Thursday, September 30, 2010

Training Volumes

September is in the book:

78 hours training
41,000 yards swimming
823 miles on the bike
105 miles running

For yucks I reviewed my training volume for the last 4 years, (which is as long as I've kept detailed stats--2010 is through end of September):


2007: 472,207 yards
2008: 303,076
2009: 253,964
2010: 305,046

Total swim: 1,334,293 yards or about 758 miles. The maximum length of Lake Superior is 350 miles, so I've swum the equivalent of it twice.


2007: 8,586 miles
2008: 9,185
2009: 7,753
2010: 8,094

Total bike: 33,718 miles. The circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24, 902 miles so I'm 35% of the way through my 2nd lap.


2007: 1,511 miles
2008: 1,228
2009: 979
2010: 1, 047

Total run: 4,765 miles. The distance from San Diego to Jacksonville is 2,092 miles so I'm well into my third lap across the country running.


2007: 69 hours
2008: 33
2009: 92
2010: 67

Total Cross-Train: 261 hours.

Total Training Time

2007: 935 hours
2008: 864
2009: 791
2010: 803

Total training hours: 3,393, which is a little more than 141 24-hour days....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Injury Update

Less than 10 days to game time!!!! I thought it might be useful to briefly update you on my injury status.

Left knee--just finished another Syn-Visc cycle a week ago Monday. My knee felt sore yesterday during a 20 minute tempo session but my experience with Syn-Visc tells me I should be good to go for Kona. My knee should be 100% as it ever gets these days.

Left hip/ITB/Hamstring--I've been pain free for over a month now and my best guess is that with all the physical therapy we were able to completely heal this one. Of-course, I haven't regained a lot of my prior run fitness but that's a different story. I should be able to race "pain free" from the perspective of this injury.

Left foot extensor tendonitis--This also seems to have gone away completely as well. As a precaution, I'll still very lightly sinch my straps on my left bike shoe--no sense taking a chance during the race.

Left shoulder range of motion--still more limited than my right but I should be fine for the swim.

All systems are go!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Inside of 2 weeks

Starting to get close now! Dropped my bike off at Cadence for Tri-Bike Transport to ship. Have spent a better part of today going over my check-list and beginning to gather stuff for my Saturday departure.

Into the taper now...the week coming up will be around 10 hours or so.

The week past:

8000 yards
170 miles on the bike
18 miles running
15:41 training time

Everything is a "GO"!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On almost buying the farm today

So today the Kona Dream (among other things) almost died. I was on my time trial bike shaking out my positional tweaks and making sure she is ready to hand over to Tri Bike Transport to send over to the Big Island this weekend. I'm bombing down the big hill on 52 and doing about 40 mph--maxing out my 55/13--when a lady pulls out 150 feet in front of me, stops and completely blocks the bike lane.

Everything seems to slow down. I'm up on my brakes. I hear the cars speeding down the hill to my left and behind me--no where to go! The rear wheel locks and I begin to fishtail. My front wheel is still rolling and I fight the gyrations as my rear wheel skids all over. I lay down over 50 feet of a skid mark. I decide to aim for the hood--I might be able to roll across and survive the impact reasonably in-tact. Ten feet from the car I see an out and take it by diving hard right--at about 20 mph--and slice into the road she came out of and pass just behind her and then roll unscathed away.

My HR is pegged and I'm feeling a huge rush. I feel my tire "bumping" and I stop--the lady is long gone--thanks! I dismount and look at the wheel and see that I have burned through the two outer most tread layers and that my tire now has a flat spot on it. How it didn't explode (and thank God it didn't!) I'll never know. Here is what it looked like:

Anyways, I'm very thankful that I caught a break today. I'm going to be extra vigilant in these my last few rides before I head to Hawaii. I was meaning to put new rubber on before Kona and I spent a few minutes this evening getting that task out of the way.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back to January--run wise

Did a local 5k this evening in hot/humid conditions. I did a 22:32, which coincidentially is the same time I did back on Jan 3rd--my first race of the year. This is an average of 7:16/mile, which I know from objective standards is really very mediocre. That said, it does represent a bit of a milestone in that I have recovered enough from my April hamstring tear to get back to where I was running in january. In January, I was coming off of 2 months of solid base training (with very little speed/tempo work). That I now have that kind of run fitness seems to me to be very accurate. If I just had another 6-8 weeks, I think I could get all the way back to my "normal" run fitness (I'd run a 20:30 or so for 5K).

Of course, I don't have that time before Kona--in fact it's Taper Time!!!!!! I'm OK with where I'm at on the run--I'll be very slow in Kona for sure but I'm optimistic when I start run training again--sometime in Nov/Dec--that I can get back to the "normal" run fitness.

In any event, in tonight's race I did win my Age Group....a small victory but a victory none-the-less.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inside of 18 days to Kona

Some updates:

Last week totals:

24 hours
10,000 yards swim
239 miles bike
33 miles run

I was really looking for 30+ hours/15,000 yards/300 miles/50 miles but my back crimped my style and I did the above effectively in 5 days. I'll take it and know that it's good enough to get the job done.

Not quite fully into my taper yet--Will start in earnest on thursday--these transition days are still lighter than the above (did do a nice 4000 yd swim today).

Kona bibs are up and I'm #1941. among my AG competitors is Scott Molina--there goes first place! :)

Among the 24 guys and 2 women who are part of the XC crowd--my IM PR translates into the 20th fastest (my 11:19 IMFL= 12:14 at Kona). this is one tough XC crowd! A couple of other XC stats:

--at 53, I'm the second oldest
--my 11:19 is the 16th fastest IM PR
--my IM70.3 PR is the 9th fastest
--my 7 IMs are the 7th most of the group
--Luis Alvarez is one of the XC competitors--he has done every IM and 68 in total....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Money in the Bank!

A quick note to bring you up to speed from last weekend.

I raced last Saturday in the Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon. As I reported, I had my best race of 2010 and got a real morale boost from the effort. The Mid-Atlantic Ratings are posted and it turns out that this was my 3rd highest rated triathlon in their ranking system. They've rated 39 of my triathlons to date. My best (in any way i can think to measure) remains my "perfect" race at the 2007 White Lake Half-Ironman.

Anyways, I was pumped and got a little carried away with an aggressive run the next day and then while moving stuff in the house threw my back out real bad. (Life as a 53 YO!). I'll return to the back in a second but my totals for last week were:

10,200 yards swimming
216 miles on the bike
27.2 miles running
19:42 training time

The training time fell 1 hour short of plan due to my back.

The plan for this week, my final big week before Kona, was 29 hours. However, I had to adapt a bit to the reality of my back. The pain was quite severe this time--I was unable to sleep at all on Sunday night. Fortunately, I saw my Orthopod first thing on Monday for my 2nd Syn-Visc injection of this cycle and he gave me some Skellaxan and that combined with a lot of ice got things under control.

I scrapped my Monday and Tuesday plans and focused on "protecting" my four key w/os for this week: Long ride, long run and two hard swim workouts. My back was tender but progressively better and I was able to get the following in:

Tuesday: 4000 yard swim--continuous in pool
Wednesday: 6:30 bike ride
Thursday: 3000 yard swim with a lot of interval work
Today: 3+ hour run (which is the longest training run I have ever had as a triathlete)

The run today was quite strong--I averaged 9 minute miles and was able to down 100 ounces of IM Performance--the drink they'll stock the Aid Stations at Kona with.

I did a few other w/os as well but getting these 4 done gets the real heavy lifting for Kona off my plate and is truly money in the fitness Bank! I know that I now am more than physically fit enough for Kona--22 days from today.

I'm at 17 hours so far this week and will probably log 25 by the end of the day Sunday. I'll probably still train fairly hard through Wednesday of next week and then execute my taper for Kona. I'm looking at 13-15 hours next week. Probably 9-11 the following week and 5 hours or so race week. I'll probably do 2-3 more rides in the 2.5-3.5 hour range and a run or two of 75 minutes or so (the rest of the bikes and runs will be short). I'll do 2-3 more 4000ish swims--hopefully, one open water.

Getting down to the icing on the cake at this point....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thinking of Kona

"Having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of a great cavern. Two contrary emotions arose in me, fear and desire--fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see whether there were any marvelous things in it."

--Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon Race Report

2010 Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon
Race Report #13: 9/11/10


My 13th triathlon of the 2010 campaign and the 99th of my triathlon career was held on this, the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks. Before the race, we had a moment of silence to remember the tragic events of that date. I thought back to that time and the day I tried to spend riding the enormous, perfect waves from an offshore hurricane. My heart wasn’t in it and I cut my session short. I also reflected that on this day, nine years ago, my career triathlon total had stood at one race.

This is one of the original triathlons and the 2010 version was the 27th running. I’ve raced here at the Pine Barrens quite a few times including having raced the Olympic event twice before—in 2003 and again in 2009. One of things I like about the race is that the bike course is always the same, which facilitates performance comparisons across the years. However, we learned on race morning, that this year, due to construction, the bike course was changed to a slightly shorter, two-lap affair.

Race morning dawned promising a beautiful day and near perfect racing conditions. At race start it was sunny, low humidity and about 65 degrees. There was some wind—about 10 mph, but nothing to complain about. The water was a pleasant 70 degrees or so—it doesn’t get much better than this! I joined the other triathletes, there were 114 of us, and shortly after 9am we were off.

The Swim

The swim is advertised as a mile and its held in a pretty nice lake named Lake Atsion. The course is a narrow clock-wise loop with plenty of room to spread out. The actual distance varies considerably from year-to-year, as I believe the RD lays out the course by dead reckoning, as opposed to a more precise method. When I compare year to year I focus more on my performance relative to the field than my absolute times.

The first wave was comprised of males 39 and under and I watched them closely for the first minute of the swim. While this is a hard thing to judge, I was pretty sure that I could swim with any of them—no one seemed to be tearing it up. I jumped in the water and warmed up for another 5 minutes and after the ladies went off, I joined the 40+ crowd and we were off six minutes after the first wave.

I lined up on the far right to get clear water and to keep an eye on the competition. At the start I just headed out at what I felt was my race pace—I didn’t put an initial sprint on as the field was pretty spread out. Right away I began to slowly, but surely, open up a gap on those near me. I could see a group of 4 swimmers to my left who were doing the same over in the middle of the field.

I kept my eye on them over the first 200-yards as we stayed horizontally separated by 10-15 yards. Two of the guys on the left began to drop off the pace and we were now clear of the front of the pack by a good 10+ yards and this gap was steadily growing. Nice!

At about 300 yards we came together. The lead swimmer was about 5 yards ahead of me and looked stronger than I. I assumed this was Coy Purcell, a friend and strong 57 YO triathlete, who is an outstanding swimmer. Coy beat me by 2:35 (for the race) last year and while we weren’t directly competing, I was keying off him to give me a good benchmark of where I stood fitness wise versus last year. The other swimmer and I slotted in next to each other and basically swam side-by-side all the way out to the first turn buoy.
We began to get a lot more traffic from the first waves as we neared the turn buoy. I used my inside line to move ahead of my companion and hit the turn first. I got momentarily tangled in the ropes of the turn buoy but was able to quickly extricate myself and began driving towards the second turn buoy about 25 yards away. I negotiated this more effectively and looked back to see that I had some company on my feet.

As we headed back towards transition we were dead into the sun and even though it was relatively high in the sky, the reflection effectively blinded us. I could feel my competitor hitting my toes from time-to-time and after a bit of this I decided to push hard and drop him off my draft. In this I was successful. I now knew I was in 2nd in my wave and I took encouragement from this given the wave included all those 40 and over.

About halfway back I noted that the water shallowed out to about 2 feet and I took the opportunity to stand-up and sight the rest of the course. I was where I wanted to be and this move was helpful in orienting me on the rest of the swim.

I felt great the whole swim—very much in control. I knew that I could have pushed harder but from a competitive standpoint there didn’t seem to be any need to do so. I passed many, many swimmers from the prior waves and as I rounded the final turn for home I looked back and saw I had a 3-4 yard lead on the fellow behind me.

I exited the water with an elapsed time of 25:55 and an average HR of 155 bpm. This HR is my target for Half and full IM swimming and indicates I probably could have gone another 30 seconds faster if I had been so motivated. As I ran up the beach towards the timing mat, the race director was yelling something at me but I couldn’t really understand him because of my earplugs. I slowed and glanced back and he was waving at me and his mouth was moving. The fellow from my AG was running behind me and pointing at his head and as I pulled my earplugs out I heard him tell me to throw my swim cap to the ground. I was confused by this and thought that I like to keep the swim caps from the races I do as mementos, so I was briefly reluctant to do so. Then it dawned on me that this was the RD’s method for making sure everyone got out of the water OK.

I took my goggles off and then managed to get my cap off and on the sand. While I was screwing around with this my wave companion ran just in front of me as we crossed the timing map. He actually clocked a faster swim according to the results page (1 second) but I measure my swim time from the start of the swim to when I have fully exited the water—not when I cross the timing mat (I do this to be consistent in my reporting and analysis). So, in my book I was the faster swimmer.

In any event, the lead swimmer from our wave turned out to not be Coy but a fellow named Abbott and I was able to out swim everyone else and post the 2nd fastest swim OA! No matter which way I look at it, this must rank as the best triathlon swim of my career to date. Of the 8 competitors in my AG, the closest was Jon Swanson, who has beaten me several times in the past, and I opened up a 1:27 lead on him.

More surprising to me is that I out swam Coy by 39 seconds. Last year, he was 4:21 faster than me and this more than anything, I think, illustrates how much stronger my swim is this year. I think the swim distance was probably pretty close to being accurately measured at 1 mile this year. Here is how my swims at the Pine Barrens compare to each other:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2003 32:37 80/209 62.2 %
2004 27:14 15/59 76.2
2010 25:55 2/114 99.1

Here is where we stood OA after the swim:

1. Abbott --------
2. Christofferson + 1:13
3. Spina + 1:13
4. Fay + 1:18
5. Purcell + 1:52

Transition One

I put the swim cap affair behind me and really tried to focus on executing a strong transition. The week before, at Marlton, I had been horrible and I felt I was just being mentally lazy. I was confident that I had a very strong swim and I wanted specifically to move ahead of Spina after he snaked me across the mat.

I executed a very strong T1 in an elapsed time of 1:34 (HR was 169). This was in fact the 7th fastest T1 overall which is exceptional for me. Kristen Donahue, who is the best I know at transitions, was first but only 11 seconds faster. I’ll take that any day! Competitively, I put time into the rest of the top 5 (as well as my AG) and this is where we were OA after T1:

1. Abbott --------
2. Christofferson + 0:27
3. Spina + 0:28
4. Fay + 0:44
5. Purcell + 1:16

The Bike

I left T1 just ahead of Spina and feeling very into the race. The new bike course turned out to be a mile shorter than the historical course at 23.0 miles. It was a new course for everyone but turned out to be a simple 11-mile loop with a short run out and back to the two-loop course.

Shortly into the bike Spina went by with a very strong move. He open up about a 30-yard lead but then seemed to stay there. I was focused on riding somewhat controlled for the first five miles or so and I was content to track him from afar. I was feeling pretty good and seeing power numbers in the 220-260 watt range, which while a little low, seemed reasonable.

After about 5 miles I decided to up the ante and reeled Spina in and went by him hard. At the same time I passed Abbott and found myself leading the entire race! (I didn’t know this at the time but am pretty pumped about it after the fact).

Spina came back around me a mile latter and then Abbott followed right after him. I sat up and dropped back and collected myself for a minute or so and surged past them both again and I heard Spina yell out: “I figured you had more in you”. I nodded and said to myself: “Damn straight I do!”

I was riding harder now but shortly after the end of the first lap Abbott came by me again. I decided to cool it a bit and rode about 40 yards behind him. I looked back and saw that we had dropped Spina. I had passed quite a few cyclists to this point but I noticed there were fewer and fewer up the road. At about 15 miles I went by Abbott again and stayed ahead of him for the last eight miles. I finished the bike with a split of 59:42 and an average HR of 160 bpm. This is quite a bit below the 165 or so that I would expect in an Olympic race. My average power confirmed this as it came in at 235 watts. Earlier this year, at the Presidential Lakes Oly I averaged 241 watts in what I thought was a soft effort on a more technical course. Clearly, all of my long distance rides (like the 6 hour ride on the previous Wednesday) and my aggregate bike volume has dulled my top-end power and speed. My average speed was 23.1 mph and my cadence averaged 81 rpm. This is not a great bike for me but given my IM training emphasis, not that surprising.

Competitively, my ride was pretty effective. In my AG, I had opened up an 8+ minute lead. I had the 3rd fastest split in the field OA (98.2 %-tile) and managed to put significant time on both Abbott and Spina. Using Coy as my benchmark again, I was 3:30 faster than him this year versus 3:13 last year.

I entered T2 not far behind another rider and was shocked to see just one bike already racked! I didn’t know how long ago that rider had left T2 and for that matter, whether he was from wave one or wave two. I did know that the guy just in front of me was definitely under 39 so I knew I was either 1st or 2nd OA. Here in fact is where we stood after the bike:

1. Chawner --------
2. Christofferson + 0:30
3. Abbott + 0:34
4. Spina + 1:46
5. Powell + 2:35

Transition Two

I was very psyched and highly motivated as I ran into transition. I knew there was a good chance that I was leading the race. I was hungry for more. I really pushed it hard in transition and once again had a pretty good one with an elapsed time of 41 seconds and an average HR of 157. This was 10th best OA and again only 8 seconds slower than Kristen—my transition role model. Here is where we stood after T2:

1. Chawner --------
2. Christofferson + 0:32
3. Abbott + 0:52
4. Spina + 1:41
5. Powell + 2:43

The Run

I exited the run hot on the heels of the young guy and tried to focus on staying with him for a while. I let myself be convinced that I was winning and I even thought about what it would be like to win my first ever triathlon. I knew, in my heart, that this was most certainly a false hope but I was having a ton of fun and just went with that pleasant dream.

I was pushing hard and (I felt) running well—especially given how poor my run has been of late. The run at PB is all trails running on mixed sand and dirt through the woods. In places it’s literally like running on the soft sand of the beach in Stone Harbor. The first mile however, has a pretty good surface and I was pleased to hit the mile marker in 7:36 with a HR of 165. I was keeping the young guy in sight and my optimism was surging at this point—maybe I could really win this thing.

I redoubled my efforts on the second mile but soon Abbott came by me and I judged, from the looks of him, that he probably was over 40 and that he must have been the guy who went off the front on the swim (in this I was correct). I decided to try to hang onto him as long as I could and I hit Mile 2 with a split of 7:29 (167 HR). I was very energized, as I seemed to be running better than I had at any point since my bike accident.

Not long after the 2nd mile mark, Spina sped by me and complimented me on my bike. I said thanks but my spirits sank a bit, as I knew I had no chance of catching him. Towards the end of the 3rd mile we hit the heavy, rutty, uneven sand and the running became very awkward. My third mile was an 8:15 (166 bpm), which wasn’t that bad given the surface.

After a long stretch of soft sand, Abbott had some sort of shoe problem and I went past him. He soon re-passed me and seemed to be more energized and began to pull steadily away. My 4th mile was 8:09 (165 bpm) and as several other runners (all but one, Powell, under 40 and technically 6 minutes behind me) passed me I sensed that I was slowing down.

I fought this urge and tried to pick it up on the 5th mile and clocked a 7:33 (165). As I passed 5 I saw that I needed to run an 8:02 over the final 1-1.2 miles to break 2:15, which seemed like a worthy goal. I don’t really know exactly how far the run course is, being out in the woods as it is, and I also don’t know how accurate he mile markers are, but I’ve always felt this run might be a little short but given the surface was equivalent to a road 10k so for analytic purposes, I’ve treated it that way.

I looked behind me and saw that no one was near me but I decided to really hammer it all the way home and indeed I crossed the finish line with a total race time of 2:14:58. My run split ended up at 47:06 (166 bpm) and an average of 7:35/mile. Frankly, while slow from an absolute perspective, I’m very pleased with this run given my slow recovery from my bike accident. I had the 31st fastest run OA and 3rd in my AG.

Benchmark-wise, I was only 2:09 slower than Kristen, which is fantastic for me (in fairness to Kristen, the soft sand is much harder on a lighter runner like her than it is on me). Coy was 2:03 faster than me this year versus 1:32 last year, which feels OK to me.

My run in 2003 was 47:48 and last year it was 49:16 (although on a different course due to flooding).

My run was good enough for me to hold onto 5th OA—almost a minute in front of the 6th place finisher:

1. Chawner --------
2. Spina + 3:02
3. Powell + 6:02
4. Abbott + 6:52
5. Christofferson + 8:33

I won my AG (my 28th AG victory) by 9:27.

Chawner turned out to be the runner-up from last year and provides another useful benchmark for my performance versus last year:

My time vs. Chawner (positive is faster/improvement for me)

2009 2010 Change

Swim (1:04) +1:27 + 2:31
T1 (0:15) (0:03) + 0:12
Bike (1:29) (1:52) (0:27)
T2 (0:05) (0:02) + 0:03
Run (7:49) (5:59) + 1:50

Total (13:20) (8:33) + 4:47

At this rate of improvement, I’ll win this thing in 2012!

Seriously, this was a great race for me. Certainly my strongest in 2010 and it gives me a lot of momentum as I head towards Kona. It also gives me a great deal of optimism about regaining my run strength and having a strong year in 2011!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marlton 2010 Race Report

I'll get the Pine Barrens Race Report up in a day or two but here is the Marlton race report:

2010 Marlton Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #12: 9/4/10


Marlton is a popular New Jersey Sprint triathlon that takes place in and around the Marlton Lakes community, not too far from Philadelphia. I did this race twice before—back in 2004 and 2005. Normally, this close to an Ironman (five weeks to Kona) I wouldn’t bother with a Sprint, but I’ve decided that I’d like Kona to be my 100th career triathlon. Marlton was to be #98 and I planned to do Pine Barrens on the 11th for #99. I tried to not compromise my IM training so I entered the race with quite a lot of miles in my legs from the three prior (hard) weeks of training.

My principal goal for the race was to have a good hard “brick” workout and to do my best to have a decent race. The race had 372 competitors so I wanted to ideally be in the top 10 or 20. Age Group wise, I was facing 22 competitors but only two, Mickey Syrop and Ira Meyers figured to be a real threat. Mickey is a friend and long-time competitor—through the years I’ve generally gotten the better of our match-ups, but last year he beat me three straight times. Further, with my run status, I needed to have a truly exceptional swim and bike to have a chance at holding him off. Ira is a new competitor and had aged up this year. I raced him right after IM Germany and he beat me by almost 4 minutes in a Sprint. On paper, especially with my (poor) run status and heavy training load, I would have a hard time climbing past third.

This Saturday morning dawned as a beautiful day with pleasant temperatures and sunny skies. It was quite windy (20-30 mph), as Hurricane Earl had passed just off the coast the previous day. I like the wind as it effectively makes the bike course “longer”, which is good for me competitively. Anyways at 7:45, we were off—well more precisely, the first wave was. Us dinosaurs were back in the 6th and last wave.

The Swim

I like the swim here at Marlton. The “lake” isn’t much being muddy, murky, and weedy and generally 2-4 feet deep, but the course itself is somewhat unique being a straight point-to-point. Most folks walk along a “dike” of sorts to the start for the swim back to transition. I always swim across to get my warm-up in.

Our wave was finally up and I lined up on the right to keep an eye on things. There were a good 50+ people in our wave but at the gun I quickly gained separation from the field on the right. To my left, two swimmers broke clear and about 75-100 yards in, we came together. I slotted in on the right hip of the leader and the 2nd swimmer (who I latter found out was Mickey) was a yard or so back.

I swam very comfortably next to the leader trying to gauge his pace and strength to decide what tactic made most sense to me. After about 20-30 seconds of this I decided that his pace was pretty good and that I might as well drop in on his feet. I glanced behind me and saw that Mick was following behind us although he seemed to be having trouble holding the pace.

We began to weave through a lot of slower traffic, which was an issue in this narrow swim course. A couple of times I went a different direction than the leader and at one point thought about going for the wave lead but ultimately I ran into heavier traffic than the leader and when we came back together he had opened up a 3-4 yard lead. We were about 75 yards from the finish of the swim and I was working hard to dodge the traffic so I decided to just cruise it in and begin to get my mind around T1 and the bike leg to follow.
I didn’t know who the leader was (after the race I found out he was in my AG and named Zeke Hill) but I hit the shore with an elapsed time of 6:25. My HR averaged 157 bpm—which is working pretty hard. I knew that I had delivered a very strong swim split. My two prior swims here were 7:01 (2004) and 7:21 (2005). I was thus 9-13% faster than those prior swims. I had the 12th fastest swim OA (97.0 %-tile) and was 9 seconds behind Zeke by the time I ran up the beach to the timing mat. Significantly, I was 13 seconds faster than Mick. Mick almost always beats me in the swim (I think I’ve out swam him just twice in some 20 races) and afterwards he told me he had his best swim ever at Marlton. Ira is not a strong swimmer and I had opened up a 1:53 lead on him.

Here is a comparison (which is valid as the course is always the same) of my three swims here at Marlton:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 7:01 52/334 84.7 %-tile
2005 7:21 45/376 88.3
2010 6:25 12/372 97.0

Competitively, here is where we stood in the 50-54 YO AG:

1. Hill --------
2. Christofferson + 0:09
3. Syrop + 0:22
X. Meyers + 2:02

Transition One

Mick is much better than I in transitions and on this day he had the 9th fastest OA. I had a very poor transition (lazy?) with an elapsed time of 1:57 and was 53rd OA. (My HR averaged 166 during T1). More importantly, I dropped a ridiculous 30 seconds to Mick (versus my usual 10 or so) and I was 21 seconds slower than Zeke. Ira is horrible at T1 and he took a whole minute longer than I. Here is where we stood after T1:

1. Hill --------
2. Syrop + 0:13
3. Christofferson + 0:30
X. Meyers + 3:23

I was very aware that I had squandered a hard won advantage with my poor T1 as I saw Mick speed off while I was still getting my bike affairs in order. Soon however, I was on my bike determined to make a race of it.

The Bike

The bike is one 11-mile loop on flat to slightly rolling roads. The road surface is mixed but not too bad and there are quite a few, though easy turns. I caught Mick around 2-3 miles into the bike and tried to hammer out as big a lead as I could. I felt pretty good and was pleased to be pain free in my hip. Right after passing Mick I passed Zeke and saw from the 50 on his calf that he was indeed in my AG.

Some younger ding-dong decided to draft me and I tried to shake him on several occasions. This wasn’t the best tactics but I wasn’t in a mood to aid a rule-breaker. Finally, I decided to sit up and “dare” him to pass me. He finally did and I let him get 20 yards in front of me for about 2-3 minutes to tire him out. Then I went by him and that was that.

I felt I was riding well but I could tell I lacked my high-end zip (I believe that all of the long rides and the aggregate bike volume (1100+ miles) in August had “killed” my top-end). My power meter was showing ridiculously low numbers (around 200 watts) and I later discovered the BB sensor was not properly placed to pick up my true power.

The wind was a factor and I was blown around a bit with my 1080/sub-9-wheel set-up. I finished the bike leg in 27:52 (23.7 mph), which while a bit underwhelming is partially a function of the wind. That said, I was not as strong, relatively speaking, this year as I was in years past:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 26:45 1/334 100.0 %-tile
2005 27:36 6/376 98.7
2010 27:52 6/372 98.7

My HR averaged 162 bpm during the bike, which is about 5-7 bpm lower than when I have enough muscular power to really stress my CV system at the top-end. My cadence was too low as well, averaging only 78 rpm.

I put 0:35 on Ira, 1:20 on Mick and 3:08 on Zeke. This, of course, was helpful, especially with Ira who is quite a strong rider, but it wasn’t nearly enough to counter Mick—I really needed to put 2:30 or so on Mick—and while I didn’t know where we stood, my goose was in-fact cooked at this point. Here is where we stood after the bike:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Syrop + 1:03
3. Hill + 2:38
4. Meyers + 3:28

Transition Two

I had another remarkably poor transition taking 1:07, which was the 87th best in the field. My HR averaged 160 during T2. I managed to lose time to all three of my pursuers and my lead was quite diminished as we left T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Syrop + 0:47
3. Hill + 2:33
4. Meyers + 3:27

The Run

There is not much in the way of good news to report about my run here at Marlton, save that I tried quite hard. Mickey passed me soon after the first mile and at the turn I could see that Ira was rapidly closing in. He finally erased his huge deficit to me in the final half-mile and I had to settle for 3rd in my AG and 21st OA.

My run split was a very poor 24:06 (7:47/mile for the 5k run). My HR averaged 165 bpm, which is a solid effort but below the 172 bpm I can average when I’m on. While my hip now appears to be mostly recovered, my run has a long way to go to return to normal. Here is how my run compares to the two prior years:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 21:15 67/334 80.2 %-tile
2005 21:33 47/376 87.8
2010 24:06 81/372 78.5

My OA time was 61:27—here is how it compares:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 57:27 15/334 95.8 %-tile
2005 58:58 10/376 97.6
2010 61:27 21/372 94.6

Despite the ugliness of my run and its equally ugly competitive implications, I feel OK about this race. I had a nice time—I enjoyed giving Mick a bit of a run for his money. I put in a hard effort and put triathlon number 98 on the books. I seem to be able to ride with a pain-free hip now, which is a major step forward—especially with Kona just around the corner. My swim continues to be stronger than it ever has been.

My run, of-course, is a good minute per mile off of where it should be. While this is definitely a bother, it is what it is. I’ve had a tough time coming back from my bike crash and I just won’t make it all the way back this year with my run. It will leave me something to work on during the off-season!

Recent Lessons

1. I started this week yet another cycle of Syn-Visc type injections into my left knee (I actually use a different brand now). Another injection tomorrow and again on the 20th and I'll be good to go for another 4-6 months. Back in 2005 my orthopod said, upon examing my x-rays that it was time to move on from triathlon to something more appropriate for an arthritic knee--something like golf. Since Anders was just really getting into it with me and I felt like I had a lot more to accomplish I demanded a different answer. These injections (now numbering over 40) have been that answer. Since my golf prescription, I have completed 73 more triathlons including 6 Ironman and 14 half-Ironman. In recent years, as my knee pain flares up from time to time, I've contemplated that once I reached 100 triathlons that I would "retire" or at least dramtically wind down my triathlon commitment.

A strange blessing this year has been all the issues stemming from my bike accident--especially my hip problems. These were significant limiters this year but they did cast in a clearer light the limitations that my knee places on my triathlon training and racing. Bottom line--those limitations are not really that much. Sure, I have to run a lot less than "I should" or want to but I have been able to enjoy a modest level of success over the last few years despite this limitation. Further, the injections work well enough that most of the time my runs are relatively pain-free ("knee-wise"). Lesson learned, retirement is not imminent and while I am focused like a laser on Kona, I've also begun to think about an aggressive 2011 season.

2. If you define fitness as the ability to do well something that you want to do, then in terms of swim racing in a triathlon I am fitter than I have ever been. Over the last couple of weeks, I've learned that my time away from the pool has cost me 2-4 seconds per 100 on my interval work, but my focus on tempo based, long-distance open-water swimming has really refined my ability to do just that. Further, as my last two races indicate, while I've become very competitive at the sprint distance (400 yards), my real strength is now in longer swims (1 mile+). In other words, my emphasis on distance training has cost me some top end speed, but as the distance gets longer, I don't slow down as much as others and I become relatively more competitive.

My swim fitness is approaching my bike fitness and I think I'll probably begin to play around quite a bit more with the Olympic distance next year.

3. Specificity, while a central tenet of training philosophy, is not the only thing necessary for my future success in triathlon. I'll still mostly SBR, but I now know, from this summer's lessons, that I'll have to incorporate an on-going program of core-fitness and flexibility training to maintain my ability to get up every day and do the training work I want to do. So that will be a more important component of training in 2011--not as a response to an injury like this year, but as a preventative measure and perhaps as a way to build my ability to perform at a higher level.

4. After yesterday's race, I know I'm on the right path and that I will be ready for Kona--bring it on!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

99 was nice!

Had a very enjoyable race this morning at the 27th Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon. 114 in the race and I put together a strong swim exiting the water 2nd overall. I followed with a solid bike (3rd OA) and was either in 1st or a very close 2nd entering T2. Had an encouraging run and held on for 5th OA (2:14:58). Won my AG (#28) and my next race is Kona--nice to look toward that with some momentum!!!!

The swim was truly gratifying. I owe two race reports and will get them up shortly.

Yeah baby!!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Next two weeks:

1. put in 50 hours harcore training
2. race number 99 this weekend
3. start food taper tomorrow
4. daily hypoxic sessions
5. do a 3 hour run
6. two 6 hour rides
7. do 4 4000 yard swim w/os

did a 2.5 mile TT swim today. Went through 2.4 in 72:30 (with a longjohn) which I think is pretty much equivalent to where I was at IMFL 2007 when I swam 66 minutes (taper, full wetsuit, drafting, race, etc.) Of-course no wetsuit in Kona but should be good to go--lots of work in the pool over the next 3 weeks--well into the taper....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

beat going on

Raced (#98) at Marlton yesterday: Very gratifying swim, effective though disappointing bike, honest though pretty mediocre run. As a result finished 3rd in the AG and 21st OA (around 380 in the race). I'm ok with it. Given my current run status I'm not going to beat guys of the calibre of Mick and Ira--so no surprises there. The reality is that I'm a full minute per mile slower than I was 2 years ago (when I was last IM serious). Part of me is pretty annoyed at this given I was setting course records in January of this year on my runs. The rational/non-ego part of me (admittedly the minority) recognizes that I had a perplexing injury this year and I am a long way from fully recovered--mostly a run phenom, but also a bike issue. That rational soul also worries about just a general age related getting slow.....but in the off season (soon!) we'll explore that question in detail.

Race night I went out with my youngest for a truly primo body-board session on session of the year! 90 minutes of constant kicking (lots of current) is not a recommended pre-run race thing but it was very, very fun--and so typical of the Jersey shore. After 3 months of living here you're sorta ready to head back to "real" life and then you get a transcendent evening like we had--primo waves, clams, soft-shells and then a roaring fire and great music and company.

I awoke this morning and did the Tim Kerr 7-mile Island running race (7 miles)--perhaps a little hung over. My modest goal is to do this race every year and beat 60 minutes for as long as I can--kinda my fitness canary in the coal mine thing. I ran easy and was happy to get through in 56 and change (and 2 minutes faster than last year)--this old horse is not over yet!

After the race i had agreed to a friendly ride with my old boss (Tatnall AD) and pal, Mark Ginn and a friend of his (female). Being old school I thought fine when he said they wanted to do 50 or so as i thought having a member of the fairer sex along would make it sane and despite all of the racing I'd be fine. I knew I was in trouble as I struggled to suck wheel at 23+ mph into the strong west headwind as we headed out from Avalon--jeez, I didn't know he was bringing Wonder Woman!

Suffice it to say, i had to bury my ego on several occassions as my legs were far to fried to hammer away with them. As it was, it was 52 miles at close to 19 mph with a lot of wind around. I was supposed to do a 2.4 mile swim TT today but decided to slide it to tomorrow because my legs were fried (part of it was a hydration thing....)

Anyways--my week totals were very modest (but I'm just trying to react honestly to how my body feels):

swim: 4400 yards
bike: 207 miles
run 21.4 miles
time: 16 hours

I have 2-2.5 more serious weeks of training before I enter taper-land (shimmering very attractively on the horizon!). Tri 99 next weekend. I'll file a race report this week for Marlton....

life is rich!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Confirmation on the swim

Yesterday did a 4+ hour ride followed by a 2 mile open water (non-wetsuit) swim. I swam the 2 miles in 64 minutes: 31:30/32:30 for the two miles. so this confirms that I have definitely found a valuable swim stroke key for Kona. I did feel that my stroke began to fall apart after 1.5 miles due to fatigue. I can fix that somewhat this month by logging 2-3 4000 yard pool workouts per week over the next few weeks back in Delaware. Anyways, any residual anxiety about the Kona swim is gone--I should be able to get under 80 minutes and not have near the fatigue that I had in Germany. It's not the 66 minutes I did in Florida in 2007 but even with my form tweak, I'm just not a strong non-wetsuit swimmer. Something with a 7 handle would put a smile on my face as I exited the waters in Kona for sure!