Monday, May 12, 2014

St. George 70.3 US Pro-Championships Race Report

My 2014 season opened with the 70.3 in Galveston, TX with a new 70.3 PR of 4:03:05. While I was aiming for a sub 4 hour half Ironman I was happy that despite an injured IT band I was able to see some improvements from the off season training. I went into St. George with modest expectations given the tough course, Kona quality pro-field, and still battling IT injuries. 

24:30, New PR by over 1:30!!

After a success swim at Galveston and having my best week in the pool leading into St. George I felt very confident about my swim. Heading down to the water seeing many of the male pros that I only ever see on TV at Kona was a rather surreal experience. Was amazing to get to line up along side the worlds best in the sport. As the gun went off I was able to position myself towards the front of the second pack but unfortunately missed the break when the lead group splits. After taking stock of the gap they were able to open after the first turn I decided that I wouldn't be able to close the gap to them and slotted into 2nd / 3rd position in the chase pack to conserve energy and stick with the remaining pack. I honestly didn't think we were swimming as fast as we were until exiting the water and seeing the clock on the shore reading just over 24 minutes. The water exit immediately put us running up a hill to the bike racks and after accidentally missing the wet suit strippers I lost a few seconds struggling to get my wet suit off. I want to thank Coach Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters for coaching my swim workouts.

2:28:30 - oh how the hills kept coming

Out of transition, we proceeded onto the bike course where we faced over 4,000' of climbing on the day. After having trained in Texas and Florida from January till the race I wasn't prepared for the severity of the hills of the pace that the top men would be able to keep on them. I was paced by Sebastian Kienle and Jordan Rapp a few miles into the bike course and was astonished at the speed those guys were pumping out. The first 10 miles of the bike were quite cold as the water temp was only 59/60 F and the beginning of the bike course was shaded by several cliffs and the low early morning sun. I learned the importance of really studying not only the terrain but also the sun exposure (or lack there of) today. Most triathlons are famous for heat and wind but I learned that cool conditions can also be a feature of some courses. I struggled to get my legs engaged and muscles warmed up until we were onto the Red Hills Parkway and by this point I was having serious issues with my right IT band and excessively low HR's. As we rolled into the infamous hills of the Snow Canyon State Park I did all I could to manage the time lost throughout the bike course but entering T2 and seeing many of the bikes already racked was not an uplifting site. I definitely took away some important lessons from this race heading into a solid training block before my next scheduled race in Vineman, CA. i let the race slip away from me when many of the top men rode past me after exiting the water in front of them. Assuming that I would not be able to hold their pace I simply allowed the race to pass me by instead of trying to elevate my performance to what would be necessary for the day. I also learned the importance of continuing to eat even when the climate isn't as demanding as many races are. Only eating 400 calories on the bike for 56 miles doesn't leave your body with anything to call on to be able to push - learned this the hard way and I will make sure to learn from this going forward.


Out on the run, we meditatively began to climb back up onto Red Hills Parkway for what would be an out and back 13.1 miles. While I knew that I wasn't going to have the performance that I was looking for today I wanted to try and improve upon my run split from Galveston three weeks before despite the nearly 2,000 feet of climbing that lay ahead. Leading into the race we felt that if I paced better then at Galveston and held back more the first few miles that I should be able to run a 1:20 half marathon and so it was to be. Not making the same mistake on the bike and ensuring that I took in proper nutrition throughout the run course I was able to rebound some and made up a few places in the race and finished the run split exactly were we had pegged it from training. The hilly course did however beat up on my legs and IT's even more and definitely contributed to needing a full week off after the race before resuming training a few days ago. As we resume training we are taking a new approach to my run training in the short term, in order to let my legs heal up and try and give the inflammation time to fully subside, though long runs being done in the pool and increasing core and weight training to build future durability. Hopefully with an aggressive PT strategy for the remaining weeks in May I will be back to full strength in time to race Vineman and Calgary 70.3's before entering my final build block to prep for IMWI in early September. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What makes a Successful Swim

     As I look back at this past weekends race in Galveston one of the best take always I had in my pro debut was my swim, over a minute faster from last years despite the horrendous waves and was the ninth male pro out of the water. 

    One of the reasons for this success and indeed the success I have been having since coming on board with Tim Floyd and the Magnolia Masters Swim program is the emphasis on swim stroke technique and building efficiency. Most triathletes don't have 20 hours just to spend on swimming and therefore we need to maximize the time we do have in the pool. By building top end speed to be able to go out with the front pack and then having the stroke efficiency to hold will them once they dial back their pace we have been able to achieve great success with only 5 to 7 hours in the pool each week.

   One of my favorite sets for replicating race day conditions is doing repeat 400's where the first 100 is done at 95% effort and then dialing the next 300 back to your endurance effort. This really helps train the body to be able to push a fast gear for the beginning of the race and then go straight into your endurance pace for the remainder of the set.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Galveston 70.3 Pro-Debut

My 2013 season ended with the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii with a rather disappointing finish as my last AG race. Quad & IT injuries crept up on me over the summer and hampered my performance on the big island. Following a three week hiatus from training I traveled up to Calgary for the winter where I focused on increasing my power on the bike since my bike split at Kona was so poor compared to the rest of the field / division. Pain in Quads & IT's kept me from being able to put in the necessary run volume to build any real confidence that my injuries would simply dissolve through pure rest. I spent time at the Calgary Downtown Sports Clinic having my run and muscular forms analyzed. Weak hip flexors and stabilizers were identified as the probably cause to my pain and have since been completing PT to fix my muscle imbalances. This will be an on going process that will probably take till the end of the year before it really starts to get better. Following a few months in Canada I traveled down to Houston to train with the my team OutRival Racing in The Woodlands, Texas for most of January. Was definitely nice to be able to get back outside to train. I then headed off to Florida to train with QT2 at their pro-training camp in Clermont Florida. It was one of the best experiences of my life getting to train along side their pro athletes and some of the top people in the sport. Was also one of the hardest. Haha. Never have I trained so much for three weeks straight but it definitely paid off in Galveston where I was able to shave off an additional 4:30 off my bike split from last year despite the incredible winds we had to cope with.

26:02, 9th out of the water

After worrying about the weather all week I was happy to wake up on race morning and see that we were not engulfed in thunderstorms. High winds however turned what is normally a very flat swim into a very nasty chop. I felt very confident about my swim thanks to Coach Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters. The weeks leading up to the race I had been swimming some of my best times and knew that I should be able to stick with most of the main field. The choppy weather and overcast skies delayed the start until we had a bit more light but even with the additional time when the gun went off sighting was extremely difficult. A few of the guys in the field took off and left the main field behind to struggle through the waves to the first turn buoy and the choppy waves kept pushing me off course and adding time to my swim. Once we made the first turn I was able to settle into a comfortable pace and started to work my way but up through the field putting myself in a pretty good position of 9th out of the water and heading into T1. I was extremely happy with my swim as I entered T1 seeing on the clock that I had gone just over 26 minutes (over a minute faster from last year) despite the unusually rough conditions.

2:12:21 (25.4 mph), 22nd off the bike

Out of transition, we proceeded onto the bike course where we all knew we would have a full tail wind pushing us out to the turn around and a massive head wind to greet us on the way home. The first 28 miles to the turn around took a mere 55 minutes and change averaging just over 30mph and this was only slowed by the fact that I ran out of gears.

At the halfway point, a vicious headwind slammed the field and brought a lot of the field back together. At the turn around point I was greeted by my fellow teammate and professional triathlete Matt Hanson. We both looked at each other and just joked about the wind feeling like it was actually pushing us backwards and that we weren't actually able to make any forward progress. A group of us rode together for the first 15 miles of the return trip but then I began to suffer a bit as my left IT band began to tighten up and hurt quite badly. Luckily it didn't seize completely as it had in Kona and I was able to close back on the group over the last 10 miles and entered transition with a group of about 10 other athletes and on pace to break 4 hours for the first time

1:21:37 (6:13/mi)

Out on the run, the immediately began to feel my IT bands continue to tighten up and knew that it was probably only a matter of time before my run pace really began to suffer. The 180 degree turns on the course (2 on each of the three laps) also began to take a big toll on my legs as I was having to break stride and accelerate back up to speed. I was able to hold between 5:45 and 6:05 miles for the first 8 miles but then the wheels came off. The last 5 miles (roughly the whole third lap of the run course) was one of the most painful of my life. I felt like I couldn't actually push off and it was all I could do to just salvage my run. It was very depressing to watch the miles slow from 6:00 to 6:30 to 6:50 by the end and know that my goal time of sub four hours was going to be missed by a few minutes.

I crossed the line in 4:03:05 which while being a 4:30 minute PR was not satisfying in anyway. Galveston definitely showed me that my fitness level while it has improved is still far below where it needs to be and specifically my run form needs a great deal of work. I'm not in any discouraged but if anything more determined to improve my fitness and form and show that by season's end.  

I'd like to give a special thanks to my Coach Michelle Leblanc of OutRival Racing and my Swim Coach Tim Floyd of Magnolia Masters.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Bird Training, Only in Reverse

So while most people head south for the winter's and north for the summer's, I seem to be doing it in reverse. I'm spending the beginning part of the winter up in Calgary and then heading down to Texas for the spring and summer months. I think I may have gotten this a little backwards. Haha. At least it was finally above freezing yesterday, first time in about two weeks, but only lasted for the day. Today back down in the low 20's with chindwills in the teens. I guess that 12 mile run will be on the treadmill after all

2014 Race Schedule

While this will always be a work in progress my tentative 2014 pro race schedule is as follows
  • April 6th - Galveston 70.3
  • May 3rd - St. George 70.3 (US Pro Championships)
  • June 15th - Boulder 70.3 (tentatively) 
  • July 13th - Vineman 70.3 
  • July 27th - Calgary 70.3 
  • September 7th - IM Wisconsin

Kona Race Recap

Well it has been a long time since I've written on my blog so I won't try to cover everything. Following IMTX back in May I resigned from my full time engineering position at ExxonMobil and began to pursue my dream of being a full time professional triathlete. My girlfriend and I began a 6 month trek throughout the United States moving from race to race and finding some pretty amazing places along the way to train and travel. We started out in Wisconsin staying in Devil's Lake State Park for about 2 months during July and August. The area was a great place for hill training compared to Texas and the State Park is one of the premier rock climbing areas in the Midwest which was a great cross training activity and a shared passion for my girl friend and I. I raced at Racine 70.3 at the end of July and had a very disappointing at 4:16 due to an IT band injury on my right leg, that I would come to find out would stick with me most of the summer. After Racine I raced at the USAT Age Group Olympic National Championships in Milwaukee, WI and had a PR at the olympic distance of 1:58:21 and finished just of the podium in 6th place.

Next we headed to the western US out to Colorado to stay with my uncle just outside Colorado Springs. While I have been to Colorado dozens of times on family vacations growing up and for work, I've never been able to train in the mountains the way I did this time. Getting to do 130 mile rides in the mountains outside the Springs and Denver where absolutely beautiful. I can definitely see why all the pros move to Boulder to live and train. The most epic ride I had was riding from Denver out through Golden and along the peak to peak highway, down through Boulder and back to Denver. It pained me to see all the reports on the flooding that was going on there knowing how beautiful on area that is. The flooding also affected us over in  the Springs area with the pool in Manitou Springs getting closed due to the flooding and much of the downtown area was heavily damaged. While we were there we managed to make several day trips to Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Open Space, and even hike up to the summit of Pikes Peak. What a  view!!

After four weeks in Colorado we headed off to Utah to see Moab, Arches NP, and Zion & Bryce NP's. We started off in Moab and got to spend a week roaming the area and seeing both Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks. Moab was probably my favorite part of our trip and had some of the best road biking I've ever ridden on. We definitely plan on going back next year but will be bringing mountain bikes next time!! Next up was Zion and Bryce National Parks. While I was hoping for some heat training we seemed to have missed the heat and were hit with some pretty cold days and especially nights. I was finally thankful that we had been carrying some extra blankets for our trip or it would have been mighty cold in that tent. Haha. I had been to Zion & Bryce in 2010 but had forgotten just how beautiful it was. We also made several new friends at the campground we stayed at for almost two weeks and even meet some other pro-triathletes, Heather and Trevor Wurtele. Very nice people. Our trip to Zion and Bryce got cut a little short due to the government shut down but luckily we got to see all of the major attractions we wanted to see.

So finally after almost 4 months of traveling we headed to Seattle to fly out to Kona. The flight out and days leading up to the race were just a blur of trying to stay relaxed and getting mentally prepared to race. Going into the race I knew that I was most likely not going to be able to showcase my true fitness due to my right IT band flaring back up only a few weeks before the race. Race day couldn't have been better weather if we had planned it. The swim start was the most hectic that I have even been apart of. Luckily after months of training with Tim Floyd I was able to get out in the front of the swim pack and was able to get into the lead pack. My swim time wasn't the greatest at 56 but after looking at everyone's times it seems like the swim was a little slow this year. I came out of the water in 10th in my AG and headed out onto the bike to see what my leg would let me do for the day. Apart from a bit of a head wind on the way back into town the winds were pretty light and the temps were pretty cool. Unfortunately I couldn't hammer the bike without risking locking up my right leg completely and not being able to complete the run. I had a very disappointing bike ride at 5:16 but luckily I was able to get off and by really holding my form as solid as I could run a 3:35 marathon. All in all I don't consider my first trip to the Big Island as any kind of success apart from being exposed to the course and atmosphere that is out there and that is something worth it's weight in gold for years to come. I accepted my pro card based on my race result at the beginning of the year at the IMTX 70.3 in Galveston where I finished as the 3rd overall amateur and went 4:08:49 (PR at the 70.3 distance). After Kona we headed out to Maui for a little over a week to enjoy some of the island fun and relax after such a hectic year. The snorkeling and hiking were just amazing and the weather was perfect. or in other wards Hawaii haha, for our whole trip. Can't wait to start it all again in 2014 with the Galveston 70.3 as my debut pro race.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kona - Let the Journey Begin

After enjoying last week off from training it's time to start my Kona training. My race at Ironman Texas was quite successful for my first race at a full Ironman distance but it also pointed out several areas I need to improve upon. Most notably the back half of the marathon and my nutrition on the bike. Looks like I have many long BRICK sessions to come this summer. Can't wait to let it all begin.