Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 High Cliff & Twin Lakes Race Reports

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

Thank You
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.

Up next
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.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

2010 Lake in the Hills Triathlon

It's no secret that I prefer long distance events. I would rather do a half ironman distance race or run a marathon/half marathon any day then do anything shorter. My body is just more comfortable going long than going fast and my results show this. Both on the bike and run I am much stronger at long events than short events. Plus, I have much more time to catch up after my poor swim. Therefore I decided that this year I was going to do some shorter distance work to get out of my comfort zone so I signed up for some sprint distance triathlons.

Lake in the Hills Triathlon is only the second sprint I have ever done and the first was 5 years ago. All I can say is going 100% for over an hour hurts much differently than ironman.

The official results are not posted online yet, but my watch data was really close to the print out at the race, so I'm using those numbers here:

Swim 750 Meter – 13:48 (1:50/100M)
T1 – 0:46
Bike 15.4 Miles – 36:18 (25.4 mph)
T2 – 0:56
Run 4 Miles – 23:38 (5:55 min/mil)

Total 1:15:08 – 1st in Age Group but 4th overall. I was within 30 seconds of 2nd an 3rd, but about 2 minutes behind the winner. Well 20 minutes total since my wave started 18 minutes later than theirs did J

What went well:
  • The new Orbea Ordu and Zipp Wheels combined with the Endurance Nation training sure worked out well. From what I could see of the results posted at the race I had the fastest bike split of the day.
  • I continue to love the Zoot Ultra Race 2.0s. They slipped on fast in T2 and I was off. My feet were comfortable sockless and the shoes are nice and light. It looked like I had the second fastest run split of the day as well.
  • I was a little rusty on the transitions but overall they went well and were decently quick. From what I could tell they were on par with the fastest times of the day.

  • Considering I hate short stuff, getting first in my Age Group was nice.
Lessons Learned:
  • When a Tri is named Lake in the Hills… the bike and run are probably hilly. Not sure why but I was not expecting it to be nearly as hilly of a ride as it was.
  • Sign up early. I signed up just last week for this race and they had already seeded everyone in waves by finish time so I was just put into one of the last waves. Not that I'm that fast swimmer but I had to swim around a TON of people.
  • Wear a wetsuit if you can. I have to race Hawaii without a wetsuit this year so I decided I should try racing without one sometime, the water was 71 so I left the wetsuit behind. I'm pretty sure I should have just worn it as it would have helped my swim. I was over 3 minutes behind the FOP guys.
  • Even though it was cool, the 90%+ humidity slowed me down a little on the run. I need to acclimate and learn how to handle the humidity better before October.
Triathlon is definitely not an individual sport for me and without the support of many people I would not be successful or able to enjoy this sport as much as I do.
  • Thank you to Theresa, Abigail, my parents, aunt and uncle, and cousin for coming out to the race.
  • Of course thanks to Zoot, Orbea, Zipp and Get A Grip for hooking me up with awesome equipment to race on.
  • Thanks to Endurance Nation and the Fast Tracks Racing Team for continuing to push me to train hard

Friday, June 11, 2010

New TT Bike!!!

Thanks to the Zoot, Orbea, Zipp, and Get A Grip Cycles I have an awesome new bike to race on this year.

If you are in the market for a new Road, TT, or Mountain bike, check out Orbea's Made to Order program.  It allows you to customize your bike to include the components (frame, bars, stem, group, crank, seat post, seat and wheels) you want instead of having to settle for standard build package.  Then you print out a list of exactly what you want and take it to a local bike shop (like Get A Grip Cylces) and then order it from Orbea.  For people like me (i.e. very picky) this is a great option.  Trek also has a similar but even more customizable program (you can request custom paint jobs, bar tape and cable housing colors).  More bike companies need to get the hint and make programs like this and offer them on multiple levels of bikes.

Chris from Team Sports was awesome at helping to get exactly what I needed from Orbea and Zipp and once I got the bike, Kevin at Get A Grip offered to have it built up for me.  I really appreciated the offer but it was going to be a few days before I could make it to the store, so being inpatient I just built it myself.

A few months ago I did a very detailed fit on a fit cycle/computrainer with Ken.  Ken basically started over and figured out what my "ideal" fit would be and then we made adjustments to my current bike.  We really only made minor adjustments such as saddle height and fore/aft position but the same adjustments made a difference pretty quick as I picked up a few more watts at FTP within the next two weeks. 

After getting the Ordu built up and riding for a week or two I did go into Get A Grip again to have them double check everything and check my fit. Adam did the fit check on the Ordu and made some additional adjustments to my cleat position to again help me produce a little more power. 

In the past I have mostly self fit myself with videos and help from teammates.  Even though my position still looks the same It's amazing what a difference a CM adjustment here or there can make.  The one thing I have learned over the last few years is the fit is what makes a bike. The best TT bike in the world is useless if you can't stay in the aerobars or put out power on it. Also, make sure your fitter knows your goals as the fit will change. GAG takes time to take your measurements including flexibility and then discuss your goals with you, prior to starting the fitting process on a fit cycle.
The bikes not 100% dialed in yet, but close and it's time to start the tri season now so I figured I would share a few pictures.

And a picture of the road bike since I cleaned it up a little this year as well.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random Updates

Last year I blogged quite a bit more about my training mainly because I was trying something new by following Endurance Nation Plans for an entire year. This year I haven't really mentioned training much because last year worked out quit well so I'm sticking with it. Here is a quick summary for those that are interested:

Last Year: 20 weeks of Out Season – 1 week vacation – 12 weeks HIM Plan – 2 week transition - 12 weeks IM Plan – time off until next season

This Year: 26 weeks OS – 1 week off (with a Marathon thrown in for fun) – 6 weeks OS/Basic Month – 6 weeks HIM – 12 weeks IM – time off

Basically the same schedule just slightly adjusted since my biggest race is in October instead of September this year.

I'm again going to do a Big Bike Weekend and Big Tri Weekend this year. I would love to be able to do a full week, but life just doesn't allow that so I make the best with what I can do.

Big Bike Weekend:
Last weekend about 10 other EN members joined me in the Madison area for a quick camp. I covered 320 miles (with 14,000 feet of climbing) in a little over 17 hours spread across 4 days. This felt like the right amount of work, I trained like normal up until the weekend, and then only took one day off after. Thanks to Rich and Patrick we had a great team dinner as well.

Here are a few pictures:

Thanks to Jake from Zoot, I had everything I could
possibly need for a weekend of riding
and a great bag to carry it all.

My Big Tri Weekend will be in July in Madison again, but instead of being alone like last year EN is hosting a Free Training Camp. Come join us.

I also divide my racing season up into a few phases: Out Season with no races that I care about, Running Season from March to May, HIM Season from June to July, and IM Season from August to October.
On the racing front, two weeks ago an old friend let me know about a small 5k about a mile from my house. I decided to run it for fun and ended up winning. I was going to start conservatively but a few people took off so I went hard right off the start. Not a PR but it was a good workout and I won a free massage!

Other News:
The win at the Chicago Spring Half Marathon has got me a fair bit of attention, so much that I was selected as the Cliff Bar Male Athlete of the Month in Chicago Athlete Magazine. If you are in Chicago, pickup a free copy from your favorite cycling, running or tri shop… I recommend Get A Grip Cycles. Otherwise you can find the full issue online at .

Up next:
June marks the transition out of pretending to be a runner and means it is now time to start racing triathlons again. I have 2 Half Ironman distance races and at least one shorter race in the next 6 weeks, then I will start to think about Kona in late July. I'm kind of excited about doing a shorter race or two. I realized this winter I have only done one sprint ever and the last time I did a race shorter then a HIM was 3 years ago.

Thanks for following along.