Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I learned this year in Triathlon

I have been MIA in the blog posting world for about 2 months now.  This was due to a few factors.  The primary one being that it was college soccer season up here in Minnesota and everywhere else in the country for that matter.

Days are long, not much opportunity for racing, and I finally decided to take a rest period for the first time since I have been doing triathlon, thanks to some advice and guidance from Coach Liz.

I will call this my first real season of Triathlon completed.  Last year, I really clueless of what it took to be competitive in this sport.  In this year, I have been able to train with and talk to a lot of the best athletes in the Chicagoland and Minnesota areas, and with the help of my coach and them, now have a much better concept of what it takes to become one.

I am already anxious for next season and am ready to get back into training.  Because I was able to learn a lot this past season about both myself and the triathlon world in general, I figured I would write it down to help me take these lessons into next season.

In no specific order:

1.   When you set your goals, make sure that they are SMART and hold yourself accountable to do the necessary work.    I agree that it is important to have others in your life to hold you accountable. Those people are definitely necessary to have with you, because when you want to go to bed at 9:30pm and not grab that last drink at the bar, you need support.  However, ultimately, you are the one that has to wake yourself up at the crack of dawn, push yourself through tough workouts, deal with the fatigue, and do it again the next day.  If YOU cannot see why your goal/goals are important to you and hold YOURself to the process, then no amount of outside help will get you past the tough times when they inevitably come.

2.   Always check your gear.  If you put a bottle on your bike, make sure you strap it in.  Before you leave for a race, make sure you brought your watch.  Do not put your bike computer in your tri-shorts because you think that is a good place for it and that you will totally remember that you put it there later(Thank you kind USAT worker who found my bike and put it on for me after they had closed transition).  I made many mistakes this season in regards to gear that lost me valuable seconds/minutes in each race.  This is something in my control and should be an easy fix.

3.   Recovery means resting on rest days, eating the right foods, and sleeping.  Recovery is all-encompassing.  And following the correct path is essential.  If a workout is supposed to be easy, make sure it is easy.  If you are supposed to take a day off, take it.  This was valuable to learn this year.  I don’t have a lot of rest days on schedule, but I have learned this year to actually use them.  After providing my own training plan for a while, discovering that you don’t get fat, lose fitness, etc. in one day was definitely something I took in this season.

4.  Find ways to make training fun and involve others if possible.  This season, I learned the value in training with others.  I had never biked with a group, swam much with a group, or ran with someone.  I still see the value in grinding out long hard workouts by yourself and still probably do 80% of my training this way.  But it was awesome this year to swim with Waves Masters, NN Masters, and many other Master’s groups around the country(UCSD, to University of Denver, and with many others that let me drop in on my recruiting travels).  

      It was also fun to ride with others this season as well.  From joining my buddy Greg and his IM Wisconsin training group on long rides in Barrington to cycling with tri-champ Amanda who once kindly asked me not to drop her on one of our training rides when I am pretty sure she could have put her head down and left me lose, scared, and alone in the cornfields of the SouthWest Suburbs.  I also had some great runs and rides with my friend Liz(not to be confused with coach) and Ryan throughout the season which made days when my legs felt like crap much more bearable.

5.  Do not believe everything you read.  I know that this is somewhat contradictory since I am writing something here, and I hope at least one or two people read it and believe what I say.  But there is soooo much information out there.  When I first began in this sport, I got lost in it.  Everyone has something to say about training, racing, nutrition, etc.  Everyone’s way is the right way and this way will get you to the top. 

      Many people will just write stuff to write stuff.  They have no formal education on the subject matter that they are writing about.  They will post things on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Slowtwitch forums, etc.   As far as I am concerned, Slowtwitch forums are like the YikYak of the triathlon word.  Anyone can write anything and for the most part cannot be held responsible or liable for what they say.  This is not to say that all of the information on these sites is bad information, and a lot of it is actually really entertaining, but it needs to be taken for what it is.  This should not discourage doing research, but you need to have a coach or other trusted sources who can help you with the reliability of the material.

6.     You can only do what you are capable of.  This stems a bit off of the previous lesson.  Another thing about the triathlon world is that a lot of people love to post their paces, watts, volume, etc.  I used to get too caught up in this.  You would see that Person A biked 400 miles in a week when you had only done 100 or Person B ran 15 miles at X:XX pace, and you start to doubt what you are doing or if you will ever be good enough.  

      For example, for those unfamiliar with Lionel Sanders, and those unfamiliar  would have to only include people who don’t follow the results of any races, he is an up and coming pro triathlete.  In a span of a few short years, he went from being a drug addict to multiple 70.3 and just last weekend Ironman champion.  He is, also, a training machine.  If you look at his training numbers from when he was down in Kona for a week, it is nuts.   He ran 2 full marathons in the span of 4 days.  ON A TREADMILL.  That is the ability to take yourself into a different place.  All this was done along with very large amounts of biking and swimming as well.  You can see it here.  

      But that type of training is what works for HIM.  If I were to try to do that, I would 1. Get badly injured, and 2. Probably die.  I just don’t have the time or the physical capacity to handle that type of training.  Nor would that training be beneficial for me.  I can only do my training and will not magically be able to do anything like that in the near future.   I can only stick to my workouts and my plan and follow the path.  

      There is a story that I once heard about a coach who spoke to a player about the process is to see success and reach your goals.  If I remembered where I heard it, I would definitely credit the person here, because it is a great way to look at things.
      The story goes like this: 

      A coach takes a player who has lofty/ambitious goals to a stadium. 
      He points to the top of the stadium from the bottom and says to the player, “There are two ways to get to the top, you can either run all the stairs to the top, or you can jump to the top from the side that has no step (which is about a 200 ft. vertical jump).  What are you going to do?

      The player turns to the coach and says “I will take the stairs, because it is impossible to jump that high.”  

      The coach replies, “That is exactly right.  There is no magical way to get to the top.  In order to reach the top, you need to take all the steps to get there.”

      This is what I have learned about training.  You cannot skip steps, and there is no magical way to get there.  You have to be willing to put in the work day in and out and take all the steps to reach what you want.

      7.  Listen to your Coach.  I know that this is probably just a way for me to vent out my frustration as a person who coaches for a living, but it is the truth.  It does not make any sense to have a coach and not listen to them.  If you only do 50% of what your coach tells you, you cannot possibly believe that you will get the intended results.  Your coach writes a plan or a strategy based off of their past research, studies, analysis, etc.   They are planning on you doing the work and remaining consistent.  They did not write the plan with the intention of you only doing some of it.  The success of their plan is based on you doing your part.

Therefore, you either believe in/trust what your coach says and follow what they have laid out or you don’t.  Only being “half in” will not work.  Their ideas for you are not random.  The good coaches out there just don’t go out there and say “Hey, let’s do this today.  I have no reason to believe it will work, but what the heck, it should be fun.”  Every decision is calculated and thought out to help you to get where you want.

This is very easy to say as a coach, but sometimes much more difficult to follow as an athlete.  I find that there are still times when I get caught up in the moment and “Easy” workouts are not necessarily easy.  Prime example.  Last week, I did a bike threshold test.  I was told to start at or slightly under where I averaged last time and build from there.  Me, not doing the smart thing, thought that I was more fit than my last test showed, and I started at about 15-20 watts higher than that.  Bad move.  After 5 minutes, I realized that holding this for another 20 minutes was not possible, and I was forced to back off and survive for the remaining time.   Would I have been better had I followed the plan, I can't possibly know, because I didn’t do what I was told to do. 

Your coach has a more objective view of you as an athlete that is not based off of feelings and emotions that being experienced at the time.  Listen to them.

8.  Learn from your successes/failures.  I was fortunate enough during my first coaching job to work with a former Marine who graduated top of his class in Officer training.  I was able to learn many great things from him.  And although I still am pretty messy with my stuff and only make my bed maybe one day per week, the best thing that I took away from working with him was that we need to take something away from every experience.

      We would come back from games and he would always ask, “What are your thoughts about that match?”  At first, in my immaturity, I would respond with things such as “Steve messed up that clearance which led to their goal” or “Matt missed that header that could have put us up 1-0.”  He would then ask “Why did that happen?”  I would always struggle to come up with an answer.  But eventually, after many of these talks, finding the why became less and less difficult.  The "Why" is crucial.  If you just make excuses or try to blame what happened on something that you couldn't control, then you won't take the necessary steps to try and prevent it from happening again.

      This is something that I have learned to do in triathlon as well.  Obviously, there are certain things that you cannot control(flat tire from a nail in the road, etc.), but you can control how you react to the things that happen.  And reflecting on the things that you can control/change for the future is crucial to success.

      Coach always has us answer a few questions after each race.  Reflecting on the race and putting these thoughts in writing is important.  If something went well, why did it go well?  If something did not, how can it go better next time?  What can you do to improve the result next time and what led you to where you are today.

      There are always things that can go better as you will probably never have a perfect race.  I learned the importance of looking at races in the same way I look at games and practices, and how important and necessary it is in growth.

So, there it is.  Things I learned in the past few months about triathlon.  Nothing that most people who have been doing this haven’t already learned, but it is one more step for me in the process.

Friday, September 5, 2014

USAT NATIONALS- Going Back to School

This post has taken forever to write based on the fact that immediately after the race, preseason soccer started here in Winona.  This means 15-17 hour days for like 1.5 weeks and training, eating, and sleep mixed in between.

I have decided based on the season and schools starting to get back into session that I would approach this race report based on school, grades, subjects, etc.

Well, there are A races, B races, C races, and other races that you do for random reasons.
And then there are races that you sign up for hours after your ‘A’ race on an impulse because you were earned at best a C+ on that last race.

This was the case with USAT Age Group Nationals for me.  Racine 70.3 was a big disappointment for me.  So within hours of crossing the finish line, I scrolled through like 50+ emails from USAT to find the one that gave me the link to sign up for this race. 

Little did I know that I was about to be taken to school by plenty of top level AGers who were primed and ready to go.  Time to learn.

Gym Class

Remember when you were younger in gym class or recess when you felt like you could run for hours on end, not get tired, and then do it again the next day with no fatigue, soreness, etc.

Well, it seems that I have finally outgrown that ability.

My body is getting tired.  I think part of it stems from the fact that I have only been doing this for two seasons, and my body is still adapting to the different level of fitness, nutrition, recovery, etc. that is required to maintain this for a long period of time.  I know now more than ever that I will have to actually take an off-period this year, that I have not really done since I began.

The issue that I have run into with this build up has nothing to do with my current training or fitness.  I haven’t raced a ton this year, but I had been training hard to peak at my first race of the season at Ironman 70.3 San Juan and continued to train through that to Racine 70.3.  

The entire week leading into this race, my body felt like crap.  Here are some exact quotes that I sent with my workouts in TrainingPeaks to my coach.

“Honestly, my legs kinda felt like crap today.”  

“Felt okay today.  I don't know why my legs haven't felt great yet.  I am still hitting the paces kinda, but just haven't felt good.”

“I am going to take today off.”(When given the choice of an optional workout.  First time ever choosing rest)

Thus, going into this race, I had absolutely no idea how it would go.  I met up with my friend Jon to Check In.   We met up with my other buddy, Donny, who was nice enough to save me hundreds of bucks on hotels to stay at his place in Milwaukee for the night.

Poor College Soccer Coach + High Race Fees + Bike Expenses + Other Expenses from this Sport = Needing awesome friends’ couches to crash on before races.

Race Day

Woke up race day at about 6:00 to get over to transition.  Checked all my stuff in without any issues.  The only problem I had was when I realized that after transition closed I still had my bike computer tucked into my tri-suit(so I wouldn’t forget to bring it....because that is a smart place to put it?).  I had to beg a volunteer to go and stick it in my helmet near my bike so that I could have it for the race.  She was kind enough to do so.

This is for me the equivalent of showing up to the ACT and forgetting those dang #2 pencils.

Has anyone ever seen a different number?  Because I have not.

My wave didn’t go off until almost 2 hours after the initial start, so I sat around, talked with Jon, ate food, went to the bathroom a bunch, put my wetsuit on, and then finally started walking over to the start.  We were able to get in a few warm up lengths, and hang in the water until the gun.

I lined up near the front, knowing that I would not stay there for long.  Waited some more, and finally the race began.

Swim- Math Class

Oh the swim, how we do hate each other.  And the worst part about this swim is that I could have had a great swim.  Well, not a great swim.  But, a great “Nick” Swim.  The main issue that I ran into is that I forgot to use my degree from college in this swim, Mathematics.

In college math, you study many topics: Probability and Stats, the Real Number System, Functions, Logic, etc.  

However, I needed to revert to the skills learned High School Geometry: tangents and angles.

For example.

This is what happened:

The swim started fast, as I knew it would.  I just put my head down and tried to follow bubbles as best I could.  This worked for about 50 meters....I think.....and then I looked down in the water and saw no more bubbles.  I sighted for the first time and realized that I was about 20 meters to the right of everyone and about 20 meters back now.

My mother who was actually able to watch from behind the start said that at that point I was in third to last place.  She apparently turned to my father who was watching and said, “He might be out of the water in last place…”

After I looked up, I started making my way back on course and started to catch a few people.  Just under the bridge, I had worked my way back up to some people.  I found the feet of someone who was swimming about my pace and when I looked around and saw that there were a few people around us, I decided to stay in that spot.  I had no idea how fast we were going, but I figured if I had this many people around me in a race that you had to qualify for, that I was doing alright.

The rest of the swim was uneventful.  I knew that my poor mathematical skills had left me in a not so great place overall, but I also had a feeling that I was in a much better position relative to where I have been in the past.  As we approached the bridge, it got a bit clustered again, which made me happy to see that I was not alone.

Ran up and started to get through to the transition as fast as possible.

Bike- Physics

I love cycling for many reasons.  I think that one of these reasons is that cycling is very mathematical and physics based.  There are so many factors that affect a cyclist’s ability to move the bike.  These include, but are far from limited to:

- Mechanical drag, in the form of friction from the bearings and the chain
- Tire drag, or rolling resistance, caused by the constant squashing of the tire against the road
- Aerodynamic drag, or wind resistance
- The rider’s weight
- Ability to put out power

Check out this Slowtwitch article if you are a math nerd like me.  


I like this, because I can break it down into one simple formula:
Speed= My Power + How Much I am suffering + How much more I think I can suffer + My ability to find the proper difference between(How Much I am suffering + How much more I think I can suffer)

I had a pretty slow transition, because I had to get my bike computer on my bike from when I forgot it earlier.  I figured the few seconds that I lost by doing that would save me a bit in wasted energy as I am not confident enough to race an OLY by feel yet.  I also could not get my helmet to hook for what felt like an hour.  After that small debacle, I ran to the mount line and got on.

The Milwaukee course, for the most part, is very fast and flat.  You ride parallel to the Lake for most of the ride so wind was not much of an issue either.  As soon as you make the right turn to get on the course, you get to just put your head down and grind for about 4 miles straight.

I was a bit anxious to get on the bike.  As mentioned earlier, my legs had not felt great all week and the 3’ reps at race watts felt tough all week, so I could not picture what trying to hold those watts for around an hour would feel like. 

Despite what I read in a lot of race reports, I never seem to have trouble getting to my goal speed or watts right away.  After about a mile, I had settled in and was right around where I wanted to be.  I looked down at my speed and started to realize that today was going to be a fast day for a lot of people,  because if I was going that fast with the power I was putting out, that meant that the stronger bikers in the field who were probably 50+ watts higher than that were going to be cruising.

Within the first 4 miles, I was able to pass about 15 people that were in my AG, but being so far back out of the water, I had no idea what place that put me in.  I figured the top guys were still going to put some time into me on the bike.  I had been able to raise my FTP by almost 50 watss this past year, but still have a long way to go until I am riding at the pace of the top players here.

After another few miles, I found myself in a group of 4 guys.  All three of them were riding very legally which was justified by the fact we had a marshal on us for a solid amount of time with no penalties.

I was glad to be riding around a few guys that seemed to be competitive on the bike.  The issue that I have had since I started this sport is that I come out of the water so far behind in the swim that I never get to see how some of the better bikers ride, take in nutrition, corner, etc.  It was interesting to finally see how they perform.

The rest of the ride consisted of mostly flat roads with some false flats thrown in there.  However, for a good majority of the ride, my legs just were not there.  No matter how hard I wanted to push, they just couldn’t get to where I wanted. 

I used to read on a lot of race reports how this would happen to people, and it didn’t make sense to me.  You trained, you tapered, you should know what you can do, you should have race day adrenaline, how can you not find that gear?

Well…..today, I couldn’t.  I was still able to PR my 40K bike by about 5 minutes, but my average power was about 10 below what it had been in a previous race.  I rolled into transition feeling like my legs had nothing left, but then you start to run and see that it is just a different kind of hurt for the next 6.22 miles.


"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I think I maybe thought about this one a bit too much on this run.

After transition, I got out on the run course and was maybe a bit conservative for the first mile.  I had cramped up hard at Racine just 3 weekends earlier, after going out too hard and never recovered on that day.  I did not want that to be the case here, because that was miserable.  I think I was too worried about repeating that scenario to have a run that I was capable of.

I needed to be more like.... 


Need to get one of those short memories, like all the greats.

I got to the first mile marker and started to feel a bit of a side stitch, but I had plenty of salt tabs.  I went to go reach for one and got it…….along with all the other ones.  They went spilling everywhere.  But, by then, I wasn’t cramping anymore and decided to just continue on instead of grabbing them.

The second mile started to hook around this small peninsula out by the lake.  Again, I was still taking it conservative.  I passed about 4 more people in my age group at this point.  I got to see all of my scattered salt tabs at the first aid station as I ran past. 

Again, I really wanted to go faster.  I just couldn't.  There were no excuses.  I wasn’t cramping.  I just didn’t have it.  Or couldn’t find it.  I ended up having a run that was far from bad but far from good.

The next few miles were a bit of a blur.  I remember feeling like I was suffering.  But I always get to the point after races where I think, “Was I really suffering that bad?” 

The run ended soon after than without much happening.  I ran into the shoot which was really cool as there were plenty of people around to cheer you through.

Overall, this race was a great learning experience for me.  I learned how far I still need to go with everything.  However, I am more anxious than ever to start next season because of the progress that I have seen.

I have a few more fun races coming up, since I did not qualify for the races that I was hoping.

Time to use the fitness that I have for this month of September and take my first break in a very long time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ironman Racine 70.3- The Race That Almost Was.

This post was a bit harder to write.  It is sometimes hard to convey how you feel after a race like this.  I thought about how I wanted to write this a few different times and each seemed like it was a bit worse than the previous idea. 

As I am a little over halfway through my second season doing triathlons and first season with a coach, I had pretty high expectations going in to this race.

I had very specific times that I wanted to hit, and when I look back and see how I missed them, I just feel disappointed and confused.  No matter what anyone said to me the day after, I simply could not feel good about this race.  I wanted and expected more, and everything less than that was a failure. 

I realize that I may be over-thinking this race a bit and should be happy with what I was able to do.  I know that this is an immaturity thing that I have to get over.  It is odd that as a coach, I constantly am looking up and reading about ways to motivate people.  To help them to see the good in what they have done.  To realize that “Success is not Final, and Failure is not Fatal.”  To realize that you can learn from every experience(good or bad) and grow from it.  To look forward and not to live in the past.

I tell my players these things and I truly believe them.  But for some odd reason, until you take the emotion that occurs immediately after a race out of it, it is hard to see. 

I have heard from countless people to “celebrate every little success” and to be happy that I am still improving.

It was weird to be this upset when I PRed my half ironman time by over 3 minutes. 

However, when I set out for this season, I had some lofty goals.  I have achieved all but one of the goals that I set out for myself before this season started, but I still don’t feel good about it.  And to be honest, I don’t know why. 

Being an analytic is not necessarily a bad thing until you allow the over-thinking to affect what you are currently able to do and what you will do in the future.  I need to learn from my mistakes but not to live in them. 

One of the best things that a friend told me, after I was talking to him about the disappointment that I was feeling, was “Nick, you need to race the next race and not the last one.”  This is the perfect way to look at this and it will definitely be a mantra of mine in training, racing, and life in general going forward. 
It also made me think of a line from one of my favorite movies(I am not ashamed).  

“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it.” 

Time to learn from it and move forward.

Going into this race, I was incredibly confident in my training.  I had put in more miles at higher paces and intensities than I thought would be possible this year.  Everything was in place to make this race a breakthrough for me. 

Day Before

On Saturday, I was able to wake up early and get a run and ride in at Fermi-lab before heading up to Racine for check in.  Normally, I like to do this pre-race brick at the course site, but I had done this race before and knew what to expect from the bike and run parts of the course.  Also, the crazy, bumpy roads of the Racine bike course are nicely simulated on the back roads of Fermi where you hit a crack about every 25 yards.

I grabbed breakfast and ate on the way up.  When I got to check in a little before noon, the lines were still pretty short and I was able to get through quickly.  My buddy Ryan who arrived a few hours after was not so lucky as the lines were about an hour long at that point. 

After check-in, I rode my bike to the transition and brought my wetsuit along to check out the water which was supposed to be a bit chilly.  After the first 5 minutes in the water, I felt comfortable and was actually pretty excited for the swim.  The water was glass flat which was much different than last year.  I got in a few hundred yards and then went to meet up with Ryan who had arrived for check in.

After that, we went to the grocery store, picked up some lunch meat, bread, and a few other things(because we are poor and eating out is expensive).  We went back to my friend Paul’s house who lives in Racine and relaxed for the night.

Race Day

I woke up in the morning and ate my usual breakfast of 2 PowerBars.  We drove to transition to set up our gear.  Transition closed at 6:30 but my wave didn’t start until 8:20ish.  Paul stuck around and we actually went back to his house for a bit to relax for a bit.  We got to the water and were able to warm up for a bit until the horn went off for our wave.  I ate a half sleeve of Shot Blocks.  I felt good and anxious for the day to start.  The past weeks I had done multiple training sessions that had lasted over 4 hours.  I knew I was ready for this.


I really wish I had more to say about this swim.  The horn went off and immediately I was caught alone.  The fast swimmers went off and I found myself in a gap between them and everyone else.  Normally, every Half-Ironman swim, at some point I find myself thinking that I hate the water, swimming is dumb, and that I will never do this again.  This was not the case at all in this race.  I felt strong and thought I was sighting and moving well.  Just as in Lifetime Fitness Trinona, I was wrong.  I was never uncomfortable and maybe that was the problem.  Open water swimming and swimming in general is going to be my main area of focus going into next season.  Until I can change this, I will just have to do the best I can and minimize damage that is done. 

We made the final turn to go to shore after a mile of nothing but straight, and I ran into the sand.  I tried to get my heart-rate down as I got to the wetsuit strippers.  I made it through transition moderately fast and ran out to the Bike start ready to start my race.


The bike course at Racine starts off with an immediate incline out of transition.  Ironically, this is pretty much the most climbing that you will do on this course unless you add up all the bumps that occur as you get out of town.  The nice part about the race at this time of the day is despite the narrow bike lane that you have going in and out of town, no one is on the other side yet.  Thus, passing is not an issue. 

After taking like what felt like a minute to finally get my shoe locked in, I was off.  My legs immediately felt good and I got on the left side of the lane where I would stay for a majority of the race. 

*This is the only complaint that I have about this set-up.  I understand the logic behind starting some of the older age groups start before the 18-29 year old males, as you have a greater majority of people finishing the race at an earlier time if you start them in earlier waves.   I also know that there are still many people in the older age groups that can still hand me my lunch in a race.  But, when the bike course has a good number of sections that are very narrow(i.e. no passing), it makes it very difficult to ride a good race.  It also make it more difficult to ride the course completely abiding the draft rules, because when you need to pass a person who is already passing someone else who may also be trying to pass someone else, it is just difficult.*

Rant done.  I was able to get to my goal watts right away and they felt like they were coming pretty easy today.  That is when I started to get the feeling that this bike could be a new best for me. 

The bike ride honestly felt like it was Nick v. the University of Illinois triathlon team.  I felt no matter where I went on the course I quickly found another U of I tri-team member and played see-saw with them for a bit before finding another one. 

Right out of transition, I found U of I team member #1.  I actually remember all of the names of the ones that I was with on the course, but I don’t know any of them well enough to list them on here.  However, I have a few things that I will say about all of the members that I encountered on the course.  One, they were all incredibly nice.  I spoke with a few of them briefly during the race and a few after the race, and they were all good guys.  Two, I wish I could swim like them.  Catching up them on the bike means that they at least swam 4 minutes faster than me if not more.  Jealous.  Three, they all had good bike-handling skills and rode very LEGALLY.  On a course like this where drafting could easily be done due to the lack of officials that I saw, they followed the USAT drafting rules perfectly.  If I passed, they would immediately drop back.  If they had to pass someone, after passing, they immediately passed and got back to the ride part of the bike lane.  I have a strong respect for how they acted and handled themselves on the course.

The rest of the bike was pretty bland.  We had a bit of a headwind as we were heading out of town.  We weaved and got on to some highway, and then back on to country roads.  For the first 30 miles or so, I remember thinking about my watts, getting in my nutrition, seeing U of I members #2, #3, #4, and #5, and thinking that the roads were not as bad as I remembered them from last year.

Then, I hit about mile 32 and realized that the roads were just as bad as I remembered them last year.  For the first time in the entire ride, I actually had to get out of me aero-bars and hold on for fear of falling over. 

The second half of the ride was even less eventful than the first.  I backed off on the watts a bit because we had a nice tailwind and my legs actually were feeling good and I felt ready to go tear up the half marathon course.  I met up with U of I team member #6 and rode into transition with him about 4 minutes faster than I have ever done a 70.3 bike before.

I got into transition.  Got my shoes, race belt, and heading out with one of the faster T2’s that I have ever had.


This is where the race became a big disappointment.  I had been training at some great paces in the weeks leading up and my legs felt ready to attack this course.  I got right out of transition and wanted to make sure I held back a bit.  I felt like I was taking it easy and looked down at my watch and saw 6:03.  I slowed down to take it easier, relaxed my shoulders, and ran another half mile before looking down again.  When I looked down at my Garmin, it still said 6:10.  So, I slowed down more.  I finally got through the first mile at 6:17.  I saw my parents, then my friends, then one of my current soccer player and his family, then my coach right at the beginning of the 2nd mile. 

I remember feeling almost giddy.  I was smiling and felt like I was about to kill this race.  I felt great.  My legs were there, I was running at an “easy” RPE, and everything was going exactly as I had hoped it would on this run.

Until it wasn’t.

I don’t know how the timing could have been any better(worse), but I finished mile 2 at 6:17 again, and as soon as my watch beeped, I felt like my right rib was just stabbed. The pain from the side cramp almost knocked me over.  I felt like I wanted to throw up on the spot.  The worst pain I had felt in a long time.

However, things like this happen.  I went through what I should do in this situation.  I remember reading something that my coach had sent along to deal when cramps happen. 

I slowed down a bit, popped 2 salt tabs, and kept moving forward. 

I kept hoping that this pain would go away.  I was still clicking off decent miles, but I was nowhere near my goal pace.  I kept popping salt at aid stations and prayed that it would subside.

It didn’t.

The rest of the run I was just suffering.  It was hard to bear because my legs felt fine.  My body was ready to go.  But I just could not breathe and move forward.  I passed my family, friends, and coach again at mile 7.  

I could not have looked good.

There isn’t a lot to say about this run.  I didn’t have any significant moments.  There weren’t any big passes or moments where I did anything special or worthy of note.  I just survived.

I ran into the shoot and finished with a time that was about 3 minutes quicker than my previous best.  At the time, I was just relieved.  That cramp did not go away until about 2 hours after the race. 

Post Race

After the race, it was nice to see my friends and family waiting for me.  I knew I was not happy, but it is hard to not smile when everyone around you is so upbeat.  I had hoped to be in a situation where I would have a chance for a possible roll down spot for 70.3 Worlds, but with that race, even before seeing the results, I knew there was no shot today.

The good thing that came from all of this is that I am now just as motivated, if not more motivated to push forward even harder than before.  Originally, I thought after this race that I would want to take a really light week and take some time off.  However, that is not the case.  Thank God I have someone writing my workouts for me, otherwise I would probably already be out killing myself again in preparation for the next race, USAT Age Group Nationals.

Time to take what I learned, enjoy a few easier days, and get back to the grind.

Thanks again to all my wonderful family and friends, both the one’s that made it up and the one’s that have supported me through this season so far!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

On naivety

This has been something that I have been thinking a lot about recently when trying to put together a race plan for Ironman 70.3 Racine.  I have been trying to workout how I want to approach the race in terms of pacing, power, nutrition, etc.

I have learned a lot in my second season of racing. Between my coach, reading, and talking to many others, I am significantly more prepared to go into this year’s race than last year.  However, this has also helped me to realize how naïve that I still am with all of this. 

I finished my final big block of training this week and was trying to pick a race plan based off of those numbers.  After the workouts, I emailed my coach and said, “I think with taper that (XXX)ish is doable.”

Her response, “Do you think you can run a great half marathon off of that?”

And I thought.  And thought.  And thought some more.   I couldn’t come up with a good answer. 

To me, It seems reasonable, but to be honest, how could I know? I haven’t tried.

We discussed a bit more and worked together through some best and worst case scenario pacing due to weather conditions, etc.

This is where my naivety comes into play.  And to be honest, I don’t mind being naïve with some parts of this sport still.  When I did my first half Ironman, I did it with trainer wheels, some Gatorade, two sleeves of Shot Blocks, and no real plan.  I was just hoping not to drown.

I ran my first marathon with a long run of 15 miles, a nutrition plan of taking water and Gatorade when I was thirsty and hot, and a race pace plan based off of “I think that this seems like a reasonable pace.”

I would go to these races and see things that were just confusing and weird.  I kept looking at all the people around me with Alien helmets, disk wheels, power meters, shaved legs, speed suits, etc. and just thought that the gains received from these they were negligible at best.   When I looked at their times and compared them to my own, I assumed that they were just that much fitter(still was the case for a majority). 

Seeing this gap in time especially on the bike and swim, helped me to make many decisions that at the time ultimately helped me.  I just thought I wasn’t working hard enough or working hard enough in the right way.  Instead of looking for ways to find “free speed” in the forms of bike and swim gear, I just tried to work harder(again, because I was too naïve to believe in the results that could be produced by all of these equipment adjustments). 

This led me to join a master’s swim group, hire a great coach and push each day.

I made more fitness gains in this time that I could not have imagined because I didn't believe there was any other way. 

In some ways, I miss that naivety.  Although the knowledge of all the marginal gains that can be made with equipment, nutrition, etc., has led to time gains in my races that I would have never achieved through simply working harder, I believe that so much can be accomplished by simply being naïve and innocent.

I remembered times when I was younger playing in a weekend soccer tournament.  We played 7 games in 3 days.  Granted they were only 35 minute halves, but that equals over 8 hours of working out in 3 days.  We weren’t concerned about proper nutrition.  We didn’t think about getting enough salt.  We didn’t even think about how tired your legs were from the previous games.  You would eat at Jimmy John’s, because that is what our parents believed to be a good meal between games.  You just went out and played.

It is in these moments of purity that you truly learn to love the sport.  You do it because you just do.  You don’t overthink.  You just get out there and run until you are tired and then you run some more.  You don’t think about bonking and blowing up because it just isn’t an option.

Sometimes, I(and I am sure many other people) get way too caught up in numbers.  I need to hit XXX watts and X:XX pace or this race/training session is a failure.  I miss the moment when those numbers were foreign to me and I just ran without consequence.

Those moments when it was just you and your friends sprinting around the block, biking to the park, or swimming to the other side of the pool.  You just went.  You didn’t think.  You just knew that there was someone next to you that you wanted to beat. 

One goal that I have in relation to this is when I become a parent one day to put a Garmin on my kid when he goes to play a pickup game of any sport or a game of “Ghost in the Graveyard.”  I would love to know the amount of miles and time that were covered simply fueled by Lemonade, S’mores, and Chicken Nuggets. 

I really started to think about all of this this past week on my final build week leading to Racine and I looked at my workout for Thursday.  It was a brick that I had done plenty of times before.  And I normally like this workout a lot.  However, when I saw it, I thought about how my body was feeling and immediately emailed my coach to ask her if I could change it.  My wording was something along the lines of “I won’t be able to hit that pace.”  It really bugged me. 

She talked through it with me and told me to either take a rest day or to do an easier bike.   I chose the latter.  When I got to my bike, I was riding around and actually felt pretty good.  And as one tends to do on bike rides in the middle of nowhere, I began to think.

What would have happened if I missed the pace for the brick?  Would the world have ended?  Would my coach yell at me?  Would I have to quit doing this sport forever?  Would people dislike me?  Would anyone really know?

When I realized the answer to all of these was a resounding NO, I began to reflect on how I miss the moment of pure naivety and bliss in exercise.  Sometimes it just takes getting out of your own way and relaxing your mind to all the excess information to truly remember that this is something that you like to do and choose to do.

I was able to remember why I love to do this and get to do this.

Exactly 2 weeks to Racine where I get to remember why I love racing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Expectations and Training/Racing Update

Haven't written about a random topic in a while.  Maybe was just looking for some inspiration.  Well, that still hasn't really come, so I will talk about these past weeks of training and a race I did.

Training these past few weeks has been some of the best that I have done maybe since I started doing this a little over a year ago.  Immediately after Trinona, I took a light recovery on Monday, and started up on a strong two week build in preparation for Ironman 70.3 Racine.

These weeks have actually been pretty fun.  Well, as fun as making yourself suffer can be.  Some of the workout days that I really enjoyed were the Double Bike Days with runs off of both bikes.  The first of these came only 4 days after Trinona.  I recovered really well from Trinona and was ready to go.  The first Bike/Run of the day was some interval Zone 3/4 work, with a very easy run off the bike.

The second Bike was put in with the Description: 30 minute TT, as you wish, but you must get stronger every 10 minutes.

I emailed the Boss and asked, "Is this a test?"

Her reply, "You tell (or show) me.  You're off the leash.  Have fun!"

And I did.

I hadn't done a Bike Test since Mid-March, but I also hadn't biked/run earlier on that day, and it was a 20 minute Test, not the 30 minute TT I was about to do.  But I wanted to see where I was at, and figured if I could get a new FTP today, I would learn a lot about where I was at mentally and physically.

I remember watching one of the Ironman World Championship videos and Chris McCormack, said something along the lines of, "At some point in every race, the person who ends up winning needs to take a risk."

I think that too many people are too afraid of failure, afraid of blowing up, afraid of many things.  But if you don't risk failure, you can never know how far you can truly push yourself to go.

That may seem a bit dramatic for a simple bike test, but you get my point.  I wanted to see if I could go faster despite the lack of rest/differing conditions to the previous one.

Long story short.  After the usual warm-up of Easy, Short Bursts, Clear out effort, Easy.  I started the 30 Minute TT.  The first 10 minutes actually felt good, all things considered.  But always at these parts of the workouts, when you know a new surge is coming, you start to over-think.

"Do my legs have another gear?"   "Do they have another gear for the next 20 minutes?"

At this part, the real test started for me.  All of my previous tests had been 20 minute tests.  I knew what number I had to hit.  So I began about 10 watts below that number.  I figured after 5 minutes, I could reassess.  Again, this didn't have to be a test today.  There were no expectations from Coach Liz to make it one, but I had to know.

After that 5 minutes, I still felt good.  I thought Let's see if we can make that number raise 5 more.  Now, I was starting to hurt.  But, it was time to increase again.  That was the expectation.  I needed to keep getting faster.  The next 5 minutes were a blur.  I honestly must have cocooned into my own "pain cave" and just blacked out.

I saw that there were 5 minutes left.  It is always at this point in the test when you start to feel that there is no way you will finish.  Let alone grab any more watts.  You legs and heart start to yell cruel, harsh profanities at you.  You have one part of your brain that wants you to ease up and feel better, but you have the other part of your brain, the competitor in everyone, that is telling you to suffer more.

Choose the latter.

So my legs screamed, by body rebelled, but 5 long minutes later, I was done.  And had improved my FTP by 5!  This seems minuscule, but with the conditions, and the fact that since October, it was now up more than 30, I was extremely happy.

Sycamore 15K Race

Expectations also need to be adaptable.  This I am not good at.  This past weekend, I went and raced a 15K on Saturday with a friend, Liz(different Liz).  I went into the race wanting to win, but also knowing that I didn't want to blow up and have to suffer through 4 hours of biking/running the next day.

To be honest, if I were doing this just to race it, I would have changed quite a few things about the race and the days leading up to it.  I would have eased into the race and tapered a bit more.  I also would have strategized a bit differently in the actual running of the race.

I have always done a decent job of pacing, but today I kinda threw that pacing out the window, or maybe I just didn't realize how tired my legs were going into the race.

Lining up, I saw that there were a few fit looking guys and girls.  One guy who was a bit older was wearing North Central College Cross Country shorts.  We talked a bit and he was very friendly.  I figured he would be the major deterrent for the First Place prize(I later looked up and saw that he was National DIII Runner up in the 10K twice!).

The horn sounded and we were off.  My plan(probably not a good one), was to test him and the rest of the field early.  Like I said earlier, I didn't want to kill myself for this race, but was willing to.  I ran the first few miles, seeing if I could drop him and the others.  I was hoping to make him and the others hopeless and settle in later.  But, he had alligator blood.

And he was just faster than me.  This is the main reason that I don't get nervous for running races.  I know, give or take a few seconds, what I am capable of running.  I know that if I am in the mix, I can push myself to a dark and painful place, if necessary.  But I also know that, if I go to a race, and a person I am competing against can run X:XX per mile, he will beat me.  This doesn't change my race and I won't suddenly be able to run my pace minus 15 seconds per mile.

So, he eventually passed me and was off.  I played my hand, he played his, and his was better.  Once he was gone, and I realized I couldn't stick with him, I settled into a good pace and cruised in the final few miles in.

I wasn't thrilled to lose, but I didn't have that extra gear today.  It happens.  PR's don't happen every race.  This is hard to swallow, and will give me some motivation in the future to get to X:XX pace.  But focusing on what I learned is more important on that day.

We are now less than a month from Racine, and I have some lofty goals for that race.  Post to follow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trinona Race Report- 2 out of 3 isn't too bad.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a few different blogs on training, racing ,etc.  I came across one that I really resonated with.  This female who has seen much success in the sports of running and triathlon was talking about how her father taught her to keep things in perspective.

He said that what was important to her could be broken down into 3 categories: Triathlon/Running, Work, and Family/Friends.  In essence, he told her that as long as 2 of the 3 things in her life were going well, that she was doing pretty darn great.

I loved this.  Thought it put things in perspective pretty well for me.

So, if 2 out 3 things in a triathlon go well, you should be able to say that you had a good race.  However, I also believe the the moment that you are satisfied with something is the moment when you stop working and improving.  I can say that the race went well and I am happy with the result.  I learned a lot and really will look to rectify some of the things that I didn't do well with.


On Saturday, my father and I headed up to Winona, MN to my house before the race.  As soon as we got there, we went on a quick 8 mile bike of the course, and swam for a bit at Lake Winona where the race would take place.  Both of the warm up exercises felt good and my legs felt better than they had all week.

We went to the expo, and then went and saw a movie at the Winona 7 Theatre, which was actually pretty nice considering it was incredibly small and seemingly in the middle of no where.  We went and got a solid meal at Ground Round, and then went a watched another movie at home before getting a good nights rest.

I slept pretty well and thought about how I wanted to attack the course.

I knew going into the race that this would be a bit of a challenge.  As a struggling swimmer, any race where the swim is a larger portion of the total time will be tougher for me.  I had never done an Olympic before, and was a bit unsure about how to pace each discipline.  I talked with Liz before about how to pace the bike, but the other two were a bit of a wildcard for me.

Race Morning

Woke up pretty early and heard my dad who is never quiet in the mornings moving around.  I think we both were pretty anxious for this, being his first triathlon and my first Olympic.

We both grabbed breakfast.  I actually wasn't hungry but shoved down 2 PowerBars.  We packed our stuff and got to the race site.  As soon as we got there, I went to the bathroom, set up transition, went to the bathroom, found dad, went to the bathroom again(this is a lot even for me), and then walked to the swim start.

I got in a quick warm up and set myself up for the time trial start.


I was actually pretty confident going into this swim.  I had had a good couple of days in the pool leading up to this, and was happy with how I felt the day before with the practice swim.  As soon as the horn went off for my group, I ran into the water and tried get in the mix right away.  For the most part, I felt that I was sighting well.  I was not getting passed and felt like I was moving at a decent pace.

Clearly these perceptions were all wrong.  Unfortunately, because they didn't have the buoys set up until Race Morning, I had no idea how far I was at any part of the race.  Either I was just moving slow(even for me) or something else must have been off.  When I figure it out, I will let you know.

Either way, I was slow and the swim was no where near where I wanted to be.  I had to forget about it fast, and get to my bike.

0 for 1.


After that debacle of a swim, I was ready to race.  I wasn't very fast through T1, but I got my wet-suit off decently quick considering I hadn't done it in a while.  I hopped on and immediately got to my goal watts(actually a bit above).

The first part of the course was rolling, which made it pretty easy to stay within range of my goal.  The only difficult part of the first 10 miles was the fact that the road was not closed.  This meant that cars would have to try to pass riders on both sides of the road.  This led to the cars getting stuck and moving very slow right in the middle of the road.  This made passing impossible.  There was no room.  There were two times where I had to slam on my breaks as a car tried to pull around a rider as I was trying to go through.

At the end of the day, this probably only lost me a 30 seconds to a minute, but in a race that is normally only decided by that amount of time, it can hurt.  However, the other racers could have experienced this as well, so it may not have done any damage at all.

The next part of the race, I was actually looking forward to.  It is the Garvin Heights Climb.  Garvin Heights was featured as one of Bicycling magazine’s “Top 100 Climbs” in the U.S.  It was apparently also used by three-time Tour De France Champion Greg Lemond in his training rides.  It is a 1 mile climb at about a 10% average grade.

My goal going into this climb was to stay reasonably within my watt goal and keep as high a cadence as possible(actually averaged 72 for the climb).  Not quite Nairo Quintana, but I was happy.  I felt pretty good going up for the most part and everyone along the way was really encouraging.  The last person that I passed going up the hill even yelled at me as I clicked to my lowest gear right next to him, "You still have another gear!?!?"

I thought silently, Not anymore.

Thank God the hill ended shortly after because cadence and energy were draining.  I grabbed a quick drink, thanked the volunteers who were probably just there to make sure people didn't collapse at the top(John Henry style, although I guess the hill isn't quite like beating a machine).

After that, there was a bit of flat that you could get into a nice rhythm again, before flying down a winding descent at 35-40 mph for the next 2 miles.

After that part, nothing too interesting happened.  Had a cramp, took a salt tab, kept pedaling, and made my way back to T2.

Once, I got back to T2, I dismounted as best I could, right behind a person from my age group who did it better.  Ran to get my shoes on and exited.

Overall, the bike went pretty well.

1 out of 2.

Bike File:     http://www.trainingpeaks.com/av/S7E547GYTZDBVEEYN74EDQAIBE


The plan for the run was to start out at 6:15's and go down from there.  Or so I had originally planned.  I had no idea how I would feel off the bike with this new distance.  I immediately got into a rhythm and threw that plan out the window.  I held back a bit the first mile because you always feel slow coming off the bike no matter how fast you are moving.

After the first mile, I had passed a few people, but only one from my Age Group.  I was dropping about 3-4 seconds each mile and kept moving up the field.  I haven't felt this good running in a while.  San Juan was hilly and hot, Galena was hilly, and all other runs have been in training.

I just kept looking at calves to see if I could find any more in my AG.  I finally was able to find one more in the last mile, but had no idea where that left me in the race.  Running through the final shoot,    I looked down at my watch and saw that I had just beat my stand-alone 10K by almost a minute.  Not bad considering I haven't run a full mile in under 6 minutes in the last few months training for Half Ironman.  I quickly started looking around for people from my age.

Very happy with the run.

2 out of 3.


Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you can get 2 of three things, the race went pretty well.  In the end, I ended up finishing 2nd in my AG and 20th overall.  I know where I need to improve and I learned a lot.  I am excited to get back in the grind of training and get to Ironman Racine 70.3 in a month!

And here is my awesome dad!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Galena Race Report- Next Time Remember to Bring Your Big Boy Pants

This past weekend, I was able to participate in the Galena Triathlon/Duathon.  This is a very nice event early in the season, and it brings some of the better talent from around the Chicagoland area and the rest of the Midwest.  There are some very fast elite AGer's that have done this race in the past few years and even a few former professionals.  This is also a great early season test for individuals who did not train/travel for an early season triathlon.

However, for those of us Midwesterner's, this has been quite a winter.  We actually had snow the Friday before the race.  Water Temperature was projected to be about 58 degrees and the air temperature was supposed to be around 40-45 at race start.  Needless to say, most were expecting a swim cancellation going into the race on Saturday.

When I arrived in Dubuque to stay with my sister on Friday, it was still chilly.  I was able to get a little bit of each sport in and get a good dinner with my mom, dad, sister, friend Ryan, and her husband Chris.   We were able to get back to bed early, so we could wake up and get to registration by 6:15am.

Race Morning:

Woke up actually pretty easily to my alarm at 4:45 and ate a PowerBar that was next to my bed.  I laid there for another 5 minutes eating and finally got up.  I had packed all my stuff the night before, so I was able to relax while my sister, mom and dad gathered their stuff.  As a family, we are never on time for these events.  Whether it is Allie oversleeping, Chris tying his shoes, or some other common occurrence we never leave on time.

We got on the road a bit later than expected, but weaved our way down Route 20 to the start.  When we finally saw the swim area, it was 38 degrees outside and steam was rising from the water.  Having already mentally prepared myself for the change to a duathlon, I walked up to the registration and asked if the swim was cancelled.  She told me that it wasn't.  I told her to look at the water and laughed.  She said that people swam yesterday and seemed fine, but that I could switch to the Duathlon with no issues.

I looked at my dad who was also doing the Triathlon and he said to me, "No fricken way I'm getting in that water."  I assumed that a majority of people would be in the same boat as him and decided to switch so I wasn't the only weird one jumping into water when it was less that 40 degrees out.  Also, I had gotten hypothermia from a similar swim in Knoxville for a Rev3 race, so this was a no brainer for me.  My buddy, Ryan, said he was going to still swim.  I told him he was nuts.


We dropped of our stuff at the other transition which also gave us a chance to see the bike course.  Holy Hills!  We made our way back to the start, and I was expecting to see a majority of people in tennis shoes getting ready for the first 2 mile run of the Duathlon.

I was so wrong.

When we arrived back, there were hundreds of people in the start area fully wet-suited up.  I saw people from the age of 19-65 getting ready to jump into the water that I had judged was too cold for me.  I immediately regretted the decision, but it was too late.  My wetsuit was in my car about 18 miles away and there was no time to go get it.  I was stuck.


Now, I had to sit around and watch all the people who were less wussy than me get to start, while I waited around for the Duathlon to start 40 minutes later

*Disclaimer*  This is not a knock on anyone who chose to do the Duathlon.  It was cold and this is a brutal course.  There were still some very fast people who did the Duathlon and many had awesome races.

Race Recap:

Now, onto the race.

After a 15 minute warm-up with some pickup's.  I was ready to go.  I had spoken with my coach before the race on how to pace in case it was altered to a Duathlon.  I knew how I was going to take the first 2 miles, but never having done this before, I wasn't sure how my legs would respond the rest of the race.  I saw that the first mile was incredibly downhill which meant that the 2nd mile was brutally up hill.  I tried to figure out in my head how to make this work pacing-wise and not burn any matches in this first run.

We toed the start-line as the race was about to begin.

Since this is a shorter race and I can remember each mile pretty distinctly, I walk you through what was going through my head mile by mile.  I thought this would be good for me to write out, so I can  learn if my thoughts are helping/hurting me in my racing.


1-  "There will be a countdown from 3 and the horn will sound.  In the name of the Father and the Son....Horn!"  Did that really just happen?  Our countdown was honestly the first two parts of the Trinity spoken by some guy a few rows back...  Wow, some of these guys are going really fast.  I hope they blow up soon.  Running a 4:30 mile is unreasonable for the first mile of a 23 mile race.  Okay, they are starting to slow down a bit.  Man, those two guys are still really far ahead.  I want to chase, but know I shouldn't.  Hopefully, they suck at biking.

2-  This is going to be brutal.  If that first mile went that fast, does that mean that this one will go that slow?  At least most of these guys aren't still holding 5:00 pace.  Thank God.  O crap, here comes the hill.  I wish I was swimming right now.  Will this kill my bike time?  I wonder how Ryan is doing.  The hill is almost done.  Thank you for being done hill.  Wow, this is a big downhill into T1.  Biking up this is going to be awful.  Did I leave my bike in the small ring?  I hope I did.


1-  OMG, this is a long hill.  Actually, my legs don't feel that bad spinning up this.  I need to learn how to transition faster.  Finally, that hill is done.  Time to get out of here.  Did I mash up that hill to hard?  It feels nice to be on flat road.

2-  Another hill already?  Okay, I am definitely in too low a gear.  Ah, this is what the small chain ring is.  I remember you, kinda.  I need to stop coasting down these hills.  Time to push.  Wow, that guy who just passed me is way, way, way better at descending.

3-  Shocking, another new mile and another new hill.  This is getting dull already.  At least that guy that is good at descending seems to not be as good at climbing.  Would I rather be a few pounds heavier so I can descend faster or a few pounds lighter so I can climb faster?  This is probably why I am a bad skiier/snowboarder.  I have to be pushing like 5 watts/kg right now.  This is not good.

4-  Was that really just the 3 mile sign?  Finally, a mile that starts downhill.  Did that guy just pass me again?  Either I need to PUT ON BIG BOY PANTS going downhill, or he needs to learn to climb better.  We should talk after.  I bet he knows a lot more about bikes than I do

5-  O crap, another hill.  I am jealous of those people walking their bike up this one.  That seems like more fun and they seem to be having a nice conversations.  At least, there is a descent coming soon.  Do I even like descending?  Everyone is better at it than me.  My legs hurt.

6-  Okay, this descent is a bit scary.  Was a disk wheel a good choice?  I am going to fall over!  Is that a headwind?  I really hope that isn't a headwind.  My quads are starting to hurt on these hills.  I wonder if my VI would be under 1.5 right now.  This is kinda scary.

7-  So, the climbing begins.  I think I remember the next 3 miles being all up hill.  That was definitely a headwind.  I think I am getting better at changing gears now.  That came about 6 miles late.  Who wrote this course map?  They are mean, oblivious to the difficulty of biking, or both.

8-  I am really still climbing.  Allie and mom are going to hate this part.  Is that really my average speed?  I need to learn to turn off all technology if I do this race again, because that is depressing.  Why do I do these races?  I want to quit.

9-  Just a bit further.  Yay, that big climb is done.  Is this flat?  Turning out of that headwind feels great.  I guess I didn't just lose all of my biking fitness in a month.  I really hope everyone else had as much trouble as I did those first 9 miles.

10-  Was that really just 9 miles?  This seems harder than a half Ironman.  This is still flat.  I wish all races were flat.  Who can I call to make this happen?  My legs actually feel pretty good.  Racing is fun again.

11-  Holy cow, that is a big downhill!!!  I am a bit scared.  Did I put my bike back together right?  I need to take a class on doing that.  Do they offer those classes?  Is it really smart hoping that some dude I never met, who put this 20 pound bike together, did a good enough job to make it stay together while I am flying down this hill at 40+ mph?  This is really, really fast!  Definitely scared now.  I am glad the roads are dry.

12-  At least, this is starting to level out.  I really hope there are no potholes anywhere.  I need to push harder.  Well that is the biggest gear I have.  Great, another hill coming up.  I am going to stay aero for this entire hill!

13-  I didn't stay aero for that hill.  If I email Chris Froome, can he tell me how to stay aero?  I need to watch the Tour of California when I get back to Dubuque to find their secrets.  Am I pushing hard enough?  I should race with power next time.

14-  This hill is even steeper than the last.  I need to stop being a wuss.  I wonder how fast I am going.  I am not going to look at my watch although I want to.  At least that guy didn't pass me again.  I wonder where he is at.

15-  What place am I even in?  They really need to write ages and the race we are doing on calves next year.  Less than two miles to go.  How fast can I run this 4 miles after these hills?  I wonder who won the triathlon.

16 to 16.8-  Thank God this bike is almost over.  I need to train more hills.  What would my bike time have been at San Juan 70.3 if it had this course profile.  Stop thinking about that.  My mom is probably regretting the decision to do this race more than me.  Ah, finally, the second transition area!

Run 2:

1-  That was a decent transition.  You are at least getting better at that.  Hey, I just heard Ryan's name crossing the line.  I wonder how his race went.  This is a big uphill.  I really wish I would have driven this part of the course.  If this is anything like the bike, I am screwed.  Ah, flat road.  Time to pick up the pace.  At least, I get to run down that hill later.

2-  Was that really my first mile split?  I am going to need to get some of that back.  Hopefully, the rest of the course is flat.  Nice, an aid station.  I know the guy giving out cups.  Despite what you just said, I know I don't look good right now.  Turnover, turnover, turnover.  The turn-around is almost here!  I am halfway done.

3-  That mile was a bit better.  But whatever I just drank from that aid station was not Gatorade.  That was sugar and water with some additional sugar.  Now, it's time to hurt.  Can I hurt and still run smooth at the same time?  I feel faster now.  Is that a tailwind?  If it is, we all earned it.  Legs feel good.

4-  Why do my legs feel good?  Did I not push hard enough?  Too late now.  I need to run faster.  What place am I in?  Nice, the downhill is here.  Wow, this hurts going downhill.  My QUADS!!!  Who made this course?  Finally, the finish...

Overall, this was a fun race.  I still wish that I would have done the triathlon, but it was really cool to finish the race with my whole family.  My dad, mom and sister did really well.  Especially, considering my sister just started biking a week ago and did it on a mountain bike.  My mom started about a month ago and did it on a hybrid.  My dad is getting faster with each race and is running better than ever.  Ryan had a great race too and rocked the swim!!!

Also, my awesome friend Mary did a great job to be there for all of us and embarrass us at the awards ceremony.

I did not quite have the race that I wanted, but I learned a lot about my current form.  I need to work on climbing, descending, and hills in general.  I think I have started to build up the power necessary to compete, but I still have much to learn in terms of handling and other bike skills.  I still ran pretty well and overall am happy with my fitness, but I am still far from where I want to be.

I will definitely do this one again next year and hope everyone else was able to enjoy this well run race.

Next year, I will Bring My Big Boys Pants too...

(2 mile run, 16.8 mile bike, 4.2 mile run)

Run 1:     12:04
T1:           0:52
Bike:       51:17
T2:           1:18
Run 2:      24:54
Overall:                     1:30:23-  1st AG, 2nd overall