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Race Report: NJ Devilman Half Lite 2015

The last time I raced the New Jersey Devilman Half Lite, it was a cold dreary morning. I vividly remember the “ice cream headache” I had gotten when I plunged my head into the cold, dark water of Cedar Lake. I ended up  with a decent result, but I remember thinking I would not be in any hurry to go back there again.

Well, turn the clocks ahead two years and now with a cold swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene ahead of me, I returned. This time armed with a new neoprene swim cap I was ready to tackle the 60 degree(F) black waters of Cedar Lake. I also figure an increased FTP and a couple Ironmans’ under belt, I could have a potential podium depending on who shows up that day. Hey, I did cut 30 minutes off my 70.3 PR last year.

Looking at last years results for my age group in this race, something under a 3:25 could get me a spot on a box of wood at the end of the day. My previous time was a 3:44 and looking at those times I could possibly shave off about 15-20 minutes altogether if I had a really good day. So I set out to do that.

Travel

I had booked a stay overnight at the Fairfield Inn in Millville, NJ as we did last time. It is a nice hotel and stashed out of the way in what appears to be a shopping mall that never came about. There are usually a lot of people staying there that are doing the race. We were not in a big hurry to get down to Millville this time, since there is not much to see except for strip malls and big box stores. From what I found there aren’t many restaurants with any healthy food either. Everything is chain restaurant junk food.  I think they have every fast food place imaginable. Sorry Quakertown, but I think they have you beat. The best option is probably the Kawa Thai Sushi restaurant.

So, we left later in the day and stopped in Manayunk at the Couch Tomato restaurant on Main St. It was really good. I had a Pistachio Pesto flat bread pizza that had baby arugula and a lemon aioli on it.  It was quite tasty.  Also, Arugula has a ton of Nitric Oxide in it, for a little cardiovascular boost.

We arrived at the hotel around 8pm and checked in. After settling in, I did my last minute race preparations, watched a little TV and then I was quickly off to dream land. I had a great nights sleep too. Last time I did this race I was so wound up I hardly slept at all. I surely do not get as anxious about races like I used to.

I recently read the book “Headspace for the Perfect Race: Create a Winning Athlete Mindset” by Carrie Barrett which had a tip about how to script out your entire pre-race morning plan in order to take some stress off of yourself. So, I created a script detailing everything I had to do, including brushing my teeth and going to the bathroom, and  how long it would take. Despite the constant ridicule of my anality by my wife, this took a huge amount of stress off of my morning. It was great. And my wife later admitted that she found it kind of helpful too since she could plan her morning “duties” without conflicting with me. It seems a bit extreme but I would really recommend it if you stress out on race mornings.

The breakfast at the Fairfield does not open until 6:30am, so if you are going to stick around for that you will be a little late to the race. They do have microwaves and fridges in the rooms which is great. I packed a frozen jar of my usual green smoothie this time and it was the perfect pre-race meal. My morning went smoothly and we were off to the race venue on time and with no stress. It was a gorgeous morning too. There were strutting gobblers(a male Wild Turkey) everywhere we looked on the way to the race.

I did not make the Saturday packet pickup so I had to get my race packet and get all my stickers on first thing. Piranha racing now has race tattoos for body marking so that takes a little more time on the part of the volunteers. Race number tattoos are better when you have mandatory day before packet pickup with more time to put them on.

I headed into transition and setup pretty quickly. Piranha also has marked tranistion spots which is SOOOO Awesome! It just makes things so much more organized and people aren’t cramming you into a little space like usual. Transition closes(7:30am) an hour before my wave start(8:30am), so after I set that up I have a whole hour to relax. I made one last port-a-john run and then I was good to go.

I ran into my Ironman blogger friend Shanna and her friend Amy while trying to locate my wife. I caught up a bit with them and then resumed my search for the wife. Turns out she migrated down to the lake with our friends Kim and Kiersten. Our friend Kim was also doing the race, so I met up with her shot the breeze until race start. Kim is preparing for her first Ironman at Lake Placid this year, so I have been trying to help her through the process. Nothing like the mystery of your first Ironman. Exciting!

We were both testing out our new neoprene race caps….Pretty hot huh?! 🙂

NJ Devilman 2015 Kim Swim Caps

Kim & I looking cool in our new neoprene swim caps. at NJ Devilman Half 2015

Swim

Before I knew it it was 8:30am and my wave was being called to the chilly 60 degree water of Cedar Lake. It wasn’t too bad after the initial rush of water into my wetsuit. My hands and feet could feel the coolness, but it wasn’t too bad. There were a bunch of guys in my wave and it was rather crowded in the small start area. It was only a minute or two before the announcer was yelling “GO!”

The swim start was brutal from the starting line to the first buoy. I mean it was arms, legs and bodies everywhere. I must have had two guys swim over top of me and I think I swam over a couple myself. If an Ironman mass start is worse than that I could not imagine it. About 2/3 of the way to the first buoy I got a mouthful of the scum water and starting choking on it . It was one of those chokes where you keep choking every time you breathe. I started breast-stroking until I could regain my composure again. I was talking myself back to calmness again and I was back on track by the time I reached the first buoy.

I quickly moved to the outside of the swim channel where there was open water after making the first turn. This allowed me to get back on my rhythm again. I then settled into a really nice stroke and just cruised through the swim. I checked my watch once after the first loop and I saw around 11 minutes. That is not too bad considering my choking incident. Now that the field had spread out I could really gain some speed. I really enjoyed the swim here this time. Before I knew it I was done both loops and heading for the aluminum stairway.

I checked my watch exiting the water and it read ~22 mins. So for a 0.8 mile swim that is around 1:36/100y pace which is really good for me. Also, my Garmin said my average stroke rate was around 70 strokes/min which is a little higher than what I have been typically doing in the pool. I have been really focusing this season on increasing my stroke rate to gain some more speed.

Unfortunately, the Devilman folks place the T1 timing mat at the entry into the tranistion area which is about a 1/4 mile away from the swim exit. This annoys me because it does not give an accurate representation of the swim. A quarter mile jog will really through off your swim metrics. I thought about it while jogging over there and hit the lap button on my Garmin halfway to the transition mat just so I could get more accurate swim stats.

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Swim Exit

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Swim Exit

Denise and Kiersten were standing right at the end of the exit plank as I ran by and gave them a thumbs up. I then heard Shanna a little further down the line and did the same. Considering the amount of fans at the race I had a good percentage of fan support! 🙂

Time: 0:24:26

T1

Transition went well. I skipped the socks for the bike and put them next to my run shoes. I purchased some spray on sunscreen this year, so I gave my shoulders and arms and good spray since they typically get baked on these races. I don’t usually wear tank-style shirts so my upper arms arm prime sun meat. The spray worked well.

Time: 0:01:44

Bike

The T1 exit contains the timing mat for the bike start and then there is a tenth of a mile jog with your bike to the mount area. Again, more transition time is added to your bike time. This kind of bugs me, can you tell?

This bike course is flat and fast. There was minimal winds this morning too, except for a very light breeze out of the North. This gave a little tailwind on the way out to the turnaround. Riding out at 20+ MPH you could hardly tell, but coming back was a little more noticeable.

Best Bike Split-NJ Devilman Half 2015

Best Bike Split-NJ Devilman Half 2015

NJ Devilman 2015 Best Bike Split Race Projection Details

I had peformed an race analysis for this event using Best Bike Splits web site. The site recommended that I maintain an average of about 213 watts over the course. I performed this using my last FTP test, which was done late last season. Probably not real accurate for my current level, but I never got around to doing one lately. So I ended up staying a little bit below that in the low 200’s. Regardless I was keeping a good clip and I was feeling really strong most of the way.

There was a lot of drafting going on in this race. There was one guy I was behind for a while that was going at my pace, but I tried to keep him about 4-10 bike lengths ahead of me. One guy came up beside me and told me stay behind him and he stay behind me. “Huh?!” I never had anyone do that before. I ended passing the guy ahead of me after he got too close and we hopscotched each other a few more times for the whole race. Eventually everyone spaced out and on the second loop I was one my own most of the time. I prefer that.

The 10 miles heading back was definitely a little more taxing on the legs. The North breeze was more of a headwind and it picked up as the morning progressed. I finished the first loop in about 43 minutes, which was a little faster than I had planned. I passed Denise and Kiersten at the turnaround and they were not even looking.

I finished a bottle of Skratch Labs hydration and nibbled on my chunks of Amrita bars the entire bike. I was starting to feel a bit full on the 2nd loop, so I cut back on the eating a bit. This isn’t an Ironman smorgasboard!

On the last 10 miles I was starting to question whether I went too hard on the bike. It is such a fast course that it is easy to get carried away. But, my legs were starting to feel a little crampy and taxed. Hmmm?

Training Peaks-Actual Bike Stats

Training Peaks-Actual Bike Stats

I finished the bike in around 1:51 at about 22.2 mph average speed. This was about 13 minutes faster than my previous attempt and over 2 mph faster. The average speed was probably a bit more than that due to the jog to/from transition to the bike mount/dismount area.  If you compare the actual ride stats to the Best Bike Split(BBS) race calculation, you can see that the projected time on BBS was 6 minutes slower and the power was 7-10 watts higher. A little off I’d say.

Would I have been better off at maybe around 1:55-6 and perhaps not feel as crampy in the legs? Most-likely.

Time: 1:51:26

T2

My second transition was pretty much business as usual. I took another spray of sunscreen on my shoulders and a shot in my face. I did close my eyes. It ended up burning a little so I had to use my towel to get if off my eyelids. I also had two Fuelbelt bottles, one filled with Skratch Labs hydration and another with some Perpetuem mix. I decided hydration was the more important of the two and I felt I was well fueled with my Amrita Bars, so I took the Skratch Labs hydration with me.

Time: 0:02:09

Run

I made my way across some ball fields and a driveway comprised of very loose sand onto the run course. My legs, particularly my quads, were feeling a little crampy from the start. It was like an octopus had its tentacles wrapped around my legs and it was squeezing. A sure sign I had pushed a little too hard on the bike. I stopped for a second while heading through the school parking lot to do a quick quad stretch, but when I did that I could also feel my hamstrings cramp up. So I pushed on. I have had this feeling before in the beginning of the run and I knew if I just pressed on, it would eventually go away.

I started out running about a 8:20/mi pace except for the 1st mile where I stopped to stretch. My plan was to run sub-8, so I was figuring the crampiness would wear off and I could pick it up a bit.

The majority of the out-and-back course runs across roads through very wide open farm fields except for the first mile that turns through some homes. The sun was starting to cook and there is no shade for relief. Fortunately, on the way out there was a slight headwind that helped to limit the heat. I dumped a cup of water over my head at each water stop to cool me down a bit.

I had my run shoes loosely tied in transition in order allow me to slip in them quickly. I knew I had to tighten them eventually, but I was putting it off as much as possible.  At around mile 3-4, my laces decided for me that I finally had to tie them and came loose.

Now that my laces were snug I could really kick it in now right. My legs were just not there yet. I had a few people pass me, but fortunately they were all younger age groups. I hadn’t seen many in my age group all day. Only 1 or maybe two on the bike too. EIther I was really doing well, or I was way behind.

I finally reached the turnaround point at 4.4 miles. Now there was a tailwind and it was really feeling hot. I saw a K-17 team Jersey coming towards which turned out to be Ashley Stumpp who is from my area and also did Ironman Lake Placid last year. I gave her a shout of encouragement and may have startled her a bit. She looked to be “in the zone!”

My run pace continued to decline during the second half. My crampy legs were still there, but were tolerable. The reprecussions of the heat and going a little too fast on the bike were taking their toll now. My pace slowed into the high 8’s now. I felt I was still keep a steady pace, but my watch indicated otherwise. Not my plan.

I passed a younger guy in the last mile, who asked if I knew Todd Hydock. He said “He wears that stuff too.” Presumably referring to my Amrita tri jersey.  I said I didn’t and he commented “that is probably why you are so fast!” I laughed and said “I am surely not fast!” Then after I was about 10 feet past him he picked up speed, past me and then slowed down in front of me. WTF?!

I then passed him again on the turn to the main road before turning into the school. I picked up my pace a bit so I would not have to deal with him again. I made the turn into the school, rounded the school and headed down the loose sand driveway to the ball fields to the finish line. My wife Denise and our friend Kiersten were there cheering as I past them. The younger guy I had previously passed twice, decided to make a last blast to the finish. Denise and Kiersten yelled to catch him and I just made a wave him by gesture. He wasn’t in my age group so I didn’t really care at that point.

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Run Finish

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Run Finish

A couple observations on the run…

As you can see from the run stats below, my heart rate continued to steadily increase over the run and was maxed out on the 2nd half. My HR was highest when my pace was actually slowing down. Surely a sign that the heat was effecting me. I haven’t really had to deal with much heat this season so far.

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Pace vs HR

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Pace vs HR

I always thought that the new Garmin Run Stats that come with their new HR monitor were a bit of a novelty. I happened to glance at these from my race and noticed a few things. My run cadence started dropping in the 2nd half of the run. My vertical oscillation, vertical movement while running, was higher on the 2nd half  and my ground contact time decreased. So I was apparently spending more time in the air than on the ground. That is most-likely not a good thing since my pace slowed and my HR was increasing. Perhaps something I should keep in mind when my run starts to faulter a bit.

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Stats

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Stats

Run Time: 1:16:46

Finish Time: 3:36:32

Post-Race

I crossed the finish line and headed right towards the race tent to get some shade. I was totally wiped out. I started feeling like I was on the verge of puking. Not sure if that was from just racing hard or something leftover from last weeks stomach bug, or maybe both. Denise and Kiersten came over and we started chatting a bit. Things starting to spin as I was talking to them. I decided I better sit down for a bit and eventually everything calmed down. I did end up getting a chill and some major goosebumps. Definitely some affects from the heat.

I think I left everything I had on the race course. Now I was wondering where I might have placed. I ventured over to the timing table to see. I finished 44th overall which was easy to figure out. Age group results were a little more difficult to figure out since the screen kept scrolling. I finally figured out that I was 5th in my age group. Technically, I was 6th, but the one guy in my AG was in the top 3 overall.

While I didn’t get a podium spot, I am still pretty happy about my result. Overall I gained 8-9 minutes over my previous attempt which is a decent improvement for a shorter race like this. Placement-wise I moved up 21 places in the overall standings from 65th in 2013 and 5 places in my age group(11th in 2013). I really did pushed my limits and now have a very good understanding of where those limits are right now.

That’s my only race before my “A” race at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, so it is back to hard training again. The biggest takeaway from this race is that I really need to concentrate on a mellow bike leg at IMCDA. I am talking 0.70-0.75 level intensity. I want to have a really good marathon leg and trying to push the bike under 6 hours would not be wise. I need to shoot for a 6:00-6:15 bike leg in order to have a great run.

I now definitely have a different perspective on the NJ Devilman race as what I had previously. I would defintitely consider doing it again. I learned a few things and feel like it was a good pre-cursor for IMCDA.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

A Really Off, Off-Season 2014

Well, I am back. This off-season has been pretty uneventful ever since I completed Timberman 70.3 back in August. We did take a trip to Italy back in September which I just finished posting yesterday. I have continued to train and I did complete the 180 mile City-to-Shore ride, but I have had more achievments on Untappd than on Strava this fall. With those acheivments comes a snug waistline and around 15 lbs extra weight above my racing weight I need to shed. The lowest point was the week of Thanksgiving where I literally did absolutely no training that week. Unheard of! Apparently I needed this little break and I am trying to listen to my body a bit. Keeping up that motivation for Ironman training after 3 years is not always an easy task. 2013-07-27-16.31.42.jpg

But, I am back in the swing again and I am getting geared up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene in June and the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in May. Other than that I have nothing else planned but hoping to do so late season local races. I was tossing around Ironman Maryland as well as Steelman. Still thinking that over.

PMC Chart 2014-12-22_16-16-10

Training Peaks PMC Chart 2014-12-22_16-16-10

The last couple weeks I have been back at it pretty steady and I am feeling pretty well. I seem to have carried over my endurance because I am go out run a half-marathon, swim an easy 3000 meters, or ride my bike for 3 hours  without issue. Given that I trying to focus more on developing some speed and power for this season. I still have a goal completing an Ironman in under 12 hours which I carried over from last season.

In the pool, I have started using a Finis Tempo Trainer.  I have a very low stroke rate and am pretty much a glider. With that my lack of ability to do flip turns my typical stroke rate shows up at around 56-58 spm(both arms) on my Garmin 910xt. That translates to around 2:00/100m which is not great. I typically swim around 1:46-7/100y in open water which basically washes out the need to turn. So my plan is to try to gradually increase my turnover rate in the pool to increase my pace. I know that when I get my strokes/min into the high 60’s or low 70’s I can get down to about 1:50/100m which equates to about a 1:40/100y. If I can work on maintaing that pace for IM swim it would be cut down to about 1:11 or so. Actually I would be happy to get to a 1:15, which is 2 min improvement over the last 2 years.

TrainerRoad Pain Cave Amrita

TrainerRoad Pain Cave

On the bike, I am back using TrainerRoad again through the Winter months. This software helped me make huge gains in the bike last year. I went from a 223 FTP to a 253 which is 13% increase. It really showed on the bike too, I cut about 15 minutes off my Lake Placid bike leg and I had a great ride at Timberman finishing well under 3 hours. I am doing the same training plan I used last off-season and am looking for 10% gain edging to maybe 275-280 FTP.

I need to generate some more speed on the run for sure, especially after a long bike. My goal would be to finish the IM Marathon portion in around 4:10, which equates to a 9:30/mi pace. So, this is my floor pace for all my longer(LSD) runs this season. Other than warm-ups, I am going to make this the slowest I can go or I will have to cut distance in order to maintain it. I know I can run the distances at 10+ pace, so now it is time to step back and take it up a notch. I also want to incorporate some longer brick runs off the bike. I seemed to suffer more after the first 6 miles during IM and I need to work that out. During the week I will continue the tempo and interval runs as I did before.

Getting back to racing weight will also be critical for all this to happen. I feel I have my race nutrition plan pretty solidified, which is anchored by my good old Amrita Bars, but my off-season nutrition needs some work. A few too many pizzas and IPA’s this year, so I will be cutting that all out come January 1st.

Here are a couple good articles that I recently read on off or base season training that provide a little different twist on the traditional approaches…

Reverse Periodisation by Coach Brett Sutton

How to Maximize Your Winter Base Training | TrainingPeaks.

20 Winter Triathlon Do’s and Don’ts by Endurance Nation

If any of you are on the Zwift beta program and you are looking to ride with someone let me know too.

So I hope to get some more posts going here very soon. I have a couple training excursions and some product comparisons and reviews coming up too which should be interesting. So if you have stuck around, I hope you will continue to read on. Thanks for reading.

 

NJ Devilman 2013 Race Recap

I’m On No Sleep, No Sleep!. You Don’t know What It’s Like In There…

Race morning did not get off to a good start. I hardly slept a wink the whole night and was tossing and turning trying not to look at the clock. I am not sure what if it was the large chai tea I had after dinner or just the excitement of the race. Maybe both. Regardless it was not a good way to start a race day. On top of that I had a pretty lame hotel breakfast of a bagel w/ almond butter and a Clif Bar. I had brought oatmeal, but forgot to bring a bowl to make it in. Duh!

I got dressed and packed up my gear, but didn’t give myself ample time for bib pickup and transition setup at the race. I really don’t know what I was thinking here. I should have gotten up earlier since I could not sleep anyway. On our twenty minute drive to the event we got behind some guy with and Endurance Multisport sticker that was going slower than shit. We had a line of cars behind us too. We feared passing him since we would probably ended up missing the turn and he obviously knew where he was going since he had obviously picked up his bib already.

We got there and I quickly proceeded to registration and got my bib, chip and swag(t-shirt). By the time I got to transition, I only had 10 minutes until transition closed. The thing that sucks was I had a whole hour to wait until I actually started racing. I just don’t get that! I managed to setup my transition spot and threw on my wetsuit pretty quickly and then it was down to the water to listen to the pre-race meeting, national anthemn and then watch the other waves start out.

The Big Chill

It was freaking cold and windy! The temp was around 43-45 deg F and the wind around 10MPH. I kept my sweatshirt on over my wetsuit and it was still chilly. Denise was anticipating me getting in the water so she could put my sweatshirt on over her DOWN jacket. We hung out waiting for my start for what seemed to be forever. I was a bit anxious to find out whether the water would be colder or warmer than what it was outside. As the previous waves started, the lifeguards were busy returning the many folks abandoning the race before the first turn buoy. Not sure if it was the cold or the muddy water at the start from everyone kicking it up. I did hear one girl say her wetsuit was too big for her and it was taking on too much water. She had never used it before…rookie mistake there.

Finally my wave(purple caps for men >40) was called. We were after the yellow caps and the pink caps. I made my way to the narrow aluminum ramp that took us into the water. It was not too bad really. The bottom of the lake was that really soft murky mud that just seems to hover over the bottom. That usually freaks me out, but it was actually kind of warm so I let my cold feet wallow in it with pleasure. I got into my spot a couple rows back from front and slightly to the right and before I knew it the race director was yelling “Go!” from the shore line. Yes, nothing fancy here like a start gun or cannon. He didn’t even have a bullhorn. The start was pretty typical craziness with feet, legs and bodies hitting you from every direction. The water was so thick with mud you could not see anything. It was total darkness in the water. Didn’t really bother me too much, but I could see how a newer triathlete could lose it. My face had started feeling a bit numb from either the coldness of the water or the cold air when breathing, not sure which. I did get used to it. The madness continued to the first turn and then slowly mellowed out until the second lap.

I kept burping the entire swim which was very annoying. Almost felt close to puking a couple times. Not sure what caused that: the bagel(which I don’t normally eat) or the caffeine-infused Clif Bar I ate. As I made my way onto the 2nd lap, I could see Denise standing on the shoreline and I gave her a quick wave with my right hand. I thought that was funny that I was waving during the swim. I settled into a nice rhythm during the second lap and before I knew it I was exiting the water onto the aluminum ramp. There were a few of us exiting at the same time and one guy in a yellow cap took the underwater railing right to the family jewels…Ouch! I looked at my watch and it read 23 minutes…nice! That caught Denise off-guard too since I told her 25-30 and she missed me again coming out of the water. I yelled to her as I went past and surprised the crap out of her.

The run to transition was pretty long and it tacked about 2 minutes onto my swim time. T1 went pretty quickly as I opted for no socks and wearing my bike shoes to the bike mount(as opposed to clipping them in and running barefeet). Another long run to the mount area and I quickly jumped on my bike and away. I was fearing the coldness on the bike with only a tri tank/singlet top and no socks but it wasn’t too bad. My toes were numb at this point so, the socks would not have made much difference anyway.

“Did You See The Size Of That Chicken??” 

I settled into a ~20 MPH pace on the bike which was feeling pretty good considering the stiff crosswinds. I found out later that the wind was around 10MPH at the start and increased to around 15MPH during the bike leg. Sometimes there were gusts that had to be worse. The course was 2 ~20 mile out-and-back sections. The 10 miles out was the worst wind-wise, but neither way was a cake walk. The course was extremely flat and if it wasn’t for the wind it could have been a mid-20 MPH average pace. I kept playing cat-and-mouse with one girl on the bike that was in severe need of a bike fitting. Her seat was way too high and her hips kept rocking up and down. It was amazing she could maintain that speed with such an aweful-looking pedal stroke. I would try to pass her and get far enough ahead of her that she would not pass me again, but eventually she would and then she seemed to slow down right after she passed me. I even took some time to ease up behind her just so I would not have to pass her again. Eventually she disappeared. Not sure if she got ahead of me or behind though.

The first loop of the bike course was pretty good. I was averaging about 200 watts on the bike and my legs were feeling pretty good at that point. The wind seemed to have increased towards the end of the first loop and the out portion of the second loop was tough. I could feel it in my legs and was wondering if I was going too hard. I was still pulling 200 watts but my speed had decreased a bit. I held it steady and figured I would easy spin when I got a few miles from the bike finish. There was a water bottle exchange at the turnaround and the girl out there handed me a water bottle that was still sealed. So I am trying to remove the cap and plastic from the bottle while I am riding. Kind of a pain.

On what I believe was the second loop, I was approaching a long dog-leg turn in the course where a police officer was blocking traffic from the side street. I had a slight tailwind so I was cruising around 22MPH when all-of-a-sudden came a cackling black mass 2-3 feet in front of my face. It was a freaking turkey! I never even saw it coming and it quickly put up out of the aerobars, which I needed. two hours in the aero position gets a little rough on the butt and lower back. The turkey came from the side of the road near the cop, so I am sure the officer had a bit of a laugh over that. So not only did the wind slow me down, but that turkey set me back another few seconds too. So much for the time I gained with my carbon fiber wheels and aero helmet.

“I can’t feel my toes! I don’t have any toes!”

I cruised into T2 and had a pretty good transition. I had a little trouble with my socks since I still could not feel my toes. Heading out of transition I made way across several baseball fields and then through very sand driveway gate. The sand was the really dry deep stuff that just kind of sucks you in, making you feel like you are going no where. I tried to avoid it as best I could, but it still sucked my momentum. Then we looped around the school and out the road. My wife was standing out by the driveway so we exchanged some quick comments as a breezed by. Then it was out some flat country roads on route to the ocean.

Time for a little jog...

Time for a little jog…

The run route wound through a quiet little neighborhood and then out some long flat roads flanked on both sides by some very low standing crops. No relief from the wind at all. And now the sun came out to heat us up a bit during the run. I did manage to get a little tailwind on the first half of the run which helped, although the way back I felt the business end of it. There was one small section of woods along the way the provided a little respite from the wind and sun, but it was less than a 1/4 mile and did not last long.

I managed to keep a 8:10min/mi pace on the way out and had aspirations of going under 8 on the way back. That actually ended up going the other way with the headwind. There was one guy a bit ahead of me in my age group which I could see stopping and stretching every so often. I was slowly gaining on him and had hoped I could pass him at some point. One guy came up to me and I stayed with him for a while and we chatted a bit. Slowly he crept away from me and the other guy in my age group must have collected himself since I never got close enough to pass. I tried to pick up the pace a bit in small intervals, but just could not maintain it for a long enough time.

When I hit the 1 mile-to-go aid station, I felt a bit of spark in my step as I knew I was almost there. The biggest thing in my head was being able to take a nap on the drive back home. I looked at my overall time on my Garmin for the first time and it read ~3:36(hrs). I was a bit surprised since my goal time was around 4:00(hrs). I had no idea how I was doing since this was the first I had looked at my overall time all day. I knew from the previous season that under 4 hours would put me in the top 10 of my age group, so I was pretty psyched about that. This helped my pick up the pace a little more now.

I made the turn into the school driveway and as I approached the school I ran up on another guy with the same age group number on his calf. I decided to run just behind him and wait until I got closer to the finish before I made the pass. If I went too early I might peter out and he could then overtake me again. As I ran with him I could tell he was running on fumes and as soon as we made the last turn around the school I went for it. I hit the soft sand again and I could hear someone coming up on me. Fortunately it was someone else in another age group. I hit the finish line at 3:44:12.

Are We There Yet?

I had totally forgotten about being sick the past few days and as soon as I stopped after crossing the finish line I started coughing! Ha…first time all day. I walked around with Denise for a bit to keep the blood from pooling in my legs. I checked out the food and the only thing I could eat was some veggie hoagie thing which looked lame with the hoagie roll. We decided to hit the Thai restaurant near our hotel instead. I also bumped into a guy that did the Troy Jacobson Lake Placid camp with me last year, so I chatted with him a bit. I then collected my stuff from transition and we made our way home. We stopped off at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting too and stocked up with some frozen, organic berries and other healthy things.

Overall, I think it was a good race in the fact that it showed my overall early-season fitness is good. I still have a long way to Lake Placid, but I think I am on the right track here. One more half-iron distance race at Rev3 Quassy to go and then it is all Ironman training from there on out. My training plan for next week is not skipping a beat either with a 13 hour week to follow. Fortunately I am feeling good post-race and I am recovering very quickly too. I will attribute that to the plant-based diet.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

 

Did I Achieve My 2012 Goals?

As 2012 comes to a close and we managed to survive the end of the world, I thought I should see if I achieved all of the goals I had set for the year. Looking down the list I realized that I only achieved 4 of the 8 goals.  This may seem to some like I did not fully accomplish what I set out to do. But, of the 4 I didn’t achieve, 2 of those came very close to achieving and the other 2 I did’t get worse. I think setting challenging goals is important for growth. I could threw down a bunch easily accomplished goals, but that really doesn’t help me grow. A little bit of “failure” is important to keep you improving. When I got to the point where everything is being achieved then it is time to do something else.

Run 9 min/mi or less pace for half-iron distance runs(8:30 for olympic dist).

Achieved. I had a 8:12min/mi pace for the Steelman 10k run and 9:02min/mi pace for the Muskoka half-ironman run. I am going to count this one pretty much a success since 2 secs/mi is close enough in my book and for the Olympic distance run I was well below the 8:30 pace I set.

Get down to 165 lbs.

Mostly achieved. The week before my A race I was down to 168.5 lbs, so technically I did not hit my goal weight. Sitting here 3 months after my last race and well into my off-season I am only 5 lbs heavier than I was going into my last race. My change in eating habits are fully ingrained now and maintaining a consistent weight has become a piece of cake. I am starting to ramp up training again so not having to dump 20 lbs right off the bat will get me off to a good start this coming season.

Weight Graph 12-21-2012

Consistent strength training and especially core work throughout the season.

Partially achieved. During the 1st nine months of the year I did not meet this goal at all. However the off-season has been a different story. I joined a local fitness center that set me up with a nice strength training plan and I have been consistently executing it 2-3 days a week. The only exception was the 2 weeks I was sick. I hope to keep this up for the next few months, but may taper down a bit as my training increases.

Maintain 20+ mph average speed for all races.

Not achieved. In order to achieve the 9 min/mi run pace for my Half-Iron distance race I really had to cut back on the bike speed. In addition, the Ironman Muskoka 70.3 bike course was an extremely challenging(it was either up or down) bike course which also cut into this goal a bit.

Decrease Transition times by 20%.

Not achieved. The only real “apples-to-apples” comparison I could do for this is looking at my Steelman transitions. As you can see from the table below(using seconds), I only improved by an average of 3%. It was an improvement, so that was good. My Steelman transitions are not horrible to begin with, so there isn’t much room from improvement anyway. I tried to compare both the half-Ironmans, but their transitions were so totally different it is impossible to put them on the same level. The big takeaway here is that I really didn’t have any major screw-ups in Muskoka so that is really what I was trying to accomplish here.

2011 2012 %Change
Steelman T1 117 115 -2%
Steelman T2 92 88 -4%
Cum Total 209 203 -3%
Miami Muskoka
T1 246 301 22%
T2 250 135 -46%

2:00 min/100 yds pace or less for swims.

Achieved. Paces for each of my 3 tri’s were 1:27, 1:57, and 1:45(per 100yds) so I can safely say I nailed this one. Even with a bad swim at Steelman I still managed to stay under 2:00 which is cool. My Ironman Muskoka swim was probably one of my best long swims ever. The Independence swim was so short that it was just an all out blast. I don’t think I could have maintained that pace another 2 feet! Swimming is really starting to gel for me and I really enjoy it now.

Dial-in on long course nutrition.

Achieved. I am really digging the real foods now as opposed to all the processed crap. I didn’t get that nasty feeling in my gut this year from all the gels and I feel good. I didn’t bonk at all and with increased sodium intake I am not cramping at all. This is something that I will continually try to dial in especially with a full Ironman coming.

Continue to Have Fun!

Achieved. 2012 was a great year and I think all the past years experience is really starting to sink in a bit. Endurance wise I have developed a ton of confidence for the upcoming season. I thoroughly enjoyed all the races this season I the half-Ironman distance doesn’t see as huge an obstacle as it did before. [singlepic id=137 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Revisiting My Goals for the 2012 Season…

imageI thought it would be a good time to review my goals for this season as I approach my  “B” and “A” races for the year. Although most of the work is behind me now and there isn’t a whole lot of time to do anything about these now, it is always good to see how I have done with these.

  1. Run 9 min/mi or less pace for half-iron distance runs(8:30 for olympic dist). – I think I have definitely increased my run pace with a good loss of weight and an increase in speed/tempo runs. A recent 5k during 100 degree heat , on a course that I usually run fairly slow on, produced one of my faster 5k times. I also feel like my average LSD run pace has increased as well. One of the keys to this will be holding back a little on the bike leg, which I will get to in a latter goal. Looking at my long runs(> 8 miles) for 2011 vs. 2012, I had run 166 miles for 27:48 hours in 2011 resulting in a 10:02 avg pace overall and in 2012 I have run 145 miles for 23:33 hours for a 9:45 avg pace. This improvement in my slow runs will hopefully translate into an improvement in this discipline. Not sure if I can get to 9:00min/mi but anything under 10 I will be very happy about.
  2. Get down to 165 lbs. – As of this writing, I am weighing in at a solid 169.0 lbs. While not the 165lbs of my goal weight, 4 lbs away is a pretty successful attempt at getting there. I was weighing upwards of 197lbs back in January of 2012, so a 32lb weight loss in 7 months is nothing to sneeze at. So, I just saved 4 lbs to feed off of during the 6 hours I will be racing on September 9th.  One other positive improvement has come along with this weight loss : a extremely healthy diet. I have now transitioned to a primarily plant-based diet in the last 2.5 months and am feeling the benefits of it. Despite the loss of weight I feel really good overall, my performance is increasing and (knock on wood) no injuries.

image

  1. Consistent strength training and especially core work throughout the season. This goal still needs some work next season as I prepare for Ironman Lake Placid. I did increase my strength training and core work, but it still leaves much more to be desired.
  2. Maintain 20+ mph average speed for all races. This one is up for debate. One thing I realized as I gained more experience, is that I need to keep my bike effort in check in order to save my legs for a good run off the bike. This may mean conceding to ride over 20MPH and depending on the course that may not be attainable under normal conditions. I did do a good amount of quality bike efforts and hill repeats throughout the season, so I do feel like I improved as a cyclist. The IMLP Training Camp surely demonstrated this in my ability to easily do the full IMLP Bike Course in 7 hrs and still have good legs during a brick run afterwards. We will see how this turns out on race day.
  3. Decrease Transition times by 20%. – I have been practicing my T1 bike mounts and trying to get the whole rubber-banding of my shoes dialed in to eliminate any more bad mount experiences(Ironman Miami 70.3 and Independence Sprint Triathlon). Think I have found a good pair of sockless running shoes with the New Balance Minimus Zero’s and have got them outfitted with a pair of Yankz laces for a superfast T2. If the Independence Sprint Triathlon I did earlier in the season is an indicator of this goal, I think I can say I have easily met it with a T1 time of 53 secs and a T2 time of 1:03 min. That was with a wetsuit too.
  4. 2:00 min/100 yds pace or less for swims. I am feeling very confident in this goal as well. My pace for the .25 mile swim during the Independence Sprint Triathlon was ~1:27/100 yds given the time of 6:23. Additionally, the two 30 min swims I did during the Troy Jacobson IMLP Training Camp produced swim distances of just over a mile both times. The pace for these were 1:39/100yds and 1:38/100yds respectively. Far and below the 2:00 pace of my goal. Granted not all races will not be wetsuit swims and have a Mirror Lake surface with a rope running 4 ft below the surface, but I do have some leeway here.
  5. Dial-in on long course nutrition. The IMLP Training Camp really helped with this goal. The ability to do a 7 hour ride and come off the bike with fresh, non-cramping legs was proof of this. One big breakthrough was the learning of my need for salt supplementation from Troy Jacobson to eliminate cramping, especially during warmer weather events. I am a big sweater and there is always a nice coating of salt that comes along with that(which is why my dog enjoys licking my legs when I get home from a long run or ride). During the 7 hour ride in Lake Placid I was constantly nibbling on salty corn/flaxseed chips(natural Doritos) and hydrating with Skratch Labs Hydration mix, which has a higher than normal sodium, potassium, and magnesium content.
  6. Continue to Have Fun! I am definitely still having fun and am enjoying this journey, so I would say this goal is still “in the bag!”

My third Steelman Triathlon(1 sprint, 2nd Olympic) will be this weekend. Despite a changed bike course it should be a close “apples-to-apples” comparison to last year and further indication of whether I have successfully met these goals or not. Regardless of the outcome, Meeting that last goal is ultimately the one that matters to me the most, because when it all boils down nobody cares about what the times you got. It is all about enjoying the journey and constantly seeking to “Find Your Greatness.”

Ironman Miami 70.3 Post-Race Review

Now that I have had a couple weeks to mull things over, it is a good time to review my first half-iron distance race as well as the entire season.

The Good…

First and foremost, I completed my first half-Ironman distance triathlon! That was the primary goal of the season and I was able to accomplish that even despite being setback from the original race(Pocono!). This is a big step towards my ultimate goal and it provides me with some good experience for improving. I started this triathlon journey 4 years ago and I really wasn’t sure if I would ever get this far.

Swimming is not my weakest discipline anymore. I only started competitively/properly swimming 4 years ago. The first time I swam I went 25 yards with my head above the water and I was wiped out. Now, I can swim at least a mile and a half non-stop and am still able to bike and run afterwards. I am actually beginning to really enjoy the swim. I still have a large amount of improving to do, but it is not so scary anymore.

My nutrition went fairly well I thought. One of the biggest unknowns for me was how the feeding would be on my first half-iron distance race. I think I did pretty well. I was actually kind of full at the end, but that could have been from the cola I had at the last 3 rest stops. The summary of my feeding…

Discipline Feeding
Swim Hydrate before and Bar
T1 Shotblocks ready to eat on bike
Bike 5 Gels taped to bike, ate 3
2 1/2 bananas at aid station
4 bottles of water
T2 Shot Blocks ready to eat for start of run
Run water at each rest stop, occasional gatorade
Cola at last 3 rest stops.

The Things That Could Be Better…

The run was very slow. 2:19 half-marathon was much slower than I anticipated. Running 10-11 min/mile pace is too slow to be competitive. When I was running I was thinking my legs would cramp up if I tried to run faster, but now I am wondering if that was just my mind trying to make things easy on me and not push the pain barrier too much. I know I wanted to finish, which was a top priority. I accomplished that, but next time I need to push the limits a bit more. In addition, knowing how I felt it gives me something to really work on. I have run a half-marathon by itself at ~8:00 min/mi pace(1:47) so I think I could get a little closer to 2:00 in a half-iron distance. I also suffered during the run at the Steelman olympic too, so that seems to be my downfall.

Transitions could be quicker. Both T1 and T2 at Miami were ~4:00. I should be able to get down to around 2:00 each. The lack of adequate space really messed me up cause I had to run around the rack to get my bike. Also putting socks on wet feet takes a minute too. I have to admit I wasn’t really trying to break any record times there, so with a little more effort I can definitely pair them down.

My bike time was much slower than I anticipated for such a flat course, but taking into consideration wind, weather and conditions I don’t think an average of 19.2 mph over 56 miles is that bad. Have I ever actually gone that fast that far before? NO! The wind was usually always a head or cross wind at ~10 MPH, so without that I could have been 22-23(maybe?). Regardless, would like to increase my speed and endurance more so my legs are not so crampy next season.

Goals For Next Season

The following items are the things I need to work on and improve for next season…

  1. Run 9 min/mi or less pace for half-iron distance runs(8:30 for olympic dist). This will require some more speed work and some more brick workouts. For my LSD runs, inject some short tempo work into the mix. Not too much that I get injured.
  2. Get down to 165 lbs. I competed this entire season at ~185lbs, which I think is a little too much. I was around 170-175 for the 2010 season and I felt much better and was more competitive at that weight. Getting down to 165 will be tough but I think that 20 lbs will make a huge difference.
  3. Consistent strength training and especially core work throughout the season. Development of core and strength will aid in keeping together for 70.3 miles and especially in the run when keeping an upright posture is essential. This will need to start in the offseason building a good base and habit of basic strength training and continue into the tri season. Tri season will taper a bit due to time constraints.
  4. Maintain 20+ mph average speed for all races. Granted this will depend on the course and conditions, but moving out of the teens should not be out-of-range for even the most difficult races. Need to do more hill repeats this season too. Could probably look into an aero helmet to gain a little edge there as well.
  5. Decrease Transition times by 20%. This is just dialing in my transition times a bit more. Getting sockless running shoes will make a big difference here. Always room to fine tune things.
  6. 2:00 min/100 yds pace or less for swims. This should easily be accomplished by continuing to work on swim form and putting the time in the pool and open water swims. Swim leg is the shortest so no need to make any huge changes here.
  7. Dial-in on long course nutrition. Try out some different nutrition on long bikes and runs. I.e. Accelerade. Gels and shot blocks worked pretty good, but it seemed like so much sugar for my stomach. A calorie packed drink mix may be a good addition.
  8. Continue to Have Fun! Remember what this journey is all about and if you are not enjoying it than it is time to rethink things. Make sure that along with this I need to keep a balance with other things in my life. If I don’t finish smiling, then this goal is not being met. Smile