Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 resolutions

to be honest I stole these from an article I read but I'm in:

1. To be more personally responsible about things that affect all of mankind. You know, recycling, turning lights off, etc.

2. To be more compasionate. I'm going to do at least one really kind thing to someone every single day this year. If I miss I'll do two the next day. Pay it forward. Homeless people get ready to get some warm clothes from me. I'll defintiely be holding doors and letting people cut in line. I really want to see what my character is like after a year of this. Om Mani Padme Hung!

3. To not say anything if it isn't positive. OBVIOUSLY I really need to do this and I shall.

Please remind me if I falter against these three--I'll really, really respect any of you who do--hopefully you won't get many chances!

Happy New Year!

Today's 3000, December and 2009 Data

Well today I was able to swim my timed 3000 in 48:41. This is over 2 minutes faster than 2 weeks ago. It's also faster than I've ever timed myself over 3000 yards. It works out to 1:37/100 and is equivalent to a 68 minute IM pace. The last 1000 was in 15:40 so it seems like I can get a fair bit faster. My goal is to swim this in 45 minutes by Oceanside. I'm feeling very positive about my swim!


824 miles on the bike up from 638 in November
152 miles running up from 139
40k yards swimming up from 22k
93.2 hours training up from 73.7

December was a very solid training month in terms ov volume and my body has held up well. I was very pleased with both the swim and the run progress. My bike miles are pretty good but they lack some of the quality that I'll need as the year progresses.

I'd like January to come in around 100 hours with modest increases across the board and considerably higher quality (long rides and speed w/os) on the bike.

2009 totals

Here is how 2009 ended and compares to 2008 and 2007:

Total hours training:

2009: 796.8 (15.3/week)
2008: 864.2 (16.6)
2007: 934.7 (17.8)

Swim yards (000):

2009: 259 over 80.6 hours (5.0 per week) (Average pace: 1:52/100)
2008: 303 over 96.1 hours (5.8 per week) (Average pace: 1:54/100)
2007: 472 over 149.8 hours (9.1 per week) (Average pace: 1:54/100)

Bike miles:

2009: 7762 over 474.0 hours (149 per week at 16.4 mph)
2008: 9185 over 554.3 hours (177 per week at 16.6 mph)
2007: 8586 over 498.6 hours (165 per week at 17.2 mph)

Run miles:

2009: 1002 over 145.1 hours (19.3 per week at 8:41 per mile)
2008: 1228 over 180.8 hours (23.6 per week at 8:50 per mile)
2007: 1510 over 216.8 hours (29.0 per week at 8:37 per mile)

The above data reflects the "take it easy" year that 2009 was. Expect 2010 to see run volume at or above 2007 and bike volume at 2008 levels. I'd like to see my swim volume come in close to half-way between 2007 and 2008.

I'll post a review of 2009 racing/climbing results shortly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back on patrol

Just returned last night from a great five day family reunion down in sunny Mexico. It was a real fun time and allowed for me to happily execute an overdue recovery week. I woke up a week ago Monday feeling like my body had been hit by a ton of bricks so i definitely needed the break. (I probably didn't need to eat and drink as much as I did but what can you do?).

Stats for last week: 14.6 hours. 8300 yds swimming, 124 miles on the bike, and 21.5 miles running (with some cross-training mixed in as well).

This week is a bit of a ramp-up, although will necessarily be constrained by travel and New Year's and then full-bore next week.

I'll post an eoy anyalysis in a couple of to the pool!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

that's how we roll

24 hours/195 miles on the bike/43 miles on the run/11k swim--this was another solid week---prob need to back off next week!

new 2009 bests for run/swim

6 days running--nice new frequency level

2 run speed w/o's this week:
-10X 1.5 min@ 6:53/1.5@ 9:22
-20X 1 min @ 6:49/1 @ 9:22

bw--I had no run speed w/o's during 2008 and untill recnely 2009

I have now settled into a 3 speed w/o per every two weeks for each bike and run. this week i had two run speed w/os. next week will be two bike speed w/os.....pace is not super demanding but I'm trying to cultivate continued momneum!

Prob need to back off a bit this coming week what with the holidays....on it though no matter what!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Speed on the bike 2

So among other things I did my second speed session on the bike today. I essentially replicated the w/o of 5-6 days ago with an important modification. I did the single-leg drills and the two 10 min. high (113-115 rpm) cadence sections. For the mixed mode ladder I started at 6 minutes and then stepped through the same intensity pattern as before (with the same 2:1 work:easy ratio. So it looked like this:

6 min @ 220+ watts/3 min spin
5 min @ 230+ watts/2.5 spin
4 min @ 250+ watts/2 spin
3 @ 270+ watts/1.5 spin
2 @ 290+ watts/1 spin
1@ 325+ watts/.5 spin

This actually represented quite an increase in total workload from session one:

session one speed workload: 15 minutes @ 246 average watts

Session two speed workload: 21 minutes @ 252 average watts

While the first session was well within my current fitness envelope the second one was definitely closer to the edge--I was still able to comfortably do the work sessions but definitely had to motivate to do so!

It's interesting to note that all of my best half-IM watts have averaged 222-228 watts in the past so this w/o starts there and builds. Based on my body's response to the above I'd say my current functional threshold power is probably in the 220-240 watt range. Before IMFL 2007 I had it tested at Cadence and it measured 293 watts. I'll need to get it up to at least 275 watts by Ocenaside. Should be doable.

In my next speed session I won't increase the overall workload by nearly as much as I did between sessions one and two (which was probably a 45% increase). I'll shoot for maybe another 5-10% increase--after that it'll get much tougher....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Overview

Here's the idea for 2010:

Overall Mission: Reestablish myself as a competent and competitive Long-Course Triathlete

Meso-Cycle 1: November 1, 2009-March 27th, 2010

Objective: Reach a level of LC fitness that will allow me to be competitive at IMCalifornia 70.3

Target "A" Race: IMCalifornia70.3
-Low 5 hour performance (roughly equivalent to 4:50 eagleman fitness)
-Qualify for IM Hawaii through XC competition

Training emphasis: 1. Run; 2. Swim; 3. Bike; 4. Cross-training
-Steady 30-50 mpw on the run with Heavy emphasis on speed work
-Swim: standard Pete Reid swim approach with weekly volume in the 10-15k range
-Bike: as much volume as I can fit in with weekly CT sessions to build top end

Support races: 2-3 5k runs, Icicle 10 miler, B&A Half-marathon; Cherry Blossom 10 miler

Meso-Cycle 2: March 28th-July 4th

Objective: Reach IM fitness level

Target "A" race: IM Germany--Euro championships
-sub 11 hours
-qualify for IM Hawaii through XC if I have not done so already

Training emphasis: 1. Run; 2. Bike; 3. Swim
-more of the same on run with several long runes in the 20+ mile range
-consistent 200-300 mpw on the bike with several 5-8 hour bike rides; spring training camp
-maintenance on the swim with 9-12k weekly volume

Support Races: IMNOLA70.3, Eagleman70.3, several sprint tris

Meso-cycle 3: July 5th-November 7th

Objective: Maintain strong LC fitness with second peak at IM Hawaii or IMFL

Target "A" race: IMFL or IM Hawaii if i qualify
-Florida: new PR
-Hawaii: finish

Training emphasis: 1. Bike/Run; 3. Swim
-classic long course training pattern on the bike
-after post IMGER recovery back to 30-50 mile weeks on the run with sept/Oct long runs
-swim: maintenance mode with open water emphasis

a day in the life

So here is how yesterday went down:

4:35 am up before alarm

5:03 am on the pool deck

6:00 swim wo over

6:08 weight/flexibility session

7:05 leave YMCA

7:10 pick up bagels for Alex's sxhool

7:55 drop alex off at School

8:10 start 1 hour spin on trainer

10:17 catch Acela to NYC

1:15 pm go to iQor (where I work)

2-5 Board of Directors meeting

5:30 check in at Gramercy Park Hotel

5:40 out for 45 minute run along Hudson

7:00 meet Judy and Kara for a drink on the roof of the GPH

8:00-10:00 have nice dinner at BLT Fish

10:15 go to Rose bar at GPH-order first bottle of champagne

10:30-2:00am joined by kara's room mates. Meet Gavin DeGauw who is at table next to us. He decides to hang with us for the night. Many more bottles of champagne. Meet bunch of rocker dudes who are friends with him. play pool. Judy and I leave at 2am--much hugs all around. Kara stays with Gavin and crew until 5 am.

7am this morning. get up and hop on hotel exercise bike--decide today will have to be an easy day....

and so it goes

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good week goin.......

Monday solid 4 hour day. Yesterday on the pool deck at 5:03 for a 3500 yd swim. A real nice tready speed w/o: 10x (1:30@ 6:53/1:30@ 9:22) and 3 hours outside on the bike. Up in NYC tonight but was again in the pool at 5am and then did some weights, a quick trainer ride and just finished a 45 minute run....12+ hours in a nice IM week.....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still on plan

Another week down. This was supposed to be a recovery week and I guess it was--of sorts. I ended up a little over 20 hours which is a little more than I intended. 189 miles on the bike, 30 running and 8750 in the pool (plus some EFX and weights).

I had to contend with a fair amount of work including a Monday session in San Diego which was followed by a red eye flight and a Wednesday night/Thursday day in Boston so that took a bit of my flexibility away. I had intended to run a little less and get in the pool one more time--oh well.

My body and mind seem to be handling the volume. An interesting stat is that in the first 44 weeks of the year, the number of times I went 30+ miles running in a week was zero. In the last six weeks, I've beat that target 6 times.

This week will have a little more volume and will again feature some speed sessions on the bike and run. I started the week with around 4 hours today. Easy run and bike and a fairly tough swim. Main set included 4x200 @ 3:00-3:05 and 7x100 @1 :27-1:30. Definitely felt sluggish and slow--probably in part related to hard weight session prior to the swim.

Up early tomorrow and I'm off to NYC for work Wed/Th so will have to get creative once again....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh Lord, I'm shinning!

I have rediscovered that I surely do LOVE to train!

Today was time for my first Computrainer speed session of the 2010 build. I borrowed a bunch from what Coach Pete taught me in 2007, specifically in this case from a Canadian National Team w/o. This w/o incorporated a couple of technical elements and a mixed-mode ladder section. Here is what it looked like:

60 min wu on my stationery trainer and then hopped on my CT for the 75 min CTSS:

10 min easy spin

10 min single leg drills: 3x (1 min left/30 sec both/1 min right/30 sec both). This w/o is designed to build the small coordinating muscles at the top of the thigh. This more complete muscle recruitment, especially of the "pulling-up" or "de-weighting" muscles over time leads to a smoother, more circular pedalling stroke which allows one to achieve higher pedalling efficiency and thus a higher average power output relative to peak power. Today, this was cumbersome and a bit painful--lots of rust to work off here!

10 min high cadence. by high I mean I was trying to target 110-120 rpm and today i averaged 111 rpm. This is strickly a neural-muscular oriented drill designed to make it easier to generate a given angular velocity during the stroke.

25 minute mixed mode ladder. This is the "meat" of the w/o. By mixed, I mean the time and the wattage for each segment are moving in oppossite directions. In this case I was descending on time and ascending on power. Today I used a 2:1 work/rest ratio and utilized pretty modest power targets to ease me back into the world of speed. Here are the specifics:

-5 min @ 220 watts/2.5 min easy spin
-4 min @ 230 watts/2 min easy spin
-3 min @ 250 watts/1.5 min easy spin
-2 min @ 270 watts/ 1 min easy spin
-1 min @ 310 watts/.5 min easy spin

All of these watt numbers were minimum targets for each segment and I exceed them by several watts in practice. while not easy (that is the point after-all--to not be easy) I fould this w/o comfortably within my current fitness level and so will build upward from this fairly quickly in the weeks ahead. A few weeks down the line I'll do a function threshold test to better set my wattage targets but this will do for now.

10 more minutes of high cadence. the second high cadence section is always one of my favorites because for some reason it always is easier than the first (some type of neural-muscular learning effect) and indeed I averaged 117 rpm.

Then a warm down--nice!

The workout was helped immensely by a nice Chemical Brothers mix....

can you hear me now, like I'm hearing you?
is it sweet and pure and true?
oh Lord, I'm shinning!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hey you FT fibers--time to come out and play.

Starting to turn my attention to speed work in earnest (I have been throwing casual "fartlek" type eforts on the bike/run for a while and of-course getting into it now in the pool). Today's w/o's included an easy 1 hour spin on my trainer for warm-up (very nasty outside).

Then the main course--a structured LT interval session on the tready. This was a gentle intro back into the world of speedwork after about a 15-16 month hiatus (not counting races). After a 15 min warm-up at 9:05/mile, I did 15 x (1min @ 6:58/mile and 1 min @ 9:22/mile) followed by a warm-dwon and then 15 minutes of EFX. The 15 repeats felt relatively easy and I was pleased to see an excellent HR transient during the recovery intervals (probably dropping 15-20 bpm during the minute of slower running). The 15th was still quite easy--in fact I did it at 6:40/mile. In the days ahead I'll play with the length and intensity of the fast sections, the total "fast" duration (target is 15-30 minutes per session), relative length of fast vs slow, number of repeats, and incline % (today was 0%). I hope to do a run speedworkout every 5 days or so for the next 6-8 weeks.

My body's response today indicates I have very good "base-endurance" fitness but need to work on my headroom or LT threshold. and so I will.

Then jumped in the pool and did a timed 3000 at 50:55 (1:42/100 or about a 71-72 minute IM pace). this was about 30 seconds faster than last week (without straining). Would like to get this time down around 45 minutes (63 minute pace) by March.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Crash Week and post crash

Well I survived a big "crash" week. Crashing is a somewhat risky training move where you dramatically up the volume in the hopes of jump-starting training adaptation. I used to do it a lot back in the day whaen i was a runner--I'd jump from 50 mpw to a 100 mpw. The key to this is to have a fairly big base (in my case--I'm counting the last 9 years of training) and to carefully monitor soft tissue stress points to not get injured. I used the month of November to prepare me for this week as well.

So I was able to go over 27 hours of training with in excess of 250 miles on the bike, 40 on the run and 10,000 yards of swimming. The run and swim totals were high points for 2009 and this was my second biggest bike week. i also did some weight sessions. This was also the 5th consecutive week of 30+ miles running. so for an old guy not to bad.

Off course, i found I was tired and dead-legged alot during the week but did generally have some pretty good workouts. My body composition continues to improve and I'd no longer describe my self as "fat". I think I have a decent shot of getting under 170 pounds by New Year's which is a stone's throw from my race weight of 163 pounds. My actual fat composition has now dropped back into single digits.

The key for this week is of-course to back-off and absorb the training and let my body adapt without breaking down. I'll be looking for something more like 15 hours this week with substantially less bike and run volume. i do plan to throw a couple of speed sessions in here to begin to stimulate FT muscle development. I will to try to keep swimming volume up this week as I really did not "crash" my swimming muscles last week.

Nice swim today. The main set was what i call my step-down Oly ladder. This is a 1500 yd set in the form of 500/400/300/200/100 where I go on the 2 min/100 yd pace intervals. I keep track of my total rest time. Today that was 6:54 (ie I swam the 1500 yards in 23:06--av average of 1:32/100). I've always tried to get this up to 7:30+ rest time and I'd like to shoot this winter for 10 minutes of rest which equates to an average pace of 1;20/100 yards. Once i flatten out improvement wise, I'll add a 600 on the front which will give a 2100 yard main set which is an excellent indicator workout for the half-Ironman swim. At 1:32/100 this is equivalent to a 32-33 minute hal-IM swim and at 1:20 it's the equivalent of a 28-29 minutes. I've found that these workouts are reasonable indicators (in good conditions) of an open-water racepace swim with a wetsuit. I'm not saying I'm in 32-33 min half-IM swim shape now but I'm pretty close and in any event, I'm confident I'll be ready to swim well come Oceanside.

It was fun this weekend to train in LA and San diego even though the weather sucked. It was great to be back with Anders my son and old training partner.

All good!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

today's 3000

Nice little workout day today!

Decided I was a little burnt pool-wise from two hard interval sessions this week and since I had to bump up Friday's swim to today (flying to west coast tomorrow) I decided to just cruise through a 3000. Did first 500 in 8:48 and second in 8:50 which is about a 74 minute IM pace. Even though I wasn't really doing a time-trial I decided to pick it up as I felt pretty good and lo and behold I finished the 3000 in 51:23 which is a 72 minute IM swim pace. Not bad for December! I think the fact that I'm a stronger swimmer than I was in 2007 and I'm ahead of my training versus 2007 means I have a good shot at going under my IM swim PR of 66....

Beautiful day today. Actually ran outside without a shirt--again not bad for December!

Was only supposed to cruise for an hour on my trainer but since it was nice I went outside and rode for 2.5 hours. One of the advantages of self-coaching is the ability to adjust on the fly and i intend to do that a lot this year--basically get outside and ride whenver the weather let's me this winter.

Clearly looking like a big week with 17:45 in trainin ghrough the first 4 days with some big rides with anders in LA this weekend....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today's ride

34 degrees at game time. 15-20 mph wind. Flat tire. Four and a half hours with a 20 min transition run. Feeling the love!

IM Germany on the schedule!

OK--2010 schedule starting to shape up! Key races on the books so far include:

March: IM Oceanside 70.3
April: IM NOLA 70.3
June: Eagleman 70.3
July: IM European Championship--Frankfurt, GE
November: IM Florida

Additionally, I'd like to add a LC race in May and perhaps one in September (or in Hawaii in October!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

November in the books and on plan!

So November was what it was suppossed to be--a transitional month from the 2009 vibe towards my Long Course focus for 2010. Despite trips to Rome, The Bahamas, New York (3 times), and Boston I was able to put in 74 hours training in November. This included 22,000 yards of swimming, 638 miles of biking and 139 miles of running (as well as a healthy amount of weight training).

My main objective was to get back to IM mode on the run. I had been averaging just 60-80 miles a month but was able to jump right up and record 4 straight 30 mile weeks. November is the first month since August of 2008 where I put in more than 100 miles. I feel considerably fitter already and plan to push the December total up above 150 miles. I should then be well positioned to drive for the 3/27 race in Oceanside. I was also able to get back in the swing of things in the pool with a number of easy continuous swims of increasing distance. Today I did my first traditional pool w/o at 3000 yds that featured 15 100s all in the 1:26-1:29 range. This is way ahead of prior years and I'm optimistic I can hit my 1:12-1:16 target range by Oceanside. During
December I'll gradually get used to 4000-4500 yd w/os 3-4 times per week. My biking has a ways to go still, but given my focus on running and to a lesser extent swimming it's in a reasonable place for right now.

This week is penciled in for 28 hours and will represent a real test of my body's ability to quickly leap back up to IM training levels.

I find out tomorrow if I'm in at IM Germany which is being held on July 4th in Frankfurt....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

back to the future!

so i once was an Ironman. Hope to be again in 2010. My training is definitely looking more like what an IM does. A good week this week. 23 hours/219 miles on the bike/34 miles running/6750 in the pool aqnd 3 hours of weights.

The principal goal of 2009 was to take a break so that I could recapture the drive and dedication I need to succeed at IM. At this point I'd say this was a success. I've got the bug again. with 3 straight weeks of over 30 miles running I feel like I've moved past an inflection point. I can feel my fitness progressing again. My weight is falling and I'm looking forward to some big weeks next month. I believe by January that I'll be consistently hitting IM class workout weeks....


Monday, November 16, 2009

the plot thickens is where it's at...

19 hours last week--not quite an IM week but pretty damn good for Nov!

in the pool twice--only other time in the water in Nov. in my career was IMFL in 2004 and 2007

70 miles in the first 15 days running this month--it has been a very long time since I've done that

I'm still pretty fat but heading in the right direction....

Have signed up fro 4 LC races so far (and am working on another IM!):


feeling the love now!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuning UP

Starting to turn my attention to 2010. November and December are transitional months with a strong focus on running. I did 35 miles in my first week of November which is definitely a m ove in the right direction. Back into the pool tomorrow and also starting to focus on bringing more discipline into my riding as well. Also will hit wieghts a couple of times a week for the next few months.

As for 2010, I may hook up with some Canadian crazies out in Tuscon again for either a March or April training camp. Race-wise the focus will be all Long Course next year. It's beginning to shape up as:

IMCali70.3 in March (registered)
White Lake in May
Eagleman70.3 in June (registered)
either IMCDA or IMGermany (June/July) with the XC program
IMFL in November (registered)

Plus I'll plan on 8 shorter tris and an assortment of other racing (runs, AV, swims, etc.)

Getting in the IM mindset again.....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another First (of sorts) :)

Just returned from Concord, NC where I participated in the ITU World Duathlon Championship. In a season of firsts, I achieved another one--this was the first race I ever finished LAST in my AG--whooo-hooo!

I'll post a race report shortly but here are the main reasons:

1. The competition were way more talented duathletes than I (for the most part)
2. I was sicker than a dog (basically felt like I had 50% of my lung capacity)
3. The spring in my barrel adjuster in my rear deraileur crapped out and led to my chain jumping every stroke--this caused me to have to get off and adjust the tension somewhere between 20-30 times and caused me to lose 10-15 minutes on my bike ride. (Not to mention the resultant interval session that it forced). I felt lucky to just be able to get into T2!
4. Given the above my effort was certainly quite a ways below 100%--I didn't see any point in going for it.

That said, if everything had been perfect, I would have finished between 25 and 30th (as oppossed to 35th) as I was way out of my league for sure.

Check back for the race report.


Monday, September 21, 2009

#25 at Smallwood!

General Smallwood Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #14: September 20th, 2009


I traveled 140 miles south to the town of Marbury, Maryland on the shores of the Potomac to try my hand at this sprint triathlon. I left at 3:45am and found myself on site by 6:15am, which allowed me time to do some recon on the bike and run course. The race was advertised as a 750-meter swim in the river, a 16-mile bike over rolling roads followed by a mixed surface 5k. In practice, the bike turned out to 16.52 miles and the run distance is not know but was certainly significantly longer than 5k.

I wore sweatpants and a sweatshirt as it was only in the high 50s will dawn came. By race time the temp would climb to the low 70s. This combined with brilliant sunshine, low humidity and negligible wind made for perfect sprint racing conditions.

This race was to be my 14th triathlon of the 2009 season and 87th of my career. Notably, I was going for my 25th AG win, which if I achieved it, would mean I had realized one of the long-term triathlon goals I had set for myself some eight years ago. I knew little about my age group competition so tactically; I was at a bit of a competitive disadvantage.

The Swim

The water temp was 71 degrees and I was in my full wetsuit. The swim course was essentially an out and back with an in-water start and a swim finish 50 yards down the shore on a cement boat ramp. Buoys were to the left so I elected to go wide right so I could keep the field in my sight line with my predominantly left-side breathing pattern. My wave was the 3rd and we were off at 9:08 am.
I started fairly hard and then quickly settled into a nice comfortable rhythm. I had none of the issues from last week’s swim and I could see I was up towards the front of the field. I could see a few guys in front of me and I thought I could go harder but this seemed like a good solid effort so I elected not to. I found some feet and drafted for a while.

The water was pretty clear but filled with a lot of “salad”. I hit the turn with little challenges and headed back for home with the sun glaring in my face. My left goggle developed a leak and soon filled with water. My visibility was poor but the course was so simple it really wasn’t a problem. I was passing a few guys in my wave and many from both of the prior waves. It felt like I was having a reasonable swim.

I gained the top of the boat ramp at 12:53 with an average HR of 156. My immediate thought was that this was a decent swim. The HR is surprisingly high, my highest of the season, but is probably an anomaly—I certainly didn’t perceived this to be an exceptionally hard effort. I thought there was a good chance that I had the fastest time in my AG but in fact I was 3rd (out of 9) and overall, I had the 43rd fastest swim out of 230 (81.7 %-tile). This was a decent swim for me. Here is where we stood in the AG competition:

1. Predzin --------
2. Schneider + 0:17
3. Christofferson + 1:10

Transition One

I was blissfully unaware that I was down by over a minute to a pretty decent triathlete as I trekked through a very lengthy T1. We had to climb a hill, run on sidewalks, across some stones, through a parking lot, across some grass, down a hill and finally wind our way into the transition area. I tried to push this effort and I passed quite a few folks who had finished the swim before I.

I quickly found my bike and executed a fairly smooth change into biking stuff and was on my way with an elapsed transition time of 3:06 (average HR of 167). This turned out to be a relatively solid transition as I was 30th OA (87.4 %-tile). In my AG I was one second slower than Predzin but faster than everyone else and in-fact was able to pass Schneider and move into second as we started the bike:

1. Predzin --------
2. Christofferson + 1:11
3. Schneider + 1:58

The Bike

I didn’t see anybody from my AG on this bike. I became increasingly convinced as the ride progressed that I was in first and opening up a sizeable lead. In retrospect, I think Predzin went in the 4th wave (as a Clydesdale) so I was not aware that I was behind him.

In any event, I felt considerably better than I did in last week’s Olympic contest. I could feel that quite a bit of my power had returned—it felt like I was finally recovering from climbing Shasta (4 weeks after doing so!). The bike course had a couple of decent climbs right away and since this was a shortish bike ride I jumped up out of my saddle and put the power well into the high 300s on several occasions. Not the smartest way to ride but it seemed like a fun thing to do.

I was passing a bunch of folks although one 40 year old did pass me—I tried to stay with him but no such luck. I’m pretty confident that the RC of the last two years would not have had such a fate.

The ride was pretty uneventful. I stayed in my 54 the whole way as I had noticed my front derailleur was a little sketchy when I warmed up. I was able to hit the low 40s on several descents so it was a pretty exciting ride. I felt like I was going pretty well, but I just didn’t have the will to really hammer it—I felt like I was dominating my AG as it was.

I finished the bike in 45:23 with an average HR of 163. This indicates that I wasn’t quite “on the rivet” and the average speed of 21.8 mph reflects the challenging nature of the hills on the course. My average power was 247 watts, which is a nice rebound from last week. Not up to my recent standards but part of this reflects the coasting and soft-pedaling inherent in a course with a lot of descents. I am reasonably pleased with this number considering everything. My average cadence of 76 rpm also reflects the impact of the hills.

Competitively, I had the 6th fastest bike split (97.8 %-tile), which is a pretty descent result for me as I am not generally know for my climbing/descending ability. This result dominated my AG. I put 5+ minutes on everybody but Predzin but even with him I was 3:36 faster. Here is where we stood after the bike:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Predzin + 2:25
3. Schneider + 6:15

Transition Two

I executed a solid T2 in 52 seconds with a HR of 159. Overall I had the 41st fastest transition (82.6 %-tile) and the second fastest in my AG. As I headed out of transition for the run, I felt I was in complete command of the AG race. While, my tactical understanding was a little flawed, this viewpoint turned out to be correct. Here is where we stood at the start of the run:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Predzin + 2:17
3. Schneider + 8:06

The Run

The first part of the bike and run where on the same road course so before the race I clocked the first mile at 1.19 miles. While I wasn’t able to measure the rest of the course as it headed into the rods on stone and dirt paths, I do know that only 2 of the 230 runners were able to get under 21 minutes. I know a fellow who is a mid 18 5k guy and he ended up doing 21:40 so it’s clear this course was longer than 5k. It was a tough run with several pretty long, steepish climbs so that was a factor for sure as well. In any event, my guess is that the course was around 3-4 minutes slower than a flattish, true 5k run.

I felt pretty good quickly into the run. I was passed by a few folks I had smoked on the bike (they always seem compelled to tell me I had a great bike, which is another way of commenting on my run speed.) I glanced at my HR monitor and I could tell there and by how I felt that I was just cruising. I honestly didn’t feel the need to really hammer it just so I could be another 30 seconds faster at the end.

There was a little turnaround on the road just before we entered the woods and I saw there was a huge gap behind me and no dinosaurs in sight. I decided to just cruise the run and enjoy myself. I was pleased that my knee felt ok, as it had really hurt after a 10-mile run I had done earlier in the week. I had to skip running for 5 days and apply a lot of ice.

Anyways, on this beautiful morning I encountered no problems and truly enjoyed a beautiful run in the woods. I crossed a cool arched wooden bridge across a bay and made the final turn and ran up the hill to the finish in 26:58 with an average HR of 165. Again I think this is the equivalent of a 23-24 minute 5k and I definitely felt I could have gone faster if need be—my HR confirms this. OA, my run was the 67th fastest (71.3 %-tile). However, I did turn in the fastest run in my AG—whoo-hoo!

I ended up beating Predzin by 2:21. Technically, he was counted in the Clydesdale competition so the final official AG standings were:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Podolin + 8:52
3. Dighe +12:23

My overall time of 1:29:12 was good enough for 20th OA (91.7 %-tile). I’ll certainly take it! Especially given the somewhat easy nature of my effort.

This could be my last triathlon of the season. If so, it’s been a good one. In my 14 races I have 8 firsts, 5 seconds and 1 third—in the money on all of them. Over my last 18 short-course races I have 12 wins. This also represents an important milestone as it represents my 25th career win.

Next week is the World Duathlon Championship in North Carolina, which I’m approaching as a fun effort. Extreme Bocce is the weekend following and then maybe, just maybe I’ll try one last Tri before calling it a season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

General smallwood Sprint Triathlon "Flash"

Raced this morning down in Maryland--14th of the year and 87 of the career. Good, solid effort yielded my 8th win of the year and perhaps more importantly, career win number 25. I set a series of career goals 8 years ago and winning 25 times at the AG level was one of them.

Race report in a couple of days....

very nice!!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pine Barrens Race Report

Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon
Race Report #13: September 12th, 2009


After a three-week hiatus, post the summit of Mount Shasta, I finally felt like I might be able to race again. The prior Sunday I had used the Tim Kerr 7-Mile Island Run as a training effort and was struck by how “shredded” my legs, especially my quads still were. Further, my back went-out and only in the day or so before the race did it begin to feel somewhat serviceable (lots of muscle relaxers!). During my Shasta recovery period I hadn’t been able to train much so my expectations about my performance in this race were quite low.

None-the-less, the season was drawing to a close and I only had a few more opportunities to race so I really wanted to get this race in. This was to be my longest race of the season—an “Olympic Distance” race. The swim was to be somewhere around a mile, the bike just a hair over 24 miles and the run I clocked at 6.35 miles. More on the course latter. Race morning was dreary with a light rain but otherwise pleasant conditions.

This was about the 28th running of this particular triathlon—making it one of the oldest in the country. I had done this course once before with a 2:21 and change as the result. The race has fallen on somewhat hard times with only 70 triathletes pre-registered and I suspected with the persistently rainy weather that had preceded this race that probably less than that would actually race (in fact just 59 started).

The Swim

The swim is contested in Lake Attison, which is a pleasant, though very dark, cedar lake. In fact, visibility in the water is at best a foot or two, especially given the overcast conditions. I had been swimming very well in my prior few triathlons, especially given my reduced training load, so I was still optimistic about this swim despite having been in the water only four times in the three plus weeks prior to this race.

The water was quite cool (maybe 64 degrees) from all the recent rain but I decided to use my long-john (short sleeves) since I had been doing well with them in the recent past. Also, I had a new one that I wanted to try out.

We split into two waves with all the men going first. I decided to start to the left away from the buoy line, as it was just a simple out and back. This race, and its sprint cousin, is notorious for crude estimated swim distances so I had no real expectations for my time. I thought it could be anywhere from 0.75 to 1.25 miles in length.

Off we went and I tried to sprint out hard to catch clean water initially and then to catch a faster swimmer’s draft. However, my lack of recent wet time caught up with me as that and the coldness of the lake quickly led to hyperventilation and a racing heart for yours truly. I felt a bit of panic rising down in the primitive parts of my brain but I tried to remind the many internal voices that I had done 85 prior triathlons, had experienced this phenom before, and had always been able to slay the demons. I’d like to say that I got it quickly under control but I did not. I had to really focus for a good 5-8 minutes while simultaneously backing off the pace before I was finally able to get on top of it and find an equilibrium.

When I did calm down a quick recon of the tactical situation told me that I was well off the lead pace and that maybe as much as half of the field was out in front of me. I settled in and focused on my stroke (nice and long with lots of body torque) and I begin to address some of the early damage. Slowly but surely I began passing folks and as we hit the turnaround I could see 14 minutes on the clock. Since I think I’m in 25-27 minute mile shape right now it occurred to me that the swim probably was pretty close to a true mile. The rest of the swim was uneventful as I picked off a few more guys in front of me.

I hit the shore in 27:14 with an average HR of 151 bpm. The latter, being a little below average was probably a reflection of my earlier adventures. This turned out to be the 15th fastest swim overall which was only good enough for 76.2 %-tile, a big drop off from recent races. As for my AG competitors, I really only knew about one of them and he was racked right next to me. As I saw his bike still there I knew I was in good shape. In fact I would have the top swim in my AG and enjoy over a 2 and a half-minute lead going into T1.

Transition One

I completed transition one in 1:37 with an average HR of 160. This was 7th best OA and easily best in my AG.

The Bike

I like this bike course. It’s pretty flat but not particularly fast. It has rough roads and is susceptible to wind—factors I noted this morning. I’ve ridden this bike course 4-5 times before having gone as fast as just over 60 minutes. I thought that maybe today, given the recent past, I might be able to do 63 minutes or so. I could soon see that this was likely to be a fantasy as my SRM was showing power in the 230s (versus 260s in my prior races). Man, I had lost a lot of fitness on Shasta and in the ensuing weeks!

I soldiered on and soon began passing a lot of bikes—I counted 10 or 11 in the first 6 miles. I admonished a certain well know triathlete for drafting (seems to be the summer for it!) and pushed on.

After mile 6 I saw no one else until the very end when I could just make out another triathlete in the distance. I had no spunk but just focused on trying to be consistent. I finished the bike in 64:43, which is objectively pretty slow, but it was all I had today. This works out to only 22.3 mph (Ironman pace!) and my average HR was only 158—probably 5-8 beets low—clearly I was limited by the power in my legs due to de-training. My power averaged only 230 watts and I had an average cadence of 77—probably my weakest ride of the season.

Still I had managed the 3rd best bike split OA and had moved into 4th OA. My AG competitors were now well behind me and ready to fall even further behind in the run.

Transition Two

I had a solid T2 of 43 seconds (157 bpm) which was 9th best OA and again tops in my AG and I raced out of T1 to see if I might be able to move up—I knew I was in 4th because I counted 3 bikes in transition.

The Run

I had low expectations for my run given the race the prior week and my mediocre bike but I was pleasantly surprised to feel pretty good early on in the run. Normally this run is back in the Pine Barrens on sandy trails but these were flooded with all the rain so we were all out on 206 for a road out and back. As I left the park and turned right on 206 I could see the 3rd place guy about a minute or so in front of me. It was tantalizing to look up and see him so close and know I had a lot of room to run him down but Tuckahoe and Pinchot had taught me that the people I was racing were really behind me, not in front. This is another way of saying I’m a slow runner!

In any event, two folks passed me in the first mile and I was hopeful that I could maybe hold on for my 3rd top 10 of the season. After about 15 minutes of running I turned and saw a fellow just 40-50 yards behind me but a big gap behind him. Maybe I could hold onto 7th?!?

I hit the turnaround in under 25 minutes, which I knew was OK for the longer than regulation course. My pursuer was just 5 yards behind me. I headed for home and saw that I had a huge gap back to the rest of the field—hey this is fun! Strangely enough I began to feel pretty good and actually began to push it. It felt to me like I was running better than any other tri this year.

After a while I turned and looked, wondering why I hadn’t been passed and saw that I had opened up a very impressive gap—I was running away from him—this is really fun! I knew I would be able to cruise to 6th OA, which I did! My run split was 49:16 (7:46/mile) with an average HR of 166. Well, I’ll certainly take that! I had the top run in my AG making this the first race where I was 1st in my AG in all five splits. I was 11th OA in the run: 83.0 %-tile. The joys of a small race!

Mt final time was a 2:23:23. I’m happy with it. My 7th win of the year (along with five seconds and one third) and my 24th of my career—just one short of my career objective set eight years ago. A good day indeed!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back in the saddle

Well I finally seem to be emerging from my post Shasta body malaise. I can feel power returning to my legs on both my bike and run. That said, I am definitely less fit (race-wise) than I was before Shasta as yesterday's race indicates.

I raced at Pine Barrens in my first Olympic distance Triathlon in quite a while. On my bike, I averaged 235 watts which is about 9.5% below what I've averaged in the last few races(260 watts). Granted the Olympic Distance is a little longer but call my drop in racing fitness something like 7-8% or so. I averaged 7:36/mile on the run which in an absolute sense sucks, but in a recent relative sense is quite encouraging. I actually felt reasonably good during the 6.35 mile run yesterday.

Competitively, I had a very satisfying race. I finished 6th overall (not sure how many people in it but probably 75 or so) and easily won my AG. This was my 7th AG win of the year (out of 13 races) and my 11th win in my last 17 short-course triathlons...a nice little run for sure.

Trying to figure how much more racing to do before I shut her down for the season. I'm racing in 2 weeks at World Duathlon Championships in North Carolina and the following week I'm once again competing in the World Extreme Bocce Championships. That leaves next weekend and 3 weekends hence as my last two opportunities to race a tri. Of course, I could end it here and finish with a winning record for the season. :). Or I could go for another win and secure my 25th career win which would knock off one of my long-term career goals which I set 8 years ago. Decisions, decisions.

I've started the first of my 4 training meso-cycles building to next year's IMFL. This phase is focused on getting in the range (165-170 pounds) of my target race weight (163 pounds) and trying to get my 5k time down to 20 minutes. I've started my monk diet thing and am hitting the track mid-week with Sparty.

I must say I am very eager to get focused again--not that I didn't enjoy this past season of decadence!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Opted to pass on marlton. My legs are still just toast. I think the climb at shasta has hit them almost as hard as an Ironman. I ran 4 miles yestertday and even that proved difficult....hopefully my body will bounce back soon....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Triathlon late season and then looking ahead

Getting into the last 4-5 weeks or so of triathlon season. I've raced 12 triathlons and would like to add 3-5 more.

I'm signed up for the Marlton Sprint this weekend but am 50/50 on it. My legs this morning, some 11 days after Shasta, feel almost normal--I know I've lost a lot of fitness not being able to train since shasta--in the last two weeks I've run 6 miles and swam 3000 yards.....

Looking ahead I hope to race the next two weekends--races TBD and then I'll head down to North Carolina for the Duathlon World championships.

I'll probably get one more tri after that and 2009 will be a wrap.

2010 will be my return to Ironman racing with IMFL in November as the "A" race.

I envision four meso-cycles between Labor day 2009 and race day:

Labor Day-New Year's 2009: Focus on diet to body weight/composition to IM level (165 pounds) and run focus to get 5K run time to 20 minutes

Jan-Mar 2010: Swim focus--try to develop 60 minute IM swim speed: 20,000+ yds/week

Apr-Jun 2010: Bike focus--develop sub 5 hour IM bike capability: 400+ miles/week

July-Oct 2010: IM specific build

Looking forward to the focus, clarity and discipline again...

Mountaineering videos

I've posted two Mountaineering Vids to You Tube--the URLs are:

Mount Rainier:

Mount Shasta:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mount Shasta Summit Report

Mount Shasta Summit Report
(August 21-23, 2009)

Friday August 21st

Anders and I met up at SFO when his plane arrived around 4 pm Friday afternoon. We grabbed his bags and threw them in the back of our Saturn “SUV” rental and we were driving north by 4:30. We were off to take a shot at our second big Cascade volcano of the 2009 season, as we had climbed Mount Rainier back in early June. The target for this weekend was Mount Shasta, the 14,179-foot giant of northern California.

Shasta is the 2nd highest peak in the Cascades (behind Rainier) and the 5th highest in California. Its name in Karuk (indigenous folks from the area) is “Uytaahkoo” which means White Mountain. The name is more appropriate in the months other than August and we fully expected to see a lot of rock to go along with the white. Shasta is big with an estimated volume of 108 cubic miles, making it the most voluminous stratovolcano (which means it is comprised of many layers or strata from periodic eruptions and lava flows) in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

Shasta is a famous mountain that captured the imagination of two great American environmentalists, John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. Muir said: “When I first caught sight of it over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley, I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.” And Roosevelt: “I consider the evening twilight on Mt. Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed.”

The mountain consists of four overlapping volcanic cones, which have built a complex shape, including the main summit and the prominent satellite cone of the 12,330-foot Shastina, which has a visibly conical form. If Shastina were a separate mountain, it would rank as the third-highest peak of the Cascade Range. Shasta’s peak is noticeably more pointed than the fairly broad-shouldered Rainier as it’s most recent eruptions are not as distant in the past as Rainier’s.

Nearly 7,000 feet of Mount Shasta’s height is above the timberline. Consequently, this is among the most barren wilderness areas in northern California. The plushest forest within the boundary is found on the northeast and southeast slopes of the mountain. Glaciers, tundra and massive scree fields dominate the rest of the area, although small meadows punctuate the lower flanks of Mount Shasta.

We were planning to climb from the North Gate Trailhead up the Hotlum-Bolum Ridge (this ridge cleaves the Hotlum and Bolum glaciers), which has a total elevation gain of 7,262 feet from a start altitude of 6,917. Although some 15,000 people attempt to summit Shasta each year (and about 5,000 make it) most of these attempts are on the south side on what is known as the Avalanche Gulch route. This route is considerably easier than the HB ridge but the rock-fall danger there this time of the year persuaded us to attack the more difficult and technical north side of the mountain.

In our drive up we encountered a lot of the weekend Tahoe traffic and so did not roll into Mount Shasta City until about 10:30. We pulled off the highway and checked into the nearest hotel, which turned out to be a Best Western. We readied our gear and were both in bed by 11:30—hopefully ready for a couple of big days.

Saturday, August 22nd

We awoke around 6:30, showered and scored a little grub and a lot of coffee. By 8 we were at The Fifth Season (the local mountaineer store) to meet our guide. We had arranged to climb with a private guide to help us with route finding and as a safety precaution as we know some aspects of our chosen route were potentially somewhat technical. We were a little surprised, but no less excited, to find our guide to be named “Natalie”—a 25 year-old Russian graduate of UC Davis. While she had an extensive endurance sport background (collegiate swimmer, long-distance biker and recent marathoner), her climbing resume seemed a little light—certainly in comparison to the outstanding guides we had at Rainier. None-the-less, she had a lot more experience than Anders and I--and she seemed nice enough so we were good to go.

We dumped all of our stuff on the lawn and went through a fairly quick equipment check, which we passed in flying colors (we may not know much about climbing but we do most certainly have the right gear). We loaded all of our stuff plus a bunch of group gear (tent, food, cooking gear) into our packs and hopped in our cars for the 30-mile drive to the trailhead—it was just about game time!

We drove up I-5 to the very California town of “Weed” and then headed east on CA 97. To our right were a series of fairly intimidating views of Shasta and Shastina. Big lava flow masses periodically stretched down very near the highway. As we looked up at the north face and the HB ridge it was clear that there was going to be a lot of rock in our future.

We turned off of 97 and proceeded to drive up a very jarring, dusty “road” to the North Gate trailhead. We rolled out of the car at 10:30 and immediately set about getting our gear ready to go. At 11 we were off.

We were in shorts and t-shirts, which was awesome—especially compared to Rainier. Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, we were climbing in our alpine, double/plastic mountaineering boots—our guide service wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t get stopped with blisters higher up. This was a bad call as climbing in 6-8 pounds of boots is not the best thing when it’s 80-90 degrees out.

The lower, trek in was just fabulous. Massive Redwoods or Sequoias (our so-called guide had no idea what I was talking about when I asked—heh-heh…more on this latter) towered above us and the trail was a very well maintained 2-4% grade path. We were cruising and getting to know each other as we moved very quickly up. Natalie had told us that we were looking at a minimum of 4 and more likely 5 hours to climb up to our mid-mountain camp at 9800 but both Anders and I thought we would pound through this climb a lot faster. After an hour or so we stopped and ate and drank and all was very cool in Christofferson climbing land.

The rest of the climb to mid-mountain was unremarkable. We soon left the forest and found ourselves negotiating the chaos of the scree/talus field that exists over essentially all of Shasta’s flanks. We stopped once again around 12 and finally made mid-mountain right at 1 pm—just 3 hours after leaving the trailhead. Natalie was pumped and both Anders and I felt totally on top of our game.

On that point, being able to climb Shasta with more competence, elegance and reserve was a big objective for me on this trip. Anders had far less problems on Rainier so I know he was less focused on this than I. I, on the other hand, wanted to avoid the couple of moments of drama that I went through on Rainier. I was in a lot better shape for this climb then I was in early June. I wanted to dance up the mountain with no mistakes and come back down, head to SF and then celebrate our mastery with an Anchor Steam. I was convinced that despite my complete absence of hiking/climbing specific training that my recent, strong performance in triathlon indicated that I would have a very high level of competence on Shasta. Certainly our climb to mid-Mountain reinforced this optimism.

Natalie gave us 2.5 hours to pitch our tent, chill and get ready for a refresher course in alpine mountaineering techniques. Natalie asked us if we snored a lot, which we fumbled a bit in our answer, and then she decided to set-up her tent a ways away from us. This left Anders and I the task of erecting a tent we had never seen before this trip. Anders laid down to rest and I fumbled around for a while and then deciding that I need not have an ego with respect to mountaineering I called up to Natalie for help. Help she did, and soon we had our home away from home set up. We put our sleeping pads, blankets, etc. in and we still had over an hour until “school”.

I decided to go over to our water source, which was a very small, algae encrusted, rocky stream running out from the snowfield above our camp. Natalie assured us that it was good and no purification was necessary. I had some pretty strong doubts but lacking any viable alternatives I went with the flow. I filled my bottles, drank some and hoped for the best.

Around 3pm we saw some other mountaineers, that we had left at the trailhead, trek on up past us and they eventually set up their camp a few hundred vertical feet above us. Besides that, this was a strangely uneventful and almost boring period of time.

At 3:30 Natalie came down from her area and we were off to practice alpine techniques. When we did this at Rainier it had taken 6 hours. On this day it was at most 45 minutes. I’d like to report that this was because Anders and I were so good now but realistically, that was not the case. The Shasta program clearly seems far less rigorous and safety oriented than the guides we worked with at Rainier.

Just like Rainier, Anders excelled at Alpine School and I struggled. Natalie, however, did not seem all that focused on honing my skills and soon we were heading back to camp after less than an hour of instruction. During this time another Shasta Mountain Guides group of four came into camp from their successful summit—they were returning to camp around 4:30pm and where staying the night at mid-mountain as part of a four day climb. They gave us some intel on the route—it seemed that the path up was in pretty descent shape. They described it as “mixed climbing” with some ice in parts. I didn’t like the sound of that last part.

Upon arriving in camp we had a discussion about gear/clothing strategy (which I thought Nat did a good job on), and went about preparing for dinner and the climb tomorrow. She thought it would take us 8-9 hours to summit and that we would be back to camp by 4-7 pm. This would put us down in the parking lot at the trailhead sometime between 7 and 10 pm. Anders and I needed to drive to San Francisco that night for our early Monday morning departures so we insisted that we would go much faster. Natalie wasn’t entirely convinced but did note we were much faster to mid-mountain than was typical. Nat boiled water and Anders and I soon enjoyed some nice “instant” Teriyaki Chicken. We cleaned up and soon were ready for bed.

It was only 6:30 and very much still day-time but Anders and I decided to “retire” to our palace and try to get at least a little sleep. It was still very light out so we spent the next hour or so shooting the shit and laughing about all sorts of dumb things. We pitched our tent (or so Anders claims) on a slight side slope so Anders kept rolling into me trying to be the big spoon. Anders hit me several times during the night claiming I was or about to start snoring—this I fully deny. At one point Anders wandered outside to take care of business and came back in muttering about the stars—really? At 10,000 feet on a clear moonless night—what are the chances? During the night the wind came up a bit and the fly of the tent rattled about quite a bit. It also began to feel noticeably colder—having Anders as the big spoon wasn’t so bad after all! In any event, we both slept a lot, much more than Rainier, and soon found ourselves nearing the Summit day wake-up call.

Sunday, August 23rd

Right on cue our respective alarms went off at 1 am. We said our good mornings and soon Natalie wandered by to make sure we weren’t slacking off. The plan was to do everything we needed to do to get ready and head up at 2 am. So we immediately set about the tasks at hand. It went something like this for me:
- turn helmet lamp on
- pull climbing pants on
- put Dragon soft-shell on
- put socks on
- open tent and grab boot liners and put them on
- grab food bag and put outside tent
- put down jacket on
- put helmet on
- go outside, look at stars, remark on coldness
- put outside boot shells on
- put gaiters on
- get hot water from Natalie and make double coffee
- crack jokes with Anders
- check backpack (for 5th time)—especially to make sure crampons, axe and glasses are good to go
- eat two crumbly frosted raspberry pop-tarts, drink coffee and lots of water
- grab pack-out bag and “hit-the target”
- store pack-out bag under rock for latter retrieval
- throw various odds and ends into tent and zip it up
- refill water and put in pack
- take off down jacket
- don pack, grab trekking polls
- check watch—1:59 am…. good to go!

The first part of the climb is up from our camp area to get to the HB ridge proper. This is over a rock field and of modest slope. We pass a couple of tents of another group of three who were here to climb the north side as well (they would not summit). The initial hike up to the ridge itself was easy and pleasant. Our headlamps provided ample illumination in the moonless night. Since the ridge was quite exposed we were blasted with a 20+ mph wind. The only sound (besides the wind) was the crunch, crunch, and crunch of our boots as we walked in single file.

We gained the ridge and could look up and see the darker outline of the mountain and just above it the great planet Jupiter burning bright high in the sky to the south. I could see my breath, it probably was around 35 degrees, but was very comfortable despite my lack of clothes.

We climbed until about 3 am and stopped for our first break at around 11,000 feet. We ate and drank (I drank 2/3rd of a liter as I had brought three liters for this climb). We put on our crampons, stored our trekking polls and took out our axes. We did not rope up as Natalie said the slope was modest and the snow pretty good over the next section. Soon it was time to layer down and get back to it—we stopped for about 10 minutes in total.

For the next part of the climb we actually ventured out onto the Hotlum glacier and climbed on the good snow that was directly adjacent to the ridge. Even though we were un-roped on a 25-degree slope I did not have any safety concerns. Our crampons were digging securely into the snow and even in the very unlikely event of a fall I felt very confident I could arrest with my axe.

After about a half hour of this we once again climbed through a rock field/ridge and moved to the climber’s left as we were heading to the bottom of a feature know as “The Ramp”. We continued to make very good time and soon found ourselves at the beginning of The Ramp around 12,000 feet. It was around 4:30 or so and still quite dark with just the very faintest suggestion of the dawn to come etched on the eastern horizon. Here we stopped for another, though extended, break as we ate and drank and Natalie prepared our team rope for the next section. Far down the mountain, on the lower ridge, we could periodically see the lights from (presumably) the other party’s headlamps as they climbed towards us.

The Ramp stretches from about 12 to 13 thousand feet and is about a 30-50 yard wide swath of snow that steeply (35-45 degrees) climbs up to an area of the mountain known as “The Step”. This is the area of the mountain that is 300-600 vertical feet below two prominent features on the upper mountain: The Shark Fin and the Bunny Ears. Due to the prevalent ice on the Ramp, crampons and ropes are a necessity here as a non-arrested fall would be catastrophic.

Before we departed from the North Gate, Natalie had stated that her three goals for the climb were: “1. Safety; 2. Having fun; And 3. Helping us meet whatever our goals were.” As for number 3, our first two goals were identical to hers. Then we wanted a round trip to the summit. Lastly, I wanted to do this climb with a higher degree of competence and “elegance” then I displayed on Rainier. I did not want to have to dig as deep as I had to there and I definitely did not want to trip and fall or display any of the sloppiness I had on my descent in June. I was optimistic about my chances of achieving this as I had the Rainier experience under my belt and I was in considerably better shape now than early June.

Up to the bottom of The Ramp everything had gone very well indeed. We were moving much faster than Natalie had forecasted. In fact as we roped up, she commented that she had never been this high in the dark before. (While I was a bit proud of this, I didn’t view it as particularly good news as she seemed a bit uncertain of the route). My HR had stayed low and I was well within my aerobic capabilities all the way up to 12,000 feet. I was feeling a little cocky which is probably a bad thing from a karmic perspective.

Anyways, off we went executing a series of traverses up The Ramp. We were short-roped. Short roping is the desired way for a small rope team to climb when there is no crevasse danger. On Rainier, with all of its crevasses, we climbed with about 30-40 feet of rope between us to give us ample opportunity to respond if someone fell into a crevasse. Here on Shasta, with no crevasses to worry about, the distance between us was only 8-9 feet or so.

The short rope made ascending quite easy and we very efficiently managed the many direction changes as we traversed back and forth and always upward. There was no wind here and we were effectively by ourselves on the mountain. While it was still very dark, a definite glow was visible on the eastern horizon and Venus shown very brightly just above the horizon. Absolutely magical! I was very focused on my climbing and we were hitting on all cylinders as a team. I love this part of mountaineering. This was a truly great life moment for me.

The snow was steep and very icy but the crampons ensured that we had no mistakes. I was in command of my feet and felt on top of my game. I did notice however that I was beginning to work quite a bit harder. My HR was probably well up into the 150s at this point. Our pace, the pitch and the altitude were beginning to expose limitations in my mountaineering fitness. None-the-less, we pushed onwards up The Ramp and without incident reached the mellower Step area just as dawn clearly asserted itself in the east.

We stopped for another maintenance break and Natalie announced that we had surpassed the hardest part of the climb. That was good news to hear for sure—unfortunately it wasn’t true. We had a quick break and then traversed off to our right towards the Shark Fin. This traverse was across a steep, uneven icy snowfield. I was definitely working hard right now. I was clearly working harder than my climbing partners in front of me. This is probably not surprising given the composition of our team. When you have a three-person team and you have more than half of the combined years (100 in our case) you know you are potentially at risk of being the slow child.

We worked around the Shark Fin and then headed up a steep area aiming to get above the Bunny Ears. This section was all loose talus and scree and I found the going to be quite difficult here. My section of the rope frequently went taunt as I was having trouble keeping up with Natalie and Anders in front of me. The footing was very difficult and it was hard to keep balance as the ground beneath me kept slipping and sliding.

While this section only entailed about a 600-foot vertical ascent I found it far more taxing than any of the prior sections. We sat down with the Ears to our left and looked back down the frighteningly steep slopes below us all the way down to the lower ridge where we could clearly see a yellow tent. The sun was above the horizon and it was a beautiful, bright and clear sky. I tried to focus on eating and drinking as I fought to catch my breath in the thin air. I probably should have announced that I needed to slow a bit (there were no objective dangers such as we had faced on Rainier that required us to move fast) but I sensed that Natalie was starting to get a little irritated with my slowing pace and my brain seemed to not be functioning as well as I fought through the fog of fatigue.

I milked the break as long as I could by breaking out my video camera just as Natalie moved to head up. Even this move soon played out and off came the down and on came the packs and we headed up again.

Immediately above us was a very difficult, steep talus and scree slope the seemed to lead to a dead-end at a 10 or so foot high vertical wall of rock. I was huffing and puffing to keep up but kept looking up and wondering where and how we were to get around this obstacle. After a seemingly interminable time we reached the base of this cliff and I realized that Natalie intended us to climb it! I was dumfounded. We were at 13, 700 feet or so. Below us was a steep slope (and fall) of over 3,000 feet. I was over my aerobic threshold and struggling just to keep it together. In the back of my mind was the thought that I had no chance of climbing down this wall when we returned. (What we didn’t know was there were two routes to the top. To the right was a relatively simple class two climb up a talus/scree slope all the way to the summit. For some reason, Natalie had decided instead to take Anders and I up this exposed, class three/four vertical rock climb.) She announced at the bottom that we were now going to do some real climbing. My only thought was: “Great—that makes a lot of sense!”

She proceeded to scramble up the climb in something like 20 seconds. She turned and looked down at Anders and told him to go for it, which he did in seemingly no more time. They were perched above me—10 feet or so. The rope was tight and tugging at my harness. Natalie was effectively creating a tight belay for me. Natalie told me that it was now my turn. Anders said something that I took as a form of encouragement.

My world seemed to just stop. I looked up. I wedged my left foot, with my big bulky mountaineering boots in a bit of a crack/ledge. I reached up with my left hand as high as I could and grabbed hold of a two-inch ledge—this was complicated by the ice axe I was still holding. What I then needed to do was lift my right leg up about three feet to a narrow outcropping, place my foot on it and simultaneously drive my body (and backpack) upwards and reach and grab a handhold that was about four to five feet above me. I felt a surge of strength and just went for it and I was able to do it perfectly. I was absolutely at my physical limit but I saw the next move and quickly went for it again. I felt the tug on my harness as Natalie was doing her best to “pull” me up and just like that I was sitting next to Anders and Natalie. I received some type of congrats from both but I mostly remember just being really buzzed—that was awesome—I was so in the moment.

We had a short steep rock scramble and soon we were on a mere 45-degree rock slope above the wall. We had clearly surmounted the true crux of the climb. We un-roped and pushed upwards towards the summit—some 500 vertical feet above us.

Physiologically I was toast—I had gone way to far into the red zone. Natalie and Anders were moving steadily away from me as I struggled to negotiate the rocky terrain with my HR still maxed. I needed to slow down but for some reason I felt a need to try to keep up with my climbing team. I was unsustainably anaerobic. In hindsight I’m amazed that I made these mistakes without reflecting on my level of effort. Apparently, I was caught up in the idea of moving up and down the mountain quickly (we wanted to get down to San Francisco at a reasonable hour) and my mind was not functioning normally in the thin air.

Natalie and Anders reached the summit plateau and waited a few minutes for me to join them. Natalie pointed out the North and South summits and said we could climb either of them. I asked which was higher and she said that the south was. Seemed obvious to me then—let’s go to the south. I asked her how far it was and she snapped at me that it was right there. It occurred to me that Natalie seemed to be developing an attitude but I let it go, as I was very focused on gaining the summit.

I shot a little video of them climbing towards the summit and then made the final push myself. There were three other folks on the Summit who apparently came up from the south side. As I walked towards the summit they loaded up and headed back down. I took a great picture of Anders on the summit and soon joined him and Natalie took a shot of the two of us. It was 8 am—we were 2-3 hours ahead of Natalie’s predicted summit timeframe. The summit pinnacle was a relatively small, rocky spire with a several thousand-foot fall to the south. Anders stood but I was content to sit next to him on the summit as our pic was snapped. We soon climbed down and then signed the National Park Service’s Summit Register.

We sat on the summit plateau soaking in the sunlight of a truly spectacular day. I tried to eat and drink but this proved difficult. Despite wearing my down jacket I began to shake pretty violently. Natalie noticed and asked what was up. I said that I was pretty wasted but that I would get it under control. She looked at me with a hint of disgust.

The truth is I felt horrible. I had extended way too deep for way too long. My body was trying to shut things down—it wanted desperately to rest and replenish. Unfortunately, this was not the place for that. I began to realize that I was in for a tough slog to the bottom. I wasn’t exactly in trouble, but I’ve been in this place physically a few times (late in Ironman races typically) so I knew things were not going to be pleasant. I was calm about this because I knew that I would need to walk down the mountain no matter what I felt like. I knew that I have succeeded in the past when I felt like this. I resolved to be positive and focused on not making mistakes.

After about 30 minutes on the summit we layered down, hoisted our packs and began the climb down. I was quickly relieved to learn that our path down was the much more reasonable class two climb around to the east of the summit, avoiding the rock wall that we had ascended. I once again quickly fell behind as we walked down a reasonably well-defined trail through the talus and past numerous sulfur vents (Shasta remains an active volcano). I was trying to be careful but still go as fast as I could. My HR seemed fine but I began to notice some definite muscle fatigue—especially in my quads, and most especially in my right quad.

As I fell further and further behind Anders and Natalie, I began to have trouble with route finding and several times Anders hung back and helped me find an easier path. The slope was about 35-45 degrees but all rock so there was minimal risk of a serious fall. The rock was constantly moving and very uneven and it required a great deal of concentration to move efficiently.

After about 45 minutes or so we came to a snow patch at about 13,700 feet. This was fairly steep and had an exposure of several hundred feet that terminated in a nasty rock field. Natalie and Anders were on the other side and Natalie asked me if I wanted her to come back and rope up with me. My brain was not working that well but I looked at the snow and my ego questioned why this was even an issue. I asked Anders what the snow quality was and he said it was good and that I would probably have no problem. I looked at Natalie and asked her what she thought and she said, in forceful terms, that falling was not an option. I thought for a second and said: “well if that’s the case, I have no ego here, let’s rope up”. She came across and attached the rope to me and we easily traversed the snow in just a few seconds. I had no issues with it. It was a little awkward but I reiterated that safety was the most important objective and my ego was a non-factor so it was all-good. Anders laughed and Natalie actually smiled for the first time in a couple of hours.

Soon we were at The Step and we stopped for another maintenance break. I still had trouble eating but was able to drink a fair amount. My body temp was under control so I was feeling a little better. Natalie asked what was going on with me and I told here I had gone too far into the red zone and was having trouble managing my energy levels. She seemed a bit confused and not particularly interested in this. We threw our crampons on, de-layered, and soon were on our way downward again.

The next major section was The Ramp. I was very fatigued but positive inside and focused on not making a mistake. Anders led, followed by me and then Natalie. Several times during the climb down The Ramp she would say something mean or rude and I tried to ignore or deflect it. She was clearly upset with me that I was no longer flying up and down the mountain—maybe she had a hot date or something. We reached the bottom of The Ramp—which really was the last truly objectively dangerous section-- without incident. I may not have been graceful but I never fell either. I felt pretty proud about this because it took a lot of concentration. When Natalie wasn’t looking, Anders turned to me, looked at Natalie and rubbed a fake tear out of his eye. I laughed—yes she was being a very big baby. Extremely unprofessional and not at all customer oriented.

After a short break we continued on downward and it was more of the same. Finally I said to Natalie that I was concerned about her and asked her if she was OK. She snapped back: “I don’t want to fall!”. (Obviously implying I was a liability that might make her fall). I responded that gee, neither did I, that I was doing all that I could to avoid it, that I hadn’t so far, and that I was confident, despite my fatigue, that I would not. I then reminded her of the three goals (safety, fun, and a round-trip, etc.). She grew quiet for a while after this. A short while after this she announced that we would stop up ahead and “have a meeting”. Bring it on!

When we stopped, it was at the top of the HB ridge below The Ramp, and she said we could descend roped together on the snowfield or stay on the rock and go without rope. At one level I wondered why I was even being asked this—I thought she was the guide but I also knew she didn’t want to be roped to me so I suggested the latter and off we went. It was very rocky and uneven and I would frequently fall behind and then catch-up as Anders and Natalie waited for me. I resolved to be nothing but perseverant and upbeat and I tried to have an apology and a joke ready each time we rendezvoused.

At one point, when we were together, we passed a solo climber thinking about going up and he asked me for route advice. I said if he didn’t want to free climb a vertical rock face he should avoid the route we climbed. He asked where that route was and I told him that he should ask Natalie because she was the pro here. Silence ensued as we uncomfortably waited for miss Stalin, oops I mean Natalie to reply. When she didn’t, I asked her directly if she could help our fellow mountaineer with some route advice. She replied, very icily (and I thought in a classically Russian way): “no”.

Well there you have it. I looked at him and said: “I’m real sorry about that. Be careful and good luck.” He raised his eyebrows and said thanks and we then went our separate ways. I hope he was ok.

We continued on for a while. At one point I asked the ice-queen if she was having fun and she didn’t really reply. I told her that I really wanted her to have fun and asked her if there was anything I could do to help her enjoy herself more. She was silent. I finally said: “I know you’re upset that I’m not going faster. I want you to know that I’m going as fast as I possibly can and still be safe. I wish I could go faster as well but my 52 year-old body doesn’t seem to be able to go any faster. This surprises me but I think all in all we are still doing pretty well—we’ll achieve our three objectives. No response. After a second or two I pointed out that we were 3-4 hours ahead of her schedule so maybe it wasn’t that bad. She didn’t say much after that—good or bad.

The last 500 vertical feet above camp she suggested we “ski” down on our feet. I think this is a fine idea although it proved to be something that I was not capable of doing. It was slippery (duh!) and uneven terrain as there were many large sun-cups. Soon Anders and Natalie “skied” over the ridge and I was left to my own designs. I tried to carefully walk the ridges between the cups but I fell down hard several times (not dangerous because it wasn’t steep). I thought several times that it was ridiculous that I didn’t have my crampons on. Finally on one of my falls I slid into several inches of freestanding glacial water at the bottom of a cup and decided to put them on. No problem getting down the rest of the way.

When I finally caught up some 15 minutes latter Nat and Anders were waiting for me on some rocks. Anders latter told me that he was very worried when I took so long and asked Natalie if maybe they should go look for me (he was worried I had fallen and maybe broke something). She told him that I would be fine because we were so close to camp.

In any event, at 1:45, some 5 hours after leaving the Summit we made it back to camp. It took us one hour less to get back to camp then it had taken us to get up. My guess is that it should have taken 1.5-2 hours less but we were still 2-5 hours ahead of the schedule she had first told us about. I tried to be upbeat and self-deprecating. Anders paid me a sweet complement when he that he had never seen someone exhibit such extended perseverance with such a positive attitude. Frankly, that alone made the whole trip worth it.

Our next task was to break down our campsite, load up our packs and beat-it down the lower mountain to the parking lot. Little Miss Sunshine gave us one hour to do this. We did it mostly because Anders stepped up and handled the tent decommissioning mostly by himself. I was in a lot of pain so this was greatly appreciated. I tried to drink as much of the algae water as possible but I could not even think about eating anything. The sun was beating down although the temp was noticeably cooler than Saturday—probably about 60 degrees (We were blessed with absolutely perfect weather for this whole trip). At 2:44; 59 minutes after we arrived, Anders and I hoisted our-70 pound packs and we were on our way.

I’ll spare you the tedium (or at least anymore tedium) and the agony of the 7+-mile walk out. Suffice it to say it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Anders and the Commandant were fine but I was faced with soul-searching pain. At one point, Anders and I talked about how long we could sustain a task like this if we know at the end a loved-one would be killed (in this case Alex). I said that I was sure I could make it to the parking lot but I wasn’t sure how much more I could really do—maybe only a few hours beyond that. Anders said that he wondered what that feeling was like and that he hoped he felt it someday—hey kid, climb a big mountain when you’re a fossil!

Anyways, all is well that ends well. We arrived at the parking lot at 5:45. We took care of business and I gave Natiskie $60 which most folks will question the wisdom of—given how bad a guide she was. My thinking was that we made it; she needed $60 more than I did, and I didn’t want any more drama.

We drove out the interminlble 11-mile drive to the main road and then another 15 miles to the great town of Weed, CA where we hit a gas station and I consumed 2 Mountain Dews, 1 Squirt (all 16 oz) and 4 Advills. Anders then took over driving. During this time we talked to Judy and let her know that we had survived. About 100 miles from SanFran we stopped had some salad and lemonade and took some pizza to go. Anders folded for me as we ate on the way to SF. We arrived at the airport Hyatt at 12:30 am—totally strung out. In the parking garage we got our gear in order and went up to the room to shower and amazingly we were in bed by 1:20am.

Up at 4:15 and Anders and I each caught 6ish flights and we reentered the real world. Whew!

Great trip. We did it. Two big mountains this summer for the rookies. A bit of bummer on having such a horrible guide but the silver lining is that it did give us an extra chance to exhibit grace in the face of adversity—which we did. Many extremely special moments during the climb and hanging with Anders—my true adventure bud.

A lot to reflect on. Clearly I have a real problem with my descending technique. I definitely have to proactively address this. I work a lot harder than other people on the descent. As I finish this discourse some 8 days latter I am still not fully recovered. Even in Ironman, I’ve not had this challenge. But still, all in all, an awesome trip. Much less real danger and drama than Rainier partly because I think we are better mountaineers now. Anders is potentially a great mountaineer—I have a lot of work to do before I climb Everest with him! ☺

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

pre shasta!

well tonight brings a flurry (3) of new blog entries! Two race reports plus this missive.

I'm in San Francisco doing a little business tomorrow and then meeting up with Anders to drive up to Mt. Shasta City for our two day summit attempt on Saturday and Sunday. We are very pumped!

Stay tuned for the update.


Tuckahoe Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Tuckahoe Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #12: 8/16/09


My 85th career triathlon and 12th of the 2009 season was about 28 miles up the GSP from our place in Stone Harbor. The Tuckahoe Sprint was a 0.33-mile swim/12.57 mile bike/2.15 mile run. Race day was very nice with low 70s and very little wind. A nice sunny day to race. 335 souls showed up to race the triathlon and where joined by another 67 in the duathlon and 3 in the aquabike.

In my prior 11 races of the season, I had achieved 6 AG firsts, 4 seconds, and 1 third. My major AG competition was John Krick whom I had beaten at Parvin and he had returned the favor at Sunset. A nice surprise saw Judy coming out to watch my race for the first time this season.

The Swim

The swim is held in the brackish waters in front of the Tuckahoe Inn near the old Route 9 Bridge and nearly underneath the GSP as it spans Great Egg Harbor. Being right near the power plant the water felt quite warm but we were told wetsuits were good to go none-the-less. Works for me! The clockwise triangular course was announced as 0.33 miles but we were soon to see this was not true.

The first wave left three minutes in front of me and as they hit the first right turn buoy it seemed to get knocked free and was either drifting to the right in the tidal current or was being pulled along by the lead group.

It took me a few seconds to process what I was seeing but I quickly recognized this was a good development for me. I had debated where to line-up for the start—the far left being off the buoy line and my first choice but had finally decided to go far right. The reason for this is the left side of the course was constrained by a roped off swimming area and everyone in the race was actually inside a perpendicular buoy line to the first buoy. I recognized by going right I’d have to swim further and have to swim from the inside to the crowds at the first buoy but given how packed it was on the left I decided that the right was the lesser of two evils.

With the buoy moving right just as we started my line quickly became the superior one—almost like a dramatic wind shift at an America’s cup race. I pushed hard while trying to keep my eye on the moving target—I knew the whole mass of the wave would be converging on my line.

Competitively, I figured I really needed to stay within about 1 minute of Krick to have a chance. At Parvin he had beaten me by 0:56 over a quarter mile and at Sunset by over 3 minutes over a non-wetsuit half-mile. John was a collegiate swimmer and I needed to work hard to limit my damages. Coming into the race I felt that I was swimming very well—both in my training sessions and in my race the week before.

As I hit the crowded first buoy I knew I was doing quite well and pushed and shoved my way around the buoy. As I hit the second buoy I looked ahead for the third and saw that it was gone! (What I didn’t know as when they lost the first buoy they had pulled the second buoy left and now there were but two buoys on the course). I shrugged off this confusion and really tried to hammer it home. I knew the course was going to be shorter than a third of a mile and this was very good news for me indeed.

I hit the beach in 6:12 with an average HR of 154 bpm. I was thrilled—I knew I had to be within a minute of Krick and at 154, I knew I had really pushed this swim. Competitively, I would learn latter that I had the 21st fastest swim, which was at the 94 %-tile and was my highest relative OA swim finish ever. Perhaps more importantly, I had the second fastest swim in our AG (out of 12, or 91.7 %-tile) and was just 35 seconds behind Krick. As I ran up the beach Judy yelled to me that I was just 40 seconds behind and I was very pumped. I was right where I needed to be. Great swim! Here is where we stood after the swim:

1. Krick --------
2. Christofferson + 0:35
3. Gibbons + 1:14
4. Sherry + 1:24

Transition One

I knew I would probably lose a little time in the transition to Krick as he went without a wetsuit. I thought I did a reasonably decent job but a look at the results indicates a middling result at best. My T1 split was exactly 2:00 (average HR of 168 bpm) and that was only 4th best in the AG and 47th OA (86.3 %-tile). Still, I only lost 3 seconds to Krick (who historically has not been good in transition) and I was in excellent position leaving T1:

1. Krick --------
2. Christofferson + 0:38
3. Gibbons + 0:54
4. Sherry + 1:23

The Bike

The bike was a simple out and back on mostly flat, although rough in places, asphalt. It was GPS’ed at 12.57 miles and I clocked it at 12.693 miles so close enough. I figured I was probably about 45 seconds behind Krick and so I expected to catch him around 4.5 miles as I’ve averaged about 10 seconds/mile faster than him in the past. I was passing a lot of cyclists, especially younger ones who had started in the wave in front of me. I felt pretty good and despite a bit of a recent cycling lay-off I felt like I was moving it. Soon enough, at 4.8 miles I caught Krick and pumped it up a bit and went by him at 30 mph. Take that! At this point in the race I was very confident. With another 8 miles to go I should be able to build an 80 second lead which would be good enough for the victory.

At the turnaround I was surprised to see Krick pretty close behind me. Oh oh! Maybe he was upping his game. I was worried and tried to dig a little deeper. I pushed pretty hard past drafting cyclists here and there (not even bothering to say anything) and hit the dismount line with a bike split of 31:20. This averages out to 24.3 mph (pretty decent!) and my average power output was 258 watts, which was just a couple of watts less than a month ago (before my lay-off). My HR averaged 164 bpm so a pretty decent effort and my cadence came in at 81 rpm.

I thought that this had to be enough to do the job. However, Krick must have upped his game down the stretch as I was only able to achieve a lead of 48 seconds (I out rode him by a total of 86 seconds). My bike was 9th OA (97.6 %-tile) and 1st in the AG. Here is where we stood as we dismounted from our bikes:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Krick + 0:48
3. Gibbons + 2:29
4. Sherry + 3:49

Transition Two

I was confident as I ran to my transition space but mindful that I needed to hurry. I had a lot of trouble in this transition though. There was a lot of gravel around and it seemed to complicate getting my running shoes on. I took an extra couple of seconds to make sure a back-up pair of glasses would be protected. I felt sluggish but was finally on my way with a T2 of 1:00 (HR: 164). I ran out the backside of the transition area and made a left turn onto the run course. As I did this I ran past Krick’s transition space and was shocked to see him sprinting right to his rack. Way to close! How did he stay this close? I knew I was in trouble as I headed out and as I passed Judy she asked where Krick was and I said: “Right behind me!”

Looking at the data after the fact I had a horrible T2. Further, Krick had an awesome one—in fact posting the 4th best transition OA! This is a big shock because I have handily beaten him in T2 in the two prior races. I gave up a whopping 21 seconds to John in T2 (remember that number) and my lead had been cut to 27 seconds. Overall, I had the 87th best transition (74.3 %-tile, my worst of the year) and a dismal 6th in my AG. I didn’t know if at the time but T2 was an unmitigated disaster! Here is where we stood after T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Krick + 0:27
3. Gibbons + 2:21
4. Sherry + 4:05

The Run

I measured the out-and-back run course at 2.153 miles before the race and I was hoping I could hold Krick off. I knew I still had a chance but I needed to really push it. I dug deep and felt like there was a chance I could pull it off.

Soon I reached the turnaround and I anticipated the moment of truth when I found out how much of a gap I had—I was thinking I needed 25-30 seconds. I was bummed to see it was only 11 seconds. Oh no—I’ve seen this movie before. John had caught me at Sunset with a half-mile to go and sat on my shoulder until he blew me away with a far superior finishing kick.
I desperately tried to stay ahead but with still quite a long ways to go Krick came cruising by. I congratulated him and thought to myself that he was a much better athlete now than two months ago. (Next year I’ll get my revenge—you heard it here first!).

I was a little bummed but managed to keep a respectable pace up and crossed the line in 15:31 (7:13/mile) and an average HR of 171 bpm. Hey, that’s all there was—thus is the cost of my limited training regime! At 171 bpm I really gave it everything I had. In the end I lost by 21 seconds (you might recall that is the amount I gave up in T2) and I finished with an overall time of 56:03. This was good enough for 2nd in the AG and a respectable 12th OA (96.7 %-tile).

Despite finishing 2nd I’m very pleased with this race. I had a fabulous swim and I hung tough to finish well up in the OA field. My regional USAT rating for the race was a satisfying 83.8. I was actually 3 seconds faster than Krick for the SBR portion of the race and lost to him in the transitions. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Off to Mount Shasta and a break from triathlons for a few days.

Talk to you soon!

Trimax Pinchot Triathlon Race Report

Trimax Pinchot Triathlon
Race Report #11: 8/9/9


I decided to take a trip back into central Pennsylvania, as I was bound and determined to finally race once in this northern neighbor of Delaware. I had tried to race at Patriot’s the prior week but was turned back by horrible weather (the swim was cancelled in that event due to lightning). As I drove through Lancaster at about 5:30 am I was once again engulfed in a torrential downpour. My heart sank as it looked like another potential washout. However, I was very eager to race and with a 9am start and another 50 miles to drive I was hopeful conditions would change.

My perseverance was rewarded as the rain finally abated as I arrived at the race site. I decided to drive the course and found it to be very hilly with several sharp climbs and screaming descents. The pavement was soaked so I was pleased that I had brought both my TT and my road bikes. I decided to go with the Cervelo SLC-SL road bike, even though I knew it was quite a bit slower than my BMC—safety first.

When I checked in I saw that this was a small “grass-roots” kind of a race—not even chip timing. The director told me that there was likely to be 135 in the race. I was happy to learn wetsuits were to be legal. I looked over my training wheels on the Cervelo and saw several chunks of glass embedded in the rubber. I contemplated changing over to my BMC race wheels but the procedure looked like it would take too long (adjusting the SRM and brakes) and just didn’t seem worth it. I decided instead to deflate the tires, remove the glass and I inserted a couple of strategically placed dollar bills to protect the tubes from the holes in the tires. I was laughing about my low-key approach to the race but I thought I was good to go.
The Swim

The swim venue was a large, fairly attractive lake in a heavily wooded state park. The swim was a two lap counter-clockwise triangle that was 3/4ths of a mile in length. The water temp was 76 degrees and I noticed that only 4-5 people had wetsuits of any kind. This struck me as very strange as I was happy to have my long-john on to keep my butt high in the water.

We started as one wave and I positioned myself to the far right, away from the buoys. I went out hard at the gun and pushed for about 50 yards before I did a real survey of my competitors to the left. I was shocked to see that there was only one guy in front of me and that I was right next to the 2nd fastest starter! Whoa! I backed off a little bit but then happily settled into the back of the chase pack (2 guys off the front). I found I was very comfortable there and could think of no reason to change my position.

After the first lap we ran around a flag in foot deep water and I took the opportunity to see where I stood. I guessed I was in the top 10 and as I looked behind me I could see that I had a nice gap on my chasers. Sweet!

The second lap was more of the same as I just tracked a group of 5-6 swimmers. I exited the water feeling great with an elapsed time of 20:16 and an average HR of 153 bpm. This was awesome news as it translated into a 27 minute mile pace, which I’ll take any day for sure! The 153 indicated I worked a little harder than normal but perceptually I felt great—I was pumped!

Competitively I was 9th out of the water (not sure how many in the race as the spreadsheet was truncated at 49). From an age group perspective I was 1st, 57 seconds ahead of my main competitor, David Miller, who is an Eagleman veteran.

Transition One

I moved very quickly through transition, as I was interested in leaving before Miller arrived so he would not know how far ahead I was. In so doing I passed two of the folks who had beaten me in the swim and I completed my transition in 1:41 with a 168-bpm average HR. Given the lengthy run from the water’s edge to the transition area I figured I had at least a minute lead on Miller (who was racked next to me). And the fun part was about to begin!

The Bike

Leaving the lake we immediately faced a half-mile climb, followed by a fast (38 mph), steep descent of a quarter mile or so and then a very challenging 11-13% grade climb that took about 5 minutes. Yikes! My HR was pegged and I was very glad I was riding my Cervelo’s compact drive train. A youngster I had passed in transition, briefly passed me on this climb, but I was seeing power readings of 300-350 watts so I wanted nothing to do with his aggressiveness and further I thought he was probably making a mistake. This proved to be true as we crested the climb and he sat up huffing and puffing and I didn’t see him again until the bagel table at the end of the race.

I was generally pretty conservative on the first lap. It was slippery and at 18.2 miles (RD announced and RC measured) and a hot and humid morning I thought patience was probably the right call. I sat up and coasted or soft-pedaled on most of the bigger descents and I knew this would be reflected in my final average power readings. I did pass two riders during the first lap and figured I was anywhere from 4th-7th OA. I finished the first lap right around 28 minutes.

The second lap, despite my growing fatigue on the climbs, was a lot more fun as familiarity allowed me to push the descents more. I lapped several triathletes on their first bike lap (wow—I was more than a half hour ahead of them!), as there were a number of folks walking their bikes up the climb. On the final big descent (a long 5-6 % affair), I briefly hit 42.4 mph, which was about as fast as I wanted to go (having just spent two months riding at the Jersey Shore and it’s never-ending flatness).

I zoomed down the final descent with a couple of triathletes not too far in front of me and hopped off my bike with an elapsed time of 55:24. My power averaged only 231 watts (although I guess if I loaded the ride into training peaks I’d see a Normalized Power Output closer to 260—lots of coasting). My cadence reflected the coasting as well and averaged 73 rpm. My HR averaged 159 bpm so I probably was a little conservative on the ride.

Competitively, I out-rode Miller by 3:26 and was now 4:23 ahead! Surprisingly, I only had the 6th fastest bike (a reflection of my hilly-course riding skills no doubt).

Transition Two

With two younger competitors right there in transition I really pushed it. My T2 was a very fast 37 seconds (HR of 158), which was faster than the other two guys and I exited T2 about 50 and 100 yards behind the two men in front of me. Although I didn’t know it at the time I had moved into 5th OA—here is where we stood after the bike:

1. Fesler --------- (local pro)
2. Gibson + 12:19
3. Yourkavitch + 13:24
4. Kruper + 14:14
5. Christofferson + 14:33


The Run

As I started the run the RD yelled that I was in 5th! I had 3rd and 4th dead in my sights and I thought that maybe I could go top three overall. Why not? I decided to go for it.

The run was a 3.35 “lollipop” through the woods on trails near the lake. It was billed as a flat course but I was soon to find out that this was not true.

As we turned away from the lake, about a half-mile in, I could see that I was staying even with the guy in 4th, (a 19 YO). When we hit the first water stop he walked and I closed to within 10 yards. Maybe I could catch him and then go after number 3!

My close approach (and no doubt thudding footsteps) seemed to spook him and I would get no closer. My HR was above 170 and it began to occur to me that maybe this going after third thing was not a good idea. Then I hit this longish hill and I was certain it was a bad idea. I eventually heard footsteps behind me and struggled to hang in there as four runners passed me and dropped me to 9th.

As I reemerged from the woods, a half-mile from the finish, I panicked a little because I realized I hadn’t seen Miller, which meant he was on the smallish loop at the same time as I. I didn’t know how long the loop was but I was certain he was closing on me as I bet I was more than a half-mile ahead of him as he started his run. I kept glancing over my shoulder but as I neared the picnic area about 400 yards from the finish I relaxed as no one had emerged from the woods behind me.

I crossed the finish line with a run time of 24:56 (7:27/mile) and an average HR of 167 bpm. Not very good by objective standards but a solid effort given my fitness and good enough for me to secure my 6th victory of the 2009 season.

As it turned out, Miller out-ran me by 2:13 but my finishing time of 1:42:52 was good for a victory margin of 2:10. After loading my car with my stuff, the RD was kind enough to give me the 1st place medal and I was on my way back to Stone Harbor (4 hour drive) long before the race was over.

Undefeated in PA! lol