that the ‘fast’ lane is a bit subjective and I most likely burst a few ego’s when I show up to swim (and I’m not particularly fast!). It’s tough trying to complete a scripted workout with 3 or 4 other people in your lane all doing their own thing. Sometimes I just get frustrated or distracted and get off the workout but more often than not everything works out ok and I get the time and distance in.

With my ‘A’ race being the 70.3 WC’s in September I needed some small carrots to get me through the summer. I found two races which (on the face of it) seemed fun and could provide good opportunities to shake things out a bit. The first was Windsor Castle Olympic and the other Exmoor 70.3. Windsor seemed like an easy one to sign up for. Race around a castle? Sign me up! The town and venue was awesome and it was really great to get out of the city and ride the Dimond. Despite pouring raining the crowd (specifically Carly) was amazing and helped propel me to a decent finish. I was even able to (re)connect with Johnny who I raced in Chicago last year. It was good to catch up with him and one of his friends after the race and know I have some training partners in the area.

Exmoor, as the report details out, was a bit more of a disaster. While I still was able to race and finish the course was epic and it really bled me dry. The climbing on the bike, combined with the run was just brutal. It was easily one of the toughest races I’ve ever done and my body was beat for a while after that race. That said, it was a great excuse for Carly and I to get outside of the city and see a bit of the English Countryside. It was nice to cross off one of the hardest 70.3’s on the European circuit and I had a decent day on the course all things considered.

Those two races did serve as a couple of great milestones though and in retrospect definitely positively contributed to my racing development. The major takeaways from those two races were that, despite how shitty I felt in the pool during workouts I was able to put down very respectable swim times which was huge mentally. This year I am really struggling with the swim, or rather, seeing positive results during training and I was concerned my fitness there was really suffering. I don’t expect I’ll ever be the first person out of the water so my main goal is to keep as much contact as possible with the leaders. Both Windsor and Exmoor showed me that while I might not be putting great times down in the pool the fitness is there, I just need to keep struggling through it and keep being consistent with my effort.

The other obvious benefit was some solid racing on my new bike. Just with Boston I do all of my bike training indoors (around 170 hours last year) so any time spent on the bike outdoors is a treat. I do ride to work so I maintain my bike handling skills (mainly bus avoidance skill) on a daily basis but it is certainly not ‘training’ in any sense. But getting used to a brand new race bike during a race has certain complications. I’m still getting used to riding with a deep dish wheel and the impact that wind and road conditions play on handling. But after an olympic race in pouring rain and wind and a half ironman with near constant climbing or descending I started to get the hang of the bike and its idiosyncrasies. This coming year I’ll like to spend more time on the Dimond while training so I’m going to look into some rollers to help get used to my bike and its fit (as well as new smart trainer for my standard workouts). Oh, and maybe I’ll ride outside a few times as well…

When late August rolled around I was feeling ready and pumped to travel to Australia for the race (and subsequent vacation). It had been a long six months of new job, training, new city… everything so Carly and I desperately needed a few weeks of rest. Just had one long day to get through and I was there. You can find the full report here, but overall I’m very happy with how the day went. Could I have race a bit harder… perhaps… but ultimately that was the race I had and I’m happy for the experience. It was extremely satisfying to travel halfway around the world and not only finish but turn in a big PR. I’ll be back at the race again and will have another whack at the apple.

pushing hard in the outback

 

Oddly enough the aspect of the race that most frustrated me was the run. I’ve never really been too concerned with my run training (or racing) as it has always just come along naturally. I had started the run at a good pace but quickly fell off the pace and the second lap turned into a bit of a slog. This was the first race where I came away a bit frustrated with my performance. It was with that bitter taste in my mouth that two weeks into the vacation I signed up for the Boston Marathon. It was an odd experience… staying up till midnight in Sydney to make the 10am Boston entry time. It was a bit strange, to be excited about signing up for a marathon just a few short weeks after a half ironman where I hadn’t run well and knowing I had nearly seven months to consider and prepare for this one race. I entered with my time from Marine Corps, a 2:54 which was well under the 3:05 cutoff but could still not make the cut if enough other people with faster times entered. So there was a bit of anxiety over the next few days until the official acceptance letter arrived that I might not have made the cut.

After the race in Australia… more specifically after vacation, Tommy and I had a post race chat and he challenged me to find a half marathon to run with no preparation after i lamented my poor run. He wanted to see how I would race with a couple weeks off, see if I could run the time I had in my mind on ‘fresh’ legs. I found a race in Kingston-upon-Thames (West of Central London) and signed up on a whim. The race went pretty close to how one would imagine a race would go with three weeks sipping drinks on a beach and no training… around mile six the wheel came off and it was overall not a brilliant performance (report here).

After that race the rest of the fall was spent in light maintenance. Just enough to keep the fitness up and skills fresh before diving into the winter training block. It’s during that time that one’s mind starts to drift… to overthink past races, to dream about the next season’s races. Dream about what upgrades I’ll make the bike (sorry Carly)…

This past year I’ve raced far less than I thought I originally envisioned before moving and while understandable, the extended and heavy training load with infrequent racing made the year seem much, much longer with the rewards few and far between. I’m by no means suggesting that my season was not successful nor that I am beyond happy with my performances. I was able to PR by more than eleven minutes in Australia which is amazing and that’s before discounting the nearly seven minutes in extended transition time. The race while leaving me wanting did give a great reward for my hard work. I finished as the 3rd fastest American and have the desire to be faster, to push harder.

Don’t try and out kick me.

I’ve started to formulate my race 2017 race season and after Boston I have signed up for Staffordshire 70.3 in June. I’ve got a couple of other races, Olympic and 70.3’s on my mind around England and a few around Europe. In lieu of one larger trip Carly and I want to spread our vacation time with more long weekends exploring Europe and England, maybe we’ll even mix in a short vacation/race combo. We’ve also thought that the 70.3 in Dubai could be a great excuse to travel there. This will certainly make the summer more interesting for training and racing but it is important that we take advantage of our proximity to new opportunities.

I think that is what the most important take away from the past year has been, seizing new opportunities. We’ve certainly done that with our move here and our plan moving forward for how we want to spend our lives here in London. I need to start doing a bit more of that with my racing. I think, overall, I’ve been playing it safe, slowly getting into the sport, trying out different distances, playing it a little safer on race day. I want to be a bit riskier in my racing, pushing the envelope for a greater reward. Maybe I’ll have a couple races where I can’t finish or totally blow up because of a poor choice, but perhaps I’ll also find another gear deep down inside me and get a bit faster.

 

Cheers!

Its getting dark in here… off season in London.

Its been a number of months since my last race (and post) and it seemed to me that the best way to get back into the groove was to just start writing and come up with a bit of game plan for what I’d like to share over the (long) winter as a recuperate from the past season and prepare for the next.

Over the next weeks and months I’ll dive into how I approach each of the three main training disciplines. I’ll discuss a bit about the nitty gritty of managing the training load with a full time job, the development in my performances as well as some of the gear I use for each sport.I’ll also spend a bit of time going through how I ended up selecting and working with a coach as working with Tommy @ Ignition Fitness has really brought me a lot of success. The off season is filled with a lot of physical maintenance and I think that one thing I have been lacking over the past few seasons is really unpacking what has been working and what hasn’t been for me in training and racing.

I’ve got a tough run focused winter (Boston waits for no man) in front of me with Staffordshire 70.3 as an early season tri race as well. I’ve got big goals for the upcoming summer but first up , a brief history lesson. Stay tuned!

One race and I was hooked!

One race and I was hooked!

Royal Borough of Kingston Half Marathon

So I still owe a recap of our post World Champs Australia trip but before I spent some time on that effort I wanted to give a quick report on  half marathon I ran last weekend…

So upon returning to London I was finally able to connect with my coach and talk about the race and begin to formulate the plan for moving forward to Boston. As with anything, the more time your have to reflect often the more critical you become of yourself. So by the time I spoke to Tommy I was a bit tough on my performance at the race. This is of course a ridiculous thing to say as I raced well, PR’ed and overall had a good day. Regardless I always see room for improvement and was a bit critical of my run performance and the training leading up to it. It seems that no matter what the race is I run around 6:00 miles. I cant seem to get below that mark in races, doesn’t matter if an open 5k or a half marathon at the end of a half ironman. So Tommy challenged me to just find a half marathon and race. This would give us a good baseline for my run fitness moving forward over the next few months as well as see if I was being hampered by my own pace…

I was able to find a half marathon in Kingston Upon Thames, a small village/town to the southwest of London. It seemed like a low key race but had a good number of competitors so I figured there would still be some faster people that would show up and make a race of it. Getting out there on race day was an epic journey. I had to wake up at 5:15 to give myself enough time to walk the dog and get all my gear together. Once I was out of the house I had to make my way to the underground and then to the train station. It was just over an hour journey out there, however the train station in Kingston is undergoing work so I elected to use an adjacent station  and make the run from there to the race start my warm up.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare and did my normal pre-race routine and checked my bag. They called everyone to the line and I worked my way towards the front. This is always the most awkward part, trying to size up the other races and figure out how you think you compare. I want to put myself in the best position to run well but also don’t want to be the guy who gets passed by the entire field. I line up just off the line and decide to kinda see how it goes. I don’t know the course, or the other racers so I figure to just hang back a bit and see how it goes.

So the idea of this race, from my coach, was to just go out and run as hard as possible for as long as possible. If I ended up dying so be it. There wasn’t anything riding on the race, it was purely a ‘just see what happens’.

Horn sounds and where off… the first bit of the race was around the town square so priority was not wiping out on the wet pavers. After a couple of quick turns we’re off on the paved streets through the town. Remembering the charge of ‘go hard’ I pushed the pace and found myself running in second by about 50 meters pretty quickly. There was another one or two runners right behind me. We weaved our way around the town for a couple miles. Through mile three I was still running in second, about 100 meters off first with another guy running right with me as we clocked around 5:30 miles. At around the 3 mile mark I finally couldn’t hold second any longer and was pushed to 3rd. I kept mentally reminding myself to push the pace and stayed on the guy as long as I could but was slowly loosing contact with him.

At around the 6 mile mark we left the town and crossed the river onto the tow paths which follow the Thames river. These are gravel paths formerly used by oxen to move barges up the river. Now that the race was free of the town one could settle into a bit of a pace. But by now I was really starting to feel the early effort and I could hear another racer slowly gaining on me. Within a mile he had me and I could tell I was fading fast. I glanced at my watch, my average mile splits which had been 5:35 over the first few miles was now at 5:53 for seven miles. Things were going sideways fast….

As we crossed back over the river I was able to mentally excite myself up about no being on the ‘home stretch’. By now the race was back on paved roads and my feet were really starting to feel the pounding. Strangely this wasn’t an issue in the WC’s but I choose to use my Asics for this rather than my Sketchers. These shoes are much lighter than the sketchers and offer a bit less under foot in terms of cushion and I really shouldn’t race anything longer than a 10k in them.

At the ten mile mark I hear the familiar sound of another runner coming up from behind me, with nearly nothing left in the tank he easily makes his move and passes by me and I’m just thinking how much I want this race to be over as I sit in 5th place. The course entered the town via the river so you could see it from a ways down the course, tantalizingly close but as I didn’t know the course I could only assume it was a straight shot back to the finish. As the course re-entered Kingston there were a few supports on the side of the road and I could tell by how quiet it got after I passed that no one was near me. Not wanting to have someone come up on me quickly I started to push towards the finish with about a half of a mile to go. Once I realized that I was turning the final corner to the finish I made one final push and was across the line.

I knew I had been slowly loosing time but wasn’t sure what my final time was. It took me a minute to walk through the finish chute and pick up my shirt and medal and glance at my watch 1:19…. shit. Thats not at all what I wanted… but it also didn’t matter. I had hoped that I would be able to equal my PR of 1:17 or perhaps best that by a little. I mean, shoot I had run a 1:25 after all that other stuff just a few weeks ago… I chatted with the other competitors for a bit and stuck around for awards. Being a pretty low key race they didn’t go that deep and I actually didn’t even get an extra swag, which was totally fine. Tough when you finish 5th but 1-3 are all in your age group!!!!

I very slowly made my way back to the train station and back to Islington. On the train I was able to consider the race a bit more carefully. Again, I had to be happy with the fact that I took three weeks of no activity and then went out and ran a 1:19, no small feat! And the race did give a good benchmark of where I stand from a run perspective moving into the off season. I also realized that my legs are where I’m loosing the race, I seemingly have all the energy in the world, but my leg muscles are just dying further into the race, which gives some good direction on the type of workouts I need to do moving forward.

By the time I reached home my legs had already seized up and I could tell that I was going to be in for a long few days. But before I could get that far I climbed into bed and took a long nap…..

 

Not from Kingston.. but you get the idea. Photo credit: Mom.

Not from Kingston.. but you get the idea. Photo credit: Mom.

 

 

Race Report – 2016 70.3 World Championships

So a couple weeks in the making due to our post race vacation (will be a separate post on that later) but its given me a lot of time to reflect on my season goal. I’m going to talk about a lot here, I imagine some in great detail and other bits…. well not. So if you have any questions or for me to expand on anything please just let me know!

I’ve had really good luck racing when its involved travel (granted I’m no pro triathlete) but I’ve put some decent miles in traveling to races which certainly helped me prepare my methodology for packing my gear for the trip. I own a Ruster Hen house which has served me amazingly well and I’ve self reinforced (thanks to Ashlee at AMI) with some lexan. The bags neatly hold my race wheels, and bike (further protected by a carat case for the bike frame).

 

Everything most go.

Everything most go.

I was able to shove my shoes, wet suit, and other associated gear into the wheel bag and bike bag. My main concern was my helmet. my last helmet cracked during transport and I really didn’t want to have to search around for a replacement a few days before the race (though people have suffered worse fates). My idea… expanding foam packing!!! Shove the helmet into its original box with the expanding foam and viola! You’ve got a perfectly formed helmet case. I used some packing tape to hold it all together and shoved that sucker in the bike bag. The rest of our trip we packed light (carry on only… but more on that later).

 

Custom helmet for the helmet.

Custom helmet for the helmet.

 

The whole trip had been conceived before we knew we’d be in London so ironically there was a bank holiday the Monday before we left. The vacation was really well timed with my work as we had just issued a costing set for my project so there would be a relatively quiet couple weeks (or so we though). So it was just a bit of work Tuesday before heading back home and getting our bags. We took an Uber from our flat to Paddington and Heathrow Express to Heathrow. British Airways didn’t blink an eye at the bike bags and through security in a few minutes. All told, from our flat to gate in one hour twenty minutes, not bad. We parked at a bar for some drinks and last none plane food for a while…

The flight was thirteen hours to Singapore and then another eight to Brisbane.  Carly supplied sleeping pills and I barely remember anything of the first leg (thank god). We had a just over an hour in Singapore airport, enough time to do the airport walk and grab a cup of coffee. It was good to get off the plane for a bit and move around. The second leg I watched a few movies but again, slept a bit more (sans sleeping pills). We landed in Brisbane around 6am on Thursday having lost Wednesday in its entirety.

I had looked into the various ways one could get from Brisbane to the race venue at Mooloolaba (I didn’t start pronouncing it right till about two weeks after the race) but the best bet ended up being organizing a rental car. Having the car was most likely not the cheapest route but offered us a ton of flexibility to explore the areas around Mooloolaba and in getting/to from the airport with my bike at our leisure. When my bags rolled off the belt I breathed a sigh of relief, while we would have had time to sort something out not having to deal with lost luggage was a weight off my mind. We grabbed our car and started off on the hour plus drive north to the Sunshine coast.

 

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We rented a studio Airbnb to keep the costs for this part of the trip down which worked out amazingly. Location was great and had everything we needed. I immediately unpacked my bike to confirm it was still working and I was set to do some shake out rides (and race). We had been feeling great all day, with not a lick of jet lag. However, around 3:30 it hit, hard… we both happened to be laying down planning our next move and suddenly it was nine…. We had a dinner of some chips and just went to bed.

 

Unpacked in thirty minutes!

Unpacked in thirty minutes!

The next morning I did a short bike ride to check out the bike and participated in one of the open water swim times. The ocean had super high surf, and I was getting a little nervous but after about thirty minutes in the water it wasn’t terrible… no great… but I felt confident I wouldn’t die. I checked in and got my swag (super sweet bag which came in super useful for the remainder of the trip and we bounced around the area a bit. I’ll talk a bit more about the vacationy aspect in the other post…

It was good to have arrived with a couple full days before the race, not only to make sure my bike was there and in working order, but to confirm I had everything I needed and get checked in at a leisurely pace. I spent a lot of time rushing around Chicago last year for ITU worlds and really didn’t want to repeat that process. It was nice to make sure I had all my nutrition for the race as well as have a few good meals in me off the plane. I tried to meet up with a couple other Dimond owners who were racing but it never really worked out which is unfortunate but ultimately let me do my own thing.

Friday was a fartlek run and another open water swim. Just a bit of work to get the blood flowing and really wake up the legs. We had a decent amount of time to explore around afterwards. I did the run out on the run course which was pancake flat outside of one hill right outside of transition so it was nice to get a bit of time out on the course (and around the time i’d be racing) to get a feeling for the temperature it might be.

Saturday was a little race mini race in prep… short swim session, and a ride out on the race course (kinda). As a good portion of the race course is on a highway one was unable to ride before the race. But I was able to go out and ride out on the second lap area which was far more technical. After that brought my bike and gear bags down to the transition for check in. Similarly to Exmoor this race was run with a ‘clean’ transition, so all you gear is in a bag which you take and change from and put your other gear into. My bike position was great (in a sense of remembering where it was which made me feel a bit at ease. Nothing is worst than just wandering through transition looking for your bike on one of the thousands of racks. I had a prime spot on a one way with a nice view of the beach.

 

Follow the red road...

Follow the red road…

 

Racked!

Racked!

 

Glad I didn't have to navigate this!

Glad I didn’t have to navigate this!

 

After relaxing the remainder of the day we also did a drive of the bike course (seems like other also did this) as there were about twenty cars in a line following the same route… hilarious for the locals I’m sure. After a short Italian dinner in bed for the big day…

Between running a clean transition and generally I don’t take long to set up the race day preparations themselves were very minimal. Basically once into transition to confirm bike was still there and put my water bottles and such on, calibrated the power meter (always a chore with thousands of other ones around) and clip in the shoes. I started the bike with two full bottles of Nuun and a bento box full of Honey Stinger waffles and gels. Its an odd feeling walking away from your bike on race day. I’m constantly second guessing myself… did I put my shoes on? is the computer on? are the tires pumped up enough? are the pumped up too much? Its all nerves, I just have to reassure myself that every race I’ve done to date its all worked out. I’m enough of a boyscout to make sure everything is there and when I go back and check it just confirms my insanity.

Did the pre-race bathroom journey and was down to the beach to start. I still hadn’t connected with Carly and was getting a little nervous about getting all my gear away and race starting so I threw my stuff into the bag and stashed it at the drop point. I watched the pro’s go off (seemed like there was some confusion during that start which turned out to be accurate) but eventually my group was called into the corral. So there you are… for ten minutes just standing there… doing hokie swimming drills or trying to get your shit together. Luckily the surf had died dramatically and the water looked amazing. The pro men came back into the beach just before they called our wave out. We had about two minute to swim out the start line and before they actually started our race. Knowing that this was the race of the year for everyone on the line and knowing the swim could get a bit ugly I started towards the back of the group but on the inside of the course, a decision I’m happy with. As soon as the gun sounded it turned into a washing machine…. for the first five minutes I was either swimming over or being swum over by someone. That said, I gathered myself and struck off on a good pace and was quickly over taking people and settled into a good pace within the group.

The course was a ‘U” turned sideways to the beach and this was the first time I’ve perceived current while racing. The current didn’t seem severe, and didnt impact my race but you could definitely tell it was there and had to be mindful when setting your sighting line. Within short order I was turning towards the beach on the home stretch and trying to time my stroke with the incoming surf for a free ride. I swam pretty far into the beach, compared to others who I saw up and walking through the waste high surf. Once my hand hit sand I stood up and started to run tearing off goggles and swim cap and going for my wetsuit cord. One try… nothing… second try… nothing… fuck…. third… got it… but only half off, oh shit.. stairs!!! so now I’m taking my suit off my arms as I run up stairs…. super… No problem though, ultimately got the top part off and into transition and grabbed my bag. The rest of the suit came off quickly due to the excessive amount of body glide on my body. Helmet on, suit in bag, tossed into the bin and I’m gone. Side note, the transition here is long.. really long…. around seven minutes of my overall time is just transition time which would normally be 2-3 minutes.

You try undressing at full speed.

You try undressing at full speed.

Running down the red carpet to my bike, did I run to far? Nope… here it is, grabbed it… running again, up the little hill to the amount point and jump on. I’ve banded my shoes in place so with a few stroked they break and gone. A quick out and back which I use to strap my shoes on and then its up the hill and out of town. This is where its time to shine…

 

Final shoe adjustment.

Final shoe adjustment.

I exited the transition in the thick of the AG so there are fare amount of people out there equally excited to crank. The first third to half of the bike is on a highway which turned into a total draft fest. It was un avoidable… you’d come up to a slower moving pack, move to pass and get sucked into a pack. If you were honorable and backed off with everyone who passed you would have instantly been at the back of the race. So the entire bike leg is spent measuring the ethics trying not to disobey the rules but also trying to push your pace while navigating a course with hundreds of other people on it. I try and down one of the water bottles with nuun as quickly as possible and get a fresh bottle of water from the first aid station. Feels great to the the taste of the ocean out of my mouth (I didnt drink much sea water…) and get legs moving on the bike.

Just starting the ride.

Just starting the ride.

35-40k the highway ended and the course turned to the more technical bits in the countryside. By this point the course had thinned and one was able to ride ‘a bit’ better. But the technical sections also had the negative impact of bunching huge packs of riders together which you then had to work on passing. This section of the course had a 400m hill that had to be 20% grade… or something… it felt like hitting a fucking wall…. thankfully one only had to do that once but it definitely took a tool as a quick hitting sap of power. The entire time I’m watching my bike computer to make sure my power numbers are where they should to deliver a fast bike as well as leave something in the tank for the run. Throughout the bike I’m switching between the honey stinger waffles, a bit of gel and water taken from along the course. Towards the end of the ride I began to realize while my power numbers were spot on my bike time was going to be much slower than I wanted (but still good). Oh well… I’m still racing and no race penalties yet.

Pushing hard in the outback (kinda?)

Pushing hard in the outback (kinda?)

Cruising into town I begin to mentally prepare for the run, I knew that at the very least I would be able to finish the race so knowing I’d be a finisher lightened my spirits a bit. I undid my shoes and slipped my feet out leaving the shoes on the bike, as I jumped off my bike one of my shoes caught the ground and went flying…. where… no idea… fuck it… I’m gone. But as I ran down the path to re-rack my bike a terrible thought entered my head… would that count as littering? Littering is an automatic DQ and it was done right in front of marshalls… fuck… Oh well, we’ll just see how that goes.

I rack my bike and run off to the run gear. I throw on my shoes and I’m out on the course. I know I’m not toward the pointy end of the group by I try and push the pace a bit on the first lap of the two lap race. There is a great crowd out supporting the racers and racing in my USA suit with my name on it certainly helps!!! Out and up the hill I hear the crowd, and there’s Carly… telling me to get my ass in gear! The first lap went well, while I had slipped down to 6:20 miles I felt good about the overall pace and how it was all going. The second lap… was brutal… by now it had started to get warm out and my legs were slowing loosing their pep. I had stopped passing people quickly and it was becoming more of a slog.

 

Temperatures are starting to rise.

Temperatures are starting to rise.

A few faster runners had started to pass me and I knew I needed to pull it together for the finish. With about a mile to go I gave it my last push up and over the hill to the finish. There was a slight downhill and I opened up my stride to take advantage. I could see the chute and the finish, so close. I sprinted on to the red carpet which was maybe two racers wide and saw the finish around two hundred meters away. Running all out at this point I quickly caught an Australian who was milking the crowd as he finished. No time for that shit, thats another place!! He tried to put in a quick sprint to hold me off but my momentum carried me by easily. I crossed the line and collapsed.. seemingly full of energy but totally dead.

Don't try and out kick me.

Don’t try and out kick me.

 

I feel pretty much exactly how I look...

I feel pretty much exactly how I look…

I pulled myself together and congratulated a few of the finishers closest to me. I had done it… I traveled halfway around the world and finished… now just to see what my time was. 4:19. I’ll be honest, when I saw I was both happy and disappointed. I had wanted a much faster time for this race but this still represented a nearly nine minute PR (nearly fifteen if you discount the excessive transitions) which is a great time. Its hard to be disappointed with a  successful world championship race where you PR’d (and in each discipline).

After walking down to the beach I binged on ice cream and sandwiches before Carly arrived. She told me I had finished 48th in my AG and was tracking around 160th overall which included the pro’s…. thats not bad. I was also only the 3rd American in my AG. But after relaxing on the beach for a few we made the slow hobble back to our apartment for a shower and some lunch. Vacation had begun!!!

4:19 – about an 11 minute overal PR

Swim 28:16 (almost a minute PR)

Bike 2:18 ( nearly a 5 minute PR)

Run 1:25 (6 minute PR)

As always, Carly remains the best race cheerleader!

A few post race beers.

A few post race beers.

 

...as well as post race ice cream!

…as well as post race ice cream!

 

Exmoor 70.3 Race Report

Last weekend Carly and I drove out to Exmoor national park in Somerset which is about three to four hours west of London. We rented  a pretty terrible car, somewhere between a minivan and wagon, but it served us well in getting my bike, our bags and the Bruno dog around for the weekend. I woke up a bit early for a short swim as part of my pre-race routine at my local pool while Carly went for a short run. It didnt take long to pack up the car Saturday morning and we were off!

it was this or a Mercedes...

it was this or a Mercedes…

The drive out too Exmoor National park took us right by Stonehenge so we made sure to see the site. We discovered that that ‘entry’ is £18.50 and you cant even get right up to the stones. So we elected for a drive by instead which totally fit the bill….

this was as close as we got

this was as close as we got

We continued out to the race site at Wimbleball Lake. The area where the race was being held was picturesque english countryside. After a short ride on a bit of the course I checked in and dropped off my bike in transition. The race used a clean transition, something I’ve never before done so it was a bit interesting leaving my gear in bags and not having anything out at the bike. But given that I generally don’t have much in my transitions there wasn’t much to go into the bags. I had to think ahead a bit and threw in an extra bike jersey on the chance that it might be cold and I’d like the extra layer, luckily I didn’t need it.

While I was checking in and getting situated Carly took Bruno for a long walk around the race area. We met up after and continued another thirty minutes or so North to the seaside town of Minehead where we had booked a room for the evening. The town seemed to be a bit like any typical seaside town, little arcade area, nice downtown, etc etc. The town itself seemed really quiet for a mid-summer Saturday evening and we had dinner a typical little restaurant. Bruno was very skeptical of our situation (he doesn’t like traveling) and staying in the hotel room was really throwing him off but we all settled down and went to bed for our early morning.

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Minehead on a sleepy Saturday evening.

Sunday morning came far to quick, after quick change and downing some water and powerbar waffers we were off. The drive back over to the race site on english country roads at 5am was a bit interesting but we made it to the site with time to spare. Driving down english roads that early is an adventure, you get lulled into a “I’m the only one out here” and take up a bit more of the narrow road than you might have otherwise done until suddenly there’s a car coming around the corner at 40 mph and you’re darting towards a hedge to keep from having an accident, that will wake you up… That said, once we arrived we got a good parking spot and I was able to finalize my bike setup and get ready to race without much fuss or running about.

I need a lot of energy to get through a race, I consumed most of this during the but not all the Stinger bars.

I need a lot of energy to get through a race.

 

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these colors don’t run

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the long, lonely walk to the start line

The swim at this race was done as a rolling, self seeded start which means the organizers basically have one long carrel and note your perceived finish time along walk into the water. I knew I wanted to swim around the 30:00 and would comfortably be able to hit that mark so I made my way down and found myself very far towards the front of 1500 people… (after the face I found out that around 60% of the race is completed by first time racers).  I had been researching the water’s temperature over the past weeks and knew the water would be somewhere between 60-65. Not the coldest water I’ve ever swam in but not the warmest either. Carly had been great enough to get my full sleeved suit from home on her last visit and I had elected to use that over my short sleeved suit. I started just a bit behind the 30:00 sign, which was about 50-100 people back from the waters edge.

i'm in the crowd someplace under that sign..

i’m in the crowd someplace under that sign..

After a few minutes of anxious stretching the gun finally sounded and we were off. As soon as I dove into the  water I got a bit of water in my goggles. Not enough where I needed to stop/adjust but enough to be more than annoying. I ended up ignoring the issue and just plowed forward (lots of blinking). I’m sure the annoyance cost me some time but overall I swam a 29:44 which was about a minute faster than the 70.3 I completed last year, so not bad!

Run from swim to bike

Run from swim to bike

T1 was a long one…. the run up from the water to the transition tent was approximately 1/2 mile, uphill, on wet grass…. my time here was pretty fast overall and I made up a lot of places overall. Its always amazing to me how many people slog through these parts of the race. Transitions are such easy places to make (or loose) time. They’re easy to practice and plan for. That said, with the clean transition being used here, which was a first for me, it was a bit odd to run into the tent and jostle for position around bags while changing. But given that when I came in there were not many people coming out of the water it was still reasonably quiet. I can imagine that place turns into a zoo mid-way through the pack…  A short run with the bike later I was out on the course.

This is what I had to look forward too.

This is what I had to look forward too.

The bike is where this race gets interesting… Overall the course is a two lap beast with 1400m of climbing, it is not easy. I’m not sure where it ranks as “hardest” 70.3 races but with the elevation gain it has got to be up there… I had a pretty solid plan from my coach as to how to manage the race and felt prepared. The first 15-20 minutes of the race went fine. The roads were not easy (kinda a rough pavement) and all the turns and hills made it hard to get into any long term rhythm but overall I felt like I was settling in well. However, on a downhill my chain popped off and I lost a few seconds (and quite a few places) putting it back on. Knowing I hadn’t lost much time and the places would come back in a long race I didn’t let the stop ruin my day and got back into the zone and riding hard again. But about 20 min later on another huge downhill the same happened. Again, lost a few places and a bit of time (some of which I had made up since my last stop). I moved beyond it again, knowing that it hadn’t been long and I’d make the places/time back up over the rest of the race. The remainder of the first lap went without issue. That said, even though we had driven the course the day before being out there riding was completely different. The hills were just kept on coming and you never felt like you got enough downhill.

I do 99% of my bike training inside on a trainer as its just more efficient for me in the mornings and I can make better use of my limited training time. While I  do commute to work nothing compares to being in the saddle on the road for over two and a half hours. Having to adjust for the hills, getting up and out of the saddle.. back in… managing other racers.. is a large adjustment from my daily training regime. And having only raced once before this summer its a lot to handle and something I hadn’t really been used too but was also nice to know there were a lot of people out on the road looking out for us.

That said, as I started the second lap I felt like I was holding well, my average power was below what my coach had prescribed but I felt like I was walking a good line between decent pace, not killing myself on the hills and leaving a bit in the tank for the run. With about 10-15 miles left in the bike I had my final stop. This one was a bit different though. Having just passed someone up a bit of a hill I found myself needing to snot. As I checked to my rear to make sure I wasn’t just going to blow it all over him I drifted slightly left and my handle bars caught the hedgerow. I’ve never wrecked before on my bike in a race and I was surprised how fast it happened (looking at the data i was only going around 15 mph).  Looking back on my injuries and what happened to my bike it looks like I basically ninja rolled the bike in the air and landed on my right shoulder and back. There is a little scuff on my right bullhorn and rear derailleur but nothing major and within seconds I was up, saw my bike (and I) was in one piece and got back on and kept riding.

This, needless to say did take a bit of a mental toll on me. While I was physically no worse for wear (at least I thought so at the time) the three stops began to drag me down a bit. But luckily I know I had been riding a decent race and the run was nearly upon me so I was able to turn my focus to that aspect of the race. while I figured that I was somewhere in the 20-30th place (pure speculation based on a quick glance around the racks when I got back into transition) but I had no idea how far behind the leader I was.

end result

end result

In the second transition I accidentally started running the wrong way into the transition tent (as I gathered a bunch of other racers did as well) but didn’t really cost me any time and I was out on the run in no time.

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out on the to run, still feeling ok here.

The run was a three lap leg killer. I had jogged a bit of the course the day before and knew there was some good elevation gain over the course but didn’t know where all the hills were hidden on the course. The first lap wasn’t bad and I tried to attack the hills (up and down) as much as I could. However, just after the halfway point in the second lap I could tell me legs were starting to go and my mile splits were starting to dip above 7:00. I tried to keep my head in the game and kept telling myself not to give up places on the run.

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“get your head on straight” – my wife

They had a lot of aid stations out there and while it was far cooler than my last 70.3 race at Timberman I kept hydrating (switching between gatorade and water) and a couple gels for energy. By this point it was impossible to tell where I was overall in the race as more and more people started to pour onto the run from the bike. The run became very much a ‘me against the course ‘ situation which I dont always do well with. I really enjoy racing, knowing that someone is coming up, someone to catch… I thrive off the competition. My legs felt more and more like bricks and by the middle the last lap it was a real effort just to keep moving. By this point in the race I really didn’t want to have to sprint against someone at the finish so I was overjoyed when I made the turn for the finish versus another lap and no one split off with me (a split second of “I counted my laps correctly right?!?!”)

sweet jesus, its the finish!

sweet jesus, its the finish!

There was a great vibe in the finish chute and I was able to cross the line at just over 5:00 which is just over 30:00 slower than my first 70.3 at Timberman (ouch). I immediately got into the athlete tent and started eating as much as I could. I had two pulled pork sandwiches, cookies, swiss cakes rolls, fruit, water… if it was out I ate it. I felt like I had don’t a decent job of fueling for the race, but in retrospect I could/should have done a bit more early morning as well as during the bike. Not a lot more, but some more solid food would have made the day slightly better.

Carly and I hung out for a bit, I changed and collected my bike and we wandered down to the lake to relax. We grabbed a couple beers at a stand and hung out and watched the last of the racers make their way around the run course. The weather, which had been holding off, started to break into rain and so we went back to the race venue for results. I found that I had finished 7th in my AG and 21st Overall so wouldn’t get any swag and given I had already qualified for the WC’s we decided to hit the road. Looking at the results I was in a tough AG, top 1-3 overall were in my group and I would have had to do more than just a bit better to be in the mix with them. And I feel like I had a successful race given how difficult this course is.

couple of beers to wrap up the day

couple of beers to wrap up the day

Overall, looking at the race objectively it was a good day. My swim was faster than my last 70.3 by about a minute and given I’d not been having great swim workouts I’m very pleased with that. My run was also 3-4 minutes faster than my run at Timberman and given the punishing nature of this course is a good indicator of my overall fitness. While I would have wanted to do better on the bike and some easy minutes are prob found in the few stops my actually normalized power was 250 which was exactly where my coach wanted me to be. The race also served as another good time to just get out, race, get used to my bike a bit more, get my head into racing, and have that experience. The race was also in a great part of the country so the day (and weekend) was filled with very pretty scenery. A couple days on my shoulder is still bothering me a bit from the crash, but it seems to be slowly getting better with each day.

 

my race crew

my race crew

 

everyone had a rough weekend...

everyone had a rough weekend…

Cheers!

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