Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PT time

So spent 90 minutes in torture this morning. Good news is I don't have any major tears but I am very inflexible throughout my hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and my loiwer back. I'll probably need 3-4 weeks of 1-2 sessions per week to correct it. I'll aslo do some running on the Alter G treadmill which effectively is a way to reduce one's body weight while running--this should help me keep my running up during the rehab period.

I should be able to work through this and more or less stay on track for IM Germany. It'll cost me some sessions--no way i could run today so the 5k I had wanted to do is out the door, but I should for the most part be OK training wise...

Onward and upward

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NOLA70.3 Race Report

2010 Ironman NOLA 70.3
Race Report #2: 4/18/10


My second race of the 2010 season and 88th of my career was the 2nd annual Ironman New Orleans 70.3 (NOLA) held on April 18th. This was to be my second early season 70.3 in a row—I had never raced long-course before this year prior to May.

With my Kona slot secured at Oceanside, my intent was to “let the big dog hunt” and try to go as fast as I could. While I knew I was not in PB shape, I at least wanted to show I was heading that way and making good progress towards Eagleman and Ironman Germany. Certainly, if the conditions allowed for it, I wanted to break 5 hours and get into the top 10 in my AG (154 entered).

I had an uneventful trip down—even convinced the US Air types to not charge me for my bike case (I told the lady that helped me that she had very pretty eyes—I’ve still got the touch!). Bike set-up was easy as were all the normal pre-game activities.

Of note was the breakfast and dinner I had with the XC folks (I was not racing for the XC slot since I already had one). At dinner were Chris “Macca” McCormack and Terenzo Bozzone and at breakfast was Lindsay Corbin. It was a delight to meet and chat with all three.

The Swim

We headed over to the race site at about 5:15—this was a bit of a process because it was 10 miles or so from the Hilton where we stayed. I checked in, got numbered and attended to my bike and transition area without much fuss. Soon I headed down to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain where the 1.2-mile swim was to be contested. I was in the 11th wave and was scheduled to depart 52 minutes after the male pros.

The morning dawned pleasant enough but with a clear sky foreshadowing increasing heat and humidity as the day unfolded. The transition closed at 6:30 a.m. and the wind was already beginning to briskly blow from the North—straight on shore. The wind was forecasted to increase throughout the day to 15-20 mph and shift more to the E-NE.

By 7:52, when my wave started, the wind had picked up considerably and there was a good, short period chop rolling into the shore. The swim course had just four turns—3 lefts and a final right. This set-up well for me (being a lefty) and I lined up at the front of the wave and way to the right—intent on swimming a longer but less crowded path.

At the gun I sprinted into the water, which was quite shallow for quite a ways—I probably jumped through thigh-high or less water for a good 50-75 yards before I did a few dolphin dives and then finally began to settle in for the swim proper.

The swim out to the first turn buoy was hampered by fairly large, rapid sequence wind driven waves. This was a bit of a challenge as I felt unbalanced and kept getting mouthfuls of water (definitely not what you want from this lake). While this portion was a bit of a struggle, I could see that for the most part I was swimming away from the bulk of my wave and it occurred to me pretty early on that I might have a very good swim from a competitive standpoint.

The swim smoothed out after the first turn—the waves were still there but they were hitting me from the side and my whole body was moving up and down in unison—plus I had the advantage of breathing away from the swell. It was a challenge to hold a straight line as the waves kept throwing me around and sighting was also a challenge, as it had to be timed with the crest of a passing wave. I could now more clearly see that I was definitely towards the pointy end of my wave and I felt like I was swimming strong. I perceived that I was pushing it harder than is my custom in a LC swim.

I completed the next two left-handers at the far west end of the course and was swimming through a menagerie of different colored hats as I caught folks from several prior waves. The swim for home was more challenging with the waves into my face and a very difficult sighting environment. The shoreline was curved—as was the buoy line, there were several jetties jutting out, and on two separate occasions I had overly enthusiastic kayakers intercede in my path trying to be helpful—quite frustrating to have to come to a full stop and navigate around them. Also as we swam east the sun was glaring off the water.

In due course, I reached the end of the swim and exited the water in 35:24. My immediate reaction was not surprise but disappointment—I really felt like I hammered this swim and did well competively. As I headed up the beach I convinced myself that I was in the top 10 and in fact, I was 11th in my AG (which put me in the 90th %-tile of those who finished) and 281st out of 1655 overall (83rd %-tile).

My HR averaged 157 bpm for the swim, which is about 5 bpm higher than I would typically register in a LC swim and consistent with my perceived exertion. I really pushed it this race and while my time was disappointing I do believe in the right conditions today’s effort would have yielded a PB. In any event, I left the swim feeling really good about the race so far.

Transition One

As I ran up the beach and over the dike into transition I was struck by how high my HR was—I could clearly feel the higher level of exertion in this swim. I had to walk for a few moments to settle my HR down. I soon had it under control and executed a relatively smooth transition in 2:50 with an average HR of a rocking 172! My transition turned out to be the 18th fastest in my AG and I headed out to the bike with a reasonable chance of moving up into the top 10.

The Bike

The bike course is a Y shaped out and back that generally heads mostly east (into the wind today) on the way out and west heading back home. The pavement, especially in the first and last 15 miles is generally concrete and in quite poor condition. There are lots of joints between the concrete slabs that have deteriorated (in part form the flooding with Katrina) and the road is rough, jarring and not particularly fast. This combined with prevailing winds, turns a flat course that would seem to be very fast into one that can actually be quite slow. For example, last year only 2 people in my AG were able to break 2:30.

As I headed out through the opening miles into the strongish headwind I quickly became aware that I wasn’t “quite right” as I felt uncomfortable in my aero position—I was aware of a dull ache in my left glute, hamstring and hip. Also, my power was distressingly low—frankly, I was having trouble getting my power up above 200 watts (I expected to average 225+ watts). The first section dragged on and I was disheartened to pass the one-hour mark with only 18 miles under my belt and an average power of under 200 watts. What was wrong with me?

All sorts of folks including people in my AG were passing me and it became increasingly hard for me to stay on the rivet. The dull ache in the upper leg on my left side was now a full bore, screaming for attention, pain. It eventually became too difficult for me to stay in the aero position and I had to open up my hip angle and so I essentially rode the last half of the bike on the hoods—obviously throwing away a couple of mph.

I tried to stay in it reminding myself of why I was here—to find out where I was fitness wise and was pleased to lift my power output over the back half of the race. I actually felt more powerful as the race progressed and my power numbers reflected that. Unfortunately, my left leg was in agony and the lack of aero ness was really costing me time wise.

I hit T2 with an elapsed time on the bike of a dismal 2:37:11, which is a very slow average of 21.4 mph. My HR averaged 151 bpm (which is probably 5-6 bpm low) and my average cadence was only 76 rpm, which is horrible for a flat course—I was in too much pain to spin efficiently. All of this led to one of my worse bike rides of all time. I was 22nd in my AG (80th %-tile) and 346th overall (79th %-tile). I believe this is the first race where my swim was actually stronger competitively than my bike.

I draw a number of conclusions from the above:

1. My bike fitness is nowhere near where it needs to be. As I think about it this is not really a surprise—I didn’t do a spring training session this year and I put the bike as my 3rd priority over the past 5 months—this will have to change over the next 3 months for sure.
2. I clearly have some type of a hip/glute issue that needs to be addressed and I have a PT appointment to evaluate how best to do so.
3. I probably need to recheck my bike fit and make sure that it hasn’t migrated enough to contribute to my hip issues.

The bottom line is that I was probably, even with the wind, 10-15 minutes slower than I need to be on the bike today. That will have to change!

Transition Two

I jumped off my bike and was immediately overwhelmed by the rigor mortis in my left hip and hamstring. I was initially worried about my ability to even run but I was hopeful it would loosen up as I assumed an upright running orientation.

I stiffly plowed through transition and exited T2 in 2:24 with an average HR of 145. I had the 24th fastest T2 so it was an OK effort. My thoughts were now dominated by how best to manage the pain and stiffness in my leg.

The Run

In addition to my leg issues, as I left transition, I became immediately aware of how HOT and HUMID it was. The sun was out and I knew shade would be scarce. I decided right there that I was already doomed to a crappy race so I made the call to keep my HR low—below 150 and just take it easy on the run. I was hopeful that jogging a bit would loosen my leg up some and that I could run the whole thing without doing significant damage to my leg.

I hit the first mile in 8:58 with a 149 HR. I saw a porta-john and decided to make a short pit stop—this was a good sign as I had really forced myself to drink a lot on the bike to avoid dehydration in this heat. After I left the porta-john I walked through the aid station making sure to drink a lot and to put ice-cubes in my hat and down my shorts—this was an approach that I repeated at every other aid station on the run course.

The following miles were slow, manageable--as my leg did loosen a little, and generally pretty fun. I has hot, sore and tired but I was running so slowly I was able to keep things under control. Here is the data from the rest of the run:

Mile 2: 9:29/148 bpm
3: 9:23/148
4: 10:01/147
5: 9:33/147
6: 9:43/146
7: 10:11/143
8: 10:02/146
9: 10:04/147
10: 10:32/146
11: 10:51/142
12: 10:26/144
13: 10:05/149

Overall I took 2:10:18, which is an average pace of 9:57, and my HR averaged 146 bpm. I was 42nd in my AG (61st %-tile) and 790th OA (52nd %-tile). For the race as a whole I finished in 5:28:06 which was 26th in my AG (76th %-tile) 421st OA (75th %-tile). Obviously not what I was looking for pre-race but understandable as the day unfolded.

I have a lot of work to do for sure. The first order of business is to get my leg and elbow right and then get some real long sessions on the bike and run in so I am prepared for Eagleman and Germany. That’s the plan!

Monday, April 26, 2010

radio silence

sorry for it! quite busy here but I am working on the NOLA race report--to be published soon. PT evaluation on glutes/hamies/hip on Wed morning--I'm guessing 3 or so weeks rehab...that said i hope to stay in the gsame for IM Germany....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

walking wounded

So went to Ortho (yet again) today. I have a ruptured bursa sac (whatever that is) on my right elbow. He extracted about 2-3 oz of "motor oil"--which is his term for old blood--it did look very black. No infection but I'm on heavy duty antibiotics. the good news is that I'm good to go for swimming which I will reengage on tomorrow.

The bad news is that my left hip--the one that gave me so much trouble at NOLA continues to deteriorate. I have an prescription to see a physical therapist on Wednesday but i suspect that I'm going to be horizontal (fitness wise) at best for the next few weeks....Germany definitely at risk....I have to say it's quite painful, even just sitting....I ran a little more than 5 miles today and my left leg feels like it's dead....

I have a better feel for why I had nothing on the bike/run is past weekend....looking like rehab time...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


So in addition to the aforementioned hip issues it seems like another residual issue from my bike crash turns out to be (probably) some bone chips on my right elbow...I'm not really sure but we'll find out soon. I find myself in NYC tonight--trying to do my deal--with an XL egg sticking off of my right elbow. I felt a loose object there the last few days and today it just blew up. I must say that it did not affect my performance at NOLA and it's not too painful tonight but I'm coming to the conclusion that my crash did more damage then I originally thought......oh well...more later

Monday, April 19, 2010

morning after NOLA

Got throught the race yesterday and am feeling pretty decent this morning. Mildly disappointing results but not overly so. I had a very strong swim in very difficult swim conditions. I tried to go for it on the bike and just could not get it done. The wind in our face for the first 16-17 miles and the horrible road conditions didn't help but of more concern was my lack of "punch". I'm just not in top-notch LC bike shape. Also, I either have a fit issue on my bike or I was suffering the lingering effects from my accident but my satorius and ITB were so sore and stiff that for the last 30 miles or so i could not ride in the aero position. I can't remember the last time my swim was stronger than my bike. As for the run, leaving T2 my hip was so sore and tight and it was WAY to hot humid that I just went straight into jog mode and kept my HR in the mid 140s the whole way. Led to a pleasant but very slow run.

I'm going to look over the data in some detail this week (race report to follow) and make some adjustments but it's safe to say I need to dial up the intensity on my bike and maybe transfer some time from my swim to my run....

Had fun last night in the french quarter.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

top 10 reasons to do NOLA

Good day today. SBR'd and checked my bike in at transition. The swim seemed fine--very muddy and a little choppy but i think it will be fine. There is wind and there is heat but then we knew that.

I had breakfast with Lindsay Corbin and one of things she said was that she always wrote out the top 10 reasons why she was doing the race so that when times got tough she would remember those reasons and push through. So here's my shot:

1. I love to be fit and to train. The races i do motivate me to do the training even more diligently than I would otherwise. Races like NOLA demand a real commitment to training. The fruits of my training will be revealed in this race.

2. I like SC races but to me LC races will always be what triathlon is all about.

3. I like challenges--especially difficult ones.

4. I'm building towards Eagleman and IM Germany where i hope to set PBs at those distances--this is a good step in that direction.

5. Kona is windy, hot and humid. I'm going there. NOLA is the same and so it's a good dress rehearshal for me.

6. I held back tactically at Oceanside--I get to go for it here. When it hurts in the race it's because I'm going for it.

7. I've never done it before.

8. In X years I won't be able to anymore.

9. Running down Decatur street in the French Quarter

10. Race number 88 on my way to 100!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Hanging in my hotel room. Put the Time Machine together--it actually was pretty easy--I must be getting better at it...almost seems like a normal bike now!

I'm staying in the Riverfront Hilton which is race HQ. Lots of triathletes all about as you might expect. I walked around a bit outside--it's mostly sunny and sultry. It's not BAD and if it was August at the shore I'd say it was normal but it definitely is a lot more humid than I'm used to and I would like. It's also very windy--15 to 20 mph....the wind direction should be in our face mostly in the first half and trailing on the way back which is the way i prefer....water will be choppy (and dirty--all mixed up).

I'm looking forward to a small group dinner with Macca and Bezzone ("T") tonight--should be entertaining.....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010--round 2

Well, all packed up and getting fat on my taper....I fly to NOLA tomorrow morning. with any luck by dinner time I'll be all unpacked with my bike reassembled and ready to hunker down and take it easy until Sunday's race.

With the Kona slot out of the way I get to try a very different race in New Orleans than the one in Oceanside 3 weeks ago. I'm going to push it hard on both the swim and the bike and then try to take what the run gives me. Looking over last year's results in the 50-54 AG is interesting. A couple of observations:

Of the 174 people only 1 broke 5 hours and that was Dana Lyons (who is a top 20 guy in my AG)

No one broke 30 minutes in the swim

The top bike time was 2:28:19

The course is flat and potentially fast but the heat, humidity and wind were big factors in 2009. The forecast for Sunday calls for a high around 80 degrees and humidity of 60%. winds are forecasted to gust to 24 mph....

It might be hard to post a super fast time given my susceptibility to the heat but I'd like to race hard and aggressive none-the-less. It would be nice to place in the top 10 of my AG....

We'll see. I have no pressure and just want to let the big dog out to hunt and see what happens....

more latter

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekly update


23:30 training time
10,000 yards swim
253 miles bike
24 miles run

At the end of the week I'm happy with this. Given where it was on Monday/Tuesday with my crash on the bike. Obviously the run total was way off of objective--50% of plan. However, today i had, hands down my best run of the year--11 miles and most of it below 8 minutes/mile--I felt great--could have gone faster. I'm fully recovered from the cash for sure.

Second week in a row of 250+ on the bike....

I should be good to go for New Orleans....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crash! Ouch! Part 4

OK--closing in on 72 hours post crash--here's the story:

My shoulder is just about 100%--I can still feel a little stiffness which I'm sure is related to some residual swelling. I still have a red scab/blotch on the outside of my right shoulder about the size of a silver dollar. Whether or not this becomes yet another permanent scar on my shoulder (I already have 4) remains to be seen. Judy remains convinced my bump is bigger but I don't think so.

From a performance standpoint, I jumped back in the pool yesterday and swam an easy 2000 yds to check it out. Today I went after it: 500 wu; 20 X 100 @ 1:28-1:29 going on 1:40/ 500 wd. While I normally eschew 100s when I'm in IM mode the very short rest combined with swimming 4-5 secs/100 under my LC race pace makes for a tough endurance wo/--particularly during the last 5 repeats. Given the above my guess is that I'm more than capable of swimming mid 32s at New Orleans. Before Germany I'd like to build this w/o up to 40 repeats.

My satorius was still sore this morning. I've been icing it, wearing a compression wrap and taking advil for the last 48+ hours. I did think it was a bit better today than yesterday (swelling going down?). Running still seemed unwise (although I thought about it) but I did get back outside on the bike for a "Do you still love me?" ride. BTW, this ride was on my Cervelo which survived the crash with no more than a destroyed seat and a broken Connex connector--the chain itself was still good to go!...unbelievable. anyways, I rode pretty easy for a 38+ miles and the leg felt fine. My guess is that I'm good to go full bore on the bike again and I might be able to start running either tomorrow or Saturday....

A unanticipated side benefit of the crash is I'm very hungry to hammer in training again--of course, I'm about to taper for NOLA but it's still good to be eager to hammer!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Website up for 2010

In addition to the Oceanside race report below my 2010 website is up and running. You can find the race report for Oceanside there as well. I've also posted a slideshow and pics from the race.

Oceanside race report

2010 Ironman California 70.3
Race Report #1: 3/27/10


This half-Ironman was to be my first race of the 2010 triathlon season and marked my return to Long Course Triathlon racing. With my “off-season” of 2009, I had not raced a LC race since August of 2008 when I finished Ironman Canada. This 19-month hiatus was the longest such span since I did my first LC race back in 2002.

I have chosen to dedicate the 2010 season to a return to LC racing. My principle goals were to: 1. qualify for and race the Ironman World Championship in Kona; 2. finish two IM races and set a new PB time (11:19:22); and 3. finish at least three half-IMs and set a new PB time (4:43:14). As I set these goals in late October of 2009, I was about 30 pounds over my LC racing weight (163 pounds) and many months removed from the serious training regime I’d need to have a shot at achieving these goals.

To get back to LC fitness I designed a 12-month training program that was broken into three “Meso” training cycles:

Meso Cycle One: 11/1/09-3/27/10

The focus of this cycle was to “Reach a level of LC fitness that will allow me to be competitive at IM California 70.3.” My “A” race for this cycle was naturally IM Cali70.3 where I wanted to deliver a “low 5 hour performance” and qualify for Hawaii. During this period I wanted to really focus on my run during training with secondary emphasis on the swim. The bike, my natural strength was to take a back seat.

Meso Cycle Two: 3/28/10-7/4/10

My objective during this cycle is to peak and reach true IM fitness. My “A” race for this cycle is the IM European Championship in Germany. Here my goal is to go sub 11 hours for the first time. My training during this cycle is a classic IM build with heavy emphasis on both the run and the bike with the swim moving into more of a maintenance cycle.

Meso Cycle Three: 7/5/10-11/7/10

Here the objective is to maintain my LC fitness and achieve a second peak at either IM Hawaii or IM Florida. If I were to qualify for Hawaii then my plan is to just savor the experience and cruise to as comfortable a finish as I can muster. If my last “A” race of 2010 was to be IM Florida then a new PB would be on the agenda. The training emphasis during this cycle would be very similar to Cycle Two—after I had recovered from IM Germany.

The Training

The principle design objective of my focus on only short-course racing in 2009 was to give my body and more importantly my mind a break from the rigors of LC training and racing. Frankly, after IM Canada in August 2008 I was burned out from racing 6 IMs in 45 months and 2 IMs in 7 weeks. I had a fun time just racing shorties in 2009 and in the fall of 2009 I felt I was ready to jump back into the LC scene.

I was soon pleased to find that I was very ready and willing to jump back in with both feet. I was able to quickly ramp up my training volume and as I watched my diet the weight melted off and by the end of December I found myself back under 170 pounds and beginning to turn in 20+ hour training weeks.

My training intensity was at a par, and some cases higher than my breakthrough year of 2007 when I worked with Peter Reid and set all of my PBs. However, unlike that year, I vowed to take a more balanced and less “monk-like” orientation to my training and lifestyle in general. While I was very committed to the training, I was also getting out and enjoying friends and family and attending my fair-share of various “festive” gatherings. This new approach seemed to be working as at the time of this RR I am still very eager and hungry to pursue my objectives for 2010—after five months of hard training that is a very good sign indeed.

As to the specifics, I was putting in about 40,000 yards a month in the pool. This is about 20-25% lower than 2007 but with the techniques improvements that I have made since then I felt like I was swimming just as strong if not stronger than the 2007 benchmark. I felt very prepared coming into Oceanside.

With the relative de-emphasis on the bike I knew I was still quite a ways from real LC bike fitness. I was putting in 700-800 miles/month (versus 1000 that is ideal) and with the challenging weather this winter, most of it was indoors and sometimes lacking in quality. I decided the mental cost of really pushing indoors was going to be too high. In the last few weeks before Oceanside I was able to get outside a number of times and do the 50-80 mile rides that I had been lacking so I knew that I would be all right for this race—if not as fast as past standards.

I really tried to hit the run hard during this period. My knee acted up for a while but with another round of injections I was able to do pretty well averaging in the 120-150 mile/month range. Not quite at 2007 levels but pretty close. I also did much more early season speed work than I ever have. I was able to set a new PB at the Icicle 10 miler and came very close at the B&A half-marathon. My two 5k races were disappointing but I felt like I had the run tools to do a credible job in this race.

The Competitive Landscape

The 50-54 year-old AG at Oceanside is an incredibly difficult place to try to qualify from. First off, in 2010, there were 207 people entered all competing for one (that’s right, one!) Kona slot. Further, if you are a stud California triathlon type (the kind of guy who lives in San Diego or LA) then this is your hometown race and the one you gun for to get to Kona. So these Cali guys train all winter (because they can—it’s nice out) and they show up ready to kill. I’m not the type of guy to say no chance but realistically I have no chance against this elite group—frankly, it’s probably the hardest place to qualify for Hawaii as an age-grouper.

So I needed a plan B (just in case!). Fortunately, I had one: Ironman XC or the Executive Challenge. As it turned out there were just six executives entered (versus a capacity of twelve). I turned out to be the second oldest of the bunch and probably the fourth fastest (at least on paper). Two slots were available to the XC group. The next youngest guy after me was a fellow named Paul Gompers (age 46) who among other things is the current junior (under 20) American record holder for the marathon (2:15), a former US Olympic Team member, and a 28-minute 10k/13 minute 5k guy and in his first year as a triathlete a 4:10 half-IM guy at Clearwater.

Despite this, a golden opportunity was presented to me in this XC competition. The split was made at 50 years old so I just had to race one other gentleman for our slot. My competitor here was an outstanding triathlete, Preston Miller, who is the founder of the Tri-Scottsdale Club. Preston has completed over 150 triathlons and on an age adjusted basis is a much better triathlete than I am. However, his race age is 65 and given that, I in this race, had a very good opportunity to secure a Kona slot. That said, I still had to beat him and that is what I set out to do.


This was a different “A” race, pre-race situation. First I traveled with Alex down to Kissimmee, FL (one of the most depressing places in the world) for his high school LAX team’s pre-season training. I was a “helping-out” dad. This was great fun and useful from a tapering perspective. The total lack of any place to swim for five days was decidedly not what I wanted, but oh well!

Wednesday morning of race week I flew to LA and stayed at Anders’ fine LA pad. Very nice visiting him and then on Thursday morning (after a dawn patrol in the Pacific) I headed the 85 miles south to Oceanside, CA. Here I collected my bike from Tri-Bike Transport and did all the usual pre-game stuff to get my bike ready to rock.

On Thursday night I met up with all of the XC competitors and finally met my Hawaii challenger. Preston turned out to be a truly great guy. He’s been doing triathlons forever and among other things founded the Scottsdale Triathlon Club—where many famous triathletes reside. Preston had a calm gentlemanly demeanor and I sensed that he was going to be happy with whatever happened. He was just pleased to be here, and to be a very fit and competitive triathlete.

I reflected, on Thursday night, that I probably needed to mature a bit and become more like him. Not so overtly competitive. Preston reminds me of Rob Holmes, a great NJ triathlete whom I much admire and respect. They are both very capable (indeed dominant in their AGs) and with an impressive resumes. They also possessed the perspective of having been just about everywhere in the Tri world and done just about everything. This I think should be a personal growth objective for me over the next few years…. But not now. Right now I need to crush Preston’s Kona dreams and secure the Kona slot for my own! (you can’t expect me to change over night!)

On Friday, Anders joined me at my hotel and I went through my final pre-race preparations. All was ready and while I was nervous, I was quite confident that I had enough of a fitness delta to get the job done.

I went to bed at 10 and was up at 12, 12:30, 1…I was really nervous and thinking through all sorts of scenarios. One of the most troubling was “Dead Man’s Curve”. This is a section on the bike course at around 40 miles where there is a very sharp descent followed by a sharp left turn. They enforce a 25 mph speed limit. Despite this, when the Oceanside race was a full IM about 8 years ago, someone crashed and died on this descent. (And it was called “Deadman’s Curve” before this!). Why do we have to race on something with a “Deadman’s Curve”? I like triathlon but I really like my life now. I’m in a tremendous place now with my family, professionally and from a health perspective. I don’t want to throw it all away on a silly Deadman’s Curve!

Later I have this clear epiphany that this race represents an unbelievable opportunity for me to get to Kona. I realize that I should not take it for granted or dismiss it lightly. I probably will NEVER have another chance like this one. I sit up in bed and think I HAVE to make this happen. There is no place for failure. No matter what, I must get the slot today!

And so it went. All night long. Thankfully the alarms (all 4 of them) went off at 4 am and finally, it was time to get ready for the big show!

Race Morning

Ate my usual PB&J and drank my coffee as well as performed all of my normal pre-game activities. Ushered Anders from the horrendous sleeper-sofa he slept on to the relative comfort of my bed. Left the hotel at 5 a.m. and rode over to the race start which was about a mile away. It was still nighttime dark and surprisingly breezy. The forecast called for light and variable winds at the start but it was blowing at 15+ mph out of the east. It also was surprisingly cold—probably 42/43 degrees but it felt a lot cooler with the wind.

I set-up my transition area fairly quickly. With lucky number 77 (thank-you XC!) I was racked at the end of a rack right next to the pros. I chatted a bit with Sam McGlone, whom Anders and I had trained with quite a bit a couple of springs back. I was very cold and when I ran into Anders I asked him to go back to the hotel and retrieve my long-sleeve bike jersey, which he nicely did.

We were ushered out of transition as the male pros started at 6:40. I joined the masses in a long starting corral. I tried to think happy thoughts and waited for the start of the 11th wave that us 50-54 YO dinos were starting in. I waved to Anders as my wave was called and walked down the boat ramp ready to do battle.

The Swim

This was the first time I was actually able to get on the swim course as it was prohibited to swim in the Oceanside harbor prior to race morning. I had 3 minutes to swim the 100 yards or so to the start line and I used the swim to throw a couple of hard pulls in to get my HR up. The water was somewhere between 59-61 degrees but it frankly felt perfectly fine. I had a surplus of nervous energy and was revved and ready to go.

They made an announcement that we were 45 seconds from the start so I started my watch (to avoid having to start it when the gun went off). When the gun went off I quickly glanced at the watch and saw 37 seconds. My race was on!

I started on the far right, away from the buoy line and right next to the boats moored along the harbor’s edge. Having swum with Preston the day before I was confident I could put 5+ minutes on him in the swim so I wanted to be conservative. It made sense to me to avoid contact (and the small chance of something happening that could cost me my race) and so I went way right.

I had clean water and felt outstanding right from the start. I concentrated on finding a nice smooth, long stroke. I could sense I was moving at a nice clip by the feel of the water moving past my head. The first turn was a full 300 yards away and the sightlines were easy as the sun had begun to peak above the coastal mountains behind us.

I hit the first turn, giving ample berth to the buoy and continued merrily on my way. I was swimming strong, at a conservative effort (maybe 95% of normal H-IM race effort), and several feet away from anyone else. I was swimming a longer track and forgoing a helping draft but I was convinced that this conservative approach was the right call for me in this race.

Finally I hit the first of two left turns out at the breakwater end of the harbor. I did not look at my watch but it sure seemed like the course was long (in retrospect, I think it was probably well measured and my subjective experience was mostly a function of my long sabbatical from LC racing).

As we headed back from the second sharp left turn we were coming straight into a very low sun that was blasting off the water. I completely lost sight of the course ahead of me—the sun was blinding! However, my navigation task was still relatively easy as I just concentrated on staying in between the edge of other swimmers to my left and the rocky breakwater to my right. Having eyeballed the course the day before, I felt like the right side of the course on this in-bound track was actually the shorter and faster path than that of the buoy line. I think I did a reasonably good job of swimming straight but who really knows given the lack of visibility. Increasingly I was weaving between slower swimmers from prior waves and becoming convinced that I was having an excellent swim. I still was swimming conservatively.

I made the only right turn at the edge of the pier/dock and drove the last 300 yards towards swim exit. Finally I was on the boat ramp and up and out of the water. I stopped my watch as I exited the water and recorded a 33:07 (after adjusting for the 37 seconds that it ran before the start). I was thrilled with this time. I had swum very easy and yet had recorded my 4th best (out of 13 races) H-IM time. For comparison here are my top 5 H-IM swim times:

1. Eagleman 2007 32:45
2. IM70.3 Worlds 2006 32:59
3. Devilman 2006 33:01
4. Oceanside 2010 33:07
5. Gulf Coast 2008 33:44

Upon reflection, I’m pretty confident I could have gone at least a minute faster and I’m guessing I’ll have a good chance to set a personal swim best latter this year when I race more aggressively.

I averaged 1:34/100 (I have been targeting 1:32/100 in my recent swim training) and had an average HR of 152—perfect!

Since Preston was in the wave behind me I had no idea of how this swim faired in my Kona competition—and I wouldn’t learn until almost three hours latter. However I finished 25th out of 161 (86 %-tile) in my AG. Overall, I was 507th out of 2171 (77 %-tile)—I’m very pleased with this result and where my swim is so far this year!

Transition One

I ran up the ramp and immediately began fiddling with my tri top (Desoto T-1). I got it off about a third of the way into the very long (at least 200 yards) chute that delivers you to the back of the transition area. Then I reversed direction and ran all the way back to the front of T-1 where my bike was racked.

I made a decision to not put my long-sleeve on and just race in my tri-suit—I was feeling quite warmed up. My transition was uneventful and since I didn’t see Preston I at least knew that Preston had not significantly out-swam me. My total T1 was 4:19 and during this time my HR averaged 165 bpm.

The Bike

The bike at Oceanside is the course’s showcase segment. It has something for everyone: flats, twists and turns, bumpy pavement, rollers, big climbs, and bomber descents. Since it is mostly set inside the confines of the Pendleton military base, it is also a course that you can’t do any pre-race recon on. I’d read enough to know it was challenging. I set my bike up to reflect these challenges and be as conservative as I could. I swapped my 55/42 rings for a 54/39 and replaced the 11/23 with a 12/26 on the back. This reduced my smallest gear by 18%. I also chose to ride clinchers (to avoid non-recoverable issues with tubulars)—these were also a 404/808 set-up as opposed to my usual 1080/disc in case of strong winds. For further measure, I carried a spare tire, 3 tubes, 3 CO2s, 3 irons and two separate bike tools—I wanted to be ready for anything that could possibly threaten a DNF. My motto for this ride was “NO DRAMA!”

So provisioned I set off on my 56-mile ride. Upon climbing a steep but short hill leaving the harbor we almost immediately entered the base at the Del Mar gate. The next few miles entailed weaving through some of the back-roads and parking lots of the base—dodging potholes and speed bumps. There were lots of other cyclists around so a great deal of concentration was required. We passed under I-5 and begin to parallel the coast (the views were fantastic) along a series of roads for almost 15 miles or so. This was pretty flat for the most part. There was a slight breeze from the NE so we had a bit of a headwind but it seemed nothing like how it was blowing before dawn.

I felt good and just focused on keeping my HR at or slightly below 150 bpm (normally I’d target 155-156). I was at 22.2 miles (2:31 pace) despite all the busy-ness of the first 5 miles and the slight headwind. This was all the confirmation I needed and I vowed again to stick to my conservative race plan. I was generally passing other riders although occasionally one would pass me. I don’t recall seeing many guys in my AG but this is because I wasn’t focused on my AG competition in this race—I only had eyes for Preston. Speaking of which, at one point in the first hour—about 10 miles in there was a small out and back—about 1.7 miles—which I did in about 9 minutes and I did not see Preston. With my 4-minute wave-head-start this meant that I was at least 5 minutes ahead at this point. I felt good about this and very confident in my race strategy.

I turned east off of the Trestles bike path at around 24 miles or so and as we climbed the first real tester of a hill I also became aware of an increasing wind. The next few miles were through beautiful, verdant rolling hills and it became noticeably warmer and windier. I was thankful for not wearing a long-sleeve. I was also into my second bottle of Gatorade. I had also consumed two packs of Cliff Blocks and downed 12 Enduralytes at this point in the bike.

At 30 miles the first major hill climbed up and out of sight into the coastal mountains. I geared all the way down and tried to hold a steady 230-270 watts. This resulted in 5-7 mph/50-60 rpm in my smallest gear—frankly I would have geared down more if I could have. It was a long climb but I felt very comfortable. I knew I could go faster so I just bided my time and looked around at the sights (marching marines, tanks, helicopters, etc.).

At the top of the hill I jumped up and attacked the downhill—that is until I reached 44.5 mph at which point I sat up to play it safe. The next 7-8 miles were very difficult biking. The sun was baking now and the wind was quite strong—certainly over 20 mph. This section was rolling but featured a net elevation gain of 600 feet or so. I spent a lot of time in the 10-15 mph zone—still passing people however. At one point I heard a loud “bang” and looked down expecting to see a flat but all I had heard was the retort of an artillery round and I would soon hear many more.

As I finally climbed another very tough hill I knew that my potential nemesis was fast approaching. As I peaked the hill I looked at a long smooth descent twisting down through the mountains. I was now in the speed limit zone on Basilone Road and I carefully adhered to the 25-mph limit. This was not a universal approach however and quite a few folks flew on by. Finally, there it was: Deadman’s Curve. As I negotiated the sweeping left turn it immediately occurred to me that it was way over-rated. I’ve descended through a lot more technically demanding curves than this one in my career. I gave a silent thanks to the big guy in the sky and smiled. The biggest obstacles of the bike course were now behind me.

The next 5-6 miles on Basoline featured quite a bit more climbing and a rolling ride along an exposed ridge where we were buffeted my strong, gusty crosswinds. It was quite challenging to control the bike (I could feel the tail of my aero-helmet getting pushed around!)—Thank goodness for the 404/808 wheel set.

Finally at about 46 miles or so we turned west onto Vandegrift and the crosswinds became a tailwind. The next seven miles or so were an absolute blast as the road was smooth, modestly downhill and with a strong tailwind. Here I was routinely pushing 30-35 mph and getting increasingly excited about avoiding any bike drama.

I crossed under I-5 again and retraced the first 3 or so miles of the course and soon found my self cruising back into the harbor area along side the start of the run course. I rode up the long, narrow bike chute to the back of T-2, dismounted and began the long awkward jog through T-2. My total bike time was 2:43:44. My SRM measured a bike course of 56.72 miles and an average speed of 20.8 mph. My average watts were 174 with an average cadence of 74 rpm. My HR averaged 148 bpm.

All of the above performance data are more like a training ride than a race for me. I’m routinely in the 220-230 watts zone and mid 2:20s time-wise for a half-IM bike ride. My HR typically averages a good 5-7 bpm higher. This difference is attributable to several things (in order of importance): 1. The tactical race that I pursued today—no drama; 2. my current level of bike fitness, which is about 4-8 weeks away from peak; and 3. my bike set-up, which was not optimized for speed. Naturally, the course itself contributed to the slow speed and this ride is in-fact the slowest half-Ironman ride that I’ve had to date.

Competitively, I had the 20th fastest in my AG (88 %-tile) and 443rd OA (80 %-tile). Only 3 guys in my AG broke 2:30. My guess is that if I had gone for it on this course today I could have gone 7-10 minutes faster but none of that was going through my mind as I was pretty confident that I had put more time on Preston during the bike.

Transition Two

I made the long run up to the front of transition and made the turn into my rack. I was pleasantly surprised to see Anders there in transition and he was calling out encouragement and snapping pictures. He reported the following info vis-à-vis Preston:

Swim: RC 10:00 faster than Preston

T1: RC 2:01 faster than Preston

I was not surprised but was relieved to get confirmation that I had left T1 with a 12:01 lead. I guessed that I was probably 20+ minutes ahead after the bike and I knew that barring a total meltdown, Kona was in my grasp. (The actual data was that I had out-biked Preston by only 6:19 and out transitioned him by 1:00 so I was leaving T2 with a lead of 19:20).

Anders continued to encourage me and admonished me to be very conservative on the run—“only 13 miles and Kona is yours!” Having finished my transition activities, I jumped up, high fived him and headed out for the final leg. My total transition time as 2:22 and an average HR of 151.

The Run

On my training runs over the last couple of weeks I had thought about this moment—I imagined leaving T2 with a big lead, feeling strong, and only having to race an easy pace to the finish and my Kona slot. Here it was really happening.

I decided to try to run around 8:30 miles (1:51-1:52 pace). I figured this was about as fast as I felt Preston could possibly run. I felt like I was capable of running mid 1:45s (my PR is 1:38:01 at the White Lake Half) so this seemed like a very safe pace. As I ran out of the finishing straight I realized that in my excitement at seeing Anders I had forgot to take my Enduralytes. I had a little panicky feeling and I scanned my body for the telltale early warning signals of potential cramping. I felt OK but this just reinforced the need to go easy and avoid a meltdown.

I hit the first mile mark in 8:02 with an average HR of 152. It felt really easy and my HR was a good 8 beats below the limit I had in mind (160 bpm). During the first mile I discovered that due to high tides, this year we would not have to run down on the sandy section, which I was very pleased about. I also noticed in the glaring sun and the protected area by the beach there seemed to be no breeze (there actually was a light tailwind from the north). It all of a sudden seemed very warm—certainly much warmer than in DE during our horrible winter!

I backed off the pace as I hit the Strand and passed mile 2 with an 8:24 (157 bpm). The Strand was packed with lots of folks out enjoying one of the nicest beach days of what here-to-for had been a cool and rainy winter. As I climbed up and away from the Strand to a hillier road parallel to the Strand the temperature seemed to jump dramatically. I felt fine but I made sure I stopped at each aid station and drank a glass or two of fluid.

Miles 3 (8:27/159) and 4 (8:32/160) came and went as I hit the turn-around of this two-lap out and back course. I was into the breeze now, which I was thankful for and focused on my HR, which despite my slowing pace was beginning to climb. At the turnaround I checked my watch and began looking for Preston so I could have up-to-date tactical information.

Mile 5 clocked in at 8:35/160 and I was aware of growing dehydration and the early signs of cramping. I still hadn’t seen Preston which told me I was either well over 20 minutes ahead or I had somehow missed him. In any event I decided to back off the pace a bit more.

Mile 6 was 8:50/156 and I hit the halfway point at around 52 minutes. I still had not seen Preston and concluded that I probably had missed him (which was true) or he was having a difficult day. While I continued to look for him I was convinced that I just needed to jog it home. I was now growing physically uncomfortable—I was getting very dehydrated being non-acclimated to the heat and my leg muscles were beginning to ache from the pounding of the mostly concrete run surface.

Mile 7 was 8:56/157 and mile 8 9:04/154. When I again didn’t see Preston I backed it down further as my legs felt like they might cramp. I was thankful I had started conservatively and that I had a big lead—I was just trying to conserve and get across the finish line. Miles 9 through 12 were quite slow: 9:31/152, 9:54/151; 9:59/148; 10:14/148 but I felt under control as I let my HR fall into the low aerobic zone. I was chatting with people and enjoying the scenery as I tried to take my mind off of my aching legs and parched mouth.

When I hit 12 I picked it up and went through 13 with a 9:18/153 and made the final turn down the finishing straight. I cruised mostly by myself and waved to Greg Welch (we had dinner and breakfast with him earlier) and smoothed it home across the line. My run time was 1:58:30 and my overall time was 5:22:04.

I saw Anders almost immediately and he congratulated me and confirmed that I had my Kona slot. I said: “Really? I never saw him”. He then told me that I was 20 minutes ahead after T2 and had pulled away from him on the run. In fact I would win the slot by 33:17. AG wise I was 47th (71st %-tile) and OA 906th (58th %-tile). While I could have gone faster, it would not had been without risk as I was quite dehydrated and close to cramping. I finished 29th (83 %-tile) overall in my AG and 571st (74 %-tile) for the whole field.

None of that mattered as I collected my finisher medal and hat and reflected that I was indeed going to race at Kona—after dreaming about it for 29 years (ever since Julie Moss). I was pretty matter-of-fact about it I guess because I was confident entering the race and I was pretty aware of what was going on tactically throughout the day.

Post Race

Anders helped me pack up and we rode together back to our hotel. After helping me a bit in the room, he packed up and went back up to LA. I put all my stuff in my car and dropped my bike at TBT. I attended the XC race dinner and received a pretty impressive first place award for the over 50 crowd. Paul Gompers won his AG outright so he’s going to Kona as well as is the fellow who finished second in the under 50 race. Further good news was that Preston was going as well as he won his AG slot.

I left the award dinner early and dove up to LA and hung with Anders Saturday night and all day Sunday—we had a great time. On Monday I flew back and began to turn my thoughts to Meso cycle two and the build for IM Germany in July. Of-course, I have IM New Orleans 70.3 on 4/18 to deal with first—but that’s a story for another day.

So this was race was a big success. I nailed my Kona slot. I didn’t go very fast but I didn’t need nor try to. I have plenty of races left in 2010 to do so. It was a well-run race on a fantastic course—I’d definitely do it again. The XC people were fantastic and of-course Anders support was the best thing about the whole experience—just like old times—the only thing that could have been better has been if his knee had allowed him to race along side me. Maybe next time!

Crash! Ouch! Part 3

Feeling generally better today. Shoulder is not as sore--will probably attempt an easy swim today. Right buttocks pain has diminished significantly.

However, I have one lingereing (and potentially significant issue). I either have a contusion to my medial satorius muscle of my left leg or I some how strained it. The former is much more likely. The satorius is part of the quadriceps muscle group (although not one of the big 4 that give it the name). It starts on the outside of the hip, crosses over the upper thigh and runs down the inside of the thigh to above the knee. It assists in raising the thigh during running and to a lesser extent in cycling.

I have visible contusions and cuts on my mid lower leg down to my ankle. These were caused when my bike jack-knifed--the bike fell on it's left side (the non-drive side thankfully) and I launched up and over and I'm postulating striking my inner left leg against the top tube or perhaps the handlebar complex. I was aware that I had bruised my inner thigh but awoke yesterday and today with the inability to raise my left leg effectively.

This is most certainly a contusion as I would normally feel higher groin weakness or pain in my outer hip if I had strained the muscle. Running is out of the question but I am going to attempt to spin easily on my trainer today and see what happens. I'm certainly in no condition to do a long course race today but with 10 days to New Orleans I'm hopeful that I'll be good to go then.

This is not ideal from a training perspective--today was my key run workout: 5 X 1 mile @ 7:00-7:10 on the track and that obviously won't happen. tomorrow was spupposed to be a 6 hour ride and I'd say that's gone as well. Oh well. while I want to go fast at New Orleans, it is a B race and everything I'm doing in this Meso-cycle is geared towards IM Germany on July 4th. If anything, my fast half is suppossed to come at Eagleman.

In any event, it is what it is. Not ideal but certainly given the range of outcomes in a violent crash like I had it's not so bad. Plus, I already have my slot!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crash! Ouch! Part 2

So I woke up this morning feeling like someone has just beating the crap out of me. I am very sore in my legs, butt and right shoulder. also, a general shaky/down feeling which i attribute to my body going into post adrenaline repair mode. I awoke in NYC wanting to run on a beautiful spring morning. No way Hose! My training plan for the week will have to undergo a little modification--I'm going to play it day-to-day and give my body a chance to heal up a bit.

I took my Cervelo in and Rob confirmed the problem was a failed Wipperman Connex chain link. To Rob's knowledge i was first to break one--I feel honored. We've agreed to take the Connex link off the approved equipment list. I'll know about any other damage to the Cervelo tomorrow....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crash! Ouch!

So riding back--about 1.5 miles from home/40+ miles into my very enjoyable ride today. Pumping and pushing as I like to hammer home the tough hills leading to my house. Just at the bottom of the last descent I jump up and begin a tough climb and I hear a "bang". My pedals/cranks freeze up. since I'm on the hoods I hit the breaks immediately.

I have no idea what's going on but apparently my chain has broken and jammed. Next (again apparently), the chain dumps into my rear wheel causing it to lock up. since I'm doing 20 mph or so the rear wheel skids and begins to fishtail. I try to recover but the rear end whips out left and my attempt to steer into the skid causes me to jack-knife. I launch endo over the front handle bars and crash hard down on my head and right shoulder. I quickly stop as I am on a sharp incline and I think I bounced a bit.

I check for traffic and quickly get off the road. A quick assessment of the damage indicates that both I and my Cervelo are remarkably OK. I have contusions, scrapes and blood on my right shoulder and elbow, my right butt, and my left lower leg. Remarkably the bike, save not having a chain seems ok.

I call Judy and she comes and rescues me. Back at home we both freak a bit when I take my shirt off and discover what appears to be a much larger bump where my surgically repaired right AC last experienced a 3rd degree separation. We are both convinced that we have seen this movie before.

Off to the ortho. X-rays. And miracles of miracles, no separation. the x-rays uncover a previously unrecognized bone growth on top of the surgically repaired area. doc says I am good to go and to be more careful--note to self, figure out how I could have been in this situation.

On my way to NYC for biz tonight. All banged up and very sore. worried about my Cervelo. Jeez, this is not an easy sport!

Thanks to Judy for helping me and hanging with me at the doc and giving me some TLC!

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

And the Beat goes on!

One of the potential benefits of racing the controlled tactical race of last weekend is that I would be able to turn in a solid week of training this week. with NOLA70.3 in just two weeks I was originally concerned when I laid out my 2010 plan that the 3 weeks in between these two 70.3s would be wasted.

The good news is that was not the case as I turned in a solid week of training. I took monday as a rest day as I was flying from LA to Philly anyway and this weekend I was blessed with the return of all of my children for a wonderful Easter celebration (though it was a bummer that Michigan State lost!). Despite all of these "distractions" here is the tale of the tape for this week:

24 hours and 50 minutes of training time
9000 yards of swimming
255 miles on the bike
32 miles running

I see another big week ahead of me and then it's time to lock and load on NOLA--awesome to be in the midst of "TRIATHLON OPERATIONS" !