Monday, April 30, 2012

Union Rags

Friends of ours have a horse in the Kentucky Derby this weekend.  check it out:

april in the books!

Here are my aggregate training volumes for the month of April:

Swim: 36,750 yds
Bike: 897.5 miles
Run: 160.9 miles
Time: 90:50

Sunday, April 29, 2012

size does matter

Ok, here are the summary stats from this week:

Swim: 10,500 yards
Bike: 282 miles
Run: 42 miles
Time: 27:08

so obviously, a big training week.  Certainly, it would look right at home during my 14-week IM build that starts July 1st.  Although, if I was truly in IM mode, I would have worked out 6-8 fewer times and several of my workouts would have been considerably longer.

Still, this was my first real deal, I'm serious about this, week of the year.  It's of-course, too early for this, but with a three week window between races and no work overnight travel (for once--yea!), I was able to make triathlon job one this week.  and to be honest, I skipped 3-4 workouts because I could see where the week was heading (30+ hours).

The actual doing of this week was great.  the quality of the workouts was at a much higher level so I brought both quality and quantity up this week.  I'll spare you the details, but it was good!  I'm thrilled that I can just crank out such a work-load and still have my body say no big deal and still have my mind wanting to do more.  I could feel the fitness beginning to come on this week.  Exciting!

Next week, I need to step back from the ledge and have an easy week.  It's too early to peak up but this week told me that it's available.  I could get a whole lot faster in 6-8 weeks if I really wanted to.  I'll wait.

I race next weekend at Devilman--just my 3rd of the season--a little light up-front this year, but the rest of the year has solidified at this point and it clearly is the most exciting endurance challenge of my life for sure.

I have Kona and Zona as you know.  The Race Across America Relay team that I am on is locked in.  RAMROD with Bill in July.  and Anders and I were accepted onto a 12/30/12-1/20/13 Cerro Aconcagua Expedtion.  Really Sweet!

My head is securely screwed on.  My body is surprising me.  My left elbow pain is now completely gone--I hammered swimming this week with no problem.  My right hammie is weak, but I'm pretty certain its not going to be a problem this year going forward.  My knee, with my aggressive injection protocol, feels really good (that means I only have 5-6 really sharp pains per run).  In fact, I keep holding myself back because of my history--I could have easily run 60 miles this week....

We'll see.  But I'm in a great place right now!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Empirical Fitness Potential Equation

One of my recent triathlon data analysis projects has been trying to determine, analytically, how far away I am from my fitness potential.  In other words how much faster could I have raced if I had been truly "race fit".  This is off-course, especially from a theoretical point of view, a fairly subjective concept.  However, I thought by examing my actual historical race data, I could get a real world, empirically derived, standard of how well I do when I do my best.  so, I came up with the idea of an "Empirical Fitness Potential Equation".  Here is how it works:

I measure my %-tile finish against the Overall pool of racers in each triathlon.  I do this for the race as a whole and for each of the SBR legs.  I then take the top 5 (roughly my top third each year) %-tiles in each category and average them and set that average as a measure of my best potential performance for the year.  Once I establish this empirically derived %-tile potential, I can compare any race to it and determine how far away I was from racing to my potential.

To illustrate, let me show you the calculation for my 2011 swim legs.  My top 5 %-tile (Overall not Age Group) finishes in 2011 were:

1. Walker Minnesota Sprint: 98.6 %-tile
2. Tuckahoe Sprint: 96.4
3. Bassman Sprint: 95.3
4. Philly Sprint: 93.6
5. Lake Lenape Sprint: 92.8

The average for these five races is 95.3 %-tile.  Here is the same calculation for the swim in my ten full year seasons in triathlon:

2002: 65.4
2003: 63.2
2004: 80.9
2005: 81.2
2006: 84.3
2007: 80.5
2008: 83.3
2009: 85.4
2010: 96.4
2011: 95.3

There three distinct periods, as far as my swim potential goes.  2002/2003 when I was just learning the ropes.  2004-2009 where I became I pretty solid swimmer.  In then, after my off-season commitment to fundamentally overhaul my stroke my developing the potential to be a front of the fact swimmer in 2010 and 2011.

As I think about the 2012 season, it's reasonable for me to assume that I'm racing close to my full fitness potential when I finish at the 95 %-tile in the swim leg.

A similar analysis for the bike leg yields:

2002: 94.8
2003: 98.0
2004: 99.4
2005: 98.9
2006: 98.3
2007: 98.3
2008: 97.0
2009: 97.4
2010: 98.1
2011: 98.0

The bike data shows how naturally the bike comes to me.  I started at a high level and very quickly reached the point where I could deliver the fastest bike leg OA.  By this data, I peaked in 2004 and have been on a very shallow decline since--which reflects how it feels subjectiveluy to me.  I'm still relatively very good at the bike, but I'm not as good as I was 7-8 years ago.

I'm assigning full fitness potential value for my bike leg in 2012 of 98 %-tile.

Next, the run analysis:

2002: 79.1
2003: 72.4
2004: 82.4
2005: 88.4
2006: 80.6
2007: 86.9
2008: 77.6
2009: 78.7
2010: 77.4
2011: 80.7

At first blush, the run data is harder to decipher.  However, my history of knee (and related problems) drives these numbers.  In 2005 and 2007 I was healthy for the whole year and I have the highest %-tiles.  My 2006 number suffers from my shoulder and knee surgeries that year.  The last four years I've been plagued by an assortment of problems and have had significant training interuptions in March-May each year.  That's why I'm so focused on not getting injured this year and am more slowly developing my run.

I'm going to assign a number of 80 %-tile for 2012.  I still hope if I can stay healthy I might be able to do better than that.  On the other hand, my run has been the most negatively impacted by my age so maybe 80 will turn out to be optimistic.  We'll see.

Finally, my OA finish %-tile:

2002: 87.1
2003: 89.2
2004: 93.3
2005: 95.6
2006: 93.8
2007: 94.9
2008: 93.2
2009: 93.0
2010: 95.4
2011: 95.0

You can see how my bike leg has always carried me.  Even in the beginning when my rubn and swim were poor, my bike saved me.  As I brought my swim up in 2004 on I was able to move up into the 90+ zone and in 2005/2007, when my run was at it's best, I scored relatively higher.  Lastly note, the very beneficial impact that the improvements in my swim have had on my overall competitiveness in 2010 and 2011--you can teach an old dog new tricks sometimes!

I'll assign 95 %-tile as my overall race full potential number.

So my Empirical Fitness Potential Equation (EFPE) for 2012 is:


(95%-tile)+(98%-tile)+(80%-tile)= 95 %-tile

So what?  Well, given this standard I can compare my 2012 races and determine how far away I am from this full fitness potential!

My first race this year was Smithfield:  Here are my %-tiles from that race:

swim: 75.2
bike:  94.9
run: 71.8
overall: 85.9

So obviously, I was not yet at my full potential fitness for this first race--no surprise, that is my training strategy!  So the interesting question that can now be answered, is how much faster would I have been had I been at my full potential?

If my swim had been at 95%-tile vs. 75.2 %-tile, my time official time would have been reduced from 5:18 to 4:18, a savings of 1:00.  This is not surprising, given it was a non-wetsuit swim.

Here are my total improvements as calculated by the EFPE:

Swim: 5:18-4:18=1:00
Bike: 26:37-25:23=1:14
Run: 22:35-20:49= 1:54
Total: 1:00+1:14+1:54=4:08

If I had been 4:08 faster, I would have finished 33rd OA (93 %-tile) vs. the 65th that I actually finished.

Now 4:08 is 7.2% of my total race time of 57:16.  In other words, I'm 7.2% away from my full potential fitness!  Also, note that almost half of my improvement potential is in the run.  All of this jives very well with my subjective assessment of my fitness level.

So, I expected to see a modest improvement come my second race at Bumpass.  How did I do?  My %-tiles were:

swim: 84.9
bike: 95.9
run: 69.2
overall: 88.6

The EFPE yields the following improvements:

Swim: 14:01-12:36= 1:25
Bike: 31:10-30:37= 0:33
Run: 25:27-23:21=2:06
Total: 1:25+0:33+2:06=4:04

If I had been 4:04 faster I would have finished 23rd OA (96 %-tile) vs. the 64th I did.

4:04 is 5.5% of my total race time of 73:53.

So on the surface, I've gone from being 7.2% away from being truly race fit to now 5.5%.  I seemed to make my biggest improvements in the swim and bike and now I'm going to have to start making some progress on my run if I want to reach my potential fitness.

So there it is.  A lot of questions about this analysis arise of-course.  For example, why not just look at at my FTP in my training tests to gauge my fitness on the bike.  Or my 100 yd repeat times on the swim.  Well, of course I do, but these measure my relative physical fitness in each of the three disciplines.  What I'm trying to measure is my RACE FITNESS--which includes my physical fitness plus things like tactics, pacing, etc.

I'm sure you have questions as well but as I've thought through all of the places that error could be interjected in this aanalysis, I've conmcluded that it's actually pretty valid.

We'll see how it holds up in 2012.  I'll sure be looking to get inside of 5% at Devilman.  I'm also going to back test the equation at some point so that will be interesting as well.

That's it for now!

Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Rumpass in Bumpass Triathlon Race Report
April 15th, 2012


Location: Bumpass, Virginia
Distance: 750-meter swim/11.5-mile bike/3.1-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 2
Career Triathlon Race Number: 116
Conditions: Sunny.  Low 80s.  Breezy.  66-degree water.

Alex and I left on Friday and drove down to Blacksburg, VA to visit Virginia Tech once again.  We visited the campus on Saturday (and he decided to go to Boston College) and then drove across the state to Bumpass.  On Sunday morning, I left Alex in the hotel and then drove out to Lake Anna for the 10 a.m. start.

This was to be my second race of the 2012 campaign and my second shot at Rumpass, but the RD had to move the race start to the Boxley Cove portion of Lake Anna so it was effectively a whole new race as all three legs were different.

I’m still in my pre-season mode and was coming off a near 20-hour training week so my expectations were modest for this race.  There were 16 people in my AG and I expected to face the stiffest competition from Paul Spencer.  Paul is a very experienced triathlete who has done multiple IMs including a 12:06 at Lake Placid.  I raced him back in 2005 at Eagleman and he beat me there by 54 seconds so I knew I had my hands full today.  A total of 555 individuals started the race this morning.

The Swim

The new swim course is essentially a point-to-point course with three left-hand turns.  Lake Anna is a great place to swim—very clear and Boxley’s Cove is quite protected so the lake surface was very calm despite the 20-mph winds.  The water temp was a perfect wetsuit friendly 66-degrees.

I was in the 5th wave with all the other 45+ YO guys.  I elected to start towards the right, away from the buoy line.  I was about 2/3rds of the way across the front of the pack.  I was pretty confident that I could outswim most folks so was not bothered by the congestion.  One person I did not expect to outswim was Paul.  When we raced at Eagleman he outswam me by over 10 minutes!  I also expected Ed Boyle to outswim me as he is a very strong swimmer.  Competitively, I felt I had to stay close to Paul—I really felt like I needed to be only a minute or so down after the swim to really have a chance of using my bike strength to beat him.  Since I’m quite a bit stronger swimmer than I was in 2005, I thought this was doable.

At the gun I surged smartly away and after a few bumps with those near me, I began to pull away from most folks in the wave.  I could see that there were a few guys (5-6) in front of me and assumed that Paul and Ed were among them (I really didn’t know what either of them looked like).

I navigated the first two turns with little drama and settled in for the long swim down towards the swim exit.  I focused on long, smooth strokes and felt pretty comfortable.  I wasn’t pushing it to the limit but felt like I was moving pretty fast.  I certainly felt a lot more on top of things then I did in my first race of the year at Smithville, two weeks before.

I made the final turn of an uneventful and very pleasant swim and hit the ground at 13:52.  I thought this seemed pretty good as the course felt long to me.  I was actually able to work my new Garmin (at least for the swim) and it measured the course at 949 meters (0.59 miles).  I’m not sure how accurate the GPS is as this was my first open water swim with it but while my gut tells me it wasn’t quite that long, it was definitely longer than 750 meters.  The Garmin also told me that I averaged 37 strokes/min.  I covered 74.9 yards/min (23:27/mile).  For what it’s worth my SGolf Score was: 25+40=65.  These seem like pretty strong numbers.

Although I didn’t know it yet, I had a strong swim from a competitive perspective.  I turned in the 3rd fastest in my AG (87.5 %-tile) and the 85th OA (84.9 %-tile).  This compares favorably with the 75th %-tile at Smithville and with the wetsuit, is probably more indicative of where I’m at (which is a little off, as I would normally expect to get into the 90-92 %-tile range).  This is not a surprise and I’m certainly happy with the swim given my current swim fitness level.

Most importantly, from a competitive perspective, I achieved my objective and was able to stay just 23 seconds off of Paul’s pace.  As expected, Ed was the first out of the water in my AG.  Here is where we stood after the swim:

1.  Boyle --------
2.  Spencer + 0:22
3.  Christofferson + 0:45
4.  Clarke + 0:49
5.  Delaney + 1:25

Transition One

I ran up the steep, grass-covered hill that led from the lake to the entrance of T1.  As I ran into Transition proper, I glanced over and saw bike #511 still in its rack.  Awesome!!  My immediate conclusion was that I had outswam Spencer.  In fact Spencer was probably sitting near his bike doing his transition stuff and I didn’t see him or if I did I of-course, didn’t recognize him.

I was very energized by this unexpected development.  I sped to my bike but had a few challenges in T1.  My chip strap came off—first time that has happened and I had to find it and put it back on, which took a lot longer than it should have.  I finished up and started running towards the T1 exit when I heard the announcer call out Paul Spencer’s name.  I was surprised and annoyed with myself—I was convinced I had blown my lead with a crappy T1.

In fact, as poor as my T1 was, I was actually 6 seconds faster than Paul.  In fact I had the 2nd fastest T1 in my AG and I had the 121st OA (78.4 %-tile). My official T1 was 2:07, but my actual T1 was 2:21.  Here is where we stood after T1:

1.  Spencer --------
2.  Boyle + 0:04
3.  Christofferson   + 0:17
4.  Clarke + 0:31
5.  Delaney + 2:33

The Bike

I ran up the steep hill to the road and mounted pretty efficiently.  I was a bit upset at myself (inappropriately so) with my poor transition relative to Paul.  I estimated that I was 10 seconds behind Paul coming out of T1 and set an intermediate goal of catching him by 2 miles.  I did my thing on the bike but was very surprised to see Paul staying clear.  My only direct competition with him prior to this race was Eagleman 2005 where I was almost 13 minutes faster on the bike.  Based on that race, I would expect to pick up about 2.5 minutes on him on the bike (I planned on picking up 2 minutes) and as such, I would expect to run him down in the first mile.

Of course, my tactical race understanding was off and I was 17 vs. 10 seconds behind.  But more importantly, I was passing a ton of people and not really getting closer to him.  I immediately sensed that the normal “SNAP” I expect to have in my bike legs was not there.  I was looking down at 240 watts or so on my PM and feeling challenged.  Normally I can roll at 260+ watts no problem.  Perhaps my legs were still feeling the effects of my heavy early week training block.  In any event, I seemed to be missing about 20 watts or so.

The first three miles rolled by like this:

1: 23.2 mph/79rpm/248 watts—Avg Power/253 watts—Norm Power
2: 22.3/77/226/229
3: 23.6/80/222/226

My HR was generally in the 164 to 166-bpm range—I’m still having challenges with my Garmins but I do know that I ended up averaging 165 bpm for the ride, which indicates at least that I wasn’t dogging it.  Somewhere in these first three miles I passed Boyle, although I didn’t notice it as I only had eyes for Spencer.  Finally, I began to draw close I consciously rolled my hips forward, flattened my back and began focusing on spinning at a higher cadence.  I went by Paul somewhere in the 4th mile and made sure I was really flying when I passed him so that he didn’t try to lock on me.  Here is the data from the next three miles:

4: 24.2/85/241/243
5: 25.4/84/231/231
6: 21.1/81/236/236

In the 6th mile the course began to climb and turn more into a pretty strong wind.  I could feel the effects of both began to play with my mind.  At this point a 52 year-old flew passed me and I decided that I should try to hang with him as long as I could.  I was feeling a bit panicky as I could tell I was not having my normal ride.  I let him get about 30 yards ahead of me and tried to stay with him, which I was able to do for around the next three miles.  He slowly pulled away after that but by that time I was focused on thinking through transition and the run to come.  Here is the data from the rest of the ride:

7: 23.5/77/257/269
8: 21.6/78/265/265
9: 20.5/82/237/239
10: 21.3/80/239/243
11: 24.6/82/224/229
11.51: 23.6/76/243/244

I clocked the ride at 11.51 miles (which is the same distance I clocked when I rode the course as a warm-up).  I completed the bike leg in 30:48, which works out to an average speed of 22.4mph.  My average power was a dismal 239 watts with a normalized power of 243 watts.  My cadence averaged 80 rpm and I had a TSS of 71.3.

I knew as I hopped off my bike that I did not have the ride I expected and needed.  My guess was that I probably was about a minute ahead of Spencer (which turned out to be correct).  Overall, I had the 24th fastest bike (95.9 %-tile) and I was able to ride 77 seconds faster than Spencer, who had the second fastest bike in our AG.  Here is where we stood after the bike:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Spencer + 1:00
3. Boyle + 2:53
4. Clarke + 3:32
5. Barr + 5:38

Transition Two

I run down the hill after the dismount line and ran into transition proper.  Given my perception of the weakness of my bike leg, I feel a real urgency to move very quickly through transition.  I execute what I think is a very solid T2 in 1:26 but comparatively I seem to be slower in T2 than T1.  I have the 138th fastest T2 (75.3 %-tile).  In my AG, I have the 4th fastest T2 (81.3 %-tile) but critically, I out-transition Spencer by a solid 18 seconds.  Remember those 18 seconds.  Here is where we stood after T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Spencer + 1:18
3. Boyle + 2:48
4. Clarke + 3:30
5. Barr + 5:32

The Run

As I exit T2 and hang a hard right and run in the grass parallel to transition, I look over and sure enough I see Spencer pushing his bike in the opposite direction.  This confirms (in my mind) my hunch that I have a roughly one minute lead.  It never crosses my mind that I’ll put 18 seconds on him in T2.

I make the left and run up the hill to the entrance to the (sharp) gravel path down to the swim start.  This is a reasonably steep downhill of a little more than a quarter of a mile.  I look at my watch and realize it’s stopped.  (One of these days I might get this new watch right.  The good news is that I figured out that I’m pushing the wrong button—stop as opposed to lap—my old watch only had one button).  I get it going again (although it’s still in T2 mode) so that I can get a read on my lead at all of the 5 out and back/turnarounds on this convoluted run course.

Not surprisingly, my legs don’t feel any peppier on the run then they did on the bike.  I’m aware it’s now quite hot (84 degrees according to my watch).  The gravel is sharp and uncomfortable with my racing flats on.  This is the least of my worries as I have a real concern that a minute may not be enough to hold Paul off.  It’s the same old story; I’m being chased by a stronger runner out of T2 and wondering if I have enough of a cushion or enough in the gas tank to seal the deal.

At the bottom of the hill, by the lake, I catch a split and 34 seconds later I lock eyes with Paul and figure I have a 68 second lead.  However, I’m running up hill so I’m not sure if my real lead is more or less.  I don’t know what to make of 68 seconds.  If I left T2 with a 60 second lead, life is good.  What I don’t know at this point is that I had a 78 second lead and in less than ½ mile, l have lost 10 seconds of it.

I cruise around the parking lot on the uneven grass and hit the second turnaround and look through the bushes and spot Spencer.  My lead has dropped to 46 seconds and I’m still quite a ways from the first mile marker.  I come to two conclusions.  First, if the Mile One mark is correct then this course is going to be long.  Second, I’m losing time way too fast and unless something happens, Spencer is going to run me down.

I’m not happy about either of these two conclusions, but what can you do?  There still is a lot of race left and I do my best to push it.  I’ll see later that my HR is locked in on 165 bpm.  I’m quite warm and I’m a bit dehydrated, as I brought no water on the bike.  The course carries on for quite a while and then where I expect to see a turnaround, I find a left turn and a run down the hill to the lake again.  I make the turn and look up the hill and see Spencer immediately.  I avoid Paul’s eyes and try to quiet my labored breathing as I go by him.  My lead is now 26 seconds.  I’ve lost 20 seconds in this section, which I know I have to repeat.  Plus, they’ve tacked another out and back onto this section and then there is the last quarter mile or so.  I run the math and I don’t like the answer.  The good news is I don’t see any other real old guys so I know it’s just us two at this point.

I make the right hand turn for the 4th turnaround and upon rounding the cone I see Paul right away.  14 seconds.  There is just one guy between us.  My mind tells me it’s OK—good effort.  Starting the season with a 1st and a 2nd is not bad at all.  Losing to Spencer again has no shame.

Wait!  I have several thoughts all at once.  You’re winning RC—why have you decided the race is lost?  He’s still got to catch you!  Elevate!  Why not go for it and see what happens.  And so I do.  I make the right hand turn out onto the main path and fortunately it’s a slight downhill.  I let it “rip” (this of-course is an exaggeration).  I start running as hard as I can, even though I know I have almost a mile to go.  And it works!  I feel myself moving a lot faster and feeling much more efficient.  On my HR graph my HR jumps to 176 bpm, which is pretty close to the max for this old guy.

I keep this up for about 3 minutes or so and then on an uphill, reality sets in.  My body “riggs-up”.  I’m dead in the water.  I have 3 minutes to go and I’m out of gas.  I hear a couple of people coming up on me and I refuse to turn and look.  They both pass me but neither is Spencer.  I can’t believe it but soon I hit the 5th and final turnaround.

As I make the right turn, I glance over my right shoulder and sense that no one is within 10 yards of me.  I get a slight glimmer of hope.  I run for 5 seconds or so and turn and I don’t see anyone.  My god, I might be able to do this!  Five seconds later, I turn again, almost stumble in the rough grass and finally see Paul.  I know immediately, as I pass the mile 3 marker that he can’t catch me.  I cruise through and give a satisfied fist pump at the finish.

My run split is 25:26 for what I’m sure is a long run course.  Paul finishes 15 seconds later and we are both left to wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t lost 18 seconds in T2.  Only 5 guys break 20 minutes in the race OA (versus 60 at Smithfield) and I have a comparatively decent run.  Overall, I have the 172nd run split (69.2 %-tile) but most importantly, I’m 3rd in my AG (87.5 %-tile).  My total time for the race is 73:53, which is good enough for 64th OA (88.6 %-tile).  Here are the final standings in my AG:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Spencer + 0:15
3. Clarke + 5:06
4. Barr + 7:00
5. Crandell + 8:05


1. A great win for me with some important lessons.  Sometimes, my bike will let me down, but all is not necessarily lost when that happens.  More importantly, I need to not give up on my run.  My run has been so mediocre for a while now that I just assume that I will be slow.  Hopefully, I can remember this race the next time things are tough in the run.
2. My swim appears to be in pretty decent shape.  I think a month of hard work will get it to where I would expect it to be.
3. I’m not going to panic about my poor bike.  When you have “C” races like this you can have days like this from time to time.  I have 1 or 2 every year.  Still, I’ve underinvested in my bike heretofore and I plan on addressing that, especially over the next 10 days.
4. I’m not sure where exactly my run is.  I know I’m faster than 25 minutes in the 5k.  Perhaps I’m not as fast as I was last race, with my 22-minute effort.  It was hot today, so I’m sure that played a factor.  Comparatively, both of the runs were right at the 70th percentile, so we’ll see.  I do know this; it would be great to get faster on the run.
5. A win is win.  I’ve had two close ones to start the season.  Part of me thinks, with the new AG and all, I should be winning by more.  This is of-course negative thinking.  I was fortunate to beat two very strong competitors in these first two races and I should feel good about it.  If Spencer hadn’t been in the race then I would have won by over 5 minutes and I’d be complaining about a weak field.  I think I’ll let this line of thought go and revel in what was ultimately a very satisfying win!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

weekly totals

Had a holding the line week.  Being gone 4 of the 7 days (or at least part of them) makes it tough to really get the bike miles in.  My bike needs a lot of work frankly.   Looking at trying to slam home a very big 10 day block coming up--trying to make triathlon my number one focus over the next ten days.  I have a very busy May with three of my kids graduating.  Need to step up starting tomorrow!

Here are the week's totals:

Swim: 8000 yards
Bike: 161 miles
Run: 38.5 miles
Time: 17:53

I'll post the Rumpass race report shortly!

I'm feeling the need to start to flip over and get more serious!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Still on a high from my race today. But back home and here are (what I think are solid) my training volumes for the week (keep in mind this was a race week):

Swim: 8750 yards
Bike: 201 miles
Run: 32 miles
Time: 19:33

Looking at three quality training weeks before my next race. Undefeated in my new AG----the awesome pleasure of small accomplishments!


Great day today. Very satisfying. I'll work up the race report soon.

It was about as hard a race as I've had in a quite a long while (but suprisingly to me) I emerged as the leader....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ready for the Rumpass!

Drove well south of here yesterday with Alex as we went down to Blacksburg to Va Tech for admitted students day. We had a nice meal at the Holiday Inn there and I awoke this morning and did a nice ride on my TT bike on the Huckelberry Trail--very scenic. Followed it up with a 15 minute run.

WE did the Tech thing and the upshot of that is that I think Alex will end up going to Boston College--looks like two Christoffersons in Boston next year!

We are now in another Holiday Inn in Thornburg, VA. I'm locked and loaded for the Rumpass in Bumpass Sprint tomorrow. They changed the race venue from where i raced in 2009--so comparisons are more difficult. All three legs will be different.

The swim i know nothing about (except that the water temp appears to be 65 degrees). The bike is very similar--hilly but fun. It is a mile shorter at 11.5 miles (or so they say), which I'm not a fan of. The way the course works the back-half is harder, which is in my favor.

Midge left me a voice-mail (she had done the Olie today) and said the run course really sucked--all grass and gravel with poor footing--she suggested I bring my training flats, which is not an option. Whatever, rough running courses tend to help me since my running forte is not grace and form....(not sure what my run strength is).

As I alluded to earlier, it will be a tough, competitive race for me. Of the people signed up on the website, Barr and Spenser will pose the biggest challenges. I've raced Barr--4 or 5 times before and beaten him each time but our last race he was less than a minute down--he clearly has been improving over the last few years. I raced Spencer only once, at Eagleman a few years back where he beat me by about a minute. He is a stronger swimmer, by quite a bit. I'll need to stay close and then make a strong move on the bike. And hold on during the run--what else is new?

Of-course, there are the folks I don't know about and there is always a chance that some strong folks will show up race morning--specifically Lange and Stroup have raced here before and if they show up tomorrow, I could be battling for a 3rd place.

Matters not--looking forward to getting out there and hammering away. Supposed to be in the 80s for the first time this year...should be a good test.

We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Race Week/Back to the Future...and other stuff

So I'm set to race my second triathlon of the year on Sunday--The Rumpass in Bumpass Sprint.

This, of course is the essence of a "C" race. The main purpose of our trip is for Alex and I to head down to VA TEch to see if he wants to go to school there or up at Boston College. We'll do all of the admitted student things on Saturday and then drive to the Lake Anna environs and I'll get ready for my Sunday triathlon.

I did the Bumpass Sprint race the first time it was held back in 2009 and snagged an AG win. My competition is actually tougher for this race--which I'll detail either Friday or Saturday. I have my work cut out for me!

We learned yesterday that the course was fundamentally changed--it was moved about four miles to anotherplace on the Lake so all three legs will be different than what I did in 2009--I'm a bit bummed by this as I was looking forward to the comparitive data....

The good news is I had (for the first time this year) a very low-key work/life week. As such, I was able to get back to the Future and prepare for my "C" race the way I like to. That is, Days 1-4 heavy up training block. Day 5 (mostly) rest day. Day 6 the standard pre-race gig that Pete Reid taught me. Day 7 race.

So I had a solid 4 day block (in fact, I've had a very solid 9-day block). Here are my totals for the first four days on this week:

Swim: 7000 yards
Bike: 149 miles
Run: 25 miles
Time: 15:04

Editorial comment: that's a lot of training for someone who is not yet in Ironman mode....

I'm very excited about this weekend. I'm quite sore now (I did 8 VO2 max intervals on the CT yesterday) but hope to be reasonably recovered come Sunday morning. It should be a close and exciting race. As it is a C race--while I'd like to win, I promise to not get to carried away one way or the other if I do or don't....

That said, I'm feeling the love. I'm starting to get fitter now (under 180 pounds and heading towards my Kona weight of 165) and I think for the first time in 6 years, my knee will be strong enough to actually get serious about running during the spring (I'm usually nursing a significant limitation).....

Not to get ahead of myself.....but I'm very much looking forward to racing this weekend!

More pre-race stuff to follow....

Bring the spring, the weather, the joy of being an athlete once again.....not many more years left, but I sense that this one will be one of them!!!

Happy, happy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week Training Totals

A reasonable training week given two days away and the pool being closed for 2 days for the holidays. I'm beginning to up my bike effort a bit. Bike intervals this week were at 280 watts....I'm pretty healthy and motivated so should begin to start ramping up fitness....

Swim: 7000 yards
Bike: 224 miles
Run: 29 miles
Time: 20:16

Friday, April 6, 2012

Smithvile Race Report

2012 Smithville Sprint Triathlon Race Report
March 31st, 2012


Location: Smithville, Virginia
Distance: 300-meter swim/9.8-mile bike/3.1-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 1
Career Triathlon Race Number: 115
Conditions: Light rain. Mid 60s. Modest breeze. Pool swim.

On Friday the 30th I loaded up the Black Beauty and drove south. I stopped in DC and picked up my race packet for Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10-miler. I arrived in Smithville around 6 and in time to get my race packet and to drive the course. I had dinner at the hotel (pasta with chicken) and was in bed by 10 pm even though my race wouldn’t start until 10:25 the next morning.

This was my first triathlon of the 2012 season and my first race of any kind since last November’s IMAZ. I missed quite a bit of training in March and was not in the best of shape so my expectations were somewhat low. That said, I did want to win my AG—my first time in the 55-59 YO AG and if possible to improve on my 2009 time of 57:32 (which is the shortest triathlon (time wise) that I have ever done).

I was up early and had plenty of time to get set-up and warm-up before the race. The first swimmer jumped in the pool at 10:00 am and soon I was standing on the deck waiting my turn.

The Swim

The swim takes place in the 25-meter Smithville YMCA pool. This race has a time-trial start and every 10 seconds another triathlete is sent off. The race uses a self-seeding system and I had indicated a time of 5:25 and thus I was seeded 117th out of the 500 entrants. In 2009 I swam a 5:09 and I expected to swim faster than that this morning as my swim has significantly improved over the last three years.

When my time came I pushed solidly off the wall but never seemed to be able to settle down. I was conscious of fighting the water and not holding very good form. I’m not a good non-wetsuit swimmer but I usually feel much more comfortable than I did this morning. I had troubled ducking cleanly under the ropes. On the plus side, I neither had to pass anyone and no one passed me.

I exited the pool in 5:13, which I wasn’t that surprised at, although it clearly is a disappointment. I think I’m capable of a sub 5-minute swim in this race but perhaps my relative under-investment in swimming is beginning to catch-up to me. I race again on the 14th and should have a better sense then if my slow swim today was just poor execution or an indicator that I need to intensify my swim training (or both).

As it turns out, I had the 114th (out of 455 finishers) fastest swim this morning, which translates into the 75.2 %-tile. This actually compares favorably with the 71.4 %-tile I achieved in 2009, which is a bit hard to decipher. I also recorded a faster official time this year than in 2009, but I attribute this to the change in location of the swim exit timing mats, which changed with the reconfiguration of the transition zone.

Age group wise, I had the 3rd fastest swim out of the 14 finishers (85.7 %-tile). Here is where we stood in my AG after the swim:

1. Claude --------
2. Cofsky + 0:05
3. Christofferson + 0:29
4. Howard + 0:57
5. Leonard + 1:05

Of course, when I exited the pool I knew none of this—in fact most of the guys in my AG had yet to even start the event.

One last note, I used my new Garmin 910 for the first time and hoped to get a variety of new data about my race including 25-meter lap time and stroke count. Unfortunately, my lack of familiarity with the device caused me to not set it up correctly and this led to a number of confusing data issues, which you’ll see shortly.

Transition One

As I mentioned above, the RD changed the location and configuration of the transition zone, which had the effect of significantly lengthening T1. I had what I thought was a reasonably effective T1, which took me 1:59 to complete. In 2009 my transition took 1:20. Overall, my T1 was 105th or 77.1 %-tile. In 2009 I was at the 87.3 %-tile so it seems like the longer run required in T1 this year differentially penalized me. For my AG, I had the 4th fastest T1 (78.6 %-tile) and I dropped time to some of my key competitors. Here is where we stood after T1:

1. Claude --------
2. Cofsky + 0:15
3. Christofferson + 0:36
4. Peterson + 1:27
5. Bare + 1:39

The Bike

We ran around the Y building and then for some reason had to run another 20 yards on the asphalt until we reached the mount/dismount line…. pretty silly if you ask me, especially with the TT start (vs. wave). Soon I was up and off on the bike. I felt pretty decent and comfortable on my BMC, even though it was only the third time I had ridden it this year (the other two times being earlier this week).

The Smithfield course is an out and back to a loop. It is short of the advertised 10-mile distance—I measured it at 9.81 miles this year (9.83 in 2009). It has a huge number of turns on it for such a short course. It is neither flat nor hilly but there are a lot of ups and downs. The first six miles are net uphill and the last four are faster as they are downhill (and downwind).

I felt like I had decent snap in my legs and I passed quite a few folks during the ride and had no one pass me. That said, I didn’t feel very smooth or polished. It felt like my power was jumping around a lot and that my cadence was generally off (too low). I’m not dialed in from a racing perspective but that is not surprising given the March timeframe.

I ran down Cofsky a little after 7 miles into the ride and since I knew he was the only guy in my AG who started the race before me (he had started 3+ minutes a head of me) I felt that I was likely pretty much in control of the AG race. (In retrospect, this confidence was probably misplaced).

My Edge 800 yield a lot of good data about my ride and here it is:

Mile 1: 22.5mph/78rpm/Avg Power: 279 watts/NP: 279 watts/162 bpm
2: 21.1mph/77rpm/235w/238w/161bpm
3: 22.6mph/78rpm/263w/267w/159bpm
4: 22.2mph/81rpm/265w/283w/161bpm
5: 18.9mph/82rpm/240w/250w/161bpm

What this data shows—through the putative halfway point (I believe) is that I was stuck in too big of a gear early and I began to adjust as the ride progressed. My HR was quite low relative to optimal sprint distance HR (should be 168+)—this is not surprising for early in the season—it illustrates that I’m a long way from “race sharp”. With comparisons between Avg and Normalized Power you can clearly see the challenges that the fourth mile presents with it’s series of short but steep up-hills.

My averages for the first five miles were:

Speed: 21.5 mph
Average Cadence: 79 rpm
Average Power: 256 watts
Normalized Power: 263 watts
Average Heart Rate: 160 bpm

Here is the data from miles 6-10ish:

6: 21.6mph/83rpm/243w/244w/161bpm
7: 25.6mph/85rpm/243w/243w/161bpm
8: 25.1mph/80rpm/249w/249w/162bpm
9: 26.0mph/77rpm/241w/245w/162bpm
10: 21.5mph/76rpm/261w/272w/164rpm

My averages for the last “fiveish” miles are:

Speed: 24.0 mph
Average Cadence: 80 rpm
Average Power: 247 watts
Normalized Power: 250 watts
Average Heart Rate: 162 bpm

Take-aways from this data include: The easier nature of the back half of the course can be seen in the increase in my average speed. I relaxed and began to spin more effectively in miles 6-8. The lower difference between NP and Average Power is a reflection of the less hilly nature of the back half of the race. The fall-off in my power numbers over the last five miles is sub-optimal but not surprising. The power profile I’m looking for is more like 265 watts for the first half and 270 watts for the second—I have a ways to go before I’m fit enough to do that.

Overall, I averaged 251 watts versus 253 watts in 2009. My NP was 256 watts and I averaged 161bpm and 80 rpm. I completed the bike leg in 26:12, which compares favorably to the 26:25 I recorded in 2009. The faster time and slightly lower wattage probably reflects less wind today than in 2009.

Competitively, I recorded the 24th fastest bike overall (94.9 %-tile) versus 96.1 %-tile in 2009. Once again, I had the best bike split in my AG (by over two minutes) and was now firmly in the lead as we headed into T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson + 2:59
3. Cofsky + 3:45
4. Bare + 3:46
5. Claude + 4:05

Transition Two

I didn’t know where I stood as I ran into T2, but I assumed I had a sizeable lead. If I had known the above data, I would have been pretty confident (inappropriately so, as it turns out). I completed an excellent T2 in 1:20 (versus 0:59 in 2009). I was able to post the top T2 in my AG and open up some valuable time on my nearest pursuers. Overall, I had the 117th fastest T2 (74.5 %-tile). I was at the 61.5 %-tile in 2009. I spent a total of 1:00 longer in transitions in 2012 than in 2009. I think all of this is attributable to the change in the transition layout as I think I actually did a better job of transition this year.

In any event, here is where we stood as we exited T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson + 3:15
3. Cofsky + 3:51
4. Bare + 4:09
5. Claude + 4:13

The Run

As I exited T2 I glanced at my watch and expected to see it set-up in the run-page format. It was not, which was confusing (this is of-course attributable to my aforementioned operator error). I remember thinking that if I ran somewhere around what I ran in 2009 (23:39) that I would be close to what I did in 2009. This was quite wrong, as I was 51 seconds slower at this point in the race (although I was a net 9 seconds faster for the Swim/Bike combo). Because of my watch screw-up, my tactical understanding of what was going on was way off. I may have misread my watch, but I actually believed my watch indicated that I was at least a full minute faster through T2 then I really was.

Off I went and I felt pretty good. Not too far into the run my watch auto-lapped the first mile and dutifully recorded a 4 something first mile for me. I was very confused by this and it began to occur to me that something was amiss with my watch. (In retrospect, I think the watch was giving me my split for the last 0.2 miles of the bike, the distance I travelled in T2, and the first portion of the run).

I glanced at my HR and saw 166bpm (my HR would stay in the 166-168bpm range for the race) and I figured I was pushing it at about the right intensity. Later in the year, when I’m more fit, I’ll be able to average closer to 170bpm for a 5K, but not in March.

I was concerned before the race about how my left knee and right Hamstring would hold up. I’m happy to report that my knee was a non-issue and that while I could feel my right hamstring and I felt a bit limited by it, I was never in any real danger of “pulling” it.

Anyways, I pushed it at about a “95%” level and as I cranked down the home stretch, I looked at my watch and saw that I could beat 56! I pushed and hit my watch at the finish line and saw 55:52. I was very pumped as this was a good 1:40 faster than 2009 and, although I didn’t know it, implied a 21:08 5k—which, if it was true would have been fantastic. Unfortunately, it was not. When they posted the official results I saw that my actual finish time was 57:16. I was very confused by this but now am confident that the data I was getting from my watch was spurious.

So, in fact I ran a 22:32, which is pretty darn good (if the course was indeed accurately measured). This was 67 seconds faster than last year and as a result I finished with a total time of 57:16. While not quite what I felt when I first crossed the line, it was 16 seconds faster than 2009—even though the transitions were inherently slower.

I ended up winning my AG event though I had just the 6th fastest AG run. The final result was much closer than I would have expected but I did prevail and secure my 34th career AG win:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Peterson + 0:24
3. Bare + 1:41
4. Claude + 2:20
5. Johnson + 3:07

Overall, I had the 129th fastest run (71.8 %-tile) vs. 78.1 %-tile in 2009. Perhaps the course was shorter this year, or the conditions much easier. In any event, I ended up finishing 65th overall (85.9 %-tile) versus 91.0 %-tile in 2009.

So, mixed bag. Here are my thoughts:

1. My swim was disappointing. My race in Bumpass on the 14th will go a long way towards helping me understand if I just was a bit off in this race or if I need to make a mid-course correction and invest a lot more in my swim.
2. My bike was solid. Better conditions than last year. I look to see a level of a modest progression at Bumpass.
3. My run, at first blush appears very encouraging. However, I am suspicious that the course/conditions may be inflating my progress—we’ll see.
4. Hey, I won my AG and I was faster than I was in 2009. Those were my two objectives for the race so being an old guy, I’m going to feel, at the end of the day, that I had a very successful race.

I drove up to DC after the race and the next morning had a pretty dead leg feeling so I just cruised to an 87-minute 10 mile run at Cherry Blossom. Pretty slow for sure, but my body and mind weren’t ready to go harder so I just mailed it in.

Well 2012 is on—lots of work to do for sure. No reason why I can’t do it. Here we go!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last month and last week

Training totals for lst week were:

Swim: 7000 yds
Bike: 174 miles
run: 27.8 miles
time: 16:48

March totals:

Swim: 26,500 yds
bike: 657 miles
Run: 110 miles
Time: 77:43

I expect to begin cranking up the volume this month.....

Monday, April 2, 2012

quick report on the weekend

Lots of fun. I raced pretty well on Saturday--Course PR and an AG victory. Lots of things to work on of course but I'll take it. Knee and hamstring were sore. Decided to take it easy on sunday and used the Cherry Blossom race as a training activity.

Started my next knee injection cycle today....

I'll post week, month totals and race reports shortly....

Time to get a bit more serious about my training....