Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011 draws to a close tonight. Jenny and Kara are up in New York. Anders is down in Rio. Alex is with his girlfriend in DE. My bride and I are at our beachhouse in NJ with Roxy and Rylie (Jenny's dog). We are meeting good friends Kristen and Joe in a bit for a 2011 toast and then Judy and I are having an early New Year's dinner in Avalon.

the weather here is spectacular--it was 61 degrees when Judy and i rode this afternoon on the Island--last workout of the year! 2011 was a great year in so many ways. I'll update you all on the nerdy tri stuff shortly. I have a nifty little analysis of 2011 vs. the prior four years which I'll post over the next day or two. For now, I wish you a Happy New Year.....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm really not political but.....

Hey guys--I hope you are all enjoying the off-season! I certainly am! I will get nerdy from a tri perspective very shortly but thought you might like this pic fom a couple of weeks ago....I used to work at Bain and Mitt Romney hired me there....As I previously mentioned I went up to Boston for a number of reasons including to support Mitt. While, I'm not a political guy, I can say i think the USA would benefit from a Mitt presidency....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all. Lots of fun here in the Christofferson household with all the kiddies here. They are just awakening and i can see by the tree that Santa thinks they have been good this year!

As you can see in the picture below, I am using the off-season to try to address some of the hydration challenges I faced at IMAZ--this is an advanced form so don't try it at home unless you are an expert:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Still puttering along!

Enjoying the down time. Starting to think with some discipline about 2012 and its goals and training strategy. Will probably post on that shortly. Last week's numbers:

swim: 0 yards
Bike: 154 miles
Run: 25.3 miles
Time: 13:18

I may climb into the pool once or twice next week to get a sense of where my elbow is at....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last week

Sorry to take so long between posts! I've been up in Boston doing a whole host of different work/social things. Still nursing my elbow back to health--seems to be progressing, albeit quite slowly. My knee seemed little sore at times this week so I'll need to start a new cycle of knee injections in the not too distant future.

Here are the totals from last week:

Swim: 0
Bike:147 miles
Run: 28 miles
Time: 14:27

I feel pretty good and still quite motivated considering its only been 3 weeks since IMAZ. I probably need to keep a close watch on my training volume and skip a few days here and prime goal right now is to recharge (and heal up my elbow)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Living the civilian life

Continuing my non-structured transition from 2011 to 2012. I haven't been in the pool since IMAZ--my elbow continues to be sore--my ortho's initial thoughts is that I have medial epicondylitis but we'll probably need to do an X-ray/MRI to rule out some other issues....I'm just spining easy on my trainer and going outside for short rides when the weather's nice. I'm starting to run a bit more--though nothing long nor fast.

Totals for this week:

Swim: 0 yards
Bike: 110 miles
Run: 23 miles
Time: 10 hours

Thursday, December 1, 2011


November totals were (of-course) primarily driven by my taper for and then recovery from IMAZ on 11/20. My recovery is going very well. I've been spinning easy most days on my bike and have now run twice--yesterday was a very solid 6 miler where I ran comfortably at an eight minute mile pace....I think an unexpected benefit of my cramping at IMAZ is that my legs did not get beat up quite as much as they might otherwise had....still, just taking it easy, nothing structured for a while.

Here are November numbers:

Swim: 19,225 yards
Bike: 593 miles
Run: 82 miles
Time: 55 hours

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IMAZ Slideshow

Here is the You Tube version--crank it up to HD and full screen if you got the chops to do so!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

IMAZ 2011 Race Report

2011 Ironman Arizona
November 20th, 2011


Location: Tempe, AZ
Distance: 2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike/26.2-mile run
2011 Triathlon Race Number: 14
Career Triathlon Race Number: 114
Conditions: Partly to mostly sunny. Mid 50s to low 70s. Wind up to 20 mph and a 61-degree water temperature.

This was my only “A” race for 2011--the race that I had focused my entire season around. I was racing with the XC group and hopeful of snagging the M50-54 XCAG Kona slot. I also wanted to race “fast” and reverse a trend of steadily increasing IM finishing times. I thought it might even prove possible to better my PR of 11:19. But my primary objective was to race intelligently and achieve an “as close to my potential fitness as I could”.

At a higher, more spiritual level, I had dedicated my 2011 triathlon season to the memory and honor of my father. My father passed away between Christmas and New Years last year after a heroic 10-year battle with four different types of cancer. One of the great things about my father was his constant support of my various sporting endeavors from Little League, to in my latter days, my triathlons. He, in particular, loved my IM races and came to every one his health permitted. Post race, he loved to pose with my medal around his neck and strike a “finisher’s pose”. As I look back on these pictures, I can see in his eyes that he was right there crossing the finish line with me. So it seemed right to dedicate my 2011 season, and especially, IMAZ, to his memory. I had extra incentive to achieve my goals because principally I was doing so to honor his memory—this added no pressure but in fact, energized me.

My training in 2011 was focused around this race. I waited until August 1st to start my final 16-week IM build/taper. I raced 13 races in 2011 prior to this race, winning 5 of them and finishing in 2nd in another 6 (AG). More importantly, my final pre-IMAZ race was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I raced the half-IM like (1.2/66/10) Skipjack Triathlon in September and finished 2nd OA—nearly missing an outright victory. I felt fit, mostly healthy, and very motivated to give IMAZ everything I had.

I flew out with Delaware friends Dave Spartin (Spartycus) and Mac Weymouth on the Thursday before the race. Judy flew out and joined us late on Friday evening. I did all of the normal pre-race activities with relatively little drama. I did have to replace my front brake caliper but besides that all of the pre-race preparation went very smoothly.

Race Morning

I awoke at 3:30 on race morning for a couple of PB&Js, a banana, and a Venti-Starbucks. Everything went smoothly and Spartycus, Judy and I were on site with everything ready to go shortly after 6 a.m.

The weather forecast for 11/20, in the weeks leading up to the race, was all over the place. However, race morning dawned clear and cool with only a modest wind. The water in Tempe Town Lake was announced as 61 degrees, which struck me as just fine.

2562 triathletes would start the race and there were 169 in the M50-54 YO AG. There were five in my XC group that were competing for the one Kona slot. My XC competitors were Bonjour (from France), Pasqual (from Italy), my buddy Spartacus (who was principally focused on trying to claim the Kona PR challenge slot) and Wight. I had raced and defeated all but Bonjour before and on paper I was probably a modest favorite to win the XC Kona slot. I had not raced Bonjour before but I felt he was a competitor to keep a close eye on. I had raced Pasquali at IMFL in 2007 where I had beat him by just 52 seconds on a day where we both set our Ironman PRs. Pasquali had completed 26 prior IMs and could very well prove to be a challenging competitor for me.

The Swim

The Tempe Town Lake venue is not the best place for an IM swim—and it certainly was the least appealing swim site in this, my 9th IM. The “lake” is a narrow run-off collection basin—quite shallow and very murky. The IMAZ swim course itself is a straight forward one-loop swim with a bit of a right hand dogleg on the way out and featured 3 left-hand turns (a counter-clockwise course).

I waffled a bit on which side of the course to start on but ultimately opted for the far left—on the buoy line. I made this choice in the belief that the swim would be less chaotic there. I knew that I was not swimming on my preferred side of the course (being a left-hand breather) and that I was swimming a longer course due to the dogleg.

I entered the race in good swim shape with the exception of a very sore left elbow—something that will need attending to in the off-season. I had routinely swum 68-71 minutes in my IM TTs leading up to the race. My swim PR was 66 minutes and while I didn’t expect to go quite that fast, I thought that I could swim comfortably and exit the water somewhere around 70 minutes or so. I expected (or at least hoped) that this swim time would yield me a 5-10 minute lead over my two main XC competitors, Bonjour and Pasquali.

Spartycus and I took our time swimming out to the swim start and arrived there around 6:55. We were inside of the left buoy line and very near the front and near a bunch of Kayakers. There were a good 50-75 other triathletes there as well. One Kayaker kept telling everyone to move inside the buoy line but we all just ignored him.

I had contemplated a “zero-to-hero” start for the first 300-500 yards but decided to just swim in a controlled fashion—believing that my course choice would protect me from most of the physicality of the IMAZ start. My swim objective was to achieve a “no drama” swim. Relative to getting to Kona, I felt that I couldn’t secure my slot on the swim, but I was worried that a hard kick to my jaw might deny me my slot….

At the gun, I was immediately pummeled by those around me. Being a pretty big guy (for a triathlete) I went into a vigorous “fend-them-off” mode. (I was very successful in doing so—I never really got in trouble on this swim.) However, no matter what I did, it was constant, hand-to-hand conflict over the first 1000 yards or so. A good 15-20 minutes of fairly constant contact.

Tactically, I knew what was going on. I realized that I had made a mistake in my starting position choice as I was in a constant scrum AND I was swimming a longer course. Still, I felt very good and I began to tactically accelerate here and there to diminish the punishment.

As I approached the Rural Road bridge things began to settle down. I went under the bridge and then swam a longer than expected swim out to the first turn buoy. I was, of course, concerned about a cluster there but I made the turn with ease. Same with the 2nd turn buoy and as I made that turn, I glanced at my watch and saw 35:06. Sweet! I knew I would tire over the last half but it was hard for me to imagine that I would face as much physical contact over the 2nd half of the swim. Also, I felt that I had swum a long course on the way out and I was optimistic I could swim a more direct course on the way back. At this point, I was expecting to hit 69-72 minutes for my swim, which was right in line with what I thought I could do.

Shortly after the turn I found some very friendly feet and just started drafting. The fellow I was drafting seemed to be heading on what I thought was the optimal line—heading to the far right of the buoy line to hit the Apex of the right-side shore. I was very happy with the draft and swam the whole way back on this guy’s feet—zero drama. I was swimming very easy and reveling in my “no-drama” experience.

Finally, we swam up under the Mill Street Bridge and soon enough I was pulling myself up on the swim exit stairs like a leopard seal (not a pretty sight). Upon regaining an upright stance, I looked down at my watch and saw a 78:20 swim split recorded there. I was dumbfounded and I actually think I stopped to look at my watch for a moment or two. Didn’t it really say 68 minutes? No. How could this be? There is no way I swam this slow! But I did! Here is a statistical analysis of my swim:

--XC50-54AG Standings

1. Christofferson ---------
2. Spartin + 01:12
3. Bonjour + 01:45
4. Pasquali + 06:23
5. Wight + 09:51

--I was 1067th out of 2562 OA on the swim…just 58.4 %-tile.

--I was 54th out of 169 in my 50-54 AG…just 68.4 %-tile.

--This was my 5th (out of 9) best IM swim time. Here are my historical IM swims:

1. IMFL 2007 66:16
2. IMAUS 2008 73:48
3. IMCAN 2008 76:22
4. IMFL 2004 77:26
5. IMAZ 2011 78:20
6. IMWI 2006 79:50
7. Kona 2010 80:21
8. IMGER 2010 85:04
8. IMWA 2005 85:47

As I headed towards T1 I was a little stunned. I certainly expected to do better than this!

Transition One

I heard people yelling my name and I snapped back into reality (or whatever it is that I get to see of it (reality) on this planet). OK. Bad swim dude. Deal with it! Let it go and stay focused on the here and now. Don’t judge yourself. I tried to take the arms of my wetsuit off and uncharacteristically, they seemed to get stuck on the “arm-coolers” I had underneath. I’ve never tried to take a wetsuit off when I had arm-coolers on underneath—oops! Wow—amateur show so far!

I saw Judy and tried to wave to here but I’m sure this was ineffective given the bind that my arms were in. A Stripper took pity on me and helped me disengage from my wetsuit and I was on my way running the long way around to the changing tent. Most people were walking here and I must have passed close to 50 people in the run over to the tent.

Competitively, despite my slow swim, I thought there was still a good chance that I was first out in the XC group. I knew if I really pushed it I could score some valuable time in T1—my hope was to have a 5-10 minute lead exiting T1. The rest of my T1 I felt I did very well and I could tell I was having a solid T1. I actually did most of my T1 stuff just sitting outside of the changing tent on the grass. I decided to not even bother trying to find a spot in the tent given my middle of the pack swim. This proved to be sound thinking as I subsequently ran through a packed tent and out towards the bike racks. I couldn’t see where to put my T1 bag and ran around a bit in a confused way. Finally, I was able to find a volunteer who took my bag from me. Whew!

I raced down the middle of the racks—still passing people right and left and found my bike in the 2nd row from the bike exit. I looked and saw Bonjour and Pasquali’s bikes and I knew I was at least leading the XC group at this point in the race. I heard Judy yelling encouragement and I ran pass the mount line and jumped on my BMC ready and eager to put some distance on my pursuers.

Is it turned out, I had an excellent T1. My total elapsed time in T1 was 5:16 officially (5:51 on my watch). I was 4th in my AG (98.2 %-tile) and 277th OA (89.2 %-tile). On a net basis, I passed 250 people in T1—moving up to 817th OA and up to 32nd in the M50-54 AG. More importantly, I was able to put significant time into all of my XC competitors, especially versus Bonjour and Pasquali. Here is where the XC race stood after T1:

1. Christofferson ---------
2. Spartin + 2:17
3. Bonjour + 5:58
4. Pasquali + 8:53
5. Wight + 15:57

The Bike

I jumped on my bike just past the “mount” line and carefully weaved my way up the narrow chute in Tempe Town Lake Park. I hit the roadway proper with no mishaps. I noticed that my Edge 800 had not started so I started the timer—probably 45-60 seconds into my bike. I settled into my aero bars for the long ride ahead.

As we headed away from transition there was a lot of bike traffic (naturally, given how tightly the field is packed exiting the swim). I was very intent on safely passing the folks who outswam me but were weaker riders. This quickly became relatively routine and I began to devote some mental capacity to reflect on my tactical situation. I knew I was leading the XC group. I also knew my swim was slower than I expected but with a 5 minute transition, I was likely to have gained some time in T1. I had hoped to be 5-10 minutes ahead coming out of T1 and I thought that there was still a good chance that I wasn’t that far off of that goal.

The first five miles of the bike were spent weaving through the outer parts of Tempe and entailed a mostly flat, although somewhat bumpy road. Stat-wise, my first five miles looked like this:

Miles 0-5
Average Speed: 21.3mph/Max Speed: 27.1mph
Average HR: 152bpm/Max HR: 157bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 174 watts

After about 2 miles my HR began to steadily decline as my body recovered from the stress of transition. I saw the 174 watts average on my Edge 800 and decided to start picking up my effort. Back in 2007, I averaged 211 watts at IMFL. Recently, at Skipjack (September 2011), I averaged 225 watts over a 66-mile bike course and ran very well off the bike. Still, my plan was to try to ride this bike relatively conservatively. I envisioned keeping my power below 200 watts and sought an average between 190 and 200 watts for the whole ride. I though this would yield me somewhere around a 5:20 bike split and should allow me to open up a significant gap on my XC rivals. Of-course, I was prepared to modify this plan based on how my body felt and what my competitors were doing.

Miles 6-15 were mostly on the Beeline highway and featured a modest, gradual climb—about 165 feet of altitude gain. The wind was out of the east and into our face as we climbed. I settled in and began to hydrate (Cytomax to start) and eat my nutrition (shot blocks/gel) and Enduralytes (3 per hour). Surprisingly, I had to pee at mile 12—this was early, but I thought it was a good sign—I was clearly doing a good job at hydrating—something that I typically had troubles with in prior Ironman races. Here is the data from these ten miles:

Miles 6-10
Average Speed: 20.2mph/Max Speed: 23.5mph
Average HR: 146bpm/Max HR: 150 bpm
Average Cadence: 78 rpm
Average Power: 184 watts

Miles 11-15
Average Speed: 19.3mph/Max Speed: 24.1mph
Average HR: 142bpm/Max HR: 147bpm
Average Cadence: 78 rpm
Average Power: 184 watts

Miles 16-20 were mostly comprised of a steeper climb (216 feet over the 3.7 miles prior to the turnaround). Then the road leveled out and I made the turnaround and began to head back to town. I knew my average power was below my target but I felt very good, was passing a lot of people, and was comfortable being a little conservative on this first lap.

Miles 16-20
Average Speed: 17.7mph/Max Speed: 33.6mph
Average HR: 144bpm/Max HR: 149bpm
Average Cadence: 79 rpm
Average Power: 188 watts

Shortly after 20 miles, after downing some Ironman Perform, all of a sudden out of the blue I threw up! Almost no warning. Stomach felt fine both before and after. Weird. I can only attribute this to that god awful tasting Perform. I switched over to water for most of the rest of the ride.

The next ten miles were of-course downhill and with a tailwind so I was able to ride quickly and with a continuing conservative power output. I peed two more times during this section. I interpreted this as positive news—I was clearly on top of my hydration task!

Miles 21-25
Average Speed: 27.8mph/Max Speed: 31.9mph
Average HR: 142bpm/Max HR: 147bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 174 watts

Miles 26-30
Average Speed: 22.7mph/Max Speed: 25.2mph
Average HR: 143bpm/Max HR: 147bpm
Average Cadence: 78 rpm
Average Power: 186 watts

As I headed back towards the race village and the end of the first lap, it became increasingly clear to me that I was having a pretty solid bike ride. My HR and power were very low but my speed was right where I felt it probably needed to be (competitively). I was passing a lot of people and felt very good. In fact, I officially split a 1:45:15 over the first 37.4 miles or an average of 21.32mph. I was on a sub 5:16 IM bike pace.

Miles 31-35
Average Speed: 23.0mph/Max Speed: 26.2mph
Average HR: 146bpm/Max HR: 149bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 198 watts

Miles 36-40
Average Speed: 22.1mph/Max Speed: 27.4mph
Average HR: 147bpm/Max HR: 152bpm
Average Cadence: 82 rpm
Average Power: 194 watts

I hadn’t seen any of my XC competitors during the loop—in fact, I wasn’t even sure what Bonjour and Pasquali were wearing. As I headed out for the 2nd lap I anxiously looked to the right for Judy who let me know that after T1 I had a 6 and 9 minute lead on Bonjour and Pasquali respectively (actually: 5:58 and 8:53). I pumped my fist and nodded. This was very good news indeed—especially given how slow my swim was.

Before the race, I was talking to Troy from Ironman about the 3 principal generic race strategies for Ironman: Race For Time, Race Your Race, and Race Your Opponents. My approach to this race was to race my race unless I needed to respond to what my opponents were doing. As I headed out on the 2nd loop I saw no reason to change anything. I achieved the 5-10 minute gap I felt optimal on the swim/T1 combo. I had just finished a fast first bike lap and I did so with very conservative power. I felt it was likely that I had put 15 minutes on each of my prime XC competitors in the first lap. I especially felt good about my gap on Pasquali. In my pre-race analysis, I had determined that there was a strong correlation between his swim time and his OA time. When historically he was fast at the IM distance he had fast swim times. His swim time indicated to me that maybe he was not as fit as he has been in the past when he posted fast IM times.

The good news kept coming (or so I thought) as I noticed pretty early in the 2nd lap that it seemed like I was going faster than the first lap. I wouldn’t figure out until latter in the lap that this was a function of an increased wind speed and a close to 180 degree change of wind direction—indeed the wind was at my back as I headed out on the 2nd lap.

Miles 41-45
Average Speed: 19.5mph/Max Speed: 21.7mph
Average HR: 141bpm/Max HR: 146bpm
Average Cadence: 81 rpm
Average Power: 190 watts

Miles 46-50
Average Speed: 19.6mph/Max Speed: 22.9mph
Average HR: 138bpm/Max HR: 142bpm
Average Cadence: 79 rpm
Average Power: 186 watts

Miles 51-55
Average Speed: 17.9mph/Max Speed: 22.4mph
Average HR: 139bpm/Max HR: 146bpm
Average Cadence: 79 rpm
Average Power: 183 watts

I hit the turnaround and immediately noticed that the wind was gusting pretty hard up the hill and now directly into my face. Oh Oh! I knew then that my second lap was likely to be a fair bit slower than my first. Also, I continued to pee every 8-10 miles or so. It never registered with me that this might be an issue, but I was now very aware that I was peeing way more than I normally do. Notice how much slower these next segments (after the turnaround and heading back to the IM Village) were compared to the same place in the course in the first lap:

Miles 56-60
Average Speed: 22.2mph/Max Speed: 28.0mph
Average HR: 141bpm/Max HR: 149bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 181 watts

Miles 61-65
Average Speed: 20.7mph/Max Speed: 24.2mph
Average HR: 137bpm/Max HR: 140bpm
Average Cadence: 82 rpm
Average Power: 179 watts

Miles 66-70
Average Speed: 20.2mph/Max Speed: 23.2mph
Average HR: 138bpm/Max HR: 143bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 181 watts

Miles 71-75
Average Speed: 20.8mph/Max Speed: 24.1mph
Average HR: 139bpm/Max HR: 145bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 181 watts

I completed my second lap (which was a little shorter at 37.2 miles) in 1:50:51 (20.14 mph)—over 5 minutes slower than the first lap! I also began to feel a bit fatigued and I noticed that my power numbers were still on the low side. In the first lap I felt conservative. In the 2nd lap I began to get concerned. I was looking for a +21/+24 gap after the first bike lap on Bonjour/Pasquali respectively. When I saw Judy, she informed me that I was +16/+25 ahead after the first bike lap. I had indeed put 16 minutes on Pasquali but only 10 on Bonjour in the first bike lap. While I looked solid compared to Pasquali (I mentally projected a 50 minute or so lead on him after T2), I was both surprised and concerned that Bonjour had stayed comparatively close—especially given my fast first bike lap.

I acknowledged Judy but gave no fist pump. Given my second lap was 5 minutes slower, I considered the possibility that Bonjour could be only 21 minutes behind me after 2/3rds of the bike. Given my run weakness, this was disconcerting. I contemplated going harder on the bike during the third lap to create more of a gap but decided against it. I thought (correctly) that the conditions were slower and that maybe Bonjour would also slow down on the second lap. I also felt good about my run fitness and told myself that if I needed to, I could always try to hold Bonjour off with a (relatively) strong run.

Miles 76-80
Average Speed: 21.2mph/Max Speed: 26.6mph
Average HR: 138bpm/Max HR: 143bpm
Average Cadence: 81 rpm
Average Power: 178 watts

Miles 81-85
Average Speed: 22.0mph/Max Speed: 25.8mph
Average HR: 138bpm/Max HR: 141bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 175 watts

Miles 86-90
Average Speed: 20.9mph/Max Speed: 25.4mph
Average HR: 137bpm/Max HR: 142bpm
Average Cadence: 78 rpm
Average Power: 178 watts

Just before the turnaround, I saw a bunch of the XC guys from the younger AGs and decided to catch them. I hit the turnaround for the last time and was blasted yet again by the now westerly wind. I decided to push a bit more on the way back and hope that I had good run legs coming out of T2. I still felt pretty good although definitely ready to get off the bike. I continued to pee frequently and I noticed a slight “crampiness” coming on—although I did not put the two together…

Miles 91-95
Average Speed: 19.4mph/Max Speed: 28.2mph
Average HR: 138bpm/Max HR: 143bpm
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 179 watts

Right around 95 miles I lost my wireless connection and so have no more HR, power or cadence to report. I kept pushing down the stretch and passed several of the XC guys. I caught Mark Moses right around the same point I caught him at Kona—about 100 miles or so. I told him that we were going to have to stop meeting like this. We both had a good chuckle about that.

Miles 96-100
Average Speed: 20.1mph/Max Speed: 24.8mph

Miles 101-105
Average Speed: 19.3mph/Max Speed: 22.1mph

Miles 106-110
Average Speed: 19.5mph/Max Speed: 22.8mph

Last Segment
Average Speed: 19.8mph/Max Speed: 22.4mph

I completed the third lap (officially) 16 seconds faster than the 2nd even though it was 0.2 miles longer with the leg into transition. This meant that I averaged 20.29 mph over the final 37.4 miles.

According to my watch, I completed the bike in 5:26:12 and my official time was 5:26:41. My average speed was 20.57 mph. My average power was 183 watts and my average cadence was 80rpm. My HR averaged 141bpm. These are respectable numbers for me. I expected to be about 10 watts higher and probably could have handled an average HR closer to 145 but this is the effort that seemed right physically on this day and as we will see—it was the correct level of effort for me to take from a competitive standpoint.

As I rode in I was looking all around for Judy to get the key data point on my gap relative to the XC competitors after the 2nd bike lap but I didn’t see her. I suspected I would see her when I emerged from T2.

Overall on the bike, I had the 418th fastest bike split (83.7 %-tile). This moved me up 330 places to 487th OA. In the M50-54AG I had the 23rd fastest bike (90.5 %-tile), which moved me up 13 places to 19th. Although I didn’t know it at this time, from an XC perspective, I had a very effective bike—effectively knocking out all but Bonjour and opening a very large gap on him as well:

1. Christofferson ---------
2. Bonjour + 45:43
3. Pasquali + 70:05
4. Spartin + 82:05

This also turned out to be the 3rd fastest of my 9 IM bike splits. Here, for reference are my nine IM bike splits:

1. IMFL 2007 5:06:19
2. IMFL 2004 5:10:16
3. IMAZ 2011 5:26:41
4. IMWA 2005 5:29:24
5. IMCAN 2008 5:43:29
6. IMAUS 2008 5:59:19
7. IMWI 2006 6:00:41
8. IMGER 2010 6:07:59
9. KONA 2010 6:20:20

Transition Two

I handed off my bike to a friendly volunteer and stiffly ran into T2 and grabbed my gear bag. It occurred to me that I felt pretty good all things considered. I was intent on moving as quickly as I could through T2. This time I ran into the changing tent to take advantage of the chairs there. I executed a smooth and quick transition and was soon on my way.

I decided to make a detour into the porta-potty for my umpteenth pee since I had left T1 and ended up taking care of business for a good 30-45 seconds. I remember being amazed at how much I had peed during the bike—I guessed that at least I was well hydrated. I exited T2 in 3:44 according to my watch and 3:37 officially.

Competitively, this was a solid transition although due to my little detour not quite as strong as my T1. Overall, I had the 592nd (76.9 %-tile) fastest T2 moving up 9 places to 478th. I had the 23rd (87.0 %-tile) fastest in the M50-54AG, which kept me in 19th place. I continued to open up time on my XC pursuers as well:

1. Christofferson ---------
2. Bonjour + 46:56
3. Pasquali + 74:13

The Run

I exited the run and immediately saw Rob Holmes from Delaware. I slapped five and tossed him a tire tube that I had stuck in my tri top and had forgot to take out during T2. About 100 yards up the road; I saw Judy and she told me that after the second bike lap I was 30 and 45 minutes ahead of Bonjour and Pasquali respectively. I nodded and she asked me if I understood what she was saying (I guess I looked a little dazed at this point). I said yes I did and that it looked like they were fading on the bike. I had put 14 minutes into Bonjour and 17 into Pasquali so I knew I was getting relatively stronger as the bike wore on.

Mentally, I guessed this meant that I would have 45 minutes or so on Bonjour and over an hour on Pasquali at the start of the run. Given Pasquali’s run history I knew that barring a disaster, it was now just a two man race—and I had a very sizeable advantage. I wasn’t counting my chickens yet but I felt very good about my apparent gap on Bonjour—I thought that it could very well be good enough to get the job done.

I saw Troy and team underneath the railroad bridge and gave them the thumbs-up. Shortly thereafter, the good times came jarringly to an end when my left hamstring cramped up. I felt the bulge of my hamstring sticking out of the back of my left leg and stopped and tried to keep my leg from going into full spasm. Oh Oh! This was not good news at all. Apparently, I had over-hydrated on the bike and this caused the electrolyte concentration in my blood to fall below optimal levels. I don’t think I was hyponatremic, as I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms—in fact, besides the incipient cramping, I felt great.

I knew I needed to get some Enduralytes into me as quickly as possible but it would have to wait until I hit the first aid station as I didn’t want to ask for any outside assistance. I had 18 Enduralytes in my tri top, which I was concerned might not be enough. I thought about my friend John O’Brien who similarly had about a 50-minute lead exiting T2 and ended up DNF-ing and losing his Kona slot because he went too hard on the run. I decided that while I felt like I could easily handle a 9-minute pace, I needed to be conservative to keep my legs from locking up.

I hit Mile 1 in 9:36 and then stopped and stretched a bit. Mile 2 went by in 11:05 (I think this second mile was long). Here I was able to get some fluid and ate 6 of my Enduralytes—twice what I had planned for the first hour of the run. Strangely, I felt better immediately and began to run quite well. I hit the timing mat at 2.5 miles at 24:30 (9:48/mile average) and crossed Mile 3 with an 8:34 split (I think this mile was a little short).

As I crossed the bridge back towards transition I could feel my legs reacting positively to the Enduralytes. Still, I decided that I needed to still run very conservatively and if need be, bleed away my lead on Bonjour for a while. Effectively, I had switched from racing my race to racing my competition. I thought if I ran a 5:00-5:05 marathon, which would put me just under 12 hours, that I would be able to hold off Bonjour—even if he had a career best IM run. In the back of my mind, I knew a 4:08 would put me under 11 hours and that a 4:27 would yield me a new PR, and that I felt like I was quite capable of running that fast, but I was very mindful of what happened to John and I decided I just didn’t want to risk it.

As I wound my way back down along-side transition, I saw Judy and explained to her as best as I could what was going on and that it was critical for me to understand if and how quickly Bonjour was gaining on me. I wanted to run conservatively as long as I could. Judy told me that neither Bonjour nor Pasquali had jumped off the bike yet and that my lead was a good one and she told me that I could do it.

At the next aid station I decided to eat 3 more Enduralytes and tried to drink some Perform (yuck) along with Coke. I wasn’t able to drink any appreciable amounts of Perform for the rest of the race—even the smell of it made my stomach turn. I felt stable and decided to try to run around a 10-minute mile pace, which felt very easy. Here are some of my next splits:

Mile 4: 9:30
Mile 5: 9:37
Mile 6: 10:20
Mile 7: 10:32
Mile 8: 10:06

Towards the end of my 9th mile, I finished my first of 3 laps and saw Judy under the Mill Street Bridge again. She confirmed that I was 47 minutes ahead of Bonjour and 74 up on Pasquali after T2. She also said that Bonjour had run the same time as I for the first 2.5 miles (he was in fact 10 seconds faster). She told me that Anders said to run 12 or 13 minute miles and I would be fine. I told her that I felt better but I was going to slow down a bit to make sure I kept my cramping under control.

I waved to Rob and then Troy and gang again. I ate 3 more Enduralytes (only 6 left, which was a concern but I reasoned if things got bad enough I could always walk for a while). Indeed, I decided to begin mixing in walking to protect my hamstrings—I’d run 6 light posts and then walk 1 or 2. I passed Spartycus when he was at about 1.5 miles of his run. I shouted encouragement to him. He said he was baked and I mentally calculated that he was heading for a 14+ hour IM.

Mile 9: 10:25
Mile 10: 10:15
Mile 11: 10:36

I hit the mid-lap timing mat for an elapsed time of 88:15 for the lap (9:48/mile average if you believe the 9 miles posted on the Ironman website. I think it was actually 8.7 miles so this would have been closer to 10:09/mile on average).

I crossed the bridge again and talked to Judy right around 13 miles or so. She had no new data and I told her I was feeling crampy again and running low on Enduralytes, but I seemed to be managing pretty well by staying conservative. I decided to slow down a bit more by mixing in more walking. I tried to take 3 more Enduralytes but couldn’t get them down—no matter how hard I tried. Oh boy, my stomach seemed to be a bit upset…Hmmmm.

Mile 12: 11:19
Mile 13: 12:05
Mile 14: 12:59
Mile 15: 12:58
Mile 16: 12:51
Mile 17: 12:07

I came back to the transition area and Judy told me that I had gained 7 minutes on Bonjour between mile 2.5 and 11.5! I was now 54 minutes ahead at 11.5 miles. I ran the math and knew that I could afford to go three and half minutes per mile slower than Bonjour and still be ok. I also knew, that he was going to have to go well under 10 minutes per mile, maybe even 9 if he wanted to catch me.

As I headed out on my 18th mile I took stock of my situation. I was having trouble getting anything but coke down. My legs felt crampy when I tried to run at around 10 minutes per mile for any extended length of time. However, I found I could intersperse walking here and there when it felt like they were about to cramp and it seemed to keep it under control. I also had to be careful on turns and stepping up and down curbs/bumps to avoid setting off cramping. I felt very on top of my race tactically. I ran two more conservative miles:

Mile 18: 12:30
Mile 19: 13:27

At one of the aid stations they broke out Chicken Broth and I was able to gulp down 10-15 ounces. This seemed to revive me. I would have it several more times during the remaining miles—it always seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. As I headed back across the Mill Street Bridge for the 3rd and final time I began to feel I could run a little harder and longer. I saw Judy and told her that: “I have my MOJO back, I’m breaking 12 hours, and we’re going to Kona”. She laughed and looked relieved—I think in part because I was feeling better and also because she no longer had to stay on top of my relative competitive situation.

Mile 20: 11:22
Mile 21: 11:59
Mile 22: 11:47

As I made the long climb out in the Park, I decided to walk up the hill and had a very pleasant conversation with a young lady just talking about triathlons in general and Ironman in particular. At the top of the hill, which coincided with Mile 23, I started running again:

Mile 23: 13:30
Mile 24: 12:03

As I crossed the lake for the sixth and final time I caught up to Pasquali who was now a lap behind me. I stopped and we walked arm-and-arm together for a couple of minutes talking about how hard IM are on us old guys. He congratulated me on my race (as I did he) and I was on my way heading to the finish line.

Mile 25: 12:36

I picked it up down the stretch and thought about my father (I had thought about him frequently throughout the race). I told him thanks for everything and that we had done it--together! I recorded a 10:58 for the 26th mile and I cruised around the transition area, pointed skyward and hit the finish line just as the clock hit 11:52:00. Officially, my total race time was 11:52:01 and my marathon time was 4:58:07. This is my 4th fastest IM marathon time:

1. IMWI 2006 4:30:00
2. IMFL 2004 4:51:56
3. IMFL 2007 4:58:03
4. IMAZ 2011 4:58:07
5. IMAUS 2008 5:04:14
6. IMGER 2010 5:44:34
7. IMCAN 2008 5:49:03
8. KONA 2010 5:52:24
9. IMWA 2005 6:34:17

This turned out to be my 3rd fastest IM and the fastest that I have run that wasn’t at IMFL:

1. IMFL 2007 11:19:22
2. IMFL 2004 11:31:29
3. IMAZ 2011 11:52:01
4. IMWI 2006 12:05:07
5. IMAUS 2008 12:28:55
6. IMCAN 2008 12:56:40
7. IMGER 2010 13:33:35
8. IMWA 2005 13:40:31
9. KONA 2010 13:49:17

For the run as a whole, I averaged 11:22/mile. This was 1210th (52.8 %-tile) OA and dropped me back 267 places to 745th (71.0 %-tile). I was 67th (60.4 %-tile) in the M50-54 AG and dropped 17 places to 36th (82.2 %-tile).

As for the most important competitive stat, I actually ended up posting the fastest run split in my XC group beating Bonjour by 1:55 on the marathon. I ended up posting the fastest splits in my XC group for all of the SBR legs and both transitions. My final margin of victory was 48:51.

Post Race

Judy was there to hug me at the finish line and put my medal around my neck. She helped me gather my things and walk the 3 blocks back to our hotel. I showered and had about 2 ounces of beer. We rested for a bit and then headed back over to the finish line where I was able to eat some mash potatoes—yummy! We waited for Sparty to cross the finish line which he did a few minutes before 15 hours, improving his PR by enough to claim the XC PR Kona slot. Nice—two Kona slots for little ol’ Delaware.

My final thoughts about the race:

1. I set out in the beginning of this year to dedicate my season to the memory of my father and in particular to race this race well and in his honor. It is very satisfying to nail this goal!
2. Back to Kona! I’m thrilled. Kona 2010 was the best experience of my triathlon career. I’m looking forward to going back and really trying to race it this time and see how much faster I can go on that course.
3. I think my training strategy for 2011 worked very well. Delaying my intensive IM build helped me peak at the end of the year and maintain my motivation and enthusiasm for training throughout the whole year. While, I didn’t get my PR at IMAZ, my Skipjack race late in the year certainly showed I was very fit—fit enough to have the potential of doing so at least.
4. I think I raced a smart race at IMAZ. I was conservative on the bike and when I had cramping on the run I was able to race tactically and seal the deal.
5. I obviously still have work to do on getting my hydration nailed. My last few IMs have been in very hot conditions and I always left the bike quite dehydrated. Clearly I proved in this race that there could indeed be too much of a good thing.
6. It was a big plus for me, both mentally/spiritually and tactically to have Judy there, with Anders backing her up. It was a real lift to see Judy as many times as I did during the race.
7. I made real progress on my run this year—even if I didn’t get a chanced to show it at IMAZ—and I’m eager to see what 2012 will bring in that discipline.
8. Hats off to Ironman and the XC guys in particular for yet another fantastic and well-run race.
9. Looking forward to a little R&R now before I turn my attention to 2012.

Finish Line Pic

I'm working on my race report and should have it up later today or tomorrow. Here is a pic of me crossing the finish line--feeling very satisfied!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

IMAZ+ 72 hours

Back home and it feels good to not have an Ironman Agenda at the moment. Spending my time on very pleasant household tasks, picking up kids at the airport, etc. Some work as well. all good.

I'm surprised by my fatigue at various points in the day. I can't be sure of course, but I think the impact of an IM is considerably greater at 54 years of age then it was when I was 47--yes I know no big insight there. anyways, I'm addressing the problem by napping and sitting a lot. Despite the fatigue, I feel remarkably good--not let's hammer good, but I have no problem physically acting as a normal citizen.

I spun easy on my trainer for an hour today. Felt good to flush the muscles out but I could certainly tell that I had a distinct lack of power...

I've assembled all of the computer data on my race and will begin the couple day process of writing my race report shortly. I'm also beginning to think a bit about 2012. What a luxury it is to be in November and to know that you are doing Kona the following October--it makes everything quite simple.

Early thoughts:

--I'll structure the whole season around peaking at Kona and trying to lay down as fast a race as I can....different than 2010 when I just wanted to experience Kona and get to the finish line. that's not to say that I'll be OK with not finishing--I won't, but I will RACE Kona in 2012 and try to get the best time I can.

--Because of that, and due to the success I enjoyed this year, I'll wait until late June or the first of July to get serious about real IM training--I think somewhere between a 12 and 16 week Kona build will be right again this year.

--I've signed up for Eagleman and am considering doing Mallorca with XC--just for the experience.

--I may also do IMAZ again next year--just 6 weeks after Kona...pros and cons to that...Kona 2013?...I need to think some more about that.

--I plan on climbing a couple of mountains with Anders and a couple of other folks next year--Baldy for sure.

--I plan on doing RAMROD--the Race around Mount Rainier--a 152 mile/10,000+ vertical bike race in July with my friend Bill.

--I'd like to do Cherry Blossom again if I can get past the lottery this year after two years of failure in doing so.

--I'll fill out the rest of the schedule soon....

all good--I love being at the end of a year having accomplished my objectives and having a whole new year to consider anything as a new is good!

Monday, November 21, 2011

All Hail Spartycus

I know anyone that actually reads my blog knows that they are captive to 24/7 me triathlon news--so bear with me while I do something different.

I want to post about my friend Dave Spartin--Sparty--or I think we should all change his nickname now to Spartycus!

So I've known Spartycus for a long time. He used to work for the "evil empire" at MBNA. I worked for the "good guys" at First USA. Of course, MBNA was the greatest credit card company of all time. Part of the reason for that was Spartycus. He worked long and hard and always was the voice of reason. As a result, he did really well from a job perspective but couldn't devote the time he wanted to doing physical things.

Tht all changed a number of years ago when MBNA was sold to B of A.

Spartycus and I began to hang out and to do triathlons together. I was the "master" and he the "apprentice". (Obviously all that know me should take pity on Dave as a result). Despite my guidance, Spartycus overcame a couple decade history of sitting around and began to excel in triathlon.

Spartycus did a couple of IMs and then this weekend was one of 17 competitors in the IMXC competition at IMAZ. There he recorded the best improvement in his PR--despite phenomenal obstacles--in fact he passed out at the finish line and was a welcome guest in the medical tent afterwards.

Because of this incredible journey, he won a well deserved trip to Kona for the 35th and 2012 IM World Championship in Hawaii.

I am so proud of him and so happy for what he has achieved.

I'm looking forward to 2012 when Delaware will have at least two Kona competitors!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tired but satisfied!

11:52:01. Won the 50-54 XC Kona slot so we will return to the Big Island next October.

I'll provide more details in my race report but here are the headlines:

Swim: I'm a bit baffled by my 78 minute swim. I felt good and hit the half way point at 35:06 and then pretty much drafted the whole way back. I guess i did not swim the ideal line....

Bike: solid effort. Split 1:45 on the first lap but next two were slower when the wind changed directions and intensified. Still 5:26 was very satisfying as I opened a 40+ minute gap on my main competitor. I passed 600 people on the bike. Over hydrated on the bike which almost led to disaster on the run.

Run: cramped badly 800 yards into the run...difficult to walk. I consumed 2/3 of my salt tabs to get it under control. Difficult management of cramps with limited salt and inability to keep down the IM Perform. Ran/walked tactically as Judy and Anders were giving me great real time data on my pursuers and I basically maintained my lead with a 4:58 run.

Not pretty but got the job done. Real gut check for me at times. I'm pleased I was able to respond and work through the unexpected challenges. 3rd fastest IM of my career so not to bad from a raw time perspective and I'm thrilled to have the privilege of racing at Kona again.

Tired and sore...but content...more later.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the ground here in Tempe

Flew out yesterday wtih Sparty and another DE triathlete, Mac Weymouth--everything is hunky-dory and good to go at this point. A couple of items:

1. Sparty and I rode the furthest most 6 miles (out and back for 12) of the course yesterday--this is the "hilliest" of part of the bike course. It strikes me as a very fast fast bike course. I had no problem holding 18 mph/200 watts going up hill on the steepest portion and was doing 25+ on the downhill at that power. The pavement is excellent on the beeline--although less so on the 5 mile part ner town. All and all--it seems like a course to post a good time.

2. Weather looks to be a lot "nicer" than originally forecasted. This is not necessarily to my advantage--while the weather will be way better than what I've had in my last 4 IMs it might be a little bit warmer than I would ideally like and the wind doesn't look to be that bad--more wind probably helps me. The water should be around 62 degrees which is really not an issue at the end of the day. Looks like no rain now.

3. Had a brake issue--my Zero-Gs really aren't build for the new 808FC wheels as the tolerance is too close. Plus the brakes are 5+ years old so they don't snap back like they used too. I felt I would be running the risk of periodic brake pad rub if I didn't deal with it so i swapped out my front caliper for a 105 caliper--while this will cause me a 200 gram penalty I felt the peace of mind was worth it.

4. Ran a few miles yesterday evening--lots of concrete but I can endure 26 miles of it....legs feel pretty good although hard to tell with "taper funk" going on.

5. Met all of my competition--nice fellows.

6. Good to go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All packed and ready to go

Well, IMAZ time is drawing nigh...I head off to Tempe early tomorrow morning with my bud, Sparty. Certainly feeling a need to get this thing done!

Physically, I'm mired in what I think is a classic taper funk. All sorts of wierd little niggles. My elbow is a disaster and will have to be dealt with in the off-season, but I should be able to get around the course on Sunday without it being a major limiter--albeit, I'm sure it will be quite sore. I went for a run yesterday in NYC--3.5 miles and felt sluggish and crappy.

I know this is fairly typical, but not confidence building none-the-less. I do take heart in what my former coach, Peter Reid said about the week before an IM--you want to and should feel like crap--that's the way you know the body has shut down to effect rest and repair--I remember in 2007 I had an awesome run early in the week before IMFL and Pete was not happy about it--and sure enough, I had a very poor run this must be good news right?

Weather looks cool, breezy and potentialy with some rain. While not necessarily conducive to a fast bike split, it is none-the-less probably a competitive plus for me--anything that makes the bike slower for everyone is generally relatively good for me--given my bike strength. The cool weather should be a real plus for me on the run. I don't think that it's a coincidence that my 3 fastest IM runs and IM overall times were during relatively cool events (IMFL04, IMWI05, IMFL07). The water is sitting at 60 degrees so I'll probably opt for my Axis wetsuit, which is a little bit slower than my Helix but considerably more comfortable in cold water.

So where am I at mentally? For an externally/objective point of view--I need to win the M50+ XC AG and secure a Kona slot. Anything less can reasonably be judged a failure on my part. I've only been to Kona once (although, my career objective was to get there just once--anything else is gravy) but I do have a real good chance this Sunday. The way XC works, as I age, I'll become increasing less competitive as the oldest AG has been 50+. I'll be 55 next year and I can tell you, those 5 years do make a real difference. On paper, I do look like the favorite. I've raced 3 of my 4 competitors before and have never lost to them. The other fellow has not posted IM/IM70.3 times close to my best. That said, my Italian competitor and I raced each other back at IMFL in 2007 where we both set PRs--we were very competitive with each other:

Swim: RC: 66:16 vs. PP: 66:48
T1: RC: 5:09 vs. PP: 5:06
Bike: RC: 5:06:14 vs. PP: 5:10:15
T2: RC: 3:33 vs. PP: 1:43
Run: RC: 4:58:03 vs. PP: 4:52:03
Total: RC: 11:19:22 vs. PP: 11:20:20

So I was just 58 seconds faster. Of course since then I have gotten progressively slower in MY IM times--but so has PP--here is a comparison of the 4 IM that we have each done since then:

RC: IMAUS08: 12:28:55 vs. PP: IMLP08: 13:58:02
RC: IMCAN08: 12:56:40 vs. PP: IMFL08: 12:47:39
RC: IMGER10: 13:33:35 vs. PP: IMAZ09: 14:06:36
RC: KONA10: 13:49:15 vs. PP: IMSWI10: 13:49:50

So I think it looks like a toss-up, with perhaps a slight edge to me....

I'd also, from an external validation perspective, like to race fast again--I'm not happy with the above trend-line and it sure would be nice to post something faster than my last 4 races....

But having said all of this, I've really come to the conslusion that qualifying for Kona and going fast at the end of the day, are NOT what is most important to me. I really am eager to get out there and race intelligently and when the pain comes latter in the day, stand up to it, surrender myself to it, not judge myself by the clock or my competitors--in fact not judge myself--but rather strive to stay in the moment--every moment--and find a new place where I master the pain and truly reach a place much closer to my true potential--whatever that is. If I can really do that--then whatever else happens I'll be OK with (although I wouldn't object to going fast and getting a KQ!).

To paraphrase Anatoli Boukreev--the great Russian Mountaineer: " The Ironman is NOT the Stadium in which I seek triumph and achievement, it is the Cathedral in which I practice my religion"

Monday, November 14, 2011

On wounded wing

Over the last couple of months I've had a modestly irritating and increasing pain in my left elbow. This pain was definitely affected by swimming volume--over 10k in a week or 3k in a session and it starts to get pretty sore. I've actully modified my stroke a bit--I usually do a "S" stroke but have, on my left side changed to pull mostly straight back--this puts less twisting torque on my elbow and seems to help a bit.

I don't think this will have any sort of significant impact on my race on Sunday--might slow me down just a little but I should get through the swim, albeit with a sore elbow. Come December though I'll need to see an elbow doc and find out what's going on and get it fixed--I'm pretty sure that it couldn't handle a full (300-400k yards) season of tri training the way it is now....

Inside of 6 days now--feeling some butterflies but will focus on finding my calm, centered place....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One week to go--tapering away

Taper week went as planned. Here are the totals:

swim: 6500 yards
bike: 107 miles
run: 14.5 miles
time: 10:54

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We went to the Metropolitan Opera last night at Lincoln Center to see the Phillip Glass Opera: "Satyagraha". This is an opera focused on the early years of Gandhi. The term "Satyagraha" was his name for non-violent civil disobediance....certainly a timely topic! I enjoyed the Opera, especially it's minimilistic score--it's droning, repetive scalar runs--I could imagine running to the score...very repretitive.

In any event, while the Opera was sung in Sanskrit, there were frequent visual translations into English. Several of the quotes spoke to me, especially as I think about my coming Ironman:

"Hold pleasure and pain, profit and loss, victory and defeat to be the same: then brace yourself ready for the fight."

"Whence comes this faintness on you now at this crisis hour?"

"Between theory and practice, some talk as they were two--making a separation and a difference between them. Yet wise men know that both can be gained in applying oneself wholeheartedly to one. For the high estate attained by men of contemplative theory, that same state achieve the men of action. So act as the ancient of days old, performing works was a spiritual exercise."

"Do the allotted task for which one is fit, for work is more excellent than idleness and the body's life proceeds not, lacking work."

'When he casts off attachment to his deeds, a man embarks on his work ever content, on none dependent."

"The world is not for the doubting man."

"Whoever gives up a deed because it causes pain, or because he shrinks from bodily pain, follows the way of darkness, knowing nothing of self-surrender."

OK--I know this is a little deep for a nerdy triathlon blog....but it worked for me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


So, I'm now firmly committed to my Tweak/Taper or Tweaper phase. This seems to be a much maligned phase--everyone complains how out of sorts they feel, that they are getting "fat", etc. I've certainly felt that in times past.

The way i currently do this is a bit of an evolution. I've certainly incorproated a lot of what I learned from Peter Reid in 2007--in fact, many of my workouts over the next 2 weeks are exactly the same as I did in that two week period leading up to IMFL07. However, I have changed a few things. firstly, I don't "taper" for 3 weeks--just 14 days. Secondly, I don't give up coffee--life's too short!

In fact, I really don't think of this period as really a taper--which implies diminishing one's workouts. While, my volume certainly goes down--very substantially--I think of this period is one of gaining. Gaining readiness to race. I'm looking to add, not subtract over the next two weeks. I'm not looking to add fitness--that cake is baked at this point. But I'm looking to add to my readiness to get the most that I can out of the fitness that I've built.

This readiness involves building my confidence. Building my motivation to really go deep on the 20th. Resting, so I have loads of energy. Stretching and working a bit on my core so I'm ready to assume the position for 5+ hours on the bike. Eating well and not so I gain weight with a big cut back in hours. Working on a lot of short, higher intensity stuff so from a neuromuscular perspective I'm primed to be very efficient. Visualizing--all that can go right and all that can go wrong and how I'll react. Getting my gear together. Getting my team ready to support me.

It's really tweaking upward my ability to reach my full potential. Even while I taper my hours. Tweapering!

For example. Two workouts I did today were a 6.5-mile run that included two 10 minute segments at 7:00-7:15/mile and a 45 minute computrainer session that included 5 X 90sec at 315 watts/3.5 minutes easy as well as two 5 minute spins at 115-120 rpm. Both of these are high intensity (for me) but not that long--so I feel great (powerful) and not depleted at the end.

Anyways--another week in the books:

Swim: 8200 yards
Bike: 211 miles
Run: 27 miles
Time: 19:42

Next week the plan is for right around 10 hours of training--with 1 or 2 complete rest days.....bring it on!

Two weeks to go

First extended forecast for Tempe: Hi of 72 degrees and low of 49 degrees. sunny. Lots can change between now and then but I'm down with that! Water Temp is 65 degrees this morning--which would be perfect!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

At the Shore

Getting the beach house ready for hibernation. Nice dinner last night with Joey and Kristen.

I swam yesterday in the bay. 57 degrees. There is a fine line between commitment and obsession....i may have crossed it!

Did a 4 mile run right at 9 min/mile and my HR stayed in the 130s....that is a very encouraging sign indeed!

Friday, November 4, 2011

So--why should I think its going to be different this time?

I've completed eight prior IM races. My best was a 11:19 at IMFL in 2007. However, I've never felt that I actually raced any of them up to my full potential. I'm hoping that IMAZ will be different. Is there anything besides hope I could hang my hat on? I think so. The chart below shows a graph of my monthly training hours back to 2007. The chart shows a trailing three-month average (to smooth the chart out). Also on the chart, I've indicated where my last five IM occurred (IMFL07, IMAUS08, IMCAN08, IMGER10, Kona10). Note how in each of these races my training hours peaked long before the race and were declining significantly in the last few months bfore the race. Contrast that to the current situation where I have built over time:

Next you can see my monthly swim volume--note the same story as total training hours--a stronger trend for this year. While my agregate swim volume is lower in 2011, my recent swim volume is actually higher:

The pattern repeats with respect to my bike training. Note how much more bike miles I have coming into 2011 than I did in prior years--especially leading into IMFL07:

Finally, with respect to my run. You can clearly see the impact of mid-year injury in 2011 and how I've bounced back quite nicely since. My 2011 run volumes are comprable to 2007 and better than 2008-2010:

So this is no guarantee I'll have that breakthrough IM this time. But my training entering this IM is clearly stronger than it has been in the past--at the very least, this shouldn't be a negative!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

sorta, kinda starting my taper now

Put in 4 hours today--jack of all trades. Easy spin on the trainer. Weights/Stretching. Ran a solid 6.5 miles mixed road and trail. THEN, did a IM TT swim.

Fastest swim on the build. 33:40/34:58/68:38. Very challenging. I used the fact that this was the last of my big 30 workouts to drive to the end. I really muscled it. A friend of mine watched for a while and she told me my form was pretty crappy. All turnover and not enough length. I think this is very valid criticism. the fact is I'm tired from 75+ hours over the last three weeks--very big block at the end of a big build.

But hey, I did it! 10 swims of more than 1 hour--most at IM distance. 10 bikes of 5-7 hours--most at IM distance or longer. 10 runs of 2+ hours--the last 3 17 miles or over.

The cake is baked. Time to take it out of the oven and let it cool a bit--before we eat it!

I'm heading to the shore tomorrow and intend to do an open water swim in my wetsuit--at least a half-IM distance (water is 58 degrees.....). Plus I might race a 5k this weekend so not fully into taper mode but for sure I'll be there come Monday. Defintely into tweaking now--no more fitness to build!

I hope that I've built enough!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Final long ride before the dance

On my BMC TT01 at 7:30 am this morning. Treated to a 33-degree start. Was basically an ice-cube until about 9:30....brrrrrr!

This was my 10th and final long ride of my 13 week IM build. As intended, this was shorter than the last 5-6 rides. I rode 92.6 miles in a little over 5 hours. Here is a summary of my avg. power by 5 mile segments during the ride:

1-5: 196 watts
6-10: 186
11-15: 182
16-20: 182
21-25: 181
26-30: 178
31-35: 183
36-40: 178
41-45: 187
46-50: 191
51-55: 188
56-60: 185
61-65: 170
66-70: 181
71-75: 186
76-80: 178
81-85: 178
86-90: 173
90+: 174

Average for the ride was 182.

Definitely ready for a taper!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October in the bank!

Up at 4:33 am to SBR before my morning train up to NYC. October is in the bank:

Swim: 40,300 yards
Bike: 1105 miles
Run: 177 miles
Time: 108 hours

Obviously a very big month. This is the second highest training hours I've recorded over the 59 months that I've been keeping track--My high was 111 hours in March 2008 when I did a Tuscon training camp for 17 days with Peter Reid et al.

This is the most swim yards I've done this year and the highest since January 2010. My run mileage is my second highest--my high was 181 miles in December of 2007.

Of course 2007 was my best triathlon year and was the year I set my PRs at the H-IM and IM distances. Here is how my volume over the last three months compares to a similar period in 2007:

Swim: 111,000 vs. 129,000. Down 14 %
Bike: 3,123 vs. 2,262. Up 38%
Run: 434 vs. 355. Up 22%
Time: 286 vs. 242. Up 18%

Hopefully this will translate into similar or perhaps a better performance at IMAZ!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last "big" week before AZ--no drama to report!

I'm now under 21 days to race day. As I mentioned, this week was designed to be modestly lower volume, in aggregate and on my long bike/run, than last week. I pretty much executed my training plan despite my nagging cold. I missed one swim workout as the pool was closed for "electrical" problems on Thursday. Anyways--here's the data for the week:

swim: 8700 yards
bike: 267 miles
run: 43 miles
time: 26:20

I completed my 10th (and final) long run during this IM build: 17 miles in 2:26

I completed my 9th long bike (102 miles) and 9th long swim (4200 yards) as well.

This week will see a further reduction--probably to around 20 hours with a long ride of 100 miles or so and one last IM TT swim. Then I'll jump into a proper 2-week taper.

My body feels pretty good given the volume this month. I've plateaued now on my bike and swim and definitely will benefit from the rest/consolidation that a taper affords. Strangely enough, I believe that my run continues to improve....who woulda thought it? No injuries to bother discussing.

On plan!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Swim today

Did my 9th IM TT swim today in 69:10. My splits were 34:07 and 35:03. Last week I did 34:04/35:14/69:18. so my last four swims have been: 71:10, 68:45, 69:18 and 69:10.

I detect a plateau here--which of course is fine and not unexpected. This is about as far as I can expect to get swimming 7-10k per week. I seem to be locked in to a 68-71 zone, which I would be completely fine with at IMAZ.

One more long swim next week--mostly trying to maintain and not tweak my tender left elbow--will mostly do modest volume interval work and technique focused swimming....Probably 10k this week and next then down to 5-6 2 weeks out and jusgt 3-4k race week....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Biggest week behind me--4 to go!

My virus/cold continues to plague me--especially at night, but it really hasn't been enough of a bother to slow me down. I missed a couple of my w/os this week but by and large executed my big IM-prep training week this week. Totals for the week:

swim: 10,700 yards
bike: 349 miles
run: 42.5 miles
time: 31:02

My long w/os were:

swim: 4200 yards @ 69:18
bike: 120 miles @ 6:56
run: 20 miles @ 2:56

A couple of other comments:

-I've now completed 8 long swims/8 long bikes/9 long runs during this IM build--I should be able to get to my goal of 10/10/10 over the next two weeks
-My long w/os will be a bit shorter this and next week on the bike and run
-My swim splits were 34:04 and 35:14. My overall swim time was 33 seconds slower than last week, but I did this long swim on the 4th of 4 consecutive swim days and the prior week I did it after 3 days of no swimming--so, I'll take it. Also, I don't think I pushed quite as hard this week.
-My run was great. Also, I did the 42.5 miles in just 4 runs--I took 3 days off from running so my legs feel quite good this evening--should be able to hit another big run week next week.

Looking good at this point!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Month to go--the time of risk and reward

So a month from now, I will be 10 hours into my IMAZ journey. Hopefully, I'll be on my last run lap, but that could be wishful thinking. I'll probably know by now if I'm nabbing a Kona slot. I'll certainly know if I'm definitely not!

So these next three weeks: 5,4, and 3 weeks out are pretty critical for my Ironman build. They are all intended to be heavy workload weeks with multiple race specific simulations--either duration or intensity (and in the case of swimming-both at the same time). If done correctly, I can tweak up my fitness and hit that "mythical" fitness peak for my IMAZ race on November 20th. If I cross the line, and it's easy to do, I could get injured, sick or over-trained.

I had a very heavy week two weeks ago, 7 weeks out, and backed off last week to absorb it and due to lots of life obligations. I entered this week feeling a need to execute a very big training week. As luck would have it, on Sunday, I finally came down with the virus that has been plauging Judy for the last 10 days--aghhhh! Not great timing for sure, but I'm glad it's not race week.

I woke up very early on Monday with a decision to make--do I execute the day's workout plan (a long ride) or try to nurse my head cold, sore throat, achey body? I decided to give the ride a shot and headed out well before sunrise for what I hopped to be the longest ride of the year. As I rode, I felt better and better and decided to go for the whole ride--I hit the turnaround at 60 miles averaging 18.7 mph so I was satisfied. Then the wind came up--25+mph--and I slogged through challenging conditions taking 6:56 to complete the 120 miles. I was pretty whipped.

I made it through Tueesday's workouts fine and awoke at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday to get my 3 hours in before taking a train to NYC where I worked all day. I was quite exhausted Wednesday night and hacked and sneezed most of Wednesday night.

Despite this, I went after a pretty big day again today and as the day went on I felt really good--I think maybe I am turning the corner on my illness. I must say, I felt a real resevoir of strength in my workouts is what I did today:

45 minutes of weights/stretching
9 miles of running at 8:15/mile--I felt really good on this run!
Half-Ironman swim at IM level of effort--took me 33:15
52.5 mile cruise interval workout on my Computrainer--putting aside my warm-ups and warm-downs, I repeated 15 minutes at 210 watts (a little above my IM power target) and 5 minutes at 130 watts as recovery. I averaged 191 watts for the whole affair. This whole effort felt very controlled for me--wouldn't call it easy--3 hours on a computrainer never is.

I have over 18 hours in already this week. I have my big swim tomorrow and my longest run on the year this weekend. Hoping to stay the course!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week arear and ahead

AS I mentioned previously--i really backed off this week to deal with a lot of competingpriorities and to let my body recover from and absorb the volume of the prior week. Here is what that looked like:

swim: 7700 yards
bike: 143 miles
run: 24 miles
time: 14:49

I wouldn't be surprised if my volume next week is double this--time wise at least. I'm reasonably rested and with 5 weeks to go I need to put in a very heavy 17-21 day block. I'm kicking things off tomorrow a bit before sunrise and hopefully completing the longest ride of the season....

In the red zone now!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The essence of Ironman?

I've been reading Fitzgerald's "Ironwar" and keep coming back to this quote which really speaks to me about my experience when I am racing an Ironman--here it is---what do you think?:

"In the hardest moments of a long race, the athlete's entire conscious experience boils down to a desire to continue pitted against a desire to quit. He is no longer a son or a father or a husband. He has no social roles or human connections whatsoever. He is utterly alone. He no longer has any possessions. There is no yesterday and no tomorrow, only now. The agony of extreme endurance fatigue crowds out every thought and feeling except one: the goal of reaching the finish line. The sensations within the body--burning lungs, screaming muscles, whole-body enervation--exist only as the substance of the desire to quit. What little of the external environment that the athlete is aware of--the road ahead, the competitor behind, the urgings of onlookers--exists only as the substance of the desire to continue. The desire to continue versus the desire to quit--the athlete is this and this alone until he choses one or the other. And when the choice is made, he briefly becomes either persevering or quitting until, after he has stopped at the finish line or, God forbid, short of it, the stripped-away layers are piled back on and he becomes his old self again. Only not quite. He is changed, for better or worse."

Truth my friends--gives me chills!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

cooling it this week

Lots going on. Monday drive back from Boston. big Extreme Bocce tournament this weekend--which is a blast but a ton of work (and takes all day Saturday). Body also quite tired from last week's training load. Further, I slipped on one of my trail runs (lots of rain) and strained my right hamstring--nothing serious but I decided to be cautious with my running this week.

So this week will be quite light volume-wise...less than I planned and would like to have. But, I think its the right call and my guess is that I'll be able to deliver a heavy training week next week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In the pool today

Took an easy day yesterday, training wise. We all went up this past weekend to visit Anders at HBS and spent 6 hours driving home yesterday. I probably needed an easy day--in any event, I was very stiff getting out of the car when we arrived back in DE.

I did an easy bike/run today and jumped in the pool and swam an IM distance swim TT.

Last week I did 70:10 and today I did 68:45. I'm not sure that today's swim was indicative of more fitness/readiness to swim. The swim last week was very controlled--I felt very strong at the end. Today, I humped it. I was quite tired at the end--although, I was quite tired at the beginning as well. If I actually thought that I could "take it easy" and all it cost me was 1:25 I'd be in an a heartbeat! Not sure i completely buy it. I'm going to experiment a bit in my long swims over the next three weeks to really dial in my optimal race intensity for IMAZ.

One thing for sure is I'm more than fast enough on the swim--time to back off a bit. I'll still do my long swim--hopefully each week. I won't do the long intense interval w/os I planned down the stretch (such as 15X200 or 6X500) Instead, I'll do stuff like 3X500 or 6X200 or 15X100. I want to try to swim 4-5 times a week. One of these sessions may be primarily focused on technique. My long swims may go up to 5000+ yards to build strength . I think strength (over distance and paddles) and technique (frequency and drills) are what I need now--not high-end threshold speed....

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekly stats

Solid IM build week!

Swim: 10,200 yds
Bike: 245.4 miles
Run: 51.5 miles
Time: 26:01

I've had bigger weeks with respect to the swim, bike and training time totals, but it's been a long time since my body has been able to run that many miles. My prior biggest week this year was 44.8 miles--back in early March. In fact over the last five years that I have tracked my mileage, this week represents a new high water mark for me run wise. I've only been over 50 miles once before--back in March of 2007 when I had a week of 51 miles.

Very encouraging!

I was able to get a long workout of each flavor as well:

swim: 4200 yards (70:10)
bike: 112.1 miles (6:14)
run: 17.0 miles (2:26)

During m build I've now had 6 long swims, 7 long rides, and 8 long runs. I have a good shot at hitting my goal of 10 of each before IMAZ.

Next week will likely be a bit easier, especially run wise.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Long ride-finally!

Lots of moving parts this week but Tuesday's long ride happened today. 112.1 miles over 6:14 (18.0 mph average). It was 41 degrees when i started and 75 when I finished. wind was blowing (in my face for the last 1.5 hours). Clothes and temp management was the big challenge. Just hit 17 miles in the first hour. Hours 3-5 I was solid in the 19+ zone. Good ride. No new data though. I'm in good IM bike shape and 112 miles is a very long way to ride--we already knew that! I'm spent tonight!

Go Phillies!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There's a party in my head!

Laying into a big week now.

Yesterday did an IM swim time trial in the pool in 70:10. I had not swam in 4 days so I suppose I was well rested. I did about a 95% of race effort swim--very comfortable. My biggest issue in the swim was just staying focused for the 168 laps.... I absolutely think I can swim a comfortable 68 minute swim at IMAZ--and that my friends is all I need!

I was going to go 6.5 hours on the bike today but I decided with the very strong winds forecasted for today as well as some wotk obligations to switch out my Tu and Th workouts. So today I ran long.

I did my longest run since Kona (which was this time last year) and ran a very strong 17 miles in 2:26--could have easily done a marathon today! Over the last 7 days--since I had to take 3 days off with my blisters post SkipJack, I have run 51 miles!

I completed my 3 injection sequence yesterday and today was drama free from a knee perspective--yes!

I broke out my ipod for my long run today--I have been music free for the last 6 weeks--trying to save it for the big push ahead of me and I have to say the experience was amazing. The weather was midto high 50s. I parked my car in the middle of a figure eight trail run so i could hit the gatorade every half hour or so--beautiful. The music really helped.

I had my "Chemistry" mix on--which is a 6 hour chemical Brothers mix--which I put in shufffle mode. Brilliant experience! I'll give you a taste with some lyrics from "Galvanize":

Don't hold back...

Cause you woke up in the mornin, with initiative to move, so why make it harder...

Don't hold back...

If you think about it, so many people do, be cool man, look smarter....

Don't hold back...

And you shouldnt even care, bout those losers in the air, and their crooked stares...

Don't hold back...

Cause there's a party over here, so you might as well be here, where the people care...

Don't hold back...

Dont hold back...

If you think about it too much, you may stumble, trip up, fall on your face...

Don't hold back...

You think its time you get up, crunch time, like a sit up, come on keep pace...

Don't hold back...

Put apprehension on the back burner, let it sit, dont even get it lit...

Don't hold back...

World, the time has come to...

Push the button...

World, the time has come to...

Push the button...

World, the time has come to...

Push the button...

World, my finger, is on the button...

My finger, is on the button...

My finger, is on the button...

Push the button...

The time has come to...


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week totals

Decent given limitations:

swim: 9000 yds
Bike: 229 miles
run: 31 miles
time: 22:37

Heavy week coming up!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thinking about my IMAZ bike split

I know its very dangerous to set and adhere to time goals in an Ironman--overall or on any of the three splits. How I feel on race day, the conditions, etc may very well dictate a modification of my level of effort.

That said, I have enough data to make an educated guess at this point.

Back in 2007, I biked a 2:24 at Eagleman and a 5:06 at IMFL. I think these courses are similar and I think the conditions on race days were reasonably comparable. I averaged 223 watts for the half and 211 watts for the IM. I ran well off my H-IM bike but I had a disappointing run at IMFL. The ratio between my AP at IMFL and EM was 211/223=0.95. Most knowledgeable long-course coaching types say that your bike should be in the 80-85% of FTP range for a Half and 70-75%. This implies that your watts in an Ironman should be about 87.5% of your watts at a H-IM (all things being equal). This says I probably should have averaged 195 watts at IMFL and not the 211 I did average--perhaps riding 10/15 minutes slower would have saved me 30+ minutes on my run.

I just did a 2:29:30 H-IM equivalent at SkipJack (my average pace over 66 miles adjusted to 56 miles). SkipJack is predominantly on the Eagleman course. I think the conditions were a little slower at SkipJack than they were back at EM in 2007. I averaged 221 watts for the 56 miles and ran about as well as I could hope to run given my current fitness (8:10/mile). Also, I actually rode at a higher output (225 watts) over the last half of the race so i feel like 221 watts is a good number for my H-IM power traget.

so, if I take 87.5% of that I get an power target of 193 watts for the IM distance. Given the cubic relationship between power and speed this would imply that my average speed would be 4.6% slower than I did at SkipJack. I averaged 22.47mph at SkipJack so this suggests that if I averaged 193 watts for a similar IM, I 'd average 21.5mph.

Now, IMAZ has the long, gradual climb (and descent) that you take three times and it's logical to assume that it's a slower course than Skipjack/EM or IMFL. To determine how much slower, I took the 100th and 500th fastest times at both IMAZ and IMFL over the last three years and compared them (I was 245th at IMFL07). The snswer I get is the 100th fastest bike split was 3.2% slower at iMAZ (compared to IMFL) and the 500th was 3.4% slower. So, I'll estimate that IMAZ is 3.3% slower thn IMFL, all things else being equal. This turns my 21.5 mph into 20.8mph. This translates into an estimated IMAZ time for me of 5:23.

5:23 seems like a reasonable number and wouldn't kill my chances of getting to Kona. Of course, if raceday conditions are a lot worse then, this calculation is not valid. That said, it's possible that conditions might be a little better than we had at SkipJack and I could actully go a little faster.

The other thing I plan on doing is raising my FTP by 5-10 watts in October with a lot of Computrainer time--I think this is doable and this might give me the option of riding at closer to 200 watts on race day.

In any event, I'd say a best guess of 5:15-5:30 is probably pretty good right now....

I'll return to this topic in the last few days before the race.

September Monthly Training Volume

September totals were depressed due to my need to back off a bit early in the month after a very big August and lots of non-Triathlon challenges. Also, I raced two long course races in September and this also affected my volume--most recently the blisters I suffered at SkipJack have limited my efforts this week.

In any event, here are the numbers:

Swim: 36,000 yards
Bike: 806 miles
Run: 110 miles
Time: 77 hours

Looking ahead--I plan for October to be a very big training month--high volume, perhaps not as much as August, but more intensity. No triathlons--all eyes are on IMAZ now!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The road ahead.....

51 days....7+ weeks to IMAZ. Lots of miles over the transom--where do we stand, and what does the road ahead look like?

My body/fitness/injuries

I think I'm in a very good place now. I had a very big August. I crashed a bit during the first two weeks of September--big training volume was part of the issue, but large and persistant "life" stresses were perhaps even more so.

IM70.3WC was just a case of me scuffling through...that was 9/11...glad I did it (as an experience) but i was not in any position to really race....

recovered the week after and then had a very encouraging training week...

killed SkipJack--definitely a surprise how strong I was!

So...where are we?

Injury wise I think I'm good to go. My knee shut me down for 4-5 weeks in May and June but with the injection cycle in June and this new one (which will be completed this coming Monday) my knee has responded in a truly excellent way--right now, I do not have knee problems--nor do I expect them to be a factor at all in preparing for and racing IMAZ--at the end of the day, this is the most importnt thing on my fitness docket right now!

My Psoas muscle issues have dimisnished enough to take them off the list and my plantar fascitis seems to have recceded to the point of just being a minor irritant some mornings.

I spent 4 dys dea\ling with SEVERE blisters (post Skipjack)--I definitely had to cut back--no running and only light biking but hopefully, I'm ready to move on.

Summary: I have no limiting injuries right now!

My best, most objective analysis, tells me tht I am in better long course shape right now than in any time in my career with the exception of 2007. My race this past weekend was (from my perspective) a very big deal in terms of validating my fitness and my fitness building strategy.

My fitness is still improving. My motivation to improve is at an all-time high. I'm not at the peak I had in 2007 but this just might be a bettert scenario, given my hungriness to get better. We'll see...

I have a lot of work obligations and so am camping up in NYC for 2-5 days and swim impacts for sure but hopefully i can run alot....I'm definitely behind my training plan--run wise so that would be good....we'll see....

I wanted to race this weekend or next but life commitments tell me no. so it's all training until the big event--probably for the best when you step back and look at the big picture.

Until I taper, here is how I plan to roll:

-big volume--probably in the 22-26 hours/week range
-3 key bike rides: long (6+ hours), hard (2-3 hours above IM race intensity), neromuscular training--efficiency--I'll ride every day but the other rides must not interfer with the three key rides....
-4/5 swims: 2 key ones--1 of 4000+ yards and one of 3000-4000 yards of long and hard intervals...the rest is optional--not doing them, but how hard I do them
-run--need to be in the 30-50 mpw zone--1 long run and 1 tempo/race/interval wo per week--the rest is filler
-lots of work but easier easy days to make sure I kill the hard stuff....
-Of course' my body or schedule may dictate otherwise....

we'll see but right now I like my chances!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Went through 20,000 page hits yesterday--exactly 200 days after hitting 10,000 back on March 10th. conveniently, that averages out to 50 per day--thanks for the interest

Monday, September 26, 2011

Skipjack Race Report

2011 Skipjack LC Triathlon Race Report
September 24th, 2011


Location: Cambridge, MD
Distance: 1.2-mile swim/66-mile bike/10-mile run
2011 Triathlon Race Number: 13
Career Triathlon Race Number: 113
Conditions: Overcast with periodic light rain, 10-20 mph wind, mid 60s-low 70s, and a 72-degree water temperature.

This is the inaugural version of this “Half-Ironman like” long course triathlon. It is part of the ChesapeakeMan Triathlon Festival, which includes an IM, an IM Aqua-Velo, and a sprint triathlon as well. The swim is a normal 1.2-mile affair. The bike however is longer (driven by the need to also stage an IM bike on the same course). The bike course was advertised as 64 miles but I had two GPS devices with me and they both had it as 65.94 miles. The run was GPSed at 10.02 miles—so pretty much spot on in distance.

The race was at the mid-point of my 16-week IMAZ build/taper Meso-cycle. I was at the tail end of a strong training week, which included a 100+ mile bike and a 14-mile training run (my total training time for the week was over 21 hours with about 8000 yards of swimming, 250 miles of biking and 32 miles of running). I certainly was not rested/tapered but I did feel pretty good on race morning. This was in sharp contrast to the prior two weeks where an aggressive 5-week build block (and a lot of life obligations) had left me quite tired. So much so, that 13 days prior I had just gone through the motions at a desultory IM70.3 WC race in Las Vegas (6:06 Half-Ironman).

On this morning however, I was ready to go for it and fact felt a bit of a need to “prove” to myself that I was indeed gaining fitness and was well positioned in my build for IMAZ.
The race had 120 people entered in it and 11 in my AG. In fact only 80 would start with 9 folks in my 50-54 YO AG. The weather was horrible in the days leading up to the race with a constant and frequently intense rain and the weather forecast called for more so I suspect many folks bailed as a result.

I drove down on Friday afternoon and went through all my normal pre-game activities for a LC triathlon and happily lay down by 10 p.m. and had a pretty decent rest. I was up at 4:30 for PB&J and all set to rock by my 8:10 a.m. mass start.

The Swim

T1 and the swim are located adjacent to the Eagleman site, but the swim had us heading off in the opposite direction from the park and is generally less susceptible to tidal influence than the EM swim course. I watched the IM race head off at 7 a.m. and decided I would position myself to the right on the buoy line (clock-wise course—not my favorite) so I could watch the other competitors. With only 80 folks in the race, I figured it would be a piece of cake to find clean water if I needed it.

At the gun I stayed hard right and felt that the other faster swimmers were drifting too far left (who knows if this is true or not, but that was my judgment based on my sight lines.) I could see I was in the top group of swimmers but that there were definitely some stronger swimmers than I. I tried to keep track of my placing and guessed that I was 7th or so but it was difficult to judge with the slower IM swimmers engaged in their second lap and with the modest wind-driven chop.

I basically swam the whole course by myself without any drafting benefit. This was not my intent, but it always seemed to me that the other folks in my race were too far to the left. So no drafting benefit in this race. On the plus side, I had a very relaxing and uneventful swim.

I felt like I was having a B+ kinda’ swim. I felt good, and very comfortable—I knew I could go faster but I did feel like I was having a solid swim. I navigated well and soon enough found myself heading towards the boat ramp, which is the exit of the swim.

Finally, I felt my hand hit the ramp and gingerly stood up. My pre-race recon told me that the ramp was covered in very slippery seaweed and I tried to grab the wall to the left to help myself climb up. This was for naught and I slipped and fell very hard on the concrete directly on my right hip (I have a nice bruise to show for it). It was a pretty violent fall but I think my wetsuit helped me avoid any serious issues—although I was concerned about my hip all the way until I hit the run course). I picked myself up finally and hit my watch at the top of the ramp and recorded a 33:16 swim split with an average HR of 151 bpm. This is a pretty solid time and only 31 seconds slower than my best ever H-IM swim time. My HR indicates I took in easier than I could have gone so it is a really positive result from a fitness perspective. In any event, it was a marked improvement from my 44+ minute swim in Las Vegas.

I had the 8th best swim OA (91.3 %-tile…which I believe is my highest LC swim %-tile in my career). Here is what the leaderboard looked like after the swim:

1. Adams --------
2. Joubert + 0:13
3. Hanna + 3:25
4. Saksa + 4:28
5. Courtney + 4:47
8. Christofferson + 6:36

From an AG perspective, I had the top swim out of the 9 competitors. Here is where we stood:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson + 0:39
3. Jagoditis + 6:01

Transition One

As I ran away from the swim exit I tried to banish the thoughts of my fall and my hip from my mind. The T1 situation in this “festival” is way over-engineered. I understand why. CTA—which runs the race—puts on two huge events each year—Columbia and Eagleman—so they are used to dealing with tons of athletes and dealing with them in a “M-dot” way. That is not this race.

None-the-less, we had to wait for the volunteers to bring us our bags and then enter the changing tent—where we had to empty our bags, do our thing, and then re-pack our T1 bag with all of our swim stuff (the latter was necessary because T1 and T2 were 5 miles apart and they had to transport our swim stuff there for our pick-up after the race).

I had an OK T1. My helmet strap, for some unknown reason, got all tangled up and I wasted about 10 seconds (seemed like 5-6 minutes) getting it sorted out. Soon enough however, I was on my way. I exited T1 with an elapsed time of 3:20 and a HR of 151 bpm.

Due to my helmet mishap, this was only good enough for 12th OA (86.3 %-tile). I had the fastest T1 in my AG by a long shot. OA, there wasn’t much of a change competitively. In my AG, I was beginning to clearly separate myself:

1. Adams --------
2. Joubert + 2:29
3. Hershner + 3:07
4. Saksa + 4:16
5. Courtney + 4:38
8. Christofferson + 5:46


1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson + 2:55
3. Jagoditis + 7:53

The Bike

I exited T1 in a very motivated place. I thought I was 7th OA and I intended to get out and after it on the bike. I thought the bike course was 64 miles (in fact it turned out to be 65.94 miles) and I definitely wanted to go sub 3 hours—despite the rain and wind. I was hopeful to catch some of the stronger swimmers in front of me and hopefully open up a big enough gap to give me a good shot at the AG victory coming out of T2.

It was quite humid and overcast and my glasses fogged immediately. I decided to take them off and slipped them into my tri-top…where they remained for the rest of the ride. The bike course is similar (but different) than the Eagleman course. It featured an opening section of about 15 miles or so that differed from EM and then finished on a loop that was part of the EM course.

I felt very, very good right from the start. My first few miles were a bit slow due to all of the turns leaving T1 and me attending to all of the early ride nutrition things. That said I felt I was riding very well and I was passing a large number of IM and AV riders early on. Soon I began to pass Skipjack competitors as well and by 8 miles I thought that I had moved into second place OA.

I was racing with my revamped BMC TT01 rig for the first time—I had a new drive train, wheels and power management and recording hardware. I must confess that it all worked like a charm—I think it is probably faster than my old configuration and that I can make some tweaks to make it even faster. Further, I’m thrilled with my new data collection capability. Here is the summary of my first two 5-mile segments:

Miles 1-5…..13:29…22.2 mph…157bpm…88rpm…223 watts
Miles 6-10…12:51…23.3 mph…153bpm…88rpm…220 watts

This was obviously a strong start to my ride. I benefitted from less turns and a more favorable wind pattern in the second 5 miles. My target HR is 148-152 bpm so I was trending down to it after T1. I wanted to average above 220 watts so I was off to a good start. At 88 rpm, my recent high cadence Computrainer drills seemed to be working…all good!

I settled in for the long grind ahead. I felt very good and hoped that I was in second (although I felt it was likely that there was a number of better swimmer/bikers in front of me whom I’d never see—that said, my then current knowledge was that there was just one more person in front of me). I eased back just a bit (more than I needed to in retrospect) and just began picking off a lot of slower IM riders. At around 17 miles I was a bit surprised to pass another Skipjack racer (Saksa—a strong looking 31 YO). At this point, my on course data indicated that I was now leading the race. I of course wasn’t sure—for all I knew there were 3-4 guys who were very strong bikers easily pulling away from me. Here is what the next two five mile segments looked like:

Miles 11-15…13:35…22.1mph…149bpm…86rpm…215watts
Miles 16-20…13:10…22.8mph…147bpm…86rpm…215watts

My Edge 800 allowed me to have pretty good command of this data. I concluded that I was moving well above my targeted speed. My HR was on the low side of my target. My cadence was outstanding. My watts were a bit low but I felt great and thought that I was leading and pulling ahead. What to do? I decided to remain conservative for a while longer—My memory of my recent down-spell and my fairly heavy training load weighed on my mind.

Meanwhile, back on the road, I was passing everything in sight. It was nice to have the slower IM bikers in front of me—I didn’t have to worry about biking off-course like I did at Tuckahoe. I felt fantastic but I continued to keep a definite leash on my effort. Here are the next 15 miles:

Miles 21-25…13:09…22.8mph…146bpm…85rpm…217watts
Miles 26-30…13:00…23.1mph…148bpm…85rpm…216watts
Miles 31-35…12:58…23.1mph…147bpm…84rpm…216watts

At this point in the bike course we rounded a point and generally headed back into a net headwind. I felt this subjectively and feeling very optimistic about where I was and how I was doing in the race I decided to raise my game—I began pushing harder. The next 15 miles were noticeably tougher into the wind but I kept upping my effort:

Miles 36-40…13:14…22.7mph…148bpm…84rpm…222watts
Miles 41-45…13:08…22.8mph…147bpm…86rpm…228watts
Miles 46-50…13:27…22.3mph…148bpm…86rpm…227watts

As an aside, I was pretty workman-like in my attention to my nutrition throughout the ride. I drank 30 ounces of Cytomax, which I started the ride with and then another 3 24-ounce bottles of Gatorade (and one bottle of water). I ate one pack of shot blocks and had 4 Hammer Gels (from a flask). I’d guess that I consumed a total of about 1400 calories on the bike—about 450/hour, which is consistent with the approach I’ve refined during my long training rides. I ate a total of 9 Enduralytes—3 on every half hour of the ride. I peed three times during the ride so I think I did a solid job of hydrating as well. In any event, I didn’t feel any energy shortage during the ride.

As I rode on I became increasingly convinced that I was leading (although it would have been entirely possible for some one to be 20 minutes in front of me by now). The wind was quite noticeable now—blowing unrestricted out of the west across the nature reserve.

Further, the next five-mile section featured a 1-1.3 mile section that was substantially flooded. The road was frequently under 3-8 inches of water and when it wasn’t it was extremely rough (and slow). I tried to keep hammering away but at one point rode through 2 big pot holes (under about 8 inches of water) and unbelievably did not flat nor break a wheel—whew. I backed off a bit but soon we were on “dry” ground (it was raining). The road was uncomfortably rough as well during this section and it definitely cost us some speed as compared to earlier segments of the bike course. I kept driving all the way to the end and here is how the last splits looked:

Miles 51-55…14:38…20.5mph…146bpm…83rpm…225watts
Miles 56-60…13:24…22.4mph…146bpm…85rpm…223watts
Miles 61-65…13:34…22.1mph…145bpm…84rpm…224watts
Mile 66………….2:44…20.6mph…147bpm…82rpm…231 watts

I was surprised to find the course being two miles long but generally took comfort in that—the longer the bike course the better for me! It was a bit confusing towards the end because they were clearly not ready for a Skipjack racer when I approached T2. At a subconscious level I registered this as very good news and was very excited as I rolled into T2.

I completed the 66-mile bike spilt in 2:56:22, which equates to 22.5mph. I ended up averaging 221 watts, 85 rpm and a HR of 148bpm. This is very satisfying. My ride was over three minutes faster than any other cyclist and over 7 minutes faster than Saska. I was over a half hour faster than the next guy in my AG! Given the conditions, and given the competition I have to say I killed this ride.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, when I jumped off the bike I had a commanding overall lead Overall and an insurmountable AG lead:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Saksa + 5:31
3. Signore + 5:52
4. Clark + 7:43
5. Villanueva +12:06


1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson +32:28
3. Jagoditis +64:18

Transition Two

I handed my bike to a volunteer and they quickly gave me my transition bag. I asked how many where in front of me and they confirmed what I had been hoping—that I was in the lead! I ran into the changing tent and executed a very quick and efficient T2. My elapsed T2 time was 1:13, which ended up being the 4th fastest overall (149 bpm average). This translates into the 96.3 %-tile. Importantly, this was faster than any of the next four competitors. I picked up 5 seconds on Villanueva, 12 on Saksa, 15 on Clark and a critically important 1:17 on Signore. Here is where we stood after T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Saksa + 5:43
3. Signore + 7:09
4. Clark + 7:58
5. Villanueva +12:11

The Run

I ran out of the changing tent and across the timing mat carrying some more Enduralytes, my visor, my number belt and my glasses. I glanced back right to the bike course and didn’t see anyone. I put all the stuff in my hands where they belonged. The announcer let the crowd know what was going on and I received a nice applause.

For the first time in my triathlon career I was on the run and leading the race! As I ran out of the high school parking lot I noticed that I still had my glasses from the bike jammed into the top of my tri-suit. I found a convenient place along the road to chuck them (I came back for them later). I made the turn onto Egypt road and headed out by myself on the long, flat and mostly straight out and back run course. It was raining lightly and very comfortable to my heat acclimatized body.

It was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was actually leading and I was even hoping that maybe, just maybe I could hold the lead despite how much of a competitive liability my run typically is. I felt like I was running pretty well. I was definitely pushing it harder than I felt prudent and I was breathing heavily. So what—I decided that I was going all in on this run. I looked up and pointed to the skies and asked my dad to beam me some energy—I said out loud that this run was in honor of him. It was very cool running by myself with no one in front of me with only the sounds of my feet and my breathing.

I hit the first mile marker and hit a lap time on my new Garmin watch. I looked to see the result and realized that the numbers are so tiny and that my eyes are so bad now (without reading glasses) that I really couldn’t see the split—although I thought it looked like the first number was a 7. In fact, my first 1.03 miles passed in 7:48 (this is a 7:34/mile pace). My HR averaged 161 bpm, which is pretty much spot on for a LC run for me.

I wasn’t going to look back and just try to get to the 5-mile turnaround in the lead and then see where the competition was but I couldn’t help myself and I stole a glance just after passing the first mile mark. I was very bummed to see a runner just 40 yards behind me! I was shocked to be honest—this person must have had a fantastic T2! Oh well, I didn’t see anyone else so I thought I might as well keep going for it—you never know.

I went through the first aid station and slowed to drink a cup of water and one of Gatorade and was surprised that I didn’t get passed. I hit mile 2 and my Garmin recorded an 8:07 over 1.01 miles and my HR was steady at 161 bpm. There was an aid station right at mile 3 and there I was caught but the other runner turned down the fluid and told the volunteers that she was just out for a run and wasn’t in the race! Whoa! I was still in the lead! My 3rd split was 8:07 for exactly 1.00 miles and my HR remained locked on 161bpm.

Well, now I was really excited! I began to think that maybe I just could win this thing. I decided not to look back and kept pushing up to the turnaround. The next two splits were as follows:

Split 4: 8:07 (1.00 miles) 161 bpm
Split 5: 7:54 (0.99 miles) 165 bpm

I made the turn and looked up the road and was a bit disheartened to see another competitor. My initial judgment was that he was too close and running too fast for me to make my lead stick. Soon we passed and we acknowledged each other. It was Saksa, the 31 YO I had passed at mile 17 of the bike. I estimated that he was about 2 minutes behind me—although, with my vision issue, that is probably plus or minus 30 seconds. I shook my head and felt that I couldn’t hold him off. Another minute latter Signore came by and so I estimated that I had a 4-minute lead on him. The others were further up the road (Clark at 6 minutes and Villaneuva at 8 minutes) and I began to think that there was a good chance I could podium overall.

I hit the 6-mile mark with an 8:14 split (1.00 miles) and a 163-bpm heart rate. Around about 6.5 miles or so, Saksa caught me. He told me I had crushed the bike—I said thanks and told him it was nice to be in the lead while it lasted. I also told him to push home and win the thing. He encouraged me to keep pushing and get second. I sighed as he sped away with my victory dream. Oh well—I’m still doing great. I looked back and could see that Signore was closing fast. My 7-mile split was 8:33 (1:00) and my HR was back down to 161 bpm.

Now that I wasn’t going to win, I became very aware of how fatigued I was and I also noticed that my feet were killing me. I decided to not wear my socks to try to shave some time off of my T2 (which worked) but it looked like it might have been the wrong call as I could see big red splotches on both of my shoes—ouch!

I began to slow and hit the 8th mile with an 8:44 (1.00) and an average HR of 159. I still was in 2nd but feeling like it was any second before Signore caught me. Despite that, I was really enjoying the run—it was great to get the congrats from all the other competitors and they constantly told me I looked awesome (gee thanks!). About three quarters of the way through the 9th mile I decided to turn around and see where he was and I was surprised to see him still a good 100 yards or so behind me. What the heck—I decided right there that I was going to really give it everything I had—he was going to have to earn second place.

I hit the 9-mile split with an 8:47 over 1.01 miles (8:42/mile pace) and my HR at 160 bpm. I was clearly running a bit faster than that over the last few hundred yards of the 9th mile.

I could see the school and hear the announcer. I could see the turn just up ahead. My body was screaming but I kept pushing—come on RC--hold on dude. I hit the turn and glanced back and saw him about 40 yards behind me. I had about 250 yards to go and I dug down for one final desperate push. I could see the final turn and the finish chute and with about 60-70 yards to go I looked back and saw that he was at least 40 yards behind me—I did it, my kick had dissuaded him. I pumped my fist in the air and cruised home with a final split of 8:04 (166 bpm).

I finished 2nd—my best ever in a triathlon! Signore came in 15 seconds later and we embraced (by the way, in my AG, Peterson finished 45:20 and Jagoditis 67:40 behind me—I had the fastest run in my AG). I told Signore that another 100 yards and I was toast and he told me that he had given it everything he had but he just couldn’t catch me. My overall run time was 82:05 and my average HR was 162 bpm. I clocked the course at 10.02 miles so my average mile split was 8:11/mile. This was the 9th fastest overall (90.0%-tile). My overall time was 4:56:16. Fantastic!

I was going to go for a 3-4 mile run after the race to cool down and get another IM long run in but with the outcome of the race I said the heck with that. Also, my feet were really hurting now. I hobbled over to my car and took my shoes off and saw a total disaster zone—at least 15 places where my feet were bleeding—I was paying the price now for a quicker T2. I slowly made my way into the School and had a wonderful shower—although the water hitting my feet was not pleasant. I went to the EMS truck the medics kindly taped my feet up. I picked up a beautiful crystal award for finishing second and hopped into my car and drove home feeling very, very satisfied!


1. A great day for me no two ways about it. It would have been nice to win, but I’m thrilled with second. As I mentioned, this is my best OA finish place wise. I also picked up my 5th AG win on the year and this is only the second year that I’ve reached 5 wins in a season.
2. Its very important to me to bounce back after struggling recently and my slow and half-hearted effort at IM70.3 worlds. This race clearly demonstrates that my training is working and I’m in a good place in my build up to IMAZ in 8 weeks.
3. If I apply my average pace on the bike and convert from 66 to 56 miles and similarly convert from 10 miles to 13.1 on the run I come up with an equivalent H-IM time of 4:54:59. This is obviously an estimate but I think it’s pretty good. I would have biked a bit faster over 56 miles than I did over 66 and I probably would have been able to run a bit faster at the outset with a shorter bike leg. I probably would have faded more over 13.1 miles versus 10 (although, I did have a solid 10th mile) so it’s hard to say precisely, but I think the mathematical approximation is probably pretty good. If you take it at face value, then this was equivalent to my 3rd fastest H-IM ever (out of 20 or so)—my only two faster races being my two H-IMs during my peak year of 2007. For what it’s worth, Saksa did a 4:43 at Diamondman on 9/11 and he beat me by 4:41 in this race. He also told me that he raced better today than he did at Diamondman.
4. My swim was very solid. I probably could have turned in a PR had I been so motivated. I felt strong at the end so I’m feeling good about my swim for IMAZ—no reason for me not to go sub 70 minutes there.
5. My 221 watts in the bike ride is encouraging. For comparison in 2007 I did 228 watts at White Lake (bike split: 2:24:47) and 223 watts at Eagleman (bike split: 2:24:04). My calculated bike split for 56 miles in this race is 2:29:39, which is not surprising due to the wind and rough road surface and flooding that we faced today. In any event, I was able to reasonably comfortably hold a sub 5-hour IM bike pace through 66 miles today. I think it’s also significant that I averaged 217 watts for the first 35 miles but upped it to 225 watts over the final 31 miles—and still ran quite well. I believe it will be well within my capability to go sub 5:30 at IMAZ.
6. My first transition was solid but my second was outstanding and competitively important as well. Signore was faster than me on the S/B/R segments and my transitions were decisive in my ability to hold onto second. The 1:17 I picked up on him in T2 was crucial—especially when you consider he finished just 15 seconds behind me. Still, I wish I had worn socks because it’s going to be a few days before I’m able to run again.
7. My run was a revelation for me today. From an absolute perspective, I know its nothing special but it was a very good outcome for me—it was mathematically equivalent to a 1:47:19 H-IM run (radically better than the 1:59 I did at Oceanside and the 2:06 at Las Vegas). Indeed, I only averaged 8:02 in the Tim Kerr 7-mile run—three weeks ago. I think I learned that I’m a better runner than I thought and I need to go deeper in my key races.
8. Someday I won’t be able to do this, but Saturday was not that day!