Friday, October 12, 2012

IronMan Lake Placid 2012 Race Report

It has take me forever to finish writing this race report.  I wanted to capture as much detail as I could remember so I could use it to help with my next ironman race, and because I wanted to capture what it felt like to finish my first IronMan.
Race preparation
I knew going in to this race that it would take a lot of preparation to be ready to complete 140.6 miles under my own steam.  I found it hard to finding enough time for training and balance that with being a father and husband, and of course work & travel. Looking over my training logs I did about as much as I could – averaging under 11.5 hours per week for the last 12 weeks of training.  I was very lucky to have had wonderful support from my family during the process.  For anyone contemplating giving it a crack – it is doable, but be prepared to juggle your time.

Swim:  1:16:13 – 1:58/100m, 1:48/100y
pre-swimThe swim portion of the race was the one that I was concerned about the most.  It wasn’t the distance of 2.4 miles that was the problem, it was the chaos at the start with 2,500+ people cramped into a narrow area that was my biggest concern.
The photo here was taken not long before the start.  I was with foof – we were both happy and surprisingly relaxed.  I was so happy to see Annabel and the kids before the start.  It really helped to put me in a good mental state to start the day.
We were actually fairly late to get to into the water.  I positioned myself less about 1/3rd from the dock and about 10 people back.  I had heard that there is usually a lot of people trying to get on the cable (inside) and many others go to the far side. My goal was to stay away from that. As I moved away from the dock I could see a gap.  With only a few minutes to go I figured it would be as good as anywhere to start.  I was close enough to clearly see Mike Riley getting everyone fired up to race.
With a minute to go before the start, I was feeling good, and surprisingly calm.
As the gun went off it was complete chaos.  I really felt like I was in a washing machine – people were everywhere.  It was hard to get a complete stroke in without hitting multiple people.  After a few minutes, I looked down and could see the underwater cable – this is a permanent fixture and is used to set the buoys for the course.  Most of the faster swimmers want to swim on/next to the cable for the most direct route.  There is no sighting needed there either.  I guess the field in front of me headed directly for the cable after the start, and I just got pulled along with them.
Usually when I am racing, I don’t let anything get to me.  This was different.  I felt very claustrophobic.  Just about every stroke I would bump into someone, and many were bumping in to me.  My heart rate was very high.  In the first 15 minutes I stopped 4 times to catch my breath, breast stroke a little and try to calm down.  I found it very difficult to get into any sort of a rhythm.  I did catch myself thinking “what am I doing here!” a couple of times. 
Any sense of trying to complete the swim in a given time was out the window at this point.  I tried to re-focus an get back “in the box” - a small space around me where I can control what is going on.  At this point I moved to inside of the buoy line and got a little room to move.    Much better.
As I came to the first turn mark there were a lot of people.  I managed to get around without too many problems and soon found myself on the return leg to the beach (still lap 1 of 2).  I glanced at my watch at the turn around markers ~19 minutes.  That wasn’t far off what I had expected.
On the leg back to shore my quads started to cramp up – I think this was from the initial stress of the start, kicking more than normal with all of the carnage in the water.  At one point I was unable to straighten my legs because of the cramping, I was also having trouble pointing my toes – not the most streamlined position to swim in!
As I reached the shore I was wondering how I would go on the second lap – would I have more of the same traffic and worse, cramping?   I looked at my watch – 38 minutes (official time 37:45).   With the way the swim started, I was very happy with that.  This meant that a 1:16 swim was within range.  Before the race I had told my family and friends that I would be in the 1:15 timeframe.
Before I started the second loop, I took a few seconds to stretch out my legs.  As I tried to stretch they just cramped more, so I figured I should just get in the water and swim easy   for a while.
The next outward leg I focused on being steady, breathing every 3rd stroke and tried my best to be efficient.  This really helped – the cramps got less and less and I was making some decent progress.
There was a lot less traffic on the second lap – I continued to swim inside of the cable where there was not too many people.   As I made the turn for the final (long) leg back to the shore someone hit me pretty hard, at right angles to where we were all heading.
The rest of the leg back was ok, however the shore just couldn’t come fast enough.  I was sighting a fair amount and I did not seem to be getting any closer.
Finally I got close enough to see the bottom, as I exited the water I glanced at my watch and it said 59minutes.  Hmmm – no way did I swim that fast.  It took a few moments to register that my watch had stopped near the last turn mark when I was hit.  I wasn’t worried by this and started it again.  I could see the 1:16 on the official clock and was happy to be on dry land as I headed for the wetsuit strippers.
I quickly got the wetsuit off and headed down the chute to the transition area.  As I turned the first corner I heard my name.  I turned around and saw Oliver and the rest of the family cheering for me.  that gave me a real boost, and even makes me a little emotional as I am writing this.
My swim times were fairly even for both laps.  37:45 & 38:28.  The 2nd lap is a little longer – because you have to swim about 20 meters/yards to the end of the dock, and I also stopped for ~ 30 seconds to stretch.  So my 2nd lap was probably a little faster for actual swimming time. 
Overall the swim was decent – within the range of what I had expected, given my ability level and how I had been training.
If I do this race again, I would definitely line up more to the outside.  Others who started  there who finished in a similar time had far less chaos to deal with.
T1 – 7:02
I got through transition as efficiently as I could. imlp-t1 It is a long run to the transition area from the lake.  My watch measured it as .38 miles.  I found my transition bag and made my way into the changing tent.  Wow – it was completely packed, people were everywhere, many were completely undressed.
I found a empty space close to the edge of the tent, very close to where the T1 bags were being tossed.  I did not have much to do, put on my helmet and sunglasses, grab my bike shoes and put my wetsuit in my T1 bag.  My goggles and swim cap were inside of the left arm of my wetsuit so I wouldn’t lose them.
I got out of the tent as fast as I could.   Not only was it very crowded, I remember it being very hot.
I picked up my bike from the bike rack, put on my shoes and headed for the bike mount area.  t1
There wasn’t much more I could to do to get through T1 any faster.  I am sure with a faster swim time it is much less crowded which could save around 1 minute.
Bike – 5:56:47
I was very happy to finally get on the bike.  I had a solid plan for the 112 mile bike ride.  I wanted to finish without burning up all of my energy.  Since this was my first full distance ironman race, I was going to err on the conservative side.  My pre-race goal was to finish in the 5:50-6:00 range. 
I had all of my race nutrition already on the bike, and only needed to get water at the aid stations.  My fuel of choice was EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla).  I filled 20oz into a 26oz water bottle, mounted horizontally between my arms, and filled the rest with water to make it flow a little better.  I had my bike computer setup to beep every 15 minutes, reminding me to take a mouthful.  Using this strategy should get me through the whole bike course – for a total of 1,600 calories.  Figuring in a 6hr ride – that would be 267 calories/hour.
The mount area was pretty crowded, but as I made my way out of town it wasn’t too bad.  I settled in to a easy pace.  My plan was to take the first 30 minutes easy and then settle in to my pace/watts for the rest of the ride.  To understand the effort/watts I was planning to ride at, here are my details leading into the race.
Height:   5’ 10”
Weight:  175 at time of race
FTP:         296 – tested about 3 weeks before the race
Target Watts:  207-222  (70-75%)
The first 2.5 miles of the bike is mostly down-hill.  I took this part easy and started to drink some water.  From there the next 5.5 miles is mostly up-hill.  648 ft of climbing vs 212ft descending.  I got through this section before the big downhill section in 27:30 for an average power of 191watts (NP 205w, max 452w, avg speed 16.5mph) well inside of my target pace range and exactly as planned.
The descent down the the town of Keane was awesome.  The next 13 miles were practically all down hill, for a total of 1,667 ft of descending and 146ft of climbing.  My average speed was 28.4 (max 47) – for 163w average power (NP 182w).  That was the most fun I have had in a race.  I stayed as aero as I could and passed a lot of people.
At the bottom of the descent, there is a nice flat/rolling section before the up-hill begins on the way back in to town.
I was sticking to my plan as best I could.  I broke the bike leg into 30 minute chunks.  For each 30 minute segment I was watching my power.  This made it easy to focus only on that segment and not let time skew/flatten the averages. As an hour passed by  I assessed how I was feeling.  At that moment I was feeling great.  I was riding very easy and I had covered 22.9 miles – this was awesome (I realized later that we had a tail wind on the flat section, so the speed was higher than normal).
A few minutes later I went through an aid station and did my usual grab a bottle of water take off the top and empty the water into my speedfil.  This means I can sip water whenever I want without getting up to hold a bottle. 
Just after I cleared the aid station something did not feel right.  I looked down and noticed that my back tire was flat.  It took me 7:26 to change the tube.  I took time to be careful to make sure that there was nothing sharp in the tire.  I couldn’t find anything.  Changing a back tire usually takes a longer than the front.  I haven’t really practiced changing a tire/tube fast – but I have changed tires many times over the last 6 months so I was comfortable with the procedure.  Losing over 7 minutes was not what I had wanted, but I did not let it get to me.  I think this is one of the things I was very proud of throughout the day, I maintained my focus and controlled what I could.  A flat tire was out of my control, so I just continued on.  One of the worst things I could have done was to get frustrated and then try to make up for lost time.
A few miles after I got going again we hit the turn-around at Jay, this is when I realized how much wind there was on the course.  I had made a decision before the race not to show any speed readings (current/avg etc) on the main page of my bike computer.  This meant that I was not trying to chase a given speed, I was focusing on the effort I was putting out and would let the speed take care of itself.  I think this was a good decision.
Shortly after the turn-around I passed Rich, he had a much better swim that I did (~1:11), we chatted for a little while, which was a nice break.
For the climbing sections going in to Wilmington and Lake Placid I was focused on maintaining a steady effort.  a lot of people around me were pushing pretty hard, I spun up the hills maintaining a consistent effort.  I kept my average power in the 210w range for each 30 minute section.
112 miles is a long way on a bike.  I like to play mental games while I am riding to pass the time and to help stay focused.  As the 2nd hour passed by  I was 40 miles in.  Ideally I wanted to get through the first loop in 3hrs – that  meant I had to cover 16 miles in the next hour.  Usually that is easy enough to achieve, but the last 16 miles on this course is mostly up hill.  Looking at the data for that 16 miles – it took me 58:40, with my official 56 mile split being  2:57:50 marginally under the 3h mark.  Since I took over 7 minutes to change the flat I was happy with that. 
Coming through the town of lake placid was a lot of fun.  Large crowds and a lot of noise.  Here are a few pictures of this section. One picture here for each lap.
For the first 56 miles my average power was 185, normalized power was 202.  This was a little lower than I had wanted but still close enough to my range.  I was happy with the effort and coming in a little under before the run certainly could not hurt.
I was feeling great as I headed out for the second lap.  I continued my pacing strategy and didn’t really have any problems.  I stuck to the 15 minute fueling strategy with the EFS Liquid Shot.  At around mile 80 I picked up a bottle of perform on the course.  I felt like a change of taste and since it was hot thought a few extra calories and electrolytes would be a good idea.  Over the next 20 miles I consumed 1.5 bottles of perform, for an extra 200 calories.  the taste at this point in the race was pretty good.  I did not stop with the EFS during this time.
As I was coming back in to Lake Placid from Wilmington I started counting down the miles. The wind had picked up even more than the first la which slowed things down a little.  I stayed on my aero bars for all of the climbs (for both laps), only rarely sitting up.  I had trained a lot in this position, so I was comfortable enough to stay there all day.
I was very happy by the time I got to the final two climbs of the day – Mama Bear and Papa Bear.  These hills are really not that bad and relatively short.  Coming up papa bear was amazing with lots of people getting up close and cheering.  This continued through  town into the hot corner just before the transition area.
bike_startAs I came around the back of the school I started to take my feet out of the my shoes and got ready to dismount the bike.  This picture was taken close to the dismount area  You can see that I have one foot out of my shoe.  I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Happy to have the bike leg behind me.
Final bike statistics:
Time:                      5:56:46
Average Power:       186w
Normalized Power:   200w
TSS(training stress) 294
Intensity Factor       .704 (using a ftp of 284)
Variability Index:      1.07 (pretty good)
Average Cadence:    92rpm
Average HR:           145bpm
Average Speed:      18.6 mph
Considering the headwinds and the time taken for a flat tire, I was very happy with this.  I finished the bike feeling really good – far better than I felt for the 1/2 distance race I had completed only 6 weeks before.  This was the result of good pacing, and respecting the distance.
I went from  237th to 98th in my age group, and from 1,210 to 489th overall. 
T2 – 3:18
T2 was very different to T1.  Since I had a decent bike leg, the changing tent was almost empty, a stark contrast to the chaos from T1.  A volunteer came over to see if I needed any help, but I had things under control.  It took a little while to get my compression calf sleeves on, the rest was easy. 
I didn’t realize until I was out the run that I forgot to remove the spare tube and co2 from the bike let that I had picked up in bike special needs . 
As I exited the change tent I passed through the sunscreen area and was off for my first marathon.
Run – 4:01:25
Since this was my first marathon I was not sure how my body would handle it.  In the last 2 weeks leading into this race I had been dealing with some recurring calf pain. I wasn’t at all confident that I could run much at all.  Thankfully a friend staying at our house is an ART doctor and was able to perform a little magic (thanks Dr, Stu!).  n the end I was able to run without much pain/discomfort.  During training, my longest training run was around 19 miles in 2.5hours.  As I left transition my legs felt great, except for some pain in my right foot right near the knuckle of my little toe.  I think this was caused from a cut that was not completely healed.  The discomfort went away pretty quickly.
As you head out of town towards the ski jumps there is a fair amount of down hill running.  My goal was to take it easy and settle into an easy pace. 
Mile 1: 8:27, cadence 90
Mile 2: 8:25, cadence 92
Mile 3: 9:03, HR 145, cadence 92 – including a bathroom break
run_skijumpsAt each aid station I slowed to a walk, picked up some water and put ice into my hat.  Some of the aid stations had water sponges.  I put some in my top (front & back) to help keep my core temperature down. 
the next 6 miles was the out/back section on river rd.  I was able to maintain a steady pace, walking 20-30 steps at each aid station.   I was feeling fatigued, but was still making steady forward progress.  You can see in this picture that I look pretty happy.  You can just see the ski jump in the background too.
Mile 4: 8:39, HR 142, cadence 92
Mile 5: 8:24, HR 143, cadence 91
Mile 6: 8:59, HR 142, cadence 91
Mile 7: 9:30, HR 140, cadence 88 (starting to come back up hill after the turn-around)

About this time I made an amazing discovery.  Chicken Broth at the aid stations.  It was the best thing that I had ever tasted!  It is hard to imagine that warm chicken broth while completing a marathon on a hot day could be that good.  Trust me, it is.
Mile 8: 9:08, HR 142, cadence 90
Mile 9: 9:22, HR 142, cadence 89
As you make the turn from river rd to head back into town, there is a pretty decent hill.  I shortened my step and ran up this the first time.  On the second lap I walked the steeper sections.
The next major section were the hills coming in to town.  I stayed steady and walked one of the small steeper sections.  As I approached the court-house I spotted Annabel, Oliver and Ruby.  This gave me a great mental boost.  Annabel was able to get a few great pictures, which helped capture the emotion of the moment.
Mile 10: 9:37, HR 145, cadence 90
Mile 11: 9:47, HR 143, cadence 89 – biggest hill
Mile 12: 9:55, HR 143, cadence 89 stop to see the family
Mile 13: 9:09, HR 142, cadence 91
these next two were on the way back out of town – 13 miles to go.
as i  passed by Annabel and the kids on the way out of town  I told them that I could finish in another 2hrs and 10 minutes.  I was factoring in how tired I was feeling and that I would most likely slow down for the 2nd half of the marathon.
Mile 14: 9:28, HR 136, cadence 89
Mile 15: 9:35, HR 137, cadence 89
as I entered river rd for the second time, I was really feeling tired.  My pace was still similar but it was getting to be a grind.   I was running past people who were on their first lap – I was so happy to be well into my second at that point.
Mile 16: 9:42, HR 136, cadence 89 – including bathroom break
Mile 17: 9:14, HR 141, cadence 88
Mile 18: 8:53, HR 143, cadence 92
Mile 19: 9:27, HR 141, cadence 89
As I passed miles 18 and 19 I started to count down the miles from the end.  At each aid station I continued to walk for 20-30 steps.  I had to make a conscious decision to start running again.  It was very easy to just keep walking, like so many others were at that point.
Mile 20: 9:30, HR 140, cadence 89
Mile 21: 9:42, HR 138, cadence 87
Mile 22: 9:36, HR 140, cadence 88
Mile 23: 9:41, HR 140, cadence 86
getting closer now – only 3 miles left.  I had started picking up the pace after running up the hills into town for the last time.  Along the flat section along mirror lake I was able to run faster.  the lure of the finish line was getting closer.  I felt a mix of emotions at this point.  Part of me just wanted it all to be over.  The racer in me was trying to get every bit of speed I had left to finish strong and break the 4:00hr mark for the marathon.  Around mile 25 I knew I was going to miss, but not by much.
Mile 24: 9:46, HR 141, cadence 86 – steepest up-hill section
Mile 25: 8:59, HR 148, cadence 92 – picking up the pace
Mile 26: 8:12, HR 152, cadence 93
Mile 26.2, avg speed 7:25, cadence 93
Heading into the finish line the pain and fatigue all but disapeared.  I charged in to the oval.  At the turn I saw Annabel and the kids again, I was so happy to be almost done.  As I approached the line there was no-one in front of me.  I heard Mike reiley say the famous words – “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”! 
The finishing pictures showed the sense of relief that I felt after making it to the finish, but did not capture the intense high I felt after finishing within my goal time, finishing strong and finishing in front of my family!
I had done it – 11:24:44! 
I finished 49th in my age group, 249th overall.  I went from 92nd in my age group after the bike to 49th, and from 485th overall to 249th. My run was actually the best leg of all 3.  Usually the bike is the better leg for me.  I am sure I can run a faster marathon next time with some better preparation.
After I had finished I felt remarkably good.  I found Annabel and the kids and was just happy to have put in a solid effort.
The run/walk strategy – walking through each aid station I think really helped regulate my heart rate.  The following charts shows how consistent my pace/cadence/hr were– you can clearly see the aid station stops.  The 2 big dips in cadence were the bathroom breaks.  what is most noticeable from these charts is my HR stayed the same throughout the run, it did not spike during the up-hill sections, and clearly dropped during the aid station walk breaks.
I was proud of the effort that I had put in.  I managed to stick with my plan and execute a good race.  I was steady for the whole day which meant no major problems.  I can build on this for next time.  After analyzing the day, I think I can safely go harder on the bike and still run as well as I did,   It may be a couple of years before I decide to complete another race of this length.   Next year we are planning on going home to Australia for a few months during the summer, and I want to focus on some shorter races and have more free time.
Thank you!
this report would not be complete without me thanking my wife Annabel, and my kids Oliver and Ruby for supporting me throughout the process of finishing this amazing race.  At first I am sure they thought I was crazy, after spending 3-4 hours riding my bike in the basement, or going for a 2hr run.  It is easy to get caught up in the process of the training and forget about many other things.
I could not have gotten to this point without their support and understanding.  I hope that their experience of the race shows why I went through with it.  Spectating at an ironman race is a very difficult thing to do.  They were all up for the 7:00am start, and still around at the finish area as it got close to the midnight cut-off.   I really can’t say enough how much I appreciate them being there for me.

Final Thoughts

what would I do differently for next time.  This is important to document now, while it is still fresh in my mind.
  • Swim
    • get stronger, learn to kick like a swimmer (no cramping).  ideally shoot for the 1:10-1:12 range
  • Bike
    • I was conservative here, My intensity factor was .68 (using correct ftp) – I think I can safely shoot for .7 – .75 and still run well
    • do more longer rides in preparation.  For this race I had 1 ride over 5 hours (100 miles in 6rs with 8,000ft climbing) 3 or 4 rides over 4 hours.  I need to up the volume here and complete several 6hr rides to build a little more endurance
  • Run
    • continue to improve running.  Aim for a 3:45 of better next time.  I am still very new to longer distance running.  I am sure I will improve with time.
    • after analyzing my mile splits I ran surprisingly well for the last 6 miles.  Comparing laps 1 and 2 for the last 6 miles (lap 1- 1:59:40, lap 2 2:01:45) shows that I paced myself well
It is going to take a lot of work to get fast enough to qualify for Kona – that would be a dream come true.  I’ll get there one day!

Friday, September 7, 2012

IronMan Lake Placid–short version

This was my first full IronMan triathlon, covering 140.6 miles.  It has been just over a month since I finished the race – with work, family time and the Olympics going on, I have not had the time or energy to sit down and write my thoughts on how the race went. 

This post is the short version, I will expand on the swim/bike/run sections later.

Total time 11:24:44 – 49th AG (M40-44), 249th Overall

I had a great race!  The thing I am most happy about is that I stuck to my plan and e0206_55370venly paced my effort for the whole day and was able to finish strong.  I got pummeled at the start of the swim, had a great bike with a steady effort (and a flat tire) and finished off with my first marathon in just over 4 hrs (4:01:25).  The run was tough and did hurt, but I had expected that.  I managed to finish with a decent pace and a large smile on my face.

Considering my preparation, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

After some reflection, it may be a while before I attempt another full distance IronMan race.  It takes so much to prepare on both the training and family front.  I will most likely not do one next year and may try and ramp up again in 2014.

here are the results from the official IronMan results page, there direct link to this page is here.  Some more results can be found at Athlinks.

Darren Wrigley

Rank: 49
Overall Rank: 249
BIB: 2023
Division: M40-44
Age: 42
Swim: 1:16:13
Bike: 5:56:46
Run: 4:01:25
Overall: 11:24:44

Congratulations, Darren, on your finish!

Swim Details Division Rank: 237
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
1.2 mi 1.2 mi 37:45 37:45 1:57/100m
2.4 mi 1.2 mi 38:28 1:16:13 1:59/100m
Total 2.4 mi 1:16:13 1:16:13 3:56/100m 237 1210 970
Bike Details Division Rank: 98 
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
30 mi 30 mi 1:24:25 2:47:40 21.32 mi/h
56 mi 26 mi 1:33:25 4:21:05 16.70 mi/h
86 mi 30 mi 1:20:22 5:41:27 22.40 mi/h
112 mi 26 mi 1:38:34 7:20:01 15.83 mi/h
Total 112 mi 5:56:46 7:20:01 18.84 mi/h 98 489 442
Run Details Division Rank: 49 
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
3 mi 3 mi 26:08 7:49:27 8:42/mi
8.2 mi 5.2 mi 46:22 8:35:49 8:55/mi
12 mi 3.8 mi 37:33 9:13:22 9:52/mi
16.1 mi 4.1 mi 36:55 9:50:17 9:00/mi
21.3 mi 5.2 mi 48:38 10:38:55 9:21/mi
25.1 mi 3.8 mi 37:02 11:15:57 9:44/mi
26.2 mi 1.1 mi 8:47 11:24:44 7:59/mi
Total 26.2 mi 4:01:25 11:24:44 9:12/mi 49 249 217
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 3:18

Friday, July 6, 2012

my first century ride

Last friday I completed my first century ride – my training plan was to execute an IronMan race rehearsal with 6hrs or 112 miles of riding followed by 1hr or 6 miles of running – whichever comes first for each.

Since there is a fair amount of climbing – I mapped out a course that would be around 100 miles, and have over 9,000 feet of climbing. 

Here’ is the route I took.


and the elevation profile – both courtesy of Strava – complete detail here


My approach was to ride this as close as I can to an IronMan paced effort.  Based on recent FTP tests,  and targeting 70% of that – my goal was to be around 205-220 watts.  I also broke the ride down into 30 minute segments, this way you closely watch you average/normalized power for a 30 minute window (or box) and don’t worry too much about what has already happened, or what is coming.  This  really helps to stay in the moment and not dwell on how long the ride really is.

I deliberately kept the first segment/30 minutes easy, then stayed steady from there, even during the hilly segments, I tried to keep it within my ranges.  Here’s how it unfolded.

Entire workout:

  Avg Max
Total miles   102.9
Total Time   6:02
Avgerage Power 206 511
Normalized Power 211  
Vi 1.7  
Cadence 85 121
Elevation Gain 8,747  
Speed 17.1 44.7
Temperature 84.6 102.2

With the temperature and humidity, the last 2 hours of the ride was really tough.  As I descended into Sperryville, the temperature went from 85 – 100 within 30 minutes and stayed there for the last 90 minutes.

Overall it was a great ride, it managed/conserved my energy well and executed my fueling well too.  I consumed the following. 

Total calories – 1,900 (316/hr)
                          20oz EFS Liquid Shot + 3 scoops EFS frruit punch in 26oz water
                          6x Hammer enduralytes 
                          approximately 150oz water (filled up twice during the ride)

The other thing to note about this ride was that I went into it with a fair amount of fatigue.  In the 3 days prior to this ride I had done the following:-

  • tuesday – hard swim
  • wednesday – bike FTP test
  • thursday – 2:30 long run – 18 miles

I think with the heat and accumulated fatigue, I managed to have a great long ride, one that sets me up well with 3 more weeks to go before Lake Placid.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Qualified for USAT Olympic National Championships

Today I went to the USAT site to renew my membership.  After logging in, I realized that I had qualified for the national championships for the olympic distance.  I was pretty sure that I had good enough results to qualify, however I did not know how this was presented to the athletes.

here’s what I saw when I logged in.usat-qualificaiton

that is pretty cool.  I had no intention of competing in the nationals this year, even before it sold out.  The main reason is that the race is in Burlington, VT.  After traveling up that way for IMLP this year – I don’t want to travel to a race that far away again for a while.

I am considering putting the nationals onto my schedule for next year though, assuming I qualify.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 EagleMan 70.3 race report

Final time:  4:55:33 – 44/265 age group place


I ended up with a 21 minute faster time than last year which is a great result.  I did have my share of problems during the race.  In summary I couldn’t hit my power numbers on the bike, I consumed too many combined calories pre-race and during the bike which lead to a nightmare first 7 miles of the run.sunrise

As we arrived at the race site, it was just in time to see an amazing sunrise.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it was a beautiful way to start the day.   As we were approaching the transition area, the race officials announced that the water temperature was below 76.1 so it would be a wetsuit legal swim!  This was good news.  At the same time they also mentioned that compression gear was not legal, not sure that what was all about.  I usually wear compression calf sleeves for the bike/run especially when I can have them on under my wetsuit.

After setting up my transition area I walked around a little and saw the pro’s setting up.  Crowie seemed to be pretty relaxed, even taking the time for photos with some of the athletes.

Swim 33:47 - 1:36/100y

Since there was 8 minutes between swim waves, I had some time to swim for a few minutes to loosen up a bit after entering the water.  I positioned myself about 1/4 across the start line and was able to hold my position easily as I was able to just stand up on the sandy bottom.  As the swim started I settled into a groove and seemed to be making good progress.  I remember my shoulders feeling a little tight, but that ended after the first 5 minutes.  I was not able to draft much, however there were some periods where I managed to get on to some feet for a few minutes.  I had a little trouble sighting the bouys.  I think that was from a combination of the sun angle and them being quite small.  A few times I stopped for a few seconds to make sure I was heading in the right direction.  I remember feeling pretty hot and had some slight cramping in my quads on the last leg to the swim finish.  I didn’t know it then, but this was the start of things getting tough later in the day.  I think a sleeveless wetsuit might have been better.

As I exited the water, I looked at my watch and it was under 34 minutes!  I was really happy with that as my goal was 38 or better.  I swam much better than last year and of course the wetsuit helped.

I still have some work to do swimming a straight line – a few times I found myself  a little off course.  This was better than I had done in the past.  Looking at the gps file from my watch after the race I can see that I was a bit off course heading into the first turn and closing in on the beach.  The Z pattern towards the end is a gps glitch.  The line is amazingly straight since I was wearing the watch (Garmin 910xt) on my wrist.swim-gps-route1

T1 – 2:06t1

As I entered the transition area, I stripped my wetsuit to my waist and jogged to my bike.  I found it hard to run fast through transition – this is something I need to work on.  I think I’ll add some swim to run bricks to get better at this.

Bike – 2:28:38 – 22.6mph

I started the bike conservatively.  My goal was to start a little easy to lower my heart rate and then build into the ride working up to my target watts range of 240-255.  I found it hard to hit my target or even come close. I think a combination of the heat and some lingering fatigue meant I was unable to ride at the watts I intended, and my HR was higher than normal.  I ended up with a normalized power of 226 (average 221) for an IF of 1.02 and an average HR of 161.  This is very different to some recent training rides where I was able to hold the same power for 5 hours at a lower HR.

bike1 bike2

Even though my power numbers were lower than I wanted, my perceived effort felt about right.  I had set my bike computer to show only power (3s avg, lap NP, Lap avg), cadence and HR. Each 5 miles or so I would check my speed average which sat at 23mph for most of the course.  I was really hoping that riding at a fairly easy effort would mean my legs would be fresh for a good run.

In the first 20 miles of the bike I saw the race referees on the back of the motorbike many times.  At one point I was behind a small pack of riders when I saw the referee point to one of the them and give him a penalty card.  When that happens you have to stop at the next penalty tent.   Over the course of the race I saw them hand out a number of time penalty’s . 

My nutrition plan for the bike was to take in calories every 12 minutes.  I have used this strategy for many races and it has worked well.  My sole calorie source is EFS Liquid shot (vanilla).  I fill up a bottle that sits between my arms and add some water to make it flow a little better.  I set my garmin bike computer to beep every 12 minutes and drank the EFS liquid shot every time, except the last one before getting to T2 since I only had a mile of so to transition.

At the final aid station, somewhere around mile 45, I stood up a little to stretch out.  Wow, my quads felt really tight and sore.  I didn’t really feel any discomfort when riding, but it was clear that I may have some trouble on the run.

What I realize now is that I had taken in too many calories when I combined pre-race and on-bike consumption.  I was aiming for a maximum of 400 calories per hour on the bike.  After analyzing what I had eaten after the race I calculated that I took in 1,450 calories before the race started and another 930 calories on the bike.  My HR was higher than usual  (low 160’s compared to mid 150’s) combining that with the heat and I think I had more calories than my body could process.  All of this lead to some real problems on the run.

T2 – 2:29t2

I executed a decent flying dismount entering T2.  I always leave my shoes on the pedals as I don’t really want to run in them.

This year I took a few extra seconds to put socks on.  Last year I completed the run without socks and with all of the water I used to cool down, my feet were wet and I got some nasty blisters.  It did feel better to run in socks, I think for Sprint and Olympic races socks aren’t needed, however for 70.3 or higher I’ll wear them every time.

I didn’t waste any time, put socks & shoes on – grab my had an fuelbelt and proceeded to the run exit.


Run – 1:48:35 – 8:18/mile pace

The run was my nemesis last year at this race.  I faded badly over the last 3-4 miles due to the combination of heat and lack of nutrition.  This year I was hoping for something better.  It wasn’t to be. 

I started out running steady, trying to get my legs back into running mode.  I remember it feeling very slow.  As I passed the finish line, I saw Greg Bennett cross the line in 2nd place in the pro race.  That kept my mind off things for a little while.  My first mile I was feeling a little off, but it turned out to be an 8:05 pace – this was much faster than it felt.  During mile 2 the wheels seemed to fall off a little.  Not far after the first mile marker was the first aid station.  I grabbed some water and ice and I could feel my quads feeling very tight.  After walking the aid station I started running again.  I got through the 2nd mile in 8:33 – still decent, but was feeling very heavy.  I just couldn’t get moving.  At one point I stopped to stretch my right quad, and as I lifted my foot up, my hamstring started cramping.  Oh dear.  Not a good feeling.  run

I remember when this picture was taken.  It was around the time where I felt the worst.  You can see some of the pain in my facial expression, but I was feeling much worse than it looks.

After my attempt at stretching was a total fail, I figured I should try to run again.  I did not want to get in to the pattern of waking when things got tough.  I held on to the thought that things would turn around, just stay patient.

Mile 3 was 8:20 – considering how I felt, the time was actually pretty fast.  During mile 4 I was feeling awful. At times I thought I might throw up.  I had a very heavy feeling in my stomach.  I was hoping to be feeling better by now but almost 4 miles in things were not feeling good at all.   I made a quick stop at a port-a-john and felt a little better.  Including the stop, mile 4 was 10:03.  At that point I was really in a survival mode, not really caring about what time I was running.

Miles 5 and 6 I was still feeling it but somehow managed to complete miles in 8:14 and 8:36.  This included walking through the aid stations. Mile 7 included the turn-around and we hit the same aid station twice.   At each aid station I took off my hat, filled it with ice and put it back on again.  In addition to that I had 1 or 2 cups of water.  I glanced at my watch at the turn-around point and it had taken me nearly an hour to get there.  That was much slower than I was hoping for.  I started doing some numbers and I would need to average 8 minute miles to break the 5 hour mark.  I didn’t really think I could do it.  I just kept telling myself to hang in there and things would turn around.  Mile 7 was 9:27.  Around this time I saw Carly – she was only a mile behind me and was looking strong.  Her start wave was 16 minutes behind me too – so I knew she was having a great race.  The way I had been running, I thought she might pass me before the finish line.

As I started mile 8 I did start to feel better.  I remember feeling lighter and felt like I could pick the pace up a little.  Mile 8 was 8:02, mile 9 8:13 and mile 10 was a 7:52.  I walked all of the aid stations.   At mile 7 I put some ice down my shorts – that felt really good and may have been the catalyst to get me going again.

At this point I had 3 miles left and my patience was starting to pay off.  I was feeling good enough to pick up the pace a little more and started passing people too.  Miles 11, 12 and 13 were 7:50, 7:35 and 7:03.  during the last few miles I felt like my form was good.  I still had a chance at a sub 5:00 time.  As I got close to the finish I was able to give it a little more, finishing hard with at time of 4:55:33.

This was the tale of 2 different runs.  The first 7 miles felt like a death march.  But things did turn around for the final 6 miles.  My splits for each half of the run (6.6 mile) segments were 57:17 & 51:17.  That is a nice negative split.

After I had finished I felt remarkably good.  I sat down in the shade for a few minutes – there was a row of chairs provided right at the finish line which was great.  I waited for Carly to come across the finish line.  She had an amazing race, finishing 4th in her age group with a 4:52:18!

Post Race Analysis

I think there were a number of contributing factors to my performance

  • I have been building up my long run/rides for IMLP.  Since this was not an ‘A’ race, I didn’t really taper or specifically prepare for this race.  In the 7-10 days before the race I completed a 2:10 run and a 5:00 ride a week before this race.  During the weekdays before the race I had a really busy work schedule and missed some workouts.  I think I was still fatigued from those long efforts on race day. 
  • my work/travel schedule for the last 6 weeks has been crazy, I was traveling 5 out of the pervious 6 weeks.  this makes consistent training hard, and makes me tired.
  • Total calories combined pre-race and during the bike was around 2,400.  I think that was way too much for my body to handle.  The fact that my running came around in the last 3 miles proves this.  I will have to be more diligent about total calorie intake next year.
  • the wetsuit swim in warm water may have contributed to starting the bike a little overheated

Apart from the nutrition/fatigue challenge I had a really good race. You can never be disappointed with a 20 minute PR.   I really think had I been at full power on the bike and not had the nutrition issues, I could have taken 8-10 minutes off my finish time.

After a few days rest, it is time to start the last 4-5 week build leading up to Lake Placid.  II am looking forward to the race, and equally looking forward to dialing things back after the race.  Preparing for long distance triathlons takes a lot of effort.  I am finding it hard to make the time to train more than 12 hours each week.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

EagleMan–pre race thoughts

EagleMan 70.3 is tomorrow!  While this isn’t an ‘A’ race for me, I want to put up a strong performance in my build up for IronMan Lake Placid which is only 6 weeks away.

Last year this race was my first 70.3, and while I had a good race – with a 5:16 finishing time, I faded on the run after messing up my nutrition.

This year is different.  I am much better trained after joining Endurance Nation, and I am around 10lbs lighter.  I have also been building up for the full ironman and completed some 4 and 5 hour rides, and a long run in the 17 mile range.  I think this sets me up well for a good performance.

Breaking it down – I’d like to be able to do the following

  • swim – sub 40, hopefully in the 38-40 minute range.  last year was a slow 43
  • bike – ideally break 2:30.  I am much stronger on the bike this year, and will have my Flo 90 race wheels.  Last year I had a 2:34.  I think if I have a good day, I could be in the 2:25 range.  My target watts are 240-255
  • run – if I pace the bike well I can hopefully run in the low 1:40’s.  The forecast is for 90+ for Sunday, so that will slow me down a little.  I did run a 1:39 high at the Beach 2 Battleship, however that was on a much cooler day.  somewhere around 1:45 would be great.

adding all of that up, it should be somewhere close to the 5:00h mark.

I am really looking forward to the bike leg for this race – mostly because I’ll be riding this…sc7-with-flow-wheelsI had a quick ride on these new wheels yesterday – felt really great.  I really can’t wait to unleash them on the course tomorrow.

it’s time go get everything ready.  On the agenda for today is going to packet pickup, double checking the bike and I would like to get a short swim in.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ITU World Triathlon–Age Group race report

It has been over 3 weeks since I finished the race, since then I have had a lot of business travel, soccer and other family commitments and of course trying to ramp up my ironman training.  I think I am just finishing up my 5th week out of the last 6 on the road, I am starting to get caught up.

I had a wonderful time in San Diego, and ended up having a great race. 

Time:                 2:25:22

Place AG:         13/155

Place Overall:  91/1120

Getting there - Bike Transport

One of the reasons I made the trip to San Diego, was the offer from USAT to ship out bikes for free (from Washington D.C and Denver), this was to encourage clubs to participate in the world club challenge.  The bike transport went very well – just take the pedals off and leave our bikes at the truck on the Sunday before the event.  The truck was on-site at the race venue by Thursday afternoon.  This was a really great service, one that made this trip possible for me.

Race Expectations

This was my first triathlon for the 2012 season.  As I am building up for 70.3 and my first full distance ironman race in July, I was not training specifically for this race, but I wanted to go out hard to see what I could do.  The bike course looked to be tough, and after driving around the course on thursday, I could see what people were talking about.  The roads were pretty rough, with a lot of cracks, grooves and pot-holes.  There was a significant hill, heading into LaJolla – a little over 2 miles of climbing at a reported 10% grade.    The downhill portion after the climb looked to be very fast, and perhaps a little dangerous, especially if there were a lot of other competitors there at the same time.  Starting in wave #8 meant that it was highly likely that there would be traffic up ahead.  My strategy was to go quite hard up the hill and be cautious on the descent.

At this race I wanted to put together a solid run, hopefully somewhere around the low 40 minute mark (sub 42 would be great).

Expo and Packet Pickup

I got to the expo and packet pickup area mid-afternoon on thursday.  packet pickup was very efficient.  The expo area was also quiet, giving me some time to check out what the vendors were showing and getting into the swing of the event.

The race packet was well done, a T-shirt that I actually wear, raceday tattoo's  instead of body marking, a water bottle, swim goggles and a few other things.


I am happy that I was able to get this done on Thursday.  By the time I got there on Friday there was a large line for packet pickup that seemed to be moving very slowly.  I had plenty of time to get my bike checked in and wander around before the women’s pro race that started at 2:00pm.

The organizers even included a bike valet service at the expo area.    this was a nice addition.  After arriving at the site, I had about an hour before the transition area opened.  I took advantage of the bike valet, so I could walk around and not have to wheel my bike with me.


the Transition area for the age-grouper race was huge.  The racks were also very tall, I could see many bikes sitting at least a foot off the ground.  One nice thing was that there were stickers indicating what position your bike should be in, so it did not matter when you arrived.


After dinner with the DC Tri club team, I headed back to the hotel to attempt to get a good sleep.

Race Day

Woke up early and packed my things.  Had a short drive to the race site.  Parking was limited, I got there early enough to get a spot over the bridge from the transition area – this was much better than getting the shuttle bus and not having a way to get back to my car until later in the day.

setup in the transition area was simple, just get the wetsuit out, clip shoes onto the bike and use rubber bands to hold them horizontal, add water to my speedfil and attach my bottle of EFS to the BTA bottle cage (between the aero-bars). 

Swim – 28:15

The swim was a beach start.  The competitors from each wave had to pass through a gate at the start and then run down the beach for about 50 meters before entering the water.  this was the first start like this I have seen.  I was starting in wave 8, the 2nd of the M40-44 age group.  I got to see the other waves start and used that to form a strategy.  I quickly figured out it was better to be on the left, so I could dolphin dive a little longer, which is faster than swimming.

I got in the water for a 10 minute warm-up to get a feel for the water, and loosen up my shoulders.  It was nice to be swimming in salt water again, reminding me of home in Australia.

Soon enough 7:05 came around and we were off.  A few people sprinted for the water – I ran at a decent pace but tried not to get too carried away.  the course was straight out for about 250 meters then turn left.  I felt pretty comfortable, and was happy with my progress.  I tried to draft, but it was a little chaotic and many were not swimming in a straight line. 

I was pretty happy with my sighting, I knew there would be a current, so tried my best to stay on course.  By the time I got to the 3rd marker I glanced at my watch – 16 minutes and change.  This marker was less than half way – either I was swimming really slowly, or the current was stronger than thought.  I was trying to exit the swim in under 28 minutes.  The time didn’t really bother me, was good to get a check to see where I was.  I knew I was ahead of many other swimmers in orange caps.

My official swim time was 28:15 – including the dash up/down the beach at the start and of the swim.  I am happy with this time, but think I could have pushed a little harder.

This is the first race I have used my Garmin 910xt.  After uploading the race to garmin connect, I the GPS track during the swim looked surprisingly accurate.  It looks like I wasn’t swimming that straight.  it recorded the total distance of 1.06 miles (1,865 yards) which is longer than the 1,500m/1,640 yards.



The transition area was long.  I quickly got the wetsuit off glasses & helmet on and ran out of transition.  My time was decent, however after looking at the results I was 30seconds off some of the faster transition splits!  they must have run really fast through T1.  I always find myself running at a slow pace in transitions, perhaps I need to try to push it a little next time to see how that goes.

Bike 1:12:59

My bike training has progress really well over the off season, so I was hoping that this would result in a good bike split.  I planned to ride hard for the 25 miles, but not all out.   Based on my FTP testing, I was hoping to average around 270 which would be hard, but should still leave a little for the run.

Out on the bike course the road surfaces were rough.  Many times on the there were cracks, rough patches and pot holes.bike1  This meant that we all had to stay more alert than normal. 

The 2 mile climb was tough, I saw people walking their bikes.  I settled into a good tempo up the hills and wasn’t passed by anyone.  I am happy with my efforts there.

the downhill section after the climb was fun.  I didn’t see many other competitors in front of me, so I went pretty hard.  My max speed was 47.1mph. 

The 2nd loop of the climb/descend was similar to the first – looking at my times I was a few seconds faster on the 2nd loop.  this showed that I paced well and was not fading at all.

Numbers for the bike leg:

  • average power 268w
  • normalized power 282w – VI 1.05
  • average cadence 93rpm
  • speed  avg/max  20.4mph / 47.1 mph

here is the power recorded from the ride, from garmin connectbikepower

Run – 40:15

After having a great bike leg, I was looking forward to seeing what I could do out on the run course.  My goal was to keep a steady pace and build towards the end of the 10k/6.2 mile run.  As I started out, I felt strong.  I did have some leg fatigue, however it was bearable. 

The run course was awesome.  It was completely flat and followed a path around the mission bay/beach area.  It was really nice to be running along the beach, with a sea breeze to cool things off a bit.


I managed to pace the run quite well, with mile splits of 6:52, 6:38, 6:40, 6:35, 6:30, 6:31 and finished up with a 5:37 pace for the final .2.run1

With about 2 miles to go, I could feel my quads starting to cramp up.  There was nothing much I could do but go hard, knowing that I had just over 10 minutes left.  I think this was a result of riding hard up the hills (that was my plan).  My pace was still good, but with my quads screaming at me, I didn’t get to the next gear that I wanted to finish with.

Overall I finished in 13th place in my age group.  I was actually in 12th until a week after the race when it switched to 13th, not sure what happened there.  I couldn’t be happier with the way I executed the race.  I was strong in all 3 legs.  This was some great validation that the training I have been doing is really working.

Post Race Analysis

After having such a great race and still finishing out of the top 10 in my age group, I couldn’t help but think what would I have to do to get into the top 5.  Here’s what I found out.


Top 5 average time

My time

Time Diff

% Diff


























What I learned from this is that my Bike leg is very close.  Once I start racing with aero racing wheels (next race with my Flo 90’s) I should be right up there.  I really need to swim faster, execute better transitions and and run a little faster too.  If I could have cut 4 minutes off the swim, that would have meant 6th place.

A real highlight of the weekend was watching the Mens and Womens pro races. Both were amazing.  I was able to get very close to the action for both the bike and swim legs – those athletes are amazing.