Race Reports

Race Report: Lake Stevens 70.3

Lake Stevens was my 2nd Half Ironman race, and the prep for this race was very different than the prep for Austin 70.3 last October. Going into this race I had much more confidence in my ability, I had an additional 9 months of base under my belt, but I didn't have a really consistent and focused build for Lake Stevens. I had about 7 weeks of good, quality training between the honeymoon and Lake Stevens - and I felt great going into this race. Unsure if I'd be seeing a PR, due to the dramatic differences in elevation between Austin (1,400 feet or so on the bike) and Lake Stevens (Garmin said almost 3,500 feet) - but I was as ready as I could be. The trip up to Lake Stevens was quite long on Saturday, Seattle traffic seemed like it was against us and it took us close to 6 hours to get from Portland to the race expo. With that said, we made it just in time for the athlete briefing, got some tips on the tricky corners during the bike, picked up some gear, got the bike checked in, and were out of there within an hour. Because of the traffic that morning, we decided to find pre-race pizza closer to the hotel in Everett. I'm much more relaxed the night before a race now compared to last year - but I still enjoy having a beer to relax the night before a race, I got all packed up and ready for the morning and was in bed by 10am, with a daunting 4am wake up call ahead of me the next morning. Race Morning

The race-morning traffic in Austin was so bad that I (literally) almost missed the race. Because of that, there was no getting around it, we were going to be leaving early for Lake Stevens. I woke up at 4, and had the following for breakfast: 1 cup of coffee, 1 scoop of Hammer HEED in 24 oz. of water, 2 Trader Joes sourdough english muffins w/ almond butter, and a banana. With a successful #2 taken care of, we were on the road by 5:15. Traffic was a piece of cake, and in less than 20 minutes from Everett we were parked in our reserved spot in one of the lots downtown (definitely worth the $20 at the race expo!!!) I had plenty of time to get my nutrition setup on the bike, the chance to meet some fellow Team 10 Barrel athletes, and to get my mind right for the task at hand.

The Swim (1.2 miles - 31:57 - 1:39/100m)

The M25-29 wave started 3rd from last (I believe). The male pros started at 6:30, and we didn't start until 7:03 - needless to say, almost right away there was big time traffic. I swam steady and made it out to the end buoy in 15:30 feeling very in control, by the time I was making my way back I was just passed 16 minutes. I knew that sub 30 minutes might not happen, but that a PR for the 1900m swim was definitely possible. I swam hard, but in control weaving in and out of countless age groupers back-stroking, breast stroking, etc and swam in just under 32 minutes. My swim was 14th in my division, and 176th overall.

The Bike (56 mile - 2:44:07 - 20.47mph)

After a smooth T1, I was off on the bike. I felt good right away, making an emphasis to lower my heart rate and to wait until it dropped to start my nutrition. Right away I was in the fast lane passing constantly, it seems impossible to avoid 'drafting' at times with the starts being this way but I did my best to obey the rules. By mile 5 I had already seen 3 ambulances tending to badly injured athletes, I had heard that the course was known for sharp corners, so I made the mental note to really be safe while cornering - even if that meant I would leave a little time out there. The ride went by really quickly. Despite the crazy amount of climbing, my legs felt good the whole time and I know I left it all out there. My goal of beating my time in Austin didn't happen, but I was WAY more competitive at this race which felt so awesome. By the time I finished the bike I was 12th in my division and 145th overall. 

photo (2)

The Run (13.1 miles - 1:29:28 - 6:49/mi)

T2 was fast for me (1:58) most likely because I came off the bike barefoot and really flew through transition. Right away I set into a hard pace that felt doable and the first 5 miles were just under 6:30 pace. The run course was deceivingly hilly, and I knew that I had to slow down or I was going to blow up. I dropped my pace to about 6:50 and the legs did fall off a bit around mile 10, but I still managed to run a sub 1:30 which I will always feel good about. Despite running it the hard way, I feel great about the result, especially considering how tough the bike was. I finished the run 7th in my division, and 86th overall. 2 spots away from getting an age group award at an Ironman race, now THAT is something to be excited about.

Takeaways 

My swim has come a long way, and I really feel like I just need to continue the course with my training. If I keep my frequency where it's at (4 swims/week) and simply add some volume, I'm going to continue to see the gains that I've been seeing. My bike is my biggest opportunity, and this is going to be the focus for me over the fall/winter. In talking to the guys on slowtwitch, I need to learn how to suffer on the bike like I've learned to do on the run. The engine is there, I just gotta keep at it. I'm so proud of this result and excited to keep training and seeing the gains and improvements come. Next up, I think I'll be racing the Aluminum Man Triathlon again, and then it's all about enjoying some time off and getting this body ready for Ironman Coeur d'Alene! As always, thanks to Hammer Nutrition for the support, 10 Barrel Brewing, and our team sponsors Wattie Ink, Picky Bars, and Hydro Flask!

Life Update & Race Report: Deschutes Dash Olympic Triathlon

What a summer it has been! Wow, the natural place to start is definitely going to be that I married the woman of my dreams on June 7th. It was an amazing day, filled with quite the drama as wildfire forced us to evacuate our wedding site and move the reception to a public park in Bend. I really liked the way that CNN told the story: http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/09/oregon-couples-wedding-shot-includes-approaching-wildfire/ With that aside, we've had an amazing summer being married and have quickly settled into a hectic schedule of travel, family, work, and plenty of training. I knew that this season would be different because of the wedding being in June, followed by our (amazing) honeymoon in Mexico. However, I was determined to get out and compete and to represent Hammer Nutrition, Team 10 Barrel, and our team sponsors Picky Bars, Hydro Flask, Wattie Ink, and of course 10 Barrel Brewing. I kicked the season off at the Deschutes Dash Olympic Triathlon in Bend. I was excited about this for a few reasons, primarily because it's my first time doing a race for the 2nd time so I was eager to compare my fitness to last year - plus, I LOVE being in Bend. Here it goes:

The Swim - 1300m (14:43 - :52/100y)

Right before the race I convinced my wife that I absolutely needed the new Zoot Prophet wetsuit, and wow am I glad we made the purchase. My swim training was almost non-existent for the 3 months leading up to the wedding, so I didn't know what to expect since I'd only had about 5 weeks of consistent training. Right off the bat I pushed the pace on the swim, and I think I came out of the water in 5th position which felt really good. I cut-off just over a minute from last year which I am STOKED on. More importantly, it feels really good to be competitive in the swim.

The Bike - 25.5 miles (1:14:54 - 20.3mph)

I was nervous about the bike on this course. The first half is a climb up Century Drive towards Mt. Bachelor (~1900 ft gain), followed by a screaming fast descent back into Bend. Last year the bike is where I really lost position at this race, and I was really focused on trying to at least maintain position during the tough segment. I got passed right away by 2 people, and a 3rd a little ways later. I did catch 2 separate dudes on the climb out - so I was excited to be up front coming off the bike. I was 3 minutes faster than last year, not quite as big of a gain as I'd hoped for, but I'm pleased with this. photo (1)

The Run - 6.2 miles (39:26 - 6:22/mi)

The official results didn't capture my T1 time, so this is the split that my watch gave me for the run. The run has been my strength, but I hadn't had much time training the Bike to Run (Brick) strength leading into this race. Right away I reeled two guys in, and worked my butt off to catch a third around mile 5. The race was dry and rolling hills, but I was very pleased to cut off almost 3 minutes from last years race.

Final result: 2:12:30 - 6th OA - 2nd M25-29

Takeaways

My swim has gotten stronger, my bike has gotten stronger, and the focus on my bike has actually (seemed) to help my run strength. I need to put some emphasis on my transitions, this is the one place where I consistently lose time (those seconds count, too!). This result is a true testament to consistency. I had a broken 3 months or so of training leading up to the wedding, but despite that lack of regimented training, 8 minutes faster than last year!

Again, thank you to Hammer Nutrition, 10 Barrel Brewing, Picky Bars, Hydro Flask, and Wattie Ink for the support! The taper has begun for my 2nd 70.3, and I'm excited to see what I can do after this result and a few great weeks of training. Next up: Lake Stevens 70.3.

Race Report: Austin 70.3

Austin 70.3 was my first half-ironman. It was my 5th and final race of the season - so for many reasons, this race was a big deal for me. Prior to Austin, I'd raced 4 triathlons but the focus had always been on nailing my first 70.3. I wasn't sure what type of goals I should set, as this was my first half-ironman. However, being as goal oriented and competitive as I am, it was impossible not to have a few. One of my biggest goals was to come off the bike ready to RACE the half marathon, in order to accomplish that I knew I was going to have to monitor my effort (HR) and really nail my nutrition plan. Working with my coach, we thought that I would be able to finish around 4:45, so that was ultimately the time that I was shooting for. The 1.2 Mile Swim: 34:20

The Male 25-29 age group (M25-29 AG) was separated into two different waves due to there being almost 250 of us. I believe my wave was the 9th or 10th to go off for the swim start, which meant I was starting behind over 1,000 other racers. I had no idea what to expect with this big of a swim, as I caught the age group that had started in front of us within 200 meters. I made the decision to swim on the outside by about 50 feet, and ended up swimming an extra .2 miles according to my Garmin 910. Looking back, I should have swam closer to the buoy's and just been aggressive as I think I lost 3 minutes or so on the swim. Lesson learned, but I felt good with my time. Goal for next season is to be sub 30 for my 70.3 swims.

The 56 Mile Bike: 2:38:14

T1 was muddy, so I took my time getting through transition. I had heard horror stories of flat tires in T1 due to thorny nettles in T1, so I carried my bike through transition to be safe. After a quick pit-stop less than 1 minute into the bike to get the mud out of my cleats, it was time to ride. My goal was to really monitor my effort on the bike, because I knew I wanted to have a strong and fast 13.1 mile run. Once my heart rate finally settle down, I stayed between 148-152 BPM for the entire bike. With an average speed of 21.23 MPH, I was very pleased with my bike. I rented Zipp 808 carbon clincher race wheels from Athletes Lounge, and wow! Already looking forward to buying a pair of my own for next season. I took my nutrition on 20 minute intervals and didn't miss a bottle, came into T2 feeling good and ready to race the half-marathon.

The 13.1 Mile Run: 1:27:08

After a smooth transition, I was off. Right away I told myself to slow down because I was feeling very strong coming off the 56 mile bike. The run course was 3 loops, and my goal was to negative split the run. After completing my first loop at 6:38 pace, I realized that it was going to be a busy 13.1 miles. Each loop, more and more people were entering out of T2 which meant that each loop was more crowded than the last. I know I would have been able to run faster if I hadn't had to deal with the traffic, but at least everyone else was impacted by it as well. The nice thing about the 3 loop run course was that I was able to see my awesome girlfriend twice per loop - so fun! Coming into the third loop I tried to put the hammer down, but I wasn't able to run any faster so my run ended up being a pretty steady state race. I finished the half-marathon in 1:27:08 which is only 4 minutes off my open PR, and was able to run myself into 15th place in my very competitive age group of almost 250 people. What an amazing day.

Austin 70.3

Takeaways

My swim is the weakest of the three disciplines, and my run is by far the most competitive. It's great for me to know that I'm able to finish so strong, considering how much work I have to do on my swim and bike - leaving me very motivated going into this 'off-season.' With that said, my short history of running for 2 years prior to starting triathlon certainly shows with the times I have been able to run in the 10k and half over the summer. If I want to be truly competitive, I am going to have to focus on my swim this winter. I do want to be competitive so I'm going to make that my focus. What an amazing end to my first season as a triathlete. Can't wait to see what I can do in 2014!

Race Report: Aluminum Man "Olympic" Triathlon

The Aluminum Man Olympic Triathlon is a unique race, which is why I used quotes in the title. The distances are as follows: 1k swim versus the standard 1.5k swim, 50k bike versus the standard 40k bike, and the run was the standard 10k. Going into this race, located in The Dalles, I was determined to be competitive - that was my biggest goal. "Competitive" is very relative, specifically I knew that I wanted to win my age group (M25-29) and be within the top 10 like I had been at the Mid-Summer Tri just a few weeks ago. The 1k Swim: 17:15

My goal for this swim was to be as close as I could to 15 minutes. When I came out of the water in 17:15 I was a bit disappointed, however I came out of the water in 14th place which is a huge improvement for me! My watch also said that the swim was closer to 1200m, so I was very pleased with my pace on this swim. Big step forward.

The 50k Bike: 1:23:59

After a slow 2:20 T1 (story below) I was off, the bike course was no joke. Over the first 16 miles of the race we climbed almost 2,000 feet - which is 3 times the amount of elevation I'll face over the entire 56 mile course in Austin. I felt strong the entire climb up and held my position for the most part. I passed quite a few people on the climb up, but I did get passed by 3 guys on the downhills (need to work on my gearing for downhill racing). My placing was identical for the bike as it was for the swim overall, 14th place.

The 10k Run: 39:52

After a quick :59 T2, it was time to play catch up. The run portion of triathlon has been my strength, and something that I have been able to rely on - as I'm able to gain a lot of ground on the guys that beat me on the bike. With that said, a big goal for me going into next season is going to be making some big gains in the off-season on both the bike and swim. Instead of catching people on the run, I can seal some WINS with the run. My 10k time felt pretty slow, especially coming off of such a challenging bike course - thankfully, the rest of my competition had an ever harder time. My run was 2nd overall and I was able to run my way into 5th place overall, passing my main competitor in M25-29, which meant that I also got my 2nd AG win!

Aluminum man finish

Takeaways

Although it was a pretty small race, outside of the big city, it was a big race for me. T1 was rough, my glasses fogged up really bad on me and I had to completely stop in the bike mount section to actually get into the pedals. Going into Austin, I want to be able to have my shoes clipped in so that I'll have one less thing to think about during transition. I've gained confidence in getting out of my shoes on the bike going into T2 and my T2 times are now very competitive - time to do the same for T1. Time to get after it! Next up: Ironman Austin 70.3

Race Report: Mid-Summer Olympic Triathlon (which became a duathlon...)

The Mid-Summer Triathlon takes place on the exact same course as the Blue Lake Triathlon that I'd run in June. Going into race weekend, I was feeling very confident that I was going to be able to take off at least 10 minutes from my time only 2 months earlier. Leading up to this race a lot had changed: I purchased a Cervelo P2 triathlon bike, I'd been putting a ton of emphasis on improving my swim and had been practicing my transitions. Then I got the e-mail on Friday, just 2 days before the race. There was an "algae boom" in Blue Lake and my Olympic Triathlon had been turned into an Olympic Duathlon. At first I was ticked, I'd been working hard on my swimming and now I wasn't going to get to race the swim. However, my coach (http://trijeffsmith.com/) helped me realize that I was going to get to practice my transitions in a race setting, PLUS, running is my strongest of the 3 disciplines!

The format of the Duathlon was definitely not traditional. AA Sports initially said that the format was going to be a 5k run, 40k bike, 10k run format. Then it was changed to a 5k run, 40k bike, 5k run format. Finally, due to lots of unhappy participants the format was changed to a 1 mile mass start run, 40k bike, 10k run. Weird, but I was excited to race nonetheless.

The 1 mile run: 5:46

Not much to say about this. I lined up near the front and tried to run fast, but steady with good form. This was nowhere near an all out effort but kept me in front of the big group so that T1 wasn't a nightmare, which was my primary goal.

The Bike: 1:02:19 (huge win!)

My HR goal for the bike was 170bpm. Because of the 1 mile run start, my heart rate was SCREAMING when I got on the bike and for the first 5 miles I hovered right around 180. Once things settled down, I ended up holding right between 22.5-23.5 mph on the fast bike along Marine Drive. I felt strong the whole way, and if it wasn't for my heart rate goals that Jeff had given me - I would've ridden closer to 1 hour I bet. Huge win for me, nearly 8 minutes faster on the same course that I'd raced in June on my Trek road bike.

The Run: 38:48

Near the end of the bike I got passed by a group of 6-10 guys that were riding in a pretty tight pack, my goal for the run was twofold: don't get passed, and pass every one of those guys that had passed me - mission accomplished. I got off the bike right around 24th place and was able to run my way into the top 10, finishing 9th overall. Final time: 1:49:20.

mid summer run

Takeaways

I'm really stoked about my results, a top 10 overall placing and 1st place in my age group. I'm very pleased with the progress I've made in my first season, and I'm enjoying competing more and more as I'm able to be more competitive. I need to keep focusing on my swim, since most races won't be converted to du's. Also, the bike was well worth the price tag and I'm glad to see that my bike was much more competitive this race! Next up: Aluminum Man Olympic and Austin 70.3

Race Report: Deschutes Dash Olympic Triathlon

Going into this race, my second triathlon ever - I was much more confident and excited compared to the nervousness I had before blue lake. I knew that the course was going to pose challenges: heat, altitude, elevation on the bike, and a challenging run mixed with trails, stairs, and climbs. However, I had an additional 5 weeks of training under my belt and knew that I was ready to race much better. Image

I had a couple specific goals for this race:

  • I knew that the swim was going to be fast, as it was a downstream swim in the Deschutes River - and I wanted to be much more competitive in this swim (mission accomplished).
  • I knew that the bike was going to be challenging with a hard climb the first half and a fast the descent the second half - I wanted a big negative split and wanted to push harder than I had in my first race (mission accomplished).
  • The run is my strength and I knew this was going to be a challenging 10k - I wanted to have a competitive run that was within top 10 overall (mission accomplished).
  • Finally, I wanted to step on the podium in my age group - something that I hope to do at every race from here on out (mission accomplished!).

The swim

The swim started off upstream from the Old Mill District in Bend and was a screaming fast from the beginning. I started off at a comfortable pace and quickly fell into a rhythm that felt hard but sustainable for the entire 1300 meter distance. I came out of the water in 15:54 which felt competitive and was good enough for 26th place overall - huge win!

The bike

The bike was going to be a challenge, with almost 2,000 feet of climbing in the first half of the 40k race. The second I hopped on my trust Trek 1.2 (last race on a road bike, as I've since purchased a 2013 Cervelo P2!) the intimidation was gone and I was ready to race. I quickly passed the guy in front of me and it was a battle to the top of century drive. As I began to make the descent I was back and forth with another age grouper. At around mile 20 I made a big push to get passed him and with a grin I said "race you to the bottom!" and I never looked back (and never saw him again!). Finished the bike in 1:17:22 which was good for 29th place overall - not great, but I'll take it.

The run

From the beginning of the run there was no one in sight which made for a mentally challenging 6.2 miles. My first mile clicked off at 6:26 and I knew this was going to be a much slower run that I'd had at blue lake. I held a steady pace until we entered the trails at mile 3, from there on it was a grind to the finish. I wasn't able to catch anyone but I had a very competitive run which was a big goal of mine going into this race. 10k time was 42:33 which was good for 8th place overall - slow, but for this course I feel great about that!

I ended up placing 2nd in my age group, which was male 25-29 since this race was USAT sanctioned - for USAT races your age group is based on the age that you will be on 12/31 of the calendar year. I am STOKED about the huge improvements that have been made in 5 weeks, both physically and mentally. Next up: mid-summer olympic triathlon and a couple 70.3's!

My first triathlon.

Three weeks before the race, I finally signed up for the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon (http://aasportsltd.com/events/race/bluelaketri/) in Portland, Or. At this point I knew that I was good at training, it was time to see if I could race. My coach was very encouraging in the days leading up to the race, he constantly reminded me that the only way to get good at racing is to race - I was excited to finally get out there and go for it. The day before the race, coach prescribed a 60 minute ride with 20 minutes at 158-162bpm right into a 2 mile run at an easy effort. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and prepping gear - wow, there is a lot of gear!

Race morning rolled around and I was up by 5am. Ate my typical pre-race breakfast of coffee, banana, oats and a big glass of water and the weather was looking great for the race: low 60's and partially cloudy. We got to the race extra early, as we'd heard that the traffic had been bad the day before for the sprint portion of the triathlon. I was setup at transition and ready to race by 7am which gave me an hour to go to the bathroom, catch up with friends who were racing, and get warmed up.

My age group started about 7 minutes after the first wave, it was so intense fighting off other swimmers as we battle towards the first buoy! Once we made the first turn, I was able to get into a rhythm and had some space, it was time to focus on my swim. I swam through what I thought was the half way mark in just over 13 minutes - on pace for an OK swim. I made the mistake of sighting off of someone in front of me in the last long stretch towards the finish though and lost at least a minute as we were swimming anywhere but straight. I ran out of the water in 27 minutes, not as fast as I'd hoped but I was thrilled to be heading towards the bike!

Transitioning wasn't as hard as I'd hoped, however, I found myself being extra courteous of others making sure my area was cleaned up and not in the way of others in the transition area - I spent a solid extra minute doing this (fail). On the bike I felt great! First time using aero bars on my road bike, I know they say not to try anything new on race day but I had to give them a shot. I held a pretty consistent pace the entire race and felt great the whole way, I found myself getting passed by guys that didn't seem to be in nearly as good of shape as me. I tried not to get discouraged, as I knew that they were all riding expensive triathlon bikes and had more experience than I did with racing. I picked up the pace the final 2 miles and rode into T2 in 1:10:01 which was around 20.5mph average for the ride.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.34.46 PM

My transition from bike to run was much faster and I was through in 1:30. As heavy as my legs felt, I was confident that I was going to be able to run a strong 10k, running is my specialty! My first mile flew by in 6:02 and I had already passed 15-20 people. I was able to sustain a constant effort of 6:06-6:10/mile for the entire 10k. I didn't get passed by a single person and felt strong the entire way through finishing the run in 38:25 which was good for 6:10/mi pace and an 11 second PR!

My final time for my first triathlon was 2:20:53 and I left the race with 3 major takeaways: 1) I need to learn how to swim more efficiently in the open water, this will come with time. 2) I need to push it more on the bike and work on my swim-bike transition speed (T1). 3) I am hooked on triathlon! I love the training, I love the community and I love the gear/tech that goes into this sport. It's such an art and I'm already saving up for a triathlon bike. Time to work on my swimming and bike strength - lets go!