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

eagleman2012logo

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.

IMG_4038

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.

IMG_4047

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.

IMG_4254

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.

swim-gps 

T1

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.

runcourse

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.

Leg

Top 5 average time

My time

Time Diff

% Diff

Swim

24:06

28:15

4:09

17%

T1

01:40

02:00

0:20

20%

Bike

1:11:00

1:12:59

1:59

2.8%

T2

01:33

01:56

0:23

25%

Run

37:36

40:15

2:39

7%

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.