Rolling Starts are Fun! 70.3 Steelhead

In the 4 weeks between Racine and Steelhead I put in A LOT of work on the bike. The week before Steelhead was 15 hours of training so even with a week to recover I was still a bit worried my legs wouldn’t make the turn around and be ready. But no matter how my legs felt I was going to make sure I got everything out of them as I could!

Steelhead would be my first rolling swim start. Racine was going to be a rolling start but with the cancelled swim it became a TT start. I was really looking forward to the start because I wouldn’t have to wait around waiting for my wave to start and I was hoping that I could find some others to swim with since we are self seeded into groups based on time. Another plus is I thought I would be able to find a few other races to legally ride with which my coach and I thought would help a lot too.

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I seeded myself in the 27-30 minute group hoping to swim at the lower end of that time if all went well. I started with my teammate, and 70.3 World Champion and hopefully Kona champ!, Ryan Giuliano and we swam together for a bit but soon I lost him. The swim had some chop to it, although it was hard to figure out if there was a current or it was just chop. I was in a good rhythm and was passing a fair amount of people so I was thinking I might be swimming close to a 26 based on how many others I was passing. But come the final stretch to shore we would get some of the “waves” we were up against on the first section but I felt like we would also get pushed back a bit when the water returned from shore. According to my Garmin I was going steady at 1:19 min/100y the first two legs then 1:26 the last section. This might not be accurate since it isn’t great at getting satellites when in the water but the line seems pretty straight. Ended up swimming a 28:59 which was the top in my AG and 11th amateur. Swim data

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Ran through the long transition area to get to my bike and get ready to ride. My goal was to ride at the watts I knew I could hold but also to hop on the back of a group and push harder for a while if that meant getting in with a group. About 5 miles into the ride I got passed and tried to stay with that rider but after a bit he was gone. Then a little later Ryan passed me and yelled at me to get going. Well I tried but he was pushing way above what my legs wanted to give out at that time. Most of the ride was pretty lonely but for a good 10-15 mile stretch I was able to ride with a group of 4. I sat in the back for most of it so I could save some energy. The group broke up after a while and it was back to riding alone again. I kept looking at my watts, which were spot on, but looking at my speed and time and was getting a bit discouraged. I ended up riding a 2:17:42. I was pretty disappointed that day but after looking at all the results I realized that the times were that fast across the board so that made me feel better. I had the 3rd top split in my AG and came off the bike 10th amateur. Bike data

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Well now it was time for run. They say “bike for show, run for dough” and I think that sums up most of my races. Well except my bike splits usually aren’t that much “show”, they’re pretty much just go. The first few miles I passed a few guys on the road but had no clue where I was overall. I was hoping for a top 3 amateur finish in this race so I wanted to push it. I knew I was fighting for 3rd since the top two amateurs being World Champions so 3rd would have to be good enough on the day. I hit a rough patch about 5 miles in and a few miles were a struggle. This run course is very deceptive. Looking at the elevation it probably doesn’t look too bad but there is one hill out of transition then one hill we run twice during the loops. But there are also many tight turns, false flats, and not many straightaways to get in a groove. So I was getting discouraged by my splits and was thinking the worst about my placing.

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Looking at the tracker I made it to 3rd between mile 5-7.5 but I couldn’t tell that because I had no clue how many were in front after the bike and starting the second loop we get mixed up with those starting their first lap. So all I was doing every aid station was taking in cola and water and hoping it would keep me fueled until the finish. I got around to the split for the finish and the second lap and was VERY happy to head down hill to the finish. But for some reason the last 1.5 miles seemed like they took forever! I was crazy tired and ready to be done but the road just kept going and going and going. I got a lot of encouragement from the racers coming out on their first loop and that helped a lot. I finally got to the final turn and made a last-ditch effort to see if the legs had anything left in them. Ended with a 1:19:39 for 4th best split in my AG and 15th overall. Run data

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I crossed the finish line and saw Ryan and we started to chat and he said he thought I might be 3rd amateur but wasn’t sure. My wife found me and we checked and sure enough I was. I was happy but still pissed about my bike split and also annoyed because I wanted to break 4:10 and I was 4:10:29. My dad was racing his first 70.3 so I was wondering how he was doing. My mom and wife said he had a good swim and we were waiting for him to come in off the bike so I grabbed a beer and waited a bit to see him rack his bike. Pretty cool racing with my dad!

All in all the race went well. Ended up 2nd AG, 3rd amateur, and 20th overall. Now I have to hope my legs bounce back because I need them once more this season before they get a little rest. Chicago Triathlon in less than two weeks!

I know the end of these posts are repetitive but without these people and companies I would have a much harder time doing all of this! So thanks to my wife (and the baby in her belly), my parents, and my friends for giving my all the encouragement I could ever need. Thanks EGO, Sammys Bikes, SLF Motion, ICE Friction Chains, Greater Than Sports Drink, and my newly found recovery boots made by Air Relax.

Racine 70.3…I mean 69.1

I signed up for Racine at the start of the year because I knew this race would be a very competitive one. I wanted to really test myself with some of the best AG athletes around to see where I stood. Things did not all go to plan but the competitive field did not disappoint.

I was very excited when I heard that it would be a rolling swim start. This would mean that I could start off up front and swim with people instead of going off solo most of the swim. This would also, hopefully, allow me to find some other athletes to legally ride with for the bike. But come race weekend the water was cold. Like REALLY cold. It was 53 on Saturday and there was talk of shortening the swim if the water was too cold. Throw beach hazard warnings with high winds and riptides and I figured the swim would be short. But when we showed up on race morning the temperature was 51 and the swim was cancelled.

That meant no rolling start, no finding feet to swim with, no riding with a group to help pace the 56 mile ride, but it still meant I was starting in front! One of the benefits of the All World Athlete program is a low number. The start of the bike was a time trial start where 2 athletes started every 5 seconds. I was very happy to start early because I know how sketchy this course is when trying to pass a lot of people.

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So off I went up the hill outside of transition and on to one of the worst roads I have ridden on! But I was prepared for that so it wasn’t too bad. My goal now was to push my watts and hopefully find someone to ride with. But the TT start spread things out early and I was alone pretty much the whole ride. I was hitting my watts for the most part but the cross winds were causing me to get out of aero because I am a big baby when going fast and worrying about a cross wind blowing me over. I tried to settle and just relax but I just wasn’t comfortable staying in aero worrying about a cross wind going 30+ MPH. (I NEED to work on this!)

The roads weren’t great but for the most part the course was in good shape. I got into a rhythm for a while but then was unsettled by the winds then got into a rhythm, then the winds, rinse and repeat. I was pushing a solid 24-26 MPH so was thinking I would come in with a 2:14ish bike split which I would have been happy with. But getting back to transition I saw 2:18 and was pretty upset. I would not know how upset I should be until the end of the race when I saw that I gave up 5-10 minutes to the other top AG athletes. I am used to giving up some time on the bike but that much time is way too much since the other top athletes can also run fast. This is the time I wish we swam because I can usually get a few minutes on some people so I wouldn’t have so much time to make up on the run.

On the run I knew I had a lot of work to do. I got out of transition and Matt Hanson was starting his second loop. I started to run with him for a bit but I didn’t want to push too hard at mile 1 but I was feeling comfortable so I stayed with him for a mile before he left me. I was running 5:50 miles and feeling good so tried to keep the pressure on and see what my legs had in the tank.

Miles kept ticking off and ran lap one in around 39 minutes which meant around a 1:17-18 which would be a few minutes faster than my best time, 1:20, so I was happy. But I wasn’t happy knowing that the leader in my AG was ahead of me and the guy who I knew would win the AG was starting later. My dad told me I was gaining on him but every time I saw him he seemed a decent way ahead of me and was looking solid. But I wanted to catch him so I could at least get 2nd in the AG but wasn’t sure it was happening.

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I was starting to feel it and I started to see a few 6 minute miles but wanted to make sure I had enough left for a last push starting at mile 10. I saw the AG leader at one of the turns and had it in my mind I was not going to catch him. I still wanted to push as hard as I could since I was still trying to see where I would place overall in the amateur race so I did not want to let up. With about a mile and a half to go I caught a glimpse of the leader ahead of me and put it in my last gear to see if I could make the catch. I was able to make the pass in the last mile and I left it all out there. Crossed the finish line with a lot of pain on my face.

I ended up with a 1:17:41 run split which was a big PR for me. Finished 2nd AG, 5th amateur, and 21st Overall. Still disappointed with my bike split and how I rode it but happy with the run split so overall feel pretty good about the race. But now time to get back to training and hope that I can ride better at 70.3 Steelhead in a few weeks!

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As always a huge thanks to my wife for putting up with my crazy training! I know life will be much different next summer with a baby but I am so excited for it! Thanks to my dad for coming to the race and giving me splits and carrying around my bags.

Of course thanks to EGO for their continued support and for making the best lawn care products out there! Now that I have a house and a yard I understand the struggle of keeping a yard looking nice! SLF Motion and ICE Friction for making my drivetrain smooth and efficient and Greater Than Sports Drink for keeping me hydrated and looking cool in the nice gear they have given me!

Winter Training Woes

Chicago winters are dark, dreary, cold, windy, LONG, icy, boring, and did I mention long?! The winters around here can do a few things to training. They can kick start the mental toughness that comes along with endurance sports, and/or it can start a process that saps you mentally so you might not want to train! For me it does both. But if I can keep coming back and waking up to train when I am mentally drained I know that I will be ready to go when the season comes along.

I don’t mind riding on the trainer as long as I have some good music of TV to watch. I don’t mind running outside in the cold. What really gets me is waking up early to go swim and it is pitch black outside! I then have to drive to the pool, get in the “cold” water and swim. But once I am in the water things change, well usually. There are times when I am swimming and I think “man I wish I was a duathlete!” But I feel like this is all a part of the process of becoming mentally strong. Winter training separates the weak from the strong and it is the building block to a solid season.

I do get a bit worn down around this time because I want to get outside and ride my bike! Even during the season when the weather is nice I don’t ride outside all of the time. That is mostly because I live in the city and riding, or driving, to an area that is good to ride take a bit of time. But it is also because I know I can get a lot of great quality training done on the trainer since there are no stop lights, no coasting, nothing but me and the numbers!

I am VERY excited for this upcoming year. There are a lot of things that will be going on and triathlon is only a small portion. 2016 is going to be a great year!

Challenge Knoxville RR

Going into my first race of the season I had high, but also unsure, expectations. I knew I had really good run fitness, and I knew I had been putting in good work in the pool and on the trainer. But the one thing I had not done since Ironman Wisconsin, September 2014, was ride my tri bike outside. I had 3 rides outdoors but all on my road bike because it is easier/safer to ride my road bike from my apartment in Chicago and I don’t really like driving to ride my bike since it takes more time. So that was the only unknown. Race week I came down with a cold but wasn’t really sure if it would do anything since it was a sore throat and cough and not in my lungs. Friday came along and it was time to make the 8.5 hour drive down to Knoxville! I had some good music and podcasts to keep me company since I was making this trip solo, with my dad coming down Saturday. I stopped a few times but it was a pretty easy drive south. Arrived at the race hotel Friday, unpacked then went to bed. Woke up Saturday and went on my shake out ride to make sure my bike was in good shape. Welp, it wasn’t! My tire was rubbing on the non drive side chain stay so took it to the mechanics then went for a swim in the river. I can’t say I wasn’t freaking out that my bike wouldn’t be rideable but tried to keep my mind on the prize.

Getting pumped up before the swim!

Getting pumped up before the swim!

Race day came and the cold was feeling a little better so I was hopeful the race would go according to plan. The weather was saying only 20% chance of rain and that was only for an hour or so…that was 100% wrong! Thankfully it didn’t start raining until the swim and I didn’t notice it until I got out of the swim but it was raining pretty good.

Swim: 28:09 (time out of water) 4th AG/14th Overall I felt pretty good during the swim. Got off to a good start and found my rhythm. One thing I need to do is find feet and swim with people. But not knowing what other swimmers are like I am always a bit unsure of who I should swim with but I need to figure that out so I can save some energy during the swim. I rolled out of the water with a PR swim and noticed it was raining. Got the wetsuit to my waist and started putting on my Louis Garneau Course M2 sleeved suit on, which is amazing!, then jogged a few hundred yards to transition.

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Bike: 2:37:50 (21.29 MPH/222 NP) 4th AG/14th Overall First lesson learned during this race was ALWAYS bring clear glasses in case of rain. I ditched my sunglasses because they were too foggy and it was dark because of the clouds. The bike course is hilly and had some winding descents that would normally make me a bit nervous then add in the rain and I was going to take no chances today. It was time to ride within myself and ride smart so I could get to the run. It was a good thing I stayed safe because there was a lot of crashes out there. It got scary seeing ambulances picking up multiple people so that just kept me focus on being steady and riding within myself and staying rubber side down.

Other than ups and downs the ride was pretty uneventful. The course was nice and challenging but not crazy hard. It had about 3200 feet of elevation gain but not many long, step climbs, but a few longer steady hills. I rode with a few people for a bit but mainly just stayed on my own watts and kept my nutrition in check. The rain made things annoying at times because with the rain and the speed it made it hard to see. The end of the course is very tough and my speed dropped to about 16 MPH. It seemed like it was up, up, and more up! But I never really had to grind up a hill and spike my power too much which I was happy with. What I was not happy with was seeing how much time I am still giving up to others on the bike. If I can get myself 5-10 minutes faster it would put me at the very front of the race but I want to do that without giving up any run fitness since that is my strength.

Run: 1:26:15 (6:35 min/mile) 3rd AG/12th Overall I got into transition and everything was soaked. I didn’t really care that much since I have drainage holes in my shoes but in my rush to leave T2 I forgot my race belt, so had to go back and get it. Lost about 15 seconds probably (and one placing). I knew I wanted to stay steady at the early part of the run then really try to turn it on the last 4 miles. I have gotten really good at pacing myself without my Garmin in 70.3 race so I was going by feel and checking to make sure I was on target. The tough part with this course was it was pretty hilly. A few steep uphills and some steep downhills. I am not great and down hill running because I can never get my turnover to go fast enough.

Heading to the finish

Heading to the finish

5 miles into the run I started to feel like I needed to go to the bathroom. Should I stop now or wait? I decided to stop at the next aid station to get it done so I would be comfortable the rest of the way. Made a quick pit stop then it was back at it. This was by far the hardest run course I have done because it was really tough to get into a pace and stick to it but that’s what made it kind of “fun”. I started passing some women pros but couldn’t see many “H” stickers on people’s calves so I couldn’t make up many places. Ended up passing someone with a few miles to go. I tried to kick it in the last mile but I had one of the worst side stitches ever. I knew no one was close behind so I wasn’t worried about losing a place but I also wanted to keep my foot on the gas. I couldn’t see anyone up the road so mentally I figured I would stay in my place no matter what. Could I have ran those 8 seconds back? Maybe but I was really struggling the last mile so I am not sure how much more I could have pushed.

Finish: 4:36:09 3rd AG/12th Overall amateur

It was a long trip but worth it!

It was a long trip but worth it!

All in all I am happy with how my race season started. Now time to put in some serious bike work so I can stop giving away 5-10 minutes to everyone else in the race. I do like running people down but I feel confident I can still do that with a stronger bike. After 17 hours or travel having a day off Monday was just what I needed. I had a few donuts and mentally recharged but now it’s time to get back at it!

Motivation

It has been way too long since I have posted, and I know it has been since my best friend who isn’t a triathlete commented about it! I have been kind of busy but also just wasn’t sure what to write about. But last week I started to think about my motivation to train then today during my cool down I started to think about what I would write about motivation. So here goes!

Everyone has to motivate themselves on a daily basis. Do I wake up 10 minutes earlier to make breakfast or grab a pop tart (my pre race breakfast!) on the go? Do I eat the donut in the kitchen at work or just drink some water and eat an apple? Do I go out to eat with coworkers even though I made my healthy lunch? Do I order pizza or Chinese instead of cook at home?

These are all questions everyone has on a daily basis. Okay maybe not those exact questions but ones that are very similar. I go through those questions everyday as well too but because of the amount of training I do I have added questions that come up. Do I wake up at 5 to go for this swim? Do I take a nap after work and push back my run? Do I do 5×1 mile repeats or 4? Do I push as hard as I know I should even though I am tired? These questions happen sometime but sometimes training is just, well training. I get through it and I enjoy it. But on other days those early wake ups are really annoying and on days like today I just want to relax with my fiancé and watch Fixer Upper.

Then I get to thinking…why am I doing all of this training? What do I get out of it? Do I enjoy it because it is fun? Do I enjoy it because I am pretty good? Am I just scared to suck so I make myself train? I think at different times I train because I love it, because I am scared, because it is fun, because I am good at it, and because I want to get better.

The tough times are when I REALLY think about it. I do a lot of thinking on long swims, rides, or runs. So I get to go through many different things everyday. I really do enjoy training and racing a lot. Like A LOT. I LOVE pushing my body to see how far it can go and how well I can do. But then part of my knows that I also train so much because I am scared to fail. I train so much that when I fail I not only feel bad for myself but I feel bad for my family and friends that I take time away from to train. I know they are all happy with whatever place I come in and no matter how I feel but I want to do well FOR them almost more than me.

There are times where I do think that I need to cut back a bit on training to just let loose a bit. Not worry too much about what I am eating or drinking but that will come. I think I have come a long way with being so structured and regimented. I still am that but just a few years ago I was so paranoid that if I had one bad meal, or one bad part of a meal I would regret it. Like I would get mad at myself and be very frustrated. But now I know that if I have a piece of cake, or two, if I have fries, or a beer (which I am enjoying now!), I won’t automatically gain a pound or two.

I am very happy that I have a race coming up in two weeks so I will be able to have all of this hard work and dedication pay off! I might post before then since I need to get back into the swing of it. I am not sure what other races I am doing this year but right now the ones that I have signed up for are Challenge/Rev3 Knoxville, Pleasant Prairie Olympic, and the Chicago Marathon. I will add a mock schedule to the site and add the races I think I am going to do. Well, as always, thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions on what to write about let me know! I am always up for some reader feedback!

Race Scheduling

As I sit here watching the NCAA basketball championship I am still pondering my upcoming season.  I just made some alternations to my race schedule I had on the blog because when I updated it I had ZERO clue when I wanted to race/where to race/etc.  I LOVE to race and if it were up to me I would race a lot more than I do.  But I do not have the money nor would racing that much be good for my season.  The problem with racing too much is you race yourself out of fitness.  That just means that you race so much that if you even take a few days before and after each race as easy days that’s a lot of training left on the table.  Also, this winter has not made it conducive to racing.  Hell, I’ve only been outside on a handful of bike rides!  It’s been brutal.

I have talked myself into and out of racing the Grand Rapids Half Iron multiple times but the timing just isn’t right.  I want to do the race but it probably isn’t smart if I want to race well at Rev3 Dells.  So it looks like I will be doing a Duathlon late April then open my triathlon race season either at Muncie May Triathlon or the Seahorse Triathlon.  Still not sure of my schedule in July/August but I might go back to the USAT Oly Nationals, race there then head over to Madison and do some training on the IM Wisconsin course to get a good training weekend in.  But my focus right now is on that race so I want to make sure I do what’s best for that race.

Another big thing I keep going back and forth on is coaching.  Right now I am self coached but part of me wants to get a coach but the cost is pretty high.  Part of me likes being self coached so I can make my own schedule and if life comes up I can quickly make alternations to my schedule without too much stress.

Other then that things have been going well with training and life.  Thanks, as always, for reading!