Monday, May 23, 2016

Last week's totals

A big week time wise.  However, a lot of that was focused around climbing post the Kinetic race a week Sunday.  Also, up in Boston for my youngest's graduation...lots going on but will soon settle in at the beach for more regularized try training....

Swim: 1,500 yards
Bike: 194 miles
Run: 10 miles
Hiking/Climbing: 13:45
Weights/Stretch: 2:01
Total Time: 30:23

Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 Kinetic Sprint Race Report

2016 Kinetic Sprint
May 15st, 2016


Location: Lake Anna State Park, Virginia
Distance: 750-meter swim/15.3 mile bike/3.14 mile run
2016 Triathlon Race Number: 3
Career Triathlon Race Number: 149
Competitors: 563 overall and 24 in my Age Group
Conditions: 54 degrees and very windy.  Choppy waters at 62 degrees.

Just two weeks after my somewhat surprising AG victory at Rumpass, I once again drove the 207 miles south to Lake Anna for my third triathlon of the 2016 campaign.  The Kinetic sprint is “big” (as far as local Sprint triathlons go) and historically very competitive.  I did this race twice—back in 2007 and 2008—when I was in considerably better shape than now, and finished 2nd in my AG both times.  The course has been modified during the interim with the bike being shortened from 17.5 to 15.3 miles.

Looking over the roster of pre-registered guys in my AG (and the race day entry of Oxman), it was really clear I would have trouble finishing any better than 5th.  Even at the peak of my capabilities, I’d probably, at best be the 3rd or 4th fastest guy in this race.  Still, I was eager to race again and hopped to demonstrate some improvements in my fitness over my prior two races. 

I drove down the day before, checked out the course and picked up my race packet.  I returned to the Thornburg Holiday Inn Express for a quiet pre-race evening.  The race was set for a 9 am send off so I didn’t even have to set my alarm clock for the following morning.

The Swim

It was cold and unsettled race morning—this spring has been trying on us East Coast triathletes!  At least it was dry, which was unusual over the prior 30 days.  The wind was light at 6 am but increased steadily throughout the day and well into the high 20s/low 30s during the later stages of the race.  By the time I swam it had picked up enough to create a noticeable chop that definitely impacted the swim.

I was in third wave at 9:08 with all of the 45+ guys—we had 135 in our wave.  It was a clockwise swim and I would have preferred to have started on the buoy line, but opted to go to the outside left (even though I breathe predominately on my left) to avoid a lot of traffic.  The course was in shallow water off the beach with two right turns and a return to the beach a bit closer to transition.  It was advertised as 750 meters and it looked pretty accurate to my eye.  Ben Foy introduced himself to me just prior to the start—he finished second to me at Rumpass—and provides a yardstick for comparing my relative performance between the two races.

At the horn I found relatively clean water and with the exception of some minor tussling at the two turn buoys, I enjoyed a relatively contact free swim.  I felt a little slow and uncoordinated.  This seemed to amplify after the each of the turns as at the first, we swam straight into the wind driven waves and at the second, the waves came into my breathing side.  I didn’t feel real off but my sense was that I was having a slow swim.

I exited the water in 14:55, which confirmed my suspicions about a slow swim.  My Garmin clocked it ay 816 yards or 746 meters so a well-measured swim course.  I averaged 34 strokes per minute (which is a couple of strokes off my A game) and a dismal 1.57 yards/stroke, which is a good foot short—some of this the current state of my swim fitness and probably some of it was caused by the conditions.

In any event, I had the 5th fastest time in my AG (83.3 %-tile) and the 118th OA (79.2 %-tile).  Not a disaster, but not helpful from a racing perspective—I’m anxious to get up to the Jersey Shore and start making some improvements in my swim.  Compared to Foy I was 16.5% faster in this race, while at Rumpass, I was 14.6% faster—so I did a bit better according to that yardstick.  In any event, here is where we stood after the swim:

1.      Oxman                         --------
2.      Fayyad                         + 0:33
3.      Palowitch                     + 1:28
4.      Isley                             + 1:43
5.      Christofferson              + 2:03

Transition One

The Kinetic transition is a bit of a klugie thing—a long run into T1 followed by a big uphill after exiting T1. My T1 took 3:21 and covered 0.21 miles.  I thought I executed a reasonably strong T1—which is more technical than T2, so no surprises that I generally do better in T1 than T2, given my experience base.
In any event, I had the 2nd fastest T1 in my AG (95.8 %-tile) and the 95th fastest OA (83.3 %-tile).  While I was still in 5th in my AG, I was able to make a significant dent competitively (cut my deficit in half):

1.      Oxman                         --------
2.      Palowitch                     + 0:09
3.      Fayyad                         + 0:36
4.      Isley                             + 0:42
5.      Christofferson              + 1:01

The Bike

This was a 15.3-mile lollipop course that was impacted by both the rolling terrain and the strong and growing wind.  I’ve never been super strong on this course and today wasn’t any different.  The initial half of the course was to the north and then northwest—into the teeth of the wind.  Additionally the first 2.5 miles (and the last) were within the park on an uneven, twisty road so this held the average speed down.  Here is what the first five miles looked like (speed/heart rate/cadence/average power/normalized power):

1.            14.8/163/79/215/222
2.            21.3/161/84/202/202
3.            19.4/161/79/214/214
4.            20.7/160/81/207/208
5.            23.1/160/79/214/214

You can see after the very slow first mile I just plugged along until I hit the descents in Mile 5 and began to get rolling.  I passed a guy in my AG during this first 5-mile segment so I knew at that point that I did not have the fastest swim—which was no surprise.

After mile 7 we moved into a cross and then subsequently a tailwind so my pace began to pick up:

6.            20.4/162/75/241/243
7.            17.6/161/76/218/218
8.            25.5/160/75/202/203
9.            24.7/160/77/225/227
10.        18.9/159/75/233/233

During this 5-mile stretch I passed two more guys in my AG.  Also the above splits seems to indicate I was grinding too much and I would have benefitted by spinning at 5-10 rpm more…something to work on for future races.
Down the stretch I had to deal with a couple of guys who wanted to let me know they were better cyclists than I (they were wrong) and I generally pushed it pretty hard—here are the last splits:

11.        20.5/161/76/225/227
12.        24.3/162/80/220/221
13.        22.0/161/76/218/220
14.        23.8/164/81/236/236
15.        23.9/166/79/217/219
15.3    13.0/161/64/175/191

The power profile from 6 on is very encouraging.  I was a little tentative early in the ride but my output down the stretch indicates I can definitely go harder in future races.  My AP for Miles 1-5 was 210 watts but the grew to 224 in the middle 5 and held steady at 223 watts for the final five.  I finished the bike in 43:50 and the distance clocked in at 15.3 miles.  This translates into the following stats: 21.0mph/78 rpm/161 bpm/219 watts AP/221 watts NP.  Comparatively, here is how my bike rides for my first three triathlons this year look, stat-wise:

                                    Pasadena  Bumpass    Kinetic

Distance (miles)               9.6             12.0         15.3
Climb (ft.)                         377             108          577
Heart Rate (bpm)                        ?               159          161
Cadence (rpm)                  75               81            79
Speed (mph)                    20.4           21.1         21.0
Average Power (watts)             220            211          219
Normalized Power             220           213          221

Obviously, still a long way to go to do what I normally do on the bike but I feel like my next couple of rides should jump up above 230 watts, which would be respectable, given my training limitations right now.  Also, relative to Foy I was 13.2% faster today vs. 11.0% faster at Rumpass.

From a competitive perspective, I had the 2nd best bike split (95.8%-tile) in my AG and the 40th OA (93.1 %-tile).  Due to a drafting penalty for Oxman, I moved into 2nd in my AG, although I still physically had two guys in my AG up in front of me:

1.      Palowitch                     --------
2.      Christofferson              + 1:42
3.      Isley                             + 2:04
4.      Oxman                         + 3:28
5.      Ortiz                             + 3:29

Transition Two

After dismounting at the bottom of the steep hill (not the easiest thing), I ran quickly into T2 with a sense of urgency as I knew two guys from my AG were likely right behind me.  I executed what felt like a solid T2 in 1:26.  This was good enough for 2nd in my AG (95.8 %-tile) and 105th OA (81.5 %-tile).  Here is where we stood (Oxman was actually 1:34 ahead of me leaving T2 but these results reflect his penalty):

1.      Palowitch                              --------
2.      Christofferson                       + 1:40
3.      Oxman                                  + 1:56
4.      Isley                                      + 2:06
5.      Ortiz                                      + 3:34

The Run

I made my away across the long grassy stretch and then up the steep hill and passed the bike mount line and began heading out the park.  All things considered, I felt pretty good.  The first mile had most of the elevation gain in this run (125 of the 167 feet) and I pushed pretty hard to record a 9:21 first mile with an average HR of 165.  Isley passed me (as did Oxman although with the penalty this was just officially and not physically).

The second mile was flatter and I pushed a bit harder and split the 2nd mile in 8:56 with a 167 bpm HR.  During this mile Dyer passed me and I’m guessing so did Ortiz, although I never saw him (could have been wearing compression socks).  The last mile was partially on pavement and partially on a narrow, winding but paved path through the woods, and featured quite a bit of downhill running.  I split my third mile in 8:30 with an average HR of 166. 

I pushed steadily through to the end of the race and recorded a 27:47 for the run with an average HR of 166 bpm.  Objectively, this is still quite slow but does represent an element of improvement for me.  The chart below compares my three “5k” runs this year:

                                    Pasadena           Rumpass             Kinetic

Distance (miles)              3.30                    3.06                  3.14
Time                                29:46                  29:03               27:47
Pace (min/mile)               9:02                    9:30                  8:51
Heart Rate (bpm)                        ?                       161                    166
Climbing (feet)                  121                     217                   167

Competitively, I didn’t compare too well as I had the 13th fastest in my AG (50 %-tile) and 329th OA (41.7 %-tile).  I dropped to 6th OA in my AG (79.2 %-tile) and 111th OA (80.5 %-tile) for the full race.

1.      Palowitch                     --------
2.      Oxman                         + 1:27
3.      Ortiz                             + 3:04
4.      Isley                             + 4:49
5.      Dyer                             + 5:46
6.      Christofferson              + 7:02

Despite this, I think this was a solid race for me.  Even with my A game, I would have had only an outside chance of being 4 minutes faster and probably 4th is as best as I could do against this field.  I’m pleased with the progress on my bike and run.  Also, I dropped 23 pounds between Pasadena and Kinetic and looking ahead, I’ll have more balanced energy in/out (indeed, I’m trying to go from 7% body fat to 5%, while keeping my weight around 173—so add some muscle mass) going forward and I predict this results in faster times in the races ahead.

Onward and upward!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

My "diet"

OK--generally I've achieved what I set out to do--I'm down over 23 pounds in about 6 weeks.  I'm going to stop weighing my food/counting calories/measuring the caloric output of my workouts, etc.  Henceforth, I'm going to be very focused on the input and output but just frequently measure my weight to ensure i stay lean.  Below is a graph that shows my predicted weight (based on all of my calculations) vs. my actual--the blue line below--very, very successful program.  Now I'm focused on keeping my weight between 165-175 and feeding the furnace!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

SNP hikes

As I mentioned, after the Kinetic triathlon I drove about 90 minutes west to Luray and met up with Judy and friends Paula and Lori for a couple of days of trekking/climbing in Shenandoah.

On Monday (5/17) we did the Knob Mountain/Jeremy's run loop and we were treated to an absolutely perfect day.  We have a bunch of real nice pictures which I'll post when I get on top of my picture management queue in a few days.  This hike took 7:29 and covered some 13.5 miles and 2,575 feet of elevation gain:

Tuesday dawned cool and rainy and indeed it rained steadily all day.  We opted to do the Buck Hollow/Buck Ridge/Mary's Rock "lollipop" climb, which i did back in 2013.  I was trying to give us something a little easier due to the rain and our need to drive back to DE after the climb.  while shorter at just under 9 miles, this climb actually had more elevation gain and quite a few steeper sections--note Miles 4,5 and 7 all had more elevation gain then any mile from the first day:

I'll post some pics from this and our trip from 2 weeks ago shortly.  Also, I'm working on the Kinetic race report and will get that up soon as well.....

Training is going very well now and my body feels great....I have a weigh in on Saturday but I know I'm very close to reaching my 25 pound reduction target....

All good!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Quick Kinetic Post

Finished 6th in my AG.  My swim was pretty weak (I think), my bike ok and my run showed a lot of improvement....Very competitive race for sure.  I'm on balance pretty happy with it.

Down in Luray, VA now preparing for two days of big hikes....

I'll post a full race report in a few days.....

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Turning potential into Kinetic--the law of conservation of training and racing energy

LOL--sorry about the title...but it might be at least a bit on

I'm on the ground in Thornburg, VA for the 2016 Kinetic Sprint--a 750 meter swim/15.5-mile bike/3.1 mile run affair--once again on Lake Anna.  this is probably somewhere around the 8th-10th time I've been here--most recently for my Rumpass race of two weeks ago and most famously, when I saw Anders win, outright, the HITS Odyssey Half-Ironman....

I left just before 10 am this morning and drove the 207 miles to Lake Anna State Park--aka Race Central--getting there around 2:45.  I snapped a picture of the hill that Anders ran down for his triumphant moment and I must say, my memory of that day is still very sharp--what a great day for us Christoffersons!

Anyways, I oriented myself to the swim/transition area and then drove the bike and most of the run course.  I had hoped to ride the bike course as well but a torrential rain storm (what is up with all the rain this year?) convinced me to read my book ("Five Big Mountains") and wait for packet pick-up.

Had a normal pre-race dinner and am locked and loaded at the Holiday Inn Express here--which is a cut above my usual fare.

The Kinetic sprint is probably the biggest/local race I race (recognizing that these are contradictory adjectives).  there are 712 people registered with 27 in my AG.  Three of those guys are most definitely better than I (Dyer, Ortiz, and Palowitch)--three All-Americans.  In my day and on my game, I could beat one of these guys, had a chance with another, and no chance with the third.  Fourth place seems like a good outcome tomorrow!  There is at least one guy I raced two weeks ago also racing in this race so hopefully I can get some useful comparative data on my race that is not wholly dependent on AG place.

I have to say, I really, really love being here.  After the storm a beautiful night and back in the room and getting everything set, i have a quiet satisfaction and calmness about my place in the Tri world.  I know I don't have many more races left in me, but I know I'll most likely have a fun day and do pretty darn good for a man with and who definitely knows many of his limitations....Also, this is no question that being able to turn the potential of my training into the "kinetic" of my race is critical to my motivation to train as hard as I do given my physical limitations...I train harder when I know I race and most importantly, I enjoy the training a ton more!

After the race I'm heading for Luray, VA  and meeting up with Judy, Paula and Laurie and the four of us will tackle some pretty strenuous Shenandoah NP hikes/treks/climbs on M/Tu.  Paula (and Danny and Caroline) are climbing with Alex and I at Kilimanjaro in September....It's supposed to be low to mid 50s and sunny up on the AT--should be amazing....

should be glorious....should be hard...  I think my body is ready.  If it is, I'm a truly blessed soul....If not, still pretty blessed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

week ending 5/8

A bit of a recovery week more driven by my travel calendar--down in Naples, FL visiting my Mom for two days and then two days at the Shore---limited my swim access (very rough water in the Gulf and 53 degree water at the Shore):

Swim: 4,000 yards
Bike: 192 miles
Run: 17.5 miles
Stretch/weights: 1:10
Hike: 1 hour
Total time: 19:38

Friday, May 6, 2016

1 2 3 4 5 6

Just had to post this screen shot with the count of page views on my  blog....!

Shenandoah Climbing/Camping

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Judy and I joined the Barrs for a two-day climb/trek (Thursday the 28th and Friday the 29th) down in Shenandoah before my triathlon in Rumpass, VA on Sunday.  In addition to the experience and the training, we build this trip around an evening camping at the Big Meadows Campground--to try to hone some of our camping skills--in preparation for our planned 7/8 day hike through Shenandoah, which is targeted for late October.

The Barrs drove down on Wednesday and Judy and i hit the road around 4:30 or so on Thursday morning.  We met up with the Barrs at Panorama--the northern most part of the Central district--and then we drove 20 or so miles on Skyline to the campground.  We parked our cars and quickly geared up for our first hike.

It was cool (around 50) and intermittently raining throughout the hike.  I had designed an essentially counter-clockwise loop starting and ending at the campground that took us passed three major water falls:

We had a very enjoyable hike and we all seemed to be quite strong on this trek.  I definitely noticed the 15 pounds I had recently loss and I felt I had another climbing gear all day.  The last couple of miles were pretty demanding as we had a nearly continuous ascent of some 1400+ feet back to the campground:

The climb, when all was said and done encompassed about 14.8 miles and 3,150 feet of vertical ascent and took us nearly 7:40 to complete--a pretty big effort for sure:

We averaged, including our breaks (which, with the exception of exploring the big waterfalls were few in number) about 31 minutes/mile--Our fastest was 19:12 and our slowest was 45:41--a big part of which was playing around on one of the falls:
It was a great hike and we were all a bit weary, wet and cold when we rolled into camp 5pm.  We quickly erected the tents and our 16X16 tarp and good thing, as it begin to really rain hard for about 90 minutes.  Danny and the girls huddled under the tarp, laughing at the absurdity of the situation and dug into our ample supplies of food and wine.  I elected to take a hot shower ($1.50 for 5 minutes) and change into drier clothes and soon the rain stopped.  We had a great evening, eventually getting our fire going and cooking up some burgers and dogs and washing said delights down with wine and too much scotch.  

We all crashed around 11 or so and the next thing I knew it was nearly 8am--which was the time we had planned to drive north for our second hike.  Of course, we had to dismantle our campsite, make some breakfast and pack up first (with fairly fuzzy brains) and by the time we did so and then drove about 40 miles north through Panorama and into the Northern District it was close to 10:30 before we began our second hike.

The second hike is what I call the Three Cemetery Hike (although, I've only found two of them) and it's the same hike I sat down just 10 feet from a mother black bear and three cubs a couple of years ago while training for Aconcagua.  No bears this time, but once again it was around 50 degrees but with only a bit of rain.  It was however very humid and we hiked in surreal and very beautiful fog for much of the hike (I'll try to post some pictures later)....

We had targeted a 10-11-miler for our second day but you'll notice a little spike at 5 pm off the circular path that was our intended route.  This added out and back were a result of some pretty basic navigational errors on my part--a bit embarrassing and something I've avoided the other 30-40 times I've hiked here--hopefully lessons well learned and never to be repeated.

Anyways, due to my errors we ended up covering 14.2 miles with about 2400 feet of vertical ascent.  This took us nearly 6:30.  We were able to average about 27:30/mile, due to the relatively easier terrain on this hike versus the day before:

We were all pretty tired by the end of the thing and interested in getting off of our feet.  My knee swelled up and was quite stiff and painful--something, if you've read my earlier race report you know about, I would have to deal with while racing on Sunday and at the orthopedic on Monday.

Still, great times with great people and money in the bank as we build our fitness for the challenges to come--which for me include Elbrus in July, Kilimanjaro in September, and our 108-mile SNP Appalachian Trail section hike in October....

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rumpass in Bumpass Race Report

2016 Rumpass in Bumpass Sprint
May 1st, 2016


Location: Bumpass, Virginia
Distance: 750-meter swim/12 mile bike/3.1 mile run
2016 Triathlon Race Number: 2
Career Triathlon Race Number: 148
Competitors: 271 overall and 8 in my Age Group
Conditions: 50 degrees and rainy—heavy at times.  Light winds of 6-8 mph.  Lots of casual water on the course and in transition.  Wet, 100% humidity.  Calm waters at 66 degrees.

It’s been six weeks since my 2016 triathlon opener in Pasadena.  I missed toeing the line at the Oceanside Half due to the need to provide some care for our little dog Roxy, so I was excited to race again.

My immediate preparation in front of the race, while rewarding and motivating, was not ideal for the fastest racing.  Firstly, I was three weeks into a quite restrictive diet regime where my goal is to drop 25 pounds off a body that returned from California at 196.4 pounds.  I am measuring my food, counting calories and journaling my energy balance and just prior to the race had dropped 14.8 pounds through day 17 of the diet.  This is very rapid weight loss but I felt great and am well on my way to the low 170s—hopefully there by Memorial Day.  One side effect, as you might expect, is lower than typical energy levels—most of measurement devices were showing that I was off 10% or so from my normal power output.

Perhaps more importantly, due to some scheduling conflicts a group of us delayed a couple of big Shenandoah National Park hikes until the Thursday/Friday before the race.  These two hikes were quite strenuous and encompassed some 14+ hours, 29 miles and over 5,500 feet of vertical ascent (and a similar amount of descent).  Friday afternoon found my legs quite fatigued and my left knee very noticeably swelled.

My knee has been relatively stable since I last had it drained, received a cortisone shot, and completed my last knee lubricant injections in December.  I’ve been cautious in the amount of running I’ve been doing and very diligent with the PT program designed to help, especially with the complications that arise with my bum knee.  By Friday evening, as I bid adieu to Judy and my friends and drove to Fredericksburg, my knee had become very swollen and my range of motion was quite compromised.  (In fact, I made an unplanned visit to see my ortho on Monday after the race and he drained 47 cc of fluid out of my knee--47 is substantially more than my prior “record” of 27 cc--and gave me another cortisone shot.)

I had a day of rest on Saturday and rested, stretched and iced various parts of my body.  I did a trial ride on my bike and had quite a bit of difficulty at the top of the stroke on my left side—my knee just couldn’t bend very much.

As you probably also know, I’ve had a relatively light training program year to day so I was also showing up to the race not as fit as I normally am in early May.  This is part of the design for 2016 as I’m just trying to return to triathlon from my recovery year in 2014 and at the same time, build my trekking/climbing fitness for my expeditions to Elbrus (Russia) in July and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) in September.


It was a 9 am start so race morning was comparatively easy.  I had a 32-mile drive down from Fredericksburg to the Lake Anna Marina, where race central was.  The conditions were pretty dreadful, cold and rainy, and the transition area was a bit of a swampland.  This chased a lot of would-be triathletes away—in my AG only 8 of the 16 registered triathletes actually started (although I didn’t know that until after the race).

I’ve raced the Rumpass twice before—winning my AG both in 2009 and 2012.  However, the race site today was different from both that of 2009 and 2012 (this race is returning after a four-year hiatus) and so it’s hard to make some comparisons from then to now.

One thing was the same in 2016 and that was the need for me to have a comparatively strong swim and bike and offset my weakness on the run.

I was in the third wave leaving at 9:08 and I jumped in the water about 8:55 to warm-up.  Thankfully, in the water I literally felt warmer as the water was 15+ degrees warmer than the air.  This was a three-turn clockwise box layout.  I noted that the first turn buoy had drifted to the left quite a bit and the most direct line was to start way to the left about 40 yards from the inside start buoy.  I was all by myself way out to the left when the gun went off.  It was probably 300+ yards to that first turn buoy and I felt great right from the start.  Obviously, I had clean, uncontested water and was looking at the peaceful shore scene to my left as that is my preferred breathing side.  From time to time, I’d breathe on my right side and I could see there were just a few who appeared to be swimming faster than me.  My wave was comprised of males 50 and over and so I was uncertain exactly where I stood against the 55-59 year-old crowd, but I guessed I was well positioned.

I felt very comfortable and controlled—especially considering it was my first open water race swim since Kona in October 2014.  I probably didn’t push it the last 4-5% that I might have but that’s a refinement I can add in later races.  I found myself passing quite a few folks from the earlier waves so I sensed things were going well for me.

I completed the swim in 14:45.  Unfortunately, my Garmin did not track the swim course nor distance despite the GPS being active so I have no way of telling what my actual pace was or if the course was long or short.  I do know I took 515 strokes, which works out to 34.9 strokes/minute, which is a bit leisurely—at my best I’m usually around 37 spm.  If the swim course was 750 meters, my average stroke distance would have been 1.59 yards.  This is a number that is way below my norm—I’m consistently in the 1.9-2.0 range.  To give you a sense of these numbers at 37spm and 2 yards/stroke, I’d be averaging about 1:21/hundred.  If I take a conservative estimate of what I did today: 34.9 spm and 1.9 yps, this would translate into an average pace of 1:30/100 yards (which based on my training seems right) and a total swim distance of 983 yards, which is about 20% longer than 750 meters (820 yards).

In any event, from a competitive perspective I was able to substantially outswim my competition in my AG.  Further, I was 49th OA or 82.2 %-tile.  In 2009 I was at the 71.4 %-tile and 84.9 %-tile in 2012, so all things considered, I’d judge this as a very good swim for me.  Here is were I stood AG wise after the swim:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Ching + 2:14
3. Foy + 2:32

Transition One

While, I had no way to be certain, as I ran into T1 I felt I was doing well and potentially leading my AG.  At the worst, I felt I was likely very close to the leader in my AG.  As I noted earlier, transition was a bit of a swamp and I sat down in a puddle of mud to better execute my transition into cyclist.  After getting changed, we had a lengthy (0.2-miles in total) run across the grass/mud and up a hill to the mount line.  I thought I did reasonably well all things considered and I completed my T1 in 3:18.

This turned out to be the 3rd best in my AG (75th %-tile) and 35th OA (87.5 %-tile).  Competitively, I increased my lead over the second place guy by a modest amount in T1:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Foy + 2:23
3. Wilkins + 3:16

The Bike

At the top of the hill I finally mount up and head out to what will by necessity need to be a relatively cautious ride.  It’s raining and there is a lot of casual water on the course.  The course itself is not overly technical but does feature several sharper turns and a number of ups and downs that demanded operator attention.

My bike set-up on my BMC TT-01 was not dialed in.  In California, I had raced on my old BMC—now my son’s bike—because it didn’t make sense to bring my TT bike for 1 or 2 races.  The last time I had really rode my TT was Kona 2014.  Upon returning from California in April 2016, I went out into the garage and dusted the bike off.  I changed out some of the rubber and took my bike to my LBS—which had since gone out of business—with the mechanic who had wrenched on the bike since I bought it.  The new guy at the new store (in the same location) did a pretty good job of swapping out the 3T Brezza 60mm risers but he did not change any of the modular adjustment pieces that make up the stem of the TT01.  Since I picked it up on Wednesday afternoon there was no time to make any modifications before my 4am departure on Thursday for Shenandoah.  I was left with a very aggressive sit-up with probably an extra 2 inches of drop more than I’ve raced in the past.

This set-up was not ideal, especially given my knee and back issues but I judged that with a 12-mile ride it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Not too long into the ride the left (big ring shifter) aero bar extension became loose and would rotate and move fore and aft in response to the various forces that came into play while I rode.  This was more of a minor nuisance that a control hazard but it was one that I kept my attention focused on throughout the ride—especially given the conditions.

I felt pretty good all things considered.  My knee seemed to loosen up pretty quickly and I think ultimately it was only a modest limiter on my power output.  However, my bike fitness and the tiredness of my legs (they felt a bit dead after the hikes) definitely were limiting.  In 2009 I averaged 241 watts and in 2012, 239 watts in this race—both of which were relatively low compared to other races in the springs of those two years.  I noted early on that anything over about 220 watts was giving me a bit of trouble.

None-the-less, I pushed on and feel pretty good about the ride.  I passed many people and nobody passed me during the 12-mile ride.  By mile 4, I had passed 4 guys in the 50-54 YO AG and then I didn’t see anyone else above 50 for the rest of the ride.  I became increasingly convinced (and correctly so) as the ride progressed that I must have had the best swim in my AG and I was in the lead.

I completed the bike in 34:10.  I clocked it at 12.01 miles, so this averages out to a pretty uninspiring 21.1 mph.  This is principally a function of my lower power output, which while relatively stable, ended up averaging 211 watts with a Normalized Power of 213 watts.  My HR came in at 159 watts and my cadence at 81rpm.  The later two numbers tell me I had pretty decent technique and was spinning well but my legs don’t have enough speed work in them to really stress my heart—when I’m sprint fit on the bike, I would expect to get my HR up to 165-168 bpm.  Obviously, some of this is due to my dead legs, but clearly I have a lot of upside bike fitness wise, if I can apply the necessary training stimulus in the weeks ahead.

Another thing that slowed things down were the conditions.  The slickness (and my carbon braking surfaces) meant one had to apply brakes earlier and with less force before turns.  The road surface is mediocre and there were potholes and puddles that had to be navigated.  Also, the rain, coldness and 100% humidity undoubtedly slowed things down.  In fact the top cyclist today did a 30:27 (23.6 mph) and the second fastest was just 31:13 (23.1 mph), so no one went fast today (historically, I’m disappointed when my own bike speed averages less than 24 mph).

In any event, I had the 16th fastest bike time, which translates into the 94.5 %-tile, which is not far off from 2009 (96.1 %-tile) and 2012 (95.9 %-tile).  Perhaps my experience and bike handling skills helped overcome some of my lower power output.
Age Group wise, I was 4+ minutes faster than everyone else and coming into T2 I had an insurmountable lead:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Foy + 6:13
3. Wilkins +11:03

Transition Two

I dismounted and gingerly ran down the hill on the slick asphalt back to transition.  I was very confident I was leading and probably by a healthy gap.  I took my bike shoes off and plunged my bare feet into three inch deep mud and then put the whole mess into my racing flats.  Soon I was headed out of transition on my way to a comparatively mediocre 2:42 T2.  I was just 105th fastest OA (61.6 %-tile) and once again I was 3rd fastest in my AG (however, I was able to increase my lead over 2nd place).  Here is where I stood after T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Foy + 6:57
3. Wilkins +10:39

The Run

I trudged on out of transition and out across the grass to the road and hill up towards the exit of the Marina.  As I reached the top of the hill, near the bike dismount, I saw a decidedly older looking gentlemen whom I thought might very well be in my AG (he was not, being 61 and the eventual winner of the 60-64 YO AG).  Based on my transition, I guessed I was anywhere from 2:30-3:30 ahead of him—hmmmmm.  Might be something to keep my eye on.

Shortly after moving past the metal gates we diverted off the road for about 0.4-0.5 miles of “cross-country” running.  Notably, we had a fairly long section on a dirt, I mean mud, path through the woods that then connected to a lengthy gravel road out to where the run course rejoined the asphalt.  This was quite challenging to run on as it was very uneven with lots of trip hazards, extremely slippery and filled with shoe sucking mud—at one point I looked down to see mud coming up over my shoes and reaching above my ankles—what a mess.

This obviously slowed things down and I was quite cautious to avoid going down or twisting an ankle.  I finally made it out to the road and the comparatively easy running it afforded.  After a minute or two on the road, I realized just how dead my legs were.  I was trying to work hard but frankly I wasn’t moving very fast this morning—even by my modest running standards.  I hit my first mile in 9:30 with an average HR of 160 bpm.  This is about a min/mile slower than I think I’m capable of, even with my lower training base.  The conditions slowed things down for sure but my legs really didn’t have it this morning.

I kept plugging around, feeling a bit faster in the second mile despite some noticeable hills.  I hit the turnaround and realized I was on a 29 min 5-k pace (yuck).  I looked carefully to see if there was any competitive threat and I saw the old guy (in bright yellow) I had seen dismounting his bike.  I calculated that he was about 2 minutes behind me, which given my pace was a bit unsettling, but given my estimate of our delta at the start of the run, I felt like I could probably hold him off.

My second mile passed in 9:12 and my HR was 161bpm.  I didn’t see anyone else who looked remotely dinosaur enough to be in my AG so I kept pushing steadily on.  Just before the turn back onto the gravel I looked back and could see that the man in yellow wasn’t going to catch me.  I consciously slowed down and carefully and gingerly picked my way across the path (when did a “Tough Mudder” break-out?).

My third mile was 9:50 and my HR was up to 163.  Once off the path I picked it up a bit (avg of 8:40 for the last tenth of a mile) and I hit the finish line with a run split of 29:03.  I turned to watch for the yellow man and he finished 25 seconds behind me.  I figured I had snagged my AG victory.  The run was pretty much spot on distance wise.  I averaged 9:30/mile with an average HR of 161bpm.  My run cadence was 176 spm and each step covered 0.96 meters.  The course featured 217 feet of climbing, which was quite noticeable—certainly not a flat course.

As it turns out no one had a fast run today—just 3 of the 271 competitors even broke 20, so undoubtedly, some of my slow time was due to the course and conditions.

I had the 4th best run in my AG and a pretty mediocre 139th OA (49.1 %-tile).  My final time was 1:23:59, which was good for 47th OA (83.0%-tile) and a comfortable victory in my AG—my 48th such victory in my 148 races:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Foy + 6:10
3. Dagostino + 9:00


How to interpret this race.  Well, I’m very happy with it.  Just doing triathlons, given the physical challenges of the past couple of years is a reward in and of itself.  Mastering tough climatic conditions is great.  I’ve never felt winning my AG is ever a bad thing so there is quite a bit of satisfaction from that as well.

Still, this begs the question of how fit am I—or how much faster would I have been if I were my typical early May self?

Normally I might expect to finish right around the 90th %-tile in a race like this (I was 91.0 in 2009 and 88.6 in 2012).  If I had been 90th %-tile today I would have been 3:17 faster or about 4% faster OA.  I think this understates things a bit….

As I noted before, I would expect to go about 10 seconds/100yards faster when my swim is dialed in—so this means about 80 seconds off my best in the swim.  On the bike, I was 30 watts slower, which translates into 2.4% faster speed—a savings of about 50 seconds.  I also believe that it’s entirely reasonable for me to expect to run 8:30 (or faster) miles so probably another 3 minutes on the run.  This adds up to 5 minutes or so or about 6% short of my potential.

Given, everything that went on before and during this race, this is a result I can certainly live with, and am fact pleasantly surprised by.  Further, I’ll probably get a fair bit faster as the season progresses—which is always welcome!