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Monday, November 1, 2010

Back in the saddle again

Starting out ... feeling like a rockstar

I've put together a mixed up post with some pics from our recent trip to the mountains (which was an endurance event itself) intermingled with an update about my plans for Ironman St. George.

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Monday kicked off my return to formal training and quest a great race at St. George. I was just a little tiny bit anxious to get moving again so started training a bit more frequently last week. On Wednesday I was on my 4th run of the week on the trails of Harbison Forest when I sprained my ankle on a rock or root disguised under fall foliage. It's healed enough to run again now although the foot is still a colorful with purple/green/yellow hues. Ah, the colors of Autumn.

The crew at the base of a waterfall near Chimney Rock

During my 8 week hiatus from structured training I managed to put on 6 pounds!! And that was with still training about 5 hours per week (my sanity training I call it). So that shows you just how lax I'd become with my diet! When people (generally non-athletic folk) ask me about losing weight I tell them that (in my non-expert opinion) to lose weight and then maintain an optimal weight they need to commit to a moderate and balanced diet AND a minimum of 1 hr per day of aerobic work of some kind. I think I've just proven that theory correct.

Kids at a Lake Lure overlook

So now the work begins. The next 8 weeks will be "training to train" for St. George. The actual training for St. G will begin in earnest on Jan 1, exactly 18 weeks from race day. The next two weeks will be devoted to re-establishing frequency and consistency at a mostly steady effort level. I will sprinkle in some intensity here and there each week and will gradually increase the frequency of high intensity work as the 8 week block progresses. As the weight and pace come down (as they often do in parallel) I'll begin to do some of the local winter run races that I use each year as a measure of fitness with the hopes of setting all-time 5k and 10k PRs before the longer work begins. If I could break 17 minutes in the 5k I would be thrilled! The hope is that I'll carry a good deal of that speed all the way to the Ironman.

A triple waterfall

As for the ironman specific training, I'm going to experiment with completely different approach than any I've done before. In the past I've used a fairly standard periodization approach where I would build volume for 3 weeks and then recover for 1 week. Each cycle would build on the previous one until I had no more time available and I was good form. While I can't argue with the race results that have come from this approach, my complaint comes from the plateau I reached earlier this year. The level where I plateaued was good enough to win some races and generally be competitive every time I toed the line, but we're not really looking for "good enough" are we? No, we are hoping to become the best possible. My goal is to race ironman on the world stage against the world's best. And I'm not "looking for clues", I truly believe I can get more out of this mind and body (and also spend even more time with my family) by taking a different approach. That's the goal.

Here are the primary principles that I'm basing my St. George training on:
  • Consistency: Nothing new here, I'm a big believer that consistency leads to great performances, and as such, I like to operate on a "basic week", which is a repeatable weekly schedule. This year I'm calling it my "basic cycle" because it's a two week cycle that I'll repeat with the two weeks being quite different from each other.
  • Running Frequency: Nothing new here either, it builds durability in the body. I like to run just about every day even if only 20-40 minutes.
  • Specificity: This is where I failed in the past. If you know me you've probably heard me say that I usually race faster than I train. That's great, but what if I trained as fast as I raced? Then how fast would I race? For St. George, specificity means hills, hills, and more hills at race intensity. While it will be a challenge to duplicate the terrain of Utah on the bike a, I've already scoped out some very hilly run routes that will give me nearly the elevation change as the St. George marathon.
  • Recovery: This is another area where I've failed badly in the past. Not surprising since specificity and recovery tend to go hand in hand. Lack of recovery left me in a state of grey for many consecutive months ... unable to push as hard as I should in training (e.g. specificity)
  • Getting Lean: I'm 5'11" (180.3 cm) and spent most of last season at 158 lbs (71.8 kg) at around 9% body fat. Losing 5lbs from last years race weight (that's 11 lbs from my weight today) would put me around 153 lbs /69.5 kg and 6% body fat. I believe this would pay huge dividends on a course like St. George that has such a massive amount of climbing on the bike and run.
I'll get more into the specifics in a later post. For now it's back to "training to train"!

Resting on the trail. The hard work is done. I love that feeling!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yep, I've pulled the plug on the 2010 triathlon season. Since the SC Half ironman I haven't done any training ... only exercise. While exercise for me is still swim, bike and run, it differs in some ways from training: 1) There's not so much of it 2) it is not purposely focused on a race and 3) it's done when I want, for fun, with whatever equipment I choose. For the first week or two it was easy, but because I love to swim, bike and run so much I've had to force myself not do it so much!

With all the extra time I've mainly been spending loads of it with my family (which has been very special). And I've been eating lots of whatever-I-want and putting on some weight (or at least I feel like it). I've also been putting a lot of time, thought and energy into preparing to move. With a family of 5 with 3 little ones this is no simple task! I'm not 100% positive where that will be yet (only about 90%) but one thing is for sure ... we're movin'! I should have something more concrete on this soon and I'll let you know.

But there are a few other reasons besides time-with-family and moving that helped me decide to take an early off season ...

For one, I'd hit a plateau. I was in a rut and in order to bring my racing up to a higher level in 2011, I needed to take some rest mentally and physically and prepare for the work ahead. I believe I know what my program was lacking this year and look to address it for next year. But I can't do that without first unloading. When I look back I don't think I've taken any breaks except for 2 weeks after Clearwater last year and maybe 2-3 weeks after Beach 2 Battleship in 2008.

Secondly, I'm happy to have met the objectives (and exceeded some) that I set out for 2010. The foremost was actually winning some triathlons. So there's nothing that I feel is left undone with the 2010 season (which is a great feeling!). I've worked hard, learned some things, made memories, shared awesome experiences with friends and family, and managed to get the results I was after. That's what it's all about.

Thirdly, my next high priority race is Ironman St. George on May 7, 2011. This race will demand more of me mentally and physically than any other race to date. After all, it's being called THE most difficult Ironman. With my preparation for St. George beginning in November, if I'm going to take some down-time it needs to be now.

I'll save the 2011 goals for another post :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

SC Half Race Report

It's been just over two weeks since I raced the SC Half so a report is overdue!

Result: 6th place overall in a time of 4:30:18

The day started out early at 4:00 AM and was a very peaceful morning. I made the 1hr drive to the state park in Ninety Six and arrived at 5:30 AM with plenty of time to get my packet, number my gear and body, catch up with friends, and warm up.

Swim: 30:26, rank 10th

Not a good swim for me; I expected to be at least 1 minute faster. The start was slow and easy. Too easy. At about 200 meters a small group switched gears and got a sizable gap. I was too slow to react and they were gone. I had one pair of feet until the first turn but let them go which was a big mistake. Once on my own I got terribly off course. By the time I made my way back on course to get around the final turn I joined with a group that included folks that I'm usually in front of at this stage of a race. A little stumble coming up the boat ramp and I was glad to put the swim behind me.

T1: 0:55

Bike: 2:24:22 Rank 9th.

The plan was to ride the bike at a conservative pace so I would have plenty in the tank for run when the temperature would rise. My strategy was to ride by heart rate, keeping it in the mid 150s, and take in 3 full bottles of fluid - each containing 220 calories and 200 mg of sodium chloride plus other electrolytes.

Heading out of the park Cameron and I were together and he waved me up to him to work together (legally of course) to try to bridge the gap to the front. This didn't fit my plan for the race so I let him go hoping he would come back to me later, instead focusing on getting my heart rate settle from the swim.

I never really felt good on the bike. I guess it was just one of those days. There was a section of about 10 miles where my HR actually fell lower than I wanted and I had to force myself to increase the intensity to get it back where it needed to be. This is typically not the case with me, especially in race! At some point before the halfway mark I started dry heaving. Sometimes I have this happen in Sprint races because of the intensity but that certainly wasn't the case today. But what can you do? Nothing but press on, keep trying to take in nutrition and hope things turn around

Then around the half way mark Jose Fuentes came past me. I could tell that he was riding above his ability and had no hesitation in letting him go assuming I would see him again on the run. Soon after that encounter the dry heaving turned to full-on puking. First it started out small but when we took the turn onto the bumpy cut-through road I lost a belly full. From there I stopped taking in nutrition for the most part. Soon after I was overtaken by Vavre and then around mile 52 I passed Mike Wendt who stayed with me for the last few miles coming into transition. As you can see from this picture taken on the way back into the park I still had a full bottle on the seat tube. Not good!

For the ride my average HR was 152 with an average speed of 23.27. This was exactly how I'd planned to ride.

T2: 1:00 (put on socks)

Run: 1:33:37, rank 8th

That steep hill at the finish is a killer!

The temps were starting to rise as we began the run and it felt especially apparent coming from the bike where you have the cooling effect of the wind. Fuentes had about a minute on me at the start of the run but I was able to run him down before the first mile. That put me 5th place with my sights set on the $$ and a podium spot. To make that happen I'd need to run down both Cameron who'd built a 4 minute lead over the bike and T2 (3:30 bike, 0:30 t2) and one other.

Again I stuck to the plan and tried to pace it evenly, starting out easy and letting the HR and RPE build throughout the run while maintaining pace. At mile 5 the lack of salt caught up with me and I got a major hamstring cramp just as I was crossing paths with Jeff Allums. He saw (and heard) the agony and yelled "Stretch it out" which is just what I did and was able to get moving again. I was able to close the gap to Cameron a little by the halfway turnaround and then by the turnaround at mile 9 it had come down a lot. Unfortunately around this same point I was passed by a flying Mark Render and pushed back to 6th place. As much as I hate getting passed, there is something cool about seeing a natural runner do their thing.

When I look at the data I see that the first mile was at 158 HR and it rose by 2 or 3 beats every few miles up to 171 giving me an average of 165. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to run down Cameron who managed to keep a 30 second gap between us. Upon crossing the finish line Cam looked awful and was taken straight to the med tent for an IV. Congrats to Peter for the win.

My thoughts on the race:

I'm mostly pleased with this race! This wasn't a PR or a podium and I didn't earn any money but it was a solid performance.

I'm most pleased with the fact that Peter Kotland (the winner) and I were the only two guys that ranked in the top 10 across all three disciplines. That shows a well-rounded and balanced approach to the sport that I can be proud of. Most of others either had obvious weaknesses in a particular area or paced the bike above their fitness level and blew up, sacrificing their run.

I'm most displeased with the swim. Had I swam how I should've I theoretically would have beat Cam by 30 seconds instead of the other way around. But that's all theory!

Thoughts on the course:

This is a fair course. I love swimming in Lake Greenwood! The chip-seal on the bike course is a little rough but the terrain is perfect rolling hills. The run is challenging, partly because of the terrain but mostly because of the heat.

I'm very thankful to God and my family for my health and the ability to do this sport and the support they give me. This sport is hard and it hurts but it is also extremely fun and rewarding and I'm very privileged to be able to participate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2 for 1 Race Report Special

First I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to my family for all they sacrifice and all the support they give me. Without their support it is impossible and without them it is meaningless. Y'all are such a huge blessing and I thank God for each of you!

Tri the Midlands Race Report: 5th overall

In my last race report from the Lake Murray Triathlon I stated, "So I ended up in 5th place with a pretty sloppy race really. I need to be a little more focused on the details – which I will"

Obviously I didn't learn my lesson because the exact same statement applies to this race.

As much as I hoped to discontinue the streak of sloppiness demonstrated at the Lake Murray, it only grew worse. Way worse.

It started with a forgotten timing chip which I realized just minutes before the start. In a mad dash sprint I reached the chip distribution area just as it was being torn down. Luckily I had bib #2 which made my chip fairly easy to find in the stack of chip containers. A sprint back to the lake and all was good apart from my jacked up HR.

The swim was pretty good. I came out of the water about 20 seconds down to a lead pack of 4. Running to transition I peeled my Xterra .02 suit down half way and hurriedly went about T1.

Here I present sloppiness example Number 2:

Yep, I forgot to take the suit all the way off. Oh well, might as well ride with it.

My bum got a little hot and it wasn't very aerodynamic but the real damage was done mentally.

And then as I was battling someone on the bike whom I usually drop fairly readily, my chain came off. It wasn't a chain drop the could be remedied while riding (didn't drop off the chain ring) but rather dropped off the rear cassette.

So after stopping and getting the chain sorted out and watching my opponent ride away I was mentally over it. I had to make a decision whether to relent or push on. I decided to push on and make the best of it.

I was glad to get to T2 so I could get the stinking swim suit off. I was getting hot and was it was rather embarrassing riding back to transition through the crowd-lined street with it dangling around my waist.

Setting out on the run I made it a point to pass my bike opponent (and friend) quickly and make a gap between us.

From there it was just hanging on and making sure I held on to 5th spot which I did.

I was really disappointed after this race and determined to actually tighten things up for my next race.

Tom Hoskins Memorial Triathlon Race Report: 1st overall

This was a first-year sprint race and seems to go by many names (Tom Hoskins Memorial, NW Columbia , Irmo YMCA ...) It was being directed by a friend and coworker of mine and I thought he and his team did a great job.

This was to be my redemption race. I was determined to dot my i's and cross my t's, make no stupid mistakes, and let the chips fall where the may.

That's exactly what I did and ended up with the win. My biggest competition for the day was two friends Jeff Brandenburg and Chuck Hiers. I wasn't concerned too much with Chuck as we train together and I know his strengths and weaknesses. Next year may be a different story as he's taking a very serious approach to his training with the guidance of Team Kattouf.

My biggest concern was JB. I haven't raced him yet this year so wasn't sure what to expect. My plan was to put some time between us on the swim and then ride hard and try to hold onto the gap. I figured in the worst case scenario it would come down to a run race.

It was a 350 yard pool swim and I had the fastest swim of the day. Looking at the results I put about 35 seconds on Jeff and another 10 seconds in transition.

The bike was 14 miles out and back over some challenging rollers. After crossing paths with JB after the turn around I estimated my lead at around 1 min. I continued digging deep to the point of nausea. I had the fastest ride of the day at 33 min and change for a 24.8 mph or 40km average which I was pleased with.

The run was darn tough, especially after that hard ride. My pace coming out of t1 was pretty good at 5:40/mile until I hit the two hills. Getting to the turn around was a relief and I soon got another time check on JB and knew it was game-over between us for this race. The run was about 1/10th of a mile long which, along with the challenging hills, made for some slow times. Mine was the third fastest at just under 20 minutes.

In the end I had JB and Chuck by 3 min and 3:30 respectively. It was a really nice touch get $50 from Inside Out Sports for my efforts! I'll put it to good use.

bringing it in

cool down run around the course with JB

Getting the 50 clams

1st, 2nd, 3rd: Me, JB, Chuck

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summertime Fun

It's been awhile since my last update so I thought I'd share some pictures of non-triathlon related summertime fun. I'm training hard and raced a few weeks back so I owe the blog a report, but that's for another post. Here's some pictures of the family fun we've been having

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lake Murray Triathlon Race Report

Well, it was the 3rd race in 3 weeks and I was as excited as ever to race. I just never get tired of it. I think I could do it every weekend if my body and family would allow it! But my body and family are telling me it’s time for some rest and rehab.

Back to the race: This weekend was a family affair so we got early (overslept nonetheless), quickly packed up the kids and gear and headed off to the race site. I got setup and took care of all necessary business with just enough time for quick swim warm up.

Being a sprint (750m swim) the whole race can be decided on the swim, so the plan was to go hard from start to finish. This race always draws a very strong field of athletes and Sunday was no exception. Floating in the unusually calm water I had a look around and surveyed the swim talent … Mike Wendt, Woody, Dan Moss, Chris Olson, Herbie Reeves. All these dudes can put time on me in the water; the plan was to try to limit the damage to put me in a good position to pass Wendt, Herbie and Woody on the bike. I figured I wouldn’t be able to catch Dan Moss or Chris on the bike. I thought I’d out-swim Parker but he’d pass me early on the bike. I intended to out-swim Cameron and hopefully keep him behind me. Last year Cameron and I swam stroke for stroke and then he flew past me on the bike.

Anyway, back to the race …

I took it out pretty hard and quickly got to that almost-uncomfortably-hard level and kept it there. Sighting was great, I stayed on the back of the front pack until sometime after the first turn and then swam the rest solo. Exiting the water someone from the crowed shouted out that I was 30 seconds back to the front. I looked down at my watch and saw 10 minutes something. I hit the lap button as I crossed the mat into transition right at 11 minutes. That was over 1 minute faster than last year. I was pretty stoked. The thing I was wrong about was out-swimming Parker; he really improved his swim which WAS his only weakness.

Running into transition I saw the lead swimmers at the rack getting wetsuits off and helmets on. I think at this point I was too concerned about the “race” and lost concentration on what I needed to be doing. When I got to my bike I hadn’t even begun to take my wetsuit off. That was a big mistake and cost some major time. Last year my t1 was 28 seconds, this year was 1:09. That’s HUGE in a sprint race!

Once out on the bike I pretty quickly made my way past Herbie and a few miles later, Mike Wendt as planned. It wasn’t long before I could see Woody up the road. It took nearly to whole ride to catch him but I eventually overtook with less than a mile to the finish.

I rode strong but regret taking the disk cover off which I think would have been advantageous. The wind was really strong the day before the race so I made the call to pull it off. I ended up with the 4th fastest bike split behind Parker, Chris and Dan.

Joe took this video on his handy iPhone

As you can see from the video my lead on Mark was minimal coming into T2. Again, it was a poor transition on my part. You can’t really hammer coming back into the park but I didn’t take advantage of that by getting out of my shoes on the bike. Well, Mark did and was able to pass me in T2 to take back 4th place and get about 40 meters ahead starting the run.

Once out on the run I wasn’t bringing Woody back at all, in fact he was expanding the gap. We looked to be close at the first out-and-back with Cameron chasing about a minute behind me but by the time I reached the turn around Mark had gained a good bit of ground and seemed to be running down the hills very fast.

Nearing the end of the run I checked to see if Cameron was in sight, which he wasn’t much to my relief. I finished with a good kick … perhaps too good. I’m thinking I left too much in the tank for that kick! I ended up with the 8th fastest run in 18:47.

Joe caught me looking back for Cameron on the iPhone

So I ended up in 5th place with a pretty sloppy race really. I need to be a little more focused on the details – which I will. But the swim was really good, the bike was good, and the run was so-so. I have a bit of an injury that’s kept me from running (except for racing) over the last few weeks so I attribute my not-so-stellar run split to diminishing run fitness.

There still seems to be a sizable gap between me (as well as a few others) and the top 3 guys in the series. But it’s closing! I love the process … I love the challenge. Slowly but surely I’m closing in … I know what needs to be done to get to the very top and (I hope) I’m figuring out how to do it. I’m already excited for the 2011 season of racing.

‘Til next race - Nick

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Try Charleston Half Race Report

Try Charleston Half Race Report

Result: 7th place, 5th Open, 4:31:34

I learned at lot from this race. And as the saying goes, you learn from your mistakes. While I’m somewhat disappointed in my placing and finish time, I know I’ve made gains because of it. It’s also important to note that many people were in the same boat as me … caught off guard by the difficulty of the conditions and course and therefore suffered badly on the run. I was in good company!

In contrast, seeing how Peter Kotland’s race unfolded was very insightful. He executed really well and I learned a lot seeing how he approached this race.

Overall Jennifer and I had a great time and it was nice to take a break from the daily routine of mommy and daddy. Chris Olson rode down with us and his wife, Laura, drove down a few hours later. Once at the race site we met up with Chuck Hiers and had a few beers at his camper. After a fairly average seafood dinner we headed back to the two bedroom suite we’d rented with the Olson’s and hit the sack.

On to the race:

We had a pretty large wave of Open and Masters Open men starting the swim together. I lined up behind a few guys including race favorite and eventual winner Kevin Lisska. I figured Lisska, Chris Olson, David Hall and Mike Wendt would go off the front and open a bit of a gap to a second group with me and Peter. I was right, by the first turn a gap had opened that couldn’t be closed and Peter and I stayed close through the first lap.

Once we hit the turn for the second lap I was right on Peter’s feet but all bets were off. By that point other waves had started their race and the traffic was heavy requiring careful navigation between and around bodies. I came out of the water in 26 and change with Peter 15 seconds ahead, although I made it out of transition first.

Once out on the bike I quickly settled into a pace that felt strong but comfortable. My HR stayed pretty jacked up for awhile in the 170s but after a few miles started to come down into the 160s. I looked back after about 5 or 6 minutes and didn’t see anyone.

By mile 11 I could see a group of 3 riders ahead. By mile 13 I’d passed David Hall. Soon after that I passed Mike Wendt and then around mile 17 I passed another guy I didn’t know. Once I gotten past the group of fish, I figured I was sitting in 3rd place but didn’t know for sure. The last guy I passed increased his pace and stayed on my wheel for about 5 miles before fading away.

Soon enough I was nearing the turn around and could see Chris leading with Lisska a few meters behind him. This confirmed that I was in third place which made me very happy! Shortly thereafter I was at the turn around and heading back into a cross headwind. This gave me the opportunity to see how much lead I had on the guys behind me. There was a group of 4 or 5 about 3 minutes back with the rest strung out behind them. At this point I decided to put as much time between myself and them as possible on the bike and see if I could hold them off on the run (mistake!!).

The rest of the ride continued to be a very lonely affair. I couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind and apart from passing group of roadies out for their Saturday morning group ride I didn’t have contact with anyone. At exactly mile 35 my Garmin 310xt locked up. I fiddled with it a little bit and then resolved myself to finish out the ride on perceived exertion not knowing HR, speed, distance etc. It didn’t bother me too much as I don’t rely on technology very often in training. It is quite possible though that I was riding harder than I should have from mile 35 – 56 with nothing but my thoughts driving me to get a big cushion of time. The last 6 miles of the ride were very difficult mentally and physically due to a steady headwind. I ended up with the 4th fastest bike split behind the two leaders Chris and Lisska and a hard-charging G-Man coming from behind. Thanks again Harrell's for the super-fast setup.

Getting off the bike I felt pretty good. The turn over was great and the crowd support in the fist ¼ mile was awesome. Running without the Garmin I’d have to rely on mile markers and my watch for splits. The first split I was interested in was my lead-time on the group behind me. A few minutes into the run and along comes a group of 4 or 5 on the bike. Kotland was in the group and flashed a big smile as he passed by. I figured I had about 5 minutes on them and knew I needed to have a strong and steady run to keep them behind me.

The first 4 miles clicked off pretty well at about 6:30 per mile. When I crossed paths with Lisska I could see that he’d opened a pretty big gap on Chris. A few minutes later I crossed paths with Chris. Shortly after I tried to stretch my quad by kicking my heel high and instantly the hamstring locked up in a cramp. That gave me the realization things were starting to turn south.

The first turn around was near mile 5 I think. Coming back the other direction I could see that Kotland and a few others were closing the gap to me and I was starting to really struggle to keep the legs turning over. Around mile 6.5 Peter caught me and went flying by. I had no illusions of trying to keep pace as he seemed to be running very strong and I was really beginning to suffer. Things started to get a little fuzzy at this point. I wasn’t all there in my mind … I was saying “good job” to the police officers and volunteers instead of “thank you” and was having a hard time doing the mathematical projections for my run slit, time left and finish time. I crossed paths Joe Dannelly and he said he was “praying me up”. I remember being very grateful because I certainly needed it!

From there it was pure survival mode. The rest of the run seemed to drag on FOREVER as the temperature was rising. From mile 13 to the finish was especially hard because it was actually like 1.4 miles, a cruel twist of fate. My pace had dropped to a near 8 minute shuffle. In addition to Kotland, 3 other guys came past me between mile 8 and the finish, dropping me back to 7th place.

Chris had an even worse run than me but had such a big lead coming off the bike that it only cost him 1 position and left him with the 3rd place podium spot. Peter had run his way to 2nd place by making up and erasing the 13 minute lead Chris had on him coming off the bike and putting another minute between them. Amazing! That’s a lesson in pacing the bike.

After the race we had a great time hanging out with friends, talking, eating and drinking. Unfortunately Chris was in a bad way and ended up in the ambulance getting IV fluids before he started to feel better. Jennifer and I went back to the hotel for a little R&R before heading out for a nice steak dinner at Longhorn and a few hours of shopping. What can I say, we’re troopers!

A recap of mistakes I made and things I’ve learned:

- Hydrate well before a long race. Don’t drink just coffee the morning of the race and lay off the beer the night before.
- Pacing on the bike is very important. Ride hard enough to put myself in a good position to start the run but easy enough to run near my best.
- Do more long rides in training so I’m not so fatigued coming off the bike
- Possibly lower my heart rate range for half iron racing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Langley Pond Sprint Triathlon Race Report

This is a super fun race that I’ve done twice before and I was so stoked to get to overall win. This was the second win of the 2010 season in only my second race. I have a feeling the streak ends next weekend at the Charleston Half where the competition will be ON!

Back in 2007, it was my very first triathlon ever. At the time I was thrilled to not be last in my age group and instead finished right in the middle. The following year (2008) I raced the international distance on a very stormy day where the bike course was shortened due to flooding. Last year I raced the sprint distance again and finished 2nd overall. This year it was once again rainy but without the thunder and lightening of 2008.

Pre-race went pretty smooth even though I let the family sleep-in to the very last minute before rousing them to get on the road down to Aiken, not giving myself much time to do all the pre-race stuff. But I finished setting up with plenty of time for a swim warm-up.

One of the things I like about this race is the beach start. I love running into the water and doing a couple of dolphin dives until the water is deep enough to start swimming. Once swimming I easily found a good rhythm with my breathing and was at the front of the group. There I sat with no one in front of me for about 250 meters before I was passed by Katharine Welling at which time I promptly got on her feet and tried hard to stay there.

Rounding the second turn back to shore she took what seem to me a strange line off to the right. At that point I decided to follow my own line to shore. I’m not sure if mine was better, worse or indifferent but by the time we reached the shore she had 20 seconds on me with everyone else several minutes back. I was 3rd fastest in the water. Gotta give big props to Katharine, she beat all the men and women with the fastest swim of the day!

Off on the bike I made my way up the 2 mile 4% grade and onto the rollers where I passed a few age group guys from the international distance race. I knew I was in the lead at that point but didn’t know by how much so I just kept pushing. I took the turns very carefully hoping not to get loose on the wet and somewhat sandy intersections. Once again the Scott Plasma did me really well with the fastest bike split of the day (thanks Harrell’s!!).

The crowd support was awesome coming in and out of T2. I made my way around the field and back onto the main road where I was able to get an assessment of my lead as the rest of the guys were coming in from the bike. It looked to be several minutes so I just set a solid pace until I could get another time check after the first turn around.

The turn around wasn’t where I expected as it had been pushed back quite a bit. Heading back towards the park I crossed paths with my competition once again and it seemed my lead had grown some. At that point I knew the win was in the bag and that I'd gapped the rest of the field by several minutes so I just enjoyed the rest of the notably-longer-than-5k run. 3rd fastest run with a moderately hard effort.

As I came down the finishing shoot I saw my wife, kids and mom standing out in then rain to cheer me in. I'm really blessed to have such supportive family and friends.

As for the athletes I train, I’m so proud of these guys. Every one of them puts in solid training and just keeps getting better and better.

Chuck Hiers: 5th overall in the sprint, 2nd place Open

Jason Thomas: 6th overall in the sprint with the 2nd fastest run and 3rd place in his age group.

Joe Dannelly: 2nd place Clydesdale, 18th overall in the sprint

Chip Edgar: completed his first International distance in 2hrs 45min with the 18th fastest swim.