Monday, August 30, 2010

Rocketman Triathlon RR

I was really looking forward to this olympic distance race on Redstone Arsenal because the bike course covers a lot of the same roads I use for my long bike intervals. Additionally, its always nice when you can sleep in your own bed the night before a race!

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Arriving at the race site, there was a palpable excitement in the air. For a number of participants, this would be their first Olympic Distance race and many were more than a little worried about the 1500m swim awaiting them in the Tennessee River. I felt good during my warm-up and soon enough we were lined up on the dock, ready to start.

Incidentally, not knowing any better and having been brainwashed by the Team Magic crazies, RD Mike Gerrity made this race a time trial start. Its not his fault; its all hes known. However, I've since convinced him of the flaws of this system and am proud to say next year there will be much more exciting wave starts.

So there we were, lined up and ready to go. Two ex Alabama swimmers, Kyle Lee and Bruce Gennari, were first and second, followed by father of four Dr. Jon Krichev in 3rd followed yours truly in 4th. We jumped (NO DIVING ALLOWED) in sequentially in 5 second intervals and the race was ON.

Once in the water, I set off trying to catch Dr. Jon. It took a bit longer than expected but I completed the pass after 3-400m or so. Sadly though, Bruce was already out of reach so I just put my head down and pushed. After rounding the two turns, it was time for the long (800m) drag to the start. There werent many buoys so it took me a while to point myself in the right direction. Once I picked up on the neon orange, though, it was just a matter of focusing on my stroke and pushing as hard as possible. I finally reached the ramp in a little over 20 minutes and after a quick transition was out on my bike.

Starting the ride, I knew I had my work cut out for me as neither Bruce nor Kyle were in sight. I got up power relatively quickly and just focused on killing it. Finally, about half way through the course there was an out and back and I knew I'd get a chance to see how far up the road the others were. My quick math had Bruce around a minute up the road but Kyle, following the lead motorcycle, was nearly 4 minutes ahead. Needless to say, this was not a good sign.

Arriving in transition after 1h on the bike, I knew I'd have to have a great run and hope Kyle blew up in order to catch him. I took off in pursuit, cruised by Bruce after about half a mile, and focused on running fast, coming through first mile in 5:23. After a flat first mile winding through a dirt path in the woods, the course transitioned onto a hilly dirt road. I was hoping the uneven surface would deter Kyle but he was still out of sight after every turn. Finally I arrived at the out and back portion of the course around mile 4. A rough time check told me he was still around 2.5min up. I hadnt totally lost faith but knew my chances were growing dim as he looked like he was still moving pretty well and the overcast skies kept the temperatures comfortably cool. Pushing on, it was back on the dirt road for the last mile before I finally crossed the finish line. A 34 and a half minute run gave me a 1:57 finishing time, a little over 2min back from Kyle.

Full results are here:

I was certainly disappointed to lose, but at the same time I was pretty pleased with how the race went. I felt good in all three disciplines but Kyle just crushed the swim and bike, which carried him to a well deserved victory.

Post race, though, was when the fun really started. Slip-N-Slide in the backyard!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Huntsville Sprint Triathlon RR

Saturday morning I raced the Huntsville Sprint Triathlon which celebrated its 30th(!) year, making the race older than me! Anyway, this is a pretty unique event consisting of a 3 mile cross country run, a 6 mile bike ride, then a 400m swim in the pool. The run course is very challenging and features a steep, life-sucking hill in the middle.

After warming up as I would for a 5k, I arrived at the starting line about 10 minutes before the start. As we were waiting for the gun, a guy next to me asked me what my pace would be. I told him I expected to go out around 5:40, but quickly realized he was out of town and didnt realize that on the CC course, you should add at least 15-20sec/mile to your equivalent road pace in order to get an idea of what you should aim for. I think he realized that quickly, though, and I didnt see him after the first 400m.

I did, however, have someone pretty close for about the first mile. However, after I got down the big hill and into the second mile, I realized I was pretty much all alone. I hit the hill and was actually still feeling (relatively) good at the top so I continued to cruise the rest of the run all the way through to the finish, right around 17min.

Finishing up the run. I'm sure the others are on their way...

From there it was a quick transition and I was out on the bike. Attempting to bike hard after that run just isnt fun. So I took off spinning like crazy to hold onto my lead. There is an out-and back portion which allowed me to get a quick check on the comp, and it looked like a I was somewhere around 2 minutes up, so that was reassuring. The rest of the ride was uneventful, save the last intersection with a light where the cop, who was there to direct traffic, was waving a car through as I was about to arrive. Thankfully my yelling seemed to be rather effective and a near catastrophe was diverted.

Off the bike and into the pool and for 400 meters. I made it through without drowning, jumped out, and was happy to notch my 3rd win in a row at this event.

Hanging out after the race was a ton of fun as it was great to see so many people experience the sport of triathlon for the first time. Although this race gets a lot of beginners, it is certainly not easy! The run is actually very difficult and it is always hard to have to swim at the end of a race, even if it is only 400m in a pool, so congrats to everyone who finished!

Next up: Rocketman Triathlon this Sunday!


S: 25,400 yds
B: 8h 11min
R: 6h 12min

Total: 21h 4min

Solid, solid, solid week, especially on the bike. I crushed both workouts during the week and had a solid long ride on Sunday. And there was a race in there, too, but that was pretty unimpressive considering the cycling came immediately after the run on the CC course.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mountain Lakes Triathlon Race Report

With the race starting at 7:30 in Guntersville, I got to sleep in my own bed and didn't even have to change my alarm clock, as 4:30 is my usual weekday wake up time.

As usual this race, like all Team Magic races, featured a TT start. Unlike in the past, when they seeded people according to swim time, today the RDs decided to let the 60 and over crowd start first, and then proceed from fastest to slowest. As a result, I had #46 and was honestly a little worried about swimming over some of the older racers. I dont mind having to swim through a crowd but I do feel pretty bad swimming over people. (Now, if only there were a way to avoid this...........)

So after the first 45 were in the water, I was off. By about half way through the swim I had passed just about everyone except teammate and uber-swimmer Bruce Gennari and a kid from the University of Alabama's triathlon team. Bruce was on his way out of transition as the 'bama kid and I were entering. I got out of transition a bit ahead of the bama kid and was out trying to limit my losses to Bruce.

I felt good from the start of the ride and immediately started hammering. Then, after a few miles, the 'bama kid passed me, which surprised me a bit. Once he completed the pass, though, the pace slowed a bit... enough for me to start getting antsy. So I passed him back and kept pressing forward. I wasnt worried too much about him beating me but I wanted to make sure to stay as close to possible to Bruce so that I could reel him in on the run.

Coming to the end of the ride, I thought I had dropped the kid so I was surprised to see him as I was racking my bike. Although this caught me a bit off guard, I was still pretty confident I could out run him and still had the matter of catching Bruce to deal with.

We took off on the run and the kid was killing it from the gun. It took me about 3/4 of a mile to get separation, at which point I focused solely on catching Bruce. My legs were a bit tired from the proceeding week of training but I still thought I was moving reasonably well. I came through the mile at 5:20, a few seconds slower than PE was telling me but not terrible. Finally, just before the turn I caught Bruce and turned my sights for home. Second mile was 5:30 which was a bit disconcerting but not too bad considering the turn around and slight hill in the middle. From there on out, it was a race against the clock. I knew I'd be first across the line but with the TT start, no "lead" is ever safe. I opened it up, raced across the finish line, and waited for the others to see if my time would hold.

Bruce came across second, which was a bit surprising as I thought the kid would catch him after his fast start. 3rd across the line was Dr. John Krichev who started behind both Bruce and me, so I knew that was a solid performance for him.

As it turned out, I held on for first, Krichev was 2nd, and Gennari took the final spot on the podium.

It was great to see everyone out there for a warm but otherwise beautiful day for racing.


S: 25,300yds
B: 7h 12min
R: 6h 23min

Total: 20h 14min

Pretty decent week, although I started feeling the full training fatigue returning unabated after the short remittance courtesy of the Steelhead taper. As a result, I wasnt sure I'd feel Saturday morning. Race report to follow..........

Friday, August 13, 2010


"Specificity is a word I quite like," Anderson says. "Dispense with the inessentials, keep to the vitals."


"I've tried to interpret the findings of the best physiologists and translate them into sound practices," says Anderson. "That's made me a radical. We've turned some coaching sacred cows on their ear."

Two for one today! Both courtesy of John Anderson, Dave Moorcroft's long time coach.

The quotes were from a lengthy profile of Mr. Moorcroft, the Briton who set the world record at 5,000m in 1982, by the great track writer Kenny Moore in an SI article from 1982. While reading the piece it became apparent why Mr. Moorcroft was able to run such a spectacular race. First, he had a knowledgeable coach who actually read up on exercise physiology (the horror!) and questioned conventional wisdom. Additionally, he kept a great attitude even as injuries caused some major setbacks in his career, including ruining his chance for Olympic glory. Finally, he and his coach had a long term plan from the beginning and he stuck with that coach from age 15 until he hung it up. The result? Only a 13:00.42 5,000m WR.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


S: 25,400yds
B: 9h 51min
R: 5h 46min

Total: 22h 18min

While I'm usually not one to complain about the heat, even I have to admit its been pretty bad here. With highs in the triple digits and suffocating humidity, any kind of HIT has been a bit difficult. Even the pool, which had remained reasonably cool, was considerably warmer last week. So after a sufferfest on the CC course on Tuesday night, the unthinkable occurred Wednesday evening: I actually opted for the trainer for the Zn5 session. Surprisingly, the sun still came up on Thursday morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Steelhead 70.3

Last weekend I went up to Benton Harbor, MI for Steelhead 70.3. I was 2nd here in 2006, before the race had a prize purse, so I was hoping to return and have another solid performance. More importantly, I had finally been having some better bike workouts so I was really looking forward to racing hard.

Race morning arrived and I was ready to kill it. As I was eating breakfast, I flipped on the TV and started scrolling through the channels, stopping when I saw a radar shot. There it was... a large storm moving east across Lake Michigan. There was no guarantee we would get rained on, but it looked pretty likely. On the short drive to the race the rain started and continued on and off until about 5 miles into the bike. Luckily though the rain wasnt coming down too bad, so I was still able to get everything set and ready to go.

Around 6:30 I started my jog down to the start. Looking out over the lake, it appeared we'd be missing the worst of the storms, so that was a relief. I dont mind a little rain but lightning is a whole separate situation...

Soon enough we were lined up on the beach and ready to go. The usual chaos ensued after the gun went off as we raced to the first buoy, about 200m from the start. A bit after navigating that slight right turn, I was in a group next to the buoys but noticed another group to our left, a little further out. After watching them for a bit, it appeared they were gaining a bit of water on us, so I decided to attempt to make the jump to join them.

I got out and around the guy I was following but initially was struggling to make up any time. Not wanting the group to get away, I put my head down, focused, and started closing the gap. Encouraged, I pressed on and finally did make contact. By that time, though, a couple of others had gone off the front of that group. Attempting to catch them wouldve been futile so swam up to the now smaller group of three, to a little break, and took off at my own pace.

Finishing up the swim, I was surrounded by four or five others so I was focused on a fast transition in order to set up a fast bike. I was in and out in decent time but probably shouldve attempted to move up further in the group at the end of the swim to ensure a better position for the start of the bike.

The start of the bike was a bit tricky as the rain had picked up quite a bit and the skies were still pretty dark, making visibility poor. I lost a bit of time in the first few miles so when we got out onto the main highway, 63, I really started pushing it to catch up to the three riders ahead of me. I was slowly closing the gap when Eric Bean and Michael Lovato came flying by. Their pace was too hot but I was able to catch the other three riders.

At this point the rain had stopped but we were off the the freshly paved SR 63 and onto slightly less enjoyable asphalt. I was maintaining contact when all of the sudden I noticed the others starting to pull away. I tried to up the intensity level but knew I wouldnt be able to match that intensity level for the remainder of the race. Soon after, I hit a particularly rough section of road and felt my rear rim hit the pavement. I stopped, checked the tire, and sure enough... slow leak.

The change went relatively quickly but towards the end three pros came racing by. Hoping I could maybe catch them, I took off with a vengeance. I was back into what I felt was a good pace rather quickly and just tried to focus on getting the guys ahead. Soon after, though, I heard a loud hiss, indicative of another flat. Having brought only one tube, this meant game over.

I was near an intersection with a police officer so he, thankfully, called the wheel truck. Unfortunately, it still took 10-15min for them to arrive. Meantime, I watched the rest of the men's field and most (if not all) of the women's field fly by and found a nice little piece of glass which had penetrated my tire.

So needless to say, I was/am pretty upset. But, hey, it happens. I'd love to go find another race this weekend to do but the reality is that I only have so many vacation days and those remaining for the rest of the year have already been allocated. So for now its back to work until Mountain Lakes on the 14th and RocketMan on the 29th.