Sunday, June 30, 2013

AC Denali Post 11: Lead Guide Dave Hahn (and bud)

So, RC back here on the AC Denali Blog--we thought it was probably time to give you a bit of background on Dave Hahn--the lead guide on Anders' expedition to Denali.

Dave is one of a handful of truly elite American (or World for that matter) climbers.  He is 42 years old and has been a professional mountaineer and guide for most of his life.  Here is a small sample of his mountaineering resume:

- He has summitted Everest 15 times, which is more than any non-Sherpa climber and puts him in the top 3 of all time for that fairly well known mountain.

- He has climbed on Denali for each of the last 25 years and has summitted 20 times.

- He has 30 summits of the Vinson Massif, which is the highest peak in Antarctica--which I believe is the most of any climber.

-He has climbed Mount Rainier over 250 times...

-Dave has a very distinguished history of performing many high altitude rescues and has been formerly recognized for these heroic efforts--here is a sample:
   -in 2009 the United States awareded him the Citizen's Award for Braverly for the rescue of an injured climber on Rainier.  During the course of this rescue the helicopter they were flying on crashed and Dave rescued both the climber and the helicopter crew
   -in 2001, the National Park Service named him the Pro Mountaineer of the Year for several rescues he made that year
   -in 2002, he was a recipient of the Sowles Award for the rescues he performed on the Tibetan flank of Everest
   -in 2007 he was recognized by the Nepal Mountaineering Association for the high altitude (above 27,000 feet) rescue of a climber on Everest's South Side.

You can see why we are comforted that Anders has Dave as his Lead Guide on this climb.

One of the other interesting things about Dave is that he was part of the team that discovered George Mallory's remains at 27,000 feet on Everest in 1999.  Mallory (along with Andrew Irvine) died on Everest in 1924 and it still remains a mystery if they summitted first--as opposed to Hillary/Norgay in 1953.

One of the very cool things about Anders' expedition is that on the way up between Camp One and Camp Two, they crossed paths with a climber named Conrad Anker.  Conrad is a immensely respected climber that led the 1999 team with Dave when they discovered Mallory's remains.  Conrad is probably the climber that I hear Anders talk about the most--probably the one he respects the most.  Conrad, in 2011 was part of a three person team that summitted the central peak of Meru--aka the Shark Fin--long viewed as the hardest and most desireable first ascents in the world.  Over 35 of the best climbing expeditions had tried to ascend it prior to the 2011 climb--Anker's team was the first.  A couple of pics from that climb:

Anyways, Anders was able to interact with both Dave and Conrad--Conrad was returning from an aborted summit attempt as he has caught in the same electrical storm that the RMI team 6 was also caught by.  What a thrill for Anders!  It's like he was playing a real game of basketball with LeBron and Kobe....he is truly with some of the finest mountaineers on the planet--doing what makes them famous....

Sleep well Anders for tomorrow begins the truly steep and exposed climbing!

AC Denali Post 10: Safe at Camp Three

This is Judy (Anders' mom) taking over from Randy for this post.  I was very happy to just receive a call from Anders from 11,000 feet.  After about a four hour climb, once again starting in the wee hours this morning, the team had set up camp at Camp Three.  He said he is "doing really well" and enjoying every day.  We had missed his call yesterday, which is surprising given I've carried my cell phone just about everywhere since Anders has been in Alaska.  When he finally gets to read this, Anders will get a kick out of knowing that the reason we missed his call was his dad and I were playing corn hole toss against two of Kara's friends.  (we won, by the way)
So, Anders said both yesterday and today were tough days, hauling those heavy sleds and carrying fully-loaded packs up steep terrain.  Today was the last day they had to carry everything at once.  Tomorrow they will take some of their gear, climb up, and cache it around 13,000 feet, then descend back to sleep at Camp Three.  Then the next day haul the rest up.  This is the part of the trip where they go up a ways, go back down, go up again -- all to help acclimate and to help transport the gear in very steep terrain where pulling sleds isn't always feasible.
Anders sounds great and is really enjoying his fellow climbers and the guides, said everyone was really cool and getting along well.
For those of you interested in the "human side" of the story, here's how he described his 6 fellow climbers:
The youngest, Max, is 18 and is Anders tent mate.
An "older guy" (59), who had tried summiting once before with Dave Hahn and they weren't able to summit, and is now back for his second attempt.
A 30-something guy from Chicago, with a goal of climbing the 7 summits, who already has climbed Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, and Aconcagua
A 40-something very outdoorsy journalist from Men's Journal
A early 40's guy from San Francisco
And a young 30'ish Australian dude who just decided to sign up for this climb 2 weeks ago!

There are 4 RMI guides.  2 of them have summited Denali (many times) and 2 have a lot of mountaineering experience, but haven't yet summited this particular mountain.   RMI is a 40+ year, very highly regarded mountain guide service, so we feel like Anders and his fellow climbers are in good hands.

The satellite reception was sketchy, and we were disconnected about 6 times during our call, but hoping to hear from Anders again tomorrow!

AC Denali Post 9: Move to Camp Two recap

Dave Hahn posted the following about yesterday's move to Camp Two:

"Conditions at 4:45 AM were perfect for moving from 8,000’ on the Kahiltna Glacier to 9,600 ft.  So we did.  We’d gotten up at 2:00 a.m. to have a hot breakfast and we could see scattered clouds overhead and a cap above Denali’s summit but there was no wind.  Our route up Ski Hill was blissfully free of dicey crevasse crossings and the snow surface had frozen up enough to make walking and sled pulling a bit easier than yesterday.  Even so, Ski Hill was long, slow, and uphill.  We were up to 9,600’ in just over three and a half hours.  Already by this point, digging in and building a new camp in a beautiful place was becoming routine.  Clouds cleared down valley so that we had unobstructed views of nearly the entire length of the Kahiltna while we worked.  The sun became brutally intense by midday, but by then we were sheltered in the tents, napping, drinking water and reading.

We got together for dinner in the evening as things cooled down.  We talked strategy for our move to 11,000’, secured camp for the night and turned in early once again."

AC Denali Post 8

We missed Anders' phone call yesterday, which came unexpectedly late in the day.  He did leave us a message and reported that they had another challenging day of climbing but they had made it up Ski Hill and were safely in Camp Two at 9,500 feet.  He said the weather was nice and the views were fantastic.  As we post this on Sunday morning they are undoubtedly on the move to Camp Three at 11,000 feet.

Anders said he was feeling very good and that has pulse oximeter had given him a 97% O2 saturation, which is excellent--aparently the two months he spent sleeping in a hypoxic tent is now paying dividends.  Here is a map of the route and their progress to date:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

AC Denali Post 7: Yesterday Recap

As this is posted (8 a.m. EST on the 29th) Anders and his team are probably in transit from Camp One to Camp Two--we hope to get a Sat phone call from Anders this afternoon and will post an update then.  In the interim, find below Dave Hahn's post about yesterday. (In other news, RMI team 6 reached the summit yesterday--they are the team that had to turn around 150 feet below the summit ridge two days ago).

"As planned, we fired up the stoves shortly after our 1 AM wake up.  The plan in getting up so early, was to be moving during the coldest part of the day when we could hope that the glacial surface would be frozen solid.  That would make sled hauling and walking in general a lot easier than pulling through slush, but more importantly, a freeze would make things safer, bridging the crevasses we’d need to cross.  It was apparent this morning, as we ate breakfast and took down tents, that we weren’t going to get a hard freeze.  Temperatures hadn’t dipped low enough, and there was cloud overhead that seemed to act as a warm, damp blanket, insulating the glacier and messing with our plans.  But things had firmed up a little anyway, and by 4:15 AM when we hit the trail, snowshoes were doing the job in preventing “post-holing”.  Rigging up properly for such travel is far more complicated when sleds are in the mix, so the fact that it took some time to get organized was not unexpected.  That extra time paid off when we were able to move good and steady without any gear glitches or malfunctions.  The first hour took us down about 500 feet in elevation to the main Kahiltna Glacier where we turned North.  We began to meet a few rope teams on their way out and it was great to meet an old friend or two in passing and to hear of their adventures on the mountain.  Our second and third hour-long pulls took us past Mount Francis (hiding in cloud) and the junction with the East Fork of the Kahiltna.  By the fourth and fifth sections of the climb we passed the Kahiltna Peaks and made it to the NE Fork junction… about where we wanted to be at the base of Ski Hill.  By this point we were thankful to have cloud cover giving us relief from the sun as we built camp and crawled into tents for an afternoon snooze.
After a quiet and easy afternoon in the tents, we met for dinner in the deluxe POSH dining complex dug by Zeb, Erik and Mike King.  We turned in early once again anticipating another early start tomorrow. "

Friday, June 28, 2013

AC Denali Post 6: Safe and Sound at Camp One!


We talked to Anders around 4pm this afternoon our time and around noon his time.  He and his team had just finished the arduous climb up from Base Camp to Camp One at 7800 feet.  Here are the details:

Yesterday, they flew out from Talkeetna to the lower parts of the SE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.  They were on the ice around 10 a.m. or so and spent the day building their camp, preparing their equipment, and practicing all of the skills so critical to surving the hostile enviornment that they will be living in over the next 2+ weeks.  Anders said that they went down around 9 p.m. but he had a great deal of difficulty getting any real sleep (editiorial comment--neither of us could sleep on our first night on the Aconcagua's not a big deal in the grander sense but still a pain in the butt for sure!)

They "awoke" at 1:30 a.m. local and were rolling around 3:30 a.m.  Anders said it was one of the hardest physical days that he has had to endure.  He estimated his total equipment weight at 130 pounds--probably 60 on his back and 70 on the sled.  He said it was VERY, VERY difficult and we could certainly hear it in his voice.   He was very positive but clearly whipped from a hard day in the office.

The route was heavily crevassed--and for the most part very obviously so.  This lead to relatively safe travel but certainly a longer trek than a month ago.  That said, Anders did at one point fall into a crevasse and penetrated up to his upper thigh--not a big deal at the end of the day but still a sobering reminder of the need to stay focused.  Anders said that many of the crevasses were hundreds of feet deep...

After six and a half hours they reached Camp One at around 7800 feet--right below the infamous Ski Hill.  This will prove to be a major challenge for them tomorrow.  It took 90 minutes to establish Camp One and when we talked to Anders (noon local) he was getting ready to sleep.  He said it is was very warm and they had a thick cloud that had planted on top of them and it made it very sticky--he was just wearing his base layer.  They plan to do the same tomorrow morning and head up to Camp Two.  Anders said his team seemed strong (although it's still early) and all 11 (one climber opted out back in Talkeetna) are good to go....

Here is pic from Camp One and a look up Ski Hill:

AC Denali Post 5: On their way to Camp One this morning....

Here is Dave Hahn's update:

"We enjoyed a final, but ample breakfast at the Roadhouse and then hurried out to the airstrip to get ready for flying.  Sure enough, conditions were favorable and so we loaded up in two big and beautiful K2 Aviation ski-equipped Otters.  There was some smoke in the skies from forest fires and a little cloud as well, but we had magnificent views of forests, rivers, lakes… and then eventually of nothing but gargantuan mountains and glaciers.  Our pilots, Randy and Jeff, had us into the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and safely landed by 9:00 AM.  After unloading and a few handshakes, they were off and we were left in our breathtakingly beautiful new home.  We set to building camp and then spent a lazy afternoon reviewing rope techniques and getting set for glacier travel.  We ate an early dinner under the intense Alaskan summer sun, did a few more last chores and then turned in.  It was good to touch base, via radio, with the other RMI teams on the mountain and to feel like we’ll soon be joining in the fun.  The plan is to be up at 1 AM if the weather stays fine and we’ll hope to be on the march a few hours later."

Unfortunately, we did not receive any communication directly from Anders--hopefully his Sat phone is working--so we can't add anything....Hopefully, it will be possible for him to call from Camp One later today.....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

AC Denali Post 4: Looks like its game on!

We just received a couple of texts from Anders and it looks like there is a good chance that they'll get a chance to fly-out this morning (local time).  If that's the case, they'll fly 35 miles from Talkeenta at an elevation of 358 feet to the Kahiltna Glacier where base camp is at 7,300 feet.  Once on the ice, they'll spend the day preparing camp (this involves levelling the ice, digging a snow latrine, pitching tents, melting snow, digging a group kitchen and cook tent, etc.)  and getting their gear ready to travel.  They'll work on crevasse safety and rescue techniques and then leave about 3 a.m. (local time) tomorrow, Friday the 28th.

The climb from Base Camp to Camp One at 7790 feet covers 5 miles and they'll be carrying packs with 60 pounds and dragging sleds with another 50.  They'll use snow shoes to traverse across the glacier and will be roped at all times as the Kahiltna Glacier is extensively crevassed.  The start of the climb will test their sled management skills as it involves a descent of 800 feet down "Heartbreak Hill" so named because it's the last obstacle they will face upon their return in 2-3 weeks.  Here is an excerpt from the team's blog last night:

"The climbing team ate a hardy breakfast at The Talkeetna Roadhouse.  We talked climbing and safety as we chewed bacon and swilled coffee.  Our excellent meal prepared us for a giant day of packing and organizing to fly on to Denali.  Longtime legendary NPS climbing ranger Roger Robinson gave our pre-climb briefing at the ranger station, after which we trooped on out to the K2 Aviation hangar to get into the nuts and bolts of getting our gear ready for the mountain.  We worked through some unbelievably hot hours, checking tents, stoves, ropes, pots and clothes.  Massive cumulonimbus clouds formed as the day went along and thunder boomed, but the storm never really hit Talkeetna.
We enjoyed a great dinner together at the popular West Rib Pub and then turned in.  All were intent on resting up from this big and busy day to be ready for a bigger and busier day tomorrow, hopefully one that gets us onto Denali."

Here are a couple of pics from the team's activities yesterday--you can see Anders in all three:

RMI Team 6 (the prior RMI team) was 150 feet below the summit ridge yesterday when they were forced to abandon their day's attempt.  here is an excerpt from their blog post:

"We woke up around 7:30 with clear skies and no winds. We set off towards the summit with all of the crew feeling great. We experienced a little bit of wind and clouds at Denali Pass, but that is pretty normal. The climb was going smoothly and the weather was about as perfect as you can get.  We were about 150 feet below the summit ridge when the clouds came in and blocked out our sun. All of a sudden we heard a crack of thunder and all of the metal around us began to buzz. We hightailed it down to a depression in a feature called the football field where things seemed to be calm. By calm, I mean a whiteout snowstorm came out of nowhere!  We hunkered down and waited to see if things would settle down. When we were certain they would not, we worked our way down the mountain with GPS and some wands that mark the trail. After a fourteen hour climbing day, our whole team is back in camp happy, healthy, and fed having come a few hundred feet short of the summit but without a permanent stutter from electrocution!

Our plan is to rest tomorrow and perhaps give the summit another go in the next few days. We will see."

We'll post again today when (if) we here directly from Anders.....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AC Denali Post 3: Expedition Overview

RC here and I wanted to give you a brief overview of what lies ahead for Anders and his climbing team--so here it goes:

Denali (which means the "High One" in Athabascan--local folks), aka Mount McKinley is of course the highest mountain in North America and one of the Seven Summits.  It's summit is 20,320 feet and as such it is the 3rd highest of the fabled Seven Summits behind Everest and Aconcagua.   However, since Denali stands at a latitude of 63 degrees north (which is parallel to the Hudson Bay and central Scandinavia) the altitude actually affects one's body as if it was several thousand feet higher (the air in thinner, the closer one gets to the poles).  Denali is just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle and during the winter, it is one of the coldest places on Earth with temperatures routinely dropping below -95 degrees and with winds frequently higher than 150 mph.  In fact, on the first winter ascent of Denali (in 1967), the temperature dropped to an incredible -148 degrees F!  (Another effect of this high latitude is that it never really gets dark and indeed, Anders did not even bother to bring a headlamp even though most of his climbing will be at night.)

Anders, fortunately won't face these winter temperature extremes but make no mistake about it, Denali and it's formidable weather will present significant challenges--certainly during this expedition he will need to function and survive in -40 degrees and most likely have to sit-out several day snow storms with 5+ feet of snow.  Denali is considered more challenging in many respects than Everest since there are no porters or donkeys to assist in load carrying.  At each camp, Anders and his team will need to build their campsite, creating snow-walls to protect against the fierce wind.  They'll have to boil snow to have water to make meals and drinks.  They'll have to cache their supplies 6 feet down in the snow so that the Ravens that populate Denali's slopes don't eat their food and ravage their equipment.

Anders is in Talkeetna today and he and his team spent the day preparing their equipment for the days ahead.  Soon, and perhaps tomorrow, they'll fly to the base of the Kahiltna Glacier where they will face an 18 mile and 15,000+ climb to the summit.  The vertical in this climb is greater than mountaineers seeking to summit Everest have to overcome!  In fact, it has the highest base to summit of any mountain on earth that is entirely above sea level.  In terms of topographical prominice it is the third largest of all of the world's mountains behind Everest and Aconcagua.

On the climb, Anders and his team will establish 4-5 camps--often making double carries from one camp to the next.  They'll for the most part travel at night--leaving around 2 a.m. as it is very warm during the day now on Denali and the risk of crevasse penetration and rock fall is higher as the temperature increases.  Denali has the greatest crevasse risk of any of the Seven, although the Khumbu Ice Fall on the south side of Everest is certainly more of an objective danger than Anders will face on this climb.

Anders is climbing with an RMI team of 8 clients and 4 guides, including the legendary David Hahn (whom we'll detail on in a latter post).  This is RMI's 7th and last Denali team of the year.  So far, in 2013, RMI teams have enjoyed great success with the first 5 teams all summitting and the 6th still on the mountain.  Normally, about 1000 people each year attempt to summit Denali and the long-term average success rate is around 54%---although, this rate is lower later in the year as the heat makes conditions dicier.

Here is an excerpt from the team's blog yesterday:

"The last RMI Denali team of the 2013 climbing season is in place in Talkeetna.  All people (12) and all baggage (24 plus) made it to Anchorage without delay.  We met at four in the afternoon and shortly thereafter we’d connected with Bill, our Denali Overland shuttle driver and we began the shuttle to Talkeetna.  We got to feel the much discussed heat wave… It was hot.  We took a short break in Wasilla, to take on final provisions, and then Bill took us up to Talkeetna town.  Most elected to take it easy on this jet lagged evening, settling down to a comfy night in the Talkeetna Motel.
  Work starts tomorrow."

We talked to Anders tonight after he finished up the day's work.  He has met up with his team and likes them.  He was thrilled to meet Dave Hahn and during equipment check Dave complimented him on his crampons (which are mine) so that was kinda fun!  They had a very long day in Talkeetna today at the airport hanger sorting through their equipment and they are all set to go potentially tomorrow morning local time.  Anders has 71 pounds of personal gear and will carry another 30-40 pounds of group gear---having experienced a bit of what that is like I must say this represents an extraordinary physical's easy to dismiss this piece of data as numbers or stats but it really is pretty amazing when I think about the physical challenge that Anders will face--physically propelling 100+ pounds at altitude over 5-9 hours is not an easy challenge for sure.

The big issue right now is the weather.  As we talked to him the weather was over 90 degrees!  Alaska--really?  They are in the midst of a major heat wave right now--almost unprecedented.  It needs to get quite a bit colder or they may be shut out from any real summit attempt.  The big issue is trying to land the planes on the Kahiltna Glacier--when it gets hot like this the crevasses open up and it's too dangerous to land the planes.  They are about 50 miles from the glacier so it's too far to walk.  Another weather complication is that it looks like it's going to rain/snow until around July 3rd, which presents it's own set of challenges.  Nothing to be done about all of this now of course.  They have done all that they can do to prepare and they'll go if they get their shot....

Anders was in great spirits when we talked to him.  He is concerned about the weather but is prepared to enjoy himself no matter what the weather gods throw at him.

Here are a couple of pics--first a sunset view over Talkeetna Lake and then a couple of pics of the airport hanger where all the long hours of preparatory work took place today:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AC Denali Post 2

Anders arrived in Anchorage around 4 am EST--midnight local today.  15 hours of travel of course presents its challenges but AC reported that the trip was uneventful and without much stress.  He was able to sleep for about 6 hours in a hotel near the airport.  His two expedition bags totalled more than 100 pounds but he smooth talked his way past check-in.  One of the big challenges of a Denali expedition is the shear mass and weight of all the stuff that is necessary to ensure survival and success in this most inhospitable environment.  We'll see what he ultimately ends up propelling up the mountain as some of what he brought will stay below and he'll have to bring a significant amount of group gear as well.  Some of this mass will be on his back in his pack and some he will drag on a small plastic sled--a pic of him training for this in our backyard is below.

AC will meet his team around 9pm EST tonight at the airport and they will board a van to Talkeetna.  The van will be the first chance for Anders to meet his team.  He'll have the first "official" expedition meeting tomorrow morning.  I'll give a detailed overview of the expedition tomorrow.  Find below a few more pre-expedition pics:

Monday, June 24, 2013

RC leaving Mont-Tremblant and AC heading to Denali! (Denali Post 1)

I'm back at the beach tonight....definitely summer here--hot, humid and windy!

I did the IM Mont-Tremblant70.3 yesterday--very tough and very satisfying....I'll post a race report shortly but it was a great experience.  I high-tailed it back to DE right after the race--which is not so easy at 56 years but there you go....

I was very focused to get back right away so that I could see Anders off on his great adventure to climb Mount McKinley (aka Denali).  Denali is one of the 7 summits as it is the highest mountain in North America.  Anders has already climbed the highest peak in Africa (Kilimanjaro) and in South America (Cerro Aconcagua).

Over the next four weeks, Anders will be attempting to climb Denali, which most accomplished mountaineers feel is the 2nd hardest of the 7 summits,  just behind Everest.  He is climbing with one on the greatest mountaineers that America has ever produced, David Hahn.  I'll detail more on David and the other impressive climbers on his team in the days ahead.

My basic plan is to blog at least once a day--and Judy will probably jump in as well given her outstanding job blogging in support of Anders and my expedition to Acconcagua last January.  We'll do so off of the updates that we get directly from Anders via his Sat phone as well as other sources that we can access.  If you're interested, you can check RMI's blog each day at:

You can also access a site that gives you daily weather updates for Denali at:

The easiest thing will be to just check here as I will synthesize all the data I get and publish it here daily.

This is obviously a very big deal--one that Judy and I are very concerned as parents about.  That said, we are excited for Anders and are confident in his fitness and preparation.  The weather may prove to be a challenge as the record heat at Denali over the last couple of weeks has created extraordinary conditions.  There is an increased risk of rock fall and a much greater crevasse exposure that they'll need to deal with on this trip....

Over the next few days, as Anders gets situated in Alaska I'll outline many of the logistical challenges and the overall climbing plan that they have.  As the climb progresses, these blogs will be much more direct about what he and his team is actually facing day-to-day.

We hope that you'll tune in daily and provide us your comments as we follow Anders on this significant vision-quest.  Details will follow tomorrow but here are a couple of pics from his preparation and his departure today:

We look forward to your support during this great adventure!!!!!!

We'll get our first update from Alaska tomorrow as Anders flew from Philly to Pheonix today and will land in Ankorange about 4 am EST tomorrow....

Stay tuned...this will be exciting!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

St. Andrews Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Paul Schlosser Memorial Sprint Triathlon Race Report
June 16th, 2013


Location: Middletown, DE
Distance: 0.33-mile swim/15.5-mile bike/2.9-mile run
2013 Triathlon Race Number: 6
Career Triathlon Race Number: 132
Conditions: Low 70s.  A modest breeze, say 10-15 mph.  Clear and nice.  Water temp claimed to be 83 degrees but actually felt about 78-80.

After a two-year hiatus (graduation party and RAAM) I returned to compete in DE’s oldest triathlon—this was to be the 26th version of the race.  The race had recently been renamed to honor the passing of Paul Schlosser—one of my main competitors in Delaware through the years here.  I’ve blogged about his importance to me in my triathlon career before so I’ll just say that we all miss him and wanted to race as fast as we could in his honor.

This was the ninth time that I’ve raced this race—more than any other triathlon—so I guess you could say this is my favorite triathlon.  I’ve enjoyed some success here in the past with four wins, two seconds and a third out of eight races.  While the swim varies from year-to-year, the bike and run have remained identical so it does offer a good opportunity to see where I stand against prior year performances (which is less attractive as I get older).

The weather was very nice for a change.  It was a bit humid and there was a noticeable breeze but nothing too significant.  There were 210 competitors overall and 14 in my AG.  One of my competitors was Craig Holm, who holds the overall course record for the Caesar Rodney half-marathon, where he did a 64:54 in the 1982.  I knew I needed to have an ample cushion coming out of T2!  Us old boys were up in the 3rd of four waves and we all jumped off the dock and into the water to await the starter’s horn.

The Swim

Wayne (the RD) was using an assistant RD today and for some reason he announced the water temp at 83 degrees and for the first time that anyone could remember the swim was non-wetsuit legal.  The water felt like it was 78-80 degrees and I’m sure the RD could have justified a wetsuit swim.  Oh well, I knew this would ding me a bit in the swim but I wasn’t concerned given the swim was so short.  On that point, Wayne told me they made the swim longer than usual this year for a reason I didn’t understand and in-fact my Garmin measured the swim at 0.33-miles.

I started to the left away from the buoy line.  There is just one set of buoys and it looked to me that athletes in the first two waves who were right on the buoy line were crossing over and swimming into one another.

At the start I got off well and felt pretty comfortable.  I decided to just dial back slightly my effort to accommodate the lack of a wetsuit.  My goggles were nicked and the right one filled up with water.  This was more of a nuisance than anything and at one point I stopped to try to correct the problem—with only partial success.

After the turn, I drifted too close to the buoy line and ended up having to swim through some of the slower swimmers—this race could really use a second line of buoys!  I finally exited and scrambled up the muddy grass slopes in front of the St. Andrews campus.  I wasn’t shocked, but was still mildly disappointed to see my swim split was just 9:17.  As I mentioned, the swim was 0.33 miles, so this works out to a 28:08/mile pace—pretty slow indeed!  I took 333 strokes, which translates into 1.74 yds/stroke and 36 spm.

Competitively, I had my worst swim of the year as I finished 84th OA (60.5 %-tile) but I fared somewhat better in my AG, as I was 3rd.  Again no surprise I was slow without a wetsuit, but I probably should have been a good minute faster this morning—not the best of swims for sure.  Here is where we stood in the AG competition after the swim:

1.  Faccenda                  --------
2.  McHale                      + 1:49
3.  Christofferson            + 2:15
4.  McNaughton              + 2:16
5.  Sungtinette                + 2:48

Transition One

T1 at St. Andrews involves a lengthy run up the grass hill by the lake—my Garmin had T1 at 0.26-miles.  I continue my 2013 pattern of strong transitions and I complete T1 in 3:12.  This is the 32nd fastest OA (85.2 %-tile) and I’m at least 30 seconds faster than everyone else in my AG.  I see one of my competitors (McHale) fiddling around and I leave transition before him.  I also see that one bike is gone so I know that I’m leaving T1 in 2nd place:

1.  Faccenda                  --------
2.  Christofferson           + 1:23
3.  McHale                     + 1:27
4.  Volpe                       + 2:47
5.  Carey                       + 3:03

The Bike

I eagerly head down the St. Andrews road and exit the school grounds.  I feel like I’m ready to have a strong bike.  I’m at the end of my second week of my IM build phase so while my legs are a bit heavy with miles I’m also beginning to build some real fitness for the first time in 2013.

Naturally, with my slow swim and with two waves in front of me I’m passing many other competitors and this serves to fan my motivation.  I catch Faccenda just pass mile 2—having made up 83 seconds over those 2 miles—and I can tell by the way he is riding that he won’t be a threat in this race.  I’m able to stay on top of my pedals and I even feel that “pop” sensation I get when I’m having a strong bike.  I power up the hill that leads to the end of the first lap and can see that I’ll have no trouble breaking 40 minutes on this ride.  Here is what the first 8 miles looked like:

Mile 1: 23.9mph/156bpm/83rpm/272 avg watts/273 NP
Mile 2: 22.3/156/84/251/256
Mile 3: 22.4/155/85/249/250
Mile 4: 22.7/156/90/251/251
Mile 5: 23.8/156/86/247/247
Mile 6: 26.3/159/88/265/277
Mile 7: 24.0/157/82/279/282
Mile 8: 26.3/160/88/265/277

I feel very comfortable on my new TT bike and it feels very fast this morning.  I hit 37.5 mph on one of the descents and it feels rock solid.  The second lap is more of the same.  I hit a soft patch from miles 12 through 14 where I probably let my concentration slip a bit—I’ll need to really focus on staying locked in for the whole ride in future sprints.  Here are the last 7.5 miles:

Mile 9: 23.4/159/87/260/261
Mile 10: 22.8/157/89/249/255
Mile 11: 22.5/159/86/252/255
Mile 12: 21.6/156/86/236/238
Mile 13: 25.7/156/87/242/242
Mile 14: 24.9/155/88/237/238
Mile 15: 23.1/158/82/272/282
Mile 15.5: 21.5/159/82/262/276

I finish the bike in 39:16, which for the 15.5 miles works out to be 23.7mph.  This course has some hills and I recorded 433 feet of climbing.  My average power is 254 watts and my Normalized Power is 259 watts.  I average 86 rpm for my cadence and my HR averages 157 bpm.  The later number is surprisingly low and indicates that I have the potential to go a lot faster and that I’ll need to work more on 100-115% of FTP intervals over the next two months.  I have lots of historical data to evaluate this effort with so here goes:

Firstly, here is how my power has improved over the last 4 races this year—all the races that I’ve had my new TT bike:

Bassman (29.8 miles): 232 watts @ 155bpm
Escape DE (9.9 miles): 245 watts @ 165bpm
Genesis (15.0 miles): 251 watts @ 160 bpm
St. Andrews (15.5 miles): 254 watts @ 157 bpm

This is a very promising trend line and I should be able to put up some very strong bike rides over the rest of the summer!

Overall, I have the 3rd fastest bike split (99.0 %-tile) with only Blair Saunders and his son eclipsing my effort.  This is a very strong result and represents my most competitive bike split of my nine races here.  Here is where I have finished historically on the bike at St. Andrews:

2003: 9th/97.1 %-tile
2004: 8th/97.5
2005: 6th/98.3
2006: 6th/98.1
2007: 7th/97.7
2008: 8th/97.6
2009: 7th/97.8
2010: 10th/96.6
2013: 3rd/99.0

I also have some comparable HR/power data from prior years:

2005: 167 bpm
2006: 165 bpm
2007: 249 watts @ 167 bpm
2008: 254 watts @ 167 bpm
2009: 237 watts @ 164 bpm
2010: 250 watts @ 162 bpm
2013: 254 watts @ 157 bpm

Comparing my splits from year-to-year is less informative as the weather has varied quite a bit but this ride is the 4th fastest of my nine efforts here:

2003: 39:41
2004: 39:40
2005: 39:43
2006: 39:03
2007: 38:34
2008: 38:12
2009: 41:48
2010: 39:45
2013: 39:16

Lastly, I looked at how I did against three specific other riders who have raced here most times: Saunders, Mulveny, and Holmes.   Saunders is 48 and he always posts the fastest bike split here (he is a former Canadian National Cycling Champion), Mulveny is 42 and a perennial top-ten finisher at this race, and Holmes, 67, is an incredible cycling talent and I hope to equal his times in the years ahead.  Interestingly, when I average the bike splits of these three guys, it is always very close to mine—which means it can provide another measuring stick for my bike performance. 

A fair question at this point is why bother when I can compare OA %-tiles through the years?  Well, I worry that while I had my best OA %-tile this year, that perhaps it was because 3-4 guys who used to race here are no longer racing and therefore that standard has become easier.  Therefore, comparing directly to these three long-time, very strong cyclists gives me another view.  So what does the data say?  It says I nailed it this year!  Here is how I compared (plus means I was faster and minus means I was slower):

2005: +1.1%
2007: (3.7)
2008: (0.1)
2009: (2.9)
2010: (0.2)
2013: +2.6

Anyways, enough of this.  In my AG competition I put 4+ minutes on everyone on this bike leg and here is where we stood after the bike:

1.  Christofferson           --------
2.  Holm                        + 5:48
3.  McHale                      + 6:35
4.  Faccenda                  + 6:51
5.  Volpe                       + 7:17

Transition Two

As I rolled down the final part of the bike course I pulled up my averages page on my Garmin so I was well aware that I had put down an effective bike split.  I was confident that the race was mine at this point.  I focused in on my transition and once again (2013 is the year of transitions for me) executed a very solid T2—I completed my tasks in 46 seconds with an average HR of 158 bpm.  This was substantially faster than anyone in my AG and was the 28th fastest OA (87.1 %-tile).  With the bike and my transitions I had built an insurmountable lead—even given my run weakness and the strength of Holm’s run—and I knew this was true as I left T2.  Here is where we stood after T2:

1.  Christofferson           --------
2.  Holm                        + 6:04
3.  McHale                      + 6:58
4.  Faccenda                  + 7:27
5.  Volpe                       + 7:55

The Run

I struggled throughout this run—no two ways about it.  I probably could have run faster if I had competitive pressure but my legs where fried right from the start.  I’m not in good enough run shape yet to deliver the (even so modest) runs I expect.  That said I thought I gave it an honest effort.

My Garmin had a lot of trouble in the woods on this run course.  It’s a challenging cross-country run but it’s one of my favorites—a lot of up and downs, leaping over rocks and trees—very entertaining.

I exited T2 in 10th place OA and fell all the way to 31st during this run (85.7 %-tile)…pretty disappointing for sure.  My run took 24:22 to complete with an average HR of 162bpm.  At an estimated 2.9 miles this works out to a very disappointing 8:24/mile.  This is also 1:23 slower than I did in 2010, which was heretofore my slowest run on this course—yikes!  The 162bpm is telling as it indicates that I was a good 10bpm lower than when I’m really pushing.  Conclusion—I’m not in good run shape and I didn’t push hard enough today.  Oh well.

I was still fast enough to win my AG rather easily.  While I had the 95th fastest run (56.2 %-tile), I strangely enough had the second fastest in my AG.  Here is how we ended up in my AG competition:
1.  Christofferson           --------
2.  Holm                        + 2:48
3.  McHale                      + 7:08
4.  Faccenda                  + 9:15
5.  Volpe                       +11:39


It’s easy to conclude poor run/swim and excellent bike from the above.  I think that’s probably more true than not.  Still, the biggest takeaway I have is the progress on my bike and the seeming potential I have for the rest of the year—it’s possible that I’ll have an exceptional year from a bike perspective.

This was my 4th win out of the 6 races (2 seconds) this year and that is not so bad.  It was also my 42nd AG victory.  Never a bad race when that happens—quite satisfying actually! 

I for sure did not race well on the swim and run today.  That combined with my poor fitness in those areas makes it pretty clear what I need to work hard on over the next 14 weeks before Lake Tahoe—and so I will.

Next Sunday I’m doing Mont Tremblant-70.3 and I’m excited to do so.  My expectations are modest given my training history and demonstrated fitness levels.  At the very least, it will be a great training day as I build towards my “A” race of 2013 at Tahoe.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jersey Genesis Race Report

2013 Jersey Genesis Sprint Triathlon Race Report
June 8th, 2013


Location: Port Republic, New Jersey
Distance: 0.57-mile swim/15-mile bike/4-mile run
2013 Triathlon Race Number: 5
Career Triathlon Race Number: 131
Conditions: Mild—temp around 67 degrees.  Humid but not overly so.  Windy early but diminishing as the morning progressed.  Water temp of 63 degrees.

After a three-week racing hiatus that included our trip up to Boston to participate in Anders’ graduation from HBS, I returned ready to rock at this venerable Jersey classic-this was to be the 18th edition of this old school sprint triathlon.  For me, this is the 5th time that I’ve raced here having previously raced this race in 2002 (my 6th triathlon), 2003, 2010 and 2011.  This race has always attracted a strong cadre of Jersey Shore triathletes, typically in pretty good form, given the early summer timing.  It seems to also attract quite a few of the older stalwarts and as such, it’s been difficult for me to win this AG race.  I’ve enjoyed one first and two seconds in my four previous attempts.

For this year’s race, a smallish field of 201 individual people started (there were also 8 relay teams).  I can’t help but think that the very freakish weather associated with Tropical Storm Andrea that plagued us the day before and early the morning of the race might have discouraged quite a few folks from turning up.

I knew beforehand that there was a good M55-59 turnout (and 12 would race this morning) that was highlighted by my old buddy Mickey Syrop.  If you’ve read my blog and race reports through the years you know that Mick is the person I’ve raced more than any other person—in fact I had raced him 25 times previously (which is about 20% of my races).  I’ve enjoyed an 18-7 advantage against Mick through the years but I believe this statistic is quite misleading.  Mick has been challenged by something like a dozen knee surgeries, which led to a several year period where he was less competitive.  However, from 2009-2011 Mick usually got the better of me and indeed, Mick is one of those guys who races a lot and as the season progresses he becomes much stronger and tougher to beat.  In my view, when Mick is at his peak, he is the better Sprint Triathlete.

We both raced (in different races) a number of the same folks over the last few weeks of 2013 so I modeled how our current demonstrated fitness was likely to predict the head-to-head outcome of this race.  I used Blair Saunders and Katie Dickerson as my bridge competitors and determined that I was likely to be somewhere between 39 seconds behind to 28 seconds ahead of Mick—awesome!  Game on!

I saw Mick before the race and he told me that he saw that Nace Mullen had decided to enter at the last minute and so I knew that Mick and I would likely be racing for 2nd.  Nace is a fine triathlete who I have raced 16 times and have bested just once.  I haven’t raced him locally in quite a while but he did beat me rather easily last year at Kona.  He is a top 30-40 All-American in my age group and given my current fitness I knew I would have no chance to win against him this morning.

Also in the race was Tom Senff, whom I have raced 8 times with a 5-3 record.  I beat Tom earlier this year at Bassman despite my having a poor race and I expected to best him by a few minutes this morning.  Us old guys were in the 2nd wave and we soon found ourselves assembled on the beach ready to go.

The Swim

The swim is in the shape of an oddly dimensioned polygon in a brackish lake-like body of water, which in this race, one circumnavigates in a counter-clockwise direction.  I have found that its exact distance varies quite a bit from year-to-year (I think the tides influence where the buoys can be placed due to shallow waters some years).  It’s advertised as a 0.4-mile swim but it was clearly longer this year and my Garmin reported a swim distance of 0.57-miles.

Nace, Tom, Mick and I all lined up on the far right, away from the buoy line.  My pre-race analysis told me to expect Mick to outswim me by 35-74 seconds.  This is a reversal from recent years where I have been out-splitting Mick on the swim.  However, this year he seems to be in better swim form and with my limited fish time, I’m definitely not anywhere near my recent swimming fitness.

At the gun, all three of my main competitors swim smartly away from me.  While this was not wholly a surprise, the ease that they did so certainly was.  I tried not to let it affect me and swim my own race—I was prepared to give up some time in the swim this morning.  Throughout the swim I felt reasonably good, albeit slow.  I did not utilize drafting opportunities as much as I should have but otherwise did not make any major tactical errors.

I exited the water in 14:30, which I knew was a couple of minutes slower than last year—jeez, I’m slow I thought to myself.  Indeed I was, but not as much as I first thought as the course turned out to be a fair bit longer than in 2010 and 2011—everyone’s times were slower.  For example, in 2010 the fastest swim split was 9:07 and today the fastest was just 10:19.  Overall, I posted the 53rd fastest swim, which comes in at the 74.1 %-tile.  In contrast, my prior swims here were: 2002: 59.7%; 2003: 58.9%; 2010: 89.1; and 2011: 82.8%.  While I’m still a long ways ahead of where I was early in my career, my current swim fitness is off by quite a bit.  Based on my 2010 and 2011 results, I calculate that I’m about 80 seconds slower on this morning, which works out to be about 10 seconds/100 yards—this is consistent with my recent pool workouts.  During the swim, I took 526 strokes, which yields a 1.91 yards per stroke and 36 strokes/min.  Both of these are below where I’m at when I’m in top swim shape but the biggest problem is probably the yps number.  Again, none of this is a surprise and at this point it serves as a strong motivating factor—now that I’m in my IM build phase, I intend to get back to my normal swim levels over the next 6 weeks.

As for my AG, my competitors certainly had their way with me, as I was a dismal 6th out of the water.  As I hit the shore, I guess I might be as much as 2 minutes behind but fortunately, things were not quite that bad—here is where we stood after the swim:

1.  McGuire                           --------
2.  Senff                               + 0:02
3.  Mullen                              + 0:05
4.  Syrop                              + 0:23
5.  Pape                                + 0:26
6.  Christofferson                  + 1:09

Transition One

As I run through the rocky parking lot I’m aware that I have some ground to make up and I’m determined to do so in T1.  I’ve been doing rather well in my transitions this year and today is a continuation of this happy trend.  I execute my T1 in 1:43, which is good enough for 20th OA (90.5 %-tile) and 2nd in my AG to Mick.  As I run out of T1 I can see Senff mounting up (although I did not see Mullen nor Syrop who were just in front of him) and it occurs to me that maybe I’m not in as bad shape competitively as I had feared.  Here is where we stood after T1:

1.  Mullen                       --------
2.  Syrop                       + 0:06
3.  Senff                       + 0:13
4.  Christofferson           + 1:03
5.  Pape                         + 1:04

The Bike

I hop on my bike and start reeling in the many folks in front of me.  I’ll feel decent but there is a definite weariness in my legs from the heavier bike mileage I have logged over the prior week.  Nothing to worry about as I expect to race with heavy legs at “C” races during my IM build cycle.

I run Senff down relatively quickly and soon pass another 57 YO who happens to be in the Aqua Bike race.  Between miles 3 and 4 I pass another guy in my AG wearing a yellow tri-top.  I don’t recognize that this is Mickey (he usually races with no top or in different colors).  I shake my head as I’ve already passed 3 guys in my AG who outswam me and I believed that both Mick and Nace are still ahead of me.

All things considered, my output on the bike is pretty good and as I near the turnaround on the out and back course, I see Nace and estimate that he’s around a minute in front of me.  I don’t see Mick and wonder if he’s ahead or behind Nace.  Here is what my first 7 miles looked like:

1.      20.9mph/162 bpm/80 rpm/268 watts avg/268 NP
2.      24.9/163/86/258/263
3.      24.3/160/86/245/245
4.      24.9/160/86/253/254
5.      25.1/163/84/258/259
6.      23.8/158/83/243/245
7.      23.5/158/86/240/243

After the turn I just soldier on without a clear tactical perspective.  My power fades a little bit over the last 8 miles, which is in contrast to recent races and I feel this is probably more a mental issue than physical.  Here are the next 8 miles:

8.      22.5/159/83/265/266
9.      24.3/160/86/248/248
10.  24.5/161/88/264/268
11.  24.1/162/86/256/256
12.  23.2/160/88/246/249
13.  24.8/160/87/243/243
14.  24.3/160/88/242/246
15.  24.1/155/81/231/233

I roll into the dismount line with a bike split of 37:44.  This is my shortest bike split at Jersey Genesis but the RD changed the bike course this year and it was about a half a mile shorter than it was in recent years.  At the dismount line, Bostwick runs into me from behind knocking my bike sideways and almost out of my hands—this costs me a few seconds in my bike split as I have yet to reach the timing matt that captures my official bike split.

It turns out that I post the 7th fastest bike split OA, which is comparatively strong relative to my prior efforts here:

2002: 94.6 %-tile
2003: 98.3
2010: 94.3
2011: 91.6
2013: 96.1

This ride is noticeably better than 2011—the only other race I have power data from.  In 2011, I managed only 233 watts and this morning I averaged 251 watts with a NP of 254 watts.  My HR averaged 160 bpm and my average cadence was 85 rpm.  My average speed was 23.9 mph.

It’s interesting to compare this ride to my prior race at the Escape From Ft. Delaware.  At that bike, which was 10 miles, I averaged 245 watts and my HR averaged 165 bpm.  Today, over 15 miles, I output 251 watts but with a heart rate of 160 bpm.  I believe that this reflects the fitness changes in my body over the last three weeks as I have really amped up my bike mileage for the first time this year.  My cardiovascular system has built enough endurance fitness now that my leg strength is more of a limiting factor.  This bodes well for the rest of the summer, as my leg strength will improve with all the miles I’m now riding.  Still, at 251 watts I’m about 10-15 watts off where I’m at when I’m really on.  I no longer think my new TT bike and it’s fit is an issue and this shortfall is principally a reflection of my current fitness.

Nace actually puts 2 seconds on me in the bike (the first time I’ve been out split in my AG this year) but I put substantial time into everyone else—notably, I’m 3:42 faster than Mick.  Here is where we stand after the bike:

1.  Mullen                       -------
2.  Christofferson           + 1:05
3.  Syrop                       + 3:50
4.  Senff                        + 3:58
5.  Pape                         + 6:30

I was 2:45 ahead of Mick at this point.  Before the race I had predicted a lead of from 1:45 to 2:33.  If I had known that I had this lead I would have felt reasonably confident at this point.  However, I still wasn’t even sure if I was ahead or behind of Mick!

Transition Two

After the bump with Bostwick at the dismount line I was a bit flummoxed but soon refocused on trying to execute another solid transition.  I think I did so (for the most part) and ended up with a T2 of 0:55 with an average HR of 155 bpm.  This turned out to be 40th OA (80.6 %-tile) and it was the 3rd best in our AG.  Here is where we stood after T2:

1.  Mullen                       --------
2.  Christofferson           + 1:17
3.  Syrop                       + 3:59
4.  Senff                        + 4:18
5.  Pape                         + 7:18

The Run

I headed out onto the run with a very poor understanding of where I stood tactically.  I knew Nace was ahead of me and not coming back.  I had no idea where Mick was.  I was however, pretty confident that Tom and the rest of my AG competitors where not going to catch me given my bike split, which I felt was pretty solid.

I was soon aware how leaden my legs were.  Hmmmm—I’ve seen this movie before.  It is what it is so I just decided I was going to try to run as hard as I could and see what happened.  I thought about where Mick likely was.  I decided there were several possibilities:

-      after his strong swim start, he had some problems on the swim and actually exited the swim behind me
-      he had a difficult T1 and I passed him in T1
-      he had bike mechanical issues and had dropped out on the bike
-      he was having the bike split of his life and despite the 251 watts I had delivered, he was better and was now if fact in front of Nace
-      I passed him somewhere on the bike and just didn’t notice it and he was now some undetermined time behind me

I applied Occam’s razor to evaluate the competing hypotheses.  The first implied that I assume that Mick had a bad swim despite his clearly superior (relative to me) recent swim performances.  The second implied he had a bad T1, which he never has had in my experience.  The third was possible but I didn’t see anyone on the side of the road and the possibility of that seems small.  The fourth required me to assume for the first time in 25 races, Mick was stronger on the bike than me.  The last just required me to assume that I missed him somehow in all the people I passed on the bike.  I therefore concluded I was now in 2nd.  I assumed I had passed Mick somewhere on the bike and just didn’t see him.  That conclusion was not super helpful, as I had no idea how far ahead I was.

This became more of a concern when I hit the Mile 1 split in 8:28 with a 163bpm HR.  I had predicted that Mick would be 2:15-2:30 faster than me on the run but that was off of my performance at Escape From Ft. Delaware where I averaged 7:46/mile.  Frankly I would not have been surprised to have Mick come running past me even at this early stage of the run.  Be he didn’t and I decided to just stay focused on myself and try to push the pace as best as I could despite the fatigue in my legs.

Mile 2 came in 8:25 (163 bpm) and my legs began to feel a bit looser and I was (somewhat) pleased to hit an 8:04 (165 bpm) for Mile 3.  I made the next to the last turn and crossed the steel bridge wondering where Mick was—I still didn’t look back.  I just put my head down and kept pushing.

As I was running down the stretch before the final turn, Nace came out and decided to run with me and try to “help” me and urge me on.  Now, as I understand USAT rules, this is a violation and I’m not sure how you feel about someone who kicked your ass running in front of you urging you to go harder and dig deeper when you are already fried, but this did not go well with me.  None-the-less, I persevered and actually delivered my 4th mile as my fastest at 8:01 (170 bpm).  Although all four miles were painfully slow, for the first time that I can remember I consistently got faster as the run progressed—thanks be for minor miracles—and a low starting base!

I finished the run in 33:13, which is 2:05 slower than 2011 and 1:47 slower than 2010 and reflects my poor showing on the run today.  In fact I have the 101st fastest run OA (50.1 %-tile) and I’m getting dangerously close to falling into the bottom half of the run at a local sprint for the first time.

Strangely enough, I fair a lot better in the AG competition.  I have the 4th fastest run with Mick being just 4 seconds faster and Tom 2 seconds faster.  As it turns out, Mick has had a poor run for him as well and I comfortably capture 2nd place in my AG with a time of 88:17.  Overall, I finish 30th.

So, a weak swim with a pretty solid bike with a very poor run yields an expected result.  I probably should have been 3-4 minutes faster with my normal fitness level but that would not have changed the AG outcome.  Had Mick been on his A game I was probably ripe for the picking this morning.  But there you go.

I’m in my IM build now and I hope to see my fitness steadily rise (of course so will my fatigue).  Hopefully I’ll see continued evidence of fitness improvement at St. Andrews this weekend.  Stay tuned!