Friday, March 24, 2017

And We Are Off - Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico Race Report


The first race of the year is always one to remind yourself that you are racing again! San Juan is one of my favorite races on the circuit and this year's result was solid and a good one to build on. Here is the full 411.




THE SWIM




I thought I could start very conservative (as you can see here) and then bridge or tack onto the back of the group like I have in some past races…however that didn’t happen here and I was 30-45sec off the back the entire time. I felt good for the most part, but it definitely was a bit of a shock to be racing again. Rather than kill myself to get up to the few I saw ahead, I kept my rhythm with eyes on moving up during the bike and run. Thank you to Blue Seventy for the great PZ4 skinsuit. This is by far the best/longest lasting skin suit on the market.




THE BIKE




Unfortunately, my ability to bridge didn't come into fruition. Though I exited T1 only 20sec behind the group of a few, it included Mr. Russell who lead a hard charge from mile 0. My legs were good to start the ride, but not great. I was flying blind with no metrics for this race, which meant I had to ride all on feel today. Like the swim, I choose to not force the pace, this time I figured my margin for error in the tropics was small since I was coming from full on winter. Instead, I played the patience card and focused on cadence, nutrition and PE.

I got through the first 20 and the legs started came around to where I knew I was riding well. I caught 3 riders on the way out to the first turn-around. The front group put 2 minutes into me and the chase group 2.5 minutes. Sheesh! However, the rest of the ride got better. The front group put a few more minutes into me, but they had a nice motorcade that likely gave some benefit. The gap to the second group almost stayed the same, which is something that I feel pretty good about with my 100% solo ride.

As I got back to T2, I saw 2:40 on the race clock, a few minutes back from my target of 2:35-2:36, but close. Thank you to Trek Stores of Madison for enabling me to ride the fastest bike on the planet!




THE RUN




The run was solid and strong, but not fast. Then again on this course there really isn't fast, as you can see by the fastest splits on the day which were 1:18-1:19. I had to relax for the first few miles to find my stride and fight off a few cramps, but things came around after a few miles. I basically had Ironman+ pace on the day, which given where I was training for this race (65* colder than it was on race day) was OK with me. The rest of the run went well and I even managed to sneak in a few peaks of the amazing scenery as you make your way through Old San Juan.




FINISH 4:06 - 12th place





The day was full of a lot of conservative choices, but good execution. I would have liked to have broken 4hrs at this one, but given the choices I made, the heat/course and that I haven't raced in 6 months, this is a good start to the season. 

Thank you as always to all of my Sponsors, Team BBMC and it's partners, as well as Cliff English for his coaching. You can see all who support me here. Now it's all eyes on improvement in Chattanooga, which is only 2 months away. Bring on 2017!




Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tentative 2017 Season

These are all the possible long course races that I will be at in 2017. Many of these are tentative and race plans will be dialed in as we get closer.

March - Puerto Rico 70.3

April - Texas or California 70.3
April - Ironman Texas

May - Chattanooga 70.3

June - Raleigh or Eagleman 70.3
June - Lake Mills or Elkhart Lake
June - Mont Tremblant 70.3

July - Racine 70.3

August - Steelhead 70.3

September - Ironman Wisconsin

October - Ironman Louisville

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ironman Chattanooga...The Run Down

I think it's always good for athletes to be able to give a fair assessment of their racing performance in order to learn from it in the future. You can train to a very high level of fitness, but you can't train the race dynamics that play out after the gun goes off. You do your best to make the decisions you feel you need to, but sometimes they don't turn out to be the correct choices. That's where there is an opportunity to learn...even after 15 years.

Going into Sunday lacked a little racing this year and it showed. I also lacked the ability to be patient when I needed to be. I am an aggressive/assertive racer, it's how I am hard wired. However this last weekend there were times when I needed to have the ability to tone that down a bit. Lessons to carry forward.

I wrote up an honest race report, I hope you enjoy...

+++

I felt great on race weekend; confident, happy, sharp, motivation and I was 100% healthy. The weather was HOT (97* to be exact), but I had done several bricks over 7hrs in the heat during this build and I have performed very well in the heat in the past.

+++

It was a moderately fast first 200, then it was about as easy as it gets during a front pack swim. After about the second buoy we formed a nice double pace line where I found myself in the back half. About 1000m though it seemed like a long ways to the front of the group when I started to peek around the guys in front of me. They weren't swimming too close up on the guys in front of them and I kept thinking that they might get dropped and that it was a better option to move from the left side of the group to the right side and then up to try to get a better position further up.

At this point I should have simply told myself that it was more important to swim as easy as possible in the warm river and also that it would be nearly impossible for the group to split. However I made the move and over swam it. I found myself getting very very hot, got swum up on a bit by the guys on my feet and had a bit of a panic. It can happen more easily in warm water. I stopped, regrouped and then built back into a rhythm, swimming the last 2500m well and only lost about another 30 seconds to the pack.

+++

In Pro racing on a course like this, the group is so important. The savings in energy is massive and it typically makes you minutes faster than if you were to ride on your own.

I figured I could make up the gap without a problem but told myself that if I didn't catch them in the first 30', I'd settle and prepare to ride solo. At the 15' mark, I could everyone ahead and I eventually caught the group right around that 30' mark. Swim error overcome....

At 20 miles there were 10 of us together with 3 guys up the road. The rolling hills caused the group to accordion (come together on the hills and stretch out on the downs). The officials seemed to be ok with this, though I felt like there were so many times when everyone was well inside of the 6 meters that need to exist between your bike and the rider ahead of you.

A short time later at mile 25 I made a similar decision to that of the swim. Instead of being patient, the rider in front of me let a gap to the rider in front of him open up on an uphill, I moved around him, trying to make my way to the from of the group, which is where I usually ride my best. The official disagreed and hit me with a 5 minute penalty.

The rules are such that you can pass and slot in if the space between your bike and the bike in front of you is more than the minimum 6 bike lengths that needs to exist...it's a rule that is enforced based only by the opinion of an official. They are making the call from different vantage points and traveling at around 30mph. In this case the official was 3 riders behind me and I didn't feel he could accurately see what I did on the bike.

I would like to see the rules changed to 12 bike lengths being needed to "slot in" and I would also like to see officials start to penalize those hanging out in the pace line (not just accepting it for the accordion that it is), not penalizing those riders who are aggressive and assertive in making their way through.

I stopped, served my 5 minutes at the next penalty tent and then finished out the last 90 miles going through many ups and downs.

+++

The run was hot, but I started easy and felt ok. My lack of focus on the bike likely lead to me neglecting nutrition and fueling. It's tough when you arrive into T2 around 15-20 minutes behind. I ran alright for most of the first loop, but ended up getting sick at mile 15. Shortly there after I pulled the plug for what was a good decision for me to make.

+++

There is a huge amount of work that goes into being race ready at a high level and it can be very disappointing when that work doesn't translate over into a performance that you are capable of. It's important to learn from mistakes, to remember that no fitness is never wasted, to know that shit happens and also to get to planning the road that lays ahead.

Thank you to the amazing homestay that Ann and Charlie provided, thank you to my family, support crew, team of amazing athletes, sponsors and partners who make all of this possible and exciting for me, even after 15 years of Ironman racing.

Now for a little R&R and some planning for the end of 2016 and 2017... more to come soon.