Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Ironman World Championship Race Report

Going into Kona this year was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me.  Ironman training always has it's ups and downs but this year was particularly challenging.  I had a huge high after IMAZ but deep down I was ready for a break from Ironman racing.  Part of me wanted to pass on the Kona slot, but I just couldn't do it.  Then after I took it my mind started figuring out ways to get to sub-9.  To make a long story short, I got a little to amped up early in the year and pushed a little too hard trying to get my run speed back.  Then I rode the roller coaster for the rest of the season and never really got into a groove.  Things got tough and I lost the motivation to push myself to be my best.  I went through the motions to get the training I needed done but my heart wasn't in it.

For this reason I didn't post much at all leading up to Kona as I really didn't know what to expect and I didn't want to make excuses or set expectations. Instead I decided I wanted to make the most out of the Kona experience and the fitness I had.

Like most races, I have mixed feels about my race.  On the positive side, this was the most enjoyable Ironman experience for me yet.  I slowed down and truly enjoyed the entire day (and vacation).  This is what I should have done when I went to Kona for the first time, but in 2010 I was in the best shape of my life and got carried away trying to race.  Ironically, I showed up in 2013 with a lower FTP, lower VDOT and weighing the most I have in years, but I executed well and actually went 6 minutes faster.  At the end of the day this was my best executed Ironman and I had zero issues all day... I just never hit my groove and was slow all day.  In fact this was the first time I had zero nutrition issues or cramping of any sort all day.

On the negative side though, I'm a bit embarrassed.  I showed up a few pounds heavier than I have been the last few years and with the lowest bike and run fitness.  It shows in my result as I should have been about 20-40 minutes faster than I was.

Either way, I'm pleased with how the day went and I'm excited I was able to truly enjoy the experience this time around.  Now it is time for a break from Ironman racing next year to recharge.  I'm looking forward to racing short course to race more often and have a bit of fun.

If you are interested here is a little more of a play by play of the day.

Swim - 1:06
I started WAY to the left and stayed wide at the turns. I managed to swim 2.69 miles with no contact at all and even looked around a few times to enjoy the view.  This was probably 3-5 minutes slower that I would have went if I swam in the pack and found some feet.  It was well worth it though as I came out of the swim feeling great and like I was just getting started.  In 2010, I felt like I was boxing for an hour and came out of the water pissed off.

T1 - 5 minutes
I took my time, washed the salt water off, had a drink, got sunblock/vaseline, and thanked the volunteers.  It was great, but took forever :-)

Bike - 5:02
Seeing as I rode over 4 hours exactly once since last season, I didn't know what to expect.  My plan was just to ride really easy out to Hawi, survive the cross winds and then re-evaluate.  To my surprise there was practically no wind in Hawi and the descent was actually enjoyable, until the turn back onto the Queen K when the headwind hit.  The good thing was since I took the first half easy, the headwind was no big deal and I just plugged along and slowly passed people.  I ended up averaging 15 watts less than 2010 but came off the bike feeling good.

T2 - 4 minutes
Once again I relaxed and took my time.  I made a pit stop, got more sunblock/vaseline, and left T2 in a slow jog.

Run - 3:44
The first 10 miles flew by and I smiled the entire way.  My legs were heavy and slow but overall I felt good and was holding back.  As expected, reality set in when I hit the Queen K and the run was no longer easy, but it wasn't hard either.  When I got to the energy lab I was tired of running and just wanted to be done.  Things got hard and I made a decision that I could walk some in the energy lab to allow myself to finish strong.  I ended up taking two walk breaks and then started running again when I hit the Queen K.  I made it and although it was a struggle at the end I ran all the way back to finish.

Overall - 10:02
Seeing as I never really dug deep or pushed myself, I was able to smile and enjoy almost the entire day.  Plus I never got sore post race and was able to start enjoying vacation right away.

Ironman is never an individual effort so I have many people to thank.

  • Theresa and Abigail for a 5th year in a row of Ironman spectating and 10 years now of supporting me.
  • My family for making the trip to Hawaii to support me on race day and then have a great vacation.
  • Zoot for 4 years of support now.  The best sponsor ever.
  • Ceepo for giving me the opportunity to ride the Katana this year, which was exactly the bike I wanted.
  • Coach Phil for keeping me from digging the hole too deep and getting me out in time to have the most enjoyable Ironman race yet.

Next year, I'm going to change things up a bit and focus on racing short course triathlons.  This will give me a chance to focus on my weaknesses and race more often/closer to home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kona 2013 Bike Setup

I can't believe that in just over a week my bike will be starting it's journey to Hawaii.  

I will be racing on my 2013 Ceepo Katana.  As I posted previously, I choose this bike as it is a prefect combination of a modern aero bike that is still practical to work on and travel with.  The Katana has been solid as a rock all season and the more I ride it the more I like it.

Today was a cold and rainy fall day so I took the opportunity to ride inside and then get the Katana all dressed up for Kona.  Here are a few highlights of the setup.

This time around I am racing on a 404/808 firecrest combo with GP4000s tires, latex tubes, and some Stan's sealant.  Sure the sealant wouldn't have help with the tire slash I got in Kona 2010, but it did save me at Ironman Arizona last year when I found 2 thorns in my tube after the race.

Just in case I have another tire mishap, I was able to get just about everything I need under/behind the saddle.  I was a long time fan of zip ties to hold bottle cages but I decided to use the X-lab products this year as it allowed me to also attach two CO2s, a tire lever, and inflator in between the cage and saddle.  Under the saddle I was able to fit a spare tube and valve extender.  The X-Lab gorilla cage is awesome for behind the saddle as I have yet to launch a bottle.

Up front, I also used to always rely on zip ties but this year used a simple mount that attaches to the compression plug in the fork.  This allowed me to easily zip time my salt stick right to the cage and keeps it out of the wind.  I actually prefer to have the cage facing the rear but I found that I ejected bottles with it that way.  Once i turned it forward again, the bottle has always stayed in.

I think the bike looks great from the front.  Sure it isn't as narrow as some of the latest super bikes but the Katana is super easy to work, takes any stem on and still quite aero with all the cables nicely tucked away.  The Tri-Rig Omega front brake also works awesome and is aero.  I always switched to the Bontrager aero brake levers with the built in adjusters as it makes switching wheels much easier.

Once again I will be using TriBike Transport so that I don't have to deal with the packing, and shipping or traveling with a bike headaches.  The best part is after the race I can roll the bike right down the street to TBT and start vacation!

I'll get another post up soon with an update on my training.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2013 USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals Race Report

Olympic Distance racing or Age Group Nationals was never something on my radar.  I have always enjoyed (and done well at) long course racing and therefore I have never focused on short events.  But when I found out AG Nationals were going to be in Milwaukee I figured I should take advantage of it being close by.

Thanks to Theresa and Abigail for joining me for another race-cation, I have plenty of pictures and can pretty much tell my race report by pictures.

 I was unusually relaxed before the race, maybe too relaxed.

Swim - 24:30 -  I probably could have swam just as fast if I just floated on my back behind the 76 people in my wave that finished before me.

Bike - 57:53 - Ok but not great bike.  Power numbers were low, but not horrible and I managed to stay very aero and get the most out of the power I did have.

Feeling great

and then not so great

Run - 36:43 - First 5 miles felt awesome.  Then reality set in and the last mile was a rough one but I managed to hold it together.

Overall - 2:02:12 - I managed to work my way up from 76th to 12th AG and qualified for Team USA for 2014 ITU Worlds.  More importantly I didn't try to force anything on the swim/run and was able to finish with a solid run.

Now on to the long part:

Lessons Learned

  • Gadgets during racing.  It was pretty easy for me to learn to use my power/pace targets to hold me back early on in races.  What I didn't learn until last year (and am still working on) is that I can't expect to go to every race and just sit at my target power/pace all day long.  In the past I've forced myself to hold a target number even when my body wasn't into it and those races never ended well.  Sometimes I have to just ignore the target and just go with what my body has that day and see what happens.
  • Most of the time I blame bike pacing or nutrition when I have a bad run but I am starting to think the swim has more effect on my race than I thought.  I'm noticing that when I swim really hard and have a great swim split I tend to be flat on the run and have a subpar run split.  Time for a little more trial and error to figure out where the sweat spot is with how much I should push on the swim.
  • Short course racing allows me to race more often.  Not only is is fun to race more often it provides a great way test things out in actual race situation.  Plus it takes a little pressure off as an entire years training is not focused on one race.

On a side note, my triathlon "career" has more or else revolved around WTC Ironman and 70.3 races.  It was really great to see that USAT did an outstanding job running this race and had a competitive field show up.  A few things that I really liked (and wish WTC would do):

  • Our entire M30-34 AG started together in one wave, with a 10 minute break before and after us.  This is SO much better than WTC spiting the AG into 2 or 3 at 70.3 worlds and keeping the waves about 5 minutes apart.  At a national or world championship, most of the people are there to race and we race better when we are racing head to head and not guessing what wave someone started in.
  • It was a fair race from what I could tell.  I was really worried about the amount of drafting on a pretty flat race like this but because of the big gaps between waves and tons of draft marshals on course, I saw almost no drafting at all.
  • Packet Pickup took literally 1 minute.  One person checked my ID, USAT card, gave me my entire packet and then another person got my chip.  Done.  Unlike the 5+ step process and multiple lines at WTC events.

As usual, I owe a few thank yous:

  • Theresa and Abigail for supporting this crazy hobby year round and for coming to this race.
  • Zoot for great products and listening to my feedback.  The Kiawe 2 were awesome once again.
  • Ceepo for the awesome Katana and continued support.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Lake Zurich Triathlon and Racine 70.3

I'm a bit behind again so here are two race reports in one.

Lake Zurich Area Triathlon

Lake Zurich is a great local/grass roots triathlon that I really enjoyed last year.  I love that it is a very well run event with a low price.  Plus there is race morning packet pickup and I only have to get there an hour before the race.  Last year I started in the first wave and was first across the line, only to find out someone in a later wave had a faster time.  The reality is he would have still beat me if we raced head to head, but I still wish we could have been in the same wave.  I shared this feedback with the race director and he actually listened and added an elite wave this year.  I was not planning on doing the race this year, but because he listened to my feedback I signed up.

Other than the really warm water, the swim went great.  I started to the far left and just did my own thing until the first turn buoy.  Then I found some feet and stuck to them for the remaining three quarters of the swim.  Thanks to Jen Harrison leading the way I had one of my best swims yet.  The only problem was I was really warm thanks to the wetsuit legal swim and my heart rate was super high coming out of the water.

I started the bike in about 6th place and decided to let my heart rate settle before I picked up the power. My heart rate did settle but I the power never went up.  I ended up riding at lower watts than many of my half ironman races, but I was still able to catch up and come into T2 only steps behind the leader.

Thanks to the super easy to put on Zoot Kiawes 2.0s, I left T2 in first place and started to chase the motorcycle.  The only problem was my legs felt like complete crap and again I was struggling to hold half ironman paces.  I wanted to just give up but I remember how I felt after giving up in Kona three years ago so I was determined to keep going until someone caught me.  I was never able to pick the pace up, and it never got better, but I pushed through and luckily never got caught.

Of course, I was thrilled with winning the race and with having a good swim but a little bummed about my performance on the bike and run.  I'm really glad that I was able to push through and make the best out of the situation but I know I should have ridden at least a minute faster and last year I ran over 3 minutes faster at this same race.

Ironman 70.3 Racine

This was my 6th time doing this race.  It use to be just like Lake Zurich and was an inexpensive/low key race that I loved.  Now it is a huge WTC production which brings some good and bad.

Instead of starting in the first wave, I was in the 19th wave and the water was the choppiest I can remember in the 6 years I have done the race (but probably the warmest as well).  I felt fine on the swim and had no issues but my time was over 3 minutes slower than it should have been.  I'm pretty sure it was a combination of having to swim through and around tons of people and my long/slow swim stroke that is not the most effective in rough water.

Starting the bike I felt fine but my legs were flat feeling.  I ended up with the lowest average watts for any half ironman in the last 3 years, but my bike split was only about 2 minutes slower than I expected.

Coming out of T2 my legs like they usually do after a 56 mile bike ride.  Typically the first 1-2 miles are a bit of a struggle, but then I get into a groove and can run pretty well.  In this race I didn't find my stride until about mile 10, but once I did I started to feel really good.  I ended up having a really good last two miles and finishing really strong.

Overall, I performed better at Racine than Lake Zurich, but with a much more competitive field (which is a good thing) I was only 4th in my age group.  Either way, the good news is that once again I executed the best race I could that day.  I didn't make any pacing or nutrition mistakes and I didn't force anything and blow up like I used to do years ago.  I just stayed relaxed and did the best I could.

Things haven't quite started to click yet this year and my fitness isn't were I wanted it to be but I still have almost 3 months to build up until Kona.  Coming up next is USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Pleasant Prairie Triathlon

I've heard nothing but great things about Pleasant Prairie so I figured I would give it a try.  The race lived up to everything I heard about.  I'll definitely be back.  It was just as well run as any of the big (i.e. over priced) events but for half as much.  Plus it was a USAT race, with at least one official on the bike course and an elite wave

The swim was probably the worst part of the race for me which is ironic as my swim the previous weekend at Lake in the Hills felt great and was one of my best ever.  I just felt like I was fighting the water the entire time and I kept drifting off the buoy line even though I was sighting more than normal.  I felt slightly better on Sunday night when my garmin showed 1.09 miles for the course (should have been 0.93) and that most others had slow swims as well.  Either way, my swim still needs more work as I was about 2-3 minutes slower than I need to be.

I think I was about 11th or 12th coming out of the water and felt great for the first 30 minutes of the bike.  I was careful not to overdo it and just sat at my target watts.  I passed maybe 4 or 5 people and then Giuliano passed me.  The second half of the bike sucked.  I stayed really close to my target watts but I was working a lot harder to hold the power and slowly watched Giuliano get about about 20-30 seconds up the road by T2.  My bike time was solid though with a 57:59.

Coming out of T2 I could see Verzbicas and Giuliano up the road but I was pretty sure that if I attempted to catch them I would blow myself up.  So I just ran my race.  Mile 1 was by far my slowest and I felt better and better as each mile went on.  I passed a a few more people and never got passed on the run.  I finally felt like I was starting to run well right around mile 5 and then the race was over.  I ended up running about a minute slower than I usually do for a 10k.

Overall, the race went well and I ended up with a 2:03:47 and 5th overall.  A couple of studs showed up (Eicher, Verzbicas, Giuliano), so I was never really in the race up front but instead I was watching from a few minutes behind.  I really want to beat my 2:00:01 Olympic distance PR and thought this might have been the course but with my crap swim and slightly slow run it just wasn't the day for it.  I'll keep trying though.

I'm really enjoying doing more of short course racing and racing more often so I have a few more local races on the calendar before I start to train for Kona.

Sorry no pictures as my wife and daughter decided not to get up at 3:30 AM after just doing that last week.  I have to admit I was a bit jealous when they were sound asleep and I was driving to the race.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2013 Lake in the Hills Triathlon

This was the start of my 8th year as a triathlete and the first race of the year still makes me a bit nervous.  LITH is a fun local race that I did in 2010 and really enjoyed so I figured why not go again to work the bugs out and kick of my season.  The only issue was I’ve been having some trouble with my right calf and it has interrupted my run training.  So the plan for this race was to just to go through the motions and get the first race of the season out of the way.  Depending on how my leg felt on the run I would jog/walk/drop out if needed.

Swim ½ mile in 9:51
I had probably the best swim of my life (and the course was probably a bit short as well).  Started right up front, just swam on my own and ignored everyone else.  At the first turn buoy I looked up and saw only a few people in front of me so I swam a little harder and tried to close the gap but never quite caught up.  I ended up coming out of the water 3rd and could actually see everyone in front of me, which is a first.

T1 0:51
I was a little rusty.  I have never been fast at getting a wetsuit off and really need to work on that.  My bike mount was less than graceful, but it worked.  Too bad I used too long of rubber bands to hold my shoes up and one didn't break for the first mile (see picture below).

Bike 15.5 miles 36:44
There was a hill right out of transition and I passed the eventual female overall winner on the way up the hill.  Once I made it over the hill I could see first place and the police escort a little up the road.  I probably should have stayed at my target watts and slowly caught up, but it was more fun to go hard and for a few minutes.  After I took the lead I just settled in at my target watts and followed the motorcycle. 

T2 0:32
I had some trouble getting my bike racked because the rack was pretty low but otherwise this was uneventful.  The Zoot Ultra Speed 3 slipped on easy and I was off and running.

Run 4 miles in 24:24
All I could think about was run with good form and hope my calf didn't start to act up.  The first mile felt like crap but my calf was totally fine and it was fun having the police escort so I kept plugging along.  I was sure someone would catch me but I figured I would keep going until they did and then decide if I wanted to push my leg.  Luckily, my calf didn’t act up at all and I was able to run steady without getting caught and having to push it.

Total 1:12:24 - 3 minutes faster than 2010

Overall, I’m thrilled that my leg held up fine and of course it felt great to kick off the season with a win.  As usual, thank you to my wife and daughter for all the support and getting up at 4 in the morning to come to the race.  Having my daughter at the finish line on fathers day was pretty special to me.  My Zoot gear was flawless as usual and the Ceepo Katana was almost 30 seconds faster on this course at slightly less watts then the last time I raced here.

Lessons Learned:
  • For short course I need to practice T1 more.  Specifically getting the wetsuit off and helmet on at the same time and faster
  • Use shorter rubber bands to hold my bike shoes up as the left rubber band was still there at mile 1 of the bike when my wife was taking pictures
  • If I want to keep racing short course I need to train running fast right off the bike instead of easing into like long course racing

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Chicago Spring Half Marathon

3 years ago I set a half marathon PR at this race and it was the first time I was the overall winner at a race.  Not to mention my wife got a cool picture of me leading the race.  

Around that time I also determined that if I wanted to be a better long course triathlete I needed to be more balanced and not just rely on my run.  So for 2+ years I put more focus on the swim and tried to be balanced across the bike and run.  In other words I ran less/easier and swam and bike more.  It worked and my triathlon times dropped, but my open run times have slowed down.   

This year I figured I would just run a bit more and get my run speed back while holding on to my improved swim/bike fitness.  As a test I decided to do the same half marathon 3 years later.

My prep and the race both went ok.  I definitely worked hard and had the best race I could have had.  I ended up negative splitting and ran a very steady and controlled race.  Aerobically I felt fine but I just couldn't get my legs to go any faster the 5:50 pace today.  This seems to be a trend for me at all distances as my body just settles in and wants to hold a pace and I can't surge no matter how hard I try.  Anyway, I didn't make it down to the 1:15 I ran 3 years ago, but I did run 1:17.  The one thing that did stay consistent is my wife got another good picture.

Time to get back to racing triathlons now with some local Sprint and Olympic races just for fun.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Some Zoot Shoe Tips

Not only have I been fortunate to run in a ton of Zoot Shoes, but I also get to talk to the two guys that design every Zoot shoe.  From them I have learned a ton about running shoes in general and also picked up a bunch of useful tips.  Here are a few I figured others would be interested in:

Speed Laces Too Long - all of the Zoot tri shoes have speed laces that are connected at the bottom with a plastic piece.  Just pop it off, trim the laces, and then put them back in.  If they don't want to stay in, a few drops of super glue takes care of it.

Narrow feet - My feet are really narrow.  When Zoot started using the plastic clips mentioned above, I just took it off and tied a knot instead.  This allows me to pull the two bottom eyelets close together and also shortens the laces at the same time.

Rubbing or Blisters on the arch - With most Zoot shoes I have no issue but with the Kiawe or the Race 4 I crank the laces tight and then I sometimes get blister in the arch of my foot.  This is because the arch support on the insole is pushed up higher and rubs due to the very tight fit.  The simple solution, just take some scissors and trim about 5mm off.  Since then I have never had a problem.

(The bottom and the right insole are cut)

Heel tab rubbing the back of your Achilles tendon - fold the back over/down when you are not wearing the shoes.  After a few days like this it wont rub anymore.  If it is really stubborn, use a binder clip to hold the shoe like this when you are not wearing them.

Can't get the Kiawe on fast enough - The Kiawe is a tight fitting shoe, which I love because they stay put.  They can however be harder to put on in T2 because of this.  I guess this isn't a tip, but try the Speed 3 for sport races as it is the same mid/outsole as the Kiawe ... or wait until August when the Kiawe 2 comes out and the upper has been changed to make them MUCH easier to get on fast.  BTW, I thought the Kiawe was great and the only Zoot shoe I needed...until I ran in the Kiawe 2.

Cold/Wet feet - Most of the Zoot shoes are designed to breath and drain water.  Great features for summer races, not so great for fall, winter, and spring in cold and wet climates.  Check out the TT Trail, TT Trainer, Tempo Trainer or coming this fall the TT Trainer WR (water resistant).  All of those will feel exactly like the TT/Tempo but without the drains, breath-ability and speed laces.

Which Zoot shoe should I try - If you are new to Zoot shoes, pick up a pair the TTs (Neutral) or Tempos (Stability).  These are what I would consider the staple Zoot shoe.  They are light enough to race in, have all the tri features, but also have enough cushioning (and support for the Tempo) that most people can run in them daily.  Assuming the TT or Tempo work for you then you can go lighter (Race, Owva, Kiawe, Speed) or heavier (Kalani, Kane) to fine tune what you want in a shoe.

Running Sockless - This isn't really Zoot specific but it is the number one question I get asked is how do you switch to running sockless.  For me it was simple: 1) get the right shoes, 2) commit to it, 3) use body glide or something similar while you are adjusting.  It took me about 3 weeks to make the transition and since than (4 years later) I run sockless 95% of the time with no issues.  As far as finding the right shoes, I specifically mean something that is designed to be run in sockless like any of the Zoot shoes with Barefit (almost all of them) and similar shoes from other companies.  Additionally, you have to make sure you are in the right size.  I personally sized down a half size when I switched to sockless.  Start slowly by running just the last mile of a training run sockless, then make it two miles and so on.  As I mentioned it was about a 3 week period for me to go from 100% socks, to 0% socks.  I did get quite a few hotspots at first and a few blisters but I just loaded them up with body glide and pushed through.

Do you have other questions?  Ask in the comments below or send me a message.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why I chose the Ceepo Katana

I am really picky when it comes to my gear.  I love new technology and innovation but at the same time I want proven gear I know I can rely on.  When I first got into triathlon I was always trying the latest and greatest but over the years I have started to value the simple and effective gear that always works and is adjustable/compatible with standard components.  I do 100% of the work on my bikes and I change my setup at least annually so none of the fully integrated super bikes interest me.  Instead I want a bike that fits right, works with any components, and is easy to wrench on/travel with.

Over the last few years I have been fortunate to work with enough sponsors to know what kind of relationship works the best for me.  The main thing I have learned is that I like working with companies that are focused on triathlon.  These were usually smaller companies where every person is accessible and has passion for what they do.  Zoot is great example of this as I know someone in every department and they are all interested in my feedback.  These are the companies I feel I can provide the most value to and the companies I want to help.

As you probably guessed that was my long winded way of explaining why I am excited to be working with Ceepo and riding the Katana this year.  Triathlon is Ceepo's only focus and not just on of many product lines.  It was immediately clear that the first individual I talked with at Ceepo was not just a marketing guy, but he had deep knowledge of the Ceepo products and was passionate about the company.

The Katana interested me mainly because of the geometry and it doesn't have a proprietary integrated cockpit/front brake.  Here are the things I really like about the Katana:

  • Long and low - it actually fits me unlike the shorter/taller geometry that most companies are going to these days.  I'm finally using a -17 degree stem again instead of a -30 or adjustable stem like my last two bikes.
  • 78 degree post - I ride steep with my saddle 4cm in front of the BB
  • PressFit30 BB - I can use both my bb30 and gxp cranks easily, and just about all other cranks available.
  • Standard 1 1/8 stem - many inexpensive stems are available to change my stack/reach plus it's easy to travel with
  • Internal mechanical and di2 cable routing - clean, functional and easy routing for both types of components   Plus it is super easy to work on, which is huge when you have to run a new derailleur cable in a hotel the night before a race.
  • Two water bottle mounts - I like to go ride for hours with out stopping at all.  Now I can bring multiple bottles with me without have to fill up all my jersey pockets with bottles.  For racing I wont use the frame mounts but they will be great for training.
  • Vertical dropouts - easy to change a rear wheel and the wheel is always straight and centered unlike some poorly down horizontal dropouts on other tt bikes.  (I don't mind horizontal dropouts when they are designed well.
  • Flat black paint - I can always look past the finish of a bike, but I am a big fan of either flat black or raw UD carbon so the paint job was a nice bonus as it is mostly flat black but has enough other color to keep it from being a solid black bike.

I knew about all of those features before I got it but when the bike showed up I had a few pleasant surprises:
  • The bike was packaged very well and there was no way any of the parts could shift around in the box and get damaged (unless of course FedEx/UPS crushed the entire box)
  • Two headset top covers were include and one is super low stack, as in about 2mm above the frame when installed
  • The derailleur hanger is removable/replaceable and a spare one was provided
  • The mechanical cable routing has liner run from the top tube entry to the derailleurs, it literally takes 5 seconds to run a cable.
  • Guide tubes were left in the frame to allow the electronic shifting cables to be easily installed
  • Top tub has the BB center marked on it so it is super easy to get the saddle fore/aft right
  • The frame size, stack, and reach are printed right on the seat tube, great for a second owner or for when I just forget so I don't have to go look it up

I have a few minor tweaks to make but it is pretty much ready to race... now I just have to get myself ready to race again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 March Madness Half Marathon

I came into this race not sure what to expect, but I was guessing it was either going to go really well and surprise me or really bad.  I was wrong, it went pretty much right down the middle, I didn’t have a bad race but I also didn’t have a good race.

Overall, my race went fine.  I held a pretty steady pace the entire race and only faded a little bit in the last half mile.  My heart rate slowly climbed the entire race and I finished running hard and with nothing left in the tank.  I definitely did not blow up, and didn’t make any pacing mistakes.  I just went slower than usual and couldn’t speed up.

The only thing I think I could have done better was to get some more running outside in prior to the race.  With my work schedule and me getting older and softer, I have trouble getting out to run in the dark when it is below freezing out.  My last real run outside was at Ironman Arizona on Nov 18th.  Since then I reviewed all my workouts and I did a total of 1 hour of running outside (two easy runs).  I don’t know if this affected my race, but my legs sure are trashed today (Monday after the race).

I’ve done this race 4 of the last 5 years and ran (oldest to most recent):
  • ·         1:17:5x
  • ·         1:17:4x
  • ·         1:18:1x
  • ·         1:19:38

The thing I’m most bothered by is that the overall I’m getting slower instead of faster (and the conditions we best this year when I went the slowest).  I will say that over the same time I am getting faster and better at long course ironman racing. 

Maybe I can’t have it all, but I’m going to keep trying to get my run back to where it was about 2 years ago while still holding on to the gains I’ve made on the swim and bike.  So it’s time for a few months of focusing on the run and another half marathon.

The best part about doing this race is that I’m fired up again, and I’ve found that I am the most motivated when I am disappointed in myself and feel like I should have done better.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ready or Not, 2013 Race Season is here

As usual, I'm way overdue for an update on this blog.

To make a long story short, since Ironman Arizona, I:

  • Took two weeks completely off by choice (that's a first)
  • started to train again but the holidays and some projects at work got in the way
  • got a cold
  • started to train again
  • got a severe stomach flu which messed up training for 2 weeks
  • finally started to train again

Anyway, the third time time around training has been going well.  It was a slow start as I have never had so much down time before.  The first 2-3 weeks were pretty disappointing, but since then I've been feeling really strong and in a really good groove.

One of my favorite races each year is the March Madness Half Marathon in two weeks.  As usual I'm signed up and looking forward to it.  I'm not sure what is going to happen as I have much done much less training than usual, but I'm feeling great, so we'll see what the day brings.

Usually, I have my full race schedule planned a year or more out, but this year, I'm still figuring it out.  Of course I'm focusing on Kona, but I still have to figure out want I want to do between now and then.  I'll get another post up on that soon.

In other exciting news, I'll be returning to the Zoot Ultra Team for the 4th year now.  I can't wait for team camp and am so fortunate to be able to continuing working with Zoot and the Ultra Team Sponsors.  I was also fortunate to have another awesome opportunity this year and will be riding the brand new 2013 Ceepo Katana.  After being on 5 different tri bikes in the last 6 years, I've learned the things that are really important to me (instead of the marketing and aesthetics features) and the Katana has those things.  I'll also post more on this as I build the bike up.