Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 by the Numbers

It is that time of year again when we reflect on what we did, and start thinking about what is to come for the following year. 

For me 2011 was a breakthrough year, starting slowly with a few months of physical therapy and finishing with a great races at the Nation’s Triathlon (olympic) & Beach 2 Battleship (half iron distance).  I am very happy with my progress this year, especially for running and the bike,  I am really looking forward to some strong performances in 2012.

Here is a summary of the year, in numbers – since 2011 was the first year I was really tracking mileage (using trainingpeaks), I can’t compare to directly 2010.

  • 5 – number of triathlon’s I completed
  • 5 – number of PR’s overall or s/b/r individually
  • 15:22 – minutes faster for the 13.1 mile run from EagleMan in June to Beach 2 Battleship in October
  • 147,000 – number of yards I swam this year, not bad after not swimming at all in November or December (48hrs)
  • 2,300 – number of miles on the bike (143hrs)
  • 790 – number of miles running (110hrs)
  • 88,591 – number of miles flown on United this year (just short of 50,000 in 2010)
  • 53 – nights stayed within the Hilton family of hotels (~20 for other chains)
  • 268w – last bike ftp test of the year (December 19th) – started the year at 240w
  • 19:12 – fastest 5k run test of the year (December 21st), huge improvement
  • 0 – surgical procedures in 2011.  2 in 2010 (knee’s), 1 in 2009 (nasal valve reconstruction)

I will post something about my goals for 2012 next week – I have only planned as far out as Ironman Lake Placid in July.  I am really not sure what I will feel like after that.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2012 & if you are out partying on new year’s eve – stay save.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Beach 2 Battleship Half – Race Report

I had high expectations of a good result leading into this race.  It was my last race of the season, and I have continued to improve throughout the year.

This was my 2nd half ironman/70.3 distance race – having completed the EagleMan race in May this year.  I wanted to build from my experience racing EagleMan and also use it as a mechanism to gauge my training in preparation for my first full ironman at Lake Placid in 2012. 

This report is going to be long, so for those who just want find out how I did, I’ll summarize it here, and then expand on how the weekend went.

  • Finish Time:              4:49:49
  • Place Overall:           22nd
  • Place Age Group:     4th
  • Place Masters (40+) 5th

They had trophies for overall and overall masters for both men and women down to the top 5, so I managed to bring home some hardware!

the trophy is made of teak, and was actually a part of the battleship deck that was replaced during a refurbishment.

Pre-Race  & Predictions

I wasn’t too fixated on the final finish time, my main goal was to finish the race having executed my plan and being strong across the swim/bike/run legs.  If I managed to do that, then I was sure I could beat my 5:16 time from EagleMan, and if I had a great day I had  hopes that I could break the 5 hour mark.

We had a group of 5 of us racing and staying at the same house, that made for a fun weekend.  It is always great to be at a race with friends and family.  Here is a photo of all of us as we were leaving for the race site.375289_2358290649445_1615635163_2335036_599007048_n

Swim – 26:30 / 106 overall

During the course briefing, they mentioned that the tide would be running very fast – so we were all hoping for a fast swim time.  The full distance race started 1.5 hrs before the half distance.  As we arrived at the swim start, we saw the first swimmers flying by.  You could see how fast the tide was carrying them.  At one point one of the swimmers stopped and waved with both arms, he was still moving quickly in the current – that got everyone fired up for a fast swim.

Based on my training, I thought I might be able to finish in around 35-38 minutes, so the tide made a massive difference.  I checked my watch as I exited the water, it read 25:18 – I was shocked!  Since the forecast for the day was a lot of wind, cold temperatures and some rain, I was thankful for a fast swim, and was thinking that a sub 5:00 time might be possible.

T1 – 3:55

The run to the transition area was long.  I had my wetsuit stripped and ran to T1 without any issues.    I decided to wear some arm-warmers, and I am so happy that I did.  It was really cold on the bike leg.

I had one problem in transition.  I had laid my helmet out on my aero bars, but didn’t actually try it on.  When I got to T1, I realized that I had a piece of the helmet (a vented panel that I was not using) was still in it, so I had to take an extra 30 seconds to put it in my T1 bag.  This bag was just a garbage bag that was labeled and would end up at the finish line for me to pick up. 

Bike – 2:36 : 18th overall

I had high hopes for the bike leg. I had been training hard since EagleMan and was hoping to beat my previous time of 2:34.  Of course this was before I saw the weather forecast on the morning of the race, that called for 20-30mph winds. I managed to get a demo set of wheels from my local bike shop (thanks Adam!).  A set of SRAM S80’s.  I really liked riding them.  The picture below shows my race setup.  Even in the wind I always felt in control with these wheels.IMG_3828

As I ran past the bike mount point and got on to my bike, the pad for my right aero-bar came off.  For a second I debated getting off and trying to find it, but I just kept going.  As I got up to speed, I reached down to tighten my shoes (they were already on the bike when I started) I realized that the pad had landed on my shoe, and the Velcro strap caught the pad – score!!    I quickly put it back in place and tightened my shoes and off I went.

My plan was to keep a steady effort for the 56 miles and do my best impression of a turtle to try and get as aero as possible.  I think I managed this very well.  The only problem I had was a pack of drafters.  For most of the course, there was a group of 5-6 riders that were obviously in a pack, except for a tall guy who always seemed to be in the front.  I think the 4-5 others just tailed him the whole time.  The first time they passed me, had to back off to let them go, because the lane we were in was quite narrow.  After a while, I could see that they weren’t pulling away from me, so I’d increase my effort and pass the whole group.  After passing I’d establish a gap, and about 10 minutes later the train would pass me again.  This happened a number of times.  Sometimes during a race, it is hard not to be drafting, but some of these people were getting a free ride and it really looked intentional to me.  With the strong winds, it made a significant difference to be sitting in a pack. <end rant>.  I did manage to drop them all by the time we got back in to transition, and didn’t see any of them on the run!

This bike ride was one of the toughest I have ever had.  Not only was it cold, the winds were relentless.  The way the course was laid out meant that the first 36 miles were either directly into the wind, or a strong cross wind.  There was nowhere to hide.  The first 90 minutes was miserable, cold, very windy and mist/light rain. My hands were so cold that sometimes I had trouble changing gears. 

Here’s a picture of the course.  With the direction of the wind, it was only the last 20 miles where it was helping. 


I set my bike computer to take a split every 5 miles.  The table below shows my splits looked like.  You can clearly see that after mile 35 the average speed jumped and continued to improve with the last 5 miles having the highest average speed (25.2) with the lowest average watts (214).

Mile Avg Speed Avg Power
0-5 19.5 230
5-10 22.1 226
10-15 20.7 230
15-20 21.2 229
20-25 20.5 238
25-30 19.7 234
30-35 20.7 230
35-40 22.5 244
40-45 23.7 233
45-50 24.8 228
50-55 25.2 214

Bike Statistics

  • Distance 56 miles
  • average speed:       21.7mph
  • average heart rate: 153bpm  (right on target)
  • average cadence:   93 rpm
  • average power:       230watts (peak  662watts)

T2 – 3:31

T2 was different to other races that I have done.  Volunteers took our bikes at the dismount line and another volunteer handed us our T2 bag that contained whatever we needed for the run.  I went to the changing tent and put on my socks, running shoes, race belt and fuel belt.  Initially the race belt couldn’t be found, but it was hiding at the bottom of the plastic bag, I had to tell the volunteer a few times that it was in there.  I thanked him for the help and was on my way.

Another first for me was stopping to pee during a race.  With the tough conditions on the bike I didn’t realize how much I needed to go until I was close to T2.  I think it lasted for almost a minute.  I’m glad it stopped there and did not wait until I was out on the run course.

Run – 1:39:23 - 39th overall

Coming out of transition I was feeling great – almost like I had not  just ridden 56 miles.  This was a good sign.  I was only wearing my polar watch (with HR strap) so I didn’t have a GPS for instant speed/pace.  I like running by feel like this. If I was wearing a GPS watch, I would have been tempted to look at it a lot to see what my pace was.

316380_2358292329487_1615635163_2335041_1014670365_n These run photo’s here were taken just after leaving the transition area. You can see Kate yelling something encouraging above (thanks Steve & Kate for the pictures).  I’m all smiles at this point.  My plan was not to go outDSCF1090 too hard, keeping a good pace which felt easy to maintain.  As I hit the first mile marker, I looked at my lap/split time saw a 7:39!  At that point I was very happy.  I knew that I had a sub 1:50 in me.  The cooler weather (low 60’s by now) really helped too.  My two previous 13.1 mile races (one run only, one 70.3) were 1:54 and 1:55.  This time I was really hoping for something in the 1:40’s.   I saw that my overall time was 3:10 after exiting T2 – so if I could get a little under 1:50 I might also break the 5:00hr mark.  That would be amazing!

I continued to tick off the miles  feeling good and in control.  Miles 2 and 3 went by in 7:35 & 7:21.  At that point I knew I was going to be able to put in a great run.  I was still running within myself and was starting to pass a few people.  Only 3 or 4 people passed me for the whole run.  They were all in the 35-39 age group that had started in the wave ahead. I could tell they were serious racers since they all had shaved legs.  It is funny what you see/think about when you are racing.  I think it was between mile 3 & 4 where there is a short steep up-hill.  I shortened my step and kept the cadence up and was still feeling great. I reached the turn-around and saw that my overall time was 4hrs even plus a handful of seconds.  That meant that I had 1hr to run the last 6.55 miles.  At the pace I was running, I could probably get back in around 50–55 minutes, I felt confident I could keep a sub 8:00 minute mile to the finish.

The run was an out and back course.  Most of the return section was into the wind.  My pace slowed a little and ended up being 49 minutes out and 50:23 on the way back.  I was very happy with my execution, a nice even pace throughout.  For the whole run I felt in control and didn’t lose form at all.  There was a guy in the 35-39 age group that was on my hip from miles 5-10, we chatted a bit, but I could see that his form was off.  He kept yelling for chicken broth at the aid stations, but it seemed that they did not have any. After mile 10 I didn’t see him any more, I guess he faded over the last two up-hill sections (over the bridges).  I called out for water a few times, and at the aid station at mile 10 I had to ask a few times ‘does anyone have any water’.  I was very happy to be wearing my fuelbelt, I used it on my long training runs and felt very comfortable with it.  I had one bottle with EFS Liquid shot, the other with water.  I would slow down every 2-3 aid stations and re-fill the water, it meant that I wasn’t needing to stop at every aid station.  At times I felt a little tight in the stomach.  It didn’t really slow me down, but I made an effort not to take in too many calories, just enough to keep me going.  This was significantly different to my EagleMan experience where I ran out of energy because I didn’t take enough in on the bike or the run.

As I ran down the last hill with about a 1/2 mile to go I found myself getting emotional.  All of the training was about to pay off.  I had executed my plan exactly and was about to finish with a time that was far beyond what I thought I could do.  I had to remind myself to focus since I still had a bit of running to go.

The finish area was a bit of a pain.  there were a lot of 90 degree turns (5 I think), and 3 significant areas of water to run through.  The last one was ankle deep!  I was so happy to be getting close to the finish line – I heard my name announced over the PA and was all smiles as I crossed the line.  I glanced at my watch, and it showed 4:49 and change, amazing.  Not only did I beat the 5:00 mark, I managed to just get inside of 4:50.  Final finish time was 4:49:49.

Once I had finished, I got some food, found Kate and Steve who were keeping track of the other racers (Rich, Kathleen, Stuart and Diane plus new friends Melissa and Cliff).  Since my wave started earlier I was able to stand near the finish line and cheer them all in.  I had almost lost my voice by the end of the day.   Everyone did amazingly well, especially considering the weather conditions.

Overall I couldn’t be happier with how the day went.  I am most proud that I stuck to my plan, from both a nutrition and effort perspective. 

Nutrition Plan

My nutrition plan was to keep it very simple.  I had been training with good success with EFS and EFS Liquid shot by FirstEndurance.

  • Pre-Race
    • 2 hammer bars (almond raisin) 
    • 2 bottles EFS (2 scoops Fruit punch) sipped from early in the morning until setting up in transition
    • 1 bottle of EFS (2 scoops Fruit punch, 1 full scoop of Pre-Race) for a boost 45 minutes before race start
  • Bike
    • 1 bottle of EFS Liquid Shot, mixed with a little water – mounted horizontally between my aero bars.   1,000 calories total (drank almost all of it)
    • a 40oz speedfil water bottle on my down-tube, that I was constantly sipping from.  I grabbed a bottle of water at the aid station at mile 37 to refill (approx 24oz).
    • my bike computer was setup for a time-based alarm every 12 minutes, reminding me to take a mouthful of liquid shot
  • Run
    • Fuelbelt with 2 bottles. 1 bottle with EFS Liquid shot (8oz – 640 calories), used approximately 1/3rd of it, and 1 bottle (8oz) of water, refilled as needed.

Post Race

after we got our bikes back to the house, it was time to celebrate!  We ended going for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom for beer and pizza.  Perfect post race food!



The race was well organized, but I am not sure that I would do it again.   The logistics of 2 transition areas is a pain.  Trying to leave the venue was time consuming, since we couldn’t get a car near the finish area. It is also a difficult race for spectators.  there isn’t much access to the swim start/exit and then there is the 10 or so miles between transition areas.  It is a 6hr drive from home and I think after finishing a full ironman next summer (Lake Placid) I may not be wanting to complete a long race this late in the season.

One of the main differences for this race, compared to my first 70.3 was having a structured plan to follow.  For this race I followed the Endurance Nation half ironman 20 week advanced plan.  I ended up averaging around 7.5 hours per week for the last 12 weeks.  this was lower than the plan prescribed, but was all I could do with a busy work/travel/family schedule.  This plan allowed me to focus on the key sessions to setup a great race!

Now that my last race is over for the season, it is time to take a break, and start planning 2012.  Finishing the year strong has given me some good confidence that I can get even faster next year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A quick trip to Sydney

Last month, I had to go back home for a week to renew my work visa.  While my main priorities were work and cleaning out our storage unit (after 9 years), I was able to catch up with family and friends and I managed to get a few decent training sessions in.  I am a bit biased, but Sydney has got to be one of the best training places anywhere in the world.

I have one more race this season, the Beach 2 Battleship half (70.3) on October 29th.  Since this will be a cool salt water swim, I wanted to get a few swim sessions in with my wetsuit.  So I headed down to Dee Why Beach, on Sydney’s northern beaches.  There is a 50meter outdoor pool, which sits right on the ocean, and is filled with ocean water.  This was a perfect place to get some good training in, and since the water was still cold (17c/63f) I could get some wetsuit time in too.  A 50meter pool is so much better than the 25yard chlorinated pool I usually swim in.  The salt water was nice too – every race that I do in fresh water (just about all of them) feels a little weird, having grown up at the beach.

Here’s a few pictures of the pool @ Dee Why.IMG_3811
after swimming, letting my wetsuit dry off a little.  That is Long Reef in the background, one of my favorite windsurfing spots.

another view of the pool, the water was perfectly clear, sure beats my local pool.

For me, swimming with the wetsuit is much faster than without – I managed to get in a 2km (2,180y) in just over 35 minutes, that is so much faster than I usually swim.  I hope I can replicate this during my next race!

I also managed to get in a great long run, right in the heart of downtown Sydney.  My course took me from the Opera house, through the botanical gardens, across the harbour bridge, past Luna park, back across the bridge, around to darling harbour and then back to the opera house.  It took 2 hrs and was almost 15 miles.  This continued something that I started in San Francisco when I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I struggled on the last 30 minutes of this run.  I’ll chalk that up to a lack of nutrition/electrolytes whilst running.  Better for that to happen in training than in a race.IMG_1917


long run map
Map of my run course, from Garmin connect (used my edge 500 bike computer during the run)

I had also planned a great long ride, but due to heavy rain I had to give it a miss.  I was really looking forward to a solid 3-4hr ride in the hills national park from Church point, to Cottage point.

Even though it was a short trip (7 days) I think I made good use of my time, and get everything done.  I am looking forward to my next trip back home, however I am not sure when that will be.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nation’s Tri 2011–Race report

For those of you that want to cut right to it – how did I do??  I had an AMAZING race, I think my best ever.  I finished 11th/415 in my age group,  86th/2427 men and 86th/3884 overall!  This far exceeded all of my expectations, and then some.

This year was my 2nd time at the Nation’s Triathlon. With all of the bad weather in the D.C. area in the last week, the swim was cancelled on the Thursday before the race.  The organizers made a good call letting all of the participants know a few days before the start. I saw a lot of floating debris on Sunday, and I’m sure the water quality was very low.

With my calf issues in the last week – I was considering not racing at some point.  After a couple of visits to my Physical Therapist and Sports Doctor I felt confident that I could at least finish – just not sure if I could run even part of the 6.2 miles (10k) run portion of the course. 

I drove down to the expo and packet pickup on Saturday afternoon with a couple of friends, they both ended up not racing.  We hung around at the expo for a while, and I managed to pick up a set of CEP calf sleeves – I had been using the 2XU version, however after trying on the CEP compression sleeves I thought they felt great.  I ended up wearing them during the race.  They feel so good that I really don’t want to take them off!

After getting our things at the expo, we drove down to the transition area.  With no swim, it was going to be a different start procedure.  The organizers also made the decision to organize the bike racks into swim groups, and the whole transition area was oriented in a different way, perpendicular to last year.  When I arrived at the transition area, I didn’t like what I saw.  My swim group was #20.  There were no pre-assigned sections, it was first come first served.  I didn’t like it at all. Anyone who arrived early had a large advantage because they had their choice of the best spots.  I was there mid afternoon (around 3:30).  Anyone who turned up later in the day would have to spent a lot more time getting in and out of transition.  The aisles were narrow too, and seemed more compresses than usual.  Most of the time you are either assigned a specific position, or a range of 6-10 numbers.  The rows for swim group 20 were the longest I had ever seen in transition.  I chose a spot about 25 yards in from the aisle. I was happy that most of the other people on that section had put their bike facing the other side (towards the bike exit) – so that gave me a little more space to work with, and help be spot my position in T1 and T2.

Race Day

I woke up just before 4:00 am and ate a banana and a hammer bar and drank some water.  I mixed up 3 bottles of EFS, one for the drive, one to drink in while setting up/waiting and the 3rd was mixed with 1 scoop of First Endurance PreRace for 40minutes before the start.  I used a bottle of EFS Liquid shot, and water in my SpeedFil for the bike.  There was no traffic at that time of the day, so I managed to get a great parking spot less than 15mins walk away.  This was important because I was not planning on staying around for a long time post-race because I wanted to get home to watch the kids play their first soccer games of the season.  I quickly got my area setup, pumped the tires and had plenty of time before transition closed.  I even had time to walk back to my car and drop off my pump and other things I didn’t need, to save carrying it all with the bike for the drive home.

The Race

with so many competitors (around 4,000), the organizers did a great job of getting everything moving efficiently.  Each group was marshaled toward the transition area.  We were let off in groups of around 15 people every 15 seconds or so.  This start line was only 10 yards from the transition timing mat, where the official time started.

T1 – 1:32

T1 was more chaotic than normal, with the group of 15 converging to the same area, and people from the previous start still getting their bikes too.  I already had my helmet and glasses on, so literally all I had to do was grab the bike and go.  Running through T1 didn’t seem to hurt my calf.  I was not running very fast, but I hoped it that I could continue pain free for the rest of the race.  Some sections of the transition area were muddy, especially as we got toward the bike mount area.  As usual I had my bike shoes clipped on to my pedals, my feet were a muddy by the time that I got to the mount area, but that wasn’t really a problem, except for having to clean my shoes (which I still have not done).

Bike – 59:48 - 78/2427 Overall Men's – 8 minute PR

As I got to the mount line, there was a big group of people in front that seemed to take forever to get on their bikes.  I found a gap and ran through it and executed a decent flying mount, got up to speed and settled into my aero bars.  There were a lot of bikes on the course, and I was hitting 25-27mph on the flat section out and back past the transition area.

With 5,000 people racing, it was heavy traffic for the whole bike leg, there were bikes everywhere.  I tried hard not to draft, but it was almost impossible.  There was a lot of unintentional blocking and drafting going on.  I had to hit the brakes a number of times to avoid a slow group in front. Even if there was room on the right, a lot of people stayed in the middle or left side of the road/lane.  To add the the chaos, there were a lot of sections that were a single lane each way, some separated only by witches hats.  This made passing very difficult.  The whole course is about as flat as any you will ever race, making for fast times.  There are some slight rollers but nothing that really slows you down.  I can  remember only 1 minor hill where my speed dropped below 20mph. 

I  set my bike computer to auto-lap every 5 miles.  For the first 5 miles I averaged 24.6mph – sweet!  Before the race I thought I might be able to average in the mid-high 23’s, so anything close to 25 was a bonus.

For the whole bike let, the traffic never really let up – only on the sections that were 2 lanes could I put my head down and ‘go’.  There were a few others in my age group that kept passing me, I would pass them up the hills and they would pass me back on the downhill's – 2 of them had the uber (2-3x more expensive) version of my bike.  Mine is a 2011 Trek Speed Concept 7.0, the other two had the 9.x version which is lighter and more aero, they also had some nice race wheels too.  With about 10 miles to go we had gotten to a 2 lane section of road that was slightly up-hill.  I decided I’d had enough of them passing me – so I upped the pace and flew past them.  My averages for miles 10-15 and 15-20 were 27.0 and 26.3.  I didn’t see them again.  It shows that it is the engine that makes the most difference on the bike, but I did find myself contemplating how much faster I might be with some fast wheels.

With such a fast pace, I thought I might be able to finish the bike in less than 1 hr.  This would be a huge PR (last year’s was 1:08:27).  My Garmin had my time at 58:24 for the 24.91 miles at an average of 25.6.  I started it just after getting on the bike, and stopped it just before the dismount area.  The official race  time was 59:48 – awesome!

Statistics (from my Garmin Edge 500):

  • Speed 25.6avg, 36.7 max
  • Cadence: 95rpm avg, 116rpm max
  • Heart Rate: 164bpm avg, 175bpm max

I found this photo on the Nation’s Tri facebook page  - it is some of the first people coming back into T2, look how close they all are.  The Facebook post is here


T2 – 1:30

Getting in to the transition area was crowded again, I found my spot quickly, put on my running shoes and was off without wasting any time.  I wanted to take the bike computer with me on the run.  As I got to the end of T2 I realized that I forgot it.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I would miss looking at my HR data after the race.

Run – 40:30 – 159/2427 Overall Men's – 6 minute PR

monument-runAfter such a good bike split, I thought for a second that it was possible that the run could take longer than the bike leg.  Thankfully I didn’t have much pain.  I did alter my running style to minimize the stress on my left calf.  The compression sleeves really helped too.  Not having a watch was really nice, I could focus purely on feel and not worry about pace at all.

I started out at what felt like an easy pace, similar to the pace I would hold for my long runs to see where the legs were at.  I was happily surprised to be feeling pretty good, and was actually passing a lot of people.  Most of them were from the groups in front of me, I didn’t see many in my age group on the run course at all.  I do remember 1 person in my age group passed me, he was really moving.

The run course is as fast as the bike, flat as can be, with a little uphill section near the Washington Monument – nothing really to slow you down.   I was able to run only by what felt ok.  I thought I was running somewhere around an 8/8:30 minute mile, it turns out that it was much faster than that.   The course was well marked out, with easy to see mile markers, they even had a 5k marker, which was a nice touch.  As I got to mile 4, I started to pick up the pace a little, to see what I had left for the finish.  I ended up finishing strongly, with a decent burst over the last 1/4 mile.

At the finish I really had no idea what my run split was or my overall time.  I knew that I had put in a good race, and thought I might get within the top 40-50 in my age group.  Last year I had finished 61st place and that was my best race ever.   I figured that I might have run somewhere in the 48-50minute range, which I would have been totally happy with.  I was happy just to be running, and not walking after the calf trouble during the week before.

Post Racenations-tri-result-001

After finishing, I walked back to my bike, changed shoes and put on a t-shirt, then walked back to the finish area to get some food.  I stopped by the timing tent to get the printout with the unofficial results (see right).  This is one of the great unique things about this race, a printed result sheet showing your splits, total time and division place.  To my total shock I finished the run in 40:30 (an average of 6:31/mile).  This was a full 6 minutes faster than last year, and faster than any run in training too.  I still am not sure how that happened, especially with no running for the 10 days before the race with a strained calf.

The other thing that surprised me was my finish position – 11th in my age group.  I was thinking top 40 might be possible, so this was a really great result.





The organizers did a great job with this race again, even with the swim cancellation.  They made a real effort to let everyone know that the swim was cancelled, and were able to quickly respond to the many Facebook & twitter questions too.  I haven’t thought about my schedule for next year, but I would love to do this race again.


Overall Race Comments

  • if you are looking for a race where you can post really fast times, this is it!
  • I would like to do this race again, but I hope next year the weather is better so we can swim, and hopefully that will minimize drafting on the bike
  • there were plenty of port-a-johns at the race, I think this is a first.  I did see some queue’s, however if you walked another 100 meters towards the finish area, there were plenty without lines.  I needed to go 3 times before the race start and never had to wait
  • I hope the transition area next year goes back to what it was before – I thought it was less than fair for a lot of people this year.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nation’s Tri predictions & calf injury

I am doing the Nation’s Tri again this year.  It was my most fun race from last year – see my race report for details.

Not only was it a fun race last year, it was my first Olympic distance Triathlon, and I finished with a time that far exceeded my expectations – 2:28:11.  So what about this year, do I think I can beat that?  Until 2 days ago, I was pretty sure I could post a great PR this year after some solid training for the last few months, but then on Sunday I was at the pool with the kids and while diving off a 1meter diving board I felt a pop in my left calf.  I could barely walk after getting out of the water.  Since then I have been applying plenty of rest, ice and compression.  It is starting to feel a little better, but is still very sore.  I can’t push at all, but I can walk.  I don’t think I will be running at all next Sunday during the race.  I do have an appointment at a Sports Doctor for Thursday to get a better idea of the extent of the problem and what the recovery time is likely to be.

My first thought was that my race was done, however after some reflection I realized how lucky I am to be able to race at all.  Less than 3 years ago I would never have thought I’d be competing in an Olympic distance triathlon, especially with a 1.5km swim.  I remember seeing some forum posts recently that a DFL > DNF > DNS.  So with that in mind, or unless the doctor tells me otherwise, I am going to start the race and walk through T1, T2  and the run.  So instead of getting down about missing my original goal, I can set a completely new goal.

I hope the swim will be wetsuit legal again this year, if not I’ll be around 2-3 minutes slower than last year.  Anywhere around 28-30 minutes will be great.  If the water is warm, I think I will be in the 30-32 minute range.  This year they have switched to a time trial start, instead of mass waves of 200+.  This should be interesting.  It means that we can’t get in the water before the start for a warm-up.  My swimming is not as strong as it was last year, having spent a whole lot less time at the pool.  I have been working hard for the last few weeks, so I am hoping that I can come close to last years great time of 27:37.

I am stronger on the bike this year.  With the new bike fitness/power and the new bike, I am still hoping for a strong performance.  The course is a little different, so I am not sure how that might change the final time. Last years time was 1:08:27, far exceeding my expectation of a 1:15.  This was the first race that I was able to average over 20mph.  I’d really like to finish in the 1:05-1:06 range this year. 

Last year’s run leg was a great one for me – 46:39, this was a real breakthrough. I felt strong and really pushed for the last 3 miles. Before the calf injury I was hoping to get close to that again  So now I am going to try to walk in a sub 15:00 mile pace.

Time Predictions:



2011 (fit)

2011 walking






     5:00 (walking)






     3:00 (walking)



1:28:00 (walking)




The time is always hard to predict, I think a 2:25 was possible before the injury.  Usually I can walk much faster than 15:00/mile so I’ll walk as fast as I can without pain.  If I can walk a little faster, I might go close to the 3:00 mark.

So my priorities and goals have changed.  #1 is to make sure I don’t do any damage to my calf.  If I can have a good swim/bike I’ll be happy with whatever comes after that.  I am trying to keep things in perspective.  I will be happy being out there giving it a go, and if I do happen to be dead last, then I will celebrate that I could finish and didn’t give up.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Using Strava to analyze your rides

An alternate title for this post could be simply “Strava is awesome”.  I recently was put on to strava via a friend.  Originally I had thought it was just another online tool to track bike rides & runs like Garmin Connect or trainingpeaks, both of which I use frequently. 

But then I had a look at strava, and there are a couple of features that really stood out:-

  • comparing sections of a ride with others – with King of the Mountain competitions
  • identifying the climb difficulty and statistics – e.g. category 2,3,4, % grade, elevation gain etc.

So I signed up for a the free service and immediately I really liked what I saw.  I have been riding a bit recently in the hills out at Skyline drive, the first of any sort of mountain riding I had done.  When I uploaded my first ride, I could immediately see how difficult the climbs were, and it told me what position I had finished against anyone else who has uploaded a ride from the same location.

Here’s an example:-first-ride-elevation
not only can you see the elevation for the whole ride, it split up the ride into segments automatically. In addition to that, you see a table with your performance for each segment.  You can also add your own segments.
I found this fascinating.  The first climb of the day was a tough one, after a 4.5 mile descent the climb is 3.9 miles, it is rated at a category 2 (same scale used in the tour de France).  It took me 26:37 to complete the climb at an average pace of 8.8mph, with an average HR of 152.  It also estimates the average power for the climb, for those like me without a power meter.  When you click on the climb segment, you get even more detail – like the grade being an average of 5.7%, and information about who is the fastest man & woman to complete the same climb.  Once you have loaded up several rides along the same segments, you can compare your own best performances too.

If you look closely at the icons on the left column of the chart above, there are some awards there too, it will tell you if you have a new PR or even if you made the “KOM” King of the Mountain. 

Of course you can choose whether to keep your information private, or public and compare to others.   There is an element of social networking built in too – friends can leave comments on your efforts and can click on the “Kudos” button (just like a “like” in Facebook).

It is possible to create your own segments too – they don’t have to be just hills.  Last weekend I combined 2 rides that I often do into a single long ride.  I created segments for a tough out/back and another segment for a loop I often do, so now whenever I go back, I have something to compare them too.  When you create a segment, you can choose to keep it private, or make it public for everyone else to have a go at.

Here’s another example:

An out and back section of almost 17 miles with a decent amount of rolling hills.carters-run-elevation

and after uploading 3 rides where I completed this section, I can compare the results.carters-run-comparison

Part of the reason for the difference in speed/time between May 22nd and June 5th was switching to racing tires.  The ride on August 20th was part of a 3hr ride, not sure why the HR was up as high as it was, but it is good to see that I was only 25 seconds slower than the last time where I felt like I went harder on a much shorter ride.

I’ll often catch myself thinking that I had a “great ride” today – now I have a tool to help me understand this much better.  It won’t just be a perception any more, or an overall average speed that I use, with Strava I can analyze it in many different ways.

You don’t even have to have a fancy bike computer.  Strava supports Garmin devices, and there is also an app that you can download for the iPhone and Android platforms.

I think it is my new favorite tool!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weight loss experiment progress

Last week I started an experiment to see if I could drop a few pounds before my next race.  I started loosely following a diet that fatty had some huge success with.  Note: he’s not fat at all, and his cycling blog is awesome.  

The first 3 days started very well, down 4.8 pounds from my last post here.

Since then I have continued to drop some extra body fat, it seems mostly from around my trunk – this is exactly what I wanted, but really hadn’t expected.

So after a week now – I am down a total of 7.2 pounds (today was 177.8), my original goal was around 177, so I am just about there.   I mentioned above that I am not following the diet strictly – most of the time I’ll have the egg whites & avocado twice a day (once on Saturday and not at all on Sunday), adding in some grated mozzarella and a small tomato to make it taste better.  In the evenings we’ve been having a salad with chicken. 

I feared that the weekend might undo all of the gains (actually losses) that I had made, with a great dinner party @ friends on Saturday evening, with much more than my normal amount of alcohol.  On Sunday evening I helped the kids make pizza from scratch – and of course I had to try some for myself.  I also completed 2 hard 3hr bike rides this weekend, following my planned race/pre-race fueling strategy, it is more important to me to continue quality training,  so I am not really focused on losing weight.

So where to now…  Since last week went so well, I’ll try to continue again this week.  Maybe if I’m lucky I might even hit around 175!  Wow, I can’t believe that I am now in the 170’s and confident I can stay there.  This is a long way from where I started 2.5 years ago – 30lbs heavier and had no thoughts of triathlon at all, I had just started doing some running hoping to at 208lb and wanting to get under 200.  I might even try to get leaner over the off-season this winter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Luray Sprint Triathlon–Race report

I was really looking forward to this the Luray Triathlon this year, actually I had wanted to compete in the International/Olympic distance, but that race sold out before I had a chance to register.  So I registered for the Sprint distance, which still provides a great challenge.

I ended up having a great race, perhaps my best ever!

Race Lead-Up

I didn’t have a specific goal for this race, it was the first since completing the EagleMan 70.3 in June, and a good test of my training progress before my ‘A’ races at The Nation’s Triathlon, and the Beach to Battleship HIM later this year.

About 6 weeks before the race, I completed a training ride out on the Luray course (completing both the Olympic and Sprint courses).  I had heard that it was hilly, and it turned out to be a good tough ride with a mix of hills, but not as scary as I had imagined.  For both rides I managed to average 18.7mph (with my training tires), completing the 17.5 mile sprint course in 56 minutes.    After some recent rides in the mountains @ Skyline Drive I knew that my bike form was  good, and hoped for a good result.  I have also been putting in some decent runs recently, so I was hoping for a strong showing on the run too.

My swimming on the other hand has suffered a bit lately – having only averaged <1 swim session per week since in the last 6 weeks.  Realistically I wasn’t expecting much there.

I didn’t really have a time goal, other than the following:-

  • Swim – around 15 minutes
  • Bike – beat my training time by a few minutes
  • Run – somewhere around 23 minutes – beating my last sprint 5k time

Since this wasn’t an ‘A’ race, I really didn’t taper much, completing some hard run and bike intervals earlier in the week, and a long run (long for me anyway) of 14 miles on Thursday.

Race Day

The weather forecast was terrible, large chance of rain all morning.  We arrived at the race site shortly after 6am, as the on-site packet pick-up was starting up, and before a lot of the crowds arrived.  There was some light rain falling, however it looked like it might clear up.  It turned out to be great weather for racing.  The sun even came out by the end of the run.

One thing that I thought was cool, was that the numbering this time went in reverse alphabetical order.  Having a surname in the W’s always meant a high number – but this time I was number 8, which positioned me on the first rack nearest to the bike exit.  That was really nice.

I got the bike setup and covered my running shoes and bike helmet/glasses in case it rained during the swim leg.  I was positioned under a tree, so it was very likely that my things would get a little wet.  It didn’t cost me any time to move the covers during T1 & T2, and meant that my glasses had no drops of water when I got on to the bike.

Swim – 15:11 (750m) 

My swim time was decent, considering my lack of consistent swim practice.  I really wanted to come in under 15 minutes, and actually I exited the water just under 15, but it was 20meters or so to the timing mat.  I was happy with my effort, but could really feel my legs dragging in the water, which surely slowed me down.

Earlier in the morning, it was announced that the Swim was wetsuit legal, by .5 of a degree.  The rain from the night before had cooled the water off just enough.  Stupid me didn’t bring the wetsuit, which would have made a significant difference in my time, but not to my AG placing.

One interesting thing to note is the great venue that was chosen for this race.  Lake arrowhead is clean and clear, a pleasure to swim in, and much better than some other local races.


T1 – 1:31

the jog across the beach, up the stairs and through the transition area is quite long, and mostly up-hill.  I’m happy with my transition.  There really wasn’t much to do, put the glasses and helmet on, grab the bike and go with a flying mount.  I was first in my age group in transition (a first for me).

Since I was in the 2nd swim wave (3 mins after the first), there was not a lot of traffic in the transition area, that was nice.

Bike – 50:25 - 17.5 miles

My thoughts for the bike leg was to go out pretty hard, and see if I have anything left for the run.  Since this wasn’t an important race for me, it was a good time to experiment a little.  After exiting the transition area, you hit the first of the hills.  I went quite hard, but stayed in the saddle and kept a little in reserve, and was passing a lot of people.  After the first hill, which is a decent climb, but not all that steep (average of 4% for 1/2 mile), you get a great downhill section.  I glanced at my Garmin and saw it at 48mph, checking the log after the race my max speed was 48.9!  The bad thing about this hill, is that you have to climb it on the way back.  It is a 9% average grade for just under 1/2 a mile.  And only 1 mile from Transition.

For the rest of the bike leg I felt great, and passed a lot of other riders.  There were only 2 people that passed me.  This is a first for me too, usually I get passed by the stronger riders in the swim waves behind me. 

It really helped to be familiar with the course, so I could concentrate on going fast, rather than guessing what was coming next, especially since the 2 toughest hills were in the last  3 miles of the bike leg.

There was great support on the last steep climb of the day, it is always awesome to have people cheering and with cowbells when you are racing!

As I approached transition, I looked at the time, right around 50 minutes, with an average of 21mph!  Awesome, I thought – beat my training ride by almost 6 minutes.  The racing tires helped, but a new level of fitness on the bike really made the difference here.

The following picture shows the course elevation on the bike, courtesy of Strava

Some other statistics from the bike leg:-

  • Avg HR 165
  • Max HR 174 (shows that I went hard, but not all out)
  • Avg cadence 85 (from Garmin connect, strava says 89.18)
  • Max cadence 128
  • Avg Speed 21 mph
  • Max Speed 48.9 mph
  • Elevation gain 1,217ft

T2 – 0:52

My bike dismount was great, didn’t really slow down much and execute a decent flying dismount.  It was a short jog to the first rack of bikes (yay for reverse alphabetical order!).  I quickly ditched the helmet and put on my running shoes and off I went.  My legs felt great.

Run – 22:24 – 3.1 miles/5k

The run course was difficult, and out-and-back 5k with rolling hills.  There really wasn’t much in the way of flat sections.  I went out with only my stopwatch with HR readings, so I could just run by feel.  Similar to the bike, I had a few speedsters pass me, but I was holding my own with most of the runners, and actually passing a few too.

I looked at my watch after the first mile – it was 7:00.  It felt a lot slower than that – but I thought I could keep the pace up – and if I did, I thought that it might be possible to run a sub 23:00.

I did suffer a bit on the run, but in a race this short if you are not suffering, you are not going hard enough. 

I ended up finishing in 22:24 – a new PR for me by almost a minute, and on a tougher course!

It was great to see my Wife and Kids at the finish line too – this was a surprise.  Since the weather was questionable, I didn’t think they were coming.

The following picture is me about 50 meters away from the finish leg

Wrap-Up – Overall time 1:30:22

After finishing I talked with a friend who was there for a lot of the race – he said I might have placed in my age group.  So I went and checked the times, and thought I counted 4 people ahead of me.  I was really happy with the overall time, close to my Kinetic sprint time, on a harder course.

Thinking that I wasn’t in the Top 3, I left with Diane (who came 4th in her division, awesome Job), and didn’t stay around for the awards presentation.  To my complete shock, I ended up 2nd in my Age Group! 

I got an email from our Masters swim team coach, saying that he had my 2nd place trophy!  I thought it was a joke.  It turns out that there is a category/award for the top 3  ‘Masters’ – anyone over the age of 40.  The top two in my age group (40-44) were 2nd and 3rd in the Masters, which moved me up from 4th to 2nd in the placings.  I still don’t know what happened to the person I thought was 30 seconds or so in front of me, perhaps he was disqualified.

So I really finished 4th, it feels like my 2nd was something like a rolldown award, but since this is my first time finishing on the podium in Triathlon, I’ll take it!!  If you look at the screen-prints below, you can see that 2nd (#562) and 3rd (#471) in the Top 3 Masters Males both beat my time, but a long way.  My run was similar, but they were way better on the swim and bike.

Masters PlacesAG-places

Annabel and the kids, after the race – it was great to have them there.finish with annabelwith the kids

Charlie, Shane and Mike representing the masters swim team finished first in their relay – an amazing effort, especially since Charlie did Butterfly for the whole swim leg.

Here’s a picture of the team, taken from the team blog – I’m 4th from the left, next to Diane in the pink top, with Lake Arrowhead in the background.

Final Thoughts

Luray is an awesome race, one which I will definitely do again.  The venue is first class, great for spectators and racers too, and very well organized.  It is also the best venue that I can realistically drive to for some longer brick sessions, since you can swim in the lake, and the biking around the area is great for hills.

This race shows that my training is on-track and I hope to continue improving over the next few months.  Hopefully I can get my swimming back on track too, I am going to try to complete 2-3 swim sessions per week, and also cross my fingers that the Nation’s Tri will be wetsuit legal (it helps me a lot).

Weight Loss Update–2 days in, 4.8 lb. down

I am now 2 days into my effort to drop a few pounds before my next race in just over 3 weeks.

So far it is going pretty well, here’s an update of my progress.

  • Day 1
    • Start weight: 185
    • 1hr run in the morning, 3x1 mile repeats, afternoon 30 minute swim
  • Day 2
    • Weight: 182.5 – down 2.5
    • feeling a little tired.  Masters swim in the evening.  In addition to the egg whites & avocado, I had a muffin and Hammer bar to fuel the masters session.  Felt good.
    • Skipped my planned run workout today, have some pain in my left heel.  It is probably Plantar Fasciitis, so I need to rest my feet for a few days.
  • Day 3
    • Weight:  180.2 – down 2.3 since yesterday, 4.8 total
    • bike interval session this morning, planned 4x10mins @ 255w with 2 minutes rest.  Got through the first 2 intervals ok, but struggled on the 3rd, stopped 5 minutes into the 3rd work interval, and rode 15 minutes easy, with a 3 minute hardish effort.  Usually I’d consider that a fail, but I think the lack of fueling before the workout hurt me here.  Ran a 20 minute brick after the ride at a pretty slow pace and felt ok

So far I am pretty happy with progress so far, let’s see if I can get under 180 tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Training/Racing Update

It has been a while since my last post after the EagleMan 70.3 race.  Since then I’ve had a busy summer, which included volunteering at IronMan Lake Placid, and registering to race there next year!

My training has been progressing well, and this weekend I raced a sprint triathlon in Luray – this was really a B race just to see where I my training is, before the Nation’s Triathlon in September (4 weeks away) and the Beach to Battleship 1/2 tri at the end of October.  I’ll post a race report this week.  I managed to finish 2nd in my Age group – first time in the top 3 and a very encouraging result.  More on that later this week.

The other thing we (my wife and I) started this week is a push to lose a few extra pounds.  My weight has been hovering around 183 for the past 6 months, and I thought that dropping down to the high 170’s would mean I could run a little faster.  So we are trying to replicate what Fatty – from did with his egg white/avocado eating plan.  His blog is awesome, and when we talked about both wanting to lose 5+ pounds, I immediately thought if this.

This morning we weighted in – I’ll try to keep posting my progress for the next couple of weeks, or at least until we stop.

Starting Weight:  185lb – I always seem to weight more after a weekend, and would likely drop to 184 by tomorrow anyway.
Goal Weight:  178lb

I am still going to keep training, only then will I consume something different, like Recoverite after a hard workout, or EFS during a longer workout etc.

So far today I’ve had 1 serving (5 egg whites with 1/2 avocado) and about an hour after that I went for a 1hr run with 3x1mile intervals at the track.  I felt pretty good, especially considering I raced pretty hard yesterday.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Garmin Giveaway -

I started with triathlon 2 years ago – in that time I’ve been using a Polar RS300x running watch to track HR, and have been wanting ever since to own one of the Garmin multi-sport watches (like the 30xt, or whatever model will replace that soon). 

After getting a new bike this year, and with it a Garmin edge 500, I now realize how much more data these devices collect that my little old polar.   Here’s a chance to win one something great.  The blog is having a giveaway for either a Garmin 310XT, Edge 500 (already have that for the bike) or a forerunner 405. 

Even if you don’t enter/win – this blog is worth reading

Fingers crossed!

Monday, June 20, 2011

EagleMan 70.3 Race Report


This was my first foray into the longer distance races.  I’ll start by saying that I had a fantastic race and managed to finish in 5:16:22!, well under my 5:30 goal time.

There’s so much that I want to document from this race, it’s hard to know where to start.  I think it is going to be a long post.  It has taken me a while to get around to it, because I had a busy work/travel schedule immediately following the race.

Check-In and Pre-race

I arrived on Friday afternoon, a little later than I had hoped IMG_1771
because of traffic and work commitments, however I did get there in time to check-in and get my race packet.  The process was very quick, and the best thing about it was the number that I was assigned…  900! 

The expo was smaller than I had expected, I wandered around a bit and after picking up a new set of goggles I drove over to the transition area to scope out the swim course.  I had originally planned to swim most of the course of Friday, but it was getting late in the afternoon and I wanted to get back and meet up with the family.

I while I was at the transition area, I found my bike location.  It was a really great spot, 2nd row from the front (the bike exit side) only a few steps away from the pro racks.  The area was well marked, and even had my name printed on it.  btw – I did both of the things on the note at the bottom.IMG_1777

After finishing up at the race site I drove to the house that we were staying in for the weekend.  It ended up being about 35 miles away, but was definitely worth the trip.  a great house on the water, with a pool.  The kids had an awesome time, and I got to spend time with them before and after the race too.  Here’s some pictures of their fun weekend.











I went back to the race site on Saturday to meet up with some friends, (Kate, Rich & Diane).  We all went for a warm-up swim along part of the course and also a 10 minute ride to make sure the bikes were in working order.  After racking the bikes we had a great lunch of fresh pasta @ Scossa in Easton. 

The last thing I did on Saturday evening was get everything ready for an early start on race morning, set the alarm for 4am and tried to get some sleep. 

Race Morning

I woke before my alarm, didn’t really sleep very well.  Consumed a couple of hammer bars and a bottle of EFS and I was on my way.  The only cars on the road at that time were also heading to the race site.  I managed to get there early enough to park a few blocks away from the race site, so I didn’t have to park further away and get the shuttle.

It didn’t take long to get my transition area setup, clipped the shoes on to the bike, added water to the speedfil and pumped up the tires.  I did get to walk past the pro area – it was great to see them getting ready, including Terenzo Bozzone and Mirinda Carfrae.

The Race

Before long, it was time to head over to the swim start.  The pro’s went off at 6:45, and my wave was 7:26, so I had plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere and get myself ready.  There was some confusion around the race start.  The announcer was saying that we would be starting 10 minutes early, but we ended up starting right on time.  My age group was so large that it was split into 2 waves.  We had around 8 minutes to get in the water and complete a bit of a warm-up before the start. 

I was remarkably calm, considering this was my first long race.  This is normal for me, I don’t usually get too worked-up before the start, unlike many others around me in the water.  It must be from all of the years of competitive windsurfing.  The nice thing about the swim start was that you could stand, it was about shoulder deep across most of the starting line.

Swim – 42:52 (100th/235 in age group)

My plan for the swim was to take it relatively easy, so I wouldn’t harm the rest of my race. My goal time was anywhere around 40 minutes.  I though I was swimming a little faster than the time suggested, but overall I was happy with the effort I put in.  I did get off-course a few times, I  found myself veering to the right a number of times.  A few times I was able to draft of some people on front, but for most of the swim I was on my own.

One thing I do remember is that it seemed so long, as I rounded the final turn mark I could make out the transition area in the distance, but it looked so far away.  As I approached the  beach at the swim exit, there were a lot of people wading in waist deep water.  I decided to do some porpoise dives which is always faster than walking through water and picked up a few places. 

By the time I got to the timing mat, my watch read 43:00, I started it around 10 seconds before the start, but I was a little disappointed with the time.    I didn’t dwell on it though and made my way to transition as fast as I could.  I did feel a little cramp in my quads as I was exiting the water, something that I’ve never felt after a swim before.

I do remember seeing Diane at the swim exit, she was volunteering.  This was a great boost for me, it’s so nice to see a familiar face during the race.

Transition 1 – 1:45 (18th/235 in age group)

Nothing much to report here – transition was smooth.  Since I had my bike shoes already on the bike, there wasn’t much to do.  Put on the race number, glasses and helmet and then grab the bike and go. 

A few days ago, I got an email from the race organizers with an attached race report – it says that T1 was my best leg of the race!  It says that I passed 14 people in my age group in transition.

Bike – 2:34:21 (66th/235 in age group)

I had been looking forward to the bike leg for a long time – it is usually my favorite of the 3 (often not my best leg, but the one I am most comfortable on).  I knew it was a fast course, and it wasn’t too hot or windy. 

I started off conservatively – taking on some water after the swim.  The bike leg starts on local roads and had a few turns, so I took it pretty easy through the first mile or so.  I was feeling great, and after getting onto the open road I was happy to see that my speed was around 22mph and I wasn’t pushing at all.

I had set my bike computer to auto-lap every 5 miles, this was a cue for nutrition (EFS liquid shot)  and also served to break the leg up into small chunks and enabled me to monitor my progress.  I completed the first 5 miles in 13:45 at an average of 21.8 – I was hoping I could keep that up for the rest of the race.

There were 4 aid stations on the bike leg, I didn’t stop at the first one, since I had plenty of water for the first 20+ miles.  At the 2nd stop I picked up a bottle of water and emptied it into the speedfil.  This was the first time I’d done this, wasn’t sure how much I should slow down to grab the water bottle, but it was uneventful.  At the 3rd water stop at about 30 miles in, I did the same thing, but the volunteer took a step towards me at the last second and I nearly crashed.  I’ll remember to hold my arm wider next time.  It wasn’t really a big deal, I said thanks and was on my way.  I tried to thank everyone that I came in contact with, since without the volunteers the race just wouldn’t happen.

At about mile 40, I started to not feel quite right.  A tightness in my stomach.  I thought it was because I had a large gulp of gel a mile or so before, so I decided to back off the nutrition for the moment.  I  think this decision hurt me during the run.  It was around this time that we turned on to Egypt rd.  I had read in past race reports that this is the place where the headwinds are usually at their worst. Thankfully it wasn’t bad at all, there was a head-wind but it really wasn’t strong and my average speed was still pretty good.  Here’s the splits for each 5 miles during the race:-

Split Time Distance Avg Speed Avg HR Max HR Avg Cadence Max Cadence
1 13:45 5 21.8 159 164 85 110
2 12:41 5 23.6 153 157 88 97
3 13:48 5 21.7 153 157 86 101
4 14:11 5 21.1 150 155 90 101
5 13:41 5 21.9 149 154 86 98
6 13:27 5 22.3 150 155 86 98
7 12:49 5 23.4 153 157 88 98
8 13:15 5 22.6 148 155 86 100
9 14:18 5 21.0 150 157 85 103
10 14:00 5 21.4 151 158 84 97
11 14:07 5 21.2 153 158 83 100
12 3:17 1.12 20.4 157 161 73 95
Summary 2:33:24 56.12 21.9 151 164 86 110

The official course time was 2:34:21 for an average speed of 21.77.  I was very happy with this.  I didn’t push too hard, actually I never felt any fatigue in my legs during the bike leg. My cadence and heart rate were right where I wanted (around 90rpm and 155bpm).  For the last 15 miles I did find myself getting tight in the shoulders, so I would sit up for a few seconds and stretch a little.  I have only had my triathlon bike for a month, so I guess this was to be expected.  I did get a good fitting, but haven’t had the final adjustment yet. 

Transition 2 – 2:39 (62nd/235 in age group)

I took it pretty easy through transition.  During the bike leg, I had decided to take my bike computer (Garmin Edge 500) along on the run leg – so I could see my heart rate and speed after the race.  I didn’t look at it during the run leg at all.

I did remember to apply some sunscreen in transition, but I forgot to remove my sunglasses when doing so – so I managed to spray some on my glasses, which I had to clean off as I was running.

Overall it was a good transition – take the helmet off, put on the shoes (no socks) and fuel-belt and head off running.  I was feeling pretty good at this point.  I knew that if I could run the 1/2 marathon in under 2 hours I’d finish with a great time of around 5:20.

Run – 1:54:45 (75th/235 in age group)

The run leg was the biggest unknown for me.  I had not done a lot of running leading up to the race, and was a little worried that the calf problems that I was having earlier in the year may come back during the race.

As I started running, the cheers of the crowd support was pretty amazing.   I heard Diane shout out, which gave me a great boost.  Right about this time, I could feel my right quad starting to cramp.  This wasn’t good, and was something that I had not experienced before.  I did remember to put some salt tablets (Hammer Endurolytes) in the pocket of my fuel-belt,  so I took 2 with some water tried to relax for the first few miles.  I was feeling it – and wasn’t running at my usual training pace.   I remember the first mile taking just under 9 minutes – but I was starting to feel a little better.  At least the cramping was gone.

After about 3 miles I settled into a decent rhythm, running around 8:40-8:45 miles.  I was not trying to hit any specific numbers, just staying steady and not going out too hard.  I was passing a lot of people, and of course there were people flying past me.

I actually felt pretty good between miles 3 and 8, but I found the last 3-4 miles a struggle.  After reflecting on the race, I figured that I just didn’t consume enough calories and simply ran out of energy.  I didn’t have any more cramping, but really had to struggle from about mile 9-13.  The great news is that I didn’t have any calf issues at all.

The course is an out and back, without much break from the sun.  I did try to put ice in my had at each aid station, this really helped.  The fuel-belt worked well too.  For me, I usually do better when I sip water frequently, rather than taking a big gulp at each station.  I was close to finishing my 7oz bottle by the time each station came up, so I’d grab a cup of ice, and enough water to fill the bottle and be off the the next one.

Early in the run, I did see Mirinda Carfrae, the women’s pro winner – she was closing in on the finish, between miles 9 and 10, and just flying (she finished with a 1:21:39 run leg).  I wasn’t fast enough to see any of the pro men.  A little while later I saw Sam Warriner who was in 3rd, she looked like she was in a lot of pain.  The guy who was running next to me at that point said that he didn’t feel so bad, after seeing a pro look like we all feel!  I was great to be so close to the pro’s, there aren’t many sports where you are on the same course at the same time.

At the last aid station before the turn-around, I dropped the top of my water bottle when refilling.  Of course I didn’t realize this until I was a hundred meters down the road.  I didn’t bother going back for it, I figured that the turn-around was only 1/2 a mile up the road, so I could get it on the way back.  Sure enough, it was still there when I returned.

I was still feeling good at this point, and managed to keep a steady pace of around 8:45 per mile at miles 7 & 8.  There wasn’t a time where I hit the wall, but after mile 9 I really found it to be a struggle.   Towards the end of the run, there were a few turns, and I distinctly remember one of the turns where you could see the finish about 1.5 miles away.  It looked SO far.  We also passed the water at this point, I really could have used a swim to cool off a little.

One thing driving me to the finish line was that Annabel and the Kids would be there waiting.  They don’t often get to come to races, so this would be a real treat for me.  I was determined not to stop running, but my pace had dropped to around 10 minutes per mile at this point.   I did some calculations and was hoping to get somewhere around 5:17.  As the last turn came I gave it everything I had until the finish line.  The finish area was really great, a long area with tons of people cheering.  I spotted Annabel and the kids, and managed to give them a hi-5 on my way to the finish. 

Since I used the bike computer on the run, I didn’t get splits for every mile, but here’s what I did get.  You can see the my pace really did drop off in the last few miles.

Split Time Distance Avg Speed Avg HR Max HR
1 43:59 5 8:47 155 165
2 43:46 5 8:45 164 170
3 27:37 2.89 10:37 159 182

This was my 2nd 1/2 marathon ever – the first was a year ago (run only) and I finished in 1:53:55 – to finish within 1 minute of that time was a great result.

Final Result – 5:16:22 (69th/235 in age group)

I gave this race everything I had, at the end I was spent, but felt amazingly good.  The post-race food really hit the spot.  Sitting around with the family was a great moment.  The kids had made signs, and even had my race number on their arms and legs, just like dad!






Post Race

Before the race, I figured that my best possible finish might be 5:16 – see my post about there here  - here’s the table I put together, with a new column with the actual times.

  Estimated Actual
Swim 40 minutes 42:52
T1 3 minutes 1:45
Bike 2:40 – to 2:50 2:34:21
T2 3 minutes 2:39
Run 1:50-1:55 1:54:45
Total 5:16-5:31 5:16:22

So I was remarkably close to the best possible time!  In my mind the real goal time was 5:30, so I really did well there.

As icing on the cake for the day’s events, Kate finished 2nd in her age group, and managed to qualify for a spot in Kona too!  What an amazing and inspiring effort! 

A funny thing happened to me on the drive home.  I was stuck in traffic and was starting to feel some cramping in my calves when changing gears (I drive a manual).  To ward off the cramps I too a few more salt tables, it worked really well!   The next morining I expected to be quite stiff and sore.  I had a 6am flight to Chicago, and surprisingly I wasn’t feeling to bad -  I was a little stiff, but nothing compared to what I had expected.  I managed to run twice during the week.

No race would be complete without an analysis of what I could do better, so here goes for this one.

  • Swim
    • more swim time in open-water.  And more masters sessions.  Over the last few months, I haven’t been able to get to any masters practices, I think my speed suffered as a result.  I would like to do more open-water swimming to get better at keeping a straighter line in the water.
  • Bike
    • I had a great bike leg, looking back, I could have done some longer rides and brick runs off some longer rides. 
    • take on more nutrition during the bike leg, to setup a better run
  • Run
    • more running,  continue progress, and add some speed work
    • consume more calories during the run

My next race of this distance is not until October 30th – at the Beach to Battleship in Wilmington, NC.  To get prepared for this race, I think I will have to follow a training plan.  Until now I’ve been winging it, trying to fit training in when I can – which often means either going out too hard, or not hard enough.  Finding and following a plan should allow me to get faster while minimizing my training time (hours).  Until then I have a sprint and 2 Olympic distance races planned, I’m really looking forward to these.