Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

Getting on a plane to fly home now.  It was quite the epic experience on the 22nd.  It was by a long shot the hardest single day athletic challenge I've ever faced.  We had a close to 25% DNF rate.  It was 25 degrees at the start and the water was somewhere between 58 and 62 degrees.

I had a fantastic swim....my third fastest IM swim.  The bike was amazingly difficult...it took me 7:23--over an hour longer than my previous slowest.  I thought I did really well on the bike...so many people were not even able to make the bike cutoff.  Despite being conservative on the bike, my legs were dead on the run.  I persevered with quite a bit of walking and finished in 14:53, which is about 70 minutes longer than any other IM I've ever done.  Despite this, I finished in the top 35% or so of my AG and I did manage to snag the XC Kona slot!  So the miracle has happened again and I can look forward to toeing the line in Kona for my third time next October (2014).

It was a humbling experience...so difficult, but so beautiful and rewarding!  I'll file is full race report in a few days....

It was great having my Mom, Judy and Anders with and helping me.  I feel pretty good right now...sore for sure, but happy to have number twelve in the books....very satisfying!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Here we go!

Back at the hotel around 8pm and pretty much ready to go.  It rained and rained and rained all day today.  the winds blew.  The waves were enormous.  Horrendous conditions.  the water temp fell all day and is now 57-58 degrees.  We picked up Anders at the airport and stopped in Truckee for some Pasta--a bunch of cars in the parking lot had snow on them--the snow level was apparently between 7,000 and 8,000 feet.  The top of our highest climb is 7200 feet.

Forecast for tomorrow is 27 degrees air temperature at race start with no precip and little wind.  By 10 it should get into high 30s/low 40s.  Looks like its a go at this point.

I've done I can do.  It's going to be very cold but I think I'm ready for it.  I'm going to be very conservative--especially for the first 5 hours of the race.  My objectives are:

1. Stay safe (this is the prime objective)
2. finish and be grateful
3. do as well as I can
4. Qualify (if I do the above three then I think this fourth one takes care of itself....)
5. Have Fun (if I hit 1-4, then there is a good chance for 5...)

Beam me positive vibes!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Under 60 hours till go time

Cruising along here in Tahoe.  I've been joined by Judy and my mom, which is a real plus!  The Expo opened today--they seem less exciting as time goes on....still, I did buy a shirt....

I got out on my bike at 7:15am this morning to test out some of my bike clothing--it was 27 degrees!  There was frost on the golf course....So it was cold but I think I have things figured out.  Toe warmers for the feet.  I have a thermal layer and a wind jacket up top--this seems to do the trick--although I was still a bit chilly.  This combo will be too hot at some point--maybe as early as the end of the first lap (around 45-50 miles in).  I'll probably have too shed a layer at some point.  I'll either do knee warmers or a light outerpants on the bike.  The key will be all dry clothes in T1 (will be a long one) and taking time to get fully dressed for a winter bike ride before I leave T1...

Swim was again 59 degrees.  The first 300-500 yards are pretty rough but then I do settle down reasonably well.  I've only been swimming 20 minutes so it's hard to gauge how cold I'll be for the full 2.4 miles.  I'm going to probably swim with a neoprene hood to try to keep my core temp up during the swim.

I ran 2 miles from the T2 exit and hit the first mile in 7:25, which is either a good sign or evidence of a mis-marked first mile...I'll let the reader form his or her own opinion...I felt pretty good--I do feel the altitude for the first few minutes but then my HR does seem to settle a bit.

We had our XC dinner tonight...great to see many friends....some interesting developments from a competitive perspective...more on that later.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Confronting What You Fear

I spent a bunch of time this evening cleaning out my e-mail account.  I went from 1,432 e-mails to 926 e-mails.  Alas, it would seem that I'm as bad in the E-World as I am in the "Real World" at cleaning out my closets!  Maybe by the end of the week I can get down to 500 or so.....

Anyways, I took a break from this no-fun task and spent the last 30 minutes or so just thinking about how I feel about IMLT....here is where I came out:

- This course really concerns me.  Not the swim nor the run--even though if you know me, you would think that would be where I should have concern.  But its the bike--not the climbs but the fast descents....I'm a wimp on this and I'll have a hard time getting my concern about this out of my mind until I finally hit the flats after Dollar Hill the third time around 100 miles into the ride...

- That said, I've consciously and with a lot of fanfare chosen a path with my life to periodically put myself into a place that is physically uncomfortable, that causes me some fear and entails some risk--IMLT it is now clear is definitely one of these things.

-I know many others in this race and not in this race will look down on this fear I have of going fast downhill on the bike but I'm fine with that

-I'm going to leave my ego at the door and race MY RACE.  This will, because of my timidity, include some pretty conservative descending on the 7 significant descents in this race.  That said, I'm going to push it (a little bit--I'll seem slow but I want to get out there at the edge of what I'm comfortable with--I'm going to confront my fear, a bit.  I'm not going to go crazy but I'm going to trust my preparation and skill.)

-I have confidence in myself and my preparation.  I have done 136 triathlons to date and a bunch of gnarly bike rides (including RAAM) so I know that I have in the past and I will on Sunday make it work.  I can do this and I'm going to get behind the positive mental momentum that comes with confronting what you fear and knowing you can overcome....

-Of course, I'm racing too and I want to get to Kona.  But hear this, it's all secondary at this point to being safe, to finishing, and to feeling good about what I do over those many hours come sunday.  I'm comfortable that I'm prepared for that and I'm optimistic I can do it--and I'm going to bring that optimism to eveything I think and do until I cross that finish line on Sunday night (probably pretty late--lol!!!!)....

More on the racing and the Kona thing later....

Tuesdays at Tahoe

Settled in here in Tahoe.  i would say about 5-10% of the athletes are here--the lodge I'm staying at is mostly deserted and it's very easy to walk into a restaurant and sit down.  The WTC gang is building IMLT City right outside my window--it's fascinating to watch it grow.  They set up the merch tent and a massive tent structure that I gather will be the pre-race pasta/mtg place.  Transition is set-up as well.  It looks somewhat smallish but the bib numbers go up above 2800 so I guess it's the usual IM thing.

Today was a challenge.  Last night I could hear the winds picking up and this morning i awoke to major gusts and sustained wind--20-35 mph!  I went down to King's Beach around 8 am or so to see about swimming and decided against it.  It could have been done and several folks did it but the waves were huge and it didn't seem like it would really help me--I hope the winds die by tomorrow morning.  The winds were so strong that they had issued a small-craft advisory for lake--If this had been race morning I'm pretty sure they would have cancelled the swim--I think it would have been impossible for the safety kayaks to stay upright.

I decided to ride up from King's Beach to the Ritz up at the base of the Northstar ski resort up around 7200 feet.  To get there I climbed up the Brockway descent and then descended the Brockway climb.  the later was terrifying--they are paving the road in preparation for the race and there are lane closures and lots of traffic.  I then climbed up to the Ritz and turned around to do the 2 major descents of this race (which we have to do twice each).  The Ritz drop is about 800 feet or so over about 2 miles or so, which works out to about an average grade of 8%.  It's full of twists and turns and is exposed in many parts of it so I was fighting some gusty crosswinds, which is not a calming experience with an 808 front wheel.  I stayed on the brakes a lot--I'm sure I'll be one of the slower ones in the race--I'm just too chicken.

At the bottom of the Ritz descent I then did the 4+ mile climb up to the Brockway Summit.  This I found fairly manageable in my 34/27 although it spikes up to 9-11% at the top and for a short period of time I was thinking a 34/29 might be nice.  My NP was 202 watts btw, which indicates that I was working at an intensity facor of 75-76%, which is above the target of 70-72%.  there's not much to be done about it however.  I was careful with my power spikes--the physics of this climb (and I suspect the one that leads up to the Ritz) are such that for at least 4 times (and probably 7 if you throw in the 1-mile climb up Dollar Hill), I'll have to be burning more matches than is optimal for an IM bike--I suspect even if I try to recover on the flatter sections and average down my NP and AP that the variability of the ride will come back to get me on the run....nothing that I can see to do about it however.

The drop from Brockway was once again unnerving for me.  I just really dislike high speed sustained descents on my bike.  I was very conservative again.  This second descent is about twice as long but it has less technical challenges and it is modestly less steep.  Bottom line, I'll be a lot happier after I get to mile 95 or so and I have these 4 mothers behind me!

I do seem to be handling the altitude pretty well although when I went for a 2.5 mile run this afternoon, I was a bit short of breath for the first 4-5 minutes and then I seemed to settle in....

More tomorrow.....

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the ground in Tahoe.....OMG!

Super nice trip on the way out here to Tahoe.  I got up at 3:45am and was on the road by 4:05 to PHL.  all checked in with my bike coffin and my wheel hardshell by 5:00am.  Flight was aloft at 6:55am and I was on the ground at 8:45 PST in PHX hacing slept for 3 hours.  Off again, after a short delay to Reno and landed at 11:55 PST.  all my bags out promptly and in the rental by 12:30pm.  At the Squaw Valley Village at 1:15.  I did a quick unpack to see if any major damage occured to bike and equipment and the initial prognosis was all good!

I proceeded to head down the 15 mile trip to King's Beach with the intent of determining how much of an impact would the 6200 feet of elevation have on my swim.  I arrived there and was confronted with the physical reality of a very strong S/SW wind blowing towards the northerly shore that King's Beach resides at.  I saw another IM soul exiting the water--she was about 28-30 and heavily tattoed.  she surely could kick my ass--for sure on sunday IM-wise, but moreoever if a general hand-to hand battle were to break out.  I asked her about the swim and she was waxing eurphoric about it.  She was from Marin and she swam all the time in San Fran and thought this was lovely water to play in.  No wetsuit for her.  I asked here if she had ever done another IM and she said yeah--just one, St. George, which she had done 3 times, and she also told me she was 1 of only 80 or so folks who had ever done so.  She told me that IMs were not that interesting from a challenge perspective generally to her and that is why she only picked the hardest.  I asked her about IMLT and she seemed geneuinely enthused....great!

Anyways, I did make my way down into the 3-4 foot waves blasting up on shore and absolutely loved my swim.  Of course, the wind chop was a challenge but on race morning this should be gone.  The lake itself was delightful, about 63-64 degrees which I think is perfect for an IM.  The water spectacularly clear.  And the biggest discovery is, at least for the 15 minutes I swam, the altitude was pretty-much a non factor.  Maybe I was swimming too easy because of the waves but I'm pretty confident I can swim a descent time and keep the whole O2/altitude thing under control.

I then proceeded to drive a lap of the bike course.  OMG!  all bets are off after seeing this.  My objective in this race will have to be to be safe and make sure I finish.  This will be unquestionably the hardest IM bike leg I've ever had to deal with--by quite a bit--it may even be the hardest single bike ride  I've ever had.  Tremendous cimbing and scary desents combined with 6000+ altitude.  I could be looking at close to am 7-hour bike leg....

Back at the hotel, i was successful in seting up my bike and I intend to get up tomorrow on the two major climbs (which we do twice) and see how much of a challenge they will represent to my bike riding skills...also, an early morning swim and a bit of the run-course on tap for tomorrow.

I'm well positioned and very pumped.  I'm also convinced that this will be the hardest triathlon that I've ever competed in....ok--fair enough, bring it on!!!!   I'm ready!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Taper time

One week out from IM 'Hoe!  Tapering away--mostly IM intensity workouts of modest duration--the longest thing I did was a 2:10 bike mid-week.  I've got the ususal I feel wierd taper thing going.

I leave tomorrow morning early and should get to Reno around 11 their time.  I hope to be in Squaw Valley at the hotel by 1.  Tomorrow my plan would be to drive the bike course and head down to the lake for a short swim--I want to get a sense of how much I'll need to dial back my swim effort with the altitude.  Tomorrow night, I'll put my bike together.

I'll ride a fair amount of the course on Tuesday--my last ride of any real significance as well as another swim and perhaps a short run.  I'll take at least one full rest day on Friday and I made add another one on Wednesday.  We'll see how things unfold.

Weather forecast is improving.  It's going to be cold in the morning for sure but the latest forecasts are nonlonger calling for rain/snow, which is of-course a relief.  Right no it looks like a high of 61 and a low of 38 on race day.  I'm bringing several options for clothing on the bike.  The water temperature is currently an ideal 64-65 degrees.  I'm happy with this forecast--I'd much rather deal with cold than heat for sure.

The Rim fire still burns but it looks like the smoke problems in Tahoe have largely abated!

More from California as the week unfolds.....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Diamondman Race Report

2013 Diamondman Half-Ironman Race Report
September 8th, 2013


Location: Lum’s Pond State Park, Delaware
Distance: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.6-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 10
Career Triathlon Race Number: 136
Conditions: Unexpectedly hot and humid.  High above 90 degrees with challenging humidity.  Wind was a factor—probably 10-15 mph.  Water temp of 76 degrees.

Just two weeks before my only “A” race in 2013 (IMLT), I was using this race as a final gauge of my fitness before Tahoe as well as a return to the scene of my first long-course Ironman race.  Back in 2002 I did my first Half-Ironman with a 5:12 at this site.

I entered the race with a short three-day mini-taper, which really was the beginning of a 17-day taper for IMLT.  There were 166 entered OA and 7 in my AG.  As I looked at my AG competitors, only Chad Pearce was a real concern—Chad is a long-time LC specialist with many fine half and full IM results.  That said based on his race last here at this event where he did a 5:24 I was reasonably confident I could prevail.

The Swim

After getting set-up in transition and chatting with Chad I made my way down to the pond.  Lum’s Pond is definitely not the nicest place to swim in the world and over the years I’ve raced here 4-5 times and have never been able to make the top 3 in my AG—I was hoping today might be different.

As we were waiting for the start I meandered over and sat on a picnic table with a young Black man (I mention his race solely because he was sitting in the most desirable spot near the water and he was all alone—could be coincidence but I doubt it) and we chatted for a while.  He had competed in the race the year before and ended up in the hospital with kidney stones.  He was excited that the weather looked like it might be nice but I cautioned him that it was going to be a lot hotter than one might expect and certainly hotter than the prior two weeks.  I didn’t know at the time that I was talking to the eventual winner of the race (Larry Hutchinson).
Anyways, the ladies went first and all us boys followed 5 minutes behind.  The swim course was essentially a rectangle with an in-water start.  The leg to the first turn was at least 400 yards so it was possible to find relatively congestion-free swimming space.  I don’t have much to report on the swim, as I was pretty confident that I was the strongest swimmer in our AG and as such I took a pretty conservative approach to this swim.  I really did not find anyone to draft off and eventually found my way to the swim finish with very little of remark.

I exited the swim with a split of 35:50, which was a mild disappointment.  Last year at this time I did a 34:22 at Shoreman on a course that measured 1.32 miles.  I had the Diamondman course this year at 1.27 miles.  Throwing out the course deltas, I was about 4% slower than last year, which I guess should not be surprising—given my approach to swim training this year.  Still, I had hoped that my recent push in swimming might have caught me up to prior years’ fitness levels but this swim indicates otherwise.

The disappointing nature of the swim was reinforced by my relative competitive results as well.  I had just the 57th best swim OA (66.3 %-tile) and while I didn’t know it, I was actually well behind Pearce with the second best swim in my AG.  At the end of the day, I must conclude that I’m 1-2 minutes slower than I should be at this point in the year and this will probably cost me 3-5 minutes at Tahoe.

I took 1290 strokes in this swim (36spm) for an average dps of 1.73 yds.  Not that encouraging.  I averaged 28:16/mile.  Here is where we stood in my AG after the swim:

1.  Pearce                             --------
2.  Christofferson                           + 2:48
3.  Gramm                             + 4:06
4.  Aker                                 + 4:31
5.  Chambers                        +10:06

Transition One

I ran over the root and rock strewn terrain and through the pond-side woods to T1.  I was a little disappointed with my swim split but shrugged it off by thinking that my swim was probably still good enough to top my AG.

I got to my spot, and has been the case for much of this year, I executed a solid transition.  My T1 split was 2:43, which turned out to be the 11th fastest OA (94.0 %-tile) and the fastest in my AG.  Only as I was leaving T1 did I glance across the aisle and note that Chad was already gone.  This was a stunner for me.  Until that point it had never entered my mind that Pearce had out swam me.  As I sprinted to the mount line I was filled with a sense of determination to ride him down as quickly as possible.

1.  Pearce                             --------
2.  Christofferson                           + 2:26
3.  Aker                                 + 6:01
4.  Gramm                             + 6:54
5.  Chambers                        +12:10

The Bike

After mounting I carefully negotiated the roads in the park until we reached the main road about 1.5 miles in.  I then set about trying to run Chad down.  I had no real idea of how much Chad had outswam me but in my mind I guessed it was likely to have been 60-90 seconds (not the 168 he had in-fact put on me!).

Two years ago about this time I had averaged 221 watts at SkipJack on the bike and last year I did 201 watts at Shoreman.  I was hopeful to be closer to 220 this morning (but SkipJack was probably my second best triathlon of my career so maybe I was being a bit delusional).  I had tested my FTP at 280 this summer so 225+ certainly seemed reasonable.

As I hit the first 5-mile lap I noted my power was only 202 watts and given how I felt, I sensed straight away that my power goals might have to be more modest:

Mile 5:  22.5mph/159bpm/85rpm/202 watts AP/203 watts NP

I was a little concerned that I had yet to see Chad and I kept anxiously looking up the road for him (he was in a distinctive IMLP shirt).  Finally at about 9.3 miles I closed in on him.  I threw a few logs on the fire and went by him at 25+ mph.  I didn’t know it at the time but I was moving at 15-16 sec/mile faster than him through this first 9-mile section, which would indicate that I’d get off the bike with a 12-minute lead.  Based on my (false) assumptions about my disadvantage I was guessing that I was looking at only a 5-8 minute advantage after the bike, which did concern me. 

I just tried to relax and stay comfortable during this early part of the race.  There were quite a few turns and an out-and-back section that had a surprising amount of hills:

Mile 10: 22.5/157/90/207/209
Mile 15: 22.2/154/88/205/207
Mile 20: 23.0/153/87/206/210

At this point in the race I felt pretty good about things.  I was averaging around 205 watts, which seemed ok and I was spinning well.  My HR was higher than I would have expected but I was unaware of that at this time.

After the turnaround, which was around 22 miles or so we came into a surprisingly strong headwind.  It was clear to me right away that it was going to be tough to break 2:30 on this bike (which I had fully expected to do).  The bike was turning out to be harder than I had expected and I also began to sense that I wasn’t 100% this morning.

I carefully looked for Pearce and saw him shortly after the turn.  I calculated that I was now 160 seconds ahead of him, which indicated that I was riding about 13 sec/mile faster than him.  Based on this, I now estimated that I would hold a 7-minute lead on him getting off the bike.  Helpful, but too close for comfort for sure.  There wasn’t much to be done about it however as in my judgment I was going about as fast as I should given how I felt this morning.

Mile 25:      21.8/152/88/201/203
Mile 30:      20.5/151/88/201/206
Mile 35:      21.6/150/87/200/203
Mile 40:      22.6/152/89/193/195
Mile 45:      23.3/150/86/193/196

As the above numbers indicate, I lost a bit of focus between 35 and 45 miles.  There were very few people on the road in front of me and I was busy convincing myself that I was a stronger runner than Chad and so I would be fine AG wise.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was also blowing my energy and more importantly fluid intake as I had not properly modified my plans for the increasingly challenging conditions this morning.

I came back into the wind and looked for Chad after the final 180 turn but never saw him.  I continued to be convinced that I would have a 7-9 minute lead leaving T2.

Mile 50:      21.3/152/87/206/208
Mile 55:      20.3/152/89/199/204
Mile 56:      20.9/157/90/210/210

I jumped off the bike with a 2:33:00 split.  This is off-course disappointing.  I averaged just 201 watts with a NP of 204 watts.  My measured IF was just 77.2%, which means I was 20 watts short this morning—a pretty big shortfall.  I averaged 21.9mph with an average cadence of 88rpm and an average HR of 153bpm—the later is worrisome given my lack of power.  My TSS was 147.5, which indicates a very conservative ride.  I recorded 869 feet of climbing and burned an estimated 1684 calories during ride.

From an external perspective I had the 9th fastest bike OA (95.2 %-tile) and was dramatically faster than anyone in my AG—in fact, I ended up beating Pearce by over 15 minutes which led to a better than expected gap after the bike:

1.  Christofferson                           --------
2.  Pearce                             +12:42
3.  Aker                                 +28:03
4.  Gramm                             +35:09
5.  Chambers                        +49:54

Transition Two

As I jumped off my bike I noted that I felt pretty good and in my mind I had an eight-minute lead on Chad—which seemed to me as good enough, but not without risk.  As I was doing my T2 stuff, I saw Larry come in shortly after me and as I ran out of T2 before him I said hi and told him I’d see him soon enough on the run.  Little did I know I was leading and talking to the eventual race winner in T2.  I had the 36th best T2 (78.9 %-tile) and I lost 39 seconds to Chad and as such had the 2nd best T2 in my AG:

1.  Christofferson                           --------
2.  Pearce                             +12:03
3.  Aker                                 +29:12
4.  Gramm                             +39:03
5.  Chambers                        +51:16

The Run

Naively, perhaps, I was really looking forward to this run.  It’s an interesting run with about 6 miles of true cross-country running and then a few miles along the canal that connects Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake.  I was pretty confident that I would run under 2 hours.  I was in for a big surprise.

I don’t have any HR info for the run as I forgot to pair my new HR strap to my 910 but I was a bit surprised at how hot it was on the first mile and how slowly I was running.  The next couple of miles confirmed that this was going to be a very challenging run.  It was brutally hot and there was limited fluid and energy available on the course.  I began to get a sense that I might be in a bit of trouble.  My first three miles were: 8:59/9:23/9:23.

At this point I was resigned to a slow run and just wanted to nab the AG win.  Based on his past performances, I was anticipating that Chad was going to average 9:30/mile so I was feeling comfortable that I was staying reasonably even with him on the run.  As we wound our way down to the canal I became aware of how brutally oppressive the conditions were.  Not as bad as Eagleman or Gulf Coast of 2008 or IM Germany of 2010 but pretty bad for sure.

I became concerned as I continued to slow out to the turn-around on this out and back course.  My next three miles were 9:58, 9:58, and 10:24.  By this point in time it was clear that the course was miss-measured as well (and it would turn out to be a half-mile long at the end) and I began to feel pretty concerned about my ability to hold onto first in my AG.

I tried to run hard after the turn, as I wanted to look strong when Chad came by the other way, which he did about 4 minutes after I made the turn.  This indicated that I was still 8 minutes ahead, which was a real plus in my mind.  Based on this, I felt I was probably running the same pace as him over the first half of the run course.  In fact, I had already lost 4 minutes too him and I was not feeling well at all—if I had know this I probably would have conceded that I was destined to finish second.

I kept pushing on but beginning around 7 miles I felt a profound sense of fatigue.  One of the water stations had run out and I felt like I was frying out there.  I knew I had screwed up and was now facing both an energy and a fluid bonk—not fun campers!  I ran the next miles along the canal in 9:56, 10:01, 10:54, and 11:57.  The last mile included some walking up the steep hill up away from the canal.

In my mind, I had probably lost 3-5 minutes relative to Pearce after the turnaround.  I was cooked.  I began to get dizzy and my arms and calves began to cramp pretty badly.  I had 5-k to go and I decided that it didn’t matter if I won or not (although, that was really not true).  I wanted to just finish in one piece and to get my mind focused on IMLT.  If Pearce caught me that that’s the way it goes—I tactically blew my energy/fluid plan today.

I could barely manage 150-200 yards of consecutive running before I would feel faint and my legs would really cramp up.  Mile 11 was 12:21 and mile 12 was 12:30.  Shortly after 12, I almost fainted and a giant horsefly started attacking me and bit me 4-5 times before I killed him—the bugger was about 2 inches long!

I made a deal with myself.  I convinced myself to just keep pushing through the woods and then when I got to the open field—about 400 yards from the end—I could look back and see if I saw Chad.  If not, I could just walk it in.  If I saw him I could just walk it in as well as I was completely fried and worried about just getting across the line.

When I reached the open field I looked back and saw---nothing!  So walk I did, except for the final 50 yards and mercifully I finally crossed the line.  I stopped and almost immediately passed out.  My blood pressure plummeted and I bent my head over just 5 feet past the finish line to try to keep enough blood in my brain.  This attracted the attention of a cop and a paramedic.  They attended to me for the next several minutes right there at the finish line (during this time Chad finished) and they eventually brought me a chair where I sat for 15 minutes with cold, wet towels draped over me.  Eventually, I was able to get it together and while I’ll spare you the details of what happened post race, suffice it to say, I was a hurting puppy.

My run split was 2:27:41.  For the 13.62-mile course this works out to 10:51/mile.  There was 299 feet of climbing on the course.  Only Pearce was faster than me in my AG on the run and he too had suffered mightily down the stretch.  I was just 82nd OA on the run (51.2 %-tile) and I finished 41st OA (75.9 %-tile) with a time of 5:40:59.  Here is how we finished in my AG:

1.  Christofferson                           --------
2.  Pearce                             + 2:07
3.  Aker                                 +62:16
4.  Gramm                             +64:43
5.  Parson                             +77:56

Winning ugly is the only way to characterize this.  I really sucked it up down the stretch despite feeling worse than I have in all but maybe 2-3 prior races.  This was very, very hard.  I did get the victory, my 7th in 10 races this year and the 45th of my career and I feel like I really earned it.  Beyond that, I’m going to mostly ignore this race and look forward to IMLT with optimism.  Sometimes, you have a tough day in the office.  I give thanks to have persevered despite that today!                       

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Diamondman--and the implications for Tahoe

So I raced Diamondman this past weekend--tough day in the office.  We were thrown a bit of a curve ball with very warm, breezy and humid conditions (and a longer, mis-measured running course).  It was a real sufferfest for me (and many others) out there for sure.  My swim was a bit off as was my bike but I really crashed on the run.  There wasn't enough fluid on the course and I probably didn't react aggressively enough to the enviromental challenges and got way behind on my fluid and energy.  I defintely paid the price.

In any event, it was a very hard fight I fought to get to the finish line and still hold on to my AG victory--which I did (I'm 7-3 this year....) so I take solace in that.  I did get some good power data, which I think alows me to set a power target for Tahoe:

1. At Diamondman I averaged 201 watts (204 NP) with a HR of 153bpm.  My Garmin tells me this equates to an empirically derived IF of 0.772.  Normally, I'd want my IF to be 0.85, which means I probably should have done 221 watts for this race but given my high HR, either I had something going on in this race that was holding me back or my body was diverting resources to try to cool things down a bit.

2. In any event, an IF of 0.772 implies my actual best FTP this year is 260.4 watts (this is what I have demonstrated in my races this year).  I have achieved 280 watts on my computrainer.  If I use the lower number as my FTP, then this implies an target wattage for my IM of 182-187 watts.  The higher number yields 196-202 watts.  The lower target implies my IM power will be 7-9% lower than my H-IM power.

3. In comparison, here is how some of my prior H-IM/IM races have gone:

2007: White Lake Half: 228 watts/IMFL: 211 watts (IM is 8% lower)

2008: Gulf Coast Half: 222 watts/IMAUS: 168 watts/IMCAN: 185 watts (17-24 % lower)

2010: Oceanside70.3: 174 watts/Kona: 170 watts (2% lower)

2011: SkipJack: 221 watts/ IMAZ: 184 watts (17% lower)

2012: Shoreman H-IM: 201 watts/Kona: 174 watts (13% lower)

4. This data is all over the place but I draw the following conclusions:

- My best two H-IMs were WL07 and SJ11 where I averaged 228 and 221 watts respectively.  I was a lot fitter in 2007 than today and I think that I'm similar to where I was in 2011.  My current FTP tells me that I should have hit 221 watts this past weekend but I didn't.  In truth, most H-IMs I can't hit 85% of FTP--I probably did in 2011 but my effort in 2007, as good as it was, was probably below my potential on that day.  I conclude 2011 was probably the best model for me and I hit 184 watts reasonably comfortably at IMAZ that year.
- I didn't have a great day on Sunday, only hitting 77% of FTP and this tells me that I'm better off using the lower FTP number for purposes of planning for IMLT.

5. Therefore, I would normally think the right power target for me is 180-190 watts.  When I hit 184 watts at IMAZ in 2011 this yielded a 5:25 bike split, which leads me to believe I'm looking at 6+ hours at Tahoe....a sobering conclusion for sure.

6. Beyond that, I'll be keeping these things in mind:
- At 6-7,000 ft+ of altitude, I'll have to carefully monitor my perceived effort and be prepared to back off.   Most of the data I've seen says at this altitude you lose about 10% of your FTP--this would imply knocking my target range down to 160-170 watts.  Even if I used 280 watts as my FTP I'd still get 175-180 watts.  These are pretty scary numbers--this is going to be a very long bike ride.
- I think I didn't have the best day on sunday.  I certainly wasn't fully tappered.  Perhaps, I'm being a bit negatively biased by that....
-competitively, to get the Kona slot, I've got to make it happen on the bike to have a chance--this tells me I need to be prepared to roll the dice a bit.

So based on all of this, my plan is:

lap 1: 175-180 watts/limit my peak power to 200-210 watts on the two big climbs
lap 2: the same or perhaps change target range based on how I feel.  If I feel good, go up to a max of 180-190 watts/same hard limit on the climbs.  If I'm a bit stressed, I'll back off.
lap 3: whatever makes sense at that point
Based on competitive feedback, decide how to make tactical adjustments to this plan on the fly.

I'm heading out there on Monday and plan to recon the course quite a bit so I should be able to get a better sense of the merits of these thoughts as I put some test miles in on the course....

More on this later as well as my Diamondman race report....