I got a little lazy and forgot to put up a High Cliff Race Report so this one is going to get long with two race reports and then some thoughts on something new I tried this year … racing my way into shape.
2010 High Cliff Half Iron Distance
I tried to organize a Team EN Midwest HIM but the plans kind of fell through as people decided to do other races. Since a few folks were doing this I decided it would be fun and something different. I went into this race as a C race training right through the race (including the day before and after) but of course I still wanted to do well.
The swim was short but rough water made it hard to sight. I was really pleased with my 24:23 time which I figure would have been just under 30 minutes on the correct length course. I'm even more pleased that I was comfortable in the water the entire time which wasn't even the case last year.
The bike had a few decent but short climbs and otherwise was generally rolling hills, however the wind (that was causing the rough water) was brutal. It was pretty much a head or cross wind about 85% of the time and the tail wind was going up a hill. Anyway, the first 45 minutes was right on target. I was exactly on my goal watts and had passed the majority of the people in front of me and had open road. My plan was to now kick it up a little, but my legs disagreed and didn't have anything. I tried to push and never got into a groove so I just rode comfortable and tried to stay as aero as possible. I ended up only averaging just over my IM watts, but had a solid ride at 2:18:37 (the bike course was accurate at 56.1 miles on my computer).
Heading out on the run there was a half mile climb to start things out and then it was almost all trail running. This was only the second time I've run on a trail in the last 2 years…oops. At first I tried to just settle into a pace that felt right and was able to do that for the first 6 or so miles. I was way slower than my normal pace but now I realize that was due to the trail running. Starting the second loop I now had people to run with and someone yelled that I was in third place, so I kicked it up and really tried to push. That was dumb and ended up doing nothing more than rewarding me with a horrible side stitch around mile 10. I ended up walking a portion of mile 11 and 12 and then just barely holding it together to jog across the line. 1:24:53 on the run but it was almost a half mile short.
Overall, I had a great result though that I am very proud of 4:09:53 which earned me 4th overall and 2nd in age group. Jim Hansen from EN and local fast guy Rick Lapinski both also had also great races. Knowing I can't slack off one bit or these guys are going to catch me helps keep me motivated.
High Cliff Pictures
2010 Twin Lakes Triathlon
This is a local race I just found out about this year so I figured being 30 minutes from my house I had to try it once. After signing up a friend mentioned it was draft legal on the bike which I found hard to believe for safety reasons.
I had high expectations going into this race as it was a 700m swim, 14.5 mile bike and 4.5 mile run… which for a sprint suited me well (longer bike and run than most). I had a great run the morning after High Cliff and nailed every workout during the week including an FTP test (setting the highest FTP I've ever had in the aerobars). Then Saturday I just died on my bike ride. The plan was to do 2:30 at around 85% and then run 30 minutes easy off the bike. I was on target for about 1:10 and then just blew up and could barely put any power out. I cut it short and got home in just under 2 hours struggling to hold onto an IF of .82. I decided to skip the run and instead went to the pool where I had a great swim (go figure). This got me pretty worried about the race today. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise as I showed up to this racing thinking I was overstrained and needing a day off… therefore throwing my goals out the window and deciding just to race by feel.
Swim 9:54 for 700m (1:24/100M)
The water was 78 and felt great so I decided to without a wetsuit again even after knowing I lost time because of it at LITH. Knowing I have to swim an Ironman without one this year has me focused on my swim. That focus and lots and lots of drills is paying off though. I started wide and just wanted to have a clear and good swim. I was working really hard in the water, but it felt good so I stuck with it. About ¾ of the way through I starting passing people from the first wave (I was in the second wave, 2 minutes back). That gave me a good boost and went hard the rest of the way in, coming out of the water and seeing under 10 minutes on my watch got me even more fired up (my original goal was to go under 11:00).
Bike 33:32 for 14.5 miles (26 MPH)
Starting the bike excited about my great swim was pretty cool and put me in a much better mood than usual. There was a mile or so of admin paths on the bike and once I got through that I just got as aero as I could settle in at my FTP and went. 8-9 miles in a saw a pack of about 6 guys riding basically in a pace line … now I'm starting to realize this really was draft legal and my slower swimming and second wave start may put me at a disadvantage. I held steady and slowly caught the group and then went hard for about 2 minutes to get around them and away from them. This worked and I could see two more guys up in the distance. A few minutes later I caught them went around and they stuck with me. I was kind of a jerk and moved around a lot as I didn't like having someone right on my wheel in his aerobars. After a few turns I looked back and said I guess this really is draft legal he said yes and had had a few pleasant comments. I was getting ready to hammer again and try and take off but I decided since he was moving along well and seemed like a nice guy it might benefit us both to work together a little. I still rode at my target watts the majority of the last few miles, but I did get a few nice short breaks when he went up front and we came into T2 together. All in all, I think it was a great decision as I came into T2 feeling strong instead of crushing myself on the last few miles to get away and try and catch the next guy. The course was nice and flat, but had so many turns that it was really hard to keep the speed up so I was shocked that my average MPH was so high.
Run 26:40 for 4.5 miles (5:55 min/mile)
Running through T2 I only saw one bike in the transition which gave me a great boost knowing that I started in the second wave and hoping the guys in front started in the first. Right out of T2 I felt the spot where I had the side stitch last week start to tighten so I slowed down focused on my form and breathing. I decided to just get everything under control and then worry about pace later. It worked as the stitch went away in about 4 minutes and I ended up running the first mile at 5:58. From then on I just tried to run steady and run my race. At just before mile 3 started I could see the lead vehicle way in a distance I really wanted to run hard to catch it but I know I had to just stick with my pace. I was steadily making up just a little bit of time and just after the 4 mile marker I passed first place, but he quickly went in front of me. We ended up running shoulder to shoulder for a minute or two and then when I knew we were within about a quarter mile I went hard to the finish and ended up crossing first.
Total 1:11:43 - 1st Overall!!!
Lesson Learned – I need to relax more on race day and just let things happen instead of getting mad or forcing myself to hit targets.
Twin Lakes Pictures
As usual none of this would be possible without the great support crew I have. Theresa and Abigail continue to be amazing; they put up with all my training and make it to every race. Abigail has turned into quite the little good luck charm for me and Theresa has become an awesome photographer. I really wouldn't be nearly as successful without them.
The Zoot Sports team makes awesome products for me to race in and more importantly recover in. Plus Jake is on top of everything and always makes sure I have what I need. My teammates on the Zoot Ultra Team continue to inspire me and push me to do my best and are a great group. I'm really glad I've had to opportunity to work with them this year.
Rich, Patrick and all of Team Endurance Nation provide the best virtual training team anywhere, with plans that work and a great community to help me continue to learn how to improve.
Kevin and his team at Get a Grip Cycles is there for for whatever I need to make sure my bike is in top
Additionaly, John Fitzpatrick from the Chicago Blue Dolphins has been helping me out with my swim stroke. I've seen great improvements thanks to his assessments.
Racing my way into shape
Last year I was focused on one thing and one thing only for over 12 months, Ironman Wisconsin. Every single thing I did was to prepare for IMWI and for that reason I raced very little so I could get optimal training in. It worked very well and I showed up in the best shape of my life and ready to race. The year before was similar but focused on Boston Qualifying, so this year I decided to do things different and have some fun.
To have some fun, I decided to run Boston and also do a bunch of other races that I've wanted to do but skipped in the past so I could focus on my training. The plan this year was to do a few of those races but some how a few turned into 5 races and a training camp in 6 weeks. I didn't really realize that I did this until after I had signed up for everything and paid all the entry fees. Since I never turn down a challenge I decided to try and train straight through all of this and see how I could do… race my way into shape.
Now that I did that I have mixed thoughts. I had a ton of fun at most of the races and some awesome results with 3 overall wins and many PRs. But I also had a few races I would consider sub-par as my legs were trashed before I even started. All in all, I think it was very successful though as I only skipped one scheduled long run and got every other planned workout in except for the days I was actually racing.
In hindsight, like usual I do everything a little too extreme. Barely racing and focusing on training only last year was a little much, but 5 races in 6 weeks (plus a mini cycling camp) this year was also a little much. Next year I'm just going to go for the middle of the road approach and spread things out a little more.
A weekend off from racing! Followed by the EN Madison Camp and then Ironman 70.3 Racine. After that I'm going back to my own little training world to do 12 weeks of ironman training.